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debt of a knife

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian walked the walls of the fortress. The Lan left him alone, which was good, because Wei Wuxian was in the mood to sulk extravagantly.

 

He should have said something. Anything.

 

He swung a foot out, kicking a loose piece of stone. Someone would have to tell Lan Wangji the walls needed better upkeep. Not Wei Wuxian though. Wei Wuxian could never talk to Lan Wangji again, because he only wanted to say one thing to Lan Wangji and for some reason he couldn’t say it.

 

No. That was a lie. He’d known exactly why he couldn’t say it. But that made the wanting no easier. It didn’t make the way Lan Wangji had let go of him, walked away from him, any easier either.

 

Something dark moved overhead. Wei Wuxian looked up.

 

The Wen clan had once bred birds to carry messages for them.

 

They’d kept the breeding and training of those birds a complete secret because of the unusual skill their messenger birds possessed: when those birds reached their destination, they would only land and give up their message to a person who knew the distinct call they’d been trained to obey.

 

Wen Chao had used dark, ostentatious hawks, tasselled with gold. Wei Wuxian knew, because he’d shot Wen Chao’s favourite from the sky himself. But Wen Qing was cleverer than her dead, distant cousins. The bird Wei Wuxian saw circling overhead was unremarkable, apart from the red cloth bound around one of its feet. Wei Wuxian’s breath hitched.

 

He’d tied that to A-Yuan’s wrist himself. See, I’ll still be with you A-Yuan! I’ll come back, I promise. You don’t need to cry. Let your uncle hold you, it’s time to go-

 

Wei Wuxian let out a low, swooping whistle of noise and the bird turned in the sky. Flew down to meet him. It perched on his outstretched arm, talons digging viciously into his sleeve.

 

He took the message from its ribboned foot with shaking hands.

 

“I don’t have any food for you,” he muttered. “I’m sorry.”

 

The bird bit him once in compensation, then flung itself back into the air.

There were no words on the parchment. Only a drawing of a skull.

 

Wei Wuxian sat down on the ground, staring at that skull through blurring eyes. To anyone else, the message would likely have looked ominous. But Wei Wuxian looked at it and felt relief so complete it had taken his legs out from under him.

 

They Wens had made it. The Jins hadn’t caught them. They’d run and hidden themselves, just as planned.  They were alive.

 

He needed to go to them.

 

-

 

Escaping the Silent Fort was easier than it should have been, because no one… tried to stop Wei Wuxian from going. No one watched him, as he dug out his ancient leathers, and grabbed his sword – as he slipped out with a merchant carrying away the remains of a delivery, under a sack in his cart. For some reason he was trusted.

 

That made the fact he was betraying that trust much harder.

 

He travelled on foot until the deep dark of the night. It was like being his old self again, except that he wasn’t hungry or thirsty, his ribs unbruised and his side healed, the only ache on him the memory of Lan Wangji’s fingers grinding down on his wrist.

 

He heard the sound of hooves behind him, in the distance. He should have hidden or run, but the noise was coming from where he’d been – from Hanguang Jun’s fort – so he waited on the road, sword still sheathed, as the noise drew closer.

 

A single rider stopped before him. Dismounted.

 

Even in the night dark, Wei Wuxian recognised Lan Wangji’s face. Lan Wangji looked at him for a long moment. Took a step closer.

 

Wei Wuxian took one back. Lan Wangji froze.

 

“Please,” said Wei Wuxian. He swallowed, voice hoarse. Ah, why was this so hard? “Don’t take me back.”

 

“Wei Ying.” He sounded wretched.

 

“I’ll come back,” Wei Wuxian said quickly. “Lan Zhan. I promise I’ll come back but I… right now, I need to do something.”

 

Lan Wangji stared at him.

 

“You are not my prisoner,” said Lan Wangji, eventually. “I am sorry I led you to believe otherwise.”

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whispered.

 

Slowly, Lan Wangji approached. Reached under his cloak and removed a pouch.

 

“For you,” he said.

 

Wei Wuxian took it from him. Inside the pouch were… gold coins. A lot of gold coins. A letter, marked with Hanguang Jun’s seal, proclaiming Wei Wuxian as under his protection. One small dagger, sheathed but no doubt wickedly sharp.

 

“If you wish to return to Lotus Pier, Sandu Shengshou would welcome you home,” said Lan Wangji. “If you wish to go elsewhere, I can arrange a retinue to accompany you. And if you wish to go alone… you will have money and what protection I can offer with my name.” After a pause, he drew back his hands, and said, “I did not have the chance to obtain food.”

 

Wei Wuxian let out a shuddering breath.

 

“I can’t accept this,” he said.

 

“You can.”

 

“Lan Zhan, why are you so – so nice to me?” Wei Wuxian asked helplessly. “I’m a burden to you. You saved my life but I… I can’t stop causing you trouble.”

 

“You’re no trouble.” Lan Wangji’s voice was quiet.

 

“Liar. You’ll really let me leave? Even if all those people who trust you pay for it? If the Jin come for you?”

 

“Yes,” Lan Wangji said simply.

 

Why?”

 

“Look at me, Wei Ying.” Wei Wuxian looked. Lan Wangji’s expression was soft. His eyes were tender, unbearably so. And Wei Wuxian could only stare, and stare, as Lan Wangji let him see everything that lay in his heart. Just like that. “You know why,” Lan Wangji said finally.

 

Wei Wuxian closed his eyes. His heart ached.

 

“Jin Zixun wanted me to murder the last of the Wens. But there were only children left. Old men and women. And two people I... I considered my friends. Wen Ning. Wen Qing. I promised to protect them. Wen Qing - I told her a place she could go, and they’ve made it there.”

 

It was a huge leap of faith, to even tell Lan Wangji this. Even Jin Zixun hadn’t been sure if Wei Wuxian knew where the surviving Wens had gone. But now Lan Wangji knew.

 

“I need to make sure they’re safe,” Wei Wuxian said. “I need to help them. I owe them that.”

 

He heard the soft shudder of Lan Wangji’s breath.

 

“You are one man, Wei Ying,” said Lan Wangji. “You cannot protect them alone.”

 

Wei Wuxian laughed raggedly.

 

“I know. But I have to try. Who am I if I don’t try? I’ve done many terrible things for the sake of protecting the people I love.” He opened his eyes, looking down at the ground. At anything but Lan Wangji’s face. “I’m not ashamed of that. I’ve killed by trickery and killed to make a point.  I’ve killed for money. But if I let innocent people die – if I help make it happen – what am I? What justice is there? Lan Zhan. I won’t ask you to save them,” whispered Wei Wuxian. “You… you’ve done enough for me. I know I’m betraying you by leaving. And I can vow to you that I’ll return, but you have no reason to believe me.  But you need to know, I wouldn’t leave if I had a choice.”

 

“Then do not,” said Lan Wangji.

 

Wei Wuxian shook his head. But Lan Wangji was still speaking.

 

“I told you I was quelling border skirmished,” Lan Wangji said. “But I lied to you. I was not.”

 

He held out his palm. “Look,” he said.

 

On his palm was a disc. Painted wood. On it was a carving of a sun. But each ray of light emanating from it was a symbol: a beast’s head. A cloud. A lotus.

 

The Nie. The Lans. The Jiangs.

 

“I know you were once a brother to Sandu Shengshou, because he told me so,” Lan Wangji told him. “I have spoken with your brother and with Jiang Yanli. With Nie Mingjue. With lords of great power and lesser. And we have built, together, an alliance against the emperor. Jin Guangshan has long been unfit. And now together we are going to remove him from power.”

 

Wei Wuxian swallowed. “You… you’re going to try to overthrow the emperor?”

 

“We will succeed,” Lan Wangji said, steady and sure. “My brother has a spy among the Jin. I would not have found you without the assistance of that person.”

 

“You shouldn’t tell me so much,” Wei Wuxian said, alarmed and hopeful. Jiang Cheng. Did his brother still care about him? Still think of him? “Lan Zhan, you shouldn’t just trust people!”

 

“You are not people,” said Lan Wangji. “And you have trusted me with your secrets. As I should have trusted you with my own from the very moment I found you. I was a fool, to keep my silence.” He was quiet, for a moment. Then: “You would not have run, if I had trusted you.”

 

Wei Wuxian said nothing.

 

“You may still go, if you wish,” said Lan Wangji, into the silence. “I will not keep you. But let me help you save the Wen. I will call upon the assistance of my brother. We can bring them to safety. Wen Qing is a doctor, yes?” Wei Wuxian nodded numbly. “There is always need for physicians, at Cloud Recesses.”

 

“You’ll help me save them,” said Wei Wuxian.

 

“Yes.”

 

“You’ll… you’ll risk angering the Jin. To save them.”

 

“They will be angrier when we go to war with them,” Lan Wangji said.

 

Was it possible to fall in love with someone in a single moment?

 

It was so cold. The wind was blowing through the mountains. And Lan Wangji was watching Wei Wuxian with soft eyes, with an open palm, with an offer to save Wen lives, and Wei Wuxian along with them.

 

“Yes,” he said eventually, through the ache of his own throat and heart. “Help me save the Wen, Lan Zhan. Please.”

 

-

 

Wei Wuxian had to wait, after that. Wait for a messenger to be sent to central Lan territories; wait for another message to be sent back. But they were travelling soon enough, Wei Wuxian riding his own horse, a Lan cloak of white thrown over his shoulders.

 

Lang Wangji’s brother waited for them on the outskirts of Lan territory. He looked nearly identical to Lan Wangji, but his expression was softer. Zewu Jun, the scholar warlord - the one who guarded Lan ancestral lands – approached them with a smile.

 

“Wangji,” he said. He looked at Wei Wuxian, and offered him another smile, more guarded this time. “And this must be Wei Wuxian.”


“Zewu Jun,” said Wei Wuxian. Bowed his head. It was probably best to keep his mouth shut as long as possible. The more he spoke, the more likely he was to offend Lan Wangji’s brother. It was probably best to wait to do that until after Zewu Jun had helped him save the Wens. “It’s an honour to meet you.”

 

Perfunctory courtesies done, Zewu Jun returned his focus to his brother.

 

“It would be better to wait, of course,” said Zewu Jun mildly, as if continuing a previous argument with Lan Wangji, who stared at him with the resolute blankness. “To enter Jin territory now is to show our hand.”

 

“Sandu Shengshou and Chifeng Zun are prepared for war,” Lan Wangji said calmly. “As we all are. Jin Guanshan will fall or he will not. Delay will not assist us.”

 

Zewu Jun shook his head with a faint sigh.

 

“Then we ride,” he said. “Lead the way, Wangji.”

 

-

 

The Burial Mounds were on what had once been Wen territory. Now this land belonged to the Jin. But the emperor’s kin had claimed far too much land, too greedily, and a mass grave on land where nothing could grow held little interest to them.

 

This was where the Wen had agreed to hide, when Wei Wuxian had refused to kill them for Jin Zixun’s coin, and decided to save them instead.

 

There were only two fighters among the surviving Wen, and both of them stood together shielding their sorry little camp as the Lan riders approach. Wen Qing had her sword out. Wen Ning had his bow drawn, ready to fight. It was only when Wei Wuxian yelled out their names, windmilling his arms, that Wen Ning finally lowered his bow. Wen Qing sheathed her sword a moment later, when Zewu Jun dismounted his horse and offered her a bow of respect, his voice mild as he explained the Lan clan had come to offer their protection to Lady Wen and her people.

 

Wei Wuxian practically flung himself off his horse. He strode over to the Wens, looking at their camp – at Uncle Four and Grandmother Wen, and Wen Ning beaming with relief – at the makeshift huts with figures peering out from behind drapes -

 

“Brother Xian! Brother Xian!”


A small figure was running towards him. Wei Wuxian kneeled down, and A-Yuan flung himself into Wei Wuxian’s waiting arms. He held the boy tight, smelling his soft hair, feeling those small hands grip onto him. Alive. They were all alive.

 

“There you go, A-Yuan,” he said fondly. “I told you I’d come back, didn’t I? It’s going to be alright.”

 

-

 

After the war, Zewu Jun would accompany the Wen survivors to Cloud Recesses, where they could practice their healing traditions in peace. But for now, they remained in Lan Wangji’s own fort, where they could be best protected. A set of rooms was arranged for them, deep in the centre of the fort. Food was laid out, and baths, and honestly Wei Wuxian was fairly sure if anyone had said a single nice word to them, Wen Ning would have started crying. Thank goodness for Lan restraint.

 

Wei Wuxian helped them settle in, cheerfully ignoring the look Wen Qing gave him when she worked out that Wei Wuxian was more than a guest of Hanguang Jun’s.

 

“You can’t talk about it in front of the child,” he said, when she tried to speak. A-Yuan was still clinging tenaciously to his leg, and didn’t look like he was willing to let go. “Think of his innocent ears!”

 

“Wei Wuxian,” she said sharply. “We are going to talk about this.” Her gaze was narrow. She said, deliberately soft, “If you’re here against your will…”

 

“Ah, no,” he said. Smiled. “Trust me. I want to be here.”

 

She pursed her lips.

 

“You’re a good liar.”

 

He stepped closer to her, dragging A-Yuan’s weight along with him. Touched his knuckles to her cheek. It was more affection than Wen Qing would usually have tolerated, but she allowed it now. They were alive, after all. If they couldn’t be soft now, when could they?

 

“I’m not lying,” he said. “I’m happy here. I promise.”

 

-

 

That night, he forced himself to be brave.

 

He dressed in his old leathers again. His boots. Wrapped his own red ribbon in his hair.

 

Went to the bedroom he shared with his husband.

 

Lan Wangji was sitting on the edge of the bed. He looked as if he’d been waiting for Wei Wuxian to come to him. Perhaps he had been.

 

 

 

 

“You told me to ask you for what I want,” said Wei Wuxian, without greeting him; without anything but the thud of his own heart, which said, I’m home. “And I think that’s because you know what I want, don’t you Lan Zhan? And you…” Wei Wuxian trailed off. Shook his head. “I don’t know how to say it,” he said.

 

Lan Wangji said nothing. His silence was a waiting silence – not angry or impatient, not demanding. He was still and quiet and looking at Wei Wuxian with utter gentleness.

 

“I couldn’t ask,” Wei Wuxian said finally. “Not then. You can’t ask for what I want if you don’t trust someone.”

 

He looked down at his hands. Thought of the Wens, sleeping safe in their own quarters, in warm beds with full bellies, all thanks to Lan Wangji.

 

“But I trust you now, Lan Zhan,” he said, raising his head. Meeting Lan Wangji’s eyes.

 

“I trust you too, Wei Ying.”

 

Wei Wuxian scoffed. “You have absolutely no reason to.”

 

“Nonetheless,” Lan Wangji said calmly.

 

Wei Wuxian laughed, a little helplessly.

 

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” he said. “You’re too good. I want you so much. And I - I want so much from you.”

 

“If you want to ask, you may ask,” Lan Wangji said. He remained where he was, seated on the edge of the bed. To anyone who hadn’t lain beside him night after night, he would probably have looked unmoved. But Wei Wuxian could see the tension in his hands and his jaw. The leashed feeling in him, waiting to be let out.

 

It was good to know that Wei Wuxian wasn’t the only one practically vibrating out of his skin.

 

For a moment, Wei Wuxian allowed a little silence, and just… stared, at Lan Wangji. His broad shoulders. That long hair. That perfect face and those war-callused, elegant hands.

 

Wei Wuxian wanted him so fucking much.  

 

“Hanguang Jun took me as his wife under false pretences,” Wei Wuxian said. But he smiled as he said it; let his voice sink into something purring and predatory, so Lan Wangji would understand that this was Wei Wuxian trusting him. This was Wei Wuxian asking. “You didn’t defeat me, Lan Zhan. You just took advantage of the fact that I was already on my knees.”

 

“I see,” Lan Wangji said. “I have been deceitful.” His voice was as calm as ever, but there was a faint curve to his mouth. “How shall I make up for my falsehood, Wei Ying?”

 

“Try and capture me yourself, as you should have, Hanguang Jun.” Wei Wuxian let his voice deepen, falling into the role. As he spoke, he took up his sword. Sheathed it. Lan Wangji watched him. “Fight me. And if you defeat me – if – then you can take me. Use me however you see fit.”

 

“Wei Ying.” His voice was rough.

 

“I want to beg, Lan Zhan,” he said, feeling heat coil inside him, dark and sharp. “I want to fight you. I want to say no. And I want you to make me obey.” He licked his own lower lip and watched Lan Wangji’s gaze fix on the motion. “I want you to take me as your bride, Lan Zhan,” breathed Wei Wuxian. “Is that what you want?”

 

Lan Wangji’s gaze was impossibly dark.

 

“I will need to know if you truly desire to refuse me,” said Lan Wangji.

 

Wei Wuxian couldn’t imagine that happening. But he didn’t argue. If this was what Lan Wangji needed from him, he’d provide it.

 

Yunmeng,” he said. “If I say it, you’ll know.”

 

Lan Wangji stood. Drew on his outer robe. His still bloodstained white cloak. He took up his sword.

 

The face he turned on Wei Wuxian was the one Wei Wuxian first saw, that night he bled on the snow on his knees before Lan Wangji.

 

“Run,” said Lan Wangji.

 

Wei Wuxian didn’t need to be told twice. He turned on his heel, barrelling out of the door.

 

It was easy to sink into the grip of the idea, as he raced down dark corridors, the sound of his own rushing blood in his ears: He was still the old Wei Wuxian, an outcast and a mercenary, running for his life. Hanguang Jun was chasing him. Hanguang Jun wanted to use him. He didn’t want Hanguang Jun to catch him.

 

But he did want it, of course. He just wanted them both to earn it.

 

He pelted down a side corridor. He’d made sure to run in the opposite direction of shared dormitories and the rooms given to the Wens, and here there was the silence of rooms long unused. There was a smell of dust in the air. Moonlight came in through narrow windows. In the spill of light, Wei Wuxian saw his own shadow – and Lan Wangji’s, drawing ever closer.

 

How are you so silent? Wei Wuxian marvelled internally. He could barely hear the thud of Lan Wangji’s footsteps. There was no noise but the whispering rustle of his cloak – the sharp hiss of metal as he drew his sword.

 

Their shadows melded. Wei Wuxian gave a sharp exhale and drew his own sword, twisting to meet Lan Wangji’s blade with his own. There was a clang as steel met steel. Over their swords, Wei Wuxian met Lan Wangji’s eyes.

 

“Hanguang Jun,” he said, baring his teeth.

 

“Wei Wuxian.” Lan Wangji’s voice was dark. “Yield.”

 

“Ah no,” said Wei Wuxian. “I don’t think so.” Not yet.

 

Wei Wuxian was a trained fighter, a mercenary – a little fear wasn’t enough to break his focus. He took a step back, forcing Lan Wangji to follow, parrying blow after blow. Lan Wangji was stronger, but Wei Wuxian was quick, and he used his speed to his benefit, light on his feet. But Lan Wangji was more cunning than Wei Wuxian had expected.

 

Lan Wangji shoved him back with a heavy blow. His eyes narrowed.

 

He threw his own sword to the ground.

 

Wei Wuxian’s surprise was… clearly something Lan Wangji had wagered on, because when Wei Wuxian hesitated, Lan Wangji darted forward. Gripped Wei Wuxian’s wrist, brutally hard. The pain that shot through Wei Wuxian’s arm was sudden and undeniable. It forced his fingers open with a spasm.

 

Wei Wuxian’s sword was knocked from his hand. He had no time to react before Lan Wangji slammed him to the ground, pinning him down, a leg thrown over his own, one callused hand wrapping around his wrists and holding them flat against the floor. Wei Wuxian let out a breath that absolutely wasn’t a moan, swore, and tried to fling Lan Wangji off by abruptly shifting his own body weight against the floor. It did no good: Lan Wangji had more muscle, and now that he had Wei Wuxian beneath him, he only had to press to keep Wei Wuxian trapped.

 

His body was so warm. Wei Wuxian was already sweating, overwhelmed.

 

“I have you, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said. His voice was a whisper against Wei Wuxian’s ear.

 

Wei Wuxian tried to fling his head to the side, to get away from the tingling pleasure of Lan Wangji’s breath on his skin. He couldn’t think. But Lan Wangji lifted his free hand and gripped Wei Wuxian by the air, pushing his head back and leaving his neck in a bare, vulnerable arch. There was no escaping that breath anymore – no way to avoid the pleasure that melted into him and left his blood burning.

“Is this where you want to take me, my lord?” Wei Wuxian gasped out. The giddy fear and hunger in him were soaring like birds. He felt so alive. He had to crush down the urge to laugh with the pure joy of it. “Right here in this corridor?”

 

“Wei Ying knows how to act for an audience.” And then Lan Wangji wasn’t simply breathing anymore. His lips were tracing the lines of Wei Wuxian’s throat. Then his teeth. “Does Wei Ying not want everyone to see he belongs to me?”

 

“No,” said Wei Wuxian, but he was panting, and without his say his hips were moving, trying to press his aching cock against Lan Wangji’s leg, or the edge of his robes. Anything. He could imagine it – eyes on them as Lan Wangji made him pant and moan and beg. As Lan Wangji took him.

 

As Lan Wangji said, Wei Ying is mine.

 

“But Wei Ying does belong to me,” Lan Wangji said. He released Wei Wuxian’s hair and reached instead for his own, unknotting the ribbon he wore across his forehead. Then he reached for Wei Wuxian’s pinned wrists and bound them up tight. “He is my bride.”

 

Lan Wangji took his bound wrists and bit around the cloth, a harsh press of teeth followed by the softness of his tongue that made Wei Wuxian pant, helplessly aroused. He tried to shift away again, tried to struggle, but Lan Wangji only pinned him back down and moved to bite, vicious and hot, against the curve of Wei Wuxian’s jaw, the soft skin behind his ear, the edge of his throat. No softness of tongue this time. Only pain.

 

Wei Wuxian loved it.

 

When Lan Wangji began to undress him – methodically, coolly, right there in the corridor – Wei Wuxian tried to fight again. But Lan Wangji’s hand was an iron band, holding Wei Wuxian’s bound wrists pinned. His other hand was cruelly gentle, when it touched skin: nails skating the hollows of his ribs; thumbs brushing over his nipples, then twisting, in a way that made Wei Wuxian groan. He moved lower, scraping nails over Wei Wuxian’s thighs. Digging his fingers in. Bruising him where his skin was soft.

 

Wei Wuxian forced himself not to beg. Only bit his lip, then whimpered, when Lan Wangji released his wrists.

 

“Keep your hands where they are,” he commanded.

 

“Or what, Hanguang Jun?” Wei Wuxian challenged. “What will you do that you’re not?”

 

“I won’t let you come,” Lan Wangji said, in a voice entirely devoid of feeling. “No matter how you beg.”

 

Wei Wuxian struggled for air. It was suddenly hard to breathe.

 

Lan Wangji moved down his body. Wei Wuxian didn’t move his bound hands.

 

Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji’s hair brush his thighs. His lips. Then Lan Wangji began to bite his thighs, sucking in marks, and Wei Wuxian was gasping, squirming, the pain was melting through him like fire and his cock was achingly hard and Lan Wangji wasn’t touching it.

 

Lan Wangji nudged one of his thighs wider. Finally, a hand came up to palm his cock. For a single moment, Wei Wuxian’s vision went white with sensation – then Lan Wangji was moving again, his fingers tracing Wei Wuxian’s hole, his fingertips slippery.

 

“What…?”

 

“Oil,” said Lan Wangji. “To open you for me.”

 

“Don’t...” Wei Wuxian began, even though he had no idea what he wanted to say. But Lan Wangji was moving up his body, sliding a hot, callused finger into him as he began kissing him, slow and thorough. Wei Wuxian couldn’t speak anymore. Just breathe, struggling for air as Lan Wangji opened him with steady, merciless strokes of that finger inside of him.

 

Lan Wangji set his teeth at the juncture of neck and shoulder, sucking leisurely at skin. Slid another finger into Wei Wuxian. He was already tracing a third around the furl of Wei Wuxian’s body, and Wei Wuxian felt so full, too full.

 

“I don’t,” Wei Wuxian bit out, hitched. “I don’t, can’t take it, too much-”

 

“You can. Spread your legs wider.” When Wei Wuxian did not, Lan Wangji shoved them wider with his knee, fingers sliding in deeper. He pressed the third in too and it ached, it hurt.

 

Wei Wuxian whimpered, grinding down onto Lan Wangji’s fingers.

 

Lan Zhan.”

 

“So good for your lord,” murmured Lan Wangji, and if Wei Wuxian had even been able to brush a hand over his own cock, he would have come right then and there. Instead he could only stare at Lan Wangji’s face as Lan Wangji withdrew his fingers and gripped him by the hips.

 

Lan Wangji pressed into him with deliberate slowness.

 

Too slow. Too slow. It should have felt like a kindness. Instead, he could feel every inch of Lan Wangji’s cock inside, opening him, carving out a space inside him. Even after three fingers he was too tight for this. He pressed his feet against the stone, curling and uncurling his toes, his body too full of feeling and too full of Lan Wangji to stay still.

 

Lan Wangji drew back his own hips, until he was barely inside Wei Wuxian’s body. Then he slid back into the hilt. Slow, so slow. Then again. And again. And again. It was like being opened up for the first time, every time. Wei Wuxian could only pant, helpless and bound with his hips in Lan Wangji’s hands.

 

Lan Wangji was staring right back at him, his eyes dark and hungry, as if he wanted to drink in every sound Wei Wuxian was making, wanted to take note of every press of his teeth over his lips or shudder of his throat as Lan Wangji pressed him open, forcing pleasure through his bloodstream. Wei Wuxian knew he was begging, distantly, that he was panting Lan Zhan Lan Zhan my lord please please, but he couldn’t stop himself. He was out of control. Being fucked by Lan Wangji felt like, felt like…

 

It felt like being claimed.

 

“Lan Zhan,” he groaned again. His clenched and unclenched his bound hands. Tried to draw his thighs together. Tilt up his hips. Anything, to feel friction against his cock, anything. “Lan Zhan. My lord. I need – I need to come.”

 

“Is my bride begging?”

 

“I did what I was told, my lord.” And ah, hells, was he crying? His face felt wet. It felt so good and hurt so sweetly, he was overwhelmed. He felt Lan Wangji’s fingers against his cheeks, wiping the tears away. Felt those fingers against his own lips, rubbing the salt in. He parted his lips, little flickers of his tongue against those fingers. He felt one dip between his lips and let his mouth fall slack, still crying as Lan Wangji traced his teeth, his tongue. Fucked him.

 

Lan Wangji drew his hand back.

 

“Wei Ying,” he said, dark and gentle, still fucking Wei Wuxian open deep and slow, owning him completely. “Who do you belong to?”

 

“Lan Zhan,” he whimpered, feeling broken open, free and so vulnerable he could have flown out of his skin. “Lan Zhan. I’m yours. Please. I’m yours.”

 

“A reward,” said Lan Wangji, reaching down, his rough fingertips brushing over Wei Wuxian chest, his stomach, down and down further, before they wrapped firmly around his cock. “For your obedience.”

 

Three harsh tugs on his cock, Lan Wangji brushing his thumb over the slit, and Wei Wuxian was orgasming, shaking, falling apart so completely that he couldn’t even make a noise – only open his mouth and wail noiselessly, throat locked.

 

Lan Wangji fucked him through it – fucked him through the aftershocks – until Wei Wuxian was squirming with oversensitivity, unsure if he was trying to get away from Lan Wangji or get more of him. Lan Wangji’s strokes grew more brutal and uneven – he pinned Wei Wuxian’s hips down, grinding them against stone – and Wei Wuxian could only lie there, being used, his cock trying valiantly to rise all over again.

 

When Lan Wangji came, he groaned. Kissed Wei Wuxian, who arched up to meet him, wishing he could hold him, feel that dark long hair in his hands, touch that cold face which was flushed now, dark at the cheekbones and ears, his lips swollen.

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji murmured. He kissed Wei Wuxian’s forehead as he unravelled the ribbon; as he traced Wei Wuxian’s wrists with the gentlest touch. “Are you well?”

 

“Lan Zhan,” he said tenderly. “My Lan Zhan. Let’s go to bed.”

 

-

 

Lan Wangji carried Wei Wuxian back to their room and they fucked again, tangling together on the bed, Wei Wuxian riding Lan Wangji, one hand pressed to the hard planes of Lan Wangji’s stomach for balance. He loved the feel of Lan Wangji’s muscles moving under his hand – the way they tensed as Wei Wuxian fucked down onto him, and Lan Wangji rose to meet him.

 

“My bride rides me beautifully,” said Lan Wangji, gripping Wei Wuxian’s waist with reverent hands.

 

Wei Wuxian made a sound that wasn’t entirely human and ground down on Lan Wangji, feeling the hot stretch of that dick inside him, filling him up. Lifted his hips, whimpering again at the sweet friction and the stretch. His thighs were aching and his body was sore around Lan Wangji’s cock. His skin was covered in marks that were sure to turn into deep, livid bruises. They were on his wrists, his throat, his jaw. There’d be no hiding them. Everyone would know what they’d done.

 

This was perfect.

 

“Don’t,” he said weakly. “You can’t say things like that, Lan Zhan. What am I meant to do?”

 

Lan Wangji was watching him intently.

 

“Wei Ying likes to be praised,” he murmured.

 

“No,” Wei Wuxian protested. And then, almost immediately, as if to prove himself a liar, he asked, “Am I a good wife, Lan Zhan?”

 

“You are so good,” Lan Wangji said, in that low, velvet voice of his, raising his hips to meet Wei Wuxian’s own rolling undulation. “So sweet. I could ask for no better wife.”

 

“You’ll keep me then?”

 

Lan Wangji’s hands tightened brutally on his waist. Wei Wuxian only had a second to prepare for Lan Wangji to lift him up, off his cock. Wei Wuxian was thrown back against the bed – he let out a whoop of a laugh as Lan Wangji leaned over him, caging him with the breadth of that strong body. Without pause, Lan Wangji slid back into him, gripping his thighs, near folding him in half even as he kissed Wei Wuxian sweetly, leisurely.

 

“Yes,” Lan Wangji breathed, gentle against Wei Wuxian’s lips. “I will keep you.”

 

“Good,” Wei Wuxian said, trying not to pant, gripping Lan Wangji’s hair in his trembling hands. “Because I want to – ah, there! – stay.”

 

They didn’t do much more talking, after that.

 

-

 

Wei Wuxian was… not going to get up and tutor the Lan children today. He wasn’t even sure it was a good idea to see the Wens.

 

He was lying on his side, facing Lan Wangji, who was watching him in return, expression soft.

 

“Deep thoughts,” he said, brushing his thumb over the crease between Wei Wuxian’s eyebrows.

 

“Ah, no. I’m thinking about how I’ll explain all of this to the Wens.” He gestured vaguely at his neck. “I don’t want Wen Qing to murder you. Or shit, Wen Ning to cry. Do you have any high-necked robes…?”

 

“Not a one,” Lan Wangji said placidly, as if Wei Wuxian hadn’t seen him wear multiple high-necked robes in the past.

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whined.

 

“Mn.”

 

“Wen Qing is a doctor, you know. She could poison you.”

 

“You will have to convince her not to,” said Lan Wangji. “I trust you will find a way.”

 

Wei Wuxian kissed him. He couldn’t help himself.

 

“I want something to cover my neck at least,” Wei Wuxian said, when the kiss ended. Then he brushed his hand over Lan Wangji’s face, running his thumb over the ribbon now secured back over Lan Wangji’s forehead.

 

“What do you call me, Lan Zhan?” When Lan Wangji frowned in confusion, Wei Wuxian clarified, “I know you call me a bride here, but what do you call me to your other Lans? Do you call me wife? Husband? Anything at all?”

 

“We do not claim brides,” Lan Wangji said, staring into Wei Wuxian’s own eyes with a tenderness that made Wei Wuxian want to jump him and also curl up into a ball of sheer embarrassment. “You did not consent to marry me. It was not a proper marriage. It would be presumptuous to call you my husband or my wife. So I do not.”

 

“What, then?”

 

Lan Wangji was silent for a time.

 

“I say you are my equal,” Lan Wangji said finally. “The one I have chosen. My beloved.”

 

“Oh.” Wei Wuxian let out a shaky breath. “Lan Zhan…?”

 

“Mn?”

 

“I want to be yours,” he said. “Husband or wife – I don’t care what we call it. I want to marry you properly. I want us to wear red. I want a feast. And I want to drink liquor.” He curved a hand around Lan Wangji’s jaw; marvelled at the feel of that soft skin under his palm. That he could have this – him, Wei Wuxian, a mercenary unworthy of love, who thought he’d die bleeding out on the snow – could have this. “What do you say, Lan Zhan? Will you marry me?”

 

“Yes,” said Lan Wangji. He smiled then and it was – breathtaking. The soft curve of his mouth. The crinkle of his eyes. The love radiated off of him. “Yes, Wei Ying. I’ll marry you.”