The hallway is empty when they sneak to the shower, and presumably remains so, as nobody comes to bang on the door and demand to know what they’re doing in there. Under different circumstances, Lan Wangji would happily keep Wei Wuxian in the shower until they’d both recovered enough to go a second round, but he’s conscious of the fact that, even if Xichen won’t object to their absence, Wen Qing is still donating her time to mind A-Yuan – something she might be kind enough to do again in the future, provided they don’t abuse her patience this first time around.
Even so, it’s difficult to resist touching as much of Wei Wuxian as he can, slick hands stroking sides and arms as they kiss beneath the spray. Inevitably, they start to get aroused again, but by that point, they’re both aware of the time and agree, albeit reluctantly, to return to the party.
Snagging a pair of clean towels from the rack, Lan Wangji hands one to Wei Wuxian and leads him back to the bedroom, where they somehow manage to get dried and dressed without falling back into bed again, despite taking multiple breaks to kiss each other up against various surfaces. When they’re finally done, they leave the towels in the hamper, and as Wei Wuxian straightens his necklace and fixes his hair in the dresser mirror, grinning cheekily at his own reflection, Lan Wangji feels his whole chest expand with emotion. This is the room where his teenage self fantasised about teenage Wei Wuxian; where he later sat crying quiet tears the day he heard his uncle decry homosexuals and realized, for the first time, that this meant him. This is the room where he decided not to tell Xichen the truth of himself; where he shakily planned that first, illicit visit to the gay club in Caiyi Town.
And now it is also a room where he has slept with Wei Wuxian (where we made love, the long-stifled voice of his inner romantic thinks, to the anxious, yearning embarrassment of the rest of him), thereby bringing the whole thing full circle, like closing a circuit he never knew was open.
“Hey,” says Wei Wuxian, voice soft and worried. He’s moved away from the mirror, resting a hand to Lan Wangji’s cheek, eyes gentle with concern. “Are you okay?”
Lan Wangji manages a tremulous smile and leans in to kiss him, short and sweet. “I’ve never been better,” he says, and is startled by how much he means it. He links their hands, amazed all over again that he gets to have this. “Come on. Let’s go and eat, and see what A-Yuan is up to.”
Out on the verandah, they reclaim their shoes without anyone noticing. Wei Wuxian pokes out his tongue as he fiddles with his bootlaces, and when he straightens up again, Lan Wangji is moved to put an arm around his waist, snugging him close as they start to walk.
Wei Wuxian laughs, his cheeks still pleasantly flushed from the shower. “Really, Lan Zhan. So shameless!”
“Nothing about this is shameful,” Lan Wangji says, and thrills to think that any part of him maybe, finally believes it.
Wei Wuxian looks at him, realizes he’s serious, then smiles his full, bright, beautiful smile and puts his arm around his waist in turn.
When they walk back out to the courtyard, the music is still playing, and there are even more guests present than there were before, many of whom are now eating as well as talking, occupying the tables and chairs set up outside the main hall. Most importantly, however, Jingyi and Zizhen, who are supervised by their mothers, are still playing happily with A-Yuan, who is supervised by both Wen Qing and Mianmian. The two women are seated on the grass, Wen Qing braced on her palms with Mianmian’s head in her lap, and Lan Wangji has the sudden realization that perhaps he isn’t the only one here who caught feelings for a supposedly fake date.
“Welcome back,” says Wen Qing, looking them over with affectionate suspicion. A corner of her mouth ticks up as she takes a theatrical glance at her watch. “And you even made it in under an hour! I’m honestly impressed.”
“What can I say?” says Wei Wuxian. “Enthusiasm makes the job go faster.”
Mianmian snorts, swaying langorously upright to smile at Lan Wangji. “Hello, failed fiancé the first.”
“Hello,” he says, gravely. He tips his head to indicate both Wen Qing and Mianmian’s intimate proximity to her. “Who knew we had so much in common?”
Mianmian pokes out her tongue. “Oh, shut up,” she says, throwing a small clump of grass at him. “Still, if they’d put a gun to our heads, I would’ve chosen you over Zixuan.”
Wei Wuxian groans. “Please tell that to my sister. She actually likes him, it’s horrible.”
“She’s welcome to him,” says Mianmian, leaning back to grin at Wen Qing. “It leaves more sensible women for the rest of us.”
Almost imperceptibly, Wen Qing blushes. “Hush,” she says. “A-Yuan is coming.”
Sure enough, A-Yuan is barreling towards them, Jingyi and Zizhen hot on his heels. “Gege!” he shouts. “Zhan-ge! We’re playing space planes!”
“That’s great!” says Wei Wuxian, laughing as A-Yuan spreads his arms out and veers off from the adults, zig-zagging as Jingyi starts to make gun strafing noises in mock-attack. He watches the children dash off again, then turns back to Wen Qing. “Seeing as we’re still within the hour, do you mind watching him a little longer while we get some food? I’ve worked up quite an appetite!”
“I bet you have,” she mutters. A good three seconds passes, during which time Wei Wuxian makes puppy-dog eyes, before Wen Qing heaves a long-suffering sigh and flicks a magnanimous hand towards the buffet. “Go. Eat.”
“You’re the best, Qing-jie,” says Wei Wuxian, beaming.
“Correct,” she says dryly – and then, to Lan Wangji, “Congratulations! It’s now your official responsibility to make sure he eats a vegetable every so often. I resign my duties to you from here on in.” She tips her head back, smiling at the sky. “Ah, freedom!”
“I changed my mind, you’re the worst,” says Wei Wuxian, and promptly tugs Lan Wangji away before he can reply.
They’re almost to the main hall when Jin Zixuan appears in front of them, arms crossed and an extremely judgmental look on his face. He scans the pair of them, lip curling.
“You actually snuck off and fucked, didn’t you,” he says accusingly. “Wangji! Have you no pride?”
Lan Wangji feels his ears heat up. “You have no proof of that.”
“No proof? No proof? You’ve both got wet hair and the gremlin is missing an earring!”
Wei Wuxian lifts a hand to his ear and swears. “It must’ve come off in your room.”
“In his bed, more likely,” mutters Jin Zixuan.
“Where’s my sister?” asks Wei Wuxian, evidently deciding that the best defense is a good offence. “Did you run out of things to talk about, or has she just come to her senses?”
“She’s talking to your brother,” says Jin Zixuan, his attempt at hauteur somewhat ruined by his suddenly red cheeks. “I was going to bring her some cake.”
“Lan Zhan!” says Wei Wuxian, suddenly looking upset. “We missed them cutting the cake?”
“No,” replies Lan Wangji, touched by the concern. “Xichen’s never liked that part of birthday, and neither have I. We just put the cake out at a certain point and let people help themselves.”
“Oh,” says Wei Wuxian, visibly relieved. Then he brightens. “That means I can get cake, too!”
“Lunch first, then cake.”
“A-Zhan, Wen Qing was joking! You don’t really have to supervise my food, I’m perfectly capable –”
Lan Wangji kisses his cheek, which proves to be a startlingly effective method of shutting Wei Wuxian up. “Lunch first,” he says again, “then cake.”
“Ugh, fine,” says Wei Wuxian, blushing to the roots of his hair. “But I’m having two slices, and you can’t stop me!” And with that, he pokes his tongue out at Jin Zixuan and bounds ahead to help himself to the buffet, leaving Lan Wangji alone with his friend.
Jin Zixuan raises an eyebrow. “That’s really what does it for you? Him?”
“Just think,” says Lan Wangji serenely. “If things go well with Jiang Yanli, he’ll be your brother-in-law.”
Jin Zixuan opens his mouth. Closes it again. “Ah,” he says.
They start to move slowly towards the hall, the scent of food rekindling Lan Wangji’s appetite.
“Your uncle,” says Jin Zixuan, softly. “Was he really that bad?”
“Fuck. I’m sorry. This was my plan, after all.”
“Don’t be,” says Lan Wangji. “I’m not.”
They pause on the threshold, watching as Wei Wuxian, who is already at the buffet table, helps himself a frankly unnecessary number of egg rolls.
Jin Zixuan smirks. “Congrats on the sex.”
“Thank you,” says Lan Wangji. “Please never say that again.”
“Perish the thought.” He claps Lan Wangji on the shoulder. “All right! I need cake for Yanli. Go make sure your gremlin doesn’t choke on an egg roll.”
“Not in public, certainly,” says Lan Wangji, and steps away with the sound of Jin Zixuan’s disgusted protests ringing in his ears.
Apparently, Wei Wuxian is already rubbing off on him.
Good, he thinks, impossibly fond, and goes to join his boyfriend at the buffet.