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Jan 10, 2023
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feeling nostalgic for the past so — modern #xicheng runaway au. 16yo jc has had enough of his parents and takes a night bus to run away from home. 16yo lxc, class captain, school ambassador, peer support mentor etc etc follows him to try to convince him to go home “as his duty”

Jiang Cheng hops onto the 907 bus, a single dark purple backpack slung over his shoulder. It’s just past midnight in the relatively quiet suburbs of Yunmeng. This is the last bus that goes anywhere. And Jiang Cheng wants just that. To go anywhere. Anywhere but here.
The bus driver doesn’t give him a second look as he trots down the aisle, her eyes focused lazily on the road as she presses a button and the doors hiss closed — the bus rights itself and barrels down the main road. Jiang Cheng, lanky and tall and still in the middle of his fight
with puberty, slumps awkwardly into a window seat near the back. He sinks down, knees bent towards his chest and arms wrapped around the backpack carrying what odd things he thought would last him at least a few weeks on the streets. A change of clothes, cigarettes, his laptop
(to pawn if needed), a single can of minestrone soup, and about two-hundred and seventy dollars, saved up from secret shifts at Huaisang’s auntie’s laundromat. He’s thought of this for a long time. Nights hollow and anguished, wondering why his parents couldn’t love him, why
it seemed like his existence itself was grave wrongdoing. He was never enough, and trying to be whatever the fuck he was underneath all the people pleasing only made them hate him more. Jiang Cheng had spent so many years, every day of his life, trying to be Wei WuXian,
and every night feeling his guts pulled out from his chest from the knowledge that he’ll never, ever be good enough no matter how he tried. Wei WuXian was born lucky. He was lucky to be born. Something intrinsic was wrong about him. Something in his genetic material had destined
him to inferiority, to mistakes, to selfishness that made his mother mad and his father perpetually disappointed. Being what they wanted wasn’t possible. Being himself was only worse. Jiang Cheng was built wrong. Born wrong. Made with the wrong parts. He’ll never be what anyone
ever wanted to be. So he’ll rather not be around anyone at all. That was the plan. Take all the money he had and go as far away as possible. Find someplace to hide away. Maybe somewhere to belong. Somewhere full of other people who were not enough, people who wouldn’t look at
him with such ice and disdain. Jiang Cheng didn’t care that it was silly. He didn’t even care that it wasn’t realistic, that chances were he’ll end up dead or worse, back home to even angrier and more disappointed parents. He couldn’t see any other way out. There’s nothing for
him in Yunmeng, where he grew up, where he grew to hate himself and everything he grew to be. Jiang Cheng squeezes his hands around his backpack, feeling hot tears rising to his eyes and nose. He raises a hand to discreetly wipe them away when suddenly—
“Jiang Cheng.” To say that Jiang Cheng leapt out of his skin is not much of an exaggeration. Jiang Cheng jumped back into the window, making a loud thud as he tried to scramble backwards to no avail. Sitting calmly facing him in the adjacent row was Lan XiChen, class captain and
a bunch of other pretentious, good-boy things represented by the trail of badges that ran down the lapel of his uniform at school. He wasn’t in his uniform this time. Jiang Cheng had never seen him in casual clothing before. Lan XiChen was third-generation rich; self-respecting
upper middle class blue-and-white-instead-of-beige rich. He wore expensive tailored dress pants and a white cotton dress shirt rolled up at the elbows, buttoned almost to the top. His shoes were shiny black leather, as if they were polished every morning, maybe even every night.
Only his normally gelled-back hair was slightly out of place — a pleasing tumble of waves gracing over his forehead, parting elegantly in the middle to reveal his widow’s peak. Jiang Cheng and Lan XiChen were not friends. In fact, Lan XiChen was a downright annoyance to him.
Walking around with his perfect posture and perfect hair and perfect life, trying to convince Jiang Cheng with a gentle voice to stop smoking whenever he found him behind the school. At least his younger twin brother, Lan Wangji, had the decency to simply snatch the cigarettes
out of his hand and throw them into the nearest bin. No need for false courtesies, speaking as if Jiang Cheng was someone to be saved. “What the fuck are you doing here?” Jiang Cheng collects himself, poorly, bringing his legs up onto the bus seat to hug them to his chest.
Lan XiChen smiles weakly, his brows downturned. “I…saw your posts on social media. I was concerned, so I walked to your house to check in on you, and I saw you leaving it. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. It’s very late. It could be dangerous for you to go out alone.”
Jiang Cheng bites his lip, kicking himself for vagueposting about his planned escape without thinking. Oh, and there’s that other convenient fact. Jiang Cheng and Lan XiChen are neighbours. Ever since the Lans moved to Yunmeng from esteemed Gusu when Jiang Cheng was six,
there were only more talented, brilliant kids around for his parents to compare him to. God must have really had it out for him. Maybe he really fucked something up in a past life. Make a name for himself torturing innocents or decimating a small town or something.
“You’re a creep,” Jiang Cheng spits. Lan XiChen just smiles. “Our parents are friends, A-Cheng. Your father told me to watch out for you.” Jiang Cheng feels anger shoot up hot inside him. “Don’t!” he warns. “Fucking call me A-Cheng.” Only jie is allowed to call him that.
Even his friends call him Xiao-Jiang at the very most. Anyone else. Jiang Cheng only. Especially someone so distant from him like Lan XiChen. “We’ve known each other since we were 6.” “You don’t know me.” Lan XiChen just smiles. Jiang Cheng hates that smile. That perfect, perfect
smile that everybody thinks so highly of, that reassures all, that charms all inclined girls, brings jealousy to so-inclined boys. “Where are you planning to go?” Lan XiChen’s voice has finally turned more serious. Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “Gonna rat me out?”
“If I have reason to be concerned for your safety, then yes.” Jiang Cheng’s face scrunches up in extreme disdain. “Fucking prissy.” Lan XiChen’s finally smile drops, replaced with small frustration. “Jiang Cheng,” he says, half warm, half cold.
Jiang Cheng would be lying if he said he stomach didn’t drop a little at the tone. Lan XiChen stands up, his shadow towering menacingly over Jiang Cheng’s cramped figure. “I was born a month before you, so I’m older. You have to do as I say.”
Jiang Cheng gulps once, unsure what to make of this sudden childish assertion. “What do you say?” Jiang Cheng says, half nervously and half flatly. Lan XiChen’s dark eyes burn into Jiang Cheng’s head.
“Move your feet,” he instructs, then takes Jiang Cheng by the ankles and moves them for him before settling down neatly into the seat beside Jiang Cheng.
The bus is hurtling down the winding roads much faster than it needs to at this hour. The asphalt beneath the wheels became increasingly rough, shaking the seats uncomfortably below their backsides. They’ve been silent for a while, until Lan XiChen says quietly:
“We don’t have to talk.” It may be his version of an olive branch, but Jiang Cheng’s version of taking it is by not talking at all. Lan XiChen doesn’t seem to mind, continuing to look ahead with that small vacant smile. “If you want to run away, I’ll come with you. I won’t tell
Uncle or Auntie Jiang. I’ll stay with you until you decide to come back.” “And if I never come back?” Jiang Cheng interjects sharply. “Then neither will I.” Jiang Cheng opens his mouth but stops. He doesn’t have a punchy reply to that. As if the famously studious Lan XiChen
would deign himself to miss even a day of school just to play runaway with the town disappointment Jiang Cheng. They drive down several more streets before Jiang Cheng responds. “Why?” he asks. He tells himself he doesn’t really care for an answer.
“I promised your father,” Lan Xichen says without looking at him. Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “If you were really doing it for my father, you’d call him now and tell him to come drag me home. Why are you really staying here, past your precious bedtime?” Jiang Cheng hadn’t missed
the yawn Lan XiChen had tried to conceal earlier. “I forgot to bring my phone,” the boy says, almost sheepishly. Jiang Cheng scoffs, incredulous. “How are you gonna get home at this hour without your phone? Did the famously smart Lan XiChen not think things through?”
Lan XiChen shrugs. Even his shrugs are elegant. “You just gonna let yourself get stranded like that?” Jiang Cheng presses. “I told you, I’m staying with you til the end,” Lan XiChen simply replies. Jiang Cheng grimaces. “So this is what your good boy act gets you, huh? Stranded
in the middle of nowhere with a stranger.” Jiang Cheng turns his gaze out the window, watching as trees fall out of view and houses blur into pavement. “You’re not a stranger. I care about you, Jiang Cheng. I always have.” Jiang Cheng imagines a little stick figure is stuck to
the window, jumping over telephone wires and summersaulting on roofs. He hears Lan XiChen sigh, long and gratuitous. “I—” It’s rare to hear the boy stutter. “Wangji…my brother…he has feelings for you.” Jiang Cheng’s ear perk up and his focused is removed from the window
in favour of the other boy. “He what?” Lan XiChen is biting his lip, hands pressed over his knees. Jiang Cheng is only getting more confused by the second. ‘Has feelings’ for him? What does he mean by that? As if perfect Lan Wangji would ever like someone
like Jiang Cheng. Surely he was taking the piss. As pristine and proper as Lan XiChen was, the boy at least had a sense of humour, something Jiang Cheng had to become familiar with growing up. “Shut up,” Jiang Cheng says. Lan XiChen doesn’t say anything. “Shut up,” he says again.
Lan XiChen closes his eyes for a second, then stands from his seat. “I’m sorry,” he says quietly. “I’m tired, so I’m just saying things. Forget I said that. I’ll leave you to do whatever you want, so—” Jiang Cheng pounces on his sleeve. “No. Sit down. Explain to me.”
oops this turned into purposeful miscommunication ~ is lxc lying? will he break his own heart? what will jc do about all this? i don’t know either, let’s find out~!
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feeling nostalgic for the past so — modern #xicheng runaway au. 16yo jc has had enough of his parents and takes a night bus to run away from home. 16yo lxc, class captain, school ambassador, peer support mentor etc etc follows him to try to convince him to go home “as his duty”
Lan XiChen has on a rather complicated expression. Jiang Cheng tightens his grip around the front of his shirt, sure to leave uncharacteristic wrinkles in his fingers’ wake. He pauses to wonder if a Lan’s clothes are even capable of being wrinkled, and then pauses pausing when
the bus hurtles mercilessly over a speed bump and Jiang Cheng makes a split decision to wrap one hand over the back of Lan XiChen’s head and the other behind his back in order to cushion the inevitable fall. And boy, do they fall.
“Sorry,” the bus driver says unapologetically through the intercom. “Speed bump.” Jiang Cheng curses her under his breath, starts planning up what dirty look he’ll give her when he’s getting off the bus later.
Lan XiChen beneath him is completely rigid. Jiang Cheng doesn’t think much of it as he lifts his cheek from the boy’s collar, til he’s high enough to see his face — eyes wide and blinking, completely pink on the fine apples of his cheeks.
𝘈𝘩, thinks Jiang Cheng. 𝘏𝘦’𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘶𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘺 𝘣𝘶𝘴 𝘧𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘳 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦. Half of him wants to leave the prissy on the floor for a little longer, let him imagine all the germs creeping into his hair.
The other half doesn’t want to deal with a Lan breakdown right now, so he moves to lift himself and Lan XiChen off the ground, except a pain shoots up one of his hands and he winces with a loud “Tssk!” The hand had been behind Lan XiChen’s head when he fell, and took the
full force of the metal step of the opposite seats. He hadn’t noticed til just then. He’s grown a heightened pain tolerance over time, never knowing if announcing his pains would get him help or resentment from his parents.
Lan XiChen instantly panics and grabs for Jiang Cheng’s hand. Jiang Cheng scurries back, trying to pull his hand out of Lan XiChen’s grip as they return gingerly to their seats. “It’s fine,” Jiang Cheng spits. “It’s not fine! Look how red it is! You shouldn’t have…”
“Oh, and just let the precious Jade of Gusu College hit his precious head like that? All your fans would kill me for sure.” “I don’t have fans…” Lan XiChen says the words without looking at him, eyes fixed on Jiang Cheng’s battered knuckles. The longer he looks at them, the
lower his brows get. Lan XiChen delicately touches at Jiang Cheng’s still fingers, inspecting each one with far too much consideration for such a petty wound. The boy wrings his lips, looks around the bus as if hoping to find something to soothe the throbbing hand, then turns
his attention back, taking a small rueful breath, and making a tiny ‘o’ with his mouth, blowing cool air into the open sores. Jiang Cheng had been looking on at Lan XiChen’s expressions in amusement until then. As Lan XiChen’s breaths met his skin, however, he froze completely.
It was strange. As if it could be anything but strange! Having Gusu College’s top boy leaning over his hand, as if about to place a princely kiss upon it, blowing gently into the hot blaring pain, as if the pain mattered, as if the pain was real and not just some excuse
Jiang Cheng was making up to slack off or beg for attention. Jiang Cheng knows his worth. Knows he doesn’t deserve this level of care. He wants to rip his hand away. Needs to fuck off and run away before he gets fucking weird about this seemingly small act. Lan XiChen probably
has no idea what he’s doing to Jiang Cheng’s head right now. The type of boy to spend precious hours trying to save some injured bird that was doomed to die anyway. Jiang Cheng was just another project on his list of co-curriculars. Somehow that makes him irrationally mad.
“Stop it!” Lan XiChen’s grasp loosens and Jiang Cheng takes the opportunity to pull his hand to his chest, lifting his legs towards himself and curling towards the window, away from Lan XiChen. Lan XiChen opens his mouth, then closes it. “Stop overstepping,” Jiang Cheng warns.
“Or…or else…” he doesn’t know. Or else I’ll beat you up? Or else I’ll run away? Or else I’ll scream? Lan XiChen’s looks genuinely regretful, his eyes shining with the fast passing street lights, glimmer shimmering in the dark doting brown of his irises. “I’m sorry…” he says
pathetically. He sounds like he’d just been kicked. He has his hands settled weakly in his lap, head lowered so that he has to look up to meet Jiang Cheng’s less than willing gaze. Jiang Cheng has to fight the urge to laugh, or coo. Lan XiChen looks like a dog caught doing
something wrong. Jiang Cheng thinks of his dogs. The dogs he had before Wei WuXian moved in. He misses them dearly. He really has nothing left anymore. Not even a humble dog to bark when he called their name. No friends who listened. No parents who cared. No fluffy dogs to hold.
No worth to hang onto, to live for, to prove. No one to worry about him if he were to run away. Oh — Actually. Jiang Cheng looks at Lan XiChen again. Feels the throbbing in his hand. His fingers twitch. He relaxes his body very slightly, begins lifting his knuckles away from his
chest and towards— “I’m sorry,” Lan XiChen repeats, voice softer than ever now. Jiang Cheng stops his movement. Lan XiChen turns away from Jiang Cheng and faces the front of the bus, hands wringing. “I won’t do it again,” he promises. “It was improper.”
Jiang Cheng stares at the side profile of the Jade of Gusu’s face. Unfortunately, he really is like a jade. Unfortunately, he really is nice to look at. Unfortunately, Jiang Cheng can only scoff. “You’re right,” Jiang Cheng sneers, rubbing covert circles into the palm pressed
into his front. “It is improper. What would your brother think, for example?” Lan XiChen visibly stiffens. Jiang Cheng laughs; a single huff of pitiful air. “Ha! You saying that he likes me…what a fucking joke. I’m not an idiot. This Jiang Cheng is not someone who is liked.”
He’s only hurting himself with his own words, heart wrenching with how easy it is to believe them. Speaking them aloud only sets them in stone for the world to see. Once, Jiang Cheng might have been able to deny them, been able to pretend he didn’t care. But, oh well.
The truth always comes out.Everybody already knows it anyway. It was about time he made the official announcement. Jiang Cheng is caught off-guard when he sees Lan XiChen’s knuckles are white from squeezing his seat. “That’s not true!” the boy booms, voice even lower than usual.
Something rumbles deep in his tone. For a second Jiang Cheng is worried he’s actually made the famously mild-mannered Lan angry. Quickly though, Jiang Cheng decides Lan XiChen fully deserves the frustration of being caught in a lie. It was his fault for making shit up just for an
excuse to stalk Jiang Cheng like this. If he’s angry Jiang Cheng is kicking the lie out from under him, it’s entirely his fault and bed to lie in. Yet Jiang Cheng can’t resist stirring it further. “Oh yeah? What does young master Lan like about me then?Say one thing.” This should
be fun. Even as his chest twists and tugs at the knowledge that all he will hear will be empty silences and hapless stuttering, even as he wishes it weren’t true that there was nothing to like of him, even as— “Your moles.” The churning in his chest turns light as helium
and drops simultaneously to the bottom of his stomach and to the top of his throat. “What?” he manages, scratchy and quiet. “Your moles,” Lan XiChen mutters. He’s not looking at him. “He likes your moles. The little light ones around your eyes. Wangji, that is.”
Jiang Cheng’s mouth opens and closes over air. He looks at Lan XiChen, tips of his ears red as can be, and doesn’t know if he wants to kill him or run and hide. He sits uselessly in the boiling hot silence, trying to remember what his own face looks like, what could possibly be
worth mentioning about… Then Jiang Cheng slaps Lan XiChen hard on the shoulder with his uninjured hand, prompting the boy to jump and look at him, baffled. “They’re not moles, you fucking idiot,” says Jiang Cheng. “They’re 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘴. Get your facts—” Jiang Cheng is
hitting Lan XiChen a few more times for good measure when he realises Lan XiChen isn’t actually the culprit, he’s just a messenger, and stops hitting him. His voice goes a bit quieter. “…Get your brother to get his facts right.” Jiang Cheng turns away, for some reason
embarrassed by his own childish outburst, for laughing, for finding it 𝘧𝘶𝘯𝘯𝘺. Jiang Cheng looks out the window for assistance, hoping for some sort of distraction from his lame feelings, when he spots a familiar building and dashes to press the red ‘STOP’ button by his seat.
Just about to pass the stop, the driver slams on the breaks, tires screeching and bus lurching hard into itself. “Give me some warning, will ya?” the bus driver calls out, only somewhat annoyed. Jiang Cheng practically leaps out of his seat, darts past Lan XiChen, and bolts down
the aisle. He yells a brief “I don’t care!” to the driver before rushing right out the nearest door, a wide grin growing on his face. Lan XiChen barely catches up with him, touching off his bus card with a “Thank you! Sorry!” and sprinting to follow an overexcited Jiang Cheng.
top! ⬆️
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feeling nostalgic for the past so — modern #xicheng runaway au. 16yo jc has had enough of his parents and takes a night bus to run away from home. 16yo lxc, class captain, school ambassador, peer support mentor etc etc follows him to try to convince him to go home “as his duty”
i made a curiouscat! tell me what ur thinking pls pls plspsspssspssssssss
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| writer | ☂️ allcheng, zhancheng, xicheng 🐋 | mdzs/svsss main | 23 | nsfw | dead dove sometimes | emphatichearts on ao3
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