Reality feels a little absurd at times.
Wei Wuxian is alive— as alive as one can be— and being alive slowly fixes everything and nothing altogether.
He is alive, and more than that: he knows he won’t die anytime soon.
He knows it by the way Lan Sizhui, little A-Yuan (who is also very much alive!) never hesitates to be right around his corner, ready to protect his fragile body against stray dogs running for a bite, a corpse crawling and reaching for his robes, another angry cultivator with much to complain about, or a single fly lingering way too close and buzzing near his ears.
He knows it by the scolding he gets from the dearest, most infuriating, absolutely incorrigible sect leader around: Sect Leader Jin, also known as Jin Rulan if Wei Wuxian aims to annoy and simply Jin Ling if Wei Wuxian doesn’t.
Both names actually sound absolutely marvelous, but there’s still something about his third option (“A-Ling”) that makes it resonate with some delicate part of his soul that died over a decade ago, one he can’t think about for too long without getting tears in his eyes— and it stings and hurts.
He gets scolded if he even thinks about taking a bit too long to visit Carp Tower and forgets to keep up with correspondance. He gets scolded if the opposite happens too. He gets scolded half of the time, and desperately tries to be yelled at for the time left. Wei Wuxian craves it, he needs it, and the younger boy seems to have guessed it somehow (his round eyes shine brighter when they bicker, his smile lasts a little longer, his hug feels a little tighter).
He also knows it by the open and loud admiration exhaling from each of Lan Jingyi’s pores whenever he explains something as simple as how to apply a new talisman and save the entire night hunt. He knows it when little Ouyang Zizhen tells him all the news regarding Lotus Pier (and by extension some Sect Leader Jiang who still won’t stay still in the same room if he happens to be around). And the junior does it knowing it will get him in trouble, because his father is a pain in the ass.
He gets reminded of it in the most trivial little gestures: when there’s food being served before he even gets to whine about being hungry (always warm, always spicy, just the way he likes it), when there’s wine at the table (the stronger the better), when there are hands and arms holding him still and close if he starts to move in his sleep (because lately he always does).
And he won’t ever admit it out loud because it would be way too dark and painful, but certain memories are still so fresh in his mind, thinking about it almost feels like dying again.
He remembers it— feeling each of his bones fighting against gravity as he fell, his flesh anticipating destruction as it collided with the dirt, the metallic taste of blood coming from within painting his tongue, everything red, so red and how that prodigee from Yunmeng was left alone to pray for it to end faster, to beg for the skies to end his misery once and for all, because he was made to break every single thing he's ever tried to save.
Wei Wuxian waited as time switched from fast as he fell to excruciatingly slow as death came to welcome him in its arms, seconds turning into minutes of the purest form of agony and suffering, something worse than the Burial Mounds because this time there was no reason to fight and no home to come back to. He fell from that clift until his muscles and organs were out of his body, and only then his breathing stopped and he choked on red, so much red.
He couldn’t breathe. His poor, miserable, heart—
This is so much better, and more, so much better than he deserves. Now, he gets to have several strings of gold tying him to this world, keeping him afloat, healthy and breathing.
Wei Wuxian will cherish it.
Somehow, there are good and bad days, and when the bad ones come, it’s hard to remember about love. This should be okay though, after all his people are here— they know better than to let him forget for too long. They will call him back, force him to come home.
But at times and for a while, it’s just not enough.
Sometimes, all Wei Wuxian knows is the icy, gut-wrecking, suffocating pain set with concrete in his stomach. Healing is uncomfortable because opening wounds is uncomfortable.
Sometimes, what saves him is what serves as a reminder of how lost he had been not so long ago.
Wei Wuxian dares to think— and he hates himself so deeply for this— that perhaps his nephew looks a bit too much like a brother and a sister who once stood by his side. Jin Ling represents something beautiful, yet so bittersweet, that it may or may not leave a sour taste in his mouth— but Wei Wuxian should know better, he should try harder.
It doesn’t make it any easier.
It is still a challenging task.
He has to be careful.
Sometimes, it’s a joke that goes too far, or a scolding that gets too personal. Very often it’s just the way the boy looks, or sounds like.
Jin Ling is a perfect copy of his jiujiu, and he has his mother’s eyes. He wears his father’s red vermillon between his furrowed, thick black eyebrows. He also holds the same weapon that fell on the ground when Jin Zixuan left this world.
Wei Wuxian has to be careful because he can’t project years of bad decisions upon a child. He knows how traumatizing it can be when adults only perceive what they want to, when people don’t know how to handle their crap.
After all, hasn’t he grown in the position of constantly hearing about and being blamed for acting like his own biological mother would?
How much wasn’t he able to profit from because— There were too many rotten wounds uncared for, untreated and festering. Projection is dangerous, way too dangerous—
Besides, is he not the reason why they are all gone, or what?
Still, he is only human. A very contradictory one. God, Wei Wuxian is so thankful for his newfound ability of remaining in silence— may the universe forgive his hypocrisy, his greediness, the ugly part of him that is constantly trying to beat his purest intentions—
He cannot afford to not be careful enough this time.
He will be there for Jin Ling. He will watch the boy grow and become the amazing human being he was always meant to.
He will tie a thousand threads of gold around Jin Ling, and claim him as one of the most important parts of his own heart. He will rearange his set of priorities, his capacities of affection, just to dedicate this second chance to that child.
He will love Jin Ling because he needs to, and he will love Jin Ling because many couldn’t.
"Lan Zhan, people are allowed to hate me, you know?"
Wei Wuxian watches as his husband paces left and right and wonders if steps can possibly dig a hole in the ground.
“They are allowed to dislike me. They are allowed to blame me. You remember what Jin Guangyao said— I am an easy target. He was right. I truly am. Hell, I also happen to be the right target half of the time !” he smiles, but there’s no honesty.
“Wei Ying wasn’t at fault. Wei Ying wasn’t even there this time. It is hardly fair!” Lan Wangji pouts, and Wei Wuxian wants to kiss him.
He does, because he can.
“It is hardly fair—” his husband tries again, all tired and gorgeous. Meetings with sect leaders always leave him a bit more frustrated than usual. A frustrated Lan Wangji tends to be more talkative. Wei Wuxian loves him just as much as the quiet, reserved one.
“—these cultivators were unkind to you in your own home!”
A little pull and bite in Lan Wangji’s plumptious lower lip. Wei Wuxian laughs quietly when his husband’s ears turn red.
He loves to kiss his love, he truly thinks he could do it forever.
“It’s fine. Who cares? I know I don’t! All I care about is you,” Wei Wuxian explains, trying to soothe the ball of nerves standing rigidly right in front of him, “As long as you tolerate me, I will be fine."
Lan Wangji doesn’t like the sound of that. They carefully walk towards the bed, still kissing and biting, when he promises: “Will never grow tired of you. Don’t want to. Can’t.”
He has lost the count by now. There’s just a lot of kissing.
“Oh. Saying ‘i love you’ sounds so frivoulous now, doesn’t it?” Wei Wuxian stops, but his gaze remains focused on his only one, and he can’t think of a single circumstance in the world that would make him want to look away, “But I fancy you so much, I can’t help it. I love you, Lan Zhan.”
Thank you for defending me.
I am sorry you even have to.
May becomes a dreaded time of the year.
Wei Wuxian hasn’t visited Lotus Pier ever since Guanying Temple. He doesn’t know if he should, Jiang Cheng hasn’t tried reaching out (why would he?), but he also hasn’t tried killing him (partly because Lan Wangji wouldn’t allow, granted).
This thread of gold is strained. Perhaps it can't be healed.
And then, May comes around.
Wei Wuxian wishes to honor his shijie so badly, knowing he can’t follow traditions makes him all gloomy and hopeless to the point alcohol loses effect and kisses make him sob. Not paying his respect sounds a lot like being accused of culpability (which he is, he knows that), and the terrible nausea in his stomach settles again—
Lan Jingyi watches him from afar as he plays with his food, breaks a thousand rules and skips meals, retreating himself into forced loneliness, erasing his existence. Senior Wei has even stopped his daily visits to the rabbits. The junior knows he is trying his best to remain cheerful, but May will always be a struggle.
Once some things are broken, they can no longer be pieced back together. No matter how much Wei Wuxian heals, there will always be a scar.
And Wei Wuxian doesn’t know, but Sect Leader Jiang gets a letter by the end of that same week, messy handwriting drawned with dark ink that barely had the time to dry before being thrown into the enveloppe.
The letter urges him to “lose his thick face and invite over Hanguang-Jun’s fated one immediately because Senior Wei is unconsolable and will die of sorrow if he doesn’t get to visit home anytime soon."
Sect Leader Jiang appreciates Lotus Pier being referred to as home.
The new generation is incredibly sharp.
What works the best is, ultimately, love. With the right timing, nothing can replace it.
Wei Wuxian especially feels the certainty of his safety when it becomes impossible to identify where his darkness ends and Lan Wangji’s light sandalwood scent begins.
It reminds him how time will keep cutting him open, then healing him fine.
Wei Wuxian knows it deep in his bones— whatever’s going on, it will last a lot longer than all the sorrows, regrets and hardships ever have. And it all feels a bit absurd that he gets to be cared for after—
"Lan Zhan,” he calls softly, voice barely an inaudible whisper, coming out a lot weaker than he meant it to sound like, “Oi!”
Strong arms, needy hands, soft kisses down his neck.
He is alive.
“Lan Zhan, you can’t just do this!” he laughs, and it resonates so powerful and strong, chasing the anxiety out of the room immediately.
The sound of his own laughter is the most precious relief.
“The world would accuse me of having put a spell on you if they saw the two of us right now, don’t you think?”
The answer his stupid question gets makes his heart skip a beat.
“Wei Ying has.”
Or maybe two.
Lan Wangji should know better and learn to warn a man before saying things like that.
Wei Wuxian loves and is loved in return, and because it is so clear that his well-being is a priority, he knows. Being alive is a blessing he gets to enjoy. Being alive is a luxury he now can afford. Being alive is not a burden, but a place to fall on.
"Oh, have I now?" he smiles, “Lan Zhan, isn’t it just so pretty to think?” he asks as he intertwines their pinkies together. Wei Wuxian carefully kisses their linked hands and smiles so gently.
It’s a blessing he gets to be there.
It’s a blessing he gets to love and care in a way only he knows how to, even when this is not his original body, even when he has been dead for such a long time, even when he believed to be lost and gone for good.
He is alive. It will be okay.
"A spell? Like a golden string!” Lan Wangji hums in agreement, “Yeah. This sounds right. One single thread of gold."
Tied me to you.