PAIRING: Lan WangJi x Wei WuXian
NOTE: Post-canon; appetizer for Wei Ying’s birthday. Happy birthday, Wei Ying!
Food speak of more words than one can expect them to.
He told himself he’d wake up earlier this morning.
But it didn’t happen.
There will be another family banquet later and he was required to attend too. The day before, Lan WangJi had told him about it when he asked if Lan WangJi was free the next day. Nothing much; he simply wanted to take some time off with Lan WangJi, maybe heading out for a bit, just to catch some air that’s not the Cloud Recesses’ breeze. But when he asked Lan WangJi, Lan WangJi ー who’d always notice his intention whenever he asked him a question ー had, oddly, lowered his gaze, looking like a guilty child before he told Wei WuXian with immense difficulty that there will be a family banquet the next day.
Wei WuXian was surprised when he said that; not because of the family banquet, but because of how coincidental it was for the family banquet to fall on the same day as his…
He’s not one to celebrate birthdays; to be fair, he’d forgotten about it himself but when Lan WangJi asked him if there’s any other food he wanted to try two days ago, it suddenly hit him when he tried to figure out what Lan WangJi was up to, then remembering that his birthday was near and that Lan WangJi might be preparing things for him again, like how he did last year. Of course, to preserve his dignity, Wei WuXian didn’t expose him right away. Instead, he played along with him, knowing perfectly well that Lan WangJi was always trying his best for him yet was still a bit awkward when it came to putting hands on things he’s not familiar with, as compared to him.
No matter what Lan WangJi did, it never failed to make his heart leap a beat though.
“Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi’s magnetic voice echoed in his ears, pounding him awake. He realized he’s in the barrel and Lan WangJi was, as usual, bathing him with gestures so gentle and soft he definitely would not wake if not because of his voice.
“Ah, oh. I’mー right, what time is it now?” Wei WuXian was still in a bit of a daze when he opened his eyes. Rubbing one eye with his knuckles, he yawned, all the while feeling Lan WangJi’s hand brushing through the strands of his hair.
“Still early,” Lan WangJi said comfortingly. “But don’t fall asleep again.”
Wei WuXian grinned and splashed some water on Lan WangJi’s face. “So your ‘still early’ means it’s still early for the banquet, not ‘still early’ for me to wake, huh?”
Lan WangJi didn’t confirm, nor did he deny. With a chuckle, Wei WuXian took Lan WangJi’s hand and kissed the back a few times before he went all the way to his arm, ending with a soft kiss on his cheek.
“I’m perfectly awake now that I’ve gotten my daily dose of HanGuang-Jun,” he said. “Are we eating more first before we head to the banquet?”
Lan WangJi carried Wei WuXian out of the barrel and wiped his body dry for him, “En,” he said after a while.
“Don’t tell me you woke early to cook again?” Wei WuXian raised an eyebrow.
Lan WangJi, surprisingly, shook his head.
“Let’s head out,” he said, which had Wei WuXian widening his eyes.
“Head out? We’re eating out?”
“You are free in the morning?” Wei WuXian asked.
“Nothing of priority so far,” Lan WangJi said. “Head out.” He dressed him up for him. “And eat, then come back.”
Well, since Lan WangJi said that… great, and here he thought he wouldn’t have the chance to spend time outside with Lan WangJi but Lan WangJi had offered that very chance himself instead. Seriously, are their minds connected or something?
Wei WuXian chuckled under his breath at the thought, much to Lan WangJi’s amazement, as they made their way down the mountain.
Even when they arrived at CaiYi Town, Wei WuXian can instantly tell that Lan WangJi has had things planned ahead of time. Usually, Lan WangJi will ask him first if there’s anywhere he wanted to go or he’d simply follow Wei WuXian’s lead. But this time, the moment they stepped into the town, Lan WangJi gave him a look, just to have Wei WuXian grinning merrily at him, saying, “It’s not my idea to come here in the first place, so HanGuang-Jun, I shall entrust the decision to you for this time.” Lan WangJi said nothing, possibly trying to guess if Wei WuXian meant something else but they didn’t have a lot of time to spare in the first place so, in the end, surrendering to the urgency, he led Wei WuXian to… much to Wei WuXian’s own surprise, the restaurant he and Jiang Cheng and the rest of the disciples frequented when they were studying in Gusu together.
Wei WuXian had wanted to bring Lan WangJi here himself since the last time he told Lan WangJi about how he and the rest used to eat here, Lan WangJi didn’t seem very happy. But he didn’t expect Lan WangJi to be the person bringing him here instead, it’s honestly… impressive.
“Come,” Lan WangJi stretched a hand while he stood, stunned, staring. With a quiet ‘ah?’, he came back to himself and took Lan WangJi’s hand, pacing into the place with him.
Similarly to how his guts had told him when he set foot into CaiYi Town, Wei WuXian felt that perhaps Lan WangJi already had an idea of where he wanted to sit now too by the way he escorted Wei WuXian pass the crowd, and right up the stairs. The moment he came to the second floor, now with lesser customers than the first, he immediately understood why Lan WangJi brought him here in the first place.
It’s already not hard to spot both the purple and golden-yellow robes on normal occasions but now with so few people in such a spacious space, it made them stand out even more.
Wei WuXian gaped. Jin Ling and Jiang Cheng were sitting at a table near the window where it gave them a clear view of the street, both drinking tea. When they heard footsteps approaching, they looked around just to see an indifferent Lan WangJi standing beside them, alongside a beaming Wei WuXian.
“Wow, what a coincidence…or not,” Wei WuXian nudged Lan WangJi on his arm before that grin of his arched into a smirk. “You planned this?”
Lan WangJi shook his head. Wei WuXian chuckled. Right, how is it even possible for Lan WangJi to invite Jiang Cheng? But then, Lan WangJi spoke again,
“Young Master Jin requested to see you, but he didn’t inform me of an additional guest.”
Wei WuXian tried as hard as he could not to laugh, so hard that it was hurting his stomach. Jiang Cheng frowned,
“Do you have a problem with me being here, Second Master Lan?”
“Not at all,” Lan WangJi said before he gave Wei WuXian a glance. “If Wei Ying is fine with it.”
Wei WuXian burst out laughing, no longer able to suppress it. He waved a hand then used the same hand to wipe tears off the corner of his eyes before he said, “I don’t mind, not at all, not at all! Though I have to admit that it’s very surprising to see you here, Sect Leader Jiang. Don’t tell me you’re here for… hmm.”
“It’s not what you think it is,” Jiang Cheng refuted. “I caught this boy being sneaky and forced the truth out of him. Who knows what he’s up to coming all the way here to Gusu?”
“That’s not the truth!” Jin Ling debated. “Uncle, how can you be like this! You’re the one who asked when and where I’m meetingー”
Jiang Cheng stuffed a bun into Jin Ling’s mouth. “The adults are speaking, don’t interrupt.”
Wei WuXian laughed again. Tugging Lan WangJi over, they sat down with Jiang Cheng and Jin Ling.
“No matter what the truth is, it’s nice seeing both of you here, today even! It’s already a great honour for me,” Wei WuXian said. He poured all of them tea, raised his own cup and started. “I wish for a fine blessing upon Yunmeng Jiang Sect, Gusu Lan Sect, and Lanling Jin Sect.” Then, he drank, with the others following suit.
“Right, A-Ling, you wanted to see me, I heard? Some rugged spirits bothering your land again?” Wei WuXian asked as they waited for the dishes to be served.
“Why do you always think that I look for you only when I need help?!” Jin Ling said.
Wei WuXian raised an eyebrow, “Isn’t that the truth? And that’s totally fine! You’re still young, there’s bound to be a lot of things that you have yet to learn. It’s okay to admit to it, nothing to be embarrassed about! In fact, I’d be more worried if you keep everything bottled up in yourself so it’s totally fine to be speaking out. Right, HanGuang-Jun?”
“En,” Lan WangJi said, carefully cutting the bun into small pieces for Wei WuXian at the same time.
“Right, Sect Leader Jiang?” Wei WuXian directed the question to Jiang Cheng then.
“Help is useful only when it’s not requested of all the time,” Jiang Cheng said.
“I’m not asking how much do you think is appropriate though but anyway,” Wei WuXian swiftly diverted the topic before Jiang Cheng can jump on him. “Since that’s not the case, then what is it? Don’t tell me you’re really here just to… eat with me? That’s fine too, since well, today is a special day after all. Totally reasonable! I’m touched, thank you.”
“It’s not just that,” Jin Ling said. Avoiding Wei WuXian’s eyes, he made a fake cough and slipped his hand into his sleeve, taking out what looked like a jade piece.
It’s not just any jade piece though. This one had shimmering golden rays gleaming on its surface where light stroke it, graceful patterns of Lanling Jin Sect’s emblem flower, the peony, can be seen on it too. Wei WuXian’s mouth fell open.
“Gift,” Jin Ling said as he pushed the jade piece towards Wei WuXian. “For you.”
“…Oh,” Wei WuXian blurted.
Jin Ling snapped his head over, “What’s with that reaction?! Aren’t you at least happy?”
“I…” Wei WuXian stuttered, a rare scene of its own. Then, he rapidly took the jade piece over and cradled it in his hands, thoughtfully yet delicately. “Of course I’m happy, I’m just… wow. Wow. Y-You gave me a gift.”
“Don’t take it the wrong way. This is a return gift to the bell you made me,” Jin Ling said, visibly flustered.
“Return gift? Does that mean you made this jade piece yourself too?” Wei WuXian’s eyes brightened, the intensity in his tone heightened.
Jin Ling refused to answer, but that’s already an answer on its own. Wei WuXian felt so much warmth within him that he could hardly contain himself. Grinning blithely, he showed the gift to Lan WangJi.
“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, look at this,” he said. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
To be honest, an expert like Lan WangJi, who often made things for Wei WuXian himself and who had outstanding crafting skills, can tell with a glance that the craftsmanship of the jade piece was amateurish; some parts were too deep, some were too shallow. Jin Ling had buried his head into his cup, pretending that he’s drinking his tea from the moment Wei WuXian showed it to Lan WangJi, totally embarrassed.
But Lan WangJi nodded. One finger came to trace on the edge of one of the ragged patterns as he spoke, “Suits you.”
Wei WuXian grinned brighter at the comment. He turned to Jin Ling again, who’d looked up from his cup with an expression that looked as if he’s in a state of denial.
“Thank you, A-Ling, I’ll cherish it,” Wei WuXian said.
“So that’s what you’ve been secretly doing these few weeks,” Jiang Cheng said out loud.
“Oh? Jiang Cheng, don’t tell me you have something for me too?” Wei WuXian narrowed his eyes at Jiang Cheng, who rolled his eyes.
“Yes, of course,” he said.
“What is it? Show me, I won’t laugh at you, I promise,” Wei WuXian said enthusiastically.
Jiang Cheng crossed his arms then, straightening his back.
Jiang Cheng wasn’t wrong though. If he was to tell the him two years back, when he was first reborn into the world, that Jiang Cheng had come all the way to Gusu just to have a meal with him on his birthday, he’d probably laugh at himself.
But the truth was, Jiang Cheng was right here now, sharing the same table with Wei WuXian, on the day when he’s born, after not doing so for more than two decades.
That’s already a pretty great gift on its own.
Wei WuXian was stuffed by the time he got back to the Cloud Recesses, just in time for the family banquet, which was a good thing. He wouldn’t say no to the food the Cloud Recesses served but he can’t say that he can eat too much of them. He’d get bored. The family banquet was different though. He was already grateful enough to be invited; it meant that he’s recognized as Lan WangJi’s cultivation partner and was now part of the Lan family, enough to be invited for its very private banquet only qualified to be attended by close family members. So no matter what, he’d need to behave, eat everything to the last bit of it, so as not to get Lan WangJi into troubles and not to take advantage of this position both of them had fought hard for.
Lan WangJi had clutched his hand before they entered the main hall.
“Don’t be nervous,” he told him. Wei WuXian simply responded with a smile and a pat on his hand, telling him enough that he’s fine.
They got seated, greeted the elders, and then waited for the meals to be served. As always, Gusu Lan Sect’s family banquet was so quiet it never failed to give Wei WuXian an impression as if he’s attending a funeral. When the meal was served, one-by-one, to each of the direct descendant of the Lan family, Wei WuXian held his breath, ready to brace him for the sight of green and white, of bitterness and blandness…
…just to realize that the food and soup served on his desk was nothing of those.
Instead, they were all his favourite dishes; heavy-flavoured food, spicy, and the soup was even a Lotus Rib Soup.
He stared bewilderingly at his own food, then peeked at Lan WangJi’s desk, just to realize that his desk was filled with the same food he used to eat in previous family banquets, nothing changed. He looked at Lan WangJi then, who was already looking at him.
Tilting his head, he asked questions through his eyes. But all Lan WangJi gave him a small shake of the head.
I didn’t cook it, was what Wei WuXian heard from him.
Of course he didn’t. He was with Wei WuXian the entire time, how was it possible for him to cook? And that wasn’t helping in soothing Wei WuXian’s tension at all. Even if it wasn’t Lan WangJi who’d cooked it, it’s a truth that only Lan WangJi knew his favourite food, so Lan WangJi definitely had something to do with this.
His speculations were interrupted shortly when Lan XiChen, now out of seclusion and resuming his role as Sect Leader, stood from his seat, ready to give the before-meal speech.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate the day of birth of one of our family members,” he said, voice clear and concise. “In Gusu Lan Sect, we have a tradition to honour our family members on this date, thanking them for being part of the family, their presence, and their decision to stay.” His eyes fell on Wei WuXian, who had now turned into a statue, totally caught off guard by the turn of events. He never knew what occasion this family banquet was for; he didn’t ask Lan WangJi, and Lan WangJi didn’t tell him. If it’s important, surely Lan WangJi will tell him. But little did he know that this banquet was indeed important, but in a way he never anticipated.
“WuXian, we hope you have been living well with us throughout the years. We have definitely seen improvements in our disciples from your practical training and you have definitely helped us out a lot. Please accept this humble celebration we prepared for you,” Lan XiChen smiled at Wei WuXian then sighed a bit. “Unfortunately, we are not competent enough to eat the same food as yours. Forgive us for retreating to our comfort zone.”
Wei WuXian was so astounded he could hardly say anything. But he heard everything Lan XiChen said; every single word. He only had problems trying to believe them.
“Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi called out to him after a short pause, snapping him back to reality.
He chuckled awkwardly, shallowly. “I… Not at all.” He stood from his seat, brought his hands together and bowed at everyone in the hall. “I should be the one to say thank you. Thank you very much for trusting me and accommodating to me. I promise not to cause you any troubles now and in the future.”
Lan XiChen smiled at him, Lan QiRen said nothing but he let loose a soft ‘hmph’ under his breath and those were enough to spread a beam on Wei WuXian’s face.
When he sat, he stared at Lan WangJi from the corners of his eyes as they got started with their meals.
“Lan Zhan, is it you?” he whispered.
Lan WangJi shook his head, looking totally innocent.
“Don’t act, Iー”
“Refrain from speaking when eating,” Lan QiRen’s voice echoed from the end of the hall.
Wei WuXian coughed mutely and returned to his meal. He didn’t know who made these foods and he’s stuffed but he ate all of them anyway, to the last bit of it. They didn’t taste as great as the ones Lan WangJi made for him but Wei WuXian was contented enough.
Because right now, he’s sitting in a family banquet, eating his favourite food, acknowledged by his own family. That’s already a huge honour of its own.
It didn’t take long for Wei WuXian to find out exactly who made the dishes though. Because the answers came looking for him themselves.
Lan WangJi had told him to return first after the banquet, having to talk to his brother and his uncle about some sect matters, and right when he turned a corner heading towards Jing Shi, he immediately bumped into Lan JingYi and Lan SiZhui, both of which looked like they’ve been waiting for him for the entire hour.
“Senior Wei!” Lan JingYi burst out once he saw him.
“Children!” Wei WuXian said.
“Who’s your child!” Lan JingYi refuted but quickly shook his head. “How was it, how was it?”
“What’s this about?” Wei WuXian asked before he broke out into laughter. “Why do you look so nervous?”
“Senior Wei, do you like the food?” Lan SiZhui asked after shaking his head hopelessly at Lan JingYi.
Wei WuXian gave them a suspicious look. “So it’s both of you.”
Lan SiZhui scratched the back of his head clumsily while Lan JingYi lashed out, “What’s with that response? Why do you think we didn’t go for night-hunts with you for a whole week?! We’re stuck in the kitchen the entire week to learn how to cook!”
“A whole week, huh?” Wei WuXian rubbed his chin with a naughty curve on his lips.
“Cooking is so hard, and HanGuang-Junー”
“Ahhhh, yeah!” Lan SiZhui speedily yanked Lan JingYi over and covered his mouth. “Senior Wei, it was hard.”
“How hard?” Wei WuXian asked with a playful smirk.
“Very hard,” both Lan SiZhui and Lan JingYi said in perfect synchronization. It made Wei WuXian laugh, reminded of how Lan WangJi answered the same way too when he asked how hard was cooking for him.
Feeling a squeeze in his heart, he went over to ruffle the two boys on their heads and hugged them close.
“The dishes were really great. Well, not as great as HanGuang-Jun’s, but really, really great. Thank you.”
He heard a relieved sigh in his ears as he released them.
“I should get going, Lan Zhan should be back soon. I have one last meal to consume!” Wei WuXian said.
“After everything you ate?” Lan JingYi asked, eyes wide.
Wei WuXian winked at him, “This one is different. Leave the best food for the last, right?”
With that said, he hopped cheerfully down the corridor, right towards Jing Shi, leaving both the young disciples to stare at his disappearing back, confused.
Lan WangJi came back shortly after with a jar of liquor that Wei WuXian immediately recognized as Emperor’s Smile in his hand. He leapt towards him in no time and gave him a hard kiss on his cheek, one hand playing with the tail of his forehead ribbon.
“Hm, hm, since when did our HanGuang-Jun learn to be so cunning, I wonder?” Wei WuXian spoke suggestively, hand naughtily touching all over Lan WangJi’s body. “Did you learn from the best? From Yiling Patriarch, perhaps? Gotta say that man has got some great teaching skills, even approved by the oh-so-pristine Gusu Lan Sect!
Lan WangJi simply let him be. Still with Wei WuXian hanging his entire body on him, he walked towards the table and set the jar down.
“Spill it now,” Wei WuXian said when Lan WangJi gave him a look, telling him to let him go so he can sit.
“You already know the answers,” Lan WangJi said instead, drawing a chortle out of Wei WuXian.
Wei WuXian set him free then. He rolled towards the table, sat down, and beckoned Lan WangJi over with one finger, which Lan WangJi obeyed.
Once Lan WangJi came close, Wei WuXian smirked as he scratched him under the chin, eyes narrowed, filled with nothing but mischievousness.
“Let’s see if Yiling Patriarch gets his speculations right, shall we?”
“First of all, you were the one who approached Jin Ling to ask him if he intends to come over, didn’t you? Jin Ling mentioned ‘has been working on the jade piece for a few weeks’, and coincidentally, you were in Lanling for a Discussion Conference within the past few weeks too. Jiang Cheng definitely knew about it from Jin Ling and that’s how he ended up there too. Meanwhile, this family banquet… you were the one who requested for one to be held for me? Hm?”
“Not quite right,” Lan WangJi spoke. Wei WuXian gasped.
“Wow, there’s more to it? Come, come, spill it, impress me.”
“I requested for the banquet. Brother suggested the food.”
“ZeWu-Jun?” Wei WuXian’s eyes brightened in disbelief.
Lan WangJi nodded, “He said, since it’s a banquet for you, you should be allowed to eat what you like.”
“Ah, I see. That’s why he was apologizing just now… And your uncle?”
“…He said as long as you continue to perform well, he has no reason to say no,” Lan WangJi said, deadpan.
Wei WuXian rubbed his chest,” Luckily my record is clean since the first day I moved here.”
Lan WangJi smiled thinly, “En, it’s your own hard work.”
“And, you taught SiZhui and JingYi how to cook? That’s why you’ve been out every night since a week ago,” Wei WuXian continued to speculate.
“They told you?” Lan WangJi asked instead.
“How is that possible? They’re afraid that HanGuang-Jun will skin them alive!” Wei WuXian joked.
“They dropped hints though, things like, cooking is hard, how does HanGuang-Jun do it so effortlessly; that’s because you’re used to cooking the same dishes for me, of course,” Wei WuXian pinched Lan WangJi lightly on his cheek. “And also, they’d been absent from my night-hunting sessions for the entire week, which matches with your absence in Jing Shi for an entire week too.”
Lan WangJi nodded with a smile.
“Hehe, since I’ve done so well, don’t you think I deserve more gifts then, HanGuang-Jun?” Wei WuXian inched closer towards Lan WangJi, practically pressing their bodies together.
“Do you still have anything that you don’t have?” Lan WangJi asked, the tease in his tone evident.
Wei WuXian pouted, “Doesn’t mean I can’t have it again. Don’t you think so, HanGuang-Jun?”
Lan WangJi merely smiled without answering. Instead, he took the liquor and put it into Wei WuXian’s hands. Wei WuXian gaped.
“This is your gift?” Wei WuXian asked.
“Give it to me,” Lan WangJi said.
“…And?” Wei WuXian asked carefully.
“I’ll drink it.”
Wei WuXian’s jaws dropped. As if he’d expected that reaction, Lan WangJi continued,
“Last year, on the same day, you told me.”
Wei WuXian could only bring himself to stare amusingly at Lan WangJi before he threw himself onto his man and kissed him all over.
“Lan Zhan, how can you make me love you so much! You’re my best gift!”
Family banquets are great and significant; it’s a proof of bond, of recognition, of promise. But there is also one type of family banquet that is shared only between two persons, behind closed doors.
And in this banquet, only the most intimate interactions are allowed, alongside ones that are the most genuine, and the most heartwarming.
I’m still working on a bigger piece for Wei Ying’s birthday and I’m still not happy with it but I still want to give him something today so here’s a draft05 of a birthday ficlet for Wei Ying. Cries, happy birthday, Wei Ying! And happy 4th anniversary, modao! Please have this humble appetizer first while I prepare the main dish _(:3