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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.

Chapter Text

It’s nearly midday by the time Lan Wangji hears the sounds of familiar laughter rising high above the hills. He smiles as he finishes hanging their laundry, taking comfort in his family’s imminent approach. 

It’s been a testing morning, to put it simply. From the moment he awoke, he has felt… strange. Not himself. Strung-out. He has appreciated the time alone. But he appreciates even more that it is now ending.

It’s been nearly a week of progressing tension within his own body. A week of aching limbs and tender breasts and itching skin he cannot seem to shake. And while it’s something he was once accustomed to in his youth, it has never been like this. It has never lasted so long, with no relief in sight. In all his past experiences, these sensations only lasted a day or two before he began to bleed. But now, this anticipation for what will come has lasted far longer than it ever should have, and without the hope of it ending, he is left… irritated.

He has done his best to manage his emotions, to behave rationally in a restrained manner, but his resolve is wearing thin—to the point that his husband took one glance at him this morning and declared he had to to go into town. After a hasty breakfast, he’d scooped A-Yuan into his arms and practically ran out of their home.

So… perhaps he hadn’t been as restrained as he’d hoped. But his husband has yet to fail in understanding his needs, and the morning alone has certainly been needed. Being alone, without having to perform in any capacity, has been helpful. To simply exist, performing household tasks that have been accumulating in spite of their best efforts, has helped him reset. He feels significantly more capable to manage his behaviour while experiencing this discomfort.

A-Yuan comes bursting through the front doors just as he hangs the last pieces of laundry. His son runs along the maze of hanging sheets and robes, and somehow finds him among them, as though he knew from the start exactly where he’d be.

“Baba!” he cries out, tugging on his robes. “Baba—come see.”

He offers A-Yuan his hand, letting him tug him through through the maze of clean laundry. His run is impatient and lopsided, and Lan Wangji has to stoop low to avoid disturbing the clothes he so carefully hung before. He does not have the heart to scold or even caution him about it. He’s wary of himself, even with the morning alone. That even the gentlest of reprimands will come out harsher than intended.

Wei Ying is waiting for them on the other side, hands behind his back, grinning from ear to ear. Beside him is a small wooden crate resting on the tiled floor, full of… hay? Did Wei Ying get them chickens?

“Lan Zhan,” he says, gesturing for him to come closer. “Look.”

He steps forward, giving his husband a questioning look as Wei Ying gestures for him to peer inside. 

Curled up together in the crate are two rabbits—one grey, one white, their fur fluffed and carefully primped, asleep against each other. His throat fills with cotton as he kneels on the ground to free them. He didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to the rabbits at Cloud Recesses. Didn’t even have a chance to visit them for the last three years. And he just left them. Who will visit them now?

He lifts the white rabbit into his arms, holding it up against his shoulder, recalling the many times had he cradled the rabbits in Gusu like this, when he was younger and hopeful. He held them in his arms, and imagined them to be his own infant, small and needy and squirming for attention. A dream once so unattainable, once so distant—perhaps not as distant now.

The tears prick at his eyes as he forces himself to breathe. These symptoms—they’ve been going far too long to be what he understands. They have to be… They have to…

“Here, A-Yuan,” Wei Ying says, pulling him back to the present. “Sit down. Be gentle.”

He watches as Wei Ying lifts the grey rabbit from the crate, attempting to mimic Lan Wangji’s movements. He cradles the bottom of the rabbit with the palm of his hand, and gently sets the trembling thing into the space between A-Yuan’s criss-crossed legs, where the fabric of his robes hang loose. The rabbit settles into its new home, burrowing its paws into the fabric, rubbing its head against A-Yuan’s leg.

“Ah, look at that!” Wei Ying exclaims as he settles beside him. A-Yuan scratches in between the rabbit’s ears, his touch light and gentle. “You’re a natural, A-Yuan!”

“Bofu showed me,” A-Yuan tells Wei Ying proudly.

Lan Wangji’s heart jumps and falls all at once. More than ever, he longs to be able to walk up the path to the Hanshi and talk to him. Ask him to recount those moments. Ask him why he never told them.

“Did he now?” Wei Ying asks.

A-Yuan nods, stroking rabbit’s back with his palm. “When Baba was gone.”

Gone. 

Gone. 

He abandoned him.

He gulps, and focuses on the heartbeat of the rabbit pattering against his neck.

“I was thinking we could keep them in the yard,” Wei Ying says to him, reaching in to scratch the top of the white rabbit’s head. “I built that hut for the chickens, but… we don’t have chickens yet. I can build another one!”

He shakes his head, forcing away the terrible thoughts that threaten to build. He focuses instead on the rabbits. They shouldn’t be left outside, exposed to dangers and the elements. They should stay here with them. It was something he’d often longed to do, when he held the rabbits of Cloud Recesses in his arms. When the rain pattered on the roof of the Jingshi, Lan Wangji thought how cold and wet the rabbits on the hill must be. How unfair it was that they had to flee for cover when beasts prowled at night. 

But there are no pets at Cloud Recesses, however.

He is not in Cloud Recesses anymore. He’s here, with Wei Ying. As his husband has stated before, they can do whatever they want. And the thought still terrifies him, still leaves him feeling wild and untethered when he thinks on it for too long. Without anything holding him back, what’s to say he won’t do something irreversible? That he won’t hurt with his want?

But this is a small thing. A rabbit kept as a pet will not lead to total degeneration. But it could be the first stone in an avalanche—a small action building to unending ruin. And at the same time, it could be the beginning of a better life, too. Who is to say Lan An’s methods are the only way?

His heart is full of so many contradictions. He’s only begun to discover them. But these symptoms have a way of playing with his emotions. With every passing day, they heighten. He hardly feels like himself sometimes. He can already feel himself slipping once again.

“We will keep them here,” he tells Wei Ying, in spite of the war in his head. “They can live in the courtyard.”

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying exclaims, pinching Lan Wangji’s cheek. “I always knew you liked rabbits!”

“Mn,” he agrees, his ears burning. Ever since Wei Ying drew on his lantern, he has never been the same. Even today, he sees remnants of that boy he once was, the promise on his lips solidifying Lan Wangji’s devotion. Not only was Wei Ying charming and handsome, he was good. He was just. He was…

He was.

And now he is. There is no was anymore.

“Aw, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs, rubbing the corner of Lan Wangji’s eye. He hadn’t noticed the tear escaping. “Don’t cry. They’re only rabbits.”

He shakes his head, sniffs. They are so much more than rabbits.

“So, you like them, I’m guessing?” Wei Ying asks, sidling up closer to him. “A-Yuan wanted them—he begged me! But I think he just wanted to give them to you.”

“I love them,” he whispers, reaching over to pat A-Yuan’s head. 

The rabbit in his arms nuzzles against his neck, and he feels overcome once again.


He sinks into the bath, wincing as his tender breasts make contact with the cold water. It’s not the same relief as the Cold Spring would bring, but it helps. It cools the ache in his skin and soothes the scars on his back. He will feel better when he’s clean. He will feel better once he sleeps.

He closes his eyes and listens to the sounds of their home. The wind whistling against the walls. Wei Ying’s soft flute in A-Yuan’s room. A-Yuan’s gentle laughter. The bathwater dripping against his fingers.

“How’s my husband doing this evening?” Wei Ying says as he approaches from behind, sliding the doors to their room closed. 

“Mn,” he murmurs, unsure how to answer. He feels… detached. Wrong.

“Ah, I see,” Wei Ying says with understanding. He kneels behind Lan Wangji on the floor, kissing the top of his head. “Would it feel better if your husband washed your hair?”

“Yes,” he says, even though it likely won’t.

Wei Ying settles behind him, and Lan Wangji sinks further into the bath, tipping his head back. His husband takes a cup from beside the tub and dips it into the water, gasping at the temperature.

“Lan Zhan!” he exclaims, dropping the cup. “It’s cold.”

He reaches around for the discarded cup and hands it back to his husband. “Mn.”

Wei Ying pours the water over Lan Wangji’s head, letting it drip slowly. The cold water soothes the itching of his scalp. His body is truly hating him, that it’s made even his scalp itch from… whatever is happening to him.

“You Lans,” Wei Ying mutters, taking a shuddering breath as he dips his hand into the bathwater. “You enjoy being miserable?”

Even said it jest, his husband’s words give him pause. How much truth do they hold? How much can Wei Ying see that he cannot?

“Feels nice,” he whispers. The defensive edge in his tone is unmistakable, and he winces as it falls from his lips. Wei Ying should contain him. Wei Ying should punish him. He shouldn’t let his husband speak to him that way. He should make him kneel for hours in reflection. Isolate him. Make him…

That is not who they are. How they are. And sometimes, without the parameters of his old sect he feels…

He feels

“I know,” Wei Ying says gently, placatingly. It settles into Lan Wangji’s teeth and he resists the urge to bite into them. As if words could be bitten into. 

He feels… incapable and wild. He wants to climb out of himself. He wants to forget. He wants to stop. Wei Ying rinses his hair and every touch is a branding iron. Every touch feels undeserved. He wants Wei Ying to commandeer him, to reduce him to nothing and build him anew. To allow his control to slip by enforcing his own.

“If it feels good, I want you to have it, too,” Wei Ying says, even as he shivers.

He closes his eyes and sinks further into the cold water. Does he really mean that? Would he give him what he needs just now? Would he balk at his desires, which barely make sense to him?

Wei Ying kisses his forehead, and runs his fingers through his wet hair. His fingertips press against the edge of his hairline as he finishes washing him. He closes his eyes as Wei Ying’s gentle hands pass over his body with a washcloth and tries to ignore his own thoughts. He focuses on the way his husband takes special care to not brush against his tender breasts, his chafed nipples. How lovingly he washes his face.

“Alright,” he murmurs, kissing the top of his head. “All done. Up.”

He stands, and takes Wei Ying’s hands to assist him in stepping out of it—even though he doesn’t need the help. He appreciates his husband’s care and attention. Wei Ying has always had a predisposition to help and provide, and Lan Wangji can’t help but indulge him. He wishes to indulge him in all ways—especially tonight, when he is not the most pleasant. When he is not quite himself.

His husband dries him off, patting his skin with incredible care and gentleness he barely believes he’s owed. Then, he slathers his scar tissue with a salve he recently bought for him, pressing his fingers gently against the ridges. When he is finished, Lan Wangji sinks to his knees before him. It is easier to talk like this. Familiar. Honest.

“Oh,” Wei Ying says, his tone dripping with intrigue. He runs a thumb against Lan Wangji’s jaw, pushes it against his bottom lip. “Does my husband want something?”

He nods, his blood running cold. Wei Ying’s tone, so gentle but with a hint of danger, awakens his deepest desires. The ones he still struggles to name. Some days, he catches himself feeling… shame isn’t the right word. He isn’t ashamed of wanting Wei Ying—could never be ashamed of wanting Wei Ying. Perhaps the best way to describe it is unease. Only felt in brief moments, but felt all the same. Like this paradise they built themselves could crack if he pushes too far, if he wants too much.

His father wanted too much. His father took and took and never showed remorse. Is that who he is to become? When he is no longer contained by his sect, what terror will he bring?

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says soothingly, caressing his hair, “what’s going on in that head of yours?”

He shakes his head. He does not wish to talk about it tonight. He does not wish to think about anything tonight, besides the weight of his husband over him.

“Wei Ying,” he murmurs, pushing the heels of his hands into his thighs, keeping his back straight and head upright. He raises his eyes to meet his husband’s—bright and thoughtful, staring down at him. Wei Ying will not judge him. Will never judge him. He may not understand, but he will try.

“Dominate me.”

His husband’s eyes widen, flickering in the darkness. “Ah, I see,” he says, caressing Lan Wangji’s hair. He tucks a lock behind his ear, and traces its curve with his fingers. Lan Wangji shudders at his light touch, at the way it stirs the deepest parts of him already. “My husband needs to feel contained.”

They know each other so well. He will never stop being amazed.

“You Lans and your rules,” Wei Ying says with a sigh. “I will give them to you.”

“Yes,” he agrees. He needs this. He needs to feel control. To be controlled.

“And what if it’s too much?” Wei Ying asks, tipping Lan Wangji’s chin upward. “What will you do?”

He reaches up to take Wei Ying’s arm and taps it with two fingers, twice—like Wei Ying showed him that first night.

“Good boy,” Wei Ying praises.

His heart thunders loud in his ears. How he can come undone from that alone is something he still doesn’t quite understand. Something he can’t reconcile with this need to be disciplined. He wants to be good, and he wants to be punished. He doesn’t understand how the two can exist together.

“Oh, look at you blush,” Wei Ying murmurs fondly, tugging on Lan Wangji’s earlobe. “You sweet one. My Hanguang-Jun. You’ll let your Wei Ying do anything to you, won’t you?”

He nods. Anything at all—he wants it, if it’s with Wei Ying.

“Tell me, Lan Zhan.”

He breathes out slowly, attempting to still the patter of his chest. “I want Wei Ying to do anything to me."

“And you’ll do anything I ask of you?”

“Anything,” he repeats.

“And what if you refuse?”

“I will not.”

“But what if you do?”

Does Wei Ying want that? Does he want to punish him, too? 

“I want you to decide,” Wei Ying clarifies. “Do that for me.”

He gulps, staring into his husband’s eyes. Wei Ying recognizes his need. He is giving him the chance to build the parameters, to ensure he doesn’t go too far. To ensure they’re both safe. 

“Punish me,” Lan Wangji says.

Wei Ying’s eyes widen briefly—a flash of both concern and wonder beneath them—before he smiles again. “How?”

The words burrow and constrict in his chest, like a secret not yet ready to escape. He swallows them down before they come out too early, too wrong. They both aren’t ready for the magnitude of his want.

“Deny me,” he says, his voice faltering when he hasn’t quite decided what he is asking for, “—something.”

Something,” Wei Ying repeats, teasing. “How ambiguous.”

“I trust you,” he insists. “I want Wei Ying to decide.”

His husband’s grin grows broader as Lan Wangji hurls his own words back to him. The truth remains—hr wants his husband to decide how much he is willing to take. How far he is willing to go. He wants him to feel at home in this strange place. 

Wei Ying smiles, closed-lipped and gentle, and strokes Lan Wangji’s jaw with his fingers. “Alright,” he agrees. “I will decide. Now, get up. Sit on the bed.”

He rises from his knees and quietly obeys—aware of the sounds of his husband’s feet against the floor as he prepares their room for the evening. Aware of the beating of his heart. He sits on the edge of the bed, feet planted against the cool floor, and waits. 

Spring is nearly upon them, and the southern air is mild compared to that of Gusu or even Yunmeng. And still, as he listens to the sounds of the room, as he folds his hands in his lap and wonders how strange he must look, he feels his skin pricking with gooseflesh.

He is not cold. He doesn’t get cold, with a core like his. But he is… 

“Ah, look at you!” Wei Ying sighs as he ambles his way to the bed. “So patient.” 

His husband stands before him and caresses his cheek, his hair. His touch is light. Too light. He wants more. But he placed himself in this position. Wei Ying will be the one to give or take, just as he’d wanted. 

“Cold?” Wei Ying asks, sitting beside him with a soft thump. His fingers run along his prickling skin, and his black robes splay around him. In this light, he is golden.

“Lan Zhan?”

He gulps and shakes his head.

“Not cold,” Wei Ying murmurs, wrapping his arms around him. His hands are warm, though not as warm as they would have been when he had a core. Warm, but ordinary. Warm and perfect. “I’ll warm you up, anyway,” he promises. “Up in my lap.”

He climbs into his husband’s embrace, settling himself between his husband’s legs. The soft cotton of his robes rub against his skin, but he does not flinch. He focuses on Wei Ying instead.

Wei Ying grips onto his knees, spreading his legs, and Lan Wangji instantly feels his body respond. Involuntary shame blooms on his ears, but if his husband notices, he doesn’t say anything. He merely rubs his inner thighs in slow, gentle motions.

“There we go,” he whispers, kissing Lan Wangji’s neck. He shudders at the lightness of his lips teasing his neck. “Listen to me carefully, Lan Zhan—you must do as I say. You can’t touch me without permission. You can’t come until I tell you. Disobey and I’ll…” He laughs softly, kneading into Lan Wangji’s thighs. His heart dips in his stomach, his inner folds shift. “I won’t fuck you. Alright?”

“Yes,” he croaks out, leaning against Wei Ying’s chest. He can be good for Wei Ying. He can obey. Those are both familiar things. Those are both safe.

“Now,” Wei Ying says softly, his hands inching along his thighs at a slow, sure pace. “You can talk to me,” he continues. “Tell me if I do something wrong. Alright?”

He nods, gulping. “Yes.”

“Good,” Wei Ying murmurs, rubbing small circles into his thighs. “You’re doing well, Lan Zhan. Always so perfect.”

He has half a mind to argue, but Wei Ying’s hands are gentle, his motions repetitive. They lull him into submission, into this new place he desperately wants to visit.

“Let’s start with something simple,” Wei Ying says after some time has passed. “Tell me who you belong to.”

“You,” he says.

“Yes,” his husband agrees, kneading into his thighs, pushing into all the tense places. “You’re mine. Whose have you always been?”

“Yours.” His voice floats far above him, detached as his husband further invites him into this soft space of safety, away from his own decisions. Away from everything but Wei Ying.

“Always mine,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his cheek. “Always my Lan Zhan. Even when you hated me, you wanted me, didn’t you?”

He’s too relaxed to be distraught. “Never hated you,” he whispers.

“Oh?” Wei Ying laughs, his hands stilled for a moment. “Could’ve fooled me.”

“Wanted you,” he tries to explain, the words just out of reach. “Scared me.”

“Ah,” Wei Ying agrees, nuzzling his face against the crook of his neck. He shivers again. “I felt the same, Lan Zhan. All the things I wanted to do to you then.”

He frowns, in spite of his relaxation. He never anticipated Wei Ying had feelings quite like his back then. He teased, he flirted, but he did so to upend him. Not because he had wanted him. He always thought that came later, as they grew to know each other. Somewhere in that space, between meeting and Wei Ying’s death, he thought—he’d hoped—Wei Ying had wanted him. But not at Cloud Recesses.

“I wanted to take you apart,” Wei Ying whispers, stroking his thighs. “Wanted to strip away that cold facade of yours and make you beg.”

They are not so different. He would have wanted it, if he’d understood himself back then.

“That day at the Cold Spring,” he continues, hands drifting further up his legs, “Later, I thought about laying you down on the banks and tasting that pussy. I wish I’d have done it.”

  He shivers, imagining the scene. The cold air around them, and Wei Ying warm between his legs. Nothing to cover them but the skies. The exhilaration that would come from the danger of being caught.

“I thought back then,” Wei Ying continues, “most of your… demeanour could be solved with a good fuck.” He laughs, resting his hands on the innermost part of his thighs, teasing. Lan Wangji’s skin pulses from waiting. He wants Wei Ying to touch him, to show him how wet he’s become. He wants to feel him slide against it. “Then again—I found your coldness very attractive. How confusing.”

“Mn,” he agrees. He also found Wei Ying confusing back then.

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whispers, inching his fingers closer to his slit. “Were you wet for me back then?”

“Yes,” he whispers, even in reality he hardly knew. He hardly understood himself or his body. But he suspects he must have been, beneath everything. 

“Just waiting for me to open you up, huh?” 

He nods as his husband’s fingers part him, stroking his inner folds with a soft, wet sound. He gasps in relief, feeling his husband there. Feeling every nerve inside him respond.

“Oh,” Wei Ying murmurs, pushing against him. “Already so wet for me, aren’t you? You think this is what I would’ve found back then?”

He nods, whimpering as his husband’s fingers trace the shape of his clit, circling around but never touching it.

“That night you got drunk,” Wei Ying whispers, absently stroking him. “If I’d known you’d get like that… I wouldn’t have. I wanted to loosen you up. I wanted to…” He laughs to himself. “Why don’t we just do what I wanted?”

He nods, heart pounding. That night is a blacked-out bracket he wishes he could remember. That night was the start of something greater that they never even realized. When Wei Ying was dead, he searched the recesses of his mind to find it. To find Wei Ying every place he’d ever been.

“Get on the floor, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying commands him, his voice sweet, but full of purpose. “Kneel—yes, here.”

He kneels before his husband once again, his movements a little less graceful, a little more sluggish. He watched with a pounding heart as he unties his belt and parts his robes. He doesn’t remove them fully, just enough to expose his trousers. Somehow, that makes his blood pulse even faster.

“What would you have done,” Wei Ying muses, stroking Lan Wangji’s hair, “if I asked you to suck me off?”

A faraway corner of his mind thinks, realistically, he would have refused. He would have grown very red, would have scolded him, probably even drawn Bichen on him. And Wei Ying would have laughed and told him they can’t fight in Cloud Recesses. But that hardly matters now. They do not have to reenact the past. He’d prefer it if they didn’t.

He leans into his husband and loosens the ties on Wei Ying’s trousers, admiring the curve of his cock beneath the fabric. He nuzzles his face against it, breathing in his musk, and lifts his eyes to meet Wei Ying’s as he frees it.

“That’s right,” Wei Ying murmurs as Lan Wangji licks the length of his cock. “You know how your Wei-gege likes it.” 

An unfamiliar memory resurfaces as he takes his husband in his mouth—unclear and blurred around the edges. Maybe not even a memory. Maybe a dream. He’s lying on a bed—but not his own. There’s something carved into the board, but he’s too focused on something else to notice. Wei Ying’s laughter is warm, his mischievous smile absolutely delighted. He doesn’t mind Wei Ying’s laugh like this—half-asleep and floating. He finds he quite likes him.

Call me Wei-gege, his husband had said. And when Lan Wangji repeated it, his voice slow and distant, he felt like he was floating. He mouths the syllables against his husband’s cock now, relaxing his throat to take him deeper.

“Ah, aren’t you perfect,” Wei Ying murmurs, stroking his hair. “I bet you would’ve been so good at it back then. My Lan Zhan is good at anything he puts his mind to.”

He smiles, even with Wei Ying in his mouth. He cannot contain it.

“Oh,” his husband sighs. “You look so sweet, Lan Zhan. I wish you could see.”

He smiles again, drinking in his husband’s taste. Wei Ying lets out a soft moan as Lan Wangji hollows out his cheeks, enjoying the sweet of his skin, the salt of his pre-come. He takes it slowly, committing the feel of it, the subtle movements inside his mouth, to memory.

“That’s good, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says, patting his head. “That’s very good. Come and give your husband a kiss.”

Reluctantly, he pulls himself off his husband’s cock and rises. Wei Ying’s lips are warm and smooth, pulsing against his. He sinks into him, reaching out instinctively to touch his husband, to put his arms around his neck, before he remembers he can’t. Wei Ying gave him rules. So, he lets his arms fall to his sides with a helpless sigh.

Wei Ying laughs gently, taking his wrists. “You’re being such a good boy,” he murmurs, giving his wrists a reassuring squeeze. “Come, lie on the bed. I’ll reward you.”

His heart jumps at the prospect as his husband guides him onto the bed. When he lies over him, his open robes surround him in a sea of black and red. Wei Ying smiles to see it, his teeth bright and shining in the candlelight.

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” he murmurs. “I do love seeing you in my colours.”

He nods, meeting his husband’s eyes. He loves wearing his husband’s colours, too. Loves the visual proof of where he belongs—of whom he belongs to.

“We’ll have to get you more robes,” Wei Ying proposes, hands drifting along his sides. His sensitive skin pricks from his husband’s touch, but he barely feels it. Wei Ying grins, eyes lighting up as a thought comes to him. “I suppose we will need to get you new robes someday.” He leans down to kiss in between his breasts, rests his hands against Lan Wangji’s stomach. “You’ll be carrying my baby, won’t you?”

“Mn,” he agrees, sighing as his husband’s mouth encloses around one of his nipples. They’re so sensitive, so awake—but it feels good. Wei Ying’s tongue soothes his rough skin, and his words stir the longing deep within him.

“Maybe we should have robes made in my colours,” Wei Ying muses when he lifts his head, gently rubbing his nipples with his thumbs. Applying just enough pressure to be pleasurable, and not enough to hurt. “Remind the world who you belong to.”

“Yes,” he moans.

“I can see it now,” Wei Ying continues, hands drifting in between his legs. “All done up in black and red—looking so pretty and dangerous.” 

He nods, gasping as Wei Ying parts his folds with one hand, and drags his fingers around his pussy with the other. He glides along smoothly, weightlessly, barely touching. Building the already-growing anticipation beneath his skin. Before, he could ignore it somewhat. He could focus on Wei Ying’s body, on his pleasure, but now that there’s nothing but himself and Wei Ying’s hands on him, he finds it near impossible to keep himself from breaking. Every subtle touch burns through him. Even the slightest pressure sharpens his awareness of the growing slick between his legs.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whispers with a dark smile, encircling his clit again, “just imagine what the world would do if they knew Hanguang-Jun was having the Yiling Patriarch’s baby. Just think how much they would fear you.”

He has never wanted to be feared, and yet he feels himself pulse at the thought. Of himself, round with child with his husband’s dark energy surrounding him. Them against the world, too powerful to ever be properly dealt with, with too many children to ever let their legacy die. He used to fear Wei Ying’s resentment. Used to fear everything about him. And now, he finds himself slipping into the fantasy, where Wei Ying’s darkness is the only light around him.

“Oh, you like that,” Wei Ying remarks with a laugh. “You’re so wet. I should fuck you right now.”

“Yes,” he agrees, moaning as Wei Ying rubs his fingers against his clit. The muscles in his legs tighten, anticipating familiar release, and he breathes deeply to still his body. Wei Ying hasn’t given him permission yet. He has to be good.

“I bet you don’t even need my cock to come,” his husband muses, pushing harder against his clit. “You want it so badly, all I need to do is touch you just so…” 

And his husband pushes his fingers inside, pressing in with cruel efficiency. Lan Wangji clenches his stomach, forces himself to breathe. He can’t—he can’t break. And yet Wei Ying is pushing him there, dragging his fingers in and out in a perfect rhythm that he longs to chase. But he can’t. He can’t.

“Please,” he whimpers, hands bunching in the sheets.

“Please what?” Wei Ying asks with a mischievous smile.

“Please…” 

The words escape from his mind as Wei Ying strokes between his legs at a dangerous speed. All he can think about is the glide of his hand, of the slick pooling between his legs and onto his thighs.

“Wei-gege,” he manages to choke out, “please.”

“Hm,” his husband murmurs, considering him. “You’re asking so nicely, but for what… I really can’t tell…”

“I need…” He whispers, flushing with impatience. The words are too slow and too far away from him to reach. He cries out as Wei Ying pushes another finger inside him. “Wei Ying…”

“Yes?” his husband asks sweetly, pressing against him so deeply, Lan Wangji’s vision blurs for a brief moment. “I’m here.”

“Wei Ying!” he moans, clutching the sheets in desperation. He can’t speak, not with his husband torturing him so wonderfully. 

Wei Ying pauses, lifting his hands away from him. The air between his legs grows cold and still. Lan Wangji lets out an involuntary whimper as his husband sits up and stares down at him.

“Alright, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs. “Enough games. I know what you want.”

He thinks he gasps as the relief overcomes him. He needs him. He needs his husband.

“You know,” Wei Ying murmurs, dragging his slicked fingers against Lan Wangji’s lips. He parts them involuntarily, longing to chase his touch. “You’ve been very patient.” 

Wei Ying slips his fingers in between his parted lips, and Lan Wangji takes the silent invitation to suck his husband’s fingers, to remove the traces of himself. “I bet you could do this for hours, if I wanted.” He hears himself moan as his husband reaches in deeper, shuddering as he moves his fingers. “Unfortunately, I’m not as patient. And since you’re being so good…”

His husband stands, open robes swinging around him. He drops them to the floor with a flourish, grinning at his own theatrics. Were he not so tense with his own arousal, so wrung out and overcome, he would smile. He would enjoy it very much. As it is, he merely watches his husband finish undressing with growing desperation. Wei Ying is too far away, Lan Wangji is too cold. Everything is too much.

“Ah, don’t fret, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says as he climbs on top of him. “Your Wei-gege is here now. Just relax.”

Lan Wangji does as his husband says, laying his head back against the pillow, loosening his shoulders into the mattress. His husband grips his hips, pulls his legs apart, and slips inside with such familiarity. Lan Wangji can’t help but gasp in relief.

“Perfect,” Wei Ying murmurs, guiding Lan Wangji’s legs up over his shoulders, “you’ve been so good for me tonight. I think you deserve to come when you want. But—” He gives Lan Wangji a mischievous grin. “I need to come, too, Lan Zhan.”

He nods, understanding what his husband is proposing. He wants that. He wants his husband to find release, to use him if he must. He wants him to be rewarded, too.

“Glad we agree,” Wei Ying says with a laugh, and thrusts into him. Hard.

Lan Wangji cries out, so overwhelmed with the presence of his husband. So overwhelmed with what he’s been chasing for… however long it’s been. Wei Ying moves with startlingly fast precision, hitting his innermost place with such force, it only takes a few thrusts before Lan Wangji falls apart. Just as he wants. Just as he always wants—to feel Wei Ying without any doubt. 

He trembles, vaguely aware of his husband slowly tensing above him. Vaguely aware of his husband’s unyielding motions. And then, Wei Ying groans, hands clutching Lan Wangji’s thighs, and comes inside him. Lan Wangji sinks into it, savouring its familiarity, its promise. His husband will give him children one day. His husband is here forever. 

Wei Ying rests above him for several long moments, slowly regaining his breath. He lets out a soft laugh as he finally guides Lan Wangji’s legs back onto the mattress. 

“Good,” he whispers, leaning down to kiss him. “So fucking good, Lan Zhan. You did such a good job.”  

“Hm,” he murmurs, feeling warm and content as his husband kisses him over and over again.

Too soon, his husband rises, briefly leaving his side to bring back a washcloth and soothe his warm skin. “My good boy,” he says. “The best.”

He nods, greedily taking Wei Ying’s praise as his heartbeat slows. Wei Ying kisses the corners of his eyes, and wipes away the tears there. He hadn’t realized they had even fallen. He hadn’t felt anything, really, besides Wei Ying around him. He’d been perfectly detached from himself, just as he’d wanted.

“Let me get you a treat,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his cheek. He reaches towards something on a nearby table, and produces an orange. Where did that come from? “Just lie your head in my lap—yes, that’s good. Let gege feed you, alright?”

He rests his head  against his husband’s thigh and watches him peel the orange above him. It comes away in a beautiful, unbroken spiral, warm and glowing in his husband’s hands.

“Oh, you like that?” Wei Ying asks with a laugh. “I used to practice this in Yunmeng. Peeling them all nice and pretty. To impress girls or something.” He scoffs at himself, shaking his head. “Lan Zhan—you were only ever the one I truly wanted to impress. Have I managed that?”

He nods, his heart overflowing with love for his husband. He’s impressed him in so many ways—not just with his skill in peeling oranges. If he had the words just now, he would use them, but he still feels…. gone. In a pleasant way. He loves Wei Ying so very much, for giving him this.

“Here, open up,” Wei Ying instructs.

The orange is sweet against his tongue, juicy and ripe as he crushes it against the roof of his mouth. Wei Ying murmurs gentle praises as he chews it, and feeds him another. And another, and another, until Lan Wangji begins to feel… more of himself. He feels the slight irritation of his skin, the slight pressure beneath his muscles. It’s present, but dulled. He does not feel as though he were at their mercy. He feels… in control.

“You too,” he whispers, before Wei Ying can feed him another slice. “Wei Ying—”

“If you insist, Lan Zhan,” his husband says with an amused hum. “Do you feel better now?”

“Yes,” he whispers, smiling up at his husband. “Thank you, Wei Ying.”

“Ah, no need to thank me,” Wei Ying huffs, popping the slice of orange into his mouth. “I’d do it again. And I can’t deny I enjoyed tormenting you a bit. Did you like it?”

He nods. It was just what he needed. Wei Ying really could have gone longer, if he wanted to. He thinks he could’ve taken it.

“Perhaps…” he says, his throat dry. He gulps it down and tries again. “Perhaps you could torment… more.”

“More!” Wei Ying repeats with a dark laugh. He strokes along Lan Wangji’s hairline, smoothing his fingers against his brow. “You better mark your words, Lan Zhan! I can be even more annoying than I already am!”

He frowns. “Not annoying.”

Wei Ying could never be annoying to him. He loves everything about his husband—from his frantic energy to his deepest silences. There is nothing about him he’d change.

“Ah! I’m joking, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying assures him, patting his shoulders. “No need to come to my defence against me.” He sighs affectionately, stroking his cheek. “But next time… we can try more.”

“Promise.”

His husband laughs gently. “I promise. I’m so glad you feel better, Lan Zhan. I know you’ve been miserable.”

Has he really been so obvious? Is he really so far from his sect, he cannot even behave himself?

“It has been difficult,” he agrees. “I am sorry.”

“What!” Wei Ying exclaims, mouth agape in shock. “There’s nothing to apologize for! If anything, I should apologize… for not being able to…”

“It is beyond your control,” he assures his husband, “you have helped me in many ways.”

His husband sighs, relaxing at his assurances. His mouth screws as he contemplates, eyebrows wagging as the thoughts dance through his head. 

“Has it occurred to you,” he says slowly, furrowing his brow, “that you haven’t bled yet because… you’re pregnant?”

His heart jumps and sinks all at once. So, Wei Ying knew that, too. What else has he known all along?

“It has,” he agrees, keeping his voice measured. “I do not want… to be hopeful.”

“I know, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs. “But… considering how many days it’s been… it might mean…”

His words trail off as he shrugs.

“If nothing has changed come morning, I will see a physician.”

“Yes, good,” Wei Ying agrees, untangling a small knot in Lan Wangji’s hair. “Can I come?”

He nods. If it is indeed good news, he wants Wei Ying and A-Yuan present to hear it, too. And if it is not, their presence will be comforting.

“A-Yuan will enjoy the trip to town,” Wei Ying murmurs. “It’s so rare the three of us go together!”

“Perhaps we should amend that.”

“Of course, Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying agrees with a warm laugh. “I know it’s not always possible, but we could go more often. I bet you’ll be a very bad influence and buy all sorts of things for A-Yuan!”

“Only because you buy nothing,” he protests.

“I bought him those rabbits!” Wei Ying cries out to his defence. “And besides! Looking is perfectly fine! You know how content he was in the Burial Mounds, just looking at things? These ideas you’ve put in his head!”

He shakes his head with a fond smile, imagining the bickering that awaits them. “You both deserve much more than the Burial Mounds.”

Wei Ying’s hands tense in his hair, and a small gasp escapes from his mouth.

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” he says with a hoarse whisper. “You’ve given us so much more than the Burial Mounds already.”

And he can give more. He will give more.

He rises to his knees to kiss his husband. Every mark is a promise.


The streets are quiet this morning. It is supposed to rain, but Lan Wangji does no quite believe it. How could it rain on a day like this? There is far too much excitement bursting from his bones for rain to dare make an appearance. The events of the morning float in his mind like a dream, still too perfect to be believed.

His husband’s hand is on the small of his back, and A-Yuan is in his arms. And he is speaking—quickly, excitedly. He is listing off all the things they will need to purchase, all the adjustments they will need to make. But all Lan Wangji can think about is the way his husband embraced him as the physician told him he was, indeed, with child. The way his heart stilled in relief, knowing this past week was not a product of his own misplaced hope. He is really bearing Wei Ying’s child.

It’s still such a fragile thing, this person growing inside him. The physician said he is only a few weeks along. His symptoms over the last week were his body reacting to the changes. They will subside soon, though other inconveniences will appear in their stead. It’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make, if it means he will have what he’s always wanted.

“You’ll be a big brother, A-Yuan,” Wei Ying is saying now. “Are you excited?”

“When?” A-Yuan asks. “Tomorrow?”

“No,” Wei Ying says with a laugh. “It’ll be a long time yet. Your Baba’s got to grow the baby inside him first!”

“What about you?”

“Oh, no,” Wei Ying says with a laugh, and winks at Lan Wangji. “I’ve already done my part.”

He shoots his husband an affectionate glare. Wei Ying laughs the whole walk home.

Chapter Text

Wei Ying is in the fields today. A-Yuan trails behind him, “helping.” Lan Wangji watches them move in the distance with a small smile, the jug of water on his hip heavy and full. As he steps in between the rows of grain, his husband notices him, and drops his tools to wave . Soon, the spring rains will come, and the valley will flood, and they will truly see if they have the skill to sustain the lands. But for now, they are living on hope. They are practically drunk with it. 

“Ah, thank you, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs as Lan Wangji meets them. 

He crouches down and produces two cups from his sleeve. He pours a cup for A-Yuan first, then one for his husband. He watches Wei Ying’s throat bob, watches his grin spread when he hands the cup back to him. He seems to be of good spirits today. He seems… alright, compared to the night before. 

Then, his husband carried himself wearily as the evening descended on their home. He folded himself into Lan Wangji’s arms did not speak for a long time, silent and miserable. Lan Wangji held him without questioning, until Wei Ying pulled open his robes and buried himself inside. They did not speak then, either, but he felt Wei Ying’s love all the same. 

He knows grief is not linear—he sat with his own for three years. There were days it was unbearable, and days when he saw a future beyond it. There were times he did not blame himself for the events that lead to Wei Ying’s death, and times he did. There were times he could barely eat, could barely think—where he became an empty shell of a person. And there were other days he longed to return to the world, and face whatever consequences came. 

Wei Ying has been very much the same. The longer they are married, the more Lan Wangji notices the shift in his husband’s feelings. The brief flashes of despair as something reminds him of the people he lost, the silent evenings lost to memories. He does not swallow down those feelings as much anymore. He does not try to hide them.

Lan Wangji refills his husband’s cup, then A-Yuan’s again and again, until they’ve both had their fill. He readjusts A-Yuan’s hat to ensure he’s adequately protected by the sun, and rises to do the same for his husband. 

“Thank you, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says with an amused smile as Lan Wangji reties the string on his hat. “Am I sufficiently covered?”

He repositions the hat so it shades his face more evenly. He was wearing it at an angle, leaving the lower part of his beautiful exposed to the elements. “Mn.”

“Are you going to town today?”

“Yes—now.”

Wei Ying grins. “Good. Don’t forget to stop at the tailor.”

“I will not,” he assures him. 

Wei Ying has already begun to make preparations for Lan Wangji’s pregnancy, even though he is barely showing at the moment. He’s ordered him a couple new sets of robes, a binder that will accommodate his eventually large belly. His husband insists it’s better to be overly prepared than be caught unawares. And he supposes he’s right. He could be perfectly capable of fitting in his robes one day, and suddenly incapable the next. It is best to be prepared.

“Good! It’s very important.”

“Yes,” he agrees, indulging his husband in another kiss. Everything to prepare for the baby is important, of course. He would never argue with that.

“A-Yuan, do you want to go with Baba?”

His son scrunches up his mouth thoughtfully, considering the question for a moment, before he shakes his head with conviction.

“Are you sure?” Wei Ying questions, crouching down to be level with him. “You have to stay with me the whole time until Baba gets back, even if you get tired.”

A-Yuan considers this by frowning again, finally nodding in agreement.

“Alright,” Wei Ying says, rising. He deposits a kiss on Lan Wangji’s lips, a hand caressing his lower abdomen. He’s taken a liking to doing that—like he cannot completely believe it. “You keep out of trouble.”

He frowns, knowing it will make his husband laugh. And it does.

“Oh, I know you will,” Wei Ying says with a fond smile. “Even if you didn’t, you’d take care of yourself just fine. I just…” 

He shrugs and kisses him on the cheek, instead of finishing his sentence.

“I know.”

Wei Ying has been cautious since his pregnancy was confirmed. Cautious, but not controlling. It seems there are two parts of him warring within him. He recognizes Lan Wangji’s capability at continuing his daily tasks and taking care of himself, but he also feels apprehensive about the life growing inside him. He hasn’t said anything, but Lan Wangji has caught the way his eyes follow him whenever they are together. He sees the worry, he sees the hesitation. And he sees the flare of possessiveness ignite in his eyes, a flicker of the Yiling Patriarch that makes Lan Wangji burn in a way that is familiar, and for once not forbidden.

He wants his freedom, his autonomy. But seeing his husband stare at him like he owns him makes him feel… 

Something he can’t quite name. Something good.

He wants the baby to resemble Wei Ying. He wants to give the baby the name of Wei. He wants this child to be Wei Ying’s in every way. And he is unsure how to broach the subject. Unsure how Wei Ying will react. The name of Wei Wuxian has been branded forever, twisted into the pure evil he never was. But there are other people with the surname Wei in the world. This child will not be cursed to have it.

“Well,” Wei Ying says, patting his stomach once more. “You should be off, shouldn’t you?”

He nods, blinking away his swirling thoughts. He gives Wei Ying a final kiss, readjusts A-Yuan’s hat, then slowly makes his way back towards their home, towards the road. He leaves   the empty water jug and cups by the well, then sets off towards town.

He visits the tailor first, since Wei Ying specifically reminded him. The tailor gives him an odd smile as she hands him the package of carefully folded robes, already paid by his husband, and tells him he hopes he enjoys his purchases. He bows his head in appreciation and assures her he will, even if the items inside are hardly exciting. He was there with Wei Ying when they ordered the new robes—he knows exactly what he’ll find later. They’re plain, but well-made, in black and grey. Nothing particularly exciting. 

Still, when the tailor wags her eyebrows as he turns from her, he can’t help but wonder if there’s something else inside.

He quickly distracts himself from any errant thoughts by pausing in front of a seed vendor. He concentrates on the small bags of vegetables and flowers, reading each label as he half-listens to the conversation the vendor and another customer are having. Something about the rains coming. Something about the price of radishes. He nearly turns after a few moments’ pause—there’s nothing they really need just yet—when a bag of lotus seeds catches his attention. 

Longing digs into his heart as he stares at the small pouch, as he remembers Wei Ying’s excited chatter while he showed him around the Burial Mounds all those years ago. He’d been trying to plant lotuses there. He’d been successful. Lan Wangji recalls the small tug of pride he’d felt as he’d come across the forgotten pond, still flowering as he faced down the elders from his sect.

“A very low price, young master,” the vendor says eagerly, noting his interest in the small sachet. “The climate is perfect. The lotus can bloom year-long!”

He’s unsure how true any of these claims are, but he pays the vendor and takes the seeds anyway. He thinks this gift will be appreciated. Wei Ying will enjoy the challenge of growing them. He doubts it will be as difficult as before. He hopes it will bring him comfort.

His next stop is to the apothecary, to inquire if his message has been received. If there’s a reply waiting for him. He is both longing for and dreading it. When his brother hears of his and A-Yuan’s permanent home, will he want to come visit? What can Lan Wangji tell him? How would his brother interpret his message if he denied him?

The apothecary informs him his son has not returned. Lan Wangji attempts to ignore the wave of relief that brings. That decision will wait for another time. It is best to avoid getting carried away in hypothetical situations that may not even come to pass.

“Hanguang-Jun!”

He glances behind him at the sound of a familiar voice. Luo Qingyang approaches him with various parcels her arms, a grin spreading across her face.

“How nice to see you again,” she says as they bow to one another.

“And you,” he says, and lets her lead him away from the main square to a more secluded street, where they’re less likely to be in people’s way.

He has not seen her since he was first married. Not long after their wedding night, she continued on her way to the next village, after hearing news of some wayward spirits taunting the area. He expects she must have found other places in need along her travels. She has not needed to come back for some time.

“You look well,” she says, giving him a look up and down.

“As do you.”

She raises an eyebrow, her teeth glittering in the late morning sun, and Lan Wangji feels a strange pull to elaborate in a way he never has before. He has always been selective with his words, never had many he would consider a friend. But living here, becoming acquainted with the locals, helping them with their small spiritual problems, has certainly changed him. Being unable to keep his brother informed of his current life has changed him. He does not wish to be as selective as he once was.

“I am with child,” he tells her.

Luo Qingyang’s grin deepens, a small laugh erupting from her throat, and something warm settles inside Lan Wangji’s heart at the sound of it. There’s a certain familiarity, a certain comfort. He could get used to that.

“I thought so,” she says with a mischievous wag of her eyebrow. “You have an aura about you, Hanguang-Jun.”

He elects to take that as a compliment.

“You know what they say about pregnancy,” she says, “it makes you glow like the sunlight on morning dew—or so the village aunties keep telling me.” She rolls her eyes with a laugh. “They’ve always asking when I’ll find myself a husband. But I’m afraid I’m not quite finished running around.”

“Your future husband should run with you.”

Luo Qingyang laughs harder, throwing her head back in amusement. “I agree,” she says. “I suppose your husband is not one to ask you to retire and become a homemaker?”

“No.”

He cannot deny he enjoys making their home, however. He enjoys being the one his husband comes back to after a long day in the fields, or after a journey into town to sell talismans. But he is grateful is husband has not limited him to only that. That he will never limit him to only that.

“Speaking of,” she says, “there is a family a few towns over that has been dealing with quite a few resentful spirits. I believe I may be in need of assistance. That’s why I’ve come back. Would you care to join me?”

He has not left this part of the world since he and Wei Ying first arrived. He had not wanted to in the beginning. After weeks of travel, looking behind their shoulders at every turn, it had felt right to stop for a moment. To settle into one place. He has not yet tired of that—of having a home to build, of having people to build it with. But the prospect of leaving for a brief time is alluring, too. To journey somewhere without fear, without obligation. To help because he can.

It’s quite an easy decision.


In the evening, he packs his qiankun pouch with a few items for the night hunt ahead. He agreed to meet Luo Qingyang first thing at the inn. It will take them half a day by sword to reach their destination, and they will hopefully be back the following morning. It will be easy enough, especially with his qin to placate and guide the spirits. Nothing too dangerous or sinister should occur. 

And yet, as he folds his extra set of robes, he feels his husband’s eyes watching his every move from the desk. His stomach, barely showing signs of the baby, suddenly feels so much bigger. So conspicuous.

When he told Wei Ying of Luo Qingyang’s request for help, he had smiled with warmth and told him he was good to help this family. He had kissed him and said he would be waiting for his return.

And yet…

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says.

He stills his hands, and turns to face his husband. “Yes?”

Wei Ying winces, worrying his lower lip with his front teeth. “Well,” he says slowly, laughing with no real mirth. “It’s silly, really, I know. You’re very capable—but I can’t help but feel—”

He laughs again, tapping his fingers along the edge of the desk uncomfortably. 

“I understand,” Lan Wangji says gently, crossing the room in quick, even strides. He sinks to his knees in front of his husband, and reaches across the desk to stroke his cheek. “I will be careful.”

“I know you will,” Wei Ying says with a sigh, leaning into his touch. “I’m being very unreasonable. I want you to go and help people. But…”

Lan Wangji tucks a stray hair behind Wei Ying’s ear. “I know,” he murmurs, caressing its ends.

Wei Ying sighs again, then smiles at him, as though resetting his face. “I’ll miss you so, you know. We haven’t been apart for more than a few hours since—”

He came back from the dead. 

It’s still strange to say that aloud.

“Patience has its rewards,” Lan Wangji reminds him.

His husband flashes him a mischievous smile. “What kind of rewards?”

He feels his cheeks heat in spite of himself, as his mind darts in all directions.

“Will you bring me back a present, Lan-er-gege?” Wei Ying asks, running his tongue along his front teeth.

He breathes, steels himself, wills his mind to not even begin to go down those pathways. “Perhaps,” he says evenly. “If you behave.”

Wei Ying barks out a laugh, slapping the table emphatically. “How will you know? You won’t be here!”

“I will know,” he says, in what he hopes is a mysterious and alluring tone.

Wei Ying lets out a shaky breath, his smile wide and lopsided as he composes himself. “Oh, Lan Zhan,” he murmurs. “I love you so.”

“I love you,” he whispers back, taking Wei Ying’s hand in his. He squeezes it gently in reassurance, hoping somehow Wei Ying will understand with every pulse of his fingers. He will return. He will be alright. The child inside him will grow.

“I bought you something today,” he says, plucking the sachet of lotus seeds from where it still hangs on his belt.

“Did you?” Wei Ying asks, eyes sparkling as Lan Wangji deposits the sachet in his palm. For a moment, he sees the ghost of the boy Wei Ying was—the same curve of the smile, the same unbridled joy. It warms him every time he is able to extract that part of him. To help him feel beyond the pain and grief of the years since they met at Cloud Recesses.

“Yes.”

Wei Ying grins, and pulls at the drawstring to open the small sachet. He pours half its contents into his empty palm, eyes widening with recognition. His lips twitch and part as he attempts to begin several sentences.

“Apparently this climate is good for lotus,” Lan Wangji says to fill the silence. It seems his husband is pleased with his gift, but the doubt creeps in nonetheless. “It can bloom year-long.”

“Probably,” Wei Ying agrees, grinning. “We’re even more southerly than Lotus Pier. It might even be easier here than it was there! Have you ever eaten lotus seeds, Lan Zhan?”

He shakes his head. He has only once had Yunmeng’s renowned lotus root soup. A dull twist of regret settles in his stomach for having never asked Jiang Yanli for the recipe. But why would he have back then? He could not have seen the future. And yet, he can’t help but silently curse himself for his lack of omniscience.

“Ah, I think you’d like them,” Wei Ying says with a glint in his eye. “There’s so many things you can do with lotus! You’ll be sick of it.”

“Never.”

His husband laughs softly, narrowing his eyes. “We’ll have to make a pond, won’t we? And we’ll need…”

Lan Wangji listens with rapt attention as his husband lists off everything they will need to properly host the lotus. His heart is reassured he made the correct decision.

Eventually, Wei Ying returns to his talismans, and Lan Wangji rises to put away his new robes. As he places the first set into a cupboard, he sees Wei Ying sit up straighter in the corner of his eye. Watching him.

He recalls the tailor’s strange smile as he accepted the package. The wish that she hoped he enjoyed his purchases. Enjoyed. It seems hardly necessary for fairly plain, serviceable pregnancy robes. So that must mean…

“Wei Ying?”

His husband stands, making his way towards the bed with the smallest of smiles. There’s a darkness beneath his eyes. A slight danger. “Keep going, Lan Zhan.”

Lan Wangji feels his heart flip as he lifts the next set of robes. There is fabric beneath them, and not the familiar cotton of a new binder. Something light and silken and likely very thin.

He gulps, and puts away the robes in his hands properly before he can get too distracted. Now he understands Wei Ying’s urgency in ordering new robes. It wasn’t so much to be prepared as it was to cover his true intentions. 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says with a grin. “I got you a little extra something. I hope you don’t mind.”

Were he younger, had Wei Ying never died, he would likely attempt to refuse such a gift. He would say it is unnecessary, too much. But now, he will never deny Wei Ying anything. He will give him all he can in return.

“I do not,” he says with a small smile.

Wei Ying beams back at him. “Give it a look, then.”

Lan Wangji bends over the package the tailor gave him, and takes in the robes carefully folded within. They’re light blue, similar to his old Lan robes, made of thin silk that ripples at even the slightest touch. They are decorated with embroidered white peonies, instead of the signature cloud pattern of the Lan. If he were to attempt to wear them in public, he would need to wear several layers of under-robes—likely six or seven—otherwise they would cling to every line of his body.

That is not their purpose, however. He is quite certain fo that. His ears heat just a little as he strokes the fabric with a finger, catching his husband’s grin in his periphery.

“What do you think, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks, leaning into him.

He meets his husband’s eager eyes, and presses a kiss to his cheek. “They’re beautiful,” he says. “Thank you, Wei Ying.”

Wei Ying beams—so bright it makes Lan Wangji’s heart stutter.

“Try them on, Lan Zhan. I want to see.”

He lifts the fine, folded pieces one by one, watching his husband’s focused gaze in the corner of his eye. He cannot suppress the smile. These are as much a gift to Wei Ying as they are to him. His husband is very resourceful.

It’s only when he’s lifted the thin inner robe from the package that he notices the black robes folded neatly underneath. Black with accents of red, made of a similarly thin silk, shimmering in the candlelight. Familiar and different, reminiscent of unhappier times. But different enough they send a trill of anticipation down his back.

Wei Ying looked so handsome back then, in spite of everything. Handsome and unreachable. Lan Wangji had never wanted him more. How often had he secretly wished for Wei Ying to steal him away and make him a willing prisoner? How often had he reconciled with himself that while he could never go on his own accord, he would not resist if Wei Ying took him?

He runs a hand along the fabric, imagining his husband in these robes tonight. He would look just as handsome, if not more. 

“I was thinking,” Wei Ying says, mouth curving into a sly smile, “we could play a little game.”

He meets his husband’s eyes, lit with a fire that engulfs him in one glance. His fingers enclose the fabric into a fist. Wei Ying always knows what he wants. Wei Ying knows him.

“Yes,” he agrees.

“Get dressed,” Wei Ying says in a low voice that makes Lan Wangji shiver. “Take your time. Knock on the door when you’re ready for me."

Lan Wangji relaxes, grateful his husband is taking away the possibility of choice. Sometimes, it is really too much, and in this unfamiliar scenario, he’d much rather be told what to do than have to decide. 

“Then,” Wei Ying continues, leaning in closer, lips brushing against his cheek, “the Yiling Patriarch will have his way with you.” He lets out a low laugh, and gives Lan Wangji a gentle kiss on the cheek. “Let’s say Hanguang-Jun has come to see me. You pick why. Regardless, I will ruin you thoroughly.”

He nods, his heart flaming as he imagines all the possibilities. Wei Ying is giving him a choice, but it is easy enough to make. He merely needs to think on what he’d do if he could go back to those days.

“Now, be a good boy and get dressed for me,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his cheek

He nods, heart thrumming as Wei Ying collects the robes and takes his leave. He waits until the sounds of Wei Ying’s footsteps fade, as he likely dips into the spare room to change. Lan Wangji lets the silence wash over him, takes a few calming breaths, and stands. Anticipation dances all over him, but as he falls into the familiar act of putting away the new binder, and disposing of the paper, he begins to calm.

He disrobes, folding each layer carefully. For practical reasons, he removes his binder, too—even if in this pretend scenario, Lan Wangji would likely have not done such a thing. He also would not have worn such revealing robes, either, but that is beside the point entirely.

The robes are so light, he can barely feel them resting against his frame. They cling to every curve of his body, every line—and the way the fabric falls on his breasts and accentuates his nipples is practically obscene. The shape of them is very clearly visible beneath the thin silk, already hardening the longer he stares at himself.

His husband will love it.

He opens his lacquered wooden box resting atop a cupboard and picks out one of his pieces. They have sold some of the smaller ones on the road, but are keeping the rest for emergencies. For tonight, he thinks his husband will appreciate to see him in one. He combs his hair and sections the top as he used to, laying the flat, intricate silver piece at its peak. Even after months of wearing his hair much more simply, the motions return to him easily. He can do it entirely by feel alone.

He passes his hands over his hair, testing its security, then over his robes. The panels meet high against his throat, at yet he still feels incredibly bare in them. Their modesty is a mere illusion, a joke in and of itself. He wonders if Wei Ying requested them to be such on purpose, if he saw the humour beneath it, too.

He takes another breath, examines himself one last time as best as he can, and crosses the room to knock softly on the door.

Wei Ying takes his time entering. He can hear him on the other side, feet light against the tiled floor. The shadow of his hand rests against the door, and Lan Wangji watches as he lays talismans over them, humming softly to himself as he works. Finally, his hands still, and Lan Wangji takes a step back to make room for Wei Ying.

The doors slide open, and his husband glides in. Though tonight, he supposes, Wei Ying is not his husband. Not in this scenario they’ve created. Wei Ying is… his enemy? Not exactly. He could never be Lan Wangji’s enemy, even in play. But perhaps Wei Ying views Lan Wangji as one tonight, as he did long ago. 

If Lan Wangji considered his robes to be obscene, his husband’s are even more so. They’re barely tied together, exposing inches upon inches of Wei Ying’s sculpted chest. They rest precariously on his shoulders—one movement, one tug, and they would ripple down his arms onto the floor. Lan Wangji wrings his hands together to stop himself from pulling them down. That is not what he would have done back then.

“Hanguang-Jun,” Wei Ying drawls, raising an eyebrow, “to what do I owe the pleasure?”

He opens his mouth to speak, but his throat is… quite dry. He was not prepared to see his husband like this, in this semi-undressed state that feels even more vulgar than anything he’s experienced before. If Wei Ying had looked like this when Lan Wangji visited the Burial Mounds, he is unsure he would have been able to leave. That he would have been able to contain himself at all.

“What?” Wei Ying sneers, stepping closer. “Who sent you?”

“No one,” he manages to rasp out. He did not realize how much he’d be affected by this. How much seeing Wei Ying with his old resentment, bared in this way, would render him nearly speechless. “Wei Ying—I have come for you.”

“For me?” he repeats with a laugh. “What? To take me back to Gusu? To purify me? To imprison me?”

“No,” he says, gulping. “I am here—for you. To remain by your side.”

Wei Ying considers this, eyes flickering up and down his body—like he’s only noticing it now. Noticing how the fabric clings to him.

“And do what?” he challenges. “What would I need you for?”

“Whatever you want,” Lan Wangji replies, unable to contain his desperation. It isn’t real, but it also is. All his feelings from the past come swirling back as Wei Ying’s cruel gaze meets his. All the words he never said the first time ensnare his heart. “Whatever you need—I am yours.”

Wei Ying narrows his eyes, tilting his mouth into a lopsided smile. “Whatever I want,” he repeats, grabbing Lan Wangji by the waist and pulling him in. There is still some space between them, but barely. If Lan Wangji were to step forward, they’d be pressed against one another. “Are you sure?”

He meets Wei Ying’s eyes with determination, squaring his jaw. “Yes.”

Wei Ying’s eyes flicker downwards, taking him in for a second time. “What if what I want…” He lets out a hollow laugh. “Well… perhaps you already know. Do you want it, too, Lan Zhan? Coming here, dressed like this, tits out…” He clicks his tongue and shakes his head. “You’d call me shameless.”

He stares at Wei Ying, at a complete loss for words. Much like he would have been back then. He supposes the accuracy merely heightens this experience.

“Ah, you do want it—don’t you?” Wei Ying teases, pulling him closer. Lan Wangji feels the outline of his cock against his hip, and he barely restrains himself from grinding against it. His younger self would not have been so bold, even if he had showed up to the Burial Mounds dressed as he is. 

“How far will you let me go?” he muses aloud, untying Lan Wangji’s belt in one fluid motion. “Would you stop me here?” He parts his robes impatiently, not bothering to properly untie them. Lan Wangji thinks he hears the soft sound of the ties ripping as he tears both layers open. 

“Or here?” Wei Ying raises an eyebrow as he takes in the small strip of bared skin peeking out from the parted layers. He raises his hands to Lan Wangji’s shoulders, and pushes away the fabric. It falls to the floor noiselessly, leaving Lan Wangji entirely bare from the waist up. 

Wei Ying pauses, taking him in, his eyes alight with both want and mischief. “You really are going to let me do anything,” he muses, arms snaking around his waist. “Am I right, Lan Zhan?”

There is nowhere to look but directly into Wei Ying’s eyes. Into the fury and desire that burns within them. How can this be so real? Why does his heart race, as though Wei Ying would really deny him?

“If that is what you want,” he whispers.

Wei Ying lets out a dark laugh, tightening his grip. “Oh, Hanguang-Jun,” he murmurs. “You never cease to surprise me.”

His lips descend upon Lan Wangji’s with bruising force, a wild mix of tongue and teeth that leave Lan Wangji breathless. He lets out a desperate whimper, gasping against Wei Ying’s lips. His breath is so hot, so uneven, as he kisses him back.

Wei Ying hands trail up his back, caressing his scars, fingertips tracing patterns into him. Writing characters Lan Wangji is too distracted to understand. He sucks on Lan Wangji’s lower lip, lacing into his hair, caressing it, combing through it. 

Wei Ying takes a handful and pulls. Sharp, without warning.

Lan Wangji lets out a scry in surprise, sinking his teeth into Wei Ying’s lip. The pain is only brief, replaced with heavy waves of pleasure that roll in as Wei Ying pulls a little harder. He knows what he likes, what he can take. He knows he wants this, even without him having to voice it. He cranes his neck for more, bites him again in a silent plea.

Wei Ying pulls his hair again, less forcefully, and pulls back enough to look Lan Wangji in the eye. He smirks, laughing to himself at whatever he finds, and releases his hair. “Lan Zhan,” he says, raising an eyebrow, “it’s good to know you have some fight in you.” He leans in to kiss his cheek, much gentler now. “But I don’t want to fight you,” he decides. “We’ve done that enough, haven’t we?”

He nods, a hundred emotions churning within him. He does not want to fight Wei Ying. And he does at the same time. He wants his cruelty, his danger. He wants to feel weak. He can barely explain it to himself. He can barely understand. But he wants it.

Wei Ying’s lips spread into a grin, and he gives Lan Wangji’s hair another playful tug. “Unless,” he says, running his tongue along his abused lip, “you want that. Want me to be mean.”

His heart drops and races at the same time. Yes, he wants that. He didn’t realize how disappointed he was in not having it, until Wei Ying suggested it again. Always one step ahead of him. Always reading him before he can read himself.

“Is that a yes?”

“Yes,” he breathes.

Wei Ying smiles, fondly without edge, and pats his hair again. Then, his smile fades, twists, as his eyes grow dark again. “Get on your knees,” he says.

Lan Wangji obeys, heart thundering in his ears as he sinks to the floor. His robes are pooled beneath him, cushioning him somewhat. Not that he needs that. He has knelt for most of his life. This is nothing in comparison.

Wei Ying fiddles with the drawstring of his trousers, humming to himself. Lan Wangji cannot help but stare at the tenting in the front, at the lines so clearly visible through the thin fabric. 

“Do you know what I want you to do like this?”

He lifts his eyes to meet Wei Ying’s. “Yes.”

“Have you done it before?”

“No.”

Wei Ying lets out an amused snort, and turns his face away to compose himself. Lan Wangji has never been good at lying—or rather acting, as it is now. It is very obvious.

“Ah well,” Wei Ying says, barely suppressing a laugh. “You’ll learn.”

Wei Ying steps closer to him, as he breathes deeply to calm himself. Fingers rest at the base of Lan Wangji’s neck, curling into his hair, while his free hand loosens the drawstring enough to free his cock.

“Open your mouth,” Wei Ying instructs. 

Lan Wangji obeys, surrendering himself completely to Wei Ying’s grip. Slowly, he guides Lan Wangji’s head closer, placing the tip inside his open mouth, and waiting to see what he’ll do with it. Lan Wangji runs his tongue along the slit, as he’s done many times before, his touch light and teasing. His husband gently laughs above him.

“There we go,” he murmurs, pushing him closer. Lan Wangji accepts the intrusion, breathing deeply the farther he goes. “Very good.”

Before he can even anticipate it, before he can prepare, Wei Ying thrusts into his mouth, the fingers in his hair tightening their grip. Lan Wangji lets out a surprised moan, gagging as the tip hits the back of his throat with sudden force.

“What?” Wei Ying teases, thrusting into him again. “You wanted me to be mean.”

“Mn,” he moans, nodding his head aggressively This is what he wanted. Wei Ying is so good to give it to him.

“Good,” his husband appraises. “I know Hanguang-Jun can take whatever I give him.”

He closes his eyes, leans into the cradle of Wei Ying’s hand on the back of his neck, and loses himself to the feeling of Wei Ying’s cock inside his mouth. He relaxes into the rhythm Wei Ying establishes, lets his jaw go lax the longer Wei Ying uses him. Behind his eyelids are soft bursts of colour, soft reminders of the world he’s left behind. Everything is amplified like this—Wei Ying’s fingers in his hair, Lan Wangji’s hands on his thighs, and the place between them pooling with desire. And when his husband comes with a grunt, he swallows every last drop. 

Wei Ying does not move away as he slowly softens. Instead, he pats Lan Wangji’s hair and murmurs quiet praises. How good he’s being, how good he feels. He barely hears them all. It’s good, being here, holding his husband like this. Being nothing more than a device for his amusement.

Eventually, even he tires, swaying forward the longer Wei Ying goes on. He’s unsure how much time has passed since they’ve been like this, but he’s begun to feel the ache in his knees, the heaviness of his head. He could go on, if Wei Ying wanted. He could do anything, if Wei Ying wanted. But he’s still…

“Hm,” Wei Ying murmurs. “Are you getting tired, Lan Zhan?”

He blinks, the candlelight in their room blinding in comparison to the darkness of his eyelids. He shakes his head, even as he sinks further into his husband, even as he registers the slight ache in his jaw from keeping his mouth open.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying scolds, gently pulling at his hair, “lying is forbidden.”

He attempts to speak, momentarily forgetting about the cock in his mouth. All that comes out are garbled syllables even he doesn’t recognize. Wei Ying laughs and gently retreats, wiping away the trail of spit and come that follow its exit.

“What were you trying to say?” he asks, thumb over his lower lip.

“I am,” he says, throat hoarse from Wei Ying’s ministrations. He swallows and tries again. “I am not in Cloud Recesses.”

“Oh?” Wei Ying exclaims with delight, his teeth bright in the darkness. “Never took you to be so flighty on such righteous matters! Even Hanguang-Jun can break, is that it?”

“For you,” he agrees, his voice still hoarse, “yes.”

“For me,” Wei Ying repeats, pushing his thumb between Lan Wangji’s parted lips. He obediently sucks on it, tongue laving over the pad. There’s a small cut there, from cutting down weeds. The healing skin is sharp against his tongue. “Well,” Wei Ying decides, pulling away his hand to rest it on top of Lan Wangji’s head. “I suppose you’ve broken enough rules as it is. What’s lying in comparison? Come—let me help you stand.”

Wei Ying bends down, grasps him beneath his arms, and hauls him to his feet. His knees buckle at the sudden movement, numb from kneeling on the cold tile, and Wei Ying solves the issue by picking him up, and crossing the short distance to the bed.

He is so much better than when they were first reunited. No longer starving, now so strong from working in their fields, he can even lift Lan Wangji without too much of a struggle. Wei Ying’s arms are solid around him, and Lan Wangji nuzzles his face against the crook of his neck. He’s warm. Not as warm as he would be with a core, but still pleasant. Still present. 

His husband holds him closer, gripping hard on his hips and shoulders, and tosses him onto the bed without ceremony. Lan Wangji lets out a pitiful whine at the unfairness of it all, reaching up to grab at him. But Wei Ying’s reflexes have also improved since recovering from… everything. He quickly evades his grasp with an amused smile.

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying sighs, sinking onto the mattress beside him. “I now understand why you came to me.” He tucks away a stray hair from Lan Wangji’s face, eyes traveling up to his forehead, where is ribbon is still tied. Will he dare to remove it? Would he have, back then?

“I bet you’ve never had a good fuck in your life.”

“Yes,” he agrees, as convincingly as he can manage.

Wei Ying’s smile turns wolfish, and a small laugh bursts from his husband’s lips—like a bark. Lan Wangji purses his own lips to keep himself from smiling, to at least attempt to preserve the illusion. His husband’s hands trail up to Lan Wangji’s stomach, acknowledging the gentle softness of the growing baby, and bites his lip—pulled from fantasy to their reality. Lan Wangji meets his husband’s eyes, lets the warmth of them reassure him, and allows him to break for a moment.

Once his laughter has faded, Wei Ying clears his throat, resets his face, and looks to him with that old intensity. “You need it, don’t you?” he asks. "Need me.”

“Yes,” he breathes, and Wei Ying kisses him again.

He pushes him onto his back, pressing his fingers into his wrists. He rises up, over Lan Wangji, straddling his hips, overpowering him in every way. He’s keenly aware of his husband’s weight pushing into him, keenly aware that while Lan Wangji could surely challenge him if needed, he would put up an excellent fight. The thought of that alone, of resisting, of having Wei Ying chase after him, is quite intoxicating. For another time, maybe. Another scenario. Just now, he doesn’t wish to fight him. He wishes to surrender.

“Just look at you,” Wei Ying murmurs, brushing their noses together. “So perfect.”

He would have been back then. Unblemished. Perhaps the scars on his back and the Wen iron on his chest would have felt like nothing in comparison, if they’d done this back then. Nothing compared to the brand inside him, to places Wei Ying would have mapped out and made a home within.

“Ah—don’t look so scared, Lan Zhan. It won’t hurt.” 

He knows it wouldn’t. Wei Ying knows how to loosen him, so even the harshest strokes are bearable. But he wouldn’t have known that back then. He wouldn’t have known anything. Would he have wanted it to be painless? Or would that pain have proven it had really happened?

“Unless,” Wei Ying says in a low voice, “you want it to.”

He already knows the answer. They both do.

“Ah, of course,” his husband murmurs, pushing down on his wrists even harder. “You want more than the memory, don’t you?” His nails push into the flesh of his arm, and Lan Wangji moans in both pleasure and pain as he doesn’t loosen his hold. “But you have that core. Can I really leave a mark?”

“Try,” Lan Wangji grits out, flexing against Wei Ying’s fingernails, encouraging him to dig deeper.

His husband’s eyes widen, his mouth spreading into a cruel grin. “Very well,” he says, squeezing harder. “If you insist.”

Lan Wangji gives into the pain, gasping as Wei Ying tightens his hold, as his mouth descends onto his nipple. He sinks his teeth into the hardened peak, harder and longer than he ever normally would. It burns with sharp intensity at first, and slowly dulls with the pleasure that comes after, with the gentle tingle of his nerves and arousal distracting him. Wei Ying licks his teeth marks as an apology, tongue circling around them over and over, until Lan Wangji has nearly forgotten about what came before. Then, he bites again without warning. Lan Wangji cannot contain the wail building in the back of his throat, his eyes filling with tears.

“Good, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying encourages him, kissing where his teeth have made their mark. “Keep making those pretty sounds for me.”

He shifts to kiss Lan Wangji’s lips, relaxing his hold on his wrists to dry his tears. He kisses his face, threads fingers through hair, strokes his cheek.

“Alright?” Wei Ying whispers, eyes wide and without pretence.

“Alright,” he confirms.

Wei Ying grins, then returns to work on his other nipple, abusing it just as thoroughly. The longer he goes on, the more Lan Wangji’s restraint wears thin, until he is practically screaming from impact.

Encouraged, his husband quickly divests him of his trousers. His own robes, having fallen from his shoulders, now rest precariously on his elbows. He quickly shrugs them off, shrugs off his own trousers, and shoves himself into Lan Wangji without a moment’s pause. 

The pain is unmistakable at first, without any kind of preparation. He’s wet, but not wet enough, and Wei Ying’s cock feel impossible inside him. It takes the breath right out of his lungs, makes his heart race impossibly fast. And it’s just what he wanted. Just the right ache, the right punch to his gut. 

“Do you like that?” Wei Ying whispers, pushing into him.

He nods, thrusting upwards to deepen Wei Ying’s reach. His body adjusts to his husband’s presence, his cock leaving a less pressing ache the longer it rests inside him.

“You Lan,” Wei Ying scolds, “even in bed, you want to be punished, hm?”

“Perhaps.” 

His husband lets out a deep laugh. “If that’s what you want. You know, the Yiling Patriarch lives to serve his people.”

Was Lan Wangji one of his people back then? Would he really have taken him, if he’d only asked?

“Am I—”

“Of course,” Wei Ying assures him. “You’ve always been one of mine, Hanguang-Jun. Even if you didn’t know it.”

“I—” He gasps as Wei Ying lowers his hand to play with his clit, “have known it.”

“Is that so?” he teases, flicking his fingers along it. Lan Wangji cries out from the burst of feeling as he does. He’s spread open by Wei Ying’s cock, pulled closer by his fingers on his slit. It’s absolutely maddening. Lan Wangji writhes against him.

His husband lets out an amused laugh. “Glad we’ve cleared that up, then.”

Lan Wangji pitches his hips upwards, silently begging. He wants to feel him in the days to come when they’ll be separated. Even if he leaves behind no traces come morning, he wants to somehow feel it.

Wei Ying simply rubs him in response, making no signs he’ll move any further, that he’ll fuck him like he wants.

“Wei Ying—”

“Yes?”

“Fuck me.”

His husband laughs, pushing deeper inside him with infuriating slowness. “I am.”

He lets out a frustrated grunt, thrusting his hips forward in desperation. That’s not what he meant. Wei Ying knows that’s not what he meant. “Faster.”

“Ah, Hanguang-Jun,” Wei Ying tuts, licking his fingers that were playing with his clit, “that’s not very polite, is it?”

“Wei Ying,” he groans. His eyes brim with tears again, his body aching from being teased for so long. “Please.” 

Wei Ying considers him for a moment, taking in his tears, his swollen nipples, the indentations on his wrists, and smiles down at him. “It’s a good thing you’re pretty, Lan Zhan,” he tells him. “That pout is so persuasive.”

And with that, he snaps his hips, and gives Lan Wangji exactly what he wants. Fast, brutal, and unyielding. Wei Ying grips his hips as he fucks him, firmly holding at just the right angle to hit the places he craves. Lan Wangji lets the pleasure overtake him, slumping into the mattress, whining when his inner walls shake and he comes with his husband inside him. Wei Ying doesn’t relent—he never does—and Lan Wangji shakes with him, every nerve awake and unforgiving. 

It isn’t long before Wei Ying comes with a cry of his own, his thrusts slowing, but not stopping—not until he begins to soften. Lan Wangji sobs when he leaves him, at the sudden emptiness inside. He feels too open, too exposed. He needs Wei Ying to hold him together.

His husband doesn’t leave him alone for long. He wraps Lan Wangji in his arms and kisses every tear on is face. Gently, he removes the silver piece from his hair, loosens the tie holding it back. He massages his fingers into his scalp, alleviates the pressure that had built atop his head. It’s been a while since he’s worn his hair in such a way—his body has forgotten.

“Was that what you wanted?” Wei Ying asks, his voice quiet and tentative. He loosens the forehead ribbon and sets it down beside him on the bed. “Did I push you too far?”

“No.”

He never could.

“I thought so,” he whispers, stroking his hair. “Just want to be sure.”

“Hm.”

He does not quite have the words just now—he’s too wrung out for that. But sometime soon, he will tell him exactly how it feels for him. Why he needs it. He supposes Wei Ying already knows. He’s always understood him, even when he didn’t.

“Can you imagine,” Wei Ying whispers, laughing softly, “if that had really happened? The honourable Hanguang-Jun abandoning his sect to fuck the Yiling Patriarch?”

“Didn’t it?” he asks him, glancing up at his husband. “Is that not what I’ve done?”

Wei Ying laughs, more heartily this time, holding him closer. “I suppose it is,” he says. “And it’s so much more. If only we’d done it sooner.”

Sometimes, he thinks about that, too. If he’d really gone to the Burial Mounds to give himself up, what would have changed? Would Wei Ying have lost control on the Qiongqi Path? Would Jin Zixuan have died then? Would the confrontation at Nightless City have ever happened?

“Now is good enough,” he decides.

Wei Ying hums to himself, considering his words. “I suppose you’re right, Lan Zhan,” he whispers. “The past… it’s happened. And we can’t change it. So we may as well carry on in spite of it.”

“Yes,” he agrees, stroking his husband’s cheek. “We must.”


In the morning, he wakes to unblemished skin. There’s a slight ache around his nipples as he washes himself, but he supposes that’s from the pregnancy more than anything else. He does not feel the ache of Wei Ying’s presence in his abdomen, or the harshness in his throat where he fucked him. Yet, he feels him still. The ghost of him. A shadow of the night and what they’ve done. He’ll let it carry him through the days they’ll be apart.

When he’s dressed, with his qiankun pouch secured to his belt, and Bichen in his hand, he returns to the bed for one last look at his husband. Wei Ying is asleep, sprawled out over the entirety of the mattress, now that Lan Wangji has vacated it. His face is pushed into a pillow, his arms outstretched. His sleeping robe is lopsided, exposing a shoulder to the cool morning air. Lan Wangji presses his lips against it.

“Hmph,” Wei Ying murmurs, readjusting himself. “Lan Zhan.”

“A-Yuan will wake soon,” he reminds him, brushing his hair over one shoulder.

Wei Ying sighs heavily, mutters something about Cloud Recesses and routine, and begrudgingly rises to a sitting position.

“Lan Zhan,” he pouts, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Don’t leave.”

“Behave,” he chides, kissing his husband’s pouted lip. “I will return.”

“With a present?” he asks, brightening at the thought. 

“Perhaps.”

“Perhaps,” Wei Ying repeats with a laugh.

“You will see.”

He leaves as the sun begins to rise. As he starts down the path towards town, the soft laughter of his husband a son drifts towards him in the wind. He hears it long after their home is out of sight, replaying in his mind again and again.

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji stirs restlessly in his bed. The sun peeks through the cracks in his window, burning against his cheek, and the air in their room, even with the window open, is far too still. Across the room, Luo Qingyang sleeps peacefully behind a privacy screen, her breaths soft and even.

He should be doing the same. He should be resting before their night hunt. In mere hours, they will have to be alert and attentive to their surroundings. But no matter how he lies, he cannot get comfortable. He’s too warm, the room too stuffy, his robes too constricting. Even with two privacy screens between them, he does not feel comfortable enough to strip down. They do not know each other well enough for that.

He used to be able to fall asleep at a moment’s notice. Anytime, anywhere, any circumstance—if it was necessary, he could do it. But today, he simply can’t. He’s too warm and too restless. His head aches from the stale air.

With a sigh, he rises from the bed, takes up Bichen and his pouch, and slips out of their room. A short walk around the area may calm him enough to sleep, or at the very least lie still.

It is cooler outside than it was in their room. The breeze rustles gently around his robes and fans his face, and he instantly feels better. The longer he walks, the more streets he crosses, the more his head clears. His discomfort lessens the more fresh air he breathes.

He places a hand on his stomach, a gentle reproach to his child. He is barely showing, the child is still so small inside him, and they are already making their presence known. Causing him trouble.

This is certainly Wei Ying’s child. He cannot contain his smile.

He turns a corner to return to the inn, and finds himself somewhere unfamiliar. He must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Not that it would be difficult to do, considering he barely knows the area.

“Young master,” a voice croons beside him. 

Long fingers grasp the sleeve of his robes, and Lan Wangji glances sideways to see a woman in gauzy robes staring at him expectantly. Her lips are painted a deep red, her eyes lined and accentuated. Her nails, still holding his sleeve, are perfectly manicured. 

He may be… sheltered, as Wei Ying has teased him about before, but even he can recognize her profession. 

“I’ve never seen you before,” the woman says, raising an eyebrow. “Are you traveling?”

He stares down at her for a beat too long, woefully ill-equipped to deal with women of any kind, let alone flirtatious working women. She takes his silence as an invitation, leaning in closer. He firmly steps back.

“Apologies,” he mutters, ears heating. He quickly darts into the first shop he sees.

It is quiet. Small, lined with shelves and tables. Not a single inch is unused. He has to admire the shopkeeper’s organization abilities.

It does not take long for him to notice this shop is of a certain nature, from the stacks of books on tables, to the devices on display against the walls. There are all kinds of objects, so many things Lan Wangji has never seen before, can not even begin to guess what they are used for.

He swallows down whatever shame he may feel as he wanders through the shop. Need he remind himself that he is, in fact, a married man? He need not be offended or embarrassed. In fact, in the past, Wei Ying visited similar shops to provide them with the most enlightening literature. It is not his first experience with a shop such as this.

But… it is quite different to be here himself.

Sometimes, it is still difficult to chase his own pleasure. Certain acts, certain asks, are easy to want now. But the teachings of his former sect—of modesty, propriety, and general restraint from lust—still cling to his heart some days. It is easy to act upon the desires they have already paved together. It is easy to accept the pleasure Wei Ying gives him, to bend to his will and do as he commands. And it is easy to give to Wei Ying in return, to touch him in a myriad of ways and give him what he seeks. But to want more, to ask for more than what has been established… he has not been quite able do it yet. He cannot quite take control himself.

He walks along the displays of books similar to the ones Wei Ying has purchased, fingers trailing over the covers. Perhaps he should buy one. It would be rude to simply leave the shop, especially since he came inside for shelter from an awkward situation. To use the shop owner’s time and space like this without any compensation would be unacceptable. Of course. And Wei Ying did request a gift. What is he if not a diligent spouse?

He reads the titles laid out on the table, hoping to see one that will pique his interest, when something else catches the corner of his eye. Another sort of display.

Intrigue pulls at him as he gazes at the phalluses laid out on a corner shelf. They are of varying lengths, widths, and materials. Serving different purposes, he supposes. He notes the clarity of the jade and the shine of the lacquered wood and brass, notes how some are more detailed to resemble an actual cock, while others merely suggest the shape.

His eyes gravitate towards a wooden cock at the back of the display—long and wide, not a proper imitation in the slightest. But something about it inspires Lan Wangji to step forward and take a closer look. Something hot and wanting crackles to life inside him.

Wei Ying would like the challenge. That is his first thought, as he gazes at it. And as for himself… he wants… he would like…

His husband enjoys being penetrated by Lan Wangji’s fingers when the mood hits him. He sprawling on their bed and making demands as Lan Wangji does his best to fulfill them. But there is only so much his fingers can do, only so much he can give as he is. And Wei Ying always wants more when he gets in this particular mood. More he cannot readily give. And Lan Wangji wants to give that to him. He wants to watch Wei Ying fall apart, wants to hear him come undone by his hand.

It still feels strange to want that. Somehow… forbidden.

He has never in all his life desired to have a cock, or really any features men like Wei Ying have. And being with Wei Ying, he has never felt inadequate. His husband has never given him reason to believe he wished for his body to be different. But… he thinks Wei Ying would like this. That he would enjoy taking something so impossibly big. 

Lan Wangji can already imagine the way his husband’s eyes burn when he first looks upon it. He can already see the hard determination and desire so perfectly.

He… wants to see that. So much.

Wanting is difficult, but Lan Wangji is brave.


By the time he and Luo Qingyang finish dealing with the resentful spirits, dawn is breaking. There were certainly too many for one cultivator to properly deal with. These lands have not had the benefit of one for many years.

“I think we make a good team, Hanguang-Jun,” Luo Qingyang says as they walk back to the inn. After a rest and a meal, they will part ways. Lan Wangji will return home, and Luo Qingyang will continue onwards, discovering these lands and mapping out their problems. “Can I call upon you the next time?”

“Yes.”

She smiles, brightly in spite of their late adventures. “I suppose that baby will keep you home, eventually.”

“Not for many months.”

“True,” she agrees. “You should be able to continue your cultivation until you are quite far along.”

“Yes.”

Unless there are complications, he has no reason to slow any time soon, not when there are those who could benefit from his skills. Though… he also has no intention to needlessly worry his husband. He may allow himself to be fretted over earlier than necessary, if it would ease Wei Ying’s mind—

A sudden rush of nausea roils in his stomach before he can complete that thought. The earth tilts and he grabs a nearby tree for purchase, squeezing his eyes shut as more unsettled waves ripple through him.

“Hanguang-Jun?” Luo Qingyang exclaims, clutching onto his arm.

He takes several breaths to steady himself and opens his eyes to respond to her. He no longer feels so unsteady, now that the moment has passed. He straightens his back, tilts his head towards her to speak.

And bile rises up his throat. He whips his head towards a growth of shrubs and vomits into them.

“Oh, Hanguang-Jun,” Luo Qingyang sighs, giving his shoulder a hesitant pat as he empties his stomach. He heaves against the tree, watching as his thankfully rather empty stomach is emptied. “That baby is starting to make trouble for you, I see.”

He nods, resting his forehead against the tree. He coughs up the last remnants of bile and shudders at the raw feeling it leaves in his throat. Luo Qingyang gives his arm and reassuring squeeze, and when he finally draws away from the tree, she offers him a sip from her water skin.

“Of course,” she adds with a laugh in her voice as she leads him away from the tree, “being Wei Wuxian’s, the child will be quite the handful, won’t they?” 

“Perhaps,” he agrees. “I would prefer that.”

Luo Qingyang does not loosen her hold as she laughs at his admission. He does not shrug her off, even after the nausea seems to have passed. He cannot be sure it is over just yet. This is the first time he has ever felt ill while pregnant.

“Ah,” she sighs knowingly, “—you really are in love.”

He smiles, the warmth within him uncontrollable. Pregnancy has truly made him far more sentimental. He wonders just how he will behave when he is farther along.

“Not that I ever had a doubt, Hanguang-Jun.”
“You may call me Wangji,” he decides, as she guides him back towards town. It seems a little ridiculous for her to address him so formally, especially after he vomited into a bush in front of her.

“Ah, yes,” she agrees. “I suppose we’re past formalities, Wangji.” 

No one but his brother and uncle have ever addressed him such, but it feels appropriate, hearing her say it. It feels more than appropriate. Right.

“And you may call me Mianmian. If you wish.”

He nods, smiling to himself. Wei Ying will be so jealous. 


When he returns, his husband and son are eating their evening meal. He’s barely crossed the room before A-Yuan drops his chopsticks, jumps up from the table and runs to embrace his legs.

“A-Yuan!” Wei Ying chides, catching the chopsticks before they clatter to the floor. “Give Baba a moment. Poor man just got back.”

“I do not mind,” he protests, patting A-Yuan’s hair affectionately. “I missed A-Yuan, too.”

“And what about me?” Wei Ying pouts, crossing his arms.

He gives his husband a small smile. “I missed Wei Ying, too.”

Wei Ying beams back at him, his eyes sparkling in the dimming daylight. Abruptly, he stands and hurries back to the stove, where the remnants of their dinner lie.

“Come—sit, sit,” Wei Ying insists, gently pushing him towards the table. “A-Yuan, you can cuddle Baba after, alright?”

A-Yuan reluctantly peels himself off Lan Wangji’s legs and sits at the table once more. Lan Wangji puts aside his qin and other provisions before settling down near his son.

“Baba…” A-Yuan murmurs, shoving a bite of rice into his general direction. 

Lan Wangji dutifully accepts the offering, closing his mouth around the small bite of rice. A-Yuan giggles as one grain misses his mouth and falls on his lip, and Lan Wangji brushes it away with a smile. 

Every day, in the simplest of moments, he is reminded of the times before. Watching A-Yuan feed Wei Ying with his own spoon, holding him in his lap as he played with his paper moths. Seeing a future he believed could never happen. For so many years, he cursed himself for leaving them behind. He replayed those scenes, envisioned a future where he remained in the Burial Mounds. Where he begged Wei Ying to stay instead of run to Nightless City. To somehow save the remaining Wen and his beloved.

But they have a future now. He intends to let go of everything that came before.

Wei Ying serves him a bowl of steaming vegetables and fish. Certainly not as intricate or as complicated as his own cooking has become—but very much appreciated.

“Xian-gege took me fishing,” A-Yuan tells him as he takes his first bites. “And he—and he—caught a big one.” He extends his arms to show Lan Wangji just how big. “Big as me!”

“Not as big as A-Yuan,” Wei Ying corrects with a smile, pinching his cheek. “But close enough. It was quite big.”

“And slimy,” A-Yuan adds.

“Very,” Wei Ying agrees. “You should’ve seen his face when he touched it, Lan Zhan!” He flashes Lan Wangji an impish grin. “He was not prepared for that.”

“The scales were shiny,” A-Yuan says, pouting.

“Ah, not all shiny things are nice,” Wei Ying tells him, patting the top of his head. “There’s an important life lesson, huh?”

Lan Wangji gives his husband a sage nod. He is not wrong, after all. Not all that seems appealing or beautiful is beneficial. 

A-Yuan considers his words thoughtfully, scrunching up his mouth as he thinks. He opens his mouth several times to speak, but decides against it every time.

“Ah, don’t worry about it so much,” Wei Ying assures him, pinching his cheek and patting it until A-Yuan smiles. “These are things you learn when you grow up.” He glances across the table at Lan Wangji with a wry smile. “What a serious child you have, Hanguang-Jun.”

“Not too serious,” Lan Wangji counters. He gives A-Yuan, a reassuring smile, and their child grins back. It is then he notices another tooth has gone missing in his absence. 

“Ah—I wonder what the baby will be like,” Wei Ying muses as Lan Wangji takes a few more bites. “Serious like you? A great menace like me?”

A-Yuan giggles, and Wei Ying’s eyes widen with amusement. “Oh, you think I’m a menace, A-Yuan?” he demands, reaching across to tickle his stomach. A-Yuan shrieks with laughter as Wei Ying digs into him mercilessly.

Lan Wangji finishes his meal with a smile, as A-Yuan’s voice rings through their home. There is one Gusu Lan principle he has no issue dismissing. Food and laughter belong together. He wants his home to be filled with it, with their children gathered around them.


Evenings in their home are a quiet affair. Wei Ying works on talismans while Lan Wangji instructs A-Yuan on the guqin. He is still very intrigued by Wei Ying’s dizi, but ever since beginning lessons on the qin, he has progressed very nicely—in spite of their many pauses in instruction to ask questions.

Tonight is very much the same. Lan Wangji sits A-Yuan on his lap and guides his fingers over the strings. A-Yuan is very attentive, until Lan Wangji leans over him to demonstrate a new fingering. He tenses, twists in Lan Wangji’s lap, and wraps his arms around his middle with a sigh. 

He must be tired. There is no use pushing him further tonight.

“You feel different,” A-Yuan murmurs, snuggling in closer.

He has always been an observant child—even the slightest change is monumental to him. The day apart must have given him new understanding, new context.

“That’s the baby,” Lan Wangji tells him, pressing a hand to his stomach to demonstrate.

His child lays his hand over Lan Wangji’s, staring at his middle with deep concentration. “How is a baby in there?” he asks, frowning.

“The baby is very small,” he explains. “They will grow.”

A-Yuan considers this thoughtfully, his lower lip pouting out. “But where did they come from?”

He suppresses a sigh, and feels the heat rushing to his ears. He should have prepared himself for this sort of conversation the moment he knew the truth. Perhaps he was simply hoping he would not have to have it. These matters were never discussed among his own family. It is not natural for him to be open.

“The baby,” he begins slowly, choosing every word carefully, “was a gift from Xian-gege.”

From the corner of the room, Wei Ying snickers, bent over his talisman paper. Lan Wangji refuses to look at him directly.

“It is like this,” he continues. He holds A-Yuan a little firmer, to steady himself. This child is still too young to know the exact procedure. He must be vague, but not misleading. “Inside me, there is a place for the baby to grow. But… the baby cannot come to be without help.”

“I planted a little seed,” Wei Ying chimes in. Lan Wangji does not have to be looking at him to know the smile on his face. The flash of teeth, the wag of his eyebrow. He can see it quite vividly on his own. “Well… maybe more than a little—”

He shoots his husband a warning glare. Wei Ying bites his lip to contain his broad smile. It is very difficult to be cross with a face like that.

“The baby is like a tree?” A-Yuan demands incredulously.

“Not quite,” Lan Wangji says, finally meeting A-Yuan’s eyes. “But in essence, yes.”

“Oh,” A-Yuan sighs, nodding. “We saw a really big tree yesterday.”
He suppresses an exhale of relief. It seems he’s satisfied A-Yuan’s curiosity for now. “Did you, now?” 

A-Yuan nods excitedly, and launches into a detailed description of how and where he and Wei Ying and found the tree. Lan Wangji listens with unwavering attention, until A-Yuan begins to yawn and Lan Wangji declares it’s time for bed.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says once he’s returned from preparing A-Yuan for bed, “your brother’s letter came.”

He holds out a messenger tube, unsealed, and Lan Wangji’s heart sinks. It seems tonight, he will be forced to confront interactions he had hoped he would have more time to think about. 

He crosses the room and takes the tube out of Wei Ying’s hands, breaking the seal with the corner of his fingernail. There is no way to avoid it now. He must bear whatever lies within.

His brother’s note is warm, thankful. He says he is grateful he and A-Yuan have found a place to settle, that his cultivation is needed. He is happy that he has begun to make connections with the locals, and acknowledges all of A-Yuan’s milestones Lan Wangji did his best to recount. He expresses some regret he could not witness them himself. 

Sick guilt burns in Lan Wangji’s gut as he rereads that particular passage. He knows it was not his brother’s intention, he knows they have never been the best at communication with one another, and he still cannot bear it. It is Lan Wangji who is denying him seeing A-Yuan, denying in watching him grow. All because he could not bear to be apart from Wei Ying once again.

He wanders over to the bed and sits, aware of Wei Ying’s eyes on him. His husband can look all he wants—he does not wish to conceal anything. He just needs a moment. He suspects he will need many more, to fully shed the shame and guilt he so often feels.

It is not selfish to desire his own life, away from his people. It is not selfish to give up everything for his intended one, his zhiji. He has lost so much, sacrificed so many pieces of himself to remain true to the Lan and to his love for Wei Ying. He is permitted to choose. He is permitted to stop. 

His brother knows this, too. He does not resent him for leaving and taking his heir. He saw how changed he was after Wei Ying’s death, saw him deteriorate in isolation. Of course, he wants him to live well now—far from all that caused him distress. He must remind himself of that, every time he feels the creeping tendrils of regret snake around him.

His brother ends the letter by asking him to write again, when he can. He wishes him well, and tells him he will pass his update onto his uncle.

And that is it.

That is all.

With a sigh, he rolls the letter. 

“Ah—that kind of letter,” Wei Ying comments with a smile, rising to join him on the bed. He sidles up beside Lan Wangji and rests his chin against his shoulder. “What did it say?”

“He sends well-wishes,” he summarizes. Very poorly.

Wei Ying lets out a single laugh. “That’s all?” 

“It is not… what I expected.”

“And what was that?”

He sighs once again, pauses to collect his thoughts. He had spent so long worrying that his brother would ask to see him, that his brother would force him to choose whether to conceal Wei Ying or reveal him. And now, he has done neither. He has simply… greeted him.

“I am disappointed,” he concludes, lifting his eyes to his husband’s. “I feared he would ask to visit me, and I would have to choose how much to reveal to him. But he did not.”

His husband smiles, leaning in to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Your brother knows you well,” he says. “He must understand you would have reservations, especially this soon after leaving. So, he did not even ask. Why cause you distress?”

He nods. Surely, Wei Ying speaks reason. 

“This is why you shouldn’t worry so much,” his husband chides affectionately, flicking his forehead along the ribbon. “Imagining scenarios that won’t come to pass. Why exert yourself?”

He shrugs, and gives his husband a baleful look. It is simply who he is.

Wei Ying slumps against Lan Wangji’s shoulder with a moan, shaking his head miserably. “Stop, Lan Zhan! I can’t take it! You’re far too cute.”

Lan Wangji attempts to reset his face, to keep it blank and still as he once did, but every day he spends with Wei Ying, it becomes more and more difficult to do. With him, especially. Everything he feels is written so clearly on his face.

His husband lifts his head, sees his poor attempt at concealing his expression, and spits out a laugh.

“My silly husband,” he murmurs, and gives him a soft kiss. “I love you so.”

“I love you,” Lan Wangji murmurs, and kisses him back.

“Let’s not worry about this now,” Wei Ying implores him, pinching his cheeks with a grin. “If you want your brother to visit, I don’t think he would tell anyone about me. But… we have time to figure that out, alright?”

He nods reluctantly. He just prefers knowing things. He does not care much for the unknown, especially when it comes to this.

“Let’s talk of other things,” Wei Ying declares, wrapping an arm around his waist. “How was your night hunt?”

“It was fine. And here?”

“Oh—we managed,” Wei Ying says with a laugh, “A-Yuan missed you very much.”

Of course he would. They had not been separated in many weeks. And before, they had been separated for far too long. But surely, upon seeing him return, his son knows he will not leave for long. Not again. 

“And Wei Ying?”

His husband’s face melts into a warm smile. “I missed you, too, Lan Zhan. How couldn’t I?” He pouts, sticking his lower lip out as far as it can go. “Our bed was so empty and cold.”

He kisses Wei Ying’s sad lower lip, several times to make up for his absence, his heart racing at the silent suggestion. “We will have to warm it, then.”

His husband flashes him a mischievous smile, leaning in closer. “Do you have ideas, Lan Zhan?”

“Perhaps,” he says, in what he hopes is alluring and seductive. He is not the best at initiating—at least compared to his husband.

“Perhaps?” Wei Ying repeats with a laugh. He pokes Lan Wangji’s cheek gently. “What are you thinking about?”

“I bought…” The tips of his ears flush violently, and he fights to push through it. “…something.”

Wei Ying’s eyes light up dangerously. “Something,” he teases.

He nods.

His husband sidles up even closer to him, bouncing his leg impatiently. “What? 

With nervous tremors in his legs, Lan Wangji rises to retrieve the cock and harness he’d bought, safely tucked away. Before he can overthink, before he can allow himself to feel anything, he spins around to show them to his husband.

Wei Ying’s mouth drops open.

“Lan Zhan…” he whispers, eyes widening as he takes a good look and the wooden cock, at the straps of the harness meant to be worn with it. “For me?”

He nods, delight curling beneath his stomach as Wei Ying’s face mirrors exactly how he’d pictured it. Just the right amount of shock, the right amount of intrigue. Wei Ying wants this. Very much.

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says with a slow laugh, extending his arm to reach for it, “it’s… big.”

Lan Wangji sits beside his husband once again, holding the toy in his hand. “I thought,” he says, giving him a sideways glance, “you would appreciate the challenge.”

Wei Ying stares at him blankly for a long moment, eyes widening further in shock. A laugh bursts out of his lips, bubbling up his throat as he throws his head back in amusement.

“That’s…” he says, staring at the device once again, “…quite the challenge.”

“If I am mistaken…”

“No!” Wei Ying protests before Lan Wangji can even move, leaning right into him. “Of course not!”

Just as he’d thought. He is getting so much better at playing Wei Ying’s games. He smiles to himself.

“No?” he asks.

“No,” Wei Ying assures him, hurriedly. “I am… you are not mistaken, Lan Zhan.” He grins, and gives Lan Wangji a quick kiss on the cheek. “I want this. I want you. Thank you for thinking of your Wei-gege while you were gone.”

The warm rush of pride threatens to consume him. He has done very well in bringing this home, in giving Wei Ying something he clearly wants. Something he may not have asked for on his own.

“I am always thinking of my Wei-gege.”

His husband lets out a sweet moan in delight, tilting his face towards him to properly kiss him. “How did I get so lucky?” he murmurs, stroking his face. “I have the most perfect husband, who knows exactly what I want.”

Lan Wangji feels himself grow warmer as his husband kisses him, feels himself slowly dissolve into liquid as Wei Ying’s arms hold him firmly. His own grip loosens under his husband’s grasp, and the items in his hands fall into his lap as his husband parts his lips with his tongue.

He can scarcely breathe as Wei Ying devours him, as he somehow pulls them even closer together. He can scarcely move as his husband teases his earlobe with his teeth and makes him shiver all over, his embrace firm and unmoving. And just when he feels himself grow too warm, just went he feels himself grow too breathless, his husband draws away from him with a determined smile.

“Get undressed,” he says in a low, dangerous voice. “I’ll prepare the room.”

“Yes,” he whispers, “Wei-gege.”

His husband grins, all teeth and hard edges, and gives him one final kiss before rising from the bed.

Lan Wangji removes his robes in a daze, incredibly aware of his husband’s footsteps with every move he makes. He can map out exactly where he’s walking by sound alone, pictures it in his mind as his fingers move from memory. He wants this. He wants to give Wei Ying everything he has ever wanted. But it is still different. And different… is different.

“Here, my husband,” Wei Ying murmurs, suddenly before him. His fingers make quick work of the fastenings of his binder, and Lan Wangji slowly exhales as he removes it. His presence calms him, assures him he can and will do this, that nothing is too great or impossible to accomplish. He is capable enough.

“Ah—I’ve missed these,” his husband teases, burying his face in between his breasts with a sigh. He nuzzles his face against them, laughing to himself as Lan Wangji’s body instantly responds. “They’ve missed me, too, I think.”

“Wei Ying,” he chides as his husband draws circles around his hardening nipple with light fingers.

“What?” Wei Ying teases, pinching it gently. “Am I wrong?”

His breath stutters as Wei Ying pulls on it. He is not, of course.

“Am I?” Wei Ying asks again, lifting his head to meet Lan Wangji’s gaze head-on.

He shakes his head, moaning as his husband squeezes his breasts with strong hands. His body has missed Wei Ying, clearly. Terribly. Even if they have only been apart for a short time, he has missed his presence, missed the casual touches. He has missed his body beside his. And how couldn’t he miss being touched by him? His skin is practically vibrating now.

“I thought so,” Wei Ying murmurs, lowering him onto the mattress. They’re both still partially dressed—Wei Ying in his innermost robe and Lan Wangji in his trousers, and his husband slowly pulls on the drawstring to loosen the waistband.

“Did you fuck yourself with this?” Wei Ying asks him, taking the cock from his lap, “imagine it was me?”

He shakes his head again, his body responding to the suggestion—expanding and pulsing as Wei Ying stares back at him. Before, he could never fathom doing anything to himself. His self-pleasure was never encouraged in Gusu, and being married to Wei Ying—surely his pleasure belonged to his husband. But now, the images Wei Ying’s words conjure up intrigue him. He wonders how it would be different, to do such acts to himself. How it would feel. 

The hand on his waist snakes inside his trousers, and Lan Wangji’s breath stutters again in anticipation. He feels himself tremble beneath his skin, feels his thighs grow damp as his body recognizes the familiar motions and waits for what’s to come. 

“I must admit…” Wei Ying says, kneading fingers into thighs, so close and so far away from where Lan Wangji wants them, “I’d love to watch you fuck yourself with something like this.”

He nods, the blood rushing to his head. He will take back what is his, difficult as it might be. With Wei Ying, he could do it. He could do anything.

“Another time,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his hot cheeks.

“Yes,” he breathes.

Wei Ying smiles, warm and soft, and kisses him again. Lan Wangji relaxes into his husband’s embrace, accepting and returning his kisses as Wei Ying strokes his hair and teases his thighs. His eyes flutter closed as Wei Ying kisses down his chest and swirls his tongue around his nipple, humming softly to himself as he sucks on it. Between his legs, fingers inch closer, but he still do not touch. Always close, but not close enough. Never close enough.

He drifts beneath Wei Ying for a long time, moaning when Wei Ying’s teeth sink into his flesh, gasping when his fingers tease the outside of his folds. His husband throws in a few teasing strokes, dipping in between his folds, pushing just the tips of his fingers inside. Lan Wangji hears him murmur quiet praises, his own mind too distant and dreaming to pay much attention. Being with Wei Ying is often like this—he is half-awake, half-aware. He dreams and floats in his embrace, letting every wall, every facade break beneath him. It’s freeing, to let go. To become what Wei Ying wants. To allow himself to be broken apart and built anew.

Amidst his husband’s touches, he remembers, vaguely, he’s meant to be fucking him. Fucking him with a cock. That he’d bought. But if Wei Ying wants to devour his breasts and edge him onwards, he certainly won’t stop him.

“Alright, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs finally, lifting his head. “Are you still there?”

He blinks back to the present, to his husband’s eager eyes and brilliant smile, and nods.

“Are you ready to fuck me now?”

He nods, even as his stomach quivers at the thought. Different is still different, but he is willing to try. He wants to try.

“Good boy,” Wei Ying murmurs encouragingly, kissing his temple. “You’ll make your Wei-gege so happy.”

It’s all he wants. All he ever wants.

Wei Ying pulls on his forehead ribbon, now askew, and frees it. Lan Wangji sighs in relief as Wei Ying wraps his around his own wrist and holds it out so he can tie it into a secure knot.

“Let’s get this on you, huh?” his husband says, helping Lan Wangji sit up after he removes the last of their clothes. “Stand for me, will you?”

He takes a moment to orient himself, to will his body to move. After so long floating in Wei Ying’s liminal embrace, he does not have full control of himself. He flexes his fingers, points his toes, and sinks the weight of his legs into his heels enough times that he is finally ready to stand.

“Perfect,” Wei Ying murmurs. “My husband is so handsome.”

Colour rushes to his cheeks once again, soft and good as Wei Ying helps him step into the harness. The leather is surprisingly soft against his bare skin, even as he tightens it to rest flush against him. It’s so dark against his much paler skin, drawing lines in patterns that are… very appealing to the eye. Perhaps a little dangerous.

He meets his husband’s eyes, wide and full of want, and the heat in his stomach burns searing hot, shooting down between his legs.

“How does it feel?” Wei Ying asks him.

He runs his hands over the straps again, assessing himself. The cock is an extra weight, jutting out erect between his legs. It isn’t heavy, exactly—but it’s strange. Foreign. A little too exposed. He thinks he might prefer his natural body, where everything is safe inside him.

“Different,” he concludes.

“Different,” Wei Ying repeats with a fond smile, offering him his hands. “I can’t wait to feel it. Come here.”

He sinks onto the mattress again, kneeling before his husband. It does not feel quite as strange with the cock resting between his bent legs. He does not quite feel so off-balance. Wei Ying draws him into a kiss, rubbing his arms, nipping at his lips—and Lan Wangji relaxes into its familiarity, giving him kisses and bites of his own. His husband’s hands roam his body, caressing him with every kiss he gives. He inches down, farther and father, until Wei Ying grasps the wooden cock between his legs, and—

Oh.

He was not expecting that.

The band of leather supporting the cock rubs against his clit as Wei Ying begins to stroke it, awakening his already aroused nerves. He thought… he knew for Wei Ying, it would be enjoyable. He assumed for himself it would simply be a device for his husband’s pleasure. But now, as Wei Ying picks a rhythm, as he gently teases the leather against his clit, Lan Wangji feels his thighs shake. Every nerve buzzes as his husband kisses and touches him. Everything within him feels impossible.

They haven’t even begun. He will not last.

But perhaps that is what his husband wants. To take him so beyond himself, to flip him over and use him when it becomes too much. To reduce him to a mess of sweat and tears and hold him when all is done.

If Wei Ying wants that, of course he does, too. There is nothing better than his complete surrender. They both enjoy it so much.

“There we go,” Wei Ying murmurs, nuzzling his nose against his cheek. “Are you ready?”

He nods, in spite of the racing of his heart. They’ve been sitting on the edge of this precipice for long enough—he is ready for whatever happens. He is more at ease than when they began, which may have been Wei Ying’s intention in waiting all along.

His husband places a pot of lubricant in his open hands, and parts his legs until they rest on either side of him. As they’ve done many times before, whenever Wei Ying asks Lan Wangji to fuck him with his fingers.

Wei Ying lies back without needing to be prompted, resting his arms above his head on the pillow, stretching out luxuriously. Lan Wangji pauses for a moment to look at him—his body so tempting and relaxed. He will not be like this for long. Lan Wangji wants to take a good look.

He crawls forward, enough to lift Wei Ying’s hips and rest them on his lap. His husband grinds into his legs, ever hopeful for what’s to come, but Lan Wangji knows how he wants it. He does not want Lan Wangji’s fingers just yet. Not inside, at least.

Gently, he reaches beneath his husband to pulse his fingers into the knots that have built in his absence. He pushes on the sensitive muscle, unrelenting even as Wei Ying moans. It is half-pleasure, half-pain, a familiar sound Lan Wangji knows so well as he coaxes the muscle into looseness, until he hears the satisfying pop of his lower spine realigning.

Wei Ying wriggles his hips to test his body’s newfound freedom, and groans with satisfaction as tendons pop back into place. Satisfied, Lan Wangji presses his fingers into Wei Ying’s hips, letting his tongue trail over his stomach. 

He traces scars and imperfections—the mole above his hip, the scar Jiang Wanyin left behind, a bruise from where Wei Ying carelessly ran into a merchant’s cart. He kisses along the line of a much thinner scar—newly discovered by Lan Wangji. It is not as crude as a wound received in battle, too straight and thin to be an accident. Whatever happened, it was treated by a skilled hand. There is barely any evidence. 

He has not asked him how he came to have this. Not yet. Nor has he allowed himself to make assumptions. They have plenty of time to talk of the past. Everything is still too fresh for Wei Ying, every loss too near. For now, he is more concerned with loving his husband as he is. If he never knows the truth, if he never discovers everything there is to know about him, Lan Wangji will still be happy. There are some things he has not told Wei Ying either—things that perhaps deserve to be ignored. What matters is now. What matters is right in front of him.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying moans, as Lan Wangji dives his fingers into a particularly knotted area, right at his hip. His cock twitches when Lan Wangji digs into it even more, kneading his fingers until the muscle eases. “Lan Zhan… you’re bullying me!”

“Do you not like it?” he asks innocently, digging his fingers into his other hip. He already knows the answer—Wei Ying has voiced his approval of Lan Wangji’s ministrations enough times that he knows this is an act. That he wants him to attack every persistent knot in his body, to tease him beyond reproach. But he also loves to resist, to feign impatience. And Lan Wangji is slowly learning how to play this game with him.

“Mm, I like it,” Wei Ying murmurs, moaning again as Lan Wangji turns his attention to his chest. He pushes down on Wei Ying’s pecs, satisfied when he hears the tendons pop and realign themselves again. His husband gasps at the relief, at the ease in pressure to his back, his cock hardening against his stomach. “But… want you inside.”

“Inside,” Lan Wangji repeats, rubbing Wei Ying’s nipples with his thumbs. He presses beyond the bud, deep into his husband’s muscle tissue, smiling when the tension eases there, too. “How much?”

Wei Ying laughs, on the edge of breathless, and shakes his head. “How much,” he mimics, smiling. “What do you think?”

He hums in contemplation, rubbing his nipples with a lighter hand. Wei Ying’s reaches out to Lan Wangji, grabbing desperately at air as he pinches, as he pulls and twists at them. He enjoys watching him squirm beneath him, in seeing the delight in his eyes amidst his teasing. And he knows his husband loves to feel like this, too.

Wei Ying lets out another breathless laugh, arching his back, and stiffens underneath Lan Wangji’s hand.

“What do you think?” he asks again, his voice much lower and sharper.

He meets his husband’s eyes, his stomach churning at his change in tone. There is amusement beneath his eyes, but there is darkness, too. He has had enough. He wants what he wants, and Lan Wangji is to give it to him.

“I think,” he obeys, running his hands back towards his hips, “You want it very much.”

“Mn, you’re right, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying agrees, his smile radiant. He wraps his legs around Lan Wangji’s waist, drawing himself closer. “I do. Want you so much. Do you want me?”

“Always,” Lan Wangji murmurs, kissing his thigh. “Forever.” 

“Show me.”

He has always been so obedient.

It is all familiar now, as he dips his fingers into the lubricant, as it warms beneath his fingers. Wei Ying opens easily to him, sighing in contentment as he slides two fingers in. His body quickly adjusts to the intrusion, his breaths growing slow and the tension around his fingers eases, delights in the soft sounds of contentment coming from his husband. And just when Wei Ying’s eyes have closed and his breaths are barely visible, he drives a third finger inside.

“Ah,” Wei Ying moans, arching his back to demand more. “Yes—like that.”

“Yes,” Lan Wangji agrees, moving his fingers with his husband’s desperate hips. It is here he would cry for more, cry for faster, cry for deeper, until Lan Wangji grasped his cock and gave him something to fuck. But now, he largely remains quiet, except for small moans and whimpers as Lan Wangji spreads his fingers inside him.

“Lan Zhan,” his husband sighs, cock jumping when Lan Wangji hits a particularly sensitive spot. “Lan Zhan…”

Wei Ying is beautiful like this. Loose, pliant, trusting. When he wants him like this, when he offers himself up like this, Lan Wangji can scarcely contain himself. To be trusted, to be needed—there is nothing quite like it. And now, more than he ever imagined, he wants to see Wei Ying take him. He wants to be taken himself.

“Wei Ying,” he murmurs, pressing his fingers deeper inside.

His husband gasps at the shift, cock twitching once again. Lan Wangji is tempted to touch it, to take him in his mouth as his fingers drive into him. But that is not what he wants tonight. That is not what Wei Ying wants, either. Not yet, at least.

“Wei Ying,” he says again. “I want…”

Wei Ying’s eyes flutter open, curious and on fire all at once. “You want?”

He blushes as Wei Ying rolls his hips to his rhythm. His body is so flexible. So powerful. He watches in awe as Wei Ying clenches his stomach, as the lines of his re-defined abdominal muscles flex. Lan Wangji resists the urge to trail his tongue over them.

“What do you want, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying prompts, gasping again as Lan Wangji hits a particularly sensitive spot.

He blushes once again, more violently than before.

“I want—” he says, in spite of his blush. He must be bold. He must take back what is his. “—to give you this cock.”

Wei Ying grins up at him, raising an eyebrow encouragingly. He wants him to say more. He wants him to give name to his desires.

“I want to watch you take it,” he elaborates, relief flooding him as he sets it free. It’s like a wedge lifted out of him, finding the words for things he could never name. When Wei Ying’s eyebrow raises even more, he adds, “I want to come.”

His husband’s smile softens, fond and familiar as he pitches his hips upwards, reminding Lan Wangji his fingers are still nestled inside him. His heart sinks at the realization. He’d let his rhythm slip. He’d forgotten. How can he be good for his husband when he’s forgotten?

“Of course you want all that,” Wei Ying says gently, putting him at ease. “And you’ll get it. When I say you can.”

Lan Wangji frowns, in spite of himself. Doesn’t he want this now? Why would he want to wait?

“Wei Ying…” he whispers, not quite a question.

“Tell me how much you want it,” Wei Ying encourages him, rolling his hips again. “Why you bought it.”

“I want…” he responds, moving with his husband’s motions. He takes a moment to properly collect his thoughts, keenly aware of Wei Ying’s eyes on him. “I want it so much,” he tells him, pumping his fingers in and out of his hole, “I thought you would look… beautiful with it inside. I wanted… to feel you beneath me.”

“Yes,” Wei Ying encourages him. “Go on.”

“It intrigued me,” he adds. “I wanted to know… how it would feel.”

“Is that so?” Wei Ying teases, rocking his hips forward. “You want this for yourself—not for me?” He clicks his tongue reproachfully. “Lan Zhan…”

“I want it for you,” he insists. When Wei Ying gives him a disbelieving raise of an eyebrow, he quickly adds, “and for myself. For us both—Wei-gege.”

Wei Ying’s face softens again. “Ah…” he laughs, “you know the way to my heart.” He draws his eyebrows together to add, rather teasingly, “You minx.”

“Not so,” he argues, feeling his lip jut out in a pout. Even if said in jest, he doesn’t like being accused of lying. He would never lie to Wei Ying. He is not attempting to trick his husband into doing what he wants. What he wants is what Wei Ying wants, too, is it not? “I want you to feel good, Wei-gege.”

“I know,” Wei Ying says, much gentler, dropping his act. “It’s all you ever do for me, isn’t it, Lan Zhan?” He pats the side of Lan Wangji’s thigh encouragingly, gazing into his eyes with earnest. “And you deserve to want things, too. Your Wei-gege is proud of you.”

Warmth fills his chest as he gazes back at his husband. He preens beneath his loving gaze, pleased to have made him content. 

“You’ve been such a good boy for me tonight,” Wei Ying continues, tapping his fingers against his thigh. “It’s only fair I let you have your fun, huh?”

“Yes, Wei-gege,” he breathes, fully entranced.

“Alright,” Wei Ying agrees, rubbing his thumb over Lan Wangji’s thigh. Even this simple gesture makes his heart dance. “Watch me take your cock.”

He blushes again, still violently, and nods.

It takes some manoeuvring to get in the right positions. Lan Wangji is so strung up, so tense from anticipation and the unknown, he can’t quite move to get himself situated. And Wei Ying is so eager, so ready, he moves too fast. But somehow, they find their way to each other. They always find their way to each other.

He slicks up the cock with lubricant, moaning as the strap brushes against his clit again. He could likely come just from this, if he tried hard enough. He is already so far gone.

“Does it feel good?” Wei Ying asks him. “Is it making you wet?”

He nods.

“Good,” his husband whispers with a smile. “That’ll be nice for after.”

After. He can scarcely focus on now. 

He takes in a deep breath, steels himself, and aligns the cock with his husband’s hole. It seems so much wider than his fingers, now that he’s staring at it in relation to Wei Ying. How can it possibly fit? 

Has he demanded too much?

Wei Ying will surely let him know if he has. He has a word. And he wants Lan Wangji to do this to him, no matter how impossible. Is that not the Jiang motto?

With a deep breath, he slowly pushes himself inside his husband.

It’s everything all at once. Wei Ying, in spite of all his preparations, clenches at the intrusion, and pushes back against Lan Wangji’s cock, against the harness pressed against him. Both of them let out strangled noises that barely sound human, and Lan Wangji momentarily loses his breath. He’s trembling—all coiled up and ready to spring.

“Fuck—Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying gasps, spreading his legs wider. He lets out another cry as he nudges the cock further inside him by shifting his hips. “Keep going.”

Lan Wangji grips onto his husband’s hips, steadying them to prevent further discomfort. “Does it not—hurt?”

His husband shakes his head eagerly. “Just… need to get used to it,” he says. “Come on.”

Bit by bit, Lan Wangji guides the thick, long cock inside his husband. With every advancement, Wei Ying relaxes. His limbs sink into the bed, his face goes slack. The tension in his body slowly eases with a moan every time Lan Wangji takes him deeper. He didn’t think it was possible for Wei Ying to bear it, but here he is, calmly lying on the mattress with a much too large cock inching further inside him.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying gasps, opening his legs even wider, as though to beg him to go further. But there is nowhere for Lan Wangji to go. He is completely inside his husband now. And Wei Ying looks divine like this—split open and flushed, sweat forming on his brow. Divine and desperate.

Is this what Wei Ying sees when he’s inside him? Does he feel the same burning fire as he looks down upon him? He must, surely. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be as unrelenting as he is. He wouldn’t crave to give it to him so much.

“How is it?” he asks, staring down at his husband’s closed eyes, at his smiling face.

“Good,” Wei Ying whispers with a laugh. “Very good. Need more.”

“Mn,” he agrees. “Shameless.”

He says it with no malice, teasing in his own way, and his husband lets out a breathy laugh. “You’re one to talk, Hanguang-Jun.”

“Perhaps,” he agrees.

Wei Ying’s smile spreads wider, moving his hips impatiently with a groan. “You know what I want you to do, Lan Zhan,” he says reproachfully. “Don’t deny me.”

“Never,” he whispers, centring himself with a deep breath. “Anything for Wei-gege.”

“Mn,” Wei Ying agrees with a smile. “That’s my good boy.”

The rush that pulses in his blood propels him onward. 

Fucking Wei Ying is not so different from when he rides his husband’s cock. The angle is somewhat strange, his movement just a little heavier—but ultimately, it is the same. He lifts his hips to pull back just a little, then snaps them forward to push inside, keeping his strokes shallow and quick. It is not enough to make him come, but it’s enough to make him impossibly wet—enough to make him lose whatever was left of his composure as the harness slides against him. 

“Harder, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying tells him with a moan. “I know you can do it.”

He nods, even as he trembles. He can and he will do it. 

He pulls back and drives himself in harder, enough Wei Ying squeezes his eyes even more closed at the impact, moaning long and low. Lan Wangji can barely keep himself from falling apart at the sound as he repeats the motion with this new pace.

With this new strength, what was once bearable is near-impossible. The frantic, harsh motions of the cock against his clit and Wei Ying’s sweet pleasure are absolutely tantalizing. He tenses as he attempts to contain himself, as he attempts to hold on for as long as he can. He clutches Wei Ying’s hips with bruising force, groaning when the strap rubs against him in just the right place. He cannot—he cannot

“Mm, harder,” Wei Ying encourages him, and Lan Wangji barely contains the sob building in his throat as he gives his husband what he wants.

It’s so much. Too much. He cannot possibly hold on. His heart races, his muscles clench and buzz, and he becomes painfully aware of his own limitations. 

“Wei-gege,” he begs, the words completely leaving him. He can barely feel himself anymore—he is so aroused, so tense. He needs something to ground him. “Wei-gege.

His husband opens his eyes, taking him in with a moan as the cock drives into him again.

“You want to come, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks him, somehow so gentle, given the circumstances.

Please,” he sobs, as the last shreds of his defences crumble around him.

Without so much as a breath, his husband’s legs tighten around his waist, and Wei Ying flips Lan Wangji onto his back. He immediately relaxes at the familiar feeling of his husband towering over him, of his hands taking hold of his wrists and pulling them over his head. 

“You’ve been so good,” Wei Ying murmurs, leaning in to kiss his cheek, “you deserve to come, my Lan Zhan.” He wraps his fingers around a strap of the harness, snapping it against his skin with a gentle tug. "But I’m going to keep using this, if you don’t mind.”

He nods. He wants Wei Ying to come, too. He likes when he’s useful to him.

“Is that a yes?”

“Yes,” he whispers, “Wei-gege.”

“Good boy.”

That’s all it takes to dissolve the rest of his restraint. He trembles beneath Wei Ying as his husband grinds against the wooden cock, pushing the strap against his clit with staggering force. He tastes the salt of his tears as he pulses against Wei Ying’s movements, as his husband drives his orgasm onward while chasing his own.

“There we go,” Wei Ying croons as he bounces himself on the cock. “My perfect husband. Do you feel better?”

He nods, groaning. The release is just enough to keep him from breaking as Wei Ying continues to stimulate him. He closes his eyes and lets himself drift as Wei Ying drives his pleasure onward beyond the point of feeling. He is simply a device, a toy for his husband’s amusement. Just as he wants.

Eventually, Wei Ying’s hold on his wrists loosens, his breaths become more erratic, his rhythm loses its beat. He lets out a low moan that breaks Lan Wangji anew, and the warmth of his come spills onto him. All over him. 

And it’s… over too fast. Wei Ying is getting up off of him too suddenly, murmuring praises he can’t fully hear over the sobs slowly building in his chest.

He wanted release, but not like this.

His husband kisses the tears on his face, stroking his hair and arms reassuringly. Vaguely, Lan Wangji feels him loosen the straps of the harness, feels the sudden cold in between his legs from where it was pressed against him. He shivers, clamping his thighs together.

Above him, his husband lets out an amused laugh. “Let’s warm that up, alright?” Wei Ying murmurs.

He nods feverishly, desperately, moaning when his husband’s hands pull his knees apart and his mouth descends on him.

Wei Ying wastes no time in burying his face deep. His nose brushes against his clit, his tongue works into his long-ignored pussy. Lan Wangji lets out a sob of relief as his tongue makes quick work of his arousal, lapping at it with stark efficiency.

“Good,” Wei Ying whispers against him, spreading open his folds to trace the outline of his cunt. “So good.”

He moans as his husband flicks his tongue inside, high from his praises and the events of the night. It doesn’t take long before he breaks apart a second time, and his orgasm floods him like a gentle wave. It is not quite as mind-numbing as the first, but still enough to render him speechless. Still enough to make him quiver, as Wei Ying sucks on his clit and drags on his climax for a beat too long. It’s too much, far too much, and Lan Wangji loves it. He loves how wild he feels as the tears overtake him.

“You’re perfect,” Wei Ying whispers, arms encircling him. “Did such a good job for your Wei-gege.”

He presses his face into his husband’s chest and sobs, comforted by his warmth and the strength of his arms. He did well for him. He made him happy. He did something he’d never considered before. The relief that all these statements are true drowns him.

“That’s right,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing the top of his head. “just feel it, and let it go. You did so beautifully, Lan Zhan. I’m so proud.”

He nuzzles against his husband’s chest, his own warm and pleased at his husband’s praises.

“I know new things can be difficult,” Wei Ying continues, “but you handled it so well. I enjoyed it very much. Did you?”

He nods, pressing himself tighter against his husband. His heartbeat is so steady compared to his own.

“Good,” Wei Ying murmurs warmly. “I’m so glad.”

When his heart has slowed, when he no longer feels quite so unmoored, Wei Ying lays him on the mattress and finds a cloth to clean him off. The cool water is a relief against his teased, overstimulated skin, and he sighs as Wei Ying takes a new cloth and presses it against his forehead.

“Now…” Wei Ying says, smoothing out his hair on the pillow. “Is there anything you want, Lan Zhan?”

The words do not come easily. He is half-asleep, wrung out. But he knows Wei Ying will understand. He knows Wei Ying will give him what he needs. He heaves himself up, just enough to rest his face on his husband’s thigh, and takes his soft cock in his mouth.

“Good choice,” Wei Ying murmurs, stroking his hair. “Stay there all you need, Lan Zhan.”

He closes his eyes and floats away, grounded by the familiar presence of his husband in his mouth, comforted by the feeling of his fingers against his scalp.


The rabbits scamper around the courtyard, and Lan Wangji watches them as he kneels on the ground, armed with their morning meal. A-Yuan sits beside him, waiting patiently for the rabbits to take notice of them and the greens they bear as offerings.

“Here,” Lan Wangji murmurs, offering him a piece of carrot. His son nibbles on it with his front teeth, as though he were a rabbit himself, and Lan Wangji smiles as he pats the top of his head.

“Baba,” A-Yuan says when he’s finished his carrot, patting his lap emphatically.

“Yes.”

A-Yuan narrows his eyes with determination, and reaches over to pat Lan Wangji’s stomach with a gentle hand. “Was I that small once?”

He covers A-Yuan’s hand with his own. It is still so small. The baby’s will be even smaller. He cannot even begin to imagine. “Yes.”

“With you?”

“No.” 

Lan Wangji squeezes his hand gently, smooths his hair with his palm. In all their time together, A-Yuan has never asked much about his birth parents, and Lan Wangji has not known how to address the subject. If he is content with himself and Wei Ying, why mention the ghosts of the past? Why not wait until the moment presented itself?

“A-Yuan had other parents,” he explains.

“Xian-gege?”

“Before him.”

A-Yuan frowns, his nose scrunching up as he wracks his brain for a reminder, for the past that may never return from his feverish brain. “I don’t remember.”

“I know. It’s alright.” 

He runs his fingers through his hair, his heart. He never wanted A-Yuan to think he’d never had another family besides the Lan. But he is still so young, and Lan Wangji does not want to dilute the events of the past. He cannot ignore the crimes his natal sect committed, even if A-Yuan came from a peaceful branch.

If only he knew more of his parents—more than just the fact they existed. Even their names are lost to him.

“When Xian-gege took care of you,” he tells him, smoothing his hand over A-Yuan’s brow, “you had lost your parents.”

“And then you took care of me.”

“Yes.”

A-Yuan nods slowly, taking the words in. He tips his head upwards to meet Lan Wangji’s gaze. “And when the baby comes?”

“We will take care of you both,” he assures him, scooping him up into his arms to hold him tightly. “A-Yuan is my child, too. You understand?”

“Yes, Baba,” A-Yuan murmurs, reaching beneath his hair to touch an end of his ribbon, as though reminding them both how true it is. “Will the baby have one?”

“Why not?” Wei Ying says from behind them. “I want all my children to be as serious as your Baba, telling me all the little rules I’m breaking.”

Lan Wangji turns to his husband, lounging against a pillar. He has just come back from the fields, his face warm and shining with sweat, the sleeves of his robes pushed up past his elbows.

“That is unnecessary,” Lan Wangji says with a smile, “we are not in Gusu.”

“No,” Wei Ying agrees, ambling towards them. He minds the rabbits, now finally interested in the plate in front of Lan Wangji, and carefully kneels beside him and A-Yuan without disturbing them. “But I think our children should know where you came from. Where they come from.”

He cannot deny he would like that. That he would like to give his children pieces of his past, and teach them lessons beyond what he learned at Cloud Recesses. How to be just, how to be good—how to know when to adhere to expectations, and when to defy them. But he does not want his children to only know of his past. Wei Ying deserves to be known by them, too.

“And what about you?”

“Me?” Wei Ying exclaims with a small laugh. “Ah—they don’t need to know anything about me.” He flashes Lan Wangji a wink, grinning. “I’m just some poor farmer who took a shine to the Second Jade of Lan—and stole him away.” 

He is well aware they will need to be selective of what they share with their children. How can Lan Wangji look them in the face and explain their father was once the most feared in the entire cultivation world? That he once killed and caused destruction? Even if Lan Wangji has made peace with it, even if he recognizes not all the blame falls solely on his husband, how can they explain that to their children?

But there are other parts of Wei Ying they could share. The traditions from Lotus Pier he adopted, the Jiang values he still adheres to. The parents he once lost. Not all of his husband is forbidden. Not all of him deserves to be buried.

“We can talk about it another time,” his husband says with a smile, patting his shoulder . “Just worry about our little Lan for now.”

“Wei,” Lan Wangji corrects him.

His husband raises an eyebrow in confusion.

“They should have the surname Wei,” Lan Wangji elaborates.

Wei Ying laughs softly, shaking his head in disbelief. “Lan Zhan,” he chides, puling at the loose end of his forehead ribbon, “—you bear the child, you go through that trouble, they take your name. Simple as that.”

“That is not what I want.”

Wei Ying falls silent, his lips parting in shock. His eyes widen as he lets out a small hum in the back of his throat, all words seemingly gone from him.

“We can talk about it another time,” Lan Wangji murmurs. “But that is what I want.”

His husband laughs as Lan Wangji uses his own words against him.

“Well,” he says with a smile, “how can I ever deny my husband?"

Chapter Text

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?”

“Yes.”

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.

“You don’t—”

“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.”

He nods.

“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.”

“How?”

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?”

“Mn.”

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.”

“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!”

“Mn.”

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.”

“Ridiculous.”

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.

Chapter Text

“Baba, it tickles,” A-Yuan exclaims as the tailor slips her measuring rope underneath his arms.

“Just a little longer,” Lan Wangji assures him, placing a comforting hand on the top of his head. “A-Yuan has been so good.”

He has been extraordinarily well-behaved, standing perfectly still as the tailor flits about him, remaining polite even as she pokes and prods at him. The last time they’d bought new robes for the boy, they’d purchased finished garments that were approximately the correct size. Lan Wangji had altered them himself once they’d arrived home. Similarly, in Gusu, he was given an older disciples’ robes, passed onto him and altered by an instructor. But when A-Yuan grew too big for his current garments, they’d both decided it was time to have a few made for him.

He has grown so tall in the months since he and Wei Ying left everything behind. Soon, he’ll be big enough to begin learning core exercises, to begin cultivating. Before they know it, they will be calling him by his courtesy name, and sending him to Gusu for the guest lectures. 

If the Lan will have him.

Of course, they will have him. His brother and uncle will always want him, even if the elders disapprove. Want them—even if the path he’s chosen may have disappointed them.

The mere thought of it pricks at his eyes. He knows he’s loved still by his sect. Knows he could have been punished much more severely for his actions against them. Knows what his uncle said to him that day do not reflect his true feelings. And still, he finds himself questioning. Wondering. It’s become his constant companion in recent days, as his pregnancy becomes more and more obvious.

He exhales slowly and waits for his emotion to pass.

“Lan Zhan—what do you think? Is green my colour?”

He glances away from A-Yuan and the tailor to find his husband pressing the end of a bolt of emerald fabric against his face. He widens his eyes mischievously, puffing out his cheeks in an exaggerated pout as Lan Wangji takes in the scene before him.

His feelings quickly ebb away, seeing his husband behaving in such an undignified manner. Wei Ying in turn giggles, self-satisfied, as though he could sense Lan Wangji’s threatening emotion. As though he’s content to have stilled it, even for a moment.

Perhaps he already knows everything he's feeling. He has become very inept at hiding his emotion as of late. It takes more than a quick breath or a flex of his muscle to keep some feelings at bay. The baby, in their efforts to grow, has left him fatigued and unable to regulate himself in the same ways.

“Put that away.”

Obediently, Wei Ying sets the bolt on the table from where he found it, smoothing out the disturbed edges with his palms. 

“Lan Zhan,” he pouts, “that’s no way to speak to your husband.”

His words do not sting as they used to, even when said in jest. Lan Wangji does not feel the shame that once riddled him. Instead, he softens his expression, reaching out to his husband.

“Wei Ying looks good in every colour.”

His husband smiles to himself, laughing at the bolts of fabric in front of him. With an amused tilt, he lifts his head once more.

“Every colour, you say,” he remarks, fingers dancing over the fabrics. “Even… this one?”

He points at a sapphire blue silk, shining and brilliant. It’s a little brighter than the typical Lan shades, but close enough for Lan Wangji to dream. To imagine another life, another time, where their youths weren’t so fraught with war. When their childhoods weren’tso harsh and unkind. Where they meet at the guest lectures and fall in love, and Wei Ying marries into his sect before too much time can pass. He’d wear fabrics like this, he thinks—darker blues, majestic and regal, pairing so excellently with Lan Wangji’s fairer shades. Looking so elegant when standing near his brother and uncle.

His brother, his uncle. 

He has tried not to think of them, to set them aside like his ever-complicated memories of Gusu, and once again they return to him today. For a while, he could keep those thoughts at bay. For a while, there were more pressing things. But since he and Wei Ying have begun to make sense of their pasts together, since the baby’s arrival comes closer every day, it becomes more and more difficult to set aside the fact that his child will come into this world in mere months and his family has absolutely no knowledge of them. 

There are so many traditions, so many things they will miss. And while the fear of Wei Ying’s safety still hangs above him, the grief of his immediate family missing so much does too. Both feelings are difficult to wrestle with, to find peace within. He does not know what to do… how to reconcile them.

The tide rises within him once again, crushing at his lungs, constricting in his throat. He takes in a deep breath, but it’s not enough. How could it be enough?

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs. His hands are on his shoulders now—somehow moving without Lan Wangji noticing. “Enough of that one,” he decides firmly, one hand drifting to rest possessively against his stomach. The other moves to the small of his back. His husband’s surrounding touch grounds him, forces him back to the moment. “What about this? Look.”

He forces himself to follow Wei Ying’s hand, which briefly moves from his back to a bolt of fabric, so bright and yellow, it’s nearly garish. It would certainly look appealing on someone, but he has a difficult time envisioning Wei Ying in it. His husband is more pleasing in deeper colours, richer shades.

Wei Ying laughs at whatever face he is making, pinching his cheek as he frowns.

“I agree, my good husband,” Wei Ying says. “Yellow is not my colour. You might be able to do it, though.” He hums thoughtfully, glancing between Lan Wangji and the bolt of fabric. “A true Hanguang-Jun, all decked out like the sun!”

He glares at his husband, the tension in his throat easing with every moment. Wei Ying grins, kisses his cheek, long and emphatic, and guides him back towards the tailor finishing her measurements.

“Maybe we can buy something sweet on our way home,” Wei Ying says, taking A-Yuan’s hand. “What do you say, Lan Zhan?”

“Does it matter what my opinion is?” he questions his husband, smiling as he laughs.

“It does,” Wei Ying insists, placing his free hand on the small of Lan Wangji’s back, guiding him out of the shop and onto the street. “But… I may not listen to it.”

He huffs in amusement, earning another grin from his husband.

“I think,” Wei Ying says, “we should—”

He stops abruptly, frowning up at the sky. 

“Did you feel that?” Wei Ying asks. “I thought I felt—”

A clap of thunder drowns out his husband’s voice, and Wei Ying quickly pulls them into a side street to find shelter from the oncoming storm.


The rain pelts onto the pavement, echoing into Lan Wangji’s ears through the open window. A light spray dusts his face, but he pays it no mind. If anything, it cools his achingly hot skin. With the increased humidity from the storm, the heat of summer, and the baby’s persistence to make their presence known, he finds relief in the strangest of places.

“Lan Zhan,” his husband says, piling more fish into his bowl, “have a little more.”

“No more than three bowls,” he reminds him, placing a hand on his wrist to still him. He has certainly not been observing that particular principle since the baby’s growth, but nothing amuses Wei Ying more than being scolded.

His husband gives him a fond glare, shaking off his hand with a wave. “You’re eating for two, Lan Zhan,” he reminds him, throwing more in for good measure. “I think the baby should also get three bowls. It’s only fair.”

He scowls, pretending to consider his husband’s logic. His heart warms when Wei Ying laughs and his pregnant belly a gentle tap.

“Don’t you think you deserve three bowls, little rabbit?” Wei Ying asks, leaning down to address them directly.

Within him, the baby stirs, as they always do when Wei Ying acknowledges them. They have become more insistent in their movements, the bigger they get. But still, Wei Ying has not been able to feel them. The physician told him it would take time for the baby to move enough for Wei Ying to experience it, especially as it’s his first pregnancy, but he’s fears he’s grown quite impatient. It’s been more than six months since their child was first conceived. He wants his husband to feel them.

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying prompts, piling vegetables into his bowl now. “Are you well?”

He blinks, rubs his stomach, and gives his husband a reassuring smile. Their child stirs once again when he smiles back. “I am.”

Wei Ying beams back at him and turns to place more chicken into A-Yuan’s bowl. It’s smothered in oyster sauce, vinegar, and garlic, its aroma pleasant, wafting towards Lan Wangji on the breeze from the open window. In the past, he’d often found the smell of meat dishes unappealing, but something about it now stirs… interest in Lan Wangji. Intrigue, even. He’s never eaten meat before, even when traveling outside of Cloud Recesses—even at other cultivation conferences and events. He’d never felt a strong desire to reach towards the dishes laid out in front of them and give them a taste, as his brother did now and again. He was perfectly content to remain following the Lan practices, even those only specific to Cloud Recesses, wherever he went.

Now, he watches Wei Ying break the chicken into smaller pieces—the meat separating so easily, giving way and falling apart as his husband presses against it with the side of his chopstick. Steam rises into the air, filling the small space between them, and Lan Wangji breathes it in slowly, letting the scents permeate in his mouth, letting his mind imagine how it would taste.

His mouth waters.

He would like… to try…

Wei Ying serves himself a different chicken dish, more red than brown, heavily spiced and scented. It’s a cacophony of scents Lan Wangji cannot recognize, far too strong for his usual tastes, and yet… he still breathes it in. Still tries to imagine how it would feel against his tongue. If he would be able to stand it.

If Wei Ying enjoys it, it can’t be so bad. Just different.

“Lan Zhan?”

His eyes snap up to Wei Ying’s, gazing at him with concern, then flickering down to the bowl still resting in his palm, untouched.

“Is there something wrong with the food?” he asks, leaning in. “Is it cold? I can order another!”

Lan Wangji shakes his head, lips twitching into a small smile. “It is fine. I am just… distracted,” he explains, and lifts a piece of fish to his mouth. It’s very good, steamed and bathed in ginger, scallion, and soy. As flavourful as he imagines the chicken dishes must be—in a different way, of course. 

And yet within him, the child stirs impatiently, as though bored with more of the same flavours. As though craving something more. Lan Wangji rests a reproachful hand on his middle as the child fusses about.

He breathes deeply, tapping fingers against his round, taut stomach.

Behave, he thinks to himself. Were they alone, he would whisper it. He would caress his middle and hum soft comforts until the baby eased their movements. But for now, he doesn’t wish to worry his husband. Hess already been so diligent and so concerned since Lan Wangji’s pregnancy has become more obvious.

He picks at the fish in his bowl and takes a small bite. It’s certainly the most exciting meal he’s been able to stomach all week. Until today, he has awoken with an unsettled stomach every morning, bile barely kept at bay. The two of them have eaten much plain congee and drunk an ocean’s worth of ginger tea. They have tasted meals upon meals of bland vegetables, plain tofu, and too-soft rice—and clearly their baby has grown tired of it. Lan Wangji has also grown tired of it himself, which is why this meal was, until moments before, ultimately satisfying. Now, he casts sideways glances at his husband’s chicken all over again, sniffing at its scent wafting towards him.

This discomfort will not be forever. His body will adjust again, and he will be able to taste a much more flavourful palate. The baby has simply grown quite a bit in the last few weeks, seemingly all at once, and his body has not had a chance to grow accustomed to it. What used to be a little, nearly invisible bump, has transformed into a round, plump thing. He is unsure when it exactly became so noticeable. One day, his everyday robes fit, and the next he couldn’t extend them any longer.

Today, he’s wearing a midnight blue pregnancy robe, made of loose, light fabric that breathes overtop endless seas of red inner robes. They are Wei Ying’s colours, but they have become his. He can’t see himself in anything less now.

Wei Ying catches his eyes on his bowl once again, and frowns.

“Is something wrong, Lan Zhan?”

“How is it?” he asks instead of answering. There is nothing objectively wrong, after all. He’s merely… increasingly intrigued by the food in Wei Ying’s bowl. The baby, now so much bigger, could likely use the extra protein. It’s a worthy sacrifice to make.

His mouth waters again. If he were to simply reach for Wei Ying’s bowl, would his husband think he’d lost his mind? 

Wei Ying knits his brows together in confusion—at the question, at the lack of an answer—and glances back at the food. “Oh, it’s good,” he says distractedly. “It reminds me a little of Yunmeng. The spices, I mean—it’s similar. Not the same, though, but… close.”

“Is that good?”

Wei Ying smiles, his lips pushed upwards with the smallest of laughs. “It is good, Lan Zhan,” he assures him. “There is much I do not miss… but the food… sometimes I do.”

“Mn.”

He will have to inquire about the spices before they leave. Perhaps he can attempt to recreate a similar blend at home. To bring Wei Ying quiet reminders of the life he had, the pieces he misses. To build a home with him out of these fragments is all he ever wishes to do.

“May I…” 

Wei Ying freezes, mouth mid-chew, eyes widening. “May you—”

“Try.” He nods towards Wei Ying’s bowl, and gestures at it with his free hand.

His husband pulls his bowl towards him, hunching over it, as though he were protecting it. “Lan Zhan! Are you sure you’re well?”

At this point, he is not.

“The baby would like it,” he says instead.

“The baby,” Wei Ying repeats with an amused smirk. “Have you two been having telepathic conversations? Without telling me? Lan Zhan!”

He shakes his head. “I just… know.”

His husband huffs out a laugh. “You know. Lan Zhan—you’ve never eaten meat before! Not even a little! And spices?”  He gives Lan Wangji’s forehead ribbon a teasing tap, right at the centre of the Lan pattern. “Husband of mine, even if the baby really wanted it, I don’t think it’d agree with your stomach. There’s no need to get your body all upset.”

He sighs and glances at his own bowl. His husband is likely correct. Even if he craves this food he has never eaten, the fact he has never eaten it could upset him even more than his current pregnancy symptoms. 

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying laughs. He bends forward to give him a swift kiss. “Don’t pout. When we get home, I can make you something with meat in it. Nothing spicy… just herbs. Alright?”

He nods. It seems like a fair enough compromise. With resignation, he takes another bite of fish. The baby thumps against him even more aggressively, and Lan Wangji’s heartbeat quickens. Today, the baby has been far more active than usual. Is it possible…

He places a hand against his stomach and takes a sip of tea. Perhaps the baby will respond to that. Perhaps they will pound against his palm. Perhaps if Wei Ying were to lay a hand against his stomach, he would finally be able to feel them.

There is nothing, even as he takes another sip. The tea is jasmine. Perhaps that is different enough to satisfy this little one.

“Maybe it’s better we stay the night,” Wei Ying suggests, glancing behind Lan Wangji at the open window. The rain is still beating down, just as aggressively as it was earlier. “It’ll take us longer to get back with the rain. And if you catch a cold…” He shrugs, and chews on his lower lip. “I know you’re very capable, Lan Zhan. I just—”

“We can stay,” Lan Wangji decides. It’s getting late, anyhow. He is tired, the rain is wild, and they have the money to spare. The sooner he can lie down, perhaps the better he will feel. This restlessness will pass, and he will no longer crave what he has never known.


He awakens to midnight pooling into their room, his face dripping in sweat. Wei Ying is sprawled onto the mattress beside him, having rolled over from his embrace sometime in the night. Even though he is not touching Lan Wangji, the heat radiating from his body still cuts through his thin inner robe. And still, he’s not close enough. He could never be close enough, but now especially he is too far away. There are too many layers separating them. Too many actions left undone.

The baby stirs restlessly as his own mounts. Neither of them can be satisfied, it seems.

Lan Wangji sighs, gently pulling the covers away from himself. Caressing the baby, he wanders towards the closed window. The rain is no longer pelting against it, as it was when they first went to bed. There is barely any sound coming from beyond the walls at all. He chances to open the window, nearly doubling over in relief when a breeze blows against his too-warm face.

He pats his stomach chidingly, leaning his forehead against the window frame. Its cool surface relieves the mounting heat upon his forehead. He breathes slowly, letting the breeze seep through his sweat-dampened robes. Letting his hands wander over the ever-growing expanse of his stomach. 

He hums softly, barely audible, its message hopefully heard. 

Rest.

The baby turns, doing the exact opposite of the what the melody is meant to do—

And kicks.

And kicks.

And kicks against Lan Wangji’s hands.

His heart nearly stops beating.

It was faint, but strong. Unmistakable. He has never felt it before, and yet he is sure. His baby is saying hello.

“Hello,” he whispers back, his eyes stinging as he caresses his stomach once again. The baby kicked for him. The baby responded to his voice with more than a restless rustle. The baby heard his song and responded.

“Hello,” he whispers again, cradling his stomach. “I am here.”

He waits for more acknowledgement, for confirmation it wasn’t just by chance, but the baby goes still. Perhaps “Rest” truly worked.

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying calls out in a harsh whisper from their bed. Sheets rustle at an alarmingly fast rate, and Wei Ying lands on the floor with a soft thump. “Lan Zhan, where—”

“Here,” he murmurs, unmoving. It is so much cooler here than in their bed—he does not want to go back just yet, even though Wei Ying is there. He wants to show Wei Ying his new discovery—if the baby will allow it. But he simply needs another moment. Another puff of breeze, another shudder, and he will be ready.

Soft footsteps pad around the privacy screen. Wei Ying lets out a soft laugh, sighing with a gentle hum. 

“My poor husband,” Wei Ying murmurs, resting his hands against Lan Wangji’s shoulders. He gives them a squeeze, humming again. “You’re sweating quite a bit. Are you alright, Lan Zhan?”

He nods, keeping his forehead against the window pane. “Just hot.”

“Ah,” Wei Ying sighs, squeezing his shoulders again. “They did warn us about that. The baby just seemed so well-behaved until recently.”

“Mn,” he agrees. “They are rebelling.”

His husband laughs softly, rubbing his arms. “I suppose we should’ve known,” he murmurs, “they have me as a father.”

Lan Wangji hums in approval. “I am glad.”

Wei Ying lets out a soft giggle, rubbing his arms more firmly. “Of course you are.”

He doesn’t answer his husband, rubbing his stomach once again. Wordlessly encouraging the child to kick. To let Wei Ying feel them.

“They are very… active,” he says. The news curls within him, begging to be said, but Lan Wangji keeps it. He does not want to get Wei Ying’s hopes up. To watch him wait with bright eyes for the sign of their child acknowledging him—and for nothing to happen. It would be better to wait until it happens again.

“Are they?” Wei Ying sighs. He lowers his hands, snaking them around Lan Wangji’s middle, resting them on the crest of his bump. “‘Let me out, Baba,’” he murmurs, pitching his voice high to poorly imitate that of a child’s. “‘Let me out!’”

Lan Wangji huffs out a laugh as Wei Ying rubs his stomach, resting his chest against Lan Wangji’s back. Reflexively, he relaxes into his husband’s chest, rolling his head back into his shoulder.

“Our little rabbit will need to wait a little longer,” Wei Ying whispers. “As much as I would love to meet them now—I think they need more time.”

“Mn,” he agrees, letting his husband cradle him. His hands are so gentle as they support him, his arms so strong. When the baby is born, he will be so good to them.

“They kicked,” he admits.

It turns out, there is very little he can keep from his husband. Very little he wishes to keep from him. His heartbeat quickens as Wei Ying lets in a sharp breath, his grip on Lan Wangji tightening. 

“They did?” His voice still a whisper, but pitches high with excitement.

“Yes.”

His husband presses his lips against his shoulder, sighing deeply. If he could see his face, he surely would be smiling. “Ah, little one,” he whispers, rubbing Lan Wangji’s belly, “promise to be good for your baba."

The baby stirs within him, encouraged by the sound of Wei Ying’s voice, but their movements are less distinct. Less present. They do not seem to make any kind of movement his husband can detect.

“They’re moving,” Lan Wangji tells him, “but only a little.”

“Of course,” Wei Ying murmurs with a laugh, “our little rabbit’s a free spirit. They won’t move when we want them to.”

“Yes,” he agrees, “like Wei Ying.”

His husband lets in another sharp breath, burying his face into his dampened robe. A laugh becomes a sob, then a laugh again. “Lan Zhan…”

“It is true,” he protests.

“If you say so, Lan Zhan.”

“I do,” he insists, relaxing more into his husband’s embrace, in spite of the warmth bleeding into him. Being near Wei Ying always makes him feel better, even as the sweat begins to gather upon his brow.

“Come on,” Wei Ying murmurs, picking at the fabric of his inner robe. “You’ll catch a cold if you stay in these robes.”

“There are no others,” Lan Wangji reminds him, as he allows himself to be led towards the privacy screen in front of their bed. His outer robes need to be presentable for the journey home, and the middle layers are too thick to be comfortable for sleep.

“We can share,” Wei Ying suggests, peeling the robe off Lan Wangji’s shoulders. “On the off-chance A-Yuan comes to wake us.”

It seems unlikely, given how well he sleeps on his own now. But they are not home, and given that it is the first night in months that A-Yuan has slept in a different bed, it seems prudent to remain relatively covered.

The fabric parts from his skin slowly as Wei Ying drags it away, and Lan Wangji shudders when the cool air makes contact with his damp skin. The robe makes a heavy sound as it falls to the floor, weighed down by his sweat. Wei Ying unties his trousers, letting them drop to the floor with an equally heavy thump.

“There we are,” Wei Ying says, heaving the articles up into his arms. “Just go sit on the bed. I’ll clean you up.”

He’s not in the mood to protest, even though he’s perfectly capable of washing himself. It’s too late, he's too hot, and his skin thrums for his husband’s touch. For any touch. The ache burns within him, becoming more apparent as the thought surfaces and sinks into his skin. As he allows himself to think it. Now is not the time, not the place, but the want still swirls within him. Still pushes and pushes. He parts his legs unconsciously, and quickly clamps them shut once more as his husband spreads the robes across the privacy screen to dry them. 

“Fidgety,” Wei Ying comments. 

He picks up the shallow washbasin and carefully brings it to the bed. Every step is slow and measured, testing the weight of every muscle before moving the next. It’s mesmerizing, watching the minuscule movements of his legs and arm muscles as he crosses the distance. Lan Wangji cannot help but stare.

Wei Ying laughs softly, setting the washbasin on the floor. “What’re you looking at?” he teases, settling onto his knees. Leaning into him.

Lan Wangji’s body betrays him, pulsing at this familiar position, at what it generally signifies. He breathes to steady himself, pushing his knees even closer together than they already are. 

Wei Ying laughs once more, as though he can sense his thoughts, and dips a cloth into the water. He squeezes out the excess, the elegant veins upon the back of his hand flexing. Lan Wangji forces his eyes upwards to the ceiling to keep all inappropriate thoughts at bay. He focuses on the coolness of the cloth pressed against his calves, on the pattern of the tiles upon the ceiling. Feels the cold cloth wrap around his ankles and brush against his knees.

Palms move to rest upon them, nudging his legs apart to wash in between. His body fights to respond, to lean into him, encourage his lips to press against the warmest places. He tenses the muscle in his thighs, focuses on the squeeze of them beneath his skin as desire continues to flare in Lan Wangji’s gut. He bites his lips as Wei Ying presses the damp cloth against his inner thighs, dancing far too close to where he wants those hands. He closes his eyes to distract himself until Wei Ying’s hand rises, washing his stomach and the small of his back. When Wei Ying passes the cloth over his breasts, he fights to keep his posture perfectly straight, to not succumb to the urge to lean into the touch and demand more. 

“Almost done,” his husband assures him, his voice light and amused. Lan Wangji bites back the sigh of relief as he gathers his hair to one side of his shoulder so he can wash his shoulder blades and back of his neck. “So needy, aren’t you?”

He presses his lips against the side of his neck, his lips barely lingering, merely brushing against the sensitive skin. Teasing him.

“Wei Ying,” he warns, clenching his hands into fists.

His husband laughs softly, drawing away with widened eyes. “What? Can I not give my husband a kiss?”

He glares back. Clearly, Wei Ying is well aware of the fire crawling beneath his skin. Clearly, he wishes to test it.

Wei Ying smiles, his whole face coming alight, and Lan Wangji’s heart beats with fondness, betraying him. “Here,” he says, removing his own inner robe, “you wear this… sleep on the inside.”

He nods, letting his husband slip the robe over his shoulders. He can’t tie it properly, but it still covers most of his body. Enough for some semblance of modesty.

“Be good and wait, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs as they settle back into bed. His husband pulls away the blanket, on Lan Wangji’s side of the bed, folding it in half to double on his own. “You know your gege will give you what you need.”

“Yes,” he whispers. He can always rely on Wei Ying for that. Even if he makes him wait for it this one time.

“Try to sleep, my love,” Wei Ying says, pressing himself against Lan Wangji’s back. He kisses him on the cheek, on the back of his head, at the top of his spine—as though to make up for what contact they can’t have. Hands stroke his round belly, patting a gentle rhythm. Lulling him into sleep.

He is almost there with Wei Ying’s hand creeps up beyond his stomach to cup his breast, giving it a firm squeeze before he promptly dives away from him.

“Wei Ying,” he hisses, as the dormant sparks of arousal reawaken.

His husband merely giggles and rolls onto his other side, back facing him “Go to sleep, Lan Zhan.”

He sighs heavily, rolling onto his back into his most familiar sleeping position. His husband is absolutely cruel and a menace. And still, he loves him so.


In the morning, he rises somewhere close to dawn. His internal clock from his days of living in Cloud Recesses is gradually shifting. Between the pregnancy keeping him awake at all hours, and his husband’s sleeping patterns, he’s no longer as precise as he used to be. He still rises before Wei Ying, but not by much. Not anymore.

Still, he will have enough time for the task ahead of him. His husband will not wake just yet. He will descend to inquire with the innkeeper about the spices used in that dish, and he will buy them. When they return home, he will do his best to emulate what has been lost. He will give Wei Ying a small taste of home.

No.

Not home, exactly. That name does not belong to Yunmeng any longer. Home is here, now. Home is him.

Instead, he’ll give Wei Ying a taste of the past.


By the time Lan Wangji has finished grinding the spices into a fine powder, the rain is pelting on the rooftop. It’s just as loud as it was the night before, just as unrelenting with spray drifting in from the open window. Lan Wangji breathes in the cool air, revelling in the mist that brushes against his cheek.

It’s another day of unsettled stomachs and plain congee. Another day of heat and sweat gathering beneath his robes from the humid air. Another day of restless energy thrumming inside him, begging to be released. To be taken.

Wei Ying promised him.

It has only occurred to him now he did not ask when. Normally, he asks when. To give himself reassurance when he feels the desire too impossibly. To remind himself to be patient for his eventual relief.

Surely, his husband will take pity on him. He is pregnant, after all. And miserable. And tired. Wei Ying is always kind to him.

Lan Wangji sighs to himself as he grinds the spices with renewed vigour. Did his mother suffer similarly when he was growing within her? Was he as determined to make his presence known? There must still be parts of her he has not yet discovered. There must be pieces he can hold close, even now. Pieces hidden away in his brother’s memories.

He has half a mind to write to him and ask. But he shouldn’t. The loss of their mother hurt Lan Xichen too. He should not ask him to unbury something that could bring him pain. As much as he longs for answers, as much as he longs for connection. He can’t be the cause of his brother’s suffering.

He supposes he already has been that. In defending Wei Ying, in leaving the sect. What’s one more thing? One more slight against him? This pregnancy is one of the only ways he can find his mother now, and still she remains unreachable. Lan Xichen remains unreachable too.

A gentle breeze blows through the open window, and some stray powder wafts up to his face. It makes his nose itch, from the intensity of the blend, but after the initial burn, what’s left behind is… 

Pleasing.

Just as it was last night, smothering Wei Ying’s chicken.

He presses his finger into the powder, gathering a thin layer on the pad of his finger. Lifting it to his face, he sniffs again—deliberately, this time. Despite his lack of knowledge, it must be a good blend of spices. Otherwise, why would it smell appealing to him? He has never had the stomach for them, and has never felt particularly drawn to the dangerously red food his husband sometimes brings home from the market.

Perhaps, before, they were simply not the right spices. Perhaps these specific ones, in this specific configuration, are much more digestible. He will have to investigate.

Cautiously, he opens his mouth, breathes deeply to steel himself for whatever consequences he may face, sniffs the air one more time—

And feels warm lips clamp around his spice-coated finger.

“Hm,” Wei Ying hums, flicking his tongue along the pad of Lan Wangji’s finger, awakening barely-dormant desires from a night of waiting. The hot coal brand of desire pulses between his legs, threatening to make flame as Wei Ying drags his tongue along the length of his digit. 

Wei Ying moans softly, either from being pleased from the taste or simply aroused—or perhaps exaggerating as a way of teasing him. Lan Wangji cannot tell, nor does he care at this precise moment. It takes every ounce of restraint to take it, to remain still. To resist the urge to grab hold of his husband and drag him towards their bedroom. 

But that’s not the game they are playing. That’s not the part he must play.

Wei Ying gives his finger a final lick, drawing back to release it. As a small trail of spit connects his lips to the tip of Lan Wangji’s finger, he leans in and gives his fingernail a kiss.

“Well,” he says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, “that’s very good. Not too spicy, but nice. When’d you pick those up?”

Lan Wangji stares helplessly at his husband, now crossing the kitchen to inspect their evening meal on the stove, as though the past moments never happened. As though Lan Wangji’s finger is not still midair, helplessly coated in spit.

“Today?” Wei Ying guesses, eyes bright with mischief. “When I was sleeping? Lan Zhan!”

He lets his hand fall to his side. The breeze whispers against it.

“You remembered that dish reminded me of Yunmeng, didn’t you?”

He barely manages a nod.

“You asked the innkeeper about the spices.”

“Mn.”

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying sighs, rushing over to embrace him from behind. He kisses his cheek several times, emphatically, lips wet and hot. “What an excellent husband I have! So thoughtful.”

His husband’s praise encourages Lan Wangji to pull a smile from his lips, nuzzling his cheek against Wei Ying’s. Hands rest upon his belly, clasped together to hold the crest of it, and Lan Wangji leans into it. Here, in the stillness of the evening with the rain beating down a relentless rhythm, he feels the tension within himself give way. The fire once threatening to rage dims.

Until his husband takes the opportunity to bite his earlobe, dragging his teeth downwards with slow precision.

“Wei Ying,” he hisses as his husband’s teeth reawaken his skin.

“What?” Wei Ying challenges, reaching upwards to palm his chest. Even with layers of robes and the compression of his binder, the nerves in his breasts twist and tangle, demanding his husband’s attention. 

Unconsciously, he covers his husband’s hands with his palms, pressing them down, arching his own back to demand more friction. Demand touch.

“Ah,” Wei Ying chides, stepping away from Lan Wangji. Extracting his hands from Lan Wangji’s grasp, he wags a chiding finger at him. “You better behave, Lan Zhan! Otherwise…” He clicks his tongue reproachfully, sauntering over to the stove to inspect it once again. 

He suppresses a sigh, smoothing his robes beneath his palms. “Wei Ying…”

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying answers, his voice a song. The right corner of his mouth tips upward into a wicked smile. “Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean I’ll give you whatever you want.”

“Does it not?” he challenges.

His husband’s eyes widen with delight. Searing, hot pleasure tightens in Lan Wangji’s chest, reverberating in his ribs. He’s getting better a playing these games with him.

“Ha—I’ve only let you think that, Lan Zhan. But at the end of the day…” He raises his eyebrows, waggling them playfully. “I will have you on your knees Hanguang-Jun.”

The heat rushes to his face as his mind conjures up the possibilities. All the ways he could beg Wei Ying, could succumb to him. All the ways his husband could so lovingly torture him.

“Mark your words.”

Wei Ying’s laugh echo in the room long after he has left, and Lan Wangji loses himself in the familiar motions of preparing their dinner. The routine makes it easier to ignore his mounting need and the emptiness of being without. It’s both welcome and a curse to forget for a few moments.

He ladles out each dish into serving bowls, steam rising into his face. Sweat gathers beneath his layers, burrowing into his binder. He will likely have to go without it if the baby continues to grow and play with his internal temperature at this rate. Will likely have to shed several layers for the sake of comfort over modesty. Just the way his husband likes him.

He takes a small portion of fried noodles into a smaller bowl for Wei Ying, and adds a pinch of the spice blend. Swirling the noodles, he watches them adopt a deeper colour as the spice coats them. Considering how how spiced his husband tends to like his food when they eat elsewhere, he adds a little more, breathing in the changes in its aroma. The scent from the blend of herbs and sauce he’d prepared for himself and A-Yuan mingling with the Yunmeng-style spices makes his mouth water. Makes the baby kick restlessly.

He chances a glance behind him. He is completely alone.

Quickly, he gathers a bite of noodles and shoves it in his mouth. He presses them against his tongue, bracing himself for the initial shock. But there’s no clear indicator it’s too much, no sudden heat in his face or in his mouth. It’s just…

Different. 

Not bad.

Difficult to describe.

He chews thoughtfully, letting the mixture of flavours cling to his tongue. It doesn’t burn like he expected. It stings somewhat, and pulsates in his ears of all places, but not unpleasantly. He has become used to a good pain, after all. This is similar. Just… a pleasant sting that leaves behind… something… in the back of his throat. A pull for more. A need to be sated.

And most importantly, he doesn’t have to fight bile in his throat as he swallows. He doesn’t feel restless movement within.

Another bite would be prudent. To confirm his assessment.

“Lan Zhan, are you—”

Wei Ying’s words die away as Lan Wangji freezes, noodles hanging from his mouth, mid-bite. His husband’s eyes widen as Lan Wangji gulps it down, placing the bowl onto the counter guiltily. He will have to add more for Wei Ying. 

“Are you alright, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying demands, rushing for him. Anxious hands pat him down, concerned eyes surveying his face, darting all over the place. “Your ears are so red.”

“M’fine,” he huffs as the remaining noodles slide down his throat. “Tasted good.”

Wei Ying stares at the bowl, half-emptied, then back at Lan Wangji’s face, then back at the bowl. Cautiously, he picks up the chopsticks Lan Wangji had been using to test the dish for himself. He chews thoughtfully, forehead creasing as he assesses the situation. Lan Wangji’s mouth tingles, the lack of more spice emphasizing what came before. It’s more intense than it was when he had noodles to chew alongside it, but not so bad. Much different than he expected.

“It’s nice,” Wei Ying agrees, “not very spicy for me—but for you Lan Zhan? You’re not… suffering?”

He shakes his head, offering his husband a smile. “The baby likes it.”

The creases in Wei Ying’s forehead ease as his lips spread into a grin. “Do they now?”

“Mn.”

His husband giggles, kneeling to the floor to rest his face against Lan Wangji’s baby bump. “Do you like the spices, little rabbit?”

The baby rustles in Lan Wangji’s stomach, fluttering with happiness at the sound of his husband’s voice. At first, it seems that’s all they’ll do, when Lan Wangji feels a swift kick against his navel, strong and unmistakable.

Wei Ying startles glancing up at Lan Wangji. His mouth drops open in a hopeful half-smile as he lays his hands on Lan Wangji’s stomach.

“Did you just—”

The baby kicks again. 

Wei Ying stares at his hands splayed out on Lan Wangji’s stomach, eyes turning glassy. His shoulders shake as he leans into Lan Wangji once again, resting his cheek against the baby. Closing his eyes, he lets the tears fall, the ghost of a smile on his face. 

“Oh,” Wei Ying whispers, shuddering, “you’re perfect already.”

“They are,” Lan Wangji agrees, stroking his husband’s hair. “Wei Ying is their father.”

His husband laughs softly, reverberating against the baby. “And Lan Zhan is their other father,” Wei Ying reminds him. “How could they not be perfect?”

His heart glows as Wei Ying holds onto him. As A-Yuan comes running into the room, looking for dinner. As Wei Ying helps him place his small hands on Lan Wangji’s stomach and wait to feel the baby’s kick. A-Yuan’s smile is so bright when the baby responds to Wei Ying’s voice again, eyes wide and eager for the future.

“When are they coming?” A-Yuan demands as Wei Ying fills his bowl.

“Not for a few more months, my dear,” Wei Ying tells him, pouting.

A-Yuan mirrors his husband’s face perfectly. “Why?”

“They are too small,” Lan Wangji tells him, smoothing his palm over A-Yuan’s forehead. “They need more time to grow.”

Their son stares down at his stomach, raising a skeptical eyebrow, “They seem big.”

“Aiyah!” Wei Ying exclaims, tickling A-Yuan’s side. “Are you calling your baba fat?”

“No!” A-Yuan giggles, helplessly swatting at Wei Ying’s fingers. “No—Xian-gege!” 

His husband relents, giving A-Yuan his bowl with a fond smile. “Your baba has never looked better.”

Lan Wangji meets his husband’s eyes with an appreciative smile, his heart so full of love he can barely take it. “But I am bigger,” he says to A-Yuan.

“Bigger,” Wei Ying agrees, grinning, “but better.”


The soft melody of Wei Ying’s dizi floats through the open door in their bedroom as Lan Wangji combs his hair. It’s soft, lilting, meandering through intriguing chord patterns and melodic progressions. Lan Wangji would be interested in writing it down, in attempting to analyze it, were he not in his current… predicament.

The persistent restlessness coursing through him has become more and more apparent as the day has worn on, and even more difficult to ignore as night approaches. Impatience riddles his every movement, pricking at his skin and wearing on what little patience he has left. He has become unaccustomed to going without. Unaccustomed to resistance. Every note Wei Ying plays pokes and jibes. Every lingering beat cuts, as though purposeful.

He’s certain it is not. And yet, he doesn’t feel the most reasonable at the moment. As he works out the knots in his hair, his mood darkens. His husband is not an unjust man, and still he finds himself growing more sullen at being ignored.

By the time Wei Ying has reappeared, closing the doors to their room behind him, his lips have dipped downwards into a petulant scowl. He attempts to reset his face, to appear impassive, but he’s no longer capable of shielding his emotions. Ever since Wei Ying reappeared, he’s been ripped open—unfurled seam by seam, the process so slow, he can’t begin to remember when it started. Only, now that it’s done, there’s no way to go back. No way to hide what was once so skillfully masked.

“Ah,” Wei Ying laughs, floating towards Lan Wangji. He sinks to the floor behind him, wrapping his arms around his middle, resting his head on his shoulder. Lan Wangji’s body instantly responds, sinking back into him, hopeful and waiting. “My poor husband. Did I take too long?”

He huffs out a breath instead of responding. At this point, he’s unsure what he would say.

“I’m sorry,” Wei Ying murmurs, laughing softly against his hair. “A-Yuan wanted another song. How could I ever resist that face?”

Even though he can’t see his husband’s face, the pout is unmistakable in his voice. Lan Wangji smiles.

“You could not.”

His husband’s grip around him tightens as he kisses his cheek once more. “Ah well,” he sighs, loosening his belt, “I’m here now. Just think… it’ll feel so good now that you’ve waited.”

“Mn,” he murmurs rolling his head back to rest it on his husband’s shoulder. Already, the relief of his husband’s touch is overwhelming. To finally be able to really feel him, without any other tasks or situations keeping them apart. To know this gnawing anticipation and discomfort will be sated. Just the two of them, finally together. He can’t begin to express how much he needs it.

Wei Ying loosens the tie of his outer robe, and pushes the panels open. His hands caress the trim on the collar, fingers tracing the patterns from the ribbon thoughtfully.

“Though…” he says slowly, “won’t it feel even better if you wait more?”

More? His heart sinks, low in his gut. How much more? Knowing Wei Ying, it could be minutes or days. He can’t live with that sort of uncertainty. Not after the past week, not after an unsatisfying last evening.

Were it any other day, any other time, he would want to wait. He would want to be good for Wei Ying, give him what he wants. But today and the night before has been too impossible. Too many feelings, too many new sensations. He feels too… raw to indulge in his husband’s teasing. Too…

“Never mind,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his cheek once again, his lips gentle. “I think you’ve waited enough, haven’t you?”

He exhales deeply as Wei Ying loosens his remaining layers. The breaths caught in his chest release easily. The tension he’d barely noticed knotting in his back fades away.

“Oh, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying sighs, unfastening his binder with quick hands. “You’ve been so patient for me. What will I do with you?”

Palms cup his breasts. Sensitive, aching skin relaxes to his husband’s touch. Fingers trace around his nipples. All familiar actions, and yet so different—every touch magnified from the too-long wait. Every nerve danceing from so much less. Perhaps it would have felt even better to wait a little longer. Perhaps such simple touches would take even more from him, would make him gasp deeper, make his pussy grow wetter. Make everything… more.

Another time. He doesn’t want to go back now, not that they’ve begun.

“Look at you,” his husband murmurs, rubbing his nipples with his thumb and forefinger. Lips graze the side of his neck, quick and fleeting as Wei Ying rubs and pinches. “How could I ever resist? I’d give you the whole world if I could.”

You have, he wants to say, but his husband twists just so, and the only sound that comes from his mouth is a pitiful moan. Wei Ying laughs softly, smoothing over his handiwork with his palms—both comforting and unsatisfying all at once. He wants to feel that sweet pain. Wants to be ripped open anew.

“Let’s get you on the bed,” Wei Ying suggests. “Alright?”

He nods, allowing his husband to help him stand. The loosened layers fall to the floor, left sprawled in a sea of dark blue and red as they make their way to the bed. Wei Ying ignores them in favour of helping Lan Wangji sit on the mattress, back against the wall, spread out for the taking.

His husband’s eyes are warm as he stares at him, sweeping over his changed body. Lingering on his round middle, on his swelling breasts. Heat pulsates, deep and low, as a slow grin spreads across Wei Ying’s face.

“Lan Zhan,” he sighs, curling up beside Lan Wangji on the bed, still clothed. He wraps his arms around him, crouching down to rest his head upon his middle. “How beautiful you are.” He presses an ear against his stomach with a content sigh, stroking the stretched skin with tenderness. “So big and strong and full.” He laughs to himself lifting his face to gaze up at him. “Is it bad I prefer you like this?”

The blood rushes in his ears as he shakes his head. He can’t deny he also prefers himself this way. A little vulnerable, a little unsteady, and so noticeably claimed. So noticeably Wei Ying’s.

“So pretty,” Wei Ying murmurs, brushing his fingers against his stomach, “all mine.”

“Yes,” he agrees, stroking his husband’s hair. Always Wei Ying’s. Always his to come home to, to care for. “Yours.”

His husband’s laugh is sweet and light as he lifts his face to lick his nipple, his tongue wet and hot, soothing the once-pinched skin, the once tense nerves. With a grin, Wei Ying’s mouth latches onto it. Teeth grab hold, lips mouth against skin, and Lan Wangji loses himself to finally being touched. His splintered nerves fuse and pulse as Wei Ying moans against his skin. His pussy softly contracts as his nipples are stimulated.

Wei Ying bites, harder than Lan Wangji is accustomed to, and not hard enough. Nothing feels like enough, after going without. He pushes his husband’s face into him, wraps him in his arms so fiercely, wordlessly beginning Wei Ying to give him everything. 

And he does. He always does.

Teeth grind flesh together, rubbing and scraping relentlessly as a hand reaches for his other side, mirroring the motion in some way. Nails sink into flesh, rubbing and pinching like his teeth. Fingers press into his nipple, swirling and encircling like his tongue. It burns in a similar fashion to his mouth, in some ways even more so. And Lan Wangji loves it. Loves the clear proof his husband is here with him, the evidence of his presence undeniable on his flesh. He will never tire of it, never want anything else.

When the pain outweighs the pleasure, when his moans build into sobs, his husband licks away the marks left behind, palm kneading into the tender flesh as a gentle apology.

“Missed you,” Wei Ying murmurs, resting his face in between his breasts. “Missed you like this.”

He hums in affirmation as he strokes his husband’s hair. He missed him this way, too. Missed how close they could be. This time to curl within one another, to leave behind all responsibilities and just be. He will never take it for granted again.

“Your heart’s beating so fast,” Wei Ying sighs, resting a hand against his hip. He taps out the rhythm of his heart, pulsing it through him until he becomes his own heartbeat. Ringing in his ears, echoing in his chest, tapping against his skin. “Do you really love me that much?”

“Yes,” he whispers, stroking his husband’s hair. “I do.”

He knows his husband knows this. Knows he will always believe. Only yhat sometimes, he just needs to hear it again. To be reassured nothing has changed. 

Nothing will ever change. Not for him.

“I love Wei Ying.”

Wei Ying. Not the feared Yiling Patriarch, not the disgraced Wei Wuxian of Yunmeng Jiang. Just his Wei Ying—the father of his children, the only one who knows his heart as though it were his own. The only one he will ever love in this way.

He leaves those feelings suspended in the silence, unvoiced but known, and his husband smiles back at him. Some things don’t need to be said to be understood. 

“My Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs, shifting to settle in between Lan Wangji’s legs. He laughs when Lan Wangji lets out a soft moan, pulsating with desire. “Ah… I love you so much. You know.”

He knows. Of course he does.

Raising an eyebrow, he brings three fingers to Lan Wangji’s mouth. His lips part instinctively, always anticipating his husband, always ready to make space for him inside. He relishes in the feeling of the salt of Wei Ying’s skin on his tongue, dragging it along the length of his strong, elegant fingers. They take more space in Lan Wangji’s mouth than they used to, when his husband was still underfed and waspish. Now, they fill him so well, stretching deeper to push against the back of his throat. He gags against the sudden motion, tears blurring his vision as Wei Ying lazily works his fingers and out. His cunt throbs with every stroke, aching to be touched. 

“Good,” Wei Ying murmurs, kissing his cheek as he pulls his fingers away. Lan Wangji shifts his hips, silently begging. He smiles as Lan Wangji attempts to repeat the gesture again, tracing the curve of his lips with painful, slow precision. “Kiss me?”

He meets his husband’s open mouth eagerly. Their tongues flick against one another, warm and wanting, and Wei Ying lowers his slicked fingers to the one place he wants them.

His cry catches in Wei Ying’s throat as fingers enter without preparation. All three burrow their way inside, burning in spite of the slick pooling between his legs. He’s tight, far too tight, barely stretched enough to fit Wei Ying. And still, he would not want it any other way. He has never wanted easy when it comes to loving his husband.

He breathes into his husband’s wanting mouth, slumping backwards as he slowly relaxes into it. As his body remembers the feel of him, shifting minutely with his Wei Ying’s subtle pushes. His thumb stretches to push against his clit, encircling it as his fingers slowly stretch him. Every push sparks against his folds—growing wetter the more he rubs and slides against him.

Wei Ying moans softly as he begins to pump into his cunt, crouching down for a better view himself. A slow grin spreads on his face as watches. Eyes shine bright as they blink rapidly. Lan Wangji knows that look so well—the small expressions that grow into the smile as a new idea forms.

His husband takes in a deep breath, exhaling slowly to form a a soft, cold stream against Lan Wangji’s slit. It’s barely there, barely felt against the warmth of his pussy—so small and yet so much. Such a tease of a touch, promising nothing.

“Wei Ying,” he moans as his husband blows on his clit, thumb never ceasing. He spreads his legs further apart, angling his hips to push his husband further inside.

“What?” Wei Ying asks, innocent as ever. “You don’t want my mouth?”

“I…” 

Wei Ying hooks his fingers inside Lan Wangji’s cunt, laughing when Lan Wangji’s thighs twitch from the new sensation. 

“What?” his husband asks. “Tell me, Lan Zhan.”

He shudders as Wei Ying slips a fourth finger inside him, gripping into him. Every thought in his mind slips and falls away as he pushes against his most sensitive place. Again, again—unrelenting. There is nothing he can say, nothing when his husband is so present.

“I know,” Wei Ying murmurs, patting his thigh with his free hand. “Just let your Wei-gege do the work, hm?”

He nods, rolling his head against the wall as Wei Ying leans into him to swirl his clever tongue against his clit. It’s just enough to push him over the edge, to bring forth the rolling wave of climax as his husband never relents, pushing against his pulsating muscles, drinking in his slick. His nerves fray and reassemble, losing all sense of time as Wei Ying coaxes him down the ledge of release and brings him back far too quickly. His vision blurs with tears when Wei Ying picks up his previous pace, sucking against Lan Wangji’s clit until he’s sobbing from overstimulation, until every nerve is too wrung to feel. 

Wei Ying sighs, slowly withdrawing. It’s both relieving and devastating to be without, to feel air where Wei Ying’s fingers used to be, to feel his pussy clench around nothing. Lan Wangji closes his eyes, breaths slow and shallow as his cunt weeps at the loss. And still, he is unsure he could take any more. Already, he is melting into the pillow, against the wall, the glow of orgasm washing over him.

Fabric rustles below him and Lan Wangji opens his eyes to watch his husband part his robes enough to free his cock, fingers dragging against his lips. Wei Ying moans as he grasps his cock, tongue laving over his slicked fingers. He works them in and out of his mouth as he pumps his cock in near-perfect synchronization. Lan Wangji can only stare in amazement as his fingers expertly work himself to completion, as his tongue washes away all traces of Lan Wangji’s pussy.

He leans into the spray of his husband’s seed, opening his mouth to catch whatever he can. Wei Ying laughs softly at his eagerness, shifting his stance to give him what he wants. The warmth spatters on his face and chest, some catching on his open mouth, on his tongue. He sinks into his husband’s taste, closing his eyes once again. Drifting away. 

Now, he is content. He has everything he could want.

His husband laughs once more, guiding him to lie down with strong, sure hands. “See?” he coos. “It felt so good after waiting, didn’t it?”

He nods numbly, accepting the warm lips that kiss his own. They taste of the two of them. A perfect harmony of bitter and sweet. 

“Felt good for me, too,” Wei Ying murmurs, patting his arms. “You have no idea how hard you are to resist, Lan Zhan. All the time, out there looking like that.” He giggles, kissing the corner of his mouth. “Always feels so good when I finally get to fuck you.”

He hums as Wei Ying kisses him again, his heart so full. As long as Wei Ying is satisfied, he’s happy. As long as he can give in return for all Wei Ying has given, he will be never be wanting.


Lan Wangji portions the chicken Wei Ying brought from town, sniffing at it cautiously. It’s been a week since his initial craving began, and while it’s lessened somewhat, lingering thoughts of what could be still tease his subconscious. He adds a little of the Yunmeng spice blend to a smaller bowl for himself and Wei Ying, watching it change the colour of the dish. The taste is becoming more familiar to him over the past week, the flavours seemingly pleasing to the baby. He hasn’t had nearly as many mornings of illness, hardly any afternoons nursing ginger tea while the rabbits do their best to comfort him.

“How is it coming along?” Wei Ying asks, A-Yuan trailing close behind. Their smallest fingers are hooked together as Wei Ying pulls him into the room. His heart nearly shatters at the sight of it. They’re so sweet together. They belong.

Even now, after months of this, he isn’t quite used to this. This dream he once mourned, finally alive.

“Ready,” he says, gulping down his emotions.

They gather around the table, Wei Ying chattering away about the state of their crops and the ever-changing growth in their flowerbeds. Lan Wangji fills A-Yuan’s bowl, his husband’s voice music amidst their silence. It’s only when he reaches for the mild chicken that A-Yuan touches his wrist, hesitant fingers curling over bone.

“Yes?” he asks, glancing down at A-Yuan.

“May I try the—the other one?”

Wei Ying raises an eyebrow, but doesn’t stop Lan Wangji from breaking up a piece of spiced chicken, gathering the smallest bit with his chopsticks.

“It is different from the food in Gusu,” he warns him. “It may burn.”

A-Yuan nods solemnly, hands folded perfectly in his lap. Even months after leaving Cloud Recesses, that remains the same. His posture is near-perfect, little hands joined together in wait.

They are both different from when they left, and still parts of them remain the same. He believes his family would find comfort in that. That even if Lan Wangji were now married to the evil Yiling Patriarch, he had not abandoned all of himself. Perhaps they would even come to understand Wei Ying was never truly evil, had never had any intentions of upending the cultivation world as he did. Had only ever wanted this sort of life with him, hidden away from everything that hurt them.

“Baba?”

He blinks, and offers A-Yuan the piece of chicken. The child chews it thoughtfully, his cheeks flushing as he politely chews and swallows it. When he finishes, he lifts a cup of water to his mouth and downs its contents, sighing in relief once he’s emptied it.

“What do you think, A-Yuan?” Wei Ying asks him, leaning in. “Would you like more?”

A-Yuan shakes his head, lip pouting as he does. “No, thank you.” 

His husband howls with laughter as the colour fades from A-Yuan’s cheeks, as Lan Wangji fills his bowl with mild meat and they eat in relative silence.

In their room, a new letter from his brother weighs heavily on his heart. There is only one reply he wishes to send. Only one thing that could make this paradise perfect.

It is only once they’ve eaten, once they’re seated in the courtyard with sleeping rabbits in their laps that he dares voice it.

“Wei Ying.”

His husband glances up, attention redirected from scratching in between the rabbit’s ears. “Yes, Lan Zhan?”

His heart does not accelerate as he forms the words. His nerves do not fray. Wei Ying’s anticipated response already rings in his ears, the smile already plays across his face.

“I would like to write to xiongzhang,” he says, “and see if he or shufu would come.”

Wei Ying’s lips turn up into a smile, teeth poking out beneath his lower lip. “Of course you would, Lan Zhan,” he says. “Will you tell them about…” He gestures vaguely to himself with a half-laugh.

“I am unsure,” he admits. 

It would be prudent to keep his message vague, should it be intercepted, but he also doesn’t wish to deceive his family at the same time. To entrap them into visiting under false pretences, only for them to find him incredibly pregnant with a husband they may disapprove of. But if he is too vague, it’s possible his brother or uncle wouldn’t both come—or even worse, they would decline due to sect matters. He doesn’t wish to risk them missing anything, not when they’ve missed so much.

There’s no way to approach this without risking something.

“Ah well,” Wei Ying sighs, patting his hair reassuringly. “You’ll find a way to say it all. If they don’t like that I’m…” He shrugs, and the laugh that comes from his lips is hollow. “I think, at least, they’ll be happy about the baby.”

“They will learn to be happy,” Lan Wangji assures him. “I will make sure of it.”

The next time Wei Ying laughs, he knows it’s real.

“I know you will, Lan Zhan,” he says. “You’ll always protect me, Lan-er-gege.”

“I will,” he promises.

Wei Ying’s smile is wide when he reaches over to pinch Lan Wangji’s cheeks.

Chapter Text

Wei Ying readjusts Lan Wangji’s outer robe once more. He’s lost count of just how many times he’s repeated the same action of pulling the loose, thick material tighter around his middle whenever it slides out of place.

“Wei Ying,” he sighs, grasping A-Yuan’s hand tighter. 

“There’s a chill in the air, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying mutters, smoothing the robe over his shoulders.

“It is fall.” 

A chill is to be expected, especially this late in the season. Even the more southerly places like Wuzhou still have seasons, though he had not noticed the change as much as he would in Gusu. The shift had been more gradual and subtle, but it seems the weather he associates with autumn has finally come to their corner of the world. 

He welcomes the chill. It is much preferred to the thick humidity that has left his robes plastered against his heat-soaked skin, and curled his hair into unruly tangles. He has suffered these long, warm months while pregnant long enough.

His husband, however,  has not been as enthused at the change in seasons. He’s been… anxious, to put it mildly. They still have weeks to go before Lan Wangji is meant to go into labour, but his husband has been jumping at every movement, every hesitation, every slight change in his behaviour—as though it will be the inciting incident in the baby’s arrival.

He has, admittedly, grown quite large. At his appointment this afternoon, the physician did suggest the possibility that her estimations were inaccurate. Considering he has an incredibly irregular cycle, considering how often they have sex, it’s entirely possible he’s been pregnant for longer than they thought. It’s entirely possible he could give birth at any moment.

He doubts it, but he still offers his husband what he hopes is a reassuring smile.

“Can’t have you catch a chill,” Wei Ying grumbles. “What if you catch cold and have to give birth all of a sudden?” His eyes widen with the possibility, grip tightening on the front of his robes. “What if you give birth today? She said you could be further along than we thought… and I haven’t even mentally prepared myself to hold a baby! What if I drop them?”

He raises a skeptical eyebrow at his husband. Perhaps he’s far more anxious than he realized. There is so much beyond their control, so much they can’t predict… he understands how stressful the situation must be. How difficult it is to be forced to a precipice, waiting helplessly. 

For himself, he feels oddly calm, but he supposes that’s a product of being pregnant. The “baby glow,” as the local aunties call it.

“You will not drop them,” he assures him, covering Wei Ying’s hand with his free one. He gives it a gentle squeeze. “Not your own child.”

“Ah, Lan Zhan, but what if I do?” Wei Ying demands, brows knit together. “What if I’m altogether horrible at fatherhood?”

“You are good with A-Yuan.”

“He was walking and running around when I took care of him! And he’s practically self-sufficient now! It’s different!”

“Wei Ying…” he sighs, searching for calm reassurances. He has never been good with those. “It will all be fine.”

His husband doesn’t answer, tightening his robe instead. “Aiyah… you shouldn’t be going out like this. There’s too many people.”

“It was your suggestion,” he reminds his husband gently. After their appointment, Wei Ying had suggested they walk about the shops before returning home. And the street is not incredibly crowded today, either. There are only a few vendors at their booths, and reasonable crowd of people inspecting their wares.“And exercise is good for the baby.”

“Yes, but—”

“Baba!” A-Yuan yells. 

Before he can react, A-Yuan has let go of Lan Wangji’s hand, running into the street.

Lan Wangji’s heart lurches, but he’s not as quick as he used to be. He reaches, but A-Yuan is already fast ahead of him, rounding a corner and disappearing from view.  

Wei Ying, however, is much more able, springing to action before Lan Wangji’s fear can overtake him. He turns the corner at an impressive pace, yelling his name as he goes. Lan Wangji follows him at his own speed—the slowest he’s ever been. His heart longs to race after them, to gather A-Yuan up in his arms and scold him for being so reckless. It isn’t like him to run off like that. Very little would tempt him nowadays.

“A-Yuan!” he hears Wei Ying scold as he approaches the corner. “You can’t run off like that. You know that.”

“But I thought I saw—”

“It doesn’t matter,” Wei Ying says sternly. As Lan Wangji turns the corner to approach them, he sees his husband grasping A-Yuan firmly in his arms. His eyes are wide, startled. The same panic Lan Wangji felt is echoed on his face. “Don’t scare your poor baba like that. Or me! My goodness, A-Yuan I—”

“Wei Ying,” he says. His husband immediately relaxes as Lan Wangji reaches them, laying a reassuring hand on his husband’s arm. A-Yuan stares up at him with wide, apologetic eyes, his lower lip trembling. “I know A-Yuan wouldn’t run off without reason,” he says gently, giving his cheek a reassuring pat, smoothing away a tear before it can fall. “but you did scare us both.”

A-Yuan nods miserably, his lower lip trembling. “I thought I saw bofu,” he whispers.

His heart sinks and soars in the same moment.

Lan Xichen. 

It… isn’t possible.

“You did?” 

His heart is dangerously close to hoping. He breathes deeply to contain it.

A-Yuan nods vigorously. “I thought so. He went that way.”

He points to the street across from them, practically empty save for a few townspeople chatting amongst themselves. It is possible A-Yuan saw someone tall among them—someone in blue, even. Someone with similar hair ornaments. But he could not be here. It’s… too unlikely.

He had written to his brother, months ago now, and invited him to come to him. He did not specify much in his message in case it was intercepted, kept the invitation brief. He told Lan Xichen that he and A-Yuan were well, and that they would like to see himself or his uncle if it was possible. The messenger delivering his letter would alert Lan Xichen of their location should he wish to know. And when the messenger had returned with a simple reply that both Lan Xichen and Lan Qiren could not leave Gusu at that time, he had expected that was the end of it.

In his heart, he knows his brother and uncle were likely very busy. Even in times of peace, there is much to manage in a large sect. There are many meetings to oversee and small treaties to negotiate. There could be myriad of reasons neither of them could be missed for the time it would take to come to him. 

And still, he could not help but wonder if they simply didn’t want to come. If they were making excuses.

“Well,” Wei Ying says after a moment of silence, “maybe it’s best we go home. It’s almost time to start dinner, anyway. How about it, Lan Zhan?”

He clears his throat, as though it could clear his mind of all thoughts, and nods. Regardless of what he wants, it’s likely better like this. If Lan Xichen were to visit, he would want to control the situation. He would want to arrange a meeting, alone, and break the news gently. Somehow find the words to explain all that had been left unsaid between them. Find the best way to frame Wei Ying without his brother’s judgement.

“I was thinking of doing a potato stir fry,” Wei Ying says, placing his hand on the small of Lan Wangji’s back as they turn the corner back towards the main street. “What do you think, Lan Zhan?”

“Sounds good,” he agrees, placing his hand on Wei Ying’s back in return. 

“What do you think, A-Yuan?”

“I want Baba’s food,” their son says resolutely, without hesitations.

Wei Ying bursts into laughter, throwing his head back with amusement. It comforts Lan Wangji to see him relax. 

“A-Yuan!” he cries out, bouncing him against his side. “Baba needs his rest now and again. How about I try to season it better? So it won’t be so—”

He lets out a small gasp, the words dying in his throat. The hand on Lan Wangji’s back tenses, as his feet freeze mid-step.

“Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji murmurs. Were it not for his lightness skill, he would have stumbled from his husband’s sudden halt. Turning his head, he follows his husband’s line of sight towards the middle of the street, where the crowds are thinner and the sunlight shines. Reflected against it is a flash of silver, a of a head. Broad shoulders on a tall frame. Blue in a shade so unmistakable.

His heart crashes in his chest, shuddering the breath of out his lungs.

Lan Xichen looks as he always does—tall and towering above nearly everyone within close proximity, hair adorned with his silver dragon headpiece. His robes are a dark blue for travel, with subtle repetitions of the Lan pattern throughout. Certainly not the most adorned of his clothing, but still unmistakable. Even in his most inconspicuous of garments, even within his attempts to appear understated, he shines so clearly among the townspeople. Even the richest cannot match him. Even the finest silks dull in comparison.

His brother’s eyes shine as he takes him in, the smallest of smiles forming at the corner of his lips. There is a softness in his expression Lan Wangji has not quite remembered. A kindness he has not necessarily forgotten, but has not allowed himself to recall. How much would it hurt to remember only to feel the knife of his resentment? Of his horror? 

He has missed his smile so terribly. His soul longs to return it. To finally return it.

Lan Xichen’s eyes flicker downwards, towards his large midsection, and fear slices through him once again. Surely, he will make the appropriate conclusions. And he will be…

He is unsure what he will be.

He had wanted to control this moment, to arrange it perfectly. Had wanted to receive some sort of correspondence that could plan for his arrival. Had wanted to sit Lan Xichen down, just the two of them and his impossibly large stomach, and explain in some way to lessen the blow.

But now, there is nothing he can do but step forward in front of his husband.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whispers. Though he can’t see him, Lan Wangji hears the tightness in his throat. Feels his unease emanating out of him.

Lan Wangji can’t actually defend his husband in this state—his movement is too delayed to be useful. All he can do is place his body and their unborn child between the two of them. All he can do is ignore how his heart sinks when Lan Xichen’s face falls.

His brother would never harm Wei Ying. Not here, like this, in these circumstances—but his heart overrules his mind. He won’t take any chances.

“Bofu!” A-Yuan exclaims, oblivious to either of their apprehension. 

It is enough to snap the three of them out of their current daze. Lan Xichen blinks, and quickly breathes in. He walks towards them, each step measured with one hand behind his back. He carries Shuoyue loosely, as he always does, hanging at his side in anticipation. Lan Wangji does not allow his eyes to fixate upon it, to imagine all the ways his brother could very easily draw it, and he would be near powerless to stop it. He still carries Bichen, on his back instead of at his side due to his large, protruding stomach, but he is unsure of his capabilities to draw it quickly enough.

But A-Yuan is here with them. His brother would not… not with him here, at least.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen says, bowing in greeting.

Lan Wangji steps backwards, back into Wei Ying’s embrace, and returns the greeting.

“Xiongzhang,” he says, lifting his eyes to his brother. “I am with child.”

As though it wasn’t completely obvious that he is. It is simply the only thing that comes to mind.

Lan Xichen breaks into a smile, the corners of his eyes creasing as his lips curve upwards. A true smile—not one fit for a sect leader exchanging pleasantries with people he doesn’t like. One that suggests he’s happy above all else, regardless of the current situation.

“Yes, I can see that,” Lan Xichen says, amused. “I am sorry I did not write ahead. I did not plan to come until a few days ago. I did not have a chance to send a message.”

“It is alright, xiongzhang,” Lan Wangji assures him, though his muscles tighten even further as he speaks. Lying is forbidden, a voice whispers in the back of his head. But is it truly lying when he is happy to see him, on some level?

Lan Xichen smiles, either ignoring his behaviour or being unable to recognize it. ”Are you well?”

“Yes.” Reflexively, his hand drifts to his pregnant stomach. Lan Xichen’s eyes follow the path of it as well, widening minutely in wonder. “We all are.”

Lan Xichen smile turns tight around the mouth and pivots to focus his attention on Wei Ying. His face remains calm and placid as ever, but Lan Wangji knows his brother well enough to see the tension in the corners of his mouth, the slight narrowing of his eyes. They are subtle tells, but there all the same. He is… apprehensive.

“Young Master Wei,” Lan Xichen says. “I… you are here.”

Wei Ying nods, his shoulders tensing. He flashes Lan Xichen a smile, too bright to be genuine, and lets out an uneasy laugh. 

“Zewu-Jun,” he says, bowing. “I am glad to see you are well.”

Lan Xichen nods, his smile deepening by a fraction. His eyes remain just as they were before, scrutinizing him.

“Bofu,” A-Yuan exclaims, straining against Wei Ying’s grip to reach out to his brother. Wei Ying glances at Lan Wangji, reluctant to let go. But surely, Lan Xichen would not do anything to him. Would not take him and run off. 

They are both too paranoid for their own good. Too on-edge to properly live in the moment. 

Lan Wangji offers his husband a small reassuring nod, and Wei Ying hands A-Yuan over to Lan Xichen with a tense smile. A-Yuan, oblivious to everything, throws his arms around Lan Xichen’s neck, embracing him deeply. 

Perhaps he made the right choice in writing to Lan Xichen. A-Yuan should not be made to go without because of his and Wei Ying’s decisions. After all, he was kept from Lan Wangji for most of the three years he was in seclusion. To deprive him of Lan Xichen in turn would be wrong.

“Bofu, can you come home with us?” A-Yuan demands.

Wei Ying casts Lan Wangji a sideways glance before stepping forward, face bright with a smile he often wore as a mask. “Yes,” he agrees, his voice too affectedly joyful to be true, “we should head home soon, anyway. A certain young master needs his nap.”

“No,” A-Yuan whines, shaking his head.

Lan Xichen smiles, free of all pretence. “I will be here when you awaken.” 

The entire walk home, Lan Wangji is grateful for A-Yuan’s presence. Without it, he’s unsure what he would say. How to say it. A-Yuan chatters away, informing Lan Xichen of any and every little thing they’ve done since leaving Cloud Recesses, filling what would have been uncomfortable silence with laughter. 

Lan Wangji squeezes Wei Ying’s hand, clammy, gripping his fingers tightly, hoping he can offer some reassurance. In spite of his own anxiety, he forces himself to remain calm and think rationally. To think of the assurances they’ve given each other in the weeks since he sent his initial message. That while Lan Xichen may not approve of the marriage, he will be happy about the baby. He will be happy about seeing A-Yuan again. He will not jeopardize their safety. He will want Lan Wangji to lead a peaceful life, even if that means living with Wei Ying. They are far away from the sects—far away from the politics of their former world. He can’t reasonably have any authority here. He can’t.

When they arrive home, Wei Ying takes A-Yuan from Lan Xichen’s arms, in spite of his protests amidst yawns. Wei Ying doesn’t yield, in spite of this, and carries A-Yuan to his room. Their voices, muffled behind the door, is the only sound in the quiet courtyard, long after they’ve departed. The wind is the only movement between them.

“There are rabbits,” he says, because it’s all he can think of saying. “Be careful when walking.”

Lan Xichen gives him an appreciative smile, exhaling sharply through his nose in place of a laugh. As he leads Lan Xichen into the kitchen, his shoulders relax somewhat, though the blades remain significantly taut. He removes Bichen from his back and sets it down beside the kitchen table. Unties his plain, thick outer robe and removes it too. Indoors, with the heat from the stove, it will be too warm. He folds it, placing it neatly beneath Bichen, and wordlessly prepares a fire to make tea.

Tea will be essential, after all. Sometimes, it’s the only way they can talk to one another. The only bridge in the valley between them.

His brother sits at the table, watching him silently as he works. Even with his back turned, he feels his brother’s eyes on him, burning holes into his skin. What does he see when he looks upon him? Does he see his plain robes, his unadorned head, and pity him? Does he judge Wei Ying for not providing those sorts of luxuries to him?

Even if they had the money, Lan Wangji would not want them.

When the tea is prepared, Lan Wangji is forced to face his brother. Lan Xichen stands as he finishes pouring the hot water over the leaves, reaching for the teapot before he can take it. 

“Xiongzhang,” he chides quietly, watching his brother set the pot on the table. “I am capable—”

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen says—soft, yet pleading. “Let me.”

He clamps his mouth shut and doesn’t protest when Lan Xichen grasps his arms and helps him sit at the table. Of course, Wei Ying has been doing this for him for weeks—even before he truly needed the help. But having this sort of act performed by his husband is different. 

He breathes slowly to calm himself. He can suffer a little humiliation if it reassures his brother. If he allows himself to be taken care of, after their months apart. After keeping something so monumental from him.

Lan Xichen takes a long breath, closing his eyes as he searches for the words.

“Wangji…”

He himself feels at a loss to speak as well. Even with the walk to formulate an explanation, the words do not come as he had hoped. They remain trapped beneath too many layers of emotions. Too many secret moments.

“I…” Lan Xichen falters. He shakes his head once more, smiling down at the table with resignation. Perhaps there isn’t anything that can be said.

“Xiongzhang,” Lan Wangji says, his throat achingly dry.  “I can explain.”

The corners of Lan Xichen’s mouth twitch. He lifts his eyes to meet Lan Wangji’s, the corners creasing once more. “Wangji, I understand,” he says, his voice ever smooth and calm. He exhales sharply, laughing to himself. “Is it strange I somehow knew he was here?”

His stomach turns. Had he really been so obvious?

“I knew,” Lan Xichen continues, pouring their tea, staring at the liquid flowing from the spout into the cup with determination, “he would be the only one who could ever move you to leave.”

There is no lie in Lan Xichen’s words, and yet they leave a bitter taste in his mouth—like a subtle accusation. Implying Wei Ying had persuaded Lan Wangji in coming with him, that he would not have made the choice himself. 

“He would have moved me to leave,” Lan Wangji says, meeting his brother’s gaze without blinking, “even if he were—”

Dead. 

Lan Xichen clears his throat and takes a sip of tea.

“I had considered,” Lan Wangji continues, leaving the word to hang between them, “in those years before… I had thought about going.”

“And you stayed.”

It isn’t a question, and yet it is. He had forgotten that this is how they used to speak to one another, especially during his seclusion. Never speaking plainly, skirting around one another, toeing around what they really mean to say. They have always been honest with each other, and yet there is too much kept for it to be true.

“I was… too weary to leave,” he says simply.

Lan Xichen’s shoulders dip downwards for a fraction, pained. He regains himself quickly, straightening his posture, relaxing his expression. His eyes lower back to his cup, forehead tensing. “So you did not know,” he concludes, “that he was alive.”

“No.”

His brothers sighs, taking another measured sip. “And he waited these years to come back for you.”

“It is not so simple.”

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen reproaches, “I know how much you suffered in that time.”

Again, his words sting like an accusation, benign as they would sound to another person. They smart against Lan Wangji’s skin, like a slap or a discipline blow. For once, he does not feel like he has warranted them. For the first time in many years, he wants to fight them. He wants to fight for his husband.

“He did not know that much time had passed,” Lan Wangji explains. “He said… he believed himself to be dead… and he awoke in the Burial Mounds and came to find me. He was surprised to hear it had been years.”

“And you believe it.”

“Yes.” 

Lan Xichen glances downwards, his silence deafening.

“Xiongzhang,” Lan Wangji pleads, fighting to keep his voice contained, “Wei Ying and I are zhiji. I trust him above all else. I do not believe he would lie to me. And he did not return to court me. He wanted—” 

His voice catches as he remembers that night Wei Ying returned to him, as he recalls how raw he’d felt in seeing him once again. How heartbroken he was to hear Wei Ying had spirited him away in the hopes Lan Wangji would kill him. To finally perform the justice he’d believed himself to have evaded. He had never intended on living beyond that night. Had never hoped for anything more than a swift death by Lan Wangji’s hand. And he could not do it. He could not give Wei Ying what he’d wanted. How could he ever?

“He wanted me to kill him,” he says finally, refusing to meet his brother’s eyes, to see whatever reaction will cross his face. “He believed it was for the best. Xiongzhang—how could I? How—” 

The words ensnare his throat, burning his eyes. His breaths push against his chest, but he forces himself to speak. He only has this chance to make all right.

I was the one who proposed marriage,” he says. “I was the one who chose to leave. I was the one who wanted children. He did not influence my decision. He wanted to be certain I was certain. How could I not be? I failed him before—I will never leave him again. I…”

His vision blurs as the baby kicks restlessly. They must feel his distress, too. He places his hands atop his pregnant stomach in an attempt to soothe them, his heartbeat stilling when they kick against his palm.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen murmurs. His hand appears in Lan Wangji’s vision, reaching for the cuff of his sleeve. “I understand.”

He blinks in surprise, darting his gaze back towards his brother. His face is much softer now, his eyes warm. 

“If Young Master Wei is your fated person—of course, you would do anything to be with him.” His voice is unbelievably soft, comforting him like when they were younger. “You know when it comes to our sect, there is only one with whom we can abandon our principles, And if he is that for you… then, it is sacred. I would not dare intervene.” He laughs softly to himself, shaking his head. “I would not intervene in any case,” he amends. “I was merely concerned you had been…” He shakes his head, pursing his lips, and leaves the words unsaid.

“I understand.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for Lan Xichen to see Lan Wangji, incredibly pregnant, standing beside Wei Ying, and make unsavoury conclusions. That Wei Ying had forced his hand through Lan Wangji’s pregnancy. That the reason Lan Wangji had been secretive about his location, about his current circumstances, because he was afraid. Because Wei Ying would not allow him to disclose it.

It would be wrong, of course, but Lan Wangji recalls how Wei Ying appeared the night he’d died. He was not himself then, capable of many horrors. With that being Lan Xichen’s last memory of him, of course such thoughts would come to him.

“And you are happy?” Lan Xichen asks.

He feels the smile before he makes the decision to. “Yes. I am very happy.”

Lan Xichen returns the smile, warm and gentle once more. “Then, I am content.”


The bath is cool, and still he feels as though he were burning.

It has been a long day, full of so many emotions. So much tension. Even after he and his brother reached an understanding, even after A-Yuan returned from his rest to show Lan Xichen around their home, even after Wei Ying prepared them dinner and gently objected to Lan Xichen’s compliments, Lan Wangji still feels… strange. Not quite himself. Distant. The world is too far away and too close all at once. He feels rough and soft and altogether impossible.

Wei Ying enters their bedroom with a sigh, closing the doors gently behind him.

“Aren’t I glad today’s over,” he declares with a soft laugh, his footsteps wandering aimlessly about the tiled floor. “Well… it was fine, but…”

“Mn.”

Lan Wangji closes his eyes, knowing the sound of Wei Ying’s trajectory without having to see it. He envisions how he circles the dressing table to free his hair from its ribbon, each step slowing as he untangles the snarls of his hair from its grasp. He listens as he walks a few more paces to remove his belt and outer robes, draping them over a dressing screen instead of properly storing them. Listens as he crouches down to remove his boots, sighing heavily from the strain on his muscle and joints from the position.

The hands upon his shoulders come as no surprise when their arrival is anticipated. Lan Wangji sinks into the familiar feeling, grateful to now have his husband to focus on.

“And how is my favourite husband?” Wei Ying asks, warm and loving. 

He wants to wrap himself inside his voice and never return to the world. He’s already spoken so much today—more than enough. All he wants now is to listen to his husband.

“Ah,” Wei Ying murmurs when he doesn’t respond. “I understand.”

“Mn,” he answers. Appreciation flows fast within him, relieved Wei Ying understands. He loves his husband so very much. Loves how well he knows him.

“Let yourself go for a while, alright?” Wei Ying suggests, taking the scrub brush from Lan Wangji’s idle hand. “I’ll take care of you. Tell you what to do, alright?”

“Please,” he whispers.

Wei Ying laughs to himself, lathering soap onto the brush. “You’ve been so strong,” he says. “So good—taking care of us all. Growing that baby inside you without even a whisper of complaint.”

That is not entirely true, but he lets his husband think it. He isn’t in a mood to argue over small details.

“I can’t wait to meet them,” Wei Ying murmurs, gently brushing his too-tight skin with the scrub brush. The gentle scrape feels so good, so real and grounding. He focuses on the sensation of the bristles moving in different directions as Wei Ying moves the brush all over his body. “I bet they’re coming soon. Just look at how big you’ve gotten.”

He nods, leaning his head against Wei Ying’s chest.

“I want to meet them so much,” Wei Ying murmurs. “It scares me sometimes. I don’t know if I can be good for them. I don’t even know how to hold a baby properly. But…” He laughs softly to himself, moving the brush in slow circles against Lan Wangji’s forearm. “I know you’ll help me, Lan Zhan. Won’t you?”

“Yes,” he whispers, turning his face to rub his cheek against his husband’s inner robe. It’s all he wants to do—raise their children together, grow together, never leave one another. This is only the beginning for them. They will have so much more in time.

“You make me want to be better, Lan Zhan,” his husband continues, focusing on his other arm. “Every day.”

And Wei Ying does the same for him. He would tell him if he weren’t so relaxed. If Wei Ying’s arms weren’t so warm.

Wei Ying laughs softly, watching Lan Wangji curl into him. He lets him rest in his embrace for a few moments before he pushes his shoulders forward, enough to silently suggest Lan Wangji lean in so he can wash his back.

“But I do love you like this…” he sighs, pouring water of his back. “You’re so beautiful, you know? All round and glowing. Wouldn’t mind if you stayed this way a little longer… But I also can’t wait. I can’t make up my mind.”

He laughs softly, scrubbing away at the dead skin on his back. Lan Wangji can’t help but smile with him, and lean into the pleasant scraping against old scar tissue. The salve Wei Ying applies to his back has been aiding in lessening the burden, but the discomfort has not entirely been erased. There are still days he feels the old ache, days it’s amplified by the changes in his body. Every day is a mystery as to how he’ll feel, but it seems as the baby takes up more space, the skin on his back feels especially dry and stretched. 

At least he has Wei Ying to soothe it.

He drifts pleasantly as Wei Ying finishes washing him and helps him step out of the tub. As his husband takes special care and attention to dry off every drop that weighs down his skin. He responds to the hand on the small of his back guiding him towards their bed, and perches himself on the mattress with a sigh.

Silently, Wei Ying applies the salve on his back, every stroke slow and precise. He traces scar patterns with fingers, massages particularly gnarled areas with steady thumbs, smooths out the more sensitive places with a light pass of his hand. When he’s finished applying the salve, he sinks the heels of his hands into particularly tense areas, encouraging Lan Wangji to lean against the pressure and find a small fraction of relief.

“So tense, er-gege,” Wei Ying murmurs, pushing into his shoulder blade. “It’s no wonder… But you were so brave for us, you know. I love you so much.”

He hums against his husband’s hands, too tired to respond. Wei Ying knows, anyway. There’s no need for words between them.

“How about we moisturize that belly?” Wei Ying murmurs, reaching for a pot of lotion kept nearby. It’s thinner than the salve for his back, more generic in its ingredients, but it always helps to soothe his dry skin. “Poor Baba,” he sighs, dipping his fingers into the pot, "all tired and dried out. What is our little rabbit doing to you?”

He smiles as his husband moves and readjusts his position, so he’s now kneeling in front of Lan Wangji on the mattress. Their baby can take whatever they need from him—he will never mind. He will embrace whatever changes they make, permanent or otherwise, and love them for what they represent. This is what he always wanted, ever since he was young—always wanted and thought he could never have. He will take every reminder.

“Oh,” Wei Ying laughs softly, smoothing the lotion over the side of his stomach, “I can see their little foot. It’s—”

He chokes on the word and shakes his head, smiling to himself. Lan Wangji glances down, but the angle makes it impossible for himself to see what Wei Ying is seeing. His belly has grown too big for him to know every detail. 

“I love them so much,” Wei Ying whispers, placing his hand over the imprint of the baby’s foot. The baby gives a rousing kick in response, making Wei Ying jump in surprise. “Yes,” he says, laughing. He leans in closer to kiss Lan Wangji’s stomach there, caressing it with reverence. “I’m talking about you, little one. A-Die loves you very much.”

Warmth fills him, listening to his husband speak to their child, enveloping him from toe to head. Whatever happens, they will be a family. They will love each other and find ways to remain as they are. He will do all that he can to provide for the three of them. To love the three of them.

His husband lathers the lotion all over his body, paying every part special care and attention. Thumbs trace lines of his veins in this wrists, fingers map out the stretch marks along his stomach and thighs, palms knead into his tender breasts. 

“Oh,” he whispers, feeling a strange sensation as his husband carefully applies the lotion to his nipples. It… doesn’t burn, exactly—it’s not even unpleasant, but it’s there, whatever it is.

“Oh, indeed,” Wei Ying murmurs, sitting up straighter. His eyes light with curiosity as he leans in to better inspect them. “I think your milk’s coming in, Lan Zhan.”

He glances down at his breasts, snapping from his daze to take in the situation himself. Grasping one with both hands, he tilts it upwards, ignoring the slight prickling sensation as he does. Sure enough, the area around his nipple is shining with a thin coat of liquid, pale yellow and near-translucent. He has been told this is normal, to have this happen now and again. His body will begin to prepare much earlier than when he will actually give birth. He just has never noticed it before. Seen it happen.

“I…” Wei Ying whispers, wiping away the excess with his thumb. He stares at it curiously, eyes dancing in the lamplight. He purses his lips, his cheeks darkening slightly from blush. “Can I… try?”

Heat flares at his husband’s proposal, his cunt practically shuddering with sudden violence. He never thought that would be something he would be interested in. Had never even considered it an option. But seeing the darkness flicker in his husband’s eyes fills him with new desire. To watch his husband explore this new part of him, to feel him in this way… he wants it. He wants it so much.

“Yes.”

Wei Ying smiles, lips spreading slowly to reveal his front teeth, eyes so bright they’re practically stars. Without breaking his gaze, he takes his thumb to his mouth and rests it on his tongue. Raising an eyebrow, he licks away the early milk, brow furrowing in contemplation.

“Doesn’t taste like much,” he admits with a laugh. “But I might just be tasting my hand.”

He laughs once again, eyelids crinkling with joy. Beneath it, Lan Wangji notes the curiosity that remains. The slight drag of his eyebrow, the quick blink. The hesitancy to ask for what he would freely give.

“Perhaps,” Lan Wangji says, his voice hoarse from disuse. He clears his throat before proceeding, “you need another taste.”

His husband’s brows angle upwards with delight, mouth twisting into a smirk before leaning in. Gently, he laves his tongue over his sensitive nipple, drawing small circles as he laps up every drop. It isn’t much, not yet, so he quickly switches to the other side, licking away what he can find. All the while, Lan Wangji’s skin burns, his breasts tingling as his husband transitions to gently suck on each nipple. It’s a familiar sensation now, the kind of want that builds whenever his husband stimulates his breasts. It seems his body is finished with new experiences.

Now that that stops his husband from thoroughly enjoying the process. He leaves tender bites along his flesh, mouthing against every inch of his breasts. Every motion, Lan Wangji feels in between his legs. He’s already so wet and wanting, he can feel it without being touched. 

His husband laughs to himself, straightening his posture to look Lan Wangji in the eye. “After a thorough inspection,” he informs him, teeth reflecting in the dim light, “I can conclude it really doesn’t taste like much. Maybe salty? A little?” He clears his throat, cheeks darkening once again. His lids flutter as another thought crosses his mind. “I will have to try again. Later… to compare.”

Heat ignites his skin once again. His inner folds quiver at the mere thought.

“Yes,” he agrees, taking hold of his husband’s hands to pull him closer. “You must.”

“I must,” Wei Ying repeats, giggling. He creeps closer, spreading himself to gently perch on Lan Wangji’s thighs, leaving a generous amount of space between himself and the baby bump. “If Hanguang-Jun commands, who am I to deny such a righteous man?”

He rolls his eyes, but cannot stop a smile when Wei Ying’s giggles build beyond sound. He loves when his husband’s joy envelops him so. When it becomes too much for noise to express. When all it is are their bodies together, and his arms wrapped gently around him.

“I’m so happy, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying murmurs once his laughter has faded. His cheek shine from tears, wiped hastily away with the back of his hand. “I never… it’s real.”

Emotion rears in his throat as he leans in to kiss his husband. It’s all so real, so impossible. So beyond what he imagined in his wildest dreams. In just a few short weeks, their baby will be here with them. Their little family will grow.

They remain still for a long while, holding each other, warmth radiating in the centre of their embrace. And slowly, Wei Ying shifts in Lan Wangji’s lap. Slowly, he lifts his face to feel cooler air. He presses his face against Lan Wangji’s neck, sending shivers down his spine when his breath dances along sensitive skin. 

When he finally lifts his face to kiss Lan Wangji, he practically moans at the taste of his lips. Waiting without realizing he was waiting for it, wanting it without realizing he was wanting it—Wei Ying’s lips on his are a homecoming. His heart stills from it, tasting the remnants of his early milk with the faint perfume of lotion. Tasting Wei Ying’s mouth beneath it all. 

He loves him so much, he could lose himself inside him.

“Lie down,” Wei Ying breathes, lips pulling away only enough to speak.

Heat reignites in his body, thrumming against his skin. With his husband’s help, he lays atop the mattress, rolling onto his side while Wei Ying undresses. He’s quick to join him again, fitting himself along the curve of Lan Wangji’s back. He drags his hand along Lan Wangji’s skin, from his inner thigh up to his breast, fingers stroking gently, memorizing each imperfection.

Reflexively, Lan Wangji leans against him, spreading his legs to invite him in. He hooks one leg with Wei Ying’s to angle his pelvis for better access, in spite of his husband’s amused laughter.

“What’s this?” Wei Ying murmurs, grip tightening on his breast, “does my husband want something?”

He exhales slowly, angling himself to press firmer against him. Of course, Wei Ying already knows what he wants. Knows how to make him ask for it.

“Tell me what you want, Lan Zhan,” his husband says, voice reverberating against Lan Wangji’s back. “Be a good boy, won’t you?”

He breathes in deeply, relaxing against his husband’s grip. His heart doesn’t race as it once might have. His mind doesn’t fight against him as it once might have. All that consumes him are the images from his mind, each perfect and needed.

“I want…” he whispers, covering Wei Ying’s hand with his own. “I want you to rub my pussy with your cock.”

It isn’t so difficult to ask anymore. Not like it used to be.

“Hm,” Wei Ying agrees with a sigh. “Yes… I’d like that, too. Thank you for telling me.”

He melts into his husband’s embrace, sinking into that sweet, familiar feeling of falling. Of letting his husband take hold and forgetting all but him. Wei Ying is firm against him, hard and needy without any further stimulation. He readjusts himself accordingly to fit himself against Lan Wangji’s slit. Already, his cock is slick with pre-come, sliding against Lan Wangji’s own wetness. He is fire against every nerve in Lan Wangji’s body, warming and cooling him in the same moment.

“Feel that?” Wei Ying murmurs, lowering his hand to grasp his cock. Slowly, he guides it along Lan Wangji’s slit, edging his folds open with its head. “I’m already so wet for you, Lan Zhan.”

“Mn,” he moans, shivering at his husband’s words. His body will only ever bend for him, will only ever be affected by him. He loves feeling his husband in all ways, but especially like this. Loves the warm slick of this position, feeling all the small movements as they slowly become one.

“Yeah,” Wei Ying agrees, grinding his hips. His cock brushes against Lan Wangji’s clit, sending shivers down his spine again. “Of course you like it. You want my cock all the time, don’t you?”

“Mn,” he agrees as he moves against his husband, chasing that sweet pressure once again.

His husband’s laughter vibrates against his back. “Greedy,” he chides, slapping his cock against Lan Wangji’s clit. Over and over—every touch, however brief, incites an ache deep within him.

“Does Wei Ying… not want my pussy all the time?” he asks, cunt pulsating with want. Greedy, like Wei Ying said. So very greedy, and he no longer cares enough to be burdened by it. No longer cares enough to be silenced. He will have his husband however he wants, however they both want, and nothing will stop him. Not even his own mind will hold him back.

“Yes,” Wei Ying whispers, voice so low it’s nearly a growl. He grinds their hips together, his cock tracing the length of his slit, sparking an even deeper ache within him. “Want it all the time. Want fill you up, give you more babies.”

He groans at the slight change of pace, nodding enthusiastically as his husband ruts against him. In turn, he rolls his hips in shallow, desperate motions. Already, Wei Ying is dripping all over him, the head of his cock pushing against the seam of his inner folds. Teasingly, light and somehow heavy. Not enough and too much, he can’t decide which is worse. Which he wants more.

“More?” Wei Ying whispers, his breath hot against Lan Wangji’s ear.

“Please,” he breathes.

His husband laughs softly to himself, indulging him readily. His hand slips in between his folds, deft fingers working in all the ways he knows. Even though he anticipates it, he never tires of the feeling. The familiar rhythm of Wei Ying spreading his folds, baring him to the world. The familiar jolt as his thumb pushes against his clit. The agonizing slick as he slowly encircles his cunt, finally entering with such little resistance. Lan Wangji can barely feel him, he’s so wet. Wetter still with every move his husband makes, with every hook of his finger and push against his most sensitive places. And his cock is still hard between his spread legs, still desperately thrusting as his fingers work inside. As Lan Wangji moans and writhes beside him.

They climax in tandem, their bodies so aligned, so familiar, it merely takes a whine from his husband to send him over the edge. Wei Ying follows him without a pause, spilling onto his thighs as he fingers him through the last of his orgasm, holding him until the very last shudder.

He slumps forward, leaning his face into the pillow as his husband kisses his shoulders and strokes his hair. Already, he feels incredibly light. Drowsy, as his heart slows and his husband washes away the remnants of the evening. Before, he would have wanted more, would have given it, but he is not as he once was. Being pregnant has slowly become quite the burden, one welcomed but nevertheless noticed.

“Good boy,” Wei Ying murmurs, sliding the covers over him. He presses a kiss to Lan Wangji’s temple, his lips spreading warmth through his forehead, all the way into his heart. “Working so hard to grow that baby. You rest now, alright?”

“Mn,” he hums, smiling when his husband kisses the corner of his mouth.

He dozes as Wei Ying flits about the room to extinguish the lamps, the sounds of his footsteps echoing in his ears as sleep pulls him away. He awakens only briefly to his husband rejoining him, arm draped across his belly, knee squeezed in between his.

“Goodnight, Lan Zhan,” his husband whispers, his voice muffled by Lan Wangji’s hair.

“Goodnight,” he somehow manages, the word too distant to be real, his body too weightless to feel.

Wei Ying’s gentle laughter lulls him to sleep.


When Lan Xichen arrives at their home the next morning, he’s dressed much simpler than the day before. His robes are a plain light blue, subtly embellished by the Lan pattern along the trim of his collar, his sleeves slim and tucked beneath bracers. His hair is tied simply without any adornments. Without the weight of his usual fabrics and the shine of silver in his hair, he appears much smaller. So unlike Zewu-Jun, the Lan sect leader.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen greets, smiling. His expression doesn’t break when he turns to greet Wei Ying. “Young Master Wei.” His smile spreads wider when he crouches down to take A-Yuan in his arms. “It is good to see you all again.”

“Yes,” Lan Wangji agrees.

“Zewu-Jun,” Wei Ying says, attempting a smile, “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you so… casual.”

Lan Xichen huffs out a small laugh, the corners of his eyes creasing as his smile deepens. “It is true, I do not often dress so simply,” he replies, lowering his gaze. “I would like to offer my services. If there is anything you need assistance for, I am happy to help.”

“Ah, that is very kind,” Wei Ying says with a wave of his hand, “but it isn’t necessary. You’re a guest here.”

“I am a guest,” Lan Xichen agrees, “and you are expecting. It is the least I can do. There must be some tasks you have not yet completed.”

He is right, of course. Lan Wangji thinks of the unwashed laundry and the unswept floors and the weeds that have sprung in the garden. There are not enough hours in the day, and Lan Wangji is too pregnant to complete most of them with the same efficiency he did before. Wei Ying has the remnants of the crops to focus upon, after all. He must prepare their fields for the winter. Once that task is completed, he will be able to help Lan Wangji more.

But even though the extra hands would be appreciated, he’s hesitant to accept. It seems uncourteous to receive his brother as a guest and give him chores the very next day. Even with Lan Xichen offering. Then again—he has kept so much from his family as of late. Neither Lan Xichen nor Lan Qiren have had a chance to be with him for any stages of his pregnancy. They haven’t been able to observe any of the traditions, to watch the baby grow within him, to help him in their own ways. He can never return what he took from them, but he can give Lan Xichen this. He can let his brother take care of them this one time.

“It is fine,” he says, laying a hand on his husband’s arm. “We could do with the help.”

His brother’s smile grows. “Show me what you need.”

He spends most of the morning delegating tasks for his brother to complete while Wei Ying heads into the fields with A-Yuan. They barely talk as Lan Xichen sweeps the floors and launders their robes and A-Yuan’s sheets (he draws the line at his and Wei Ying’s bedding—it would be far too revealing), but the silence is comfortable. Familiar. Like their many nights in Gusu before everything changed for them. When there were silences that didn’t demand to be filled. When they enjoyed each other’s presence without needing to entertain the other.

“A break?” Lan Xichen suggests once he’s finished hanging the last of the wet laundry.

“Yes,” he agrees, letting his brother help him stand.

“Perhaps a walk outside?”

He nods. Even though they have mostly been out in the courtyard, he is quite warm. The wind and open air will cool him.

Lan Xichen doesn’t let go of his arm, even once they are outside, but Lan Wangji doesn’t protest. His brother’s arm is grounding, steadying. A perfect remedy to the spinning of his head as they wander towards their makeshift garden. He must be more overheated than he’d thought.

“It’s lovely, Wangji,” Lan Xichen says. “Your whole home is.”

“Thank you,” he whispers.

“Shufu will be happy to know you are settled,” he continues. “Unless…”

“You may tell him. All of it.”

There isn’t much point in hiding any longer. Not from them.

Lan Xichen stretches his smile thin. “Alright.” He laughs softly to himself, shaking his head. “He may disappointed to miss the birth.”

His heart sinks in his stomach, dull and painful. He regrets all that he didn’t say before. All the pain he has caused them.

“He will understand,” Lan Xichen continues, giving his arm a reassuring squeeze. “The circumstances of your situation are… difficult. I understand there was really no good way to send the message along. That you may have been apprehensive to send it at all.”

“I was,” he admits. “I worried… he would be misunderstood.”

Lan Xichen nods, sighing heavily. “You know him best, Wangji. If you trust him, I do, too.”

“Xiongzhang—”

“I have always trusted your judgement, Wangji,” his brother reminds him. “Shufu… he will come around. He trusts you, too. And he loves children.”

At least there is that.

“But Wangji…” Lan Xichen continues, his brow furrowing, “he may not be… as forgiving. About your husband’s past.”

He leans into his brother, gulping. The sun is shining down on them, causing sweat to bead at his forehead. He is still too warm. He leads his brother towards a shadier area of the garden, among the remnants of the gentian blossoms.

“I am aware.”

“He will, of course, not intervene,” Lan Xichen assures him. “He values your safety and happiness. He… has his opinions.”

“Yes.” 

He is certain he will hear all about his uncle’s opinions once he comes to visit. It is a burden he will bear if it means his uncle can meet his child and see A-Yuan once more. 

“Wangji…” Lan Xichen begins, breathing deeply. He closes his eyes, smiling to himself as he formulates the words. “The demonic cultivation… does Young Master Wei still practice?”

He has not used it much since their marriage, though in recent weeks, he has allowed himself more lenience. Enough to activate talismans from time to time. Enough to feel the presence of spirits every now and again. Not as he once did. Not with the urgency or power he once possessed.

Even so, he will not have his uncle or brother’s respect for Wei Ying be conditional, to hang upon the false hope he will return to a righteous path they approve of. They will accept every facet of his husband, or they will be met with disapproval. He will not allow his husband to diminish any part of himself. He wants Wei Ying to live as he wants to live without the burden of others’ expectations.

“Would it matter if he did?”

Lan Xichen exhales, closing his eyes once more. “Of course not,” he sighs. “He is your zhiji. That is enough.”

“Yes,” he agrees firmly. 

His brother blinks slowly, turning his attention towards the garden. Clearly searching for a new subject to fall upon.

“You have gentians here, too,” he says, hand hovering over the remnants of their blooms.

“We found one among the crops,” Lan Wangji explains, exhaling to dispel the tension in his shoulders. “They have since expanded.”

His brother smiles, warm and unguarded. “They are lovely.” 

He gazes down at the flowers, letting comfortable silence wash over them once more. Lan Wangji attempts to relax into it, but he is still unbearably tense. His face is far too warm. His skin practically aches as he moves. 

Perhaps he should ask to return indoors and lie down. Then again, he was also uncomfortable indoors. At least here, in the shade, there’s a breeze.

“Gentians always remind me of our mother,” Lan Xichen says. “You look so much like her.”

His throat constricts, eyes stinging with a sudden wave of emotion. He had hoped to speak of her someday, to know more from what little he does. But… hoping and having are different. He is not quite prepared. His heart beats too fast, his eyes burn too deeply, and his throat is far too dry. All he can do is nod.

“She would be happy, Wangji.” 

He nods once more, the air in his lungs pushing against him as he fights to retain control of his emotions.

“I think she would like Young Master Wei,” he adds, rubbing Lan Wangji’s forearm affectionately. “She would admire his spirit. And yours.”

He tries to offer some sound of acknowledgement, but his throat is too dry, and his eyes are too bright, and the sun is too hot, even in the shade. Sweat pools at his forehead, and he feels…

He feels…

“Wangji?” Lan Xichen asks.

He opens his mouth to speak, but no sound comes. Something… shifts in his stomach. Lowering, sinking. It takes him a moment to realize it’s the baby. His lower back pulsates as he comes to this realization, contracting and seizing as he sags into his brother. He isn’t in pain, but the new sensation is so present. Overwhelming, consuming. It radiates from his lower spine into his womb, pushing against it. The baby is pushing against it. The baby is lowering themselves inside him, preparing themselves.

“They are coming,” he manages to say. “They are ready.”

He will have to be, too.

Chapter Text

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.