From the corner of his eye, Lan Wangji saw the man in the black robes going stiff. In the split-second he used to turn, the other men already hit the ground. Without thinking twice, in the speed of light, he caught him in his arms. For a moment Lan Wangji’s heart stopped, fear crawling through his body, almost the same tingling sensation he had felt when he had tried to keep Wei Wuxian from falling. Back in the dark day of Nevernight.
It felt as if time stood still, as if his breath had left him. The man was lying limp in his arms, his head lolling uncomfortably, baring his long throat. With a shaking hand, Lan Wangji carefully touched the back of his head, feeling the warm, slightly tousled hair under his fingers. Slowly he lifted the other's head to bring him up so that his cheek touched Lan Wangji's chest. Holding him there, his thumb brushed over the side of his neck and he felt the faint whisper of a pulse.
The cracking of Zidian alerted his senses to the current predicament. Without looking up he cradled the black-robed man closer, braced himself, and vanished.
He breathed a sigh of relief. In front of him stood the Jingshi, silent and undisturbed as always. For a moment doubt had flared in his heart if he would be able to teleport to the right place. He knew he needed a calm mind, being rooted in the present, to be able to teleport without a flaw, especially when he had to breach the Cloud Recesses wards as well as the wards around the Jingshi. His Jade Token allowed him to do both while walking, but it was a whole other matter when he used one direct Teleportation without a charm.
His heart felt as if it would jump right out of his body; his hands still shook around the unconscious form in his arms.
With slow and silent steps Lan Wangji went up the stairs to the front door. A flick of his finger opened the doors to the Jingshi. Once he stepped through the threshold, the same doors slid close without a human's touch and locked themselves. The familiar scent of sandalwood greeted him. A small content sigh escaped the man in his arms, and he startled. His heartbeat drummed in his ears; he was sure the whole Jingshi was vibrating with it. He'd stopped walking, didn’t dare to breathe. His eyes travelled to the mask but there was no movement behind it. For a few more moments he stood frozen in place.
Lan Wangji took a breath, then two. A faint scent of honey washed over him. A scent so incredibly familiar. A scent he had missed for countless years and thought he'd never encounter again. He took another breath and didn’t move. It was here, where he stood rooted in place, where there was no movement of air, that this scent started to surround him. Envelop him to the depths of his heart. He breathed in again. Deeply this time. Leaned his head closer to the other, lips almost touching his forehead.
He knew he needed to move, lay the man in his arms on his bed. Take off his mask to validate it was the man he longed for. Wished to touch one more time. Wished to share his life with.
He knew it must be Wei Wuxian, his Wei Ying. Everything fit together. The tune he had neither heard nor played for thirteen long years. The way the black robes were arranged around his slim body, the way his hair was held up by a red ribbon, the way he stood when playing the Flute. The way he looked into Lan Wangji's eyes, held on to him as if afraid everything was just an illusion.
Even though Lan Wangji knew, he couldn't be completely sure until the mask was gone. Until he saw with his own eyes those beloved features he missed so dearly.
Inhaling the honey scent one more time to memorize it, he slowly made his way to his bed. Another flick of his finger levitated the pillow from its resting place on the folded quilt to the bed. With utmost care, he bent down and lowered the man onto the sheets. He carefully slipped his arm from beneath the other's knees to lay his hand on the head still resting against his chest. He could not let go of him yet; his other arm still securely wrapped around his back, holding him up against his chest and shoulder. The fingertips of his free hand touched the band securing the mask, trailing it to the neat bow at the back. With one move he barely noticed he made, the band fluttered between his fingers to hang loose and fall over the other's face. The mask didn’t slip, held in place by his head still resting against his Lan Wangji's upper torso.
It felt like years crashing onto him in those few moments. Years of longing, of grief, of sadness. All the moments he'd wished to share the happenings of the day with his beloved, as if they had ever done that. All the brief moments he almost felt the ghost of a touch, but when he turned, the beautiful eyes and the wonderful laugh he longed for weren't there.
Never had he imagined a reunion like this. Having his warm body in his arms, on his bed, moments away from confirming his identity. And yet, he couldn't bring himself to lift the loose mask to do just that.
Lan Wangjis heart was almost too calm, his breath almost too shallow for the turmoil in his head.
With one last grounding breath he closed the small distance between his fingers and the mask, grasped it and slowly lifted it away from the man's face.
A shuddering breath left his lips the moment he saw the full face of his beloved. A tear slid down his cheek and fell onto Wei Wuxian's temple, travelled slowly down his face. The mask fell from his hand and dropped on the sheets. Another shaky breath, and he closed his eyes. His free hand came up again to rest against Wei Wuxian's head, softly pressing it into Lan Wangjis shoulder. His face leaned into the top of Wei Wuxian's head, his lips touching the soft skin of his beloved's forehead. He felt more tears welling up, almost overwhelming him. He couldn't think anymore, everything was gone except for two words. 'Wei Ying’. A silent sob left his lips.
Everything crashed around him. All his dreams, all his hopes, all his nightmares. All the disappointment he had felt after every failed Inquiry. They all fell away from him, relief washing through his heart, threatening to overflow everything.
His love was in his arms, warm, alive. A beating heart he could feel through the tight embrace. Lan Wangji opened his eyes again, allowed the clenched feeling in his throat to flow free, allowed the tears to find their way out.
He leaned back from the Wei Wuxian just to look at him again. His fingertips traced his temple, his cheek. Erased the trace of the tear he foolishly had allowed to touch his love's face. Into the quiet of the Jingshi he whispered “Wei Ying” and kissed his forehead again.
Lan Wangji didn't know how long he sat with Wei Wuxian like this, holding him close, stroking his thumb over his cheek while cradling his head close to his shoulder. He knew he was selfish right now, that he should lay him down, let him rest. Let him wake again. He tried his best to not entertain any thought that he might not wake again, that this state of unconsciousness wasn't due to Zidian’s attack. He tried to suppress the fear of not being fast enough to shield Wei Wuxian from his brother again.
Lan Wangji almost startled when he felt someone near the ward of the Jingshi. He would not allow anyone close to Wei Wuxian right now. The man in his arms would be sheltered as long as Lan Wangji could ensure it. He would be able to rest as long as he wanted. No one would be able to disturb him as long as he was here.
With a wave of his hand Lan Wangji strengthened the wards around the Jingshi and its surroundings. No one would be able to enter, not even his own family. A clear warning to everyone to leave him alone.
The distraction brought him out of the musing and his selfish indulgence of needing to feel Wei Wuxian's body against his. He slowly lowered his torso to the bed, taking exceptional care to make sure Wei Wuxian's head was comfortable against the pillow. He straightened out his legs, took off his boots and arranged his robes. A small smile found its way on his face when he noticed Wei Wuxian had charmed his robes with one of the stay-clean-Talismans -- the one Talisman Lan Wangji had shown him back then when he had visited him in the Burial Mounds. The one Talisman all Lans use to keep their white robes in their pristine state no matter what.
When he was sure Wei Wuxian was comfortable and the wards strong enough to hold back anyone who might try to pry on them, he walked silently through the Jingshi to open the windows and doors, letting a soft summer breeze dance into the rooms. He wanted to make sure Wei Wuxian wouldn't feel caged when he woke up, the open doors inviting him to stay or leave if he wished to do so. Lan Wangji wouldn't keep him here if he didn't want to stay with him. He would be broken-hearted to see Wei Wuxian leave, but he would never keep him here against his will.
With a swift move of his flowing robes his Guqin appeared on the low reception table near the bed. On silent feet he went over to the table and lowered himself. He started to play ‘Healing’, infusing as much spiritual Power into it as he can. He played it twice, the first meant to heal eventual wounds from Zidian on his beloved's body, the second to heal the possible distress in his mind.
When the last notes of the song rang through the Jingshi he got up and with slow measured steps walked to the bed. He sits down on the edge, almost touching Wei Wuxian’s body, took a breath, steadied himself and softly asked, “Wei Ying?”
‘Healing’ should have brought a change; he had hoped he could wake him with this song. He wrapped his fingers around Wei Wuxian’s hand, turning it so his palm faced upwards. Lan Wangji couldn't feel the pulsepoint like this, couldn't check the state of his spiritual powers. Nonetheless he wrapped his other hand on the top of the palm, holding Wei Wuxian’s hand between his own. He tried again, “Wei Ying”. Softly, calmly. No reaction.
Lan Wangji didn't want to take off Wei Wuxian’s arm guards, didn't want to undress his beloved without permission to do so. But the longer Wei Wuxian remained unconscious, didn't react to ‘Healing’ nor to his name nor to the small careful amounts Lan Wangji sent into him, the more he became worried. He couldn't ask a Healer to check on him, since he didn't want to alert anyone within Cloud Recesses to a stranger's presence any further than he already did by teleporting him in and closing off the Jingshi.
He didn’t notice when he started to transfer his own spiritual energy into Wei Wuxian. It just happened, as natural as breathing. He would share the last drop of his own energy for him, if needed.
The transfer seemed to have slow, almost invisible results. A more relaxed brow, a slow twitch of Wei Wuxian’s hand, a deeper breath. Lan Wangji took all of it in, kept all of his concentration on the other's body, on his face, on his breathing. He noticed the small differences. The mole under his lip was gone. He seemed to be shorter than when he last saw him. The little scar on the edge of his jaw was gone too. The pale skin he had back then at the Burial Mounds and at Nevernight had changed to a healthy shade. A little pale for Wei Wuxian’s best times, but definitely better than back then. He looked young, almost like the time they first met.
Lan Wangji wondered. Where had Wei Wuxian been? His overall state was too different for him to have survived the fall from the Cliff. The accounts he had heard made no sense. Jingyi and Sizhui told him about 'Senior Mo', about how he'd acted in front of all of them at the reception, how he'd tried to steal the Stygian Lure Flag, how he'd helped subdue the cursed Mo family member. Jingyi was sure he was a lunatic, while Sizhui guessed his whole demeanour was an act.
Lan Wangji had heard about Mo Xuanyu. A few rumours, a brief mention of him in the letter which was sent to Cloud Recesses by the Mo Family asking for help, accusing Mo Xuanyu of being the one who had brought the ‘demons’ to the estate.
How was his Wei Ying connected to Mo Xuanyu? Why did he appear in the Mo Manor? Why were there changes in his body? Did Mo Xuanyu summon him? Was this why he didn't wake now?
Lan Wangji minutely shook his head. He should not guess, should not entertain thoughts of possibilities he could not prove. Once Wei Wuxian awoke, he he would ask. He hoped he would awake.
Not being able to withstand it any longer, he freed one of his hands without ceasing the contact or the the flow of energy. He reached towards Wei Wuxian's throat and lay two fingers on his pulse point. A slow and deep breath, grounding himself again, he pulsed a small amount of his golden Core energy into the other and waited for the echo to come back. Wei Wuxian’s spiritual energy was low, only a slight thrumming. Too low to support a waking state, but enough to keep his body safe and secure.
Wei Wuxian’s skin felt a bit heated under his fingers, so Lan Wangji drew a temperature-Talisman into the air and let it hover over his body. The air instantly cooled down, taking away the lingering summer heat.
He stroked his fingers softly through Wei Wuxian’s hair, adjusting some stray strands so they wouldn't disturb his sleep. Just when he thought to trace his beloved cheeks again, a spiritual butterfly landed on the back of his hand.
Lan Wangji closed his eyes and heard his Uncle's voice ringing through his head. With a small sigh he opened his eyes again, placed Wei Wuxian’s hand back on the bed and stood up. Before leaving the Jingshi he wrote a small message and left it at the bedside table next to the mask he had gathered and laid there earlier. He didn't want his Wei Ying to wake up and possibly feel left alone. He hoped he would be back before he woke
The appointment with his Uncle took longer than to he liked. He inquired about why Lan Wangji teleported into the Jingshi without prior notice. He scolded him for bringing a stranger into the Cloud Recesses, also without prior notice and even hindering the guards to check for an account. Lan Wangji kept silent about the stranger's identity, swiftly changed the topic to the cursed Sword and recounted what he had heard from the Juniors. Fortunately said Juniors came back the moment his Uncle tried to pry information about the stranger from him again. It took them long enough to fly back, with the sun almost set. Lan Wangji excused himself from his Uncle to greet the Juniors, took a few moments to hear Sizhui’s report on what happened after he teleported and then asked them all to retire and write their reports, to be handed in the next morning.
He debated with himself if he should head to the kitchen before going back to the Jingshi but dismissed the idea almost immediately. If Wei Wuxian had woken in the meantime he would have enough time to go back the kitchen to fetch something for himself and his beloved.
When he reached the Jingshi again, the sun had already set, the moon slowly making his appearance. With a flick of his hand the candles within the Jingshi set alight, bathing it in a warm golden light.
His gaze fell immediately on the bed. Nothing changed. Wei Wuxian was still sleeping and it didn’t seem like he had moved at all.
He moved over again, was at his side again, checking his spiritual power through the pulse point on his throat. The thrumming seemed to be a bit stronger than before, but still not enough to wake him. Lan Wangji knelt in front of the bed, took Wei Wuxian’s hand in his and sent more spiritual energy into him. He noticed how their energies slowly mingled, as if dancing with each other, as if Lan Wangji’s energy filled all the gaps within Wei Wuxian’s spiritual energy.
He only stopped when he felt it could get too much, too overwhelming without further direction.
The bell rang through the Cloud Recesses; indicating it was 9 o’clock. Lan Wangji rose and went to the bathroom. Took off his headpieces, arranged his hair for the night. Then he walked to the closet, took out another quilt and another pillow, and arranged both on top of the quilt already folded at the back of the bed Wei Wuxian was still sleeping in.
He didn’t intend to go to sleep before Wei Wuxian woke, so he settled himself behind his guqin again.
For the first time after thirteen years, he plays their song again.