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at the end of the road, there is you

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

The rare smile that Wei Wuxian had witnessed on Lan Wangji was all but gone as he stepped out of the station an hour later. The rain had let up by then, though the clouds remained, threatening another bout of rain. Lan Wangji paused for a second as he stared at the imposing building across the street, the words Lan Enterprise in bold lettering. The building was recently constructed, a tall, glass structure with endless windows. The structure had been his brother’s idea, a way to make sure that whatever part of the building they were in, they would be able to feel the warmth of the sun. Lan Wangji thought they was probably a metaphor behind those words, but he didn’t think too much on it.

As Lan Wangji walked to cross the road, his mind drifted and the image of an unkempt man with skilful hands drilled its way into his thoughts. The man’s easy smile as he played his guitar, the twinkle in his eyes when he looked up and spotted Lan Wangji, the unabashed way he had complimented him. And then chased after him to – did he want to return the money? Lan Wangji found that he could not shake off the man’s thoughts no matter how much he tried. However, he also knew the possibility of seeing the man again was small.

Lan Wangji did not care for conduct like his uncle did, nor was he an elitist by any means. Regardless, him and the man did not run in the same social circle and therefore spotting him again was impossible. Besides, there were plenty of subway stations in the world and the man had probably packed up and moved to another destination by now.

Lan Wangji could only hope that wherever the man was now, he was safe and warm.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Lan Wangji’s face turned stony and impassive once more and he entered his company. Calls of ‘Mr Lan’ followed as he briskly walked towards his personal elevator, an impenetrable aura surrounding him.

“You know if you keep squinting like that, you’ll get a headache.”

Lan Wangji stopped, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the only person in the company brave enough to interrupt him and speak so plainly to him.

“Wen Qing.” Lan Wangji greeted.

Wen Qing smiled; red lips pulled into a grin Lan Wangji could only describe as annoying. “Friends for so long and you still won’t call me Qing-Qing.”

Regarding her with a look that could only describe ‘I’ll call you Qing-Qing when pigs fly’, Lan Wangji continued walking. He didn’t have to look back to know Wen Qing would follow. “Have Zhong group arrived yet?”

“No. We got a call from them earlier that they’d arrive late, along with a ‘we’re so sorry’ bullshit apology.” Wen Qing explained, pressing the bell for Lan Wangji’s personal elevator without hesitation.

“You—”

“I—what? Why would I cram into an elevator with sweaty people when my best friend’s the CEO?”

“You use it when I’m not here?”

Wen Qing’s only response was a snort that indicated, ‘of course I do.’

“How come you’re not with your brother anyway? The beautiful Lan brothers’ aesthetic only works properly when your brother’s here to mellow out your grumpiness you know.”

Not for the first time in the years that Lan Wangji had known Wen Qing, he wished he could travel back to the past and stop himself from hiring her that cold day in winter three years ago.

“Traffic. I took the subway.”

A dramatic gasp erupted from Wen Qing’s lips and the poor employees outside could only wonder what was happening inside the CEO’s personal elevator. “Subway? And you didn’t get lost?”

“You do know I can fire you, right? You know that?”

“You do know I’m your only friend, right? You know that?”

Lan Wangji sighed, and he pointedly turned away to indicate he was done with the conversation.

“Are you really worried about Zhong group?” Wen Qing asked, knowing there was something else bothering Lan Wangji.

“I don’t know why uncle insists on this deal with them it’s—”

“The best way to solidify Lan Enterprise in the western market, you know that.” Wen Qing reminded.

Lan Wangji sighed, eyes turning into slits, “they’re not clean.”

Wen Qing laughed, nudging Lan Wangji’s shoulder slightly, “and we are?”

Lan Wangji could not respond to that. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, Lan Enterprise was not clean. No matter how much Lan Wangji tried, no matter how much he wanted to continue to realise his mother’s dream, he could not. Once again, he found his thoughts drifting to that man at the station, with the way he had smiled freely like the sun shining through a cloudy day. That man, Lan Wangji suddenly found that he wanted to know his name.

 

The man in question, Wei Wuxian, was not having the best day.

Wei Wuxian groaned for the thousandth time.

The rain had been relentless all afternoon and even Wei Wuxian could not help but frown as he realised the implications if it continued to rain. The sun was now starting its descent, a soft pink colour that stretched across the horizon like cotton candy blanketing the earth. Ahead, a rainbow had formed, vibrant and kaleidoscopic and Wei Wuxian could not help but pause to admire it. But that admiration soon turned into discontent as he realised his predicament.

The rain he had so desperately wished for in the afternoon had come, and he had been glad then but now. A shiver blew through Wei Wuxian’s bones as he finally realised; he did not have a place to sleep tonight.

On a normal day, Wei Wuxian would have been fine camping out under the bridge close to the subway station. The bridge had been there long before Wei Wuxian was born, and he was quite sure it’d be there even after he died. On a normal night, after he had finished with busking for the day, he’d stop by the bakery close by and purchase some food for the night before making his way to his corner under the bridge. Even when it was cold, some other homeless person would start a fire using god knows what and Wei Wuxian would have been warm, uncomfortable yes, but warm.

However, he knew the unspoken rule. When it rained, sleeping under the bridge was detrimental to his health. Firstly, the ground would be soaked so even if he wanted to, sleeping would not be possible. Moreover, it was autumn now, Wei Wuxian was not seeking death quite yet. Sleeping under the bridge in such conditions would be asking for pneumonia.

And the station, Wei Wuxian could only wince at the amount of beatings he had received from patrol guards to know sleeping inside the station would not be possible.

With a groan, Wei Wuxian tugged at his messy strands of hair, eyebrows pulled together in frustration. He was just thinking to risk camping outside the station for the night when he finally remembered… the man from earlier. The tall man in the grey suit who had left behind hundreds in yuan and…

Wei Wuxian dug around his guitar case, fingers bringing out the content inside. A sleek, black, credit card with gold accents. In his rush, the man had probably not realised he had thrown a credit card inside Wei Wuxian’s case alongside the money and the train had whisked him away before Wei Wuxian could return it.

Judging by the man’s expensive attire, and his lack of hesitation and throwing hundreds of yuan to a stranger, Wei Wuxian knew he was most likely incredibly rich. He also knew the man would probably not miss this credit card, at least for a few days. Maybe even if he withdrew a few thousand, or spent a few thousand, the man would not notice it until it was too late.

And Wei Wuxian? He was hungry, he was cold, and he was tired. However, despite debating with himself since the card came into his possession, he knew he could not spend a dime from it. It was a stupid decision and for a homeless, half blind, starving man, it was a very stupid decision. But Wei Wuxian had also seen that man smile. It was a soft kind of smile, as if he was not used to doing it much and Wei Wuxian found that when thinking about that smile, he could not bare to use the man’s money as he pleased.

So, Wei Wuxian could only tuck the stupid black card inside his shirt for safekeeping.

“Now what, Wei Ying… since you wanna be a moral idiot… what now?” Wei Wuxian whispered to himself softly, voice coming out shaky.

Picking up his guitar case, Wei Wuxian started to walk. As he made his slow trek towards the bakery, all around, various lights started to turn on in preparation for the night. The traffic from earlier had finally let up and the sound of the honking cars had finally ceased. Wei Wuxian watched as up ahead, children rushed around on the streets, with no qualms for the cold or the rain or for safety. Laughter rang from their lips as if they had no care in the world and a slight tinge of pain blossomed on Wei Wuxian’s heart then.

He wondered when he let life pass him by like this, when he allowed his childhood to be snatched and allowed himself to get to the stage he was at now. Fingers touching his left eyelid, Wei Wuxian gave a snort of contempt, though he did not know if that contempt was at the world or for himself. The sun had completely disappeared by then, and the cloudy skies seemed to resemble Wei Wuxian’s melancholic mood. He found that he suddenly did not want to continue to move, every step he took seemed to shake him to his core.

Wei Wuxian did not know if it was the rain or his tears that streamed down as his face as he plopped onto a nearby bench. Placing his guitar case tightly to his chest, he closed his eyes and allowed exhaustion to seep in.

The last thing Wei Wuxian thought before he slept was that he really was an idiot because sleeping under the bridge would have been a better choice after all.

Chapter Text

The first thing Wei Wuxian felt upon blearily waking up was a drop of water on his cheek. In his half awake, half asleep state, he slowly rose, every inch of his body crying out in pain. Firstly, he checked to make sure his guitar was still by his side and that the credit card was still safely tucked inside his shirt before he begrudgingly opened his eyes. He surveyed his surrounding slowly; the previous gloomy sky of yesterday had been replaced by a vibrant blue and the sun relentlessly shone once more. Life had woken up while Wei Wuxian was sleeping and he watched as people hurried towards their destinations, school kids coming out in hordes and tired parents on their way to work.

As Wei Wuxian yawned, he used slender fingers to touch his wet cheek, frowning slightly as he wondered what could possibly have dropped on him considering the clear sky. As his left peripheral vision was useless, Wei Wuxian had to physically turn his head to the left and that’s when he saw it. The cause of the drop of water. A dog, a dog with quite a lot of drool dripping from its open mouth regarding Wei Wuxian with curiosity.

All at once, Wei Wuxian felt his blood turn cold, as if someone had cruelly dumped a bucket of ice water over his body. The sleepiness disappeared from his eyes and he opened them wide, fingers already curling around his guitar case in preparation to run. Images started to flash by in Wei Wuxian’s mind then, of cruel fingers digging into his skin, of the blood that seeped from his legs that night in spring as he ran from that house, that woman.

A fear that Wei Wuxian was familiar with came next, rooting its way into his bones until all he could see was the red lips and the menacing eyes, the long black nails and the way that woman had walked towards him, taunting smile on her lips. The way she had stroked his cheek, digging in without a care in the world and seemed to enjoy the pain she was inflicting upon Wei Wuxian.

“Fuck.” Came out of Wei Wuxian’s mouth. All thoughts of discomfort in his body forgotten as he gripped his guitar case tight.

Then, he ran. He ran as images of the past swirled in his mind and his breathing started to come out unevenly, and his chest felt tight to the point where he was under the illusion that he could not breathe. The hands gripping his guitar case shook as he ran, eyes wide with fear. Up ahead, he could see that familiar subway station.

It had opened for the morning and passengers moved in and out; parents taking their kids to school, workers in a hurry to get to their jobs and people. Wei Wuxian ran until he collapsed on the steps of the station, not paying any mind to the startled gasps of the people around him. With his guitar case on his lap, he held his head in his hands, unable to contain the panic in his chest.

People passed by Wei Wuxian, as if choregraphed, they weaved around him as if he was a mere speck of dirt on the ground. Some would glance at him from time to time, mostly children who couldn’t help but point and ask their parents who that strange man was. However, not one person stopped, not one person stopped to ask if the man sitting on the steps of the subway station with tears in his eyes was okay. And Wei Wuxian? He felt he deserved it.

 

***

 

Across the city in a high-rise penthouse stood Lan Wangji. There was a frown on his face as he glanced down below; his eyes looked tired, an obvious sign that he had not slept. Despite this, however, he looked at peace as he crossed his arms slightly, the thoughts in his head unknown. The peace was broken by the sound of a phone and Lan Wangji sighed softly before picking it up.

“Uncle.” He greeted.

“Wangji. Did you sleep well?” A voice that Lan Wangji was familiar with yet unfamiliar with spoke. Lan Wangji could not remember the last time he saw Lan Qiren, this uncle of his that his mother had entrusted him to before she died.

“You know I didn’t.” Lan Wangji answered.

He could hear the frown in his uncle’s voice as he replied, “the sleeping pills aren’t working? Or the penthouse?”

Lan Wangji resisted a scoff as he glanced at his dimly lit apartment. In true Lan fashion, the apartment was a monochrome style, high windows covered every inch in order to let the sunlight in. Lan Wangji was currently stood in this living room, a carefully decorated thing. His uncle had obviously requested the designer go crazy with shades of grey as it was different shades of grey (Lan Wangji did not even know grey had shades) that could be seen in every corner of the room. Monochromatic paintings in subtle shades of blue, green and purple lined the walls, however, and Lan Wangji supposed that was Lan Qiren’s way of trying to suit his aesthetics.

Lan Qiren had gifted him the penthouse with glee, claiming that one of his golf friends had recommended high-rise penthouses for people with insomnia like Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji could only accept the penthouse, all the while thinking that it was lucky him and his brother had a firm grasp on business, or his uncle would have surely been swindled out of everything he owned.

“I will visit Doctor Bai and request for a higher dosage.” Lan Wangji suggested before his uncle could.

“Very well. Take care of yourself.”

Lan Wangji knew, although his uncle loved him in his own way, he definitely did not call to inquire about his health.

“Did uncle want to discuss something with me?”

Sure enough, Lan Qiren heaved a sigh before he answered, “Wangji… about your marriage.”

“Uncle—”

“Listen to me before you say no. Zhong Chunhua is a lovely girl and will inherit the Zhong group in the future. We’ve just signed a partnership with Zhong group yesterday this—we must strike while the iron is hot.”

“I trust your judgement, I do. But we do not need a marriage to strengthen our partnership with Zhong group.” Of course, if it were up to Lan Wangji, they would not have a partnership in the first place.

“But it wouldn’t hurt! Just meet Zhong Chunhua first before making a judgement.”

Lan Wangji almost burst out a cynical “do I have a choice?”

“When should I meet her?” he asked instead.

“Tonight. The car will pick you up at seven.”

Lan Wangji’s thoughts drifted as Lan Qiren continued speaking, the image of a man at the subway station entering his head before he could stop it. And before he knew what he was doing, he spoke, “uncle… send me the name of the restaurant too. So I can dress accordingly to their dress code.”

The car may be sent for him at seven, but Lan Wangji—he would take the subway.

Chapter Text

It had begun to rain once again when Lan Wangji exited the taxi.

Rain battered against his umbrella as he made his way across the road towards the subway station. Despite the heavy rain, the sun shone brilliantly as if it was determined to resist the rain. A sense of déjà vu filled Lan Wangji as he took measured steps, one hand in his pocket. Despite having no intention to have a second date, talk about marriage, with Zhong Chunhua, Lan Wangji had made an effort with his appearance.

As Lan Wangji neared the station, his heart seemed to beat just a little bit faster until the hand holding on to the umbrella could not help but shake slightly. As it usually was on a rainy day, the subway station was packed; groups of people moving like sardines in a strangely orderly fashion. Lan Wangji could hear the subtle sound of a guitar from the distance and his legs moved towards the sound as if on their own accord.

In front of him sat the man from yesterday, hair falling across his eyes. Unlike yesterday, the soft smile on the man’s face was no longer present and his eyes were slightly drooped. The song he was playing also carried a tinge of melancholy, as if everything the man was feeling were being transmitted through the strings.

The joy from his music was gone and Lan Wangji could only wonder what happened between yesterday and today for it to be like this.

Reaching his hand inside his pocket, Lan Wangji retrieved his wallet. He would drop money like yesterday and leave just as quickly. Lan Wangji did not know what he had aimed to achieve by disregarding his uncle and choosing to take the subway instead, did not know why that man’s music was stuck in his head like a broken record on loop.

Lan Wangji bent down, eyes trailing across the man’s features when he finally seemed to snap into attention. Lan Wangji watched as the man’s eyes widened, one milky and one grey. And, as if the sadness was just an imagination, a smile flitted on to the man’s lips as if the one he had been waiting for had finally come.

“It’s you.” Wei Wuxian whispered, fingers stilling their movements and eyes turning into crescents.

Lan Wangji, who was usually speechless, was even more so at this moment.

“I’m glad you’re back so quick I don’t know how much longer my morals would have stopped me from—” Wei Wuxian stopped his voice and reached into his pocket, “anyway here you go.”

Lan Wangji looked down at his hands holding a black card with gold lettering.

“This is—”

“Your card. You dropped it with the money last time which is why I ran after you to return it.” Wei Wuxian explained.

Lan Wangji thought back then, to how he had chased after him and asked if he made a mistake. Lan Wangji had arrogantly thought then that the man was referring to the amount of money dropped, he did not expect that in his haste he’d actually chucked his card alongside the money.

“I didn’t—you can check with your bank or whatever, I didn’t spend a single penny from it.” Wei Wuxian quickly said as he saw the look on Lan Wangji’s face. Lan Wangji frowned slightly, head tilting as if in contemplation.

“Come with me.” Lan Wangji said and without waiting for the man’s response, he walked on ahead.

Sure enough, when he turned around to look, the man had hastily packed up his equipment and quickly followed him.

“What’s your name?” Lan Wangji asked, fingers playing with the card in his hand.

“Wei Wuxian.” Wei Wuxian answered, “and I know you are Lan Zhan from your card.”

Lan Wangji opened his mouth, ready to correct him from using his birth name so carelessly when he stopped despite himself. If the man, no, if Wei Wuxian had already got used to him as Lan Zhan then there was no harm in letting him continue calling him that.

Lan Wangji walked in silence, steering Wei Wuxian easily inside a restaurant close to the station. He watched with keen interest as Wei Wuxian first secured his guitar case underneath the table, before sitting down cautiously, eyes flickering in all directions as if looking for a hidden trap.

“Order whatever you want.” Lan Wangji spoke after a while, all thoughts of the fact that he was meant to be meeting a certain Zhong Chunhua completely forgotten.

“Am I in trouble?” Wei Wuxian responded, and Lan Wangji almost laughed at that.

“If you thought you were in trouble, why would you readily come with me?”

“I don’t think I’d really be able to run from you if you wanted to find me. It’d be better to come with you and make you take pity on me.”

“This is a thanks. For keeping my card safe.” Lan Wangji said, lips almost lifting in a smile.

“You believe me?”

“No. I had it checked on our way here and like you said, nothing’s been taking out of the account. Sorry, I’m not the kind to trust people easily no matter how pitiable they look.”

Wei Wuxian’s smiled at that, the kind of smile that contained a hidden sadness that Lan Wangji could not fathom. “That’s a good mindset to have.” He stated.

Lan Wangji had a feeling there was something else that Wei Wuxian wanted to say, however, he simply flagged down a waiter. He watched as Wei Wuxian tentatively ordered a few items off the menu and it was only when the waiter left that he leaned forward, eyes piercing into Wei Wuxian’s.

“Why didn’t you spend anything on the card?” Lan Wangji asked.

“Do you want me to spend your money?”

“If I was in your position and something like that fell into my lap due to someone else’s carelessness, I’d certainly take full advantage of it.”

“Oh? And what if you had noticed? You seem pretty powerful. If you had noticed and came after me, how would I have been able to defend myself?”

“You could have spent maybe a couple of hundreds every month. Just enough to sustain yourself but enough that I would not notice. Surely you must have thought about it, so why didn’t you?” Lan Wangji replied.

Wei Wuxian nodded and also leaned forward just a little bit. “I didn’t spend anything on that card because it was the right thing to do.”

Despite the air of elegance that Lan Wangji always tried to maintain, he could not help but snort at this, “that’s stupid.”

Wei Wuxian paused, and then as if he had heard the best joke of his life, he threw his head back in laughter, eyes turning into crescents. Lan Wangji watched with rapt attention, feeling that he was unable to look away from that smile, from the way this man in front of him, despite the dirt on his face, looked stunning.

“Yeah I know.” Wei Wuxian answered after he had finished laughing, an easy-going grin flying to his lips.

“So then…”

“Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian began and Lan Wangji’s fingers shook slightly at the direct mention of his name. “I have only three things to my name. One is the clothes on my back, two is this guitar of mine. And the third, is my morals. When you are hungry and cold and you’ve lost everything, your morality should be the last thing to matter. And I’m not gonna lie and say that there hasn’t been a time where I’d disregarded these morals of mine. But as of right now, my morals make up the third thing to my name and I don’t want to let it go for anything. It is stupid, but if I let it go, I let myself go and I don’t want to do that again.

Lan Wangji fell silent at that and Wei Wuxian knew he had just said things that would have obviously made the other uncomfortable. Plastering on a smile, he lightly poked at Lan Wangji’s wrist, “but now that you’ve said it’s okay, just accidentally leave your card with me again and I promise to spend every last penny on it!”

Lan Wangji remained silent and Wei Wuxian could only continue his poking, “Lan Zhan, pretend to laugh with me at least to get rid of the awkwardness.”

Lan Wangji finally looked up and the rare smile Wei Wuxian had witnessed was once again back on his face.

Outside, the rain had stopped, and the sun finally gained the upper hand, shining brilliantly and illuminating the restaurant with a red hue. It shone through the windows and seemed to fill the entire restaurant with a sort of warmth Wei Wuxian could feel down to his bones. Lan Wangji’s voice was bathed in that warmth as he finally opened his mouth.

“I have a job for you, if you’d like.” He said.

Chapter Text

“I have a job for you, if you’d like.” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian furrowed his brows, wondering how the conversation had made such a sudden shift.

“Do you know of Lan Enterprise?” Lan Wangji asked, eyes never leaving Wei Wuxian’s face to watch for his reaction.

“The one run by the Lan’s? By Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen?” Wei Wuxian responded.

Lan Wangji nodded, “you know of it then.”

“How could I not?” Wei Wuxian responded with a scoff. “They’re in the papers almost every day of the week. I feel like I know Lan Xichen’s face more than I know my own with how much I see of him.”

As Wei Wuxian talked, something finally clicked in him and he abruptly glanced up, eyes locking with Lan Wangji’s. The same high nose bridge, the same curve of the lips, their eyes almost identical save for Lan Wangji’s mysterious golden eyes. No wonder Wei Wuxian felt that something about this man seemed familiar.

“Lan Zhan… Lan. Of course. You’re twins?”

Lan Wangji almost laughed at that, “he’s my older brother.”

“Are you sure? You two look too similar except…”

“He smiles more, I know.”

Wei Wuxian was actually about to shamelessly say, “except you’re just a bit more good looking” but he quickly curbed his words, nodding instead.

“How come—” Wei Wuxian paused, debating whether it would be appropriate to speak. Lan Wangji, who seemed in tune with him gave a brief nod, as if he knew what was in Wei Wuxian’s mind.

“Speak freely. I don’t mind.”

“How come you’re never in the papers with them? No offence, Lan Zhan, but if you have a high position in the company, no one else knows. I doubt us regular folk even know there’s a younger Lan brother.”

“Mn. I prefer it that way.” Lan Wangji responded.

Wei Wuxian no longer probed. “So, the job?”

“Since you know of Lan Enterprise, then you know we’re in the textile business.”

“At least that’s what the public thinks.”

Lan Wangji raised an eyebrow, “what, you think we deal in something else?”

Wei Wuxian shrugged, matching Lan Wangji’s gaze, “I just don’t understand why people in the textile business would have dinner with the president every other week. Doesn’t your uncle frequently meet with the president?”

Lan Wangji’s face betrayed no emotion, but inside, he could not help but be surprised at how strangely perceptive this man in front of him seemed to be. He was correct that the textile business was just a cover up and he had managed to deduce that purely from how close Lan Qiren was to the current president. Even Lan Wangji had been fooled at one point when he was younger and wholeheartedly believe they were purely in the textile business. It wasn’t until his uncle had decided he was ready to learn the truth that he finally realised just how unclean they really were.

“I need a PA.” Lan Wangji responded, swiftly avoiding Wei Wuxian’s question. Wei Wuxian tacitly nodded along, knowing that there were certain things that would probably not be easy to say. Especially not to a stranger.

“And you want me as your PA?”

“I currently only have three people I can trust. One is my brother, the second, my uncle and the third, a friend of mine. I want you to be the fourth.”

“Oh?”

Lan Wangji gave a brief smile, eyes darting to the waiter who was approaching with their meal. He waited until the waiter had placed the various dishes on the table before he looked at Wei Wuxian once more. He saw the hesitation in his eyes as he glanced down at the dishes as if he couldn’t wait to devour them, yet he stopped himself as if asking for permission. Lan Wangji picked up his fork and took a small bite of his food and it was only then that Wei Wuxian tucked in, bliss written on his face.

Lan Wangji could only wonder when the last time was that he’d had a hot meal like this.

“Why would you want me as your PA?” Wei Wuxian asked after a while.

“I think your actions of choosing morals over survival is stupid.”

Wei Wuxian laughed again, “why does it seem like you want me to spend your money so bad?”

“Stupid. But it also shows your character. It shows that you’re someone trustworthy.”

“Trustworthy? What if that was my plan though? To get in your good grace. After all, you’d be more likely to want to reward a man that seems honest over one that steals your money.”

“If that was the case, you’d have to account for me not coming back to the station. Or what if I discovered the card missing and I simply cancelled it instead of looking for it? Simply stealing instead of playing the long game would be smarter. Correct?”

“Honestly Lan Zhan, you’re a masochist, aren’t you? Why does everything lead back to you encouraging me to steal from you?” Wei Wuxian joked.

“As for the job… I’m not sure I can accept.” Wei Wuxian added.

Lan Wangji scrutinised him and yet did not say anything. Reaching into his pocket, he produced a business card which he slid across the table. Next, he took out his wallet and retrieved a credit card which he also slid across the table.

“That card should have enough to last you maybe six months. As thanks for returning my card. I won’t force you either.”

Wei Wuxian glanced down at the two cards on the table before focusing on Lan Wangji’s golden eyes, “that’s it?”

“Mn.” Lan Wangji answered. He stood up, lightly dusting off the creases on his suit and glancing at his watch and it was only then that Zhong Chunhua finally crossed his mind.

“My personal number is on that card. If you change your mind, call me.” He said.

Offering Wei Wuxian a small nod, he exited the restaurant without a backward glance.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian bit into a chocolate doughnut, thoughts straying in all sorts of directions. He was sat in front of the subway station, guitar case fiercely secured to his side. The world was just waking up and the soft purple sunrise overhead mellowed out Wei Wuxian’s mood. The grime that had been present on Wei Wuxian’s face was gone, his hair had been neatly washed and trimmed and was now tied messily atop his head. His clothes too were brand new, and the jacket he wore was soft and warm. In this way, one could finally see the man underneath the usual dirt and those who were familiar with him could not help but double take when they saw him.

It had been a long time since they saw such a clean Wei Wuxian after all, and they suddenly remembered that this man was actually quite beautiful. His face was small and slender due to the obvious lack of daily meals, and his eyes were a bit sunken too. Despite this though, there was a beauty to him that could not be denied. Especially when he smiled; those faint red lips had the bewitching power to hook one’s heart so that they could not look away. And right now, as he bit into his doughnut in peace, Wei Wuxian could not help but to smile.

A job?

Reaching into his coat’s pocket, he retrieved the sleek, icy blue business card Lan Wangji had handed to him and recalled the look on Lan Wangji’s face when he had proposed the job to him, the smile on his lips that seemed to feel the entire restaurant with a radiance.

Wei Wuxian, though he looked clueless, was actually not an idiot by any means. Lan Enterprise certainly presented themselves as being in the textile business, but Wei Wuxian had dealt with his fair share in life to know that was most likely a cover up. And while Wei Wuxian did want stability and he wanted a roof over his head, he would not throw himself at anything or anyone just for that sake. Not again.

The credit card that Lan Wangji had presented him did indeed have quite a lot on it and Wei Wuxian surmised that he could rent a small apartment with it. Although Wei Wuxian would strongly hold on to his morals, he was not that stupid either. It was justifiable for him not to spend the money the first time considering it was an accident. But with Lan Wangji willingly handing him the card this time around, to continue hanging on to morality would be a foolish move.

Wei Wuxian was sure that with his current clean image, finding a part time job would hopefully go more smoothly. Perhaps working endlessly as a waiter would not be as glamorous as being Lan Wangji’s personal assistant, however, it would be safer. And maybe then he could finally properly focus on his music.

Over the years, his passion for his music had turned into a means to earn money; his youthful dreams of being a famous musician had all been forgotten, even more so when he lost one eye. But maybe—maybe he finally had a chance after all. It would be slow and hard, and Wei Wuxian was unsure if he would ever make it, but he had to try after all.

Thinking up to there, Wei Wuxian opened his guitar case and he neatly tucked Lan Wangji’s business card inside a fold.

He knew Lan Wangji giving him that card with that amount of money on it was by no means a small thing. This man who did not seem to be used to smiling, who seemed calculating and apparently did not have a lot of people to trust had helped him and nor did he try to force him. He had given him the money without expecting anything in return.

He had given him a start and Wei Wuxian could only offer silent words of thanks which he hoped the wind would carry to Lan Wangji’s ears. He was not expecting to see Lan Wangji ever again.

Bending down, Wei Wuxian gripped his guitar case tightly and, just like Lan Wangji had done the night before, he did not look back as he walked away from the subway station, held head high for the first time in a long time.

Chapter Text

A slight breeze blew into Wei Wuxian’s clothes and he sighed for possibly the millionth time that night. He leaned against the door, eyes travelling to the stray cats fighting for scraps in the distance. The smallest of the cats, a pure black with a white spot on his nose fought the hardest, teeth bared in a threatening manner as if to warn the others. Wei Wuxian watched in silence, eyebrows furrowing and thoughts drifting to a past he did not want to remember.

That woman’s cruel eyes seemed to imprint upon his mind, blood red fingernails grazing against his neck and smile hiding a touch of malice that Wei Wuxian could not help but pick up on. He remembered the way he had stood frigidly, allowing those fingernails to play with his neck as they pleased until the woman finally dropped her pretence and her mouth had hardened into a thin line and—

Wei Wuxian found that he was gasping, fingers around his own throat before he had realised as the world seemed to blur. His hair fell around him in strands and despite the cold breeze, sweat had gathered on his forehead and his entire body felt hot. His left eye seemed to buzz with the pain he had felt when he lost it and even though he knew it was all in his head, he could not stop the tears that threatened to pool from his eyes.

That was how his co-worker found him.

Jiang Cheng stepped out of the dimly lit restaurant, both hands holding on to a trash bag and cigarette dangling off his lips. Finding Wei Wuxian crouching against the door, he swiftly ran forward, trash bags still in his hands and Wei Wuxian would have laughed at how comical the whole thing was if he didn’t feel suffocated.

“Wei Wuxian what the fuck is wrong with you?” Jiang Cheng asked, and Wei Wuxian really wanted to ask then, is this how you comfort someone?

However, he could only force a smile, waving off Jiang Cheng’s concerned expression.

“I’m fine.” He managed to choke out after a while, finally straightening his back.

Wei Wuxian was not fine, he had not been fine for a long time now, however, he knew he had to be. He had to continue moving forward, grasping at every ounce of opportunity that came his way and live. If not for himself, he had to live for his mother at least, he owed her that much.

Jiang Cheng scrutinised him for a while, seeming as if to say something before he shook his head, turning to dispose the trash bags. Wei Wuxian noticed that he also disposed of his cigarette, a habit he had developed once he noticed his discomfort a few months ago.

“Boss wants you to wait on a table, said it’s some influential family and in his own words, you can’t fuck up.”

Wei Wuxian frowned, not really in the mood to deal with a table, especially not an influential family. In the four months Wei Wuxian had been working as a waiter, he’d quickly understood that influential was just another word to describe demanding.

“Do it for me? I’ll give you all my tips for the month.”

“I’d do it for you for free if it were any other family but it’s the Zhong family this time around and even I can’t deal with it. I once waited on them and I was ready to give up my life to god by the end of the shift.”

Wei Wuxian had been impassive up until that point but once he heard the word Zhong, his interested unnaturally piqued.

“Zhong? Is it the same Zhong family that partnered with Lan Enterprise four months ago?” Wei Wuxian asked, and Jiang Cheng nodded.

“The same one. The mother and father are easy to deal with and Zhong Chunhua is lovely enough, but her brother—” speaking up to here, Jiang Cheng visibly shivered.

Wei Wuxian did not have to ask to know what he meant by that. Zhong Chunhua’s twin brother, Zhong Haoran, was after all someone he knew. The very definition of a wastrel rich second generation who frequently turned up on gossip sites and newspapers for his behaviour. Wei Wuxian rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming up by the minute.

“Then, wish me luck.” He said, patting Jiang Cheng’s shoulder as he walked inside the restaurant without delay.

The first thing Wei Wuxian did when he left that subway station four months ago was to rent a small apartment using Lan Wangji’s card. Once he had situated himself and used a portion of the money to buy his necessities, he had sought out job after job. With his barely there qualifications, it was no surprise to him that it was not easy to find a job.

So when he had been offered a waitering job, he had taken it without hesitation. The restaurant was situated downtown, two hours away from his apartment and Wei Wuxian often had to wake up at the earliest of times to make his eight hours shift. However, he knew from experience that beggars could not be choosers and he had accepted his fate without complaint.

The restaurant was simply named Bai and although it was not targeted towards wealthy patrons, it did not stop them frequenting it. This was because the owner was a renowned chef who had decided to leave his position in order to start up his own restaurant. So while Wei Wuxian would never have even glimpsed an influential family like the Zhongs in the past, he now had the unfortunate pleasure to serve them up close.

Wei Wuxian first went to his boss, listening with rapt attention towards his instructions before he swiftly tidied himself up, and plastering on a smile, he made his way to the table.

The first thing he noticed, or rather smelled when he arrived was a strong floral scent, lavender and other ingredients he could not quite place. He first glanced at the Zhong husband and wife, a couple in their mid-50s, who sat stiffly, lips pulled into a thin line as if nothing or no one could make them smile. On the other side of the table sat the heiress Zhong Chunhua, inky black hair pulled into a tight bun that had Wei Wuxian wondering how terribly hurt her scalp must be. Zhong Chunhua was described as beautiful by all who met her, and Wei Wuxian had to agree. She had a sort of innocence to her face; her lips were full and tinged with a dusty pink and her cheekbones were high and rosy. Her brown eyes sparkled as she glanced up at Wei Wuxian and she offered him a polite smile.

Next to her was her twin brother, Zhong Haoran. Unlike his family, his posture was all arrogance, his black hair cropped impossibly short and a thin scar running across his cheek. Wei Wuxian had read that he got that scar after fighting with another second rich generation because of a prostitute. Zhong Haoran, however, was handsome in a rugged sort of way and despite himself, Wei Wuxian thought that he still did not come even a fraction to Lan Wangji’s beauty. He noticed that there was an extra seat at the table currently unoccupied.

Shaking his head free of thoughts, Wei Wuxian launched into his usual dialogue. “Welcome to Bai, I’m Wei Wuxian, and I will be your server for the evening. May I take your order?”

Wei Wuxian decided to face the Zhong couple as a form of respect. From the corner of his eye, he could see Zhong Haoran scrutinising him and Wei Wuxian could only silently pray that they ordered as quickly as possible. He also could not shake off an itching feeling that there was something else about Zhong Haoran that seemed familiar, as if he had seen him somewhere before.

He listened patiently as they gave their order and with a sigh of relief, he scurried away without delay. Zhong Haoran’s eyes watching him go. After recounting the order to the chef, he caught up to Jiang Cheng, hastily throwing his arms around his neck.

“Jiang Cheng!” he whined, “I’ll give you all my tips for 3 months, please take over for me.”

“It couldn’t have been that bad?” Jiang Cheng laughed, allowing Wei Wuxian to cling to him as he pleased. “I was watching from here and Zhong Haoran didn’t do anything to you. Compared to the ice-cold water he chucked at my face; you’ve been luckier than me so far.”

“I’d take ice-cold water over him staring a hole into the back of my head.”

“He keeps staring at you?”

“Yes.” Wei Wuxian whined louder, detangling himself from Jiang Cheng. “It’s uncomfortable, it’s like he knows me.

“Or likes you. Doesn’t he mess around with both men and women?”

“Don’t even joke.” Wei Wuxian laughed along, though as he glanced back at Zhong Haoran, his eyes were still on him. And once again, Wei Wuxian had a feeling as if he had seen him somewhere.

After a round of whining and begging, Wei Wuxian accepted his fate and waited for the chef to finish the order before grabbing the food cart they were placed upon.

“Please don’t stay for dessert.” He muttered to himself as he skilfully placed the food on the table, eyes avoiding Zhong Haoran’s. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he placed the last of the food on the table and made to leave when Zhong Haoran’s voice sounded behind him—

“Wei Ying.”

A shiver passed through Wei Wuxian despite the heat in the room. Did he tell them his name? He did. But he was sure—Wei Wuxian was sure he had not told them of his birth name. He had not told anyone of his birth name in a long time, even Jiang Cheng did not know it so why…

Zhong Haoran chuckled as if he had found something interesting and a chill was laced with his words as he spoke, “I thought so. You are Wei Ying.”

Fuck.

Wei Wuxian turned around, stiff smile on his face as he observed Zhong Haoran.

Where did he know him from?

A million questions swirled through Wei Wuxian’s head until finally, a light passed through his eyes. And sure enough, Zhong Haoran’s next words shook him to his core.

“You’re Wei Ying, right? One of the wh—I mean, From Madame Zhao’s house.” Zhong Haoran addressed him, a teasing smile on his lips as if Wei Wuxian were a toy he was having fun playing with.

Wei Wuxian knew what he was about to say then, “one of the whores from Madame Zhao’s house.”

Wei Wuxian’s eyes widened and it felt as if all eyes were on him. His uniform suddenly felt too tight, the tie at his neck seemed suffocating and he wanted nothing more than to run. Run until he was far, far away from Zhong Haoran and his cruel smile and the way the Zhong family were staring at him as if he were dirt. Even Zhong Chunhua, who had been offering him polite smiles had dropped that smile and was looking at Wei Wuxian as if in a new light.

And why wouldn’t she? Who didn’t know Madame Zhao? Who didn’t know what went on inside Madame Zhao’s house?

Involuntarily, Wei Wuxian took a step back, fingers clenching into his palm as if the pain was all that was keeping him rooted.

Another step back, and he felt his back bump into something. Something sturdy.

Turning around, Wei Wuxian’s widened eyes met with Lan Wangji’s golden ones.

A flash of surprise crossed Lan Wangji’s features as he observed Wei Wuxian.

How much did he hear? Was all Wei Wuxian could think.

The Lan Wangji who had praised him for his morality, who had wanted to hire him for his morality. What would he think if he knew he came from Madame Zhao’s house? That smile Lan Wangji had gave him twice, would Lan Wangji be able to smile at him like that if he knew?

Tears pooled at Wei Wuxian’s eyes before he could help it, and, without waiting for the judgement he was used to, without waiting for Lan Wangji’s image of him to be tainted, he ran.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian did not stop running until the cold, autumn air had hit his face, burning his eyes. Then, he stopped, crouching down as slight shivers involuntarily invaded his body. He could hear his teeth chattering and his breath came out ragged, as if he had been running for a long time with no escape in sight. Faintly, he could hear someone calling his name and without meaning to, his hands stretched up to cover his ears as if he couldn’t bear to hear his own name.

Next, he felt a cool palm against his back as someone repeatedly patted it a bit hesitantly. Wei Wuxian could only shut his eyes, wishing for the person to leave. For everyone to leave and for him to have solitude.

The person didn’t leave though, and Wei Wuxian could only calm his breathes before slowly opening his eyes and glancing up.

Jiang Cheng was crouched in front of him, eyes showing just how worried he was and Wei Wuxian, despite himself, forced a grateful smile on to his lips.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered, voice barely escaping his throat.

What was he sorry for? He did not know. Maybe he was sorry for the mess he was in the past, for the idiot he had been, for the things he had to do in order to survive. Maybe he was sorry for being that stupid Wei Wuxian in the past, the one who had been easily tricked, easily manipulated. He had put his entire trust in the wrong people without expectations of anything back and in the end…

Wei Wuxian scoffed, abruptly standing up.

“What happened in there?” Jiang Cheng asked, also standing up, one arm securely placed on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder as if afraid he would run again.

“Just me overreacting. Zhong Haoran, he—”

“Tried to come on to you?” Jiang Cheng guessed, mouth instantly hardening into a thin line. Rolling up his sleeves, he made to walk back inside, and Wei Wuxian could only laugh helplessly.

“Relax—what, are you going inside to beat him up in front of his family?”

“If he tried to fucking touch you, yeah.”

“As touched as that makes me, please calm down before you end up in jail. And—no, he didn’t do anything like that to me.”

“Then—”

“He just—he knew me from somewhere, and please, I don’t—I don’t want to talk about it but I just, I can’t go back in there.” Wei Wuxian stuttered, the image of Lan Wangji’s surprised face filling up his mind before he could help it. He had only talked to Lan Wangji that night, barely had any impression of him and he was sure Lan Wangji had mostly forgotten him too. But for the first time in a long time, someone had praised his morality, had looked at him in a way that didn’t have any other hidden meanings. Had wanted to place their trust in him instead of the other way around.

And he was sure—he knew Zhong Haoran would be telling Lan Wangji what happened, and Lan Wangji—what would he think then? So Wei Wuxian could not go back inside.

Jiang Cheng watched his face and with a sigh, he nodded, “it’s alright. I just finished with my table so I’ll take over for you, I don’t mind working over time.”

“But your sister—”

“It’s fine. Worst he could do is throw more water on me right? Been there done that already. Just wait for me in the staff room and we can go home together afterwards. And sis will be fine, she’d want me to do this.”

For the third time that day, Wei Wuxian felt tears forming as he regarded Jiang Cheng. The same guy who he had thought would be difficult to get along with when they first met was now the only one willing to stand up for him, to take on his burdens and—Wei Wuxian knew he would go his entire life feeling grateful to him.

“It’s okay. I’ll go back. You have your sister to take care of.” Wei Wuxian answered. Only he knew, even more so now, just how important family were. Wei Wuxian was alone and he was used to that but Jiang Cheng and his sister, they still had each other and Wei Wuxian would not be the one to get in the way of that.

“But—”

“It’s fine, I promise. I’ll go back before I get fired and you go home and take care of your sister okay? It’s our day off tomorrow I’ll come visit you.” Wei Wuxian replied.

He actually didn’t want to do this. He did not want to enter that restaurant again, wanted to run far away from Zhong Haoran and hope their paths never crossed again but he also knew he could not run forever. If not Zhong Haoran, there would be someone else in the future. The life he had chosen for himself in the past would find a way to catch up eventually, he could not run from it forever.

Steeling himself, Wei Wuxian tidied himself before entering the restaurant once more. First, he went to find his boss to apologise before finally making his way back to the table where the Zhongs sat. As he approached, he could see the empty space had been filled by Lan Wangji and their eyes met. Wei Wuxian quickly glanced away, afraid to see just what kind of expression would be in Lan Wangji’s eyes. Would it be disgust and ridicule like everyone else? Pity?

Zhong Haoran was also watching, teasing smirk on his face as Wei Wuxian approached. His tongue darted out briefly to wet his lips and the look in the eyes revealed pure hunger. Wei Wuxian could only thank his lucky stars then that he had managed to avoid having Zhong Haoran as a patron back at Madame Zhao’s house.

“You’re back.” Zhong Haoran said, voice tinging with his teasing intent and Wei Wuxian suppressed the sick feeling threatening to spill out.

“I apologise for my behaviour.” Wei Wuxian answered, facing the Zhong husband and wife. He noticed that they did not look him in the eye and even Zhong Chunhua looked indifferent. Only Lan Wangji observed him before he turned to Zhong Haoran.

“Wei Ying, you’re gonna pretend not to know me?”

Wei Wuxian turned to Zhong Haoran, offering what he hoped would be a polite smile, “It seems young master Haoran knows me from somewhere, but I have no recollection of you. And please, call me Wei Wuxian.”

Wei Wuxian hoped his voice did not betray that he was not as brave as he was letting on. Across the table, Lan Wangji’s eyes flicked to his shaking hands and he frowned slightly. Zhong Haoran smirked, then his fingers reached out to grasp against Wei Wuxian’s hand. The look in his eyes looked dangerous, as if daring him to move. Wei Wuxian helplessly looked towards the Zhong husband and wife, but they merely continued with their meal, as if what their son was doing had nothing to do with them.

“Haoran.” Lan Wangji finally spoke.

“Ge.” Zhong Haoran answered, though his fingers held tighter to Wei Wuxian’s hand and his tone had no trace of respect. Lan Wangji seemed used to that tone though.

“Let go of him.”

“Wei Ying doesn’t mind. After all this sort of thing, well he—” Zhong Haoran did not finish that sentence but the implication was thick. After all, he was used to this sort of thing. Wei Wuxian felt shame flooding him and he desperately twisted his hand.

With a sigh, Lan Wangji stood and without warning, forcefully pried off Zhong Haoran’s fingers.

“Now, apologise.”

“Wangji.” Zhong Chunhua finally acted, head snapping up to look at him. She seemed to be amazed, as if she was not expecting Lan Wangji to act.

“Wangji, sit down, people are staring.” The Zhong wife finally spoke. Wei Wuxian looked around and observed that people were indeed staring. From the corner of his right eye he could see a flash of light, no doubt of someone taking pictures or recording. Eyes widening slightly, he tugged Lan Wangji’s sleeve.

“Lan Zhan.” He whispered and this seemed to shock everyone sat on the table. Zhong Chunhua’s focus finally diverted to him and she looked incredulous as she questioned, “what did you just call him?”

Wei Wuxian was confused as he regarded her shocked face. But as he thought about it—Wangji—everyone had been calling him Wangji.

So Lan Zhan was…

Despite the messy situation at hand, Wei Wuxian could not help but think “fuck I’ve been calling him his birth name.”

Ignoring him, Lan Wangji turned to the Zhong couple. “You didn’t care about people staring when your son was making him uncomfortable, but you care now?”

“Watch how you fucking speak to my parents!” Zhong Haoran stood up and though he was shorter than Lan Wangji, that did nothing to dispel his momentum. Lan Wangji did not back down either, facial expression contorting into anger. Wei Wuxian was anxious about a fight and he could only feebly tug at Lan Wangji’s sleeve again.

“It’s fine.” He whispered again and Lan Wangji finally turned to him. Wei Wuxian winced at the expression on his face.

“It’s fine? Say that all your life and see how many people will trample on you.”

“I can’t afford to offend him.” Wei Wuxian answered. It wasn’t fine and, on another day, Wei Wuxian would have liked nothing more than to answer back to Zhong Haoran. He had gone through much more than Zhong Haoran could possibly dream, but Wei Wuxian had long lost that fighting spirit. He was tired.

So many people had trampled on him and completely broken his spirit and Wei Wuxian… he was so fucking tired.

“No? I’ll offend him for you then. Stop saying it’s fine, you’re angry, so tell me and I’ll offend him for you.” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian watched him, this man he barely knew, who was ready to offend someone his company recently partnered up with for his sake. He didn’t know what was going through Lan Wangji’s mind, but Wei Wuxian, he felt grateful. For someone he barely knew, Lan Wangji was willing to go through a risk. Perhaps if it was Jiang Cheng in his place, Lan Wangji would have done the same thing.

If it were anybody else, Lan Wangji would have defended them just like this. Just like how he had given a stranger a credit card to let them start a new life without expecting anything in return. And because of that feeling of gratefulness, Wei Wuxian would not willingly allow him to offend others for his sake.

This would pass. The humiliation he currently felt would pass. The hurt he felt, he was used to and even Lan Wangji… he wouldn’t see him again after this. And even if he did, nothing would happen. But Lan Wangji was a CEO, he was powerful, he walked a different path and Wei Wuxian wouldn’t be the reason his relationship with the Zhongs broke.

So once again, he forced himself to smile, “it’s fine, really.” He stressed.

Something flashed in Lan Wangji’s eyes.

Disappointment?

Then he also offered a smile equally as fake as Wei Wuxian’s, “Ok.”

Lan Wangji sat down without another word and Wei Wuxian wished he could knock off the smug grin on Zhong Haoran’s face.

With gritted teeth, Wei Wuxian apologised once again, and as if nothing had happened, continued to wait upon the family.

And when they had finally, painstakingly, finished with their meal in silence and walked away, Wei Wuxian risked another look at Lan Wangji.

Lan Wangji walked next to Zhong Chunhua as they left, his posture was straight, the black suit he wore complemented his figure perfectly and Wei Wuxian lamented in his heart that he really was too fucking good looking.

Lan Wangji did not spare him a glance as he left.

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji stood beside a window, eyes glancing down at the scenery below. The sun was just beginning its ascent and dusted the otherwise dark penthouse with a pink glow. This was not the first time Lan Wangji had not been able to sleep in a long time. In fact, Lan Wangji could not remember the last time he had a good night’s sleep, the last time he wasn’t forced to deal with his own thoughts every night in an all too big penthouse.

Back then, when he still lived with his uncle and brother, when he was still young enough to be ignorant, he’d have left his room and crawled into bed with either of them, allowed them to comfort him to sleep. Lan Wangji missed those days, before Lan Enterprise became all that his uncle knew, before his brother had no choice but to work twice as hard to ensure their legacy lived on.

Before—

Well it didn’t matter now.

Bringing out his phone, he dialled his brother.

“Who suppressed it? Us or Zhong group?” Lan Wangji asked as soon as he picked up.

When he had checked the news this morning, sure enough, his outburst at the restaurant had been suppressed in the news. Not a trace, or even a tiny whisper of what happened to be found, despite the number of cameras that were pointed at them last night. Lan Wangji knew neither Zhong group nor Lan Enterprise would allow such an embarrassing situation to be made public, it was only a matter of who suppressed it first.

“Guess.” Lan Xichen answered, his voice teasing.

“Zhong group.” Lan Wangji answered without hesitation. He wouldn’t have made a spectacle if he wasn’t sure of the Zhongs suppressing it. After all, even the Zhongs were far ahead of his uncle when it came to saving face.

Lan Xichen neither confirmed, nor deny it, instead he asked a question, “why did you do it?”

“He was harassing a waiter. Brother, you wouldn’t have done the same thing?”

“I would have. But quietly and with more tact. And that’s what you would have normally done too. So, what changed? Is it because you know that waiter?”

“Know him?”

“He called you Lan Zhan.”

Lan Wangji sighed, moving from the window and going back to his room. “I don’t know.”

Lan Wangji did know. He knew why he had stood up, done what he normally would not have done in that situation. And part of it was for Wei Wuxian, but mostly it was for himself. Lan Wangji did have a good impression of Wei Wuxian and he would have stood up for him regardless but—

Lan Wangji could only accept that he was looking for an excuse. He wanted a reason to go against the Zhong family, wanted to finally say everything that had been on his mind, but he couldn’t say. Lan Wangji supposed it was ironic. That he could have the gall to preach to Wei Wuxian about not letting others trample over him when he was doing the same damn thing.

So Lan Wangji wasn’t angry, at least, not at Wei Wuxian. To be honest, between him and Wei Wuxian, he was the one that had acted out of line. He claimed he could take on the trouble for Wei Wuxian, but how long would he have been able to do so? How was he taking on the trouble by forcing him to stand up to a man ten times as powerful as him? So, while Lan Wangji was angry, it was all directed at himself.

He didn’t know what had happened between Zhong Haoran and Wei Wuxian in the past, and he didn’t want to know. All he had seen was Wei Wuxian crying and Zhong Haoran exercising his power over him and it only served to remind him just how powerless he felt at the moment.

“Brother, could you call and ask Doctor Bai if his brother will be at the restaurant today?”

“Why not call him yourself?”

“Every single time I call that man, his first words are to recommend I go to therapy.”

“You really ought to consider therapy, Wangji I— uncle said even the sleeping pills aren’t working anymore. I’m worried about you—”

“Let’s not have this conversation now, please.”

“Wangji—”

“Please.”

Lan Xichen sighed, and Lan Wangji could visualise the worried expression that would currently be on his face, “very well. I’ll let you know what Doctor Bai says.”

Lan Wangji hung up the phone, then mindlessly picked out an outfit for the day. Glancing in the mirror, he sighed at the dark circles that had formed, a bitter smile flicking to his lips.

He’s there. Reading the confirmation from Lan Xichen, he didn’t hesitate to put on sunglasses and left his lonely apartment.

The first drop of rain started as his driver started the car and by the time the restaurant appeared in view, it was thundering. Lan Wangji hurried inside, keeping his head down and allowing a waiting staff to lead him inside the office situated in the back. Through the clear glass, he could see the owner, Bai Jin.

Lan Wangji first knocked, before entering and Bai Jin glanced up, smile on his lips.

“If I wanted my restaurant trashed, I’d do so myself you know.” Bai Jin said in greeting.

“It wouldn’t have come to that.”

“Oh? Anyway, what do you want?”

“Can’t I just come to visit my favourite uncle?”

“Please, I might not be the observing doctor that my brother is but even I can observe the bullshit on your face right now.”

Lan Wangji sighed, “that boy, Wei Wuxian, you’re not gonna fire him, right?”

Bai Jin laughed, dark eyes sparkling in amusement underneath his thick rimmed glasses. He stroked his thin beard in contemplation.

“So, it is because of him. Where do you know him from? Who is he to you?”

Lan Wangji resisted the urge to roll his eyes at this gossiping elder, “so you can gossip about me with Doctor Bai and my uncle? I know about your group chat.”

Bai Jin laughed once again before shrugging, “no I won’t fire the poor boy for yours and Haoran’s bad behaviour.”

“Give him a raise too.”

Bai Jin leaned forward, lightly flicking Lan Wangji’s forehead, “brat, look at you ordering me around as if you’re the uncle. If you have a guilty conscience, just apologise to him. No need to come secretly on his day off asking for a raise on his behalf.”

“It’s his day off?” Lan Wangji asked.

“What, like you didn’t know? Isn’t he your special friend?”

“Special— how did you come to such a conclusion?”

“He called you Lan Zhan!”

Lan Wangji sighed, getting up and putting his sunglasses back on. There really was no point in talking to this gossiping uncle of his.

“If Doctor Bai asks, my eyes were clear when you saw me, and you didn’t see any dark circles.”

Bai Jin’s teasing smile immediately disappeared and he stood up, grasping Lan Wangji’s shoulder. “Wangji, we’re all worried about you.”

“You don’t have to be.” Lan Wangji answered.

With a nod, he exited the room, eyes glancing down at his phone. He could see a barrage of mixed calls from Zhong Chunhua and he felt a headache coming as he wondered how to deal with it.

“How long will I have to keep up the pretence?” he muttered.

As he stepped outside, the rain seemed to come down even harder and Lan Wangji, for the first time in a while, found that he didn’t want to go to the company. Didn’t want to deal with the manipulation and the tricks, constantly having to watch his back.

A slight, familiar, tug at his sleeve broke him out of his thoughts and he could hear a faint, but cheerful “Lan Zhan?”

Turning around, Lan Wangji faced a drenched Wei Wuxian. His hair was in disarray and falling in loose strands across his face, but his eyes continued to hold on to that spark Lan Wangji never failed to notice. He was clutching his guitar case tightly to his chest as if protecting it was more important than protecting himself from the rain. Lan Wangji had been too busy to really look at him yesterday, but in broad daylight, he could see that Wei Wuxian had cleaned up. His cheeks were a bit rosy and he seemed to have gain weight.

Lan Wangji always had an impression that the man underneath the dirt and grime would be beautiful, and looking at him now, he knew he was right.

He watched as Wei Wuxian’s eyes roamed his face and then he suddenly broke out into a wider grin, “so it was you! How awkward if it was someone else.”

Lan Wangji stared at him, at that smile that came so easily to him, the smile that made his eyes crinkle and—

It was still raining, the clouds overhead were thick and determined to block out the sun. There was also a chill wind blowing through his clothes and clinging onto his skin.

But Lan Wangji had an illusion of warmth as he stared at Wei Wuxian.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian found that he did not know where to look.

Despite the sunglasses Lan Wangji wore, Wei Wuxian could almost imagine those piercing golden eyes staring at him from underneath and a chill that had nothing to do with the wind almost made him shiver. Still, he kept the grin on his face and hoped Lan Wangji’s silence did not mean he was still angry at him.

Finally, Lan Wangji stepped forward and Wei Wuxian watched with widened eyes as he opened a black umbrella and he covered them both. “Why are you here? Is it not your day off? And why are you soaked?”

Wei Wuxian did not have time to wonder about how Lan Wangji knew his schedule, nor did he know how to explain that he had stupidly ran out of his apartment without an umbrella because he fiercely believed that the rain wouldn’t start yet.

Wei Wuxian had faintly smelled it before in the two times he had been close to Lan Wangji, a scent of sandalwood always lingered around Lan Wangji and at such a close proximity, Wei Wuxian almost felt intoxicated.

Pulling himself out of his thoughts, he smiled once again and explained, “I was going to visit my friend and his sister. He also works here and asked if I could grab something for him, so I quickly stopped here.”

“Oh.” Lan Wangji answered.

A strange silence descended upon them and Wei Wuxian wished suddenly that he had just walked by Lan Wangji. Why did he have to tug his sleeve when Lan Wangji and him were nothing more than strangers?

But when he had come out of Bai and he had seen Lan Wangji standing there, to Wei Wuxian’s eyes, Lan Wangji had a sort of loneliness that seemed to be hanging over him and his feet had carried him to Lan Wangji’s side without thought.

So although he really just wanted to apologise to Lan Wangji and then continue on his way, he found himself asking “would you like to go for a coffee?” instead.

Not for the first time in the 5 minutes they’d been standing underneath that umbrella, Wei Wuxian wished Lan Wangji would take off his sunglasses. What would his eyes look like underneath them? Shocked? Angry? Happy?

Lan Wangji cleared his throat, and he raised his fingers as if to take off his sunglasses. Wei Wuxian watched with anticipation and he almost couldn’t hide his disappointment when Lan Wangji dropped his hands mid-way.

“But—your friend?” Lan Wangji asked.

Wei Wuxian smiled, knowing that was the confirmation he needed, and he didn’t hesitate to grab Lan Wangji’s hand, steering him the opposite direction towards a coffee shop he had discovered when he started working at the restaurant.

“Jiang Cheng wouldn’t mind if I was late an hour or two. I just hope you don’t have important CEO things to be doing.”

“Important CEO things?”

“You know… like standing by the window in a high rise building, one hand in your pocket, the other holding on to a phone which you’re using to yell at some poor intern who didn’t get your coffee order right.”

“Please stop watching dramas.” An amused smirk flicked onto Lan Wangji’s lips and Wei Wuxian itched to take off his sunglasses to see what expression his eyes would be making. We Wuxian did not know where his sudden obsession with someone else’s eyes came from and he could only shake the thoughts from his head.

“Is it far?”

“Where?”

“The coffee shop? I could ask my driver to take us, if it’s far.” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian could not stop the cynical “rich people” that came out of his mouth and he glanced up in panic to be met by Lan Wangji’s amused smile.

“N-no I mean it’s not far. Just another five minutes.”

In his mind, he thought, add that to the list of things you have to apologise for.

Wei Wuxian stared fixedly up ahead then, and in his absentmindedness, he dd not notice Lan Wangji subtly tilt the umbrella until most of it covered Wei Wuxian.

Tiny droplets of rain dropped on to Lan Wangji’s flimsy clothes and he could feel some seep through, soaking his shoulder. It was uncomfortable, but Lan Wangji did not seem to mind as he walked on with Wei Wuxian.

Chapter Text

Allowing Wei Wuxian to pull hm by the hand, all thoughts of informing him that he actually didn’t like contact with other slipped from his mind. He wondered on taking his sunglasses off but thought better of it. His eyes drifted to Wei Wuxian’s clothes which were thoroughly soaked, and he couldn’t help but speak.

“Is it far?”

“Where?”

Lan Wangji wondered just how much someone could be so absent minded – where else could he be inquiring about if not the coffee shop?

“The coffee shop? I could ask my driver to take us, if it’s far.” Lan Wangji suggested, eyes still drawn to Wei Wuxian’s soaked clothes. In such a weather, even if Wei Wuxian wasn’t feeling uncomfortable, he could end up catching a cold. So Lan Wangji could only suggest to have his driver take them.

However, Wei Wuxian responded with a soft, “rich people” as if he didn’t even realise what he was saying. Once he did, his eyes widened, instantly flying up to stare at Lan Wangji with a look of utter panic. Lan Wangji, regardless of how much he tried, could not flatten the amused smile that drifted to his lips.

After stuttering out a reply, Wei Wuxian stared fixedly at the front, with a look that seemed as if he wished the earth would swallow him right there and then. Once Lan Wangji was sure he was distracted, he subtly stepped closer, then, in a move that surprised even himself, he tilted the umbrella until most of it covered Wei Wuxian.

Tiny droplets of rain dropped on to his clothes and some of it started to seep through, soaking his shoulder. Lan Wangji instantly felt uncomfortable and he knew shielding someone who was already thoroughly soaked from the rain was a pointless move and yet—

He walked in silence, allowing Wei Wuxian to navigate and his mind churned with all the possible ways he could find to apologise to Wei Wuxian. He had not expected to ever meet Wei Wuxian again and he was sure that even if they did meet, Wei Wuxian would want nothing to do with him.

So to have Wei Wuxian willingly invite him for coffee only made the guilty feeling in his chest rise.

“It’s here.” Wei Wuxian’s voice broke hm from his thoughts and he looked up at the coffee shop they were currently stood in front of. The coffee shop was on the modern side, tucked between a flower shop and a small diner. The smell of strong coffee permeated from inside and it only grew stronger after they entered. Lan Wangji observed the place; black, oak tables were dotted around the shop, each with two or three cream chairs to accompany it. For patrons who preferred a sense of solitude, booths were placed near the back, tucked away with a high wall diving them as if to keep others from peeping in.

High tables and stools lined the windows and Lan Wangji could see some teenagers with laptops and papers strewn around it, no doubt studying for an important test. He found that he couldn’t tear his gaze away, from that close-knit group of friends who were laughing as they looked at something on a laptop. That was a feeling he would never know.

He teared his gaze away at last to find Wei Wuxian’s gaze was also towards the group by the window. And from the look in his eyes, Lan Wangji noticed a slight loneliness, as if it was a feeling Wei Wuxian also never knew.

Visibly shaking his head as if to clear his thoughts, Wei Wuxian turned his attention to Lan Wangji, offering him an easy smile.

“By the booths?” Wei Wuxian suggested, as if he couldn’t wait to get away from that group.

Lan Wangji nodded, “whatever you want.”

He followed along as Wei Wuxian lead him to the furthest of the booths, close to the emergency exit. This booth was fully tucked away from the rest of the shop and fully enclosed by a wall too, so that they had to squeeze through an alcove to enter.

“Lan Zhan! What do you want? My treat and don’t worry, a lot of their items are vegetarian too!”

“What?”

“You’re vegetarian right? When we first met you ordered vegetarian dishes at the restaurant, and yesterday too—” Wei Wuxian paused a bit at the mention of last night before continuing, “you ordered vegetarian dishes too.”

Lan Wangji hoped the sunglasses would mask the surprises on his face. Not even—not even his future fiancé had remembered that.

“Mn. Order me whatever you want.”

Wei Wuxian’s eyes twinkled with a mischievous light as he dumped his coat on to the booth then carefully placed his guitar case on the floor, “and if you hate it?”

“I won’t.” If it’s from you. Lan Wangji dismissed that final thought, instead offering Wei Wuxian a small smile. A man who didn’t smile often suddenly found himself unable to stop. He could almost hear the gossiping uncles group chat bursting with activity from here.

Wei Wuxian moved to order, and Lan Wangji finally took off his sunglasses, glancing at the mirror opposite him. His dark circles had gotten worse as he feared, and he ran thing fingers through his hair. He hadn’t expected to stay outside long, and he had not bothered with keeping his hair slick for once; it cascaded around his shoulders and he frowned at the thought that a certain someone wasn’t seeing him at his best.

He could hear Wei Wuxian’s voice cheerfully speaking with the cashier and once he heard his steps coming back, he quickly put his sunglasses back on, allowing a mask of impassiveness to slip onto his features once more.

“Pumpkin spice latte?” Lan Wangji raised his brows at the beverage Wei Wuxian placed in front of him. A smile tugged at Wei Wuxian’s lips, but he said nothing, placing a tray full of pastries in front of Lan Wangji.

 Wei Wuxian sat down before bringing his own mocha to his lips, “order me whatever you want.” He repeated, voice going a lower octave.

“I do not sound like that.”

“You do.”

“Anyway, try it, it’s really good. Otherwise this’ll really be the shittiest apology.”

Lan Wangji’s hand that was about to pick up the drink stilled, “apology?”

Wei Wuxian stared down at his hands, fingers drumming against the table in an obvious nervous motion. “I am sorry. Really.” He spoke at last, looking at Lan Wangji as he said so.

Lan Wangji was rarely puzzled but at that moment he could not think of what exactly Wei Wuxian had to apologise for. “Sorry? For what?”

“For yesterday. You were—you were so kind to me, Lan Zhan and I fucked up, like an idiot.”

Last night?

Lan Wangji who had thought that surely Wei Wuxian should have been angry, rather than apologetic could not think of what to say for a moment. Moreover, it seemed as if Wei Wuxian was under the misconception that Lan Wangji had fought so hard for him. And while that was partly true, guilt filled Lan Wangji’s heart as he remembered he had mostly wanted an excuse to fight with the Zhongs. His reaction caused Wei Wuxian’s anxious expression to tighten and he frantically leaned forward.

“Please don’t be mad? I knew you were doing it for me and to be kind to a stranger like that, I admired it really. But in that situation… I couldn’t—”

“You have nothing to apologise for.” Lan Wangji caught him off, guilt surging his chest even more. Then with a sigh, he continued, “I should be the one apologising.”

Wei Wuxian’s eyes widened and despite the situation, Lan Wangji could not help but comment in his mind that this pure expression, it was just a bit adorable.

“For what?” Wei Wuxian said, seeming to be genuinely confused, “you helped me when you didn’t have to and were willing to take my troubles on your own head I mean—”

“I didn’t consider your situation. I should have.”

“But you were only trying to stand up for me! You have nothing to apologise for.”

“Neither do you.” Lan Wangji stressed. He knew in this situation; he was the one at fault.

“But—”

“Are we really going back and forth on who deserves an apology more?” Lan Wangji cut him off and Wei Wuxian finally leaned back, a slight chuckle escaping his lips.

“Agree to disagree?”

“Okay.” Lan Wangji responded. He would have to make sure Bai Jin raised Wei Wuxian’s salary.

Wei Wuxian paused, fidgeting with his fingers before speaking, so low Lan Wangji had to strain to hear, “so… last night. Did you hear anything?”

Lan Wangji saw something flash in Wei Wuxian’s eyes… fear? What was it that had him fear whatever happened last night? Lan Wangji truly hadn’t heard anything and nor did he ask. However, he also knew the kind of person Zhong Haoran was. If he knew Wei Wuxian from somewhere, enough to know his birth name… that place was most likely not a good place.

Coupled with the fear in Wei Wuxian’s features and what Zhong Haoran had said “after all this sort of thing, well he—” it didn’t take a genius to figure out what Zhong Haoran had been about to say.

However, Lan Wangji kept his face neutral as he answered, “no I didn’t.” And he wouldn’t ask if Wei Wuxian had no intention of disclosing it.

Wei Wuxian visibly heaved a sigh of relief and then he tensed up again, “wait. You could find out, couldn’t you?”

“Haoran and I don’t get along well enough for that.” Lan Wangji reminded him.

“What? No, not through him. Couldn’t you just ask your scary assistant to find out everything about me and then he’ll know all about me and report back to you within an hour.”

Lan Wangji, who was usually speechless, was even more so at that moment. “I—Wei Wuxian, what kind of dramas do you watch?”

Wei Wuxian burst out laughing at that, relief evident in his features. “Try the pound cake, it’s one of my favourites.”

Lan Wangji allowed the conversation to move on, grabbing a fork and delving into the cake, not having the heart to tell him that he wasn’t good with sugary stuff.

As they ate in silence, Lan Wangji observed Wei Wuxian.

At first, he only itched his shoulder with a slight frown.

A couple minutes later, he tugged his sweater from his body in an irritated gesture, frown growing deeper.

Then, an exasperated sigh escaped his lips as he tried not to itch.

And Mr Lan “I like my personal space” Wangji didn’t know what compelled him to suggest, “you’re welcome to come back to my place for a change of clothes.”

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji regretted the words as soon as they left his lips. However, he could only bite back his tongue, knowing he couldn’t take it back now. He watched through his sunglasses as Wei Wuxian’s expression changed to one of disbelief. And there was something else he could not help but notice. As if he was afraid.

Seeing that expression of fear, Lan Wangji quickly tried to take back his words. “You don’t have to. You just look uncomfortable.”

Wei Wuxian ducked his head, eyes staring at the fingers he had unconsciously tightened into a fist on his lap before he smiled slightly. Memories that he did not want to think about had surfaced from Lan Wangji’s question and even though he knew Lan Wangji would not do anything to him—like others had before… he still couldn’t help the fear that ran through him.

“If you wouldn’t mind.” Wei Wuxian finally spoke at last, eyes turning into crescents from his smile.

The first step was trust, and he would put that trust in Lan Wangji.

Forcing down the smile that threatened to burst forth at his answer, Lan Wangji nodded instead. Picking up the pumpkin spice latte, he sniffed it once before taking a tentative sip. He could see Wei Wuxian watching with keen interest and, with great difficulty, he managed to plaster on a smile.

“Mn, yeah. Really good.” He said, only just managing to keep the grimace off his face.

Wei Wuxian’s face broke into a grin as if Lan Wangji had just informed him he won the lottery, eyes turning into crescents as if Lan Wangji’s simple praise of the drink meant the world to him.

“See I knew my taste was the best. Last time I got this drink for Jiang Cheng he’d acted as if I offered him poison or something.” Wei Wuxian complained, lips pulled into a pout. Lan Wangji was suddenly glad he had managed to force down his initial dislike and with a straight face, he continued to sip the drink as if nothing was wrong. A silence that surprisingly did not feel uncomfortable descended upon them as Wei Wuxian tucked into the pastries and Lan Wangji sipped the poison latte.

Outside, the rain began to slow and became more of a drizzle. The thick clouds overhead gradually began to part to allow the sun to seep through and although neither Lan Wangji nor Wei Wuxian could see it from where they sat, a faint rainbow had also appeared in the sky. As the people outside moved, some could not help but raise their heads to look at that rainbow, and even the group of teenagers who sat by the window paused for a while to look too.

Compared to the warmth of that gradually appearing sun, the little alcove where Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian sat was filled with a sort of darkness. The only light source came from the lightbulb above their heads. There wasn’t a rainbow for them to marvel at, nor could the sun touch them but as Wei Wuxian heartily ate his pastries and Lan Wangji pretended that the latte wasn’t disgusting, to any outsiders looking in, they would not be able to prevent feeling an illusion of warmth from that corner booth.

Lan Wangji waited until Wei Wuxian had his fill before summoning his driver and leading him out of the shop. The rain had completely stopped by then and the sun had finally won against the clouds, shining brightly. For others this was a good thing, for Wei Wuxian whose clothes stuck to him even more, however?

Sat inside Lan Wangji’s luxurious car, Wei Wuxian did not know where to place his hands. His back was rigidly straight, a posture completely different to what Lan Wangji would expect from him. His eyes also stared fixedly at his lap and his mouth remained shut, as if he was afraid to even breathe the wrong way. Lan Wangji found it amusing, but for Wei Wuxian who could feel the driver’s gaze burning through him from the front of the car, he couldn’t wait to escape.

In fact, it wasn’t the poor driver’s fault that he could not help but sneak glances towards Wei Wuxian. As someone who had driven Lan Wangji since a young age, this was the first time he had seen his young master willingly allow somebody besides his brother or uncle to invade his personal space. Moreso, this man was drenched in rain and would no doubt leave wet prints all over Lan Wangji’s precious car; for Lan Wangji to allow this to happen and to even seem amused over the situation, the driver felt that he could foresee the future. He determined in his mind that he’d have to make friends with this Wei Wuxian very quickly.

Lan Wangji did not know that his driver had placed Wei Wuxian at the highest peak of the mountain in his heart, he was not one to speak unless necessary and so he sat in silence beside Wei Wuxian until the car eventually stalled.

“We’re here.” Lan Wangji spoke, and only then did Wei Wuxian look up. With a frantic nod, he exited the car as if he could not wait to breathe the fresh air. Lan Wangji could only smile and trail after him.

“So, which one is your apartment?” Wei Wuxian asked when Lan Wangji finally stepped beside him. Lan Wangji observed Wei Wuxian and noticed that as he asked the question, he was looking at the lesser apartment buildings close by and not once did his eyes set on the luxurious building right in front of him. Raising an eyebrow, Lan Wangji gestured a hand, directing Wei Wuxian’s gaze forward.

He watched as Wei Wuxian’s eyes widened and he took an involuntary step back as if the grandeur of the building in front of him would infect him. Covering up a smile at Wei Wuxian’s reaction, Lan Wangji led him inside, ignoring the looks sent their way and going straight to the elevator meant for the penthouse.

It was only once they were inside the elevator that Wei Wuxian could release his breath. The elevator they were in was the very definition of excessive. The walls were painted gold, a floor length mirror on the right side. On the left side hung a painting and underneath the painting was a chair, as if standing in an elevator was just too much work. Beneath their feet was a white rug so clean Wei Wuxian was sure it was probably replaced every single day with a new one. As Wei Wuxian stared at this elevator that probably cost enough for 4 years’ worth of rent, he did not bother to conceal the bitter “rich people” that came out of his lips. He even added a glare towards Lan Wangji for extra measure.

Lan Wangji’s stoic mask almost cracked into a smile at that, but he managed to keep it in place.

After what felt like an hour to Wei Wuxian, the elevator finally stopped, announcing its destination as the penthouse. Wei Wuxian had been paying attention to the buttons on the elevator and knew that they had arrived at the very top of the building. Meaning, they couldn’t possibly go any higher, meaning that Lan Wangji was filthy rich. And when Wei Wuxian set eyes inside Lan Wangji’s apartment, he could feel his soul leave his body.

Wei Wuxian was someone who could easily get along with others and though Lan Wangji and him were worlds apart and Wei Wuxian knew they couldn’t be considered friends, they at least had some sort of relationship so he had already decided he might as well speak as he normally would with Lan Wangji. So, with a scrutinising look, he turned to Lan Wangji and joked, “do you need a maid? A butler?”

“I need a PA.” Lan Wangji responded, bringing Wei Wuxian back to that night all those weeks ago.

Wei Wuxian smiled, dimples appearing on his cheeks, “then I can’t help you there.”

“Spare room is through there, I’m sure you’ll find clothes your size in the closet. You’re welcome to use the shower too if you want.” Lan Wangji said, moving towards the kitchen.

Wei Wuxian took that as his cue and moved towards the room Lan Wangji had pointed to. Since Lan Wangji had offered, there was no need for false politeness, Wei Wuxian entered the room and quickly walked towards the closet. Ignoring how the closet was bigger than his whole apartment, his eyes went wide as he observed the new and expensive clothes neatly stacked inside the closet.

“Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier…” Wei Wuxian, not for the first time that day, felt his own soul leave his body. Not only were these items brand new, Lan Wangji had asked him to wear them as if they were nothing. Even trusting him inside alone as if Wei Wuxian wasn’t practically a stranger who could rob him blind at any time.

Alas, Wei Wuxian, even though he cursed all rich people in the world in his head, could not do something as lowly as rob Lan Wangji blind. Opting for the simplest jumper and jeans he could find, Wei Wuxian quickly entered the bathroom and made use of the shower like Lan Wangji had suggested. Wei Wuxian could not rob Lan Wangji blind but while he was here, he would make use of this rich person’s facilities for as long as possible.

With a grin on his face, Wei Wuxian thoroughly enjoyed his shower before drying his hair with the towel as much as possible. After changing clothes, he could not help but glance at himself in the mirror. His hair was still slightly wet and hung loosely around his face; it was not as long as it was before when he couldn’t afford a haircut and now it reached just below his shoulders. His red lips were hooked into a smile which only brought out his beauty even more. He reached slender fingers to touch the eyelid of his left eye, a slight tug at his heart pulling him back to the past for only a brief moment.

Then he looked away, walking out of the room and allowing the smile on his face to remain there. He was happy and he would no longer let the past disrupt that.

Slightly scratching his head, he entered the living room and called, “Lan Zhan! Do you have a hairdryer I can borrow I couldn’t find—”

His words stuck in his throat.

By the doorway stood Lan Wangji, a young woman stood in front of him. Her hands were tightly gripped onto Lan Wangji’s shirt and she stood on tiptoes. Her lips were firmly placed on Lan Wangji’s, her eyes closed.

Wei Wuxian recognised her at once.

She was Zhong Chunhua.

Chapter Text

The room descended into silence. Wei Wuxian did not know where to look and Zhong Chunhua did not immediately step back in embarrassment. Rather, it seemed as if she wanted to stick to Lan Wangji as much as possible and it was only when Lan Wangji lightly stepped back, did she release his hold on him. Then, as if she only just registered Wei Wuxian, she gazed at him.

Zhong Chunhua was frequently described as a delicate rose by the media. Wei Wuxian did not pay much attention to the elite, however, even he knew who she was. The heiress had been accomplished her entire life and her beauty was nothing to scoff at. She had a sort of innocent face, fair and lightly dotted with pale freckles. Unlike the models Wei Wuxian saw that graced the cover of magazine, Zhong Chunhua’s features were not sharp, but it only served to highlight that innocent beauty. Standing next to Lan Wangji, even Wei Wuxian had to admit they looked good together.

The news had indeed reported of the Zhong family partnering with Lan Enterprise, however, they failed to mention that partnership came with an engagement. Wei Wuxian could only imagine the amount of heart broken young men and women that would fill the entire city when it was finally revealed that the Zhong heiress was engaged.

With a sheepish smile, Wei Wuxian glanced at Lan Wangji who remained silent. Had he known that he would end up in this awkward situation, he would have never agreed to come to Lan Wangji’s place. After what happened with her brother, Wei Wuxian wanted to stay as far away from the Zhong family as possible.

Seeing as Lan Wangji did not speak, Wei Wuxian could only offer a slightly pained smile towards Zhong Chunhua before ducking back into the room and emerging with his bag. Then, with a nod at Lan Wangji, he sidestepped towards the couple by the door and left the apartment.

And Wei Wuxian, who usually guarded his guitar with his life, under the awkwardness of the situation, did not realise he had left that guitar behind.

Lan Wangji watched Wei Wuxian leave, and though his countenance remained the same and that stoic mask on his face did not crack, there was a sort of illusion of a depressed aura around him. Only when he was sure Wei Wuxian was gone did he finally turn his gaze towards Zhong Chunhua. Were Wei Wuxian still present, he would realise that the ‘innocent’ beauty Zhong Chunhua had immediately turned from pure into something one could only describe as shrewd.

“What was the kiss for?” Lan Wangji spoke. He made no move to allow Zhong Chunhua inside the apartment so they could only stand by the doorway.

Zhong Chunhua, seeing that he did not want to invite her inside merely scoffed before falling back and allowing her back to rest on the other side of the doorway.

“If we cannot even make your friend believe us to be a young, very much in love couple, how do you expect us to fool the media?” Zhong Chunhua responded. Though Lan Wangji noticed the emphasis she placed upon the word friend, he said nothing.

When Zhong Chunhua spoke usually, her tone carried a hint of delicacy, as if she were a fragile diamond that could easily break under the slightest of pressure. However, now, in front of Lan Wangji who had long seen through her, she dropped the pretence and every word spoken through her lips carried a tone of boredom.

“You did not have to kiss me for that.”

Zhong Chunhua laughed, “no? You do not like me, that much is true. And while you are beautiful, I do not like you either. Neither of us like each other and yet we’re engaged. Besides blatantly showing off our so-called love, how else do you expect us to fool everyone? You think I wanted to kiss you?”

“There are other ways—”

“No there aren’t.” Zhong Chunhua interrupted, crossing her arms briefly. “We’re a young couple. I’m the unattainable heiress who somehow got attained by you. And you’re the cold iceberg I apparently managed to thaw. If this is going to work, we’re going to have to do a lot more than stand together and pose for pictures. The media, nor my parents or your uncle, are so easily fooled. And maybe you don’t have a lot to lose, Wangji, but I do.”

“What are you doing here?” Lan Wangji responded.

Knowing when to retreat, Zhong Chunhua did not insist on the previous conversation either. Reaching into her purse, she retrieved an elegant card and handed it to Lan Wangji. “Here to invite my fiancé to the annual Zhong banquet of course.”

Lan Wangji glanced down at the card and with only a slight hesitation, he took it at last.

“If that is all then—”

“That boy, Wei Ying.” Zhong Chunhua interrupted before Lan Wangji could step back and close the door.

“Wei Wuxian.” Lan Wangji responded almost instantly. Zhong Chunhua’s eyebrows rose in surprise for a moment, then, as if she had realised something funny, she leaned forward eagerly.

“You do realise the kind of person he is, right? Haoran told me all about him, the kind of things he used to do in Madame Zhao’s house. For you to allow such filth to associate with you, and even call you your birth name like it’s nothing, I’m very much surprised.”

“Do not call him by anything other than his name.” Lan Wangji responded.

From that response, it was obvious to Zhong Chunhua that not only did Lan Wangji care about Wei Wuxian’s past, he also did not mind offending others to defend him. The so called ‘iceberg’ of the Lan family could actually care about someone beside his brother or uncle? Zhong Chunhua was intrigued.

Her eyes shone as if the current situation very much amused her and with a laugh she said, “So I suppose you will not be apologising to my mother and father for your outburst at the restaurant?”

“Will Haoran apologise to Wei Wuxian?”

Zhong Chunhua grinned, then finally stepped back. “How interesting. Take care that the media don’t find out about your little whore from Madame Zhao’s house though. That wouldn’t do well for neither you, me, or him.”

Then with a little wave, she turned and walked away.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian sneezed, and with an eyebrow raised, he turned to Jiang Cheng, “I think someone’s speaking about me.”

Jiang Cheng scoffed, handing him a steaming mug of tea before sitting down beside him. “Who else do you know in this city beside sis and me? Isn’t it because you came drenched from the rain and you’re catching a cold?”

“Ah don’t—don’t remind me.” Wei Wuxian whined, thinking about how the expensive clothes he had borrowed from Lan Wangji ended up soaked to the brim.

“How come you came in wearing such expensive clothes anyway? You secretly the young master of a prominent family?”

Wei Wuxian laughed, “I wish. My friend- no, someone lent them to me. And now I’ve completely ruined them.”

“Someone just lent you a jumper worth thousands of yuan? Do they have a sister in need of a husband?”

Wei Wuxian’s thoughts drifted to the only sibling Lan Wangji had and couldn’t help but shiver. To think of the young master Lan Xichen with his best friend almost made him break out in hives.

“I didn’t realise it was worth so much! It was the plainest thing inside that closet I thought it’d be the cheapest.” Wei Wuxian responded. It wasn’t until Jiang Cheng saw him and had informed him of just how expensive his clothes were that he realised.

“Anyway, I’ll clean it for him properly and give it to him the next time I see him. The most important thing is my guitar, Jiang Cheng, how did I forget it?”

“You’d forget your own head if it was possible.” Jiang Cheng answered, a teasing smile on his lips.

“I know… but that guitar. It means the world to me and I just—”

“Have you tried calling him? To have him send it back?” Jiang Cheng suggested, the teasing intent gone.

“His number’s in my guitar case.”

“You didn’t save your friend’s number?”

“He’s not really—he’s not really my friend. We met through circumstance and we’ve really only spoken maybe three times?”

“And he still let you walk out of his house wearing an outfit worth so much? Rich people.”

“Jiang Cheng—”

“That someone… is it the man who stood up for you at the restaurant?”

“Yeah.”

“He seems like a good person.”

Wei Wuxian finally smiled, “he really is.”

“Why don’t we go over to his house? Sis won’t wake up for another 3 hours or so I can quickly drive you.” Jiang Cheng said.

“He lives in Paradise apartment complex.”

“Doesn’t it cost at least millions in yuan every month to live there?!” Jiang Cheng exclaimed.

“He lives in the penthouse. The very top, Jiang Cheng. The very top.”

“And no way in hell would security allow us to enter. We reek of poor.” Jiang Cheng replied.

“Exactly. Anyway, how is she? Sis?” Wei Wuxian asked, thoughts of his guitar momentarily forgotten.

“The same. I think she’s in more pain than usual, but you know she won’t say anything.” Jiang Cheng sighed, taking a sip of his tea before leaning back against the couch. “And I’m not sure how we’re gonna cover the cost. There’s only so many part time jobs that I can take, you know?”

Wei Wuxian’s eyes drifted to the further part of the apartment, to a door painted a seafoam green where inside, Jiang Yanli was asleep. When Wei Wuxian had met Jiang Cheng four months ago, he’d quickly learned about his sister, Jiang Yanli. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with Chronic kidney disease and with only the two of them, Jiang Cheng had been working as much as possible to pay for her life saving transplant.

“I’ll try another bank tomorrow, at least one of them will have to give us a loan.” Wei Wuxian said.

Jiang Cheng smiled though Wei Wuxian noticed it was tinged with sadness, “no bank will give us a loan. Neither of us finished school and neither of us have the qualifications and besides you don’t have to worry yourself about—”

“Stop.” Wei Wuxian interrupted. “You’re both like family and I won’t sit back and let you worry about this on your own. We’ll figure something out.”

“Thank you.” Jiang Cheng said. “And about your guitar, perhaps I can ask that man for you?”

“Hmm?”

“At the Zhong family’s banquet? He was with the Zhongs at the restaurant that night, right? So they would have invited him.”

“And how do you plan on getting into the banquet?”

“Wei Wuxian, are your ears filled with cotton? Didn’t the manager tell us last week we’d be catering at the banquet? But I assume you’d want to stay as far away from the Zhongs as much as possible. So don’t worry I’ll ask for you if he comes.”

Wei Wuxian was about to express his thanks before an idea popped into his mind and he broke out into a grin. “Don’t worry Jiang Cheng, I’ll go and ask him myself.”

Chapter Text

“Wangji, you don’t have to go tonight.” Lan Xichen spoke, eyes pooling with concern over his younger brother’s current state. Although Lan Wangji was considered beautiful and nothing could overshadow that, it didn’t stop the fact that his complexion looked wan and it was obvious that he hadn’t slept for a while.

Lan Wangji sighed, slender fingers massaging his temples briefly. Beneath his sunglasses, he peered at his brother and with difficulty, he managed to pressure a tiny smile on to his lips.

“I’m fine.”

“You’re not. You have been ignoring Doctor Bai, and you clearly haven’t been sleeping either. You can’t keep saying you’re fine when you’re clearly not!” Lan Xichen replied, and Lan Wangji could not resist laughing.

“You’re the nicest person in the world but somehow you always end up shouting at me.” He answered.

“You refuse to worry about yourself so I must worry for you.” Lan Xichen said, a slightly exasperated smile tugging at his lips.

“You don’t need to. I know my own limit.”

“Do you?”

“Mn.”

Lan Xichen sighed, reaching forward to briefly touch his cheek, “you and uncle are all I have. It hurts me to see you like this.”

“I am fine, brother, truly.”

With a sigh, Lan Xichen turned to face the window, deep in thought. Lan Wangji observed him for a moment before he too turned the other way. As they drove, Lan Wangji could see the cars ahead of them were all headed to the same destination: to the Zhong mansion for their annual banquet. The Zhong family, as they did every year had managed to shut down the highway and diverted traffic so that only those invited to their banquet would be allowed on the road leading to their mansion. Lan Wangji could almost envision the annoyed “rich people” that would come out of Wei Wuxian’s mouth if he knew about it and despite himself, he could not help smiling briefly.

Up ahead, the lights decorating the Zhong family mansion glistened in a way that could only showcase their unnecessary wealth. And as they drove closer, Lan Wangji could only describe the banquet with one word: frivolous.

Upon stepping out of the car, a symphony from an orchestra could be heard. The Zhong family mansion in its 6-story glory was decorated with a variety of lights and despite the sunglasses he was wearing, Lan Wangji could not help shielding away from those lights. Last year’s theme was ‘Under the Sea’ and for that, the Zhong family had built a water park on the plot of land behind their mansion. Despite actively harming the environment and the sheer amount it costed, the water park was used for that one night before it was dismantled. Lan Wangji could only be hope that the theme of ‘Blinding Lights’ this year would not destroy the environment in the process.

Handing their gift to a steward, Lan Wangji followed his brother inside the mansion.

The statement chandelier located was the first thing to draw his attention. Filled to the brim with delicate diamonds, Lan Wangji could see that it was spinning so that the diamonds bounced off the walls of the mansion. Affluent guests mingled, the champagne constantly flowing, and Lan Wangji wished at that moment he had taken his brother’s advice and gone back home.

There was a long row of tables positioned on the left side and right side of the hall, an abundant serving of different delicacies placed upon them for an open buffet. In a display of their splendour, a variety of food from different countries were available and even Lan Wangji had to admit that the Zhongs took the ‘banquet’ very seriously.

Upon looking outside, Lan Wangji noticed that there was a party going on in the backyard too; if the main hall was filled with politicians and affluent members of society, then the backyard was most likely filled with the rich second-generation sons and daughters. Zhong Haoran would no doubt be there, entertaining his friends. As a “second-generation” himself, Lan Wangji ought to go there too.

Instead, he turned to Lan Xichen and lightly pulled on his sleeve with a grimace and whispered, “Brother, let’s not stay long.” Lan Xichen laughed, eyes twinkling in amusement.

“I should make us stay until the very end just to punish you for not taking care of yourself.” Lan Xichen joked. “Now, come. Let us pay our respects to the hosts.”

 

***

 

“I’m fucking freezing.” Jiang Cheng complained for what felt like the 100th time and Wei Wuxian wondered if he would get away with locking him in a room for the rest of the evening. They were currently situated in a waiting room alongside 28 other staff, waiting for their cue to start their shift. Due to the size of the banquet, 300 staffers were split into groups of 30 and every hour, they would be switched. Wei Wuxian could hear the chatter beyond the room, of the rich showing off their wealth and no doubt warm and happy.

“Just a couple more minutes then we can do our one-hour shift and go home.” Wei Wuxian said, cheek placed in his palm and resisting the urge to scratch his back. The uniform they were in did nothing to keep them warm and the material could only be described as shit. If Wei Wuxian was not used to hardships, he’d no doubt be complaining like Jiang Cheng.

Across the room they were situated in, he could hear a low murmuring starting among the group of female staff and he strained his ears to hear.

“Lan Xichen of Lan Enterprise? But who’s that beside him? I didn’t know Lan Xichen had a twin.”

Despite himself, Wei Wuxian could not help but perk up at that and, leaving Jiang Cheng to complain to himself, he crossed the room to join the group of busybodies spying through a crack in the door.

“Not a twin, though it makes sense you’d think so. That’s his younger brother Lan Wangji.” He could hear another staff answer. “He doesn’t show himself much and most people aren’t aware of him.”

“Then how do you know about him?”

“Isn’t it because my boyfriend works at his company? According to my boyfriend, Lan Wangji had an accident when he was younger and then stopped showing himself after that.”

“What accident?”

“How should I know? But it must have been something bad for his family to keep him out of the public eye to protect him.”

Squeezing himself through the group of busybodies, Wei Wuxian placed his right eye against the crack at the door. In front of him stood Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian could not help thinking to himself just how unfair it was for one person to look so good. Although he was also dressed in a suit like most of the gentlemen at the party, there was an illusion that he was worlds apart from the rest. Stood next to his brother, Wei Wuxian almost drooled at the sheer amount of beauty that seemed to glow around them like a fucking halo.

Lan Xichen was talking to a man Wei Wuxian briefly recognised, a pleasant smile on his face and Wei Wuxian wondered how it’d be if Lan Wangji smiled as often as his brother did. He watched as a young woman approached the group and though Lan Xichen did not notice her, Lan Wangji did. Lan Wangji glanced at his brother and in a subtle manner, stepped in front of him as if to block that woman from approaching. Then with a glare that could curdle milk, he spoke a few sentences to her before the poor woman scurried away.

Wei Wuxian stifled a laugh, before stepping back and allowing another person to take his place.

He suddenly couldn’t wait for his one-hour shift to start.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian impatiently tapped his finger against the bench he was sat on alongside Jiang Cheng. He was sure that in a moment, it would be their group’s turn to begin their shift and wait upon the rich and affluent. And although he was the one chastising Jiang Cheng earlier for being impatient, for reasons unknown to him, ever since he had learned of Lan Wangji’s presence, he too began to feel impatient as if he couldn’t wait to get outside this room which suddenly felt too stuffy to him.

The chatter in the room had stopped at one point and each staff were currently sat down in their designated positions, no doubt also realising that someone would soon be coming to get them, and they certainly did not want to be scolded for messing around.

Sure enough, the door was opened a few minutes later and the man that Wei Wuxian recognised as the Zhong’s head butler entered the room. Wei Wuxian half heartedly listened as he informed them of their role and what was to be expected of them. The man had spent at least half an hour in the morning informing them of the same thing, so Wei Wuxian did not bother himself with seriously listening to him now.

The head butler had left the door open a crack when he had come in and Wei Wuxian’s eyes were diverted towards the hall outside. The live orchestra had started a waltz at some unknown point in time and couples had quickly paired on the dance floor, dancing without a care in the world. Though from his vantage point, Wei Wuxian could not see all couples, he couldn’t help but want to check to see if Lan Wangji and Zhong Chunhua would be among those couples on the dance floor.

A slight jab at his side pulled his attention back into the room and he saw from the corner of his right eye that Jiang Cheng was not so subtly gesturing towards the head butler who had stopped speaking and was instead staring at Wei Wuxian. Caught not paying attention, Wei Wuxian immediately apologised and began to sincerely listen then. If he was chucked out before he could meet Lan Wangji, ask for his guitar back and also act on the idea that he had formed that day, then what would he do?

After the head butler seemed satisfied, he finally stepped back. With a scrutinising look, he left the room and the staff immediately followed behind him in a single file line as if they were children on a school trip. Outside the room they were in, they had to pass an alcove before stepping into the main hall. Placed in this alcove were serving trays stocked with champagne, whiskey, all kinds of drinks that Wei Wuxian could possibly think of. Wei Wuxian was sure he saw gold flakes inside some glasses of champagne at one point. The staff were then divided into groups of 15.

The first 15 oversaw the buffet and ensured that the food was constant, warm and in good condition. The other 15 were therefore in charge of the drinks and ensuring that every guest was accounted for and wouldn’t go thirsty. Wei Wuxian was in the group responsible for the drinks while Jiang Cheng was part of the ones responsible for the buffet. Wei Wuxian had felt jealous of Jiang Cheng at first, after all, Jiang Cheng only needed to stand around in the warm hall meanwhile the ones in charge of drinks would have to move all around the mansion carrying heavy trays. However, now that he thought about it, more freedom to move hopefully meant that he’d be able to find Lan Wangji and talk to him.

Saying goodbye to Jiang Cheng and with a promise to visit him the next day, Wei Wuxian picked up his tray of drinks and moved with his group to begin their shift. Whilst peeping through the cracks earlier, Wei Wuxian had thought that the party would certainly be grand, but he didn’t expect this level of grandeur now that he was seeing everything clearly.

As the couples swished around the dance floor, he could see the women’s dresses were extravagant and no doubt of high quality. Silks and damasks of the highest quality and elegant jewellery graced their arms, necks, ears. The men were not to be outdone either and Wei Wuxian almost toppled over recognising a watch that cost millions on one man’s wrist. The watch seemed as if it would come undone at any moment and the man did not seem to care either. Seeing the abundance of security that lined practically every single corner of the room, Wei Wuxian was not surprised.

Considering he had just seen at least two politicians in the span of two seconds, he knew that the cream of the crop of the city would all be in this one room at the moment.

Pulling his thoughts together, Wei Wuxian quickly actively performed his job while keeping his eye out for Lan Wangji. After offering champagne to an elderly couple and making sure he had circled the main floor at least twice, Wei Wuxian climbed the stairs leading to the second floor of the six-story mansion. Lan Wangji was not on the ground floor so he would hopefully be on the second floor. As Wei Wuxian climbed the steps, he could hear a familiar voice and sure enough, once he arrived, he saw Zhong Chunhua standing closely between her parents. Next to them were Lan Wangji and his brother.

Wei Wuxian quickly ducked behind a platform; he was unsure if the Zhong mother and father would recognised him but he did not want to take the chance regardless. Earlier, he had been unable to see Lan Wangji properly but now that he could, he felt himself taken aback for a moment.

Lan Wangji was wearing a light blue suit, like the colour of the sky after a rainy day. The blazer was open and inside he was wearing a crisply ironed white shirt with the buttons slightly undone to reveal a sliver of his toned chest. His hair was packed into a ponytail and some strands had come undone giving him a sort of wild look as opposed to the immaculate suit he was wearing. Those golden eyes carried a trace of boredom, as if he couldn’t wait to leave the conversation he was currently having.

Wei Wuxian had always found Lan Wangji good looking, ever since that first day they met each other at the subway. And indeed, he had even shamelessly complimented him then too, called him handsome without batting an eye. And Wei Wuxian had always been aware of his own sexuality. He knew he liked women; he knew he also liked men.

Wei Wuxian thought that it really was a shame that circumstances were shit to him.

Because if his circumstances were better and if he was in the position to, he would have definitely pursued Lan Wangji.

Pulling himself from his thoughts, he once again looked up only to be met with Lan Wangji’s eyes staring at him. A smile seemed to fly on to Wei Wuxian’s lips without him meaning it. With a slight tilt of his head, he mouthed, “how handsome.”

Lan Wangji’s eyes opened wide and a slight cough escaped from his mouth before he quickly looked away.

At a risk of being discovered by the Zhong family, Wei Wuxian laughed.

It was as if they had once again returned back to that rainy day, that first meeting at the subway.

Chapter Text

With another tilt of his head, Wei Wuxian indicated to the main floor and raised an eyebrow at Lan Wangji. Then, without waiting, he hurried downstairs and could only hope that Lan Wangji would get the hint to follow him. In any case, he didn’t mind if Lan Wangji did not come straight away, as long as they could talk before the night’s end.

Wei Wuxian once again performed his job whilst steering clear of the backyard. He had learned from one of the gossiping staff earlier that the backyard was where the rich second generations were currently having their own party. No doubt Zhong Haoran would be there too. Wei Wuxian would only be considered as incredibly stupid if he willingly walked himself into the lion’s den.

He was in the midst of returning to the alcove to grab another tray of drinks when he felt a tap on his shoulder and a soft, “Wei Wuxian” which followed that tap. A slightly odd sensation momentarily tapped against his heart and he frowned before dispelling that feeling and quickly turning around.

“Lan Zhan!” he said, coming face to face with Lan Wangji.

Another frown immediately settled on Wei Wuxian’s face and he couldn’t help but ask, “haven’t you slept properly?” From a distance, Lan Wangji indeed looked very good, but upon closer inspection, despite the beauty still being there, it didn’t help to disguise the slightly dark circles underneath his eyes. Earlier when Lan Wangji had just arrived, he was wearing sunglasses and Wei Wuxian could also not see him clearly but now…

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian questioned.

A look of surprise flashed across Lan Wangji’s face briefly before he replied, “I’ve been busy recently.”

“Important CEO things?” Wei Wuxian asked.

“Mn.”

Wei Wuxian did not whole heartedly believe in that excuse, however, him and Lan Wangji could not be considered friends, so he could only drop the topic.

“Is this about your guitar?” Lan Wangji spoke.

“Yes, but I also wanted to talk to you about something else. I need—” Wei Wuxian paused his words as he could vaguely make out that eyes were on them. Indeed, there were quite a number of guests who were not so secretly staring in their direction as if wondering why someone in Lan Wangji’s position would be conversing with a waiter. From where they stood, Wei Wuxian could vaguely see the second floor and Zhong Chunhua and her parents. Though they had not yet discovered them, it would only be a matter of time.

“Can I borrow your phone?” Wei Wuxian asked instead.

Lan Wangji appeared confused, before taking out his phone and unlocking it, handing the phone over to Wei Wuxian without hesitation. Wei Wuxian briefly thought that Lan Wangji, who once said that he didn’t trust easily, seemed to trust him unnaturally.

Without delay, Wei Wuxian navigated to the timer on Lan Wangji’s phone before handing it back.

“Once the timer ends, the Zhong’s garden maze entrance, do you think you could meet me there?”

“Haoran—he’s entertaining his friends in the backyard.” Lan Wangji replied. In order to get to the Zhong’s garden maze, one had to pass through the backyard first; Wei Wuxian had seen this in the morning when they had arrived. Lan Wangji reminding him of Zhong Haoran meant he had pretty much agreed to meeting with him.

Wei Wuxian smiled, “I naturally know how to avoid him, don’t worry. Then I’ll see you in a bit.”

He stepped back, all too aware that the curious looks from the guests were getting too inquisitive and quickly continued on his way to do his job.

 

***

 

An hour later, Wei Wuxian collected his bag and quickly made his way towards the Zhong family backyard. To express their “generosity” and “kindness”, the head butler had informed the staff in the morning that the Zhongs permitted them to stay behind after the shift. They were allowed to eat and drink as they pleased as long as they “minded their manners” and did not disturb the other guests.

As Wei Wuxian made his way to the backyard, he could see through a window that the staff had made a place for themselves that separated them from the rest of the rich guests. This was clearly a once in a million chance for the staff who were not used to such a lavish lifestyle, so they would obviously take this chance to eat and drink to their heart’s content. However, they were not idiots either and tacitly separated themselves from people they could not afford to offend; in this way they could be considered to be having their own party.

Whilst the staff were on the outmost left side of the garden, Zhong Haoran and the rich second generations were on the right. Zhong Haoran was right in the centre of the revelry, a drink in one hand and his other arm wrapped tightly around a man Wei Wuxian did not recognise. The man was petite, with curly blonde hair and light brown eyes. He was slightly tanned and with big, round eyes and full lips, he looked like a doll. Wei Wuxian could surmise that this man was probably Zhong Haoran’s new interest; he was particularly attentive to him, giving him food every once in a while. And the arm around his waist signified to everyone else that this man was off limits.

Wei Wuxian could only shudder and pray for the poor man who had piqued Zhong Haoran’s interests.

There were more than five doors leading out to the backyard and all of them were open. Wei Wuxian picked the door at the far left and slipped out, mixing in with the group of staff. He then quickly gathered around seven people that he was familiar with at Bai.

“Can you guys cover me? I wanna go to the maze.” he asked. “I also don’t want Zhong Haoran to see me.” He added.

Although the incident that happened at the restaurant that night was suppressed and Wei Wuxian did not know who did it, it did not stop the staff at the restaurant from finding out about it. Wei Wuxian was well liked within the restaurant and so the group agreed. They promptly formed themselves into a cluster and Wei Wuxian inserted himself in the middle. In this way, the group of them passing by Zhong Haoran to move towards the maze naturally did not catch his eye. Wei Wuxian kept his head down and it was only once he was sure that the coast was clear that he released the breath he had unconsciously held.

Saying a quick thanks to the group, he ran the rest of the way until he neared the entrance to the maze. Up ahead he could see the faint outline of Lan Wangji and he hurried his steps until he was right in front of him.

“Lan Zhan!” he called, his voice breathless and slightly hoarse.

Wei Wuxian had changed out of the uniform into dark jeans and a bulky, grey hoodie. His shoulder length hair had been forced back and tightly packed before, but now Wei Wuxian had let it loose so that it bounced as he moved. Wei Wuxian looked jubilant, youthful, and happy. Even when he was homeless, he seemed to contain all the joy of life in his frail body and Lan Wangji found that he couldn’t look away.

“You ran here?” Lan Wangji said, finally averting his gaze.

“I didn’t want to keep you waiting. Have you waited long?” Wei Wuxian replied.

“…no.”

Lan Wangji had been waiting 10 minutes but there was no need to disclose that.

A grin appeared on Wei Wuxian’s lips, “that’s good! I promise not to waste your time any further too, I really only needed to ask you something.”

“You could have given me your phone number.” Lan Wangji said. The implication was that Wei Wuxian could have inputted his number in Lan Wangji’s phone and Lan Wangji could have called him and they could have met at another location. Wei Wuxian therefore wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of sneaking around.

Wei Wuxian seemed to realise this too and he laughed sheepishly.

“I didn’t think of it at the time.” He said.

Lan Wangji’s lips turned up into a smile without him noticing, “That’s why I said to stop watching so many dramas.”

“I’ll listen to you.” Wei Wuxian naturally replied.

“So what did you want to meet me for?”

Wei Wuxian glanced down in thought for a few seconds before squaring his shoulders and looking into Lan Wangji’s eyes. The look in his eyes seemed to express determination, as if he was about to ask Lan Wangji to hand him the moon and all the stars in the sky.

“Do you still need a PA?”

Lan Wangji’s mind ran through all the things Wei Wuxian could possibly want to ask and yet he truly did not expect tis question. Wei Wuxian had explicitly shown that he was not interested in becoming his PA and it was only a few days ago that he had even joked that he’d rather be Lan Wangji’s maid or butler instead.

What had changed in the span of a few days?

“Yes.” Lan Wangji answered. He was not the type to ask questions if others did not reveal their intentions to him and he naturally would not inquire Wei Wuxian’s intentions too, not for now at least.

“Then—” Wei Wuxian hesitated. “Then, how much would my pay be?”

“Around 13,000 Yuan.” Lan Wangji answered with a slight, undetectable frown. Wei Wuxian did not seem the money hungry type either so Lan Wangji was very confused as to why Wei Wuxian would ask for how much the pay would be first.

“Annually?” Wei Wuxian asked.

Lan Wangji almost laughed at that, “monthly.”

He watched as Wei Wuxian’s eyes opened wide and he paused for a moment, as if thinking about something.

“So if—if I asked for 2 years’ worth of pay in advance, would that—would it be possible?” Wei Wuxian said.

2 years’ worth of pay in advance? For someone to ask their hopeful future employee for two years’ worth of pay in advance, there were either stupid or stupid. Wei Wuxian did not seem to be a money hungry idiotic person and even when he had Lan Wangji’s card in his possession, he did not touch a single penny. So for him to be asking for this meant he obviously needed the money desperately. But for what?

Seeing as Lan Wangji retained his silence for so long, Wei Wuxian quickly tried to explain. “I know it’s an odd request and I don’t expect anything from you either. I only thought to try. I don’t know how to be a PA and I have no experience or qualifications to back myself up so I know me requesting for something like this is crazy but—” Wei Wuxian paused and Lan Wangji thought he detected defeat in his eyes, “I just had to try.”

After a long moment, Lan Wangji collected his thoughts. “Okay.”

Wei Wuxian quickly glanced up, eyes shining with hope, “just like that?”

“Mn.”

For the first time in a long time, Lan Wangji was curious about another person. So he’d keep Wei Wuxian close by.

Evident relief flooded through Wei Wuxian’s body and he had to stop himself from hugging Lan Wangji.

“Lan Zhan—wait, no… sir. I promise to work hard. I know you’re putting a lot of trust in me for this and I promise I won’t betray that trust.”

Lan Wangji did not correct Wei Wuxian calling him sir; he nodded, “that’s all I ask from you.”

Wei Wuxian smiled, eyes crinkling in that way Lan Wangji was already used to. “Then, if it’s okay to wait for a month. I’ll need to quit at the restaurant first.” Wei Wuxian tentatively asked. He knew Lan Wangji was already making a lot of concessions for him and did not want to push his luck even further.

“That’s fine.” Lan Wangji said. He’d also need to make preparations on his end. “I will also send your guitar to you.”

Wei Wuxian laughed, knowing he’d completely forgotten about his poor guitar. “Then, I’ll trouble you.”

“Come back with me.” Lan Wangji said. His eyes drifted to where Zhong Haoran could be heard in the distance, getting progressively louder as time went by. He knew that was Lan Wangji’s way of protecting him and he quickly agreed.

As Lan Wangji walked in the front, Wei Wuxian waited a step before following behind him. Wei Wuxian whipped out his phone and eagerly sent a message to Jiang Cheng.

Contact the hospital and let them know to prepare for the transplant. I got the money!!!!

Then as if realising that texting like this in front of his future boss wasn’t professional, he quickly put his phone away, a guilty look appearing on his face.

Lan Wangji, who had noticed all of his actions, pretended not to see. An unconscious smile was on his lips as they walked ahead.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian gave an awkward cough, eyes darting between Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng. They both wore equal disbelieving expressions on their faces as they scrutinised him. It was in moments like this that Wei Wuxian could see the similarities between the completely different Jiang siblings. Jiang Cheng was all hard features and a poisonous tongue, quick to anger and even quicker to use his fists instead of talking. Jiang Yanli, on the other hand, was a direct contrast to her younger brother. Soft features and always wearing a kind smile despite her illness. In the months that Wei Wuxian had known her, he had never heard her frown nor complain even though she had every right to.

“Wei Wuxian.” Jiang spoke at last, eyes travelling down to his phone before he held it up. “That text you sent yesterday, what did you mean?”

Wei Wuxian grinned, “exactly what I meant! I got the money for the transplant!”

Jiang Yanli glanced at her brother, before looking back at Wei Wuxian. A mixture of emotions washed across her face as if she could not comprehend Wei Wuxian’s words. Jiang Cheng also looked at Wei Wuxian as if he had grown two heads. He seemed to want to speak but did not know how to form the words.

Finally, he leaned forward and grasped Wei Wuxian’s hands. Then, with a heavy voice, he spoke, “Wei Wuxian… have you—did you rob a bank?”

A splutter escaped from Wei Wuxian’s lips and he also leaned forward to lightly punch Jiang Cheng’s arm. “With one eye missing and with how fragile I look; does it seem as if I can rob a bank?!”

“Then how did you get 300,000 Yuan in one night?!”

“I got a new job.” Wei Wuxian answered, a proud smile on his lips. At the mention of the job, he could not help thinking of Lan Wangji and how generous he had been so far. Even though they barely knew each other and Wei Wuxian’s request of 2 years’ worth of pay was incredulous, he still accepted without question. Without realising, Wei Wuxian’s proud smile turned soft, almost fond.

Jiang Cheng looked at his expression and a million ideas crashed in his mind.

Wei Wuxian… if he did not rob a bank, and he got a “job”, then… “you’ve become a sugar baby?” the words were out of Jiang Cheng’s mouth before he could stop it.

Wei Wuxian really wished he could ignore this person.

“No! I got a job as a PA! And I asked if I could have two years’ worth of pay in advance. My boss agreed.” Wei Wuxian answered.

“You got a job as a PA without any prior experience and your boss even agreed to give you 2 years’ worth of pay in advance? Is your boss so rich that money has clogged up his brain? What kind of employer is this? Wei Wuxian, you better tell me the truth!” Jiang Cheng could not believe Wei Wuxian’s words.

He had taken on many jobs in the past to save up money for Jiang Yanli’s transplant and he had also tried asking for pay in advance with no luck. For Wei Wuxian’s so called boss to give him almost 300,000 Yuan in advance without him having experience or anything to back him up, it sounded too good to be true.

Wei Wuxian did not know whether to laugh or cry. “I am telling the truth! I’m as shocked as you that it worked out, but I suppose I should have expected it. Lan Zhan seems cold and hard to approach but he’s really kind.” Wei Wuxian praised.

Jiang Cheng did not know who this Lan Zhan was, but the “Lan” gave him a clue and he had a sudden realisation.

“Your boss is a Lan? As in Lan Enterprise?” Jiang Cheng questioned. He thought about it—and then, Jiang Cheng, who was having all sorts of realisations, had another one.

“Wait, your boss… is he the rich friend that let you “borrow” a jumper worth thousands of Yuan? The man that stood up for you at the restaurant. The one that looks like Lan Xichen.” Jiang Cheng said. He also knew Lan Xichen’s face, as did most people who paid attention to the news.

“Wait… your friend looks like Lan Xichen.” Another realisation struck Jiang Cheng; he had also heard the staff’s gossip at the Zhong family banquet. The staff had said the man who was next to Lan Xichen, who looked a lot like him, was his younger brother. Therefore, Wei Wuxian’s mysterious rich friend, and now his boss, was none other than Lan Wangji!

Jiang Cheng, who felt as if his entire world view had collapse, could not react for a moment.

Jiang Yanli had been silent up until this moment; finally, she spoke.

“A-Xian, I don’t really know what’s going on, but you have to return the money.” She said, reaching out to take Wei Wuxian’s hand. “I am grateful to have you and A-Cheng, and I’m grateful for all you’re doing for me but this much—I can’t take it.”

“She’s right.” Jiang Cheng interjected before Wei Wuxian could respond, “Wei Wuxian. if you spend most of two years’ pay on the transplant, what will you be left with? Isn’t this pretty much working for free? And also, this Lan Wangji may be your friend now but who’s to say he’ll be your friend tomorrow? Rich people are too fickle to rely on. If you make a mistake in the future and he wants the money back, won’t you be in trouble then?”

“Working for free? Isn’t this for sis? And besides Lan Zhan—he isn’t like that. Isn’t it just two years? I’ll work hard and make sure I repay him with all my effort; if I don’t do anything for him to complain about then there won’t be problems.”

“But if you spend all the money on the transplant, how will you pay for things you need? What about rent?” Jiang Yanli said.

“I’ve worked it out. The rest of the money will be enough for my rent and I have some money saved up from working at the restaurant. Also, I never said I would just be giving the money to you. I expect repayment, especially from you sis.” Wei Wuxian replied with a serious tone.

The room descended into silence before Wei Wuxian spoke,

“I probably won’t be able to buy groceries myself for a while, so I’ll most likely mooch from you for a long time.” Wei Wuxian spoke with a laugh, “So I expect you to repay me by getting better and cooking lots of food for me. Jiang Cheng’s always going on about how delicious his sister’s food is and I want to taste it too! So, get better and cook for me, okay? I won’t take no for an answer.”

“A-Xian…” Jiang Yanli said, her voice coming out in a wobble. She reached forward, wrapping Wei Wuxian in a hug, her tears dampening his neck. “Thank you.”

Wei Wuxian smiled, patting her back to comfort her before turning to a red eyed Jiang Cheng, “and you. Repay me by not smoking anymore. We’re lucky they can use your kidney for sis despite your addiction to smoking. Enough is enough now.”

Jiang Cheng sniffed, his voice coming out hoarse, “Okay.”

He knew what a big sacrifice Wei Wuxian was making for his sister. He knew that from now on, Wei Wuxian’s life would pretty much be unstable until he worked for the two years’ worth of money. He did not know what Lan Wangji was like, if Lan Wangji could turn on him at any moment. Or if Zhong Haoran would continue to make life difficult for him. He was diving head first into unknown waters for Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng knew he could never pay him back for his kindness.

“Don’t endure any hardships, Wei Wuxian, you hear me? If anything happens with the Lans; if we have to beg, or even rob a bank, we’ll do it. But don’t suffer in silence.”

Wei Wuxian laughed, his right eye sparkling, “okay! If anything happens, we’re robbing a bank.”

Wei Wuxian could not tell the Jiangs that he was used to hardship, that until recently, he was struggling every day. To Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng who did not know of his past, of course they would be worried for an eventual problem. But Wei Wuxian was not worried.

He had faced all kinds of hardship in his life already.

And besides, he was sure…

Lan Wangji would not make life hard for him.

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji’s eyes roamed across the computer screen in front of him. If observed closely, one would notice that his eyes looked tired, and the dark circles had only gotten worse since the Zhong family banquet a week ago. There was an unbearable ache in his head, and he found that he could not concentrate on the reports sent to him to look over. Instead, he clicked off the reports and navigated to the form he had sent to Wei Wuxian to fill out for the necessary items he would need once he officially joined the company.

Wei Wuxian’s details appeared on the screen in front of Lan Wangji, and he read them over for the umpteenth time. From what Wei Wuxian had wrote on the form, his birthday was on October 31st, which was in less than a month. He was currently 23 years old, four years younger than Lan Wangji. He finished high school and after that, he did not have any details on higher education. Lan Wangji also noticed that in his emergency contacts, the name he listed down was a Jiang Cheng. No mention of his parents.

As for his past work experience, besides a part time job he had as a high schooler working as a barista, he had nothing else. He listed his personal skills as being very good at communication, time management, organisation, and hard working. He had also listed out his current address which Lan Wangji recognised as one of the old, dilapidated apartments located almost 2 hours away from Lan Enterprise.

Lan Wangji frowned at that, perhaps he would have to arrange for a new apartment for Wei Wuxian to live in, to make it easier for him.

Lan Wangji’s eyes then trailed to the picture Wei Wuxian had attached for his employee ID. It was an obvious newly taken picture. Wei Wuxian’s inky black hair was styled back so that his forehead was exposed. A faint smile was on his lips as he gazed directly at the camera. One bright, grey eye and one murky one.

Lan Wangji had to admit again that this man was beautiful.

A knock pulled him from his thoughts, and he schooled his expression into a neutral one before allowing the other person to come in. Wen Qing entered; red lips pulled into a grin as if she was in a secret that no one else new. From the glint in her eyes, Lan Wangji knew this woman had gossiping on her mind.

Sure enough, she sat in the chair opposite him, leaning forward eagerly, “you actually employed someone as your PA?”

Lan Wangji resisted the urge to roll his eyes, “is that such a surprise?”

“For someone as untrustworthy as you? Isn’t it only reluctantly that you managed to take me as a friend and someone you can trust?”

“Who considers you as a friend? Who trusts you?”

Wen Qing smiled, undeterred by Lan Wangji’s blatant lie before continuing, “you’ve been a CEO for so long and yet you have never employed a PA. I’ve had to basically be your unofficial PA for three years now and now all of a sudden— who is the lucky one who managed to win over your heart?”

Lan Wangji sighed, ignoring Wen Qing’s was of phrasing the question and turning his desktop around to show her Wei Wuxian’s details. He watched as Wen Qing read over the information, her eyebrows seeming to rise in surprise the more she read.

“What?” she asked after she finished reading.

“What?” Lan Wangji countered.

“I was joking before about someone winning over your heart, but are you actually bewitched? This man has no experience to his name besides a part time job as a barista. No higher education to speak of; he has probably never worked in such a company as big as this one and yet you’re willing to hire him as your PA?”

“Jealous?” Lan Wangji commented, and Wen Qing laughed.

“Who wouldn’t be! But that’s not the point, is everything okay with you? Have you thought this through?”

Wen Qing was not an elitist by any means, nor did she have ill feeling for this Wei Wuxian she did not know. And she knew that if Lan Wangji had appointed him as his PA, then he must have exceptional qualities. But that did not stop her from being worried. Her words were not out of being mean or jealous, but out of pure concern. Wei Wuxian indeed did not have the qualifications to be someone like Lan Wangji’s personal assistant. And in such a shark like environment such as Lan Enterprise, Wen Qing wondered if the man could even last an hour, talk about the 2 years contract that Lan Wangji had drawn up for him.

“Wangji… this—isn’t this setting him up for failure?”

“I have my reasons.” Lan Wangji simply answered.

“But look at him! He looks like he could not hurt a fly let alone be a PA for someone like you. If he gets targeted by others in the company and gets bullied, what then?”

“It is a good thing you’re the one I’m trusting him to then, isn’t it?”

“What?” Wen Qing felt as if she had been hit by blow after blow since she entered Lan Wangji’s office. She suddenly wished she had stopped her gossiping heart and left Lan Wangji alone.

“You said so yourself. You have been like my unofficial PA for the past three years. I’ll have him shadow you to learn.”

“Wangji—”

“It’s final, Wen Qing. I know what I’m doing. He’ll join the company officially next month. I’ll entrust him to you.”

Wen Qing sighed, fingers massaging her temples.

“Friends for so long and I still don’t understand you, not really.” Wen Qing muttered. Then with a groan, she leaned against the chair, tilting her head back. “Fine, fine… entrust him to me. I’ll turn him into a shark for you.”

Lan Wangji glanced down, ignoring Wen Qing.

Of course, he was well aware of Wen Qing’s worries and he understood why she felt that way. However, he had not force, and would not force Wei Wuxian into the position. Despite the money Wei Wuxian collected in advance, even if in the future he wanted to quit, Lan Wangji would not hold it over his head and would let him go.

He could tell that Wei Wuxian needed that money for something desperate which was why he had accepted Wei Wuxian’s request of being his PA. He would not have minded simply giving the money to him if he had asked, but Wei Wuxian clearly wanted to work hard for it so Lan Wangji would not trample on his pride either.

“Help me look for an apartment close by.” Lan Wangji finally spoke. “Something not too small but not too excessive either. One bedroom.”

Wen Qing’s mind worked a mile a minute before she realised what the implications behind Lan Wangji’s words were. She had also read Wei Wuxian’s file and saw his address which was more than 2 hours way from Lan Enterprise. Lan Wangji asking her to look for an apartment—wasn’t it for Wei Wuxian?

Her gossiping heart started again, and she scrutinised Lan Wangji until the other man looked up with an eyebrow raise.

“Yes?” Lan Wangji prompted.

“Nothing!” Wen Qing answered, annoying grin on her lips as she stood up to leave. “I just thought that maybe there’s no point in turning that Wei Wuxian into a shark anymore.”

After all, it seemed as if Lan Wangji had every intent to protect him.

Chapter Text

It was mid-October. The cold was starting to become even more unbearable and the rain even more frequent.

Wei Wuxian grasped the red umbrella he was holding tightly with his left hand, and in his right hand, he held a brown leather briefcase. He glanced at the watch on his wrist, before looking up at the tall, imposing building that was in front of him. This building with its tall windows that reached up to the sky was none other than the Lan Enterprise building.

This was Wei Wuxian’s first official day at work, and although he was not due in for another 5 minutes, the niggling feelings of anxiety had forced him to dress up and head out early. Wei Wuxian had been waiting in front of the building for more than 20 minutes now. In the little time that he had left before he had to enter the building, he checked his messages for the umpteenth time, hoping to see Jiang Cheng’s confirmation that the transplant went well.

Lan Wangji had stayed true to his word and Wei Wuxian had swiftly received the 2 years’ advance pay as promised. Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng had been at the hospital for almost a week now in preparation for the transplant.

Glancing at his phone one more time, Wei Wuxian finally moved, heading towards the building. He hoped that the way he walked with his back straight, his head high, would not betray the anxiety he felt inside. Wei Wuxian was not an idiot by any means, he knew that in such a company like Lan Enterprise, a weakling would not survive. Especially not a weakling who did not have the qualifications, nor the skill to back himself up.

Lan Wangji had appointed him as his PA; he had already made a lot of concessions for him, now it was up to Wei Wuxian to work hard to repay him and not embarrass him.

Wei Wuxian stepped in the building, and despite himself, he could not help but marvel at the splendour inside. The flooring was made from a grey marble, polished to a shine and if one looked down, they could see their own reflections. The ground floor was divided into four sections and in the middle was a receptionist area. All four sections were open and although Wei Wuxian could not tell what the rooms were for the time being, he could faintly surmise that the room on the furthest left was the cafeteria from the smell of food that came from it.

Outside, Lan Enterprise was covered in high windows, and if one looked, they would not be able to see what was going on inside. Wei Wuxian now discovered that this was a one-way glass, the people inside could see outside but the people outside could not see inside. The parts of the walls that weren’t covered by the windows were painted a faint shade of azure blue. Wei Wuxian thought back to Lan Wangji’s apartment with its monochromatic theme and realised that Lan Enterprise was designed in true Lan fashion.

Pulling himself from his thoughts, Wei Wuxian made to move forward towards the receptionist when he heard his name being called.

He turned to look at the source of the voice and found that it was a slender woman. The woman was quite tall, her hair was long and inky and curled around her shoulders. She was dressed in a form fitting black suit and the touch of red on her lips added to her alure. She smiled as she moved towards him and Wei Wuxian smiled back.

“You’re right on time.” The woman said as she moved in front of Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian noticed that the workers inside the building turned towards them in curiosity, some whispering to their colleagues. Wei Wuxian could guess that this woman most likely held a high position inside the company. He quickly leaned forward to shake her hands, not willing to make a mistake in the first instance of meeting someone at the company.

The woman raised a delicate brow, before accepting the handshake. Wei Wuxian thought he heard her mutter, “I don’t know what Wangji is thinking.”

From those words, and the casual use of Lan Wangji’s name, Wei Wuxian understood that she was most likely friends with Lan Wangji.

“I’m Wen Qing.” The woman greeted, before letting go of Wei Wuxian’s hand. She started to walk away, and Wei Wuxian hurried to catch up.

“I’ve been serving as Mr Lan’s unofficial PA for 3 years but officially, I’m the head of the design department. Mr Lan has entrusted you to me, so I’ll settle you in and show you the ropes before you officially start.” Wen Qing explained.

She steered Wei Wuxian towards a lift as she continued to talk, “as you should know, we’re in the textile industry over at Lan Enterprise. We are the leading company in the industry and we’re looking to expand to the west. There are more than 20 floors in the building and 17 departments. As Mr Lan’s PA, you’ll do well to familiarise yourself with each department and the leader of each department.”

Wei Wuxian listened with rapt attention; features pulled into concentration. He did not interrupt Wen Qing and had so far been respectful of her. That made Wen Qing feel better about him. As they entered the lift, she glanced at Wei Wuxian. He was dressed in a suit that clearly looked new, and ironed. His lips were plump and red, he had a high nose bridge, his eyes looked tender and when he had smiled at her in greeting, she could clearly see this man’s beauty. He was clearly nervous, but he tried hard not to show it and overall, he looked very pleasing to the eye. If this were any other company, Wen Qing would have loved such a good-looking co-worker, however, in a jungle like environment like Lan Enterprise… Wei Wuxian… he just looked easy to bully.

Wen Qing sighed, once again cursing her gossiping heart.

Since Lan Wangji had assigned Wei Wuxian to her, then she had no choice but to protect him.

Wei Wuxian kept his head down, hand tightening around his briefcase. When he had decided to accept the position, he had known what he’d be getting himself into. And he knew it was for Jiang Yanli and he did not regret his decision either—but; Wei Wuxian glanced at this excessively rich looking elevator he was currently. The elevator was made of glass so that one could see the company below as they went up. Wei Wuxian saw the richness of everything in this company, saw the people who looked confident, every hair in place, their attitude, and the way they presented themselves oozed confidence and assurance.

It hadn’t been more than a few minutes and Wei Wuxian already felt as if he did not belong.

“Mr Lan has instructed me to get you familiar with each department. We’ll start with mine.” Wen Qing said after it was just the two of them left in the elevator. Wei Wuxian nodded, and kept silent. The hand holding on to his briefcase was starting to shake and his vision started to feel blurry.

Wei Wuxian was no stranger to a panic attack, and he knew if he did not calm down, he was about to have one.

Gritting his teeth, he followed after Wen Qing as they exited the elevator on the 14th floor. He dug his fingers so deep into his palm that it hurt. His steps were starting to feel heavy, and his breathing started to come out shallow. He knew it was only a matter of time before Wen Qing would notice something.

Wei Wuxian felt miserable, he felt worthless; not even an hour already and he already couldn’t bare it. Lan Wangji was doing so much for him and he needed to work hard to repay him and yet—

A respectful calling of “Mr Lan” pulled him from his thoughts. Wei Wuxian abruptly glanced up. He saw Lan Wangji standing by a window. One hand was tucked inside his pocket and he held a phone to his ear with the other hand. Three men stood to the side of him, their heads bowed in a respectful manner as they waited for him to finish his phone call.

Wei Wuxian had not seen this side to Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji stood tall; every feature hardened into a scowl. His posture exuded utter confidence and there was a feeling of overbearing from him, as if one looked at him too long, they would inevitably not be able to stand the pressure coming from him. Lan Wangji finished his phone call and Wei Wuxian watched as he turned to one of the men, speaking in a low tone of voice to him. Wei Wuxian could tell that he was angry, and he glanced at Wen Qing who had also stopped. Wei Wuxian wanted to run, be anywhere but here, he did not want to face an angry Lan Wangji.

Lan Wangji finished his conversation and glanced up, making to leave. His line of sight fell on Wei Wuxian, with his head bowed. Lan Wangji frowned, and he left the men beside him to walk towards Wei Wuxian.

Wen Qing watched in disbelief as Lan Wangji stopped in front of Wei Wuxian.

She watched in disbelief as the fierce aura surrounding him seem to diminish.

She watched as he leaned forward, and with a gentle tug, he brought Wei Wuxian’s hands up to eye level.

Then with a soft voice, he said, “stop. You’ll hurt yourself.”

Wen Qing, who prided herself on being able to school her features could not stop her expression from turning into one of disbelief. She saw the men behind Lan Wangji glance at each other as if they too could not believe what just occurred.

Wen Qing looked at Lan Wangji, then at Wei Wuxian and she grinned.

Her gossiping heart started up again.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian raised his head, staring into Lan Wangji’s eyes before slowly releasing his fingers from where they had left crescent shapes on his palm. Lan Wangji’s hold on his wrists lessened and he took a step back.

“Come with me.” Lan Wangji said, then he turned to Wen Qing, “I’ll call you to come find him in 10 minutes.”

Lan Wangji moved forward, and Wei Wuxian scrambled to follow him. As he passed by, he could hear low whispers coming from the employees around him and even Wen Qing looked stupefied, as if Lan Wangji had done something out of character. He allowed Lan Wangji to lead him to an elevator that seemed to be different to the one he had been in earlier with Wen Qing.

This elevator was not made of glass so that there was privacy for the people inside. It reminded Wei Wuxian of the one he had rode to the penthouse that Lan Wangji lived in, complete with a soft chair placed at the corner.

Lan Wangji waited for the elevator to close before pointing at the chair, “sit.” He instructed.

Lan Wangji’s face was always hard to read, and even more so at work. Wei Wuxian thought that he was not angry with him, but he also did not know how to act. So, he sat down as Lan Wangji had said, head bowed low the whole time. Lan Wangji watched his movements, almost breaking his stoic mask at how amused he was. Wei Wuxian was acting so obedient, as if he were a kid at kindergarten about to receive a scolding from his teacher.

Lan Wangji did not speak either, hands in his pocket as he waited to reach the 20th floor, where his office was located.

Only when the elevator reached its destination and Lan Wangji stepped out with Wei Wuxian did he speak.

“I’m not sure if Wen Qing told you already. But there are 22 floors to this building. The 20th floor belongs to me, the 21st belongs to my brother and the 22nd to my uncle.” Lan Wangji explained as they walked.

As soon as they stepped off the elevator, a large room which obviously belonged to Lan Wangji appeared ahead. By the large doors, there was a receptionist desk where a pretty, young man sat. Most likely Lan Wangji’s personal receptionist. The young man looked up as Lan Wangji advanced with Wei Wuxian in tow. He raised his eyebrow, getting up quickly as a sign of respect for Lan Wangji, though his eyes never strayed from Wei Wuxian’s the entire time. Wei Wuxian briefly glanced at the name plate on the counter as they passed, Wang Donghai.

Lan Wangji led Wei Wuxian inside the office, briefly switching on the lights in passing.

Wei Wuxian finally looked up, and he had to smile despite his current state. He did not know Lan Wangji that well, but the office seemed to be the very definition of who Lan Wangji was as a person. It was designed in a minimalistic style, the shade of azure blue he had begun to associate with Lan Wangji the only splash of colour in the otherwise stark white room.

Just like the ground floor, the office was sectioned into different rooms. The main room held Lan Wangji’s desk area and couches for guests to sit on.

“Spare bedroom is on the left; the kitchen is the room in the middle and the rest room is the room on the far right.” Lan Wangji explained, taking a seat on his office chair.

He indicated that Wei Wuxian should take a seat in front of him, and Wei Wuxian did so, dropping his briefcase in the haste. Lan Wangji almost snorted in amusement.

“I’m sorry.” Lan Wangji said when Wei Wuxian had finally sat down properly.

Wei Wuxian looked up, confusion on his face, “for what?”

“I wanted to get you out of there quickly, so I did not ask. Are you ok?”

Wei Wuxian had to fight to hold the tears at bay. He had been worried, so worried that he had already made things difficult for Lan Wangji. Just a couple minutes in and he was already a mess, and yet Lan Wangji was not angry. He had thought Lan Wangji was surely about to scold him for his incompetence but… he just wanted to save him from further embarrassment.

He nodded fiercely, biting his lip to stop the tears, “I’m fine. Thank you.”

Lan Wangji leaned back, “was it Wen Qing? Did she scare you? It’s my fault for not coming to personally receive you.”

Downstairs on the 14th floor, Wen Qing suddenly sneezed.

“A cold?” she muttered.

Wei Wuxian almost laughed, and shaking his head, he leaned forward, “she is just a bit scary.” He admitted.

Lan Wangji played along, tapping his finger against the desk in contemplation, “then I’ll have to deduct her salary.”

Downstairs on the 14th floor, Wen Qing sneezed again.

“Not a cold. Someone’s definitely talking about me.” She spoke.

Wei Wuxian finally laughed, eyes twinkling, “Lan Zhan! She scares me so much already please don’t make it worse!” he exclaimed.

Half a beat later, his eyes widened as he realised what he’d just said, “Mr Lan. Sorry, I meant Mr Lan.”

Cute. Lan Wangji dismissed that thought.

“Wei Wuxian.” he spoke, a seriousness catching on to his tone. Wei Wuxian also stopped, listening intently.

“I personally appointed you. I would not have done so if I had not considered your character and if I did not think, that with time, you’ll be a valuable asset for me and for the company.”

“Mr Lan…”

“Dismiss all thoughts about whether you deserve to be here or whether you have the qualifications to be. I would not have appointed you if I believed otherwise.”

“So don’t hurt yourself. Don’t make yourself feel inferior, not to me or to anyone else here.”

It was not harsh to say that Wei Wuxian truly did not have the qualifications to be there. He knew that personally. He did not have the education that he was sure most employees at Lan Enterprise had. He knew that he maybe trampled on so many other people to directly become a CEO’s personal assistant. He knew that Lan Wangji had made many exceptions for him and he was not thinking that out of self-pity. He just thought that it was a fact that he genuinely did not belong. But Lan Wangji, even when Wei Wuxian was filthy, his home the subway, under the bridge, when he had only his guitar to his name, even then he had saw something in him. Wanted him as his PA without second thoughts.

Perhaps Wei Wuxian did not deserve it, but he would work hard. Work harder than anyone else to deserve it. Whatever Lan Wangji saw in him, he would work hard to be that person, to not let Lan Wangji down. So what if Lan Enterprise was a jungle? So what if he did not have the education that others did?

He had been homeless before. He had fought for most of his life to live. Compared to that, what was Lan Enterprise?

Steeling his shoulders, Wei Wuxian did not have to pretend to feel confident this time around, he smiled at Lan Wangji.

“I won’t let you down, sir.”

“Good.” Lan Wangji answered. “I’ll have Wen Qing come find you now.”

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian sat down patiently on one of the couches placed by the window as he waited for Wen Qing and Lan Wangji’s conversation to be finished. His eyes were trained on Lan Wangji’s face, as if he could not look away. Lan Wangji had called Wen Qing up and had taken that time to go over some reports with her and Wei Wuxian had to admit that in a working environment, something about Lan Wangji was more eye catching than usual. There was a saying that men often looked even more handsome when they were working, and Wei Wuxian had to agree.

“How long do you want him to shadow me for?” Wen Qing asked, pulling Wei Wuxian’s thoughts from Lan Wangji and back to the room. It seemed like they had finished with their conversation.

“As long as he needs.” Lan Wangji responded.

“And the apartment?” Wen Qing said, and Wei Wuxian did not miss the glint in her eyes as she said that.

Wei Wuxian frowned, surmising that the conversation was about him. However, where did an apartment suddenly come into play?

“Have you found a suitable one?”

“I’ve found multiple.”

“Send the details to me.” Lan Wangji stated. “I’ll choose.”

“Oh, you’ll choose. To make sure it’s good enough for him, right?” Wen Qing responded. Lan Wangji raised an eyebrow, not missing the gossipy tone Wen Qing used as she leaned forward eagerly.

“It seems as if you want me to deduct your pay this month.” Lan Wangji answered.

Wen Qing laughed, “right never mind. I’ll send the details over to you.”

A knock pulled Wei Wuxian’s attention to the door and moments later, a tall man entered. His features were near identical to Lan Wangji and when in the same room like this, Wei Wuxian readily agreed that the Lan siblings looked too identical. The tall man, of course, was none other than Lan Xichen.

Wei Wuxian quickly got up, mirroring Wen Qing’s movements in bowing his head as a form of respect. The movement drew Lan Xichen’s eyes, and he raised an eyebrow before turning to his brother.

“Wen Qing, no need to stand on ceremony, I’ve told you.” Lan Xichen spoke softly. Wei Wuxian finally found something that was different between the Lan brothers beside the colour of their eyes. Though Wei Wuxian knew Lan Wangji was a kind person, to others who did not know him, the tone of his voice usually made one feel a sense of alienation. Lan Xichen, on the other hand, spoke in an airy, soft, sort of way. As if he was not used to yelling. His voice carried a sense of kindness.

“And neither do you…” Lan Xichen spoke, turning to Wei Wuxian.

“Wei Wuxian.” Wei Wuxian stammered in greeting and Lan Xichen smiled.

“Brother, I thought you were going on a trip?” Lan Wangji spoke.

“I was, but Doctor Bai…” Lan Xichen trailed off, eyes flickering to Wen Qing and Wei Wuxian’s for a moment, before continuing. “I will go tonight. Come, let’s go eat breakfast.”

Lan Wangji frowned, “I am not hungry. No need for brother to worry.”

Wei Wuxian had meant to tune out the conversation, obviously aware that there was an undertone to Lan Xichen’s words. He also caught the ‘Doctor Bai’ that Lan Xichen had said, and he frowned slightly as he wondered if there was something wrong with Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian did not want to pry, and he was about to turn away to diminish his presence like Wen Qing was doing when,

A traitorous growl escaped from the depths of his stomach and Wei Wuxian could only ask for the earth to swallow him up there and then.

Lan Wangji looked at him, frown deepening, “you did not eat?”

Wei Wuxian reluctantly nodded his head, silently praying for the earth to hurry and take him, “I was too nervous this morning and skipped breakfast.”

Lan Wangji silently chuckled before turning to Wen Qing, “book a table for four at the closest restaurant.”

Lan Xichen abruptly looked at his brother, gaze shifting into one of disbelief. His brother had chuckled? His brother who was “not hungry” was now booking a table at the restaurant because Wei Wuxian was hungry? He knew that his brother’s relationship with this Wei Wuxian should be special considering Lan Wangji allowed him to use his birth name as he pleased, but he did not know it was to such an extent. Lan Xichen, who had been prepared to coerce his brother into eating, fell into silent contemplation.

Wen Qing inwardly grinned at the disbelief on Lan Xichen’s face, feeling glee at finally not being the only one to experience this sort of behaviour from Lan Wangji.

“I have booked you a table for 3. I’ll send the details to your driver.” Wen Qing said moments later.

“You will not be joining us?” Lan Wangji asked.

“No. I have some designs I need to look over. Wei Wuxian can come find me on the 14th floor when you return.” Wen Qing responded, swiftly collecting the stack of reports, sending a look of pity to Lan Xichen the lightbulb, and dashing out of the room.

“Lan Zhan… sorry, Mr Lan. Should I not go with Wen Qing to learn? I’m not that hungry and I can last until lunchtime.” Wei Wuxian spoke, feeling more embarrassed by the minute. On his first day and he had almost had a panic attack, had not learnt anything so far and was now about to get free breakfast from his employer. Wasn’t this too much?

“It’s fine. You can use this time to get to know my brother. You may need to communicate with him in the future, after all.”

Wei Wuxian thought that this made sense and he reluctantly nodded his head, following Lan Wangji.

Lan Xichen the lightbulb trailed after them, a million thoughts running through his mind.

 

***

“Ah, so Wei Wuxian is the new PA you were telling me about.” Lan Xichen spoke.

They were seated inside a private booth of an upscale restaurant, one that Wei Wuxian would need to sell everything he owned to afford to eat at. Hearing his name, Wei Wuxian quickly looked up, nodding his head. He only just realised that he had only told Lan Xichen his name, and not that he was Lan Wangji’s new PA. He waited for Lan Xichen to comment on how unsuitable he was, but instead, Lan Xichen smiled, “I’m very glad that someone will finally relieve Wen Qing of her duties and take care of my brother.”

Wei Wuxian also smiled, relaxing his iron straight back a tad, “I’ll do my best.”

Lan Wangji kept quiet, wordlessly passing the menu to Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen glanced at him. Not only did his brother agree to eat because of Wei Wuxian, he was silently taking care of him too?

“Wangji, I left my phone inside the car, would you get it for me?” Lan Xichen spoke.

Lan Wangji rose without a word, nodding his head slightly and exiting the restaurant.

So obedient towards his brother? Cute. Wei Wuxian thought, keeping his eyes on the menu in order to avoid looking at Lan Xichen’s eyes.

“Have you known my brother a while?” Lan Xichen spoke after Lan Wangji was out of earshot.

“Not really.” Wei Wuxian answered truthfully.

Lan Xichen thought it was interesting. Of course, he knew who Wei Wuxian was; his brother had stood up for him against the Zhongs and he allowed himself to be called his birth name by the other man. From his brother’s behaviour, one would think that he had known Wei Wuxian for a long time. Lan Wangji had truthfully told him that he had given his new PA 2 years’ worth of pay in advance, knowing that Lan Xichen would have found out regardless. Although Lan Xichen trusted his brother and did not question his decisions, he also knew that his brother was not such an impulsive person. Now, seeing how his brother seemed to make concessions for Wei Wuxian, Lan Xichen did not know what to think.

However, if it was like this.

“Could I ask you for a favour? It is for my brother.” Lan Xichen asked. He could see that Lan Wangji had reached the car and it was only a matter of time until he returned.

“Of course.” Wei Wuxian replied. Lan Xichen noticed that he finally looked him in the eye at the mention of Lan Wangji, a seriousness coming over him.

Lan Xichen’s mouth twitched in amusement, “just two things. Ensure that he has his meals on time and that he does not stay for work longer than he has to.”

Wei Wuxian did not get to respond as Lan Wangji came in moments after, handing the phone to his brother. Wei Wuxian watched as Lan Xichen leaned back, happily chatting as if he had not just asked Wei Wuxian for the favour. Wei Wuxian also observed Lan Wangji, knowing that his brother would not have asked such a favour if something was not wrong.

He finally noticed what he had not in the state of his nervousness. Lan Wangji looked tired, as if he had not slept in a while. Moreover, he seemed to have lost quite a bit of weight since Wei Wuxian last saw him and he noticed that every once in a while, he would touch his head, as if it hurt. Wei Wuxian thought back to the Zhong family banquet. To the dark circles underneath Lan Wangji’s eyes, to how he wore sunglasses that day outside of the restaurant.

And finally, to what Lan Xichen had said earlier. Doctor Bai. Lan Xichen was meant to go on a trip, and yet, he rescheduled it for the evening in order to have breakfast with Lan Wangji. So, did this mean that Lan Wangji often skipped meals or overworked himself? Enough so that Lan Xichen was worried enough to ask Wei Wuxian to take care of him?

Wei Wuxian looked at Lan Wangji until the other man felt his gaze and he turned his head towards him in question. Wei Wuxian quickly shook his head, turning his attention back to the menu on his hand. Then, when he was sure that Lan Wangji was not paying attention, he caught Lan Xichen’s eye.

“I’ll do my best.” he mouthed his earlier words, and this time he meant them even more. Lan Wangji had done so much for him already, Wei Wuxian would try his best to take care of him.

Lan Xichen smile, relief overflowing his expression, “thank you.” He answered.

He did not know the nature of his brother and Wei Wuxian’s relationship. But from the little he had seen so far, he had hope that Wei Wuxian would be good for his brother.

Chapter Text

“Pumpkin spice latte again?”

Wei Wuxian looked up from his phone, giving the barista a sheepish smile before nodding. Then, his eyes shifted to the pastries placed neatly behind her. “And 2 brownies, please.”

The barista nodded, getting to work and Wei Wuxian used that time to send a rapid text to Lan Wangji. From where he stood in front of the line, he could see Lan Wangji’s car parked on the other side of the road, the windows tinted black to give privacy to the man inside. He could only hope that Lan Wangji did not mind waiting an extra 5 minutes.

It had already been more than 2 weeks since Wei Wuxian officially began his role as Lan Wangji’s PA and so far, his daily tasks had somehow become making sure that Lan Wangji had his meals on time. He had heard one of the gossiping staff refer to him as a “nanny” several times and although he knew they said it to make fun of him, Wei Wuxian honestly could not disagree with their words.

Lan Wangji was difficult; Lan Wangji did not know what it meant to take care of himself and more often than not, Wei Wuxian often found himself frustrated at the lack of care Lan Wangji displayed to himself. Taking care of the company, the employees, of his brother and even making sure Wei Wuxian did not find his job difficult, Lan Wangji could do. Taking care of himself, however?

Wei Wuxian blew out a breath, quickly collecting the food he ordered and dashing out of the coffee shop. He crossed the road and knocked twice on the window, a sign for Lan Wangji’s driver to unlock the car.

Wei Wuxian entered the car, settling in beside Lan Wangji and turning to the other man with a frown. The driver, who had long been used to this PA breaking normal conventions, tacitly drove off and even put up the privacy partition for extra measure. Wei Wuxian ignored the driver, eyes trailing across Lan Wangji’s face and frown deepening the more he looked.

“Sir,” he began, and Lan Wangji exhaled a breath, knowing he was about to be scolded.

Sure enough, Wei Wuxian’s lips turned into an even more disapproving frown, “did you not promise me yesterday that you wouldn’t stay up late looking over the proposals from Koening?”

Lan Wangji also looked at Wei Wuxian under the sunglasses he wore. And not for the first time in the 2 weeks that Wei Wuxian officially became his PA, he wondered how he let himself walk into such a trap. Between his brother and Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji did not know who could nag more. Lan Wangji found himself even missing Wen Qing and he sighed once again, lamenting his fate.

In a tone that sounded very much wronged, Lan Wangji responded, “I did not stay up any later than I normally do.”

Wei Wuxian tutted, handing the latte to Lan Wangji and looking at him with an appraising eye, “then why are the dark circles underneath your eyes even worse?”

“I am wearing sunglasses.”

“I can still see them.”

Lan Wangji sighed once again, drinking the latte without another word. Due to his praise for the latte once before, Wei Wuxian had assumed that he liked sweet things and would constantly get him the drink every morning. Lan Wangji could only drink with a straight face each time, not having the heart to tell him to stop.

“Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian said.

The driver at the front could only roll his eyes. Calling him sir one moment then his birth name the next. What’s the use of pretending to call him sir?

“Wei Wuxian.” Lan Wangji responded.

“Do I have to physically move in with you to take care of you?”

Lan Wangji’s lips twitched, “no need. Your new apartment is almost ready and moving in to take care of me is not in your job description.”

Wei Wuxian almost rolled his eyes, choosing not to debate the topic of his new apartment for a moment. Lan Wangji had informed him just last week that he had purchased him a new apartment close to Lan Enterprise and that it would be ready soon. It had since been an ongoing battle of Wei Wuxian insisting he did not need a new apartment and Lan Wangji insisting that he did. Jiang Cheng had once said Wei Wuxian was a sugar baby; at this point, was he not correct? And Lan Wangji, did he truly have money clouding up his brain that he did not mind squandering it away like that?

“I will call and complain to your brother.” Wei Wuxian spoke.

The driver could not help but react once again, thinking to himself how is he a PA? Isn’t he just like a nagging boyfriend?

Lan Wangji raised an eyebrow, fingers moving to tug gently on Wei Wuxian’s ear before he could comprehend his actions. “Using my brother to threaten me? Two weeks in and you have already grown wings.”

Wei Wuxian grinned, inwardly thinking about how soft Lan Wangji’s fingers were and not realising how his actions could look to outsiders, leaned in and used both hands to take off Lan Wangji’s sunglasses. His face was close to Lan Wangji’s and this close, he could see that the dark circles had indeed gotten worse and despite how much he tried to make sure Lan Wangji had his meals on time, his face had still lost a bit of weight.

“I will also ask your brother to complain to your uncle.” Wei Wuxian said, voice turning into a whisper without his realisation. Wei Wuxian did not know what it was about Lan Wangji’s eyes, but he could not help but be drawn in every time he looked at them like this. Lan Wangji stared at him for a moment, feeling the ear his fingers were still holding turn slightly hot before he released his hold.

Turning away, he glanced outside the window.

Wei Wuxian felt an awkwardness immediately, darting quickly away from Lan Wangji, fingers still gripping the sunglasses.

He coughed twice and spoke in a voice he hoped did not sound off, “I’m sorry, sir. I was out of line.”

Lan Wangji remained silent for a while before turning to Wei Wuxian, “book a seat for us at Bai for after the meeting with Koening today.”

Wei Wuxian resisted grinning with triumph, the previous awkwardness fading away, “and you’ll take your pills and try to sleep on time?”

“Don’t push your luck.” Lan Wangji responded, snatching his sunglasses back and facing the window once again with purpose.

Wei Wuxian, who had a sense of accomplishment whipped out his phone, happily dialling the familiar number to book a reservation.

And the driver, who once again, felt as if he could foretell the future kept driving on, making a mental note to himself to get even closer to Wei Wuxian.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian absentmindedly stared out the window, stifling a yawn. Perhaps due to how much it had rained since the beginning of September, it was unusually hot this morning. From where he sat, he could see people milling about, all looking like ants from his vintage point. The building he was currently in was extravagant, to say the least. While the Lan Enterprise building valued the simple, monochromatic aesthetic, this building leaned more into extravagance and blatantly showing off.

This was the Koening Company’s building, and Wei Wuxian was currently inside one of the waiting lounges while Lan Wangji attended his meeting. The chair Wei Wuxian sat on was placed next to the window, a purple, soft velvet that Wei Wuxian only resisted rubbing with his fingers. He had the extra brownie from the money placed on the table and a mocha he had purchased from the cafeteria downstairs.

Not for the first time since he started the job, Wei Wuxian wondered how his life changed so drastically in a little under six months. Just a few months ago, he was battling the cold and hunger without a solid roof over his head. He did not know when his next meal would be nor did he expect to ever escape from that sort of life either. And now, he was sat in an extravagant building, mingling with the rich and famous; PA to one of the most influential young CEO in the country. Now, he could be inside a building and look down upon people.

He had already accepted that he would be homeless forever, maybe die young underneath a bridge and no one would care. Maybe a paragraph in the newspaper or a mention on the news, and that would be it. And whilst Wei Wuxian wanted more from life, he had not dreamt of even achieving more. All he had to his name was his guitar and Wei Wuxian did not consider himself talented enough to be randomly scouted and taken from homelessness to an overnight famous sensation.

So, Wei Wuxian had accepted it, and muddled his way through life. And then?

Wei Wuxian frowned, eyes moving to the closed red door just beyond the waiting lounge; the room which Lan Wangji was currently having a meeting.

And then, Lan Wangji came.

Wei Wuxian had longed stopped believing in God, he did not believe that there was a God happy to watch the people he created suffer and not intervene. He did not believe in the so-called “God’s plan” and he knew he had only himself and no one else to rely on. He knew that even more when he had fallen into Madame Zhao’s hands and he had been constantly exploited and powerless to stop her from using him. So, Wei Wuxian was really not expecting anything from this so-called God, and yet…

Yet, Lan Wangji honestly felt like a miracle to him.

So far it had been Lan Wangji helping him out at every turn, without demanding anything from him in return. Lan Wangji had never forced him to do anything and even if Wei Wuxian was not a top tier PA and he still made mistakes, Lan Wangji did not hold that against him. Even when Wei Wuxian called him by name, nagged at him or scolded him, Lan Wangji did not do anything to him. Wei Wuxian even felt like if he ever decided that he no longer wanted to be his PA, Lan Wangji would let him go without demanding the money back. Wei Wuxian did not know whether to laugh or cry at just how accommodating Lan Wangji was.

And against his better judgements, he thought… was Lan Wangji also this accommodating to Zhong Chunhua? Did he dote on her and made concessions for her just like this? Wei Wuxian could not help but think that Zhong Chunhua was lucky, and he could only hope that she felt lucky and treated Lan Wangji as he deserved to be treated.

Because if he were Zhong Chunhua’s position, he definitely would…

Wei Wuxian dismissed his straying thoughts, shaking his head to get rid of them for extra measure. He glanced at his watch, rolling his eyes at just how long the meeting was taking. Koening had not only had the audacity to demand Lan Wangji come to their company in person, multiple of their executives were late and did not even bother apologising for it. To top it off, they kept Lan Wangji behind schedule and Wei Wuxian could not help but be worried that Lan Wangji would refuse to eat in order to keep to schedule.

As Wei Wuxian seriously considered pulling the fire alarm and creating a disturbance, his eyes caught a flash of blonde hair and his eyes widened slightly in recognition. Up ahead, a young man was entering the lounge; he had curly, blonde hair and light brown eyes. And his tan skin and doll like features could not be mistaken. This was the young man that Zhong Haoran had his arms over during the Zhong family banquet.

The man also noticed Wei Wuxian and his full lips curved into a charming smile. Striding forward, he took a seat in front of Wei Wuxian.

“Are you also here for the interview?” he asked.

Wei Wuxian frantically glanced behind him, and only when he did not see Zhong Haoran emerge, did he relax, “interview?”

“For Koening. For their new winter line.” The man responded.

Wei Wuxian could not keep up with this person’s brain circuits, “what winter line?”

The man blew out an exasperated breath, “their new clothing line! Though I’m guessing you’re not a model if you didn’t know that. Which is good for me because if someone as beautiful as you were my competition, they would never pick me.”

Wei Wuxian scrutinised the man, wondering how someone with such a good disposition ended up with Zhong Haoran.

“Oh, I never told you my name! I’m An Wenyan.” The man introduced. Wei Wuxian did not know it was possible to meet someone more all over the place than he was, but An Wenyan proved him wrong.

“Wei Wuxian.” he responded with a smile.

“So, Wei Wuxian, if you are not here for the modelling job, why are you here? Getting into a company like Koening is not easy, even my backer had to work hard to get me this interview.” An Wenyan informed matter of factly, as if admitting to a total stranger that he had a backer in the industry was nothing to him.

Wei Wuxian once again, could not help wondering how such a man ended up with Zhong Haoran. Though, if Zhong Haoran was the ‘backer’ then it made more sense.

“I’m here with my boss.” Wei Wuxian answered.

An Wenyan grinned, leaning forward, “is your boss looking for a bed warmer? Sugar baby? Whatever you want to call it.”

Wei Wuxian laughed, imagining Lan Wangji’s face if he were here, “I don’t think so.”

“Oh.” An Wenyan pouted, “I suppose I’ll just have to stick to my current backer then.”

Wei Wuxian continued smiling, ears pricking at the sound of footsteps and An Wenyan perked up, facing the door.

“That must be more models on their way up. Help me scare them off, will you?”

The footsteps sounded heavy, as if the owner did not care about making noise in the otherwise peaceful building. As the footsteps got nearer, Wei Wuxian smelt smoke and his eyes darted to the No Smoking sign. This person also clearly did not care about following the rules.

Then, the person entered the room, cigarette dangling off his lips, and Wei Wuxian’s smile immediately froze.

“Haoran.” An Wenyan called with a smile, though Wei Wuxian briefly noticed that he flinched slightly before hesitating to get up.

Zhong Haoran raised an eyebrow, eyes darting to Wei Wuxian’s. And a slightly lecherous smile appeared on his lips.