Jiang Cheng is just enjoying a nice relaxing swim in his remodelled pool when his phone rings. He sighs as he swims to the edge and fumbles for it, but he immediately straightens up when he sees that it’s his mother who is calling.
Jiang Cheng heaves himself out, drying his hand properly, before he picks it up.
“Mother,” he greets but he is only met with a silence that is immediately worrying.
“Get to your laptop,” she then snaps and immediately hangs up on him.
Jiang Cheng knows that he doesn’t actually have a choice with this.
“Ugh, fuck,” he mutters, because meeting Lan Qiren over video call was bad enough.
Jiang Cheng is not looking forward to introducing his boyfriend to his mother over the same media, though it drastically reduces the threat of her eating Lan Xichen simply out of spite, but he figures this is what’s going to happen now.
“Fuck,” he reiterates again, as he changes back into this human form, and he only bothers to sling a towel around his hips, before he makes his way into his office.
The laptop is barely fully powered up, when he already gets a notification about an incoming video call.
“Mother,” Jiang Cheng sighs, already incredibly tired over this, but his mother only glares at him.
“Where is he?” she asks, looking around as if Jiang Cheng is hiding Lan Xichen somewhere out of sight and he scrubs a hand over his face.
“He’s not ready to meet you,” Jiang Cheng says with a grimace mostly because he didn’t yet have time to tell Lan Xichen about their status in the ocean and Jiang Cheng doesn’t want to just drop that bomb on him.
“Oh?” Madam Yu gives back, one eyebrow raised and the look she sends Jiang Cheng is so judging he flushes. “Did you not tell him about us?”
“Of course I did,” Jiang Cheng says. “Do you really think I would start a relationship with someone who doesn’t know? I told him before I went home with him.”
“Then you’re going to introduce us, right now,” Madam Yu says. “I heard Lan Qiren already met you, and let me just say, I am not pleased by that.”
“Well,” Jiang Cheng winces. “He met me over video call, so it barely counts,” Jiang Cheng tries to argue, but he knows that he can’t say no to his mother.
“He is human, right?” she wants to know and Jiang Cheng shrugs.
“I haven’t heard anything else,” he says. “Is that a problem?” he then asks with narrowed eyes because if his mother is telling him that she will not approve of him dating a human, he’s going to cut all ties with her.
“Please,” she scoffs and looks down at her nails. “Zixuan is also a human. Your dad, too, if you would remember,” she says and Jiang Cheng frowns.
“Yeah, and we all know how that worked out,” he whispers, though he doesn’t actually mind it too much that his father isn’t around anymore.
“Better for everyone,” his mother haughtily says and Jiang Cheng silently has to agree, though he would never say it out loud. “Now get your boy-toy in here or I’ll just think you made him up,” she then orders and Jiang Cheng bristles.
“Do not call him that!” he presses out. “He’s my boyfriend. I told him about us, it’s going to be permanent and you’ll meet him soon enough, could you please just be patient?” he asks, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“No,” his mother replies and then leans back in her chair. “I’m waiting, Jiang Cheng,” she says when Jiang Cheng doesn’t move and it’s at that moment that Lan Xichen comes back home.
“I’m back!” he yells into the apartment and Jiang Cheng’s mother throws him a meaningful look and Jiang Cheng drops his head into his hands.
He really hoped he could prevent this from happening, but it seems like fate is conspiring against him.
“Your boyfriend will not remain a faceless person to me,” Madam Yu tells him and Jiang Cheng narrows his eyes at her.
“I would prefer it if he was also nameless to you,” he bites out, but then Lan Xichen is already poking his head into the office and his eyes get big when he sees that Jiang Cheng is on a video call.
Or maybe it’s just because Jiang Cheng is still only wearing the towel around his hips. He can hope.
“Sorry,” Lan Xichen whispers and is just about to duck out again when Jiang Cheng gets up.
“Wait,” he says, more to his mother than to Lan Xichen, but Lan Xichen waits as well.
“What’s going on?” he asks when Jiang Cheng stepped close, and even though Jiang Cheng knows that Madam Yu can still see them he drags him in for a lingering kiss.
“Welcome back,” Jiang Cheng whispers once they parted again and Lan Xichen has an adorable flush on his cheeks, that just makes Jiang Cheng want to drag him off and see how far he can make that flush go down.
It’s very far, Jiang Cheng already knows that from experience, but it never hurts to check again and going by how Lan Xichen’s hand tightens on his hip he doesn’t seem overly avert to that idea. But then Lan Xichen suddenly takes his hand back and Jiang Cheng has to bite back a groan when his skin goes cold.
“Who is that glaring at us?” Lan Xichen suddenly whispers and this time Jiang Cheng does groan when he remembers that his mother is still waiting for them.
“That’s my mother,” he whispers back and Lan Xichen’s eyes go wide. “I’m so sorry,” Jiang Cheng says, and then he proceeds to drag Lan Xichen into the office, closer to the laptop.
“Madam Yu,” Lan Xichen says, composed from one blink to the next, clearly putting on his CEO persona and Jiang Cheng has to bite back on a smile.
“Lan Xichen,” Madam Yu gives back and she very clearly musters him up and down. “So you’re the one who thinks he can date my son,” Madam Yu then says and Lan Xichen swallows heavily, though he stays relaxed when Jiang Cheng puts a reassuring hand to the small of his back.
“Well, I already are,” Lan Xichen gives back—rather bravely, Jiang Cheng thinks—and Madam Yu seems to share his sentiment because one of her perfect eyebrows shoots up.
“But you’re not yet approved of,” Madam Yu tells him and Jiang Cheng goes very cold.
“Mother,” he tries, but of course his mother, who has never listened to him once in his life, is not about to start now.
“I wasn’t aware I have to pass some kind of test,” Lan Xichen says and Jiang Cheng just barely does not facepalm because he should have realized that this would go so very badly.
“You think you can just date my son, the prince and heir of our kingdom without some kind of test or approval?” Madam Yu demands to know and Jiang Cheng dares to take a peak at Lan Xichen, who has gone a little bit pale, but otherwise keeps himself remarkably composed.
“I think I should have passed the first test when he agreed to date me,” Lan Xichen gives back, outwardly calm, but Jiang Cheng knows him well enough by know that he wants to turn around to Jiang Cheng and yell at him.
Madam Yu narrows her eyes at Lan Xichen, but she doesn’t actually argue the fact, and going by the very satisfied look on Lan Xichen’s face, he damn well knows it, too.
“There is a protocol,” Madam Yu still stays, and Jiang Cheng sighs. “Getting together before the reigning queen agrees is not widely approved off.”
“Then I would hope that for the happiness of your son, you could bend the time-table a little bit and change those two around,” Lan Xichen easily says and Jiang Cheng’s eyes go wide with how bold he is.
Madam Yu seems stunned for a moment as well, but then a small smile curls around his mouth and Jiang Cheng knows that no matter what, Lan Xichen is already in her good graces.
“You will do the rest according to the protocol,” she states and this time her voice doesn’t allow an argument. “You will learn our politics and you will get used to be under water. You can practice in that pool of yours, I expect to meet you in my territory next time,” Madam Yu says and then simply ends the call.
There’s a very long moment where both Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng are quiet, but then Lan Xichen turns around to him and takes a very deep breath.
“I’m sorry?” Jiang Cheng tries, knowing damn well that it’s not sufficient and Lan Xichen’s glare tells him exactly that as well.
“Surprise?” Jiang Cheng then goes on but instead of calming Lan Xichen down it only makes him more murderous.
“You’re a prince?” he presses out and Jiang Cheng waves him off.
“Only in my world,” he tries to reassure him. “It doesn’t mean anything above water.”
“But under water?” Lan Xichen probes and Jiang Cheng shrugs.
“I might be royalty there,” he sheepishly admits. “And people might be falling all over themselves to please me.”
“And you’re going to inherit the throne from your mother?” Lan Xichen asks and Jiang Cheng thinks that he is taking this a lot better than Jiang Cheng imagined he would.
“If death ever dares to take her, yes,” Jiang Cheng replies because his mother survived more shit than anyone thought possible and by now there are actual bets on if she’s immortal or not.
Jiang Cheng is counting on yes, because it would be just like her to spite death and annoy him into his grave.
“And you didn’t think to mention this before why?” Lan Xichen demands to know and Jiang Cheng presses his lips together.
“Because I thought it wouldn’t be important?” he carefully asks, because he did think that.
He imagined his life with Lan Xichen on land; he never planned on bringing him down into the ocean permanently. His sister would make a much better queen after all.
“How can it not be important?” Lan Xichen explodes and he starts to pace the room. “Did I offend her in any way? What are your customs? Should I have bowed?”
“Xichen, my light, relax,” Jiang Cheng says and steps closer to Lan Xichen to keep him in one place.
He has to grip his shoulders for it to actually work, but Jiang Cheng counts it as a win.
“You did everything right, don’t worry over that,” Jiang Cheng says, even as his own worry grows in his stomach.
This is part of the reason he never told Lan Xichen; he didn’t want to see him freak out over this, didn’t want Lan Xichen to decide that it was too much pressure and simply break it off with Jiang Cheng again.
“What’s wrong?” Lan Xichen asks, clearly picking up on Jiang Cheng’s thoughts and Jiang Cheng deflates, leaning forward to press his forehead to Lan Xichen’s shoulder.
“Is it too much?” he whispers. “Am I going to lose you over this?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Lan Xichen asks, even as he puts a steadying hand to the back of Jiang Cheng’s neck. “Why would I leave you over this?”
Jiang Cheng shrugs as best as he can in this position, but Lan Xichen doesn’t let go of him.
“It’s just—a lot, isn’t it? I’m a prince and my mother is a queen and one day I will rule a whole kingdom and if you decide to stay, then you’ll be by my side. Isn’t it too much?”
“It’s not what I imagined when I first met you,” Lan Xichen tells him and presses a kiss to Jiang Cheng’s hair. “But nothing with you is ever too much. If you’re going to be king one day, then I’ll be by your side. I’m not going to leave you.”
“You’re not?” Jiang Cheng still asks, because he needs to hear it again.
“I’m not,” Lan Xichen firmly says and then lifts Jiang Cheng’s head off his shoulder, so that he can kiss him. “I love you,” Lan Xichen whispers against his lips and Jiang Cheng sighs.
“I love you, too.”
“Good,” Lan Xichen says and then pushes Jiang Cheng away from him more decisively. “And now you’re going to explain what your mother meant when she said I’d have to get used to be under water?”
Jiang Cheng tries to smile at him but when Lan Xichen only narrows his eyes at him, he goes serious.
“That is totally a discussion for another day,” Jiang Cheng decides and when it looks like Lan Xichen is going to argue with him, Jiang Cheng simply drops his towel.
“Ah,” Lan Xichen says, that adorable flush already creeping up his face again, and Jiang Cheng leans in to brush his lips over Lan Xichen’s cheeks.
“For now, I have different plans,” Jiang Cheng says and then simply walks away from Lan Xichen, just as he was swaying into his body.
“Fuck,” Lan Xichen mutters behind him and Jiang Cheng can take three more steps, before Lan Xichen starts moving.
“Wait!” Lan Xichen yells and Jiang Cheng throws his head back to laugh, even as he starts to run towards their bedroom.
He makes it just in time to be tackled onto the bed.