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Jiang Cheng and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Wedding

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“He proposed?” Jiang Cheng chokes, wiping the spilled broth from his chin. He grimaces at the excess noodles on his shirt. Some part of him is surprised that his reaction is this… mediocre. Knowing Wei Ying, anything he does usually ends up with Jiang Cheng growing another grey strand of hair and more wrinkles; but then again, knowing Wei Ying, he really isn’t really surprised at anything anymore at this point. “Already? You’ve only been dating for six months.”

 

Wei Ying shrugs bashfully, laughing as carefree as he always does. He drapes himself over the coffee table lazily, his gaze softening as he twirls the silver ring around his finger.

 

“But we’ve known each other since middle school,” he says.

 

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes, turning his attention back to his noodle broth. He tries to vent some of his muted bitterness by stabbing at the meat. “Then you fucked off to who knows where in China. And now you come back after like, a decade, and get married a year and a half after that?”

 

Wei Ying frowns at him. “Yunmeng. And it’s fine! You act as if I’m giving my life away.”

 

Jiang Cheng stops slurping mid-noodle and gives him a look.

 

“And, for the record, I would gladly give my life away to Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying proclaims. “I mean, I already gave away my virg—”

 

Okay, fuck,” Jiang Cheng groans, soothing his forehead with two of his fingers. “I don’t care about how you two were each other’s firsts or some cheesy shit like that. This is marriage we’re talking about.”

 

“I love him,” Wei Ying says. The tips of his lips deepen as he continues to play with the ring on his finger, his own noodle broth long forgotten. “I thought you would be happier for me.”

 

“I—” Jiang Cheng sighs. He pauses, placing down his chopsticks. “I am happy for you. You’re my brother, I’m morally obligated to be happy for you.” He playfully punches Wei Ying’s shoulder as the other lets out a light laugh. “I’m just… Aren’t you moving a bit too fast?”

 

Wei Ying smiles. “I said yes to Lan Zhan’s proposal because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. If any problems happen to come up, well…” He thinks for a solid half a second (which is a record; Jiang Cheng’s keeping track) before flashing Jiang Cheng a wide smile. “We’ll think about it when we get there!”

 

Again, not surprised.

 

“Ugh, whatever. You never change.” Jiang Cheng sighs. Concluding that it would be pointless to continue eating the noodle dish now that they’ve settled on this specific topic, he pushes the bowl away to lean back on his hands, feeling the carpet itch at his fingers. “What’s the wedding going to be like?”

 

Wei Ying straightens his back, sitting up in an almost contemplative manner. “Well, Lan Zhan’s family probably wants it to be super formal and traditional.”

 

Oh. That’s a… shock.

 

Wei Wuxian having a formal and traditional wedding is a contradiction in itself. The Lan Family’s weddings are meticulous, extravagant, and conventional, and Wei Ying… is not. In fact, imagining Wei Ying in one of those traditional white garments (“mourning clothes”  Wei Ying called them—even more proof of their paradoxy) is so incomprehensible, Jiang Cheng can’t imagine the wedding even possible.

 

“What?” Jiang Cheng asks upon seeing Wei Ying absentmindedly blow bubbles into his drink. “Did Lan Wangji tell you that?”

 

“Well, no.” Wei Ying frowns. “But you know how I was in middle school. They hated me. And this is Lan Zhan’s wedding, too. I want him to love it just as much as I do.”

 

“You don’t sound like you love it too much yourself.” Of course he wouldn’t, this is Wei Wuxian they’re talking about: renowned deviant infamous for bringing trouble wherever he goes (okay, maybe it’s not that drastic—Wei Ying is only a pediatric surgeon after all—but it’s an absolute in Jiang Cheng’s case).

 

“It’s his family, Jiang Cheng.”

 

“It’s your  wedding, dumbass.”

 

“It’s just…” Wei Ying places his chin into his hand. He has that expression on his face again—the one where his eyebrows draw in on themselves, and one side of his lips tip downward in a sort of distorted frown—an expression Jiang Cheng only sees in rare moments of vulnerability when the situation is stressful enough for Wei Ying to actually confide in him—or anyone at that. “I want them to… accept me. And accept that I’m good enough for Lan Zhan.”

 

Jiang Cheng doesn’t respond immediately. The question of worth has never been something Wei Ying has brought up in the past, nor has he ever voiced out having struggles with it. Jiang Cheng doesn’t even know if he had. But the unspoken truth still lingers in the living room of his apartment, and there’s only one effective way to deal with it—Jiang Cheng knows from experience.

 

“In middle school, Lan Wangji literally gave up his honors diploma and scholarship just so you wouldn’t get expelled. You think he cares about how the wedding is planned?” He finally says, deciding to reprimand him in a joking manner. He can’t say he’s any good at it since Wei Ying was usually the one to do that to him in the past.

 

Wei Ying immediately groans and flails, before grabbing a pillow nearby, hugging it to his chest, and plopping on his back. “But those were rules, Jiang Cheng. This is family tradition! I’m going to marry into his family, shouldn’t I play the part?”

 

“We’re sitting on the floor of my living room in our pajamas eating instant ramen. Neither of us has taken a shower yet and we both smell like the devil’s asshole. And yet I’m sure Lan Wangji would still carry you out of here and off to the sunset.”

 

Wei Ying belts out a laugh, and Jiang Cheng is just relieved to know he doesn’t have to witness any more of Wei Ying’s exaggerated agony. “Just watch that actually be how our wedding goes.”

 

“Lan Wangji would marry you in a pig pen covered in mud,” Jiang Cheng says, blocking a pillow coming his way.

 

Stop! Don’t jinx it!”

 

Wei Ying dodges a pillow that Jiang Cheng throws back at him, before laughing and rolling over, directing his attention toward scrolling through the three social media apps he owns.

 

“Hey, don’t post anything about this online,” Jiang Cheng warns before Wei Ying can angle his phone for the perfect selfie. “It’s not good for my image.”

 

Wei Ying scoffs at him. “No one would care about your flower pajamas, Jiang Cheng.”

 

“They’re lotus flowers, you asshole.”

 

Wei Ying, his twenty-five-year-old adoptive brother, sticks his tongue out at him.

 

Jiang Cheng just picks his chopsticks back up to slurp his noodles. It’s cold and soggy now, but at least it worked.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji’s relationship was something no one saw coming—well, maybe Lan Xichen, but everyone basically regards him as an omniscient, pansophical being at this point.

 

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji did not have a good relationship in middle school. It was a mixture of colors: bright yellow from the playfulness of Wei Ying blended with the deep hue of blue from Lan Wangji’s seriousness; from Wei Ying’s mischievous red to Lan Wangji’s honorable orange; dark crimson flowing from Wei Ying’s enticement fusing with the olive green of Lan Wangji’s skepticism to create a new shade of caramel that encompassed all the colors of their relationship.

 

Their relationship was well known, yet never thought out. No one stopped to think, why are they always together despite their endless fights? Or why doesn’t Lan Wangji ever report Wei Wuxian to the principal’s office? Or why does Wei Wuxian even like hanging around Lan Wangji?

 

No one realized how deep their relationship ran; therefore, no one understood why Lan Wangji suddenly became distraught and distant when, nearing the end of high school, Wei Wuxian suddenly decided to study abroad in China in a town no one’s even heard of.

 

Wei Ying missed all of their anticipated college experiences. They never attended the same college, like they childishly swore they would in their younger days. He missed his sister’s wedding. He missed the birth of his nephew. He missed the congratulatory party for Jiang Cheng’s grab at a government official’s position. Wei Ying missed everything and Jiang Cheng couldn’t manage to recollect if Wei Ying had told him anything in return.

 

But, like a pest that wouldn’t go away, he came back after five years. Almost a different person. Almost a different face. Different personality yet same mannerisms. Different expressions yet same smile.

 

Then, staying true to his title, his first day as a newly transferred pediatric surgeon led to an unexpected death that wasn’t Wei Ying’s fault, yet eventually led to a lawsuit, which then inevitably led to the fateful reunion of Wei Wuxian and his old high school classmate and known antagonizer, Lan Wangji of the Lan Law Firm.

 

“By the way,” Wei Ying says after a while. He’s been laying on the floor with his eyes closed, long enough for Jiang Cheng to consider if he took a short nap. Not that it would have been something new. “We’re going to go pick out tuxes this Saturday.”

 

Jiang Cheng looks at him. “Huh?” he asks through a mouthful of noodles.

 

Wei Ying sits up. “I mean, you’re my best man, and best man duties include wedding planning and tuxedo searching, which basically means you gotta come with me everywhere.”

 

Jiang Cheng chokes the for the second time that day.

 


 

“I don't understand why you're so bitter, Jiang Cheng,” Wei Ying says, his voice slightly muffled from where it projects behind a curtain. His head pokes out, a sly smirk on his face. “Oh? Wait, could it be that you wanted me to ask you to be best man like the true, repressed romantic you ar—ow!

 

Jiang Cheng chucks a pillow at his face from where he sits on a bench in the fitting room. “No. It’s because you didn’t ask me and assumed that I would be your best man. And also you’re forcing me to go with you everywhere doing these stupid things.”

 

“Those stupid things include picking out a tux, not just for me, but you too, Jiang Cheng, but I don’t see you looking around.”

 

“I work for the government, I have plenty of suits.”

 

Wei Ying cries loudly, “Oh, those poor souls!”

 

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. He suppresses a yawn and takes a glance at his watch. And he thought being dragged out of bed at seven in the morning on a Saturday was the most merciless thing that could happen to a human being, yet being dragged out of bed at seven in the morning on a Saturday to go tuxedo shopping with Wei Wuxian was debatably worse.

 

“Jiang Cheng, do you think this is formal enough?”

 

“Jiang Cheng, what about this? No? Too out there?”

 

“Jiang Cheng, you think Lan Zhan’s family will like this one?”

 

Wei Ying steps out from the fitting room, twisting and turning in front of the mirrors, a dissatisfied expression on his face. He plays with the cuffs and sighs. He cranes his neck to look at the collar and sighs. He fixes the buttons and sighs. In the end, Wei Ying’s shoulders drag, finally deciding to return to the fitting room.

 

Jiang Cheng frowns. “I thought you already had a dream tux picked out since we were like, thirteen or whatever.”

 

“The bright red tux with black polka dots? That one?” Wei Ying laughs. “Do you think Lan Qiren would even bare to look at me if I put that on?”

 

“It was very… you,” Jiang Cheng says.

 

“Knowing you, I can’t tell if that was a compliment or an insult.”

 

“Since you think it could be an insult, it’s probably that.”

 

“Don’t be mean! I’m trying to change, okay.”

 

Jiang Cheng scoffs. “For who? Lan Wangji’s family? Since when did you care about the validation of others?”

 

Wei Ying pokes his head out again, a defiant expression on his face. “Since I decided to marry Lan Zhan.”

 

Jiang Cheng crosses his arms. “You said the same thing earlier this week. What’s up with that?”

 

“What’s up with what?”

 

Jiang Cheng gives him a look, and Wei Ying chooses to run away by retreating back behind the curtain.

 

“Haven’t you been listening to me?” Wei Ying playfully asks, not-very-subtly sidetracking the conversation with another one of his jokes. “Are you finally old enough to need hearing aids? Do I have to repeat myself, Mr. Jiang?”

 

“I want you to repeat it so you can hear how stupid you sound for yourself.”

 

Wei Ying gasps and this time appears from the fitting room with another tux on, hands on his hips and a pout on his face. “Is it so bad that I want to impress my husband’s family?”

 

“You’re not trying to impress, you’re trying to… fit in.” Jiang Cheng’s frown deepens. “Be accepted.”

 

“I want them to accept me.”

 

“At this rate, they’re not going to be accepting you, they’re going to be accepting whatever facade you put on on your wedding day.”

 

Wei Ying turns toward the mirror. “What do you think of this one, Jiang Cheng?”

 

“Don’t change the subject.”

 

Wei Ying opens his mouth to retort, but instead sighs. He stares at his reflection with down-casted eyes, gently fumbling with the buttons of his suit.

 

“It’s just one day,” he says. “I only have to endure it for one day, and then after that, it’ll only be me and him.”

 

“It’s not just one day,” Jiang Cheng retorts. “It’s your wedding day.”

 

“Which makes it all the more important!” Wei Ying spins to face him again. “All I have to do is say ‘Yes, Sir’ or ‘Yes, Ma’am’ and ‘Oh, yes, that is a wonderful tuxedo, Lan Qiren, it really brings out your eyes’.” Wei Ying lets out a laugh when Jiang Cheng scoffs at him. “Besides, I’m not trying to fit in, I’m just… changing the way I do things for a while.”

 

“For ‘a while’ as in whenever you happen to see Lan Qiren ever,” Jiang Cheng corrects.

 

Wei Ying smiles bashfully, but the tips of his eyebrows arch upward just the slightest bit. “Yep!”

 

Jiang Cheng stares disapprovingly at him. Then, looking at his outfit, points out, “The cuffs are a bit too short.”

 


 

Jiang Cheng works as a very important person for a very important position for the very important government. That being said, his life schedule is full of “when’s” and “where’s”. When is the next meeting? When is the due date for this document? Where is the meeting place? Where is the superior’s office?

 

It’s the same schedule every single week, every single month, for every single year; therefore, it’s crucial for him to maintain a weekly schedule he never strays from in order to preserve his organized and punctual skill set.

 

Which is why he’s here, at his older sister’s house, enjoying his weekend tea party with her family as they talk about the many different events going on with their lives.

 

“Oh, it looks like you’re out of tea again, A-Cheng,” Jiang Yanli observes. She turns toward Jin Ling, who’s been distractedly playing with his toy transformer, and pats him on the shoulder. “A-Ling, won’t you be a dear and refill his cup?”

 

Jin Ling gasps at Jiang Cheng’s cup like it had just offended his mother. He scrambles off his seat, waddling toward Jiang Cheng, but not before remembering to actually bring the teapot. Jiang Cheng bends down to his height and extends his cup, playing along as Jin Ling pours into it imaginary tea. Jiang Cheng only knows he’s done pouring when Jin Ling stops making a gurgling noise with his mouth.

 

“Thank you, A-Ling,” he says, despite never taking a sip out of the teacup in the first place. “You’re a very good host.”

 

Jin Ling blushes, running to hide into his mother’s side with his hands splayed over his face.

 

“I heard you went shopping with A-Xian yesterday,” Jiang Yanli says.

 

Jiang Cheng freezes in the middle of taking an imaginary sip from his teacup. “Where’d you hear that from?”

 

“Wei Wuxian likes to post on Facebook a lot,” Jin Zixuan supplies, wiping some snot from Jin Ling’s nose. Whether that was a complaint or a mere observation is honestly lost on Jiang Cheng.

 

“He wouldn’t say where he was shopping at,” Jiang Yanli adds, “but it’s always so nice to see you two hanging out together again.”

 

“He hasn’t told you yet?” Jiang Cheng asks, a hint of disbelief edging on his tone. He had assumed that Jiang Yanli was the first person Wei Ying would have told the engagement about. Something like pride swirls in Jiang Cheng's chest before he pushes it down. He inwardly scoffs, mentally reprimanding himself at his one-sided competition with his older sister.

 

His sister gives him a questioning look, but before she can ask, the epic, dramatic sound of their doorbell rings through the air.

 

Props of living in a rich mansion, Jiang Cheng—who still is not bitter about the fact that his sister married the biggest asshole of their childhood—thinks. Jin Ling raises his head in anticipation and dashes for the front door as fast as his tiny legs can take him. Jiang Yanli excuses herself to chase after him, which wouldn’t normally bother Jiang Cheng, if only it didn’t leave him alone with Jin Zixuan.

 

“So,” Jin Zixuan says immediately after his wife leaves, “flower pajamas, huh.”

 

Listen,” Jiang Cheng starts, a blooming red spreading on his face, but before he could rightfully justify his sleepwear with context and personal preference and placing the blame on someone else, the voice of that someone else just happened to echo louder than the doorbell itself.

 

“A-jie!”

 

Jiang Cheng hears the erratic shuffling of feet, shoes probably being thrown off and tossed away, hurried steps coming in their direction, and lo and behold, Wei Ying makes his appearance with Jin Ling hanging off his legs, Lan Wangji following closely after.

 

“Aw, what’s this? You guys were playing tea party with one of those plastic kids’ tables?” Wei Ying laughs, pulling up another too-tiny-for-a-bunch-of-people-in-their-twenties plastic chair, but not before gesturing Lan Wangji to pull up one as well. It surprises Jiang Cheng when Lan Wangji actually does without question nor hesitation.

 

It also causes Jiang Cheng to cringe as he notices Lan Wangji inconspicuously struggling to fit his knees under the low-level table. He tries his best to ignore how uneven the table is now.

 

Jin Ling, now hanging onto Wei Ying’s shoulders, pulls on his sleeves to get his attention, shoving a teacup in his face. Wei Ying laughs, accepting it and taking a sip.

 

Jin Ling frowns. “There’s nothing in there yet.”

 

“Ah! Nothing? But I definitely drank something.” Wei Ying gasps. He leans closer to Jin Ling as if he just uncovered the biggest scandal in modern history. “Could it be that someone else here tried to poison me through invisible tea?”

 

Jin Ling’s eyes widen, staring at the adults around him. Jiang Cheng is actually surprised that Jin Ling actually knows what poison means. 

 

Wei Ying hugs Jin Ling in his arms, protecting him from the evils of the world. “It must have been…” He whips his head at the only other poor soul in the room. “Jiang Cheng!”

 

“What?” Jiang Cheng says, already sick of it.

 

“Jiang Cheng, you were the only who didn’t greet us at the door!”

 

“What are you talking about? Jin Zixuan is right ther—”

 

“That means you were the only one who could’ve had time to poison my tea!”

 

“Your boyfriend is literally a lawyer. I could have him sue you for slander,” Jiang Cheng warns.

 

“Not guilty,” Lan Wangji says.

 

Wei Ying gasps and throws himself over Lan Wangji, swooning in his arms. “Oh, Lan Zhan! Who knew you were such a romantic!”

 

No!” Jin Ling cries, his eyes wet. Jiang Cheng thinks he’s going to cry about his favorite uncle being taken away by someone else until Jin Ling runs over to Jiang Cheng and clutches onto his arm. Jiang Cheng tries not to swoon.“Uncle Jiang’s not guilty!”

 

Wei Ying’s eyes brighten. “Oh? A-Ling, does this mean you’re going to be Uncle Jiang’s lawyer?”

 

Jin Ling nods his head tearfully.

 

“Do you even know what a lawyer is?”

 

Jin Ling shakes his head tearfully.

 

Wei Ying finally belts out a rambunctious laugh, grabbing onto his stomach as he leans on Lan Wangji for support (who is also loyally playing the part of tea party participant, seeing as how he’s been occasionally taking sips of imaginary tea this whole time).

 

Jin Zixuan frowns at him. “Your humor always goes way over his head. Look, he’s crying again.”

 

“Yet, no matter how many times you make him cry, he always comes running back to you,” Jiang Yanli adds as she returns with a plate of actual tea, gradually going around the table to give everyone refreshments they can actually enjoy. “He has fun once he gets past the tears.”

 

“Jin Zixuan, you’re just no fun,” Wei Ying retorts from where his head lays on Lan Wangji’s shoulder. “That’s what happens when you live a spoiled life in a rich mansion like this. I’m just trying to humanize him.”

 

Jin Zixuan sighs into his teacup. “This tea party has become chaotic.”

 

“Stop trying to act sophisticated. There’s not even anything in your cup yet.”

 

A vein pops out in Jin Zixuan’s forehead, a deep blush forming as he clutches the handle of his teacup until his knuckles turn white.

 

“Okay, stop fighting,” Jiang Yanli intervenes. She sits back down, places a soothing hand on her husband’s and extends her other towards Jin Ling. “A-Ling, come here.”

 

Jin Ling shakes his head, still wiping his tears and snot on Jiang Cheng’s shoulder. Jiang Cheng tries not to recall the price of the shirt. “No! Uncle Jiang’s not guilty!”

 

“Yes, yes. We know he’s not guilty because Uncle Xian is still okay and smiling, isn’t he?”

 

Jin Ling peeks out from Jiang Cheng’s arm to sneak a look at Wei Ying. Wei Ying flashes a smile back at him. Jin Ling sniffles at the sight, but eventually calms and sits back down in his seat, continuing to play with his toy samurai as if nothing ever happened.

 

“So, A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli starts. “You don’t usually visit us at Jin Manor that often. What’s the occasion?”

 

Wei Ying claps his hands together.

 

“I’m so glad you asked, Shijie!” He takes a hold of Lan Wangji’s hand and intertwines their fingers, letting the glint of their two rings shine. Lan Wangji also gives them a soft smile. “We’re getting married!”

 

Jiang Yanli gasps, hands covering her mouth, and Jiang Cheng thinks she’s going to start crying. “That’s wonderful! Who proposed?”

 

“Well, technically, Lan Zhan did. But get this! We were thinking about what to get for dinner but we couldn’t decide, so I said, ‘Lan Zhan! Why don’t you marry me so you can eat me out?’—”

 

“Oh my god,” Jiang Cheng mutters.

 

Jin Zixuan covers Jin Ling’s ears, who obliviously plays with his toy transformer.

 

“—But obviously, I was joking, not because I didn’t want to get married, but because we don’t need to get married to eat each other out—”

 

At points like these, Jiang Cheng really wonders why his family adopted Wei Wuxian.

 

“—But then when I turned around, Lan Zhan was already on his knees with the ring out! Of course, I said yes, and right after I said, ‘Well, Lan Zhan, I guess it’s time for me to get on my knees and—’”

 

Okay, we get it,” Jiang Cheng forces out.

 

“A-Xian! That’s so romantic!” Jiang Yanli cries, wiping a stray tear that fell across her cheek. Jin Zixuan looks at his wife and pathetically plays along, shaking his head in—what looks like—a painful manner. Jiang Cheng isn't even surprised at this point anymore.

 

“Right?” Wei Ying wraps his arms around Lan Wangji, who welcomes it with a reciprocating arm around his waist. “I actually wanted you to be the first one to know, but since I was so excited for picking out tuxes, I had to tell Jiang Cheng to get his help!”

 

“Oh,” Jiang Cheng says, frowning.

 

“Don’t worry, Jiang Cheng! You still would’ve been the fifth person I would have told.”

 

“Hold on, the fifth?”

 

“Anyway—”

 

“Hey, hang on a second, asshole—”

 

“Don’t curse in front of Jin Ling,” Jin Zixuan scolds.

 

Jiang Cheng really wonders how his social life ended up being like this.

 

Jin Ling, upon becoming bored with his toy samurai, pushes his seat away from the table and finds his way to Lan Wangji, tugging on his finger.

 

“I’m bored,” he announces, like that’s supposed to explain everything.

 

Lan Wangji glances at Wei Ying as if he doesn’t know what to do, but after Wei Ying’s supportive smile, he looks back down at Jin Ling. “What do you want me to do?”

 

“Chase me!” Jin Ling screams, before taking off and dashing away.

 

Lan Wangji merely looks at his retreating figure, not moving an inch.

 

Wei Ying shoves his shoulder. “Come on, Lan Zhan, you used to chase me all the time back in middle school.”

 

The corner of Lan Wangji's lips twist upward ever so slightly, but stands up nonetheless, calming walking after Jin Ling. A few seconds later, Jin Ling’s excited scream can be heard all the way from the living room.

 

“Have you told Mother and Father yet?” Jiang Yanli asks, directing the conversation back to the topic at hand.

 

Wei Ying scratches his chin. “Uncle Jiang was happy about it.”

 

“And Mother?”

 

“More happy about the fact that I’m finally getting married off.” Wei Ying laughs. “Though she did start ranting about how Jiang Cheng was still all alone—

 

“Okay, that’s enough out of you,” Jiang Cheng cuts off. “What about Lan Wangji’s family?”

 

Wei Ying’s smile falters.

 

Ah.

 

“Dear, could you refill our tea?” Jiang Yanli asks her husband. Jin Zixuan immediately stands, grabbing the plate as he runs a comforting hand on her back.

 

When the door closes, Jiang Yanli asks, “What’s wrong, A-Xian?”

 

“We haven’t told Lan Zhan’s family yet,” Wei Ying says slowly. “I have been… stalling.”

 

“You?” Jiang Cheng asks incredulously. “You’re never the one to stall.”

 

“I know, I know,” Wei Ying drones out, his face in his hands. “I’ve just been—I don’t know.”

 

“Could it be that you are,” Jiang Yanli tentatively asks, “afraid of the reaction you might get?”

 

“What if they really don’t approve of me?” Wei Ying bursts out. “What if they make Lan Zhan break off the marriage?”

 

“I’m sure Lan Wangji would never do that,” Jiang Yanli affirms, a comforting hand on his shoulder. “He’s a very honorable and honest person.”

 

“I know, he’s the best, but just… what if?”

 

“Do you really think that lowly of Lan Wangji that he would just up and leave you just because his uncle said so?” Jiang Cheng snaps.

 

Wei Ying frowns, eyebrows furrowed. “Of course not—”

 

“Do you really doubt his love for you enough to even think about him leaving you?”

 

“A-Cheng,” Jiang Yanli warns.

 

No, I don't. You know I don't, Jiang Cheng!” Wei Ying vows.

 

“Then, you’re worried about the wrong thing. This is about you being ‘accepted’ into the Lan Family, isn’t it?” Jiang Cheng asks.

 

Wei Ying groans. “Look, they’re prestigious and distinguished and I really don’t want to mess this up.”

 

“Wei Ying, I say this in the best way possible, but there is no way you can’t not fuck this up,” Jiang Cheng states. Wei Ying frowns at him, blinking in surprise in an offended manner, but Jiang Cheng shrugs. “It’s just in your personality. If they can’t accept it, then that’s that. You shouldn’t wager your marriage with Lan Wangji on the possibility of his uncle being disproving of you.”

 

“That untamed personality of yours is what made Lan Wangji fall in love with you in the first place,” Jiang Yanli says. “It’s also why we love you as well.”

 

“Sometimes,” Jiang Cheng says, taking a sip of his tea.

 

“And what if you make tons of children cry at your workplace on a daily basis? You’re still very good at your job.” Despite her words, Jiang Yanli offers Wei Ying a smile.

 

“Yeah, very good at your job, ignoring the first day, of course,” Jiang Cheng adds.

 

“Are you sure you guys aren’t just insulting me at this point?” Wei Ying weakly says.

 

The door opens up again, and Jin Zixuan returns with his promised plate full of replenished tea. As he places it down on the table, his frowns.

 

“I think we need to reteach A-Ling his manners on how to treat guests,” he says.

 

Jiang Yanli gives him a worried look. “Why?”

 

Jin Zixuan doesn’t need to answer her. Jin Ling’s triumphant howl travels into the playroom. He re-enters, a jubilant smile on his face and a fake sword in his hand, as he confidently carries himself on the back of Lan Wangji… crawling on his hands and knees.

 

Jiang Cheng gapes. Jiang Yanli covers her mouth once more, trying to smother a laugh. Jin Zixuan sighs. Wei Ying bursts out laughing.

 

“Mother!” Jin Ling yells grabbing onto Lan Wangji’s hair like some kind of reins. “I found a wild horse!”

 

“Yes, yes,” Wei Ying cries through his laughter. “But A-Ling, Lan Zhan isn’t some wild horse, he’s a magnificent stallion!”

 

Jin Ling’s eyes widen. “Uncle! You’re mag-if-i-sent!”

 

Lan Wangji closes his eyes, and nods.

 

Wei Ying whips out his phone.

 

Jiang Cheng may or may not have asked for pictures later.

 


 

It’s when Wei Ying drags Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen out to pick out a venue that Jiang Cheng fully realizes exactly how whipped Lan Wangji is for his adoptive brother.

 

“Lan Zhan! Can I change the music to mine?” Wei Ying asks, over the blaring bass of traditional Chinese music.

 

“Please don’t,” Jiang Cheng says from where he sits in the backseat.

 

“Yes,” Lan Wangji says, and Jiang Cheng heaves a heavy sigh.

 

“I’m sure Wei Wuxian’s music taste will be entertaining to listen to,” Lan Xichen supplies with a delusionally optimistic tone. Jiang Cheng gives him a distraught look, worn from the stressful experience from the last twenty years of simply knowing Wei Wuxian.

 

Gradually and inevitably, the voice of Nicki Minaj proudly stating, “I’m a boss ass bitch” blares from the speakers, enhanced by the increased tuning of the bass.

 

“Lan Zhan, are you a boss ass bitch?” Wei Ying asks (more like yells with how loud the music is). Lan Wangji merely sighs.

 

“Too vulgar,” he responds.

 

“I would like to be a boss ass bitch,” Lan Xichen pipes from the backseat. Jiang Cheng has to physically stop himself from throwing himself out the window.

 

Wei Ying throws his head back to laugh. “You already couldn’t be any more of a boss ass bitch, Xichen-gege!” He replies. Lan Xichen nods his head in approval.

 

Thankfully, Wei Ying manages to suppress the urge of replaying the song when it ends. But Jiang Cheng knows well enough to expect anything less chaotic than what was just played.

 

Jason Derulo’s Wiggle starts to resound from the speakers, and Jiang Cheng has to give Lan Wangji credit for not giving in to Wei Ying’s constant pestering to sing along with the song. It’s either that Lan Wangji just doesn’t know the lyrics, or (Jiang Cheng hopes) he just has the right amount of dignity to restrain himself from giving Wei Ying what he wants.

 

Wei Ying belts out, using his phone as a substitute microphone, “Do you know what to do with that big fat butt? Lan Zhan!”

 

Jiang Cheng is actually starting to respect Lan Wangji for standing his ground until—

 

Lan Wangji sighs. “...Wiggle wiggle wiggle.”

 

Wei Ying and Lan Xichen cheer.

 

Jiang Cheng lets his head thump against the window.

 


 

They finally—finally—make it the first location after ten continuous, excruciating songs about ass and that booty (Whose booty? Jiang Cheng asks himself on a daily basis. Certainly not mine), and Jiang Cheng is surprised when they stop by a church.

 

“What do you think, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks, swinging their hands back and forth as they walk through the doors.

 

“It’s beautiful,” Lan Wangji answers, arching his neck to run his eyes across the vast chandeliers and stained glass windows.

 

Wei Ying never averts his eyes away from his fiance. “Isn’t it?”

 

Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen respectfully stray behind them, silently taking in their own opinion on the venue.

 

Wei Ying was never very religious when he was younger, nor is he now. He was forced to go to church every Sunday along with the rest of the Jiang family members, but Jiang Cheng doubts Wei Ying is able to actually recite anything he retained from the homilies. His eyes were always wandering elsewhere—from the couples in front them, or the baby beside him, to the story of Christ on the stained glass windows, or the way the fire flickered on the candles.

 

Jiang Fengmian didn’t see much of a problem with it; if Wei Ying wasn’t being distracting or a bother to the people around him, why should he change his attitude? Yu Ziyuan, however, never failed to scold Wei Ying when they arrived home, ordering him to recite each and every prayer that was said in church until he memorized it by heart—not that it deterred Wei Ying from focusing on everything but the homily, anyway.

 

So, for Wei Ying to suggest that very same church to get married in as their first option, Jiang Cheng couldn’t help but let the prickling fire in his stomach that’s been settling ever since Wei Ying told him about the wedding grow into frustration.

 

“Do you like this, Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji asks, directing his gaze to his fiance.

 

Wei Ying sputters. “Ah, yes! The… chandelier reminds me of those crane machines Jiang Cheng and I used to play a lot when we were kids.”

 

“The… crane machines?” Lan Wangji repeats.

 

Jiang Cheng sighs, already knowing where this is heading.

 

Wei Ying laughs. “Yeah! But Jiang Cheng sucked at it so much, one time he came running to me crying because he wasted all of his allowance trying to get a dog plushie. So, being the older brother I am, I had to get it for him despite my fear of dogs! And guess how many tries it took me. Guess, Lan Zhan, guess!”

 

Lan Wangji smiles at him. “Once.”

 

Wei Ying swings their hands again, laughing. “Lan Zhan! You know me so well.”

 

“The chandelier is indeed beautiful,” Lan Xichen says. “What do you think of the atmosphere, Wei Wuxian?”

 

Wei Ying ponders on that, opting to play with Lan Wangji’s fingers, specifically the silver band. “Hm, it’s very… conventional?”

 

“Conventional?” Jiang Cheng echoes.

 

“Yes,” Wei Ying says. “It’s a place that Lan Zhan fits in very well.”

 

You fit well in here, too, idiot, Jiang Cheng wants to say.

 

“That is true,” Lan Xichen agrees. “After all, our uncle is a minister at this church.”

 

What? I totally did not know that!” Wei Ying says in awe, clearly knowing.

 

Jiang Cheng resists the urge to facepalm. Of course that’s why Wei Ying picked a church—this church. He wanted to impress Lan Qiren.

 

“He just transferred,” Lan Wangji adds. “I was about to tell you.”

 

“What a perfect place to get married in then!” Wei Ying says.

 

Lan Wangji’s eyes widen slightly. “Do you want to get married in here?”

 

“Yeah, what happened to getting married at a beach with the sun setting behind you?” Jiang Cheng can’t help but ask, his frustration melted to a boiling point. “I thought churches freaked you out when we were younger.”

 

“They didn’t freak me out,” Wei Ying counters, staring at Jiang Cheng like he just stabbed him in the back. “They just weren’t… very special.”

 

Lan Wangji frowns at him. “Then we should get married elsewhere. A special place.”

 

“No, no! That’s okay! This is okay!” Wei Ying rushes out, tightening his hold on Lan Wangji’s hand. “Besides, this place is special. For you. And if it’s special to you, then it’s special to me, too.”

 

Lan Wangji caresses Wei Ying’s cheek, brushing his bangs away. “Wei Ying. Do you want to get married here?”

 

Wei Ying covers Lan Wangji’s hands with his own and kisses his palm, smiling. “Yes.”

 

At this point, Jiang Cheng doesn’t know if that’s a lie or not—whether Wei Ying wants to get married in this church because it is special to Lan Wangji, or if he just wants to get married in this church because it’s Lan family tradition. Either way, it’s obvious that Wei Ying isn’t placing any value on his own interests—not that it’s something new, but after twenty years of seeing the same thing happen over and over again, Jiang Cheng can’t help but feel anger at him and feel wronged for him at the same time.

 

Lan Wangji isn’t stupid. Jiang Cheng can tell by the way he furrows his eyebrows just slightly that he doesn’t buy a word of what Wei Ying says. But he doesn’t say anything, maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to question the validity of Wei Ying’s answer, or maybe it’s because he wants to trust Wei Ying’s answer.

 

Instead, Lan Wangji says, “Okay,” and the decision is final.

 

Wei Ying’s eyes instantly brighten. “See, I was already thinking of placing a huge fountain right over there! And Wen Qing has connections to a certain band that I asked to come to our wedding!”

 

“Hold on, a fountain? ” Jiang Cheng asks, incredulous that Wei Ying could skip over such an obvious topic. “Over there?”

 

“Ah, it must be because of the Lan family tradition?” Lan Xichen adds.

 

Lan Wangji turns toward Wei Ying, his eyebrows arched. “Is that true?”

 

Wei Ying smiles back at him.

 

“You can’t put an entire fountain in this church.” Is Jiang Cheng the only one here with a right mind?

 

“Sure you can, I already asked.” Wei Ying kisses Lan Wangji on the cheek. “And it seems as though Lan Zhan likes the idea, too!”

 

Lan Wangji kisses Wei Ying back. Jiang Cheng turns away before he witnesses his brother and his fiance making out—a mental scar he does not need to be reminded of. He meets Lan Xichen’s eyes and can instantly tell that he’s thinking the same thing.

 

“Perhaps Wei Wuxian is trying a bit too hard at impressing our dear Wangji, isn’t he?” Lan Xichen whispers as they head out to the car together.

 

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “It’s an incurable disease for him. Hopefully Lan Wangji won’t indulge him too much.”

 

Lan Xichen laughs in his sleeve.

 

“Lan Zhan, can we stop by Walmart?” Wei Ying asks, once again swinging their hands. They haven’t let go of each other once since they’ve walked inside the church. “I’m in the mood to try one of those crane machines now.”

 

“What?” Jiang Cheng responds, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't get at least a little excited when he heard that. “You have to be kidding me. We’re not little kids anymore.”

 


 

GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!” Jiang Cheng cheers on the side, as Wei Ying struggles to move the crane claw just perfectly over the small pig plushie in the entrance of Walmart. Lan Xichen records the experience on his phone (not that anyone could see anything on his snapchat—just a blurry, bobbing motion of someone getting a little bit too excited).

 

Lan Wangji merely stares intensely at the crane machine closely behind Wei Ying’s shoulder, directing him with simple but confident instructions like left, right, too much, forward, and Wei Ying follows his every order with complete trust.

 

“Um, excuse me,” a voice draws out behind them. Everyone turns around before Wei Ying can press the button to grab the pig plushie. He points at the phone in Lan Xichen’s hands. “You’re not allowed to film in Walmart. I’m going to have to ask you guys to leave.”

 

The timer runs out. They go home empty handed.

 


 

The wedding gets postponed for a month when Jiang Cheng gets a call to rush to the hospital.

 

Wei Ying has just lost his first patient since the first day of his transfer.

 

Jiang Cheng doesn’t know his name, or how old he was, or what his interests were, all he knew was that he died under Wei Ying’s knife.

 

What is he supposed to do when that happens? What is he supposed to say? How does he comfort someone who’s been through that? What kind of brother is he?

 

He arrives at the hospital. Wei Ying is hunched over himself on a bench. His hair is a mess, his face in his hands. He hasn’t taken off his surgical gown yet.

 

“Wei Ying,” he says. Wei Ying slowly looks up at him, and Jiang Cheng almost wishes he hadn’t. He sees the despair, the anguish, and the grief in his eyes, the eyebags underneath, the wrinkles in his forehead.

 

Jiang Cheng sits next to him. He doesn’t know what to say.

 

“Jiang Cheng, I…” Wei Ying starts, and Jiang Cheng has to strain his ears to hear him. “I… haven’t put my ring back on yet.”

 

“Why?” Jiang Cheng says, equally as soft.

 

Wei Ying sinks into himself even more. “How can I get married like this?”

 

“You’re a surgeon. Things like this will happen.”

 

“I killed him.”

 

“No, you didn’t.”

 

“He died under my knife.”

 

Jiang Cheng breathes in, and tilts his head against the wall. Wei Ying drops his head onto his shoulder.

 

“I had to… break the news,” he continues, “to his mom. She was the only one there and I don’t know if she’s alone now or if she has to tell others or which one’s worse.”

 

“Wei Ying—”

 

“He said he trusted me. Before he went under anesthesia. And I looked at him right in the eyes and said, ‘Don’t worry’,” Wei Ying scoffs. “God, I’m such a fucking asshole.”

 

Jiang Cheng’s throat constricts. All he can do is lay his head on top of his.

 

“I couldn’t… give him the happy life he wanted. What right do I have to have my own?” Wei Ying unclutches his hand. Jiang Cheng catches the glint of the silver band in his palm.

 

“Wei Ying…?” Lan Wangji stands before them, chest heaving and a bead of sweat running down his forehead.

 

Wei Ying whips his head up. “Lan Zhan?”

 

Jiang Cheng takes that as his cue to remove himself, somewhat ashamed that he couldn’t do anything to relieve Wei Ying of his guilt, somewhat relieved that Lan Wangji came in to save him, and somewhat ashamed at even feeling relieved.

 

“Wei Ying,” he hears Lan Wangji whisper, “I am here.”

 

Wei Ying’s shoulders shake, he clutches the ring in his palm and holds it up to his face, trying to stop himself from hiccuping.

 

Lan Wangji envelopes him with his body, and Wei Ying hides his face in his chest, hands grasping onto his shirt. He’s murmuring something, but Lan Wangji holds him tighter.

 

“Never. I love you, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji firmly states. “I will always love you.”

 

Jiang Cheng leaves, a forlorn, but accepting feeling in his stomach when he realizes just how different the relationship is he shares with Wei Ying, and what Wei Ying shares with Lan Wangji.

 


 

Jiang Cheng is yet again still there when Wei Ying and Lan Wangji invite him over to make wedding invitations.

 

“Why am I here again?” he asks, more to himself, because there really isn’t anything stopping him from not coming. Despite himself, he continues to draw decorations on the cards he's given, making himself comfortable on the floor of Wei Ying and Lan Wangji's apartment.

 

“It’s ‘cause I like your lotus flower designs,” Wei Ying responds, which Jiang Cheng is pretty sure he’s only saying that because he wants to appease him.

 

Wei Ying is actually a very talented graphic artist. If he wasn’t a pediatric surgeon, Jiang Cheng wouldn’t doubt he’d succeed in the graphic art industry. Lan Wangji, on the other hand…

 

“No, Lan Zhan! You’re supposed to draw by moving your wrist. Like this,” Wei Ying instructs, demonstrating by flicking his wrists to imprint the paper with bold, confident pencil markings.

 

“Okay,” Lan Wangji says, continuing the do the exact same thing as before.

 

Wei Ying huffs. “No!”

 

If someone had told Jiang Cheng that he would be drawing lotus flowers on Wei Ying’s and Lan Wangji’s wedding invitations, he would have laughed in their face. If they would have told him that Lan Wangji would be having difficulty drawing those exact same lotus flowers, he would have reported them to the principal’s office.

 

There’s something about Wei Ying that brings out a different part of Lan Wangji—a more humane, gentle side that completely contradicts the cold, mechanically perfect image he carried with him when they were younger.

 

Wei Ying openly scolds and berates him for things he doesn’t agree with, something no one had to guts to do in school, or even now. And Lan Wangji is able to control Wei Ying’s constant state of spontaneity at least a little bit, a huge accomplishment for literally anyone till this day.

 

Right now they’ve gotten to the point of Wei Ying actually resorting to physically guiding Lan Wangji’s hand himself and it’s only when Jiang Cheng sees Lan Wangji’s smile that he realizes just how sly he can be.

 

Jiang Cheng actually gives the credit to Wei Ying. This evolution could have only happened because of him.

 

He shakes his head, directing his attention back to drawing lotus flowers, but freezes when he sees the guest list.

 

“Woah, hold on. Why the hell is Wen Chao invited?” Jiang Cheng can’t help but reveal the disgust behind his words, because, after all, what the literal hell? “I thought you loathed his entire being.”

 

Wei Ying retracts his hand (Lan Wangji’s frown, which had been initially formed because of the reminder of Wen Chao’s existence, deepens even more) and shrugs.

 

“The Wen family has really close ties to Lan Zhan’s family,” he responds (bullshits). “It would feel rude not to invite them.”

 

“But it’s the Wens,” Jiang Cheng says, and nods along fervently when Lan Wangji does.

 

“It’s nice for Lan Zhan’s family!”

 

“They’re going to ruin the wedding,” Jiang Cheng warns. “You don’t even want them there!”

 

“Does it matter? It’s beneficial for Lan Zhan’s work relations.”

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t even want him there.”

 

Wei Ying turns to look at Lan Wangji. “You don’t want them there, Lan Zhan?”

 

“I appreciate the thought, Wei Ying.” Lan Wangji takes a hold of his hand. “It doesn’t seem like you really want to invite the Wen family.”

 

“I wanted to invite them for you…” Wei Ying tilts his head down, looking up at Lan Wangji through his eyelashes and jutting his lower lip out. He places his cheek on his fiance’s shoulder—and there it is: The Pout™. The very same pout that’s gotten Wei Wuxian everything he’s ever wanted, from both Jiang Fengmian and Jiang Yanli, and even at the rarest times, Yu Ziyuan as well.

 

Don’t fall for it, Lan Wangji, Jiang Cheng roots. You’re better than this.

 

He can practically see the gears running through Lan Wangji’s head. His eyebrows draw into the middle of his forehead, creating wrinkles on his usually straight face. He’s physically trying to look away, but he can’t. The Pout™ is too overpowering.

 

Do it for the wedding, Lan Wangji, Jiang Cheng encourages, shaking his head at him. Do it for your future husband.

 

Wei Ying shifts and places his chin further up on Lan Wangji’s shoulder. The sudden movement allows Lan Wangji to break away from his gaze and make eye contact with Jiang Cheng.

 

You can pull through this, Lan Wangji, Jiang Cheng mouths at him. I believe in you.

 

Wei Ying wraps his arms around Lan Wangji’s and softly blows in his ear.

 

Jiang Cheng puts his head in his hands and heaves a sigh when he sees the tips of Lan Wangji’s ears turn red.

 

“...Fine,” he chokes out.

 

The Pout™ never fails.

 


 

Jiang Cheng will never, ever, throughout the rest of his life, eat cake.

 

“Lan Zhan! Try this one,” Wei Ying says, feeding Lan Wangji yet another bite of red velvet cake. Lan Wangji accepts it like the whipped bastard he is and in turn, feeds Wei Ying a piece of coconut cake.

 

“Okay, now why am I here? ” Jiang Cheng demands.

 

“We need a third opinion,” Wei Ying responds, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.

 

“Couldn’t you get Lan Xichen to do this?”

 

“He’s busy preparing for a lawsuit,” Lan Wangji says, stabbing another piece of cake with his fork.

 

“I work for the government,” Jiang Cheng says.

 

“Yet here you are. Ah, thank you Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying chomps down on the fork.

 

Jiang Cheng doesn’t even know why he tries anymore. “Can we just get this over with? How hard is it to pick a flavor?”

 

“Very!” Wei Ying says affronted, a hand on his chest. Lan Wangji nods loyally with him. “Everyone knows the most important part of the reception is the cake. That’s why everyone even goes.”

 

“Fine. Then tell me what characteristics make the best cake.”

 

“Thank you.” Wei Ying gestures toward the dozens of cake samples in front of them. “As you can see here, all of these cake samples have their own very different, very unique characteristics. But only three of them have made it to the finals of America’s Next Top Cake Flavor.

 

Jiang Cheng raises an eyebrow.

 

“For example, the chocolate cake,” Wei Ying continues. Jiang Cheng narrows his eyes at the weird gestures he makes with his hands. “Very simple, yet classic. Layered with whipped chocolate buttercream. You can tell from the air bubbles that the batter is light and fluffy. It’ll go down your throat with no problem.”

 

“I think you’re stretching that a bit much—”

 

“Then, we move on to the almond honey cake,” Wei Ying flat out ignores Jiang Cheng, accepting the plate Lan Wangji automatically hands over. “Topped with strawberry ripple cream. It’s still soft, but definitely much rougher than the chocolate cake. A taste for the elders for sure.”

 

Lan Wangji hands him another one, so natural, it’s as if they rehearsed this stupid skit way before Jiang Cheng arrived.

 

(Knowing them, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.)

 

“And finally, the neapolitan cheesecake! It’s on the heavier side, and takes longer to eat, but also comes in three different flavors by default! So basically it made it to the finals because it’s a ‘buy one get two free’ deal.”

 

Jiang Cheng rubs his forehead before a headache manages to form. “And which one are you choosing?”

 

“Oh, well, um." Wei Ying instead drags his gaze to one of the cakes on the display shelves. "Probably the vanilla one, right, Lan Zhan?”

 

“The vanilla one? After all that?” Jiang Cheng gapes. “What happened to America’s Next Top Cake Flavor?

 

Wei Ying covers his mouth with his hand. “Oh, Jiang Cheng, could it be that you were actually invested in that? I thought you hated reality shows—”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says. “Why do you want vanilla cake?”

 

Wei Ying gathers himself. “Well, it’s—”

 

“Don’t say it’s conventional,” Jiang Cheng interrupts.

 

Wei Ying huffs at him. “It’s a classic.”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says disapprovingly.

 

“What? Do you not like vanilla flavor, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying says, like he’s playing oblivious. No, Jiang Cheng concludes, as he notices Wei Ying's gaze not making direct eye contact with his fiance, he is.

 

Lan Wangji frowns. “This isn’t…”

 

What you want, Jiang Cheng finishes for him.

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t complete his sentence. Jiang Cheng doesn’t blame him. Wei Ying has been putting Lan Wangji in an awkward position at every wedding appointment. Does he question what Wei Ying wants and risk offending him? Does he play along in hopes that Wei Ying really does want the things he says he does? Does he confront him and risk making the situation awkward for Jiang Cheng, their guest? Does he bring it up at home?

 

“Why are you making these decisions?” Lan Wangji asks instead.

 

“What do you mean?” Wei Ying says, a frown on his face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had different opinions, we can talk over the—”

 

Lan Wangji shakes his head. “The decisions you’re making… why them?

 

Wei Ying opens his mouth, closes it, then says, “I have your best intentions in mind when I make them.”

 

Jiang Cheng closes his eyes, a headache forming for all the wrong reasons. There’s no way Lan Wangji can respond to that without getting into some, misinformed, misunderstood argument.

 

Lan Wangji stares into Wei Ying’s eyes with an anguished expression, but nods.

 

They all leave the cake shop with an unsettling feeling in their stomachs.

 


 

It’s two in the morning.

 

It’s two in the morning, and the doorbell is ringing.

 

And ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

 

Jiang Cheng groans, throwing the covers off him with the frustration that naturally arrives with being awoken at ass o’clock in the morning. He turns in his bed with a last-minute hope that the ringing will miraculously stop and he can go back to sleep.

 

It doesn’t.

 

Jiang Cheng wants to throw something. So he does. The pillow hits the wall across the room and falls pathetically to the floor. Jiang Cheng imagines that’s how he feels right about now. He uses the fallen pillow as a source to motivation to get up and tosses the pillow back on his bed, yawning and scratching his stomach as he struggles to maneuver his way to the front door.

 

It’s two in the morning, the doorbell rings once more, and Jiang Cheng opens the door to see his brother standing outside, tears threatening to fall down his cheeks.

 

Jiang Cheng’s eyes widen.

 

“We got into a fight,” Wei Ying mumbles.

 

Jiang Cheng opens his arms, and Wei Ying crashes into him, arms hugging his sides. It isn’t long until his shoulder becomes wet. Jiang Cheng hesitates, before wrapping his arms around his brother’s shoulders, patting his head.

 

Jiang Cheng is not good at comforting people. If possible, he would opt to stand in a different room and use a stick to pat them on the back. Skinship was not something that was common among the Jiang family, but Wei Ying managed to break through that the moment he took one step inside the manor.

 

They’re on the couch now, Wei Ying’s head still laying on Jiang Cheng’s shoulder, as they snuggle with some pillows watching some stupid late night tv show about people flying on swords.

 

“He said that I was being thoughtless,” Wei Ying says, a soft murmur. “That I wasn’t taking the wedding seriously.”

 

Jiang Cheng turns his attention away from the characters on the tv show fighting some water ghoul, skepticism on his tongue. “Are you sure he said that?”

 

Wei Ying shrugs. “Sounds like he did.”

 

“Lan Wangji doesn’t talk a lot. You could have misinterpreted his words.”

 

“I just…” Wei Ying sighs. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter. We both said nasty stuff.”

 

Jiang Cheng hesitates, before asking, “Care to tell me why you’re so obsessed with being accepted by Lan Qiren?”

 

Wei Ying huffs, obviously expecting that question. “It’s his uncle. What am I supposed to do if he doesn’t like me?”

 

“Will him not liking you stop you from getting married?”

 

Wei Ying groans, smothering his face with the pillow. “Fine. Fine. It is more about being accepted by Lan Zhan’s family rather being liked by them. But come on, Jiang Cheng. Think about it. If they don’t accept us, they’ll either force us to separate or ostracize us from the family, and I don’t want either of that to happen! Lan Zhan loves his family, how do you think it’ll make him feel if he got rejected?”

 

Wei Ying hides his face in Jiang Cheng’s shoulder, his voice muffled. “I want to feel… worthy of him.”

 

Jiang Cheng doesn’t respond right away. They sit there, in the darkness only illuminated by the blue hue of the tv's flashing lights. The volume is low, just the soft whisper of rain can be heard above them. Wei Ying is a soft mass of warmth at his side.

 

It’s not often that Wei Ying voices his problems, let alone in a serious manner. It’s always jokes and pranks that only have the tiniest hint of worry, until it’s dismissed and washed away with a wave of obnoxious laughter.

 

Jiang Cheng wonders if Lan Wangji will come rushing to his doorstep, or if Wei Ying will end up finding more comfort in his fiance rather than his brother, or if Jiang Cheng will ever break out of his shell and help his brother, currently wiping his tears on his shirt.

 

“Do you remember what happened when you came back from China?” Jiang Cheng asks.

 

Wei Ying sniffles, looking up at Jiang Cheng with confusion written all over his face. “Uh, I guess?”

 

“Tell me, then.”

 

Wei Ying narrows his eyes. “I remember coming home… angry and distraught… because I couldn’t find my birth mother.”

 

“You told me that you thought if you found your birth mother, you could finally figure out who you were,” Jiang Cheng continues for him, the memory playing through his mind as clearly as the day he heard it. “Something about ‘self-actualization’ or some shit.”

 

Wei Ying raises his head off his shoulder, offended. “Hey, I read a book about it, alright? And I didn’t end up finding her anyway, so what’s your point?”

 

“My point,” Jiang Cheng says, flicking Wei Ying’s forehead, “is that when you came back, you said it wasn’t worth it. That even if you had found her, nothing would have changed who you were.”

 

“That’s true,” Wei Ying says, “but what does that have to do with this?”

 

Jiang Cheng sighs. “I’m getting there, shut up. I’m not good at this.” Wei Ying laughs, and Jiang Cheng waits for him to stop before continuing. “I was actually… jealous of that.”

 

Wei Ying pauses. “Huh?”

 

“Even if you were so frustrated when you came back, you still found a way to turn that into something to boost your self-esteem.”

 

Wei Ying stares at him.

 

“What I’m saying is,” Jiang Cheng sputters out, hoping that his words found their way to making sense, “you already know who you are. You didn’t need to find your birth mother in order to validate yourself, and you don’t need Lan Qiren to validate your love for Lan Wangji, either. That’s what I’m saying.”

 

Wei Ying merely continues to stare at him. Whether it’s out of awe or confusion or judgment isn’t something Jiang Cheng can determine; either way, the red on his face can’t bring himself to look at Wei Ying right now.

 

Wei Ying stifles out a laugh, before plopping his head back down on Jiang Cheng’s shoulder. “Ah, Jiang Cheng, what do I do? You’re so cool now.”

 

The red of his face grows. “What do you mean ‘now’? I’ve always been this cool.”

 

“Yes, yes, of course. Your flower pajamas really prove that.”

 

Lotus flower pajamas, damn it.”

 

“What’s the difference?”

 

“It’s symbolic!”

 

Wei Ying lets out a laugh, and Jiang Cheng is so relieved the bonding moment’s over. Comforting his adoptive brother who never shows any negative emotions at three in the morning is not something Jiang Cheng would recommend doing again.

 

“Ah, I’m tired,” Wei Ying says. “Let’s just watch this tv show until we fall asleep.”

 

“I haven’t been paying attention. What’s this called again?”

 

“Uh, ‘The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation’,” Wei Ying reads off the screen.

 

Jiang Cheng scoffs. “Too long.”

 

“Right?” Wei Ying agrees. “And that character in black and red is so stupid. Of course the one in blue likes you, dumbass!”

 

“At least he’s better than the guy in purple,” Jiang Cheng says, frowning in disgust as the character uses a whip to snap at people. “What an asshole.”

 

“He’s just like you, Jiang Cheng!” Wei Ying laughs when the character starts crying.

 

“I’m nothing like him,” Jiang Cheng says, affronted. “At least my character isn’t a dumbass.”

 

“Hey! My character isn’t emotionally stunted and represses his feelings like a certain somebody,” Wei Ying counters.

 

“My character doesn’t control zombies and hurt other people!”

 

“Well, you hide behind your emotions by snapping at other people!”

 

“Why are you just insulting me now?”

 


 

“I don’t know what I should do,” Lan Wangji says to him solemnly. Jiang Cheng yawns, not appreciating having to get out of bed at eight in the morning after only four hours of sleep.

 

But he has to do this. For his brother. For the wedding. To make the past seven months of suffering and the pain of wedding planning actually worth it.

 

That’s the only reason they didn’t bring Lan Xichen to Walmart this time.

 

“Listen,” Jiang Cheng says, gripping Lan Wangji’s shoulder like they’re about to indulge in the riskiest financial gamble ever known to the human race, “get your wallet out.”

 


 

Jiang Cheng takes time out of his very busy schedule to visit the hospital a few hours later.

 

It’s not as though he’s checking up on Wei Ying. They’re both in their mid-twenties, and Wei Ying doesn’t need Jiang Cheng to check up on him at work just because he was an emotional wreck the night before.

 

He’s far from worried, but he’d also be lying if he said he isn’t at least a little concerned. Besides, he could always visit under the guise of checking up on a family friend’s child.

 

He knocks on the door of Lan Sizhui’s room, fresh out of surgery for a broken bone. Wei Ying is at his side, a hand in the pocket of his hospital uniform while the other ruffles his hair.

 

“Okay, don’t forget to take your medicine, okay? You have to treat your body right since you were malnourished when you were younger,” he says. Lan Sizhui nods obediently, sucking on a lollipop that was no doubt snuck in by Wei Ying himself.

 

Lan Sizhui sees Jiang Cheng linger by the door, and waves excitedly. “Uncle Jiang!”

 

“Oh, Jiang Cheng! What are you doing here?” Wei Ying gives him a side eye. “Don’t tell me you’re here for a checkup? This is the pediatric section, you know.”

 

“I heard A-Yuan just got out of surgery,” he informs, choosing to ignore his comment before he socks him in the face. “I brought gifts.”

 

Lan Sizhui gasps, extending his arms to receive the gift basket filled with candies and toys. “Thank you, Uncle Jiang! I appreciate it.”

 

Jiang Cheng ruffles his hair, bringing a giggle out of him, before heading out of the room. Wei Ying closes the door behind them.

 

“So?” he starts. “Why are you really here? You never visit me at the hospital, and it’s not as though you’re particularly close with A-Yuan.”

 

“You fell asleep at four in the morning and woke up three hours later. Forgive me for thinking you were going to faint on the job,” Jiang Cheng replies, crossing his arms.

 

Wei Ying smiles slyly at him. “Oh? Jiang Cheng, could it be that you were worried ab—”

 

“I wasn’t worried,” Jiang Cheng forces out, fighting the blush forming on his face. He sighs. “Have you talked to him yet?”

 

Wei Ying’s smile turns into a grimace. He shakes his head. “I thought it would distract me from work.”

 

“I’m just letting you know that he hasn’t stopped texting me asking if you were alright.”

 

Wei Ying’s expression breaks out in guilt. “I’m planning on talking to him later tonight.”

 

“Good, because I’m also just letting you know that he’s coming in about..." Jiang Cheng glances at his watch. "Now. 

 

Wei Ying’s eyes pop out at him. “What?

 

“Bye.” Jiang Cheng starts to walk away. Wei Ying chases after him.

 

“Wait, wait, wait,” he rushes out. “I said, ‘later tonight’ not now! Jiang Cheng!”

 

“Oh, look, there he is,” Jiang Cheng says, upon seeing Lan Wangji’s tall form make his way through the crowd of bodies from across the hallway, a huge bouquet of roses in his arms.

 

Wei Ying squeaks, hiding behind Jiang Cheng’s smaller frame. Lan Wangji makes eye contact with Jiang Cheng, and they both simultaneously nod.

 

“He sees you,” Jiang Cheng says, stepping to the side. Wei Ying has his face in his hands, refusing to open his eyes; yet, every once in a while, he peeks through his fingers, only to close them again when he sees Lan Wangji at an even closer distance than before.

 

Wei Ying grabs onto Jiang Cheng’s sleeve when he tries to leave. “Jiang Cheng!” he fiercely whispers. “You can’t just leave me here! Alone!”

 

Jiang Cheng rips his hold away, and whispers back just as fiercely, “I’m not going to stand on the side to watch you two make out!”

 

“I’m not sure if we’ll even make up!

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says, and Wei Ying jumps.

 

“O-Oh, Lan Zhan! I never expected to see you here…”

 

Jiang Cheng takes the loosening of the grip on his arm to make his escape, ignoring Wei Ying’s glares of betrayal. When he looks back, he sees Lan Wangji already on his knees handing over the roses, Wei Ying’s hands over his mouth.

 

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes, but he can’t help the small smile that finds its way on his face when he spots a strikingly familiar looking pig plushie in his arms.

 


 

So, Wei Ying doesn’t have his pants on.

 

It’s not by choice (thank god), but it’s just that… they are missing.

 

Jiang Yanli is trying calm everyone down—from Wei Ying almost on the verge of screaming, to Jiang Fengmian offering to take off his own pants to give it to Wei Ying, to Yu Ziyuan on her neverending lecture on Wei Ying always losing everything, even if it’s on his own wedding day, and Jiang Cheng just wants to close his eyes and rest.

 

He collapses on one of the chairs in the waiting room, rubbing his forehead.

 

“Okay, so the wedding starts in an hour,” Jiang Cheng says, trying to gauge the situation, but he instantly regrets it, because now the room is even more chaotic.

 

“How can you lose a pair of pants an hour before the wedding, Wei Ying?” Yu Ziyuan scolds. “Do you just not want to get married? Is that it? You’re getting last minute scares and trying to run away?”

 

Wei Ying shakes his head, practically flipping over pillows and chairs. “Of course not! I love Lan Zhan, I want to get married today!”

 

“You’re running around pantless! What if we can’t find an extra pair? What will you do then?”

 

“Then I will…” Wei Ying hesitates, before proclaiming, “I will walk down the aisle without my pants on!”

 

Yu Ziyuan’s frown twists even more, getting ready for another whirl of reprimands, when Jiang Yanli presses a hand on her’s.

 

“Mother, let’s focus on finding the pants for now, okay?”

 

Yu Ziyuan stares at her, before exhaling heavily, continuing her search for the pants despite her earlier grievances.

 

Jin Zixuan knocks on the door, tentatively looking in. “Yanli?” he calls. Jiang Yanli approaches him, as Wei Ying frantically dives behind the couch to hide his bare lower half. “Maybe we shouldn’t have brought Fairy after all…”

 

Jiang Yanli frowns at him. “What do you mean? A-Ling was making a tantrum…”

 

“Well…” Jiang Cheng sees Jin Zixuan reveal a ripped piece of clothing out from behind his back, and his heart sinks. “It’s just that I don’t know how to apologize to the owner of this pair of pants.”

 

“Oh, A-Xian…” Jiang Yanli says, and Wei Ying’s head pops out from behind the couch.

 

“What? What happened to my pants?”

 

Jin Zixuan holds out the pair of pants, ripped and wet from a dog’s saliva. “This is yours?”

 

Wei Ying’s eyebrows arch up, and he sighs, setting his forehead on the spine of the couch in defeat. He shivers at the thought of a dog touching his clothing. “Not anymore, I guess…”

 

Jiang Fengmian steps forward. “No, it’s okay. Like I said before, A-Xian, you can wear my pants, A-Cheng’s size is too small for you.”

 

“Hey,” Jiang Cheng says, offended.

 

“And whose pants are you supposed to wear, huh?” Yu Ziyuan counters.

 

Jiang Fengmian grasps his wife's hand in comfort. “It’s A-Xian’s wedding day, he should come first.”

 

Jin Zixuan speaks up, “I actually have a wardrobe in my car. You can borrow one of mine.”

 

Everybody stares at him.

 

“Jin Zixuan, I’ve never been so glad that you’re a spoiled rich kid,” Wei Ying says into the silence, standing up in excitement.

 

Jin Zixuan looks away when he sees Wei Ying pantless. “They’re all bright yellow though.”

 

The staring resumes.

 

“They’re… what?” Jiang Cheng says after a moment of silence.

 

“Bright yellow,” Jin Zixuan says. “To match Yanli’s dress.”

 

“And you have… multiple of them?” Wei Ying narrows his eyes, judging. Yu Ziyuan mirrors his expression.

 

“One for every brand,” Jin Zixuan says weakly, a little offended. Jiang Yanli pats him on the shoulder in comfort.

 

Jiang Fengmian is the first one to break away. “Wei Ying, I will give you my pants. Then I shall wear the… yellow pants.”

 

Wei Ying gasps, hand on his chest. “You… would do that for me?”

 

Jiang Fengmian nods soberly, his fists clenched. “It’s something I will have to endure.”

 

“Jin Zixuan is right there, guys,” Jiang Cheng says, can’t help but feeling bad for the guy. Jin Zixuan only sighs, leaving to retrieve the infamous yellow pants.

 

Jiang Fengmian’s pants are a little bit too big for Wei Ying, but before he can start panicking about it, Jiang Yanli rushes in with a sewing set, ready to the pin the hems of the pants where necessary.

 

Wei Ying stares at himself in the mirror, twisting his legs back and forth. The color’s are a bit off—a dark black on top of a lighter black never looks good, but anything’s better than the option of yellow pants. Wei Ying breathes in to calm himself down.

 

“You look so handsome, A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli says, smiling at him.

 

“You should be grateful for her, Wei Ying, without her your pants would have fallen off in the middle of the aisle,” Yu Ziyuan chides.

 

“I am,” Wei Ying says, opening his arms to hug Jiang Yanli tight. “Thank you, A-jie. And," he huffs out a relunctant sigh, "give thanks to your husband for me.”

 

“Why couldn’t you be bigger?” Yu Ziyuan directs to Jiang Cheng, who does not, in fact, jump at his mother’s voice. “We could have avoided this mess.”

 

Did you want me to wear the yellow pants…? He wants to say, but thinks better of it, not in the mood for being the target of his mother’s wrath.

 

“We should probably check on the guests,” he says instead, directing his family members outside. He meets Wei Ying’s eyes before the door completely closes, offering him a thumbs up. Wei Ying’s anxious but excited smile is the last thing he sees before he shuts the door.

 


 

“They actually got the fountain?” Jiang Cheng gapes.

 

“I heard it was a gift from the Lan family,” Nie Huaisang whispers as he leans over, covering his mouth over the guise of fanning himself. Jiang Cheng felt weird gossiping inside a church, but Nie Huaisang strangely knew almost every single thing anyone could ask him.

 

While Wei Ying’s changing and getting used to the pants, the rest had left to either wait outside or greet the guests, which meant Jiang Cheng had to go off and do his duties as best man.

 

The first thing he decided to do was check up on the kids, completely not expecting to see a near colossal sized fountain situated in the middle of the church, already distracted from his first task.

 

“Who from the Lan family?” Jiang Cheng can’t help but ask.

 

Nie Huaisang gestures for him to lean in even closer, and Jiang Cheng feels like he’s sinning. “Lan Qiren.”

 

Lan Qiren?” Jiang Cheng gawks.

 

Nie Huaisang shushes him, looking around at the eight people sitting in the pews to see if anyone had heard them. “Lan Qiren knew that Wei Ying wanted to make this wedding as close to Lan tradition as possible, so he offered to… ‘help’.”

 

“Why does he want to help?”

 

“Well,” Nie Huaisang shrugs, “... ‘help’.”

 

Jiang Cheng narrows his eyes. “Why are you saying it like that?”

 

Nie Huaisang sighs. “I’m saying Lan Qiren is pressuring Wei Ying to pull through and not mess this up.”

 

“What?”

 

“Think about it. A ginormous fountain in the middle of church that everyone can see? That’s basically screaming, ‘don’t fuck this up’.”

 

Jiang Cheng feels his insides start to boil. “What right does he have—”

 

“Ah, ah! Kids don’t play so close to the fountain!” Nie Huaisang says, as fake as his personality. He quickly fans himself in a distracting manner, trying to escape, but not before leaning back in for one last statement. “But you didn’t hear any of this from me.”

 

Jiang Cheng sighs.

 

Refocusing himself on his duties as best man, he approaches the kids playing around with the water in the fountain.

 

“A-Ling, don’t bend forward so much, you might fall in,” he warns as Jin Ling reaches for a flower decorating the surface of the water.

 

“Uncle Jiang!” Jin Ling squeals. He carefully hops off the arms of the fountain, running toward Jiang Cheng.

 

“Don’t run either,” he says, but crouches to accept Jin Ling’s hug anyway. He flinches when he feels water splash on the side of his suit. “Why are you wet?”

 

“I’m not wet,” Jin Ling says. He lifts his woven basket—which is supposed to be filled with flowers—and giggles in delight when the water dripping out of the basket makes droplets on the floor.

 

Jiang Cheng sighs. “What were you doing?”

 

“Mother said I’m the flower boy,” Jin Ling says. He points to the flowers on the water in the fountain. “So I’m getting flowers.”

 

Jiang Cheng can’t help but huff out a laugh. “But look, A-Ling. All your flowers are wet now.”

 

Jin Ling looks down at his flower basket, a pout on his face. He looks back up, and sniffles.

 

“Oh, no, don’t cry,” Jiang Cheng says, a hint of panic in his voice. He can’t comfort adults, let alone crying children. “Look, we can just wipe the floor. Your flowers are perfect.”

 

“Okay…” Jin Ling says. His tone is dejected, but he immediately brightens when he sees someone walking behind him.

 

“A-Yuan!” he greets.

 

Lan Sizhui, who had been suspiciously hurrying somewhere, awkwardly halts when he sees Jiang Cheng. “Ah… hi, Uncle Jiang.”

 

Jiang Cheng squints his eyes at him. “Where are the rings, ring bearer?”

 

Lan Sizhui jumps, a guilty expression on his face. “I’m sorry Uncle Jiang. I think I… lost the pillow.”

 

Jiang Cheng breathes in, closes his eyes, and counts to three.

 

“Where did you see it last?” He asks slowly before he gets an aneurysm.

 

“Well, Jingyi and I were playing around in this area with Jin Ling, so I think I may have dropped it around here…”

 

“That’s okay. I’ll help you find it.” Jiang Cheng turns toward Jin Ling. “A-Ling, why don’t you help A-Yuan find those rings? You’d be helping me a lot.”

 

Jin Ling stares at him in wonder, then nods eagerly. He grabs onto Lan Sizhui’s hand, and they go off together.

 

Jiang Cheng’s about to walk with them when complaints make their way into his ear near the pews. He calms himself before heading over, hoping the situation can be settled easily and he doesn’t strangle anyone to death before this wedding ends.

 

“Is there a problem?” He asks.

 

An older lady gestures Jiang Cheng to come closer. She looks concerned, her wrinkles enunciated by the frown she has on her face. Jiang Cheng doesn’t recognize her, so he assumes she must be on Lan Wangji’s side of the family.

 

“I don’t mean to be rude, but… are they supposed to sit there?” She whispers, indiscreetly pointing to where Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan are sitting and speaking softly to each other.

 

Jiang Cheng narrows his eyes, in part offended because that’s his sister, and in part confusion because he didn’t see anything wrong with where they’re sitting. Family members usually sit in the front of the pews, and Jiang Cheng would never ask his sister to move back, no matter what Lan Wangji’s family says.

 

“I know she’s Wei Wuxian’s sister, but it’s just that,” the older lady hesitates, “they’re sitting on the Lan family side, if I’m not mistaken?”

 

Jiang Cheng raises his eyebrows, the situation clear. Separated seats must be a Lan family tradition, which means, in essence, Wei Ying probably wanted to follow along and separate the families as well.

 

Jiang Cheng swallows, and stands his ground.

 

“Excuse me.” He directs the attention from all of the guests that have arrived so far. “Ever since Wei Ying was young, he’s wanted mixed seating at his wedding. After this, we will no longer be two families, but one. I hope you can respect his decision.”

 

Even if Wei Ying wanted to pretend like this is his dream wedding, Jiang Cheng is determined to give him at least one thing he truly wants.

 

The older woman makes a sound of acknowledgement at him. Her eyes widen in surprise, but it gradually slips into understanding. She glances back at the other Lan family members, not sure what to do.

 

Jiang Cheng meets Jiang Yanli’s eyes, and she smiles at him in approval. He wants to laugh. No wonder she sat down first.

 

“I’ll sit down over there!” Lan Jingyi announces, hopping out of his seat and heading toward the other side. A soft gasp echoes through the church as he sits down, giggling by himself.

 

Lan Xichen follows behind him with a smile.

 

The members of the Lan family glance around to gauge the other’s reaction, murmuring among themselves about the unusual seating arrangement.

 

“Xichen has moved over…”

 

“I think it will be fine, yes?”

 

Gradually, more of the Lan family members migrate over to the other side of the pews, and Jiang Cheng couldn’t be anymore grateful of a child’s innocence and oblivion to the adult world around him.

 

The migration halts.

 

“Lan Qiren hasn’t arrived yet…” he hears one of them say.

 

Jiang Cheng almost shivers, their hesitation justified.

 

Lan Wangji, fresh out of the changing room, approaches Jiang Cheng, adjusting his cuffs. “Wei Ying said he wanted mix seating?”

 

“That’s not what he said, but it’s what he wants,” he responds, and Lan Wangji immediately understands, nodding.

 

“Grandmother,” he greets, bowing to an older woman—a different one. He grasps her hand, gesturing toward the Jiang family side. “Would you mind making sure Jingyi doesn’t fool around?”

 

The older woman smiles, patting Lan Wangji on the shoulder, before walking in the direction of Lan Jingyi fooling around in the pews. “Oh, of course. Anything for you on your wedding day.”

 

“Grandma Lan moved over…”

 

“Are we not following Lan family tradition?”

 

The doors to the church open, and Jiang Cheng physically shivers, a cold breeze flowing through his blood. He forces himself to turn around.

 

Lan Qiren slowly makes his way down the aisle, coolly surveying the scene around him. He glances at the fountain, side eyes the decorations, raises an eyebrow at the candles. Everything action he does is dripped in a layer of judgment, the way he carries himself instantly washes over everyone in a burst of intimidation.

 

He stops at the end of pews, narrowing his eyes.

 

“What is this?” he demands.

 

Jiang Cheng opens his mouth to explain, but nothing comes out. He tightens his fists.

 

“Uncle,” Lan Wangji greets.

 

“Wangji.” Lan Qiren slowly reviews the seating positions. He repeats, “What is this?”

 

“Wei Ying requested mixed seating,” he replies.

 

“Mixed seating,” Lan Qiren echoes, the diction in his words sharp. Jiang Cheng straightens himself, prepared to stand up for his brother in his absence if Lan Qiren chose to say anything. “I see.”

 

Despite his words, Lan Qiren heads to the very front row of the Lan family’s side, and takes a seat, and nods his head to Jiang Yanli in acknowledgment.

 

(Jiang Cheng doesn’t know how she doesn’t flinch at that.)

 

No other member of the Lan family moves over. Jiang Cheng can’t blame them. He exhales a shaky breath, glad that at least the sides will end up balancing out once more guests start to show up.

 

Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan finally make their appearance, with all the grace a man wearing bright yellow pants can manage. Another wave of gasps carry through the church.

 

“Is that Jiang Fengmian?”

 

“Wei Wuxian’s father?”

 

Jiang Cheng would have laughed if he wasn’t being crucified right about now. Jiang Fengmian smiles bashfully at the guests, bowing in respect (and possibly as an apology for forcing them to witness such a scene).

 

Yu Ziyuan’s about to make her way to the first row to sit with Jiang Yanli, when she sees Lan Qiren in her spot.

 

Jiang Cheng really hopes they don’t duke it out in a church. He’s not sure who would win.

 

Instead, Yu Ziyuan bows in greeting, turning around to sit next to Lan Jingyi and Lan Wangji’s grandmother, and starts up a casual conversation. Jiang Fengmian follows her every movement.

 

Jiang Cheng’s releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

 

“I didn’t know Wei Wuxian wanted mixed seating at his wedding,” Lan Wangji’s grandmother says, laughing as she manages an unexpectedly strong hold onto Lan Jingyi’s hyperactive body. “It was such a shock for us old folks.”

 

“Wei Ying has told us many times what his dream wedding was,” Yu Ziyuan replies.

 

“What do you feel about this, Wangji?” she asks him.

 

“If it makes Wei Ying happy, then I’m happy,” Lan Wangji answers.

 

Lan Qiren stands. The whole church falls silent.

 

“It was a pleasure speaking with you, Jiang Yanli,” he says. “I hope you don’t mind, but I will go relieve myself.”

 

His steps are heavy and clearcut, the sharp echoes of his footsteps carry his every emotion. The church bursts in activity when the door closes behind him. People are mumbling to each other, wondering if the mix seating was the factor that flipped his switch, or if it was Lan Wangji blindly catering towards his fiance.

 

Jiang Cheng mouths, what was that? to Jiang Yanli, but she merely shakes her head at him. Jin Zixuan looks like he’s about to piss his pants any second now.

 

Thankfully, more guests start to pile in as the time becomes closer to the wedding. Jin Guangyao arrives shortly behind his father, anxiously looking around for anybody he knew. Jiang Cheng waves a hand at him.

 

“Jin Guangyao, thanks for coming,” he greets, shaking hands. Upon seeing Jin Guangyao’s bashful smile, he nods his head toward the Jiang family’s side of the pews. “Lan Xichen is over there, by the way.”

 

Jin Guangyao bows in thanks and turns to leave, but Jiang Cheng tightens his grip on him for the slightest second. “And don’t think I don’t remember you kicking us out of Walmart all those months ago.”

 

Jin Guangyao sighs. “You’re still on about that? I couldn’t help it! My manager was watching me—”

 

He’s interrupted when Nie Mingjue bumps into him, staring down at him in disgust. “Ugh, you came?”

 

“I was invited…”

 

“And what a shame that was,” Nie Mingjue says, pushing past him to make his way to Lan Xichen. Jin Guangyao sighs, but follows after him nonetheless.

 

“I haven’t seen him since high school and he’s still treating me like that…” he mumbles to himself.

 

Now that the guests begin to arrive at a smooth rhythm, Jiang Cheng can finally let his heart rest, respectfully greeting each and every guest with a handshake and a bow, thanking them for coming, and informing them of the seating arrangement. He’s beginning to start thinking that the wedding will be fine—

 

Until Wen Chao walks through the door.

 

Jiang Cheng’s smile drops, but he forces himself to still bow.

 

“What a boring place to get married in,” Wen Chao comments, scanning the church with a scrutinizing glare. He hugs Wang Lingjiao closer to him. Jiang Cheng has to remind himself not to puke. “When we get married, let’s do it on top of the tallest skyscraper in the world!”

 

“Oh my god,” Wang Lingjiao moans, fluttering her eyes at him. “Like the Eiffel Tower?”

 

Jiang Cheng squints his eyes at her, but his expression instantly changes to shock when he sees Wen Zhuliu walking closely behind him, narrowing his eyes at every little thing that moves as if it’s going to come alive and stab Wen Chao in the back. Jiang Cheng can only dream.

 

“He brought his bodyguard?” Jiang Cheng gapes as Wen Ning follows them. “To a church? What does he need protecting from? The power of Christ?”

 

Wen Ning gives him an apologetic smile, scratching his head. “Sorry…”

 

Wen Qing merely rolls her eyes, her dress flowing by her legs as she pushes past the both of them. “Let’s hurry and get seats away from them. It looks like it might be raining soon.”

 

Jiang Cheng cranes his neck out the doors, frowning when grey clouds really do look like they’re about to take form.

 

“Hey, do you know when the band’s going to arrive?” Jiang Cheng calls after her. She was the one to schedule them, after all. He represses yet another sigh when Wen Qing shrugs at him, shaking her head.

 

“A storm’s going to be starting soon,” she says. “I wouldn’t count on them coming.”

 

A quiet commotion makes it way to Jiang Cheng’s ears. Hoping it’s not another seating arrangement issue, he turns around to see a circle of older women whispering to each other. Following their gaze, he sighs.

 

“Can’t you do something about your emo roommate?” Jiang Cheng asks, once he approaches Xiao Xingchen and his adoptive daughter. He glances at Xue Yang hunched over in the corner of the pews, his legs propped up on the row in front of him as he plays some violent sword game on his phone. “He’s scaring some of the guests…”

 

Xiao Xingchen gives him a sorry smile. “I’m sorry, I made him come because I thought it would be good for him.”

 

A-Qing jumps in, hanging off Xiao Xingchen’s arm. “Oh, he’s always like that! No one knows what his problem is!”

 

“Not so loud, A-Qing. Please don’t stand on the pews,” Xiao Xingchen gently scolds. Once he hears her sit back down, he directs his attention back at Jiang Cheng. “Has Zichen arrived yet?”

 

Jiang Cheng waves at Song Lan coming through the doors. “Yeah, I just waved him over.”

 

“Thank you,” Xiao Xingchen says. He pats A-Qing on the back, and she hurriedly turns around from where she was previously making faces at Xue Yang a couple of rows behind them.

 

“Ah, yes! Thank you, Uncle Jiang!”

 

Jiang Cheng steps back to survey the church. Most of the guests have already arrived. The seating is balanced and also mixed. Hopefully Lan Sizhui and Jin Ling have found the rings. He checks his watch. The only thing he could do in a time span of twenty minutes was check up on Wei Ying.

 


 

The last person Jiang Cheng expects to see walking out of Wei Ying’s changing room is Lan Qiren.

 

Yet, that’s exactly what happens.

 

A sinking feeling in his stomach, Jiang Cheng hurries inside the room to find Wei Ying standing in a daze. He’s staring at himself in the mirror, blank eyes and a frown on his face. He turns when he hears the door close.

 

“Oh, Jiang Cheng.” An empty smile. “I didn’t see you there—”

 

“What the hell did he say to you?”

 

Wei Ying falters. He turns around to face the mirror again.

 

“Basically not to fuck up the wedding.” He laughs. He trails off, scratching his chin. “...And that this wedding was already subpar to begin with.”

 

Jiang Cheng feels his stomach twist with outrage. “He can’t just say that to you. This is your wedding!”

 

“I know,” Wei Ying says. “I told him that.”

 

“Then why—”

 

“That’s why I’ll make this wedding to go perfectly.” Wei Ying’s eyes glow, a sense of determination in them.

 

Jiang Cheng hesitates on replying.

 

What are you more concerned about? Jiang Cheng wants to ask. Making the wedding go perfectly or actually getting married?

 

But Wei Ying has that fiery look in his eyes he gets whenever he’s bound to finish something once he’s started, and Jiang Cheng feels the frustration suddenly grow into an outburst of rage now directed his stupid brother.

 

“What is this wedding for?” he challenges.

 

Wei Ying furrows his eyebrows at him. “What?”

 

“This wedding is for you to get married to Lan Wangji. Not a chance for you to finally defeat Lan Qiren at this pathetic game of chess you’ve been playing.”

 

Wei Ying’s eyes widen.

 

“You do realize you’re marrying Lan Wangji and not Lan Qiren, right?” he continues, not being able to stop once he’s started. “Then, do you realize how selfish you’ve been acting this entire time? You dumb idiot, why did you never stop to consider what Lan Wangji wanted for this wedding? He’s marrying you, not his uncle! He only cares about what you think of the wedding. That’s why he didn’t say anything about your decisions until it became so obvious that you weren’t making those decisions based on how you really feel.”

 

Jiang Cheng grabs on to Wei Ying’s shoulders. “Who cares about what Lan Qiren thinks! Who cares about what the Lan family or the Jiang family thinks! Every single person here is waiting to watch your wedding, not some typical Lan family tradition nobody expects you to follow!”

 

Jiang Cheng pokes at Wei Ying’s chest. “You are Wei Wuxian! You are bound to fuck things up by nature! But this wedding would not be your wedding without some of those very fuck ups.”

 

Jiang Cheng exhales once, stepping back to smooth down his suit. Wei Ying stares at him wide eyed, before his gaze falls to the ground.

 

“I… fucked this up big time, didn’t I?” he breathes out. He collapses on the couch, his face in his hands.

 

“You wouldn’t be you without fucking up somehow,” Jiang Cheng offers, shrugging.

 

Wei Ying breathes out a laugh. “Do you think Lan Zhan will forgive me for this?”

 

“Of course he will. He’s pulled through the last half year, hasn’t he?”

 

Wei Ying breathes in, and lets his body drop when he exhales. “...Thank you, Jiang Cheng.”

 

“Just… don’t fuck up anymore, please. I’m too stressed already.”

 

A laugh makes its way out of Wei Ying—

 

And the lights turn off.

 

The room disappears into darkness.

 

“What happened?” Jiang Cheng hears Wei Ying ask.

 

Jiang Cheng frowns, but his eyebrows raise when he remembers the dark clouds forming over the church.

 

“There’s a thunderstorm happening outside right now,” he answers, and Wei Ying sighs.

 

They’ve gotten used to the darkness enough for Jiang Cheng to see Wei Ying give him a look, but he’s already nodding his head, saying, “Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll go check on it.” But before he disappears behind the door, Jiang Cheng points at him and says with a warning tone, “Hey, don’t forget. You’re getting married to Lan Wangji.”

 

Wei Ying’s eyes widen again, but they soften, a thankful smile spreads across his face.

 


 

It’s a well known fact that Jiang Cheng doesn’t run. It’s humiliating and exhausting and only proves terrible time management. But damn it, if his brother wants a decent wedding, a bitch might just have to power walk.

 

It isn’t as chaotic as Jiang Cheng feared it would be when he came back. A couple mumbles, everyone glancing around in question, A-Qing shouting excitedly at how they were all going to be eaten by some walking corpses—just normal stuff.

 

Jiang Cheng approaches Lan Wangji, who informs him, “We’ve lit up the candles already in the church, but…”

 

Jiang Cheng glances around the open space and the heavy darkness. “It’s still pretty dark.”

 

Lan Sizhui pops up from behind a pew, raising up a smaller, individual candle. “What about these, Uncle Lan?”

 

Lan Wangji accepts the candle when Lan Sizhui bashfully makes his way toward him. “It’s Lan family tradition to light the candles after the newlyweds kiss.”

 

But if we light the candles, we'll be able to actually see the newlyweds kiss.” Lan Sizhui plays with his fingers behind his back, rocking on his heels.

 

Lan Wangji smiles, patting his head. “What a wonderful idea.”

 

“Wow, little Sizhui is so smart for his age!” Some of the members of the Lan family praise, reaching for their own candles.

 

Jiang Cheng gathers and passes around the lighters, lighting up some of the candles for the elders and children as Lan Wangji does the same on his side of the pew.

 

When he reaches Lan Qiren, he pauses as Lan Qiren slowly raises a hand. “I will wait, if you don’t mind,” he says.

 

Jiang Cheng hesitates, before bowing and moving on to Jiang Yanli, who openly accepts the lighter, the light of the flame dancing across her face as she smiles at him.

 

“Lan Qiren didn’t light his candle…” he hears someone whisper in the back.

 

Jiang Cheng sneaks a glance at Lan Qiren to see if he’s heard, but even if he had, he continues to face forward, his eye closed in concentration.

 

Despite Lan Qiren refusing to take part in the occasion, only very few of the Lan elders actually refused to participate as well. The church is still rather dark in areas where it’s void of candles, but the ambiance surrounding the two pews in the center of the church is so tranquil and calm and beautiful, it’s hard to believe that this was Wei Ying’s wedding.

 

(Yet, when Jiang Cheng considers that this was the result of a blackout, he can’t help but think it’s the perfect metaphor for Wei Ying’s entire being.)

 

By now, Jiang Cheng should have known not to think the wedding’s going to be fine. Every time he’s thought that—every single time—something else inevitably goes wrong at that exact moment, which is why he really shouldn’t be surprised when Jiang Fengmian slips on a suspiciously familiar area near the fountain.

 

An agonizing yell forces itself out of his lips.

 


 

“You can’t walk me down the aisle?” Wei Ying asks, distraught. “What happened? Are you okay?”

 

Jiang Fengmian shakes his head apologetically, laying on the couch in the changing room with an ice pack on his hip.

 

“It’s my fault,” Jiang Cheng confesses, an overbearing sense of guilt weighing down in his stomach. “Jin Ling spilled some water near the fountain and I forgot to clean it up.”

 

“No, it wasn’t anyone’s fault,” Jiang Fengmian grunts out. “It was dark. I couldn’t see the water. That’s all.”

 

“This is what happens when you get too impatient,” Yu Ziyuan scolds, holding the ice pack when his hand grew tired. “I told you Wei Ying was fine, and now look what’s happened!”

 

Jiang Cheng frowns. “I’ll walk you down the aisle.”

 

“Can you?” Wei Ying asks, a tired hand runs down his face. “I've already asked you to do so much. How busy are you right now?”

 

“No. You’re his best man, who will fill in your duties when you aren’t there?” Yu Ziyuan counters.

 

“What else can we do?” Jiang Cheng asks. “I’m the only other option left.”

 

“No, you aren’t,” Yu Ziyuan states. She stands up, approaching Wei Ying, extending her hand. “I will walk you down the aisle, Wei Ying.”

 

Wei Ying stares at her in shock. “Y-You will?”

 

Jiang Cheng and Jiang Fengmian also stare wide eyed. It was a common assumption that Yu Ziyuan did not like Wei Ying. He was adopted into the Jiang family at the age of five, and it didn’t take a scientist to figure out that Wei Ying was not the definition of a Jiang. He was rowdy and loud, he didn’t always take no for an answer, manners had no place in his dictionary of nobility.

 

Yu Ziyuan was a woman who did not allow others to take her family lightly. Therefore, when Wei Ying was brought along to his first family gathering with those outside of their immediate family, Yu Ziyuan refused to let Wei Ying make a mess of himself and embarrass the Jiang family, and taught him herself for the whole week prior.

 

During that time, Jiang Cheng likes to think they became closer. Even though Yu Ziyuan still snapped at him more often than his siblings, she also watched over him more closely, mercilessly flaring her quick witted tongue at those who dared talked down on him in her presence.

 

“Is that any way to address those who’ve just offered to help you?” Yu Ziyuan lectures. Wei Ying shakes his head, smiling.

 

“No, ma’am.”

 

“Then we shall practice our gait before we head out,” she commands. She gestures for him to take her arm. “Quickly, before we run out of time. Do you not want to get married today?”

 


 

Jiang Cheng and Jiang Fengmian return to the main body of the church to Jin Ling bawling his little heart out.

 

“G-Grandpa died! ” he cries, as Jiang Yanli tries her hardest to comfort him.

 

“He didn’t die, A-Ling, he just fell,” she says, bobbing him on her leg.

 

“But I spilled the water…”

 

Jiang Yanli kisses him on his head, shushing him. “It’s okay. I know you feel bad, but you can make it up to him by being a good flower boy, okay? Can you do that?”

 

Jin Ling sniffles. It doesn’t stop the snot from falling out of his nose, though.

 

Jiang Yanli smiles in relief when she sees her father make his way toward them, trying his hardest to hide his limp as he slowly sits down next to them. “A-Ling, look! Your grandpa’s perfectly fine!”

 

Jin Ling almost starts to cry again, extending his arms so that Jiang Fengmian can pick him up and place him on his lap. He rubs Jin Ling’s back as he buries his head in his grandfather’s neck. “See? Look, I’m fine, A-Ling.”

 

Lan Wangji approaches Jiang Cheng, a frown on his face. “How is Wei Ying?”

 

“He’s fine,” Jiang Cheng replies. “Worried at first, but now Yu Ziyuan is walking him down the aisle.”

 

Lan Qiren sighs from where he sits. “A woman? Walking the groom down the aisle?”

 

The church disintegrates into silence.

 

Lan Wangji slowly turns around. Jiang Cheng takes a step back.

 

“Uncle,” Lan Wangji says, and even though Lan Wangji is known to not reveal much emotion through his words, Jiang Cheng’s eyes naturally widen at the hidden animosity in his tone. “What do you mean by that?”

 

Lan Qiren holds his head high. “Wei Wuxian is not taking this wedding seriously.”

 

Jiang Cheng holds his breath, restraining himself from talking back.

 

“Uncle, Wei Ying has worked very hard for this wedding for the past seven months,” Lan Wangji says. “I will not let you insult him by saying he has not taken this seriously. Throughout the wedding planning, he has made every decision with your acceptance in mind. If you do not respect him like he has to you, then I…”

 

Lan Wangji breathes in. “I must ask you to leave.”

 

Throughout the entire time Jiang Cheng has known Lan Wangji, the most defining characteristic he can think of when it comes to Lan Wangji is “silence”. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Lan Wangji does not talk a lot, choosing to express his emotions through his actions or his expressions.

 

So for Lan Wangji to verbally express himself in defense of Wei Ying…

 

Lan Qiren widens his eyes. For a moment neither of them back down, and in that split moment, Jiang Cheng thinks that it’s perhaps Lan Qiren and Lan Wangji who are going to duke it out in church, but Lan Qiren exhales through his nose in a sigh-like breath, and turns away.

 

“My apologies, Wangji,” he says. “That was rude of me.”

 

Lan Wangji only tears his stare away when Lan Qiren lights his individual candle.

 

Wen Qing quickly approaches Jiang Cheng from the entrance of the church, having missed that entire exchange. She pulls him to the side.

 

“It turns out that the band really isn’t coming,” she whispers. Thunder roars over them in a terrible joke of irony. “That means we don’t have a pianist to play when Wei Ying walks down the aisle.”

 

Jiang Cheng draws in his eyebrows, grabbing his chin in thought.

 

“Um, excuse me?”

 

Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing turn around. Lan Xichen, in his pew, raises his hand, a soft smile on his face.

 

“If you don’t mind, I have my liebing I can play,” he offers.

 

Jiang Cheng raises his eyebrows. “You have it on you right now?”

 

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” Lan Xichen turns to grab onto Jin Guangyao’s sleeve beside him, who’s been inconspicuously trying to get out of the pew. “A-Yao, why don’t we play together again?”

 

“Ah… I don’t know, I haven’t played such a long time…” Jin Guangyao apologetically says, bowing repeatedly.

 

Nie Mingjue scoffs on Lan Xichen’s other side, crossing his arms. “I wouldn’t have expected any more of you. Dropping out of this like you did back in high school?”

 

Jiang Cheng has a feeling he’s stepping into a landmine.

 

“Why do you think I dropped out of the band in the first place?” Jin Guangyao asks.

 

Jiang Cheng blinks in shock, switching his gaze back and forth to the trio in front of him.

 

They were in a high school band? Jiang Cheng mouths to Wen Qing, who rolls her eyes and shrugs.

 

Nie Mingjue slams his fist on the spine of the pew. “If you’re not a coward, you’ll play for Wei Wuxian’s wedding!”

 

Jin Guangyao’s already taking out his instrument. “I don’t need you to tell me that!”

 

“Does that mean the 3Zun Boyz is back together again?” Lan Xichen asks cheerfully, clapping his hands together.

 

Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing merely leave before another fight ensues.

 


 

When Wei Ying walks down the aisle, Yu Ziyuan on his arm, Jiang Cheng actually has to force himself not to cry.

 

A-Qing leads the trio of boys down the aisle with her head held high and a bright smile on her face, Song Lan whispering every visual detail into Xiao Xingchen’s ear. Her skirt twirls around her body with every step she takes. She walks with the confidence of a leading lady.

 

She wanted to skip down the aisle, Jiang Cheng had heard her demand so earlier, but Xiao Xingchen sternly warned her to pause to wait for the younger children to catch up with her. Upon hearing her getting scolded, Xue Yang scoffed, which then caused A-Qing to turn around and begin yet another annoyance-filled staring contest.

 

Lan Sizhui’s gait is almost the complete opposite of his companion. He’s shy and small, keeping his head down yet glancing upward at the adults who coo over his cuteness. Jiang Cheng is just glad they really did manage to find the ring bearer pillow.

 

Finally, Lan Jingyi holds Jin Ling’s hand to walk down the aisle, the younger of the two still sniffling and wiping snot from his nose. Jiang Cheng has to hold in his laughter when he sees Jin Ling throw the entire basket instead of his individual flowers.

 

The… 3Zun Boyz end up performing a piece of beautiful traditional Chinese music, a perfect fit to the soft glow of the ambiance surrounding the guests of the church.

 

Lan Wangji lets out a shaky breath when Wei Ying finally walks through the doors of the church.

 

Jiang Cheng has never seen Lan Wangji shed a tear, but that might just change today.

 

Wei Ying walks carefully, nibbling on his lower lip in concentration as he slightly glances at his feet, probably recounting the steps Yu Ziyuan taught him in his head just a few minutes prior. But he slips. Jiang Cheng flinches. Some of the water on the floor had most likely been left on the floor.

 

But Yu Ziyuan keeps a tight grip on Wei Ying’s arm. Jiang Cheng sees her whisper something, and it’s that moment Wei Ying glances up, and finally meets Lan Wangji’s eyes.

 

Lan Wangji sucks in a short breath.

 

Wei Ying smiles—a smile so great and thankful; one that says, I’m so glad I’m marrying you right now. He blinks back a couple of tears, and Jiang Cheng finds himself copying the action.

 

He feels like he’s intruding on such an intimate moment.

 

Wei Ying and Lan Wangji only stare at each other, and Wei Ying doesn’t even process that he’s made it to the altar, even as Yu Ziyuan gently pats his arm and lets go.

 

Wei Ying grasps onto Lan Wangji’s extended hand, and Jiang Chang tries to inconspicuously wipe a tear away on his shoulder.

 

The music stops, Wei Ying has safely made it to the altar without slipping, but all anybody can hear is the raging thunderstorm outside and Jin Ling’s sniffling.

 

Wei Ying lets out a short laugh, but gasps immediately after, placing a hand over his mouth. He glances up at Lan Wangji to see if he’s noticed, but all he gets is a soft smile. Wei Ying smiles embarrassingly at the floor.

 

Lan Wangji gently brushes away some of Wei Ying’s bangs from his face, caressing his cheek. Jiang Cheng sees Wei Ying say something in an apologetic manner, but before Lan Wangji can answer—

 

The priest clears his throat.

 

Jiang Cheng grimaces.

 

And grimaces even more when he doesn’t recognize this priest. He stares at his sister standing beside him. “What the hell happened to the last priest?”

 

“Father Andrew got sick so we had to find a last minute replacement. The Wen family offered this one,” she whispers back. “And don’t say hell in here.”

 

To say the least, this priest was a lot worse than the original one. He drones on and on about useless things and keeps accidentally saying things like “man and woman” and “Adam and Eve” and Jiang Cheng can tell everyone is uncomfortable.

 

(Jiang Cheng also wonders how the Wen family was able to transfer this priest here when the band couldn’t even make their way through the storm.)

 

If not for the comforting fingers Wei Ying runs over Lan Wangji’s hands, Jiang Cheng’s sure he would have tackled the priest to the ground, no hesitation.

 

They miraculously make it through the sermon without a single injury, but somewhere deep within Jiang Cheng knows this isn’t the end of it. Lan Wangji’s about to start his vows when Jiang Cheng spots a flickering flame in the corner of his eyes.

 

Jin Ling, who had been sitting on Jiang Fengmian’s lap ever since he finished walking the aisle, starts to play with a spare candle beside, curiously placing the flower he’s twiddling with above the flame and—

 

“Jin Ling—” Jiang Cheng forces out.

 

Jiang Yanli gasps, calling for her husband.

 

A blur of black passes by Jiang Cheng. Wei Ying had left Lan Wangji at the altar to grab at Jin Ling, whose suit had already caught on fire.

 

With nowhere else left to go, Wei Ying frantically looks around the church and—

 

Jumps inside the fountain, Jin Ling in his arms.

 

They resurface. Wei Ying slaps at the smoke disipating from Jin Ling’s sleeve, checking his body for burns, yet lecturing him all the same.

 

“What were you thinking, A-Ling? Playing with fire…”

 

Jin Ling’s voice is quiet. “I’m sorry…”

 

Wei Ying kneels down in the water, and hugs Jin Ling tightly to his chest. It’s only when he lets go does he realize the crowd of people surrounding him. And it’s only when he sees the crowd does he realize exactly what situation he put himself in.

 

Wei Ying stands up, but flinches when the water drips down his suit. He can’t bear to glance up, so instead he turns around, silently squeezing the water out of his hair.

 

By the end of the day, Wei Ying really is in a pig pen covered in mud—more like a fountain wet with dirty water, but honestly, Wei Ying might as well be in mud at this point.

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji calls, making his way toward the front of the crowd. He stops before the fountain.

 

Wei Ying flinches at the sound of his voice, his shoulders hunched.

 

“Ah, Lan Zhan, I really am sorry,” he says, a clenched fist against his forehead. Jiang Cheng sees him try to subtly wipe away his tears. “I… really wanted this to be a wedding you and your family could be proud of.”

 

There’s a silent wave of understanding that combs over the guests at his words. All of it makes sense, the choice in church, the fountain, vanilla cake—they were all traditions of the Lan family. Yet, when Wei Ying tried to maintain at least a little of him in the wedding, he was frowned upon and judged among the Lan family.

 

Lan Wangji breathes in, and steps into the fountain.

 

Everyone gasps.

 

Wei Ying turns around at the sound, gaping when he sees Lan Wangji walking towards him, the pants of his expensive suit turning darker and darker.

 

“Wait, Lan Zhan, your pants—” Wei Ying tries to warn, but Lan Wangji continues to push himself through the water to take Wei Ying’s hands into his own.

 

Wei Ying still does not meet his eyes, too afraid, too ashamed, but Lan Wangji gently tilts his chin up with his fingers, a reassuring smile on his face.

 

He suddenly glares at the priest, who also suddenly jumps in, and splashes into the water as well, scrambling to reach them in the middle.

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says again. Jiang Cheng widens his eyes when he realizes that he's continuing his vows. “I am not well with words. You know that very intimately. Yet, I have reserved many nights for you, writing this over and over again, and reading it over and over again, and saying it over and over again, until it was imprinted on my very heart.”

 

Wei Ying sniffles, trying to maintain his hiccups.

 

“It was when I was writing this that I realized just how just many nights I would never hesitate to sacrifice for you, and coincidentally, it the same amount of love that I hold for you as well—that is, an infinite amount.”

 

Wei Ying sputters out a laugh, and Jiang Cheng can’t help but huff at the monotoned delivery of a line as cheesy as that.

 

“You told me one night how much you loved hearing those cheesy pickup lines. But my lack of hesitation to tell you them is also when I realized the nonexistent extent to which I would do anything to hear you laugh again.”

 

Wei Ying leans into his fiance’s palm as he caresses his cheek.

 

“I used to wake up at seven every morning because that’s what I was told to do,” Lan Wangji wipes a tear away with his thumb. “But now I wake up just to see your face everyday.”

 

He smiles, the biggest smile Jiang Cheng has ever seen on his face. “Wei Ying, I don’t care what kind of wedding we have, just as long as I get to marry you in the end.”

 

Wei Ying chokes out a laugh, no longer holding in his tears. Lan Sizhui hurries and stumbles into the fountain, and Wei Ying almost rushes over to help him, but freezes when he sees the glint of two rings in his hands.

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying struggles out, probably praying for voice not to crack. “I hold my heart on my sleeve. You know that very intimately as well. So, I realize how it must make you feel when I openly show affection for other people.”

 

Wei Ying swings their hands. “But Lan Zhan, I have to confess something! I actually like it when you get mad at me over that, because it shows you actually care.”

 

Lan Wangji gives him a look Jiang Cheng knows Wei Ying is very intimate with as well, but Wei Ying laughs it off. “I’m sorry I never told you about what I really wanted for our wedding. I was being dishonest, and it was selfish of me.”

 

He stares at Jiang Cheng as he says that.

 

Wei Ying takes a deep breath. “I know you already probably realized this, but I wanted to impress your uncle, and I thought the only way to be accepted into your family was to do that. But I know now that that doesn’t matter, because I love you, Lan Zhan, for you, not for your family.”

 

Lan Sizhui raises the pillow above his head so Wei Ying and Lan Wangji can pluck the rings out of their place. As they exchange rings, Wei Ying’s still sniffling and snot is dripping everywhere, but Lan Wangji still looks at him like he hangs the stars from the skies.

 

“And by the power vested in me,” the priests says—which Jiang Cheng doesn’t expect is a lot, considering he was recommended from the Wen family, but that’s just him, “I pronounce you husband and—”

 

Lan Wangji gives him another glare.

 

“...husband,” he finishes off weakly.

 

Jiang Cheng feels someone poke at his side, and looks down to see A-Qing struggling to make her way to the front. He steps to the side, letting her through, but he misjudges just how little space he has and god damn it—now he’s the one tripping and—

 

Jiang Cheng falls into the water.

 

Silence.

 

Wei Ying and Lan Wangji had just finished saying their vows, and Jiang Cheng fucks it up by making yet another scene merely seconds after the priest finishes saying, you may kiss the groom.

 

But hysterical laughter reverberates throughout the entire church. Wei Ying wipes his tears, leaning on Lan Wangji for support, his chest heaving up and down as he almost starts to hyperventilate from how much he’s laughing. Jiang Cheng would be offended at how much he's laughing if he wasn't currently trying to stop himself from dying out of embarrassment.

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t outright laugh along, but he’s still smiling, which is saying at least something.

 

Jiang Yanli steps into the water, pulling her dress up to hop over the edge of the water fountain before dropping it into the water. She extends a hand out to Jiang Cheng, who gladly takes it without an ounce of regret in his body. Jin Zixuan reluctantly follows her, grimacing at how brown his bright yellow pants becomes.

 

Lan Xichen quickly follows, entering with his former high school band mates, Jin Guangyao and Nie Mingjue arguing over each other despite stepping into the water fountain in perfect sync.

 

Even Jiang Fengmian gives his hand to Yu Ziyuan as they slowly and carefully step into the water fountain.

 

Eventually, everyone starts to make their way into the water fountain; some trip, some just sit in the water, the little kids are playing around, splashing water everywhere; hell, even the adults start to play around as well.

 

Jiang Cheng lets out a laugh, lightly splashing water on Jin Ling, who’s probably forgotten that this whole thing happened because of him.

 

Song Lan aids Xiao Xingchen over the edge of the water fountain, and A-Qing relentlessly annoys Xue Yang, who coolly hangs out as he sits on the edge, his feet swaying in the water.  

 

No one bothers to pay any attention to Wen Chao, who’s currently being blocked by Wen Zhuliu from getting into the water because “his father would become angry at him”.

 

Wen Qing, who mercilessly rips the bottom of her dress so that the fabric doesn’t get wet, reprimands her brother, her hands on the cuffs of his pants as Wen Ning is forcefully getting pulled into the fountain.

 

Nie Huaisang watches from the sidelines like he always does, eyes glinting behind his waving fan.

 

Amidst the chaos, Jiang Cheng spots Lan Wangji take Wei Ying into his arms and kiss him (finally).

 

The last person who has yet to enter is Lan Qiren, who also still has yet to show at least any form of acceptance towards Wei Ying. He stands there, hands behind his back and his postures as straight as ever, looking onward to the chaos with unamused eyes.

 

Wei Ying trudges through the water to greet him, and with a bashful smile, he extends his hand and says, “Sorry this wedding wasn’t what you wanted. But personally, I don’t think I would’ve wanted it any differently!”

 

It’s such a short, simplistic explanation for a bundle of feelings so complex that has evolved over the last seven months, but it’s also very Wei Ying. He’s never been someone to delve on a topic for longer than necessary, so it’s no surprise that he’s all smiles and sunshine now that the problem has washed over.

 

In the end, he chose to approach this situation just like he always did: with a bright smile and the mental strength that said, I know who I am, and if you don’t like it, suck it up!

 

Lan Qiren eyes him with the same strict expression. Then he sighs.

 

“Frankly, I don’t think wedding could have gone any differently, either,” he says, slowly taking Wei Ying’s hand.

 

Wei Ying’s smile brightens tenfold, and Jiang Cheng thinks that the wedding will finally—finally—end up being just fine—

 

Until Wei Ying pulls Lan Qiren into the fountain.

 

Rest in peace, Jiang Cheng thinks, his eyes closed in prayer, you will be missed.