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my dreams are playing softer now

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Lan Xichen is in the middle of excruciating smalltalk with Sect Leader Yao when he catches sight of his brother snagging a glass of champagne from the tray of a passing waiter. He doesn't drink immediately, just stares at it as if it might hold answers to all of his questions.

He looks around the room and the pieces fall together. Wei Wuxian is standing in a corner with Luo Qingyang, sporting his usual smile and gesturing animatedly. Lan Xichen holds in a sigh.

"Sect Leader Yao, please excuse me," he says genially. "I hate to cut our conversation short, but my brother needs me. Let's catch up later."

Before Sect Leader Yao can respond, Xichen is moving away and toward Wangji. He watches with growing horror as Wangji actually lifts the glass and drains it. He's not one for cursing, particularly not at a public event where he is officially acting as the sect leader of GusuLan, but in this moment, he's tempted.

By the time he reaches Wangji's side, he's starting to sway just slightly on his feet. He's grateful, for once, for his brother's forbidding aura. In a crowded banquet hall, there's no one within fifteen feet of them.

"For god's sake, Wangji," he snaps and wraps an arm around his brother's waist as he slumps into his side. He doesn't have time for this. He has many, many more people he needs to speak with before the night is over and he has an unofficial meeting in a side room in twenty minutes. Before he thinks about it over-much, he starts moving across the banquet hall again.

"He doesn't...he'll never…" his brother mutters and Lan Xichen grits his teeth.

Luo Qingyang spots him just before he gets to them and he sees her eyebrows lift comically high. In any other situation, if this weren't his little brother, he would be amused.

"Wei Wuxian," he says and then deposits Wangji unceremoniously at his side. "You've caused this. For once in your life, you get to deal with the consequences."

For his part, Wei Wuxian is clearly surprised, but he shifts to bear Wangji's weight instantly and wraps an arm around him to hold him up. With gentle fingers he lifts Wangji's chin and his eyes go wide when he realizes what's going on.

"Lan Zhan, are you--" Wei Wuxian looks up to meet his eyes. "I thought you Lans didn't drink?"

"We don't," Lan Xichen replies. He can't hold in an exasperated sigh. "Except, apparently, where you are involved."

"I'm not sure how I could possi--Lan Zhan, wha--okay," Wei Wuxian says as Wangji presses his face into his neck. Despite his surprise, his grip doesn't falter.

"Zewu-Jun," Luo Qingyang says, catching his eye. There's a mischievous twinkle there and he feels his frustration ebb away. "I've been meaning to ask your thoughts on the latest initiative from the Independent Cultivators Alliance,” she says.

“I would be absolutely delighted to discuss it with you,” he says with a smile and holds out his arm. “Shall we?”

“Uh, Zewu-Jun, what…do you want me to do?” Wei WuXian asks when they’re a few steps away.

“Just take care of him, Young Master Wei,” he replies. “If you don’t think you can manage that…”

He sees Wei Wuxian's grip tighten around Wangji's waist. Wei Wuxian has never backed down from a challenge in his life and something about the look in his eyes tells Lan Xichen it won't be much of a challenge for him at all.

His plans for the evening did not involve caring for his drunken little brother and he doesn't intend to change them now, not when Wei Wuxian is right there and clearly willing.

***

"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian whispers to the man practically limp against his side. "You need to work with me, here. Just to the elevator and then it will be easier. Lan Er-gege, you'd be embarrassed if I just picked you up in my arms and carried you through the banquet hall for everyone to see."

"Mn," Lan Wangji says as if that's a useful comment at all.

"Okay. Let's break it down even more. It's twenty feet to the nearest door. Let's just go those twenty feet. One foot in front of the other," Wei Wuxian encourages and is delighted when Lan Wangji does actually start walking. After a fashion. It's better than the alternative, at any rate.

They make it to the wide doors leading out into the hall and Wei Wuxian leans both of them up against the wall for a few moments.

"All right. Fifty feet to the elevators. We can do this, Lan Zhan. That's not far at all and there are fewer people," he says. Lan Wangji responds by nuzzling against the skin above Wei Wuxian's collar.

He hears titters coming from a group of people looking at them from across the lobby. He lifts his head and meets the eyes of some asshole in Jin colors who's actually pointing and laughing. He puts every single bit of the hatred he feels for all but three and a half people in the Jin sect into the glare he sends back. The asshole's mouth snaps shut and he turns away.

"Lan Zhan. Um," he lets out a slow breath and looks at back to Lan Wangji. He can't help but reach up and push Lan Wangji's hair back away from his eyes. "Lan Er-gege, you're going to be so embarrassed tomorrow even if I don't pick you up. Okay, let's try again."

He straightens up and pulls Lan Wangji along with him. "Lan Zhan, there's one of those dumb round sofa things halfway to the elevators. Let's make it to that and we can sit for a couple of minutes."

Progress is slow, but steady. They make it to the sofa and sit, but the roundness throws both of them off and Lan Wangji tips in the wrong direction. Wei Wuxian grabs his shoulder to keep him steady and instead, he ends up practically draped over his lap.

"Lan Zhan, ah," he says and pushes at Lan Wangji's shoulder, trying to get him to sit up on his own. "Seriously, we don't want to give that asshole more material, do we? I don't even know his name, but I know he's fucking insufferable. Nearly all the Jins are."

Lan Wangji actually hums an acknowledgement and sits up more.

"Are you coming out of it, maybe?" Wei Wuxian asks hopefully. "I saw you five minutes before your brother brought you to me. You were fine. You talked to me like normal! You couldn't possibly have had enough to drink to get like this in five minutes. Is it a weird Lan cultivation thing? Is that why you guys don't drink?"

Lan Wangji doesn't answer, not that Wei Wuxian really expected it. "What do you say we go the rest of the way to the elevators?"

He pushes himself up and off the sofa and holds out his hands to Lan Wangji, who takes them and lets him pull him up. Except he doesn't actually stop going when he's up and Wei Wuxian ends up with both arms around Lan Wangji's shoulders and being held tight around the waist in return.

All he can do is laugh a little bit, especially when Lan Wangji hums with what sounds like contentment. "Lan Zhan, when was the last time you hugged someone, huh?"

Probably too long, Wei Wuxian thinks. He can't imagine Lan Qiren hugging anyone ever and Lan Wangji's relationship with his brother doesn't seem like the sort that includes hugging. It makes something in his heart clench and he hugs him just a little bit tighter. He's about to start maneuvering them toward elevator again when Lan Wangji straightens up and releases him.

"You back with me, Lan Zhan?" he asks.

"Mn," Lan Wangji replies. He looks into Wei Wuxian's eyes for a solid ten seconds. He doesn't know how a drunk man can make him feel so exposed in the middle of a hotel lobby, but he feels it squirming down his spine. He clears his throat as Lan Wangji grabs his hand and pulls him, not toward the elevators, but toward the doors that lead out into the warm night.

"Lan Zhan, where are we going?" he asks as he follows.

"Out," Lan Wangji replies as if it's completely obvious.

"You want some fresh air? I mean, there's a nice little courtyard over near the pool," he says.

Lan Wangji doesn't stop when he gets out the hotel doors. He turns left and walks up the street with purpose, hand still holding very firmly onto Wei Wuxian's. The responsible thing to do would probably be to stop and insist they go back to the hotel and up to one of their rooms, but the responsible option is almost always the boring option.

"Okay. Sure. Lead the way, Lan Zhan," he says. They walk beyond the hotel and into an area with several restaurants on either side of the street. Lan Wangji stops abruptly and Wei Wuxian barely stops himself from slamming into him and then he's being tugged across the street and into a restaurant before he can even register the name.

It turns out, it's less a restaurant and more a fancy patisserie with case upon case filled with desserts so beautiful it makes a person feel guilty for eating them.

Wei Wuxian can't help but laugh. "Craving sweets, Lan Zhan?" he asks.

"Mn," he says and looks Wei Wuxian directly in the eyes. "Order something for us."

It's the most coherent sentence he's heard from Lan Wangji in twenty minutes. Wei Wuxian tilts his head and looks closely at him.

"Lan Zhan, are you still drunk?"

"No," Lan Wangji replies, but he looks up and to the right and won't meet Wei Wuxian's eyes. "Order," he insists.

"All right, all right," Wei Wuxian replies with a laugh. "If we're having dessert, you have to help me choose."

He greets the people working in the shop and starts looking at each different option. Lan Wangji hasn't let go of his hand.

Wei Wuxian peruses the cases and tries to get some opinions out of Lan Wangji.

"Do you want chocolate, Lan Zhan?" he asks.

"Hm," Lan Wangji replies.

"Yeah, I agree. Chocolate is great, but after that dinner I'm feeling something a little lighter," he says.

Even with eliminating chocolate, there are still a lot of options.

"Hm. What about one of those giant cupcakes? No, you're too high class for that. The lavender crème brûlée looks good," he says, but when he tries to move forward to order it, Lan Wangji won't let him move. Instead, he moves closer to the case with the cupcakes.

"Lan Zhan, do you want a cupcake?" he asks.

"En," Lan Wangji replies.

Wei Wuxian grins. "A cupcake it is. What about...the strawberry with champagne buttercream?"

"Mn," Lan Wangji agrees.

"One strawberry cupcake with champagne buttercream, please," he requests.

"Will you be eating here, sir?" the girl behind the counter asks. Wei Wuxian looks at Lan Wangji then shakes his head.

"To go, please," he says. There's a small park square nearby, they can find a bench. It's a nice evening. He'd thought it a shame to be cooped up in the hotel banquet hall and miss it.

Wei Wuxian reaches for his wallet, but before he can even get it out of his pocket, Lan Wangji hands the cashier a credit card.

"Where did that even come from?" he asks with a laugh. "Fine, if you want to pay, I won't argue."

"I brought you," Lan Wangji says.

Wei Wuxian smiles wide as he takes the little box now containing their cupcake from the cashier. "I suppose you did."

As they exit the shop, Lan Wangji laces their fingers together and Wei Wuxian's chest feels tight. It will almost be a shame when he comes out of this weird drunken state and remembers he hates touching people and Wei Wuxian in particular.

"Come on, Lan Zhan," he says. "There's a little park over there. We can find a nice bench to sit on and eat our cupcake."

They bench they choose is next to a small fountain. The sun will be down sooner rather than later, but for now the light is just perfect. The scent of flowers permeates the air and it's truly a pretty little place.

"We have good timing, Lan Zhan," he says and sets to opening the box with the cupcake. "It's really beautiful right now."

"It is," Lan Wangji agrees after a moment. His tone is one Wei Wuxian is certain he's never heard from him and he looks up to see Lan Wangji looking right at him.

He swallows. The thing is, he likes it when Lan Wangji looks at him. He always has.

"Lan Zhan, have you gotten drunk before? Did you know this would happen?" he asks as he picks at the paper wrapper on the cupcake.

Lan Wangji doesn't reply.

"I'm going to take that as a yes. Your brother seemed too exasperated to have not experienced this before. So now I have to wonder when you got drunk before and why. Lan Zhan, you know how curious I am. I'm not going to stop until you give me an answer," he says and grins as he holds the cupcake up.

Lan Wangji blinks at him.

"Take a bite, Lan Zhan," he prompts and gives the cupcake a little wiggle.

Lan Wangji frowns in concentration and leans forward to take a bite of cupcake. It's impossible to be in any way delicate with this kind of thing and Lan Wangji is drunk, but he's a classy sort of guy so he tries to be neat about it.

He fails. When he pulls back, there's frosting on his nose and lips and it's maybe the cutest thing he's seen at least since the first time A-Yuan met his baby cousin. He puts the cupcake down gently in the box and smiles as he pulls out his handkerchief to dab the frosting away from Lan Wangji's face.

"Is it good?" he asks.

"Mn," Lan Wangji agrees

"You're lucky I spend a lot of time hanging out with a baby and a toddler. I wouldn't have had a handkerchief on hand before," he says. "But now that you've taken the first bite, the next one will work better."

"Your turn," Lan Wangji insists.

Wei Wuxian smiles helplessly. "Okay."

The cupcake really is very good. It tastes like summer evenings on the docks of Lotus Pier and happiness. They trade off taking bites until there's only one left.

"You take it," Lan Wangji insists.

"But you were the one who wanted dessert, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian says and holds it up to his mouth. He stubbornly leans back and shakes his head, lips pressed into a tight line as if Wei Wuxian might just shove it in his mouth. Which...fair.

"Okay, okay fine," he laughs and pops the last bit of cake in his mouth.

He leans back on the bench and stares up through the leaves of the trees to the darkening sky.

"You know, I was kind of dreading tonight. I mean, there are a few people I can talk to, but...I don't really belong with all of that, not really. Not anymore. It was nice to get away," he says. "So thanks for getting drunk. You probably saved me from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and getting in a stupid fight. Though...maybe next time we start in private and not in front of a banquet hall full of important people our brothers are trying to schmooze with, huh?"

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji says. "You belong. With them. With me."

Lan Wangji must really still be drunk because he's absolutely sure he wouldn't have said it like that sober. Wei Wuxian shakes his head. "You're sweet to say that, but ninety-nine percent of the people in that room would disagree. Anyway, let's not get maudlin now. The evening is too nice for that."

"Ridiculous," Lan Wangji says.

"I can't dispute that," Wei Wuxian says with a laugh. "But only one of us got so drunk during an important function that he had to leave. Lan Zhan, I hope you know I'm never letting you live this down."

He turns to grin at Lan Wangji to find him looking intently at him. "What is it, Lan Zhan?" he asks. "Do I have frosting on my face?"

Lan Wangji shakes his head. "No frosting."

"Am I that pretty, then?" he jokes.

"Yes," Lan Wangji replies seriously.

Wei Wuxian is so startled he gasps at the same time he's trying to swallow and starts coughing.

"Well, that answers the question of how drunk you still are," Wei Wuxian croaks, then clears his throat. "We should probably get back. Can't have anyone thinking I kidnapped Hanguang-Jun, can I?"

He pushes himself up off the bench and holds his hands out to Lan Wangji. He blinks at them a few times before he sets his hands in Wei Wuxian's, who tugs until he stands, swaying just the slightest bit. From anyone else, he wouldn't think anything of it, but Lan Wangji has always been so careful and controlled. The only time Wei Wuxian has seen him so much as tremble was years ago now and there were extenuating circumstances.

"You did not kidnap me," Lan Wangji says seriously. His tone is almost dismissive, as if the very concept of Wei Wuxian doing anything so immoral is kidnapping is beyond the realm of possibility. It would be nice, he thinks, if Lan Wangji actually believed that.

Wei Wuxian shakes away the thought and laughs as he takes hold of Lan Wangji's arm and starts walking them back toward the hotel. "I definitely didn't. If anything, you kidnapped me! I was just going to take you up to whichever of our rooms I could get to first. You were the one who dragged me outside."

Lan Wangji grabs his hand and tugs him to a stop, looking into his face with the tiniest wrinkle between his brows. "Did you have fun?"

"Yeah, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian says with a smile. "It was fun. I wish--doesn't matter. Let's go back."

They start walking again. Lan Wangji doesn't seem willing to relinquish his hold on Wei Wuxian's hand.

"Lan Zhan, people are going to get all sorts of ideas if they see us like this," he points out.

Lan Wangji doesn't hear him or doesn't care, because he doesn't let go.

"I think you might actually be more stubborn like this, Lan Wangji," he says with a laugh. "I wouldn't have thought it possible."

That is clearly unworthy of any kind of response and Wei Wuxian laughs. Lan Wangji refusing to talk to him is much more familiar to him.

It doesn't take them long to get back to the hotel. There are a few cultivators smoking outside. At one time, Wei Wuxian would have been joining them. Now, it's yet another thing he left in the past.

"Come on, Lan Zhan. Now we have to get across the lobby and to the elevators for real. I definitely don't want to talk to any of these people anymore," he says.

By some miracle, they make it to the elevators. Wei Wuxian shuffles them inside and slams the close button, hoping no one manages to get on with them.

He breathes a sigh of relief when the doors close and the elevator starts moving. "A clean escape," he says.

Tomorrow, Jiang Cheng will probably demand to know where he went. At least in this instance, he can blame Zewu-Jun. He didn't intend to disappear this time. For once.

When the elevator dings and opens on the floor where his room is, Lan Wangji is clearly starting to sag a bit.

"Is the alcohol wearing off, or is it almost nine?" he asks with a grin and gently nudges Lan Wangji out and down the hall.

He gets his keycard out, swipes it, and pushes open the door. "Home sweet hotel room. Make yourself at home, Lan Zhan."

He pulls his phone out of his pocket to check the time and notices he has a message from his sister and that yes, it is getting close to nine. "Lans are so reliable," he mutters and opens the text thread with Jiang Yanli.

*

Shijie

Where did you disappear to, A-Xian?

Wei Wuxian

Zewu-Jun asked me to take care of his drunk little brother!!! Can you believe it??????? Can you A-Yuan stay with you guys tonight? Lan Zhan is probably going to fall asleep soon and I don't want to disturb him.

Shijie

Of course, A-Xian.

Wei Wuxian

Thanks Shijie!!!!

*

He sets his phone on the bedside table and turns back to Lan Wangji, who is standing at the end of the bed staring at Wei Wuxian.

"Sit, sit, Lan Zhan," he says and reaches out to nudge him down onto the bed. "'I'll get you a glass of water."

He steps over to the minibar and cracks open one of the water bottles in the small fridge. He pours it into one of the glasses on top after a second of debate. It would feel strange, he thinks, to watch Lan Wangji drink directly from a disposable plastic water bottle. Though, he thought Lan Wangji was too high class for a cupcake earlier and was clearly proven wrong, so what does he know?

"Here, Lan Zhan," he says softly and puts the glass in his hand. Lan Wangji frowns at it for a moment, then lifts it to his mouth to drink. "I'll find you something more comfortable to sleep in than a tuxedo."

He rummages through his suitcase and pulls out a spare pair of cotton pajama pants and a plain black t-shirt. Both are worn soft and comfortable and Wei Wuxian can't imagine Lan Wangji even owning something like them.

"Done with your water, Lan Zhan?" Wei Wuxian asks.

"Mn," Lan Wangji replies and holds out the glass to him.

"Trade you," Wei Wuxian says. "Get changed out of that suit and wash your face like a good boy."

Lan Wangji nods seriously, takes the clothes from Wei Wuxian, and steps toward the bathroom.

Wei Wuxian can't help the small laugh that escapes him. Dealing with a drunk Lan Wangji really is almost exactly like dealing with a toddler. Here's hoping they skip the tantrum portion of the proceedings.

He swiftly strips out of his tux and into his own pajamas as the water in the sink runs. When Lan Wangji comes out of the bathroom again, face flushed and hair surrounding his face damp, Wei Wuxian feels something odd squirm through his gut.

The t-shirt is a bit tight on him. His chest is broad and his arms muscular in ways Wei Wuxian would never have guessed since he's usually so buttoned up.

"My turn!" he says cheerfully and pushes Lan Wangji toward the bed.

He shakes his head, shuts the bathroom door, turns the water to cold, and splashes it on his face. He can't blame anything on being drunk. He had a single glass of wine before Lan Xichen accosted him and told him to take care of his little brother and it's long out of his system.

He washes his face and brushes his teeth before squaring his shoulders and and going back into the room.

"Lan Zhan, it's almost nine. Why don't you get in bed. I'm not sleepy yet, so I think I'll turn on the TV. Don't worry, I'll mute it and put on subtitles." Lan Wangji's brow is furrowed, but he does pull his legs up onto the bed.

"You're suddenly so agreeable, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian says as he sits down on the other side of the bed and reaches for the remote. "Maybe you should get drunk more often."

He's about to turn on the TV when Lan Wangji plucks the remote from his fingers and sets it on the night table on his side of the bed.

"Hey," Wei Wuxian says. "I said I would keep it qui–"

"It is nine. Sleep," Lan Wangji says and using his now very obvious strength, he forces Wei Wuxian to lie down next to him and slings an arm over his chest, holding him firmly. He swallows hardm, takes a deep breath, and very studiously does not think about how much of his porn collection involves people getting tied down.

"Lan Zhan, come on," he says and tries to extract himself Lan Wangji's grip. It doesn't work. "I take it back. You're not agreeable at all. Lan Zhan, I'm not tired. I don't sleep early like you do. I promise I'll be quiet and let you sleep, just give me the remote."

"Sleep," Lan Wangji says and closes his eyes.

"What," Wei Wuxian asks the ceiling. He waits a few moments and tries to move again, but the arm tightens over him. "What the hell?"

He experiments after that. The only way Lan Wangji allows him to move is to turn over onto his side so he can reach the switch for the light on the night table. And his phone. Thank god.

*

Wei Wuxian

Mianmian, my evening is going extremely strangely. Did Zewu-Jun say anything to you?????

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

What do you imagine he might have said to me?

Wei Wuxian

I don't know! Maybe he told you why ME???? Why Lan Zhan would have gotten drunk tonight of all nights????????

I mean, he's not a belligerent drunk or anything. Actually, he's been pretty sweet. But it's just WEIRD. And now I've been forced to bed at 9pm like a child. He won't even let me sit up. Like...physically. We're spooning?????

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

You're an idiot.

Wei Wuxian

Rude!

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

Maybe. True, though. For a such smart guy, you're really stupid.

Wei Wuxian

Let's say that's true. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if I knew what was going on?????

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

It would certainly put several people out of their misery. Zewu-Jun seems to think you should figure it out for yourself, but I think he's overestimating your capacity for rational thought.

Wei Wuxian

HEY!!!!

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

Earlier, you stopped talking to him, came right over to me, and started being yourself. He grabbed a glass of champagne from the nearest passing tray and downed it. I saw the whole thing happen. What does that tell you?

Wei Wuxian

?????? I don't know???? Why would that upset him??????????????? I figured he'd be relieved I left him to his peace and quiet by the wall.

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

Wei Wuxian. You had every appearance of flirting with me. Why would that upset someone?

Wei Wuxian

But you're MARRIED. I wasn't flirting! I was being friendly! And I ask again why would that upset him??????????????????????????????????

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

Oh my god. I can't do this. He's in love with you, you idiot. Lan Wangji has been in love with you for years now.

Wei Wuxian

That's not possible

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

Why not?

Wei Wuxian

We argued every time we saw each other for years??? He takes issue with basically my entire being. He's Hanguang-Jun. He doesn't like me.

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

I can't believe you're making me do this.

But fine.

Let's do a fucking thought exercise. Think about those arguments.

He's never been one for much talking. He takes action. That's why he's called Hanguang-Jun.

Given that verbal communication isn't his greatest skill, why would he, a man who is courteous and proper to a fault, seek you out every time you were in the same place just to argue? Lan Wangji is KNOWN for avoiding people he doesn't want to deal with.

SO. A man known for avoiding people he disagrees with or doesn't like continually seeks you out. If he's not actually angry with you when you argue, why do those arguments happen?

*

Wei Wuxian thinks back over the last few years, thinks about every argument at the height of the Sunshot Campaign and immediately after. No one was genuine with him. No one knew what to do or say around him. Lan Wangji was the only one to seek him out and Wei Wuxian expected the good and righteous Hanguang-Jun to take issue with him, with his cultivation.

If, as Mianmian suggested, his questions weren't pointed barbs, they could only have been genuine concern. If Lan Wangji wasn't condemning him outright, then he could only have been worried about him. If Lan Wangji wasn't implying they should lock Wei Wuxian up in the Cloud Recesses and throw away the key, he could only have been offering help. Respite.

His chest feels tight and his eyes burn.

*

Wei Wuxian

You're not fucking with me, are you?

Mianmian (Luo Qingyang)

I wouldn't. Not about something like this. So now you have eight hours to figure out what you're going to do about it. Good luck.

*

He doesn't respond again. He can't think of anything to say. He feels like his entire world has been upended. He needs to reevaluate every single interaction he's had with Lan Wangji since the start of the Sunshot Campaign and he has to do it while wrapped in his arms.

Except, the more he tries to think, the more he realizes how comfortable and warm he is. How much he likes this. Maybe he doesn't really need to think about it after all.

His plans for the evening might not have originally included taking care of a drunken Lan Wangji, but he thinks even being stuck in bed like this is better than anything he might have done otherwise.

***

Lan Wangji wakes up at 5 am as he normally does. That is where normal stops. This is not his room in the suite he's sharing with his family; the light is all wrong. Also the air conditioning in the room is on and he knows he never turned it on, but despite the chill he can feel in the air, he's warm. In fact, the blankets feel much heavier than the light, airy bedding he remembers from the night before.

It's several long moments before he realizes that what he thought was the bedding is, in fact, a person. It startles him enough that his body jerks and there's a little moan from the person draped over his chest.

"No, 's too early. Still sleeping," a voice whines. Wei Ying. Wei Wuxian presses his face into Lan Wangji's neck with grumpy little noise that he would find adorable if he weren't too busy trying not to panic.

He closes his eyes and takes several deep breaths and starts to take stock. His head is pounding as it only ever has the one other time he foolishly imbibed alcohol. Considering his last clear memories from the night before are of taking a glass of champagne from one of the many waiters circulating the banquet hall, that makes sense. The rest is...fuzzy. There are flashes of Wei Ying laughing, of standing in a shop paying for...something, the taste of sweet strawberries, of sitting on a bench next to the man he loves feeling perfectly content.

He focuses back on his physical situation. He seems to be clothed and a glance down shows that Wei Wuxian's shoulder is covered by red fabric, so he must be as well. That's...a relief. Of a sort.

He has no memory of coming back to the hotel. No memory of changing out of his tuxedo. No memory of getting in bed with Wei Ying.

As is frequently the case where Wei Wuxian is involved, Lan Wangji has absolutely no idea what to do. Should he get up and leave? Should he wake him up? Should he stay here and let Wei Ying sleep?

He's debating the merits of each course of action when he hears the door to the hotel room open. His eyes snap in that direction and he sees Jiang Yanli slip into the room with a bundle in her arms large enough to rest against her shoulder.

When her eyes meet his, she...smiles.

"Good morning, Lan Er-Gongzi. I'm sorry to disturb you," she whispers and gently lifts the blankets beside them and tucks the bundle...a sleeping child, he realizes, under them. "A-Xuan and I had to rebook our flight home due to a storm coming this afternoon, so I'm returning this little one to his a-die."

All Lan Wangji can do is nod in response.

"A-Xian will sleep for a while yet, so please give him my love when he wakes," she says, then looks at her brother and the child with a fond smile. "Waking either of them now would only lead to tears. It was good to see you again, Lan Er-Gongzi. I hope we'll be seeing more of each other in the future."

Again, Lan Wangji can only nod. With that, Jiang Yanli slips back out the door and now he's left in the quiet room with Wei Ying still on his chest and now a child snuffling softly next to them.

There are several long moments where his heart races and he runs through all the people Wei Wuxian could possibly have had a child with in the last few years when he realizes he knows this child. He met him once before in Yiling not long after Wei Wuxian rescued the remaining Wens from the atrocities being committed by certain members of LanlingJin.

Wen Yuan. Perhaps Wei Yuan, now?

The ache of jealousy gripping his chest eases and he feels rather ashamed at the depth of his relief.

The feeling that washes over him next is a wave of love so strong he's glad he's already lying down. Of course Wei Wuxian adopted Wen Yuan. Of course he did.

Someday, perhaps, he'll stop being absolutely bowled over every time he learns something new about what Wei Wuxian has done in pursuit of taking care of his friends and family. Someday, perhaps, he'll stop falling even more in love with the man still asleep on his chest.

The man who will wake soon enough and Lan Wangji will make everything horrifically awkward. He closes his eyes. If this is the last time he's going to wake up with Wei Ying in his arms, he wants to remember it. He wants to remember how the warm weight of him feels against his chest, wants to remember the feeling of Wei Ying's light grip on his side, wants to remember the rise and fall of his breath under the hand resting on his back and the warmth of it against his neck.

Wen Yuan makes a soft noise and shifts closer under the blankets and Lan Wangji knows he wants to remember this as well. If all he gets is an hour or two in the liminal space of this hotel room to be part of Wei Wuxian's family, he will take it.

He sends a breath of qi toward the air conditioner to turn it off, then lets himself fall into an almost meditative state. He catalogues every breath, every noise from both of his companions. He doesn't allow himself to think beyond either of them waking up. It will come when it comes and he will have to leave as he always does.

An hour or more passes like that. When he feels a small hand pat his arm, he finally opens his eyes to look into Wen Yuan's smiling face.

"Gege, is a-die asleep?" he whispers.

Lan Wangji nods and holds a finger to his lips. A-Yuan nods, scoots closer, theatrically closes his eyes, and pretends to go back to sleep.

It lasts for all of a minute before he opens them again with a small frown. "Gege, I'm hungry."

If he's honest, Lan Wangji is also hungry. He wonders if he can get out of bed without waking Wei Ying. As much as he doesn't want to let go of him, he knows that if A-Yuan doesn't get some food soon, he'll just wake his father up anyway.

So, slowly and carefully, Lan Wangji starts to extract himself from bed. Wei Ying whines a bit and clutches at him and Lan Wangji almost gives up, but A-Yuan sits up and beams at him, so he knows he has to continue.

Wei Ying is still sound asleep by the time he's out of bed, he pulls the covers up over Wei Ying's shoulder and can't help but watch him for just a moment. Then, he reaches over him to lift A-Yuan up and out of bed.

"Good morning, A-Yuan," he whispers and carries him toward the bathroom. "Let's be quiet while your a-die sleeps."

A-Yuan nods eagerly and mimes pulling a zipper over his lips. He helps A-Yuan wash his small face and brush his teeth and uses his phone to put in an order for breakfast with room service on the hotel's app. A-Yuan finds a small, bright green backpack and retrieves a book and what must be an old cell phone of Wei Ying's that's covered in stickers. He pulls himself up into one of the chairs around the small table, clearly content to play quietly while they wait.

Lan Wangji allows him a moment to be amused that Wei Wuxian's child has been quieter in the last ten minutes than Wei Ying has ever been while awake.

While he waits for the food to arrive, he checks his messages. The one from his brother is both sweet and infuriating.

*

Lan Xichen

Wangji, I hope you had a lovely evening. Mingjue says he saw you and Young Master Wei returning to the hotel looking quite happy. Please let me know if you need anything this morning.

*

He doesn't remember what happened, he doesn't remember leaving with Wei Ying, but somehow he knows his brother was involved. Two can play at this game.

*

Lan Wangji

I only remember snatches of my evening, thank you for asking. Wei Ying is still asleep, but Jiang Yanli returned his son to the room quite early, so the two of us are awake and waiting for breakfast.

Lan Xichen

I did not realize Wei Wuxian had a son.

Lan Wangji

Apparently, he does. He's about four years old and a sweet and well-behaved child.

*

Lan Wangji watches as the "..." indicating his brother is typing for nearly a full minute before he sends a short question.

*

Lan Xichen

Wangji are you all right?

*

He supposes he'll put his brother out of his misery.

*

Lan Wangji

I am fine. I have met him before. At the time, his name was Wen Yuan. Now, I imagine it is Wei.

Lan Xichen

Ah. I heard there was a child among the Wen prisoners, but I did not realize he was so young. I hope Young Master Wei knows that not a day goes by when I don't regret all that happened to the remaining Wens.

Lan Wangji

I will be sure he knows. Our food is nearly here, so I must go.

Lan Xichen

If you do not return to the rooms before checkout, I will take care of your things.

Lan Wangji

Thank you, brother.

*

He manages to open the door to take the tray of food from the hotel waiter before they can knock on the door and disturb Wei Ying. As he sets it on the table, A-Yuan bounces a little in his chair and sets aside his things as he watches Lan Wangji lift the covers from the food. He serves A-Yuan and then himself, then pours himself a cup of tea. There's a bowl of spicy noodles still under a cover for Wei Ying. A-Yuan seems happy with his steamed buns, congee, and soy milk, so clearly Lan Wangji didn't do a terrible job of choosing food for them.

He's reaching out to serve A-Yuan another bun when his little face lights up with a grin. "A-die! You're awake!"

Lan Wangji takes a breath and turns to look at Wei Wuxian. He's sitting up in bed, legs crossed and elbows on his knees, with his chin resting on his fists, looking for all the world like he's been sitting there watching them for at least several minutes. He's smiling at them. It's not his usual bright, teasing grin. It's a smile Lan Wangji has never seen on his face, but he thinks it might be his favorite yet. It's soft and warm and feels...almost private. Only for the occupants of this room.

"I sure am," Wei Ying replies, voice scratchy with sleep.

"Did we wake you?" Lan Wangji asks.

Wei Ying shakes his head. "The smell of the food. I don't mind. Breakfast is a nice thing to wake up to. Usually I have to make it or we have to go off begging. I bet that congee's better than mine, eh, A-Yuan?"

A-Yuan gives an apologetic little nod, but Wei Ying just laughs. "That's why we get granny or Ning-shushu to cook for us, huh?"

A-Yuan nods emphatically and takes another bite of congee.

"When did the little man get here, anyway?" Wei Wuxian asks.

"Your shijie brought him around six. She and her husband had to get an earlier flight due to an incoming storm," he explains. "She didn't want to wake you. She said to give you her love."

Wei Wuxian frowns. "I suppose we'll just have to use the fact that I missed her as an excuse to visit. Ah well. Bet that was a surprise, though."

"When did you adopt him?" Lan Wangji asks.

"Officially? Six months ago. But he'd been mostly with me for longer. Since you and I saw each other in Yiling, really," he replies.

"I'm happy for you," he says. Because he very much is. "And him. Come eat," he says and pours Wei Wuxian a cup of tea.

Lan Wangji tries not to stare as Wei Wuxian lifts his hands over his head to stretch. He gets up off the bed, leans down to kiss the top of A-Yuan's head and sinks into the empty chair. He takes a sip of tea with a contented sigh. Lan Wangji gives him a bowl of congee and uncovers the noodles for him.

"You're so good, Lan Er-Gege," Wei Ying says in a tone that makes Lan Wangji feels as if the bottom has dropped out of his stomach. "You even got me spicy noodles and last night you bought me a cupcake."

"I...did?" Lan Wangji asks.

Wei Ying's eyes crinkle with amusement. "Do you not remember?"

Lan Wangji feels the tips of his heat up and sighs. "I remember very little. No speaking while eating."

Wei Wuxian snickers, but stays quiet for a few minutes, only pausing to help A-Yuan wipe some steamed bun filling off his face. There are many reasons why what Lan Wangji did last night was foolish, and his lack of memory of the events is only one of them.

"It was really all very innocent and sweet, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian tells him after he drains his cup of tea and Lan Wangji pours him another. "We left the ballroom. I intended to bring you up here, but you had other ideas, so we found a little dessert shop and bought a cupcake–"

"You got a cupcake?" A-Yuan interrupts, eyes wide.

"We did and we might get you one too, but little boys who interrupt their elders don't get cupcakes," Wei Ying says. A-Yuan pouts spectacularly, but is ignored. "Anyway, we took it to a nearby park to eat it, then we came back here and you forced me to go to bed at nine."

"I apologize for spoiling your evening," Lan Wangji says, staring studiously into his teacup. He honestly doesn't really know what else to say.

"Lan Zhan, you saved me from hours of making torturous smalltalk with people I can't stand and you bought me a cupcake. I mean, I'm a little sad you don't remember our first date, but I think you can make that up to me," he says and reaches over to squeezes his hand.

Lan Wangji's eyes snap to Wei Ying's and he feels as if the whole world freezes, even the air in his lungs. Wei Wuxian is looking at him with that same soft smile he was wearing when he first woke up. None of his usual teasing demeanor is anywhere to be seen.

"First date?" Lan Wangji rasps.

"I'm kind of hoping it's the first of many," Wei Wuxian says, then glances away. "If...you don't mind dating a single father who, according to his son, can't cook and who half the cultivation world hates."

"You think I'm boring and insufferable and overly obsessed with meaningless rules. You don't like me," Lan Wangji blurts and then wants to get up and walk into the nearest body of water.

"Until last night, I thought you thought I'm an inconsiderate, reckless idiot whose methods are wicked and it would be better if I were locked up and someone lost the key," Wei Wuxian says quietly, staring at his hands.

"Did I...say something?" he asks.

"No," Wei Wuxian says. "It's just you were sweet and you bought me a cupcake and shared it with me and held my hand and I kept thinking about how much it was going to suck when you sobered up and remembered you hate me. I didn't understand why your brother brought you to me, so I texted Mianmian. Who has a husband, by the way. He's a nice guy. Thinks cultivators are absolutely nuts. Helps get supplies for us in Yiling at cost. Anyway, I didn't get it. And she finally lost patience with me being an idiot and told me the truth."

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji says and Wei Wuxian finally meets his eyes again.

"I spent a while thinking about it, about how if she's right, it changes everything I thought I knew," he says. "I'd like to get to know the Lan Zhan I got to hang out with last night. And the one I woke up to this morning who quietly feeds a little boy breakfast and orders me foods I like. So if you love me...I want to try."

Lan Wangji can only stare at him in stunned silence.

"Um. If you could answer, that would be good," Wei Ying says.

In that moment, Lan Wangji can't find any words, so he reaches out and takes Wei Wuxian's hand. He clears his throat. "Wei Ying. Yes."

The uncertain look on Wei Wuxian's face vanishes and he laughs in delight as he squeezes Lan Wangji's hand tight.

"Good. Ah, Lan Zhan, you make me so happy," he says.

It's all he's ever really wanted to hear.

"I do," he says, suddenly needing to say it, to let the words finally pass his lips, to finally let them be heard.

"Do what?" Wei Wuxian asks, still smiling.

"Love you," he replies.

Wei Wuxian bites his lip and blinks rapidly, but he can't hide the fact that his eyes are bright with tears.

"I didn't realize how much I wanted–needed to hear you say that," Wei Ying says. His voice is tight. Lan Wangji watches his Adam's apple bob as he swallows hard.

"Then I will say it as often as you want to hear it," Lan Wangji promises.

"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying breathes. "Ah, Lan Zhan. You really are too good."

"Does that mean you're coming home with us?" A-Yuan asks, spoon halfway to his mouth, eyes moving between them curiously. "A-die says only the most special people get to come visit."

It's a blatant excuse to explain their lack of visitors, Lan Wangji realizes. Let A-Yuan think it's Wei Wuxian controlling access and not any of the more accurate explanations.

"If you both would like me to, I would like nothing better," he says.

"I think we would like that very much, Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says.

"Then I will come home with you," he tells A-Yuan, who flings his arms out to cheer with a spoon still full of congee. It goes everywhere, including on Lan Wangji's face.

Wei Ying's eyes go wide with horror, but the only thing Lan Wangji can do is laugh.

"Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian gasps, brief horror replaced immediately by complete delight, and he starts laughing too, so hard he has to lean his elbow on the table for a moment before he grabs one of the napkins and gets up to dab the congee off Lan Wangji's face. "I'd apologize, but...this is my life now. Congee incidents are the new normal."

Lan Wangji lets himself put his hands on Wei Wuxian's hips. "I don't mind."

He doesn't. Not the slightest bit. None of this is anything like he planned and he thinks that's a good thing. Wei Ying's smile goes soft and he leans down. As their lips meet, Lan Wangji thinks maybe it's time to throw out all his plans entirely.