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The Memories Never Quite Go Away

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Lan Xichen exhaled against the skin of Jiang Cheng’s throat, mouthing against his pulse and sucking a bruise onto his skin. His hands ran up Jiang Cheng’s thigh, his palms scorching against his heated skin. 

Jiang Cheng shuddered as his hands crept up to hold his hips, gripping tight as Lan Xichen sank his teeth into his collarbone. There was a prickling sense of unease as he moaned, his head tilted back with his arms around Lan Xichen’s neck. 

Lan Xicheng pulled him further onto his lap, Jiang Cheng feeling the hard line of his arousal as he shifted and ground his own hips down. Lan Xichen shifted them back, Jiang Cheng’s back hitting the bed as Lan Xichen climbed over him, his strong arms supporting his weight as to not crush his lover. 

He slid his hands up to the ties of Jiang Cheng’s robes, undoing them and sliding the material off of his shoulders. Jiang Cheng surged upward to mould their lips together, burying his fingers in Lan Xichen’s hair. 

Tugging the hair in his grasp, Jiang Cheng started to pull him down, Lan Xichen grinding his hips downward in response, their moans muffled in each other’s mouths. 

Lan Xichen broke their kiss and straightened, pulling Jiang Cheng’s hands out of his hair and untying his forehead ribbon, his pupils blown wide and his gaze heated as he stared down at the blooms of red and purple scattered all over Jiang Cheng’s exposed skin.

He pushed Jiang Cheng back down when he tried to meet Lan Xichen’s lips again, pulling his hands over his head and pinning his wrists in place with a single hand, leaning down to run a tongue over Jiang Cheng’s exposed collarbone. 

The sense of unease began to grow stronger, the familiar stirrings of panic beginning to bloom as Lan Xichen kept his gaze, sucking over a red and pebbled nipple before sucking a trailing line of bruises down his torso. 

Jiang Cheng’s muscles began to tense as Lan Xichen reached the waistband of his trousers, splaying a hand over his abs to keep him from bucking up against the pressure. Jiang Cheng’s breathing began to stutter, staring up at the ceiling with unseeing eyes as Lan Xichen slowly undid the ties of his trousers, licking a stripe over his hip bones. 

Jiang Cheng’s heart pounded and tears began to gather at the corner of his mind as a flash of red filled his vision. He heard faint laughter and a phantom hand descended around his throat, his lungs refusing to expand as he heard the voice that still occupied a good majority of his nightmares. 

Come on, where is that Yunmeng fire your clan used to boast of. It’s no fun if you don’t struggle.”  

He began thrashing around, the hand holding his wrists disappearing instantly, while the hand on his abs pressed down momentarily before disappearing as well. There were still phantom hands squeezing his throat, sticky hands holding his wrists together and against a hard surface. 

A few of the acupoints on his chest were pressed and a hand pressed into his sternum before retreating, and the hands holding him down, allowing him to curl into a ball, heaving sobs escaping his chest as he felt more hands touching him, touching his thighs, his ankles, a scream tearing its way out of his throat as he registered a presence looming over his tightly curled body. 

Jiang Cheng threw himself off of the bed and slammed against the corner, curling into himself further as he tucked his head down with his arms coming up to protect his head from blows. 

He continued sobbing harshly, flinching at the slightest of breezes and curling further into himself with a cry as something warm and soft was settled around him. 

His sobs began to slow, but he still refused to uncurl, feeling brushes of skin against his own. Somewhere outside of his little cocoon, the soothing scent of sandalwood wafted over, a low lilting toon from a xiao reaching his ears. 

The door slammed open and two sets of footsteps rushed inside. “Where the hell is he!” 

Jiang Cheng let out another sob and he looked up, meeting the scared gaze of his older brother. Wei Wuxian rushed towards him, skidding to his knees and wrapping his arms around his brother and pulling him towards his chest. Jiang Cheng started sobbing anew as he started babbling, words with no direction falling out of his mouth as he felt Wei Wuxian nodding against his head.

“I know, I know di . They’re not here okay? You’re not there anymore. You’re safe, you’re safe. I promise di , they are dead. They can’t hurt you anymore. You’re safe.” 

Jiang Cheng nodded against Wei Wuxian’s chest, his head throbbing as his tears started to slow, gasping hiccups being the only sound except for the soft reassurances of his older brother and the slow soothing notes of a xiao and a guqin. 

He protested weakly as Wei Wuxian hoisting him into his arms, stumbling slightly from the weight and moving over to the soft glow of a candle. Wei Wuxian settled down and cradled Jiang Cheng’s quivering body in his lap as he exchanged looks with the two Lans. 

The xiao slowly tapered off while the guqin continued playing as Jiang Cheng’s eyes slipped closed and he slowly dropped off into an exhausted and fitful sleep. 

Wei Wuxian pressed a kiss to his brother’s sweaty hair, stroking a soothing hand through the damp strands as he made eye contact with a worried Lan Xichen. 

“It’s not your fault.” Lan Xichen startled a bit before giving Wei Wuxian a self-deprecating smile. 

“It’s a little difficult to believe that when it was my touch that triggered this.” 

Wei Wuxian’s mouth twisted as he broke the eye contact and looked down at Jiang Cheng, smoothing down the furrow between his eyebrows. “You couldn’t have known. Jiang Cheng doesn’t talk about it, and his head healer is the only other person who knows about it and Jin Ling only has an idea from the nightmares he’s witnessed.”

There was a pause before Lan Xichen exhaled shakily, looking at his shaking hands. “I should’ve stopped as soon as he seemed uncomfortable. I-I should’ve paid more attention, should’ve done something other than stand there like a fool as he cried .” 

Lan Wangji stopped playing and gripped his brothers’ wrists and preventing him from digging his nails into his palm. “It is not Xiongzhang’s fault. Jiang Wanyin was willing until he wasn’t. You said you stopped as soon as he struggled.” Wei Wuxian agreed with his husband. 

“Lan Zhan is right Xichen-ge. If I believed that you were at fault, I would’ve torn your spine out from your throat. Jiang Cheng refuses to acknowledge what happened to him and this was bound to happen eventually.” 

Jiang Cheng shifted and whimpered quietly, drawing their gazes to his form as he settled down again, Wei Wuxian’s arms tightening minutely and closed his eyes, sighing before opening his eyes and looking back up at Lan Xichen. 

“I need to know that you’ll give him as much time as he needs, to make sure he knows he is loved despite what happened to him, that he is not ruined or disgusting or someone you can’t be with. I need you to trust him because he’s going to need you now more than ever.” 

Lan Xichen nodded gravely, straightening his spine and swearing to uphold his promise no matter what. They sat in the Hanshi for the rest of the night, watching over the slowly uncurling body of the Jiang Sect Leader as he slowly relaxed, safe in the arms of his older brother.