Lan Xichen knows in the deepest part of his heart that Jiang Cheng is the love of his love. His fated one. They have spent enough time together for Lan Xichen to know that he hates greeting the morning without seeing Wanyin’s face and he hates going to sleep at night without kissing Wanyin good night. Jiang Cheng is his moon, his muse, his confidant, his better half. Lan Xichen had already decided weeks ago that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Jiang Wanyin.
But first, he had to propose.
Lan Xichen’s grand plan is to propose on a boat trip through the beautiful lakes of Yunmeng. Jiang Wanyin was fiercely proud of the clear water and bountiful lotuses that surrounded his home. Lan Xichen had often been invited on these boat trips so that he could take in all of the beauty of Yunmeng for himself. The two of them had taken many of these boat trips together before and it always held happy memories for them. It was on a previous boat ride that they had confessed to each other after all. It would be the perfect backdrop for his proposal.
They set off on a beautiful day, the sun high in the sky and the waters bright and clear. They are sitting across from each other on opposite ends of the boat as Jiang Cheng rows them to their destination. It allows Lan Xichen’s sight to only be taken up by Wanyin. Wanyin is being his usual beautiful self, frowning in concentration as he masterfully weaves the boat between all the lotuses.
They stop in the middle of a flourishing patch of lotuses. It is far enough away from land to give them some semblance of privacy.
“Inviting me for a boat ride and then making me row the boat? Are those famous Lan arms just for show?” Jiang Cheng teases.
Lan Xichen smiles brightly in return.
“And miss the chance to see the arms of the fearsome Sandu Shengshou in action? Never!”
Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. Lan Xichen can’t help the laugh that escapes. Jiang Cheng is just too adorable. Lan Xichen can feel his nerves slowly slipping away as they continue to banter. He finds himself laughing and teasing Wanyin as he usually does.
Wanyin is in the middle of laughing at something silly he said when Lan Xichen takes a moment to really look at him. He watches the laugh lines deepen on Wanyin’s face as his whole body shakes with mirth. The usual tense lines of Jiang Cheng’s body are softened by boyish giggles, making Jiang Cheng look years younger. Lan Xichen feels the familiar fondness well up inside him.
“I love you.” Lan Xichen says. Jiang Cheng stops laughing, caught by surprise, but his face quickly melts into that small smile that is reserved just for Lan Xichen.
“Thank you for inviting me out here, Xichen-ge.” Looking at Jiang Cheng’s smiling face, Lan Xichen is sure that he is looking into the reincarnation of the sun. That beautiful smile was brighter than any light could ever hope to be. Lan Xichen’s heart starts pounding. This is it. This is his moment. ‘I want to invite you on these boat rides for another thousand years.’ That’s all he has to say. But seeing Jiang Cheng’s radiant smile makes his mind go blank.
Before he knows it, he’s leaning in. Jiang Cheng’s eyes become hooded. The space between them is charged with electricity. Lan Xichen is unable to deny his desperate attraction to this man. All he has to do is lean the slightest bit forward...
It only takes a second.
Next thing he knows, Lan Xichen’s mouth is full of water and he is sputtering. The upturned boat is still rocking next to him, sending ripples through the water. He wipes the water from his eyes and turns incredulous eyes to Wanyin. They gape at each other for a second, before Wanyin bursts out laughing. He’s bent over, laughing so hard that no sound comes out.
Lan Xichen pouts.
“Sorry, I’m sorry.” Jiang Cheng wipes the tears from his eyes. He takes one look at Lan Xichen pouting, and doubles over in laughter again.
Lan Xichen can’t even be mad. This is the most beautiful sight in the world after all. But the moment is over. Lan Xichen will have to try again.
Lan Xichen is having a meal with Jiang Cheng one day when Jiang Cheng makes a remark about missing his sister’s cooking. It sparks Lan Xichen’s next proposal idea.
He discreetly goes to the Yunmeng kitchens and asks the cooks how to make Jiang Cheng’s favorite dishes. They tease him relentlessly, but eventually teach him how to make lotus root pork rib soup, steamed Wuchang fish, and a rice dish that Lan Xichen is familiar with from Gusu. The cooks order him to focus on these dishes; they will make the rest. He leaves them as they giggle and gossip about how loved their sect leader is.
Lan Xichen is glad that he has some proficiency in the kitchen, or else this plan would take a lot longer. He spends his entire weeklong stay at Yunmeng perfecting the three recipes. When he’s not cooking, he’s spending time daydreaming about being married to Jiang Cheng. Not that it would change much from their current lives, but the official title of “Sect Leader Jiang’s husband” would let the world know that Lan Xichen belonged to one man and one man only.
Finally, on the last day of his stay, it is time to show off his prowess. The food is steaming hot and ready on the table in front of him. All that’s left is to add the chili sauce.
Lan Xichen frowns. How much is he supposed to add again?
He knows the Yunmeng Jiang diet is much spicier than his own Gusu Lan diet, but how much spice is enough? Would it be better to add too much or too little? He thinks back to meals with Wei Wuxian and Wangji. Wei Wuxian had slathered his food in chili sauce each time. Jiang Cheng probably likes it the same way…
Lan Xichen stares at the food one last time. He reminds himself that this is all for Wanyin. He pours the sauce and watches all the food turn blazing red. He grimaces, feeling the spice burn his throat before he even gets to taste any of the dishes. When he’s finished, he puts it all on a tray and brings it to his and Wanyin’s favorite pavilion.
Jiang Cheng’s eyes light up when Lan Xichen arrives. Lan Xichen feels his insides melt from how soft Jiang Cheng’s face looks. He places everything on the table.
“Why did you bring the food today?” Jiang Cheng asks. Lan Xichen looks away, a little embarrassed. Jiang Cheng is confused for a second, but realization dawns quickly.
“You made this?” Lan Xichen nods shyly. Jiang Cheng smiles again.
“We mustn’t waste good food then. Let’s eat.” He ushers Lan Xichen to his seat and settles himself down quickly before starting his meal. Everything was an alarming shade of red, but Lans were not fond of spice. Had Xichen added something else to the food? He’s sure it won’t be a problem. He picks up some rice and shoves it into his mouth.
Only to spit it right out. Lan Xichen is alarmed.
“Are you okay?” Jiang Cheng is turning red.
“Water” he mimes. Lan Xichen pours some and Jiang Cheng practically inhales it. But it doesn’t help much. Jiang Cheng coughs, trying to dislodge the chili stuck in his throat. Lan Xichen just keeps pouring water, hoping he is not about to become a widower before he was even married.
Later, after Lan Xichen made sure that the love of his life did not die of chili overdose, Jiang Cheng asks about what happened. Lan Xichen shamefully admits to his inexperience with chili.
“Why did you add so much?” Jiang Cheng wonders.
“...I assumed you would like as much chili in your food as WWX does.”
“That idiot! Don’t ever use him as a measure for anything, Huan-ge. His taste buds have been completely seared off from all the spice he’s inhaled through the years!” Jiang Cheng scolds.
Lan Xichen can only nod miserably. He failed and almost killed the love of his life. Jiang Cheng sighs and pats his head consolingly. Lan Xichen would have to do better the next time.
Since two proposals have failed in Yunmeng, Lan Xichen decides to move to Gusu. Jiang Cheng did mention once that he liked the tranquil surroundings. He said that the calm and peaceful atmosphere reminded him of Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen decides to propose on a scenic walk along the mountain paths of Gusu.
The walk itself isn’t too long, but it winds through beautiful lush green foliage and sparkling streams. It’s a nice walk that starts from the Cloud Recesses and leads down to a point near Caiyi Town. Lan Xichen thinks he can propose on the way. They can even go to the town after to celebrate!
They set off in the late afternoon. Their walk was peaceful; just two men enjoying each other’s company after a day of hard work. Jiang Cheng had had a particularly hard day, so he was glad for the chance to just walk and release some stress. They make it almost all the way down the mountain without any problems. All seemed to be going well.
Except for those storm clouds that suddenly appear in the sky. It starts pouring.
“Run!” Jiang Cheng yells. They head down the trail and run straight for an inn in Caiyi Town, but not before getting completely soaking wet. They hurriedly ask the innkeeper for a room and a hot bath. The innkeeper prepares everything right away. When they go up to their room, everything is already prepared.
Lan Xichen takes a hesitant glance at his partner. Jiang Cheng’s face is darn and angry. Lan Xichen’s heart sinks in the face of Jiang Cheng’s bad mood. Jiang Cheng takes off his clothes quickly, then surprises Lan Xichen by pulling his clothes off too.
Before Lan Xichen can even comprehend the situation, Jiang Cheng is kissing him, hands roaming to all the parts of Lan Xichen’s body that make him moan. Lan Xichen can feel the heat on all the places Jiang Cheng touches. His lower half quickly takes interest. Jiang Cheng leads him to the wooden bathtub, only stopping once to grab the oil for their coming activities.
Jiang Cheng gets in first. Lan Xichen sits on top of his legs and continues kissing him. He feels a tongue lick at the seam of his lips, asking for permission. He opens his mouth in invitation, kissing back with just as much fervor. He can feel Jiang Cheng’s dick hardening beneath him, making him breathless with lust. Jiang Cheng’s hands caress his sides, sliding down slowly to massage his hips. Lan Xichen lets out a moan, the slow sensuous touches and the aggression still on Jiang Cheng’s face turning him on. Jiang Cheng reaches for the oil.
“Touch me” Lan Xichen pleads. Jiang Cheng’s hands move back to Lan Xichen’s hips as he presses kisses into Lan Xichen’s neck. He nips and licks his way down until he reaches a nipple. He sucks it into his mouth. Lan Xichen arches in surprise. Jiang Cheng lets go with his mouth only to swirl his tongue around the pink hardened nub. Jiang Cheng bites down.
“Ah!” Lan Xichen gasps as the pain shoots through his chest. Jiang Cheng laps at his nipple in apology. As he moves his mouth to Lan Xichen’s other nipple, his hands move from Lan Xichen’s hips down to Lan Xichen’s ass. He kneads the hard muscle there for a minute before slipping a finger into Lan Xichen’s waiting hole. Lan Xichen moans. He lifts himself slightly so Jiang Cheng can have better access. His hands automatically wrap around Jiang Cheng’s shoulders, allowing Jiang Cheng to press deeper into his chest.
Jiang Cheng slips another finger inside him and strokes his insides, opening him up for Jiang Cheng. He scissors his fingers slowly, taking stock of any discomfort from Lan Xichen. It’s too gentle. Lan Xichen is impatient. He wants his lover now.
Lan Xichen starts riding Jiang Cheng’s fingers. He wants Jiang Cheng inside of him so badly. He gasps each time he feels the intrusion. Jiang Cheng bites Lan Xichen above his nipple as punishment. Lan Xichen whines. But he stops moving.
“Be patient.” Jiang Cheng commands. He then licks the bite he just made. It will surely bruise tomorrow. Lan Xichen bites his lip and looks away a little petulantly. But Jiang Cheng quickly wipes the look off his face by adding a third finger. Lan Xichen’s face drops open in a drawn out moan. Jiang Cheng was now fucking him with three fingers. His other hand moves back to the front to stroke Lan Xichen to full hardness. But it’s not enough. Lan Xichen wants something else inside him.
“A-Cheng..” Lan Xichen stutters out. Jiang Cheng withdraws his fingers. He leans up to press a chaste kiss to Lan Xichen’s lips before reaching down to line his cock up with Lan Xichen’s hole. Lan Xichen lets out a little aborted gasp when he feels the blunt head of Jiang Cheng’s cock. Knowing that dick was going to be inside him soon makes him even more impatient. He presses down a little too quickly. His face twists as pain shoots up his backside.
“I told you to be patient.” Jiang Cheng makes a little amused snort. Lan Xichen thinks it was worth it because it results in Jiang Cheng wrapping his arms around Lan Xichen’s middle as he leans up to kiss Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen relaxes, and feels Jiang Cheng’s entire length slip inside him.
In this position, Lan Xichen has to be the one to move. He raises himself up and slams himself down. It punches a moan out of him. The ripples in the water grow more fierce as he does it again and again. He starts a nice slow rhythm where he slides almost all the way out and then slams himself back down. It hits him in just the right place. Lan Xichen’s face is slack with pleasure. But it’s Jiang Cheng’s turn to be impatient.
Jiang Cheng lifts him up and turns him around so he is leaning over the edge of the wooden tub. Jiang Cheng slides back into Lan Xichen’s loosened hole, then starts a pace much faster than before. Lan Xichen can feel each thrust into his slick walls. He feels so full. His mind goes hazy from the pleasure being wrought upon his body.
“Ah! Ah! A-Cheng! So good! Right there!” His moans go high-pitched as Jiang Cheng finds the spot inside him that makes him shudder. Jiang Cheng aims at the same spot over and over. Lan Xichen can feel tears forming at the corners of his eyes. Jiang Cheng is fucking him so good.
“Touch yourself.” Jiang Cheng commands. Lan Xichen hastily complies. He jerks his own cock furiously as Jiang Cheng pounds him from behind. He doesn’t last long. Before he knows it, he can feel Jiang Cheng pull out and release all over his used ass. This sends him over the edge and he comes. Jiang Cheng leans over to press a soft kiss onto Lan Xichen’s shoulder. Then he leans back to survey his handiwork.
He drags a finger through the mess of come on Lan Xichen’s ass.
“I think I like claiming you like this.” Jiang Cheng whispers.
Lan Xichen turns his head slightly to see the soft, fond look on Jiang Cheng’s face. It emboldens him. He reaches his arms back to pull his asscheeks apart, displaying his used hole for his lover to see.
“Then next time claim me by coming in here instead.”
Jiang Cheng is stunned silent. Then he starts laughing. He turns Lan Xichen around to kiss him properly. Lan Xichen is just glad that Jiang Cheng’s bad mood seems to have dissipated.
After that, they quickly use the water to get rid of all the evidence of their passion. When they are done washing up, Jiang Cheng sits on the bed, looking out the window. Now that the high from having sex was wearing off, Lan Xichen feels the disappointment sink in. He didn’t get the chance to propose and he had ruined Jiang Cheng’s day.
“I’m sorry that our walk was ruined today” Lan Xichen whispers as he walks up to Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng smiles at him faintly.
“Silly. It’s not your fault.” Jiang Cheng opens his arms for Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen wraps himself in Jiang Cheng’s arms. He feels himself relaxing in his lover’s embrace. It’s the safest place in the world. But Lan Xichen still feels dejected. Another failed attempt. There was always the Qixi festival at least.
Lan Xichen is back at Yunmeng by the time the Qixi festival rolls around. Jiang Cheng, being the secret romantic that he is, quite enjoys the atmosphere in Yunmeng during this time. There was an undeniable thrum of energy that always accompanied the festival. At night, young couples would walk and chatter together and enjoy the beautiful lights strewn up all along Lotus Pier.
It was perfect.
Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng make plans to walk along the boards in the evening, shopping at the night stalls and watching the stars. Lan Xichen sets off a little earlier than their planned meeting time so that he can buy some items that Shufu requested before he meets up with Jiang Cheng.
He is walking by some vendor stalls when a comb catches his eye. It’s not the most beautiful comb he’s ever seen, but the beautiful purple lotus design carved into the handle reminds him of Wanyin. Lan Xichen buys it immediately.
After Lan Xichen makes his purchase, he goes to the designated meeting place and sees Jiang Cheng standing under a lantern. Lan Xichen watches the soft lantern light dance across Jiang Cheng’s face. Jiang Cheng was usually so rigid and stern when he was Sect Leader Jiang. Seeing him bathed in the warm colors of the Yunmeng lantern was a breath-taking sight.
“I love you, Wanyin.” He can’t help but say as he approaches. Jiang Cheng laughs.
“You have been saying that a lot recently, Huan-ge.”
“Because it’s true, my love.” Wanyin’s smile doesn’t disappear as he leans in to wrap his arms around Lan Xichen. They fit perfectly together. Lan Xichen closes his eyes. He inhales the sweet scent of Wanyin as he presses closer into Wanyin’s embrace. Lan Xichen wants this man in his arms forever. He leans back to kiss Wanyin’s forehead.
“Wanyin, I..” Before he can finish, he hears a scream behind him. They both turn to find a woman happily jumping into her lover’s arms. As the people around send curious stares her way, she excitedly announces, “I’m getting married!”
The crowd oohs and ahh’s as they clap for the young couple’s good fortune. Lan Xichen feels defeated. Of course he wouldn’t be the only one to think about proposing on this auspicious day. But proposing right after that display would seem cheap. The road to marriage was unexpectedly arduous.
Months later, Lan Xichen is ready to try again. He still has the comb he bought from the Qixi festival and he intends to propose with it.
Mornings with Wanyin have quickly become one of Lan Xichen’s favorite times of the day. When Lan Xichen noticed how lethargic the Yunmeng sect leader was in the mornings, he quickly offered his services as Wanyin’s personal hair stylist. He loves helping Wanyin comb his hair, running his fingers through those soft locks before braiding the two sides and tying it all together with Jiang Cheng’s signature purple ribbon.
His plan is to give the comb to Jiang Cheng and ask if Jiang Cheng will let Lan Xichen comb his hair for the rest of their life. He can’t see how anything could possibly ruin this proposal.
When he finally gets a moment alone with Jiang Cheng, it is in the afternoon when Jiang Cheng decides to take a break from sect leader work. As usual, Lan Xichen lights up when he sees Jiang Cheng. He stands up and goes to hug Jiang Cheng.
“You’re being clingy today, Huan-ge” Jiang Cheng laughs. Lan Xichen gives one last squeeze before stepping back.
“Wanyin, I have a gift for you.” Lan Xichen says as he takes out a cloth-covered parcel. He motions for Wanyin to take a seat and he settles down beside him.
“What is it?” Jiang Cheng looks curious.
“Wanyin, I thought about you when I saw this months ago.” He unwraps the comb and holds it out to Wanyin.
“I wanted to wait until a special day to give it to you.” The words are on the tip of his tongue. ‘I want to wake up next to you and comb your hair in the mornings for the rest of my life. Will you be my husband?’ But Jiang Cheng’s next words stop him cold.
“Thank you! How did you know it was my birthday?” Jiang Cheng looks delighted. He leans over to hug Lan Xichen tightly. Lan Xichen is stunned. He hadn’t known. When he leans back, he sees small tears gathering in Jiang Cheng’s eyes.
He remembers all the times Jiang Cheng has brushed off questions about his birthday, stating it was unimportant and that he had never really celebrated it anyway. Lan Xichen leans in to press a chaste kiss to Jiang Cheng’s lips, unwilling to ruin his happiness.
“Happy birthday, my love.”
The next time Lan Xichen sees Jiang Cheng is a month later, when Jiang Cheng is scheduled to fly to Gusu for a meeting with Shufu. Lan Xichen is determined this time. He will become Jiang Wanyin’s betrothed if it kills him. Jiang Cheng sets off from Yunmeng late and arrives so late at night that all he can do is pass out next to Lan Xichen as soon as he arrives. It’s not very proper, but Lan Xichen does not mind.
The next morning, Lan Xichen wakes up next to Jiang Cheng. He takes a moment to stare into his beloved’s face. Five times he had failed to propose. But he can’t stop. He wants to wake up next to this face every day for the rest of his long long life.
Lan Xichen smiles before getting up and starting his morning ritual. He is ending his morning meditation when Jiang Cheng wakes up, right on time. Lan Xichen watches as his lover groggily goes about his own morning routine before plopping down in front of Lan Xichen.
Lan Xichen finds this so delightfully endearing. He’s about to reach for his own comb when Jiang Cheng stops him.
“No. Use this one.” Jiang Cheng hands him the comb that Lan Xichen gifted him on his birthday. There’s a strange feeling tingling inside Lan Xichen. It feels like happiness.
He takes the comb and gets to work, but not before taking a moment to admire Jiang Cheng’s hair. Jiang Cheng’s usual hairstyle has created permanent waves in his hair. It’s so beautiful. Lan Xichen laments the fact that Jiang Cheng never leaves his hair down. But the jealous, possessive side of him is happy that Wanyin’s hair down is a sight saved only for him.
He pushes the comb through Jiang Cheng’s hair, taking extra care to work out the knots. Then he gathers the hair on the side and starts braiding. It’s delicate work, not quite suited to Lan Xichen’s thick fingers, but Lan Xichen cherishes this privilege. He carefully braids both sides and finishes by tying all the hair together with a ribbon. When he’s finished, he presses a light kiss to the crown of Jiang Cheng’s head. Jiang Cheng turns around to press a quick kiss to Lan Xichen’s lips before standing and leaving for his morning meeting with Lan Qiren.
The meeting ends up taking the whole morning. Lan Xichen waits for Jiang Cheng at the pavilion where they usually have tea together. He has been patiently waiting for this moment all day.
“All your disciples must be sick today.” Jiang Cheng says as a greeting as he walks into the pavilion, not even looking at Lan Xichen as he sits.
“They kept making weird faces whenever they saw me! Even those two little ones that always hang around Jin Ling! Your uncle seemed strangely happy though. Was there something on my face?” He turns to ask Lan Xichen. When he finally looks at Lan Xichen, his mouth drops open in shock.
“You…!” He gapes at Lan Xichen.
Lan Xichen chuckles. He must look rather strange to Wanyin right now, with his signature white ribbon missing from his forehead. He reaches for the end of the white ribbon in Jiang Cheng’s hair and brings it up to his lips for a kiss. Jiang Cheng’s wide eyes never leave him.
“The white is so pretty in your hair. It suits you. Marry me?”