“Baba, come on, or there won’t be any copies left!”
Wei Ying chuckles as his tiny seven year old tugs on his hand with the sort of determination you only find in olympian competitors, or even Wen Qing when she’s about to perform a complicated procedure. A-Yuan has a deep frown on his chubby face, lips pursed with the effort he exerts pulling on his dad. He seems genuinely worried he’s going to miss out on the soon-to-be newest addition to his book collection.
Wei Ying finds it utterly adorable.
“Baby, you understand that there’s a limited number of kids in this silly little town, so there’s no way the book will be sold out by the time we get there right?”
A-Yuan huffs. “A-Ling said he would buy aaaaall of the books in the world! Just so A-Yi would not get a copy. A-Zhen told me A-Ling sounded serious. We can’t take the chance, baba!”
Wei Ying coughs exaggeratedly, since the urge to laugh is strong. “First of all, he didn’t say you couldn’t have one, A-Yuan. That argument was just between Jin Ling and Lan Jingyi. Second of all, Yanli will most certainly have something to say if her son tries to buy a fortune in children’s books.”
The whining is sort of new. A-Yuan is usually such a well behaved child, that Wei Ying is enjoying this whole baffling experience. Nonetheless, he caves.
“Very well,” he sighs dramatically.
In one big step, he catches up to his son, bends down to pick him up and smoothly lifts him in his arms. A-Yuan squawks in shock before dissolving into a giggling fit. Wei Ying smiles at him, incapable of showing any other kind of expression in light of his son’s pure happiness.
The bookstore is in sight, and there aren’t many people around. It’s actually early in the morning, and the store has barely opened. A-Yuan wanted to be the first one in line to buy his book, and Wei Ying is entirely too indulgent.
The entry bell chimes and A-Yuan giggles at the sound. Wei Ying rolls his eyes, because he knows it’s probably an inside joke between the quartet of adorkable children that make up his son’s friend group.
Wei Ying looks around, but there’s hardly that many people inside. The book series of My Life as a Bunny is surprisingly popular, and each new book added usually tops the national list of children’s books every time. However, that doesn’t mean bookstores will be bursting with customers just because a book launch is scheduled in the premises.
The two head to the counter, and the nice lady sitting behind the counter indicates where the area for the book signing will be.
Wei Ying is surprised, “A book signing event?”
The lady nods with enthusiasm. “That’s correct dear customer. It will start in an hour or so. You may take your place in the line if you wish to be one of the first.”
Wei Ying nods absently and thanks her. It is a surprising turn of events, since the author of the series usually rejects the requests for public appearances. There are only a handful of these events Wangji will attend in a year, and even his picture cannot be found in ads or notices regarding the series itself. The back of the books always contain a picture of a rabbit, in lieu of the author’s portrait. All Wei Ying has been able to find about the man is that he’s incredibly handsome. But that may just be hearsay.
He has actually been thinking of saving for a trip this coming summer. Wei Ying wants to take A-Yuan sightseeing, to give him something nice and different since he’s been such a good student with wonderful behavior. All his teachers adore him. Wei Ying wants to be the kind of father that rewards his son with amazing things. If his thinking involved travelling where Wangji will make an appearance next, that would only show the boy how much he loves him.
They walk towards the nice set of tables and chairs closed off from the rest of the store in a nice, cozy corner. The area is framed by large bookcases filled with children’s selections. Behind the table where the author would no doubt be signing for his horde of miniature fans, the bookcase showed all the Bunny titles, including…
“That’s the new one, baba! Come on!” A-Yuan gets extremely excited at the sight, and pulls insistently on Wei Ying’s hand once more.
“Baby, the book will be offered during the signing we can’t just—agh!”
A-Yuan lets go abruptly, going under the ropes that cordoned the area, which makes Wei Ying trip trying to follow him. Fortunately, a stranger shows up from a side door in between the bookcases inside that section who reflexively grabs him and stops him from a very embarrassing meeting with the ground.
A-Yuan looks back and gasps, as dramatic as his father tends to be, rushing back towards his baba. His eyes tear up, little face showing a frown from the guilt.
“B-baba, I’m s-sorry..!”
“Nonononono, it’s fine, baby! See? I’m fine, I didn’t fall! This nice gentleman here helped… me…”
Wei Ying looks up at that and meets a golden pair of eyes adorning an incredibly gorgeous face. Somehow, he has ignored the fact the man had so far refused to let go, instead holding him tighter and closer. Wei Ying feels slightly breathless, and weirdly dazed.
“H-hello,” Wei Ying breathes, because in no universe would he remain silent for long despite being addlebrained at the moment.
“Are you alright?” The stranger asks, and Wei Ying swears he would have swooned at the deep baritone, lying on the floor like a puddle of goo had the man not been holding him up.
Wei Ying swallows hard. “Yes... how could I not be with these very strong arms catching me.”
He resists the urge to slap a hand to his mouth. Of all the times to lose control of his gift of gab!
The stranger blinks, eyes still gazing intently —intensely— into Wei Ying’s.
“Mn. Perhaps you should be careful who you fall for… not everyone is as strong.”
Wei Ying has a heart attack. An arrow pierces his chest out of nowhere. His whole stomach decides it would live better up his throat, just as his legs make it a point to waver in place.
Did the man just say that? Did he really just… flirt back? Wei Ying’s flirty response was an accident! But this man’s comeback was definitely—
Both men look down, where A-Yuan is currently tugging at his father’s pants while gazing up at them with large, curious eyes.
The man’s face goes neutral, closing off so abruptly that Wei Ying feels a whiplash witnessing it (he didn’t even notice how much that gorgeous face was showing him until it slammed the door in his face). His arms grow lax, and Wei Ying steps back carefully. Soon after, he swoops down to bring A-Yuan up, nuzzling their noses together to make his son giggle.
“A-Yuan,” Wei Ying coos, “your baba is perfectly alright. It was my fault for tripping, you were only excited for your book, ok? We just need to thank the nice man, because we are nice people who always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, aren’t we?”
A-Yuan nods with all the seriousness his chubby face can summon. He twists in his father’s arms and motions for the man to get closer.
Wei Ying is confused, but doesn’t show it. The man is intrigued, but he complies.
When he is close enough, A-Yuan reaches for a lock of the man’s hair and tugs until he is close enough to plant a noisy, wet kiss on his cheek. A-Yuan retreats to beam brightly at the stranger.
Wei Ying feels like dying.
“Thank you for rescuing my baba! He is clumsy, but nice, and I love him very much. He is also lonely, and in need of a husband. I like you, would you marry my baba?”
Wei Ying is now thinking of where he’s going to dig his grave, and how to make sure he ends down there. Maybe Jiang Cheng will help…?
The stranger arches his eyebrows before raising his gaze to meet Wei Ying’s embarrassed expression. His face is somehow more relaxed, and a glint can be seen in his golden eyes.
“I’m so so sorry, he’s normally not like this, and-and we don’t even know you yet here we are ruining your day, you probably have tons of things to do and I—!”
“Lan Zhan,” the man announces, extending his hand before the dad and son pair.
Both look at it in surprise, cocking their heads slightly in the same direction at the same time. The man’s —Lan Zhan’s— lips quirk a little at that.
Wei Ying arranges A-Yuan more comfortably in his arms, so he can free one hand to clasp his new acquaintance’s. They shake on it, although their hold lingers longer than strictly necessary.
The man is truly gorgeous, Wei Ying thinks, so sue him.
“I’m Wei Ying, and this is Wei Yuan. It’s nice to meet you.”
A-Yuan wiggles in place so Wei Ying lets him down. Then, the boy runs to the previously forgotten bookcase to take out a copy of the newest book in his favorite series. He smiles brightly at his father over his shoulder, so Wei Ying doesn’t have the heart to make him put it back.
“You are… here for the signing?” Lan Zhan asks, now a little closer to Wei Ying.
“Yeah, that’s his favorite book series. We never miss a release. In fact, we didn’t know the author was going to be here today, so we’re pretty excited. But it’s honestly very strange, since this is a tiny, forgettable town... But who am I to know how publishing and advertising works,” Wei Ying explains, rubbing the back of his head with a sheepish grin.
“It’s his hometown,” Lan Zhan replies, his face flashing with shock. He probably didn’t intend to say that which means... he knows the guy?
“Wait, seriously? It is?! That’s so funny! Wait ‘till I tell A-Yuan!” Wei Ying awes then laughs, very amused at the coincidence.
“Mn… Would you like to meet him?” Lan Zhan says, gaze fixed on A-Yuan who is now reading the book. He does peek at Wei Ying several times, as if shy.
“We are? I mean, I know there’s no one in line yet, but we are standing where the signing will take place… right? I didn’t screw up, did I???” Wei Wuxian swivels around, frantically searching for any other area in the bookstore that may look like it’s bursting with tiny eager people.
Tripping over his own two feet, he would have fallen if Lan Zhan didn’t catch him. Again.
Wei Ying blushes when Lan Zhan tightens his hold around his waist, bringing their faces inches apart.
“Clumsy,” Lan Zhan scolds gently.
“Ah, yeah, A-Yuan didn’t lie about that, hehe.”
“Did he lie about anything else?”
Lan Zhan’s gaze is very distracting. He has no business being more attractive up close. And are those muscles in his arms?
“N-no, he ah… didn’t.”
Lan Zhan nods. “Good to know.”
A throat clearing nearby has them turning to the source, finding the lady from the counter standing there, blushing lightly. She bows low.
“We are ready to start whenever, Master Lan.”
“Thank you. Give me five more minutes.” The lady nods and hurries away, leaving a very confused Wei Ying.
“Go out with me.”
“Tonight. Once the bookstore closes. I would like to… make you a little less lonely.”
Wei Ying’s face explodes in color, red reaching up his ears and down his neck.
“Lan Zhan, so shameless!”
“Mn.” There is a pause during which they stare at each other. Then, “Will you?”
“Will I what?”
“Accompany me to dinner.”
“Oh, well, sure I… A-Yuan can stay over at a friend’s. You can… come over to my house… if you want.”
Lan Zhan smiles, and it’s like the most beautiful thing Wei Ying has ever seen.
“I do want,” Lan Zhan assures, gaze dropping to Wei Ying’s lips which are currently being bitten raw in anxiousness. “I’ll bring dinner.”
“I’ll be dessert!” Wei Ying exclaims quickly, before the meaning of the words registers and he groans. “Have, I meant have! I swear I did not mean that in a sexual way.”
“Too bad,” Lan Zhan muses, eyes shining with obvious laughter. Wei Ying pouts, feeling very tired of blushing.
“You may regret that,” Wei Ying says while he straightens Lan Zhan’s collar, then smoothes out his shirt. Lan Zhan has not let go of him yet, so he might as well cop a feel. And are those abs?!
“I very much doubt that.”
Unfortunately, their alone time is over because Lan Zhan is seemingly needed somewhere. He steps away from Wei Ying carefully, so Wei Ying can’t reply back to that teasing little devil wearing the face of an angel.
Lan Zhan goes to A-Yuan, kneeling beside him then murmuring something to the boy. A-Yuan gasps and nods enthusiastically in response. Lan Zhan takes a pen out, writes something in A-Yuan’s new book —which, for shame! Wei Ying hasn’t even paid for it yet!— then leaves the child after a gentle pat on his head.
Lan Zhan walks by Wei Ying, glancing at him with mischievous, bright golden eyes. Then he disappears around a bookcase, going deeper into the store. Wei Ying stares after him, feeling breathless and silly. Again.
Oh, but how are they gonna contact each other…?
Wei Ying looks down. A-Yuan is offering him the book so he takes it and blinks at it.
“You have to open it baba, don’t be silly.”
Wei Ying pokes his tongue out at his child, but A-Yuan only sighs in that long-suffering way adults usually do around his father.
Wei Ying opens the book, studying the beautiful detailing inside before stark blue ink catches his attention at the bottom of the inside cover.
Thank you for being a wonderful fan, and bunny lover like me. I hope you keep cheering me on in the future.
Under the signature is a string of numbers Wei Ying recognizes as belonging to a phone. A personal phone. Lan Zhan’s. Who is, apparently, his son’s favorite author ever.
Wei Ying throws his head back and laughs. He can’t wait for dinner that night.
Wei Yuan feels very accomplished.
A while ago, Jin Ling showed them pictures from his previous vacation trip with his parents, bragging about this and that, but especially about having met the author of their most favorite book series: Wangji. The pictures were alright, but the most important thing is that Wei Yuan can now recognize the man.
So, how lucky is Wei Yuan to have met him in their quaint little town!
Not only that, but seeing his father make heart eyes at the admittedly handsome man makes Wei Yuan think that…
Wouldn’t it be super awesome to have Wangji as his second father?
Imagine all the books he could read before A-Ling, A-Yi and A-Zhen!
And the bunnies!
The man has bunnies as pets!
Of course, the idea comes mainly because his dad is awesome too and deserves the best in the world, and who is better than Wangji who writes the best stories and has a lot of bunnies as pets?
No one, that’s who!
Wei Yuan hides a smile, watching his father stare dreamily at the cover of his new book. He hopes Wangji —Lan Zhan!— can sign all his other books soon. Wei Yuan can’t wait to show this one —and those!— to his friends.