FANDOM: Mo Dao Zu Shi
PAIRING: Lan WangJi / Wei WuXian
NOTE: Modern AU; Professor Lan Zhan (30) x Ice-Cream Man Wei Ying (22).
A/N: Daily update until the end of the story. Around one week of continuous updates.
PREVIOUS CHAPTER: [ 01 ]
It makes no sense for a handsome, intelligent man like Wei WuXian to be selling ice-cream in front of the university, under horrible weathers. It piques Lan WangJi’s curiosity.
As he tidied up the remaining of his work for the day, Lan WangJi heard gentle tapping of raindrop against the window. The rain had fallen steadily without let up by the time he kept everything back in place. Lan WangJi pondered. This was a horrible weather to be walking under and he wouldn’t want to risk being drenched from head to toe; it’d be troublesome to deal with. Heaving a soft sigh, he sat back on the chair, about to take his laptop out of his briefcase, wanting to continue some work before a flash of reminder flicked past his mind.
Without another word, he walked towards the window.
The rain bore down mercilessly upon the heart of the streets, pounding on the roads and turning them into a warren of slick stones and muddy waters. The temperature had dropped; the heat from before non-existent, the wind only made the weather icier than before.
He caught sight of the man. He was sitting under the umbrella of his cart; doing nothing, just sitting.
Before Lan WangJi could even make sense of what he was doing, he’d paced back towards his desk, grabbed his briefcase, and strode out of the staff room.
The man was wet all over. Droplets of water hung on the tips of his short strands of hair, some trickling down his face, wetting his cheek, his neck, all the way to his body. Lan WangJi wasn’t unfamiliar with such a sight. Even when there’s no rain, there was always a sheen of sweat on the man’s body, as if it was melting with the dark sunspots on his honey skin. But now, he looked very much his age, the young man who was supposed to be sitting in class just like any other child, or, even if he didn’t intend to attend a university, he should also be sitting in an office, not out in the cold like this, selling ice-cream in a weather where no one needed it.
When he looked up at Lan WangJi, his expression was one of curious, eyes blinking the water with small droplets dangling on his long eyelashes.
“Why are you still here?” Lan WangJi asked. He stood under the umbrella, his shadow covering most of the man’s body, his expression appeared to be colder than it already was, his voice even more so.
He might have imagined it but he clearly saw the man did a slight shiver upon hearing his question.
Yet, he drew a dazzling grin on his face, one that he’d always put up whenever he faced a customer. Lan WangJi frowned out of his own conscious, the mixed emotions within him threatening to swallow him alive.
“I still have to do my job, no matter if it’s hot or it’s raining like this,” the man said.
“No one will come,” Lan WangJi responded; only then that he realized that it sounded rude but it’s too late for him to take his words back.
“That’s not quite right,” the man tilted his head. He was no longer grinning but he was smiling; a tender smile that was soft and affectionate, like a hint of warmth in the midst of chill.
At the end, Lan WangJi asked to bring him back. The man was clearly in shock for a while but Lan WangJi’s vibe was so incredibly commanding that he could only allow the man to kept all the stuff away from his ice-cream stall, cover it up, and then hauling him down the street.
Upon the umbrella was the rhythm of the rain. Lan WangJi’s hand tightened around the curved wooden handle, feeling the mixed emotions within him to turn even more ferocious with every new step he took with the man.
“You know where I stay?” the man’s voice rang in his ear.
“It’s okay, I’ll tell you.”
There’s a hint of laughter in his voice and Lan WangJi tried as hard as he could not to turn around to look at it.
“You drove?” the man continued asking. Thank God he did. Lan WangJi wouldn’t know how to survive the awkwardness between them if he never took control of the conversation.
“I… I’m wet, though. Wouldn’t it dirty your car? I think it’s fine, I can walk home, it’s not too far from–”
Silence spread between them after that. Lan WangJi was starting to regret his words, his mind trundled of all kinds of a new topic he could bring up to keep the conversation going, just so he could save his own sanity, but in the end, the question that rolled out of his mouth was something he hadn’t been expecting himself,
“What’s your name?”
The man was clearly caught off guard. Even without looking at him, Lan WangJi knew that he was gaping at him, like he’d asked a very personal question. Again, Lan WangJi ran through a self-reflection in his head. Was the question really too personal? But it’s normal to ask someone for their name, right? It’s just manners to refer to someone by their name.
“Oh, I– sorry,” the man stuttered, a behavior that’s rare on its own.
“I’m Wei WuXian,” the man said.
He said nothing after that. So did Lan WangJi.
The place Wei WuXian stayed turned out to be a small house in a small neighborhood. It’s a one-storey, looking very much rundown from the outside with a few torn notices pasted all over the walls.
Lan WangJi’s fingers curled up by his side. He should’ve known. Why else would a man sell ice-cream when they could’ve done something else? This man, Wei WuXian, must have left school since a long time ago. And without that good piece of certification, it’s impossible for him to even get into any of the good companies.
He should’ve known.
“Thank you, Professor Lan,” Wei WuXian stopped his footsteps when they came under the roof. “I’m good here. I can go in myself. Hahaha, well, the fact that I just had a man sending me home is so… erm, how should I put this?”
He scratched the back of his head; he didn’t look like he’s embarrassed, but more of like awkward.
“But it’s okay. When I see you again, I’ll give you ice-cream, for free!”
“It’s fine. It’s on my way back as well.”
It’s not on his way back.
Wei WuXian grinned at him again, nodding.
“Professor Lan, you’re such a nice person.”
No one ever told him this, not to his face.
“I’d love to be your friend.”
No one ever told him this either, to his face or not.
The next day, Wei WuXian was nowhere to be seen.
“It’s so rare. He never takes a break.”
“I wonder what happened?”
“Aw man, I wanted to try the new flavor…”
The conversations he caught ear in the corridor had Lan WangJi frowning. His mind buzzed with questions, his heart beat in wonder. From the very little knowledge he had about Wei WuXian, he knew that he wasn’t one to go missing all of a sudden like this.
He took out his phone, wanting to give him a call.
…when he realized he didn’t ask for his number.
Right after all the classes ended, Lan WangJi drove his way towards the small neighborhood again. Like Wei WuXian had told him, it wasn’t very far from the university; just a ten-minute drive and he found himself in front of Wei WuXian’s house, one that looked as shabby as ever.
He walked towards the door, about to knock, when he came to the sudden realization that he forgot to bring something along. What if Wei WuXian was really sick? Then at the very least, he should’ve brought a fruit basket or something…
Maybe he should go and get one now.
Yet, before he could move away, the door behind him opened.
Lan WangJi turned around carefully. For some reason, his heartbeats were blaring in his ears, his lips shivered ever so slightly. The man before him was flushed on the cheeks and, as usual, sweating. He didn’t need too much of a conviction to know that he had, indeed, fallen sick.
Must be the rain from yesterday.
All of a sudden, Lan WangJi felt a surge of remorse rushing up to his head from his guts.
The long walk in the rain. The overly cold air-conditioning in his car.
He should’ve given him something to dry his body. He should’ve given him his coat.
But all that had stopped him from doing so was the consideration that these were all actions too intimate between two men who were nothing but acquaintances.
“Why… are you here?” Wei WuXian asked him.
It’s ironic how the same question was thrown back to him after he’d tossed it at the same person.
“You’re sick,” he said, avoiding the question.
“Ah, haha…” Wei WuXian laughed powerlessly. He slanted against the doorframe, crossed-arms, his eyes were a bit misty from the heat, a small curve of a smirk arched on the corners of his lips.
“Didn’t want you to see such a pathetic sight of me but who would’ve thought Professor Lan would come all the way for me by himself? It’s such an honor,” he joked.
Lan WangJi said nothing. Swallowing down his throat, he looked at Wei WuXian after a few moments of silence.
“Do you… have someone to take care of you?”
“Hm? Ahaha, no need, no need,” Wei WuXian waved his hand. “It’s just a cold. I can handle it myself. Professor Lan, you…”
With a pause, Wei WuXian narrowed his eyes, his smirk dipped deeper.
“…you’re treating me like one of your students, aren’t you?”
He what? Was he? Did he?
Seeing that response, Wei WuXian chuckled softly. He stood, one hand on the door, looking like he was ready to close it.
“There’s no need for that, Professor Lan. I’m not your student. I’m just a man by the roadside, someone who sells ice-cream. You’re a professor. There’s no need for you to be concerned over a mere stranger.
“I’ll be fine in a bit,” Wei WuXian continued rambling, leaving Lan WangJi to stand rigid on the ground. “Don’t worry, I still remember I owe you an ice-cream. I don’t like to owe debts so you’ll see me real soon.”
“It’s..” not that was what he wanted to say. But Wei WuXian smiled and patted him on the arm. His hand was burning hot, the heat of it coursing directly from the thick material of Lan WangJi’s coat all the way to his skin.
“Thank you very much for your concern, though. I really appreciate it,” Wei WuXian said.
Lan WangJi knew he was sincere. And Lan WangJi knew he was right.
They only knew each other for less than three days. Anyone would get stupefied to have someone forcing their way towards them like that.
Despite so, Lan WangJi stood for a long time outside of Wei WuXian’s door even after they’d bid each other farewell.
All Wei WuXian did was explaining what he was really feeling to him, yet he felt like he was rejected.
Perhaps this was how Wei WuXian felt when he turned down his ice-cream two days before.
A/N: Aih, wrote too many words for this update, lmao!