Jiang Cheng: If anyone touches me, I’ll destroy them without hesitation.
Wei Wuxian: Zewu-Jun is literally hugging you.
Lan Xichen: *Hugging Jiang Cheng’s waist*
Jiang Cheng: And?
Jiang Cheng: If anyone touches me, I’ll destroy them without hesitation.
Wei Wuxian: Zewu-Jun is literally hugging you.
Lan Xichen: *Hugging Jiang Cheng’s waist*
Jiang Cheng: And?
Woowowow thank you so much :///D <3 <3 I’m working on the next chapter as we speak, work has just been busy again! But hopefully I’ll be able to post it on my coming days off *fingers crossed* THANKS!
Putting this in the psychic!cop!AU :D
Also, prompts are closed now. Work is busy and I need my spare time for other projects. Thanks to everyone who prompted me! It was definitely fun <3
Prompt 40 | “Am I your husband or your taxi service?” | Xicheng
“You’re lucky that my case is stalled,” Jiang Cheng huffed into the phone, already halfway out the door of his precinct. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been able to cut his days with so many weirdly timed “lunches” just to save Lan Huan who could have very much asked his brother for a ride.
“You are my hero,” Lan Huan said, not sorry sounding in the least, and why should he? It had to be the sixth time this had happened already. “I finally got a call from the shop, so my car should be fixed by tomorrow.”
“Right during your day from hell?” Jiang Cheng didn’t need psychic powers to know he was being swindled. He grinned as he ducked into his car. “How inconvenient for you.”
“Do you perhaps know someone willing to come pick me up after rehearsals?” Yup, definitely not sorry.
Jiang Cheng sighed, but it was fond. Two years, and this man still made him melt. Two years after Nie Mingjue’s case had wrapped up and there had been no real reason to see Lan Huan again, yet here they were with matching rings.
“Am I your husband or your taxi service?” he asked, amused, and started the now very familiar drive towards the concert hall.
“Technically you’re not my husband yet, A-Cheng. That’s a month away.”
Very much not the point, either. Jiang Cheng snorted and rolled his eyes. “Yeah? And I’m clearly marrying a gremlin. What have you done with the perfect Lan Huan?”
“Oh, haven’t you heard?” A smile pressed into his mind, so he knew Lan Huan was grinning. Always a wonderful feeling, that. “He met a detective who changed his life forever.”
That was always a wonder, hearing that. He didn’t know he could be a good influence on anyone’s life, outside of his family and job. He smiled back, even though Lan Huan would not be able to sense it. Or perhaps he could. He wasn’t an empath, but he knew Jiang Cheng well enough to guess his moods correctly all the time. He hoped his happiness got through, even with a gruff voice.
“Bad boy I’m guessing? What were you thinking, A-Huan?”
“That I love him and very much can’t wait to see him,” Lan Huan hummed, and a roll of love gleamed though his connection to the man, making his ears go hot, even this far along. “He’s picking me up, you know.”
“What a hero,” Jiang Cheng said, fingers drumming on the steering wheel. He didn’t like driving, but Lan Huan was the best goal to get to. He just hoped traffic cooperated so he could get there soon and kiss this ridiculous man and steal some time for just them. “You should hang onto him. Forever if you can.”
A wide smile crackled in his mind, making a matching one light his own lips. “Oh trust me, Detective, I plan on it.”
Jiang Cheng on a first date with Lan Xichen
Lan Xichen: So what do you do?
Jiang Cheng: I’m a Sect Leader-
*remembering that the Lan men seem to be attracted to morally grey characters*
Jiang Cheng: -of a gang.
This is inspired by the Eldritch!Lan AU back on @angstymdzsthoughts and it was a delight to play in this sandbox (I might do some Zhuiyi later because I love this AU)
When Jiang Cheng wakes up, he’s immediately alert.
He doesn’t wake up during the night; he always sleeps like a log, so when he blinks awake and notices that it’s still pitch dark outside, the adrenaline spikes hard.
He calms his breathing, tries to listen for anything that could have woke him up, but he finds only silence, can’t even hear the soft breathing of Lan Xichen, who should be next to him in bed.
Jiang Cheng carefully turns his head, maybe the absence of his boyfriend is what woke him up, but when he looks at Lan Xichen’s side, he’s met with something so dark it even stands out against the darkness of the night.
There’s a void next to him in bed and Jiang Cheng throws himself out of it, Zidian already crackling and sparking, illuminating the room in a faint purple.
Jiang Cheng can see the black mass jerk, as if it was startled, and then eyes appear on the shapeless form. A cold shudder runs down Jiang Cheng’s back when more and more eyes open, too many to count, all over the blackness, and they all must glow, emit their own light, because the room gets brighter and brighter with every eye that is opened.
And it just doesn’t stop.
Jiang Cheng thinks there must be eyes on every inch of that black void, and his heart goes into overdrive.
The monster is laying where Lan Xichen should be. If it hurt him, Jiang Cheng will find every single eye on that thing and squeeze them out.
Gusu Lan Rules: No borrowing money!!!
Lan Wangji: That seems fair I guess. *crosses his arms grumpily and kicks a rock*
Lan Xichen: I have an idea tho.
Lan Wangji: ??????
Lan Xichen: It says no one’s allowed to borrow. What if we. Just. Give our boyfriends. The money? :)
Lan Wangji: *bouta be Sugar Daddy Supreme* Boi that’s genius.
Lan Qiren: This is why I choose to not have relationships. Look at them. Dumb as rocks. I’ve met golems with more brain power.
Other elder: You’re just mad they’re right, but go off I guess.
Lan Xichen sat talking to Lan Wangji at the kitchen table.
Xichen: Yeah, married life is great, Jiang Wanyin and I have such a loving and supportive relationship.
Jiang Cheng wanders into the kitchen heading for the freezer: Did you eat all the Rocky Road again you asshole?
“I think you need some tea, Wanyin” Lan Xichen murmured as he stepped into Jiang Cheng’s personal quarters, carrying a tray of tea and covered food bowl. Jiang Cheng glanced up at him but said nothing before he went back to looking over the multiple reports and letters that he had to read and answer by today.
“No, what I need is for the smaller sects to get their shit together and stop bothering me about trivial crap. Like, they have sect leaders for a reason. Ask them questions instead of asking me” he grumbled. Lan Xichen’s lips turned up in a fond smile as he walked over to the man and placed the tray down at the edge of the table before sitting down.
“Well, you should know by now that those sect leaders will try to push any sort of questions and leadership role onto someone else if they can help it” he replied gently as he reached out and grabbed a teacup and the teapot, pouring a steaming cup before placing it in front of Jiang Cheng.
“Here, drink. It’ll soothe your nerves” he explained, his voice ever calm. Jiang Cheng huffed.
“I don’t need tea, Huan. I need to get these reports done and these letters answered by the end of today and by the looks of things, it’s not happening” he grumbled. Lan Xichen just looked at him with soft eyes before he sighed.
“Then if you won’t drink something, will you at least eat something?” he asked. Jiang Cheng looked over at him and narrowed his eyes.
“Why are you nagging me about eating or drinking?” he demanded. Lan Xichen was the one to huff this time.
“Because you’ve been in this damn room since you’ve woken up this morning and you haven’t eaten or drunk anything! I’m worried about your health!” he exclaimed. Jiang Cheng shook his head.
“You’re not my mother. You don’t have to be worried about me” he murmured. Lan Xichen rolled his eyes.
“Your “mother” did not care about you, A-Cheng. She shouted at you at every given chance and compared you to Wei Wuxian and every other cultivator every other moment!” he snapped. Jiang Cheng’s head snapped up and he glared at Lan Xichen, which was something he never thought he would do.
“Don’t speak about my mother like that” he growled. Lan Xichen gritted his teeth.
“She treated you like nothing, Wanyin! Why can’t you see that?!” he exclaimed. Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“I don’t have to listen to this” he grumbled as he pushed himself to his feet and headed towards the door when Lan Xichen turned towards him.
“Yanli wouldn’t like to see you like this” he called out. Jiang Cheng froze and spun towards him, eyes glowing purple.
“What did you say?” he hissed. Lan Xichen sighed and pushed himself to his feet, calmly walking over to Jiang Cheng, standing before him.
“I said, Yanli wouldn’t like to see you like this: haggard, worn-out, short tempered. You need to take a break Wanyin; you need to drink something, eat something. I understand that you’re a sect leader and that you have duties to attend to, but you also have to take care of yourself. Wei Wuxian takes better care of himself than you do” he stated softly. Jiang Cheng glared at him before his shoulders slumped and he sighed.
“Fine. I’ll have some of your damn tea” he grumbled. Lan Xichen grinned, glad that his plan worked, and gently guided Jiang Cheng back to his desk, having him sit down before he handed him the cup of still warm tea as he sat down as well. Jiang Cheng sent him a look, which he just returned with a small smile, before he took a sip of the tea. Immediately, his face softened and he let out a soft sigh.
“See, what did I tell you? You needed something to soothe your nerves. I could see your frown lines from a mile away” Lan Xichen gently teased as he reached out and tapped Jiang Cheng’s forehead. Jiang Cheng huffed but said nothing as he opted to drink more tea. Once he had drank his cup, he eyed the bowl that was on the tray.
“What’s that?” he asked. Lan Xichen looked at the bowl and his own eyes widened before he blushed and carefully took it off the tray, placing it before Jiang Cheng.
“Open it” he murmured. Jiang Cheng raised an eyebrow at him before he looked down at the bowl and lifted off the cover that was keeping the contents warm and a soft gasp escaped his lips. Before him sat almost an exact replica of Jiang Yanli’s lotus rib soup and the damn thing even smelled like his sister’s soup. At the sight, he thought he was going to burst into tears and Lan Xichen thought the exact same thing.
“Um…I don’t know if it will be exactly like your sister’s but…I tried” he murmured. Jiang Cheng glanced at him before he looked down at the soup and, with a trembling hand, picked up his soup and dipped it into the broth. He then lifted the spoon to his lips and at the first sip, Jiang Cheng lost it and burst into tears. It tasted exactly like his sister’s soup and he had no idea how Lan Xichen had managed to make it taste exactly like how it did in his childhood but the only explanation he had was that Lan Xichen was a Lan and Lan’s were perfect fucking human beings.
“A-Cheng? What’s wrong? Do you not like it?” Lan Xichen asked, concern in his voice and on his face. Jiang Cheng shook his head and let out a soft sob as he looked at Lan Xichen.
“It’s perfect. It tastes exactly like how A-Jie made it. Thank you, Huan” he croaked. Lan Xichen let out a sigh of relief and dipped his head slightly.
“I’m glad you like it. I had to ask Wei Wuxian for help with the recipe, since we Lans don’t particularly use spices in the Cloud Recesses” he explained. Jiang Cheng looked at him in shock.
“Wei Wuxian helped you make this?” he whispered. Lan Xichen nodded.
“He did. He has a surprisingly good memory of all the spices used in this particular dish” he explained. Jiang Cheng’s lips turned up in a small smile before he took another sip of the hot broth and smiled contently. He continued to eat the entire content of the bowl, Lan Xichen watching him with fond eyes. Once he was done eating, he looked over to see Lan Xichen watching him, a fond look on his face.
“What?” he asked. Lan Xichen smiled and shook his head.
“Nothing. It’s just nice to see you…happier” he murmured. Jiang Cheng frowned.
“I’m happier?” he asked. He didn’t feel happier, he just felt…warm. And content. Lan Xichen nodded.
“Well, you might not be happier, but you looked happier while you ate the soup. Sometimes it’s the simple things that can dig us out of the trenches of life and brighten up our day a little” he explained. Jiang Cheng stared at him for a moment before he huffed and shook his head.
“You’re a strange man, Huan” he murmured. Lan Xichen shrugged.
“Maybe. But you also deserve to be happy, Wanyin. And if making you that soup for the rest of your life makes you happy, even if for a moment, then god damn it, I will make that soup for you for the rest of your life” he declared. Jiang Cheng looked at him with wide eyes before his face softened and he smiled.
“You know what else would make me happy?” he asked. Lan Xichen raised an eyebrow.
“Oh? And what’s that?” he asked. Jiang Cheng smiled softly at him.
“If you would play your flute while I work. I think that would actually help me finish all these letters and damn reports” he explained. Lan Xichen paused before he smiled softly as well as he pulled out his flute and shut his eyes, beginning to play. Jiang Cheng sat in silence, just listening to Lan Xichen play, a soft smile on his face, before he sighed and turned back to his reports and letters, stomach full of his sister’s soup and ears full of Lan Xichen’s soft flute playing. As Lan Xichen played, Jiang Cheng worked diligently, quickly finishing all of the reports and answering all the letters that he had to answer in record time. When he was finished, he stood up and walked over to Lan Xichen and softly cleared his throat. Lan Xichen opened his eyes and when he saw Jiang Cheng standing before him, he immediately stopped playing and smiled.
“Finished already? That was quick” he stated. Jiang Cheng nodded.
“I know. Thanks to your soup and music, I was able to finish quite efficiently” he replied. Lan Xichen smiled and stood to his feet, disappearing his flute into his robe sleeve.
“I’m glad I was able to help” he stated. Jiang Cheng smiled before he blushed and cleared his throat.
“Actually, Huan, I was wondering—” he started, making Lan Xichen raise an eyebrow.
“Yes, Wanyin?” he replied, voice soft as ever. Jiang Cheng’s blush deepened and he cleared his throat again before he looked into Lan Xichen’s eyes.
“I was wondering if the next time I have to work…you would be willing to play for me again” he murmured. Lan Xichen blinked before he chuckled and nodded.
“Of course Wanyin. Would you like for me to make the soup as well?” he asked. Jiang Cheng nodded.
“As long as Wei Wuxian helps” he replied. Lan Xichen smiled softly (he knew deep down Jiang Cheng still had a soft spot for Wei Wuxian) and nodded.
“Alright” he agreed before he motioned to the door of Jiang Cheng’s room.
“Shall we get out of here and get some fresh air?” he asked. Jiang Cheng nodded.
“I would love to” he replied. Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng then turned and headed towards the door to Jiang Cheng’s room, opening it to reveal the warm afternoon sun shining over Lotus Pier, reflecting off the lake water, making the lotus blossom’s colors seem brighter.
“Shall we?” Jiang Cheng asked, looking over at Lan Xichen, who nodded in reply.
“Lead the way” he replied, a soft smile on face. Jiang Cheng smiled as well and soon both sect leaders were leaving Jiang Cheng’s stuffy room to enjoy the bright sun, beautiful scenery, and each others company.
Jiang Cheng is nervous and his wardrobe isn’t offering any help.
Lan Xichen only knows him in suits and formal wear, thanks to their jobs, so picking something else, something more relaxed and casual, is more difficult than Jiang Cheng thought it would be.
And he wants to choose something nice, wants to impress Lan Xichen as best as he can.
Jiang Cheng likes the man, respects him even more, and it would suck if his choice of clothes ruins every chance he maybe ever had.
Jiang Cheng sighs as he continues to stare in his wardrobe and not for the first time he wishes Yanli was still there. She would know what to wear.
The thought stings, like always, even nine years after her death, and Jiang Cheng shakes his head in an attempt to clear his mind.
“You’re going out,” Jin Ling suddenly says from the doorway and Jiang Cheng whirls around. “You’re going out with him.”
“With who?” Jiang Cheng asks because he is certain he hasn’t told Jin Ling about his date today.
“The guy you keep talking about, Lan Xichen.”
Okay, maybe he has been talking more about Lan Xichen than he normally does about his work relationships.
“Yes, we’re going out,” Jiang Cheng admits, because he’s not about to start to lie to his nephew.
“I don’t want you to,” Jin Ling says and stubbornly looks at the floor, but Jiang Cheng sees how he wrings his hands, and Jiang Cheng immediately softens.
“Come here, kiddo,” he says and sits down on the bed as he pats the spot next to him.
Jiang Cheng has no clue what he is doing. There are so many rings, so many different designs, and Jiang Cheng just doesn’t know which one to choose.
He has a general idea what Lan Xichen will like, but he isn’t sure the shop has what he needs.
He is just browsing the collection, again, for the fifth time, when he suddenly feels a looming presence behind him.
Jiang Cheng turns around, scathing remark about personal space and the respect thereof already on his tongue, but when he sees that it is Lan Wangji, he quickly swallows it down.
“What are you doing here?” he asks with a frown, because if Lan Wangji just came into the shop to tell him that he is stupid in thinking Lan Xichen would say yes to him, then they will have a fight.
“Same as you,” Lan Wangji says with a nod towards the rings.
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng breathes out and then smiles at Lan Wangji. “Wei Wuxian won’t even let you finish your proposal, I hope you’re prepared for that,” he then tells him, because he knows his brother.
He will yell yes the moment Lan Wangji goes down on one knee.
“Brother will let you finish, but he’ll say yes, too,” Lan Wangji tells him, the corner of his lips just slightly raised and by now Jiang Cheng knows him well enough to see it for the genuine smile it is.
“I really hope so,” Jiang Cheng whispers, because he can’t deny that he’s still nervous; that there’s still a small part of him that fears Lan Xichen will say no, no matter that they’ve been together for almost eight years now.
“Do you have an idea yet?” Jiang Cheng asks to distract himself and he looks back at the rings. “Because I’m at a total loss.”
i want a xicheng aladdin au… hmmm.. i might actually write one after i get a break from all of this
I’m not for the mpreg scene, sorry, but I think I have a good compromise? <3
Prompt from this list here.
Prompt 54 & 94 | “Why is there a pregnancy test in the trash?” & “You’re an idiot. I married an idiot.” | Xicheng
Jiang Cheng had been floating all day, a grin on his face, a skip in his step. He’d had it before he’d left for work that morning, and he was humming in the kitchen when Lan Huan came home. It wasn’t a usual mood for his husband to adopt and Lan Huan indulged in more than a fair share of happy kisses before he was shooed out of the kitchen so Jiang Cheng could cook in peace.
Lan Huan took his time undressing just to listen to the sweet humming and wondered what it could possibly be from. A promotion at work? An upcoming vacation? A surprise celebration?
It was an itch, knowing Jiang Cheng would probalby wait until dinner to tell him anything, but it would be worth it just to see Jiang Cheng so blissful for once.
He was smiling to hear Jiang Cheng halfway break out into a song (and only halfway because he didn’t know all the words and had been humming the melody just fine) when he stepped into the bathroom and noticed the small trash had been moved from next to the toilet. Not a big deal, easily fixed, but what was laying on top of the tissues and wrappers had him pausing. Shock made everything stand still a moment, then he was running back to the kitchen.
“Where is the fire?” Jiang Cheng asked him, amused at his huge eyes, but his mind had gone blank, focused solely on what had been in there and what it had read.
“Why is there a pregnancy test in the bathroom?” he asked, alarmed and excited, all at once.
Jiang Cheng looked even more amused and that bright glowing, floaty happiness encased him all over again. Lan Huan’s heart jumped right into his throat to see it. “Guess.”
“You’re pregnant?” The words were out before he realized there may actually be something wrong with them, but the shock had stopped the circle of his brain in it’s tracks.
“What the actual fuck, A-Huan?” Jiang Cheng barked a laugh and smacked him in the stomach lightly, rattling him back to earth with a horrendous blush. “I don’t have baby making bits, thank you very much.”
“Then… who?” he asked, before it started to click. “Wait.”
“An idiot. How is it I know Wei Ying and I still married the bigger idiot?” Jiang Cheng muttered, but his smile was wide and too happy to frown.
Lan Huan got excited all over again. “Your sister?”
“That was the third one, positive all across the board,” Jiang Cheng told him and he drew Lan Huan into a laughing kiss. “I am going to be an uncle. The best uncle.”
“You will,” Lan Huan said, assured of that, and kissed him back. “Though, for the record, if you had the baby making bits -”
“Finish that sentence and I will neuter you,” Jiang Cheng told him brightly. Lan Huan laughed to see it, real threat or not, that face was priceless.
“Understood, my love. Understood.”
I put this in my psychic!cop!JC au, hope that’s okay!
Prompt from this list here.
Prompt 86 | “You’ve never smoked anything in your life.” | Xicheng
Jiang Cheng hated waking up in hospitals, for the obvious reasons. The sterile environment, the beeping machines. The wandering spirits still lingering there because they were surprised to find they were actually dead.
There were thankfully no ghosts he could feel as he became aware of the world again, but seeing Lan Huan sitting there with bags under his eyes and looking wrecked was about the same gut reaction. The fact he smelled like smoke only made everything weirder.
“Why do you smell like cigarettes?” Jiang Cheng croaked, his voice sticking to the back of his throat. Lan Huan’s head snapped up so fast he probably got whiplash. “You never smoke. Never have in your life. You told me so.”
“Detective.” Lan Huan took his hand with palpable relief and squeezed it and some of what had happened started to come back. The gunshot, the blood. Lan Huan’s scared face. His mouth too, because they’d been about to kiss, hadn’t they?
“You kept me from bleeding out and stayed with me for god knows how long,” Jiang Cheng huffed at him, licking his dry lips against the words. “I think we’re more familiar than that, Lan Huan.”
Tears came to the man’s eyes and he nodded, looking far too happy to say his name. Idiot. “Jiang Cheng, I thought… I thought I may have lost you.”
“Too pissed off to die,” Jiang Cheng told him, getting a laugh. It was his usual go-to for this situation, which happened more than it ought, really. “Seriously, you smell. Did you smoke something?”
“I found a pack of cigarettes in your pocket,” Lan Huan told him, contrite. “You told me once they helped with your shakes. I… may have tried one when you were in surgery.”
Amazing. “A Lan smoking? Call the cops.”
Lan Huan squeezed his hand again, laughing wetly, and pressed his forehead to their joined fingers. “For the record, it didn’t help. Just gave me a headache.”
“It would,” he snorted, then looked around. Nie Mingjue was oddly absent and his presence difficult to parse. He closed his eyes to feel for him and found the spirit in the waiting room, where Nie Huaisang and Mo Xuanyu had fallen asleep.
“I’m here,” he breathed, grateful that that was actually true. He forced his eyes back open and managed a grimace of a smile for Lan Huan, who was still quietly crying. He’d never been more grateful to potent meds than now, seeing those silent trails. Without morphine he’d be panicking. Instead, he could simply squeeze Lan Huan’s fingers best he could and keep trying to smile. “I’m here.”
Still not tired of these? lol
Prompt from this list here!
Prompt 141 & 149 | “That’s open for discussion.” & “We started with one and now we have seven. You have no chill.” | Xicheng
It was about week five in living with his boyfriend that Jiang Cheng realized Lan Huan was actually a bit of a hoarder. Not trash or anything like that, but animals.
He supposed he could understand it, given Lan Huan had never been allowed pets growing up. Their apartment was temporary, just to last the year, so they’d compromised on getting mice to start their pet journey together and Lan Huan had fallen in love with the one they’d chosen, Little Petal, immediately.
That wasn’t the problem. It was actually adorable and the farthest thing from a problem. The thing was…
“A-Huan, I think we need to talk,” Jiang Cheng sighed, leaning in the archway of the living room. Lan Huan was an elegant sprawl on the floor covered in mice. Yeah, that’s right. Plural. “More specifically what you’ve been doing while I’ve been at work.”
Lan Huan blanched and sat up, careful of the two curled up in his turtleneck. Ridiculous man. “They were at the animal shelter,” he started with. “I couldn’t just leave them there.”
“You couldn’t discuss this with me either?” Jiang Cheng asked, eyebrow raised.
“What is there to discuss?” Lan Huan averted his eyes like a child just caught stealing a cookie from the jar. Owning pets had brought out his stubborn side, which was all shades of hilarious. “They are small and out of the way.”
“A-Huan. We had one and now we have seven. Seven.” Jiang Cheng did his best not to laugh at the contrite look his boyfriend adopted, but it was a losing battle. “You have absolutely zero chill.”
“I’m sorry,” Lan Huan breathed and Jiang Cheng knew he could believe it. After all, the six new arrivals had only just appeared, which probably meant Lan Huan had seen them in need and folded immediately, as he was prone to do. It was… sweet. Exasperating, but sweet.
Still. “When we graduate to cats, you aren’t allowed to pull this stunt,” Jiang Cheng sighed and sat next to him on the floor. His socked feet were immediately mobbed by curious noses. “And that is not up for discussion. We can’t become the crazy cat ladies and try to rent. It just won’t happen.”
“i know,” Lan Huan assured him and took his hand to kiss it. “I only took them because they are small and easy to keep. I’m sorry for not asking first. It will not happen again.”
It would probably happen again, but Jiang Cheng believed him regardless. “I’ll let it slide this time, then, but next time we need to communicate.”
“They need names if that is something we can discuss?” Lan Huan offered, holding out a young, black mouse with a white spot on its nose. Jiang Cheng was lost immediately, damn it all.
“I suppose that can be up for discussion,” he said, shaking his head, and took the tiny rodent. It immedieatly burrowed into his cuff and sat there, wiggling its nose. “We are doomed to keep taking in strays, aren’t we?”
Lan Huan laughed, helplessly, and kissed him soft. “Probably.”
Jiang Cheng did his best not to fidget as he stood outside Lan Xichen’s door, the arch a well known curve that heralded so many new things. A real and growing friendship, a real and growing feeling in his heart each time Lan Xichen smiled, which was becoming easier and easier to gain. The man was still grieving in his seclusion, but he’d given Jiang Cheng the jade token to allow him entry at all times and Jiang Cheng made it a point to come and be with him when he could afford it, the way he wished someone had done for him, so long ago.
Lan Xichen looked tired, but happy to see him when he pulled the lattice back. “Wanyin,” was the welcome, no bow, no nothing proper. One of the many signs that they were beyond such things. Jiang Cheng gave it in return, his wrapped bundle nearly burning in his sleeve now.
“Lan Huan,” he said and slipped inside, out of the cold. Lan Xichen’s rooms were always chilly, but he kept the furnace always burning and blankets out. Jiang Cheng didn’t wait to be shown to the tea table to grab one and wrap it around himself. “How have you not frozen over yet? Fuck’s sake.”
“It was close, I assure you,” Lan Xichen chuckled, the barest breath of mirth passing through his nose. He glided so gracefully to grab the teapot and two cups and join him. It was a well beloved dance, this moment just sitting and talking, drinking and making odd animal shapes in the soups that were brought in. It was a spot of normal Jiang Cheng didn’t think he’d ever get, a hint of… something he wanted, and didn’t think he’d ever want. He wouldn’t get it, because Lan Xichen deserved someone much better than Jiang Cheng to love, but that didn’t stop his foolish heart from falling.
There were worse things, he supposed, than loving someone that didn’t know it. Of all the secrets and pains he’d carried over the years, the agony and grief and guilt, this was by far the easiest ache to hold onto.
Lan Xichen had once told him that love was like seeds which were planted in the people around around them. Jiang Cheng had to agree, though his seeds had sprouted long before planting, which was just typical.
He waited for Lan Xichen to pour them tea and settle before offering the bundle to the man. Not much delighted Jiang Cheng, but seeing his surprise was damned close. “Mid-Winter,” he explained, trying hard not to sound harsh. “Are you losing track of days again?”
“More the days have been going fast of late with so much winter preparations,” Lan Xichen assured him, which Jiang Cheng actually believed. He seemed sincere about it and eager as he traced the paper wrapping. “I did not get you anything.”
“I did not expect it,” Jiang Cheng snorted and gestured for him to open it, impatient to get it over with, lest his heart fall right out of his chest and into his tea. What a horrifying sight that would be. “Open it before I take it back.”
Another little laugh, progress, though his heart threatened to jump out right then and there to see his sweet, sweet smile. Honestly, how did anyone spend any length of time with this man and not fall as hopelessly as Jiang Cheng had fallen?
Lan Xichen stilled when he uncovered the comb and jade pin, carved with lotus and lilies. He wondered if Lan Xichen would read into the symbolism of it and find Jiang Cheng’s deepest wishes, but of course he did not, just carefully removed the wooden comb and pin with shaking hands and awe plain in his eyes.
“You wanted to change your style, so that pin is altered for a lower knot,” Jiang Cheng told him, glad he could fall on stating facts instead of the bite of disappointment, and told himself it was good enough that Lan Xichen seemed pleased with the gifts. “And the comb is like mine, which you said you liked.”
Never mind the comb in question had been the comb he’d bought as a young fool in the grips of first love. How Lan Xichen could overlook a gift that literally meant heartsickness was also very typical, because of course Jiang Cheng would be lost on a man as dense as a brick.
“They are beautiful,” Lan Xichen breathed and immediately reached up to undo his own top knot. It was a sign of how close they’d become, the trust and lack of propriety. Jiang Cheng warmed to see it and moved without prompting, getting up to take the pin and comb and set in the new style.
“There,” he said when he’d finished, giving the comb a secret caress before setting it down in front of Lan Xichen again. His hair hung in looser curtains and it looked far too good on him. Jiang Cheng quickly returned to his seat to get his heartbeat back under control.
“Thank you, Wanyin. For the gifts. For everything.” Lan Xichen’s eyes were so impossibly dark, so soft and warm and everything Jiang Cheng wanted to drown in. He forced a smile to his face instead and nodded once, forcing himsefl to be content with what was offered. He wasn’t a thief, after all. He would only take what was freely given.
Lan Xichen would never give it, so this was enough. It had to be. And one day, he hoped, he’d believe it fully.