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Dec 04, 2022 6:09 AM
A different Wei Wuxian lands in Lotus Pier
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The skies above Lotus Pier are streaked in orange with the coming sunset.  It brings warm color to the winter landscape of browns and grays but does nothing to stop the chill of the wind.  The eponymous lotus blossoms have been harvested for the year and have left the lakes as stretches of still water with thin ice forming along the shorelines.

Lotus Pier is rebuilding. The core buildings had been spared, as the Wen had wanted the best accommodations possible for their supervisory office, but over a thousand homes of the dead had still burned.  Now, four years later, there is a ring of new wooden buildings and new piers around Lotus Pier's heart, glowing with lamps to banish the winter gloom.  Beyond that is a ring of cleared land interspersed with the occasional towering pile of lumber. 

Jiang Cheng, Sect Leader of the Jiang Sect, is walking off the restless energy of being stuck in his office for the entire day by making a quick circuit of the outer paths and lumber piles and inspecting them. He is too busy to be spared for a night hunt and this is the best he'll get.

It isn't helping his mood to be out alone.  Not that it would be different to be in the Sect Leader's residence, which also has no one else around.  Jiang Yanli, his older sister, has just gotten married and is in Lanling.  Wei Wuxian, his...

Wei Wuxian is also gone.  And everyone else is dead.

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He isn't even doing anything.

If something weird was going to happen to him, you'd think that it would go ahead and happen when he's exploring an abandoned building he's not supposed to be in, or poking power-infused rocks, or sneaking into several-hundred-year-old wine cellars with their owners' submissives at formal dinners. Or at least touring an experimental physics facility.

But he is in his room, practicing the flute, like a totally good and well-behaved music camp attendee who is even not planning to sneak out after lights out tonight. (Because he's planning to read a book with a flashlight, but that's not the point. Though unnatural things happening to submissives who sneak out after lights out mostly happens in books for six-year-olds).

He closes his eyes for a moment to feel the music, sitting in his chair in front of the music stand exactly where he's actually supposed to be.

And then he isn't.

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He hits the ground, not hard enough to really hurt but hard enough to be a bit of a shock given that he didn't first fall off of anything. His brain is still sorting out sensations - his sense for power seems to have felt something but what is a great question. But his regular senses are also returning new information, and probably it's a good idea to pay attention to that first. He opens his eyes.

He's outside. It's sunset. It's cold. He is next to a giant pile of wood and also a path. If he looks up a bit, he can see a cluster of houses with lit up windows, which is hopefully good news for his prospect of getting somewhere not cold in the near future. ...And also look kind of like he's landed in a historical reenactment village.

And there is - his brother? His brain produces a wait what and he blinks but. He looks a bit different in a way Wei Wuxian can't quite place, and he's wearing different robes than he usually does - same color - and he's ...carrying ...a ...sword(?!?). But it's not like he can fail to recognize Jiang Cheng just because he's dressed differently and carrying objects, and no that is definitely his brother. 

Who doesn't look to be in a great mood (not that Jiang Cheng often looks to be in a great mood). He has absolutely no idea what's going on, which doesn't give him much to go on in figuring out if and how much Jiang Cheng is about to be mad at him. ...How about he doesn't say anything yet, and leaves it to Jiang Cheng to start things off. And meanwhile tries to stand up and not fall over onto the wood pile. There, that sounds like a great first step plan. 

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Jiang Cheng also recognizes him.  "Wei Wuxian." 

His face goes through a number of emotions: Surprise, outrage, confusion, exasperation, anxiety.

"What do you think you're doing here?  How dare you show up like this, blatantly out in the open where anyone might see you."

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Well if he had any doubts this was his brother, saying his name in that tone would definitely sort that out.

That's more and partially different facial expressions than Jiang Cheng usually has around him these days, but mostly not really surprising ones otherwise. Not really helping him enough with the how-angry-is-he question.

??

Ok, first part is only to be expected, it's not like Jiang Cheng's likely guesses for how he got here are going to include 'sudden nonvolitional teleportation'. 'blatantly out in the open where anyone might see you'? ...Is he at some kind of fancy dom event location he's not supposed to be at and also not dressed for it?

"It was an accident! I know this is going to sound super unlikely but I did not sneak out, I was in my room and then I was here and I didn't do it! Sir." ...Ok there are like 10 ways he could have said that better. In his defense, random teleportation into historical reenactment village that is maybe a fancy dom event. He still may or may not be about to be told to hold his hand out.

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There is absolutely no way that Jiang Cheng is going to believe that Wei Wuxian traveled from the Burial Mounds to Lotus Pier by accident.  By teleportation, maybe.  Such talismans exist even if they aren't usually strong enough to make it that far, and Wei Wuxian is a master at creating and improving talismans.  Not by accident. It's far too much of a coincidence.

More importantly, he doubts anyone else will believe it.

They're close enough to the edge of Lotus Pier that Jiang Cheng could just kick Wei Wuxian the rest of the way out, and he is very tempted to.  Wei Wuxian didn't want to be Jiang Cheng's problem any more.  He should kick him out, and then Jiang Cheng will be alone and stomping around on dark winter paths by himself again. 

He'll do it in a minute.

Wei Wuxian hadn't felt like explaining himself for years.  Even before he left Wei Wuxian had given nothing but a litany of excuses when he bothered to show up at all.  Jiang Cheng isn't going to ask why Wei Wuxian showed up tonight.  Wei Wuxian is just going to double down on claiming he came here by accident. 

Maybe he can get some kind of answer out of him if he picks a different question.  Like - what is he even wearing?  "That's a terrible outfit.  Were you hoping it would distract from your face?"

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???

He looks down at his robes automatically (he doesn't have a mirror, so he can't really look at his face) - did the sudden weird teleportation also do something to his clothing? - but no he's still wearing the music camp uniform submissives' robes. Which Jiang Cheng has absolutely seen him in before. That is not even slightly the weirdest part of what Jiang Cheng just said.

(Come to think, he would probably have noticed sooner in most other situations but "How dare you show up like this, blatantly out in the open where anyone might see you" is also not a normal thing for Jiang Cheng to say - in terms of like, words, not sentiment - entirely aside from how he's still not sure what the problem was).

...Did Jiang Cheng get really drunk? Did he get drugged with something, did he accept some drink because that was the Proper fancy dom party thing here and then it was drugged? Is that why he's out here all by himself walking around woodpiles?

That's probably a really stupid idea but he is not coming up with any better ideas (aside from 'Jiang Cheng just looks like himself, really he's himself but 8' and that's not actually an idea).

...Great, he does not even a little bit have 'what to do when your dom is super drunk' experience. He definitely has friends with the experience who've ever said anything! He's definitely seen TV shows and even not all of them were comedies! Unfortunately most dominants are not Jiang Cheng, and also his brain is completely blanking on useful suggestions and is instead producing 'when your dom is drunk is a good time to ask them for expensive presents!' and a random article he once read about the tendency for abusive doms in media to get drunk before they did whatever the climactic moment was going to be. 

This is not fair, he would have way more fun with random teleportation or drunk Jiang Cheng if they didn't happen at the same time.

Come on Wei Ying's brain, think of useful things.

He drops his eyes. "I'm sorry, sir. I can change clothing and wash my face" (is there actually something on his face? He runs his hand over his face but it doesn't hit anything unexpected or come away covered in anything) "if we go home or to a private room?" There, conciliatory and behaved submissive and trying to plant a good idea for next actions without being insubordinate, hopefully that's right. (...Private room might not actually be a good idea given that they'd be closer to the other fancy doms, but also they'd be closer to someone he could ask more questions and also he is in summer robes and it is cold.)

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Of all of the things Wei Wuxian could have been conciliatory about, he chose this?!?  What the hell!  Is Wei Wuxian mocking him?  Wei Wuxian is acting strange.  A new, different kind of strange.  Jiang Cheng doesn't like it.

He wants to storm off.  If he does, Wei Wuxian is still going to be here, doing... whatever it is Wei Wuxian was planning to do here, which can't end well.

There is a part of him that was wishing that Wei Wuxian would just be normal.  Like he was before everyone else died.  And he would say something like 'What do you mean, these robes are amazing.  I would go to meet the Emperor in robes like these' and then punch Jiang Cheng in the arm and they would be brothers again.

"Unless washing your face gives you a different face that isn't going to help," he snaps.  "But if I can't be rid of you we should at least go somewhere private before someone else shows up and catches you here."

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He doesn't in reality react in a way people looking would see. Probably. Definitely. (At least people who aren't Lan Zhan.)

It shouldn't surprise him, right, that if Jiang Cheng has lowered inhibitions so he actually says things is drunk and mad about him, he'd say he wants to be rid of him.

It's not like he asked for him.

(It's not like Wei Wuxian doesn't know what kind of sub he is. It's not his fault this time but it's not like it'd be weird if it was his fault and he had to be dragged off to a private room to stop him from embarrassing House Jiang, again. He needs to be dragged off, he needs to behave, he needs to do the right thing, except he can't most of the time. And everyone already knows that nothing's going to help. Not any more than washing his face would give him a different one. Of course anyone would want someone different.

It's not like he's somehow finding out something new or unexpected or weird.)

 

...Aaaand how about he stops thinking about this now. That sounds like a great idea. And ideally thinks about it before the next time he gets beaten into subspace because that would be much less fun. Nooope, not thinking about it!

Eyes down, this path is kind of weird, oh look that piece of wood has a cool swirl on it. "Yes, sir. I apologize for being where I shouldn't, sir." It's not his fault!! But Jiang Cheng hasn't even declared an intention to punish him yet, and he didn't say it was his fault so no lying either way, and how about he deals with his problems one at a time. He'll follow promptly and obediently in whatever direction Jiang Cheng leads or directs him. 

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Jiang Cheng spent years running and sneaking around Lotus Pier with Wei Wuxian, and rebuilt as close as possible to the original design.  The narrow gaps between the barracks.  The blind corner beside the laundry building where they'd once interrupted an illicit tryst by accident and Wei Wuxian managed to wheedle them into paying for his silence with candies all the way from Lanling.  The gardens outside of the library that they once trampled during a scuffle and were told 'at least you had the good sense to get out of the library before roughhousing' after getting caned, which is practically a compliment as far as his mother was concerned.  He obviously avoids the dining hall and kitchens as they are going to be occupied at this time of night.  It's new wood, different paint, but the same layout.  He could sneak them past his seven hundred new disciples in his sleep.

His shoulders visibly untense once they get through the gate into the Sect Leader's section, which has managed to accumulate far more detail and opulence. Every door is painted with lotus blossoms and more are carved into every support beam and piece of furniture.  A few trusted servants come in to manage the cleaning in the early mornings, but no one is going to just wander in here.

He shuts the door to his house once Wei Wuxian is inside.  Jiang Cheng then goes to the table and sits down.  Absentmindedly, he sketches a high-level privacy talisman and flicks the glowing symbol up towards the ceiling to cover the room.  This is probably going to devolve into shouting.

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Jiang Cheng is acting weird, but Wei Wuxian still knows his brother all sorts of well. He can tell that Jiang Cheng is tense, and also taking them by a really specific route. Probably one for avoiding people, since they don't meet any. ...He knows what his part of that is. Stays quiet, and follows closely, and keeps his head down so if anyone does see them at least Jiang Cheng can look like he has his trespassing submissive in hand. Which gets unfortunately harder when they stop being near woodpiles and start being near buildings, because this still looks like a historical reenactment village, but also like a really cool historical reenactment village.

Not that historical reenactment villages are his area of expertise! But sometimes he's bored and picks up random documentaries and books and bothers his friends who are into one thing or another and bothers whoever he has to bother for outing permissions. And, it's hard to tell when he can't stop and look but he's pretty sure they used all historical wood cutting and carving and fastening here. He's not seeing any machined nails. He thinks they've used all historical paint! (...Is this the kind of historical paint that's toxic? You'd think his brain would bother remembering that part. Probably it's not the kind of historical paint that's toxic. Though it'd be kind of cool if it was and they were just that committed).

He definitely fails at not looking around, but he doesn't duck off down any side paths or hallways (even when - is that a library? Did they do it inside too, does that mean they have all the scrolls and everything) and he mostly catches himself getting distracted staring at woodjoinings before Jiang Cheng has gotten more than a few steps ahead. So points to him. (Given the 'no one had better see you' Jiang Cheng is probably not going to threaten to thrash him in the hallway, but getting physically dragged off instead of metaphorically would still not improve the situation).

 

The other thing he's distracted by is that he's really confused. Again, by more things, which he might have thought would be hard in a sequence of events that started with sudden teleportation. Why is the historical reenactment village entirely done up in House Jiang colors? And also House Jiang's style, if you adjust it a bit for the historical reenactment, and also House Jiang's symbol which is literally historically hand-carved into stuff. 

They cross through a gate - which he's guessing is the private 'room', because Jiang Cheng relaxes - and there are even more House Jiang symbols, and - ok, he's being silly. Just because sudden teleportation is really weird doesn't mean that everything is that weird. Maybe Jiang Cheng is ...funding part of the fancy historical reenactment village, and so to recognize him they've done it all up in House Jiang's honor. Jiang Cheng would totally go for something like that. Probably there are other sections done up in someone else's colors. And he didn't know about this because he was at music camp, or else because Jiang Cheng thought that if he knew he'd try to sneak into looking at the plans and bother the architects, which to be fair he probably would have. And now it's - the pre-grand-opening, so they're having a fancy dom party, and Jiang Cheng gets to use the nice rooms.

There, see, very sense-making.

He's busy enough looking at the profusion of historical lotuses that he doesn't see Jiang Cheng getting out some power thing until the power is flying around and he's entirely missed what it was. Hopefully it wasn't important.

He isn't sure if he should kneel. Decides not to for now. Stands in front of the table and does look down at the floor and not at the like 500 cool woodcarvings. (Is Jiang Cheng going to let him have just a little chance to look around once he's done yelling at him, probably not.)

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Jiang Cheng isn't yelling.  He's scowling in general, which means scowling at Wei Wuxian because Wei Wuxian happens to be in front of him.  When Wei Wuxian decides to just stand there for some reason, he gets confused.  Tea, maybe?  Probably.  Wei Wuxian hasn't used the tea set in this room and wouldn't know where Jiang Cheng keeps it. 

"There's a tea set in that cabinet," he points beside the door.  "Bring it over if you're going to, then stop looming over me and sit down."

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Wei Wuxian is totally used to Jiang Cheng scowling at him while he stands in front of him. He still didn't do anything this time! But for once he thinks he has a pretty good chance of proving that he didn't do anything - all Jiang Cheng has to do is call the music camp, right, and he'll have Official Dom Testimony that they saw him twenty minutes ago and so there is no way he had the time to - sneak onto a train? What would his counterfactual self have even done - and get all the way out to wherever they are. So what he needs to do is just avoid doing anything else that he then will have done until he can figure out drunk Jiang Cheng enough to tell him stuff.

?

"Yes, sir." Sure, he can get tea. On the scale of things he could be sent over to get from a cabinet, a tea set is a pretty good one! He goes over to the cabinet. (Do they have historical reenactment tea sets? Do they have historical reenactment tea? He wants to try historical reenactment tea. Is Jiang Cheng going to let him drink the tea or just serve it?) (Is he actually supposed to sit at the table? Probably even drunk Jiang Cheng doesn't want him to sit down in the middle of the floor?)

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The tea set and tea are what a local would expect, made with the finest craftsmanship and predictably patterned in yet more lotus.  Conveniently there is also a fresh sealed jug of water along with the container of tea leaves.

There are a few other objects in the cabinet.  A non-matching bowl placed beside the water and tea set has a few pieces of late autumn fruit.  The shelf below has some paper (coarser and cut less perfectly than modern paper), some folded cloth (purple), and a few unlabelled boxes.  Things that Jiang Cheng will need regularly topped up or replaced, without the need for someone to rifle through his desk and mess things up to check if he's low on paper.  Even inside of the cabinets everything is handcrafted with traditional methods.

Jiang Cheng does want him to sit at the table, but considers that specification so obvious that it isn't going to occur to him to say so.

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Oh they so have historical reenactment tea sets. And historical reenactment paper, and historical reenactment boxes - and unless he wants to find out if they have historical reenactment disciplinary instruments he needs to not start rifling through Jiang Cheng's cabinets. (...He kind of does want to find out. Just, ideally by seeing them.) He takes the tea set. He's not used to tea sets coming with jugs of room-temperature water, but the jug is clearly part of the set and picking it up is enough to establish it's got liquid in it so he'll bring it over with the rest. 

He kneels to set everything out, and - is completely failing to remember where hot water is supposed to come from in this version of the process. Did Jiang Cheng ring for a (historical reenactment) servant? (He does know how to serve tea, obviously - isn't going to reach Lan Zhan's levels at it, but he wasn't that bad at listening to his tutors. Also does know the longer way, but presumably Jiang Cheng is not looking for him to do that one right now.)

...If Jiang Cheng doesn't say anything about the hot water he's going to have to ask, but he'll see if Jiang Cheng says something first.

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Jiang Cheng does not know what the problem is.  They're cultivators.  So either Wei Wuxian managed to tire himself out with the teleportation so much that he can't heat water, or this is yet another instance of his refusal to use anything except demonic cultivation.

...His imagination decides to provide him with the image of Wei Wuxian doing demonic cultivation to his tea, and the resulting cup growing a face and trying to bite him.  This is probably best avoided; Jiang Cheng breaks enough cups on his own and he likes this set.

Jiang Cheng gives Wei Wuxian a flat unimpressed look, rolls his eyes, and moves his hand close to the water for a moment.  The jug warms and light steam drifts out of the top as the water inside becomes exactly the correct temperature for steeping his favorite tea variety far faster than putting it over a fire would manage.

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?! What

...No, that's brilliant, that's cooler than all the wood fastenings put together. He does know that rich people used to use power artifacts for stuff like this - and this is definitely a rich person historical reenactment room. That doesn't mean he was expecting Jiang Cheng to have one. These people are committed. How did they even get it, is someone actually still making historically accurate ones or did they have to compromise on the production at least for this. How much funding did they get?

And where is it, doing it with the hand motion is a fantastic trick, he wants to know all about it, but does Jiang Cheng have it on his hand somehow? Sewn into his sleeves? ...The water jug? Damn good thing he didn't pick today to go dropping water jugs. But no he was just carrying the water jug and there's no reason to conceal that the jug does water warming. Unless rich people used to do that?

He wants to poke the jug with his sense for power. He wants to grab Jiang Cheng's sleeve and poke that with his senses for power but even if he decided that historical reenactment disciplinary instruments were worth the intimate personal introduction he doesn't want that much of an introduction and also he isn't insane. 

...Speaking of, what did he even just do that annoyed Jiang Cheng so much. Was he supposed to somehow know that Jiang Cheng had a water-heating power artifact up his sleeve? How would he know that! This is Jiang Cheng's fault for not telling him about any of this. ...No, he's already established that Jiang Cheng is drunk or something. Thinking that everyone should already know about his expensive power artifact sounds exactly like something drunk Jiang Cheng would do.

 

...Right, tea. He's supposed to be making tea. He does that (he maybe pokes the water jug with his sense for power a bit. He's holding it anyway! It doesn't even really slow him down. Doesn't get anything though. Doesn't poke anything else. Rules about how to respect dominants are unfair to him personally and should come with exceptions for possible cool artifacts). He serves tea. ...Jiang Cheng didn't object to there being multiple cups, and he really wants to try the tea, so he's just going to try pouring himself a cup too unless Jiang Cheng interrupts him to tell him to cut that out. And then try sitting down at the table. Jiang Cheng did literally tell him to sit, and there's no one else meeting with Jiang Cheng here so kneeling by like an attendant submissive would be weird.

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This is a smart move as Jiang Cheng would be more upset if he'd refused the tea. 

It is a dark tea with a rich earthy flavor, taken from the same stock that Lotus Pier keeps in the kitchens for all of its disciples.  Cultivators have eclectic tea tastes and many go out of their way to buy bricks from other regions for themselves, but younger disciples typically drink whatever the sect buys in bulk.  Lotus Pier has a few farms that they traditionally buy from and Jiang Cheng has continued that arrangement.  Given how many of their cultivators are still developing their golden cores, that main stock of tea is depleting faster than he'd predicted, having taken into account only the population number and not its demographics.  He'll need to buy more before winter ends.

Having considered the growing of tea, Jiang Cheng has finally thought of something to say to Wei Wuxian.  "So.  What really brought you here.  Did you run out of food at that hellhole you went off to and decided to come to me to beg for more?"

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Tea connoisseurship is definitely not his area of expertise (despite that one tutor’s efforts to the contrary!) but the tea tastes good and it’s the concept that counts. (Did they just process it differently or did they go all the way to historic tea growing? That’s probably too much even for whoever these people are. But maybe historically accurately grown tea is just already a thing, that sounds like a thing some fancy doms want. And then they could just get in on it with all their important dom connections.)

Aw and they were doing so well at avoiding the subject. (Hearing Jiang Cheng talk like that is still so weird. He kind of misses it. Maybe he can get Jiang Cheng this drunk at home sometime somehow.)

”Food was fine, sir.” He is so stalling. “I really really really didn’t do it, sir. I was at general commons -“ how long has it been since he got here, he’s not sure anymore. Well, doesn’t really matter, wherever they are it’s not walking distance from music camp. “- less than an hour ago, everyone saw me. I was in my room doing practice -“ he gestures at his flute, which he has been trying to be careful with even though the case hadn’t come along. “and I closed my eyes for two seconds and I didn’t do anything. And I didn’t know you were out here!” And he didn’t know here existed, but he can’t figure out a way to say ‘I didn’t sneak around into your secret project plans’ without making it sound more like he did do that. 

Does he need to add that he wasn’t, like, keeping contraband teleport-related components at music camp, or trying to personally design unilateral teleportation? No, that’s dumb, Jiang Cheng is drunk and acting weird, that doesn’t mean Wei Wuxian needs to assure him that he doesn’t own a supersonic jet and didn’t parachute out of a rocket and didn’t convince a face-shifter to impersonate him at music camp. 

“I really didn’t mean to trespass and disturb you, sir.”

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If Wei Wuxian would just come back to the Jiang Sect instead of living in the Burial Mounds, it wouldn't count as trespassing for him to be here. 

"So you were doing magic with your evil flute and it teleported you?  If that's true you're lucky it didn't send you into a volcano or the middle of the arctic ocean."

He looks at the flute when Wei Wuxian gestures at it.  It's not Chenqing, or a variety of flute that Jiang Cheng has ever seen for that matter, though the aesthetics of the instrument are the same.  It is unusual that someone would throw away a spiritual tool and replace it with another, but given that Wei Wuxian has already abandoned his sword, doing so again isn't out of the question.

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??!?!?

 

"Sir, I think you're under the influence of an intoxicating substance and this one would ask to respectfully suggest you don't make any important decisions until morning." ...Oh he is so about to get slapped. He puts his cup down so he doesn't spill the tea if Jiang Cheng slaps him.

(Does Jiang Cheng actually not like his flute? What's wrong with his flute? Does Jiang Cheng actually not like the music camp? That is so not the important question right now.)

(That is a really good point that as random sudden teleportation goes he got a pretty friendly version here. Also, continued on how did that even happen. He definitely needs to think more about that when he is not in the middle of Jiang Cheng suspecting him of having an evil magic teleporting flute.)

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???

"What?"

The formality of it is throwing him off more than the sentiment.  If Wei Wuxian had just claimed he was drunk or being unreasonable that would be... still incorrect, but less infuriating.  He stands up, grabbing the collar of Wei Wuxian's robe and pulling him up as well.  Jiang Cheng holds Wei Wuxian's entire weight with little effort.

Jiang Cheng's voice raises to a proper shout.  "I'm not drunk!  You don't get to question my sanity!  I am being entirely reasonable about your flute!  It is evil, and corrupting, and you need to carry a sword instead!"

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Points to him for good teacup decisions!

Being dragged up is not a surprise. Usually Jiang Cheng's more deliberate about it but that goes with the talking like this, right. He's expecting the next part to be getting dragged to the nearest wall - or bench, or (did they have discipline racks back whenever he has super forgotten that's what he gets for not watching higher quality historical dramas). Which isn't great news for his next twenty minutes but that's also what he gets for dropping his brain to mouth filter and, you know, what happens when you go making presumptuous comments at already annoyed doms. And hey, Jiang Cheng could have slapped him and then dragged him up.

Fun fact he now knows personally, this kind of grabbing and getting yelled at literally is actually really startling and his heart jumps for a moment there. (...TV show formulas: actually giving doms good advice for once?) But that's fine, Jiang Cheng might get that way he gets about not being important Jiang dom enough 'manner unbefitting his station and position' tomorrow and it's going to be awkward, but he can take being hit a bit harder for an evening. Lots of doms are like this all the time and their submissives mostly come out the other side with bruises same as he does. It doesn't actually mostly go with throwing submissives through windows. This room doesn't even have glass windows.

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Fuck fuck fuck shit fuck, right, nope, he was wrong, this is bad, this is a problem this is very seriously bad. (What did this party put in their alcohol. Did the historical architects forget something important and get psychoactive spores into their woodwork.)

Right.

Priority one, keep Jiang Cheng away from literally all other people especially the servants. 

Priority - no, wait, priority also one, he'd better look out for physical symptoms, he can't try for an ambulance now that will not go well but if Jiang Cheng tries to walk on the lake or something or starts throwing up or gasping for air he's going to have to risk it, and if Jiang Cheng passes out he's getting an ambulance.

Priority two, call - who does he even call. ...Priority two, call Lan Xichen, no landing someone into usurpation accusations like if he gets one of the House Jiang subject doms but they're gonna be related by marriage it's not really throwing family business to strangers.

He can still take being hit a bit harder for an evening, he's got a foundation being thrown through a window won't kill him.

He wasn't fighting Jiang Cheng before, obviously, but time to go as far in the opposite-from-fighting direction as he possibly physically can.

"Sorry sir, sorry sir. This one apologizes for questioning you, sir." This is a really stupid time to be reluctant to drop his flute but probably he shouldn't touch it anyway. He holds his hands away instead. "I won't play the flute without your permission, sir." (Sword?! Whatever, it doesn't matter, not the point.) Is he legally allowed to have a sword? Doesn't matter, if Jiang Cheng says he's supposed to have a sword no one's going to cross House Jiang about it. "This one apologizes for forgetting his sword, sir, this one requests punishment sir." Is this a good idea? Who knows, and Wei Wuxian is about to find out!

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"Punishment?  Whatever the fuck you mean, fuck your punishment!  Who says I have to give you anything you want?" he shouts before he can think about it, temper far too lost to notice that this is not, in fact, making sense.  Since when does Wei Wuxian talk like that?  He sounds like a fucking Lan. 

Jiang Cheng is not making any moves to cause physical pain beyond the incidental discomfort to Wei Wuxian of being held in place by the front of his robes.  He isn't being held high - Wei Wuxian can get his feet back under him, he just can't move.  Jiang Cheng stares intensely into his eyes, and readjusts his grip to stop him every time Wei Wuxian tries to break eye contact and do his infuriating new habit of looking downwards.

 

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Everything about Wei Wuxian's behavior tonight is strange and wrong.  It's confusing, and he is upset.

He wants desperately to believe that Wei Wuxian is telling the truth - that he's here to give up the flute.  To pick up Suibian.  To do whatever is necessary to dismantle the Stygian Tiger Seal and defuse the tensions and pacify the rest of the cultivation world.  But this is too easy.  If he'd come here after making such a decision, why be so vehement in claiming that he just happened to show up by accident?  Why double down on that claim? 

His face slowly shifts from anger to a desperate sort of pleading for Wei Wuxian to really mean it.  "You were supposed to be mine," he says, voice quiet again.  "Be at my side."

 

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