here it is! a follow-up to “level 50!”
you see… i was stressed at work and i couldn’t draw in there so i just wrote my feelings into nice ol’ fluff. i actually intended to write a lot of these scenes in that fic but decided they’ll make a nice separate fic instead.
a lil note on my use of given names vs courtesy names in this fic: i pick names in relation to the POV, so since a lot of it is Wangji’s POV, the names i use in the narration are the names Wangji uses for those characters. 🙂
the first part of this chapter is actually just the (17.5) snippet from the previous fic (“level 50!”), so if it looks familiar, that’s bc i literally copy-pasted that to provide the context haha
that said, feel free to skip that if you wanna 😛
To: Nie Huaisang 🐦
> The Gusu Library has an initiative to update its knowledge base with new cultural traditions and literature of places of historical importance this year. The Lan sect is largely in charge of this information gathering.
wangji i love you but why do you text like a boring network advisory?
i almost ignored it!!! 🤣🤣🤣
anyways why exactly do i need to know this?
> Disciples will be assigned to go to these places as part of training.
> Disciples who are still students will be in an exchange program so their studies remain undisrupted.
wow that’s so cool! 😭😭😭
ohhh wait that’s like when er-ge went to study here in qinghe for like a year!
> I’ve been assigned to Yunmeng.
ACHENG AND AXIAN ARE THERE 👀👀👀
> I am aware.
OMG NOW I WANT TO TRANSFER BACK TO YUNMENG
JUST TO WATCH YOU STRUGGLE AHAHAHA
> I don’t struggle.
lol sure you don’t 👀
did you die
wangji it’s been 5 minutes pls come back 😭😭😭😭😭
oh thank god
are you okay
> Not helpful.
“-and this is your room! It’s my old one, but we’ve cleaned it up and I’ve put my stuff in the master bedroom, not that there’s much left. I also asked to have it repainted because I know green’s not really your color. I don’t mind if you put stuff up in the walls, or whatever. Feel free to make yourself at home. Do what you want!”
Lan Wangji looks into the room. The walls are a nice and pale light blue color. There is a bookshelf, a study desk, a closet, and a bed with pillows and fresh sheets. The window opens to a nice view of the street.
“What do you think?” Nie Huaisang asks, smiling expectantly at him from where he stood in the center of the room.
Wangji couldn’t quite bring himself to step inside yet. This is a new thing. He’s never had to move into a brand new place before, not one outside of Gusu anyway.
“It’s very nice.” he answers, bowing slightly. “Thank you for all your trouble.”
“Ah, none of that super formal stuff! It’s just me, Wangji.” his friend laughs, waving his fan dismissively. Then he perks up as he catches sight of someone behind Wangji. “Da-ge! Da-ge, look, Wangji is bowing!”
“He’s what?” Nie Mingjue asks, walking up to them and leaning against the doorway.
He blinks when Wangji bows to him too. “The Nie Sect is very generous to lend us this house.”
The older chuckles and shakes his head as he reaches over to ruffle Wangji’s hair. “Nonsense. You’re family. Besides, this house is just getting dusty sitting out here with no one living in it. Even when Huaisang comes down here every other weekend, he stays at Lotus Pier.”
Wangji nods. “We’ll make good use of it.”
“Sure. Just don’t burn it down or anything.” Mingjue says, taking one of Wangji’s bags and carrying it inside the room, putting it down by the bed. “Anyway, I don’t think I have to worry so much about five Lans in my house. You guys are pretty tidy, unlike some people .”
“I’m an artist, da-ge. The mess is part of my process.” Huaisang pouts, but follows his brother’s lead and takes one of the smaller bags, prompting Wangji to finally help them put his things inside.
“Right. Your process.” Mingjue snorts. “Or maybe you’re just lazy.”
“I am not! Baba says I am selectively hardworking.”
Wangji tunes out the familiar Nie bickering in favor of settling the rest of his things into what would be his bedroom for the better part of a year.
That’s when they hear the doorbell, followed by a very loud and jolly call of “Special pizza delivery from the Welcome-to-Yunmeng Committee!”
Lan Wangji knows that voice.
“Oh, they’re here!” Nie Huaisang says, delightedly abandoning his task and promptly disappearing through the door.
Wangji turns to Mingjue, who just shrugs at him and says, “Must be the locals. Come on, kid.”
They arrive downstairs just in time to find not only Wei Wuxian and Jiang Wanyin laying out big pizza boxes in the dining table like they own the house, but also Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao with what looked like boxes of various Yunmeng treats while Nie Huaisang all too happily hovered around them.
That, and four Lan disciples who were wholly unprepared at this sudden onslaught of guests.
Of the group of Lans assigned to Yunmeng for the project, only two are senior disciples, while the other three, including Lan Wangji, are juniors still in training, and also students. Wei Wuxian is already talking the younger disciples’ ears off, while Lan Xichen is talking to the seniors, checking in on how they’re settling in.
“You two took your time.” Nie Mingjue says by way of greeting his sworn brothers.
Jin Guangyao sends him a dimpled smile, turning easily despite having Nie Huaisang stuck to his side. “We’re sorry, da-ge. Er-ge got carried away in the markets. Really, he would’ve bought a whole lot more if we hadn’t stumbled upon Wei-gongzi and Jiang-gongzi.”
As if prompted, Jiang Wanyin quickly turns to Nie Mingjue and bows. “Mingjue-ge, good afternoon. Huaisang told us that the Lan delegates are moving in today, so we bought some snacks. We were lucky to run into Zewu Jun on our way.”
“Da-ge, they were very helpful!” Lan Xichen chimes in. “They helped us get here so quickly.”
“Did they?” Mingjue says, raising an eyebrow towards an apprehensive Jiang Wanyin. “That’s good, because I’ve been meaning to talk to this one for a while.”
He holds the stare until he feels a fan poke his side.
He turns to glare at Huaisang. “Hey! Brat.”
“Don’t bully A-Cheng!” Huaisang says, sticking his tongue out at his brother from behind Jin Guangyao’s shoulder. “I like him, and Baba likes him. Turtle and Zonghui, too. You’re outnumbered, da-ge!”
“Are you seriously defending him while hiding behind someone else?”
“Yes! It’s strategic!”
Lan Wangji, having experienced this for the umpteenth time in one day, smoothly steps around the Nies to stand beside his own brother.
And of course, that’s when Wei Wuxian looks up from where he’s dumping hot sauce all over the pizza he was urging the other Lans to try. “Ah, Lan Zhan! Hello! I didn’t know you’d be here too- A-Sang, you didn’t tell me?!”
“Surprise~!” Huaisang sings, ducking from his brother’s attempt to grab him, still using Jin Guangyao as a shield. “Da-ge, behave! Look how much trouble you’re causing san-ge!”
“You’re the one clinging to him!”
Wei Wuxian looks very much used to these antics as he just beams at Lan Wangji again. “How are you settling in?”
Lan Wangji ignores his big brother trying to ‘subtly’ nudge his arm and nods. “We are doing fine. Thank you for the…” He eyes his two fellow junior Lan disciples who are red-faced and coughing after eating the pizza Wei Wuxian handed them. “…warm welcome.”
“Aw, it’s nothing! We don’t get Lans here often, and now you’re here to stay for a year! That’s exciting.” Wei Wuxian waves him off, smiling that infuriating, distracting smile of his…
Lan Wangji forgets the mental note he was supposed to jot down. What was that again? It was something important-
“Here, come try this – it’s the best pizza in Yunmeng, a local business! They have their own hot sauce recipe!”
Right. Milk. Buy lots of milk when they do the groceries later.
As his fellow disciples stumble to the fridge to get cold drinks out, he looks at the pizza that Wei Wuxian is very sweetly offering him. There is… a very vibrant splash of red in the toppings. “Thank you, but I am full.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t make it two seconds after seeing the other’s smile falter before he amends his statement with, “Maybe later.”
Wei Wuxian’s face brightens quickly. “Sure, sure!”
Lan Xichen elbows his brother again, and this time Lan Wangji elbows him back.
It turns out that Wei Wuxian and Jiang Wanyin did not drop by just to bring pizza. They were also there to invite the Lan delegation to a small welcome dinner in Lotus Pier the next day.
Jin Guangyao opts out first – he has to go back to Lanling. Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue as well, understandably eager to go back to their sects and responsibilities.
“You’ll be fine.” Lan Xichen tells his disciples, when he sees their apprehension. “We have a good relationship with the Jiang Sect, and Uncle has already coordinated with Sect Leader Jiang about your stay here. I assume he just wants to welcome you personally to Yunmeng.”
He exchanges a look with Nie Mingjue, who then looks down at Nie Huaisang who is still caged in his arms, trying to free himself.
Nie Mingjue shrugs. He lets go of his little brother and gently pushes him forward as if in offering. “Fine, you can have him. I’ll have Zonghui pick him up the day after tomorrow.”
Lan Xichen nods gratefully then he continues his speech. “Second Young Master Nie will be with you. He’s an excellent diplomat.”
The Lans look at Nie Huaisang, and Nie Huaisang blinks, just catching up to the fact that his brother just offered him to these people like some sort of pet puppy they’re allowed to hold for a bit. “Wait, what? I’m staying? I’m a diplomat?”
“Make yourself useful and don’t let Madame Yu scare these poor Lans off.” Mingjue says, shooing him away.
“W-What? Do I get a say in this?!”
“You’re being sacrificed, A-Sang.” Wei Wuxian explains, amused. “It’ll be fine, Madame Yu likes you.”
So that’s how Lan Wangji and his fellow Lan disciples ended up in dinner with the Jiangs. And Nie Huaisang.
To Wangji’s surprise, Nie Huaisang is, for once, doing exactly what was asked of him, already having introduced the Lan sect delegates to Sect Leader Jiang and Madame Yu, and then urging the senior disciples to tell their hosts about their project.
Wangji knows he might have to interact like this with sect leaders more often in his future, especially when his brother becomes Sect Leader Lan and Wangji himself becomes a senior disciple with more responsibilities. He knows this is a thing he must learn, so for now, he sits back and observes.
So far, Sect Leader Jiang is as his reputation described – friendly and mild-mannered with a patient air around him, while Madame Yu is the opposite – proud, stone-faced and stern. Despite the differences, they were still cordial hosts, listening to what their guests have to say. Jiang Fengmian, a Yunmeng native through and through, shares helpful suggestions for their research, which Wangji’s senior disciples thank him for. They still seem nervous in the presence of two renowned figures not only in the cultivation world, but also in the city’s local politics – but they are able to remain calm and collected.
Jiang Wanyin is, as usual, a little stiff, but he is proud like his mother and is confident in his familiar surroundings. He is mostly quiet, adding in his insight or agreement only when his father addressed him.
In contrast, beside him, Nie Huaisang is the picture of comfort and navigates all these interactions in a way that reminds Wangji of both Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao. Whether this ease is because he’s comfortable being familiar with the Jiangs, or it really is a skill he had picked up and honed, he is doing a good job. He even manages to coax replies from Wangji and the other two junior Lan disciples in a way that felt natural and not at all disruptive to the conversion.
Wangji is starting to understand now why his brother did not hesitate to ask Mingjue-ge to “lend” Huaisang to them for the evening. Perhaps he should thank Huaisang personally too, when they leave later.
So Wangji listens, and observes, and gives curt replies when prompted. This is a part of his training, after all.
Still, his eyes couldn’t help but stray towards two empty seats in the table.
Wei Ying and Jiang Yanli are curiously not present yet.
Wangji didn’t have to wonder long, however, as only a few minutes later, the two arrived, Wei Wuxian carrying a large still-hot pot, followed by Jiang Yanli with a tray of soup bowls.
“Apologies for the wait, everyone! I’ve haven’t had to cook for this many people in a while.” Jiang Yanli says as she and Wei Wuxian set the pot and the bowls at the center of the table. Wei Ying grins as he lifts the lid of the pot and a delicious smell fills the room.
“Oh, I love that smell…” Nie Huaisang sighs.
Jiang Fengmian chuckles, while Madame Yu regards the Lan delegates. “Our A-Li’s specialty is her lotus root and pork rib soup. It is the best in Yunmeng.”
Jiang Yanli blushes. “Mother!”
“It’s the truth, shijie.” Wei Ying says, taking one of the bowls and scooping some soup into it. “Come on, you just sit back. I’ll serve. You’ve been so busy cooking all this food.”
The dinner turns more lively as Wei Ying hands everyone their bowls, and the conversation shifts from cultivation and research to the excellent food they have been served.
Lan Wangji tries to ignore how Wei Ying winked at him when he handed him his bowl of soup.
Nie Huaisang pretends to be dubious about the soup and asks Wei Ying if he helped make it, and Wei Ying pretends to be hurt but reassures their company that he only helped prepare and chop ingredients. Jiang Yanli adds that there were no strong spices involved. Jiang Wanyin says that of course his sister would never forget to consider their guests.
There is a collective sigh of relief from the Lans as they finally taste the dish.
Jiang Yanli’s lotus root and pork rib soup, in Lan Wangji’s opinion, is truly delicious. It is no wonder her family is very proud of it. He says as much when Wei Ying asks, and gets another one of those disarming smiles in return.
Jiang Yanli continues to blush and wave off the praises being sent her way. Her brothers and Nie Huaisang tell her that she deserves it all. Madame Yu tells them they’re being too rowdy and unruly, and that they could use some lessons on restraint from their guests, while Jiang Fengmian only smiles at the teenagers’ antics.
The Jiangs are… a family. Lan Wangji doesn’t remember having dinner quite as lively as this one.
The next day, while claiming that he’s still waiting for his ride home, Nie Huaisang invades his former childhood bedroom and all but turns Wangji’s neat closet inside out.
“I won’t complain about your color choices, because you’re you…” Huaisang starts, squinting at his friend’s wardrobe. “But you’ll need less cardigans and more normal shirts.”
Wangji stares blankly at him from where he sits by the little study desk. “I have shirts.”
“Yeah, like three. You’ll need more.” Nie Huaisang says with an air of expertise, seemingly accented by how he elegantly twirls his fan in his fingers. “Trust me, Wangji. It gets hot.”
“Noted.” Wangji nods. Nie Huaisang might have… eccentric…. fashion ideas for himself, but he rarely does Wangji wrong. Then, remembering just how much help Nie Huaisang had been to them in the dinner with the Jiangs, he asks, “Do you have any other advice for us?”
Huaisang looks surprised at being asked the question, and he takes a few moments as he takes a seat on the bed before answering. “Well… Yunmeng is a friendly place, and the people are very social. The Jiang Sect is very in touch with the civilians, so people are less formal with cultivators here. They’re still very respected, of course! What I mean is, the people won’t, like, keep their distance when cultivators are around. They’re very comfortable interacting with us, so don’t worry about them being intimidated and just approach them when you need their help.”
“At school, hm… I’d say it’s much less strict than Gusu, and of course not as fancy as Lanling. A-Xian and A-Cheng are both pretty popular, obviously, and they’re both in the lacrosse team… You’ll be in their class, right?”
Lan Wangji nods. His fellow junior disciples are both two years younger than him, so they will be in a separate class.
“Don’t worry so much. Any questions you have about the lessons, just ask them, they’re both star students. You’ll be fine!”
“Alright. Thank you for the advice.”
“You’re always welcome.” Huaisang smiles, then he leans forward, peering at his face. “It’s your first time living away from home. Are you nervous?”
It takes a while for Wangji to answer, but eventually, he does manage to nod.
“It’s okay, Wangji. I promise, Yunmeng is a lovely place and it’s far from home, but you’ll love it.” he says. “But, just in case, if you need anything or if you want to talk, you can call me anytime, okay?”
There’s a knock on the open door, and they turn to see Nie Zonghui standing by the doorway. Wangji has met him before on several occasions, always assisting Nie Mingjue, or looking after Huaisang.
The man nods at him in greeting. “Second Young Master Lan. It’s good to see you.”
Wangji nods back, while Nie Huaisang picks up his backpack. “Zonghui, you could’ve taken your time! I was just about to rearrange Wangji’s closet.”
“I don’t think you should do that, Young Master. Are you ready to go home?”
“Yep.” Nie Huaisang says, then he turns to Wangji again. “I mean it, Wangji.”
Wangji blinks, but nods at his friend.
“Get normal shirts.”
He nods again.
“And you can give me one of those cardigans you’re not gonna use.”
“Aw… It was worth a try.” Nie Huaisang sighs, then he hugs him, and Wangji pats his back. “Good luck!” After that, he goes and skips over to Nie Zonghui and clings to the man’s arm as they wave goodbye and then disappear down the hallway.
“Zonghui~ Can we get milk tea?”
“I’ve been instructed to say no to that, Huaisang.”
“What about ice cream?”
“He told me if you ask for anything else, I should say ‘we have food at home’.”
this scene was originally intended to be part of “level 50!” hahaha… but yeah, it’s here now! the rest are (mostly) totally new 😛