Jiang Cheng absolutely abhorred the monthly cultivation meetings. If he had a choice at all, he wouldn’t be attending any of them. He had better things to do than to sit idly in a corner and listen to mindless gossip and bickering between sect leaders, especially now more than ever since it seemed that the only topic of discussion was Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji’s relationship status. He could understand why, after all, the Chief Cultivator has just recently gotten married to the renounced Yiling Patriarch, but it didn’t mean that he really enjoyed listening to everyone talk shit about them.
He took in a deep breath and crossed his arms over his chest as he watched other sect leaders make their way into the meeting room. The air was cold and frigid in the Cloud Recesses, announcing the early winter snow that was to come soon. Jiang Cheng hated it. He was used to warmth and humidity and easy winters without much snowfall. He wasn’t used to this kind of cold, he didn’t even know how Wei Wuxian had gotten used to it all. Or how he got used to living in the Cloud Recesses at all. An ache slowly for,ed inside his chest and he tasted a hint of bitterness on his tongue. Jiang Cheng swallowed hard, trying to ignore the feelings of anger and old bitter melancholy that he’d worked over the years to bury deep inside him. He didn’t need them to come back up right now.
But the fact that he wasn’t happy that Wei Wuxian had decided to stay in Gusu Lan instead of coming back to Yunmeng Jiang was true enough.
He just hated to acknowledge it.
So he wouldn’t.
He looked back around the room, ignoring the boisterous laughter that came from his brother from where he sat with his husband, and noticed that the host of the meeting, Lan Xichen had yet to arrive. Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow and wondered if anything had happened. After all, it had only been three months since the man had come out of his seclusion, and this would be the first meeting he’d be hosting after three very long years and the first time he’d be seeing everyone else, besides him, his uncle, and his brother, of course.
It was a little known fact that he’d gone to the Hanshi every now and then to visit Lan Xichen, and he’d bring him gifts as well. It was also a little known fact that Cheng had also been writing letters to him and receiving quite a few from the other Sect Leader, as well, ever since he went into seclusion.
It was nothing, though.
Worry started rising in Jiang Cheng, noticing that time kept passing by and people were now wondering where Lan Xichen was. He glanced around the room, and met eyes with Lan Wangji, noticing he seemed just as worried as he did. As if by a sudden impulse of jealousy, and need to be the first one to find out about Lan Xichen’s whereabouts and if he was okay, Jiang Cheng bolted up from where he sat and stormed out of the room. “Jiang Cheng?” he heard Nie Huaisang exclaim as he got up abruptly, but Jiang Cheng payed him or anyone else who called after him any mind as he made his way through the Cloud Recesses, looking for the Lan Sect Leader.
Jiang Cheng cursed under his breath at how large the place was, and how difficult it seemed to maneuver through it. He was lucky that he knew most of the outline, and made his way to the first place that came to mind: the Hanshi, Lan Xichen’s personal quarters. Once he arrived, he stepped up onto the dock and knocked on the door. “Lan Xichen? Xichen, are you in there?” When no response came, Jiang Cheng groaned and opened the door hastily, walking in. “Sorry for the intrusion”, he muttered, and began looking around for the older man. “Lan Xichen?” As he searched for him, he found out that the place was way to cold to have anyone inside at the moment, and in the end, found out that Lan Xichen was, in fact, not there.
For some reason, panic started bubbling up inside Jiang Cheng, his mind ringing up the worst case scenarios it could think of.
He rushed out of the Hanshi, sliding the door closed with such force that it reverberated against the walls, and he ran out of the secluded area, not really caring if he was breaking the rules anymore.
Where the hell could he be? There’s no fucking way he could’ve gone anywhere far.
That’s when it clicked.
Jiang Cheng quickly made his way to the only other place he could think of. The only other place where Lan Xichen could be. And soon, he arrived at a lonely, deserted house surrounded by purple gentians. Jiang Cheng swallowed hard and pursed his lips, noticing a white-clad figure sitting at the house’s dock.
The Jiang Sect Leader slowly made his way over to him, careful not to step on any of the gentians that surrounded him. Noticing him, Lan Xichen lifted his head up, eyes visibly red and cheeks tear stained, making Jiang Cheng frown. Lan Xichen quickly wiped his face with the sleeve of his robes, something so un-Lan-like, but he didn’t seem to care.
Jiang Cheng approached him, eyebrows furrowed in worry. “Hey...”
Lan Xichen sniffled and turned his head towards him, giving him a small smile that, despite the tearful eyes, still shone brighter than the sun in the sky. Truly, something only he could manage to do. Despite all the sorrow, pain, and grievance that this man had gone through, he still always managed to smile as if nothing had ever gone wrong, as if he was truly okay and the world was the shit mess it was. Jiang Cheng admired that about him. “Sect Leader Jiang,” he bowed im greeted, standing up. “What brings you here?”
Jiang Cheng scoffed and rolled his eyes, his infamous scowl taking place. “Don’t give me that. You know why I’m here, but I should be asking you that, especially when you have a meeting to be hosting right now.” He watched as the other sect leader lowered his head, his eyes downcast. “Lan Xichen, be honest with me. Are you okay?”
That question alone broke down any walls that Lan Xichen had managed to build up in their short moment together. Tears came rolling down his cheeks and a few sobs escaped his lips, muttering a small, “N-No...”
Jiang Cheng frowned deeply and quickly wrapped his arms around the other man, bringing him into a tight hug. He felt Lan Xichen wrap his back around him and bury his face into his shoulder, crying. This wouldn’t be the first time the Jiang Sect Leader comforted the other man, and deep inside him, he hoped it wouldn’t be the last.
“You don’t have to do this if you’re not ready, you understand? You’re in no obligation to do this. To hell with what anyone else thinks, your well-being is what’s most important right now, fuck the others.” Jiang Cheng gently caressed his back, trying to calm him down.
“I-I can’t—I have to do this,” he hiccuped, “I can’t keep hiding away from the world.”
“I’m not saying you have to keep hiding, Lan Huan.” Jiang Cheng tightened his grip around him. “I’m saying you don’t have to do this now if you don’t feel comfortable with it. This is your first time meeting with the rest of the cultivation world in years, it must be overwhelming. You don’t have to subject yourself to that.”
Slowly, Lan Xichen’s crying calmed down and his breathing evened, but neither of them pulled away from each other.
“I don’t know, Wanyin...I have to do this.”
“You don’t. You can just reschedule for tomorrow. And if they complain, who gives a fuck?”
That brought a chuckle out of him. “I-I have to try.” Slowly, he pulled away from Jiang Cheng’s embrace (much to his displeasure), but still kept his arms encircled around his middle. “Are you sure?” Lan Xichen gave him a nod and a small, tranquil smile. “I’m sure...I guess I just needed a moment.”
“Are you ready, now, then?”
Jiang Cheng pulled away from him and held his hand out to him. “Let’s go then.”
Lan Xichen looked between him and his hand, and smiled so widely, no one would think he was having a breakdown just then. “There’s something else I want to try.”
Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow. “What is it?”
Lan Xichen took his hand and pulled him close, their faces meeting in the middle. He closed the distance between them, ignoring the surprised look on Jiang Cheng’s face and pressed his lips against his.
And much to his surprise, Jiang Cheng kissed him back.
They pulled away after a while, slightly breathless, with stupid smiles on their faces. “I-I could get used to that,” Jiang Cheng muttered, earning a laugh that sounded like music to his ears from Lan Huan. “So, us?”
“I think we can do it if we tried,” Jiang Cheng smiled, his forehead pressed against Xichen’s. “Good.”
They walked back into the meeting room, hand-in-hand, and Jiang Cheng realized that this would be the next buzz for the coming months. Wei Wuxian ans Lan Wangji should thank them for taking away the spotlight from their relationship.