Wei Wuxian tried to contain the flutter in his heart and also the need to jump back as the ceiling came down before him. Wen Zhuliu had flown towards him, he had been ready to end the bastard's life then and there, but now, he was strung up by Zidian itself instead, with Jiang Cheng behind him.
In front of Wuxian however, stood none other than Lan Zhan himself, back straight, posture perfect as ever, Bichen unsheathed and stretched out in a threat as if to protect him. His heart gave a twinge he didn't want it to give, and he suppressed a bitter snort coming up his throat. All those times in the burial mounts where he had thought his protector in mourning white had come to get him out, or was just there. In the feverish moments of his deepest nightmares where he heard Lan Zhan's voice singing to him...
But no. No he had not come or been there. It had been three months and here he was. Here Wuxian had been, breaking himself out. Clawing to his goal with broken bones and bruises and splintered fingernails.
His fist clenched around his new flute, and he pursed his lips, trying not to say anything. Bitterness and resentment still swirled in his mind and he pressed it all down. No. Feelings wouldn't help right now. He still had things to take care off.
Wen Zhuliu was struggling, but certainly not getting out of that grip and Wuxian had to admit to himself that he admired how vicious and vengeful Jiang Cheng looked, brandishing Zidian like it was second nature. At least his little brother had had time to practice, he supposed, fighting in this war.
Next thing he knew, Wen Zhuliu was dead, crumbled to the ground like he was an unimportant paperweight and Jiang Cheng was coming over, tossing something to him that he only caught out of pure instinct.
"Your sword", were Jiang Cheng's first words to him. Wuxian couldn't help but smile at Suíbiàn, weighting it in his hands.
It was so damn heavy that he wanted to cry.
"Thanks", he said, carefully not really putting any tone into his voice. It was useless now, anyway. No sword would accept him as its master anymore. All he now had was his flute.
"You prick", his brother said with a sneer that didn't quite reach his eyes, which rather almost seemed teary. "Where have you been for the last three months?" he bumped Wuxian's shoulder like he had so many times before and Wuxian flinched, luckily able to disguise it with a nervous laugh. Not that he wasn't nervous about discussing this particular topic, so it was only a half-lie, really.
"It's a long story" is all he said, smiling but knowing it also didn't reach his eyes. "It's a long story..." he repeated, and felt himself drifting off in his thoughts to those deep dark places that have been filling his mind and very soul. He knew his gaze was dark and his eyes probably red rimmed, and he knows he was swallowing probably, trying to get rid of the dark thought spiral.
He didn't see Jiang Cheng's worried gaze, not really, but he felt the hug, tight and brotherly and so warm.
It overwhelms him so much that he couldn't respond immediately, instead swallowing again and looking anywhere but to his little brother, who was hugging him like he actually did miss him or something. If he was honest, he probably hadn't felt this warm in months now, and maybe this was the first time since that...fall, that anyone living actually touched him. But he tried not to let his thoughts dwell on this, didn't know what to do, really, because dealing with the fact hat Jiang Cheng clung to him like this was something he hadn't been prepared to deal with when he stepped into this room, hadn't been prepared to deal with period.
Again, a shallow laugh was repressed in his throat. Nonsense. The way Lan Zhan was staring at him, he was probably severely pissed because he knew what Wei Wuxian was doing with his flute and Jiang Cheng probably only acted on old memories alone, not being able to help it.
But the way he suddenly felt his brother's breath on his neck and felt him clench the fabric on his back made it feel more like Jiang Cheng was honestly clinging to him and maybe, just maybe, he lifted his own hand to return the hug.
It was instinct, surely, not his fault, he didn't actually give himself the illusion that this meant anything, right?
Surely you know he doesn't actually care. It's not like they looked for you all these months.
He felt his hand touch his brother's lower back, his sword still in his hand.
A sudden ripple of energy made him gasp.
Gold and warm, his own golden core answered to the energy of his sword in his hand. It flared, probably not even noticed by Jiang Cheng himself, but it was such a sudden burst of pure, golden energy that Wuxian felt himself spasm from it. He hadn't touched or felt his (or any other) golden core in over three months now and the unexpected familiarity was overwhelming him.
Suddenly, he felt everything, every tiny bit of hurt he had suppressed inside, so he could even stand upright and walk and talk and do anything, really, especially this fight. He had been careful about not moving too much in too exaggerated ways, held himself expertly upright with his hands behind his back or on the flute.
Now he felt his knees crumble and the ground coming closer. He heard his flute and Suíbiàn touch the ground with an awful clatter when his grip slipped.
And then everything was darkness once again.