It was the fourth time in two weeks that a black coffee got slid onto his table by the waitress. He hadn’t even gotten the chance to order, let stand finish, the drink he really wanted. From a table near the windows, the same guy was smiling at him obnoxiously. He wasn’t trying to be secretive about ordering him drinks, that was for sure. He gave a small wave. Once again, there were books laying in front of him but Lan Wangji hadn’t seen him read a single word. He wondered if the other was actually sitting here to study, or to feel better about getting distracted.
He looked at the coffee in front of him. Not taking what was given to you was definitely not something he liked to do. He took pride in being thankful. It was just that the stranger’s act confused him. Why would anyone buy a stranger a drink? On top of that, black coffee was really… not something he particularly enjoyed. Had he given the other the idea that he did? Did the stranger maybe mistake him for someone else?
Lan Wangji looked up from the coffee, at the other man again. The other man had an empty coffee cup in front of him. Ah– so he himself did like black coffee. Maybe he enjoyed it so much that he couldn’t imagine anyone disliking it? The way he seemed to sway and dance a little in his chair, excitement obviously on his face, implied the same.
As the waitress walked past him, he nodded her towards him. She came up to his table with a bright smile. “What can I do for you?”
“Can you bring the man near the window, the one in black, a cup of white tea with some honey?”
The waitress smiled, probably because she knew the stranger had been buying him coffee for a week now. “Should I give him a message?”
He shook his head calmly. He hoped that the other would understand him without explanation. He placed the black coffee aside, and opened his own books. He could feel the other man’s gaze on him from time to time, which was distracting. Now that he’d given the man some new kind of attention, one that had him participating in this crazy idea, he suddenly felt nervous about it all. He wasn’t good at reading people. That wasn’t something he was usually ashamed of but he’d rather– avoid confusing contact like this.
He tried not to watch the waitress as she walked past him, putting the white tea on top of the stranger’s table. He repeated in his mind don’t watch him, don’t look up.
Turns out, he didn’t even have to.
“Green tea, really?” the man called out to him.
He didn’t feel like raising his voice, so he hoped the other heard him when he said: “It’s white tea.”
The other laughed brightly. “Unbelievable.”
He didn’t reply. There was nothing unbelievable about white tea.
When he didn’t reply. The other kept talking. “Who drinks white tea?”
The other stared at him, confused. He got up and walked a little closer to his table. Lan Wangji sat up a bit straighter. “You bought it for me , though. Did you expect me to like it?” He seemed genuinely curious.
Lan Wangji shrugged.
“I don’t, by the way, but I appreciate the sentiment.” The other man grinned again. He couldn’t help but feel like that smile was beautiful. He wondered how anyone could smile so brightly because of such minor things. “It’s really kind of you, really. Hey, uhm, can I si–”
“We can exchange.”
“Our drinks. You get the black coffee, I get the tea.”
The other man stared at him with wide eyes, for a second, then he laughed. “You! You ordered me this so that you could have your tea?” To be honest, the other man should have noticed him not drinking coffee before deciding on ordering him anything. “You are really something! Yeah sure, we can switch.”
The bright man walked back to his own table and brought the white tea to Lan Wangji. “So is this your favourite?”
Lan Wangji nodded while picking up the coffee and holding it out to the other man. “Oh, do you mind if I sit? What’s your name by the way?”
A nervous feeling shot through him. This was… not going the way he’d wanted this to go. Why would this stranger want to sit next to him? To have a chat? To have their drinks together in silence? Neither one of those options seemed appealing, no matter how bright the stranger’s laugh was. “No. I’m busy.”
“Awh, you probably don’t even need to study–”
“I am busy. Please enjoy your drink.”
The other man breathed out a complaint. “Okay, no need to get angry.”
“Hmh, okay. I’m Wei Wuxian by the way.”
“Uhm– okay, should I–?”
“Enjoy your coffee.” Though, by now, it might have become cold already.
He had expected that to be the end of it. Having seen the look in the other man’s eyes, he should have known that it was definitely not. At most, when he walked into the coffee shop, he had expected a cup of tea on his table.
But no drink was at his table, no drinks were brought to him.
It had almost seemed like nothing was going on, until he looked through the coffee shop.
At his usual place, sure enough, he saw Wei Wuxian staring at him with a mischievous smile on his face. On top of Wei Wuxian’s own table was a big glass full of steaming hot white tea. Lan Wangji stared at the glass, and wondered if this man was stupid. Why the hell was he ordering himself something he didn’t want? Why was he wasting good drinks, with that teasing smile on his lips?
While Lan Wangji pushed away the thought that Wei Wuxian’s smile was pretty, he got out his books. He was going to ignore the other the best he could. If the other was trying to annoy him or whatever, he could do it by himself–
He glanced up at Wei Wuxian, who seemed distracted by something that was happening outside. Then, at the cup of his favourite tea, completely untouched, going to waste – ”What can I get you, sir?” A waitress asked, standing next to his table with a small notepad.
He tried not to sigh as he said: “A black coffee, please.” He could kick himself for it. Hadn’t his uncle thought him better than to carelessly get caught up in weird things? Just… something inside of him found it exciting. It wasn’t much, but ordering each other drinks felt exciting.
Maybe he was the stupid one.
When the coffee had been placed on top of his table, and when he’d kindly thanked the waitress, he walked up to Wei Wuxian’s table. He placed the cup on top of it. “Don’t waste drinks.” He said.
Wei Wuxian grinned up at him. “Oh, I’m definitely not wasting them.”
Lan Wangji didn’t exactly get what he meant by that, but he guessed that they weren’t wasting their drinks anymore. He still felt kind of sorry for those first three coffee’s that had disappeared into the drain. “Enjoy your coffee.” He said, ready to turn around.
“Wait, take my tea.” Wasn’t that his tea now? Or maybe it had always been.
Lan Wangji took the tea, luckily still warm, from the stranger's hands. He hummed to thank him, and then got ready to turn around. “Hey, can I get your name this time?”
Lan Wangji looked at him for a second, the tea warming his hands. The other man was smiling excitedly, as if getting his name was one of the most fun things he’d done all week. As if it would make him happy.
Though it definitely didn’t matter.
“Lan Wangji,” he answered.
“Oh, that's a really beautiful–” He turned around towards his own table, walked away from Wei Wuxian. Something inside of him felt as warm as the tea. He didn’t really want to think about it.
From then on, most of their visits went like that. They switched it up a bit. Or, well, Wei Wuxian did. On some days, there’d be a cup of white tea standing on his table as soon as he sat down. He’d order Wei Wuxian a coffee, then. On other days, a cup of coffee would be placed on his table. On those days he talked to Wei Wuxian, even if it was just for a little while. He wondered how Wei Wuxian chose what drink to get him. He wondered if Wei Wuxian had started coming to the coffeeshop on certain days, at certain times, just like he had. He knew when to expect Wei Wuxian. He started looking forward to it.
On one day, when he got the chance to order for Wei Wuxian, he ordered some cake to go with it. He knew he was getting completely swept away in Wei Wuxian’s game, by then, and he felt a little ashamed for it. He was definitely putting too much thought into the other’s playfulness. The amazing grin he got when Wei Wuxian got that cake, though, was completely worth it. He didn’t mind getting swept away. He’d never been swept away before. All the contact he’d ever tried to have had been tiring, slow, complicated. It was a miracle he got swept away by Wei Wuxian’s excitement, and though he knew it was temporary, he couldn’t bear to put a stop to it anymore.
It was easy for him to communicate through giving, he realized. Besides that, he knew that Wei Wuxian did most of the talking, he knew what to expect from the other, even if what he expected was sometimes loud and shameless. Effortless. Seeing Wei Ying was effortless like ordering your favourite drink is supposed to be. Almost as if it’s a second nature.
“Where are you going?” His brother asked when they once again couldn't walk home together after college. They usually ate around six but Lan Wangji had asked him if they could eat later so that he could go to the coffee shop beforehand.
“In the coffee shop,” Lan Xichen added.
His brother smiled. “Any reason you’re going at such an odd time?”
“It’s not odd,” he said. His brother knew him better than that, though. He didn’t like breaking his routine over nothing but… Wei Wuxian had been in the coffee shop at this time. He didn’t want to waste a chance to see him.
A silence passed between them, not uncomfortable, but definitely heavy.
He was the first one to give in. “I’ve been…” How to put it? What he and Wei Wuxian had been doing was not something he could explain easily. “Talking to somebody.”
His brother’s eyes softened. “Oh, that’s good.” Lan Xichen smiled excitedly. No, this was definitely not good. “Why won’t you bring them home, hm? You won’t bother me. I’d love to meet them.”
“It’s– it’s not like that.”
“But–” His brother lifted his head to the side a little, like he often did when thinking. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve been seeing them in this coffee shop for weeks now. It can’t be weird to ask, right?”
“We–” He looked into the nothing, away from his brother. How could he explain that he hadn’t actually met up with Wei Wuxian? They weren’t going on dates. They weren’t studying together. They, on most days, weren’t even chatting. They bought each other drinks. He looked at Wei Wuxian with shameless interest. Wei Wuxian laughed at him a lot, as if Lan Wangji made him happy. “It’s not like that.” He said, again.
He’d been sitting in the coffee shop for at least twenty minutes and the coffee he’d ordered Wei Wuxian was definitely cold by now. The waitress glanced at him, wondering if she could just take away the cup yet. They knew about him and Wei Wuxian by now, luckily, because else the lonesome cup would have been even weirder.
It was a particularly cold day. Outside the wind was blowing aggressively and once in a while rain fell down against the pavement. Maybe Wei Wuxian hadn’t felt like going outside. That was perfectly reasonable. Of course it was alright if Wei Wuxian didn’t show up. He had every right to. This thing they had going on wasn’t an appointment or a date.
He nervously looked at the book in front of him. He himself hadn’t ordered a drink but he really– really should do–
The door slammed open loudly, against the wall. He heard an “Oh shit, sorry– ah fuck– the wind.” And then a laugh. Trying to close the door, stood Wei Wuxian, in just a sweater and without a coat or bag. His hair was wet.
Lan Wangji couldn’t keep his eyes off him. He felt the urge to get a blanket from somewhere, just to wrap Wei Wuxian up in it and hold him. Of course he couldn’t. So he stared.
Wei Wuxian shyly entered the shop, as if he had done something wrong. He looked at the place where he usually sat, at the lonesome cup standing on his table, and a sad look appeared on his face.
Lan Wangji hated that look. He wanted to wipe it away, whatever it would take.
For a few seconds, Wei Wuxian stood still in the middle of the shop. Then eventually he decided against sitting at his usual table. He nervously walked up to Lan Wangji. That was weird, he wasn’t usually a nervous person. He was the kind of person to laugh, to order strangers drinks, to give out his name at first meetings.
“Wei Wuxian,” he found himself saying, his voice giving away his worry.
The other stood still in front of his table. “Can I sit?”
Lan Wangji nodded silently. Wei Wuxian sat down in front of him, for the first time since they started this whole thing. He glanced at the cup at his usual table, frowned. “I’m sorry for wasting that.” He said.
Stupid. He was being supid. “Don’t worry about it.”
“I– I don’t have any money with me today, so I can’t repay you.”
“It’s not about repaying.”
Wei Wuxian looked up at him. “You’re right, sorry.” He really really wanted the other to stop saying he was sorry. He wanted the other to feel warm and at ease, like Wei Wuxian had made him feel too.
He glanced at a waitress, who came walking up to him. “Can I have a white tea, coffee and a piece of carrot cake?”
The waitress nodded. “Two forks?”
Oh. Oh, right, they were sitting together now. He–
“Yes please,” Wei Wuxian said. A hint of his usual grin was back. That was good, he liked that on him.
As soon as the waitress left, Lan Wangji pulled his scarf, a big creme coloured one, out of his coat and handed it to Wei Wuxian. “Put this around your shoulders.”
Wei Wuxian, surprisingly, listened to him. He took off his wet sweater, placing it on a chair to dry, and pulled the scarf around his shoulders like it was a blanket. He smiled shyly. “You’re so good to me, Lan Wangji. I’m sorry for being late today.”
Wei Wuxian shrugged awkwardly. “Y’know.”
“I do not.”
“I– I had a fight with my brother about– well, it’s not important– but he told me to leave and I kind of– did, angrily. I’m just stupid, I didn’t take my coat or bag, and I didn’t want to go back inside. Then it started storming and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get you a drink so I was kind of– doubting if I’d be able to come. Making you wait made me feel even worse, though, but– yeah– I’m just really stupid.”
“Wei Wuxian is not stupid.”
The other smiled brightly. “You’re too good to me.” For a second Wei Wuxian fell into silence, then he glanced up. “Hey, you can say Wei Ying, if you want, hm? We’re close, right? I mean– we’re– I feel like we are.”
“Lan Zhan. You can call me that as well.”
Wei Ying’s face lit up beautifully. He understood what he was saying; he did feel like they were close. Their drinks were placed on their table, and Wei Ying put his hands around his cup right away, smiling because of the warmth. His cheeks were slowly getting some colour which was very pretty on him.
“How was your day, hm, Lan Zhan?”
“Fine. Had a music class before this.”
“Really? I’d really like to hear you play. What instrument do you play?”– Wei Ying, as expected, kept the conversation going. It felt easy to answer Wei Ying’s questions. At some point he even pulled out his phone to let Wei Ying listen to some of his music, only to get completely overwhelmed by compliments right after.
They talked, and kept talking. A waiter came up to them for second drinks and Lan Wangji had been at the point of asking for another coffee and another tea when Wei Ying said: “Wait– Lan Zhan, I can’t pay you back.”
He felt disappointment settle in his stomach. Had they been talking for too long? Wei Ying had seemed interested in all his answers, and had done most of the talking. Maybe they were going too fast. “Money doesn’t matter… but if you want to go ho–” he said, just to be sure.
“No!” Wei Ying glanced at the waitress. “Okay, one more, then.” Wei Ying, though, started shifting nervously once the waitress had left. He started explaining awkwardly, as if he was making a joke. “My brother, eh– got mad because I had to ask him for money… to buy coffee here.”
Oh. He hadn’t even thought about that. He hadn’t thought about how much all of this was costing at all. He’d never had to worry about things like that. “I’m sorry.”
“What? No– no it’s not your fault.” Wei Ying smiled brightly. “Really, it’s not.”
Lan Wangji nodded slightly. Maybe it was not, but it did mean that this would come to an end.
“It’s my fault for lying, you know. Or for borrowing money at that. My sister didn’t mind, but my brother called me a ‘dumb fuck’ which was kind of unessecairy but a little true too.” He chuckled lightly. “Still, not your fault at all.”
“I can pay for you,” He hoped he didn’t seem too desperate.
Wei Wuxian shifted. “No, Lan Zhan. I can’t take that.”
Oh. He guessed that that was right, they weren’t that close. This kind of thing was only temporary, he knew that from the start. What had he expected, for them to buy each other drinks for years? Of course not. It was not meant to–
“Can I get your phone number, though? Then I can text you if I can’t make it or something like that. You know, we could also meet somewhere else, if you wouldn’t mind that. I know you like doing your work here but I–” Wei Ying stopped talking when Lan Wangji took out his phone, unlocked it, and handed it to Wei Ying. “Really?” The other grinned brightly. “I thought that maybe I was overstepping or something like that.”
“I like to think we’re close,” He repeated Wei Ying’s words.
The other had given him a lot of bright grins, but the one these words earned was definitely the brightest one so far. It struck right through Lan Wangji’s heart. The sight of it would be stuck in his memory forever.
Wei Ying kept looking at him, a light shade of red in his neck and on his cheeks. Lan Wangi couldn’t help but stare back, though he felt awfully aware of doing so. Wei Ying was really something else.
“Excuse me! Your drinks.” The waitress next to them said kindly.
Wei Ying replied before his brain could catch up. “Right, eh– thank you!”
He looked up at his brother, who was definitely looking at him as if they were about to have ‘ the talk’. Except, they were way too old for that and his brother definitely wouldn’t.
“Since when do we own a french press?” Oh, that. He’d seen it in a shop window while walking home from university. It was a beautiful french press too. Most of it was made of glass, with details made from bamboo and gold. When he’d bought it, the cassiere had asked him if he wanted some coffee to go with it. He’d gotten overwhelmed with all the different kinds of coffee, and eventually went home with dark roasts from three different countries.
“Three days.” He answered honestly.
Or maybe he should have said: since Wei Ying started messaging me all of his cute emoticons, since he started sending selfies when he’s bored, and since he dropped that, maybe, they could drink coffee at one of their homes next time.
Or three days. Both of them were the truth.
“Should I be expecting a friend of yours over? You haven’t been going to that coffee shop as much lately.” That much was true. He’d only seen Wei Ying once since he admitted to not having any money. He said his sister had given him some money because she had felt bad about his brother kicking him out. He had also forgotten to return the scarf Lan Wangji had borrowed him, but Lan Wangji couldn’t bring himself to mind. He hoped Wei Ying wore the scarf, so that it would smell like him once he did return it.
He cursed himself for thinking such shameful things about his friend. That didn’t stop the thoughts from coming, though.
“Or is this person, perhaps, more than just a friend?”
“That’s not their intention.”
That had his brother’s attention. “What’s your intention?”
He shrugged. He intended not to lose Wei Ying, no matter how weird their relationship had started off. He didn’t dare to wish more than that.
“Lan Wangji, if you like them you should be honest about that.”
“It’s not like that.”
“Then what is it like?”
He looked at his brother for a second, but didn’t have an answer. Just slightly he shrugged, before passing Lan Xichen to walk towards his own room. He was just buying coffee for someone. It didn’t have to be much more than that. He enjoyed it that way.
He had watched four tutorials on youtube, his brother laughing because of it, and now he was definitely ready. When he heard a knock on the door he straightened up and walked towards the door as slow as he could. His brother was looking at him meaningfully, from the other side of the room.
Wei Ying, of course, was smiling excitedly when Lan Wangji opened the door. “Lan Zhan! Hey! This is such a cool place, it’s so light and big.” Wei Ying kicked off his shoes near the door. “Do you live here by yourself?”
“Hm, with my brother.” Lan Wangji said as he nodded towards the other side of the room, where his brother had already gotten up.
Lan Xichen bowed lightly, smiling. “I’m Lan Xichen. I was looking forward to meeting you.”
“Oh, really?” Wei Ying grinned at Lan Wangji. “Hm, you talk about me? I kind of can’t imagine you chatting away, but I guess that it’s different when you’re with your brother.”
Lan Wangji, not exactly feeling like watching the look on his brother’s face any longer, walked into the kitchen without answering Wei Ying.
Wei Ying followed him without question. “Ha, all my brother does is yell at me for being stupid. You want to switch brother’s like we switch drinks?” Wei Ying laughed.
Lan Wangji couldn’t help but smile too. He definitely wouldn’t enjoy having a brother who yells all the time. And who, if he’s not mistaking, kicked his own brother out of the house without a coat. He did remember Wei Ying speaking fondly of his sister, so he said: “I’ll exchange him for your sister.”
Wei Ying jokingly and dramatically widened his mouth and eyes. “Lan Zhan! How dare you! No way!”
He smiled and put the water boiler on. He’d been, to say the least, afraid it would be awkward to have Wei Ying over. Of course, he had once again underestimated Wei Ying’s way of making him feel at peace. He could do this again, definitely. He got out his brand new french press and then opened the pack of coffee.
“Besides, my sister is already taken–” Lan Wangji almost dropped the coffee all over the kitchen floor. He caught himself, luckily. Which didn’t stop Wei Ying from laughing loudly at him, so hard that he needed to catch his breath. “Oh my god, your face!”
“I–” Lan Wangji looks at Wei Ying in horror. “I wouldn’t.”
Somewhere, he got the feeling Wei Ying knew that. Wei Ying stills pulled a dramatically offended face. “Are you implying she’s not pretty?”
Wei Ying just started laughing loudly again, waving at him as if Lan Wangji should give him more time. “I know. I know, sor–”
“Oh!” Wei Ying excitedly said, like he always did when Lan Wangji gave away something about himself. It felt bigger than that, though. It felt as if a weight had fallen off his shoulders and nestled into the pit on his stomach. It ached. He realized that he wants Wei Ying to think more of it. “Well, I won’t have to worry about my sister then.”
You never had to worry about your sister, Lan Wangji thought. I already like someone, he almost wanted to say. I like you. He said none of these things. He busied himself with the coffee. He took the special coffee spoon the girl from the shop had given him and scooped two spoons of coffee into the french press.
Wei Ying watched him intensely.
“I’m surprised you have coffee, actually. Does your brother drink it?”
“No. No one in my family.”
Wei Ying grinned. “Did you get this for me?”
He felt heat rising into his neck. “I couldn’t ask you over for coffee without coffee,” he said honestly. He didn’t see the point in lying about it. It would have been weird if Wei Ying would have come to his house only to find nothing to drink, right?
“But this one is so fancy! You should have just gotten instant coffee or something.”
“I read online that no one likes that.”
Wei Ying beamed at him. Lan Wangji looked back seriously. Everyone online had definitely been very clear about their distaste for instant coffee. They’d called it ‘the devil of drinks’ and ‘ the absolute last resort.’
“You’re so you, Lan Zhan.”
He poured water into the french press, put the lid back on top of it, and kept it that way. He didn’t answer Wei Ying, mainly because he wouldn’t know what to answer. Being ‘ so him’ was hardly a compliment.
“You’re amazing,” Wei Ying adds.
He glanced at Wei Ying, his fingers tingling. Wei Ying, by now, had sat down on top of his kitchen table and Lan Wangji could barely mind. He had other things to think about. “So is Wei Ying,”He replies, turning back to the coffee. He pushed the button down slowly. Do this very carefully, one tutorial had said, because the coffee might splash up, causing burns. It gave him time to calm his heart, luckily.
“How did I deserve someone this kind, hm?” Wei Ying laughed brightly. “Can’t believe I annoyed you into taking such good care of me.”
Lan Wangji, with a hand he could barely keep from shivering, poured Wei Ying a cup of coffee. He picked up the cup and handed it to Wei Ying. Wei Ying smiled brightly as he placed his cold hands around the white cup.
“You deserve good care.”
It started raining while they sat in front of the window in the living room. Wei Ying had brought the entire french press with him, and kept pouring himself coffee every time he finished a cup. Wei Ying gets distracted easily, as he is by the rain right now, Lan Wangji could tell. He wondered if Wei Ying is the kind of man to enjoy everything to the fullest, from every cup of coffee to every last drop of rain. He studied the other man while he watched the rain fall. He listened closely while the other told him all kinds of stories about people he doesn’t know. Lan Wangji wondered if he’d have more days like this one. If he could get warmth like this in his life permanently.
Wei Ying asked him for coffee again, after that, keeps on asking him. They met in the coffeeshop, a few times when Wei Ying had money, but they also met at the park and at his apartment. When they’d go somewhere else, Lan Wangji would bring the both of them some take away drinks. Wei Ying’d say that he shouldn’t have, but every single time he’d breathe in the coffee as if he hadn’t had anything to drink in months. After that first sip he’d always close his eyes and then he'd sigh. Sometimes he’d tell Lan Wangji: “You're the best.”
Lan Wangji kept on bringing him coffee, just to hear that. He enjoyed not arriving empty handed. He liked having a first thing to say ( ‘Here you go’). It was easy. It felt warm. It slowly became a big part of his daily routine.
Eventually Wei Ying invited him to his own apartment. The other had mentioned living with his brother and sister, and Lan Wangji had almost forgotten how hard meeting strangers was until he realized this. He had gone into the city to get a small present for them, which was nothing more than the right thing to do. His brother had calmed him down a little bit, before he'd left. He’d said that Wei Ying really seemed to like him, and that this wasn’t about other people.
It wasn’t the first time Lan Xichen had to calm him about such things (but how he always noticed Lan Wangji’s discomfort was still a mystery). When they were younger Lan Xichen had told him that being quiet didn’t mean that he would be bad at making friends, it just meant he had to wait for someone to reach out and understand. His brother had been right that time, so Lan Wangji tried to trust his brother’s words once again.
Wei Ying opened the door in slightly more casual clothes than usual, and grinned brightly. Right away, he stepped aside for Lan Wangji to enter. “Lan Zhan,” he said excitedly. “You look nice!” He had made an effort. He could feel heat rise to his neck.
“Hm,” he nodded, thankfully. “I brought cake from the shop.”
Wei Ying laughed happily. “The carrot one?”
“You know that’s my favourite, hm?” He did.
Wei Ying pulled him towards the living room, sat him down on the couch. Their house wasn’t as bright as his own, but it was a cozy space. They had a lot of plants all over the room and on the wall there were a lot of paintings and pictures. He saw Wei Ying standing next to his siblings on one, all dressed up for some kind of party. “I got something to greet your siblings,” he said. There was no need to be nervous, he kept telling himself. It definitely didn’t help, though.
“Oh!” Wei Ying grinned. “You’re too kind! Wait one second.” He walked towards the hallway and then yelled loudly: “Jiang Chen! Jiejie! Come to the living room!” With that, he turned around and gave him a bright grin. Lan Wangji was left staring at him as he walked towards the kitchen, probably to get their drinks.
Lan Wangji stared at the window, for a while. It had started raining softly. He turned when he heard another person walk in. Wei Ying’s sister, most likely.
“Oh,” She said calmly. “I didn’t know we had a visitor. Wei Ying never tells me anything." She giggled. "I’m Jiang Yanli.”
Lan Wangji stood up, bowed lightly. “Lan Wangji.” As she smiled at him, he moved to his bag and got out the bag of his favourite white tea. Wei Ying had mentioned her enjoying tea, and had wondered if she’d like Lan Wangji’s tea. It seemed like a logical present. “I brought this for you,” He said as he held out the bag to her.
She took it with a soft smile on her face. That smile reminded him of Wei Ying in his softest moments, when he smiled as if no one was looking.
Jiang Yanli sat down on a chair in front of the couch he was sitting on. “A-Xian told us the world about you! He said you’re always too kind!” She laughed.
“He also said that you drink nothing but white and green tea. I guess that this must really good, then." She nodded at the bag in her hands. "I’m excited that I’ll get to try it!”
At that, Wei Wuxian walked into the living room again. He was holding some coffee and a small pot of green tea. “Jiang Yanli!” he called out. “Lan Zhan brought us cake too. It’s the best cake in town, I swear.”
“Really? Let’s try some, then.”
Except, that’s not exactly what happens.
Another man walks into the living room, a slight frown on his face. Jiang Cheng, Lan Wangji realizes. Wei Ying’s younger brother. His brother who kicked him out without a coat, and who complained about all of Wei Ying’s habits. Still, his friend always seemed happy to talk of his brother. They definitely loved one another. Lan Wangji really didn’t want to mess up his first impression.
He stood up, to greet Jiang Cheng.
Jiang Cheng walked up to them, gave him a short nod, but didn't say a word yet.
“Jiang Cheng!” Wei Ying piped up. “This is Lan Zhan! He brought a piece of cake especially for you. Come sit.”
Jiang Cheng looked, though Lan Wangji might have been reading him wrong, like he’d do anything rather than sitting down. He stared at Wei Ying, a bit annoyed, and sighed.
“What?” Wei Ying scoffed.
“Can I talk to you?” Jiang Cheng replied.
Jiang Yanli looked between them nervously, but not yet worried. Lan Wangji kept his eyes on Wei Ying. He didn’t want his favourite person in discomfort.
“Yeah, sure. What’s up?” Wei Ying answered, typically.
“Without your–” Jiang Cheng vaguely gestured at Lan Wangji. He wondered if he should be offended or not. Actually he– he had a hard time figuring out what was going on at all.
He didn’t get the chance to figure it out; Jiang Cheng turned towards their bedrooms again. Wei Ying mumbled a quick, ‘Asshole. I’m sorry, Lan Zhan, be right back.”, and then he left the room as well.
He stared at the hallway, and then looked back at Jiang Yanli.
Jiang Yanli who was too kind. Who gave him more tea and kept on chatting to him even when he didn’t answer. Who’d probably gotten used to ignoring the distant yelling. Jiang Yanli, who definitely noticed his panic and all of his nerves. Who looked so relieved when Wei Ying walked back into the room, and who then said something about leaving the two of them alone.
And then the two of them, him and Wei Ying, sat in that room alone.
Wei Ying didn’t say much.
He gave Lan Wangji another cup of tea and started a conversation he failed to keep going. Lan Wangji couldn’t help but wonder what had just happened. What had happened to get Wei Ying, the person who he thought had endless honest smiles, so down.
He realized that, all of this time, this entire friendship has been Wei Ying’s doing. He’d be unable to make Wei Ying feel better, he couldn’t possibly keep a conversation. He couldn’t be like Wei Ying, even if he wanted to. He couldn’t be the person to reach out and understand.
He wished he could just reach out, hold Wei Ying’s cheeks until there was a smile on his lips again. He looked at his hands instead. “Maybe I should get going.” He mumbled. It felt weird, because they usually stayed together until one of them really (really, really) had to leave.
“Eh–” Wei Ying looked up at him, smiling awkwardly. “Yeah, maybe.”
He left the cake, untouched, on the table.
“Lan Wangji?” His brother called when he walked into their apartment. Lan Wangji ignored him, closing the front door silently. “Weren’t you with Wei Wuxian? I thought you’d be late.”
He walked through their living room, still ignoring his brother.
Lan Xichen stood up from the couch, stopping him. “Lan Wangji, what’s wrong?”
He raised his head, breathed in deeply, and then looked at his hands. He didn’t know how to explain it. He didn’t even understand what had happened.
“I think I have been a bother, again.” He answered.
He’d been a bother before, because people have always had a hard time understanding him. They try, sometimes, but it usually just makes things worse.
“I do not think Wei Wuxian would think of you as such.” His brother answered. “Did he say something to hurt you?”
Lan Wangji shrugged. “His brother did not like me.”
His brother frowned. “Lan Wangji. I’m sorry for asking so bluntly, but you would like to date Wei Wuxian, right?”
He stared at his brother.
Oh, dating. Yes, something like that. He couldn’t imagine anything like that could possibly happen but– oh– he wouldn’t complain about it either. He liked Wei Ying like he had never liked anyone and– dating.
Lan Xichen smiled before he got the chance to answer. “Brothers can get a little protective when their siblings start dating,” Lan Xichen chuckled, “I’m sure it’s not personal.”
“We’re not dating.” Lan Wangji said, truthfully. They hadn’t been. He hadn’t told anyone about these feelings, especially not Wei Ying. “It’s not like that.”
His brother nodded thoughtfully. “I know, Lan Wangji. Don’t worry about it too much, okay? Go to sleep.” The ‘ everything will be normal tomorrow’ went unspoken, but it was to be heard clearly.
‘Tomorrow’ made absolutely nothing more normal. ‘Tomorrow’ was a day on which he would have usually met Wei Ying at the coffee shop. When he walked in, though, Wei Ying was nowhere to be seen. He decided not to stay. He ordered tea for take out, and left to study by himself.
He got none of his usual messages. He’d never been one to check his phone, but he checked it every other minute waiting for Wei Ying’s message. The other stayed quiet. No ‘check this out’ about spicy noodles, or about ugly ducks, or about an outfit Wei Ying felt particularly proud of. Nothing.
Lan Wangji wondered if should be sending Wei Ying something first.
He had never felt the need to do so with others. He never had to do so with Wei Ying.
After more than a week of silence, and a lot of confused conversations with his brother, he decided to send Wei Ying something. He sent: Wei Ying. I hope you’re doing well.
His brother told him that he should have asked a question. That maybe he should have made it sound more urgent. Not long after, though, his brother told him he’s proud of him for taking the first step.
He took the compliment to heart.
His message got no reply.
He tried to put his head around what happened; he can’t. His brother wanted to think with him to figure out what caused Wei Ying to get upset, but he didn’t want to replay the situation in his head. He didn’t want to know what he'd done wrong.
He’s done something wrong, knowing what it had been wouldn’t make it better for him.
He hadn’t expected himself to ever get close enough to someone to feel like he absolutely messed it all up. To someone bright and funny. To someone who had annoyed and confused him into a conversation. Someone with a bright smile and unbelievably interesting things to talk about, though most of that smart talk was disguised as a set of complaints.
Meeting someone like Wei Ying again was… impossible.
He focussed on his music and on his studies. He started drinking water, because white tea reminded him of Wei Ying, and he promised himself that normal would come back.
It was on one of those days, when he was playing music in silence, his eyes closed, when his phone rang from a message. He tried to tell himself that it could be anyone, but the truth was, he knew it was Wei Ying right away. It had been two weeks.
It felt like a lifetime.
The message simply said: ‘Please meet me at the usual spot.’
No time. No explanation. Lan Wangji couldn’t help but find it typical for his friend, for the one he liked. He couldn’t help but feel glad. Without a second thought he stood up, ready to leave.
When he walked into the coffeeshop Wei Ying was, it seemed, nowhere to be seen. By now he trusted Wei Ying enough to know that he definitely would show up, but it still had him nervous. The coffee shop was calm, it was a thursday afternoon so that wasn’t much of a surprise. Eventually he noticed the cup of coffee, still warm, standing on top of his usual table. He closed his eyes, trying to get himself together, and then slowly approached the cup. His heart was beating in his throat.
Sure enough, the cup of coffee had a small note with his name on it. The note was written in a sharp and messy handwriting that was certainly Wei Ying’s. He carefully pushed the cup off the paper.
‘Lan Zhan,’ The note started.
‘I haven’t been treating you fairly & I’ve probably confused you. My brother yelled at me, which you must have heard when you were over, about how you treated me better than I treated you and about how unfair I was being. I guess he was right.
Let me just be honest here, I know you appreciate honesty. I would like make you your fav tea for as long as possible. Or, well. I’d like to go on real dates with you. Date you.
So yeah. That’s the truth.
I think you know what to do.
Yours, Wei Ying
Ps: Don’t worry about walking out on me. I told the waitress to drink the coffee herself if you don’t use it. Nothing will be wasted.
He stared at the note. Oh. That was– of all things he’d expected, not one of them. He had a lot of questions. Why exactly had Wei Ying’s brother gotten so mad? When did Wei Ying start liking him? From the first time he bought that coffee? Had that been the reason Wei Ying had approached him? How had Wei Ying treated him unfairly, and when?
When he looked up, Wei Ying was sitting at his usual spot, looking down at his phone. He could tell Wei Ying was trying very hard to look at anything but him. He got that, he could feel nerves slipping into his fingertips too, making him shiver.
His brother would say that that was good, caring a lot was good.
He slowly sat down at his usual table. A waitress came up to him, a bit too fast. She seemed nervous as well. Well, he guessed that they had been there to see this develop from the start. “What can I get for you?”
“Can I get a white tea, for that table over there?”
She grinned, a little too happily. “Of course! Would you like to give a message with it?”
“No, thank you.” Wei Ying would understand. Wei Ying always understood.
He waited, though not patiently, until the waitress put tea onto Wei Ying’s table. He was not too blind to notice all the times Wei Ying nervously looked up at him. He tried not to fidget.
The white tea reached Wei Ying’s table, thank god, and it did so quickly. Wei Ying, as soon as soon as he had the tea in front of him, looked up and stared at him.
Lan Wangji tried not to shake as he stood up, slow, and picked the cup of coffee from his table. The other’s eyes didn’t leave him as he walked towards his table.
“Excuse me,” He said, though he was pretty sure he hadn’t been as polite the first time they switched drinks. “Let’s switch drinks.”
Wei Ying grinned brightly. A grin that made it hard for him to breathe. He had missed that look. He’d missed it even more than he’d realized, knowing that he could make someone smile like that.
“Yes, I don’t really like white tea, actually.” Wei Ying said, playfully.
Lan Zhan placed the cup of coffee on the table. He breathed in, gathering some courage. “May I sit?”
Wei Ying’s eyes seemed to shine. He made Wei Ying happy. That was something he could get used to. Something he hadn’t thought he was capable of. “Yeah, I would really like that.”
They talked until the waitress politely kicked them out. Lan Wangji apologized, he hadn’t wanted to be a bother to them, and Wei Ying laughed at him. As they were leaving, Wei Ying grabbed his hand, laced their fingers together. “This okay?” he asked, as they walked away from the warmth of the shop.
Lan Wangji wasn’t used to people touching him like this. He glanced at their hands, then nodded slowly. It was okay. He could get used to being touched. He wanted to touch Wei Ying more. He wanted to be able to touch every bit of his skin without feeling nervous.
“Whatcha thinking?” Wei Ying asked, a curious smile on his lips.
Lan Wangji stopped walking. The street wasn’t too busy, the shop was slightly out of sight and– Wei Ying liked him. He pulled the other in by his hand, turned him so that his back hit the wall softly. He took Wei Ying’s jaw into his hand, and looked at him to figure out if this– if this was what Wei Ying–
“Yes,” Wei Ying said, as if he’d read his mind.
Maybe he could read his mind by now. Whatever, it didn’t matter.
He was allowed to kiss Wei Ying.
He leaned in, let his nose slide against Wei Ying’s, and pushed their lips together. Softly, at first. Wei Ying’s lips were cold and rough against his’. He pushed his hand through the other’s dark locks, kissed him again.
Wei Ying was the one to pull him in even more, grabbing his hair and opening his lips. He grabbed Wei Ying’s neck, not able to let him go anymore, not willing to do so either.
He didn’t have to. Wei Ying grabbed a fist full of his coat, licked into his mouth, and holyshit. This was his now; moments like this. Wei Ying wanted him. Wei Ying was happy because of him. That was– holyshit.
Wei Ying pulled back a little, snuggled his nose into his neck with a smile on his face. He was still holding onto his coat tightly. “Shit,” Wei Ying breathed out. “Fuck. I really like you.” Lan Wangji couldn’t even mind all the cursing Wei Ying needed to realize that. “I like you so fucking much, Lan Zhan.”
He pulled back slightly, so he could look at Wei Ying. “Wei Ying, come home with me.”
Wei Ying grinned. “Slick talker.”
“Gorgeous, unfair, slick talker. you. Of course I’ll go home with you.” Wei Ying kissed him once again, quick and playful.
He left Lan Zhan breathless. Wei Ying had to pull him with him by the hand before his brain started working again. Right, going home, taking Wei Ying home.
Holy– taking Wei Ying home.
While walking, he took out his phone, send Lan Xichen a quick text: ‘ Would you mind going somewhere else for tonight?’
Not even a second later he got a reply with a lot of star emoji, whatever that meant, saying: ‘ No problem!✨✨ I take that it went well, then?’
He didn’t reply, he shoved his phone back into his pocket, and pulled Wei Ying a bit closer. Wei Ying kept on smiling up at him, then started chatting about whatever had happened with Jiang Yanli and the boy she liked, complaining, cursing. Lan Wangji nodded along with him, he enjoyed hearing whatever Wei Ying wanted to tell him.
Wei Ying talked happily, until they walked into his apartment. As soon as the door closed, Wei Ying stopped talking and then seriously said: “This is your last chance to back out, y’know, if you don’t like me romantically. I promise I won’t get mad.”
Lan Zhan, surprising even himself, walked up to Wei Ying and pushed him against the front door lightly. He placed his lips against Wei Ying’s neck and said: ‘I like you.”
Wei Ying laughed sarcastically. “Though you found me annoying.”
Lan Zhan placed a small kiss against Wei Ying’s neck, making the other breathe in sharply. “Yes.” He answered, making Wei Ying laugh happily.
“Jiang Cheng said that you were too good for me, bringing us presents and your kind words. He was sure I bullied you into something and I just–” Wei Ying swallowed.
“Wei Ying makes me happy. Tell everyone just that.”
The other pulled back slightly, looked at him with wide eyes full of love. “Yeah?”
“Holyfuck.” Wei Ying answered. That was as much of a warning he got before Wei Ying pulled him into a deep kiss. Wei Ying’s own clumsiness made him bump his head against the door, but he himself didn’t seem to mind. He laced his fingers through Lan Wangji’s hair and desperately pulled them closer. He grinded their hips together and softly bit his lip. He could feel Wei Ying’s hard on through his pants. He moaned softly against Wei Ying’s lips, making Wei Ying whimper in return.
Wei Ying wanted him. For something he would have never dreamed of.
He grabbed Wei Ying’s jaw and licked into his mouth, grinded their hips together once more. Wei Ying seemed to fall apart in his hands a little. As if every soft touch was too much to handle.
“Wei Ying,” he whispered, against the other's lips.
“So fucking–” Wei Ying kissed his lips, “Glad I bought you coffee.”
Lan Wangji hummed, kissed Wei Ying’s jaw. He was really, really glad as well.
At least there was something about this situation that was familiar; bringing Wei Ying coffee. Wei Ying had still been sleeping when he’d slipped out of the bed. He’d placed a soft kiss on Wei Ying’s forehead, then he’d almost panicked about being able to do that now. Unsurprisingly, Wei Ying slept like a brick. He’d told Lan Wangji before that he didn’t sleep much, usually. He must have needed it. Wei Ying didn’t even seem to feel nervous about wrapping all his limbs around him, caressing his bare chest, giggling against his neck. Lan Wangji had eased into the touch, he’d found calm in placing his lips against Wei Ying’s temple or forehead. “So good to me,” Wei Ying had whispered, mumbled sleepily, and even moaned as they had touched each other. The words, though maybe it had been the touches, sent shivers down his spine. They had him seeing white and then– only Wei Ying. “Always,” he’d answered. He definitely wouldn’t mind always having Wei Ying like this, wrapped up warmly in his bed, kissing his neck, touching him.
The thought almost made him want to turn around and do exactly what he’d done all morning; watch Wei Ying as he slept and place kisses against his skin. No, he had to keep himself under control. He could get Wei Ying coffee, no problem.
He walked into the kitchen slowly. The kitchen was slightly cold, so he pulled his white knitted sweater from the couch, some slippers that were standing next to the door. He got out the french press and some coffee, by now half empty. He put on some water, scooped two spoons of coffee into the french press, and then got his own favourite mug. He put a bag of tea inside of the mug, and then he waited for the water to boil.
He could still feel Wei Ying’s fingertips against his chest, against his neck. He had never expected himself to get anything like this. He had always thought that love was just… not for him. He hadn’t even been that upset about it. It just didn’t match his personality, he’d thought. Now he couldn’t wait to bring his cup of coffee towards the one he liked.
The one who liked him back.
He breathed out heavily, as if he was letting all of his doubts go with it, and turned off the stove. He poured the water into the french press, put the lid back on top of it, and slowly pressed the sieve down. Wei Ying had studied him while he made coffee like this, most of the time. He’d looked at him like he’d do nothing rather than watch him. Lan Wangji found himself feeling grateful that he learned to do something new, something so simple, just for Wei Ying. He liked how slow making coffee was. He even enjoyed the smell of coffee, these days.
When the water had cooled down enough not to burn his tea he poured himself a cup. Then he poured the coffee from the press into a big mug for Wei Ying. He felt warm. He walked through the apartment he knew so well and looked at it as if it was new to him.
When he walked into his bedroom, Wei Ying was laying as wide as possible, his legs tangled around the sheets. Lan Wangji, with a heart he could barely keep from melting, sat down next to him and placed the cups on his bedside table. He let his fingers slide through Wei Ying’s dark locks. “Wei Ying.” He kicked out his slippers and slipped into the bed again. “Wei Ying, I got you coffee.”
Wei Ying moaned lightly, stretched in a way that reminded him of a cat. “Hm?”
“Coffee,” He said again.
Wei Ying opened his eyes slowly, glaring up at him. “Huh?”
He caressed Wei Ying’s cheek. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Ah,” Wei Ying stretched again, then sat up. “Oh, fuck yeah. Holyshit, I thought I was dreaming when I heard your voice say something about coffee.”
Lan Wangji nodded slowly, got the coffee from his nightstand and handed it to Wei Ying.
“One sec,” Wei Ying mumbled. He shifted until he was sitting against Lan Wangji, their shoulders touching and their legs on top of each other. Then he pulled the blankets up a little more. “Alright.” He carefully took the coffee from Lan Wangji’s hands, smiling happily. His hair was a mess from the pillows and his eyes were still slightly thick. He looked good like that, satisfied.
Lan Wangji turned his head slightly, just to place his lips against Wei Ying’s hair and kiss it. Then, he picked up his tea. He wondered how he could feel so calm while his heart was beating so loudly.
“Thank you,” Wei Ying said.
He glanced at his lover, who was beaming by now, a bit confused. “For the kiss?”
Wei Ying laughed happily. He was so, so beautiful like that. “Not just that. For taking care of me, I guess. For being so honest and for liking me.”
Of course he had. He wouldn’t want to do anything else. Wei Ying had made him happy too. He didn’t– he didn’t know how to reply to something like that.
Wei Ying bumped their shoulders together, very softly. “And for the coffee,” he laughed, raising his cup. “For all the coffee.”