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Sugar Cookies are just sweetened dough

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— 3 / 4 —

The sound of dance music is loud in his ears. A steady rhythm that threatens to provide a headache if listened to for too long, but since when is Jiang Cheng one to worry about that?

It’s impossible to be unaware of the dance floor that’s packed with people, some he recognized, and many he different. It’d be a lie if Jiang Cheng said he wasn’t questioning Nie Huaisang concerning his choice of party venue, but he isn’t one to complain about free drinks; it is rather questionable that some of these people even know him, but who is Jiang Cheng to judge his roommate and his choice of company?

With a short, thick glass of some Gin and Tonic, Jiang Cheng finds himself checking his phone often, but no matter how often, time doesn't seem to get any faster. The bold type-face “21:03” stared back at him, daring him to read it differently, but he knows better. How soon after arriving at someone's party is it not rude to leave?

When did Jiang Cheng begin caring what Nie Huaisang thinks?

He could just leave right now.

He doesn’t. Briefly, he takes a sip of his drinking, knowing better than to take more than that at once.

A huff of slight irritation, and another brief glance at his phone confirms it didn’t change since he last looked. He slides to unlock it, the soft pastel tones of a sunset Wei Wuxian captured while on a tour through America with his fiancée. It isn’t normally his background of choice, but with him just having gotten a new phone recently, and having no other images to choose from, he grabbed the easiest to get. It didn’t look bad— Wei Wuxian was smiling alongside his stoic other half, almost cheekily, and Jiang Cheng swears he is seconds from mischief— growing up with the man tells him that much and the signs are too recognizable.

Indecisiveness washes over him, and for a few seconds, his finger hovers over the touchpad before thoughtlessly pulling up twitter. With much disinterest, his scrolls through his feed, seeing post after post but not really registering what he sees.

A minute passes, and then two— he knows how long it is, considering he’s watching the clock more than the content on his twitter feed.

“Not much of a party animal, I see?”

At first, Jiang Cheng doesn’t really register the words, and it takes longer than it should to realize they were directed at him. Turning in his bar stool to face the male voice, Jiang Cheng swallows.

The first thing he sees is his eyes, almost a cold, chilled gold, but for some reason they feel anything but cold. Maybe it’s the warm smile on his face, or the soft, but mature features of his face. Jiang Cheng feels strangely relaxed and nervously tense at once.

Feeling entirely too sober for this conversation, he takes another quick swig of his drink, some comfort coming from the burn of the alcohol as it goes down. He clears his throat as quietly as he can before stating, “Not exactly.”

Jiang Cheng knows that he’s seen the man before.

The long black hair and golden eyes are unmistakable, and it doesn’t take long for his name to come back to him, “Lan Xichen— it’s been awhile.” And certainly it has— perhaps since Wei Wuxian’s graduation party last year; he’d chosen for having completed his bachelor’s early rather than push for a doctorate like Jiang Cheng is, but a part of Jiang Cheng has a feeling he may return for the doctorate at some point anyway.

“That, it certainly has,” Lan Xichen replies, a gentle, but certain, steady smile across his immaculate lips— don’t ask Jiang Cheng about just how perfect they look— if Jiang Cheng was a more artistic man, he could wax poetry about them.

Instead, he just makes a fool of himself by staring. Feeling suddenly self-conscious of himself, Jiang Cheng squirms in place, abnormal nerves taking hold, and anxiety hits him in ways it usually can’t. His palms feel sweaty and it takes everything in him not to wipe his damp palms on his nice dress pants. He looks away, although not quite sure where, as he doesn’t find any one place in particular to look. Inevitably, he turns back to face the first Lan again, hoping that his current emotional state isn’t written all over his face like it feels like it is.

Lan Xichen is the one to break the silence between them— although ironically ‘silence’ isn’t the proper term for it with the loud music very prominent around them—, “How’s your classes?”

Jiang Cheng’s brain short circuits for a moment as he tries to comprehend the words being said to him rather than the man’s distractingly beautiful eyes. He holds back a sound of confusion as he reels at the fact that he knows he’s going to college.

Oh wait, he probably knows through Nie Huaisang. Blinking, he recovers a bit from his momentary panic, “Oh well, I mean they’re fine.” He mentally kicks himself for giving such a painfully generic answer. It takes everything in him to not outwardly cringe at his own awkwardness, “Ya’ know, a lot of coursework, but important work…?”

It’s awkward to speak of large work loads, the fear of being perceived as lazy or unmotivated enough to often steer clear of the topic. The fact that Jiang Cheng brought it up at all is strange in the first place, but perhaps it’s just because he’d been panicking.

What exactly he said is now sinking in, and suddenly he feels even more out of place. Lan Xichen graduated a couple of years ago from a prestigious law school and has already begun to make a name for himself. He’s already making very decent money and quite a popular option as a lawyer, whereas Jiang Cheng is still in school and living off of a grocery store wage and some payments from his parents. If anyone should know what a proper college workload is, it should be him. What if he’s judging Jiang Cheng for thinking what he has a lot, but in reality, it’s nothing compared to what he went through?

Feeling small compared to Lan Xichen’s prestigious accomplishments, Jiang Cheng hates his previous choice of words, and begins to feel the start of the self-hate train, but he tries to derail it before it leaves the station. The beginnings of an ugly echo chamber, one he tries to remind himself is just echoes and nothing more.

Lan Xichen’s reply forces him back to the present, a sobering splash of reality when he found himself sinking, “Ah yes, those were fun times. Quite tedious, but necessary all the same.”

Jiang Cheng colors a little in the cheeks, but he tries to brush it off, asking the first thing that comes to mind, “And how’s the lawyer work?”

Lan Xichen looks a little surprised at the question, if Jiang Cheng is honest— something that offends him a bit; how could he not know of Lan Xichen’s profession of choice with how much Wei Wuxian talks in general?—, “Ah well, it’s fine, I suppose,” he pauses for a moment, perhaps thinking about his next words more carefully, “It’s certainly rewarding in many ways.”

Jiang Cheng can sense a deeper meaning to those words, but he doesn’t press it— it’s definitely not any of his business, even if he’s a tad curious. The somewhat tense moment stretches into a silence. Swallowing his rising nerves, Jiang Cheng takes another swig of his drink, trying to wash them away, but ultimately, unsuccessfully. In that opportunity, Jiang Cheng excuses himself, unsure of what else to say.

He doesn’t look into the strangely somber smile Lan Xichen gives him as he makes towards the door, and outright refuses to awkward the pounding of his heart in his chest.

— 3 / 08 —

Jiang Cheng awakens to the annoying sound of his alarm clock. With the brief crack of an eye, he confirms its existence— something he must do now (once upon a time he actually had a dream about his alarm clock going off, only to wake and find it untrue and much earlier in the morning), for fear of it being just a dream, or perhaps some small part of him wishing it was. As much as he wishes it not to be true, it is indeed nine o’clock in the morning.

With a groan and a shift in his position, he sighs, before throwing the covers away and launching himself from the bed in an irritated huff. There’s undue anger in his steps as he moves over towards the door, and then the bathroom in the hallway, flicks the light on with a grumble, and turns on the sink.

For a moment, he looks up at himself in the mirror. His hair is tousled like he was in a fighting match with a boar the night prior, and there’s a slight crease in his face with an imprint that looked an awful lot like his pillow case. The cold bathroom tile chills his bare feet, and it's not till Nie Huaisang steps into the room that Jiang Cheng turns back to the sink to brush his teeth.

Toothpaste on, and then toothbrush in mouth, he gives the passing time little thought as the edges of sleep still linger.

Nie Huaisang gives a way-too-cheerful— or is it cheeky?—, “Good Morning.” Or maybe Jiang Cheng is just a little biased. Holding back a tired groan, he brushes his teeth somewhat lazily, before taking a swig of water and then spitting it back out.

Groggily, Jiang Cheng grumbles a tired “Morning,” not able to muster much more from his sleep-addled brain. Nie Huaisang waited patiently in the hallway, bathroom too small for both of them to stand at the sink at once. Jiang Cheng wipes his mouth dry with the back of his hand, before replacing his toothbrush; he makes sure to grab a hair brush on the way out, making way for Nie Huaisang to take his place.

The rest of the morning is a blur— Sliced bread in the toaster, college books shoved back into his backpack, and a change of clothes. He’s out the door, ready to start the day, even if a part of him would much rather go back and sleep a little longer.

The bright sun-shiny morning glow hurts his eyes to start with, but eventually he adjusts. Settling into a steady jog, Jiang Cheng makes his way across the street and down the road towards the campus. Dorm rooms had been way too expensive to even consider, and to be frank, he’s lucky that Nie Huaisang is even willing to room with him in the first place— if not for it, he probably couldn’t attend in the first place or have to find some other way of getting to his classes.

Besides, he’s not that far off from the main campus. Finding a place only a couple of minutes down the road was more than a steal, and it is one of the few times Jiang Cheng is glad that Nie Huaisang knows many people. The landlord of the place is a sweet older lady, generous enough to give them the house for a very good rate considering what she could be getting for it.

Just then the school comes into view. It’s not a super large college, but it’s large enough. Having run the numbers, it came out to be much cheaper to attend a community college prior to going to one that’s much more prestigious to complete his doctorate. The credits will transfer over all the same, and at least this way, he’ll get the benefit of the cheaper price.

Prestigious schools are quite pricey, after all.

Most of the buildings are made from tan stucco material, some resembling more of an office building than one of continuing education, but in other ways, much more like a college than that. There are trees and shrugs much more liberally planted than most office building lots, outdoor seating for studying, and a couple of nice relaxation locations like a medium sized pond and tree grove.

Approaching the front door of the main building, Jiang Cheng pulls it open, finally seeing a number of students inside the building. It’s early in the morning, and still quite chilly outside, so it’s not exactly strange to not see many people outside yet, he reasons. Trying his best to look as awake as possible, he navigates his way to his seven o'clock class.

Once to his classroom, he sits down in his usual seat and pulls out his phone, realizing that he still has a few minutes before it begins, and he hasn’t checked it since last night. Internally, he groans at seeing that the battery is quite low— only thirty-four percent left— and kicks himself for forgetting to set it on the charger before kicking the bucket for the night.

Briefly, he scrolls through his timeline on twitter, swiping up a few times before quickly growing bored. Exiting the app, he notes seven unread messages. Interest peaked, he opens the app to be greeted with texts from his adoptive brother, Wei Wuxian.

Wwx: Jiang chenggggg
Wwx: yooo, you there?
Wwx: can u calll me
Wwx: welp i gues i’ll just type it here then
Wwx: i hate to ask but can you like, help me out with baking smthg? its for lwj and you know, i can’t
Wwx: ya know… bake
Wwx: text me when u read this

Groaning, Jiang Cheng pinches the bridge of his nose before replying, knowing that saying ‘no’ wouldn’t be acceptable, and Wei Wuxian will just bug him until he changes his mind.

— 3 / 13 —

It’s a couple of days later before they meet up to actually attempt baking— ‘attempt’ being the key word here.

Jiang Cheng’s sure he has flour in his hair, although he has no idea how. He never touched it with his hands, and yet, every surface seems to be covered in it by now, and one would be delusional to think it hadn’t reached there yet. Not even the overhead microwave seems to have escaped it.

Perhaps agreeing to help Wei Wuxian had been a bad idea after all— as if he had a choice in the moment, he tries not to forget.

It’d been easy to underestimate the damage this gremlin could cause, and if not for growing up alongside him, Jiang Cheng would think he was doing it on purpose. He knows better though. Years of watching Wei Wuxian cook was like attempting the impossible. Nothing survived once it touched his hands, and he can see that hasn’t changed.

Every time Jiang Cheng turns his back, Wei Wuxian would find a way to self-sabotage, and if were not for the pained, nervous expression on his adoptive brother’s face, he’d pack up and leave right now.

Pulling yet another blackened cookie tray from the oven, Jiang Cheng skipped right to the trash with these ones. He’d stepped away to use the restroom for a few minutes, and Wei Wuxian messed up pulling the trays out. With a heavy sigh, he turns to Wei Wuxian, who is mixing another bowl of dough and watching carefully as Wei Wuxian cracks the eggs, checking for lost eggshells. At this point, he’s learned to expect anything when it comes to his brother’s cooking skills.

Briefly looking away, Jiang Cheng turns the page of the recipe book to check the amount of vanilla that goes in, when the front door to his dormitory’s living area opens. Surprise hits him first as he certainly wasn’t expecting visitors, but it made at least some semblance of sense a moment later— they must be here for Nie Huaisang.

In walks two familiar faces— Nie Mingjue, Nie Huaisang’s older brother, and Lan Xichen, the elder of the lan brothers. Jiang Cheng feels his heart skip a beat, but it’s gone so quick he may well have imagined it, the shock probably visible in his expression, as he frets a little about flour he knows is on his face. The sudden distraction is enough for Wei Wuxian to notice, him looking up from his mixture of dough— that has somehow turned a darker brown since Jiang Cheng last saw it—him looking from Jiang Cheng to the sudden visitors.

Nie Mingjue doesn’t say a word, and just has a slightly impatient but calm expression, whereas Lan Xichen seems to take the hint and briefly explains, “We’re here to take Nie Huaisang out for a bit of shopping,” as if that makes everything clear. It doesn’t exactly, but Jiang Cheng doesn’t press.

Still a bit skeptic, Jiang Cheng nods his head once before turning back to his brother’s disaster. Somewhat quieter than before, “What did you put in this?” He reaches over to take the bowl from his brother’s hands.

“It wasn’t thick enough so I added some extra flour. Isn’t that a common ingredient in cookies?” The conviction in which Wei Wuxian says those words is simultaneously exhausting and anxiety inducing. With an irritated huff, Jiang Cheng reaches for the eggs and sugar, already resigned to having to try and salvage this batch for fear of having to start once again from scratch, the three previous ones haunting him from the trash can.

Subconsciously, he finds himself looking up at the men standing in his living room, unable to decipher the emotions he’s feeling. The Lan’s long black hair is a distracting image, and Jiang Cheng can’t fathom how he keeps it so straight while being so long— Jiang Cheng’s hair seems to knot itself in seconds, and it’s not nearly as long, hence the traditional bun-style he commonly wears it in. The fresh pressed suit the Lan wears makes him feel things he’d rather not admit— did he just come from a court case prior to making a surprise entrance into Jiang Cheng’s living room? The look should be illegal.

Just as Jiang Cheng is cracking a new egg into a bowl, Nie Huaisang enters the living area, saving him from the awkwardness of two nice looking guys just standing around in his living room. He doesn’t look up from his work but he listens regardless. “Hello, Gege,” he greets his brother in a warm, welcoming tone.

“Huaisang,”— Nie Mingjue’s voice is steady and calm, but Jiang Cheng senses a note of chilled emotion to it as well.

Judging by Nie Huaisang’s reaction, perhaps, he isn’t far off though. Taking a note of interest, he looks up at the three, ignoring his gremlin of a brother who’s looking in the fridge for god knows what.

Nie Huaisang recoils slightly, a strained smile taking hold. A tense moment passes before he resigns to his fate, it seems, “Let us have this conversation elsewhere, before showing Nie Mingjue to his bedroom. The door closes behind them, and Jiang Cheng’s gaze falls back to the only other man left in his living room. He’s standing near the door, glancing around the room briefly, and in that moment, Jiang Cheng feels somewhat self-conscious of the clearly visible on dust of the shelving of the TV entertainment center— he’d been meaning to clean it before, but never got around to it; now he certainly wish he did. He even left the blue-and-white wrapping paper for Wei Wuxian’s gift on the living room table top, along with the tape and scissors he’d sourced earlier in the evening.

Lan Xichen takes notice of his gaze, returning a criminally handsome smile that makes Jiang Cheng want to tear his own hair out.

The sound of his brother closing the fridge behind him snaps him out of his stupor. An embarrassed flush leaves Jiang Cheng feeling too hot in the kitchen, despite the fact that he’d been perfectly fine before. He looks back to his bowl of eggs, emptying them into the bowl of sugar cookie dough, before trying not to die from mortification at being caught staring.

There’s a little more anger put into his mixing than normal, but he refuses to acknowledge it. A brief sideways glance at his brother shows that, for once, he isn’t the ignorant human being he normally is, as the giant, shit-eating grin can’t be due to any other reason than that. Jiang Cheng hopes with all his being that Wei Wuxian would keep his big mouth shut. Horror begins to build as he sees his mouth open as if to speak, but just in that moment god sees fit to save him from complete embarrassment as Nie Huaisang and his elder brother exits his roommate’s bedroom. Anyone with any amount of emotional intellect could tell that there is an amount of tension between the two Nie brothers, but no one cares to comment on it, and neither does Jiang Cheng it seems.

Taking the blessing for what it is, he takes the opportunity to distract his brother before something slips that’d make Jiang Cheng keel over on the spot, “Where’d you move the extra sugar? This dough needs a bit more.”

The distraction seems to work, as Wei Wuxian begins to chatter like usual, “Oh well— Uh— where did I put that again?—“ He continues on, proceeding to check each cabinet quickly.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jiang Cheng sees the front door open. He turns his head subconsciously just as Nie Huaisang proceeds to walk outside the house, his brother and Lan Xichen in tow. The older Lan seemed to notice Jiang Cheng’s gaze and gave him another smile before walking out along with the other two.

Jiang Cheng feels his face heating up again, quickly turning back to the kitchen again in an attempt to brush it off. The firm, quick beating of his heart denies his soundless request.

“Ah! I found it,” Wei Wuxian exclaims, and Jiang Cheng cridges as he sees his brother literally pull the paper bag of flour right from the refrigerator, “Ah-hahaha, I forgot I put it in here—“ Wei Wuxian closes the fridge door before moving to set the bag on the countertop closest to Jiang Cheng, “I thought that made making it cold would help the cookies not burn as much.”

Jiang Cheng wants to punch his brother so bad. It’s honestly hard to tell at this point if it was on purpose or if he’s genuinely that clueless.

Feeling flustered and a bit vexed, Jiang Cheng opens the bag of sugar, and takes a scoop out with his measuring cup. He dumps it into the dough bowl before mixing it in. It only takes about a minute before it’s completely combined.

Once again, Jiang Cheng sets about scooping dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Looking over to make sure Wei Wuxian hasn’t somehow messed up with the batch again—although he doesn’t know how he could at this point—he’s relieved to see everything looks normal, although— are those supposed to be rabbits or rats?

He finics with the dough a little bit more, pressing his own into generic circle shapes rather than anything more complicated than than. Honestly, he doesn’t have the patience for it left in him, having failed and gone through the steps of mixing batter so many times before this and just wanting to be done at this point.

“You done?” Jiang Cheng asks somewhat curtly, trying, but failing, to not show his irritation. Scowl on his face he grabs his own tray gently before setting it inside the oven.

“Hmmm, I guess,” Wei Wuxian gives as a non-committal answer. Taking the opportunity for what it is, Jiang Cheng grabs the second tray of dough and sets it along with the first tray, this time on the rack below it. Taking the oven mits off, he sets a timer on his phone to ring in a few minutes, wanting to keep a very close eye on them since sugar cookies burn easily.

He’s granted blessed silence for only a few seconds.

“So…,” Wei Wuxian trails off— he looks up at him with a slow-forming trademark grin that makes Jiang Cheng inwardly groan— “Someone’s very interested in the older lan brother.”

His brother tacks on more as if looking to fluster Jiang Cheng even more, “Are you into the business suit? Or is it the Lan hair?”

Jiang Cheng doesn’t bother to respond, even if his red cheeks give him away. He unlocks his phone to scroll through twitter in an attempt to get his brother to ignore it, but to no avail.

“I’m really into the Lan hair— I have no idea how Lan Wangji manages to keep it so straight and untangled,” Wei Wuxian tugs on his own hair in mock demonstration, “Mine gets so tangled.”

Jiang Cheng clenches his teeth, his finger continuously scrolling through his feed even though he’s not reading any of it. His brother has a point, even if he’d never admit it— What is<\i> their secret to it exactly?

“Still,” Wei Wuxian continues, “I never imagined both of us would fall for a Lan.” He says with a laugh in his voice, and if he were anyone else, he’d think Wei Wuxian is mocking them, but instead, Jiang Cheng knows he’s just finding the humor in the thought.

Too bad he’s dead wrong.

“What— Who’s falling for a Lan?” Jiang Cheng sets about cleaning the leftover dishes, having given up at feigning disinterest in the conversation. He sets the tap to hot, and waits for it to heat up, and then begins washing some of the previous mixing bowls and measuring cups.

“What do you mean!” Wei Wuxian says, pure humorous laughter in his voice and smile on his face as he adds, “You were totally eye-fucking Lan Xichen a few minutes ago— Don’t think I didn’t notice.”

“Was not!” Jiang Cheng denies. He scrubs a dirty plate with a little more force than necessary.

“Was too!” Wei Wuxian counters, unable to contain his enjoyment of the situation, “You totally were.”

Jiang Cheng’s save further embarrassment from the situation by his phone alarm going off. Drying his hands off, he peaks open the door to check the cookies. Seeing they aren’t quite done yet, he quickly shuts the oven door again before too much heat escapes.

“Well, you’re wrong,” Jiang Cheng states, anger seeping into his voice.

Wei Wuxian freezes for a moment, before conceding, “Okay, fineeee. I’ll—“ Wei Wuxian looks away at this, smile mostly gone, perhaps a little embarrassed by his enthusiasm, “Leave it alone— For now, that is.”

Jiang Cheng shudders at the promise of more harassment.

A moment of silence hits them again, and he can hear the cloak ticking on the wall in the living room. After a minute passes, Jiang Cheng opens the door partially again, peeking inside.

Quickly he opens the door all the way, grabs his mittens, before pulling both trays and setting them to cool on the stove top. Jiang Cheng just about cries from joy at not having to cook these again. With a heavy sigh of relief, he reaches up to press the off-button on the oven.

Deciding to let the cookies sit so they can properly set up, Jiang Cheng returns to the dishes. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Wei Wuxian slowly approaching the counter, arms tucked behind his back and walking in a somewhat childish manner; that grin is creeping back onto his face again.

“What?” Jiang Cheng grumbs out, continuing to scrub at a bowl that just won’t come clean of the buttery residue left behind.

Wei Wuxian stops just to his brother’s right, leaning over the counter a little to look at Jiang Cheng’s face move closely.

Jiang Cheng pauses to look in his direction.

“Oh, nothing,” he says, but Jiang Cheng doesn’t believe him for a second.

Feeling a twinge of irritation, Jiang Cheng resumes washing, “Fine, be that way.” He says it gruffly but can’t stop the blush that’s on his cheeks— Wei Wuxian definitely knows.

He glances over at the baking sheets that were left on the stove top, wondering if maybe they are ready yet.

Maybe he just wants a distraction from the current conversation though.

After washing for a few more minutes of uncomfortable silence— Wei Wuxian having gone to check his phone not long after, and based on how long he’s been gone for, probably talking with his boyfriend, Lan Wangji— Jiang Cheng dries his hands off once again, and moves over to the stove top. Gently, his touches over a couple of the cooled cookies to check that they are set.

Seeing that they are, Jiang Cheng grabs a spatula from the drawer. Carefully, he begins removing each cookie from the tray. Just as he’s finishing up, Wei Wuxian comes back into the kitchen.

Jiang Cheng grabs an empty box and fills it up with cookies. Wei Wuxian rushes over, very excitedly, “We finally did it.” His brother leans forward, hands clasped behind his back to stare at the box in uncontained glee.

Once it is full, Jiang Cheng notes that there are more cookies than can fit in the one box. Absentmindedly, he reaches over for another empty box and fills this one too. Carefully, he closes the lips on both of them, and goes to hand one to Wei Wuxian.

“My obligation here is done— Here’s your cookies,” Jiang Cheng states, trying to sound irritated but it sounds unconvincing to his own ears. Wei Wuxian’s eyes widen, and he brings his hands in front of him to grasp hold of the box.

“Thank you, Jiang Cheng. You’re a great brother,” Wei Wuxian says, “Lan Wangji will love these sooo much— He’ll be so surprised.”

Jiang Cheng can see the starstruck look in his brother’s eyes, and he grimaces a little, even if it is a bit comforting to see him so happy. It’s been a long time since Jiang Cheng has seen such an emotion on Wei Wuxian’s face. Wei Wuxian sets the box on the countertop next to himself.

“Well—,” Wei Wuxian claps his hands in front of himself, “Let’s wrap these boxes up. You should wrap yours too. Maybe you can give it to your<\i> special person. Of course, I won’t name names here.” His brother has a mischievous grin on his face and a stubborn look in his eye.

Knowing better than to argue, Jiang Cheng grabs his box off the counter, and Wei Wuxian his own, and they head into the living area.

The wrapping process is quick— Paper, tape, and scissors— it mere minutes before both of them are properly wrapped up. Wei Wuxian even insisted on a ribbon for each of them (“I went through the trouble of buying it— we should use ribbon!” He’d said).

Now, two boxes sit on the tabletop, identical in color and shape. Light blue wrapper paper, and a sheer white ribbon tied into a neat bow.

Wei Wuxian goes to stand, grabbing one of them off the table. Grinning down at his brother, Wei Wuxian makes his way over to the front door, gift in hand. Jiang Cheng watches, knowing he’ll say something before leaving.

He waits

His brother’s open hand touches the front door knob, before looking back at Jiang Cheng, “So you’re really into suits, huh?” The tease lights Jiang Cheng up, anger flaring up just as his brother makes a mad dash out, a very audible and amused laugh following. The front door closes behind him.

Jiang Cheng sits in his living room, in complete silence and his thoughts. Unable to take the sudden change in atmosphere, he stands up, heads back into the kitchen and fires up the coffee machine. His anger dissipates quickly, and soon he’s just tapping his finger on the countertop, waiting for it to process.

Suddenly, he stops tapping, a thought entering his head. He looks over at the wrapper gift box sitting innocently on the table in the living room. his mind is mostly empty, but the one thought that’s still in it is consuming.

Maybe Lan Xichen would like them— Jiang Cheng doesn’t exactly eat a lot of cookies, much less sugar cookies.

Biting his lower lip, he contemplates, before quickly pacing through the living room, grabbing the box off the table, and exiting the front door. He has the mind left in him to lock it at least, before pulling his phone from his pocket. Doing a quick search on the web, he finds the place he’s looking for.

Time moves in a blur— he barely remembers getting in a taxi, much less paying for it. He doesn’t let himself think, too afraid he’d get cold feet suddenly.

Nothing about what he’s doing is rational.

Once he’s standing there, it starts to sink in a bit.

Lan Private Law Agency— Lan Xichen’s place of work, and the family business. Swallowing, Jiang Cheng walks over to the mailbox, anxious to shove it in and be done with it.

He walks home afterwards.

— 3 / 14 —

Jiang Cheng wakes late this morning, groggily pulling himself from sleep at the wee hour of eleven in the morning. He walks through the steps of his morning routine, anxious to relax on his day off of University. He’s just poured himself a cup of coffee (black, with only two sugars).

Holding it between his hands for warmth, he takes a nice long sip.

The knocking at his front door is one he doesn’t expect. Twitching in surprise, he thinks back to any potential guests Nie Huaisang could have invited over this morning—Too bad the man himself doesn’t seem to be home right now.

Groaning, Jiang Cheng sets his coffee down, sauntering over to the door and pulling it open without checking what’s on the other side.

A face full of roses is the first thing he sees, and all mental traffic stops there. Once they are repositioned so Jiang Cheng can see who’s holding them, all preconceived notions of what’s going on grinds to a halt.

Why is Lan Xichen standing on his front porch with a bouquet of flowers!

Jiang Cheng feels a blush touch his cheeks as Lan Xichen smiles at him, “Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”

“W-What?” Jiang Cheng stutters, his brain still mentally shut down.

Rather than repeat his question, Lan Xichen moves to hand the bouquet to Jiang Cheng, whereas he attempts to get a good hold on them, shock still quite present.

“The cookies were delicious.”

Jiang Cheng pinches himself before things fall into further confusion. Who’s going out with who?