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and when you go (like summer gives to the rain)

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Lan Wangji is floating. He briefly wonders if he’s underwater, swimming through one of the Gusu lakes he used to swim in as a child. When he stretches out his fingers, he doesn’t feel the drag of the water. Confused, he opens his eyes and is greeted by nothing but darkness.

He blinks. The next thing he knows, he is standing in front of the doors to his mother’s living quarters. He remembers the hallway with the big decorative vase at its very end so well. He still knows every light switch, every scratch on the walls from where they moved furniture and bumped against it. He recalls the smell.

He doesn’t question how he switched from his previous floating position to this precise location, which oddly confuses him even more. Shouldn’t he be at least a bit concerned?

All he feels is a weird sense of peace and an underlying current of sadness.

He knows his mother’s rooms should be empty, yet he sees light shining faintly from under the door. He can also hear voices. They’re faint, but he neither recognises them nor understands a word of what is being said.

Lan Wangji knows that his mother won’t be, shouldn’t be behind that door, that it should be locked, and yet he reaches out and grabs the doorknob and turns it –

The door swings open, and there at the window, sits his mother. The sunlight frames her head in a halo of light; illuminated like that, she seems to glow. There’s a half-finished embroidery project sitting on the table in front of her, the blue flowers she’s been working on only barely coming to life on the stretched fabric. Lan Wangji doesn’t need to look closer to know that they’re gentians. They have always been his mother’s favourite flowers.

She turns to look at him. Her eyes are warm, her cheeks are rosy. Her smile is full of love.

“A-Zhan,” she calls, and her voice is more beautiful than a thousand symphonies. “How nice of you to visit me.”

Lan Wangji can’t breathe. He just stares at his mother. He knows she’s dead, he knows this can’t possibly be real, and yet he feels drawn to her like a moth attracted by a flame.

He crosses the threshold to his mother’s room, and suddenly he’s six years old, with plump cheeks and wide eyes and chubby fingers. He doesn’t understand why he’s no longer a grown man but a child again, and because he has the heart of a child, he runs as fast as his legs can carry him – he knows it’s forbidden! -, flings himself into his mother’s waiting arms, and weeps.

“Mama,” he hiccups while she scoops him up and puts him onto her lap. He immediately nuzzles close to her chest.

His mother cards her fingers through his hair, just like he remembers it. It was once one of his favourite ways to be physically touched. He doesn’t understand how he could ever forget how good it felt.

“My darling A-Zhan,” his mother says in her soothing voice, rocking him back and forth. “Don’t cry, hmmm? I know you’re confused, but I promise, everything will be alright.”

Lan Wangji wipes his eyes. “M’scared,” he mumbles between sobs. “Dunno what’s happening.”

His mother smiles at him, all soft and warm and understanding. “You are sleeping,” she explains, “but it’s…a special kind of sleep. There has been an accident. You were injured, and this sleep is helping you to get well again. Don’t worry; you will be alright.”

She says it with such conviction that Lan Wangji doesn’t doubt her words for a second.

An accident. He doesn’t remember an accident. He faintly registers that he has a headache, and for some reason, he knows that the pain is much more severe than what he is currently experiencing. He tries to recall what kind of accident his mother might be referring to.

He’s an adult again. He’s sitting on the floor with his head pillowed on his mother’s lap. She’s still running her hands through his hair.

“I had a fight with Brother,” he tells her.

“I know,” she replies. “He’s afraid.”

Lan Wangji looks at her. “Afraid of what?”

“Afraid of losing you, little bunny,” she says and playfully boops his nose as if he still was a little child. “He loves you very much, and he is afraid that you will be slipping through his fingers and shy away from him by hiding away from everyone else.”

“He…wants me to do things I do not wish to do,” Lan Wangji begins. “I know he means well, but – Mama, what if I wish to be alone?”

His mother sighs. “I know that you like to be alone, but I do know that you hate to be lonely. Those are two different things. I know that people showing sympathy and affection scare you, and there really is no guarantee for an acquaintance, a friendship, or any kind of relationship really, to turn out successful. Look at your uncle and you and Huanhuan.”

Lan Wangji winces. “I don’t think that’s the best example you could give me, Mama.”

His mother actually chuckles. “Oh, I think it is. Your uncle always proclaimed that he was happy as a single man, that his extended family was enough for him, and that he didn’t need children of his own. And yet he took you in without a second thought. I don’t know if you’re even aware of it, but he wouldn’t let anyone else do it. He’s strict, and may appear cold and old-fashioned sometimes, but he loves fiercely, and he adores both of you. In the end, if he had to go back and decide anew if he was to take you in? There would be no hesitation.”

Lan Wangji thinks about those words. “Why would he do this, if by taking us in, he’d leave behind so many of the things he wanted for himself?” he asks.

“Because in doing so, he gained far more than he could have ever imagined,” his mother tells him. “You should know what that feels like. What a lovely grandson you gifted me with!”

Lan Wangji can feel a smile forming on his face. “He’s such a lovely child. I would do anything to make him happy.”

His mother smiles as she looks down at him. “That’s how your uncle feels about you, and that’s how Huanhuan feels about you too. If you were to sit down with your brother and calmly, openly, but also thoroughly tell him why you’d like him to stop setting you up with people, he would understand. His worry for you is just so big, that it needs a while for him to realise that he’s doing you more harm than good.”

She puts a finger under Lan Wangji’s chin and lifts his face so she can lock eyes with him.

“And that’s how Sizhui feels about you, too.”

“Mama, but…what if I cannot make him happy?” he asks, averting his gaze. “What if I cannot give him what he deserves?”

His mother cups her son’s face between her hands. “A-Zhan, my little bunny, the fact that you’re even asking those questions, that it is your utmost goal to provide in the best ways for your child, proves to me that you are absolutely fit to be his father.”

She rubs her thumbs over his cheekbones. “Right now, what he craves most in this world, is the love and care of his baba. Just be yourself, and you’ll do fine. If you are afraid of failing as a parent? We all are, it comes with the job. But as long as you love him, and listen to your heart, and listen to his heart as well, you will be fine. All will be well.”

Lan Wangji swallows past the lump that has formed in his throat.

“Mama, you’ve been gone for so long…how do you know all of this?”

His mother bends down and places a kiss on his forehead.

“Don’t you know, my Zhanzhan? I’m always with you. Now go back to sleep.”

 

***



Wei Wuxian closes the poetry book he’s been reading from. It’s suddenly so quiet in here, the silence only being disrupted by the beeping of the medical machinery placed around the hospital bed. It feels suffocating.

Wei Wuxian looks over at Lan Wangji, who’s still unconscious in his bed.

He looks so peaceful like that, as if he was truly asleep, having sweet dreams while his body recovers. If it weren’t for that hideous tube stuck to his face…Wei Wuxian wants to rip it off, to run his fingers through Lan Wangji’s hair and whisper sweet nothings to him until he wakes up…

He does none of that.

The awkwardness of the first day by Lan Wangji’s bedside has passed remarkably quickly.

Wei Wuxian had monologued for about twenty minutes about how he and Lan Xichen had met at the hospital, how he had agreed to talk to Lan Wangji while Lan Xichen recovers from the shock. He looks at the poetry book he had brought solely for reading from it to Lan Wangji. It’s a book Lan Wangji had gifted him when they were both sixteen.

“Those are my favourite poems,” he had told Wei Wuxian. “They make me happy. I wish to share them with you.”

Poetry is not Wei Wuxian’s forte, and phones or tablets are not allowed in the ICU for confidentiality reasons, so this book was his best bet.

He has to stop reading after ten minutes and leave the ICU.

One, because he wanted to limit his first visit to thirty minutes only, so as to not overwhelm Lan Wangji.

Two, because he can’t stop himself from crying. He can’t stop thinking about how Lan Wangji would read to him, at their spot by the lake, sitting in the shade under their favourite tree, Wei Wuxian’s head pillowed on Lan Wangji’s lap. He didn’t care much for poetry back then either, but Lan Wangji could have read him the phone book and he would have thanked him for it.

 

As Wei Wuxian makes his way to the cafeteria in search of coffee, still wiping at his eyes, he wonders if Lan Wangji truly hears them. Studies show that it’s very likely, and part of him hopes that he’s being heard, that it will help Lan Wangji on his road to recovery.

Another part of Wei Wuxian hopes that Lan Wangji won’t remember any of it, or at least, doesn’t recognise his voice. He doesn’t think he could take the look in Lan Wangji’s eyes when he sees his heart break all over again.

The coffee’s being handed to him, and Wei Wuxian chooses to drink it black, foregoing his usual sugar and creamer. He knows he’s being dramatic, and he needs the caffeine to help him clear his head.

This isn’t about you , he reminds himself. This is about Lan Zhan and his wellbeing. Get it together.

 

***

 

Baba is sleeping.

Xian-gege says it’s a special kind of sleep, one that’s meant to make him feel better. He cannot wake up until the doctors are very sure that he’s not hurt anymore.

Sizhui realises a few things:

Firstly, if Baba won’t wake up, no matter how much Sizhui calls for him, then it might be better not to try. Xian-gege says he can talk to him, that Baba will hear him, but he will not ask him to wake up. He can do this. He knows he can.

Secondly, if Baba needs to be in such a sleep to get better, then something had to be very very wrong with him in the first place.

Sizhui can’t hide his sniffles. Xian-gege’s hand is soothing on his head. A bit like Baba’s.

“I know it’s hard,” he tells him. “But you’re a big boy, aren’t you?”

Sizhui nods.

“And you promised your bobo to be brave, and not to cry too much, hm?” Xian-gege asks him. “Remember, you are still allowed to cry. It’s only normal for you to miss your baba.”

Sizhui swallows. He knows Xichen-bobo doesn’t really want him to see Baba, because he thinks it will make him sad. Xichen-bobo is right, but Sizhui knows that he’ll be even sadder if he doesn’t get to see his Baba at all. So he pleaded and pleaded, until Xichen-bobo said: “Only this once.”

Besides, Xian-gege is there if he gets too sad. He isn’t alone. He can do this.

Sizhui tries to adjust the ties of his mask by himself, but after a while, he gives up and looks at Xian-gege with big eyes. Xian-gege crouches down and helps him with the mask, with the small gloves and the protective hospital gown.

“They didn’t have one with bunnies on it,” Xian-gege says, his voice only a tiny bit muffled by his mask. “I hope dinosaurs are okay too.” He holds out a hand. “Are you ready to say hello to your baba?”

Sizhui takes a deep breath, takes Xian-gege’s hand, and nods.

Like every hospital room, this one is white too, but to Sizhui, it looks almost scaringly white. There are big machines that blink and make a lot of beeping noises, a window with blinds, and a bed with two chairs sitting next to it.

On the bed, his eyes closed, there’s Baba. There’s a tube taped to his cheek with what looks like bandaids, and one coming out of his arm. It looks…creepy, but Baba looks peaceful, just like he does when Sizhui wakes up very early and crawls into Baba’s bed for cuddles.

On instinct, he squeezes Xian-geges hand tighter. Xian-gege sits down and lifts him onto his lap. Sizhui looks up at him, unsure of what it all means.

“You don’t have to be afraid,” Xian-gege says. “The machines are there to make sure everything is okay with your baba while he’s asleep. The tube on his face helps him breathe, just to be safe, and the other one makes sure he gets all of the good things that our bodies get when we eat and drink since you can’t do that while you’re sleeping.”

Sizhui thinks he understands and looks back to his baba. He knows that he won’t wake up, that the doctors will decide whenever the right time comes, but still, he can’t help it –

“…Baba…?” he calls, hesitantly. His voice comes out wobbly and small.

Xian-gege caresses his back. It feels good. “You can talk to him,” he says. “He can hear you; I promise. Maybe he won’t be able to remember everything when he wakes up, but he can hear you now. Talk to him. Why don’t you tell him about your day at playschool? I’m sure he’d like that.”

So Sizhui tells his baba about how they have been painting a lot lately, and how he painted a rabbit for Baba, but he hopes that Baba won’t remember what he told him, because it’s meant as a surprise. He tells him how his friend Jingyi showed him how to make a chain out of flowers, and that he wants to make one that Baba can wear in his hair or on his head when he wakes up. He tells him that Xichen-bobo says that they can all go to the park together and have a picnic when Baba wakes up, and he hopes Baba has not too much work and has time to go, and can Xian-gege come too? That would be so much fun.

Xian-gege’s hand stops caressing his back. Sizhui looks up at him. “That would be fun, right, Xian-gege?” he asks expectantly.

“It would be,” Xian-gege says, “but I’m not sure if it would be a good idea.”

“Why not?” Sizhui wants to know.

Xian-gege sighs. He looks sad. Sizhui doesn’t like it.

“Do you remember, when you and I first met and I had Bunbun with me, how I told you that I used to have a friend who also really liked bunnies?” Xian-gege asks.

Sizhui nods.

“Well, I didn’t know it back then, but – “ Xian-gege shuffles in his seat. “That friend and your baba are the same person. We went to school together, but – I did bad things, and I made your baba really sad.”

“But Xian-gege, if you made Baba sad, you have to come with us to the park and say sorry!” Sizhui doesn’t understand why this is such a difficult concept for some people.

Xian-gege seems to think about it. “Yeah, maybe I need to do that,” he says. “But, you know, I think it would be better if I did that when I’m alone with your baba.”

Sizhui looks at his baba, then looks up at Xian-gege. He doesn’t understand adults, but he supposes that Xian-gege is right.

“Do you wanna listen while I read a bit to your baba?” Xian-gege asks. Sizhui nods and leans back against Xian-gege’s chest. He likes it when Xian-gege reads. He has a nice voice, and he likes the way he can feel Xian-gege’s voice in his chest when cuddles close to him.

Just like he can feel Baba’s voice when they cuddle.

Sizhui misses his baba. He’s right there, in front of him. He can see him, and when he reaches out, he can touch him…but Sizhui misses him so much. He hiccups, but he’s a good boy. He won’t cry. He closes his eyes and can feel himself slip away. It must be nap time already, then.

The last thing Sizhui notices before he falls asleep is how Xian-gege picks him up and lays him down next to his baba. He reaches out and grabs a fistful of Baba’s hair. Xian-gege sits next to them, caressing circles onto his back.

 It is then that Sizhui knows, with a deep sense of security, that all will be well.

 

***



“Lan Zhan!”

It’s a cloudy day at the lake. Lan Wangji is seventeen years old and in love. He turns to see the object of his affections run towards him, ponytail swaying, red ribbon trailing behind him, the brightest smile in the world on his face.

The clouds disappear. Sunrays kiss his skin. Lan Wangji’s heart sings.

“Wei Ying,” he breathes and opens his arms.

Wei Wuxian crashes into him, laughing brightly.

“There you are, Lan Zhan! I’ve been looking for you; where were you hiding?”

Lan Wangji nuzzles into Wei Wuxian’s face. It feels like coming home. „I’ve been waiting for you, Wei Ying,” he says. “I’ve been waiting for so long.”

“I know,” Wei Wuxian replies. He cups Lan Wangji’s face with both hands and kisses his forehead. “I’ve never been far, you know? But I can’t come to you if I cannot find you. How do you want me to come to see you if I don’t know where to look for you?”

“I…I didn’t think you’d want to see me,” Lan Wangji admits. “You disappeared so quickly; I thought it was something I said. Maybe…maybe I was too much, too cold, too – me , and you found it was better for you to go.”

Wei Wuxian looks at him and shakes his head. “Oh Lan Zhan, that was never the reason. You did nothing wrong. You could never do anything wrong. It was my own decision to leave. If I could have prevented it, I would never have left you. But I had to.”

Lan Wangji takes Wei Wuxian’s hands in his own, lifts them to his lips, and kisses his fingers. “Why did you leave, then?”

“I had no choice,” Wei Wuxian sighs. “Or at least, that’s what I thought. For a long time, I didn’t dare to look for you because I thought it was best for both of us, but now I found you!”

“Will you stay, this time?” Lan Wangji asks, his voice barely above a whisper, dripping with hope.

Slowly, so slowly, as if he was moving through molasses, Wei Wuxian shakes his head.

Lan Wangji’s mouth feels like cotton. The world seems to tilt on its side.

“It’s your turn to come find me, this time around,” Wei Wuxian says, leans forward, and kisses Lan Wangji on the lips – sweetly, tenderly. He disentangles his hands from Lan Wangji’s.

“Stay,” Lan Wangji pleads. He can feel his eyes sting. “Please don’t leave again, I’ll do anything – “

Wei Wuxian steps away from Lan Wangji, out of his personal bubble. “I am here,” he says. “Come find me. I know you can do it.”

He takes another step away from him. Lan Wangji panics.

“Please, don’t go! I will be good, I will laugh more, I will – I – just don’t leave me!”

He reaches out, encircles Wei Wuxian in his arms. They enclose nothing. Just as quickly as Wei Wuxian has appeared, he has vanished again.

Lan Wangji is seventeen years old. It is raining. His hair and clothes are getting soaked. He wishes the rain would swallow him whole, drown him, make him choke on his own tears. Anything is better than enduring this pain.

There’s a pair of arms circling his waist. Instinctively, Lan Wangji leans back into his mother’s warmth and lets his tears run free. She just holds him, waits until he calms down a bit.

“That’s a lovely boy you found yourself there,” she tells him. “You’ve got taste.”

“Mama,” Lan Wangji cries, fisting a handful of her blouse. “Why did he leave again? Why couldn’t he just stay?”

His mother runs her fingers through his hair. “Oh little bunny, things aren’t always as easy as we would like them to be. On the flip side, we tend to make them more complicated than they really are. This seems to be a combination of both.”

She cups Lan Wangji’s face and lifts it until they are eye to eye.

“You still love him, don’t you, Zhanzhan?”

Lan Wangji is an adult again. He’s kneeling on the floor of his mother’s room and looks up at her through tear-crowned lashes.

“Yes,” he confesses. “I always have. I don’t know how to not love him.”

His mother smiles at him. “He told you to come find him, didn’t he?”

Lan Wangji nods.

“Then you know what to do.”

Lan Wangji swallows. “But what if – he changes his mind again? I don’t know if I could take it…”

His mother lets out an exasperated sigh and, not unkindly, shakes her head. “And what if this would be your chance of getting your love back, and you’d pass it up just because you’re afraid?”

She places a kiss on top of his head. “I know it’s scary, but missed opportunities are the worst things in life. They will cause you to regret everything you do. If your Wei Ying decides that he doesn’t want you anymore, you’d at least have closure. But if he still wants you? What are you waiting for?”

Lan Wangji wipes at his eyes. “You…like him?”

“Very much so,” she replies. “He’s always been the right one for you. Only sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time. Life is giving you a second chance. Don’t let it slip.”

 

***

 

Wei Wuxian isn’t supposed to be here. He’s not even supposed to be at the hospital today, given that he's on volunteer break for the following few months, but he just couldn’t help it.

Today is the day Lan Wangji will be woken up. Wei Wuxian just has to speak to him one last time.

It’s a bit concerning to him that it was that easy to sneak into the ICU – maybe he should bring that up one day – but he fully expects to be caught when he sneaks out again. Even if that would cost him his volunteer job – he just has to.

Lan Wangji lies asleep before him, face peaceful and beautiful as ever. Wei Wuxian wants to touch him, to run his fingers along his cheek and cup his face, like he used to do when they were young. He doesn’t think he’d still be allowed to.

Instead, he sits down and reaches under his protective hospital gown and into his lab coat pocket. He retrieves a small brush, one with a wooden base and natural bristles. He recalls that Lan Wangji used to have a similar one when they were younger. Someone had painted a small white rabbit sitting on a crescent moon on its back.

Wei Wuxian swallows.

“Hey Lan Zhan, it’s me again,” he begins. “This is the last time I’ll be coming here to talk to you. I don’t know if you’re aware, but doctors are planning on waking you up today. Isn’t it brilliant? Your brother and your son are so excited, I can tell! It’s bright and sunny out, so you’ll be waking up to a blue sky, and lots of birdsong.”

He fidgets with the brush in his hand. “You’ve been lying here for a few days now, and although you didn’t move much, I know a thing or two about what a hassle long hair can be when it’s been slept on for too long, so…”

Wei Wuxian waves the brush around as if to show it to Lan Wangji. As if Lan Wangji would be sitting up the next moment and take it from his hand to examine it.

“I thought…I thought I could brush your hair for you,” Wei Wuxian admits in a small, almost shy voice. “Braid it, maybe. Make you look pretty and put together for the doctors and your family. I’ve heard even your uncle’s coming to see you! Your brother told me his health wasn’t the best so he was unable to come earlier, but he so wants to be with you, isn’t that great? And I’m sure they’ll appreciate you being all presentable and beautiful. Not that there was ever a moment in which you were not beautiful, but I digress.”

Wei Wuxian clears his throat. “I hope you’ll forgive me for doing this without your consent…I just – there’s not much else I can do for you, and I remember how much you hated it when your hair got tangled. So please, do accept this. As…as a small token of affection, if you will.”

As gently as he possibly can, Wei Wuxian slides a hand under Lan Wangji’s head and lifts it up, so that he can carefully pull out his hair from underneath him. It’s still as soft as he remembers, even more so, and just for a few moments, he allows himself to run his fingers through it. To feel their silkiness on his fingertips and engrave the feeling in his memory. He then takes the brush and starts brushing out Lan Wangji’s hair strand by strand, starting with the tips and working his way up.

“You have such a lovely kid,” Wei Wuxian says, keeping his voice low as if he was afraid of actually waking Lan Wangji. “I really like him. He’s so clever and funny. Very polite too; I’m sure that must be your doing, but I can see just the tiniest hint of mischief in him. He took a liking to one of the hand puppets I keep to entertain the kids here at the hospital. It’s this pinkish rabbit; I call it Bunbun. I said he could borrow it until you’re better, but I think I will let him keep it if that’s okay with you. I don’t know if I will ever be able to meet Sizhui again, and – well, if I’m honest, a selfish part of me wants him to have something that belonged to me. Because I feel like we’re friends now, him and I. I’m going to miss him.”

Once he’s brushed through all the hair, Wei Wuxian parts it into three strands and begins to form a simple French braid.

“Do you remember how you taught me how to braid your hair, Lan Zhan?” he asks, a chuckle escaping him at the memory. “I wanted to surprise my sister by offering to do her braids but didn’t know how. You were very patient, although I managed to pull your hair once or twice. Jiejie was actually very pleasantly surprised when she discovered that I knew how to braid. It’s still the only braid I have mastered so far, and I haven’t done her hair in years…but looking at this, it seems like I’m still good at it.”

Wei Wuxian reaches into his lab coat pocket again and pulls out a short piece of blood-red ribbon. He used to wear this ribbon all the time to tie up his hair while he was younger, and still does so nowadays, but he finds that for hospital work a scrunchie does a better job.

“Maybe you’ll recognise this when you wake up,” he murmurs as he ties off Lan Wangji’s braid with a bright red bow. “Maybe you won’t, who knows? It’s a piece of my own ribbon. It’s been a while, and I know it’s not my place, certainly not after what I’ve done to you, but – I just –“

He doesn’t even know what he wants to say. His voice breaks on a sob. There are tear stains on the upper rim of his mask. His hand moves from Lan Wangji’s braid to his cheek and touches it so gingerly as if anything more intense would cause it to shatter.

“I will miss you,” he confesses. “I’ve missed you for years. I know now that I’ve been a coward. Hell, I’m still being one, who am I kidding? I just – I don’t know how to approach you. How to look at you knowing that I must have torn your heart to pieces, back then. Who does that to someone they claim to love?”

Wei Wuxian wipes at his eyes with the back of his sleeve. “Because I did love you. Truly. I still do. And if you were to wake up now and tell me that you’d still have me, I’d gladly be yours again. But as it stands now…your brother is still angry with me. Your uncle would probably skin me if he knew I was even breathing in your general direction. And I…I still don’t know how to apologise. I know I should. For someone who never shuts his trap, I’m miserably at a loss for words.”

Wei Wuxian swallows, hard. He feels like crying even more, but he knows now is neither the time nor the place to do so.

“If there’s still a chance for us, then…please come and find me,” he whispers. “I know you can do it. When you are ready, and if not…I will wait, and I will understand.”

He looks at Lan Wangji, his Lan Zhan, and bends down to kiss his forehead through his mask.

“Be well, my love.”

Miraculously, Wei Wuxian makes it out of the ICU without being noticed. He still doesn’t know how he does it.

He makes it out of the hospital building without bumping into someone.

He makes it into his car, drives himself home. There, he switches off his work phone and puts it into a drawer. He considers putting the hairbrush away too, but he leaves it out on his nightstand.

He doesn’t even change into comfier clothes before he collapses onto his bed and cries for the rest of the morning.

 

***



At 3 pm sharp on a sunny afternoon, after five days in an induced coma, Lan Wangji opens his eyes. He blinks and needs a few moments to adjust to the light. He sees people around him that he doesn’t recognise. Slowly, it dawns on him that he’s in a hospital and that the people surrounding him are doctors and nurses.

His vital functions are being checked. They tell him that his family will be allowed to see him the next day, one by one and that they will see if physical therapy is necessary, and if yes, how much.

Lan Wangji nods. His throat feels like sandpaper from disuse and from the device that helped him to breathe. He feels tired, and the doctors tell him to rest and sleep it off.

He closes his eyes. Instantly, the vision of a boy with a red ribbon in his hair pops up in his mind.

Lan Wangji is sure that he heard the boy’s voice.

Or maybe it was just a dream.