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developing zhuizhen goes a little like this:

  • sizhui and jingyi are friends, and zizhen and jingyi are friends, which means a lot of the time they spend together is just zizhen and sizhui pining over jingyi.
  • (dw, a ling fits into the story later. he’s currently busy being a hissing, grumpy, tsundere, much like his uncle, and is too stupid to realize he can make friends w/ ppl.)
  • at first, zizhen & sizhui are friendly acquaintances. sizhui doesn’t know if he’s supposed to like zizhen or not bc…love rivals.
  • meanwhile zizhen is intimated by sizhui bc this is like, the perfect lan disciple, blah blah blah i’m just saying sizhui has a reputation.
  • but sizhui is also very nice & plays pretty music so zizhen thinks he’s cool!
  • honestly zizhen’s standards for friends are like, nonexistent. as long as you’re not mean and haven’t purposefully murdered thousands of ppl, you’re chill. even then, the second standard has exceptions, so… huh.
  • anyways, sizhui isn’t sure how to feel abt zizhen, which is sorta understandable. but it’s not like sizhui can hate zizhen! have you meet zizhen? exactly.
  • so they eventually start talking w/o jingyi as a middleman (i’m not using that term correctly.)
  • maybe they meet at caiyi? somewhere in guys prolly.
  • they don’t talk abt politics much, which is a relief to both of them bc oyzz is plotting to give away the sect heir title and sizhui is tired of the messy cultivation world politics.
  • instead, they talk abt other things like music, baling and gusu respectively, and strangely enough, herbal remedies.
  • zizhen has been v. interested in healing cultivation, and gets really excited when talking abt it to sizhui bc sizhui is actually really attentive & knowledgeable abt this stuff
  • eventually zizhen has an “oh.” moment, as you do when you’re friends with sizhui. istg the only junior disciple who hasn’t had a crush on sizhui (not just the quartet, everyone) is a-qing. maybe. idk.
  • sizhui on the other hand thinks zizhen is sweet & v. cute, but is too useless from having to pine over jingyi for like 10 years to realize he might like other ppl =_=
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Pairing: Lan Sizhui/Ouyang Zizhen (focus), Jin Ling/Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui/Ouyang Zizhen (background)
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 2.6k
Summary: After getting caught spying on Jin Ling and Lan Jingyi, Ouyang Zizhen drags Lan Sizhui on a mad dash through the Cloud Recesses until they wind up alone in the back mountain.

(Poly Junior Quartet, but with this fic focusing on Lan Sizhui/Ouyang Zizhen specifically)

Tags: Polyamory, Poly Junior Quartet (Sizhui/Zizhen focus), Communication, Forehead Kisses, Kissing

Part 3 of ‘Of Forehead Ribbons and Vermilion Marks’

AO3 Link


Lan Sizhui and Zizhen were reprimanded by no less than three senior disciples and one elder as they ran through the Cloud Recesses. Zizhen was deaf to them all, still laughing and tugging Lan Sizhui along as if A-Ling was chasing them for revenge. The lack of cursing and shrieking behind them told Lan Sizhui that Jingyi had managed to hold him back with something more tempting than soothing his pride with revenge, but he let Zizhen pull him along, even knowing he would face a stern lecture and punishment for it later.

He had long since deemed any punishment worth it in pursuit of enjoying to the fullest every moment they visited the Cloud Recesses.

When Zizhen finally came to a stop, he’d led them to the back mountain, to one of the tucked away meditation spots that had fallen from use. It was one of Lan Sizhui’s favourite places, an overgrown clearing well off the main paths, frequented by Hanguang-Jun’s rabbits, but not Hanguang-Jun, and one of the many places he had often hidden away in when he was younger and wanted to be alone. It was one of his favourite places to take Zizhen and listen to him compose poetry to the backdrop of the woods.

“Did you see the way he got up and fell back down?” Zizhen gasped, throwing himself into a sprawl on the ground and clutching his belly as he laughed. “Such grace from Sect Leader Jin!”

“Zizhen,” Lan Sizhui reproached, sitting beside him and shaking his head. “We should not have spied on their intimate moment.”

Zizhen snorted loudly and rolled onto his side, then propped himself up on one elbow to smirk over at him. “You could have stopped me if you really wanted too.”

Heat rushed to Lan Sizhui’s cheeks. Indeed, he could have. They had spent some time determining who was the stronger and more skilled among them, and he had triumphed. He didn’t expect to maintain the position for long. Once A-Ling overcame his impetuousness, Lan Sizhui was sure his unpredictable blend of the Lanling Jin and Yunmeng Jiang styles of fighting would beat them all.

“You wanted to watch them resolve that just as much as I did,” Zizhen added, plucking at the grass and sighing. “They are so interesting with each other. I really never expected them to work alone.”

Lan Sizhui hummed his agreement. He too had feared that Jingyi and A-Ling would not be able to reconcile their differences despite a mutual attraction, but he’d been pleasantly surprised. 

“We each have our own way with each other,” he said diplomatically. And watching A-Ling and Jingyi find that honest intimacy with each other was as breathtaking as their constant bickering was amusing. He could happily watch them together all day and not feel the need to be included.

“Why is Jingyi so sensitive about his forehead ribbon anyway?” Zizhen asked, reaching up to tug on the ends of Lan Sizhui’s. “He took forever to let me touch it too, even after more intimate things. You let us touch yours when we were still only friends.”

“Hm…” Lan Sizhui reached up and unfastened his ribbon, holding the other end in his hand and thinking.

Jingyi often wondered the same thing, that they could both be raised with the Lan Sect rules and yet treat the forehead ribbon so differently. 

Maybe it had been the many lessons on regret that Hanguang-Jun had instilled in Lan Sizhui over the years. He’d always told him to live honestly, not only with others but with himself. That, if there were people he cared for, to not let fear be an impediment to closeness. To know what was right and good and let that shape his actions more than tradition and discipline. 

He’d not really understood much of it until Senior Wei had returned, along with his memories from before he’d come to Gusu. Then it had been abundantly obvious that Hanguang-Jun had been trying to avoid the same fate of loss and regret befalling him.

“The rules may mean for only direct blood family and cultivation partners to touch it, but if I love a person, then they are family to me, in whatever form,” he said, rubbing the end of the ribbon between his fingers. “Why shouldn’t they touch it? Why shouldn’t I want them to touch it? It brings me joy, it brings them joy. That can only be a good thing. There shouldn’t need to be the physical intimacy of cultivation partners to share in this gesture of trust and love. Why should I only feel safe relaxing my self-restraint around one person, and one person only, anyway?”

Zizhen observed him for a moment, then moved, getting a knee either side of his hips until he settled on his lap. Lan Sizhui leaned back reflexively, planting his hands behind him, but when Zizhen’s lips brushed his naked forehead, he froze.

“You should have told me you like this,” Zizhen whispered against his forehead.

Heat flooded Lan Sizhui’s face again, so hot that Zizhen’s hands felt cold when they cupped his cheeks as his lips brushed Lan Sizhui’s forehead again, and again, slow and gentle. 

Even though A-Ling had now kissed his naked forehead many times since the first time, he still could not stop his reaction to it. 

“Your selfless love is so beautiful, Sizhui,” Zizhen whispered, kissing Lan Sizhui’s lips once before pressing their foreheads together and sighing. “You would have been forever content to remain merely friends with the three of us, even desiring more. Even now, you never ask for anything, not even this simple thing.”

Lan Sizhui held his breath. He didn’t think it was selfless at all. As long as he kept them happy, they remained in his life. It was a selfish thing, trying to keep them close. That was all he needed, really. Everything else was just an endless gift.

(Read the rest on AO3)

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This far South, the winters are mild enough that Lan Sizhui rarely gets cold, but today is an exception. He doesn’t really miss it, especially when cold in the Cloud Recesses was treated as an occasion to improve one’s cultivation rather than a reasonable excuse to add another blanket on the bed. Among all the things that have changed for Lan Sizhui since came to live in Baling, this might be his favourite : people here are a lot more practical. 

Well, his second favourite, he corrects, smiling in spite of himself when his eyes drift toward his husband. 

While Lan Sizhui lounges in bed (do not be idle, he can hear his great uncle scold) his husband is still bent over his desk, hard at work. There’s always something to do in a sect of that size, and never enough people for it. Earlier Lan Sizhui himself got roped into helping repair the roof, part of which had collapsed after the unusually heavy snows. It was an interesting experience, and he thinks his father-in-law likes him a little better after seeing him work without a single protest. 

Life here is different, and Lan Sizhui likes it a lot. He’s never minded the rules of Gusu Lan, the calm of the Cloud Recesses, but there’s a sense of community in Baling that suits him better. It reminds him of something he’s mostly forgotten, hard days of his youth that never felt so hard because his family was together. 

He hopes Baling Ouyang will become family as well, someday. For now, though… 

Hard at work still, Ouyang Zizhen lights a new candle when the first runs out, and shivers. This won’t do at all. 

“Your father will scold me if you use too many candles again,” Lan Sizhui notes, refraining a yawn. “He seems to think I keep you up all night. As if we’d need light for that." 

Ouyang Zizhen startles slightly at hearing his voices. He raises his head, looking almost surprised to find Lan Sizhui on their bed. It’s been half a year, he really should be used to it now. 

"I could use candles on that,” Ouyang Zizhen points out with a smile so full of warmth that Lan Sizhui has to look away. “To gaze upon a sleeping beauty in near darkness, to know that you chose to be mine and that no one but me may see you at the hour when night turns to morning…" 

"That will put a dent in our budget,” Lan Sizhui retorts, resisting the impulse to hide his face. He must be blushing so bad. He doesn’t really mind. 

“A worthy expenditure,” his husband insists with such sincerity that Lan Sizhui makes a note to hide the candles, just in case. 

“You’re being ridiculous, Zizhen,” he accuses fondly. “And you’re avoiding the real problem. Put down those letters, it’s too late for work." 

"I promised father I’d look at them,” Ouyang Zizhen sighs, looking a little more serious now. “His eyes aren’t what they used to be." 

It’s something Lan Sizhui only learned when they got engaged, but sect leader Ouyang is much older than he looks. His cultivation has kept him in great shape, but it seems immortality won’t be for him, so of course his only son and many daughters worry and try to help. 

"Ruining your eyes won’t heal his,” Lan Sizhui points out. “Neither will getting sick. It’s freezing, come here before you catch a cold." 

"My cultivation is too high to get a cold,” Ouyang Zizhen grumbles, but he blows on the candle, rises, and walks toward the bed. 

Lan Sizhui watches his husband undress, then lifts the blankets covering him so Ouyang Zizhen can climb in bed and curl up against his side. The blankets are quickly wrapped around them. Lan Sizhui shivers at the cold that came to disturb his comfort, but it’s fine. It’ll soon get warm again and it’s so nice to be like this, just the two of them. 

Lan Sizhui knows some people don’t understand why he left a sect as prestigious as Gusu Lan to come in such a place. He doesn’t understand how he could have made a different choice. 

Life here is so good, so perfect for him, for them. 

Being with Zizhen is really the only choice he could have made. 

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