Mmmmmm I'm late to XiYao Week but I'm still inspired by the prompts, so I guess I'll just keep doing it (almost two weeks after it ended, shhhhh). I always have a weakness for reincarnation AUs, and some light angst. Or maybe there's a lot of angst, but character death is just a thing that happens a lot in canon, you know? XD
"A-Yao, do you think we'll ever get it right?" Lan Xichen thinks, though from the choked sob he hears, he may have failed to keep it to himself. He's fading fast, black creeping into the edges of his vision, and Meng Yao's bloody hands are desperately gripping his. There's an apology in his eyes but Lan Xichen has already forgiven him, long before the sword pierced his flesh.
"I- I'd never," Meng Yao chokes. "A-Huan, I can't- I don't want-" he tries again, but every pretty wood he's ever said or thought has failed him, Lan Xichen realizes as Meng Yao mouths wordlessly. He's crying ugly, desperate tears as he tries in vain to help.
"It's alright," Lan Xichen tries, and Meng Yao sobs until he's laughing hysterically.
"No, no it's not, Xichen, you can't- don't you dare leave me," he demands, gripping even tighter. But it feels distant, and Lan Xichen struggles to hear the last of his words. "I can't lose you, no, A-Huan-"
Lan Xichen does his best to twine his fingers between Meng Yao's, trying to get through the sludge of his impending death, until he squeezes back. Maybe next time it'll be different.
"No, no, stay with me," he begs. "I love-"
But he can't hold on anymore, and Lan Xichen dies again.
A third life passes alone- free of great tragedy or war, but two men are left feeling like there was always something missing.
"I can't believe this," Meng Yao says, head tilted back as he stares at the ceiling of the dingy jail cell. The small sliver of light from the setting sun casts harsh shadows across his face, but Lan Xichen would recognize him anywhere.
"Perhaps you could stop breaking the law quite so much," he suggests, though he'd like to ask 'Why are you still killing others to get ahead?' But he doesn't, because he's the idiot who stood up for him again.
He sighs deeply, refusing to meet Lan Xichen's gaze. "I didn't think I'd get caught," he finally answers. "What about you?"
Lan Xichen hums softly in lieu of answering at first, carefully considering his words. There's no easy way to answer, and yet it's also so very simple.
"I don't recognize that," Meng Yao comments, pulling Lan Xichen from his thoughts.
He lips pull upwards slightly, a small smile settling on his face. "I suppose you wouldn't, but it was always intended for you," he explains, and gets the rare gift of an honest blush on Meng Yao's face. "Now is as good a time as any for you to finally hear it."
"We're going to die tomorrow," he snaps.
"Well then, try not to murder anyone next time, A-Yao," Lan Xichen chides, thinking that maybe he should try to chastise him more. But Meng Yao is his weakness, in this life and every other, until perhaps fate will give them a happier ending.
Meng Yao scoots as close as his restraints will allow, and they meet the dawn hand in hand.
"Why do you still love me?"
Lan Xichen still doesn't have an answer, no matter how many lifetimes pass. How can he describe the way his breath catches when he sees Meng Yao, or how lucky he feels knowing that there is a smile reserved just for him? Neither of them are perfect people and fate seems to have marked them both as eternally unlucky, but together it still feels like so much more.
Instead, he offers Meng Yao his hand. There's an almost disbelieving smile but he takes it, holds on firmly, and smiles.
"I've never regretted it," Lan Xichen decides on, smiling back.