The air is thick and humid as Lan Wangji crosses the fields with his jug of water. He cradles it against his hip, careful to avoid the growing swell of his stomach. In recent weeks, the baby has become much more prominent, enough that his regular robes have begun to feel uncomfortable. Enough that the aunties in town have begun to fuss over him by giving all kinds of advice on ways to combat every possible pregnancy symptom.
Most of what they say, he does not take to heart, but he must admit he enjoys the candied ginger to aid with his morning sickness more than he has any right to. In Cloud Recesses, sweets were not encouraged to be indulged upon in excess. They were reserved for special occasions and rationed accordingly. He had long since trained himself to refrain from craving them, had long since taken to savouring what he was given, eating small bites until everything was gone.
His husband, however, has been a thoroughly corrupting influence. He insists upon feeding Lan Wangji more and more candied ginger whenever he has a particularly nauseous morning. He brings him back other treats whenever he goes to the market, which Lan Wangji eats under his diligent gaze. What sort of husband would he be if he did not indulge in the gifts brought to him?
Were they back in Gusu, he expects his pregnancy would look much different. Wei Ying would likely sneak about with treats from Caiyi town, but Lan Wangji doubts he would be as eager to accept them. He would make a better effort in attempting to deny them, at least. He would attempt to remain an example for other disciples, even in the privacy of their home.
Could anywhere in Cloud Recesses truly be private, in any case? Before his seclusion, there was always movement along the tranquil paths of his former home. Contained movement, but present. Lan Wangji cannot recall an evening that was not interrupted in some way. Some disciple with a message from his brother, his uncle on a social call that often felt like an interrogation. So many pointed questions about that Wei Wuxian, as though Lan Wangji should know his movements. As though Wei Ying had kept communication with him as he deviated from the righteous path.
He would keep his eyes averted and answer his uncle as concisely as he could. He knew nothing of Wei Ying’s whereabouts. He knew nothing of his plans. He spoke, detached and emotionless, as if he didn’t long to have the answers himself. As though Wei Ying were an unfortunate association he must bear instead of a deep longing for what could have been.
But here, they are free, and they can do as they please. The longer he spends away from his former home, the more foreign it feels to him. The daily routines, the rituals—they’ve begun to fade from his memory, worn and softened like old leather. The most important pieces hold true, but the harder edges give way. He is coming to accept he will never be what his sect had expected of him again.
Truly, he was never that to begin with—not since Wei Ying took hold of him.
Every day, he finds it harder to imagine himself walking through the paths of Cloud Recesses in stark white and blue, with silver adorning his head. That vision of himself is so foreign now—so stiff and inhibited. He much prefers the dark blues and reds his husband has gifted him. When he gazes down at his pregnant belly, shrouded in black fabric, he feels a rightness in his chest. This is where he is meant to be. This kind of life is what he was meant to have.
He could never be pregnant in Cloud Recesses—not with Wei Ying’s baby. Not in the way he wants it. He attempts to imagine the two of them in the Jingshi, carrying this child in the same rooms his mother bore him. He wonders how he would have felt, to pace the floors where she was contained, to lie with Wei Ying in her former bed as the child grows inside him. He thinks it would hurt too much. To be reminded of her suffering with their greatest joy.
He does not exactly remember her face. The images are fleeting and impermanent. But he knows if she were with him, she would smile and pat his hand. She would fuss and fret over him, feeding him more than three bowls in spite of his protests. She would caress his pregnant stomach and tell the baby to be good for Baba.
She would be happy for him—he is certain of it. He has not doubt that his mother loved him. From the moment he was born, to the moment she died, he was hers. She would have loved to know she bore a second son. To know he was bearing his own child now.
He wishes he could have told her. Everything he is, everything he’s become. Now that he is pregnant himself, he finds himself often thinking about her, imagining what she would be doing were she with him now. He spends moments in solitude thinking about her marriage to his father. He ponders the mere existence of himself and his brother. His mother once refused his father long ago. His father married her to protect her life and produced an heir with her. But his own birth? Did his mother even want him? Was it even her choice to have a second child?
He knows his mother loved him, in spite of this.
“Baba!” A-Yuan yells from somewhere up ahead, wrenching him back to the present.
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying exclaims.
He turns just as his husband pops up from behind a row of crops towards the edge of the field. Wei Ying beckons him over with broad gestures, eyes wide and sparkling.
His thoughts of the past quickly fade as he smiles back at his husband’s radiant face while carefully manoeuvring around the rows of crops to reach his husband and son.
“Look what we found!” Wei Ying yells as he approaches. “A stowaway plant! I think it’s a flower. Maybe I could save it.”
“Mn,” he hums noncommittally as he comes to crouch beside Wei Ying. All he can see are the slender leaves of the rice plant.
“It’s about to be drowned, once it starts raining,” Wei Ying says, parting the leaves in front of him. He smiles, marvelling at the unlikely guest in their fields. “Little flower, don’t you know rice grows in water? Get out of here! Look at this.”
His husband strokes a small shoot of a flower, barely grown, and Lan Wangji leans in closer for a better look. The leaves, small as they are, are a familiar shape. The small, closed bud with just a hint of bright blue stares back at him.
The air completely leaves his lungs as recognition hits him.
“Isn’t it cute?” Wei Ying says with a small smile, stroking the tiny leaves with the utmost care.
Lan Wangji nods, his head suddenly very heavy.
This is no coincidence—he is nearly sure of it. All these days thinking of her, wondering how she’d feel about about the baby—about him. This is surely significant somehow.
He closes his eyes for a moment and lets the memory wash over and embrace him. Though he cannot always recall her exactly, he remembers some things. Her gentle hands, her sure smile. How carefully she tended to the gentians that lived in her home. She kept pots of the flowers that grew among the Jingshi’s outer walls within her home—a small comfort the world she could no longer participate in. He still recalls how carefully she used to cut down dead leaves and buds—how she’d cover his hands with her own and help him hold the small knife she used to tend to he flowers.
It was the only weapon she was permitted to hold. Once a strong cultivator, reduced to a gardening knife. But it was still a blade. She still knew how to wield it.
No one ever told him how his mother died.
“Baba—” A-Yuan says, tugging on his sleeve.
He blinks back to the present, to Wei Ying and A-Yuan kneeling beside him. To the fresh air and their healthy crops and the blue sky above them. He swallows down the lump in his throat and bows his head to listen closer to A-Yuan, while also obscuring his face from his husband.
“Wasn’t that… at your… your house?”
His throat constricts again. All he can manage is a quiet, “Mn.”
“Really, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks excitedly, lowering his own head to meet Lan Wangji’s eyes. He pauses when he sees whatever emotion he’s exhibiting on his face, eyes narrowing to worry.
“I helped bofu take care of them!” A-Yuan tells Wei Ying proudly.
Wei Ying startles away from staring at Lan Wangji to turn to A-Yuan. “Did you?”
A-Yuan nods, proud again, and Lan Wangji cannot suppress his own smile. Even in grief, he brings him such joy. His mother would have loved him. She likely would have delighted in such an energetic, boisterous child—so different from his brother or himself.
He wishes he could recall what he was like back then. All he truly remembers is after. Even now, so many years later, it is painful to recall.
“That’s perfect,” Wei Ying says to A-Yuan. “You can help us take care of this now. I know just where to put it.”
He watches as his husband carefully takes hold of the small gentian’s stem, blinking rapidly to keep the threatening tears at bay. It seems even more minuscule compared to Wei Ying’s strong hands, even more fragile as he gently begins to pull it out of the earth. Little by little, the small plant gives, until Wei Ying has extracted it, roots and all. Lan Wangji exhales as his husband cradles the tiny plant to his chest—perfectly preserved without a single leaf out of place.
“Hurry, A-Yuan!” Wei Ying yells, and proceeds to take off across the fields, running uphill towards their home, with A-Yuan following closely behind him. Lan Wangji watches them go, whooping and hollering to each other as the distance between them grows.
Alone, safely hidden by their crops, Lan Wangji breathes. His eyes prick from unexpected emotion, but now that he is alone and permitted to feel them, all that is left is… empty.
He is used to that, too. There are some griefs that can never truly disappear. What was once a knife becomes a burn. What was once a burn becomes a scar. Like the ones on his back, he can often forget the grief from losing his mother. But there always comes a time he remembers. Certain things make him hurt all the more. Certain memories are a dull knife twisting within him.
There is so much he doesn’t know about her. So much that is now lost forever. Whatever he could have learned died with his father. Whatever his brother knows will never be given to him. All that he has are shadows and half-thoughts. They are not enough.
He does not wish to go back to Gusu. And still, he misses it in this moment. It was the only place he could find his mother, hidden among the gentians.
With a sigh, he rises to his feet and takes up the water jug once again. The journey uphill takes him longer than Wei Ying and A-Yuan, and by the time he has reached the outer walls of their house, Wei Ying is already dusting his hands on his dark blue robes.
“All done, Lan Zhan,” he announces as Lan Wangji approaches them. “I put it right over here. Look.”
Wei Ying grabs onto his sleeve before he can so much as move, and drags him towards a small plot of soil near the lotus pond. The tiny, budding gentian now rests in the middle of it—a brilliant flash of green and blue against the dark soil.
“I hope it survives being transplanted,” Wei Ying says. “I think it should. I got it lots of water.” He nudges Lan Wangji’s free arm with his elbow, grinning. “Pretty soon, our house will look like yours back home.”
Home. Lan Wangji has no words to respond. It’s so foreign now, thinking of Gusu as home. It has not been one for a long time—not since Wei Ying died, at the very least, likely even before. He’s forgotten how it felt to be home in the Jingshi. If he ever could be, in the place of his mother’s sorrow.
He keeps his eyes fixated on the whisper of a gentian rather than gaze upon his husband, as his eyes burn once again with a sudden rush of emotion. If he were to look at him now, he is unsure what Wei Ying would see.
“Oh, how careless of me,” Wei Ying exclaims, rather suddenly and loudly. He dives towards Lan Wangji’s side and wrenches the water jug from his arms before he can properly react. He rests it against his own hip with a huff. “Making my pregnant husband do all the heavy lifting. The nerve of me!”
He blinks. The tension behind his eyes fades.
“I am pregnant,” Lan Wangji reminds him, “not infirm.”
“I know,” Wei Ying pouts, patting his belly with his free hand. “But you’re carrying something precious, Lan Zhan. Let me spoil you.”
He smiles, in spite of everything.
The day passes, blurred around the edges. Lan Wangji finds himself lost in memory. It’s strange how one simple thing can alter an entire day, but it seems all the thoughts and feelings he has kept at bay are finally coming for him. He goes through the motions of making dinner, of serving his family. He smiles at A-Yuan and teaches him the qin until they are both yawning and heavy-lidded. But he knows his husband is watching him. That he senses the shift, present since the time Wei Ying found the rogue gentian.
He lifts a comb to work the fine teeth through his hair. It is easier than facing Wei Ying and seeing the question in his eyes. Seeing his hesitance to voice it. Even now, he senses his husband’s reluctance to truly take up space. To inconvenience Lan Wangji in all the best ways. And Lan Wangji is unsure how to reassure him. How to tell him all the pieces he’s hidden away himself. If he were to bare his heart, would Wei Ying follow? Would he finally feel there is no need to earn his place beside Lan Wangji?
“Leave it, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says, sinking to the floor behind him. “Your hair is so nice like this.”
He sets the comb down on the table and glances at the ends of his hair, curling and waving and nearly tangling. It is more voluminous than he has ever seen before. In Gusu, even when damp, his hair was never so unruly. Such an unkempt appearance would never be allowed. But here, in Wei Ying’s domain, he will permit himself to be imperfect.
“I think it’s going to rain,” Wei Ying murmurs. “Can’t you feel it?”
He nods. The heaviness in the air has only grown more and more oppressive as the day has worn on. Now, it clings to him, beneath his many layers.
“I hope it does,” Wei Ying says. “We need it.”
“Yes,” Lan Wangji agrees. The rain is certainly necessary for their crops—and he would not mind it if the heat broke, too. This sort of climate is foreign to him. Even Yunmeng, in the few times he’d visited it, had never felt like this.
But he’d never been pregnant while visiting Yunmeng. He supposes that makes a difference.
His husband wraps his arms around Lan Wangji’s middle, caressing the growing bump with gentle hands. Within him, he feels a gentle rustle—like butterflies and soft breezes, a true sign of life within him. He cannot wait until the time comes where Wei Ying can feel it too. When there’s more than a murmur of movement within.
“What’s our little rabbit doing tonight?” Wei Ying asks him, resting his chin against Lan Wangji’s shoulder.
He settles into his husband’s embrace. While Wei Ying is unable to feel the baby just yet, he wants to know everything. Every shudder, every sigh. Everything.
“Moving,” he tells him.
“Moving?” Wei Ying repeats with a laugh, running his hands all along the swell of Lan Wangji’s stomach. “Where are they going?”
“Nowhere,” he says, smiling. “The baby always moves when Wei Ying is here.”
His husband laughs, low and gentle, and kisses Lan Wangji on the cheek. Within him, the butterflies erupt as his heart beats soundly in his chest. He feels warm—held and safe. The events of the day, the emotions he once felt, fade when his husband holds him.
“Is that so?”
“Mn. They love Wei Ying.”
His husband lets in a shuddering breath, fingers spreading over Lan Wangji’s stomach. “Really?”
He is sure there is a more logical, medical explanation, but he chooses to ignore it. The baby, small as they are, only ever moves for Wei Ying. Only ever stirs for Wei Ying. Perhaps that is Lan Wangji’s own doing. He cannot help but let his heart race whenever his husband casts a smile his way. He cannot help but be happy wrapped in his embrace. His husband, alive by some miracle, safe. Of course, the baby feels everything and eflects it back to him.
“How lucky I am,” Wei Ying whispers, his voice broken.
“I am lucky,” Lan Wangji corrects him, placing his own hands over Wei Ying’s.
Who would he be if Wei Ying hadn’t come to find him? What would he have? Not this. Nothing like this.
His eyes prick once again. He breathes it out. All day, he has been balancing himself on a precipice. It is nearly night, and tomorrow will bring a new day. He just needs to remain calm until tomorrow, and all this will pass.
“Don’t start with me, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying warns him with a laugh. “I won’t have it.”
“It is true,” he says softly, squeezing Wei Ying’s hands. “I would not have this without you.”
His husband breathes deeply and rubs his cheek against Lan Wangji’s shoulder. His lips press against the fabric of Lan Wangji’s robes.
“But…” he says, so softly Lan Wangji nearly misses it, “—do you ever… are you ever…”
He waits for Wei Ying to continue, but all he does is exhale, long and deep, against Lan Wangji. Whatever he wants to say is difficult. For himself, for Wei Ying, he is note entirely sure.
“Ever?” he prompts.
Wei Ying sighs again, rubbing his cheek harder against his shoulder. “Are you ever homesick?” he asks all in a rush. “You can tell me! It’s alright. It won’t hurt me. I promise, Lan Zhan!”
“I am not,” he says.
He could never be, not with Wei Ying here beside him.
“Really, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying insists, “it’s alright if you are! You spent your whole life in Gusu, and it may be years before you can go visit.”
“Still,” he says. “I am not.”
“Lan Zhan, I must—”
“Wei Ying,” he interrupts, flinching at his own impoliteness. It must be done. Surely, Lan An would have done the same for his spouse. “You are my family.” He rubs at his own stomach, dragging Wei Ying’s hands along. “You, A-Yuan, the baby. Mine.”
His husband lets out a small whimper, and Lan Wangji gives him some silence to process. He wishes he knew how to soothe him, how to reassure him that this—their marriage, their family—is permanent. He will never leave him, no matter what happens. He will never be swayed, and Wei Ying will never be alone again.
“I know,” Wei Ying says softly. “I know, Lan Zhan. I just… Today, you were so quiet. I thought… maybe you missed home… and didn’t want to tell me.”
He can understand how his husband would misread his silence. The flowers that grew in his old home now grow here. Naturally, they should remind him of the life he left behind. He should miss it, in some ways.
But that is not the source of his melancholy.
He hasn’t spoken of his mother in many years. It was a forbidden topic for so many years. His uncle would furrow his brow whenever he’d tried to broach the subject as a child, until he grew old enough to understand that the existence of his mother would never be acknowledged by him. His brother would smile and evade questions directed his way until Lan Wangji stopped trying. His mother is simply a subject that brings too much pain for his brother, and too much shame for his uncle. A memory that has curled around Lan Wangji’s heart and choked it since the day the doors to the Jingshi no longer opened to him.
“That is not the case,” he explains. “My mother grew gentians.”
“Oh,” Wei Ying murmurs, low and soft. He tightens his embrace and rubs his cheek against Lan Wangji’s shoulder again. “You don’t speak of her often.”
“Mn,” he agrees.
“Well… I never speak of mine,” Wei Ying reasons. “I understand if… it’s hard.”
He nods, and waits for Wei Ying to continue. To ask further questions. But his husband merely wraps around him and hooks his chin on Lan Wangji’s shoulder. Perhaps that is all the explanation he needs to understand.
Lan Wangji exhales, but he feels no relief. The pressure steadily building within him pulls at his throat and claws at his eyes. There is nowhere to place it. There never is, when it comes to this.
“What… was she like?” Wei Ying asks. Tentatively, carefully. Lan Wangji wishes he weren’t so—that he would feel comfortable enough to speak freely. But such things are not so simple. Wei Ying may not have thousands of principles weighing his every action, but he has his own burdens. As free as the Yunmeng Jiang may have first appeared to Lan Wangji when he met Wei Ying, he knows his husband still bears scars from that time in his life. Moments that shaped him then, that influence his every action.
They are both still learning to live beyond what they’d been given.
“I am thinking,” Lan Wangji assures him, squeezing his hands again. “I… do not speak of her often.”
“Not even with your brother?”
He shakes his head.
“Oh, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying sighs, rubbing his pregnant belly. “That’s so difficult…”
He blinks, his heart heavy in his chest. Every beat thunders, empty and loud. The death of his mother is not something he has ever made peace with. He is unsure how to speak of it without ripping himself apart. Instead, he has learned to endure it. He does not know what it is like to live without the edge of the past pushed against him. Like a threatening knife, it waits to take him and pull him under.
Wei Ying’s hands move from his stomach to his face, stroking it gently. Lan Wangji closes his eyes and relaxes against him. Wei Ying will not hush him, if he opens his heart. Wei Ying will not frown and tell him they cannot speak of it. Wei Ying will listen.
“Tell me whatever you want,” his husband says. “I want to hear it.”
His heartbeat slows as his husband strokes his middle. Wei Ying will understand, he reminds himself. He will always listen.
He wets his lips as Wei Ying’s gentle hands loosen the front of his robes. They’d been wrapped tightly around him, partly because they are still a little too big, partly because Lan Wangji likes the feeling of being contained within something. He is secure like that. Safe. But now, as he totters dangerously close towards this abyss of emotion, the fabric is far too constricting.
“There is much I do not remember,” he tells him, leaning against his husband. Wei Ying’s gentle hands lull him into relaxation. It feels easier to speak with his husband slowly undressing him. The air he breathes is somehow fresher as Wei Ying works to loosen his other layers.
“Her face…” he whispers. “I do not recall exactly. I was still young. I did not see her often.”
“Oh, really?” Wei Ying asks, removing his belt. “Is that a Lan thing?”
“Not entirely,” he responds—though it is true that children are separated from their parents at an early age. Perhaps earlier than he would now agree with. But at least, those children are permitted to visit their parents when they have free, unstructured time. Lan Wangji was never given those same allowances. “My mother did not have the same freedoms as other wives.”
His husband hums contemplatively, the notes low and sour in disapproval. “Because she was the sect leader’s wife?”
He shakes his head, his heart squeezing. He has never said it aloud. He was never given the complete truth. All he has are fragments collected over many years, pieced together in moments of quiet contemplation.
“My father loved my mother,” Lan Wangji says, grimacing. The words, as true as they are, leave a bitter taste. His father’s love has always been honest, but it may not have been right. “The first time they met, it was love for him. But my mother did not reciprocate.”
Wei Ying takes in a sharp breath, tensing. His hands, hovering over Lan Wangji’s outer robe, freeze.
“She refused him,” he continues, every word hanging heavy over him, “and she killed my father’s master shortly thereafter. I was never told why.”
Never, in all his life. Even when he grew old enough to bear it. Even when he grew older still. He had asked once, during the Sunshot Campaign, after Cloud Recesses had burned when all that was true and steady had suddenly fallen. His uncle had merely shaken his head and told him to let the past rest.
He had wondered why then. He was old enough, he had endured enough hardship of his own. He had seen blood and carnage, had felled an ancient beast and faced horrors. He could take the truth of his mother’s actions. His uncle did not need to protect him. Still, Lan Qiren was unyielding.
The more he thought on it, the more he wondered. And it slowly occurred to him that perhaps his uncle was not trying to protect him.
“I suspect… she had good reason. That is why I never learned.”
How could his uncle tarnish the reputation of a fallen Lan master? Was it not better for his mother to appear guilty, to appear unhinged, than admit the man had not followed the righteous path? Was it not better to preserve his memory than hers?
“Such a crime cannot go unpunished,” he continues. He breathes, to keep his words clear and level, but he hears the harsh scratch between the words, feels the way they lodge inside his throat.
His husband runs a soothing hand along his chest, and slowly loosens another layer— silently encouraging him to continue.
“My father could not bear it,” he tells him. His voice feels far away. He does not quite feel present anymore. It is a strange mixture of that pleasant, gentle feeling Wei Ying takes him to some nights, and the cold, detached numbness he has often felt in grief.
“He secretly brought her to Cloud Recesses,” he continues, pressing onward. “He took her as his wife. Anyone who protested, he would challenge.”
He swallows. Wei Ying loosens his innermost layer, spreading his fingers over the top of his binder. He sinks into him, into this familiar, safe place. Here, nothing can hurt them—not even the past.
“She could not live freely within Cloud Recesses,” he tells him. “She was confined to her rooms. Her sword was taken from her, her old possessions were taken from her. After our births, my brother and myself were taken as well. We were permitted to visit every month. Never more.”
He blinks, his throat dries, his ears ring. His husband’s hands come to rest on his belly again, weighed and comforting. Lips brush against his cheek, and Lan Wangji breathes, clutching onto Wei Ying’s fingers. The truth is better. The past cannot hold him if he lets it go.
“I cannot recall her face most days,” he whispers. “I remember gentians in the Jingshi. Cutting away the dead blooms. That knife…”
He closes his eyes, breathes again. Behind him, Wei Ying tenses. He knows. Lan Wangji doesn’t have to say it. Wei Ying will understand.
“She was kind,” he says instead. “She liked to laugh. Her hands were soft. She enjoyed beautiful things, like flowers.”
That is all he knows, truly. There is so much of his mother he will never understand. So much forever lost in his father’s death. And so much of himself lost to her, too. So much she could never know. The air entering his lungs is harsh and dense as he lets those thoughts settle within him.
“There is so much I will never know,” he rasps out. Every word hurts as he punctuates them. Every breath seizes around him. “We do not talk about her. There is so much… She never knew about me. She never knew…”
He cannot say it. It hurts too much.
He has spent so many years surviving. So many years escaping from his realities by throwing himself into everything. Into his cultivation, into respecting the principles of his sect, into becoming the best in every facet. Doing anything and everything to keep himself from thinking on his past too much, too hard. Anything to keep himself from succumbing to the grief he was born within. And if he became the best cultivator in his sect, if he behaved well and lived Lan An’s every principle with dedication, he would be surely rewarded with knowledge. He would someday know the truth. He simply had to reach a little higher, had to be a little stronger. A little more and soon he would know.
It was never enough. He was never enough.
And then, there was Wei Ying. Wei Ying, who filled him with so much despair and so much hope in every moment. Wei Ying, who made him forget everything he’d been before, who made him hope he could rise above where he came from. Who made him dare to dream he could be enough as he was. That he could shed Hanguang-Jun and be Lan Zhan. That they would have a chance at enjoying what was left of their youths.
And even then, he was never enough. He could not keep Wei Ying here, alive and untroubled. He could never protect that which he loved.
He clutches onto his husband’s hands and sobs.
It surprises him. He had not intended… he used to be so much better at holding it.
“Oh, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs, wrapping his arms tight around Lan Wangji’s chest. “It’s alright. Let it go.”
The cry he has always tampered down, all these years, rises up. Up and up, until Lan Wangji can barely recognize the sound his voice makes. Until he’s unsure how he’s making it. It’s so broken, high and low and the same time, splitting and fraying at the seams. He lets it go, lets it build, until all he has are soft gasps and gentle hands holding him.
“Good boy,” Wei Ying whispers, holding him closely, “just feel it, Lan Zhan.”
Relief washes over him at the sound of his husband’s praise. In Wei Ying’s arms, he is weightless. He is good. He is enough.
"I think she would be so happy, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs as his breaths calm. “She would be so happy for her son.”
The sob rattles against his ribs with one last breath before it dies out completely. She would be happy for him. She would be delighted he’d found such a loving partner. That they were expecting a child. That they left.
“So, you lived there after she did,” Wei Ying observes. “A-Yuan said… your house had them.”
“It must’ve been so hard,” Wei Ying says, “living in the place your mother suffered so much.”
He'd tried not to think of it too much at the time. By then, his brother had had it redecorated and refurnished. The pots of gentians had been moved to another residence, leaving only the ones that grew wild by the entrance. When he looked upon his residence, he did not see the place his mother had lived in. Or perhaps he had lied to himself in order to live.
“I tried…” he whispers, his throat hoarse. “I tried not to think on it.”
“Ah, Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying laughs darkly. “I know all about that.”
He kisses Lan Wangji’s cheek, and wipes his face with his own sleeve. It is far too wet to dry adequately, but he appreciates the effort. It makes him feel loved.
“I never really knew my parents,” Wei Ying says. “Only fragments people told me. You know, Jiang-shushu would always get so sad when I asked. He’d just… disappear to another place. And Yu-furen would become so… ruthless whenever I spent too much time with him. So I gave up trying eventually.” He laughs hollowly. “Just like you. Aren’t we a pair?”
He nods, his heart cracking as he reaches behind him to touch Wei Ying’s face. He strokes the lines of his cheekbones, the side of his jaw, and Wei Ying’s breaths shake beneath him.
“It’s just…” Wei Ying rasps, his voice shaking. “Lan Zhan… what have you ever done to… What did I… It’s not fair.”
None of it is fair, this life they’ve been dealt. Fighting a war before they could truly understand what that meant, losing so much of their pasts and each other. Losing what little childhood they had.
They should have been given so much more.
“It is not,” he agrees, turning to face his husband. “For the both of us.”
Wei Ying’s face crumbles, his shoulders shake, and all the strength leaves him. Looking into his eyes, he sees the boy his husband never had the chance to be—lost, scared, grieving. Who was never given the chance to breathe.
Lan Wangji wraps his arms around his husband’s shoulders and cradles the back of his head with his hand. He wishes he had the words to speak and make everything better. He wishes he knew what to do. But he has never been skilled in this way, nor has he learned how—not even after months married to Wei Ying. All he can do is hold his husband and stroke his hair as he cries.
“So much…” his husband whispers between sobs, “just lost. Why?”
He wishes he knew. What had they done in their youths to deserve never knowing the truth? What was gained in keeping it from them?
He clings to his husband, the words too far to grasp. It has been an exhausting evening. He has never spoken of his mother at such length, has never allowed himself to succumb to such emotion. How can he possibly comfort his husband when he’s already spent? How can they bear any of this, when they have only ever known to fight?
Like the tide slowly falling from the shore, Wei Ying’s sobs also die, until all that remains are deep breaths. Lan Wangji strokes his hair, massages comforting circles into his scalp. Even the most painful passes and they endure.
“Lan Zhan…” Wei Ying whispers, lifting his head. “What—”
He shakes his head again, and clamps his mouth shut—as though the words have left him, too.
What is there left to say? Lan Wangji would much rather forgo the need to speak until morning.
All that he can do is open his robes to his husband, finishing the work Wei Ying had begun. He shrugs off the layers all at once, meeting his husband’s eyes as he sheds his clothing. They are red, rubbed raw from tears, but they ignite with interest as Lan Wangji unfastens his binder with steady hands. When all fails, he will not. If there is nothing to say, he will give what he can.
“Tonight?” his husband teases, lowering his eyes as Lan Wangji discards his binder. He stares, rather shamelessly, at Lan Wangji’s breasts. “My husband is insatiable.”
He gives Wei Ying a pointed look. “Like attracts like.”
Wei Ying barks out a laugh and covers his mouth with his hand. “Lan Zhan!” he exclaims. “What have I done to you?”
His voice is still raw with emotion, still fragile, but his timbre is familiar. Lan Wangji takes comfort in his husband’s joy as he leans forward to kiss him. In spite of everything, they will endure.
Wei Ying rests his hands on the small of Lan Wangji’s back, careful not to jostle his growing belly as he kisses him back. Inside him, the baby flutters about, and he takes comfort in that, too. They have lives now. They have futures beyond what they ever imagined.
His husband helps him to his feet, guides him along with removing the last of his robes, and walks him to the bed. Along the way, Lan Wangji attempts to disrobe his husband as well, tugging at his belt and arm bracers until Wei Ying completes the task for him with a laugh.
“I’ve corrupted Hanguang-Jun,” he moans with an exaggerated sigh as Lan Wangji stretches himself across the bed. “What would they all do to see you now? Offering yourself up to me so shamelessly!” He opens his robes rapidly, with no grace. “Perhaps the cultivation sects were right about me! I should be stopped for such lecherous behaviour! Turning their Hanguang-Jun into such a wanton creature.”
Lan Wangji rolls his eyes. “Boring.”
His husband laughs delightedly and shrugs out of his robes, letting them pool onto the floor. “What? You prefer it like this?” He clicks his tongue disapprovingly and settles beside him. “I should’ve known. Someone so pure and just has to have a weakness. Who knew it’d be bad men like me.”
“Wei Ying is not bad,” Lan Wangji counters, stroking his husband’s face. Even said in jest, he is loath to hear it. Wei Ying, for all he failed in doing, had tried to do his best with the circumstances he was given. He had done what he could to maintain his principles. That is not so bad.
The eyes that meet his glow warm, and the smile that breaks forth is so appreciative… Lan Wangji loses his breath for a moment. His husband sighs, content, perhaps relieved, and rests a hand on his pregnant belly.
“No,” he agrees with a satisfied hum. “Only for my Lan Zhan.” Fingers trail across Lan Wangji’s breasts, encircle his nipples. He grins as they slowly harden beneath his touch. “What shall I do to you this time?”
“Whatever you want,” he murmurs, carding his fingers through his husband’s hair. The early portion of their evening, although swiftly fading away, still lingers. He does not wish to decide anything at this time. He simply wants to be.
“Whatever I want,” Wei Ying repeats. “What a dangerous concept.”
“Mn.” He cannot conceal a smile.
His husband laughs. “That’s exactly what you want, isn’t it? You like me a little dangerous. Hanguang-Jun, so shameless! See—” Wei Ying muses, rubbing his cheek against Lan Wangji’s breast, “if you’d allowed yourself to get into a bit more trouble when you were younger, you wouldn’t have such an affinity for corrupting influences like myself.”
“Boring,” he says again.
Wei Ying’s laughter rings high into the night. “Ah, Lan Zhan,” he sighs, pinching his nipple. He studies it carefully, mouth drawn into a straight line as his thumb brushes over the bud again and again. “I think… even if I were as pure as the winter snow, you would want to corrupt me, wouldn’t you? Isn’t that what you wanted all those years ago?”
Lan Wangji’s fingers curl into his husband’s hair. He pulls to answer his question.
“Ah!” Wei Ying exclaims, twisting his face in mock pain. “Lan-er-gege! So mean!”
He hums and pulls at his husband’s hair again, smiling when Wei Ying sputters out another round of protests that have become so familiar, they also serve as comfort.
“…you dare! Lan Zhan! Pregnancy has made you—”
He pulls again, catching Wei Ying off-guard enough that his husband yelps in surprise, and his cock twitches against Lan Wangji’s thigh. He hums in approval. Wei Ying can tease all he wants, but his body never lies.
“Is that how it is, Hanguang-Jun?” Wei Ying demands with a laugh, punishing his nipple with his fingernails. The sensation shoots through every nerve of Lan Wangji’s body, painful and precious as the air is swept from his lungs. “Not a care for your poor husband?”
“I care very much,” he answers, stifling a moan as Wei Ying pinches again. “I know… what my husband likes.”
Wei Ying stills his hand, flattening it over Lan Wangji’s breast, and lets out a small huff. “Now that’s just unfair.”
His husband’s mouth drops into a perfect circle. “It’s just is,” he exclaims, offended with the notion of having to explain himself. “Lan Zhan! How dare you make me—”
They’ve talked long enough. He may have said he wanted Wei Ying to do whatever he wanted, but even Lan Wangji has his limits, and Wei Ying is being unreasonably slow. He’s surely doing it to get a rise from him, to tease him into action—just as he used to when they were boys in Cloud Recesses. Back then, Wei Ying, whether he knew it or not, wanted the same thing he wants now.
Lan Wangji presses his free hand against Wei Ying’s lips to quiet him. Wei Ying instantly shuts up, clearly surprised by Lan Wangji’s action. He takes this silence as an opportunity to place his fingers inside his husband’s gaping mouth to prevent further interruption.
“No fair,” Wei Ying mutters, the words muffled and barely distinct.
“Is this a problem?” he asks innocently.
“Nuh-uh,” Wei Ying protests with a shake of his head, and dutifully closes his lips around Lan Wangji’s fingers.
Lan Wangji shivers as his husband’s tongue laps against his digits. It’s a strange sensation—almost ticklish. He has yet to get used to it. But the look Wei Ying gives him—that he knows so well. That, he loves. Eyelids fluttering, lips pursing, cheeks pinking. Heavy, needy—he will never tire of the way his husband submits so easily, how he relaxes into whatever role Lan Wangji wishes him to play.
Perhaps it is the pregnancy that has made him so demanding as of late. That makes him chase his own pleasure instead of accepting what Wei Ying so often gives him. Lovingly and diligently—he has no reason to complain. He loves to submit to his husband. But he has also begun to crave other things. And it seems… perhaps… his husband craves them, too.
He cannot deny that there is so much changing beneath his skin, too much collecting within him and coiling in his nerves. He has often found himself restless, as the baby grows inside him. His daily household tasks, the sword forms he still practices, his music he composes—somehow none of it is enough to subdue him. The baby takes and gives, and Lan Wangji has to find a place to put all this energy building.
And Wei Ying, as the attentive husband he is, is such a willing participant.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying moans, stuttering against his fingers as Lan Wangji removes them. He angles his body so that his chest is against Lan Wangji’s back, and his thigh rests between his, just below his ignored cunt. An invitation.
Lan Wangji adjusts himself accordingly. He grinds his hips against Wei Ying’s leg, relishing in the feeling of being touched. The fine hairs on his thigh brush against Lan Wangji’s pussy, and wet smears against his husband’s skin. Wei Ying groans as he sinks further into him, each thrust wetter than the last, building inside and out. Sometimes, even after months of marriage, his body is still foreign to him. His needs are not so easily recognizable. But now, as he moves against Wei Ying, as his nerve-endings hum and buzz with want, he’s filled with a sudden urgency. He needs to find release. He needs his husband inside him.
“Wei Ying,” he murmurs, twisting to meet his husband’s eyes. Wei Ying gazes at him, an eyebrow raised in amusement, pupils blown wide as Lan Wangji pushes against his husband’s thigh. “Fuck me.”
“Now you’re making demands?” Wei Ying says with a laugh. “What about whatever I wanted?”
Lan Wangji rolls his hips and digs into Wei Ying’s thigh with his cunt, unable to stop the moan escaping from his lips. Any remotely interesting response dies, replaced with the quiet, yet frantic buzz of arousal.
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying protests, even as he moves his thigh to grind against his cunt.
“You… were taking too long,” he murmurs, panting.
Another laugh rumbles through his husband’s chest, reverberating against Lan Wangji’s back. The baby flutters once again, seemingly enjoying the sensation of Wei Ying’s laugh. He smiles, in spite of his annoyance.
“Too long!” Wei Ying exclaims. “My! My husband is so impatient now!”
“I am pregnant,” he reminds him placidly.
“Oh… and you think you can use that as an excuse?”
Wei Ying holds him closer, laughing all the while. He squeezes Lan Wangji’s breast, kisses his shoulder. His free hand rests on his hip. Gentle, all gentle, and not nearly enough. Lan Wangji rolls his hips again, moaning at the wet, warm feeling of sliding over his own slick. He shivers, his body craving more. More pressure, more friction, everything.
“My husband is a brute,” Wei Ying teases, his cock hardening against Lan Wangji’s backside. “Using me like this!”
“Hm,” he agrees, rubbing his ass against his husband’s growing erection. “Whatever shall you do about it?”
“What indeed,” Wei Ying murmurs, squeezing a little harder. Lan Wangji gasps in pleasure. “If I were sympathetic… I would give my pregnant husband whatever he wanted. But…” He laughs softly. “It appears I may have to teach him the meaning of patience. Have you forgotten, Lan Zhan?”
“Perhaps! Ah… if your elders knew just how much I’ve corrupted you! They’d surely have my head!”
“Then… teach me again,” he instructs, gazing into his husband’s mischievous eyes.
Wei Ying’s eyes darken, amused but full of desire, as his hold on Lan Wangji tightens. “Gladly,” he murmurs, his smile sharp-edged and perfect. “Now… be very still, if you want me to fuck you.”
He wriggles in his husband’s grasp defiantly, smiling to himself when it earns him a gentle slap to the hip. Were he not pregnant, he’s certain Wei Ying would lay it on him without remorse, but as it stands, he merely gives him the suggestion. Even that makes Lan Wangji’s heart race.
“No patience or obedience, it appears,” Wei Ying observes, untangling himself from Lan Wangji. He kneels beside him, towering over him, shoulders hunched. “And you seem to be enjoying yourself! I clearly have a lot of work to do.” Poised over him like a predator, Wei Ying reaches towards him. Lan Wangji’s blood pulses hot. ”Do I need to restrain you?”
The thrill the suggestion sends down his body is answer enough.
“Very well,” Wei Ying murmurs, narrowing his eyes.
Strong hands grasp onto Lan Wangji’s wrists and pull them over his head. With one hand, Wei Ying presses onto his joined limbs. With the other, he frees the forehead ribbon. It gives way without protest.
“Is this what you wanted all along?” Wei Ying teases, wrapping the ribbon around Lan Wangji’s wrists. “You know, you could’ve just asked.”
He merely shrugs, heart racing as the ribbon wraps tighter. After so much emotion from the earlier portion of their evening, to be contained like this is comforting. To be taken by Wei Ying is even more so.
He does not always have the words to speak his wishes. Sometimes, he does not know what he wants until he is in the middle of asking for it.
“Ah,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his bare forehead, “but I do love a good mystery. And I do love my husband.”
He hums with contentment, his heart so full of love as his husband’s lips descend upon his. Lan Wangji drinks him in, as though parched. It has been an age since he’s felt Wei Ying’s lips tonight—far too long. He parts his lips, hoping to chase Wei Ying’s tongue, but his husband keeps his own mouth very firmly closed.
“Patience,” Wei Ying reminds him, one eyebrow raised mischievously. “Hanguang-Jun, you’re so far gone!”
Laughter greets his unaffected response. Gentle hands pat his pregnant stomach, and the baby responds to the touch. Even though he cannot feel the baby’s movements just yet, Wei Ying smiles down at them, rubbing attentively.
“Patience,” he repeats again, curling himself against Lan Wangji’s side. “And I’ll give you what you want.”
Lan Wangji lets out an indignant huff, and his husband laughs. He has been patient long enough—an entire lifetime! If he wants too much too fast, it’s entirely excusable. And if he knows exactly how to rile his husband up in the most delicious way—he keeps that information to himself. They often exist in these silence exchanges, pushing each other just so, pulling back with equal measure. They know one another so well. Every day, they uncover more.
“Love you, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs. He kisses along the side of his breast. “Be good, and I’ll give you everything you want.”
He opens his mouth to respond, but Wei Ying quickly latches onto his softened nipple, effectively cutting away any space for conversation. He sighs in relief at the familiar sensation of Wei Ying’s mouth pulling on his skin, even as his long-ignored pussy throbs with want. It is a different want than before. More anticipatory than desperate, and still absolutely unbearable.
“Mn, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs against his breast, tongue darting out across his skin. “Wish I had two heads so I could give your tits the proper attention they deserve.”
Wei Ying’s laughter is warm as he nips at his breast, the sound muted by Lan Wangji’s flesh. His hand snakes across his body to rub his other nipple with his thumb, pinching and biting him in near-perfect synchronicity. His nerves buzz as Wei Ying ravishes his breasts, and his cunt pulsates, desperate to be stimulated. He squeezes his thighs together in a feeble attempt at gaining some friction.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying reproaches, lifting his head. “Do I need to restrain your legs, too?”
He gazes up at his husband defiantly, pushing against the restraints on his wrists. “Try.”
Wei Ying’s eyes widen with delighted outrage. He quickly manoeuvres himself to kneel in between Lan Wangji’s legs, clamping onto his ankles with powerful hands. Lan Wangji kicks his legs against him, stomach flipping as his husband holds him more firmly and uses his elbows to further restrain him.
“Not so fast, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs. “You get what I give you. Isn’t that what you want?”
It is, but he wants to make Wei Ying work for it. He wants him to overpower him, to earn the control he has. He attempts to kick his leg again, but Wei Ying’s hold is firm. All those days in the fields, all the hearty meals Lan Wangji has prepared for him, have made him strong. Have made him broader than when he was a Jiang disciple. Have made him strong enough to even rival Lan Wangji.
Perhaps that is something to explore, once the baby is born. He could seal away his spiritual power, and they could try. They could spar once again. Or… Wei Ying could use his own form of cultivation against his. With his current strength, his power may go unmatched.
His cunt pulsates at the thought, his limbs slowing as the images flash through his mind. His husband, overpowering him with resentful energy flowing all around him. Lan Wangji, struggling, refusing to yield. Wei Ying, grinning and self-satisfied, accusing Lan Wangji of letting him win when he finally submits.
He would love to see it. All of it. Wei Ying, using his power without fear whenever he needs it. Wei Ying, knowing he’s loved for all that he is. Wei Ying, knowing his love is not conditional. He will not turn away, no matter who he becomes. Those days of helping Wei Ying walk a “righteous path” are far beyond him. Not when he knows what he knows. Not the he’s grieved as he has.
He stores all those thoughts safely away, keeps them close to his heart. He will find a place to discuss it. Just not tonight.
“Good boy,” Wei Ying praises his stillness, lowering himself onto the mattress. Lan Wangji’s heart flips, and the remaining tension in his body instantly releases. He can be placated so easily, when Wei Ying wants him to be. When he’s had enough of their games and wishes to take what is rightfully his. “See? How hard was that?”
“Hm,” he murmurs, frowning.
His husband laughs softly. “You’re doing so well,” he says, nosing in between Lan Wangji’s thighs without purpose. “Stay still, and I’ll let you come. I might even let you do it on my cock.”
“Wei Ying…” he whispers, unsure what he intends to say. It’s all he wants, at this point.
His husband doesn’t wait for a response, flicking his tongue in between his folds, tracing the contour of his slit. He shudders as his husband’s tongue teases him with gentle, fleeting licks, working it in and out so that he barely feels touched. He was already wet before, and being teased so mercilessly like this only makes matters worse. He gasps as he feels his folds clench, breathing deeply to keep himself from falling apart completely as his aching pussy reacts to Wei Ying’s mouth.
His husband moans in appreciation for his taste, and digs his tongue into him. Lips push against lips, and Wei Ying’s mouth glides against him so effortlessly—so smooth, he nearly feels nothing and everything all at once. Lan Wangji curls his bound hands into fists, nails digging into palms. He wants to come on Wei Ying’s cock. He cannot let go just yet. Wei Ying is just making it so difficult.
Hands let go of his ankles, spread his folds so his husband can take him deeper with his tongue. Thumbs brush against his clit, fingers join his tongue inside him. Lan Wangji curls his toes and bites his lip as the tides within him fight to rise.
“Wei Ying,” he moans, crying out as his husband bites his clit. Pleasure and pain shoot through him, unrelenting and unrepentant. He squeezes his eyes shut, attempting to keep himself still, to stop himself from folding. Tears fill his eyes as his husband lovingly licks where he bit. He’s so slow, so attentive, and Lan Wangji is so sensitive. Too sensitive. He cannot possibly be expected to handle it. Hasn’t he waited long enough?
“Wei-gege,” he sobs, tasting the salt of his own tears. “I can’t—I can’t—”
“You can, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying assures him, hooking his fingers inside his weeping cunt. “You’re doing so well. Waiting so patiently, all for me.”
“For you,” he repeats, breathing heavily. He can do anything for Wei Ying. He will do anything for him. He just needs to focus on… anything other than what Wei Ying is currently doing to him. He lifts his eyes to the ceiling, groaning as Wei Ying reaches within him while sucking on his clit. The light casts strange shadows up there. He tries to find shapes within them, clenching his stomach as Wei Ying spreads him open. His heartbeat is fast, too fast, thundering in his ears and bursting out his eyes. He will not survive this. Everything in him screams to let go, Wei Ying be damned, but Lan Wangji refuses to listen. In spite of their games, all he truly wants is to be good for his husband. Any shred of defiance left in him has effectively been pulled free. Now, all he wants is release. He will do anything for it.
“That’s right, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs. He pulls his fingers out of Lan Wangji’s tortured pussy and wipes his hands on his thighs. Lan Wangji whimpers in both relief and disappointment at the loss of the stimulation. “Come on. Up.”
Loose and trembling, Wei Ying helps Lan Wangji rise to his knees, placing his bound hands against his chest. His muscles quake in anticipation for what’s to come, stomach clenching when his husband presses his face into the mattress.
“Ah, a perfect view,” Wei Ying teases, stroking his back in appreciation. He spreads his cheeks with a small laugh, pressing his thumb against his cunt.
“Wei Ying,” he moans, wriggling beneath his husband’s hands, “please.” He’s unsure how much more teasing he can take before he comes apart beneath his husband, without even getting what he really wanted.
His husband hums in amusement at the desperation in Lan Wangji’s voice, at the way he comes apart as the word dies in his throat. He withdraws his hands, sighs heavily, and moans softly to himself. Lan Wangji curls his toes as he listens to the slick, wet sound of his husband preparing himself. As he hears his breaths turn ragged from stroking himself.
“Since you asked so nicely,” Wei Ying murmurs, grasping onto his hips once again.
Without warning or ceremony, Wei Ying sheathes himself inside Lan Wangji, burying deep. Lan Wangji gasps at the new fullness, sobbing in relief. Finally. It’s so good and so maddening all at once, to have Wei Ying’s cock push against his inner walls, pushing and pushing until he cannot anymore. To have him thrust inside with shallow movements, then slamming himself against Lan Wangji’s cervix over and over again. Lan Wangji sinks further into the mattress, helpless from his own desire, his husband’s hands the only things keeping him upright. Flesh slaps against flesh, fingers dig into him, and Lan Wangji gags at the unrelenting pressure. Wei Ying is in his stomach at the back of his throat. Wei Ying is all around him.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying moans. “Oh, fuck, you’re so wet. Feels so good. So perfect.”
“Wei Ying,” he whispers, sobbing as Wei Ying strokes his clit while keeping his unrelenting pace. “Wei Ying—”
His orgasm creeps upon him, building so slowly he does not recognize it until it overtakes him. He trembles around Wei Ying’s cock, pulsing and writhing as his husband digs into him. He sobs as the blood rushes to his ears, as his pussy vibrates, as his heartbeat races. Warmth fills him, spreads through him, and Lan Wangji sobs harder at the familiar feeling of his husband’s seed releases inside him.
Wei Ying groans, thrusting lazily as he comes until there is nothing left. He stops to rest his forehead against the small of Lan Wangji’s back, and rubs his cheek against it. They’re both covered in sweat, slick and chilling as their heartbeats slow in tandem
“Good boy,” he murmurs, stroking his hair. “Did you like that?”
He nods, incapable of speech as he cries from the relief of release. His husband strokes his back comfortingly, humming gentle melodies Lan Wangji does not immediately recognize. They curl around his heart, calm his racing blood. Despite being unfamiliar, they sound like home. Like Wei Ying. With his husband’s voice and his loving hands, Lan Wangji is safe. He is adored. The past and everything they once discussed is a distant memory. Together, perhaps, they can mend those wounds fully. They will no longer haunt them if they remain true to one another.
“Lan Zhan,” his husband murmurs as he pulls out and guides him onto his back. “Think I fucked you hard enough to give you a second baby?”
“Ridiculous,” he mutters.
Wei Ying giggles. “You never know.”
He shakes his head with a smile. His husband truly is ridiculous. He loves him so much.
“Imagine… two babies at once! We’d never sleep again.”
He smiles. It would certainly be an adventure. He is fairly certain there is only one baby growing inside him, but he can indulge in the fantasy.
“Next time,” he decides.
Wei Ying grins, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he does. “Definitely,” he says. “After all… I am the Yiling Patriarch. I am capable of many things, including giving my husband twins!”
“Yes,” he agrees, snuggling closer to his husband.
They lie together for a long while, Wei Ying patting the baby bump absently, Lan Wangji drifting between consciousness and wakefulness against his husband’s chest. The air chills around their sweat-soaked skin, but Lan Wangji refuses to move. He loves this far too much to disturb it.
“I’m writing something for A-Yuan,” Wei Ying says suddenly, stirring Lan Wangji from sleep. “Something he can play someday.”
His heart beats with affection as he shifts to gaze up at his husband. His teeth dig into his bottom lip as Lan Wangji’s eyes fall upon him, squirming with the sudden attention.
“I’m writing something for the baby, too,” he continues, cheeks flushing. “I know… I don’t have your capabilities, but I want… I just want to give them something they could never have… anywhere else, you know?”
“They will love it,” Lan Wangji assures him, grasping his hand. It is such a thoughtful gift, it will not matter if it isn’t perfect. To Lan Wangji, it will be. Wei Ying always will be. “As will I. Anything Wei Ying writes will be perfect.”
Wei Ying exhales into a smile, eyes brilliant in the darkness. “I love you so much, Lan Zhan.”
“I love you,” he whispers back, kissing his husband’s cold lips.
His husband melts into him, stretching himself flat so Lan Wangji can climb atop of him and shower him with kisses. It is only when Wei Ying begins to shiver that Lan Wangji draws away from his embrace to prepare them both a bath.
He nearly falls asleep in the warm water, surrounded by his husband’s loving arms, lulled by the sounds of rainfall pattering on the roof above them.