Happy (late) birthday to meeeeeeee! For those of you who are more recent followers, I like posting fic on my birthday, because a) I feel Accomplished and like I am starting my year off on the right foot (like New Year’s, except I don’t post shit on New Year’s, because I am always hungover), and b) it allows me to ask for EXTRA validation without feeling weird about it. So with that in mind, please validate your local needy author (the birthday girl).
And, I mean, my birthday was yesterday (two days ago, depending on your time zone), this is a day late, but DETAILS.
This is more Musical Chairs, but back to JGY POV, because I, uh, really like writing JGY POV. And happy birthday to me.
(Also, just in case you missed it, I posted a directly preceding bit of this earlier in the week, so if you are confused about the takeout thing and when Wei Wuxian got here, that’s why.)
For the second day in a row, Jin Guangyao wakes up because his phone is going off, and he once again fumbles for it blindly, secure in the knowledge that there aren’t many people who can make his phone ring wile he’s asleep. He presses the accept button without thinking about it, sandwiching the phone between his cheek and the pillow. “A-Su?” he mumbles. “If you tell me they have a secret sex tape of us, I’m joining a cult and moving to Siberia.”
“Joining a cult and moving to Siberia?” Lan Xichen says lightly. “Surely one would be enough. And I think, on balance, I’d prefer Siberia---it’s easier to leave.”
Jin Guangyao goes from mostly asleep to sitting up straight in bed and completely alert at a speed that probably defies physics. “Xichen-ge! I’m sorry, I---Xichen-ge, is everything alright?”
“Of course it is,” Lan Xichen says gently. “I’m here to see you. I’m sorry to wake you so early in the morning, but I didn’t think you would want me standing on your porch where people could take pictures.”
“My porch?” Jin Guangyao jumps out of bed, half-tripping as he rips the power cord out of the bottom of his phone. “You mean you’re---” Here. Lan Xichen actually caught a red-eye flight and is here. He should’ve expected that, frankly, but he’d been so busy dealing with Qin Su and the press and Wei Wuxian last night that---stupid of him. A ridiculous oversight. He usually does better than that, he’s certainly never left Lan Xichen standing on his porch before. “I’m sorry, I should’ve asked for your flight information. I could’ve---well, under the circumstances, it might have been better not to pick you up from the airport, but I could’ve at least been awake.”
“A-Yao, I’m not here to make you take care of me. I just wanted to see you.”
Jin Guangyao floats blissfully, just from that, all the way to his front hall, before his brain wakes all the way up and roots his feet to the floor. “Ah---Xichen-ge, do you mind waiting a moment? I’m going to make Wei Wuxian get the door.” There’s a moment of silence, during which Jin Guangyao feels a need to explain himself. “It’s good if we can clarify for the cameras that he’s still here.”
“That’s fine,” Lan Xichen says slowly, and Jin Guangyao yawns, padding back toward the guest room. “He’s still there? I...didn’t realize.”
There’s an odd quality to his voice that Jin Guangyao is going to have to think about later, once he’s not quite so tired. “Mm,” he says. “Lan Wangji didn’t tell you?”
Lan Xichen snorts delicately. “Wangji is not particularly good at telling me anything, but I’ll have to call him. Later. I’m more worried about you right now.”
Jin Guangyao is fully aware he’s blushing, and he lets the soft, surprised pleasure color his voice. “Xichen-ge, I... Thank you. Thank you for coming.”
He’s rewarded with the smile he can hear when Lan Xichen says, “Of course I came, A-Yao. Of course I did.”
Of course he did. This is why Jin Guangyao can’t help but adore him---because of course he did. It probably never even occurred to Lan Xichen to avoid the scandal. He never would’ve considered it, that it might be better to neatly cut his losses and distance himself, preserve his sterling reputation, his image of moral perfection. Lan Xichen has so much to lose, and he doesn’t even seem to care.
Jin Guangyao slips into the spare room, biting his lip on the feeling that gives him---something like satisfaction, something like worry, something that digs its claws in and settles unpleasantly into his lungs. He knows how to use that, the heavy weight of it, but not when Lan Xichen’s already here, not when Jin Guangyao already has what he’d wanted, so he just sits down on the bed next to where Wei Wuxian has his face mashed into a pile of pillows. “Wei Wuxian,” he hisses. “Wei Wuxian!”
“Wangji says he’s a deep sleeper,” Lan Xichen says helpfully through the phone, and Jin Guangyao makes a face and shakes Wei Wuxian’s shoulder roughly.
“God, what, who, I hate you,” Wei Wuxian mutters. “Jiang Cheng, go away.”
“It’s Jin Guangyao.” When that gets no response beyond a confused grumble, Jin Guangyao rolls his eyes. “Your loving boyfriend.”
“...What the hell.”
Jin Guangyao shakes him again. “I need you to get the door.”
Wei Wuxian groans, rolling over. “Why can’t you get the door?”
“Because I want photos in the tabloids of you getting my door at six in the morning,” Jin Guangyao says calmly. “Also, takeout.”
“You did not get takeout this early in the morning, you---oh, no, you mean---with the shirt, and the---yeah, okay.” Wei Wuxian yawns, sitting up. “For the record, if you were actually my boyfriend, I’d dump you. Dimples and good kissing are not enough to make up for waking me up this early.”
“That’s nice,” Jin Guangyao says. “Take your shirt off.”
“You were a lot more seductive when we were drunk that one time,” Wei Wuxian grumbles, but he sits up and drags his t-shirt over his head. “Do you have one of yours for me?”
Shit. “No,” Jin Guangyao says, disgusted with himself. Exhaustion is no excuse for being this disorganized. “I’ll get one. Excuse me.”
“Don’t be stupid, just give me the one you’re wearing.”
“Oh---fine. Try to look well-fucked.”
Wei Wuxian grabs the shirt that Jin Guangyao yanks off and throws at him. “Misogyny says you’re too short for anyone to want to believe you top.”
Jin Guangyao considers resisting the urge to roll his eyes, and then he decides that Wei Wuxian prefers this kind of banter anyway and just lets it happen. “Try to look like you’ve recently had a very good orgasm.”
“Yeah, yeah, you sucked my brains out through my dick, I got it.”
Jin Guangyao shepherds him through the house, once reaching out and bodily turning him when Wei Wuxian is about to walk straight into a wall in a sleepy stupor.
“Why is anyone even at the door this early?” Wei Wuxian mutters, but does a shockingly credible job of opening it while theatrically trying to pull Jin Guangyao’s too-small shirt over his head. “Oh, Lan-dage, hey. Why are you here? Is Lan Zhan here?”
“Why would Wangji be here?” Lan Xichen says, voice wonderfully close, and Jin Guangyao belatedly remembers to hang up the phone, leaning back against the wall so that he’s far enough away that no enterprising paparazzi will be able to photograph him but close enough to hear. “Hello, Wei Wuxian.”
“I don’t know. You’re here, I thought maybe Lan Zhan---uh, sorry, ignore me, it’s too early for this. Come in, Lan-dage.”
And then Lan Xichen is ducking inside, and Wei Wuxian is closing the door, and Lan Xichen is smiling right at Jin Guangyao and dropping the handle of his bag, and Jin Guangyao suffers a catastrophic loss of self-control and finds himself somehow ten steps forward and enclosed in Lan Xichen’s arms.
This is definitely fine, Jin Guangyao thinks, aware that he’s trying to retroactively rationalize his actions. All right, so he’d made a faint sobbing sound into Lan Xichen’s perfect chest (making Wei Wuxian develop a deathly allergy to other people having feelings in his presence and flee), and okay, so he’s currently leaning against Lan Xichen’s shoulder and having his hair gently stroked, but---well, honestly, it’s fine. Good, even, maybe. Lan Xichen likes taking care of people. Lan Xichen has always been extremely susceptible to the ‘poor, pathetic A-Yao’ gambit, more so than basically anyone else. So if Jin Guangyao has just spent ten minutes having a small breakdown while Lan Xichen ushered him into a bedroom and made soothing noises, that will probably, if anything, just tie Lan Xichen to him more tightly.
The fact that he wasn’t exactly thinking about that at the time is immaterial.
With that in mind, he sniffs a little and wipes a calculatedly surreptitious hand over his eyes as he sits up. “Sorry, Xichen-ge,” he says, looking away as if embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to---well. You just got off a plane, you probably want to clean up. I’ll make you some tea.”
Lan Xichen moves closer immediately. “Don’t be ridiculous, A-Yao. I’ve been to your house before. If I want tea, I can make it myself. You don’t have to---have to host me.”
“I have some more of the milk oolong you liked when you were last here.” In fact, he’d stocked up on it after seeing the appreciative expression on Lan Xichen’s face.
For god’s sake, Jin Guangyao is still shirtless, since Wei Wuxian ran off with the one he’d been wearing. He darts a quick glance at Lan Xichen, just to see if that’s having any effect, but Lan Xichen is too kind to look anything other than deeply concerned and completely un-amorous. Jin Guangyao gives it up as a useless test and stands to grab a new shirt from his closet, tugging it on quickly. “I can make some food, too, if you’re hungry.”
“I’m not hungry,” Lan Xichen says immediately. He gets off the bed, stepping closer and putting his warm hands on Jin Guangyao’s shoulders. “A-Yao, it’s all right. I don’t want tea or food. I didn’t come here for that.”
No, he came here because Jin Guangyao let his act get the better of him on the phone and asked. He came here because Jin Guangyao wanted him to, and there’s a part of Jin Guangyao that, even after all these years they’ve known each other, can’t believe he doesn’t owe Lan Xichen something for that. That Lan Xichen doesn’t expect something back for that.
Everyone else, he knows what to give to keep them in his orbit. They’re all easy: Xue Chengmei and Su Minshan and Nie Huaisang and even Qin Su, all the people whose fires he puts out and complaints he sympathizes with and lives he fixes. All the people who are so reassuringly grateful to him.
But he doesn’t know what Lan Xichen wants. He knows how to act to manipulate Lan Xichen into feeling sorry for him, into saying his name so kindly, into getting on a goddamn red-eye flight from Chicago to LA---
But he he doesn’t know how to make sure Lan Xichen stays. He doesn’t know what to offer so that Lan Xichen will never change his mind.
“A-Yao,” Lan Xichen says gently, and fuck, because that means Jin Guangyao missed his cue.
He ducks his head and falls into one of his easiest roles. “Sorry, Xichen-ge,” he whispers. He lifts his hands and grips the front of Lan Xichen’s shirt, letting them shake a little bit. “Everything’s just so awful right now. I don’t even know if the thing with Wei Wuxian is going to work, and even if it does---” Lie with the truth. “Even if it does, no one’s ever going to forget.” He hears the way his voice trembles, which is a success, it’s good, it’s what he wants. “It’s already in my Wikipedia article, did you know? In the section about my personal life, right after the bit about my mother’s job. In a hundred years, after I die, do you think they’ll remember the Oscar or the incest?”
Lan Xichen doesn’t say anything for a long moment, long enough that Jin Guangyao realizes that was probably too much, too bitter, not soft and sad and accepting enough. He gets ready to make his lip quaver, to let his eyes fill with tears, but before he can, Lan Xichen says, “I don’t know how anyone could ever fail to remember every part of you.”
Jin Guangyao’s brain, already calculating the best angle to drop his eyelids to, stops dead in its tracks. “Xichen-ge?”
“I don’t see how they could forget,” Lan Xichen repeats, “and if they tried, I wouldn’t let them.” He smiles suddenly. “Besides, what about all the other Oscars?”
Jin Guangyao stares at him. “What other Oscars?”
“All the other ones you’ll have by then, of course.”
Is this really how people behave with their friends? Jin Guangyao has spent so long watching Lan Xichen keep him at a careful platonic distance that he can’t tell if he’s just seeing what he wants to, but this feels different. He licks his lips carefully, just to see, but Lan Xichen doesn’t stop staring into his eyes. “Why are you so sure I’ll have them?”
“Because I’ve seen you act,” Lan Xichen says immediately, “and because it’s you, and because I’ve known you long enough that I don’t underestimate you.”
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