Lan Wangji knew something was wrong before he even opened his eyes.
Usually, he would wake up to Wei Ying’s reassuring weight on top of him and the sound of his husband’s steady breathing in his ears. The notable absence of it this morning was...unexpected.
He frowned. Wei Ying never wakes up this early.
Where did he go?
Lan Wangji slowly got up from bed.
“Wei Ying?” He got no response.
Lan Wangji checked Wei Ying’s office first. His work table was messy with scattered notebooks and talisman papers all over, but the room itself was decidedly empty. Lan Wangji’s frown deepened. Jingshi wasn’t all that big. By the time he finished looking around everywhere including the bathroom, Lan Wangji knew one thing for sure: Wei Ying was not inside.
Maybe he went for a walk , Lan Wangji thought to himself.
Wei Ying did that sometimes when he was too fidgety. Usually, he pestered Lan Wangji until Lan Wangji gave him his full attention, but there were rare occasions in which Wei Ying didn’t want to “mess” with Lan Wangji’s peace and quiet. Frankly, as long as it was Wei Ying, Lan Wangji didn’t mind. He had told Wei Ying as much, and Wei Ying had given him a blindingly beautiful smile in return.
“Lan Zhan...you are just too good, you know that?” That was what he said before proceeding to show Lan Wangji just how good he thought Lan Wangji was.
But today it felt different. He didn’t know how, but it just did.
Lan Wangji couldn’t quite shake off the feeling of something not being right. Lan Wangji set about his morning routine with an unsettled mind. His morning meditation wasn’t successful with Wei Ying’s absence in the room like a void that Lan Wangji couldn’t ignore. True, Wei Ying wouldn’t even be awake even if he was there, but for Lan Wangji, just having Wei Ying there was enough.
He had lived thirteen years without Wei Ying. Now that he had him back, Lan Wangji didn’t like it when Wei Ying was out of his sight. Wei Ying’s mere presence soothed the deep loneliness inside him. Without Wei Ying though, the yawning emptiness of all those years came rushing back. He could have at least told Lan Wangji before he left. Where was he?
It was breakfast time and there was still no sign of Wei Ying. Lan Wangji was really concerned. Wei Ying had been...not quite himself for the past few days. He’s been acting weird, flighty, secretive even. Did Wei Ying get bored of living in Cloud Recesses and take off without Lan Wangji? Lan Wangji knew it wasn’t easy for Wei Ying to be here under Uncle’s constant disapproval. But Wei Ying did it because he loved Lan Wangji and didn’t want to be away from him. Since Lan Wangji himself was a person who was too deep rooted in the quiet, misty mountains of Cloud Recesses, Wei Ying had joined him here.
But now...did he really leave Lan Wangji?
His breath caught at the thought. Wei Ying wouldn’t do that, Lan Wangji knows Wei Ying wouldn’t leave him. Wei Ying loves him, but the fear was there all the same. He pushed it to the back of his mind. Wei Ying will be back.
Lan Wangji was about to leave for his morning classes for juniors when Lan Xichen of all people came to meet him. Brother had gotten out of seclusion a few months back, but he hadn’t assumed his full sect duties yet. Lan Wangji tried not to show his surprise as he greeted him. He noted that the usual smile was absent on his brother.
“Xiongzhang, are you okay?”
Brother pressed his lips into a thin line, face uncharacteristically grave.
“Wangji...I...I found this slipped under my door this morning. It’s from Young Master Wei.”
Wei Ying? Lan Wangji’s heart quickened. Why would Wei Ying write to brother and not him? What was so bad that Wei Ying wanted brother to be the one who gave it to him? Lan Wangji accepted the sealed letter from Lan Xichen with a trembling hand.
Inside, it said,
Stop that, I am not leaving you. Why would you even think something so ridiculous? Where would I go without you?
You’re a real fuddy-duddy if you thought you could be free of me like that, haha. But, I had an emergency for which I needed to leave. I thought about waking you but you were sleeping so peacefully. You’re so cute when you sleep, Lan Zhan. You pout like an infant, did you know that?
Anyway, now that you’re awake, I want you to come and get me. But, I can’t tell you where I am. Instead, I can give you clues to figure that out. Since you love rules so much, there are some that you need to follow.
- You should absolutely not seek help. You have to find me yourself, okay? That’s important.
- No unnecessary use of spiritual powers. That’s cheating.
- No cold glares towards my helpers, and yes, that includes Xichen-Ge.
- Do not intimidate others into doing what you want either.
- This is more of a bonus than a rule. If you find me fast enough, we might have time for a little interlude. You would like that, wouldn’t you?
First clue: Home is where your heart is. Of all the places in the world, there’s only one place that I call home.
You have been removed from your duties for the day, so come to me as soon as possible, will you? I’m waiting for you.
Lan Wangji exhaled in relief. Wei Ying wasn’t leaving him. He could feel the corner of his lips twitching at Wei Ying’s words. Wei Ying knew him too well.
“What is it Wangji?” Brother asked seriously, but Lan Wangji knew him like no one else did and so even without Wei Ying’s note, Lan Wangji would have known he was involved. It was easy for him to spot the twinkle in his eyes.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Lan Xichen said, which meant he obviously knew what Lan Wangji was talking about. Lan Wangji looked at his brother, looked back at Wei Ying’s note and sighed again. If Wei Ying wanted Lan Wangji to play his little game, then that’s what Lan Wangji would do.
“Very well, I will play along.” Lan Wangji informed his brother before turning back around. He pretended not to see the gleeful look in Lan Xichen’s eyes as he laughed silently at him.
Home was Jingshi, obviously. But where in Jingshi? Lan Wangji intended to find out.
After the third sweep of their bed, Lan Wangji was a little frustrated . There is nothing here , Lan Wangji thought. There was not an inch of space in Jingshi that Lan Wangji had left unchecked.
Where else would Wei Ying leave the clue?
Home is where your heart is…
It’s then that Lan Wangji remembered a conversation from long ago. It was on their way back from Guanyin Temple, Wei Ying had chattered away at Lan Wangji at length. But then, for a moment, he had become completely serious and told Lan Wangji:
“Lan Zhan, I have never really had a home of my own before, you know that? Yunmeng was home, but it’s never really been mine. Burial Mound was home, but again, I was there only because I didn’t have a choice. I have never had a choice. But you...You are the home I choose, Lan Zhan. Wherever you go, I’ll follow because of all the places I’ve been in, you are the only true home that I have found.”
Wei Ying’s puzzle was so easy. Lan Wangji didn’t know why it took him so long to see that.
Jingshi was Wei Ying’s home because Lan Wangji lived there. Lan Wangji’s heart was where Wei Ying made a home for himself. Lan Wangji touched his chest and pressed a hand into his robe. Sure enough, tucked into the inside pocket of his robes was a note in Wei Ying’s messy scrawl.
How Wei Ying knew Lan Wangji would choose this robe today, Lan Wangji didn’t know.
He opened the note.
I bet you spent an inordinately long time searching Jingshi, didn’t you?
Lan Zhan, ah, Lan Zhan. How can you forget such a simple truth?
Wei Ying loves Lan Zhan. Lan Zhan is and always will be Wei Ying’s home. No one else has ever loved me like you do, Lan Zhan. Without reservation, without demands. You even let me drool on your chest every night.
I know I am a lot to handle, but you have never hesitated for a second no matter how ridiculous I acted. No matter how much I annoy you, whine at you, mess with you, you always take all that and still continue to love me the same.
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen to me if I didn’t have you. Then I become all the more grateful that I do have you and will have to never know what it feels like to be without you.
I didn’t want this second life, Lan Zhan. But if you’re there with me, I’d live a thousand more lives.
For you, with you, anything as long as it’s you.
PS: Now, you need to look on the other side, okay?
On the opposite side, he found a single word accompanied by the next clue:
Where to go next? Nights are beautiful. Moonlit nights are even more so. But there’s nothing more beautiful than moonlight caught in jade.
That was too easy. Rooftop! Some of the juniors and Sect Elders gaped at Lan Wangji as they saw the illustrious Hanguang-Jun up on the roof in broad daylight. Lan Wangji didn’t mind...much. There, waiting for him on that same ledge where they once dueled was another note.
I just wanted to remind you that even though I never said it out loud, my first thought when I saw you that night was that you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. It’s true, you know.
In both my lives, I have never seen anything as beautiful as you in the moonlight. Lan Zhan is always beautiful, but moonlight just makes you seem so so...ethereal. Like no one should even touch you for fear of tainting you. I have always gone after the impossible, Lan Zhan. And you, you were the most impossible thing in my life.
I am eternally grateful that I got this second opportunity to live it with you. What was once impossible is now possible and I am not ashamed to say that I am a bit too smug that of all the other beautiful, better people in this world, I’m the one who gets to touch you, hold you, cherish and love you. I’m the one who gets to call you ‘mine’. How lucky is that, huh?
Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to remind you that I too have loved you from the very beginning. I just didn’t know it. It’s always been you for me, Lan Zhan. Always will be. How could it be possible for anyone else to ever compare to you? It’s no surprise that we found each other again in this second life. Because it’s us and no matter where you are, where I am, we will always find our way back to each other.
But you can’t find the next clue here. Haha. This is just a small stop on the way. Think again, another moonlit night. Just you and I.
It took Lan Wangji a few moments to collect himself. Wei Ying’s words reflected exactly how Lan Wangji felt that night when Wei Ying aimed that blinding smile of his at Lan Wangji. From there, Lan Wangji had fallen hard and fast. He hadn’t understood it at first, the way his heart raced and palms became clammy at the mere sight of Wei Ying and his brilliant smile. Wei Ying was everything Lan Wangji was not. Warm, friendly, charming, wild…
Lan Wangji hadn’t known what to do with all the feelings Wei Ying elicited in him.
Attraction, anger at his own weakness, shame that he couldn’t help but want more of Wei Ying… By the time Wei Ying had left, Lan Wangji had known that there would be no one else for him. Even knowing that Wei Ying liked girls, Lan Wangji hadn’t been able to help himself.
He ran his hands over the precious words one more time. Then he carefully folded the letter and put it in his robe with the first one, close to his heart.
He knew where to go next. The Cold Spring.
Lan Wangji definitely did not run to the Cold Spring, running was forbidden after all, but he did walk a lot faster than his normal pace. For some reason, Lan Wangji found himself enjoying Wei Ying’s little scavenger hunt. It reminded Lan Wangji of the times mother set her own little scavenger hunts for Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen within the limited space of the Gentian House. It was a good memory, but Lan Wangji hadn’t played it since mother died. He had forgotten how much he used to enjoy those.
The Cold Spring was empty, thankfully. Lan Wangji assumed that it had something to do with Brother. Usually at this time of the day, it wasn’t so hard to find disciples milling around the Cold Spring.
Lan Wangji paused at the edge and thought for a moment. Where would Wei Ying put the note? This time, Lan Wangji figured it out easily enough. Lan Wangji had a favorite rock to meditate on. More than that, there was that one time when they had made love in the Cold Spring. Lan Wangji hadn’t even meant for that to happen, but it was night and they were alone and Wei Ying looked so beautiful all glistening and wet for Lan Wangji.
A dazzling smile. A soft purr. “Lan-Er-Gege, won’t you look at your Wei Ying?”
Wei Ying had sprawled on that rock spread-eagled and Lan Wangji’s famous self restraint had broken, as it always did with Wei Ying. Lan Wangji’s ears turned red at the mere memory of what they had done to each other on that rock.
Taking a fortifying breath against the memory, he carefully divested his clothes one by one and walked in. The water was cold as always, but Lan Wangji had always liked the feeling. He had spent way too much time here in those short few months when Wei Ying lived here all those years ago. There was no note to be found anywhere on the rock. Since Lan Wangji knew his husband, he also knew that Wei Ying wouldn’t have left it where the disciples might notice. As expected, he found the note stuck to the rock under water, protected by one of Wei Ying’s waterproof talismans.
Fast, aren’t you? Don’t be too smug. This clue was too easy.
The first time I saw you here, you were so mad, remember? At least I thought you were mad. But it wasn’t until later that I found out my Lan-Er-Gege wasn’t mad after all. He was just trying so hard not to push me against this rock and have his wicked way with me, wasn’t he?
But Lan Zhan, you should have done precisely that. What a bother I used to be! It would have shut me up promptly, you know. But it’s okay since you have rectified that more times than I could count by now. So powerful, my Lan-Er-Gege. Wei Ying will always take whatever his Lan Zhan wants to give him without protest.
Aiyah, Lan Zhan! Your ears are burning. Why do you still find it shameful after everything that we have already done to each other? Wei Ying loves it. Lan Zhan loves it. Then what is there to be ashamed of? We are each other’s, aren’t we?
Lan Zhan, when I came here that second first time, all I wanted was to leave. You brought me here to protect me and I couldn’t wait to leave. I remember seeing the scars on your back first and wondering what this man could have done to deserve such a severe punishment. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was you, the model disciple of Gusu Lan—all scarred and glowing and heartbreakingly beautiful.
It was here that I first realized that maybe I didn’t know you as well as I thought I did after all. Then you turned around and I saw the mark on your chest and I still couldn’t remember.
Wei Ying was such a fool!
There are times when I wonder how you manage not to resent me for all that I’ve done, you know? You’ve suffered so much because of me. Too much. Thirteen years...all those scars...and even before. I have wounded you so much. Then I remember that it’s you and you, husband of mine, are the most loyal, steadfast person I know. And to think that I didn’t remember anything you’ve done for me at all! Not until Zewu-Jun spelled it out for me.
Despite all that hurt between us, you still continue to love me. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I am never ever letting you go. I have been such a fool for so long and yet, you never faltered in your love. Not even once. I will spend the rest of my life doing everything in my power to be worthy of that.
But Lan Zhan, you really are too quiet. Why do you have to be so quiet all the time? Lan Zhan should speak up for himself more often, should never let me forget anything he does for me. You are too important to me for that, Hanguang-Jun. I don’t want to hurt you like before ever again.
Lan Zhan is loved. Lan Zhan’s quiet devotion and unconditional love is accepted and appreciated and returned manyfolds. If Lan Zhan gets hurt even one more time because of Wei Ying, it would destroy me. You have been hurt enough. No more, Lan Zhan. You deserve all my love and none of the hurt. You always have.
I will never take you for granted again, Lan Zhan. Never. Ever. That’s my promise to you. I love you.
Only ever yours,
On the back of the letter it said:
There’s always more to know in the quiet. Write down everything you don’t want to forget.
Wei Ying didn’t have to write all that down. Lan Wangji knew. Lan Wangji knew that Wei Ying felt guilty for the scars on his body. He didn’t have to say it out loud for Lan Wangji to know that. It was obvious in the quiet care he put into worshipping each scar on his body. It was obvious when one night while washing Lan Wangji’s back, Wei Ying simply pressed his forehead to Lan Wangji’s back and had shed hot tears silently.
Lan Wangji’s back wasn’t completely lacking in feeling to not know that.
Later, Wei Ying had acted as if nothing happened and Lan Wangji had let him. But the truth was, Lan Wangji wouldn’t have regretted those scars even if Wei Ying hadn’t come back. Wei Ying shouldn’t blame himself for Lan Wangji’s decisions.
Wei Ying merely smiled at him when he told him that.
“Nothing you say will change the way I feel about them, Lan Zhan.”
Lan Wangji didn’t push it further. Over time, he had come to believe that Wei Ying had gotten over the worst of the unnecessary guilt.
Lan Wangji held in a sigh. Maybe tonight, he can make his point when he gets Wei Ying alone?
Lan Wangji was still in thought when he reached the library. This time, he didn’t bother looking around before going straight to the poetry section. It was carefully hidden, but Lan Wangji still found Wei Ying’s note in between the pages of the same poetry collection he had been reading all those years ago before Wei Ying switched it with a book of erotic illustrations.
You’re getting faster, but it’s the library, so I’m not surprised. We have so many memories here, don’t we? All those silencing spells you used on me...what a waste. But I still got to you, didn’t I?
It was only during my second life that I realized how much of the time I spent here was just me looking at you. I didn’t know it back then, Lan Zhan. But I have always looked at you. Never been able to look away from you. Your stern face, the graceful arch of your neck, beautiful slope of your nose, sharp cheeks, petal soft looking lips...How could I have not seen it sooner?
The only thing I wanted to do was draw you. You are the most beautiful subject I have ever had. Not just because you’re pretty, Lan Zhan. But because you’re beautiful.
Innately, purely, beautiful! I just had to capture that in paper, you know?
And also, who would have thought someone so noble, known and respected by everyone for his restraint, would have such wild fantasies, huh? Let me tell you a secret Lan Zhan? Every time we’ve been here since that dream, it gets really uncomfortable for me to sit still if...you know...you’re not inside. That’s why I beg so prettily for my Gege to fill me up. You’re so mean, Lan Zhan. You’ve ruined the library for me. How could you? It literally twitches if you’re not in it. Pretty Gege should give his Wei Ying more attention.
Anyway, congratulations on reaching this far! My Lan-Er-Gege is the best. So fast and capable, my Lan Zhan. Come to me soon, would you? Wei Ying misses you. Find me, Lan Zhan, I am waiting for you.
Lan Wangji’s hands shook as he folded and put the note inside his robe. Wei Ying was deliberately taunting him. Lan Wangji knew. It didn’t help the way his blood heated and rushed downward. Lan Wangji took a few deep breaths, crushed the desire devouring him like fire and turned the page. This time though, there was no clue. Wei Ying’s messily scribbled words read:
Before you continue, I want you to do something for me Lan Zhan. You remember my favorite childhood game? I want you to play it. Please please please do it for your Wei Ying, Lan-Er-Gege. You know where to go. For this, you can use Bichen because it might take too long otherwise. But no other exceptions, okay?
Beneath were hand drawn hearts and kisses.
Lan Wangji smiled at Wei Ying’s silliness. To anybody else, it wouldn’t have looked any different from his usual stern expression, but those who knew him would know that he was genuinely enjoying himself. Wei Ying had talked enough about his Yunmeng days that Lan Wangji knew what he wanted to do. It was also something that Lan Wangji had no prior experience in.
To Caiyi town it was.
Lan Wangji looked at the vendor who had given him a crimson red kite with black borders and long crimson tails. Just like Wei Ying’s ribbon. Lan Wangji didn’t even have to ask before the man saw him, smiled widely and said,
“Hanguang-Jun, you’re here!”
He had then handed over the kite to a stunned Lan Wangji.
“Your husband came by. He chose this for you. He also said that you are not familiar with flying kites. A-Shen could help you if you want?” The man pointed to a gangly child who stood with his friends and gawked at him from across the street. The child looked mildly terrified.
Lan Wangji looked at the contraption in his hands. A roll of thread, a paper kite. How hard it could be to fly a kite?
“No, thank you. I will manage.”
He didn’t spare another glance at the kid before walking to the clear field nearby. There, for the first time in his life, Lan Wangji, Second Jade of Lan tried to fly a kite.
Turned out flying a kite was very hard indeed.
Lan Wangji tried. He tried hard with the single minded focus he always put into the things that mattered. If Wei Ying wanted Lan Wangji to do this for him, then Lan Wangji would do it. The problem was, Lan Wangji’s kite simply refused to fly up. After the latest failure, Lan Wangji looked helplessly at his kite and then did not glare at the roll of thread. He didn’t know what to do.
“Mister,” A timid voice from below. Lan Wangji looked down to see the same boy—A-Shen—from before looking at him with big, fearful eyes. Lan Wangji knelt down so that he wouldn’t be looming over the child.
“Would you like to help me?”
“How do you do this?”
A-Shen had a kite of his own. He told Lan Wangji what to do and what not to do. It was slightly amusing to see a small child assuming such a grave face for teaching Hanguang-Jun the art of flying a kite.
“You need to pay attention to the wind direction and adjust accordingly,” the child told him.
Lan Wangji listened carefully to his instructions and nodded appropriately.
“Now you try,” A-Shen told him after a quick demonstration of his own.
Lan Wangji couldn’t help the smile that actually managed to break out in elation as his kite finally managed to get off the ground to fly up and above. It looked beautiful against the clear blue skies. A bright spot of color. Just like Wei Ying.
Lan Wangji’s heart was light when he walked back to the vendor, who also happened to be A-Shen’s father.
“Thank you,” Lan Wangji told him again.
“That’s okay, Hanguang-Jun. Master Wei said you might be...reticent...to accept help at first.”
“Here, he gave this to me before he left,” the man extended another sealed note towards Lan Wangji.
“Thank you,” Lan Wangji said again as he accepted. He didn’t wait to reach Cloud Recesses before he opened it.
That was so adorable!! You are so adorable!! I feel like squishing your cheeks!!!! You looked so cute, Lan Zhan!! All serious and stubborn trying to fly that kite.
Lan Wangji raised his eyes from the note and did a quick look around. Wei Ying was here? How could he be here and not come to Lan Wangji? The market place was too crowded for Lan Wangji to have any hope of finding him. He turned back to the rest of the letter.
Hanguang-Jun, it’s not the time. Don’t look for me now. We have to wait for the right time. Go back. You won’t find me even if you look. Because I want my Lan Zhan to find me the right way, and that’s through my clues. Don’t sulk, Lan Zhan. Don’t you know that I am always with you even when I am not near you? I love my Lan Zhan soooooo much!!!! I know it wasn’t easy for you, but wasn’t it fun, Hanguang-Jun? We should fly one together next time.
Lan Zhan, ah, Lan Zhan! You really will do anything for me, won’t you? How can I love you more than I already do? Have some mercy on my heart, Lan Zhan. It’s going to burst one day if you keep this up with all this love that I can’t hold.
Break time’s over though. On the other side, you’ll find your clue.
Below was another long slew of kissy face drawings. A stick figure laying his heart down before the feet of another stick figure with a forehead ribbon.
On the other side, Wei Ying had written:
A courting gift which wasn’t a courting gift which was absolutely a courting gift.
Sizhui and Jingyi were feeding the rabbits when Lan Wangji reached the rabbit field.
“Hanguang-Jun!” Lan Jingyi exclaimed, loud and excited as was typical for him.
“Hanguang-Jun.” Lan Sizhui was the exact opposite of Lan Jingyi—calm, steady.
Lan Wangji also noticed that Lan Sizhui’s left hand was gripping Lan Jingyi’s with much more force than necessary behind their robes. The other boy was practically vibrating on his feet.
“What is it?” Lan Wangji asked them.
“Hanguang-Jun!! Senior Wei-”
“Ouch!” Lan Jingyi jumped a foot off the ground and glared at Lan Sizhui who had obviously stomped on his foot.
“Why would you do that!!!” Lan Jingyi nearly weeped.
“Because you were going to spoil Senior Wei’s surprise for Hanguang-Jun.”
“I wouldn’t have said anything!”
Lan Sizhui just looked at him and Lan Jingyi yielded, bowing his head. Lan Wangji was proud. Lan Sizhui had mastered the look .
“You know where Wei Ying is?”
“We are not supposed to tell you, Hanguang-Jun.” Lan Sizhui’s tone was apologetic.
Lan Wangji picked up a rabbit who came sniffing at his feet and took him into the cradle of his arms.
“You are not, I suppose.” He said while running his hands over the tiny creature in his arms. The baby rabbit snuggled in, seeking even more tactile contact.
“But we are supposed to tell you something, Hanguang-Jun.” Lan Sizhui looked at his feet.
“Uhm...that...ah...Hanguang-Jun…” Sizhui’s face was an alarming shade of red. He looked helplessly at Lan Jingyi who proudly declared,
“Don’t look at me. You were the one who stopped me from saying anything. Do it yourself.”
“Ah...youshouldscandalizegrandmasterlanifyouwantthenextclue!” Lan Sizhui said it so fast Lan Wangji took a moment to process the words.
“Don’t look at us, Hanguang-Jun. That’s what Senior Wei said. We are only the messengers. Please don’t be angry at us.” Lan Jingyi said contritely all the while looking like he was a single wrong breath away from breaking out into a snort/laughter.
“Wei Ying said what?”
“He said Grandmaster Lan was okay with it, Hanguang-Jun. That since it’s a game, he would take it all in good fun.”
“Uncle said that?”
Both the boys nodded.
Lan Wangji was really surprised at this revelation. What had Wei Ying done to make Uncle accept being a part of the game?
“Mn.” Lan Wangji nodded. As he walked to Uncle Qiren’s quarters, he could hear the quiet giggling from the boys behind.
“Wangji. You are here for Wei Wuxian’s silly game?”
Lan Qiren asked without preamble as soon as he saw Lan Wangji.
“Then you know what to do?”
Lan Wangji thought about it. Could uncle really be okay with this? His uncle was a stoic man. There wasn’t much that would affect his composure. Nothing that would scandalize him unless it involved Wei Ying. Could he really say something like that to his uncle? Lan Wangji was conflicted.
“Is Uncle sure he wouldn’t mind?”
“I am old, Wangji. There’s not much I haven’t seen or heard. Get on with this so that I can carry out my side of the deal I made with that brat. I have things to do.”
“Will you really be okay with it?”
“Wei Wuxian said you might be hesitant, but I didn’t expect this. Don’t procrastinate, Wangji. Use minimal words.”
“Wei Ying and I kiss when the juniors aren’t looking.”
Lan Qiren opened his mouth, closed it, opened it. Nothing came out for what felt like an eternity.
“He also pinches my side when Uncle isn’t looking. I do pinch him back though.”
Lan Qiren’s face was an alarming shade of purple.
“Inappropriately.” Lan Wangji added.
“Shut. Up.” Lan Qiren said through gritted teeth.
“But uncle said-”
Lan Wangji shut up. Lan Qiren tried to take a few deep breaths. Was he okay? Lan Wangji’s eyes widened in concern.
“I am going to punish that damn brat so hard he will never ever pull something like this with me again. The insolence! The arrogance! How dare he!!”
“Uncle, are you okay?”
Lan Qiren took a sealed note from his table and almost, almost, but not quite threw it at Lan Wangji.
“Get going. Now!”
Lan Qiren looked at the retreating back of his younger nephew and clenched his fist.
That Wei Wuxian!
When he had come to Lan Qiren a few days ago begging his help in setting up a birthday surprise for Lan Wangji, Lan Qiren had accepted, purely out of his love for Wangji.
Maybe Wei Wuxian’s promise of obeying all the rules for a whole week might have had a very small influence on his decision, but it was mainly because of his nephew. All he had to do was give the letter Wei Wuxian had left with him to Lan Wangji.
“When should I give it to him?”
“You will know when, Uncle. I have given a task to Lan Zhan. Don’t hand it over before he fulfills it.”
“You know how Lan Zhan doesn’t talk much, Uncle. This is just to get him to talk out loud. With you and Xichen-Ge he hardly talks at all.”
That was true. Since Lan Wangji knew that both Xichen and Lan Qiren himself were capable of reading him, he hardly spoke out with them at all. Especially with Qiren who didn’t put in the conscious effort to get him to talk unlike Lan Xichen.
“There’s nothing nefarious in it, Uncle. I swear.” Wei Wuxian had given him the smile.
“You promise a whole week?”
“Well then, I will do it.”
“You’re the best, Uncle!” Wei Wuxian had left as fast as he had come in, the tornado!
Lan Qiren closed his eyes against the blooming headache. He should have known. If he wasn’t so sure Lan Wangji would leave with him, Lan Qiren would kick the man out of Cloud Recesses and do a cleansing ritual. Alas! That wasn’t possible. So he would suffer. For Wangji, he needed to.
But by the time Wei Wuxian was done with the punishment Lan Qiren designed for him, he would never dare do something like this again.
Please tell me uncle didn’t have a qi deviation. I didn’t want to actually hurt him. Just a little payback for all the times he complained about the noises, you know? Save me from his punishment, won’t you, my brave Hanguang-Jun?
When I decided to plan a surprise for you, I had so many ideas. It was actually Xichen-Ge who told me how much you used to enjoy scavenger hunts. So I thought I would plan one for you. I didn’t know how to get you to play along though. It was Lan Jingyi—bless that kid and his brilliant mind—who gave me the idea that you might be willing to play if I was the treasure at the end of the trail. A-Yuan backed him up by saying that I am the only person whom the Hanguang-Jun would never refuse!
To be honest, it made me blush.
Kids these days, Lan Zhan!! So forward, all of them.
However, when I thought about it, it also made sense. It’s still a shame that I wasn’t there when you woke up today, Er-Gege. I wanted to be there, to greet you with a proper start to your birthday. But you know me, Lan Zhan. I just had to make mischief. Also, I know my Er-Gege. We both know we will have more fun this way.
I hope you enjoyed this, Lan Zhan. I know you’ve noticed my unusual behavior this past week.
Now you know why.
You have now reached the end of the trail, my dearest husband. I am so close. I can’t wait to see you.
Come, find me.
Also, you’ve been so fast. You know what that means. Wei Ying teased you so much, didn’t he? Hanguang-Jun should make Wei Ying pay for his mischief.
Waiting for you,
On the back of the letter, the final clue.
Lan Zhan, before you do anything else, do one more thing for me, pretty please? This is your final task. Go back to Jingshi and play our song for me. That’s it. Wei Ying will wait for Lan Zhan.
Another slew of kissy faces. Stick figure with hands folded in front of him in pleading and wide eyes overflowing with tears. It was really cute. Lan Wangji smiled again.
In the quiet of Jingshi, the first notes of the song Lan Wangji had written so long ago for Wei Ying flowed from his guqin, fingers moving with practiced ease. As the melodies came together in beautiful harmony, Lan Wangji could feel himself being touched by warmth. Like being touched by the first rays of sun, a warm glow.
Lan Wangji opened his eyes which he had closed when he lost himself to the melody. The light was coming from somewhere in his robes. Lan Wangji frowned, but didn’t stop playing. He was almost to the last few notes when he finally figured out the source of the light.
His jade pendant. It was glowing.
Lan Wangji hadn’t even noticed it before, but it was different from the one he usually wore. As he silenced the strings, he took the glowing token in his hand. The design on it, custom made instead of the simple cloud insignia of Gusu Lan. On one side, it had a guqin and a dizi. On the other side, a moon, a jar of Emperors smile, and two ribbons twisted together, one of which had small cloud patterns.
It was them. Lan Wangji and Wei Ying. How Wei Ying managed to find the time to do this and still keep it a secret from him, Lan Wangji didn’t know. The craftsmanship was impeccable, the proof of Wei Ying’s care and mastery. How much effort did Wei Ying spend on making this? Lan Wangji’s heart felt so full.
A whisper broke free. An exhalation of love and happiness and gratitude.
The pendant flared once more, then dimmed.
“Aiyah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying’s voice came from the pendant.
“No need to feel so choked about this. It wasn’t even that hard. As you noticed, I made this for you, us. I have its twin. This is my first gift to you. I know I could have given it to you in person, but what’s the fun in that, huh Lan Zhan? Also, I needed to know if it worked. This will allow us to talk to each other no matter how far we are from each other. Brilliant, right?”
Lan Wangji could hear the laugh he adored so much resonate through the entire Jingshi.
“I know you get anxious when you don’t see me and I am a mess when I don’t see you. This way we won’t have to be. You only need to hum our song and say the other person’s name to activate it. The glow is to alert us that it has been activated. I just made you play the whole song because I wanted to hear it, not because it was needed,” Wei Ying explained, his smile coming through his tone. “Say something to me, Lan Zhan. Let’s see if this works.”
“Where are you?”
“Ahhh...Hanguang-Jun. I can’t tell you. You already know where I am. Come to me. I have been waiting so long for you, Er-Gege. I miss you.”
Before Lan Wangji could say anything else, the light dimmed completely.
Lan Wangji needed to find Wei Ying. This was such a wonderful gift. Genius, kind, and thoughtful. Most of all, it spoke of endless love. Just like Wei Ying. Wei Ying needed to know how much Lan Wangji appreciated it.
He recalled all the clues:
Cǎi Zèng Lán Sháo
Cǎi Lán Zèng Sháo
Picking orchids and presenting peonies.
The words spelled out a chengyu. A chengyu that represented gifts between lovers.
Lan Wangji knew instantly where Wei Ying was.
Back when they had first come back to Cloud Recesses and Wei Wuxian had found the peony Lan Wangji used as his bookmark, his eyes had brightened with tears.
“Lan Zhan...you…is this?”
“Mn.” Lan Wangji was shy to admit that he had kept something from so long ago which Wei Wuxian had casually thrown at him.
“Lan Zhan, you…”
Wei Wuxian had lunged at Lan Wangji then, wrapping his legs and arms around him. Lan Wangji was surprised, but had managed not to fall as he held Wei Ying in his arms.
“How could you? You’re just...You’re going to kill me someday...I’m such a fool.”
Wei Wuxian didn’t even make sense to Lan Wangji. Once he calmed down, he looked up at Lan Wangji with wet eyes and whispered,
“I love you so much, you know that? I don’t deserve you, but damn if I ever let you go. Always be mine, Lan Zhan.”
“Always has been,” Lan Wangji had replied so readily that Wei Ying started his wailing again.
The next day, Lan Wangji found Wei Ying tilling the soil near the Magnolia tree outside the library. A few days after that, peonies were planted. When they bloomed, they were pink.
“It’s for my Lan Zhan. You don’t have to hold on to the single flower anymore. You can have as many as you want, Er-Gege. A whole garden of it. Wei Ying will make sure of it,” Wei Ying had explained that night.
Lan Wangji's heart grew wings as he walked to the garden where he knew Wei Ying was waiting for him. Anticipation, exhilaration, joy, and So. Much. Love. A love that bloomed when he was a mere boy, razed him to ashes, and breathed life back into him when he found Wei Ying again. A love that never left. Wei Ying. All that endless depth, for him. For Wei Ying, Lan Wangji would go through it all again. Always for him. Only for him.
As he drew closer to the tree, the melody of a flute greeted him.
It was a song Lan Wangji had never heard before. After the first few notes, Lan Wangji quickly understood that it was a countermelody to Wangxian. Whereas Wangxian was full of yearning and heartbreak with only hints of hope thrown here and there like splashes of color, this one flowed smooth and steady. Content. Flowing like the river.
A bright, hopeful, melody. A new song.
A new song for their new life. Unlike the melancholic, longing tones of Wangxian, this one kept reassuring that he was honored, cherished. Beloved.
The melody came from the top of a branch. Lan Wangji swiftly looked up to find Wei Ying leaning against the trunk, blindfolded, a bright smile on his lips.
“You’re here, Lan Zhan.” Saying this, Wei Wuxian jumped.
Lan Wangji caught him. Lan Wangji would always catch him when he fell. Wei Ying buried his head into Lan Wangji’s neck as he put him upright on his feet.
Wei Wuxian tilted his head back, waiting expectantly. Lan Wangji knew what he wanted.
He pressed him against the tree and kissed him.
Wei Ying tasted like sunlight and sweetness.
A devouring of mouths, clacking of teeths, dueling of tongues.
Lan Wangji pressed Wei Ying harder against the tree, restraining his hands even tighter. So tight that he was sure it would bruise, leaving undeniable marks that were proof that Wei Ying was his.
“Hanguang-Jun,” Wei Ying moaned. Lan Wangji gave him a harsh bite.
Lan Wangji withdrew after another moment of hesitation. Even then Wei Ying chased after him. They stood there, panting, with foreheads pressed together.
“Happy Birthday, Lan Zhan.”
Lan Wangji could feel Wei Ying’s breath graze his cheeks as he spoke. He wanted to see those eyes. Lan Wangji untied the blindfold. Wei Ying blinked dazedly at him, another smile playing around his lips.
“How do you like my presents?”
Lan Wangji looked at him. The reddened, glistening lips, bright gray eyes, mussed hair. He cupped a hand around Wei Ying’s nape, and pulled him closer. With his other hand, he wiped at the corner of Wei Ying’s mouth where there was a bit of blood from his teeth. He didn’t look at anything but his husband.
Wei Wuxian beamed.
“But I still like this one the best,” Lan Wangji whispered in his ears, pulling Wei Wuxian deeper into his own body.
“Lan Zhan!!!!” Wei Wuxian wailed, which turned to a squeak as Lan Wangji bit down on the column of his neck.
"Ah! Er-Gege! Gentler." Wei Wuxian whined on his hands and knees as Lan Wangji gave a particularly vicious thrust.
"Do you have any idea-"
Another thrust pointed right at that spot.
"-how long I have been wanting to-"
Thrust. Thrust. Thrust.
Wei Wuxian keened.
One of his hands slid beneath Wei Wuxian and twisted his already sore nipple.
"Mn? Did you know?"
Lan Wangji folded over Wei Wuxian, completely covering him as he bit his nape, holding him down.
"Yes. Yes. Yes, I did!"
Wei Wuxian was practically sobbing at this point. Lan Wangji was being particularly mean. Hours and hours of fucking and he still refused to come, focusing on destroying Wei Wuxian instead. Wei Wuxian had lost count of how many times he had come already. He whimpered as Lan Wangji's too big cock scratched the too sensitive rim and the slippery walls of his inside. Each thrust caused tremors to go through his whole body in overstimulation.
"Isn't this what you wanted when you kept teasing me all through the day and into the dinner? Mn?"
Another bite on his shoulder. Another mark. Wei Wuxian was pretty sure there was blood.
Lan Wangji lapped at it, causing him to twitch around Lan Wangji's cock again. A bit of clear fluid leaked out.
"Isn't it, Wei Ying?" His name came out as a husky growl, full of possession and desire. Lan Wangji truly had no restraint left.
To be fair, Wei Wuxian knew he was the reason for his own plight. He had no one but himself to blame.
I deserve this. I have been asking for it. Maybe I did bite off a bit more than I can chew.
He thought morosely as Lan Wangji took him deeper and deeper.
Wei Wuxian had never known such peace as when Lan Wangji did that to him. He closed his eyes and let go.
Fucking Karma! He should have known better than to taunt Lan Wangji like he did. Wei Wuxian remembered what he had done.
After their little interlude which turned out to be not so little after all, Wei Wuxian had made sure to poke and prod at Lan Wangji for the rest of the day.
Lan Zhan being Lan Zhan had wanted to go back to class and Wei Wuxian had innocently batted his eyelashes at him from bed.
"So mean, Hanguang-Jun. Will you truly leave me like this?"
He had asked, gesturing to his naked and well used body, causing Lan Wangji to sigh. He had bodily picked him up, dressed him, and done his hair. Wei Wuxian let him, basking in the simple warmth of Lan Wangji. He had missed their routine that morning since he had left early. It soothed Wei Wuxian to have Lan Wangji take care of him like that, a quiet contentment.
It hadn't stopped him from being an absolute nuisance in Lan Wangji's class. He had sat at the back and done everything he could to distract Lan Wangji from the lecture. That involved sending him flirty winks, saucy smiles, flying kisses, and papermen notes to moving his hair aside to expose the mark Lan Wangji left on the column of his neck.
Lan Wangji's eyes had flared heatedly at that and Wei Wuxian had smirked.
Lan Wangji had gotten a brief respite after the class since Wei Wuxian had "things" to do and disappeared like the wind after giving him a quick kiss on the lips.
Lan Wangji knew why soon enough.
Instead of a quiet dinner with just the two of them, Wei Wuxian had orchestrated another birthday surprise for him. A special dinner not just by themselves, but with Lan Xichen, Lan Qiren, and the Juniors. It was then that he found out Wei Wuxian had prohibited them from wishing him a happy birthday in order to not spoil the surprise.
It wasn't just that either.
All the dishes were Lan Wangji's favorites.
"Taste good?" Wei Wuxian had asked, practically vibrating on his seat.
"Mn. Wei Ying made this?" Lan Wangji guessed. The answering blush that colored Wei Wuxian’s cheeks told him he was right.
"I have been practicing," Wei Wuxian mumbled.
"He was very adamant that he learn." Lan Xichen informed him.
"Xichen-Ge!" Lan Xichen only smiled at the feigned outrage.
Wei Wuxian was still staring down. So he didn't see the reactions of the rest of their dinner companions. They were all looking at him like they had never seen him before. Even Lan Qiren.
"Wei Ying did really well. Just the way I like them.”
Lan Wangji would do anything, anything at all, to keep the smile that broke out on Wei Ying's face at that.
"Ahhh!!! Lan Zhan…" was all he said.
Lan Wangji had given him a smile at that.
Maybe it was because of that shy demeanor that Lan Wangji failed to see what Wei Wuxian would do next. It had taken everything he had in him not to react when Wei Ying's free hand crept up his thigh, squeezing tightly. He would have been able to ignore it if Wei Ying had stopped there. But he hadn't.
Throughout the rest of the dinner, Wei Wuxian's wandering hands had stroked and caressed Lan Wangji everywhere they could reach. It was a good thing that Lan Wangji had years and years of practice controlling his desire when it came to Wei Ying. He seriously doubted it would have gone well if he yanked Wei Ying into his lap and had him for dinner in front of everybody else. Even then, it was a close call.
As soon as the dinner was over, Lan Wangji had thanked them all for the thoughtful gifts they had given him—a portrait of him and Wei Ying from Brother, some rare books on cultivation and rebuilding core strength from Uncle, a collection of individually written thank you notes appreciating him from the juniors—bid them farewell, and practically dragged Wei Wuxian back to Jingshi.
That had been hours ago.
Lan Wangji hadn't waited before pressing him against the door as soon as they got inside and taking him right then and there until Wei Wuxian cried out in pleasure.
Then he had taken him on his back, legs hooked over his shoulders and the fingers of his left hand hooked in Wei Wuxian's mouth. The other hand had pressed and pinched even more bruises onto his fair skin before Wei Wuxian came for the second time.
The third time, Lan Wangji had them flipped, Wei Wuxian impaled on his rigid shaft.
"Ride," he had commanded, fingers digging into his hips.
"I can't, Lan Zhan…too much…" Wei Wuxian had tried.
"Ride, Wei Ying."
Wei Wuxian had never been able to say no when Lan Wangji used that particular voice. All command and daring him to refute.
Who was he kidding? He would never be able to say no to Lan Wangji at all. More than that, he didn't want to. So Wei Wuxian rode, his hole greedily swallowing Lan Wangji even if he himself was tired.
Wei Wuxian had collapsed on his chest after he came, smearing the sticky white fluid between them, all the while keeping Lan Wangji's cock still inside. He had then proceeded to lick every last drop off of Lan Wangji.
That was before Lan Wangji had them flipped again and returned the favor.
Now, here he was, bent over, Lan Wangji dominating him so thoroughly that Wei Wuxian never wanted to leave from beneath that powerful body blanketing his own.
"Answer me." Lan Wangji bit the shell of his ear and tugged.
"YES! I wanted you to lose control. I wanted you to take me like this. I wanted you to mark me, claim me, fuck me so hard that I wouldn't be able to walk. More than anything else, Lan Zhan, I want to have your seed fill me so deep that no matter how hard I scrub, I will still smell like you for days after."
Inflamed by his words, Lan Wangji started moving in and out so fast and furious that Wei Wuxian could do nothing but sob and take it. Each time, it hit just there , that special bundle of nerves which obliterated Wei Wuxian every time. The hands, which were playing with his nipples dug in, making him want to curl up in pain and pleasure. Then, Lan Wangji's teeth sank so hard into his nape that he had to grit his teeth against the pain.
Wei Wuxian let out another broken whimper and Lan Wangji let himself release in satisfaction. Just as Lan Wangji filled him, Wei Wuxian came again, as if that was all he had been waiting for.
"Lan Zhan!" It was so a broken sob.
Lan Wangji licked the tiny drops of blood and sweat away from his nape, withdrew gently from his hole and plugged it with his fingers immediately before flipping them again.
Wei Wuxian was completely limp on his chest. He didn't even have the strength to resist as Lan Wangji lifted his face by his chin, wiped his tears and sucked on them.
"Only. Ever. Mine. Wei Ying."
Lan Wangji swirled his fingers inside Wei Wuxian. A soundless tear escaped.
Lan Wangji wiped that too away. This time making Wei Wuxian lick it off.
"Is Wei Ying satisfied? I don't believe you can wash this off."
Wei Wuxian smiled dazedly at that.
"Very satisfied, husband."
Wei Wuxian tucked his face into the hollow of the graceful arch of Lan Wangji's neck.
"Happy birthday, Lan Zhan."
"I am always happy as long as Wei Ying is with me."
Wei Wuxian twitched in his arms.
"Hanguang-Jun, have some mercy on your poor Wei Ying. I can't take them."
"Mn. I will allow Wei Ying to rest a bit."
Wei Wuxian's eyes almost bulged out as he looked up at Lan Wangji.
"What do you mean rest a bit?"
At Lan Wangji's steady gaze, Wei Wuxian started to shake his head.
"No. No. No. Lan Zhan, I will die!!!"
"Wei Ying will not die. I will not let you."
"Rest." Lan Wangji cupped his head and pushed him back down.
"You're going to kill me, Hanguang-Jun." Wei Wuxian mumbled into his neck.
Wei Wuxian did.
Lan Wangji kept his word.
Later, when Lan Wangji finally deemed it enough to bathe him and put him to bed in non soiled clothes, Wei Wuxian tangled their limbs together and pressed a sweet kiss on the scar on his chest.
"Lan Zhan's the best. I'm so lucky, Hanguang-Jun. What would I do without you?"
"I love you, Lan Zhan," he snuggled deeper, blunt nails digging into Lan Wangji. "Mine."
"Yours, Wei Ying. I love you too. Now sleep."
"Always love me, Er-Gege," Wei Wuxian murmured stubbornly.
"Always," Lan Wangji ran a soothing hand down his back.
"You're tired. Sleep."
Another kiss, this time on his pulse. “See you tomorrow, Lan Zhan.”
Lan Wangji pressed an affectionate kiss on his forehead.
“See you tomorrow, Wei Ying.”
Moments later, Wei Wuxian fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.
Lan Wangji gathered him closer before he closed his own eyes, safe in the knowledge that his once impossible dream had come true after all. Wei Ying was his just as he was Wei Ying's.
Them, together, always.
Lan Wangji was happy. So happy that he couldn't help but smile again in the quiet joy that radiated from within.
The coldest jade was warm.
Love truly was the most magical thing of all!
No one saw Wei Wuxian the next day. He claimed to be unable to get off the bed due to some mysterious sickness. Everyone knew better.
Lan Qiren sighed in relief that he had been diligent enough to activate the soundproofing talisman before he went to bed. Some disciples who happened to be patrolling outside Jingshi weren’t so lucky.
Wei Wuxian fulfilled his promise to Lan Qiren to the best of his ability. He got a whole day of obedient Wei Wuxian and he was grateful he got that much at least since Wangji and Xichen wouldn't let him punish the brat.
The things he had to put up with for his nephew!