modern au where lwj doesn’t get to see wwx thruout summer vacation of senior year because he’s off at some internship but when he comes back, wwx is ...... Hot. Like Really Hot. Like Chest Out Voice Deep He Could Pin Me To The Wall Hot. lwj plays sad yearning wangxian on a kazoo
here’s the thing right it’s not like wwx wasn’t hot BEFORE it’s just that he was , um, his titties weren’t out , and he was not pinning lwj to walls with this grin that makes lwj think “kiss me kiss me kiss me” and he was not talking about having , tattoos, maybe ,
anyways so senior year is tame because unlike junior year where he and wwx were studying every night for the sats and killing themselves over 6 ap classes and 2 honors with 9 million extracurriculars, college apps are sent and there’s really nothing more they can do
also, first chair first violin and concertmaster lwj, second chair and stand partner wwx who tries to aggravate lwj by turning pages too slowly, but jokes on you wwx, lwj has the whole piece memorized. no i am not taking any questions or comments
but ofc lqr is still All Over lwj’s ass about studying harder, not letting senioritis get to him, not going to any party because colleges look at your senior year grades to make sure you finish strong wangji are you listening, you cannot see wwx, he’s a terrible influence
lwj: yes uncle
lwj, internally:
a part of him feels like it’s not!! fair that he’s worked so hard for his entire life and studied every night for at least six hours to keep his 4.0 and attend orchestra rehearsals and track practice (because he’s ;) captain) and not let him have any friends bc he’s so busy
and after all that, his uncle isn’t even giving him the chance to enjoy his last year of high school, with wwx. the night before school starts, lwj gets a list of house rules for senior year, foremost of which is: no travelling during spring break. you must study for aps.
the worst part of it is that if lqr had told him earlier at the start of the summer, he wouldn’t have felt this bad. but now wwx has returned and he asked lwj to go with him on a road trip to get out of their small town, have fun and relax for once
“it’ll be so good,” wei wuxian had pleaded. he was holding lan wangji’s hands, looking so attractive and good that it was almost unfair. “i’ll make it good, i promise, just say you’ll go with me? please?”

lan wangji tugged his hands away gently. “i have to ask uncle,” he said.
now he doesn’t even get the chance to ask. he looks over at the rules and it might kill him to say it, but he says, “i understand,” and tells wwx the next day that he can’t go on their spring break trip.
wwx is super fucking crushed obviously but he can tell lwj is even more devastated, so he’s like, “ahhh don’t worry about it! spring break trips are overrated, nothing fun happens on them anyway. maybe i’ll just stay here in town too. madam yu probably wouldn’t even let me go.”
“but it would’ve been fun with you,” says lan wangji, quietly miserable.

there’s nothing wwx can say to that because—it’s true. it would’ve been the best. just the two of them and a car and the night sky sprawling before them, all the best memories that they’ll never make now.
so wwx just gives him a smile, loops their arms together and squeezes his hand before leading them to first period. can’t have lwj be late, after all, and give lqr more reasons to hate wwx
and the truth is lwj has no idea why his uncle hates wwx so much. sure, wwx is loud and wants a tattoo on the back of his shoulder one day and he might have snuck into his parents’ alcohol cabinet once while they were gone, but it’s not like wwx is a bad person.
he pushes lwj to do better in his studies because with wwx around, it’s never a sure thing that lwj will make the top marks in their class, and with wwx around, studying is more fun, more memorable. he makes it easier to breathe.
he doesn’t get it. wwx makes him better, not worse. but he can’t change his uncle’s mind, so he goes along with what he says, quietly hating every bit of distance that he has to put between himself and the person he’s called his friend since freshman year.
and wwx is also devastated, but there’s nothing he can do to change the situation, not if lwj doesn’t want it, so he goes with it and tries to adjust.
they can’t go to each other’s houses anymore but that doesn’t mean they can’t still have lunch together, or sit together during class, or sneak out during free period to get coffee across the street and watch the tension lift off lwj, at least for a little while.
“i’ll treat you to coffee,” he says suddenly, because he wants to see lan wangji smile, or at least look at him, remember wherever he is in a year that in high school, he had someone who cared about him. “whatever you want, lan zhan, my treat.”
but instead lan wangji gives him this hopelessly fond look. “do you even have money on you?

well. shit. wei wuxian tries to subtly pat his pockets.

“,” he says, to which lan wangji nods like he expected this. “but—“

“it is okay. i’ll pay. what do you want?”
and wwx is like gdi lan zhan, but he’s not a quitter and the fact that lwj just expects him to have no money is surprisingly lighting a competitive fire in his bones, so he’s like, “no, hold on, give me five minutes to run to my car and get my wallet, ok, i’ll buy!!! for real!!!”
lan wangji stares at him. “we are ten minutes from campus.”

“yeah, i can cut it down to five, just watch me.” wei wuxian is already tying the sleeves of his jacket tight across his waist, lacing up his shoes. “five minutes!! don’t buy a thing!!”
lwj takes a visceral second to wonder why on earth he’s so in love with wwx when that man is sprinting across the parking lot and failing very badly at parkour, but—

he sighs and settles himself on a nearby seat, folds his hands in his lap, and waits for wwx to return.
why on earth is he in love with wei wuxian. stupid question. he’d never stop answering it.
so the minutes tick by, and lan wangji could play around on the multiple games that wei wuxian installed on his phone to pass the time, but something tells him to keep his eye out the window.
at four minutes and fifty-five seconds, he catches sight of wei wuxian’s bright red hoodie darting through the parking lot, waving furiously. “hey!” he can almost hear wei wuxian shouting. “i got my wallet! i told you it’d only be five minutes!”
lan wangji bites down on his smile and gives a little wave back.
when wwx finally makes it back into the coffee shop, he just collapses over the table lwj’s sitting at, heaving, like almost on the urge of emptying his stomach with how fast he ran and he’s a nationally ranked 100m sprinter, alright, he ran fast.
and he’s like, “what—would you”—heaving gasps—“have done—if i didn’t—oh god i’m dying—didn’t make it back in time?”

lan wangji just blinks at him, because frankly the idea hadn’t even occurred to him that wei wuxian would lie to him, even about the limits of the human body.
“i would’ve waited,” he says eventually.

wei wuxian pries off his body from the table and leans back in the chair, incredulous. “you would’ve—what if i took like, twenty minutes? what if class was starting?”

“i would’ve waited,” lan wangji repeats.
if wei wuxian was late without even telling him, then there would be bigger problems than him being late to class. what if he got hit by a car? what if he got caught up helping someone else?
when lan wangji explains all of this to him, wei wuxian just stares at him like he’s a talking sock puppet. like he’s adorable and strange all at once.

“you are,” wei wuxian begins, before stopping, waving a dismissive hand. “alright, whatever. we should order. my treat!”
“mm,” lan wangji agrees, and then they head back to campus with new drinks in hand.
anyways, high school shenanigans. senior year pranks which involve a pool noodle fight in the courtyard during fourth period, the marching band playing careless whisper in the halls, a very disastrous attempt at a flash mob during lunch, etc
thanksgiving break comes, and wwx spends all of it bombarding lwj’s phone with texts that are all forms of various cries for rescue he can’t make it madam yu is going to kill him and jc is going to spit on his body and jyl will give a nice funeral but he’s going to die pls help
and thanksgiving break means lxc is back from college for some good family time, and there’s absolutely Zero Way he misses how lwj is like—smiling softly at his phone, what on earth is going on??????
and lxc is, above all else, an Older Brother. this means an interrogation.

“wangji,” he says suddenly, and lan wangji startles and immediately shoves his phone into his drawer, and isn’t that interesting, “dinner is ready.”
it takes lan wangji a few seconds to come down from the instinctive fear of a prey animal. “okay,” he says, with this creaky voice. “i will be down in a moment.”

he expects his brother to leave but instead lan xichen—walks in and settles himself on lan wangji’s bed.
the ensuing conversation is a fucking apocalyptic nuclear wasteland.
lxc: so. what’s got you so happy?
lwj, instantly channeling all the existential despair of an eighteen-year-old: i am not happy.
lxc: is that so? mind if i take a look at your phone to see what has you so upset then?
lwj: i can’t.
lxc, already amused: why not?
lwj: this is my private property.
lxc: uncle bought you that property.
lwj, insistent: it is under my name!
lxc: wangji, i love you, and this is why i will give you two options—one, you give me the phone and you will escape this conversation relatively unscathed, or we will go to dinner and you can explain to uncle why we were wrestling like six year olds again. your choice :)
yes im a fan of Obnoxious Older Brother lxc . What About It
anyways lxc is beaming at him and he can’t come up with any way that he can escape this without giving lxc his phone, except immediately faking his death so that lxc will forget about the phone in his grief, but he’s not prepared for that scenario, so.

he hands over the phone.
lxc, maybe a little excited at the fact that his brother has found happiness, maybe in the form of rabbit videos or memes: [unlocks the phone]
the phone:
lwj, defensively: it is an extremely valid question, ge
lxc is on the verge of asking if lwj is like, on the edge of a hysteric mental breakdown which he would totally understand because he’s been there before, and that’s when he notices the contact name reading—
lxc, pieces clicking: ........ah, wei wuxian?
lwj: I Think I Must Leave Now
this is awful. this is terrible. this is the possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to lwj, that lxc knows about lwj’s crush on wwx. he needs to die immediately he cannot go on
[lwj and wwx’s text convo]

wwx: no seriously pls answer the question about the rock im actually really worried google isnt giving me a solid answer
wwx: hello???? lan zhan?????
lwj: Please kill me.
wwx: wh
wwx: HELLO???????????????
lxc, peering over lwj’s shoulder to see wwx call lwj “baby” and “baobei”: wei wuxian, hm
lwj: ge i will give you two options. either you will kill me and relieve me of my suffering, or i will end myself. please choose.
lxc, already laughing: oh my god wangji
anyways the One Good Deed that lxc does for lwj throughout thanksgiving break is asking lqr to reconsider the no spring break thing because lwj is a good kid and he just wants to see his brother have fun for once. grudgingly his uncle says that he’ll consider it
anyways weh weh weh year goes on. they come back from thanksgiving break and lwj is mortified to realize rhat wwx has somehow only gotten hotter and no, he has not stopped taking every reason to pin lwj to walls because “look we’re the same height!!! look!!! are you looking!!”
etc etc end of the semester exams hit and miraculously they scrape by and lwj keeps his 4.0 for yet another semester but !! wow!!!! lqr just says he should keep up the good work!!!! absolutely no further updates about spring break!!!!!
second semester hits. suddenly ppl are up in arms about promposals for prom in may and the entire time lwj is just wildly bewildered because it’s january, why is everyone so worried about something that’s happening in may?????
wwx, a secret slut for prom after watching dozens of high school movies: well it’s kind of romantic don’t you think??
lwj, having watched Zero Of Those Movies: it?
wwx: yeah, like, being asked, and getting ready, the whole thing
lwj: Hm .
wwx: lan zhan come on???
lwj still doesn’t get it but he’s distantly aware that this is something Important to wwx so he puts a note in the back of his head to revisit this at a later date
the year goes on!!! more studying!!! more after school study sessions at the library!!!! etc etc and then: spring break.
it turns out with all of lxc’s friendly reminders to get lwj to have fun for his spring break, lqr still puts lwj in seclusion to study. “you’ve been hanging out too much with wei wuxian,” he’s saying, “and you haven’t been as focused.”
is it true??? possibly. but that still doesn’t change the fact that he’s still doing well in both academics and eztracurriculars as he always has, and that this is wildly unfair.

but there’s only half a year left until he starts college, wherever he goes, and moves out.
he agrees and excuses himself to his room to study.

he tries not to focus on the fact that wwx is on a road trip right now with nie huaisang and jiang cheng, without him.
he tries not to focus on the fact that he is trapped inside this house on what is supposed to be one of the best memories of senior year. he tries not to think about if all this—studying hard, pleasing his uncle, making everyone happy—is worth it.
because a part of him already knows the answer, that no—it’s not. maybe it hasn’t ever been worth it. but it’s too late to change his mind now.

he takes out his phone and texts wei wuxian: i hope you have a good spring break.
wei wuxian sends a heart back. then two, then three, and then a meme of a puppet frog being choked, and another text that reads “me if i could get my hands on your uncle i’d throw down lan zhan just give me the word sweetheart”
lan wangji texts, not necessary. but thank you.

after a moment of hesitation, he sends back a heart too.

he hugs the phone to his chest and goes to sleep.
for the rest of the week, he does what his uncle asks and studies from dawn to sunset, distracting himself by throwing everything into his studies. the only form of solace he gets lies in the texts and pictures that wwx keeps sending, constant phone calls at night.
“i have to be really quiet because i think jiang cheng will kill me if i speak normally,” comes wei wuxian’s whispered voice from the phone. “but how are you doing, lan zhan? honest.”
lan wangji considers it. if he’s being honest: “better,” he says quietly, because his uncle is sleeping too, not a room away, “now that you’ve called.”

“oh, sweetheart,” wei wuxian murmurs, sounding a little helpless. “you should’ve said so. i’d call you every hour.”
“what you’re doing is enough.” it is. “thank you.”

“don’t thank me for being your friend,” says wei wuxian. an inhale before he admits, “it’s the easiest thing i’ve done. you make things better for me too, you know.”

lan wangji feels—winded. “oh.”
as if that earlier punch to the throat wasn’t enough, wei wuxian goes on, “i miss you, lan zhan, god. i miss you so much. i wish you were here.”
“i wish i was there too,” lan wangji confesses softly. he rakes a moment to gather up his courage, because if wei wuxian said the truth, so can he. he fists his blankets, takes a deep breath, and whispers, “i miss you.”
a silence, long enough that lan wangji actually pulls back the phone to see if wei wuxian hung up, and then there’s a sound like muffled wailing.

“ahhhhh,” wei wuxian is crying, “lan zhan, no, give me some warning! some warning!”
he’s a little confused, to say the least. “warning about what?”

“that! what you just said!”

“...that i missed you?”

there’s a sound that feels tugged out of him. “wei ying.”



“what about it,” wei wuxian is wheezing.

a click of his throat as he swallows, and then lan wangji says, “you’ve never called me that before.”
“what? i have.”

lan wangji would’ve remembered. “you haven’t.”

“no, i definitely have. i say that through text all the time, remember? baobei, sweetheart, darling. i can come up with a million more. honey? dear. beloved? take your pick.”
lan wangji might be going through cardiac arrest. possibly. he buries his face into his pillow and mumbles, “all of them are good.”

a crackle of laughter in his ear. “yeah? that so?”


“i’ll keep it in mind then,” says wei wuxian, and then, “baobei.”
lan wangji hides his tiny smile in his pillow. “okay. baobei.”
there’s a worrying noise like a steaming tea kettle, or a fire alarm. “lan zhan, please, oh my god i’m going to die you’ve killed me goodbye i need to slip into a coma for sixteen years FAREWELL.”

lan wangji blinks, maybe a little hurt. “did you not like it?”
“DID I NOT LIKE IT,” wei wuxian is suddenly shouting. “JESUS CHRIST LAN ZHAN.”

then there’s noise in the background of—jiang wanyin, perhaps, yelling something that sounds worryingly like “i’m going to fucking kill you,” and lan wangji begins, “wei ying—“
“lan zhan, sweetheart, listen to me, i loved it, okay, i adore everything you do,” there’s barely time to process this world-shattering revelation that leaves him staring into the dark walls, wide-eyedc before wei wuxian is continuing, “but jiang cheng is going to kill me, so—“

“so good night,” wei wuxian is saying hastily, “sweet dreams, sleep tight, i’ll see you tomorrow okay? JIANG CHENG PUT THE BLEACH DOWN—ANYWAYS GOOD NI—“

a click of the phone as the line disconnects.
lan wangji blinks at his phone. half of him is worried that jiang wanyin finally snapped and really did kill wei wuxian, which would be—problematic, in several ways, and another part of him is lingering on the, “see you tomorrow.”
see you tomorrow, wei wuxian had said. but it’s thursday. he’s not supposed to be back until sunday.

perhaps he was talking about video calling. he puts it out of his mind and goes to sleep.
twelve am on friday night finds lan wangji curled up in bed, eyelids heavy, fingers wrapped around his phone.

wei wuxian still hasn’t called. they’ve been calling religiously almost every night, and if not calling, texting at least dozens of times a day.
he’s already sent four messages, all of which have gone unanswered, and he’s on the verge of calling, no matter the late hour, when something skitters against his window.

he sits up, startled.
when he peers out of his window, there’s no animal attacking the windowpanes, anything that sticks out, and he’s about to lie down again when the sound returns.

his phone lights up and begins buzzing.
“lan zhan,” wei wuxian is saying, breathless into the phone, “lan zhan, you’re awake, right? tell me you are. i mean, you picked up the phone so you have to be, but you’re awake, right?”

it takes him a moment to process the stream of unending sentences. “yes.”
“great! great. lan zhan, do me a favor and look outside.”

another delicate clink against his window.

lan wangji goes, and finds—
“wei ying?” he breathes, because undoubtely the person in the familiar red hoodie waving at him is wei wuxian, two days early. “wei ying, what are you doing here?”

he can almost see the smile on wei wuxian’s face when he replies. “lan zhan, you ever see the movie tangled?”
“i saw it with you,” lan wangji answers, confused.

“well then,” says wei wuxian, with laughter in his voice, “rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair. come down from your tower and let’s go for a ride.”
lan wangji’s heart stops.

three thoughts enter his mind.

one—uncle would be furious; two—i want to see him; three—kiss me, kiss me, please just do it the moment we see each other.
lan wangji takes a shaky breath, and then another.

“lan zhan?” wei wuxian whispers, hesitant now. “i—damn, i shouldn’t have done this. if you just want to go to sleep ‘cause it’s really late, i get it, it’s okay, uh—i’ll just see you tomorrow—“
“wei ying,” lan wangji interrupts. wei wuxian falls silent, and lan wangji gives him a little wave in the window, one he hopes that wei wuxian will see. “i will be out in five minutes.”

“i—“ breathless laughter. “lan zhan, you serious?”

“holy shit,” wei wuxian says, all but cackling now, and god, is lan wangji in love with him, “okay, okay, i’ll see you in five.”

so lan wangji changes out of his pyjamas and into a soft sweater and a pair of straight jeans with folded hems that he’s never worn before, grabs another jacket for wei wuxian in case he gets cold.
gets his keys, his phone, a snack for the road, and creeps out of the door, heart in his throat. his uncle would be furious if he knew, and lan wangji will take every punishment—but in the morning, after he sees wei wuxian.
he finds wei wuxian leaning on an oak tree, hands stuffed into the pocket of his dark sweatpants. it’s hard to tell in the dark, but he looks tired, dark circles, and an absent smile that turns blinding the moment he catches sight of lan wangji.
“lan zhan,” wei wuxian begins, only to burst into soft laughter when lan wangji all but tackles him in a hug. unrefined, but lan wangji doesn’t care, just squeezes tight around wei wuxian’s broad shoulders, lets himself nose into the warmth of wei wuxian’s neck.
“hi to you,” comes wei wuxian’s voice, rumbling through his chest. clear, without any of the static crackles of a phone. perfectly himself. lan wangji feels his arms wrap around lan wangji’s waist, warm. “i missed you too.”
lan wangji just hums. there’s no way to properly express how much relief is filling him at how he gets this: to touch wei wuxian again, feel his steady heartbeats sync up with lan wangji’s, like coming home twice over to a house filled with warmth and light.
they stand there in the dark, hugging under the tree outside lan wangji’s house for who knows how long, and with a gentle stroke of lan wangji’s hair, wei wuxian says, “so i’d hate to cut this short. like really, i would. but i got a car and a road that’s calling our names.”
whatever you want, lan wangji thinks, but he doesn’t say that. instead he inhales, slowly untangles himself from wei wuxian. “okay,” he says. “let’s go.”
they head to wei wuxian’s car, start driving on roads that turn from familiar to the unfamiliar. lan wangji doesn’t ask where they’re going, because he’s drinking in the sight of wei wuxian, here again: his messy ponytail, his long fingers wrapped around the wheel.
the pretty curve of his cheek in the pale moonlight and the orange glow of the streetlights, flickering like an old flame. he looks perfect.

“lan zhan,” says wei wuxian, with a smile, “your eyes are going to dry out if you don’t blink. take a photo, why don’t you.”
he’s aware that wei wuxian is joking, but—it’s basically permission.

quietly, lan wangji takes out his phone, ignoring wei wuxian’s burst of laughter, and captures a photo of wei wuxian caught in the warm flicker of the streetlights. looking like a little sun in the night.
“i didn’t,” wei wuxian says, laughing, before he lets out this snort, “okay, whatever. go wild. we’re here.”
lan wangji glances around, but he’s startled to realize that they’ve pulled up to—their high school. what?

“i took a detour,” wei wuxian explains, before lan wangji can ask. “had to keep the surprise. anyways, i was thinking you, me, the rooftop, and a picnic. yeah?”
the only way to the rooftop is a set of stairs within the school, through a door which is always locked without teacher access. he’s about to tell this to wei wuxian, who really should’ve known, but wei wuxian is grinning at him and—threading their fingers together.
“trust me,” says wei wuxian, and lan wangji just nods, struck speechless.

wei wuxian leads them to the back of the school where there are no cameras, strategic blind spots that lan wangji didn’t even know existed.
“before you start thinking that i’m a delinquent”—lan wangji makes a noise of protest, because mostly he was thinking about pushing wei wuxian against the brick walls and kissing him—“jiang cheng dared me once, to collect all the trash cans and stick ‘em under the bleacher.”
he has a faint memory of that happening sometime in junior year. “that was you?”

“who else?”

they stop right under the awning a few feet up from the top of their heads, with a trash can sitting beside them. lan wangji is starting to understand how this is going to proceed.
“alright,” says wei wuxian, dropping his picnic basket to the ground. he takes out the plastic from within the trash can, flips it, and pats the bottom with a resounding thunk. “here’s how this is going to go. you’ve done pole vaults, yeah?”
it’s mortifying to realize that the corners of his mouth are pulling up in a helpless smile. “wei ying.”

in response, wei wuxian grins at him. “come on, lan zhan, be wild! use that natural athleticism! parkour! parkour!”
he doesn’t think he’ll ever understand wei wuxian’s fascination with parkour, but he’s gazing at lan wangji with this expectant expression, like it’s a given that lan wangji will clear ten feet with nothing but his body and a flipped trash can.

wei wuxian is smiling at him.

with a soft sigh, he lets go of their hands and backs up a few feet, ignoring wei wuxian’s cheering. considers the distance, the angle. mushy ground, meaning he’ll need to reach up for the edge of the awning and pull himself up as he jumps.
a resigned exhale. “this may not go well,” he tells wei wuxian, and then sprints for the wall, runs one, two steps up the bricks, lunges for the awning, and with straining arms, heaves himself up and onto the lowest level of the rooftop.

“OH MY GOD,” comes wei wuxian’s voice.
lan wangji dusts the gravel off his palms and peers over at wei wuxian, who’s—laughing, eyes like the stars.

lan wangji feels his ears burn. “wei ying, come up.”

“okay, but we are not leaving this behind, that was the hottest fucking thing i’ve ever seen in my life,” wei wuxian says, “oh my god. here, catch.”
still lingering on “the hottest thing i’ve ever seen in my life,” lan wangji barely manages to catch the taped-lid basket with fumbling fingers.
“alright,” says wei wuxian. his cheeks are pink, flushed with the night cold. “okay, so obviously i’m not gonna do that whole parkour thing you did, so i’m just gonna—“ he climbs onto the top of the trash can, reaches up.
lan wangji catches his hand, and with a shoulder that’s most certainly going to hate him in the morning, pulls wei wuxian onto the rooftop.
in the aftermath, they’re both panting in the night, breathless. “to be fair,” wei wuxian wheezes, “i thought that would be easier.”

lan wangji can’t help his huff of laughter. “i’m sure.”

they make their way across ladders and half-steps up to the highest point of the rooftop, leaving them a solid three stories above the ground, looking out into the dim glow of their town glittering below them.
wei wuxian’s picnic spread is formidable. cubed cheese, crackers, a vine of ripe green grapes full to bursting.

“if only we had wine,” wei wuxian sighs, and lan wangji says, “wei ying,” and wei wuxian says, “yeah, yeah, i know. maybe next time.”
warmth radiates from the center of lan wangji’s chest and out to his fingers, his toes, until it leaves him feeling—good, all over. “next time,” he agrees quietly.
so they spend the time talking, catching up about what’s happened since they last saw each other. lan wangji explains his days in approximately three minutes, but he listens to wei wuxian, who, even with all the texting and constant updates, still has stories to tell.
and then: wei wuxian stops. trails off halfway into a retelling of nie huaisang getting hit on by a woman who must’ve been in her forties, and—
just for you, wei wuxian said.

lan wangji thinks: if it’s just for me, would you kiss me? if i asked, would you do it?
but saying wei wuxian’s name took all the courage he had, and now he’s scraped hollow, exhausted, still fearful. his heart is going at a million miles, like it’s hurtling itself at the walls, trying to get to a rooftop that’s always out of reach.
lan wangji lets out a breath and leans into wei wuxian’s shoulder. when wei wuxian doesn’t say anything, he reaches for wei wuxian’s hand, threads their fingers together, and presses his face into the soft cotton of wei wuxian’s hoodie.
“you tired, lan zhan?” wei wuxian murmurs. a thumb, stroking across his knuckles. “we can go, if you want.”

“no.” lan wangji breathes in wei wuxian’s scent, like fresh sunlight and the earth after rainfall. “not yet.”

“okay,” says wei wuxian. “whenever you’re ready.”
so spring break passes, and lan wangji stores the memories of that friday night, wills himself to remember it again and again, the way they sat together on that rooftop together, fingers intertwined, every heartbeat telling him that this was it, this was love.
even at different colleges, on opposite sides of the country, it would be love.
they stare at the acceptance letters out on the table. lan wangji for yale. wei wuxian, stanford.

“well,” says wei wuxian in the silence, with awkward laughter, “at least our parents will be happy.”

lan wangji can’t bring himself to speak.
they hadn’t told each other about where they were applying, because—at least for lan wangji—he knew that anywhere wei wuxian wanted to go, he’d go too. and he wouldn’t have cared, truly, but even his brother warned him about following someone to another college.
“you have to do what you want to do,” he said, and lan wangji thought, but what if what i want to do is stay with him?

except he knew how foolish that was. he couldn’t put his future on hold for another person, or stake his dreams of becoming a lawyer for wei wuxian.
but—surely. surely he could’ve applied to stanford too.

“don’t look like that,” wei wuxian’s voice breaks in, bringing him out of his thoughts. he blinks to find wei wuxian looking at him like his own heart is breaking, like he’s trying to keep the pieces together.
“lan zhan,” he says, “it’s not the end. we’ll visit. call every day. every vacation we get, we’ll fly home, meet in the middle, yeah? it’ll be just like spring break again.”

lan wangji’s throat closes up at the mention of spring break.
five days he spent without wei wuxian, each of them awful and wretched. how is he supposed to deal with that for a whole semester?

but he swallows it down. reaches for wei wuxian’s hand, who gives it to him easy. “okay,” he says. “every day.”

“every day,” wei wuxian promises.
april comes and goes. ap exams hit, and they get through it like a gladiator fight they’re only mildly prepared for, knowing that at the end, lies freedom.
on the last day of ap week, lan wangji waits outside the gymnasium, finished with his ap european history exam. inside is the ap physics c exam, and the proctors must’ve been slow to start or something. it’s already been five minutes since he arrived.
the abrupt burst of chatter startles him out of his reverie, and he glances up to find the gymansium doors swinging open. all the relief of the students piling outside into the hall palpable, like—stress sweat.

lan wangji understands. ap week.
“lan zhan!” a familiar voice calls out, and lan wangji turns, already knowing who it is, because only one person in this entire world calls him lan zhan. he finds wei wuxian weaving through the crowd, calculator and no. 2 pencil in hand.
“hey,” wei wuxian says, beaming. he shifts his test materials to his other hand before he grabs lan wangji’s hand, dragging him out of the hall. “so, ap week, huh. how’d your ap euro test go?”

“well enough.”

“oh, confident, are we!”
“mm. how was yours?”

wei wuxian turns a smile on him that’s so blinding he feels his knees go weak, for a second. “ahhh,” he sighs, “it was an ordeal, and the second free response question definitely kicked my ass, but!” a vigorous hand wave. “whatever! i’m free!”
“you’re free,” lan wangji agrees. then, “where are we going?”

“depends,” says wei wuxian. “does your uncle know that school lets us out early after our exams?”

ah, of course. “no.”

”sooooo,” wei wuxian begins, and lan wangji lets out a soft but indulgent sigh, “soooo—“
“a movie?” lan wangji asks. wei wuxian’s grin widens, and lan wangji takes a second to—memorize it, maybe, before he considers the other options. “or food?”

“food first,” wei wuxian decides. “my stomach is about to grow another stomach.”

they’re on their way to the parking lot, wei wuxian twirling his car keys in his other hand absently, and then suddenly he blurts, “mind if i drive?”

lan wangji blinks. “okay?”
“excellent!” wei wuxian starts walking so fast that lan wangji has to skip a little to catch up with him, their hands swinging between them. “yeah, okay, cool, cool, cool! but uh, do me a favor and don’t look in the trunk.”
curious, since he had no intentions of doing so. “why would i look in the trunk?”

wei wuxian opens the passenger door for him which is—sweet, and lan wangji might melt a little when wei wuxian lets out a burst of nervous laughter. “yes,” he says, “of course, why would you look.”
lan wangji eyes him as he makes his way to the driver’s seat, buckling in, drumming his fingers on the wheel.

odd. their tests are over. what on earth does wei wuxian have to be nervous about?
“okay,” wei wuxian half-shouts. “right! whoo! here’s the plan!”

“the plan,” lan wangji echoes.

“yeah, the plan! we’re gonna hit up the costco, buy whatever junk food and, like—spinach dip, yeah, right, and chips, and—food? other food!”
perhaps it’s the post-exam hysteria. lan xichen had warned him about it. “of course.”

“and then,” wei wuxian goes on, sounding like he’s barely hearing himself, “we’ll go to the park!”

it’s the first time he’s heard of a park in their small town. “a park?”
“yeah,” says wei wuxian, nodding so furiously that lan wangji is concerned his head will fly off, “a park. it’ll be cool! we can fatten ducks, it’ll be great.”

“okay,” says lan wangji, and then, because wei wuxian seems to need whatever reassurance he can get, “i trust you.”
silence. or at least lan wangji thinks it’s silence, up until he catches the faint whistle of wei wuxian wheezing out a breath.

deeply concerning. “wei ying, are you okay?”

“hhhhhhhhhhhhhrrrrffff,” wei wuxian garbles out, and in a rush, “yeah, cool, cool, ‘m fine! i’m cool!”
“you are,” lan wangji agrees, and wei wuxian makes that—noise again. maybe distraction is a better tactic. “wei ying, we should go.”

“yeah,” wei wuxian chokes out, fumbling to start the engine, “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
it’s as if something has possessed wei wuxian’s body sometime during the drive.
he speeds through costco like an aggrieved mother during black friday, stopping every so often to pick up an item and demand, “do you want this?” and lan wangji won’t even have time to open his mouth before he’s tossing it into the cart, sense of budgeting vanished.
lan wangji stops him at the fifth bag of chips that lan wangji certainly won’t have the stomach to eat, putting a hand to his wrist. “wei ying,” he says quietly, feeling wei wuxian’s nervous bouncing still, “whatever is bothering you, you can tell me.”
wei wuxian’s mouth parts. red, like the center of a freshly split watermelon.

“wei ying,” lan wangji says again. “it is okay. if you don’t want to eat, we don’t have to eat. we can go home, or we can sit in the car and talk. anything you want.”
abruptly wei wuxian’s weight sags into him as he buries his face into the collar of lan wangji’s white blouse. “lan zhan,” he says, quietly miserable, “i’m fucking this up.”

“no, you’re not,” lan wangji responds, even though he has—frankly—no idea what he’s referring to.
“i am,” wei wuxian insists, voice muffled. “listen, it was going to be so good, it was going to top mianmian’s promposal last week, and it was gonna be, like—romantic, okay, like a scavenger hunt and a picnic, and these little clues across town—“

“—and i would’ve held your hand throughout it all,” wei wuxian goes on, paying absolutely no mind to the way lan wangji is spiraling, “and it would’ve been cute and maybe you would’ve kissed my cheek at the end, and like, hugged me, you know, the way you do—“
“the way i do,” lan wangji repeats, dumbly.

“—and there would’ve been a bunch of pictures,” wei wuxian is wailing now, “and polaroids for you to stick on your dorm wall to remember me, and i made a poster, okay, and i went to this craft store! okay! a craft store!”
the pieces are adding up, one by one, as bewildering as each of them are. but it’s—if he’s right—if he’s making sense of what wei wuxian might be saying—

“i asked this lady to point me to the glitter!” wei wuxian is howling now. “and she glared at me! glared, lan zhan!”
“i’m sorry,” lan wangji says automatically. “that sounds hard.”
“it was hard! i was already panicking about giving you the perfect promposal, okay, i got your favorite flavor of ice cream and i texted nie huaisang before my physics exam to make sure none of it was melting in the cooler in my trunk but he didn’t reply!”
“ah,” lan wangji says, his mind repeating the words, ‘giving you the perfect promposal. the perfect promposal. the perfect promposal.’
“and it doesn’t even matter if the ice cream’s melted,” wei wuxian says, “because i am yelling into your chest and i didn’t even get to see you smile as we feed ducks, and this whole thing is ruined, lan zhan, we’re standing in a costco, and i am ruining this!”
“you are not,” says lan wangji, because it’s true; whatever wei wuxian does could never be ruined. he lifts his hands from wei wuxian’s waist to the sides of his face, gently tugging. “wei ying.”

“don’t look at me,” wei wuxian mumbles. “i’m hideous.”
“you are not.”

“okay, i’m not, but i’m a mess.”

“you’re not that either.”
“lan zhan, stop being so nice to me when you’re not even going to say yes,” wei wuxian says, finally lifting his face from lan wangji’s chest. he doesn’t look like he’s on the verge of tears, but his face is twisted with misery in a way that lan wangji has never seen before.
“i can’t say yes when you haven’t asked me anything,” lan wangji points out.

wei wuxian heaves a great sigh. “fine, i’ll ask only to get rejected. never thought you were so cruel, lan-er-gege.”
when moments pass without wei wuxian saying anything else, lan wangji bites down on the smile that’s threatening to give him away and prods, “wei ying?”
“lan zhan.” a dramatic sigh, as if he’s walking to his execution and is greeting the man who will be swinging the axe. “will you go to prom with me.”

“wei ying,” says lan wangji, just as seriously, “i will go to prom with you.”
wei wuxian sighs again, and lan wangji gives it a moment. one. two.

“wait,” says wei wuxian, realization dawning on his face, “wait, what? no. what? are you serious?”

“did you think i would say no?”

“MAYBE,” wei wuxian half-yells, or yells. “I’M A MESS, YOU KNOW.”
lan wangji presses the curve of his smile into wei wuxian’s cheek before he pulls back, ears burning. “maybe,” he agrees. “a mess i want to go prom with.”
“even if i didn’t give you an actual promposal,” wei wuxian says, as if he’s testing lan wangji.

this is a test he doesn’t need to study for. “yes.”

“even if i asked you at costco.”


“and even if—“ a quiet inhale. “even if i said i liked you?”
shockingly this revelation doesn’t make lan wangji pass out, or die. somehow he manages to swallow and say, “even then.”

a rush of breath. “oh,” says wei wuxian.

but a part of lan wangji knows that it’s not enough to leave it at that. so.

“wei ying,” he begins, tucking in a wayward strand of hair behind wei wuxian’s ear, letting his thumb linger on the lobe, “it’s okay because i like you too. so—even then.”

“oh,” says wei wuxian again, this time more choked. “oh. okay. cool.”
lan wangji hums. more than the relief of being post-exams, the fact that he’s finally said it aloud—the truth, that he likes wei wuxian—it leaves him feeling light and floating, like two seconds away from flying. if there was a pole vault, he thinks he could clear ten feet, easy.
“okay,” says wei wuxian, with a laugh that sounds surprised out of him. “okay, so we’re—yeah?”

“yes,” says lan wangji, and presses another kiss to wei wuxian’s cheek.
so they go to prom and it’s great, wei wuxian pins a little genitian to the jacket of lan wangji’s white suit—“i know it’s your favorite,” he explains—and somehow, even with wei wuxian’s constant rambling about it, it manages to be better than lan wangji could’ve imagined.
wei wuxian tugs him out of their dinner seats at every other song, being all, “oh, i like this one! dance with me, lan zhan, come on, hold my hand and it’ll be great,” and lan wangji goes because—
well, he’s in love with wei wuxian, and with graduation only a few weeks away, he’s not going to deny wei wuxian anything. not now.
they hold hands for what seems like the entire night, and at the end of it, at the last song, some crooning ballad with soft piano and quiet vocals, they’re swaying in the dim light, holding each other.
wei wuxian’s head is pillowed on lan wangji’s shoulder, and he looks so handsome that it almost hurts to look at him.
his half-ponytail with the strands pulled away from his face, tied with a long red ribbon that matches his suit, the broad planes of him, slotting perfect in lan wangji’s arms.

“lan zhan,” wei wuxian mumbles, like he’s halfway to sleep. “every day.”
“every day,” lan wangji promises, knowing exactly what wei wuxian is talking about, and kisses the top of wei wuxian’s ear.
graduation comes. graduation goes. they spend the summer together, and even lan wangji’s uncle doesn’t stop them from seeing each other.
at every chance lan wangji gets, he’s at wei wuxian’s house, curling into wei wuxian’s side, holding his hand, listening to the sound of his laughter so he can have it memorized. taking polaroids for his dorm room, photos filling up all the memory space on lan wangji’s phone.
“so you don’t forget me,” wei wuxian says, and lan wangji looks at him, kisses him long and sweet and good, and thinks, how could i ever forget you?
but the summer ends, like all things do, and wei wuxian is the first to go, wailing as he peppers kisses all over lan wangji’s face, clinging to his waist.
“WEI WUXIAN,” jiang wanyin is shouting, “YOUR FUCKING PLANE? HELLO?”

“YOU’LL HAVE TO KILL ME,” wei wuxian howls, face still buried in lan wangji’s chest.


lan wangji knows that if he doesn’t let go first, wei wuxian likely never will. he strokes through the tangled strands of wei wuxian’s hair and pulls him into a kiss, before he murmurs against wei wuxian’s mouth, “you have to go.”
wei wuxian breaks away and hides his face in the crook of lan wangji’s neck. “you’re making it hard.”

“i know.”

“why don’t you come with me. just—abandon everything, become a nomad, but like, a nomad that’ll hide in my dorm room and have sex with me all day. hm?”
it sounds like an excellent life, and it is incredibly unfortunate that lan wangji knows he can’t have it. “wei ying.”

“i know, i know.” another kiss, and then wei wuxian’s cradling lan wangji’s face in his hands, looking at him like he’s precious. “‘m gonna miss you, baobei.”
“i will miss you too,” says lan wangji, and gives him another kiss before he turns wei wuxian away, giving him a gentle nudge towards his car. “go. i will text you when you land.”

“text me as i leave,” wei wuxian corrects, with a sad smile. “okay? bombard my phone.”
it’s like wei wuxian is prying open his chest and taking his heart with him. “okay,” says lan wangji. “i will.”
and time passes. they text each other every day as planned, minutes on their phone bills racking up with every hour they spend talking.

“madam yu’s gonna kill me one day, i’m sure,” wei wuxian’s voice is saying as lan wangji unpacks his suitcase, “but like, worth it.”
the first semester flies by, and throughout all the stress of adjusting to his newfound independence, his eight am class about the history of russian foreign policy, and the new concept of budgeting for food and living costs, they keep contact.
some days aren’t as steady as others—wei wuxian is apparently losing concept of time while he’s stuck in the computer lab day in and day out coding, and lan wangji is dropping by almost every office hour to ask questions about lectures, keep his grades as high as possible.
even across the country lan wangji can tell that the stress of being alone in a new state, surrounded by thousands of people he doesn’t know, with professors who pile on assignments fit for a third-year on him—it’s getting to wei wuxian, too.
“i just wish you were here,” wei wuxian whispers to him one day, before he laughs. “ah, but that’s—nah. it’s fine. i’m exaggerating.”

“wei ying,” lan wangji starts, but wei wuxian cuts him off, says, “don’t worry! i’m okay, really. i swear.”
lan wangji makes a doubtful noise, but—wei wuxian knows himself better than lan wangji does. he’s seen wei wuxian handle worse and come out superior.

“if you say so,” lan wangji says finally, “but—wei ying. if there is anything i can do, let me know.”
a pause. “even if that’s flying to california to see me?”

lan wangji blinks. that’s. “perhaps during break,” he says, tentative, already making plans to email his uncle about visiting graduate schools on the west coast.
“during break,” says wei wuxian, and then laughs. “yeah, yeah, of course.”
as hard as they try, though, it turns out to be impossible to keep up the promise of every day.
wei wuxian’s old phone starts to go dead every other day, battery draining too quick, and in november, lan qiren threatens to cut lan wangji’s phone plan entirely if he continues racking up the minutes and texts on the bill.
“you should be studying,” lan qiren bites out, “not focusing on dating.”

in december, two weeks before winter break, lan wangji sends wei wuxian a text.

two more weeks, it reads.

three days later: two more weeks, comes wei wuxian’s reply.
the two weeks pass. lan wangji comes out the other end of exam week a little worse for wear with a newfound dread for written exams, but he flies home, every heartbeat feeling like it’s calling out wei wuxian’s name.
except wei wuxian doesn’t come home.

on the fourth day of no contact with wei wuxian, lan wangji drops by the jiangs’ house, and wei wuxian’s brother comes out, with a look of exhausted—fury on his face.
“you’re here for wei wuxian,” says jiang wanyin, before lan wangji can speak. “well, tough luck. he’s not fucking here.”

dread begins to crawl through him. “where is he?” lan wangji asks.
jiang wanyin doesn’t reply. his jaw goes tight. “i don’t know,” he grits out after a moment.


“what do you mean, you don’t know,” lan wangji says, disbelieving.
“i thought you would know,” jiang wanyin snaps. “because none of us sure as hell do! you know he stopped taking my parents’ tuition money? said he’d gotten a scholarship, and then the next day, he fucking—told them to take him off the phone plan too—“
lan wangji stares, none of the words registering.

“—and we tried calling,” jiang wanyin goes on, “but no fucking answer, big surprise, he never fucking answers, and he was supposed to get here four days ago—“

the same day lan wangji arrived.
“but he isn’t here,” jiang wanyin finishes, with an ugly twist of his face. “and he didn’t even tell us why, just said he couldn’t make it and he’s sorry. sorry!” jiang wanyin spits. “like that makes a fucking difference!”

something in lan wangji goes cold and stiff.
you promised, he thinks, distant, desperate. you promised we’d never forget each other—

“whatever,” jiang wanyin sighs after a moment. “i don’t care. it’s wei wuxian. always does what he wants anyway. is that all?”
lan wangji’s mouth is dry, but somehow he manages to make it say, “if wei ying contacts you—“

“yeah,” says jiang wanyin, with a tired wave of his hand, “yeah, i’ll keep you updated.”
in december, wei wuxian stops picking up lan wangji’s calls. he doesn’t respond to lan wangji’s messages, either, and at the end of break, when lan wangji is in the airport, tired, confused, lost, he receives two last messages:

one—i’m sorry.

two—thank you.
after that, wei wuxian’s number deactivates. it’s the last he hears of wei wuxian for seven years.
part 1 — end.
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