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WEI WUXIAN, VAMPIRE HUNTER in: "The Trouble With Vampires"

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Lan WangJi was definitely a vampire.

This was a problem for two reasons:

One, he was the Second Jade of the Lan Sect, one of the four most powerful cultivator houses that were supposed to guard the world against the threat of monsters and the undead.

Two...vampires weren't real.

Jamming his hands deeper into the pockets of his hoodie, Wei WuXian rolled casually down the Caiyi Town sidewalk in his heelies, wearing a rare frown. Vampires didn't exist. They were a stupid Western fairy tale made up for pop culture. Jiangshi, now...he had fought a few of those before. But a former human, who retained their autonomy, the ability to pass as living, yet was still dead? And needed to feed on the blood of other humans? That was a bit much to believe.

And yet...Wei WuXian simply couldn't ignore the evidence he'd seen with his own two eyes.

He had known that something was up with Lan WangJi since their first meeting when Wei WuXian was accepted to study at the Cloud Recesses. He could still remember that night perfectly—the way Lan WangJi had appeared before him in the hanfu uniform like some sort of spectre all in white, his dark hair blowing elegantly in the wind. His eyes, a bewitching pale gold, had been lambent in the moonlight. He was easily the prettiest boy Wei WuXian had ever seen. Pity his face had seemed permanently frozen.

Or dead, Wei WuXian thought now, weaving distractedly through the pedestrians around him, seeking out open stretches where he could coast along as he headed back toward the Cloud Recesses. Even the cheerful calls from the girls selling loquats or Cornetto failed to capture his attention.

Lan WangJi had actually attacked him that first night. Over a bit of liquor! A vampire, hiding in plain sight in one of the four great sects, had attacked him for trying to enter the Cloud Recesses after curfew with liquor!

The hypocrisy of some people!

Of course, Wei WuXian hadn't known at the time what Lan WangJi was. He'd just thought his new classmate was uptight. He'd been intrigued from the start, wanting to crack that impassive mask that hid Lan WangJi's thoughts and made him a mystery. He hadn't understood why Lan WangJi couldn't loosen up and have some fun! He was the Cloud Recesses' model disciple—strong, skilled, intelligent. Always the first to arrive in the classroom and the last to leave. That had been almost funny at first—the idea that he was so gloomy because he never saw the sun. But then...watching him...Wei WuXian had started to notice things that couldn't be as easily overlooked.

Such as the fact that he had fangs.

They weren't...big...but they were very definitely fangs! It was hard to tell, because Lan WangJi almost never raised his voice, and didn't eat with everyone else in the dining hall, but Wei WuXian had seen them. He had actually managed to make the young master Lan angry enough to shout by “accidentally” leaving a porn site open on the Library Pavilion's single, ancient computer. When Lan WangJi had gone to shut down the computer, he had caught sight of the video and turned on Wei WuXian in the blink of an eye, lips peeling back in a snarl as he shouted his name.

And Wei WuXian had seen two small fangs in place of human canines...although he hadn't thought much of it at the time, too busy fleeing Lan WangJi's wrath. He'd made it out of the Library Pavilion and into the sunlight, then glanced back to see Lan WangJi glowering at him from the shadow of the doorway. Laughing, he'd run off. It was only later, describing the incident to his friends and recalling the look on Lan WangJi's face, that he wondered over the fangs Lan WangJi had unwittingly exposed.

Wei WuXian spent a great deal of time watching Lan WangJi. There was something about him that made it hard to look away. It was precisely because he watched him so much that he noticed another odd thing. Lan WangJi didn't only seem to avoid sunlight, he seemed to actually be sickened by it. The few times Wei WuXian saw him away from the buildings of the Cloud Recesses and their shaded walkways, he looked listless. His usually purposeful steps became a shuffle, his posture slackened, his grace gave way to a shambling, wobbly gait that Wei WuXian usually only saw from low-level walking corpses.

Observing him like that one day not long after the Library Pavilion incident, Wei WuXian paused, nearly hidden behind the corner of a building. Lan WangJi was squatting at the edge of a small grassy area, offering something leafy and green to a rabbit. There in the dappled sunlight at the very edge of the shadows cast by the trees, as Lan WangJi lethargically rubbed his eyes with his free hand, Wei WuXian saw him yawn. The light glinted off his fangs, and Wei WuXian thought back to that shout in the Library Pavillion.

He snuck away, muffling the Jiang Sect bell that hung from a belt loop on his jeans, and fished out his phone to do some research.

He had scoffed at the first article about vampires that had come up. Frowned at the second. Closed out the search engine and decided to try another time at the third. Vampires weren't real. If all the cultivator sites weren't curated by the oldest people they could find who could still work a computer, Wei WuXian would have tried those, but they were all dry as dust, and twice as boring. Instead, he had the entirety of the non-cultivator internet at his fingertips, but it seemed to be saturated with nonsense.

The thought wouldn't leave him alone, however, which was how he found himself reading a list of vampiric traits and powers when he should have been enjoying the impromptu party in another guest disciple's room.

Vampires are a type of undead monster that prey upon humans by biting their neck and sucking their blood.

That was a bit of a leap. He hadn't actually seen Lan WangJi bite anyone, but, then...he'd never seen him eat, either. Not even on the rare days when Lan WangJi sat in the dining hall during mealtime.

Vampires are nocturnal, and are generally weakened or destroyed by sunlight. Usually, they will retreat to their coffins during daylight hours, where they will remain in a deathlike sleep.

Well, Lan WangJi didn't take coffin naps in the daytime, but he definitely didn't do well in direct sunlight.

Other weaknesses include the inability to cross running water—

Lan WangJi never did accept any invitations to go with them down to Caiyi Town....

and the inability to enter a private residence without an invitation.

Come to think of it, the times he had sought out Wei WuXian to drag him off for punishment, he hadn't ever actually stepped into Wei WuXian's room.

They are also repelled by garlic, and religious icons such as crosses.

He tried to picture the monk-like HanGuang-Jun being held at bay by a religious icon, and failed.

Vampires have no reflection, and will not appear in photographs.

Hard to tell with that one. The Cloud Recesses looked as if they had been built thousands of years ago and never renovated. There were no glass windows, and the only mirrors Wei WuXian had seen were over the only slightly less ancient sinks in the communal bathroom...which Lan WangJi never seemed to use.

Vampires have a variety of supernatural powers, ranging from the ability to bewitch people—

Wei WuXian was oddly fascinated by him....

to superhuman speed and strength—

Everyone knew about the Lan sect's impressive arm strength, gained through the use of using copying rules while doing handstands as a punishment, but even Lan XiChen admitted that his younger brother—who never got punished—was stronger than he was. Thinking back to their fight on his first night at the Cloud Recesses, Wei WuXian wondered if Lan WangJi's skills had been better than a cultivator his age ought to have been able to manage. It had certainly taken all of his own instincts and agility to avoid being skewered.

to the ability to shape-shift into wolves, bats, or even fog.

...Cool.

Too distracted by what he was reading, he was last to call 'Not it!' and therefore was saddled with the job of going out and bringing back liquor for the party. Already used to sneaking in and out anyway, he didn't mind all that much. It even gave him some time to think about what he had read, and wonder how much of it he could trust...and how he could find out if Lan WangJi ticked all the boxes.

------------------

Wood and rice paper doors could crack like the thunder of divine punishment when opened with sufficient force. The noise was enough to pull Wei WuXian from sleep, and he shouted incoherently, groggy and mildly hungover, slumped halfway on the floor where he had fallen partially off the bed.

“Wei WuXian!” His name sounded out like a whip crack. Around him, other guest disciples were stirring, groping for misplaced phones and wondering what the racket was. Looking to the doorway, Wei WuXian saw Lan WangJi standing there, scowling at the disorder within the room.

“Come receive your punishment,” Lan WangJi ordered him when he met Wei WuXian's eyes.

“Pass.”

“Come!”

“Don't wanna!”

“You do not have a choice,” Lan WangJi ground out.

Not yet awake enough to think straight, Wei WuXian made his mistake. “If you want me, come and get me.

Apparently, that was invitation enough. Lan WangJi stormed into the room and dragged him out by his hood. Rising above Wei WuXian's indignation was the thought that he really needed to find proof that Lan WangJi was a vampire, after all.

------------------

Being a fan of neither patience nor subtlety, Wei WuXian opted for the direct approach. He began tying up his hair in a bun, and wearing his hanfu so that the back of his neck and his throat were exposed. He held his head high in class, and tilted his chin up anytime he caught Lan WangJi's eye, trying to convey through his expression: 'Come on and try me.' It seemed to be working. More than once, he caught Lan WangJi with his hands in his lap, but his fists curled tightly around his clothes, as if desperately holding on to his self-control.

Gleeful over such a reaction, he decided to press his advantage. He waited for Lan WangJi after class one day, making sure to catch him alone on his way back to the jingshi. The element of surprise allowed him to back Lan WangJi up against the wall, and Wei WuXian stepped forward until his chest was nearly pressed up against Lan WangJi's.

“I know your secret,” he said quietly, tilting his head to expose his throat. “I know what you want. Go on. I don't bite.”

Take the bait...! Take the bait!

Lan WangJi was staring at him, eyes wide and mouth hanging open so that the very tips of his fangs were exposed. He licked his lips, and the look of hunger on his face made Wei WuXian shiver. Ready to unsheathe Suibian and righteously kick his ass as soon as Lan WangJi exposed himself for the monster he was, Wei WuXian was unprepared to be shoved roughly back with a hissed: “Shameless!” before his quarry made a run for it.

Hey! Lan Zhan! Come back!”

Lan WangJi did not come back. The direct approach had failed.

Maybe if he gathered other evidence first, he could back him into a corner.

The next day, Wei WuXian again waited for Lan WangJi after class. This time, instead of tempting him to attack, he threw an arm around Lan WangJi's shoulders and snapped a quick photo of the two of them using his phone.

“You're mine now!” he exclaimed, before glancing at his phone to see...a slightly blurry but instantly recognizable photo of himself and Lan WangJi. “Huh,” he frowned as he stared at it. “That's not right.”

Slowly, Lan WangJi pulled out his own phone and held it up, silently offering to take another picture. Mocking Wei WuXian for his failure.

This time, it was Wei WuXian who was forced to retreat.

“I knew I shouldn't have trusted that site,” he muttered to himself, although further research revealed that the lack of reflection and the inability to be photographed had been due to the silver backing on mirrors, and the presence of silver nitrate in film. It would have been helpful to have known that before he'd made a fool of himself.

When a new plan hadn't come to him by the next afternoon, Wei WuXian went wandering to think. Night fell, creeping up upon him so gradually that he failed to notice it until he realized that he could barely see where he was walking. As he started on his way back, skirting the edge of the forest, Lan WangJi suddenly appeared before him, stepping silently out of the shadows.

“Lan Zhan! What are you doing, sneaking up on people in the dark?”

He hadn't brought Suibian with him. Even so, he put on a challenging smirk and lifted his chin, lowering one shoulder as he did so to allow his robe to slip just a bit further from his throat.

“Were you looking for me?”

Lan WangJi said nothing. Instead, he moved forward, so graceful that he appeared to glide over the uneven ground. Wei WuXian didn't move an inch. He flexed his hands at his sides, readying for a fight. Instead, he was taken aback as Lan WangJi thrust out his hand between them, holding a fistful of pure white flowers. He took them out of reflex.

“Lan Zhan, this....”

Wei WuXian had seen such flowers blossoming throughout the Cloud Recesses before, but he had never seen white ones. Noticing that even their stems were white, a chill ran down his spine. The flowers had been drained of color...just like a vampire would drain a human of blood.

A warning? Or a threat?

He looked up, meeting Lan WangJi's eerily beautiful golden eyes...and Lan WangJi darted toward the forest.

“Hey, wait!”

In moments, however, Wei WuXian had lost sight of him. All he saw was a pale mist curling among the trees, silvery in the light of the moon.

“I know you're there! Don't think this is going to scare me off!”

The very next day, he had brought Jiang Cheng down to Caiyi Town to tell him about his suspicions where he was sure Lan WangJi wouldn't overhear. He brought the flowers as proof, but Jiang Cheng nearly laughed him right out of the boat.

“You're an idiot,” he said, and would offer no further opinion on the matter.

As far as dealing with the vampire in their midst, Wei WuXian was on his own.


 

Lan WangJi had absolutely no idea what to do. The guest disciple, the most beautiful boy he had ever seen, the one who couldn't stay out of trouble for a single day...

...Wei Ying...

...was flirting with him! For real!!!

From the first moment Lan WangJi had laid eyes on him, he'd known that Wei Ying was going to turn his world upside-down. His was the fierce beauty of summer thunderstorms, and Lan WangJi had just needed him to tone it down! Just for a little while! Just until he had re-learned how to control his heart rate, and stop his brain from bluescreening every time Wei Ying spoke to him.

After weeks of Wei Ying teasing him and invading his nearly every waking thought, Lan WangJi had almost managed to accept that the clever, friendly, talented boy that he had fallen unexpectedly head-over-heels for was Straight, and would therefore Never Like Him That Way. But then...

In the middle of class!

Where everyone could see!!

Wei Ying had definitely been coming on to him!

Lan WangJi had barely heard a word through the entire day's lessons. He'd been too busy forcibly controlling his breathing, reciting the rules in his head, and generally failing to avoid looking in Wei Ying's direction.

It had been such a relief when Wei Ying had hurried out of the classroom, dispelling the tension that had crackled so shamelessly between them all day. Lan WangJi was still shaky on how to manage even a friendship! How did Wei Ying expect him to cope with that 'come hither' look he'd had in his beautiful, moonstone eyes?

Taking his time to collect himself, Lan WangJi left the classroom even after his uncle had already gone. He was walking back to the jingshi, wondering if it would be easier to spend a few days...or weeks...composing a poem to convey his feelings to Wei Ying, when he turned the corner and was accosted.

“I know your secret,” Wei Ying murmured to him, eyes glittering beneath thick lashes.

He knew. He knew! That was why he had suddenly changed his behavior! Somehow, he had found out that Lan WangJi had never had eyes for women, that he preferred men. Did Wei Ying know that Lan WangJi liked him?

“I know what you want.”

He knew Lan WangJi liked him!! He definitely knew! He very clearly knew, and now they were chest to chest, and Wei Ying was practically shrugging out of his robe, and Lan WangJi didn't know where to look, but he couldn't look away, and oh, when Wei Ying licked those petal pink lips and left them shining and soft-looking, so inviting and he was so warm pressing Lan WangJi up against the wall and the situation, already so far outside Lan WangJi's experience, was spinning rapidly out of his control. Things were going too fast, much too fast, and Wei Ying wasn't moving back to give him a moment to think, he was actually leaning closer...!

“Go on,” Wei Ying urged him. “I don't bite.”

That teasing tone in his voice, as if he knew Lan WangJi was seconds away from capturing his lips, nipping at the bottom one, kissing all down the elegant line of his neck...that was the last straw. Lan WangJi shoved him away before he could be drawn in and end up doing something out where anyone could come across them. It was too much! Too fast! Too—

Shameless!”

The scolding was for both of them, though he knew neither would heed it. Still...at least Wei Ying didn't follow him. If he had...if he'd barged into the jingshi...Lan WangJi wasn't certain that he would have been able to push him away a second time.

Wei Ying....

Wei Ying wanted him...!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He threw himself down onto his bed and pressed his face into his pillow and wondered if it was possible for a heart to beat its way right out of the ribcage.

------------------

Wei Ying was waiting for him again the next day. This time, he threw himself into Lan WangJi's arms, and took a selfie of them.

“You're mine now!” he crowed.

'Mine.'

'Mine!'

Lan WangJi couldn't believe that Wei Ying wasn't being deafened by the thunderous sound of his heartbeat.

'Mine.'

He wanted to call Wei Ying 'mine.'

“Huh. That's not right.”

Looking down at Wei Ying's camera screen, Lan WangJi saw that, in his enthusiasm, he hadn't been able to hold the phone steady, and the picture had come out blurred. Shyly, because he didn't trust himself to ask Wei Ying to send the picture to him, and he wanted a copy of it as well, Lan WangJi offered his own phone for him to try again.

Wei Ying walked away, shoulders slumped in disappointment. It must have meant a lot to him that the shot be candid. It was a pity it hadn't come out the way he had wanted.

Still....

Lan WangJi looked down, hiding the tiny, private curve of his lips as Wei Ying's voice echoed in his head.

Mine.

------------------

Wei Ying did not wait for him on the third day. Concerned, wondering if something was wrong, if the photo had really meant so much to him, if...

...maybe...

...possibly...

...please, please, please, no, Lan WangJi was trying, he really was...!

...if perhaps Wei Ying had lost interest in him already, Lan WangJi set out to look for him.

As he searched, he thought about what he ought to do to demonstrate that he returned Wei Ying's affections. Words were useless. They failed him utterly when it came to emotional matters. A gift, then. Something special, something that would let Wei Ying know he was devoted, something....

...It was probably too early in their relationship to give him the forehead ribbon.

Flowers would have to do.

They grew everywhere in the Cloud Recesses. Lan WangJi picked a bouquet of the most beautiful wildflowers he found as he searched for Wei Ying. Admiring them, it occurred to him that, although they were lovely, they were neither a unique nor lasting gift. He could fix that easily enough, though.

Lan WangJi had a...condition. It was known to his family, although no one spoke of it. He was...mostly human. He aged like a human and cultivated like a human. His heart beat, his lungs pumped, his stomach rumbled when he got hungry. It was just...he had a sort of allergy to sunlight that left him unable to stay awake if exposed to too much of it. And his dietary needs were...strict.

Raising the flowers to his lips, Lan WangJi very carefully bit each one with his fangs and drank the juices from them. The color fled as well, leaving every flower a perfect, pure white, and dry as paper, instantly preserved.

He pressed his lips together over his fangs the moment he finished. He wasn't...ashamed of them exactly, but it was uncomfortable when people noticed. They weren't even particularly large fangs, really, just big enough for him to pierce the skins of fruits and vegetables and drain them dry. Like the rest of his sect, he was a vegetarian. It was just...he stuck to a fully liquid diet.

Darkness had engulfed the mountainside before he found Wei Ying. The sight of him, veiled in moonlight as he walked along lost in thought had Lan WangJi's heart leaping into his throat.

Wei Ying!

He wanted to call out. Instead, he held back and proceeded with dignity, so as not to make a fool of himself. By the time he was close enough to speak up, he was trembling with nerves. What if this was too much? What if Wei Ying really had given up on him? What if he had reconsidered what it meant to be openly gay in the insular world of cultivational sects?

Before he could overthink too much, Wei Ying looked up and started upon seeing him.

“Lan Zhan! What are you doing, sneaking up on people in the dark?”

He!

Was!

Flirting!!

AGAIN!!!

Lan WangJi watched the way Wei Ying smiled at him, then lowered a shoulder to let his robes slip open a bit further.

They were already so loose! Please have mercy! There was only so far self-restraint could stretch!

“Were you looking for me?”

Did he know what effect his voice had when he spoke like that? He didn't right? He couldn't possibly!

Lan WangJi covered the distance between them so quickly that it might have been a single step. Before he lost his nerve, he held out the flowers to Wei Ying, already half-convinced that he was about to be laughed at.

But....

Wei Ying accepted them!

He accepted the flowers!!

“Lan Zhan, this....”

He stared at the bouquet for a long moment, brow furrowed, and Lan WangJi's concerns flooded back in. It was too much, after all. It was too sudden! They hadn't even held hands, yet here he was, bringing Wei Ying a love token! He truly didn't know what he was doing! He was so clumsy when it came to people! So foolish! The flowers had been a mistake.

Wei Ying looked up at him, displeasure clear on his face, and Lan WangJi fled into the trees.

“Hey, wait!”

He'd ruined it! He'd ruined everything! Wei Ying had always been a flirt. He probably hadn't been looking for anything serious, but then Lan WangJi, with his awful, drowning-deep feelings, had gone and ruined what could have been the start of a connection!

He leapt off the ground, concealing himself on a branch high above Wei Ying's head.

How could he face Wei Ying after this? He would have to go back into secluded cultivation until Wei Ying returned to Lotus Pier.

“I know you're there!” Wei Ying called out. “Don't think this is going to scare me off!”

He left after that, heading back toward the distant lights of the Cloud Recesses. Lan WangJi watched him go, wonder in his heart as his panic ebbed and faded.

He hadn't overstepped!

Wei Ying still wanted to be with him!!

------------------

The next day, Wei Ying went to Caiyi Town with his brother. Lan WangJi watched him go, holding back a sigh. For him, going out on sunny days meant wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella. Even with those precautions, the sunlight still made him sleepy. He wondered if that would be a bother to Wei Ying. Considering how many times Lan WangJi had spotted him napping in the fields and against trees, he thought that it might not be so much of a problem. The idea of falling asleep next to Wei Ying, warm in the sunlight, and perfectly safe at his side, despite his condition was...

...nice.

Really...really nice.

Lan WangJi spent a few hours studying in the Library Pavilion. After a while, feeling hungry, he set out toward the cherry tree growing near the wall across the grounds, keeping to the roofed walkways. If it just so happened that the tree wasn't far from the gate that led to Caiyi Town, and if he just so happened to be there when Wei Ying returned, well...what a pleasant coincidence that would be.

There was no one around when he slipped beneath the shadows of the tree's branches. Even so, he checked carefully before picking a handful of fruit, and then again before he brought one to his lips. Quickly, he nipped it with a fang, sucking the juice and the redness from it. Afterward, he tucked the bone white cherry into a pouch. It was best not to leave things like that just lying around. Outsiders got curious.

He would have to explain to Wei Ying. He would certainly be curious. Perhaps, clever as he was, he might be able to find a way to make Lan WangJi normal. If he could at least do something about how sleepy sunlight made him....

The sun was just far enough past noon to throw a shadow from the wall that gave Lan WangJi comfortable passage to the gate, and he wandered away from the tree to wait for Wei Ying. Absently sucking on the last of his cherries, his hand fell away from his mouth as he heard Wei Ying call his name.

“Lan Zhan! ...Is that blood?”

What?

Swiping a hand across his lips, his fingers came away smeared with cherry juice.

“You are a vampire!”

What??

Wei Ying drew Suibian from its sheath. “I knew it,” he muttered, readying to attack.

Seriously, WHAT???

Lan WangJi barely brought Bichen up to guard in time. Suibian caught against his sword with a clang, throwing sparks that reflected in Wei Ying's bright, deadly serious eyes. He found himself on the defensive for the first time since he had improved beyond his uncle's level of skill with the sword.

Wait, wait! He thought, unable to speak past the lump in his throat. This is wrong! Blood? Vampire? Wei Ying! I don't understand! I don't want to fight you!!

Wei Ying pressed the advantage, driving him back. In his confusion over the situation, however, Lan WangJi forgot to pay attention to his surroundings. He was forced out of the shadows, and immediately began to feel the familiar heaviness in his limbs. His movements slowed, his arms drooped. He could barely keep his eyes open.

As he collapsed onto the grass, the last thing he saw was Wei Ying's sword hurtling down at him.

---------------

Lan WangJi came to with the sound of his brother's voice nearby. Still too sleep-fogged to understand the words, he was startled to hear Wei Ying, as well, and struggled to wake up.

Really?” Wei Ying was saying, sounding incredulous. “Only vegetables?”

“And fruits,” Lan XiChen put in. “He's not a monster like those Western vampires. As far as that goes, he's harmless.”

“Huh. I guess I got it wrong. No wonder the neck thing didn't work.”

“...'Neck thing,' Young Master Wei?”

“Well, I wasn't going to do anything without some sort of evidence, you know!”

Lan XiChen laughed, but it was the sort of laugh he gave when the person he was talking to was in deep trouble.

Wei Ying was in deep trouble.

Lan WangJi opened his eyes.

He was laid out beneath the wall, fully in the shade, and about as comfortable as he could expect to be considering he'd been passed out on the ground. The moment he sat up, Wei Ying was by his side.

“Hey, you sure you're all right to get up? That's a hell of a weakness, you know. I could have killed you!”

“Didn't,” he said, and was a little surprised to realize it, considering what he remembered from before falling unconscious.

But...the fact that Wei Ying had been ready to kill him just before that was....

Well.

'Disappointing' didn't really cover it. Lan WangJi stood up, eyes downcast. He didn't fully understand what happened, but it seemed as if he had made a mistake. Wei Ying didn't love him.

“WangJi. Are you all right?”

He nodded, but wouldn't meet his brother's eyes. Lan XiChen could read him far too well.

“Sorry about all that, Lan Zhan. I kinda got the idea that you were a vampire. Guess I was a bit too enthusiastic, ha ha.”

“Indeed,” Lan XiChen put in. “Perhaps that enthusiasm is better suited to places other than the Cloud Recesses.”

Lan WangJi's head shot up. “Do not expel him.”

Lan XiChen studied him, concern writ clear on his face. “WangJi....”

“Please.”

Even if Wei Ying didn't love him back, at least as long as they studied together, Lan WangJi would get to see his face, hear his laugh, enjoy his friendship. That would be enough.

With a sigh, Lan XiChen nodded his head. “He will still need to be punished for fighting.”

“Of course!” Surprisingly, Wei Ying didn't sound as if he had any objections. He even bowed to Lan XiChen. “I'll accept whatever punishment you deem fit.”

Looking between him and Lan WangJi, Lan XiChen sighed again. “I will have to think on it. Come see me tomorrow after classes.”

“Sure thing! Thank you for not kicking me out!”

Lan XiChen winced, smiled at his brother, and left them alone.

After he had gone, Wei Ying turned to Lan WangJi with a crooked grin. “Sorry again, Lan Zhan. But at least now that I know you're harmless, you don't have to worry about me bothering you all the time!”

What?

Wait.

No! It wasn't a bother!

Wei Ying! Don't ignore me!

“Dangerous,” Lan WangJi blurted out.

“Huh?” Wei Ying looked at him, then laughed. “You? Lan Zhan, you're saying you're dangerous?”

He hesitated, then nodded. That only served to make Wei Ying laugh harder.

“Lan Zhan! I just saw you fall asleep in the sun in the middle of a fight! I had to drag you into the shade so that you would wake up!” He reached out and actually ruffled the top of Lan WangJi's hair. “You're about as dangerous as a bunny rabbit!”

He turned to walk away, and Lan WangJi reacted without thinking. Grabbing Wei Ying by the wrist, he hauled him back, pressed him up against the wall, and kissed him like he'd been dreaming of doing ever since that first night he'd caught him sneaking in beneath the bright moonlight.

The kiss was fueled entirely by desperation. Thoughts of moving too fast or not being ready flew from his mind. Wei Ying was going to stop looking at him. Wei Ying thought he was boring.

When he pulled back, Wei Ying looked dazed. His mouth was slack, lips reddened and cheeks flushed, eyes barely focused. He was sagging in Lan WangJi's hold as if he would fall over if let go.

It was a particularly good look on him.

“Lan Zhan,” he breathed, and when he licked his lips, Lan WangJi's eyes followed the motion. “That was.... I don't think I can stand on my own.” He laughed shortly, giddily. His grip on Lan WangJi's robes loosened as he reached up to twine his arms around his neck. “That's definitely...”

Wei Ying pulled him closer.

“...very...”

His breath tickled against Lan WangJi's lips.

“...dangerous.”