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Lan Wangji holds A-Yuan’s hand firmly as they thread their way through the busy street. The day market is alive and bustling, as it always tends to be at this hour in the afternoon, but Lan Wangji’s eyes are not focused on the merchandise today. He is looking for a specific person. He’s heard from the locals that the apothecary has many sons willing to deliver messages, regardless of distance. And Lan Wangji happens to need this letter to cover much distance.

He has never been this far away from them before, and it is beginning to wear on him. Now that he and Wei Ying have settled in their new home, now that they’re not constantly looking behind their shoulders at every moment, Lan Wangji has turned his thoughts to Gusu. He does not necessarily miss it—but it was his home for so long. To be without it is strange.

He had always expected he would live the rest of his days at Cloud Recesses, even before the Sunshot Campaign and Wei Ying becoming the Yiling Patriarch. He had never expected he would marry someone that would take him from his home. He had never expected he would marry someone at all, even. The only person he ever wanted was Wei Ying, and he was always convinced Wei Ying would never want him back. Could never want him back. 

And now, he is married to Wei Ying, and he has left Cloud Recesses. He is not even of the Lan sect anymore. Sometimes, he catches himself in the early morning, attempting to walk down paths he is no longer near. Sometimes, he finds himself mentally scolding himself for certain ways he has failed to uphold the Lan principles. But worst of all, sometimes something will happen that he wants to tell his brother about, and he can’t. How many moments have they missed now?

They finally come to the apothecary Lan Wangji has heard about, tucked away into a corner of a side street. The old man at the counter is very willing to help, eyes alight when Lan Wangji tells him of the letter’s destination. He must want a fairly high price for such a distance.

He is willing to pay whatever he must. He wants his brother to know he’s safe, that A-Yuan is well. He’s filled the letter with as many milestones as he can without mentioning Wei Ying. As much as that pains him.

Someday, he would like to tell his brother and uncle about Wei Ying. After all, they are well out of the borders of the cultivation sects Wei Ying has wronged. They have no plans to ever return. Surely, his family wouldn’t see them as a threat. Wouldn’t reveal their location to anyone.

But it isn’t the right time for that just yet. His heart still races too much when he thinks of the possibility. His mind still wanders when he thinks of all the ways it could go horribly wrong.

The apothecary demands a fairly high price, but Lan Wangji knows they can spare it. Wei Ying has made somewhat of a business selling talismans to the locals, and the crops the old farmer left behind before his death will thrive now that they’ve freed them from weeds and other debris. They still have some of Lan Wangji’s silver pieces as contingency as well. They are living comfortably, in spite of their circumstances. He is certain his husband will scold him when they return home, but Lan Wangji is willing to bear it. He does not wish to invoke the wrath of this man, who holds the fate of his letter in his hands. And he also understands the distance, the dangers this man’s son could encounter. The expenses he will have to make on his end. It will take him many days to arrive in Gusu, even on horseback. 

Upon leaving the shop, Lan Wangji lets A-Yuan lead him around the marketplace, as he promised him when they left earlier this afternoon. A-Yuan is very good at “touching with his eyes,” as Wei Ying has put it, and only pausing at a few stalls to watch the vendors in action. It’s only when they pass a stall of musical instruments that A-Yuan tugs on his hand with determination, and Lan Wangji stills his steps.

“Baba,” A-Yuan yells over the sound of the crowd. Lan Wangji lifts him into his arms so he can speak at a normal tone. “Baba,” he says again, quieter this time, “Xian-gege played the dizi, yes?”

“Yes,” Lan Wangji confirms. Wei Ying must have told him.

He steps towards the vendor, eyes roving over the many different flutes he is selling. He shamefully realizes he has not thought much of Wei Ying’s happiness outside of their marriage. That Wei Ying could miss holding a dizi in his hands. That he could miss making music. Even within their marriage, there could be things he is lacking. Things he would wish to have and has not yet voiced. 

The possibilities open in his mind as Lan Wangji fights to contain them. Wei Ying would never wish to inconvenience him, would sacrifice his satisfaction for Lan Wangji’s. Would do anything and everything to keep him happy, but would never offer himself the same luxury. He cannot have that. He must find a way to ask his husband to tell him what he wants. What he might like.

“Let’s get him a new one,” he decides, stepping closer to the display. 

A-Yuan stares at the different instruments, made from varying materials, as Lan Wangji inspects them. They’re made from different types of bamboo, of wood, even stone—all with their own merits. He’s unsure what Chenqing was made of, but given its darker colour, he would assume a sort of wood. He was never able to examine it very closely—Wei Ying was very protective over it and very wary of anyone’s interest, even his shijie’s Jiang Yanli.

His heart sinks remembering her. Wei Ying must be in mourning, too. How couldn’t he, coming back to this world with the wounds of Nightless City still fresh? And what has Lan Wangji done to help him? 

It’s not like he has forgotten. He supposes they have had other things to worry about. And he has not wanted to upset his husband, either. But how much has he been keeping from him? How much pain has he really been feeling, unbeknownst to him?

“Can we get a dark one?” A-Yuan asks.

He nods, forcing all his thoughts away as he lifts a dizi made of dark brown wood from the display. Wei Ying must have told him about Chenqing before. Must have described it to him. 

He manages to haggle the vendor to a reasonable price. While he is unaware of what is considered “fair” for many things, he does know something about the pricing of instruments. And this vendor is clearly asking for too much. While he is not quite as efficient as his husband, he is sure he would be proud of him for trying.

A-Yuan holds the dizi on their walk home, proudly swinging it around in the air as Wei Ying used to do. Lan Wangji gently chides him about being careful with it—it’s Wei Ying’s gift, after all. But A-Yuan, for all he’s learned at Cloud Recesses, is still young. He holds it as stilly as he can manage for several moments before he’s back to moving around with it. 

Wei Ying will likely do the same. It’s made of a fairly sturdy material, so it won’t break. It can endure A-Yuan’s toying with it.

“Baba,” A-Yuan says after he tires of playing with the dizi, holding it out to him.

“Yes,” he answers, taking the instrument.

“Can you play it?”

“Not well,” he admits. When he was younger, he learned the basics on all the instruments, but his heart was quite taken by the guqin. Once it was clear that would be his specialty, the other instruments were set aside. He still remembers a few things about the dizi. The position of his lips, a couple notes—nothing like Wei Ying.

“I’d like to try.”

He gives A-Yuan’s hand a gentle squeeze. “If you’d like.”

“Can I—can I try yours, too?”

He has not taken out his qin in some time. It lies on a table in his and Wei Ying’s bedroom, perfectly untouched. When A-Yuan was small and sick, before Lan Wangji fled to the Burial Mounds to protect a mere ghost, he would play for him. He has played for him since, here and there when visiting was permitted, but not for some time. He never realized how interested A-Yuan was in it.

“You may,” he says.

A-Yuan grins up at him, and Lan Wangji’s worries briefly fade away. He will talk with Wei Ying later. But for now, he is happy to be with A-Yuan, walking along the path to their home.

Wei Ying is in the front yard, bent over the wooden fence he’s in the process of building. They have plans to purchase a few chickens and some goats, to better sustain themselves. They won’t have to make as many trips to town with eggs and milk at their disposal.

A straw hat shades his husband’s face, and he’s hiked his robes up to facilitate his movement, revealing hairy calves and knobby knees that Lan Wangji finds so endearing. He resists the urge to rush into the mud and kiss the tops of them. Instead, he stands at the edge of the road and waits for his husband to notice him, hiding the dizi behind his back.

It does not take much time at all. Wei Ying glances up from his work, muttering to himself. When his eyes catch Lan Wangji’s, he grins with delight.

“Lan Zhan!” he exclaims, rushing over to greet them. “Back already?”

“Mn.”

“I thought I’d have more time,” Wei Ying mutters, glancing behind him at the piles of wood and other materials.

“There is tomorrow,” Lan Wangji reminds him, noting the setting of the sun. 

“Of course,” Wei Ying agrees. “Did he agree to take your letter?”

He nods, his cheeks warming slightly. “He required… a price.”

Wei Ying gives him a reassuring kiss, careful to avoid touching his clean black robes with his dirty hands. “Of course he did,” he says gently. “But for your brother… I think it’s fair.”

He relaxes, giving his husband a small smile.

A-Yuan, bouncing on his heels, tugs at Wei Ying’s hand. He lets out an impatient grunt as Wei Ying slowly crouches before him.

“And what about you?” he asks. “Did you have a good afternoon with Baba?”

A-Yuan nods emphatically. “We got you a present!”

Wei Ying’s eyes light up as he lifts his head. “Is that so, Lan Zhan?”

He nods. 

“It was Baba’s idea!” A-Yuan tells Wei Ying proudly.

Lan Wangji feels himself blush. “It was A-Yuan’s, too.”

Wei Ying’s smile grows wider as he stands, eyes wide and expectant. His heart beats just a fraction faster as he produces the dizi from behind his back, holding it out in the space between them.

Wei Ying’s eyes widen, then go soft as he stares at the instrument in Lan Wangji’s hands. He reaches for it, then stops himself, lips parting without speaking. 

Perhaps this was a mistake. Perhaps it brings back too many memories that are better left unremembered. He should have asked his husband first. Found some way to decipher if this was something he needed.

Wei Ying gulps and takes the dizi from his hands. Lan Wangji bites back the questions he longs to ask. Does he like it? Is it too much? Should he have given him something different— another instrument?

“Thank you both,” Wei Ying says, clenching his hands around it.

“Do you like it?” A-Yuan asks, and Lan Wangji barely contains a sigh of relief. A-Yuan can display such bare honesty in a way he is still learning to express himself.

Wei Ying lets in a sharp breath, and bends down to be level with A-Yuan’s face again. “Yes,” he says, his voice hoarse. He gives A-Yuan’s cheek an affectionate pinch and breathes deeply. “Thank you.”

“Can you play?”

Wei Ying bites his lip, gulping again, and Lan Wangji rests his hand on A-Yuan’s head. “Not now,” he tells him. “We must eat dinner.”

Wei Ying’s shoulders relax by a fraction. He gives Lan Wangji a kiss on the cheek before they enter their home. 

It reassures him. Somewhat.


Wei Ying is quiet tonight. He’s been quiet every night since that day Lan Wangji returned from posting his letter. He smiles and teases A-Yuan as he always does, but Lan Wangji has noted hidden edges beneath those gestures. The tension in his husband’s shoulders. The heavy dark circles beneath his eyes from disrupted sleep. With every glance, the regret settles into him further. He had hoped to make his husband happy, but it seems he’d misinterpreted. 

Now, he is unsure how to broach the subject as Wei Ying silently soaks in the bath. How to ease this current between them. It is an old, familiar feeling—this impossible divide between them, stretching wider and wider ever since Wei Ying first emerged from the Burial Mounds with Chenqing. He is just as out of his depth as he was back then. Just as helpless. These first few weeks of marriage have been blissful. They have not yet had to deal with… whatever this is.

He kneels before the tub, behind Wei Ying, and lathers his hands with soap. While he may not know what to say, at least he can care for his husband. He can show his affection.

Burying his fingers into Wei Ying’s hair, he slowly massages the soap into his scalp. There is much tension at the base of his skull, and Lan Wangji digs his knuckles into it, comforted when Wei Ying sighs in relief. He leans in as Lan Wangji pushes the knots with his thumbs, working them in small circles.

“That’s nice, Lan Zhan,” he murmurs, reaching behind him to brush his fingers against Lan Wangji’s sleeve.

Comforted, he continues his ministrations, pressing a little harder until he feels the muscles fully relax. Wei Ying lets out a small moan as he lowers his hands to concentrate on the tension in his neck, shuddering when his fingers pass over a particularly tender area. How long has he been holding all this ?How could Lan Wangji have failed to notice it?

“I’m sorry, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs as Lan Wangji runs his thumbs up and down either side of his spine. “I’ve been quiet these days.”

“It is fine,” he assures him, even if it’s not entirely true. It would be fine, if Lan Wangji knew how to deal with it. If he knew what it meant.

“I didn’t expect… the dizi… just brought up a lot of memories.”

“I see,” he says. He expected as much. “I thought…” He sighs as he lowers his hands to massage the sides of Wei Ying’s shoulders. “Perhaps you missed it. Your music.”

“I do!” Wei Ying exclaims, almost immediately. “I did. I just…” Wei Ying shakes his head. “Well. I’ve been trying very hard to not think about certain things and… now I am.”

He kisses the back of his husband’s head, tasting soap as he does. It’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make. “How can I help?”

“I don’t know,” Wei Ying murmurs miserably. He groans as Lan Wangji rubs against a large knot, pressing back against his hand. 

“Wei Ying…”
“I’m not…” Wei Ying sighs. “I’m not used to…”

“I know,” he reassures him. He’s not used to this, either. Not used to having someone to make things better, to bare his soul to. Sometimes, he finds it difficult to be open, even if he wants to.

Finally, his husband asks, in a very small voice, “Help me forget?”

He kisses his husband’s cheek. “Of course.”

There is more he should do. More he could do. Wei Ying has done so much to ensure his happiness, the least he can do is ask how he can do the same.

“How?”

“Uh.” Wei Ying lets out a long sigh, shifting uncomfortably in the water. He laughs nervously, tucking his hair behind his ear. They are both unfamiliar with asking for what they want. “Can you… just…”

“Wei Ying,” he reproaches gently, stroking his husband’s shoulder blades. He pushes his hair to one side so he can kiss them both.

His husband sighs against Lan Wangji’s lips, leaning forward to expose more of his back. “Take control, Lan Zhan,” he whispers. “Fuck me.”

Lan Wangji freezes, struck by memories long forgotten. He brushes his fingers along his husband’s back as he remembers his teenage desires. Back then, before the Xuanwu cave, before Wei Ying disappeared and came back a demonic cultivator, Lan Wangji had been furious by his own desire. He had never failed to uphold his sect’s righteous path, but Wei Ying made him want to. Made him want to do all kinds of unspeakable things.

He’d once fantasized about giving in—shutting Wei Ying up with his lips, stilling his limbs with his own forehead ribbon. He imagined himself making demands. For what, he never truly knew. The images in his mind would fade after he and Wei Ying began to kiss. He did not know much of what came after, besides the strictly clinical instruction he’d been given when he was first able to conceive. He could never quite imagine it.

And then Wei Ying went missing. Wei Ying was presumed dead. And Wei Ying returned from the Burial Mounds, ghostly and pale and dangerous. By then, Lan Wangji’s desires had long since cooled, and all that remained was longing. Longing to ease Wei Ying’s suffering. Longing to help him know he was not as alone as he seemed to feel. He would have gladly given him everything back then, if he knew how to ask for it. Would have surrendered his body to show Wei Ying he cared.

“If… I mean, you don’t have to,” Wei Ying mumbles, startling him from his thoughts. He had not realized how deep he’d gone. “If you don’t…”

“I want to,” he assures his husband, pressing into his shoulders again. Anything to make him happy. Anything to help him. “Is there anything you would like me to do?”

“Just…” Wei Ying sighs when Lan Wangji hits a particularly coiled muscle. “I don’t want… I don’t want to think. At all. Just do what you want to me. Make me… your plaything.”

His throat dries as his words sink into him. What Wei Ying is asking—the level of trust that requires… His eyes prick as he rubs his husband’s shoulders. His stomach quakes as he imagines it. Using Wei Ying. Owning Wei Ying.

“Alright,” he says finally, hoarsely. “I can.”

Will he be able to deliver what his husband craves? He is not as inexperienced as he once was. Wei Ying has purchased a few volumes to expand his horizons—some of which they’ve attempted to recreate themselves, others they have not. Some of those scenarios not yet attempted come to mind now. He just needs a few moments to decide. He cannot just “go with it” as Wei Ying might.

“Finish here and wait for me on the bed,” he says, standing.

Wei Ying turns to meet his eyes, grinning. “Alright.”

As he slips behind the dressing screen, he hears Wei Ying splashing about, likely vigorously scrubbing himself to begin the evening’s proceedings as soon as possible. His heart beats with fondness as he pictures his frantic motions, as he hears him duck his head beneath the water and come up with a gasp.

He undresses methodically, considering everything he could to do that Wei Ying would likely also enjoy. There is still so much they have never discussed, but he will do his best to make this a good experience. It’s his first time… trying anything like this.

In spite of what they’re about to do, he still changes into his sleeping robes. He crosses the room and collects the silence talismans Wei Ying keeps in ample supply. He posts them along the doors, secures the lock—just in case. If A-Yuan needs them, he will make his presence known, and give them a chance to make themselves decent. But he has been sleeping through the night since they settled into their home. The traveling must have been taxing on him.

When he finishes all his preparations, he finds his husband waiting for him on the bed. He’s sitting in the middle, naked but for a robe thrown over him for warmth, skin shining from the bath. Lan Wangji meets his husband’s eyes, alert and bright, watching his every move. His heart pounds in his ears as he slowly advances towards him. He can only hope Wei Ying will enjoy it. That he’ll forget everything weighing him down for a moment.

His husband stares up at him, eager and expectant, as he sinks onto the mattress in front of him. Normally, he is the one to initiate—it feels strange to be the one expected to begin. In some ways, he can barely think of it.

He reaches for his husband—always a good place to start—and strokes his cheek. Wei Ying closes his eyes and leans into him, pressing his lips against his palm. Lan Wangji lets out a small hum of approval, letting his hand trail up his cheek, into his tangled, damp hair. Part of him longs to pass a comb through it, ease every knot with gentle precision, but he is aware that is not what his husband had in mind. He will do it after, when he is relaxed and content. He will put his husband’s head in his lap and work through every knot, until only soft waves remain.

“Wei Ying,” he murmurs, giving his hair a gentle tug. “Wei Ying.”

He has nothing to say. He just loves saying his name.

Wei Ying slumps forward as he runs his fingers along his scalp, shoulders relaxing as he presses his face into Lan Wangji’s chest. He kisses the hollow in his throat, lips mouthing against his skin. Lan Wangji sinks into it, feels the heat of his breath and the wet of his tongue flicking out now and again. 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying moans softly. “Lan Zhan.”

“I know,” he murmurs, untangling his fingers from his hair. His heart swoops upwards as he sets his plan in motion. As he curls his fingers around his husband’s wrists, and gives him what he wants.

He stretches Wei Ying onto the mattress, pinning his wrists above him. His long-forgotten fantasies return to him as he pulls away his forehead ribbon, as he wraps it around both of Wei Ying’s wrists. His husband remains perfectly still as he loops the long length of ribbon, squeezing his eyes shut as Lan Wangji ties it.

“Does it hurt?” he asks, running his hands up and down Wei Ying’s wrists. It seems loose enough—he tied it so that it can easily be undone. It will not constrict Wei Ying too much, should he become overwhelmed by it.

Wei Ying shakes his head, keeping his eyes shut. Perhaps he’d prefer it that way. Surrender everything he can to Lan Wangji, to truly forget. Be left with only sensations.

“Do you wish to be blindfolded?” he asks, smoothing his hands over Wei Ying’s half-clothed chest. He realizes, belatedly, that he should have removed his robe before he tied his ribbon. Now that it is secure, he is loath to remove it and make his husband wait longer for what he has already been so patient.

Wei Ying blinks up at him, then quickly shakes his head. “Want to see your face,” he murmurs, tilting up his head with pouted lips.

“Alright,” he murmurs, and kisses his husband with fondness.

Wei Ying is beautiful like this. Still and safe beneath him, body slowly melting into the mattress. There is nowhere he can go, with his hands bound, and Lan Wangji straddling him. He is safe here, with him. And he will never leave him.

Lan Wangji presses his hands against his husband’s chest, pushing into the tension until he hears tendons snap. Wei Ying lets out a low moan as his ribs shift, breathing deeply as Lan Wangji presses lower.

“Oh,” Wei Ying whispers, eyes firmly squeezed shut, as his body creaks beneath Lan Wangji’s hands. “Is that—how it’s supposed to feel?”

“You are very tense.” 

Wei Ying lets out another moan as Lan Wangji squeezes his sides. “That’s just,” he gasps as Lan Wangji digs his fingers into him, “how I am.”

He presses a kiss against Wei Ying’s neck, aching for all the pain his husband has endured. For the pain he still endures. Everything. How he can still smile as brightly as he does is something Lan Wangji cannot fathom. It makes him love him all the more.

“Not anymore,” he whispers. His husband is so strong. So good. He loves him. He loves him. He will never feel this pain again.

He rolls Wei Ying onto his stomach, slides his hands beneath his robe to further relax the muscles in his back. He presses into his shoulder blades, into his hips, into the small of his back, his stomach dipping every time Wei Ying moans in appreciation. He kisses him up and down his spine, until Wei Ying begins to squirm beneath him. Looking for more, chasing more. He will give it to him.

He lifts his husband’s hips, guiding his knees to support them. Wei Ying sighs in anticipation as Lan Wangji grips his hip with one hand, and strokes his cock with his other. He loves this feeling, loves the warmth of his husband, the softness of his skin here. The way his hand slides so effortlessly against him. Wei Ying lets out small murmurs of appreciation as he traces the lines of his cock, as he strokes and teases his balls. He keeps his touch light, always, no matter what else he does. He doesn’t want his husband to come just yet. He has other plans.

He strokes his husband until his fingers are thoroughly slick, then draws his hand away. Wei Ying makes an indignant noise in the back of his throat, wriggling against Lan Wangji’s hand on his hip.

“Lan Zhan,” he whines. “I need… I want…”

“Patience,” he murmurs, pushing up his robe to expose his husband’s ass. He gives it a reassuring squeeze, and Wei Ying goes perfectly still. Like he knows what he’s about to do, even if they’ve never tried it.

He’s unsure it will be good in practice, as it seems to be in theory. That alone gives him pause, makes his heart race, as he lifts his slicked hand and traces his fingers around Wei Ying’s hole. 

“Oh, please,” Wei Ying moans, lifting his hips higher. “Please, Lan Zhan.”

He feels his lips tug into a smile. It seems they’re both on the same page. “You want it?”

“Obviously,” his husband huffs.

He smiles deeper, taking comfort in his husband’s enthusiasm, and pushes a finger inside.

Wei Ying is hot there. Hot and tight. His heart thunders in his ears as he explores it, as he dips his finger in and out and pushes against his inner walls. His husband sighs, long and slow as he opens for him. It’s a heady feeling, having his husband like this. Having his husband submit. He feels his own body shift as he works in a second finger, his inner folds growing wetter as the tightness around his fingers slowly eases.

“Yes, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs, pushing against him. “That’s good.”

Encouraged, he slips a third finger inside, and Wei Ying lets out a sharp moan, sinking his face into the mattress. 

“More,” he whines, writhing beneath him. “I can take it!”

He pumps his fingers in and out, establishing some sort of rhythm, pushing further inside him. His husband moans with every thrust, pushing against him to chase his own pleasure. 

“Lan Zhan…” he pants. “I’m gonna… I can’t…”

“Yes,” he agrees, using his free hand to stroke Wei Ying’s cock, urging him on. He wants him to let go, to feel good. He wants to make him forget every memory that’s ever hurt him.

Wei Ying comes with a shudder, spilling over Lan Wangji’s hand. He strokes him through it, kisses the base of his spine and the backs of his knees. He nuzzles his nose against his thighs as Wei Ying’s breaths slow and his posture droops. Before he can completely crumple into the mattress, he wipes them both off with his own sleeping robe and quickly discards it.

He helps Wei Ying into a lying position, turning him onto his back once again. His husband moves easily, head lolling to one side as he’s turned around, eyes closed with contentment. Already so much more peaceful than when they began. He kisses both his husband’s cheeks, then his nose, then finally his lips, and Wei Ying hums softly against him as he kisses him back. His eyelids flicker open when Lan Wangji pulls away.

“There’s my husband,” he murmurs, eyes half-lidded and lazy.

“Yes,” he whispers. He nuzzles their noses together, breathing in his husband’s laughter. He rubs his Wei Ying’s arms, still stretched above his head, still bound with his ribbon. “Does it hurt?”

Wei Ying shakes his head in earnest. Lan Wangji still feels the need to massage his wrists, to push into the muscle of his forearms, to make sure he is still comfortable.

“Aren’t you so good to me,” Wei Ying says.

His heart warms as he kisses the corner of Wei Ying’s mouth. He is doing well. Wei Ying is happy. It’s all he could want, really. 

His husband sighs against him, tilting his head to kiss him back. They kiss like this for a long time, languid and gentle, until Wei Ying’s tongue darts out into Lan Wangji’s mouth and deepens it. When he moans as Lan Wangji drags his teeth against his lower lip, he knows his husband is ready for another round.

And he is, too. He wants to feel Wei Ying inside him. He wants to ride him as hard as he can, take him deep and fast. But he isn’t quite ready just yet.

He rises from his husband, in spite of his whines of indignation, and shrugs off his trousers. He climbs right over him, settling his knees on either side of his head.

“Yes,” Wei Ying breathes, understanding his intention. “Give it to me.”

He braces himself against the wall, and lowers his hips right onto Wei Ying’s open mouth. He’s warm, his tongue soft, and Lan Wangji slides against it with a soft moan. His body is already so aware of Wei Ying. So aroused by his mere presence. It sends small jolts of pleasure through him as his husband flicks his tongue against him.

He loves this. This feeling of his husband here, tasting him, teasing every nerve in his body. But it’s a different sensation this way, having his husband pinned, unable to move his arms, limited to only slight head movements. Completely at his mercy. 

Isn’t this what he once wanted? To take this? It’s quite different from how he imagined. Wei Ying to chose to be in this position. He trusts him with it.

He loves him so much. He can scarcely breathe.

They exist in this place for some time—Lan Wangji gently moving against his husband’s mouth, his husband letting out quiet murmurs of appreciation that Lan Wangji cannot decipher. He simply sinks into the feeling, of his husband here and now, of the shifting of his body and the growing arousal between his legs. He thinks, momentarily, if Wei Ying were in charge, he would already be sobbing into the mattress as his husband tongue-fucks him—but he also doesn’t mind this. This stillness, this calm between them. His husband must like it too, because he makes no indication of impatience as he drinks him in. 

Finally, he finds himself growing impatient, feeling a little too slick, a little too needy, as his body fully awakens. He carefully extracts himself from his husband, in spite of his incoherent protests. He cannot suppress the smile as he wipes his face with his hand, as he kisses Wei Ying’s lips and tastes the remnants of himself. 

“Love you,” Wei Ying whispers, eyes fluttering as he kisses him back.

His heart leaps as he kisses him again. Hearing that will always feel new, no matter how many times it’s been said. 

“Love you,” he whispers, and aligns himself to take his husband’s already-hard cock.

His husband slides in effortlessly against the slick of his pussy. It fills him in what has become such a familiar way—something his body knows by heart. Here, connected in this way, they are both safe. They are both alive. 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs as Lan Wangji bends over him to kiss his collarbone, moving his hips in small, shallow thrusts. “Lan Zhan.”

“I am here,” he assures him.

He kisses Wei Ying’s nipples, kisses the hollow of his throat and the crook of his neck. He kisses the spaces between Wei Ying’s ribs, grateful they are not as noticeable as they once were. His husband is getting stronger every day, regaining the weight that left him in the stress of living in the Burial Mounds, regaining the definition of his muscle. Every day, the physical traces of their old lives fade. He could never be more grateful.

“Feel so good,” Wei Ying says, thrusting his hips upwards lazily with no clear rhythm. “Want you.”

“Want you,” he echoes, nipping at his side with his teeth. “Like you.” He runs his tongue against Wei Ying’s nipple. “Love you.”

He bites, sucks the mark until his husband is writhing beneath him, bucking his hips with urgency. Lan Wangji takes him faster, propping himself up to bounce on his husband’s cock. Their movements are uncoordinated, messy. Even when Lan Wangji is on top like this, Wei Ying is usually the one in control, holding him down, moving him the way that best suits him. Now, they move in a frenzy, chasing each other’s orgasms. Lan Wangji drags his body across his husband’s, grinding against his dick, biting him all over. He snaps his hips, chases Wei Ying deeper inside him, until he can barely take it anymore. Until his thighs shake and his heart races and Wei Ying tenses beneath him.

They climax together, shuddering. Lan Wangji clings to his husband as the shockwaves rush through him, as his husband fills him, until they’re both still and slick with sweat. Wei Ying closes his eyes as his breaths slowly even, yawning when Lan Wangji rises from him.

“Was nice,” he murmurs as Lan Wangji unbinds his wrists, yawning again. “Good… good boy.”

He presses a kiss against each of Wei Ying’s wrists, his heart warming at his husband’s praise. He clearly succeeded in making him forget. In helping him sleep without the ghosts of the past following him.

By the time he’s wiped them both down with a wet cloth, Wei Ying is half asleep, curling into himself as he slowly fades. He gathers his husband in his arms to pull back the covers, and Wei Ying wraps himself fully around him—arms around his neck, legs hooked around his waist. Like he can’t bear for them to be apart for even a moment. Part of Lan Wangji wants the same. He imagines himself carrying his husband around like this always—safe and warm and protected, always knowing he is loved. In reality, it would be highly impractical, but he doesn’t let logic stop him from dreaming.

He indulges in his husband’s wishes tonight, however, and carries him across the room to retrieve a comb and some hair oil. With some coaxing, he manages to extract Wei Ying from his side, underneath the covers, and climbs in after him. He lays his husband’s head in his lap and smooths a hand over his hair. Then, he oils the comb and begins.

“Hm?” Wei Ying murmurs, lifting his head briefly, only to lay it down again.

“Your hair will be tangled tomorrow,” he explains, slowly passing the comb through a section of thick hair. It resists against his hand, exposing the knot, and Lan Wangji patiently chips away at it with the fine teeth of his comb.

“Alright,” Wei Ying sighs, kissing the inside of Lan Wangji’s thigh. “Feels nice. Gege… taking such care of me.”

“Always,” he murmurs, stroking his husband’s hair. He loves him so much. So very much. He will do anything to keep him safe.


He awakens the next morning at his usual hour, feeling heavy and disoriented. It isn’t unfamiliar to him. He was up late with Wei Ying. It sometimes wears on him the next morning. But when he washes his face in the light glow of dawn, he notes the skin on his face feels… somewhat tight. Dry. Stretched. And when he begins to dress, the fabric of his binder brushes against his nipples and it hurts. The skin is slightly dry when he cautiously brushes his fingers against it, the sharp pain swiftly following as he does.

He used to feel like this around his monthly bleeds, when he was much younger. Still a child, really. It used to be a sure signal he needed to prepare. But over the years, his body adjusted, and his symptoms lessened. He hasn’t ever felt like this in recent memory. This is… unexpected. Does it mean something else?

It’s been… however long it’s been since he bled. His symptoms could just be much worse than what he used to consider normal. There is likely a logical explanation. He will not get ahead of himself. He will not hope just yet.

Instead, he applies a little lotion to his drying nipples and slips on his softest inner robe, foregoing his binder for today. It alleviates some of the irritation, though it’s still present as he slips on a simple cream outer robe made of cotton. The material is breathable, and the cool morning air soothes his irritated skin, but it will not be enough to fully alleviate this… whatever it is. It still clings to him, no matter where he goes.

The early morning passes as it always does. He helps A-Yuan finish getting dressed and ties his hair and forehead ribbon. A-Yuan practices his reading while Lan Wangji prepares their breakfast, stopping every now and again to correct him. By the time he’s finished cooking, Wei Ying appears in a simple black robe, yawning widely before he kisses the top of A-Yuan’s head, and then kisses Lan Wangji on the cheek. His eyes sweep downward, noticing the swell of his chest, and widen.

“Everything alright?” he murmurs, resting his hands on Lan Wangji’s hips. Even that light gesture irritates his skin. He wishes he could crawl right out of it.

He stops himself from wincing and gazes into his husband’s eyes. “They’re sore.”

Wei Ying’s brows furrow in confusion. “Is that normal?”

He nods. “I will likely bleed… relatively soon.” 

Likely. Relatively soon. There is no use letting Wei Ying hope. Not yet.

“My poor Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying tuts. He presses a kiss to his lips, and one the centre of his forehead ribbon. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

He shakes his head. He’s used to handling this time of month alone. If that’s what this is, at least. There is no reason to make a fuss.

“Alright,” Wei Ying says gently, kissing him again. “Let’s eat.”


He wakes from his afternoon rest much later than anticipated. He can tell by the way the sunset filters through the rips in the shades that they haven’t fixed yet that it is almost dinner time. The other side of his bed is empty. Wei Ying must have noticed he wasn’t rising at his usual time and let him sleep.

He sighs heavily, irritated at the way his whole body feels. Irritated by the symptoms that just seem to be worsening as the day goes on. He will probably be bleeding within the next day or so, if his body behaves the way it used to. He will welcome it. Anything but this. He’s forgotten how much he hates this—this before, this anticipation. It nearly outweighs the grief he feels, knowing what it means if he were to begin bleeding. That they will have to try again. And again.

Unless…

He cannot begin to hope for it. It’s too much. It will hurt if he’s wrong.

Wei Ying is in the kitchen with A-Yuan, preparing some sort of soup at the stove. He’s leaning over the pot, sniffing suspiciously as Lan Wangji enters the room. Their eyes meet, and Wei Ying stands up straighter, eyes lighting up.

“Lan Zhan!” he greets with a smile. “I let you sleep. I hope that’s alright? You just… well…”

“It’s alright,” he assures him, taking his husband’s hands. “Thank you.”

Wei Ying smiles, bright and beautiful. It calms him for a moment, makes him forget this strangeness growing within him. “I’m making soup,” he says. 

“I helped!” A-Yuan cries from the table, looking up from playing with his toys.

Wei Ying grins, and adds quickly, “He washed the vegetables. No radishes were put in harm’s way!”

He smiles and gives his husband an appreciative kiss on the cheek. “I trust you,” he murmurs, warm satisfaction glowing in his chest when his husband’s face flushes. It’s easy to forget the way he feels when he looks at him.

The soup bubbles behind them, and Lan Wangji turns to inspect it. He gives it a stir to examine its contents. Vegetable. Simple.

“I figured it was a safe venture,” Wei Ying says regretfully. “Seems a bit bland, though.”

He kisses Wei Ying’s cheek. The effort is so appreciated, even if his technique is lacking. He finds their basket of herbs and begins to select the ones that will make the soup taste better. They’re both learning when it comes to cooking, having only known enough to survive on particularly long night hunts. But recently, Lan Wangji has gained a few tips from the aunties in town who run the vegetable and herb stalls. He’s learning which herbs to blend to make their food flavourful enough for Wei Ying without burning his own tongue off. It’s an ongoing process.

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying sighs as he sprinkles in the dried herbs. “You know just what to do.” He worries on his lower lip, face flushing again. “This afternoon—we ran to town and got you something.”

He steps back from the stove, heart skipping. He is still unused to accepting gifts. In that, he and his husband are similar.

Wei Ying produces a small basket from the cupboard, covered with a cloth, and passes it to him. Once it’s in his hands, he removes the cloth with a flourish, revealing six perfectly steamed buns.

“With red bean,” Wei Ying tells him with a proud smile. “I know… it probably won’t make you feel better, but… well! Who doesn’t love something sweet now and again?”

He stares at the buns, blinking away the sudden tidal wave of emotion rising in his throat. Wei Ying went through all this trouble just to bring these back to him. All without truly understanding how miserable he’s felt all day. All without understanding how much it’s been worsening. When he himself has been having a rough several days. He dropped everything to make Lan Wangji smile.

“Thank you,” he whispers.

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying exclaims, alarmed at his display of emotion. “Is it—”

He sniffs, wills himself to calm. Wills his hormones to stop doing whatever they’re doing. He hasn’t felt like this in so long. It scares him—how wild his emotions can become. How difficult it is to contain them.

It must be because he’s so late, that his body is so out of control. That’s the only explanation.

“I am fine,” he manages, wiping his eyes. “Just… thank you.”

Wei Ying’s shoulders relax as he smiles, leaning in to kiss him on the forehead. “You’re welcome, Lan Zhan,” he murmurs, wiping away a tear with his thumb. “We’ll always look after one another, won’t we?”

He nods, sniffing again. He will always look after Wei Ying, no matter what happens. No matter his own issues, his own pain. He will always have space for Wei Ying. 

And Wei Ying, it seems, will always have space for him.