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how a smiling homeless child melted jade hearts and got a home

Chapter Text

Cold.

It was cold.

It was the middle of winter in Yiling. Wei Ying had no idea how long it has been since his parents left for their hunt and never came back, the same way he did not know when the last time he ate was. All he knew was that it was cold.

Too cold.

Wei Ying stood, wrapping the rags that barely covered his body tighter around himself and asked began to look through the trash a vendor threw out. He hoped that someone would take pity. He hoped that someone would give him something. He hoped.

He knew better.

These people should not have had to worry about a random, dirty child on the streets. He was one of the many. Besides, other children probably needed it more. Wei Ying gave up on the trash and continued to walk the streets. He wandered around until he could find something to eat, yet avoiding areas he had seen dogs before. The streets were barely lit, the sun already setting. Shops were closing up soon. Wei Ying wandered, entertaining the possibility of a vendor being kind enough to give him food. Maybe he could share it with the elderly woman he gave his old box to. The thought put a smile to his face.

‘A-Ying,’ a fading voice cooed, ‘remember: we do what we can to help those in need, to show kindness where kindness is due, to smile even when smiling is hard because a life full of laugher is a life well-lived.’

He barely remembered that voice. His mother’s voice has been fading from his memory every for a while now. Her laugh, however, her laugh stayed with him. Loud, yet beautiful. Bright, yet comforting.

Wei Ying was pulled from his memory when he saw a figure in white a little further ahead. The child looked to be around his age. His hair as black as night, skin as pale as the moon, yet eyes so gold they could rival the sun with their beauty. Those very eyes were also looking around, seeming worried, although his face did not show any of those worries. Rather, the child looked like he was carved of porcelain or maybe of fine jade.

“Hello!” Wei Ying called as he approached the boy, barely suppressing a shiver when he lifted his arm and the cold somehow got colder. “Are you lost?”

The boy look startled. The streets at this point were mostly empty, save for the one or two people still putting away their shop, but they had better things to do than help two seemingly lost children. The boy only nodded, the tips of his ears turning red. ‘Adorable.’

“Well, I could probably help you out. You look like a rich young master so I’ll lead you to where all the nicer inns are.” Wei Ying reached for the boys hand, only to look at his own significantly dirtier hand and pull back. The boy seemed to notice and, with a determined(?) look in his eyes, grabbed Wei Ying’s hand.

“Thank you.” The boy whispered out, voice as soft as the breeze. Wei Ying allowed a bright smile to overtake his face.

“There’s no need for thank you’s! I’m simply doing the right thing.” The boy seemed to be staring at Wei Ying for some reason. Wei Ying squirmed, suddenly embarrassed about his unclean appearance for some unknown reason. Maybe it was because the young master was so beautiful that he seemed to be otherworldly, above the human kind. Speaking of the young master, “Young master, what should I call you? This one is called Wei Ying!”

“Lan Zhan.” How could someone who speaks so little have a voice this lovely? If Wei Ying had that voice, he would talk all the time just to hear the sound of his own voice (and thus the heavens, blessed, blessed heavens, spared humanity the curse of hearing Wei Ying talk more than he already does, most likely sparing several ears and hundreds of peoples’ sanity). Wei Ying lead Lan Zhan through the streets of Yiling, weaving through alleyways to get to the nicer part of town. “Why alleys?” Lan Zhan suddenly spoke. “Main streets are safer.”

“Because,” Wei Ying smiled. “I know the alleyways. People won’t hurt you for being in their way here. The worst part about this area would be the dogs but they usually keep closer to where there are more people.” For some reason, Lan Zhan looked stricken. This was the first bout of actual emotion Wei Ying has seen from the boy and he decided that he did not like it. “But don’t worry! I’m used to it.” For some reason, the boy looked sadder.

“Ah! Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan look!” Wei Ying pointed at the stars starting to form in the sky. He should hurry up, its starting to get too dark. “The stars! They’re almost as pretty as you.” Lan Zhan’s ears turned a bright shade of red.

“Shameless!” Wei Ying giggled and Lan Zhan immediately looked less upset. That was, until, Wei Ying’s annoying stomach decided to make a sound. Lan Zhan tightened his hold on his hand.

A couple minutes later, they reached the area with the most expensive inns. “We’re here!” Wei Ying exclaimed. He started to let go of the boy, but the boy held tighter.

“Come with me.” He lead the boy to an inn which looked to nice for Wei Ying to dirty with his appearance. Lan Zhan didn’t seem to care. Inside, another boy who would look like an older Lan Zhan, if it were not for the extremely distressed look on his face, paced the floor like he was trying to create a hole in it. At the sound of a door opening, he looked up.

“A-Zhan!” The Lan Zhan lookalike called. He pulled Lan Zhan into a hug while another, much older looking Lan Zhan lookalike came down the stairs, not quite running but also definitely not walking.

“Lan Zhan! Where have you been this whole time? I leave you out of my sight for one second-“ The older Lan Zhan with an unfortunate beard’s eyes landed on Wei Ying. Wei Ying looked down. Lan Zhan slowly pulled away from his brother, who looked up at his uncle’s pause and spotted the other boy. Lan Zhan took the hand that was dropped when Lan Zhan but older without the beard hugged his Lan Zhan.

“Uncle, Huan-gege. Wei Ying.” Lan Zhan deadpanned. “Wei Ying. Uncle, Huan-gege.” Wei Ying did his best impression of the bow he saw his parents and the people on the streets do several times.

“This one greets-” He was cut off when Lan Zhan’s Huan-gege stopped his bow. He looked like how Wei Ying felt when he ate a bad piece of fruit. ‘Am I doing it wrong? Are they mad at me? Are they going to kick me?’

“Young master Wei,” Wei Ying was confused. No one has ever called him a young master. “Where are your parents? It’s late. They’re probably worried.” He looked anxious, like he didn’t want to hear what the answer was. Wei Ying had no idea what the young master Lan wanted to hear, so he told them the truth.

“They went night hunting but never came back. They told Wei Ying to stay at home, but Wei Ying does not know where home is.” That was not the right answer. Young master Lan’s expression worsened, Uncle Lan looked like he was turning green, and Lan Zhan looked… determined?

“Uncle, can he come?” Uncle Lan seemed to hesitate, then took another look at Wei Ying and nodded.

“Only if he wants to.” The voice was a lot softer than the thundering boom that came from the yelling. Lan Zhan turned to Wei Ying.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan grabbed both of his hands and looked into his eyes. Cold gold met warm silver. “Come back to Gusu with me.”

In another life, he might have said no.

In another circumstance, these words might have ignited anger.

In another story, they might have separated, only for one to die and the other to suffer.

This is not that life, nor that circumstance.

This is not that story.

 

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

Lan Zhan’s home was quiet. Compared to Yiling, which was filled with bright laughter or angry screams, Cloud Recesses was as silent as graves. When they reached the base of the mountain, there was a wall with symbols Wei Ying assumed were words written on it.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying stopped paused front of the wall. “What’s that?” Uncle Lan, or Lan Qiren as Wei Ying later found out, answered for him.

“That, Wei Ying, is the list of all the rules in Cloud Recesses. You will have to respect, follow, and memorize all these rules.” Wei Ying looked at the wall as if it were a dog on the streets.

“How many rules are there?” Lan Zhan and his brother, Lan Huan, looked at him with what was a mix between pity and understanding.

“2,000 rules.” Lan Zhan answered.

Wei Ying suddenly missed his box.

 

 

For some reason, Lan Qiren did not want anyone to see Wei Ying entering Cloud Recesses. He kept mumbling something about “elders” and “too much power” and “heartless and as unsympathetic as a rock.” Lan Huan seemed to agree with the sentiments while Lan Zhan merely said, “Gossiping is forbidden in Cloud Recesses.” Wei Ying though the look on Lan Qiren’s face was hilarious.

They lead Wei Ying into a cottage far away from the rest of the buildings. The cottage was nice and surrounded by beautiful flowers. When Lan Qiren knocked, a beautiful woman opened the door. She took one look at Lan Zhan and Lan Huan and beamed.

“A-Zhan, A-Haun! You’re not due to visit me yet. Teacher Lan, are you breaking your own rules?” Lan Qiren looked mad, but took a deep breath and looked at the pretty lady again. He cleared his throat.

“Madam Lan,” Lan Qiren gestured Wei Ying forward. “This is Wei Ying. Wei Ying, Madam Lan.” Wei Ying bowed.

“This one greets Madam Lan.” Madam Lan cooed and reached out for Wei Ying.

“And what brings you here, A-Ying?” Wei Ying smiled at the familiar nickname.

“Lan Zhan told me to come back home with him after I told him I didn’t have one.” Madam Lan seemed shocked, then a look of pity took over her face.

“Lan Qiren, is there a reason you are bringing him to me?” Madam Lan questioned, her voice filled with an unknown emotion.

“The boy cannot be seen by the elders. They will force him out. Until we either get your,” Lan Qiren shivered like he was cold, “husband,” he did not sound happy about that word. Madam Lan was smirking. Wei Ying decided then and there that he liked her, “out of seclusion to actually do his job or find some way to lessen the elders’ control on the sect, we have to hide him. No elder dares visit you here unless they’re desperate to feel the wrath of the Sect Leader so hiding him here would do us all well. Plus, the boys are also able to visit him during their visits with you. I’ll see if I can increase visitation hours to once a week under the guise of gaining ‘maternal education.’” Madam Lan let out a loud laugh. She reminded Wei Ying of his own mother.

“A-Zhan, do you want your friend to stay with A-Niang?” Lan Zhan’s ears turned red. He looked at Madam Lan and nodded. Madam Lan smiled and patted Lan Zhan’s head. “Use your words, A-Zhan.”“Please A-Niang.” He sounded desperate and… sad. Wei Ying did not like that. He immediately moved to hug Lan Zhan, surprising all three of the Lans around them.

“Lan Zhan, don’t sound so sad. I’m here.” He gave Lan Zhan a small smile. Lan Qiren turned purple.

“Wei Ying! Lan Zhan does not like-”

“It’s fine.” Lan Zhan interrupted, pulling Wei Ying closer when it looked like Lan Qiren was going to pull him away. “It’s fine, Uncle.” Lan Qiren looked at the boy with shock but nodded anyway. Wei Ying was confused but thought this meant that Lan Zhan was comfortable with him. Madam Lan and Lan Huan were smiling knowingly.

“A-Zhan, would you let go? I’m going to bring A-Ying inside to wash up and eat. He looks like he needs it.” Lan Zhan looked reluctant to let him go, so Wei Ying spoke up.

“Madam Lan,” He bowed once more. “Is Lan Zhan not allowed to stay?” Madam Lan looked sad.

“A-Zhan has set days for visiting me. He will come again soon.” Lan Zhan reluctantly let go, leaving Wei Ying to Madam Lan.

 

 

Madam Lan lead Wei Ying into a spare room in her cottage. After handing him a book that Lan Qiren gave her and some clothes, she told him to take a bath and then come out to eat. Wei Ying looked at the thick book in clear distress, but she passed it off as Wei Ying being intimidated by the size. Once she settled him in, she went back to the main room and waited for him to join her.

‘I’ve never seen A-Zhan take this quickly to another child.’ She mused to herself. ‘Then again, I don’t actually see him with the other children, but A-Huan told me he was always alone, preferring to keep to himself. A-Ying must really be special.’ Madam Lan thought the boy’s smile reminded her of her old friend Cangse Sanren. The two of them had met on a night hunt years ago and kept in contact before she eloped with her husband. After that the letters got fewer and fewer before dying out completely two years ago. Lost in her memories, she didn’t realize when the door behind her slid open, nor did she hear the far too quiet for a child this age footsteps that followed. In fact, she did not notice the child until he placed the heavy book in front of him and sat down.

“A-Ying,” She exclaimed, putting a hand to her chest. “You surprised me.” Wei Ying smiled sheepishly before saying a soft apology. She finally took notice of what exactly the book he was holding was. “That book…” Madam Lan groaned. “That’s the sect rules.” The book was thicker than the poor boy’s arm. What was Lan Qiren thinking giving it to him so soon? Madam Lan stood, gathered the food a servant left for her, and went back to the boy. There was an extra serving, likely Lan Qiren’s doing. Wei Ying looked at the food placed in front of him, then back at her, then back at the food. She nodded when he once again looked back up at her. The boy ate like it was his last meal. She chuckled quietly and proceeded to eat herself.

“So, A-Ying, do you plan on memorizing that entire book?” Wei Ying paused his eating to look at the book, only to put his chopsticks down and look at the floor embarrassed. He mumbled something out.

“What was that?”

More mumbling.

“A-Ying, I can’t hear you.”“I said I can’t read.” He finally spit out, face turning redder by the minute. She looked shocked, then schooled her expression, smiling softly. Of course the boy couldn’t read. He grew up on the streets.

“Then I shall teach you.” The boy looked up, eyes brimming with hope.

“Really?” She chuckled and pulled him into a hug.

“Of course.”

Lan Qiren was going to have an aneurysm when he found out. Madam Lan smirked into her tea cup. She hasn’t been this excited for a long time.

Chapter Text

Lan Qiren regretted very few things. He believed he was a man of virtue and righteousness. He has followed every rule in Cloud Recesses to a T (with the exception of one or two drinks OUTSIDE of Cloud Recesses and BEFORE the rule became a rule (he may or may not be the reason for said rule)). He has raised two extremely well behaved and promising nephews, and even with the lack of spouse himself, contrary to popular beliefs, he gets along quite well with Madam Lan (as long as she doesn’t stir trouble, which she does 95% of the time (we have no clear understanding of what she does the other 5%)). But the one thing he regrets, the most foolish idea he has ever even entertained, was leaving Wei Ying to Madam Lan.

Said child was currently holding a razor and the hair that was once his beard in his little hands, presenting it like it was his biggest accomplishment. Lan Qiren took a deep breath, and with all the patience he could muster, asked the child, “Why?”

“Madam Lan said that it would be an indoc— indoctri—”

“Indoctrination?”

“Yeah that! She said it was prepering—”

“Preparing.”
“Oh, preparing me for the future!”

‘Am I having a qi deviation or is it just my blood pressure?’ Lan Qiren would be paying a visit to the healer, right after a visit to Madam Lan. Lan Qiren donned his outer robes and carefully to keep the child hidden, left his rooms and made way for the Gentian House. The morning dew still covered the plants around Cloud Recesses. The sun has barely risen, casting a dark shadow on some buildings and illuminating others. The scenery would have been beautiful, if not for the fact that Lan Qiren’s chin was very, very cold—a sensation he hasn’t felt since Cangse Sanren. A cold shiver of deja vu and dread filled Lan Qiren. Tugging the child closer to his chest and tucking him under his chin, Lan Qiren remembered Cangse Sanren’s and Madam Lan’s friendship. From what Lan Qiren understood, their friendship started when they met as rogue cultivators, before Madam Lan was Madam Lan and when Cangse Sanren was fresh off the mountain. Madam Lan never went to Cloud Recesses prior to her marriage, but she did accompany Cangse Sanren on several night hunts with Lan Qiren. The memory of the mischief the two women did together sent another shiver, this time a much stronger one, up his spine.

“Is Master Lan cold?” Wei Ying asked, cuddling closer to Lan Qiren as if trying to warm him up. Lan Qiren felt his heart melt at the sight of the boy. Hopefully the child won’t be too influenced by Madam Lan and will actually turn out as well behaved as his nephews (the poor fool had no idea).

“No, A-Ying.” The affectionate term slipped out when he saw the child try to cuddle closer to the warmth, as if his tiny body could take away the cold Lan Qiren felt. Lan Qiren felt a smile force its way onto his face.

 

 

When Lan Qiren arrived at the Gentian House, the first thing he did was send the child to get warmer clothes than his under robes. The next thing he did was fix a glare on Madam Lan, who was drinking tea in a sorry attempt to stifle her laugh. It failed when she saw his face.

“Master Lan, if I didn’t know my husband, I’d say you are the handsomest man I’ve ever met.” Lan Qiren felt a qi deviation happening.

“Madam Lan, what is this about shaving my beard being the indoctrination into the Lan Clan and a way to prepare him for the future? Surely you know lying is prohibited in Cloud Recesses.” Madam Lan smirked and once again, Lan Qiren let the cold sensations of either dread or death overcome him. How in the Heavens did his brother find this woman attractive?

“I never said anything about it being the indoctrination into the Lan Clan. It is the indoctrination into being my student. My ward per se. It’s preparing him for all the future mischief he may or may not get into,” Was it just him or was the room suddenly spinning? “Not to mention that he actually snuck into your room around 8:50 since he didn’t want to break curfew,” Wait, what? “I never imaged he would wait for you to wake up and see him, much less you not notice he was there.” Lan Qiren was most definitely in his home at 8:50, he was definitely awake, and he definitely did not hear a child walk into his room.

“Wei Ying.” Lan Qiren called the boy to him with a hand motion, beckoning him to sit in between the two adults. “How did you get into my room, little one?” Wei Ying smiled, a bright smile and one Lan Qiren didn’t know how the boy kept on his face after all that he has been through.

“The same way Wei Ying got into sheds or hid from dogs!” He exclaimed as if it held all the answers to the universe. Both the adults shared a look above Wei Ying’s head. One that Wei Ying did not notice. Lan Qiren held a look of sadness and pity—the poor boy had lived on the streets for so long that he learned to move in pure silence, like an assassin waiting on its prey. But Madam Lan, oh Heavens please no, Madam Lan’s expression went from sadness to calculating to one of pure joy. The same expression that caused Lan Qiren to drink the aforementioned two cups of alcohol in his youth. He sent her a look.

“A-Ying,” She started, tone deceivingly soft. “Would you like to hone that ability?” Logically, Lan Qiren knew that having a disciple that excelled at staying in the shadows would prove useful. Logically, Lan Qiren knew that the boy should start training to cultivate his core and learn his skills. Logically, Lan Qiren knew Madam Lan would make an excellent teacher as she is well-versed of several cultivation techniques, including the techniques of the five main clans and Meishan Yu. But a deeply imbedded fear caused from memories of being strung up and left to hang upside down, of being chased by talismans he still does not understand, of having to run the yao or monsters or ghosts he was hunting instead of away because those were less threatening than the woman in front of him—those memories made him very, very afraid of what Madam Lan would teach the child. Those memories, Lan Qiren remembers, is the same reason he keeps A-Huan and A-Zhan away from their mother (he ignores the fact that he argued with the elders for the kids to have more time with their mother and that he, himself, rather enjoyed talking to the only other family member older than 20 who wasn’t in seclusion).

The world went black.

 

Madam Lan was more amused than she has ever been in her life. First, the kid actually managed to save the Old Goats beard. Then, she got to watch as Lan Qiren went several shades of green, red, and finally white. Oh the joys of watching someone so stiff show so many emotions. She hopes her A-Zhan wouldn’t turn out the same way as his Uncle, otherwise she would have to tease him more. She turned her attention to Wei Ying, who was trying to wake Lan Qiren and failing. With a sigh, she thought about calling a healer to get him, then remembering the boy, opted to dumb the water from her plant vase on him instead. Lan Qiren shot up in shock.

“What a waste of water.” She grumbled teasingly. Lan Qiren glared at her. ‘The joys of having a younger brother-in-law.’ She smirked. “Though as much as I would enjoy teaching A-Ying everything, I cannot teach him sect etiquette, sect rules, and such.” For as much as Madam Lan loved teasing Lan Qiren (he was too stiff. Her dear husband would cry if he saw his little brother like this), she didn’t want the man to qi deviate. Lan Qiren seemed to relax… Oh you poor, unassuming fool.

“I will teach him that, along with our sect history, rules, and conduct. Leave his actual education to me. We’ll have to find a better way though, as people will talk if I keep visiting you, regardless of the no gossiping rule.” Lan Qiren looked thoughtful and Madam Lan scowled.

“Have you talked to the elders yet?” Wei Ying, suddenly bored with the conversation, announced he was going to play in the garden. “Keep the door open so I could see you.” She called out as he left.

“Yes. Your sons are allowed to see you once a week now as long as I supervise what’s happening.” She fixed him an unamused look.

“I meant about Wei Ying.” Ah, that look of frustration and annoyance. She never thought she’d live to see the day it wasn’t pointed at her.

“I can’t. They will either send him to the outer disciples, where A-Zhan and A-Huan would not be able to see him, or send him to the orphanage in Gusu.” Madam Lan hummed in thought.

“Is there anyway we could make him one of the inner disciples? Have him stay with A-Zhan instead of being treated like a bastard son?” Lan Qiren’s eyes narrowed at the curse but then turned thoughtful. From her place at the table, she could see A-Zhan joining Wei Ying. She could see the way her son’s expression calmed and brightened at the sight of the boy. How Wei Ying’s laugh made the ends of A-Zhan’s lips turn upwards. How no matter how affectionate Wei Ying got, A-Zhan not once pushed him away. How Wei Ying reached up and touched the cloth around A-Zhan’s forehead and A-Zhan—

Oh.

Oh.

This was too good. This was much too good.

“What if he married into the clan?” Lan Qiren turned to her with a strange expression.

“Married? Married who? Should we set him up in an arranged marriage? There are no female inner disciples around his age.” Madam Lan merely pointed to where A-Zhan was tying his forehead ribbon around Wei Ying’s wrist, words like “stay” and “forever” flowing with the wind.

With a voice that was uncharacteristically serious for someone of her nature, she turned to Lan Qiren and said words that would haunt him for eternity. The last words he would hear before the world went dark for the second time that hour.

“I’m sure A-Ying would make a great wife.”

Chapter Text

For all the propriety and straitlaced attitude that embodied Cloud Recesses, everyone was fairly okay with cutsleeves. There was an unspoken rule that as long as you weren’t a murderer or a demonic cultivator (ha.), then the marriage was pretty much accepted. Many could thank Madam Lan and Qingheng-Jun, Lan Qiren’s still absent older brother, setting the bar so low that literally anything and everything was better than that (once again, with the exception of demonic cultivation). By extension, that meant most of Gusu was also fairly accepting of homosexual relationships. Lan Qiren has noticed the increasing number of same-sex couples coming to regions of Gusu over the past few years. Did that mean that all clans were as accepting? No. The Jin Clan has notoriously removed cutsleeves from their ranks and the Jiang’s simply do not speak of them. The Nie Clan has more of a “don’t bother me and I won’t bother you” principle while the Wens… well no one knows what happens to Wen cutsleeves. 

 

Overall, convincing the elders to accept an engagement between their Second Young Master Lan and a street rat (Lan Qiren scowled when an elder dared call Wei Ying such. Ironically, he was more of a street puppy), was easier than it should have been. Lan Qiren simply stated that since Wei Ying will be raised a Lan, it would be easy to train Wei Ying into being the perfect Lan spouse, unlike Madam Lan (he really had to thank that woman for setting the standards almost pathetically low). He would be the exemplary husband who excels in all six arts with grace, humility, and propriety (those poor fools). 

 

What was not easy was getting the elders to release their power. While some were more than willing to retire, most wanted to keep their power for whatever reason (many claimed righteous reasons but Lan Qiren also knew that those were the same elders who refused to listen to Madam Lan’s reason for killing Qingheng-Jun’s old teacher). Six hours later and Lan Qiren managed to get the elders to all retire for one reason or another, stating that it was a new generation (it was. Most of the elders were over 100 years of age) and that the younger elders (an oxymoron but he meant those around his age) should have power instead. These elders were handpicked by Lan Qiren and surprisingly his brother (who only helped because he learned of his son’s engagement and wanted the best for his boy) for their fairness, open-mindedness, and sense of justice. 

 

The news of Lan Zhan and Wei Ying’s engagement spread throughout Cloud Recesses like wildfire (Ha.), but did not leave the gates. No one wanted to endanger the Second Young Master’s fiancé by making him a target at such a young age. A smart move and one he was grateful for. 

 

Unfortunately, Qingheng-Jun did not willingly fully come out of seclusion after this transition. Fortunately, Madam Lan, who was now given permission to freely see her husband and children so long as she did not interact with other disciples (Wei Ying being the exception), dragged him out of it. Literally. By the hair. Across Cloud Recesses. Lan Qiren had never been happier to see her. 

 

So Cloud Recesses entered a strange transitional phase. During this transitional phase, all the adults were so busy that the next four years basically flew by. 

 

 

 

 

Wei Ying was running. They were chasing him. He had an idea of where they were but they had no idea where he was. The shadows hid him well. Wei Ying ducked behind a tree and hid himself, heart pounding with adrenaline. He felt the cool metal of his knife up his sleeve. Lan Qiren long since got rid of the ‘no concealed weapons’ rule. Madam Lan trained both him and Lan Zhan, saying that if they stuck to the systematic fighting style that the Lans’ use, they would get overpowered if their opponent knew their style. Wei Ying controlled his breathing. His breaths came out softly and steadily, but more importantly, completely silent. That’s when he saw them. His targets. Wei Ying lunged. 

 

 

Lan Zhan caught him with an indulgent smile while Xichen-ge looked on in amusement. 

 

“Wuxian, you were supposed to stay hidden. That was the point of the exercise.” Wei Ying smiled and let out a little laugh. 

 

“I couldn’t help it. My dear fiancé just looked so dashing.” Lan Zhan’s ears turned red, much to Wei Ying’s amusement.

 

“Shameless.” It came out mumbled as Lan Zhan had buried his head in Wei Ying’s neck. Xichen-ge and Wei Ying shared a look of fondness for their beloved Second Jade. No one outside of Cloud Recesses knew that Wei Ying and Lan Zhan were engaged. The announcement will be made when both are 15 years of age and more able to defend themselves. The three boys walked back to the Gentian House. Wei Ying was swinging Lan Zhan’s arm while Xichen-ge made sure that neither fell over with Wei Ying’s jumping. Madam Lan was waiting for them with tea and some cakes she had her husband smuggle in. 

 

“Madam Lan.” Wei Ying said saluting the woman who helped raise him. She scoffed.

 

“How many times do I have to tell you? Call me Mother-in-law.” Wei Ying’s grin widened as Lan Zhan’s ears burned. 

 

“Yes Mother-in-law.” He bowed once more. Wei Ying looked around. “Where are Master Qiren and Sect Leader Lan?” The two men are rarely away when Madam Lan is supposed to be training them. Lan Qiren still doesn’t quite trust her with training his nephew and his nephew’s fiancé. Madam Lan’s face turned sour, as if she had just eaten a lemon.

 

“There’s a visiting sect leader. Your Master and my husband are in a meeting with him.” Wei Ying knew better than to be seen when other sect leaders were present. His engagement is still very much so unknown in the cultivation world and the Lan Clan would keep it that way for a while. No one wanted Lan Zhan and Wei Ying hurt, not when the family was finally happy together. 

 

“Which Sect Leader?” Xichen-ge inquired. As the Sect Heir he should have also been at that meeting, but his brothers (Yes, even if Lan Zhan and Wei Ying were not married yet, he still considered Wei Ying a younger brother) had always taken priority. Besides, Uncle and Father could handle it and there were always more opportunities for him to learn.

 

“Sect Leader Jiang Fengmian.” Wei Ying felt a jolt of familiarity upon hearing that name but ignored it. He probably heard it in class while learning about the other Sects. Although…

 

“Madam—” A glare. “Mother-in-law,” The glare softened. “Did Sect Leader Jiang offend you?” Her face was pinched in a way that suggested she was more than displeased with the Sect Leader. If Wei Ying ever doubted that this woman could commit murder, her expression would have made him second guess his doubts.

 

“Wei Ying, do not, and I mean DO NOT go near Sect Leader Jiang. If you do, make sure A-Zhan or A-Huan are with you.”

 

“Mother…?” Xichen-ge looked nervous, and Wei Ying felt Lan Zhan reach for his hand and squeeze.

 

“You’re not in danger… not physically at least.” With that, she turned around and left.

 

 

 

 

Madam Lan was usually a pleasant woman nowadays. She has her husband, her beautiful sons, her brilliant soon to be son-in-law, and could annoy the everliving daylights out of her uptight brother-in-law. Madam Lan was usually pleasant, unless she is faced with a truth she could no longer deny.

 

 Cangse Sanren had lost contact with her two years before Wei Ying was found. Wei Ying had her smile, her laugh, her sense of justice, and her mischievous attitude (even if he was much better at hiding it and therefore, with getting away with pranks. Everyone knew it was him of course, but nobody could prove a thing). He had Wei Changze’s gentle nature, his loyalty to those he cares about, his overwhelming kindness and selflessness, and his brilliant mind. But the most damning evidence was that as Wei Ying grew older, he grew to look more and more like Cangse Sanren. So much so that she dare not let Sect Leader Jiang look at the boy for she fears he would try to take Wei Ying away out of a sense of responsibility to his old friends. She had initially hoped that the name Wei was a coincidence, that he would have absolutely no connection to the Jiang’s, but unfortunately fate was not on her side. Madam Lan was a pleasant woman but between her sons’ happiness and the happiness of others she would choose her sons in a heartbeat. Jiang Fengmain would not take away the one person Lan Zhan trusts with all his heart, the one person who could tell for certain when Lan Huan’s smiles are real or fake, the one person that would ruin both her children should anything happen to him. Lan Huan had other friends, but Lan Zhan only really stuck to Wei Ying, who took the time and effort to actually try and understand Lan Zhan. No, he would not take her children’s happiness.

 

Madam Lan ushered the two boys and A-Huan (who was growing taller and taller until he was almost as tall as her) inside and fed them. She would let neither out of her sight until the week where Jiang Fengmain stayed was over.

 

“Madam Lan?” A disciple knocked on the door. She rose to answer it. The disciple who knocked was Su She if Madam Lan remembered correctly. He and Xichen, both now 15, had classes together. Su She was mediocre at best but he tried hard with was good enough for her. She only wished that she didn’t get chills every time he was around. “Qingheng-Jun was supposed to accompany us on a night hunt, but since he is in a meeting with Sect Leader Jiang, Master Lan asked you to take us instead.” Strange. Lan Qiren rarely ever trusted her with disciples, meaning these kids must be the most dedicated, uptight, devoted, brainless followers of the Lan Clan there is. Madam Lan gave a small, almost silent sigh.

 

“Let me prepare.” Madam Lan turned to her children. One by one, she gave them a hug, told them she was proud of them, told them she loved them, and teased Wei Ying and Lan Zhan about their future wedding and how excited she was to see them in red. Then she grabbed her sword and knives and left the Gentian House…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… for the last time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later, news had reached Cloud Recesses. Madam Lan had died on a night hunt protecting the promising disciple, Su She.

Chapter Text

Lan Zhan was cold. 

 

His mother, his beloved, fun loving, bright, mother, died on a night hunt. A night hunt. It was supposed to be a simple one; the yao they were chasing wasn’t that powerful. The disciples should have been able to handle it. They should have gotten home uninjured. She should have gotten home safe. She should be here. She should have be able to watch him get married. She should have been able to watch Wei Ying get married. She should—

 

The training dummy Lan Zhan was fighting against was in shreds. To an outsider, Lan Zhan looked composed, the picture perfect epitome of calmness. But an outsider should also pay attention to the state of the training field. Training dummies were in ruins everywhere, ripped apart and stabbed to the point that all that was left of them were wood splinters or hay pieces. The trees surrounding the grounds had sword slashes in them, as if something, or someone, lost control and their energy reached even the furtherest tree from the training ground. The closer trees had already fallen due to the force. There were shards of several training swords that had broken from the force of the wielder’s blows.

 

With a deep breathe, Lan Zhan turned to get a new dummy from the shed when a hand met his shoulder. He was about to shake it off when the shape of the hand registered in his mind. How could it not? He spent four years holding that very hand. With trembling hand, Lan Zhan reached up to grasp that hand tightly, as if it, too, would leave him.

 

“I’m not going anywhere.” A soft voice replied, cutting through the darkness in Lan Zhan’s mind and warming him, even if it was just a little bit. The body moved closer, wrapped its other hand around Lan Zhan’s waist, and pressed his face into the gap in between Lan Zhan’s shoulders. Lan Zhan’s other arm went over the one circling his waist.

 

“Wei Ying.” He breathed the name as if he were speaking with a god. As if he worshipped the ground the name holder walked on, as if it was the last thing keeping him together (it was). The hand holding his tightened before pulling away. Lan Zhan reached to grab it back but Wei Ying was already pulling Lan Zhan to face him. Wei Ying’s eyes were swollen and red. His face was pale and his hair was a mess. He looked as if he spent the last few days crying, but to Lan Zhan, he looked beautiful. Wei Ying removed the hand on around his waist to reach for Lan Zhan’s hair. He smoothed it out, fixed his forehead ribbon, wiped the skin under his eyes, then placed a soft kiss on his cheek, then forehead, then nose, eyes, all but his mouth. It would be improper, it would be wrong, they were far too young, Lan Zhan knew this, but he wanted. He needed. Wei Ying pulled away before he could try.

 

“Lan Zhan,” His voice cracked and eyes filled with sadness. Lan Zhan did not like that look, but he also understood why Wei Ying’s face was marred with it. “You’ve been doing this for days. We’re burying her tomorrow. Master Lan and Sect Leader Lan want you to look presentable to the sect.” Wei Ying grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the Jingshi. Uncle and Father were kind enough to allow Wei Ying to move there after news of mother’s passing arrived. It was for both Lan Zhan and Wei Ying as it would be cruel to force Wei Ying to stay in the house where his parental figure once lived and Lan Zhan could not be trusted alone at the moment. “I have something for you.” Wei Ying spoke again before opening the sliding door. He stepped forward and reached for a sword that was on the table. Lan Zhan held his breathe, that was—

 

“Bichen.” His mother’s sword. The sword she took on the night hunt that took her life. The sword—

 

‘“Your father gave me this sword.” Mother spoke fondly while she touched the hilt. It was a beautiful blade, elegant, yet strong. Just like her. “It was his first courting gift. I had lost mine while defending him from a soul-eating monster.” She laughed a little and pet his head. “Someday, when you are older, I will give this sword to you. I have no need for it now that I don’t go on night hunts. It will protect both you and your beloved.” Lan Zhan turned red.

 

“Mother!” She laughed at his expense.’

 

“Lan Zhan?” A gentle hand was wiping the wetness from his cheeks. He wasn’t even aware he started crying. Lan Zhan cupped the hand and nuzzled into it. Wei Ying smiled. “Xichen-ge said that it was to be yours when we are both old enough to wield a spiritual sword.” They still had two years before they were of age to receive one. “Until then,” Wei Ying continued. “It will be kept with you, if you want.” He nodded.

 

“I want.” The sword or Wei Ying, no, the sword and Wei Ying. He wanted both. He tightened his hold on Wei Ying’s hand and brought him closer.  The two of them sat there, their small bodies barely taking up any room, and cuddled for the remainder of the day, shielding each other away from the hurt that surrounded.

 

 

 

 

This was his fault. Wei Ying’s own mother had died on a night hunt with his father. Now Lan Zhan’s mother, his mother-in-law, died too. Was he cursed? Is that why all the people he loved die? Wei Ying wanted to cry, but held on for Lan Zhan. At the age of 10, losing both his biological parents and his adopted mother were quite traumatic. Wei Ying shook a little in Lan Zhan’s arms.

 

“Wei Ying.” Lan Zhan’s hold on him tightened. He was so kind, loving, forgiving. Lan Zhan should be pushing Wei Ying away, blaming him, but instead he held onto him as if he was something precious. He wasn’t. Wei Ying noticed a wet mark on Lan Zhan’s shoulder… ‘Ah, I’ve been crying. So much for being strong. Weak. You’re weak.’ Lan Zhan held onto him, the two of them trying to fill the void Madam Lan left. Would she still let him call her mother-in-law if she knew he would kill her? “No.” Lan Zhan’s right, of course. She would never. “No, you didn’t kill her.” Oh… he said that out loud. 

 

“Lan Zhan—”

 

“Wei Ying wasn’t controlling the yao that killed her.” It was a statement. “Wei Ying wasn’t the disciple she protected.” That poor disciple probably blamed himself as well. “Wei Ying loved her.” Yes, he did and now she’s gone. 

 

“Zhan-ge.” Lan Zhan tightened his hold, burying his head in Wei Ying’s neck.

 

“It’s okay, Ying-di.” Wei Ying cried harder and held Lan Zhan closer. They had each other, and Wei Ying would be damned if he lost Lan Zhan.

 

 

 

 

Lan Xichen was with his Father and Uncle keeping vigil on Mother’s corpse. Sect Leader Jiang sat across from them, siping his tea and looking peaceful, though if one looked closely enough, his eyes held a hint of remorse. He didn’t understand why mother wanted to keep Sect Leader Jiang from A-Ying, but he would make sure to honor her last wish. Sect Leader Jiang was kind enough to keep vigil with them but with him here, A-Ying could not be and therefore A-Zhan. The two of them were rarely apart nowadays, clinging to each other more than what would be appropriate for their age, yet no one dared to stop them. Lan Xichen was a peaceful man but both his brothers deserved happiness and he would die before he willingly took that from them. 

 

On the day of her burial, A-Ying and A-Zhan came with the other disciples to witness it. Sect Leader Jiang had left the day before out of respect for the clan, Father and Uncle did not stop him. The engaged couple was holding hands, pressed close together. A-Ying’s head was down while A-Zhan held his head high, trying to be strong for the both of them. Lan Xichen was about to step towards them when Su She stepped in first.

 

“I’m sorry for your loss Young Master Wei, Second Young Master Lan.” Lan Xichen startled. Though many views A-Zhan and A-Ying as equals due to their status as fiancés, it was common to greet A-Zhan first as he is biologically the Second Young Master. It was a sign of respect for his position as a Sect Heir. While there was nothing wrong with greeting A-Ying first, it did have some… unsavory implications (Lan Xichen swore that if Su She tried anything he can and will offer him as a blood sacrifice to their ancestors and mother). A-Ying looked up and smiled sad smile at the disciple. It was a smile that both A-Zhan and Lan Xichen hated but Su She seemed to brighten at the sight of it. Huh, interesting. He reached out and touched A-Ying’s arm, causing A-Zhan to glare at the offending hand. Oh no. Lan Xichen pasted on his best polite smile and stepped up to interfere. His brother had grown more protective, more possessive, over his fiancé since their mother died. He wasn’t going to take kindly to another man touching his beloved.

 

“A-Zhan, A-Ying, Su She.” He nodded to each, a softer smile for his brothers and a more polite one for the disciple. A-Ying gently took his hand out of A-Zhan’s (oh… his dear little brother was glaring at him) and stepped out of Su She’s hold (ah, the glare has subsided) to hug Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen smiled and hugged him back, pulling A-Zhan into the mix as well. Su She looked… upset… no…. he looked jealous. ‘Why? And of who?’ Lan Xichen hugged them closer before pulling away, looking his brothers up and down. “How are you two?” A-Ying smiled, this time it was soft.

 

“Better. Lan Zhan has been keeping me company.” Lan Xichen smiled at him.

 

“And A-Zhan?”

 

“I’m okay Big Brother. Wei Ying is good company.” Su She’s expression worsened as A-Zhan grabbed A-Ying’s hand back. Su She was 15. He was as old as Lan Xichen. Why did he look like he drank a bottle of vinegar? Why was he eyeing his younger baby brothers like that? Why—? Lan Xichen shivered at the thought. Su She grabbed A-Ying by the waist, just shy of inappropriate, and turned A-Ying to face him. A-Ying tightened his hold on A-Zhan’s hand and gave Su She a strained smile. He titled his head in a matter that would have been adorable if not for the uncomfortable look on A-Ying’s face.

 

“Yes, I’m sure Young Master Wei would make great company. If Young Master Wei would like someone to talk to, Su-gege is always available to him.”

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

Oh hell no.

 

 

 

Lan Xichen was going to cut a bitch.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian was running speed walking through the halls of Cloud Recesses. The guest disciples were coming today! Outer disciples were organizing seating, putting together the guest houses, upping the kitchen staff. This was the first time Wei Wuxian has ever seen the Cloud Recesses so busy.

 

“LAN ZHAN!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed loudly… very loudly. Lan Wangji turned around to catch the boy who launched himself at the seemingly stoic teen.

 

“Wei Ying. No running, no screaming.” Wei Wuxian pouted.

 

“Lan Zhhaaaaaaaaaaaaannn! I wasn’t! I was speed walking and talking loudly to get your attention.” Wei Wuxian let a shit-eating grin take over his face. “Besides, how are you not excited? We’ll be announcing our engagement! Solidifying our status as fiancés, as affianced, betrothed!” He swooned dramatically into Lan Wangji’s arms, grin widening when he was caught with ease. Wei Wuxian stroked Lan Wangji’s bicep causing said boy’s ears to redden. Lan Wangji placed a hand on top of Wei Wuxian’s.

 

“Shameless!” There was no real heat behind the exclamation. Wei Wuxian laughed at his fiancé’s expense. The boys were clad in the white robes of junior disciples, both having on matching forehead ribbons. From the back, the only difference between the two was the slightly more unruly hair style and barely shorter stature of Wei Wuxian. Both boys were known for their beauty, along with Lan Xichen. The two brothers had received the nicknames The Twin Jades of Gusu, while Wei Wuxian, who was said to be too wild-spirited to be a jade, was referred to as The Golden Flower* of Gusu. It is said that seeing the three of them together could heal the sick (Lan Xichen was an experienced healer), scare away the wicked (Lan Wangji’s resting face was quite intimidating), and make even the most ill-tempered child laugh (Wei Wuxian was good with children and was, even better, clumsy).

 

The two boys made their way around Cloud Recesses, counting and recounting the number of disciples attending, overseeing the disciples, checking in on Lan Xichen, who was now starting to get more duties as the Sect Heir, and hunting down Master Lan to help with lesson plans. Usually, Wei Wuxian wasn’t allowed anywhere near Master Lan’s study, but with the guest disciples coming, the Head and Second Head Disciples should have some say in what was being taught. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian have been switching off between being First and Second Disciples for the past few years. Where Lan Wangji had strength, Wei Wuxian had agility. The two would clash, only to know the other so well that they would either stop the battle themselves or fight until one, or both, pass out. A voice called for them to enter even before Wei Wuxian knocked, causing the boy to pout. Upon opening the door, one look at the piles and piles of paperwork on both the Sect Leader’s and Master Lan’s desks made Wei Wuxian want to politely excuse himself from the situation. Lan Wangji was already dragging him inside.

 

 


 

 

Su She was what many would call a good disciple. He followed all the rules, did extremely well (objectively speaking, he was adequate at best) in cultivation, and was one of the top students in his class (to be fair, he would be the top laziest student everywhere, Gusu isn’t special). Su She would say he was having an extremely fortunate life, if not for those damned Twin Jades. They thought they were all mighty and powerful because they were the Sect Leader’s children. He hoped their mother’s death would knock them down a peg, but instead they got worse! Su She scowled thinking about that retched woman. 

 

The night hunt was not simple. The yao they were fighting had knocked Su She down three times at this point. No, it was anything but simple. So why? Why were his other classmates doing just fine? Why was Madam Lan eyeing him with disappointment? Why? He specifically requested her as the supervisor when he found out that the Sect Leader and Master Lan were busy. He thought it would be easier to win her over since she was a woman and therefore, had a weaker heart. So why did she look like she wanted to pull him aside and make him stop fighting? 

 

She did. 

 

That woman pulled him aside and offered advice on how to strengthen his cultivation skills, but he didn’t need to. He was perfectly fine the way he was. How dare she be so presumptuous as to assume he needed her advice? How dare she look down on him like this? How dare she? How dare—

 

A black tendril made its way to him. The tendril of resentful energy was dare, sharp, ready to kill, and Su She saw. He would make this woman regret looking down on him. Quick to ensure that no other disciple was looking at him, he grabbed Madam Lan by the arm and pulled her in front of him. The black tendril pierced her chest, right through the heart. He felt the blood staining his once white robes as he screamed. The other disciples saw Madam Lan standing in front of him, hole in her chest, and Su She’s panicked face. They assumed. They assumed wrong.

 

In a loud voice, he yelled out, “MADAM LAN! HANG IN THERE! YOU’LL BE OKAY!” She was glaring at him. Su She fought down the smile that threatened to overtake his face. ‘Ah how the nightly fall.’ She opened her mouth but the other disciples were too far away, too distracted trying to quickly finish the yao to pay attention. 

 

“You bastard,” She spit blood onto his once white robes (Yes, she knew it was petty but sue her, she’s dying). Su She grimaced. “I’ll kill you for this. Your life will be a living hell.” Under her breathe, she mumbled something, maybe a prayer, before Su She got the sick satisfaction of watching the life fade from her eyes. He made a show of crying out, of tearing up, so that the other disciples would think nothing of her death.

 

 

When he returned to Cloud Recesses, Su She took great pleasure in watching the Sect Leader and Master Lan break down into tears. He wished he could have seen their dear Second Young Master and Lan Xichen’s reaction but that was deemed too private for him to see. Those kids thought themselves too high. They were nothing special. They were just like him, yet they ignore him, pretend he doesn’t exist, and even have the nerve to correct him. He doesn’t need correcting. He was perfect. 

 

(A chill went up his spine. Su She looked around but saw nothing, so he chose to ignore it.)

 

For the next few days, both Lan brothers made themselves scarce. That was when Su She met him. Wei Ying, sweet, innocent, naive, Wei Ying. The boy was five years younger than himself and Lan Xichen making him 10 at the time. The boy was nothing special: his looks were average (compared to the absolutely gorgeous man that Su She was), cultivation skills were subpar (at 10, Wei Ying could kick his ass blindfolded and hands bound, but Lan Zhan would not appreciate that), and he was severely annoying (someone hand this man a mirror), but more importantly, Second Young Master Lan cared about this boy. Loved this boy. A plan was formed in Su She’s head.

 

He would take everything from the Lan family. He would show them that they weren’t that special, that anyone could have what they have, that he was worthy to stand on the same stage as them. He would show them how he was worthy of their attention, that they did not float above it all. He would show them. And he would do it by taking away the things they love and making them his. 

 

He started with Madam Lan.

 

His next target was Wei Ying.

 

 

Su She smirked remembering his plan. This upcoming guest disciple visit would make great opportunities to get Wei Wuxian closer to him. Su She waited five years for Wei Wuxian (no matter how twisted he was, he wasn’t going to get serious with a child) and he would have him soon. If only Lan Xichen would leave him alone. If Wei Wuxian wasn’t with the Second Young Master, he was with the Sect Heir, and on the rare occasion, with Master Lan and Sect Leader Lan. When Wei Wuxian just so happened to be alone, he was on his way to visit the Second Young Master and could not be stopped or slowed. He had the displeasure of speaking to Wei Wuxian during one of these times. All he talked about was how great the Second Young Master was or how skilled the Sect Heir or the extremely talented Sect Leader or the unfairly smart Master Lan. He was under their spell like everyone else.

 

Wei Wuxian was annoying but useful. Su She would use him to get what he wanted, and he wanted the Lans to hurt. Making Wei Wuxian fall for him only to break his heart and with it the Second Young Master’s, oh it would be such a joy.

 

 

 

 

Su She not once noticed the red eyes or the nearly transparent wall of resentful energy following him everywhere. Nor did he notice the fact that this resentful energy resembled a woman he once knew fairly well.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji slowly ascended the stairs into Cloud Recesses with a handful of disciples. Lan Xichen sent Lan Wangji to investigate an incident with a cursed man and the ghouls looming over him (nothing of note happened, he just pissed off the wrong merchant). Because Wei Wuxian goes a grand total of zero (0) places without Lan Wangji in hearing distance (yes, that included meetings that were supposed to be for “Sect Heirs only” because Wei Wuxian was marrying one and that technically made him somewhat of a Sect Heir), he went with them. Wei Wuxian happily alternated between chatting with Lan Wangji and some other junior disciples whose names Wei Wuxian did not know. Lan Qiren thought it would be a good learning opportunity (because one man’s suffering is another man’s lesson plan I guess??), resulting in a small group of more advanced junior disciples following behind Gusu’s Golden Flower and Second Jade. Wei Wuxian had a fun time asking them questions about the case, making sure they fully understood what happened, why it happened, and what Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian did because even if they were around the same age group, Lan Wangji is still the top of the class and Wei Wuxian is a close second. 

 

When they reached the gates of Cloud Recesses, there was a group of guest disciples gathered outside and yelling at a guard. Wei Wuxian had no idea who either of the guards were but he felt bad for them as the Young Master was screaming until his face was an interesting shade of purple. 

 

“Yelling is forbidden in Cloud Recesses.” Lan Wangji let out a small scoff when Wei Wuxian spoke. The latter gave his fiancé a betrayed look before turning back to the guests. “But if there is an issue, this one would gladly assist you.” He gave his best Lan Xichen smile and bowed to the disciples.

 

“Wei Ying.” The ‘this isn’t your responsibility’ went unsaid, but Wei Wuxian heard it loud and clear. He patted his beloved’s arm gently.

 

“I know, Lan Zhan, but we don’t want them to get in trouble on their first day here, do we?” Lan Wangji let out an ever-suffering sigh and turned to the guards, titling his head for an explanation. One guard looked grateful for the interference while the other looked… 'exasperated? Annoyed? Was that directed at the Young Master or me?’ The grateful guard spoke up.

 

“Young Master Jiang and his group lost their invitation. No invitation, no entry.” Wei Wuxian gave a solemn nod and turned to speak when the Young Master rudely interrupted.

 

“And I’M telling YOU to get your precious First Jade because he knows what my sister looks like and could verify her identity.” Wei Wuxian did not like how he said precious as if it were a curse. Lan Xichen was possibly the kindest person Wei Wuxian knew and he was not about to let this Young Master talk bad about him courtesy be damned.

 

“Young Master Jiang,” Lan Wangji turned to his fiancé, knowing that under that seemingly polite tone was a very real, very dangerous threat. He grabbed Wei Wuxian’s arm to keep the wild boy next to him. “The rule about not being able to enter without an invitation is for the safety of all visiting disciples. We cannot let you in based on words alone because while lying is against the rules in Cloud Recesses, it is not against the rules in other Sects. What would we do if you were a shapeshifter and you hurt the other guest disciples? How would we face your clans? Please understand that we mean nothing against you, we just thought that all visiting disciples knew to keep their invitations on their person at all times.” No one would insult Wei Wuxian’s family without getting a little snark thrown their way. No one. Young Master Jiang looked ready to fight Wei Wuxian when a woman, presumedly his sister, pulled him back. She bowed to him and Lan Wangji.

 

“Second Young Master Lan, Young Master…”

 

“Wei.”

 

“Young Master Wei,” She smiled. It was a beautiful smile, but not as mystifying as Lan Wangji’s. “We’re sorry that we misplaced our invitation in the rush to get here. My younger brother will rush down to Caiyi to get it. Thank you for having us.” She bowed again, prompting the group to all bow together. Wei Wuxian took one look at the sky and sighed.

 

“Lan Zhan.” His fiancé nodded before passing the barrier with the rest of the disciples they took. Wei Wuxian turned to address the Jiang clan.

 

“While the rules do state that we need your invitation, there’s no way you would make it back before curfew.” Wei Wuxian might be petty, but he isn’t heartless. “Second Young Master Lan is calling his brother to verify your identity and make sure you aren’t a shapeshifting malicious yao.” The group seemed to relax at that, even the angry Young Master. Wei Wuxian decided to make small talk. “So, what’s your names.” The pretty woman smiled at him.

 

“Jiang Yanli, and this is my younger brother Jiang Cheng, courtesy name Wanyin.” Wei Wuxian bowed back.

 

“This one is called Wei Ying, courtesy name Wuxian.” Wei Wuxian flashed them a friendly smile before continuing his small talk.

 

 


 

 

Lan Wangji hated not being with Wei Wuxian. Yes, he could still hear Wei Wuxian if he shouted loud enough, but he was too far away to see, and that made Lan Wangji uncomfortable. They had grown a borderline unhealthy dependency on the other ever since Madam Lan died. It was much harder for one to function without the other. No one could read Lan Wangji as well as Wei Wuxian could, the same way no one could calm Wei Wuxian down as fast as Lan Wangji. It was never really a problem for the two since they are attached at the hip most of the time but it still gave Lan Wangji a vague sense of unease being without the constant chattering presence (after all, he thought his mother would come back to and he thought wrong). 

 

That being said, Lan Wangji did not run to get his brother so he could get back to Wei Wuxian faster. He did not. It was speed walking.

 

“Wangji? Where’s Wuxian? What are you doing in my office?” Lan Xichen had been taking over more Sect duties as preparation for when he became Sect Leader since he was 15 (another driving force to the codependency that WangXian showed). He has seen Lan Wangji without Wei Wuxian a whopping total of one (1) time and that was when Wei Wuxian was too sick to get out of bed and Lan Wangji was speed walking to get a healer. 

 

“Jiang Sect Disciples. No invitation. Curfew is soon.” Lan Xichen nodded before grabbing some talisman Wei Wuxian developed to track down resentful energy. They were quite useful on night hunts for tracking yao and other creatures. The talisman would trace and attach themselves to the creature, so if the Jiangs’ were somehow not the Jaings, they would know (though Lan Wangji knows full well Wei Wuxian only said that because he was feeling protective over his older brother-in-law. Lan Wangji felt pride blooming in his chest). The two made their way back down the mountain, forced to keep up with Lan Wangji’s speed walking.

 

 


 

 

Lan Xichen was amused. Wildly so. He knew that he should discourage both of his brothers’ extreme codependency. He knew he should teach them to rely on themselves and to not always be looking for the other. But how could he when the two were so cute? Lan Xichen respected his Sect rules but as the captain of the WangXian ship, he needed to ensure that those two were as happy as can be, 3,000 rules be damned (Madam Lan added about 680 rules while she was alive and out of seclusion while We Wuxian added 420). Seeing his little brother almost run to see his fiancé after being away from him for what was probably 5-10 minutes was highly amusing to Lan Xichen.

 

Now, what wasn’t amusing was seeing Su She, who Lan Xichen purposefully made a guard today so he couldn’t interact with Wei Wuxian, eyeing Wei Wuxian like the boy was a prize to be won. Lan Xichen was very protective of his ship brothers.

 

“Wuxian.” He called out, stopping a seemingly lively conversation with who Lan Xichen thought was Young Master Jiang. Wei Wuxian smiled so bright that Lan Xichen almost looked away. Almost. He was conditioned to that smile after growing up with the boy. Young Master Jiang also looked enraptured by that smile but not in a bad way. He looked like he wanted to see more of it, like it was a childish wonder. 

 

(The smell of vinegar was strong next to him.)

 

“Maiden Jiang, Young Master Jiang.” He bowed in welcome to them. After they bowed back, Lan Xichen spoke again. “Excuse me.” He threw the talisman before they could react. When it did not land on any other them, he called it back and burned it. Then he turned to the other disciple, intent on ignoring Su She, and nodded. “Let them in.” The Jiang disciples said their thanks while Lan Xichen watched his brother gather Wei Wuxian in a hug, looked him over, then grabbed his hand and pulled him away. Before they could get very far, Lan Xichen stopped his brother.

 

“Wangji, could you show the guest disciples to their quarters?” Lan Wangji glared at him before nodding. Still holding on to Wei Wuxian’s hand, Lan Wangji motioned for the disciples to follow him before walking towards the guest rooms. Wei Wuxian was happily chatting with Lan Wangji, Young Master Jiang offering input now and then but ultimately remained staring.

 

(Lan Xichen ignored the feeling in his chest when he saw Jiang Wanyin staring at Wei Wuxian. Maybe he was getting sick? Indigestion maybe?)

 

With one last glance at Su She, who was watching Wei Wuxian leave with an annoyed look on his face, Lan Xichen left for his office. Nie Mingue’s letter regarding Nie Huaisang still needed to be answered after all.

Chapter Text

*One Year Ago; Age: 14*

 

The first time Nie Huaisang went to Cloud Recesses, he wasn’t expecting to befriend anyone. In all honesty, he expected everyone to hate him for his lack of cultivation, his lack of “practical” intelligence, his frivolous nature. He was a young master, yet he preferred fans to sabers, painting to cultivating, birds to dogs, pornography to practical books (Though in the right context, studying porn was pretty practical). His Da-ge always told him that he needed to train more, study more, paint less, drop the fan, use a saber, but Nie Huaisang wanted none of that. He wanted to drink and read porn and draw (and maybe admire a certain retainer of his from a far). Long story short, Nie Huaisang fully expected to spend his days at Cloud Recesses avoiding the younger Twin Jade while somehow sneaking in alcohol because Nie Huaisang was 100% done with the 3,000 rules business.

 

Nie Huaisang was currently loitering around Caiyi town. Even though he was set to be at Cloud Recesses by their curfew (which is ridiculous. Curfew? Really? What are they, ten?), he figured a couple hours drinking in both the alcohol and women (sometimes the occasional man) wouldn’t hurt. After all, what Da-ge doesn’t know can’t hurt him. Huaisang was about to ask a pretty shop owner what the best drink in Gusu is when he heard a scream. Pushing through the crowds, the most beautiful man he had ever seen came running towards him. For a second, everything seemed to be in slow motion. The man had hair black as night, eyes as silver as the full moon, but twice as bright. His fair skin would make ladies jealous or swoon, and his plush lips looked tastier that a cup of water mid-June. Nie Huaisang was snapped out of his admiring when the man barreled straight (jokes on you.) into him, causing them both to crash on the ground. Nie Huaisang was pinned to the ground by the gorgeous specimen of a man and would have enjoyed it if not for the man’s trembling.

 

“Sir? What’s wrong?” A bark was heard in the distance.

 

“D-d-d-d-dog! DOG!” The man moved to get up, only to trip over Nie Huaisang’s robes and topple on top of him again. “LAN ZHAN!” Nie Huaisang froze. Why did that name sound familiar?

 

In a blinding flash of white, a god man came forward. Hair as smooth as silk with skin as white as milk. Robes as pure and white as a fresh patch of snow, with eyes so gold they seemed to glow. Eyes that were also glaring daggers into Nie Huaisang. Within the next second, three things happened: The dog barking got louder, the man in white glared harder, and Nie Huaisang realized what was happening. Gently, as to not startle the man, he unfortunately untangled himself from the trembling man, who immediately jumped into the man in white’s arms (both were wearing white, it’s just that the trembling one had significantly dirtier robes). The man in white held the other close, crushing his face into trembling one’s hair, running his hand up and down his spine, and whispering what Nie Huaisang assumed were words of comfort. The dog appeared and Nie Huaisang opened his fan and shooed the creature away. While Da-ge was fond of spiritual and hunter dogs, Nie Huaisang preferred delicate things, like birds, so he had no qualms about sending the creature away. The dog left after Nie Huaisang fanned it a few times (he may or may not have put a little spiritual energy into the fan so that it would leave faster) and the trembling man slowly stopped trembling and faced him.

 

“Thank you!” The man exclaimed brightly… too brightly for someone who was trembling less than a second ago. “This one is called Wei Ying, courtesy name Wuxian.” He pointed at the man in white. “And this is Lan Zhan, courtesy name Lan Wangji. What may we call you, Young Master?” Nie Huaisang’s brain stopped functioning when he heard “Lan Wangji.” This was the Second Jade, the very man he was trying to avoid, which meant the beauty next to him was the Golden Flower, Lan Wangji’s fiancé. Nie Huaisang held back a disappointed sigh. He knew how to pick his battles, and he wasn’t desperate or shameless enough to go after an engaged man (even if he knew they would be a sad substitute for who he really wanted). 

 

“A pleasure to meet you, Second Young Master Lan, Young Master Wei. This one is called Nie Huaisang.” Nie Huaisang gave a delicate bow before straightening when Young Master Wei held his arms. Nie Huaisang felt the Lan Death Glare™ on him and shivered. 

 

Please don’t address me so formally. You saved my life from that horrible, horrible creature.” And to think Nie Huaisang went around thinking he was the most dramatic human on this planet. He has nothing on Young Master Wei. Still, Nie Huaisang have a small smile.

 

“Then, Wei-xiong?” Wei Wuxian gave him a bright smile for the name.

 

“Sounds perfect, Nie-xiong.” Second Young Master Lan was still glaring at Nie Huaisang as if it would kill him. The smaller boy really, really hoped that it couldn’t, but knowing the Second Jade, he would find some way to kill anyone who even so much as thinks about his beloved inappropriately. “Nie-xiong, what are you doing in Caiyi? If I remember correctly—”

 

“A rare occurrence.”

“Lan Zhan! Anyway, if I remember correctly, you’re attending lectures this year right?” Nie Huaisang nodded, then looked up at the other man with hope in his eyes.

 

“Will Wei-xiong also be attending lecture?” If he can’t sleep with him, might as well befriend him. Wei Wuxian was not like other Lans if his screaming was anything to go off of, but to his disappointment, Wei Wuxian shook his head. 

 

“Lan Zhan and I will be attending next year. We would’ve started this year but Old Master Lan—”

 

“Uncle.”

“Last time I called him Uncle, he threw a scroll at my head and told me to research ways to grow his beard back faster.” Nie Huaisang stifled a laugh. “Back to what I was saying, Old Master Lan,” A glare. Then a sigh. “Uncle Lan,” A satisfied look and a fond smile. “Told Lan Zhan and I to go into secluded cultivation to improve ourselves.” Nie Huaisang raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow.

 

“But you’re together?” Wei Wuxian laughed. It was a beautiful thing, like wind rushing through bells or — Ah, there’s the glare again. 

 

“Old Mas—” A pinch. “UNCLE Lan figured we would be too busy missing each other to cultivate property by ourselves, so we’re allowed to leave seclusion once a month to spend time together. You just happened to catch us on one of those days.” No wonder Second Young Master Lan was glaring daggers at him. If Nie Huaisang could only see his lover once a month and then had that day interrupted by some strange boy who’s making goo goo eyes at his fiancé, Nie Huaisang’s saber would taste its first blood. Well, maybe not. Nie Huaisang would just make the stranger’s life a living hell for AT LEAST three decades. 

 

“Well I’ll leave you to it then.” Nie Huaisang turned to leave before Wei Wuxian called out to him.

 

“Come get a drink with us!” Nie Huaisang swore his life flashed before his eyes. He was about to decline when he saw Wei Wuxian’s bright smile. What was worse: Facing the wrath of the Second Jade or making the Golden Flower’s smile dim? Both options seem to end with death by Bichen. He turned to the Second Jade only to see him nod before taking off in a direction. Wei Wuxian’s smile got impossibly brighter before pulling Nie Huaisang along by the sleeve. The group ended up at an inn. They found a table by the back that was mostly hidden from view and secluded and sat there. Well, Nie Huaisang and Second Young Master Lan did. Wei Wuxian seated himself directly on his fiancé’s lap. ‘Oh,’ Nie Huaisang thought, ‘This is why the table is so secluded.’ The server just gave them a fond look before asking for their order. ‘And apparently not the first time they’ve been seen like this. Isn’t the Second Young Master known for not letting people touch him? Is his fiancé the only exception? Or do they both have a possessive streak?’

 

“Two jars of Emperor’s Smile please!” Second Young Master Lan gripped Wei Wuxian’s waist harder. “Oh and our usual. Nie-xiong, what would you like?” Nie Huaisang panicked, and he blames said panic for the words that stumble out of his mouth.

 

“I’ll have what Wei-xiong is having!” Second Young Master Lan shook his head at him and gave him a look.

 

“He’ll have the chicken sesame oil soup.” Nie Huaisang titled his head at the Second Young Master, thinking that he did not want Nie Huaisang picking the same food as his fiancé because of his possessiveness.

 

He was wrong.

 

 

Nie Huaisang has never been more grateful for the godsend that is Lan Wangji. Seeing Wei Wuxian’s food being an extremely alarming shade of red (his eyes were watering from just smelling it) and then seeing the man dump more chili oil into the already bright red dish made Nie Huaisang’s stomach churn in either disgust or anxiety. Possibly both. Lan Wangji just gave him an ‘I-told-you-so’ look before turning to his own vegetarian meal. 

 

“Will you be okay, Wei-xiong?” Nie Huaisang peacefully ate his broth while eyeing Wei Wuxian in apprehension. 

 

“This is nothing! Lan Zhan told me to relax on the spice since I haven’t had it in a while.” Nie Huaisang blanched before drinking another cup of Emperor’s Smile. The two had been drinking while waiting for their meal, and their meal was almost as good as the alcohol. Almost. By the time the group finished eating, Nie Huaisang knew he procrastinated long enough and walked up the mountain with the two Lan disciples. But there was something eating Nie Huaisang up from the inside.

 

“Is it okay?” Both Lans turned to him. “I interrupted your day together…” He really did mean to walk away, but he had so much fun with the two even with Lan Wangji glaring at him if he got too close to Wei Wuxian.

 

“It’s fine! Lan Zhan and I—” Wei Wuxian abruptly put a hand over his mouth but shot Nie Huaisang a wink. Ah, so these two really can’t live without the other.

 

“Well! Hopefully I’ll see you soon, Lan-xiong, Wei-xiong.” Nie Huaisang laughed at Lan Wangji’s shocked expression before following a disciple towards the guest quarters. 

 

‘I hope I see them again soon…’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Present time*

 

“Lan-xiong, Wei-xiong! I’m back!” An exasperated look and a fond smile.

Chapter Text

Jiang Cheng was very aware of his parents’ fights. Though it didn’t happen often, their fights got worse around a certain time of year when father would visit makeshift graves just outside Lotus Pier’s ancestral home. The graves were well crafted for three people: Wei Changze, Cangse Sanren, and Wei Ying. Jiang Cheng wasn’t stupid. He knew when he heard the name “Wei Wuxian” that it was the same “Wei Ying” his father mourned every year. There were too many similarities to just brush off. The age, the so-called “breathe taking smile,” the happy-go-lucky attitude; they were all similar to how his father described the he family to Jiang Cheng when he asked one dreadful year (he saw the longing in his fathers eyes that he not once turned to his mother). Jiang Cheng decided then and there that he was not going to tell his father about Wei Wuxian’s existence, as selfish as that want may be. He’s heard rumors about the Golden Flower of Gusu: jaw-dropping beauty (he was okay), swordsmanship only matched by the Twin Jades (lots of people lose to the Twin Jades, why is he special), a blinding smile (his sister’s was more beautiful), and an infectious laugh (he thought it was annoying). His mother had told him how happy she was that the Wei family was dead because then his father could actually focus on his family and not some other woman’s. Jiang Cheng would make sure that it stayed that way.

 

While he watched Second Young Master Lan and Wei Wuxian talk, he couldn’t help but notice how Lan Xichen looked at him. It wasn’t the same indifference his father showed his mother, nor the love struck glances the two cutsleeves threw at each other. His gaze was almost… warning. As if daring Jiang Cheng to try anything with the two fiancés. Jiang Cheng repressed a slight shiver at the thought of having one of the Twin Jades against him. 

 

“You’ll be staying here!” Wei Wuxian called out. The guesthouses weren’t that bad. There were rooms lining the hall, two per room. They appeared to be quite spacious so Jiang Cheng had no complaints. His sister had left with some other female disciples to head to the female rooms. Jiang Cheng put his stuff down in his room and turned around to get dinner when he came face-to-face with—

 

“Oh shit.”

 

 


 

 

Wei Wuxian was happily skipping across Cloud Recesses to great his friend Nie Huaisang. The group had met the last time the small boy was in studying at Cloud Recesses and the trio had been friends ever since. When they found out the Nie Huaisang had been put in the guest dorms (the boy arrived one day early to complain about it), the fiancés had him moved with Lan Xichen under the pretense of “keeping a closer eye on the returnee.” In actuality, Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian just wanted to be able to talk with their friend without the other guest disciples eyeing them weirdly, and Lan Xichen had always been a tad overindulgent with them. Wei Wuxian seriously wonders what the Elders think of this whole thing. He knows that Lan Qiren stripped them of most control years ago but he has no idea how much control was stripped from them, nor does he know what exactly they do now. But Wei Wuxian had to wonder…

 

“Hey Lan Zhan?”

“Hm?”

“Who was Nie-xiong supposed to dorm with?”
 
“Jiang Wanyin.”

“Oh?” Wei Wuxian rose an eyebrow. “Who is Young Master Jiang rooming with now?” For some reason, Lan Xichen looked extremely happy.

 

 

 

When Wei Wuxian arrived in class the next day, Young Master Jiang and Young Master Jin were nowhere to be seen. He shared a look with Lan Wangji and silently asked if he should look for them. His beloved shook his head and mouthed ‘punishment.’ Wei Wuxian felt his eyebrows raise in shock. Even he hadn’t gotten punished on his first day here (to be fair, he was six). How did the angry young masters manage to get in trouble within hours of being at Cloud Recesses? He didn’t have time to ponder that thought as Master Lan walked into the room with said two boys in tow, both sporting matching “I-pissed-in-your-congee” looks. Lecture was going to be interesting this year.

 

 


 

 

Lan Qiren felt a headache coming on, and for once, it wasn’t because of Wei Wuxian. First, the respective representative head disciples of the Jiang clan and the Jin clan spent half the night in a screaming match, resulting in other disciples to get little to no sleep. Their morning punishment went about as well as excepted (read: Not well at all), and to top it all off, Wen Chao decided to come for a visit.

 

“You’re mistaken.” Wen Chao sneered. “I’m merely escorting two people. We, the Wen Clan, are always educating others. What need would we have for this,” Lan Qiren wanted to punch that condescending, arrogant, disgusting smile off his face, “lecture of yours?”

 

“Then why did you come?” Ah, a Wei Wuxian headache. At least that pain was familiar. “The YunmengJiang clan was just saluting. Did you have to come yelling and causing a commotion so loud our ancestors heard it?” Wen Chao scoffed and several people in the room tensed (Xichen and Wangji tightened their holds on the swords. Lan Qiren was reciting the Lan Clan rules in his head to calm himself down).

 

“Who is this dog speaking to me?” Was it just Lan Qiren or did the room suddenly seem a lot colder? Wei Wuxian gave a bright smile before mock saluting.

 

“Wei Wuxian. Second Disciple of GusuLan.” Wen Chao scoffed.

 

“So a servant thinks he could talk to me? GusuLan needs to work on their discipline.” Lan Qiren saw red. In a rare display of anger, he slammed his open palm down onto the desk he sat in at the front of the room. Lan Xichen reached for him but he brushed his older nephew off.

 

“Wei Wuxian is our Second Disciple. He is our First Disciple’s fiancé and has been raised as such since he was a child. He is known for his success in all six arts and is third on the list of Young Masters.”

 

“Since when does Master Lan listen to lady gossip?” Wei Wuxian whispered to Lan Wangji, loud enough for Lan Qiren to hear, but not for Wen Chao to over his ego.

 

“He should be respected and treated as such. If I hear one more bad word about him, I will be forced to expel you from Cloud Recesses.” Wen Chao opened his disgusting mouth when a girl stepped in front of him and gave her lowest salute.

 

“Forgive us, Master Lan.” She remained bowed. “Our,” She paused and looked like she ate something fowl, “cousin” Ah, Lan Qiren would also wear that expression if he was related to the pig-turned-human, “is merely tired from our long journey.” She motioned for a shy looking boy to bring forward a box and presented it as a gift. The gift was wonderful and would be extremely exquisite if Wen Chao got his filthy self out of Lan Qiren’s home. He motioned for the two to sit down, glared at Wen Chao until he left, then proceeded to motion for the rest of the disciples to finish their saluting. He pointedly did not look at how his nephew and Wei Wuxian were holding hands under their suddenly a lot closer desks.

 

 


 

 

A couple months into the guest disciples stay in Cloud Recesses, Wei Wuxian was accompanying Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen to check out the water ghouls at Caiyi. Nie Huaisang was also being dragged along as he did not want to be left behind with Jiang Wanyin and Jin Zixuan. The boy had gotten close to the two, but hated being with them when they were together as a fight would always break out. For some reason, the two boys also decided to come. Jiang Wanyin under the guise that he has dealt with plenty of water ghouls at Lotus Pier and Jin Zixuan saying he wanted to stay with Nie Huaisang. 

 

“You just don’t want Jiang-xiong to outdo you.” Nie Huaisang had correctly observed, no matter how vividly Jin Zixuan was denying it. A group of disciples had also come with them. One of those disciples, whose name Wei Wuxian felt bad for not knowing, kept trying to strike up a conversation with him. Lan Wangji would always glare that at disciple, but he stupidly did not back down. 

 

When the group left the pier on boats, he noticed that the boat that held Lan Xichen was much lower than the boat that held Nie Huaisang, Jiang Wanyin, and Jin Zixuan. He nudged Lan Wangji and pointed at the Elder Lan.

 

“Big brother.” Lan Wangji called out. Wei Wuxian held his paddle up and winked at Lan Xichen, causing the elder’s eyes to widen and motivating him to jump. He landed just as Wei Wuxian finished flipping his boat revealing two water ghouls. Bichen and Suibian made quick work of the ghouls.

 

“How…?”

“Your boat was lower than the ones carrying three people.” Lan Xichen flashed him a proud smile and patted his head, causing Wei Wuxian to whine and Lan Wangji’s expression to lighten. He only hoped that the rest of the job would go easier.

 

 

 

Abort mission. Abort job. Abort fucking everything because apparently Wei Wuxian cannot have nice things. It was a waterborne abyss. They were dealing with a waterborne abyss in a town known for having good swimmers. Wei Wuxian has never been more angry at the “sun.” He looked down and say the chatty disciple still on the boat, seeming to try and call his sword back to him. Wei Wuxian cursed under his breathe and dove, ignoring Lan Wangji, Lan Xichen, and Nie Huaisang’s calls for him to stop. He reached his hand out for the disciple only to feel the disciple pull him off suibian and into the heart of the abyss.

Chapter Text

 

 

‘I’m sorry, Lan Zhan…’

 

 

Wei Wuxian expected to die when he fell. He was pulled straight into the heart of the beast, the place resentful energy was strongest. The place where it was most suffocating. He felt the rush and pull of the energy infecting him, attacking his golden core. He felt the suffocating presence of water enter his lungs, filling his every breath with agony. He felt the coils of resentful energy wrapping around him in a mock embrace of hate and pain. Felt the energy searing his skin. Felt the burns and bruises and welts forming on his body. 

 

His vision was blurring when he saw it. A hand, dark as night, transparent like mist reaching out to him. Wei Wuxian tried to move away from the hand, but the resentful energy coiled tighter when he tried to move. It dug deeper into his skin, seeping into his qi. His head was heavy. It hurt so badly. What if he just di—

 

‘Foolish boy.’ A familiar voice filled the area around him. Or was it in his head? Wei Wuxian couldn’t tell anymore. He felt like he’s been dying for hours.

 

‘You are not dying.’ The hand reached out again, but this time, he reached for it. He felt the coils of resentful energy pulling him away. Felt them trying to drive him deeper into the waterborne abyss. Felt them dragging him away from home. From Lan Zhan. Lan Xichen. Lan Qiren. Nie Huaisang. Lan Zhan.

 

‘You called for Lan Zhan twice.’ The voice teased, and how he knew that voice. The voice of the woman who raised him after his own mother died, the voice of the woman who trained him, who loved him. A voice he hasn’t heard in five years. He reached for the hand, and when he grasped it…

 

 

 

… he knew nothing.

 

 

 


 

 

 

“WEI YING!” Lan Wangji felt his heart stop. His heart had fallen in with Wei Wuxian and would die with him. He was diving before his brother could advise him otherwise. Someone was screaming, probably Nie Huaisang. His brother was right next to him, both and unexpected yet should have been expected gesture. Lan Xichen was always protective of both boys and seeing one take a deadly fall right in front of him was terrifying to say the least. Su She, the useless disciple, had been handed off to Jin Zixuan for safe keeping (from the abyss or the Lan brothers, no one would know). 

 

Lan Xichen let out a gasp of horror and picked up Suibian. ‘No… no no no no no. He’s not dead. He’s not.’ Lan Wangji flew lower, trying to catch a glimpse of his beloved. He spotted a red ribbon and reached to pull it out only for nothing to be attached to it. Lan Xichen did the same with a familiar white forehead ribbon. The screaming got louder, begging following it. Nie Huaisang was a mess in Jiang Wanyin’s arms, pushing away his friend as if he too wanted to jump into the abyss to join Wei Wuxian.

 

Lan Wangji would. Maybe not physically. He couldn’t leave Lan Xichen to mourn both his brothers so soon after their mother. But his essence would die in this lake with Wei Wuxian should they not recover him. Lan Wangji wasn’t even aware he was shaking until Lan Xichen put an arm on his shoulder. 

 

“Breathe brother. We will find him.” Dead or alive. Alive. Please any deity, god, demon, anything please let him come back to me. Lan Xichen left to search the other end of the abyss while Lan Wangji stayed hovered over where Wei Wuxian had fallen. If Wei Wuxian died today, Bichen would taste the blood of a certain Lan clan outer disciple. He turned a heated glare to Su She who was trembling in Jin Zixuan’s arms. No rule could hold him back from avenging his beloved. Lan Wangji looked down once more only to see white.

 

White amongst black.

 

White robes amongst resentful energy. 

 

He dove faster. Sticking his hand onto the water, he pulled on those robes. They were thankfully still attached to their owner.

 

“BROTHER!” Lan Wangji let out a desperate call, louder than he has ever been before. He cradled Wei Wuxian to his chest, arm around his waist, hand on his head. He was limp. Lan Xichen rushed towards the boys, face colored with panic and despair. He knew why. Wei Wuxian was too pale, too still, too cold. ‘No. Please. No.’ 

 

Lan Xichen reached the boys, his hand checking for a pulse on Wei Wuxian, checking for breathe, checking for any hope that the boy Lan Wangji loved and Gusu adored was alive. Nie Huaisang was desperate now, evident in how Jiang Wanyin was forced to fly downwards so the young Nie could see if his friend was still alive. Lan Xichen tensed, moving from his wrist to his neck, searching, pressing. He shoved a hand under Wei Wuxian’s nose, hoping for a breath. Lan Xichen was growing paler and paler. No. There was no way. No way.Wei Ying. His Wei Ying.

 

(Everyone was so focused on Wei Wuxian that they didn’t see the dark shadow looming over him, blending with the mist of energy from the waterborne abyss. They didn’t notice the hand under his head, under his back where his heart would be. Didn’t notice that hand absorbing the resentful energy that took residence inside her former ward. They didn’t notice her turn that energy onto Su She, nor did they notice how said disciple has been looking a lot worse for wear than usual these days, as if he was being plagued by nightmares on a nightly basis. They did not notice.)

 

(Except, the Second Young Master of Nie was not as unobservant as others believed. He fingered the purification talisman that Wei Wuxian had given him in precaution. He locked his eyes on the trembling disciple and narrowed them at the look of what seemed to be satisfaction in his eyes, even if his face screamed worry. He noticed.)

 

Lan Xichen let out a sigh of relief and Lan Wangji saw the tension leave his brother’s body. He allowed himself to hope. To hope that meant—

 

Wei Wuxian jerked to life in his arms. He twisted himself so that his back was to Lan Wangji’s chest. Lan Wangji adjusted his hold so that his arms were now both around his beloved’s waist. Wei Wuxian started to cough up water, so much water, tinted black with resentful energy. Both the Lan brothers were tapping his back in an attempt to help get the water out. Lan Wangji  dug his fist into Wei Wuxian’s stomach to help get out the water trapped there. They had no idea how much timed pass. Every one of Wei Wuxian’s breathes sounded like they were torture for the boy. He groaned and moaned in a way Lan Wangji didn’t want to hear from his beloved. There were tears running down his love’s face and Lan Wangji made an effort to wipe off every last one of them. Nie Huaisang had stopped screaming and was now silently crying for his friend. The useless disciple was trembling, no one knew why, but they all knew he looked terrible. Regretful maybe? Lan Wangji had other, more important things to worry about.

 

“Lan Zhan…” A raspy voice spoke up. He reached a cold, wet hand towards Lan Wangji and Lan Wangji grasped it and rubbed his cheek onto it like a lifeline. He kissed the cold palm. 

 

“Wei Ying.”

“I’m sorry…” Wei Wuxian closed his eyes and went limp in Lan Wangji’s arms. He felt his heart stop. For one agonizing moment, his world collapsed. Lan Xichen put a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Wuxian is fine. He’s just tired.” Lan Wangji could breathe again. They were going to be alright. He’d make sure of it.

 

 

 

Lan Wangji did not let Wei Wuxian out of his hold. He saw the poorly hidden worried glances Lan Qiren, who had rushed back from the discussion conference in Qinghe with Sect Leader Lan, threw their way. Saw the horrified gasps that overtook both the guest disciples and the Lan disciples. Saw Sect Leader Lan’s body tense with a cold fear and memories of his own wife. The healers wanted Lan Wangji to leave the room while they were examining the still unconscious boy, but he refused. He could not let his heart out of his sight. Not yet.

 

It didn’t get much better when Wei Wuxian woke up. Lan Wangji stuck to him more than usual, a feat many thought was impossible. In class? Wei Wuxian was in Lan Wangji’s lap. Free time? He was holding Wei Wuxian’s hand hugging him close (sometimes, you couldn’t find the two, no matter how hard you tried). Dinner? Lan Wangji was feeding Wei Wuxian. The disciples expected someone to get on their case about the shamelessness but no one ever did. Both Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen were hesitant to separate the two after Wei Wuxian nearly died (they won’t talk about how Lan Xichen did not feel a pulse at first. Not even a breath. They refuse to acknowledge the fact that Wei Wuxian actually died). Qingheng-Jun straight up ignored the Elders’ prompting for punishment, saying that he will not give his son’s relationship the same treatment as he gave his own. The two boys went undisturbed about their shamelessness for years prior to this and that won’t stop now.

 

“Lan Zhaaaaaaannn!!! You have to let me go sometime soon! We’re going to be late for dinner!” Lan Wangji had his head buried in his beloved’s neck, breathing in the sent of lotus flowers and rain. Wei Wuxian sat legs apart, facing Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji dug his head further into his fiancé’s neck, inhaling his scent, feeling his warmth, and kissing his pulse. The two had been sitting there since afternoon classes ended. Wei Wuxian was currently running his finger’s through Lan Wangji’s hair and placing little kisses on his head and the parts of his neck he could reach. Lan Wangji knew he was being obsessive. He knew that this behavior was a bit much, even for him, but the other man was basically purring at the attention, so Lan Wangji knew he didn’t mind. Wei Wuxian was more than happy to reciprocate Lan Wangji’s affection.

 

“Mn. Will ask brother to send our meal here. Will never let you go.” His voice was muffled in Wei Wuxian’s neck. A small look at his beloved’s face could show him that Wei Wuxian was blushing. He sent the messenger butterfly off as he pulled Wei Wuxian impossibly closer, wanting to hold the boy so close that he could never be in danger again, never leave Lan Wangji’s side again. 

 

An hour later, Lan Xichen arrived with Nie Huaisang in tow. The two stopped when they noticed the position the two fiancés were in. Their position hadn’t changed at all. Nie Huaisang hid blush behind his fan and Lan Xichen looked inches away from squealing or fainting. 

 

“Wangji, Wuxian.” Lan Wangji nodded at his brother before motioning for him to sit down. Wei Wuxian was trying to get out of Lan Wangji’s lap, only for Lan Wangji to turn him around so that Wei Wuxian was facing the guests and held him closer. Nie Huaisang smiled at the two before dropping down in front of them and starting small talk.  A couple of servants helped arrange dinner while Lan Xichen seemed to be committing the scene to memory to paint later. Lan Wangji would ask him for that painting. 

 

The servants left not soon after that and Lan Wangji spent the entirety of dinner feeding his beloved. When it became clear that Lan Wangji was too focused on Wei Wuxian to eat himself, Wei Wuxian started to feed his beloved back. Lan Wangji happily accepted the food his beloved gave him and the two spent the entirety of dinner in a lovestruck haze. 

 

(Lan Xichen was living in his own paradise as captain of the WangXian ship. His co-captain was hiding smiles behind his fan, also committing the scene to memory to paint later.)

 

“Wuxian,” Lan Xichen called out at the end of dinner. “How has your recovery been?” Wei Wuxian looked a bit distressed. Why? Was Lan Wangji not doing enough? Or was he doing too much? His love caught on to his train of thoughts very quickly.

 

“No! Lan Zhan its not you. I promise. It’s just…” 

 

“Just?” Nie Huaisang prompted. Very few people knew about Nie Huaisang’s cunning, but when his ship was in danger, everyone in the room knew exactly how the younger Nie could get.

 

“I think someone is out to get me.”

 

 

 

 

That night, three people plotted murder.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian thought it was an accident at first. The traces of arsenic he found in his food could be played off as a chef using the wrong herb and too much of it (Madam Lan had been regularly poisoning Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian to build their immunity towards poison, so the arsenic merely gave him a little cough). The countless times a “stray” arrow almost hit him on the training field when Lan Wangji wasn’t looking, but were knocked away by a sudden wind. The times snakes had snuck into their bed room at the Jingshi only to die before they could go anywhere near the couple. But the most damning piece of evidence happened two nights ago.

 

 

 

Wei Wuxian was not alone per se but he was more “alone” than he has been for the past few weeks. His fiancé was sitting on the other side of a screen. Wei Wuxian was sitting next to Wen Ning, both talking quietly. Their friendship had been building the past few months after Wei Wuxian helped him with his archery. The trio were in a secluded room in the Library Pavilion. The room had a screen separating Lan Wangji and the two who were talking, said screen had a silencing talisman on it so that Lan Wangji could not hear them. It was a large enough room. Bookshelves lined the walls on either side of the screen. A small desk was in front of Lan Wangji, but Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning only had pillows in their area. The boys were sitting across from each other and chatting, waiting for Wei Wuxian’s fiancé to finish his meditation so they could all go to dinner together. They would pick up Wen Qing and Jiang Yanli on the way. The only reason Lan Wangji allowed for this arrangement was because he could sense Wei Wuxian’s spiritual energy and held onto that feeling while he was meditating.

 

The two boys continued to talk about anything and everything: Their respective clans, the branch clan Wen Ning and Wen Qing were from, their medicinal practice, their newly wed and hopefully-soon-to-be-pregnant cousin. Wei Wuxian was laughing at something Wen Ning said when he felt a gust of wind push him forward. He ignored it at first and even stood to close the window, but the wind kept pushing, and when he stood up, he was pushed forward, into Wen Ning, shoving both boys across the room. In that very moment, a bookshelf fell. Wei Wuxian would have blamed it on the wind, if not for the fact that there was no way the wind was strong enough to push down a bookshelf with thousands of books thicker than Wei Wuxian’s thigh and the talisman placed on the back of that bookshelf before it fell. It was a talisman used to move boulders and rocks, a talisman strong enough to topple a bookshelf. The wind stopped blowing and the talisman burned, not even leaving behind ashes to prove its presence. 

 

 

 

 

Wei Wuxian looked around to see the faces of his companions. Nie Huaisang look horrified, panic filling his face as he tried to think of the culprit. Lan Wangji looked both upset and livid. Likely upset that he hadn’t caught on and livid that someone was trying to assassinate his beloved in his own home. But unexpectedly, the most terrifying expression was Lan Xichen’s. Lan Xichen’s face was dark, not a single trace of the bright and smiley face that usually greeted everyone. What replaced it was a look dark enough to rival that of ghoul. He was afraid of what this Lan Xichen could do. The Lan Xichen who would do anything to keep his family safe, the same way Madam Lan instilled in him. Wei Wuxian was the first to speak up.

 

“Young Master Lan?” The look darkened. “Lan Xichen?” A dark smile overtook his face and the room got several degrees colder. Lan Wangji subtly placed himself between his older brother and his fiancé. “Xichen-ge?” The look lessened marginally. “ChenChen-gege?” Lan Xichen’s face twisted with confusion before a smile broke out across his features. It was full of fondness and much kinder than what he showed most people. 

 

“XianXian,” Wei Wuxian blushed at the nickname, much to the pleasure of all three of his companions. “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

 

“I thought I was overreacting. Most of the incidents could be seen as accidents and carelessness…”

“XianXian,” Nie Huaisang joined in. “When has the Lan Clan ever been ‘careless’ with you?” Wei Wuxian looked down and started mumbling. Unnoticed by him, Lan Xichen and Nie Huaisang were both staring at Lan Wangji, silently egging him to join.

 

“Never but I thought…”

“XianXian is too trusting. XianXian needs protecting.” Wei Wuxian’s face turned as red as his food when he heard his fiancé call him by that nickname. Lan Wangji looked far too pleased with himself.

 

“Lan Zhan! I’m not a maiden!” Lan Wangji pulled Wei Wuxian to his side and nuzzled then boy’s hair.

 

“No. XianXian is more precious than any maiden.” Wei Wuxian flushed so red that Lan Xichen ended up checking his temperature and giving him tea to calm his nerves. 

 

(Unknown by the two lovebirds, Nie Huaisang was fantasizing about a certain dark-haired individual saying similar words, but also knew that his love would never leave the comforts of his and his beloved’s respective bedrooms. Lan Xichen imagined the older Nie saying those words to him, but also knew that Nie Mingjue was worse at using his words than Lan Wangji.)

 

“We need to find out who’s out to get our XianXian.” Nie Huaisang spoke up, seriousness ruined by the nickname.

 

“I have ideas.” Lan Xichen spoke up. “But I need evidence.” He and Nie Huaisang shared a look before standing.

 

“Well it was nice seeing you two. XianXian stay with Lan-xiong. Lan-xiong, don’t let XianXian out of your sight or arms more so than usual. Xichen-ge could cover you.” Wei Wuxian looked scandalized at the implication that he could not defend himself, but Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji both nodded seriously. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

“A disciple named Su She.” Lan Xichen responded to Nie Huaisang’s question about who he thought thought the culprit was. “He made a pass at Wuxian when Wuxian was ten,” Nie Huaisang choked. “And has been trying to get his attention for a year now.” Nie Huaisang gave Lan Xichen a look.

 

“Made a pass? On a child? Are you sure?”

 

“Grabbed his waist. Nothing too sexual but enough to be uncomfortable. Wuxian didn’t notice. It was at mother’s funeral.”

“At Madam Lan’s funeral? There are so many things wrong here. I have so many questions. What is happening in the world? Is this real? When is it ever okay to make a pass on a child? Much less at his mother figure’s funeral?” Nie Huaisang sat down. He was starting to look a little pale, Lan Xichen noted. He nodded.

 

“Evidence. We need evidence against him.” Lan Xichen was about to start suggesting that they should investigate Su She more when Nie Huaisang shook his head.

 

“Or… he could go on a night hunt.” Lan Xichen shot Nie Huaisang a confused look. The younger Nie just smirked. “Hear me out.” It was a long night of planning.

 

 


 

 

 

Nie Huaisang set his plan into motion the next week.

 

‘“Send Su She to lead a night hunt. Tell him that Wei-xiong and Lan-xiong are busy so you sent Su She to lead them. All the other sect Young Masters and some of their disciples are there.”’

 

The night hunt was a fairly simple one. A resentful spirit possessed an animal and they had to exorcise it. Lan Xichen and Nie Huaisang purposefully gave the wrong information to Su She, painting the animal as harmless as one of the Cloud Recesses bunnies. In reality, it was a leopard that got possessed and it was anything but harmless. 

 

(“Where would we find a possessed leopard?” Nie Huaisang felt a slight wind fill the area and smirked.

 

“Just pick a location far enough from Cloud Recesses and one will appear.” Lan Xichen just nodded.)

 

‘“I’ll act like I got tired and force Jiang-xiong and Jin-xiong to stay in the back with me.’”

 

Jiang Wanyin and Jin Zixuan were both rolling their eyes at Nie Huaisang’s antics, but stayed behind nonetheless. Nie Huaisang moaned and groaned, much to the annoyance of Su Scum. The other disciples looked on in a mix of amusement and concern, knowing full well that Nie Huaisang is weaker in cultivation and his brother is very, very scary. 

 

‘“You’ll be tailing us.” 

 

“What? Why?”’

 

Nie Huaisang looked at the dark shadows shifting in the trees. Many tend to forget that Madam Lan instilled assassination techniques into her children and Wei Wuxian, a piece of information that should never be forgotten if one pissed off the Lan brothers. The leopard appeared. Su Scant panicked and ordered the disciples to attack. Jiang Wanyin and Jin Zixuan tightened their hold on the Nie Huaisang and pushed the trembling boy behind them. Nie Huaisang hid a smile behind his fan. While they were attacking, Su Scared fled the scene. Disciples screamed in indignation. He was their senior, he was supposed to fight with them, protect them. Nie Huaisang saw the black cloud of resentful energy that seemed to follow Su Short grow. He saw it cover the pig and hide him from sight. The others had long since turned their attention back to fighting. None of them noticed.

 

‘“Why? Well, Xichen-ge, don’t you want revenge?”’

 

Nie Huaisang was the only one with a clear view of what was happening behind the fog, as if whoever was behind it knew that Nie Huaisang was the mastermind behind the assassination. He saw Lan Xichen appear from behind a tree. Saw Su Shit sag with relief at the sight of him. Saw him tense once again at the bloodlust in Lan Xichen’s eyes. 

 

He heard Lan Xichen demand he confess. Heard Su Shit try to argue. Heard Su Shit finally confess to what he did. Heard him say he killed Madam Lan and explain how. Heard him say that her last words cursed him. Heard him talk about the nightmares he’s been plagued with. Heard him say he wanted to make the Lan brothers’ lives miserable because they were stuck up and needed to be knocked down a peg (look in the mirror first Su Shut-the-fuck-up). Heard him beg for his life.

 

Nie Huaisang felt a sick satisfaction in the way Lan Xichen cut off Su Shit’s tongue. Loved the way Su Shit screamed when the surrounding resentful energy burned his eyes. Lan Xichen knew that the resentful energy was his mother and fully welcomed it as a sacrifice to her. They two figured it out when they were looking through Madam Lan’s old notes on assassination and found that she never went through a soul cleansing ceremony. They also found a list of her old notes on resentful energy (something she hid very well from the clan). There was something sadistically beautiful watching Su She’s head be cut almost clean from his body, then watching the resentful leopard (a leopard that Nie Huaisang was sure Madam Lan was controlling) come and completely rip Su Shit’s head from his body and devour it, leaving no traces of what Lan Xichen and Madam Lan had done. Nie Huaisang, of course, chose that moment to scream. Lan Xichen was already blending in with the shadows and on his way back to Cloud Recesses at this point. The disciples looked horrified and with an almost laughable ease, finished off the leopard. He watched the disciples examine the body. Watched as they prepared it to be brought back to Cloud Recesses. Spurred on disciples when they talked badly about Su Shit. Helped spread the idea that the senior disciple was a useless ripoff of the Twin Jades. Didn’t bother correcting the idea that somehow Nie Huaisang’s scream distracted the leopard enough to kill it. Su Shit died a coward. He died unremarkable with barely a thought to his name. He died unfulfilled and useless. He died because he pissed off the wrong duo.

 

 

This would be the first of many Lan/Nie assassinations.

Chapter Text

“Nie-xiong, Young Master Jiang, Young Master Jin!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed excitedly upon seeing the trio. The group was heading to Caiyi town together. For some reason, Young Master Jiang did not seem to like him, but he brushed it aside and figured it was probably nothing. Wei Wuxian was dragging along Lan Wangji, the man a reassuring presence at his side. Ever since Su She’s death, Wei Wuxian has been sticking a lot closer to Lan Wangji, the older providing some semblance of comfort to his fiancé. Wei Wuxian did not need protection, but he did appreciate knowing that he was not alone.

 

“Wei-xiong, Lan-xiong, are you coming with us?” Nie Huaisang asked excitedly. He gripped Wei Wuxian’s arm and smiled. Wei Wuxian laughed and pet his head like the younger Nie was one of Lan Wangji’s bunnies. 

 

“Of course we are Nie-xiong. If we are welcome that is.” He looked at Jiang Wanyin and Jin Zixuan. The Jin heir nodded while Young Master Anger Issues just looked away. Wei Wuxian smirked. He was going to have fun with the Jiang heir.

 

 

They ended up drinking. It was a mess that Wei Wuxian would think back on fondly. 

 

“Wei Wuxian,” The Angry Purple started. “Did you know *hic* your parents are the reason *hic* my parents are always *hic* fighting?” Excuse me.

 

“What?”

“Yeah, apparently *hic* my dad was in love with your *hic* mom and my mom blames *hic* her for it. They’re always fighting *hic* about my *hic* dad mourning *hic* their death *hic* even if my dad says *hic* he’s just mourning good *hic* friends.” Holy crap no wonder Angry Purple Flower had so many issues. There were many things Wei Wuxian was going to take credit and blame for but ruining the marriage of two people he didn’t even know was not one of them. Not that he was going to tell the Angry heir that.

 

“I’m sorry? I know I’m stunning, but I didn’t mean to ruin your parents’ marriage.” Jiang “I’m-not-angry-that’s-just-my-face” Wanyin glared at him.

 

“The only one *hic* who thinks you’re stunning *hic* is your fiancé.”

 

“And anyone with eyes in China .” Nie Huaisang whispered. Daddy Issues Personified ignored him.

 

“And it’s not *hic* your fault. A-jie made me *hic* see that.” Wei Wuxian looked on in pity as the drunk boy slammed his head onto the table.

 

“She sounds like a wonderful person.” Wei Wuxian said soothingly, patting Jiang “See-you-in-family-therapy” Wanyin’s head.

 

“She’s *hic* the best.” He turned his glare onto Jin Zixuan. “You don’t *hic* deserve her.” Wei Wuxian was inclined to agree after he heard the Jin heir badmouthing her. He said as much.

 

“You don’t understand. You’re happily engaged.” Wei Wuxian scoffed.

 

“And you would be too if you weren’t so closed-minded. What? Afraid you’d end up like your parents? That won’t happen unless you’re a cheating asshole.”

“Wei Ying. Langauge.” He kissed Lan Wangji’s check in apology. Nie Huaisang sighed dreamily. Jin Zixuan looked at them with what seemed to be contemplation. Jiang “Drama Queen” Wanyin promptly threw up on Jin Zixuan. It was a fun night.

 

 

 

Everything was quiet after the guest disciples left. Wei Wuxian was content to spend his days wandering around Cloud Recesses, helping Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen with their duties when he was permitted to, feeding the bunnies, and hanging out with disciples of all ages. In their free time, Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian would go to Caiyi to eat and have fun. They would talk with the locals, pick up on some gossip news, and gather some supplies. Wei Wuxian’s life was going really well.

 

 

 

It was a normal day in Cloud Recesses. Wei Wuxian was speed walking through the halls with tea and snacks in his arms looking for his beloved fiancé. Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan had been pretty concerned about the Wens lately. There was talk in Caiyi about the Wens attacking smaller clans around their border and sometimes even their own. As a result, Qingheng-jun and Master Lan are having Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen, sometimes with the addition of Wei Wuxian when he wasn’t training junior disciples. copy the texts in the library. All the majorly important ones had already been copied and moved to a safe place, all that was left to copy was a couple medical texts then the Twin Jades were done. Wei Wuxian was headed there now to see if he could help.

 

He opened the doors to the Library Pavillon to see the love of his life and the love of his life’s brother pouring over what seemed to be the last of the medical texts. He closed the door and gently set the tea down with a grace that came from years of living with the Lan Sect. First he poured a couple to Lan Xichen, who graciously accepted the tea with a small sweet bun. Then he poured one for the apple of his eyes, who thanked him with a kiss and a piece of the sweet bun being fed to him. He smiled and kissed his fiancé again before pouring himself a cup and sitting in one of the empty desks. He started writing the last section of the medical text and like that, the library was filled with nothing but the sound of brushstrokes and longing glances between fiancés with a pointedly not looking older brother.

 

 

 

 

Lan Xichen left to hide the last of the texts. The texts were being hidden in a secret locked vault that was originally in the forbidden library but had been moved to an underground restricted area in Qinghe for safe keeping. Nie Mingjue would never let anything Lan Xichen found important fall into the wrong hands. No one had access to that vault except for those with Lan blood running through their veins. With Lan Xichen gone, Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian were in charge of all the training for disciples. They worked them hard, training them for situations where they are outnumbered and out skilled. 

 

“Da-shixiong, Er-shixiong.” The disciples saluted after training had ended. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian walked towards the Hanshi where Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan were waiting for them to give their reports. The two fiancés were chattering loudly as the walked through Cloud Recesses. Well, Wei Wuxian was chatting loudly. Lan Wangji stuck to his one word responses and nods. A scream interrupted their walk. 

 

“SECOND YOUNG MASTER LAN, YOUNG MASTER WEI! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!” A disciple yelled, much too loud for Cloud Recesses but appropriate for the circumstance. The two sprinted to the Hanshi where they saw Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan running out to meet them.

 

“Get everyone to the cold cave.” Qingheng-jun ordered. 

 

“No,” Master Lan looked incredulously at Wei Wuxian’s audacity. “Sect Leader Lan, with all due respect you and Master Lan should be the ones to go. You’re our leader. We need you safe. Lan Zhan and I can fight.” Wei Wuxian was not budging on this. He didn’t want Lan Wangji to lose another parent and if that meant putting himself in danger, he would.

 

“Wei Ying should go."

“I’m not leaving you. You would stay no matter what I tell you and I’m not leaving your side.” The fiancés shot each other a look before Lan Wangji sighed and relented. They urged the masters to go to the cave and gathered the civilians, elderly, and non-combatants into groups before escorting them to the cave with the masters.

 

“Be safe.” Qingheng-jun was tearing up when he entered the cave. Wei Wuxian smiled and nodded.

 

“I’ll keep Lan Zhan safe.” Lan Wangji pushed him a little.

 

“He meant you too, you menace.” Lan Qiren scowled.

 

“Aw Master Lan! You do care!” Lan Wangji pushed him harder.

 

“Do not tease.” Wei Wuxian laughed and pulled all three Lans into a hug.

 

“We’ll be okay.” Qingheng-jun and Lan Qiren nodded before walking into the cave. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian nodded before turning the other direction towards the heart of the fight.

 

 

 

 

They were not okay. Things were not okay. For all their training, it was a hard fight. They were out-armed, outmanned, outnumbered, out-planned. They had to make an all-out stand. Every one of their able disciples were out fighting. Cloud Recesses was filled with a sea of bodies. White was stained with red. You couldn’t tell if there was more Lan or Wen bodies at this point. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian were alternating between fighting from the shadows and fighting in the frontlines. Wen Xu’s ugly mug was laughing at the sight. Wei Wuxian wanted to run him through with his sword. 

 

“ER-SHIXIONG LOOK OUT!” A disciple called from the distance. Wei Wuxian turned around, only to come face-to-face with Wen Xu. Sword met sword in a dance of blood and steal. Wen Xu was Wen Ruohan’s better son. He was skilled in fighting and cultivation but was an overall airhead, an improvement from his purely airheaded son. He dodged Wen Xu’s sword and moved to strike back only to be met with steal. He parried to the side and stuck only to be met by air. This pattern continued for a while. Wei Wuxian was distracted with Wen Xu, but not distracted enough to be blind to Wen Zhuliu sneaking up on Lan Wangji, who was fighting six other Wen cultivators. 

 

“LAN ZHAN!” Wei Wuxian turned his back to Wen Xu and ran towards his fiancé. He barely felt Wen Xu stabbing his stomach, too focused on getting to his beloved. He pushed Lan Wangji out of the way only to be met with core-melting hand himself. He felt it. He felt the moment core-melting hand melted his golden core. Felt the moment that the ever-present heat in his body ran out. He felt the pain, the torturous, searing pain of having his golden core ripped from him. He felt Wen Zhuliu grab him and jump on his sword. Saw Wen Xu follow. Heard Lan Wangji’s anguished scream. Reached for his fiancé, almost got to his fiancé, before he saw Wen Xu move to cut Lan Wangji’s hand off and ripped his forehead ribbon from his head, shoved it into Lan Wangji’s hand along with Suibian, and pushed his love away. He gave his beloved one final smile. Wen Xu was laughing. He was saying something to Wei Wuxian but Wei Wuxian was too out of it to hear. He saw Cloud Recesses fading away. Saw a small, desert looking town. Saw green scenery turn black. Saw a forest full of dark mist. Saw the almost black mountains. Saw Wen Xu sneer. Saw Wen Zhuliu’s pitying glance. Saw the Wen cultivators that left with them laughing. Saw more than felt Wen Xu’s kick.

 

 

 

 

Wei Wuxian fell.

Chapter Text

*months before Nie Huaisang’s first visit to Cloud Recesses*

 

 

Nie Huaisang loved the Unclean Realm. As aesthetically unappealing as it was, it had Nie Mingjue. It had all his childhood friends. It had his cousins, his birds, his fans, his paintings. But most of all, it had him. 

 

Honestly, Nie Huaisang’s gay awakening was one of the most uneventful, yet the most heart stopping, heart breaking moment of his very short life. Huaisang has always loved pretty things, his birds, his fans, his paintings, himself, but nothing held a candle to Meng Yao. The deputy looked good in Nie green. He looked good in everything, but seeing Meng Yao in Nie colors stirred something possessive in Nie Huaisang.

 

‘Is this how Lan-xiong feels when he sees Wei-xiong in white?’ Nie Huaisang barely heard his brother’s introduction of the beauty. Barely heard him saying that Meng Yao would also be attending to Nie Huaisang, because in that moment the only thing Nie Huaisang could focus on was how pretty Meng Yao’s smile was. How his eyes shone like the brights amber. How his hands were as delicate as a flower. How he wants those hands to hold him close and— ‘Holy shit I’m gay.

 

Overall, it was a fairly normal day.

 

 

 

 

Nie Huaisang spent the first few months of Meng Yao living in the Unclean Realm avoiding Meng Yao like the plague. After he found out that Meng Yao was not only beautiful but also smart, he was falling harder for than man than ever. However, contrary to popular belief, Nie Huaisang was not stupid. He knew that he couldn’t court Meng Yao. Knew that courting Meng Yao would not only reflect badly on Nie Mingjue, but the rumors around Meng Yao would get much, much worse. So for the sake of his sun, he stayed away. He dedicated more time to training so that Nie Mingjue would have less excuses to send Meng Yao to find him. He studied hard so that Meng Yao would not have to tutor him. He took sect responsibilities so that Nie Mingjue would not drag him to sect meetings with him and Meng Yao. Nie Huaisang was fine. He was okay with barely seeing the person who seemed to brighten every room he entered. He was fine with not painting or attending to his birds or designing fans. He was fine ruining himself as long as it meant that unsavory rumors about Meng Yao sleeping his way to the top would stay away from the kind hearted man he loved.

 

“Huaisang.” Nie Mingjue called. The two brothers always ate dinner together. It was a tradition they started after Huaisang’s mom died and one they kept to this day unless his brother was away for the night. “Has Meng Yao offended you?” Huaisang choked on his tea (how he wished he could choke on— Huaisang, no!).

 

“Why would you say that?” Nie Huaisang responded, voice raspy. Nie Mingjue raised an eyebrow.

 

“You’ve been avoiding him.” Nie Huaisang laughed.

 

“No, I haven’t. I’ve just been doing what you wanted. Are you always this suspicious, Da-ge?” Nie Mingjue shook his head.

 

“With you? I have to be. Tell me what’s wrong.” He motioned to the wine. Nie Huaisang bit back a smile as he poured a cup for Nie Mingjue and then one for himself. He waited for his brother to drink before drinking his own cup.

 

“Nothing is wrong, Da-ge. I’ll just miss you and the Unclean Realm when I go to Cloud Recesses in a couple months.” Nie Mingjue looked suspicious but let the topic slide. Nie Huaisang might not look like it, but he is, in fact, a Nie. He was more stubborn than the stone walls of the Unclean Realm and harder to move than any mountain. His secrets would stay his secrets.

 

 

 

 

Apparently, his secrets would not stay his secrets for much longer. Nie Huaisang has always hated bullies, always hated judging people based on their parentage. Nie Huaisang was the son of his father’s and Nie Mingjue’s mother’s shared mistress. It was a mutually consensual arrangement by all parties, who loved each other deeply, but it was looked down upon by the rest of the cultivation world. If not for Nie Mingjue’s mother’s parents refusing to allow the former Sect Leader Nie to take a second wife, else they would forcibly take their daughter away, Nie Huaisang’s mother would have married into the sect as the their father’s second wife. But because she was a mere mistress, several unsavory rumors were circulating Huaisang during his early childhood. Those rumors were shut down by Nie Mingjue and their father, but they still impacted Huaisang. Now, Huaisang verbally acts against those who judge others based on their linage. Which is why when he saw the Nie Chief General disregarding, disrespecting, and dissing Meng Yao, Nie Huaisang had to act, even if he didn’t have a crush tripling hundreds of Nie Mingjue’s biceps combined in size and as unrelenting as Wen Ruohan’s need to be an asshole.

 

“Chief General.” Nie Huaisang called out sweetly, face hidden behind a fan. The Chief General turned to face Nie Huaisang with a smile.

 

“Yes, Young Master Nie?” The Chief General has always treated Nie Huaisang well, if only because Nie Mingjue threatened to cut off his tongue if he heard him talking bad about his little brother. But behind that sweet smile, was a kiss ass who rivaled Jin Guangshan.

 

“Don’t you have duties to attend to?” The Chief General looked confused. “You know, other than disrespecting the man who my brother, our Sect Leader, elected to be his right hand man, his deputy?” The General paled. Pathetic. Huaisang wasn’t nearly done. “Did you forget that I, too, am the son of a mistress?” The General sputtered grossly.

 

“Young Master, Meng Yao’s mother was a prostitute. It’s different—”

 

“Why? Because Meng Yao’s mother did what she needed to to survive while mine did it out of love? For pleasure? Does that not make me below Meng Yao because of it then?” The General continued to act pathetic. “Or is it because A-Yao is an easy target for you? Are you so pathetic that you feel the need to completely tarnish a person’s handwork simply because of their lineage? No, it’s not even a matter of lineage, you’re just bored. If you have enough time to be a disrespectful, disgusting, absolute bore of a man, then you have time to be actually working for a change instead of commanding others to do so for you.” At this point, he was standing between Meng Yao and the General. Nie Huaisang smirked when he saw Nie Mingjue coming from a distance behind the General. He allowed a sad, distraught look to overtake his face before lowering his fan. “Or are you that desperate for attention and praise that you bring down others to do so? In that case,” Nie Huaisang fought down his smirk and reached for Meng Yao’s hand before turning them both away to walk in the other direction, but not before throwing a few choice words over his shoulder. Words that the audience they gathered could not hear. Words only for Meng Yao’s and the General’s ears.  “You are no better than the pigs in the stables or the shit they relish in.” He felt the General’s rage. Felt him pull out his saber. Felt the other disciples’ horror. Felt Meng Yao pull his out only for Nie Huaisang to pull him further away. 

 

‘You stupid, stupid man. Don’t you know better than to pull a blade on the Sect Leader’s spoiled brother?’

 

Baxia was cutting the General’s arm off before Nie Huaisang could even finish that thought. Nie Huaisang let a shocked, yet appropriately upset look overtake his face.

 

“Da-ge!” He yelled, dislodging himself from Meng Yao to throw himself at his older brother. “The Chief General. He— He—” Nie Mingjue put a hand on Nie Huaisang’s head and pulled his little brother closer.

 

“I know, A-Sang. I saw it.” He growled through clenched teeth. The Chief General was trembling. Nie Huaisang felt satisfaction well in him, but forced it down to keep up the farce.

 

“Sect Leader Nie. He— Huaisang— He—” Baxia flew and positioned itself on the General’s neck.

 

“DON’T YOU DARE SPEAK HIS NAME!” Nie Mingjue’s voice boomed. Most of the disciples have gathered. The ones who were there previously filled them in. They talked about how the Chief General was abusing Meng Yao and how Nie Huaisang stood up to him only for the Chief General to try to stab him to save his pride. After all, there was no way their beloved Young Master could ever plan something so devious as to purposefully rile up a man in order to get him to attack knowing full well Nie Mingjue would see it and act accordingly. Never. Nie Mingjue looked at the General like he was a piece of shit on his shoe. “The punishment for attacking an inner disciple of Nie, much more the Sect heir, is execution. Effective immediately.” Before the disgusting man could even begin to protest, Baxia had ripped his head from his body. Nie Mingjue forced Nie Huaisang’s face into his chest (a very broad, very nice, and very muscular chest. This is the author speaking, not Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang thinks Meng Yao’s chest is nicer, softer, more comfortable) so that Huaisang would not see the violent act. Nie Huaisang whimpered into his brother’s chest, making Nie Mingjue act. He started to caress his younger brother’s hair and whispered comforting words to him. To the disciples, it was a heart warming scene, showing a side of the Sect Leader that they rarely see. To Nie Huaisang, it was him being spoiled. His brother rarely gives public affection and Nie Huaisang will take what he could get. He melted into his brother and stayed there until it was socially unacceptable to. Then he waited a few more minutes before letting go.

 

“Thank you, Da-ge. For protecting me.” His brother smiled warmly at him.

 

“Didn’t I promise you that I would always protect you, A-Sang? That hasn’t changed.” He turned to Meng Yao. “Meng Yao, are you okay?” The shocked man nodded.

 

“Yes, Young Master Nie didn’t allow the man to attack me physically and stopped his verbal assault.” Meng Yao moved to salut but Nie Huaisang was there in an instant, placing a hand on his arms to stop him.

 

“Meng Yao,” Nie Huaisang smiled warmly. “Never thank me for doing the right thing. For doing what should have been done sooner.” Meng Yao looked even more shocked, as if no one has ever said such words to him. Nie Huaisang realized sadly that it was probably true.

 

 

 

That was the start of Nie Huaisang and Meng Yao’s friendship. Months later, after Nie Huaisang returned from Cloud Recesses, Meng Yao comforted Nie Huaisang while he was upset because Nie Mingjue yelled at him for failing at Cloud Recesses and called the younger a disappointment. Drunkenly, Nie Huaisang would confess to Meng Yao, who was too shocked to respond at the time. When Nie Huaisang remembered in the morning what happened between the two, he would once again take to avoiding Meng Yao in the simplest way possible: leaving Qinghe under the guise of not wanting his brother to see his greatest disappointment. Apparently Meng Yao did not buy the lie because a mere week after Nie Huaisang left, Meng Yao tracked him down, dragged him back into the inn where Nie Huaisang was staying, and proceeded to kiss the everliving daylights out of him.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t do this sooner. I was afraid your confession was a fluke. I’ve felt the same way ever since you stood up for me.” Meng Yao was pretty when he blushed. They kissed again and again, never taking things further but also not wanting it to end. Nie Huaisang returned to the Unclean Realm another week later with Meng Yao. His brother hugged him tightly and apologized for his cruel words. Though it hurt him, he offered to go back to Cloud Recesses for another year to attend classes and make up for his failure (that was the plan all along after all. He still wanted to attend classes with Wei-xiong and Lan-xiong).

 

Later that night, Meng Yao and Nie Huaisang would agree that their relationship needed to be kept a secret, for both parties’ sakes. When Nie Huaisang left for Cloud Recesses, frequent letters would be sent between the two. Maybe Nie Mingjue caught on. Maybe he knew what his little brother and Meng Yao were doing behind closed doors. Maybe he knew how Nie Huaisang felt about his deputy. Maybe that’s why he personally broke the news about Meng Yao’s disappearance to Nie Huaisang, even if Nie Huaisang already received a note from Meng Yao saying: “I’m sorry.” Maybe that’s why he didn’t question why Nie Huaisang cried so hard that night. Maybe that’s why Nie Mingjue refused to let Nie Huaisang leave his side. 

 

 

 

 

Maybe that’s why Nie Mingjue was so mad when that time came.

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji watched his heart get ripped away from him. He was standing in the middle of Cloud Recesses watching the rest of the Wen cultivators retreat, still clutching Subian and Wei Wuxian’s forehead ribbon. Lan Wangji kept his hand in exchange for his heart, a tradeoff that was completely unfair and unwanted. One of the disciples grabbed a Wen before he could flee and tied him up to be interrogate. Behind Lan Wangji, Cloud Recesses burned.

 

 

 

“Father, Uncle.” Lan Wangji collapsed in front of his two father figures. They looked extremely happy to see him, a look that was immediately squashed when they saw who wasn’t next to him.

 

“Wangji…. where’s Wei Wuxian?” Lan Wangji flinched at the sound of his name and fell to his knees. Around them, the elderly, women, and Lan disciples who weren’t in the fight or weren’t there held back gasps of horror. The children started loudly asking for the ‘Xain-gege.’

 

“I’m sorry, Sect Leader, Teacher. I failed him. I failed to protect Wei YIng.” Lan Wangji felt the hot tears running down his cheek. He saw his father clench his fist and start to tremble, his eyes watery. He saw the surrounding disciples shake so hard some fell over. Saw the children start crying louder, asking for a man who couldn’t be there. Saw some women fall to the ground while others supported them. Saw the elderly comforting the children. And for the first time, Lan Wangji saw Lan Qiren cry.

 

“FATHER! UNCLE! WANGJI!” Lan Xichen’s voice sounded around the cave. Everyone turned to him with varying expressions of horror. Lan Wangji wanted to break down at the sound of his brother’s voice. He turned to him.

 

“Brother…” Lan Xichen wasn’t looking at him. His eyes were frantically searching the room, scanning for a smiling, happy-go-lucky figure that would always brighten any situation. Instead, his eyes locked on the forehead ribbon and sword still clenched in his hands.

 

“No….” Lan Xichen moved forward and grasped his brother by the shoulders. “Where is he, Wangji? Where is your fiancé? Where is my youngest brother? Where is Wei Wuxian?” Lan Xichen was frantic, he was panicked. Lan Wangji couldn’t look him in the eye.

 

“He saved me.” All eyes were on him now. The usual discomfort of having so much attention on him was shadowed by the extreme numbness he felt without Wei Wuxian’s warmth in his hand, by his side. “Core-melting hand came for me.” Lan Xichen gasped and checked his brother’s qi. Lan Wangji shook his head. “Wei Ying pushed me out of the way.” There were several gasps of horror heard. “He shoved me away. He took Wen Zhuliu’s cursed power onto himself. He got his core melted saving me.” Lan Wangji wished he could cry. He wished he could be angry. He wish he could feel something, but all he felt was numb. He was as cold as the ice in the cave yet he was the one still with a golden core. “The Wens took him. I reached for him but Wen Xu had his sword raised. Wei Ying saw that and he— he— he pushed me out of the way by throwing,” Lan Wangji couldn’t get the words out. Instead, he held up Subain and Wei Wuxian’s forehead ribbon. “The force pushed me back. I failed him.” Lan Wangji fully collapsed onto his brother, who merely held him closer. ‘Don’t. Push me away. I deserve it. I failed. I failed him. He’s— Wei Ying— He—‘ His brother patted his back and whispered words of comfort into his ear. Behind him, Qingheng-jun and Lan Qiren had their hands on his shoulders.

 

“He would’ve wanted this. The best thing we could do is live so that his sacrifice hasn’t gone to waste.” Lan Wangji felt something in him break further. He didn’t want to live. Not without Wei Wuxian. His Wei Ying.

 

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen spoke through tears, “live.

 

He couldn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lans were split into two groups. One group was to stay behind and guard the civilians and the rebuilding process in Cloud Recesses. This group included Qingheng-jun and Lan Qiren as their leaders. The other group, lead by Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji, took Lan cultivators to the Unclean Realm for war. When they arrived, Nie Huaisang and Nie Mingjue were waiting for them at the gates. His friend looked terrible, like he had been crying for days on end. Lan Wangji knew it couldn’t be because of Wei Wuxian as news could not have possibly reached Qinghe yet. He turned to Lan Xichen for an explanation and Lan Xichen mouthed, “Meng Yao.” Lan Wangji raised an eyebrow only for Lan Xichen to shake his head and mouth, “Later.”

 

“Xichen-ge, Lan-xiong. Welcome to the Unclean Realm. I’ll lead you to your rooms. Will Wei-xiong be joining us later?” Lan Xichen tensed and shook his head at Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang looked confused and turned to Lan Wangji for an answer, only for Lan Wangji to look down. The pieces clicked in Nie Huaisang’s head.

 

“No….. he’s not…. is he….” Nie Huaisang started trembling and fell into his brother’s side. Nie Mingjue looked horrified and held his younger brother tighter. “Lan-xiong… I’m sorry I—”

 

“Didn’t know.” Nie Huaisang shook his head.

 

“You two are never not together. I should’ve gotten the hint.” He stood up and patted his brother’s arm, signaling for them to get moving. Nie Huaisang fell into step with Lan Wangji, providing a silent comfort that Lan Wangji was grateful for.

 

 

 

Once the Lan disciples settled in, Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen went into the Discussion Hall to talk about what happened. They owed it to Nie Huaisang, who loved Wei Wuxian as a brother. Lan Xichen had also explained that Nie Huaisang and Meng Yao were really close friends before Meng Yao went missing. ‘Nie Huaisang understands.’ Was Lan Wangji’s first thought when he heard that. They entered the hall without much fanfare. Nie Mingjue sat on his iron throne while Nie Huaisang sat at his right at the table closest to his brother. The Lan brothers sat across from Nie Huaisang.

 

“So what happened?” Nie Mingjue started. Lan Xichen was the one to explained how things went, the attack, how the Lans retaliated, what happened to Wei Wuxian. Nie Huaisang listened attentively, sometimes glancing at Lan Wangji, who was just staring at his tea. The weirdest part was after Lan Xichen finished, when Nie Mingjue was pacing back and forth, eyes trained on the ground, Lan Xichen and Nie Huaisang shared a look. He didn’t know what that look meant, but he knew to be very afraid of it.

 

(A couple weeks later, Wen Xu was mysteriously killed. Some say that Wen Chao, his jealous little brother, killed him for power. Others say he choked on his food. Most say that a resentful spirit leveled Wen Xu’s home after he pissed off enough people. No one suspected that Nie Huaisang was capable of dressing up as a concubine and poisoning Wen Xu. No one suspected that Lan Xichen was morally able to kidnap a few guards to question them about the whereabouts of Wei Wuxian. No one suspected that in a fit of rage, Nie Huaisang and Lan Xichen managed to destroy an entire manor of Wen cultivators between the two of them, with various poisons, Wen blades, and some ironic fire talismans. No one.)

 

 

 

 

Three months into what was dubbed the Sunshot Campaign, there was still no new information on Wei Wuxian. Lan Xichen claimed that a Wen guard they captured at the border confessed to having thrown Wei Wuxian into the Burial Mounds. Lan Wangji was a mess when he found out. Well, as big of a mess as Lans could get. He couldn’t eat without throwing it up thinking about Wei Wuxian starving in the Burial Mounds. He couldn’t sleep for his sleep was plagued with nightmares of Wei Wuxian being eaten alive by corpses or starving to death or losing his mind and sanity to resentful energy. Nightmares of never being with Wei Wuxian again, never seeing his smile, hearing his laugh. He keep seeing that faithful day. He remembered Wei Wuxian’s expression of pure pain and anguish when his core was melted. He remembered his silent scream. His sad, resigned face when he threw Lan Wangji Suibian and his forehead ribbon.

 

Lan Wangji touched the front pocket right in front of his heart where he kept Wei Wuxian’s forehead ribbon at all times. When the news about Wei Wuxian’s fate reached Cloud Recesses, both Lan Qiren and Qingheng-jun risked coming to the Unclean Realm to see Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen. The four mourned together, remembering Wei Wuxian and praying that he came out alive. Praying that he came out the smiling, happy, joyful boy they knew, knowing full well that if Wei Wuxian somehow did manage to survive the Burial Mounds, he would be completely different. Someone knocked on his door, snapping him out of his thoughts. Upon his call to enter, Lan Xichen walked in.

“Wangji.” Lan Wangji nodded and motioned for his brother to sit down. Lan Xichen has been looking more tired than usual these days. He had bags under his eyes from overwork, looked paler than usual, and his smile now was more forced than ever. Lan Xichen placed a silencing talisman on the door.

 

“Is Jin Guangshan still being difficult?” Lan Xichen let a cold smile overtake his face.

 

“When is he not? His son is working tremendously hard though. I can’t say the same for his nephew.” Both are very much so aware they are breaking the “no gossip” rule, but neither cared when the Jins act like they own the world and kiss up to the very man they’re fighting. “Regardless, I have a mission for you to go on.” He poured Lan Xichen a cup of soothing tea and motioned for him to continue. “You’ll be going to Yiling.” Lan Wangji froze. He didn’t realize he was still pouring tea until his brother lifted the pot from his hand and set it down. “I know, but there is a Wen supervisory office there that you need to take down. Wen Chao is rumored to be hiding there.” Lan Wangji raised an eyebrow.

 

“We’re chasing a rumor?” Lan Xichen shook his head.

 

“First, we have valuable information stating that he is there. Wen Qionglin sent a message.” Lan Wangji was not surprised. Wen Qionglin and Wen Qing have been sending messages to them, updating them about the war from their perspective. That information was the only thing that kept Lotus Pier from burning when Wen Chao attacked. Apparently, Wei Wuxian made very useful friends. “Second, we will not be going. You will go with Jiang Cheng.” Lan Wangji tensed. It was known that the Young Master Jiang did not like the Wens in any way, shape, or form after they melted his mother’s core. He was adamant about them all of them being evil. Lan Xichen noticed his tense figure.

 

“It’ll be okay. Wen Qionglin, Wen Qing, and their people have been moved to the back mountain of Cloud Recesses. Father and Uncle oversaw the move.” Lan Wangji eased, but he had another question. He raised his eyebrow at his brother. “Wen Qing told Wen Chao that they needed to hunt for more medicinal herbs. Their people were not in Yiling. but on Dafan mountain so Wen Chao didn’t suspect a thing.” Lan Wangji smiled at his friend’s sister’s thinking. Wen Chao’s father valued Wen Qing so he could not say no to her. 

 

“When will we leave?” 

 

“Tonight.”

 

 

 

 

 

When they got to the Yiling Supervisory office, most of the Wens there were already dead. They seemed to have committed a mass suicide judging from the way they died. The resentful energy was strong in the air. Lan Wangji and Jiang Wanyin told their disciples to wait outside while they investigated. The disciples, though hesitant, listened. In the distance, a flute was heard. It sounded like a dizi, and that made Lan Wangji’s heart ache. Wei Wuxian knew how to play the guqin, but always preferred the dizi, claiming to was easier to play and carry around (Lan Wangji knows Wei Wuxian just liked twirling it around). Wei Wuxian’s dizi was made of white jade and had a blue tassel. He named it Wangji. Lan Wangji, in retaliation, named his guqin Wuxian. Lan Wangji and Jiang Wanyin jumped onto the roof where the music was loudest and tore open a plank to see inside. Inside was a completely disgusting looking Wen Chao and Wen Zhuliu’s corpse. Wen Chao was bleeding out of every possible orifice to bleed out of. His hair was thinned to where he was almost bald.  He was pale and covered in scratch marks. Wen Zhuliu had no arms and his head was severed from his body. The resentful energy was concentrated in this room. A figure emerged from the shadows. He was wearing all black clothing, his hair tied with an all too familiar ribbon playing an all two familiar flute. Lan Wangji’s eyes widened and he broke through the roof, causing Jiang Wanyin to call out in shock. The figure turned to where the noise was and came face to face with Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji felt his eyes water and his heart beat in his chest for the first time in three months. He called out the name of the person he longed for since he lost him.

 

 

 

 

 

“Wei Ying.”

Chapter Text

For a moment, Wei Wuxian forgot about Wen Chao. He forgot about the dark energy circling around him. He forgot about the emptiness in his chest where his core used to be. He forgot about the months trying to survive the Burial Mounds. He forgot about finding out that Madam Lan was a resentful ghost. That she was the one helping him in the Burial Mounds. That she made sure he stayed alive and got out as untouched as possible. That she showed him these dark songs. That she kept him from losing himself to the mountains. He forgot. Because for the first time in however long he was gone, his beloved, his love, his jade, his heart was in front of him. Wei Wuxian let a sob pass through his lips as he jumped into Lan Wangji’s arms. Lan Wangji, for his part, tightened his hold on Wei Wuxian to the point where it almost hurt. It was as if he wanted to mold Wei Wuxian into his body so that nothing may separate them ever again. Wei Wuxian pushed himself closer to his fiancé, wanting nothing more than to ever leave his arms.

 

The two of them were so caught up in their own world that they failed to noice Jiang Wanyin hanging Wen Chao with Zidian. They didn’t notice Wen Chao’s pig-like squeals for mercy. They didn’t notice Jiang Wanyin taking every pleasure in killing the person who tired to destroy his home. Instead, Wei Wuxian placed his head on Lan Wangji’s chest, over his heart to feel his heartbeat, only to feel a piece of fabric there. He reached inside Lan Wangji’s robes (his love’s ears were an adorable shade of red) and pulled out his forehead ribbon. He looked at the ribbon sadly and was about to put it back in his love’s robe when Lan Wangji unwound one arm from around his beloved and somehow managed to tie Wei Wuxian’s forehead ribbon back on. When he was done, he pulled Wei Wuxian back into the hug, Wei Wuxian nuzzled into his chest and listened to his fiancé’s steady heart beat. Lan Wangji placed a kiss on Wei Wuxian’s crown, then pulled away slightly to kiss his forehead ribbon. Wei Wuxian leaned up to do the same and quickly planted a kiss on the corner of Lan Wangji’s lips. Said man looked displeased and Wei Wuxian bit back a laugh.

 

“What’s that face for, my love?” Lan Wangji looked so relived to hear Wei Wuxian’s voice that Wei Wuxian thought he was going to cry. He hoped not because if his heart cried, so would he.

 

“Wei Ying.” Lan Wangji’s voice had a teasing tone to it. “Wei Ying’s aim got worse.” Lan Wangji planted a kiss straight onto Wei Wuxian’s lips. The younger moaned at finally tasting his jade’s lips again. They pressed closer and deeper, Lan Wangji licking the seams of Wei Wuxian’s lips before simply forcing his way through, much too impatient after being apart for so long. Wei Wuxian met him halfway and the kiss very quickly turned filthy, with Lan Wangji’s hand sliding lower and lower until—

 

A voice coughed behind them, causing Wei Wuxian to pull away. Wei Wuxian turned around to give Jiang Wanyin an apologetic look that looked more embarrassed than apologetic while Lan Wangji simply glared at the interruption. Wei Wuxian let out a laugh before slowly prying himself from his love’s arms. Apparently his love had other ideas and pulled him closer instead, accompanied by a questioning look. Wei Wuxian laughed and shook his head, ‘No, I don’t want to leave your arms either.’ His look read. Lan Wangji looked satisfied and simply turned Wei Wuxian around so he could face the Jiang heir.

 

“Jiang Cheng! How have you been?” The angry purple boy scowled more.

 

“It’s Sect Leader Jiang and I’ve been fine. What about you? You’ve been missing for three months! Nie Huaisang spent all that time crying and naming birds after you!” Wei Wuxian stopped listening after he heard Sect Leader Jiang.

 

“Sect Leader? Your parents. Are they okay?” Wei Wuxian started to panic. He knew full well what it was like to lose your parents and he would never wish that upon anyone except maybe Wen Xu. Jiang Wanyin’s eyes seemed to soften.

 

“They’re okay. They just lost their cores. You never answered my question though, dumbass. Are you okay?” Wei Wuxian gave him a smile.

 

“Yeah. The resentful energy doesn’t really harm me unless I use too much. I play Cleansing for myself every now and then to help keep control.” Lan Wangji’s arms tightened around him.

 

“Will play Cleansing for Wei Ying.” He smiled up at his fiancé. 

 

“You’re the best, Lan Zhan.” Lan Wangji planted a kiss on his cheek. Jiang Wanyin faked throwing up before regaining his seriousness.

“The whole cultivation world knows what happened to you.” Wei Wuxian tensed. “The Lans told everyone about your engagement in an effort to protect you. Gusu’s visiting disciples who saw the two of you backed it up. People think it’s the most romantic thing ever.” Wei Wuxian’s jaw dropped. He turned to his fiancé for an explanation only for Lan Wangji to grip him tighter and bury his head in his neck. Wei Wuxian turned back to Jiang Wanyin.

 

“Apparently, you pushing your fiancé out of the way and taking Wen Zhuliu’s core melting hand yourself raised the standards in the cultivation world.” Wei Wuxian choked. Jiang Wanyin nodded. “Every girl is going on and on about how she wants a man who would give up something that important for her. It’s appalling.” Wei Wuxian felt faint. To have one of his most painful moments romanticized is…. downright hilarious. Wei Wuxian started laughing, surprising both Lan Wangji and Jiang Wanyin.

 

“Sorry, sorry. It’s just when I put Lan Zhan out of the way, I just didn’t want him to be the one to get hurt. It’s selfish really, knowing I made him suffer for… three months, you said? But I know that if it were me, I would’ve lost my mind worrying about my dear fiancé.” He patted Lan Wangji’s hands that were still wrapped tightly around his waist. “Lan Zhan? Are you okay?” Lan Wangji pulled him impossibly closer.

 

“Wei Ying is too skinny.” Jiang Wanyin rolled his eyes.

 

“Let’s head back to Qinghe. I’m sure several people would also love to see his ugly mug.” Wei Wuxian let out an indignant sound before talking Jiang Wanyin’s ear off in retaliation.

 

 

 

 

The trip to the Unclean Realm was fairly uneventful. Between Jiang Wanyin’s ranting, the Lan disciples simultaneous shock and extreme joy, and Lan Wangji’s somehow clingier nature, Wei Wuxian forgot the fact that they were still in a war, until it literally slapped him in the face. Wen cultivators ambushed them in the forest. One hit Wei Wuxian in the face with his sword’s sheath. Lan Wangji hit him back with Bichen’s blade. In the throat. Lan and Jiang disciples made quick work of them, so nothing really interesting happened, but Wei Wuxian remembered Cloud Recesses.

 

“Lan Zhan,” His fiancé looked up from where his head was buried in Wei Wuxian’s lap. Wei Wuxian was running his fingers through Lan Wangji’s soft hair. They stopped at a village near the Unclean Realm and took an inn for the night. “How’s Cloud Recesses? Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan? Xichen-ge?” Lan Wangji took one of the arms wrapped around Wei Wuxian’s waist and ran his hand up and down the younger’s back in a soothing motion.

 

“Okay. Father and Uncle are safe in Cloud Recesses. Brother is in the Unclean Realm with Sect Leader Nie. He’s stressed, but he’ll live. He will be happy you are safe.” Wei Wuxian smiled and kissed Lan Wangji’s forehead ribbon.

 

“And you? Are you happy I’m safe?” Lan Wangji buried his head in Wei Wuxian’s much too skinny stomach.

 

“Mh.” Suddenly, Wei Wuxian was looking at the ceiling with Lan Wangji on top of him.

 

“Lan Zhan?” Lan Wangji kissed Wei Wuxian hard. He moved from his lips, to his eyes, to his nose, to his forehead, to his cheeks, neck, hands, lips again, and finally, a long kiss to his pulse point. He laid down on his fiancé, as if trying to pin him down underneath him so that no one could hurt him again. Wei Wuxian wrapped his arms around his love, pulling him closer. 

 

“So happy Wei Ying is alive. Want to be with Wei Ying. Forever. Fancy Wei Ying. Want to night hunt with Wei Ying. Start a family with Wei Ying. Live with Wei Ying. Sleep with Wei Ying. Wake up to Wei Ying. Cook for Wei Ying. Cannot live with out Wei Ying. Only Wei Ying. No one but Wei Ying. cannot leave Wei Ying.” Wei Wuxian felt tears welling up in his eyes as he buried his face in his fiancé’s hair.

 

“I’m so happy Lan Zhan is safe and alive. The only thing I could think about in the Burial Mounds was how to get back to you. I want to be with Lan Zhan forever. I fancy Lan Zhan.” A kiss to his forehead ribbon. “I want to night hunt with Lan Zhan.” A kiss to his left eye. “I want to start a family with Lan Zhan.” A kiss to his right eye. “I want to live with Lan Zhan.” One on his nose. “I want to sleep with Lan Zhan.” Another planted on his right cheek. “I want to wake up to Lan Zhan.” Once on his left cheek. “I want to eat Lan Zhan’s cook.” He pulled his fiancé’s arm from underneath Wei Wuxian to kiss his hand. “I cannot live without you, Lan Zhan.” A kiss to the pulse on his wrist. “I only want, need Lan Zhan. There is no one but Lan Zhan. I cannot leave Lan Zhan.” Finally, a kiss on his fiancé lips. The two fell asleep intertwined in each other’s arms.

 

They were a few short hours away from the Unclean Realm. By midday, the group had returned. Nie Mingjue was the one who greeted them. The Sect Leader opened his mouth to presumedly ask for a report when he caught sight of Wei Wuxian. The tall man then closed his mouth, looked Wei Wuxian up and down, then turned and walked away. Lan Wangji, who was holding Wei Wuxian around the waist, made them follow the intimidating version of Nie Huaisang. Jiang Wanyin took the troops to another part of the sect, presumedly to get them any needed medical attention and rest. Nie Mingjue lead them across the Unclean Realm, went into the Discussion Hall, left the door open, and took a seat in his throne, but not before downing an entire jar of wine. Lan Xichen, who was already in the Discussion Hall, looked at his friend in worry. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji walked in seconds later, prompting the Lan to look at them instead. Lan Xichen dropped his cup of tea, shattering in.

 

“Wu… xian? A-Xian? XianXian?” With each name, the elder Lan took a step closer until he was cradling Wei Wuxian’s face. “Is that you? Truly? Are you back, XianXian?” Wei Wuxian blushed at the nickname but nodded anyway.

 

“XianXian is home, Xichen-ge.” He gave Lan Xichen a bright smile before the Lan sect heir burst into tears and pulled Wei Wuxian into his arms. He turned to Lan Wangji for help but Lan Wangji gave him the ‘You did this to yourself’ look. Wei Wuxian has never been more betrayed. Lan Xichen held him closer and sobbed into Wei Wuxian’s thankfully black clothing. It took almost half an hour for the Lan to calm down and then he spent the next fifteen minutes fussing over Wei Wuxian.

 

“Why are you so skinny?”

“Unacceptable. Where are these clothes from?”

 

“Did you just say you stole them off a corpse? Unacceptable. Mingjue, we need Qinghe’s finest robe maker.”

 

“I don’t care that we’re in a war. Did I ask? My younger brother is walking around in a corpse’s clothes and who knows what diseases that poor soul had!”

 

“When was the last time you actually ate? I don’t know how you survived, but you need food. You’re skinnier than Huaisang and that is preposterous.”

 

“Why are you so cold? You’re like ice. Mingjue! Lend me your overcoat. Don’t give me that look Wangji, your’s is much too thin and our XianXian feels like a corpse himself! No, Wangji don’t start crying on me—

“I don’t care if you don’t have a golden core. You’re my baby brother and you need food, water, clothing, a bath, and several cuddles in that order.”

 

“What do you mean you’re too old for cuddles? What do you call what you and Wangji do every time you’re together then? Prolonged hugs?”

“If you act like a three year old, I will treat you like one. Now give ChenChen-gege a hug. Come on, my cute little XianXian.”

Lan Wangji, the bastard, just looked on in amusement while Wei Wuxian suffered. Just when he thought it was over, another voice called out in the distance.

 

“WEI WUXIAN YOU FUCKING BASTARD!” Wei Wuxian groaned when Nie Huaisang bodily launched himself at him. The smaller boy started crying and hitting Wei Wuxian while Wei Wuxian tried to comfort his friend. Lan Wangji let out a short laugh and it made all his suffering worth it. 

 

 

Wei Wuxian felt warm for the first time in months.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian spent the next hour explaining what happened after he was taken. He explained his fall, how he woke up in the coldest, darkest place he could ever know, how he heard the voices, how he saw unimaginably large mountains of corpses. He shivered remembering the last three months in the Burial Mounds.

 

“Yeah, but how did you survive?” Jiang “Ever the skeptic” Wanyin asked. Lan Wangji, who’s lap Wei Wuxian was using as a chair, started to run his hand down Wei Wuxian’s hair. The latter had kept the black robes, courtesy of Nie Huaisang, but was now freshly bathed and fed. 

 

“I had help…” He looked at Lan Xichen, who was sitting next to him. “I didn’t know Madam Lan was a fan of resentful energy.” Lan Xichen looked shocked, but shook his head.

 

“Mother was intrigued by it. She did a lot of research for it. We have her notes locked away.” Wei Wuxian hummed thoughtfully.

 

“She turned into a resentful spirit you know? A rogue cultivator who never had a soul cleansing ceremony to prevent that. Madam Lan helped me out of the Burial Mounds. She helped me learn. She…. she made sure that the resentful energy didn’t actually touch my mind. She did this sort of spell. It turned the resentful energy into something like a golden core but it doesn’t actually affect me? I use it like I use spiritual energy except it’s just music cultivation instead and it is much harder to control. She kept making me play Cleansing to clear my mind and it got rid of some of the resentful energy at the Burial Mounds.” Lan Wangji stopped petting Wei Wuxian and tightened the arm around his waist.

 

“Wei Ying. Mother?” Wei Wuxian nodded.

 

“Madam Lan said she missed you and ‘A-Huan’ dearly. She said she’s proud of you two.” Wei Wuxian gave his fiancé and his brother-in-law a smile. “She said she’s sorry she can’t be at our wedding in person, but she’ll be there in spirit. Literally.” Lan Xichen wasn’t crying, but he did look close to it. Lan Wangji hid his face in Wei Wuxian’s shoulder and Wei Wuxian started stroking his love’s hair after pressing a kiss to it. “She said she loves you two. I….. I didn’t know this until after she had done in, but in exchange to keep me safe. she bound herself to the mountain. She’s the one in control of the Burial Mounds now. When we have time, I want to purify it and set her free.” There was a wet patch on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder so he started nuzzling his fiancé. He grabbed Lan Xichen’s hand and gave him a smile. Lan Xichen shook his head and gripped Wei Wuxian’s hand tighter.

 

“We will. We will set her free before you and Wangji get married.” Wei Wuxian felt his breath hitch at the word.

 

“You’d still let me?” He sounded way to shy for his own liking but he needed to know.

 

“Why wouldn’t we?” Lan Xichen sounded confused and Lan Wangji moved his head to look at Wei Wuxian.

 

“Because I’m a demonic cultivator. It’s bad. It’s heretic. It’s evil. Unjust. Unrighteous. I’m evil. A disgrace. Disgusting. A disappointment—” Lan Xichen, for the first time in his life, struck Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian would’ve fallen over from the force of his slap if Lan Wangji hadn’t tightened his hold on his fiancé.

 

“If you ever say those words about my younger brother again, I will lock you in a room and cuddle you until you know your self worth.” Lan Xichen pulled Lan Wangji for a hug, which effectively squished Wei Wuxian between them, then hugged Wei Wuxian. “You are none of those things. You had to survived. You’re our Golden Flower. Someone who is good. Someone who the entire clan is proud of. Someone the younger ones look up to. Someone we all love. Someone we’re so happy is back. Someone we will cherish and celebrate until the end of time itself. You are good, A-Xian.” Wei Wuxian let himself sob into his older brother. It was a touching moment for the Lans, until Nie Huaisang ruined it.

 

“Um…. but is it okay for Wei-xiong to keep using resentful energy? He might be able to control it, but the cultivation world…..” Nie Huaisang did not need to finish that thought. Everyone in the room knew that the cultivation world would not open Wei Wuxian with open arms. They would shun him, degrade him, call him a heretic. Lan Xichen’s expression turned dark. He pulled out of the hug.

 

“The Lan clan will protect him. I called Father and Uncle here to discuss Wuxian’s protection.” Wei Wuxian jolted.

 

“Xichen-ge, we can’t bother them—”

 

“They’ll be glad to know you’re alive and here, A-Xian. I already called them.” Still not used to Lan Xichen’s affection, Wei Wuxian blushed a cute shade of red, causing Lan Wangji to chuckle. “Mingjue?” Sect Leader Nie scoffed.

 

“It would be hypocritical for us to condemn him when our sabers probably use more resentful energy than Wei Wuxian does.” Lan Xichen cringed and shot Sect Leader Nie a look. Sect Leader Nie gave him a blank expression before sighing. “Yes, we will stand by the Lans. When do we not stand together, Xichen?” Wei Wuxian could have sworn that Lan Xichen mumbled ‘marriage’ under his breathe but one squeeze from Lan Wangji kept him from commenting. Lan Xichen gave Sect Leader Nie a warm smile and— Oh my God Wei Wuxian could practically see the pining. Was this how him and Lan Wangji acted? Are the two courting or are they dancing around each other like lovesick fools? God, he’s glad that him and Lan Wangji could never act like that (In the distance, Canon WangXian sneeze). 

 

“Xichen-ge, do you know when Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan are arriving?”

 

“A-Xian, I thought I told you to call us Father-in-law and Uncle.” Wei Wuxian whipped his head around so fast he got whiplash. Lan Wangji raised a hand to steady him. Everyone in the room stood to greet the two Lans at the entrance of the Discussion Hall. 

 

“I— Father-in-law, Uncle. You arrived quickly.” Lan Qiren scowled.

 

“We left as soon as we got Xichen’s message.” Lan Qiren stalked to where Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian stood before grabbing Wei Wuxian by the shoulders and looking him up and down. “You’ve lost weight.” He grabbed Wei Wuxian’s chin and moved his face around, back and forth, up and down. “You’re too pale to be healthy.” He looked at Wei Wuxian’s clothes. “Not as bad as they could be.”

 

“He was wearing a corpse’s robes when he arrived.” Lan Xichen intercepted. Lan Qiren’s eyes narrowed.

 

“I see.” He moved to check Wei Wuxian’s meridians before Wei Wuxian pulled away and kneeled. He caught a glance of Lan Qiren’s eye twitch and Qingheng-jun’s shock.

 

“Teacher Lan, Sect Leader Lan.” Qingheng-jun looked like he was about to speak but Wei Wuxian continued. “In order to escape the Burial Mounds,” a flinch, “I had to turn to resentful energy.” Wei Wuxian kowtowed. “I will accept any punishment meant for the using the dark path.” Several gasps were heard around the room and Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji move to his side. Wei Wuxian did not get up from where he knelt on the floor.

 

“Wei Wuxian. Stand.” Surprisingly, it was Lan Qiren who spoke. Wei Wuxian, for the first time in his life, obeyed without difficulty. “Sect Leader Lan and I will not punish you for doing what you had to to survive. We will stand beside you against any opposition, both as our Second Head Disciple and our future in-law.” Wei Wuxian’s head shot up in shock. Qingheng-jun was smiling proudly at his brother. Lan Qiren merely looked embarrassed, his ears a little red. He could’ve sword Lan Xichen was cooing but that’s neither here nor there.

 

“Qiren is right, A-Xian. After the war, we will find a way for you to cultivate again. But for now, since we lack time, I’m afraid you’re stuck with resentful energy.” Qingheng-jun looked slightly apologetic, but Wei Wuxian shook his head and smiled at his Sect Leader.

 

“I’m grateful that the Lan clan still accepts me despite my cultivation methods.” Lan Qiren sighed and pulled the boy he helped raise into his arms. Wei Wuxian stood shocked for a moment before hugging his teacher, his uncle, back. He buried his head in Lan Qiren’s shoulder like he was a child all over again.

 

“Welcome back, A-Ying.” Wei Wuxian felt tears well in his eyes before letting out a short sob and pulling his teacher closer. He felt others shuffle closer and before he knew it, he was pulled into a Lan group hug. Wei Wuxian finally got his family back. He was home.

 

 

 

 

“Father-in-law.” Wei Wuxian called after they broke apart.

 

“Yes, A-Xian?” A smile was playing on the Sect Leader’s face. Wei Wuxian returned that smile.

 

“Madam Lan says she loves you and that you raised your sons well.” Various emotions crossed the Sect Leader’s face. Among them, confusion, sadness, more confusion, then happiness.

 

“She would cry if she heard you call her that. She always told you to call her mother-in-law.” Qingheng-jun let out a watery laugh. Lan Qiren still had a shocked expression on his face.

 

“Madam Lan?” Lan Qiren asked Wei Wuxian. He nodded.

 

“She turned into a restful ghost since she never did a soul cleansing ceremony. She…. She bound herself to the Burial Mounds to make sure it avoiding hurting me. She kept me safe and sane. I talked to her a lot there…. she told me to tell you that you still look better without your beard and I agree with her. She also said that if Master Lan would just listen to her and shave his beard, Lan Zhan, Xichen-ge, and I would have an aunt or uncle and maybe some cousins. I want the cousins.” Wei Wuxian put on his annoyed child look while Lan Qiren stared at him, jaw dropped. After a couple minutes, he found himself.

 

“Of course she did. Wuxian, where is she?” Wei Wuxian stiffed.

 

“The Burial Mounds. She…. she locked herself there to set me free.” He gave them the short version, shooting Lan Xichen an look that said he needed to be the one to explain to them what happened to Madam Lan. Wei Wuxian could not repeat that conversation. It hurt too much. Lan Xichen nodded in acknowledgement and then looked Wei Wuxian up and down and sighed.

 

“I told you to say something when you got tired.” Wei Wuxian stiffened.

 

“I’m fine.” Nie Huaisang hit him over the head with his fan.

 

“Nie Zonghui!” Sect Leader Nie’s second-in-command walked in.

 

“Yes, Young Master?” Nie Huaisang pointed at Wei Wuxian.

 

“Please escort Lan-xiong and Wei-xiong into their room. The rest of us will finish up. Those two need the rest they haven’t had in months.” Wei Wuxian was about to protest when Lan Wangji squeezed his hand. Wei Wuxian shook his head only to be slapped in the back of said head by Lan Qiren. 

 

“Go. We’re glad to have seen you.” On a rare obedient streak, Wei Wuxian nodded and went to leave, but not before pulling Lan Qiren and Qingheng-jun into a hug.

 

“Thank you for still accepting me as part of the family.” Qingheng-jun sighed.

 

“A-Xian, you will never not be part of this family,” He lowered his voice, “my son.” Wei Wuxian felt tears welling in his eyes before he pulled away and nodded to his father-in-law.

 

“Thank you.”

 

 

That night, in Lan Wangji’s arms, Wei Wuxian had the best sleep of his life.

Chapter Text

With the Jiang Clan fully recovered from the failed attack on Lotus Pier and Cloud Recesses almost completely rebuild, the Sunshot campaign went well. Wei Wuxian would use demonic cultivation when needed, which is to say when they were overwhelmed. Meng Yao, Nie Mingjue’s old deputy and Nie Huaisang’s friend, turned out to be a spy who was relaying information to Nie Huaisang who was giving them to Lan Xichen to give to Nie Mingjue. No one besides Wei Wuxian, who was with Nie Huaisang for most of the war when he wasn’t using demonic cultivation to kill when soldiers, knew that Nie Huaisang was remotely involved in the war. No one besides Wei Wuxian also knew about Nie Huaisang’s scarily good network of spies that are in literally every clan. When Wei Wuxian asked if he had a spy in Cloud Recesses, Nie Huaisang scoffed.

 

“With friends like you and Xichen-ge? I don’t need one.” Fair enough, Nie Huaisang. Fair enough. 

 

Wei Wuxian actually found most of his resentful energy usage being turned to healing curses left by the Wen clan. Since their curses were mostly based in using resentful energy to block meridians and send cultivators into qi deviations, Wei Wuxian spent most of his time fluting that energy out of them through various song choices depending on the person he was treating (he once had to treat someone from the Jin clan whose arrogance was higher than his IQ and Wei Wuxian played the slowest, most ear piercing melody ever. The best part was that no one believed the Jin “cultivator” when he told them Wei Wuxian was bad at playing the flute and even went as far as to say that the Jin disciple just didn’t know music). When Lan Wangji was called away to fight at the front lines (until the end of the war, Lan Wangji would alternate between staying to defend Qinghe or taking overnight trips, in which Wei Wuxian would accompany him, to nearby desolated towns to fight Wens off there. He took out most of their forces with the help of Wei Wuxian’s resentful energy pretty easily), Wei Wuxian obviously went with him. He met up with one of Nie Huaisang’s spies, disguised as a Wen servant, gave the information to Lan Wangji, who because he is the best fiancé ever didn’t even ask questions, and managed to storm the Sun Palace (stupid name, hot sect leader. -the author), and got to watch as Meng Yao slit Sect Leader Wen’s throat right before said Sect Leader stabbed Sect Leader Nie. 

 

The Jin Clan, who were utterly useless during the war with the exception of their Sect heir and his “personal guards,” offered to sweep in and deal with the remaining Wens. Wei Wuxian took one look at Sect Leader Jin’s greasy smile and even greasier hair and decided that he was going nowhere near the Wens. He called Wen Qing and Wen Ning, who he got to briefly reunite with when he came back to Cloud Recesses, and the two managed to help him sort through the Wens who ever safe and those who were not. The ones who were safe were split between GusuLan and YunmengJiang where they were put in rehabilitation programs to help them get used to life in their respective sects and assigned talismans that monitored them for any suspicious actions (this talisman was created by Wei Wuxian and not up for public adoption. It was folded into a form of jewelry that was permanently sealed and would self-imploded if it was forced open. Nothing major, just a precaution against certain power-hungry individuals). This group consisted of the elderly, the weak and ill, men and women without golden cores, children below a certain age, the pregnant, and regular villagers who were part of areas oppressed by Wen Ruohan. The ones who were considered not safe were sent to QingheNie where they were to work in the rebuilding processes of affected villages with Sect Leader Nie or his head disciple overseeing them. That group consisted mostly of cultivators and upperclass scholars. Doctors and medics were sent to GusuLan to be supervised by Lan Xichen and Wen Qing. While all this was happening, Sect Leader Jin was kind enough to throw a feast to celebrate their victory. This would be the busiest feast Wei Wuxian had ever attended.

 

 

 

Wei Wuxian usually loved feasts. Since Cloud Recesses forbid talking while eating, feasts were a perfect excuse for Wei Wuxian to socialize while enjoying some good food. He didn’t touch alcohol during formal feasts, at least not in front of Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan, but he still managed to enjoy himself. Which is why when the Jin Sect announced they were holding a feast to celebrate the success of the Sunshot campaign, Wei Wuxian was actually pretty excited. He dressed in robes that were more blue than white for propriety’s sake. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian’s robes were near identical, the only difference being Lan Wangji’s shawl was light blue while Wei Wuxian’s was a slightly darker shade. Wei Wuxian was carrying Nie Huaisang gifted him during the Sunshot campaign. The fan was engraved with protective talisman and had a cloud like pattern perfect for Wei Wuxian. The Lans had agreed to not let Wei Wuxian hold a sword while he was still without a golden core. Wen Qing had been assigned to help research ways for him to reform one. When they arrived, Nie Mingjue was making a fuss about having to sit in Wen Ruohan’s seat, but that’s not who he was focused on. Instead, he was looking at Nie Huaisang, who was looking at Jin Guangyao, Sect Leader Jin’s freshly acknowledged child, like he held the stars in the sky, like he was an ethereal being, like how Lan Wangji looked at Wei Wuxian when he came back from the Burial Mounds. Oh.  Wei Wuxian felt protectiveness well in him. Jin Guangyao better not hurt Nie Huaisang, because resentful energy or not Wei Wuxian would come for his soul. Shaking off the thoughts, he barely heard Sect Leader Jin say that there would be a shift in the seating arrangement. This sat the Nies next to the Lans, an arrangement nobody was complaining about. Wei Wuxian’s only complaint would actually be the Jin sect sitting in the front. Their ugly mugs were ruining his view.

 

When the main feast was over, the other clan leaders and disciples started to talk. Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji, Nie Huaisang, and Jiang Wanyin were having a fun conversation when former Sect Leader Jiang came. Wei Wuxian saw Jiang Wanyin tense and went to stand next to the young Sect Leader, placing a supporting hand on his upper arm. Jiang Wanyin looked surprised but didn’t shake the hand off.

 

“Father.” Jiang Wanyin bowed. Everyone else followed in suit, but the former Sect Leader did not look at them. Instead, he was looking at Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian felt more than saw Lan Wangji tense, the same way he heard Lan Xichen excuse himself from the conversation with Jin Guangyao and Nie Mingjue to walk over to where the group stood. 

 

“Former Sect Leader Jiang.” Wei Wuxian moved to bow once more when the former Sect Leader grabbed Wei Wuxian’s arms, stopping him.

 

“Wei Ying.” The elder Jiang spoke, voice reverent. Wei Wuxian tensed. Lan Wangji tensed. Nie Huaisang tensed. Hell, Jiang Wanyin tensed. The former Sect Leader did not notice the literal tension. “You’re alive.” Wei Wuxian gave him a tight smile.

 

“Yes, former Sect Leader—”

 

“Call me Uncle.” Wei Wuxian knew it was petty. He knew pettiness was against the rules of Cloud Recesses but half the rules were petty so Wei Wuxian didn’t think there was anything wrong with a little pettiness. He couldn’t help it. The day Jiang Wanyin confessed his insecurities because of his father was a day the forgetful Wei Wuxian could not forget. How could he? He was blatantly accused of ruining a marriage for two people he never met. So Wei Wuxian was feeling a little petty.

 

“Forgive this one Former Sect Leader, but the only Uncle I have is Lan Qiren and you certainly do not look like him.” Wei Wuxian gave his best “I’m an innocent flower” look before turning to Lan Wangji and grabbing his hand, effectively calming his love down. Lan Xichen also arrived at the scene.

 

“Former Sect Leader.” He greeted. “I need to borrow my brothers for a minute. If you excuse us.” He didn’t wait for a response, nor did Wei Wuxian look at the former Sect Leader’s face. He merely squeezed Jiang Wanyin’s arm once in support and shared a look with Nie Huaisang before letting himself be lead away. They were almost to where Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan were before they were stopped by a disciple that Wei Wuxian did not recognize. He was a Jin judging from his uniform. 

 

“Jin Zixun. Can we help you?” Lan Xichen greeted pleasantly. Only, it was too tense to be actually pleasant and Lan Xichen looked one second away from tearing this man a new one. The foolish boy did not notice as he held a cup on wine to Lan Xichen.

 

“Young Master Lan, the Lans and Jins have always been close. Why don’t you drink to celebrate our friendship?” In the distance, Jin Guangyao and Sect Leader Nie both froze before starting to walk over to where the four were gathered in the middle of the room. Nie Huaisang and Jiang Wanyin were also starting to walk towards them. 

 

“Drinking is against the rules—” Lan Wangji started only to be cut off.

 

“At Cloud Recesses. Yeah yeah I know all about your boring rules.” The asshole mocked. Wei Wuxian wanted to punch him. He knew full well that neither of the Lan brothers could handle alcohol well, having gotten them drunk once when he was younger. “But it would be the utmost disrespect against me to not take this cup right? RIGHT?” He voiced the second time much louder. The room bursted with voices that agreed with the stupid Jin. Wei Wuxian clenched his jaw and took the cup from the pompous man, downing the cup in one gulp.

 

“There. I drank for him. Satisfied?” Wei Wuxian growled, temper starting to raise. The disgusting excuse for a human was, in fact, not satisfied.

“NO! You’re not even a real Lan sect member!”

“I’m engaged to Lan Zhan, the second young master of the Lan Clan.”

“But you’re a man. That marriage is an abomination. Unless you’re secretly a girl, then there’s no use for you! Even then, you would only be used to pop out children.” Oh you could taste the tension in the air. Members of the Lan and Nie sect both looked like they were about to cut Jin Zixun’s tongue out. Lucky for him, Sect Leader Jin interfered.

 

“Actually, there is something I would like to discuss with you all.” All eyes turned to the front of the room where Sect Leader Jin sat on the high throne that he did not deserve. “The Lan Clan has always been known for being righteous, but it seems that recently, they have acquired something against those standards.” If the Sect Leader was a smart man, he would’ve stopped talking when he saw the look in every Lan Clan’s members’ eyes when he spoke those words. Unfortunately, he was not a smart man. “Something needs to be done about their demonic cultivator.” All eyes turned to Wei Wuxian, who was being pushed behind Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji. Nie Huaisang stood behind him while Nie Mingjue stood next to his younger brother. Jiang Wanyin had Zidian out and was standing to the side.

 

“And what do you suggest should be done, Sect Leader Jin?” Lan Qiren’s voice was colder, harder than usual.

 

“Why don’t we hand him over to a Sect capable of dealing with him?” Sect Leader Jin’s smirk was disgusting.

 

“And who is more capable to protect him than the Lan Clan? Who specialize in cleaning such energy.” Nie Mingjue spoke up. Not a single soul could ignore the change in wording. Sect Leader Jin narrowed his eyes at the opposition. 

 

“Yes but who’s to say he is not a danger to himself? What if the resentful energy is too much to be contained and he ends up killing himself and the others around him? I suggest we—” Wei Wuxian was done being talked about as if he wasn’t there.

 

“No offense Sect Leader Jin.” Wei Wuxian interrupted. The Sect Leader looked enraged at the interruption but hid it with a smile. Good. “But if I wanted to kill myself, I would simply climb to Jin Zixun’s ego and jump to his intelligence. I would be dead before I hit the bottom.” He looked Jin Zixun dead in the eyes. “If there even is one.” Jin Zixun looked absolutely livid. Wei Wuxian felt an overwhelming sense of joy seeing his expression. Wei Wuxian was a petty bitch when it came to insulting his family. The whole wine stunt was too fresh on his mind to ignore an opportunity like this and it was worth it. Lan Xichen bit back a laugh while Lan Wangji was fighting a smile. Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang didn’t even try to hide their amusement as Nie Huaisang was holding on to his brother for support since he was laughing so hard he couldn’t stand. Jiang Wanyin shot him an approving nod and a wide smirk.

 

“YOU— HOW DARE—” Wei Wuxian used the Lan silencing spell on him. He got Lan Wangji to teach him that spell a long time ago but hasn’t actually used it until today.

 

“No, how dare you attempt to force a Sect heir, someone whose stance and position are higher than your’s, to go against his morals in front of a group of esteemed guests to stroke your own ego? I don’t even know who you are.” Wei Wuxian hissed out. He could swear both Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan looked proud of him.

 

“Since we obviously aren’t resolving that issue today.” Typical of a coward to change the topic when it was clear he is losing. “Why don’t we discuss who the next Chief Cultivator will be?” Sect Leader Jin finished, obviously expecting the role to fall into his lap. Wei Wuxian would let that happen over his dead body. He nudged Lan Xichen who nodded with approval.

 

“I vote for Sect Leader Nie.” Wei Wuxian spoke up. Said Sect Leader was about to speak up when Nie Huaisang stepped on his foot, silencing him. Sect Leader Lan nodded when the others turned to him to see if he agreed with the vote. “Sect Leader Nie fought the hardest to bring Wen Ruohan down and even took in the most dangerous of their war prisoners and is handling them well. He is just and fair. He would make a great Chief Cultivator.” The others started to murmur in agreement. That night, Sect Leader Nie was named Chief Cultivator. Sect Leader Jin was enraged. He couldn’t fight back because by the end of the night, he had lost so much face that even his mother couldn’t recognize him (not that she would want to. With a son like that, Wei Wuxian was sure she would much rather carve her own eyes out than face what her child has become). He lost two battles that night, and Wei Wuxian would make sure he lost many more, so long as his plans were unsavory.

Chapter Text

Jin Guangyao does not miss being Meng Yao. Meng Yao was forgettable, a nobody who had no living parents, no way of bettering himself without working to death on trivial matters like fetching water, and had no command or control. Jin Guangyao was his father’s trusted aid, had an actual father (shitty as he may be), worked himself to death on more important matters, and had a claim to the throne of a sect, distant as it may be. The one thing Jin Guangyao did miss, however, was surprisingly not Nie Mingjue’s trust or Lan Xichen’s company (the same Lan Xichen who now looks at him with the same suspicion as Nie Mingjue). It wasn’t the short breaks he got in Qinghe when he managed to finish his work early. It wasn’t the town or the people or the disciples who started treating him better. It wasn’t the landscape or the greenery. It was Nie Huaisang. Everything about Nie Huaisang. He missed seeing him every day, missed the way his laugh would sound all throughout the Unclean Realm, missed how his presence would brighten up every room, missed how his eyes shone with the sun and reflected the moonlight, missed how perfectly Nie Huaisang fit in his arms, how Nie Huaisang always knew when Meng Yao was having a bad day, how Nie Huaisang showed Meng Yao a love that no one else ever had, even before the two were a couple. If being Meng Yao meant having Nie Huaisang’s love, Jin Guangyao wasn’t sure he could handle his new name. He has yet to meet with Nie Huaisang in person because of his father and Nie Mingjue’s interference. It was unintentional on his father’s part but Nie Mingjue knew exactly what he was doing. Which is why Jin Guangyao was really excited for the celebratory feast. If only his dumbass beloved father didn’t ruin how smoothly the feast was going. With both the attempt to control Wei Wuxian and take the position of Chief Cultivator both splendidly cut down, Jin Guangyao spent most of the night listening to his father go on and on about Wei Wuxian, his disrespect, and Nie Mingjue’s audacity. By the next morning, Jin Guangyao was sporting a headache stronger than Wen Ruohan’s and Nie Mingjue’s fists combined. He suggested the Phoenix Mountain night hunt to save the sect a little face and ended up spending another month away from Nie Huaisang. Jin Guangyao didn’t know longing could hurt so much.

 

 

By the time the night hunt came around, Jin Guangyao had basically said “Screw it” to propriety and went searching for Nie Huaisang under the pretense of “Building their relationship with the elected Chief Cultivator.” His father scowled at the title but permitted because he wanted to kiss ass build more relationships and gather allies. When Jin Guangyao walked up to Nie Huaisang (whose brother had been stolen by Lan Xichen), the younger’s smile was so blinding Jin Guangyao almost looked away. He didn’t. He couldn’t. He missed that smile far too much to look away from it. He offered the Sect heir his arm and led them away to the most secluded area of this region (a perk of being the one to organize the hunt). Because Jin Guangyao desperately wanted to spend time with Nie Huaisang, he brought in as much prey as possible to ensure that he wasn’t called away for some stupid reason by some stupid cultivator of not having enough game (*cough*JinZixun*cough*). When they reached the little cove Jin Guangyao found, Nie Huaisang was the first to act, jumping into Jin Guangyao’s arms and holding onto him like he would disappear if he let go. To be fair, Jin Guangyao did the same.

 

“A-Yao is cruel.” Jin Guangyao pulled his head from Nie Huaisang’s hair to look at his little love with a questioning gaze. “He made me wait so long to be in his arms again.” Jin Guangyao felt genuine heartbreak at the thought of his love being lonely. He kissed Nie Huaisang and moved a hand to cradle his cheek.

 

“Were you lonely, my beautiful bird?” Nie Huaisang blushed prettily at the nickname. Jin Guangyao kissed the blush on his cheek, causing said blush to intensify. Nie Huaisang placed a hand on the one resting on his cheek.

 

“Of course. My A-Yao, Meng Yao, Jin Guangyao had been away for so long. Did you think I would run into someone else’s arms while you were away? Of course not. I waited on your every word to make sure you were alive. Now I will wait until you see yourself with the same worthiness that I have always viewed you with.” Nie Huaisang’s smile was a bit blurry. A soft hand brushed the moisture from his face. Jin Guangyao doesn’t know how long he has been crying. Maybe since Nie Huaisang had acknowledged his new name or told him he thought Jin Guangyao, that Meng Yao, was worthy. He pulled his beloved much closer, hoping to never have to separate from him again, while also knowing that that want could never come to fruition, but how he wanted. The two kissed once more and spent the whole night hunt cuddling in their little cove, away from the prying eyes of the cultivation world.

 

 

 

 

When the night hunt ended, everyone gathered back in Carp Tower for another feast. Jin Guangyao had to physically pry himself from Nie Huaisang when it was time to go back. The two were hesitant to separate, but when they saw Nie Mingjue and Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue, Nie Huaisang shot Jin Guangyao a small smile behind his fan and walked up to his brother. Jin Guangyao went to his father’s side, gave a speech on the night hunt, and called for the food. The Lans had gotten the most game, with Lan Xichen, Lan Wangji, and Wei Wuxian working together to get prey. From what he heard, Wei Wuxian used some sort of test cultivation during the night hunt. The specifics were unknown to many but he did draw Suibian during the night hunt so no one could comment on the demonic cultivation. Hearing Sect Leader Yao drone on and on about how unfair it was that the Lan clan had three extremely powerful cultivators and how the minor sects get almost no recognition and—

 

Jin Guangyao stopped listening when he saw movement from where Nie Huaisang sat. Nie Huaisang seemed to be trying to get his attention without being obvious. When Jin Guangyao finally looked at him, Nie Huaisang let out a sly smirk and put his wine cup to his lips. He watched as those tantalizing lips curled around the rim of the cup, gently drinking its contents. He watched a singular drop spill over the edge of Nie Huaisang’s lips and travel down his chin, down his sadly unmarked neck, down, down, down

 

The room suddenly felt a lot hotter.

 

 

 

Once the feast was over, Jin Guangyao excused himself to seek out Nie Huaisang. His father still thinks that he is trying to gain allies and allows for him to leave with little fuss. Nie Huaisang’s quarters are next to his brothers but are closer to the beginnings of the hallway where Jin Guangyao could very easily sneak in. Nie Huaisang was waiting for him when he entered, slapping a silencing talisman on the door behind him. Jin Guangyao took note of Nie Huaisang’s inner robes and stripped down to his own. He took a seat at the low table in the room while Nie Huaisang sat on his lap. Burying his head in Nie Huaisang’s pale neck, Jin Guangyao nuzzled it a little bit before softly biting it, not hard enough to leave a mark, and taking in Nie Huaisang’s flowery smell. He pulled the younger closer and just sat there, letting his light’s presence calm the restlessness in him. Nie Huaisang was painting a portrait of what seemed to be the two of them in their cove. The were sitting side by side, fingers intertwined, and smiling at each other. Jin Guangyao marveled at how beautifully his love could paint and admired how his delicate hands were so precise in their work. The two sat there for a long time while Nie Huaisang painted and even a little while afterwards. They would talk more about how they’ve been, make jokes, and make out a little. Eventually, they moved to the bed, where they spent the rest of the night in each other’s arms.

 

 

 

The second day of the feast saw Jin Guangyao with a significantly less painful headache, courtesy of Nie Huaisang’s loving embrace and the little kisses he placed on his head. After reluctantly and unwillingly parting from Nie Huaisang, he found his father and Sect Leader Yao talking. He knew full well that nothing good could come from two power-hungry people sharing one brain cell plotting together, so he turned the other way and set about making sure preparations were perfect. That was when he stumbled upon his older brother tending the lotus pond he built for Madian Jiang.

 

“Young Master Jin?” He called out to his half brother. The sect heir seemed surprised but narrowed his eyes at the sight of Jin Guangyao.

 

“A-Yao, I thought I told you to call me Zixuan-ge.” Jin Guangyao laughed and walked towards his supposed older brother.

 

“Then Zixuan-ge, why don’t you call a servant to do that for you?” Jin Zixuan gave Jin Guangyao the lovestruck smile that seems to have overtaken many people’s faces recently.

 

“A-Yao, have you ever been in love?” Jin Guangyao thinks of Nie Huaisang and nods. Jin Zixuan looks surprised. “Wait really? Do I know this person?” When Jin Guangyao offered no answer, Jin Zixuan sighed. “We will talk about this. But you would do anything for your loved one correct?” Jin Guangyao smiled.

 

“Everything within my power.” Jin Zixuan nodded.

 

“Yes. Break propriety, spend all the money you own, work extremely hard for their smile, make a fool of yourself for their laugh, disobey your parents, listen to your parents, anything to make them happy.” He smiled at the lotus pond. “I want to do this for A-Li.” For the first time, Jin Guangyao understood his older brother. “So…. who is your love?” Jin Guangyao did not run from the scene, but it was a near thing.

 

The actual start of the conference was in one word: boring. It seemed that all his father and Sect Leader Yao managed to do was come up with a way to bore everyone to death. Nie Huaisang was cutely sleeping with his eyes hidden behind his long, silky, beautiful hair. Nie Mingjue was staring off into space, occasionally checking on his brother but never waking him. Lan Xichen was staring at Nie Mingjue but nodding along with whatever Sect Leader Yao and Jin Guangshan were saying. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji were making eyes at each other, Wei Wuxian twirling his flute and Lan Wangji smiling at him. Jin Zixuan had his head in his palm and seemed to be daydreaming. 

 

“And that is why Sect Leader Yao and I have decided that Wei Wuxian should teach Demonic Cultivation to other disciples!” Wait a damn minute. Jin Guangyao whipped his head back to his father. He spent approximately ten minutes admiring how pretty Nie Huaisang was and this is what his father came up with? Is he an idiot or does he have a death wish? Several looks of varying horror overtook the face of most people in the room, including Wei Wuxian.

 

“Sect Leader Jin, Sect Leader Yao, you misunderstand me. I did not learn Demonic Cultivation because iI wanted to, I learned it to survive in the Burial Mounds. I doubt anyone is going to willingly throw themselves there again and besides, most of the resentful energy from the mountain was,” Wei Wuxian hesitated a little, “dispelled after I left.” Lan Wangji was resting his hand Bichen, something his father should have taken note of but didn’t. Oh heaves above please.

 

“But who’s to say who won’t use it for evil?” Nie Mingjue, the Chief Cultivator with a really big and sharp blade father please, was the one who spoke up.

 

“Evil? He’s marrying into the Lan Clan. He was raised by the Lan Clan. How ‘evil’ can the boy be? He doesn’t even use Demonic Cultivation anymore. Sect Leader Jin, why are you pushing this? Leave the kid be.” His voice carried a finality that ended the discussion. Jin Guangyao took note of the look on Jin Guangshan’s face and feared the worse.

 

 

 

 

Later that week, after all the guests had left, Jin Guangshan called Jin Guangyao into the Discussion Hall in Carp Tower. He bowed in greeting.

 

“Father.” Jin Guangshan scowled but on his mouth fitted a smile.

 

“How is Nie Huaisang?” Jin Guangyao stopped himself from tensing at the mention of the name, of the wrongness in the way it sounded on Jin Guangshan’s tongue. A flare of protectiveness lit up in Jin Guangyao. He lifted his head.

 

“The Young Master Nie is as carefree as usual.” He held back the biting tone he wanted to use to say that it was none of his business how Nie Huaisang was.

 

“Good. Is he as naive as he seems? As stupid as he seems?” No, he wasn’t. Jin Guangyao put on his best smile.

 

“Yes, of course. The boy is spoiled by his brother.” Jin Guangshan nodded in approval, none the wiser. “Would he be easily manipulated?” Jin Guangyao did not like where this was going. He did not like how his father talked about Nie Huaisang.

 

“Yes.” He would protect Nie Huaisang from his father, damn the consequences. A slimy smirk overtook Jin Guangshan’s face making him look more demonic than the actual Demonic Cultivator.

 

“Jin Guangyao, my son, will you do anything to prove your loyalty to me? To prove your worth?” Jin Guangyao nodded, remembering his mother’s last wish.

 

“Yes."



“Then assassinate Nie Mingjue and marry Nie Huaisang.”

Chapter Text

“Da-ge, if you didn’t want me to spend the night hunt making out with Jin Guangyao, you shouldn’t have ditched me to make out with Lan Xichen!” Nie Huaisang’s voice rang out in the Discussion Hall at the Unclean Realm. Wei Wuxian burst our laughing while Lan Wangji held him up. The group went to Qinghe to spend more time together. It was a hard war and it was nice to be surrounded by their friends. Sect Leader Lan and Master Lan went back to manage Cloud Recesses but would drop by if they had free time.

 

“NIE HUAISANG!” Nie Mingjue’s face was tinted red while Lan Xichen looked like a tomato. He heard Lan Wangji snicker and Nie Huaisang whined louder.

 

“Nie Mingjue!” Nie Mingjue scowled at the blatant disrespect. “What’s wrong with Jin Guangyao?”

 

“He worked with the Wen Ruohan!”

“As a spy!”

“He killed my men!”

“He was convincing! Those men were assholes anyway!”

“Assholes or not, they were still my men!”

“Who stole food from a hungry, desolate, young man!”

 

“They food they ate was yours!”

“I did not consent to their eating! I was hungry! I feel desolate! And I am a young man!” Wei Wuxian could not breathe. He was on the floor laughing so hard he was in tears. Lan Wangji was kneeling next to him, rubbing a hand down his back to try and calm down his fiancé. Wei Wuxian smiled up and Lan Wangji through the tears and laughter and leaned against him. “More importantly, XianXian, what’s this new cultivation technique?” Nie Mingjue made an indignant sound at the topic change. Wei Wuxian decided to spare his friend.

 

“Do you know the theory of yin and yang?” Nie Huaisang nodded. “It’s the same concept. I can’t use regular cultivation anymore since, even though Wen Qing managed to find a way to restore my golden core, the resentful energy already made a place in my body where my core used it be. So my core is now a mix of resentful energy and spiritual energy. They cancel each other out so it doesn’t kill me and it feels like a normal core only I could use spiritual energy mixed with a little resentful energy to prevent a Qi deviation by blocking the flow of my Qi and resentful energy with a little bit of spiritual energy to prevent me from losing myself.” Nie Mingjue furrowed his eyebrows.

 

“How did you get your core back?” Wei Wuxian looked at Lan Xichen. He nodded.

 

“We had to figure out how Wen Zhuliu’s hand actually worked first.” Lan Xichen started. “We had to dig deep into the Zhao clan and their cultivation methods. It turns out that the Zhao clan is actually a group of healers who use their cores to forcibly speed up the recovery of other people. A cruel method, but useful if one is dying quickly. Core melting is kind of the same concept. Instead of using one’s core to heal people, however, he overloads to core with spiritual energy, causing it to shatter and be ‘destroyed.’ Only in that case, the core isn’t really melted or destroyed, it’s just splintered. Wen Qing figured out that we could use to resentful energy in Wei Wuxian’s body to hold his core together while we used our spiritual energy to stitch it back up. It’s an ingenious method that actually worked.” Wei Wuxian nodded and happily drew Suibian.

 

“I’m grateful. I thought I would be stuck with resentful energy forever and never be able to fight with a sword again. I missed it.” Smiles filled the room until and Nie Sect disciple came barging into the room.

 

“What?” Nie Mingjue scowled, only really slightly upset.

 

“Jin Guangyao is here.” The scowled deepened. Wei Wuxian nudged Lan Xichen at Nie Mingjue hoping the Lan could calm him down. Those hopes were squashed when Jin Guangyao entered the room and Nie Huaisang jumped him, placing a not so innocent kiss on his lips. He sent Lan Wangji to help hold back the Nie Sect Leader while he used Wangji to keep Baxia at bay.

 

“JIN GUANGYAO GET AWAY FROM MY BROTHER!” Nie Mingjue bellowed. Nie Huaisang, the cheeky brat, wrapped his arms tighter around Jin Guangyao and visibly shoved his tongue down his throat. Wei Wuxian doubled his efforts to hold back Baxia. After a what felt like hours of the two kissing, Jin Guangyao seemed to remember himself and pull away, though reluctantly. He kept his arm around Nie Huaisang’s waist but now at least they weren’t very obviously trying to devour each other. And the cultivation world said Wei Wuxian was shameless. He looked at Lan Wangji, never one to be outdone.

 

“Wangji, Wuxian I swear to every deity if you start.” Lan Xichen couldn’t finish that thought. He shot them a warning glare. Wei Wuxian just sighed.

 

“A-Yao, what are you doing here? Did you miss me that much?” Nie Huaisang bat his eyelashes innocently at Jin Guangyao. Jin Guangyao chucked and placed a hand on Nie Huaisang’s cheek.

 

“As true as that is, I regret to inform you that I am here on a much more… serious matter.” That caught Nie Mingjue’s attention.

 

“What does your sorry excuse of a father want now?” Jin Guangyao looked hesitant. His face was twisted in a grimace as if the very thought of his father hurt him. Nie Huaisang turned around in Jin Guangyao’s arms to face his brother, about to reprimand him on his choice of words but his lover(?), partner(?) had spoken first.

 

“He offered me Nie Huaisang’s hand in marriage.” Nie Mingjue turned red and Wei Wuxian had to physically hold back Baxia.

 

“I NEVER—”

 

“I know. He told me to marry Huaisang….. after I…. killed Sect Leader Nie.” The room got deadly quiet.

 

What?” Lan Xichen hissed out. This time, Lan Wangji was trying to hold back Nie Mingjue and Lan Xichen. The only reason he wasn’t overwhelmed was because Lan Xichen would never let anyone hurt his brother. “Say that again. I dare you.” Jin Guangyao held his hands up in surrender.

 

“I’m not going to.” Jin Guangyao said, face confident. If it wasn’t for the hands that were holding Nie Huaisang in a death grip, one would think he was completely calm.

 

“Why wouldn’t you? I insulted you. I don’t like you. I have forbidden you from marrying my brother—”

 

“Your brother is the only reason I’m not going to kill you.” Jin Guangyao looked at Nie Huaisang, who hasn’t moved from his place in the Jin’s arms but has turned around to face Jin Guangyao during the conversation. He placed a small kiss on the younger’s forehead, then straightened back up to look at Nie Mingjue. “Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less what happened to you, but killing you would destroy Nie Huaisang. You’re his brother and his only living blood relative. He would suspect foul play. He would investigate your death. A-Sang is smart enough to eventually find out that I had a hand in the assassination and he would want revenge, a life for a life. He would kill me and he would lose both his brother and his partner. I am not willing to be the cause of Huaisang’s pain. It would kill me. Besides,” Jin Guangyao smirked, “I would’ve found a way to marry Huaisang with or without your approval. I would elope if I had to. But we both know Huaisang would want you at his wedding, so really, which one of us would cause him more pain if you don’t approve?” Jin Guangyao was looking Nie Mingjue in the eyes that entire conversation, something Wei Wuxian found impressive as Nie Mingjue was glaring at him the whole time. Nie Huaisang, however, Nie Huaisang swooned.

 

“A-YAO!” He gripped Jin Gaungyao harder, almost causing the older to fall onto Nie Huaisang but he managed to catch himself before he fell.

 

“Huaisang—”

 

“A-Yao is so sweet! Disobeying his father for my happiness! Saying that he’ll marry me no matter what! I love A-Yao! A-Yao is the best!” Nie Huaisang was placing kisses on Jin Guangyao’s face and lips, especially his lips, every other word. Nie Mingjue looked like he wanted to puke. “But what if your father found out? Would A-Yao be in trouble? In danger?” A gasp. “Will he kill you? He can’t. I won’t let him!” Something about the way Nie Huaisang looked made Wei Wuxian think his friend really would somehow prevent the Jin Sect Leader from killing his son (probably through murder). Jin Guangyao shook his head.

 

“As far as father is concerned, he thinks I’m here to try and woo you into falling in love with me and pining you and His Excellency the Chief Cultivator against each other. To distance the two of you, cause conflicts.” Nie Mingjue cringed at the title. “I know I could never succeed in the latter, but have I wooed you yet? Are you in love?” Nie Huaisang giggled.

 

“Silly. I’ve been in love with you since the moment I saw you.” Jin Guangyao was blushing. He took Nie Huaisang’s hand from around his neck and kissed it.

 

“My sweet A-Sang. How you make my heart swoon. May we be together like this in every life.” Wei Wuxian handed Nie Mingjue a basin to throw up in. 

 

 

 

 

“So what are we going to do about Jin Guangshit?” Wei Wuxian asked once the lovebirds got ahold of themselves.

 

“Father is set on me killing Nie Mingjue and marrying Nie Huaisang for power. He said that I’d be the first cutsleeve in Jin history to be acknowledged as a valuable member of the Sect and remain that way after marrying someone of the same sex.” Jin Guangyao cringed. Wei Wuxian shared that sentiment. The Jin Sect was the most vocal about their disgust with same sex couples. They notably have removed cultivators from both the Sect and family registry, sometimes even killing them to hide their shame. Wei Wuxian has never been more grateful that he was adopted into the Lan Sect.

 

“What if Mingjue was to approve of your wedding? Would that change anything?” Jin Guangyao looked thoughtful.

 

“It would probably distract him enough to take his mind off of killing Nie Mingjue until after the wedding is over. I would need more time to see if we could just slowly take his power away or if fully removing him from both the Sect and the world of the living would be necessary.” Lan Wangji wanted them to wait before deciding if they should kill Jin Guangshan and how they would do it. “One wedding would not be enough time.”

“What about two?” Wei Wuxian asked. He turned to Lan Xichen and grabbed Lan Wangji’s hand. “It’s about time, don’t you think?” He looked Lan Wangji in the eye. Lan Wangji was staring at him like Wei Wuxian meant the world to Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian felt the same. He planted a soft kiss on Lan Wangji’s cheek just to see the smile overtake his face. Lan Wangji turned to Lan Xichen.

 

“Brother.” Lan Xichen smiled and nodded.

 

“A-Sang—”

 

“Is getting married after Lan-xiong and Wei-xiong. They’ve waited much longer. They deserve this. That also means Jin GuangSTD would leave them alone.” Nie Huaisang’s smile turned into a scowl when he said those last words. Then, his face paled. “Jin Guangscum is A-Yao’s father. Jin Guangshitrag is going to be my father-in-law. I’m going to be related to Jin Guangshit! Da-ge, we’re going to be related to—” Nie Huaisang gagged and Wei Wuxian patted his head.

 

“It’s okay Nie-xiong. It’ll be okay.” Nie Huaisang turned his horrified eyes onto Wei Wuxian. 

 

“Wei-xiong, if Xichen-ge and Da-ge get married, that means we’re brothers-in-law which means you’re also Jin Guangyao’s brother-in-law meaning you will also be related to the walking personification of every STD possible.” Wei Wuxian paled and turned to Jin Guangyao.

 

 

 

 

“We are killing your father.”

Chapter Text

Wedding planning was hard. Thankfully, Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian were exempt from most of it with the exception of tasting food and trying on their robes (Wei Wuxian did not cry when he saw himself in his wedding robes for the first time. He did not). Other than that, they had a lot more free time now that the entirety of Cloud Recesses was focusing its efforts on planning the grandest wedding possible (though showing off was against their Sect rules, the entirety of the cultivation world was watching this wedding. Never let it be said that GusuLan did not exceed any and all expectations in all things. All of them). Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji spent most this time with the Wens living at the base of Cloud Recesses.

 

 

 

“Xian-gege, Ji-gege!” A-Yuan ran up to the two fiancés. His little legs were trying so hard to reach them as fast as possible. Wei Wuxian extended his hands out in case the boy fell, but he managed to make it all the way to Wei Wuxian’s legs, which he hugged like it was his favorite toy. The boy’s mother died in labor and his father was killed in the war. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji have basically been raising the boy alongside his Granny since he was an infant. “Granny told me what an A-niang and A-die were today!” Wei Wuxian felt something pang in his chest. He gently pried A-Yuan off his leg and lifted the boy into his arms. Taking Lan Wangji’s hand, the trio walked to a bench where Wei Wuxian sat down with A-Yuan in his lap.

 

“Oh yeah? What did you think?” A-Yuan smiled brightly. Wei Wuxian would do anything to protect that smile.

 

“A-Yuan thinks that he has the best A-niang and A-die ever and he loves them very much.” Wei Wuxian felt himself hold back tears. He knew too well what it was like growing up without parents. Sure Madam Lan and Lan Qiren made great substitutes, but they weren’t his mom and dad.

 

“Do you now?” A-Yuan nodded. 

 

“A-ninag is gentle, caring, kind, teaches A-Yuan new things, selfless, and loves A-Yuan a lot! A-die is strict, doting, buys all A-Yuan’s toys, carries both A-Yuan and A-niang, and always protects A-niang and A-Yuan!” The boy said these words like they were fact. Like he knew his parents were supposed to act like this. Wei Wuxian was lost in thought, but brought back with A-Yuan’s tearful expression and Lan Wangji’s panic. “Do A-niang and A-die not want A-Yuan?” Wei Wuxian felt his heart break.

 

“No A-Yuan. Your A-niang and A-die love you very much. They just can’t be here right now.” Lan Wangji started to pat A-Yuan’s little head. A-Yuan looked confused.

 

“But… I’m sitting in A-niang’s lap. A-die is patting A-Yuan’s head. Do A-niang and A-die have somewhere to go?” Both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji froze. Just wait one fucking minute.

 

“A-Yuan, who is your A-die and A-niang?” Wei Wuxian asked, forcing his body to relax.

 

“Xian-gege is A-niang and Ji-gege is A-die! Can A-Yuan call A-niang A-niang and A-die A-die now?” Wei Wuxian felt tears welling in his eyes as he pulled the boy closer. He didn’t want to replace the kid’s parents but if this is what A-Yuan wanted… who was he to deny the child what he never had? He turned to Lan Wangji who nodded.

 

“Ask your Aunt Qing and Uncle Ning first. If they say yes, you could may.” Lan Wangji responded because Wei Wuxian was too choked up to. Instead, he sat on the bench with A-Yuan in his lap and just held the child close. Held his son close. 

 

 

 

 

 

Before their marriage, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji decided to cleanse the Burial Mounds and set Madam Lan free. The rest of the Lan family, Lan Xichen, Qingheng-jun, and Lan Qiren, also went with them (family bonding… yay). Entering the Burial Mounds was a strange experience for all of them. It represented months of pain, separation, loneliness, starvation, and torture but it also held one of the most precious people to the Lans. It held their beloved wife, mother, and sister-in-law.

 

“Madam Lan?” Wei Wuxian called out once they got to the top of the mountain. A cluster of resentful energy started to form in front of them until they molded into a person. She looked the same as the last time they saw her.

 

“Wei Wuxian, if you call me anything other than mother-in-law again I will slap you into the next reincarnation cycle.” Wei Wuxian let out a bright laugh and launched himself at her. She caught him with ease. Well, the resentful energy did. Madam Lan looked surprised and checked his meridians. “Your core?” He nodded.

 

“Wen Qing and Xichen-ge helped me restore it. Wen Qing is the Wen doctor who also doubled as our spy and is a friend of mine. The Lan clan took her and her clan in.” Speaking of the Lans……. yeah they were crying. Every last one of them.

 

“Mother…..” Madam Lan held her arms open for her sons. 

 

“A-Huan, A-Zhan. Come give your mother a hug.” Wei Wuxian jumped out of the way as the two brothers hugged their mother. He was free for about five minutes before Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen pulled him in between them in the hug. The three children and their mother hugged for a while before separating. They made way for Lan Qiren and Qingheng-jun.

 

“Madam Lan.” Lan Qiren cleared his voice. “You look… It’s nice to see you again.” Madam Lan rolled her eyes and pulled her younger brother-in-law towards her. 

 

“As awkward as ever RenRen.” Lan Qiren blushed so hard Wei Wuxian had to check his temperature. “A-Ying, didn’t I tell you to tell him to lose the beard?” Wei Wuxian shrugged.

 

“I tried to tell him. He kept it.” Madam Lan sighed, put a hand on her hip, and looked at her husband. “And you! Don’t tell me I have to drag you to me again.” To everyone’s surprise, Qingheng-jun fell onto his knees in front of her.

 

“My flower, I’m sorry I failed to protect you.” He held the ends of her robe. “I’m sorry I wasn’t the one at that night hunt. I’m—”

 

“If the next words aren’t ‘in love with you,’ I don’t want to hear them.” Qingheng-jun looked at her in shock. “Did you plan my murder?” He shook his head. “Did you know the night hunt would go wrong?” Another no. “Did you have some sort of device that lets you see the future?” No. “Then why are you blaming yourself? Not everything is about you, dearest.” She pulled him up. “Now get up. It’s unbecoming of a Sect Leader in white to be kneeling in dirt.” She dusted him off and kissed his cheek. “I’ve missed you.” The dam broke and Qingheng-jun held onto Madam Lan and started crying.

 

 

After a while, they decided to catch up with Madam Lan instead of purifying the mountain right away. The group sat in the Demon Slaughtering Cave.

 

“So, anything new?”

 

“A-Zhan and A-Xian are getting married in a couple months.” She nodded.

 

“About time.” Wei Wuxian laughed.

 

“Lan Zhan and I have a son!” Madam Lan’s jaw dropped. Wei Wuxian took a moment to commend himself for finally managing to surprise her.

 

“You’re not even married!”

“He was orphaned. We took him in. He calls me A-niang and Lan Zhan A-die. His name is A-Yuan and he’s the cutest little radish to exist.” Madam Lan looked more confused.

 

“Your child is a radish?????” Wei Wuxian could hear the question marks.

 

“No, he’s a Wen.” Madam Lan gave him the most “what the hell are you on” look possible. They had a lot to explain.

They were almost done with the cleansing ritual. One by one, they said goodbye to Madam Lan. She smiled at them.

 

“I’m so proud of you. All of you. My dear Sect Leader, you raised our sons so well. They would make any parent proud. Lan Qiren, you taught them so many things and continue to teach them every day. You brought me A-Ying and I thank you every day for introducing him into our little family. A-Ying, you brought so much joy to our family and me. Please continue to spread that joy. A-Huan, you did so well protecting the ones you love. Keep doing so, no matter what. And A-Zhan, my precious little boy, your mother loves you so much and she is so proud of the young man you have become. Please be happy my precious one.” She gave him a teasing smile. “And smile more.” Lan Wangji gave her a smile through his tears, and they finished the ritual. They watched as Madam Lan’s ghost disappeared and she was set free. There was not a single dry eye in sight.

 

 

 

 

Red looked good on Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian felt tears well in his eyes when he saw his fiancé in front of him, fully clothed in red. Lan Xichen insisted that Wei Wuxian have a veil, so his vision was slightly impaired, which is fine because it means that they can’t see him crying. A-Yuan was standing next to Lan Xichen when they did their bows, having made the boy officially their son the day before. The ceremony was beautiful and when it was time for the couple to make a speech, Wei Wuxian couldn’t keep the tears out of his voice.

 

“A-Zhan, I have loved you since the day we met. I have loved you as we grew and I will love you as we continue you to grow. You were what motivated me to keep going, to keep living, even in my darkest hour. I love you and I want to spend the rest of our lives together. From tonight onward, I hope we could always be together. I hope that we stand side-by-side no matter the circumstance. I hope— no, I know that nothing will ever tears us apart because my love for you alone will not stand for it. I want you to be the first thing I see when I open my eyes and the last thing I see when I close them. You’re my forever, Lan Wangji. I love you.” Lan Wangji was crying. Lan Xichen was crying. Nie Huaisang was absolutely gone. Even Jiang Cheng had a smile on his face. Lan Wangji took his hand.

 

“A-Ying, you have brightened my every day since I met you. Your smile lit up every gloomy cloud and your laugh completely clearing them away. You have been by my side at my worst and I want you there for the best. I need you by my side for the rest of our lives because I simply cannot exist without you. You are my forever and I want to be the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing when you close your eyes. I want to see you by my side for the rest of our lives. I love you.” Nie Huaisang was officially a blubbering mess. Both Nie Mingjue and Jin Guangyao had to work to keep him up. Somehow, the boy managed to grab his cup and make a toast.

 

“A toast to the new couple! May they be together forever!” Wei Wuxian noticed something with Lan Wangji’s cup. “Lan Zhan, switch with me. Your’s has alcohol.” The two switch cups and Lan Wangji drinks Wei Wuxian’s tea. Wei Wuxian knew exactly what he was doing when he switched cups with Lan Wangji.  A couple minutes later, Wei Wuxian called out to Lan Wangji. “Lan Zhan.” Lan Wangji turned to him. “Lan Zhan. I love you, Lan Wangji. Lan Er-gege, Second Young Master Lan, Lan Wangji, Lan Zhan.” With each word, Wei Wuxian’s voice got more slurred. Lan Wangji assumed he was drunk.

 

 

 

“Lan Zhan. I’m sorry, Lan Zhan.”

 

 

 

Wei Wuxian started to cough blood. In the background, he heard someone call for a medic. It was strange, how close the color of blood was to the color of his wedding robes. The red of his robes mixed with the red of his blood, creating a sea of red that flowed as endlessly as his love for Lan Wangji. It flowed and stained his robes—once symbolizing good luck—with death itself. Whatever was in Lan Wangji's cup was meant to kill, and it was doing a damn good job. He vomited more blood out. Someone was moving him. He looked up to see his husband’s face over his. He was saying something that Wei Wuxian couldn’t understand so Wei Wuxian tried to smile for his husband. He didn’t know how it looked but apparently it was so bad that his beloved started crying. 

 

“A-Zhan,” He put a hand on Lan Wangji’s cheek. His husband nuzzled into his palm. Wei Wuxian wished he could hear his voice one last time, but everything was muffled to the ringing in his ears, to the pain in his lungs. “Don't cry, my heart. I love you, A-Zhan.” 

 

 

 

Lan Wangji was the last thing Wei Wuxian saw before he closed his eyes. 

Chapter Text

“He’s unstable.” Lan Wangji shook harder. Lan Xichen was gripping his shoulders, holding him up in support. Nie Mingjue was holding Lan Xichen for support. Jin Guangyao was holding Nie Huaisang…. back.

 

“I’m going to kill him. You know it was one of the Jins. No one else would dare. Let me go A-Yao, I’m going to slaughter them!” Nie Huaisang has been threatening murder ever since they learned that the intended target was Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian knew he was drinking poison when he did it. Lan Wangji has not let go of Wei Wuxian’s hand.

 

“Will he live?” Nie Mingjue was asking the important question.

 

“Unknown. It’s attacking his golden core. The ‘poison’ was actually just a curse tracker, whoever ingests it will receive the curse. That’s what’s killing him.” Lan Wangji gagged at the word killing. It was their wedding night. It was supposed to be one of the happiest nights of their lives. It was supposed to be the start of forever. 

 

Who knew forever was only a few hours?

Lan Wangji broke. He was sobbing harder than when he watched Wei Wuxian literally get ripped from his very hands. Except, now Lan Wangji could feel… nothing. He moved his hand from Wei Wuxian’s pulse to his chest. He waited with a bated breathe for a breathe that never came. His love… his love wasn’t breathing.

 

“Wen Qing…. WEN QING!” The woman ran to his side and started checking Wei Wuxian’s pulse. Her eyes widened. 

 

“No….. NO!” She started CPR. Lan Wangji felt the world close in on him. He started to hyperventilate. It was hard. It was so hard to breathe while his love wasn’t. He was shaking. The hands on his shoulders moved to support him around the waist. Lan Wangji was falling. He watched as his love’s lifeless body move with every chest compression.  He watched Wei Wuxian lips be kissed by someone else in an attempt to save his life. He watched the hands he loved to hold fall from the side of the bed, limp in a way the most energetic person Lan Wangji knew should never be. He watched Wei Wuxian’s chest for a breathe that for some reason wasn’t coming. He watched Wen Qing call for Jiang Wanyin to come with Zidian and to come fast. He watched as Wei Wuxian somehow got paler. He watched his love slip away for a second time, and this time, into the sweet, heartbreaking, thieving hands of death.

 

 In the background, he heard a scream.

 

“A-NIANG!” A-Yuan jumped into the bed but Lan Wangji stopped him before he could get very far. He pulled his son into his arms. “A-die, why won’t A-naing wake up? What’s wrong with, A-niang? A-niang, A-niang wake up! A-niang promised A-Yuan a story— A-naing never breaks promises A-naing, A-niang, A-niang—” A sob cut off his cries. Lan Wangji pulled his son closer. “No, no A-die please don’t take A-niang away. Don’t let them take A-niang away. Don’t let them put him in the ground where he can’t hug A-Yuan! Where he can’t tell us stories or give A-Yuan candy when A-die isn’t looking or play the flute or or or NO! Don’t let them, please don’t let them— A-NIANG OPEN YOUR EYES!” Lan Wangji sobbed into his son’s hair. He was so focused on helping his son, everyone was so focused on the boy, that he didn’t notice Nie Huaisang slip away. The only person who managed to see him was Lan Xichen… and Lan Xichen was the last person who would stop him.

 

 


 

 

Nie Huaisang was on a warpath. He knew that Jin Guangshan, and maybe Jin Zixun, were behind this. He also knew that those two people believed him to be an idiot. Contrary to what he told Wei Wuxian, Nie Huaisang had spies in Cloud Recesses. Not to gather information, but to keep his friends safe. He knew those spies would’ve bugged the Jin rooms. Nie Huaisang made eye contact with one of his spies before “fainting.” The spy caught him, caused a commotion, and then took the younger Nie to Nie rooms in Cloud Recesses. 

 

“Talk.”

 

“Jin Guangshan and Jin Zixun were talking about assassinating the Second Young Master Lan and framing Wei Wuxian for attempting to murder his husband for his social standing. A stupid plot because the whole cultivation world knows how much they love each other, but they planted this satchel,” It was the ugliest thing Nie Huaisang has ever seen, “in Wei Wuxian’s wedding robes. I pulled it out when I helped dress him, but I couldn’t figure out what they put the poison in in time and assumed it was a normal poison, one that they would be immune to.” Nie Huaisang gave the spy a thoughtful look before a sick smile spread over his face.

 

“I need you to put that back in Jin Zixun’s room.” Nie Huaisang quickly wrote a letter in Jin Zixun’s handwriting. “And plant this in Jin Guangshan’s room. Hide it somewhere he wouldn’t look but make it look like he placed it there intentionally. In between pages of a book or something.”

 

“What if he reads the book?” Nie Huaisang scoffed.

 

“Don’t be stupid. He can’t read.” Once the letter dried, Nie Huaisang handed it off. “It is important that you don’t get caught by anyone. And,” Nie Huaisang wrote another letter, this time in Jin Guangshan’s handwriting, “hand this to one of our Jin spies. Tell them to hand it to Jin Zixun in front of, and this is important, Jin Zixuan. Make sure to tell him it’s from Jin Guangshan.” The spy nodded and went to go carry out her tasks. Nie Huaisang smirked and waited for his pawns to fall together.

 

 

 

“Master the task has been completed.”

 

“Good. Any difficulty?”

“Jiang Wanyin was with Jin Zixuan when I gave Jin Zixun the letter. He looked upset.”

“I would be too if I had to listen to Jin Zixun speak. Nevertheless, well done.”

 

 

 

 

One day after the attempted assassination of the Second Young Master Lan, Lan Xichen gave Nie Huaisang the okay to do whatever it takes to avenge Wei Wuxian. Two days after the attempted assassination of the Second Young Master Lan, Wei Wuxian was stabilized, but in a coma. Three days after the attempted assassination of the Second Young Master Lan, Nie Huaisang set his plan into motion. He sat in the Library Pavilion and waited for Jin Zixun to come into view. From then on he waited and waited and waited until hours passed and Jin Zixun was still outside waiting for a man who would never come. The annoying, smug expression he wore turned into one of panic and nervousness. Nie Huaisang acted after that expression bordered hysterics. 

 

“Jin Zixun! Fancy seeing you here.” Said man looked at him and scoffed. Nie Huaisang made sure that the other disciples who were still here from the wedding saw their interactions. At least, what he wanted them to see. “Are you okay? You look like you’ve been standing here for a while.” He put on his picture-perfect innocent look. Jin Zixun somehow got uglier.

 

“It’s none of your business, useless Nie.” Some of the disciples gasped while some turned the other direction. The direction of, Nie Huaisang noted, his brother. Perfect.

 

“Of course. The same way it’s none of my business that you’ve been standing here for hours waiting for a man who thinks you’re as useless, if not more, than me.” The innocent smile never left Nie Huaisang’s lips. Jin Zixun turned an angry eye on him. 

 

“YOU!” Good. Draw in more people you stupid, stupid boy.

 

“Or how you’ve been glaring at every girl who has walked by you. Why? Is it because she rejected you? She refused you sex? She beat you when you tried to force yourself on her? She kicked you off her and laughed in your face about how weak you are? Is that why?” Jin Zixun was turning red.

 

“How dare you?! What girl wouldn’t want me?” Nie Huaisang opened his fan and scoffed. 

 

“One with standards.” Nie Huaisang could practically see the steam from Jin Zixun’s ears.

 

“SHUT UP YOU CUTSLEEVE! YOU CAN’T EVEN GET A GIRL! YOU’RE A SICK, DISGUSTING, CUTSLEEVE!” Jin Zixun knew what disgusting meant? Huh, Nie Huaisang didn’t give him enough credit.

“Don’t take it out on me. Wei Wuxian was right when he said you were all bark and no bite. You’re weak in every way. You spend most of your time screwing around, not even bothering to cultivate and hiding behind your stronger cousin. I’d say you’re just like Wen Chao.” Nie Huaisang closed his fan and moved to turn around but he paused. “Don’t be bitter because Meng Yao won’t die a virgin while you will. He’s so much better than you in every way possible.” Nie Huaisang gave Jin Zixun a big smile. “It was nice talking to you! Have a nice day!” Nie Huaisang turned around to see Nie Mingjue storming towards him. If Jin Zixun was smart, he would’ve turned the other direction when he saw Nie Mingjue’s, hell-hath-no-fury expression. Fortunately for Nie Huaisang, the man was about as smart as he was attractive. He felt the man pull out his sword. He saw Nie Mingjue’s eyes widen and Baxia fly. He saw Jin Guangyao dive for him and pull Nie Huaisang into his chest and away from both Baxia and whatever the hell Jin Zixun called his sword. He felt Baxia fly past him. He saw Lan Xichen give him a small nod and a questioning look. Nie Huaisang tapped his hand to his chest, hoping Lan Xichen would get the message. He did.

 

Behind, Baxia killed Jin Zixun. Rumors started flying. About how a worried Nie Huaisang saw Jin Zixun standing in the hot sun for hours and offered him help, only to get yelled at and attacked. No one mourned Jin Zixun. In fact, Nie Huaisang and Jiang Wanyin threw a small drinking party to celebrate. Well, Jiang Wanyin thought Nie Huaisang was in shock but that’s fine. On Jin Zixun, inside his chest pocket and exactly where Nie Huaisang showed Lan Xichen, a letter was found from Jin Guangshan telling him to meet him where Jin Zixun was waiting. They were going to talk about planning their next move. Disciples searched the Jin’s room only to find another letter outlining the assassination plan on Lan Wangji and the satchel of poison (from which a curse repellent was made and given to Wei Wuxian). The next search was in Jin Guangshan’s room. There, Nie Huaisang knocked down a book and, oh wow what a coincidence, a letter confirming Jin Zixun’s involvement and stating, “I did what you asked” came out of said book. Along side that came both Jin Zixuan’s and Jiang Wanyin’s testimony that they did see a Jin messenger hand Jin Zixun a letter from Jin Guangshan the day after the assassination attempt. Jin Guangshan, predictably, tried to bribe his way out of it, but the Lans were not having it. For the first time in centuries, the Lan clan held a public execution. 

 

A sweet smile overtook Nie Huaisang’s features, one only Lan Xichen knew the true meaning behind.

 

 


 

 

Wei Wuxian woke up to someone clenching his hand and someone else running his fingers through his hair. There was a voice talking but Wei Wuxian could not figure out who it was. He opened his eyes, only to be blinded by light and groaned. The hand holding his jerked and he felt another hand on his cheek. He knew this hand. Nuzzling into the hand Wei Wuxian let out a content sigh and mumbled, “Lan Zhan.” Said man let out what sounded like a sob, causing Wei Wuxian to open his eyes. “Why are you crying, my love?” Lan Wangji only cried harder. It was only then did Wei Wuxian realize the hand in his hair stopped moving. He looked up to see Lan Xichen with tears running down his face. He opened his mouth to ask what happened when Lan Wangji suddenly pulled him into a hug.

 

“Wei Ying.” He said burying his face into Wei Wuxian’s hair. “Wei Ying.” A kiss on his lips. “Wei Ying.” A bite on his neck. Wei Wuxian hissed.

 

“Lan Zhan!” He slapped Lan Wangji’s back for that.

 

“Wei Ying was stupid. Wei Ying should’ve let me drink or just not drank at all.” Wei Wuxian shook his head and looked at Nie Huaisang. He knew his friend would be there given his love for everyone he considered a friend. Jin Guangyao was holding Nie Huaisang close. 

 

“I had to. There was no way I was letting you get poisoned and if I didn’t drink, no one would find out about the poisoning. Whoever did it needed to be exposed. I assumed that already happened?” Nie Huaisang nodded.

 

“You know me too well, Wei-xiong.” Everyone looked shocked at the declaration, but Wei Wuxian merely relaxed into Lan Wangji. He was content with staying in Lan Wangji’s arms. People started to question the younger Nie and chaos exploded—

 

Until Lan Xichen decided he felt let out and smacked Wei Wuxian so hard he thought he would pass out.

 

“YOU STUPID CHILD!” Oh no… he’s crying. Lan Xichen hugged Wei Wuxian, yanking him out of a grumpy Lan Wangji’s arms. “HOW DARE YOU WILLINGLY DRINK POISON!? I WILL LOCK YOU IN THE JINGSHI FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IF IT MEANS KEEPING YOU SAFE! MADAM LAN WOULD AGREE! YOU STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID—” He cut himself off and just broke down. “When will you realize that seeing you in pain kills us? Your heart stopped A-Xian. You fell into a coma. We thought you would die.” Wei Wuxian felt his heart break. He buried his face into Lan Xichen’s hair.

 

“I’m sorry Chen-gege. I’m sorry.” He looked at Lan Wangji. “Lan Zhan.” Lan Wangji hugged him from behind and buried his head into Wei Wuxian’s neck. Wei Wuxian held a hand to Lan Wangji’s head, keeping him there. “I love you. Both of you. I’ll try not to be as reckless.” Lan Wangji gave a disbelieving scoff and Wei Wuxian felt insulted. “Hey!” Lan Wangji mumbled into his throat, causing Wei Wuxian to shiver.

 

“Wei Ying is as reckless as he is selfless.” He sighed but let it drop. He was very content in the Lan brothers’ arms.

 

Apparently, he cannot be content because Nie Huaisang started beating him with his surprisingly painful fan while crying.

 

“YOU WILL NEVER BE WITHOUT SUPERVISION AGAIN! DO YOU KNOW HOW WORRIED I WAS? HOW WORRIED EVERYONE WAS?? THE LANS DID THEIR FIRST PUBLIC EXECUTION IN CENTURIES BECAUSE OF YOU!” Wei Wuxian was shocked. What???

“Public execution?”

“Jin Guangshan. Jin Zixuan is Sect Leader now. He proclaimed Jiang Yanli his co-Sect Leader which means the Jins are in for some serious renovations. Jin Zixun died after he pulled a blade on A-Sang.” Jin Guangyao answered. He looked happier. Wei Wuxian sent him a smile. 

 

“I see.” Nie Mingjue sent Wei Wuxian a look.

 

“Make Xichen cry again and I’ll break your legs.” Wei Wuxian nodded as well as he could with the clingy Lans still holding him. Then he heard a bang and the door almost broke from the force it was slid open.

 

“A-NIANG!” A-Yuan ran at him. Lan Xichen shifted so A-Yuan could fit between them, still refusing to let Wei Wuxian go. “A-Yuan missed you A-niang.” Wei Wuxian felt tears well in his eyes before pulling A-Yuan closer and kissing his son’s face.

 

“A-niang missed you too, precious one.” Wei Wuxian looked up when he felt another slap on his head. ‘At this rate, I might as well fall back into a coma.’ Wei Wuxian looked up to see Qingheng-jun, Wen Ning, and Wen Qing standing by the door. The one who slapped him was Lan Qiren, who was standing next to his bed.

 

“The next time you do something like this, I can and will lock you in the Jingshi and never let you leave Cloud Recesses. Are we clear?” Wei Wuxian nodded.

 

“Yes, Uncle.” Lan Qiren scoffed and placed a soothing hand on Wei Wuxian’s hair.

 

“Welcome back, menace.” Qingheng-jun was next. He merely looked at A-Yuan then back at Wei Wuxian.

 

“The adoption papers have been finalized. You have a son now A-Xian. Don’t make him lose another parent.” Wei Wuxian nodded.

 

“I’ll try, Father-in-law.” Qingheng-jun sighed but rubbed his hand down a sobbing Lan Xichen’s back and offered Wei Wuxian a smile. Wen Qing gave him a glare.

 

“If I ever have to revive you again, I will use needles to paralyze you and keep you in Lan Wangji’s bed.” 

 

“I wouldn’t mind.” Lan Wangji, the traitor, mumbled into his neck.

 

Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian blushed and hid his face in Lan Xichen’s hair. Lan Xichen laughed at his expense. Wen Ning took one look at him and started crying. Oh yeah… Wei Wuxian was going to try harder to live next time. Wei Wuxian relaxed back into Lan Wangji’s arms and reflected on what his life had become.

 

 

 

In another life, he would have died long before getting his happiness.

 

In another circumstance, half the people in the room were dead and gone.

 

In another story, everyone in the room suffered hardships greater than one could imagine and a thousand times more painful.

 

This is not that life, nor that circumstance.

 

This is not that story.

 

 

Surrounded by his friends and family, by the people he loved the most, Wei Wuxian started his forever. He was happy. He was at peace. He was loved in a way that he never thought was possible.

 

He was home.

 

 

 

 

 

Fin.