He had thought things were totally under control by the time the drama finally started airing and the press interviews began, but he quickly realized he’d played himself. One shy smile from Yibo and everything had come rushing back.
Only now—things are a little different. Yibo is… looking at him. A lot. And he’s not trying to hide it.
“I…” he began, then had to lick his dry lips. “I know what it’s like.” Lan Xichen met his eyes, raised his brows. “To lose…someone. To be betrayed.” He stopped, wincing. “To feel betrayed by someone you trusted.” He swallowed, closed his eyes for a moment. “To lose them, too.” He felt Lan Xichen’s gaze on him, but couldn’t look up. “Anyway,” he continued roughly, “I’m sure you’re handling it much better than me.” He downed the remainder of the wine in his bowl.
Lan Xichen surprised him with a huff of laughter. It sounded dry, twisted, more bitter than he could imagine a noise coming from the First Jade could ever be.
Lan Zhan freezes and Wei Wuxian nearly walks into him, bracing himself against Lan Zhan’s chest and looking up at him. Lan Zhan’s face has gone still, but his ears flush and his lips have parted, and Wei Wuxian oddly feels his heart sink. Oh. Oh, it is true. Lan Zhan does like someone.
“I,” Lan Zhan says, and the panic in his voice is almost adorable. “I…”“You do like someone!” Wei Wuxian exclaims, and Lan Zhan’s ears redden even more.
“…. Mn,” Lan Zhan breathes, watching Wei Wuxian so intently that Wei Wuxian almost forgets what he’s meant to say. Right. Who Lan Zhan likes.
“Who is it?” Wei Wuxian asks, and Lan Zhan’s gaze seems almost incredulous. “What?”
Slowly, Lan Xichen walks up to his uncle and his heart grows heavier with each step. He can feel the surge of power behind the melody, he can feel it spreading further and further away from the cave, always finding its way past a barrier that should be impenetrable, beckoning and pleading, drawing spirits close and sending them away with a message, Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying…
He doesn’t know how one can feel so vulnerable, so stripped, so laid bare (granted figuratively but also very much literally) and yet at the same time not want to be anywhere else at this moment in time or alternatively strike the person down with Zidian who dares to put him in this position.
He doesn’t think of the past, because it hurts too much to remember, and he doesn’t think of the future, because hope alone is not enough to get him through it all. (He hopes anyway, because it’s all he has.)