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taking over you

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Birth is…

Long.

Messy.

Painful.

Time seems to pass too slowly and too fast. One moment, he is lying in their bedroom, waiting for Lan Xichen to return with the midwife—the next he is being roused to his feet to walk about the room with his husband. His back burns from the weight of their baby, his body shuddering as he walks through it. He walks through it until he can no longer—and then Wei Ying’s hand is firm in his as he lays on their bed, fingers threatening to break with the grip Lan Wangji is holding them. He doesn’t let go, in spite of this. He’s speaking, but Lan Wangji can barely hear him over the pounding in his ears. The midwife is telling him to push, and he wants to snap at her that he is. He’s pushing as hard as he can, how is it not enough? But Wei Ying’s lips are on his forehead and his voice is in his ear. He tells him he’s doing so well, that the baby will be here before he knows it if he keeps going. He tries to focus only on that. Tries to do what he can for his husband.

Somehow, eventually, there is a final push. There is a silence followed by a cry, and their baby is suddenly there before him—screaming and full of life. Red and wrinkled and beautiful, supported in the midwife’s strong hands. This impossible dream of a baby… here. With them.

His vision clouds with tears. From relief, from wonder—he can’t tell anymore. Their baby is finally here, making themselves known. Filling the room with sound. Alive, healthy, theirs.

Theirs.

Wei Ying’s.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying coos in his ear, smoothing the sweat from his brow, “you did it. You did it, Baba.”

The salt of his tears floods his mouth when he tries to open it to speak. His eyes are too blurred to see properly. Wei Ying wipes the tears away with a wet cloth, and the midwife is suddenly right in front of him, holding out their baby for him to take.

“A girl,” she declares, laying the baby flat against his chest. His robes are barely closed now after so many hours in labour, his breast practically bared. He doesn’t have the energy to care. “Young master… is she not beautiful?”

He stares down at their baby girl, no longer crying, laying content against his breast. Her face is so small—all scrunched up and twitching, eyes contentedly closed. 

It is… so different than what he anticipated. So much more.

“Yes,” he whispers, his voice so hoarse it barely sounds. “Beautiful.”

“Beautiful,” Wei Ying agrees, hovering over him. He flexes his hands tentatively, as though he means to reach out and touch—before he smooths them back at his sides, his lips pursed. Hesitant to touch someone so small and breakable. Afraid to ruin.

“Wei Ying,” he says. “Come here. Say hello.”

His husband takes a step forward, tentatively reaching for their daughter to lay a hand upon her head. His palm is so big compared to her head, pillowing her so gently, barely touching. “Ah!” he gasps, “she’s so soft—like a peach.”

“Mn,” he agrees, brushing his thumb against the crown of her head. The fine hairs on her head are so soft, indeed. So perfect.

Wei Ying’s hand slowly relaxes against their daughter’s head, thumb smoothing against her small cheek. Their daughter nuzzles closer, and his husband nearly melts. He slumps forward, sinking to his knees beside him

“Look at how relaxed she is now,” he coos, kissing Lan Wangji’s cheek. “All tired out from being born.”

He smiles down at their child, yawning sleepily against his bare skin, curling and uncurling her little fingers into a fist. Together, they watch her sleep. He loves every breath that emits from her body.

“A-Die,” the midwife says after some time, approaching Wei Ying, “you too. Skin-to-skin contact with both parents is very important.”

Wei Ying withdraws from Lan Wangji with a gasp. Slowly, he stands, and immediately taking a step back. His posture grows stiff and rigid, eyes wide with renewed apprehension.

“Don’t worry so much!” the midwife scolds him, taking hold of his arms and bodily walking him to the empty side of the bed. “You won’t drop your own child, if that’s what you’re so concerned about.”

Wei Ying sticks out his lower lip glumly as he allows himself to be seated beside Lan Wangji. With a resigned sigh, he lets the midwife open his robes enough to expose part of his chest for their baby to rest against. She demonstrates how to properly hold the baby with empty arms, assuring Wei Ying instinct will be enough to guide him through. His husband’s face pales, even with her confident assessment, and Lan Wangji does his best to give him reassuring smiles. He will not drop their child. He will be gentle, and she will love him.

Their daughter lets out a few lazy whines of protest when taken from Lan Wangji’s embrace, but quickly settles once more when placed against her other father’s skin. Wei Ying holds her gingerly, arms tense as she happily twitches in his arms.

“Ah,” Wei Ying murmurs, the syllable catching in his throat, “look at her.”

“Mn,” he responds, rolling over to rest his head against his husband’s thigh.

“She’s perfect,” he whispers, hoarse. “Hello. Hello.”

Lan Wangji lays a hand on his husband’s knee as Wei Ying weeps while gently holding their baby in his arms. Their daughter snuggles closer to him, unbothered by his emotion, comforted by the feeling of his skin against hers.

It seems only seconds pass before the midwife is rousing him with a firm hand to his shoulder. Her frame blurs in his vision as she helps him sit upright. He hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep.

“I apologize, young master,” she says, “I need you to feed the baby before you can rest.”

He nods blearily, allowing himself to be moved accordingly. Wei Ying is still holding the baby—their daughter—her little frame growing restless in his arms. Her face scrunches up, lips pursing, tiny chest rising. She is plucked from Wei Ying’s arms by the midwife before she can cry once again. 

The midwife guides him through breastfeeding for the first time. How to hold the baby, how to encourage her to latch on. It only takes a little manoeuvring before he feels her small mouth against him. An intense pressure pulsates against his breast as she suckles what little milk he currently has. In spite of her size, the grip of her mouth is hard. Intense, but not painful or unpleasant. It is just… not what he expected. It makes him feel very warm within, his nerves tingling at the strange sensation. A pleasant satisfaction follows as the initial pressure dissipates, in knowing he can provide for their child. In feeling her take from him.

She lets out a small whine when he runs out of milk on one side. Under the midwife’s watchful eye, he switches her over to his other breast, watching their baby take all that he has. More will come later, once his body adjusts, but this will be enough for now.

“Good job, Baba,” Wei Ying encourages him, kissing the top of his head.

The tears drip onto his cheeks without warning as their daughter takes the last of his milk. He is so warm and full. So relieved everything happened as it should.

“I’ll take her now,” the midwife says, extricating her from his arms with incredible slowness, so as to not disturb her. “Get her swaddled and weighed. You rest now.”

He nods, feeling rather heavy as Wei Ying gently coaxes him into new sleeping robes and walks him over to a cot with clean sheets. He barely registers the cool cloth being pressed to his forehead, or the sheets being lifted over his body. Wei Ying murmurs something that Lan Wangji is too exhausted to hear, and he quickly falls into dreamless sleep.


When he awakens, the room is dark save for a candle on a table nearby. He is lying on his back, which is… strange. He hasn’t been able to lie on his back for some time. The baby would push too hard…

But… of course he can now. He had the baby already.

“There you are,” his husband murmurs from across the room. It takes only a moment to find him, seated on their bed with the baby in his arms. “Back to the land of the living, I see.”

He nods, too weary to do much else, still.

Wei Ying rises from the bed, walking the short distance to his cot. “So,” he says, a crooked smile breaking upon his lips, “apparently, Hanguang-Jun has given birth to a rather robust baby. No wonder she was early.” He laughs softly, lowering the sleeping baby onto Lan Wangji’s chest. “She’s big for a newborn, I was told. Honestly, she seems so small to me.”

“Mn,” he hums, placing a hand against her back. Even if she is somewhat larger than the average newborn, she feels impossibly small. Fragile.

“But anyway, we’ve been alright while you slept,” Wei Ying continues, settling on the floor beside his cot. “Lots of sleeping. Your brother took A-Yuan out for the rest of the day. I suppose they will be home soon.”

“Good,” he murmurs.

“Are you hungry?”

He doesn’t feel as though he is, his stomach dull and overturned, but he likely should anyhow. He needs to keep his strength.

“Baba!” A-Yuan cries out before he can speak.

He lifts his eyes to see Lan Xichen entering the room with A-Yuan in his arms. At his side, he carries a box of food likely bought on their journey to town. He sets it down at the doorway before approaching, A-Yuan squirming in his arms.

“A-Yuan,” Wei Ying chides, taking him from Lan Xichen. “Be gentle. Baba is very tired. He just had the baby!”

A-Yuan’s eyes widen as Wei Ying walks him over to the cot, mouth dropping when he notices the small bundle against Lan Wangji’s chest.

“You have a little sister now,” Wei Ying informs him. “Look at that! You can say hello if you’re careful. Alright?”

A-Yuan gulps, nodding slowly. “Promise,” he whispers.

His husband’s smile glows in the dim light. When he lowers A-Yuan to the floor, he keeps a firm grip on his shoulders, in case he needs to pull him away. A-Yuan, however, like a good former Lan disciple, stands perfectly still, only taking a step forward when Wei Ying coaxes him.

“Baba,” he says, laying a small hand on Lan Wangji’s arm, “I missed you.”

His heart nearly bursts as he reaches out to place a hand on A-Yuan’s head. “I missed A-Yuan, too. What did you do today?”

A-Yuan needs no more encouragement to unspool every detail of the day, only pausing when Lan Xichen serves the dishes they’d acquired in town. His brother helps Lan Wangji stand to join them, walking him over to the baby’s bassinet by his and Wei Ying’s bed.

“We will come for the hundred day celebration,” Lan Xichen tells him in a low voice. “Shufu will not want to miss it, once he knows.”

He would like that. He doesn’t wish for his family to be separated again. Once, he thought he could only have Wei Ying by letting them go—that they would not accept their love and his husband’s flaws. But perhaps those days have passed. Perhaps he can dare to dream again.

“I would like for you both to come.”

Perhaps he can ask his uncle to give the baby her name at the hundred day celebration. Perhaps that will be enough to atone for all the time missed. He is certain their next meeting will be strange at best, but he’s willing to bear it. He doesn’t want them to miss any more than they have.

Until then, he is content to be here with his family, small and isolated as it is. 

In spite of everything, it is perfect.