“Shhh,” says Wei Ying, and despite everything, Lan Wangji almost smiles– this is probably the first time Wei Ying has ever told him to be quiet. But Wei Ying’s face is all worry and would probably become even more worried if Lan Wangji smiled now, of all times. He says his name instead, a raspy "Wei Ying'' as it scratches its way out of his throat. It's an attempt at reassurance, but now Wei Ying is looking at him with even wider eyes. Lan Wangji scolds himself for putting that expression on his face.
He guesses it makes sense that Wei Ying is so distraught. The monster they had been fighting was merciless before it fell, claws tearing at Lan Wangji’s stomach before he could dodge it. (And before Wei Ying could block it. Lan Wangji had seen him move, from the corner of his eye, obviously about to put his own body between Lan Wangji’s and the monster. That more than anything else is what makes cold fear pool into his belly, never mind the blood he's losing.) They've never talked about it, but he knows Wei Ying has a fear of being unable to help in situations like this– whether it be because of his lack of a golden core or simply because there's nothing to be done. He also knows that in either situation, Wei Ying would blame himself, and it's reason enough for Lan Wangji to cling to consciousness and focus on breathing. Even when all he wants is to sink into the darkness pushing his eyes closed, pulling him down.
“Stay awake, please, don’t—“ Wei Ying’s hands find the sides of Lan Wangji’s face. His fingers are cool and slippery with mud. He leans into the touch.
Don’t worry, Lan Wangji wants to say, but blood comes out instead of words, terrible and salty and too much, making his head swim. He thinks he hears Wei Ying make a helpless sound next to him.
He doesn't say anything else after that, just brings his hands to Lan Wangji's forehead, sweeping his hair back. A palm on his cheek. Wei Ying's been doing this more lately– touching Lan Wangji in ways that aren't strictly necessary, with a gentleness that is only just beginning to feel familiar. Anyone who's known Wei Ying for longer than a minute knows that he isn't shy when it comes to touch, he's touched Lan Wangji countless times, but. But this isn't a casual shoulder bump or playful tug on his wrist. This is– delicate, almost timid, Wei Ying's fingers curling in his hair like question marks. Lan Wangji doesn't know when exactly it started. He knows he doesn't want it to stop.
Wei Ying speaks again. "Look at me?"
Lan Wangji looks. Wei Ying’s eyes are two dark points of stability, the only things that aren’t making him feel sick with dizziness. They flit nervously back and forth as Wei Ying shifts his gaze from his eyes to the cut on his cheek to the blood on his lips, then back to his eyes.
“Promise,” Wei Ying says, and looks down at Lan Wangji’s stomach. At the robes around it, torn and stained red. He swallows. “Promise you’ll stay awake. Don’t slip away, okay?” He’s not that badly wounded, really, but it feels a bit rude to tell Wei Ying he’s overreacting. Lan Wangji blinks, perhaps too slowly, because Wei Ying’s eyebrows furrow. “Lan Zhan.” There's an urgency in the second syllable. It pierces in slow motion through the fog in Lan Wangji's brain.
“Lan Zhan,” says Wei Ying again, probably making sure Lan Wangji is understanding him. This has been happening more, too, this back-and-forth. Like they're speaking each other into existence, playing catch with each other's names. Part of him feels silly– both of them sitting on the forest floor just saying Wei Ying and Lan Zhan to each other– but his name has a home in Wei Ying's mouth and he knows there are hidden words in how he says it. Stay with me. Let me help you.
He watches as Wei Ying jerkily tears open his bag of medicine. If Lan Wangji had the strength to say Wei Ying’s name again, he’d voice it in a way that says, it looks worse than it is. And, don’t worry. And, I don’t like seeing you worried.
They’re good at this– holding conversations that go beyond the words they are saying. After all, Wei Ying still doesn’t know the name of his song, but he understands, Lan Wangji knows he does. At least partially. Sometimes, when he listens closely, he thinks he can hear Wei Ying play it the way Lan Wangji wrote it; as if he's reaching for something. As if it’s a question, hesitant–
Do you see me? Did you miss me too? Do you love me too?
Even now, though. Even now. Lan Wangji doesn’t trust himself to interpret Wei Ying’s intentions. There’s an uncomfortably high risk that he will think he hears Wei Ying say something that he isn’t. That he’ll only hear it because he wants to hear it. I love you. It’s something that Lan Wangji will need to hear out loud, unambiguous, before he believes it; and even then, he thinks he might have a hard time doing so.
He says it every day. When he asks Wei Ying if he slept well, or when he's offering him more wine, or when he's saying his name and nothing else– Wei Ying– it's all the same. I love you.
It’s not enough. They’re in a stalemate of sorts, Lan Wangji unable to say it because he’s afraid, and Wei Ying- well. He doesn’t know if Wei Ying has ever said it even under the cover of safer, more acceptable words. Not in the same way that Lan Wangji says it. When Wei Ying says Lan Wangji’s name, my Lan Zhan, he doesn’t know whether to hear my friend or my love. But he's learned to be content with this. To want anything more– and this is what he tells himself when he watches Wei Ying smile at the open road in the mornings– would be selfish. Lan Wangji has spent sixteen years searching and aching for even the smallest trace of him; surely now he can be satisfied. Together under the stars. Creating constellations of their own as they move from town to town.
He realizes abruptly that he's been drifting. The scent of his own blood comes back to him as he forces his thoughts back to the situation at hand. To Wei Ying’s hair, slipping from behind his ear and falling into his face. Lan Wangji watches as he bats it away, impatient, before his hands return to his wound. He wants to repeat the motion, but gentler- to smooth Wei Ying’s hair into place with careful fingers. He wants to run his thumb along Wei Ying’s ear and watch it turn pink. He wants to make him feel like he’s something to be treated with care, because it’s what he deserves.
He doubts Wei Ying would have patience for any of that right now. But with his mind as hazy as it is, it’s all he can think about, his wound almost forgotten as he watches fear etch itself further into Wei Ying’s face.
It’s almost nightfall and the air smells like it might rain. They should get moving. Lan Wangji lets himself sit in the moment for another heartbeat, then gathers himself enough to speak.
"Wei Ying. It's enough."
It's true, for the most part. The flow of blood has slowed enough for him to get up and stagger the rest of the way to their inn. Wei Ying will– should– stop touching him soon.
"No, it's not," says Wei Ying incredulously. "Let me... bandages." He leans away from Lan Wangji to his pack, taking his warmth with him. The earth is cold under Lan Wangji's thighs.
Too tired to attempt convincing himself otherwise, he thinks that he would gladly keep bleeding if it means he can stay close to Wei Ying for a little longer. But- no, that wouldn’t do, because then Wei Ying would never smile. How can he make him smile? Sing me a song, Lan Wangji almost says, remembering a cave and dark water and cold stone. Another almost-joke that Wei Ying wouldn't appreciate at the moment. He's frustratingly hypocritical about these things.
His vision darkens for a second too long and he forces himself back into the light, trying to keep his promise. Stay awake.
Even so, he has one foot in reality and the other in a dream, unsure which side everything around him belongs to. Wei Ying— real. The black spots floating around on Wei Ying’s face— not real. Wei Ying’s fingers intertwining with his own— real? He wants it to be real.
Wei Ying unravels a roll of gauze with both hands.
Ah. Not real, then.
"I wish I could give you– I can't– Fuck." Wei Ying curses as one end of the gauze slips between his fingers.
There’s blood on Wei Ying’s face. Dark red and beginning to flake, drying in messy streaks above his jaw. Lan Wangji isn't sure if it's his or Wei Ying's, but the sight of it is enough to bring him back to the edge of a cliff, Wei Ying's hand in his own, slippery with blood and slipping away. Something sharp and afraid twists in Lan Wangji‘s chest. Wei Ying. The words don’t make it past his lips. He takes a ragged breath and almost tries again before another wave of nausea sways him.
His eyes close and for a horrible moment, he sees nothing but the backs of his eyelids.
His breath is coming quicker now. “Come back,” he says. He can barely hear himself over the blood pounding in his ears. Pain needles its way through his skull when he forces his eyes open.
“I never—“ Wei Ying cuts himself off, his lips paused around his next word before they press together in a thin line. His hands still for a moment. "I'm here." A pause. "I'm not leaving."
Again. The word hangs heavy between them and their eyes meet.
"I'm here," Wei Ying says again, "but you have to be here too. Got that? No falling asleep until we get to the inn. I don't care if it's already past your bedtime. I'll patch you up and we'll go into town and we'll get the best room with the softest bed, and you'll pay for it. How does that sound? I can make you tea, the really bland kind that you like–"
He's talking nonsense– they already have a room waiting for them, paid for earlier in the day when they arrived. Lan Wangji recognizes the babbling for what it is: something for him to hold on to as he resists the pull of unconsciousness– and he tries, he really does. But his strength is running out and Wei Ying smells like safety underneath all the dirt and he wishes he didn't have a gash in his stomach so he could just pull Wei Ying closer and not move for a while.
The panic in the air seems to be receding now that the flow of blood has stopped. He still hurts, but it's the kind of pain that accompanies a wound that's survivable, non-fatal. Maybe now he'll be allowed to close his eyes. He's so tired.
He's slightly less tired when he feels Wei Ying's thumb brush gently over his lip, wiping away the blood he coughed out earlier.
"Hey," says Wei Ying. It's the softest his voice has gone tonight, but he's close enough for Lan Wangji to– touch him, kiss him– hear him. "Eyes on me."
Wei Ying, thinks Lan Wangji, always.
And he passes out.
("What did I just say," he hears just before the darkness takes him.)
When he wakes, it's slow and quiet and gentle, like he's swimming through honey. The chill of the evening air is gone. They must be in their inn, but Lan Wangji doesn't open his eyes yet, still heavy with exhaustion. There's a dull ache in his abdomen– the pressure he feels on his next inhale tells him he's all bandaged up. He can no longer feel mud on his face or sand under his robes; Wei Ying probably wiped him clean when he tended to his wounds. Lan Wangji sends a silent thank you to him, sinking lower into the bed. He's about to open his eyes and say it out loud when he feels the edge of the mattress dip beside him.
The murmured 'Lan Zhan' he's expecting to hear doesn't come. Instead he hears Wei Ying's long breath in and shaky breath out. A rustle of fabric as he shifts his weight. There's a pause after that, long enough for Lan Wangji to wonder why he hasn't let Wei Ying know he's awake yet, and then– Wei Ying's hand on his stomach, impossibly gentle. Checking to see if he's bled through the bandages, Lan Wangji realizes. He forces himself to keep his breathing even when Wei Ying's hand shifts, leaving his stomach and coming to his face. Lan Wangji feels a finger brush over the cut on his cheek. Feels Wei Ying's eyes on him.
Already, his pulse has started skipping– it can't be long before he gives himself away– but something is keeping him from breaking the silence. Something that has a lot to do with how Wei Ying's hand is now resting at the junction of his neck and shoulder, his thumb tracing light, barely-there circles. A shiver threatens to run over Lan Wangji's skin. Even now, with him presumably asleep, Wei Ying's touch is hesitant, as if he's not sure whether he's allowed to be doing it.
And, well. That decides it. Lan Wangji finally finds it within him to speak. "Wei Ying."
Wei Ying's thumb freezes.
He opens his eyes to Wei Ying's face. It isn't dirty with grime and blood anymore; he must have bathed while Lan Wangji was asleep. It gives him a full view of the faint blush spreading over Wei Ying's cheekbones, visible even in the dim light of the room.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says, and starts moving his hand away from his neck slowly, as if hoping he won't notice that it was there in the first place. Lan Wangji only hesitates for a moment before he brings his own hand up to close around Wei Ying's wrist. He keeps his hold loose– Wei Ying could pull away easily if he wanted to– but Wei Ying isn't pulling away. He isn't doing much of anything, for once, staring at Lan Wangji with his lips slightly parted.
"Don't stop," Lan Wangji breathes. It's an interruption, but Wei Ying was hardly saying anything anyway. There's a pause before Wei Ying swallows and brings his touch back to Lan Wangji's neck, uncharacteristically nervous.
"How do you feel?"
"Mm. I'm okay," Lan Wangji says, blinking slowly. Wei Ying's thumb resumes its careful circles. "Was I asleep long?"
"Not long," says Wei Ying, his palm warm where it rests on Lan Wangji's shoulder. The pitter-patter of rain on the roof registers in his ears. "We got lucky," Wei Ying adds when he sees him glance out the window. "The rain wasn’t this heavy yet by the time we got here."
They must have been quite the sight: Wei Ying carrying a bloody, unconscious Hanguang-jun up the stairs, trailing mud behind them. Lan Wangji hopes they didn't give anyone a heart attack.
Their positions have been switched, he realizes as his abdomen throbs. Wei Ying throws himself into danger– or gets found by it– so often that Lan Wangji is almost used to it. (Almost. He doesn't like the idea of it becoming a routine. The sight and smell of Wei Ying's blood will always leave him unsteady.) Wei Ying jokes about it sometimes. Useless attempts to lighten the mood whenever his brushes with death are close enough to make Lan Wangji's hands shake. Ah, Lan Zhan, I've become your damsel in distress again, he'll laugh, and there will be blood in his teeth. Lan Wangji enjoys Wei Ying's jokes, but not those ones. He treasures his smiles, but not the bloody ones.
"I was scared," says Wei Ying quietly after a stretched silence. It isn't a secret, but it sounds like one. His eyes are somewhere by his feet, distant, when Lan Wangji looks up at him. "I..."
Nothing comes after that. Wei Ying's throat jumps as he swallows. Lan Wangji lowers his eyes to the crook of Wei Ying's elbow, feeling like he isn't supposed to witness whatever Wei Ying is thinking; it's a foolish instinct, maybe, after everything. He keeps his eyes safely lowered regardless. The inn creaks against the wind outside.
Something comes loose in his chest when he feels Wei Ying watching him, eyes dark in the candlelight. His mind fumbles as he tries to think of something to say– usually he's more than content to sit in silence, but this silence feels different, like if he steeps in it for too long it'll turn him inside out and Wei Ying will see everything he's hiding. Lan Wangji almost feels ashamed of the relief he feels when he sees Wei Ying take a breath to speak.
“What are you thinking about?”
Well. Wei Ying has never been one to make things easy.
You. “I am glad you're not hurt.” A safer answer. Still the truth.
Lan Wangji lets himself be caught in Wei Ying’s gaze for a moment. He looks– guilty, because he's Wei Ying and Lan Wangji already knows he's upset that he wasn't able to keep him from getting hurt– but there's something else; disappointed? Resigned? None of the words Lan Wangji can come up with seem to quite fit, and Wei Ying looks away before he can figure it out.
"Wei Ying." His name is a question in Lan Wangji's mouth, lingering on his tongue even after he's said it. The thumb on his neck has stopped moving again. Lan Wangji's skin burns where they touch.
Although Wei Ying's face doesn't shutter, Lan Wangji can see him recomposing himself bit by bit. It's not a wall– they're past walls– but when Wei Ying meets his eyes again, there's a distance between them, like in the few seconds that Wei Ying had studied the floor he had taken two steps back. Lan Wangji aches to follow him, but he doesn't have the words. He doesn't know what questions to ask or what answers to give that will make them meet in the middle again. Did I say something wrong? The moment feels like a held breath. Like the edge of a cliff.
They haven't had much luck with cliffs.
"I made tea." Another step back. Lan Wangji still hasn't let go of Wei Ying's wrist. "Lan Zhan. Have some?"
Wei Ying draws his hand back, Lan Wangji's grip so light that there's barely any resistance. He stands, and Lan Wangji follows him.
“No, you’re– stay in bed, I’ll bring–”
“I can walk.” Another interruption. Perhaps Wei Ying would be proud if he weren’t so busy being equal parts tempting and frustrating. Lan Wangji resists the urge to huff and instead tries to piece his thoughts together. "Just now,” he says. “You..." What words are there to ask about something that he doesn't even know the name of? All he knows is that they've been caught in this dance for so long, too long– circling around each other but never quite closing the distance. Wei Ying looks at him, his eyes searching.
Stop looking at me like I'm something you cannot have.
For once in his life, Wei Ying stays quiet. Gives him a smile– small, but at least it reaches his eyes. Lan Wangji wants to kiss it brighter. "Have some tea," he says again when Lan Wangji doesn’t continue.
Wei Ying shifts, about to start walking, but he stops when Lan Wangji’s fingers close around his own. Lan Wangji sees his shoulders tense with a held breath. Courage he didn’t know he had allows him to gently pull Wei Ying back to face him.
There might be hope in Wei Ying's eyes, but maybe it's just his own, playing tricks on him. He still doesn’t know what to say. Frustration scratches at his chest again. Wei Ying looks down at their joined hands for a long moment. Slow as a sunrise, he steps closer, making Lan Wangji’s ears go warm.
"Lan Zhan," says Wei Ying. He’s close enough that Lan Wangji can feel his breath on his lips. "You know, don't you? You must know." He moves his hands so that they’re loosely curled around Lan Wangji's forearms, grounding him. Their noses brush as Wei Ying lifts his gaze.
"I didn't want to–" Lan Wangji's breath stutters. They're so close. "Misunderstand."
"I've been trying to tell you," Wei Ying murmurs. His voice is velvet like this. He’s rarely so quiet; Lan Wangji feels like an animal Wei Ying doesn’t want to scare away. "Lan Zhan. Listen."
Wei Ying trails his fingers down until they reach his own again and tangles them together. A moment of stillness, as if he's waiting for him to move away. When he doesn't, Wei Ying takes the small step forward that brings his mouth right next to Lan Wangji's ear. Lan Wangji waits for him to speak, expecting a soft whisper of his name or something equally devastating, but instead Wei Ying's head turns and his lips find his cheek. A kiss, feather-light, is carefully placed right above his jawline. Lan Wangji stays frozen in place. He wonders if Wei Ying can see his pulse thundering in his neck.
Another pause– Wei Ying giving him another chance to stop this. Lan Wangji curls his fingers gingerly around Wei Ying's. Turns his head, just barely, towards his lips. Hopes that he understands.
The second kiss is firmer against his skin this time but no less sweet, closer to the corner of Lan Wangji's lips than the first one. Lan Wangji is breathless with it. Wei Ying lingers there, radiating warmth and safety–
A memory, unbidden, of them walking side by side after everything, a thin red line still fresh on Wei Ying’s neck. There’s something I haven’t told you yet, Lan Wangji had said then. He remembers Wei Ying’s smile growing as he got ready to tease the words out of him. His eyes, bright with fondness. His disappointment at being interrupted before anything could be confessed.
–and all at once, Lan Wangji is abruptly done with being scared.
Wei Ying, he thinks as he joins their hands properly, hears Wei Ying's inhale as their palms press together– I understand now.
His life splits in two when he presses his lips to Wei Ying’s; pre-kiss and post-kiss, incomplete and complete, before and after. He moves from one version of himself to the other as Wei Ying makes a soft sound against his mouth, and finally, finally, his broken pieces fall into place, his hands coming home at Wei Ying’s waist to pull him closer.
Wei Ying kisses him the same way he was touching him earlier, in that question-mark way of his. Lightly, delicately, slowly. Giving Lan Wangji room to decide if he wants this. I want. He brings a shaking hand to the back of Wei Ying’s head, fingers weaving though black hair.
Lan Wangji knows the message is received when Wei Ying’s arms come up to loop around his neck. They part for a moment, breaths mingling, before Wei Ying is tilting his head and diving back in, all hesitance gone, taking Lan Wangji’s breath away. The closeness the new angle provides makes anticipatory heat curl in his stomach.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whispers into his mouth, kissing him deeper. Harder. “Lan Zhan.”
It’s so much, and Lan Wangji will never get enough. Their tongues meet and his chest stumbles on a gasp, answered by a hungry noise from Wei Ying. He’s imagined this many times– despite almost as many attempts not to– but nothing could have predicted how Wei Ying would taste, how Wei Ying would feel pressed against him like this, how– Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying– his name is the only thing his reeling mind can produce. Then Wei Ying sucks his lower lip between his teeth and Lan Wangji stops thinking entirely.
He doesn’t know how long it is before they part. Not long enough. Wei Ying seems to think the same, if the haze in his eyes is anything to go by, but there’s a knock at the door before either of them can lean in for more. A muffled voice announces the arrival of their dinner.
“Just a moment,” Wei Ying says, not looking away from Lan Wangji. He leans forward slowly and gives him a kiss on the tip of his nose, smiling wide as he pulls back. The innocence of the action tugs at the corners of Lan Wangji’s mouth. Everything feels like it’s glowing; like Wei Ying has kissed sunshine into him. A few heartbeats pass before Wei Ying unwinds his arms from his neck, still smiling, and the weight around Lan Wangji’s shoulders falls away. Floorboards creak under his feet on his way to the door. His lips and cheeks are pinker than usual, Lan Wangji notes distantly. From kissing. From kissing him.
Wei Ying re-enters the room with a tray of food and looks at Lan Wangji, eyes soft. The warm feeling that has taken up residence in his chest ever since he woke up grows warmer.
“Lan Zhan.” His smile is audible. Lan Wangji loves him. “Come eat with me?”
Dinner is, objectively, not unlike all the other dinners they have had in each other’s company. Wei Ying talks, Lan Wangji doesn’t bother reminding him of the no talking while eating rule, nor does he want to. Wei Ying pours him tea and Lan Wangji pours him wine.
Wei Ying’s eyes, for one. They linger in ways that he would’ve hidden or laughed off, before, as soon as Lan Wangji would notice him looking. Now his gaze over the rim of his cup is unwavering. Lan Wangji tries not to shiver.
And he just– he looks so happy, so content, that Lan Wangji is having trouble understanding how he could possibly be the reason behind smiles as bright as the ones Wei Ying shoots him every time he catches Lan Wangji staring.
“Your tofu isn’t gonna eat itself, you know,” he laughs.
He feels his face flush at that, despite everything, despite being allowed to look. He is used to drinking in the sight of Wei Ying’s face as if it’s wine– forbidden, dangerously intoxicating. As if too much of him will cause Lan Wangji to lose the last of his grip on self-restraint. How many times has he looked at Wei Ying when he could be sure he wouldn’t notice? How many glances has he stolen?
And now: Wei Ying, offered freely. Enthusiastically. Everything Lan Wangji had never dared to hope for. It’s hard to breathe around the glow in his chest, and harder to look away even as embarrassment starts to creep its way onto his cheeks. His tofu sits untouched in the bowl before him.
“Are you gonna be doing that a lot, from now on?” Wei Ying’s voice sounds the way it normally does, but it’s slightly rough around the edges. His lips glisten with remnants of his last sip of wine.
“What am I doing?” It would be a teasing question if Lan Wangji actually knew what was making Wei Ying’s eyes... go dark like that. Something like nervousness skitters around in his stomach, a stray spark escaping a fire. It’s unexpectedly pleasant. He holds his breath and Wei Ying’s gaze.
“Like.” Wei Ying’s hand makes a flopping motion on the table. “You know.” He doesn’t. “Looking at me like that.”
Lan Wangji blinks. He wasn’t aware that he had been looking at Wei Ying in any particular way. But if he likes it, then Lan Wangji will look at him for however long he’s allowed to.
“See,” Wei Ying whines, and no, he really doesn’t, but it doesn’t stop his lips from curling into a smile. “You’re doing it again, how am I supposed to–” Wei Ying crosses his arms on the table and drops his head on them. His next words are unintelligible, muffled by his shirt. Lan Wangji lets him work through his distress and takes a sip of his tea.
When Wei Ying raises his head, he’s smiling again. “Lan Zhan. Have some mercy and eat your tofu."
“I am not hungry.” Lan Wangji doesn’t want tofu. He wants Wei Ying to kiss him again.
Worry seeps into Wei Ying’s smile, dimming it. “Does it hurt?”
The wounds on Lan Wangji’s stomach throb as if in response, but he barely notices. “The pain is negligible,” he says truthfully. Then, “I am tired.”
This is also a truth, but he has no intention of going to sleep just yet.
“Ah, of course, it’s way past your bedtime,” says Wei Ying, standing. “Here, I’ll help.”
The bed can’t be more than four or five paces away. Wei Ying offers his hand regardless. The familiar, well-worn surge of affection that often accompanies any of Wei Ying’s actions runs its course through Lan Wangji’s lungs like liquid gold as he lets himself get helped up. It isn’t necessary– his wounds really had looked worse than they actually were– but it allows him to feel the pressure of Wei Ying’s palm against his.
Moments later he’s on his back again, looking up at Wei Ying like before, except now Wei Ying’s hand is steady where it rests on top of his bandages. No longer tentative or unsure. Lan Wangji’s heart skips with how much like home it feels. The candles are starting to burn low; twin pinpricks of reflected light flicker in Wei Ying’s eyes.
Wei Ying leans down, running his fingers through a strand of Lan Wangji’s hair. “I’m glad you’re not drunk this time,” he giggles.
“I had to tuck you in, just like this.” His smile turns soft. “I wanted to kiss you then, too.”
He can feel a blush spread over his cheeks again, pink flowers blooming through white snow. “I would have let you.”
Wei Ying’s mouth falls open in mock offense. “That would’ve been a lousy first kiss, silly! You wouldn’t even have remembered it. No, I prefer this, even if it took us so long to get here... so many times I wanted to kiss you, and I chickened out.” He shakes his head and sighs, face fond as he gazes down at Lan Wangji. “I guess we’ll just have to make up for it.” With that, he flashes a grin and a wink as he makes to stand, probably to bring their empty food tray out into the hall.
Lan Wangji chooses then to let himself be shameless, greedy, wanting– and tugs on Wei Ying’s wrist, hard, making him lose his balance.
In a moment of chaos that’s only a second long, Wei Ying gracelessly catches himself on the bed. He would have fallen on Lan Wangji’s wounds if he had not gotten his forearms under him in time. Lan Wangji likely wouldn’t have cared.
“You–” Wei Ying’s eyes are comically wide. “Scoundrel!” Lan Wangji raises an eyebrow at that, pretending his heart isn’t trying to beat a hole through his chest.
“You said to make up for it.”
“Lan Zhan! Who’s shameless now?” Wei Ying’s laugh rings through the room. “I could’ve fallen on you, you– careless, reckless man.” Everything he’s saying is undermined by his smile. Lan Wangji wants it closer, wants to feel it against his lips.
He asks the best way he knows how. “Wei Ying.”
It must show on his face, how much he wants it, because Wei Ying’s smile fades into something hungry before he leans down. Lan Wangji welcomes the kiss eagerly, picking up right where they left off as his thoughts slow and melt together. The steady almost-weight of Wei Ying hovering over him is a sweet torture. More more more. He wants– he wants to be surrounded, consumed, held down, until sixteen years of half-existing melt away.
Years ago, when Wei Ying had entered his life wearing white robes and an easy smile, he’d been afraid of his own desire. Hours were spent in the cold spring with frustrated and panicked attempts to drive away any thoughts of Wei Ying; his hands, his voice, his eyes. Lan Wangji remembers realizing with sinking certainty that there would be no one else for him after the Cloud Recesses knew silence again. Wei Ying had come, tipped his world off its axis, and left. He hadn’t allowed himself to feel hope as he bent over his guqin, making music out of the strange twist in his heart. He hadn’t allowed himself to dream of what Wei Ying would say if he heard it.
Then– the two of them in a cave, bleeding and shivering. A chapter revisited. Their song finally landing on Wei Ying’s ears. Hope blooming in his chest despite his efforts to stamp it out.
And now– warmth and weight and the scent of cinnamon. Wei Ying kissing him as if it's a language in itself. I’ll never leave again.
Lan Wangji is no longer afraid of his own desire. His hand finds the back of Wei Ying’s head and tangles itself in his hair. Good. Don’t leave. Come closer. The silk of his ribbon slips through Lan Wangji’s fingers.
“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying groans, breaking the kiss. His cheeks are flushed. “You’re teasing me.” He lands a chaste kiss on Lan Wangji’s forehead. “You can’t tempt me like this when you’re injured, it’s–” another kiss, under his ear– “it’s unfair.”
“Not teasing,” he says when their eyes meet. He’s vaguely aware of how breathless he sounds.
“If you haven’t noticed, you have a gash in your stomach,” says Wei Ying weakly, his eyes catching on Lan Wangji’s lips even as he says it.
Only half of his body is over Lan Wangji’s. After half a second of hesitation, he tugs at Wei Ying’s robes meaningfully until he gets the hint and climbs onto the bed, hovering over him.
“Lan Zhan,” sighs Wei Ying, looking torn. “I want– you’re so...” He leans down and careful kisses are pressed like flower petals against Lan Wangji’s neck. He tips his head back, giving himself to Wei Ying and his mouth, and Wei Ying’s breath skates across his exposed skin. A brush of Wei Ying’s lips, and then– blissful heat as he apparently gives in and opens his mouth on Lan Wangji’s neck. Lan Wangji inhales sharply, overwhelmed by how good it is, his hand in Wei Ying’s hair tightening. He’s painfully aware of all the places where their bodies are not touching. Wei Ying is still carefully holding himself up– stop being careful, he wants to say– but the words are lost when Wei Ying bites lightly under his jaw. A quiet moan escapes him before he can stop it. Wei Ying hums, the approval in his voice running hot through Lan Wangji’s body, and sucks gently.
“Wei Ying,” gasps Lan Wangji, his back arching without him meaning to. Wei Ying sucks harder in response, his hand coming to tug on Lan Wangji’s hair, holding his head in place. There will surely be a bruise on his neck tomorrow. The thought makes him shiver, makes him need more. His body tries to arch up against Wei Ying’s again, and when that doesn’t work, tries to pull Wei Ying down. There’s a wet sound as Wei Ying breaks off from marking his neck.
“Seriously, Lan Zhan, I just changed your bandages, you're gonna have to behave if you want me to keep going.” Wei Ying swallows as Lan Wangji's fingers come to curl in the robes at his back. “You really want this, don’t you,” he breathes, their chests brushing. “Lan Zhan.”
Wei Ying’s body comes closer, giving Lan Wangji a taste of the friction he craves, and he can’t keep his exhale from getting tinged with a small, desperate sound.
“Fuck,” says Wei Ying, his voice ragged. “Okay. Okay, sit up.”
They rearrange themselves, limbs untangling and tangling again as Lan Wangji situates his back against the headboard. Wei Ying immediately straddles him, finally letting his full weight press down on Lan Wangji, anchoring him. His breath hitches with how much he likes it; Wei Ying’s undeniable presence, solid and safe.
Wei Ying’s fingers trace down his cheek and across his lip, huffing out a laugh. “And to think this is the same man who hated me, back then. Remember when you told me to stay away from you?”
“Never hated you,” Lan Wangji murmurs against his fingertips.
“Right, right. But you hated when I got all up in your space, I remember that. The look on your face when we fell out of the cold cave together–” Wei Ying snorts. “That was the most emotion I’d ever seen from you before that point.”
Lan Wangji remembers that day, too, the way they had stumbled over each other’s feet and landed hard on the ground, Wei Ying pinning him down. They’d been close enough that Lan Wangji could feel Wei Ying’s breaths on his skin as he scrambled to get up. His sleep that night had been... restless, to say the least.
He shakes his head and opens his eyes, which had fallen closed. “I did not hate when you touched me. I...” He pauses, waiting for himself to find the words. “I was trying not to want you.”
“Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying’s voice is low. He’s all Lan Wangji can see, outlined in gold by candlelight and painfully beautiful. Their foreheads touch. “How lucky I am, that you still want me now.”
Ridiculous. Luck has nothing to do with it.
He'd tell him as much, but Wei Ying is kissing him again, his mouth hot and wet over his.
They guide each other through slow, sweet kisses, steadily building heat between them as they deepen. A nagging part of Lan Wangji’s mind insists that this can’t be real. That this is just another dream he will wake up gasping from, his chest empty and heavy at the same time, the way he’s been doing for the past sixteen years.
His hands grip Wei Ying’s thighs where they bracket his hips. Real, real, real. Wei Ying’s fingers brush against Lan Wangji’s collarbone as he begins to push his robes aside, no doubt feeling how hard his heart is pounding.
“Can I?” asks Wei Ying, his fingers creeping under the fabric to touch feverish skin. Lan Wangji nods under Wei Ying’s careful gaze, and then he is kissed again, gently, as Wei Ying’s palms smooth over his chest.
This is not a dream. The thought makes his heart clench. He doesn't miss how Wei Ying's fingers shake as he removes layer after layer, robes pooling at Lan Wangji's waist.
"Let me," he says when Wei Ying's hands go to his own robes. Wei Ying's laugh is nervous, mostly air, but it's genuine as he watches Lan Wangji tug the fabric aside. His movements slow when he gets to Wei Ying's skin, golden-warm, shifting with each breath. Years upon years of rules upon rules try to make him feel ashamed to look– but he fights against the urge to shy away from wanting. He is allowed. He holds his breath and watches his own thumb trace over the planes of Wei Ying's stomach, coming to rest above his hipbone, palm curling around his waist. Wei Ying is silent above him before his fingers twitch restlessly.
"Lan Zhan, I–" His voice is rough. "I need to touch you–"
Clumsy shuffling until their robes can get tossed out of the way, leaving them both bare except for their trousers when Wei Ying straddles him again. The black waterfall of Wei Ying’s hair falls over his shoulder as he presses a kiss to Lan Wangji’s mouth. He can feel the warmth of Wei Ying’s body so much better like this and he arches into the next kiss, chasing after it.
“Lan Zhan,” breathes Wei Ying again, saying his name in that way he likes, as if it’s his favourite thing to say. “You’re so perfect, did you know that?” Lan Wangji huffs in a feeble attempt at exasperation, and Wei Ying grins as he sees right through it. “I really do like you.” He leans back and begins the delicate work of removing Lan Wangji’s headpiece, brushing their noses together when he leans back in.
“And,” continues Wei Ying, his voice hushed. Somehow the low light makes his voice seem louder, like it’s something tangible, crawling into Lan Wangji’s heart and sitting there. “I don’t know how I deserve this, after all the second chances I’ve gotten, but.”
“You deserve,” Lan Wangji says, his voice dangerously close to breaking, “Everything.”
“I came back from the dead into a world where you still want me around. It’s already more than I could ask for.” His eyes are lowered to where his fingers trace Lan Wangji’s collarbone. He huffs out a quiet laugh. “And you pay for our rooms. I can actually afford to pay once in a while, you know.”
He’s trying to dance away from the subject. Lan Wangji shakes his head. “Everything,” he repeats firmly. Wei Ying has gone still, his eyes dark and wide and vulnerable. “And more.”
Wei Ying stares at him, takes a breath– before he’s surging forward, like a dam breaking.
“Ah, Lan Zhan, I love you.” Wei Ying says it like a prayer, seals it with kisses. "I love you, will you let me?"
This is not a dream. This is not a dream.
It's almost painful, how much of a revelation it is to hear those words from Wei Ying, how it's everything he's tried not to crave– across both of Wei Ying's lifetimes– and how much of a privilege it is that he can say them back. That Wei Ying is alive to hear it. He breaks the kiss.
“I love you.” Their eyes meet. Wei Ying’s hands have come up to weave through his hair, his fingers just shy of touching his forehead ribbon. His face is open and as happy as Lan Wangji has ever seen it.
“Really?” The corners of Wei Ying’s mouth curl up even higher. “Are you sure? ‘Cause once you say it, you’ll never get rid of me. Speak wisely.”
Wisely. As if this would require any thought. He knows Wei Ying is only teasing, but he answers seriously anyway, taking Wei Ying’s hands in his own and guides them to the knot of his forehead ribbon, watching his smile fade into something softer. Wei Ying’s chest rises with his quiet intake of breath.
“Lan Zhan.” His eyes are glistening as another smile breaks across his face, the same smile he gave Lan Wangji on the steps at Jinlintai. “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan. I'm sorry I've kept you waiting.” The ribbon slips from his hair and his heart skips a beat at the sight of it in Wei Ying’s hands. It trails across his shoulder as Wei Ying cradles his face. "I'm here now."
Lan Wangji hums into the next kiss and Wei Ying’s hands come warm and eager to the waistband of his pants. His fingers don’t dip under the fabric yet, maintaining a teasing presence as he presses his lips to the spot on Lan Wangji’s neck that he had marked earlier. It aches dully under his mouth and Lan Wangji’s hips stutter without him meaning to.
“I wanted you, too, you know,” Wei Ying says. His thumbs rub back and forth over his hipbones. “Back when we were annoying teens.” He pauses. “Well. When I was an annoying teen.”
As much as Lan Wangji loves him, he can’t argue with that, so he trails his mouth along the bare slope of Wei Ying’s shoulder instead.
“But, Lan Zhan, everything was so much harder when I came back. Pun intended,” he adds with a grind of his hips, grinning. Lan Wangji might’ve been tempted to roll his eyes if he weren’t so distracted by the feeling of Wei Ying slowly hardening against him. “Imagine how I felt, that night in the Jingshi when we were hiding from the rest of the world. Do you remember that night? It was snowing. You’re always complaining about my shitty memory, but I remember. You brought me Emperor’s Smile and your hair was down and you looked so– gods, you’re always so fucking gorgeous, it’s unfair.”
Wei Ying doesn’t miss the way Lan Wangji’s breath quivers on his exhale, and he rolls his hips again, earning a choked moan that escapes Lan Wangji’s throat before he realizes he’s even making a sound. The layers of their trousers are a maddening barrier between them.
“I mean it, you’re so beautiful,” Wei Ying says, punctuating his words with wet kisses along Lan Wangji’s collarbone. “Couldn’t decide if I wanted to declare my undying love for you or drag you into bed with me and just fucking ravish you. Or both.” There’s a dull thunk on the headboard as Lan Wangji’s head lolls back, a soft whine slipping from his mouth. They’re both hard, now, he can feel it. “I think both sounds good, don’t you? And,” he continues, his fingers undoing the tie of his pants, his voice low and dark like amber honey, “I’ve already done one of those things.”
Finally, finally, he gets his pants out of the way and touches him, his hand closing around Lan Wangji’s cock. It’s tentative at first but it doesn’t matter; Wei Ying, shirtless and beautiful in his lap, candlelight flickering across the planes of his chest, is enough to make heat flare in his stomach, washing up his spine.
“Wei Ying,” he gasps, his mouth falling open, eyes falling shut. Wei Ying makes a pleased noise and strokes him slowly, coaxing a moan from Lan Wangji’s throat when his thumb brushes the head. He feels vaguely like he’s falling; he can’t help the nervousness threading through his lungs at how vulnerable he is like this, all of his senses fixated on how Wei Ying is touching him.
"Breathe," says Wei Ying, his voice low and warm by Lan Wangji's ear. Air stumbles into his lungs as he forces himself to relax. The wood grain of the headboard presses against his skin where he leans against it, grounding him. Everything's so warm, so–
Wei Ying’s hand leaves for a moment and Lan Wangji’s eyes stutter open to see him dragging his tongue shamelessly across his own palm. His own tongue feels too heavy to produce any words that could tell him how– how breathtaking he looks, but the pleased curve of Wei Ying’s mouth tells him that he understands. His hand returns with a slickness that makes Lan Wangji’s head spin; it’s nothing he hasn’t done to himself before, but it’s something else entirely when Wei Ying is the one providing the touch– his scent surrounds him, along with the sounds of his ragged breaths against Lan Wangji’s neck.
He will not be able to last long, he knows. He is inexperienced and growing increasingly helpless against the fire in his stomach, burning hotter and brighter with every stroke.
“I’ve got you,” Wei Ying murmurs against Lan Wangji’s burning skin as he bites his lip against a moan. “You’re so good. Is this good?”
Lan Wangji can’t do anything but nod shakily. His hands move by instinct, smoothing over Wei Ying’s thighs and across the bare skin of his hips as if they belong there. “Good,” he confirms, his voice hoarse.
“Then let me hear it, Lan Zhan. Don’t hold back.” Hot, wet kisses rain down his exposed neck. “Let me hear how good it is.”
Wei Ying’s wrist twists and a rush of pleasure catches him off guard. “Wei Ying–”
“Like that,” says Wei Ying breathlessly. “Gods. Just like that. You– you’re close, aren’t you?”
“Mm.” It’s half an affirmation and half a bitten-down moan.
It’s good, good enough that Lan Wangji can live and die here happily, but he wants– he wants to–
“You too,” he says, unable to say more words without stumbling over them. Wei Ying’s hand slows as he pulls his mouth away from under Lan Wangji’s ear to look at him, his eyes black in the low light. Lan Wangji swallows and brings clumsy fingers to the front of Wei Ying’s pants; he can feel the light trail of hair going down his navel and a surge of want courses through him. He pauses, watching Wei Ying’s face for permission.
“Oh, yes, you have the best ideas–” Wei Ying breaks off as he shifts onto his knees, trying to get his pants off with one hand, apparently unwilling to let go of Lan Wangji’s cock. It’s graceless and endearing and so Wei Ying that a smile tugs at the corners of his lips when Wei Ying makes an impatient noise in his struggle. Lan Wangji gently bats his hands out of the way– “thank you, yes, Lan Zhan, get them off–” Wei Ying’s laugh high and breathy in his ear as he finishes the task himself.
“Ridiculous,” says Lan Wangji, just to see Wei Ying’s face brighten.
“Ridiculous,” Wei Ying agrees, repositioning himself with a smile that’s quickly turning into a smirk, “but you love it.”
“I– ah,” Lan Wangji’s words dissolve in his mouth as their cocks brush, Wei Ying’s hand guiding them together.
“Yeah?” Wei Ying asks on a shaky exhale, their breaths mingling. His movements are less coordinated than before, unable to fully wrap around Lan Wangji’s cock like this, but it doesn’t matter– pleasure hazes over his senses anyway and groan claws its way out from deep in his chest.
“Wanna do this properly when you’re all healed,” pants Wei Ying. The single ounce of self control Lan Wangji has left stops him from saying now, do it now. He shuts himself up by busying his mouth with Wei Ying’s throat, tasting his racing pulse.
“I want– I want you to fuck me. Or I wanna fuck you. Or both,” he says, repeating his words from a minute ago, gasping when Lan Wangji’s mouth travels down to cover one of his nipples. “Definitely both– ah, Lan Zhan, do that again– that’s good, you’re so good, fuck,” he babbles as Lan Wangji drags his tongue across Wei Ying's skin.
He's never felt so warm, like he has hidden embers burning in his cheeks, his chest, the tips of his ears. Every sound falling from Wei Ying’s lips makes the coil in his gut wind tighter, bringing him closer to an edge he’s only experienced by his own hand before; he hasn’t even come yet and it’s already more intense than anything he’s ever managed to spark within himself.
“Gods, look at you.” Wei Ying’s voice is reverent. His free hand still has the forehead ribbon wound around his fingers and Lan Wangji can feel the small piece of metal press into his skin as he grips his shoulder. He wills himself to look Wei Ying in the eyes, only a little scared of being seen while he’s so exposed, and is instantly rewarded with the sight of Wei Ying looking more undone than ever. His eyes roam over Lan Wangji’s skin like a physical touch, his lips red and slick and parted around his breaths. He almost looks drunk, his cheeks are so flushed– but the focus in his eyes says otherwise, as if he’s trying to commit Lan Wangji to memory. They have the rest of their lives to memorize each other, Lan Wangji realizes, and he leans forward to begin the crucial task of memorizing Wei Ying’s mouth.
Wei Ying makes a noise against Lan Wangji’s lips, his cock dragging against Lan Wangji’s in a slide so good that his teenage self would have perished just thinking about it; he remembers being young and confused and greedy for the first time in his life, trying not to dream about what it would be like to have this. Something in his chest twinges as the silk of his forehead ribbon tickles down his back, over his scars. Worth it, he thinks, every scar, every year he’s bled and searched and waited for Wei Ying. Wei Ying has always been worth waiting for.
Now, there is no waiting; Wei Ying is with him breath for breath, touch for touch. The heat building inside his stomach is threatening to spill over, flooding his lungs and forcing increasingly desperate sounds out of him as Wei Ying touches him and kisses him and touches him–
“That’s it, Lan Zhan. My perfect Lan Zhan.” Lan Wangji pants against Wei Ying’s skin, his forehead coming to rest on Wei Ying’s shoulder as his voice washes over him. “Can you come like this?”
“Wei Ying,” he gasps, the only words he can remember. He’s never been so frustrated about being wounded– all he wants is to feel Wei Ying everywhere, skin to skin–
“I’m here.” Somehow Wei Ying knows exactly what to say. Lan Wangji can feel himself falling apart. It’s a strange feeling, being unafraid, welcoming the loss of control. Needing it. “I’ve got you, it’s okay,” Wei Ying soothes, his voice like wine, making a mess of Lan Wangji’s thoughts and rendering him incoherent. He squeezes his eyes shut. “Lan Zhan. Come for me.”
The tension snaps and Lan Wangji is weightless, his pulse pounding in his ears as Wei Ying strokes him through it. Everything is Wei Ying; the taste of his skin, the sound of his voice, his hands– leaving trails of heat wherever he touches Lan Wangji, wrapping him in sunlight and safety and never letting you go, it’ll always be you, it’s always been you–
When he returns to himself, he realizes he’s been biting Wei Ying’s shoulder. He pulls back and is opening his mouth to apologize when Wei Ying interrupts him.
“Hey, none of that.” He presses a finger against Lan Wangji’s lips. It’s the hand with his forehead ribbon wrapped around it– the ends of it sway gently between them. “Lan Zhan. I liked it.” His finger moves to trace along his burning cheeks. When Wei Ying leans closer, a shameless smile is on his lips. “It’s hot.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t know how to respond to that, so he turns his head to press a feather-light kiss to Wei Ying’s fingertips. They’re warm and slightly callused from months on the road. Wei Ying makes a soft sound and Lan Wangji holds his gaze, kissing his palm on an island of exposed skin between the lines of the ribbon.
Wei Ying’s breath stutters. “Ah, you're really– you're really just– who told you you could act like this?” Lan Wangji hides his smile in Wei Ying’s palm. “Lan Zhan, now you’re smiling? Are you trying to make me pass out?”
“No.” He raises his head, and just to see Wei Ying’s reaction adds, “Not done yet.”
He sees Wei Ying’s eyebrows shoot up before he turns his attention to more important things; Wei Ying is still hard and heavy against him, his hand curled loosely around the base of his cock. Heart skipping, he reaches for Wei Ying’s hand and gently nudges it away.
Wei Ying’s breath seems to snag in his throat. “You– oh. You don’t have to,” he says, even as he melts under Lan Wangji’s touch.
“I want to,” Lan Wangji tells him, because it’s important he knows.
“If you’re– ah, Lan Zhan–”
Wei Ying’s arms loop around his neck and stay there as Lan Wangji finds a rhythm, sucking in a breath when he tightens his hand minutely. It’s oddly familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, having someone else in hand– but they have always known how to work together, how to move together– and before long Wei Ying is shuddering against him, Lan Wangji’s name on his tongue.
“Gods, like that, don’t stop, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan–”
They meet in a clumsy almost-kiss as Wei Ying comes, bucking into Lan Wangji’s hand. He’s clutching at Lan Wangji’s hair as if it’s keeping him tethered to the earth. The room is quiet around them, only their own breaths breaking the silence as the air cools.
“That,” says Wei Ying, then doesn’t finish the sentence.
“Mm,” agrees Lan Wangji. He watches as Wei Ying’s face brightens with his laughter, feeling like he’s floating. No dream could compare to this. Here. Alive. Staying. The words feel stronger with every heartbeat until he’s unafraid to accept them as solid truth, knowing he isn’t about to wake up cold and empty again, Wei Ying’s face dissolving into darkness. Lan Wangji swallows against the faint ache in his throat and leans up to press a kiss to Wei Ying’s forehead. It already feels so natural. Wei Ying hums softly, content.
“Lan Zhan.” There’s a smile in his voice.
A huff of laughter. “We, uh. I think we’re gonna have to change your bandages again.” Wei Ying swipes a finger over his patched abdomen and holds it up for Lan Wangji to see. It’s covered in– oh.
Lan Wangji hides his burning face in Wei Ying’s neck and Wei Ying cackles, loud and delighted in the dimming room.
Lan Wangji had almost forgotten what sleep meant, in those sixteen years of darkness. There was no sleep; only restless drifting, moving from dream to dream– from Wei Ying alive, to Wei Ying falling, to Wei Ying dying.
The nights that he did not relive the past, he lived an unattainable future. Wei Ying’s laughing face. His voice. His heartbeat. Those dreams were always the brightest, details made hazy by sunlight that did not exist. They were also the worst. They would bring Wei Ying painfully close but still unreachable, always falling apart at the same moment, when Wei Ying would smile, his face clean of blood, take his hand and and say Lan Zhan–
Darkness, like all the other times. But also–
“You fell asleep while I was changing your bandages, silly. You’re on top of all the blankets.”
Sunshine bursts in his chest. “Wei Ying.” His voice is surprisingly stable.
“Here,” answers Wei Ying, and Lan Wangji feels two hands take his in the dark. “You’re lucky I’m a fast worker, the candles went out just as I was finishing up. Can you stand for a bit? Yeah. Just stay there a sec–”
Rustling as Wei Ying rearranges the blankets and makes space for them, his hands finding Lan Wangji’s again a second later. “Okay,” he says, his voice close.
Lan Wangji blindly gathers Wei Ying even closer, his arms coming around to hold him against his chest, solid in the blackness of the room. There’s a moment in which he can tell Wei Ying is trying to think of words to say– but then he seems to understand, wordlessly looping his arms around Lan Wangji’s neck. Wei Ying's heartbeat fills the off-beats of his own.
He knows Wei Ying won’t be the first to let go, so Lan Wangji gives one final squeeze and loosens his hold. A kiss lands on his cheek as Wei Ying pulls back.
“Sleep?” His voice is soft and safe and undeniably real.
“Mm.” Lan Wangji nods, even though Wei Ying won’t see it. “Sleep.”