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【那夏天的我們】a stroke of fate

Chapter Text

 

The train ride is long but quiet. Lan Wangji spends the six hours alternating between dozing gently and reading a book on ancient poetry. When he realizes he’s been rereading the same poem on spring rain around the third hour, he turns his head to stare blankly out the window instead.

The scenery is green. Trees and meadows and fields and mountains in the distance, growing closer as the train moves forwards. It looks like a painting. Somewhere peaceful, far away from the chains of the concrete jungle where Lan Wangji has been living for far too long. He thinks perhaps he used to live in the mountains, as a child—he has an image of a cottage and his mother’s hand in his as they walk along a stream. But all of that felt like a distant dream. This, though, the idyllic view outside his window and the modest suitcase stored in the overhead compartment, this feels real.

His brother had asked him if he was sure about this trip. It wasn’t like Lan Wangji had much of a choice but to retreat from the public eye, and more importantly, from their family’s eye. He’d caused quite a scandal, talking back to the elders like that. The worst thing was, Lan Wangji cannot bring himself to regret a thing.

“There are other options,” Lan Xichen had said when Lan Wangji informed him of his destination. “We have cousins living overseas that would take you in for a few months. Or you could apply for a program abroad, maybe Japan, haven’t you expressed interest in learning their cultural arts as well?”

But Lan Wangji had shaken his head. He’d marked the place on the map and packed his things, and the next morning he had boarded the train. His brother was the only one to see him off, but the lunchbox and envelope of spending money that Lan Xichen pressed into his hands was all Uncle.

When the train finally reaches his stop, Lan Wangji puts on his coat and grabs his suitcase in silence. He slings his guqin over his shoulder. The station is empty. There is a lone guard in the booth by the gates, completely absorbed with the old television propped up in the corner. It is broadcasting a rerun of a historical drama, a line of static running up the screen every few minutes. Lan Wangji takes out his phone. He holds it up over his head. Half a bar’s signal. He sighs.

“Excuse me,” he says to the guard. “Is there a bus? I’m headed for the Wen Village.”

“Comes once a day,” the man says without looking up. “You just missed it.”

Lan Wangji blinks. He looks down at the suitcase next to him, then at the afternoon sun peeking above the trees. The man glances up at his silence and seems to take pity on him. 

“Here, I can give you a map. It’s not too far from here, but if you’re lucky, someone ought to be returning from Yiling proper soon so you can hitch a ride.”

“Thank you,” Lan Wangji says politely. He takes the map with the pen-drawn directions, and begins to walk.

Barely fifteen minutes of walking and his shirt has grown damp with sweat. The sun is thankfully not directly overhead, but the temperature is much higher here than he’s used to. Especially with no air conditioned buildings in sight. He sees nothing but trees, dirt, and a winding road that is barely wide enough for two lanes. There is an occasional breeze, but for the most part, it’s hot and sticky.

There is only one road from the train station to the village. He listens, but the only sound he can hear is the chirp of bugs in the woods and the rumble of his suitcase wheels on the rough pavement. Just as he resigns himself to walking the whole way, the distant sound of a car engine approaching from behind reaches him. He drags his suitcase to the side and waits for the truck to pull up next to him.

A young man peers through the open passenger window at him. He looks about Lan Wangji’s age, maybe a little younger, long black hair tucked under a bamboo rice hat. “Um, hello,” he says. “Are you heading to Wen Village?”

“Yes,” Lan Wangji answers. “I have informed the village head that I would be arriving today.”

“Oh,” the boy says. He takes in Lan Wangji’s slacks and the sleek guqin case on his back. “Oh! Lan- gongzi, right?”

Lan Wangji nods. The boy gestures for him to climb in. He waits until Lan Wangji has settled the suitcase in the truck bed and sat down on the bench before restarting the engine. There is no seatbelt. Lan Wangji rests his fists on his knees and tries to unclench them.

“We didn’t know when you’d be arriving,” the boy is saying, “or else we’d have sent a ride for you. There’s only one bus that passes by our village, sadly, and sometimes it doesn’t operate because the driver is hungover. Ah, it’s not that bad! Nobody really comes to our village, anyway, and we have this truck to go down to Yiling to do business.”

Lan Wangji hums. He tries to subtly unstick his shirt from his skin.

“I’m Wen Ning, by the way. You’re lucky I was passing by on my way back from the morning market, or else you might not have arrived until nightfall. The bugs are something fierce after sundown. Make sure to ask my sister for her bug repellent—she also has ointment in case you do get stung. She makes them both herself and it’s super effective!”

Wen Ning fills the ride to the village with lighthearted chatter. He doesn’t seem to mind Lan Wangji’s lack of responses. Lan Wangji learns that his sister is the village head and also village doctor, that most of the residents in Wen Village are directly related to them. That Wen Ning is in his last year of university and is going back to school in the fall. That their village is small but they grow a variety of vegetables that they sell in town. That Lan Wangji is the first outsider staying long term for the first time in five years. The last outsider who came to their village happened to settle down and hasn’t left since.

Lan Wangji knows this, because that person is the reason why he chose to leave the city to live in an anonymous village so small it’s barely on the map. Yiling Laozu, a small time Youtuber who uploads videos about the countryside life. According to the site, his channel started roughly five years ago, but since then he has been regularly uploading at least one video every week. The videos range from agricultural time lapses to the village scenery, traditional food-making to random videos featuring the people who live in the village. Lan Wangji cannot remember how he stumbled across this channel, which has barely ten thousand subscribers, when his own music channel has over a million and he only ever uses his account to upload his songs and keep up with the Lan Agency’s promotions. But since he clicked into that first video, where the man who calls himself the Yiling Laozu is lamenting the poor crop of turnips they planted the year before, Lan Wangji has watched every single one. He made another account just to subscribe to the channel so he can receive notifications when a new video is up. Something about the aimless but peaceful content and something about the sunny smile of this Yiling Laozu strikes a soothing chord in Lan Wangji’s muted world of rules and expectations. So here he is, in a stranger’s truck, turning the bend to a village in the middle of nowhere, hoping to find and experience that tranquility for himself. 

He’s lived twenty-six years on this earth learning how to be proper and respectable. Just once in his life he wanted to do something reckless. Except, as Wen Ning pulls to a stop outside a modest courtyard, Lan Wangji suddenly feels like he made a mistake. When Uncle had advised him to keep a low profile and go into seclusion for a while until the elders calm down, Lan Wangji had made his decision without much thought. Now, though, he’s wondering if maybe his hastiness is too much.

Lan Wangji was raised in a big, bustling city. He hates bugs, despises grime, and has not deviated from his routine in long, long years. He’s no stranger to being alone, but out here, he is completely on his own. No brother to swoop in to translate for him, no uncle to excuse him. Maybe he should turn back while he has the chance.

“Ah, there’s my sister,” Wen Ning says, interrupting the downward spiral of Lan Wangji’s thoughts. He waves, and the woman striding towards them nods back. He lifts Lan Wangji’s suitcase with surprising ease, setting it down beside him before Lan Wangji can protest. Lan Wangji has the urge to tip him, but stops himself at the last second with an inkling that the gesture might not be appreciated here. “I have to go return the truck to Second Uncle, but my sister will show you where you’re staying. It was nice to meet you, Lan- gongzi.”

“Likewise,” Lan Wangji manages. He’s treated to a shy smile, and then Wen Ning is back in the truck and leaving him with a cloud of dirt-dust. He turns to see the woman staring at him with a cool but curious look in her eyes.

“Wen Qing,” she introduces herself. “Lan Wangji?”

He nods. They shake hands. Her hand is much smaller than his but covered in callouses, speaking of hard work. She doesn’t smile, but her eyes are kind. Even though she looks barely older than he is, she carries herself with an air of collected calm that Lan Wangji recognizes in his uncle. 

“I’m glad your trip was alright,” Wen Qing says, leading him not inside the courtyard but rather down the dirt path around the gate. “It was a bit of a surprise when we received your request about accomodation for your seclusion. I’m sure my brother told you, but we really don’t receive many visitors. This is just a simple village.”

“I apologize for any intrusion,” Lan Wangji says stiffly.

Wen Qing waves him off. “It’s fine. You’re not the only city folk looking to escape the crowd for a season or two. It’s hard work out here, but at least it’s quiet.”

“You speak from experience.”

“I grew up here. Went to Shanghai for a doctor’s degree, but I ended up coming back here.” She shrugs. “I don’t regret it.”

“I see.” 

A house comes into view through the trees. It’s small, and the front is full of weeds and old farming equipment, but the walls look recently painted. Wen Qing points out the uneven stone steps as they approach.

“Since most people that live here are family, there aren’t many spare buildings we can give you. I know you said you wanted somewhere private where you can do your own thing, but unfortunately, this place was the only one with a spare bedroom.” Wen Qing knocks on the door, and then proceeds to push at the knob. “There’s still plenty of room. And your roommate will probably be out of the house for most of the day, so you won’t have to worry about him.”

Lan Wangji is still processing your roommate when she finally shoves open the door, and a tiny blur comes rushing out of the house and straight towards him. The thing latches onto his legs, nearly throwing him backwards. He blinks down to find a child sitting on his shoes, grinning toothily up at him.

“A-Yuan,” Wen Qing says exasperatedly. “What did we say about running at people’s legs?”

“But he didn’t fall! This gege is strong!”

“Let him go, A-Yuan. This gege is a guest, and how do we treat guests?”

The child’s face scrunches up, thinking hard. “Drink with them? Wei- gege says we keep refilling their cups until they tell us what they want!”

Wen Qing puts her palm to her face. “Come here, A-Yuan. I’m sorry, Lan Wangji, this child has been spending too much time with our resident troublemaker. I promise you, if he ever becomes too annoying, you’re free to complain. We’ll trap him in the main house if we need to.”

He wants to ask, but the child—A-Yuan—is bounding into the house again, hollering as he goes, “Wei- gege, your new playmate is here!”

They move into the house. It is all stone-tile flooring, dusty under their outdoor shoes. The walls are stone and wood, keeping the inside of the building cool from the pre-summer heat. Wen Qing is right, it is spacious within the house; the main area is sparsely furnished with mismatched wooden stools, a big square table, twin rocking chairs, and miscellaneous household items piled in the corner. He can see a bit of the kitchen around the corner, and another hallway that must connect to the rooms at the back of the house. It is spacious, but lived in.

Wen Qing goes to pull open the curtains, muttering about the dust and snacks wrappers littering the place. Lan Wangji stands in the hallway, awkward and uncertain. Before he can form a question, A-Yuan comes back into view, towing a tall, yawning man behind him. Lan Wangji looks at him, and forgets to breathe for a few seconds.

On the Youtube channel, the Yiling Laozu always wears a mask. A silvery piece with intricate markings that cover half his face, leaving his smiling mouth open and hiding his eyes in shadow. Still, Lan Wangji has watched enough videos to recognize that self-assured saunter, that loose and confident posture, that blinding smile.

This man in front of him, patting A-Yuan’s head with one hand and rubbing his eyes with the other, is him. And he is much, much more attractive than Lan Wangji could have predicted. Shoulder-length hair held up in a lazy ponytail by a red ribbon, youthful features on sunkissed skin, and the brightest, most magnetic pair of grey eyes Lan Wangji has ever seen.

“Oh,” the man says. He blinks at Lan Wangji. “Hello there. Am I still dreaming? Wen Qing, did I die and go to heaven? There’s an angel standing in my house.”

Lan Wangji can feel his ears turning red. Wen Qing rolls her eyes. She goes to scoop A-Yuan up, carrying him under her arm like a roll of bedding. The boy squeals but can do little more than wiggle his arms and legs. “What are you doing here?” she asks. “Aren’t you supposed to be helping the aunties in the orchard?”

“I was,” the man says. “But they shooed me off because my pretty face was too distracting. Besides,” the man coos, reaching out to boop A-Yuan on the nose, “someone needed to watch the baby.”

“I’m not a baby!” A-Yuan shouts. “I’m seven years old! I’m a big boy!”

“This big boy needs to go back to Granny,” Wen Qing says. She points at the man with a threatening finger. “Help him get settled in but don’t be too extra. I told him he can and should report to me if you get on his nerves.”

“Wen Qing,” the man whines. “Turning him against me already?”

“You’re a menace, he should be warned.”

She sweeps out of the house with A-Yuan waving goodbye. The door closes behind them, leaving the two of them staring at each other in silence. Lan Wangji’s fingers are clenched tight around his suitcase handle. The man runs a hand through his sleep-mussed dark curls, the movement slow and careless and terribly distracting. He smiles at Lan Wangji with the force of a small sun.

“So, you’re the famous Lan- gongzi, huh,” the man says. “What’s a city slicker like you doing in the boonies?”

Lan Wangji frowns. “Are you not also someone who moved here from the city?”

He receives a surprised blink for that. Then the man laughs, and the sound is so much more vibrant outside of a screen. “I see you know who I am, huh. Are you a fan? Did you come all the way here for an autograph?”

“No,” Lan Wangji blurts out. He takes back all his previous thoughts. This man might be breathtaking to look at but he’s quite annoying once he opens his mouth. “I have seen your videos. But I am here purely for a break from my... work.”

“Right.” The man studies him with sharp eyes, but Lan Wangji just stares back stoically. He’s been looked at like he’s a puzzle, but Lan Wangji isn’t sure what the man is seeing. He’s not sure what he wants the man to see. 

“My videos, huh. Didn’t know the Yiling Laozu was interesting to rich young masters like you.” Shrugging, the man gestures for Lan Wangji to follow. “Wen Qing was saying you’re some hotshot musician. I guess if you play some ancient instrument, it makes sense for you to come all the way out here. Be in touch with nature, be zen, and all that. I play the dizi, you know. Maybe we can duet some time.” He throws a wink over his shoulder. When Lan Wangji merely blinks at him, he faces forwards again, continuing, “Anyway, here’s your room. Mine’s the one across from yours, and the bathroom’s down the hall. You can use whatever you find and if you’re missing something, just holler. I’m usually out during the day, but I edit my videos at night. I’ll try to keep it down for you, Lan- gongzi.”

“No need,” Lan Wangji says. He pauses. “My apologies for causing you inconveniences with my stay.”

The man waves a hand, much in the same manner that Wen Qing had. “Don’t worry about it. You’re the most exciting thing that’s happened in this village since we managed to grow potatoes. Oh! I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Wei Ying. Though you can call me the Yiling Laozu, if you like.” His grin is just on the edge of a smirk.

Lan Wangji sighs through his nose. “Lan... Zhan,” he says, surprising himself. Since his debut, only his brother calls him by his true name, and only rarely. Wei Ying does not seem to notice the pause. 

“Okay,” Wei Ying says, his smile widening into something more genuine. “Make yourself at home, Lan Zhan.” 

Then Lan Wangji is left alone. He looks around his new room. There isn’t much to see. A wooden bed pushed against the far wall, an antique-looking closet that spans half of one wall, a small table under the window. Everything is dark mahogany and bamboo. Someone must have come through to clean as the surfaces are free of dust. The colourful quilts folded on the bed smells clean, like they have been hung out in the sun. 

Lan Wangji sets his suitcase in the corner and lays his guqin on the table. There are messages on his phone from his brother, asking after his arrival. He has to figure out where he can find a proper signal for his phone, maybe ask Wei Ying for internet access. But for now, he sits down on the bamboo mat spread across the bed, and just breathes.

Outside, the cicadas are making a cacophony. There’s a bird flitting about somewhere in the distance. Lan Wangji is a stranger to this symphony of noise, but he stays quiet and listens.

The sound of summer—of a beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

potatoes time lapse - the kids grow up so fast!

9382 views • May 22nd

Yiling Laozu

our village head got mad at me for buying the wrong seeds
but i can’t be the only one sick of turnips by now!
pls tip in the link below if u would like to send my potato
children to college~

121 comments SORT BY

WontonBalls I love your time lapse videos! But I wonder how long it takes for you to compile them...

pplmountainpplsea yl calling these vegetables in his garden his children makes me so happy

heiheiheh BIG MOOD hes so cute

Radish Baby i wish he would show his face for once bc i bet he really IS cute

lianhua3 Those potatoes look like they’d make delicious stir-fry!

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Lan Wangji wakes at five, as is his habit. It takes him a moment to orient himself in the unfamiliar room. He’s used to the bland hotel rooms the agency arranges for him on his tours, but this room in Wen Village, in the Yiling Laozu’s house—it’s something else entirely. The smell of old wood and incense is not overwhelming, but it is striking.

The house is still and silent when he steps out of his room. He glances at the door across the hall, but it is closed and dark. True to his word, Wei Ying was up clattering about long after Lan Wangji turned in for bed last night. It took some getting used to, as Lan Wangji is used to the soundproofed silence of his sixteenth floor apartment. He managed to drift off eventually, his internal clock too ingrained and the long trip tiring him out. 

Lan Wangji wanders into the living area. The early morning light bathes everything in a fuzzy gold light. Birdsong can be heard filtering through the open window. He slips out the door. The morning air is slightly chilly, dew-wet and fresh. He walks down the stone pathway leading up to the house’s front door. The yard, if one can even consider it as such, is unkempt and seemingly used as extra storage space. He can see what looks like a shed just around the corner. Lan Wangji considers walking off the property to explore, but he thinks it would be quite sad to get lost on his second day. Instead, he wipes off the bench under the lone tree by the road where Wen Qing had led him through the day before, and sits down to meditate.

He doesn’t know how long he sits there, but when he opens his eyes at the sound of shoes scuffling along gravel, it is brighter and he is doused with soft daylight. He looks up to find Wen Ning approaching with a tray in his hands.

“Ah, Lan-gongzi, ” says the boy. “You’re up! A-jie told me to bring breakfast since she wasn’t sure that Wei-ge would wake up in time to feed you.”

Lan Wangji nods in thanks. He walks ahead to open the door for Wen Ning. They sit at the large table in the living area, dragging the mismatched stools closer to sit. Wen Ning uncovers the tray, revealing a pot of xifan stewed with yam and some side dishes. He goes to wake Wei Ying up as Lan Wangji hunts through the cupboards in the kitchen for bowls and utensils. There does not seem to be any order to how the cupboards are organized. The only cupboard that is full and not filled with an assortment of random kitchen items is what appears to be a spices cabinet. Lan Wangji eyes the multiple bottles of chili oil. He shuts the cupboard firmly.

By the time he finally locates three clean bowls and three pairs of chopsticks, Wen Ning has reappeared with a sleepy Wei Ying behind him. Lan Wangji spoons the xifan into the bowls and places them on the table next to the chopsticks. 

“We weren’t sure which dishes were to your taste,” Wen Ning says, bowing slightly in thanks as he accepts his bowl. “I can note down your preferences and we’ll adjust.”

“Thank you for the offer,” Lan Wangji says. “But I can cook for myself. I would only need to trouble you for ingredients.”

“Man, don’t be so tense,” Wei Ying says, yawning. He slumps into a seat, hair sticking up every which way, eyes blinking blearily. “Granny likes to cook for everyone. Otherwise she’d be up worrying about us young ones going hungry all the time.”

“Do you not cook?” They had eaten dinner at the main house last night, as part of Lan Wangji’s welcoming party. Unnecessary and unexpected, but it was nice. Even if there was no way Lan Wangji can remember all the uncles and aunties that rotated through the courtyard.

Wei Ying stuffs half his fried egg in his mouth. “Yeah, I do,” he says, mid-chew. Lan Wangji subtly edges backwards. “In fact, I’ll cook dinner for you today!”

Lan Wangji looks at Wen Ning, but the boy seems to be experiencing a surge of hunger, quickly spooning yam into his mouth. “That’s kind of you,” Lan Wangji replies finally.

“Just you wait, Lan Zhan. You’ll be blown away, you’ll see.”

Wei Ying seems to wake up as they eat. He continues to chatter over the food, moving from topic to topic without purpose, never seeming to run out of things to talk about. He tells them about the comments on his videos that he read last night, the current video he’s in the process of editing. He muses about how Wen Ning should try braiding his hair maybe, do you think Wen Qing could stab someone with her needles from five metres away? Wen Ning chips in with a comment here or there, but neither seem to mind that Lan Wangji chooses to eat in silence. 

“We do host regular village-wide dinners,” Wen Ning tells him afterwards, when Wei Ying is polishing off the leftover pickled bamboo shoots. “Wei-ge is right, Granny does like to cook for everyone. You’re welcome to come by any time.”

Lan Wangji nods. He’s not used to big gatherings; he has lunch with his brother at least twice a week, and every weekend they come together to eat with their uncle. Those meals are nothing like what he experienced last night. 

“So, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says. “What are your plans for today?”

“Composing,” he answers.

“What, you’re going to stay holed up in here all day? You just got here!”

“Wei-ge, Lan-gongzi can do what he wants.”

“Yeah, I know, but.” Wei Ying pouts at him, even though he is a grown man. Lan Wangji pretends the expression is not cute at all. “Aren’t you even the least bit curious about the village? I know you watch my videos—you told me yourself! Don’t you want to see the real thing?”

Lan Wangji presses his lips together. “Don’t want to be a bother,” he says. “I will be working as well. It is fine.”

“You wouldn’t be a bother,” Wen Ning says quickly, before Wei Ying can protest again. “But if you would like to stay in today, that is fine, too! If you change your mind, just come out to the main house, someone will be there.”

They leave with the tray, Wei Ying already going on about the cucumber patch and Wen Ning humouring him as he follows. Lan Wangji goes to wash the utensils and bowls. The house is very quiet, once their voices fade around the corner. 

He takes his guqin out to the living area. It takes a bit of rearranging, but soon he is settled with the qin on the table and himself positioned at a comfortable distance from it. The windows are open as the temperature rises with the sun. He plucks at the instrument, runs through some easy exercises. He plays an old classic, one of the first songs he learned. He plays one of his own songs, from his second EP. He can go through all his songs and all his uncle’s favourites, but instead, he lets his hands fall back into his lap. It doesn’t sound right.

Lan Wangji is a gifted child. That is what the adults said, and no wonder, as he was born a Lan. Born into a prestigious family full of talented artists, and if not born with natural talent, then at least bearing the name of Lan would guarantee the funding and time to hone a talent through lessons upon lessons and hard work. Lan Wangji is lucky; he and his brother both showed aptitude for music. His elder brother had decided to go into work behind the scenes, but his brilliant mind and easygoing personality allowed him to excel there as well. Lan Wangji had continued on the path of music, mastering a number of instruments by the time he graduated high school. His instrumental covers of popular songs using traditional Chinese instruments gained popularity, and his original compositions launched him into stardom. 

All of that feels like a distant dream, now. He strums a chord, letting it ring out into the silence. The notes are sound, the pitch correct. But to Lan Wangji’s ears, it sounds like white noise.

He hasn’t been able to write a song in thirteen months.

It’s not that big of a deal. Except, as the well-known Hanguang-jun, the musical genius everyone was convinced he was, this is the longest he has gone without producing new music. He could write a song, something simple, using a familiar scale that can blend into the background music for any period drama. But Lan Wangji was raised on honesty, and that kind of mindless song does not feel honest.

The others at the agency had noticed his lack of productivity. The louder ones, the ones more prone to gossip, have been saying that he’s hit the bottom of his well. Brother tells him not to listen, that these kinds of lows happen to all creators. It will pass. Lan Wangji wants to believe him, but it’s terrifying. This kind of blankness, this void. What is he, if he is not composing music?

Then, the Incident happened. So Lan Wangji takes it as the excuse he needed to escape the city, to hide himself away in shame. He plucks at the strings of the qin again, listening as the dissonance echoes through the room.

“Wow, pretty!” someone says to his left.

Lan Wangji startles. He looks over to find A-Yuan perched on one of the rocking chairs, peering at the guqin with wide-eyed curiosity. “How did you get in?”

A-Yuan grins at him. He is missing one of his front teeth. “The door, silly!”

Lan Wangji glances over his shoulder at the door. “You have the key?”

“Key? What key? No one locks the door here, Rich-gege!”

“Rich-gege?”

A-Yuan nods. Matter-of-factly, he explains, “You are pretty and shiny and Wei -gege says pretty and shiny people are rich. Wei-gege is not rich, he is Poor-gege.

“I see.”

“But what is that?” A-Yuan hops off the chair to come stand next to the table. He keeps his hands to his sides, but Lan Wangji can tell how much he wants to touch.

“It’s called guqin,” he answers. “A traditional instrument.”

“Is it really old? Will it break if I touch it?”

“No.”

“Can I touch it?”

Lan Wangji shifts over, tugging another stool closer. A-Yuan hops on. Guiding the boy’s little hands over the strings, Lan Wangji strums lightly as an example. He lets go and gestures for A-Yuan to copy the movement. A frown crosses the boy’s face as he stares down at his hands poised above the strings, and then the strings itself. Carefully, A-Yuan touches down on the strings, and brushes them with his thumbs. A soft twang follows. His face lights up.

“I did it! I did it? I played music?”

Lan Wangji nods. The boy’s excitement is extremely endearing. It reminds Lan Wangji of his own fascination and joy at discovering the instrument for the first time. 

“Play a song!” A-Yuan demands. He sits back on the stool, looking at Lan Wangji expectantly.

“What song would you like to hear?”

“Any!”

Obligingly, Lan Wangji plays a song. He plays through the main melody once, following the coda and ending gracefully. A-Yuan claps with loud enthusiasm. Lan Wangji presses his palm against the strings, stopping the vibrations. 

“Rich-gege,” A-Yuan says, tilting his body side to side like an oversized metronome. “How come you’re so good?”

“Hm,” Lan Wangji says. “Lots of practice.”

“Yeah, but how much is a lot? Wei-gege says I have to practice a lot, too, but it’s boring. I can play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star but I still make mistakes.”

“Do you play an instrument?”

A-Yuan nods. “Wei-gege is teaching me the flute! Our class is supposed to learn it next year but I’m early!”

“That’s good,” Lan Wangji says. “You can play a song already.”

“I can! But I’m not good like you. What did you play? It sounded so pretty.”

“I wrote it.”

“You can write songs?!”

“Mn. You can, too.”

A-Yuan presses his palms against his cheeks, eyes wide. “That’s so cool, Rich-gege! How do you write songs! Can you teach me?”

Lan Wangji hesitates. He’s never taught anyone before. Not even as a tutor. He can’t imagine he’d be very good, with his silences that are always misinterpreted. He has also rarely interacted with children before. Even now, he is treating A-Yuan like a pocket-sized adult. The boy hasn’t run away screaming yet so Lan Wangji assumes he is doing alright.

He goes with honesty. “I do not think I will make a good teacher.”

A-Yuan frowns. “Why? You can play and you can write songs. What else do you need to be a good teacher?”

“Creativity is not something one can teach to another.”

“Is it something you are born with?”

Lan Wangji considers this. “I suppose so. Everyone has the ability to create.”

“So I can create?”

“Yes.”

A-Yuan tilts his head. “Then why doesn’t everyone create?”

“Some people do,” Lan Wangji says. “I guess some people are afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“Of their creations not being accepted.”

A-Yuan’s face scrunches up. “What is being accepted? Who is being accepted?”

That really is a good question. Lan Wangji looks back at the qin. “Everyone can create,” he says slowly, “but not everyone’s creations are accepted by others. That is why we practice. In order to be considered good, we have to put effort into it, not just rely on talent.”

“But who gets to say if something is good or not?”

Lan Wangji pauses. He knows, rationally, the child is asking straightforward questions because that is what children do. A-Yuan has grown up as one of the few children in this village, clearly spoiled by all the adults, possessing a carefree boldness that is foreign to Lan Wangji. From the boy’s perspective, the very idea that other people can determine one’s worth makes no sense. But Lan Wangji has been brought up in a gated mansion with private tutors and carefully cultivated fame. Living up to people’s expectations is all he knows.

Before Lan Wangji can think of a reply, someone passes by the window, calling A-Yuan’s name. The boy bounces up and out the door, yelling, “Granny!” He gives Lan Wangji a quick wave goodbye before disappearing around the corner. 

Lan Wangji is left staring at the strings in front of him, that last question echoing through his head.

 

 

 

 

Wei Ying clatters about in the kitchen, as loudly as he does anything. Lan Wangji was told to sit down and wait for the food. It would not be so difficult if he did not hear so many bangs and muffled swears in between random bursts of song. He notices that Wei Ying’s choice of discography includes everything from the pop charts of today to oldies that Uncle likes to play on his antique record player.

The house starts to fill with the aroma of cooked rice and something fatty. Lan Wangji leans back as Wei Ying carries a large tray to the table. He sets it down with a flourish. Two bowls of rice sit to one side, with a large plate of something vibrantly red and saucy, another smaller plate of steamed cabbages and carrots. 

“Ta-da!” Wei Ying says. He throws himself into the stool across the table. “Wen Qing said you were vegetarian so instead of ground pork, I used tofu for the eggplant stir-fry.”

“Ah,” Lan Wangji says. He stares at the plate. “Why is it so red?”

“Secret ingredient. Here, dig in, dig in!”

He lets Wei Ying plop two big spoonfuls of the suspiciously red stir-fry onto his rice. Politely, he tries a bite. The eggplants are cooked well, tender enough to melt on his tongue, and the garlic sauce sweetens the tofu. He’s barely swallowed when the spice sets in. It’s like someone shot a flamethrower right down his throat. He looks up at Wei Ying, who is beaming at him expectantly. He does not look unlike A-Yuan did that afternoon.

“What do you think? Good, right? See? I’m perfectly good at cooking! Wen Ning is just jealous he’s not as good as I am.”

“Hm,” Lan Wangji manages. He grabs as much cabbage as he is able, quickly swallowing them in an attempt to save his mouth from catching fire. Thankfully, the dish is not doused with chili oil and spice like the stir-fry. However, it still has a bit of a kick from the fermented bean curd that was mixed in for flavour.

Wei Ying is still talking, not noticing Lan Wangji struggling with the spiciness of his food. He’s spooning heaps of the red stuff into his mouth like it is water. Lan Wangji realizes he is staring and quickly averts his eyes. He tries to surreptitiously wipe at his runny nose.

“You know, you oughta come with us next time,” Wei Ying tells him. “You don’t even have to do any of the hard work. Show your face a little, give the aunties something nice to look at, you know? They’re getting tired of my rugged good looks already, they could use some princely profile like yours to stare at.”

Lan Wangji focuses on eating. The heat in his face is clearly because of the spice.

“You don’t talk much, do you?” Wei Ying squints at him from across the table. “This morning, too. I thought you were just half-asleep, but Wen Ning told me he found you sitting outside meditating or something. How early did you wake up?”

When Lan Wangji does not answer, Wei Ying pouts. He really should look ridiculous with that expression, but somehow the man makes it work. “Lan Zhan! Don’t ignore me! We’re going to be roommates for the indefinite future, you know. We’ll have to learn to get along. Or else Wen Qing will think I’m bullying you! She’s scary when she’s mad. Are you listening? Are you ignoring me? Lan Zhan! Lan Zhan—Lan-gege? Zhan-ge?

Unable to stand the teasin, Lan Wangji says, “One shouldn’t speak while eating.” He winces internally as soon as the words leave his mouth. A rule from his childhood he had carried into adulthood, but right now it was his irritation speaking. He did not want to offend his host. The media has always remarked on Hanguang-jun’s endless patience but the truth is that Lan Wangji is just better at hiding his temper than most people. Somehow, this man is reducing all of Lan Wangji’s well-trained defenses to paper screens, easily poked through and pushed over.

Wei Ying blinks at him. Then he bursts out laughing. He nearly upends his bowl, placing it down on the table at the last moment. Lan Wangji busies himself fishing tofu out of the chili-infested stir-fry. “You’re funny,” Wei Ying says. He’s grinning again. But it’s not mean—he’s genuinely amused. Lan Wangji has never elicited this kind of reaction before. 

For the next few minutes, they eat in silence, but it’s different from the silence of the meals he shared with Uncle and Brother. Not quite as comfortable... but not quite as distant. He feels Wei Ying growing restless in the silence eventually. Lan Wangji continues to eat even as Wei Ying opens his mouth again. 

“I can’t do it, man,” Wei Ying says. “Ask anybody, if I stay quiet for longer than five minutes, you know something is wrong with me.”

Lan Wangji sighs into his bowl. He continues to carefully pick his way through his dinner. Wei Ying continues to talk, somehow managing to stuff his face at the same time. The other man doesn’t seem to expect him to talk back. Lan Wangji eats quietly, listening to Wei Ying talk about his day. It’s strange, but Lan Wangji finds himself paying attention instead of tuning him out.

“You liked my cooking, right?” Wei Ying asks as they clear the dishes. 

Lan Wangji nods politely, a reflex. He regrets it instantly at Wei Ying’s next words.

“Great! I’ll cook more for you tomorrow!”

He might have to invest in a water cooler. A very large one.

 

 

 

 

diy cloth dying & granny-made clothing!!

8783 views • May 26th

Yiling Laozu

i’ve been told i’m too rough for delicate work like this
so enjoy my friend a-ning’s pretty hands!
without granny we would be wearing rice sacks and
eating boiled potatoes every day...
remember to like and subscribe!!

104 comments SORT BY

pplmountainpplsea dang that’s a pretty colour!! can i custom order from granny??

2rainy4u This makes me want to ask my gran to teach me to sew again

Momo Chan reminds me i haven’t called my grandparents in a long time..

Ponta200 Cool Video, What song is that?

heiheiheh dude ur entire village is too op

 

 

Chapter Text

 

He’s barely started playing when A-Yuan bursts through the door.

“Rich-gege! ” he shouts. “Come and play!”

Lan Wangji takes his hands off the guqin and turns to face the child. This is not an unusual occurrence. In fact, this has happened almost every day for the past week since he’s been here. Since most of the adults are out working during the day, A-Yuan is left to his own devices. Apparently, this means Lan Wangji receives daily visits from the child.

Today, however. A-Yuan brought friends.

Lan Wangji blinks at the army of children standing in front of him. Okay, maybe it’s not an army, just a handful, but it’s more than one A-Yuan and that is already way too many for Lan Wangji to handle. “Hello,” he says politely.

“Rich-gege,” A-Yuan says. He lifts a plastic bucket over his head and does a little wiggle with it. “Come with us! We’re going fishing today!”

“I don’t know how,” Lan Wangji says.

“That’s okay! We don’t know either!”

“Then how are you going to fish?”

One of the other kids, a boy who is somehow more energetic than A-Yuan that has been introduced to Lan Wangji as Jingyi, puts his hands on his hips. “Wei-gege says he’ll teach us the best way to catch fish!”

Lan Wangji tries to picture Wei Ying sitting completely still, waiting for the fish to bite. He can’t see it. The man is simply not made to sit still. 

A-Yuan reaches out to tug at Lan Wangji’s sleeve. “Rich-gege, you’ll come with us, won’t you? Qing-jiejie says that it’s important to take breaks. You’ve been working so hard so you should take a lot of breaks!”

“Break! Break!” the children chant at him.

Lan Wangji looks at the instrument on the table and the scratched-out scores spread out around it. He looks back at A-Yuan’s big round eyes, at the other kids waving their sticks (dangerous) and buckets (???). He sighs.

“Alright,” he says. “Do I need a bucket as well?”

“We can share!”

He lets himself be dragged out the door.

 

 

 

The children lead him through the village. The uncles and aunties in the fields wave as they pass by, shouting greetings with a degree of warmth that still takes Lan Wangji by surprise. Jingyi is bouncing in the front, yelling something about fighting the Supreme Bad Guy Evil Overlord who might or might not look like a huge broccoli. The other kids screech back at him, running forwards and doubling back to shove at each other. 

A-Yuan skips along next to Lan Wangji. He’s tapping his bucket in a jaunty rhythm, humming slightly here and there.

“Do you... go fishing often?” Lan Wangji asks.

A-Yuan thinks about it, and then shrugs. “We don’t really get to eat meat,” he says. “Qing-jiejie says it’s too much money. Uncle Six has chickens so we have eggs. When Wei-gege came, he said he would catch fish for us! So he did. And now we eat fish sometimes!”

“I see.”

“Do you like fish?”

“I do not eat meat.”

“Oh!” A-Yuan slaps his bucket, grinning toothily up at him. “You’re a vegetable librarian!”

“A vegetarian,” Lan Wangji corrects, but A-Yuan’s attention is caught by Jingyi a little ways ahead. The boy is waving his arms, hollering back at them. Lan Wangji follows as A-Yuan scurries towards his friend.

The kids are circled around a giant slug. The slug pays them no mind, slowly making its way across the path alongside the grass, leaving a trail of slime behind. There is a bit of pushing and nudging as the kids dare each other to touch the thing. 

“It’s so big!”

Lan Wangji edges back. He is not a fan of bugs or... gastropods. He deals with cockroaches and spiders because he has to, but he’s not above pretending he doesn’t see the critters so his brother would deal with them. 

There’s a scuffle, and then A-Yuan emerges with a triumphant shout. The other children are clapping. “Ta-da!” A-Yuan yells. “It’s so slimy!”

“I wanna touch!”

“No, me next!”

“Ew!”

“It’s wiggling!”

Lan Wangji takes another step back, but unfortunately, it’s too late. As if on cue, they all turn their heads to peer at him. He swears he can see their little eyes glinting sadistically. 

“Rich-gege, here! You can hold it!”

“No, thank you—”

A-Yuan trips on a rock. He goes down, but his fingers loosen around the slug. Lan Wangji has a moment of watching it fly up in an arc in slow motion, its stubby body wobbling as it is suspended in midair. Then time speeds up again and there’s a wet little splat! Lan Wangji stands there, frozen, as the slug slides down his face and drops onto his shoulder. The children stare at him. He stares back.

“A-Yuan!” Jingyi screams. “Are you dead?”

“Ow!” A-Yuan howls.

“You killed the slug!” a girl shrieks.

“I think you broke him,” another boy says.

Robotically, trying to ignore the feeling of slime on his skin, Lan Wangji pinches the slug between his thumb and third finger and gently lowers it to the ground. The children are still bouncing around him. He’s only aware of the squishy feeling lingering on his fingertips, the sticky feeling of the slime on his skin.

A-Yuan has climbed back onto his feet, rubbing at his forehead. The other children are crouched around the slug again. Lan Wangji braces himself. He uses his sleeve to wipe away the slime. He’s resigned to burning this shirt when the day is over.

“Ow,” A-Yuan says. 

Lan Wangji looks down at the boy. “Are you alright?”

“I think so. Did I kill it?”

“No.”

“Oh, that’s good.” A-Yuan looks up at him. “Sorry.”

Lan Wangji shakes his head. “Be careful when you’re running.”

Only when the slug finally uncurls from where Lan Wangji had placed it on the ground do the children stand up to leave. It seems the excitement of seeing the slug has died down. Lan Wangji continues to wipe at his face discreetly. 

Eventually, they cross through trees on that grassy path. Not far beyond the trees, the path opens up to a river, stones and rocks lining the water until it bends out of sight. The other side of the river is bordered with trees and an uphill incline, the rocky terrain of the mountain. It’s quiet here, only the sound of rushing water and birds flitting about in the trees.

Wei Ying and Wen Ning are standing in the river, pants rolled up to their knees. They each have a bucket tied to their backs. Wen Ning is peering into the water while Wei Ying has his head down fiddling with something in his hands.

“Wei-gege! Ning-gege!

They look up as the children scamper across the rocks. Wen Ning waves, calling out for them to be careful. Wei Ying wades over to where the children have lined up their buckets and little sticks. 

“A-Yuan and minions!” he says, grinning. “Have you come to help catch fish?”

“We’re not minions!”

“We brought Rich-gege, ” A-Yuan reports.

Wei Ying raises his eyebrows as he looks up at Lan Wangji. “Yeah? Rich -gege going to help us catch dinner, then?”

Lan Wangji feels overdressed in his pants and buttoned shirt. He meets Wei Ying’s gaze and says, “I do not have a bucket.”

“A-Yuan will share!”

“Jingyi, too!”

“Me, too!”

“Me!”

Aiyah, ” Wei Ying says, clapping his hands. “We’ll all share, okay? Now, you guys know the drill. Pair up and keep your eyes on your buddy at all times. Listen and do exactly what Wen Ning and I say when we tell you to, okay? Do not go past the big rock and do not push.”

“Yes, Wei-gege ,” the children chorus.

“Good. Go help Wen Ning over there, show him how fast your reflexes are!” Wei Ying watches the children make their way down the river, tossing their shoes off in a messy pile as they splash into the water. The current is slow where Wen Ning is standing, mostly blocked off by boulders. Lan Wangji has time to see Jingyi scoop up water in his bucket and splash it at his friends before Wei Ying turns back to him. “You, young master, come with me.”

Lan Wangji hesitates, but he takes off his shoes and socks and places them a good distance away from the water’s edge. He rolls up his pants, too, but Wei Ying has already waded into the middle of the river. The water goes up near his waist, but the man pays no attention. He gestures for Lan Wangji to follow. 

The water is cold, though not unbearably so. Lan Wangji takes slow, careful steps until he is standing next to Wei Ying. The man holds out the bucket. Lan Wangji takes it. He watches curiously as Wei Ying turns in the water, sharp eyes searching for flashes of movement beneath the current. The sound of the children shrieking with laughter and splashing each other with water floats over to them, but somehow, it feels quiet in their section of the river.

“I thought fishing involved a rod,” Lan Wangji says.

Wei Ying tilts a smirk at him, eyes still on the water. “Technically there’s quite a few rods in the water right now,” he says suggestively. When Lan Wangji sends him a flat look, the man bursts out laughing. “Just joking! Here, I’ll tell you.” Wei Ying faces him, pulling something from his waist. It is a claw-like instrument made of polished wood and bamboo, the ends carved into sharp points. It is just long enough to be held in one hand.

“A fishing spear.”

“Yes! Auntie Mei’s brother married into one of the tribes on the other side of the mountain, see. He and his family come down to visit sometimes, and he showed me how to make this, which made the whole process a lot easier, let me tell you. Before this handy little thing, I was catching fish with my bare hands! Really impressive, I’ll have you know. But not really effective.”

Lan Wangji tries to imagine Wei Ying jumping around in the river, diving after fish with his hands. Unlike before, he can picture this scene all too easily.

A flash of silver underneath the water catches their eye. Wei Ying shifts his grip on the spear, eyes fixed on the fish. He leans forwards. Lan Wangji holds his breath in anticipation. 

Without warning, Wei Ying lunges forwards and stabs with unerring accuracy. He pulls back, a fish flopping on the spear. Lan Wangji holds out the bucket. The fish is dropped in. He stares down at it squirming within the confines of the bucket for a moment. Then he looks up at Wei Ying.

The man grins at him. “So? What do you think?”

“It’s functional.”

“Aw, come on.” Wei Ying holds out the spear to him. “Do you want to try?”

“No, thank you.”

For the next hour or so, Lan Wangji watches Wei Ying stab fish. He holds the bucket of wildly flopping fish and doesn’t complain when river water stains his shirt. It’s slow going, but the children are having fun in the water, and there’s something really refreshing about being in the open like this. The cool temperature of the water makes the sun’s heat tolerable. Wei Ying’s shirt is wet and he keeps shoving his bangs out of the way, but his hands are wet, too, so he ends up with water on his face. He looks dashing and very distracting.

Lan Wangji holds out the bucket again as Wei Ying dumps another fish into it. “Do you always do this on your own?”

“What, the fishing?” 

“Mn.” Lan Wangji does not count Wen Ning, whose presence is more like a glorified water park at this point. One of the kids is hanging off his back while the others are playing some kind of tag game in the water.

“Mostly, yeah. I used to live on a pier. Used to go fishing every week, swimming every other day. There’s a lake some thirty-something li from here but it’s too far to bring the kids.”

“They like it here.”

“They don’t know any different,” Wei Ying shrugs. “Do you swim?”

“No.”

“No, you don’t like to swim or no, you can’t swim?”

“The latter.”

Wei Ying raises his eyebrows. “Really! Well, then,” he says, smiling, “before you go back to your fancy city apartment, we’ll have to teach you how to swim.”

Lan Wangji is too busy staring at Wei Ying’s smile to answer. It’s ridiculous how attractive he finds this man. He has known of his preference for men since he was a teenager. His brother knows, and it is not a secret that Lan Wangji makes much of an effort to keep, but it is also not a fact that he wears on his sleeve. Sometimes, his eyes linger on certain faces that pass by, admiring the sharpness of a jawline, the paleness of a bare throat, the broadness of a back. He might have acknowledged the physical beauty of his peers in the entertainment industry, albeit quietly, but never before has someone affected him this way. There is something about the animated expressions that cross Wei Ying’s face like ripples in the water, the gracefulness of his movements even as he leaves his things scattered everywhere. Something about this man makes him feel so alive, so radiant the sun can barely compare.

“—an? Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying is saying. “Is there fish blood on my face again?”

Hoping his poker face is enough to hide his embarrassment, Lan Wangji turns to head back onto the rocky riverbank. He’s so intent on ignoring Wei Ying’s calling after him that he does not notice the little blurs coming headfirst at him until it is too late. He twists to avoid the collision, but Jingyi does not. Someone screeches, something slams into his legs, and Lan Wangji’s foot slips on a stone. He goes down. 

Lan Wangji does not see the resulting splash when his body falls into the water, but the impact leaves him stunned for a long second. His entire body is submerged, his limbs flailing. The river’s not deep, and they’re at the shallow banks, but for a moment he’s lost his sense of up and down. 

Then, strong arms are hauling him out of the water. Lan Wangji coughs. He shakes his hair out of the way and sees the children staring at him with big worried eyes. Wen Ning is wading across the water towards them. And, with arms still wrapped around him, is Wei Ying.

Lan Wangji finds his footing and pulls away. Wei Ying lets go easily. “You good?” Wei Ying asks, eyeing him up and down.

Lan Wangji nods. He turns to where Jingyi is standing frozen, eyes bugging out and lips starting to quiver. “Are you alright?” 

“I’m sorry!” the child wails. “I didn’t mean to!”

“It’s alright,” Lan Wangji says. He casts a glance over his shoulder, at a loss what to do. Children are terrifying creatures. Crying children? Absolute monsters. “I am not hurt.”

Wei Ying strides forwards and picks Jingyi up. He swings the child through the air until the boy is giggling. “What did I say about running in the river, you brat?”

“Don’t run in the river,” A-Yuan pipes up solemnly from the river bank. He’s holding onto his bucket as he watches them approach. 

“I’m sorry,” Jingyi says again.

“Be more careful in the future,” Lan Wangji tells him. He makes his way to his shoes, dripping wet. Wei Ying is ordering the children to pick up the buckets of fish and their things. Lan Wangji looks down at himself in dismay. His pants are ruined, and his shirt is soaked. His hair sticks uncomfortably against his face. 

He looks over at the others. Wen Ning is staggering under the weight of the children as they cling to him like a human playground. Wei Ying has his hands on his hips and a smile on his face. As Lan Wangji watches, Wei Ying turns and catches his eye. The grin widens.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying calls. “You’re definitely the most handsome fish I’ve ever caught!”

Lan Wangji sighs. “Ridiculous,” he mutters, but Wei Ying just laughs. If there is heat on Lan Wangji’s cheeks, he blames the afternoon sun.

 

 

 

 

fishing montage - shounen anime asmr

9013 views • June 2nd

Yiling Laozu

yes the truth comes out i am the next boruto
next video i’ll teach y’all how best to grill ‘em!!
pls like and subscribe and tip if you’d like!

176 comments SORT BY

PrinceofFishing IDK what I expected but it wasn’t this. Liked though

lianhua3 Freshly grilled fish has the best flavour!

heiheiheh this does play like a training montage lmao

pplmountainpplsea he’s going to become the next hokage of the fishing tourney

Fan Fan ur reflexes are so fast, wow~ get u a man who can Fish Like This

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Lan Wangji wakes up with a pounding headache and a sore throat. He sneezes, the loud noise echoing through the room. The blankets were warm enough when he went to bed last night but now he is shivering helplessly under them. 

Oh no, he thinks. I am sick.

He pushes himself to sit up, but finds that he cannot move further. His body feels weak and the relentless shivering makes him feel even more tired. He coughs. It’s painful. He thinks maybe he should find some water, make some soup. He has not been sick since he was very young. A few migraines here and there, the occasional allergy-induced sniffles. This is much worse. 

Lan Wangji curls back up under the blankets, tucking his limbs close to his middle. Maybe he can sleep it off.

 

 

 

He startles awake to a knock on his door. 

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying says, voice muffled by the wood. “Are you in there? It’s noon and no one has seen you yet. Just wanted to confirm you’re still alive.”

Lan Wangji certainly feels like death warmed over. He claws himself out of his cocoon of sweaty blankets. He opens his mouth to answer, but all that comes out is a nasty cough.

A pause. Then, hesitantly, Wei Ying asks, “Can I come in?”

Miserably, Lan Wangji says, “Go ahead.”

The door swings open and Wei Ying steps through. He spots Lan Wangji huddled on the bed immediately. He winces sympathetically. He takes a step closer, but Lan Wangji shakes his head.

“Don’t want to make you sick,” Lan Wangji explains hoarsely.

Wei Ying waves a hand. “Don’t worry, I have a strong immune system! And I’m pretty sure what you have isn’t contagious. This is because you fell in the river yesterday, isn’t it? Oh no, we can’t tell Jingyi, the kid’ll be devastated.”

Lan Wangji presses a hand to his eyes. His headache is worse, somehow.

“Ah,” Wei Ying says. “I’ll get you some water, and then I’ll get Wen Qing to take a look at you, okay?”

He wants to tell Wei Ying not to bother, that he doesn’t want to be a bother, but Lan Wangji’s sense of self-perseverance understands the rationality of Wei Ying’s suggestion. Wen Qing is medically trained, after all. And this way Lan Wangji can close his eyes for another few minutes. 

Being sick is the worst.

 

 

 

The next time he wakes up, Wen Qing is leaning over him. He blinks at her slowly while she gives the thermometer in her hands an unimpressed look.

“You have a fever,” she tells him. “It’s not too high, but I’m going to have someone watch over you just in case. Granny’s making some zhou right now, Wen Ning will bring it over in a bit.”

Lan Wangji tries to respond, but all he manages is a cough. Wen Qing presses him back down onto the mattress. She changes the cold towel on his forehead.

“Rest,” she commands. “We’ll wake you later.”

So he rests.

 

 

 

For as long as Lan Wangji can remember, his mother was sick.

He and his brother were allowed to visit her once a month, rarely more than that, unless there was a special occasion. Their father, they saw even less. He was never told what sickness she had. Whenever he turned around for one last look at her as they were made to leave, the image imprinted in his memory is of a beautiful woman, once tall and proud, lay pale and tired in that hospital bed, staring blankly out the window as if waiting for the inevitable. He thought she’d looked incredibly lonely.

When they were allowed to visit, they brought their schoolwork along with them. Their mother always asked them to put away the textbooks and sit with her instead. She’d ask them about their day, their favourite foods, something they were curious about that they would go home to research on their own outside of lessons. In all Lan Wangji’s memories, she was the only one that encouraged them to ask questions instead of recite rules. 

She laughed often. Even now, while her face was sometimes fuzzy in Lan Wangji’s mind, he can recall her laughter with clarity. It wasn’t a pretty laugh, not elegant by any means. It was loud, even if she sometimes broke into coughs, and it was infectious. Lan Wangji remembers his brother’s smile when she laughed, almost like a chain reaction.

Some days she looked more tired than the others. On those days, Lan Wangji would let his brother talk while he laid his head in her lap so she could stroke his hair. He couldn’t remember what that felt like, but it must have been nice, because he remembers falling asleep more often than not.

On good days, they would sing together. Mother’s voice is low, soothing, like warm covers when it became cold at night. He didn’t know if she saw his musical talent and sought to cultivate it, too. What he does know is that when he grows frustrated with his lack of progress in mastering a new instrument or learning a new song, those memories were what he returns to. Sitting by his mother’s side, holding hands with his brother and her, singing softly in that hospital room.

 

 

 

“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan.”

Lan Wangji blinks his eyes open with effort. Wei Ying is sitting beside him. It’s bright through the window, maybe afternoon. His headache has not receded, but it is not worse. He coughs weakly.

“Come on, sit up.” 

Wei Ying helps him sit against the headboard, hands lingering to make sure he doesn’t list to the side. A mug is pressed into his hands. Lan Wangji drinks, eyes closing as the cool water slides down his throat. He keeps drinking until the mug is empty.

“Okay?” Wei Ying says, taking the mug back.

“Thank you,” Lan Wangji whispers.

“It’s fine. Are you hungry? You gotta be, you haven’t eaten anything all day. Here, Granny’s zhou is the best. You’ll be up and about in no time.”

Lan Wangji watches as Wei Ying uncovers the tray placed on the wooden chest by the door. There’s a small pot and a plate of salted egg, softened peanuts, and seaweed paste. Wei Ying carefully doles out a nice portion of each condiment and side dish over the zhou before carrying it over to the bed. Lan Wangji thanks him with a nod.

He eats a few bites while Wei Ying chatters away about the cucumber plants they have strung up on a trellis by one of the uncle’s houses. Lan Wangji does not know half the terms falling out of the man’s mouth, but his relentless chatter has become a familiar background noise by now. It’s almost soothing, in his current miserable state. Lan Wangji takes slow, even bites, and listens.

When the bowl is empty, Lan Wangji finds a pause where Wei Ying takes a breath. “You don’t need to watch me,” he says. “I will be fine.”

Aiyah, ” Wei Ying says, shaking his head. “Wen Qing specifically said I was to make sure you stay put and rest. Even if I have to sit on you. I might actually have to sit on you if you do move because I’m pretty sure you can lift me single-handedly.”

Lan Wangji blinks at him tiredly.

“What I mean is,” Wei Ying says quickly, “don’t worry about it. Just focus on getting better, okay? Everyone’s already asking where the handsome young man is. And for once they are not talking about me.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“I’m sure you can. But right now, you don’t have to, you know?” Wei Ying pats his hand. “Here in Wen Village we take care of one another. It’s not about duty or burden or whatever miserable thing you’re thinking of. So let me take care of you, okay?”

Lan Wangji stares at him. Wei Ying is smiling, as bright as always, the expression natural on his face, as if it belongs there, as if he was born smiling. His words ring through Lan Wangji’s mind. He hasn’t had anyone take care of him like this in a long time. 

“Besides, this way I also get to work on my own projects. I’m very in demand, you know, it’s rare I get time to focus on my own stuff!” He doesn’t seem to be talking about his videos. Before Lan Wangji can ask, Wei Ying picks up the empty bowl and stands. “I’ll get you some soup. Then you can sleep some more, okay?”

“... Mn.”

 

 

 

Lan Wangji was six when his mother died.

He dressed himself primly and tied his shoes properly and waited at the front door every Saturday of the month for half a year before he finally understood that no one would take him to the hospital anymore. There was no one there to visit anymore.

His brother attempted to comfort him by smuggling him treats. Uncle, for all his seriousness and responsible manner, was never meant to be a father. He brought the two of them up through strict rules and a straightforward understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Emoting out loud and offering comfort, unfortunately, was not part of that. Still, Lan Wangji remembers his uncle looking the other way when Lan Wangji secluded himself in his room for weeks on end, when Lan Wangji played music long into the night despite the previously established quiet hours in their house. It is not much, but Lan Wangji understands it is what the man could offer. (Uncle has never mourned their mother. Lan Wangji knows this, just as he knows never to ask which faraway country his father has wandered off to now. Uncle is not a caring man, but he cares about Lan Wangji and his brother. This, Lan Wangji has never doubted.)

Lan Wangji grew up learning how to set aside his emotions to parse through on his own time, in the safety and privacy of his own room. He does not know how to smile disarmingly like his brother. He knows what people say about him behind his back: beautiful but unapproachable. Talented, but freezing cold. A jade statue to be admired but never to touch.

Lan Wangji does not particularly care what others think of him. He plays his music and plays it well, he makes sure he does not lose face for his family. He works hard and returns to the quiet of his apartment on his own. A routine. He keeps to the mundanity of it, and it is fine. He is fine. He has always been fine.

(He goes to bed at nine without fail every night. But insomnia does not care for habit. On those nights, Lan Wangji stares at the blankness of his ceiling and hears his mother’s voice over the ticking of the clock. A-Zhan, she says. Promise me. Promise me you’ll be happy. )

 

 

 

Loud whispering wakes him this time. Lan Wangji keeps his eyes closed, slowly pulling himself away from the fever-induced sleep. His head still hurts, but the pounding is no longer there.

“When will Rich-gege wake up?”

“Shh, he’s resting. Remember when you were sick last time? You were lazy the entire day away, too, A-Yuan.”

“I wasn’t lazy! I was tired!”

“Exactly. Being sick makes you tired, so you have to wait for him to sleep it off.” A pause, followed by a child’s giggle. “Why is he Rich-gege , anyway?”

“Because he dresses and talks all fancy! The real deal from the city!”

“I’m from the city, too, A-Yuan!”

“But you are not rich. You’re Poor-gege.

A dramatic gasp. “I hide you from Qing-jiejie when you make a mess and this is how you repay me?”

There’s a scuffle, more giggling, and then something clambers onto the mattress. Lan Wangji opens his eyes, moving back to accommodate the small body wiggling over his comforter. A-Yuan peeks up at him. When he spots Lan Wangji staring back, the boy’s face lights up.

“Rich-gege! ” he says. Lan Wangji tries to hold back a wince at the volume. “You’re alive!”

“I am,” Lan Wangji confirms.

“A-Yuan,” Wei Ying says, and Lan Wangji turns to see him watching them in amusement. “Remember what I just said?”

A-Yuan immediately looks guilty. He scoots backwards so he’s sitting on the corner of the bed, off Lan Wangji’s body. “Sorry, gege, ” he mumbles.

“It is fine.”

“Stop babying him, Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying pats A-Yuan on the head. “Didn’t you have something to tell him? Something so important you refused to let go of my legs unless I let you in?”

A-Yuan straightens. He clambers off the bed and runs out of the room, and then comes running back in. He climbs back onto the bed. Then he presents Lan Wangji with a folded paper square.

“Ah,” Lan Wangji says. “Thank you.”

“It’s a boat!” A-Yuan takes the paper back and unfolds it slightly, bending the flaps until it can stand on its own. And yes, from this angle, it is a paper boat. Someone had coloured the sides with crayon. “I made it with Jingyi! He says sorry for pushing you into the water and making you sick. He wanted to come, too, but his mama said he had chores.”

“I see.”

“Do you like it?”

Lan Wangji holds the paper boat delicately. “Yes,” he says. “Very much. Thank you.”

A-Yuan beams at him. When Lan Wangji glances to his right, he sees Wei Ying smiling at him, too. Lan Wangji thinks this is unfair. It is like two minor stars glowing directly in his face. He busies himself with placing the paper boat on the bedside table.

“Alright,” Wei Ying says. He picks A-Yuan up and slings him over a shoulder, making the boy shriek with laughter. “We’re going to let Rich -gege rest now! Let’s get you back before Qing-jiejie puts you in time out again!”

“Bye, Rich-gege!”

“Goodbye, A-Yuan.”

 

 

 

He cannot remember when he began to compose songs of his own. Maybe some time during those days spent in that small hospital room, humming along with his mother’s hand in his hair. But he began writing down his songs and composing in earnest some time during those weeks of self-seclusion. None of them were very good, but eventually, he ended up where he is now.

When he was fifteen, Lan Wangji participated in a youth camp for the traditional arts. His uncle thought it would be a good opportunity for him to expand his skills. His brother thought it would be a good opportunity to make friends his age. Lan Wangji went with great hopes for the former and less so for the latter.

For the first week, it was quiet. Lan Wangji kept to himself and learned to play the yueqin. If he was not at the lessons, then he was in the library, brushing up on theory and ancient classics. He was used to being on his own.

Then, he wasn’t.

A boy had stumbled into the library one day—quite literally stumbled, he fell in through the window—and never really left. Lan Wangji had tried ignoring him, in hopes that once his curiosity was sated, the boy would be bored enough to leave him alone. That did not go according to plan. Instead, the boy had inched closer, and closer, until he was interrupting Lan Wangji’s research on music theory with skillful watercolour paintings of the landscape, of bunnies, and on one memorable occasion, of Lan Wangji himself. Worst of all was the dirty poems presented in flawless calligraphy. The boy had wormed his way into permanently occupying Lan Wangji’s mind. 

And then, Lan Wangji found himself composing a song. 

He wrote it and scrapped it and rewrote it. He hummed it under his breath when he was alone in his assigned dorm room. It was never meant to see the light of day. And it never would have, if it wasn’t for a sudden summer storm causing a power outage, leaving him trapped in the dark of the library basement with that boy. Lan Wangji sang it once out loud, and then never again.

The boy had asked him for the name of the song in the throes of a fever. But before Lan Wangji could work up the nerve to tell him, the boy had been expelled from the program for punching another student over a slight to his sister. When the camp ended, Lan Wangji went home alone. That song remained buried in Lan Wangji’s memories.

 

 

 

He’s woken to the sound of a dizi. It’s soft, muted, floating in through the half-open door. Lan Wangji takes a moment to blink at the ceiling. The fever is gone. His head is still foggy, but the ache is no longer there. 

The lilting melody reaches his ears again, and Lan Wangji listens idly. The flautist is skilled, the notes clear and flowing, as if the song is well-practiced and familiar. 

It is familiar. 

Lan Wangji sits up, listening in earnest. He knows this song. He knows those high-arching notes, the drifting melody that lingers in your mind as it tries to capture the shape of a soul. 

With effort, Lan Wangji pushes himself off the bed. His body still feels weak, but he feels much better than before. He lets his body orient itself. Impatiently, he makes his way out of the room and down the hall, searching for the source of the music. The other bedroom has its door open, revealing an empty room. The kitchen is also empty, a pot waiting on the stove. The living area is messy, a tray of unwashed dishes and some loose papers covered in a child’s crayon doodles spread over the table. The front door is propped open.

Lan Wangji steps through. At the end of the stone path, by the edge of the brick wall, under the tree where Lan Wangji meditates every morning, the man is sitting. He has his back against the tree trunk, facing away from Lan Wangji. The dizi is a single ink-stroke of dark bamboo, held up by strong, calloused hands. A bright red ribbon tangled within messy dark curls that dance in the evening breeze.

The chorus rises again, soft and steady. Lan Wangji takes another step forward. He knows this song—he wrote it. And only one other person has ever heard it.

“Wei Wuxian,” he says.

The flute peters off. A heartbeat passes. Then, Wei Ying turns around to meet Lan Wangji’s gaze. He smiles, smaller than his usual smiles and with a tinge of sheepishness.

“I haven’t heard that name in years,” Wei Ying says. “Are you sure you’re not a stalker? First you know I’m the Yiling Laozu, now you know my pen name. What kind of rich young master are you?”

Lan Wangji stands there, staring and frozen. Something sinks in his stomach, something heavy like disappointment, before he banishes the feeling away. He’s searched for this boy, this man, for years after the arts camp. In the industry, their circles rarely overlap. Lan Wangji had attended calligraphy exhibits in an attempt to meet Wei Wuxian again, but before he could, he had heard rumours of misconduct, and then the name and the man had vanished. Again.

But now. Wei Wuxian is right here, in front of him.

He doesn’t remember Lan Wangji.

“Not,” Lan Wangji says when the silence stretches too long and Wei Ying’s smile has started to fade into concern. He clears his throat. “Not a stalker,” Lan Wangji says. “I have... admired your works in the past. I did not know this was where you had disappeared to.”

“Ah,” Wei Ying says. He twirls the dizi, looking down the gravel road. “Not a lot of people know. Not their business to know. Thank you, though,” he adds, turning towards Lan Wangji again. 

“For?”

“For being a fan.” Wei Ying smiles, and this time it is wide and genuine.

Lan Wangji nods. He opens his mouth to say something more, but a sneeze interrupts him. They both pause, startled by the force of it. Then Wei Ying laughs, and Lan Wangji can feel himself relax at the sound. He lets the other man usher him back inside with the promise of reheated soup. If he glances at the dizi more than once throughout their late dinner, Wei Ying does not notice. Neither of them mention calligraphy again that night.

 

 

 

 

POV: lost in the forest but on purpose

10,377 views • June 7th

Yiling Laozu

flute played by yours truly, music sheet linked below
bonus points if you spot the rare bird in the video!!
remember to like and subscribe and tip <3

308 comments SORT BY

Fan Fan mr laozu are u trying to steal my heart u Know i’m weak for pretty birds

dongguacha its at 2:37 in case any one was wondering!!

pplmountainpplsea yp sir, teach me to play the flute like you do

BakedCake8 Who else is here because hgj linked it on his weibo

soupy hgj actually uses his weibo acc? lol

Lucy Yee He tweets about traditional arts, usually lesser-known artists. It’s nice to see artists supporting other artists!

heiheiheh dont wish u werent afraid of bugs so u could live Here

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Oh, wow,” Wei Ying says, looking at the food spread across the table. “You know your way around the kitchen, huh.”

Lan Wangji nods. “I live alone. Learning to cook was necessary.”

“Man, you’re a better person than I am. If I lived alone, I would probably just order takeout every day.”

“That would be costly,” Lan Wangji says.

“Yeah, you’re right. Thankfully, I never had to live alone. I do miss jiejie’s cooking, though. She’s absolutely phenomenal, let me tell you. Her cooking deserves Michelin stars! And probably would actually get them if she didn’t marry that idiot husband of hers.”

“You don’t like her husband?”

“No.” Wei Ying scowls. “He’s an arrogant, rich prick who thinks he can just wave his unlimited credit card to solve every problem in the world.”

“Yet she married him.”

Wei Ying stuffs a piece of youtiao in his mouth. “Well, yeah. That’s jiejie’s one flaw, having bad taste in men. But it’s okay, I guess, he’s apparently head-over-heels in love with her now. They have a kid and everything. Me and my brother made it clear to him that if he ever hurts her, he’ll regret it.”

“I see.”

“Mm-hmm. Hey, do you have any siblings? Usually I can tell but you’re so composed, Lan-gege.

Lan Wangji looks away, ignoring the heat at his ears. He busies himself with adding vinegar to his bowl of xiandoujiang. He stirs in the green onions and watches the soy milk curdle. “One older brother,” Lan Wangji says eventually.

“Oh, so you’re the youngest? The second child, huh...” Wei Ying’s mouth turns up in a smirk. Lan Wangji is dismayed to realize he finds it endearing rather than annoying. “Then should I be calling you Lan Er-gege ?”

Lan Wangji does not dignify that with a response. He picks up his spoon and starts eating. Over the two weeks of staying in the Wen Village, he’s slowly relaxed the rule of no talking while eating. He tries to eat as quickly as he can so he can respond to Wei Ying’s questions. The other man must have noticed because he happily chats away while they eat and only begins to volley questions back at Lan Wangji once his chopsticks are placed on his empty bowl. It’s surprisingly easy, talking to Wei Ying. Lan Wangji should not be surprised. The boy he remembers from back then was like this, too. He wonders what else has not changed.

Wei Ying’s bowl of savoury soy milk is startling red. He continues to add chili oil as he complains about his sister’s husband. He notices Lan Wangji’s stare and pauses. He holds the jar out. “Do you want some?”

Lan Wangji shakes his head. He does not lift the bowl to pour the soy milk down his throat because he was raised with spectacular manners. Instead, he takes unnecessarily large spoonfuls until he is done, safe from the dangers of Wei Ying’s spices. 

 

 

 

Lan Wangji takes long walks around the village during the afternoons. Most of the villagers are either taking a nap after a hard morning’s worth of work or are sitting in the shade chatting while packing up fruits or playing chess with their neighbours. They greet him when he passes by and he makes sure to wave back. He is slowly starting to remember which uncle and which auntie is which.

On the perimeters of the fields, up the slopes, the path is grassy and lined with trees. There are wildflowers Lan Wangji does not recognize. The orchard is just a little ways west of the place. Lan Wangji takes a left onto the well-trodden dirt path, following the fences. He’s thinking about music. He has been in this village for two weeks and counting now, and still he has not yet managed to write a single tune. It does not help that he has caught Wei Ying playing That Song twice since he recovered from his cold. He’s hoping the fresh air will clear his head.

He’s made it to the rows of apricots when he spots three figures huddled behind the trees. They see him just as he recognizes them: A-Yuan, Jingyi, and a boy whose name Lan Wangji has not yet caught. They gesture frantically at him. Puzzled, Lan Wangji wanders close enough for them to pull him to a crouch beside them. 

“Shh,” A-Yuan says. “We’re hiding from Ning-gege.

“I see.” Lan Wangji pauses. “Why?”

“Because!” the kids chorus back at him. 

Lan Wangji considers this, and nods.

They crouch behind the tree for a few minutes. Lan Wangji shifts his feet, settling into a squat. The boys are taking turns peering around the tree, giggling to themselves. In the distance, the figure of Wen Ning appears. The boys squeal, and Lan Wangji can see Wen Ning startle. But before he can see anything else, small hands have grabbed his own and he is dragged further into the orchard, past the apricots and mango trees. He focuses on not tripping over the three pairs of small feet running alongside him. 

They run to the far end of the orchard, where the dragon fruit trees are. They look really strange and kind of dangerous. Lan Wangji steers clear of them. Jingyi and the other boy collapse on one another. A-Yuan leans against Lan Wangji’s legs. “Phew,” the boy says, “that was close.”

“Do you think he saw us?”

“We’re trapped!” the unnamed boy wails. “We’re at a dead end!”

“Don’t cry, Zizhen,” A-Yuan says, patting his back. “Rich -gege will help us!”

On cue, the three boys all turn to stare hopefully up at Lan Wangji. He casts a quick glance around at their surroundings. He’s not too familiar around this area. He vaguely knows the direction back to the house, and that the river he fell into is on the opposite side of the village. He zeroes in on the log-fence behind the prickly dragon fruit tree. “That way,” he says.

The children are small enough to fit through the space between the log bars. Lan Wangji hoists himself over the top log and swings his legs over. The children cheer when he lands on the other side. They cross through the copse of trees and step into a grassy meadow. The grass is tall, coming up to Lan Wangji’s waist, dipping into a valley before being swallowed up by more trees in the distance. He stands there soaking in the view for a moment before an exclamation behind him interrupts his thoughts.

The children are kneeling in the grass, almost disappeared from sight. “A bunny!” A-Yuan shouts. He’s reaching for something grey and fluffy, squirming in the grass.

“There’s another one!”

“Over there!”

“Come here, bunny!”

Lan Wangji steps back to avoid being barrelled over by the force of three first-graders as they chase after the rabbits. The animals hop out of reach, diving into their tunnelled homes. Lan Wangji gently pushes A-Yuan’s grabby hands back.

“You are scaring them,” he says. “Wait.”

The children stand back obediently. They stay still, seemingly holding their breaths as the few rabbits that did not run wander closer in curiosity. One of them sniffs at Lan Wangji’s shoes. Then it hops away to burrow into the grass.

“Bunny...”

“They are wild,” Lan Wangji says. “It is better not to touch them.”

“Okay.” The boys pout. A-Yuan wraps an arm around Lan Wangji’s leg, still peering at the grass. “Can we stay and watch them?”

Lan Wangji looks up at the sky. He glances at the watch on his wrist. It is just past three, the daylight still bright. Dinner won’t be for another while yet. He figures it won’t hurt, to linger a while before making the trek back into the village proper. 

“Alright,” he says, and the meadow fills with the children's cheers.

 

 

 

Wen Ning finds them an hour later, and invites them all back to Granny’s place for dinner. They wait patiently for the boys to say goodbye to the rabbits and then walk back, Wen Ning making awkward small talk about the wildlife and fauna in the surrounding area. Lan Wangji nods along to Wen Ning’s gesturing about the size of the lizi and sables in the thicker parts of the back-mountain wilds.

Lan Wangji is roped into helping with the cooking. He ends up next to Wen Qing, peeling potatoes to be chopped into thin strips. They peel in companionable silence for a while before Lan Wangji clears his throat and asks, “Where is Wei Wuxian?”

Wen Qing frowns at the eyes of the lumpy potato she’s holding. “He’s in the south fields checking on the SD cards of the cameras.” She jabs the peeler into the potato. Lan Wangji winces internally at the violence of the action, but then she suddenly looks up at him. “You know who he is.”

It’s not a question. Lan Wangji nods.

“You didn’t know before.”

“No,” Lan Wangji says. “I knew of him. Our circles did not often overlap. I am... a fan of his work.”

“Just a fan?”

Lan Wangji considers the potato in his hands. It is quite round, but if he turns it to the side, it almost looks like the face of a former tutor of his. “Did he have trouble with fans before?” Is that the reason why he left the city?

Wen Qing doesn’t answer right away. She studies him, and Lan Wangji meets her gaze as evenly as he can. She goes back to peeling potatoes before she answers. “I met Wei Wuxian at the start of my clinical internship. There was a complication in one of the cases I was shadowing. Long story short, I was accused of a crime I did not commit and was taken to court. Wei Wuxian decided to put his entire career and reputation on the line to defend me. He hired a lawyer and petitioned for me until I was cleared.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she says. “I appreciate what he did for me, and I know I owe him a debt he will never collect. But I resent that he lost everything he had just for helping me. His works were taken down from galleries, the calligraphy association basically blacklisted him, his so-called fans harassed him until he had to release a public statement that he’s no longer associated with his agency. He sacrificed himself for a friend he barely knew. Just because he believed me when I said I was innocent.”

Lan Wangji does not claim to understand why Wei Wuxian would do that. He doesn’t think he himself would make the same choice in that position. But he thinks about Wei Ying, the one he’s been sharing meals with for the better half of the last month now, and he thinks about the boy he used to know who was sent away for defending his sister’s honour. And he thinks it’s not a surprise, what Wen Qing is telling him.

“So you both retreated here?”

Wen Qing snorts. “I decided to come back home because my family needed me. Granny hurt her hip that year, and I figured the city’s not worth the hassle. Wei Wuxian? He followed me because he’s procrastinating.”

“Procrastinating?”

“You’ve seen him. You know he can do anything he sets his mind to—the Youtube channel, for one. His calligraphy has no use gathering dust in that house. He’s procrastinating.”

“Ah.”

The bucket of peeled potatoes fills up as they both concentrate in silence. Then Lan Wangji asks, “Does he still do calligraphy?”

“Hm? Yes, he does. He didn’t show you?”

“No.”

“Ask him about it. We’ve been trying to convince him to submit his work again for years. He’s made up an excuse about upgrading our agricultural system or a new idea for a video every time. Like I said. Procrastinating.”

Lan Wangji nods. They move on to peeling carrots.

“What’s the deal with you two, anyway?” Wen Qing asks suddenly. Lan Wangji does not drop his carrot but he does accidentally lop off a chunk of it. He quickly turns the vegetable to hide the missing piece. Wen Qing doesn’t notice. “You let him call you by your birth name. He made us call him Wei Ying mostly because he didn’t want to be reminded of what he left behind, but you’re different.”

“Am I?” Lan Wangji says, but internally he is frozen like a rabbit caught in both hands. His mind replays all the times Wei Ying has bounced into the room, calling Lan Zhan! Lan Zhan! The way Wei Ying waves his chopsticks across the table, rich grains stuck on his lips as he laughs his name. It sounds different every time, but also like the most familiar thing.

Oh no, Lan Wangji thinks. He’s doing it again. Being swept into Wei Ying’s rhythm without even realizing it.

He realizes Wen Qing is squinting at him for his prolonged silence. Lan Wangji clears his throat. “We used to know each other.”

“You did? Wei Ying never mentioned a thing.”

“I don’t... believe he remembers.”

“What?”

Lan Wangji focuses on the carrots. “It was a long time ago. When we were teenagers. A... summer camp. That is all.”

“Huh,” says Wen Qing. “Well, Wei Ying does have the memory of a goldfish.”

“Mn.”

“Still,” she says, and her expression softens slightly. Wen Qing carries herself with pride and dignity, even when she’s in mud-splattered boots and sweat-stained skin, but there’s something about that expression that suddenly makes Lan Wangji miss his brother. “It’s nice to see Wei Ying in high spirits, at least. He insists he’s not moping but we all know he’s been throwing himself into the Yiling Laozu account and entertaining the children as a distraction. He’s been like that for years now. So if you being here makes him happy, that’s great.”

Lan Wangji does not particularly understand what she means by ‘Wei Ying in high spirits.’ As far as he can tell, the man is just like that. The boy he remembers from all those summers ago is just as bright, rambunctious and carefree. He cannot imagine him any other way. But if Wen Qing says his presence does Wei Ying good, then... Something in Lan Wangji’s chest unfurls. He sets it aside to examine later.

“I hear Wen Ning is studying economics,” he says.

Wen Qing does not smile, but her entire being seems to brighten. Lan Wangji sits next to her, carefully peeling vegetables, and listens to her talk about her brother.

It’s nice.

 

 

 

 

[meals are better shared #39] wood burning stove + bamboo steamers

13,723 views • June 16th

Yiling Laozu

i’m still banned from granny’s kitchen but
i’m allowed to feed woodchips into the stove!
a-yuan wanted to try but he has bad aim...
clearly he did not inherit my eye-hand coordination
like/subscribe/tip in the link!!

523 comments SORT BY

lianhua3 Those bao look good! The sauce is a nice colour as well :)

Yiling Laozu i used your recipe!! i hope it was up to your standards, jiejie~

Will Mah I love videos like this that show traditional ways of cooking. You don’t see a lot
of these stoves anymore, because of safety regulations and environm... + read more

pplmountainpplsea reappearance of a-yuan!! he’s the adorablest

heiheiheh AGREE but also is yl implying that kid is his son,,

pplmountainpplsea 👀👀

meowzu dont watch this in the middle of the night!!!!! im so hungry now ‧º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ )‧º·˚

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Lan Wangji is attempting to declutter the living area when the door bangs open and A-Yuan’s voice fills the house.

“Rich-gege! Yu-er-gege needs your help!”

A-Yuan comes careening around the corner. He’s dragging another boy behind him, this one a little older but his scrawny shoulders are hunched over as if to make himself smaller. He’s also bleeding from the nose.

Dropping the books in his hands, Lan Wangji gestures for them to sit on the stools. “Let me see,” he says to the boy. He kneels down, but the boy flinches back. Lan Wangji stops and holds his hands up, palm out. 

“Rich-gege will help, Yu-er-gege!” A-Yuan pipes up. He darts into the kitchen for a clean cloth. “He is Wei-gege’s friend!”

The boy glances from A-Yuan to Lan Wangji. Then, slowly, he lowers his hands from his face. Blood is still trickling down out of his nose, his mouth pressed tightly together in a grimace. Lan Wangji gently tilts the boy’s head up to check the damage. He must have tripped and landed on his face; his palms are skinned and there’s a bruise forming on his forehead as well. Lan Wangji instructs the boy how to pinch his nose to stop the blood flow, using the cloth to wipe away the worst of the blood. The dried bits will have to wait.

“A-Yuan,” he says. “Do you know where the first aid kit is?”

The kid scampers off and reappears with a plastic box. Under the gaze of the two children, one teary-eyed and one wide-eyed, Lan Wangji cleans the scrapes and bruises. He carefully presses bandaids onto the skinny knees. 

“Is it still bleeding, Yu-er-gege? ” A-Yuan asks.

“Nngh,” the other boy says.

“A-Yuan,” Lan Wangji says. “What happened?”

The boy swings his legs in the air as he answers. “We were looking for worms because it rained yesterday, and we found Yu -er-gege! I didn’t know he was visiting! So we invited him to join, but then Xue Yang found us and started being mean. He chased Yu -er-gege until Yu-er-gege fell down. And then A-Qin-jiejie started chasing Xue Yang so I took Yu-er-gege here!”

As Lan Wangji is attempting to piece together A-Yuan’s exuberant recount of events, the door slams open again. This time, a young girl comes stomping in, braided pigtails streaming behind her. Lan Wangji spares a moment to mourn his peaceful afternoon. Does Wei Ying live like this? Having children of all ages and sizes bouncing into his house unannounced at any given point in time?

“I tripped him into the mud,” the girl announced. “So he’ll probably be screaming bloody murder soon, but at least I ruined his favourite pair of cut-off shorts. I can’t believe any self-respecting teenager likes cut-off shorts, but we all know Xue Yang’s a little messed up. That’s okay though because Baba says we’re all a little messed up but we try to accept each other anyway and that’s why we’re a family. Except Babi, he’s perfect.” She stops to take in a breath, and then blinks at Lan Wangji standing next to the two boys. “You’re not Wei-ge.

“It’s Rich-gege! ” A-Yuan cheerfully supplies. “That’s A-Qing-jiejie.”

“Oh, so you’re the new eye-candy in town,” A-Qing says. She looks Lan Wangji up and down, tilting her head. “Not bad, I guess. I can see why you would be a distraction for Wei-ge.”

Lan Wangji does not know what to dissect first: being deemed not bad by a tween girl or that people have been talking about him as a distraction for Wei Ying. What does that even mean? 

“You!” A-Qing says, striding up to the older boy—Yu-er ? Lan Wangji has been here a month and has never seen the child before. A-Qing, and even Xue Yang, he has heard of. They lived at the edge of the village, with a quiet pair of men who sometimes show up at the main house with the wool from the sheeps they raise. He has heard Wei Ying complain about the troublemaking teenager more than once, but he has yet to meet the family in person. The girl is talking at the speed of light again. “You have to stop letting him walk all over you. He picks on you because you cry too easily, you know.”

“But,” the boy blubbers, voice muffled by the cloth against his nostril. “He’s bigger than me!”

“Pingguo the sheep is bigger than you!”

“No, she’s not!”

The kids dissolve into a nonsensical shouting match. A-Yuan joins in on the noise, seemingly just for the sake of being included. He yells at the top of his lungs, “Aaaaahh!” Wincing, Lan Wangji stares at them in dismay. He considers going to his room and shutting the door, except there are no locks in this house and he’s sure the children will become bored enough to come after him eventually. He sighs.

“Would—” he begins.

“I’m not a crybaby!”

“You’re crying right now!”

AiiiiyaaAAAAAHHH!

Lan Wangji clears his throat. He claps his hands, once, twice, loud as a thunderclap. The children cut themselves off mid-scream, snapping their heads to look at him like cats whose tails have been stepped on. Lan Wangji exhales slowly. “Would,” he says as calmly as he can, “you like some snacks?”

Five minutes later, they are seated around the table with a bowl of huamei and shanzha bing. Lan Wangji found a box of chips and rice crackers hiding in the top shelf above the refrigerator, but he deemed it unhealthy to unleash on the group of children under his supervision. At the rate A-Yuan is shoving the haw flakes into his mouth, though, Lan Wangji thinks he might have made a miscalculation there, too. Mo Xuanyu, as Lan Wangji finally figures out his name, has finally stopped bleeding. He’s now engaged in a strange game of poking each other in the shoulder with A-Qing. Lan Wangji sits across them all and wonders when he became a babysitter without his knowledge. Even more alarming is how he’s not feeling anything but grudging acceptance at this development.

He is attempting to stop the kids from flinging the huamei seeds at each other when Wei Ying’s voice floats through the house. Wei Ying appears a moment later, followed by a shorter, paler man toting an elegant-looking paper fan. When Lan Wangji makes eye contact with the man, he can see recognition click into place. But the man doesn’t say anything, just nods politely at him.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying says. “Are you having a tea party without me?”

A chorus of Wei-gege!s rises from the table. Lan Wangji stands to make room. He steps into the kitchen to prepare tea. Wei Ying does not really drink tea, but some of the aunties in the village have pressed boxes of tea leaves into Lan Wangji’s hands when he passed by and he’s been trying them all diligently. 

“Have you guys been bothering Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks. A-Yuan has abandoned the treats in favour of launching himself into Wei Ying’s arms, so Wei Ying lifts him and spins him around until his giggles have turned into shrieks. 

“We’re seeking refuge,” A-Qing says primly, chin tilted up. The effect is ruined by her spitting out a huamei seed onto the table.

“Yu-er! ” the other man exclaims, grabbing Mo Xuanyu’s face. “What happened to you? Dage’s going to kill me if he hears you got hurt under my watch!”

“Xue Yang happened,” A-Qing says.

“Ah,” the man replies. Even Wei Ying nods in immediate understanding.

Lan Wangji brings the tea over. He fills a jug with iced water for the children. Wei Ying smiles at him. “Thanks, Lan Zhan. Oh, this is Nie Huaisang. He’s here visiting friends, he said, but we all know it’s because his brother kicked him out of the house to do something other than stream himself playing Minecraft for clout.”

“Wei-xiong,” Nie Huaisang whines. He offers Lan Wangji a smile. “Thank you for looking after my cousin here. Yu-er’s clumsy but he’s a good kid, right?” Mo Xuanyu nods from the seat beside him, nibbling on a piece of haw flake.

“It’s fine,” Lan Wangji says.

“So Wei-xiong tells me you’re a musician?”

Lan Wangji nods. He’s pretty sure Nie Huaisang knows exactly who he is. Speaking of the name Nie... “Your brother. Is he Nie Mingjue?”

“Yeah,” Nie Huaisang says. He tilts his head. “You know him?”

“My brother,” Lan Wangji says. He pauses. “They’re... friends.”

Nie Huaisang nods. “Friends,” he repeats, but his tone makes Lan Wangji sit a little straighter and narrow his eyes in defense.

Wei Ying cuts in before Lan Wangji can figure out how to confront Nie Huaisang without giving away too much of the Incident. “You guys know each other, then?”

“No,” Nie Huaisang says. “We’ve never met. But I’m a big fan.”

“Huh,” Wei Ying says. He turns to Lan Wangji. “Huaisang and I go way back. High school classmates, partners-in-crime, you know. He’s the one who hooked me up to all the camera stuff so I could start the Yiling Laozu gig.”

“I see.”

Lan Wangji sits and listens to Wei Ying catch up with Nie Huaisang. The children have unearthed a few jianzi and have vacated the place to play outside. Nie Huaisang is very chatty, able to keep up with Wei Ying’s quick wit and easily distracted mind. Their conversation breaks into laughter often. Even with their inside jokes and nostalgic references, Lan Wangji does not feel excluded. Wei Ying makes sure to turn to him when he asks a question, Nie Huaisang’s posture is open towards him. 

He learns that the paper fan with the hand-painted watercolour bird was made by Nie Huaisang himself, that the man has his own online store for his handmade paper crafts. That the Nies invested in some of the land by the village as some sort of deal with Wen Qing to help sustain the village during harsh seasons. That Nie Mingjue practically raised Nie Huaisang while running the family’s martial arts dojo, and now the brothers are raising Mo Xuanyu after his mother passed.

“There must be something in the water,” Wei Ying says. “This place is full of orphans, huh.”

Lan Wangji glances at him. There’s a smile on his face, like usual, but there’s a strange twist to his lips. Lan Wangji doesn’t like it. He leans forwards to pour more tea for everyone. He finds himself saying, “Must be why I ended up here, then.”

A beat of silence passes as they both stare at him. Then Wei Ying laughs, his smile brightening again. “See? I told Wen Qing we should rename the village to Tragic Backstory Village.”

Nie Huaisang swats at Wei Ying with his fan. He looks at Lan Wangji. “You don’t have to play along with him, you know. But I am sorry for your loss.”

“It’s alright. It happened a long time ago. I am sorry for yours, as well.”

Nie Huaisang smiles. “I had my brother. And now Xuanyu will have me, too. Just like A-Yuan has Wei-xiong.

“A-Yuan is...?”

“There was an accident,” Wei Ying says quietly, “when he was still a baby. Granny’s his legal guardian, but we all raise him, really. It takes a village to raise a child, yeah?”

“I’m glad he has you, then.”

Wei Ying blinks at him. His face turns pink as he sputters, “Aiyo, Lan Zhan! Warn a guy, would you! You can’t just say things like that...”

Lan Wangji hums and takes a sip of his tea. He meets Nie Huaisang’s eyes across the table. There’s a gleam there that Lan Wangji can’t read, but the man only smiles, lifting the fan to cover his amusement.

The sound of laughter floats in through the open windows. He looks outside to where A-Yuan is clapping his hands as Mo Xuanyu keeps count of how many times A-Qing kicks the jianzi. The boy’s sunny disposition bears no hint of the tragedy that has touched his young life. Lan Wangji knows there is no blood relation between them, but he can’t help but find similarity between Wei Ying’s radiant smiles and A-Yuan’s carefree joy. Growing up like this, free to run about the village with aunties and uncles and geges looking out for him at every turn... It’s not bad, Lan Wangji thinks. Not bad at all.

 

 

 

“How are things over there?”

Lan Wangji cracks the window of his room open, allowing the evening air to drift in. “Fine,” he says into the phone. “It is peaceful. The people are nice.”

“Even your loud roommate?”

“Mn.” Lan Wangji presses his lips together, thankful his brother cannot see him. He’s confident enough in his ability to maintain a poker face through any occasion, but unfortunately his brother is probably the only person on the planet who can see right through him every time. “He is loud but not unpleasant. He’s... good with children.”

“Children, hm?”

“Yes.” Lan Wangji does not elaborate on this, even though he can hear Lan Xichen’s smile through the static quality of the phone. 

“And how are you doing?” Lan Xichen asks. 

“... Fine.” He stares out the window at the trees in the distance. The greenery offers a veil of quiet that he appreciates. “I’ve written a few arrangements,” he says. “A few ballads from the eighties. That’s all.”

“That’s good. If you have any you would like to be published under the Agency, my inbox is open.”

“Mm.”

There’s a pause. Lan Wangji can hear soft murmurs from the other end, like a tv or maybe a conversation across the room. It’s the evening, his brother is usually home around this time. Lan Wangji can guess, but he does not like to speculate on his brother’s private life. Other people already do enough of that.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen says, and he’s talking in that gentle tone of his, the one that reminds Lan Wangji so much of their mother. “You know you don’t have to churn out a song every time you play. Music is your career, but it’s not all of you. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“I know you’ve been having a hard time recently. I...” Lan Xichen pauses, and Lan Wangji holds his breath unconsciously. “I am grateful for what you said to the elders, for standing up for the talent. While I do regret my own inaction before, and I wish their reactions were different, I do think this seclusion might be beneficial for you. Not only for allowing you quiet and time to work on your music, but also just for you. You love music, and I am glad that you are able to do something you love for work. But what you love should never be what traps you, Wangji.

“I know you are independent,” Lan Xichen says, quieter now, “and you are good at taking care of yourself. I’m proud of you in everything you do. But I still worry about my little brother. I know you like your quiet and your space, Wangji. I just don’t know if that makes you happy.”

Lan Wangji sucks in a breath. “Brother,” he starts.

“Just listen, Wangji. I’m just saying. Don’t worry about what the elders want, what the Agency wants. What your fans want. Don’t worry about saving face for Uncle. I know he feels the same as I do—none of that really matters. What matters is you , Wangji. What do you want? What would make you happy?”

Lan Wangji doesn’t have an answer for that.

Voice still quiet, Lan Xichen continues, “I don’t know what the answer is, and I’m not asking you to tell me what it is. Maybe you don’t know yet. That’s okay. But I hope you find it, and when you do, I want you to keep it. Okay? Promise me that, Wangji.”

It takes him a minute to find his voice. His brother does not hang up, does not push him. Just waits patiently on the line. Lan Wangji counts his breathing until he feels he has control of his voice again. 

“I promise,” he whispers.

The conversation turns back to more mundane things, updates about new promotional trends the Agency is pushing, the new flavours his favourite cafe is offering, what kind of fruits the village is cultivating at the moment. Lan Wangji listens to the familiar cadence of his brother’s voice and lets the corner of his heart that has been ruffled by homesickness fall asleep. 

He sits there for a while after hanging up. His brother’s questions echo in his mind. Lan Wangji doesn’t know what his brother means by what makes him happy. He’s always been fine how he was: making music, sharing music, playing music on his own. It’s fine if the world moves too fast and too loudly for him; he finds peace and understanding in the melodies he plucks out on his qin. He’s fine like that.

But is he happy?

He doesn’t know.

Lan Wangji is startled out of his thoughts when tinny electric guitar starts blaring from outside. He looks out into the hallway, but Wei Ying’s door is open and the lights are off. The sound is coming from his room. The sound cuts off only to start again a few seconds later. A ringtone. Wei Ying doesn’t seem to be in the house. Lan Wangji hesitates. Then he crosses the hall and steps into Wei Ying’s room.

It’s about the same size as his own guest room, but it feels much smaller with the amount of things crammed into it. Half the room is taken up by the computer, electric cords and camera equipment forming a hazardous wall around the desk. There are clothes and books lying on the bed, spilling onto the ground. Lan Wangji stares. He can barely make out the tiny sliver of space where Wei Ying must sleep at night. 

The phone blares again, some viral pop song by an overseas band. Lan Wangji can see the phone on the desk next to the keyboard. Carefully, he picks his way through the disaster of a room. The battered screen shows four missed calls from someone named Jiang Cheng. As he’s holding it, the phone lights up with yet another call.

Wei Ying had accompanied Lan Wangji back to the house after dinner. He can’t be far. Trying to ignore the loud ringtone, Lan Wangji exits the house. He’s about to head back over to the main house when he sees that the lights in the shed are on. In all the time Lan Wangji has been here, he’s never seen anyone interact with the shed. Even A-Yuan only shrugged about it, saying something about how it’s “where Wei -gege does his things.” Lan Wangji assumed it was extra storage space or an extra work space for the videos. He spares a glance down at the phone, flashing the same caller ID, and then heads towards the shed.

He knocks on the door. When he receives no reply, he knocks again. Then he carefully pushes open the door. The shed itself is small, but instead of the cramped space like Wei Ying’s room, the inside of the shed is surprisingly empty. The only furniture is a small wooden shelf on the far wall and a low table pushed under the tiny window. Wei Ying is sitting on a cushion before the table, back facing Lan Wangji. What strikes Lan Wangji the most, however, is not the properness of Wei Ying’s posture—the straight back, legs tucked neatly under his body, a stillness that contradicts everything Lan Wangji knows about the man so far. No, what has Lan Wangji rendered speechless is the sheer amount of calligraphy plastered all over the walls. 

Across every available surface, even on the corners of the floor, papers are taped together and overlapping each other. Some are idioms, some are poems in smaller print, some are messy and barely legible, some are just one single character. The pieces vary in size, paper quality, brush strokes. Lan Wangji can recognize the more traditional, standard style of calligraphy, but what leaves him breathless are the wilder, unorthodox pieces of writing. The brush strokes on these pieces are uneven, messy, often with splatters of excess ink framing the edges of the words. Even within the non-traditional style, there are experimental variations: looser strokes, harsher lines, faded curves as if an afterthought. Some with heavier uses of ink, some barely there, like a painting of a misty morning. 

The phone rings again, jolting him out of his thoughts and Wei Ying out of concentration. Wei Ying turns around, brush still in hand. There is a streak of ink across his nose. His hair is escaping the red ribbon, a loose curl framing his cheek. Sitting there, surrounded by his work, his art, Lan Wangji thinks he looks unfairly mesmerizing. 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says. His expression hovers between uncertainty and surprise for a moment, and then blooms into his usual smile. “What’s up?”

Lan Wangji shakes himself. He looks down at the phone. Holding it out towards Wei Ying, he says, “It sounded urgent.”

Wei Ying takes the phone. It’s stopped ringing, but is now angrily vibrating with incoming text messages. The curiosity in his expression fades quickly once he sees the caller ID and the missed calls. His face shutters, mouth flattening. He turns and puts the phone face down on the table. “My brother,” he says to Lan Wangji. “Thanks, though. Sorry you had to come all the way out here.”

“It is fine.” Lan Wangji pauses. It’s clear Wei Ying does not want to deal with the phone calls, and it’s not his place to push him. But standing there in the small shed with the smell of ink in the air, Lan Wangji feels like he’s crossed the threshold of something. He isn’t sure what that something is yet. “You still write,” he settles for saying.

“Oh.” Wei Ying glances around, as if noticing the walls for the first time. “Yeah, I guess. I mean, I did spend half my life mastering the art, you know! It’s pretty calming, too. I’m sure you get that, right?”

Lan Wangji thinks about the tranquility that washes over him when his fingers glide over the strings of his guqin. “Yes,” he says.

“And Wen Qing always makes sure to pick up more ink and paper every time we do a run to town. I keep telling her I don’t need it but she insists. I can’t let that go to waste, can I!”

“You don’t submit your work?”

Wei Ying’s nose scrunches up. He fiddles with the brush in his hands. “I don’t belong to that stage anymore. I’m sure my name is still blacklisted across half the contests, never mind the magazines. Funny,” he says, but his smile isn’t humorous at all, “how they used to praise me for being different, for pushing against traditional practices of calligraphy. Innovative, they said. The spirit of youth, the future, they said. But they’re so quick to write me off when my real life actions deviated from the good little artist they wanted me to be.”

“You’re more than your art,” Lan Wangji says.

Wei Ying looks up at him, surprised. He tilts his head. “I guess you’d understand, Lan Zhan. It’s so easy for people to forget that behind our work, we’re real people, too, huh?”

“Mm.”

“But yeah,” says Wei Ying, turning back to the piece he’s working on. Lan Wangji can see the character for day and emotion. “That’s probably what Jiang Cheng is calling about. He keeps telling me to go back. As if it’s that easy.”

Lan Wangji looks at the calligraphy around them. One piece on the wall across from him, written in sparse, elegant strokes, catches his eye: 高舉遠蹈. He respects Wei Ying’s want to stay far away from the fray. But he thinks about Wen Qing telling him about Wei Ying distracting himself with helping around the village, about Wei Ying giving up everything to help a friend, to do the right thing. He thinks about the boy that used to sit across from him in the library, smiling contentedly as he dipped a brush in ink, wielding it like a sword of mighty magic. He looks at the passion that went into each of the works plastered on the walls. 

“Wei Ying,” he says. “Is it alright if I played guqin here with you?”

He receives a wide-eyed stare. Lan Wangji does not allow himself to regret asking. Then Wei Ying is smiling, brilliant as always, but somehow softer around the edges. 

“Of course,” Wei Ying says.

 

 

 

 

 

[meals are better when shared #41] zongzi windchime

15,223 views • June 25th

Yiling Laozu

happy duanwu-jie~
i think my zongzi turned out just fine
but qing-jie says it is ugly 😭😭
subscribe for more dumpling-riceball fun!!

709 comments SORT BY

pplmountainpplsea i’d still eat your zongzi, yiling laozu!

Radish Baby i thought yiling laozus hands were pretty but EYES EMOJI at that guy sitting beside granny ? those forearms. who is he

bonbon keep ur thirst to urself, goddamn

lianhua3 Two of the duck egg one, please! And some of your special hot sauce :)

TinyGrass47 granny is so fast at tying them up! the most delicious windchime

heiheiheh pretty sure that amount of hot sauce is illegal holy sh

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

A month and some into his stay, Lan Wangji has settled into a comfortable routine. He wakes at five as always, goes out to the tree to meditate for an hour, then comes back in to make breakfast. Wei Ying wakes up closer to nine, so by the time he stumbles out to eat his portion of breakfast, Lan Wangji has already cleaned up and is gently tuning his qin in the living area. Wei Ying heads out to the fields while Lan Wangji works on his music, until A-Yuan comes knocking. Dinner is spent either at the main house with the others or a quiet affair with Wei Ying chattering away at him from across the table. On most days, they retreat to the shed, where Wei Ying works on his calligraphy and Lan Wangji continues to piece together a song.

So when Wei Ying pops back into the house at half past eleven, grinning at him from the doorway, Lan Wangji is rightfully alarmed. He lifts his hands off the strings in anticipation. Wei Ying has a backpack slung over his shoulder and a stack of wicker baskets under his arm. 

“Lan Zhan!” he says. “Are you busy?”

Lan Wangji glances at the papers spread across the table next to the guqin. He has filled out a few chords, loose melodies. His laptop is open to his composing program of choice. Still, the progress is minimal enough that he shakes his head at Wei Ying. 

“Great!” Wei Ying beams. “Let’s go!”

“Go?”

“Yeah! While we still have daylight. Wen Qing wants to restock her herbs, so we’re going hiking!”

“... I see.”

Ten minutes later, Lan Wangji finds himself following Wei Ying around the back of the house, stepping carefully through the weeds and tall grass. There is a little dirt path just beyond the shed. It leads up the slope, away from the village, into the trees. Already, Lan Wangji is sweating through his pants, but he did not have the foresight to pack shorts. Not that he owns any. He still prefers to sleep in long pajama bottoms, and he dislikes showing his knees. Wei Ying seems to have no problem with that, and Lan Wangji has to force himself to look away from the way the muscles in Wei Ying’s calves move as he hikes up the hill.

The trees provide a nice shade. Lan Wangji tilts his head to watch the dappled light shift on the tree trunks and on Wei Ying’s back. He can hear birds in the distance, cicadas chirping. It’s quiet, peaceful. But so different from the quiet he’s used to—that kind of quiet that is born out of stillness. Here, now, this quiet is filled with life.

“Hey, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says. He’s still facing forwards, stepping over overgrown tree roots and wayward shrubs. “How is your work going? You play the qin every day, which is honestly ridiculous, but like in a very admirable way. A-Yuan tells me you’ve been working really hard. So? Did you make any progress?”

Lan Wangji hums. “A little. Not as much as I’d hoped.”

“Ah.” Wei Ying sends him a smile over his shoulder. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re here on a break, right?”

“Seclusion,” Lan Wangji says. “To focus on my songwriting.”

“Still. Grinding away at something like that isn’t healthy for you. Trust me, I’ve been there, too. And I don’t know how you get any work done with A-Yuan and his minions running in circles around you all day! Wen Ning’s too shy to say it but he’s glad for the extra babysitter, you know, he can only act like a personal playground for the kids so many times.”

He’s not sure how he feels about being relegated to Designated Babysitter Number Two, but he’s not terribly upset. A-Yuan and the children might be a little too high energy for him to keep up, but he finds their questions and general good cheer quite endearing. Even if it takes him away from his work. If he’s being honest with himself, he’s not being all that productive on his own, anyway. He thinks about Wei Ying lifting his dizi to his mouth. He thinks about the shape of Wei Ying’s lips as he coaxes that song to life.

Lan Wangji shakes himself back into the present. Plants, he tells himself sternly. Bugs. Squirrel poop.

They reach a small clearing. One half of it is orderly, clearly tended to regularly, while the other, closer to the trees and uneven ground, is left to grow on its own. Lan Wangji does not recognize the plants that grow in abundance all over. There are blooms of colour dotted amongst the greenery. He follows Wei Ying through the shrubs.

“Here,” Wei Ying says. He hands him one of the baskets. “You can start with these ones—make sure you only take the leaves, like this, leave the roots alone—I’m going to go set up the camera. You don’t mind if you’re in the frame, do you? I can crop out your face again.”

Lan Wangji nods. He crouches down to inspect the plant. Wei Ying’s demonstration was brief, his movements practised. Carefully, Lan Wangji reaches out. He takes hold of the leaf, which is slightly bigger than his thumb and almost silky to the touch. He tugged it off and dropped it into the basket. 

Wei Ying bounds back to him when he’s finished with the camera. They work together in companionable silence, broken only by Wei Ying’s distracted humming. Lan Wangji is introduced to a variety of plants and herbs, most of which Wei Ying described as “minty-thingy” and “spicy-thingy.” It’s busy work, and soon enough Lan Wangji can feel the strain on his feet and back for being hunched over for so long. But he doesn’t complain. He adjusts his weight and helps Wei Ying fold the herbs into pieces of cloth for better organization.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says, some time later. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Mm.”

“Why music?”

“What do you mean?” 

“Why music, out of everything? I assume you had some choice as to what you wanted to pursue. I mean, I suppose you could just be a big fan of music or the guqin, that’s fair. I guess what I mean is that every artist has their own origin story, right? What is yours?”

Lan Wangji doesn’t answer right away. He rearranges the bundles of what looks like weeds to him but what Wei Ying insists are exactly what Wen Qing needs. “My mother,” he says eventually, “introduced my brother and I to music.” Then he stops, unsure how to continue, or whether he wants to continue. He’s not used to talking about his mother. Uncle mentions her even less than he mentions their father, which is never, if he can help it. Even with Brother, talking about their mother is more like talking around her, the concept of her, the memory of her. Lan Wangji has kept his mother like a treasured secret in his chest for so, so long. But something about the quiet of this mountain, the hush of the trees around them, the easy smile Wei Ying wears, without expectations—He finds himself wanting to. Memories fade, if they are kept at the back of the mind, to collect dust in the corner.

“That’s cool,” Wei Ying says when the pause stretches too long. “Does she also play the guqin?” He freezes suddenly, snapping his head up. “Ah, I forgot! Sorry, you said you were also an orphan, too, I—I  didn’t meant to—We can talk about something else—”

“It is fine.”

“Really?”

Lan Wangji looks back down at the plants. “My mother favoured string instruments,” he says. “Though I have only ever heard her sing. I wanted... I wanted to write songs that helped her sleep and kept nightmares away.”

“That’s really sweet. Did she like them?” Wei Ying’s eyes are earnest, his interest genuine. It makes it harder to hold his gaze.

“She passed before I could finish a song,” Lan Wangji says. 

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

Lan Wangji shakes his head. “It was a long time ago.”

Wei Ying is quiet. He collects the chamomile flowers and drops it onto the piece of fabric Lan Wangji has laid over the bottom layer of collected herbs. “My parents died when I was really little, too,” he says. “I don’t remember them much. When Jiang-shushu finally tracked down the latest orphanage I was dumped in, I barely remembered their faces. It kind of sucks, because when Jiang-shushu talks about them, I think he wants to share his grief with someone, but I don’t have enough memories of them to really mourn them the way he does.”

Lan Wangji does not know how to answer that. He shifts the basket closer to Wei Ying. He asks, “Why calligraphy?”

“Oh, giving me a taste of my own medicine, are we?” Wei Ying stretches his arms. His shirt shows a sliver of his sun-kissed skin at the waist. Lan Wangji looks away swiftly. “I’m not sure, actually. I don’t have any particular sentimental attachment to calligraphy. The Jiangs wanted their children to learn traditional arts, so we learned. I ended up winning some amateur contests so I thought, hey, why not make it my thing? Since a-jie is studying cooking, Jiang Cheng will end up taking over the family business... This way I can stay out of everyone’s hair.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Ah... Well. My adoptive mother. She’s very strict, you know? She wants her children to be successful to carry on the legacy, or whatever. And since I became her ward unexpectedly, that included me, too. But it’s different, because I don’t carry the Jiang name. It’d look bad if I exceeded her blood children in their own chosen fields of expertise, you know?”

Honestly, Lan Wangji thinks that sounds overly complicated. Even if Wei Ying is adopted, he was raised along the Jiang children like a sibling. What Wei Ying is describing—a second set of rules, of sorts, is confusing. And that is coming from someone raised on copying a set of family rules that is thick enough for a textbook. 

“Would you have chosen something other than calligraphy?”

Wei Ying tilts his head, thoughtful. “I don’t know. I don’t mind it, really. It can be fun, too, trying to invent new ways to represent the words.” He glances over at Lan Wangji, and smiles. “Maybe I would have chosen music, too. Don’t you think I’m pretty great at the dizi already, for someone that is self-taught?”

He’s clearly teasing, but Lan Wangji nods anyway. It truly is an excellent skill, able to disperse the awkward tension in the air with a smile and a single remark. Already, Wei Ying is off on a tangent about the first flute he ever bought, some shitty fake-bamboo that he’s pretty sure Jiang Cheng threw out when he wasn’t looking. Lan Wangji listens, like always. He finds himself hanging onto every word.

They move on from the herb garden. The sun has started its descent, though Lan Wangji estimates it is still an hour or so from true sundown. He holds the stack of baskets as Wei Ying packs up the camera again. Instead of heading back, Wei Ying leads him through the trees once more, turning around a sharp bend. The shade of the trees peters off into a wild meadow just off the path. Lan Wangji pauses, drinking in the sight.

“Pretty, right?” Wei Ying says. “Come on, let’s pick some and then we can make tea later!”

The camera is set up once more, from the path and a handheld that Wei Ying wields as he instructs Lan Wangji on how to pick the flowers for the tea. Amidst the vibrant blooms, in the quiet afternoon sun, somehow it feels very intimate, standing here next to Wei Ying. He looks at the other man. That silver mask is over his face, throwing shadows in his eyes. The shape of his lips is clear, and for a wild moment Lan Wangji has the urge to reach over and brush his fingers over that smile.

He blames it on the heady aroma of the flowers.

“What made you decide to film?” Lan Wangji asks.

Wei Ying looks at him, surprised. “Ah, it was just a spur of the moment kind of thing! It’s all Huaisang’s fault, really. He’s always been like that, you know, starting things and dropping them when he gets bored—he decided to become a Youtuber one day, and I guess he still is one? Not sure what his channel is supposed to be. He’s got a shit ton of subscribers for some reason, though. Anyway, I asked him about it and then,” Wei Ying shrugs, “the Yiling Laozu was born.”

“You enjoy it.”

“I guess. I wanted to share what I love about this place. This village took me in and accepted me as family, no questions asked. It’s very refreshing, isn’t it, Lan Zhan?”

“Mm. The people here have a lot of reqing.

“Yeah!” Wei Ying smiles. “I’m glad people like the content. I can only assume I’m doing something right, right?”

Lan Wangji hums noncommittally. He hesitates, but decides to go for it anyway. “Have you ever considered going back?”

“To the city?” Wei Ying fiddles with the camera. His mask makes it difficult to read his expression. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I can already hear Yu-ayi say, ‘How dare you come back here and show your face!’”

“You do not owe her or anyone else anything.”

Wei Ying looks at him. “Maybe,” he says.

“Your calligraphy,” Lan Wangji says. He pauses, trying to find the right words. “I think the world is better with your art in it.”

“Lan Zhan! You can’t just say things like that! Warn a guy next time!” That mask is still hiding his face, but Lan Wangji thinks he sees a flush spread across Wei Ying’s cheeks.

“It is the truth,” Lan Wangji says.

“Stop! You’re not allowed!”

“I cannot lie.”

Wei Ying swats at his arm. “Are you teasing me? Are you picking a fight?”

Lan Wangji presses the basket of flower petals into his hand. “Would you like me to hold the camera now?”

“Ah, sure. Let’s get a few shots from over there.”

The baskets are full with herbs and flowers by the time they repack the cameras and make their way back through the trees. The sun has started to set. The bugs have come out in earnest. Wei Ying sprays them both with bug repellent, laughing at Lan Wangji’s dismay when he discovers he has already been bitten by mosquitoes. The sky overhead is a soft orange, highlighted with gold, melting into pinks and purples. Lan Wangji watches Wei Ying’s ponytail bob ahead of him, the sunset painting him a halo through the trees.

His fingers itch for guqin strings.

Wei Ying is laughing at his own joke when the house comes into sight. Lan Wangji is busy pretending he’s not smiling so he does not notice that the lights are on, that there are voices from the front. They round the shed to find what seems like half the village gathered in the tiny front yard of Wei Ying’s house.

“What,” Wei Ying starts, shifting the strap of his bag. “Is there a party I forgot about?”

Wen Qing strides over to them. Her gaze is as serious as ever, but her mouth is a thin line of tension. “Is A-Yuan not with you?”

“A-Yuan?”

“No,” Lan Wangji answers. His chest goes tight, uncomfortable and painful. Something is wrong. “We were up in the back mountain all day.”

“I thought he was supposed to be with Granny,” Wei Ying says.

Wen Qing’s mouth goes even tighter. “Granny says she hasn’t seen him since lunch. Jingyi says none of the kids had plans with him today. No one has seen him for hours. He’s not in anybody’s house. We don’t know where he is.”

Wei Ying’s face pales. His eyes are wide, and for the first time since Lan Wangji moved in, there is no trace of a smile on the man’s face. Lan Wangji feels the same. 

“Go put your stuff down,” Wen Qing says, already turning away. “We’re organizing into groups. A-Yuan is missing.”

 

 

 

 

how to make floral tea (hint: stain your hands)

30,768 views • July 2nd

Yiling Laozu

life is more fun when you stop and smell
the flowers, right? special thanks to my
handsome new friend slash roommate
for being the best flower boy~
subscribe for more of this pretty boy!!

1662 comments SORT BY

pipapi how can a man be so Handsome without even showing his face........

heiheiheh what if we go flower picking in the wilderness and i put a flower in ur hair..... haha jk......... unless??

xiatian Is “friend slash roommate” what we’re calling our bfs now??

Cheesy2 i know its the flowers but his hands looked like they were bloodstained omg

pplmountainpplsea this entire video feels like a fairy tale set in ancient times... all that’s missing are the flowy robes and long hair

YUNA Is it just me or does that other guy looks very very familiar...

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Dinner is abandoned as everyone pairs up to search for A-Yuan. Lan Wangji is handed a flashlight. He has time to see Jingyi and Zizhen sitting huddled together at Granny’s feet, their hands clasped tight within the old woman’s wrinkled ones, before he is pushed back out with Wei Ying in tow. 

The sun has disappeared by now, leaving behind only a few strokes of fast-fading orange in the distance. Lan Wangji hurries to keep up with Wei Ying’s worried stride.

“Wei Ying,” he tries. 

“He’s in so much trouble,” Wei Ying says. His lips are tilted up in a smile, but it’s a mockery of his usual mirth. His jaw is tight, and his eyes are frantic. He’s gripping his own flashlight so hard that Lan Wangji is half afraid he’ll break it.

“He can’t have run far.”

“Probably not. Best case scenario, he’s gotten extremely good at hide-and-seek in somebody’s house, and he’ll come crawling out when he’s hungry enough. Worst case scenario, he’s somewhere deep in the mountains getting eaten by some wolves, or being pecked to death by eagles, or being tortured by monkeys—”

“Wei Ying.” Lan Wangji waits until Wei Ying looks at him. He pushes aside his own worry and tries to project as much reassurance as he can. “We’ll find him. He’ll be alright.”

Wei Ying blows out a long breath. He nods. “Okay,” he says. “Yeah. You’re right. What’s a seven year old to an entire village of worried adults, right?”

They move quickly through the fields. There are uncles and aunties covering all corners of the village. The younger kids are being watched by Granny in the main courtyard, everyone else wandering around calling out A-Yuan’s name. Lan Wangji spots A-Qing with a sullen-looking teenager and two men who must be their parents. Even Nie Huaisang is out searching with a meek Mo Xuanyu in tow. They only stop to shake their heads. No luck over there, either.

Lan Wangji follows Wei Ying to the edge of the village. The hills he had walked with the children in daylight feel almost ominous in the evening air. He makes sure to step carefully down the gravelly dirt paths. He recognizes the way to the orchards. It is quiet here, hushed, elevated above the village.

“I’ll go that way,” Wei Ying says. He’s already walking off between the fruit trees.

Lan Wangji starts towards the opposite direction. There are no signs of A-Yuan. He turns down another row of trees. The bugs are out with a vengeance, and he can already feel several bug bites along his arms. He ignores the itchiness, scanning the area for the familiar figure of the missing child. He reaches the end of the row. He’s about to take another row when his eyes catch onto the worn wooden fence at the edge of the orchard. A memory of a sunny afternoon, being tugged along by children’s laughter, rises in his mind. Lan Wangji glances back at the direction Wei Ying disappeared in. Distantly, he can hear the man calling out A-Yuan’s name.

Lan Wangji turns to the fence. He clambers over it, stumbling over the overgrown moss and weeds on the other side. He looks up and down the grassy bank. Under the trees, the darkness creeps in much faster. Lan Wangji remembers traversing through a copse of trees, winding through tree trunks and roots growing out of the ground, before reaching the meadow last time. He moves forwards into the treeline. If there is any chance that A-Yuan might be out there, he has to check.

It’s eerily quiet within the trees. The calls for A-Yuan have faded, and the screams of the bugs are heightened. He ducks under a stray branch as he steps over an overgrown root. None of this looks familiar, but he’s not sure if it is just the darkness and worry clouding his memory. It takes a few minutes to reach the edge of the trees. Lan Wangji holds out a hand to the tree next to him to keep his balance. Another step, and he is clear of the trees.

The meadow is wider than he remembers. The grass tickles his hands as he walks forwards. He calls out A-Yuan’s name, swinging the flashlight back and forth. He spots movement at the corners of his eyes—birds, large flies, a rabbit or two checking out the commotion. Lan Wangji shivers. He is distinctly aware that he is not on his home turf. Nowhere near, to be honest.

Something whimpers to his far left. Lan Wangji turns, peering through the hazy light of his flashlight. “A-Yuan? Are you here?”

He waits, but he only hears the sound of grass rustling in the breeze. He hesitates, glancing back at the way he came. He heads in the direction of the sound. It leads him farther from the trees, through the meadow. There are more trees on the other side, but they feel older, wilder. A forest. He thinks he truly understands Wei Ying’s fear now.

“A-Yuan,” he calls. The flashlight catches on the glowing eyes of a rabbit. Lan Wangji moves quickly past it. Then, quietly, he hears a soft call.

Gege?

Lan Wangji hurries. He wades through the tall grass to find a dip in the ground. A small ditch, hidden in the dark. A-Yuan looks back up at him, eyes wide and half-filled with tears. He’s covered in dirt and scratches, hair unkempt and clothes a mess. He’s hunched over his foot.

“A-Yuan,” Lan Wangji breathes out in relief. “Are you hurt?”

The boy’s mouth wobbles. “I tripped,” he says, sniffling. “It hurts, gege.

“Hold on,” Lan Wangji says. He scans the surrounding area with his flashlight. If he edges around to the left, the ground evens out a little more, which will allow him to climb back up with A-Yuan. He carefully makes his way down to the boy. “Let me take a look at your foot.”

A-Yuan grips the flashlight with a shaky as Lan Wangji checks his foot. It doesn’t look broken, but he’s not a medical professional. In any case, he’s not going to force the child to walk when he is clearly in pain and has been stuck out here for who knows how long. 

“What are you doing out here?” Lan Wangji asks him. He takes off his jacket to wrap it around the boy.

“I wanted to find the bunnies,” A-Yuan says tearfully. “I thought they might be lonely, and everyone was busy today, so I brought carrots. But—but they kept running away, and then I fell, and it hurts to stand, and then I can’t climb up, and then it got dark, and then, and then—”

“It’s alright,” Lan Wangji hushes him gently. He digs into his pockets for a handkerchief and wipes the tears and grime off A-Yuan’s face. Picking a few twigs and grass out of the boy’s hair, Lan Wangji zips up the jacket to the boy’s chin and reclaims the flashlight. “Let’s head back to the village. Everyone is worried, looking for you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Mn. We can apologize to everyone after they see you are safe and after Wen Qing  takes a look at your ankle. Alright?”

A-Yuan sniffles. He blows his nose into the handkerchief. Lan Wangji doesn’t wince, but he makes a note to wash it twice later. Or maybe he’ll just surrender it to A-Yuan forever. He has more. “Okay,” A-Yuan says.

They dust themselves off as best they can. Lan Wangji hoists A-Yuan over the edge of the ditch back onto the grassy meadow. Clambering up himself is not as easy; he slips a few times and ruins his pants before he makes it. It takes a few minutes to maneuver A-Yuan onto Lan Wangji’s back. The boy clings to Lan Wangji’s shoulders, the flashlight held tight in his fist. 

“Alright?” Lan Wangji asks.

“Nn.”

They move forwards through the grass, back the way Lan Wangji came. It is truly dark now. Lan Wangji can feel new bug bites itching over his arms. The way through the trees is more treacherous than he remembers, now that he has a precious cargo plastered over his back. To ease A-Yuan’s worry, Lan Wangji prompts him about the names he has given his rabbit friends. The list starts with colour-themed names before veering sharply into names of food. Lan Wangji makes noises of appreciation regardless.

As the wooden fence comes into view, Lan Wangji can hear Wei Ying’s voice. He’s calling out Lan Wangji’s name, too. A stab of guilt hits Lan Wangji. He quickly makes his way into the orchard.

“Wei Ying,” he calls, hurrying towards the other man’s voice. “I’m here. I found him.”

A moment later, Wei Ying comes running around the corner. His hair is a windswept mess, his eyes wide as he takes in A-Yuan’s weak little wave over Lan Wangji’s shoulder. “A-Yuan!” he shouts. The boy flinches, a hand grasping Lan Wangji’s shirt. Wei Ying strides forwards until he can see A-Yuan’s face, his own expression creased with worry and relief. “A-Yuan, what did we tell you about wandering off on your own! Especially at night time! What if Lan Zhan didn’t find you, huh? What if you got eaten by wolves? A-Yuan!”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says quietly, feeling the boy starting to quake on his back. But before he can say anything else, A-Yuan bursts into tears, wailing loudly and pitifully.

“I’m soooorryyyyyyy,” A-Yuan cries. His tears soak through Lan Wangji’s shirt. He nearly chokes on his own snot as flurries of apologies trip out of his mouth.

Lan Wangji hefts him up a little in an attempt to soothe him. “He sprained his ankle,” he says to Wei Ying over the blubbering sobs. 

Wei Ying takes a breath. He visibly shakes himself, and then nods, taking the flashlight from A-Yuan’s limp hand. “Okay. Let’s get back to the main house and let Qing-jiejie look at you, okay, A-Yuan? You’re okay, and that’s what’s important.”

Gege,” A-Yuan whimpers.

Wei Ying pets A-Yuan’s head. He leans in to press a kiss to the boy’s forehead. “Shh,” Wei Ying says. “Let’s go home, okay?”

A-Yuan sniffles loudly. He nods against Lan Wangji’s shoulder. “Go home.”

When they make it back to the main house, the noise that everyone makes is probably enough to be heard in the next town over. Wen Ning is immediately dispatched to inform the others still searching that A-Yuan is safe and sound. A-Yuan is placed on a chair, Wen Qing kneeling down to look at his ankle while Jingyi and Zizhen clutch at both of his hands. Granny, after giving A-Yuan a big hug, has hurried off to the kitchen to throw together some food to feed everyone. 

Lan Wangji stands off to the side, watching the villagers mill about the courtyard. The search parties that are called back swing by to check on A-Yuan, scolding him in the same breath they promise to bring him his favourite treat tomorrow. Everyone seems reluctant to leave. Lan Wangji helps Granny place the dishes on the plastic tables, hands out chopsticks and bowls as necessary. Wei Ying is flitting about teasing the children and making the aunties and uncles laugh. The tension from an hour before has all but faded into a dream. A-Yuan’s scrapes have been cleaned up, cartoon-themed bandaids slapped on. He’s laughing at something Wen Ning is saying. Lan Wangji sits in the corner with his bowl of youfan and soaks in the noise.

He suddenly feels very tired.

“You want some pepper with that?” 

Wei Ying has materialized next to him. Lan Wangji glances down at his half-finished bowl. He shakes his head. Wei Ying shrugs and drops down on the ground next to his stool. His own bowl is covered in red chili sauce. They eat in comfortable silence for a while.

“You know,” Wei Ying says, eyes across the courtyard where Jingyi is gesturing wildly in the middle of a story. “As an orphan lucky enough to be adopted into a well-off family while I was still young, the concept of running away never really occurred to me. Like, even when things got bad at home, at least I had a home, you know?”

Lan Wangji isn’t sure where Wei Ying is going with this. He hums to show he is listening.

“So when I had no choice but to run away,” Wei Ying continues, “I was very disappointed. It wasn’t exciting at all. I packed my things and changed my number and hopped on a train. I thought there would be more looking over my shoulder, changing routes. Dodging the people they sent after me. But it wasn’t like that. No one looked for me.”

I looked for you, Lan Wangji wants to say. He looks down at the oil coating his bowl. Instead, he says, “Wanting to be found and being found are two different things.”

Wei Ying looks at him. When he smiles, it’s a crooked thing. “I guess you’re right.” He stretches his arms. “And I guess I’m not being fair. Jiang Cheng and A-jie did try to look for me. I didn’t make it easy. When they did finally find me, it was kind of like... meeting them halfway, huh. Have you ever run away?”

“No.”

“Aha, yeah, you didn’t strike me as the type.”

“When I was six, I tried riding the bus to the hospital by myself.” Lan Wangji pauses. The hesitation around memories of his mother is so deeply ingrained in him. But it is Wei Ying. Wei Ying is safe. “I wanted to see my mother. A kind stranger took me to the police station and called my uncle before I could make it very far.”

Wei Ying laughs. “I’m imagining a little you, all serious and dressed up, politely asking the bus driver to put the coins into the fare machine because you can’t reach.” He glances at Lan Wangji, his eyes warm. “That’s brave of six year old Lan Zhan.”

“Mn. I still cannot forget the overwhelming relief I felt when my uncle arrived at the station to pick me up.”

“I’ll bet,” Wei Ying says. He looks over at A-Yuan again. “I just... want these kids to know that there will always be someone that will find them when they are lost. That there will be someone to take them home. Even that little asshole Xue Yang.”

Lan Wangji nods. “Children deserve homes to return to.”

The smile Wei Ying gives him makes his heart stutter, just a little bit.

Later, in his room while Wei Ying is away in his shed, Lan Wangji sits at his guqin and stares at the blank music sheets on the table. He thinks about Wei Ying’s smile framed by blushing flowers, Wei Ying’s profile haloed in sunset gold. He thinks about Wei Ying’s voice floating amongst the leaves, Wei Ying’s laughter echoing in his ears. The gentle way Wei Ying wiped away A-Yuan’s tears with his thumb. The easy way he jokes with the uncles and flirts with the aunties. The quiet way he talks about his past, about being lost and being found.

If he is allowed to, Lan Wangji thinks he will always find Wei Ying.

He lifts his hands, brushes his fingertips lightly across the strings. He takes a breath. And begins to play.

 

 

 

 

 

rabbits crossing: new horizons

50,928 views • July 9th

Yiling Laozu

a-yuan made some rabbit friends!!
they didn’t like me, though :((
pretty guqin music played by
our resident pretty boy!
feel free to tip to buy tiny ribbons
for our rabbit friends~

3920 comments SORT BY

moomoochan the rabbits are cute! but speaking as a vet-in-training, do NOT touch wild rabbits, sometimes they carry rabies... +read more

heiheiheh WE STAN A TINY D*SNEY PRINCESS AYUAN

pplmountainpplsea callback to that video where it was just 15 mins of a-yuan showing us bugs ahaha

Miss Tina um?? is it just me or does that guqin guy look. very familiar

YUNA So I’m NOT the only one seeing it!!

biilighted its definitly HGJ’s song but why wud he cameo in yllzs vid lol

Kai Yung God can the light army or whatever his fans call themselves fuck off on other ppl’s videos?

chibich11 maybe it’s u who should f*ck off, don’t be r00d

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Wei Ying is already clattering around in the kitchen when Lan Wangji walks back into the house. He pauses, checking the antique clock on the wall. It is a little after seven. The clock was still working when Lan Wangji left for his morning meditation, so he assumes that is the correct time. Which makes him all the more alarmed that Wei Ying is awake at this hour. 

“Lan Zhan! Good morning!”

“Good morning,” Lan Wangji replies slowly. “Are you... feeling alright?”

“Hah? Yeah! Absolutely great!” Wei Ying shoots him a dazzling grin. He twirls around to check the congyoubing he’s frying on the pan, flipping it over before he’s sliding over to lift the lid on the pot of braised tofu and jackfruit. His movements are efficient, but there’s a restless energy to his entire being that screams anticipation.

Lan Wangji asks, “Is something happening today?”

Wei Ying’s hand jerks on the ladle. “Whoops,” he says, laughing as he wipes up the small spill. His back is facing Lan Wangji, effectively hiding his expression. “Nothing much. Just. Haha. My brother’s coming.”

“What?”

“My brother,” Wei Ying sighs. “A surprise visit. He does this from time to time, barely giving me any warning, but you know how brothers are.” Lan Wangji does not. Or, at least, his experience with brotherly behaviour is apparently vastly different from Wei Ying’s. “But he said he’s bringing A-Ling this time! So at least there is that. Hopefully he won’t be as willing to scream at me.”

“Scream at you?”

Wei Ying waves a hand. “Jiang Cheng’s just like that. I don’t think he ever learned how to express his emotions properly so he just yells. But it’s okay, A-Ling usually mellows him out pretty well.”

Lan Wangji doesn’t know who A-Ling is. A girlfriend? Who makes Wei Ying brighten like that with just their name? He wants to ask but he also thinks maybe he doesn’t want to hear the answer. Instead, he rolls up his sleeves. “Let me help,” he says. 

Wei Ying looks at him, surprised. Then he smiles, easy as ever, eyes crinkling up into half-moons. “Thanks, Lan Zhan.”

“Of course,” Lan Wangji says. He thinks about telling Wei Ying that he could probably make people do anything for him with that smile. He keeps his mouth shut instead and moves to wash the vegetables Wei Ying has prepared on the side.

 

 

 

Wei Ying’s brother arrives with a loud, displeased yell of Wei Ying’s name, and a small child tucked under his arm. 

“Wei Wuxian,” Jiang Cheng bellows. 

“I’m here, I’m here,” Wei Ying says, wrapping the last egg around the tomato fried rice. He nods a thanks when Lan Wangji takes the frying pan from him, and then hurries to undo his apron. His brother has made it inside the house by then. The child is dumped at the table. The man is wearing sunglasses too big for his face and a harsh scowl. Lan Wangji busies himself with washing the pots and pans.

“Glad you made it in one piece!” Wei Ying says. “I would have picked you up, you know, but you literally just texted me this morning so I had to send Wen Ning.”

“Shut up,” Jiang Cheng responds. “If you’d pick up my calls instead of sending me to voicemail, then maybe you would have known earlier. You better not have blocked my number again, asshole.”

“I didn’t! Look, I even cooked lunch for you and everything. Aren’t I a good brother?”

“You’re the worst brother.”

“Hey, I’m your only brother so it’s not like you’d know any better.” Wei Ying turns to the child nodding off in his seat before Jiang Cheng can yell a retort. “A-Ling! Are you excited to stay with your favourite uncle?”

“No way you’re his favourite uncle,” Jiang Cheng says. “You barely even see him.”

“Shush, Jiang Cheng, I send him the best birthday gifts.”

Lan Wangji hangs the pan up to dry. He glances over his shoulder at the boy blinking sleepily and tolerating Wei Ying’s cooing. A-Ling, he called him. Not a girlfriend, then. A nephew? His sister’s child. He watches Wei Ying pinch the chubby cheeks to the boy’s annoyance, studies the obvious adoration on Wei Ying’s face. His heart swells something fierce. Turning away before he does something stupid like walking over there and holding Wei Ying’s hand, he accidentally locks eyes with Jiang Cheng.

“Hanguang-jun,” Jiang Cheng says, surprised. “What are you doing here?”

Wei Ying looks up. “Hanguang-jun?”

Jiang Cheng turns to him, scowl softening into an incredulous frown. “Him. Hanguang-jun? Famous traditional musician? Five-time recipient of the original classical composition award and youngest qin player to perform with the National Traditional Orchestra? He has like, what, nearly ten million subscribers on Youtube now?”

“What?” Wei Ying swings around to stare at Lan Wangji. “You’re famous?”

“Only moderately,” Lan Wangji says. “I am mostly popular with the older crowd and avid fans of traditional music.”

“How come you never told me!”

“You never asked.”

Jiang Cheng frowns at the both of them. “Wei Wuxian, how long have you been living with the guy and you didn’t know he was Hanguang-jun?”

“Wen Qing only told me he was a musician, I didn’t know! You know I don’t pay attention to that stuff. It’s not like I have the agency’s news feed anymore.”

“Whatever. You still should have recognized him, though.”

“Jiang Cheng, you know I am terrible with faces.”

Jiang Cheng scowls at him. Lan Wangji moves forwards with sudden, unreasonable panic. Wei Ying is turned away from him, none the wiser. “Even if you forget his name—God knows how, when the Lans are literally everywhere in the traditional arts world—you still should know him considering you’ve met him before.”

“I have?”

Just as Lan Wangji is considering the pros and cons of accidentally-on-purpose dropping the pot of soup on the ground to derail the conversation, a screech is heard outside the house. Then a blur comes running in, attaching itself to Jiang Cheng’s leg. 

“What the fu—!”

“A-Yuan!” Wei Ying beams. “Look, we got you a friend!”

“A-Ling isn’t a toy, you dumbass—”

“There’s a baby!”

“Yes, a babier baby than you!”

“I’m not a baby!” A-Yuan yells at the same time A-Ling screams the same thing.

Lan Wangji steps back from the soup. So the child can speak. He watches as Jiang Cheng tries to calm the nephew-child down and A-Yuan flutters about trying to get a good look at said nephew-child while Wei Ying unhelpfully stands there with his head thrown back in laughter. He still laughs like Lan Wangji remembers: loud, infectious, as if the sound is too bright for his body to contain. It’s ridiculously charming. It’s highly distracting.

They settle around the table somehow. A-Yuan is sitting beside Lan Wangji, peering around Wei Ying on his other side to stare at the other child. His name is not A-Ling but rather Jin Ling. Jiang Cheng sits across the table, scooping braised tofu and steamed string beans into the plastic bowl meant for his nephew. It’s the most awkward meal Lan Wangji has had since he moved into the village. Even Wei Ying’s chattering has a nervous edge to it. Lan Wangji doesn’t like it.

“What do you think, A-Ling? Is it tasty? Your uncle made it himself, you know!”

Jiang Cheng blanches. “Wait a second, you cooked this? Jin Ling, spit it out!”

“Hey! I had supervision! Lan Zhan made sure I didn’t add too much spice!”

Jin Ling is holding his bowl out of reach from Jiang Cheng, but the man is distracted now. Jiang Cheng squints at Wei Wuxian suspiciously, mouthing Lan Zhan? to himself. Lan Wangji avoids his eyes and busies himself with helping A-Yuan reach the fried cauliflower. 

“It’s good, right?” Wei Ying says, grinning. “Even though there’s no meat at all, can you believe it! Lan Zhan’s a vegetarian because he likes to torture himself apparently, but when it’s cooked like this it isn’t so bad, is it?”

“This is vegetables?” A-Yuan asks, pointing at his bowl.

“Cauliflower,” Lan Wangji confirms.

“Not chicken?”

“No.”

A-Yuan stares at the cauliflower. He stuffs it in his mouth and chews. “Doesn’t taste like vegetable!”

Wei Ying laughs. “Look, Lan Zhan, you’re going to turn him into a vegetarian, too! What will I tell Wen Qing?”

“It is healthier than your regular doses of spice.”

“I thought you liked spicy food! You never said anything when I cooked before.”

Lan Wangji can feel his ears heat up. He hopes they are not red enough to be noticeable. “I’ve volunteered to cook since then.”

Wei Ying gasps. “I thought it was just because you had a stricter schedule than I did!”

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “Your spice tolerance from hell has even forced your guest to cook for you. How shameless.”

“Jiang Ch—”

“I wanted to,” Lan Wangji finds himself saying. Both men stop and stare at him. Lan Wangji stares back, unblinking. His ears feel like they are on fire. He uses every ounce of his media training to maintain a straight face. Wei Ying is smiling again, the curve of his mouth somehow softer. Jiang Cheng narrows his eyes. He looks away first.

Lan Wangji does not remember much about Wei Ying’s adoptive brother. His teenage years were a murky pool of revolving faces. Even Wei Ying, the one person who managed to leave an impression in the midst of Lan Wangji’s self-imposed loneliness, was nearly suppressed in his memory forever. He can recall the image of Wei Ying’s back, running off to throw his arms around the shoulders of a scowling boy. 

He looks at Wei Ying now, teasing Jiang Cheng with the same mindless chatter he throws at Lan Wangji to fill the silence. There’s a twitchiness in his movements even as he brightens when Jin Ling giggles at his exaggerated faces. Jiang Cheng is still scowling, though Lan Wangji is starting to think maybe that’s just his face. His uncle always says to withhold judgement upon others until one has witnessed the truth through their actions, but so far Jiang Cheng has only yelled at his brother and projected his displeasure at Wei Ying despite being a guest on Wei Ying’s turf. Lan Wangji is not impressed.

Somehow, by the time all the leftover dishes are wrapped up and put into the refrigerator, A-Yuan has managed to bond with Jin Ling. He tugs the little boy’s hands out the door, promising to show him all the best places to collect cicada shells. Jiang Cheng takes half a step as if to drag them back before Wei Ying distracts him with a jab at his new haircut. Jiang Cheng’s scowl deepens. In between one blink and the next, they are chasing each other out the house.

Lan Wangji stands in the middle of the kitchen, exhausted. He suddenly sympathizes really hard with Wen Qing. It’s not easy being the single adult amongst a group of children. 

 

 

 

The evening finds them gathered in the house again, with the addition of Nie Huaisang and Wen Ning, and a generous amount of one of the uncles’ homebrewed fruit wine. 

Lan Wangji already knows this night will end in chaos.

Wei Ying is already on his third cup, egging Nie Huaisang on as they both crow at a flustered Wen Ning to describe his ideal type of a partner. Lan Wangji retreats to the kitchen with the excuse of grabbing more plates for the peanut shells. When he turns, Jiang Cheng is leaning against the cupboards, arms crossed.

“What do you think you’re doing,” he asks flatly.

Lan Wangji looks at the plates in his hands. “Grabbing plates,” he responds.

“No, I meant with my brother.”

“I’m not doing anything to him.”

Jiang Cheng sighs in an aggravated manner. His mouth works as if tasting something unpleasant. “He calls you Lan Zhan.”

“So he does.”

“You call him Wei Ying.”

“Everyone here does.”

His scowl has sharpened so much Lan Wangji is almost surprised the man isn’t spitting blood. Lan Wangji spares a moment to wonder if Wei Ying would hate him if he made his brother’s blood pressure explode, just a little. “Stop it. You know what I mean. He might not remember you, but I do. I remember him practically hanging off you back then, and I remember you treating him like a cockroach that wouldn’t die. I don’t know why you’ve suddenly decided to turn up now, or what you’re doing playing house with him, but if you’re just going to leave after you’ve had your fun, you better stop now.”

Lan Wangji blinks at him. He is rendered speechless by all of that, but Jiang Cheng does not seem to want a reply.

“Wei Wuxian might be a happy-go-lucky idiot,” Jiang Cheng continues, “who can’t focus long enough to care about anything because his heart’s made of rubber—but he’s not. That idiot has a self-sacrificing streak a mile wide. Can’t leave him alone or he’ll find some way to break his own heart twice over. So whatever you think you’re doing with him, don’t.”

Rationally, Lan Wangji understands this entire conversation is something like a shovel talk. That Jiang Cheng is trying to protect his brother in his own very gruff and very aggravating way. On what basis, Lan Wangji isn’t sure; yes, he enjoys Wei Ying’s company and in the past two months the man has grown on him exponentially. When Wei Ying smiles at him, when Wei Ying calls his name, his heartbeat stutters. And maybe Lan Wangji has finally, finally managed to write more than a flimsy melody with Wei Ying as inspiration. But they are roommates, maybe friends. That is all.

Before even trying to dissect all that, though—Jiang Cheng has been grating on Lan Wangji’s nerves all day.

“If Wei Ying is as fragile as you are implying,” Lan Wangji says slowly, “then I could say the same to you.”

Jiang Cheng’s eyes flash. “What are you saying?”

“Since you showed up with little warning this afternoon, you have done little but berate him and chastise him. I do not see you treating him any better than what you are falsely accusing me of doing. In fact, from what I have seen, you treat him quite callously for all that he considers you a brother.”

“You—”

“Lan Zhan? Jiang Cheng? What are you guys doing?”

They both turn to look at where Wei Ying has poked his head through the beaded curtain hanging in the kitchen doorway. He glances between them, a furrow in his brow. Lan Wangji collects the plates. He does not look in Jiang Cheng’s direction. 

“I found the plates,” he says. “Did we need anything else?”

Wei Ying sends another suspicious glance at his brother. Then, visibly deciding to ignore the weird tension in the air, he shrugs and grins at Lan Wangji. “It’s all good! Come back and join us. Wen Ning’s going to teach us a new drinking game he picked up at college. I think Huaisang’s trying to give himself alcohol poisoning so his brother will take pity on him and let him go home to the city.”

“Doesn’t he have a brat to look after?” Jiang Cheng says, pushing off the counter. He sends Lan Wangji one last dark look before following Wei Ying back out to the living area.

“Who even knows what goes on through his head?”

“Are you guys talking about me behind my back?” demands Nie Huaisang. He takes the plates from Lan Wangji and distributes them. “Sit, sit! If we’re gonna gossip, let’s not mumble in the corner. Instead, let’s gossip loudly and shamelessly!”

Lan Wangji is really concerned for Mo Xuanyu. He says nothing, sitting down next to Wei Ying. He reaches for the wine to refill the cups. Without meaning to, he makes eye contact with Jiang Cheng again. The man is still glaring at him. Then, suddenly, his mouth curls up in a vicious grin.

“Yeah,” Jiang Cheng says. “Since we’re all good friends here. Let us toast to that, for a start. Each one of us.”

“Hear, hear,” Wei Ying cheers. He pauses. “Wait, Lan Zhan doesn’t drink. I’ll drink for him—”

“No,” Lan Wangji interrupts. He does not look away from Jiang Cheng. “I will drink.” He pours wine into his cup, the liquid sloshing over the rim. In one smooth movement, he throws it back.

The last thing he remembers is Wei Ying’s surprised expression and the narrowing of Jiang Cheng’s eyes.

 

 

 

 

uncle’s homebrew!

72,491 views • July 15th

Yiling Laozu

sorry for the late upload, i had to chase
after a naughty drunk!! who knew gege
is so wild without inhibitions?
this is uncle four’s pride and joy,
made fresh from our own orchard~

5218 comments SORT BY

mochamochi im not an alcoholic but if yllz was serving me id be chugging it

pplmountainpplsea wild a-yuan spotted in the background! did he help pick the fruits aww he’s the cutest

heiheiheh a yuan is the village mascot lmao

Lily T. Who is the naughty drunk, Mr. Laozu??

cowboy2 He calls him gege????

RainbowSong gege 👀👀

xwinterbaex guys it’s probably a sibling or something, chill

Eun Ae Objection!! In the video about rice cakes he mentioned his didi and jiejie but no older brother... +read more

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Lan Wangji wakes up with a pounding headache and a sour taste in his mouth. Something heavy and warm is pinning him down. Cautiously, he peels his eyes open. He’s in his room, the bamboo mat over his mattress pressing into his back uncomfortably. It is late in the morning, much later than he usually wakes up. And the thing trapping him against the bed is...

“... Wei Ying?”

The man groans, shoving his face further into Lan Wangji’s shoulder. “Five more minutes.” He sounds so sleepy and soft and comfortable that Lan Wangji almost concedes and goes back to playing a human pillow. But the headache is not going away and he is growing increasingly aware of all the places they are pressed together. 

Lan Wangji pushes lightly at Wei Ying’s shoulder. “Wei Ying. Wake up.”

With another mighty groan, Wei Ying rolls off him and onto his side, head just barely missing the pillow. His hair is a messy nest of curls, eyes still hazy with sleep, dried drool in the corner of his mouth. Still, Lan Wangji thinks he looks beautiful. 

No, he tells himself sternly. This is not the best time to be waxing poetic about the man who only looked at him as a friend. This is absolutely the worst time, considering their legs are still tangled together.

“Why are you—” Lan Wangji grasps for words around his headache and mounting mortification. “Why are you here?”

“I live here, too, you know.”

“No, I mean—in my bed?”

Wei Ying yawns, then blinks at him. Wakefulness seeps into his eyes, and then a slow smile starts across his lips. Lan Wangji drags his eyes away from the shape of Wei Ying’s mouth. Looking back up at those clever silver eyes is not much better. Wei Ying’s grin has a mischievous tilt to it as he says, “Oh, you don’t remember? And after everything you did last night...”

Lan Wangji pales. He closes his eyes, swallows. “I apologize for whatever it is I’ve done while intoxicated.”

Aiyo, I’m joking,” Wei Ying says. He pokes Lan Wangji until he reopens his eyes. “You did do a lot of things but nothing terrible. It was actually kind of funny. You’re really bad with alcohol, huh?”

“My family has always had a low tolerance for alcohol.”

“Yeah, I figured.”

Lan Wangji sits up in the bed. They’re both still clothed, and the room is no less orderly than it usually is. The last thing he remembers is glaring right back at Jiang Cheng across the table and impulsively chugging the wine. Wei Ying does not look too worried, but that does not soothe Lan Wangji’s concern. He takes a breath. “Will you tell me what happened?”

Yawning widely, Wei Ying also sits up. He mirrors Lan Wangji and sits cross-legged in front of him. Some of his hair is sticking straight up on the side of his head from being pressed against the pillow. His cheek is red from where he had mashed it on Lan Wangji’s shoulder. 

Maybe Lan Wangji is still drunk. That must be why it’s so difficult to focus on anything but the way Wei Ying looks, framed so lovingly in the late morning light.

“Well, I don’t know what made you pick a fight with Jiang Cheng,” Wei Ying begins. “I mean, his personality is just like that, I guess. But you downed that cup of wine like it was a shot, and then you conked out. Like, literally conked out. Your head made a loud sound when it hit the table actually, do you want me to check if there’s a bruise?”

Lan Wangji has regained enough composure to stop himself from flinching back. He leans his head out of reach and tells Wei Ying, “It’s fine.”

Wei Ying shrugs. “You freaked us out with your fainting act. How does anyone have that low of a tolerance? It’s not even strong wine. Anyway, we figured we’d let you sleep it off, right, but then again, you scared the shit out of us by waking up all of a sudden! Wen Ning got wine up his nose! And then, for some reason you decided to challenge Jiang Cheng to a peanut-catching contest. Your hand-eye coordination while drunk is absolutely phenomenal, by the way. Jiang Cheng got so angry that you kept winning that he accidentally upended the entire table. Nie Huaisang got it all on video, don’t worry, you can make fun of Jiang Cheng with me later.”

Laughing at someone’s misfortune and misbehaviour goes against the principles Lan Wangji was raised on. Lan Wangji makes a note to discreetly ask Wei Ying for the video later, anyway.

“We were trying to sweep up the peanut shells,” Wei Ying continues, “but then when I looked up, you’d disappeared! I took my eyes off you for a second, Lan Zhan. Drunk you is like A-Yuan, getting distracted by everything. Anyway, Huaisang said he’d hold down the fort, and I trusted Wen Ning to at least have the strength to wrestle Jiang Cheng if he started acting up—Drunk Jiang Cheng is a monster; at least you were open to suggestions. Drunk Jiang Cheng hits first and asks questions later.

“So I followed you outside, but by the time I did, you were already halfway down the road. I blame your long legs, Lan -gege , I had to run to keep up with you, and by then I was barely even tipsy anymore. But every time I suggested going back to sleep it off, you shook your head and tugged me along.”

Face warm, Lan Wangji asks, “Where was I going?”

“That’s what I wanted to know!” Wei Ying laughs. “You dragged me all the way past the fields. Lu-ayi had some sigua out to dry and you tried to steal them, but you didn’t want to carry them yourself so you just dumped them all in my arms. I didn’t take you for such a naughty drunk, Lan Zhan! I was putting the gua back when you disappeared, again, and when I caught up to you, you were trying to steal Ye-shushu ’s watermelons.”

“Did I... succeed?”

“No. I mean, you probably could have, seeing as you’ve got arm muscles for days, but when I asked you if maybe you were hungry, you turned to me and tried to give me the watermelons. I’m not ripped in the arms like you, unfortunately, so I had to put them on the ground, but you kept asking me, Do you like them? You like them, right? So I said yes, but I wasn’t hungry right now, and I’m sure Ye-shushu would share the watermelons at the next community dinner, anyway. You got all frowny and sad-looking, but while I was rolling the watermelons back, you wandered off next door again.”

Lan Wangji is sure his ears are smoking with how much embarrassment he feels. Wei Ying doesn’t seem to notice, hands idly fidgeting with the blanket tossed unceremoniously at the foot of the bed. The hungover-induced headache prevents Lan Wangji from recalling anything Wei Ying is telling him, but Lan Wangji knows himself enough to read between the lines. He was trying to please Wei Ying even while blackout drunk, albeit in a very awkward and nonsensical way.

“Somehow you managed to break into Uncle Six’s chicken coop, and you grabbed two of them out of their cages! I thought you were vegetarian, Lan Zhan! But you tried to give them to me again.”

“... Did I harm them?”

“No, no, don’t worry. You were quite good at handling them, considering you were drunk—you have experience with cocks, huh?”

Wei Ying.

“I meant the birds! Anyway, you kept asking if they were fat enough. You wouldn’t stop until I agreed they were, and then you nodded like I’d said something really wise, and then you finally agreed to come back home. Speaking of which, we need to return those chickens to Uncle Six later.”

“Thank you for keeping me in check last night.” Lan Wangji pauses. “But that does not explain why you ended up—why we shared a bed.”

“Oh, that. That wasn’t my fault, I swear! By the time we got back, Nie Huaisang and Wen Ning had already dumped Jiang Cheng in my bed. And then, when I finally managed to convince you to let go of the chickens, you walked straight to your room, said something like, It is late. Sleep now. But when I agreed, you latched onto me and wouldn’t let go until I was lying down beside you.” Wei Ying tilts a flirty smile at him. “I didn’t take you to be so bold, Lan Er-gege.”

Lan Wangji closes his eyes. “I apologize,” he says, “for my rudeness last night. If I have made you uncomfortable in any way, please don’t hesitate to tell me how I can make amends.”

Aiyah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says, waving a hand. “It’s fine! You were drunk. And you didn’t even do anything that bad. I would know, trust me, this one time in high school Huaisang got us all drunk and we broke into the school and replaced all the chalk with popsicle sticks. And then we used the chalk to draw a very rude drawing of the principal on the field. Thank god they couldn’t prove it was us because I think Yu-ayi would’ve disowned me right then and there.”

“... Hm.”

Wei Ying smiles at him. It’s a very nice smile, like all his smiles, but there’s a shade of nervousness to it that makes Lan Wangji want to do something, anything, to take it away. Wei Ying should always smile without worry. “Hey. We’re okay, right?”

Lan Wangji nods. He opens his mouth to say something else, but suddenly, a loud voice yells from the living area.

Wei Wuxian! Why the fuck are there chickens in the house?!”

 

 

 

He ends up staying in the house nursing his hangover for most of the day. Wen Ning swings by to drop off Jin Ling, looking as awake and guileless as he usually is despite Lan Wangji clearly remembering him knocking back at least half a jug of the wine last night. The only comfort Lan Wangji has is that Jiang Cheng looks just as awful as he feels.

After dinner, he retreats into his room. He sits in front of his qin for a long time. Something is itching underneath his skin. But whenever he closes his eyes, all he sees is Wei Ying. Wei Ying in the morning, sleep-rumpled and inviting. Wei Ying drenched in sunset gold, soft and beautiful. Wei Ying draped with evening shadows, quiet and just out of reach. Wei Ying across from him at the dinner table, eyes bright and laughter spilling out of him like starlight.

Lan Wangji takes a deep breath. When he starts playing, the melody takes shape in the way Wei Ying’s mouth forms his name, the way Wei Ying talks to A-Yuan with infinite patience, the way Wei Ying greets the aunties and uncles in the village by name. The song he plucks from the strings runs gentle, like a whispered caress. Less haunting than the song he wrote when he was fifteen, for a boy he barely knew, but wanted to. This song spells out yearning in earnest waves, rising up to something hopeful. 

“That’s beautiful,” he hears, and Lan Wangji startles. He looks up to find Wei Ying standing in the doorway. “Is that an original piece?”

“Mm,” Lan Wangji says. “My creative block seems to have finally relented.”

“That’s great!” Wei Ying steps into the room, leaning against the wall. “You know, I still can’t believe I didn’t know you were Hanguang-jun. I asked Wen Qing about it today and apparently everybody knew? And you let me use your song! That must be why the numbers on my videos jumped so suddenly overnight. I feel kind of bad, though.”

Lan Wangji frowns. “Why?”

“Because now it looks like I’m using you to climb to popularity! I only used your song because it came up first in the search but people have been commenting about Hanguang-jun and now it turns out it’s you all this time!”

“I like your videos,” Lan Wangji says honestly. “If I can help in some way to let more people see your content, I would be glad to.”

Wei Ying stares at him, mouth open. For a moment, Lan Wangji thinks maybe he offended him, but then, he bursts out, “Lan Zhan, you—you can’t just say things like that! Aiyaaaah, don’t look at me, I’m all red.”

It’s true there is a pretty pink flush spreading across Wei Ying’s face. Lan Wangji looks away if only because his heartbeat has started to stutter and it would be rude if he went into cardiac arrest in the middle of a conversation. “I mean it,” he says. “If you are comfortable with it, I would like to share your videos on my social media accounts.”

“You don't have to.”

“I want to.”

Wei Ying shakes his head, but he is smiling. “Only if you want to.”

“Mn.” Lan Wangji looks at the folded blankets in Wei Ying’s arms. “Did you need me for something?”

“Oh!” Wei Ying straightens. A sheepish expression crosses his face. “I wanted to ask... You can say no! It’s just. Jiang Cheng is staying over for at least another day, and he and Jin Ling are camped out in my room, so. If you’re comfortable with it, I was wondering... if we can share your bed again? Just for sleeping!”

Wei Ying keeps rambling, but Lan Wangji is still stuck on share your bed. His mind flashes back to this morning, waking up with the feeling of Wei Ying’s body sprawled over his own, that solid warm weight pressing him down in the present. 

“—just gonna take the sofa outside, it’s just that it’s stone and wood and not very comfortable—but it’s fine! I can handle it for just one night! It’s okay!”

Lan Wangji stands. Wei Ying shuts his mouth with an audible click, watching him with wide eyes. A heartbeat passes. “Stay,” Lan Wangji says. “You can stay.”

“Are you sure?” 

“Mm. It is fine.”

Wei Ying hesitates, and then bounds further into the room. “Yeah, I guess it is! Since we already slept together last night and all.” He gives Lan Wangji a cheeky grin.

Looking away, Lan Wangji mutters, “Shameless,” but Wei Ying just laughs. While Wei Ying sets up his blankets on the bed, Lan Wangji turns back to his music. He plays through the refrain again, carefully noting down the parts he likes in his notebook. He manages another three bars before he realizes Wei Ying is humming along. Only, he’s not humming the melody. 

“Are you... harmonizing with me?”

Wei Ying looks up from his phone. “Oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to, I’ll be quiet.”

“No, it’s,” Lan Wangji starts. He glances at the guqin, then back up at Wei Ying. He feels as if he is standing at the edge of a waterfall. Should he take the plunge? Would Wei Ying be waiting on the other side? “Would you like to help me with this song?” 

Wei Ying blinks at him. Then he smiles, slow and steady. “Yeah,” he says. “Let’s do it.”

No, Lan Wangji realizes, Wei Ying would not be waiting on the other side. Because he is right there beside him. Holding out a hand for Lan Wangji to take, saying, Lan Zhan, let’s go together.

Lan Wangji likes that much better. 

 

 

 

 

 

bamboo cutting ft. guqin prince 

100,723 views • July 16th

Yiling Laozu

is it summer or is it hotter than
usual here... the uncles let us harvest
bamboo and my friend volunteered!
isn’t gege the strongest~
consider tipping to feed our bamboo baby

11,491 comments SORT BY

junip3rtr33 THOSE ARMS. GODAM

YUNA Isn’t that!!!!!!!!!

brightening HANGUANGJUN????

MrsLAN Hanguang-jun!! What is he doing out there?

dandan nood guys we’ve only seen a flash of his profile it isn’t confirmed

Emily11 HAS ANYONE SCREENSHOTTED THAT SPLIT SECOND AND ZOOMED IN YET HELLO

heiheiheh why is everyone yelling about hgj im so sorry mr laozu for the disrespect

pplmountainpplsea it’s nice this channel’s ratings have gone up but if it’s all just rabid fans... /shrug emoji

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Over there! I saw it go over there!”

“Rich-gege, catch it!”

Lan Wangji turns, throwing out a hand to keep himself from losing balance and falling face-first into the bed of mud. He scans the surrounding area, but he cannot see what the children saw. It is mid-afternoon and he should be tweaking his new and yet untitled song. Instead, he is down by the stream, knee-deep in mud, surrounded by screaming children as they hunt for frogs.

“I caught one but it ran away!” Jin Ling yells.

“No, you didn’t, I caught it,” Jingyi says.

“Nuh-uh!”

“Uh-huh!”

The stream is shallow, barely coming up to the children’s shins. They’re standing in mud from rain the night before, shoes tossed up the bank under the shade of a tree. Jin Ling has mud on his face and his expensive clothing that reminds Lan Wangji of the tiny polo tees and vests of his own childhood are grass-stained and dirty beyond repair. He has a feeling Jiang Cheng will be yelling later when they go back. A-Yuan and the other village children are just as grimy, but with their worn shorts and stretched t-shirts, it looks like any other summer day. For them, Lan Wangji supposes, it is.

Painstakingly pulling his feet out of the mud, Lan Wangji lurches over to pull the boys apart. He’s only heard good things about Jiang Yanli, and decidedly character-assassination things about her husband from both Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng—the one thing they can agree on, apparently—but so far Jin Ling seems like a miniature Jiang Cheng in temperament. Jingyi, Lan Wangji is pretty sure, eggs him on for the pure entertainment of it. There, he can see Wei Ying’s influence clear as day.

“Fighting is counterproductive,” he says. The children pause in trying to reach each other to look up at him in confusion. Carefully, he sets them down on the ground, standing between them. “What has happened has happened,” he explains. “You both share a common goal. If you work together, you can reach it faster than pointing fingers.”

Jingyi frowns. He looks dubiously at Jin Ling. “I guess. But Princess Jin Ling here didn’t even want to get into the mud at first so maybe he doesn’t actually want to catch a frog.”

“I do, too!” Jin Ling’s face is red from yelling. “I just didn’t want to get my clothes dirty!”

“Clothes can be washed, dummy!”

“I know that!”

“Stop,” Lan Wangji says, holding out his hands to stop them from going at each other again. “What did I just say?”

A-Yuan pops out from behind his legs. “A-Yi, A-Ling, come on, Xiao-Su said she saw one over there!” He tugs both boys by the arm and pulls. Lan Wangji watches the three of them splash through the mud, Jingyi and Jin Ling still making faces at each other behind A-Yuan’s back even as their hands are clasped tight around A-Yuan’s hands.

He looks down at his own mud-splattered clothes. In the two months he’s been here, he’s pretty desensitized by the mess by now. If only Uncle can see him now. He can imagine all too clearly the look of horror, the choked words of disbelief. Even more so, Lan Wangji can imagine Wei Ying’s wild, uncontrollable laughter in response. And his brother, his brother would hide a smile behind his hands, and he would say—

“Wangji!”

That sounds like his brother, yes. Lan Wangji nods to himself, and then stops. That sounds exactly like his brother. He looks up.

Ge,” he says, stunned. By the tree line, a few metres from where the children had casted off their things, stands Lan Xichen. He’s dressed in his usual pressed slacks and pristine dress shirt, looking a bit out of place in the unruly outdoors. His shoes must be scuffed with dirt, but Xichen is here and he is smiling like it’s a regular Tuesday and he has shown up at Lan Wangji’s apartment with dinner from their favourite yue cai restaurant. Lan Wangji stares. 

“Wangji,” Xichen says. He waves. “They told me you’d be down here.”

Lan Wangji nods. He’s distracted by a tug on his sleeve. Tearing his eyes away from the mirage of his brother—his brother!—he finds Zizhen standing beside him. “Who is that?” the boy asks. 

“That,” says Lan Wangji, “is my brother.”

Zizhen’s eyes widen. “Rich-gege has a gege?” He pauses, thinking. Then, “Is your gege Super-Rich-gege?”

“His name is Xichen.”

As Lan Wangji makes his way over to his brother, the children abandon their search for frogs and waddle after him. He can only imagine the sight they must present. Mud-streaked, dirty and wet, noisily stumbling along. Right out of Uncle’s nightmares, probably.

“Brother,” Lan Wangji says. “You’re... here.”

“I am,” Lan Xichen confirms. He smiles at the children. They blink at him, and then swing their heads to blink at Lan Wangji, and then back at Lan Xichen. “Hello. I am Wangji’s older brother.”

“How come you look the same?” Jingyi asks.

Jin Ling smacks him in the shoulder. “You can’t just ask them that! It’s rude!”

“How is it rude?!” 

Lan Wangji steps in and lifts Jin Ling up by the armpits, plopping him down on the other side of Zizhen. Lan Xichen looks on, amused. He answers, “We get that a lot. But I am actually four years older than my didi.

“How much is that?” Zizhen asks.

“Thirty.”

That makes the children pause. Little hands are thrust out as they start to count. Jin Ling scrunches up his face and then goes, “That’s too many years!”

“Well then,” Lan Xichen says, “how old are you?”

Jin Ling puffs up his little chest. “I am six!”

“Yeah, well, I am seven,” Jingyi says. “So I win.”

“That’s not how it works!”

“Is, too!”

Lan Wangji sighs, reaching out to stop them from brawling again. Zizhen is no help, cowering behind his legs, his hands leaving muddy prints all over the back of his shirt. Meanwhile, A-Yuan has edged over to Lan Xichen with his own muddy palms. 

“Rich -gege’s gege,” the boy says. “I think I will call you Smile-gege!”

“Ah. Thank you.”

Lan Wangji clears his throat. “It is late,” he says. “Let’s return to the house and clean up so we can help Granny with the jiaozi.”

“We’re making jiaozi for dinner?”

Jiaozi, jiaozi!

It takes a solid ten minutes to round everyone up. The kids each grabbed their belongings, but then Xiao-Su reported her shoe is missing, so they spent another few minutes looking around the area. Jingyi finds it wedged behind a rock in the middle of the stream. Finally, trailing mud and quickly-drying stream water, they make their way back into the village.

“You did not tell me you were visiting,” Lan Wangji says to his brother.

“It was a surprise to me, too,” Lan Xichen says. “Mingjue wanted to check up on his brother and cousin and invited me along.”

“I see. You’re staying with them, then?”

“Yes.” The glance Lan Xichen gives him is familiar in all the ways his big brother is. Equal amounts searching and teasing. Lan Wangji braces himself. “How is your roommate?”

“He is fine.”

“He takes great care of you, hm?”

“And I, him,” Lan Wangji says. He hurries to add, “We all take care of each other. Everyone here does. The world is better when your neighbours are happy and healthy.”

Lan Xichen nods. “I am glad you are doing well here, Wangji. When I suggested you go into seclusion, I have to admit this was not the sort of place I’d imagined you staying in. But if you are doing alright, then I can set aside my worries.”

If Lan Wangji’s most treasured memories were of his mother’s voice and hands in his hair, then his favourite memories were of his brother’s steady presence beside him as they grew, side by side. When he was frustrated over messing up scales again and again, his brother was there to pull him aside until he was calm enough to play them right. When he was overwhelmed by their uncle’s demands and the world’s constant noise, his brother was the one to bring him his favourite snacks and his most prized stuffed bunny until he was ready to face the world again. His brother has always looked out for him. Even now, after Lan Wangji tried to repay the favour and created a huge scandalous mess instead, Lan Xichen is still thinking about him. 

He wants to say something—something along the lines of I’m alright, don’t worry about me anymore. Or, You deserve to be happy, too, instead of looking after me all the time. But before he can gather his words, they have rounded the corner to the house. There is someone crouched in the yard under the window.

A-Yuan and Jingyi take a running leap straight at the suspicious figure. There’s a strangled yelp, a scuffle, and by the time Lan Wangji, Lan Xichen, and the rest of the children approach, Jingyi is sitting triumphantly on Nie Huaisang’s back.

“I caught him!”

“Argh!” Nie Huaisang says, spitting out grass. “Get off me, little monkey!”

“I’m not a monkey!”

A-Yuan tugs Jingyi off the man’s back. Lan Wangji stares down at Nie Huaisang trying in vain to dust off his clothes. “Spying on others is rude.”

“I wasn’t spying. I was going to ask Wei-xiong if he could hide me from da-ge—” 

He’s cut off by a loud yell from inside the house. 

“—don’t want to! I told you already, I’m not going back!”

“Bullshit. I said I would back you up, didn’t I? A-jie agrees with me, she doesn’t want to see you spending the rest of your life hiding like this. Don’t you feel ashamed? You’re wasting your life!”

“It’s my life, Jiang Cheng. I’m not hiding. You’re all better off without me, anyway—”

“Wei Wuxian! Stop being the martyr for one goddamn second!” Something shatters inside. A string of muffled curses follows.

Lan Wangji exchanges a look with Nie Huaisang. Wordlessly, they usher the kids around the back to the garden hose. Lan Xichen trails after them, expression thoughtful. The shouting inside the house is obscured from the back. The children must sense the tension in the air because they keep quiet as they huddle in a messy clump. Lan Wangji cranks the old pump until water starts flowing, and they begin the process of hosing the mud off everyone’s skin.

“Rich-gege,” A-Yuan says. Lan Wangji hands the hose over to his brother and leans down to listen. “How come Wei-gege and Loud-gege are fighting? Is it because I left my toys all over the table again?”

“No,” Lan Wangji says. “It’s not your fault, A-Yuan.”

“Then why?”

Lan Wangji hesitates. “I believe they are in disagreement about what to do.”

A-Yuan’s face scrunches up. “But they’re geges! Shouldn’t they know what to do?”

“Here’s a secret, monkey-child,” Nie Huaisang says from where he is leaning against the side of the house, fanning himself. “Grownups rarely know what to do. The ones that say they do are most likely lying.”

Lan Wangji sighs. He’s not wrong. But they were probably not supposed to teach these kids cynicism before they learn it themselves. He reaches out and pats A-Yuan on the head the way he’s seen Wei Ying do many times before, minus the vigorous hair-ruffling. “They’ll figure it out,” he says. “We all do, one way or another.”

 

 

 

“Lan Zhan! You didn’t tell me your brother was visiting!”

“I did not know either,” Lan Wangji says.

Wei Ying shuffles around on the bed. He’s sprawled across two-thirds of it, pillow strewn across his middle. His knees brush against Lan Wangji’s thigh every time he moves. Lan Wangji does his best not to react. Wei Ying peers up at him, eyes wide and sparkling. “You guys look alike, huh. He smiles a lot more, though.”

“Mm. A-Yuan calls him Smile-gege.

“Haha, I heard!” Wei Ying rolls onto his side. “Were you guys always like that, at home? All nice and polite and stuff? I mean. You’ve seen me and Jiang Cheng. If Granny wasn’t there at the table today, Jiang Cheng would have definitely started a food war with me, and then we wouldn’t have had any jiaozi for dinner.”

“We were not raised to be antagonistic.”

“Jiang Cheng and I aren’t antagonistic! It’s just how brothers are.” Wei Ying frowns at him. “You’ve never experienced the Cain instinct? You guys never fight?”

“We have disagreements. We talk through them until we reach an understanding.”

Wei Ying shakes his head. “How are you real?”

Lan Wangji goes back to his book. During the dumpling making, Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng behaved as usual, sniping and quipping back and forth like wet cats. They didn’t seem to look each other in the eyes; that was the only sign there was anything wrong. Nie Huaisang had sent him a wide-eyed look across the table before being distracted by Mo Xuanyu accidentally ripping his dumpling wrapper in half, scrawny figure frozen at the end of the table as his mouth started to wobble dangerously. The proceeding damage control even had Jiang Cheng awkwardly leaning over to help the boy start filling another dumpling. So Lan Wangji kept quiet and allowed himself to be entertained by the aunties, who cooed over the fact that their village seems to be attracting handsome young men at every turn.

Now, though. It is an hour before Lan Wangji’s self-prescribed bedtime, which Wei Ying is nice enough to respect now that they are sharing a b—a room. For sleeping. Until Jiang Cheng leaves tomorrow. They are as alone as they can be. Lan Wangji slides his finger down the page. He keeps his voice down and asks, “Is everything alright between you and your brother?”

“Hah? Yes, why?”

“We heard you... shouting. In the afternoon.”

“Ah.” Wei Ying rolls onto his back. He spends a minute just staring at the ceiling. “It’s nothing, really. He’s just trying to convince me to go back. He’s basically taken over the company, now, and he wants me to be his right-hand man, basically. Even though I’ve been blacklisted by everyone he’s working with.”

“It’s not safe for you there?”

“No, it’s—I don’t want to drag anyone down with me. Associating with me has only ever been bad news.”

“That is not true,” Lan Wangji says. “I have learned a lot from associating with you the last two months.”

“That’s not me, though, that’s the Wen siblings and A-Yuan and his minions.”

“And you,” Lan Wangji insists.

Wei Ying waves a hand. “Okay, okay. Still. My handy know-all about vegetable planting and fixing household tools does nothing for Jiang Cheng. It’ll only be a matter of time before I fuck things up again.”

“You want to stay here?”

“Where else can I go?” Wei Ying closes his eyes. “Don’t get me wrong. I love it here. Wen Qing’s family has taken me in as one of their own, no questions asked. I will always be in their debt. But—Jiang Cheng is my brother. I promised him I would always be by his side, you know. We were kids back then, but... I just feel guilty either way. If he’s still waiting for me to come home...”

Lan Wangji closes his book and sets it aside. He looks at Wei Ying. “What do you want, Wei Ying? If you can do whatever you want to, what would you do?”

A long moment passes. “I want,” says Wei Ying softly, “to live without regrets. I want to see A-Yuan grow up. I want to help Wen Qing help her family, so that Granny can live without worries. I want to be able to visit my sister without Yu -ayi talking down on the three of us, I want to teach A-Ling how to swim so we can chase Jiang Cheng around the lake together. 

“I want to settle down with somebody, to come home to them after a day’s hard work. I want to fall asleep in their arms knowing that tomorrow will bring just as much contentment.” Wei Ying drags in a breath. “I want to continue to do calligraphy the way I like to.”

Quiet falls between them following Wei Ying’s confession. Lan Wangji studies the way Wei Ying’s eyelashes cast shadows on his cheeks, the loose curls framing his face. Without thinking too hard about it, he reaches out to brush a stray curl from Wei Ying’s forehead. When Wei Ying opens his eyes at the touch, Lan Wangji holds his gaze.

“What about you, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks, voice barely above a whisper. “What do you want?”

Lan Wangji thinks about the nearly-finished song sitting by his qin. He thinks about the surprised-but-not-unpleasantly-so expression on his brother’s face when he found Lan Wangji playing in the mud with the village children. He thinks about waking up to Wei Ying’s limbs tangled around his after latching onto him some time during the night, about the tranquility that somehow exists in the chaos of Wei Ying’s shed. 

“I also,” says Lan Wangji, “want to live without regrets. You taught me that. I would like to learn more.”

Wei Ying smiles at him, a gentle sunrise. Helplessly, Lan Wangji smiles back.

 

 

 

 

[meals are better when shared #45] dumpling darling~

90,132 views • July 21st

Yiling Laozu

the kids had a competition for best jiaozi but
i think some of them fell apart in the cooking
process... don't tell them shhh
like and subscribe for more wholesome content!!

6108 comments SORT BY

g0dzillas i used to make these with my ma; she passed away last yr but i always associate jiaozi w/her. thank you for the video!

Yiling Laozu jiaozi truly is the best bonding activity!! may ur ma rest in peace <3 i hope this video brought u some joy !

pplmountainpplsea mr laozu pls spare your tastebuds... that is too much laoshigong

yumi chan 5:18 this man and those arms... i am Looking respectfully

YUNA I’m screenshotting this and adding it to my “Hanguang-jun is hanging out with Yiling Laozu for some reason” folder...

Chowza girl cmon just enjoy these vids dont turn it into a conspiray

YUNA It’s not a conspiracy, and I have been following YL for years now, I just also happen to be a fan of Hanguang-jun... +readmore

lianhua3 The jiaozi look so delicious! I’m glad the kids had fun making them :D

heiheiheh shoutout to the kid in the ironed polo who tripped and sprayed flour all over himself

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The departure of Wei Ying’s brother and nephew is a loud and sorrowful affair. Jin Ling is valiantly trying not to cry as the other village children cling onto him in a messy group hug. Zizhen is blubbering over his clothes and Jingyi’s clothes, Jingyi is demanding Jin Ling write them every week or else, and A-Yuan is pushing several rocks into Jin Ling’s hands. Apparently they’re ‘special magical rocks’ that the children all pooled together from their own collections over the years. 

Meanwhile, Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng are standing off to the side, staring each other down. Lan Wangji watches them out of the corner of his eye. He’s never sure if they’re ready to break into a fight or burst into laughter. He has given up guessing. 

Jiang Cheng is the first to break the silence. “There will be a family dinner for popo’s eightieth birthday. They’ll be expecting you there.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to go,” Wei Ying says. 

A-jie will be there.”

Wei Ying hesitates. “Jiang Cheng...”

“If you want to hide out here like a fugitive for the rest of your life, that’s your choice. Don’t expect me to make excuses for you.” Jiang Cheng is scowling again. Lan Wangji feels himself bristling with the urge to defend Wei Ying, but the man continues. “You’re wasted out here and you know it, Wei Wuxian. If you won’t listen to me, at least find the guts to face a-jie like a man.”

“I’m not hiding.”

“Sure,” Jiang Cheng scoffs. “I left you Luo-xiaojie ’s number. I’m telling her to expect a call within the next month, you hear me?”

Wei Ying sighs. “Fine. But no promises.”

“Next time I visit I won’t bring Jin Ling.”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Try me.”

“I’ll tell a-jie on you.”

“You—!”

Just as Lan Wangji is ready to step in for real—maybe he should consider adding ‘professional children-wrangler’ to his resume—Jin Ling shrieks from across the yard. “Jiujiu! Can I invite A-Yuan and Jingyi and Zizhen for a sleepover!”

Jiang Cheng sends his brother one last glare before hitching up his bags and heading over to open negotiations with a bunch of first- and second-graders. Wei Ying stares after him. The ever-present smile on his face fades, just a little bit. Lan Wangji despises the fact that Jiang Cheng can take away that smile so easily. He despises his own helplessness in the face of Wei Ying’s unhappiness even more.

Eventually, after being gently bullied into agreeing with more promises about future visits and sleepovers between the children than intended, Jiang Cheng manages to bundle Jin Ling into the truck. Wen Ning is waiting politely in the driver’s seat. The children wave and yell after the truck long after the dust settles back down. Wei Ying shoots Lan Wangji a smile as if saying What can you do? and then skillfully distracts the children from the loss of their new friend by persuading them to help with the berry-picking. 

“Everyone gets a basket,” Wei Ying says. “You can eat some if you wipe it off but if you swallow a bug, don’t complain to me!”

“Let’s see who can pick the most!” A-Yuan says.

“What does the winner get?” Jingyi asks.

Wei Ying taps his nose. “They can get the first taste of the jam, how about that?”

The kids clamour around him, shaking their little baskets. Lan Wangji watches on with no small amount of fondness as Wei Ying hands them a tiny stepladder with instructions to take turns and always have one person spotting the other before sending them on their way. They disappear into the rows of mulberry trees, shouting and laughing. 

“They will return stained and sticky,” Lan Wangji says.

Wei Ying laughs. “I would be disappointed if they didn’t! Now come on, we’ll take on the loquats over here.”

Lan Wangji holds the basket patiently as Wei Ying shows him how to check if the fruit is ripe enough to be picked. The loquats were bright amongst the leaves. Bugs buzzed in the distance, the sunlight beaming down firmly from above. He can feel sweat starting to gather at the small of his back, but he is used to the feeling by now. With Wei Ying’s constant commentary by his side, summer is far from uncomfortable.

He lets himself settle, lets Wei Ying’s cheerful babbling wash over him like a second wave of sunshine. But he keeps thinking about the faded smile on Wei Ying’s face before, the tension in Wei Ying’s shoulders whenever his family is mentioned. It takes him the better part of an hour to find the courage to breach the subject.

“Wei Ying,” he starts, keeping his eyes on the bundle of loquats in front of him. “About what your brother said...”

“Hm? Ah, don’t worry about it, Lan Zhan. That’s just how Jiang Cheng is. He’s like one of those loud, yappy dogs, you know, the horrendous little monsters that bite your ankles, but his heart’s in the right place.”

Lan Wangji drops another loquat into the basket. “He should not demand you do what he says like that.”

Wei Ying makes a face. “I mean, he’s just trying to help me save some face. Since I ended my contract under the company and came here, the family hasn’t been very happy with me. I got all mixed up with bad press over Wen Qing’s case, so really, he’s trying to help me get back in their good graces. Besides, aren’t you the one raised all proper? Respecting your elders must be ingrained in you, too.”

It is true Lan Wangji was raised with strict rules under the Confucian school of thought. Xiaoshun zhangbei 孝順長輩 is one of the first rules he remembers copying. Do not talk back to your elders, abide by your elders’ wishes, be courteous to your elders and thus you will become a good, filial child. Good, filial children keep their head down and do not upset their elders with their own frivolous rebellious thoughts. Uncle had always emphasized filial piety in his teachings, but he does so alongside the understanding that one’s elders should have the children’s best interests at heart. Lan Wangji used to wonder how a child is supposed to know if the elders could uphold their end of the deal when they often choose to berate instead of explain their upset. His brother had taught him that sometimes, as the younger generation, it is their duty to nod along to the elders but choose their own paths, make their own choices on what is right. Family is complicated, but in the end, everyone is trying to look out for each other.

“Respecting elders,” says Lan Wangji slowly, “should not come at the cost of disrespecting yourself.”

Wei Ying is quiet for a while. “Ah, Lan Zhan. You’re too good. But I don’t know if that applies to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I never belonged with the Jiangs. They took me in, put a roof over my head, raised me alongside their own children. Provided me with the resources and education befit of a young master so that I may repay their kindness one day. But not only did I throw away everything they gave me, I had the nerve to disgrace their name before running away like a coward. I owe them too much.” Wei Ying gives a small, bitter smile. “The least I can do is show up to popo’s birthday dinner.”

“But you would rather not go.”

“Ugh, Lan Zhan, that’s not the point! I have to show my face so they know I’m alive and not rotting away in jail or something. You know how the aunties and uncles are, the gossip mill needs feed to run.”

“One should not gossip,” Lan Wangji says.

“Is that one of your rules?”

“Mn. They should not use you for their gossip.”

Wei Ying looks at him. His lips are still pulled up into a faint smile, but it’s softer than the crooked thing he was wearing earlier. It simultaneously makes Lan Wangji want to run away and yet never look away. “Aiyah, don’t say things like that, Lan Zhan. I might take it the wrong way.”

And what way is that? Lan Wangji wants to ask. Why would it be wrong? He directs his next words to the loquat in his hand. “Wei Ying should do what makes him happy,” he says.

“That’s very sweet of you. But like I said. It’s not that easy.”

Lan Wangji wants to argue. Living with Wei Ying for nearly three months now, Lan Wangji has started to file away every scrap piece of the man he has managed to glimpse. Every bit more of Wei Ying revealed to him is precious. Wei Ying is a happy man by nature, endlessly kind, and would rather hold grudges for other people than himself. He’s forgetful and cheerful and doesn’t know how to take a sincere compliment. He is quick to laugh and likes to make others laugh. Nothing is impossible for him. To see him so down over his family fills Lan Wangji with heavy discomfort. 

He doesn’t want to fight with Wei Ying. More than that, he doesn’t want to face his own hypocrisy.

They pick the rest of the loquats in silence. 

 

 

 

 

A week later, he’s fiddling with his compositions in his room when his brother knocks on the door. 

“Am I interrupting you?”

Lan Wangji shakes his head. “Do you want tea?”

“Please.”

He clears the table and goes to reheat the water for the pot. When he returns to the room, his brother is sitting in the single chair, looking over the draft of the music sheet he had left on the side. “Ah,” Lan Wangji says. “That is...”

“A collaboration?” Lan Xichen taps the scribbles and doodles on the side, the messy scrawl clearly nothing like Lan Wangji’s own handwriting. “Is it Wei Wuxian?”

Lan Wangji busies himself with pouring the tea. “Yes,” he says eventually.

His brother accepts the tea with a smile. His eyes are sharp above the rim of the cup. “Is that why you chose this village?”

“No,” Lan Wangji says honestly. “I did not know he would be here. He has been living here for years now.”

“I see. And did you tell him?”

“Tell him?”

“About how long you have been searching for him.”

“I did not.”

“How come?”

“There is no need to.” Lan Wangji takes a sip of tea. “He does not remember me.”

“He does not...” His brother frowns at him. “And you are alright with this?”

Lan Wangji nods. “He does not owe me anything. We have become friends, regardless. He is helping me write a song. Everything has turned out better than I imagined.”

Lan Xichen studies him. His brother has always been good at reading him, somehow able to tell his bad moods from his good moods even when Lan Wangji’s expression remains the same. Now, however, Lan Wangji isn’t sure if his brother will be able to glean anything. How can his brother figure out his feelings if he himself does not know what exactly he is feeling?

“I did not know Wei Wuxian writes songs,” Lan Xichen says.

“He is self-taught. He plays the dizi well.”

“Does he? I do remember he was quite a fast-learner.” Lan Xichen pauses. “Have you thought about what name to publish the song under? Even if Wei Wuxian is better known in calligraphy circles, I imagine the elders at the agency might protest to have his name in conjunction with Hanguang-jun.”

Frowning, Lan Wangji says, “Wei Ying is more than his past or the rumours that others have projected onto him. This song would not have existed without him.”

“Ah, forgive me, Wangji. I meant no offense.”

“... Mn.” Silence stretches between them as they both take a long sip of tea. Lan Wangji knows his brother is only trying to watch out for him. But he wants to talk to Xichen -ge , the person he is closest to in this world, not Lan Xichen, executive talent manager from the Lan Agency. He puts down his cup. “How is Nie Mingjue?”

Lan Xichen’s expression brightens. “He is well. He says it’s refreshing seeing you interact with the children so well. Even Xuanyu has said good things about you, and that boy might be shyer than you were as a child.”

 “Ah. I’m glad.”

“Oh, he’d like to invite you over for dinner before we leave. Wei Wuxian is welcome, too.”

“That sounds nice.”

Lan Xichen smiles, and then looks down at his tea. Lan Wangji watches him with the understanding that they’re finally arriving at the main reason his brother decided to visit him this afternoon. “After Mingjue’s last movie wraps up,” Lan Xichen says, “I’m going to be moving in with him.”

Whatever Lan Wangji expected, it wasn’t that. But when he thinks about it, he realizes he’s not as surprised as he should be. “I’m happy for you.” He pauses. “Does Uncle know?”

“Not yet. We’re arranging to meet with him for a meal when we return to the city.”

“You’re telling him?”

Lan Xichen smiles, a strange twist to his lips. “He raised us to be honest men, after all. Uncle is traditional but he is not unreasonable. I think he might have known this was coming even if we didn’t explicitly say so.”

“He values your happiness.”

“Yes. Yours, too. That’s why, even if we might never be able to hold a proper tea ceremony, I know he would still attend if given the choice.” Lan Xichen takes a breath. He puts down his cup and straightens to meet Lan Wangji’s eyes. “Wangji, I never got to thank you properly. For what you said to the elders at the agency. I know I said this before to you on the phone, but truly. It means a lot, especially since... Mingjue was quite moved when he heard what happened as well. You were always braver than I am, Wangji. For staying with your ideals and truths, even though the world of entertainment tries to tear that out of you at every turn. I’ve done a lot of thinking these months on what you’ve said, and... I think you’re right. Just because our work is dependent on an audience to appreciate it doesn’t mean we should live our lives for other people. We deserve to be happy on our own terms.”

Lan Wangji is at a loss for words. He remembers the low, simmering fury that built and built even as he tried to swallow it back. He remembers biting his tongue until he tasted blood, chafing under the never-ending clamour of voices that dictated what he could wear, what he could say, where he could go. He remembers the whispers that followed his brother after some photos of him and their most popular martial arts stunt actor spending time together was released on an anonymous blog, despite the fact that they went through school together, despite the fact that Xichen has never been anything less than polite and charming. He remembers sitting in his dark apartment, staring out at the neon city lights and resigning himself to remaining forever alone. 

Ge,” Lan Wangji says haltingly. “If I said I wanted to stop making music... what would you say?”

His brother blinks at him. His eyes soften, and Lan Wangji suddenly feels ten years old again, meekly allowing his older brother to bandage his fingers after playing the guqin for too long. “If that is what you want, I will support you. If you want to stay here, I will support you.”

“... I do not know if that is what I want.”

“That’s alright. Wangji.” Lan Xichen waits until Lan Wangji meets his gaze again. “It’s okay to be a little selfish when it comes to your own happiness. I don’t think you were an unhappy child, growing up, but before coming here and seeing you around the children, around Wei Wuxian... I’ve never seen you so relaxed. Free. If it is something that makes you happy...”

“Keep it,” Lan Wangji murmurs. 

His brother smiles at him. “Yes.”

“And you? Are you happy?”

Lan Xichen looks out the window. His fingers play with the silver watch on his wrist, a gift from Nie Mingjue for his birthday years ago. It is old and has had to be repaired numerous times by now, but Lan Wangji has seen the way Nie Mingjue still lights up when he sees it. “Yes,” Lan Xichen says. “I believe so.”

Their conversation turns to lighter things as they finish the rest of the tea. Lan Wangji finds himself returning to the draft of sheet music on the table. He’s mostly finished transcribing the work onto his composing program by now. Wei Ying has provided a wonderful tentative harmony to the core melody Lan Wangji had sketched out; they’d spent long nights working away in the shed, playing and talking until Lan Wangji’s eyes started to droop. It’s nothing like his own music-writing process from before.

He likes it. He likes it a lot.

He’s listening to his brother recount a tale of the last time Nie Mingjue busted one of Nie Huaisang’s apparently notorious parties when they’re interrupted by the now-familiar sound of the front door banging open. Before they can even stand up, A-Yuan comes barrelling into the room, face red with exertion and tears.

Alarmed, Lan Wangji immediately moves to kneel next to the child. “A-Yuan, what’s wrong?”

“Rich-gege! ” A-Yuan cries, little hands grasping onto Lan Wangji’s shirt. “You have to come! It’s Wei-gege !”

His insides turn to ice. Lan Wangji grabs hold of the boy’s shoulders. “What happened to Wei Ying?”

“Wei-gege, he—he fell down from the roof and there was a—a bad sound and Qing-jiejie said not to move him and is he going to die, Rich-gege , is Wei-gege going to die?”

Lan Wangji turns and meets his brother’s eyes. Lan Xichen is already moving towards the door. “Come, A-Yuan,” Lan Wangji says. “Take me to Wei Ying.”

 

 

 

 

 

a jammin’ good time

102,337 views • July 27th

Yiling Laozu

yes i absolutely got yelled at by qing-jie
for the sticky stained mess the kids ended up
but in my defense, we made some fabulous jam!
thank u for all the views and new subs~
this will be the last video for a while, sorry!!

7572 comments SORT BY

heiheiheh “last video for a while” uhhh laozu sir?? explain

pplmountainpplsea i hope it’s just personal matters and nothing serious;;

2zi22 I went mulberry picking last summer, it was so much fun!

June X 3:24 there’s The Pretty Gege again

YUNA I’m trying to imagine HGJ picking loquats orz

yangguang i want to see his faaaaace

MissBunny32 Hanguang-jun shared more of Yiling Laozu’s videos on Weibo!! 

Radish Baby is it ACTUALLY this hanguang-jun guy?? can anyone confirm

nya sir im surprised there’s enough berry pulp to make jam considering the kids spilled half the bucket

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It was a clean break, the doctor said, and it will heal nicely in time granted he puts minimal pressure on it and rests properly. This means that Wei Ying is not allowed to work in the fields, or take the kids swimming, or go fishing in the river, or play tag with A-Yuan, or basically any of the things he spends his days doing. 

Wei Ying does not take this well.

“I’m fine!” he insists from where he is laid up in his bed after one of the uncles and Wen Qing drove him back from the hospital in the town. His leg is elevated on top of one of the thick winter quilts, folded up neatly so it wouldn’t topple over. “You don’t have to hover, I can take care of myself!”

“I know,” Lan Wangji says. “But you don’t have to.”

Wei Ying smiles at him, but his eyes slide away. “You’re really too nice to me, Lan Zhan. Don’t you know you shouldn’t spoil children? They’ll get used to it and become useless themselves.”

“... You are not a child.”

That draws out a different kind of smile from Wei Ying, like he’s remembering an old joke. “Guess I’m not.”

“Wei Ying is not useless.”

“Well, I wasn’t. But now I kind of am. Can’t move and can’t help out. I didn’t even finish fixing that stupid roof. If that bird hadn’t swooped right at me, I wouldn’t even be in this situation. It’s all that bird’s fault, Lan Zhan!”

Lan Wangji stands. Wei Ying has been joking and making light of the situation since they put him on painkillers, and he probably would have been doing so earlier if he wasn’t so busy keeping quiet about how much pain he was in. He truly is the most stubborn man Lan Wangji has ever met. And Lan Wangji is plenty aware of his own flaws. “I will bring you more water,” he says. “Wen Qing said you can have another dose of painkillers before you sleep.”

“Ah, you take such good care of me, Lan Er-gege ~!”

When he returns with the water and the medication, Wei Ying is frowning down at his phone. Lan Wangji places the glass carefully on the bedside table. “Everything alright?” he asks.

“Ah, yeah.” Wei Ying shakes his head, tossing the phone aside. “Just Jiang Cheng bugging me about going back. He sounds like a grandpa, it’s really quite sad. No wonder he’s still single and never ready to mingle.”

“Will you tell him?”

“About what?”

“Your leg.”

Wei Ying goes quiet. “Why would I?” he says, but not meanly. Like he genuinely does not see a point in telling his own family that he fell off the roof and broke his leg. “It’s not like they can drop everything to come out here just for this. I wouldn’t want them to, anyway. Jiang Cheng would probably just yell, but I don’t want to worry my a-jie.

Lan Wangji thinks if it were him, he would want to know. If it were him, he would tell his brother and his uncle because he knows they care about him and would want to know, but he would also tell them not to worry because he is being taken care of. But Wei Ying is not him. So he nods, and offers the glass of water to the other man. 

With permission, Lan Wangji cleans up Wei Ying’s room. He clears the books and clothes, wraps up the cords threading across the floor. At first, he wanted to create a safe path for Wei Ying to use with his crutches, but then he blinked, and the next thing he knows, Wei Ying is exclaiming about how he hasn’t seen the room so spotless since he first moved in. Wei Ying doesn’t like having to rely on others to complete simple tasks, even though he’s been threatened by Wen Qing to ask for help instead of risking further injury to himself. This way, Lan Wangji can at least minimize the harm when Wei Ying staggers his way to his desk or fumbles his way out of bed for one thing or another. 

They fall into a new routine. Lan Wangji still rises hours before Wei Ying. He cooks for the both of them, bringing Wei Ying water and helping him to the toilet when he needs it. He works on his music in his room while Wei Ying edits his videos in his. They share their meals in Wei Ying’s room only because Wei Ying insists he would be too lonely to eat otherwise. 

Barely a week in, Wei Ying becomes restless. 

He’s always kept strange hours of the night, but now Lan Wangji catches him fiddling at his computer when he wakes up at dawn. Wei Ying laughs off the dark circles under his eyes. He starts trying to move to the living area on his own, even though he has been warned not to put unnecessary weight on his leg for at least another two weeks. 

“If you need something, I can get it for you,” Lan Wangji tells him, after catching Wei Ying collapsing on the floor of his room again.

“I know,” Wei Ying says. “I know, Lan Zhan, I just—I just wanted to charge my phone. It’s right there.”

Lan Wangji walks over and plugs the phone in. He turns back, but Wei Ying has his face turned away. His hands are clenched into fists on his thighs. “Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says. “I do not mind helping you.”

Wei Ying barks out a laugh. It’s sharp enough to bleed. “Yeah, you don’t. Because you’re kind, Lan Zhan, you’re so good that you don’t mind that I’m basically a parasite leeching off you now.”

“You are not—”

“I can’t help the uncles in the fields and I can’t even hobble over to help the aunties with the packaging or cooking. I can’t even cross the room without interrupting whatever you were working on and making you run to check on me.”

“I just don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

Wei Ying shakes his head. “Lan Zhan. You don’t need to take care of me like this. You’re here to work on your music, aren’t you? Not to act like a nurse for a good-for-nothing like me. Just leave me alone. I’ll be fine. You don’t have to deal with this.”

Silence falls between them. The sound of bugs screaming outside seems to increase in volume. Lan Wangji’s chest feels tight. Something is churning in his gut; it takes him a long moment to realize it is anger. He has seen Wei Ying laugh at rude comments on his videos, he has seen Wei Ying roll his eyes and deflect Jiang Cheng’s snide remarks. He has seen Wei Ying go quiet and walk away when Wen Qing pointedly talks to him about calligraphy and his past. But he has never seen Wei Ying so bitter and harsh on himself like this. 

Was this what it was like, five years ago? When the brilliant Wei Wuxian threw away everything he worked for and disappeared from the public eye in shame and disgrace?

Lan Wangji is angry. At Wei Ying for holding himself in such low regard, for painting Lan Wangji as someone who is too good to care for someone like Wei Ying. If being good is being someone who cannot stand beside Wei Ying when he needs it, even when he cannot admit to needing it, then Lan Wangji would rather be condemned by the whole world. Wei Ying is worth it. Lan Wangji is angry at everyone in Wei Ying’s past that has made Wei Ying feel this way about himself. And he is angry at himself, for making Wei Ying think he is a burden on Lan Wangji when he is, and will always be, the opposite.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says quietly. “A person’s worth is not determined by their ability to do things for others. Everyone wants you to heal because they want you to be healthy and happy, because they care about you. I am the same. I want to help you not out of obligation, but because I care about you.”

Wei Ying doesn’t say anything. His hands, though, have loosened their grip on his pants.

Taking that as a good sign, Lan Wangji continues, “People are not meant to shoulder the weight of the world on their own. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when it is offered. I am offering my help to you, Wei Ying. Will you let me help you?”

Wei Ying takes a breath. “That’s... very nice of you to say.”

“It is what I consider to be the truth.”

“I know. I... I know that people care about me, to some extent. Sometimes I just... don’t understand why.”

Lan Wangji doesn’t know what to say to that. “Do you care about me?”

“Of course I do.”

“Do you believe me when I say I care about you in return?”

A heartbeat passes. Then another. “Yeah,” Wei Ying whispers. “I’m working on it. You’re still here, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“You’re really sure I’m not, like, taking up your time? Distracting you from your work and stuff?”

Wei Ying is always distracting, though in ways that probably do not belong in this conversation. He doesn’t say this out loud. Besides, Lan Wangji has never minded being distracted by Wei Ying. He holds out his hands. “I promise all my time with you is given freely and willingly.”

Aiyah, stop saying things so sincerely like that. I’ll really fall for you, you know?”

“Mm.” Lan Wangji helps him back up onto the bed. “I will take responsibility.”

“L-Lan Zhan!”

 

 

 

Today, A-Yuan is over. He is sitting on the sofa next to Wei Ying, on the side with the good leg, and they’re both poring over the assortment of patterned paper the boy brought with him. An origami lesson in progress. Lan Wangji has dropped off a plate of cut guava, but when he went to retreat to his own room, A-Yuan pouted at him until he dragged over one of the stools and sat down. One guess where the boy learned that from.

“Now fold it in half like this,” Wei Ying is saying. He has a square of red paper in his hands, waiting patiently for A-Yuan to follow along.

“Like this?”

“Exactly! Wow, you’re so smart, A-Yuan!”

The boy preens. Wei Ying laughs, moving onto the next step. Lan Wangji has brought his music scores over to work on but his hands have stopped moving some time ago. Instead, he watches them fold paper animals. The room is filled with the sound of paper rustling and giggles. He feels more content and settled than he has ever felt anywhere beyond his apartment. He doesn’t know how he will be able to return to that apartment now, with its frigid silence, held high above the bustling of the city.

“Rich-gege !” A-Yuan calls. He waves a newly folded elephant head at him. “You make one, too!”

“Ask nicely, A-Yuan,” Wei Ying chides.

Gege, please?”

Two sets of wide, imploring eyes turn on him. Lan Wangji holds out for nearly a minute before he sets aside his things and scoots over to be handed over a piece of patterned paper. He carefully smooths it out. When he looks back up at Wei Ying, the other man is smiling at him, mouth tilted up in a gentle curve, eyes soft. All the tiredness and frustration from the past week seems like a distant dream. Lan Wangji swallows. He looks at A-Yuan. “What am I folding?” he asks.

A-Yuan beams. “A bunny!”

“I see. Well, then, A-Yuan-laoshi. How do I begin?”

A-Yuan giggles, and Lan Wangji can’t help but smile at the sound. 

“Oh, wait,” Wei Ying says suddenly. He moves to climb out of the sofa, but then thinks better of it. “Lan Zhan, could you please grab the camera from my room? I can make a video out of this—it’s the one on my desk. Oh, and the stand on my dresser! Or wherever you moved it—the one with the red grips on its legs!”

Lan Wangji returns with the mentioned items and follows Wei Ying’s instructions on how to set it up across the table. When Wei Ying is satisfied, Lan Wangji sits back down next to an impatient A-Yuan. The boy waves his piece of paper around. “Can we start now?”

“Yes. Thanks for waiting.”

The afternoon flies by. The table fills with folded animals, planes, and flowers. A-Yuan is fast to pick up on the order of the folds, little hands eager to move onto the next step. Wei Ying helps him with the most difficult angles, and A-Yuan leans into Lan Wangji to teach it to him even though Lan Wangji is way behind. He stares at Wei Ying’s hands going through practiced motions. Then he looks at his own. In theory, this shouldn’t be so hard. Lan Wangji has always prided himself for his meticulousness, and yet. It seems origami is not included in his skillset. His finger catches on the edge of the paper, and he snatches his hand back, hissing.

Gege?” A-Yuan says. “Are you okay?”

“Mm. A papercut.”

Wei Ying reaches over A-Yuan’s head. “Let me see.” He brings Lan Wangji’s hand to his face. His fingers are cool against Lan Wangji’s skin, his breath warm as it fans across his fingers. “Aiyo, Lan Zhan. Here, I will kiss it better for you.” And he does so, a quick peck of his lips before he releases Lan Wangji’s hand. Wei Ying grins. “Be more careful, okay, gege?

“Hngh,” Lan Wangji manages. He clears his throat. Twice. Turning over his half-formed paper frog, he says, “I think I must admit defeat on this one.”

“Why?” A-Yuan asks.

“I’ve folded it wrong three times already.”

“That’s okay!” A-Yuan smiles. “You just unfold it and then refold it! Popo said when I am stuck, I just need to ask for help! It’s okay, gege, A-Yuan will help you.”

Lan Wangji looks up and catches Wei Ying’s eye. The other man is wearing a strange expression on his face, part pride and part something else. Lan Wangji holds out the folded square to A-Yuan. “Please.”

It’s after dinner, with all of the paper crafts carefully displayed along the window sill, that Wei Ying says it. He’s been uncharacteristically quiet throughout the meal, not even gushing about how cute A-Yuan was today. Lan Wangji made sure his bowl was filled and waited. So when Wei Ying finally looks up from perusing the footage they filmed today, Lan Wangji is ready.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says. “Can you help me to the shed?”

 

 

 

Wei Ying needs to take a bath. The problem is, he can’t do it by himself. 

“Haha,” Wei Ying says, hands on the wall to keep himself upright. “Talk about ways to get to know your friend better, huh, right, Lan Zhan?”

Lan Wangji heaves a quiet sigh. He’s kept his grip on his poker face but there is no overlooking how... intimate... their current situation is. They’ve discussed things over, from suggesting Wen Ning trekking over to help instead, a very brief consideration and subsequent rejection of Wen Qing helping, then they cycled through the uncles. Wei Ying, in a fit of strangled desperation, had even entertained Nie Huaisang. In the end, they arrived at the most rational and obvious conclusion, which is why they are where they are right now: Lan Wangji helping Wei Ying to take a bath.

“So,” Wei Ying says. “How are we going to do this?”

They survey the bathroom together. The bathroom is not very large, but contains enough space for the two of them to move freely. There is no tub, ceramic tiles covering the entire floor. The toilet and sink is in the corner by the door. Lan Wangji had unearthed a small stool for Wei Ying to sit on and borrowed some small basins. He has garbage bags and tape in his hands. They are as ready as they’ll ever be.

“Undress first,” Lan Wangji says. “I will cover your cast.”

“Okay.” Wei Ying shifts his weight onto his good leg and works on tugging off his shirt. He’s always favoured loose-fitting clothes, so thankfully that task is easily accomplished. His shorts, however, are a little more difficult. “Ah,” he says at the exact moment Lan Wangji hits the same awkward realisation. Wei Ying gives him a sheepish smile. “You’ll, uh. Have to help me out here, Lan Zhan.”

“Mm.” Lan Zhan rolls up his sleeves. He pushes aside the flustered butterflies threatening to burst out of his stomach. “That is what I am here for.”

Carefully, with Wei Ying’s hands braced on his shoulder and against the wall, they ease off the worn shorts. There’s a small pause as they both zero in on Wei Ying’s boxers. Wei Ying sighs. He meets Lan Wangji’s eyes briefly, and nods. With Lan Wangji’s eyes averted the best he can, they work together to slip off Wei Ying’s boxers as well. Then, Wei Ying is standing naked before him, skin raised with goosebumps, a soft pink staining his cheeks.

“We did it!” Wei Ying says. He’s not looking at Lan Wangji. There’s a nervous energy in his tone as he naturally starts to fill the silence. “You and I make a great team, huh, Lan Zhan? If there was a competition for taking the clothes off invalids, we’d definitely take home first prize, huh?”

Lan Wangji crouches to start taping up the cast. “You are not an invalid,” he murmurs. 

“Aha, okay, yeah. Just that I feel like a baby, having to be helped in the bath. You know, when I pictured being naked in front of someone else that wasn’t my brother back when we were still small enough to fit in the bath together, it was for sexy reasons! This is about as far from sexy as you can get. Ah, not that you aren’t sexy, Lan Zhan, you’re extremely fantasy material—and I meant that in a very respectful way, anyone would be lucky to get with you—but a broken leg does a great job of killing any mood, doesn’t it?”

Maybe if he ignores Wei Ying’s words, his ears will stop burning. His one saving grace is that Wei Ying seems to be too busy rambling and avoiding eye contact to notice Lan Wangji’s tells. He finishes covering the cast with the plastic material. Standing up, he places the excessive items aside and steps towards the showerheads. There are faucets at waist level, but a handheld showerhead had been installed at some point in the past. Lan Wangji twists the nozzle and directs the showerhead into the opposite corner to wait for the water to heat up. He turns back to Wei Ying.

The man jolts, blinking his eyes away. “Ah, Lan Er -gege, ” Wei Ying says, “are you going to be okay like that? Won’t your clothes get wet?”

Lan Wangji looks down at himself. He is wearing a pair of shorts; borrowed from Wei Ying a week back when he finally gave in to the heat. It’s a little too small at the waist, but baggy enough to be unnoticeable. His shirt is linen, one of his older ones that he wears when A-Yuan talks him into playing with the children. He looks back up at Wei Ying. The flush from earlier has spread down to his chest, Lan Wangji notes with a strange twinge of pleasure. “Would you like me to take off my shirt?”

“I—You-You know what, never mind, you’re fine! Come help me get over there.”

Pressing his lips together to hold off a smile, Lan Wangji does. He helps Wei Ying sit down on the stool, hands him one of the plastic buckets. He checks the water temperature and deems it comfortable enough. Unclasping the showerhead from the wall, Lan Wangji turns to Wei Ying. “Alright?”

“Yeah. Come at me.” Wei Ying closes his eyes and tilts his head back. Lan Wangji forces himself not to linger too long on the way water cascades down Wei Ying’s hair, how the droplets slide down Wei Ying’s skin. He rinses Wei Ying’s hair once more, and then shifts to the side to fill the basins with water while Wei Ying washes his hair. Wei Ying talks the whole way through, and they settle into a comfortable rhythm of Wei Ying washing himself and Lan Wangji passing him water and soap. When Wei Ying runs out of things to say, he hums. It is not unpleasant at all.

When the water is shut off and Wei Ying’s hair has been wrapped up in a towel, Lan Wangji holds Wei Ying’s clothes and lets Wei Ying use him for balance as they work together to dress him again. The previous awkwardness has all but dissipated with the steam of the hot water. It’s quiet. 

After, Wei Ying shifts on his bed as Lan Wangji rearranges the quilts by his leg. “Lan Zhan,” he says quietly.

“Mm?”

“Thank you.”

Lan Wangji looks at him. There’s a faint smile on Wei Ying’s face, but his eyes are serious when he meets Lan Wangji’s gaze. Lan Wangji reaches out and tucks a stray strand of hair behind Wei Ying’s ear. “There is no need for thank yous between us.”

 

 

 

“—’m fine, I promise,” Wei Ying says. 

Lan Wangji pauses in the hallway. He has the dinner tray in his hands, still steaming from the wok. He’s a little late today, on account of being dragged out by A-Yuan and the children to facilitate a bug-hunting contest. Zizhen won, but only because Jingyi tripped and scared off the bug that A-Yuan was sneaking up on. Lan Wangji did not enjoy being the judge of which bug was bigger.

Wei Ying is still talking, reassurances upon reassurances, a teasing remark here and there. He must be on the phone. Lan Wangji looks down at the tray in his hands. He’s considering backing up into the kitchen again when Wei Ying suddenly yells out a “No!” and Lan Wangji nearly spills the entire tray. The clatter of the chopsticks against the plates gives him away; Wei Ying pauses conspicuously before calling out, “Lan Zhan?”

Lan Wangji steadies the tray and enters the room. Wei Ying is propped up against the headboard, phone against his ear. He gives Lan Wangji a smile when he catches his eye. 

“It’s just Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says into the phone. He gestures for Lan Wangji to put the tray down and pull up the chair. “Yeah, see? Don’t worry about me, jie. I’m in good hands... Okay. Okay, I promise. Tell A-Ling I miss him! Goodnight, jiejie.

Lan Wangji carefully sets aside the plate covers. One of the uncles crafted a little stand out of bamboo for Wei Ying to balance the food trays so he could eat in bed. He spreads out the dishes and places one of the rice bowls in front of Wei Ying. “Apologies,” he says. “I did not mean to interrupt your phone call.”

Wei Ying waves a hand. “It’s fine, fine! It was just my a-jie. She wanted to come out here to take care of me, she’s so good. But she has A-Ling to take care of, not to mention that husband of hers. And she has a job, too! I can’t ask her to do that.” He smiles up at Lan Wangji. “Besides, you’re doing a fantastic job taking care of me, aren’t you, Lan Er-gege?

“Mm. I will take good care of Wei Ying.”

Aiyah, Lan Zhan! I told you to warn me before you say things like that!”

“Sorry,” Lan Wangji says, not sorry at all. Wei Ying blushes with his whole face, the rosy flush spreading from his cheeks down towards his neck. Idly, Lan Wangji thinks about the blush travelling down past the collarbones, across the shoulders, down his chest... He knows all too clearly that Wei Ying blushes with his whole body. He shakes himself and focuses back on the conversation.

Wei Ying is rambling about his sister. “She runs a cooking program at one of the Jin Institutes, Koi Tower, you’ve heard of it? I think that place is full of uppity snobs but my jiejie is the absolute best—she’s a wonder in the kitchen, you know! I mean, you are, too, Lan Zhan, but I grew up eating a-jie’s cooking so I’m biased. Anything she puts on a plate is like a big fluffy blanket, the most comforting thing ever. I’m convinced she was a goddess in a past life, she’s so good. Even if her taste in men is a bit wonky. But whatever, I got the world’s cutest nephew out of it.”

“She sounds like a wonderful sister,” Lan Wangji says.

“She is!” Wei Ying’s eyes are shining as he scoops too-large mouthfuls of rice from his bowl. He continues to chatter on about his sister, his nephew, and then his brother, while Lan Wangji hums and listens as he eats.

For all that Wei Ying likes to talk, he never really talks about himself. It’s always the people around him, the people he loves, the people he is thankful for. His sister, for her unwavering gentleness even when he gets in trouble—and he gets in trouble a lot. His brother, for being a constant presence in his life even if he is gruff and antagonistic a lot of the time. The Wen siblings, for their exasperated grace in dealing with his, well, everything, but still always offering an ear when he needs to talk. Popo, the uncles and aunties. A-Yuan and his little group of delinquent-wannabes. He talks about them with pride glowing on his face, hands fluttering about animatedly. Wei Ying loves with his whole being. It lights up something inside Lan Wangji, something he never knew existed.

But Wei Ying doesn’t talk about himself as much as he should. He lets things slip here and there, some anecdotes of his past that he quickly brushes off with a smile and joke. He doesn’t want to linger on things outside of his grasp. Confined to bedrest for the immediate future, Wei Ying whines and needles to be spoiled, complains about the smallest convenience, but when the painkillers wore off, he hardly says a word. Lan Wangji nearly had a heart attack the first night he awoke to Wei Ying knocking over a tripod stand in his room trying to head to the bathroom on his own. When Wei Ying goes quiet, Lan Wangji learns, is when he’s really in pain.

It’s frustrating. Lan Wangji shares the sentiment with Wen Qing when she swings by every evening to check on Wei Ying. He—and all those people Wei Ying loves to ramble on about—just wants Wei Ying to take better care of himself. The man runs himself ragged helping out around the village, working late into the night editing videos to share with the world this beautiful place he’s found a second home in. Wei Ying takes care of everyone else and leaves himself for last, an afterthought he never really gets around to.

Lan Wangji sits beside Wei Ying, grains of rice stuck to the man’s mouth as he reminisces about that time he challenged Jiang Cheng to a dragon boat race and ended up being blown off course. He should be annoyed; Wei Ying is breaking the rule of speaking over meals, he’s a notoriously messy eater, and he has dumped way too much chili oil in his bowl once again. Instead, Lan Wangji feels fondness washing over him like a sunrise.

Oh, he thinks. 

He lets the realization sink in. Wei Ying is still talking, laughing now, absentmindedly dropping more of the tomato and egg stir fry into Lan Wangji’s bowl. Lan Wangji returns the favour with the fried tofu. 

Oh.

 

 

 

 

arts and crafts with a-yuan!

142,705 views • August 13th

Yiling Laozu

thanks for all the comments and views!
currently i’m recovering from an injury
but our best boy slash angel bunny
inspired me to film this video!
tell us what your favourite paper animal is below~

8294 comments SORT BY

pplmountainpplsea a-yuan is adorable as always! hope you get better soon!!

lianhua3 Lingling enjoyed this video very much. The elephant is his favourite. Please take care! <3

Yiling Laozu <3<3<3

SunnyGirl that pretty gege is still here, huh...

p0pc0rn Pls dont ur gonna attract the light army or whatevs

YUNA I really do think it is HGJ! Also I learned how to fold a flower, finally, yay!

hanbunji but why would he be all the way out in yiling? on some no name yt channel?

Jenny Tsang hanguangjun hasn’t been seen in like, months. his weibo’s just posting links to these videos

brooooski mayhaps he be #hacked??

YUNA It looks like he took an unofficial hiatus! In the spring his acct made a post of looking forward to new music, but there were a few rumours of a disagreement with his agency... +readmore

weishemene do they know each other?? who is yllz anyway??

Ricecaked Detective hats on~

heiheiheh ayuan laoshi pls take me on as ur apprentice i can only fold an airplane

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The last note stays suspended, the dizi a gentle complement to the low notes of the qin, before it, too, fades into the air. They both take a breath, in sync, and then exhale slowly.

Wei Ying lowers his dizi and smiles at him. “How was that? I think that was our best one yet!”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji agrees. “Pulling back from dissonance into a full harmony was a good idea.”

“Isn’t it! But it’s because you wrote such a lovely song, Lan Zhan. I bet your fans will cry and swoon when they hear this.”

“Wei Ying wrote it with me.”

Wei Ying flaps his hand. “I only added a few harmonies here and there. No one will even pay attention to that, they just want to see Hanguang-jun make a comeback.”

Lan Wangji does not fidget with the strings of his guqin, but it’s a close thing. He asks carefully, “Do you not want credit for your part on this song?”

“It’s not that. It’s just... won’t it be bad—for you, I mean—if you attach my name to it? Someone’s going to dig up all my messes and then you’ll be dragged down under with me. You don’t deserve that, Lan Zhan.”

You don’t deserve that, either, Lan Wangji thinks. “It would be... dishonest,” he says, “if I were to claim credit for your part on this song.”

“You can just say you collaborated with an anonymous person, then.”

“Is that what you want?”

Wei Ying shrugs. “It doesn’t matter what I want.”

“I disagree,” Lan Wangji says. He holds Wei Ying’s gaze. “I will respect your wishes, Wei Ying, but this song is not mine alone. I would like to have your name next to mine on the song.”

The room is quiet save for their breathing. Lan Wangji is patient. Wei Ying searches his face, bottom lip caught between his teeth. It’s red from all his absentminded worrying; Lan Wangji just barely stops himself from reaching out to poke it with his finger. He wants to see it swollen from kissing too hard, he wants to see it bruised from being bitten by his own teeth. Lan Wangji carefully looks back up at Wei Ying’s eyes, aware that Wei Ying can see his distraction all too clearly. The other man, however, is now looking down at the flute in his hands.

“Let me think about it?” Wei Ying says.

“Of course.”

Wei Ying smiles, turning away. He sets down the flute and turns to his worktable. “You mind if I...?”

Lan Wangji shakes his head. He watches Wei Ying grind the inkstone and prepare the brush. He strums a few notes on his qin. With the faint noises of brush on paper as his backdrop, he writes down the completed harmony of their song.

 

 

 

 

The village is busier than normal. Aunties are bustling around, collecting baskets of nuts and fruits, gathering around the kitchens and the main courtyard. Food is being cooked and set off to the side to be wrapped properly. The uncles can be seen hurrying down the paths with bamboo and wood and various tools towards the little lotus pond to the southeast of the village, just past the grain fields. They are building a small bridge to be used for the festivities later that evening.

Wen Qing explains all this to him while he helps her and her brother load up buckets of strawberries and cherry tomatoes in Third A-yi’s yard. “It’s all that Wei Ying’s fault,” Wen Qing says, carefully checking the strawberries for blemishes. They have two buckets for the better-looking ones and the kind of bruised ones. “You wouldn’t think it, looking at him, but he’s a stupid romantic at heart. We never used to care much for Qixi, just made treats to sell in town. Until he started annoying us into holding our own little festival.”

“The kids like it,” Wen Ning says with a sheepish smile.

“Because we ply them with all the tanghulu in the world,” Wen Qing retorts. “Wei Ying said it’s a shame we never get to try the snacks that we sell so he decided we’d hold our own celebrations a few days earlier. And of course he wouldn’t settle with just a picnic or something, he had to go crazy with research and come up with all these old traditions that no one does anymore.”

“The bridge,” Wen Ning explains, “the uncles build it from scratch every year, and we hold a little ceremony at night. Yue-ayi helps the kids make flower crowns to gift everyone after dinner and then we burn incense and light the bridge after the wishes.”

“‘We deserve to treat ourselves, too!’ he says. More work for us, I say.”

Lan Wangji notes that even though Wen Qing continues to grumble about Wei Ying’s ridiculous ideas, she does not stop working and even tells them to hurry so they can meet the children on time. When the fruits are sorted as best they can, they split the load between the three of them and carry the buckets to Wei Ying’s house. Since the man is still on forced bedrest, he’s been volunteered for babysitting duty while the adults are busy. The older children are also there to help out (Lan Wangji had left with A-Qing’s promise to keep a tight leash on Xue Yang, who had made direct eye contact with Lan Wangji over her head while tugging on Mo Xuanyu’s hair. He can only hope the house is still standing by the time they reach it.)

Before they’ve even rounded the corner of the house, they hear Zizhen’s voice yelling, “They’re here! They’re heeere!” And then a small army of children come skidding around the brick wall to greet them. Lan Wangji braces himself just in time for A-Yuan’s weight to latch onto his leg. Jingyi and Zizhen go straight for Wen Ning, and the braver of the children surround Wen Qing. 

“Hands off unless you’re volunteering to help carry,” Wen Qing says. 

“I will help!” A-Yuan says, popping off Lan Wangji’s leg and reaching for a basket. 

“Thank you, A-Yuan, for being a good boy.”

“I’m a good boy, too!” Jingyi yells.

A chorus of “Me, too!”s goes up around them. Two buckets of strawberries are distributed to the children, three of them hefting one bucket together. They quickly cross the unkempt yard and into the house. Wen Qing directs the kids into helping clean up the living area, making space for them to work later. Lan Wangji leaves the Wen siblings to wrestle the children into organization and wanders into the house to check on Wei Ying.

Good thing he did, because instead of staying in bed and resting, Wei Ying is not only not in his room, he is actively standing up on both feet and cooking at the stove. Xue Yang looks up from where he’s sitting in a corner and evidently deems the scene uninteresting because he goes back to his DS without a word. Lan Wangji is glad he left the tomatoes in the living area because he’s sure he would have dropped it in his rush over to the stupid, stupid man in the kitchen.

“Wei Ying!”

The man turns and smiles brightly like there’s nothing wrong. “Lan Zhan! Welcome back!”

Lan Wangji refuses to let himself be distracted by the strange heat swelling in his chest at the sight of Wei Ying welcoming him back. “What are you doing?”

“I’m cooking up the sugar! Since I couldn’t help you guys with the fruit, I thought I could get ready here.”

“Wen Qing said she was going to do it when we returned.”

“Yeah, but this way it’s faster.”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says, exasperated. “You’re injured. You are supposed to be staying off your feet.”

“It’s fine! Xue Yang is right there to help if I need it, see? I’m not in pain or anything.”

He’s clearly lying through his teeth. Lan Wangji chooses not to call him out on it. Instead, he takes the ladle and gently ushers Wei Ying over to the nearest chair. Xue Yang growls at them, but Lan Wangji just channels his best Wen Qing impression, and the boy moves to sit on the table. Lan Wangji decides not to pick that battle today. Wei Ying puts up a brief protest before settling on pouting loudly at him from the chair. Lan Wangji moves back to the stove to watch the boiling sugar.

“Do you do this every year?” Lan Wangji asks, hoping to distract Wei Ying.

“Yep! They’ve always made tanghulu since it’s a big hit in town, but I’ve managed to convince Wen Qing that the children can help out. Sure, they get a little sticky but it’s nothing a bath won’t fix.”

“They seem really excited.”

“Just wait until they’ve actually ingested the sugar,” Wei Ying tells him.

While he’s watching the sugar, Wen Ning and Wen Qing are helping the children start with putting the strawberries and tomatoes onto thin wooden sticks. A pile of fruit skewers steadily grows on a tray. The other tray has a thin bamboo sheet laid over it, waiting for the finished product. Lan Wangji lowers the heat and gives the pot one last stir.

“Ready?” Wen Qing asks. She stands with her hands on her hips. It’s really amazing how one glance from her has the children lining up in as much of an orderly fashion as a bunch of first- and second-graders can muster. “One at a time, and no running. Make sure you put it on the tray right away, okay? Do not lick anything, Jingyi, or you’ll be on clean up duty.”

“Okay, Qing-jiejie, ” the children chorus.

They do end up sticky. Lan Wangji tries his best to minimize the stickiness, but Zizhen misplaces his hands and then one little girl has to scratch her nose and then it just snowballs from there. He spares a moment to mourn the pants he is wearing; he’s learned to accept that his clothes will be ruined whenever he is in close proximity with the little monsters. Wei Ying laughs at him. His nose goes all scrunched up and he tosses his head back, face alight with delight and framed by loose curls of hair that escaped his ribbon. 

Lan Wangji wants to kiss him. He wants to know if Wei Ying’s lips will taste as sweet as the sugar before him. Or if they will taste like the spices Wei Ying favours when he eats.

“Rich-gege! It’s dripping!”

Jolting back into his senses, Lan Wangji holds the skewer back over the pot. A-Yuan clutches at his shirt. “Is it okay?”

“Mn. Hold it carefully.”

A-Yuan grips the skewer tight and carries it over to A-Qing, who is taking her duty of placing each finished skewer on the tray very seriously. Lan Wangji glances up again. He catches Wei Ying’s eye where he is helping Mo Xuanyu slide more fruits onto the sticks. The smile he receives sends warmth right down to his core.

 

 

 

 

They gather around the lotus pond late afternoon. With the lingering daylight, the food is served with everyone sharing plates and bowls. The uncles tell stories and the aunties crack jokes. With snacks in one hand, the children gather around to weave flower crowns and draw lanterns. Wen Qing has graciously allowed Wei Ying to join them, on the condition that he not move from where Lan Wangji put him down.

“Were lanterns part of the traditional celebrations?” Lan Wangji asks.

Wei Ying tilts a playful smirk at him. “Who knows? It’s our tradition now.”

Can’t argue with that. Lan Wangji crouches to help him reach the ink. A-Yuan is plopped on the ground next to them, little tongue poking out of his mouth as he painstakingly draws a butterfly on his lantern. He has a purple ground orchid in his hair, drooping against his temple whenever he bends a little too forwards. Wei Ying has a flower crown atop his head, matching with the one Lan Wangji is wearing. They’re both a little lopsided, but the earnest expression when A-Yuan presented the crowns to them is too sweet to even think about criticizing it. 

“You know,” Wei Ying says, “I’ve always liked the original legend of qixi. Even though it’s kind of sad.”

Niulang and Zhinu?”

“Yeah. Silly, right, literally star-crossed lovers, forever forbidden to live happily ever after together. But still, the magpies sympathized with them, and so do we—we still celebrate it to this day. I don’t know. I just think it’s neat, the idea that once upon a time, somebody had loved someone so much that their love story transcended time.”

Lan Wangji looks at Wei Ying’s profile, tilted wistfully towards the setting sun. “It’s quite lovely,” he says.

Wei Ying smiles at him. He has ink on his nose. He holds Lan Wangji’s gaze for a long moment. But just as he opens his mouth again, A-Yuan suddenly exclaims.

“Wei-gege! Help! I spilled the ink too much!”

Just beneath his wobbly butterfly, a large blob has appeared. The boy thrusts his brush at Wei Ying, tugging at his shirt imploringly. Wei Ying laughs. He pats A-Yuan on the head and shuffles the lantern canvas closer. “Not to worry, A-Yuan. When the brush is in your hand, you’re the artist. You know what that means?”

“What does it mean?”

“It means no one can say you’ve made a mistake unless you admit it yourself!” Wei Ying taps the brush against his nose. The ink smears on his skin grows, but he pays no mind. With a sparkle in his eye, he dips the brush in the ink and paints a few swift strokes. “Ta-da! Now your butterfly has a friend: the turnip fairy!”

“What’s a turnip fairy?”

“Don’t you know the turnip fairy? She protects all the butterflies and rabbits from being eaten by the big bad shadows in the mountains. If you put her on your lantern, she’ll protect you, too. Right, Lan Zhan?”

Lan Wangji nods solemnly. “The turnip fairy likes children who eat their vegetables.”

Wei Ying narrows his eyes at him over A-Yuan’s head. The boy is staring down at the freshly painted turnip fairy on his lantern, eyes wide with awe. “Hold on, I have to tell Jingyi and the others about the turnip fairy!”

They watch him dash off to his friends. Wei Ying nudges Lan Wangji. “Thanks for playing along. No one ever believes me when I say you’re the crafty one between us.”

“I only try to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to me.”

Aiyo, Lan Zhan, that doesn’t make me feel better!”

Lan Wangji hides a smile. He gestures to the lantern in front of Wei Ying. “What are you painting on yours?”

“Ah, wait! I’m almost done.” Wei Ying adds a few more strokes, and then presents the lantern with a flourish. Two rabbits sit next to each other on the rice paper, one coloured in and one just the outline. A few stalks of bamboo frame the side, the rabbits huddling close like they’re sleeping. Wei Ying peeks at him from around the paper. “You like it?”

“Mn. It’s very elegant.”

“Don’t praise me too much, Lan Zhan, it’ll go to my head.”

“I only speak the truth,” Lan Wangji promises seriously.

Wei Ying scrunches his nose at him. In the light of the bonfires, Lan Wangji thinks his face might be blushing pink. He wants to see him blush in the light of day, in the kitchen when he just woke up, in the shed with his art all around them. Lan Wangji gives himself a moment to feel the ache of pure want.  

They light the lanterns, stringing them to holding sticks. One of the uncles had set up an old clothesline, and they take turns hanging the lanterns on it. Lan Wangji spots Wen Ning patiently lifting the children up to hang their own. He’s wearing at least three flower crowns, petals trailing him with every step. Across the clearing, by the food tables, Lan Xichen is sitting with Nie Mingjue. A couple of the aunties are with them, hanging onto Nie Mingjue’s every word as he gestures his way through a story. Lan Wangji catches his brother’s eye. They exchange a nod. Brother looks happy. Lan Wangji is glad.

The sweets and snacks are passed around as the uncles get ready to light the bridge. As most of the villagers are already married or too young to be interested in love, everyone made good luck wishes like it is new years. A few of the aunties tease Wen Qing and Wei Ying about finding a good spouse some time to take their focus away from running the village. Lan Wangji is glad he is mostly left out of the potential teasing candidates, along with Song Lan and Xiao Xingchen, who had settled at the edge of the group after wandering by to discreetly distribute wine while the children were distracted. 

Lan Wangji sits next to Wei Ying. The other man is swaying gently, the flask Song Lan passed him on one hand. He’s not drunk; Lan Wangji knows it takes a lot more to even make Wei Ying tipsy. He has a small smile on his face, flower petals scattered through his hair like a sky of stars. He’s absolutely breathtaking.

“Do you think they ever regret it?” Wei Ying asks suddenly. “Falling in love with someone they’re fated to spend all of eternity only yearning from afar?”

“I don’t know,” Lan Wangji replies. “But I would like to think they chose each other in spite of fate.”

Wei Ying tilts a smile at him. Night has settled around them by now, and the orange glow of the flames throws shadows across his face. “Don’t you think it’s a little selfish? To be so stubborn about loving someone the Heavens forbid you to, making the poor little magpies do your bidding every year? It makes for a romantic story, sure, but is loving someone like that worth it?”

There’s a certain quietness in Wei Ying’s voice that makes Lan Wangji pause. He has a feeling they’re not talking about the legend anymore. Wei Ying takes another swig from his drink. The villagers are still laughing and singing around them, but somehow, it still feels like the two of them are suspended above everything else. Lan Wangji looks at Wei Ying. He looks at him and sees a man who laughs like sunlight and dreams like a helpless romantic. A man who chose to leave his family to save their reputation and found a family within this tiny village, who tries to make them smile with everything he does. A man who keeps his calligraphy in a worn shed like a guilty pleasure. 

“Rather than stubborn,” Lan Wangji says carefully, “I think it is brave.”

“Brave?”

“Mm. When the whole world is against you, instead of bowing your head, you still choose them, you still stand with them. Whether that is selfish or not is irrelevant, in that moment. Don’t you think it is worth it?”

“You don’t play fair.” Wei Ying tips the flask up, emptying its contents into his mouth. Lan Wangji watches the stray drops that trickle down his chin. “You know, I asked a-jie about this once. When she and Jin Zixuan finally started dating, I asked her why she would want to tie herself to another person like that. I didn’t understand—still don’t, I guess—what it feels like to love someone like that.”

“Do you want to?”

Wei Ying laughs. He gestures at the burning bridge before them. “I guess some part of me does, if I make them do all this, year after year.”

Lan Wangji glances over to where his brother is sitting close with Nie Mingjue. They’re not holding hands, even though most of the village have figured the two of them by now. Out of habit, he assumes. He still dislikes gossip, but the uncles and aunties have been nothing but supportive, if a little prone to teasing. He thinks about Song Lan and Xiao Xingchen walking side by side, never too far from the other. He thinks about Lan Xichen telling him about moving in with Nie Mingjue. He turns back to Wei Ying. 

“I think to love someone is the most selfless thing one can do. But I also think it is not wrong to be a little selfish in choosing happiness for yourself.”

Wei Ying looks at him. He stares for a long time. His eyes are like midnight skies on winter nights, but never cold. Like they could swallow Lan Wangji whole, and he would let them. Wei Ying smiles, a gentle curve of his lips; a small, wonder-filled thing, the smile he reserves for when something good happens and he’s not entirely sure how. “I’m guessing that’s not from one of your rules,” he says.

“No,” Lan Wangji agrees. “My brother taught me that. You, too.”

“Me?”

“Mhm. Wei Ying. The people you love and love you in return would be happy if you choose your own happiness. I think that’s what love is.”

“Yeah?”

Lan Wangji nods. He takes a breath. “I’ve thought up a title for the song.”

Wei Ying blinks, but takes the abrupt subject change in stride. “What did you decide?”

He meets Wei Ying’s gaze. Holds it steady, like his heartbeat. Wonders—hopes—if it might fall in sync with Wei Ying’s. “Wangxian.

 

 

 

 

 

happy qixi!! ft. tanghulu 

203,719 views • August 25th

Yiling Laozu

the kids get all sticky with the sugar
but who can blame them?
thanks for all the well-wishes,
i’m receiving the best care from pretty-gege!
consider tipping to help me entertain the kids ;)

11,063 comments SORT BY

lianhua3 Everyone looks like they’re having a lot of fun :) Listen to Qing-jie and heal properly!

 

Yiling Laozu i will, jiejie! don’t tattle to qing-jie on me!!

heiheiheh when i grow up i wanna be like qing jie with her big boss energy

pplmountainpplsea i wish you a speedy recovery! pls take care of yourself, mr laozu!!

Egg Fan I can never get the right consistency for the sugar to make tanghulu arghhh

stanl00na did he hurt his leg? i cant remember the last vidoe where he was sitting the whole time

 

sourbreads i’m so used to yllz moving around in his videos

xAngelicax Except when he’s playing the flute!

hanguangbun so the “””pretty gege””” is HGJ right????

 

YUNA I do believe so! He certainly moves w/the same grace. I hope YL recovers swiftly!

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Something changes between them. 

When they’re sharing meals together, Wei Ying drives the conversation as usual, but sometimes he trails off, watching Lan Wangji eat. He only offers a sweet smile when Lan Wangji raises his eyebrows at him. When Lan Wangji helps him shower, Wei Ying lets his hands linger on Lan Wangji’s shoulders. He still goes quiet under Lan Wangji’s hands, but when their eyes meet, sometimes Lan Wangji catches a softness in his gaze that feels private, sacred. When Lan Wangji is writing in his notebook, sometimes Wei Ying will fall asleep next to him, head against his shoulder, almost too sweet to be real. 

Lan Wangji doesn’t know what this means. He doesn’t want to guess. He feels like they are living in a bubble, and he’s afraid one wrong move will pop it. Lan Wangji has grown up on reinforced schedules and days planned down to the minute, but for once he doesn’t mind not knowing. It doesn’t feel wrong, this easiness, this familiarity, with Wei Ying. He will go wherever Wei Ying leads. 

That thought brings Lan Wangji more comfort than it should.

Something changes between them. Wei Ying doesn’t say anything, so Lan Wangji doesn’t ask.

 

 

 

The basket of freshly harvested yam is too heavy for a child to carry. Lan Wangji holds it with little effort, following A-Yuan as the boy skips along the edge of the fields. The uncles and aunties call out to them, and Lan Wangji greets them back by name. It doesn’t feel awkward anymore—or if it does, the villagers have grown used to him by now. They’ve grown on him, for sure.

“You’ve never had dirt-baked yam?” A-Yuan asks again, disbelief staining his voice.

“Never,” Lan Wangji confirms. 

“Then how did you eat yam?”

Lan Wangji thinks. He rarely eats the vegetable because it is too sweet. “Oven,” he says. “My brother cooked it in his air fryer once.”

A-Yuan scrunches up his nose in a very Wei Ying-like way. “What’s an air fryer?”

Lan Wangji explains it as they make their way to where Wen Ning is waiting with Jingyi and Zizhen. They’re in the far end of the fields, rolling up mud balls. Lan Wangji drops the yams on the ground and lets himself be tugged into the mud to help.

The makeshift dirt oven is built like this: they roll up thick balls of mud, digging deep for the hard stuff. The kids delight in plopping them on the ground in a messy, lopsided circle, slowly forming an enclosed dome. Lan Wangji makes sure everyone stands back while Wen Ning lights the fire at the base. While waiting for the heat to rise, they gather around the basket to choose the best-looking yams (“This one looks like Pingguo!” Jingyi says in delight, shoving the poor vegetable in Wen Ning’s face). Lan Wangji, carefully copying Wen Ning’s movements, helps place the yam inside, and then they pile more dirt upon the oven to prevent the hot air inside from escaping. The children take great delight in collapsing the dirt dome.

“And now we wait,” A-Yuan narrates to Lan Wangji helpfully. Jingyi and Zizhen have started a competition to see who can build the best mud pie, with Wen Ning as the judge. Lan Wangji cannot tell what the winning criteria is. A-Yuan tugs at his hand. “Rich-gege,” the boy says, voice lowered even though they are standing a few meters from the others. Lan Wangji leans down to listen. 

Nothing could have prepared him for what comes next out of A-Yuan’s mouth.

“Are you and Wei-gege married?”

“No,” Lan Wangji says faintly. He clears his throat. “What... gave you that idea?”

Popo says that people live together because they are family,” A-Yuan says, “like Qing-jiejie and Ning-gege, except they are sister and brother, and I am popo’s sunzi. Are you and Wei-gege brothers?”

“No, we are not.”

“Then if you are not siblings but you are living together, you have to be married!”

Lan Wangji wonders if he should attempt to explain the concept of roommates. He glances over at where Wen Ning is still preoccupied with the other boys. Turning back to A-Yuan, he says, “Wei Ying is my... friend. And I am his guest. That is why I am living with him at the moment.”

“Not married?”

“Not married,” Lan Wangji confirms.

“Oh,” A-Yuan says, sounding more disappointed than he ought to, in Lan Wangji’s humble opinion. “Then, are you going to get married?”

“Why... do you ask?”

“Because! Then you’ll be family, and then you can live with Wei-gege forever, and then I can see you every day!”

For a moment, Lan Wangji is struck dumb at the image A-Yuan presented. Waking up in the quiet house, plating breakfast and turning to find a sleepy Wei Ying wandering in. Helping A-Yuan with his homework and accompanying the kids on their bug-hunting adventures. Joining popo when she’s making village dinner. Going home with Wei Ying, playing music for him as he writes. 

The thing is, he already had a taste of what it is like waking up to Wei Ying. The messy hair, the dried drool, the clingy limbs. The sunlit glow, the sleep-soft smile. It was so simple, so natural, waking up to Wei Ying. Lan Wangji thinks, if given the chance, he might allow himself to become addicted to such a thing.

But he can’t. Because this village, for all that it is welcoming and for all the peace it has offered, is not his. He is a guest. He is only a guest. And he was only supposed to stay until the end of the summer.

It is September now.

He is saved from answering when Wen Ning announces that Zizhen wins the mud pie contest and that it is time to dig up the yam. A-Yuan, thankfully, is gladly distracted by the prospect of hot yam to eat. They dig the piping hot vegetables out of the ground, Wen Ning peeling them quick with practised fingers for the children. They eat them right there as they cook the leftover yams to bring back to the main house where Wei Ying is under Wen Qing’s supervision, and Lan Wangji doesn’t complain about burnt fingers or dirt under his fingernails. 

The yam is warm and sticky on his tongue. Yet when he swallows, it tastes bittersweet.

 

 

 

 

His brother calls him, a week into September. 

“They liked your demo,” Lan Xichen tells him. “They liked it a lot. They want you back in the studio as soon as possible.”

“What about PR?” Lan Wangji asks.

Lan Xichen sighs. “The agency managed to keep everything under wraps as long as they could. The announcement of your hiatus was sudden, but your schedule had been cleared up months beforehand, so for you to make a comeback now would be quite beneficial.”

“For whom?”

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen says quietly. “Uncle wants to know when you are coming back.”

Lan Wangji stares across the room at his guqin. He keeps it well-tuned and plays it every night, sharing space with Wei Ying in the shed. Sometimes Wei Ying pulls out his dizi and duets with him. Most times Wei Ying just listens, humming along as his brush drags across crisp paper. These evenings are quiet, but somehow filled with so much: Wei Ying’s constant fidgeting, the shared breaths as a reminder that he is not the only one occupying this space.

“There’s no rush,” Lan Xichen says. “But at least give Uncle a call. I will cover for you here. If you have any more songs you’ve finished, feel free to send them to me.”

“Mn.”

In the silence after the phone call, Lan Wangji sits for a long time. Wei Ying is right across the hall. Yet somehow, he already feels impossible far out of reach.

The thing is, when he talked with Wen Qing way back in May, their agreement was that he stay only for the summer. He was supposed to find peace in nature and repentance in solitude, and then return to the city the respectful, above-worldly-matters Hanguang-jun everyone wanted him to be. Instead, he found a village full of lively people, an adoring crowd of children, and Wei Ying. The Hanguang-jun that fell from grace behind closed doors is not a god, not a saviour. Lan Wangji is just a man, who has been lonely for much longer than he has ever realized.

I want to stay, Lan Wangji thinks, tracing the thoughts out like a raindrop on the windowpane. He releases a long breath. He thinks about the demo he sent back to the city with his brother. He thinks about the doodles Wei Ying left all over his music sheets—he kept them all, tucked away in the inside pocket of his suitcase. He wants to stay. But in order to do that, in order to come back, he has to go.

He needs to tell Wei Ying. 

Lan Wangji looks towards his door, in the direction of Wei Ying’s room. Wei Ying is editing videos in his room. Is he aware of the countdown on Lan Wangji’s presence here? Does he know how much Lan Wangji wants to stay? He has to. Right?

Lan Wangji will tell him.

Mind made up, he goes across the hall and knocks on Wei Ying’s door. It’s open, and he can see Wei Ying hunched over the computer, his bad leg propped up on the extra chair they dragged in. His hair is still wet from his shower. It curls up at the ends and will end up a tangled mess if he forgets to brush it before going to bed. 

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying waves him in. “Come look at this, isn’t A-Yuan too adorable?”

The clip is of Wen-popo and A-Yuan sitting by a big basin of beansprouts, breaking off the heads one by one. Popo is telling an old myth about a dragon and a fox. A-Yuan has his tongue sticking out, a habit Lan Wangji recognizes from Wei Ying, carefully pinching the yellow sprouts before snapping them off. 

“Mm,” Lan Wangji says, “very adorable.”

“Kids really do grow so fast! I remember when I first came and he was this tiny little thing. He didn’t talk much, just clung to the legs of people he likes. Aiyah, what will we do when he’s a teenager? We better keep Xue Yang away from him, don’t need those bad vibes to influence our little radish...”

Lan Wangji can only look on fondly as Wei Ying rambles. He can see little A-Yuan so clearly in his mind’s eye, growing out of his shyness over the years, into the cheerful, curious boy he is today. Wei Ying talks about the people in this village like they are family—and to him, they are. It almost makes Lan Wangji feel jealous.

Finishing up a story of when Wei Ying tricked A-Yuan into being planted in the dirt by telling him he’ll grow taller that way, Wei Ying turns to face Lan Wangji directly. “Lan Zhan? You probably didn’t come in here to listen to me blathering away. What is it?”

Lan Wangji doesn’t say, I would spend forever listening to you blathering away. Instead, he goes, “My brother called.”

“Ah, how is he? And Mingjue-ge ? Huaisang sent me a picture of Yu-er surrounded by a mound of shopping bags, so I know he’s at least glad to be back in the city.”

“He is good.” Lan Wangji hesitates. “He says the demo of our song was well-received.”

“That’s great! I knew it, I knew it was going to be a hit. Literally everything you touch turns into gold, Lan Zhan! We should celebrate!”

“They want me to go back to record it in the studio.”

It takes a moment for his meaning to sink in. He watches Wei Ying’s face cycle through a myriad of expressions before understanding settles in, and then something shutters. Wei Ying smiles, but it’s like crinkled plastic, unable to reflect any light. Ugly, slimy dread fills his stomach.

“Ah, of course! And I know you’ll make it sound wonderful. I mean, you were only staying here for the summer, right? It’s because I was stupid and got myself injured that you’re still here, taking care of me. Not that you’re not welcome here! Everyone loves you, you know. No wonder, you’re the best, Lan Zhan. But yeah! That’s—I’m really happy for you.”

For a wild moment, Lan Wangji thinks, loudly and clearly, Come back with me. He lets himself imagine walking down crowded streets with Wei Ying at his side. Showing Wei Ying around his personal studio. Taking Wei Ying back to his apartment, looking at Wei Ying in the half-dark, framed in neon city lights.

But he can’t ask that. 

He opens his mouth to explain that the timeline of a new single release is not that long, that he doesn’t mind taking care of Wei Ying, now or forever, that if Wei Ying asked him to stay, he would. But before he can say a word, Wei Ying claps his hands.

“We should throw you a going-away party! End your stay here with a bang. I know the kids will like something fun to distract them from homework. You’ll have to promise to write, Lan Zhan—they’ll miss you too much! But I’m sure I can make up something after a few months, since I’m sure you’ll be too busy to entertain our little village, aha.”

“Not too busy.” 

“You don’t have to waste your time on us, Lan Zhan, I’m sure you have better things to do when you’re back in the spotlight.”

Lan Wangji frowns. “Wei Ying.”

“It’s okay,” Wei Ying says, smiling that paper-thin smile again. It is the most heartbreaking thing Lan Wangji has ever seen. “You’re Hanguang-jun, right? I know we’ve kept you from the world for too long. We’ll be fine, Lan Zhan. Go without worries.”

The rush of his heartbeat fills his ears. Lan Wangji clenches his hands into fists, and then slowly loosens them. “Wei Ying,” he says again. “Do you consider me a friend?”

“Wha—Of course! You’re a great friend, Lan Zhan! I didn’t mean to imply you’re not, I swear, I just—”

“Me, too,” Lan Wangji says, aware he is interrupting and completely unremorseful about it. The last time he interrupted someone, he ended up packing a suitcase and hiking out here. He forges ahead, holding Wei Ying’s gaze. “I consider Wei Ying a dear friend. Even if I must leave this village, I will not forget about Wei Ying or the others. Missing you will not be a waste of my time.”

Silence follows. Wei Ying stares back at him, eyes wide. One of his hands is gripping his knee, right above his cast. Another beat passes, and then Wei Ying looks away, an awkward chuckle trickling from his lips. 

“Yeah,” he says. “Okay. That’s—Aiyo. Lan Zhan, you’re too good.”

“I will write,” Lan Wangji promises.

“Okay.”

“Mm.” Lan Wangji feels off-balance. They’re agreeing with each other now, like they’ve settled on something, but the strange, fractured silence hasn’t left. Wei Ying is avoiding his eyes, fiddling with the keyboard. He should say something. But his heartbeat is still pounding too loudly, and Wei Ying is not smiling. Everything feels wrong. 

“Look, I’ve gotta.” Wei Ying gestures to the video. “I’ll talk to Wen Qing about your party, yeah? We’ll get one of the uncles to help me out so you won’t have to worry about my stupid leg.”

“I do not mind.”

Wei Ying sighs. “I know you don’t. But you don’t have to anymore, okay? I’ve been relying on your kindness for too long, this—it’ll just be easier this way. We’ll still eat together until you leave. It’s fine.”

“Wei Ying.”

“I’m really happy they liked the demo, Lan Zhan.”

Swallowing, Lan Wangji nods. He goes back to his room, hands empty and chest aching. The silence only grows louder.



 

 

 

 

paper lanterns to light your way home

237,193 views • September 6th

Yiling Laozu

it’s early but we’re looking forward
to the mid-autumn festival!
the kids really like making lanterns

and i’m not allowed to run around yet :(
comment below your favourite designs!!

10,027 comments SORT BY

baisheXx FIRSt!!!!

pplmountainpplsea the bunnies are so cute! hope you’re healing well!

heiheiheh his managing to fix ayuans blobs into carrots and lettuce is true artistry

IcedRiver That kid who decided to paint a chicken is my fave

pongge Is it just me or is his videos lately like,,, subdued? We barely see yllz on screen anymore

turniped pretty-gege is still here though *eyes emoji*

Tang Tang do u think smth happened? other than his leg i mean

831520 laozu sir Blink twice if ur being held hostage by the Light army

YUNA The bamboo design is so pretty! And I’m not just saying that bc HGJ painted it

lu0b0 STOP WITH THE HGJ THEORY ALREADY

Kimmy O. tag urself im the lopsided lantern with the ghost painted on the side

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The replay clicks to a stop, and the whole studio lets out a collective breath. Lan Wangji nods, standing to bow as everyone claps and congratulates him once more on another smooth recording. He thanks each one as he heads out the door.

In the elevator, he allows himself to slump against the wall. He has spent the last two days in the studio, working the song to the bone. It still tugs at his heartstrings with every note, but he’s half-afraid that when he hears it next, packaged and wrapped and uploaded onto the streaming services, he won’t recognize it. Worse, that Wei Ying won’t recognize it.

His brother is waiting for him in the lobby.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen says, smiling. “How was it today?”

“Good,” Lan Wangji says honestly. “We finalized it today.”

“That’s wonderful.”

“Mn.”

Lan Xichen ushers him into the underground parking. He waits until they’re both buckled into the car before spilling the bad news. “They want a meeting with you,” he says, “before we can release the song. I think they also want to give you time to write more songs for an EP.”

‘They’ referring to the elders, the executive board of the agency. Lan Wangji stares out the window. He hasn’t seen any of the higher ups since he returned to the city last week. He sat down for dinner with his uncle, but that was it. Uncle didn’t say anything regarding work. Lan Wangji supposes his luck can only last so long.

“Fine,” he says. “Is that all?”

His brother sighs. “Wangji, you know I support you in whatever you do, but the elders, they... they view your stay away as repentance. They think you’ve come back after some self-reflection.”

“I have,” Lan Wangji says honestly. Just not the kind of self-reflection the elders are looking for.

Lan Xichen smiles as if he can hear Lan Wangji’s thoughts. He makes a careful right turn before speaking again. “We can figure out a game plan before the meeting.”

Lan Xichen moves on to lighter topics, and Lan Wangji nods along. The city rushes on around them, cars honking and crowds filling the sidewalks. Everything moves so much faster here. He’s forgotten how loud and how hurried things are here, after just a few months away. It was jarring, but ultimately all too easy for him to slip back into familiar routines. Easy to go back to his silent apartment high above the streets that never sleep, buy groceries and cook for one, field calls from his agent and his brother. 

Easy to believe that everything that happened this past summer was just a dream.

 

 

 

He emails Wei Ying, because he promised he would write. 

Wei Ying responds to his first email with great enthusiasm: double the length of Lan Wangji’s original email and one paragraph consisting of only emojis. He gives updates on A-Yuan and the children, how they tried and failed to trick him into doing their homework for them, and the uncles and aunties and how the seasonal crops are doing. He adds several exclamation marks to show his excitement and joy in response to Lan Wangji’s own updates on how he’s settling back in the city. He talks little about himself.

Lan Wangji emails back with more questions about Wei Ying. How are you? How is your calligraphy going? Is your leg healing well? Do you miss me like I miss you? Lan Wangji deletes that line and writes instead, I can send you some music sheets for the dizi.  

Lan Wangji sends updates, questions, pictures, recipes. He saves every reply he receives. He pretends he is not checking his email diligently every morning for Wei Ying’s name. Wei Ying has a life of his own. Lan Wangji knows this, and he respects that. It doesn’t make the missing ache less.

 

 

 

He sits down with his uncle the night before his meeting with the agency. 

Dinner is a quiet affair. It always is, the rule of no speaking during mealtimes ingrained in his blood. When he takes lunch with Xichen, sometimes his brother can be persuaded to relax the rule a bit, but Lan Wangji finds he cannot replicate the easy conversation over food that he shared with Wei Ying. He was never the talkative one.

Afterwards, over tea, Lan Wangji watches his uncle’s face sort through a myriad of expressions at the mention of Wei Wuxian. 

“He wrote the song with you?” Uncle says, disbelieving.

“Mn.”

“Hmph. That boy has always been bright, I suppose.” Then, because his uncle has worked with and placated the agency’s elders long before Lan Xichen picked up the mantle, he surmises, “They do not want his name on the song.”

Lan Wangji nods. “I will not release it without his name.”

Lan Qiren sighs. He takes a long sip of tea before setting down the cup with a clink. “You and Xichen are adults now. What you both do, or don’t do, I have no say in any of it anymore. I have raised you both the best I could, and I know that even if I was ready to be a parent then, I still would have made mistakes. But we are here now. And you must make your own mistakes, face your own consequences. I cannot walk that path with you anymore.”

These are all facts. Lan Wangji understands this. He understands his uncle, the stoic man with as many reservations as his manners. Uncle means well—he always does; still, some things remain hard to swallow.

“I do not condone your actions last April. I thought I raised you and your brother both to mind your manners and respect your elders—but what is done is done. I’m not responsible for your actions anymore. You both make your decisions without me now.”

When Lan Wangji asked his brother how the conversation about his moving in with Nie Mingjue went, his brother had only smiled, a little strained in the eyes, and said, We’re all trying our best. But they both showed up to their scheduled lunch last week, and while Uncle did not mention Nie Mingjue at all and made little eye contact, he did ask Lan Xichen how work was coming along. He could have pretended not to acknowledge Lan Xichen’s existence, as passive-aggressive silence is a Lan family trait, but he didn’t. He could have suddenly made plans on that day so he could cancel on the lunch without lying, but he didn’t. Trying his best.

Lan Qiren reaches for his tea again. He does not look up at Lan Wangji when he continues, “Music is the legacy your mother left you. Passion, your father’s. I cannot say I understand either, but I have watched you grow from boy to man, and I know how much you love music. It would be a shame for you to give it up completely.”

Hearing that, Lan Wangji feels strange. A little startled, maybe. He knows, distantly, like he knows his father is still alive somewhere out in the world, that his uncle is proud of him. All the hard work he’s put into his career, all the hours and money he spent on learning instruments and theory. His uncle never said the words out loud, but his uncle drove him to every lesson, hired teachers to their home, and attended every recital even when he had to postpone meetings to do so. 

Lan Wangji reaches out for the teapot. He refills his uncle’s cup and pushes it back across the table. Uncle takes it.

“Do what you want,” Uncle says. “I am retired. I would just appreciate it if you would give me a little warning if you are to be caught up in another scandal that barely avoids the headlines.”

They drink the rest of the tea in comfortable silence. Lan Wangji looks out the window at the city lights. He thinks that if his parents left him music and passion, then the legacy that his uncle gave him must be perseverance. 

 

 

 

“I’ve prepared all the documents,” Lan Xichen says as they walk down the hall. The walls are beige and bland like it always was. Instead of being calming and grounding like before, Lan Wangji only feels claustrophobic. His shoes barely make a sound on the carpeted floor. “You don’t have to pull them out, but they are there if you need them.”

“Thank you.”

“I can’t go in with you, but you know that I support you one hundred percent. Many of the other artists are with you, too.”

“I know, ge.

Lan Xichen takes a breath and lets it out slowly. He stops before the door and turns to Lan Wangji. The folder in his hands is handed over, and then he steps back. “Good luck,” he says. His smile is small, but filled with familiar warmth. “Wangji. Choose what makes you happy.”

Lan Wangji nods. And then the door is open and then he is in the room.

The executive members of the agency are already sitting around the long table in the middle of the room. Lan Wangji recognizes most of them, though there are a few new ones he hasn’t worked with before. A full army, then. He gives a polite bow and walks down to the empty seat at the end of the table.

They wait until he is seated, the folder his brother gave him placed neatly in front of him. A plastic cup is already waiting for him on the table. Water, he notes, not tea. He does not reach for it.

“Hanguang-jun,” Lan Zhengyan says. He is a severe-looking man, older than uncle, his eyes sharp behind his glasses. “We are glad to see you back in the city.”

Realizing he was expected to reply, Lan Wangji goes, “Thank you.”

“We’ve missed your work these last few months,” another member says. Lan Xinghai is one of the heads of public relations. “It is good to hear you’re back in the studio.”

“Yes. However.”

Lan Wangji straightens slightly. Here it comes.

“We would like to talk about what occurred last April,” Lan Zhengyan says. 

He nods. “I apologize for my behaviour at the conference back in April. It was unprofessional of me to speak so rashly.”

“Hm.”

“But I am not sorry for what I said,” Lan Wangji continues, much to the dismay of everyone at the table. His voice does not waver. “I only regret how I conveyed my feelings on the matter.”

Murmurs start on the farther end of the table. Lan Zhengyan frowns, but clears his throat loudly and clearly decides to move on. “While you’ve been away, we have been busy running damage control. Your sudden hiatus caused a dip in our sales but the posts on your Weibo have been gaining traction. It’s a good image for Lan Agency to support lesser known artists and the preservation of cultural heritage.”

It was and has always been his own idea to post links to people like the Yiling Laozu, but Lan Wangji chooses not to pick that battle. He folds his hands carefully in front of him.

“There has been recent buzz about your supposed cameos on some small-time Youtuber’s account. But there has been no solid proof that it is you, so I’m sure our PR team can handle that. We know you’ve spent the last few months reflecting on your actions and your attitude.”

He sure has reflected. He’s reflected so hard. Lan Wangji bites the inside of his cheek because he has a plan. Or, well, a list of statements to spit out, but he workshopped them with his brother over the last few days. That surely counts. 

“Now, let’s move on.” Lan Zhengyan shuffles the papers in front of him. “Your new song. I hear the recording went well.”

“It did,” Lan Wangji says shortly.

“Hm. Ah, but you say it was a collaboration? It’s good to see how diligent you are with your work even while you were away.”

Lan Wangji presses his lips together. Then, unceremoniously, he announces, “It’s Wei Wuxian. He wrote the song with me.”

Silence rings loudly through the room. Lan Wangji stares straight ahead while confused glances and scandalized expressions are exchanged. Everyone has heard of Wei Wuxian and his explosive exit out of the traditional arts scene five years ago. But no one has seen the intensity of Wei Ying’s gaze as he scribbled out beautiful melodies, pencil in one hand and dizi in the other. No one has felt the comforting peacefulness that comes with sitting with him in a little repurposed shed, careful brush strokes filling the silence. No one has seen Wei Ying, the man past the stains left on the name Wei Wuxian.

“Wei Wuxian,” someone farther down the table says. His frown is heavy even under his thick mustache. “You say you wrote the song with him? I thought he had disappeared. Left the country.”

“He has not,” Lan Wangji says. “I cannot disclose any other information about his whereabouts. But the song belongs to him just as much as me, and if I were to release it, I would be releasing it under his name as well.”

Lan Xinghai shakes her head. “That would not be a good idea. His name is still a taboo in the industry, it will ruin your image and your reputation, Lan Wangji.”

“I’m sure you did most of the work,” someone else says. “Isn’t Wei Wuxian more of the visual arts type? People want Hanguang-jun, not him.”

“No,” Lan Wangji says firmly. “I will not release the song if we take out his name.”

Lan Zhengyan presses his hands on the table. “Lan Wangji,” he says slowly, “your image has been carefully curated since the moment you debuted as Hanguang-jun. Associating with Wei Wuxian, someone like that, who is, quite simply put, ungrateful to his roots and shameless of his actions in public, will not only hurt your reputation, but it will also lose face for the Lan Agency. Think about it, Lan Wangji.”

“Then I will not release it under the Lan Agency at all.”

“What?”

“That isn’t—”

“You can’t—”

“For him?”

Lan Zhengyan clears his throat loudly. He looks at Lan Wangji. “Think of what your uncle would say.”

Inhaling through his nose, Lan Wangji holds up a hand. He waits until the voices die down. “I have already spoken with my uncle,” he says. “He wishes to remind you all like he did me that he is retired. I will say this again: I am not going to release the song I wrote with Wei Ying under Lan Agency. I have made my decision and I will not change it. I hope you can respect my decision.”

He receives many appalled stares. Lan Wangji sighs. He looks at his folder, and then back up again. “However, I am aware that I am still signed with Lan Agency. I will work hard to produce another album before the end of this year. We can release that instead of an EP. I will cooperate for the promotional period following as well.”

“That’s...” Lan Xinghai looks at the man beside her, then around the table. 

Lan Zhengyan frowns at Lan Wangji. “An entire album?”

“Yes.”

“Minimum of six songs.”

“Yes.”

“Full instrumentals.”

“Yes.”

“I see.”

“And,” Lan Wangji says, “I will not be renewing my contract after this.”

He allows the yelling and outrage for a minute, and then holds up a hand again. “I have my contract here. And a projected timeline for the album, as well as a potential concept. If the board members would agree, I can get started right away.”

He meets Lan Zhengyan’s eyes across the length of the table, and knows he’s won.




 

 

 

[meals are better when shared #51] hot! pot!

847,881 views • December 8th

Yiling Laozu

i hope everyone is keeping cozy!
popo set aside an entire pot of mala tang
for me, i feel so loved! <3

also, an announcement:
this channel is going to be on an indefinite hiatus.
i’m fine, a-yuan is fine, everyone is fine;
i just need to take a little break to focus on personal stuff.
i’ll be back before you know it! thanks everyone :D

55,928 comments         SORT BY

snooby The pure red of that pot will haunt my nightmare

GongJiGongXi YLLZ’s spice tolerance strikes again!

pplmountainpplsea we’ll miss you!! pls take care <3

hailighter we havent seen “pretty-gege” in the past few v ideos ?

0hmaigah That AND yllz taking a hiatus? Right after hgj returned from his hiatus??

brightening Hanguangjun linked to YLLZ’s last video on his most recent weibo post...

YUNA Guys, I think HGJ probably just went back home? 

heiheiheh why the hiatus :((((( come back soon laozu

suisuibianbian oh look the stupid light army bullied yllz off youtube

00longtea Now ur just lookin for a fight dude

TianTian I tried to make the hot pot broth like this video! I love this series bc each meal looks so much fun!

luroufan mr laozu can i get a dinner invite i want hotpot toooooo

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Wei Ying stops responding to his emails.

Lan Wangji goes through the last few emails, scours every word. He’s taken to sending two in the space it takes for Wei Ying to reply. They’ve had a conversation about Wei Ying being busy helping Popo break the ends off si ji dou ( ... being babysat in broad daylight like i’m not a grown man!!!! how rude, can u believe, lan zhan? ), going for checkups at the hospital and following Wen Qing’s instructions on physical therapy. Wei Ying likes to respond to everything Lan Wangji writes him, so he’d rather find time to sit down and write back a long email instead of replying thoughtlessly every time. 

But Lan Wangji has already allowed an extra week to pass before sending the third one, and still, there has been no response. The last reply was full updates about A-Yuan attempting to fly a kite. There was nothing to imply that anything was wrong. Lan Wangji saves the new draft email and exits the browser. He’ll give it another week.

He still watches the Yiling Laozu channel with every new upload. The content is as soothing as always, but Wei Ying appears in front of the camera less and less. Lan Wangji can’t read his expression beyond the mask. He figures the man is still recovering. He tries his best to set aside his worries. 

With the pressing deadline of the new album he’d promised the agency, Lan Wangji throws himself into music once more.

 

 

 

 

The months fly by without him noticing. His album is written and recorded and produced in record time. He’s barely allowed a breath of relief before he finds himself in meetings to figure out tour dates and promotional events. He learns to play his new songs with his eyes closed, half-asleep.

It’s a hit.

The agency had nothing else to say to him, what with the overwhelming positive reaction to his new album. His social media accounts are flooded with notifications. Lan Wangji already rarely checks it, and now he’s had to delegate it to one of the agency’s interns to monitor. His days are filled with promotional events, travelling to promotional events, and getting ready for promotional events. It’s a whirlwind of adrenaline and exhaustion. He hasn’t missed it. But it’s familiar, too, in a way, and he falls into his jam-packed schedule with all the grace his uncle raised him with.

Lan Wangji performs two of his most popular singles on national live television for one of the Chunjie celebrations, and one song from his very first album. He nods through the MCs’ well-meaning jokes and variety show gimmicks and hurries off the stage at the first opportunity. For this, he is thankful for the untouchable reputation his agency has that allows him to dodge the half-humiliating games that celebrities must play on television in order to make a name for themselves in the entertainment industry. Lan Wangji skirts the line between detached courtesy and barely suppressed rudeness with his short answers and single-minded focus on playing his music. 

His tour kicks off. Between travelling and performing and fielding the interviews here and there, he is so busy he forgets to check his email. When he finally finds time, halfway through his tour in a hotel somewhere in Guangzhou, his last email to Wei Ying sits sullenly in his inbox. 

Lan Wangji stares at it for a long time. 

He has an early flight tomorrow. He closes the browser, turns off the laptop. Tucks himself into the hotel bed, ignores the unfamiliar softness of the mattress. It takes him a long while to fall into a restless sleep.

 

 

 

 

A week later, on the last leg of his tour, he emails Wen Qing. They haven’t kept in touch since he left, but she’s always been easy to talk to, back in the village. She’s smart and blunt, but effortlessly kind. Lan Wangji can understand why Wei Wuxian likes her so much.

She responds a day later. Her email is short and to the point.

Our village is doing fine. Congratulations on your new album. A-Yuan and the children miss you. 

Then, the most important part. Lan Wangji can picture her steady gaze, the set of her mouth that appears stern but reminds him of his older brother.

Wei Ying was the first to show us your new work. He played it on loop for days. I’ve heard the two of you playing together before—that song isn’t on this album, is it? I won’t demand answers from you, but I’ll tell you this: Wei Ying misses you, too. He’s been keeping himself busy in a way I haven’t seen since he first moved here. I can’t give you answers, either, Lan Wangji. I only ask that, if last summer meant anything to you at all, don’t give up on him. 

For a brief moment, Lan Wangji allows himself to imagine Wei Ying in his little room, Lan Wangji’s music keeping him company. Maybe Wei Ying will sway from side to side. He’s always had too much energy to burn off, fiddling with whatever is within reach even when he’s telling a story to the kids. Maybe Wei Ying will hum along, making up harmonies on the spot.

Lan Wangji shakes himself out of it quickly. The more he imagines, the more his chest aches. He wants to be there, next to Wei Ying. Not stretched across the country, filtered through worn speakers balanced precariously on Wei Ying’s desk. 

On a whim, Lan Wangji dives into his files and opens up Wangxian. He traces Wei Ying’s name where it sits neatly next to his own. He remembers Wei Ying sitting next to him one night, the last note from his dizi still ringing through the air. Wei Ying, he said. If it’s our song, then put ‘Wei Ying’ next to your name.

With a strange sort of urgency, Lan Wangji clicks through his folders until he finds the years-old draft of the very first and only song he ever wrote for a boy who had forever been imprinted in his mind as the essence of summer. It’s rusty, but nothing a few hours’ work won’t fix. The cursor hovers over the title field where it says Untitled. Lan Wangji closes his eyes. He hits backspace, and then pauses, fingers resting on the keyboard for one breathless moment.

He types two words. Leans back, stares. Nods to himself. The idea forming in his mind starts to take shape, like watercolour ink blooming across rice paper. The corners of his mouth turn up. He makes no effort to stop it.

 

 

 

 

“Hanguang-jun, everybody!”

Lan Wangji bows politely as the live audience screams and applauds. This television set is on the smaller side, his agent told him, but there’s still a sizable crowd sectioned off to one side of the camera crew. He clutches his microphone and prays for patience. 

“So, Lan Wangji,” the host says, smiling widely at him. “You certainly started this year off with a bang, didn’t you?”

“Mn. I am grateful for the opportunity to share new music again.”

“Yes, your fans had been waiting quite a while. And your sudden hiatus last year was a little bit of a shock! Tell us what were you up to last summer?”

Lan Wangji looks from the makeup-heavy smile of the host to the audience, and then the camera. “Finding inspiration,” he replies.

“Ah, haha, that makes sense! Every artist needs to go on a retreat every once in a while, right?”

“Mm.”

“There’s been rumours of Hanguang-jun guest-appearing on some Youtube channels. Do you want to comment on that? Put those rumours and conspiracy theories to rest?”

He’s been media-trained since he first debuted. Before agreeing to go on tv after returning, he’s also been briefed about topics such as these. Lan Wangji holds back a heavy sigh. “I took time off last summer for myself. I appreciate my fans for respecting my privacy so I can work hard on writing new music.”

The host claps, gesturing for the audience to cheer again. A few minutes more, Lan Wangji reminds himself, and then they can cut to commercial. 

“Anyway, that’s all old news. Today, we’re interested in your latest EP! It’s barely been a few months since your new album, Hanguang-jun. What can you tell us about this decision to release an EP all of a sudden? And only two songs on there. Two very good songs, mind you, I’ve seen many live-reaction Douyin that involve tears.”

Lan Wangji nods. “Those two songs hold a very special place in my heart as well. I had originally planned to release them earlier, but one felt incomplete without the other.”

“So they’re both a part of one story, then? Hanguang-jun, let me ask for clarity’s sake— love songs, aren’t they?”

“... I’d like to think so.”

The host’s smile shifts into something sharper, and Lan Wangji braces himself. “Now, you mentioned that the two songs are a packaged deal. We can’t help but notice that for the second one, you collaborated with someone? Hanguang-jun, you’ve never done that before! And with someone we’ve never heard of, either? Can you tell us a bit more about this mysterious Wei Ying?”

At this, Lan Wangji pauses. “Wei Ying is a very dear friend. The songs would not have been written without them.” 

“The songs, you say. Both of them? Was the other one inspired by this Wei Ying, too? We all know Hanguang-jun is notoriously lowkey about his personal life, but just this once, Lan Wangji, tell us, is this a hint at a torrid love affair? Because, those songs, while beautiful, are really quite heart-wrenching. I can see many people in our audience agreeing with me. Did Wei Ying break your heart? Does the light army have to defend their Hanguang-jun?”

“No,” Lan Wangji says. “I did not release these songs for a confrontation. Please respect Wei Ying’s and my privacy. I only thought that we put effort into something wonderful, and I believe the world deserved to know.” He looks at the camera. Imagines Wei Ying somewhere out there, watching. As sincerely as he can, he says, “I wanted to say this: for a long time, I thought I had lost something that I had held so close to my heart for years and years. And then I found it again, and I didn’t want to let go. I still don’t. So while I’m finding my way back, I only hope you can wait for me.”

The host coughs, breaking the sudden tension in the room. He grins at the camera. “Well, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’d be willing to wait millions of years for Hanguang-jun. Hopefully, they will, too, or else they’d be the fool who let Hanguang-jun go! Thank you, Lan Wangji, for joining us today. Let’s let you get ready for a very special performance after the break, shall we?”

Lan Wangji lets himself be ushered off the stage. His heart is pounding loud in his ears. But he doesn’t regret a thing. Not a single word he’s said, not the hours he’s spent poring over music notes by Wei Ying’s side. He only hopes that Wei Ying is listening.

 

 

 

 

The internet explodes with theories and wild threads about Lan Wangji’s lost love and tragic breakup. He’s been tagged in multiple posts asking to verify Wei Ying’s identity. Lan Wangji tells the intern in charge of his social media to block the most aggressive of these accounts and ignore the rest. 

He means to send an email to Wei Ying. An apology of sorts. For dragging him into the spotlight, because it surely won’t be long before someone digs deeper into the Yiling Laozu account and connect ‘Wei Ying’ to ‘Wei Wuxian.’ But the agency wasn’t happy about him releasing the EP on his own, outside of the Lan label; Lan Wangji is swamped with meetings dealing damage control again. He lets his brother talk him into agreeing to songwriting requests on the Lan Agency behalf, and commits to performing at scheduled festivals to fulfill his contract.

There is still no reply from Wei Ying. The draft of Lan Wangji’s email ( Are you eating well? Are you angry at me? Do you dream of me like I do you. Do you wish you never agreed to put your song next to mine ) lies in his inbox, gathering dust.

 

 

 

 

He’s rounding the corner back to his apartment lobby when someone calls his name. At first, he thinks he’s imagined it, but the person calls out again.

Lan Wangji turns. His grip on the bag of groceries loosens before he catches himself. Wei Ying is standing across the street. He’s wearing a long, black coat, something that must be new with how shiny it looks, but it suits him. Even from this distance, Lan Wangji can feel the warmth from Wei Ying’s smile.

The light changes, and Wei Ying practically sprints across the crosswalk. Lan Wangji doesn’t think he’s breathed since he turned around. He readjusts his grip on his groceries and forces himself to take a breath. It would be quite sad if he passed out before Wei Ying could reach him. Not to mention how messy it would be to clean up broken eggs from his reusable shopping tote. 

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying says, skidding to a stop in front of him. “It is you! I’m glad I caught you, I thought I might have had to loiter outside your building until you walked by. Or until security calls the cops on me or something.”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji manages. “What... are you doing here?”

Wei Ying chuckles. It’s a nervous sound. “I, ah. Can we—is it okay if we go up to your place? Or, like, we can go to a cafe, but—your groceries...”

Lan Wangji blinks. They both look down at the bag in his hands. The leek is sticking out the top, like he’s in a manhua. Lan Wangji clears his throat. “Let’s,” he says, gesturing for Wei Ying to follow.

In the elevator, Lan Wangji stares at Wei Ying out of the corners of his eye. He feels as if the man will disappear if he looks away from him. Wei Ying’s bangs have grown longer since Lan Wangji last saw him—instead of his usual half-pony, Wei Ying has his hair up in a high ponytail, the end just reaching his shoulders. Lan Wangji drinks in the sight of him, even as he wonders what else about him has changed while Lan Wangji wasn’t there to witness it.

His apartment is as quiet as ever when he lets them in. He’s lived here for years, but watching Wei Ying glance around the space, Lan Wangji suddenly feels like a stranger in his own home. He busies himself with putting away the groceries. “Would you like some tea?”

“Ah, sure!”

He makes tea. 

They settle at the dining table, both sipping from their respective cups of tea for an awkward minute. Lan Wangji’s mind is completely blank, except for a tiny voice going, Wei Ying! Wei Ying! Wei Ying! on a continuous loop. He had plans after groceries. A schedule. That’s all gone flying out the window now.

Finally, Wei Ying sets down his cup. “So, uh. Lan Zhan,” he starts. “How have you been? Are you still busy with work?”

“... It is alright. Not as much as earlier this year.”

“Right, you had a whole tour and everything. I saw on your Weibo. I really liked your album.”

“Thank you.”

“Ah, I’m messing this up—” Wei Ying tugs at his ponytail. “I didn’t come here to make small talk. Not that I don’t like listening to you talk, and catching up, and just, well, being with you in general—I mean. I guess I owe you an explanation.”

Lan Wangji slides his thumb across the rim of his cup. “You do not owe me anything.”

Wei Ying shakes his head. “You sent me so many emails, Lan Zhan. And I didn’t reply. You must have thought I’d ghosted you or something.”

“Wei Ying wouldn’t do that.”

Aiyo, Lan Zhan. You’re too good. I’m sorry about not replying. I read every single email, you know? Started a few drafts, too, but. I don’t know. I couldn’t hit send. It felt like... like I was watching you run full speed ahead, without me, and whatever I managed to type out in those drafts just felt like they were no good. Like I wasn’t good enough.”

“Wei Ying...”

“No, let me talk. Or else I’ll just chicken out and then Wen Qing will hit me and call me a wimp again.”

Lan Wangji can imagine Wen Qing’s disapproving face very clearly. He dutifully drinks his tea in silence.

“Ah... what I’m trying to say is, this past year, getting to know you, and then these past few months, watching you succeed—I started thinking. That maybe Wen Qing is right, maybe I have been hiding for too long. I always thought it was better that way, you know? I wouldn’t have to hurt anyone if I just stayed under the radar. Jiang Cheng and Yanli-jie would be better off without me causing trouble for them. But maybe I just ended up causing Wen Qing and her family trouble instead.”

Lan Wangji wants to point out that the Wens love Wei Ying. Anyone who knows him can’t help but love him. Truly, it must be a miracle that Wei Ying has managed to disappear as much as he has for the past five years.

“Lan Zhan, you asked me what it was that I wanted. I thought I knew—I thought I was fine with just wanting.” Wei Ying’s eyes are wide and so, so bright. Lan Wangji can’t look away. “But watching you through a screen, listening to your music through the speakers instead of right next to me, it wasn’t enough. I felt like I was falling behind. So, I did what I did best,” Wei Ying laughs, fingers running through his messy bangs. “I followed my impulses.

“I contacted the agent Jiang Cheng told me about. Turns out she went to school with a-jie’s husband, but she’s much cooler than he is. She knows about what happened with Wen Qing and about me punching that gallery owner in the face... but she didn’t care. She’s pretty cool, that Mianmian. She helped me get my foot in some smaller exhibitions. We submitted my works to contests, and—look.” Wei Ying digs through the worn bag beside him and pulls out a magazine. He flips through to a bookmarked page and splays it out on the table for Lan Wangji to see.

It is a full spread, the calligraphy work on one page and a write up on Wei Ying’s past works on the other. Comeback in bold strokes, the title says. There’s a brief paragraph about Wei Ying’s absence from the world of calligraphy in the past few years, but it does not go into further detail. The focus is on his most recent works. The featured one in particular is... Breathtaking. On snow-white paper, the dark ink looks suspended in midair, dancing in Wei Ying’s carefree and beautiful hand.

掌握快樂   擁有幸福。

To possess bliss, to have happiness.

The words are written in thick, broad strokes. There are small splatters around each character where Wei Ying flicked the brush with those quick, graceful movements of his. At first glance, one might think it messy, but the more one looks, the more the words seem to fly off the page. Like they’re full of life, just like the person who wrote them down—reaching out to hold that happiness, breathing, blood-pumping, with their own hands.

“I’ve only gotten second place,” Wei Ying is saying. “But I’ve been experimenting with different styles so it makes sense the judges might be reluctant to accept my works, not to mention my name and all. Still, though. It’s nice. To be acknowledged.”

“That’s wonderful,” Lan Wangji tells him honestly.

Wei Ying blinks at him. Then he smiles, soft and sweet. “Thanks, Lan Zhan. But I didn’t just come here to brag! I think it’s time for your explanation. What’s with that EP, ah, Hanguang-jun?”

Ah. Lan Wangji knew this was coming. His stomach has been clenched with fluttering butterflies since he invited Wei Ying up to his apartment. The songs were a question, thrown out into the void. Now, his answer has arrived.

“The agency,” Lan Wangji starts, “did not want your name on the song. I did not want to release it without your name on it. We were at a standstill for a while, until I agreed to do the album. But I didn’t want our song to be forgotten. I didn’t want you to think I was ashamed of it.”

“And... the other one? That’s the one I’ve been playing before, isn’t it? I thought it was an old song, even though no one else seems to have heard of it before. But you... you wrote it?”

Lan Wangji lets out a slow breath. “When I was fifteen, I attended a summer camp for the traditional arts. I was not a very sociable child. I was aware of that, and everyone around me was, too. But there was a boy who refused to leave me alone. 

“One night, there was a terrible storm. The boy and I ended up trapped in the library. He had run through the rain to warn me about the potential power outage, but he had not thought to bring an umbrella. In the midst of his developing fever, the boy asked me to play a song.”

Wei Ying has stilled across the table from him. Lan Wangji does not look up at him. Not yet. Not while his heart is a trembling bunny in his chest.

“I had been composing that song for weeks,” Lan Wangji confesses. “Since I first confronted the boy for breaking curfew the first night of camp. That night in the library was the first and last time I ever played that song. Until now.”

“Lan Zhan.”

“Mm.”

“Lan Zhan.

Lan Wangji gathers his courage and looks up. Wei Ying is staring at him, eyes wide, mouth open. “I’m sorry,” Lan Wangji says. “For not telling you sooner.”

“No,” blurts Wei Ying. “No sorrys. That’s... I’m sorry for not recognizing you. All this time, I—You wrote that song for me?”

“Mn.”

Aiyah, Lan Zhan! You’re too—you’re so—incredible! Just! Ah!” The last bit is muffled behind his hands as Wei Ying slumps onto the table.

“... Wei Ying?” 

The other man suddenly sits up right. When he meets Lan Wangji’s gaze again, his eyes are blazing. It stirs at something in Lan Wangji’s gut, makes his heart beat faster.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says. “Before, when we talked about what we wanted, what would make us happy... I still want all that. I want to keep the village, the Wens, A-Yuan—and I decided I don’t want to give up on calligraphy, either. Or Jiang Cheng, or jiejie. Wei Wuxian or the Yiling Patriarch, they’re all me, all Wei Ying. Lan Zhan, you inspired me to try, to try and have both, to keep all of it. But it’s not enough.”

“Not enough?”

Wei Ying shakes his head. His lips quirk up a little. Lan Wangji can’t look away from him, even though he’s sure his heartbeat is thundering loud by now. “These past few months, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I’m not asking for too much. Then I heard Wuji and Wangxian. I’d like to think I’m a little braver now. I’m facing my past, and looking forwards, and Lan Zhan...”

With his heart in his throat, Lan Wangji watches as Wei Ying stands and rounds the table. He lets the other man take hold of his hands. They’re warm.

“You asked me to wait for you,” Wei Ying says, a smile blossoming across his face, “but is it okay if I meet you halfway instead?”

What else can Lan Wangji say but yes?



 

 

 

 

calligraphy asmr ft. the best guqin instrumental

1,154,893 views • July 13th

Yiling Laozu

working on some commissions and thought i’d share
i hope you’ve all been well!
i’ve been busy these past couple of months
but i’ve got a backlog of videos for you all <3
surprise! i’m actually good at calligraphy ;)

203,250 comments         SORT BY

heiheiheh MR YLLZ YOURE ALIVE!!!!!!! 

fr0gg0 i came here for calligraphy but i see u have food? videos? nyoomin’

lianhua3 Welcome back :D

YUNA It’s HGJ’s song! The calligraphy is so beautiful

Lulu so are th rumours truee? is hgj and this guy ?

brightening Is this Wei Ying??

suisuibianbian can y’all just stop. don’t u have a forum to go to

pplmountainpplsea glad to see you’re back! this is a different taste from your other videos but it’s just as soothing, thank y... +read more

narut0 You know. His calligraphy looks Familar

RADISH KUN i took calligraphy classes for years and mine still looks like a child’s fingerpainting 😭

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Lan Wangji wakes up to sunlight streaming in through his window. 

It’s late, much later than he has gotten up in years. His blinds are still down, the door to the bedroom closed the way it usually is. For a moment, he stares at the blank ceiling. Did he dream all of yesterday? But no. He’s sleeping closer to the edge of the bed than he usually would. And if he turns his face into the pillow, he can smell something amidst his usual sandalwood scent, something like faint citrus—like Wei Ying. And there, thrown carelessly over his chair, is a red shirt that does not belong to Lan Wangji. 

He lets himself lie there for a moment longer, breathing in the scent of last night. Savouring the traces of Wei Ying’s presence here, in his room, in his bed. Then he sits up and goes to search for a shirt.

When he rounds the corner into the kitchen, he finds Wei Ying standing at the stove. He is humming slightly, in the process of pressing congyoubing over the egg he’s frying in the pan. He’s dressed in one of Lan Wangji’s sweaters, the long sleeves rolled up to his elbows, the wide collar showing off the beautiful arch of his neck. The sight of him moving so casually in Lan Wangji’s kitchen is almost too much to bear. 

Not a dream, Lan Wangji reminds himself.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying smiles over his shoulder at him. “I didn’t know what toppings you liked. Do you want soy sauce over it?”

“Mm. Thank you.”

“You cooked for me for an entire summer, Lan Zhan, no thank yous needed! Ah, that one is a bit burnt, take this one.”

Lan Wangji takes the plate he is offered. The congyoubing is a nice golden brown, the egg fluffy and comfortably tucked in between the folded onion pancake. It smells wonderful. He gathers chopsticks and finds mugs to pour soy milk for them both.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Lan Wangji has never skipped it. It is one of his favourite times of the day, when the silence and stillness of the morning is welcome, the rest of the world outside the window far away. Back in the village, he looked forward to seeing Wei Ying wake up with every bite. Now, it is the same. Something about watching Wei Ying across from him at his dining table in his apartment, adorned in his clothes with his bangs flopping into his eyes, makes everything feel so much more intimate. Lan Wangji takes a bite, and savours the taste.

It isn’t until their plates are empty that the silence between them shifts from comfortable to something else. Not wrong, but more. As if a baited breath, a bubble full to bursting. Lan Wangji watches Wei Ying fidget with his half-full mug of soy milk across the table. With his hair down, he looks so much younger. Soft. Like the worn white ribbon Lan Wangji’s mother gave him, like the insides of his thighs. Something special, a little secret he wants to keep from the rest of the world.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying begins. Then he stops. He sends Lan Wangji a sheepish smile. “Ah... Did you sleep well? I hope I didn’t bother you last night—Jiang Cheng used to hate sharing a bed with me because apparently I hog the blankets. He learned to just kick me off the bed, haha.”

 “I slept well. Did you?”

“Mm, yes. Really well. Best sleep I’ve had in ages.”

Lan Wangji frowns. “Where have you been staying?”

“Oh, at my brother’s. He lives in the next city over.” Wei Ying shrugs. “He’s really busy, so I barely see him. He did leave me many angry voice messages this morning though. Don’t worry, I told him you didn’t kidnap me and more importantly, that I didn’t forcibly insert myself into your personal space. Well, I mean, I sort of did, but you don’t mind. Do you? You’d tell me if you minded, right, Lan Zhan?”

“Wei Ying is not a bother.”

Aiyo, Lan Zhan, you sweet talker.”

Lan Wangji reaches out and tucks a curl behind Wei Ying’s ear. “Not sweet talking,” he tells him, “just the truth.”

Wei Ying smiles at him. It’s his soft smile, smaller than the others, but his eyes crinkle at the corners like they’re sparkling. “I’ll take your word for it, then,” he says. Then, “What now?”

“Hm?”

“We’re together, right? Dating? You and me, a thing?”

Ears aglow, Lan Wangji nods.

“But you’re still busy with your work, right? And I have my calligraphy to work on. Mianmian says I have an offer for a commission up north next week, actually, my train ticket is already booked. So. There’s that.” Wei Ying glances down at the table. When he looks back up at Lan Wangji, his eyes are wide and so earnest, Lan Wangji can feel his breath catch in his throat. “Lan Zhan. I want—I want this to work. Us, I mean. No matter how hard or how long it takes.”

“Me, too.”

“That’s good. I’m glad.”

Lan Wangji holds his hand out, palm facing up. His heart skips when Wei Ying places his own on top of it without hesitation. “My schedule is tied up until the end of the year. After that, my contract will have finally expired.”

“And then?”

“And then,” says Lan Wangji, “I would like to join you. If you would have me.”

“Of course I’d have you, Lan Zhan! Always! In every way!”

“Wei Ying!”

“It’s the truth!”

Their fingers slide into place together, like a key into a lock. A homecoming. Lan Wangji tugs on their hands, leaning in to capture Wei Ying’s lips with his own. They spent a long time just kissing last night, until they fell asleep, as if making up for all the times they could have been kissing last summer. Wei Ying kisses like he does anything: confidently, freely, like he’s pouring every last bit of his soul into this one thing. Lan Wangji can drown in it. What an honour it is to be the object of Wei Ying’s focus, his affections. Kissing him now has lost none of the novelty from the night before.

“Ah, Lan Zhan, wait,” Wei Ying mumbles against his ear. 

Lan Wangji hums, teeth nipping at the soft skin just underneath his jaw. Wei Ying is not ticklish, but he tends to squirm when he is bitten. This is a discovery that delights Lan Wangji to no end. 

“Wait,” Wei Ying says again, breathless. He grips Lan Wangji’s head with both hands and forces space between them. He is just as dazzling with flushed cheeks as he is when smiling wide. “Not that I’m not totally into this, into you, but—Are you sure? I know we’re kind of moving fast, considering we only confessed last night and then shared a bed, even if it’s only in the most innocent sense—”

“Wei Ying.” A thrill runs through him at interrupting, but it turns into something else he wants to explore later when he sees the other man shut his mouth with a click. “I am also ‘totally into this.’ I want to do everything with you. We can take as much or as little time as we need.”

“Okay,” says Wei Ying. “Okay. Kiss me harder, Lan Er-gege.”

Gladly, Lan Wangji obeys. 

Later, sprawled across the bed with their legs still tangled together and Wei Ying’s head resting on his chest, Lan Wangji stares up at the ceiling. It is the same white ceiling from this morning, but somehow, his room seems much brighter than when he left it. Not just because of the progressing daylight; any room with Wei Ying in it is sunny. 

“I have to head back today,” Wei Ying says against his chest. He’s lazily tracing words into Lan Wangji’s skin.

It’s only reasonable. Lan Wangji knows this, but still, he cannot help the wave of disappointment that flows through him at the realization that he will have to let this man go. His hand tightens around Wei Ying’s hip, prompting Wei Ying to laugh.

“Let me make you a meal before you go.”

“Will you make my favourites?”

“... I will have to step out to buy some chili sauce, but I can.”

He feels Wei Ying’s lips brush against his clavicle. Then the slight sting of teeth digging into his skin. “You’re too sweet, Lan Zhan. Don’t be so kind to me, you’ll make me never want to leave.”

“Mn. Will be kinder to Wei Ying.”

“Nnngh! Lan Zhan!”

Burying a smile into Wei Ying’s hair, Lan Wangji closes his eyes. He tries to memorize the feeling of this, of Wei Ying in his arms, of someone’s body heat mingling with his own, of the early afternoon sunlight dappled over them both. The gentle warmth ballooning in his chest, of knowing this is not a dream and knowing that he can have this. 

When Wei Ying finally has to leave, Lan Wangji goes with him to the station. They don’t hold hands, but they stand together, close enough their arms are pressed against each other. If they both linger a little too long for that one last hug, it is nobody else’s business but their own.

“I’ll see you next summer,” Wei Ying calls to him before the train doors close.

“Next summer,” Lan Wangji promises.

 

 

 

 

“No running inside the house!” Wen Qing yells, shooing the children out. The kids, shrieking with laughter, dart out into the back yard, messily organizing a game of tag as they go. 

Lan Wangji watches as Jiang Cheng drags Jin Zixuan out to keep an eye on the children. Jiang Yanli is over by the stove, quietly conversing with Wen Ning over the tea eggs and the pots of lotus root soup, one without pork ribs. She is as lovely as Wei Ying has described. Their first meeting, she managed to wheedle Lan Wangji’s favourite foods out of him as well as plant a seed of fear in him should he ever make the mistake of hurting Wei Ying, all in the same conversation. He thinks she’d get along well with his brother.

Wen Qing hands him another pack of wonton wrappers. Lan Wangji nods in thanks. He shifts the bowl of filling closer to the middle. Falling into the familiar comfortable silence of working alongside Wen Qing is like putting on his favourite sweater. It fits just right. He’s missed her, as much as he’s missed everyone in this village. They’ve traded a handful of emails in the past year, finalizing plans and little updates. But Wen Qing’s quiet kindness cannot be replaced by words on a screen, her eyerolls and her quips and her persistent care for her family. Lan Wangji is surprised and grateful to know he is considered part of her family, just as much as Wei Ying is.

“You know, for a while there,” Wen Qing says, “I thought I was going to have to write you off.”

“Ah.”

“I know Wei Ying isn’t your responsibility, and you were only here for a break, anyway. But we’ve all seen the two of you. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if you had stayed.”

“I wanted to,” Lan Wangji admits.

Wen Qing shrugs. She pinches the wonton closed and plants it on the tray. “It is what it is. I guess I should thank you, anyway. Because I was there when Wei Wuxian went up in flames. I saw him at his lowest. If you had sent him back there again, I would have hunted you down—but you didn’t. Instead, I think you pushed him to move forward, to go further. So, thank you.”

“It was Wei Ying’s decision.”

“Yeah, yeah. He’s your problem now, got it? If you decide to resell this house and move back into the city after all, you better take him with you. Do not let him mope after you again.” Before Lan Wangji can say anything, Wen Qing fixes him with a glare. “You understand that if you hurt him, Jiang Yanli is not the only older sister you’ll have to watch out for.”

Lan Wangji nods. They go back to folding wontons in productive silence. The kitchen is filled with the sounds of preparation, pots boiling and steamers whistling, the soft murmurs of Jiang Yanli filtering through the aroma of food being cooked, the laughter of the children floating in through the open door at the back of the kitchen. They’ve dug out some fans from one of the uncle’s storage rooms and opened the windows in the living area, but sitting in the heat of the kitchen at the height of summer, Lan Wangji can feel sweat sticking his shirt to his skin. Still, he feels good. The only thing missing is— 

“We’re back!” Wei Ying calls. A moment later, he appears around the corner, face flushed from being in the sun, messy curls plastered to his face from the sweat. Lan Wangji wants to lick his face. He settles for pinching a wonton closed and tilting his face up. As expected, Wei Ying bounds over and smacks a quick kiss on the offered cheek.

“It smells wonderful in here,” Lan Xichen says, following Wei Ying into the kitchen. He sets down a watermelon on the counter. Behind him, the Nie brothers follow, one dressed in a tank top and one all wrapped up to protect his skin from the sun.

Ge,” Lan Wangji greets. He nods at the others as they pass to be delegated a task by Jiang Yanli. The house is not big in the first place, but it’s a housewarming party, the Jiang siblings decided, so everyone must gather to help out and to celebrate. 

Wei Ying drags a stool over next to him. “Lan Zhan,” he whispers, leaning into Lan Wangji. “Your brother’s kind of scary.”

“Hm?”

“How does he smile like that while also threatening to murder me in my sleep if I break your heart?”

“Brother wouldn’t murder you.”

“You’re right. He’d get Mingjue -ge to do it.”

“Will Wei Ying break my heart?”

“What, no! I’d break my own heart first!”

This silly, beautiful man. Lan Wangji loves him. He gives Wei Ying a peck on the side of his head. “Your older sisters are just as scary.”

“Sisters?” Wei Ying peers across the table. “Did you give him a shovel talk, too?”

Wen Qing sends him an unimpressed look. “Someone has to look out for you since you won’t do it yourself.”

Aiyo, I’ve managed to survive to twenty-six, haven’t I?”

“A miracle, truly.”

A-jie! Wen Qing is bullying me!” 

Jiang Yanli turns from the stove and smiles indulgently. Lan Wangji watches Wei Ying cling to his sister, sticking his tongue out at Wen Qing while Wen Ning laughs. On the other side of the kitchen, Lan Xichen is helping Nie Mingjue plate the cold dishes that were prepared the night before. Nie Huaisang has somehow been coerced to join the children outside, where Jiang Cheng has the genius idea to turn on the hose. It’s loud and warm and so full of life.

He makes eye contact with his brother. Lan Xichen raises an eyebrow. Lan Wangji smiles. He turns to hide a huff of laughter when his brother nearly drops the container of pickled hei mu’er.  

The food is served outside, with whatever spare tables light enough to move from nearby houses. The whole village is here. Wei Ying spends his time flitting about the crowd, making the aunties blush and teasing the uncles, chattering with Popo, telling exaggerated stories to the children. Lan Wangji is content to sit in the corner, nodding politely when people wander by to officially welcome him back. 

A-Yuan siddles up to him. He hands Lan Wangji a watermelon slice. “Gege, does this mean you are going to be living here from now on?”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji answers. “Wei Ying and I both live here now. You can visit anytime.”

“Are you both staying?”

“A-Yuan?”

The boy stares at his watermelon for a long moment. “You both left.”

“We did. But we came back.”

“To stay?”

Lan Wangji glances over to where Wei Ying has his arms around his sister and brother, the Wen siblings next to them, deep in conversation and laughing so freely. “Yes,” he says.

“Forever?”

He looks back at A-Yuan. He only hesitates for a second before reaching out to pat the boy’s head. “I don’t know about forever,” he says honestly. “But I like this place. I like A-Yuan. And Wei Ying does, too. So even if we don’t stay here forever, we could come back to see you. And if you grow up and find that you want to go somewhere else, that is fine, too. Because you can always come back whenever you want.”

A-Yuan looks up at him with wide, earnest eyes. “We can come back.”

“Yes.”

“Okay,” A-Yuan says. He chomps down on his watermelon. “I’m glad you came back, Rich-gege.

“Me, too,” Lan Wangji says.

Some time later, when most of the villagers have made their way home and A-Yuan and the rest of the kids have started a watermelon seed-spitting contest, Wei Ying sits down on the bench next to Lan Wangji. He stretches his arms out in front of him. “That was fun, huh? Looks like everyone missed you.”

“They missed Wei Ying, too.”

“Nn. Missed me sticking cameras up all over the place, haha.”

“You’re part of the village.”

Wei Ying tilts his head. “Yeah. I guess I am.” He looks at Lan Wangji. “Now you are, too.”

Lan Wangji nods. He reaches out and takes Wei Ying’s hand, just because he can. The children’s laughter floats over, gently carried by the quiet conversation of the adults sitting on the plastic chairs. Cicada song plays out like a symphony around them. The soundtrack of summer, draped around their shoulders. 

“I’m glad we came back,” he says.

Humming, Wei Ying lifts their linked hands to kiss Lan Wangji’s knuckles. Some part of Lan Wangji still trembles at such simple acts of affection, so easily handed out. He wants to press his lips against every part of Wei Ying, to hold him close and crawl into his very soul, where surely only the purest form of sunshine exists. He settles for squeezing Wei Ying’s hand.

“Me, too,” says Wei Ying. He smiles at Lan Wangji. “Wanna kick everyone out so we can head to bed? We have an entire summer to make up for, huh?”

Lan Wangji loves him so much.

With the slow-setting sun still hovering somewhere behind the mountain, they wave goodbye to their friends and family. A-Yuan runs back to hug them both. He waves with both arms at the end of the gravel road, Wen Ning waving less wildly behind him. Wei Ying’s laughter bubbles out from beside him. Lan Wangji can write whole albums on that sound alone. For now, he lets his very personal sun tug him through the doors to their house, all the way through the doors and into their bed.

He’s happy enough that he doesn’t mind if this summer ends. There will be plenty more to come.



 

 

 

a song for an endless summer :D

55,201,314 views • May 20th

Yiling Laozu

this song has stolen lots of people’s hearts,
including mine! here’s our dizi and guqin cover :)

i wish everyone a happy summer!

899,568 comments         SORT BY

pplmountainpplsea <3<3 this was so beautiful, thank you for sharing!

YUNA That’s... I know they’re wearing masks, but...

yangguang HANGUANGJUN???????

Radish Baby so does this mean yllz is wei ying?

snowXbright I Knew we were right about hgj dating yllz........

hanguangbun ok i know therell be no confirmation but. holy sh1t

TangTang Omg this made me cry

Fan Fan wow~ i wish i had someone to duet with me~

heiheiheh mr laozu i am once again asking u to share some talent w the rest of us,

turnipcake It’s so sexy of him to be able to do literally all the things

Skylights881 They seem like really good friends, I’m glad they made up!

chenqing this cover healed my soul and made me believe in love again 🥰