The rain came down all at once.
Earlier that day, the sun had been high in the sky, a sweltering heat that seemed to beat down on the earth. A pipe had blown on a busy express way and there was traffic, the sound of impatient honks overlapping each other as people hurried to get to their destinations. Wei Wuxian had sat on the pavement, chin in his hands, watching the commotion with an uninterested eye. His hair was tied in a lose ponytail, a random red ribbon one of subway goer had dropped in his guitar case. Wei Wuxian had just been wishing for it to rain and put him out of his misery when it did, pouring down as if the heavens were weeping.
Wei Wuxian snorted as he watched people dash about, finding whatever they could to cover their heads. He let himself get soaked by the rain, let it seep underneath his flimsy clothes, down to his bones. He closed his eyes briefly, head turned up to the sky and allowed the rain to patter on to his face. Then, he stood up and retrieved his guitar case from where he had safely stored it and he shifted his position until he was sitting outside the subway station.
Back when Wei Wuxian was okay, when he was not scourging for the next meal and did not have to get by with the little money he got from busking, this subway was his favourite place to come with his friends. To Wei Wuxian, it was the bridge that connected him to different parts of the country, and he could go wherever he pleased, no overbearing mother to tell him otherwise. Now, Wei Wuxian could only wonder how she was doing.
Shaking himself from his thoughts, Wei Wuxian opened his guitar case. Slowly, as if he was handling a new-born baby, he brought out the guitar inside. Then, he started to play.
He started with a low melody at first, a low melody that, paired with the beating of the rain, seemed to create a mellow effect that people could not help but pause and listen to. Wei Wuxian let his fingers travel in precise control and when he was sure of an audience, only then did he pick up the tempo, fingers flying across the strings and eyes pulled in concentration. Wei Wuxian could not sing, he had discovered that a long time ago. So instead, he let his guitar do the singing for him, let his skilled hands captivate the audience without the need of a voice to accompany it.
Across the road from Wei Wuxian, a man stepped out of a sleek car. The man was wearing a light grey bespoke suit, every stitch tailored made for his body. The man was quite tall, his entire stature seemed overbearing. Despite the heavy rain, he was wearing dark sunglasses, shoulder length hair slicked back, not a strand out of place. He had a fair face, as if he was not used to the sunlight and despite the shades on his face, one couldn’t help but be drawn to him. The man frowned as he glanced at his watch before looking out to the endless traffic.
“Brother, there’s a subway just across the road. I’ll go on ahead.” The man said briefly to his companion waiting inside the car.
“Wangji, you’re not used to riding the subway, the traffic….”
“We don’t know how long it’ll take to let up, and this deal with Zhong group is too important not to have either of us there to precede over it. I’ll be fine.” The man, Lan Wangji, assured.
His brother sighed; eyes fond as he regarded Lan Wangji. From childhood he had always been obstinate and never went back on his word, Lan Xichen could only nod in permission, knowing nothing would change his brother’s mind. Lan Wangji grabbed his briefcase, said a brief goodbye to his brother and then crossed the road.
The rain continued to beat down heavily, bouncing off Lan Wangji’s black umbrella as he approached the subway station. He could hear the faint sound of a guitar, a melody that seemed sad and mellow yet with an undertone of joy all at once. Despite his hurry, Lan Wangji could not help but pause in his steps, ears captivated by that melody. Glancing at his watch, Lan Wangji sighed before making his way towards the source of the sound.
A man was sat on the ground, and he seemed to pay no mind to the splatter of puddles around him. His eyes were pulled tight in concentration on his guitar. Despite the dirt on his face and clothes, the man was obviously beautiful in a rugged, unkempt sort of way. His thin lips were pulled into a soft smile as he played, staring at nothing in particular. Lan Wangji could not help but notice that his left eye was a milky colour, a sign that the man was blind in his left eye. And Lan Wangji, who did not care about anybody beyond his brother and uncle, could not help but wonder what happened to this man that blinded his left eye.
The man seemed to realise a shift in the air and he suddenly looked up, eyes meeting Lan Wangji’s. Lan Wangji watched as his eyes widened with curiosity. He frowned slightly, head tilting just a bit to peek at Lan Wangji underneath his umbrella and despite his movements, his fingers did not cease their flawless playing. He was obviously very skilled.
The man smiled when he had gotten his fill, and his eyes twinkled mischievously.
“How handsome.” He mouthed, eyes locking on to Lan Wangji’s to make sure he knew the compliment was directed at him. Lan Wangji felt his heart stutter, a cough escaping from his lips and he did not miss the light laugh from the man’s lips as he turned away, attention pulled by something else. Only then did Lan Wangji look back at the man, at his beautiful lips pulled into that soft smile and Lan Wangji did not think twice. He reached into his pocket, and before he knew what he was doing, he had dropped several yuan into the man’s guitar case before swiftly walking away.
Wei Wuxian watched him go, eyes wide in disbelief at the money laying inside his case. Thinking quickly, he packed up, fingers tightening around the wad of money before rushing inside the subway. He could see a light grey suit up ahead, the man’s tall stature had to miss in the crowd. Wei Wuxian picked up his pace, weaving through the crowd with desperation.
“Hey wait!” Wei Wuxian called, yet the man did not hear, stepping inside the train. Wei Wuxian continued, pushing through the crowd until he was at the front, when the man finally turned back. The man tilted his head, the rain droplets on his fair neck glistening under the harsh glare of the lights.
“Did you—” Wei Wuxian paused to catch his breath, then he held up the money, “did you make a mistake?”
The man’s eyes travelled to Wei Wuxian’s hand, and Wei Wuxian had the impression that flowers were blooming as he smiled. The doors of the train closed then and Wei Wuxian watched, enthralled as it drove away, taking the man with him.