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rerun from the outside

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A few months into their stay at the Cloud Recesses, Wei Wuxian wakes up weird.

For a start, he's actually woken up in the morning without Jiang Cheng having kicked him out of the bed yet, except he's just lying there, staring up at the ceiling, and when Jiang Cheng demands he gets his lazy ass up already, he starts crying.

It's all very alarming.

Once he's stopped sobbing enough that Jiang Cheng can actually tell what he's saying he seems convinced he's still dreaming, somehow, and doesn't believe he's awake until Jiang Cheng angrily presses his palm to his forehead to check for a fever. He doesn't have one. Physically, he's completely fine, aside from the skin around his eyes being all red and puffy now. Embarrassing.

"I'm fine," Wei Wuxian says, waving him off. "I'm fine! I just had a really… really shitty dream, it's fine, I'm fine."

"Who the fuck cries like that over a nightmare," Jiang Cheng argues, but he lets it go pretty quickly, because loath as he is to admit it, the whole experience was a bit disturbing, and he's not in the mood to keep pushing when Wei Wuxian is still looking like that.

He comes extremely close to picking the thread back up when Wei Wuxian tears up again when he grabs Suiban.

Beside that, he seems to have forgotten basically everything. Jiang Cheng needs to not only remind him that they have class (which, to be fair, is not that rare of an occasion, at least when he wants him to be on time) but also show him the way to where their classes are held (which… has never happened before). He's strange and jittery all day, zoning out constantly, and staring at their classmates like he's never seen them before. Strangest of all, he's well-behaved. Not entirely paying attention, sure - but no longer doodling instead of taking notes, or speaking out of turn, or even teasing Lan Wangji. He just sits in his assigned seat and stares, at least giving the appearance of listening.

If he'd kept that rigid behaviour up outside of class as well, Jiang Cheng would have insisted he get checked out by a healer, fever or no fever. Luckily he doesn't; as soon as they're away from Lan Qiren's watchful eyes he's joking around like normal. He's just a lot more careful about it.

He stops bothering Lan Wangji, finally, and instead swings right over to doing the exact opposite by steadfastly avoiding him. Anytime Lan Wangji looks their way Wei Wuxian is abruptly very, very busy looking somewhere else, and if he so much as takes a single step in their direction they have urgent business to attend to elsewhere. If he actually gets close enough to talk to them, Wei Wuxian deflects, deflects, deflects, and with surprising tact ends the conversations as quickly as possible, without looking Lan Wangji in the eyes even once turning down offers to spar, study together, and on one occasion just to walk (that one seemed to surprise Wei Wuxian as much as it surprised Jiang Cheng).

(The lack of provoking behaviour from Wei Wuxian seems to do nothing whatsoever to improve Lan Wangji’s opinion of him; if anything, the dark stares seem to multiply, now happening even when Wei Wuxian actually hasn’t done anything at all worth getting stared at for.)

It's weird.

He has nightmares, now, that he never used to before, but he refuses to talk about them, and Jiang Cheng can't and won't wheedle it out of him like Yanli could, so he grits his teeth and sleeps lightly and tells Wei Wuxian to shut up and go back to sleep, you moron when he needs to, and other than the nightmares and lack of rule-breaking behavior, Wei Wuxian is pretty much normal again, so he lets it go, deciding that whatever this is it can be dealt with after they're back home.

They're here as guests and they're here to learn. If Wei Wuxian has suddenly found the ability to do so without grievously insulting their host clan through his behaviour, that's only a good thing. Even if it's weird.

A few weeks later, Jiang Cheng has practically gotten used to it.

They all make lanterns together, sending them off into the evening sky with hopes and prayers and promises. Wei Wuxian's has several skillfully painted lotuses and, hiding among them, one single rabbit.

"Shijie, look!" he says, proudly showing it off to Yanli who smiles. He's been monopolizing her attention even more than usual today. Jiang Cheng would tell him to knock it off, but- she's smiling, and that is so much better than the melancholy look on her face after having made her lantern together with Jin Zixuan. Wei Wuxian had taken one look at her and immediately started making a fool of himself, and Jiang Cheng is grateful.

"It's a beautiful lantern, A-Xian," Yanli says dutifully.

"What's the rabbit doing there?" Jiang Cheng asks.

Wei Wuxian shrugs. "It just seemed right, is all. It fits in great, doesn't it, shijie?"

"I don't know," Yanli says. "Isn't it lonely?"

Wei Wuxian's smile falters, just for a second, but then comes back full force. "In such a beautiful place, how could it be lonely? No, I'm sure the bunny is very happy!"

The smile stays on his face as he sends the lantern up and away. They keep Yanli between them all the way back down to the women's quarters, where, of course, they have to part ways, leaving Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian to walk the rest of the way back to their own room by themselves.

"Jiang Cheng, wait here," Wei Wuxian says suddenly, rushing off down the trail.

At first, Jiang Cheng just rolls his eyes and keeps walking. He's not about to start running just because Wei Wuxian's got some stupid idea again.

Then he realises that further ahead of them on the trail are the Jin clan disciples and most importantly Jin Zixuan, and decides maybe for this stupid idea, running is exactly what he should do. He curses under his breath as he hurtles after Wei Wuxian. Even if he's been surprisingly well-behaved the last few weeks, he can't afford to get into a fight-!

He turns the corner. Wei Wuxian is not fighting. Wei Wuxian is speaking politely, even bowing as he turns back to Jiang Cheng, showing no trace of his usual aggression towards Jin Zixuan. Jiang Cheng squints at him suspiciously as he approaches.

"What did you do?" he demands as soon as Wei Wuxian's returned to his side.

"Talked to him a bit," Wei Wuxian says flippantly.

Jiang Cheng punches him in the shoulder. Wei Wuxian flails dramatically.

"Ow! Okay, okay," he relents, "I asked him not to judge shijie by rumours and gossip, but give her the chance to actually get to know him. Reminded him that she didn't choose this betrothal either, and that he was being unfair to her by being so dismissive."

"You didn't threaten him?"

"Not even a little bit!"

"Huh. Think he'll listen?"

"No clue. Felt worth the try, though."

"I guess." They walk in silence for a bit while Jiang Cheng tries to reconcile Wei Wuxian's usual impulsive behaviour with this man able to actually have a civil discussion with someone he dislikes so thoroughly. Then he notices something out of the corner of his eye, and elbows him, lowering his voice. "Lan Wangji is staring at you again."

Wei Wuxian stiffens and groans in despair. "I haven't done anything! I've been the perfect guest!" he whines. "Why can't he leave me alone…"

"A couple weeks ago you wouldn't leave him alone," Jiang Cheng pointed out.

"That's different, I was trying to be annoying," Wei Wuxian says dismissively. "I just don't get it, shouldn't he be glad to be rid of me? I've finally started behaving, isn't that the point of being punished? Shouldn't he be pleased that it's worked?"

Jiang Cheng shrugs. "Maybe he just thinks you've gotten better at hiding the rule breaking. Or that you're planning something big."

"But I'm not!" Wei Wuxian laments. "All this suspicion and I've done nothing to deserve it! I'm suffering, Jiang Cheng, have pity on me."

"Absolutely not."

"Ah, all this unwarranted cruelty… The lack of compassion…!"

"Shut up and get a move on, I wanna go to bed."

Of course, once they get back to the room they instead sit down around the table, because they're not actually planning to go to bed at nine, which is when the night turns from a little bit weird to completely incomprehensibly bizarre.

Lan Wangji enters the room, without asking permission or even announcing his presence: he just barges right in, in spite of his uncourteous entry gracefully sitting down on the opposite side of the table from Wei Wuxian, staring intently at him. "Wei Ying. We must speak."

Jiang Cheng has just about enough time to think what the fuck before Wei Wuxian springs to his feet. "Ha- Lan-er-ge, what a surprise! What a shame that we were just finishing up! In fact, I was just on my way out again, but you can stay here and talk to Jiang Cheng!"

Jiang Cheng's face had better be expressive enough to convey the utter outrage he feels as Wei Wuxian throws him to the wolves. Traitor, he mouths, as Wei Wuxian grins manically and excuses himself, walking across the room almost quick enough to constitute a breach of the 3000 rules.

Unfortunately the path out leads him directly past Lan Wangji, who with an impressively quick motion grabs his wrist.

"Lan Zhan, be gentle with me!" Wei Wuxian protests. Then he winces, flushes red, and stammers, "I mean, uh. Let go, please?"

"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji says, immovable.

Wei Wuxian sends a panicked look at Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng pointedly raises an eyebrow and crosses his arms. Absolutely not, that look says. He hasn't quite understood what exactly it is that Wei Wuxian's done to piss Lan Wangji off, but he's almost certainly got it coming. I am not sticking my neck out for you.

"Lan-er-gege," he says, "This one is very flattered at your attention, but I have very important business elsewhere, so if you could just return my hand to me…?"

Lan Wangji does not.

"Wei Ying," he says in exasperation.

"No, seriously, Lan-er-gege, I really can't stay-"

Sighing, Lan Wangji sweeps Wei Wuxian's feet out from under him, sending him crashing to the floor. Wei Wuxian yelps in surprise, catching himself on Lan Wangji's shoulders. When he tries to push himself back up, Lan Wangji's hands come up to grab him by the collar, holding him still, faces a few scant inches apart.

Wei Wuxian's mouth snaps shut. For several long, long moments, the two of them stare deeply into each other's eyes. Slowly, Wei Wuxian's face goes vibrantly red.

"Oh!" he says. "Oh. Oh wow - yeah, okay, okay, uh-"

"Mn," Lan Wangji says. Wei Wuxian nods frantically as if that were a whole sentence.

With wild eyes, he looks around at the rest of the room, seizing onto Jiang Cheng who, more than anything, is immensely confused at this sudden and extreme shift in mood.

"Change of plans!" he exclaims. "We're getting married! As soon as possible!"

"You're what?"

"Getting married! Jiang Cheng, what's the fastest we could get a wedding planned? It doesn't have to be big or anything, but I think shijie will be sad if we elope, and-"

"The fuck you are!" he explodes as soon as he's pushed through the bewilderment enough to say anything at all. "You've barely even spoken to each other! You- You-!"

"Right," Wei Wuxian nods, "I get that, but trust me, we really really need to get married, like, soon-"

"Mn," Lan Wangji says again, and pulls Wei Wuxian all the way down onto his lap. Wei Wuxian makes absolutely no move to get away. He also does not act as if this is in any way unusual, despite having spent the last several weeks practically running away any time Lan Wangji so much as looked in his direction.

Jiang Cheng is beginning to suspect he is going insane.

"Is this a nightmare?" he asks, out loud. "Am I having a nightmare right now?"

The feeling only intensifies as Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji start making out right in front of him. Enthusiastically.

"Or a qi deviation? Is this what a qi deviation feels like? Can those cause hallucinations?"

"Jiang Cheng, shut up," Wei Wuxian says in between what from the angle Jiang Cheng is sitting at pretty much looks like valiant attempts at eating Lan Wangji's entire face. "I'm kissing my husband."

"You're not married. You're literally not even engaged."

"We're going to be," says Wei Wuxian, and Lan Wangji, the man who has spent several weeks staring darkly in his very specific direction, nods, and says "Soon."

"As soon as we can, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian vows - vows, not a single trace of mockery in his demeanour - and smiles like a goddamn sunrise. "As soon as Uncle Jiang will let me- oh, but your uncle, oh shit, how are we going to talk Lan Qiren into this-"

"I will convince him," Lan Wangji says. "All Wei Ying has to do is say yes."

"Yes," Wei Wuxian says instantly. "Yes."

What the fuck, Jiang Cheng mouths again, staring blankly at the scene in front of him. He'd close his eyes, but it's far too late; the image is already firmly burnt into his mind. He'll never be able to get rid of it. Besides, he's a bit scared to find out what they'd do if he wasn't watching. Is he going to have to talk someone into making sure they're constantly chaperoned from now on? Shit. Yes, he will, or he'll have to play the part, and if this is going to be a thing now and not just some late night temporary madness, spending that much time in their company will kill him. He will die.

Maybe they're possessed?

Wei Wuxian put his hand in Lan Wangji's hair, over the Lan headband that they all fuss so much about, and Lan Wangji lets him. Jiang Cheng does not know of any kind of possession that would incite… this type of behavior.

...he is not going to be the one to explain this to his parents.

What the fuck.