“I’m a bunny.” Lan Wangji looked down from his computer to see a small boy standing by the circulation desk, a pair of long ears attached to his head. “Baba says I’m a radish or sometimes a boy, but I know I’m a bunny.”
“Mmn, I can see that by your ears.” It was the end of a busy Saturday shift at the library, and Lan Wangji was tired of people and ready to go home. But, he always had a soft spot in his heart for the kids. He was a reference librarian by training, but as branch manager he often got roped into assisting with busy children’s programs. If he was honest, it was the best part of his job.
The boy looked at him with a serious look on his face. “You really think I’m a bunny?”
Lan Wangji paused a moment, thinking of his answer. “I believe people when they tell me who they are. You tell me you are a bunny, so I believe you are a bunny.”
“That makes sense.” The boy stroked his furry ears. “Do you have any books about bunnies?”
“I believe we do. Would you like stories about bunnies, or facts? And do you have a grownup with you? They’ll need their library card.”
“Facts, please.” The boy then pointed down the aisle to where a tall, beautiful man was looking through the new books on display. He had a stack of books pushed up against his hip, and was examining the back of another. “Baba!” the boy shouted. “I need you!”
“A-Yuan?” The man jumped, hurrying over to them. “What does my little radish need?”
“Bunny.” The boy--Yuan--crossed his arms and pouted. “Not radish.”
“Of course, of course.” The beautiful man laughed, and the sound of it lifted Lan Wangji’s heart for reasons he couldn’t quite place.
“This young rabbit would like to see our collection of bunny books. Is that acceptable?”
“Is that acceptable ,” The man repeated, laughing, but it didn’t feel mocking. “You are a hoot, you know that! A-Yuan can have as many books as he can carry.” He turned to his child and shook his finger, “But I’m not carrying any more! Look at your poor father, weighed down by all these books! Even one more and I’ll fall right over!” The man pretended to tip over, nearly dropping his stack of books on the floor.
“Baba!” The boy giggled. “I can carry them!”
“This way then.” Lan Wangji led them through the stacks to the children’s non-fiction section, keeping them in his peripheral vision as they walked. “This is where we keep our books full of animal facts.” He told Yuan. “You can see we have books on cats, and horses, and down here at the bottom, bunnies.”
“ Bunnies!” Yuan fell to his knees and ran his fingers over the spines. “I can really take them home?”
“Mmn, you may. Your father says as many as you can carry.” He paused a moment. “I have a library bag for you so you can carry more.”
Behind him, he heard the beautiful man snort. “Aah, that’s alright, we don’t want to put you to any trouble. Thank you for showing us the books!”
“Of course. When you are ready to check out I’ll be at the desk. We do close in twenty minutes, you should hear the announcement soon.”
“A-Yuan say thank you to the nice man!”
“Thank you, nice gege!”
“It is no trouble, little rabbit.” Wangji smiled at them, then hurried back to the circulation desk to wrap up the day.
Soon, Yuan and his father were in front of the desk, both of their arms full of books.
“We put the books on the desk here, A-Yuan.” The man was explaining. “Then the librarian can check them out and we can take them home! We’ll bring them back next week and you can get more.”
“Not--too much money?” The boy whispered, his small face looking worried beyond his years.
“Libraries are free! I should have brought you here months ago.” The man looked distressed for a moment. “We’ll come back soon.”
“Your father is correct.” Wangji told him. “You can take as many books home as you want for free, you just have to return them. Would you like to get him a library card?” He asked the beautiful man.
“He isn’t too young? He’s only five.”
“And a half!”
“Five and a half.”
“Mmn, as long as we have a parent or guardian on file, there is no age limitations for children.” He handed them the forms, then fished out the small tote bag they handed out to every child getting their first card. “You also get this bag.”
Lan Wangji entered the new card information into the computer, his eyes lingering a little too long on the man’s ID. Wei Wuxian. The same age as him. He lived just down the street.
The rest of the interaction went by in a rush. They packed their books into the new bag, and carefully zipped Yuan’s new card into its front pocket.
“Have a good day Mr. Wei.” He followed them to the door, ready to lock up for the day. “It was nice to meet such a nice rabbit.” He told the boy. “Next time you come in you’ll have to tell me what rabbit facts you learn from your books.”
“I will, nice gege!”
“Thank you!” Wei Wuxian said. “Oh, I didn’t get your name! We can’t keep calling you nice gege!”
Before he could think much about it, he answered. “You can call me Lan Zhan.” He never went by his childhood nickname at work. Even his family had fallen out of the habit of using it since his mother had died, but for some reason he wanted this man to know it.
“You can call me Wei Ying.” The man’s smile was gorgeous. His hair was coming out of it’s tie, his clothes were wrinkled and worn, and he had dark circles under his eyes. But, he was gorgeous, and when he smiled it felt like being smiled at by the sun. “And my little rabbit is Yuan. We’ll see you next week!”
Once they were gone, the doors locked and the lights off, Lan Wangji rested his head on the desk and groaned. He saw dozens and dozens of people at this desk every day, many of them beautiful, many of them laughing. He had been hit on by patrons more times than he could count. He took a professional interest in all the library visitors, he knew about their children and grandchildren, about the jobs they were trying to get, the hobbies they were passionate about. He had a long mental list of who would be interested in the latest James Patterson, or who would be excited about a new book about woodworking.
His interest here was not professional.
Something about the man--Wei Ying--had crawled under his skin. He wanted to know more, wanted to hear his story and hear him laugh again.
He groaned again. His brother had always said the Lans were cursed to fall in love at first sight, and he hadn’t believed him. But here he was, his head full of nothing but Wei Ying. He was doomed.
The next week Wei Ying and Yuan came around the same time, half an hour before close.
“Mr. Lan! Nice gege!” Yuan ran up to him. “I learned all about rabbits! Did you know carrots aren’t good for them always?”
“Mmn.” Wangji nodded seriously. “Too much sugar for every day.”
“That’s what my book said!” The boy was practically jumping up and down in excitement.
“Come on A-Yuan, let’s let Lan Zhan work. He has many important library things to do! Let’s go look at the picture books.”
“It is no trouble. Helping people find books is my important library work.” He paused a moment, unsure if what he was going to say next was a good idea. “I have bunnies of my own at home.” He told them. “Would Yuan like to see a picture?”
“ You have bunnies at home!? ” Yuan was practically shaking with excitement. “What are their names? How big are they? What do they look like? How many of them are there?”
Wei Ying laughed, putting his hand on his son’s head. “A-Yuan let the man speak! One question at a time!”
Together the pair looked at him with eager, smiling eyes, and Lan Wangji could feel the tips of his ears turning pink under their attention.
He fished his phone out of his pocket, and flipped to his photo album of rabbit pictures. He held it out to them, slowly flipping through so they could admire his girls. “They are both girls. This one is Flopsy.”
“Like it Peter Rabbit!”
“Mmn, yes, exactly. And this one is Bunnicula.”
Wei Ying snorted again. “Oh I loved that one as a kid. I had completely forgotten about it.”
“Mmn, it is a classic." He paused."Perhaps a few more years before this little rabbit is ready for it.”
“We’ll stick to Peter Rabbit.” Wei Ying agreed.
“More, more, more!” Yuan chanted. His father tapped his head gently, and he added a quiet please.
“Their favorite thing to do is outside time. We go into the yard and they hop through the grass.”
“Do you live here? Can I see them?”
“A-Yuan, we’ve talked about this. Teachers don’t live at school, and librarians don’t live at the library. And do you remember what we said about asking to go to other people’s houses?”
“It’s more polite to invite them to our house. Mr. Lan, will you bring the bunnies to our house?”
Wei Ying made a choking sound, deep in his throat. Lan Wangji specifically did not look at him. “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan,” he said, “you don’t need to answer that. We’ve taken up too much of your time. Cmon little bun, let’s go find some new books and get out of nice gege’s hair for a while.”
Lan Wangji briefly lifted his hand (and what did he think he was going to do with that? Grab the man? Shameless.) and cleared his throat. “Wei Ying, I do not mind. The last hour of the day is always quiet, and I am always happy to help you both. You are…” he paused unsure of himself. “You are good company.”
“Ah, Lan Zhan, you shouldn’t say such things, we’ll take advantage!”
Please do, Lan Wangji thought. “Mmn.”
Wei Ying’s face was pink, probably as pink as his own ears. He was grateful his hair covered them, grateful the blush didn’t extend down his face.
“Your boss might not like it,” Wei Ying warned. “We are very distracting.”
He raised an eyebrow at that. “I am the boss.” He said. “And I don’t mind. As I said, the last hour is quiet.”
A nervous laugh from Wei Ying, then Yuan started jumping up and down trying to get their attention. “More bunny books please!”
“Mmn, I have a list for you.” Earlier in the week, during a slow period, he had made a list of all the picture books featuring rabbits. It wasn’t that far off from what he would do for any patron, he told himself. He made book lists for people all the time. Usually they were in front of him asking for it, but really, he was just saving them all time.
“Aah, even your handwriting is gorgeous.” Wei Ying took the list from his hand like it was a precious thing. “Nothing like my chicken scratch. Look at all those E’s Yuan, aren’t they pretty?”
“No taste at all! We’ll have to teach you penmanship! And cursive!”
“Baba I can write all my letters.” Yuan was rolling his eyes in the way only a five year old could. “Books, please?”
“If you need help, I am here.” Lan Wangji told them. “They might not all be on the shelves, but we can put them on hold when you check out.”
“Thank you Lan Zhan!”
“Thank you Mr Lan!”
He watched them go and restrained himself from putting his head back in his desk. This was terrible.
After that, Wei Ying and yuan started arriving exactly an hour before the library closed. They would collect books, and yuan would play, and once the other patrons had left Wei Ying would come lean on the desk and talk.
He talked a lot.
If it were anyone else, Lan Wangji would find a way to politely distance himself. He would bury himself in important looking tasks and tactfully suggest other activities for his conversation partner.
But Wei Ying was not anyone else. And Lan Wangji loved to hear him speak.
His voice rose and fell like music, and he laughed often, usually at his own jokes, but sometimes at Wangji’s. As they got to know each other better, he could make Wei Ying laugh with just a well time eyebrow raise.
He felt drunk on it.
He started to cherish his Saturday shifts in a way he never had before. He looked forward to them, and made sure anything pressing was complete before they walked in the door. It was dangerous, he was going to get hurt, he knew what a bad idea it was. He was just a person for Wei Ying to talk at while yuan played. It didn’t mean anything that they never missed a Saturday, or that after the first few weeks Wei Ying didn’t even have the excuse of a reference question.
It didn’t mean anything.
He was almost convinced of it, until the Saturday they didn’t show up.
He watched the doors anxiously for the full hour, but they only opened on strangers faces, never Wei Ying. As he locked up and turned off the lights he admitted to himself just how worried and sad he was, just how completely doomed.
His brother had told him so many times that he had to turn off notifications from his work email to his phone. He lectured him on work life balance and having boundaries, but lan wangji didn’t mind. He didn’t answer them until work hours, but it soothed his anxiety to know there wouldn’t be any surprises in his inbox come Monday morning.
The message preview that popped up on his phone started with “Lan Zhan” and there was only one person who would call him that.
Lan Zhan , it began. We missed library time today and I didn’t want you to worry! We’re both fine, we just had something come up with my family that we couldn’t miss. I thought it might be good to exchange numbers so if it happens again we can let you know! And then I can text you pictures of all a-Yuan’s bunny fan art. Mine is xxx-xxx-xxxx.
See you next week!
As he read it, another appeared in his inbox.
I am so sorry, that last email really crossed a line. Of course you weren’t worried! You’re working, it’s not like we’re hanging out. You have to be nice to me.
Anyway, please ignore my last email, sorry to bug you on the weekend.
Lan Wangji didn’t hesitate. Wei Ying thought he was being nice to him because he was working? He was nice to all his patrons, but surely by now Wei Ying had seen him interact with enough other patrons to see that he treated him very differently. Even the ones he liked and had known for years never chatted for more than a few minutes. He wouldn’t want them too. Only Wei Ying.
He punched the number into his phone and typed out a reply.
Wei Ying, thank you for your email, I was worried about you and A-Yuan today.
I do not have to be nice to you, and you do not bug me.
Here is a new picture of Flopsy and Bunnicula for yuan, please let him know I would greatly appreciate any fan art he wants to make of them.
The response was almost immediate.
I thought for sure…
Yuan wants me to show you this, he drew it last night. I think the bunnies might be exploring space? They talked about the moon landing last week in school.
Tell yuan it is a very good picture, and I appreciate the work he put into getting Flopsy’s ears right.
You are too nice to us!
A minute later, his phone rang with a video call request. When he accepted it, he could see Yuan, but Wei Ying not in sight.
“Mr. Lan!” He shouted. “I met a cousin and a dog today! We had to miss library time, but Baba says family is important and Jin Ling will be my friend.”
“I’m very glad to hear that, A-Yuan. What did you think of the dog?”
“Not as good as bunnies.” He sighed dramatically. “Will you ever bring your bunnies to my house, Mr Lan?”
In the background he heard a shout, and Wei Ying appeared.
“I leave you alone for five minutes with my phone and you start calling people? Bunnies shouldn’t know how to use the phone!” He turned to the camera. “I’m sorry, Lan Zhan, he learned how to FaceTime last week and he’s been stealing my phone to call people. We didn’t mean to bug you!”
“Wei Ying,” his patience was infinite, he told himself. He would say it until Wei Ying believed it. “You are not bugging me.”
“Lan Zhan, lan Zhan, you are too good to us.”
Yuan interrupted, jumping into his father’s lap and getting too close to the camera. “Mr Lan bring your bunnies to my house please! They are much nicer than dogs! Baba is scared of dogs but not bunnies or cats or any other pets.”
“A-Yuan…” even through the video Lan Wangji could see the blush on Wei Ying's face.
“You can meet my bunnies.” He said, riding in the high of an out of work phone call with Wei Ying. “But they do not like to travel. If your father would like, you two may come visit them here tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!” Yuan chanted, jumping out of frame. “I can meet the bunnies!”
“Are you sure, Lan Zhan? Do you really want all this chaos in your house? It’s probably perfectly clean and organized and I bet everything in your pantry is labeled and there’s never been a mess there in your life. I wouldn’t want to ruin that for you.”
“Wei Ying, if you would like to come, I would like you to visit. Mess can be cleaned up. There is nothing in my life you could ruin.”
“Oh.” In the background he could still hear Yuan jumping around, yelling about bunnies. “If you’re sure. Want us to bring over lunch? If you’re going to be so nice to us we should bring you lunch. I know you’re a vegetarian, there’s this great burrito place I’ve been wanting tell you about and they have some very good options!”
“Mmn, I will see you tomorrow then? 12:30?”
“Yeah. Yeah, Lan Zhan, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Lan Wangji had never felt nervous like this before. Not many people had visited his home, and he hadn’t particularly cared what any of them had thought of it. Now, he was second guessing all his choices. What would Wei Ying think of it? Would he look at his bookshelves, judge what he saw there? By now, Lan Wangji had a good idea of Wei Ying's tastes (eclectic, but his favorite seemed to be queer romance novels) and he worried his own taste would be seen as too narrow in comparison. His shelves were full of nonfiction, mostly history. He didn’t mind fiction, and her certainly would never judge anyone else’s reading choices, but he found that reality was more interesting, and often stranger, than anything fiction could serve up.
He carefully moved some of his more fragile knickknacks into higher shelves, and checked the rabbits again. He had fed them a smaller breakfast than usual in preparation for the visit, and the bribes he would have A-Yuan use to coax them into his lap.
He wasn’t ready when his doorbell rang. Would he ever feel ready, though?
There they were, both smiling, both looking ready to to start jumping in excitement. Lan Wangji had heard about Yuan's tragic beginnings, and how Wei Ying had adopted him, but in the moment they looked like blood relatives.
“Bunnies!” Yuan cried when he opened the door. “It’s tomorrow! Hello, Mr Lan!”
“Hello, A-Yuan, Wei Ying.” He stepped aside to welcome them through the door. “Please sit down.”
Wei Ying set the takeout bag on the nearest counter, and leaned up against it the same way he did the circulation desk. “Lan Zhan, you never told me you lived so close! I thought you must live way up the mountain, but we could walk here if we wanted!”
“Mmn, I like the convenience to the library.” He replied. “It is a good neighborhood.”
They stared at each other for a long, precious moment, until Yuan grabbed Lan Wangji’s leg and squeezed. “Bunnies?” He asked. “Where are they?”
“Of course. Here, you’ll want these treats.” He sat Yuan down on the floor.
“Your treats will come later, little bun.” Wei Ying told him, perhaps seeing the glint in Yuan's eyes as he turned the bag of treats over in his hand. “Those are only good for small bunnies, and you’re a great big bunny who needs burrito treats! Right Lan Zhan?”
“Mmn, your father is correct. You would not enjoy these. But Flopsy and Bunnicula will.”
He went to the corner where their cage stood, and gently took Flopsy into his arms. “It is important to stay still, and calm. They will get nervous if you get nervous.” He told the boy, who was looking at him with big eyes.
“And remember we talked about being gentle?” Wei Ying said, his own voice gentle. “We have to be very careful with Mr. Lan’s bunnies.”
“So he’ll invite us back.” Yuan said, like he was repeating something Wei Ying had told him. “Yes, Baba, I remember.”
Wei Ying was surely blushing again, but he didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes on Yuan, and Flopsy in his arms.
He sat down beside yuan and arranged Flopsy so she was facing him. “Let’s begin with feeding her two treats.” He said. “Can you take them out of the bag?” He waited for Yuan to do it. “Very good. Now feed them to her one at a time…”
An hour passed quickly, with Yuan and Wei Ying cooing at his rabbits and feeding them, petting their soft ears.
Lan Wangji had never felt happier.
They tucked the rabbits back into their cage, and sat around his small table to eat.
“Next time maybe we can have outside time with them.” He told Yuan, then froze, was he being too forward? Assuming their would be a next time?
“We would love that.” Wei Ying spoke up. “Wouldn’t we A-Yuan?”
“Next time.” Wangji promised.
And so, Sunday lunch became, as Wei Ying would say, A Thing. He would see them at the library in Saturday’s, and Sundays they would visit his house, feed the rabbits, and they would all eat together.
When his brother found out he was insufferable. He got that glint in his eye that he was plotting something, but he had never been very good at plotting. His face was too expressive, too open, his heart too free from guile.
“You see them every weekend.” His brother said. “That’s not nothing. Tell me more!”
“Wei Ying is… nice. A-Yuan likes the rabbits.”
“Xichen.” His brother’s boyfriend. Meng Yao rested his hand on his arm. “If Wangji wants privacy, we should give it.” They exchanged a look that Wangji was sure they thought was subtle, but was not. At all. Meng Yao was clearly telling his brother with his eyes that he he should be the one doing the meddling here. He could sneak and pry in ways Wangji didn’t see until after it was done.
“Fine.” Xichen sighed. “But if he gets any more serious you have to bring him to meet me.”
“If anything develops I will let you know.”
Meng Yao blessedly turned the conversation to a new topic, but Wangji knew he would have to be on guard.
The attack came a month later, in the form of brunch.
His brother had invited him over, claiming it was just a small gathering, just a few friends. He had waxed poetic about it being the first gathering he and A-Yao were hosting in their new home, how important it was that he attend.
So, he took the day off work, and went.
When we arrived, the driveway had more cats than he expected. When his brother answered the door, there was a dull roar of guests behind him.
Wangji raised an eyebrow, “small gathering?” He said.
“Oh, well, you know how A-Yao is about parties!” His brother didn’t even look ashamed. “I have someone to introduce you to!” His brother took his arm and led him into the front room of the house. “Brother, this is Jiang Yanli and her husband, Jin Zixuan. Zixuan is A-Yao’s half brother.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” He shook hands and tried to look properly respectful, but all he wanted was to flee the house and go back to his quiet space, alone. He spent his whole week playing nice with strangers, he didn’t like to do it on his days off.
“And Yanli is your Wei Wuxian’s sister.” His brothers smile was a huge, ominous thing at this point. Wangji’s mind went blank.
“Oh!” She said happily. “ You’re that Lan Zhan! A-Xian has told me so much about you! Have you seen him yet? He and A-Yuan are out back I think.”
“What.” He lost all words. “Brother?”
“Aah, well… when we realized the connection it seemed silly to exclude him.” His brother finally looked properly abashed.
Yanli, noticing his distress, put a hand on his arm. “He doesn’t know Xichen is your brother,” she told him. “We thought it would be a fun surprise!” She took his arm firmly. “Come, let’s go see what he says when he sees you! He will be overjoyed, all he talked about this week was that he wouldn’t get to see his favorite librarian today.” His ears felt hot.
She led him through the house to the backyard, and there was a moment before they spoke when Wangji simply watched, his heart full. Wei Ying was trying to play catch with Yuan, but Yuan was much more interested in running in circles around his father.
He looked up, his mouth dropped open. “Lan Zhan?”
“Look who I found, A-Xian!” Yanli led him closer. “Did you know your Lan Wangji is related to A-Yao’s Lan Xichen? What a small world it is!”
“I… oh…” for once Wei Ying was speechless.
“Mr. Lan!” Yuan ran to him, and hugged him tight. “Aunt Yanli this is our librarian! He lets me see bunnies!”
“Isn’t it nice that we can all be together today?” She smiled down at her nephew. “Why don’t you come inside with me and we can see if Jin Ling is ready to get up from his nap, what do you say?”
“I don’t need naps anymore, they’re for babies.” His pleasant chatter faded away as they went back inside, leaving him alone with a speechless Wei Ying.
“I didn’t expect to see you here.” He confessed. “I think our siblings intended for it to be a surprise.”
“Oh, it’s a surprise alright. I wondered why they were so insistent that we come to a strangers house for brunch Wei Ying was looking everywhere but his eyes.
“You are..unhappy to see me?” Lan wangji asked hesitantly. “I—“
“ No. ” In a heartbeat, Wei Ying’s hand was on his wrist. “I’m thrilled to see you. My sister just likes to meddle.” They stood there, Wei Yings hand on his arm, and stared at each other. Lan Wangji became keenly aware that this was his first time ever being alone with Wei Ying, without Yuan.
“Lan Zhan—“ they spoke over each other, and Wei Ying laughed. “You go first, Lan Zhan.”
“I…” words didn’t always come easy to him, and he found now that he had none. His whole head was full of the feel of Wei Ying's fingers on his pulse, his dark eyes looking up at him, his lips slightly parted and smiling.
Lan Wangji decided words would never be enough, so he kissed him.
They were wrapped in each other’s arms, and there was nothing else. Just Wei Ying's hands and lips and body hot against his own.
Such a moment could not last.
“Wangji I found this little rabbit— oh.” His brother, uYan in hand, was standing in the open door. Wei Ying jumped away from him, and swept Yuan into his arms.
“What does the little rabbit think of the party? Is A-Ling still asleep?” They disappeared into the house with only a small glance at him.
The rest of the brunch was awkward. Uncomfortable. Wei Ying wouldn’t even look at him, and the dread grew and grew in his stomach. Had he misread everything? Had he ruined the one friendship in his life he valued?
As soon as it was polite, Wangji left. He didn’t say goodbye to anyone, just slipped out the door and into his car. He expected later to get a call from his brother, and a text from Wei Ying. His brother called, but no matter how many times he checked his phone, there was no text from Wei Ying.
After lying in bed unable to sleep, he gave in and texted him himself.
It was good to see you today. Should I expect you and A-Yuan for lunch tomorrow?
Ah, sorry Lan Zhan! I know we usually have Sunday lunch but Yuan’s biological cousins are coming in to town so we have to meet up with them! Maybe next week?
Of course, have a good week.
So he had messed everything up. He knew an excuse when he heard one, and it was clear that Wei Ying didn’t want to see him. And why would he? Wei Ying had clearly thought they were friends and then Lan Wangji went and pounced on him like some piece of meat. In the moment he had thought Wei Ying was enjoying it as much as he was, but obviously he had read it wrong.
The week went by quietly, the usual stream of texts and photos from Wei Ying barely a trickle. Nothing flowed correctly between them, it all felt wrong and damaged.
Saturday came, and he held his breath waiting for them, hoping for them.
They did not come.
He resigned himself to his fate, drafting an apology email in his head, trying to think of the best way to gracefully end this before it got worse. He knew it could always get worse. While thinking, he made his way outside to collect the book drop one last time before closing. It was raining m, but he had his umbrella, and a sturdy waterproof bag to shield the books. At this time of day there wouldn’t be many in the drop.
Wei Ying was there, soaked to the bone and fishing a picture book out of a puddle that had formed in the sidewalk.
“Oh! Lan Zhan! I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d be out here… I dropped it.” He looked miserable. Wet, shivering, a ruined book in his hand and a bright red blush across his cheeks. He was even more beautiful than the first time Lan Wangji had seen him, and it broke his heart to think he had hurt him.
“Come inside, Wei Ying, you’re soaked.”
“Ah, it doesn’t matter. I’m fine.”
“You’re shivering.” He wanted to read out for his hand, drag him into the warm library and dry him off with a towel. He had a change of clothes in his locker, old paint stained clothes for when there was messy work to be done, but they would fit him well enough. “Please.” He added. “Is yuan here?”
“Nah, I left him with his cousins for a few hours. They’ve missed him.” So the cousins weren’t a lie, that was a surprise.
He held the umbrella over Wei Ying's head, stopping the worst of the rain. It fell on him instead, but he didn’t mind. They would be inside soon.
He herded Wei Ying to the door, then locked it behind them.
“A bit early today?” Wei Ying glanced at the clock. “Someone might complain!”
“I don’t care.”
Wei Ying stood in the entryway, dripping onto the floor, the ruined book still in his hand. Lan Wangji fetched him an towel from the cleaning closet, they usually used it as a drop cloth for painting, but it was clean enough.
“I’m sorry—“ they spoke together.
“Oh.” Wei Ying said. “Why are you sorry? You didn’t do anything wrong Lan Zhan.”
“Wei Ying I practically assaulted you. I never should have done that. I should have asked you…” he twisted his hands together, “Consent is important. I hurt you.”
“Lan Zhan no.” Wei Ying was I’m so close to him now, his hair was dripping onto his arms. “I wanted it. I kissed you too, Lan Zhan. I thought you were embarrassed by me. I thought I humiliated you in front of your family. I thought you never wanted to see me again.”
They stared at each other in wonder for a moment, then they were on each other, lips meeting and hands grasping. Wei Ying’s skin was so cold from the rain, his mouth so hot, and the stark contrast nearly undid him.
Lan Wangji glanced up at the security camera. It didn’t record save video for more than a week, but with his luck this would be the week thieves broke into the place. He grabbed Wei Ying's hand and dragged him through the back room, shutting off lights as they went. He wanted to push Wei Ying against the row of lockers, take off his clothes with his teeth, kick away all the droplets of rain from his skin. He wanted to run his hand over the miles of goosebumps on his skin and hold him tight until they disappeared. He wanted to warm him up.
“A change of clothes.” He said instead, voice much steadier than he thought. “You’re soaked.” He handed him the pants and an old t shirt, then gestured to the small staff bathroom.
“Lan Zhan?” There was a glint in his eyes. “Are you asking me to strip for you? Does Lan-Er-gege want to see me naked that badly?”
“Wei Ying.” He gritted his teeth and refused to laugh. “You are getting my carpet wet.”
“Oh, I’ll get your carpet wet, baby.” He winked, then looked down. “Ah. I am. Okay, I’ll change for you, Lan Zhan.”
As soon as he was out of the bathroom, dry and no longer shivering, Lan Zhan was ready. He grabbed his shoulders and looked at him, “Wei Ying…” he began.
“For the love of all that is good in the world yes, Lan Zhan. Yes . Please kiss me.”
And so he did.
One year later
“I’m a doctor.” Yuan announced, standing at the circulation desk at the end of a busy Saturday. “Lan-gege, Papa I mean. I’m a doctor, like Auntie Qing.”
“Mmn, I can see that by your stethoscope.” He told yuan, his soon to be adopted son. “Do you remember where to find the books about health?”
“Mmn. 610s.” He watched fondly as Yuan quickly walked to the books.
He turned his attention back to Wei Ying, who was smiling broadly. “I thought we would never be done with the bunny phase,” he sighed.
“He can be a bunny and a doctor.” Lan Zhan pointed out. “They aren’t mutually exclusive.”
“Lan Zhan no! Don’t tell our son that! He’ll be insufferable.”
“Mmn, I should give him books on veterinary practice instead. A doctor for bunnies might be more suitable.”
“Mmm, maybe. Let him poke around on his own for a while.” He leaned on the desk, and Lan Zhan flashed back to the first time Wei Ying had stood there, the same smile in his eyes. But now it was better, so much better, because it was all for him.