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Public Places, Private Thoughts

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Wei Wuxian had heard the story of course. It had made its rounds through his high school and followed him into his college days. He didn’t think there was any possibility it was true. Virginity was a social construct, invented by creepy old men to exercise dominance over women. The idea that a simple lack of sexual activity before the age of thirty could give one magical powers was absolutely ludicrous.

Wei Wuxian believed this until the morning of his thirtieth birthday.

If it weren’t for this guy buying my spicy dumplings twice a day, I would take them off the menu. He’s the only one who buys them.

Wei Wuxian paused, his hand outstretched, fingers closed around his change. “What?” he asked.

“Have a good day!” the vendor said with a smile. “Enjoy your spicy dumplings!”

Wei Wuxian nodded and waved. He didn’t have time to chat with the vendor if he was going to make his train on time. Lots of others were rushing to make it to the stop on time as well. He was shoulder to shoulder at the crosswalk while waiting for the walk light.

I hope I remembered to turn off the stove.

Wei Wuxian pulled back, looking over at the woman pressed up against his right side. She looked up at him, a confused look on her face.

Geez, what’s wrong with this guy?

Wei Wuxian leaped forward as if he had been burned and he pressed right up against a short girl standing in front of him.

Can’t I have one commute without being accosted by perverts?

Wei Wuxian squeaked, his cheeks heating in embarrassment as the girl turned to look up at him.

Oh, this one’s cute! She twirled a strand of hair around her finger. “Where are you headed?”

Wei Wuxian blushed harder and, saved by the walk light, he forged forward, trying to get out ahead of the crowd.


Wei Wuxian gasped for breath and hunched his shoulders, trying to avoid touching anyone. He had no idea what was happening to him or why.

The trains were packed and he couldn’t avoid the crowd there either. The entire trip was spent with competing voices in his head: the financial manager rehearsing a presentation, the young mother, worried about leaving her young daughter with a babysitter for the first time, the college girl, daydreaming scenarios about two of her favourite celebrities in a relationship. It was enough to drive him mad.

By the time he arrived at work, he was completely frazzled, and his usually robust patience for human interaction was frayed to the last filament.

The elevator was packed, and Wei Wuxian was seriously considering taking the stairs when a voice came from behind and slightly to the left. “There is room.”

Wei Wuxian startled and looked over his shoulder. Lan Wangji, one of his coworkers, was standing there, waiting for him to get on.

Wei Wuxian considered refusing, but he was running late and really didn’t want to climb sixteen flights of steps without time for copious breaks to catch his breath, drink water, and die. Lan Wangji was noted around the office for being unflappable, always calm and serene. Meditation was his natural state. If anyone wasn’t going to bombard Wei Wuxian with intrusive thoughts, it was Lan Wangji.

He stepped on, tucking himself into the corner so Lan Wangji could be a buffer between him and anyone else in the elevator. He relaxed slightly once the doors closed, allowing his shoulder to brush against Lan Wangji’s.


It took everything in Wei Wuxian not to freak out.

Lan Wangji took an almost imperceptibly deeper breath.

Look at the bedhead. So cute. I can not handle it.

Wei Wuxian only barely managed to stifle a squeal. Lan Wangji had a crush on someone and that person was in the elevator with them right now. He tried to subtly look around, trying to figure out where Lan Wangji was looking. He was staring straight ahead, directly over Wei Wuxian’s shoulder. Mianmian was just off to the right. Maybe Lan Wangji was looking at her.

If he doesn’t stop moving, I am going to be in a very embarrassing situation when I get off this elevator.

Wei Wuxian froze. The one Lan Wangji liked was a man, a man close enough that Lan Wangji could feel him moving. He looked up at Lan Wangji speculatively.

Oh no, he is looking at me. What do I do?

Wei Wuxian knew he should pull away, but he didn’t want to until he figured out exactly who Lan Wangji was crushing on. He ran through the facts in his mind: they were a man, they were close enough to Lan Wangji to touch him, and they were looking at Lan Wangji right now. He dragged his eyes away from Lan Wangji’s perfect features, again trying to catch a glimpse of who it might be. No one was even glancing in their direction, and the door of the elevator opened on their floor while he was trying to puzzle it out.

It was a tough day. Wei Wuxian was normally a tactile person, throwing his arms easily around his work colleagues, but he was suddenly certain that he didn’t want to know what they thought of him. He knew he was loud and obnoxious, too much for any normal person to handle; he didn’t need to have it confirmed.

Instead of making his rounds around the office to hassle people, he stayed at his desk trying to surreptitiously spy on Lan Wangji and figure out who his office crush was. Of the fifteen odd people who had been in the elevator, only five of them worked in this office. While it was possible Lan Wangji liked someone who worked elsewhere in the building, he didn’t think so. Lan Wangji didn’t seem like the type to fall in love with appearance alone so it must be someone he knew well.

Of the five people from this office, only two of them were men, Nie Huaisang and Su She. Wei Wuxian instantly ruled out Su She; Lan Wangji was a man of taste and would never fall in love with his own knockoff. Nie Huaisang also seemed like an odd choice. He was flighty and irresponsible, but maybe that was Lan Wangji’s type.

Most of his tasks for the day involved letting simulations run and checking their results so he had ample time for spying. Lan Wangji didn’t seem to treat Nie Huaisang differently from anyone else in the office, but it had to be him, otherwise the only other option—and there was no way Wei Wuxian was that lucky—would be Wei Wuxian himself.

By the end of the day, he was no closer to figuring it out, but at least it kept him from getting too bored and accidentally running into his other coworkers. He was getting ready to pack up when he received an email notification. He groaned when he saw it was from Jin Zixun.

code needs to be edited and sent to client by 8 a.m. tomorrow

Wei Wuxian groaned. Knowing Jin Zixun, he’d known about this all day and was only sending it to him now to purposefully make his life more difficult. He would have had ample time during the afternoon, but now he was going to be working overtime.

He opened the file and immediately lost himself for several hours. By the time he emerged, it was late. The office was dark and quiet, and Wei Wuxian’s stomach was growling. He groaned as he saw snowflakes drifting down outside the window. It had been nice that morning and he was not dressed for the weather.

If he hurried, he could still make the train. As he stepped out of the elevator on the ground floor, he saw Lan Wangji coming out of the stairwell.

“You’re still here too?” Wei Wuxian asked, jogging over.

“Mn,” Lan Wangji said. “Had a late teleconference with Switzerland.”

“Ah,” Wei Wuxian said, nodding sympathetically.

“And you?” Lan Wangji asked.

“Ah, you know”—Wei Wuxian shrugged—”Jin Zixun found an extra task for me at the last minute again.”

Lan Wangji frowned. “He should be reprimanded for that. As your team leader, it is his responsibility to ensure tasks are assigned in a timely manner.”

Wei Wuxian laughed nervously. “Aiya, so earnest. You know how it is; I slacked off all day, and I probably deserved it.” He backed away. “I should catch my train. It’s cold out there, too cold to walk.”

“Take my scarf,” Lan Wangji said, pulling a soft, white, knitted scarf from around his neck.

“Then you’ll be cold,” Wei Wuxian said.

“My coat is warmer than your sweater,” Lan Wangji said. He stepped into Wei Wuxian’s space and began arranging the scarf around his neck.

He should recognize his own value

Wei Wuxian could feel his cheeks heating as Lan Wangji slowly and methodically tied the scarf, smoothing it so it sat perfectly evenly around his neck.

He is smart, hard-working, and personable. I wish more of our colleagues would follow his example.

Lan Wangji was finished tying the scarf but he continued to smooth it out along Wei Wuxian’s collar.

“Uh, Lan Wangji?” Wei Wuxian said.

I wish he would call me Lan Zhan.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said, trying it out and deciding he liked the way it sounded. “That’s your birth name, right? Can I call you Lan Zhan?”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji said, his eyes softening a little.

“You should call me Wei Ying then,” Wei Wuxian said, his cheeks flushing again. “But, I should hurry or I’ll miss my train. Bye!”

“Goodnight, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said softly as Wei Wuxian fled into the night.

Wei Wuxian’s heart was pounding and his cheeks had yet to cool when he reached the train stop. For a moment, he imagined what it would be like if Lan Wangji had a crush on him, but he immediately shoved the thought way down deep and refused to look at it. Whoever had Lan Wangji’s heart, he was a lucky man.

Wei Wuxian didn’t spend as much time thinking about Lan Wangji’s love life over the next few days. For one thing, Jin Zixun was constantly piling him with work and giving him near impossible deadlines, and for another, he and Lan Wangji were maybe becoming something like friends now.

Lan Wangji was delightfully bitchy. He may have had the reputation of being joyless and humorless, but Wei Wuxian was incredibly pleased to discover that under the frozen exterior lived possibly the funniest man he had ever met.

Every day, he grew a little more jealous of Lan Wangji’s mystery crush. However, fleeting touches were not enough to figure out who it was. More often than not, Lan Wangji was thinking about Wei Wuxian, a completely logical thing for him to do since Wei Wuxian was physically present. It was so like Lan Wangji to be courteous, even in his thoughts.

Wei Wuxian’s working hours were full, but he avoided another late night until almost a month later. Jin Zixun had kept him running back and forth all day, only to drop another major assignment on him right at home time. He thought of saying no and leaving the asshole to suffer the consequences of his own poor time management, but hated the thought of shitty work going out with his name attached.

With a sigh, he opened the files and got to work. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when his concentration was broken by the clink of a can. A highly caffeinated energy drink was sitting at his elbow. He blinked at it for a moment, unsure how it had gotten there.

“You look tired,” Lan Wangji said.

“Aiya, Lan Zhan, you scared me,” Wei Wuxian said, stretching his arms up over his head to work some of the kinks out of his back. “What are you still doing here?”

Lan Wangji didn’t answer the question. “Would you like help?”

“Ah, Lan Zhan, you are really too good,” Wei Wuxian said quickly. “You don’t need to help. It’s my job; I’ll finish it.”

“It is late,” Lan Wangji said. “Do you have much left?”

Wei Wuxian glanced at the clock. It was already well past ten and, looking at the amount he still had left, he likely wasn’t getting out the door before midnight. “It’s fine,” he said.

Lan Wangji stubbornly sat down in the chair beside him and scooted close to read the screen. In the process, his shoulder bumped against Wei Wuxian’s.

I wish he would let me help. I can not go home and leave him here alone. I will not be able to sleep if I’m worrying about him.

Wei Wuxian sighed and gave in. How could he resist in the face of such sincerity? “Okay, Lan Zhan, I’ll let you help.”

It was still after 11:00 by the time they finished their tasks and made it out of the building. Wei Wuxian was resigning himself to a long, cold walk home and an early morning. He had missed the train and there wouldn’t be another until morning.

“Goodnight, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said with a yawn. “Thanks again.”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said. “Your train.”

Wei Wuxian waved his hand thoughtlessly. “It’s fine. It’s only an hour or so to walk home from here. It will be good exercise after spending all day at my desk.”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji called again, the magnetism of his voice holding Wei Wuxian in place. “Come home with me.”

“Ah, Lan Zhan, no, you don’t have to,” Wei Wuxian protested.

“I know,” Lan Wangji said. “Follow me.” He held out his hand to Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian laughed nervously and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Aiya, Lan Zhan, I’m not a child. You don’t have to lead me by the hand.”

Lan Wangji slightly raised one eyebrow. “Prove it,” he said.

Wei Wuxian spluttered a little. “Are you teasing me?”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji said, turning and walking away from him.

Wei Wuxian jogged a couple steps to catch up. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll stay at your place tonight, but I want it known that this is under great duress, and you bullied me into it.”

The corner of Lan Wangji’s mouth quirked up a little as they walked under a street lamp. “Mn,” he said again.

Lan Wangji’s house was as immaculate as the man himself. It was spotless and well laid out, minimally decorated but tasteful.

Lan Wangji took his shoes off by the door and disappeared into one of the rooms. He came back carrying a pair of red silk pajamas.

“You may use these,” Lan Wangji said, holding them out toward Wei Wuxian. “I will set up the futon for you to sleep.”

Wei Wuxian stepped forward to take the pajamas from Lan Wangji, and as he did so, their fingers brushed. Instead of words, Wei Wuxian was flooded with images of himself, dressed in the red pajamas, hair messy and eyes droopy from sleep, sitting across from Lan Wangji at the breakfast table while Lan Wangji feeds him, cradling a bunny in his arms and looking up at Lan Wangji with a sunny smile.

Wei Wuxian pulled back, stumbling awkwardly on the edge of the rug.

Lan Wangji’s brows furrowed just a little and Wei Wuxian looked around the room frantically, trying to change the subject. There was no way he could explain what had just happened without sounding like an absolute lunatic. A tiny white ball of fluff hopping out the door to Lan Wangji’s bedroom was the perfect excuse.

“Lan Zhan! Do you have a pet?” Wei Wuxian immediately crossed the room and dropped to his knees in front of the little rabbit.

“No,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian looked up at him, confused.

“Bichen is my companion,” he said.

Wei Wuxian’s heart melted. “She is precious,” he cooed, reaching out a hand for her to sniff. Bichen dodged his hand and hopped over to Lan Wangji, settling on top of his foot.

“Yes,” Lan Wangji said simply, squatting down and lifting her gently in one big hand. He cradled her softly before leaning close so Wei Wuxian could pet her. “Be gentle. She is shy and needs time to get used to you.”

Wei Wuxian carefully stroked one of her ears, his hand brushing against Lan Wangji’s chest as he did so.


Wei Wuxian jumped a little, then relaxed. Of course Lan Wangji thought his rabbit was beautiful. He loved her.

He chuckled nervously. “I should go to sleep, Lan Zhan.”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji nodded. “I will be in my room if you need anything.”

Wei Wuxian changed into the pajamas in the bathroom. They fit him perfectly and were the most comfortable things he had ever worn. Lan Wangji must have guests over frequently if he had special pajamas for them. How lucky that he had another friend who was Wei Wuxian’s exact size.

He yawned and lay down on the futon, and for the first time since he saw it, he allowed himself to dwell on the pictures he had seen in Lan Wangji’s mind. Wei Wuxian could hardly believe that was the way that Lan Wangji saw him. He was very lucky to be considered Lan Wangji’s friend. He couldn’t help wondering how Lan Wangji’s crush appeared in his mind’s eye if even mere acquaintances like Wei Wuxian were imagined with such care.

Wei Wuxian sighed. It didn’t matter how much he wanted it, Lan Wangji would never view him that way. Even with the turmoil of his thoughts, it didn’t take long for Wei Wuxian to fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.

The night at Lan Wangji’s seemed to signal some sort of change in their friendship. They exchanged phone numbers, and Lan Wangji didn’t complain about the hundreds of texts about inconsequential things that Wei Wuxian sent him throughout the day. Wei Wuxian was no longer stopping to buy spicy dumplings on his way in to work because Lan Wangji invariably made too much breakfast and brought it in case Wei Wuxian was hungry. A few weeks after that night, as Lan Wangji was slowly walking him to the train station, Wei Wuxian spilled one of his closely kept secrets.

“I’ve actually never dated anyone before,” he confided.

Lan Wangji raised an eyebrow.

“It’s true!” Wei Wuxian said. “I like to flirt and everything but when it comes to going out on dates…”

“You don’t wish to date?” Lan Wangji asked, a single wrinkle marring the perfect alabaster smoothness of his forehead.

“That’s not it,” Wei Wuxian said. “I want to fall in love, to hold hands with someone, to kiss them, know—” His cheeks heated.

“Then you want it to be special,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian couldn’t help but smile softly at Lan Wangji. “I do. I want it to be the right person.”

Lan Wangji took his hand, running his thumb gently over Wei Wuxian’s knuckles. There were no words, no images, just the slow syrupy warmth of summertime with a dose of contentment. “Whoever this person is, they are very lucky. They will get to be your first everything.”

Wei Wuxian snatched his hand back and used it to cover his burning face. “Lan Zhan!” he scolded. “How can you just look at me and say things with such sincerity?”

Lan Wangji’s mouth curled up into the smuggest look Wei Wuxian had ever seen on his face. “It is the truth.”

Wei Wuxian couldn’t look at him for a while, but eventually the heat in his face subsided and he could resume their conversation. They were less than a block away from the train station when he realized he didn’t really want this walk to end.

“We should go for dinner,” Wei Wuxian blurted out, turning to face Lan Wangji.

Lan Wangji looked stunned, but then a tiny but clearly visible smile appeared on his face. “Mn,” he said.

“Right now,” Wei Wuxian continued. “I’m starving. It will be my treat.”

Lan Wangji nodded. “Where would you like to go for our first date?”

Wei Wuxian’s mind went completely blank at the word “date.” Was that what he was asking for, what he wanted, or was he misleading Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji was seriously too good, accepting Wei Wuxian’s offer even when he was in love with someone else. In his sudden panic, he forgot to look where he was going and tripped over the curb.

It was like something out of a romance movie. Lan Wangji stepped forward and caught him, spinning a little and clutching him tightly so their faces were inches apart.

Lan Wangji’s eyes dropped to Wei Wuxian’s mouth, and Wei Wuxian was inundated by images. They were sweet at first: Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji at dinner, feeding each other dessert; Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji walking hand in hand; Lan Wangji buying flowers for Wei Wuxian from a flower cart on the corner. They soon became less sweet: Lan Wangji slowly undoing Wei Wuxian’s buttons and pulling off his shirt; Lan Wangji dropping to his knees in front of Wei Wuxian, mouth watering as he popped open the button on his slacks.

Wei Wuxian squeaked and tore himself from Lan Wangji’s arms. “I just remembered—I have a thing—I have to go.” He fled from Lan Wangji without looking back.

He wandered aimlessly for a while, ignoring the text alert on his phone. His feet were sore when he looked up and realized he was standing in front of Jiang Yanli’s door. Slowly, he trudged up the stairs and knocked, waiting for her to open the door.

“Oh, A’Xian, what’s the matter?” she asked when she saw him. It had been a few weeks since he had last visited and her pregnant belly seemed to have grown exponentially.

He shrugged. She opened the door wide so he could walk past her and let him lead the way to the kitchen.

Her ever-present pot of soup was simmering on the stove, and she didn’t even ask him before she served up a bowl and set it on the table.

He ate it slowly, savoring the familiar warmth and choking back tears.

“What’s wrong,” Jiang Yanli asked softly when he finally scooped the last of the soup out of the bowl.

“Can’t I just come and visit my favourite Shijie and my favourite nephew?” Wei Wuxian asked, carefully avoiding her gaze.

“Of course, A’Xian, you’re always welcome,” Jiang Yanli said, placing her warm hands over his. He hadn’t realized how cold he was.

“Shijie,” Wei Wuxian started. “How do you know if you like someone...if you maybe like like someone?”

Jiang Yanli smiled. “Does someone have your heart?”

“No,” Wei Wuxian protested, then winced. “Maybe?”

“Well, when you like someone, when you like like someone, you want to be with them all the time, and when you’re not with them, everything reminds you of them. You want to share the little joys you find during the day, and they’re the first one you tell when you’re sad,” Jiang Yanli said softly. “Sometimes you do things you would never ordinarily do just to see them smile, like when A’Xuan built my lotus pond with his own two hands.”

Wei Wuxian grimaced at the mention of the peacock, but then her words sunk in. He dropped his head into his hands and moaned. “Shijie, I think I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

Lan Wangji avoided him the next day at work. Wei Wuxian hadn’t sent a single text since he had run away from him on the street, and Lan Wangji hadn’t reached out either. Maybe no one else would have been able to notice, but Lan Wangji looked sad. Wei Wuxian felt terrible because he knew it was all his fault.

He felt so stupid. This whole time, he’d been trying to figure out who Lan Wangji’s office crush was, and it had been him the whole time. No sooner had he figured it out then he’d fucked up the entire thing.

Wei Wuxian wanted to walk up to Lan Wangji and apologize, maybe ask him out for real, but he had no idea what to say, so he convinced himself that Lan Wangji needed the space and left it at that.

It was a long day at work. Jin Zixun was in rare form, simultaneously piling the work on and implying that Wei Wuxian’s work was subpar. Wei Wuxian didn’t realize just how much he’d come to depend on his little Lan Wangji interludes to make the day just a little more bearable.

Today was Friday; if he didn’t speak to Lan Wangji today, he wouldn’t see him until Monday. Maybe the weekend would give him time to come up with something. He needed to figure out how to fix this.

His evening at home was even worse than his work day. He had no more work to do and ample time to think about where he had gone wrong. It was enough to drive him mad.

He was just considering going out to buy some wine when his phone rang. His heart leapt into his throat when he saw Lan Wangji’s picture pop up on his screen.

He almost dropped the phone trying to get it to his ear but he managed to answer the call. “Lan Zhan?”

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said, sounding unbearably sad. “You’re not here.”

“What?” Wei Wuxian asked, chuckling nervously. “Were we supposed to meet up?”

Lan Wangji sighed heavily into the phone. “No,” he said.

“Lan Zhan, I’m confused. Why are you calling?” Wei Wuxian asked. “If you’re mad at me—”

“Not at you,” Lan Wangji interrupted.

“Then who are you mad at?” Wei Wuxian asked.

“I...have my regrets,” Lan Wangji said, his voice slurring slightly.

“Lan Zhan, are you drunk?” Wei Wuxian asked, incredulous.

“Mn,” Lan Wangji said. “It’s loud and...spinny.”

“Where are you?” Wei Wuxian asked, putting Lan Wangji on speaker so he could pull off his lounging clothes and get ready to go outside.

“Bar,” Lan Wangji said. He sounded absolutely miserable.

“Are you with somebody?” Wei Wuxian asked, haphazardly tightening his shoelaces.

“No,” Lan Wangji said. “You’re not here.”

“I know, but did you go to the bar with a friend?” Wei Wuxian asked, checking his pockets to make sure he had his wallet and keys

“Nobody’s my friend except Wei Ying and bunnies,” Lan Wangji said, sniffling into the phone.

Wei Wuxian was going to have to unpack that later. “Lan Zhan, what bar are you in? I’ll come get you, but you need to tell me where you are.”

“It’s...not good,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian wanted to curse in frustration. “Is there a bartender nearby? Can you give them your phone so I can talk to them?”

“No flirting,” Lan Wangji said, a possessive growl in his voice.

“I don’t want to flirt; I just want to find you.”

There was silence from the other end while Wei Wuxian practically danced in place. After what felt like an eternity, a confused woman spoke on the other end of the line. “Hello?”

“Hi, my friend is really drunk and can’t tell me the name of the bar he’s in. Can you tell me your address?” Wei Wuxian asked.

She rattled it off quickly. Thankfully it was closer to his neighbourhood than Lan Wangji’s so Wei Wuxian could get there on foot.

“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes, twenty tops,” Wei Wuxian said. “Can you keep an eye on him until I get there, maybe bring him a glass of water?”

“Yeah, I can do that. You’re on your way?” the woman asked.

“Yeah, can you give the phone back to Lan Wangji?”

“Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji said a moment later. “That woman took my phone.”

“Yeah, I know; it’s okay,” Wei Wuxian said.

“Thirsty,” Lan Wangji said. Wei Wuxian could practically hear the pout in his voice.

“The bartender is going to bring you a glass of water. Can you drink it all before I get there?”

“You’re coming?” Lan Wangji asked.

“Yes, I am already on my way,” Wei Wuxian promised. “Just hang tight.”

“Okay,” Lan Wangji said. He didn’t say anything else as Wei Wuxian jogged to the bar, but he didn’t hang up the phone either.

Wei Wuxian was completely out of breath when he arrived. He looked wildly around the room before spotting Lan Wangji sitting at the bar with his head in his hands, an empty water glass sitting beside him.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian called, pushing his way past the other patrons to get to his friend’s side.

Lan Wangji looked up and his face was so soft that Wei Wuxian was stopped in his tracks.

“I did it, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said, nudging the empty glass toward Wei Wuxian once he reached his side.

“Good job, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying said brightly, trying not to let his worry show on his face. “How about we go for a walk?”

Lan Wangji lurched gracelessly to his feet. Wei Wuxian would have preferred to get him home without touching him, but he was far too unsteady to walk on his own.

Lan Wangji seemed to be too drunk for coherence. Wei Wuxian wasn’t hearing any of his thoughts but instead was being bombarded with a slew of conflicting emotions; happiness and contentment, deep sadness, confusion, and more than a little nausea.

Wei Wuxian decided quickly that he was going to take Lan Wangji home. It was too far to get him to his own place, and Wei Wuxian didn’t trust a didi to get him there in one piece.

Lan Wangji was heavy, and his balance was shot, but he wasn’t fighting Wei Wuxian.

After they had been walking for a few minutes, Wei Wuxian cleared his throat. “Lan Zhan, did you get drunk because of me?”

Lan Wangji didn’t answer.

They were walking by a park, and Lan Wangji evidently decided he was no longer going to follow Wei Wuxian. He staggered off to the side of the road and knelt, nearly going face first into the dirt.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said, frustrated. “You’re getting all dirty.”

Lan Wangji turned around and held out a fistful of flowers toward Wei Wuxian. They had been uprooted completely, and dark soil fell from the bundle onto Wei Wuxian’s shoes.

Wei Wuxian looked at them, not understanding what Lan Wangji wanted.

“They’re for you,” Lan Wangji said after a few moments. “Do you like them?”

“Aiya, Lan Zhan, you can’t just pick flowers from a public park,” Wei Wuxian said.

Lan Wangji looked absolutely crestfallen.

“It’s okay,” Wei Wuxian said. “They’re very pretty. I’ll put them in some water when I get home.”

Lan Wangji nodded and continued to hold out the flowers until Wei Wuxian took them.

Wei Wuxian was exhausted by the time he got Lan Wangji up the stairs to his apartment. He still had to get another glass of water into him. He gave up on getting him into sleep clothes. Lan Wangji was too out of it to dress himself and Wei Wuxian was not about to do it for him. He got him out of his jacket and tie and showed him to his bed.

Wei Wuxian had every intention of sleeping on the floor, but the moment he tried to walk away from the bed, Lan Wangji grabbed him and pulled him into the bed, wrapping himself around him like an octopus.

Wei Ying is my favourite person.

Wei Wuxian’s face heated and he struggled to get away, but Lan Wangji was relentlessly strong.

I wish I could spend every night like this, with him in my arms.

Wei Wuxian groaned and resigned himself to a sleepless night. Surprisingly, he drifted off almost immediately and had the best sleep he’d had in a long time. Lan Wangji was gone when he woke up.

Wei Wuxian wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived at work on Monday, but it was almost like the events of the weekend hadn’t happened. Lan Wangji didn’t even look at him.

Wei Wuxian had a slower day and spent most of his time moping. Obviously Lan Wangji regretted everything from that night. Maybe it would be best if they both forgot their friendship had ever happened.

Wei Wuxian dawdled on his way out of the office, not wanting to put up with sharing the elevator with his coworkers. By the time he packed up his things and shut down his computer, the building was all but deserted.

Wei Wuxian walked out the office door and startled violently when he heard a voice.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said softly from where he had been waiting for Wei Wuxian to leave.

“Lan Zhan, how are you?” Wei Wuxian asked. “I hope you weren’t too hungover.”

The tips of Lan Wangji’s ears turned red. “I apologize for my actions,” he said. “They were inappropriate and selfish. I regret the damage I have caused to our friendship.”

“Lan Zhan, what are you talking about?” Wei Wuxian said. “You just got a little drunk.”

Lan Wangji took a deep breath. “I have feelings for you. They are not platonic in nature. You have told me that you do not wish to date, and as your friend and someone who admires you deeply, I should have respected your wishes.”

“Lan Zhan, you don’t—” Wei Wuxian said.

“I will go,” Lan Wangji said, turning precisely on his heel and leaving through the stairwell.

Wei Wuxian watched him go in complete and utter shock. Lan Wangji had just confessed and Wei Wuxian had stood there like an idiot.

He stood there for far too long while his mind did the equivalent of the blue screen of death. Eventually he snapped out of it and bolted after Lan Wangji, trying to catch up with him.

Lan Wangji must have been moving quickly because Wei Wuxian didn’t catch him until he was on the ground floor.

“Lan Zhan!” he shouted from one flight up. “I really want to sleep with you.”

Lan Wangji stopped, staring up at Wei Wuxian in confusion. Wei Wuxian ran down the last flight of stairs, tripping on the second last one, and practically hurling himself bodily into Lan Wangji’s arms.

I must have misheard.

“You didn’t mishear me,” Wei Wuxian gasped. “I’ve never been in love before so I didn’t know what it felt like, but I like you, I love you, I whatever you. I want to move in with you and have sex with you all the time and kiss you in the morning and always eat your cooking.”

“Wei Ying, are you sure?” Lan Wangji asked, arms tight around Wei Wuxian.

I don’t know if I could take it if he rejected me now.

“I mean it, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said. “I’m sure. I love you.”

Lan Wangji smiled; Wei Wuxian would have fallen to the ground at the sight of it if Lan Wangji hadn’t been holding him so tightly.

Wei Wuxian barely had time to breathe before Lan Wangji pulled him close and crushed their lips together.

Am I dreaming?

“You’re not,” Wei Wuxian said when they pulled apart to breathe. “You’re not dreaming.”

Lan Wangji looked puzzled. “Did I say that out loud?”

Wei Wuxian giggled and buried his head in Lan Wangji’s chest. This was a conversation he wasn’t looking forward to. The longer he could put it off the better.

“Maybe,” Wei Wuxian started. “Maybe we should go on that date.”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji nodded.

Dinner was lovely. Wei Wuxian had been spending time with Lan Wangji for quite a while but he had no idea how much better going on a real date could be.

Lan Wangji took every opportunity to hold his hand, projecting such sheer sincerity that Wei Wuxian was overcome every time. He picked the best pieces out of each dish to place in Wei Wuxian’s bowl and looked at him adoringly. He walked Wei Wuxian home at the end of the night, footsteps growing slower as the evening drew to a close.

Lan Wangji kissed him goodnight on his doorstep, lingering, like he couldn’t bear to let go. There were no words, but Wei Wuxian could feel the want simmering under Lan Wangji’s skin, combined with the determination not to pressure Wei Wuxian into anything.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whispered. “Why do you like me?”

Pictures flooded Wei Wuxian’s mind: Wei Wuxian focussed on his computer, chewing his lip in concentration; Wei Wuxian laughing at a coworker’s joke; Wei Wuxian playing a prank on Lan Wangji’s uncle when he visited; Wei Wuxian taking the sole punishment for an error so a coworker wouldn’t get fired.

Lan Wangji didn’t mention any of those things. “When we first started working together, Jin Zixun took all the new hires out for that party.”

Wei Wuxian grimaced when he remembered that night. It had been a power play of sorts. The asshole was trying to assert dominance over all the new people, trying to make sure they respected and feared him.

“Jin Zixun tried to force me to drink, even though I told him I do not consume alcohol. You took the drink from his hand and drank it for me,” Lan Wangji said.

“That’s it?” Wei Wuxian asked skeptically. “I took one drink in your place?”

“That was the first time I caught a glimpse of who you are,” Lan Wangji said. “You’re not afraid to put yourself in the center of negative attention to protect people around you.”

Wei Wuxian buried his face in Lan Wangji’s chest. “You can’t just say things like that without warning.”

It doesn’t feel like I’ve said enough. Wei Ying, forgive me for my insufficient words.

Wei Wuxian took a deep breath, willing himself to have courage. “Would you like to come inside?”

Lan Wangji’s arms tightened reflexively around him, and Wei Wuxian could feel the lust rising in him. It wasn’t quite so scary this time.

“You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do,” Lan Wangji said. “I am willing to wait until you are ready.”

“Come inside, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian said, stepping out of Lan Wangji’s arms to open the door.

Lan Wangji followed him in and took off his shoes, lining them up carefully beside the door. Wei Wuxian kicked his off in the same general direction and they landed close by.

Wei Wuxian wrapped his arms around his chest, shivering a little. “It’s colder than I expected. Would you like some tea?”

“Mn,” Lan Wangji nodded.

Wei Wuxian bustled around the kitchen putting the kettle on to boil and digging around his cupboards for the fancy green tea Jiang Yanli preferred when she visited. Soon they were sitting awkwardly on the couch, hands wrapped around tea cups.

Wei Wuxian knew he couldn’t put off the conversation any longer.

“Lan Zhan, I have something to tell you.” Wei Wuxian said.

Lan Wangji set his tea cup down to devote his undivided attention to Wei Wuxian.

“I’m thirty,” Wei Wuxian started.

“Mn,” Lan Wangji said, his brow furrowing.

“I’m also a virgin,” Wei Wuxian continued.

“I know, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said. “I promise, we do not have to do anything if you don’t want to.”

“That’s not it,” Wei Wuxian said. “I don’t feel pressured, I promise. Have you heard the legend that if you are still a virgin on your thirtieth birthday, you get magic powers?”

Lan Wangji looked confused. Clearly, this was not what he was expecting. “I have heard the story. I assumed it was incorrect.

“Well it isn’t,” Wei Wuxian said. “On my thirtieth birthday, I woke up with magic powers. I can read the minds of anyone I touch.”

The furrow in Lan Wangji’s brow grew imperceptibly deeper. He reached out a hand toward Wei Wuxian. “What am I thinking about.”

Wei Wuxian took Lan Wangji’s hand and smiled when he heard the thought. “You’re thinking about your rabbit and hoping your brother is taking good care of her tonight.”

Lan Wangji pulled his hand back and looked down at it. “You’ve been able to read my mind that long?”

Wei Wuxian nodded. “I’m sorry; I tried not to spy on you, but I really wanted to be your friend.”

“Why did you wait so long to confess when you have known of my feelings for months?” Lan Wangji asked, sadness in his eyes.

Wei Wuxian laughed nervously. “The thing is, I didn’t think it was me. I knew you had a crush on someone in the office, but I thought it was Nie Huaisang.”

The look Lan Wangji gave him was so outraged and offended that Wei Wuxian couldn’t help bursting into laughter.

“Could you not feel my regard for you?” Lan Wangji asked.

“Ah, Lan Zhan, you’re so good. I think you just see the best in everybody,” Wei Wuxian admitted.

Lan Wangji sat back and looked down at his hands.

“It’s okay if you want to break up—” Wei Wuxian said.

“No!” Lan Wangji interjected. “I am not good with words. I am unsure any of this would have happened if you were not able to hear what I could not say.”

Unexpectedly, Wei Wuxian found his eyes filling with tears. “Oh...good.”

Lan Wangji reached out and tenderly wiped the tears away. “Wei Ying, thank you for telling me.”

Weu Wuxian smiled through his tears and leaned forward, capturing Lan Wangji’s lips in a salty kiss.

It started out sweet but soon grew heated. Lan Wangji cradled his face, then shifted to hold the back of his head, before running his hands up and down Wei Wuxian’s sides, his palms like burning brands even through Wei Wuxian’s shirt.

Lan Wangji pulled Wei Wuxian into his lap and Wei Wuxian was only too happy to comply. It took him mere seconds to notice that Lan Wangji was hard beneath him; his own erection was quick to respond and he ground down, moaning as bright bursts of pleasure appeared beneath his closed eyelids.

Breathing hard, he pulled away to look at Lan Wangji.

“Too far?” Lan Wangji asked, his voice wrecked.

Wei Wuxian shook his head. “I only thought the bed might be more comfortable.”

Lan Wangji growled deep in his throat, planted both palms squarely on Wei Wuxian’s ass, and rose in one swift, fluid motion.

Wei Wuxian squeaked in surprise before moaning as Lan Wangji carried him to bed and tossed him onto the mattress.

An uncertain look crossed Lan Wangji’s face as he reached for his buttons. Wei Wuxian answered his unspoken question by ripping off his own shirt and shimmying out of his pants. He hesitated with his hands on the band of his underwear, wondering if it would be a step too far.

Lan Wangji followed his lead, stripping quickly and efficiently. He had no qualms about removing his underwear and was soon standing perfectly and gloriously bare in front of Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian could only stare, but eventually, his mind rebooted and he removed his underwear too, flinging it somewhere in the vicinity of his laundry basket.

Lan Wangji slowly got onto the bed, hovering in a plank position over Wei Wuxian, waiting for something, Wei Wuxian wasn’t sure what.

“If this is too much—” Lan Wangji started again.

Wei Wuxian grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him down so they were skin to skin.

Lan Wangji was startled into an involuntary moan as their bodies came together. He claimed Wei Wuxian’s lips again for a fierce, bruising kiss before letting his mouth wander, biting and sucking at Wei Wuxian’s jaw and neck.

Wei Wuxian was almost too lost in his own mind to register what Lan Wangji was thinking about, but eventually it was too strong to ignore. Lan Wangji’s mind was filled with images: his fingers, opening Wei Wuxian up; Wei Wuxian writhing on his cock, practically bent in half as Lan Wangji railed him within an inch of his life.

“Yes,” Wei Wuxian moaned. “Yes, I want that.”

Lan Wangji pulled back, dazed. “What? What do you want?”

“You in me,” Wei Wuxian said before burying his face in Lan Wangji’s shoulder.

“Be clear,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian peeked up at Lan Wangji and hid his face again at the intensity in his gaze.

“Fuck me,” Wei Wuxian whispered.

“Louder,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian pouted up at him. “You’re so mean.”

“I will not do anything to you unless you can ask for it,” Lan Wangji persisted.

“Fuck me,” Wei Wuxian said impatiently. “I want your fingers in my ass and then your cock in my ass and I want you to break me in half. Satisfied?”

“Very,” Lan Wangji rumbled. He rolled over to reach for his jeans, pulling a condom and a packet of lube from his pocket.

“I thought you said you didn’t expect anything from me,” Wei Wuxian said.

“It is good to be prepared,” Lan Wangji said before claiming Wei Wuxian’s mouth again.

Wei Wuxian gasped and jumped as he felt a slick finger probing at his entrance.

“Relax,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian let himself fall into the sensations as Lan Wangji stretched him. He could feel his orgasm building and he pushed Lan Wangji back.

“That’s enough,” he said. “I’m ready.”

Lan Wangji thrust a few more times, making Wei Wuxian cry out before he nodded and pulled out, leaving Wei Wuxian feeling empty.

Wei Wuxian took a moment to catch his breath as Lan Wangji rolled on the condom.

“Ready?” Lan Wangji asked, leaning over Wei Wuxian to kiss him tenderly.

“Wait,” Wei Wuxian said, a sudden fear coming over him.

Lan Wangji pulled back. “We can stop if you’re not ready.”

“It’s not that,” Wei Wuxian said. “The only reason we are together is because I could read your thoughts. The moment we do this, I lose that ability. What if that changes something between us?”

Lan Wangji dropped a quick kiss on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder. “It will not.”

“What if I forget that you love me?” Wei Wuxian asked.

Lan Wangji gave him the same look he had given when Wei Wuxian admitted he thought he liked Nie Huaisang. “I will tell you.”

“Do you promise?” Wei Wuxian asked.

“I will,” Lan Wangji said. “I promise Wei Ying I will tell him everything I am thinking so he never forgets I love him.”

Wei Wuxian brought his hand up to cradle Lan Wangji’s face. “What are you thinking right now?”

I love Wei Ying.

“I love Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said, softly, reverently.

Wei Wuxian grinned. “Okay,” he said. “I’m ready.”

Lan Wangji pushed in slowly, and Wei Wuxian wailed at the intrusion.

Lan Wangji paused to give him time to adjust, but Wei Wuxian was soon thrusting back at him, trying to get him deeper.

Wei Ying is so beautiful like this.

“Wei Ying is so beautiful like this,” Lan Wangji said, thrusting deeper.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian protested. “How can you say such things without warning?”

Lan Wangji was relentless.

Wei Ying is so good.

“Wei Ying is so good,” Lan Wangji said, thrusting so hard that Wei Wuxian’s breath left him in a rush.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whined. “Stop that.”

“I promised,” Lan Wangji said, setting a pace that was achingly slow as Wei Wuxian writhed beneath him.

“Fuck,” Wei Wuxian said brokenly as Lan Wangji hit a spot inside of him that made him see stars.

Love Wei Ying.

“Love Wei Ying.”

Want to marry Wei Ying.

“Want to marry Wei Ying.”

Want to cook for Wei Ying every morning.

“Want to cook for Wei Ying every morning.”

Want to kiss goodnight every night.

“Want to kiss goodnight every night.”

Want to fuck everyday.

“Want to fuck everyday.”

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian wailed, startled to realize he was crying. “I can’t take it.”

“You can and you will,” Lan Wangji said, speeding up his rhythm so Wei Wuxian could do nothing more than cry and hang on.

“Come for me, Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji said, setting his teeth in Wei Wuxian’s shoulder and biting down.

Wei Wuxian came with a broken cry, and Lan Wangji followed; his arms collapsed and he blanketed Wei Wuxian with his warm, solid weight.

Wei Wuxian slowly came down from his orgasm and realized that he was once again alone in his mind. There was complete silence from Lan Wangji.

Lan Wangji rolled onto his back, pulling Wei Wuxian with him to lie on top. “Beautiful,” he said, tracing the line of Wei Wuxian’s shoulder blade with the tip of his finger.

Wei Wuxian shuddered. “Lan Zhan, you can’t say such things. This one’s heart can’t take it.”

“Mn, you can,” Lan Wangji said, bringing his hand up to cradle the back of Wei Wuxian’s head.

A sudden thought struck Wei Wuxian and he bolted upright. “You said you wanted to marry me,” he accused.

The corners of Lan Wangji’s mouth softened and tipped up in a look of pure bliss. “Mn,” he said.

“You can’t,” Wei Wuxian said. “It’s too soon.”

Lan Wangji shook his head and leaned over the side of the bed once more. He pulled a small box out of the other pocket of his jeans and opened it to reveal a set of two simple silver rings, each engraved with a cloud pattern. “It is good to be prepared,” he said.

Wei Wuxian looked at him and the rings in his hand, shocked completely speechless. “Are you...are you asking?” he asked in a small voice.

Lan Wangji shook his head. “Not if you don’t wish me to ask.”

“What if I do want you to ask?” Wei Wuxian asked.

“Then it is yours,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian held out his hand expectantly. Lan Wangji took it in his and kissed his fingertips before taking one of the rings and sliding it onto Wei Wuxian’s finger.

“Now you,” Wei Wuxian said, taking the other ring from the box. He put in on Lan Wangji’s finger and then held his hand so he could admire how they looked together.

Lan Wangji only let him look for so long before he pulled him into a kiss.

Later, after they were cleaned up and snuggled into bed, under the covers this time, Wei Wuxian was hit with a sudden thought.

“Lan Zhan, when we tell people we’re getting married, they’re going to want to know how we got together,” he said urgently.

“Mn?” Lan Wangji asked sleepily.

“There is no way we can tell them the truth,” Wei Wuxian said.

Lan Wangji huffed, laughing lightly. “Go to sleep, Wei Ying. That can be tomorrow’s problem. I wish to spend the night with my fiance in my arms.”

Wei Wuxian blushed and settled back, letting Lan Wangji’s warmth surround him. “Okay,” he said, drifting off. “Tomorrow.”