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Dec 02, 2022 1:46 AM
A different Wei Wuxian lands in Lotus Pier
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Ah, fuck. He had made sure to pay attention to his surroundings when he was actually touching his flute, given other Jiang Cheng's flute-related objections. But he had totally failed to think about if other Jiang Cheng would just walk in the rest of the time.

He half-tumbles out of bed and kneels on the floor away from it. (His notes are still all over the bed but they'll just have to stay there). (He hadn't been planning ahead, would probably have tried to decide if he should kneel or not if Jiang Cheng had come in the normal way, but this sounds like a good time for kneeling.)

...He also failed to think about how this world probably doesn't have pens or pencils, does it. Good time to think about that: before he maybe got caught using one. 

(Oh, good, though, other Jiang Cheng is back. It isn't fair to the household subjects and servants, having his brother go deal with the household while mad at him and before he's gotten to feel better about it by punishing him. Not much point in thinking about it when he hadn't thought of anything to do about it, but at least that problem he should stop having soon. Possibly to be replaced by other problems, but that's how punishment goes. And he still deserves it.)

What does he say to that? And oh right, the appellative situation. He could leave it off and hope the resulting what-do-you-call-me reprimand contained the answer. No, it won't, and then what'll he say. ...He'll go for letting other Jiang Cheng think he's mixing them up on purpose, maybe he can get his reprimand with the answer that way.

"...Thank you, shidi."

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He stands in confusion for several long moments, watching Wei Wuxian kneel on the floor.

Shidi.  Not something Wei Wuxian usually calls him but better than anything else he has tonight.  It's a sign of belonging to the Yunmeng Jiang.  But he doesn't know how to interpret it when combined with the unusual formality and supplication. 

He wishes A-jie were here.  She always knew how to get them to talk without fighting.  What would A-Jie do?  Whenever one of them was upset, she would always come up to them and touch their hair and say something comforting.

Jiang Cheng needs to try finding gentle words?  Somehow, despite years of her comforting him being his most precious memories, as soon as he tries to think of some exact words to say his mind manages to go completely blank.

"Hey.  Why are you being weird?"

He gets the feeling that this is not what his older sister would have said here, and if he'd tried to add head pats they would not have helped. 

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...He is getting it so hard for lying if and when other Jiang Cheng finds out what's going on. Technically he isn't lying! He'll leave that one for future Wei Ying.

 

"Ah, am I ever not, shidi?"

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"Yes, but usually in a different way!"

As much as he'd like to storm off and wait for Wei Wuxian to come to him, Wei Wuxian is not supposed to leave his room and has been way more prone to leaving instead of following him.  Jiang Cheng isn't going to sit on the floor no matter what Wei Wuxian is doing.  (Whatever he's doing).  He takes a seat at the desk, still close enough that they can talk.  There are no more privacy talismans in his sleeves - it isn't like he walks around with dozens of them - so he'll have to keep his temper in check and treat this more like an official meeting.  There is a subtle shift in his demeanor as he takes a deep breath, straightens his shoulders, and tries to pretend that this is something that he'd have an official meeting about even though if Wei Wuxian were anyone but family he'd have been dragged off to the Jin by now.

"So.  By now you must have realized that staying in the Burial Mounds isn't good for a long term solution.  Even if you are holding the borders and growing food, you still have enemies.  Are you here because you realized how stupid it would be to stay in self imposed exile instead of trying to find a solution that will let you come back?"

He braces himself for stubbornness.

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He feels the shift in demeanor. Lowers his head a little more.

Can he just be punished already, why does there have to be questioning first. He won’t have a better time with questioning after he’s been beaten into subspace and he knows that.

No being told to sit so he doesn’t. Does turn to keep his kneeling facing in other Jiang Cheng’s direction.

Things he knows now: other him is holding borders (and growing food). 'Enemies' sounds maybe different from 'the government trying to arrest you because of the prison break'? Other Jiang Cheng doesn't like what other him is doing, even given the prison break already having happened. And is dealing with this by asking if he's realized things? (He does know there are doms who do that! But.) ('Self imposed' exile? A solution that would let him come back? How would that even work. Is this just, the government might let other him off with 10 years and then partial confinement if House Jiang does politics about it?)

He doesn't want other Jiang Cheng to think completely inaccurate things about what other him is doing, that would be bad for both of them.

"I told you, shidi," that one hasn't gotten a bad reaction yet, how about he just sticks with it for now, "I didn't do it. It wasn't me."

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???

"You didn't do what?"

Jiang Cheng thinks back on what he just said, trying to figure out what that could possibly have been referring to.  Wei Wuxian's power is the only reason the other sects haven't stormed the Burial Mounds, even if they are leaning on the unnatural terrain for an advantage.  Jiang Cheng saw the farms himself, and Wei Wuxian was caught taking the Wen prisoners out of the Jin prison camp by Lan Wangji and the surviving guards.  Is the thing that Wei Wuxian didn't do realizing that he can't keep holding the Burial Mounds? 

Or... oh.  Is he still insisting that he teleported here at random.  Of fucking course he is skipping the important questions entirely. 

"Wei Wuxian!  Answer the important fucking questions!"  he snaps.  Slightly louder than intended.  More quietly, leaning forward, "However you got here, you're here now.  You can think about it now.  What are your long term plans?"

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He still jumps a little at being snapped at. But he thinks he's getting better at it!

...He's going to assume from the second part that other Jiang Cheng figured out the answer to his own first question.

Time to see how not saying anything works out for him. He looks at the floor and squeezes his lips shut a bit and doesn't say anything.

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Several long minutes pass, and the room is silent. 

 

Jiang Cheng tries waiting Wei Wuxian out, at first keeping his composure.  It's not like he can't sit still for five minutes - having to keep being polite during even the most obnoxious self-aggrandizing speeches during all of the sect leader meetings after the war had been plenty of practice.

 

It had rarely been completely silent for so long, though.  There's nothing to look at that he hadn't seen a hundred times before, as he subtly re-adjusts his posture for the third time.  The whirls of detailing on the walls, the much more subtle whirls in the wood of the furniture are as familiar as his own fingerprints.  Only Wei Wuxian's behavior and strange clothing are new.  Did he sew them himself?  But no, he couldn't have gotten that much practice, could he?  Jiang Cheng spends a great deal of time focusing on clothing on himself and others, and the seams look perfectly even from this distance.  It's just another mystery that Wei Wuxian isn't talking to him about. 

 

He stews over everything he wants to say.

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Eventually, his patience snaps.  Wei Wuxian is lunged at!  He is pushed until his back hits the side of the wooden bed frame and is pinned there.  Jiang Cheng once again tries to force eye contact.  The position they end up in isn't a comfortable position in general and especially not for Wei Wuxian's still sore ankle.

"Take this seriously!  A-jie is going to be sad if her father in law executes you.  Don't you dare upset her."  This time he at least manages to keep his voice down.

 

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Letting him kneel in silence before he reveals what exactly he’s going to do to him is one of the less surprising things other Jiang Cheng has done so far.

He kneels, and looks at the floor. At least it’s an interesting floor.

With his Jiang Cheng he could expect some escalating reprimands, and then the ‘you’ll tell me in the next minute or’ part, and then the punishment for the refusing to answer if he kept doing it, because apparently that’s what they teach in dom school. No way to know what dom school other Jiang Cheng went to, or if they teach from the ‘don’t let defiant submissives get away with it, keep up until they stop that’ side. Or if dom schools have a separate lesson plan for submissives who do prison breaks.

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He hits the side of the bed.

(Still room for improvement on this part! That's fine, other Jiang Cheng is giving him lots of practice, right? And he didn't at any point do anything that would be a huge problem like 'resist', so basically all good.) Ow ankle. He doesn't quite stop a visible flinch. Partially reflexively tries to get his weight off that foot (is he going to be told off for that, he'll find out).

He continues to be acquiescent to force but to not have internalized the memo about unusual eye demands.

Execution, also still on the table. Now he knows that too. (Jin Guangshan is running executions. Wow that's terrible who thought that was a good idea.)

...his Jiang Cheng has never used this particular method of telling him off. As balls out of left field for the day go, this one hits him in the solar plexus. So maybe his Jiang Cheng might want to try it sometimes, because it immediately and effectively makes him feel bad. ...Even though he didn't do any of what caused the situation other Jiang Cheng is upset about, and it's been true just as much the entire time before he showed up.

But he can't tell other Jiang Cheng what he wants to know, and he's not going to tell other Jiang Cheng what he doesn't know he wants to know. Going with the prison break and whatever plan other him has is great to know about (...still hard to wrap his head around, but), but he doesn't know enough else about other Jiang Cheng, and other Jiang Cheng is definitely not happy about the prison break and plan, and Wei Wuxian can't say he usually or very often feels like good-submissively leaving everything up to his dominant to make decisions about, but he doesn't think he's feeling that now.

(Also, no way to know if other Jiang Cheng might decide that alternate versions of his refractory submissive brother need to be locked in the confinement rooms for some reeducational prophylactic before they get to prison breaks.) (Which, he'll do the being locked up, if that's just what it is, for whatever's going on not ending in mass executions and not letting House Jiang be dragged into more of anything. But it'd be nice if he gets to do not that.)

(His plan, or at least the series of next actions he's orienting to right now, are to keep trying not to tell other Jiang Cheng things, and see if eventually other Jiang Cheng wants to send him back to Ominous Location (it did sound like he had a way to get there). And then he can explain what's happening to other him, and other him presumably will know much better how and what to be telling other Jiang Cheng.)

(Other Jiang Cheng will need to reimpose his prevention of looking-down reflexes again.)

“Sorry, shidi. I’m taking this seriously.”

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Jiang Cheng doesn't keep trying to force eye contact for long, just looks upset that Wei Wuxian doesn't think he's worth looking at.  Also that Wei Wuxian has once again decided to not fight back.  Jiang Cheng could use a good fight - no swords or cultivation, just punching.  He shoves at Wei Wuxian, not in a painful sort of way but in the way of a little brother trying to provoke a reaction. 

"You still aren't saying my name!  Why not, shixiong?  Yiling Patriarch."

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He gets a bit of a wince as the push unbalances Wei Wuxian on his ankle a little so shortly after it had last been jarred. 

He's actually supposed to say Jiang Wanyin? No maybe he's supposed to say Jiang Wanyin but also some title. He's not gonna guess the title, is he. (Why is this so hard, this is a very stupid problem and he thinks inter-universe teleportation should not come with stupid problems like this.)

'Yiling Patriach'?? That has to be at him, right?? Does other him have a titleWas Yiling the prison? Does other him have an outlaw name that would be pretty cool.

Noticing what someone's emotions look like when you're not supposed to look up at them is a challenge, but it's a challenge he is very experienced in (...also he's more willing to do the glance-up thing than some submissive are.) ...Other Jiang Cheng looks upset. Looks upset. (Because he's thinking about upsetting Shijie?) And he's back (...modulo a universe) to his Jiang Cheng doesn't-do-this-definitely-not-in-front-of-him, and he, what does he do, he wouldn't know how to make his Jiang Cheng less upset, how does he make other Jiang Cheng less upset, he can't even guess his title.

 

"...Jiang Cheng?" he blurts out. If you don't know how to get the right answer and you keep trying similar things you should try something definitely wrong and different to learn more, he totally read that in some math book. If Jiang Cheng is, instead of whatever he's thinking, fed up with him and telling him to put a hand out that'll solve both their problems right?

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"Yes!  Was that so difficult?  You'd think someone who could invent a whole new form of cultivation would be able to remember more than a handful of names at a time."

Knowing that his name was not somehow removed from Wei Wuxian's mind to make space for Wen Ning's is enough to get him to back down.  In retrospect, he's a little disappointed that Wei Wuxian didn't start guessing obviously wrong answers in order to bait him into a fight.  He still really wants one.  ...That will probably need to wait until he has more privacy talismans.  Jiang Cheng rolls to the side, sitting on the floor near Wei Wuxian for a moment as he stops to think if there's anything else that needs to be taken care of.  He checks his knees and the lower portion of his robes; it doesn't look like there are any visible dust marks from the floor.

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That was actually right!? Wei Ying bows to the math book whose author he doesn't remember, he would not have ever guessed that one! 

"invent a whole new form of cultivation" - fuck yeah, holy fucking gods other him! Get your ass in gear Wei Ying, other Wei Ying is leading prison breaks and holding borders and inventing whole new forms of cultivation, gotta be worthy of the name! (Other him invented a new way of doing magic and the government still wants to execute him, sounds like dom priorities! Not that he thinks being tortured into teaching magic would be fun, but it's the principle.)

Right he needs to answer other Jiang Cheng. "Sorry, Jiang Cheng." That is very weird to say! He almost stumbles a bit over it. But, success! Now he just needs to never confuse who he calls what.

Jiang Cheng sitting on the floor next to him is weird. He stays in the position he was left in; he'll kneel at other Jiang Cheng properly again when other Jiang Cheng goes back to being somewhere reasonably kneelable-at.

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Jiang Cheng does not go back to the desk to get kneeled at.  He remembers countless nights exactly like this, sitting next to each other on the floor.  Indoors to avoid rain or cold, or because A-jie had just finished bandaging Wei Wuxian's back and didn't want him undoing her work by moving around too much.

He should stay and listen to Wei Wuxian talk about talismans until he falls asleep on the floor, like he did back then  He should go back to his own quarters like a responsible Sect Leader.  They are close enough together that Jiang Cheng leans over and nudges their shoulders together before rising, to make up for not staying.  But he does stand up.

Judging from the mess of papers that Wei Wuxian has already managed to cover his bed in (why his bed, he has a desk) Wei Wuxian had been in the middle of something.  "Don't run off.  I'll bring breakfast in the morning."  He kind of wants to grouse as he leaves about how much trouble it is, and does Wei Wuxian know how much work he's always put into making sure they had dry clothes to change into on the far shore every time they snuck out by swimming underwater?  But.  Sneaking.  He needs to stay quiet so he can hear if there's anyone likely to catch him on the other side of the door. 

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His brain has a moment of ?what-is-other-Jiang-Cheng doing? before brain connections that don't usually go with his brother but do go with people who are sometimes upset around him connect up. He - ?returns the motion. (That's allowed right, like whatever kind of dom you have if your dom puts out a hand for a high five you can high five them without asking, he's just all not used to this here.) Smiles brightly at other Jiang Cheng. Here he is, all alive and not-executed, and Shijie would not have anything new to be sad about. (That's not false reassurance, other him is also not-executed, from what he's finding out that wouldn't happen without the whole country knowing).

Standing is a way to be properly kneelable at; he gets back to kneeling properly. "Yes, Jiang Cheng, thank you," he says, half reflex and half so weird and then catches up with

- wait, is other Jiang Cheng leaving?

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Other Jiang Cheng is leaving.  He isn't paying attention to Wei Wuxian's proper kneeling posture.

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(of course he's not, the thing doms pay attention to is improper kneeling posture).

 

...Is he not getting punished?? That's not going to be the most surprising thing to happen tonight, because he got teleported to another universe with roof-jumping and other Jiang Cheng went with other him doing a prison break. Totally more surprising than other Jiang Cheng just jumping twelve feet. Did other Jiang Cheng just come back here to ask him questions, not even punish him for not answering the questions, and then leave again?

Wei Wuxian has a creative mind and has no trouble immediately coming up with several dozen incredibly reasonable explanations. Maybe there's a local rule that punishments happen at some time of day. Maybe there's not a rule and other Jiang Cheng just likes it that way. Maybe other Jiang Cheng wants to punish him during the day when no one's asleep and it's less quiet. Maybe other Jiang Cheng knows that waiting for punishment sucks and thinks that's great. But other Jiang Cheng didn't even say anything!

...Did he get married off somewhere in all the going to live somewhere else with a prison break? No, then other Jiang Cheng would have responded differently to the I'm-yours from before. Did he get loaned out to someone? Loaned out the way where only they're allowed to punish him for now? (His brain produces 'Wen Qing', probably because Wen Ning had come up already, and he stuffs his sleeve in his mouth so he doesn't laugh too loudly.) ...He hopes other Jiang Cheng isn't heading out to write a message to whoever it is.

He can't ask other Jiang Cheng. How-other-Jiang-Cheng-might-feel-about-him-getting-impudent-about-his-dominant's-decisions aside, other him would obviously already know how this works. Well, he's not going to figure this one out by thinking about it very hard either. Tomorrow morning other Jiang Cheng will show up and either punish him, or tell him what he's got coming, or. Or Wei Wuxian can figure something out then. He can do impudent! 'Sir Jiang Cheng, it isn't nice to make me wait so long for punishment like this'. That might work (to get him a few extra lashes, but that's how it goes)!

 

Meanwhile, he still hasn't looked at all of other him's notes, let alone figured out all of them, and now here he is with the new 'invented a whole new form of cultivation' question! He shakes out his robes a little and jumps (oops, ow) back onto the bed. Time to see if he can figure out what exactly other him invented!

(The answer, given that he's seen less than five examples of local magic that aren't from other him's notes, is definitely no. But he devours more assorted magic (and not magic) notes, and scatters more of his own notes all over anywhere within his arm's reach, and the journey's the important part!)

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(Wei Wuxian has had a considerably more exciting and fuller evening than he was planning for, and music camp believes in early rising for submissives, and he spent part of his previous night not sleeping. And he is not particularly likely to stop looking at magic notes for any of these reasons. Wrapped in robes and the blanket over his clothes again, eventually he drifts off over the stack of notes.)

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Barring emergencies (and things that other people could absolutely take care of for themselves but which are for some reason brought to him), most of Jiang Cheng's official Sect Leader business is conducted in the morning and afternoon, leaving night to himself.  This doesn't mean it isn't kept regimented and organized.  Jiang Cheng works through the list.  He switches to a high-intensity sword drill instead of a precision one and his meditation to a quick mundane variety, but everything on the list is checked off in the end.

He sleeps.

 

It's a bit past sunrise when Jiang Cheng wakes.  He goes through his usual morning routine, tallying up all of the incidental things he uses during it (soap, razor, comb, tea, water) that will need to be handled for his secret guest.  Hopefully this secrecy will pass soon and he can go back to letting the staff manage those things.  His cabinet does contain enough spare toiletries to cover him falling in the mud and needing to wash up a second time, which means there's enough for Wei Wuxian.

Did Wei Wuxian bring his own comb and razor?  Or have his old ones still in his room? 

It would be safer to use cultivation here than risk yet another trip to Wei Wuxian's room to ask.  Jiang Cheng picks out a messaging spell.  There are hundreds of different kinds, thanks to the constant arms race between people attempting to send covert messages and those attempting to intercept them.  A few constraints are universal - messages take time to travel, require energy for the distances crossed, and can only be sent to those one is very familiar with.  Not that any of those should be an issue with Jiang Cheng sending a message to Wei Wuxian.  This one is very short range and makes noise, but is invisible while traveling and simple enough to make in the air. 

He speaks into the glowing sigil in front of him.  "Wei Wuxian, are you awake yet?"  Or possibly still awake, knowing Wei Wuxian.  It would be hard for anyone to sleep with their bed covered in papers.

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The energy shoots towards its target, fading from sight when it gets about a foot away.  Heading west. 

Wei Wuxian's room is to the southeast.

 

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Jiang Cheng curses and stomps his foot.  Of course Wei Wuxian wouldn't stay in his fucking room.  He hopes that Wei Wuxian was far enough out of range that the magic ran out before it reached him.  They don't need Jiang Cheng's voice announcing Wei Wuxian's presence skulking around in the rafters of the dining hall or wherever he wound up.  Probably a roof.  Hopefully he got startled enough to fall off.

He doesn't want to cart around what he's already gathered while on his new mission to figure out where the fuck Wei Wuxian went, so he goes to Wei Wuxian's room to drop them off on whatever clear space might still exist in there.  Maybe Wei Wuxian left a note?

 

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Barring wake-up bells or household members knocking on his door or other variations of people invested in him doing so, Wei Wuxian does not wake up at a bit past sunrise time.

Here is Wei Wuxian, totally successfully asleep on his bed covered in even more papers than previously.

If Jiang Cheng is still being quiet, Wei Wuxian will just continue sleeping through his presence.

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???

Did his talisman... miss?  Can they do that?  They fail to travel at all sometimes but he's never had one go in the wrong direction before.

No.  Wei Wuxian presumably got his message and decided to run back and pretend to sleep, because he is Wei Wuxian and the most ridiculous person on the planet.  In a fit of pique, he decides to send another message talisman right in the room itself, just to make it obvious how Wei Wuxian was just caught.  "I can tell you're faking." 

And the talisman goes...

Through the western wall?

...

What?

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