[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 3019 words
Prompt: in simplified terms, Kris is a duke, Lay is a courtesan who has a jaded view on life and has trust issues.
Notes: see here. Unedited/unbeta-ed.




Yixing groaned as an urgent hand shook his shoulders, “Wake up, you lazy brat!”

Disgruntled at the rude awakening, Yixing swatted at the hand while rubbing the lingering sleep from his eyes. “What?!” he yelled blearily before realizing who was shaking him. Scrambling to apologize to Lady Pearl, he pulled to his feet clumsily, “I’m sorry, I was just- I’m not really a morning person,” he explained, skirting away from the real reason for his short temper this morning; he’d spent the better part of his night begging for sleep to relieve him from the relentless voice in his head that tried to decipher what the Duke had meant when he’d stopped by earlier.

Lady Pearl only crossed her arms with a shake of her head as Yixing combed fingers through his hair to rid it of overnight kinks. She made a disapproving click with her tongue as she continued to scowl, “I’ve never seen such a lucky unlucky bastard,” she muttered to herself, which raised a curious eyebrow from Yixing.

“What?” the courtesan repeated, though this time with a significantly lower voice.

Lady Pearl sighed as she gave Yixing a once-over before shaking her head again, “Never you mind. Come downstairs, there’s someone waiting downstairs for you. Don’t bother changing out of that, I doubt he’s gunna mind.”

“What? Who?” Yixing flubbed as he followed after Lady Pearl, whose only response was to shake her head yet again, making the courtesan wonder to himself what exactly he’d done to get on her bad side again. Mind still going over the previous day and how he might’ve upset Lady Pearl, he nearly tripped on the stairs, reaching immediately for the railing to break his fall, breathing a sigh of relief that Lady Pearl hadn’t noticed the misstep, only to have it caught in his throat as he realized who it was that had made Lady Pearl wake him so unceremoniously. “Ah, Baozi,” he exclaimed before catching himself too late, “I mean, Minseok. What can I do for you?” He corrected himself, eyes flicking around in search of the Duke, finding only his nosy fellows, whispering excitedly to each other behind their sleeves.

Minseok only got to his feet with almost just as much grace as his master – Yixing found himself wondering idly if he’d ever seen the manservant seated before – and motioned for Yixing to join him at the table. Yixing chewed on his lip as he took a seat opposite Minseok, eyes flitting to Lady Pearl for any hint of why the Duke’s servant was here, alone of all things.

“This man has exciting news for you,” was all Lady Pearl announced before joining Yixing and Minseok at the table, excited tone doing nothing but peak Yixing’s interest further. He sneaked a look back at Minseok, seated perfectly erect, hands folded neatly on the surface in front of him and looking unnaturally tense, even for him. “What can I do for you?” he asked again, trying to fill in the silence that had fallen between the three.

Minseok took a deep breath, hesitating visibly before exhaling, “The Duke has requested for your presence by his side.”

Yixing resisted the urge to press for more; the last time the Duke had sent Minseok to The Star in his place, Yixing had been requested to dance for a party. What exactly was it that the Duke wanted now? Is that what he’d meant by requesting a “moment of his time” last night? He glanced over at Lady Pearl again to find her almost shaking with barely concealed excitement and his eyebrows stitched together in confusion; this was hardly something new that warranted such a reaction.

“Permanently,” Minseok finished belatedly.

Yixing stared across the table blankly until Lady Pearl nudged him in the ribs.

“I…?” he muttered in alarm, jolted from the vast emptiness that had found home in his head.

“She’s just in shock is all,” Lady Pearl covered for Yixing with another jab to his side.

Minseok only smiled politely, focus never leaving Yixing even as he nodded with understanding, “That’s quite alright. I’m aware this might’ve come as a surprise. Please take all the time you need.”

A nerve twitched around Yixing’s left eye and he caught Lady Pearl fidgeting nervously beside him, “Ah, yes, well, uhm, silly me! I forgot to offer you a drink! Just give me a moment,” she rambled before standing up abruptly.

Yixing’s gaze fell idly to the clean cups in the center of the tabletop, turned upside down in an organized set of four. “Permanently?” An invisible force started tugging at the corner of his lips unwittingly as he experimented with the term on his tongue.

“There is a room ready for you already at the Duke’s home. The Duke couldn’t come tell you himself because he’s gotten caught up with some things and he sent me in his stead. He apologizes for his absence.”

Yixing barely heard a word that Minseok said as he continued to stare at the set of cups. Permanently. Forever. He’d be gone from The Star permanently. Gone for good. Forever. This was what he’d been waiting for as long as he could remember, for him to leave The Star and start a new life for him and Lu Han.

The courtesan looked up abruptly at the thought of the boy, peering around Minseok to search the establishment, “Where’s Lu Han?” he asked out loud, though more to himself than actually expecting a reply from his audience.

“Lu Han?” Minseok repeated, visibly taken back as he tried to string together what the boy had to do with the situation at hand. “What’s this have to do with that boy?”

“I made a promise that if this day here ever came, I’d take him with me,” Yixing recited as he stood up and squinted up to the second floor, trying to ignore the fervent whispering around him.

“That… wasn’t part of the deal with Lady Pearl,” Minseok replied and Yixing swung his attention wholly on the manservant with a hard swallow, realizing that his dream had been so unachievable, he never sat down to think if he would be allowed to take Lu Han with him when the time came. “We can come back for him at a later time.”

Yixing’s fingers clenched into fists at his side, “I’m not leaving without him,” he said flatly, realizing he was taking a risk. Minseok might end up simply leaving without either of them altogether, but Yixing knew that ‘later’ always meant never.

As if on cue, there was a clamoring behind him and Yixing spun around to find Lu Han barreling down the staircase, a million hands flying out after him to hold him back to no avail. “Yixing gege!” he exclaimed loudly as he hit the main level, slapping a hand over his own mouth when he realized his mistake, swallowing visibly as Yixing made his way over to him. Mouthing silently to Lu Han to keep quiet, Yixing took the boy’s hand and headed back to the table, ignoring the other girls who looked on with baited breath.

“Baozi ge… are you here to take Lay jiejie away?” Lu Han asked in an almost inaudible voice, thick with worry as he turned to look up at Yixing, his tiny hands gripping the courtesan’s tightly, “Yan jiejie says you’re going to live with the Duke and leave me behind,” he continued, bottom lip trembling even as he spoke nervously.

Yixing squeezed the boy’s hand in a motion to comfort but kept an unyielding gaze on Minseok, “Of course not, we stick together no matter what, remember?”

Minseok returned an almost equally unyielding look before he let out a long sigh and looked down towards Lu Han, “Of course not,” he repeated with a defeated smile as he stood up to join the pair, kneeling down on one knee to meet Lu Han eye-to-eye. “How about you take these men to help Lay jiejie pack up her things?” he asked, ruffling the young boy’s hair once before motioning towards the entrance where a couple of servant lay in wait, unnoticed by Yixing during the whole exchange.

A bright smile lit Lu Han’s face as though he hadn’t just been on the verge of tears, “And then can we eat together, Baozi gege?”

Minseok returned a light chuckle as he waved the boy off gently, “Of course, my treat,” he added, waiting for the several men that had come with him to disappear up the stairs with Lu Han before turning to face Yixing once more.

The courtesan swallowed hard, willing himself to hold the manservant’s gaze with determination, reminding the latter that he wasn’t leaving without his best friend without actually saying it again. Minseok raised an eyebrow at Yixing as though amused by his expression, “That boy is lucky to have you.”

I’m luckier to have him,” Yixing replied just as Lady Pearl returned with a waiter carrying a bottle of wine in tow. Motioning for the bottle to be placed next to the set of cups, Lady Pearl joined them at the table once more, looking between Yixing and Minseok for a moment before picking up on discord between them.

“Is something the matter?” Lady Pearl asked, voice thick with concern.

Concern for her own bottom line, Yixing thought to himself a little bitterly. She couldn’t care less about Lu Han. He didn’t bother glancing over at her to acknowledge her arrival, swallowing once more as Minseok sighed to himself, as though finally coming to a conclusion. “Please make sure that you have all your belongings; we’ll be leaving as soon as possible. I’d like to have a moment with Lady Pearl though,” the manservant added, giving Yixing a nod that made the latter finally breathe out a sigh of relief before returning the nod and excusing himself to hurry to his room, avoiding the whispers as he passed the other girls.

Yixing barely acknowledged the strangers in his room as he made a beeline for the drawers by his vanity; there were few things he possessed that he would take everywhere with him and they were all in these drawers. His fingers rustled through the various items, barely registering their ornate worth as he reached deftly for the back corner, sighing with relief when he found what he’d been looking for.

“Yixing gege?”

Yixing turned around to find a pile of his clothes staring up at him, “Uh yes, Lu Han?” he asked, peering around the pile to get a look at the boy. “What are you doing with all those?”

“Did you want to pack all of these, Yixing gege?” the pile of clothes asked, Lu Han’s whine barely concealing the boy’s excitement at leaving The Star for good.

Before Yixing could decide which of the items he wanted to bring along with him, he was interrupted, “Just bring them all with you if you’d like,” Minseok commented, clearly having finished his conversation with Lady Pearl downstairs. Yixing could only open and close his mouth repeatedly in response when he realized he wouldn’t even know which ones he would be willing to part with anyway. Minseok’s gaze dropped down to the haphazardly folded cloth in Yixing’s clenched fist. “Shall we have that wrapped with the rest of your things as well?”

Momentarily startled, Yixing recovered and grabbed the first item off the pile Lu Han was still supporting. “Uh, no. That’s okay,” he answered hurriedly, “I, uhm, please excuse me, I have to make myself presentable, uh, for the Duke,” he mumbled before bowing his departure, barely registering the ‘wait!’ Minseok called after the courtesan. Clasping the tiny package to his chest, Yixing kept his head down as he dashed from the room, ignoring the manservant’s look of wary concern as a smile threatened across Yixing’s own features.



“Ah! My favourite cousin!”

Yifan cursed under his breath when the unexpected voice caused his brush to ink an ugly streak across his page. Sighing with barely concerned exasperation, he put down his brush and stood up, waving a servant to prepare some tea. “Why does it seem like you’re dropping by more often than you used to? Don’t you have important exploring to do for the emperor?” the Duke scowled. “And when are you going to remember to stop putting your feet up on my furniture,” he added as he nudge his cousin’s foot off the table for the millionth time.

“Tch,” Zitao scowled playfully, “You nag too much, you’re starting to sound like Father.” He waved away the servant to pour his own glass of tea after filling Yifan’s, “Or Minseok,” he chuckled. “Where is that judgmental servant of yours? Isn’t he glued to your side?”

“He’s out doing something for me, not that that’s any of your business,” he muttered, “What is your business here, anyway? I don’t have time to partake in your childish games.”

Zitao rolled his eyes, “I’m not a child, I don’t need you to babysit me. I just need a room to stay for a couple nights,” he grinned, only to earn himself a disgruntled scowl from the Duke.

“You’re aware that I don’t run a hotel, right?”

“Yes, but you are a wonderful man who loves his baby cousin and wouldn’t let him go hungry and homeless, right?”

Yifan couldn’t help but sneer, “First you say you’re not a child and now you’re my baby cousin? You sure know how to switch sides easily when it suits your needs. And quit pouting,” he added, pinching his cousin’s lips together with irritation.

Zitao swatted at his cousin’s hand as he stood up, “I’ll show myself to my room, then,” he grinned,  ignoring Yifan’s fruitless protests with a wave as he turned towards the door, “I’ll see you at lunch, beloved cousin!” he called, ducking to dodge the folded fan the Duke threw at his head.



Yixing paused at the entrance to the Duke’s home, hesitation overpowering as he looked up at the entrance’s large double doors.

“Is something the matter, Miss Lay?” Minseok asked, slightly ahead of Yixing and halfway up the stairs that lead into the compound.

“No, uhm, I just, er, I just need a moment, if we’re not in too much a hurry.”

Minseok hummed in understanding, “Ah, it’s no problem, Miss Lay, take all the time you need,” he reassured, motioning for the rest of their party to go on ahead, “Please take Miss Lay’s belongings to her room,” he instructed, gently pulling Yixing aside and out of the main path and telling Lu Han that he and Lay would catch up shortly.

Yixing watched as the servants disappeared behind the double doors, carrying his things with them. He took a deep breath as he studied the ornate designs on the entrance, as he done the first time he’d shown up at this place, though this time he wasn’t here uninvited. He swallowed nervously as he recalled the lavish interior; now that the initial excitement of finally leaving The Star had worn off, worry had started to worm its way into Yixing’s head. He didn’t fit in here, the Duke was a royal, for God’s sake.

“What in Hell? What’s all this shit?”

Startled out of his own thoughts by the vulgar language unfit for such a proper establishment, Yixing looked up to find a familiar face he couldn’t place.

“Oh! It’s you!” the man exclaimed before taking a single leap down the steps to settle in front of Yixing with a wide grin, “Remember me?”

Yixing blinked blankly a couple times as he stepped back a pace to put a comfortable amount of space between them, taking a long beat to finally recognize the face; ‘Good luck with the Duke, I’ll be rooting for you.

Tao chuckled as realization spread across Yixing’s features, “Of course you do! Is all this yours?” he asked, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb. Yixing’s decline to reply only widened the grin on Tao’s face, “Ahh, my idiot cousin finally staked his claims, huh?” A chuckled erupted from him as Yixing remained quiet, though his furrowed brow betrayed his unease. “Having second thoughts?” Tao leaned in to suggest quietly so that only Yixing could hear.

The courtesan stumbled back again at the sudden intimacy, deliberately turning away as his cheeks warmed, embarrassed to have been so easily read by an almost-stranger. “Of course not,” he retorted defensively, only to have Tao smile back kindly, a motion that made Yixing even more annoyed; who was this man to pretend he understood him?

Tao bent over slightly to look at Yixing head on, the latter shifting uncomfortably under the gaze. “It’s okay to be nervous, you know. I would be too, if I were you. If you need anything, or if you just need to talk to someone, you can always come to me.” Tao pulled away again, shooting Yixing a wink that made the courtesan’s eyebrows stitch together with disbelief. “Tch,” Tao continued as he crossed his arms, playfulness still playing in his eyes even as he shook his head in disappointment, “It really is such a shame my cousin likes you so much. What a pretty face.” Tao paused to look at Yixing pensively, finally sighing with defeat. “Well, love to stay and chat some more, but I gotta run. We should have lunch together some time!”

Yixing stared after the quickly retreating figure, dressed as unusually as when the courtesan first met him at The Star. His mouth opened and closed in disbelief a couple times as Tao finally disappeared around a corner. ‘Chat?’ he thought to himself incredulously, how was this one sided conversation even considered a chat?

Still, the strangely dressed man’s carefree attitude seemed to rub off on Yixing as he pulled on a smile and took a step forward, Minseok in tow as he stepped through the entrance; he had to remember to thank the man for drawing away his unease, maybe he’d even take up that offer for lunch some time.




A/N: [insert generic apology to late update here] lol my writing has gotten lazy I'm so sorry Idek what this is any more aksdfkjhdas *shoots self. This chapter was actually supposed to only be like half a chapter but somehow I just got carried away with the word count?! How is this even 3k words, nothing even happened orz I was gunna keep going but didn't want to drown you guys with the word vomit -.-" I'll try to do better next chapter >.< (whenever that is.... work is a little ridiculous, being an adult sucks btw)
Oh yeah, I guess happy vday to those who celebrate that! Hallmark and the economy thank you for participating in the frivolity!

Date: 2015-02-14 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shirahimejj.livejournal.com
But, that was an entertaining 3k of non-happening! ^__^
Hope to read more of this interesting story, I'm glad Yixing managed to bring Luhan with him~ :D

Date: 2015-02-14 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pika-chan92.livejournal.com
Oh wow. Duke, Ah Mei and Yixing under the same roof. Add to this side-kicks like Lu Han, Minseok and Tao and bam! It's bound to happend something grand! Hopefully nothing bad, tragic or too dramatic :D

Date: 2015-02-22 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pika-chan92.livejournal.com
oh, she's not? but she's almost always there... It's not about fic being grand (mine isn't either) but plot. And how could I know if so far you were making us readers fall into this rather slow-pace plot and then suddenly you will twist it? That's a power of author! :D
Oh so SOMETHING is going to happened soon, hmmm ;3

Date: 2015-02-16 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] splickerflicker.livejournal.com
is it bad to root for some taoxing criesssssssss

ALSO



OMG AN UPDATE AKSJDHASKJDHASKJDHASKDJHAKDJHASIXNISUEDU i almost screamed when i saw this ngl

Date: 2015-02-24 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myagnae7.livejournal.com
OOOooooOoooOOoOOOooooooooooooooHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

now am damn excited for the next chapter!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol tao. he's bringing all the tension out of the window seriously XD

i'm dying to see what yifan's gonna do to yixing! 8D

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