Nie Huaisang becomes an uncle and immediately sets out to be a jokester about it
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Hi! Prompt: 1. The Wens attacked early, Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng are taken in as wards/hostages of the Wen sect as children
- Chapter 1 - ao3 -
“Jiejie,” Jiang Cheng said, tugging on his sister’s hand. “I don’t want to be here.”
“None of us want to be here,” another little boy said, and Jiang Cheng turned to look at him: he was even shorter than Jiang Cheng, and rubbing his eyes in the aftermath of a yawn. “I’m Nie Huaisang. Who’re you?”
“He’s Yunmeng Jiang sect’s Jiang Cheng,” Jiang Yanli said, while Jiang Cheng pressed his face into her side to hide how he’d gone bright red at the concept of someone his own age talking to him. “I’m Jiang Yanli. Is your older brother here in the Nightless City, too?”
Nie Huaisang’s lip quivered, and Jiang Cheng abruptly felt better about how awful he felt about this whole thing; at least he wasn’t crying like a great big baby. “He’s supposed to be,” Nie Huaisang said. “But the Wens took him away earlier, and I haven’t seen him since. I took a nap, ‘cause he said he was gonna be back before I knew it, but I woke up and he’s still not back…”
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Jiang Yanli reassured him. She glanced over at the door where there were Wen sect disciples standing as guards. “Why don’t you and Jiang Cheng play together a bit while I go find him?”
Jiang Cheng’s mouth gaped open in horror and he clung to her side, unable to verbalize his words, but luckily Nie Huaisang was leaping forward to grab her sleeve, too, saying, “You can’t go! They’ll take you away, just like they took my da-ge!”
Normally, Jiang Cheng would’ve objected to someone being so intimate with his big sister, but in this instance he nodded furiously, glad that Nie Huaisang had said what he couldn’t.
“It’ll be fine,” Jiang Yanli said, and Jiang Cheng was starting to think they had a different definition of the word ‘fine’. “I’ll be back soon, I promise. Go play.”
In the end, Jiang Cheng’s tears and Nie Huaisang’s arguments had no effect, and off she went. By that point, Jiang Cheng was very attached to his new friend, who was so clever and talkative and obviously the only one to understand him in this awful new place, but that didn’t help when what he wanted was his big sister.
“Do you want to go meet the others?” Nie Huaisang eventually asked after they’d both cried out all their tears.
“Others?” Jiang Cheng asked.
Nie Huaisang nodded. “Lan Zhan’s there, he’s from the Lan sect, I’ve met him and his big brother before,” he said. “And there’s also A-Xuan…I dunno what sect he’s from, you can’t really talk to him. He’s terrified. He doesn’t have a big brother. Or sister, I guess.”
That sounded awful, and Jiang Cheng felt bad for the faceless A-Xuan at once.
“Let’s go talk to them,” he agreed.
He hoped they were nice.
Jiang Cheng immediately got into a shoving fight with Lan Zhan and decided he was his worst enemy – Lan Zhan tried to bite him! that was cheating! – but that only lasted right up until they were both introduced to Wen Chao and then they were best friends teaming up against a new worst enemy.
(Nie Huaisang didn’t count. He was everybody’s best friend, even Wen Chao’s, and anyway he claimed he was littler than everyone and therefore everyone had no choice but to be nice to him. Jiang Cheng was prettycertain that wasn’t how that worked, and also that maybe Nie Huaisang wasn’t really the littlest, but Nie Huaisang was very sure of himself and it was hard to argue with that level of confidence.)
“You’re here so that I can tell you what to do!” Wen Chao insisted, clutching his arm and sniffling. Lan Zhan had bitten him, which was definitely the right move and very impressive. “You can’t be mean to me! I get to be mean to you!”
A-Xuan, who’d been sitting quietly in the corner staring at the wall like it had done something to him personally, pulled his thumb out of his mouth. “If you do that, they’ll replace you,” he said woodenly, and since it was the very first thing he’d actually said this whole time, they all turned to look at him. “You’re an heir, aren’t you? That means you’ve gotta live up to expectations. There’s always someone waiting to take your place if you don’t…”
Jiang Cheng shivered. “What do you mean, take your place?” he asked, both horrified and unwillingly, perhaps even ghoulishly intrigued. “Like…someone who looks just like you, but isn’t you?”
A-Xuan nodded solemnly. “There’s lots of them, dozens of them,” he whispered, and they all crowded in close to listen, even Wen Chao. “They’ve got all sorts of skills and talents, admirable things that should make them happy, but they don’t want what they’ve got, they want to live your life. If they can, they’ll peel off your skin and wear it like a coat so that they can sneak in to take your place, and no one – not even your parents – will ever know or care to look for you…”
“That isn’t real,” Wen Chao protested, but his eyes were white all around the edges. “Doubles like that don’t exist!”
A-Xuan just looked at him with pity in his eyes, and somehow that was scarier than any amount of insistence would have been.
“Are they a type of demon?” Lan Zhan asked, gnawing on his sleeve anxiously. “Shufu taught me how to draw talismans to repel demons.”
A-Xuan wrinkled his nose. “Maybe?” he said uncertainly.
“Definitely!” Nie Huaisang said, nodding furiously. “Something like that, it has to be a demon, right? A-Zhan will show us how to make talismans to keep them away and then none of us need to worry about being replaced!”
“Good idea!” Wen Chao exclaimed.
“And Wen Chao needs to be nice to us,” Jiang Cheng put in. “Right, A-Xuan? If he keeps proper etiquette, he won’t be replaced, that’s how it works?”
“That’s what my mom says,” A-Xuan said, nodding. “You don’t get replaced as long as you show that you’re better than they are, and having proper etiquette’s part of that.”
“And if we’re all friends, we can make sure no one gets replaced by doubles!” Nie Huaisang exclaimed, clapping his hands together. “Maybe our parents wouldn’t notice, but we could – maybe we invent some secret signs that only we’d know, and the doubles wouldn’t –”
“Okay, okay, we can do that,” Wen Chao said. “But I still want a talisman!”
“Do you know why we’re here, Wen-xiong?” Nie Huaisang wanted to know – he called everyone ‘xiong’ and refused not to because he said everyone in his sect did that, even if it sounded really weird for kids their age to be using that – and Jiang Cheng looked at Wen Chao, eager to know the answer. The Nightless City was the Wen sect’s home, just the way the Lotus Pier was the Jiang sect’s, the Unclean Realm the Nie sect’s, and the Cloud Recesses the Lan sect’s; it would make sense that Wen Chao, as the second little master here, would know more than they did.
But Wen Chao shook his head. “My father did something, I think,” he said. “My da-ge is helping him, but I’m too young…I dunno. I think you guys might be here for a while.”
“How long?” A-Xuan asked.
“A long time,” Wen Chao said. His face was a little pale, a little guilty in a way he hadn’t been before. “I think maybe…years.”
Years? But that was practically forever!
“Will my da-ge be here too?” Nie Huaisang asked. “Or Jiang-xiong’s jiejie?”
“Yeah. I think it’s – that it’s everyone. I think…” Wen Chao trailed off. “I think there’s going to be a war.”
“What’s a war?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“It’s a bad thing,” Nie Huaisang said, much to everyone’s surprise. He usually didn’t answer questions, and when one was posed to him, he usually responded with ‘I don’t know’ – those were practically his favorite words. “War’s a really bad thing, where all the strong people have to leave to go fight in battles. People get hurt in wars. People die in wars.”
They all shuddered. That was a bad word.
“I don’t want there to be a war,” Jiang Cheng said, biting his lip. “I don’t want my mom to get hurt – she’s a great cultivator, really strong, the strongest! But that means she’d have to go fight, wouldn’t she? And my dad, too?”
“My father wouldn’t fight,” Lan Zhan muttered. “He’s in seclusion…they wouldn’t make my shufu fight, would they? He’s a teacher– he can use a sword, but he prefers music –”
“Neither my mother or father can fight,” A-Xuan said, gnawing on his fingers. “Not at all. They pay other people to fight for them…they’re a bit mean, sometimes, but I don’t know if I want them to die.”
He sounded a bit uncertain, though.
Jiang Cheng felt a bit of pity. Poor A-Xuan’s parents must be reallymean.
“Is there anything we can do to stop it?” he wanted to know. “Maybe if we’re really good and everyone asks really politely, all at once, for them not to…?”
Wen Chao looked tempted, but Nie Huaisang shook his head. “My dad says war is like a mountain avalanche,” he said solemnly. “Once started, it’s hard to stop. He’s not afraid of war, but he doesn’t want it, either – I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I really…”
He bit his lip.
“I really don’t know.”
It was a whole three days – or, well, it felt like it, because they definitely took at least three naps, though maybe they were deliberately taking extra to make the time pass faster – before their brothers and sisters finally came back.
Jiang Cheng rushed over to Jiang Yanli at once, of course, bawling his eyes out for having missed her – it’d been awful without her, unimaginably awful, and if he didn’t have all his friends he would’ve been even worse off – but once she’d comforted him a little, that familiar face and smile and scent all deeply reassuring as she hugged him and kissed his hair, he couldn’t quite help himself in his curiosity: he turned around and peeked at all the others.
Wen Chao was tugging that the clothing of an older boy – that would be his big brother, who they’d all very painstakingly determined was probably the oldest, maybe, unless Nie Huaisang’s brother was. Wen Xu was tall and had a handsome face, but it was thin in a way that made him look tired and anxious and wound up; he snapped at Wen Chao for bothering him, but Wen Chao ignored him, which suggested that snapping was his normal response. Wen Xu’s eyes kept flickering around the rest of the room as if he thought they were all watching him, and, perhaps in deference to that, he allowed Wen Chao to keep harassing him.
Nie Huaisang’s big brother, not far away, was even bigger than Wen Xu, taller and with broad shoulders. He had a narrow waist and a slightly too-round face that made him seem a little young, but on the other hand he also had an imposing way of carrying himself that made him seem older – even looking right at him, it was really hard to tell whether he was older or younger than Wen Xu. He was kneeling next to Nie Huaisang, comforting him, and he seemed steady and reliable. Jiang Cheng thought secretly to himself that even if Wen Chao’s brother really was the older one, Nie Huaisang’s brother was probably the better one to have around, as far as big brothers went.
Lan Zhan’s big brother seemed nice, too: he was clearly younger than the other two, about of age with Jiang Yanli if Jiang Cheng had to guess, but he looked kind. He was holding Lan Zhan’s hand very tightly, though judging by the long-suffering look on Lan Zhan’s face it was more for his brother’s sake than his own. He seemed thoughtful and agreeable: he was murmuring quietly, clearly thinking through his answers before responding to whatever questions Lan Zhan had asked.
Only poor A-Xuan, who didn’t have either a big brother or a big sister, was all on his own.
Jiang Cheng tugged on Jiang Yanli’s hand and pointed at him. “You should give him a kiss, too,” he said. His big sister’s kisses were the best, he knew, soft and reassuring, and A-Xuan…well, A-Xuan had enough anxiety already, didn’t he? He could use a kiss. “He’s nice.”
Jiang Yanli made a sound that was almost like it wanted to be a giggle, but she beckoned an unsure-looking A-Xuan over. “It’s all right,” she told him when he hung back. “It’s appropriate, Jin-gongzi. Our mothers are friends.”
Jiang Cheng blinked. “Jin? His name’s Jin Xuan?”
“Jin Zixuan,” Jiang Yanli corrected. “And you should call him Jin-gongzi.”
“A-Xuan is fine,” A-Xuan said meekly. He was staring at Jiang Yanli. “You’re Mistress Jiang? The one who…”
He trailed off, but Jiang Cheng knew what he was going to say, because even though he was young, even he’d heard about the fact that his big sister was going to have to go away one day to marry the Jin sect heir.
He’d cried bitter tears the first time he’d heard it, not wanting her to go at all, not liking the idea of her being anywhere away from him no matter how much his mother told him that it was something that all women did, something that women wanted to do. Angry tears, never far beneath the surface, threatened again now.
But on the other hand…
Poor A-Xuan, who was all alone, with no big brother or sister at all.
Jiang Cheng gathered up his bravery and squeezed his sister’s hand. “It’s okay,” he said encouragingly. “A-Xuan’s really nice, and he needs someone to take care of him. You’ll be all right with him.”
Jiang Yanli actually did start giggling at that. “It’s not something we have to think about right now,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I can take care of both of you.”
Jiang Cheng exhaled in relief. He hadn’t really wanted to give up his jiejie to some stranger – but sharing could be all right.
Nie Huaisang’s da-ge turned out to be just as amazing as Nie Huaisang said he was, which in all honesty Jiang Cheng had not-so-secretly doubted. Nie Mingjue was clever and could answer questions, he was strong and could pick people up, he was indulgent and didn’t mind doing either of those things as many times as asked, and he gave really great hugs.
After a serious conversation among their little group, with many reassurances from A-Xuan that he didn’t mind, really, they reached an agreement and presented their conclusion to their elder siblings: rather than marry A-Xuan, who wasn’t even sure if he liked girls or wanted to marry one, Jiang Yanli ought to marry Nie Mingjue. Not only would they be able to give each other (and all surrounding children) many good hugs and gentle kisses, they would eventually have children since that was what married couples did and those children would undoubtedly be an amalgamation of all of their respective good points, therefore making them the finest of friends to have. Also, if they had them right away – their entire group was a little fuzzy on the details of how that worked, exactly, but surely the big kids had a better idea – the new kids wouldn’t be that much younger than everyone else, so it was important for them to get started immediately.
For some reason, this very serious proposal made the older children laugh nearly to the point of tears.
“And about me?” Lan Xichen asked, ruffling their hair. “If you’re pairing up your elders, does that make me Wen-da-ge’s bride?”
For some reason, that made Wen Chao’s big brother glance over at Lan Xichen and turn bright red, even though it was obvious that Lan Xichen was just joking. Jiang Cheng wondered why.
“It’d be better if A-Xuan had a big sister,” he said, a little regretful. Lan Zhan would be much better off being A-Xuan’s brother-in-law than Wen Chao’s.
“I’m sure he does,” Wen Xu said, looking suddenly rather annoyed. “Hovering at the outskirts, waiting for a chance to get inside. Probably more than one, if that’s to your taste –”
“Have some manners,” Nie Mingjue said sharply to him. “There are children here; they don’t need to hear about that.”
The younger children all exchanged alarmed glances: they must be talking about the doubles! Even the older kids knew about them – that meant they must be real!
“Yes, we do,” Nie Huaisang said insistently. “Tell us about it.”
“No, Nie-da-ge is right,” Jiang Yanli said. “It’s nothing you need to worry about. Why don’t you all go play?”
They were unceremoniously shown the door.
Outside, Nie Huaisang looked uncharacteristically serious. “My da-ge only refuses to tell me things he thinks are inappropriate, or which he thinks will scare me,” he said. “Which means…”
They all nodded grimly.
“A cultivator’s duty is to defeat evil,” Lan Zhan announced, and Jiang Cheng nodded.
“I’m with Lan Zhan,” he said. “Even if we can keep them away with talismans and code words, what about people who don’t have them? They’ll be snatched away! If no one else is going to do something about it, we have to.”
“We do,” Wen Chao said, and that was also uncharacteristic: normally he wasn’t willing to do anything unless they pretended it was his idea first. “We’ve got to.”
“Why is it suddenly so urgent?” A-Xuan asked him. “What’s wrong?”
Wen Chao’s lower lip trembled. “Ever since my brother went away with my dad to help with the war stuff, he’s been acting really different,” he said. “He doesn’t play with me, and he’s always worried – always looking over his shoulder like he thinks someone’s chasing him. He’s angry and upset all the time. It’s not like him at all! I just wonder…”
“They’ve got him,” Jiang Cheng concluded, horrified. “That’s why my big sister and your big brothers are always staying away from him even though they’re usually really nice to most people – that’s why he knows about the others, the ones he says are ‘big sisters’ to A-Xuan! He’s been snatched! He’s a double!”
Wen Chao burst into tears.
A-Xuan patted him on the shoulder.
“We’ll do our best to get your real big brother back for you,” he said solemnly, and Lan Zhan and Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang all nodded and made the hand-signs for swearing a solemn oath.
Wen Chao sniffed. “Thanks,” he said. “You’re my best friends.”
“Of course,” Jiang Cheng said, even though he felt really proud. He’d never been anyone’s best friend before, except maybe Lan Zhan’s, since Nie Huaisang had said he didn’t count. “What are best friends for?”
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DRAWTOBER #27 - Wedding Planner Meng Yao by deuxjolras
A modern AU in which Meng Yao is, well, a wedding planner who takes his job very seriously. Featuring Xiyao, family politics, elaborate schemes, and a reluctant friendship with Wei Ying. The parts are loosely connected and can be read as standalones with more parts possibly still to come.
what can I say... I love modern AUs where Meng Yao gets the chance to be Perceived as the angry feral little man he really is inside, and loved anyway. the fics are pretty much all xiyao-centric, but I wanted to ilustrate this scene, because Zixuan and Huaisang on Monitor Meng Yao Duty whilst Meng Yao DEFINITELY DOES NOT SULK is hilarious. the series is pretty short at the moment, but every part is wonderful, all of them hilarious and heartfelt. 10/10, would recommend.
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Fans for the fandoms! From left to right: Nie Huaisang (The Untamed), Bai Wuchen (Oh My Emperor), Shen Qingqiu (Scum Villain), Beitang Moran (Oh My Emperor), Su Xun Xian (Oh My Emperor) & Wen Kexing (Word of Honor)
My best friend wanted Nie Huaisang’s la fan in some form but couldn’t find it online, so I said, “I could make it for you! And you can have it as a sticker or magnet or something!”
…and then I kept going
Bonus Wind and Water Masters wip (Heaven Official’s Blessing)
(And I have a brand-new Redbubble shop if you see these and are simply overwhelmed by the desire for a sticker or magnet)
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MDZS characters that needed a therapist
1. All of them. All of them needed therapy ✋
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a mdzs version bc why not
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Reareading the novel and damn if jiang cheng is not absolutely insufferable from the start. This type of person that should be avoided at all costs bc they only know to put others down. 🤮🤜 Ex:
Wei Wuxian chewed on the piece of grass and yelled down at them. “He had questions for me, so I answered, he told me to leave, so I left. What else does he want from me?”
Nie Huaisang said, “Old Man Lan really seems like he’s coming down especially harshly on you. Every time he reprimands someone, it’s always you.”
Jiang Cheng grunted. “He deserves it. What kind of answer was that? He can get away with saying that sort of nonsense at home, but he had the nerve to say it to Lan Qiren’s face. He was practically asking for the old man to kill him!” (Chapter 14)
Nie Huaisang barely knows WWX yet he sees and acknowledges that LQR was being unfair towards him meanwhile jc is just happy to be yzy 2.0. Like what the fuck does WWX get away w at home where he’s always punished and singled out for punishment?!!!! Jiang cheng is just a nasty, bitter person. Better an enemy than such a "friend"
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dage, be careful
nie brothers in pink for @qinghe-s
i'm taking requests for a while!
[ID: 8 gifs of nie mingjue and nie huaisang from the untamed and fatal journey. two of the gifs (top left and bottom right) are large gifs, the first showing nie mingjue, and the second showing nie huaisang, both from the chest up, arriving at the banquet in episode 23. nie huaisang holds his fan in front of him. the remaining six gifs are arranged in to two groups of three, stacked on top of each other (top right and bottom left) the first gif on the top right is of the end of fatal journey and shows nie huaisang holding onto a tearful nie mingjue as he looks out at his fallen disciples. the second is a shot of baxia from episode 40. the third is from episode 10, showing the brothers standing outside the unclean realm, facing the wens (off screen) nie mingjue has just thrown baxia, and nie huaisang is praising him. the first gif on the bottom right is of nie huaisang facing nie mingjue, pleading with him after meng yaos banishment in episode 11. the second gif is of nie huaisang ‘s hand as he taps his fan against his palm. the third gif is from fatal journey, a wide shot of nie huasiang relaxing next to nie mingjue and smiling while he shakes his head, as nie mingjue seems upset. all gifs have been edited so that the main colour in each is dark pink/purple. the coloured text in the caption reads “nie brothers in pink for @qinghe-s” End ID.]
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Courtesy of: https://owlinadayswork.tumblr.com/post/666063768302878720/found-this-and-i-think-its-the-perfect-character
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time for some more assorted observations and ideas from my twitter that were too small to get their own posts.
- All his life, Jin Ling has never given a thought about Nie Huaisang beyond “that guy who annoys shushu and shenshen and gives me stupid cute names,” but the first time Nie Huaisang greets him with a blank-faced bow and a polite “Jin-zongzhu” instead of a cheery “Hello, Beastie!” or “Good morning, Monster!”, he finds it aches in his chest a little.
- Lan “I say it to their faces all the time so it’s fine” Jingyi finally mouthing off to someone/something his status can’t protect him from, like an exceptionally powerful and easily-annoyed yao, and paying for it.
- Wei Wuxian vs. Xue Yang with the iconic line from Scream 4: “You forgot the first rule of remakes. Don’t fuck with the original.”
- It’s probably better for Nie Mingjue’s blood pressure that Nie Huaisang’s birdkeeping habits aren’t that well known outside of the sect, ‘cause he’d otherwise be burning a lot more proposals from affection-starved people who saw baby bro with his birds and thought “Gods, I wish he’d pet and praise me like that.”
- Meta I will never get around to writing comparing the necromancy in Mo Dao Zu Shi and Fullmetal Alchemist and how Wei Wuxian’s brand of fighting is very much like Father’s and perhaps people would have been less inclined to think the worst if he had fought more like Hohenheim instead?
- One Braincell Trio as the Sanderson Sisters. Ostensibly Wei Wuxian would be the leader, but God if Jiang Ching doesn’t radiate Winifred’s “I’m surrounded by idiots” aura so well. Singing required.
- IDK how many MDZS fans would have also watched Frasier, but Martin and Daphne’s mutual love of screwing with people is exactly the kind of friend/mentorship I want for Huaisang and Zizhen.
- Because I am still stuck on the donghua making Meng Shi and Nie Huaisang look like each other, imagine the social chaos if Jin Guangshan were to notice.
- Yunmeng Reconciliation version of that scene in Practical Magic with the exorcism broom circle where everyone is exhausted as fuck and the sisters are lying on their stomachs talking out their issues but it's possessed by resentment ghosts!Wei Wuxian in the circle, Jiang Cheng on the other side.
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"If we're lucky, maybe a ghost will get me on this night hunt! Then I'll finally have to no longer deal with all the nagging."
Jiang Cheng's smile falters suddenly and the air gets colder. He retreats away a bit so he's facing Huaisang, blank-faced.
Nie Huaisang blinks, wondering what he said wrong, but Jiang Cheng beats him to it.
"A-Niang stabbed herself when her husband died," Jiang Cheng says casually, and Nie Huaisang's heart skips a beat. "She could have fought longer, taken down more Wens as she went, maybe even escaped. But she didn't, because she didn't see the point in living when her husband had died," Jiang Cheng tilts his head, eyes angry now, dark and devastating. "And you know what they say about me. I am my mother's son."
"Point taken," Nie Huaisang says in a strangled voice when he finally regains control over his mouth and heart. "No dying, got it. Also, your mother was a terrifying and amazing woman. And is it bad that I found that romantic?"
Jiang Cheng shrugs, quicksilver anger gone already and he reaches up and places his hands on Huaisang's face, mapping out the planes of it with his fingers, while Huaisang screams internally. What the fuck. What the fuck. How the fuck is he supposed to reply to any of that. What the fuck.
"You're such a charmer," He says finally, heart slowing down a bit and he takes a deep breath, "Please give me a warning if you're going to flirt with me like that again. My heart won't be able to take it otherwise."
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It's been ages since I've made any blinkies. Here's some Mo Dao Zu Shi blinkies I made, because I'm insane.
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in the full year i’ve been here it somehow went entirely over my head that chief cultivator nie huaisang was word-of-god canon and not like, a fandom headcanon
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Read my Prompt [Here]
Word Length: 4,125
Tags: Time Travel, Canon Divergence, Big Brother Trio/NMJ-LXC-WWX Friendship/Brotherhood, Somebody Lives/Not Everyone Dies, Single Father WWX, Wei WuXian’s Canon Genius, Wen Remnants, WangXian
He knows he’s going to die.
As the first half of the Stygian Tiger Seal shatters, he feels the force of the resentful energy slam directly into his chest. Blood quickly fills his mouth, robbing him of the little bit of breathable air the Burial Mounds allowed him to breathe.
He flies through the air, crashing through several burnt, spindly trees before his back slams right into the stone walls of his cave, shattering with the force of his collision. He feels his spine snap, feels the numbness in his legs afterward. Blood is filling his lungs, wet gasps come out haggardly as he suffocates.
He hears the dead before he feels them.
He knows very well the sharp nails and teeth they bare. The strength in their arms and legs, the abilities he’s nurtured in them for the past three years. They would leave nothing left of him.
Thousands of them clamber onto him at once. His arms and legs begin to be pulled in separate directions, his skin is starting to tear. Spirits pound against his chest and claw at his ribs.
His skin is being peeled off, little by little. His bones are being shattered and consumed. He’s growing cold at an alarming rate, howls of the resentful dead fill his ears.
As his heart is devoured whole, he closes his eyes for the last time.
”Wen Zhuliu, “he feels his lips move, hears himself say, “Do you really think you can protect his dog life from me?”
His eyes open. He’s blinking. Standing before him in a darkened room filled with talismans and flickering lanterns are two people who should have been dead years ago.
Wen Zhuliu is like a wall before him, arm swirling with his foul power. Wen Chao is sniveling on the floor, body rocking and jolting at every second longer he spends staring at him.
“Better to die trying, “he knows he’s heard him say that before
Confusion immediately fills his mind.
‘Is this the afterlife?, ‘he questions himself, ‘am I watching my life unfold?”
If that was so, then why wasn’t his childhood included? Where are his parents, his life at Lotus Pier? His months at the Cloud Recesses? The Archery Competition? The Indoctrination?
He flexed his fingers. Rolls his shoulders. Narrows his eyes. Body parts that should have been consumed whole by his ghost army obey him willingly. Air fills his lungs instead of blood; there is no hole punched into his chest. Resentment sings, curls, and dances around him instead of screeching, piercing, and stabbing into his very soul. He feels the achingly familiar feeling of his empty dantian.
To his left, a ghostly woman in red shimmering silks lounges against his leg, running her sharp nails along his thigh, smirking away at the lacerations she’s run along Wen Zhuliu’s bicep. To his right, a deformed toddler clings to his ankle, crunching away at one of Wen Chao’s severed fingers. Both are swimming in resentment. Both are ready and rearing to kill at his command.
‘This is, ‘he finds himself thinking, 'Five years ago.’
He should be dead, his soul ought to be in tatters. There shouldn’t be a single piece of him that survived the Stygian Tiger Seal’s revenge.
But he was alive. He was alive and in the past.
Everyone else was alive as well.
His heart burns.
Wen Zhuliu gets tired of his silence and charges. He stands still as a stone as he approaches. He knows what happens next.
The roof crashes open, and Wen Chao hollers in shock. Zidian wraps around Wen Zhuliu’s neck and he’s raised up high in the air, a strangling gasp tearing from his throat.
Two people fall into the room, dressed in armor he hasn’t seen in half a decade.
Jiang Cheng looks back to make sure that Wen Zhuliu can’t escape before calling to him, “Wei WuXian!”
For a second, he doesn’t see the teenager in front of him. He sees a young man bearing whip and sword leading an army to his doorstep and gas is poured onto the flames in his heart.
“Wei Ying, “he turns to see the Second Jade of Lan
The Light Bearing Lord is as immaculate as ever. Bright, golden eyes, straight posture, elegant clothing waving in the night air. A part of him is struck by him for the barest of moments before he pulls himself together.
“Lan Zhan, “he breathes
Lan WangJi throws a talisman at him.
Hanguang-jun is glaring at him.
As he stares into molten gold daggers, he can’t help but remember seeing that same expression on the man as his gleaming blue and silver sword tried to destroy his ChenQing. He remembers lithe hands trying to snatch his only defense out of his hands as he battled thousands on his lonesome at Nightless City.
He crumbles the talisman he threw and tosses it into a corner.
Jiang Cheng smacks him in the chest and he has to take a deep breathe and mentally restrain himself so he doesn’t lash out.
“You brat!, “Jiang Cheng hollers, “Where have you been all these months?!”
The sight of his former shidi, eyes narrowed, Sandu in his hand and Zidian crackling behind him, does not bring him joy like it once did. In fact, it makes him sick to his stomach.
“Sect Leader Jiang, “he finds himself saying before turning the Second Jade of Lan, “Lan WangJi.”
Jiang Cheng looks bewildered at his address before scowling again, “Here, take your sword. I’m tired of carrying it around.”
The sword slaps into his hands with a muted thud, the red and white tassel brushing against his hand. Subian is as perfect as she always is, her sheath perfectly polished and gleaming in the lanterns’ lights. He grips ChenQing tighter.
He stares at Subian, feeling both a familiar reunion and a loss, “Thanks., ”he mumbles
“Wei Ying, “Lan WangJi stalks towards him
“What?, “he says almost harshly
The Lan heir doesn’t falter, “You were the one who drew those talismans.”
“Yes, “he answers for the second time in his life
“You killed all those Wen soldiers, “Hanguang-jun demands
“I did, “he answers, because it’s the truth
“Wei Ying, “he already knows what he’s going to say, “This path, there are prices to pay for this sort of power.”
He answers what he knows is true, “I can control it.”
“Wei Ying, “the Lan steps even closer, “There are some things beyond your control.”
He feels a familiar irritation in his chest, but he takes a deep breath before replying, “I know what I’m doing. Do not concern yourself with me.”
He walks past the two, Jiang and Lan eyes widen as he slowly draws Subian from her sheath. The sword feels dead and heavy in his hands, starting to drain at him immediately, but at least the blade is still sharp. He stops in front of Wen Zhuliu. The man flails as he tries to get out of Zidian’s hold.
“You pay your debt to Wen Ruohan by spilling innocent blood, “the man grunts as he pushes Subian against his neck, “You deserve this.”
He slashes and blood sprays across the room. Wen Zhuliu’s arms fall to his side, his body swinging back on forth on the electric noose.
Wen Chao shrieks as loud as a banshee as he approaches, tries to curl in on himself as he looms over him.
“This is your punishment for all your wrongdoings, “the Second Wen heir whimpers, snot dribbling down his face as he raises Subian above his head, “Know, this is my mercy, for I could have done far worse.”
Wen Chao gives a final pathetic cry before he drops his blade, ending him once more. The room is still chillingly still; he can feel both Jiang Cheng’s and Lan WangJi’s eyes drilling into him as he wipes blood on his robes and puts Subian back where she belongs.
“Wei Ying, “Lan WangJi tries to step forward once again
“No, “he says, stuffing ChenQing safely back against his waist, “We will not talk about this.”
Lan WangJi clenches his fists, but says nothing more. Jiang Cheng walks over to Wen Chao’s slumped corpse and gives it a harsh kick; blood stains his boot.
“Pathetic, “Jiang Cheng sneers and rubs the dirt on Wen Chao’s robes
Looking at him out of the corner of his eyes, he says nothing. Rolling his shoulder, he gives a sharp nod to the Red Woman and Ghost Child and they disappear. Walking past Lan WangJi, he heads immediately to the stairs.
He needs fresh air.
The Unclean Realm is as eerie as ever. Guards are lined along the looming stone walks and at every entrance, sabers sharpened and ready to be drawn at a moments notice. Grey clouds cover the sky, an impending storm on its way.
As both Jiang Sect Leader and Second Jade touch down, he cautiously hops to the ground. Brushing non-existent dust from his robes, he observes the area, recognizing faces from a siege that hasn’t occurred yet.
“This way, “Jiang Cheng says and he follows.
Part of the training ground had been turned into a medical area; tents are lined up in the far corners to hold medicines and surgical tools. Injured soldiers laid about, the smell of blood and sweat permeated the air along the the stench of alcohols and medicinal powders.
Tending to an injured Nie disciple was a woman dressed in lilac robes gently wrapping the gash along his arm. He hissed as she lowered the limb and pat his shoulder in encouragement. Reaching down to grab another piece of cloth soaked in medicine, she gave a light hum and as she worked.
“Shijie, “he says involuntary, momentarily shocked at the very sight of of her
The woman freezes; then, turning so slowly he could almost mistake her for a low-level corpse, she looks upon him with widened eyes.
“a-Xian, “Jiang Yanli says, almost in a whisper
For the slightest of seconds, he sees a sword stabbing through her throat.
She hops to her feet, robes hiked up as she runs towards them, “a-Xian! Oh you found him!”
Yanli crashes into him, feeling at his arms and face as she searches for wounds she will not find, but he most definitely still feels.
“Oh a-Xian, “Yanli says with tears in her eyes, “Where have you been?”
He doesn’t answer her, merely stares into her once dead eyes, and that earns him a concerned look.
“a-Xian?, “Yanli places a hand on his cheek
“a-Jie, “Jiang Cheng pulls her hand away, “He’s just being weird.”
Jiang Yanli bites her bottom lip at that; wringing her hands, she looks like she wants to ask more.
“Wei-Xiong!, “a clamor draws the groups attention as Nie Huaisang breaks from the entrance of his clansmen’ rooms hall and runs for the first time in his life
“Wei-Xiong, “the Nie heir appraises him, opening his fan and waving it in his direction, “You’re alive.”
He still does not say a word. The second Nie heir is immediately uncomfortable with his silence.
“Huaisang!, “the sound of the Nie Sect Leader’s deep voice makes everyone else jump, and makes him secretly clench his fists
“Da-ge, “Huaisang looks back, "It’s Wei-Xiong!”
Coming up to the small group with the First Jade of Lan, the Nie Sect Leader raises a brow in his direction, “You found him?”
“Yes, “Jiang Cheng replies giving him a side-eye
The Nie Sect Leader is adorned in forest green silks and gold accented armor plates, a stark contrast to the silver and black of the QingheNie disciples. The Lan Sect Leader himself is a contrast to the countless white and pale blue armors of his sect, dressed in deep dark blue robes with silver armor plates. Seeing them both so ready for battle sends him back to Nightless City for a brief moment. He hears people calling for his head.
“Kill the demon!”
“Make sure he’s dead!”
“Kill the demon!”
“Make sure he’s dead!”
“Young Master Wei, “Lan XiChen gives the him a warm smile, “I’m glad to see you safe.”
“Zewu-jun, “he says tersely
The First Jade of Lan blinks at him, seemingly confused and concerned about his tone. Nie MingJue and Huaisang raise a brow, the younger covering the lower half of his face with his fan.
“Xiongzhang, “Lan WangJi walks over to his brother, but his eyes are firmly on him, “Wei Ying is unwell.”
He knows where this conversation is going to lead, and he still has no intention of going to Gusu.
“Young Master Wei, “Lan XiChen roams over him with his eyes, “Are you in need of medical aid?”
“No, “ he answers firmly
“Wei Ying, “Lan WangJi looks ready to argue with him again
“I’m fine, just a bit tired, “the he grunts and grinds his feet into the stone training ground
Nie MingJue seems to notice he’s on the edge of his courtesy and turns to Jiang Cheng, “The rooms next to yours should be empty.”
“Thank you for the hospitality, Nie Zongzhu, “Jiang Cheng snaps his head to look at him, roughly grabbing at his arm and dragging him away
“I don’t know what your fucking problem is, but you need to get a grip, “Jiang Cheng was practically snarling as he stomped down the hall
“a-Xian, did something happen?, “Jiang Yanli says from behind, struggling to keep up with their pace
He did not reply again, pursing his lips as their footsteps echoed down the hall with every one of their steps.
“Ok, enough!, “Jiang Cheng turns and shakes him harshly, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
He still did not answer, simply blinked as the Jiang Sect leader gripped his arm even harder.
Jiang Cheng, “Are you trying to be difficult on purpose? This isn’t time to be fucking playing around-”
He snatches his arm out of Jiang WanYin’s hold. Taking a step back, he gave a sharp glance to the two Jiang siblings, freezing them in place.
“I’ll be in my room, “he says quietly
Walking around the last remnants of the Jiang Clan, he strode down the stone halls to the room he once resided in at the beginning of the first war. Stepping into the room, he quickly closes the door and locks it so no one will disturb him.
Letting out a harsh breath, he sits down on the firm mattress and lets out a haggard breath and falls back, hair flying all about him. He closes his eyes, and memories dance on the back of his eyelids. A stern woman. A quiet man. A crying child. A charming granny. An alcohol lover. A family...
Clenching his fists, the air of the room seems to leave his lungs and his entire being is set on fire once more.
It takes him a week to get to Yiling.
“I need to speak to Wen Qing, “he says to the two soldiers at the front gate
They eye him suspiciously, no doubt by this time the fate of Wen Chao had reached far and wide within the Wen army. Dressed in black and blood red robes, they were right to be wary of him.
“Where do you hail from?, “the first guard places a hand on his sword’s pommel
“Nowhere, I’m a traveler, “he lies easily, “I wish to speak with Wen Qing about her medical practices.”
They narrow their eyes at him. He nonchalantly places his had against his hip next to ChenQing. He wouldn’t kill them if he didn’t have to, but if they wouldn’t let him pass, he would have to rough them up.
“Young Master Wei?, “the sound of Wen Ning’s voice calms the ever-burning fire in his heart
“Wen Ning, “he smiles up at the man who looks at him in amazement
“Young Master Wei, ‘Wen Ning strides down to him, looking him over hurriedly, ‘You’re alright? You’re ok?”
“I’m fine, “he says, “I just need to talk to you and your sister. It’s very important.”
Wen Ning nods quickly, “Ok. Ok. RIght; come on in. “he waves off the two guards and they release all the tension in their bodies
Wen Ning leads him through the familiar doors and halls of the supervisory office. He can smell the readily made tinctures and boiling pots of whatever concoctions the Wen doctor was making up. A memory of strong paste being forced past his lips has him smirking just the tiniest bit.
“Jiejie, “Wen Ning tentatively pokes his head in the door at the end of the hall, “We have a guest?”
“Guest, “Wen Qing’s stern voice is like cold water on a hot day, “Who is it?”
“It‘s...”Wen Ning looks back at him for moment and he nods and smiles wider, “It’s Young Master Wei.”
There’s a pause then, and he knows that she must be thinking of the last time that they saw one another. Her hand deep inside his dantian pulling out his golden core while he bites down on a towel and clings to Wen Ning for sanity and reassurance.
He pats Wen Ning on the shoulder and pushes them both inside. Wen Qing’s eyes sharpen as she takes him in.
“Wei WuXian, “she says slowly, stepping away from her mixing table
“I have important information to share with you, “he says, sitting down on the floor
Wen Qing raises a brow at him, but says nothing. She’ll listen to him before deciding to act, and he’s only got one shot at this.
“This is going to sound insane, “he knows her methods to his insanity and has no intention of being paralyzed again, “But it’s true.”
Wen Ning stares at him curiously from the doorway, shutting the door and locking it, and then pressing himself against it in case anyone tries to listen in.
He sighs in remembrance.
He takes a huge breath before saying, “We are all going to die in five years.”
They both flinch at that.
Wen Qing frowns, “You-”
“Not just us, “he interrupts her, “But the rest of your family, Granny Wen, Uncle Four, Aunt Biyu, all of your branch will be slaughtered by the sects.”
They’re frozen as he finishes listing off members of their family he should not know of. It’s harsh, the way he says it, but he knows that Wen Qing wouldn’t want him to sugarcoat anything when it comes to her loved ones; she’d want to know everything so that she could come up with the best way to prevent the outcome.
“I had heard rumors that Wen Chao threw you into the Burial Mounds, “Wen Qing says, but he sees in her eyes she’s contemplating what he’s said, “Could it have warped your mind?”
He knows they have no reason to believe him. The Wen Sect had more cultivators than the entire Sunshot Campaign combined. They had more land and resources available to them. They idea of the sun being shot down was improbable if not outright laughable.
“I can prove it to you, “he replies, eyes almost begging
The seven day walk had given him plenty of time to figure out how to handle this situation. Wen Qing wouldn’t believe him without evidence; luckily, he had three years worth of it.
He urges both Wen siblings to sit down, crossing his legs and reaching a hand out to both of them. Bright red arrays form on his palms, and they both pause for a second before grasping his hands tightly.
He feels his mind slip as they both gasp, falling into his mindscape. Landing on an invisible ground, he grabs them both and face them forward.
“Wei WuXian, “Wen Qing snaps, “What are you?”
“Shhh, “he says in lue of answering, “Watch.”
The area in front of them lights up and morphs into a mirror. It shows clear skies first, then singing birds, the waves of waters and gentle lotus blossoms dancing along the renewed lacquers of Lotus Pier.
Then, he emerges, walking along the market place. He feels Wen Ning tense at the sight of him, two years from now, a little older, more weary and wane. He stops at a vendor selling meat buns and scallion pancakes before the sight of a figure huddled in the alley way catches his attention. Buying two buns, he shuffles over to them, about to give them a meal when recognition fills his face.
Wen Qing is draped in brown, tattered robes, dirt caked to her cut up skin, long hair in disarray, a shell of her former self.
“It’s you, “he says in shock
At the sight of him, Wen Qing jumps and grabs on to the hem of his robes. She’s shaking and near tears.
“Wei WuXian, “Wen Qing clings to him, “I know I said that there would be no more debts between us. But please, a-Ning. Please, save a-Ning.”
The scene changes, they see him rushing to Koi Tower on horseback with Wen Qign in toe. Inside Koi Tower - The Flower Banquet- demanding the location of Wen Ning, only for Jin GuangShan to demand his Stygian Tiger Seal in response. He storms out, shifting into an image of pouring rain and tormented Wen refugees. Wen Ning gasps when he spots Granny Wen and many other relatives among them.
“Get to work, Wen-dogs!, “A guards shouts and waves a peony branding iron in the prisoners’ direction
The scene plays on and he feels the horror consume Wen Qing when Wen Ning’s dead body is displayed before her. He narrows his eyes as he watches himself kill the guards and gather everyone onto the horses. They rain drowns out the scene and the Burial Mounds arises out of the dead waters.
They see the years pass. They see the home they built upon bones and ashes, the love they had nurtured towards one another.
They see Wen Ning’s consciousness revived. They see a-Yuan laugh and cry as he grows older. They see Uncle Four perfect his wine. They see Granny Wen craft a new toy for the toddler. They see Wei WuXian and Wen Qing working to make every day a little bit more livable.
They see Jin ZiXuan’s death.
They see Wen Qing and Wen Ning’s departure.
They see him arrive at Nightless City only to see the Wen Siblings ashes get scattered.
They see Jiang Yanli’s death and the havoc he wreaked afterward.
They see him trying to cobble up a plan for three months to save the rest of their family. They see the army marching up their home with sword, arrows, and fire, destroying everything they had worked so hard to create.
They see him destroy the seal.
A corpses hand rips through his chest and the memories shatter into pieces. The floor beneath them brakes and they fall back to consciousness.
As he slips out of the trance, he immediately feels Wen Qing flick his forehead.
“What are you, “he’s about to complain, but she places her hand on the back of his head and pulls him forward
He feels Wen Ning squeezed up against him and realizes she’s hugging them both as tightly as she could, as if they would disappear if she let up even a little bit. He lets himself relax, finally completely safe.
“You are a fool, Wei WuXian, “she’s smiling when she finally releases him
“Should I count this as the first or one thousandth time you’ve called me that?, “he smirks at her
Wen Qing shakes her head before sniffing and putting on her normal face, “So, what do we do now?”
Wei WuXian is missing from the Unclean Realm the next morning.
A quick search of his room revealed that his bed was hardly slept in, and his sword was left on the nightstand.
“He must have slipped out during the changes of the guards, “the Nie disciple on duty says to his disgruntled sect leader
Jiang Yanli cries and Jiang WanYin rages, but there isn’t really anything they can do about it. War waits for no one and neither the Jiang, Nie, or Lan can spare any men to search for the missing head disciple. Days pass as preparations are made; men train rigorously for the oncoming battles, and Lan WangJi worries all the while while deliberating with his brother.
“It could be that his mind is disturbed, “Lan XiChen offers to his little brother, trying to sooth his ever-growing worry, “We can’t be certain what he’s endured during those months he was missing.”
Wei-Xiong, “Nie Huaisang trembles as WangJi sends a helpless look to the floor
Another month passes before Lan WangJi sees Wei WuXian again. Standing at the gates of the Unclean Realm, he looks both the same as he did at the supervisory office, yet an entirely different man. Stern faced and shock-still, he levels himself with Chifeng-zun who’s almost seething in rage at him.
Wei WuXian did not come alone. Behind him seemed to be a never-ending caravan of people. Some carts were piled high with weapons, others with what seemed to be provisions or medical supplies. One cart was filled with what seemed to be hostages, all tied up, blinded, and gagged. There were some cultivators standing around the wagons, swords at the ready.
In three other carts, WangJi spotted what looked to be civilians. There was at least one granny being circled by a young man and woman and another man who looked like he’s toiled for centuries in the fields.
The most important person, however, was standing at Wei WuXian’s side.
Wen Qing stood tall beside Wei WuXian, her sword strapped to her waist, hilt tight in her hand. Her blazing sun robes sent a spark of fury and anxiety through everyone in the vicinity.
“Attack! Wens have barged the front gate!”
-New fic! I’m excited and I hope you all like it!
-In canon, Wei WuXian was able to watch his life on replay over and over and that’s why he’s more calm. In this fic, since it’s immediately after his death, I think he’d be a little more terse with people and getting calmer as the story progresses, don’t ya think?
Read my other Prompts and WIPs [Here]
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I felt like drawing sir Head Shaker himself
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Sangcheng short prompt fics—
1. I’ve missed you kiss
“Tell you what,” Jiang Cheng rambles as he drags them away from Wei Wuxian’s table. “I’m having a banquet tonight; you should come. Eat your fill.”
Huaisang careens after his long strides. “What banquet? It’s my house! Jiang-xiong!”
His back hits the wall with a muted thump.
Jiang Cheng cups the back of his head to keep it from meeting the same fate. When he looks down at Huaisang, his eyes are bright enough to distract from the tear tracks under them.
“Look at you," he murmurs sternly. "One look at your friend and you go back to being a brat, hm?”
Huaisang grins at that because, oh, Jiang Cheng is so happy to have his shixiong back. His barely concealed elation is like day breaking over a three months long night.
Huaisang cups his face, still thrilled at the way Jiang Cheng leans into it. “I missed you too, you know.”
Jiang Cheng finally breaks into a smile of his own. “Yeah?”
Huaisang leans up and kisses him. “Yeah.”
2. Drunk/sloppy kiss
“The best part of studying in Cloud Recesses was…” Wei Wuxian grins. “Leaving to visit Caiyi Town instead!”
Jin Ling groans. “That’s not helpful!”
“It's true though, ask your jiujiu.”
Jiang Cheng stirs from that warm place between sleep and waking, and meets two expectant faces. So he has to participate, does he? Well, Wei Wuxian is not wrong. If not for the trips to Caiyi Town, all Jiang Cheng recalls of his schools days is studying, competing to be the best, and representing his sect as his mother instructed.
However. Stare at a canvas long enough and the details will manifest.
Fishing in clear springs; sharing a basket of loquats; admiring a painted fan; a table in a dim room burdened with liquor & picture books that made him blush.
A hurried escape, a grin. Soft, clumsy lips on his, tasting of Emperor’s Smile and all that was right with the world…
“Don’t listen to him, A-Ling," Jiang Cheng finally replies. "You don’t just find good memories in Caiyi Town like candy, you pay attention and make them.”
As Jin Ling tries to decipher this answer, someone else laughs softly. A painted silk fan stirs the breeze.
3. Giggly kiss
“Nie Huaisang!” Jiang Cheng hisses. “I’m putting you in a leash, and not in a fun way.”
His reply is a giggle from somewhere across the apartment, and Jiang Cheng moves in that direction - quietly because their neighbors sleep at normal hours.
Nie Huaisang is rooting through the fridge when he gets there, slowly and aimlessly through the contents. Jiang Cheng easily hauls him away by the waist.
“A-Cheng, I’m thirsty!”
“Not for iced coffee, you’re not,” Jiang Cheng says. “It’s 2 in the morning.”
Ignoring some more drunken protests, he marches them back to the bathroom, deposits Huaisang on the counter, and closes the door to prevent another escape. “Stay.”
Nie Huaisang gasps. “'m not a dog!”
Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes and peers at the note stuck on the mirror.
Where was he - step 4 of Huaisang’s 10 step skincare routine. Toner. Jiang Cheng pours some on a cotton pad & wipes it across his boyfriend’s face. Jiang Cheng is instinctively methodical about it, and Huaisang quickly goes pliant under the pampering. Good because Jiang Cheng isn’t in the mood for one more shenanigan tonight.
“A-Cheng,” Huaisang squirms. “Your breath tickles.”
“Well, I have to breathe, so deal with it.”
Of course, Huaisang deals with it by trying to kiss him while giggling excessively. Jiang Cheng tries to resist it, but Huaisang wraps his legs around Jiang Cheng's waist, pulls him forward with stupidly deceptive strength...
"You know, the goal is to not be here all night," Jiang Cheng chides, to which Huaisang just tips his head and laughs some more.
“Can't help it, you're so good to me.”
"For wiping your face."
"For caring enough to wipe my face."
Something leaps in Jiang Cheng's chest, surging like a live wire around his spine. Compliments never— He's not very good at— Oh, it doesn't fucking matter, does it? A better man than he would know what to do with the gift of a simple and honest truth like this. Jiang Cheng loses the moment, tosses the toner pad, and checks for the next step in the skincare routine instead. Essence. Which is essence..?
“Tiny green bottle,” Huaisang reminds him. And then, “I love you.”
Jiang Cheng startles from his winding malaise. "O-oh?"
"Love you lots, A-Cheng."
Jiang Cheng sighs and steadies himself in the warmth of the occasion. "I love you, too."
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Nie "all according to keikaku" Huaisang
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NHS indirectly brought WWX back so the latter help with avenging the former's brother, but I also like to believe that at least some part of it also had to do with NHS wanting his old friend back, too.
Re THIS post.
I do believe that NHS appreciated WWX's intelligence. They seemed to have positive interactions in their Cloud Recesses days. NHS appreciates WWX's keen mind, creativity and boldness. When Wei Wuxian is in danger of getting in trouble NHS genuinely seems happy to tell him he's eluded punishment:
“On the second day, Nie HuaiSang came to him with an overjoyed expression, “Wei-xiong, you really struck it lucky. The old man went to our sect’s Discussion Conference last night, so we don’t have classes for a few days!”
vs jiang cheng who always seems to derive schadenfreude at WWX's predicaments:
“Jiang Cheng stood on the side, carefully cleaning his sword, and threw cold water on this notion, “When he comes back, you’re still gonna get your punishment.” (Chapter 16)
Wei Wuxian's opinion:
“In the past, Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang studied together, so there were a few things he could comment about this person. Nie HuaiSang wasn’t an unkind person. It wasn’t that he was not clever, but that his heart was set somewhere else and used his smarts on other areas, such as painting on fans, searching for birds, skipping classes, and catching fish.”
I mean I'd say primarily NHS brought back WWX because he was the best man to handle the resentful energy of NMJ's corpse. Since NHS was in possession of the arm and even that had become impossible to subdue and WWX was the unsurpassed expert on resentful energy it's clear why he would desperately need him. But it doesn't seem like NHS is upset to have his former acquaintance alive again. Anyone as clever as NHS would most likely be intrigued by whatever new innovations Wei Wuxian would be able to come up with- especially since WWX doesn't hoard his genius but shares it for the betterment and safety of others. NHS would probably also appreciate another keen mind like his own and since WWX doesn't lust for power and isn't trying to expose NHS, there doesn't seem to be any source of conflict between them.
I like to think they'll share some Emperor's Smile again someday :) (but that's naturally a head canon)
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Forbidden love pt5 / on AO3
Lan Xichen, to the rescue
Nie Huaisang rose from his bed, and waited for breakfast to be served. It was brought to him by Nie Zonghui, his brother's first disciple, which he took to be a mark of possible return in favour.
At least he took it as such, until Nie Zonghui explained that his brother had actually ordered he no longer be served food until he denounced his accomplices. Nie Zonghui had hidden a plain bun before coming to make that announcement, but warned Nie Huaisang he would do well to make this last, as he wasn't sure when he might bring more.
That was not a problem, Nie Huaisang decided when he was alone, taking a few bites and then hiding what remained. He'd been meaning to practice inedia, which would be great for his cultivation.
Speaking of cultivation, the rest of Nie Huaisang’s routine had to be respected. He meditated for a shichen, with more determination than he'd ever shown in his life. Having done this, Nie Huaisang finally felt perfectly awake, and put some order to his appearance. His hair was starting to be in need of a wash, but it remained manageable. He would have enjoyed a cleaner set of robes, but had been denied that request, and the smell was getting unpleasant. Another strategy to make him denounce his supposed accomplices. Nie Mingjue knew his brother well enough to try and get the truth out of him without laying a finger on him. If he’d truly been a traitor, Nie Huaisang would have turned on everyone else at the end of the first week.
But he had never betrayed his brother, and they were well into his second week of imprisonment now. Things were getting quite dire, but Nie Huaisang kept his calm.
His brother, no matter how unwell he was, would never actually hurt him. He’d had doubts about that sometimes, in those tense few months that they’d gone through. The fact that Nie Mingjue had merely locked him up, instead of killing him on the spot for having defied his orders and left the Unclean Realm, was proof that his brother still loved him. The only problem, then, was to find a way out of this cell so he could play that stupid Lan song to Nie Mingjue before it was too late.
Once he was dressed as well as he could, Nie Huaisang knelt on the floor before his guqin and started practicing. It was much harder to be sure he was doing it right without producing actual music, but he’d played Cleansing so many times in a matter of mere weeks that his mind could hear every note as his fingers moved, and every wrong movement felt like a jolt of electricity.
He practiced most of the morning. Meditated at noon, hoping this would help him ignore his hunger. Practiced again, then hid the guqin when Nie Mingjue came to visit.
Yes, he still denied being a traitor. No, he had no names to give. Yes, he was quite hungry now -and when he said this, something like concern flashed on Nie Mingjue’s face, another reminder that he cared, that perhaps he might even have forgiven betrayal.
Yes, he was stubborn, but he loved his brother, even if Nie Mingjue could not bear to hear it at the moment. That declaration, as always, prompted him to leave Nie Huaisang alone.
Nie Huaisang meditated. Practiced the guqin again. Gave in to hunger, and took another bite of the plain bun Nie Zonghui had given him. Gave in to despair, and spilled a few tears.
He wished he could have sent a message to Lan Xichen. Perhaps Nie Zonghui might have agreed to help, since he was so sympathetic to Nie Huaisang’s situation… but Nie Huaisang knew that his brother’s first disciple was as loyal as himself, and suspected any letter he might send would be handed to Nie Mingjue, and taken as proof of his duplicity. And besides, what could Lan Xichen have done for him? If he’d come asking for his release, Nie Mingjue would have refused. And as for secretly entering the Unclean Realm… even if it was possible, it would be an incredibly dangerous endeavour, and all for what?
Lan Xichen had been foolish enough to take a liking to Nie Huaisang, but he wouldn’t be stupid enough to risk his own life.
Still, whenever Nie Huaisang had allowed himself to dream of being rescued, it had always been Lan Xichen coming to save him. Maybe he was the bigger fool between the two of them.
Tired and depressed, Nie Huisang still decided to practice Cleansing some more. There might be a chance for escape, there might be an occasion… If he could only convince Nie Mingjue to let him have a real guqin, if he could slip out of his cell and go get the one he’d so carefully hidden in his bedroom…
Nie Huaisang played silent notes, praying for a chance to fix things. He became so focused on a melody only he could hear that he forgot to pay attention to the world around, and realised too late that the door of his cell was opening. Seized by panic, Nie Huaisang froze, unable to hide his guqin, unable to do anything by stare fearfully at that door.
In the darkness of that late hour, it was hard at first to recognise the two figures standing in the doorway. All Nie Huaisang saw was that the closest silhouette wore dark colours, and the one just behind it wore white.
But it couldn't be him. It would have been too much of a miracle.
And yet when the man in white came close enough to be seen, when he spoke, no doubt could remain.
"Huaisang," Lan Xichen called, holding a hand toward him. "Let's go, before someone notices."
Nie Huaisang jumped to his feet, and into Lan Xichen's arms, clinging to him as tight as he could.
At last, he was safe again.
Having unceremoniously dropped Wei Wuxian at the house where Lan Wangji and Lan Yuan were hiding, Lan Xichen immediately headed out for the Unclean Realm, trusting Wei Wuxian to deal with explaining the situation on his own.
It did not come entirely as a surprise to Lan Xichen to find that the secret passage he’d been shown long ago was known to others. What was a shock, then, was to go down that tunnel only to meet Nie Zonghui heading out of the Unclean Realm, just as Lan Xichen was heading in.
Shock soon gave way to anger. Aside from Nie Huaisang, Nie Zonghui had to be the person Nie Mingjue trusted most in the world. If that man had betrayed his sect leader, his cousin, his friend…
"So it was you?" Nie Zonghui placidly said. "I thought he'd been in touch with your uncle. It would have made more sense."
One hand on the guard of shuoyue, Lan Xichen hesitated.
"Where are you going?" he asked. "Leaving in secret, in the middle of the night… are you doing something Nie zongzhu would disapprove?"
Nie Zonghui glanced behind at the darkness of the tunnel, and shrugged.
"He doesn't approve of much lately, and he's getting worse. I thought Nie gongzi had been in contact with Lan Qiren, so I thought I'd do the same."
He paused, and looked behind again with a shudder.
"It's getting bad in there. I don't think he has much time left. And I fear he'll take some of us with him when it all ends. Are you here to save Nie gongzi?"
"And Mingjue too, if I can."
"That song, hm?" Nie Zonghui said, unimpressed. "I've heard Nie gongzi practice it. His silencing talismans run out of power faster than he thinks, he'd have been caught ages ago if I didn't give a hand."
"He didn't say you were helping."
"He doesn't know. I didn't want to risk being counted as his accomplice if things went wrong. Can that song really save Mingjue?"
Removing his hand from shuoyue, Lan Xichen gave an hesitant nod.
"If he lets it. I thought if it was played by a person he trusts… but he's suspicious of his brother, isn't he?" Lan Xichen sighed. "I have to save Huaisang. If I can't save both of them, then him at least."
It was a terrible thing to say, and Lan Xichen hoped it would not come to that choice. If he really failed Nie Mingjue that badly… but if a choice was needed, Lan Xichen knew his friend would want his little brother to be safe, even at the cost of his own life.
"I suppose the time for prudence is over," Nie Zonghui sighed. "I'll help you reach him. Come with me, Lan zongzhu."
It might have been a trap, for all Lan Xichen knew. The thought crossed his mind as he followed Nie Zonghui, but Lan Xichen immediately scolded himself for holding such suspicions. He knew Nie Mingjue would not have ordered such a thing, it wasn’t in his nature, and neither was it in Nie Zonghui’s, who was as honest a man as had ever walked the earth. Lan Xichen refused to let the betrayal of one friend make him wary of all others.
Even at such a late hour, it was odd for the Unclean Realm to be so quiet. The illness of its leader seemed to have seeped through the walls and contaminated the entire place, forcing everyone to act with more circonspection than they usually would. Certainly it was to Lan Xichen and Nie Zonghui’s advantage, as they would normally have been by many people, had the Nie disciples not been hiding away from their sect leader’s anger. Still, Lan Xichen did not like it. Part of what he had always enjoyed about visiting the Unclean Realm was how different it felt from his home, the livelier atmosphere, people training and chatting and laughing late into the night. It was not a place made for silence, and silence made it feel dangerous, as if they were once more on the brink of war.
It was a relief when at last, Nie Zonghui stopped in front of a door. That relief was short lived when, the door having been opened, Lan Xichen discovered how the man he loved had been kept. Nie Huaisang was at that moment kneeling on the floor of a room barely large enough for a bed and a table, its walls bare, a single small window providing little light. No distractions were offered to him, not even a book or a sheet of paper. What there was, instead, was a crudely drawn guqin on the floor, its thick lines looking a reddish brown that made Lan Xichen shiver at the thought of what might have been used to draw it.
Nie Huaisang stared at him in disbelief when his eyes fell on Lan Xichen, before jumping into his arms and clinging so tight it was almost painful. Lan Xichen clung back, swearing to himself he would never let go again.
“We have to go,” Nie Zonghui ordered, untouched by their reunion. “Zongzhu often comes to check on his brother, I’d rather not be found by him. I’ll take you out, and…”
“We can’t leave,” Nie Huaisang protested, looking up at Lan Xichen with a pleading expression. “We have to play that song for Da-ge. We have to save him!”
“Gongzi, I fear it’s probably too late for him,” Nie Zonghui retorted. “He’s been getting worse since locking you away. I don’t know if he can still be saved.”
“Da-ge is stronger than that. He can be saved. Xichen, if you tried playing for him… even if he’s angry at you, if you play… maybe it’ll at least buy us time, or calm him down enough for me to try playing for him, and I know he still trusts me. He’d have killed me if he didn’t still trust me. We have to try.”
“It’s too dangerous,” Nie Zonghui insisted, but Lan Xichen hesitated.
These two were probably the people who knew Nie Mingjue the best. His first disciple, and his beloved brother. With one saying it was too late and the other clinging to hope, it was difficult to know who might be right, especially when Nie Huaisang might just have been in denial. The way Nie Mingjue had locked him away did not exactly speak of brotherly love.
And yet if Nie Huaisang wanted to hope, then Lan Xichen would hope with him. Let them be fools together.
“Nie Zonghui, I thank you for your help,” Lan Xichen said, bowing to the man. “Huaisang and I will try to find Da-ge and see if we can help him. I ask that you do not come with us.”
“I have to protect Nie gongzi,” Nie Zonghui retorted.
“I promise I would die before letting any harm come to him,” Lan Xichen replied, only to feel Nie Huaisang’s arms tighten around his waist. “I will do everything in my power to save Da-ge, and to protect Huaisang. And while I know you’d do the same,” he quickly added when Nie Zonghui looked ready to protest, “there must be someone who stays behind in case this goes poorly and Qinghe Nie needs… new leadership. Please, Nie Zonghui, although I am unworthy of asking favours when I am the one who caused this situation, please let me prove my good faith by doing everything in my power to return Da-ge to his senses.”
Nie Zonghui frowned and turned his eyes to Nie Huaisang who, still clinging to Lan Xichen, fiercely shook his head.
“I’m going too,” Nie Huaisang said. “I’m going with Xichen-ge, and we’re going to save Da-ge.”
“You should go to safety,” Nie Zonghui insisted. “You are the next sect leader.”
“I’d be terrible at it. You’re the first disciple, you’re the one who knows how to run things and train people. I leave Qinghe Nie in your hands. For myself, I only care about saving Da-ge, and making sure he doesn’t harm Xichen-ge.”
Nie Zonghui let out a long suffering sigh, but appeared to realise that they were both too stubborn to be argued with. He advised them to be prudent, told them where they were most likely to find Nie Mingjue, and left them to their suicidal plan.
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