Jin Ling is having a terrible day.
He’d ended up accidentally yelling at Lan Jingyi again during their lunch period. Lan Jingyi had yelled back, of course he had, and the both of them had been cordoned off in different corners of the field by Wen Yuan and Ouyang Zizhen respectively when their PE class started. Even so far apart, Jin Ling hadn’t missed that Lan Jingyi was glaring at him the entire time.
All Jin Ling had wanted to do was to offer Lan Jingyi a sandwich.
He hates that he’s apparently inherited his father’s colossal inability to have proper social interactions. He could have been like his mother! She would have had no issues offering her crush some homemade food! But no! He had to first take a swipe at the lunch that Lan Jingyi brought with him instead! And of course Lan Jingyi’s frail grandmother who was in the city to get some medical checks done woke up early to prepare it for him!
Jin Ling is an idiot.
His mood lightens up just a touch when Wei Wuxian picks him up from school. Jin Ling’s dajiu is his coolest uncle, not that he will (or can) admit to any of his other uncles without wanting to cause an international incident. His xiaojiu would straight up have a hissy fit, his xiao-shushu would probably hire a hitman, and his xiao-xiaoshu-
Actually, his xiao-xiaoshu probably wouldn’t mind. Jin Ling is quite sure that Mo Xuanyu thinks Wei Wuxian is cool too.
“Bad day?” Wei Wuxian asks, grinning.
Jin Ling scowls when Wei Wuxian ruffles his hair, but the gesture already makes him feel better, so he doesn’t actively complain. “Can we go get something to eat, dajiu?” he asks.
Now that he’s not actively feeling like he’s a loser who is never going to be able to get Lan Jingyi to like him, he’s actually quite hungry. He’d left most of his lunch untouched after that incident with Lan Jingyi.
“Sure,” Wei Wuxian says easily.
He doesn’t bother saying that he needs to check with Jin Ling’s parents first (like xiao-xiaoshu), asking Jin Ling where he wants to eat (like xiao-shushu), or threatening him with bodily harm if Jin Ling doesn’t tell him what happened in school to make him upset (think xiaojiu).
Jin Ling just settles in for the ride, and trusts his dajiu to know where to go, and what to say. This is why Jin Ling likes hanging out with Wei Wuxian the most.
At some point in their drive, Lan Zhan’s new song comes up on the radio.
It’s the one that Ouyang Zizhen is borderline obsessed with, and one that Jin Ling himself enjoys quite a bit as well — I Still Am Your Soulmate. It’s not his usual genre of music, but there is something to Lan Zhan’s love songs that are always a little too sad and a little too real that resonates with Jin Ling.
Lan Zhan truly gets it. Love can’t be sickly sweet and disgustingly happy, like they are in all of the big hit love songs around. Love is...prickly, and painful, and sometimes (or, well, always, it would appear in Lan Zhan’s case), it doesn’t end well.
Jin Ling thinks back of the way Lan Jingyi had glared at him across the field today, and thinks he understands this concept perhaps a little too well.
The chorus hits, and Jin Ling closes his eyes, and hums along with it. He’s just getting into it, when the music stops.
Jin Ling opens his eyes. “Hey,” he says. “I was listening to that!”
Wei Wuxian smiles. “What are you doing listening to a sad love song, huh, A-Ling?” he teases. “Anything you want to share with your dajiu?”
“Shut up,” Jin Ling hisses, and feels his cheeks heat.
Wei Wuxian doesn’t push the issue, but his smile widens, and Jin Ling takes a moment to consider his options. Clearly, he can’t tell his parents about this whole...thing with Lan Jingyi. His xiaojiu is unlikely to be helpful, as will his xiao-xiaoshu. Jin Ling could probably ask his xiao-shushu, and he will probably sit down and listen to Jin Ling’s troubles very seriously, but Jin Guangyao’s default to when something doesn’t work out is to grin and bear it, and then kill them at a later stage, which is the opposite of what Jin Ling wants.
He wants to kiss Lan Jingyi. Hopefully more than once. Hopefully often.
He chances a peek at Wei Wuxian. His dajiu gets along with everyone. Xiaojiu calls him annoying all the time, but he clearly still loves dajiu. Maybe there is hope for Jin Ling after all!
“You wouldn’t understand anyway,” Jin Ling tries, hoping that Wei Wuxian will take the bait. “It’s just-” Jin Ling clenches his fists, and then relaxes them. “It’s hard.”
“What’s hard?” Wei Wuxian asks. “Love?”
Nope, Jin Ling cannot do this. This is too embarrassing to have to talk about, even with Wei Wuxian. Jin Ling is going to have to suffer through this, and content himself with being alone forever, doomed to never be loved by anyone except his family.
“Ugh. I knew you wouldn’t understand,” he groans. “Only Lan Zhan does.”
“Who?” Wei Wuxian asks.
“Lan Zhan,” Jin Ling says, almost rolling his eyes. How did he think that his dajiu would be of any help to him at all? Jin Ling is cursed to be forever alone. “God, dajiu, you don’t even know Lan Zhan? His song is number one on all the fucking charts? We were just listening to him! How can you not know Lan Zhan?”
“Language,” Wei Wuxian scolds, but he sounds...off, and a minute later, Wei Wuxian pulls his car over to the side of the road.
Jin Ling turns to Wei Wuxian, hoping to God he will not have to explain to a jealous Wei Wuxian that Lan Zhan isn’t another one of his granddad’s illegitimate children that has come to join the ranks of Jin Ling’s uncles, but his words die in his throat when he catches sight of Wei Wuxian.
Wei Wuxian’s face is pale, and he’s clenched his fists together in an attempt to stop his hands from shaking.
Something is really fucked up.
“Dajiu?” he calls out. “Dajiu, are you okay?”
Wei Wuxian nods, and then shakes his head. “Fuck,” he says. “Lan Zhan? Really?”
Jin Ling blinks at him, confused, but ends up nodding his head. His dajiu doesn’t sound jealous. He sounds shocked.
“Is there… Is there a photo?” Wei Wuxian asks. “Do you- Can you-”
Jin Ling fumbles for his phone quickly, and does a quick search of Lan Zhan on Youtube. He clicks into the first thumbnail. “It’s the music video for the song,” he says quietly.
It’s evident from Wei Wuxian’s behaviour that he knows Lan Zhan, this much Jin Ling can tell. But it’s still the most surreal experience in his life to see Wei Wuxian watch the moment Lan Zhan appears on screen. It’s just a side profile, backlit, and realistically speaking, you can’t even clearly see him, but Wei Wuxian flinches like he’s seen enough, and he hands Jin Ling’s phone back to him even before the first bar of the song starts.
And then, Wei Wuxian starts crying.
Jin Ling doesn’t say anything for the longest moment. He just sits in the car, stunned to his core at the turn of events, and lets Wei Wuxian have his little breakdown. It’s what Wei Wuxian would do for him.
Jin Ling considers the sad, haunted look in Wei Wuxian’s eyes when he’d returned Jin Ling’s phone to him, and thinks about the way he felt when Lan Jingyi was snarling at him earlier in the day.
Ouyang Zizhen shrieks when Jin Ling tells him about it after school the next day, when they’re both sequestered in Jin Ling’s room, after swearing Ouyang Zizhen to absolute secrecy. It’s a miracle Ouyang Zizhen doesn’t keel over from excitement, judging from the look in his eyes.
“Settle down,” Jin Ling grumbles. “It’s just a theory.”
“Oh, I am so glad you told me,” Ouyang Zizhen says, and bounds over to Jin Ling, enveloping him in a hug. “I knew I was your favourite friend.”
Jin Ling shoves him away. “Ugh, shut up,” he says. “I’m only telling you because you’re Lan Zhan’s number one fan, and I need help.”
Ouyang Zizhen’s eyes shine. “Jin Rulan, I would die for you,” he says solemnly.
“Ugh,” Jin Ling groans, and quickly turns away from Ouyang Zizhen.
He’s not...good at friendships, but Ouyang Zizhen has always been social and friendly enough to carry Jin Ling’s weight. It’s one of the reasons why he gets along with Ouyang Zizhen better than he does Wen Yuan or, tragically, Lan Jingyi.
Ouyang Zizhen rubs his hands together. “Okay, what are we doing?”
Jin Ling dumps a pile of photo albums into his arms. “We’re looking for Lan Zhan.”
Lan Zhan has four songs that talk about libraries and recesses. It’s not hard to make the guess that whoever it was that stole Lan Zhan’s heart, it started back when he was in school. And if Wei Wuxian knows Lan Zhan, if what Jin Ling is thinking is exactly what it is, then Jin Ling reckons he might luck out and find some answers in his mother’s many photo albums of hers and her brothers’ time back in school.
“This is the best day,” Ouyang Zizhen says, before he sprawls out on Jin Ling’s bed, and begins flipping through the photos.
It doesn’t take long for them to make their first sighting of Lan Zhan in the photos. That helps to narrow down the timeline of their search, and it isn’t long before they uncover a treasure trove of relevant photos.
Jin Ling was right — his dajiu does know Lan Zhan. Even more than that, they were friendly! Lan Zhan appears in so many of Wei Wuxian’s photos. He’s never really smiling, but he’s always by Wei Wuxian’s side, always standing too close. In several instances, his eyes are fixed on Wei Wuxian, and fuck, Jin Ling knows that everyone feels love differently, but this, this feeling that he gets looking at Lan Zhan watching Wei Wuxian?
Lan Zhan must’ve loved Wei Wuxian.
Jin Ling’s heart thuds in his chest at the revelation, and he really shouldn’t be surprised, because he’d given this whole thing a proper thought last night, and it was already his theory before he decided to rope Ouyang Zizhen into helping.
He’s drawn out of his thoughts when Ouyang Zizhen makes a noise like he’s dying.
“Look!” Ouyang Zizhen cries, pushing a photo into Jin Ling’s face.
In it, Lan Wangji’s white shirt sports a small stain, and Wei Wuxian is a couple of paces away, laughing. There’s a basket of loquats before Wei Wuxian. He must’ve thrown an overripe one at Lan Wangji, and hit him in the chest. Lan Wangji looks exasperated, but...fond.
“You Threw a Loquat at My Heart is about your dajiu!” Ouyang Zizhen says. “Your dajiu threw a loquat at Lan Zhan, and Lan Zhan threw his heart back at him! Holy shit!”
Jin Ling tries his best to recall the lyrics to the song. Something about spring. Something else about smiles. Something along the lines of: you asked me if I wanted a loquat, and I didn’t know how to tell you what I wanted was your heart.
“Oh my God,” Ouyang Zizhen whispers, “Lan Zhan is in love with your dajiu.”
Jin Ling nods dumbly. “He is,” he says. He thinks back of dajiu’s meltdown in the car, of the way he’d flinched when he saw Lan Zhan’s music video. “Dajiu loved him back. Dajiu...still loves him, probably.”
Ouyang Zizhen shakes his head. “Lan Zhan’s love wasn’t returned, remember? He sang about it in Come Back to Gusu. The person he loved never loved him back,” he says, frowning. “All his songs are about unrequited love. Your dajiu can’t have loved him back.”
It’s Jin Ling’s turn to shake his head. “Not unrequited love,” he argues. “Lan Zhan’s whole thing is that he never told the person he loved that he loved him! How was dajiu supposed to know if Lan Zhan never said anything? How was Lan Zhan supposed to know whether dajiu loved him back if Lan Zhan never asked?”
Ouyang Zizhen thinks on Jin Ling’s words. “Unreliable narrators,” he murmurs to himself. He looks back down at the photo albums, flips through a couple of pages. “I think,” he says gravely, “that it is imperative for us to listen to Lan Zhan’s album right now.”
Jin Ling nods, already fishing his phone out, and clicking into Spotify.
“Pass me my notebook,” Ouyang Zizhen says. “I need to make some notes.”
“Xiaojiu,” Jin Ling asks, when he next sees Jiang Cheng, “what were you and dajiu like when you were about my age?”
Jiang Cheng snorts. “Your dajiu was a demon.”
Jin Ling smiles at that, unable to help himself. “That’s what dajiu would say about you, probably.”
“Perhaps,” Jiang Cheng allows, and he’s smiling too, when Jin Ling turns to look at him. “But he would be lying.”
Jiang Cheng looks to be in a good mood, and so Jin Ling asks, “Did you date anyone when you were in school? Did dajiu?”
“Who would date your dajiu?” Jiang Cheng asks, snorting.
Jin Ling perks up. “Lan Zhan, perhaps?”
Jiang Cheng chokes on his mouthful of tea. “Is Wei Wuxian back on his bullshit again?” he demands. “What’s he doing talking about Lan Wangji all of a sudden?”
Right! Lan Zhan is probably a stage name. Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji. Ouyang Zizhen is going to die when Jin Ling tells him that he’s managed to weasel Lan Zhan’s real name out of his xiaojiu.
“Was I right, xiaojiu?” Jin Ling asks, eager. “Did dajiu date Lan Zhan back when you were in school?”
Jiang Cheng stares at him. “No,” he ends up saying shortly. He seems...upset. “Is your dajiu talking about him again?”
Jin Ling shakes his head. “Lan Zhan is really famous, xiaojiu. We think his songs are all about dajiu.”
“Don’t talk to your dajiu about this, okay?” Jiang Cheng says quietly. “He’s got some...unresolved issues with Lan Wangji.”
“Jin Ling,” Jiang Cheng says seriously, “your dajiu and Lan Wangji didn’t part on good terms. It might upset him.”
Jin Ling thinks back to Come Back to Gusu, of Lan Zhan singing about saying the wrong words at the wrong times, of the almost tangible sorrow in his voice when he sings the words I love you.
Still he has to know.
“Did dajiu love him, xiaojiu?” he asks tentatively.
Jiang Cheng sighs. “More than anything in the world,” he confesses.
The next afternoon, after fifteen plays of Come Back to Gusu on loop, Ouyang Zizhen turns to face Jin Ling with teary eyes, and says, “Your dajiu is a cruel heartbreaker!”
Jin Ling rolls his eyes. “Ouyang Zizhen,” he grits out, “for the last time, it’s clear from the song that Lan Zhan was the one who said cruel things to my dajiu! Of course my dajiu wasn’t going to go back to Gusu with him!”
“Lan Zhan loved him!” Ouyang Zizhen cries. “He loved him so much! Oh god, wait. I just had a thought. There are some notes in Come Back to Gusu that sort of resonates with Love at First Moonlight. Let’s listen to them back to back!”
Love at First Moonlight is the first track in Lan Zhan’s first album. It’s a comparatively lighthearted song about an unplanned meeting, an automatic rivalry, and a smile that rivals the brightness of the moonlight that night.
The song used to be one of Jin Ling’s personal favourites, but now that he’s able to picture Lan Zhan and his dajiu as the characters in the story…
Dajiu has a nice smile, yes, but Jin Ling would never go as far as to think that dajiu’s smile would light the night sky like a soft ray of moonlight.
God, this discovery has ruined all of Lan Zhan’s songs for Jin Ling.
Ouyang Zizhen sighs happily when the song is over. “Do you think your dajiu will sign the album for me, if I asked very nicely?” he asks Jin Ling.
Jin Ling makes a face. “Why would you want dajiu to sign Lan Zhan’s album?”
“It’s all about him!” Ouyang Zizhen says. “Even if no-one else except us and, well, Lan Zhan knows about it, and even though their relationship clearly didn’t work out, I still it’s still...incredible that Lan Zhan wrote so many songs for him! And after so many years, too!”
“Do you think he still loves my dajiu?” Jin Ling asks.
“Absolutely!” Ouyang Zizhen says fervently. “Have you not been listening to I Still Am Your Soulmate?”
“I spoke to my xiaojiu about Lan Zhan,” he confesses. “He seemed to think that my dajiu loved Lan Zhan back.” He thinks about that, then thinks about the lyrics to Come Back to Gusu. “Do you think it could be possible that their unrequited love was just a whole terrible misunderstanding?”
Ouyang Zizhen is quiet in thought for a moment. “Well… It’s true that your dajiu doesn’t date. And he did have that breakdown when he heard Lan Zhan’s name. If it’s because he still can’t get over Lan Zhan…” His face lights up. “Jin Ling, we have to help them get back together.”
Jin Ling blinks at Ouyang Zizhen. And then, “Absolutely not.”
“Jin Ling,” Ouyang Zizhen whines, “why would you plant this idea in my head if you didn’t want me to obsess over it?”
Ouyang Zizhen makes a good point.
In truth, since Jin Ling’s conversation with his xiaojiu, he’s been having thoughts about the possibility that Lan Zhan and Wei Wuxian’s tragic love story isn’t actually as tragic as either of them thinks it is.
His dajiu clearly still has some issues when it comes to Lan Zhan, seeing as how just the mention of him and the sight of his side profile can send dajiu into tears, and Lan Zhan- Well, if Lan Zhan is still dropping intricately written sad love songs about dajiu, then it’s not really a stretch to think that he’s still in love with dajiu, right?
And with Lan Zhan’s concert coming up… Especially knowing that Ouyang Zizhen has secured tickets to the meet-and-greet after the concert…
Well, perhaps Jin Ling did suggest this to Ouyang Zizhen for a reason.
When he tunes back in on Ouyang Zizhen, the other boy is, ridiculously, making offers to Jin Ling to let him meddle in his dajiu’s love life.
“-and, if you want, I’ll also do your Chinese Literature homework for the rest of the year. I mean, just think about how many happy love songs Lan Zhan will write if this all works out!” He gasps. “We might get a dedication!”
Jin Ling’s lips twitch. “I also hate physics.”
Ouyang Zizhen beams at him. “So do I, but for the sake of true love, I will do your stupid physics homework as well, if that’s what it’ll take.”
“Hey, dajiu,” Jin Ling says when there is a lull in the conversation, the next time Wei Wuxian picks him up from school, “do you want to talk about Lan Zhan?”
Wei Wuxian’s hands tighten on the steering wheel. He forces out a laugh. “Did I get you all worried about me, A-Ling?” he asks. “Don’t worry! Your dajiu is absolutely, one hundred percent-”
“-fine,” Wei Wuxian finishes. To his credit, his voice only cracks a little. He is quiet for a moment, and then he sighs. “Your mum said you looted some photo albums. Go on then, let’s hear your theory.”
“You were friends with Lan Zhan,” Jin Ling starts.
Wei Wuxian lets out a huff. “Sort of,” he says. “I was annoying, and persistently stuck to his side throughout high school. He tolerated me.”
Jin Ling looks at his dajiu incredulously, but the other man keeps his eyes fixed on the road. Jin Ling has seen the photos himself. He’s heard Lan Zhan’s songs. There’s no way that Lan Zhan only tolerated Wei Wuxian.
“You liked him?” Jin Ling asks. “As in, y’know, like like.”
Wei Wuxian snorts. “What are we? High-schoolers?”
“I am in high school,” Jin Ling grouses. “You know what I mean!”
Wei Wuxian is quiet for a long moment. And then, a soft sigh escapes him. “Yes.”
“And Lan Zhan?” Jin Ling asks. “What about him? Did he like you back? Did he tell you?”
“I told you,” Wei Wuxian says. “He tolerated me. I wasn’t about to, I don’t know, make it even harder for him to tolerate me by being weird about feelings.”
Jin Ling lets out a distressed noise. “Dajiu, I say this with all the respect I have for you, but what the fuck?”
“Language,” Wei Wuxian scolds half-heartedly.
“Have you listened to any of Lan Zhan’s songs since that day in the car?” Jin Ling demands. “If you have, and you’re still saying these things, then honestly, dajiu, what the fuck?”
“They could be about anyone!” Wei Wuxian says defensively.
“That loquat song was definitely about you, and you know it!” Jin Ling has seen the photos! And look at his dajiu trying to shrug it off like this! “Look. Love at First Moonlight,” Jin Ling says. “Tell me what you think that could be about.”
Wei Wuxian swallows. He doesn’t say anything for a good long moment as he parks his car outside the cafe that they frequent for lunch whenever Wei Wuxian is the one who picks Jin Ling up from school.
He eventually admits, “I snuck out of the halls on the night he was patrolling the grounds. That’s how we met.”
Wow, okay. Ouyang Zizhen is going to lose his mind when he hears of this.
“Dajiu, he literally thinks your smile is brighter than the moon,” Jin Ling says.
“Okay, but that was definitely not what you’d have thought he was thinking, if you were there to see him,” Wei Wuxian says. “He reported me to the disciplinary master! I got demerit points because of him! Your waipo gave me a hiding because of that when I went home that weekend! How was any of that supposed to translate to love at first moonlight?”
“And now?” Jin Ling asks. “What about now?”
“What about now?” Wei Wuxian echoes.
“Now that you know,” Jin Ling clarifies. “Now that you know Lan Zhan also had a huge crush on you, what are you going to do about it?”
Wei Wuxian gives him a horrified look. “Nothing!” he says. “Kiddo, it’s been sixteen years.”
“He’s still singing about being your soulmate,” Jin Ling points out, “and you’re still mooning over him.”
“I’m not mooning over him,” Wei Wuxian says, with a soft, fond huff. “It’s been sixteen years. I was pretty gutted that nothing eventuated between us sixteen years ago, but so much time has gone by. It’s… Even if I…”
Hope wells up in Jin Ling at the almost wistful look in Wei Wuxian’s eyes. “Even if you?”
His gentle prodding seems to wake Wei Wuxian up from his daydream, because Wei Wuxian just shoots him an exasperated look, and says, “Nothing. C’mon, let’s get some lunch in you, and then get you home.”
Ouyang Zizhen straight up smacks him when he offers to pay for his ticket to Lan Zhan’s concert.
“Don’t be a dumbass,” Ouyang Zizhen tells him. “Who else would I take with me, if not you? My dad?” He shudders at the thought.
Jin Ling rolls his eyes. “We have other friends,” he points out. “Wen Yuan? Lan Jingyi?”
Ouyang Zizhen waves Jin Ling’s words off dismissively. “You’re my favourite, young mistress! Don’t you know that?”
Jin Ling feels his cheeks heat. He’s never been anyone’s favourite friend, especially not when Wen Yuan exists, and is just about the nicest person in the world.
“Oh my God,” Ouyang Zizhen says gleefully. “Are you going to cry? Why are your eyes wet? Are you so touched?”
Jin Ling tackles him down to the floor, and proceeds to beat him up with a pillow.
Ouyang Zizhen cackles the entire time.
The next time Wei Wuxian picks Jin Ling up, Ouyang Zizhen is there as well.
“Dajiu!” Ouyang Zizhen chirps when he sees Wei Wuxian, excited beyond belief. This is exactly why Jin Ling had been reluctant to offer Ouyang Zizhen a lift today when he told Jin Ling that his dad was stuck in a meeting. “Can I call you dajiu as well, shushu? My mum is an only child, so I don’t have any dajius of my own. Jin Ling is so lucky to have an uncle like you!”
Wei Wuxian looks at Jin Ling, lips twitching.
Jin Ling sighs. “Don’t mind him,” he tells Wei Wuxian. “Treat him like air. Pretend you can’t see or hear him.”
Wei Wuxian laughs as Ouyang Zizhen squawks. “Now, I can’t do that to my new nephew, can I?” he asks.
Ouyang Zizhen lets out a victorious whoop.
“I told him about your thing with Lan Zhan,” Jin Ling confesses quietly, when they’re at lunch, and Ouyang Zizhen has excused himself to go to the bathroom. “He’s a big fan. He uh, helped with the photos and all that. That’s why he’s so excitable. Meeting you is like meeting a celebrity for him.”
Wei Wuxian shakes his head, amused. “Ah, and here I thought he loved me for my personality.”
“You’re not mad?” Jin Ling asks.
Wei Wuxian ruffles his hair. “It’s nice that you have a friend to share these things with,” he tells Jin Ling. “This already makes you much more superior to your dad when he was your age. There is hope for you yet, A-Ling!”
“What hope?” Ouyang Zizhen asks, catching the tail end of Wei Wuxian’s words.
“Hope that A-Ling here will one day find someone for himself,” Wei Wuxian teases.
Ouyang Zizhen smirks. “Not if he can’t hold his tongue for longer than two seconds when he’s around Jingyi.”
Wei Wuxian perks up. “Jingyi?”
Jin Ling groans. “I hate the both of you.”
Ouyang Zizhen and Wei Wuxian both pat his head.
The day of Lan Zhan’s concert arrives soon.
Ouyang Zizhen is positively vibrating out of his skin when Jin Ling and his dad come and pick Ouyang Zizhen up from his house so that they can drive to the concert.
“Huh,” Jin Ling’s dad says when he drops them outside the arena. “I didn’t know you were Lan Wangji’s fan. You should have said something. Your xiao-shushu and Lan Wangji’s brother are really good friends. He would have probably gotten you both VIP tickets, if you’d asked. Say something next time, and we’ll see if your xiao-shushu can do something for you.”
Ouyang Zizhen and Jin Ling exchange a look.
It’s not hard to tell from the giddy smile on Ouyang Zizhen’s face that he’s thinking that if things go well, Lan Zhan will probably give them VIP tickets for life.
Jin Ling sighs, and shakes his head. “Thanks, dad. I’ll keep it in mind for next time.”
The concert is an astounding success.
Ouyang Zizhen cries at four different points. Jin Ling, to his credit, only tears up once. Everyone has a fantastic time, and all too soon, Lan Zhan announces that it’s going to be his last song for the night.
“This one is a personal favourite of mine,” Lan Zhan tells the crowd. “I have very fond memories of this day. Whenever I’m having a bad day, whenever I feel like I’m starting to miss him too much, I think back to this day. The weather was terrible, it’d been a very long day at school, and he- He wasn’t there that day, for some reason. But he showed up outside my dorm later that evening to give me a present. Our anniversary, he said. We’d known each other for a year. And oh, what a year it was.”
Jin Ling turns to look at Ouyang Zizhen, who is enraptured. Not a story that Lan Zhan has told before, then.
“Anyway,” Lan Zhan continues, “to close up for tonight, this is Our Rabbits.”
After the concert, at the meet-and-greet, Jin Ling has to remind Ouyang Zizhen to breathe. “You can’t meet Lan Zhan if you pass out.”
Ouyang Zizhen sucks in two deep breaths. “You’re such a good friend.”
Jin Ling smiles at the compliment, and gracefully doesn’t say a word when Ouyang Zizhen squeezes his hand so tightly he feels his fingers are going to pop off when Lan Zhan comes to greet them.
“Hi,” Ouyang Zizhen manages to say, “I am such a huge fan! Your songs are all so nice, and the lyrics are all so pretty! I think it’s so wonderful that you got to experience a love like that!”
Lan Zhan smiles at that, just slightly, not the smile that he has on stage. A more genuine one. “Thank you,” he murmurs. “Would you like an autograph…”
“Zizhen,” Jin Ling supplies, when Ouyang Zizhen seems to have gone mute.
“Zizhen,” Lan Zhan says. He smiles at Jin Ling as well. “And you are?”
“Jin Ling,” Jin Ling says. “I uh, also enjoy your songs, but Zizhen is...a whole other level.”
“That’s fair,” Lan Zhan says.
He stays to answer a couple of Zizhen’s questions about various songs and his creative process, and signs some merchandise for them. At some point, Jin Guangyao’s name comes up in the conversation, and Jin Ling confesses to being Jin Guangyao’s nephew.
Eventually, someone comes up to signal to Lan Zhan that he should move on to the next group.
Ouyang Zizhen snaps out of it for long enough to smack Jin Ling hard on the thigh.
“My uncle really likes you!” Jin Ling blurts out.
Lan Zhan blinks at him. “Jin Guangyao?”
Jin Ling shakes his head. “Not my xiao-shushu,” he explains. “My dajiu.”
Lan Zhan looks confused, which is fair. It’s been sixteen years, and even though Lan Zhan might be acquainted with Jin Guangyao through work and Lan Zhan’s brother, he might not be keeping up with Wei Wuxian’s news.
“My mum is Jiang Yanli,” Jin Ling offers.
For a long moment, Lan Zhan doesn’t say anything. Jin Ling and Ouyang Zizhen both hold their breaths, waiting to see what will happen. And then:
“Jiang Wanyin listens to my songs?” Lan Zhan asks, incredulous.
There is a beat of silence, and then Jin Ling cracks up. The whole thing works well to loosen his nerves. When he finally calms down, Jin Ling passes one of the autographed photos to Lan Wangji. “Could you please write one last note for my dajiu?” he asks. “I think he’ll really appreciate it.”
Lan Zhan nods. “Who should I make it out to?” he asks.
“Wei Wuxian,” Jin Ling says.
Lan Zhan drops his pen. “Who?” he croaks.
Ouyang Zizhen lets out a soft gasp beside him. “Oh fuck, it’s happening.”
“Wei Wuxian,” Jin Ling says slowly. This doesn’t look like someone who thinks sixteen years is too long to fix a misunderstanding. Jin Ling is going to get his dajiu a husband today. “My dajiu really liked your new album. There are a lot of details in your songs that feel very personal to him.”
“Is…” Lan Zhan takes a breath. “Is Wei Ying here?”
This, and dajiu didn’t think Lan Zhan returned his feelings?
Jin Ling shakes his head. “He...could be arranged to pick us up from the concert, if that counts for something.”
“I…” Lan Zhan swallows. “It’s been sixteen years,” he says quietly. “Wei Ying probably doesn’t-”
“You should really hear this from him firsthand, but I’m getting that vibe that if I don’t tell you now, you both won’t make it to that point where you get to talk things out, so.” Jin Ling squares his shoulders, and meets Lan Zhan’s gaze. “Dajiu loved you back. He told me himself.”
Lan Zhan staggers backward. He does that! Like Jin Ling’s words have dealt an actual, physical blow on him!
“This is the best day of my life,” Ouyang Zizhen whispers fervently.
They’re brought to Lan Zhan’s private waiting room, and showered with a variety of snacks, while they wait for Lan Zhan to wrap up his meet-and-greet.
At some point, Lan Zhan’s brother comes into the waiting room, and oh.
Perhaps Jin Ling can get more than one uncle a husband tonight.
“Ah, you must be Jin Ling! You look so much like your parents,” Lan Zhan’s brother says. “I’m Lan Huan. Your xiao-shushu is a very dear friend-”
“Xiao-shushu keeps a photo of you in his wallet,” Jin Ling says serenely. “He smiles every time he sees it. I think he really likes you.”
Lan Huan flushes red. “I… Uh, I…”
Ouyang Zizhen lets out a delighted laugh. “You should go and talk to Jin Ling’s xiao-shushu,” he tells Lan Huan.
Lan huan nods. “I should- Yes. I should do that.”
“You are on fire tonight,” Ouyang Zizhen says, when they’re alone again. “Do you want to find someone for me as well? What about A-Qing?”
“Headmaster Song’s little sister? He’ll kill you if you even think about it,” Jin Ling points out.
Ouyang Zizhen deflates. “That’s true,” he says. “Wait, shouldn’t we be focusing on more important things right now? Like how to get your dajiu here?”
“Easy,” Jin Ling says. “I texted him five minutes ago to say that my mum wants the night alone with my dad. He’ll be here in half an hour.”
“Should I tell my dad not to come pick us up?” Ouyang Zizhen asks. And then, “No, no, what am I even thinking? If all goes well, we don’t want to stand in their way of having a nice reunion!”
When Wei Wuxian and Lan Zhan finally meet, neither of them say anything.
“This is weird,” Ouyang Zizhen whispers. “Is it supposed to be like this? Shouldn’t they be embracing each other, and apologising for taking so long to come to terms with their feelings? Shouldn’t they be kissing?”
Jin Ling elbows him quiet, and continues watching.
When it becomes apparent that the both of them are just going to stare at each other like lovelorn teenagers for the next eternity, Jin Ling throws his hands up in the air, and says, “Dajiu, I’ve already told Lan Zhan that you loved him sixteen years ago! Lan Zhan, I’ve already told dajiu that you’re probably still in love with him! Now talk!”
“Not probably,” Lan Zhan says quietly. He’s still looking at Wei Wuxian, which is a good thing! He hasn’t looked away since Wei Wuxian came. “I still am.”
Wei Wuxian swallows. “Lan Zhan,” he whispers. “I… Why didn’t you say anything? I thought you liked Mianmian! I was heartbroken!”
Lan Zhan’s lips part in surprise. “I thought you liked Mianmian.”
“Incredible,” Ouyang Zizhen whispers. He passes Jin Ling the bag of Skittles he’s snacking on. “I want to hear this song.”
“Why would I be in love with Mianmian?” Wei Wuxian asks. “I stuck around you all the time.”
“By that logic, why would I be in love with Mianmian?” Lan Zhan asks. “Wei Ying, it’s only ever been you. How could I love anyone else when you exist?”
There is a beat of silence, and then they lunge at each other, and-
“Okay, nope!” Jin Ling yells, closing his eyes. “Zizhen, we’ve got to get the fuck out of here.”
Lan Zhan’s next album is dedicated to-
The love of my life, and our favourite nephews.
Ouyang Zizhen screams when he sees it.