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a shot (of vodka) to the heart

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Wei Wuxian was beyond bored.

Granted, one might say it was his own fault. After all, he’d been at the club for over an hour without moving from his spot at the bar, gaze fixed unseeingly on the writhing bodies that made up the dance floor in front of him.

He was on his fourth drink. His friends, those traitors, had long since left. Wen Qing had dragged Mianmian off to dance, disappearing into the darkness with nothing but her signature glare in farewell. Jiang Cheng had flicked him on the forehead – hard – and told him to stop being such a loser before running off with Nie Huaisang to do god knows what. Even sweet little Wen Ning had bumped into a classmate and abandoned him!

Wei Wuxian scoffed quietly to himself. Of course, it wouldn’t normally bother him. He was Wei Wuxian, after all! Certified Life of the Party. Always the first one to start dancing, pressing against a willing partner or two and losing himself for hours. He practically fed off the pulsating lights and music and movement, but tonight he didn’t feel the same pull. He didn’t see anyone enticing, though there were as many attractive faces and bodies as ever. Hell, he didn’t even feel like looking, let alone anything more.

No matter how hard he tried to clear his mind, it remained occupied by a certain unbelievably attractive, entirely unattainable someone that he went to school with. Regrettably, it was a year-old dilemma. While his infatuation seemed to grow by the day, a couple of drinks and a catchy song were usually enough to distract him. However, in the face of his most recent encounter, and as evidenced by the past hour of brooding, it was no longer a viable coping method. All because that very morning, he had finally gotten close enough to the object of his affection – or perhaps obsession, at this point – to pick up the scent of woodsy cologne wafting from him.

As if that wasn’t enough to rocket him further into his eternal state of pining, Wei Wuxian had also noticed the rabbit keychain the man had hanging from his satchel. It was white and fluffy, for fuck’s sake! Wei Wuxian seriously almost had a stroke right there on the sidewalk. Now every time he closed his eyes, he saw the little charm swinging like a hypnotist’s pendulum, impossible to forget. (And no, as he had already complained to Jiang Cheng about a hundred times in the hours following the Incident, he wasn’t being dramatic in the least.)

So really, it wasn’t his fault, thank you very much. That cute, model-looking motherfucker was the reason Wei Wuxian couldn’t stop sulking. Draining the rest of his glass, he turned to order a shot of vodka, resolving to empty his head for real this time. He’d let the precious alcohol do its job, find someone smoking hot, and be rid of that cursed image once and for all! Maybe, he mused, he’d even go home with someone. He hadn’t since last year, but why not start again now? He was young and sexy! The world was his oyster, and all that.

Ugh. He wrinkled his nose, not even able to convince himself. Slouching again, elbows digging into the polished wood of the bar, he scanned the dancers vacantly. His eyes caught for a moment on a long ponytail bobbing in the throng, slid past, and then snapped back. He straightened almost violently, shot entirely forgotten. The silky-looking hair shifted through an opening in the crowd, directly into his line of sight. It reminded him of... it almost looked like —

It was. Holy fuck.

To be precise, it was the very man Wei Wuxian saw around campus but was uncharacteristically too afraid (and aroused) to speak to. The man Wei Wuxian had been calling Sexy Statue in his head – and several times out loud after getting too drunk at Wen Qing’s – for lack of a name. The man who sent disapproving glares straight into his soul whenever he came within a hundred feet, strong enough to shame even the shameless Wei Wuxian. The man who seemed to have a sixth sense for his presence, even on the rare occasions he hadn’t been disturbing anyone.

Though Wei Wuxian had always been struck by those eyes, that morning was the first time he’d seen their true color – a burnished gold barely softened by unfairly long lashes. Despite that life-changing discovery, Wei Wuxian couldn’t help but be greedy. He spent the rest of the day lost in thought, completely ignoring his professors in favor of imagining what Sexy Statue’s voice might sound like. He had still been daydreaming in the Uber to the club; it was almost as though he had manifested this encounter through the sheer force of his pathetic longing.

Every time Wei Wuxian had seen him, Sexy Statue had been elegant and expressionless, impeccably dressed and radiating an aura that kept everyone at a distance. But not tonight. As Wei Wuxian observed him, he noticed that his perpetual ponytail was no longer perfectly pulled back. Strands of hair had come loose, framing Sexy Statue’s barely flushed face. His gaze was no longer piercing, now heavy in a different way – hooded and unfocused. Instead of his typical pressed trousers and collared shirts, he wore tight white jeans, a pale blue tank top, and the ribbon headband he apparently never took off.

Before he could start drooling, Wei Wuxian froze, catching the biggest contrast of all. There was a man wrapped around Sexy Statue, one arm splayed possessively across his stomach and the other wound into his long hair.

Wei Wuxian lost his breath. Sexy Statue had a boyfriend? He couldn’t wrap his head around the conclusion, and moreover, his reaction to it. Why did he feel so heartbroken all of a sudden?

Sure, he lusted after Sexy Statue, but it wasn’t that deep, right? It’s not as though he had once spent almost an hour carefully observing Sexy Statue as he sat under a tree on the quad, long fingers turning each page in the book he was reading with care. Wei Wuxian had been late to class that day. On another occasion, he’d seen Sexy Statue crouched in front of a bush, uncaring of his pristine trench coat puddling at his feet. He’d seemed to be trying to coax something out of the foliage, elegant hand extended nonthreateningly. Wei Wuxian had watched, transfixed, until Jiang Cheng interrupted and began bitching about him skipping out on their lunch plans.

Fuck.

So maybe he had gone and developed a huge, stupid crush based entirely on good looks, a few small actions, and enough fantasizing to fill a romance novel. Worse, he’d chosen someone who, by all accounts, hated him. Worst, he’d somehow deluded himself into believing it was only sexual until this very moment, when it was all blowing up in his face very painfully. And now, he couldn’t tear his eyes away, even as something in the pit of his stomach protested. Maybe it was sick, but he had to see the way they moved together. He’d allow himself one night of wallowing, of picturing himself in the other man’s place, and then he’d get plastered and force himself to get over it. One night of imagining he was the one holding Sexy Statue, having him... stand limp in his grip?

Wait.

Wei Wuxian looked closer. The man now had his face buried in Sexy Statue’s neck. He was surely wrapped around him in a manner fit for a couple, or at least a potential one night stand. But Sexy Statue wasn’t responding enthusiastically. He wasn’t grinding against the man, or winding an arm around his neck to encourage his actions. He wasn’t responding at all. He just stood there, swaying slightly, arms limp at his sides. He stared straight ahead, blinking every so often. He was so obviously intoxicated, so clearly unaware, that he might as well have been sleepwalking.

The cold wash of despair inside Wei Wuxian was overtaken by fury. How dare that man put his hands on Sexy Statue, on anyone, without consent? How dare he breach Sexy Statue’s personal space, which he so clearly cherished? Darkness welled up inside Wei Wuxian, compelling him to charge forward without a second thought. It propelled him, eating up the space like a black hole of wrath, and he reached Sexy Statue in what felt like a single stride. He had time to register those molten eyes widening before directing his ire at the man behind him.

What the fuck do you think you’re doing?

The man jerked his head up from Sexy Statue’s throat, startling at the venom in Wei Wuxian’s tone. There was spit shining where his mouth had been. Wei Wuxian was going to fucking kill him. The man was nowhere near good enough for Sexy Statue, even without the blatant assault. He scowled at Wei Wuxian, beady eyes squinting through the flashing lights.

What does it look like? he snapped back, trailing the hand still on Sexy Statue’s stomach down to the waistband of his white jeans.

Wei Wuxian saw red. When his vision cleared, he had the offending wrist in an iron grip, held away from Sexy Statue’s body. Wei Wuxian squeezed as hard as he could, punctuating his words.

Back the fuck up.

Sexy Statue started pitching forward without the man’s arm around him, only kept close by the hand now pulling at his hair. He hadn’t moved his stare from Wei Wuxian. Though still hazy, he had managed an approximation of the glare he always directed at him, piercing and inscrutable. Obviously, Sexy Statue had recognized him, and it would appear that the change of scenery had done nothing to endear him to Wei Wuxian. Nevertheless, he spared a moment to look back, widening his eyes meaningfully, trying to somehow communicate his intention to help, not steal him away to do something worse. Even though Sexy Statue hated him, surely Wei Wuxian was better than this asshole?

Speaking of... Who the fuck do you think you are? the man was sneering, voice grating.

He pulled against Wei Wuxian’s hold, trying to free his arm. Wei Wuxian refused to yield. As if to double down, the man tightened his grip on Sexy Statue, even as he started leaning purposefully out of it. Sexy Statue’s eyes were still on Wei Wuxian, the weight of his gaze almost palpable from so close, like a cold chain settling against his skin.

Shit.

Who was he? How the hell was Wei Wuxian supposed to answer that? He wanted to get Sexy Statue out of this situation as quickly as possible, which meant claiming a connection more involved than a random concerned club-goer. Of course, the first response that came to mind was boyfriend. He longed to say it out loud, to pretend for even a moment that it could be true. But Sexy Statue would definitely end him if he claimed that, even if only to a pervert, and above all, he didn’t want to traumatize him any further. So he clenched his jaw and spat out the next most viable option, knowing that he could back it up with his fists if necessary.

Bouncer.
Boyfriend.

What?

Sexy Statue finally managed to free himself as the man’s hand went slack in surprise. He stumbled right into Wei Wuxian, quickly righting himself, but still leaning most of his weight on him. Wei Wuxian reached out to steady him, letting go of the man’s wrist.

Boyfriend, Sexy Statue said again, just as decisive the second time. Mine.

The man sputtered, seeming to suddenly acknowledge the very real threat in Wei Wuxian’s murderous look. He started lurching away, mouth running, insisting that it wasn’t his fault, man, that his slut of a boyfriend hadn’t said he was taken. Wei Wuxian moved to pursue him, fully intent on punching his fucking face in, but Sexy Statue held onto him, keeping him back. As his anger dissipated, Sexy Statue’s voice registered, low and smooth around the words, which also hit Wei Wuxian at about the same time.

"Boyfriend?" he repeated incredulously, high-pitched.

“Mn,” was Sexy Statue’s only reply.

Holy shit. He must’ve slipped on a spilled drink and hit his head; there was no way this was actually happening.

“If I’m your boyfriend, shouldn’t I at least know your name?” The way his voice cracked was about as suave as Jiang Cheng’s attempts to talk to girls, but it couldn’t be helped. This was an extremely stressful situation. Beyond dying to finally know his crush’s name, he really couldn’t keep looking directly at him from inches away and thinking “Sexy Statue” – he was absolutely going to explode.

Meanwhile, Sexy Statue continued to stare at Wei Wuxian for a small eternity before mumbling something he had no chance of hearing over the music.

Actually, it would be best to get Sexy Statue off the dance floor before someone else tried to take advantage – not that Wei Wuxian was planning to let him out of his sight anytime soon. And, he couldn’t help but notice as he maneuvered them around flailing limbs, not like Sexy Statue was even trying to get away. Quite the opposite, in fact. Unlike his earlier passivity with the creep, he was clinging to Wei Wuxian. He shuffled along, occasionally tripping over Wei Wuxian’s feet, refusing any attempts to get him to walk normally next to him. The feeling of his hard body was enough to make Wei Wuxian swoon.

By the time they arrived in a quieter corner near the bar, he’d gotten it together enough to ask for Sexy Statue’s name again.

“Lan Zhan,” was the soft answer. Wei Wuxian felt fluttery, nowhere near over the sound of the other man’s – Lan Zhan’s – voice.

“Lan Zhan,” he repeated, embarrassingly reverent. The man in question shuffled even closer in response, which was quite the accomplishment considering he had still been practically molded to Wei Wuxian’s side.

“You can call me Wei Ying,” he said, suppressing a squeal at the proximity, needing to hear his name echoed back in that smooth tone.

“...Darling.”

Wei Wuxian choked on an inhale. He bent at the waist, coughing until he could breathe normally again. When he straightened up, Lan Zhan was right in front of him, looking down at him almost impassively.

“No, not darling,” Wei Wuxian said, twice as loud and about five times more frantic. “Wei Ying.”

“Mn.” A slight tilt of the head. “Darling.”

“WEI YING.”

“Darling.” A deliberate set of full lips, this time.

Lan Zhan didn’t join Wei Wuxian in his panicked yelling, simply choosing to repeat himself steadily over each protest. Eventually, Wei Wuxian had to give up, or risk losing his mind if Lan Zhan called him “darling” in that tone while looking at him with those eyes even one more time.

“Right, that’s fine,” he said, not sure which of them he was trying to convince. Then, more quietly, with feeling, “What the fuck.”

There was a tug on his shirt.

“Darling.” Lan Zhan’s face was somehow even more stern than usual. “No cursing.”

A squeak was the only apt description for the sound that left Wei Wuxian. Oh god oh god oh god, his mind screamed. He was only one man! How the hell was he supposed to survive the most beautiful person in the world clinging to him like a limpet while addressing him with a pet name that sounded like velvet and came from the softest-looking lips? And inexplicably still smelling of sandalwood even in these conditions? Wei Wuxian’s brain was short-circuiting.

They stood there for what could have been hours; Lan Zhan seemed content to press against him (still!) in silence, while Wei Wuxian took deep breaths and struggled to have a single coherent thought.

Finally, Wei Wuxian pulled himself together for the sake of saving face. Sure, he had been kind of cool, swooping in for the rescue, but everything after made him want to sink to the underworld. He was being such a loser (somewhere, Jiang Cheng was laughing his ass off without knowing why). Ok, so his crush was actually the definition of perfection. That was fine. He could absolutely deal with that. He was Wei Wuxian! He was charming! He could flirt the pants off of a fucking rock! He could sweep Lan Zhan off his feet just like any other boy or girl he set his sights on – no problem.

He tilted his chin up, met those golden eyes... and immediately had to take another deep breath. Never mind; he’d have to start small. He slowly lifted one arm and wrapped it around Lan Zhan’s waist, making sure it was loose enough to easily escape. He held his breath, looking at Lan Zhan to gauge his reaction. His gorgeous face remained impassive, but his ears betrayed him, flushing an endearing pink. Wei Wuxian’s nerves settled a bit, and he felt his lips curl into something slightly softer than his usual grin.

“Lan Zhan, ah, Lan Zhan,” his name felt so nice to say. “Lan Zhan,” again, slightly sing-song, “are you... maybe... shy?”

Lan Zhan’s ears burned red this time. “Darling,” he said again, tone between a grumble and pout, affronted at the teasing.

Wei Wuxian was delighted. “Ah, you are! That’s so cute! But ah, Lan Zhan, if you’re going to call me darling, shouldn’t I pick a nickname for you?” He made a show of furrowing his brow, playing at thinking hard. “Hmmm... what about... baby?”

The rabbit keychain suddenly sprang to mind. “No, wait! What about bunny?”

Lan Zhan’s stunning eyes went absolutely huge and round. It was the only change in expression Wei Wuxian caught before Lan Zhan buried his face in Wei Wuxian’s neck, curling further into his hold in apparent embarrassment. He spoke into Wei Wuxian’s skin, too muffled to understand. Wei Wuxian prodded him gently, experiencing a tiny heart attack at the feeling of those alluring lips brushing a sensitive spot.

“What was that, Lan Zhan? I couldn’t hear you,” he wheedled. “Do you like it? Hmm?”

Lan Zhan lifted his head a touch. Wei Wuxian shivered at the feeling of breath on his throat as he repeated himself, voice almost under control. “Shameless.”

“That’s not a no!” Wei Wuxian responded, pleasure squirming inside him. Ah, Lan Zhan was going to kill him with how lovely he was. He wanted to tease him forever, wanted to press countless kisses to his cherry-colored ears. But first, he should really figure out what to do with him. They couldn’t keep standing there all night, and Wei Wuxian had no idea how to get him home to sober up. He didn’t even know if Lan Zhan had come to the club with anyone.

The issue was, Wei Wuxian couldn’t problem-solve all that well to begin with. Now, with Lan Zhan’s head resting heavy and tender on his shoulder, it was especially out of the question. Pushing aside the haze of puffy hearts and sparkles clouding his mind, he quickly came to the conclusion that Nie Huaisang, that calculating bastard, would be their best bet for help.

Goal in mind, he nudged Lan Zhan to a stand.

“Ah, Lan Zhan. As nice as it is to be here with you, let’s go somewhere better. Don’t you want to sit down? Let’s get moving now; good job!”

Lan Zhan didn’t seem to need the encouragement. He let himself be led again, docile as before, wiry arm around Wei Wuxian’s waist, slender fingers still grasping his shirt. He had gotten even bolder, leaning more heavily, giving Wei Wuxian the privilege of supporting more of his weight.

Wei Wuxian guided him towards the tables on the other side of the dance floor, keeping them well clear of the crowd. He breathed a sigh of relief as he caught sight of a fan flapping from their regular spot. As they approached, Wei Wuxian noted that Wen Qing and Mianmian were still somewhere in the throng; knowing Wen Qing, that was lucky for him. Wen Ning was the first to notice them, mouth falling open as he hurried to stand.

“Wei Ying, y-you’re back!” His eyes flickered between Wei Wuxian and Lan Zhan, obviously at a loss. Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang had turned at Wen Ning’s words. Nie Huaisang was hiding his expression behind his fan, though his steadily raising eyebrows gave him away. Jiang Cheng’s face was twisted into a mixture of confusion and his usual brand of loving distaste for Wei Wuxian’s general presence.

“What the fuck,” he said, surprisingly measured.

“No cursing,” Lan Zhan ordered.

“What the fuck.” Ah, there he was.

Lan Zhan pulled at Wei Wuxian’s shirt again. “Darling.” His voice had lost its authoritative edge; Wei Wuxian could swear he sounded almost whiny. One look at Lan Zhan’s face confirmed it – his brows were furrowed slightly, and his soft-looking lips were pushed into an honest-to-god pout. It was an unbearably sweet expression, and Wei Wuxian needed to lie down immediately.

“Seriously, what the FUCK?” Jiang Cheng was steadily approaching his final form of fury, snapping Wei Wuxian out of his reverie in the process.

“Dar-ling!” This time, the protest was punctuated by a soft stomp of Lan Zhan’s dress shoe. Wei Wuxian couldn’t be blamed for melting again immediately. How could this boy, who always looked so cold, be this fucking adorable?

“Jiang Cheng, you clearly heard him! Stop swearing, you dipsh–”

The shiny oxford landed neatly on top of Wei Wuxian’s boot this time.

“Ouch, bunny! That was very mean!”

Lan Zhan’s ears lit up again, and his face went straight back into Wei Wuxian’s neck.

At this point, Jiang Cheng had turned almost purple with the force of his rage. “Fuck you, Wei Wuxian! What does he mean, ‘darling’? Did you just call him a bunny? What are you, a fucking furry? Didn’t I have to listen to you complain about how this guy was never going to notice you for the last fucking year? What the absolute fuck is going on?”

Wei Wuxian scrambled to get his thoughts together over the intense distraction of that pout becoming more prominent against his throat. It was nothing but further disapproval at Jiang Cheng’s foul mouth, but Wei Wuxian couldn’t stop himself from pretending it was a kiss. He was sorely tempted to lie, to introduce Lan Zhan as his real boyfriend. He didn’t want to disrupt the fantasy, and there was the added perk of winding Jiang Cheng up even further, which Wei Wuxian always cherished. Nothing would piss him off more than thinking he had endured Wei Wuxian’s laments of unrequited love for no reason.

But again, he couldn’t let himself say it. Despite the cutesy nickname and close proximity, he still wasn’t sure if Lan Zhan had just used that word to get out of a scary situation. What if he had been acting in his own self-interest the whole time? Wei Wuxian wouldn’t blame him in the least – he was the devil Lan Zhan knew, and obviously seemed more trustworthy than a stranger in his drunken state. Maybe he had only been staying close to Wei Wuxian because he believed that he wouldn’t take advantage. Maybe Wei Wuxian was misinterpreting everything – the nickname, the blushing, the holding.

If that was the case, Wei Wuxian should probably let go of Lan Zhan, and he should definitely tell the truth. He forced himself to stand up straight and leaned as far from Lan Zhan as his continued clutching would allow, which was not far at all.

“It’s kind of a long story,” he eventually settled on.

Jiang Cheng’s extremely unimpressed expression conveyed his dissatisfaction with that explanation. Well, so much for not having to explicitly break his own heart.

“Ugh, fine! After you all deserted me–” he paused for a pointed look that Jiang Cheng expertly ignored, “–I saw Lan Zhan – this is Lan Zhan, by the way – on the dance floor. Some jerk was bothering him, and I went over to save the day, since I’m so great!” He tried to infuse the words with his usual bravado, but it was difficult when he felt like his chest was being crushed. He opened his mouth to explain their ruse, but Lan Zhan interrupted him.

“Mn,” he affirmed, not even bothering to turn toward Jiang Cheng. He looked straight at Wei Wuxian with those glowing eyes, unwavering. “Darling rescued me. My boyfriend.” He said it easy as breathing, all serene like he hadn’t just caused Wei Wuxian heart palpitations for about the fourth time that night.

Jiang Cheng made a loud, unnattractive noise that was almost covered by Wei Wuxian’s blurted, “No!”

“No?” Lan Zhan asked, quiet and almost coaxing. One of his big, warm hands came up to cup Wei Wuxian’s jaw, turning his head so they were face to face. They were so so close. Wei Wuxian couldn’t think straight, caught on those pretty lips.

“I mean, yes!” he spluttered, panicking again. “Wait! I mean!”

Jiang Cheng cut in, tone heavy with blatant skepticism. “You’re telling me that you’re dating?”

He directed the barely veiled accusation at Lan Zhan, who summoned some of his ice prince air, not appearing intimidated in the slightest. He finally deigned to give Jiang Cheng his attention, looking down his elegant nose at him.

“Yes,” he said, absolute.

Wei Wuxian felt like he was floating somewhere above his body, watching as Jiang Cheng absorbed Lan Zhan’s aristocratic demeanor and used it to fuel his next antagonistic remark.

“I don’t fucking believe you.”

Lan Zhan clenched his jaw, looking every inch the marble impression he gave off. “Don’t like you,” he replied, as if stating an irrefutable fact.

“You!” Jiang Cheng seethed, eyes practically bugging out of his head. “I don’t fucking like you either!”

He turned his anger on Wei Wuxian next.

“And you! See if I ever listen to another fucking word out of your mouth! I don’t have to deal with this bullshit – I need another goddamn drink.” With that, he stormed off. Ah, Jiang Cheng. Always so fond of the dramatic exit.

The affectation of superiority slipped straight out of Lan Zhan, and he returned to his favorite hiding spot, burrowing into the juncture of Wei Wuxian’s neck and shoulder. Wei Wuxian pulled him close with a hand on the small of his back and rested his head against Lan Zhan’s, helpless to resist any longer. There was a short lull, during which everything was right with the world.

“Well, that was entertaining.”

Wei Wuxian sighed gustily, though the voice belonged to the person they had come to see. “Ah, Nie Huaisang. As expected, you never jump in to defuse a situation.”

A graceful swish of that omnipresent fan. “What can I say? I like to stay on brand. Someone has to, since instead of weeping over Lan Wangji, you now appear to be dating him.”

“Lan Wangji? Do you mean Lan Zhan?” They were two sentences into the conversation, and Wei Wuxian already felt like Huaisang was holding something over his head.

“Yes. Your beloved Lan Zhan’s formal name is Lan Wangji.” He gave Wei Wuxian an expecting look.

“...Oh,” Wei Wuxian uttered rather dumbly, not sure what kind of reaction Huaisang wanted from him. Then it clicked. “YOU KNEW HIS NAME THIS WHOLE TIME?”

Lan Zhan gave a delicate little startle at his sudden shout, squeezing him reflexively.

Nie Huaisang had the gall to look vaguely pitying. “Yes, of course. Da-ge is dating his older brother, after all.”

Wei Wuxian made a token attempt to calm down, but only so he didn’t scare Lan Zhan again. “But! You listened to me talk about him all the time! I pointed him out on several occasions! I regularly refer to him as the love of my life! I literally never shut up about him!”

Ah. In hindsight, that was way too much to admit right in front of said love. He tried valiantly to rally. “Huaisang! Why the fu–heck didn’t you say anything?”

“Whipped already, I see. How sweet,” Huaisang simpered.

“You! Is that all you took from that?” If he hadn’t been weighed down by six-plus feet of pure angel, Wei Wuxian would’ve strangled him.

“Oh, relax; I was going to tell you eventually. Though, isn’t this better than an anticlimactic reveal? I, for one, am much more satisfied by the drama of it all. You were the knight in shining armor, so now you can finally stop pining and just make out with him already.”

“Nie Huaisang!”

Between Huaisang’s words and Lan Zhan perking up with a wide-eyed, almost-hopeful look, Wei Wuxian was bright red.

A slow inhale. “Right. Now that you’ve suitably humiliated me, I don’t suppose you could put me in touch with his brother? Lan Zhan needs to get home and rest.”

“I really don’t consider such a simple remark suitable humiliation, but I’ll restrain myself for now. Since I’m such a generous person, I’ll do you one better than Lan Xichen’s number. He’s actually upstairs with Mingjue-ge right now. And, because I don’t want to have to find a new best friend, I’ll throw in a bonus. Lan Wangji wandered off under da-ge’s watch, while Lan Xichen was in the bathroom, so he’s pissed at da-ge for losing his little brother. Da-ge keeps texting me to complain. Anyways, Lan Xichen is kind of scary. Try not to look like a kidnapping pervert, or he’ll probably kill you.”

Another deep breath. “Thank you, Huaisang. You’ve been very helpful,” Wei Wuxian said through gritted teeth. “We’ll be going now.”

He turned back to Lan Zhan, who had miraculously usurped his own cuteness by starting to doze off draped across Wei Wuxian’s front. Even with a potentially homicidal brother to fear, he felt nothing but adoration for the man in his arms. He allowed the depth of his emotions to wash over him; they settled like armor against any apprehension. He would protect Lan Zhan at any cost and deliver him safely to his older brother. No matter what happened after that, it was enough to have these memories. He would be able to fall asleep tonight with the impression of Lan Zhan in his grasp, with the recollection of his intoxicating scent and the silk heat of his skin. With the pull of those gilded eyes, void of any animosity.

“Might I suggest that you stop fantasizing about fucking, and just go already?” Huaisang piped up from behind his fan.

“HUAISANG!” Wei Wuxian would beat him unconscious with that prized possession of his, mark his words, but it would have to wait until tomorrow.

His exclamation was enough to jar Lan Zhan awake, and then Wei Wuxian really couldn’t put it off any longer.

“Come on, bunny,” he encouraged, touch gentle as he shifted Lan Zhan’s body closer to an upright position. “Let’s go see your big bad brother, ok?”

Though Wei Wuxian was possibly walking to his death, the short trip was monopolized by the sensation of Lan Zhan leaning against him, of the matched pace of their breathing, of the way Wei Wuxian was unable to articulate, even in his mind, the reverence that overwhelmed him when he so much as looked at the other man. Now that he had become truly conscious of his feelings, he couldn’t deny or minimize them. Somehow, over a year of small moments, he had fallen in love with Lan Zhan.

He was so lost in his increasingly sappy thoughts that the last step came as a surprise; they had made it upstairs without him realizing. The space was much brighter, far less occupied, and the tables were well-spaced, so it was easy to spot Nie Mingjue’s imposing frame to their left. He was gripping a drink, seemingly resigned to the reprimand he was receiving from a long-haired man dressed in navy. There were a staggering number of glasses strewn about; it appeared that their companions had left them, perhaps chased away by the lecture.

Before Wei Wuxian could even begin to strategize his approach, Nie Mingjue rolled his eyes exaggeratedly and caught sight of them. He straightened, slamming his glass down on the table and making them all jump.

“Oh thank god,” he proclaimed, mock-relief evident in his deep voice. “Look, Xichen, your little Wangji has come back! See? I told you he was fine.”

The man in blue materialized in front of them in the next instant. Up close, there was no doubt he was related to Lan Zhan, even discounting the identical ribbons. He was also very handsome, though his face was more open than his little brother’s. It was clear that his expression tended toward softness when he looked at Lan Zhan with concern, but he became guarded as he registered Wei Wuxian’s presence.

“Wangji!” The single word held immeasurable warmth and relief. Wei Wuxian smiled reflexively, happy that Lan Zhan was so loved. Then Lan Xichen’s gaze locked onto him, and the temperature in the room – and his grin – dropped. Wei Wuxian was suddenly aware of just how bad this looked: Lan Zhan, indisputably drunk, sleepily gripping him, Wei Wuxian with both arms around his waist, hands spread over the thin fabric of his tank top. Entirely too familiar at best, downright predatory at worst.

“Uh!” he blurted stupidly, quickly releasing his hold on Lan Zhan, who, shocker, didn’t move an inch to detach himself. Not even ten minutes before, Wei Wuxian had marveled at his proclivity for clinging, finding it overwhelmingly endearing. Now, it just made it even more obvious that he wasn’t steady on his own two feet, which wasn’t helping at all.

“This isn’t what it – wait, no, that never sounds good. I promise there’s a – I mean, I can assure you – um!” His unhelpful rambling dried up at the look on Lan Xichen’s face, and his life started flashing before his eyes. He froze in an attempt at self-preservation, watching Lan Zhan look up as Lan Xichen’s hand landed on his shoulder.

“Big brother,” he said. “Hello.” As if he hadn’t just disappeared for an indeterminate amount of time and suddenly returned hanging all over a stranger.

“Baby brother.” There was a note of fond exasperation in his tone. “Please do not wander off like that again. You left your phone behind, and I was quite worried.”

“Sorry.” Lan Zhan looked at his shoes like a little kid being scolded.

“I’m just glad you’re safe. I’ve got you now; you can let go of... this man.” His distaste for Wei Wuxian was obvious. Yikes.

“Can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t, Wangji? What did he do to you?”

For crying out loud! He loved Lan Zhan, but his aversion to full sentences was going to get Wei Wuxian killed.

Lan Xichen looked Lan Zhan over, obviously trying to assess if he had been harmed in any way. Wei Wuxian did the same, praying that their gallivanting hadn’t left Lan Zhan disheveled enough for further misinterpretation. Of course, as soon as he turned his head, he saw that Lan Zhan’s forehead ribbon was crooked. Impulsively, Wei Wuxian reached out and righted it. As he started to pull his hand back, Lan Zhan grabbed it, returning it to the side of his face. He gave a slight nuzzle into Wei Wuxian’s palm, rendering him so shivery that he couldn’t have spoken if he had wanted to.

Lan Xichen's eyebrows climbed incredulously. "Wangji?"

“This is darling,” Lan Zhan said calmly, like that was any sort of acceptable explanation.

Surprisingly, Lan Xichen thawed a bit. He shot Wei Wuxian a considering look. “This is him?”

“Mn.” Lan Zhan’s ears began to flush again for some reason, and he had a strange sort of microexpression on his beautiful face, almost apprehensive.

“Hm.” Lan Xichen scanned Wei Wuxian thoroughly from head to toe. “At the very least, he’s just as you described. You’ve always had good taste, baby brother.”

Lan Zhan’s ears had settled on a strawberry hue, but he looked quietly proud. On a more expressive person, it could have been classified as smug. “Mn.”

“What... is happening?” Wei Wuxian eventually managed to whisper, completely lost.

Lan Xichen took pity on him, albeit reluctantly. “My baby brother has mentioned you,” he said simply, as if that didn’t just raise a million more questions. Perhaps the reticence was hereditary, though Lan Xichen surely wielded it deliberately.

“He... what?”

“I believe you heard me. It’s nice to officially meet you, darling,” Lan Xichen said, almost taunting.

“Big brother,” Lan Zhan complained, a hint of that precious whininess returning.

“What, Wangji?” he asked innocently. “I don’t know his name, after all.”

“Ah!” This may be the worst first impression Wei Wuxian had ever made, which was saying a lot. “I’m sorry for not introducing myself earlier. I’m Wei Wuxian, and I go to the same school as Lan Zhan.”

“And I am Lan Xichen, Wangji’s older brother. Now, let’s go sit down and continue this discussion, shall we?”

It was definitely not a request.

Lan Zhan refused to be separated from Wei Wuxian, so they had to awkwardly shuffle over to the table. He tried to help him into a seat, but he wouldn’t go, staring at the tabletop as if transfixed. Wei Wuxian thought he had fallen asleep again, but Lan Zhan suddenly jolted into action, pulling away. He grabbed Wei Wuxian’s hand and interlocked their fingers instead, as though he couldn’t bear to lose contact entirely. With his free hand, he began gathering up the glasses on the table, pushing them into a clump in front of Wei Wuxian. He didn’t seem to care whether they were full or not.

“Lan Zhan, what are you doing?” Wei Wuxian pulled on his hand, but he was too focused. Once he had arranged all the glasses to his liking, he finished by grabbing Nie Mingjue’s drink right out of his grasp and adding it to the group.

“You–” Nie Mingjue growled, halting at Lan Xichen’s quelling look.

Lan Zhan completely ignored him, staring earnestly into Wei Wuxian’s eyes.

“Take them. All for you, darling.”

“Ah, Lan Zhan... thank you?” He really had no clue what the fuck was going on in Lan Zhan’s sweet little head, but he was hopelessly in love, so he wasn’t going to question it. Honestly, he still couldn’t believe that Lan Zhan wanted him around, even after being reunited with his brother. It was even more unfathomable that he had noticed Wei Wuxian enough to talk about him. It clearly hadn’t been all bad either, since Lan Xichen hadn’t killed him yet.

Lan Zhan dropped into the chair next to Wei Wuxian, immediately slumping all over him again. His little display seemed to have taken a lot out of him, and his eyes kept fluttering shut. Even so, he managed to look very satisfied, as though he had proven himself somehow.

“Mn. Darling is my soulmate,” he mumbled.

Wei Wuxian choked again. At least this time, he had his choice of half-full drinks. He picked one at random and downed it, trying to clear his throat. It tasted like straight vodka, which only made him cough more. His reaction seemed to satisfy Lan Xichen, who had been watching with an amused tilt to his mouth, apparently unsurprised by his little brother’s unconventional gift. It took Wei Wuxian a long minute to regain the power of speech.

“Lan Zhan! You can’t just say stuff like that!”

The only response was an adorably soft snuffle. Ah. It seemed that Lan Zhan had exhausted the last of his energy; he was fast asleep against Wei Wuxian’s shoulder. Wei Wuxian couldn’t help but run a finger indulgently over one of his perfect eyebrows, admiring the way his shiny hair fell, the peaceful smoothness of his face, those mile-long eyelashes.

“Why not?”

He twitched at the abrupt question, whipping his hand away to rub at the back of his reddening neck. Just how many times was he going to get lost in Lan Zhan’s beauty and embarrass himself tonight?

“Huh?”

“Why can’t Wangji say you are his soulmate? Do you not return his feelings?” Lan Xichen’s expression had suddenly switched back to deadly, his voice going quietly vicious. “Have you just been playing around with my baby brother?”

The emphasis was unnecessary; there was no way Wei Wuxian could forget that he was dealing with a protective older brother looking for any excuse to beat him to a pulp.

“NO!”

Lan Zhan stirred slightly, and Wei Wuxian hurried to lower his voice. “No, of course not!”

“Then what is he to you? If you were not leading him on, surely you have an answer?”

Wei Wuxian was sweating. He had just come to terms with being in love about an hour ago, and now he had to confess it to his beloved’s terrifying brother? He might actually combust.

“He’s my...” Wei Wuxian trailed off. Lan Xichen looked more and more disapproving with every second that passed. “He’s my bunny,” he ended up bursting out with helplessly, longing entirely undisguised.

They all sat in silence with that for a moment.

“That’s nice and all,” Nie Mingjue said, mouth twitching. “But we really don’t need to hear about your kinks.”

Oh no.

“Ahhh! Wait! It’s not like that!” Wei Wuxian was in hell. Fuck Nie Mingjue! No wonder Huaisang was so insufferable – he had definitely inherited all his evil, life-ruining tactics from his older brother. Wei Wuxian struggled to stay still enough to keep Lan Zhan settled, wanting nothing more than to sink under the table and crawl to safety. “Lan Xichen, no! I swear that I haven’t – I’ve never even thought of – I would never!”

“You would never?” He shook his head in a show of sadness. “What a shame. Wangji would be very disappointed to hear that.”

“What?!” Wei Wuxian felt as though he might faint.

Lan Xichen was so obviously enjoying Wei Wuxian’s suffering, eyes sparkling with it, though his face remained polite. When it became clear that Wei Wuxian had been poleaxed into silence, Lan Xichen finally broke, sending him a small smile.

“My apologies, Wei Wuxian. My words seem to have shocked you, true though they are.”

“They... what?” Wei Wuxian was entirely dazed. He was aware that he had spent most of this exchange sounding like an idiot, but he truly could not comprehend what he was hearing. Lan Zhan talked about him? Lan Zhan wanted... more? With him? Was Wei Wuxian somehow twisting Lan Xichen’s statement because he hoped with all his heart that Lan Zhan felt the same? That must be it.

“Ah, Lan Xichen, no need to apologize.” He forced some cheer into his voice. “I simply misunderstood what you were saying.”

Lan Xichen’s brow furrowed. “I’m not sure how you could, Wei Wuxian. I believe I was quite clear.”

He laughed sheepishly. “I just thought you meant that Lan Zhan would want to... be close with me. But I get it now, that–”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Nie Mingjue interrupted, supremely irritated. “I see that you’re as stupid as Huaisang says.”

“Hey!”

“It’s true. The kid called you his soulmate five fucking minutes ago. Xichen basically just told you that Wangji wants you to fuck him. Do we need to use smaller words? How obtuse can you possibly be?”

Wei Wuxian gaped at him.

Lan Xichen sighed, looping an arm around Nie Mingjue’s shoulders. “Sweetheart, I appreciate you getting involved, but that’s not exactly helpful.”

“Definitely a lot quicker than whatever you were going to say,” he grumbled back, leaning into the touch.

“I don’t... that can’t be true. There’s no way he lov–likes me the way I like him.”

“Why not?” Lan Xichen asked again, kindly this time.

“He... he’s too good. I see him around all the time, and he’s always so elegant, so quiet and beautiful. And poised – it’s like he glides instead of walking. And he’s so sweet, and I just... I’m the opposite. I’m loud, and I always make messes. I would just embarrass him.” Saying it made Wei Wuxian realize how true it was. He had to stare hard at the table to keep from tearing up.

“Christ,” Nie Mingjue let out on an exhale, long-suffering. “Do you know how Wangji ended up drunk in the first place?”

Wei Wuxian shook his head, still looking down.

“It’s because he was too busy blabbing about you to pay attention to which glass he was picking up. Kid chugged bourbon instead of his coke, and he really can’t drink for shit. Xichen was in the bathroom, and I turned my back for two fucking seconds, and he was gone. And then you went and brought him back. It’s like you’re both living in a drama... makes me sick.”

“Thank you for that, Mingjue,” Lan Xichen cut in smoothly. “Wei Wuxian, could you look at me, please?”

Wei Wuxian lifted his gaze. Lan Xichen’s eyes were soft, and he gave him a genuine smile.

“You and Wangji truly deserve each other,” he chided gently. “I’ve had to listen to him whine about you for months on end. He’s told me all about you – how lively you are, how your laughter brings him pleasure, how you always try to help when the need arises. I’ve advised endlessly that he simply approach you and start a conversation, but each time, he insisted that he couldn’t. When I asked the reason, he said that you were far too bright for him. He said that he was too boring, that he would ruin your mood.”

“That’s not true at all!” Wei Wuxian insisted, comically bug-eyed, entirely outraged. “How could he ever think that? He’s completely perfect!”

“I’m glad you think so,” Lan Xichen said through soft laughter. “I’m sure he’d have much the same to say about your fears. In fact, you are the reason that he came here. It seems that he overheard you speaking to a friend about going out tonight. He never accepts my invitations, so I was very surprised when he agreed this evening. Or shall I say, I was surprised, until I learned that you were involved. Wangji is quite captivated by you, after all.”

Wei Wuxian felt like he was underwater, words and thoughts floating around him sluggishly. Despite Nie Mingjue’s irritated insistence and Lan Xichen’s thorough explanation, he still couldn’t quite believe it. Lan Zhan... liked him. He wanted him around. He had a crush on him too?

“Are you sure?” he asked quietly. “It’s just–”

“Ok, no! We’re not spelling it out for you anymore!” Nie Mingjue erupted. “Get your shit together! It’s two in the morning! I want to go the fuck home and sleep with my boyfriend! Wangji likes you, and you like him; wake him up and do something about it! I’m sick of listening to him sulk about how you’ll never love him back, or worse, how he’ll never get to see you naked. He keeps calling Xichen and interrupting when I’m trying to see him naked! He even composed a fucking song for you that I’ve had to hear a million and one times! So please, for the sake of my goddamn sanity, get a room and shut him up!”

Wei Wuxian’s face positively burst into flames. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out, so he closed it again. Lan Xichen cleared his throat primly and placed a hand on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder.

“Yes, well. As Mingjue put it, however indelicately, it is late. Wangji will have to go home and finish sleeping the alcohol off. I trust that you will escort and stay with him?”

That brought Wei Wuxian back. “Me?”

Nie Mingjue stood up with a growl, clearly sick of Wei Wuxian. “I’m going to get the car,” he told Lan Xichen, who nodded in acknowledgment. He shot Wei Wuxian a nasty look and took off down the stairs.

“Wangji and I live in the same building. I will take him if you really don’t want to remain with him, but he will not want to be away from you once he wakes. He will be upset.”

Wei Wuxian’s stomach hurt just at the thought. “I... of course I want to stay with him. I’ll do it. I’ll take care of him, so you don’t have to worry.”

“I believe it. I can see that you care about him.”

“I love him.” Wei Wuxian couldn’t leave it unspoken any longer.

“You should tell him that tomorrow.” Lan Xichen encouraged warmly. “Now, give me your phone. I will text you the address.”

They exchanged numbers, and Lan Xichen stood up to go. “Oh, I almost forgot.” His mouth curled into a devilish grin.

“...Yes?” Wei Wuxian still hadn’t recovered from all the revelations dropped on him, and he definitely wasn’t prepared for whatever came along with that expression.

“I’m sure it didn’t escape your notice that Wangji has been... clingy with you tonight. You may think that it is a consequence of his inebriation, and that his public image is his true personality. That is not quite accurate. I have always spoiled him; thus, he is inclined to act in such a manner – needy, one might say – with those he is comfortable with. He wants to share that side of himself with you... especially in intimacy. In many of our talks, he has expressed the desire to have you take care of him.”

He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Wei Wuxian’s flesh felt like it would melt off from the force of his blush. “Why are you...?” Was Lan Zhan’s own brother really telling him to...? And after Mingjue had...? What was wrong with the two of them?

“I admit, I knew your expression would amuse me. Moreover, I’m a good big brother, and I know Wangji would never mention it. He is very shy, and also thinks that you wouldn’t want the same things as he does.”

“And what is it he wants?” Wei Wuxian asked, desperately needing to know despite his mortification. He would do anything to make sure Lan Zhan was happy and fulfilled, even if it meant continuing this discussion.

“First,” Lan Xichen’s tone was grave, “if you use this information before he is sober and able to consent, no one will find your body.”

Wei Wuxian steeled himself, staring unflinchingly into that chilling glare. “I would never take advantage of him. You have my word.”

In the span of a blink, Lan Xichen’s eyes were once again alive with mischief. He leaned forward, relishing the moment. “He wants you to be the one in control. He wants you to coddle him. He wants,” a meaningful pause, “to be your baby.”

“Fuck,” Wei Wuxian breathed out softly. Just the idea of it... Lan Zhan spread out underneath him, trusting him, allowing him all the time in the world to cherish every inch of his lithe body, to make him feel good...

He squeezed his eyes shut, shoving down burning arousal. There was no use thinking about it; he had to tend to Lan Zhan in a different way right now.

“That’s... very enlightening,” he managed to croak out. “Thank you, Lan Xichen.”

“It was absolutely my pleasure.” Leaving Wei Wuxian to compose himself, he turned to Lan Zhan, tapping gently at his cheek to rouse him. “It’s time to wake up, Wangji.”

“Big brother?” Lan Zhan mumbled, golden eyes squinting open.

“Yes, it’s me. You have to get up now; Wei Wuxian is going to bring you home and take care of you.” He sent Wei Wuxian a wink.

Lan Zhan seemed to remember that he was in fact leaning against Wei Wuxian, and looked up at him with wonder.

“Darling? Take care of me? Not a dream?”

Wei Wuxian’s heart popped like a too-full balloon. He cupped Lan Zhan’s face in his hands, yearning seeping into his tone. “Yeah, bunny. I’m going to take care of you.”

He looked up to find that Lan Xichen had gone. His phone vibrated in his back pocket. It was a message containing Lan Zhan’s address, an instruction to “stay safe,” and a string of eggplant emojis.

As far as Wei Wuxian was concerned, the trip to the apartment was a blur. He had become quite adept at maneuvering Lan Zhan, who continued to be wonderfully well-behaved, so it wasn’t too difficult to get him out of the club and into the Uber.

The problem arose when they reached his door.

“Ah, Lan Zhan, where are your keys?”

Lan Zhan turned his face away from Wei Wuxian, nose pointed skyward.

“Um... Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian gave a nervous laugh. “What’s... what’s wrong?”

A huff was his only answer.

Fuck. Why the fuck had Wei Wuxian believed them? He knew Lan Zhan didn’t want anything to do with him. How could he possibly?

He didn’t dare to speak again, lest he bother Lan Zhan even more. Plus, he didn’t exactly trust himself not to burst into tears. A few moments of silence spread between them. Lan Zhan slowly moved to look at him. He was pouting again, and had a confused little furrow in his brow. When he caught Wei Wuxian’s eyes, he whipped his head back around, resuming his sulk.

Wei Wuxian didn’t know what to do other than leave, but they were still tangled together, and he had to at least make sure Lan Zhan would be alright before he went home to call his jiejie and sob his heartbreak out.

“Bunny...” he whispered pleadingly, at a loss.

In an instant, Lan Zhan’s face was inches from his own again, eyes huge and glittering.

Wei Wuxian leaned forward to kiss him unthinkingly, then almost broke his own neck wrenching backwards. He couldn’t exactly plant one on him just like that, even if he was suddenly not angry anymore.

“Yes.” Lan Zhan lips turned up the smallest amount. Wei Wuxian was getting whiplash.

“Yes... what?”

“Name.”

“...Name?” How the hell did Lan Zhan make it to college if he never used complete sentences? Did he mean? “You want me to call you bunny instead of Lan Zhan?”

Lan Zhan’s lids fluttered shut, and he practically vibrated with quiet pleasure.

Ohhh. The sudden rush of relief made Wei Wuxian giddy.

“Ah, bunny,” he teased, “You really scared me! You have to use your words next time!”

A slight head shake.

Wei Wuxian sighed fondly, catching the end of Lan Zhan’s ponytail and tugging it playfully. “What am I going to do with you? I’m not a mind reader, you know! That’s why I needed to ask where your keys are.”

“Pocket,” Lan Zhan mumbled. He didn’t seem particularly invested in getting them out of the hallway.

“Which one?”

A small shrug.

“Can you find them?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Mn.”

“You want me to look in your pockets?”

“Mn. Want darling to touch.”

Oh dear lord – clearly somebody up there was testing Wei Wuxian.

“Ah, bunny. You can do it yourself, can’t you?” His voice had gone up in pitch without his permission.

Another foot stomp.

Wei Wuxian was too desperate to argue further. Instead, he endured the torture of searching three of Lan Zhan’s jean pockets before finding the keys. Lan Zhan pressed into each of his touches like a preening pet, entirely unhelpful, succeeding only in clouding Wei Wuxian’s head with impure thoughts.

Finally, the door was unlocked, at the expense of most of Wei Wuxian’s brain cells. The apartment was dark, but Lan Zhan gave him no time to look for a light, only pausing long enough for them to stumble out of their shoes before he started dragging him. Wei Wuxian had been supporting his weight for most of the night; he knew that Lan Zhan was tall and solidly built, but he still wasn’t prepared to be pulled forward so easily. The sheer strength he exhibited did nothing at all to calm Wei Wuxian’s remaining arousal.

“Ah, bunny, be careful!”

Lan Zhan didn’t falter, herding him further into his home and through another door. Having learned his lesson, Wei Wuxian threw a hand to the side and scrabbled at the wall. He hit a switch and flicked it, and an overhead light bathed the room with a pale, warm glow. There could have been a trampoline in the middle of the wall-to-wall carpet and Wei Wuxian wouldn’t have noticed, too entranced by the giant bed pushed against the back wall. It was overflowing with white pillows resting on a baby blue comforter. It looked incredibly inviting, and Wei Wuxian was so tempted to push Lan Zhan down and... right. He needed to get a grip.

“Let’s get ready for bed, shall we, bunny?”

Lan Zhan’s eyes went big again. He seemed to be in utter disbelief. “Bed? Together?”

“Ah, no! No need to worry! I’ll sleep on the couch! Or even the floor!”

“No.”

“How about the bathtu–”

Lan Zhan started shoving him toward the bed. Wei Wuxian had to get them into sleep clothes, at the very least, but it was hard to have conviction when he could now make out that two of those “pillows” were actually giant rabbit plushies. He was really going to start crying this time. He thought of seeing Lan Zhan snuggle with a stuffed animal three times the size of his head and let himself be dragged a couple more steps. Then he thought of that asshole from before touching the clothes Lan Zhan was still wearing, and he summoned the strength to plant his feet.

“Ok, ok! I get it, bunny. We’ll sleep together. But first, we have to put pajamas on, right?”

Lan Zhan considered that very seriously before nodding his approval.

“Darling first,” he ordered, eagerly trying to manhandle Wei Wuxian out of his shirt and getting it caught over his head instead.

“Bunny!”

This was really too close to Wei Wuxian’s fantasies for comfort. He finished peeling his top off so he could breathe, immediately aware of Lan Zhan’s heavy gaze. His pupils were dilated with want, marking a delicious contrast to his drowsy demeanor. Wei Wuxian prayed for strength and batted Lan Zhan’s hands away gently when they reached for his pants.

“Ah, bunny! You’re really very touchy, huh? I can finish this; why don’t you go get us some comfy clothes?”

Another nod, then Lan Zhan went shuffling off toward a sleek wardrobe. He seemed more sober after sleeping through his brother’s interrogation, but he still moved slowly. Wei Wuxian sucked in a lungful of air and unbuckled his belt, not even considering changing in another room. Selfishly, he didn’t want to be away from Lan Zhan for a second. Even taking his eyes off that beautiful broad back was impossible, and he almost fell over trying to step out of his pants without looking.

By the time he freed himself, Lan Zhan was facing him again. He held a pile of neatly folded clothing that he promptly dropped in favor of making grabby hands at Wei Wuxian’s boxer-clad body. It was somehow both unspeakably cute and mind-bendingly hot. Seriously, Lan Xichen was going to have to send him a fruit basket to reward his restraint. Instead of acting on any of his daydreams, he dove for the clothes, avoiding Lan Zhan’s outstretched arms, and came up holding a pristine white t-shirt, athletic shorts, and a matching set.

He shoved the t-shirt over his own head in the hopes of circumventing whatever disaster would befall them if Lan Zhan’s elegant fingers made contact with his skin. Lan Zhan clearly didn’t see it that way, pouting as if his favorite toy had been taken from him.

“Ah, bunny, don’t look at me like that!” Wei Wuxian begged. “We need to put these clothes on so we can get in bed. Together, remember?”

Thankfully, it worked, and Lan Zhan immediately started trying to remove his clothes with the same grace as he did Wei Wuxian’s. That is to say, his tank top ended up caught in his ponytail. Wei Wuxian stepped in with innocent intentions, though he spent more time than necessary stroking Lan Zhan’s hair after untangling him, unwinding the tie from his ponytail and trailing fingernails lightly across his scalp. He went pliant under the attention, humming quietly, resting his forehead on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder to give him easier access.

“You really are like a bunny, huh? So soft and sweet.”

“Mn. Yours.”

My bunny,” Wei Wuxian whispered, feeling like he’d been punched in the chest by the very concept. “That’s right. I’m going to take care of my bunny, so be good for me, ok?”

Lan Zhan let out a shuddering exhale. Wei Wuxian made a note for tomorrow, then leaned down to unbutton his jeans. He knelt before Lan Zhan to help take them off, willing his eyes away from tight white briefs and toned thighs, resisting the urge to trail kisses down to his shockingly hairless calves. Ruthlessly compartmentalizing what may be one of several new kinks he’d discovered tonight, he grasped for the pajama set, coming up with the drawstring pants. Upon closer inspection, they were satin, and sky blue, and there were rabbits printed along the ankles. Wei Wuxian was running out of ways to describe the motions of his heart at all these little intimacies being gifted to him – leaping, skipping, soaring.

Whatever his heart was doing, it resulted in Wei Wuxian’s hands shaking slightly as he coaxed Lan Zhan’s legs into the slippery fabric. It was a clumsy process, Lan Zhan’s palms planted on Wei Wuxian’s head for balance as he lifted each foot, waiting patiently for Wei Wuxian to sort it out. The shirt – equally adorable, with a bunny peeking from the breast pocket – was easier to manage, though it turned out that Lan Zhan’s torso was ticklish. Wei Wuxian could’ve gone his whole life without knowing that he was capable of such purring little laughs. At the very least, the sounds distracted from the reveal of Lan Zhan’s matching hairless armpits, which had thankfully escaped his notice while they were at the club. He would’ve had to move across the country if he had actively drooled in front of anyone he knew.

Finally, there was the blessedly neutral task of slipping the remaining shorts on himself, and they were ready to sleep. He brushed Lan Zhan’s porcelain cheek with the backs of his fingers, just admiring him. The pajama shirt was oversized, sleeves drooping part-way over Lan Zhan’s hands, making him look even younger than his sweet expression implied.

“Let’s get into bed, bunny. I’ll tuck you in.”

He tried to keep his voice calm, but it made no difference to Lan Zhan’s enthusiasm. Wei Wuxian was carted off as easily as if he were yet another stuffed toy. The bed looked even bigger up close. Lan Zhan set himself to rearranging pillows to make room for human occupants, all the familiarity of a nightly ritual in his measured movements. He picked up each rabbit with obvious ceremony, settling them side-by-side in the corner where the headboard met the wall. Wei Wuxian couldn’t help the sappiness shooting from his eyes as he watched – Lan Zhan was so endearingly particular. Wei Wuxian crept up right behind him to see better, or at least, that was what he told himself. Much like when he was gathering glasses earlier, Lan Zhan was too immersed to notice any disturbance.

He gave a pillow one more fluff and pulled back a corner of the cloud-like comforter. He lifted a knee as if to clamber onto the mattress, then froze, as if finally remembering the difference in his routine. He set his leg back down, and Wei Wuxian’s patience abruptly ran out. His arms shot out and wrapped around Lan Zhan’s stomach, closing the last bit of distance between them. Wei Wuxian pressed his chest to his back, at the perfect height to rest his chin on Lan Zhan’s shoulder. He reveled in the squeaky gasp that burst from Lan Zhan at the sudden contact, turning his head slightly so he could whisper directly into his darkening ear.

“Look at you, getting everything ready so nicely. My good little bunny.”

The moan Lan Zhan let out was so quiet, but it shattered Wei Wuxian. He pulled his hands back, wrapping them around Lan Zhan’s slim waist and giving him a small push.

“A-alright, bunny,” he said shakily, kicking himself for continuing to frustrate them both, “you get in. I’m going to turn off the light.”

He didn’t wait for a reply, striding over to the switch and taking a few deep breaths before turning it off. The faster they both fell asleep, the faster morning would come, hopefully along with Lan Zhan’s sobriety and the chance to act on any shared desires.

Wei Wuxian coached himself as he felt his way back. He would stay a safe distance from Lan Zhan and make sure to imbue his voice with all his love when he said goodnight, so Lan Zhan wouldn’t mistake the space between them as a rejection. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he hurt him, even by accident. Wei Wuxian never would have thought it based on a year of watching Sexy Statue, but a few hours of close contact was enough to recognize Lan Zhan’s fragility. As if to protest, elegant fingers shot out, engulfing his wrist as he reached the side of the bed. He was quite literally yanked across the mattress, ending up exactly where he “didn’t” want to be – inches away, feeling Lan Zhan’s warm exhales on his face. He tried to wriggle away, laughing nervously all the while, but one of Lan Zhan’s arms came across his torso like an iron bar. The other reached behind Wei Wuxian, fiddling around until a small bedside light came on.

The subtle glow turned Lan Zhan’s eyes to liquid gold, hypnotizing. Wei Wuxian stopped moving as if enspelled.

“Darling. Kiss.”

That low, smooth voice was just as entrancing, and Wei Wuxian was helpless to obey. The room was silent, and the light was dim, and the bed was soft. And their lips finally finally touched, pressing as delicately as flower petals, catching as perfectly as puzzle pieces. It lasted only moments, but it was enough. So when they pulled back minutely, and Lan Zhan’s precious head dropped onto the pillow like his strings had been cut, Wei Wuxian’s mind was empty of anything but the sensation, the ghost of those pink lips. It was enough, so he was unable to conjure any blame for himself, to manufacture any misunderstanding. He could not think, or speak, or move. He could do nothing except listen to Lan Zhan’s even breathing, until he drifted off too.