[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 2222 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. Failure at fluff.

Yifan paced in The Star’s back courtyard, chewing on his fingernails until he remembered that it had been an old habit he should have kicked as a child, having been constantly berated by his mother for ‘decent bahaviour’. Instead, he resorted to curling his fingers tightly on his sleeves, fingers clenching the cloth as an almost sufficient substitute to fidgeting anxiously.

“So… by ‘we need to talk,’ you actually meant ‘I need to go outside and pace in the garden as I make you watch’?” Tao chirped from his seat on a stone stool, an ankle resting on the opposite knee, arms crossed.

Yifan stopped abruptly to glare down his cousin, hands letting go of cloth as they came together, fingernails picking at each other with shaky agitation. “No, of course not,” he scowled before finally giving in and biting down on his fingernails again; he’d deal with his mother’s disappointed sighing later.

“Then what was it that you wanted to talk about then?” Tao asked, glancing back at the door they’d left through. “It’s not like I have business to get back to or anything,” he added sarcastically.

Yifan’s eyebrows stitched together, “Not that one,” he blurted, only to have his cousin give him a confused look, one eye squinting up at Yifan. “Anyone else but Lay,” the Duke clarified finally.

“What?” Tao started before the word quieted into a silent ‘Oh’, an annoying smile taking over his face that Yifan could only frown at. “So Lay’s your favourite then?”

The Duke kissed his teeth, irritated that his cousin couldn’t just do what he was asked without making a fuss. “Just... Pick someone else. Anyone else.”

Tao paused for a moment with a blank expression before making a show of kicking his foot off himself and standing up to dust his clothes off. He shot Yifan a smirk before turning away and heading back through the back door without a reply, leaving his cousin behind to throw his hands up in defeat.

“Is that a yes?”

Yixing managed to stare blankly at the empty cups sitting on the table only a moment before curiosity got the better of him. He took care to leave his seat gingerly before hurrying with the most grace he could manage towards the door that had just closed behind the pair of royal cousins.

Cautiously, the courtesan pushed open the folding doors enough to see through a crack, making out the back of the Duke standing over his grinning cousin.

“Just pick someone else, anyone else,” Yixing heard in the Duke’s familiar voice.

The courtesan didn’t bother paying attention to any response that Tao would have had, focused on glaring daggers into the Duke’s back for ruining a perfectly wonderful conversation he would have had with a new client.

Yixing nearly tripped backwards when he suddenly noticed the Duke’s cousin heading towards him and it took him a moment to steady himself, clearing his throat as he took several steps backwards, pretending to be pleasantly surprised when the door opened completely. “There you are, Tao. I was beginning to wonder where you had gone!” Yixing offered, almost surprised at how even his voice came out as he purposely avoided glancing over at the Duke who had stopped in the doorway behind his cousin.

Tao seemed alarmed to see Yixing, eyes wider than usual for a long beat before they finally settled into a more natural state, corners folding as he smiled. “Ah, sorry about that, just some family business,” he explained apologetically before turning around for a brief moment. “My cousin’s a weird one, isn’t he?” Tao asked, waiting until the end of the question before turning to face Yixing again with a pout, “I’m terribly sorry, sweetheart. I forgot that there’s someplace I have to be tonight. It was lovely to meet you though,” he explained before bending down briefly to whisper, “Good luck with the Duke, I’ll be rooting for you.”

Yixing’s eyes widened at the strange comment but before he could ask what Tao meant by it, the latter had kissed him quickly on the cheek. The Duke’s oddly dressed cousin gave Yixing a last friendly wave before he stepped around Yixing, whistling as he left. Yixing watched the retreating figure in silence, wondering what that last comment had been about and whether or not there was a tone of pity in his voice.

It took the sound of someone clearing their voice behind him to remind Yixing that he wasn’t alone. He spun around abruptly to find the Duke still standing in the open doorway, gaze averted as he cleared his throat again, fingers pulling his already perfect sleeves in place.

The courtesan found his jaw clenching unnaturally as he watched the Duke straightening himself. Why is he back? He shouldn’t be back. He said he wouldn’t ever come back again so why is he back?

“I… should get going then, I guess,” the Duke mumbled, almost inaudible before he cleared his throat again, “It was… nice… seeing you again,” he finished, ducking his head as he stepped around Yixing to leave.

Yixing turned to watch the Duke, as he had done with the cousin. His jaw clenched tightly shut as a million unanswered questions flew around in his head. “You said you’d stop intruding in my life,” he finally managed to blurt out flatly, swallowing hard when his audience stopped in his tracks, but not turning around. “That means you can’t be telling my clients to pick someone else,” he bit out, more aggressively than he’d originally intended. Stop, Yixing. He’s a Duke. You can’t talk to him like that. He can do whatever he damn well pleases. “Is this the value of a Duke’s promise?” Yixing pressed on, ignoring the reprimanding voices in his head as he stood his ground, brow furrowed as he waited for a reaction from the Duke, who finally turned around to face him again after a long beat.

The Duke’s continued silence only spurred Yixing’s irritation. How dare he just come back in here after months of nothing and just walk around dictating who Yixing could and could not be with; he gave up that privilege when he dismissed the courtesan from his life. You’re not allowed. The Duke simply couldn’t give Yixing just enough time to start forgetting about him and then traipse into The Star, pretending to have any sort of control over Yixing’s life again.

The Duke continued to stand silently in the dimly lit hallway, his gaze held fixedly on Yixing as he had done back in the dining area. Yixing raised an eyebrow at him expectantly, waiting for any explanation or at least a scolding of his poor attitude towards a member of the royal family.

Instead, the Duke only stepped forwards to close the gap between them, lifting a hand that made Yixing finally look away with a flinch, anticipating the sting on his face. When it didn’t come, he peaked through one eye in time to feel a soft finger brush against his cheek before tucking a stray hair behind his ear. His cheeks burning, Yixing glanced up at the Duke timidly, unsure any more of what to expect. His eyes widened even further when the Duke’s warm sigh blew at the top of his head, sending a shiver down Yixing’s back before the Duke rested his forehead against his own. “Uhm, Your Grace?” Yixing’s voice shook uneasily as he stood frozen in place.

The Duke shook his head slightly against Yixing, a careful finger coming up to the latter’s lips to hush him.

Every muscle in the courtesan’s body was tense and a burning flush was creeping into his face, but Yixing didn’t dare move, breath caught in his throat even as the Duke finally pulled away after what felt like a year. “I have to find my cousin,” the Duke announced quietly, his voice cracking as he stepped back and brought his hands back to hold behind him, posture fully composed as he departed with a final nod.

It was a long moment that Yixing stood in the empty hallway before he remembered to breathe again, unsure fingers coming up to his forehead, drawing away quickly when they seemed to burn. What are you playing at? What more do you want from me?!

“Yixing ge?”

The soft whisper brought the courtesan back to his senses and he blinked a couple of times before he noticed Lu Han staring up at him with a look of concerned confusion.

“Are you okay, Yixing gege?”

“Of course!” Yixing replied cheerfully with a wide smile that he hoped would sell his lie.

“Oh, okay,” Lu Han shrugged easily, “Here,” he prompted as he grabbed Yixing’s hand and dropped a small cold object in his hand. “Eyebrows Shushu told me to give this to you. And he also said ‘full moon’, which I hope you understand because Eyebrows Shushu didn’t even give me a chance to ask him what he meant before he ran off with that weirdly dressed guy with those funny boots.”

Yixing could see Lu Han peer up at him curiously, obviously waiting for the former to comment. “Uhm,” Yixing started, “Was there anything else?” he asked instead, almost laughing again when Lu Han visibly pouted before shaking his head and then running off once again.

Yixing scowled as Lu Han hurried on another errand, not bothering to squint through the poor lighting at the item the boy had messengered before shoving it harshly into the pouch in his belt; the Duke had already taken up too much of his time tonight, but hopefully, Yixing had enough left to find a paying customer for the night.

Yifan checked around him to make sure he hadn’t been followed before he let out a long breath, breaking his stone stature to lean onto a wall, thumb and forefinger rubbing at his temples as his eyebrows stitched together, eyes squeezed tightly closed. “What are you doing, Wu Yifan?” he asked himself out loud in a whisper. He had absolutely no recollection of wanting to rest his forehead against Lay’s, his feet had carried him over to the courtesan on their own. By the time Yifan had realised what he was doing was completely inappropriate, he’d already felt his muscles relax easily and it was too comfortable to pull away.

“Whoa, Cousin. You okay, there?”

Yifan felt a firm hand rest on his shoulder and he cleared his throat, back straightening immediately on contact, “Yeah. I’m fine, just got a bit dizzy for a moment there.”

Tao snorted, “You had like one cup, and you’re drunk already? Wow, you’ve gotten soft,” he mocked, removing his hand only to smack Yifan heartily on the back, to which the Duke only scowled. With a chortle, Tao shoved his hands in the opposite sleeves, “So where shall we go since I’m clearly not wanted in here. By you anyway,” he added cheekily.

Yifan opened his mouth to suggest one of the other shops in the area, only to have his attention drawn to a grinning boy running from table to table, collecting empty wine bottles. A second later, Lu Han looked up back at him, waving with his free hand as he unloaded his other hand onto a shelf before making his way to the Duke. “I’ll catch up with you in a second, Tao,” he mumbled without looking at his cousin, returning Lu Han’s eager smile with his own. He caught Tao rolling his eyes and shrugging from the corner of his eye before the latter started wandering over towards the entrance, grabbing a bottle off an unwatched table before he left.

“Eyebrows Shushu!” Lu Han greeted, barely managing to wrap his small arms around Yifan’s waist. “What are you doing here? Yixing gege said you were never coming back again! Where’s Baozi gege? Are you hungry?”

Yifan was forced to laugh at the endless energy of the boy as he knelt down to the boy’s level.

“Do you want me to find Lay jiejie for you? I think she’s just upstairs, she should be down in a moment! Do you want something to drink while you wait?”

Yifan pulled lightly at the mess on top of Lu Han’s head as the latter spewed words as though never needing to breath. At the mention of Lay, Yifan’s head snapped towards the back of the building, swallowing hard as he recalled the intimate moment. Intimate? Could Yifan even call it that? He shouldn’t have shown up here tonight, even if he had wanted to see him again. The Duke was supposed to have Ah Mei already, he simply couldn’t be having this feeling in his chest.

Teeth clenched, the Duke turned back to Lu Han who had his eyebrows raised into his forehead expectantly. “Ah, no. Not tonight. Eyebrows Shushu has to leave. But can you do me a favour?” Yifan asked, reaching down  into his belt to retrieve his idea before holding it up in front of the boy. “Give this to Lay jiejie, okay? And tell him ‘the full moon’. He’ll know what I mean,” he finished quickly, getting to his feet and hurrying after his cousin, lest he have disappeared into somewhere unknown.

Either way, I have to be sure.

A/N: Yay! An update! Again, it appears I always use more words than I anticipate when writing a scene. I was supposed to be further on, but I hit 2k earlier than expected. =/ Anyway, hope this chapter was too painfully awful to read through and with any luck, I'll have the next chapter up soon! (The sncj krislay tag is painfully bare and I feel like I'm half that first page in the tag fanxing writers please come baaacccckk) On a side note, at the end when Yifan says Lay jiejie but then refers to "him" and "he", it's on purpose. The pronouns are less obvious in chinese when you're speaking and he/she sounds exactly the same spoken, so yeah. As usual, comments are much appreciated! ^^
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