Wei Ying & Lan Zhan: Untold Stories - Chapter 1 "Lan Zhan"
As the Young Masters waited for the Inn staff to speedily set up the bath at the far corner of the room, the grip on Young Master Wei’s wrist was firm. Lan Wangji wouldn’t let go, no matter how Wei Wuxian tried to pull away. It was as though the man who held him hostage fears he’ll run away. But if they were to keep count, it was more often Lan Zhan who left him each time.
What possessed HanGuang Jun to ignore his wishes was unprecedented. Since the event of Dafan Mountain, never once in Wei Wuxian’s recollection had 2nd Young Master Lan refused him anything. Even going as far as breaking countless Gusu Lan Sect rules to accommodate his lifestyle. Wei Wuxian was accustomed to doing as he wishes, while Lan Zhan was both his anchor and shield.
Protecting him is one thing. However, this time their reunion was different. Lan Wangji had returned to their school days' habits. Quiet, stubborn and stern. No different than the time when he had dragged him to the Gusu Sect private Library to receive his punishments. Had this man forgotten they are nowhere near Gusu Lan province?
“Lan Zhan, HanGuang Jun...Lan Wangji…I-I...You…”
His words flowed, rippled...unevenly rushed until they ceased.
Common, title, courtesy...do they matter? The man who was more celestial than mortal was all the same. Anxious...nervous Wei Ying’s heartbeat at a rapid pace. Emerged, these unfamiliar emotions rose, but were they really foreign? Or buried far too long to be recognized? Would he dare to ponder?
One step closer, one step back. When Lan Zhan approached, Wei Ying instinctively retreated. The reverse dance which started when they reunited after Yiling Laozu took his revenge continued even now.
The time apart did not stifle the fire, thought to be under control, but if Wei Ying allows it to spread, the forest will be burned down. Once that happened, where would he be?
No barrier, no wall…nothing left but one’s own skin.
After the Inn staff left, Lan Zhan finally released his hold. True to his character, Lan Zhan’s expression remained unchanged as he spoke, “Bathe.”
HanGuang Jun silently made his way to the sitting table and settled himself, with Bichen placed in front of him. Tactically faced away from the steaming warm bath on the far end of the large room. The Lady of the Inn didn’t exaggerate when she promised them the more exclusive room for the night. It was impressive enough for a sitting section, a private bath screen, and a very large bed opposite the windows.
How was it possible this room was available when all the other rooms were booked? Wei Ying wondered in the back of his mind.
Without even realizing, Wei Wuxian touched the wrist that was held moments before. The heat that was once there had turned cold. Not daring to ponder further, he slowly undressed and placed his clothes over the screen divider, stealing a glance or two at the quiet figure on the other side.
He couldn’t help but chuckle internally at how ridiculously he had reacted. He’s no fair maiden. In the past, he had no qualms about bathing in front of others. The shameless man that once was, should be the same as the present time, but something had changed. Since his resurrection, or more precisely, his calamity that was traded by another, Wei Wuxian was more aware of the person who had chosen to stay by his side.
Coldness he could handle, indifference he much preferred. Affection, that familiar feeling had always brought disaster to those he cared for. As foreseen by Zewu Jun, who had warned him in the past not to drag his brother along his chosen path. Despite his efforts to push Lan Wangji away, the prediction came true.
Resigned to such a fate, the Wei Wuxian as of now would rather stay away. The further the better. Yet, he couldn’t help but be drawn to Lan Zhan’s tenderness, often disguised so well behind his aloof attitude.
A part of Wei Wuxian yearned for the reunion, but another part did not. For every banquet will come to an end. He would drink himself to oblivion, but the result would never change. He didn’t dare to ask for more time, because the answer would probably be the same.
When not too long ago, it was Lan Wangji who decided to end their journey on the lush green mountain range. Whichever direction Wei Wuxian chose, the other would have chosen the opposite.
The line was drawn and Lan Zhan was gone. Wei Wuxian should be relieved, should he not? When one was free of guilt, they could move on. Or so he thought.
Lost in his repetitive contemplation, it took Wei Wuxian several minutes to finally climb into the tub. He almost moaned aloud from the feel of the hot liquid, part burning, part easing as it enveloped his tensed muscles. After venturing on the mountainside for many days, this was a paradise of his own. The warmth reminded him of the freshness of Lotus Pier. Though cool the water may be, the fragrance was amiss. Incomparable to the memories stored away, yet, he couldn’t bring himself to return.
Despite the few times, Jin Ling had hinted Wei Wuxian would be welcome back to Lotus Pier, he hadn’t taken up the offer. Grown accustomed to being alone, his presence only remind others of what they had lost. If Wei Wuxian were to return, Jiang Cheng would feel guilty with his presence.
An Ominous Star such as he, could only bring disaster wherever he flees. Of his own choosing, Wei Wuxian resigned himself to a life of solitude. As a wandering Cultivator, like his mother, a path he could not elude.
His destiny, his fate. Repentance for others' sake.
Downstairs, not too far away, a trio of mischievous boys hovered, two in white while the other in yellow. It was a good thing they had booked the whole inn save one room, because passersby would have noticed how terribly they were hiding. None of the boys were trained in spying on others, given their status. Gusu Lan Sect would never resort to such means to gather information from others. LanLing Jin Sect on the other hand, does have such a department given their excessive wealth. However, the youth in yellow was never taught such skills. For good reason, because his patience was already running thin.
“Let’s head up there.”
“We shouldn’t!” the Lan disciples in white cautioned in unison.
“We’re already here. Why not?” Jin Ling asked in annoyance.
“First, no one can hide from HanGuang Jun,” Lan Jingyi stressed. “Second, if we get too close, we’ll be caught as they’ll know it’s us.”
Jin Ling had to roll his eyes before he sneered, “They already figured out it's us who deceived them. How would we know how things progress if we don’t observe? If our plans don't work, we’ll definitely be punished. It wouldn’t change either way, so why not clue into what they’re doing right now.”
However, before Young Master Jin could approach the stairs, Lan SiZhui hastily blocked his path.
“What is it this time?”
“Young Master Jin, it would be highly inappropriate to observe our seniors at this time,” Lan SiZhui attempted to clarify, vague as it was.
Jin Ling folded his arms with the sword in hand, followed by a frown. “We already forced them to share a room so they could talk things out. Why would spying on our Seniors be any more inappropriate?”
For whatever reason, Lan SiZhui’s eyes were averted, before he began to explain in broken sentences, “The thing is...earlier....I-I heard HanGuang Jun...our Senior, I mean Chief Cultivator…”
“Lan SiZhui just spill it!”
“He had the Inn Lady send up a bath for Young Master Wei!” Lan SiZhui squealed.
“A-A bath?” Lan Jingyi stammered, who knows what’s cooking in his head by now.
“You’re serious?” Jin Ling's eyes widened in shock. Obviously, this development was far faster than he had previously thought.
“Yes,” Lan SiZhui’s voice was barely a whisper. A blush blossomed, pink in color but turning scarlet when the other two had the same reaction. “So you see, if we do decide to spy on our Seniors, we should at least wait until Master Wei has finished bathing before...”
“No!” the boys shouted.
“What? Why?” Lan SiZhui was more shocked by the fact that Lan Jingyi and Jin Ling were both in agreement. “It shouldn’t take that long for him to finish his bath. We can check on them...”
However, neither Juniors were listening to Lan SiZhui.
“I've got a plan,” Jin Ling smiled.
“So do I,” Lan Jingyi grinned back.
“Young Master Jin....Lan Jingyi…” Lan SiZhui already dreaded what may come.
“Mistress Jin, can I borrow something from you,” Lan Jingyi jibed.
Eyes narrowed, Jin Ling cocked his head slightly toward his opponent. “If you stop calling me Mistress Jin for a year, she’s all yours,” Jin Ling offered.
“A whole year is a bit long, don't you think?” Lan Jingyi argued. “Besides, you're already thinking the same plan as I.”
“Six months, and you can’t call me Mistress Jin, even behind my back.”