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Wei Wuxian had to be a genius. He was a genius so powerful, his visionary so blinding, that the universe itself was conspiring to kill him before he could finish his degree and properly unleash himself upon the world, thus upsetting the natural balance forever with the power of his art. This was the only possible explanation for why fate had decided to turn his figure drawing class into a twice-weekly torture instead of the fun and laidback course that it had previously been.

Everything had started out fine. The class at large had been ribbing each other about the nude portraiture assignment ever since they saw it on the syllabus at the beginning of the quarter, and while they had mostly gotten the jokes out of their collective system, there was still an air of (admittedly somewhat immature) anticipation when that portion of the class was upon them. Everyone with half a brain had figured it wasn't exactly going to be a sexy time; sitting around a room with three naked people on stools and twenty of your classmates that you liked to varying degrees was a fair few degrees away from an orgy. Still, the jokes and comments had picked up again in the week leading up, and Wei Wuxian hadn't been immune, mostly because he got glee out of Nie Huaisang's flustered reactions.

He had managed to be all business (well, mostly business, at any rate) when the class all filtered into the studio and began setting up in a circle. He and Nie Huaisang sat next to each other as usual, Wei Wuxian for the companionship and Nie Huaisang for the moral support. Wei Wuxian had been just getting his easel and supplies all set up just the way he liked them when the models arrived, all clad in robes for modesty before and after the class, and everything went straight tits-up.

Okay, full disclosure? He'd caught sight out of the corner of his eye, still focused on straightening his things, and at first he had thought that it was Lan Xichen. That alone was something of a shock, and his mind had already been racing with trying to process it enough to turn it into a joke. He'd have to say something about it to Lan Wangji the next time they saw each other, how could he not? Hey Lan Zhan, I saw your brother naked, isn't that funny? Joking about it was the only way he could make it not weird enough to be comfortable with seeing someone he knew well but wasn't super close to completely nude.

Then the model turned so that Wei Wuxian could see his face and began unbelting his robe, and Wei Wuxian's heart and stomach plummeted straight down through the floor and into the depths of hell, and he wished that the rest of him had followed.

Oh no. Oh no.

Wei Wuxian immediately began both praying and apologizing to every god he could think of, plus a few that he might have just made up on the spot, because he must have offended one of them. That was the only explanation. Or perhaps Wei Wuxian was having a stroke. You hallucinated during those, right? Some might say twenty was too young to have a stroke, but some might also say that Lan Wangji, whom Wei Wuxian would readily call the most uptight person he knew (even if he was also Wei Wuxian's favorite person) was really here, in the studio, getting naked in front of the entire class. Something had to be messing with his perception of reality here. Despite his denial, that very scene continued to unfold right in front of him.

No! Have mercy! Don't make me draw Lan Zhan's butt!

The universe did not have mercy. Wei Wuxian and all twenty of his classmates were going to have to draw Lan Zhan's butt.

He could see Nie Huaisang in his peripheral vision, and at least they seemed to be having much the same reaction, if the way that Nie Huaisang was very intently staring directly into the center of his drawing paper and refusing to actually look up at the model he was supposed to be drawing was any indication. Wei Wuxian was a little surprised that Nie Huaisang hadn't just spontaneously combusted from the stress of the situation. He was surprised that he himself hadn't spontaneously combusted.

But it was fine, this was fine, plenty of people had modeled nude for countless art classes at universities all over the world and it meant nothing and oh no they made eye contact.

Wei Wuxian quickly followed Nie Huaisang's example and dropped his gaze back to the paper, but that really wasn't much help because the paper contained his own sketch of Lan Wangji's half-finished naked body, and you know what? If someone had walked in the door right now and personally picked Wei Wuxian up and tossed him out the third-story window to his death, that would have been just fine.

Okay, okay, he just had to like, confess all his sins and that would make his torture go faster or something right? So he was sorry for all the times he cut class, and the time he had hidden all of Jiang Cheng's pants on the first day of the school year, and that one package of Honey Buns that he shoplifted from a gas station when he was thirteen, and for sneaking porn into Lan Wangji's desk and getting them both detention for a week in the ninth grade-

Oh no. Oh no. That had probably been the first time that Lan Wangji had ever seen porn, and it might have messed with his head. Was this all Wei Wuxian's doing? Had he turned Lan Wangji into a pervert?

Or maybe this was punishment for hubris? He'd simply thought about Lan Zhan being naked too much over the course of his life and now he was getting what he'd fantasized about in the worst way possible.

Or maybe Lan Wangji was possessed. Yes, that seemed the most likely. Something had gone awry and he had been possessed by a malevolent spirit, and this was the only way that he could cry for help. Wei Wuxian would have to call around after class to see if he could find an exorcist. He had no idea if those still existed, and he imagined that their services had to be ridiculously expensive if they did, but it would be worth it to rescue Lan Wangji from the clutches of whatever horrific being was doing this to both of them (and also Nie Huaisang).

When time was finally up and the models rose from their stools to dress, Wei Wuxian could have cried with relief. He thought that Nie Huaisang might actually be crying for real. The last two hours had lasted a lifetime and a half.

Wei Wuxian packed his supplies at record speed and nearly sprinted to freedom outside, only to run smack into Lan Wangji in the hallway because the universe clearly wasn't yet done punishing him for his many transgressions.

"Lan Zhan!" He cried out on reflex, and then realized he had no idea what to follow up with. "I see you're shredded now," his mouth continued, regardless of his brain, and for the hundredth time that afternoon, he wished to die.

Lan Wangji just blinked at him. "Mn."

"Yes, well, good work at the gym! I, uh, you see, it's paid off, and so I'm sure you wanted to show off, hahaha!" Someone please walk by right now and just kill me.

"Mn." If Wei Wuxian hadn't known any better, he would have thought that Lan Wangji sounded amused at his expense. But of course that couldn't be the case, because that would just be cruel, and Lan Wangji was a pure and noble soul and not the kind of person who would find it funny that Wei Wuxian kept getting distracted thinking about his abs.

God, you could probably grate cheese on those.

"Well," Wei Wuxian said after several moments of silence, and he sent one final hopeless plea skyward when his voice cracked. "I, uh, I guess, you know-"

"See you Thursday, Wei Ying," Lan Wangji interrupted, and turned away to head off to wherever the other models had disappeared to down the hall. This time there was no denying that he had been smiling the tiniest bit, unnoticeable to probably anyone but Wei Wuxian.

Dedication to art, Wei Wuxian decided in that moment, was hell.