Background: This scene takes place immediately after the end of Episode 50, where Lan Zhan called out "Wei Ying". The continuation of their story untold by the drama for the open-ended ending.
The melody stopped, so did one's heart.
This voice. His voice.
Slowly, cautiously Wei Wuxian turned. Afraid this could be one of his many mirages. Wei Ying didn’t dare hope, or the figment may scatter before his eyes, but this wasn’t one of those times he wishes too hard.
Stood before Wei Wuxian was the man who was more refreshing than the rain of spring. Yet, warmer than fireflies of any summer night. Even those vivid colors of autumn could not compare. After all, his presence...his brilliance was more dazzling than the first breeze of winter snow. But these seasons, do they matter? When the man himself could be a deity reborn upon this mortal world.
Eyes captured, lingered. Held hostage, his breath caught.
Lan Zhan’s image. So vibrant, one’s heart couldn’t help but skip, squeezed. Wei Ying’s eyes stung. Burned from the madness of hoping, dreaming, waiting....
One year, six months, one day, and the hour of three. Had he always been counting?
Han Guang Jun, Chief Cultivator, who was responsible for maintaining the peace of the cultivation world, was also Lan Wangji, the most righteous Jade of Gusu Lan Sect. But right now, on this mountain top, away from the gaze of others and apart from the world, the man who stood before him was Lan Zhan. His Lan Zhan.
Finally. He's here...
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian smiled, blinking back tears.
“Did you come across difficulty?” Lan Wangji asked suddenly.
With a concerned expression, Lan Zhan asked again, “Are you unwell?”
“I’m as healthy as can be? Han Guang Jun, don’t tell me you came all the way here to ask about my well-being?” He smiled at the man who seemed to be rooted in thought, perplexing Wei Wuxian even more by his questions.
But Lan Wangji’s silence only confirmed Wei Wuxian’s suspicion. It was clear; he was here for him. Wei Ying could no longer hold back his excitement. He closed their distance.
“I’m hungry if you’re wondering. Are you going to treat me to dinner?” Wei Wuxian suggested without an ounce of shame, even more so when he teased, “But Lan Zhan, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you have work to do as the Chief Cultivator?”
“I-I...I happened to pass by,” Lan Wangji answered unevenly. Not a lie, but almost. His stammer certainly didn’t help, nor did he slight squeeze on Bichen. Wei Ying quickly caught his hesitation.
Tilting his head slightly, with his usual mischievous smile, observing Lan Wangji’s face, Wei Wuxian probed, “Oh? What are the chances for us to cross paths in a remote mountain? This is the first time leaving Gusu for you in over a year, isn’t it?”
His eyes widened, his lips quivered, “How...How did you know?”
“Lan Wangji, ah Lan Wangji, you don’t really believe that words only travel in one direction, do you? How would it be fair that only you know about my movements?”
Caught in the act, Lan Wangji left those questions unanswered. Wei Wuxian laughed at the ever so steadfast Han Guang Jun now avoiding his gaze. But he wasn’t done with his teasing. Not when it felt like an eternity since he had.
“I would never expect his Excellency to have errands to run these days. Don’t you have disciples to carry out such tasks? What could have prompted Han Guang Jun to leave the peaceful tranquility of Cloud Recesses?”
Ignoring the obvious teasing tone, the now composed Lan Wangji turned to avoid his scrutiny. “Let’s go."
“Where are we going?” Wei Ying gleefully pulled Little Apple, his donkey along, who seemed to be less stubborn because of Lan Wangji’s presence.
“You mentioned before you were hungry,” Lan Wangji tactically changed the subject.
“So you are treating me?” Wei Wuxing forged his surprised. “How generous of you Han Guang Jun! Let’s have dinner and some good wine! I know a great place we could stop by in the city. Lan Zhan, did you know, I haven’t eaten for a few days. If you didn’t show up, I might have starved on this mountain. Before, I was hoping to catch some wild hen up here, but there’s nothing to be found. Unlike Little Apple who can eat grass, there were only wild berries, and he dare to eat half of my stash!”
Lan Wangji’s steps paused momentarily. With a grim expression, he asked, “You were starving?”
“Of course, I was starving. It’s pretty normal for me when I’m incredibly poor like Ah Yuan always said. If you hadn’t arrived today, I might have had--”
“You should have money,” Lan Wangji blurted the statement before he could catch its significance
“Money? Lan Zhan, don’t you know me by now? Where do I have the means to earn money if there’s no Walking Corpses or Beasts around for me to hunt? They’ve been scarce these days, which is quite odd I might add,” Wei Wuxian, with his thick skin, continued the tale of his misfortune as of late, “Just the other day, I tried to get Jin Ling and your boys to lend me some money. And wouldn’t you know it, they all refused! Could you believe it? Even our child Ah Yuan, turned and ran from me. I’m their Senior, and they had the nerve to say they’re short on money! Both oGusu Lan and Lanling Jin are rich beyond means. And lying is against the Gusu Lan sect rules too. Lan Zhan, let me tell you...”
As they descend the mountain, Wei Wuxian continues to rant about the kids and his plans to discipline them the next time he sees them. It took half a day to reach the nearest settlement.
Lan Wangji was quiet during the journey. He was also listening attentively, and neither agreed nor disagreed to Yiling Laozu’s creative punishments for once he captures the brats. However, the real reason was not because Han Guang Jun had no opinion, but he had come to realize the same juniors indeed manipulated him.
For more than a year now, Lan Wangji had dispatched disciples of the Gusu Lan Sect to check on Wei Ying’s movements occasionally. Given his limited spiritual energy, danger could befall him at any time. If Yiling Laozu had come across his past enemies who still held grudges, there was no telling what could happen.
Besides Wei Wuxian’s former enemies, others may seek for personal gain, not so unlike Xue Yang had done in the past. Every time they had parted in the past, Wei Ying always come to be in worse condition than he was before. If history was any indicator, Wei Ying attracted trouble like honey to bees. Left him he must, but it didn’t mean Lan Wangji would leave Wei Wuxian to his own devices.
Since their separation, every half moon’s time, Han Guang Jun sent out at least a pair of disciples to watch over Wei Wuxian. Besides the task of keeping any potential enemies at bay, they also make sure Yiling Laozu had a roof over his head, and plenty of food to fill his stomach.
Proprietary notions aside, Han Guang Jun’s actions would be condemned by the standards of Gusu Lan Sect, but with those fear engrained, Lan Wangji had to take extra measures. Going as far as informing leaders of other Sects and Clans that Yiling Laozu is under the protection of Gusu Lan Sect. This action only earned further reproof from Lan Qiren, but his Uncle could neither forbade nor lecture Lan Wangji on the matter, now that he had become the Chief Cultivator; a position Han Guang Jun took for the sake of his Brother, Lan Xichen, who was still in seclusion after the events of Guiyang Temple.
At first, Lan Wangji thought it would be difficult to send Gusu Lan disciples on a personal task he should undertake himself, but couldn’t. Unexpectedly, the special mission was highly sought after by the juniors who couldn’t wait to leave Cloud Recesses to spend time with Yiling Laozu, who had become their idol since the Second Siege of Burial Mount. Even those who had never met Wei Weixian still wanted to meet the man himself. With each exciting adventures the previous disciples recounted to those left behind, they were more than excited to spend time with the famous Yiling Laozu from the legends.
Thus, with countless eager volunteers for the particular task, the reports arrived at least twice a week on the antics of Yiling Laozu. As time passed, the stories were more outlandish than the next, giving Han Guang Jun the impression the disciples weren’t observing like they were instructed to do.
However, Lan Wangji neither commented on nor reprimanded their behavior on joining Yiling Laozu on his night hunts or wild adventures that piqued his interest. Notwithstanding, stealing, vandalizing, or teasing fair maidens that crossed his path. Han Guang Jun, the once model student of Gusu Lan Sect, continued to rationalize that the additional life events will increase their cultivation and worldly experience. Especially when the reports continue to flood his desk, providing the ease Lan Wangji needs to hold back.
But like Wei Wuxian used to say, “As long as we both are alive, our paths will eventually cross.”
That theory held because things changed a few days ago when Lan Wangji was informed Wei Wuxian was missing and the situation was dire enough to send for help. The news had brought back the same fear and anxiety he had not experienced since the night of Guanyin Temple.
However, without question, the notes were heavily detailed, which was unlike what Lan SiZhui would have customarily written. But Lan Yuan was raised by Han Guang Jun himself, an honest to fault disciple, who never uttered a lie, rarely if ever had he broken the rules of Gusu Lan sect. For that reason, regardless of his suspicion, Lan Wangji did not question Lan SiZhui’s request to make a trip to find Yiling Laozu personally.
Lan Wangji left Cloud Recesses swiftly that day, the first time in eighteen moons, without formally informing his Uncle or Brother of his absence, except for a short, concise note that he had matters to attend.
Following the details of the last location Wei Wuxian was seen, Lan Wangji found his other half on the third day on top of green a mountain range. Like two years ago on another mountain, this song had lured Lan Wangji like a moth to the fire. The melody was no different than the light of the floating lantern, signaling Wei Ying’s presence, drawing Lan Zhan closer with each step. Each breath...and the heart of which it beats.
Initially, Lan Zhan had thought Wei Ying must be calling him to save him from wherever predicament he had caught himself. But there was no monster, nor danger in sight. Not even a slight hint of resentment energy on this sacred mountain. The letter clearly stated Yiling Laozu was heavily injured after a night hunt by the Three-Legged Crow and was carried away to its den. But stood before Lan Zhan was a Wei Wuxian who was in healthy condition. With only signs of missing a few meals, which turned out to be true.
Upon realizing Lan Wangji was deceived, he wasn’t surprised. The apparent lure was drawn, but it was the eager prey who allowed itself to be captured. No one could manipulate Han Guang Jun if he did not want to be.
To be steered and to be guided towards his heart’s desire. The smile that never fails to make his chest flutter, had once again appeared before eyes.
Wei Ying…His Wei Ying
He had wanted this.
For far too long, Lan Wangji chose to stay away. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to roam the world with Wei Ying, but the events of Guanyin Temple had made him realized Wei Ying will never see him as more than a brother in arms. Continuously, consciously or unconsciously, whether it was on the step of the Unicorn Tower when Wei Ying had pushed him away, or Lan Zhan’s choice to seal his spiritual energy to save the one person who is his life.
Wei Ying still did not understand, or worse, did not wish to.
Everything Lan Wangji had done was regarded as a debt unpaid. No actions or words from his part would change Wei Wuxian’s mind. Since Phoenix Mountain, from 18 years ago, he didn’t dare to ask Wei Ying how he felt about him again. All due to the fear of hearing the answer, he doesn’t want to hear.
Once, twice, thrice...Wangji had brought back the one person he wishes to hide from the world outside. But Brother was right -- if the person is not willing, he will not stay by his side.
Afraid to ask, afraid to reveal. There was no other recourse but to have his heart sealed. Only by parting, may one’s heart start wavering.
Wei Ying...do you understand now?
After an early hearty dinner that was more of a banquet than a meal for two, they strolled through the streets as the sun began to set. One in white, while the other is in black, with only a slight hint of blue and red lining, respectively, to distinguish them from the Cultivation Partners, Bright Moon and Frosted Snow of the past.
They continued to chat, more so on Wei Wuxian’s part than the man beside him, since Han Guang Jun barely speaks unless he asked him directly. Even so, the few words spoken were enough to raise Wei Wuxian’s former spirit, which had diminished over time. Half-living since they parted. Today was the first time in a long while Wei Ying felt truly happy. So much so, that he was light-headed, and it’s not because he was drinking.
In fact, the wine was not strong enough to cloud his senses, which he had initially hoped it would. Wei Wuxian could still smell the person beside him, the same sandalwood he had woken up to many times after his worst of times had passed. The first time was after he collapsed from battling Wen Ruohan at Nightless City. Wei Wuxian had woken to the scent of sandalwood that had filled his room. All due to Second Young Master Lan's continued presence, when Lan Wangji took it upon himself to come every night and day to soothe his spirit with Guqin’s melody.
Why had he suddenly become sensitive to Lan Zhan’s aroma back then, Wei Ying had started to wonder. The fragrance was as memorable as Shijie’s Lotus soup. However, while Shijie’s Lotus soup reminded him of home, Lan Zhan’s sandalwood, on the other hand, affected Wei Ying in a way he could neither describe nor understand. The more he smelled it, the more he was enthralled, but was hesitant to know what it means.
Wei Wuxian is not the kind who cares about the propriety of physical contact with others. But forever how long ago it was he could not remember, he had avoided getting too close to Lan Wangji, because of his sandalwood aroma.
Still, the draw was unavoidable, when instinct took hold. By the time they found an inn to retire for the night, Wei Ying could barely restrain his body from leaning against Lan Zhan. Luckily they could retire for the night soon. At least that’s what Wei Wuxian had thought until the owner apologized.
“I am sorry Young Masters, but we only have one room left,” the Lady of the inn informed them.
“One room? Owner, are you fooling us? There are not that many customers, as far as I could tell. How can you be out of rooms when it’s pretty dead here?”
Wei Wuxian was not exaggerating; there was barely a soul around in the quiet inn, which was precisely why they chose this establishment because Lan Wangji never liked crowds.
“Young Masters, before you arrived, a customer booked all the rooms except for the last one,” the owner explained, “At the moment, they are not here, but they have already paid...”