[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 1912 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. Oh thank god this is finally over omfg

“One and two and three and four an-” Yixing made a disapproving sound as he shook his head, stopping in mid count as he uncrossed his arms to walk towards his student, “No, you’re a beat late on your turn and you’re going to miss the next part of the choreogra...” For the second time in less than a minute, Yixing stopped speaking, earning him a questioning look from his audience as he trailed off to focus on how low the incense had burned, well past lunchtime.

“Zhang lao shi?” the student asked gingerly, still waiting for Yixing to finish his explanation of the fault.

“Uhm,” Yixing filled emptily before remembering where his attention should be, “Oh, yes. Sorry, but we’re going to have to end this lesson a little early today. I’ll make it up next time if that’s alright.”

His student gave him an alarmed look before shrugging, “Sure,” she agreed, “I’ll see you in a couple days then.” She smiled and bowed a thanks before turning to leave.

“Wait a moment,” Yixing called, stopping the young girl just as she reached the doors, hands already out to pull them open.


Yixing let out a breath as he pressed a wrinkle free from halfway down his dress, brushing a hair out of the way and smiling, “How do I look?”

Yixing’s student returned the smile, “You look lovely, Zhang lao shi.”

Yixing’s grin grew as he ducked his head to hide the fire warming his cheeks, fingers picking at his favourite green dress as he barely registered the girl’s departure. Making sure to bring along this month’s rent, he headed out of the school as well, almost forgetting to lock the front door before hurrying down the street, skipping every few steps in an effort to get to his destination quicker. His hand reached into his hair more than once to check that he was wearing the right hair ornament, as if it might’ve changed in the last ten meters.

He took a last deep breath as he approached those familiar gates, trying to even out his steps as he approached the guards, who hardly waited for Yixing to speak before bowing respectfully and opening the doors behind them, “Welcome back, xiao jie.”

Still getting used to the greeting, Yixing ducked his head and hurried in, wondering when he’d get used to it as he mumbled a ‘thanks’ quickly before disappearing. He managed to avoid a collision only by a hair, nearly tripping and falling as he dug in his heels to keep from running into Ah Mei.

“Oh! You’re early!” She exclaimed, bringing her hand up over her chest in alarm. “Care to sit down and have some tea with me, jie jie?”

Yixing wondered when he’d ever get used to the way Ah Mei teased him with the term, typically reserved for the first wife when being addressed by those that came after her and he flushed every time she called him as such. He shrugged in reply, and Ah Mei returned with a smile, indicating to one of her attendants to have a fresh pot made up and ready. “Shall we?” she asked Yixing, in the form of a question, though rhetorically as she snaked her arm through Yixing’s elbow. Yixing obliged, letting her lead the way even though he could probably find his way with his eyes closed. The two of them had made it a habit of meeting here once a month, though it was less habit than necessity, Yixing supposed, given that his new dance school was on one of the streets that was managed by Ah Mei. He also supposed he could simply let Ah Mei send someone to pick up the month’ rent but Yixing didn’t mind going to the Duke’s home to meet her in person; he rather enjoyed her company actually.

It also helped that hand delivering his rent to Ah Mei meant he was also going to see Lu Han. The last time Yixing stopped by the Duke’s home, he’d frowned at Lu Han jokingly, asking that the younger stop growing but Lu Han had merely chuckled, using Yixing as an elbow rest before Yixing shrugged it off, rolling his eyes. “I hope your face gets covered in pimples and all the girls ignore you,” he’d chided, only to have had Lu Han frown at him though his eyes had twinkled with amusement.

“Are you getting jealous, Yixing ge?” Lu Han had mocked, “Afraid I’ll be prettier than you?”

Yixing had scowled then, pushing Lu Han a foot before demanding where Minseok was and why Lu Han had been allowed to roam free; wasn’t there some sort of training he was supposed to be doing?

Before Yixing had taken five steps, Ah Mei had already begun another of her rants about Huang Zitao, making Yixing wonder (yet again) whether the Duke had noticed this new development between his wife and his cousin. He nodded encouragingly where required before missing a step and stumbling at the sight of the Duke’s mother heading towards them.

Ah Mei stopped in mid-ramble and looked up at Yixing with a confused raised eyebrow, “Are you okay?” she asked before noting the subject of Yixing’s alarm. “Oh,” she muttered, pulling her arm back to herself again before straightening her posture. Yixing didn’t bother to do the same; the Duke’s mother seemed to have be able to graduate from actively trying to make Yixing’s life miserable, but acting like Yixing didn’t even exist hardly wasn’t much of a step up. Yixing was grateful however, that she had stopped trying to get Yixing to wear male garments since the wedding. She sent him the occasional disapproving scowl once in a while when Yixing visited, but he much prefered it to the never ending analysis of his faults.

“Well if it’s any consolation, she’s none too happy about my not producing any grandchildren for her after so many years, so at least you’re not alone with her disappointment,” Ah Mei mumbled under her breath as the two took careful steps towards the Duke’s mother.

Yixing let out the breath he was holding as they approached the woman who wore a pressed line upon her face. She paused a moment as if she was about to greet the pair but only mustered a long exasperated sigh and a disapproving shake of the head before looking pointedly away and carrying on to her destination.

“Hey, you’re not allowed to do that before I do,” Ah Mei scoffed, “At least you don’t live with her.”

Yixing couldn’t help the snort that escaped him and Ah Mei glared at the response. He apologized quickly but could barely conceal his grin as he took a seat at their usual table, a pot of tea already steaming in the middle of the table. Yixing waved away the maidservant that stepped up to pour the pair their beverages, as he had done for as long as he could remember; he still hadn’t gotten used to being waited on so thoroughly and he wasn’t sure he ever would.

It was sometime after Ah Mei had started a one-sided discussion about the logistical difficulties of helping the Duke manage the many new businesses that had started with the construction of the nearby port that Yixing had started to space out as he wondered idly what the Duke was doing at this moment.

“I’ve lost you haven’t I?” Ah Mei finally sighed defeatedly after a couple snaps in front of Yixing’s face to get his attention.

“Huh?” Yixing muttered, blinking a couple times before Ah Mei came back into focus, “Oh, uh, sorry? I’m just er…,” he fumbled, reaching over to fill Ah Mei’s cup in apology.

Ah Mei laughed, shaking her head, “It’s just as well, my Husband is here and he’s trying to inconspicuously signal me to leave but where would the fun be in that?”

Yixing’s attention snapped behind him where Ah Mei was gesturing and he caught the tail end of the Duke’s scowl towards his wife before it was replaced easily with a winning smile as he headed towards Yixing who got to his feet to greet him. Ah Mei rolled her eyes before excusing herself, making her voice unnecessarily loud as she announced flatly, “Oh, it looks like I have something to do somewhere not here,” for effect before laughing as she passed the Duke who frowned once more.

“I swear she takes joy in making me look like an idiot,” Yifan grumbled as he neared Yixing, pulling him in for a peck on the forehead before taking the seat that Ah Mei had vacated only moments ago.

Yixing laughed, “You really don’t need her for that, you do that fine on your own.”

Yifan’s frowned deepened, “You two need to stop being so friendly, she’s rubbing off on you.”

Yixing shrugged, “I rather enjoy her company,” he countered, sticking his tongue out mockingly, knowing that the Duke hated the expression.

“She really should’ve married you instead.”

“Yeah, but that would do her father no good if his daughter married me instead of a high and mighty duke such as yourself.”

Yifan scowled for what seemed like the millionth time today, murmuring under his breath something about needing something stronger than tea right now.

“Would you prefer I stopped coming around then?” Yixing challenged, enjoying the way Yifan seemed to sink down lower into the table.

“No,” the Duke muttered, “Just, you know, you spend so much time with her when you come around…” he trailed.

“Are you jealous?” Yixing mocked, shifting his seat closer towards the Duke who rolled his eyes.

“Obviously. You always choose the worst times to come, I’m always busy.”

“Well it’s not like you don’t come over regularly,” Yixing countered.

Yifan let out a long sigh, “It’s not the same.” His tone was low and Yixing could tell what it was that the Duke really wanted to say and he chewed on his nails nervously, a habit he’d picked up as the last of his cuts had faded into light pink scars.

“Well, would it help if I… uhm… moved in?” he asked, wondering why he was so nervous; Yifan’s desire to have Yixing live within the Duke’s main home was no secret, but Yixing had repeatedly insisted that he wasn’t ready to handle the pressure. Perhaps it was how the Duke had been less adamant about it recently that made Yixing hesitate now.

“Wait, what?” Yifan sat up stick straight in his seat, eyes so bright it made Yixing flinch slightly. “Really? You’re not just saying that to make me feel better, right?”

“Uhm.” Warmth flooded violently into Yixing’s cheek as he looked down, fervently nibbling on his thumb nail before Yifan placed both hands on each side of his face and forced him to look at the Duke properly. “Yes?” he answered, in question form as if asking for permission.

The features on Yifan’s face froze for a long moment before he jumped to his feet and pulled Yixing up so that he could close his arms around the smaller. “What took so long?” he asked rhetorically.

Yixing could only shrug; he couldn’t answer but it didn’t seem to matter to the Duke as he pressed his lips against Yixing’s, his smile evident against Yixing, whose own lips curled into a smile too, excited for this next chapter in his story with the Duke.

A/N: IT'S FINALLY OVER \o///// Honestly, I've done better endings, but it's finally done so there's that :| There was a bunch of things I was going to make happen here, but then decided that I'd rather keep it open instead. At least Yixing finally agreed to move in???

Anyway, it's been such a trip writing this thing. Started out as just a prompt from two years ago and then just unravelled into this mess of a thing. Idek what happened, it kinda just snowballed out of control???? But thanks to each and every one of you who has endured my madness until the end. You have all been so great and patient with my real life hindrances, and to have you all persist even after a year long hiatus is just so ... idek what the word is for how great you guys have been. YOU GUYS ARE SUPER AMAZEBALLS OKAY???
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