This was the challenge:
“All you need to do,” Nie Huaisang said, eyes glinting and sharp with determination, “is distract the younger brother by any means necessary. Just keep him with you, okay? Don't let him get away.”
It was such an easy task, so simple in its instruction, that Wei Wuxian did not hesitate to say, “Yes, of course, my good friend. You can count on me!” Wei Wuxian was gifted in many departments. He was smart, he was creative, and he was handsome — Jiang Yanli, the bestest sister in the entire world, made of all things pure and good in life — and possibly the fourth powerpuff girl — had told him so, so surely it was true. And just as surely, one of these blessings would be enough to take care of one measly gym rat.
This was the plan:
“It's a rival gym, not my brother's,” Nie Huaisang said, foregoing greetings of any kind as soon as Wei Wuxian had opened his front door with bleary eyes and a mild glare. His long, black hair was wild, flat on one side and puffing out on the other, bangs in his face without care. “Yes, yes, sorry,” he said hastily as he caught the dirty look Wei Wuxian sported, “I might have neglected to mention how early we'd have to get up — sorry! Truly! Wei-xiong, please forgive me, but I couldn't risk telling you or you might not have agreed to help me!”
“You're evil,” Wei Wuxian told him furiously. “Why am I friends with you,” he went on to demand. “Do you know what time it is? I don't think Wen Qing is even home yet! It's still dark!” He waved a hand at the nearest window, across the living room to his left. “Look! It's night! People are asleep! I was asleep! This is the rudest thing you've ever done to me. I am offended!”
“We-xiong, my heart's wellbeing depends on you!” Nie Huaisang whined at him. He clutched at his chest, a full white paper bag crinkling in his right hand, eyes turning pleading and lips pouting. “I need you, Wei-xiong. You're my best friend. I can't do this without you!”
Wei Wuxian glared at him.
“You're a bitch,” Wei Wuxian decided. “But I love you. Ugh, why are we up before the asscrack of dawn? Who even gets up before the sun does?”
“The love of my life does,” Nie Huaisang said seriously, dropping the pleading act at once. He placed his hands at his waist, bag bumping his hip. He was already dressed in tight-fitting forest-green yoga pants and a dandelion-yellow crop top with a wide neck that was slipping off his shoulder, baring his collarbone in a tempting way. His long hair was pulled up in a “messy” bun that Wei Wuxian was sure had taken hours to get so artfully tousled with soft bangs framing the sides of his face. Wei Wuxian recognized this ensemble. It was Nie Huaisang's “serious business” outfit — if by “serious business” one meant “check out my ass”. All his best assets were nicely featured, emphasis on the assets. He was dressed to impress, and Wei Wuxian sighed.
“The love of your life is a robot,” Wei Wuxian declared. “He was made from an alarm clock, the most evil of technology.”
“Oh, for sure,” Nie Huaisang readily agreed. “If he weren't so hot, I'd have given him up because of the obscenely early rise alone.”
Curiosity pulled at Wei Wuxian, and his disgruntlement lessened as he straightened from his slump against the door.
“Is he really that good-looking?” Wei Wuxian asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Wei-xiong,” Nie Huaisang said, exasperated. He jabbed a hand at the same window Wei Wuxian had. “I'm up before the asscrack of dawn. Trust me, he is that hot!”
Wei Wuxian tilted his head in agreement, yielding to the sense of it.
“Well, now I'm curious,” Wei Wuxian said, straightening entirely. He motioned Nie Huaisang inside, shut the door, and made his way to his room. “Speak,” he called imperiously as he paused inside his bathroom to quickly pull up his hair and splash water on his face. He started brushing his teeth as he rummaged around for clothes, digging through the pile of laundry on top of his dresser with his unoccupied hand. His younger brother, Jiang Cheng, would call him sloppy if he were present — he never failed to comment on how messy Wei Wuxian was. Wei Wuxian thought Jiang Cheng should mind his own business and consider himself lucky the clothes had made it to the dresser at all, otherwise he would have no room to sit when he came over to hang. “And make me coffee!”
“Yes, your highness,” Nie Huaisaing said. He retreated into the kitchen as he talked. “So, the love of my life works out at the asscrack of dawn, as we've just discussed. In fact, we're probably running late already if we wanna catch them before they start their workout, so hurry!”
“Going as fast as I can,” Wei Wuxian grumped through a mouthful of froth, grabbing clothes and running back to the bathroom to spit and rinse.
“Anyway,” Nie Huaisang continued, “my gorgeous man works out with his brother — as previously stated — every single time. Without fail. And let me tell you, it's unnerving as fuck to try and hold a conversation with Hottie McBeef when Grumpy McBeef is standing right next to him, glaring at you hard enough to make you rethink every life decision. You can feel the judgement and it's ice-cold.”
“This is the guy I need to distract?” Wei Wuxian called back, voice muffled as he stumbled out of his room, shimmying his way into some black shorts as he went. He tugged at the red tank top he was halfwearing, slipping his arm through the other hole and taking the pair of socks from the clench of his teeth to yank them on. “Oh, no, is he another Jin Zixuan? Nie Huaisang! You're sending me to make nice with another Judgey McJudgerson? Just how cruel are you? You call yourself my best friend? Our friendship is over after this. You can be best friends with Jiang Cheng. I'm submitting an application for a new best friend. One who won't throw me to the dogs!”
Nie Huaisang appeared with a thermos of coffee and brandished the white paper bag. The fucker had obviously planned for Wei Wuxian's dissent.
“Croissant sandwich,” he said pointedly, and Wei Wuxian gasped, grabbing the bag from his hand. “With the spicy dressing you like.”
“Your lease for friendship has been extended, Nie-xiong,” Wei Wuxian said happily as he dug into the bag and yanked out the sandwich. He peeled the paper away and bit into it, humming in delight. “Okay,” he said through his chews. “I can handle one grumpy bitch. Let me at 'em.” He took the thermos next, sipping carefully. “Ugh, how do you manage to make coffee better than me? It's my machine! It comes from a pod! What witchcraft are you pulling here?”
“We're clear on what you need to do?” Nie Huaisang asked, ignoring his dramatics like the secretly rude fucker he was. Wei Wuxian thought he and Jiang Cheng were made for each other. It was too bad that neither of them seemed to agree. Things would have been much simpler if that was the case.
Wei Wuxian sure as hell would not have to interact with any Jin Zixuan double — ugh, fuck his life.
“Don't worry, babe,” Wei Wuxian said with a smug smirk. “I gotchu. I'll have that guy so distracted, you'll manage to get to second base.” He paused. “Does this Jin Zixuan Copy like guys? I could try flirting if all else fails. You know I'm a good flirt.”
“Oh, honey,” Nie Huaisaing said, pity in his eyes. “I don't even know if he's human. I've never even heard him speak. My darling talks to him like he can read his mind! I don't know if the dude can speak. I know you can charm the best and worst of them, but you might meet your match here. You've got your work cut out for you, Wei-xiong. Just stick to keeping him away from my future husband, and I will owe you forever.”
“What's his name, anyway?” Wei Wuxian asked, stuffing as much of the sandwich into his mouth as he could.
“My darling?” Nie Huaisang asked.
“No,” Wei Wuxian said, having the decency to cover his mouth when he laughed. “My mark.”
This was the execution:
“You didn't say they were twins!” Wei Wuxian hissed as they crossed onto the gym floor proper. Nie Huaisang had just pointed out the targets, and Wei Wuxian was wide-eyed. Nie Huaisang had not been kidding about Hottie and Grumpy McBeef. Holy shit. If Wei Wuxian had been into men, he would have swooned. “Shit, how do you tell them apart — oh, wait, I know which one's grumpy.”
Indeed, of the two statuesque, pale, men with long black hair braided down their backs emerging from the locker room, one seemed to have an unfortunate resting bitch face. It would have looked a lot more neutral if not for his considerable height and intimidating stance. He held himself tightly, hands behind his back in proper posture, movements sure and carefully controlled. Wei Wuxian would applaud such dignity if it had not been so boring.
“They're not,” Nie Huaisang mumbled as he grabbed Wei Wuxian by his bicep and led him over. “They're like three years apart in age. They just have an uncanny resemblance — Hi there!”
Wei Wuxian was introduced to the Twin Jades, and what an apt, yet corny, nickname that was! He barely managed to hold in his snort!
“It's his first time,” Nie Huaisang was saying of Wei Wuxian. And boy did that give him the perfect idea! But then Lan Wangji was turning to Lan Xichen, as if about to speak, drawing his brother's attention at once. The two brothers shared a brief look.
“Very well, I'll meet you there,” Lan Xichen said, and Wei Wuxian fought not to share his own incredulous look with Nie Huaisang. Uncanny! Maybe Lan Xichen could truly read his brother's mind. A freaky prospect.
But, oh, shit, his mark was leaving!
“Wait!” Wei Wuxian called as he caught up to the younger brother. He immediately assumed his most innocent look.
Lan Wangji turned to him, flat expression unchanged. If he had not been looking right at Wei Wuxian, he would have thought he had not even noticed his presence.
“I have never exercised a day in my life,” Wei Wuxian adamantly swore as he gazed up at Lan Wangji with beguiling silver eyes and the most earnest expression that had ever graced his face.
Yet, Lan Wangji, the extremely attractive man with nearly golden eyes, thin pink lips, and unfortunate bitch face, tore his eyes away from his own and raked that cold gaze down his neck, across his shoulders, to his arms, his abdomen, his bare thighs, scalding with its frigidness, leaving his skin tingling as it stopped at his calves.
Holy shit, Nie Huaisang had not been kidding about this dude's glare.
“Mn,” was all Lan Wangji said. His expression revealed exactly nothing, but somehow, that little noncommittal sound came out very judgmental and disbelieving. Wei Wuxian felt very judged, offendingly so. It riled him, raising the hairs on the back of his neck with a need to bare his teeth in a less pleasing manner. He only just tamped down his need to snap. From what exactly he would defend from, he did not know, as Lan Wangji had not even deigned to utter a syllable and instead had hummed at him in no particular way. Ugh, Wei Wuxian wanted to pull on his adorably small ears and tweak his nose. Maybe if he did, Lan Wangji would give him something more than a “Mn.”
“So,” Wei Wuxian said, because he could not remain silent to save his life. He was sure he perished in a past life for talking too much. Possibly horribly, consumed by a zombie horde just to get him to shut up. “So can you help me out?” He said, tilting his head to the side and down, letting his long hair — fixed by Nie Huaisang on the way over to make at least a slightly better first impression — fall over his shoulder as he peered up through his lashes as tauntingly as he could. He was a natural taunter. Jiang Cheng told him so nearly every day. Only, Jiang Cheng called it “being a little shit-stirrer”.
Jiang Cheng was a rude bitch, but Wei Wuxian loved him anyway.
“Mn,” Lan Wangji did not say. Because “mn” was not a fucking word, so he could not have possibly said so. It had no syllables and thus did not fucking count. It was a goddamned hum. A glorified hum at that!
“Mn,” Wei Wuxian could not help but mimic him exactly. His Little Shit-stirrer genes were dominant after all. He got them from his momma, as far as he remembered. It was a hereditary medical condition. He swore it was. He just needed to find a doctor who could clear it as such. Maybe then he would not get into so much trouble.
A doctor's excuse would let him get away with a lot! Nobody questioned doctors … except for their patients.
Unfortunately for him, Wen Qing, the only doctor he knew, was adamantly against indulging him. She was so cruel and petty, but Wei Wuxian loved her anyway. He would let her use him as a rug if she desired it. He had totally let her use him as a foot warmer during the winter season as they watched tv together. And her toes were like ice cubes, too.
When he thought of it, it made sense that Wen Qing had fallen for his rude bitch of a brother. They were both cruel and unusual. It was a running theme in Wei Wuxian's life at this point. Nie Huaisang would agree with him. But Nie Huaisang was currently flirting with the other attractive Lan.
Which brought Wei Wuxian full circle to what the fuck he was doing at the moment. Distracting Lan Wangji. So Nie Huaisang could get his flirt on. Oh, if only Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing were open to a threesome. They could absorb Nie Huaisang into their cruel and unusual dynamic, and Wei Wuxian would not have to do this at all!
Such a pity.
Wei Wuxian was the best friend. The best wingman. The best everything. Jiang Cheng should recognize.
“There are personal trainers to help you as you wish.”
And, holy shit! Actual words! Wei Wuxian was stunned! Taken aback! Wow! Oh, wow! What a fucking voice!
Lan Wangji had a voice deep like an ocean that lapped over his skin and left it soothed with the sensation. It was like aloe vera on a burn, like chapstick on chapped lips. Wei Wuxian could get used to that voice. He could sensory-deprivation-tank himself in that voice.
“You gotta pay for that, though,” Wei Wuxian was quick to quip. “C'mon,” he said, tilting his head the other way. His ponytail followed, flitting off his shoulder, across his back, and over the other. He could feel the ends brushing over his collarbone, bared above the low neckline of his top. “You don't even have to change your routine! I'll follow along with everything you do. You just look so strong and athletic. So capable! I bet you know your way around everything! And I don't know how to use anything here. Let me shadow you. Let me learn from you. This novice would greatly appreciate it!”
Lan Wangji narrowed his golden eyes at Wei Wuxian, but Wei Wuxian did not let his earnest, eager expression even flicker. He remained, smiling and sweet and innocent, hands clasped behind his back like he had never dirtied a single finger in his life.
“Please?” Wei Wuxian said, throwing in a sweet lilt to his voice.
The tip of Lan Wangji's ears slowly flushed, and Wei Wuxian fought not to focus on them. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind. He wondered if Lan Wangji felt hot. If he felt annoyed, angry. If he was getting an allergic reaction to his hair oil. If his ears were bullshit sensors and they were getting a magnificent read on Wei Wuxian's utter bullshit.
He really wanted to know what those red ears meant. But Lan Wangji's face did not change in the least. He merely stared down at Wei Wuxian, tall giant that he was, and remained as impassive as ever.
“Mm, mm?” Wei Wuxian egged on. He could do the whole no-word thing too! Maybe if he threw in a whimper or two, Lan Wangji would fold like his yoga instructor when she did downward dog.
Because Wei Wuxian was a liar. A big fat liar. His pants should, in fact, be on fire. He was not a novice at all. He knew his way around a gym — around Nie Huaisang's older brother's gym, to be exact. He knew precisely how to use the machines around them, how to warm up and cool down, how to keep hydrated, how to pace himself.
Wei Wuxian was a liar and a scoundrel, and he was the best friend anyone could ever ask for.
“I'm here with my brother,” Lan Wangji finally said — ah, more words! — and Wei Wuxian did not let his mouth drop into a Pout. Not just yet. The Pout was the big guns. His sister said so. Never mind what that rude bitch, Jiang Cheng said. He was totally cute! Shut up! So he would pull out The Pout as a last resort only.
“Oh, I'm sure he won't mind letting me borrow you!” Wei Wuxian said, even though he had no idea if Lan Xichen would mind. But Wei Wuxian was a professional liar, as of five minutes ago, and little things like that were small potatoes to say.
“I do not —” Lan Wangji began to say, and Wei Wuxian did the only thing he could. He turned away from Lan Wangji, effectively putting a stop to those — miraculous! Blessed! Unexpected! — words, and called out across the twenty feet separating him from where Lan Xichen stood talking amiably to a determined Nie Huaisang.
“Lan da-ge!” He called, and Lan Xichen pulled his attention away from Nie Huaisang who sent Wei Wuxian an incredulous and betrayed face. “You don't mind if I borrow your brother, do you? I just know you won't mind, you seem so kind! And my dear friend can accompany you today!”
A light of understanding lit behind Nie Huaisang's eyes, and he said something too low to reach Wei Wuxian. But by the movement of his lips, it seemed to be “Your brother is in good hands, don't worry.”
Wei Wuxian was an absolute goblin. He could completely wreck Lan Wangji and make him wish it was his last day on earth just to get away from Wei Wuxian. Just ask his regular victim, Jin Zixuan. But right now Wei Wuxian was not his usual chaotic mess. He was sweet, and good, and utterly hopeless at exercising!
When Lan Xichen began to look torn in indecision, Wei Wuxian tucked his arm into Lan Wangji's, hooking their elbows with a wide, expectant grin. He felt more than saw Lan Wangji stiffen up at his touch, and he hoped he did not just fucking ruin everything by being his usual grabby self.
He could not help that he was a touchy guy. Sue him, he was tactile and starved for affection!
His sister would disagree, on account that she gave him much affection and would feel slighted if he said as much. Jiang Cheng would call him a needy brat. But no one was asking Jiang Cheng, that rude bitch.
But somehow, whatever Lan Xichen saw made the tension in his shoulders fade away, and he smiled, nodding.
“Of course,” he said, prim and proper, and Wei Wuxian did not understand what Nie Huaisang saw in Lan Xichen, but he would cheer him on regardless. Personally, Wei Wuxian thought he seemed kind of boring, like Lan Wangji. In the brief few seconds after Nie Huaisang had pointed the pair out, Wei Wuxian thought they had looked like the blandest loaves of white bread available at the market, vapid and barely nutritious. But the plus side of that would be that Lan Wangji would be easy to entertain. Boring people were easy like that. Very low maintenance.
Lan Xichen turned to Nie Huaisang, his mouth moving, though the angle was too difficult to make out his words. But Nie Huaisang practically beamed while he nodded. The elder brother then glanced back at Lan Wangji and raised a hand in a wave.
“Have fun, Wangji,” he called, and Wei Wuxian felt Lan Wangji stiffen up even further.
Wei Wuxian nearly winced. It felt like hooking arms with a marble statue. That arm was so unforgiving! Wei Wuxian wriggled out of the iron hold and whirled into Lan Wangji's view, smiling brightly.
“See!” He cried. “Now you're free to help this poor beginner. Please take care of me, okay?”
Lan Wangji stared down at him, his ears flushed fully red, but face as apathetic as ever.
“Mn,” he said.
And like an utter goblin — because he could only restrain himself so much — Wei Wuxian mimicked him with a “Mn!” of his own. To lessen the blow of the mockery, lest Lan Wangji decide he was too much of an asshole to entertain, he added, “Er-gege, how do you want me, what should we do first?”
Lan Wangji’s ears could double as stop signs. Though they were so small, Wei Wuxian thought that was a bit too ambitious. It was a good thing they were inside, however, because he was not sure he wanted to test that theory. Those ears were exceptionally red.
“What kind of physical activity are you used to?” Lan Wangji asked him, seemingly accepting that this was his lot in life now, entertaining the whims of Wei Wuxian. And hey! More words! An amazing feat, considering Nie Huaisang had not had a single idea as to whether Lan Wangji could even speak.
Wei Wuxian felt blessed.
“Does sex count?” Wei Wuxian asked. Because, hello, utter goblin here. It did not matter that he was a virgin. He was the most shameless motherfucker around and if he was going to be hanging with boring white bread just so his friend could get that 'D', Wei Wuxian was going to milk him for all he had.
A question was a question anyway.
But it got Wei Wuxian the response he so craved.
Lan Wangji's face turned dark with incredulity and his eyebrows spasmed.
“Shameless!” Lan Wangji hissed, taking a step back as if Wei Wuxian were about to tackle him.
Which, rude. Wei Wuxian's job was to keep him occupied while Nie Huaisang worked his magic. He would not just — only, huh, tackling seemed to be a valid way of keeping someone occupied.
But, no! He could not do that. That would scare Lan Wangji off, and Lan Wangji was meant to stay with him.
'Help me, Wei-xiong,' Wei Wuxian mentally mocked Nie Huaisang's voice from the previous evening. 'Come to the gym and distract that brother of his so I can actually get somewhere! You won't regret it! I'll owe you one!'
Wei Wuxian did not care for the favor owed. He would have helped even if he had been promised nothing in recompense. Ah, the things he did for love. Nie Huaisang owed him hugs. Lots of hugs. Wei Wuxian felt deprived.
“It's a valid question,” Wei Wuxian said with a shrug. “Sex is a type of exercise. Otherwise, doctors wouldn't restrict their heart attack patients and tell them to wait until they can ascend two flights of stairs without losing their breath.”
“We are in public,” Lan Wangji said stiffly.
And yeah, duh. Wei Wuxian was very aware of that. He was dressed, after all. He had to be when he went out in public. Sure, he was in a red tank and black shorts he was not entirely sure belonged to him — he suspected they belonged to Wen Qing, and wow was that a horrible realization to have while out in public. That he and Wen Qing were the same size waist. He had wasted so much money on female-oriented clothing when he could have just raided Wen Qing's closet this entire time! Drag queen nights at the Pink Lotus would have been much easier on his wallet if he had had this information beforehand!
But he digressed. He was dressed. Semi-acceptably, even. Even if the shorts were a little, well, short.
But instead of saying this, Wei Wuxian stamped down the petty bitch inside him and smiled.
“Yes, we are, very good!”
Okay, so the petty bitch was impossible to fully contain. One could not blame Wei Wuxian for letting it slip a little. Reeling the petty bitch back in, Wei Wuxian donned his sunniest smile. And the disgruntled expression on Lan Wangji's face slowly faded away.
“How about that one!”
Wei Wuxian pointed to a machine at random. It was a rowing machine. He was an absolute pro at it. Especially considering he grew up in Yunmeng where there were so many lakes. But best of all, he knew exactly how to fuck up using it. Keeping Lan Wangji entertained was going to be easier than walking in six-inch heels!
Lan Wangji looked at the machine, his eyes narrowing, before glancing at Wei Wuxian.
“Start simpler,” he said. He gestured to a treadmill.
Ugh, like Wei Wuxian previously thought, boring! Only just stopping himself from rolling his eyes, he turned to it, but he was halted by a hand on his elbow. Freezing, he glanced back to see Lan Wangji gazing at him closely.
“Have you stretched?” He asked.
Wei Wuxian had, in fact, stretched. He had done so outside his apartment with Nie Huaisang before their jog over to this gym. But Lan Wangji did not know that. And stretching could take up loads of time if he did it right, er, wrong. Which was his job. To waste time.
“Stretched what?” Wei Wuxian asked. He half-wondered if he was pushing the clueless bit a tad far, but when Lan Wangji merely shook his head and tugged him over to a larger space out of the way of other gym-goers, he figured he was safe. He let himself be manhandled, placed to the edge of the space and turned just so to face the center. Then Lan Wangji moved to the center, turning to face him.
“Arms,” Lan Wangji said, and, holy shit, he was actually going for it. He was showing Wei Wuxian how to stretch!
Lan Wangji had some amazing muscle tone. The dude was unfairly ripped. It was a shame his sleeveless white work-out shirt was too long to see if he had some kind of beverage pack underneath. But Wei Wuxian settled for watching the gorgeous sinew of his arms and neck smooth and flex, bunch and tense. And, wow, people should pay to see this. Lan Wangji should charge for a show. He should not just be giving this away for free. The guy would make some serious bank. Wei Wuxian could totally recognize. From an aesthetically pleasing point of view, of course.
He watched as Lan Wangji went through a series of different, captivating arm stretches and wondered if he could charge a cover in Lan Wangji's place. Maybe he should give Lan Wangji money for being allowed to watch. It was only polite to compensate him for his service. The Jiangs did not raise a rude bitch — well, no, they totally did. It was Jiang Cheng. Wei Wuxian amended his thought. The Jiangs only raised one rude bitch and it was not him. Due to his poor impulse control, he was already reaching for the cash stuffed into one of the tiny pockets — yeah, these shorts were definitely Wen Qing's. She always complained about small pockets on her clothing — totally planning on making it rain over Lan Wangji, when the man stopped moving.
The show was over — rude! — and Wei Wuxian felt bereft.
He wondered if he could still make it rain when Lan Wangji was only standing there, staring at him. Maybe Lan Wangji had to be in motion for Wei Wuxian to properly compensate him. Otherwise, he would be giving the man money for nothing. Well, not nothing, Lan Wangji looked like a goddamn model, after all. He could totally get paid to just stand there. Though it was likely not the best idea to reward a man for doing the bare minimum. Wei Wuxian was not an enabler.
Or, he totally was, but he was not Lan Wangji's enabler. He would stand firm on that.
Wei Wuxian jolted back into the present when Lan Wangji tugged him over and stepped back, gesturing at him.
The fuck. This guy was so fucking handsy. It was a dichotomous experience. Coming off so cold and then putting his hands all over Wei Wuxian —
Oh, wait, it was his turn now.
Wei Wuxian managed a flail of a stretch and took sincere pleasure in the horrified widening of Lan Wangji's eyes. He would have kept going, but Lan Wangji was suddenly on him again, grabbing his arms and steadying them. Wei Wuxian tried to tug out of his hold anyway, but he froze when he realized — holy fuck. Lan Wangji was strong. Those muscles were definitely not just for show! He jerked in surprise, silver eyes going wide when his arms did not so much as budge.
A strange thrill went down his spine.
“Wow, you're really strong,” Wei Wuxian blurted. “Do you think you could lift me? Like benchpress me? Can you benchpress me?”
Uh … that was not what he meant to say.
Ah, there were those fire-hydrant-ears again.
“Not in a weird way,” Wei Wuxian said because no one could stop a runaway train. Certainly not Wei Wuxian. He was just a man. A very weak, delicate man. A wilting flower. One could not expect him to take such responsibility. Especially when that runaway train was his mouth. “But like, I'm very interested in knowing if you're capable of just deadlifting someone — wow, the girls must be very pleased with you.” He only managed to stop talking because Lan Wangji stepped away at that, a slight crease in the space between his eyebrows, though his face remained otherwise unchanged. He moved to Wei Wuxian's side, taking his arm and maneuvering it into the correct positioning.
“Like this,” Lan Wangji said, directing his stretch with careful, warm hands.
And, fine. If Lan Wangji was not going to chat, that was totally fine. The gods did not bless Wei Wuxian with words for nothing.
“You should be an instructor — a personal trainer — I'm sure there's people who would give their right arms to have an opportunity with you,” Wei Wuxian said. He followed the way Lan Wangji moved him, purposely hesitating and jerking in the wrong direction just enough to keep up his charade. He half expected for Lan Wangji to get fed up and just show him again rather than try to maneuver him. But Lan Wangji preserved, keeping his hold firm and his face safe from being smacked by Wei Wuxian's wayward limbs.
“Ridiculous,” Lan Wangji muttered, pushing Wei Wuxian's arm to bend over his head.
“Oh, I am,” Wei Wuxian agreed, allowing the movement. “The most. But seriously. What is even your job? You should quit and become a certified trainer. You'd be rich in no time! There's plenty of middle-aged people who would want such a virile man to manhandle them like this.”
Lan Wangji huffed, yet his face remained as focused as ever. His palms were so warm, almost hot against Wei Wuxian's skin.
“It's a very pleasant experience — I'd totally recommend you, too — HA! Hey, careful, I'm ticklish there.”
Lan Wangji suddenly shifted. He was close, the line of him emanating heat along Wei Wuxian's side.
“Do you ever stop talking?” Lan Wangji said.
Shockingly, a hot flush spread through Wei Wuxian's body at the words brushed against the shell of his ear. He could not help but jump, feeling his skin prickle into goosebumps from his ear down to his neck. His stomach flipped and his knees trembled. For three whole seconds, Wei Wuxian was utterly confused about his body's strange reaction to words whispered into his ear.
“Uh, no,” Wei Wuxian managed, baffled at how breathy his answer sounded.
Lan Wangji shifted to his other side, going through the same motions, fingers pressing a little harder into him, lingering, leaving Wei Wuxian's skin buzzing where he touched. Wei Wuxian felt like a livewire, certain he would shock Lan Wangji any second now.
“Good,” Lan Wangji said into his other ear, and Wei Wuxian bit down on his tongue to stifle the involuntary noise that hopped up into his throat. He blinked, a little dazed by the sensations of his body loosening, pressing into Lan Wangji's hands.
“You're the first to ever say that to me,” Wei Wuxian said, startled enough by the realization that he seemingly returned to himself. His knees still felt a little wobbly, but he could deal with that. Probably.
“Plant your feet,” Lan Wangji said, and Wei Wuxian stumbled as he was taken by his shoulders and twisted. Fortunately, Lan Wangji caught him, yanking him back. Their fronts pressed together, Lan Wangji's arms wrapped around Wei Wuxian's waist, steel bars against his spine. Also fortunately, Wei Wuxian managed to confirm the beverage pack beneath that white shirt as his palms flattened over that abdomen in an effort to steady himself.
Definitely more than a four-pack. Possibly a whole case. A whole firm case. Wow, Lan Wangji was firmer than any mattress Wei Wuxian had ever lain on in his life.
He should probably stop feeling up Lan Wangji. The first couple of seconds could have been passed off as him bracing himself. Second five and six were edging into fondling territory.
“Oh, wow,” Wei Wuxian said. “Your abdominals feel awesome. How much do you work out anyway?”
Because he might as well go for broke. It was not like he was hitting on Lan Wangji anyway. Acquainted men could admire each other's bodies, he was sure. Nie Huaisang was always asking him to check his ass in every pair of jeans he tried on. This was totally normal.
Sure, he did not grope Nie Huaisang's ass to do that, but that was semantics, really.
He really should stop groping Lan Wangji, though. He should. He would. In a minute. He needed a minute. Just one minute.
“I think you can totally deadlift me,” Wei Wuxian said. Because his brain was still caught on that line of thought like a skipping record. Had been for the past forever. It lingered in the back of his head since Lan Wangji had stilled him without effort, occasionally coming to the forefront as a reminder. “I don't even weigh that much. I'm like less than seventy kilos. Can you lift that much? You never answered when I asked.”
And, still without answer, Lan Wangji loosened his hold, his hands sliding over Wei Wuxian's hips, wrapping about them like he had a right to. Wei Wuxian was not entirely sure he did not.
“How much longer?” Lan Wangji asked him. Like he was another Jiang Cheng and refusing to go along with him.
Rude, honestly. The lot of them. Everyone. They should all just humor him without question, really.
Affronted, Wei Wuxian Pouted. He gave Lan Wangji The Pout. Because, seriously, he would have been satisfied with even one of his questions being answered. But, much to Wei Wuxian's consternation, Lan Wangji did not even twitch at his Finishing Move. He was impervious to The Pout! The only thing that changed was that Lan Wangji's ears, which having returned to a safer pinkish hue, were suddenly red again.
Maybe they were a meter for how close Lan Wangji was to losing his shit. And if that was the case, Wei Wuxian should definitely stop fondling his abs.
“How much longer what?” Wei Wuxian demanded, fingers running over the bumps of those amazing abs like a compulsion. “That's not fair, you know. You don't answer any of my questions, but you dare to ask your own!”
And like a Jiang Cheng, Lan Wangji said, “How much longer will you pretend to be clueless?”
Blinking, Wei Wuxian felt his mouth fall open.
“Clueless?” He scoffed. “Pretending? Me? What do you mean? What are you talking about? I've never pretended anything in my entire life. I'm au naturel all the time!”
“You jogged here,” Lan Wangji said. “You were not out of breath. You know the difference between benchpressing and deadlifting. You are not interested at all in stretching or actually getting to know me. You only talk and talk to distract me from my brother and your friend.”
Wei Wuxian gaped.
“Lies and slander,” he said, but he could not hide his surprise.
He saw me jogging? Wei Wuxian thought, thrown. How! When! From where!
But more alarmingly, Lan Wangji had figured him out completely!
“How much longer?” Lan Wangji asked again.
“And what if I say you're right?” Wei Wuxian challenged with narrowed eyes. “Are you going to go separate them?”
“My brother seemed okay with this arrangement,” Lan wangji said. “I will not interfere.”
“Then why didn't you just go along with it from the start!” Wei Wuxian protested. “You made me beg!”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji hummed.
And … wait a second.
“Wait a second,” Wei Wuxian said, frowning in thought. “Wait — what? Were you just making me work for it?”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji hummed again. And despite it not being words, it was as good as confirmation.
Gasping, Wei Wuxian stared at him, incredulous. So maybe he was wrong. So maybe Lan Wangji was not as boring as he seemed. Maybe he was not white bread. Maybe he was cinnamon raisin bread. Maybe he was just as much of a petty bitch as Wei Wuxian.
“Huh,” Wei Wuxian said.
“I can,” Lan Wangji said then. Actual words! Wow!
“You can what?” Wei Wuxian said, half distracted by the way Lan Wangji's hands gripped his hips, all strong and attention-getting. His hands were very warm. Wei Wuxian could feel the heat of them burning into his skin, so starkly different from the coldness of his eyes. He had never before been so aware of a pair of hands. Big hands. Thick fingers. They nearly encased his waist.
Wei Wuxian's breath shuddered out of him.
Instead of answering, Lan Wangji shifted his arms up, but his hands remained glued to Wei Wuxian's hips. The result of which had Wei Wuxian gasping as his feet abruptly left the ground. He scrambled for the floor with his toes, his hands snapping to Lan Wangji's steel-like biceps to brace himself.
Wei Wuxian's brain immediately went offline.
Lan Wangji could totally deadlift him.
“Oh my god,” Wei Wuxian breathed, eyes wide, his insides fluttering, his blood thrumming. “Oh. My. God.”
“Don't need a wall to brace you either,” Lan Wangji said.
It took a second to parse through that. And once he did, Wei Wuxian's heart shot up into his throat.
That was — Lan Wangji just propositioned him. That was what he did. Wildly, Wei Wuxian wondered if he had hallucinated the words. Because no fucking way was this an actual thing that was happening to him. There was no way Lan Wangji just implied that he did not need a wall to fuck Wei Wuxian up against. That he had the ability to hold up Wei Wuxian and have his way no problem.
“Well, fuck,” Wei Wuxian said, for the lack of any actual thought in his head that was not chaotic screaming and everything burning. It felt like everything in his brain had gone to the dogs. Like a riot had been staged and every sensible thought had been forced to flee his mind for safety.
“If you want,” Lan Wangji said.
And, well, okay then.
This was the result:
“Oh, m'god — no more,” Wei Wuxian mumbled into his pillow. Damp against his cheek where he had bitten into it to keep from waking Wen Qing in the next room who was sleeping off her long hospital shift. He felt stupid, perhaps for the first time in his life, and he wondered if he had been fucked brainless. If that was even possible. It sure felt like it. Or perhaps Lan Wangji was just that talented. “Can't believe I thought you were boring.” He moaned, pained, yet somehow pleased. This was all new to him, but he thought he understood it now.
He totally understood why people were so eager to fuck all the time. Years spent ignorant, but he could see clearly now. Or, well, figuratively at least, because the tears in his eyes had made his sight too blurry to focus on anything. Strong hands drifted up from where they had been teasing towards his ass.
“I can't take it,” he forced out, voice hoarse and weak. He was exhausted. His body felt wrung out and left to dry. “You're too insatiable for this virgin.”
“Not a virgin,” Lan Wangji mumbled into his ear before taking his earlobe into his mouth and biting down. “Not anymore,” he husked out through his clamped teeth.
Wei Wuxian whimpered. He debated moving his head away, but dubbed the act too strenuous to bother with.
Also it felt really fucking good.
“So cruel,” he complained, a delighted hum leaving him as Lan Wangji abandoned his ear to kiss his way down to the nape of his neck. “Lan Zhan, you should be nicer to me. I was so good to you.”
“Very good,” Lan Wangji said against his skin. His naked hips pressed up against Wei Wuxian's. And despite the bone-deep weariness clinging to him like a second skin, Wei Wuxian pressed back, whimpering, unsure if it was a complaint or a plea.
Maybe both. Lan Wangji seemed to understand anyway. Just like he seemed to understand after their second round how Wei Wuxian's pleas for mercy were in fact a cry for more.
“Be good again.”
Wei Wuxian shivered in pleasure, skin erupting in goosebumps across his body. He was going to bottle that velvet voice and make millions. He would buy a Build-A-Bear workshop, market it to adults, and put Lan Wangji's voice into every little voice box. He would record Lan Wangji's greatest hits, like 'Shameless', and 'Ridiculous', and 'Be good'.
Wei Wuxian was going to be filthy stinking rich. Holy fuck.
“Nie-xiong is the bestest friend,” he determined fervently as Lan Wangji gripped his hips, hands having wandered back down, again. Ecstatic butterflies whirled in his belly as those hands shifted him like he weighed nothing at all, pulling him flush. “I'm so glad I helped him. Holy shit.”
“Me too,” Lan Wangji said before abruptly biting down on a spot above Wei Wuxian's spine, earning a small yelp, the noise dampened by the pillow.
“Lan Zhan, you should take me out on a date,” Wei Wuxian said. “I know I already put out, but date me — oh, my god, date me. I'll put out every day, I swear.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji said. “Whatever Wei Ying wants.”
“Wei Ying wants dates,” Wei Wuxian demanded as his mind spun. Or perhaps it was his body. He seemed to be lying over Lan Wangji. He was not sure when that happened. He wriggled against him, soaking in the feel of those glorious abdominals along his back. “So many. All of them. Also your dick. Holy fuck.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji agreed. Or not. Again with the non-words! Ugh. It did not matter. Wei Wuxian would convince him if he needed to. It would be no problem at all since Lan Wangji seemed very open to what he wanted.
“We should double-date with your brother and Nie-xiong,” Wei Wuxian continued nonsensically, humming as Lan Wangji propped him up with a single hand and put his mouth to his back, teeth clipping at his skin in delicious pinches. “Hey, do you think they hit it off?” He asked through the delirious feeling coursing through his body as Lan Wangji nudged his legs apart with an eager knee and pressed into him once more. Wei Wuxian sucked in a harsh breath. “I mean, that was the whole — ah, be nicer, Lan Zhan! I'm delicate and tender like chicken strip — that was the whole point in distracting you. He was the one who was supposed to get the 'D', not me. Not that I'm complaining! You're very good at giving the 'D', Lan Zhan, very good! One-hundred-thousand over ten, will come again!”
“Don't know,” Lan Wangji grunted, teeth striking against his shoulder in a mean bite. Wei Wuxian cried out. “Don't care. Now stop talking about them and I'll make you come again.”
“Okay, yes, whatever you say, Lan Zh — AH-n! Mercy! Be nicer!”