Not gonna lie, I started seeing the CUTEST anime boy on my twitter timeline earlier this year and eventually tracked it down to the animated telling of Mo Dao Xu Shi, which…
Look, that anime was consumed in two days. I was hooked.
Then I made the mistake of finding the fan translation of the novel. Consumed. I watched The Untamed. I literally cannot get enough of this fucking story because it yanks on my heart in every which way.
Here’s some horrible domestic tooth rotting fluff because I’m writing the smut but the smut needs to simmer like pork rib and lotus root soup. Wouldn’t want there not to be enough seasoning, would you?
Lan WanJi barely hears his own footsteps as he drags himself slowly across the familiar path. His ears are ringing, the whole world just a buzz, a hiss, the endless sting of his wounds screaming out at him. Screaming at him that he was wrong. That this is wrong.
Closing his eyes he can dull the buzzing just a bit, but the only thing that replaces the noise is his brother’s voice. Lan XiChen had come to dress his wounds, he whispered in his most gentle of voices.
“Wanji… they raided the burial mounds. Wei WuXian… Young Master Wei is gone.”
He finished changing his dressing in silence, neither of the twin jades making so much as a gasp of exertion.
“I’m so sorry Wanji.”
That was three days ago. Two days ago he rose at 5am, the sunlight barely starting to break the evening fog. Bichen was unsheathed as he crossed though the winding path leading to the outside world. Despite his wounds he walked upright, his eyes never deviating from the path ahead, regardless of stares.
He tried to mount Bichen but found it of no use. The pain of walking, of standing unfaltering, was all he could manage as each shift of his hips to move his legs released another wave of agony that rocketed across his spine. Every drop of his core was holding the fragile shards of him together.
And on the second morning, without rest, food, or water, he walked the path up the burial mounds. The weeds and grasses we’re trampled flat, the path meant for two trampled under the footfalls of an army. Over a hundred stone statues had been constructed here in haste as wards. They dot the landscape. Lan WanJi pays them no mind.
The climb however is difficult, and it takes until nightfall for him to cross into the clearing that once was full of people. There once was the remains of the Wen clan here, carving out a tiny existence. The air was thick with the smell of ash. Buildings, homes, sheds and shelters that once dotted the ground were nothing but piles of black.
Lan WanJi marched slowly onwards. The Demon-Slaughtering Cave was just out of view. The sound of a child giggling amongst working, rambling voices, were only memories on the wind.
And there, as he turned to the place Wei Ying called ‘home’ did his worst fears come true.
His long legs knocked against the stone archway’, arms unnaturally twisted and slack. The wind did not toss his black hair wildly, undone from it’s messy bun, the red hint of a ribbon barely left attached.
Bichen flew forward to sever the rope wrapped around his neck and his body collapsed into Lan WanJi’s waiting arms. Bichen clattered to the ground. His trembling fingertips brushed back the inky mane that hid his face, one eye swollen. His sharp features were slashed and mangled. As the hiss in his ears started to become the snow in his vision, he traced the chapped, cracked lips with his thumb. Lips he had desired and craved and stolen, now cold under his touch.
Morning. Lan WanJi slowly tried to arrange Wei WuXian so he could stand, but as the wounds on his back began to stretch and tear again, he could just barely drape him over his shoulder to bring him inside.
Wei WuXian’s palace had not been spared in the raid. Everything here was again broken and trampled, just like the body of their master.
Lan WanJi arranged his corpse on his bed. He was gentle as he moved the broken arms and legs so he laid gracefully. Stagnant water found nearby took most of the grime of war away from his face.
Lan WanJi pulled him up into his arms to comb back his hair again, to tie the red ribbon around a messy bun, to make him look just so. He laid him back down again.
For a minute, Wei WuXian looked as if he was only sleeping, that in no time at all his lips would quirk into a half smile and he would call out his name.
Lan WanJi knew better. He knew that this cold body would never move again.
His love would never move again.
His heart demanded that he stayed, watching the corpse of Wei WuXian until the darkness of night took over. Sometime in the night he laid on his side, hallucinating the thin waist of Wei WuXian shifted, that he was taking in shallow breaths that made his chest rise and fall.
5am. His ears were still ringing. Wei WuXian was still dead.
Lan WanJi removed his ribbon. He smoothed it out for a moment. It was only a few weeks ago he had confessed to him. The dam on his emotions let go a storm of how, why, when. He begged on his knees to let him be hidden.
I do not exist without you.
Wei WuXian kept shoving him away. Even as he stood, blood running rivers across his white robes, his elders clinging to their lives at his feet, Wei WuXian pushed him away.
Still, he loved him.
Wei WuXian was his reason to exist. As long as he was, Lan WanJi could be.
That was all gone now. Again he lifted Wei WuXian up, again he combed his fingers though his hair. Lan WanJi had dreamed about this hair. This time he pulled the red ribbon out and replaced it with his forehead ribbon instead. He looked all wrong with the white and blue adorning his hair, mayhaps at another time it would have been a curious change of pace to see him prancing about with it. He settled him back down, his broken hands resting over his chest.
“Beautiful.” He whispered out loud, forcing the sound from his throat. He folded the stained, frayed, crimson ribbon around in his hands for a minute before affixing it around his own forehead. He laid next to Wei WuXian, never daring to touch him as he settled.
With all the remaining strength he had in his arms, he shakily pulled Bichen from his sheath. He didn’t even look, staring at the profile of Wei WuXian sleeping eternally next to him. Bichen rolled off the bed, it’s beautiful blade streaked in red.
A crimson bloom erupted across Lan WanJi’s stomach. There was no room for further pain in his body, he barely felt the blade as it joined the weeping wounds on his back. As the world around him started to grow quiet and dark, tears gently falling, he hummed softly the song he wrote for the boy with the wild smile, entranced from the moment they had met.
I love you, Wei Ying.
“Lan Zahn, wake up!”
Darkness, a candle in the distance barely broaching the gloom.
Concerned eyes hovering over him.
“Lan Zahn, you’re crying!” Wei WuXian. His hair was sleep tossed and wild as his small hands came down around Lan WanJi’s face to wipe away his tears. “Lan Zahn say something, you’re scaring your husband.”
His husband was scanning him from head to toe. Lan WanJi could feel the warm spot on his chest where he had just awakened from.
“Nightmare.” Lan WanJi managed to say as he tried to shake off the haze of his dreams. He sat up, Wei WuXian sliding away. He barely noticed that he got out of bed, to kneel at his side, a small cup of water in his slightly trembling hands.
“Drink.” Wei WuXian didn’t have a hint of the playful glimmer across his face. It was nothing but worry, from his dark eyes setting on him, to the thin line his lips made.
“Mn.” The water did help wash some of it away, though, his heart threatened to explode from his chest. “Wei Ying.”
Wei WuXian was alive, warm, breathing, his face unbroken.
“I’m right here you silly man.” There was a playful squeeze of his arm, the feeling of his weight shifting back onto the bed. “Usually I’m the one with the nightmares. Did you dream about me sneaking Emperor’s Smile into the Cloud Recesses?” Finally a little glint of a smile returned to his lips.
Ever since their wedding, ever since the entire debacle with Jin GuangYao was finished, ever since their life had gotten quiet and domestic, Wei WuXian was infrequently plagued with nightmares. Sometimes he would wake up screaming, other times crying, but every time he would find himself curled into the arms of Lan WanJi, who would hum Wangxian softly as he ran his fingers along his husband’s back until his mouth started running again. It was mostly memories from the Sunshot Campaign, his adoptive parents, his sister. It worried Lan WanJi the most when Wei WuXian’s face would sink into his chest, to breathe deeply of the sweat and sandalwood and he wouldn’t say a word as the gentle notes of their song put him back to sleep.
“Do you want to tell me what scared the great and mighty Hanguang-Jun?” Wei WuXian rained tiny pecks along Lan WanJi’s shoulders as he wiggled his way into his lap. “The fearsome Yiling Patriarch will come to save the day.”
“Shameless. I know, I know.” His lithe hand waved dismissively in the air. “Did I shave off Lan QiRen’s goatee again? That would be a face to scare anyone.”
“I found you at the burial mounds.” Lan WanJi hugged Wei WuXian to his chest. He felt his heart thundering against him. “I followed you.”
“Lan Zhan.” Wei WuXian knew exactly what he was saying between the ten words he could manage to make.
“Wei Ying.” He took a deep breath. “I cannot be without you.”
“Lan Zhan! My heart! You promised to warn me!” He pulled himself free to feign displeasure before a genuinely beautiful smile bloomed across his lips. “Leave the dreaming of the past to me, hm? Your husband is right here beside you.” He tugged at Lan WanJi’s reddening ears. “What would I do without you, hm? Could you imagine me being called back without Hanguan-Jun? I’d be…” A visible shiver ran through Wei WuXian. “Fairy would of eaten me.” He grabbed the tail of the red ribbon in his hair and playfully whipped it forward “After Jiang Cheng.”
Even though he was usually adorned in red accents, Lan WanJi would never forget the way he looked in his red wedding robes that matched the red ribbon in his hair as they took their bows. He had a queer little blush that had bloomed across his cheeks the entire day, only fading when they were both sweaty and spent, the beautiful scarlet robes left in a heap.
Wei WuXian would never let Lan WanJi know that he too had the same blush across his normally cold face, and a gentle upturn of his lips that was more valuable to Wei WuXian than anything else in the world. This same little upturn flashed across his face briefly now as the remaining hiss of his dream finally fizzled into the mist.
“Mn.” His husband, his Wei Ying, was alive and safe in his arms.
“Lan Zahn, Lan Zahn let’s go wake up ShiZui and JingYi, we’ll go get some peanuts and roast up a pheasant or two, we can drink and let the night fade away in the back mountains.”
“Alcohol is forbidden in the Cloud Recesses.” Lan WanJi smiled as he rattled off the clan rule, even though Wei WuXian is not subjected to them. He needed to be spoiled. He can break every last rule if it means he rests his head on the bed they share for the rest of their lives. “Tomorrow.”