06 Mar 2021

Almost a year after he disappears, Wei Wuxian turns up at Nie Huaisang’s and Jiang Cheng’s doorstep, with a kid in tow.

Words: 11,003



i planned for this to be a quick snippet of wei wuxian visiting the sangcheng flat for the first time. as always, things did not go according plan. it was not quick. but hey, it’s here! lmao

my big mood song for this fic is ‘comfort crowd’ by conan gray. you’ll see why. that & more mood music is at the spotify playlist

note: this is set a few months into sangcheng moving in together. they haven’t started going out yet, but they’re pretty close. almost there. almost! again, while this fic could stand alone, it will reference some events from homemade, and as always the first two will bring more background and context to the AU.

Nie Huaisang is not expecting to be disturbed. Today is Big Painting Day. He’s been going on about it for a week, telling Jiang Cheng that he’s excited to work on this nice Big Idea that he got the Big Canvas for. He’s finally working on it, and the Big Painting is coming along nicely.

Does he have paint streaks everywhere, including his cheeks, hair and borrowed shirt? Yes. Does he mind? No. It’s part of the process.

It’s just him in his studio, his speakers on full blast playing his favorite songs.

So he really doesn’t want to be disturbed today.

Not even by Jiang Cheng, who had promised him that he’d stay out of the way and leave Nie Huaisang to paint in peace, unless he’s like, dying in his studio or something. Because Jiang Cheng is the best roommate ever.

So Nie Huaisang is really really annoyed because who the hell is ringing the doorbell? Repeatedly? Is that a delivery? Did they have a delivery scheduled today? It can’t be mail – mail goes to the mailbox. Is it da-ge? No, da-ge always lets him know if he’s coming beforehand. If it’s one of the neighbor aunties, then goddammit no matter how much Huaisang likes them, he is turning them away-

The doorbell rang again.

Huaisang bites his lip as he applies another careful stroke in his piece.

“A-Cheng! Can you- Ah. Damn.”

He sighs. Right. Jiang Cheng went out to buy some… music… thing… and to do a bit of grocery shopping. Right. Right .

Wait, maybe it’s Jiang Cheng at the door? With his arms full? Or maybe he forgot his keys? Jiang Cheng never forgot his keys, but there’s a first time for everything…

Huaisang lets out an annoyed groan first before he says, “Fine.” and puts down his palette and brush, hastily wiping his hands with a damp towel. He taps absently on his phone to pause his loud music, clicking his tongue when he leaves paint on his screen.

He won’t bother changing out of his old paint-stained shirt that he stole from his roommate and his short shorts with cute little chickens on it – this is his house and he’s gonna answer that goddamn door in whatever the hell he wants to wear-

(He can wipe the paint from the doorknob later. He really didn’t wipe his hands enough. Ugh.)

Nie Huaisang opens the door, ready to tell whoever it is off-


Standing on his doorstep, grinning an ever-familiar easy grin, is his best friend who he hasn’t seen for close to a year.

Nie Huaisang blinks, frozen for a second before exclaiming. “W-Wei-xiong?!”

Wei Wuxian beams back, looking like pure sunshine- “Nie Huaisang!”

Nie Huaisang could cry, arms shakily reaching out. “A-Xian?!”

Wei Wuxian’s eyes are sparkling as he opens his arms wide. “A-Sang!!!”

Nie Huaisang is vaguely aware of the very disturbing bawling noises they both make as they step towards each other, but he stops just at the last second, stepping back from the other. “No! No no no- Wait, I’ve got paint all over, and that jacket looks expensive!”

“O-Oh.” Wei Wuxian blinks, but he steps back too, looking his friend up and down. He nods. “Yeah, that’s fair. You do have paint all over, wow, Nie-xiong. I interrupted something, did I?”

“Yes, actually.” Huaisang chuckles, now sheepish. “But that’s fine!” he waves his arms in reassurance, then realizes they have paint on them too- He shakes that off. “I- Wow. Wow, uh- Wei-xiong, what- I don’t know what to say- You’re here!”

“I’m here!” Wei Wuxian says, beaming again. He takes Nie Huaisang’s appearance once more, then- “And you’re wearing my brother’s shirt.”

Nie Huaisang stares at him – and it is a testament to his experience as a model that he just smiles, innocent and pretty through that observation.

Wei Wuxian smiles back at him – he looks lost, but Nie Huaisang can just about see the gears ever-so-slowly turning and clicking in his friend’s head.

“Y-Yes, I am.” Nie Huaisang says, because what else can he say?

“Huh.” Wei Wuxian nods. “So that’s what those lyrics are about…”


He’s… wrong.

But he’s here. Nie Huaisang is so very very happy to see him. So he just cheerily asks, “Would you like to come in?”

“Very much, thank you.” Wei Wuxian says, then he looks to his side. “Oh! Yeah, I want you to meet someone. C’mere, my little radish.”

And then Nie Huaisang finally notices the kid.

Oh, he’s adorable. With his little pink cheeks. Little blue hoodie. Little baby ponytail. And his little bunny backpack.


Nie Huaisang can’t possibly go back to his painting now.



He tells his guests to make themselves at home and take a seat in the living room, then rushes to wash his hands and arms properly. He grabs a plate of what’s left of the tiny cookies he had baked that morning for Jiang Cheng and puts it down on the coffee table for A-Yuan, who had settled down on a bean bag, bouncing and giggling.

“Hippo!” the kid exclaims when he sees the cookies, delighted. He grabs one and smiles up at Huaisang before digging in. “Thank you, Pretty-gege!”

“Oh! Wow, I-…” Nie Huaisang tries not to coo too much. The kid called him pretty, even though he probably looked like a dishrag. Nie Huaisang loves him already. “You’re welcome, A-Yuan. Also those are… mice… You know what, nevermind. Eat up!”

“Your place is amazing, A-Sang.” Wei Wuxian says. He’s standing and looking over at the “memory wall”, which is a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass filled with pictures, sticky notes, postcards, fan mail and art, as well as writings and scribbles in neon dry erase markers: Jiang Cheng’s lyrics, a poem or quote Nie Huaisang liked, a little flower doodle by Yanli, and what looked like robots and dinosaurs fighting courtesy of Jin Ling.

(It was supposed to be a see-through room partition, built-in into the unit, but Jin Ling had walked into it headfirst once and Nie Mingjue twice , so Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng decided to cover it up to avoid more casualties.)

Wei Wuxian leans down to squint at a Black Lotus fan art and then looks back at Huaisang to grin. “I like it.”

“Uh, thanks, Wei-xiong. We really like it, too.” Nie Huaisang says, observing his best friend who he hasn’t seen for a while.

Wei Wuxian hasn’t changed much, but at the same time it’s almost like looking at a different person. His hair is longer – noticeable because it’s let down from the ponytail that Huaisang and the rest of the world is so familiar with – with messy little braids in random places probably courtesy of A-Yuan. His outfit is a bit more subdued – perhaps this is the only time Huaisang had seen his friend without rips or studs in his pants. He’s a bit thinner, but he also looks more peaceful, his shoulders relaxed and eyes soft.  Huaisang thinks that wherever Wei Wuxian had been for the past year, it must’ve done him much good.

“It’s home.” he continues.

“It does feel like home.” Wei Wuxian says, smiling gently as his gaze travels from the memory wall, to the shelves of books, records and award trophies, to the walls of paintings and photos. “Yours and A-Cheng’s home.”

Huaisang looks down, knowing his cheeks are pink over the implications. He’d lost count of people who had come to the same conclusion, but he gets it. He knows what it looks like, from outside. “Y-Yeah… Oh, um… How… How did you know this place, by the way? I didn’t think A-Cheng told you, though maybe he just didn’t mention it-”

The answer he gets is very Wei Wuxian – “Ah, I asked jiejie. I wanted to surprise you both, like I surprised her!”

“I see.” Huaisang nods, walking back to the kitchen area to get some drinks from the fridge. Orange juice for Wei Wuxian, since that’s all they have that’s not plain water. They do always keep chocolate milk for when Jin Ling visits, so he grabs one for A-Yuan. “So you’ve visited Yanli-jie?”

“Yep. I almost died. That vicious monster they call a pet eats people.”

Nie Huaisang laughs as he sets down the tray of drinks on the table. “Don’t be like that, Wei-xiong. I know that Fairy is very well-trained.”

“You’re all traitors.” Wei Wuxian pouts, picking up the glass of juice as he sits down on the couch. “Just like that little Jin Ling. He says I’m not as cool as Jiang Cheng! Can you believe it?!”

Huaisang grins as he sits on the floor beside A-Yuan, taking the milk box and poking the straw in it. “I can. I taught him that.”

Wei Wuxian gasps, his hand flying dramatically to his chest. “A-Sang! You were my friend first !”

“I’m kidding! A-Ling came to that conclusion himself, no influence needed.” Nie Huaisang hands the chocolate milk to A-Yuan, who accepts it happily. He straightens the boy’s lopsided hoodie as he looks at his friend. “You gotta understand, Wei-xiong. For A-Ling, you just haven’t been… around. That’s all.”

“I know, I know.” Wei Wuxian says, this time his smile is wistful, almost sad, but he shrugs that off just as fast. “And the little brat’s right, anyway. Jiang Cheng is cooler than me.”

“Oh, he’d love to hear that.”

“Don’t you dare tell him I said that!”

Nie Huaisang shakes his head at his friend, then turns to the child beside him. “So, A-Yuan, you’ve met your cousin, then?”

“A-Ling?” A-Yuan blinks, then looks down at his cookie again. “He didn’t want to play.”

Huaisang frowns, concerned. “He didn’t?”

Wei Wuxian chuckles, smiling helplessly. “He kinda hid behind jiejie the entire time.”

“Ah. A-Ling can be shy around new people.” Huaisang says, patting A-Yuan’s head. “He was the same with me, did you know that? But we’re friends now. Next time, I can tell him that you want to be his friend too. Oh, you could ask him about his guitar! I’m sure he’d like to play you a song.”

A-Yuan nods, smiling, cookie crumbs on his cheeks. “Okay!”

Wei Wuxian is watching them with a little grin. “I never knew you were so good with kids, A-Sang.”

“Oh, not really. I like them, though. And I’ve been having lots of practice with Jin Ling. We always babysit for Yanli-jie.”

“I see. And Jiang Cheng gave him a guitar!”

Huaisang nods, letting out a chuckle. “A small jiujiu guitar.”

“No wonder the kid thinks he’s cooler!” Wei Wuxian pouts. “Where is he, anyway? My precious baby brother?”

“Oh, he just went out for a bit.” Huaisang answers with a small shrug. “He said something about buying a… music… guitar thing… Strings? I think? He was leaving me alone for the day, I was… painting.”

“I can see that.” his guest says as he looks at Huaisang’s paint-streaked appearance again. His grin is both amused and apologetic. “I’m really sorry if we interrupted your work. You know, we’ll be fine waiting for A-Cheng here if you wanna go back to it?”

“Nonsense! What kind of host do you think I am, Wei-xiong?!”

“One who answers the door like they’re gonna murder the person who disturbed their Painting Time?”

Huaisang laughs. “I didn’t know it was you! I thought it was… I don’t know, one of the aunties?”


“We have lots of… nosy aunties in the neighborhood. They’re sweet. But nosy.”


“But really, I’m just glad to see you again, Wei-xiong. We missed you here.”

“I missed you guys too.” he says, earnest. He watches as his friend dotes on his son, answering A-Yuan’s question about the colorful character on his chocolate milk box. “A-Sang… You… don’t have questions?”

Huaisang looks at him pointedly. “Are you kidding? I have tons of questions! But I feel like I shouldn’t be the first one to hear the answers. You owe those to someone else more.”

“Wow.” Wei Wuxian looks at him like he’s seeing a new person. “That’s… new.”

“Many things are new.” Huaisang says, chin up. “Like your son.”

“Yeah. And these cookies!” his friend says, grinning as he leans forward to grab one of the tiny cookies and pops it into his mouth. He blinks, nose scrunched as he bites and chews. “Oh, wow, A-Cheng eats these?”

Huaisang looks rightly offended. “Hey! He loves them.”

“He said so?”

“No, but he doesn’t throw them out the window. He just says they look weird.”

“Wow. He does love them.” Wei Wuxian nods, eyes wide with disbelief.

Then, as if summoned, the door opens and they both hear the jingling of keys, followed by shuffling and a voice they both know very well.

“I’m back- Hey, A-Sang, there’s paint on the doorknob!”

Huaisang’s mouths a small ‘oops’, then he calls back. “Sorry, I’ll wipe that down in a bit!”

“Are you still painting?” Jiang Cheng asks as he walks into the room, both his arms full with groceries. “You should take a-” When he looks up, the first thing he sees is his brother, sitting on the couch. “…break.”

Wei Wuxian stops nibbling on his cookie and grins. And of course, he has the audacity to be the one to say, “Hey, you’re back!”

Jiang Cheng stops short, and there’s an audible sound of grocery paper bags being crumpled as his grip tightens on them. “What the f-”

“A-Cheng!” Nie Huaisang calls sweetly, effectively cutting him off. Jiang Cheng turns to him, obviously just now noticing him, as well as the child sitting beside him looking at Jiang Cheng with wide curious eyes. “Welcome home.”

To his credit, Jiang Cheng notes the presence of a kid in the room, and schools his expression. “Yeah.” he says through gritted teeth as he then turns to Wei Wuxian. “I see we have guests.”

“They just got here, actually. Maybe ten minutes ago.” Nie Huaisang says, quickly standing up and taking the grocery bags from Jiang Cheng.

“I see.” Jiang Cheng says, too distracted to bother helping his roommate put the groceries away. “Couldn’t have given us a little warning, Wei Wuxian?”

“Surprise!” Wei Wuxian says with a flourish. “We’re in town for the week so I thought we’d visit!”

We? ” Jiang Cheng raises an eyebrow, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Me and Lan Zhan, and A-Yuan! A-Yuan, say hi to your shushu.”

A-Yuan gives a little wave and grins sunnily, teeth and cookie crumbs and all. “Hi, shushu! My name is A-Yuan.”

“Hi… A-Yuan.” Jiang Cheng greets back, cordial. The boy’s name sounds almost foreign in his tongue, but A-Yuan doesn’t seem to notice, or mind.

“Shushu’s house is very nice.” the kid continues.

“Thank you.” Jiang Cheng nods, before looking back to Wei Wuxian. “Your kid has better manners than you.”

“Of course he does! He’s a Lan.”

“Is he now?”

“Yep.” Wei Wuxian says, finally standing up, brushing crumbs off his hands and clothes before spreading his arms wide. When Jiang Cheng just glares at him, he pouts. “What? No hug? Unlike A-Sang, you don’t have paint on you.”

Huaisang perches his elbows on the counter and his chin on his hands as he watches his roommate struggle to hold back a snarl, then to not completely break down, until finally Jiang Cheng just rolls his eyes and lets out a sigh.

“I hate you so much right now.” he says as he steps forward and hugs his brother tight.

Wei Wuxian laughs as he returns the hug, gently patting the younger’s back.

“Awww…” Nie Huaisang coos.

“Awww….” Little A-Yuan echoes, to Huaisang’s absolute amusement.

“Shut up.” Jiang Cheng grumbles, muffled against his brother’s shoulder.

Wei Wuxian laughs again, then looks pointedly at Nie Huaisang. “Get in here, you.”

“Fine, fine.” Huaisang grins and rushes towards the brothers, then squeaks when two arms pull him tight into the hug. He clutches Jiang Cheng’s shirt and Wei Wuxian’s jacket, pressed snug against his two best friends.

Then their little huddle almost gets tackled to the ground when a smaller weight latches on to their legs. When they break apart, Wei Wuxian looks down at his son with the softest, fondest smile.

Jiang Cheng crouches down, on eye-level with the kid. “A-Yuan.” he says, and the child immediately stands to attention, looking at him with very familiar eyes. “Do you want to see Huaisang-gege’s paintings?”

The boy’s face lights up, and he nods fervently. “Yes!”

Jiang Cheng glances up at Nie Huaisang, and Nie Huaisang looks at him for a moment then gives him a little smile before extending his hand to A-Yuan. “Well, come on then! I’ve got lots to show you. Maybe you can help me with my new painting? It’s very big.”

A-Yuan looks to his father first, and waits until Wei Wuxian nods at him before taking Nie Huaisang’s hand. “A-Yuan will help gege.”

When Jiang Cheng stands up, Nie Huaisang leans forward just a bit to say, “Please don’t kill the boy’s father, Wanyin. Or if you really can’t help it, make sure to clean up the evidence thoroughly.”

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes, but reaches out to wipe a smudge of paint from Huaisang’s cheek with his thumb before nudging him away. “Who do you think you’re talking to?”

“I can hear you guys.” Wei Wuxian chimes in, watching the interaction with wide eyes. “When did you get so scary, together?”

“We can talk about my babysitting fees later, Wei-xiong.” is all Nie Huaisang replies before he happily tugs A-Yuan away from his friends. “Come on, A-Yuan! Let’s wash your hands first, okay?”

“Okay!” the boy says, skipping next to him, his little ponytail bouncing cutely.

Nie Huaisang doesn’t look back as he leads the child to wash up.

The last thing he hears is Jiang Cheng’s low voice saying, “So, ready to explain now?”



A-Yuan is energetic as any kid after a round of cookies and chocolate would be, but he’s very well-mannered, and he follows Huaisang’s instructions to not touch anything while Huaisang sets aside most of the mess he had left in his working area.

He has many questions, and Huaisang answers them all. Huaisang has learned from experience babysitting Jin Ling with Jiang Cheng that that’s just the best way to let kids know they’re being paid attention to, and more often that not, when they know that gets them to behave.

“Gege, is the mountain scary?”

Huaisang blinks, and follows the boy’s gaze at the big canvas standing in the center of the room. “Oh. No, the mountain is not scary, A-Yuan.” he says as he finishes setting aside the paints and brushes he’s been using. “It just looks scary now, because I haven’t finished painting it yet. I’m still gonna put lights on it, and birds and other stuff. That’ll make it not so scary then, don’t you think?”

A-Yuan nods solemnly. “Yeah.”

“Do you like drawing, A-Yuan?” he asks, gathering markers, crayons and one of his bigger drawing pads.

“Yeah!” the kid answers, bouncing giddily. “Can I draw like gege? In the big paper?”

Huaisang laughs. “Ah, that’s called a canvas.”


“But I’m afraid we can’t draw on the canvas, A-Yuan. I’ll be using them to paint some… um, some gifts! I’ll be giving those to my friends, you see.”


Huaisang smiles, setting the child-friendly art supplies on the floor before sitting down and patting the space beside him. “I have another big paper right here, though. Wanna draw and color together?”

A-Yuan beams and rushes to sit beside him, immediately picking up one of the red markers.

“So. What do you wanna draw?”


Simple enough. Huaisang nudges the drawing pad towards him. “Okay. Wanna show me how to draw an apple?”

“No. A-Yuan will draw Apple.”

Huaisang blinks. “Uh… Sure.”

Then he watches as A-Yuan draws what looks like… some sort of four-legged creature in black and red crayons.

“That’s… um-”

“Apple!” A-Yuan says, now drawing a tiny, round red object beside the creature.

“And that is…?”

“Apple’s food. Baba says Apple is picky. Apple is only nice when she eats apple.”

Huaisang nods, the pieces finally clicking into place. “Oh! I see. Apple, who likes apples.”


“And this Apple is your friend?”

“Yup. But Rich-gege says Apple is not allowed in our house. Apple has her own house. With Apple’s brothers and sisters.”

“Mm-hm.” Huaisang nods along, wondering who Rich-gege is, though he has a good idea already. “Apple should stay with her family. So she’ll be happy. Do you visit Apple’s house often?”

“Yeah. Apple’s house is near Granny’s house. Granny takes care of A-Yuan when Baba is away.”

Huh. A granny. Huaisang smiles, filing the information. He may miss out on Wei Wuxian’s explanations but that doesn’t mean he has to wait to get answers for himself. “I see. Where does your baba go, A-Yuan?”

“Work. Baba and Rich-gege and Uncle Fourth are planting many plants that are food and taking care of many animals that are sometimes food but sometimes friends. Uncle Fourth brings apples for Apple.”

“That must make Apple very happy. And you stay with Granny then?”

“Yes. A-Yuan helps Granny, but Granny says A-Yuan should be careful. I am very small.”

Oh, that’s just too cute. Huaisang couldn’t help but pat the boy’s head. “You are. But I’m sure you’re very helpful.”

“Thank you.” A-Yuan says. “Baba should plant A-Yuan in the soil.”

Huaisang holds back his laughter. It really is amazing, seeing a weird, unexpected combination of familiar people in the boy’s mannerisms. One minute the kid talks exactly like how a kid raised by Wei Wuxian would, another minute he’s all Lan Wangji, then another and he’s back again. The whole time though, Huaisang could almost see Wen Ning – and now he’s got a good idea why.

“Why do you think that?” he asks, chuckling.

“Baba says if he plants A-Yuan in the soil, A-Yuan will grow.”

Of course. Of course Wei Wuxian would tell that to his son.

“I see.” he says, picking up one of the crayons himself and drawing some clouds around Apple.

Before he could say something else though, he hears a familiar muffled voice from outside the room.


Huaisang sighs, looking at his ward. Thankfully, A-Yuan is very intensely drawing what Nie Huaisang thinks might be a bunny rabbit beside Apple, unbothered by whatever is going down outside the room.

He sets down his crayon and reaches for his phone. “Should we put some music on, A-Yuan?”

A-Yuan looks up at him, eyes bright. “Can we play Baba’s song?”

Huh. So the kid knows that his dad is a rockstar. Cool.

Nie Huaisang grins. “Sure! Which one do you like most?”



A-Yuan starts yawning well into their third joint masterpiece. Huaisang had sung and learned plenty too, so he peers at his young companion’s face and asks, “A-Yuan, do you wanna take a nap?”

Contrary to Jin Ling, who can and will throw a tantrum if you try to make him nap, A-Yuan actually nods and lets Huaisang carry him and lay him down on the couch with minimal fuss. He falls asleep easily, and Huaisang makes sure he’s comfortable before he sets out to gather their drawings and pick up the art supplies scattered on the floor.

Then, as quietly as he could, he exits the room, leaving the door ajar for A-Yuan for when he wakes up.

When he gets to the living room, he sees both Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng sitting on the floor, their backs against the couch, passing between them what appears to be their third bag of chips.

“Oh, Wei-xiong, you survived.” he says, handing Wei Wuxian a bundle of papers. “A-Yuan is sleeping. Here, you might wanna keep these.”

Wei Wuxian looks at the drawings and coos. “Aw, it’s Lil Apple!”

“I have a question.” Huaisang gestures for them to scoot over before he squeezes in between them. “Is Lil Apple a cow or a horse?”

“She’s a pony. A very spoiled one, too.” Wei Wuxian answers, looking at the other drawings – houses with mountains and animals, then bunnies. Just…. lots of bunnies. “Tell me, Nie-xiong, is my son a promising artist?”

“Yes, I can see lots of bunny and apple masterpieces in his future if you keep raising him the way you’re doing.” Huaisang answers, accepting the bag of chips that Jiang Cheng passes to him. “So. I assume you boys are good?”

“I still hate him.” Jiang Cheng says, taking a swig from his soda can.

“I believe you.” Nie Huaisang pats his knee.

“We’re good.” Wei Wuxian answers, setting the drawings aside before nudging Huaisang by his shoulder. “Are we good, Nie-xiong?”

Huaisang nudges him back. “You owe me lots of details, because otherwise I’ll just go with what your kid has told me, but we’re good, Wei-xiong.”

Wei Wuxian laughs. “Oh no, what did A-Yuan tell you?”

“Oh, nothing too incriminating, but now I know that you basically eloped with Lan Wangji to Wen Ning’s family’s farm and you’ve been living in peaceful domestic bliss in there, married with a kid and all. How did I do?”

“You’re scary.” Wei Wuxian stares at him. “Did you interrogate my son?”

“No, he told me all of this himself.” he says, passing the chips back to Jiang Cheng in exchange of the soda. “We bonded over crayons.”

Jiang Cheng snorts. “Well, it’s good that you get along with the kid, because they’re staying with us for the week, apparently.”

“Oh! Are they?” Huaisang blinks, smiling as he turns to Wei Wuxian. “That’s great, Wei-xiong! Wait, what did you say made you come back to the city, again?”

“Lan Zhan had an important family thing with his brother and uncle. So I thought I’d come do important family things too.” he shrugs. “Lan Zhan wanted me and A-Yuan to go to Gusu with him, but I told him I want A-Yuan to spend some time with Wen Ning and Wen Qing. That’s before Wen Qing had to trade shifts in the hospital for the week, making that impossible. And we don’t wanna distract Wen Ning from studying. Jiejie offered to let us stay with them, but apparently the peacock’s parents are staying with them this week too so… yeah. Bad timing, I guess.”

“In summary, we’re his last choice.” Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes.

“Aw, don’t be like that, Jiang Cheng!” Wei Wuxian pouts. “We were always gonna drop by and visit you! I just… thought if we stay here, we might be… imposing?”

“Yeah, like how you planned to impose on Wen Ning and Wen Qing, who are both busy as hell.” Jiang Cheng points out.

“See, why would we stay here, Jiang Cheng is so mean to me!”

“You deserve it.”

“Now, now…” Nie Huaisang sighs. He missed Wei Wuxian, but he didn’t miss being a referee to these brothers. “Why would you be imposing, Wei-xiong? You’re family. Besides, if you’re worried about space, you can have my room. It’s just a week, and I sleep in the studio often enough.”

“No, he’s my stupid brother, he can have my room.” Jiang Cheng grumbles. “I can sleep in the studio, provided there’s no creepy painting in there to stare at me while I sleep.”

Huaisang turns to him, laughing. “There is one, actually! I can make it face the wall.”

“Good.” Jiang Cheng says as he takes the soda from him and drinks from it. Then he leans over to address his brother. “But I know how you live , Wei Wuxian, you better not make a mess of my room or so help me-”

He gets cut off when Wei Wuxian blinks and asks, “You guys have separate rooms?”

They both stare at him. “What?”

“What?” he blinks again. “You guys don’t sleep together?”

“Why?” Jiang Cheng asks. “It’s not like we’re married or anything.”

Wei Wuxian gapes. “Yet!”

“Oh, this is like da-ge all over again.” Nie Huaisang laughs, taking the bag of chips for himself.

“Ah…” Jiang Cheng blinks, then also laughs. “Did you think we’re dating?”

“Yes? Aren’t you?! I was trying to be all cool about it, like I don’t mind you guys not telling me because I didn’t tell you when I got married so, like, we can call it quits-”

Huaisang snorts. “Wei-xiong, if I was dating your brother, I’d tell you. I’d tell you first , actually! Then da-ge second, so if A-Cheng gets murdered, someone will know why and by who .”

“Hey, wait, I thought your da-ge likes me?” Jiang Cheng frowns. “He gave Snakey a new pot and all.”

“He likes you because we’re not dating.”

“Got it. Remind me to never date you.”

“Wow, I thought you were braver than that, Wanyin-xiong.”

“Everyone’s brave until it’s Nie Mingjue.”

“Haha! I’ll tell him you said that!”

“Wait, what? Whaaaaat? ” Wei Wuxian blinks again, this time actually genuinely confused. “But-…? But- Are you guys serious or are you messing with me as revenge for eloping and disappearing and turning up without warning?”

“Why would we mess with you?” Jiang Cheng scoffs. “It’s hardly worth it. You can do it all on your own.”

Huaisang sniggers, and he’s about to take another drink but he stops when he sees Wei Wuxian squinting at him. “…What? Wei-xiong?”

Wei Wuxian pouts, eyeing the canned soda that his two companions have been sharing between them for the duration of their conversation, and the too-cute beaded bracelets in Jiang Cheng’s wrists in Huaisang’s favorite colors. He looks at the way they’re sitting – close and snug, with Huaisang’s legs thrown over Jiang Cheng’s, which is a big deal. Wei Wuxian knows his brother really values his personal space.

Then he looks at the old and worn dark purple shirt on his best friend.

“You’re wearing A-Cheng’s sleeping clothes!”

Huaisang just pouts back as if scolded unfairly, while Jiang Cheng sighs. “That’s right, ask him why. He’s stolen so many of my clothes already. I’m living with a thief.”

“They’re comfy.”

“You’re gonna wash that one. I’m not dealing with paint.”

“You don’t have to tell me, I am gonna wash it!” Huaisang insists, passing their drink again.

Wei Wuxian knows how much Jiang Cheng hates sharing drinks, yet here he is, witnessing his brother doing that exact thing without complaint.

Jiang Cheng pauses when he gets the can. “You drank all my soda.”

“You shouldn’t have gotten my favorite flavor.”

“Well, you should have grabbed your own.”

“Fine, I’ll get another.” Huaisang huffs, standing up, using Jiang Cheng’s knee for purchase. He sticks his tongue out at his roommate, because he’s mature like that.

Jiang Cheng just scrunches up his nose and hits his legs with a pillow.

Wei Wuxian, who had known Nie Huaisang for years and Jiang Cheng since birth , doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry at what he’s witnessing.

He settles for saying, “Wow, you two flirt so weird . No wonder you don’t know you’re dating.”

Nie Huaisang just smiles bemusedly at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Wei-xiong.”

Meanwhile, Jiang Cheng, in true Jiang Cheng fashion, just looks at him and scowls. “You know what, Wei Wuxian, how about I kick you out and make you deal with living under the same roof as Jin Guangshan for a week?”

Now that is an effective threat, and Wei Wuxian shuts up.



Dinner is lively. Wait, that’s not quite right.

Dinner preparation is lively, what with both Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng insisting on cooking and settling for cooking together , and that endeavor ending up in chaos in the kitchen.

Huaisang provides unhelpful commentary from his perch on the counter as, unbeknownst to the brothers, he is live on a video call with Jiang Yanli. Beside him is A-Yuan, fresh from his bath, and preoccupied with Jiang Cheng’s tablet, giggling and laughing at the colorful game he is playing.

Dinner is more pleasant , rather than lively, because A-Yuan had rightfully shushed the bickering adults and decreed “No talking while eating! Rich-gege said.”

“He is a Lan.” Jiang Cheng whispers, equal parts terrified and impressed.

“Good job, Wangji-xiong…” Nie Huaisang nods in approval.

Wei Wuxian pouts. “Hey, what about me? I’m raising him too!”

But all three of his companions shush him and say, “No talking while eating!”



Wei Wuxian and A-Yuan stay out of their hosts’ way after dinner, after Huaisang and Jiang Cheng practically pushed them out of the dining area so they wouldn’t help clean, because they’re guests .

As Huaisang and Jiang Cheng do the dishes together, they hear laughter from the living room couch.

“What are they up to?” Jiang Cheng asks.

Huaisang peers at their guests and smiles. “They’re in a video call. Probably with Wangji-xiong, or maybe one of the Wens.”

Jiang Cheng only nods. “How’s the Big Painting? I know you didn’t want to be bothered today. Sorry for… all this.”

“It’s fine. I’m in no rush for that one anyway.” Huaisang answers, nudging him lightly with his elbow, getting him to loosen up a bit. “I want to work on it a bit before bed, though. Do you have plans with A-Xian tonight?”

Jiang Cheng shrugs. “I dunno. We don’t have drinks beside soda, and he’s got a kid to tuck to bed.”

“Hm, yeah… If you guys are planning to hang out, I’d have to pass. Turning in early tonight. I have a shoot tomorrow.”

“Sure. I’ll drive you there. What time?”

Huaisang looks at him and shakes his head. “Ah! You don’t have to, A-Cheng, you’ve got guests!”

“No, it’s fine.” Jiang Cheng reassures him. “I was thinking we’ll drop you off at your shoot and then me and Wei Ying can go visit jiejie. Maybe this time around A-Ling won’t be so shy around A-Yuan.”

Huaisang grins, liking the idea. “Yeah, that’ll be nice. I’m sure Yanli-jie will be overjoyed to spend time with both of you together for once.”

Jiang Cheng nods, a small smile tugging on his face. “Yeah. She will.”

When they finish cleaning up, Wei Wuxian and A-Yuan are still on a call. This time A-Yuan is talking to someone he calls “Granny”, but he’s not as energetic, often yawning as he talks about his very long day.

Jiang Cheng tells Huaisang to leave their guests to him, and Huaisang just nods, heading to his studio to work on his painting for a bit.

He hears the distant voices of his friends: Wei Wuxian telling Jiang Cheng that A-Yuan’s bedtime is at 9 PM (very Lan) and Jiang Cheng saying he’ll get extra sheets and pillows. Huaisang smiles, ties his hair back and gathers his paints and brushes, then pulls up a chair to sit in front of his canvas. He picks a mellow playlist, knowing how the music would most likely carry over to the rest of the flat.

About an hour later, Jiang Cheng enters the studio with a blanket and an extra pillow, then makes himself comfortable on the studio couch. In the room, there’s a tiny table where he had left his notebook and music sheets, and beside it is a guitar on a matching stand. He grabs his notebook, then the guitar.

Huaisang is used to working in the studio with Jiang Cheng just… there, existing in the same room. He takes his roommate’s presence in stride and just keeps on painting. The playlist is paused, in favor of Jiang Cheng’s inaudible hums and soft guitar strums serving as pleasant white noise.

This silence between them is familiar, comfortable. If Nie Huaisang didn’t know that there’s two other people in Jiang Cheng’s bedroom down the hall, he’d think that this was just another night. He enjoys a few more peaceful moments just painting, then finally leans back to assess his work so far. With a satisfied grin, he sets his brush aside and stretches his arms, finally letting a yawn out.

Jiang Cheng stops strumming. “Done?”

“Not yet. Still a lot to do.” Huaisang answers. “But this is a good stopping point. If I don’t stop now, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep at all.”

“It looks good.” His companion remarks absently. “Really fits the big canvas.”

“Right?” he smiles, glancing at the other before looking at his progress again.

He is met by an absent hum of agreement. Huaisang is neither sleepy nor tired enough to miss something off about that. When he turns to look at his friend, he sees that Jiang Cheng has his arms draped lazily over his guitar, head thrown back and eyes on the rows of fans and trinkets on the shelf in the corner wall. Huaisang looks a bit longer, and he can tell Jiang Cheng is not really looking at them, no, his thoughts are obviously far away.

Here it comes , Huaisang thinks. He’s coming down.

Huaisang wipes his hands, then leaves his perch on his chair and pads over to the couch. Jiang Cheng is slow to turn to him, and that in itself is a sign that he’s distracted. He blinks when Huaisang plops down right next to him, flush against his side, forehead pressed to his shoulder.

“Hey.” Jiang Cheng says, frowning. “Are you alright?”

Nie Huaisang is not surprised to hear concern in his voice. After all, he only ever presses up this close or goes this quiet when he’s not fine, when his anxiety surfaces.

Right now, Nie Huaisang is okay. But he knows Jiang Cheng isn’t, and he also knows that if he asked, Jiang Cheng would deny it and say he’s fine.

Jiang Cheng is always fine.

So Nie Huaisang doesn’t say anything, and he lets Jiang Cheng decide what his silence means. Jiang Cheng apparently decides that Huaisang is not okay and in need of comfort, because he puts his guitar aside, wraps his arms around Nie Huaisang and holds him tight.

Almost too tight.

Huaisang doesn’t complain though, because he knows who, between the two of them, really needs this.

“I don’t know what this is.” Jiang Cheng says against his hair. “But you’re gonna be okay.”

At that, Huaisang nods, wrapping his arms around the other’s torso, snuggling comfortably. “Thanks.” he murmurs, not correcting him. Now’s not the time.

They shift so they’re leaning more comfortably on the couch, legs tangled.

“You shouldn’t tire yourself out too much.” Jiang Cheng tells him. “You know it’s bad for you.”

Huaisang lifts his head, leaning against the other’s shoulder instead. “It was a long day. Full of surprises.”

“Yeah.” Jiang Cheng nods, and his gaze strays again. “Surprises.”

“Good ones though, right?” he asks, playing with the string on Jiang Cheng’s hoodie. It’s a careful question, testing the waters. It’s also an invitation.

“Yeah, good ones.” Jiang Cheng replies, and there’s an unmistakable crack in his voice at the end of his sentence. He takes a deep, steadying breath. “Fuck.”

“Hey…” Huaisang whispers, but stops because the arm wrapped around his shoulder tightens minutely, as if his companion is bracing himself.

“I missed him.”

Invitation accepted.

“And I’m-… I’m glad he’s here, but- Damn it .”

Huaisang sighs, rubbing his chest soothingly. “A-Cheng-”

“I’m fine. I’m fine. I just… I just hate it. I hate that-… That he’s different, he’s changed, and I didn’t- I wasn’t there. He has a kid. A husband. A brand new fucking family, and I missed all of it. And he looks so goddamn happy and I hate that it took leaving me- us- for him to be… that.”

“Hey, hey. No. ” Huaisang shakes his head. “He didn’t want to leave, he just had to, right? He just made it work. That doesn’t mean that A-Xian wouldn’t have been happy too if he stayed. Things just worked out that way.”

Jiang Cheng heaves another heavy breath. “I know. I’m happy for him.” he says, and it’s clear he’s saying that more to himself than to Huaisang. “But, fuck if I don’t feel like- Like he’s gone ahead and started a whole new life, like jiejie did, and it’s like- it’s like I’ve fallen behind again, like I couldn’t catch up, I’ll never catch up- and I know I shouldn’t be thinking that, I know it’s not a competition-… I’m just so used to thinking about it that way, I thought I’m over it but he comes back and I couldn’t help but- dammit. Why is it so fucking hard to unlearn this shit?”

Huaisang doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t move, just stays there, a weight against his friend. Grounding, or so he hopes.

He doesn’t understand, not fully – but only because he had never felt this way about his own brother. Perhaps it’s because they had too big of an age gap, that there simply were very different expectations for the two of them. It had been easier not to compare, specially after they lost their parents. Being each other’s only remaining family made them set aside any differences they had. Yes, Huaisang left his brother’s protection to prove himself, but not against him, just independent of him.

Jiang Cheng didn’t have that. Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian were raised by people who compared them to each other all their lives, in different ways, but leaving the same damage. Jiang Cheng had to live in his brother’s shadow, and it didn’t matter whether Wei Wuxian had wanted to cast it or not. In a way, Wei Wuxian leaving really had been for the best at the time – Jiang Cheng had finally had time and freedom to find himself, to prove his worth – but Nie Huaisang knows it couldn’t be that easy. Things take time, and this Nie Huaisang knows from experience: loving yourself takes practice .

After a while, he feels fingers carding through his hair, feels Jiang Cheng rest his chin on top of his head. “I’m just being a selfish jerk now.”

“No.” Huaisang answers, voice firm. “Yes, you feel a bit resentful. No, you’re not letting that control you. That’s not selfish. And yes, you’re a jerk, but only when you wake me up too early.”

That makes Jiang Cheng let out a breathy chuckle. He tugs on Huaisang’s hair, only lightly, scolding. “Because you’ll be late for work.”

“Still too early.” Huaisang huffs.

He leans back, so he can look at Jiang Cheng’s face.

“And hey, I know it’s not a boring domestic life with a husband and a kid in a picture perfect farm in the mountains, but you started a whole new life too, right? You have your own place. You’re working on your own music stuff. You love that music stuff! And when you, like, finish your album or whatever, people will love it. It’ll win like 10 awards and will be played everywhere and will top the charts for like the whole year. Then you’ll tour and the tickets are gonna sell out, and you’ll do that all on your own. And you’ll prove that you’re Jin Ling’s coolest uncle.”

Jiang Cheng looks back at him, lips pursed in a way Huaisang knows is his attempt not to laugh out loud. “What?”

“Don’t ‘what’ me, Wanyin!” Huaisang scolds, poking his chest. “I’m trying to be all… like, ambitious and aspirational! On your behalf! Say it with me: I am Jin Ling’s coolest uncle.

“I am Jin Ling’s coolest uncle.” Jiang Cheng says, voice trembling with suppressed laughter this time. He swats at the flailing hands. “Is that like, the highest honor or something?”

“Yes!” Huaisang answers, nodding fervently. “Since we all know that half of the men in our social circle are Jin Ling’s uncle one way or another.”

“I never thought of that.” Jiang Cheng says. He pauses for a moment, thinking, before he cringes. “Shit, it’s probably true, too.”

“Right?” Huaisang laughs. “So. When you finish your EP or album or whatever it is you’ve been making me sing even though I suck-”

“You don’t suck. You’re pretty okay.”

“Wow. I’m okay. Okay .” Nie Huaisang huffs. He almost wants to be offended but he knows he has to finish his speech. “So when you finish the… thing … you’ll be so busy being awesome you won’t have time to think about comparing that to your brother’s… gay fairytale cottagecore life or whatever.”

“…It is a bit too fairytale cottagecore, isn’t it?” Jiang Cheng shakes his head, now amused. “And he’s spending it with that Lan Wangji? I bet it’s boring as fuck.”

‘There you are.’ Huaisang laughs. “Yeah? Like, I’m no perfect Lan Wangji, but at least I’m fun . And cute.”

Jiang Cheng hums, crossing his arms and looking up, thoughtful. “…Are you, though?”

Huaisang gasps, reaching out to tug at his sleeves. “I am!”

“Really?” Jiang Cheng squints at him. “I mean, I guess other people think you’re cute, they like taking pictures of you. The thing is, they don’t live with you.”

“Why are you like this, A-Cheng?” Huaisang pouts, holding back a smile, because this is familiar, this is something that he had gotten used to, in this little life they’ve built together. Jiang Cheng’s sharp-tongued, straight-faced teasing and playfulness – a side he’d never expected to see but now is so intimately familiar with.

“I’m not being mean. Just stating facts.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be comforting me? Make me feel loved and stuff?”

Jiang Cheng doesn’t budge, even through the insistent tugging. “I was doing that earlier. You look okay now.”

“So I have to be sad for you to be nice? Wow, Jiang-xiong. Very performative of you.”

He scoffs. “That’s a big word. Now I know you are okay. Go to bed, cuddle time’s over. You have a shoot tomorrow, and you need beauty sleep so you can continue to fool people into thinking you’re cute.”

Nie Huaisang whines, scooting forward. He gives up on tugging and just burrows his face into Jiang Cheng’s shoulder again. “Noooo, Jiang-xiong, how could you be so cruel?”

Jiang Cheng clicks his tongue in disapproval, but he does uncross his arms, wrapping them around his friend again, more relaxed this time. “Stop whining. See, this is how you operate, you annoy people into liking you.”

Huaisang giggles. “Or maybe, that’s just you, Jiang-xiong. You’re annoyed that you like me so much.”

“Shut up.” Jiang Cheng grunts, tugging at his hair again.

“A-Cheng…” Nie Huaisang says, yawning halfway through.


“Do you really wanna sleep on this here little couch? Because I’m okay with sharing as long as you don’t kick me off my own bed.”

Jiang Cheng vaguely recognizes those last few words, but he’s too distracted to recognize that they’re his own, from months ago. He is quiet for a few moments before he lets out a tired sigh against the other’s hair. “Okay.”

“Okay.” When Nie Huaisang leans back to look at him, he is smiling. “Carry me there?”

Jiang Cheng leans forward, matching his smile. “Sure. So I can drop you in the hallway.”

Huaisang pouts as he moves away and stands up. “Ugh, Wanyin, very unromantic. This is why we’re not dating.”

“Uh-huh. Also, change your shirt, I’m not sleeping beside someone who smells like paint.”

“You smell like paint now too- Ow!” Nie Huaisang yelps, stepping back, glaring at the pillow in his roommate’s hand. “So violent! And with my favorite pillow! I knitted that cover!”

Jiang Cheng shoves him out the door and down the hall. “Go. Change your shirt. And not into another one of mine.”

“Aw, I was gonna wear the lavender hoodie. So we can matchy-matchy!”

“You’re a menace. I’m gonna start locking my closet.”

“Pretty useless when we do laundry together.”

They bicker on the way to Huaisang’s room, not noticing the figure standing at the other end of the hallway, by the kitchen counter.

Wei Ying looks down at his half-full glass of water, and smiles.



Nie Huaisang’s week is busy.

He spends two of those busy days in a photoshoot while Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying go and spend some time with Yanli, then with Wen Ning, who took a day off to destress and spend time with his nephew. On both days, Jiang Cheng had dropped him off at the studio in the morning, and he went home to an empty flat in the afternoon. Huaisang didn’t mind. He simply spent the few quiet hours painting before his companions came home, always with some take-home food for him.

Then he spent one day dragging Jiang Cheng around the mall, both of them trailing after Wei Wuxian who wanted to buy stuff for A-Yuan. Jiang Cheng kept putting toys in the cart while Wei Wuxian kept putting them back on the shelves, and Nie Huaisang has to decide by himself which ones to keep while both brothers are arguing and/or not looking.

(Because while he does agree with “ A-Yuan is not Jin Ling, Jiang Cheng, he doesn’t need a robot taller than him, he has Lil Apple for that!” , he also agrees that “A-Yuan deserves better than this stupid cheap ass sword, Wei Wuxian, it doesn’t even light up and it only has 1 sound instead of 20? Stop complaining, I’m paying for it!” )


Then there’s the family dinner with da-ge, Xichen-ge, Yao-ge and Wangji.

Nie Huaisang makes sure to let Lan Wangji know that he is very very disappointed that Wangji had been flirting and then had eloped with Nie Huaisang’s best friend , and he never even thought to mention that in the numerous dinners they both attended to keep their big brothers happy.

(“Wangji-xiong… we were there together, in solidarity, while our big brothers made eyes at each other and flirted with the sappiest, cheesiest most embarrassing jokes, and you never even thought to mention that you were sleeping with my best friend…?”)

(“I was not sleeping with Wei Ying. Yet.”)

(“Wow. I really thought we were friends, Wangji-xiong. Comrades, at least!”)

(“We wanted privacy. My uncle did not take it well.”)

(“Oh???” Huaisang scoots closer. “Spill! Maybe I’ll forgive you…”)

(They both turn to look towards where Nie Mingjue, Lan Xichen and Meng Yao were laughing at some god awful knock-knock joke . Lan Wangji turns to Huaisang again. “Very well. Uncle said-”)


Then there’s the other family dinner, which Nie Huaisang had not even planned to go to, but then Jiang Yanli herself had called and invited him. It was… very eventful, and Nie Huaisang is very tired afterwards, but he couldn’t say he regrets it.

(“Thank you very much for your help back there, A-Sang. I couldn’t have handled all that by myself.”)

(“Ah, no need to thank me, Yanli-jie! I know how… families… get. It was fun!”

(Jiang Yanli raises an eyebrow, amused. “…Was it?”)

(Nie Huaisang keeps his smile on as he says, “Actually, no. Not at all! Your in-laws are terrible, your husband really should have called them out quicker, and I had to hold your brother back while calming your other brother down. The most well-behaved people in that table are A-Ling and A-Yuan. But! The food sure is excellent. The best!”)

(“Thank you. I’ll make sure to pack some for you to take home.” Yanli sighs, patting his shoulder. “But as stressful as that was, it’s nice to have my family back.” She smiles. “We should do it again, don’t you think?”)

(“Without the in-laws, though, right?”)

(Jiang Yanli laughs. “Oh, definitely.”)



Then, there’s one last family dinner.

Well. It’s less a dinner and more like a little party. If a party involved a tired artist, a half-asleep med student, and three half-drunk adults playing Twister.

It’s Wei Wuxian’s last night in the city, and he’s spending it with his band. MianMian brought additional snacks and Wen Ning had the drinks. Lan Wangji had taken A-Yuan home with him, so for the first time that week, the flat is loud and rowdy past the kid’s bedtime.

“They have so much energy.” Huaisang mumbles from where his face is squished against Wen Ning’s lap as they watch Wei Wuxian duck under Jiang Cheng’s leg and MianMian’s arm so he can get his right hand on a red circle.

“Energy.” Wen Ning mumbles, eyes already closing.

Huaisang is pretty sure his friend might be sleep-talking at this point, but he appreciates the effort to keep him company. “Right? Why do they have so much energy?”

MianMian laughs. “What, you live with a Lan – a tiny one – for a week and you’re already sleeping at 9?” she teases, seemingly unbothered by the horrendous tangle of limbs she’s in.

“No, I just had photoshoots and I was finishing a really big painting and working on commissions and I’ve been spending like, every other hour trying to stop my dear Wanyin from murdering his own brother in front of his kid nephew – I swear he’s not like that usually, he’s a lot nicer – and also!” At this, Nie Huaisang blatantly points towards the woman. “ Someone asked me to design a gown for her red carpet! And I got so excited I stayed up till like, 4 AM, sketching.  Believe me if I had energy to spare, I would’ve already gone there and played with you. It looks fun.”

“Thank you for your efforts, A-Sang! I am happy to be alive!” Wei Wuxian chimes in, beaming. “A-Ning, spin! Before I fall over!”

It takes a few seconds for that to process, but Wen Ning catches up eventually and spins the spinner for them.

Jiang Cheng grunts. “If that goddamn thing lands on-”

“Left foot, blue.” Wen Ning announces, then smiles ruefully at his friend. “Sorry, Jiang-xiong.”

Jiang Cheng lets out a huff. “Okay, that’ll probably give me bone damage. I’m out.” he says, disentangling from the other two on the mat. When he stands up straight, he almost falls over again, stumbling. “Fuck. Why did I play that drunk.”

“Wanyin!” Huaisang calls out, raising his arms, doing grabby hands. “If I pass out, will you finally carry me?”

“No. You can sleep there.” Jiang Cheng says, looking mighty annoyed, but he does sit down on the floor by the couch, where Huaisang immediately clings to him, arms wrapped around his shoulders. He accepts the bowl of popcorn that Wen Ning hands to him and watches as MianMian gracefully shifts her position to move her hand to another circle. “What the f- How does she do that???”

“She’s MianMian. Just MianMian things.” Nie Huaisang says. “Wait, what’s the punishment for the loser?”

“Loser won’t get hitched again without his best friends knowing.” MianMian says.

“Loser won’t just turn up unannounced again.” Jiang Cheng adds. “Without even bringing anything for his poor hosts? Impolite.”

“Oh!” MianMian continues. “Loser should send free produce from his farm.”

“Yeah. Loser should take down notes. We’d like some fruits and vegetables. What was it you were saying the other day, A-Sang?”

“Apples.” Huaisang says, already dozing off by his shoulder.

“Yeah, loser, lots of apples!” MianMian cheers.

“For the last time, I don’t own the farm!” Wei Wuxian despairs, arms and legs visibly trembling to hold his position.

“Loser will visit more often?” Wen Ning chimes in, yawning.

Wei Wuxian gasps, then points to his friend. “Wen Ning, you’re the only good person in this house. I love you, man.”

There’s a moment of quiet, only broken when Jiang Cheng laughs. Loud. “ Loser.

“What?” Wei Wuxian blinks, then looks in horror at his hand, down to the mat and the circle where said hand should have stayed. “Noooooo!”

MianMian cackles, smoothly getting up from their crouch, leaving Wei Wuxian to slump pathetically on the mat. “Hah! Looks like we’re getting free apples!”

“It’s my last night here before going back to my hermit life and you guys are bullying me?” He sniffles. “I was wrong to be excited to be together again!”

Jiang Cheng pushes the popcorn bowl across the floor towards him like one would push it to a sad puppy. “Yeah, cry harder. Also, hermit life ? You’re hardly a hermit, you live with your husband, who, and I hate that I know this, apparently has an ‘everyday activity’ with you.”

“Ew.” MianMian shudders, picking up her abandoned drink as she settles down on Wen Ning’s other side.

“Lan Zhan is a passionate man!”

“Ew.” This time, it’s Nie Huaisang, actually lifting his head so he can properly squint at him. “But really? Everyday?

“Well, not this week, obviously .” Wei Wuxian picks popcorn from the bowl only so he can throw some at his brother. “And why do you even know that, Jiang Cheng?!”

Jiang Cheng cringes. “Your son told us about it. His Baba and Rich-gege and their Everyday .”

“Ewww!” this time everyone behind Jiang Cheng whines as one, very much judging their friend.

“Wei-xiong, wow.” Huaisang says. “ Wow .”

“My little A-Yuan…” Wen Ning whispers, horrified.

“That poor child?” MianMian shakes her head. “Maybe you should leave him here with Wanyin and Huaisang?”

“Wait. No, we don’t want kids.” Jiang Cheng says, waving the idea off. “I mean, we like them, sure.”

“That’s because we can give them back.” Huaisang says, patting his head.

Jiang Cheng nods, taking the popcorn bowl back before Wei Wuxian can start throwing them at him again. “Exactly.”

“You two know that’s what grandparents say, right?” MianMian points out, laughing as she cradles her beer can to her chest.

Ohhhhhh, ” Wei Wuxian whispers, blinking from the Twister mat. “They’re not dating or married but they’re grandparents.

Huaisang shrugs. “It’s the aunties. All our neighbors are aunties. We are now aunties in spirit.”

“I hate it.” Jiang Cheng shakes his head. “We got roped in for a… what did they call it? Last Christmas?”

“A white elephant… exchange… thing.” Huaisang sighs. “I wanted to, like, sell all the things in that party and- I dunno, donate the proceeds to people in need.”

“Huaisang wanted to fight that auntie who got the nice fan.”

“It was a really nice fan!”

Jiang Cheng sniggers. “Didn’t you like our new curtains?”

“Yes, of course I like the fancy drapes! I like them so much I’m saving them for my funeral, Wanyin!”

MianMian and Wei Wuxian both break down laughing, picturing their friends’ modern artsy flat with fancy victorian-style drapery.

“Wait, wait… Am I-… Am I just very sleepy or did I actually hear that right?” Wen Ning asks, looking down at Huaisang who had been using his lap as a pillow, then to Huaisang’s hands fussing over Jiang Cheng’s hair. “You’re not dating?”

MianMian leans over, looking very confused. “What? Who said they’re not dating?”

Jiang Cheng looks back at her, just as confused. “Who said we are dating?”

“What… You’re just… what, sleeping together?”

“No, we’re sharing because Wei Wuxian stole my bed because he’s a guest.”

“You have separate bedrooms?”

“I said that too!” Wei Wuxian chimes in, slurring, either wasted, or tired. Or both. “And I didn’t steal anything, I can sleep on the floor if you want your bed back!”

This time, Jiang Cheng is the one who throws popcorn at him. “MianMian, you literally come over every time, you’re the reason we’ve got a shitload of succulents. Yes , we have separate bedrooms.”

“Ohh… I guess I never noticed.”


“You’re so touchy.” she says, waving her beer can at Huaisang’s arm thrown over Jiang Cheng’s shoulders and his fingers on his hair. “And stuff. Oh no. That’s very cute.”

Jiang Cheng shrugs, only tilting his head when Huaisang flails his hand too close to his eyes. “Eh. He’s drunk.”

“With chocolate milk?”

“He has work tomorrow.”

“I do!” Huaisang grunts, shaking the empty box of the aforementioned chocolate milk at his roommates face. “A-Cheng, you gotta buy more of these or I’ll end up stealing from the Jin Ling Stash.”

“Sure.” Jiang Cheng says, taking the box so Huaisang will have nothing to wave at his face. “Sleep.”

Huaisang nods, making himself comfortable on the couch. “Okay.”

Wen Ning blinks. “Please don’t. If-… If you sleep there, I won’t be able to move.”

Huaisang pats his knee. “Okay, okay. I’ll just. Rest my eyes.

Then Wei Wuxian lets out a little laugh, and when they turn to him, he had already wrapped the Twister mat around himself like a blanket. “You all are my friends.”

Jiang Cheng turns to him, deadpan. “What.”

“Oh, I mean. You, all, my friends.”


“Oh! Yeah, sentences! Uh… you are all… very drunk and confused and it’s super adorable. I missed you guys so much. I love you a lot.”

“Ew.” MianMian says.

“Ew.” Jiang Cheng says.

“What? What did he say? I didn’t hear.” Huaisang grumbles, eyes still ‘resting’.

“We love you too, Wei-xiong.” Wen Ning says, once again proving that he is a good person.

Wei Wuxian looks at each one of his best friends, and then he sobs .

“Wen Ning, when I die, I want you to have Suibian!”



Nie Huaisang is not expecting to be disturbed.

He had said goodbye to Wei Wuxian that morning before going to work, insisting that Jiang Cheng does not need to drive him to his shoot when he’s already got Wei Wuxian, MianMian and Wen Ning to send home too. When he arrives in the afternoon, Jiang Cheng is not home, so he washes his makeup off and undoes his elaborate hairdo, then goes back to the Big Painting. Not long now. He’s almost done.

He had just laid his last strokes on the canvas when he hears Jiang Cheng’s voice announce that he’s home.

“I’m in the studio!” he calls out as he stands up from his chair and steps back to take in his work.

“Hey.” Jiang Cheng appears by the door, then sees Huaisang standing in front of the painting. “Oh. Is it done?”

“Mm-hm.” Huaisang nods, and he smiles when Jiang Cheng approaches, stopping to stand beside him. “What do you think? Wait, if you don’t like it, don’t tell me. I’ll cry.”

Jiang Cheng scoffs, but he makes sure to take the whole thing in before nodding. “I like it.”


“You know I don’t know art stuff. But I think it’s beautiful. So there.”

Huaisang sighs in relief, then leans sideways to rest his head against his companion’s shoulder. “Wow… Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Jiang Cheng says, draping his arm around the other, stroking his long hair. Then he stops at the unfamiliar feeling – Huaisang’s hair is all wavy, and it’s still a bit damp. “What happened to your hair?”

“Braids and stuff. My scalp was tortured today. Please continue. It feels nice.”

“Stop letting them do crazy stuff to your hair.” Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes, but does as requested.

Huaisang snuggles close to his side, while Jiang Cheng just looks at the big painting again.

It’s a beautiful surreal view of a winding staircase running up the side of a mountain – the mountain’s colors dark and muted against the brilliant contrasting colors of the sky at sunset. There’s a hint of stars in the sky, along with silhouettes of birds. The stairs are lined with lanterns, and there’s a lone figure walking up the stairs, looking up towards another figure standing at the top, holding their own lantern.

“So who are they?”

“I don’t know.”

“But you made it.”



Huaisang smiles, and lightly bumps his head against his friend’s shoulder. “A-Cheng…”


“It’s so quiet.”

Jiang Cheng stops stroking his hair for a moment, then he nods and continues. “It’s usually quiet.”

“It’s not bad though, right?”

“No.” Jiang Cheng answers. “I like quiet.” Then his hand drops from Huaisang’s hair to his shoulder, giving it a little squeeze. “Dinner?”

“Dinner.” Huaisang nods.

They walk to the kitchen, close, together.




. fin .


(a month later, wwx announces he’s visiting again and yanli decides they’ll have a family picnic and jc really is only determined to bring the best food to that potluck but somehow he realizes he’s in love w his best friend too.) (it just happened ok) (he blames the xylophone) (yes this is a reference to ‘soft around you’)

also yes i plan to write some sangcheng vs the neighbor aunties snippets down the line haha

anyways, thank you for reading! and giving love to this here lil AU!

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