up on melancholy hill

06 May 2021

At any other time, Nie Mingjue would have teased his brother relentlessly and given Jiang Wanyin the worst terrifying talking-to of his life. But they’re in hiding and on the run, being hunted by both their own people and the rest of the world – and this is such a painfully normal teenage thing to experience in the midst of all the bullshit they’re dealing with.

Nie Mingjue figures that he can let his brother have this much, at least.

(Snapshots of some quiet moments during a war)

Chapters: 10
Words: 21,652

up on melancholy hill

Chapter 6


Nie Mingjue is bored.

Chapter Notes:

who is nie mingjue dating? no one knows. nie mingjue also doesn’t know. but i do believe the dages and dajies have unionized at some point in this au.

the song that sangcheng are listening to at the start is “On Melancholy Hill” by Gorillaz, which is also the title of the fic. ^_^



Nie Huaisang is doodling on his shoes. He had run out of pages in his last sketchpad, and so he had to find another canvas which, apparently, just happened to be his bright yellow sneakers.

He mumbles some lyrics as he doodles, the song that he and Jiang Cheng are listening to over the pair of earphones they’re sharing.

“Up on melancholy hill, there’s a plastic tree…”

The iPod is Jiang Yanli’s, an old thing she had been too fond of to let go of even over newer models. She had left it with her brother before leaving for Meishan, making him promise to keep it safe for her until they’re back together again.

Jiang Cheng had felt his sister’s fear at that time, doubled as her gift caused her to mirror his own too. Back then, she had been headed to Meishan for refuge and Wei Wuxian was going to Gusu to safety, but Jiang Cheng had decided on staying and choosing to be in the line of fire, ready and waiting to go against whatever or whoever might come after his siblings.

And… well, it has been a rough few months without his siblings, though Jiang Cheng is thankful that he’s not totally alone. Nie Huaisang made sure to distract him whenever he was close to spiralling. Nie Mingjue and Wen Qing were supportive, always making sure to tell him first whenever they got word from either of his siblings. Nie Zonghui, Song Lan and Xiao Xingchen were reliable partners during patrol and combat. Hell, even Jin Zixuan made decent company when he’s not complaining about something.

Wei Wuxian came back a few days ago, flanked by Lan Wangji and Wen Ning just like when he left. Jiang Cheng is happy to be with his brother again and to see him doing much better than the last time he’d seen him. Wen Ning, too – although he looked pretty much the same, he seems to be livelier and is always hovering around his sister assisting her through her day and getting her to rest when she’s overworking. Lan Wangji is… Lan Wangji.

“A-Cheng,” Huaisang’s voice pulls him from his thoughts. Jiang Cheng’s eyes stray from the doodles to look towards the other’s face. “You’re quiet.”

“Yeah?” he says, almost as an afterthought after a few seconds just staring at Huaisang’s face, serene in concentration while he draws.

So he catches it when Huaisang takes a quick glance at him before asking, “Is it a good quiet or a bad quiet?”

For a few long seconds, Jiang Cheng just listens to the music in his ear.

(“Let’s set out to sea, love. ‘Cause you are my medicine when you’re close to me.”)

He answers, “Good quiet.”

Huaisang nods, smiling a bit as he continues his doodling.

Then it’s quiet again save for Huaisang’s lazy humming. It’s just the two of them lying in the grass outside the safehouse. Song Lan is sitting by the entrance door, their designated guard for the shift. Xiao Xingchen is keeping him company, quietly reading an old paperback novel.

It’s been a few quiet days somehow. They’ve heard that the government tracked down a few smaller safehouses only to find them empty because each one of them had an efficient escape plan in place, which was good. The government moved slower than the Wens, but only because the Wens had once been one of the five families and had been privy to a lot of inside information. The Lans in Caiyi have scattered after the last attack from Wen Ruohan, but after that, there hasn’t been any news.

They’re grateful for the temporary reprieve, although they are still on edge.

Perhaps that’s why as soon as they heard footsteps on the grass and looked up to see Nie Mingjue walking towards them, both Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng immediately sat up, alert.

“Da-ge, is everything okay?” Nie Huasiang asks.

He gets no answer, besides his brother tipping his chin at his companion. “Jiang Wanyin.” Nie Mingjue says, crossing his arms across his chest. “Stand up.”

Jiang Cheng quickly climbs to his feet. “What’s wrong? Is it jiejie-”

Nie Mingjue shakes his head, then says, “Fight me.”

They stare at him. Jiang Cheng’s face is pale. Huaisang is squinting.

“What?” Mingjue says, raising an eyebrow. “Nothing’s happening. Let’s spar. I need to hit something.”

“A-Cheng’s not a punching bag, da-ge.” Huaisang says, frowning petulantly. “Find someone else to spar with.”

“Your boyfriend is the only one available right now.” Nie Mingjue says, frowning back. “Zonghui’s arm is still healing. Song Lan’s on guard duty. Wen Ning’s… Well, I’m not fighting Wen Ning, his sister will kill me. And I can’t find Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji-”

“They’re in the forest. Wei-xiong’s training. They took Xiaoyu with them in case of emergency.” Huaisang provides. “How about Xingchen? He’s a good fighter.”

Nie Mingjue turns to look towards the man mentioned and then shrugs. “He’s reading.”

“Well, A-Cheng is… listening to music! You shouldn’t disturb him either.” Huaisang scolds his brother. He reaches up to tug at the hem of Jiang Cheng’s shirt, trying to get him to sit back down. “Why don’t you do something else? Take a nap. Go to the clinic! Wen Qing’s there, you finally have time to spend with her. Ask her out.”

That makes Jiang Cheng blink. “You like Wen Qing?”

“No.” Nie Mingjue says, glaring.

Nie Huaisang ignores both of them. “Or ask her how to ask Yanli-jie out-”

“You like jiejie?!”


“Or,” Nie Huaisang continues, “Ask her to ask Yanli-jie out-”

“Wen Qing likes jiejie?!”

“No!” Nie Mingjue exclaims, then he stops. “Wait, does she? Huaisang, does she?

“I actually don’t know what’s going on with the three of you.” Huaisang shrugs. “Anyways, go bother Wen Qing, da-ge! Maybe you can take a break together.”

“I already tried!” Nie Mingjue says, ungracefully sitting down on the grass in front of his brother. “She doesn’t want me there.”

Jiang Cheng sits with them, now curious. It’s not often that he gets to spend time with Nie Mingjue while the man’s not in Fierce Leader mode.

(Besides, maybe he can still back out from sparring if they distract the man enough. Jiang Cheng is a capable fighter, yes, but Nie Mingjue is a beast in battle.)

“She told you she doesn’t want you there?” Huaisang asks his brother.

“Yeah, she kicked me out.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, she obviously hasn’t slept much and needs to take a break so I told her she looks awful.”

He’s met with matching exasperated groans.


“Why would you do that?!”

Nie Mingjue scowls. “What?! It always worked with Yanli and Xichen!”

Huaisang puts his face in his hands. “That’s because Xichen-ge is nice and he’s known you since you were kids…”

“And jiejie can tell how you’re feeling.” Jiang Cheng adds. “Literally. Like, she can’t turn it off.”

Mingjue scoffs, looking away. “Well. It’s done. She’s mad at me now, so I’m not going there. And before you point me somewhere else, I already went to Jin Zixuan and tried to help him in the garden but I ended up drowning his crops, and everyone else told me they’re doing just fine.”

“Isn’t that… a good thing?” Jiang Cheng asks. “I mean, besides you killing the crops. Everyone’s doing fine.”

“Maybe you could revisit that nap I suggested.” Huaisang says, easing up on the scolding as he puts his pens down and scoots over to cuddle up to his brother’s side.  “Or just… you know, sit down and relax? Watch a movie? We can watch with you, if you like. A horror movie? We can judge the characters together just like old times.”

Nie Mingjue takes a deep, calming breath, draping an arm around his brother and rubbing his arm to let him know his efforts to comfort him are appreciated. “Thanks. I just… I hate sitting by here, with nothing to do.”

“Are we really related?” Huaisang asks, making Jiang Cheng let out a chuckle, which he quickly smothers with his hand when Nie Mingjue narrows his eyes at him.

“Shut up.” Mingjue grumbles, rolling his eyes. “I just mean that… We should have heard back from Xichen by now. He’s on his own. Without anything, we can’t… We can’t help him, wherever he is.”

Huaisang eyes widen in realization, and he wraps his arms around his brother’s torso, squeezing tight. “Da-ge, he’s okay.”

“We’ve heard from some of the other Lans, even from Lan Qiren. But we haven’t heard anything from Xichen, or about him, after they left Caiyi.” he sighs. “And the Wens are quiet too. What if-… Fuck .”

“We can’t think that.” Huaisang says firmly, rubbing his brother’s back. Nie Mingjue has always been a strong leader, an unshakeable pillar, but Huaisang knows he’s only as strong as the people close to him who support him. Lan Xichen is his brother’s best friend. Of course Nie Mingjue would be frustrated that he’s missing during a very dangerous time. Of course gardening or chit-chat or some silly movie won’t distract him enough.

So Huaisang sighs. “Da-ge?”


“I really like Jiang Cheng. So promise me you’re not gonna murder him, please.”

Nie Mingjue looks at him in confusion.

Jiang Cheng looks at him in horror.

Then Nie Mingjue blinks, grinning, finally getting what his brother is telling him. “Oh. Yeah, yeah sure.”

“Alright.” Huaisang says, drawing away from the hug to his brother can stand up. He grabs his sneakers and pens again then smiles at Jiang Cheng. “Thanks for agreeing to spar with da-ge, A-Cheng. You’re the best!”

“What?!” Jiang Cheng exclaims, helpless as the other, taller, more built man tugs him to his feet.

“C’mon, Jiang Wanyin. Let’s go.”


Nie Mingjue drapes an arm around his shoulders and drags him away. “You’ve been practicing with that electric whip attack thing your mother taught you to do, right? I always wanted to see how I’d hold up against that. Don’t hold back on me, alright?”

“That’s-… That’s dangerous! I can’t attack you like-”

“Wow, you’re no fun.”

“It’s lightning ! It can kill you!”

“Nah, I won’t die.”

As he gets dragged away, Jiang Cheng looks back towards Nie Huaisang, mouthing ‘WHY?!’ and Nie Huaisang just bats his lashes at him and blows him a kiss.

“Don’t worry, your sister’s my friend. I’ll let you live.”

Huh. Maybe Jiang Cheng will survive.




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