Wei Ying was sleeping in Lan Wangji’s bed when he returned to the Jingshi for the night. He hadn’t even realized that Wei Ying was back in Gusu. But it wasn’t really that surprising. Wei Ying had returned to Gusu several times since that first time he had gone off to explore the wide world, and he had often slunk in without any big fanfare – sometimes even in the dead of night (well past curfew). If anyone could slip past the wards unnoticed, it was Wei Ying. And it was not uncommon for him to want to crawl into bed first thing upon his arrival either. Usually Lan Wangji was already in said bed and usually got woken up by an elbow to the face or a knee to the gut.
So, Lan Wangji was used to having Wei Ying in his bed. But usually the only time Wei Ying was in it alone, it was when Lan Wangji extracted himself from a tangle of limbs at the rise of the sun. Now, the sun had only just begun to slip towards the horizon and Wei Ying was spread out face down, upside down on the bed, over top of the sheet and lightly snoring. The result was that it gave Lan Wangji the chance to see him sleep when he was not asleep himself, or in a hurry to dress for the day and begin his work – or when Wei Ying was not passed out due to an injury. Lan Wangji felt like he had been given a gift.
As he observed Wei Ying, he wondered what time he had gotten in and if he had been sleeping for very long. He wondered where Wei Ying had been coming from and if he had stayed in Caiyi first or come straight there. Based on the way that Wei Ying’s travel pack was thrown carelessly on the floor by the door and the way he had just collapsed and passed out, Lan Wangji guessed he had traveled straight through. He hoped Wei Ying was taking care of himself.
Lan Wangji tugged off Wei Ying’s boots and set them by the door, then he pulled the blanket out from under Wei Ying’s prone form and tucked him in as best he could. As he did so, he noticed a mark on Wei Ying’s cheekbone. Lan Wangji sat on the side of the bed and reached out to thumb it away. It was a smudge of something dark. Ink? Dirt? Ash? Lan Wangji stood and walked back out his door to call for water for a bath.
While he waited for the water to arrive, he took down his hair and stripped to sleeping robes. Wei Ying was still sleeping when the water arrived so he set a talisman on it to keep it warm. And, lest he spend the whole night staring at Wei Ying and nothing else, he settled down at his desk with his back purposely to the bed and began to respond to some letters. The messages were mostly requests for one thing or another – the smaller Sects always wanted something from the Chief Cultivator – and he quickly got lost in the monotony of it.
He was midway through reading a more-than-reasonable request from a nearby town for help with putting to rest a spirit trapped in the town’s water well, when he heard the shuffling sounds of Wei Ying waking up and stretching. He glanced over his shoulder and was met with the sight of Wei Ying blinking sleepily at him, warm and soft, from his bed. And that sight alone threatened to yank Lan Wangji’s heart up his throat and out his mouth. But that was nothing new. He’d felt that way when looking at Wei Ying for a long, long time.
“Mm, Lan Zhan, you’re here,” Wei Ying mumbled, rubbing at his nose and sitting up. “Ah! Did I fall asleep while I was waiting for you?”
“Mn. Don’t mind,” Lan Wangji responded. “Called a bath for you.”
“A bath? Mmm, thank you for your hospitality Hanguang-jun,” Wei Ying murmured with a sly wink in Lan Wangji’s direction.
“Clothes are by the tub. I can have yours washed for you tomorrow.”
“Are you calling me dirty?”
Wei Ying laughed lightly and slipped out of the bed and behind the privacy screen. Lan Wangji turned back to his work, marking the request for cultivators as urgent, and tried to ignore the sound of clothes shifting and water splashing. He started packing up his letters for the night and tried not to think about the fact that Wei Ying was naked and wet only a few paces away. When he ran out of things to pack away, he stood to brew some tea.
“Are you hungry?” He called out over his shoulder. “I can get food sent.”
“I ate in town. They have spice there,” Wei Ying’s voice drifted from over the privacy screen.
“Tea or wine?”
“Are you going to drink wine with me Lan Zhan?” He sounded in good cheer.
“If you wish.” Wei Ying’s laughter was like bells. It warmed Lan Wangji more than the steam from the tea.
“Tea is fine.”
Lan Wangji focused on the tea and the way the porcelain teapot felt in his hands – and he didn’t allow his mind to drift to imagining the way that Wei Ying’s skin might feel under his touch. If he was bolder, he might have offered to comb the tangles from Wei Ying’s hair as he bathed. Instead, he brought the tea to the table on a tray and once again set his back to Wei Ying – so that he would not accidentally catch a glimpse of skin without permission (neither his own nor Wei Ying’s). He reached up and straightened his forehead ribbon with a deep and meditative breath.
When Wei Ying finally emerged from the bath, Lan Wangji expected him to sit across from him on the other side of the table. He did not. Instead, he sat next to Lan Wangji, turned away from the table so his back rested against it. He leaned back far enough to be able to look Lan Wangji in the eye and sprawled his legs wide so that they pressed against Lan Wangji’s side. Lan Wangji had also expected Wei Ying to wear the sleeping robes that he had left for him hung over the privacy partition. But, when Lan Wangji turned to look at him, he found that also wasn’t the case.
Instead of taking the robes Lan Wangji had provided him, he had wrapped himself loosely in one of Lan Wangji’s spare outer robes that Lan Wangji had left hanging the night before. It was a delicate, gauzy, slip of a robe, more decorative than functional, and sticking to Wei Ying’s still-wet body it was practically see-through. He hadn’t even tied it properly. It hung so loose at the neck that one side had slipped completely off his shoulder.
Lan Wangji froze still as a statue, his hand raised halfway to offering Wei Ying a cup of tea. For some reason, his mouth tasted like metal. He was aware that he was staring at Wei Ying’s collarbone, but he couldn’t quite manage to make himself look away. Even when Wei Ying reached out and snatched the teacup from his fingertips, he barely blinked – just swallowed around that metal on his tongue.
Wei Ying blew over the rim of his teacup and the steam curled around them like a lover. Lan Wangji watched it travel over that flushed collarbone and touch the places he wanted to touch. Lan Wangji decided that this absolutely could not continue and he reached out to rectify the situation. He pinched the loose fabric between his finger and thumb and he dragged it back up Wei Ying’s shoulder.
He was careful not to directly touch the heated skin. He almost succeeded. He almost escaped without fault. It was Wei Ying who ruined it.
With the hand not holding the teacup, he reached out and caught Lan Wangji’s hand under his own. He pressed Lan Wangji’s hand flat against the bare skin of his neck. Lan Wangji inhaled sharply through his nose as Wei Ying guided their combined hands downward over that deadly collarbone and the flat planes of Wei Ying’s chest, coming to rest over his beating heart. If Lan Wangji had been less distracted by the smooth drag of Wei Ying’s skin, he might have taken a moment to meditate on his gratefulness for that strong and steady heartbeat.
“I used to have that Wen brand here,” Wei Ying mused. “We would have been a matching set – especially with how many times Madam Yu had whipped me with Zidian – but I came back all shiny and new.” Lan Wangji marveled at the fresh unblemished skin. Wei Ying’s robe – Lan Wangji’s robe – slipped back down over his shoulder. “I look like I’ve never had any adventures or done anything daring with all this fresh skin. No marks,” Wei Ying continued, reminding Lan Wangji of a conversation they’d had long ago in a cave. “Ah! Except for that one from Jin Ling,” Wei Ying remembered. “It healed up well though, look.”
He slid Lan Wangji’s hand down his chest, over his ribs, towards his side. Lan Wangji’s hand slipped under the fabric of the loose robe as he did so, opening it up wider the lower their hands went. His fingers tripped over Wei Ying’s nipple on the journey and his eyes scanned over the light dusting of hair that gathered there – and again, lower down. He dared not look lower than the little white line of the scar on Wei Ying’s side. It wasn’t raised at all. His skin was so smooth – except for the way that gooseflesh bloomed along the path their hand traced.
(Lan Wangji wanted to press his mouth to the scar and taste the salt of Wei Ying’s skin.)
“Smooth,” Lan Wangji murmured without meaning too.
“Right?” Wei Ying agreed. “I’m smooth all over. I don’t even have a skinned knee.” He pulled open the robe at his knee with a flourish to show off a bare knee.
Lan Wangji’s eyes flashed to the movement unconsciously and he saw Wei Ying’s leg naked from his ankle to his upper thigh. He quickly averted his eyes to somewhere just to the left of Wei Ying’s ear. His own ears were burning. Out of his peripheral vision, Lan Wangji saw Wei Ying smirk and he tried to think about anything besides how badly he wanted to run his fingers through Wei Ying’s coarse leg hair.
“I –” Lan Wangji paused to clear his throat – and his head. “I am glad you are well.”
“Mmm, I’m being looked after very well, don’t worry,” Wei Ying said, settling in closer to Lan Wangji’s side and sipping his tea. He put on the air of one about to tell a tale. Lan Wangji knew this face on Wei Ying well. “My last night hunt,” he began, “I saved a beautiful lady from a vengeful spirit who in life had been her husband. But it wasn’t a happy marriage, Lan Zhan. He beat her in life and then he beat her in death. I was merciless when I eliminated him. He received no rest from me. And she was very grateful, Lan Zhan.”
Wei Ying put his teacup down. It clunked against the table and Lan Wangji’s teeth clicked together in sympathy.
“She insisted I spend the night. She fed me, and she kept my cups filled with wine, and she drew me a warm bath, and then she drew me to her bed.” Lan Wangji swallowed thickly and his hand twitched under where it was still held pinned under Wei Ying’s own. He wished that he’d taken a sip of tea before the conversation had started. His throat felt very dry. He also wished that the conversation would stop, but Wei Ying went on.
“She stripped me bare – told me she just wanted to check for injury, since I’d risked my health for her. She ran her hands allllll over me.” As he spoke, he slid their tangled hands lower and lower. Lan Wangji did not look, but he could feel where the hair there grew thick beneath his nails and the pads of his fingers. “Do you know what she did next, Lan Zhan?”
Lan Wangji shook his head and then almost whined aloud when Wei Ying’s response was to stop the downward journey of their hands and knock Lan Wangji’s hand aside.
“She climbed into my lap,” Wei Ying said next. He lurched forward as he spoke – matching his storytelling – and swung a leg over Lan Wangji’s lap.
Instinctively, Lan Wangji’s hands reached out to grasp Wei Ying’s thighs. Lan Wangji could say that he had only wanted to steady Wei Ying, to make sure he did not slip, but it would only have been a half-truth. Wei Ying’s hands landed on Lan Wangji’s wrists. Lan Wangji wondered if Wei Ying could feel the way he shuddered under him as Lan Wangji discovered that his hands had come to settle underneath the robe. Wei Ying’s leg hair was unexpectedly soft and thick. Lan Wangji’s own legs were not so fuzzy.
“She treated me very, very well, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying purred, his hands sliding from Lan Wangji’s wrists up his arms to his shoulders. He touched him over his robes, but it felt as hot as if he touched bare skin. “But, do you want to know something, Lan Zhan?”
Lan Wangji nodded, helpless but to agree to anything Wei Ying asked of him when he had his name in his mouth, his hands on his neck, his eyes full of dark promises. Lan Wangji was rewarded with a heartstopping smirk and Wei Ying leaning somehow impossibly closer so that his next words were whispered into the space just below one ear.
“When she kissed me, I dreamt of your lips, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying confided, one of his hands drifting up Lan Wangji’s neck until his palm cupped Lan Wangji’s chin and his thumb pressed firmly against Lan Wangji’s lower lip. Lan Wangji was certain that Wei Ying could feel the rush of air that escaped against that thumb when Lan Wangji could not contain his gasp.
“When she touched me, I imagined your strong sword-callused hands on me.” Lan Wangji’s fingers spasmed, dragging harder against Wei Ying’s skin.
“When she put her fingers in my hair, I thought about the way your fingers pluck your guqin strings, and I wished for you to pluck at my strings.” Wei Ying’s hands found their way to the back of Lan Wangji’s neck, too near but also too far from where his ribbon was tied.
“When I thrust between her thighs,” Wei Ying emphasized the word by rolling his body against Lan Wangji’s clenched abdomen, “I wished that I was between your thighs, Lan Zhan.” Lan Wangji’s sanity was hanging by thread.
“And, when I held her down and fucked her into the floor,” Wei Ying said, suddenly tightening his grip and shoving Lan Wangji backward until he lay on the floor. He had needed to use very little force. At that point, Lan Wangji would have been knocked down by a feather. Wei Ying leaned over him and whispered his next words huskily, “It was you I wanted to make scream my name.”
Lan Wangji shuddered and his tongue felt thick and foreign in his own mouth. He wondered if he was dying. Wei Ying just hovered over him and stared. Lan Wangji waited for him to do or say more, but he didn’t move. Was he done? Lan Wangji wondered. Was he waiting? Waiting for what? For Lan Wangji to scream his name, as he had requested? For Lan Wangji to flip them over and press him down? For Lan Wangji to beg? Was he wary? Was he expecting to be denied? Did he suddenly get shy? Did he regret his words so quickly after he had said them?
Lan Wangji didn’t understand what was happening… so, he licked his dry lips, cleared his throat, and asked.
“Wei Ying, what do you want from me?” He asked, even though his throat was clogged, and his tongue felt like cotton, and his mind was reeling, and his heart was pounding, and his blood was rushing to places unshown. Even with all this, it was the easiest question in the world to speak, because he always wanted to know what he could do to make Wei Ying happiest.
His answer was Wei Ying’s laughter. Wei Ying sat up straight, towering over him now, palms pressed flat to Lan Wangji’s chest for support, his legs like a vice where he straddled Lan Wangji’s awkwardly still-folded legs.
“Lan Zhan only you would ask me that now. Isn’t it obvious? The dastardly Yiling Laozu has come to seduce the Chief Cultivator,” he teased, but then he stilled, his smirk dropped away, and he grew serious. “I want you Lan Zhan,” he spoke plainly. “I like you better than anyone else and I want to be with you. So, you need to tell me if I’m barking up the wrong tree here.”
“You hate dogs,” Lan Wangji said nonsensically, his brain for some reason focusing on the least important part of what Wei Ying had said.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying pouted cutely, “focus. I’m trying to confess my feelings. I thought by now you’d have me tied to your bed –” Lan Wangji’s mind helpfully snapped from dogs to that image and it felt like someone splashed him with a basin of boiling water “– but you’re just laying there letting me do whatever I want. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s very sexy having you willingly subject yourself to my whims, but I’m starting to get nervous that you don’t feel the same and that I have just catastrophically messed up our friendship, which happens to be just about the only good thing I have in my life.”
To Lan Wangji it was utterly unacceptable that Wei Ying think for even the span of a single heartbeat that Lan Wangji didn’t love him, didn’t want to be with him, didn’t want him. He didn’t hesitate to make moves to rectify the situation. He simply tightened his grip on Wei Ying’s thighs and tugged Wei Ying forward, off his legs, and onto his lap.
They both groaned.
“Oh,” Wei Ying breathed with wide eyes. “You – you’re...”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji grunted in agreement, finding words difficult at that moment.
“Lan Zhan, I’m going to kiss you now.” Wei Ying slid his shaking hands from Lan Wangji’s chest to cup his face and leaned down.
“Yes,” Lan Wangji pleaded.
He shifted a hand from Wei Ying’s leg to slide it into Wei Ying’s loose hair and the other slipped further back around Wei Ying’s strong thigh. He raised his knees from a crossed position to a sort-of-bridge position, trying to cage Wei Ying more firmly against his lap. And – even with no free hand to brace himself – he lifted up from the floor to curl his body closer and meet Wei Ying halfway.
For all Wei Ying’s earlier confidence and bluster, the first kiss was soft and timid – a mere press of his lips to Lan Wangji’s own.
But, oh, it burned. Still it burned. It sent fire through Lan Wangji’s veins and a fever to his tongue. It was not unlike the time he’d accidentally ingested some of Wei Ying’s cooking, but far more enjoyable. If Wei Ying’s congee were like his kiss then Lan Wangji could perhaps grow to enjoy the taste of spice.
Slowly, their kisses became more sure. Sucking and biting against each other’s teeth and tongue like they could somehow swallow each other’s soul. Mouths gasped open, hot and wet. Lan Wangji was thirsty – parched – for Wei Ying’s kiss, for the sting of his bite, for the taste of Wei Ying’s spit on his tongue. He had waited so long. He wanted more, more, more, more, more,
His mind blanked to a bright white light of need and arousal.
And it was for that reason that the sound which he made when Wei Ying pulled away from the kiss and sat up out of his reach was practically a whimper of pain. Distraught, he slapped a hand down on the floor behind him and leveraged himself up to chase after Wei Ying’s lips. He banged his shin on the table in the process and it was perhaps only that brief flicker of pain which allowed him to clear his mind enough to speak.
“Why did you stop?” He panted through the heady fog, “I thought you wanted to fuck me into the floor.”
Wei Ying yelped, turned a fetching shade of pink, and scrambled up from Lan Wangji’s lap – dodging Lan Wangji’s knees as they tried to close around him. He settled himself cross-legged on the table, close but far too far away.
Helpless to do anything else, Lan Wangji re-crossed his own legs and stared up at Wei Ying from where he sat on the floor. He watched Wei Ying studiously try to avoid meeting Lan Wangji’s gaze by playing with the hemline of his borrowed robe – which was now mostly pooled around Wei Ying’s elbows and was only successful in covering his forearms and the shadowed space between his legs which those arms now carefully – demurely, bashfully, modestly – blocked from view.
“Lan Zhan, I broke a rule,” Wei Ying confessed, after a moment.
“You have broken several, and often,” Lan Wangji agreed, not entirely sure why it was pertinent now to bring this up. Rule-breaking had never bothered Wei Ying before, and his ruling breaking hadn’t bothered Lan Wangji in many, many years. A confession was not needed when there were other things that Wei Ying could be doing with his mouth.
“I told a lie,” he persisted.
“Are you asking for punishment?” Lan Wangji asked. He was unclear why this question caused Wei Ying to turn even more red and to choke on air, but he didn’t mind the reaction. He watched the apple of Wei Ying’s throat bob; he wanted to bite it.
“Maybe later,” Wei Ying squeaked before clearing his throat. He finally titled his chin back up to properly look Lan Wangji in the eye again. Lan Wangji forced himself to pay attention to his words, and not the pink swollen nature of his mouth. “Truth is…” Wei Ying hedged, “there was no woman. Or, there was, but nothing happened. I turned her down.”
Lan Wangji knew that since he had never made his own feelings clear he’d had no right to be jealous of this imaginary lover and, had such a woman truly existed, he would have tried to be happy for the fact that Wei Ying had received pleasure. But knowing such things logically and actually feeling them were two different beasts. And, Lan Wangji felt a guilty flush of relief at the news that Wei Ying’s tale had been a fiction.
“You did?” He asked, indulging his possessive wish to hear the words again.
“I did,” Wei Ying confirmed. “When she offered all those other things, all I could think about was how I’d rather be doing them with you. So, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been bluffing, Lan Zhan, and I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Wei Ying was cute when being bashful, Lan Wangji thought, trying to bite down on a smile.
“Wei Ying,” he said, when he felt he could control his voice well enough so as to not embarrass himself. “I have things to confess too.”
“The truth is that I also do not know what I am doing. I also preferred to wait, and I also thought only of you.”
“Really? Even when I wasn’t… here?”
“Even then,” Lan Wangji said. “And, in the spirit of honesty,” he continued in a more light-hearted tone, “I would prefer for our first time together to be in a bed rather than on the hard floor with my legs stuck under the table.”
Wei Ying’s smile returned on the breath of a laugh.
“To bed then?” He asked. Lan Wangji nodded in grateful agreement. “My seduction was a big failure, huh?”
“Not true. It was simply unnecessary. You do not need to seduce someone who is already yours.”
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying gasped, incredulous. “You have such a thick face!”
“Not so thick that I will ever be able to wear that robe again in public.”
“Ah, you liked that trick?”
Lan Wangji decided that it was his turn to do some seduction. He picked Wei Ying up easily and carried him to the bed. The robe fell to the floor halfway there.