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Better Off Without Me

Chapter Text

"Wei Wuxian! Is my lecture boring you?!"

 

Immediately, Wei Wuxian's eyes snap open. Blinking in confusion, he looks around to find himself in the classroom in Cloud Recesses. The same classroom he'd been in when he was fifteen. Everyone is staring back at him because of Lan Qiren's reprimand, but he pays them no mind. The only thing he can think about is how he should be dead.

 

He had, very deliberately, thrown himself off of a cliff just a few minutes ago. Had stared at Lan Zhan's horror stricken face as he threw off his grip. Glimpsed the deep hatred on Jiang Cheng's face as he closed his eyes in welcome of the peace he would finally receive in death.

 

Unheeding to the calls of his name for his attention, he looked at the faces of those he had killed, directly or indirectly, because of his actions as a demonic cultivator. Because he had been trying to keep innocent people, people he had come to view as a new family, safe from a cruel world where you're family name was all the cultivation world needed to slaughter you.

 

He looked into the worried face of his Shijie feeling like the air had been punched out of his lungs. Deep overwhelming feelings of self hatred stirred in him for his part in his beloved Shijie's death. Turning away, he saw the bewildered look on Jin Zixuan's face. The last moment he had seen him, there was a look of surprise on his face as blood poured out of his chest from the hole Wen Ning had punched through it.

 

Feeling ashamed, he turned to the person sitting next to him, his brother in all but blood. Jiang Cheng was looking at him with his angry concerned face, lips moving as if asking him a question.

 

But it was a question he did not hear, because the last he had seen his brother, he was trying to kill him as Wei Wuxian was trying to kill himself. A deep hatred and grief had been in his eyes as Jiang Cheng tried to stab him.

 

Jumping up from his seat, he looked at the last precious face he had seen just before his death.

 

Lan Zhan. Beautiful, righteous Hanguang-Jun. His jade like face was smooth except for a tiny furrow in his brow that Wei Wuxian had learned to mean he was concerned. His association with the lovely Second Master Lan was a stain on his otherwise pure reputation.

 

It was through his quick contemplation of the people surrounding him that he realized he had somehow come back in time just as he had died. He should probably feel grateful. He could, possibly, change things for the better. Save those who had died and perhaps keep the Sunshot Campaign from happening. But in this moment, so close to his desperate wish to die, all he could think was how these people would be so much better off without him.

 

Darting a glance behind him, he could see Shijie and Jiang Cheng starting to stand up to come towards him.  Running to the back of the classroom, he found his Suibian waiting next to the rest of the spiritual swords being kept ready for sword practice later on.  Turning back towards the front of the room, he unsheathed Suibian. Taking a minute to appreciate this moment, he had missed his beloved sword more than he knew, he looked each of his precious people in the eyes, trying to convey how sorry he was for all he'd done. They stood frozen in surprise at his actions. 

 

Then, before he could second guess himself or give anyone time to stop him, he slid Suibian across his throat.

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Chaos. The classroom was in chaos and for once, Lan Wangji couldn't be bothered to care one bit about the actions of the disciples around him as he pressed his fingers on the bleeding wound across Wei Wuxian's neck while also passing spiritual energy into the boy below him. He couldn't be bothered with how his pristine white robes were quickly becoming dyed red in the blood of a boy who had invoked feelings in him he had never felt before. 

 

Seeing the broken look on Wei Wuxian's face before he slid his sword across his throat was a deep contrast to the bright, mischievous smile that he had become familiar with in the last two months of the YunmengJiang disciple’s stay in Cloud Recesses.

 

Looking away from the wound he was putting pressure on, Wangji looked to the face of the boy whose life he was trying to save. 

 

The boy who was staring at him wide eyed and trying to speak to him.

 

"No talking," Lan Wangji instructed. 

 

For some reason, Wei Wuxian's mouth twisted at this. But a few moments later, his eyes started to flutter shut.

 

He was losing too much blood.

 

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Jiang Yanli had never been more scared in her life. Her little brother, her A-Xian was bleeding out from his throat. A-Xian had slit his throat.  She couldn't get passed this one thought. Her little brother wanted to die. Was dying. Except for Second Master Lan's quick thinking. He was putting pressure on the wound, trying to stem the flow of blood from her brother's throat.

 

There was so much blood.

 

Shaking herself from her shock, she rushed towards her brother, uncaring of the pooling blood as she kneeled next to her brother's head. His eyes were closed and his face was pale, but she could see he was still breathing.

 

Quickly, she tore at the bottom of her robes to make a make-shift bandage for Lan Wangji to use against the wound for better pressure. Offering it to him, he gave a quick nod and quickly placed the cloth at the wound and continued to put pressure on it. He then placed his other hand on Wei Wuxian's face as a point of contact to give spiritual energy.

 

In this, Yanli was useless. She didn't have enough spiritual energy to pass to her dying brother. So, she did the only thing she could and offered what little comfort she could to her unconscious brother by whispering how much she loved him and to please not die.

 

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Jiang Cheng was sure he was hallucinating. His brother, Wei Wuxian, loved by all, but his mother, and extremely talented had just slit his throat. 

 

He was going to die by his own hand and Jiang Cheng had not seen this coming. Had never seen the despair and deep pain his brother radiated just before taking Suiban to his throat in order to end his own life.

 

Throat injuries were dangerous. If he had nicked his jugular, it would all be over. He needed a healer.

 

Seeing Second Master Lan had started to put pressure on his brother's wound and his sister was starting towards their fallen brother, Jiang Cheng made a mad dash past them and out of the classroom. His brother had always had a penchant for mischief and getting himself hurt and sent to the healers.

 

But not for this reason; not for a life or death reason.

Chapter Text

Lan Qiren stood in shock for only a moment before he started to take control over the classroom again.

 

“Disciples! Calm yourselves! Everyone needs to leave the premise. Remember that gossiping is forbidden in Cloud Recesses.”

 

Only a few of his students were listening, however, so he broke a rule himself when he yelled, “Everyone, OUT!” And, finally, everyone left in the opposite direction of the bloody scene that was taking place right at that moment. Everyone except for Jiang Yanli, Lan Wangji, and Wei Wuxian of course.

 

Wei Wuxian who was the embodiment of his mother and was bleeding out on the floor of his classroom.

 

Wei Wuxian, troublemaker extraordinaire, who was suicidal and no one seemed to have known.

 

How was he going to tell Jiang Fengmian that his adopted son had killed himself? Or tried to kill himself? Was his mischief making a call for attention? A call for help? Or was it a way to hide his suffering? What could I have done differently?

 

Shaking his head to try and dispel his thoughts, he moved closer to Wangji to oversee the situation.

 

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Lan Xichen was calmly making his way through Cloud Recesses when he noticed the Jiang Sect Heir running away from the classroom he should be in. Seeing this uncharacteristic behavior, he called out to the younger disciple.

 

“Sect Heir Jiang, running is forbidden in Cloud Recesses.”

 

Said Sect Heir turned his head to see him and that was when Xichen knew something was very wrong. The boy looked devastated. Now concerned, he met the Sect Heir half way as he had started to make his way in his direction.

 

"First Master Lan, my brother, my brother is dying! I'm going to the healers to grab help. Can you please help your brother? He's the only thing keeping Wei Wuxian from bleeding out in the classroom!"

 

And then he was off again to the healers.

 

For a moment, Lan Xichen could only blink as he processed what he was told. And then, he quickly made his way towards the classroom. What could have happened that Young Master Wei was now bleeding out and dying? Was he attacked? Was Cloud Recesses compromised?

 

As soon as he made it to his destination, he saw a scene he didn't think he would ever forget. Wangji was covered in blood and putting pressure on an unconscious Wei Wuxian, trying to stem the flow of blood from the wound on his neck while Jiang Yanli was crying next to her brother's head.

 

His Uncle was talking to Wangji, making sure the young man was still breathing. He noticed Xichen's approach and cut himself off from what he was saying to Wangji.

 

"Xichen! We need to move Wei Wuxian to the healers for him to have any chance of survival. You and I will need to lift and carry him and Wangj will need to keep pressure on the wound. Jiang Yanli, I know you don't have a lot of spiritual energy, but for the duration of the move to the healers, give him whatever you can so Wangji can keep his focus in the wound. Understand?"

 

"Understood Uncle," Xichen replied getting into position.

 

He could only hope and pray young master Wei would make it. He didn't want to think about how much the young man's death would affect his brother.

 

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The healers were ready for them when they arrived with Wei Wuxian, thanks to Jiang Wanyin alerting them ahead of time. As soon as Wei Wuxian was safely laid out on a table, the healers quickly took over the situation and expelled them from the area to keep them from getting in the way.

 

All five of them could only look at each other in silence, still reeling from the shock of the situation they found themselves in. Wangji could feel himself start to shake, no longer able to hold back the feelings and thoughts that wanted to take over his mind while he had been working to keep Wei Wuxian alive.

 

Lifting up his now shaking hands, covered in the blood of a boy who had been trying to make friends with him ever since he stepped foot into Cloud Recesses, all Wangji could think was, Is this my fault? If I had been more receptive and open with my feelings, would Wei Wuxian still have felt the need to kill himself? He looked at me with such regret and guilt just before he-why?

 

Wangji liked Wei Wuxian, liked his smiles and whirlwind personality. He was charming, but humble. He had a strong sense of justice and was talented. Wangji wanted to be friends with Wei Wuxian, he simply had not known how to be. And now, Wei Wuxian was bleeding out.

If I had been able to better express myself to him, would he have come to me before trying to kill himself? Would I have been able to see this coming and stopped it?

 

He knew it was useless to dwell on things he could no longer change, but it was hard to not think about what he should have, could have done to keep this tragedy from happening.

 

If...no, when he survives this, I will do better. I must do better.

 

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Covering his eyes with his hand, Jiang Cheng could not keep himself from trembling with shock and grief. He had seen Wei Wuxian as Lan Xichen and Teacher Qiren laid his brother on the table. He looked so pale beneath the blood that covered him. He looked dead. Why didn’t he tell me he was feeling this way? How could I not have noticed he was in pain? But his older brother had always been good at hiding what he was truly feeling. Smiles and jokes were used constantly to hide any negative thoughts and feelings. I can’t let him fool me again. I will not let him hide his pain again.

 

Feeling arms wrap around him, he moved his hand away from his eyes and looked down at his sister, returning her embrace. She was quietly weeping. How long had it been since he’d last seen his sister cry? 

 

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Lan Qiren cleared his throat, trying to get his nephew’s and the Jiang sibling’s attention without being overly disruptive. Everyone, including himself, were in a very emotional place right now, but they needed to pull themselves together to deal with the aftermath of the situation.

 

Seeing that he had their attention, he spoke quietly but firmly, “Wangji, Sect Heir Jiang Wanyin, Jiang Yanli, Xichen, go and clean up. I expect it will be some time before we hear any news of Wei Wuxian’s condition. I will send a missive to Sect Leader Jiang. I expect he will be here as soon as he receives the news. When he arrives, we will all meet together again to see if we can...find a reason for what has happened and how to proceed from here.”

 

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Taking the que from his Uncle, Xichen reassured Wangji and the Jiang siblings of his Uncle’s request that they leave to clean up. He could see they were reluctant to leave in case the healers wanted to give them any news on Wei Wuxian’s condition.

 

“I guarantee it will be at least an hour before a healer comes out of there, whether it is good or bad news. Please, take the time to clean and change and then you can come back here to wait. I will make sure baths are drawn for everyone.”

 

Wangji looked at him with such guilt and concern that it was difficult to hold back discussing what Wangji was thinking and feeling. But he knew he would be more likely to get answers from his brother in the privacy of his Jingshi than in front of so many other people.

 

“Come, Wangji, I’ll take you back to the Jingshi so I can have bathe water brought up for everyone.”

 

Wangji still seemed reluctant, but thankfully nodded his agreement to Xichen’s request.