A vision…a time capsule of one’s past.
Often times, they are a manifestation of one’s unconscious thoughts. The kind that the mind wishes to fulfill, scenarios that could or could not happen that are allowed to run their course.
Other times, they’re memories -- forgotten, fragmented, or even changed. Bringing forth reveries that could be doubtful, but the emotional attachment was still the same.
Without these reminders, visions, inventions or imaginations wouldn’t exist. Most importantly, human connections may cease. We need dreams for growth as much as we do for daytime ponderings.
But there are times when dreams bring sleepless nights to those whose hearts were no longer the same - damaged, from either fear or tears. Those memories were brought to the surface whenever consciousness was lost.
The Wei family he was born from, the Jiang Sect which had adopted him, and the Wen clan he chose to protect. Warmth, shelter, and purpose.
From the time of his resurrection, not for a single day had he dreamed of anything other than his lost families. These dreams started with laughter, teasing tones and comforting words. All the good times he wished to return to, until his worst fear was brought forth. In those moments, when the end was near - their voices would begin to fade, their fingers slipping from his outstretched hands - that’s when the ghosts of the past would be resurrected, covered in crimson blood within the smoke of darkness.
The stronger the emotions, the more vivid the visions.
A punishment well deserved. After all, he had killed thousands of innocents at Nightless City.
Awake, Wei Wuxian could smile, laugh and play, but when evening arrived, his demons came back to haunt him. Until the day he took his last breath, these vengeful spirits would never let him rest.
However, there was an exception. Lan Zhan’s melody, the light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing could dissipate the resentful energy like HanGuang Jun’s tune. His music was the strongest medicine, and admittedly, Wei Wuxian’s only cure.
Until the day Lan Wangji left him on that mountainside. Since then, the nightmares had returned.
On a few occasions though, when Lan SiZhui was present, out of desperation, he had asked the youth to play HanGuang Jun’s tune. Although the song did not suppress the nightmares completely, it was enough to ease him to sleep for the most part. That’s when Wei Wuxian realized - the original Master is still the best - but there was no way he would crawl back to Gusu to ask HanGuang Jun to help him sleep.
Wei Wuxian could only imagine HanGuang Jun’s reaction if he were to show up, demanding the Chief Cultivator to play his original song, like a child’s request for a bedtime story. A delicate attachment he did not wish to form, but still yearned.
Forever long, he always knew, he missed the music of Second Young Master Lan’s; the distinctive notes, the powerful rhythm, the waves that pushed and pulled, easing his dissociative mind and saving him from the abyss of his own making.
Gentle as his touch, soft as his smile, his notes floated freely among the floating lanterns of their youth. Wei Wuxian wanted, he still craved. The music of Guquin’s song, the name he had yet known.
But then, God must have taken pity on him, because now within the dreamlike world, the song he never thought he could ever hear again, was playing in the back of his subconscious. Plagued by the past that refused to let him go, returned was the melody that took away his woe.
Half conscious, the panicked Wei Wuxian reached forth, a familiar world appeared within the haze. “Lan Zhan!” he cried.
A hand instantly caught his, the brilliant light at his tunnel’s end appeared. “Wei Ying.”
Bright, so bright the high mountain’s light beamed. Its god had chosen the most deserving form, the radiance almost blinded his sight.
Wei Wuxian squinted, trying to clear his head with a shake, but he soon felt a cool cloth on his face. Someone was wiping away the cold sweat on his forehead. “Lan Zhan?” he questioned again, afraid it would be just a wishful dream, like it always was before.
“I’m here,” the quiet voice confirmed again, bringing comfort he had almost forgotten.
Safe, he was safe. As long as Lan Zhan was here, everything would be fine.
After he finished tending to Wei Wuxian and placed the neatly folded cloth on the table, Lan Wangji turned to ask, “How are you feeling?”
By now, Wei Wuxian had fully regained consciousness, although his head still ached and his voice remained rough. When he tried to rise he felt Lan Wangji’s arm around him, easing him up.
The closeness made him nervous, and when he’s nervous, he chatters. Offhandedly, Wei Wuxian rambled, “Like I was trampled by hundreds of living dead, kicked in the ass by Apple...rolled off the steps of Koi Tower, any of those, take your pick.”
Instantly, he felt Lan Wangji freeze at the brusque tone of his answer. Wangji’s head lowered, the arm around his back shook slightly. Wei Wuxian started to say more, but instinct told him not to. He continued to help him into a sitting position. The action was familiar, hence Wei Wuxian allowed HanGuang Jun to perform his check-up without question.
However, the man was more attentive this time around. Not only did he check his pulse in silence, but he also undressed him without a word. For unknown reasons, even to himself, Wei Wuxian bit his tongue and remained passive, allowing Lan Wangji to do what he must. Which he regretted soon after, because as it turns out, HanGuang Jun wasn’t just healing or giving him spiritual energy, because the man also took upon himself to clean his body, wiping down the excessive sweat with the cloth in hand.
Speechless, Wei Wuxian’s face began to flush. When he was unconscious, it would be understandable, but this time he was fully awake, aware, and could perform the act himself. He wasn’t an invalid, was he? He still hadn’t had the chance to move around, because Lan Wangji was still not done playing nursemaid.
Wei Wuxian had to admit, Second Young Master Lan was an expert in everything he did, even when washing another’s body. He tried to not pay heed, but it was more difficult as time passed. His fever was obviously getting worse as the dizziness had returned. Could he be sicker than he thought?
Suddenly, Lan Wangji stopped, leaned closer, and slid his hand around Wei Wuxian’s neck.
Wei Wuxian gulped, his heart stopped. Awake, he was fully awake!
Too close, with their faces almost touching, just the tip of their noses brushed, lingered. Wei Wuxian gasped like he had touched fire and immediately pulled back, but Lan Wangji pressed their foreheads together. Wei Wuxian shut his eyes, he didn’t know why, but he did. The more he breathed, the more out of breath he became. Maybe he would faint after all.
With a quivering voice, he stuttered, “Ha-Ha-HanGuang Ju-Jun…”
“You’re burning again,” Lan Wangji remarked.
“Huh?” Wei Wuxian blink, once, twice, and a few more times. Regaining his senses once the words finally registered.
Isn't it your fault my fever got worse? And who the hell taught you to check body temperature this way? It was your brother, Lan Xichen wasn’t it? Zewu Jun, the brother complex enthusiast!
But those outbursts didn’t have the chance to leave his mouth because the thought of Lan Xichen pressing foreheads with his brother was a captivating vision to behold.
So beautiful in fact, Wei Wuxian’s head remained in the clouds with those brotherly love images when Lan Wangji unexpectedly released him, and said, “You will need more days to recover from the fever.”
Wei Wuxian was still debating if this was an actual dream when Lan Wangji began to help him put back on the undergarments, which were obviously not Wei Wuxian’s.
Tainted by blood and resentment energy, Crimson and the Black are the only fitting colors for Yiling Laozu. While White, the color of the Gusu Sect, is a virtuous color, pure and righteous.
The white cloth was not quite transparent, but Lan Wangji hesitated before he tied the sash. His questioning gaze lingered on the scars on Wei Wuxian’s chest. We Wuxian felt a stronger need to cover his body and immediately pulled the collar together to cover the scars.
"Old injuries,” Wei Wuxian answered the questioning eyes.
"Those aren't old."
"How would you know? Besides, they’re already healed. What makes you think they’re not old? It's not like…” He paused in thought for a moment as the memory returned. “Oh right, you did heal me after the Koi Tower incident. Second Young Master Lan, don't you feel embarrassed checking me all over? Aren’t you too thorough?"
His eyes remained firm. Ignoring Wei Wuxian’s jab, Lan Wangji didn’t break, "Wei Ying.”
In truth, Wei Wuxian had lost track of the number of times he had had that talk with every single Gusu Lan disciple sent his way. He knew if he didn't, Lan Wangji would just find other means to keep him safe. He owed the man enough as it was.
"But… it'll be lying. Our code…"
"It's not lying when you're omitting certain information."
"But...Master Mo..I mean Senior Wei…"
"HanGuang Jun told you to look after me. What will he do if he finds out you didn't complete your task?” Wei Wuxian asked, expertly playing his cards. “Imagine the punishments he’ll impose if he were to find out the truth? You wouldn’t want everyone here to be punished as well, would you?”
Of course, he wasn’t playing fair. But when had he ever? Gusu Disciples are easily manipulated, judging by their past leaders.
"Report back what you need to, but don't tell him about this."
Looking back now, they did not break their promise. The other white lie was to bring HanGuang Jun to him for an unknown reason. They must be getting him back for the number of times he teased and tricked them. But whatever the real reason was, he wouldn’t want them to be punished for what he asked them to do. Pushing children in front of arrows is not his style.
After much reflection, Wei Wuxian confirmed, "Don't punish them. I made them swear not to tell you.”
"You didn't need to know,” Wei Wuxian shrugged, which caused Lan Wangji to look grimmer than before.
Earlier, Wei Wuxian felt something was off when he woke. The person and this place. He didn’t pay attention before because of Lan Wangji’s undivided attentiveness that glued him in his place. Glancing around, he took in the familiar surrounding and its scent. Sandalwood…
“Gusu? Weren’t we at the inn?”
“You have a fever,” Lan Wangji answered simply.
“I know that, but why did you have to bring me back to Gusu?” Wei Wuxian questioned. From the Inn, it’s at least a two-day trip to reach Gusu. To bring him back, arrangements must be made. Wei Ying couldn’t understand why it would be necessary to go through such a hassle over a fever.
Besides, an alarming thought crossed his mind. “Your Uncle,” Wei Wuxian said, “He wouldn’t be happy with me here. Lan Zhan, does he know? Or did you sneak me in again?”
“You were unconscious for three days. Your pulse was weak. Returning to Gusu to recuperate was a wiser choice. Uncle, he is aware of your presence,” Lan Wangji assured.
“Ah...I made trouble for you again, didn’t I?” Wei Wuxian gave a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Of course, I did. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be Yiling Laozu.”
No wonder HanGuang Jun looked so grim. The Elder Lan Qiren must have given his nephew a hard time because of him. Again, Lan Wangji was placed in a difficult situation. Wasn’t it enough that Lan Wangji endured those whip lashes sixteen years ago?
“It’s no trouble.” Lan Wangji's tone was reassuring, but Wei Wuxian doubted the truth of his words because his worried expression never diminished.
“Why do I always become this weak and pathetic around you?” Wei Wuxian wondered aloud. “If I hadn’t collapsed, you wouldn’t have brought me back. Again, I’m really--”
Lan Wangji abruptly covered his hand, and said firmly, “The fault was mine. I’m responsible for this.”
“You? Why would it be your fault?” Wei Wuxian asked, puzzled, but he was more conscious of the way Lan Zhan’s hand was squeezing his, yet he didn’t have the nerve to look at them. When has Second Young Master Lan ever been this personal?
An uneasy expression crossed Lan Wangji’s face. For a moment, it seemed like he would answer, but HanGuang Jun remained silent. Which only left one obvious conclusion.
Guilt, that’s probably it, Wei Wuxian confirmed silently.
His chest tightened at the thought.
A friend like HanGuang Jun was more than deserving, Wei Wuxian thought. After all these years, this righteous man never stopped blaming himself for standing by his friend's side. But he wasn't some delicate maiden who needed to be rescued and sheltered. He may be shameless, but he still had his pride.
Furthermore, he had to release his friend from his guilty conscience.
“I overestimated my limits,” Wei Wuxian admitted cheerfully. “I shouldn’t be drinking that much, to begin with. After all this time, I managed to make a fool of myself in front of you. HanGuang Jun, you don’t owe me anything. My collapse and running this fever has nothing to do with you. Let’s forget it, shall we?”
“Forget?” Lan Wangji echoed, his face had frozen. His eyes seemed slightly bewildered as though he had been slapped. His hand squeezed over Wei Wuxian’s, not enough to make him wince in pain but still a tight hold. He did not dare to pull back, because Wei Wuxian had a feeling he would elicit another aggrieved response if he did.
At that moment, Wei Wuxian couldn’t fathom why he received such a horrid reaction from his attempt to lessen HanGuang Jun’s guilt. Nonetheless, he had to fix it quickly because the pained look on Lan Zhan’s face made Wei Wuxian himself feel like he was also slapped.
His mind fumbled for a better explanation, “I-I mean...the thing is, you have done more than enough for me. Not only did you nurse me back to health, but you also offended your dear Uncle by bringing me back to Gusu. Lan Zhan, you don’t have to do anything anymore. Stop blaming yourself for what happened before. Whatever occurred, we should let it go-go...”
Oh, no..that did not work either.
If Wei Wuxian had slapped him before, this time, his words definitely shed blood. He might as well have stabbed the man, because Lan Wangji’s face had gone white! Even whiter than the pearl of the blue sea.
What to do, what to do, what to do!
If he said another wrong word, he might kill Lan Wangji on the spot. For reasons unknown, his mouth was making things worse between them. Wei Wuxian was once one of the smoothest talkers among the Young Masters of his time. Even HanGuang Jun, the stoic man of the Cultivation World, listened to his demands.
Had his skills become rusty over the years? Impossible! Everyone had fallen for his charms. Look at all the disciples of countless Sects doing his bidding and following his orders without question.
Wei Wuxian was still screaming in his head for a solution when a herd of rabbits in white garb appeared.
“I was so worried.”
“You’re finally awake!”
“You didn’t die!”
Wei Wuxian couldn’t believe his luck. The distraction he needed. “Sizhui? Jingyi? Everyone?”
“Senior Wei, I’m so happy you wake,” Lan SiZhui hopped over and threw himself across Wei Wuxian and gave him a tight hug.
“A Yuan...You know I am not young anymore,” Wei Wuxian choked out the words the best he could. “You’re going to kill me someday with that strength of yours.”
Sheepishly, Lan SiZhui immediately stepped back and asked, “Senior, are you hungry?”
“Now that you mentioned it, I am starving,” Wei Wuxian laughed, feeling more at ease now that the disciples had scurried in like a pile of rabbits to greet him.
After hearing that, a few disciples left to bring him more tonic, while others said they would make him his favorite dishes. Some even brought over fresh bedding and clean clothes. Seeing how obedient they were doing everything he asked, Wei Wuxian, the forever spoiled patient, couldn't help but sneak in a request for Emperor's Smile, but due to his health, they promised they would treat him as soon as he recovers.
Despite the contrast between Gusu Lan and Yunmeng Jiang Sects, this warm atmosphere with loving voices and nurturing environment reminded Wei Wuxian of home.
Home...he bemused, who would have thought that would be Cloud Recesses of all places?
“We were all worried about you,” someone among the crowd spoke.
Wei Wuxian couldn't tell who it was, because the rabbits all started to look the same after a while, so he could only ask, “How long have I slept?”
“Today will be the tenth day,” Lan Jingyi chimed in from beside Lan Sizhui.
“It's the tenth day? It’s really the tenth! Did I win? Senior Wei woke up today. I won!” a female disciple cheerfully called out behind the herd.
And…. the crowd falls silent. It didn’t take long for her words to register.
If looks could kill, HanGuang Jun’s glare was enough to scare the wits from these innocent souls. These mischievous rabbits had turned whiter than the snowy garb they wore. Not only did they break the Gusu Lan rules of gambling...they also bet on their Master's special friend’s well being.
Luckily, there was someone who wasn’t afraid of their Master. The person in the room they had wagered against. All eyes begged him for mercy.
Wei Wuxian cleared his throat and asked, “So, where is my cut? Pay up or endure HanGuang Jun's punishment. You chose.”
He finished the bargain with a playful wink, followed by a smug smile they all knew well.
They were reminded again that this was the powerful Yiling Laozu, the Senior Wei they respected, and most importantly, the dirt poor Wei Wuxian they came to love.
Rescued them he did, but with a price, of course, since he was no saint.
At the Hall of Silence, they laughed and joked, the cheerful noise rang through the tranquility of Cloud Recesses, breaking countless rules imposed by the founders of Gusu. But no one cares, because it’s not every day the Disciples could express their happiness to their heart's content.
But it wasn’t just them who broke the rules.
Everyone notice...everyone saw. Unless one is blind, which none were, yet, no one spoke of it. At least not for now.
For the span of an incense burn, during the impromptu reunion - while surrounded by dozens of disciples, as they were chattering nonstop, even when each Disciple was giving the senior they admire an affectionate, but awkward side hug….
And still, not until after the last disciple departed...
Not once...did HanGuang Jun released Senior Wei’s hand...
Auther's Note: We're back to Gusu, one of my favorite paradises, however, there would be no way I could survive their strict four thousand plus rules. At least the bunnies there are cute and mischievous. *(^_^)*