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Clouds and Lotuses

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Clouds and Lotuses | Mo Dao Zu Shi | XiCheng | 16+ | 2020/04/29-2021/02/19

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When Lan XiChen has arrived and enters the room, he sees a very unexpected view. By the table there are sitting the three of WangJi, Wei WuXian and Jiang WanYin - just like he was expected, but Jiang WanYin seems annoyed and sulky (at least he could cover it less than usual), and he is wearing white Lan robes. His right hand is resting on the table next to his cup, fingers curled into a fist, his hair, except the braids on the sides connecting to his bun, is down. He has never seen Jiang WanYin with his hair down. He’s gorgeous. XiChen’s eyes go wide.

“Z--ZeWu-Jun, ZeWu-Jun, please, don’t be mad,” Wei WuXian pleads immediately. He jumps up from his spot and rushes to XiChen. “We didn’t mean any harm… otherwise it’s my fault.” He glances at WangJi and Jiang Cheng over his shoulder. “Jiang Cheng fell into the water because of me and he got soaked and had to take his clothes off and he couldn’t stay naked, could he? So--”

“Hey!” Jiang WanYin barks angrily.

“This is why he’s wearing Lan robes,” Wei WuXian explains. He drops himself beside Lan WangJi again. Not on his lap, but close enough. Lan XiChen looks at Jiang WanYin, then his brother. Wei WuXian smiles at him.

“I see,” XiChen says slowly, then he offers a soft smile. “It is all right.”

He sits opposite Jiang WanYin, WangJi pours tea for him without a word.

“Are you sure you’re not’re not angry?” Wei WuXian asks.

“Why would I be mad?”

“I don’t know, Gusu has a lot of rules, I don’t know all of them, especially the new ones and I don’t want you to punish me,” Wei WuXian answers. He remembers very well how hard Lan punishments could be. He would choose the same amount from Zidian’s whips. He glances at Jiang Cheng and he is pretty sure that could happen easily. Lan XiChen laughs softly.

“Do not worry, there is no rule against Sect Leader Jiang changing wet clothes to dry.”

He turns to Jiang WanYin and lets his eyes rest on him. He tries not to stare but it is hard. It is obvious Jiang WanYin is a little startled because of the happenings, beside that he is angry, by the way none of that disrupts his charm. Even. Lan XiChen would like to just watch the other, admire the line of his jaws, his frown, the sparkles in his eyes, he’d like to reach out and gently touch his hand, then his hair, then his face… He closes his eyes for a second and tries to ease the inappropriate thoughts.

“Thank you for inviting me for tea,” he says eventually. Wei WuXian smiles.

“Lan Zhan is always happy for your company, ZeWu-Jun. As well as Jiang Cheng even--”

“What?” Jiang WanYin barks.

“Even if he’s not saying it.”

Jiang Cheng grits his teeth, for a second his entire body tenses. Like a predator before attack. Then his muscles relax.

“Do not speak in my name,” he tells Wei WuXian, then turns to XiChen. “Of course it is flattering, ZeWu-Jun,” he adds on a soft tone, bowing his head. Wei WuXian rolls his eyes. His brother is so stubborn. Odious too. He doesn’t mind just to fight him. He pouts.

Lan XiChen smiles. “Thank you.”

“I need to make my leave,” Jiang WanYin says suddenly. “Thanks for the… everything.” He grabs his sword, then stands up. Lan XiChen’s breath hitches as he watches him, as his white robe ornamented with clouds and his ebony hair dances with his move. Wei WuXian is about to complain saying they haven’t even drunk tea or had a nice conversation when Lan XiChen follows Jiang WanYin and stands up as well. Wei WuXian’s mouth drops open at this point and he tries not to grin too widely.

“Lan Zhan!” he exclaims softly, excited and he grabs his husband’s arm.

“Mn.”

Before he could give it a second thought XiChen catches the sleeve of Jiang WanYin’s robe. He stills.

“May I accompany you, Jiang WanYin?” Lan XiChen asks. Jiang Cheng blinks then he offers a soft, polite smile.

“Of course, ZeWu-Jun.”

“Lan Zhan, did you see that?”

“Mn.”

Wei WuXian elbows on the table, almost climbing on the surface as he is looking after the leaving men. WangJi throws a lustful glance at his behind. Wei WuXian chuckles, then drops himself back to his spot.

“Do you have any idea how long? Ah, sorry, sorry, gossiping must be prohibited in Gusu.” He elbows on the table again and places his chin into his palm reluctantly.

“Brother told me he is fond of Jiang WanYin’s abilities when we were fighting with the waterborne abyss at Caiyi city.”

“But it was so long ago!”

“Mn.”

“Why didn’t he say anything to him? Why…? Ah. Lans,” he sighs. If he wants this ending good - and why wouldn’t he want his brother to be happy? -, he needs to handle this himself. Just wait Jiang Cheng and Lan XiChen, Wei WuXian will bring happiness to you!

Lan XiChen and Jiang WanYin are side by side as they are walking away from the Jingshi.

“Thank you for the hospitality,” Jiang Cheng says eventually to break the uncomfortable silence between them. XiChen enjoys the other’s company without words too, he doesn’t feel the silence would be awkward.

“You are very welcome. I hope you are enjoying the time you are spending here, Sect Leader Jiang.”

Jiang Cheng glances at XiChen and he notices the small, soft smile in the corner of his lips. That makes him smile as well.

“Yes, thank you.”

“Do you know how long you will stay in Gusu and gift us with your presence?”

Jiang Cheng is embarrassed. He stops and drops his eyes. XiChen stops too. He’s watching Jiang WanYin chewing on his lower lip. His white teeth sink into the rosy flesh and XiChen wants to kiss the spot then bite it himself.

“Wei WuXian asked me to visit him.” Jiang WanYin says eventually. So despite their constant bickering they still consider each other as brothers. That is heartwarming. Probably they were fighting too when Jiang WanYin fell into the water. He’s pretty sure Wei WuXian literally pushed his brother into the water. XiChen chuckles as he’s imagining the scene. He would have given everything to see that. “But since I’m already here,” Jiang WanYin goes on. “I could arrange some official issues as well and in that case I will be able to spend a few more days in Gusu.”

XiChen smiles at him.

“That would be wonderful.”

WanYin tilts his head. He’s wondering if it is just a polite note or a hint something’s wrong and XiChen needs assistance. Would it be rude to ask?

They remain silent. XiChen is thinking what should he say. None of them want to part. Eventually he makes up his mind. He smiles at WanYin.

“May I have a request, Jiang WanYin?”

There he goes. Jiang Cheng is pretty sure this is the time when Lan XiChen asks him to help him solve something and he hopes he can be worthy. He crosses his arms in front of his chest.

“I’m all ears, ZeWu-Jun.”

“I would like to spend more time with you, if you allow me.”

Jiang Cheng frowns. He lowers his arms and he tilts his head again, his bangs flutter with the move.

“Like having tea together more often?” he asks a little confused. XiChen smiles at him.

“Exactly. And going on night-hunts, if you don’t think it’s a rude or bold request.”

WanYin smiles too. Pale, soft, but still a smile. “Not at all. Actually, that would be very… pleasant. Thank you for asking me, I’m flattered.”

Going on a night-hunt with someone means the greatest trust. One has to relay their lives on their night-hunting partner. One doesn’t go with just anybody on a night-hunt. Jiang Cheng is touched and glad. The request was the greatest honor.

“May I accompany you back to your quarter?” XiChen asks then.

“Of course!” Jiang Cheng is happy and keen. He clears his throat. “I mean yes, please do, ZeWu-Jun.”

XiChen chuckles and they start to walk again. He feels his ears warmed up and he hopes they are not bright red.

As they pass XiChen is deep in thoughts and he starts planning activities besides having tea and going on night-hunts for them in his head. He trips and WanYin catches him by his arm.

“Careful,” he says and XiChen stares at him. XiChen is pretty sure his cheeks and ears are flaming red at that point. WanYin is so close and he’s so beautiful.

“Thank you,” he mumbles. For another second long they look into each others’ eyes, then Jiang WanYin slowly releases XiChen’s arm. “I’m fine,” XiChen adds, reassuring more himself than Jiang Cheng. WanYin nods and he takes a step back to let ZeWu-Jun move but with that he trips too. XiChen is not fast enough. WanYin loses his balance and he falls over the short railing with a muffled yell, right into the shallow brook. A faint splash follows. He’s sitting in the clear, but cold water, drenched, mouth open in surprise.

“WanYin!” XiChen is terrified. “Are you hurt?” He looks around how to get down to the other, then he jumps next to him eventually.

“I’m fine. Just wet.” XiChen extends a hand. WanYin takes the offer and finally he stands up. He’s dripping.

“You… You should change before you catch a cold,” XiChen says eventually. “Come, the Hangshi is closer than your building.”

“I can’t believe this happens to me twice a day,” he mumbles partly in anger, partly in disbelief.

XiChen tries. He really tries his best not to stare, but WanYin doesn’t wear that many layers and they are white and wet, and his hair is soaked too, and his robes are really see-through and he’s really gorgeous. XiChen swallows hard. He pushes WanYin down to a sitting pillow then rushes to get towels. He drops one onto WanYin’s lap, then sits opposite and watches him worried.

“Thanks,” Jiang WanYin says, then he starts rubbing his hair. “ZeWu-Jun, could you, um, please, get dry robes for me? I’m really sorry for being a bother, but…” He starts to feel cold, he gets goosebumps. He likes to swim, he doesn’t mind being wet, but the weather and the water in Gusu is much colder than in Yunmeng.

“Oh, yes.” XiChen jumps up to find clothes. When he returns, WanYin is standing next to the sitting pillow, half naked. The upper part of his robes are pushed down to his slender waist, exposing his chest. His skin is pale, but tanned showing he has spent countless hours under the sun. Across his chest there are a few pale scars. XiChen knows what they mean. WanYin notices he’s staring at his skin. Not as he can hide his glaze.

“You have no idea how I hate them,” WanYin says, voice low. He avoids looking at XiChen. As he lowers his head, his wet, heavy hair shadows his face. XiChen wants to move the locks.

“No, I am not aware indeed,” he answers, meanwhile he steps in front of Jiang WanYin. “But I know they show you survived and became stronger.” He reaches out and places two fingers under WanYin’s chin. He gently lifts his chin up to make him look at him and he offers a soft smile. “You are the strongest person I know, I think you are wonderful, Jiang WanYin,” he says. WanYin’s cheeks flame up, they start to burn. He wants to look away embarrassed, but XiChen doesn’t let him. “Seeing you in Gusu Lan robes took my breath away and I wish I could see that every day.”

Jiang WanYin literally whimpers, he’s so embarrassed, he never was taught how to handle his emotions - especially the warm ones.

“Please, call me XiChen or Lan Huan.” Seeing WanYin wants to protest, he adds, “Please.”

“I… I really don’t think… I’m afraid I’m not worthy, I…”

“Let me decide that. As I see, you are the most worthy of all.”

Jiang WanYin can’t answer. XiChen extends the dry clothes to him before the conversation can go further, and after WanYin takes them he turns away.

“Change before you catch a cold, I won’t peek, I promise,” he says in a cheerful tone. WanYin is certain XiChen is smiling. He had seen the other man smiling a lot, he can tell the differences between his smiles. He usually gets warm ones. He squeezes the robes to his chest.

“If you like them on me that much, I will wear them always,” he says on a timid tone, eyes dropped, cheeks rosy. XiChen gasps and he quickly turns. Jiang WanYin looks at him. “Clouds and lotuses.” XiChen doesn’t have enough strength to hold himself back. He closes the distance between them and he catches the back of WanYin’s neck and pulls him in. He presses his lips to WanYin’s lips to burn a kiss on them. It’s chaste and careful. Curious. Needy.

Jiang WanYin moves in. He kisses back. He’s eager. He opens his mouth and teeth press against XiChen’s lips. He opens them to let WanYin deepen the kiss and taste each other. He’s warm and wet. XiChen feels dizzy. He can’t get enough.

WanYin trembles in his arms and he needs time to realise it’s not just because of the kiss. He takes the dry robes from the man’s hands and wraps him into them.

“Get rid of the wet clothes, I’ll make tea for us,” he says softly. WanYin’s lips are blue. He nods and starts changing.

When XiChen returns with the hot tea, Jiang Cheng is standing there, in the dry Gusu Lan robes, his heavy, wet hair resting on his back, looking so lost and beautiful. XiChen wants to see him wearing these robes in the rest of his life. WanYin is looking at XiChen. His features soften, then he smiles. XiChen places the tea, and WanYin sits to the table. XiChen follows, he sits beside him and he tries to pour tea. He can’t take his eyes off of Jiang WanYin. WanYin leans closer to him.

“I’m still cold, XiChen,” he says. Almost whispers. “Do something, please.” XiChen gulps, then carefully wraps his arms around WanYin, pulling him to his chest, into a warm embrace. WanYin leans in, even, he snuggles into the warmth. He lets out a soft, content sigh.

“Jiang Cheng,” WanYin says finally.

“Hm?”

“Call me Jiang Cheng.”

“Jiang Cheng,” XiChen tries, he tastes the name and Jiang Cheng’s cheeks warm up, his entire body warms up, his name sounds like a song on XiChen's gentle voice. “Jiang Cheng.”

“Yes?”

“Would you mind if I start courting you?”

“I thought you’d already started.”