All Lan Wangji knew was that the Wen prisoners kept by Lanling Jin sect disappeared along with Wei Wuxian. It was said that they were residing in Burial Mounds, but it was outlandish. Yet outlandish enough that it sounded like something Wei Wuxian would do.
He went on many night hunts, unable to stay in the same place that had elders and disciplines all cursing his beloved’s name. Whether he passed by Yiling by convenience or by choice, he had yet to see Wei Wuxian.
It was a pleasant coincidence that Lan Wangji came across the child that was in Wei Wuxian’s care and then the man himself.
While Wei Wuxian thought it was a fun joke when he said that he birthed little A-Yuan, Lan Wangji thought about all the possibilities if Wei Wuxian truly was able to conceive. Although their meal was cut short, Lan Wangji loved the feeling of being able to hold Wei Wuxian in his arms while he held A-Yuan as Lan Wangji flew the three of them into Burial Mounds.
Lan Wangji could care less that Wei Wuxian managed to raise the first conscious fierce corpse, but the damage his cultivation path is taking a toll on him. Wei Wuxian is supposed to be glowing and radiant. While he still is beautiful in Lan Wangji’s eyes, he does not miss the shadow under his eyes, the pale look, or the bony waist he held onto. Lan Wangji wanted to ask if he was sleeping well, eating enough, or how life in a lifeless place was been, but Wei Wuxian was walking him out of their settlement. It went unspoken that he was not welcomed here. Lan Wangji understood.
Yet it was little A-Yuan that looked up at Lan Wangji with big teary eyes and asked if he was leaving.
“Lan Zhan is very busy! He needs to go home to his family too,” Wei Wuxian explained to the child in his arms.
“I do not.”
“What?” Wei Wuxian asked and A-Yuan looked at him with hopeful eyes.
“I do not need to return,” Lan Wangji replied.
“Lan Zhan, that won’t do,” Wei Wuxian laughed a bit hysterically. “I can’t have the world thinking the big bad Yiling Laozu has kidnapped their precious Hanguang-jun.”
“I am staying willingly. Unless… Wei Ying does not want me to.”
“Xian-gege,” A-Yuan pouted, “let Rich-gege stay.”
Wei Wuxian looked like he wanted to refute, but the force of a pouty child was great. He caved in and agreed. A-Yuan gave a small cheer, asked to be carried, and they were walking back.
Wen Qing and her newly conscious brother greeted them upon their return. She eyed him suspiciously but Lan Wangji pulled out qiankun pouches he had prepared long ago for this and handed them to Wen Qing. A few of them were filled with money while most of them were basic necessities that could be useful since they had left with only the clothes on their backs.
“I was unaware that the situation was this poor. I would have prepared more if I had known,” Lan Wangji explained.
“Lan Zhan, this is more than we have,” Wei Wuxian said. Lan Wangji had a poor concept of money. Although he knew what he owned was more than the average noble lord of a small household, he was unsure how long it will last a community with little income.
“I am glad then.”
Surprisingly, or rather, unsurprisingly, Lan Wangji was quickly welcomed and loved within minutes of his introduction.
Lan Wangji shed his pristine cloud woven white robes and donned plainer civilian robes like everyone else. The first time Wei Wuxian saw him, he pouted about how it was unfair that Lan Wangji looked handsome in whatever he wore. His ears burned with embarrassment and happiness to hear such words from the one he loved. Over time, the others noticed his little crush.
His days were simpler. He helped carry heavy things along with Wen Qionglin, tend to the farmland they were still experimenting with, and taking care of A-Yuan and Wei Wuxian.
It appeared that Wei Wuxian adopted a poor habit of skipping meals and sleeping late when he was productive. It was a normal sight for Wei Wuxian to be holed up in his cave, scribbling down ideas and tinkering with whatever at his disposal now that Lan Wangji was around to help with the manual labour.
Lan Wangji recruited the help of A-Yuan to help Wei Wuxian maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle.
During the day, A-Yuan would try to coax Wei Wuxian out of his cave to join them for meals, or the three of them will eat with Wei Wuxian in the cave. At night, Lan Wangji would manhandle Wei Wuxian into bed with him, whether or not he will sleep. The sleep schedule so ingrained into Lan Wangji was difficult to change. Although it did not sit well with Wei Wuxian the first few times, he eventually settled down enough to stay still and not complain as Lan Wangji drifted off to sleep.
In the mornings, Lan Wangji would hold Wei Wuxian until there was sounds outside of the cave, signalling that the others were starting to wake up. He enjoyed the quiet mornings where he laid there watching the relaxed and deeply asleep Wei Wuxian.
At the start, Lan Wangji tried to play calming songs for Wei Wuxian, unsure why they do not seem to be effective. But after cornering Wen Qing and threatening the safety of her family, she told him the truth.
About Wei Wuxian’s core and where it was.
Lan Wangji had wanted to find Jiang Wanyin and rip out the core that rightfully belonged to Wei Wuxian, but it would only make his beloved sad. Instead, he kept quiet like he didn’t know about it even when they started to sleep together in bed.
Over time, Lan Wangji’s moves grew bolder so that there was no mistake in what his intentions were.
The first time he tucked a strand of hair behind Wei Wuxian’s ear and called him beautiful, Wei Wuxian turned red and ran back into his cave and refused to speak to him for the whole day.
Eventually, Wei Wuxian was not able to handle any more casual touches and asked Lan Wangji directly.
“Hanguang-jun, it’s not fair to toy with someone’s heart,” Wei Wuxian said as Lan Wangji was preparing for bed.
“When have I done such a thing?” Lan Wangji asked innocently.
“You! Ugh, all the things you’ve done for me, I… Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian ended up whining. They grew closer over time, closer than they had ever been but Lan Wangji always craved for more. He wanted Wei Wuxian for himself.
“I will answer anything asked of me,” Lan Wangji said patiently. Wei Wuxian was already sitting on their shared bed, conditioned to sleep when Lan Wangji did. He made a grabby motion when Lan Wangji was near and was pulled onto Lan Wangji’s lap. Wei Wuxian rested his head on Lan Wangji’s shoulder and they stayed like that for a quiet moment, simply enjoying each other’s presence. Then Wei Wuxian pulled back and looked at Lan Wangji.
“What am I to you?” Wei Wuxian asked seriously.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whined. Lan Wangji lifted his hands to hold Wei Wuxian’s.
“Wei Ying will always be Wei Ying to me, no matter what he does or what path he walks. I will walk next to him for the rest of my life,” Lan Wangji said. Wei Wuxian made a strangled noise as he fell forward and rested his forehead against Lan Wangji’s shoulder again.
“Lan Zhannnnnnnnn,” came another whine. Lan Wangji thought it was one of the most adorable things.
“I wish to stay by your side as long as you allow me to.”
“Lan Zhan, I want to as well, but…”
“Tell me, Wei Ying.”
Wei Wuxian shifted so he was looking at Lan Wangji for a second before settling his gaze at their joint hands.
“Lan Zhan, do you ever wonder why I started using demonic cultivation, or why I never used Suibian again?” He did and he had the answer.
But even before finding out the truth, Lan Wangji was worried for Wei Wuxian’s well-being first and foremost. Lan Wangji would have loved a coreless Wei Wuxian all the same, though he had a slow shimmering anger for Jiang Wanyin who did not appreciate what he was given.
Instead, Lan Wangji nodded.
“I don’t have a core anymore,” Wei Wuxian said with a fragile smile. His eyes started to water and Lan Wangji freed a hand to wipe away the tears. “I can’t cultivate the normal path anymore. I can’t–”
“That’s okay,” Lan Wangji said. “You are still Wei Ying.”
They shared their first kiss that night. Lan Wangji felt like something finally slotted in place when Wei Wuxian smiled so brightly despite the tears that would not stop. Lan Wangji was ready to do anything to keep that smile on his face. To him, nothing is worth more than seeing Wei Wuxian happy.
Something changed between them and everyone noticed. Lan Wangji did not have any intentions as he held Wei Wuxian’s hand and kissed when they thought no one was looking. Everyone already acted as if they were married.
Their new relationship made it harder for them to part.
Once in a while, Lan Wangji would dress in his white robes and go on a night hunt as Hanguang-jun. It was weird to take on a role he had given up to be with Wei Wuxian, but he will keep up the guise if it gave comfort to his sect that he was not disappear but simply away from the sect for a long time.
He would find and buy trinkets for the people of their little community and a toy for A-Yuan, no matter how much Wei Wuxian said he was spoiling the boy.
It was a routine they gotten used to until one day–
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian greeted him as he entered the cave and smiled at his beloved. “You wouldn’t believe what happened today!”
Lan Wangji always tried to come back within 5 days and many things can happen in those days that Wei Wuxian would update him as soon as he returned, whether they were cuddling in their bed or over dinner.
“I believe Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said warmly before he caught the beautiful man in his arms.
“I saw shijie today!” Wei Wuxian said happily but Lan Wangji stiffened at the name. “I mean, Maiden Jiang. Though she’ll be Young Madam Jin soon…”
“A marriage?” Lan Wangji heard rumours while he was out.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian said and buried his face in Lan Wangji’s shoulder. “She looked happy.”
“Wei Ying sounds upset.”
Wei Wuxian made a non-committal sound but said no more. It was late so Lan Wangji picked up Wei Wuxian and made his way to their shared bed.
“Who said I was sleeping?” Wei Wuxian whined like a petulant child.
“You were staying up while I was away,” Lan Wangji stated, tracing gently with his thumb the dark circles starting to form under Wei Wuxian’s eyes. Since he usually had Wei Wuxian join him in bed with him, his stubborn love used the opportunity while he was away to stay up late and work on his inventions.
“Who told you? Wen Qing should have gotten to sleep!” Wei Wuxian complained as Lan Wangji placed him down. With a flat stare, Wei Wuxian realized he admitted to his own poor sleep schedule. “Oh.”
“Mm,” Lan Wangji responded before talking off his outer robes. He folded them neatly and placed them in his qiankun pouch. Wei Wuxian striped himself of his outer robes too but tossed them away carelessly. It was Lan Wangji that picked it up, folded them neatly and put them aside.
“Cuddle me, my Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said with his arms opened. Lan Wangji indulged his partner and pulled Wei Wuxian onto his lap as he sat down. He started working through the tangles in Wei Wuxian’s hair while waiting for him to talk. “Lan Zhan, how would you feel if Zewu-jun got married? And let’s say that the person he’s marrying was rude to Zewu-jun but had a change of heart. But your brother is also happy to be with them. How would you feel about that?”
“I would want my brother to be happy,” Lan Wangji responded. “If the person truly loved my brother, then I wish them a happy marriage.”
Wei Wuxian groaned while playing with the hem of his sleeves. It had begun to fray so Lan Wangji made a note to himself to commission some new robes.
“I want to be happy for them,” Wei Wuxian finally said. “But he hurt her so much. She cried! For him! But she loves him. You should have seen her, Lan Zhan. She looked so beautiful in her wedding robes. She waited her whole life for this moment and I can’t be there…”
Lan Wangji hummed as he worked on the last of the knots in his hair. The cultivation world is still in rage over Wei Wuxian’s actions and inviting him would look poorly on Jin sect.
“Gusu Lan sect will likely be invited,” Lan Wangji said. “Would you like me to bring her a gift on your behalf?”
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian sat straighter and hissed when his tangled hand got caught in Lan Wangji’s hands. “You mean it? But what if I never see you again. You left your sect so long. What if they don’t want you to go on night hunts anymore?”
“Nonsense,” Lan Wangji said and held Wei Wuxian closer. “Nothing will keep me away from Wei Ying.”
As he suspected, he was welcomed back with little fanfare and his brother asked for his company to the wedding that will take place in a month’s time. With Wei Wuxian’s personal gift to the bride tucked away, Lan Wangji agreed and carried out his sect duties.
During the month, Lan Wangji wondered if he should cut off ties after the wedding or remain deceptively as part of the sect. On the positive side, he can gather supplies and money to bring back later. On the negative side, he was away from Wei Wuxian and had to listen to his sect speak poorly about the man he loved. Every time he wanted to run his sword through another cultivator, he remembered the warmth of Wei Wuxian’s smile and he needed to remain a free man to return to him with ease.
The journey to Lanling was quiet as life in Cloud Recesses. While he was not opposed to the silence, he was used to the chatter and noise that came from the Wen community. He couldn’t wait to return to his beloved.
Lanling was bright with red and gold, and a few touches of purple. The guests chattered loudly as they congratulated Jin Guangshan and Madam Jin. The ceremony went by smoothly and the after party was lively with people getting drunk. For once, no one was cursing at Wei Wuxian’s name, happy for the married couple and their union.
Lan Wangji once wished that he too can have a lavish wedding for Wei Wuxian, but he was also content just to be together. Wei Wuxian now had no family or backing and Lan Wangji was willing to abandon his own just to be with his love. He did not need their blessings.
Although Lan Wangji did not want to disturb the newly wedded couple, he had to deliver Wei Wuxian’s gift to deliver.
He watched Jin Zixuan until he got up to leave banquet and join his wife in their room. He quietly following behind. It would be improper to met with her alone after all.
Jin Zixuan was weirded out when he finally noticed Lan Wangji was trailing behind him and promised to deliver the gift to his wife.
“Wei Wuxian is important to her,” Jin Zixuan said before Lan Wangji entrusted the gift to him. “She will be happy to receive it. Can I ask… how is he? She’s been worried about him since he’s gotten skinner since he left Lotus Pier.”
Lan Wangji was reminded that she recently met Wei Wuxian in Yiling. Jiang Wanyin was also there.
“He is well. I will look after him,” Lan Wangji replied.
With a bow, the two men parted ways. However, it seemed that Lan Wangji got careless as he heard Jin Guangyao speak up as he walked by.
“The great Hanguang-jun has interacting with the widely feared Yiling Laozu?”
In one swift move, Lan Wangji pressed Bichen against his neck.
“Give me one reason not to kill you right now.”
Jin Guangyao continued to smile at him as if his life was not threatened. Lan Wangji doesn’t have a strong impression of the man aside from his brother speaking positively about him during his short stays in Gusu.
“Did you think I only know from your small chat with Jin Zixuan? Oh no. I knew this long before. However, if I wanted to let everyone know, I would have said something already.”
There was something unnerving about his smile, practiced and calculated.
“What do you want?”
“It is too open here. Please, follow me.”
They walk a small way towards Jin Guangyao’s personal quarters and Jin Guangyao put up a silencing talisman on the doors before turning back to Lan Wangji.
“Er-ge has been worried with your frequent night hunts and rarely staying in Gusu. Now imagine my surprise when I learned that instead of going on frequent night hunts, you were with the Yiling Laozu.”
“What do you want?”
“It’s not just what I want,” Jin Guangyao said. “You have your reasons for staying in Yiling and I have my ambitions. However, we both seem to want the same thing.”
“If you try to lay a hand on Wei Ying, I will not hesitate,” Lan Wangji threatened with his hand on Bichen. Jin Guangyao’s eyes widened at the use of birth name. “Do not think that he will join Jin sect or hand over the Stygian Tiger Seal. I will lay waste to your sect if you try.”
“Please do not misunderstand; we have a common enemy,” Jin Guangyao said with a large smile. “If I were to be head cultivator and sect leader, I will guarantee Wei Wuxian’s safety myself.”
“Wei Ying will be upset if anything happens to Jiang Yanli and her husband. They cannot be killed.”
“You put me in a tough position, Hanguang-jun,” Jin Guangyao said pleasantly. “Jin Zixuan is the heir. Naturally, the position will go to him after Sect Leader Jin’s death.”
Lan Wangji returned to Burial Mounds shortly after the wedding. He spent the first two days back simply holding Wei Wuxian. It was nice to be back with his beloved after being separated for so long. Wei Wuxian never admitted missing him aside from a long kiss, but Lan Wangji knew when Wei Wuxian held him tighter at night.
Wei Wuxian looked reluctant to let him go when Lan Wangji left again two months later. Although he promised to bring back Wei Wuxian’s favourite Emperor Smile, Wei Wuxian still looked sad. Unfortunately, to move the plan forward. Lan Wangji had to leave.
The letter was already waiting for him in Cloud Recesses. It contained only a location but it was enough. After burning the letter and a short talk with his brother, Lan Wangji left again.
It took a half a day to reach the location without rest but the sight of golden robes told Lan Wangji he was in the right place. Travelling into the dense forest, he found the exact location and there stood Jin Zixun.
“Hanguang-jun,” the man greeted. Lan Wangji nodded. “I heard that you had contact with the Yiling Laozu.”
“Mm. Jin Guangyao requested for my assistance.”
“Wei Wuxian cursed me,” Jin Zixun spat. “I want his head to show the world!”
“He is very strong, especially now that he is at Burial Mounds,” Lan Wangji smoothly lied. “Killing him will be difficult. Nearly impossible with your… condition.”
“What use are you then?” Jin Zixun shouted.
“Wen Qing can help cure your condition,” Lan Wangji said. “She has studied a lot on the Hundred Holes curse.”
“A Wen dog? You want me to be at the mercy of a Wen dog?” Jin Zixun shook with rage.
“Killing the Yiling Laozu is near impossible. She is your best chance.”
Lan Wangji, with Jin Zixun in tow, arrived at the pre-discussed location with Wen Qing. She looked solemnly at Lan Wangji before casting her gaze at Jin Zixun.
“The Hundred Holes curse?” Wen Qing stated blankly. Jin Zixun pulled down his collar low enough to show her the marks. She let out a contemplative hum. “Hmm, it’s worse than I thought.”
“Can you do anything?” Jin Zixun huffed and crossed his arms.
“The curse is likely reaching your organs as we speak,” Wen Qing said. “The only hope to cure it now is to strengthen your core’s regenerative powers to break the curse.”
“And how do I do that? I don’t have much time left!” Jin Zixun shouted. It echoed in the cave they were in.
“I will need to extract it in its pure form,” Wen Qing said and looked at him dead in the eyes. “You need to be awake while I extract it and channel our spiritual energy into it. However, the process is also incredibly painful because you will be absorbing more power than your core normally has to flush out the curse.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to just kill the Yiling Laozu?” Jin Zixun tried to reason. He was pale and eyes wild as he looked back and forth from Lan Wangji and Wen Qing. “I have group of stronger cultivators with me! We can take him down!”
“You can’t,” Wen Qing said, looking away. “We’ve tried. Why else do you think Hanguang-jun came into contact with me? There is no winning against him.”
Jin Zixun eventually laid down on the cold stone slab with his top layers pulled away to reveal his chest riddled with small holes. Wen Qing held the blade in one hand and Lan Wangji watched intently and waited for the right moment to bring Wei Wuxian out.
Lan Wangji was sending A-Yuan to see granny Wen when Wei Wuxian ran out of his cave and into his arms. Before he could ask Wei Wuxian why he looked so frantic, a shaky hand pressed against his abdomen while Wei Wuxian kept muttering to himself. He seemed to find what he was looking for and his shoulders slumped.
“I’m tired. Bring me back to the cave,” Wei Wuxian said as he flopped forward. Lan Wangji dutifully did as he was told and carried Wei Wuxian into the cave. He placed a silencing talisman around the mouth of the cave before settling them down on their stone bed.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji called to his lover, caressing his face. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“I… Is this a dream?” Wei Ying asked, his eyes unseeing. “I shouldn’t… I don’t understand. Why do I feel a core in me?”
Lan Wangji pressed his lips together before kissing Wei Wuxian on the forehead.
Lan Wangji crafted a tale about running into a rogue cultivator on a night hunt, injured heavily and was brought to Wen Qing to heal. There was nothing to be done and he volunteered to give his core to someone who once gave his away.
Wei Wuxian listened intently. His eyes watered at the thought of losing another life but pressed a hand at his lower abdomen.
“I need to pay respects to him,” Wei Wuxian said. “Where did you bury him?”
“With the other corpses,” Lan Wangji said. There was a small graveyard that Wei Wuxian made for unsalvageable corpses to help them lay to rest. Except Lan Wangji did not bury him there. Jin Zixun had been reduced to ashes and spread across Lanling territory.
“I need to thank him,” Wei Wuxian said with wet eyes. He brushed it away with his sleeves, but they return just as fast. “He’s letting me wield Suibian again. I can cultivate normally again! Lan Zhan, I can cultivate again!”
Wei Wuxian glowed with happiness. This was how it should be; Wei Wuxian with a core and looking radiant as he always was. Although Jin Zixun’s core could not compare to the greatest that Wei Wuxian built himself, it was a good basis for them to work on together. Lan Wangji will ensure that he will reach his full potential once again.