thinking of a childhood friends to lovers wangxian au where wwx is taller than lwj at 15 and thinks he'll never catch up so he keeps making fun of him, "lan zhan, when you become taller than me, i'll marry you! how's that?" but lwj, who has a fat crush on him, takes it seriously.
just teen gremlin wwx measuring them, getting on his tiptoes so he'll be even taller, putting his hand above lwj's head and bursting into laughter at the look of irritation in lwj's face as he glares at him and says "are you done?" which makes wwx laugh harder! he's so cute!
one day lan zhan gets so fed up with him he pushes him away, huffing angrily and wwx pouts, lowering his body so he'll be at lan zhan's height — which makes lwj's eyes widen; the audacity! — and says "aiyah, lan zhan! don't be like that, i'm sure you'll catch up eventually!"
he's not. he actually hopes lan zhan will forever be shorter than him so he'll always have that in his favor. teasing lan zhan, getting new reactions out of him never becomes tiring! wwx could spend his whole life cataloguing lan zhan's different expressions.

(huh... weird)
anyway! he's only bluffing so lan zhan won't be too mad. it kinda works! lwj raises an eyebrow at him, skeptical, "is that so?"

wwx nods frantically, waving his hands, "of course i do! here, if you get taller than me i'll..." he looks around, trying to think of something.
what could he promise lan zhan that he will /not/ have to do — since he's never gonna grown taller, pff, they're already in puberty! lan zhan should have hit his growth spurt by now! — and that will sound so absurd to his childhood friend that he won't want it either way?
if they were in a cartoon, a light bulb would brighten above his head. of course!

"i'll— i'll marry you!" he blurts out, laughing awkwardly because his heart just skipped a beat. thank god no one is here to see him making such a stupid joke! they're alone in lan zhan's room.
lwj recoils like he's been slapped, "what?"

wwx nods, smiling widely. yep, no going back now. "that's it! if you grow taller than me, i'll marry you! haha, i mean, anyone who marries lan zhan will be lucky! you're handsome, smart and will make a great husband!" he says quickly.
he's not lying but it feels weird saying that now after having... /promised/ himself to lan zhan, whose golden eyes are staring at him in awe, the tips of his ears burning red. lwj parts his lips to answer and wwx forces himself not to break eye contact. it's fine, no big deal.
lan zhan would never agree to such a childish arrangement, he's gonna call wwx boring or shameless anytime now. there's no need to worry because—

"alright." lwj says but his face doesn't show anything so wwx blinks, astounded.

"ah, i see... wait, what?" he asks, surprised.
lwj looks straight into his eyes and says, "if i become taller than you, you will marry me." he sounds determined as though he's certain that it will come true and wwx feels a bead of sweat dabbing across his forehead but he brought this on to himself, right?

"okay." he says.
naturally it stays at that. they don't talk about it for the next months and lwj doesn't seem to be growing taller to wwx's relief until one day, they sadly have to part because lwj is moving.

wwx is so sad! how can he part from his childhood friend, his lan zhan, his soulmate?
lwj becomes busy with the moving preparations so they can't meet up as often either. wwx is unconsolable, he fills lwj's message chat with sad faces and broken hearts daily about it.

"lan zhan!! how can you leave me like this? who will be the mario to my luigi? 😭😔🥺💔"
(he's talking about mario kart. they used to play it every day after school. who'll play with wwx now? jc is such a sore loser! he doesn't speak to his older brother for days if wwx wins against him!)
on the eve of lwj's departure, wwx sleeps over at his house and lwj makes an exception for him, forgetting his bedtime and staying up the whole night so their time together doesn't have to come to and end to early. wwx is moved to tears by that and hugs him tightly, crying.
lwj is still shorter than him but when he guides wwx's head to rest on his chest and cards his fingers through his hair wwx feels incredibly small. he almost considers locking lan zhan up in his home or suggesting they run away together but they're 15 and naive, it wouldn't work.
he sighs and buries his face in the crook of lan zhan's neck, his nose filled with the calming scent of sandalwood, longing tugs at his heartstrings, "i don't want to lose you." he whispers.

lwj hears it anyway, "you won't. i will come back." he promises.

wwx sniffles quietly.
"how long will that take? what if you change? what if /i/ change? what if we're no longer the same people we used to be and things are awkward between us?" his voice comes out a little muffled.

lwj takes a moment to process his words and says, "things are... unpredictable."
"we're not. it's impossible to step into the same river twice for it's not the same river and you're not the same person." wwx recognizes the quote from heraclitus, a greek philosopher.

lan zhan likes philosophy. he likes to borrow their words when he doesn't know what to say.
(it's another thing wwx loves about him)
"we're not the same people we were yesterday and we will continue to change." he says, "but..." wwx's ears perk up, lan zhan doesn't pause between sentences.

he raises his head to look at him and meets glassy golden eyes that take his breath away immediately, "lan zhan...?"
// quick break because i have to eat lunch, i hate to leave it at a cliffhanger but i will be back!! thanks for reading! 🥺 //
lwj reaches out to cup wwx's face in one of his hands and wwx's cheek grow warm under his palm. his touch is light as a feather but it tingles and somehow it feels strangely intimate in a way that makes wwx swallow nervously. he keeps his mouth shut, unsure about what to say.
lwj's expression softens, "wei ying, i will never forget you." he says, his lips quirking up in a lan-zhan-is-fond smile, wwx knows it well. he's never seen lan zhan smile at anyone else like that, it makes him feel funny. he places his hand on top of lwj's — still on his face.
though before he can crack a joke to lighten up the mood, lwj's grin becomes playful and he teases, "you still have to marry me, after all."

wwx gasps, warmth blooming in his chest like a flower basking in the sun on spring, "lan zhan!" he laughs. "only if you become taller!"
"i will." lwj retorts, huffing and wwx rolls his eyes teasingly, brushing him off before lying back against his chest and releasing the breath he didn't know he was holding.

it'll be okay, they won't lose this, lan zhan promised. a friendship like theirs doesn't end like that.
that's what wwx tells himself when he waves goodbye to lan zhan at the airport before he leaves for gusu. jc nudges him when he looks like he's going to start crying, giving him a look that says "it won't be forever, you know?" and wwx nods, thankful, ruffling his hair.
his group of friend start walking away but he stays until the plane has crossed the sky, taking lan zhan away from him for who knows how long.

then he slips his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and thinks about the way lwj got on his tiptoes to hug him when they parted.
(he tries not to think of it as the last time they will hug like that when he jogs to catch up with his friends, leaving the airport)
[fast forward to two years later... four years later... so much later that the old narrator got tired of waiting and we had to hire a new one! ⏳]
present wei ying is now 21 and lan zhan was right, he did change! he discovered new things about himself, like the fact that he can play the flute or that he's not the compulsory heterosexual he always thought he was. in fact, he's bisexual, has always been (which explains a LOT)
[this is for you, told you i would do it @logbridgelady]

on the day he found out, he was so relieved, happy and proud that almost every sentence that came out of his mouth ended with some form of "i'm bi":

"good morning, wei ying!" nhs said once when they met at college.
"morning, huaisang, i'm bi!" he replied, walking past him, making finger guns.

when he was having lunch with his siblings later, jc said "wei ying, pass me the salt." and wwx did, smiling so wide his cheeks hurt.

"here you go, a-cheng, i'm bisexual, you know?"
jc shot him an unimpressed look as though he was saying "no shit sherlock" but otherwise didn't comment (he was secretly happy wei ying was figuring himself out, it's the first time he saw him this cheerful since he and lwj lost contact a year ago)
even a random passerby asking for information to get to the nearest bookstore got a "it's that way, just go straight and turn right! also, i'm bi!" as his answer.

so yeah, he was doing well!
mostly. missing lan zhan? sure. every day. especially now that he knows he's been harboring a crush on his childhood friend all these years, haha... totally fine! they didn't stop talking immediately, life just got in the way, they were both busy with adult stuff. it's okay!
"i can't believe you're still single, you have girls AND guys falling over themselves for a chance to be with you when we go out and yet, you never say yes to anyone! did you make a vow of chastity or something?" mianmian asks him when they get back from a night of partying.
wwx didn't, obviously and he's kissed other people before, even went on dates.

it's just that whenever it starts getting serious he can't bring himself to commit. it feels like he should wait like, what if the person falls in love with him? what if they grow even more attached?
(what if lan zhan comes back and wei ying is no longer single? what then?)
he knows it's silly, it was children's play, not a real betrothal! — who even calls it a betrothal? — and lan zhan is turning 21 soon and yes, he was single the last time they talked but he was handsomer than ever, mature even!

fine, he was smoking hot (a "dilf", like nhs says)
there is a high probability that lan zhan might even be really engaged by now, or at least in a long-term relationship. he wouldn't call it off to fulfill a childhood promise, lan zhan is responsible!

and even if he /is/ still single, he might not have grown taller than wwx.
he sighs, hiding his head in his hands. it's pointless, he has thought about it countless times, trying to convince himself that waiting will do none of them good, he should listen to his friends and go out with someone, try to move on with his life.

he realizes he can't.
whether lan zhan is single or not, whether he's tall or not; it doesn't matter. wwx wants him anyway.

he loves lan zhan and if he's somehow misread the signs all this time, he'd rather know the whole truth than to start a relationship as an excuse to run away from his feelings.
"it's because he's waiting for the right person." nhs says from where he's sitting at the couch, legs sprawled over jc's lap — who keeps trying to shove his feet away unsuccessfully — and his voice brings wwx back to reality.

mianmian's smirk falters, she looks intrigued.
she stares at wwx and he swallows under her gaze. out of all the people he's dated, mianmian was the closest he ever came to giving up on his childhood friend. she's snarky, funny, gorgeous but eventually they both agreed they'd be better off as friends. a mutual breakup.
// taking a break because i have to finish my spanish homework but i'll be back later with more! thank you for reading, your reactions are so inspiring and funny! 🥺❤️ //
// ok i'm back! but the next update might be short since i have classes soon. i'm also trying to reply to everyone who's interacting with the thread so if i forget anyone i'm sorry and thank you!! i'm making this up as i go so i hope y'all like it! //
// also here's the first tweet cause this is getting longer than i planned 😅 //
"wei ying is a romantic." wen ning says quietly. when everyone turns to look at him, he shrugs and wen qing smiles, leaving mianmian's side to pat his head affectionately.

mianmian is the next one to talk, her eyes still on wwx, "i agree. he's husband material." she says.
"who knows, maybe he'll be the first one to get married out of all of us." she goes over to his side, sitting on his lap and pinching his cheeks. their friends laugh.

"nevermind about me," wwx says, pouting. "OR my marriage." he glares at nhs at that. "when is the next party?"
"it's my brother's birthday." jzx says and wwx rolls his eyes. yes, they agreed to get along when he married his sister and they're all adults now but he can't help keeping picking on him and vice-versa. it's how they show affection, jyl doesn't mind.

"which one?" jc asks.
a valid question, considering jzx's father has had plenty affairs in his life, which resulted in several half siblings for him.

"mo xuanyu." jzx replies and wwx stops tickling mianmian right away.

"xuanyu? really? he's the best! when is it? will it be at your house?" he asks.
wwx loves mxy, in fact he's the one he likes the most among jzx's siblings. he became friends with him after uncle jiang sent him and jc over to "chaperone" their sister's dates with jzx. it was only jc before because wwx was always at lan zhan's but now that he was gone...
anyway, mxy is younger than him but he's smart, creative and funny and actually listens to wwx's ramblings. they meet now and then to grab a cup of coffee and have a nice chat when xuanyu is not busy with college. they have a lot in common.

wwx is suddenly hyped up!
jyl pipes in, "a-xuan, you know xuanyu wanted to invite a-xian personally." she says, scolding him with a small smile. jzx's eyes widen. he scratches the back of his neck, bashful.

"ah, he'll just have to pretend he didn't know anything." he looks at wwx, daring him to complain.
wwx sticks his tongue out at him, "boomer." he says under his breath. "whatever, since you already started running your mouth tell us everything."

jzx looks like he'd rather do anything but agree with wwx but jyl is batting her eyelashes at him and he can't win against her.
so he tells them the party will be at his house. his father is in a strange good mood lately; apparently he sealed a deal with an influential firm and he wants to celebrate it. he'll entertain the CEO and some other employees from both corporations while the party is happening.
wwx finds that weird — half reception half birthday party? — and asks mxy about it when they meet later that week but xuanyu only shrugs with a sad smile. he says it's the first time his father has wanted to celebrate his birthday and he just wants to have fun with his friends.
wwx almost tears up. instead, he pulls him into a protective hug and swears to himself he will do everything in his power so that mxy's party will be unforgettable.
(he just didn't know that promise could apply to /him/ too)
// and with that we're coming close to the ending! 😆 i'll come back later to (hopefully) finish it! thank you for your support! //
// i'm back! five hours later but my head was aching (still kinda is) so i'm sorry if i made you wait, let's get back to it! //
a week later, on saturday, is when mxy's party finally happens. the jiang siblings go together with jc driving — god forbid wwx calls him uber again but he does enjoy being at the driver seat ever since he got his license — and arrive fashionably late (jyl says so to appease jc).
jzx greets them at the gates and wwx feels almost impressed that he took the time to wait for them instead of enjoying the party. jyl could have gone with him, of course, but she wanted to ride with her brothers like old times and how could they — or the peacock — refuse her?
a beautiful smile spreads across her face as she spots her beloved but she kisses her brothers' cheeks and warns them about staying out of trouble before linking arms with her husband and getting inside the house. jc and wwx share a look and walk in after them.
the first thing he realizes when they step into the party is that jzx truly wasn't kidding when he said his father was in a good mood. this might be the biggest event he's ever seen at the jin household! their entire backyard is decorated in red and yellow, mxy's favorite colors.
the pool is full of different floats, some have strange shapes — wwx can swear he's never seen such a big swan, he almost wants to dive in and sit on it. around it, there's a dancefloor where a DJ is playing the latest hits of the year, the music blaring so loud it's deafening.
there's so much food! a whole banquet next to what wwx thinks is a bar — he's gonna be checking that later — and there's a lot of people, considering mxy doesn't have many friends. wwx rolls his eyes, wondering what most of these kids did to flatter him into letting them come.
he looks around the place and can barely recognize all those faces but when he spots nhs fanning himself in a corner his face lights up and he nudges jc. his brother nods and they walk to the third member of their trio who almost breathes a sigh of relief when they get there.
"finally! i thought you'd never come!" nhs complains, scrunching his nose.

jc side-eyes wwx and puts a hand next to his mouth like he's about to tell a secret, "guess who is to blame for taking so long to get ready."

wwx clutches his chest, offended, "hey, that's a lie!"
"it was because YOU spent so long in the shower! don't tell me you got a crush here that you didn't tell me about..." wwx narrows his eyes and jc's face reddens further as he gets closer until his cheeks are practically burning.

he pushes wwx away, "you're the one with a crush!"
wwx feels his mood sour and his playfulness becomes annoyance. he crosses his arms over his chest and scoffs, "yeah, not like mine would ever show up here though. you have no excuses, little brother." he bites back. it's true, lan zhan doesn't know mxy, he never got to meet him.
nhs steps in between them, raising his fan as though it's a white flag, wwx can't help but smile a little. it's kinda endearing, even jc's scowl subsides. "ah, no fight tonight! it's xuanyu's day, you two promised to be on your best behavior!"

wwx's eyes widen, "you're right!"
his eyes dart across the place, "where is he, by the way? i have to greet him and see if this crazy party is anything like he wanted. if not, i'll have a little chat with jin guangshan." he says, smug. "have you seen him, huaisang?"

nhs shakes his head, "i don't know!" he says.
wwx raises an eyebrow, "you've been here since the beginning. you didn't see him at all?"

nhs hides behind jc, shaken by the intensity in wwx's gaze, "i don't know! i've just been here waiting for you, maybe he's..." he points indecisively at a spot with his fan, "over there?"
wwx looks over his shoulder, searching for mxy in a crowd of teenagers dancing and drinking but he still can't seem to find him. "no, he's not—"

but when he turns back around both nhs and his brother are already gone. "great." he says, shaking his head. "guess i'll have to go."
// last break because my laptop keeps lagging so i'll go to my phone! also, does anyone wanna guess what is happening here? and please, know that i only write clichés LOL i'm not good at plot twists so sorry if it's not what you're expecting and thank you for reading 😔❤️ //
he walks around the whole party, looking for someone who resembles his friend but a few close calls later and he's back at square one. he sighs, running his fingers through his hair. it's almost like xuanyu /isn't/ here.

that's when it occurs to him: what if he isn't?
of course! this party is loud, crowded and full of people he doesn't know well! inside the house jin guangshan is talking to his new partners so xuanyu couldn't go up to his room... where else would he be then? somewhere quiet? farther from here?

wwx spots the backdoor then.
behind it is the garden. he remembers running around it with him, teaching mxy to climb a few trees, have fun outside. if he hasn't decided to leave altogether he must be sulking there, upset about his ruined party.

wwx's heart drops. in the end, he couldn't keep his promise.
he takes a deep breath and pushes through the door, stepping outside.
the music grows distant as he walks away, looking for mxy — at this point this feels more like a treasure hunt than a party!

that's when wwx realizes he could have just... called or texted him? what, did he think they were in ancient china or something? he facepalms.
he takes his phone out of his pocket but before he can press send on a message to him (where are u???????? 😩) he hears the sound of a flute and raises his head so fast he feels dizzy, relief flooding his chest when he sees mxy standing against a tree, playing music.
the corners of his mouth quirk up into a small smile. he's been teaching xuanyu to play but he's not sure if flute is his thing, maybe they should try another instrument. even now he can hear all the mistakes mxy is making as he tries to find the melody. wwx sighs fondly.
he steps forward to greet him when, out of nowhere, a hand comes up behind the tree and wraps itself around mxy's wrist, catching him off guard, his red ribbon flying in the wind as he gets pulled away, too shocked to resist, his flute falling to the ground with a /thud/.
wwx blinks, dumbfounded. if it weren't for mxy's bamboo flute lying on the ground just a few steps away from him he wouldn't believe his eyes. it happened so fast...

he steps closer again and picks up the flute, clenching it in his hands, anger coursing through his veins.
it doesn't matter, his friend is in danger and wwx was the only one who saw it. who knows what that person might be planning to do to xuanyu.

he raises the instrument above his head and holds it tightly with both hands as though it's a baseball bat. he can use it as a weapon.
he runs ahead, seeing red, not really thinking about what he's going to do — if he's lucky maybe he can hit the person on the head and knock them out? — and doesn't stop chasing after the other two until he feels a sharp pain shooting through his nose.

/what the hell.../
did he just crash against someone? what just happened?

he did, he realizes when he lands on the ground and looks up to see a broad back and wow— is this guy really tall or is it only because wwx is almost crouching?

"a-ying!" mxy cries out, suddenly appearing in front of him.
wwx is suddenly alert, reaching out to grab onto mxy's shoulders, looking for any injuries, "xuanyu! are you okay? did that guy hurt you? you almost gave me a heart attack just now! i'm not as young as i used to be!" he says, like a parent scolding their child.

mxy snorts.
"a-ying, you're 21." he says in disbelief.

wwx brushes him off, "so? i'm still older than you! and as your elder i demand an explanation! what? did you get a secret boyfriend and forgot to tell me? is that why you ran away from the party? i have to approve of this guy first!"
mxy's eyes widen and he turns red, shaking his head frantically, "of course not! stop saying nonsense, i just came out here because the party was boring and you didn't show up so i thought i could practice, you know i don't have time thanks to college and it's peaceful here."
wwx does know. it's the reason why he went out to look for him there in the first place but that still doesn't explain, "then just now?"

mxy sighs and rubs his chest, he seems a bit shaken, "i thought i was gonna get kidnapped but turns out he just mistook me for—"

"wei ying."
// there you have it!!! did you guess correctly? i hope i didn't kill anyone LMAO 😭 //
wwx freezes in the spot, the world stops spinning.

it can't be. he must have imagined that. no way, right? there's no way! he saw the guy— well, from behind, but still! he's tall, taller than him and lan zhan is /short/. wwx must have hit his head when he fell just now.
(mxy looks between his senior who looks like he's just seen a ghost and the stranger who has Yearning written across his forehead and once again, if this was a cartoon, he would have several question marks above his head because he seriously feels like he's missing something...)
wwx is looking at the floor, the space between his feet. he can't bring himself to look up, he hasn't seen his dearest lan zhan in six years and if it isn't him, if it's just his mind playing tricks — he can't even blame it on drinking this time — he might just burst into tears.
mxy clears his throat and starts speaking again, "anyway, i don't know him because he hasn't introduced himself to me yet but he apologized! he said he saw my red ribbon and said he once knew someone who played the flute like me. i didn't take that as an insult, by the way."
"i heard that and it all clicked, of course! he thought i was you! which i took as a huge compliment!" he says, proudly.

wwx parts his lips to speak but his tongue feels too big for his mouth, his throat is dry and the stranger (?) takes it upon himself to answer, "lan wangji."
mxy frowns, turning around, "huh?"

the stran— /lan wangji/ takes a step forward and explains, "you said i didn't tell you my name. it's lan wangji, lan zhan."

/lan zhan/ chills go down wwx's spine. no one would joke about that, especially not with him.

/it's you./ he thinks.
he finally raises his head and his breath catches in his throat at the sight of him, heart beating so loud he can barely hear the lingering noises from the party and even if he could, he would pay them no mind.

because it is lan zhan and he's wearing that expression again.
gleaming golden eyes looking straight into his, the lan-zhan-is-fond smile that he spent sleepless nights wondering about the meaning behind, the smile that has always been for wei ying only.
he lets mxy help him to his feet — a terrible mistake, he realizes, because there's no denying that lan zhan is no longer the short one out of the two. he's tall, handsome, just as hot as in the selfies he took with his bunnies when wwx whined about missing him through text.
/if i become taller than you, you will marry me/ lan zhan's voice echoes through his ears, loud and clear and his legs feel weak.

(maybe he should have stayed on the floor)

they stare at each other in silence until mxy decides he should /not/ be part of this conversation.
he pats wwx's shoulder to get his attention and wwx turns to face him, still a bit dazed. "so, a-ying, i think i should probably get back to the party before dad finds out i snuck out... you two should talk." he takes his flute from him, "nice to meet you, wangji." he waves.
"mn." lwj says, nodding at him, eyes still sweeping over wwx's figure.

and just like that, they find themselves completely alone in the garden. only the two of them.

/nice/ wwx thinks. alone with his crush that he hasn't seen in six years. /don't make this awkward, wei ying./
wei wuxian, "..."

lan wangji, "..."
the longer their "staring contest" continues the more wwx realizes he's actually having to /look up/ at lan zhan. it's a strange contrast from how their dynamic used to be years ago but he doesn't think it's unpleasant.

he can't help but ask, "lan zhan, how tall are you now?"
lwj doesn't seem the slightest bothered by the question. he replies right away, "188 centimeters."

wwx gapes at him, almost 190! he's tall indeed, "i see..." he smiles nervously, "what did you do to get so tall? did you eat a lot of vegetables?" he snaps his fingers. "i know!"
"don't tell me you've been eating with the bunnies! or worse, you ate all their carrots and they had to eat something else! does that work to grow faster? i'll have to search that later— oh wait, i have my phone! i'll just google it!" he takes his phone out again, stalling.
lwj's hand — large hand — grips his wrist, stopping him from unlocking his screen. his face is unreadable and wwx looks down at his own arm, speechless, "lan zhan?"

lwj takes his phone from him, "there is no need. i was a late bloomer." he explains.

wwx nods, frowning.
he steps forward, "okay, now give me my phone back, i still want to know if carrots are good to get taller, you know me! i'm curious—" he reaches out to grab it when something unbelievable happens.

lwj moves his hand away and raises it above his head, away from wwx.
"try me, shortie." he says, using wwx's own words from when they were children against him.

wwx feels wronged in so many ways he walks into his personal space and grabs onto lan zhan's arm, getting on his tiptoes, almost climbing lan zhan like a tree, "hey, give it back!"
the closer he gets to snatching it from him, the higher lan zhan raises his phone until wwx feels laughter bubbling out of his throat. he's not old like he told mxy but right now, he feels like that teen who used to spend all his days with the same boy.

/the boy he loves./
the realization washes over him like a wave to the shore. lan zhan is here, he promised and he came back. lan zhan had been looking for him and wwx loves him so much he might as well—

he loses his balance when he jumps up now, his hand gripping lwj's forearm instead, and trips.
when he thought his life couldn't get any more cliché, lwj catches him, wrapping both arms around wwx's waist. an accidental hug.

wwx is on his tiptoes, the scene reminds him of something that happened six years ago, two friends saying goodbye in the middle of an airport.
// hey guys... it's past my bedtime now and i really have to go, will you hate me if i finish this tomorrow morning? 🥺 //
// ok so unfortunately i couldn't finish this morning and since y'all said it was okay to do so whenever i could i took my time, hope that's ok! this update will clear up some things and answers some questions! enjoy 🤭 //
wwx looks down at the hand around his waist and feels it tightening, swallowing before looking up again. their faces are so close the intensity of lwj's gaze seems to be warming him up, "lan zhan..." he says, only for him to listen.

"wei ying..." lwj doesn't miss a beat.
wwx's heart aches. oh, how he missed hearing his name coming out of those lips... before he even notices it, his hand is already reaching out to touch lwj's face, fingers tracing over his features timidly, hesitantly.

lwj doesn't try to stop him, he doesn't even flinch.
wwx finds his voice again. if he doesn't talk he will continue to touch and he's been resisting staring at lwj's lips or pressing him against a tree and stealing the kiss he's been dreaming about for so long. he can't do it without asking the questions circling through his head.
(he can't do it without knowing if lan zhan is really back for the same reason he waited six years for)
"so, lan zhan," he clears his throat, "fancy seeing you here but you don't know xuanyu and i really wasn't expecting to meet you today so it's safe to say you owe this old friend an explanation." his tone is playful but he doesn't move away, doesn't put any distance between them.
lwj nods like he's been expecting it, "mn." he says, "i did not come for a birthday party, i came for a business meeting." he starts, "i was... confused when we arrived but jin guangshan greeted us and asked us to follow him upstairs. the party belonged to his son, he said."
wwx blinks, astonished. "lan zhan— don't tell me you actually became a handsome CEO like the ones from the dramas shijie watches!" he says, beginning to connect the dots.

that explains why lan zhan is wearing a suit — a suit that makes him /hotter/ somehow, highly distracting.
but lwj shakes his head, "i haven't. uncle wants me to take over the business as my brother's right hand man, that is why he brought me to the meeting. he just sealed a deal with lanlingjin enterprises."

wwx nods slowly, "so that's why... the peacock said something about it..."
it's all coming together now. lan zhan is here because gusulan corporations is jin guangshan's new partnership.

wwx knew about lwj's family, his uncle's dream to rebuild the company his older brother led to bankruptcy, but up until they lost contact he still hadn't done it.
to become an influential firm in such a short time and starting from the bottom, lan qiren must either have the determination of an army or be really skilled in his area. either way, wwx has to admit it's an impressive feat.

he gets back to his feet, scratching his chin.
"but if you were upstairs there's no way you could see xuanyu, how did you even end up here? we're all alone in this garden." he gestures to the the trees and the flowers around them, basked in moonlight.

"i do not want to become a CEO or the assistant of one." lwj says.
"brother knows, so he helped me to escape. fortunately uncle was too busy celebrating to notice my absence." he rolls his eyes then and wwx bites his lower lip to stop himself from laughing. he looks so done, it's adorable! it reminds him of the good times. "i went downstairs."
wwx doesn't let him finish, "weird question but did you meet huaisang?"

lwj raises an eyebrow, surprised "yes." he says. "he was standing at the entrance of the house. i saw him immediately. he caught sight of my distress and told me i would find peace at the garden."
wwx frowns, his suspicions growing, "did he say anything about me?"

lwj shakes his head again, "i did not know wei ying would be here. i wasn't aware you were friends with jin guangshan's sons, you always despised jin zixuan." he says, matter of factly.

wwx snorts, "true."
lwj walked to the garden and stayed there, just chilling until xuanyu came out to play his flute. he followed the sound and upon spotting the red ribbon in his hair, thought it was wei ying and approached him quickly.

so they only met by chance. lan zhan didn't come for him...
wwx feels silly now, his heart sinking to his stomach. lan zhan became taller than him, he reached his goal but he only came back because he had a business meeting that just happened to be at wei ying's friend's party.

"wei ying?" lwj says, seeing the change in his expression.
if wwx hadn't gone out to look for mxy, if he had stayed inside, decided to go look for his other friends or leave the party instead, would they be where they are now? would lan zhan come find him?

"of course i would." lwj says, sounding offended.

oh, wwx said that out loud.
"wei ying," lwj grabs onto his shoulders, forcing wwx to look at him. "i did not come back for this boring meeting. if i wanted to stay brother would find a way to convince uncle to let me off the hook. i only came because i wanted to see you. i miss you, wei ying." he confesses.
wwx gets goosebumps up his arms, "lan zhan, you... you were gone for so long. i thought you wouldn't come back..." he finally voices his fears. "you promised you wouldn't forget me but we didn't even talk anymore so i thought..."

lwj's golden eyes become fierce, "never."
"i thought about wei ying everyday, i was waiting for the right opportunity to come back. i wanted to tell you..." he licks his lips, anxious.

during the few minutes it takes for lan zhan to find his words, wwx almost forgets how to breathe, his heart beating erratically.
"what? what did you want to tell me, lan zhan...?" he can't help encouraging him, presing his hands against his chest, sliding them in hope of mitigating whatever dilemma lwj seems to be facing right now.

he doesn't realize where his hands are going until he reaches his pocket.
he feels something solid and small inside his coat and because his adhd brain can't really pick between giving into curiosity or stepping away and also because he hasn't seen lan zhan in years and any new information about him fills wwx with satisfaction, he takes it out.
it's a... box? a square box that looks really expensive! is the material velvet? so soft to the touch! he wonders if lan zhan has been working for his uncle to get to buy such a fancy thing.

like a kid fascinated by a toy, he brings the box close to his ear and shakes it.
nothing. it makes no sound. is it empty? was it something his uncle asked him to bring?

"huh... lan zhan, what is this? is this yours?" he asks, genuinely confused.

lwj is looking at him with a pained expression, "wei ying, give that back."

wwx's eyes flash mischievously.
// short update, i know! but i just wanted to explain what happened to lan zhan and of course i couldn't go to sleep knowing i didn't update this so see you tomorrow. i think by now everyone (but wei ying) has figured it out, love y'all 🤭❤️ //
// i see everyone is anxious about the grand finale! but don't worry, i promised i'd write a short epilogue and i will (at this point this thread is already so long, might as well just embrace it). here's the first tweet for anyone who feels lost: //
wwx knows it's childish and he feels bad when he sees the fear in lwj's eyes but how harmful can it be? it's just payback for what lan zhan did to him earlier! it's his sweet revenge!

"come get it, lan zhan~" he says, extending his arm behind his back as far as he can.
"wei ying..." lwj's voice feels like a warning. "give. it. back."

/lan zhan still doesn't know how to take a joke/ wwx thinks, scoffing and taking a step away so the box will be even more out of reach now. /maybe he didn't change that much/

"wei ying!" lwj grits his teeth.
he probably means to sound threatening but his ears are so red, wwx can't help but coo at him, "c'mon lan zhan! all you have to do is take it from me."

lwj's shoulders relax, his eyes shine with something wwx has never seen before. it makes his smile falters, it makes him wary.
lwj takes decisive steps in his direction and corners him against a tree he hadn't seen before, towering over him. this close, wwx is even smaller, yet, he still tries to raise his hand but lwj grips his wrist tightly.

before wwx can protest, he's leaning in...
and /kissing/ him.
it's such a fleeting touch wwx almost thinks he imagined it but the softness of lwj's lips pressing against his is unmistakable. he's been kissed by that mouth before, on his cheek, back when lan zhan lost a bet against him and wwx demanded a kiss as punishment to embarrass him.
he expected lan zhan to fume and stomp his feet on the ground and then he would ask his best friend to eat spicy food or run around the neighborhood with him ringing everyone's doorbells.

instead, as he cackled, lwj cupped his cheek and gave it a quick smooch, startling wwx.
right now, 21-years-old wwx is more than startled, he's flabbergasted; so torn between dragging lwj back into his personal space and asking what the hell just happened, he doesn't even notice the box is no longer in his possession.

lwj is staring down at it, open in his hands.
he looks so relieved once he realizes whatever is in there is okay, wwx feels guilt crawling up his stomach and swallows down the previous word in order to apologize, "sorry... i didn't know it was so special to you."

lwj stares at him and nods slowly, face unreadable. "it is."
wwx has never been more curious but he feels like he's just invaded lwj's privacy and though he's once thought of him as his soulmate, the gap of the years they've been apart feels big enough to swallow him whole and wwx doesn't want to stand on the edge of that cliff any longer.
that doesn't change the fact that lan zhan has kissed him and in his teenage years he could play if off as a joke and move on with it but now, it feels like there's a deeper meaning behind it, hope fluttering inside his chest.

so he clears his throat and says, "about the kiss—"
but at the same time, lwj blurts out, "it's an engagement ring."

wwx can almost hear the record scratch, the frame freezing as all his thoughts come to a halt.
"an engagement ring." he repeats, the words feeling foreign on his tongue.

lwj nods proudly, "mn. i picked it out myself." he looks fondly at it.

wwx chokes on air, "oh— so it's /your/ engagement ring..."

his mind is racing with every scenario in which lan zhan would need it.
he picked it out... could it be for his brother? maybe xichen planned to propose to someone tonight and he needed lwj's help.

but if it is his, could it be that lan zhan is dating someone? but why would he bring that to a business meeting? his beloved is probably from gusu.
no, none of those seem right, which only leaves him with...
lan zhan coming to hold his part of their bargain, to offer this /engagement/ ring to wei ying.
he figures asking it would be too straightforward so he says, "i didn't know you planned on getting married, lan zhan! can i see it? how long have you had it, it looks expensive!" he steps closer.

lwj doesn't try to stop him, "i started saving for it once i reached your height."
wwx feels all the breath getting sucked from his lungs and it's then that he catches a glimpse of the ring — beautiful, elegant, silver with a cloud embroidery around the middle. it's so lan zhan his fingers itch to touch it.

"i wanted to buy it with my own money." lwj adds.
"i thought about coming back everyday so i worked hard to buy it as soon as i could which ended up on me being busy often and not having time for you." he looks chastised as he slips the ring out of the box. "but i intend to undo this mistake if wei ying allows me to."
he gently grabs wwx's hand and holds the ring close to it, "marry me, wei ying and from now on, all my hours will be yours."
// OK I'M BACK! sorry, my gf distracted me, but also we're so close to the ending 😭 i know there's gonna be an epilogue but i hope you know i really liked the experience of interacting with y'all on this thread fic, it cheered me up when i was at my worst, thank you! ❤️ //
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