[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 3050 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. what is happening with this fic sorry don't worry it'll be over soon D;





Yifan stood in front of doors with red paint peeling off the front, trying to remember the last time he’d been here. He’d been worried about Lay then too, he mused, noting the similarities. Perhaps this location would become a symbol of how much Yifan wanted to take care of Lay, to protect him. He’d rather forgotten that the key to this home in the woods was still in Lay’s possession, having left it with the latter what seemed like an eternity ago, when he’d still belonged to The Star.

The Duke hadn’t been sure if Minseok was simply playing a joke on him when he told Yifan that this was where Lay had been located. Even when Minseok reassured him that he was not just pulling the Duke’s leg, Yifan didn’t know what to make of it all. The returned items had made Yifan believe that Lay no longer wanted anything to do with him, so why on earth would he be staying at a place that Yifan owned after such a statement to disappear from the Duke’s life?

He’d argued with himself the entire journey here: perhaps Lay was using the hair ornament as a message for Yifan to come to Lay himself? But why didn’t Lay simply tell the guards who he was when he dropped off the clothes?

Was this a puzzle that Lay meant for him to solve? But what was the puzzle? It wasn’t as if any clues about Lay’s whereabouts had been left in the package. The only item left behind was the Duke’s gift, and never had Yifan felt a clearer message about finding it left behind in the old robes: goodbye.

A rather paranoid thought about the ornament being a lure to trap Yifan here so that Lay could kill him crossed his mind, but the Duke chalked that thought up to the lack of sleep these past few days. He tried not to think about the possibility too much, though his mind still wandered there thrice on his way here.

Yifan stood rather statue-like in front of the doors as all the arguments made their closing statement in his mind before he shook his head forcefully; he’d simply have to ask Lay when he finally saw him.

The doors were slightly ajar, welcoming the Duke but despite his eagerness and desperation to find Lay these past few days, Yifan found himself hesitating to enter now. He took a deep breath several times to calm himself before he finally brought his hand up to push open the gate, meeting little resistance as it swung open. Brows furrowed together, he tried to recall the weight of the door the last time he’d been here with Lay and he could almost swear it had been heavy with the lack of use. Had Lay cleaned up here since his stay?

Sure enough, as Yifan pressed the gate open further, he noticed the walkway clear of leaves, washed clean of the dirt that should have collected there since his last visit. More questions as to Lay’s intentions washed up into his brain and his pace quickened. He was nearly jogging by the time he reached the door, swinging it open eagerly.

“Lay?” the Duke called into the room as he barged in, stopping to look left and right  before his gaze settled across the empty room through the back doors towards the pond. Lay was on one foot, other suspended slightly off the stone terrace, clearly having been in the middle of some action before he ended up frozen on the spot, eyes now wide with disbelief.

Yifan took an uneasy step forward, forcing himself to blink so as to convince himself that Lay was not a mirage, simply brought to existence from his memory by a lack of sleep.

One.

Two.

Three.

Each step brought Yifan closer and their pace quickened until he was finally face to face with Lay (still standing awkwardly with his arms out). He waited but a moment to pinch himself before a relieved half-smile tugged onto his face. He automatically pulled Lay in for a hug, pulling the latter off his feet, “It’s you, it’s really you, you’re really here,” he breathed, eyes squeezing shut in relief.

It didn’t matter that Lay’d body remained stiff, that he didn’t seem eager to return the Duke’s affection. All that mattered at the moment was that Lay was actually here in his arms. He tightened his embrace, scared that if he let go even a little, Lay might evaporate into nothing and he’d have to repeat the pain of the last few days again.

It was a silent moment before Lay finally spoke, barely a whisper. “You’re hurting me,” he said flatly, trying to pull away.

Yifan let go hastily, stepping back only enough to run his quickly to check that he hadn’t really caused Lay any physical damage. Lay kept his eyes averted, looking somewhere to the left of the Duke, fingers playing at the edge of his sleeves. It wasn’t until Yifan took the hair ornament from inside his robes to hold before Lay that the latter finally flinched and stepped back. He turned around abruptly and dropped to take a seat pondside, letting his feet hang into the water and scattering the koi fish.

“Why’d you give this back?” Yifan asked, speaking at Lay’s back softly.

Shoulders came up in a shrug, “You bought it with your money, so I was only returning what was yours.”

“Do you have a habit of returning gifts?” Yifan continued, remembering when he’d caught Lay trying to return the clothes that Minseok had gifted Lu Han. Lay’s silence only serves to bring about Yifan’s impatience, “Do you return all your clients’ gifts?” he pressed tersely, regretting the comment immediately when Lay flinched visibly and hung his head.

Yifan sighed, berating himself; he knew he needed to be patient with Lay, but he was starting to grow tired of the silence. He missed the sound of Lay’s voice in his ear.

He crouched down to sit cross-legged beside Lay. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for it come out that way,” he apologized softly, pressing a hand to the other’s shoulder only to pull it back when he felt Lay try to shift away under his fingertips. He choked back the hurt of the action but moved back a couple hairs, hoping the distance might be enough to keep Lay from taking off running again.

“Why did you return this?” he tried again, holding out the accessory and keeping his voice as gentle as he could.

Lay didn’t bother turning around, “I told you,” he bit out, “You bought it.”

“Alright, fine. Then how did you return it?”

“What do you mean, how?” Lay’s impatient and dismissive voice cut painfully into Yifan’s chest, “I walked it to your front gate.”

Yifan swallowed as he readied himself for his next question, anxiety tearing at his insides, but hoping the answer might be what he gravely desired. “Yes. And it arrived with a bundle of men’s clothes. Men’s clothes that I’ve been told you were wearing the day you stormed out of my home. With your hair done up like a man.” He paused to watch Lay draw his legs out of the water and pull them into his chest. Lay’s arms came up to wrap around his head that he tucked between his knees. “Unless I was told incorrectly, when you yelled at my mother, you left immediately without stopping by your room.” Yifan ignored the shaking and the barely audible pleas for him to stop; he needed answers. “Unless you somehow managed to break into my manor when all my guards were on alert to find you…”

“Stop, just please stop.”

Yifan swallowed hard again, and despite the urge to simply give in so Lay would stop rocking back and forth, that muffled sound coming from him a definite sob, he pressed on. “Lay, you had to be carrying this with you the entire time for you to be able to return it with those clothes.”

Lay finally turned around to glare at Yifan, eyes bloodshot and narrowed, “Shut up. What do you know, anyway? You didn’t even see me that day, or even the day before, or the day before that! How could you know I didn’t have it hidden somewhere?”

“Then why did you grab it on your way out then?” Yifan asked, though he was only entertaining Lay’s illogical retort now. With the way Lay was acting, he calmed down, realising that all the scenarios he had run through his head could not compete with the truth now.

Lay held his angry gaze, turning away only when he noticed the tear that had started to run down his cheek. He rubbed the back of his hand along his cheek before tucking it behind him for support.

Yifan looked down at Lay’s hand, the back of it twinkling in the sunlight from the tears. He leaned his forward to lean his forehead on Lay’s shoulder, fingers reaching out to wrap around Lay’s wrist. Yifan was glad for the momentary victory of Lay not immediately pulling away at his touch. “Why did you have this when you left?” he tried again.

“I don’t know,” Lay persisted, though the bite in his tone was gone.

Yifan pulled away only enough so that he reach up with a finger to hook under Lay’s chin and turn the latter to face him. Lay still resolutely refused to look at Yifan, choosing to stare down at the stone terrace. “Lay?” Yifan continued to try, ducking his head until he could look up at Lay, forcing the latter to finally make eyes contact. “Please?”

Lay’s gaze flickers and is suddenly filled with something that makes Yifan’s chest tighten.

“I missed you,” Lay finally admitted before eyelids closed with resignation, tears falling freely now, “Is that what you wanted to hear me say?”

Yes, Yifan wanted to say. It’d been what he’d been wanting to hear from Lay ever since he invited the courtesan to his party. Instead, he slid towards Lay and drew him close in an embrace again, the smaller finally leaning in and gripping the front of Yifan’s silks. The front of his clothes became wet with Lay’s tears and the Duke found himself stroking Lay’s hair slowly, trying to comfort the mess he’d been the cause of in the first place. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into Lay’s hair.

Lay’s grip grew tighter as he spoke again, voice shaking in between sobs, “I kept that stupid thing in my shirt because it reminded me of when you used to pay me some kind of attention, even it had just been paid time. You came home from that stupid trip and you didn’t even say hi in the two days you’d been back. You didn’t even say bye before you left! Your cousin was the one to find me, not you. He was the one that made me think that I should at least try with your mother.”

Lay stopped to catch his breath, his whole body shivering under Yifan’s hold. The Duke waited for the shaking to settle, arms wrapping further whenever Lay felt too small. “Then why did you leave?” He loosened his hold as he felt Lay pull away, but continued to hold onto his shoulder, even as Lay turned away once more, wiping at his face as he took a deep breath. “Lay?”

“Because,” Lay bit his bottom lip and his jaw clenched, “Just - just because, okay?” he got up to his feet, wiping at his face angrily still.

“That’s not an answer,” Yifan persisted, following suit up onto his feet and grabbing Lay by the wrist before he could get too far. “And you know it.”

Lay turned to glare once at the hand around his arm and then up at Yifan, “Are you really going to make me say it?”

“I asked, didn’t I?”

Lay managed to pull his arm back to himself but he didn’t start walking away again. “Because I’m not good enough for you, okay? Your mother knows it and she never failed to remind me of it in her stupid classes, Minseok knew it when he first found out that I was not a woman, and you know it, that’s why you stopped coming to see me when you realised that you needed to do your part in the political world and get married to that stupid nice girl.”

“‘Stupid nice girl’?” Yifan repeated before he realised that this probably shouldn’t have been what he focused on, “Really? She’s quite smart, actually.”

Lay didn’t reply, but he started away from Yifan once more.

“Wait! Look, given how Minseok talks, sometimes I feel like he doesn’t think I’m good enough, so yes, maybe he didn’t quite have the warmest response when he first found out about you, but that’s not an emotion he has exclusively for you. Besides, he was the one who found you. And my mother? She’s my mother, she’s not going to think anyone will be good enough for me.” And as for me? How, how on earth can you think that I don’t think you’re good enough for me? You’re perfect for me, okay? Don’t ever forget that,” he said, taking Lay’s hand in his own.

“She thinks Ah Mei is good enough,” Lay pouted, still looking away.

Yifan couldn’t help but laugh, “That’s only because she thinks the arrangement is beneficial to her,” he answered. “But I like you,” he reaffirmed with a squeeze, wondering how many more times he’d have to say it for Lay to believe him; whatever the number was, he’d do it, as many times as it took.

“Why me?” Lay croaked, “Why are you so nice to me?”

“You really going to make me say it?” Yifan asked, mirroring Lay’s earlier words back at him to no response. Yifan took a step closer and positioned himself to make sure he could look at Lay properly, “Because I love you.”

The statement was met with silence and Yifan swallowed, realising it was the first time he’d said that out loud. His heart skipped a beat, but he felt calm, having finally gotten it out.

“The day before you left on your tip, I spent the night with Tao,” Lay stated emotionlessly, head down again.

“I know,” Yifan returned through gritted teeth, “I saw you leave his room.”

Lay finally turned to face Yifan, features dark and an indeterminate mix of emotions swirling in his watery eyes. “Then why me?” he blurted, “That’s the kind of person I am! I owe you my life and I’ll still go and share another man’s bed!”

Yifan took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. Despite finding out immediately from Zitao’s own mouth that what he’d seen hadn’t been what he’d thought it was, it had still left Yifan feeling betrayed. It hurt that Lay had seeked comfort with Zitao, and not the Duke himself, especially if he’d been sitting here right beside him when Lay woke up. Even after being away at the Forbidden City for a few days, when the Duke came home and saw how friendly Lay had been around Zitao, it stung. It took another day before he realised that Lay finding a friend in Zitao wasn’t the worst; at least it seemed to help keep him here. He regretted deeply having not cleared the air before Lay took off again.

“I know nothing happened, Zitao told me himself.”

Lay scowled, “Then he’s lying.” He pulled his hand out of Yifan’s and reached into his shirt to retrieve a wrinkled page with smudged ’s written across it countless times. “Look. This is who I am. For every mark on this page, I had to sleep with a different man. Every mark is a different client, do you get that?” Lay’s eyes were rimmed with red with a combination of rage and pain.

Yifan reached out, desperately wanting to bring Lay in for a hug once more, to tell him that it wasn’t his fault but Lay stepped back, pushing away Yifan’s offers of comfort with an expression that looked like he was going to be sick.

“This doesn’t even count the repeats with clients. Do you know how many more marks I’d have if I counted those too? Hundreds. Your mother is right. This,” he emphasized by pointing to the page and then gesturing to himself, “This is what I am. Just a filthy whore that isn’t worth your… your anything!”

Tears flowed freely from Lay’s eyes and he stood shaking on the spot, staring down at his tally sheet. Yifan reached to take the page from Lay but the latter wouldn’t let go, gripping it tightly as tears began to run the black kohl. The sheet finally gave under the strain, splitting where its strength was weakest. Yifan made a dramatic move to shred it, making sure that Lay was watching as he did so.

That is not who you are, Lay,” Yifan reassured, letting the pieces fall across their feet, some floating down to be claimed by the pond. He extended his arms once more to bring Lay towards him, holding tight even as the latter struggled, clearly reluctant to be consoled by the Duke. Yifan waited until Lay stopped fighting, collapsing against Yifan with arms reaching behind the Duke to close his fists tightly around cloth. “That is - was just a piece of paper that you’re never going to have to use again, you hear? Yes, it might’ve been your life for a long time and I’m not saying you need to simply forget it all, but you need to look forward and stop hanging onto that painful reminders of something you clearly hate. Please let me help you.”

Lay began to tremble under him and was soon wracked with audible crying. Yifan softened his embrace and pressed his cheek into the top of Lay’s head. “I’m sorry I didn’t immediately come see you when I got back from my trip. But I promise, I’m never letting you go, okay? You can throw whatever test you want my way, I’m not letting you go.”




A/N: LOL I'M SORRY HAHAHAA I dunno what this fic is doing, sorry. Also, I keep getting comments about Lu Han's wehreabouts OTL I apologize to dear Lu Han, he just kinda.... disappeared into the bg in my need to finish the fic omfg D; BUT I'LL BRING HIM BACK LATER OMG I'M SO SORRY D; Anyway, only a couple chapters left to go! Thanks for sticking around! ^^

Date: 2016-07-25 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kim-dajung.livejournal.com

😷🤒😭😭😭😭💕💕💕

Date: 2016-07-25 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kim-dajung.livejournal.com

Lmao I didn't even know I was the first lmao I just saw my email n saw u posted i clicked so fast.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS STORY N HOW MUCH I'VE THOUGHT ABOUT IT. 😢

Date: 2016-07-25 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaerotic.livejournal.com
aaHHHHHHHHHH OMG FINALLY
i am speechless
we have been waiting for this moment
for years
literally
sobs

Date: 2016-07-26 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pika-chan92.livejournal.com
The Winter has came, Starks reunited, Exo is killing their fans with new tour and Yifan finally said magical words. Good job, boy! *slow clapping*

Hahaha, we just simply love child!Luhan. He was/is? so cute here especially when he acts up towards Minseok :D

And I wonder if Yifan will marry Ah Mei and make Xing his concubine/smth like that or he will dump everything and go for love in very Hollywood style? Hmmmm

Date: 2016-07-27 05:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shade-of-kim.livejournal.com
You finally update!!! And suddenly it seems like everything is happening hahaha
I'm so excited for this although I still can't see how this is going to end. But here's hoping for a happy ending after all this. fingers crossed hehe

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