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All or nothing

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Jiang Cheng pinches the bridge of his nose when Wei Wuxian goes on and on about something absolutely inane, and he doesn’t seem to care at all that Jiang Cheng has actual important correspondence to take care of.

“Wei Wuxian,” he growls, not for the first time in the last hour, but Wei Wuxian only gives him his trademark smile and goes right on.

Jiang Cheng is as of yet undecided if he wants to bash his own head in or Wei Wuxian’s but before he can come to a decision about that Nie Mingjue comes into the room.

He’s a sight for sore eyes and Jiang Cheng immediately tilts his head up for a kiss.

“Missed you,” he mumbles when they part and Nie Mingjue takes the opportunity to card his fingers through the hair that flows over Jiang Cheng’s back.

He wears it open when he has a day full of paperwork scheduled, mostly because the weight of the guan is killing him when he has to look down for hours on end, and he knows that Nie Mingjue loves it.

It might be part of the reason he’s doing it.

“Ew, you two are so disgusting,” Wei Wuxian complaints and Jiang Cheng levels him with a hard look.

“I caught you with your hand down Lan Wangji’s pants once, out in public, so you better shut up,” Jiang Cheng snaps at him but immediately relaxes when Nie Mingjue puts his hand on his neck.

“We decided not to talk about that anymore,” Nie Mingjue tells him, because he remembers that moment as well, and he hates it just as much as Jiang Cheng does. “I received news from Qinghe,” Nie Mingjue then says and Jiang Cheng sighs, already knowing what Nie Mingjue will say.

“You can’t stay.”

“I can’t stay,” he agrees, though he looks apologetic about it.

Jiang Cheng chases that look away with a kiss to his cheek.

“What happened?” he asks, because for all that he is of Yunmeng Jiang, he loves Qinghe Nie enough to be worried about it.

“A landslide. Reports say no one died, but several houses got destroyed and the area is not safe. I have to help.”

“I understand,” Jiang Cheng reassures him but Nie Mingjue shakes his head.

“I’m going to miss your birthday,” he says and Jiang Cheng shrugs.

“Doesn’t matter. We can celebrate it late. And it’s not the first one we miss.”

“And it won’t be the last,” Nie Mingjue grumbles, but he smiles too. “I bet you’re going to cancel on me because of harvest season, like every year.”

“I just might,” Jiang Cheng says with a wince but Nie Mingjue doesn’t seem to mind it much.

He understands that it’s important.

“Yeah, well, let’s just see how it turns out this year,” Nie Mingjue decides and then gets up. “Though I’m sorry I have to leave this early. I was looking forward to our week.”

“Can’t be helped,” Jiang Cheng agrees, though he can’t deny that he’s disappointed, too.

They had a lot planned and he had missed Nie Mingjue. It would have been nice to spend a few days together.

“I’ll make up for it,” Nie Mingjue promises him and Jiang Cheng snorts because he knows where these promises lead.

Both of them broke them more than once already.

“Or not, I guess,” he says with a wink and then drags Nie Mingjue into a biting kiss, before he sends him on his way.

“That was—sure something,” Wei Wuxian suddenly says from the side and Jiang Cheng has to admit that he forgot about him for a moment.

One blissful moment.

“What?” he snaps out, turning towards him and challenging him to speak his mind.

Not that Wei Wuxian needs much challenging most of the time.

“He’s going to miss your birthday,” Wei Wuxian says and Jiang Cheng shrugs.

“Yeah, so?”

“If I missed your birthday you would be furious,” Wei Wuxian goes on and Jiang Cheng nods.

“Yes, I would be,” he agrees, because it’s true.

“Why are you not angry at him but angry at me?”

“Maybe because you’re a wandering cultivator who doesn’t have anything better to do than remember my birthday? He has a Sect to lead.”

“That doesn’t—and you’re going to miss his birthday, too?”

“It’s harvest season, Wei Wuxian, I’m sure you remember how that goes,” Jiang Cheng says with a frown, because surely Wei Wuxian’s memory can’t be that bad.

“I do, but—missing his birthday entirely? I’m sure you can delegate. I mean, the landslide I kind of understand, it’s an emergency, even if I don’t see why Mingjue should be required to help but harvest season. Just prepare better for it.”

Jiang Cheng blinks slowly because surely Wei Wuxian did not just tell him to plan a harvest better.

“I mean—do you even love him?”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Jiang Cheng wants to know, now entirely confused about where this is going.

“You just basically told him it doesn’t matter if he’s here for your birthday and that you don’t plan to come to his. I would be careful if I were you, Jiang Cheng, or Mingjue is going to find someone else to court. If you behave like this you won’t bag that.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Jiang Cheng asks because he doesn’t understand what’s going on at all anymore. “You do know that we’re married, right?”

“You’re what?” Wei Wuxian screeches and Jiang Cheng guesses that’s a no.

“We’ve been married for almost ten years now, so I really don’t know what you’re so worried about.”

“But then I understand it even less! If Lan Zhan would miss my birthday, I would be devastated! My Lan Zhan always makes sure I come first!”

“Yeah, and don’t we all suffer for it,” Jiang Cheng grumbles under his breath, but of course Wei Wuxian picks up on it.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Wei Wuxian asks and he seems honestly oblivious, which just makes Jiang Cheng angry.

“It means that he’s the Chief Cultivator, first and foremost. He has duties. His duty is not to indulge his husband and spoil him like a little kid, but to solve the Sect matters that are brought before him. Do you even know how dangerous it is when he abandons his responsibilities to indulge one of your whims? The matters that are brought before him are the worst ones; the ones that are too difficult to solve between the Sects themselves. Sometimes he’s the one who prevents an outright Sect war. It’s outrageous that he fucks off at all times of the day just to play with you!”

“But—he’s my husband!”

He’s the Chief Cultivator!” Jiang Cheng says again. “He has duties and responsibilities. Just like me and Mingjue. We are our own person first, and then we are Sect Leaders, and sometimes even that gets swapped around. We’re only husbands third and we understand that.”

“That doesn’t sound very loving at all,” Wei Wuxian grumbles and Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes at him.

“Because you are entirely too spoilt already. It’s not—it’s not all or nothing, Wei Wuxian. Just because he can’t be here in two days doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. Just because I can’t be there when it’s his birthday doesn’t mean I don’t love him. It doesn’t change anything about our love for each other, it just means we have other priorities.”

“Your husband should always be your first priority.”

Jiang Cheng stares at him because he cannot understand how Wei Wuxian can have so little responsibility in his life that he doesn’t see Jiang Cheng’s point.

“I wouldn’t love him like I do, if he would abandon his Sect for me,” Jiang Cheng states. “And he wouldn’t love me, either. It’s part of who we are, and it’s more important to us than anything else.”

“You already put so much into your Sect, it’s time they give you something back,” Wei Wuxian mutters and Jiang Cheng shakes his head.

“They do, though. They give me back so much. They work hard and because of that I’m able to take days off every now and then, sometimes even entire weeks. But for that I have to give something back, too, and that can be helping with the harvest. For Mingjue it’s helping with rebuilding. He’ll push himself to his limits, I know that already, just so he can come back faster, but he has to be there right now. And that’s okay.”

“It wouldn’t be okay for me,” Wei Wuxian decides and Jiang Cheng honestly feels sorry for him.

“I’m sorry to hear that you’re so insecure in your marriage that you would doubt your husbands love if he ever told you no,” Jiang Cheng says, already turning back towards his letters.

Surely whatever Sect Leader Yao writes must be more engaging than this.

“You can’t tell me that Mingjue told you no and you simply accepted it,” Wei Wuxian says, the incredulity clear in his voice and Jiang Cheng sighs.

“Sometimes I accept it. Sometimes we argue about it and he changes his mind and sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes I tell him no. It’s a balance, Wei Wuxian, and it’s compromise. If he would simply indulge every whim I have I would start to resent him. He can’t put me first; he should put his Sect first, and then himself.”

There’s a beat of silence before Wei Wuxian shakes his head.

“I don’t understand your relationship at all. To me it simply looks like you don’t love him.”

“And I don’t understand your relationship either, because to me it looks like you love nothing more than him.”

“But that’s how it should be,” Wei Wuxian cries out and Jiang Cheng rubs his temple.

“Not for me. I know that Nie Mingjue loves me, even if he puts other people or his Sect before me. Just because in that moment he choses someone else doesn’t take away from his love for me. And duties and responsibilities have nothing to do with love, anyway. They are something that you have to do. Loving someone is what you choose to do. And most of the times the things you have to do take precedence, especially if you’re a Sect Leader.”

Jiang Cheng is pretty proud of himself for keeping this calm with Wei Wuxian, even though he has to explain the same thing over and over again, but when he looks at Wei Wuxian and still sees confusion on his face, he gives up.

There’s only so much patience he can have.

“Lan Zhan would never put anyone before me,” Wei Wuxian declares and Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes again as he gets up and gathers his letters.

“Not even his family? Not even the people he swore to protect? Not even the Cultivational World he was put in charge of? That sounds like a bad leader and role model to me and also like your love might not be as strong as you think it is,” he tells Wei Wuxian and then simply leaves him where he is.

He has had enough talk about relationships, and especially about having to defend his own marriage from someone who didn’t even know he was married.

Jiang Cheng scoffs at Wei Wuxian’s notion of a relationship; to him it sounds like the idolised dream of a child. His version is something you dream of when you’re a kid and only fantasizing about a relationship but the reality is very different. And so much more beautiful and rewarding in Jiang Cheng’s opinion.

Jiang Cheng just hopes that Wei Wuxian will eventually mature enough to grow up and grow out of this phase.

And until then he’ll avoid Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian as much as he can and wait for Nie Mingjue to return to him as fast as his duties allow him to.