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dizzy on the comedown

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hospitals are a scary place, for lan sizhui.



he distinctly remembers the smell of latex gloves, the horrid plastic smell that reeked of antibiotic medicine and sterile clean tile floors of the hospital. he doesn't know why they don't spray a little more calming scent, like, sandalwood or citrus juice, or something. he remembers being around 5, when he caught a terrible fever, head pounding and sweat dripping off his forehead, as the pair of strong firm arms that ushered him into the bright-blinding white room with lights blaring down at him, making him wince. those same arms he called 'home', that were suddenly ripped apart from his embrace as he was being handled delicately on the uncomfortable stiff bed of the hospital room. 



he remembers a familiar voice that he hears was usually so stoic and cold, now desperate and raw with emotion, of concern. 



then, he feels a faint sharp prick on the skin of his elbow, before he blacks out, and the rest is history.



so, hospitals.



add that combination with a nervous sick sizhui, and know that they do not get along. 



but he's grown up now, and yet his fear of hospitals do not diminish. he does not learn to not flinch whenever a doctor does more than just check his temperature and stick that horrible cold popsticle stick down his throat, as if they wanted to test if he had a gag reflex and would spit at the doctor's face or not. 



but he's learned to keep his fear bottled up inside of him, thrown in some unknown empty jar and chucked into the deepest darkest corner of the room, so he can ignore. the doctors were just doing their job, lan sizhui would repeatedly tell himself, as he warily eyes the multiple objects laid upon the doctor's desk like they were preparing surgery on him and not for a monthly health check-up. doctors were supposed to help your health get better, not worsen it. but he can't help but feel this dreading fear creep up on him everytime he turns his back, his mind traitorously giving him frightening scenarios of the doctor suddenly stabbing his back with a syringe whenever he wasn't looking, or something. 



he suddenly feels like as if he were 5 all over again, whenever he enters the doctor's office, no thoughts, head empty as the overwhelming powering stench of bleach hit his nose. and it did not help his jittery feelings whenever the doctors would occassionaly turn towards him and give him a reassuring smile. he does not know why, but the intention behind those smiles doctors gave him was not reassuring at all, if only, it made his nerves go absolutely haywire. although, some little things do help calm him down, like whenever the treatement is done and lan sizhui can bolt out of there and not come back for another month, and whenever the doctor gives him a little treat, because he does have a sweet tooth, after all. and little things, like whenever his adoptive parents, who took him in and nursed him back to full health and gave him a second chance at life, held his hand gingerly, with all the love and patience and care in their eyes. 



the second, most skittish feeling he always felt had the urge to go flight-or-fight mode, was whenever he was around a boy named lan jingyi.



it made him feel restless, unable to keep his leg bouncing a hundred miles per second to stay goddamn still. seeing the other boy who lights up his world so delightfully like the first ray of sun beams at 5am in the morning, the other's smile that makes his heart skip a beat and makes the world revolve around it, and it amazes lan sizhui how simple lan jingyi can just exist, like that, making himself melt like a mushy ice-cream gone warm underneath the sun's blazing heat, butterflies errupting like lava from a flowing volcanoe.



he thinks it is all just a crush, after all, is what lan sizhui thinks when one day on their freshman year of highschool, as the afternoon light of the sun shyly shines down on lan jingyi's hair, casting his form into an angelic hue, halo drifting above his head, as they were walking from school, a long day of school and exams laid aside as side by side, they walked down an empty sidewalk, hands swinging slightly, skin almost brushing against each other and breaths and scents mixing in with one another.



and that's when lan jingyi laughs at some stupid joke lan sizhui probably doesn't even remember making, as his whole world turns a full 180. 



lan jingyi's laugh and smile is unique. it's not like any other, and lan sizhui loves the other for it. when lan jingyi smiles, he smiles like he means it. there is no mask of fake genuine or emotions, when he smiles, lan sizhui thinks it possible for the flowers in first winter to bloom back to life as if it were the first day of spring, the snow melting off of the petals as the warmth of lan jingyi's lips curl into a grin, teeth showing into an eye-blinding smile. 



oh, and when he laughs. lan sizhui absolutely loves, lan jingyi's laugh. he's pretty sure it's one of the main reasons he fell head-over-heels in love for him in the first place. 



when lan jingyi laughs, he laughs with his whole body, head thrown back as giggles like soft bell chimes errupted out of his smaller tiny body, hands coming around to clutch his sides and if lan jingyi would let him, lan sizhui would definitely love, without hesitance, to wrap his arms around the other's waist to help steady his posture whenever he laughs. 



so, lan jingyi.



add that combination with a nervous, smitten-in-love sizhui, and know that they fit together, like they belong with each other. when one is not around, the other waits for him. like the ocean's tidal waves that rose and fell with the moon's lulling pull of gravity, the two of them co-exsist with each other, revolving around one another, like time slows for just the two of them and people do not exist, when they're together. 



lan jingyi is loud, and is known to be the most un-lan that has ever lan'd in the history of the lans. lan jingyi, is also known to be the most un-lan to ever lan that has ever landed only in lan sizhui's eyes. people think lan jingyi is disrespectful, and lan sizhui thinks that no, lan jingyi is just speaking his mind. and when people fault lan jingyi and give him punishments, lan sizhui can only think of how bold and selfless lan jingyi puts his position in, ignoring his status, and his family name, to stand up for himself.



lan jingyi, in lan sizhui's eyes, is completely different from what people think. 



"lan jingyi never knows when to keep his mouth shut," lan sizhui hears one day, on a bright thursday afternoon in freshman year, two years ago, from beside him, as a familiar flurry of hazelnut brown hair tied into a long high ponytail swishes past his face. 



"what has gotten between you two now again?" lan sizhui asks, not unkindly, ears already preparing for the long rant jin ling was about to give him. 



"idiot," jin ling spits, tone full with venom, as he stands leaning against the wall, next to where lan sizhui was sitting on a stone bench, giving them a clear view of the school's grass field and the current baseball players whose shirts were damped with sweat. jin ling continues, still seemingly not having enough and never calling it quits as he goes on to rant about lan jingyi. "started going off how my hair looks like a bird's nest, can you believe him? the audacity."



"hm," lan sizhui only says, eyes trained on lan jingyi's sweaty figure across the school field, where he was wearing a blue cap, hair tied into a small little high ponytail, swinging back and forth as multiple strands of golden-brown shined against the sun. the faint echoes of the ball thwacking across a wooden bat drowned out jin ling's voice, as if he dunked his head underwater, watching as lan jingyi took each stride and swung the bat with that powerful upper arm lan strength, sending the ball flying high into the air, along with lan sizhui's heart as well.



lan sizhui was absolutely not drooling. 



"—and have you even seen what his hair looks like? swept like a mess after a massacre like a tornado and— hey, lan sizhui! are you even listening?" jin ling's voice was like a bucket of ice water pouring over him as he jolts out of his love-sick gaze, unconsciously wiping the imaginary drool he thought he felt pooling out of the corner of his lips. 



"what?" he asks, a bit too dumbly.



jin ling just rolls his eyes, a habit he developed over the years since high school started. it's puberty, lan sizhui's father, wei wuxian, once said, scoffing, although his eyes radiated fond warmth. "you've been staring at that fool, lan jingyi with that gross look on your face, what's gotten into you?" jin ling asks.



"nothing," lan sizhui lies, and he feels like he may not be a good liar after all, as he sees jin ling raise an unimpressed eyebrow. 



"you like him." jin ling says, and lan sizhui sputters, cheeks heating a flaming red.



"as a friend, of course!" he yells, in his most non-aggressive-soft voice, trying to push down the horrible feeling that was punched into his gut, denying his feelings for lan jingyi, as if. 



"then tell me why you've been staring at lan jingyi every chance you get, drooling like a caveman with foam at the mouth, and offering to buy him chicken wings every time you two manage to eat out together after school, only to stare at him with love-eyes and blush like a maiden whenever lan jingyi smiles at you." 



"that's not— how did you even know about that?" lan sizhui asks, feeling like he was going to melt into a puddle and disappear from utter sheer embarrassment. was he that obvious? if so, when did jin ling know? does lan jingyi know? 



"it's pretty obvious," jin ling says, and lan sizhui fights the urge to slam his head against the school's brick wall. then, "the idiot doesn't know, by the way, you two practically share one braincell." jin ling continues, seemingly able to hear lan sizhui's loud thoughts inside his head. 



"i don't like him," lan sizhui profusely denies, though his thumping heart says otherwise. "not— not like that." he says, a bit more quietly. 



"you love him." jin ling prompts, and lan sizhui's brain flies out of the window. 



"look," jin ling sighs, exasperated. "you're an idiot, congrats, i've helped you realise your feelings for another idiot. confess your feelings to him soon, it kills me inside to see you stare like lan jingyi is the only person in your eyes. what's the point in me ranting to you when you're not listening to me and looking like some dumb-in-love character from those cliche rom-com movies." 



"i—" lan sizhui begins, swallowing a weight heavier than the mass of earth itself. "i'll tell him someday." he finally says, ignoring the rational part of his mind that darkly whispered, yeah, the day you'll confess to him is when you take that confession to your grave



"hm," jin ling hums, apparently satisfied with lan sizhui's answer, though not sparing any lack of sympathy or encouragement, just merely raising a suspicious eyebrow. "i gotta go," he finally says, back coming off from the wall he was leaning against earlier.



"finding another new wall to lean on and stalkishly watch everybody and keeping up the 'acting cool' phase in order to impress everyone and assert dominance?" lan sizhui teases, managing to re-collect himself from that mental breakdown a few seconds ago. 



"shut up." jin ling seethes, smacking the side of lan jingyi's arm as a warning, before he stomps off, hands digging into the pockets of his beige cardigan jacket that probably costed more than lan sizhui's entire monthly allowances. (not that he was poor or struggling in finances, or anything. it's just that, he was a lan after all, and briefly browsing through the 3000 rules of his ancient gusu ancestors, spending money too freely was probably against one of them, lan sizhui was pretty sure.) 



lan sizhui watches as jin ling rounds the corner, before he lets out a small sigh through his nose, eyes glancing back up to see the light of his life jogging up at him, eyes bright and wild as they shone and reflected the afternoon light that was glowing in his irises. 



"sizhui!" lan jingyi yells out, and oh, does that do things to lan sizhui's poor fragile heart. 



"jingyi," lan sizhui returns, eyes already turning fond and a smile already dancing on his lips. "you did well today." he says, reaching out for a cold water bottle that somehow magically materialised out of thin air, handing it to lan jingyi who gratefully took it, placing the cold surface of the plastic bottle against his flushed pinked cheeks. 



"ah, you're just saying that." lan jingyi mumbles, pink lips jutting out into a soft pout and lan sizhui has to calm down the urge to have tears streaming down his face as he grabs multiple lightsticks and yells lan jingyi's name out loud enough for the whole entire school field to hear. 



"i'm telling the truth," lan sizhui insists, brows furrowing. "you can take a compliment, jingyi. i saw you and although i don't play baseball, i know you played well." lan jingyi may be loud and determined at times, confident and cocky, but somehow lan sizhui notices that the other sometimes lacks confidence in himself, and so he's there to make the other stand tall, acting as a pillar behind lan jingyi, ready to support him whenever. 



lan sizhui doesn't know if it's the heat or if it's from lan jingyi running from half across the school field to see him after practicing playing baseball for an hour and a half, or if it's the praise tumbling from lan sizhui's lips, but he notices that the shorter lan's cheeks seemed to have pinked even brighter, turning into a lovely rosey color. 



and oh, lan sizhui realises, head feeling a little too light-headed, body somehow feeling disconnected from the ground as he feels being lifted high into the cotton clouds that were sprawled across the afternoon sky above him. he's in love with lan jingyi, he thinks, watching as said person pursed his lips, gnawing the bottom plush flesh raw, tinted a bit red, short ponytail messed up to paint an abstract painting of him that lan sizhui wants to so badly hang upon his wall. 



he is in love with the boy in front of him whose laugh put wind chimes to shame, who stole stars in the night sky and held them in his own eyes. lan sizhui is in love, and most likely has been for quite some time now, as he falls for the boy who has stayed by his side when he was once alone, with no reputation or with no family to call home comfortably. lan jingyi has stayed by his side for a long time now, and with a selfish dreading feeling crawling up lan sizhui's throat, he swallows, and thinks. 



he does not want lan jingyi to leave. not now, not ever. lan jingyi is his sun, and lan sizhui is simply a small radish, (as his father once jokingly said, planting him into the ground when he was a young kid.) who preens underneath the attention beams of the bright star in the morning sky. lan jingyi dances and twirls with a smile brighter than the milky way, eyes drawing up into little small crescents as he happily laughs, without a care in the world, and lan sizhui feels guilty, for having these heavy feelings he will eventually have to let loose one day. he does not want to burden lan jingyi with these silly feelings, and so, with a heavy heart, lan sizhui decides, he shall keep his feelings hidden, for the sake of the other who seems to always smile so carefree.



lan sizhui wants lan jingyi to keep smiling, and with another selfish thought, he thinks, he wants lan jingyi to keep smiling because of him, and not for anyone else. 



lan jingyi's smile is for him, and him only. and lan sizhui will return the same price and have eyes, eyes for lan jingyi only. 




________. ꒰ 🌸 ꒱ .________



for two years and practically almost his whole life, if lan sizhui were to be dramatic, he thinks he has been doing quite a good job so far, from keeping his feelings locked away, hidden from lan jingyi's acknowledgement. things still remained the same, as they walked from and back to school almost every day, unless something came up, like an emergency, or the other was home having to do some important family business, or was sick. they kept eating lunch together, lan sizhui occassionally asking his father if he could possibly sneak in some fried chicken in his lunch box, despite knowing that lans mostly eat greens and try to stay as far away as possible, from anything remotely unhealthy and full of grease and carbs. it was for his friend, lan jingyi, lan sizhui would say, and his fathers would only glance at each other with an amusing glint in their eyes, as they silently complied to lan sizhui's little request that was sure to make lan jingyi beam with delight, as he opens his lunchbox one day, dropping pieces of fried chicken onto lan jingyi's own lunchbox. 



"aren't you eating?" lan jingyi would ask one day, mouth full of rice and chicken meat, and lan sizhui surpresses the urge to gently chide the other with the infamous no speech while dining rule. 



"i'm not that hungry," lan sizhui would say, after gently wiping his mouth with a napkin, swallowing the remains of his carrots down his throat, before continuing, "so eat well for the both of us, okay?" and lan jingyi would beam like a shining star, and as usual, lan sizhui would be lost in the other's eye-blinding smile. 



but, his plans to keep his feelings hidden until he takes them to his grave, suddenly change, as one day, he feels a sharp prick of pain in the farthest back corner of his right lower jaw, near the back row of his grown adult teeth, as he stares perplexed at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror, having flossed his teeth extra squeaky clean, spitting out the remains of minty toothpaste and gurgling down water down the sink. so, lan sizhui could only shrug, thinking it possibly could have been from him flossing his teeth and accidentally hitting his gum somehow, as he shuts off the bathroom light and heads to bed at 9pm, the usual night-time routine for sleep, as recited by the gusu families rules. 



it's only until when the pain starts growing and so does the panic bubbling in lan sizhui's stomach, as one day, jin ling points out the obvious.



"hey, sizhui, did you stuff your right cheek with nuts or something? you look like a chipmunk." 



and so, embarrassed, he goes to his parents for help. because, if he doesn't, they're bound to worm in his life and find out eventually one day, and it's not like lan sizhui dislikes the thought of it or anything, he loves the attention he gets from his parents, even when sometimes he prefers to be kept in private with his thoughts. his parents are loving, kind, patient, and may or may not have scarred his eyes that one time when he accidentally got up to drink a glass of water in the middle of the night and heard the bed creaking and sounds of late night love-making from his parents, making him duck under the sheets of his bed and scream into his pillow, face flushing a bright red. 



"dad, father," he adresses one day at 6pm in the evening, when they were all settled down in the kitchen to eat supper.



"a-yuan," lan sizhui's dad, wei wuxian, begins, right when lan sizhui was going to continue. "if you're going to come out of the closet for being homosexual, there's no need to worry." 



lan sizhui sputters, face heating a flaming red as he distinctly hears wei wuxian laugh, and his father, lan wangji, gently scolding his husband with a soft "wei ying." that had no heat to it.



"alright, alright." wei wuxian says, raising his chopsticks to point at lan sizhui's face. "you've been tip-toeing around your crush for a while now, don't think i've noticed. but i get the feeling that you're not here to talk about that." —a stuff of tofu into his mouth—, "so, what's wrong?" 



lan sizhui takes a while to let things proccess in his head. his dad, seemingly having to notice his feelings about lan jingyi, just like jin ling two years ago. the both of them still get endless loads of fun from teasing lan sizhui about his little crush, and he wishes that he didn't wear his heart on his sleeve all the time, his emotions laid out on a picnic blanket for people's eyes to feast upon, to prode, poke and tease him about it. 



he is, sensitive about his emotions, after all. or maybe he's just generally sensitive to lan jingyi. 



"i— um," he says, all previous thoughts vanishing from his head as he takes his time to calm down, not missing the way he feels his fathers heavy yet patient gazes trained on him. "my teeth, hurt." 



"ah." lan wangji says. then, "please excuse me, continue eating, i will be back shortly." and gets up and just leaves, like that. 



and so lan sizhui is left alone at the mercy of his dad, wei wuxian, who somehow is grinning like a cheshire cat, and lan sizhui knows that look way too well. it's the look wei wuxian makes when he gets a terrible mischevious idea, and oh no, he thinks. 



"don't worry about your father too much," wei wuxian waves, gesturing over towards lan wangji whose figure is hidden behind the corner of the wall in the darkest abyss of their long hallway leading towards the bedrooms and bathrooms. "he's probably just booking an appointment with the local orthodontist to get your teeth checked up. say, you have been brushing your teeth, right?" 



"of course i have!" lan sizhui immediately rebuts, his former lan principles vanishing in thin air and then for a brief second, it hits him once he realises what rule he has broken. then, in a quieter voice, he mumbles sheepishly, "i'm sorry for raising my voice." 



but wei wuxian merely bats an eye at it, still smiling cheerfully. "no worries, a-yuan. it's just you and me. you've got some wei blood in you after all, i was just checking since you've seemed to stuffy and up-tight i didn't even recognize you since you practically blended in with the lans." 



"is that," lan sizhui hesitates. "a bad thing?" 



wei wuxian blinks. "of course not! ah, i may have worded that phrase a bit correctly," he adds, mumbling to himself. "what i'm trying to say is, a-yuan, do not become clouded in your senses that you need to be a lan, nor do you need to be a wei. just remember who you are. whether it's wen-yuan, wei-yuan, or lan-yuan. i don't want you to lose yourself trying to become someone else, just because it's what you think people expect of you." 



"..ah." lan sizhui says, stunned.



"ai-yah, you've got me side-tracked again," wei wuxian says, playful demeanour returning. "anyways, have you made any progress with this little crush of yours? a little birdie told me—" 



"wei ying," lan wangji's voice echoes softly, his figure suddenly materialising out of thin air, and immediately, wei wuxian is quick to close his mouth. then, turning towards lan sizhui. "i've scheduled an appointment with the lan's dental care for tomorrow right after your school ends. the pain in your right lower jaw is most likely caused by your wisdom tooth growing out in an incorrect way, therefore it will need removal, based on what the dentist had said when he re-studied the x-rays of your teeth structure a few months ago." and there's a dreading crawling shiver resonating through lan sizhui's spine.



"removal?" he meekly whispers. "tomorrow?" 



"ah, lan zhan, lan zhan, don't scare the poor kid too much. it's just a tooth after all!" wei wuxian says, trying to coax out the endless visions in lan sizhui's mind of saws and blood and dentists with green surgical gloves with masks on, breathing heavily down on him, wearing glasses that beamed against the reflection of the light that was shining bright into his eyes as he lays on the dentist's chair, head next to multiple torture devices as they pry his mouth open, and—



"don't worry about it, a-yuan." wei wuxian continues. "it won't hurt at all. not that me and lan zhan will let those dentists hurt you, anyways." 



an odd warmth blooms in his chest as he hears his dad's comforting words. "thank you." he says, because it's impolite to ignore other's attempts to reassure you, some 2000-ish rule in the gusu books, if lan sizhui can recall. 



"if you'd like, i can give you a ride to the dentist and keep you company? or maybe lan zhan will be able to, or do you want both of us there?" wei wuxian offers, gentle smile radiating in the warmth of his eyes.



"you both won't be too busy?" lan sizhui asks, nervously gnawing his bottom lip, a bad habit he developed while totally not watching lan jingyi for more than 10 seconds as he watches the other toy with his lip, tinting it a bright kissable red. anyways. he still admits that he has an uncontrollable fear of the doctors, even dentists at this point. honestly, dentists might be even more scarier, making lan sizhui's nerves go haywire whenever the dentist does more than just floss his teeth, and they're always so aggressive about it, like they're going to slice his gums in half while doing so.



"sizhui," now it's lan wangji's turn to say. "if you want us to reassure your worries, there's no need to feel guilty in asking us." he says, face stone-hard straight, though his eyes were a concerning warmth, like embers of the fire licking into his irises, painting them a molten glowing golden. 



"i mean," lan sizhui awkwardly laughs, though his heart is blooming into the first petals of life at both of his fathers kind words. "i'm already in high school, are you guys still going to keep holding my hand when i just need a quick check-up in the hospital?" 



"a-yuan, my radish, you know there's nothing wrong with that." wei wuxian says. then, "did someone tease you about it? just say the name and i'll hang their underwear inside-out on the top of a pole for everyone to see. that'll be real embarrassment." he finishes, crossing his arms together in absolute defiance.



"wei ying," lan wangji says, and not to be rude or anything like that, (since it's most likely against one of the 3000 gusu rules lan sizhui recites daily, everytime he needs to calm down whenever lan jingyi is near his 5 foot gay-panicking radius, and when he goes to sleep.) but the amount of times his fathers say each other's names like a prayer is probably higher than their collective braincell count. 



lan sizhui still loves them for it.



"lan zhan," wei wuxian replies, eyes narrowing. "you would've done the exact same thing, except slightly more subtler and kinder, but regardless, you'd do whatever you need to do to save your son some face." and lan wangji goes dead silent, while lan sizhui's face heats up once again, so he resorts to stuffing his face with more rice as he hears the words 'your son' , those two words that have never failed to bring a smile upon his face. 



lan wangji remains silent, as if he's not objecting, so wei wuxian takes it as a sign to continue. "or if you'd feel more comfortable, i could ring wen ning or uncle xichen for you?" he asks, and that just makes lan sizhui squirm in his seat even more. 



"what if they're busy?" he asks.



"you know even if they are, they'll always make time for you." wei wuxian says, softly, hands reaching out across the table, ignoring all dinner manners as calloused warm fingers intertwined with lan sizhui's own. "they're family." 



"although," wei wuxian mumbles, deep in thought as he pulls back from the embrace. "i'd feel like wen ning might be more free, since i'd have to ask lan xichen his schedule. you know fridays are wen ning's off-days. i can give him a call? or would you like to do it yourself?" 



"i'm fine." lan sizhui says, politely, standing up from the table and collecting his dishes, depositing them in the sink and rinsing the remains of sauce from his bowl with water. "i think, i might feel a bit more comfortable with uncle wen, since we share a bit of our ancestor's blood and all." 



wei wuxian nods, apparently satisfied with the answers. "alright, i'll ring him up and tell him about it." standing up as well, he pops one last tofu into his mouth as he chews. "and you." he says, eyes narrowing at lan sizhui. "don't spend all night worrying about nothing. it's not going to hurt, i promise, you won't feel a thing, despite it seeming scary and all. it's what the dentists want you to think so they'll save the time and effort with patients being more willing and quiet from fear." 



"so you're saying i should talk while they examine my mouth and be loud?" lan sizhui asks.



"exactly!" wei wuxian exclaims, the same moment lan wangji butts in to say, "don't listen to your dad."



"lan zhan!" an exasperated shout could be heard as lan sizhui shakes his head in amusement, eyes glowing fond as he quietly slips away into his room, fumbling for the light switch in the middle of the darkness, as he flicks it on, a warm earthy yellow light illuminating his room. right. okay. try not to panic about tomorrow. 



he glances at the clock. 


7:20 pm.



well, he might as well finish the remaining leftovers of his homework, dunking his head in the pages of his chemistry textbook, trying to absorb the material through osmosis, a thing wei wuxian always told him, as a study hack, or whatever that was. his eyes scan over the elements of the periodic table, before his gaze pinned onto the element of silver, AG. 



and then suddenly, his mind flickers to thoughts of metal hooks, silver scalpels, glinting dangerously in the light, reflecting the mirror of fear in lan sizhui's eyes as they approached closer, and closer— 



he shakes his head, groaning as he shuts his textbook in defeat, letting his fear get the best out of him, and so he pulls out his guqin, fingers gently caressing the fine tuned strings, engraved patterns of the famous swirling clouds of gusu lan imprinted on the fine white jade. but just as the second he does so, his mind, like the traitor that it is, goes behind his back and suddenly the thought of his guqin strings seem oddly familiar to him, like the minty dental floss the dentists would use to clean the deep corners of his teeth, sliding in and out and oh so dangerously almost hitting his gums, and if he bit his tongue hard enough, he might be able to taste the horrid metallic taste of his own blood—



muffling his frustrated yelling into a pillow on his bed, he takes out his phone, silicone white bunny ears as a case accessory, yunmeng's protection silver bell hanging from it as a cute lucky charm, a gift from his dad, wei wuxian himself. the calamity bell, as he remembers. the rings of chimes that are used to soothe one's worries and bring one's conscious clear. 



perhaps one way to chase away the dreading thought of going to the dentist tomorrow, was to fight fire with fire.



and by that, it means he swipes against his phone screen to unlock the device, going to his messages and clicking on the pinned messages from his most frequent texted user's icon. right. fight fire with fire by using another not so dreading thought that always somehow wormed into his mind to combat his fear for tomorrow. he thinks he might be able to succeed, after all. there's practically almost nothing that can beat this thought, even the thought of going to the dentist.



sizhui (7:46 pm)

jingyi? are you free right now?



jingyi ♡ (7:48 pm)

sizhui !! yea whats up ?? ヾ(^∇^)



sizhui (7:48 pm)

ah, nothing much. i'm not bothering you or anything, am i?



jingyi ♡ (7:49pm)

ok what is it. spit it out. 



sizhui (7:49 pm)

what do you mean ?



jingyi ♡ (7:52pm)

sizhui it's pretty obvious smth's bothering u

i can tell since ur using proper grammar

in which

you don't really care for in the first place

so something's wrong 

what happened, best friend? (‘A`)



sizhui (7:53 pm)


i didn't realise i did that.



jingyi ♡ (7:53pm)

sizhui i'm ur FRIEND 

the best even

(that might be a lie but)

ofc i would notice for you 

so tell me what's wrong ??

i hate to see u being sad and all

sizhui deserves to be happy !!! 

did someone make fun of u or smth?

was it jin ling??

i'll beat him up for u just say the name (ง'̀-'́)ง



sizhui (7:55pm)

haha nothing's wrong

i'm being serious!

don't worry about me

do you know you sound a lot like mr wei right now?



jingyi ♡ (7:55pm)

sihzui.. :(

also wtf just bc i care about u doesn't make me old like ur dad ok



sizhui (7:55pm)

i'm fine, jingyi. promise :)

don't make me screenshot this convo and send it to my dad



jingyi ♡ (7:56pm)



heart been broke so many times 💔

also i just know something's wrong with u 

you're being sad and mopey i just know it 

tell me what's wrong :(


i'm gonna keep adding more chins to the sad emoji

unless you tell me what's wrong :(((


u know u can tell me anything :(((((



sizhui (8:01pm)

you are my friend.

thank you for your concern :)

is it alright if i tell you tomorrow?

it's nothing serious, i swear!



jingyi ♡ (8:02pm)

oh my god something's definitely wrong 

since u wanna talk about it in person

but fret not!! ur best friend will always listen to ur worries 

don't think i won't forget !! ψ`ー´)ノ 

i'm def gonna annoy u about it until u say it tmr 



sizhui (8:04pm)

you know you never annoy me, jingyi.



jingyi ♡ (8:08pm)




sizhui (8:09pm)

jingyi ??? are you okay?



jingyi ♡ (8:011pm)




sizhui (8:11pm)


be safe! i'll check in later if your'e busy right now?



jingyi ♡ (8:12pm)



oh my god u cant just


it's giving me heart problems do u even know

the consequences of ur words

take responsibility for it (メ`ロ´)/



sizhui (8:14pm)

what did i say?

please enlighten me. :)



jingyi ♡ (8:14pm)

oh don't act coy with me mister

u know exactly what u did !!!!

not only am i gonna get answers out of u tmr


i also am gonna

take revenge on u for taking advantage of my poor heart like this



sizhui (8:15pm)


i'll be waiting then!




jingyi ♡ (8:16pm)

tomorrow !!  ღゝ◡╹)ノ♡



sizhui (8:16pm)

what's that? :o



jingyi ♡ (8:17pm)

it's me sending u my emotional love n support!!

aka a kaomoji keyboard

zizhen got me ADDICTED 

i love their cute lil faces 



sizhui (8:20pm)

i see

❤ヾ (๑ゝ◡╹๑) like this ?



jingyi ♡ (8:20pm)




sizhui (8:21pm)

goodnight jingyi :)



jingyi ♡ (8:24pm)

oh my god sizhui ur the biggest bully of my LIFE

i can't forgive u for this hsIUDHJAKSHF




________. ꒰ 💌 ꒱ .________



the first beautiful sight in the morning lan sizhui wakes up to when he gets ready for school and opens the door, is the beautiful sunrise awakening on top of the horizon of clouds, signalling a new day, or the flock of birds greeting him a good morning as they fly by over his head. is, what he would've expected as he opens the door, not disappointed, but surprised as he hears his own name being called out in front of his face. 



"sizhui!" a bright familiar voice dances in his ears and before he even knows it, there's a small curl in his lips as he sees lan jingyi on his doorstep, slightly panting and hair dishevelled, cheeks tinting a rose pink. 



"jingyi," lan sizhui says, in return greeting. "did you run all all the way to here?" he asks, eyebrow raised in amusement.



"you would not believe the things i would do for a friend like you." lan jingyi scoffs, arms crossed. "besides, i couldn't sleep all night thinking what was it that made you upset, to the point where you felt like you had to speak it with me in person." 



lan sizhui blinks. "ah.. that." he says. did lan jingyi really spend all night worrying with him as well? if so, he feels like his heart may soon burst out of his chest, warmth swelling it to the brim. has lan jingyi spent all night tossing and turning in the sheets like him, as well? 



"kids!" wei wuxian voice suddenly appears out of thin air, a hand clapping onto lan sizhui's back roughly that makes him wheeze out a little from the impact. "sizhui, you forgot to take your lunchbox with you. i've prepared your favorites since you might feel a bit anxious today, and extra chicken wings, just how you like it. with you and your little friend." wei wuxian says, not so subtly winking at him, nudging elbows together and lan sizhui has never felt so embarassed to the point where he wants to dig a hole in the ground, to simply lie down, and perish. 



"and jingyi," wei wuxian doesn't stop there, turning towards the other still awkwardly shuffling by the front door. "be sure to take care of my son, alright? i'll trust you to keep him in good hands. and if you don't.." wei wuxian trails off, deep in thought as he chuckles quietly.



"thanks, dad, we'll be off now— goodbye!" lan sizhui not so quietly exclaims, ears turning beet red as he waves off and closes the door behind a wei wuxian who was still in the midst of defending or burning down lan sizhui's honor, he doesn't even know how to tell the difference between the two apart anymore. 



"i didn't even get to say hi," lan jingyi's mumbling voice says, snapping lan sizhui out of his shame. 



"there'll always be a next time." lan sizhui says, trying to be somewhat comforting, though he doesn't know if there will be anybody else left to comfort him, considering his brain has simply chosen to practically fling itself out the nearest window whenever wei wuxian just so happens to be near him and tease him about his little crush. 



"i guess." lan jingyi says. then, "alright, we're all alone now." and suddenly lan sizhui feels his mind running off to areas where the police should have barricaded it with 'do not cross' tapes. 



"yep." lan sizhui says, slightly hysterical. "all alone." he adds, more quietly this time.



turning his head towards him, lan jingyi begins. "you know i won't pressure you into saying anything you don't want to, right? take your time, although the more you wait the more anxious i become." and lan sizhui suddenly wants to get on his knees and bow to the goddess above him in the skies for blessing him with such a kind-hearted angel who he somehow has managed to be-friended when they were children. 



"i know." is what lan sizhui says in the end, because he has several years of training underneath the care of the lan's, to maintain self control and no, despite most ideas that sounded tempting, lan sizhui is not going to worship lan jingyi like the god he is, even if the other deserves all the praise and recognition that lan sizhui hopes will come to lan jingyi some day. 



"i'm going to the dentist after school today." lan sizhui blurts out, and suddenly he feels dumb, having this silly worry over nothing, and making lan jingyi worry with him as well. then, as if trying to make an effort to make himself feel better, he continues. "they say i need to have my wisdom teeth removed, too." 



lan jingyi visibly winces, shoulders drawn up to his chin. "yikes," he says, and lan sizhui just solemnly nods, preparing for his death date. 



"it's alright," lan sizhui says, as if trying to coax lan jingyi, or himself, he doesn't even know. "my dad says it won't hurt that much, i hope." 



"is that what you were worrying about last night?" lan jingyi asks, and a wave of shame washes over lan sizhui.



"i.. i'm sorry if i made you worry, now that i say it out loud, it sounds dumb, haha." he laughs awkwardly, hands coming up to rub the back of his neck. 



"sizhui," lan jingyi's stern voice makes him shut up as he glances over at the smaller lan, whose eyebrows are knitted together. "nothing you say will ever make me think you're dumb, hell, i should be saying that to you, considering how many ridiculous topics i've jumped to and from and yet look at you still managing to listen and not telling me to shut up for once." 



"they're not ridiculous topics," lan sizhui finds himself rebutting before he could even have the heart to stop himself. 



"sizhui, i've been going off about vampires since last week about how they get erect down there," —lan sizhui's ears suddenly flush pink— "since they are technically dead and that shouldn't be possible, and so i've come up with a hypothesis that the reason they drink blood from other humans is to get blood in their own system, hence the said erection." lan jingyi says, face dead straight, as if he's not the reason lan sizhui's will to live suddenly goes ascending into the fourth dimension.



"it's a good hypothesis," lan sizhui finds himself suddenly not having the breath in him, as they were knocked out of his lungs.



"vampires don't exist, sizhui." 



"there's mosquitoes," lan sizhui points out.



"huh, i guess you're right." lan jingyi ponders. and then, he giggles. he fucking giggles, and ah, farewell fathers, i am partaking and packing my bags to live on mars, lan sizhui thinks. 



"ah, i'm making all this about myself again, i'm supposed to be the one comforting you," lan jingyi says. "are you still worried?" he asks, eyes shining with concern.



"not really," lan sizhui hums. "not anymore, talking to you keeps my mind off a lot of things, i feel much better now. thanks, jingyi." 



he does not miss the way lan jingyi flickers his gaze somewhere else, coughing incoherently into his fist, making helpless injured noises, like an animal. 



"jingyi?" lan sizhui asks, slightly worried for his friend.



"i'm fine!" lan jingyi suddenly blurts out, cheeks sugar-coated with a slightly dusted cotton candy pink and oh, lan sizhui thinks. i did that, with an unfamiliar sweep of pride swelling in his heart. how many people, he wonders, are able to witness this, lan jingyi, the one whose cheeks are a periwinkle rosy color, eyes wide and mouth slightly parted open. none, he hopes, are able to witness this scene, because as selfish as it may seem, he wishes it was for lan sizhui's eyes only.



"hm," lan sizhui decides to spare mercy on his friend for today. "how's snowball, by the way? is she eating well?" 



snowball was one of the many rabbits that lan sizhui and lan jingyi had heart eyes for, distinctly bringing them back to the fond memory of when the two first met, when lan sizhui was young and oblivious, and somehow got smothered underneath a mountain of white fluffy rabbits, fur rubbing against his skin, tickling his nose as he practically suffocates underneath the many small bodies, wriggling about and making themselves comfortable on lan sizhui's tiny child body. 



later onwards, lan jingyi would find him, like he always does, poking lan sizhui in the leg with a small stick. "are you dead?" the small kid, lan jingyi would ask, as lan sizhui would make a noise, making the rabbits frantic and scatter all over the place, leaving his exposed body lying sprawled across the grass. 



"oh!" tiny lan jingyi would exclaim out loud, eyes bright and round. "you're alive!" 



"barely," lan sizhui would mumble, gently cradling a rabbit onto his lap, later onwards, named snowball. 



"i'm lan jingyi!" a small hand would extend in front of his face, as lan sizhui meekly looks upwards, to the chubby baby fat clinging onto lan jingyi's cheeks, hair tied into a little ponytail, waving behind him as he swayed back and forth. "what's your name?" the other would ask.



"lan sizhui," he said in return, hands delicately rubbing the smooth furs of the rabbit's droopy ears. 



"oh, cool! we're both lans!" lan jingyi would exclaim, tone bright and happy. "did you know," he added, plopping himself down next to lan sizhui, popping his private bubble as he squirmed around, like one of the many rabbits that curiously sniffed at the pair. "the gusu lan rules are so boring, i can't even remember the last time i ran and yelled around! absolutely ridiculous, if you ask me. we're kids! how can they expect us not to act like one?" 



"it is unpolite to speak badly of your elders." lan sizhui would say.



"ah, come on, i came here to befriend a new lan and get to know them! not to be scolded by them for not following a simple rule." lan jingyi would pout, and lan sizhui's world would stop turning.



"befriend?" he would meekly whisper.



"mn!" lan jingyi would nod, ponytail bouncing along with his movements frantically. "we know each other's names already, you seem like a really nice interesting lan to hang around with! so how about it?" he asks, head tilting as strands of golden brown shining underneath the sun slid over his small shoulder. "friends?" 



"friends." lan sizhui would suddenly agree, heart beating wildly at the thought of making a new friend, as he suddenly mushes his face against the fur of the rabbit's stomach. "wrghghh." he would embarrassingly groan, underneath the wriggling furry body that was trying to escape out of his grasp. 



"hey, you'll hurt it." lan jingyi would say, little fingers gently encircling the poor little rabbit that was struggling in vain, giving one last kick in defeat as it settled down in lan jingyi's hands. 



"i was being gentle," lan sizhui would pout.



"hm, being gentle as in smushing your face into it's stomach?" lan jingyi would giggle. "hm, you're growing quite plump, have we been feeding you too much?" lan jingyi would say to the rabbit, gently lifting it's small body up to inspect it. 



"you look so cute," lan jingyi would sigh, poking the rabbit's little pink nose, said rabbit retaliating by wriggling it's nose, ears flattening against it's body. "we should name you! so that when we call for you, we'll be able to recognize you!" 



and lan sizhui would say, but rabbits don't understand human language, but the way lan jingyi lifted the rabbit even concerningly higher in the air, eyes turning into little crescents as he laughs airily like the wind, makes lan sizhui say not a thing, as he agrees with a soft, "mn. we should." 



"what name would suit it?" lan jingyi would ponder, deep in thought.



"marshmallow?" lan sizhui would suggest, briefly running through the names of multiple things that were round, fluffy, and white. 



"no!" lan jingyi would laugh, waving his hand. "naming it after food would just make me hungry, and i wouldn't want that!" 



"i would name you thumper," lan jingyi says to the rabbit, eyes narrowing in concentration and lan sizhui thinks it's absolutely adorable. "but it seems so cliche for a bunny. you don't even thomp your little bunny paws on the ground like most do." 



"snowball?" lan sizhui asks, thinking of how the rabbit's fine white fur reminded him of the thick sheets piling onto a new day's morning after a snow storm, coating the ground a soft white, on the first snowfall in winter. 



"snowball!" lan jingyi's eyes would light up a whole room in the dark. "yes, that's perfect!" he would say, and lan sizhui's heart would beat even faster.



and so, snowball the bunny it is, the white rabbit with a wriggling pink nose that brought lan sizhui and lan jingyi's friendship together on that day.



"she's doing well, getting even more rounder enough to build a snowman," lan jingyi jokes, returning back to the present. "she'll be excited to see you, since she bit me twice this morning when i was going to feed her lettuce this morning. a real champ. i think she's falling for me, sooner or later." 



"hm," lan sizhui says, doubtful. 



"sizhui," lan jingyi suddenly says, as they rounded another block, walking down the sidewalk that led to their school. "you're going to the dentist after school, right? today? the local lan dental care one?" 



"yeah, why?" lan sizhui asks.



"ah, nothing." lan jingyi says, awkwardly tugging on his earlobe, a thing lan sizhui noticed the other would always do, when put in an awkward situation. and just when he was about to ask the other what was wrong, lan jingyi already beat him to it. "if you'd let me, i'd like to come with you, as company, you know! dentists are scary, after all." 



lan sizhui blinks.



"if.. you don't mind?" lan jingyi asks, in this oh so small tiny voice that makes lan sizhui want to delicately cradle the other's face in his hands, to protect him from any harm at all costs. 



"you're not busy?" 



"sizhui, it's a friday, what other better things do i have to do, other than accompanying you as a friend to face your worst fear side by side as we ride into the dawn of battle together?" lan jingyi says, re-hoisting his backpack over his shoulder, like he was adjusting the handle of his sword, or something.



"now that you put it like that.." lan sizhui trails off, eyes glimmering in amusement as he watches lan jingyi sputter out in embarrassment. 



"oh, you know what i mean! don't pull a nie huaisang on me, stop teasing!" 



"alright, alright." lan sizhui laughs, waving the other's fuming protests off. "you can come with me. we'll take the bus there, okay? i'll meet you outside of the school gates when school's over."



"mister wei and lan won't be there to drop us off or accompany you?" lan jingyi asks, puzzled.



"ah.. no, not exactly. they did offer, but i felt uncomfortable dragging them with me everywhere where there's health care in any sort of place, so there's just us today." lan sizhui fills him in, mentally preparing to hear wei wuxian's wolf whistle as he pulls his phone out secretly behind his back to text his uncle, wen ning, that he's already got company. and it's not that lan sizhui doesn't like his uncle wen, it's far from that, really. he's one of the few closest relatives who he shares wen blood with, but he'd rather spend every second he can get to soak up the attention lan jingyi gives to him, and him only. 



"you sure?" lan jingyi inquires, uncertain. "i'm not exactly the best comforter, i'll just talk your ear off." 



"i already told you," lan sizhui says, calmly. "hearing you talk calms me down, you'll do great at being my emotional comfort, jingyi." 



"i am going to die," lan jingyi groans. 



"no, you aren't." lan sizhui immediately butts in. "do not exaggerate." 



"i am going to die, lan sizhui. do you hear me? i am going to vanish into dust and it's all because of you." lan jingyi stubbornly argues, and lan sizhui's heart fawns over the other, proud of himself that he's managed to reduce the other to such a flabbergasted state, reduced to simply incoherent words as he hears lan jingyi yell out a keyboard smash similar in text, out loud. 



"and i'll get you the prettiest flowers to mourn at your funeral." lan sizhui says, in return, lips crinkling into a small grin as he watches the other make more frustrated noises, up until they reach the school gates, with lan jingyi waving him a quick goodbye and dashing into the school doors, disappearing around the corner, as the other says, he has to catch up being early and on time for class, or else he'll get 3 strikes on attendance and he'll have to be sent home with a note, to his parents who will give him the most disappointing look he has ever seen on their faces and he will simply shrivel up into thin air, and teachers are so dramatic about time, we've got all the time in the world, it's not like today's the end of the world!, lan jingyi would say. 



uncle wen (new unread messages since 5:19am)

hello sizhui! 

mister wei told me i'll be keeping you company at the dentist!

i'll pick you up after school? 

study hard!! jiayou!! :3


sizhui (7:20am)

good morning, uncle ning! :)

thank you for agreeing to this, i hate to bother you

but it's alright! i've already got company with my friend



uncle wen (7:22am)


i didn't expect that,

alright then! i guess you'll be okay?

are you sure? i'm not busy or anything

i'll do anything for my nephew, you know that!



sizhui (7:24am)

thank you, uncle ning

but it's quite alright!

i'll be fine, i think it's time i face my fear with someone new?

thank you for the worry!



uncle wen (7:26am)

alright then!

i'll text mister wei to let him know

is that alright? 

you have to start class soon anyways, i think



sizhui (7:27am)

yep! thank you so much uncle ning!





dad ♡ (new unread messages since 9:21am)

sIZHUI ?#@?@!?


i totally respect that

make your move, son!!! don't disappoint me and my future son in law !!! 


la NZHAN NKOO#:!$(@


be safe, return before 6pm, please.

have fun with jingyi.



________. ꒰ ☁️ ꒱ .________



lan sizhui is practically sure he's vibrating at an intense frequency that can break glass by now, and he doesn't know if it's the adrenaline pumping in his veins from the reason that as each hours tick by slower and yet faster at the same time than anticipated, it's getting nearer to the end of the school hours, and that he'll be left alone faced at the mercy of the dentists sawing out his wisdom tooth out, —okay that might be a bit dramatic but still— and with lan jingyi, the boy whom he has a crush on for quite some time now. 



it's the last ring of chimes from the school bell that snap him out of his thoughts as he begrudgingly hoists his backpack over his shoulder, taking longer steps more than neccessary as he exits out of the classroom door and wanders a bit more down the hallways, until his feet had said enough, and brought him to the school gates, where lan jingyi was waiting for him, beneath a small little tree, leaves shrivelled up since it was in the middle of autumn, yellow and orange leaves of different vibrant shades falling onto the ground, and perishing, just like lan sizhui's will to exist. 



"ready?" lan jingyi asks, suddenly linking their arms together, ignoring the slight hitch in lan sizhui's breath as the other intertwines their fingers together. "i just felt like you needed some physical emotional support, y'know?" lan jingyi mumbles, and lan sizhui can briefly feel the faint brush of the smaller lan's thumb brush against his hand, as if reassuring him, and although that sweet gesure did warm lan sizhui's heart, it also may have accidentally sent it to stage 1 of cardiac arrest, with how hard it was beating out of his chest. 



"thank you." is what sizhui says, because he's polite and his fathers didn't raise a son whose disrespectful. 



"calm down," lan jingyi says, in that voice that makes lan sizhui's resolve go flying out the window. "i can feel your pulse on your wrist, is your heart okay?" he has the audacity to ask, and lan sizhui is so tempted to say 'no', but instead, with ears red, he looks away and nods, because lan jingyi always had that effect on him. 



"let's go," lan sizhui barely manages to let the choked words come out of his lips, fingers clenching tightly around lan jingyi's slimmer and slender ones, as he pulls the other past the school gates and near the bus stop. 



he finds himself staring at lan jingyi, who lets out a small puff of a breath, watching as the faint condensed warm air collect up into a small cloud of fog as it disappears into thin air. "i can sense you staring at me, is there something on my face?" lan jingyi asks, startling the ever-loving fuck out of lan sizhui, embarrassment creeping up his ears, tinting them a bright red, a similar shade to the many leaves on the ground beneath them in the cool mid-autumn weather. he hopes he makes it out alive enough to ask jin ling to run him over with a truck, considering the other hasn't received his driver's license yet. 



"you look cold," lan sizhui blurts out, because he is a fool, and a fool in love. 



"you're gonna warm me up, or something?" lan jingyi mumbles, huddling closer, like he were to curl himself into a small ball, with the way he drew his shoulders up, face half covered by his jacket. it's when lan sizhui notices that lan jingyi still hasn't let go of their hands, if not, clinging closer, the other's smaller pinky hooked around his own, and lan sizhui pretends seeing that doesn't make his heart to flips, on the inside, because he is a lan, and lan's are supposed to have better control over their emotions, hence the iconic white pristined forehead ribbon tied around his forehead, though overshadowed by his long bangs, though the bright baby blue cloud patterns decorating across the silk fabric were somewhat noticeable. 



"now that you say it," lan sizhui says, before he can stop himself, as he unwraps his own scarf around his neck, wooly navy blue from the softest fluffiest sheep that resembled a touch of the cotton clouds in the sky, knitted into fishtail braids. "here," he mumbles, arms reaching over lan jingyi's head as he ignores the other's wide eyed-amazement stare directed at him, as he focused on the task of making sure lan jingyi is bundled up safely and warm, piling layer and layer around the smaller lan's neck, until his head was completely half covered, beady eyes still staring at him from the mountain of layers of warmth, and suddenly, even without his scarf, lan sizhui feels the urge to melt onto the ground and coo at the adorable sight.



"you—" lan jingyi begins.



"me." lan sizhui finishes.



"you didn't need to do that." lan jingyi says softly, in which lan sizhui automatically replies with, "i wanted to." 



lan sizhui is always known to be someone whose an overthinker. a person who thinks twice about almost everything, whether the actions he will do will cause any harmful or regretful consequences in the near future, if it will affect or burden anyone. and when it comes down to lan jingyi especially, lan sizhui finds himself needing to pinch his skin every 5 seconds to prevent himself doing or saying something he might regret later because of his burdening feelings. with lan jingyi, he feels the need to think thrice over simple things, whether or not it will affect his and lan jingyi's friendship or not, if it will ruin his chances or not.



but lan jingyi existing simply makes it hard to do so. lan sizhui finds himself wanting to tear the overweighing thoughts in his head away, to do what his heart beats and yearns for, to do what he had wanted to do for quite a long time ago. so, it's no surprise when he suddenly reaches up and briefly feels the smooth silky hair on lan jingyi's head, briefly soaking in the smell of lan jingyi, who smelled like home. a hint of lavendar bleeding in and like on a summer's bright day with the small whiff of sweat from earlier today. 



"what are you doing?" lan jingyi's voice comes off more surprised, tone weak and small, eyes bright and wide and immediately, lan sizhui drops his hand away like he's burned his hand. 



"there was a leaf in your hair." lan sizhui lies, fully preparing for the thought of him going home and finding stacks of gusu lan copies to write down for punishment. 



"you shouldn't do things so impulsively, sizhui." lan jingyi says, and he physically deflates like an old balloon with hot air. then, "what if someone falls for you instead?" and there are visible questions mark in bold circling around lan sizhui's head, if one squints to look hard enough. "what?" he says, and lan jingyi just gives him this little smirk, and the breath in lan sizhui's lungs are knocked out.



"the bus is here," lan jingyi says, acting like as if nothing happened, dragging their still intertwined hands towards the somehow magical bus that materialised out of thin air, and lan sizhui, a hopeless man, just follows lan jingyi's lead. 



they get on the bus, both of them sighing internally out of relief as they find that the bus is remotely empty, only a few elderly people occupying some seats, as they make their way towards a small little corner, near the back of the bus, with lan jingyi nudging lan sizhui forward, so he sits at the window seat, completely at the mercy of lan jingyi, as he is trapped with no where to escape, as lan jingyi practically smushes against his side, and lan sizhui is pretty sure his heart has stopped beating. 



they have stopped holding hands now, to lan sizhui's disappointment, although the fact that the warmth and heat radiating from lan jingyi's surprisingly smaller body is practically leaning against his shoulder, makes up for it. the bus lets out a wheezing noise like an old person struggling to get up after a few hours of sitting, and the wheels turn, picking up the pace and slowly moving against the road. 



lan sizhui can see the blurry movements of trees, people walking by and multiple cars, passing by them as the bus continues to move. the world is spinning, lan sizhui thinks, but as lan jingyi tugs gently on the sleeve of his sweater, the rest of the world, other people, are still in moving motion, slow motion even, as lan sizhui settles his gaze onto the boy whom he has given his heart to from since day one, lan sizhui's own world stops turning. instead, it revolves around lan jingyi, because lan jingyi is his centre of attention, his focus, his core, his love, and lan sizhui will always revolve around the other, like a small planet orbiting around the bright shining star of the solar system that gleamed and glowed dangerously with addicting warmth that makes lan sizhui's gut pool with heat, his toes curling.



"d'you wanna listen to some music to pass the time?" lan jingyi asks, handing over part of the earphone that was connected to the other, held tightly in lan jingyi's other hand, long wire plugged into a little small phone, multiple stickers spattered across the case. 



and lan sizhui should politely decline because the thought of sharing earphones with someone and possibly transferring whatever nasty germs into his own ear when he doesn't even know what the other does to their own earphone, or if they even cleaned it these past 10 years of use. but, this is lan jingyi, and so, he swallows and nods, taking the earphone and lodging it into his ear, watching as lan jingyi hums in satisfaction, fingers scrolling down some sort of music playlist, eyes trained on the screen of his phone and lan sizhui stubbornly ignores the thought of him saying 'pay attention to me', to lan jingyi.



after a few minutes of him watching lan jingyi scroll through an endless list of music, lan sizhui quietly pipes up. "i have a song recommendation." 



lan jingyi looks up, blinking. "oh! here then, i'm pretty sure your music taste is more soothing than mine, anyways." and hands over his phone towards lan sizhui, in which he gently cradles the small device in his hands, careful not to break it or anything, because this is lan jingyi's property, and he has to treat it right and delicately. 



he types in the song's name on the search button of youtube, clicking on the first result, and the video loads for a few seconds longer than usual, because the wifi in local buses are usually terrible and low quality with horribile signal, and then the music flows into the earphones, the video finally playing, as sounds of beats and cymbals of the drums introduce the melody, the singer's voice slowly making their way into the song.



now, lan sizhui was no dumb man. he'd purposely search this particular song that reminded him of lan jingyi, himself, and so he cautiously takes subtle glances at the other for any signs of discomfort, seeing how he likes the song, just as much as he does, and if he can feel the yearning and pure love from the lyrics, like how lan sizhui feels for lan jingyi. 



❝ —  up and down like a red rubber ball
you're always back and forth like the clock on the wall
i want to know about you
i'm spinning all around you  — ❞



lan sizhui's eyes automatically drift over to lan jingyi's feet, no, he does not have a feet kink, watching as the other taps the heel of his foot against the bus, along with the rythm of the song, fingers on the seat of the bus drumming against the surface, and lan sizhui hopes that's a good sign that the other does not mind he chose this particular song for them to listen to when they were side by side on the bus in the middle of falling autumn, as they were headed towards the dentist and lan sizhui's grave. 



❝ —  sing along to a song that i know
it goes bah bah bada, sing it over and over
let it hypnotize you
i'm still here right beside you  — ❞



lan sizhui knows a bit about how lan jingyi sings in his free time, humming a melodious tune that bounced against the echoing walls of the school hallways sometimes, and whenever he would ask about it, the other would just bashfully wave his hand the other way, and talk about something else, practically ignoring lan sizhui's attempt to make lan jingyi sing. and so, he finds it a miraculous wonder when he faintly hears the familiar hum of lan jingyi's voice accompanying the song's vocals, like the hush of a wind ruffling your hair fondly, the secrets kept that were untold but not unheard. 



❝ —  hold my hand, you can follow my lead
you're like a ballerina twirling round on your feet
and watching is so fantastic
i want to ask you  — ❞



lan sizhui remembers his cursor hovering against the song's video once, when he was searching for classical calming music to soothe his mind, probably from when lan jingyi said something that made lan sizhui's face flush bright red, and meditating didn't help, so he resorted to oening his laptop and opening youtube for inner calmness. he didn't think, at first, clicking on a video of a song written by somebody he didn't know the name of, nor was he familiar with in any way. he remembers scrolling down the comment section, for entertainment or for random stories told by strangers he didn't know of, of stories that may or may not have been made up. 



❝ —  would you come here and spin with me?
i've been dying to get you dizzy,
find a way up into your head
so I can make you feel like new again  — ❞



the comments on the video were mostly told by people who fell in love and by people who fell out of love. of stories by people who were stuck with a crush, or the familiar linging nostalgia the song brought that reminded people of a certain someone at some point in their life. and when lan sizhui scrolls through endless comments as the song on the video is still playing, he can only think of one person in mind. the same person who brought a smile upon his face when they too, smiled. the same person who moved like he danced without a care in the world, the same person whose smile he wants to tattoo onto his brain till the end of time so he doesn't forget. the same person who he has fallen for only, who he has given his heart to forever for the other to keep. 



❝ —  now collapse, take delight in the fall
and catch your breath
i know you feel the ring from it all
so try and collect yourself now
it's just a euphoric comedown  — ❞



the song slowly wraps itself up into the end, just in time as the bus slowly comes to a halt, breaks screeching and the sigh of the doors creak open, cool wind rushing in and running a shiver down lan sizhui's spine. beside him, he feels lan jingyi make a move to get up, and so he dislodges the earphone in his ear out, handing it to lan jingyi, who hums in gratitude as he takes it away and stuffs both his phone and earphones into the pocket of his jeans. 



it keeps lan sizhui on the tip of his toes until his feet landed on the dreading concrete sidewalk, where lan jingyi was waiting for him, as he took a leap of faith off the bus. somehow, he finds himself anticipating lan jingyi's thoughts ont he song, but the other keeps silent, eyes trained on ahead and for a moment, lan sizhui feels this lost sense of hope. what did he expect, after all? lan jingyi most likely thought it was just a random song that sounded nice and gave aesthetic vibes, for all he cared. perhaps, lan jingyi did not pay too much attention at the lyrics, and he thought that the song was just okay, maybe he'll give it a few listens or two, for lan sizhui, but that may be it.



before he can even drive the maddening thoughts away from his head, he already feels a warmth enveloping his hanad as he looks down, to see his soul evaporate into thin air and lan jingyi's fingers already wrapped tightly around his own. 



"we don't want to be late to your appointment now, do we?" lan jingyi says, eyes glinting with mischief as he drags lan sizhui towards his death, feet reaching upon the marble stairs that led to the glass doors, crystal clear and easily reflecting one's own image on the surface. a small little bell chime rung as an indicator that someone had entered the place, making the receptionist look up with a warm smile. 



"i pressume you are my patient, lan sizhui?" the receptionist with a neatly styled bun came to greet them, glossy lipstick that shone like cherries shined underneath the calming yellow lights of the ceiling. 



"yep, that's him!" lan jingyi answers for him, nudging his shoulder and all he can do is swallow, and nod. 



"please take a seat until the dentist calls for your name, you must be nervous, do you perhaps want to take a drink before you procceed?" the lady asks kindly, and a bit of lan sizhui's nerves settle down in place as he finds the courage to politely reply back. "thank you for the offer, but i'll pass." 



the receptionist nods, bowing a bit as she returns back behind the desk, fingers with neatly manicured nails typing against the keyboard. and so, lan jingyi takes the oppurtunity to gently tug lan sizhui by the hand, which they were still intertwined together, by the way, leading him to sit on the plush soft cushions of a soft couch, where the weight of the two of them made them sink into the mattress like sand. 



"i might die." lan sizhui blurts out, nerves already getting to him as he suddenly feels his hands become abnormally cold to the tips, feet unable to keep still from bouncing, as adrenaline and fear rushes through his veins like the pounding heart in his chest and blood to his ears. 



"you will not." lan jingyi says simply, both hands coming to warm the freezing tips of lan sizhui's fingers, smaller and slimmer fingers coming around to wrap and gently cradle lan sizhui's own, making heat buzz to the tip of his fingers, with just a touch of lan jingyi's love. "you're nervous, it's fine. i'd probably be clinging onto the door handle as you try to pry me off and drag me inside to the dentist if i were you." lan jingyi continues, and magically, lan sizhui's nerves begin to slowly dissipate, leg no longer bouncing like a rubber ball at a hundred miles per second. 



"is that your way of comforting other people?" lan sizhui asks.



"you know i'm not good at comforting people, sizhui. i'm like the kind of person who accidentally throws salt into the wound rather than sugar-coating it. what do you want me to do? play with your hair and kiss your forehead to make you calm down? would that work?" lan jingyi says, completely unaware of the color now draining from lan sizhui's face. 



but it's like the universe just keeps on teasing lan sizhui with his feelings, like how lan jingyi is always out of his grasp the second he wants to embrace the other, like the hypnotizing swaying movement of lan jingyi's hair, strands twirling and dancing in the air, and no matter how many times lan sizhui tries, he's never able to hold onto the other and hold him tight, to make him stay, chances slipping in between his fingers, coming and going, making him spinning dizzily around the other, not that he minds, anyways. 



"lan sizhui," a voice says from the unknown, somehow scarily sounding like the grim reaper calling his name as his soul detaches away from the real world of living. 



"that's you," lan jingyi says, no help whatsoever, hands still delicately covering his own. "come on." lan jingyi continues, voice lowering into a more gentle tone, as if lan sizhui were a rabbit that got startled easily, and lan jingyi was gently coaxing it out of it's hiding place with a piece of cabbage, and as always, lan sizhui is helpless to the trap and alluring prescence of lan jingyi, as he is the bunny who falls for the cabbage in lan jingyi's hands, the cabbage resembling lan jingyi's love and touch. 



and before he knows it, it's like he's being shoved into this tiny room, scalpels that were oddly similar to the one lan sizhui has invisioned in his nightmares sometimes, laid out and sprawled out across him, welcoming him to his doom. a new voice speaks out of the blue, almost startling lan sizhui out of his skin as he whirls around, face to face with assumably, the dentist, who smiles at him with pearly white teeth, shining against the light and lan sizhui almost has to cover his eyes from the brightness. 



"welcome, welcome." the dentist says, long eyelashes batting at him, eyes crinkling with slight wrinkles, tone soft and kind, as she gestures towards the turquoise leather seat that was supposably used to strap lan sizhui down and prevent him thrashing or throwing any objects in retaliation. 



'you may have to man-handle me or wrestle me in order for cooperation,' is what lan sizhui mind thinks as he feels a cold calloused hand gently grab his own, leading him towards the chair. "my," the dentist says. "a quite rigid one, are you? do not fret, young one, i promise this won't take as long and won't be as painful as you may think it is. if you'd like, your friend could stay and make you feel more at ease?" and lan sizhui's eyes immediately gravitate towards lan jingyi, who fidgets under the centre of attention uncomfortably.



"uh." lan jingyi begins. "are you— are you sure that's allowed? won't i mess something up and you end up removing more teeth than what you were assigned to do?" 



lan sizhui practically does a 180 as his eyes threaten to bulge out of his head.



the dentist gives a hearty laugh. "i assure you these old hands have gone through years of training, nothing you do will make me lose my control or grip. now, sit beside your friend, young man, or else i may have to remove more teeth but from someone else." she threatens, already snapping on those horrible god-awful stenching latex gloves that lan sizhui dislikes the smell of so much. 



lan jingyi quickly shuts up after that, gently reeling in a small little stool from the corner of the room that had wheels on the bottom, as he scooches a bit closer towards lan sizhui, whispering, "is this okay?" to which lan sizhui nods. 



"before i'm going to do the procedure," the dentist says, and lan sizhui's hands immediately begin to start sweating bullets. "i'm going to do a quick run-through of what's going to be happening, so you can prepare and brace yourself." and okay, lan sizhui think, that's slightly a bit reassuring, right? but with the blood rushing to his ears from adrenaline or from how lan jingyi is literally so close to him, he does not know which one it is, but suddenly the dentist's voice sounds like the teacher from the cartoon, peanuts, the one with the little dog named snoopy and a kid named charlie, if lan sizhui can remember correctly.



"i'll be using local anesthesia, injecting a sort of sedation through your gums, don't worry, your parents have informed me that you aren't allergic to any drugs, and most patients hardly feel it, as they describe it as a small ant biting your gums. this is the most common method for people to choose when they're getting their wisdom teeth removed, and your parents have told me that they want you to feel absolutely zero pain, so i will hopefully be able to achieve that, with the best of my abilities." the doctor carefully explains. "you'll also be breathing in laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide, so you'll feel a bit loopy, still conscious, but just lethargic and this will help you relax." and lan sizhui thinks he may or may not have heard or seen that element compound in a brief skim through his chemistry textbook. 



"so," the dentist excitedly claps her hands for whatever reason, lan sizhui does not know. "we've covered everything. this should take no more than 45 minutes, and if you feel any pain, tap your friend's hand twice and he'll tell me, okay? one tap if you want me to slow down in case fear gets the best out of you." 



lan sizhui briefly feels the familiar soft feathery touch brush against his fingertips as he glances out from the corner of his eyes, because he's literally rooted down to his spot from fear, to see the comfort of lan jingyi's hands already enveloping his own, bringing him home. "it's going to be okay." lan jingyi says quietly, thumb brushing against his palm. "i won't let anything happen to you." and lan sizhui's heart blooms like a flower showing off it's colorful petals into the first day of spring. 



"just breathe normally, okay? count down from 10 in your head, you'll feel like dozing off into sleep within around the past 5 seconds." the dentist says, and lan sizhui briefly catches the dentist's name, pinned on a little marble nametag that read, lan yi. 



then, there's a gentle brush against his hand, and something suddenly covering half of his face as he frantically sucks in a tiny breath, immediately being hit with a wave of dizziness, body slowly unlocking itself from tense uncomfortable positions. right, he was supposed to count down from 10. ah, well, 10, 9, 8...


the lights suddenly seem a lot brighter, although not as bright as lan jingyi's smile and not as irritating as the lights on the ceiling, and he can feel himself being hoisted up higher into the air on the seat, like he was being lifted into the realm gates of heaven. the light shines into his eyes with vigour and the dentist must've noticed the furrow in his eyebrows, as she adjusts the handle a bit, and oh, that's a lot better. 



he suddenly feels something gentle proding and prying his mouth open and god, it would be embarrassing if he starts drooling all over his chin or something, but then, there's a soft green fabric, like a blanket, covering his eyes and practically all of his face, only left with a little hole sewn open, just for his mouth, and then, he feels the little ant prick the dentist was talking about, just a little nip, a small pinch, in the back of his gums. he can barely feel it, but it's there, and then, he feels the right side of his face go numb, unable to feel his tongue or his lips. 



lan sizhui begins to slightly panic for a bit, hand tightly clamping down on lan jingyi's grip, and he feels a brief sort of reassurance as lan jingyi responds to him by gently squeezing his hand back. okay, lan sizhu thinks, a bit hysterically, jingyi is here, he'll keep you safe, he'll make you feel safe. there's the sudden loud air-spraying sound that makes him slightly jolt out of his seat, his ears already way too familiar to the dreading horror of what's about to come, but then, he feels his hand that was in lan jingyi's own, suddenly being lifted up into the air, and his mind comes to a screeching halt.



although the green fabric is covering his eyes, and nobody can see, lan sizhui's eyes widen, as he distinctly feels his fingers brush against a soft plush flesh, feathery ticklish touches being peppered onto his skin and oh, lan sizhui thinks, face heating up, thankfully covered and unseen. was lan jingyi kissing his knuckles? he often knew that lan jingyi's lips were supposedly soft and kiss-bitten red, so tempting, but lan sizhui only knew that from judging at a far look, never happened to be one to experience it first hand, and lan sizhui's mind feels all fuzzy and warm, all the love he has for the other, buzzing to the tip of his fingertips as he feels lan jingyi's lips gently press a little longer against his hand, and lan sizhui positively melts. 



lan sizhui feels like he's floating on clouds, 'is this what it feels like to be high?' lan sizhui thinks. everything just feels oh so nice and wounderful, and he doesn't want to ever let go of this feeling. his body feels relaxed, high up into the air, he's dizzy, and he doesn't ever want to come down. 



thinking of lan jingyi will always make him feel like that, lan sizhui thinks. it doesn't really have anything to do with the nitrous oxide or whatever gas that made him float high up into the clouds, because lan jingyi's smile already did that for him. there's sudden memories flashing into his mind of brief interactions with him and lan jingyi, yet those brief moments seemed to last a lifetime in his mind, neatly stored into binders and folders in cabinets, with labels and everything, of the date and said memory, in lan sizhui's brain. 



there was one time, lan sizhui can recall, when he remembers his younger self sitting down beneath the shady leaves of the trees that gently swung in the breeze, as he watches all the other kids play with each other, kicking and playing with a ball, and lan sizhui remembers feeling this emotion he can't quite pin point, it's only until he meets lan jingyi that he realises what that feeling really was. 



to yearn. 



eventually, the ball somehow rolls over to lan sizhui's side, as he blinks down at it, then up at the group of kids who were warily watching him out of the corner of their eyes, huddling together and whispering in hushed yet loud voices, able for lan sizhui to hear the brief discussion, a few words slipping in and drifting in the air, carried by the wind and into his ears. 



"hey, isn't that the kid that lan wangji adopted?" 



"yeah, yeah, apparently i heard that his last surname was a wen! can you believe that?" 



"he seems rather lonely.." another kid notes, briefly glancing over to lan sizhui who was still rooted onto his spot beneath the tree. "and the ball is right there, should we ask him for it?" 



"are you crazy?" another kid hisses out. "i am not spending another hour in detention if suddenly something bad happens and his dad finds out. he'll have my head!" 



"then let's just leave the ball for now, and return later to retrieve it, hey, do you wanna go get ice cream?" 



immediately, lan sizhui's shoulders slump down as he hears the group of kid's voices begin to fade away, footsteps following after, and soon enough, he was left alone, clutching at a small round ball on his lap. and then,



"oh! it's you, the bunny kid!" a familiar voice yells out in the clearing and lan sizhui's head snaps up, to see a bright smile that made his heart do flips on the inside, eyes shining and beaming, like he held stars in them.



"i can't believe we met again! it really must be fate, huh." lan jingyi says, and lan sizhui remembers him, after their first encounter underneath a herd of bunnies, sprawled out across a large patch of grass and wildflowers that sang along with the breeze. no wonder he thought that smile looked oddly familiar.



"fate." lan sizhui echoes more quietly. 



"oh, is that your ball?" lan jingyi asks, nudging a bit closer as he sits right next to him, and his breath hitches higher a bit. 



"um," lan sizhui begins. "not—no, it's not mine. his fingers suddenly begin to fidget, manouvering the ball around his lap a bit, and he finds comfort in digging his fingers into the rubber, mentally apologizing to the group of kids for the damage he might have caused to their ball, his own fingernails imprinted onto it, but surely it won't be noticeable, right? there were already a numerous amount of fingernails engraved onto the ball itself, from different crescent shaped nails and sizes. 



"then why are you holding it?" 



"ah." lan sizhui says, and he lets the ball drop, rolling onto the ground beside him. 



"psh." lan jingyi snickers. "i'm gonna tell your dad that you stole a ball from other kids." 



lan sizhui does a full 180, giving a snickering lan jingyi a bewildered look. "you wouldn't!" he says, accused. "i didn't even steal it," he adds, mumbling.



"you are caught red-handed in for your crimes, do you plead guilty?" lan jingyi asks, an eyebrow raised and lan sizhui feels betrayed by a person he called his friend. 



"but i didn't—" lan sizhui begins, only to be cut off by a small shove against his chest as he feels himself being slightly knocked off balance. "jingyi!" 



"did you feel that?" lan jingyi asks, the audacity. 



"yes, that was not needed and almost hurt." lan sizhui bites out, smoothing out the wrinkles of his uniform. 



"nooo," lan jingyi pouts, suddenly crawling even nearer towards him, as he jabs a finger right on lan sizhui's chest, above his heart. "i mean," lan jingyi clears his throat. "do you feel anything? other than when i pushed you." 



lan sizhui raises an eyebrow, confused. was he supposed to feel something? "no." he says. 



lan jingyi huffs, plopping down on his behind, crossing his arms above his chest. "that was me, giving my love to you." 






"what?" lan sizhui weakly asks. 



"hey, are you deaf? do i need to repeat myself?" lan jingyi says, frustrated. "that was me." he repeats, more slowly, more punctuated, and lan sizhui can only nod dumbly at his words. "giving my love. to you." 



"to me." lan sizhui faintly whispers to himself and lan jingyi nods, proud of himself for some reason. 



"but why?" he asks. 



"you looked lonely." lan jingyi says simply, shrugging. "like, you didn't have a lot of love." and lan sizhui can faintly see the red hue coloring the other's ears, as he watches lan jingyi embarrassed, play with a small strand of the grass poking out from the ground. 



"but." lan sizhui says. "this is yours." 



lan jingyi looks up, tilting his head. "that ball you held a moment ago wasn't yours, but it was still in your arms. whose to say things that aren't yours can't be secretly kept?" 



"that's against the rules." 



"it's not if i give mine to yours!" lan jingyi almost yells out, exasperated. "what's mine is yours." he says more gently this time, pressing a hand against lan sizhui's heart. "so," lan jingyi begins, voice slightly wavering, unusual, coming from him. "keep it well, okay? i have lots of love to give, so i'm giving my love to you, so you can feel loved and not lonely anymore. you have to treasure it, and keep it safe," lan jingyi says, like it's a warning. "and you have to return it to me, when you finally have lots of love, okay?" 



back to the present, lan sizhui still treasures that memory deeply within him, heart clenching onto the warmth and love blossoming within. it's been practically years now, and it's just a small little thing that has happened in the past, but lan sizhui still thinks of it, remembering it, feeling it. he still has lan jingyi's love with him, and he feels selfish yet stupid at the same time. it's not even like lan jingyi meant it anyway, he probably seemed pathetic as a kid, on the floor and all alone, lan jingyi was just being a kind soul and kept him company. he probably doesn't even remember giving his love to lan sizhui, but yet, lan sizhui never wants to let lan jingyi's love go. it's part of lan jingyi, and it's for lan sizhui and lan sizhui only, and he wants to treasure it, keep it safe, for as long as lan jingyi will let him and for as long as time will have him. 



there's a loud sloshing of water in his mouth that makes lan sizhui snap out of his lovey-dovey thoughts, and he feels the seat underneath him vibrate a bit, making him sit up. his mouth still feels numb, and he braces for the light as the green fabric covering his eyes suddenly lift away. the dentist's bright smile is no help whatsoever, but it does feel reassuring in a way, as she gently says, "all done now, you've been very good and still, rinse your mouth with water and we're almost done." 



and he does just that, eyes briefly flickering over to lan jingyi who was watching him, eyes swimming in warmth and lan sizhui wants to do all but drown in lan jingyi's gaze. 


they're still holding hands.



"the removal went relatively well," the dentist says. "you'll experience numbing for a couple more hours, and here are some painkillers to take, one in the morning after breakfast and one in the evening after supper. your right cheek will start swelling and that's normal, and there will be a bit of bleeding, but it'll surely stop after a few hours with the help of the cotton pad i placed in your gums, you can replace it with new ones if you'd like, and remove it once the bleeding stops. return to book an appointment after a few weeks of healing so i can remove your stitches, alright?" and lan sizhui just nods dumbly, head still feeling all floaty. 



the dentist then turns towards lan jingyi, who straightens up at the attention. "he might feel a bit loopy after this, maybe he'll forget some faces and names, and maybe some certain secrets will spill out." she adds, winking, for whatever reason. 



"so," lan jingyi says. "it's like he's drunk?" 



"if you put it that way," the dentist shrugs, casually. "then yes, technically. will you be alright walking your friend home? is someone going to pick you up?" 



"ah, it's just us two." lan jingyi sheepishly says. "he insisted that he wanted to be brave for today, but i'm sure i'll manage, thank you for treating sizhui with care, doctor yi." 



"a brave kid he is." the dentist nods her head, a smile hidden in her eyes. "payment is already taken care of, there's no worries, he'll be able to eat normal stuff, just not too hard food that'll damage his teeth, and just be safe on your way out, alright?" 



"thank you, doctor yi." lan jingyi bows, before turning towards lan sizhui who was blinking up at him slowly, a bit sluggishly, though eyes wide like a newborn fawn, and a newborn fawn he was, when lan jingyi gently tugs lan sizhui to stand up-right, only to quickly be by his side to support him by the arm as the other's legs stumble about. 



"hmm," lan sizhui hums, quite happily with a soft smile on his face that makes lan jingyi internally cry on the inside for his love, as they barely manage to make it out pass the doors of the lan's local dental care. and goddamn, screw lan sizhui with his tall nice looking legs that were practically limp-noodle-like, almost making lan jingyi trip over them if he weren't careful.



"geez," lan jingyi practically wheezes. god, is he out of shape. "you're heavy, you know that?" he mumbles, to himself and to lan sizhui whose eyes are glazed over.



"'s cause you're waaarm." lan sizhui says, voice similarily sounding like he were drunk or high off of something. "you're smaller than me but you're so warm." 



"is that a bad thing?" lan jingyi asks, as they make their way towards the bus stop, and lan jingyi will be damned, if lan sizhui's elegant soft-looking, smooth, polished long hair that was tied into a high ponytail flies and slaps him in the face with the wind in the air. 



"noooo," lan sizhui slurs. "like it. makes me feel warm. 's nice, feels like home." 



"oh," lan jingyi says softly, because he is a weak man, a weak man for lan sizhui. 



"hmm," lan sizhui continues. "like it when you hold my hand, when you keep me close. want to stay close to you all the time." 



"sizhui," lan jingyi mumbles, because he can vaguely feel his walls built around himself crumbling down, and he's scared of a heart he couldn't silence. 



but lan sizhui doesn't goddamn stop. "don't want you to go. want you to stay, want to keep you." the autumn light shining into his eyes speak of pure want and yearning and lan jingyi feels himself getting lost in those orbs in which he likes to always find solace in. "always." lan sizhui finishes, and lan jingyi has to look away and take a breather. 



"sizhui, you don't know what you're saying." lan jingyi weakly bites out, and his heart opens up like a spring cherry blossom as he sees lan sizhui stubbornly shake his head, denying his statement. 



"sizhui," lan sizhui says, gesturing towards himself, and lan jingyi is positively sure he may combust at any second now, and there will have to be an ambulance picking him up and rolling him into a stroller. "sizhui knows it's right. feels it here." and then lan sizhui points to his heart, at the same exact moment lan jingyi takes this chance to make a muffled strained noise, similar to a keyboard smash through text in real life. 



"god," lan jingyi mumbles, spotting the bus slowly trekking its way down the road and towards them from the corner of his eye. "you're driving me insane, sizhui." 



"good," lan sizhui nods, like there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. "so jingyi knows what he makes sizhui feel all the time." and lan jingyi thinks his lungs may have collapsed, the breath knocked out in him as he stares wide-eyed back at lan sizhui. did he just. what. sizhui??



the bus somehow decides to magically appear out of thin air, at the worse most inconvenient times, because lan jingyi's luck is bad and all that, so he sighs in defeat, tugging on lan sizhui's hand to follow him like a limp rag doll, and the moment they step foot-first onto the bus, lan jingyi's mind suddenly sets of red alarms as his eyes rake over the bus, that was practically filled with people and what the hell, since when did this many people take the public bus? but then againa, lan jingyi's luck is bad.



almost practically all of the seats have been occupied, except, for one seat that was vacant and empty, and luckily, very close towards the door, and had a little plastic glass barricade beside it, perfect for lan sizhui if he were feeling drowsy and wanted to doze off for a bit, and so, lan jingyi practically makes a bee-line headed towards the seat, shooting laser eyes that could probably burn through the seat and if he could, the seat would be engraved in lan jingyi's messy handwriting, lan sizhui's property, go find another seat, hags! and okay, that might be a little over the board, but his eyes are set on a goal, and he's willing to get into a fist-fight and copy numerous amounts of gusu lan rules, for lan sizhui. 



thankfully, he does not get into a fist-fight, as nobody really pays the slightest attention to lan jingyi dragging a willing lan sizhui behind him. he gently pulls lan sizhui towards the seat, pushing against his shoulders so the other plops down onto the soft cushion, and lan jingyi sighs in relief, as he stands, in front of sizhui, in a packed bus that reeked of the smell of sweat and work and responsibilities that lan jingyi oh so wants to avoid when he grows older, carried onto the suits of multiple business men and women, of engineers and others. 



and because lan jingyi does not want to go flying out of the nearest window as the bus makes a sharp turn down the road, he hooks his hand around the leather strap on the railing near the ceiling, holding on tight as he sways on his feet, trying to keep balance. and so far, lan jingyi gives himself a mental pat on the back for managing this far, and not screwing up. 



but of course, alas, his luck has to run out, and because the universe hates him, the bus suddenly makes a sharp turn, and not only that, it also bumps on a god forsaken concerning rock that had the size of a huge boulder, sending lan jingyi in the air, and down to his doom, and because although he is almost certain he is very unfit and out of shape, somehow his weight practically means nothing, as his feet do not stay grounded onto the floor, hands slippery from sweat sliding off the leather hand strand, plummeting him down.



right onto lan sizhui's lap.



he can distinctly feel lan sizhui's legs lock up and tense beneath him and both of their eyes widen, breath's shallow and uneven, although neither of them make a move. beside them, perhaps a couple seats away, lan jingyi can hear an eldery voice tenderly going, "ah, young love." and it makes lan jingyi spring back apart, practically clambering off lan sizhui's lap as he dusts himself off, and lan sizhui's lap as well, which was, more awkward than what lan jingyi had planned in his mind, but he does not miss the way lan sizhui's ears flush a pretty pink. 



you are a disaster, lan jingyi's brain hisses out at him and his body can only agree with him as he tries to play it cool, although he feels like the acid in his stomach is going to melt him to the bone, so he averts his gaze over towards the window of the bus in which lan sizhui was leaning against, watching as multiple trees that gave up on life, like lan jingyi is, right now, pass by them, along with people walking on the sidewalk, some holding hands, some holding the leash of their pets as they took them out for a walk, or for doing business, something lan jingyi does not want to think of right now. 



the awkward silence ensues, with lan jingyi's eyes practically darting at any object that wasn't lan sizhui's face. and thankfully, he is saved, by the universe, that also destroys him at the same time whenever his luck runs out, as he spots the familiar neighborhood he and lan sizhui would walk around daily, from and back to school. the wheels on the bus slowly screech to a halt at their stop, and lan jingyi finally, glances down at lan sizhui, who, unsurprisingly, is still staring back up at him, lips slightly parted open and it takes all of lan jingyi's self control to not do something irrational right here right now, especially when there are people crowding near him, so, he practically flees himself and lan sizhui out of the bus, as their feet welcome the familiar hard concrete sidewalk that often scraped lan jingyi's knee whenever he was too clumsy and made him end up eating dirt when he tripped over his feet and fell to his death.



but that's besides the point.



"okay," lan jingyi says to himself, because he is on the verge of losing himself and there is no going back. "let's get you home, sizhui." 



however, as he turns around, lan sizhui's figure is no where to be seen and once again, red alarms go off in lan jingyi's head as he snaps his head up, eyes wild and darting around as he turns around in all different directions, but lan sizhui is nowhere to be found, and suddenly, lan jingyi is rooted down to the ground and he cannot move as he frantically looks around, lost. 



it makes him dizzy, and before he knows it, he's stumbling, falling, and he's prepared for another gash on his calf to be split open as he curses bloody murder and the laws of physics. 



but something catches him, before he falls. 



lan jingyi glances up hesitantly, only to be met with a round pair of concerned eyes, warm gentle hands gently coming around his waist and oh would lan jingyi love to be a maiden and faint in lan sizhui's arms right then and there. but, he collects himself, awkwardly bolting out of lan sizhui's very comforting embrace. 



"where were you?" lan jingyi asks, hands on his hips, ready to scold like an old grandma, because lan jingyi already has the temper of one and the back pain of a 56 year old at best, given his current condition that he at least had to practice doing handstands for punishments, although his baby face and age begs to differ. "you can't just go disappearing on me like that, sizhui, what if you get lost and i can't find you?" 



"sizhui is sorry," lan sizhui mumbles, like a child, and although lan jingyi may be a bit smaller, absolutely nothing will get into his way when all he wants to do is scoop lan sizhui into his arms and cradle him like a precious pristined gem that he is. 



but all lan jingyi does is sigh, because he is weak and in love. "where have you been, anyways?" 



"saw a squirrel, followed it. wanted— wanted to show it to jingyi." 



"lan jingyi, the absolute buffoon you are, the clownery, you idiot." lan jingyi hisses to himself under his breath, but perhaps not quiet enough for lan sizhui's ears as he sees the other snap his head up, eyes furrowed in an absolute adorable way that has to be against the law. 



"lan jingyi is not an idiot." lan sizhui says, determinedly, giving lan jingyi this stormy-eyed look and if he were someone else, he'd probably run away pissing his pants out of fear, because when lan sizhui is mad, he's mad. but this is lan jingyi, he realises, after pinching himself in the arm with a jolt of realisation, so he stands there, frozen like an extinct mammoth in the freezing glaciers of the ice age. 



"uh." lan jingyi says. "what?" 



"lan jingyi is not an idiot." lan sizhui repeats, a little more firmly this time, and it does things to lan jingyi's heart that preens against the attention of lan sizhui who decides to defend his honour for him in front of— well, himself. 



and then he remembers the faint voice of the dentist a moment ago, of when she said that lan sizhui might feel a bit loopy, might not remember a few faces and names, and could possibly spill some unknown secrets, and— lan jingyi feels a gross slimy thought hatching like an egg in his brain. 'ah, dear sizhui,' lan jingyi thinks, solemnly to himself. 'what comes next isn't my fault or yours, this is just for my scientific research, that's all. you'll forgive me, right?'



"why isn't he?" lan jingyi asks, crossing his arms against his chest. yes, he is going to badmouth about himself and watch lan sizhui's reaction, because he is desperate for validation, what about it. "lan jingyi is very annoying, i don't know how you can ever be friends with him." 



the way lan sizhui narrows his eyes is a bit threatening, for lan jingyi, who has practically never seen his friend look like that before. 



"do not speak lowly of others when you are in no position to speak to them in the first palce." lan sizhui says, and lan jingyi does not know whether to feel offended or proud that lan sizhui had said that to him, but also defended him as well. 



but lan jingyi does not stop, because he never learns how to quit, and it's only until he faces the consequences of his actions, struggling to keep his weight balanced in the air as he practices handstands with one hand and the other shakily writing down the gusu lan rules, ink splattering all over the floor by the time he's done.



"why do you even like him, by the way?" he asks, a bit curious. lan sizhui was known for the kind patient smile, always offering help and being the good role model student, the teacher's pet, the one adults go to when they're touch-starved and in need to pinch a child's cheeks for whatever reason, has befriended lan jingyi, the one who always gets himself into trouble and never learns, never keeps his voice down. so why lan sizhui spends the most time around him, besides jin ling and zizhen, is a complete utter mystery to him that he never gets the chance to question, because he doesn't want lan sizhui to think that he's doubting their friendship, or anything. what kind of friend would he be, then? 



lan sizhui seems to hesitate at this, eyes darting to look away, fingers fiddling almost as if shyly, with his ears blooming a faint red. "why do you want to know?" 



"well, if you obviously like him that much, then that gives me a reason not to badmouth him, no? so, what's the reason?" lan jingyi says.



"reaons," lan sizhui corrects with a faint murmur, although unheard by lan jingyi. "he is.. kind," lan sizhui says, checking one box off of a infinite endless list that seemed to trail on for miles in his head on why lan sizhui likes lan jingyi so much. "he is funny, and charming. he helps others in need, and tends to not think for himself." a slight furrow in his eyebrow as he thinks of this beautiful yet concerning trait of lan jingyi. "he always puts others before him." 



"but a lot of people are like that," lan jingyi argues, and he does not know why. "how is lan jingyi different from all that? after all, thousands, millions of people are like that. surely you could've liked someone else other than him." there's this annoying feeling gnawing in the pit of lan jingyi's stomach as he says those words, because he wants to hear it from lan sizhui's mouth, the actual reason why lan sizhui is willing to go this far to defend lan jingyi's honour. lan sizhui deserves better than this, and lan jingyi will always try so hard to achieve a single small glance thrown in his direction from lan sizhui, perhaps a little smile if lan jingyi was lucky that day. lan sizhui deserves the best, and lan jingyi tries to be, but he knows he isn't, and it will never be enough, no matter how hard he tries. 



"other's can't compare to lan jingyi," lan sizhui says. "he is one of a kind. nobody is like him, and he is like nobody." 



and damn lan sizhui, lan jingyi thinks, as he wants to slam his face onto the nearest brick wall within his radius, because the school walls look really appealing right now. leave it to lan sizhui to break down his walls at any time without granted permission, and steal his heart like that, giving the all innocent puppy-eyed look and lan jingyi can't even blame him, because he let lan sizhui do it himself. lan jingyi's heart has always been for lan sizhui only, ever since when they were kids, and ever since lan jingyi saw lan sizhui sitting all alone on the grass, lacking of love.



"lan jingyi is a really great person, you would've liked to meet him." lan sizhui slurs, head spinning around like a broken record whose songs are always stuck on repeat for the boy whom he's fallen head-over-heels for. 



so for now, lan jingyi can only give the other a small, tired smile, as he's defeated by the almighty courageous lan sizhui who has stole his heart. 



"hm, i'm pretty sure he is." lan jingyi muses.



the afternoon sun begins to set over the horizon, a hue of sunset primary colors sprawled out like on a blank canvas, and lan sizhui is the breathtaking view. the beaming rays of the sun shine against lan sizhui's eyes, painting them like molten gold, and warm honey brown, irises reflected onto it, with specks of silver, and his hair that glowed and bathed in the sun, with lan sizhui's features being kissed by the star of the sky itself. 



lan jingyi is pretty sure if he could, he would've grabbed a stool and painted lan sizhui right then and there, as his muse, or perhaps snap a quick polaroid picture of the other, so he can treasure the memory away and keep it forever, tattooed on his mind till the ends of time.



"c'mon," lan jingyi finds himself saying instead. "let's get you home." 



"i already am home." lan sizhui protests, which makes lan jingyi blink.



nearby, there's just empty concrete sidewalks, with trash cans, and some cats probably having a fight and gagging up a hair ball, so, indeed they have to walk a few more blocks to reach lan sizhui's house, and lan jingyi knows for a fact that the other is not homeless. "sizhui," lan jingyi says, trying to sound as gentle as possible. "this isn't your home." 



lan sizhui seems to be confused at this, lips slightly jutted out into a small pout and lan jingyi still hasn't written his will to live yet before it goes plummeting down into the hands of the devil himself. "i am home," lan sizhui repeats, stumbling a bit closer to lan jingyi. "you're my home." he says, finger gently touching against the chest of lan jingyi, who may or may not have an unbeating heart at the moment.



it's a bit confusing, honestly, with lan jingyi's last braincell that practically made him ate dirt in elementary school, struggling. it would almost seem like just a minute ago, lan sizhui had forgotten who lan jingyi is, only to remember a second later. and there's this lingering thought in lan jingyi's brain, that when he said all of those mean things about himself earlier, when he was degrading himself and his worth and value, did lan sizhui pretend to forget who lan jingyi was? or were that just the aftereffects of the anesthesia like the dentist had said? 



"okay," lan jingyi whispers, because his voice is not with him on earth right now. "that's it, we're getting you home, before you send me to stage one of cardiac arrest and the ambulance will have to pick both of us up." 



thankfully, lan sizhui seems to not have heard lan jingyi's flustered ramble, as he willingly lets himself be dragged by lan jingyi. lan sizhui is more talkative, lan jingyi notes, and he treasures the sweet moment to see lan sizhui smile a bit more, a bit more honest, a bit more child-like, whenever his eyes widen and sparkle at the smallest shift in the environment, whether it be a bird chirping at them or a new spotted flower swaying in the wind, petals waving a little hello at them. 



it's sweet, and oddly domestic in a way, lan jingyi thinks, as he gazes at lan sizhui whose now crouching lowly on the floor, finger gently cradling a little butterfly, and it's like lan sizhui is some sort of disney princess waiting for a handsome soulmate to sweep him off of his feet, in which lan jingyi wants to be. 



thankfully, they return before 6pm, right before supper as lan jingyi patiently knocks on the door, proud that he made it on time and that he still gets to keep his head attached to his body and not in the hands of lan wangji. a wild, buzzing with excitement, wei wuxian answers the door in a few seconds, not before there was a loud crash sounding inside the house, in which lan jingyi winces at, the door opening, revealing a flushed wei wuxian, eyes glimmering in a sort of way lan jingyi can't tell. 



"boys!" wei wuxian greets them, followed by lan wangji whose hands automatically have found their way onto wei wuxian's waist. typical husband behavior. 



"thank you for keeping him safe." lan wangji says, and lan jingy visibly bounces on the floor with approval. 



lan sizhui seems to lighten up at that, gently pushing past lan jingyi as he wraps his fathers around with a one big hug, and all lan jingyi can do, is watch them helplessly, heart blooming with love for them, the little family, at lan sizhui, whose smile is wider and brighter than the stars in the night sky, and lan wangji's soft gaze, tender like the wind ruffling one's hair with contentment, and wei wuxian's laugh, hearty and warm, able to make one feel safe and home again. 



lan sizhui has finally found love, has finally received a lot of it, too. 


and lan jingyi couldn't be more happier for his friend.



"jingyi," lan sizhui turns his head around, and just like that, lan jingyi feels like he's 8 and had fallen head over heels for the same boy who held his heart all over again. lan sizhui's arms have widened a little bit, and it's almost as if he's welcoming lan jingyi into his own arms, into his own embrace, into his own home. 



"what?" lan jingyi blinks, like an idiot. 



"come join us," wei wuxian says, still smiling bright as ever. "it's been a while since i've seen my little radish act like a kid all over again." 



"uh," lan jingyi says, unsure, as he flicks his eyes over to lan wangji, who just stares at him with a passive face, though eyes not gone cold. it's only until he sees lan wangji give this little nod, as if granted permission, that lan jingyi loses all self control and says, ah, to hell with it, and jumps into the family's embrace, face snuggling against lan sizhui's coat and he feels oh so warm, like he belongs there. 



"why don't you join us for dinner, jingyi?" wei wuxian says, with a knowing smile on his lips that lan jingyi knows that can't mean any good news.



"ah," lan jingyi rubs the back of his neck sheepsihly, unsure where to look. "i should really get going, i've already intruded quite a bit already, sizhui needs his rest. thank you for the offer though, mister wei." with a slight bow of an apology.



"noooo," he hears lan sizhui whine and suddenly there's a weight on his feet and as he looks down, lan jingyi explodes. lan sizhui is clinging onto his feet, arms tightly gripping around lan jingyi's thighs with his legs entangled with lan jingyi's own feet. but it's lan sizhui's puppy dog eyes and pouty lips that makes lan jingyi lose it all.



"okay," he finds himself saying, and he's literally being so emotionally unstable he's going to have to stare at a wall for approximately 30 minutes whenever he gets home because lan sizhui just does this little happy nuzzle against the jeans of his legs on lan jingyi, and then lets go. 



"we can have a sleepover!" lan sizhui blurts out, eyes filled with so much hope, that lan jingyi would be a heartless bastard to decline. besides, his parents are on a business trip far away, on the other side of the world, for that matter, so why not? 



"if you'll have me." lan jingyi says, a bit hesitant as he glances over towards lan wangji's back turned against him, setting down dishes filled with steaming vegetables and a side of extra carrots, in which lan jingyi knows well who it's for. 



"welcome," wei wuxian answers lan jingyi's unsaid question for him. "make yourself at home!" 



and with that said, lan jingyi lets all hesitance slip off of his face with a small smile, as he joins them for dinner, occassionaly dropping a few carrot sticks on lan sizhui's face, and he can briefly feel lan wangji and wei wuxian's approving gazes at him, so for once, lan jingyi decides to behave well, showing that, yes, he can be a lan, and he can make lan sizhui happy, judging by the way the other seems to beam and bloom like a flower whenever lan jingyi piles more food on lan sizhui's dish, who eats the offerings of food happily in silence. 



"so," wei wuxian begins, ignoring the gusu lan rule of no speech while dining, because this is wei wuxian, and because lan wangji is generally weak towards his husband, he does not chastise him. a pair of chopsticks pointed at an accusatory jab towards lan jingyi. "i'm afraid you didn't pack any spare clothes or toothbrushes, but fret not! that's already been taken care of."



"oh," lan jingyi says, a bit dumbfounded. "how did you know i was staying over today?" 



"lucky guess," is all wei wuxian says, with a wink, and lan jingyi does not want to pursue any farther than that. 



he's noticed that lan wangji has not really uttered a single word, and lan jingyi does not know if that's a good thing or not. sure, he knows lan wangji is more of a man of his actions, rather than his words, but the way he's just staring so passively into lan jingyi's eyes and through his soul, does not quite settle something right in his gut, and it's only until everybody finishes up their meal and lan jingyi comes out of the bathroom, teeth brushed, still wearing the same clothes from the morning, that he realises he's about to face his doom, eyes flickering up to lan wangji who was slightly leaning against the wall, and somehow he's managed to keep his posture straight from just that, arms crossed. 



he's about to quickly slip away until lan wangji's voice echoes against the tiles of the hallways, ringing into his ears and making him stop in his trakcs. 



"lan jingyi," lan wangji says, voice devoiding of emotion, and lan jingyi is positive he is going to shrivel up and ascend into the realms of the heavens with just lan wangji's stare on him. 



"sir," lan jingyi says, politely, although his voice is obviously trembling from fear. 



lan wangji simply holds his gaze on him, as if he were analysing what species lan jingyi were, and lan jingyi finds himself unable to move, frozen on the spot, but then, it's almost as if lan wangji's golden eyes that glowed in the dark of the hallway softened a bit. "thank you," lan wangji says. 



"uh." lan jingyi blinks. "i—i mean if you wanted to use the bathroom first you could've asked me? i wouldn't mind waiting, did i take a long time?" 



"no," lan wangji says, and it makes lan jingyi shut up. "i meant," he continues. "thank you, for making sizhui feel happy all this time." 



it is very obvious that lans are not the type to lie, but lan jingyi feels like lan wangji is bluffing him right now. "it's alright, he deserves to be happy." lan jingyi declares instead, because this must mean he may have made a good impression on the lan wangji, who surpisingly may not hate him and kick him out of the house when nobody's in sight to see. 



"i am to assume your objectives aimed towards sizhui are only for his happiness and safety?" lan wangji states. 



"i have no malicious intent nor do i wish any harm to come to sizhui, mister lan." lan jingyi says, determinedly, still standing on his two feet, rooted onto the ground. "i will protect him to the best of my abilities and ensure that he remains happy all the time." he makes sure his voice is steady, calm, not too quiet nor not too loud. it may be a big goal, a big stretch, but lan jingyi is almost positive that he's able to achieve and maintain that. this is for lan sizhui, after all. and lan sizhui deserves the best, therefore lan jingyi will make sure he gets the best.



"hm," lan wangji seems to nod at this, in approval. "i will see to it that you do, lan jingyi." and gracefully like he just materialised out of thin air, he disappears behind a closed door and lan jingyi's shoulders visibly slump in relief. 



"oh my god," lan jingyi hisses to himself underneath his breath, feed trudging it's way towards lan sizhui's room, and he opens it without knocking, without thinking, as he closes the door behind him shut and slides down against it with his back, onto the floor. "your dad is scary." he says, face buried in his knees. 



"which one?" lan sizhui's soft voice asks from the bed and it makes lan jingyi lift his head up a little, so his eyes are trained on lan sizhui's figure. 



"you know who." 



"do i?" lan sizhui asks, a bit of the affereffects of the laughing gas inhaled have seemed to died down a little, though it's not to be underestimated, because lan sizhui still gives him this loopy dopey-in-love smile that makes lan jingyi wonder if that face is usually reflected onto his whenever he manages to sneakly steal a glance towards lan sizhui. 



"oh, shut it, you." lan jingyi grumbles, coming off the floor and dusting himself off. "i'll take the floor, yeah? your bed is small, and you need rest." 



lan sizhui seems to frown at that statement, eyebrows pinched together and if lan jingyi were someone else, he probably wouldn't have the thought of thinking that lan sizhui looked cute like this, sitting on the bed with soft silky pyjamas that had little bunny and carrot patterns strewn across. 



"it's not good for your back if you sleep on the floor." lan sizhui says, unaware of how lan jingyi, despite his age and all, has the back pain of a 56 year old. 



"it's just one night, sizhui." 



"no." lan sizhui says, and it's then that lan jingyi realises what wei wuxian meant by 'ah, lans are so stubborn! thankfully you're the most lan to ever un-lan, jingyi, no offense to you. they're so stubborn like a mule, even more than lil' apple! can you believe that?' and although lan sizhui may not be a lan in blood, he seems like one in the flesh and in the soul. he has the soul of a lan, the mind of a wei, and the heart of lan jingyi. 



"i can go sleep on the couch outside?" lan jingyi suggests, running out of ideas. okay, well. there is one idea, but like hell is he going to say it. 



"no." lan sizhui still says, and at this point lan jingyi is a lost hope. 



"then where do you want me to sleep?" lan jingyi asks, slightly exasperated.



"here." lan sizhui simply says, patting on the bed next to him for emphasis and lan jingyi evaporates right on the spot. 



"sizhui, we're not kids anymore, your bed's too small." 



lan sizhui seems to wilt at that, eyes casted downwards and lips jutted out into a devastating pout that errupts butterflies swarming around lan jingyi's heart. "please?" is the ultimate k.o for lan jingyi, especially with the way lan sizhui says that one simple word in a pleading tone, so broken and so raw and vulnerable. 



but, lan jingyi finds the courage to speak his mind, rather than from his heart. "no." he says.



"yes." lan sizhui counters, eyes narrowed. 


















"wait." lan jingyi blinks, glaring accusingly at lan sizhui who stares at him with this passive face, eyes glimmering with satisfaction, a small smirk on his lips, and that's all it takes for lan jingyi to get his revenge, as he pounces onto the bed, knocking lan sizhui into the bed, and suddenly, there's a pillow, and then there's feathers, and they're having a pillow fight in the midst of giggles, and lan jingyi feels like a kid all over again. 



"wait!" lan jingyi says again, bursting out into a fit of giggles, tears escaping out of his eyes as he feels his chest being repeatedly smacked with a soft pillow, and somehow lan jingyi has straddled on top of him, legs crouched on each side of lan jingyi's thighs and. well. isn't this position interesting. 



"oh my god," lan jingyi says, a bit breathless, looking up to see lan sizhui smiling at him, and wow, isn't this a sight to behold. "you cheater." and one more final finishing blow to lan sizhui as he thwacks a pillow on top of the other's head, who squawks in surprise. 



"you can't go back on your word now." lan sizhui says, rolling off of lan jingyi's body, so now they're next to each other, in lan sizhui's little cramped bed, the blanket somehow on the floor, and they lie there, so close, staring up at the ceiling that was glittered with glow in the dark star stickers, the edges starting to fall, and lan jingyi will curse upon the gods up in the sky if one of them just so happens to fall in the middle of the night when he's asleep and snoring, and chokes him to death. 



"i'll kick you in my sleep, and i'll send you sleeping on the floor." lan jingyi warns. 



"i don't mind." lan sizhui calmly states, like it's no big deal.



"i'll hog all the blankets at night and leave you cold." lan jingy continues.



"i don't usually sleep with blankets, i don't mind." 



"i'll cling onto you and wrap my ridiculously cold feet that are like ice blocks around yours and make you wake up." lan jingyi is somehow determined to find at least one reason for lan sizhui to kick him out of his bed, while he still has the chance to. 



"then i'll warm you up." lan sizhui says simply. "i don't mind." 



"mrfgrhgh," lan jingyi takes this chance to hide his face in his hands, mufflling this atrocious godly animal noise that similarly sounded like that one video he saw on youtube after scrolling through his recommendations late at night under the covers at 2am in the morning, with a pufferfish eating a carrot stick and going 'æügh' and lan jingyi has not stopped shoving that video into jin ling's face whenever he gets the chance to, cackling like a maniac at past midnight under the blankets. 



"jingyi?" lan sizhui's concerned voice is somehow miles away, and lan jingyi feels like his head has been dunked underwater, blood rushing to the tip of his ears. 



"yeah," lan jingyi mutters, face still in his hands. "just. give me a minute." 



"okay," lan sizhui says, because he is a kind soul. the matress of the bed dips a little, and then the warmth near lan jingyi slowly dissipates, and he finds himself wanting to whine out a stubborn childish 'no'.  



"whenever you're ready," lan sizhui says, almost softly, and it makes lan jingyi peek an eye out a little from between the small gaps of his fingers, though hands still on his face. he manages to spot a light blue soft hoodie in the corner of his eye, and it makes him raise a suspicious eyebrow at this.



"that's yours?" lan jingyi finds himself asking, crawling towards the edge of the bed. 



"it's—" lan sizhui begins fidgeting for whatever reason, shoulders hunched and lan sizhui just looks so small and tiny like this, lan jingyi wants to cry.



"it's mine," lan sizhui confirms. then, "but, you can have it." 



"sizhui, my birthday is still a couple mouths ahead." lan jingyi points out, slightly lost.



"no, it's— um. yours to wear, for. tonight." lan sizhui manages to struggle to find his words, punctuating them rather with a strained voice. "i want you to sleep comfortably." 



"sizhui, this is—" now it's lan jingyi's turn to be at a lost for words. "your clothes." he finishes, eyes glancing up towards lan sizhui, asking for confirmation. 



"yes." lan sizhui says, rather faintly. 



"and you." lan jingyi begins, voice a little shaky. "want me to wear your clothes." 



"yes." lan sizhui echoes, and lan jingyi is pretty sure his brain has just blown a fuse, because all he does is just gather the soft hoodie in his arms, along with light grey sweatpants. he must've blacked out by then, because when he comes to, he's standing outside lan sizhui's door to his room, but still holding the nightwear the other had lended him. his hand briefly hovered above the doorknob that lead to the bathroom, but then, he hears the faint streams of water from the other side, meaning, someone was inside, taking a shower. and lan jingyi probably should not barge inside. okay. yeah. lan jingyi might be going a little insane, as he abruptly turns away and marches back into lan sizhui's room.



"someone's still in there taking a shower." lan jingyi informs with a loud blurt, surprising lan sizhui who was still in the same place, on the bed.



"oh." is all lan sizhui says. and just when lan jingyi is going to die from the awkwardness in the air suffocating him to death, and he thinks he's going to lighten the mood a little by cracking a lame joke and making lan sizhui smile at him fondly, lan sizhui continues his sentence. "you could change here, if you'd like." 



and that's all it takes for lan jingyi's brain to go flying out the window. 



"but this is your room." lan jingyi finds himself saying.



"yes," lan sizhui says, like there isn't a problem. "i can turn away, if you'd like? or go out of the room." 



lan jingyi seems to be conflicted at this, as it takes a while for the answer to come slipping out of his lips. he really does not want to die of shame today, and it's not like he feels uncomfortable with lan sizhui or anything, but that's exactly what he's thinking. on the other hand, lan sizhui is just trying to be a dear friend, and lan jingyi does not want to mess their friendship up. but he also can't find the heart to tell lan sizhui to flee his own room so he can dress privately, because, after all, this is lan sizhui's room, and lan jingyi feels like he does not have the right to kick the other out of his own room. 



lan sizhui seems to notice the internal struggle and battle going between lan jingyi, and lan jingyi, and lan jingyi was very obviously losing. on both sides. so, he makes the first move, gently getting out of bed, a bit amused to see lan jingyi still in war with his own thoughts. 



"call me when you're done." lan sizhui says softly, and closes the door behind him. 



he does not miss the faint strangled sound coming from lan jingyi's throat as he leans against the wooden door, smiling. 



and on the other side, lan jingyi takes this chance to muffle his yells into the soft hoodie, only to be hit by the overwhelming powerful smell of lan sizhui and okay, call him a weirdo, but lan sizhui smells. relatively good. better than most guys who reek of the stench of sweat and axe body spray.



lan sizhui smells like a hint of sandalwood, and a bit of vanilla and daisies, and lan jingyi knows this well that it can't be physically possible, but lan sizhui smells like earth, like the rays of sun gently hitting one's face and warming the tint of their nose after a cold day, and in short, lan sizhui smells like home.



the moment lan jingyi decides to stop being a creep, he slips the hoodie on his bare figure, quickly changing into the sweatpants, and he is absolutely ruined by the fact that both articles of clothing fit him so snugly, a bit oversized and baggy, but it makes him feel all fuzzy and warm and safe inside. he neatly folds the rumpled dirty clothes into a neat arrangement, on the very corner of lan sizhui's bed, before shuffling over towards the other side of the room, hesitantly turning the door knob to open the door.



what he does not expect, is lan sizhui's body to come tumbling into his chest the second he swings open the door. in a mess and flurry of clothes, and thrown off balance, lan jingyi finds himself in a familiar position, back against the floor as a familiar figure looms over him, long hair tied in a ponytail flowing around his shoulder like a waterfall, giving exposure to the pretty view of the other's flushed ears. 



"uh." lan jingyi says. "hi there?" 



and that makes lan sizhui blink, before even quicker than the speed of light, he picks himself up, a small shy hand extending towards lan jingyi's face, and he accepts the gesture with his own, feeling himself standing on his toes against the wooden floor, thanks to the lulling gravity pull of lan sizhui. 



"sorry," lan sizhui sheepishly murmurs, eyes flickering towards him with utmost sincerity. 



"it's fine," lan jingyi assures, though his mind is filled with a hundred questions marks, of 'what on earth was lan sizhui doing outside there? did he hear him have a mental breakdown in his room? does he know lan jingyi practically shoved his clothes practically down his left nostril like a creep earlier?'  



"it's late," lan jingyi says, instead. "let's go to bed."



and thats literally such a domestic sweet lovey-dovey thing to say, but the thing is, the reality hits him like a brick when honestly, he and lan sizhui are just friends. whatever. 



"don't you want to let your hair down first?" lan sizhui asks.



'aaaa' goes lan jingyi's mind, because there is absolutely no way things can progressively get even more worse than it already is. but then it does. because lan jingyi's luck is that bad.



the moment he raises his arms to pull back the hair tie that was securing his wild ponytail in place, and although his long bang sides are relatively long and wavy, as multiple strands of jet black ink hair pools around his shoulder at mid-length, he could've sworn he saw lan sizhui stare at him with this unreadable expression in his eyes. 



"can i.." lan sizhui trails off. "can i brush your hair for you?" 



and 'AAAAA' goes lan jingyi's mind, as he subconsciously feels himself nod, clambering onto the bed, sitting on his knees, as he feels behind him, the soft mattress underneath his skin dip, accompanied by another weight, and a soft hand parting through the multiple strands and wisps of his hair, and it takes all of lan jingyi's self control to not let shivers creep up his spine. 



"sizhui," lan jingyi finds himself beginning.



"jingyi?" lan sizhui says lan jingyi's name in such a soft sweet way, lan jingyi thinks he doesn't ever want anybody to call his name, if they're not lan sizhui. "is something wrong?" the other asks.



"just, wondering." lan jingyi mumbles, scooching a tiny bit closer, to see lan sizhui's reaction, and he's pleasantly pleased that lan sizhui does not react in the slightest, so that must mean he's comfortable around lan jingyi, or at least, that's what he hopes. "are you still feeling loopy? how's your mouth?" 



"still feeling a bit dizzy, but it's getting better." lan sizhu says, and lan jingyi knows that the other is not lying, because he hardly ever lies. 



"that's good to hear." lan jingyi hums, and leaves it at that. 



in lan jingyi's opinion, getting your hair played with someone else was the absolute best feeling in the world. he does not know why, but the way people touch his hair, especially lan sizhui, is very comforting and stress-relieving. he might as well rank that best feeling along side with whenever you shove a q-tip down the inside of your ears, and although you're probably not supposed to fit tiny things into places deep where you cannot reach, it is a very satisfying yet rebellious feeling. 



he feels as though lan sizhui's hair is the most prettiest and silkiest, the most neatest and and had the most pleasing scent of sandalwood shampoo. lan jingyi often finds himself staring mesmerized at lan sizhui's hair, long and smoothly tied into a high ponytail, swishing back and forth like the movements of wind, as if it were dancing, and perhaps lan jingyi would not mind if lan sizhui's ponytail slaps him in the face and sends him flying across the room. 



lan sizhui is gentle, and lan jingyi has known this fact his friend had carried within his personality over a long time now. lan sizhui is a gentle person, no matter the circumstances. he always smiles softly, gazes at people with this warm look, and speaks oh so tenderly, with no heat to it or no raise in his voice. it's almost like the tone a mother uses to soothe the crying wails of her child with a small lullaby. 



and the way lan sizhui gently parts and sorts through the different tangles and knots in lan jingyi's hair, is gentle and loving, with each brush and each stroke, lan jingyi physically feels himself melt in lan sizhui's arms, and if he were a cat, he'd probably be purring right now. but he isn't no furry, so all he does is lean against lan sizhui's touch, basking in the embrace and preening against the love, blooming like a flower, petals only showing it's beauty towards lan sizhui. 



"sizhui, do you," lan jingyi says, trying to find the words in his mind, but all the letters are jumbled together like a keyboard smash in text and perhaps lan jingyi should think thrice before he ends up losing himself to the comforting relaxing feeling of lan sizhui's fingers carding through his hair, and accidentally blurts out a 'do you want to marry me'



"do you like doing this?" lan jingyi asks, mentally giving himself a fist pump in the air in victory for not embarrassing himself for once. 



the movement in lan sizhui's hands in lan jingyi's hair seemed to have stuttered at that for a few seconds, and lan jingyi practically whines out at the loss of lan sizhui's warm fingers carressing his scalp. "what do you mean?" lan sizhui asks, brushing half of lan jingyi's hair to the side, slung over his shoulder. 



"i mean," lan jingyi gestures with his arms around the room, then to him. "this." he says. "are you okay with this?" 



"why would you think i'm not okay with it?" lan sizhui asks him, and 'goddamnit lan sizhui just answer the question and stop playing mind games', lan jingyi thinks. 



"i don't know." lan jingyi says, helpless. 



lan sizhui seems to hum at this, setting the brush aside and oh how lan jingyi misses the feeling. "it's late," lan sizhui says softly, and it makes lan jingyi subtly glance at the clock and indeed it is, late, at least, for a lan whose bedtime is strictly at 9pm, but lan jingyi is no particular lan, because sometimes he stays up at 2am watching animal videos because they're his only source of serotonin when he is malnourished and losing all hope in humanity. 



it's 8:45 pm.



lan sizhui is already removing his hair tie, neatly keeping it on his desk, waves and miles of long smooth hair tumbling down and brushing against his face, and lan jingyi wants nothing more than to just push the other's hair or tuck a lock of it behind his ear. lan sizhui with his hair tied in a ponytail is iconic and a look, but lan sizhui with his hair down is bound to attract fashion models and may be able to run a commercial for a famous hair shampoo brand like pantene, or whatever. 



somehow lan sizhui has silently teleported to the other side of the room, as he flicks the lights off shut and darkness envelopes the entire room with a blink of an eye. there's the slight shuffling noise of the blanket and lan jingyi assumes it's lan sizhui getting into position, in his usual vampire sleeping position, arms crossed above the chest and body at a straight posture, face staring up at the ceiling. 



quietly, lan jingyi follows suit, curling himself into a little ball as his back turns against lan sizhui, because he wants to make himself as small as possible and this night to be as comfortable for lan sizhui as it can get, and if it means having to practically dangle off the edge of the bed and having to deal with some sort of demon underneath lan sizhui's bed, so be it, because lan sizhui deserves to sleep well tonight, lan jingyi is determined to make it happen just so. 



usually people lay in silence in the dark contemplating about their future, reminded of the embarrassing thing they may have done 2 years ago, even when nobody else remembers it, or thinks about the wonders of the universe, before falling asleep, with eyes closed and calm breaths. but. this is lan jingyi, the most lan to ever un-lan, the lan who never goes to bed at 9pm because sleep is for the weak, and stays up past 2am rewatching that goddamn cursed pufferfish video going 'æügh' — (how do you even pronounce it?) — because it's just so funny and lan jingyi's sense of humor is wack as hell.



the silence stretches on in the room, endless for miles, and it's not that it's uncomfortable in any way, because nothing is uncomfortable, if lan sizhui is involved. the bed is also comfortable, lan jingyi thinks, fingers occassionaly dipping into the mattress, watching it slowly make a dent in the form of his finger, before re-appearing in it's original form, like a sponge bed, or a cheese cake. lan sizhui is an angel, and so he drapes the very large and soft heavenly blanket around their figures, so neither of them gets cold, although lan jingyi might start having doubts by the early rise of the morning, when he may or may not have hogged all the sheets to himself. 



beside him, lan sizhui's breathing has gone steady and quiet, like he's gone asleep, but lan jingyi isn't just sure. and, okay, lan jingyi may have said that he's going to leave lan sizhui alone in order for the other to rest up and heal quicker, but. this is lan jingyi we're talking about. 



and so, quietly and as carefully as a lan jingyi can, he rolls over to the other side, fingers tightly clutching the smooth pillowcase as he stares like a creep once again, mesmerised, eyes tracing from the perfect slope of lan sizhui's nose, —lan jingyi is absolutely positive that lan sizhui does not have pores whatsoever in the slightest, because lan sizhui might as well be marble carved out from the god's creation, and lan jingyi would not be surprised if that's actually true.— to the slide of lan sizhui's cheekbones, down to his neck, —what the hell, how does lan sizhui not sleep having a double chin?— but lan jingyi's eyes always manage to gravitate and hover around lan sizhui's lips.



it's not. a creepy thought to have about a friend, right? lan jingyi thinks. he is absolutely not staring at lan sizhui's lips in a more of a friend kind of way, he is absolutely not. but his eyes always manage to find their way to stare at least 10 seconds longer than per usual at the glossy swipe of lan sizhui's lips, whenever he licks his lips a little. 



it is definitely not creepy in any way whatsoever.



"sizhui," lan jingyi happens to murmur to himself, and it's a surprise to him that lan sizhui stirs a bit, eyes slowly blinking open and glancing over to lan jingyi, who may or may not be breathing right now. 



"jingyi?" lan sizhui says his name in this absolutely godly forbidden raspy voice, what the hell, since when did it get so deep and raspy and— "what's wrong?" —and lan jingyi has to calm down his hormonal thoughts when it comes to lan sizhui because the other is genuinely worried about him and he should give him an answer that does not make him look like a fool in love who is drooling over his best friend's voice.



"did i wake you up?" lan jingyi quietly asks. "sorry." 



"'s fine," lan sizhui mumbles, even though it looks like he's drifting in and out between the realms of the unconscious and the conscious. "can't sleep?" he asks.



"yeah," lan jingyi says, slightly muffled into the pillow, and ew, that's probably so gross, he is pretty sure lan sizhui is close to kicking him off his bed, and it's all his fault. 



"is it too cold?" lan sizhui presses on and before lan jingyi could answer a truthful 'no', there are sudden legs wrapping around his own and he lets out a quiet yelp, as he feels himself being pulled closer to the centre of the bed, literally pressed chest to chest against lan sizhui, the other's face in full view and lan jingyi just. malfunctions. he may not be even functioning at this point. "is that better?" lan sizhui has the audacity to even ask him at this point when all lan jingyi wants to do is flop on the deck like a half-dying fish out of water, mouth gaping and gasping for air.



'no, that doesn't make it any better,'  lan jingyi wants to say, but he can't say that to his dear best friend, who thought of the nice thing to do as a friend, by warming him up and not making him dangle off the edge of the bed like a bait to someone's sleep paralysis demon lurking in the corner of the room. and lan jingyi is absolutely not going to let his feelings and overthining thoughts overwhelm him and ruin his friendship. the world's gonna have to try a lot harder than that to make it happen, because the two of them come together, like a little package, with a small tag that says 'do not separate!' because that's just how inseperable they are. 



"better," lan jingyi says instead, and if he were bold enough, he thinks he may accidentally drop his head into the crook of lan sizhui's shoulder, burying his face there and inhaling the scent of lan sizhui's neck, as the other's chin rests on top of his head, and they fall asleep like that. that would've been nice, but all lan jingyi can do as a coward as of the moment is to just tightly grip the pillowcase within his fingers like a repressed gay person would do, hoarding their feelings for a loved one because they're either bad at communication, or they're a lost hope with their feelings.



"do you want to talk about something?" lan sizhui asks, because bless him, what a kind soul he is, lan jingyi might just cry and get on his knees to pray thanks to the gods that have decided that the two of them lay in bed next to each other in the dark, on a friday night when lan sizhui has just taken his wisdom tooth out. 



"what about?" lan jingyi says, fingers subconsicously gently twirling a small strand of lan sizhui's hair around, and he's thankful that the other does nothing to stop his movements.



"hm," lan sizhui thinks to himself. "21 questions?" he suggests, and lan jingyi snorts out loud.



"ah, dear sizhui," lan jingyi cooes. "we're best friends, the bestest even. i think i already know almost most of the things about you, there's no need for us to play 21 questions like a bunch of young teenagers at a friday night party like we're strangers." 



"the bestest," lan jingyi hears lan sizhui echo his words fondly, and even in the dark, lan jingyi swears he could've seen the slightest twitch of the other's lips curl into a smile. "there's a lot of things you may not know about me, jingyi." lan sizhui then says.



"you've been keeping things from me? from your bestest friend since childhood?" lan jingyi lets out a rather loud over-the-top-dramatic gasp, because he's lan jingyi, what did you expect.



"sorry," lan sizhui mumbles to the dark. "you never asked about them." and if lan jingyi thinks he can squint hard enough, there's a slight shift in movement on lan sizhui's face, as if he's nervously doing that bad habit of gnawing his bottom lip raw like he does, and although that's not an excuse whatsoever since he does do it also, he does not want lan sizhui to bruise and redden his lips into a divine way that is sure to drive lan jingyi feral one day. 



"i just don't want to make you uncomfortable with my dumb questions sometimes, y'know. it's cool to have your own personal space sometimes, i get it." lan jingyi says. there is one particular question he so badly wants to ask lan sizhui, but, he's a coward with hidden feelings, and so he never brings himself forth into the spotlight to ask that question, because what if lan jingyi just gives him this look like, really? and lan jingyi is left to think about it and waking up at 2am in a cold sweat because he thought about it?



"you can ask anything you'd like, i don't mind." lan sizhui assures him, voice quiet, like he's about to drop dead asleep onto his pillow at any minute now, and he's only staying awake past his bedtime because of lan jingyi. 



"okay," lan jingyi swallows, because one day, he's eventually going to have to ask the question because he knows secrets can't be held kept secret and stored away under the rug forever, like one's sexuality, but that's not the point. one day, lan sizhui is going to pry that answer out of him one day, and that may likely be the day when lan jingyi will simply perish and dig himself into his own grave 6 feet underground. 



"but you have to tell me if the question is off-limits, okay? i don't want you to feel uncomfortable just because i was being too nosy in other people's business." lan jingyi warns. 



"you aren't," lan sizhui says.



lan jingyi has to take in a shuddering inhale through his nostrils for a brief second, because, okay, not to be dramatic or anything, but he may or may not be having a breakdown in lan sizhui's bed when it's past 9pm on a friday night. right. okay. he can do this, he is lan jingyi, lan jingyi can do whatever he wants to, he is fearless, only with the exception of scary stories involving ghosts, because he just can not.



"do you like anybody?" and there. lan jingyi has finally asked the question, and now he can finally rest in peace and pieces as he goes ascending into heaven, or descending to hell, he doesn't even really know anymore. 



"i like everybody," lan sizhui answers simply, and every single cell in lan jingyi's body wants to make him slam his head against the floor and wail like an injured animal, possibly practicing a very badly imitated humpback whale's mating call. 



"no," lan jingyi says. "i meant, as in like-like." 



even in the dark, lan jingyi can easily read lan sizhui's features, especially with the way he pictures lan sizhui's eyebrows furrowed together a little adorably, a little confusedly, like a lost puppy.



"oh my god, sizhui, you know. the L-word." 



"loss?" lan sizhui asks, and lan jingyi wants to scream.



"i love that you're catching onto memes, but no." lan jingy states, a bit fondly. "i meant, as in love." 



lan sizhui goes dead silent at this, and that's when lan jingyi knows he's fucked up. "you don't have to answer, it's okay." he quickly babbles, trying to cover up the fact that he ever said that question. "it's personal information, i get it, i was just being curious after all, i know it's annoying when you get asked that questions, hell, i even remember those annoying kids back in elemtary school that day when all they did was play truth or dare and when you picked a dare, they dared you to tell who your crush was, and if you picked truth, because, you know, if you're a chicken like jin ling, they'll still make you tell the truth if you have a crush or not and who it is. it's annoying, i get it, sizhui, you don't have to—" 



"jingyi." lan sizhui quietly says, and lan jingyi shuts up. 



"sorry, sorry, i'm rambling again aren't i? talking your ear off, ah, i wonder how you put up with people like me, sizhui, sorry about that, you don't have to answer it anymore, and i'm rambling again, aren't i? ah, you really need to learn how to tell others and especially me when to shut up sometimes, it could be useful." lan jingyi can practically feel his body tingle with heat and he's grateful for the dark that's probably most likely covering the blush rushing to his face, down to the tip of his toes. 



"won't," lan sizhui says, voice oddly sounding like he's trying to quietly muffle the noises of him yawning, and lan jingyi thinks it's adorable and so considerate of his friend. "you apologize a lot." lan sizhui adds.



"does that," lan jingyi pauses for a bit, trying to re-collect his thoughts. "bother you?"



"a little," lan sizhui admits, voice heavy and thick with sleep. "you should not be apologizing for the things that aren't in your fault." 



and oh, goes lan jingyi's mind. he swallows. yeah, okay, he guesses he'll try to follow lan sizhui's advice, to appease his friend's wishes, because it's the least thing he can do as a friend whose hiding feelings away from them. "sorry," he says. and then he realises it. "ah, shit, i just said that again." 



"no profanities." lan sizhui's voice trails off, and it's that tell-tale sign that makes lan jingyi realise that he should probably shut up and let his friend get his well deserved good-night rest. 



"alright," lan jingyi mumbles. "still, sorry." 



"no need." lan sizhui's voice is as equally quiet.



"goodnight, sizhui." lan jingyi says, and when lan sizhui does not respond, he knows that the other has fallen deep asleep, and so, he uses this oppurtunity to scooch just a little bit closer, with their legs still entangled around each other, under the sheets of lan sizhui's bed, and briefly, with just a small touch, because lan jingyi cannot control himself, he raises a finger to lightly brush against the other's soft cheeks, tucking a lock of hair behind his ear, so that the strands do not fall over his face and disrupt his sleep. 



out of all the types of lan sizhui's that lan jingyi gets to see on a daily basis, whether it'd be lan sizhui in the morning, with his long hair illuminating within the beams of sun rays, or during p.e, when lan sizhui is trotting up to him with a small smile on his face, hair sticking to his cheeks with sweat dampening his forehead, or lan sizhui's concentrated face, eyebrows drawn together as he chews on his pencil, filling in multiple choice bubbles in the middle of the exam when lan jingyi is supposed to be also taking the test, but lan sizhui is more important than his education at the moment, so he steals a quick few glances at his friend, because he's just good looking when he's concentrated, that's all! 



out of all the types of lan sizhui's that lan jingyi has had the chance to see, the oppurtunity to stare and oogle a bit, he thinks he has to choose that lan sizhui's sleeping face is the most priceless of all, worth more than thousands of riches and jewels. it may be because lan sizhui looks so innocent and vulnerable, whenever his eyes are closed, lips slightly parted and cheek a bit puffy since he just had his wisdom teeth removed. it may also be because lan jingyi is probably one of the very few people who gets to see lan sizhui like this, asleep and murmuring sweet nothings into his ear like reassurances, when they're huddled underneath the covers of the bed, limbs entangled and breathing into each other's spaces. 



and lan jingyi hopes that he'll continue to be one of the only few people who gets to see his best friend like this, and he wonders, how many more days and nights will have to come by for him to witness this sweet scenery in front of him again, whether he'll have to wait for another couple months, a whole decade, or a whole other lifetime when he somehow manages to meet lan sizhui again, and has to accompany him to the dentist whenever he gets another wisdom teeth removal. 



there's a slight disappointing feeling sinking into his gut when he realises, this may be the last chance and oppurtunity he's able to catch a glimpse at lan sizhui's peaceful sleeping features, and so, as the clock ticks seconds by and the outside streets are lit quiet, and the other half of the world may be awakening into the new day and getting on with their lives and responsibilities, lan jingyi decides to remain unmoving, as time goes by. he wants to savour this moment, for as long as he can, watching the steady rise and fall of lan sizhui's chest, the soft parting breaths between lan sizhui's lips. 



he doesn't know how long he's been memorising every trace and curve of lan sizhui's sleeping features like a creep that he is, but eventually, his eyelids do become heavier, as he's mesmerised and lulled by the comfort of lan sizhui's prescence beside him. within the multiple nights of lan jingyi sleeping, ranging from when he was a kid and had to clamber into his parent's bedroom because the book shelf in the corner of his room in the dark looked oddly like the shape of a demon, in his defense, and to when he finally could spend the first nights sleeping alone in his room, but still having his door slightly creaked open, because he is a coward, what about it. lan jingyi finds himself thinking that, perhaps lying in lan sizhui's bed on a friday night when it's most likely past midnight by now, with their faces right next to each other and so close that lan jingyi is pretty sure he can count the number of pretty long eyelashes on lan sizhui's eyelids, this might be his most favorite way to fall asleep, beside the boy who holds and keeps his heart till the end of time and under the sheets like they're kids again, with the multiple glow-in-the-dark star stickers gleaming down on them, like they're falling asleep out in the open meadow, stargazing up into the navy blue night. 



and lan jingyi ends up falling asleep like that.



________. ꒰ 🍃 ꒱ .________



usually when lan sizhui awakens, he expects the rays of sunshine to gently shine through the blinds of his room, illuminating the world with a new light of a brand new day, with perhaps a few birds chriping out of his window, singing tunes or acting as an alarm clock at 5am in the morning, with the sounds of bycicle ring bells chiming by, the newspaper man delivering newpapers by rolling them tightly before throwing them out on each house's doorstep. 



but it's really out of his expectations once he realises that the blankets are comfortably warm, and he's almost about to doze off into sleep until he realises that it is indeed not 5am, because the sounds of birds chirping have long gone, and it's like the world seems more awake rather than when it's 5am, and the sun is shining obnoxiously into his eyes, and there's a numbing pain in the back of his gums. and beside him, lays a sleeping body.



lan sizhui practically almost falls off the bed.



he doesn't though, but it does take him by surprise, seeing lan jingyi's —(how did he even get here?)— peaceful sleeping face, lips pouted a bit and eyebrows scrunched up, and it's like he's painted by dreams, hair down and tickling down his cheeks, and when lan sizhui lifts the blankets a bit to see why he can't fall off the bed without struggling, his soul flies out of his body, staring at his legs being held and clung tight by lan jingyi's own smaller ones, and it's like lan jingyi is begging him to not go, with how hard the smaller lan's leg grip is holding him by. 



'okay,' lan sizhui hysterically thinks. 'what in the world?'



and there he is, sitting on the bed, leaning against one of the propped up pillows, on a saturday that was way past 5am, staring down at lan jingyi's sleeping figure, as he's practically being held captive from lan jingyi's legs that are unwilling to let go. 



'what happened last night?' lan sizhui finds himself thinking, lost in thought as he tries to the best of his capabilities to back-track everything he's managed to do so far.



it's obvious from the tell-tale sign of throbbing pain in lan sizhui's lower right jaw, that he had his wisdom teeth removed, probably. or he may or may not have provoked some random stranger and got into a fist fight, but the latter is highly unlikely. 



beside him, lan jingyi seems to have stirred more, possibly from how the sunbeams shining between the blinds have intensified, filling the room with more light, and although lan sizhui swore he just cleaned his entire room a few days ago, there's dust seemed to have been floating in the air, creating a sort of halo around lan jingyi's sleeping figure, making him look almost angelic.



and then when lan sizhui's eyes travel a little more downward, he feels his throat run dry, eyeing his own article of clothing snugly hugged against lan jingyi's body and oh my god, of course lan sizhui had visions and daydreams of lan jingyi wearing his clothes sometimes, of how he would look small and how he would drown in his clothes, sweater paws coming up to wave at him, but of course, that was only just little snippets of his imagination. but. this is real life, and with a quick pinch to his wrist, it's a confirmation that indeed, lan sizhui is not dreaming, and lan jingyi is sleeping on his bed inside his room, wearing his clothes. 



there's a soft whine tumbling from lan jingyi's lips and it's the exact same moment lan sizhui's heart decides to do a painful yearning clench. and then lan jingyi's eyes blink open, almost slowly and owlishly, like how when cats slowly blink at you as a sign of trust and affection, and lan sizhui finds himself blinking back. 



"g'morning," lan jingyi greets, with a slight small yawn, stretching his limbs about and although that might seem like an innocent action that most people do when they wake up, it does things to lan sizhui's mind. 



it does not help the situation whatsoever when the blankets fall off lan jingyi's body when he sits up, and then automatically, lan sizhui's eyes centre onto the bare open pale skin, exposed and welcomed in the air as lan sizhui's own light blue hoodie slightly falls off lan jingyi's shoulder when he moves just in the slightest way, showing the skin of his shoulder, and if lan sizhui's eyes travel a bit further than necessary, he can see the visible collarbones poking out, showing amazing bone structure.



lan sizhui's mind literally blows a fuse, and somewhere in the distance he can hear the faint explosion sound a mile away, blood rushing to his ears.



and so, he does the only logical thing that comes up to his mind at the moment. 


he bolts.



briefly, he can hear lan jingyi's confused voice calling after him as he practically flees at the speed of light, covering his mouth with his hand as he tries to calm his breathing down. he ends up booking it straight into the kitchen, trying to find answers, because food is on top of the list that comforts him, and also, to find his fathers and demand them— no, kindly ask them for answers but of course, the universe still hates him and lan sizhui's fathers are no where to be found. 



there is, however, a little bright yellow sticky-note on the fridge, as if mocking him, with wei wuxian's messy handwriting scribbled into some lines, and although lan sizhui has to squint in order to make out what his father exactly wrote, he knows it's something along the lines of wei wuxian wishing him luck with his little crush, because of course, wei wuxian must have realised this perfect oppurtunity to grab his husband and probably go —make out— take a walk in the park, leaving lan sizhui and lan jingyi alone, and with their feelings. 



behind him, he can hear faint footsteps growing louder as he prepares for battle, dashing behind one of the couches, head only peeking out in the slightest, fingers tightly clutching a random pillow that seemed to have been lying down near him for convenience. a few seconds later, enter lan jingyi who bends down to clutch his knees, practically wheezing, hair still down and slung over his shoulder and he looks absolutely breathless —quite literally— like this. 



"why are you chasing me?" lan sizhui asks, from his hiding spot.



lan jingyi snaps his head up, raising an eyebrow to glance at where lan sizhui was currently ducking in shame behind the couch. "why are you running?" 



at the moment his mind can only think of that one meme lan jingyi had sent in his messages, of a sort of meme? vine? he doesn't even spend enough time on the internet to know what it was. he just knows it some sort of funny video where it makes lan jingyi smile and giggle for the clouds in the sky to part way for the rays of sunshine to shine down upon him. it was a video of a girl? lan sizhui doesn't remember, all he could remember was the video playing and the girl running away and screaming, occassionaly looking back as the camera is shakily blurry, with the loud voice of a man behind the phone, yelling, 'why are you running?' repeatedly. and somehow the internet has a weird taste in humor, as it quickly blew up and became a popular internet sensation, and to this day, lan sizhui does not know how it's funny in any way. 



in retaliation, and because lan sizhui is embarrassed right down to the core at the moment he realised that he literally just woke up and it's way past 5 and he hasn't brushed his teeth yet or combed his hair, —there's probably eye-boogers crusting in his eyes right now, and the piercing sharp pain aching in his jaw is back again, making his cheek puff at an ungodly size, swelling like resembalance of a chipmunk's stuffed cheeks full of nuts— lan sizhui throws a pillow at lan jingyi, who fumbles to catch it before it can land on his face.



"sizhui, what—" 



lan sizhui throws another pillow. 



"sizhui!" lan jingyi yells, as he blocks another pillow with his arms up to his face. "stop throwing pillows, i'm not going to attack you!" 



"you were chasing me!" lan sizhui equally says in a loud tone, because his parents aren't here right now, and he's literally having a pillow fight with his crush on a saturday morning, what's new, and also the words out of his lips sound muffled since his cheek is so swollen, he has to raise a few decibels of his voice a tone louder, so hopefully lan jingyi can understand what he's saying underneath those thick layers of nonsense. 



"you ran away from me first!" lan jingyi shouts, and then grabs the pillow that was on the floor, that lan sizhui has thrown, and tosses it back to lan sizhui's hiding spot, where he luckily ducks just in time, as a pillow sends flying past his head, into a new dimension. 



lan sizhui knows he cannot keep this up for too long. eventually the pillows are going to end up all over the place and he just knows that his fathers aren't going to be happy when they come home to find their place absolutely trashed. well, lan sizhui's pretty sure that one of his fathers is going to end up making him copy the rules as a punishment, while one of his fathers is probably going to burst out laughing in amusement, rolling on the floor. 



his eyes dart back down the hallway, into his room. 



and before he even has time to plan how to manage to quickly bolt past lan jingyi, all thoughts spring out of his head as he feels a light weight collide from his back, sending him tumbling against the nearest wall, where he finds two arms roughly slamming beside him, against the wall, and lan sizhui stares with wide eyes, down at lan jingyi whose hair was tussed up into a messy bed-head style that makes lan sizhui go weak in the knees, eyebrows furrowed, and panting, as if he were slightly out of breath from chasing lan sizhui down the halls.



the position is— well, quite awkward if you were to stumble upon the scene, seeing lan sizhui flat against the wall onto his back, with lan jingyi cornering him with both arms, and although lan jingyi may be shorter, his stance practically screams intimidating. but, this is lan sizhui, and he can never find lan jingyi intimidating, in fact, he finds it quite endearing how lan jingyi's eyes seemed to have narrowed in suspision. 



"um," lan sizhui finds himself saying. 



"why were you running away from me?" lan jingyi cuts off his statement without an effort, slicing down any room for questions. "do i have something on my face, is that it? do i look that horrifying in the morning when i haven't washed up?" 



"no," lan sizhui immediately says. 



"then why were you running?" lan jingyi asks. 



"i—" lan sizhui does not know how to respond appropriately to this question. what should he even say? that his best friend was sending him flying into gay panic mode so early —okay it's probably not that early— in the morning? that lan jingyi looks so good in his clothes and lan sizhui wants the other to always wear his clothes and smell like him? that lan jingyi, having him cornerned into a wall, with hair tousled and shiny pink lips parting out small pants, looks breathtaking like this? 



"what exactly," lan sizhui quietly says. "happened last night?" 



"you don't remember?" lan jingyi asks, voice somehow oddly sounding like he was disappointed.



"not really, at least not that i can recall." and then there's this dreading fear bubbling up in lan sizhui's chest as he realises, 'oh god, what exactly did i do last night?'  had he done something embarrassing? said something he wasn't supposed to say? his mind goes running off miles a minute as he searches into lan jingyi's dark eyes, as if they would have the answers for him.



"you clung onto my feet yesterday when i dropped you back to your home," lan jingyi starts off, and there goes lan sizhui's will to live. "and you wanted me to stay, and said that we could have a sleepover." and lan sizhui just. cannot believe that his drugged self managed to pull off that stunt, oh my god, he is going to merge with the wood floors and never reappear into the face of the earth ever again. 



"i wanted to sleep on the floor, or take the couch for the night, but you insisted that we slept on your bed together." lan jingyi says, carefully, like there's nothing wrong and gay about having your best friend of years since childhood, sleep together in your bed when you just got your wisdom teeth removed, and it's a friday night and they're not 5 feet apart. "we had a pillow fight for a bit, because you tricked me into accidentally agreeing to sleep in your bed with you." lan jingyi admits. 



there's vivid memories flashing into lan sizhui's brain and oh my god lan jingyi was telling the truth. it's like a hangover, like how wei wuxian explains to him, when the consequences of your actions come flooding back to you with a single snap of one's fingers, and the weight of the guilt and horror is practically pulling you down into the mantle core of the earth. he remembers feeling warm, feeling content, having lan jingyi mumble and whisper into his ear as they lay side by side in the dark, and then there's the vision of him pulling lan jingyi closer to his embrace, because the other was cold, or something like that. 



"is there," lan sizhui says, voice slightly high pitched. "anything else?" 



because if there is anything else embarrassing to add to the weight of lan sizhui's guilt and horror, he is positively sure that he will never live this one out. 



"that's a quick summary of what just happned last night," lan jingyi says, and the shoulders of lan sizhui visibly slump in relief. and yet, "but," lan jingyi continues, and lan sizhui's shoulders tense up once again. 'there is more, isn't there,' is what lan sizhui's mind braces for. 



"i had an epiphany last night." lan jingyi mumbles, and it's oddly weird how there's a sweet touch of blush sprawled across lan jingyi's cheeks, painting them a light strawberry pink. "and you—" lan jingyi quite looks in pain to have said that. "—you have to listen, okay? it'll sound ridiculous. and. it is, but you have to listen until i'm finished, okay? because i've just worked up the courage to say this now and it's been years and i've wanted to say it for so long, and i know i'll probably never avoid it in the end, so i'm just gonna say it here." 



lan sizhui is looking so hard right now.



"sizhui," lan jingyi says his name like a prayer, and lan sizhui might just melt right here right now. "you're— a really nice friend. a good one, the bestest even." and the praise goes right straight through lan sizhui's heart, warming it like how someone adds more wood for the fire to feed and burn. "and i'm really grateful for you putting up with me, for all this time, i know it must be hard, so thank you." 



lan sizhui makes a soft noise in disagreement, and also why does lan jingyi sound like he almost wants to — stop being friends with him? did lan sizhui do something wrong? did he say something that offended the other? 



"i don't deserve you," lan jingyi continues. "you're like — the best, i know i keep saying that, but you really are. and. i'm the most unlan to ever have lan'd and you're the son of lan wangji and wei wuxian and i'm just, someone." 



there's this heart-fallen look in lan jingyi's eyes as he refuses to meet lan sizhui's own ones, and lan sizhui feels something inside him break a little. 


is this what lan jingyi really thinks of himself? 



"i find myself asking to myself how on earth are you friends with me, because it just doesn't seem physically possible. you deserve the best, sizhui, and only the best. and i. keep trying to be the best for you, since, it's what you deserve, and all. but i know i can never achieve that level of perfect, i can't ever be on your level." 



"jingyi.." lan sizhui finds himself saying, something in his chest aching as he spots the familiar glossy-eyed look lan jingyi always gets when he's about to sob uncontrollably about some sappy love scene in a k-drama he's just finished watching.



"let me finish," lan jingyi reminds him, and so he nods. "i'm ranting again." lan jingyi says, laughing a laugh that doesn't quite seem to match his crest-fallen expression on his face. 



"i'm gonna say this, only once, and you have to listen carefully, okay?" lan jingyi carefully says, eyes glancing up to lan sizhui, looking at him with this oh so vulnerable glint in his eyes, and so lan sizhui nods silently. "okay," lan jingyi mumbles, taking a deep breath. "okay." he repeats.



"you can think i'm weird. you can say i'm so ridiculous, so dumb, how do i even have the face to say this to you. and you can say that, and i'll take it. you can kick me out from the door and i'll pick myself up and walk away. if you don't want to talk to me, i won't. i don't ever want to make you feel uncomfortable, sizhui. and if you want me to stop saying your name, then i'll stop saying it too." 



that's literally the number 1 thing lan sizhui never wants lan jingyi to do. he finds himself selfishly wanting every day that lan jingyi would always turn to him, always smile at him, always talk to him. even if lan jingyi does the most unpredictable and somehow managed to offend the lan elders in a single night without lan sizhui's supervision, lan sizhui still doesn't think that he'll ever be able to kick lan jingyi out of his life, no matter how hard he tries to. he is stubborn, he knows that, often having heard from his father, wei wuxian, saying that he resembles lan wangji so much. 



because lans only fall in love once, after all. 



"i," lan jingy says. "i like you, like a lot, a whole ungodly amount, lan sizhui. i like when you talk to snowball in your tiny high pitched voice, and when you ridiculously stuff way too many fried chicken in your lunchbox for me to eat at lunch, and when you help me do homework and chastise me whenever i'm breaking a rule, and you always cover for me. and i like it when you smile and when you laugh, whether it's you laughing with me or at me, i don't really care. i like you a lot, sizhui, i don't know if it's obvious or not, but i really do. i think i have for quite some time now." 



saucers cannot have been compared to the width of lan sizhui's eyes at the moment, as he stares, at lan jingyi. he's not even sure if he's breathing anymore at this point, and the thing is, he should be used to the way lan jingyi has taken away his breath from his lungs on a daily basis, but the other just keeps surprising him in so many new ways, he doesn't even have time to recover from the previous attack before lan jingyi once again, sends his soul plummeting from 21 feet above sea level. 



"sizhui," lan jingyi quietly says. "say something." he pleads. 



at the moment, lan sizhui cannot find himself searching for words, so he takes them into actions instead. with shaky fingers gently reaching up to untie the straight pristined white cloth of his forehead ribbon wrapped around his head, he gently thumbs the fabric, running fingers between any wrinkles in them, in his palms. 



"sizhui?" lan jingyi asks.



lan sizhui still says nothing, as he glances at lan jingyi in the eyes with so many emotions he is unable to convey right now at the moment, hoping the other realises what he means to say. 



silently, with a thousand words unsaid, lan sizhui gently wraps his forehead ribbon around lan jingyi's wrist, hoping that the thousand of words unsaid, goes heard by the other, who now stares down at his wrist, tightly wrapped around lan sizhui's own forehead ribbon. 



"sizhui, this is—" lan jingyi glances between the forehead ribbon around his wrist, then back to lan sizhui, then back again. 



"i know we're both lans, and we're family, so we're technically allowed to briefly touch one another's forehead ribbons, but you should save this for your loved one." lan jingyi protests, and lan sizhui has never fallen so in love and so hard before. 



"do you remember," lan sizhui finally finds himself recollecting his soul and piecing them back together as he gathers his words. "when you found me underneath the school tree at recess outside when we were still kids in elementary?" 



"sizhui, i can hardly remember what i ate yesterday." lan jingyi says.



"i was alone that day, and was holding some random kid's ball that was not mine." lan sizhui slowly continues. "and you came to me, sat next to me. and you said that i lacked of love, and you gently shoved me in the chest that day, and said, that you gave me your love. and when i finally had enough love received, i had to return it to you." 



"oh," lan jingyi mumbles faintly. "you remembered." 



"thanks to you," lan sizhui says, voice dripping like warm honey. "i had enough love, and i had gained so much throughout the years, because of you." 



"i hardly did anything." lan jingyi weakly answers. 



"you gave me your love," lan sizhui tenderly adds. "you gave me your love when i was running low, and you said that i had to treasure it and keep it safe, so i could return it to you." 



bravely, and because he wanted to do this for oh so long now, lan sizhui finds the courage to gently brush a lock of lan jingyi's let down hair behind his reddening ears. "lan jingyi," lan sizhui says, heart blooming with love as he watches the other glance up into his eyes. "i must ask you for this selfish request of mine that i hope you will indulge in." 



"you can take my kidney without permission and i'll say thank you." lan jingyi admits, and that punches out a little huff of laugh from lan sizhui's lips. 



"i have received a lot of love right now as of the moment. yet, your love is the only thing i have ever truly started off with." hesitantly, lan sizhui has to take a breather before he continues. "i want," he carefully says. "to keep your love. for as long as you'll let me and for long as time will have me." 



lan jingyi stares at lan sizhui with this unreadable expression in his eyes, but the other makes no move or no noise to make lan sizhui stop, so he continues, letting the words he wanted to say for so long, tumble out of his lips like an overflowing waterfall. 



"it is selfish," lan sizhui admits. "to take away something that is yours, because i want to keep it." 



"sizhui," lan jingyi's voice audibly cracks a little around the edges.



"will you let me?" lan sizhui quietly asks.



"oh my god," lan jingyi says.






"no, oh my god, wait. you can't just — oh my god." lan jingyi seems to have been lost in a repeated mantra of the words 'oh my god' and lan sizhui wonders if he's stunned the other into silence with his long over-due confession. 






"no." lan jingyi firmly says. "shut up. i am literally having a stroke here, and you are not helping." 



"i apologize." 



"no, don't apologize and make me feel even worse, oh my god, sizhui." 






"sizhui," lan jingyi cuts off his sentence for the nth time, and lan sizhui does not even have the heart to remind the other gently about the rule of no cutting other's sentences off. "did you," lan jingyi says. "mean all of that? what you just said." 



a curt nod. "i did." 



"oh my god," lan jingyi quietly whispers to himself, slightly hysterically.



"wait — this." lan jingyi glances back at lan sizhui's forehead ribbon wrapped around his wrist. "you—" lan jingyi looks back at lan sizhui with this lost expression in his eyes. "please tell me this is a confession and i'm not left with one-sided love and left to die forever alone in my shame, because. sizhui, this is your forehead ribbon." 



lan sizhui hums in confirmation, the obvious question of 'okay, and?' resonating in his tone, that goes unsaid. 



"sizhui, you gotta give me something to work with here," lan jingyi desperately pleads, and somehow they're sitting on the floor now, and lan jingyi is practically almost climbing onto his lap, and lan sizhui does not resist, as he gives in to the instinct of wanting to keep lan jingyi close to his embrace as close as possible. 



"you have to say it, for me to understand it. because. you know, i'm a gremlin with half a functioning braincell." lan jingyi says, and lan sizhui makes a small disapproving noise in the back of his throat. 



"do you want me to say the L word to you, lan jingyi?" lan sizhui calmly says, and lan jingyi quickly shuts up after that. 



"are you telling me to take the L, as in loss, and go home with a broken heart and tear-stained cheeks?" lan jingy asks.



lan sizhui finds himself shaking his head out of fondness. "the other one." lan sizhui says, eyes boring into lan jingyi's own round orbs, filled with raw emotion. 



"lan jingyi," lan sizhui mumbles. "i am in love with you." he says, like it's a warning. 



somewhere in the distance, he can make out a sort of pained animal noise keening in lan jingyi's throat as the other is left at a loss of words. 



"oh my god." lan jingyi says, tears glistening in his eyes, and lan sizhui wants nothing more to just gently wipe the crystal tears away from the other's eyes, brushing his lips against each of his eyelids, as a gesture of reassurance and saying, 'it's okay, i'm here'. 



"wait," lan jingyi gasps between sobs now. "tell me i'm dreaming. pinch me. oh my god do something, this has to be a dream, this cannot be happening, what in the ever loving fu—" 



and lan sizhui does the unthinkable, the irresistable, as he lunges forward, and captures lan jingyi's lips with his own, cutting the other's sentence off. 



it's clumsy at first, judging from the angle, and lan sizhui does end up awkwardly pressing his lips stiffly against the corner of lan jingyi's mouth. and when he realises that what he's done is literally the most embarrassing thing he has to have done so far in his life, he quickly pulls away, ears flaming a hot red. 



"oh," lan jingyi says in this quiet voice of wonder, and there's no heat or exclamation of surprise to his tone or anything, and it makes lan sizhui wonder if he's messed his first kiss up. 



"you love me." lan jingyi continues, staring at lan sizhui in a way that has to be illegal, with the way his cheeks are all flushed red, lips tinting a glossy pink, looking like he just sauntered out from one of lan sizhui's daydreams. 



"i do." lan sizhui confirms with a small nod, feeling quite a bit breathless himself. his heart gives a little thump to know that there's a slight possibility that he gets to say those exact same two words again, when he's standing at the alter one day, seeing lan jingyi dazzling the room with his smile, walking down the aisle to meet him, and—



"and i love you." lan jingyi says, and does that do things to lan sizhui's poor fragile heart. 



"you said you had an epiphany yesterday," lan sizhui finds himself quietly asking. "you realised you loved me yesterday?" 



there's the familiar, fond, weak giggle slipping past lan jingyi's lips as he loops his arms around lan sizhui's neck, and they're so close, lan sizhui is pretty sure that the other can feel his thundering heart beating against his blood vessels, blood roaring to the tip of his ears, tinting them a lovely pink.



"i loved you everyday, sizhui." 



and oh, lan sizhui thinks.


well, isn't that just something that brings a smile upon his face. 



________. ꒰ 🌙 ꒱ .________



they find themselves still laying on the floor, limbs sprawled out in different directions like a starfish, and if this is how lan sizhui finds himself waking up to every morning with a lan jingyi beside him, even on the dirty floor, he thinks he'll be okay with that. 



"when did you realise?" lan jingyi quietly asks from beside him, as they lay side by side, staring up at the plain white ceiling.






"when did you realise," lan jingyi repeats, a bit embarrassed. "you know," a vague hand wave. "when you fell in love with me." he finishes off in a quiet voice.



lan sizhui thinks way way back to the time when they first met, when every little single action revolving around lan jingyi made his heart flutter on the inside, when lan jingyi would walk him home every day after school, back and forth, even in bad weathers, and that made his heart do somersaults at least 90% of the time. he thinks back to when lan jingyi would shove snowball the rabbit, into his face whenever he visited lan jingyi after school to do a study session together. he thinks of all the type of lan jingyi's he's met throughout the years, the lan jingyi's he's learned to get to know of, to spend time with, and to fall in love with every single one. 



"when you laughed," lan sizhui says. "i knew." 






"when did you?" lan sizhui turns to ask. 



"i'm not sure," lan jingyi admits, fingers fiddling with lan sizhui's white forehead ribbon that was still enclosed around his wrist. "i think i have been in love for a long time, i only just realised it recently, or something. but, when you called me 'a-yi', you know. yeah. that's when i started having those feelings." 



"a-yi," lan sizhui immediately blurts out, only to have been hit by a pillow once again. 



"stop," lan jingyi hisses out, though his eyes mean love and content. "i am not giving you another excuse to tease me, do not be homophobic, a-yuan." 



"that's not—" lan sizhui begins, shoving the pillow off his face.



"don't be homophobic!" lan jingyi chimes, with giggles, and lan sizhui feels himself falling head over heels with that laugh again.



the laughter slowly dies down, and soon it's just the two of them gently looking into each other's eyes, as they find themselves lost in a new world, where time slows for just the two of them, and the sounds of other people simply cease to exist. there are a thousand words unspoken, and yet the both of them clearly hear each other's thoughts, because between the two of them, it always has been like that. 



"we could've had this from the very start," lan jingyi quietly says, fingers twirling around a random stray hair from lan sizhui. then, "last night," lan jingyi suddenly mentions, and it has lan sizhui perking up like a puppy seeing it's owner for the first time in the past 20 minutes, because dogs are oddly sweet like that. "i asked you who you liked, as in loved." 



"what about it?" lan sizhui asks, a bit confused. yes, he did recall that memory, when he was trying to recollect the broken shambles of his self esteem earlier from when lan jingyi had him cornered against the wall. 



"you could've told me earlier." lan jingyi quietly says, and it's obvious by the tone of his voice that he's pouting, and lan sizhui's heart does a little love clench at that.



"i did, last night." lan sizhui calmly replies, and there's a loud 'WHAT?' coming from lan jingyi.



"when?" lan jingyi asks, eyebrows drawn up, irritated. "you fell asleep before me, i don't recall you telling me that at all." 



lan sizhui raises a fond unimpressed eyebrow. "when you asked me who i loved, and then you started rambling." he slowly says, as if trying to reboot lan jingyi's memory. "and then i said your name." 



"wait." lan jingyi immediately sits up. "wait, oh my god. i'm an idiot." 



"you are not." lan sizhui gently says, but his words go unheard by the other.



"oh my god," lan jingyi repeats, and it's quite hard to keep track of how many times lan jingyi has said that phrase for the hundredth time, and lan sizhui is pretty sure that the god himself up high in the clouds might just come down and ask lan jingyi what on earth was wrong, since the other always seemed to have chanted for the god's appearance, at any given moment in time. 



"i thought you were just saying my name to get me to shut up." lan jingyi says, a bit hysterically.



"i had to wait a whole night in order for this—" lan jingyi gestures around wildly with his arms. "to happen?" he asks, although it seems like he's directing the question to himself. "i could've had this earlier? and i couldn't, because i was being an absolute idiot?" 



lan jingyi is covering his face with his hands now, a thing lan sizhui notices that the other always does whenever he does something embarrassing, or in lan jingyi's words, 'getting ready to put on his clown suit and clown nose and march into the circus.' 



"jingyi," lan sizhui says.



"no," lan jingyi stubbornly whines, turning away from him. "don't look at me, i'm a literal fool." 



"jingyi," lan sizhui tries again.



"stop saying my name, i am no longer that person. who is lan jingyi? nope, never heard of them." 



"jingyi," lan sizhui tenderly rolls the other's name between his tongue like a prayer, gently moving closer towards the other as he sits up, carefully uncurling lan jingyi's fingers one by one that covered his face, until his hands were intertwined with smaller, warmer ones. and it was like slowly coaxing out a little flower that was still hesitant to bloom in spring, gently uncurling it's petals so that it can show it's beauty off into the world, for it to be seen and appreciated, and loved. 



"i do not mind waiting," lan sizhui says softly. "and i do not mind waiting longer than this." 



there's a little punched out sound coming from lan jingyi, who slowly shakes his head, wild curls of hair bouncing and swaying in the air.



"sizhui, you need to stop saying so many cheesy things out loud so easily, it is giving me heart problems." lan jingyi whines in a childish voice and there's a small tug against the corner of lan sizhui's lips. 



"then i will simply have to revive you with cpr," lan sizhui says easily, huffing at lan jingyi's wail in the background. "i have waited for so long to say these things, and now that i can, i am not holding back, jingyi." 



"oh my god," lan jingyi wheezes out, like a dying fish. "don't give me another reason to fall deeper in love with you, sizhui." he warns. "don't give me another reason to kiss you this time." 



"i would not mind that," lan sizhui hums.



"sizhui, i meant kiss, as in, you know." the flustered blush on lan jingyi's cheeks are back again, and lan sizhui thinks it's quite a great look on the other. "tongue-to-tongue action." 



and now it's lan sizhui's turn to flush a scarlet red. "oh," he says, a bit breathless. 



"would you still mind that?" lan jingyi asks, a bit hesitantly. 



"i," lan sizhui begins. "would not mind that." 



"great!" lan jingyi beams, smiling that radiant smile and lan sizhui wants to ask the other if he knows that whenever he smiles, the sun seems to shine a bit more gently.



and then lan jingyi is standing up, already beginning to move away, and that leaves a lan sizhui still on the floor, with this confused helpless look on his face. 



"what?" lan jingyi asks, before bursting out laughing as he takes one look at lan sizhui's lost-puppy face. "oh my god, sizhui, did you really expect me to do it right here, right now?" 



and lan sizhui represses the urge to let out a confused 'yes?' slip past his lips. 



"sizhui, i think i have to remind you." lan jingyi says, bursting into a fit of giggles. "doing that will probably make dentist yi be mad at us. you can't risk another infection when you just had your wisdom teeth removed!" and lan sizhui physically wilts at that. 



"and besides," lan jingyi continues. "we still haven't brushed our teeth yet, and i don't want to continue where we left off with stinky morning breaths." 



"ah," lan sizhui nods, ever so begrudgingly accepting the truth. 



"don't worry," lan jingyi seems to have noticed his disappointment. "i'll give you lots of kisses to heal on other places if you hurry up into the bathroom. i'll go first though," lan jingyi adds. 



and he leaves, just like that, leaving lan sizhui sitting on the floor, empty and alone, as his eyes helplessly track every movement of lan jingyi until the other disappears into the hallway and into one of the rooms, assumably, the bathroom. 



lan sizhui finds himself thinking that he should probably be getting off from the floor, dusting himself off since the floor is plentyful of germs and all nasty things. he finds himself thinking that he probably should join lan jingyi in brushing his teeth and downing his painkillers to ease the pain that was throbbing in his right lower jaw. he should be already getting ready for the day, but yet. he finds himself still sittting stone-ridgid on the floor, cold tiles brushing against his skin and sending shivers up his spine. 



he feels dizzy, in a way. and he knows that the anesthetics have been long-gone worn off by now. but perhaps it's just the aftereffects whenever he's around lan jingyi, who manages to make him spin dizzily around the other with the slightest lift of a finger, because lan sizhui will always follow lan jingyi around, eyes dazed and lips parted, as he frantically chases after lan jingyi, who always seems to have gotten quicker ahead of him. 



but then there's this. a few minutes ago, when he was lying next to lan jingyi, on the floor of the living room on a saturday morning, while the rest of the neighborhood is long-awakened and yet they barely had begun the morning. finally, lan sizhui thinks quietly to himself. he seems to have caught lan jingyi, finally able to claim him, and he's oh so dizzy whenever lan jingyi gives him this soft smile, as if congratulating that he managed to catch up to the other. 



the longing, dull ache in lan sizhui's jaw seems to have dissipated, and he feels his throat dry, —he should probably go get some water— and his head still feels so dizzy, as if he's spun around in a circle, like a dog trying to chase its tail for at least 20 times. 



he feels high above the clouds, like when he was still strapped to the dentist's chair, having his wisdom teeth removed and laughing gas filling his lungs, making him feel high. 



lan jingyi has exactly that same effect, making lan sizhui feel as if he were able to grasp the clouds with his bare fingers, floating oh so high in the sky, and if he could, he'd steal the moon and stars for lan jingyi, only to have found that the other practically bore them in his own eyes. 



lan sizhui feels dizzy, constantly tired from revolving around the boy whom he's fallen head over heels with, and with the boy who he has finally caught up to, keeping him firmly with him at always. and he feels himself thinking that he does not ever want to let go of a euphoric come down.