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but first, sleep

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When they marry, Lan Zhan finally realizes just how weird Wei Ying’s sleeping habits are.

 

It had started on the first night of their marriage, right after their consummation, actually, when they both fell exhausted onto their bed and straight to sleep. Well, one of them did. It was ironic, for someone who continually made it a habit to break his own personal record for how late he could stay up almost every night, the moment his head hit the pillow, Wei Ying was out faster than Lan Zhan could even finish saying “good night”.

 

It wasn’t as if he cared very much—everything Wei Ying did was endearing (and perhaps Lan Zhan prides himself on having exhausted out even that of Wei Ying’s physical prowess). So he settled himself in bed, making sure Wei Ying was comfortable under the covers, before placing an arm around his middle and closing his eyes.

 

In the next second, however, they shot back open.

 

It felt as though the Jingshi was shaking—no, as if the entirety of the Cloud Recesses was shaking. If not for the fact that there were no flares fired up into the sky to signal an emergency, Lan Zhan would have carried Wei Ying out himself, awake or not. But Wei Ying—

 

Wei Ying.

 

Lan Zhan glances down at his husband, staring blankly at his open mouth. Feeling nothing one moment but almost everything the next, hearing nothing one moment yet having his ears blown out the next. It’s quiet one moment, and then—

 

Wei Ying inhales.

 

Snoring.

 

His mouth is wide open, his head back against the pillow, his body twisted in every which way (How? Lan Zhan thinks. I’ve closed my eyes for only a second.) But Wei Ying carries out snoring without a care in the world, but not before turning to his side and burrowing his face into Lan Zhan’s neck.

 

Wei Ying breathes in again, carrying the power of thousand thunderstorms with it, but as Lan Zhan feels the press of lips against his skin, he can’t help but reciprocate the gesture against his husband’s forehead.

 

They’re not that loud, Lan Zhan concludes, as the Jingshi shakes once more. They’re endearing.

 

He closes his eyes.

 


 

The next time something happens, Lan Zhan is less surprised than the last.

 

But it doesn’t help that Wei Ying’s face is right next to his.

 

“Bunnies don’t like Emperor’s Smile, Jingyi,” he says, his eyes closed and drool slipping out of his mouth. “No, you can’t boil the bunnies in that pot. At least add some spices first, you heathen.”

 

It started out as a normal night. At this point in their marriage, Lan Zhan would like to think he’d gotten used to his husband’s thunderbolt of snores, but as if a reflection of Wei Ying’s very being, he never ceases to surprise him.

 

They’ve finally gotten to the part in their married life where they have regressed into having a “usual” sleeping position—Lan Zhan laying on his back as always, but with an arm outstretched to accommodate Wei Ying’s sleeping figure next to him, curled up by his side with at least half his body on top of his.

 

Interesting, Lan Zhan says in the back of his mind, as he watches Wei Ying struggle out more incohesive sentences.

 

“Wei Ying. Are you asleep?” Lan Zhan whispers.

 

“No, I’m Wei Ying,” his husband responds, before proceeding to huff out what Lan Zhan can only conclude are laughs. Of course, even in sleep, would only his husband laugh at his own jokes.

 

Lan Zhan smiles. “What are you dreaming about?”

 

“Hot pot.” Wei Ying smacks his lips. Lan Zhan would find that endearing, if not for the fact that he had been dreaming about rabbits and Emperor’s Smile just moments before.

 

“It’s time to go to sleep,” Lan Zhan says. He stares at the darkness outside their window, trying not to think of how much sleep he’s losing this time. Not that it would matter. Much.

 

Wei Ying shifts, turning away from him. “I don’t know where that is.”

 

“It’s right here. With me.”

 

His husband grumbles weakly, thrashing around a little. “How dare you. I have a husband!”

 

Lan Zhan pauses, then he huffs out a laugh, then, with an arm wrapped around his middle, kisses the back of his neck.

 


 

At first, it was unexpected, then it became endearing, now though…

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan whispers into the night. “Wei Ying. You’re sleepwalking.”

 

“Sleep is for the weak,” Wei Ying says just as quietly back. He’s standing in the middle of the Jingshi—Lan Zhan had woken up to that, actually, and almost called Bichen if he hadn’t immediately recognized the empty spot next to him in bed.

 

Wei Ying had swayed towards the drawers next to the window, then to the table near the bed, then back to the window, then in the middle of the room.

 

Of course, Lan Zhan had decided that the best course of action would be just to watch over him, following him closely to make sure he didn’t crash into anything that could harm him. But all Wei Ying said was, “Where are the lotus flowers?” or “Ha! Take that, old man Lan!” or “I can play the guqin too, you know,” before proceeding to make half-hearted strumming motions with his hands. It would have made a good performance—if the guqin had been vertical.

 

“Have you seen my husband?” Wei Ying inquires, his head tilting to the side.

 

“What does he look like?” Lan Zhan says.

 

Wei Ying smiles, swaying some more. “Beautiful.”

 

Lan Zhan thanks the gods that no one can see how red his ears burn. He grasps onto Wei Ying’s hands as he starts to stumble around the Jingshi again. “I would make the claim that the true beauty is you, Wei Ying.”

 

“Only my husband can say that to me.” Despite saying that, Wei Ying’s grip on his hand tightens, before another lazy smile stretches across his face. He lets out an airily laugh. “Husband. My husband.”

 

Lan Zhan places his other hand on top of his. “Your husband.”

 

Suddenly, Wei Ying flings his arms into the air, shouting, “YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE, JIANG CHENG!”

 

Lan Zhan almost flinches at how loud it is, but as he glances at the sun rising in the window, shrugs. The disciples should be up by now, anyway.

 


 

 “Do you,” Lan Zhan asks the next morning as they’re eating breakfast, “sleep well at night?”

 

“Huh?” Wei Ying says, scarfing down his entire bowl of rice in one go. “Of course, I do. I’m sleeping with you, aren’t I?”

 

Lan Zhan gives him a look, his eyes betraying him with a glint of amusement. “Shameless.”

 

Wei Ying winks. “Only for you. Why so sudden, though? I thought you tried not to speak while eating?”

 

“Who carries the fault of that?”

 

“Well, I would say that it’s you, for deciding to marry me.”

 

Lan Zhan relents. “I would agree.”

 

Wei Ying chokes out a laugh, a vibrant smile even though he had just woken up. Lan Zhan almost forgets why he had started the conversation in the first place, losing himself in his own selfish request to just sit there and stare.

 

Wei Ying places his cheek in his palm, smiling up at him. “What’s up?”

 

“I was wondering if you were aware of your—” Lan Zhan pauses. “—sleeping habits.”

 

“Oh.” Wei Ying immediately straightens his postures. “Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing it again. Did it keep you up last night? What did I do this time?”

 

Lan Zhan shakes his head. “No worries. I was only curious.”

 

Regardless, Wei Ying hunches forward, blowing a stray hair out of his face. “Still, though. I heard it’s troublesome—from multiple sources. What did I do? Talk in my sleep? Snore? Stumble around like a walking corpse?”

 

Lan Zhan stares at him.

 

Wei Ying gapes. “All three?

 

He nods. Wei Ying cries, letting his head fall onto the table.

 

“Surely, it’s not that embarrassing,” Lan Zhan says, trying to appease him.

 

“Wha—of course, it’s embarrassing, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying stresses. “I was snoring!

 

Lan Zhan thinks. “It’s endearing.”

 

“It’s annoying.” Wei Ying sighs heavily in his arms. “I guess it couldn’t have been helped, not with me marrying you, after all.”

 

Lan Zhan blinks at him. “Why do you say that?”

 

“Well, because—” Wei Ying cuts himself off, glancing off into the distance in a manner that definitely doesn’t seem like he’s avoiding all eye contact. “There are certain conditions that have to be met in order for my… sleeping habits to be activated. A prerequisite, if you will.”

 

“I see,” Lan Zhan says, not exactly seeing.

 

“They started when I was younger, like really young. Like, when my parents were still alive young. It happened when I was living at the Lotus Pier too. You know, before, well…” Wei Ying swallows. “Ever since then, it stopped, so I just thought that I eventually grew out of it, albeit my age at the time.”

 

Lan Zhan frowns. “You say that as though it’s a nuisance.”

 

“Isn’t it, though?” Wei Ying says. “Shijie had to catch me before I walked right off the deck sometimes. I would snore so loud that Jiang Cheng would storm into my room and smother me with a pillow to get me to wake up. And one time, I even walked into Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu’s room—”

 

Wei Ying buries his face into his arms again, groaning even louder than his snores. “I’m surprised you haven’t smothered me with a pillow yet, Lan Zhan.”

 

Lan Zhan’s frown deepens. “I would never.”

 

“I know you wouldn’t. It’s just a saying. Mostly.” Wei Ying’s eyebrows draw in on themselves. “I should have told you. Sorry.”

 

“No need to apologize,” Lan Zhan says. He pauses, then: “Why do you assume they would start after our wedding?”

 

Wei Ying almost looks bashful. He sighs. “The condition is that I am in a state of total content. As in, I only start to snore and sleep talk and walk around when I’m comfortable. And obviously, I’m comfortable when I sleep with you.”

 

His voice had trailed off, as if his voice has thinned out into a line that dissipated into the air. Wei Ying glances to the side, rubbing his shoulder in an act of shyness, a side of his husband’s many personalities Lan Zhan finds himself longing to see more of.

 

Despite himself, Lan Zhan breaks out into a smile.

 

Wei Ying huffs when he sees, kicking his shin under the table. “Really? That’s what you’re choosing to smile about?” he reprimands, but he’s smiling too. His kicks inevitably turn into soft brushes. “I didn’t take for a sadist, my dear Hanguang-Jun.”

 

“A misplaced concern,” Lan Zhan says.

 

“Oh? And why do you say that?”

 

“It’s endearing,” Lan Zhan says. “Everything about you is endearing.”

 

Wei Ying stares at him, his eyes glancing up to stare into his, watching his movements as if at anytime Lan Zhan would give in and say “just joking”. But Lan Zhan doesn’t. He would never. Lying is forbidden in the Cloud Recesses, anyway.

 

Eventually, Wei Ying breathes out a laugh. “Didn’t I say to warn me next time you say something like that? I might actually die, you know, then you’ll never hear my snores ever again. Hm. Maybe that’s for the best. Keep showering me with compliments, Lan Zhan. Do us both a favor.”

 

Lan Zhan complies. “I love you.”

 

Wei Ying chokes on his laughter. “Lan Zhan. Surely you knew I didn’t mean it.”

 

“I love you, loud snoring and all.”

 

Wei Ying’s smile drops, turning into an expression of anguish. He drops his head again. “Oh, Lan Zhan!”

 

“Your snoring could serve as the Cloud Recesses' personal alarm. More efficient than the sun.”

 

Wei Ying bursts out laughing.

 

“Sleepwalking is a virtue. Don’t want you falling for anyone else.”

 

His husband tumbles backward, covering his face with his hands as his laughter carries around their bedroom and throughout the entirety of Gusu.

 

Lan Zhan smiles down at his husband, who’s left his breakfast half eaten at the table, and thinks to himself: How very, very endearing.