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It had gone like this:

 

An old, well-loved song; the wind rising around him, rippling through the grass; and then his oldest name, spoken. Wei Wuxian had turned slowly, disbelievingly — well-versed in auditory hallucination, after imagining his name spoken the same way, across the weeks, everywhere he’d gone.

 

But Lan Wangji had stood there as surely as daybreak, the same whites and blues as the mountain sky. Made real beyond doubt only because Wei Wuxian’s weak imagination could never conjure him so clearly. And Wei Wuxian, before he had time to think it through, had launched himself into Lan Wangji’s arms faster than his discretion could catch up with, but — Lan Wangji must have known, somehow, because he’d caught him readily and held him fast.

 

It had been a long hug, a months-gone hug, a hug to make up for lost time, eyes closed and their heartbeats gradually slowing. After too long, Wei Wuxian had pulled back, not entirely enough to disentangle, and said, sheepish and beaming, “Sorry,” and Lan Wangji had simply said his name and kept his hand on the small of Wei Wuxian’s back, and Wei Wuxian had thought about it, thought about it, relentlessly and dizzily, all the way to the nearest town.

 

And then —

 

They’d gotten a room. They’d gotten one room. There’d been no discussion about it, only a rushed supper afterward in which Wei Wuxian had peppered the spaces between them with words, skittish about silences that might be tense or achy from distance. 

 

As it turned out, he hadn’t needed to worry. Of course he hadn’t. Not with Lan Zhan. Lan Wangji had simply watched him talk with warm and steady patience, prompting details with one-word inquiries; all of his usual sexy taciturnity, but his interest in Wei Wuxian’s mundane travels never in question. They hadn’t been apart for all too long, but Wei Wuxian’s memory had managed to unfairly blunt Lan Wangji’s beauty. Probably because its startling surreality is only conceivable when one is directly confronted with it. Wei Wuxian will lose his head if he isn’t careful, if he slips a drink too far. He can’t be held liable for his actions, Lan Zhan being as he is. After all of this time. Completely unfair.

 

After his rambling was through, Wei Wuxian had propped his chin on his hand and asked in turn about Lan Wangji’s goings-on, his new role and the Cloud Recesses and the juniors. He had proceeded to miss every word of Lan Wangji’s reply. Sound hollowed out as his attention strayed, his focus narrowing to Lan Wangji’s mouth moving around words, the firm line of his shoulders. Every part of Lan Wangji is perfect — his face, his body, his voice — in a way that had once been annoying, even threatening. It feels like longing now, a sweet and heavy hurt.

 

Once they’d reached the room, they’d undressed apart, a respectful distance kept between them and gazes averted; separate baths, all layers except one shelled off and folded. Wei Wuxian had picked up a scratch on the road, a careless tumble off a grouchy donkey and an unfortunate rock placement. The old blood flaked off easily in the bathwater, but the pinkness of the wound had remained. Of course Lan Wangji had noticed right away, and of course he’d insisted on cleaning it properly; of course Wei Wuxian had voiced light and bluffing protests, but ceded easily to care. Wei Wuxian had always thought, when he was young, that predictability in a person was stifling, stale. He’d been wrong about that, as with so many other things. He loves foretelling what Lan Zhan will say, what Lan Zhan will do, and being right about it. The intimacy of knowing him the way no one else does or ever will.

 

So, now...and now —

 

Lan Zhan is here, gold-spun in the low light and kneeling, after a long stretch of hot, green days without him. Wei Wuxian is perched on the edge of the bed, his legs dangling as he watches him half-lidded. Lan Wangji’s forearms are strangely naked, the white sleeves of his inner robe bunched up near his elbows as he tends to Wei Wuxian’s leg, and it hits Wei Wuxian with a surge of want so potent that it feels stupid, it feels indecipherable. He wants Lan Wangji in barley fields, dripping in sweat as he works and pinking from the sun. He wants Lan Wangji in the jingshi, hazed through incense smoke and practicing the qin. He wants Lan Zhan between his legs. He wants —

 

Wei Wuxian licks his dry, dust-stung lips, then tries to figure out if the action had been conscious or unconscious.

 

Lan Zhan has finished tending to him. He’s still kneeling, triangulated between Wei Wuxian’s thighs fallen open. He’s staring at Wei Wuxian as though awaiting direction.

 

It would be easy to crack jokes, to tease, but he’s too tired for donning false airs tonight. Tired enough to let the quiet sprawl. Lan Wangji doesn’t seem in any hurry to break it. He’s still watching Wei Wuxian, a minute flickering of his pupils, the weight of his gaze on Wei Wuxian’s body like a physical touch. Drinking him in like he can’t be quenched. 

 

The realization strikes Wei Wuxian strangely, a little sideways: He knows Lan Zhan nearly better than he knows himself, and he doesn’t know what the inside of his mouth feels like. What Lan Wangji would feel like inside of him. They’re already so intertangled that it seems, all at once, bizarre that they haven’t coupled in that way. Almost funny, in some miserable, heartbreaking way. They’d never quite gotten around to that part.

 

“What stopped us,” Wei Wuxian hears himself say out loud. He watches his own hand stretching, reaching out. “Before. From…”

 

Ah, he’s not making any sense. He’s nearly swaying with exhaustion, motes like white koi swimming in his vision from a day of being sunblinded.

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t answer him. But his eyes are wide, dark, attentive. 

 

“Wei Ying,” he prompts when Wei Wuxian doesn’t finish his sentence. 

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian replies, on reflex. “Lan Zhan ah.” His voice is a murmur. “Did you know I love it when you say my name?”

 

Lan Wangji’s hand slides up, catches on the bony jut of his kneecap. Anchors, stays. Something feels inevitable, now. They’re going to do this. Wei Wuxian knows it with a sudden certainty like relief. Finally, finally. It feels sweet, a slow watermelon drip, to stretch these last few moments where they’re apart. They’ve already waited years. Urgency can be patient, too.

 

Wei Wuxian can only reach so far; his hand catches Lan Wangji’s cheek. His skin is surprisingly warm for its pallor, although Wei Wuxian can see the slow flush climbing up his neck, darkening his ears. Cute, he thinks to himself. So cute, in addition to everything else about him. So surprisingly sweet, again and again, in spite of all exterior appearances. Such an easy person to love, so effortlessly, as involuntary as breathing or falling asleep. Men and maidens left and right have fallen for Lan Wangji at a single glance, fallen fawning to his feet; have fallen for him for so much less than the way Lan Wangji is looking at Wei Wuxian now, tender and hungry and burning. Who on earth wouldn’t — ?

 

The thought comes to Wei Wuxian from before, a little liquor-hazed. That he doesn’t know Lan Wangji on the inside, not physically. His thumb hovers over Lan Wangji’s bottom lip. Neither of them are breathing. Then gently, like a question, he pushes his thumb against the parted seam of his mouth. Lan Wangji’s lips close around the pad of it, teeth lightly sinking into knuckle, the heat of his gaze like a brand. As though in a trance, Wei Wuxian probes further, two of his fingers pressing down on Lan Wangji’s tongue. Lan Wangji takes them easily, eyes unwavering.

 

The inside of his mouth is silken, hot. When Wei Wuxian retracts his fingers, he rubs a slick thumb over the pink swell of Lan Wangji’s lower lip, shining it. Lan Wangji still watches him, slightly dazed now, his eyes glassy. Wei Wuxian can feel the skip of his breath against his damp skin. His ribbon is crooked. Wei Wuxian is still a stranger to desire, its newness pink and peeled and raw, every nerve of it exposed. An oyster cracked open to nacre. It makes him clumsy, scattershot. He doesn’t know where to touch — where to even begin. Or where it ends; if he can stop once he starts.

 

“You’re really…” Wei Wuxian murmurs; starts the sentence before he knows where it’s going, and it trails off into nothing while Lan Wangji watches him expectantly and waits.

 

This person, Wei Wuxian thinks, his. He could sketch every moving piece of Lan Zhan in his porous memory, the slant of his eyebrow and the arch of his cheek and the rounded seashell shape of his mouth around Wei Wuxian’s name. Artery to ventricle, inhale to exhale. Incomplete without the other, incomprehensible.

 

He thinks, hazily, that he would crack open his ribs to plant this love until it took root, until the teeming ecosystem of it picked his marrow clean.

 

Lan Zhan is still looking at him. Unmoving, unspeaking. Waiting on Wei Wuxian’s lead? He won’t do anything he suspects isn’t wanted. How can Wei Wuxian tell him, that — or, or show him how —

 

Wei Wuxian is too aware of his heart in his chest, the unruly thrash of it. Aware, suddenly, of a heart that isn’t his, and — that’s a strange thought. A borrowed heart pumping borrowed blood. It’s Lan Zhan’s, either way. Whatever he has to give. 

 

Unless. Unless Lan Zhan…

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian murmurs. “Before. Back then.” He swallows, airless. Ask. “You wanted me?”

 

He means for it to sound assessing, a statement of fact. Instead he hears someone meek. Tentative.

 

Lan Wangji has adopted a frozen-pond stillness, his eyes unmoving from Wei Wuxian’s face. Then, a nearly imperceptible nod.

 

Oh. So he had really.

 

Oh.

 

Uncertainty worms its way into Wei Wuxian’s chest, wriggles uncomfortably. 

 

“Do you,” he says, then licks his lips again. “Do you still...even though…”

 

Lan Wangji’s hand tightens on his kneecap, hard enough to hurt. 

 

“Wei Ying,” he says, low-voiced. “Yes.”

 

Wei Wuxian swallows again, trying to wet his throat.

 

“Can you,” he says, before fear can dilute the impulse. “Can you show me?”

 

Lan Wangji blinks once, his eyes widening slightly at the corners. Had he really not...had Lan Zhan really not known? Perhaps he hadn’t expected Wei Wuxian to ask so directly. Wei Wuxian can hardly believe it himself, his breath caught tight in his mouth, nerves jangling in his belly like a handful of coins shaken.

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t move, not for a moment. Then, so slowly, his hand slides up Wei Wuxian’s thigh, rucking the satin with it, peeling the fabric back. 

 

Wei Wuxian’s quick exhale is audible, enough to where Lan Wangji’s eyes find his at once, assessing.

 

Lan Wangji inclines his head, his loose hair slipping over his shoulders, and he presses his forehead against Wei Wuxian’s bare inner thigh. Rests it there, and stays. The heat of his breath spreads like a stain over Wei Wuxian’s skin. Wei Wuxian is hard, helplessly, edging discomfort. If Lan Wangji were to look up, he would know. Maybe he already does. Unbidden, an old memory surfaces — him and Wen Qing, talking late into the night in the graveyard quiet of the Burial Mounds, both swaying with liquor. They’d discussed sex. Clinically, platonically. Wen Qing saying she pitied men, who couldn’t hide their desire when they felt it. How embarrassing for them. Wei Wuxian saying what if I want — what if I wanted —

 

Lan Wangji’s face is still hidden, his eyes closed, his breathing steady against Wei Wuxian’s skin. Kneeling between Wei Wuxian’s half-naked thighs. His hand is curled around Wei Wuxian’s calf. Wei Wuxian strokes a light hand through Lan Wangji’s hair, damp and silken from the bath. 

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian murmurs. Then tries again, the syllables curling strangely on his tongue, thick like candied haw. “Sweetheart.”

 

Lan Wangji makes a small sound to that. His grip tightens, but he doesn’t surface. The shell of his ear is dark.

 

Lightly, almost shyly, Lan Wangji brushes his lips against Wei Wuxian’s thigh. Then he nips, a small pinch of surface area but sharp enough to mark. Sharp enough that Wei Wuxian startles, that his blood heats.

 

“Aiyo,” Wei Wuxian chastises, then tugs at one pink ear gently. “Are you a dog?”

 

Lan Wangji relents, but the shadow of a smile notches one corner of his mouth, hidden and warm. No one but Wei Wuxian would see it at all, but he knows where to look, and he is always looking, now.

 

“Lan Zhan,” he says. He sounds so unbearably tender, unrecognizable to anything he’s known of himself. “Come here.”

 

Lan Zhan obeys, rising fluidly from his knelt position. His hair is down, just the inner robe and the forehead ribbon left. Wei Wuxian has seen him like this before, but it’s never felt so...anticipatory. Like the preface to something else, to anything further. Wei Wuxian pulls at his wrist, tugging him wordlessly until he gets the message and follows Wei Wuxian onto the bed. Wei Wuxian wriggles back so that his shoulders nearly cram against the railing, the ornate wooden pattern of it digging unevenly into muscle. Lan Wangji nearly follows but hesitates, hovering halfway over him.

 

Wei Wuxian lets his legs fall open, the sheer fabric tightening across his lap. There is no hiding now. Lan Wangji’s gaze drops and Wei Wuxian hears his breath catch. His eyes find Wei Wuxian’s again, molten and dark. An unvoiced question. 

 

Wei Wuxian raises his eyebrows back at him as if to say, You going to do something about it? No need to take this so seriously. After all this gravity and anticipation. Teasing feels more natural between them than shyness. He tilts his chin up, bares his throat in a challenge that he knows Lan Zhan will interpret correctly.

 

Lan Wangji bends to his will. Always that, like a sapling to a strong wind. It hadn’t been so before, before the cliff and what followed, but now...He leans down and nips at one of the tendons on Wei Wuxian’s neck, his mouth trailing feather-light to his collar.

 

Wei Wuxian is shy about this, especially this, but to reveal himself as such would be excruciating. The feeling of it squirms and crawls. He wriggles restlessly under Lan Wangji’s touch, too alight to be patient.

 

“Still,” Lan Wangji orders, his wide palms fitted to Wei Wuxian’s waist, his mouth catching a bare sliver of skin as he speaks.

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian protests, still jittering at the touches, overmuch after so long alone. “H-Hanguang-jun, how can I keep still when his Excellency hasn’t given this lowly one so much as a kiss?”

 

They haven’t, have they? Done that. Wei Wuxian has pictured it enough times that it feels like memory. But no, in both of his lives, they’d never…

 

Lan Wangji looks at him through the parted fall of his hair, his eyes the gold of a candle flame. Wei Wuxian taps his own mouth with a tiny, suggestive grin; teasing enough to give Lan Zhan an out if he...if he doesn’t want to. Enough to be another joke dismissed. He keeps his smile in place even as a cold slither of uncertainty uncoils in his belly. What if he doesn’t…

 

Lan Wangji doesn’t keep him in suspense. Never one to prolong or coquet. He simply leans forward, suddenly so close that Wei Wuxian quietly says “oh — ” before the sound is swallowed, lost to the shock of novelty and sensation as Lan Wangji’s mouth slots against his, careful and precise and very warm. His lips are soft, if a little dry. Wei Wuxian inhales sharp through his nose, a burst of heat shimmying through each nerve; at the sound, Lan Wangji pulls back an increment, faltering. Wei Wuxian follows after him, surges up eagerly into the next kiss, closes off the retreat.

 

Across the days he’d been away, he’d lounged in the summery shade of the roadside, sweating a swamp through his robes, the wind parsing through the trees and the flick of Li’l Apple’s tail swatting his face, and he’d leaned his head back into the itchy grass and thought only of this, of Lan Wangji li and li away; thought through the muggy heat and damp summer wind that Lan Wangji’s mouth would be as cold as a crush of fresh water, that Lan Zhan could cool him down with the mountain ice of his presence. Wei Wuxian hadn’t anticipated the heat, blood thrumming like a scorch of sunlight under his skin, hotter than summer, hotter than anything.

 

Lan Wangji pulls back again, just for a moment, to stare. A little wonderingly, the look of a man who isn’t quite certain he’s awake. Wei Wuxian drags his thumb down Lan Wangji’s cheek, resting again on the corner of his dark, parted mouth.

 

“A long time,” Wei Wuxian says, when he’s capable of talking. He tries the sentence again. “I — I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

 

Lan Wangji makes a sound in his throat that’s close to a laugh, for Lan Zhan, but the noise is strangely anguished. He gives a little shake of his head, closes his eyes, and leans their foreheads together.

 

“Wei Ying,” he murmurs.

 

“That’s me,” Wei Wuxian says. Their mouths are almost touching again, and it’s all he can think about, the beating of his own impatient hunger.

 

“If you go again,” Lan Wangji says softly. He’s near enough that Wei Wuxian hears him swallow. “I’ll go with you.”

 

Wei Wuxian blinks against the sudden sting in his eyes.

 

“Please,” Lan Wangji continues, almost quiet enough to be unheard. “Let me.”

 

“Lan Zhan, I can’t drag you away with me,” Wei Wuxian murmurs, even as he burrows closer into Lan Wangji, his hand sliding to the back of his neck. “As selfishly as I might want to. As xiandu, you —”

 

“I’ll resign,” Lan Wangji says, and it startles a laugh out of Wei Wuxian, a giddy and strangled sound. He’s sick with love, overripe with it.

 

“Your sect,” Wei Wuxian tries. “The juniors, your brother and uncle, Sizhui —

 

Lan Wangji buries his face into the hollow of Wei Wuxian’s neck, his ribbon scraping against skin. His grip around Wei Wuxian tightens so hard that he feels his ribs creak.

 

“You can’t go,” Wei Wuxian says quietly into his hair. “We both know.” He hesitates. His heart starts to pound so hard his chest shakes. Surely Lan Zhan can feel it. “But I...I think I can offer an alternative.”

 

Lan Wangji remains silent and hidden, waiting for Wei Wuxian to continue. 

 

“What if I...what if, instead...I stay,” Wei Wuxian says, rubbing his palms in circles over Lan Wangji’s back. He can feel the bumps of the scar tissue through the thin layer of silk, a ridged maze against his fingertips.

 

Lan Wangji goes alarmingly still in his arms, his breath stopping.

 

“Unless,” Wei Wuxian amends, struck by sudden nerves. “Unless that’s too much. I don’t want to — impose, or overstay, or —”

 

He finds himself kissed more quickly than he knows how to process, a flurry of movement too fast for senses to follow. Ah, Lan Zhan had been holding back before, maneuvering him with care; Wei Wuxian nearly wilts under the force of him now, knocked breathless as he attempts to weakly match Lan Wangji’s fervor.

 

Wei Wuxian gives a winded laugh as Lan Wangji’s lips trail along his cheek, his teeth finding the edge of Wei Wuxian’s jaw. “So that’s — an enthusiastic yes?”

 

“Stay,” Lan Wangji murmurs against his skin. “Stay, stay —”

 

Wei Wuxian cups Lan Wangji’s chin and directs him upward again with a guiding touch, and then they’re kissing properly again, wet and deep and clumsy in their impatience. Lan Wangji is not so precise after all, when he’s too distracted to be. Neither of them are very good at this, probably, but neither of them have the experience to know better. The full-body shiver of their mouths meeting, over and over again, at different angles, different pressures, different temperatures — it’s enough. As in most other things, Lan Wangji's focus is blazingly thorough, entirely unrelenting, not a single part of Wei Wuxian left wanting. Sometimes their mouths miss, or land off-center, but they — they’ll practice, Wei Wuxian thinks. And then his earlier thought comes back to him — he’d wanted to feel inside Lan Zhan’s mouth —

 

Tentatively, he slips his tongue against the seam of Lan Zhan’s lips, a quick dart and retreat. Lan Wangji makes a sound, opens to it, and then — it’s so much better than before, Wei Wuxian’s tongue in the wet heat of Lan Wangji’s mouth, Lan Zhan giving back in turn. Wei Wuxian knows he’s making noise, little whimpers in his throat, and it’s embarrassing in a distant kind of way, but he’s too turned on to mind it, too lost in what they’re doing, in the desperate hitches of Lan Wangji’s hips against his like he’s trying to hold himself back, like he’s trying to control himself. This is what Wei Wuxian has been thinking of, without pause, since the moment his steps turned away from Gusu and every day before, Lan Wangji pinned against him and hard with his tongue halfway down Wei Wuxian’s throat. 

 

They kiss for a long time like this, sticky and sweet and mindless, as if they’ve been doing it all their lives. It feels a little dreamlike, a little unreal; how quickly it had progressed, how wordlessly. Wei Wuxian’s exhaustion from sleepless nights and long days of travel hasn’t been kind. His body is awake and electric, but he finds himself oddly drowsy anyway, lulled by the steady rhythm of kissing. He’s so content he could float away. He’s never felt as safe as...

 

Wei Wuxian’s eyes drift shut, closing into the next kiss, and the next thing he knows, Lan Wangji is gently shaking him, calling his name. Wei Wuxian jerks awake, blinking up at Lan Wangji’s red ears and his mouth swollen from. From kissing Wei Wuxian, oh.

 

“I—” Wei Wuxian says, disoriented, appalled with himself — surely he hadn’t waited years for this, only to —

 

Lan Wangji’s mouth is soft with humor even as he says, low-voiced and very serious, “Am I boring you?”

 

“No!” Wei Wuxian protests, his face prickling with heat even though he knows he’s being teased. “Lan Zhan, I —”

 

“Let’s rest,” Lan Wangji says softly, and he tucks a strand of hair behind Wei Wuxian’s ear.

 

“No,” Wei Wuxian insists again, even as his eyes flutter, threatening to weigh shut. “I wanna make out with you all night, I want to — you’re still —” That certainly hadn’t been a stick of wood dragging against Wei Wuxian’s stomach a few moments ago. “Here, I can — let me —”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says, no less gentle but more firmly than before. “Rest.”

 

Wei Wuxian whines like a petulant child even as he’s manhandled and bodily turned, his back aligning with Lan Wangji’s firm chest.

 

“What if we don’t,” Wei Wuxian begins, unsure of what he’s trying to say, but Lan Wangji understands, and answers, “We have time, now.”

 

“Time,” Wei Wuxian repeats. The concept feels so alien, too much to hope for; all of their days together have been centered around an inevitable farewell, a hand-on-throat feeling of minutes winding down. Wei Wuxian had left Gusu before it choked him entirely, because if he got ahead of it — the sooner he said goodbye, the less it would —

 

Lan Wangji sweeps the hair off the back of his neck, presses a kiss to the bare skin there. For whatever reason, it’s this act, small and thoughtless, that blinds Wei Wuxian with sudden tears, windswept by an emotion he can’t understand, other than the simple force of it.

 

“Hey,” he says, before he can embarrass himself further with any maudlin displays. “You’re really good at that. The. The kissing, I mean.”

 

Lan Wangji huffs a sound that might be a laugh. Lan Zhan laughs a lot now, when you’re listening for it. Wei Wuxian might get to make him laugh every day.

 

They settle together, shifting and grunting quietly as they try to mind each other’s sensitivity. Lan Wangji is pressed nearly flat against his back, his arm slung around Wei Wuxian’s waist. For all their strange intimacies, they’ve never slept together like this, nowhere even close. Wei Wuxian tries to uncoil the hot tension wound tight in the core of him; to slip easily into sleep, as he just had, but his body won’t settle now, a painful throb between his legs. He can feel that Lan Wangji is still fully hard against the small of his back, even though his breathing is slow and measured and he holds himself very still. Wei Wuxian squirms more and squeezes his eyes shut, bites his sore lip. Lan Wangji makes a small, injured sound, only audible so close to his ear. Wei Wuxian wants more, to test what other noises he can coax out of him.

 

Restless, Wei Wuxian wriggles his hips as though he’s settling into a more secure position. And then, experimentally, he rocks backwards, tilting his ass so that he’s flush against Lan Wangji’s lap.

 

Again Lan Wangji makes that exhilarating sound in his throat, punched and involuntary. Then his hand tightens on Wei Wuxian’s hip, an anchor against his squirming. Wei Wuxian feels his face heat at being so effortlessly held still. 

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says in a low voice, like a warning.

 

“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian breathes.

 

“Behave.”

 

Well, that’s not going to happen. Wei Wuxian goes obediently still for a moment, long enough for Lan Wangi to relax and lower his guard. And then he resumes a slow but steady grinding motion backward, his breaths hitching. Lan Zhan can feign self-discipline all he wants, but Wei Wuxian can feel acutely what his body belies; the hard-iron heat of him, unflagging. Lan Wangji’s hand is still wired tight to his hip. Wei Wuxian can feel him watching the dark shape of their hips move together, his breathing just as discomposed as Wei Wuxian’s.

 

There are so few layers between them, just the one each. It would be so easy to slip them down or aside, for their skin to meet. Wei Wuxian can feel himself blushing like crazy, and he bites down on his lip again to keep quiet.

 

“L-Lan Zhan,” he tries, plaintive, pitiful. He’ll beg if he has to. “Please, can you — I want you to —”

 

Finally, Lan Wangji’s control snaps, as cleanly as wood cleaved in two. He yanks Wei Wuxian against him, so roughly that Wei Wuxian’s breath thumps out of him. Whatever hesitancy from before, from the beginning of the evening, has disappeared; one of Lan Wangji’s callous-rough hands drops from Wei Wuxian’s hip, slipping between the satin folds of his robe to tighten around his cock. For a moment, it feels as though Lan Wangji is mapping uncharted territory; testing the heft and length of him, his long fingers sliding up from shaft to cockhead and back down to cup his balls, a thumb to the base. It makes Wei Wuxian wild. He chokes out some inhuman sound and thrusts into Lan Wangji’s hand, too dry and too fast but enough for friction. It’s so good that his scalp buzzes. He’s never been touched like this, not even close.

 

For a few surreal moments, Lan Wangji strokes him just like this, gasping stunned and quiet like he’s the one being touched. Wei Wuxian claps a hand tight over his mouth to stifle the volume of sounds spilling out of him — they’re sharing these walls, after all. But Lan Wangji tugs at his arm, surprisingly rough.

 

“Don’t,” he says. “Let me hear you.”

 

“Fuck,” Wei Wuxian wheezes.

 

Before Wei Wuxian can say anything more to that, Lan Wangji’s free hand cups his jaw, cradling it in a façade of gentleness. Then he tilts Wei Wuxian’s head back into a painful angle with his thumb, arching his throat. Like Wei Wuxian had done to him, Lan Wangji pushes his thumb into his mouth, so sudden and deep that Wei Wuxian gags around it with a wet hck, his eyes welling. Too much sensation, all at once, Lan Zhan’s fingers in his mouth and his teeth a sharp bee-sting on his neck and his other hand stroking his dick steadily, still too rough but wetter than before; their legs are tangled together, slippery with sweat. The pleasure that scatters through Wei Wuxian has nowhere to concentrate, spindling everywhere at once. He can hear the embarrassing sounds he’s making, can feel the desperate way he’s rocking himself against Lan Wangji’s lap for friction, and he doesn’t care, he doesn’t care. Lan Zhan loves with his whole body, and Wei Wuxian hadn’t even known before, he’d never known —

 

“I want to feel you,” he’s saying, thoughtless babble now that his self-control has detached from his brain-to-mouth filter. “I want it, want you, Lan Zhan, please —”

 

Lan Wangji groans low in his throat, the jerky tugs of his hand on Wei Wuxian’s dick picking up speed, and then he tilts Wei Wuxian’s head back further so they can kiss, open-mouthed and panting and the angle all wrong, their teeth bumping. Wei Wuxian whines into his mouth, shuddery and brainless; he can’t think of anything else, just Lan Wangji’s hand on him and Lan Wangji’s mouth and Lan Wangji hard and hot against him, harder by the second, grinding against Wei Wuxian’s pelvis.

 

“Feels good,” Wei Wuxian mumbles, blinking away the wet on his lashes. “You’re so big, I want —”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says roughly, and finally, finally he’s shoving Wei Wuxian’s inner robe up above his hips so that he’s exposed, a directive palm to his lower back to push his spine into a deeper arch. Wei Wuxian spasms at the sensation, almost yelps. Lan Wangji hasn’t let up on him for even a moment, his firm grip on Wei Wuxian’s cock pinning him in place. Then Lan Wangji tilts his hips forward to align them, and it doesn’t — the blunt head of his cock doesn’t even breach him, nowhere near inside him, but Wei Wuxian comes like a punch anyway, just from the feeling of it; rocks back and cries out, then pushes forward into the circle of Lan Wangji’s hand as he spills over his fist. It goes on for so long that for a stunning, weightless moment, he’s wildly unsure that it will ever end, but gradually, his senses trickle back to him. Sound, vision, touch. He can still feel Lan Wangji’s cock against his ass, softer than before, the sticky mess between his legs brand-new, and realizes foggily that Lan Zhan must have followed him, and he hadn’t even had the wits to focus on it. Next time, they’ll…

 

“Yes,” Wei Wuxian breathes out on a slow, satisfied sigh, as his pulse slows and slows. If he were a cat, he’d be purring. “Lan Zhan.”

 

Lan Wangji hasn’t let go of him, his mouth to the ridge of Wei Wuxian’s shoulder and his fingers trailing through the mess on Wei Wuxian’s front. Surprisingly base, for someone so sacrosanct. Wei Wuxian is too sleepy to reprimand him, just mumbles, “Next time, I want you inside, okay?”

 

Lan Wangji exhales against his neck, slow and a little tremulous, then says his name, but Wei Wuxian is already slipping under some dark tide, warm and all-encompassing.

 

When Wei Wuxian wakes again, the bedside candle has long been snuffed out, but the room is suffused with dim, pearlescent light; a sunrise before color. He shifts, a little disoriented by the new twinge in his hips, the chapped soreness of his lips. And then he feels Lan Wangji’s grip tighten around his hips, an expanse of warm skin and muscle tucked against his back side, and he remembers, and takes a startled breath.

 

Further investigation without moving reveals that he’s naked, his soiled robe stripped away. Lan Zhan must have taken it off of him to clean them both up, after...A red heat throbs in Wei Wuxian’s cheeks as he imagines it, of Lan Zhan mopping that mess off of him in so many places.

 

Wei Wuxian turns his head, squinting one eye. Lan Wangji is already awake and watching him silently, corded shoulders bare.

 

“Hey,” Wei Wuxian whispers, and cracks open the other eye.

 

A smile softens Lan Wangji’s eyes and his mouth ticks, the rest of his expression unchanged. “Hello.”

 

Gingerly, Wei Wuxian probes a finger to his swollen lower lip, his face warming further. Memory from last night itches just beneath his skin. Lan Wangji’s eyes follow the movement, and then he reaches out. His thumb presses gently against the flat of Wei Wuxian’s palm, his hand shadowing the outside Wei Wuxian’s, nearly twice its size. Wordlessly, he lifts Wei Wuxian’s arm so his wrist is bared. The forehead ribbon is tied neatly around it; the same way as only once before, so many years ago. When they’d been teenagers in an ice cavern, dripping and shivering and unknown to each other but still...Wei Wuxian had still, even then...he’d known, somehow, that it would always be Lan Zhan by his side.

 

“Turns out I’m very coordinated in my sleep,” Wei Wuxian says thoughtfully, and rotates his wrist in Lan Wangji’s grip to admire the addition. Lan Wangji’s lips press together, an indulgent non-laugh. 

 

Wei Wuxian twists more fully to stare at him, trying to absorb the beauty of him up close. Lan Wangji’s skin has gone amber in the early dawn light, more painting than man. Wei Wuxian lifts his ribboned hand to his chest, then tentatively brushes the old brand scar on with a thumb, rough to the touch.

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says quietly. He hesitates. “When I asked you to stay. My judgment was impaired. If you...if you want to go, I will not...”

 

“No,” Wei Wuxian says, not unkind but swiftly dismissive. “I really am tired of traveling, Lan Zhan. I was tired of it after a week in, without you.” His voice quiets. “I’m tired of being rootless. It’s been a very long time of that.”

 

Lan Wangji’s arm tightens over his waist, a firm squeeze.

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian murmurs, and blinks up at Lan Wangji sleepily. He finds that he’s already being watched with careful scrutiny. “Will you watch the sun come up with me? I’ve never seen it with you before.”

 

Lan Wangji hums and pulls Wei Wuxian closer against him. The overlapping body heat is too much, stifling and sticky, but it’s all Wei Wuxian wants for the rest of his second-chance life. 

 

“Because Wei Ying sleeps too late,” Lan Wangji says, and rests his chin on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder.

 

Wei Wuxian scoffs and bumps his elbow against Lan Wangji’s ribs. “Or, the more sane party would argue you get up too early.”

 

Lan Wangji hums, agreeably ceding the point.

 

They fall quiet then; the room is silent, other than the distant singing of someone on the street below. A single, chirping string of birdsong outside their window, wheedling and repetitive. Even if he falls asleep, Wei Wuxian thinks as his eyelids droop, it’s alright. There will be this dawn and a thousand others.

 

Wei Wuxian yawns so wide that his eyes water. “Yeah, I’m gonna fall back asleep after this. Don’t go anywhere, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Lan Wangji agrees steadily, and together they watch the warm spill of colors as the world wakes.