Lo! 't is a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

The Conqueror Worm
BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

CHAPTER ONE

Since his resurrection and move to the Cloud Recess, Wei Wuxian had gone on a fair share of night hunts. Occasionally he would take a week to hunt with A-Yuan and his friends, other times he would tag along with the Yunmeng Jiang disciples in a poorly disguised attempt to patch things up with his brother, but usually, he could be seen hanging off his husband like a leech while they fly too and from cases.

In their youth, Lan Zhan and Wei Ying fought well together, if the Xuanwu is anything to go buy. In their early adulthood they just fought. Now, while they often worked like a well oiled machine, the clumsy Yilling Laozu occasionally had to do some catching up to match his esteemed Hanguang-Jun. It wasn't too bad, Wei Ying just had a very steep learning curve, learning how to walk and run and eat and fight in a new body and all.

So yes, he made mistakes. Sometimes.

It wasn't horrible though, Lan Zhan always had his back, ever so diligent in minimizing Wei Yings predisposition to using himself as a human test subject. His husband is so dutiful, Wei Ying revels in how jealous everyone must be of him. He loves imagining how they must feel, losing a competition they could never win to a walking tornado and being forced to watch him sit pretty next to the unparalleled hunk that was Lan Wangji at every sect discussion. Truly Wei Ying impresses himself with his ability to pull top quality men.

However, sometimes Lan Zhan can't catch all of his shenanigans, and usually they only result in scrapes and bruises, but sometimes Wei Ying comes out a little worse for wear. Once, while he was testing a new talisman on this funny little water ghoul, it had backfired, and rather than dry out the ghoul, sent a lungful of water straight into Wei Yings lungs. (Wei Ying made sure to add drowning on dry land to his list of great accomplishments.)

It wasn't even that bad, Lan Zhan definitely overreacted and Wei Ying didn't even get that sick from it. He only passed out a little after coughing all the water up and his fever after wasn't even as bad as the one he got after falling asleep in the Cold Spring while it was raining. All in all, Wei Ying counted it as a win, he isolated the error in his talisman and he was sufficiently taken care of by his wonderful husband. Honestly, he should half drown himself more often if it meant that the result could be replicated.

Lan Wangji is truly the greatest.

However, for his next trick, Wei Ying's luck seems to have run out.

The original goal of this new talisman was to act as a more hands on way to repel resentful beings. It was supposed to push any ghoul or pesky creature far enough to give cultivators more space if they felt cramped during a fight. Technically, it worked perfectly. The problem stemmed from the fact that Wei Ying and Lan Zhan had been unfortunately positioned between half a dozen corpses and a nice, sheer, cliff face.

Wei Ying had pulled a talisman out of his robes, infused it with spiritual energy and flung it towards the corpses with the cocky swagger of an inventor who knew his project would work. In fact, it was so effective that not only did it absolutely slam the corpses back hard enough into the tree line that two quite literally exploded (yuck), it also seemed to have counted the resentful energy that clung to Wei Ying as a threat and flung him back as well. Back towards where the cliff was, which led to him going over the cliff.

And so Wei Ying was falling off a cliff.

If Wei Ying had a jar of Emperors Smile for every time he had fallen from a height great enough to cause serious injuries, he'd have at least 4 bottles of Emperors Smile. Two bottles if he only chose to count each time he's fallen off a cliff because of his own actions.

He wasn't hurt at least, but the sensation of falling like this made his blood go cold. The wind in his ears, tearing at his robe as he dropped.

It was uncomfortable feeling this again, the dread.

The twisting in his gut only became more painful as his eyes focused on Lan Zhan speeding over the edge of the cliff on Bichen in a mad dash towards him. The naked fear on his husband's face unsettled him to the bone, the panic in those amber eyes. Wei Ying knew Lan Zhan would catch him, he did not doubt his husband, but the look on his face broke Wei Ying's heart in a way it hadn't in a very long time.

Suddenly, Wei Ying wasn't falling because of a mistake. He was back in that moment, the second he let go. He could taste the blood in his mouth and feel the way it clung to his teeth, feel the ache of not having a core return to his bones. Suddenly, Lan Zhan was no longer diving towards him, but half hanging over a black cliff, bloody arm stretched out and screaming Wei Ying's name while Jiang Cheng stood above him, sword in hand.

Wei Ying was back in that moment as if he'd never left and his heart crawled into his throat and threatened to choke him. Then, Wei Ying had been glad to be falling. Now, he was terrified.

He was terrified of leaving Lan Zhan alone again.

Just as soon as the memory came, it dissolved, and in its stead brought a gasping breath into Wei Ying's lungs as his husband slammed into him, arms securing themselves around his waist. Lan Zhan brought them out of a dive and into a controlled fall which eventually morphed into a slow descent. Lan Zhan grabbed him so tightly that Wei Ying could almost swear he had dug his fingers through his skin.

Wei Ying clung to Lan Zhan like he might disappear, burying a hand into the smooth hair at the base of his scalp while his other hand clutched at Lan Zhan's shoulder. It must have been painful, but judging by how crushing his husbands arms were, Wei Ying didn't think he'd mind. He didn't think he'd mind at all.

"Wei Ying!"

Wei Ying dropped his head to rest in the crook of Lan Zhan's neck and closed his eyes tight to keep tears from spilling. "I'm here." He gasped before pressing a few kisses into his husband's skin, his rapid pulse thrumming against his lips. "I'm here."

When they reached the base of the cliff, Lan Zhan wasted no time in dismounting his sword, practically dragging Wei Ying with him. He barely made it two steps before his knees gave out and they dropped into the grass, unwilling to let each other go. Wei Ying wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, silent, just breathing each other in. He let the scent of sandalwood take his mind away and he didn't come back until he could feel his husband's erratic heartbeat through the fabric of his robes.

"Lan Zhan?" He whispered as he released his grip on the other man's hair, bringing his hand forward to cup his jaw and put space between them.

Lan Zhan's face had lost its composure, his usual control of his expressions having thawed away in his panic leaving behind blotchy red cheeks and misty eyes. His jaw was clenched so tight Wei Ying thought his teeth might break and his shoulders shook with pent up tension. Wei Ying's heart seized and he pressed a quick kiss to Lan Wangji's lips before bringing his other hand up to gently cup his husband's face.

"Oh A-Zhan, it's okay. It's okay, you got me."

It was then, all at once, that the dam broke and the pain and fear that Lan Zhan had been holding on surged forwards. Crystalline tears trailed down his cheeks and he gasped in a breath before sobbing out Wei Ying's name with such force that it broke Wei Ying's heart even further.

"Wei Ying. Wei Ying. Wei Ying."

"I know," He replied, using his thumbs to brush tears away from Lan Zhan's cheeks and only succeeding in smudging them over the smooth skin. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

"No, no apologies" Lan Zhan stuttered as he shook his head, leaning forward to let his forehead rest against Wei Ying's collar bone and tilting his head almost as if he was trying to get closer to Wei Ying's heart. "Do not leave me. Don't go where I can't follow."

Wei Ying shook his head, moving his hands to pet his husband's head in an attempt to comfort him. "I won't. Not again, I promise."

A sigh escaped Lan Zhan's lips before he moved up, staring into Wei Ying's eyes before pulling him into a bruising kiss. Wei Ying's eyes widened in momentary surprise before he melted into Lan Zhan, letting his husband take what he needed from him.

Lan Zhan's arms moved to cradle Wei Ying, one hand resting on the small of his back while the other cupped the back on his head, and he began to lean forwards, pushing Wei Ying down to lay against the ground. Teeth nipped against his lips in the way Lan Zhan knew would make Wei Ying gasp and gave Lan Zhan the advantage to press his tongue into Wei Ying's welcoming mouth. The weight of the other man against him pushed his panic down and Wei Ying let himself drown in the ocean of his husband's love.

A groan freed itself from Wei Ying's chest and was swallowed up by Lan Zhan's mouth. The other man let more of his weight rest against Wei Ying, pressing him into the ground in a way that made Wei Ying's blood sing. Hooking one leg around the back of Lan Zhan's thigh, Wei Ying pulled his husband down against him, relishing in the feeling of Lan Wangji bearing against him and the deep groan that rumbled against his chest.

Wei Ying broke the kiss and smirked up at Lan Zhan, his hands wandering through his silky hair in search of the tails of his forehead ribbon so he had something to fiddle with. Lan Zhan merely stared down at him, lips red and eyes solely focused on the man beneath him. Wei Ying couldn't help but smile wider, leaning up to press kisses and light nips against his husband's mouth and jaw. The tears had stopped but the skin under his eyes was red and irritated and Wei Ying had never seen a more beautiful person in his entire life.

He gave the ribbon a playful tug before letting his head fall back against the ground. "This lowly cultivator thanks Hanguang-jun for saving him once again."

Lan Zhan leaned down and pressed a feather light kiss to Wei Ying's forehead. "Mn. Always."

Wei Ying smiled even wider. He loved this man more than words could express. "I really am sorry for frightening you."

Lan Zhan sighed and sat up with a small shake of his head. "No need." He softly dismissed as he began to straighten out his hair before moving to flatten his robes. Wei Ying gave a pout, pushing out his bottom lip as he looked up at Lan Wangji. Despite knowing it wasn't the time and that neither of them were too keen on completing their 'everyday' right at this moment, Wei Ying couldn't help but tease his Lan-er-gege. "Does my husband not want to ravish me? Surely being out in the woods isn't scaring you off?" Wei Ying's eyes gained a devious look to them as he lifted the leg that was still trapped between Lan Wangji's legs and pressed it against his husband. "It wouldn't be the first time."

Lan Zhan froze in his ministrations before shooting a look at Wei Ying that poorly concealed his want. "We must rejoin the Juniors."

Wei Ying whined and closed his eyes, turning his head to the side as he continued to pout. "Those brats are fine, we can meet them at the inn later." Wei Ying felt his husband stand up and peeked an eye open to give a half hearted glare at him that held absolutely no heat. Lan Zhan was back to looking like his perfect, godlike, self once again and Wei Ying gave a pathetic wail as he watched him collect Bichen and return it to its sheath. "You hate me! This is my punishment for using unfinished talismans again, isn't it? Are you going to make me copy the rules when we get home?"

An exasperated 'Wei Ying' cut though his whining and said cultivator shot up to watch as his husband began to walk in the direction of their meeting place with the juniors.

Wei Ying let his shoulder slump and started pulling grass out of the earth. What was the point of kissing him like that if Lan Zhan didn't intend to completely take him apart after, or at the very least entertain Wei Ying for a little longer?

"Do not slouch."

Wei Ying gasped and whipped his head up to stare at the retreating back of his husband. "How dare you!" He shrieked, grabbing another handful of grass to toss in the direction of his husbands mocking head only for the breeze to blow it right back into Wei Ying's gaping mouth.

Sputtering, Wei Ying stood up and stomped after Lan Zhan and quickly caught up to the others' sedate pace, jumping onto his husband's back and hanging onto him like a barnacle does a pier. Lan Zhan stumbled a little, peering at Wei Ying over his shoulder before shifting his husbands weight around and using his free hand to hold one of his thighs, completely content to entertain his husband's childish actions.

Wei Ying felt him press a kiss to his wrist and gave a little 'hmpf' before dropping his chin to rest against Lan Zhan's shoulder. "You're lucky I love you or else you'd be sleeping on the floor, mister."

The hand on his thigh gave a squeeze in response as Lan Zhan looked over his shoulder at Wei Ying once more. "Love you."

A blush appeared across Wei Ying's cheeks and he kissed a slightly pink ear before closing his eyes and returning to his exaggerated pout. "Onward Lil'Blue."

Wei Ying could swear he heard Lan Zhan roll his eyes.