Lan Wangji wakes up as he always does, precisely at 5am; eyes and mind clear from a healthy, full night’s rest. Yet, as of late, a new detail has been added to his life-long routine. He lifts his head slowly, glancing down at the weight atop his entire lower half. Entangled in a mess of bed sheets and probably now-numb limbs, a drooling demonic angel snores heavily in his view. Wei Wuxian’s mouth is agape as he sleeps motionlessly upon his husband. Lan Wangji allows himself to smile, if only for a moment, before he lifts a hand. Delicately, he reaches over and gently presses his index finger to Wei Wuxian’s jaw and shuts it for him.
The action causes his lover to stir, groaning sleepily as he turns over and presses his face onto Wangji’s stomach. He lets out a sigh and Lan Wangji feels his warm breath permeate his clothes.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji utters softly, knowing full well that at this volume his chances of waking his dearest love are slim to none. He enjoys these moments, however, and has grown accustomed to the slow rise—as shameless as that is. “Wei Ying. There is a lecture this morning,” he says again softly. “It is best to wake up soon.”
Wei Wuxian stirs once more before his face reappears from the folds of fabric, eyes scrunching tighter for a moment before he blinks awake. Lan Wangji watches him silently as he comes to, bleary gaze clearing and settling on Lan Wangji’s own bright eyes.
Less than a moment later, Lan Wangji lets out a pained grunt at the powerful fist which slams down against his gut. Accompanied with a horrendous howl, Wei Wuxian suddenly flails about, scrambling until he’s all but fallen out of the bed. With wide eyes Lan Wangji jumps up without much grace due to his partner’s careless movements. He stumbles a little until he finds himself upright, staring down at Wei Wuxian who continues to scramble in a panic. Lan Wangji watches at he grabs the bed sheets tight, untucking some of them as he too finally stands. He backs up— back, back, back— until his body slams against the far wall, clutching the stolen sheets against his chest. His eyes are wide, unfocused, and afraid.
It isn’t an expression Lan Wangji has seen on Wei Wuxian before.
“Is something wrong?” he asks calmly, instincts kicking in as if he were approaching an untamed beast, a stray dog cornered without exit. “Are you…injured from last night?”
“W-why…” Wei Wuxian’s voice slips out and it’s tense, hands trembling. “Why?! Why am I here?!”
Lan Wangji frowns. Truth be told, he is not unfamiliar with tense situations; ever accustomed to keeping calm even when matters are dire. When it comes to his love, his life, his light, however, that is another story. His heart skips a beat when Wei Wuxian’s wild gaze locks on his, hair unkempt with strands having fallen out of their tie during sleep.
One could almost say he looks…
“But the ritual cannot be reversed,” Wei Wuxian says with wide eyes suddenly darting about. His lips are slick with spittle, and their corners upturn ever so slightly. Suddenly he gasps out a small oh, keeping his mouth agape after the sound. Lan Wangji subconsciously mimics this surprised exclamation, and continues to watch. Wei Wuxian is silent a moment more before he lets out a tiny, open-mouthed chuckle. It’s short and soft at first, but it slowly grows, barreling into a full hearted laugh. He tilts to the side, dropping the bedsheets in favor of holding his stomach. The sound is anything but joyous. It’s tense and hectic, almost mad.
Lan Wangji is frozen. The words Wei Wuxian spoke shoot straight through him like a bolt of lightning, leaving an almost searing chill in its wake. His adam’s apple bobs as he swallows dryly.
Years of cultivation, training, night-hunts have sculpted his ability to read a situation; to deduce with little to no information. He already knows what’s happened. He doesn’t understand how though, and his mind is already franticly searching for an answer. However, dread fills him like black ink, seeping and polluting. “Mo Xuanyu,” he says it succinctly, albeit a bit hoarse; the name bites in his throat almost like a toxin. His fists clench tight and he straightens his back, the wall of unfamiliarity instinctively coming up.
Xuanyu pauses in his fit, going silent almost immediately before looking back up. He straightens as well and stares over at Lan Wangji for quite some time. They stand there, the sounds of an awakening Cloud Recesses filter in slowly through the open windows. A smile brightens Xuanyu’s face, his face, one that had been the face of another for so long now. But it’s not the smile Lan Wangji knows.
“Second Young Master Lan,” he says through that taciturn smile. His voice feels different, despite it sounding the same as ever. And Lan Wangji senses a shiver flow through him. “If I’m in Hanguang-Jun’s presence, I must certainly be far from home.” He lifts his hand to his face, caressing his own cheek delicately as he leans back against the wall casually. He laughs again, chuckling in a high pitched tone that can almost make one cringe. Lan Wangji does not, however, and simply narrows his gaze, jaw tightened as uncertainty wraps its spiny tendrils around his lungs and heart. Xuanyu stares at him for a short while, lids heavy and mouth set in that unfamiliar smile. “Is this your bed chamber too?!” Xuanyu blurts delightfully as he claps his hands and bounces on the balls of his feet. “Oh! What sort of mischief was the Yiling Patriarch getting himself into? That’s just delicious…”
A sudden movement from the corner of the room sparks a small yelp from Xuanyu. The ring of metal reverberates into the calm morning air. Xuanyu flinches helplessly, hands coming up to cower as he stares down the glare of Bichen. Lan Wangji’s narrowed gaze keeps its hold on him. His arm is straight, grip tight on the hilt of his sword as he points it toward Xuanyu and takes a step forward. This results in another helpless whimper from the other, retreating and pressing into the wall again.
“What has happened?” Lan Wangji demands calmly, though it isn’t an easy composure to achieve. Inside is a burning turmoil, panic wreaking havoc as thoughts he’d never grace to words flood his mind. “How have you returned to your body?” Where is he? his heart silently screams against his will.
He knows of the ritual. He knows of the demonic cultivation techniques used to bring the Yiling Patriarch…his Wei Ying…back to this earth. He knows what was needed, what was done, and what was sacrificed. He knows the manipulation of a weakened heart and mind. He knows the role Mo Xuanyu played. He knows all of this. Knows all that Wei Wuxian had told him during nights of awkward conversation. And yet…and yet…
“If I understood that answer, handsome, I would’ve already said it,” Xuanyu creens these flirtatious words despite fear still strewn upon his features. He laughs nervously as he lifts his shaking hand, fingertips flirting with Bichen’s cold edge. He stares at the blade almost in a trance, imagining whatever a ‘known lunatic’ can imagine. His voice comes a moment later, “I wanted to die. Needed to.” Suddenly he gasps, eyes widening again as he looks at Lan Wangji. “It was successful right?! Of course it was. It worked. I was gone.”
Lan Wangji lifts his sword in warning when Xuanyu begins to move. He doesn’t say anything yet, simply watches.
“I can feel that those bastards are gone,” he says, smiling again. “It worked. It worked,” he laughs horridly; loud and disruptive. Lan Wangji has half a thought of it alerting others, but quickly brushes the idea away. Hearing strange noises, especially Wei Wuxian’s boisterous laughter, filter out from Lang Wangji’s bedchamber is nothing new. “Ohh, it worked so sweetly! Is that why I’ve returned?! Hmm, but that’s not how the ritual is supposed to…”
“Much time has passed,” Lan Wangji finds himself explaining before he can think of a reason not to. His grip on Bichen does not waver, but his heart hurts; pain bleeding in as the current situation drags on. “Years.”
“Y—“ Mo Xuanyu shudders a moment, eyes blinking as he shakes his head. “Years?! How many?”
“Four years,” Xuanyu repeats through a sigh. “The success of revenge lingering for four years.” He breathes in now, heavily, as if smelling a sweet aroma and savoring it in his lungs. “They deserved what they got. Was it the talk of the land? How many family members fainted upon hearing the news?!” He laughs bitterly again.
“That is not of import,” Lan Wangji says more sternly. He’s growing impatient, but he cannot fight back the hesitance still weighing in his chest. He doesn’t know what to do.
Mo Xuanyu is back in his body.
So that must mean…
He frowns deeply, stepping forward and pressing the point of Bichen onto the center of Xuanyu’s chest. It isn’t near enough to pierce yet, but enough to pin him down, still him, and silence him all in one move.
“Your bidding was fulfilled long ago,” Lan Wangji starts slowly. His sharp gaze pins Mo Xuanyu’s just as much as the point of his blade does. Xuanyu stares back at him silently, eyes wide and frantic. “You sacrificed your soul and body to the Yiling Patriarch to enact revenge upon your family. Among other things…”
“And now I’m back in my body, safe and sound,” Xuanyu says through a giggle that is quickly hiccupped to a stop when Lan Wangji presses the point increasingly against his sternum. “Aah!”
“You will cease talking,” Lan Wangji’s voice begins to quiver ever so slightly. The reality of the situation sinks in and it’s more than he can possibly bear. “Give. Him. Back.”
Xuanyu’s whole body shivers at the icy tone with which those words are demanded. He lifts his shaky hands, palms up, in offer of surrender. His crazed smile has not left his lips however and he suddenly, slowly slides down against the wall. Bichen’s point follows along. He looks down at the threatening weapon for a moment before he glances back up at Lan Wangji. “I-I-I don’t know how,” he whimpers. “When I performed the ritual I was fully prepared to die. I never read anything about it reversing like this…”
Lan Wangji knows this is the truth. Wei Wuxian hadn’t ever mentioned anything like this being a possibility too. However, it would be a lie to say Lan Wangji had never thought about it before. On rare moments of weakness, he’d find these thoughts seep in and prick at his heart ever so slightly. He’d never mentioned this…worry…to Wei Wuxian. He regrets not doing so. Perhaps if he had, Wei Wuxian’s genius would have been able to figure out a plan and he wouldn’t be left feeling as helpless as he does in this moment.
“I-I’ll do it again,” Xuanyu’s sudden frantic voice pulls Lan Wangji from his reverie. He blinks, refocusing his gaze to the frail man at his feet. He realizes just how much he’s pressing Bichen’s point to Xuanyu’s chest, a small trickle of red has begun to stain his white robes. “I’ll do it! I’ll do it! I’ll do the ritual again. Summon the Yiling Patriarch. F-for you.”
Lan Wangji’s eyes widen slightly, the definite point of his blade lowers just enough to be noticeable; his fire has started to dim. Xuanyu lets out a sigh of relief.
What is Lan Wangji thinking? He can’t possibly consider sacrificing an innocent soul for his own selfish greed. Mo Xuanyu’s death was of his own choosing; a final act of desperation. That much is certain. And Wei Wuxian knew he was on borrowed time. Lan Wangji knew he was too, but he never admitted it. Not out loud, not in his heart. He refused the idea wholeheartedly.
Even so, it does not justify the current desire bursting from every fiber of his being at this moment.
He will not force Mo Xuanyu to kill himself, yet again, simply because he aches for Wei Ying. That is…
Xuanyu visibly relaxes when Lan Wangji pulls Bichen away and sheaths it without a word. His frame looks so fragile compared to how Wei Wuxian holds it. It really goes to show spirit influences air. Xuanyu tentatively stands, keeping a careful eye on Lan Wangji and the latter does the same. They stand there in silence for longer than necessary. But just what exactly is necessary? What can be done? What should be done? By all logic, Mo Xuanyu should not be here.
These questions filter in and out of Lan Wangji’s mind like a persistent gnat just outside of swatting range. He’s unable to make rhyme or reason of it all. He turns away from Xuanyu, reaching his limit of gazing into the eyes of his love without any semblance of familiarity staring back at him.
He can stay at the Cloud Recesses. He can return to the Mo family estate to wreak havoc. He can do whatever he likes. It no longer concerns Lan Wangji. Because Mo Xuanyu is not Wei Wuxian. He is not the Yiling Patriarch. He is not his husband.
He is not Wei Ying.
“Hanguang-Jun,” Mo Xuanyu speaks softly, carefully; breaking the silence between them. Outside, the Cloud Recesses are wide awake; voices filter in through the windows. The soft pattering of footsteps pairs amiably with gentle voices in conversation. “I just need some time. I,” he swallows heavily. “If I can just make the talismans, I can—”
“No need,” Lan Wangji says with finality which gains a surprised gasp from Xuanyu. Before anything else can be exchanged, Lan Wangji turns on his heel and makes for the exit.
“Hanguang-Jun? Hanguang-Jun! Wait!”
The air outside is fresh, as is expected, but each breath feels like poison as Lan Wangji steps down the corridor. The garden of white stones blares back at him, blinding in the freshly rising sun. He passes a group of disciples who neatly step out of his way and salute him a morning greeting. He doesn’t spare them a moment’s glance, brushing past them in a steadily rising hurry.
He walks faster. Faster. And faster still. Fast enough until it breaks into a sprint. He drops Bichen, letting it clatter to the ground as if it were nothing but a forgotten toy. He runs past the curious calls of his name and title, the disapproving glares. He runs past his brother whose smile does not even waver. He runs past the rabbits, dwindling in numbers right before his very eyes. He runs past the gate. He runs until his lungs ache and his brow drips.
Then he falls to his knees. His fingers dig deep into the earth’s soil, dirt caking under his nails as the first wail bursts out of him with a hoarseness so frail one would think his throat bled.
My Wei Ying.
The moment he slams his forehead to the ground, his eyes open to a view of the inside of the jingshi. His breathing is ragged; sweat beads on his brow and heart pounds in his chest with the utmost force.
A chill runs through him, thoroughly wracking his body in a most uncharacteristic shiver.
“Mmn,” the noise beside him is soft and muffled within layers of bedsheets. Then a voice lifts into the air. “Lan Zhan, are you alright?”
Lan Wangji swallows once, focusing his energy to steady his breathing. He glances to his right and lying beside him is…
Who is it?
Who is it.
“I was sleeping but I think I heard a scream,” his voice is low, thick with the lingering heaviness of sleep. “Was that you? Did you have a nightmare?” He chuckles a little. “Need me to kiss away the fear?”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji can barely say the name. Almost afraid to. His mind is unclear and he doesn’t realize the mist starting to cloud his gaze. “Wei Ying.”
“Hmm?” Wei Wuxian blinks a little, tiling his head in question and suddenly letting out a soft gasp when he sees those barely-there tears. His hand slips up from under the sheets, palm coming to Lan Wangji’s face gently. “Lan Zhan?”
Without any words exchanged, Wei Wuxian brings his other hand to cup his husband’s face, slipping closer to him beneath the sheets. His bare shoulders slip out from the soft fabric as he shifts and presses his lips to Lan Wangji’s in a chaste, lingering kiss. As their soft lips press together, Lan Wangji feels himself shut his eyes tight, burning tears spill down his cheeks and onto the pillow beneath his head. His chest swells, holding back a sob that threatens to expel.
“Lan Zhan, my dear,” Wei Wuxian finally parts their soft kiss but he lingers close, breath ghosting along Lan Wangji’s lips like a promise. “I’m here. I’ve got you. Don’t cry, Lan Zhan.”
“Yes,” is all Lan Wangji finds it in himself to say. He feels his mind clearing, reality settling in once again as the suffocating cloud of what he’d just envisioned in his mind’s eye finally disperses. He takes a deep breath slowly in and slowly out. He recollects himself.
“Besides, you’re so ugly when you cry,” Wei Wuxian says after a few moments with a smile in his voice. Indeed he is smiling when Lan Wangji opens his eyes again. His expression stays docile as he stares at the grinning man beside him. Their staring contest goes on for quite some time, and Wei Wuxian’s grin grows.
“That is implausible,” Lan Wangji finally responds which garners an almost surprised scoff from Wei Wuxian.
“Did…did you just…”
“Lan Zhan! How—”
“No,” Wei Wuxian suddenly turns around, leaving less than a moment’s confusion for Lan Wangji before Wei Wuxian takes his arms and wraps them around himself. He snuggles in close, pressing his back against Lan Wangji’s front, bodies sliding together like they are made to do so. “No, no. I wasn’t going to say that.”
Lan Wangji simply hums as a short reply, not believing him for a second. They lay like this for a while longer as it is not quite time to rise. Lan Wangji closes his eyes once more, knowing he will not fall back asleep but he wants to rest just as well. The warmth of Wei Wuxian’s naked body against his own is comforting, like a solid reminder of what is and what isn’t.
And whatever it is that his mind decided to display to him that night? It isn’t. And it won’t ever be.
He doesn’t reopen his eyes again until he feels Wei Wuxian wriggle slowly, hips moving in languid waves. He stares forward placidly. “Wei Ying.”
“Hmm?” comes that soft, feigned innocent voice. “Can I help you with something?”
“We do not have time,” Lan Wangji says this like an automatic response without any real vigor behind it. His voice is low, almost a whisper into Wei Wuxian’s ear. He feels the other shiver.
“We have all the time we need,” Wei Wuxian answers before gasping when what he wants presses against his entrance, still slick with oil from last night. Lan Wangji will most likely lecture him about that later on—reciting the importance of cleaning after intercourse while somehow miraculously avoiding the fact that he also forgot about cleaning and thoroughly passed out naked. “Y-you’re already like this so...” he continues with a smile.
Lan Wangji’s breath hitches just enough to be noticeable as he presses into Wei Wuxian, warmth enveloping him in a way that no matter how much time has passed, he never seems to get accustomed to. "There is a lecture today…it is best if we don’t dawdle.”
“That sure is a polite way to put it,” Wei Wuxian chuckles before another soft gasp escapes him. He tilts his head back, pressing it against Lan Wangji’s cheek before turning, lips searching for purchase. He’s rewarded it, as strained as the position is, and he hums into the kiss with content. It isn’t a careful kiss; desperate at best, sloppy at worst. Their panting breaths make up for any distance parted. “A-ah, Lan Zhan,” he breathes through the words like a prayer, meant for his lips and his lips alone. No one else can speak that name like this. He doesn’t need it. He won’t allow it.
Lan Wangji pulls out slowly only to push in again with careful movements that draw as many sweet noises as possible from his husband. It isn’t like their usual method—rough, hungry, starving even. Instead, it’s slow, languid, and savoring. Lan Wangji got a taste of what it’s like without Wei Ying, his Wei Ying, and he will never allow that again. He’ll find away. He’ll meditate for hours until he can find the precise spark that triggered such a vision in his dreamscape and snuff it out.
His breath deepens as he falls into a smooth rhythm, hands coming to Wei Wuxian’s hips and gripping tightly, never wanting to let go.
“That’s it…” Wei Wuxian moans through his words and his hands reach upward and behind, fingers searching until he grips Lan Wangji’s hair. “Th-there.”
Lan Wangji takes this touch as encouragement and he lets out a soft moan of his own as he cradles his face in the crook of Wei Wuxian’s neck, teeth pressing against skin but not biting down, simply lingering. His hip movement stutters slightly; breath catching again as he increases speed enough for both of them to feel it. The throaty, lengthy moan he hears in reply is more than enough proof that he can proceed. He ruts forward again and again, sensations titillating every fiber of himself. His eyes plaster shut as he thrusts.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji mutters with lips pressed to his love’s warming skin. “Wei Ying.” Don’t ever leave.
“Lan Zh-Ahn!” Never.
With a rhythm interrupted, the two finish not many moments later; gasping and tensing, voices catching in their throats before draining out of them in slow moans. Then they still. Their breaths return to normal quite easily as their actions were not as exertive as usual. Lan Wangji shifts his hips, pulling himself out and grimacing at the mess despite deep down quite enjoying the sensation.
He looks up when he hears Wei Wuxian chuckle into a sigh, turning around to face Lan Wangji once again.
“You were not in pain?” Lan Wangji asks out of courtesy. “I did not prepare you.”
“You think a little pain would stop me from getting what I want?” Wei Wuxian responds with a scrunch of his nose and pout of his lips. He laughs softly again when he sees Lan Wangji’s brows furrow, lips turning down just enough to be noticeable. “It felt great. Lan Zhan always takes good care of me.”
As a reply, Lan Wangji simply takes a deep breath and lets it out through his nose; relief washing over him.
“You loosened me well enough last night anyway—or was it this morning? I lose track of time so easily between these sheets,” he says with that same devious smile back upon his features. He pats the bedding to emphasize his point, drawing Lan Wangji’s gaze to his hands for just a moment. Wei Wuxian laughs triumphantly when he sees the hint of red upon those soft, kissable ears.
So he does. Kiss them, that is. He smiles as he peppers soft trails up Lan Wangji’s jawline, pausing to nibble at his earlobe between his teeth before pressing his lips to them. He revels in the fact that he can do so without so much as a noise of complaint from the Second Young Master of Lan.
“Lan Zhan,” he says softly.
“What was it you saw?” It’s an innocent enough question, one that causes him to pull away again to look at Lan Wangji’s face when he feels him tense beneath his touch. “Lan Zhan?”
“You were gone,” he finally says after a long pause.
“The ritual reversed.”
Lan Wangji watches the many expressions form on Wei Wuxian’s face as his mind undoubtedly begins to filter through scenarios, explanations, and solutions. He reads his love’s face for quite some time before Wei Wuxian’s gaze finds his once again. “It can’t reverse,” he says with confidence, gaze unwavering.
“I came back to you once,” Wei Wuxian says as he slowly shifts in the bed, settling atop of Lan Wangji. He presses his hands on either side of him, staring down into his eyes. His dark hair falls gently over his shoulders, like black threads tying them together, binding them in their own world. “I’ll come back to you as many times as it takes.”
For the first time in the Cloud Recesses’ history, Hanguang-Jun is late to the morning’s lecture.