was losing my mind today from a combination of sleep deprivation, anxiety, and five different ideas all competing at the exact same time for my attention so I picked one and spent a few hours writing it out.
basically, prince lan wangji falls in love with concubine wei wuxian in nightless city. a/b/o verse mostly because it was a very convenient excuse for wwx being wen ruohan's concubine. about 5.8k in length.
When he arrives in Qishan Lan Wangji can see why people consider the Imperial Palace to be intimidating. The sharp, cutting angles combined with the black and red color scheme, not to mention the sheer mass of the place. It's a city in its own right. Lan Wangji takes it all in with the same blank expression he keeps carefully in place anytime he's somewhere public. The personal guard his brother sent with him shifts nervously where they stand.
Second Prince Wen Chao is sent to greet him. He manages to make Lan Wangji's own royal title sound like an insult and the Gusu Lan guards bristle. Lan Wangji has to remind himself of exactly what's at stake if he offends a member of the Wen royal family and just barely manages an appropriate bow.
The guest quarters set aside for him aren't bad. They smell... not exactly bad and even if they did Lan Wangji is well disciplined enough to ignore it, but it's not exactly pleasant either. The source is an incense burner left out in the bedroom. Lan Wangji stares at it for a long moment, frowning. Then he dumps the old incense and brings out some of his own. Sandalwood, like his own natural scent. Within minutes the smell starts to permeate the room and some of the tension fades from Lan Wangji's shoulders. He doesn't want to be here, but the Wens had... not demanded it, but implied that they were prepared to if the King of Gusu denied their request. They wouldn't say outright that they're taking hostages, but it's the only reason they would suddenly demand that the heirs of the major provinces must be sent to Qishan. For their education, ostensibly. To learn about appropriate leadership or something. Really, it's just a show of power. It's the Wens showing that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, including take the heirs of the provinces.
Lan Wangji steps out onto the porch and takes in the courtyard of the guest quarters. He's sharing the compound with the other province heirs from Qinghe, Yunmeng, and Lanling. Guards from each province are scattered in front of their respective dwellings. Lan Wangji has been on his fair share of diplomatic visits, usually to assist his brother rather than represent him. Qishan is, by far, the most depressing. The palace of Cloud Recesses rests high in the mountains of Gusu and is surrounded by lush forests, flowing rivers, and mountain meadows. By comparison, Qishan is browns and greys painted across severe cliffsides. Even the palace gardens are far more barren than Lan Wangji is used to. He turns to go back inside when movement catches his eye.
A young man enters the courtyard of the guest quarters and pauses, hesitating just inside the threshold as he worries his bottom lip between his teeth. He's dressed in delicate reds and blacks, hair held away from his face by an ostentatious golden ornament. A light breeze carries his scent across the courtyard, something light and floral that tickles at Lan Wangji's memories. He thinks of loud, carefree laughter carrying through the library window accompanied by the flick of long dark hair over a shoulder clad in white guest robes during the lecture his uncle hosts every few years for children of noble families. He blinks and frowns. The young man- an omega, based on his scent- takes a halting step forward. Then he seems to release a great breath and frowns at the ground. His eyes keep darting towards the Yunmeng quarters where Prince Jiang Wanyin is staying. Interesting. Lan Wangji searches his memory, but the lecture feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in the five years since then.
Lan Wangji is so caught up in his thoughts it takes him a moment to realize that the omega is now staring at him. Their eyes meet and Lan Wangji sucks in a sharp breath. There's something distinctly sad about the omega's entire being. He's unhappy here, Lan Wangji thinks, but who isn't? The omega's chin tilts up slightly, scenting the air and his breath seems to catch in his throat. Then a Wen guard storms in and ushers him along. Lan Wangji stands on the porch of his new residence until long after the omega is gone from his sight.
It takes several days to find out the identity of the omega. Gossip is forbidden in the Cloud Recesses, but his brother had also told him to do what he has to to survive here. This probably isn't quite what Lan Xichen had in mind, but who's to say Lan Wangji won't suffer greatly for not knowing the young omega's name.
He is called Wei Wuxian.
He was given to Emperor Wen Ruohan as a concubine for his harem four years ago.
"The Wens demanded tribute," the head of his personal guard reports. "the Jiangs refused to hand over their daughter, so they gave Wen Ruohan their ward."
Wei Wuxian. Lan Wangji remembers him. Cloud Recesses has only very recently begun to desegregate alphas, betas, and omegas. Back then, Wei Wuxian had spent most of his time with his adopted older sister in the quarters for omegas, but that hadn't stopped Lan Wangji from catching sight of him. All too often that lotus blossom scent would drift to him on the wind, accompanied by Wei Wuxian's unrestrained laughter. It had grated on Lan Wangji at first. Until the day he'd gone to his rabbits and found the clearing already occupied. Wei Wuxian had sat in the grass, the skirts of his guest robes spread haphazardly around him, giggling as the rabbits cautiously approached him, sniffing at his fingers. Lan Wangji had stood for too long on the edge of the clearing, Wei Wuxian's intoxicating scent swirling around him, laughter dancing in his ears, and that sweet smile seared forever into his memory. It's a far cry from the sadness Wei Wuxian carries himself with now. No wonder Lan Wangji hadn't recognized him at first.
There's a feast commemorating something Lan Wangji doesn't care to remember two weeks after their arrival in Qishan. It's the first time he manages to get a glimpse of Wei Wuxian since that first day when he'd come to the guest quarters. Wen Ruohan's wife passed away eight years ago, so he often has his favorite concubine sit beside him at feasts. She's a sultry looking omega who flutters her eyelashes at the emperor and giggles flirtatiously all through the meal. Lan Wangji's eyes slide right past him and instead land on Wei Wuxian where he stands stiff backed and obedient just behind Wen Ruohan's shoulder, there to serve food and drinks for the emperor, apparently. All through the feast he diligently assures that the emperor's cup remains filled and that the best dishes are always within reach. He looks miserable. Lan Wangji wants to sweep him away from here, take him back to Gusu, back to the clearing with rabbits where Wei Wuxian had smiled so sweetly.
He doesn't realize he's staring until their eyes lock. After a moment, a ghost of a smile hesitantly touches Wei Wuxian's lips. Lan Wangji's heart pounds in his chest. Even the ghost of Wei Wuxian's beauty is enough to leave him breathless. For a moment, the rest of the room falls away. Then Wei Wuxian's eyes shift and the smile disappears. Lan Wangji follows his gaze to Jiang Wanyin. Wei Wuxian had never been officially adopted by the Jiang family, but Jiang Fengmian had raised him alongside his own children anyway, much to his wife's chagrin. Lan Wangji wonders what it's like for Wei Wuxian and Jiang Wanyin to see each other now.
The banquet drags on. Lan Wangji is used to a strict schedule of sleeping at nine and waking at five. He can tell by how exhausted he is that nine has come and gone, but Wen Ruohan does not permit anyone to leave a feast before he does. Nie Huaisang, sitting to Lan Wangji's left, reaches over and flicks him every time his eyes start to droop. It's annoying, but for the best. Lan Wangji does not want the embarrassment of falling asleep on the remnants of his meal at a feast in Qishan. The less the Wens have to attack him with the better. He'll have to thank Huaisang later for this. They're not friends, really, but close enough, thanks to forced proximity. As princes their older brothers were close friends and they remain so even after ascending to their respective thrones.
When Wen Ruohan finally leaves, Lan Wangji lets out the barest hint of a relieved sigh. He waits until a few minutes after the emperor has exited the room before getting up and leaving as well. Outside, he pauses and takes in a deep breath of cold, night air. It wakes him up a bit and that's how he becomes aware of the crying. Frowning, he follows it to a small alcove tucked out of the way and shaded by a tree in the process of losing its leaves. Wei Wuxian stands there, arms wrapped around himself, shoulders hitching with sobs he's desperately trying to quiet. A stick cracks under Lan Wangji's boot. Wei Wuxian's head whips up.
"Your highness," he says quickly, bowing, tears still trailing down his cheeks.
"Wei-gongzi, are you alright?" Lan Wangji asks. The head of his guard had mentioned that Wen Ruohan is possessive of his harem. He loves to show them off, but no one is allowed to touch. Last year he caught one of his concubines having an affair with a foreign dignitary from a small clan. Both had been executed. He should turn around and leave before someone sees them, but Wei Wuxian's eyes go wide.
"I didn't think you remembered me," Wei Wuxian says. His smile is watery and sad. "The few times we talked I just seemed to annoy you."
"That was a long time ago," Lan Wangji says. He wants to explain that it hadn't been because he couldn't stand Wei Wuxian, but because he didn't know what to do about the odd, uncomfortable feeling in his chest every time he caught Wei Wuxian's scent or saw the flick of his red ribbon or heard his laughter. Instead, he asks again, "Are you alright?"
Wei Wuxian wipes at his tears and his laugh is anything but joyous. "It's just- a lot," he says. "I thought it would be nice seeing Jiang Cheng again, but it just reminds me that I..." That he's stuck here. That he can't go home. Before he realizes what he's doing, Lan Wangji raises a hand. Wei Wuxian's breath hitches. Lan Wangji freezes. For a long moment his hand remains there, hovering in the space between them. Then Lan Wangji drops it to his side.
"You look like you need to go rest," Wei Wuxian says, dropping his eyes. It's so uncharacterists that Lan Wangji doesn't know what to do. The Wei Wuxian that wreaked havoc on Cloud Recesses was anything but demure and polite. Before he can figure it out, Wei Wuxian bows and whirls around, disappearing into the night.
They fall into it slowly. Lan Wangji tries not to. He is well aware of the consequences if Wen Ruohan catches wind of him anywhere near one of his concubines, but even back in Cloud Recesses he'd been unable to help but be drawn to Wei Wuxian. They go from sideways glances to little stolen snatches of conversation in unobserved corners to his guard pointedly turning a blind eye to Wei Wuxian climbing through his window as the sky darkens, looking more alive than Lan Wangji has seen him so far in Qishan.
It's been six months since Lan Wangji and the other heirs arrived, but it hasn't been nearly as miserable as he anticipated. They're expected to attend lessons several days a week which mostly consists of reciting various sayings from past members of the Wen clan and listening to second Prince Wen Chao tell them how stupid and worthless they are. But at the end of the day now comes the possibility of Wei Wuxian crawling in through his window. It doesn't happen every night. Wei Wuxian is far from being Wen Ruohan's favorite concubine.
"He likes to look at me," Wei Wuxian had said one night, head pillowed on Lan Wangji's thigh as Lan Wangji absently plucked out melodies on his qin. "But he rarely actually takes me to bed."
Tonight, as the melody of a song Lan Wangji started writing five years ago fades into the darkening evening, Wei Wuxian crawls into his lap, arms wrapped loosely around Lan Wangji's neck, their noses almost touching. His sweet lotus blossom scent permeates the air, mixing with Lan Wangji's sandalwood. They twine together in a beautiful harmony. Lan Wangji doesn't know who moves first, but the touch of Wei Wuxian's lips to his own is everything he's been imagining and more. The layers of silk slide easily from his shoulders and Lan Wangji splays his hands against the bare skin of Wei Wuxian's back, swallowing his gasp in yet another kiss. From there, it seems only natural to carry Wei Wuxian to his bed, lay him down on the soft sheets, and crawl between his legs. Lan Wangji has read books, but none of them prepared him for what it's actually like.
He doesn't fall asleep with Wei Wuxian wrapped in his arms because someone would notice that Wei Wuxian is missing from his room in the morning. Instead, he wipes the evidence of their activities carefully from Wei Wuxian's skin, helps him dress, then watches him climb back out the window. Wei Wuxian pauses.
"You can call me Wei Ying," he says, almost shy. Lan Wangji swallows, mouth suddenly dry. Wei Wuxian- no, Wei Ying is giving him permission to call him by his birth name.
"You may do the same," Lan Wangji says. A warm smile spreads slow and beautiful across Wei Ying's face.
"Okay." He leans in through the window and kisses Lan Wangji on the cheek. "Goodnight, Lan Zhan." And then he's gone. Lan Wangji stands there for several long minutes before closing the window, smiling to himself.
His brother would be horrified if he knew about the affair. Not because premarital sex goes against their clan's rules. Lan Wangji happens to know his brother would be a hypocrite in that case. No, he would be horrified that Lan Wangji is behaving so recklessly. Every day he tells himself he'll stop and every evening he leaves the window unlocked for Wei Ying to sneak through. It's stupid. Wen Ruohan will kill them both if he finds out. Lan Wangji keeps doing it anyway.
The thing is, it's not just his life at stake if things go wrong. Lan Wangji knows that if Wen Ruohan were to discover the affair and send his men, his own Gusu Lan guards would fight every soldier in Qishan to protect him. There's no way they would survive that. And no doubt his actions would have consequences back home in Gusu as well. It's selfish and stupid and a million other things that Lan Wangji has been raised not to be.
And yet, when Wen Ruohan leaves Qishan right as Wei Ying is about to go into heat, Lan Wangji still sneaks through Nightless City to Wei Ying's room and stays there through the whole weekend. He leaves only because he is expected at Wen Chao's ridiculous indoctrination lessons the next day. Wei Ying pouts at him, his heat temporarily soothed.
"There's still two more days of my heat left," he complains. He flutters his eyelashes at Lan Wangji. "Er-gege, won't you stay and take care of your Wei Ying?" Lan Wangji looks at him, sprawled naked on his bed, hair splayed across the deep red fabric of the sheets. It sends a stab of want through Lan Wangji and it takes all his willpower not to strip back down himself and rejoin Wei Ying in bed. He reminds himself he would have to scrub Wei Ying's heat laden scent from his body all over again, lest someone smell it on him and report the incident to Wen Ruohan when he returns.
"I will return to you tonight," Lan Wangji promise. He shouldn't. But as he looks at Wei Ying's mollified expression he knows he will. He's already cutting it close staying until morning, but when he tried to leave the bed last night Wei Ying had whined and clung to him and he hadn't had the heart to leave him. This is one advantage at least to waking up early. There's still time for him to get back to his room before it gets too light out. He doesn't kiss Wei Ying goodbye because he knows he won't leave if he does.
Two days later, on the final night of Wei Ying's heat, they lie pressed together, sweaty and heaving. Wei Ying is sprawled across him, the two of them still tied together. Lan Wangji closes his eyes, his arms tightening around Wei Ying. He fights the urge to dip into the crook of Wei Ying's neck and sink his teeth into soft, smooth skin. He wants so badly to mark Wei Ying, to claim him as his own, but it would only get them both killed.
He feels Wei Ying's nose brush against the skin of his neck, lightly scenting him. It's followed by little kitten licks, then soft nips. Lan Wangji shivers. He thinks about the high collars of his robes. If it's a little towards his shoulder, no one would ever know. His hand comes up and tangles loosely in Wei Ying's hair, gently guiding his mouth to the right spot. Wei Ying stills.
"Lan Zhan?" His lips brush against Lan Wangji's skin as he says his name.
"You can, if you want to," Lan Wangji says. Wei Ying pulls back far enough to blink down at him, eyes wide. His skin is flushed pink with the fever of his heat and there's a haze to his eyes, but there's also wonder and perhaps a spark of hope.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying says again, so soft and fond. "Lan Zhan I can't." He sounds so pained. Lan Wangji hates it. Wei Ying should never sound like that. He strokes his fingers soothingly over Wei Ying's cheek.
"Yes you can," he says.
Wei Ying shakes his head, even as he leans in to Lan Wangji's touch. "You're not mine to claim," he whispers. "What if you meet someone else? Someone better?" Lan Wangji recoils from the very thought there could be anyone better than Wei Ying. Wei Ying is perfect and beautiful.
"For me, there is only you," Lan Wangji says. He guides Wei Ying's head back down to his shoulder. "There will only ever be you, Wei Ying." Wei Ying's breath shudders across his skin. Then he bites and Lan Wangji gasps.
Lan Wangji leaves Wei Ying's room late that night, the new claim bite hidden beneath his pristine robes.
A month later, a banquet is held to celebrate the end of the indoctrination. It's been a year since the heirs of the noble families were sent to Qishan to be educated. Lan Wangji should be happy that it's almost over. And part of him is. He can't keep the smile from his face when he goes to greet his brother in his own guest rooms. He's never gone so long before without seeing his older brother. If not for Wei Ying, his time in Qishan would have been so much more miserable.
"Wangji," Lan Xichen greets warmly. Lan Wangji isn't the sort that often seeks physical comfort from others (Wei Ying excepted, of course), but when Lan Xichen opens his arms in invitation Lan Wangji takes it. It feels good to be folded in his brother's embrace.
"I hope you've been well," Lan Xichen says when they pull apart and sit to share tea.
"I have sent letters," Lan Wangji points out. Not overly detailed letters, but he was always sure to let his brother know that though he missed home he was doing alright.
"Yes, but it isn't the same as seeing you with my own eyes, didi," Lan Xichen says. They chat and it's so nice and familiar that Lan Wangji can almost forget they're still in Qishan.
The banquet is much more bearable with his brother and the other rulers there. No one pays as much attention to one prince in a room full of kings. It's good because Wen Ruohan is having Wei Ying serve him again tonight. Lan Wangji steals more glances at him than he should, eyes lingering on the peak of Wei Ying's wrist when he holds his sleeve out of the way to pour Wen Ruohan more wine. His gaze keeps being drawn to Wei Ying's smooth, unblemished neck. Someday, he will figure out how to take Wei Ying away from here so that he can claim him the way Wei Ying has already claimed him. They will belong to each other.
That night, he isn't surprised when Wei Ying doesn't come to his room, not with so many guests about. He is surprised when his brother shows up at his door though.
"Xiongzhang," Lan Wangji says, surprised. Lan Xichen's smile is strained.
"Wangji, may I come in? There's something I'd like to discuss with you."
Not exactly reassuring, but Lan Wangji has never had reason to fear his brother, so he steps aside and shows him to a table where Lan Xichen sits in silence as Lan Wangji prepares tea. Lan Xichen takes a long, measured sip before he speaks.
"I had heard that when the Jiang family of Yunmeng was forced to give Wen Ruohan a concubine in tribute, they sent their ward, Wei Wuxian," his brother says. Lan Wangji doesn't wince, but it's a near thing. "I remember when he came for the lecture with the prince and princess of Yunmeng." Lan Xichen gives him a knowing look. "And I remember how taken you were with him." Lan Wangji can feel his ears burning. Sometimes he hates how well his brother knows him.
"That was a long time ago," he says, for lack of anything else. He can't lie very well in the first place, but he especially can't lie to his brother.
"I see some things haven't changed," Lan Xichen says, tone soft and regretful. "Wangji, I won't ask you to confirm what I suspect. I saw enough from how you two looked at each other all evening." Lan Xichen takes another sip of his tea. "Wen Ruohan has heavily hinted that extending your stay here would curry great favor with him. He's made the same offer to the other provinces. I was already hesitant to accept it, but considering tonight, it's only reaffirmed my decision that bringing you back to Gusu is the right thing to do." The spark of hope that ignited at the thought that he could have a bit more time in Qishan, more time to figure out how to make sure that when he leaves Wei Ying can leave with him, shatters.
"Xiongzhang," he says, unable to keep the pained pleading from his voice. Lan Xichen closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again, Lan Wangji recognizes the firm resolve in them.
"Wangji, there's more at stake here than you realize," Lan Xichen says carefully. "I want you back home, safe." Lan Wangji stares at his brother for a long moment, trying to parse out his words. He doesn't ask for clarification, not here in Qishan surrounded by enemies. He knows his brother has been planning something with Qinghe and Lanling and Yunmeng for a while now, slowly and carefully so as not to draw Wen Ruohan's attention, but the details have been kept even from him. He trusts his brother though.
"Okay," Lan Wangji says, even as cracks form in his heart.
Three days later when they leave, he doesn't get the chance to say goodbye to Wei Ying.
It's probably a good thing.
(Lan Zhan pointedly ignores the sorrowful looks Lan Xichen keeps giving him as they ride away from Qishan. He will be strong for his people, for his brother.)
War is what his brother and the other kings have been planning. War against the tyranny of the Wen Empire of Qishan. It's a year and a half of bloody, brutal battles. Lan Wangji acts as one of his brother's generals, leading their soldiers into battles against the Wens' forces. He thinks often of Wei Ying, too often probably. He's acutely aware of the claim bite on his neck and wonders if Wei Ying is thinking of him too.
When the final assault on Nightless City comes, Lan Wangji is resting back in Gusu. His forces had found themselves facing unexpected reinforcements in their last battle. They came out victorious, but only just. Casualties were numerous and those who survived suffered many injuries, including Lan Wangji himself. He's just starting to get back into his normal training regiment when news arrives that Nie Mingjue is leading the assault on Nightless City with the intent of wiping out every last member of Wen Ruohan's clan. Lan Wangji thinks of Wei Ying trapped in the palace, thinks of him getting caught in the crossfire.
He rides hard for Qishan. By the time Nightless City comes into view there's smoke rising into the sky and the air is filled with screams. He makes for a narrow valley where Wei Ying once told him of a secret passage intended for escape. He doesn't know where it is or how to open it, but it's this or try and ride through the chaos of the battle taking place in the city. He won't be much use to Wei Ying if he gets himself killed in crossfire.
As he crests the top of the valley, Lan Wangji looks down and sees two figures already making their way away from Nightless City, dressed in black and red. Lan Wangji recognizes Wei Ying immediately, would know him even if he were blind. The other figure is familiar to him as well, one of the only friends Wei Ying has managed to make in Nightless City. Wen Qionglin is the younger brother of one of Qishan's best doctors, Wen Qing, a soft spoken young man with a talent for archery. He carries a sword now, looking nervously around as he escorts Wei Ying away from the danger. Lan Wangji is just starting to relax when he catches movement from the corner of his eye across the narrow valley. His eyes find golden robed soldiers. If he were closer, Lan Wangji knows he would see the sparks-amidst-snow peony of the Jin clan. There are two archers, each with an arrow already knocked. Lan wangji doesn't think. He pulls his own bow from his back, fits an arrow to it, and takes down the first archer. Before the second one has time to react, he's dead as well. Lan Wangji looks down into the valley and sees Wei Ying looking back at him. Quickly, he leads his horse down and leaps from the saddle, ignoring the twinge of pain in his recently healed leg.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Ying breathes. He looks awful, pale and tired and shaking.
"Wei Ying," Lan Wangji says. He steps closer and that's when he realizes that Wei Ying is holding a child. A baby not yet a year old. His breath hitches. "Wei Ying..." Wei Ying's smile is exhausted, but just as soft and beautiful as Lan Wangji remembers.
"Lan Zhan, I knew you'd come for us," Wei Ying says and Lan Wangji knows that he isn't talking about Wen Qionglin, who watches them cautiously, grip tight on his sword. Wei Ying puts a hand on his friend's arm. "It's alright, Wen Ning. Lan Zhan will keep me safe." Wen Qionglin observes Lan Wangji for a long moment, then nods to himself. He turns and bows to Wei Ying.
"Then I'll leave you in his care, Wei-gongzi," Wen Qionglin says. Wei Ying frowns, receiving a smile in return. "I have to go back for my sister." Wei ying sighs.
"I know." Wei Ying briefly places his hand on Wen Qionglin's cheek. "Be careful."
"I'll do my best." Wen Qionglin bows to Lan Wangji, then turns back to the city. Wei Ying watches him go, expression filled with grief.
"I don't know what I would have done all these years without Wen Qing and Wen Ning," he says softly. "They looked out for me, almost treated me like their brother." Lan Wangji wrap an arm around him and finds his gaze transfixed on the child in Wei Ying's arms, blinking sleepily up at him with familiar eyes. He reminds himself that there's still a war being fought in Nightless City. There could be more Jin soldiers around or others that wouldn't think twice about killing Wei Ying and the child. Anything to ensure Wen Ruohan's entire family ends here.
"Let's go," Lan Wangji says and guides Wei Ying over to his horse.
As it turns out, the invading forces of the other provinces hadn't been the greatest danger to Wei Ying. That had been Wen Ruohan himself. When it became clear that the battle was not in his favor, Wen Ruohan gathered his concubines together. They thought they were being taken somewhere safe, somewhere they would be protected until the battle was over.
Then the guards lining the edges of the room drew their swords and Wei Ying knew they weren’t meant to walk out of that room. Wen Ruohan was possessive of his concubines. If he couldn’t have them, no one could. Wei Ying isn’t sure how he managed to escape. Chaos had erupted in screams and blood as Wen Ruohan sat imperiously in the center of the room and watched his personal guard kill without mercy. Somehow, the door to the inner sanctum of the palace was unlocked. Wei Ying suspects Wen Qionglin knew of Wen Ruohan’s plan. He had been nearby when Wei Ying stumbled out of the room, clutching his screaming child to his chest.
Wei Ying tells Lan Wangji all of this in Gusu, in the safety of Lan Wangji’s private residence, the Jingshi. He’s dressed in borrowed white and blue robes from Lan Wangji’s own wardrobe. They’re of a similar height, but Lan Wangji is broader, his robes slipping slightly down Wei Ying’s shoulder. Lan Wangji fixes it and Wei Ying hums an absent thank you, attention focused on the baby.
“What is his name?” Lan Wangji asks. He hasn’t had time to. He’s been focused on getting Wei Ying back to Gusu and keeping him and the child safe. Wei Ying looks up at him.
“A-Yuan,” he says. “Our son’s name is A-Yuan.” Lan Wangji’s breath leaves him in a shaky exhale. Their son. He had known. He’d known the moment he’d looked down at A-Yuan and seen the shape of his own eyes looking back at him. “Here.” Gently, Wei Ying shifts A-Yuan into Lan Wangji’s arms. Lan Wangji holds his son reverently.
“Our son,” he whispers. Then he frowns at Wei Ying. “How…” Wei Ying hears the question he’s not asking.
“I told you, Wen Ruohan liked to look at me, but otherwise he never paid me much attention,” Wei Ying says. “He heard I was in heat while he was gone and thought I still was when he came back. Wen Qing knew you were with me during my heat, so just to be safe she gave me an herbal tea that mimicked heat symptoms. When I realized I was pregnant, he just assumed it must be his.” Lan Wangji’s shoulder slump, just the slightest bit, in relief. If Wen Ruohan paid a little more attention, perhaps he might have realized that something was off.
“You’re safe now,” Lan Wangji says not for the first time. He’s been saying it the entire journey back to Gusu. “You and A-Yuan. I will make sure of it.” Wei Ying smiles, stepping closer to rest his head on Lan Wangji’s shoulder.
They marry in spring, trees and flowers blooming all across cloud recesses. Jiang Wanyin, newly ascended to the throne after his father’s death in the war, grumbles about it.
“Don’t take it to heart,” Wei Ying says cheerfully as he cleans paint from A-Yuan’s chubby little hands. He's taken an interest in painting lately that Wei Ying enthusiastically encourages. “I’m pretty sure if Jiang Cheng doesn’t have something to complain about he’ll die.”
“Would you prefer to marry at Lotus Pier?” Lan Wangji asks. He’s asked this before. Wei Ying laughs.
“Lan Zhan, the wedding is tomorrow,” he says. “We are not moving it to Lotus Pier. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m perfectly happy to get married in Cloud Recesses.” He checks A-Yuan’s hands for any lingering paint, then rises and comes to wrap his arms around Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji buries his nose in Wei Ying’s neck, nosing along the unblemished skin there. Now that Wei Ying is no longer trapped in Qishan, he could sink his teeth in and leave a claim bite there. Wei Ying goes still in his arms. Lan Wangji presses a kiss to the spot he wants to bite and lifts his head. He doesn’t blame Wei Ying for being hesitant to complete the bond. He spent nearly six year as a prisoner in Qishan. Lan Wangji will be patient and wait as long as needed.
His uncle had been horrified when Lan Wangji had finally admitted to his year-long affair in Qishan with Wei Ying and the child he had fathered outside of marriage. The only thing that had saved them from his uncle’s wrath was the claim bite on Lan Wangji’s neck. It’s enough- barely- to legitimize both their relationship and their son, but Lan Qiren had made it clear that marriage better be in their future.
Lan Xichen had been easier. After all, he already saw with his own eyes the connection Wei Ying and Lan Wangji share. He was delighted to be introduced to his nephew and took immediately to being an uncle.
Lan Wangji searches Wei Ying’s expression carefully. “You would tell me if you are unhappy?” he asks, far more tentative than he would like. Lan Wangji doesn’t normally do tentative. Wei Ying smiles, full of love. Lan Wangji feels a tug on his robes and looks down to see A-Yuan frowning up at them, arms extended in a silent request to be picked up. Lan Wangji doesn’t even hesitate to indulge him. Wei Ying leans in to press a kiss to the crown of their son’s head, then looks at lan Wangji, eyes sparkling with joy.
“Lan Zhan,” he says, “I have never been happier.”
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Hey, so, the trailer for BotW 2 dropped...
And I was think like, everyone assumes Wild will get pulled away to do his second adventure and then return. And I saw the trailer and thought “Twilight is going to take one look at that arm and lose his mind.”
So I channelled all of my losing of my own mind into creativity. This was supposed to be cracky but then the boys decided feelings had to happen instead. Anyways, enjoy!
“So, rations again?”
Everyone in camp groaned.
It had been a few months since Wild had been called back to his own Hyrule for another adventure, and the entire group had been mourning the loss of his cooking since the moment he left.
They missed other things Wild brought to the table, of course they did, but the cooking was the thing that was most universally missed.
“I really want Wild back,” Wind groused as Warriors began counting out some of the dried military rations his Zelda had been kind enough to supply them with the last time they were in his Hyrule.
“Want me back for what?”
Twilight jumped and barely stopped his arm in time to avoid striking the source of the voice with his sword when it piped up near his feet.
He blinked stupidly for a long moment as he took in what he was looking at.
Wild, their missing friend and his protege, blinked back up at him. This would be fine, except only Wild’s head and shoulders were visible, and the rest of him was in the ground, a faint bit of mist-like green light swirling around the place where Wild and ground met.
“Cub?!” He finally managed after a long moment.
“Hey Twi!” Wild grinned, fully pulling himself out of the ground once Twilight stepped back and sheathed his sword.
A glance around said no one else knew how to deal with this development either.
Wild, looked different. His hair was down, and he only had a bit of fabric pulled over his scarred left shoulder in place of an actual shirt. The sandals definitely were new, and he looked vaguely like he’d just tied a sheet around himself to act as clothes.
Then he lifted his right arm to wave, and Twilight’s brain broke for a second.
What happened to his arm was that recent or not why is it glowing what happened to his real arm why does he have a new arm
“Cub, your arm,” was all he managed to get out through the mess his thoughts had become.
He stepped forward hesitantly, reaching for Wild’s arm but pausing when he thought maybe Wild wouldn’t want him touching it. Wild reached out and wiggled it a bit, inviting him probably, and so Twilight stepped up and grabbed it.
Warm, smooth metal met his hands, and he could feel the pulsing of magic just below his fingers. Soft, rolling waves of gentle magic under metal, and what was clearly a mix of sheikah tech and something else made up the limb. Ignoring the ridges and metal and magic, it was a near perfect copy of Wild’s original arm. But it wasn’t Wild’s original arm, that much was obvious.
Wild had lost his arm.
A soft, flesh hand landed on his, and Twilight hadn’t realized he’d stopped breathing until Wild made a show of doing so when he looked up.
Twilight breathed in, tightening his grip on Wild’s new arm a bit in doing so, and did his best to swallow the wave of emotions rolling like thunder clouds in his chest.
“Cub,” he managed, his voice strangled and uncooperative.
“It’s not that big a deal, Twi,” Wild tried laughing it off, but sobered up when he must have realized Twilight was having a bit of an internal crisis. “I lost it early on, so I’ve had a lot of time adjusting to the new one. And this arm has so many cool new features! Like, I can phase through stuff now! You saw that just a minute ago. And it can use the runes just like the Sheikah Slate can, but there’s more to it all now. And it can shoot fire! Just like the fire rods Legend and Warriors have! And I can still feel things with it, somehow, so really it’s mostly just positives. I can barely tell it’s not the original sometimes,”
Twilight swallowed again, breathing harshly through his nose and glancing between Wild and his arm. He gently turned the arm over in his hands, trying to wrap his head around it being there, before his thumbs finally came to rest in Wild’s palm.
He opened his mouth to say something, but everything got stuck in his throat, and he had to close his mouth to swallow again, like the words that wouldn’t come would choke him otherwise.
“No using your new powers to scare us,” Time said, the first of the group to speak. “We don’t need to stab you because someone thought you were a floormaster or something,”
Wild shot him a thumbs up with his free hand. “No phasing close enough to be stabbed, got it,”
Time sighed, well aware Wild misinterpreted what he said, but not feeling like fighting him on it.
“Can you cook for us?” Wind asked, glancing between Wild and the rations Warriors still had out but had stopped splitting up. Warriors was also looking at Wild hopefully.
“Sure,” Wild shrugged. “I’ve actually kind of missed cooking for you guys,”
That elicited a cheer, and Wild carefully pulled his hand from Twilight’s fingers in order to take his place at the cookpot.
Twilight spent all of dinner (goddesses, he’d missed Wild’s cooking so badly) doing his best not to stare at Wild’s arm. His best evidently wasn’t good enough, if the look he got from Time was any indication.
He offered to take the first watch when things winded down, well after Wind had talked Wild into telling them about what he’d been doing while away for so long. No one argued with him, and they shuffled around just a bit to let Wild set up his own bedroll.
He specifically decided not to think about how Wild set up right next to his own.
Twilight was glad this was Four’s era. There wasn’t a lot to worry about in the forest here, which worked well with the fact that Twilight was doing a crappy job of keeping watch.
His mind kept pulling back to Wild’s arm. What happened? Why did he lose it? Was it because he wasn’t prepared enough? Had Twilight not passed on enough of his own skills that Wild could have prevented this? What if he’d been there, like on Wild’s first adventure? Could he have prevented this? What if-
“There wasn’t any way to avoid it,”
Twilight’s head snapped up, twisting to look at where Wild was curled up on his side, wide awake and flexing the fingers on his prosthetic arm, watching the digits move.
“Wild, what,” Twilight trailed off.
“You're thinking about my arm,” Wild said, like he knew. Twilight privately hoped ‘mind reading’ wasn’t on the list of Wild’s new abilities. “You’re feeling guilty about it,”
“I’m not,” Twilight tried to argue, but stopped when he realized how much even he didn’t believe himself.
“It’s okay,” Wild said, setting his arm down on his pillow, finally twisting to look at Twilight somewhat. “I figured you would. But there wasn’t anything you could have done,”
“Cub,” Twilight faltered, face screwed up as he fought internally about arguing that point.
Wild sat up then, looking at Twilight head on. “Twi, you couldn’t have saved my arm. I couldn’t, Zelda couldn’t, no one could. It didn’t matter how prepared I was, or who was with me. I would have lost it anyways. There wasn’t a way to avoid it,”
Twilight looked away, eyes on the fire that he’d neglected so far. He threw another log on, waiting for it to catch before adding another.
“You’re sure?” He asked, probably right when Wild had decided he wouldn’t answer. He ignored how small and unsure he sounded.
“Unless you have a cure for pure Malice,” Wild shrugged. “Yeah, I’m sure,”
Twilight nodded, watching the fire crack.
When he crawled into his own bedroll after waking up Legend for second watch, he wasn’t surprised to find Wild still awake. He was a bit surprised by Wild basically insisting they shared a bedroll by reaching out to cuddle into him, but he didn’t object. He just wrapped an arm around Wild’s torso, pulled him close, and tried his very, very best to ignore the soft whispers and hums from the magic in Wild’s arm.
Twilight struggled with guilt over Wild’s arm for a few days, even as Wild continued to assure him it was fine.
Everyone was pleased by the return of Wild’s cooking, and for the levity he added to the group. Even Twilight couldn’t complain.
Well, he could actually. And did.
Whichever goddess decided it was a good idea to let his already chaotic protege be able to ignore walls was going to get an earful from him eventually.
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