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Wei Wuxian knew, with all his heart, that Lan Wangji was his soulmate. When his boyfriend’s soulmark had appeared on his 18th birthday, that only confirmed it. A simple lotus fractal, clean lines on the smooth skin above Lan Wangji’s heart that Wei Wuxian loved to trace as they lounged in bed. They had been dating since they were 16, and though they knew they were each other’s forever, they were waiting to take that final step into intimacy until Wei Wuxian’s birthday.

Which was in approximately 30 seconds. Wei Wuxian, always a night owl, deliberately stayed up until midnight tonight, he wanted to document the occasion that his soulmark appeared. They had meant to do this with Lan Wangji’s, months earlier, but Wei Wuxian had, uh, gotten distracted when he saw the broad expanse of Lan Wangji’s chest and they missed the moment. But not today! He was sitting in the bathroom, camera open on his phone, set to video, with Wei Wuxian’s finger hovering over the red record button. He had a timer in his other hand, and when it hit 10 he hit record and leaned forward excitedly.

10...9...8…

What if the soulmark didn’t appear on his chest, though! Frantically, Wei Wuxian hopped off the sink and adjusted so he could see his entire body in the mirror.

7...6...5…

Wei Wuxian refused to believe that he was going to be one of the people who didn’t have a soulmark. Lan Wangji had a LOTUS FRACTAL above his heart? Who else could that combination possibly represent? Like, if there was anyone else in the world who that could be then it would only mean that Wei Wuxian had a twin somewhere.

 

4...3...2..

Wei Wuxian stopped breathing.

1…

Nothing happened. Wei Wuxian’s body, aside from the various scars he had attained in childhood, remained blank. He dropped his phone and ran his fingers over his skin. Turning around, he scanned his back, his butt, the backs of his legs. He pulled his hair off his neck, looked at the back of his ears, he even tried to look at his scalp to see if it was there. Nothing.

***

The next morning, Jiang Cheng was astonished to see his brother glumly moping into the kitchen for breakfast. Dressed in a huge hoodie and jeans, his usually cheerful face bore evidence of a sleepless night. Jiang Cheng immediately guessed what had happened, and knew this was a matter that was far, far above his emotional paygrade. Grabbing his phone, he immediately texted their sister - thank god she was home from college for fall break - who appeared from her room a minute later, still in her pajamas. Wei Wuxian didn’t even notice, staring blankly into the fridge and waiting for breakfast to appear.

“A-Xian?” Jiang Yanli said, carefully. “You ok?”

Jiang Cheng passed along a cup of coffee, which she pressed into his hand, closing the refrigerator door and leading him to the table to sit down.

“I don’t have a soulmark,” Wei Wuxian finally said. “It didn’t show.”

Both the Jiangs gasped. Everyone knew Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were soulmates! It wasn’t unheard of for someone to not get a soulmark - only about half the population seemed to, with no real rhyme or reason to it - but relationships where one person had a mark and the other didn’t...well, no one had ever heard of that.

“Are you sure? Maybe it just didn’t show over your heart? Did you look -”

“I looked everywhere. I even considered shaving my head, just in case. It’s not there.” Wei Wuxian looked up at his sister, agony in his face. “What do I do now?”

Jiang Yanli just reached out to gather her heartbroken brother in her arms. She didn’t have the words he needed to hear.

***

Jiang Cheng had been able to text Nie Huaisang with the news in time for him to ditch the cake and party streamers that he had been planning to bring to school in order to celebrate with Wei Wuxian. None of them knew quite how to handle a situation like this, so they figured they would err on the side of treating it like a normal day and take Wei Wuxian’s lead. Nie Huaisang and Lan Wangji settled in their usual spot at the top of the stairs, waiting. Lan Wangji had woken up to a wrenching voicemail from his boyfriend. Knowing that their extroverted friend would need to be around friends they didn’t suggest he skip, but each resolved to not leave him alone.

Wei Wuxian trudged up the stairs, dreading what he would see at the top. Would Lan Wangji want to break up? He deserved to find his soulmate, even if that person wasn’t him. Wei Wuxian would let him go, even though it would be the hardest thing he would ever do. He hesitated at the last step, knowing Lan Wangji would be sitting against the wall, scared to look up.

As soon as he saw Jiang Cheng, Lan Wangji was up, scanning behind him for his boyfriend. Waiting at least for him to make the landing, he rushed forward and wrapped Wei Wuxian in a tight, warm embrace. Wei Wuxian clung to him, finally allowing himself to cry. Lan Wangji let him sob for a minute, before raising him to his full height and staring directly into his eyes.

“This changes nothing,” he said firmly. He lightly kissed his love, before leading him over to their friends. Wei Wuxian sagged in relief. Lan Wangji had, as always, used his taciturn nature to pick the exact right words, the ones that would allow Wei Wuxian to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The others could see the lightning of Wei Wuxian’s spirits and sighed in turn. If there was any couple that could make an uneven soul bond work, it would be these two. It wouldn’t be the first time that Wei Wuxian embodied the Jiang family motto of ‘attempt the impossible’!

They made it through the rest of the day, somehow, and retreated to Lan Wangji’s house after school. Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian were having their usual shared birthday party this weekend, but tonight was going to be just for Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian. Or, at least, that had been the plan. Wei Wuxian didn’t know what the plan was now, and he hovered awkwardly in the kitchen while Lan Wangji put together their usual after school snack.

“Brother is still spending the night at Nie Mingjue’s,” he said, putting the plate of vegetables on the table in front of Wei Wuxian. “And Uncle is still away on business. We can still celebrate your birthday as we planned.”

“But, Lan Zhan, do you want to? If we’re not actually soulmates…” he trailed off. “You deserve to find your perfect match.”

Lan Wangji captured his boyfriend’s lips with his. “I love you. That is what matters. I want to do this, with you, today.”
Wei Wuxian could never resist the opportunity to kiss his boyfriend. They had been waiting and planning for this for so long. Breathless, he laughed and surrendered, climbing into Lan Wangji’s lap and scattering tiny kisses all over his face. Lan Wangji used his big hands to support the firm expanse of Wei Wuxian’s shapely ass as he stood and moved them towards his bedroom. He tipped Wei Wuxian onto the bed and climbed on top of him, their kiss deepening as their hips moved together. They were both hard, and Lan Wangji had no regrets as he fumbled open the drawer beside the bed and brought out the lube. Since they were each other's' firsts and unplanned pregnancy wasn’t exactly a worry, they had decided against condoms. Slowly, piece by piece, Lan Wangji removed Wei Wuxian’s clothes, only breaking their kiss in order to get his t-shirt over his head. Wei Wuxian was more impatient, but eventually they were both naked, practically panting with desire and ready to take their relationship to the next level. Lan Wangji grabbed the lube and slicked up his fingers, nudging Wei Wuxian over on his stomach and bringing his knees under him so his ass was accessible. Dipping his oiled finger into Wei Wuxian’s pert cheeks, he caught sight of something black just inside the cheek, not visible from the outside. Curious, knowing that his boyfriend may be messy but kept himself scrupulously clean, Lan Wangji used his hands to spread the cheeks of his boyfriend’s ass apart. There, in the same clean lines as the soulmark on Lan Wangji’s chest, absolutely undeniable, was Lan Wangji’s name.

***

Lan Wangji didn’t know what to do with this information. He and Wei Wuxian were lying in his bed, curled around each other in post-coital bliss. Well, Wei Wuxian was in post-coital bliss. Lan Wangji was a disaster. After he saw the words, he had frozen, his mind a maelstrom of conflicting thoughts. Should he tell Wei Wuxian? How, exactly, does one phrase that? Would he laugh? Could this situation be any more absurd? Feeling his boyfriend stop, Wei Wuxian had assumed that Lan Wangji froze up due to nerves, and had taken over, turning back over on his back and trading deep kisses while encouraging Lan Wangji’s lube-covered fingers to continue their ministrations. Without his name staring him in the face, Lan Wangji had been able to get back in the mood and the two celebrated Wei Wuxian’s birthday tenderly.

But now. What. Why was Wei Ying’s soulmark in the crack of his ass. This was not a reasonable place for a soulmark to be. What if Wei Wuxian did not like men, would he never know? He should have said something when he first discovered it, Wei Ying would definitely have laughed his ass off...oh god. So many ass puns. Anyway. Yes, he should have said something. Now Wei Ying was falling asleep in his arms and the opportunity was slipping away. Could he...was there a way to get Wei Ying to find his soulmark on his own? In his voicemail last night Wei Ying had insisted that he had looked everywhere, and yes, normally checking even your scalp would make you feel reasonably certain that there was no soulmark to be found. But clearly that was not true. Was there anyone he could talk to about this? Lan Wangji thought about the people in their friend group. He instantly rejected Jiang Cheng, even if he had been close to the fiery-tempered boy, there was no way that he would want to know that information about his brother. Jiang Yanli was also no good; just imagining talking about Wei Ying’s ass crack soulmark to her kind, gentle, heterosexual face made Lan Wangji cringe so hard that Wei Ying grumbled in his sleep and nestled his face more firmly into Lan Wangji’s shoulder. His brother was a possibility, but though Lan Xichen and Wei Wuxian were friendly, they weren’t close, and this seemed like maybe something that you shouldn’t tell a mere acquaintance. Wen Qing? She was planning to go to medical school and would probably be less awkward about the location, but she was also almost as tactless as Wei Ying and would probably just blurt it out in the middle of wherever they were having the conversation. Nie Huaisang? Hm. Lan Wangji knew the younger Nie brother could keep a secret, and he could be very inventive when he needed to be...yes. Lan Wangji would speak to Nie Huaisang. With that decided, Lan Wangji put the whole situation out of his mind and kissed Wei Ying on his ear. Surely he wasn’t too sleepy for another round?

***

The next day Lan Wangji strongarmed Nie Huaisang into coming over after school to prepare for their upcoming calculus test. He texted his brother to make sure they would have the house to themselves for at least a couple hours, and as soon as the two had toed off their shoes and made their way into the living room, Lan Wangji turned to Nie Huaisang and told him.

“Wei Wuxian’s soulmark is in the crack of his ass. It is my name.”

Nie Huaisang gaped. Lan Wangji reflected for a second that he had never actually seen anyone make that face in real life.

“I did not tell Wei Wuxian this information when I discovered it, and now I am at a loss. Please help me.”

“You want me...to...wait, what do you want me to do, here, exactly?” Nie Huaisang asked.

“Wei Wuxian is under the impression that he inspected every part of his body and did not find his soulmark,” Lan Wangji explained. “I need your help to find a way to convince him to check...actually...everywhere.”

If it was any other person on earth that would have been delivered with a full body flail, but Lan Wangji managed to give the impression of flailing while still maintaining his elegant posture.

“O..k,” Nie Huaisang said slowly. “Sure! We can do this! Other people have surely had their soulmarks in weird places, right? Like...I don’t know. Armpits? Pubes? Between their toes? Have you done any research on this?”

“I googled ‘my boyfriend’s ass crack soulmark’,” Lan Wangji said dryly, “but those results were horrifying.”

“...were there actually results for that search? Wait, no, nevermind. Not the point. I meant, did you search to see if there were stories about people having soulmarks in weird places? If nothing else, this seems like a good idea for a listicle, like on Buzzfeed or something.”

When Lan Wangji shook his head, Nie Huaisang brought out his laptop and did a quick search. There didn’t appear to be any compilation of results, mostly just threads on places like Reddit. Lan Wangji agreed that a listicle was a good idea, considering Wei Wuxian’s general attention span (or lack thereof) and general feelings about soulmarks right now. Knowing that the school newspaper was always desperate for content, Nie Huaisang was sure he could convince the editor to let him put in a “10 things” list in time for next week’s edition. The two combed the various threads they found and made up a person to have the ass crack one until they had ten.

Lan Wangji was so relieved that he didn’t even make Nie Huaisang study for their test, but did force him to promise not to tell anyone, even Jiang Cheng, under threat of telling Nie Mingjue that he had been caught drinking the previous weekend.

***

“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, did you see Nie Huaisang’s latest contribution to journalistic excellence?” Wei Wuxian waved his copy of the school paper at Lan Wangji as he joined them in the cafeteria the following Friday. While still melancholy sometimes, Wei Wuxian had seemingly recovered his good spirits. “Did you know that there was one guy who got his soulmark on the inside of his ear?! I tried to get Jiang Cheng to check my ear but he just punched me and went to rugby practice.”

Lan Wangji made a show of inspecting the inside of Wei Wuxian’s ear before kissing him and sitting down. “You do not have a soulmark inside your ear,” he said, catching Wei Wuxian’s face falling before pulling the paper over to himself. “Where else have people found their marks?”

“Well, this says that the most common is above your heart, like yours,” Wei Wuxian says, “but people have also found them in their arm- and kneepits, pubic hair and in between their fingers. This one guy says his was on the whites of his eyes, but it’s sourced to Reddit, so I’m pretty sure that one was just made up.”

Lan Wangji didn’t remember having someone whose soulmark had shown up on their sclera, and he pulled the paper closer to investigate. Sure enough, that one had replaced the (granted, also made up) ass crack location. He lifted his head and made eye contact with Nie Huaisang, who made his patented “I don’t know! I don’t know!” flailing before turning back to his conversation with Wen Ning. A second later, Lan Wangji’s phone buzzed with a text message.

Nie Huaisang: My editor refused to let me put ‘ass crack’ in the school paper! He said the principal specifically included it in a list of forbidden words!

“Where do you think the soulmarks come from? Like, who decides what the mark should be? Is this evidence for god?” Wei Wuxian mused. “Aside from us dating for forever, I really did think that a fractal lotus was incredibly obvious for me. I’m so clueless sometimes, I thought mine would be something literal like your name, though, Lan Zhan!”

Lan Wangji blanched, a sudden mental image of Wei Wuxian’s ass crack appearing clear as day. Well...he wasn’t wrong?

“I would’ve liked to have your name over my heart,” Wei Wuxian continued, nuzzling into Lan Wangji’s neck and sounding mournful.

“Are you sure you’ve checked everywhere, Wei Wuxian? Maybe you should, like, go to a doctor?” Nie Huaisang said loudly.

“A doctor? Are you looking for more entries for your list? ‘My soulmark appeared on my liver!’” Wei Wuxian joked, though his heart was clearly not in it.

“No,” Nie Huaisang said, a bit desperately. “But doctors look at places that we don’t, always. Like...what about a proctologist? When was the last time you looked at your butt!”

Lan Wangji glared at Nie Huaisang.

“Ah haha, if there was something going on with my butt Lan Zhan would be sure to tell me!” Wei Wuxian waggled his eyebrows suggestively, just in time for Jiang Cheng’s horrified arrival at the lunch table.

“We. Are. Eating. Lunch. You. Disgusting. Miscreant!” he yelled, punctuating each word with a hit from a rolled up copy of the school newspaper.

Me: It was a good effort

***

As the weeks passed, it became more and more difficult to not tell Wei Wuxian about his soulmark. Everytime they had sex, Lan Wangji got so close. But he was never able to find the words, and at this point Wei Wuxian would probably be more angry about Lan Wangji not telling then embarrassed about the location of his soulmark. Nie Huaisang’s suggestions got more and more absurd, but they never actually worked. Wei Wuxian had run naked through the hall of mirrors at the state fair, but he refused to shave his ass, and Lan Wangji actually had to defend the decision since his boyfriend didn’t have much hair there. He refused to become a cam boy, because Lan Wangji, for all that he was an amazing boyfriend, had a jealous streak a mile wide and Wei Wuxian didn’t want to lose him over something stupid.

Lan Wangji actually thought the cam boy idea was pretty good, since it seemed pretty likely that his attractive boyfriend would draw a crowd, at least one of whom would be sure to point out the soulmark, but there was no way to encourage Wei Wuxian to bare his ass to a bunch of strangers on the internet without him thinking that Lan Wangji had been abducted by aliens.

Winter break came, and the Jiangs (plus Wei Wuxian) went on their annual trip to spend Christmas with Madame Yu’s family in the mountains. While he missed his boyfriend, Lan Wangji was actually a little relieved to have some time apart. Maybe now he would be able to think of a way to tell Wei Wuxian about his soulmark. To his surprise, that evening his phone buzzed with a message.

Wei Ying: Hey, guess who finally joined the 21st century!
Me: Wow, the Yus have wifi now?
Wei Ying: Yeah, finally! Madame Yu’s niece or something took charge and did all the work for them lol
Wei Ying: Now I can send you dirty pictures all holiday!

The next message to come through was, as predicted, a picture of Wei Ying, on his back, completely naked, legs spread. He was halfway through what was probably supposed to be a seductive look and a look of concentration - Lan Wangji surmised that he had set the timer on his phone and not been able to get in position quite in time.

Wait. This. This was brilliant! Wei Ying was basically an exhibitionist already (hence the naked streaking and the cam boy ideas). Maybe with a little encouragement he would take a picture that would allow him to see the soulmark himself! No awkward conversation needed! Why hadn’t he thought of this before?! But. Would this require...sexting...on Lan Wangji’s part?

Lan Wangji steeled himself. For this, for his boyfriend to finally become aware that he not only had a soulmark but that it was Lan Wangji’s name, to give him the security to know that Lan Wangji was never going to leave him for another. For this. He would sext.

Me: That’s hot, baby
Wei Ying: Lan Zhan? Did someone steal your phone? Don’t let Nie Huaisang see my dirty pics!
Me: No, it is me. I am trying something new.
Me: I miss you.
Me: Show me something sexy
Wei Ying: Uhhhh like what? This is weird now!
Me: Do cat/cow
Wei Ying: Cat cow? The yoga thing? With the arched back?
Me: Yes. But make it sexy.

A few minutes go by and Lan Wangji retreats to his bedroom, closing and locking the door behind him. This was no time for his meddling brother, newly arrived home from college across the country, to decide to ask how his relationship was going. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian have actually never exchanged erotic text messages, since they were able to see each other every day at school there was never really the need.

“What is the sexiest way to ask Wei Ying to spread his asscheeks for me,” Lan Wangji mumbled to himself. “Is this what my life has come to?”

The next time his phone buzzed, Lan Wangji unlocked it to a surprisingly artistic shot of Wei Wuxian on all fours, his long, lithe body curved in the middle, head thrown back and ass in the air. The only problem was that it had been shot from the side. Lan Wangji was going to have to say it.

Me: That is very artistic, Wei Ying
Me: But I want to see your ass.
Wei Ying: is typing
Wei Ying: is typing
Wei Ying: is typing

It isn’t that Lan Wangji doesn’t understand how confused Wei Ying probably is right now, but he does want to encourage him to end up in a position that enables him to see his soul mark.

Me: I want to be able to pretend you are in my bed.
Wei Ying: is typing
Wei Ying: Are you sure this isn’t Nie Huaisang?
Me: I am sure.
Wei Ying: ooooookaaaaaaaaay

A few more minutes go by before Lan Wangji’s phone buzzes again. This time the view is from behind, and while it is slightly less flattering a view, it is closer to the ultimate goal. Now. How can Lan Wangji ask Wei Ying to spread his cheeks.

“The only way out is through,” he declares, out loud, to his bedroom.

Me: Spread your cheeks for me.

This time there is no response, not even the “is typing” from his boyfriend. Should Lan Wangji say it again? Sometimes Wei Ying has liked it when he takes charge in bed, perhaps this was one of those times.

Me: Wei Ying.
Me: I want to see you.
Wei Ying: Aiyaaaaaaaaaaa Lan Zhan im so embarrassed!!!
Wei Ying: Im not even looking at these. Im picking the first one, sending it and deleting it from my phone.

The picture that comes through is actually perfect. Lan Wangji can barely see Wei Ying’s head in the background, buried under his pillow. His neck and the top of his back are flushed a deep red and Lan Wangji feels a little impressed that he has found something that will so embarrass his shameless boyfriend. However, his embarrassment is less important than the view of Wei Ying’s ass in the foreground. He has spread one cheek, fortunately the cheek with the soulmark, but his hand is in the wrong place on the other cheek, so Wei Ying’s private private parts are hidden. The soulmark is clearly in view however, LAN ZHAN in block letters, readable from a distance.

Success! Now, all Lan Wangji has to do is wait for Wei Ying to look at the picture, see his name and everything will be right in the world.

...waiting for Wei Ying to respond.

Wei Ying wasn’t serious about not looking at the picture, was he?

Apparently he was.

With a huff, Lan Wangji makes an executive decision. He pulls up Nie Huaisang’s contact and texts him, “I am throwing you under the bus, play along” and waits to receive a “?!?!?!?!?! I don’t know, what?!” message back before switching to their friend group chat, copying the picture of Wei Ying’s ass, pasting it and pressing send.

Me: image
Me: Wei Wuxian, you do have a soulmark!
Jiang Cheng: is typing
Wen Ning: is typing
Wei Wuxian: is typing
Me: NIE HUAISANG HOW DARE YOU
Nie Huaisang: is typing

Before anyone can finish typing anything in the group chat, Lan Wangji’s phone rings.

“LAN ZHAN I HAVE A SOULMARK! AND IT’S YOUR NAME!” he hears Wei Ying’s voice over what sounds like Jiang Cheng screaming his brother’s name, then a crash and thumping footsteps, then a slamming door and Wei Ying, breathing heavily and saying Lan Wangji’s name over and over.

“It appears so,” Lan Wangji says calmly.

“I can’t believe you didn’t know! Are you that modest?! How did you prep me all those times without actually looking at my butt?!”

That...was not the response Lan Wangji expected. Anger, indignation, perhaps offense. Did Wei Ying think he was a prude or something?

“I, uh,” Lan Wangji struggled to think of something to say. “I was distracted?” He was gratified to hear Wei Ying’s ringing laugh, and then something slamming against the door. It sounds like Wei Ying drops his phone and all Lan Wangji hears is Wei Ying laughing and saying “I love you!” before the call drops.

Wen Ning: Congratulations, Wei Wuxian!