[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 2904 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. Trigger warning for cutting. (no seriously, it's a terrible chapter D;)





Yixing let out a long sigh as he watched Lu Han pull The Star’s front doors closed, making sure to avoid Lady Pearl’s eye as the latter looked up from the head table where she was counting tonight’s sales. He would love to blame another fruitless night on the Duke’s sudden appearance, but he could only blame his own distracted conversation even after the Duke had left.

The courtesan shook his head to himself as he ascended the stairs to his room, closing the door with a long sigh before heading to his makeup counter. Not bothering to sit down, he glared at his reflection as he yanked the belted cloth around his waist loose, almost jumping in alarm as something clattered to his feet. Caught in mid-tug, Yixing looked down at the key laying on the ground, still rocking a bit from the fall. Hugging his knees as he bent down to a crouch, Yixing stared blankly at the object, trying to remember where it had come from and why it looked so familiar, until he finally recalled the moment in the hallway with the Duke with burning ears.

“Eyebrows Shushu told me to give this to you. And he also said ‘full moon’.”

Yixing leaned forwards slightly to pick up the metal object with a frown, recalling the padlock that the Duke had unlocked with a similar looking key, (no, the same key) a while ago, that place with the lotus garden. Gaze still held steadily on the key, Yixing stood up once more only to drop himself into the chair beside him, frown changing into a scowl. Creases formed in his forehead as his fingers tightened around the small metal object; the Duke was surely an entitled bastard to come looking for Lay after promising to stay out of the courtesan’s life but this, to play puppet master and simply expect Yixing to do anything and everything the Duke wanted, it was simply… unacceptable.

Yixing grabbed the drawer closest to him, throwing it open in a fury before throwing the key in unceremoniously and slamming it closed again, making the items on the make-up counter fall over from the force.

“Yixing gege?”

The courtesan’s head snapped around to the room entrance at the timid voice, inner flames quelling at the sight of Lu Han standing with a worried expression.

“Are you okay?” Lu Han continued in the same small voice that he’d announced his presence with, his eyes flickering between Yixing and the make-up counter where items were still settling from the loud impact.

Plastering on his best smile, Yixing nodded as he stood up and walked towards Lu Han a few steps before crouching before the latter. “Have you completed all your chores for the night?” he asked conversationally as he picked at Lu Han’s always-stubborn hair.

“Yep!” Lu Han replied cheerfully before he swatted at Yixing’s hand with a grumpy frown.

Yixing couldn’t help but grin as he gave Lu Han’s hair a last ruffle that earned him a glower. “Want to sleep with Yixing ge tonight?” he asked quietly as he got to his feet again.

Lu Han didn’t answer immediately, raising an eyebrow up at Yixing; they both knew that despite the fact that Lu Han was barely ten years old, Lady Pearl didn’t like Lu Han staying overnight in any of the girls’ rooms, even Yixing’s. When the two ignored the rule, it was usually Lu Han who snuck in next to Yixing, almost always because of a nightmare.

Yixing ignored the questioning look that Lu Han was still shooting his way as he started to change into his nightwear, wondering when Lu Han had gotten so perceptive or when he himself had gotten so easy to read. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Yixing continued out loud in an uncaring tone, secretly eyeing Lu Han, laughing lightly when the latter’s eyes shot open as expected as he shook his head furiously.

“No, I’ll stay!” the boy exclaimed, voice cracking with excitement as he hurried past Yixing to the bed, hopping onto it and swinging his feet back and forth over the edge as he waited for Yixing. He was still grinning when Yixing finally squeezed past him to lie down, prompting the boy to follow suite. Lu Han tucked himself into Yixing’s chest as the older pulled a blanket over both of them and wrapped his arm around the younger before closing his eyes.

“Yixing gege?” Lu Han piped up quietly.

Yixing didn’t bother opening his eyes as he hummed in return.

“Are you seeing Eyebrows Shushu on the full moon?” Lu Han continued in a tone that Yixing felt was too serious to be coming from a ten year old. Lu Han pulled away from Yixing to look up at the courtesan imploringly,  “That’s in a couple days, right?”

Yixing opened his eyes to stare straight past the top of Lu Han’s head at the wall for a long moment before letting out a long sigh and pulling Lu Han tightly in his chest again, “I’m tired, Lu Han, let’s just go to sleep, okay?”



“And that’s the last of it,” Minseok announced as he rolled up the last page and put it back on the shelf behind Yifan. “Shall I send for dinner? I can have it brought here if you’d prefer, since Madam won’t be dining with you tonight, and your cousin has announced his own plans for the night.”

Yifan put down his brush and straightened out his sleeve before turning to stare out the window at the pink sky of sundown. “Actually, I think I’ll like to go take a walk outside,” he answered easily as he pushed out from his seat.

“Ah, of course. I shall prepare-”

“Alone,” Yifan cut in before his manservant could finish as he got up, ignoring the sceptical looks Minseok sent his way.

“Can I ask where you will be going then, My Lord? After all, a Duke shouldn’t be wandering the city aimlessly without accompaniment. What would I tell your mother if she came back unexpectedly, looking for you?”

Yifan turned to scowl at Minseok’s creative skills of coercing responses from the Duke. “What was wrong with just stopping after ‘Can I ask where you will be going?’? What does me going for a walk have to do with Mother?”

Minseok only shrugged innocently, “It was possible that Your Grace might tell me off for being nosy.”

Yifan groaned as his eyes rolled up and his head fell back in exasperation. Purposely, he volunteered no answer, moving towards the exit more persistently until Minseok cleared his throat a little too loudly to be natural. Pausing with a brief shake of his head, he turned to make sure his manservant could see just how annoyed Yifan was with Minseok’s persistence, “Dad’s old place, okay?”

*

The Duke stared up as he tucked his hands in the opposite sleeves, trying not to dig his nails too hard into his wrists. The sun was already starting to set, grey starting to paint the pink-streaked sky. What on earth had possessed Yifan to think that it was good idea to give away the only key to that lock on the gate. He glanced up at the walls on either side, looking for trees before recalling that there was a single lock just at the entrance for a reason. The Duke let out a long sigh as he rested his head on the doors, eyes closed as he took a deep breath in.

Lay should be here soon anyway.

*

Yifan paced in front of the doors, thankful for the full moon lighting up the area enough that he hadn’t walked into any walls yet. Where is he? Maybe he shouldn’t have trusted Lu Han to deliver that message, or maybe Lay didn’t understand it? No, it’s pretty obvious what I’d meant by that key. Maybe he’d gotten lost, maybe he didn’t remember how to get here. But he would’ve gone to find Seok if he needed direction, right?

A brisk breeze sent shivers down Yifan’s spine and he crouched, one hand folding over the other as he breathed warm air over them. “Lost, definitely lost,” he mumbled to himself, trying to ignore the small persistent voice in his head that was trying to convince him that Lay had simply decided not to come. “Should’ve told Minseok to go pick him up, he probably forgot.” His head dropping into his chest as he contemplated heading back home, “But what if he’s on his way? If I leave now, he might show up.”

Yifan groaned and put his hands on his head for a minute before clearing his throat and standing straight again. “Wu Yifan. What are you doing? You are a Duke. You shouldn’t have to wait on anyone. Now go home.” He took a deep breath and prayed silently that the full moon would be enough to light his way back.

*

“Back so soon, Your Grace?” Minseok piped as he greeted Yifan at the entrance to his home, a hint of sceptical confusion and mockery in his voice.

“Shut up and get my bed ready,” Yfan scowled, in no mood to play around with Minseok. The trip hom had probably taken twice as long as it should have, even with the poor lighting, what with his inexplicable compulsion to keep backtracking before reminding himself that he should head home.

Minseok gave Yifan only a single concerned look before he nodded at the servants lining the walls. “Is there anything else?”

The Duke shook his head, eyes already drooping with sleep, “Did, uh, did… Lay ever come by tonight?” he asked, voice barely a whisper.

“Lay?” Minseok asked, “Uhm, no, My Lord. Did you not…?” he began before Yifan shot him an angry look. “Right, your bed.”

*

“You look like you didn’t get any sleep last night. Work keeping you up?”

Yifan looked up from his bowl to find his mother staring at him with worry clear on her features. “Ah, uhm. Yeah, just some things here and there I have to do.”

“Well don’t work yourself too hard okay? Maybe you should take a nap this afternoon before the engagement party tonight.”

“Engagement party?” Yifan repeated blandly.

The Duke’s mother raised an eyebrow, “Don’t tell me you forgot?”

Yifan blinked a couple times before remembering what she was referring to, “No, of course not. We’ve had that planned for half a month already. How could I forget mother’s precious shindig?”

Yifan’s mother smiled as she put down her chopsticks after dropping vegetables in his bowl, “Good. Well, eat up so you don’t look like a ghost tonight. I’ve got a couple of details to tend to still.”

“Yes, Captain Wu!” Yifan grinned before shovelling rice into his mouth.

*

“I thought Madam asked that you take a nap this afternoon, My Lord. Not wander out to the city to visit… whatever,” Minseok piped up beside Yifan as they strolled the streets with no particular destination.

“Do you ever stop talking, Seok?” Yifan snapped, trying not to notice that this was the third time he’d walked past The Star.  “And stop wearing that look on your face.”

“But My Lord, I’m not wearing any ‘look’ on my face. This is just my face.”

Yifan hardly bothered to turn around to look at his manservant; no doubt he was playing innocent while still wearing that insufferable ‘know-it-all’ expression. He was pretty sure he didn’t need Minseok snickering at him for walking around in circles that held The Star at their center. Still, Yifan paused at the entrance hesitantly.

“Shouldn’t we be heading back now, My Lord?” Minseok cut in just as Yifan took a step forward; the Duke didn’t miss the berating and warning tone that he chose to ignore, quickening his pace instead.

Yifan scanned the tables in the Star, looking for Lay but finding only the other girls sending him smiles. Immediately, he looked for the familiar stairs up to the courtesan’s room, taking the steps two at a time, not bothering to check if Minseok had followed him or to knock on the door before opening it.

The courtesan jumped in his seat as he turned around in alarm, his expression momentarily betraying… Yifan almost flinched; why did Lay seem annoyed to see him? He was the one daring enough to reject a personal offer by a Duke. Crossing his arms, he opened his mouth to start on a reprimanding session only to have silence continue to fill the room before he cleared his throat uncomfortably.

Lay only smiled as he got to his feet, patting out the creases in his dress lightly, “So, what do you think? Do I look pretty in this dress?” he asked, eyes twinkling as he spun around on the spot once.

Yifan blinked blankly at the strange reception, trying to recall if Lay had ever been so… perky. “Uh, yes, you look quite lovely in that dress,” he answered flatly with a raised eyebrow.

Lay seemed to grin even wider, “Perfect!” he exclaimed as he turned to admire himself in his mirror again.

Yifan narrowed his eyes at the scene before him, something was definitely off about Lay’s behaviour. He watched as Lay checked the placement of his hair ornaments with a suspicious eye, “What about the one I got you?”

Lay shrugged, “It doesn’t go well with this dress,” he answered easily before turning to Yifan and then walking right past him towards the door without another word.

“Wait!” Yifan exclaimed as he spun around to catch Lay around the wrist, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Ow! Let go!” Lay almost squeaked, pulling his hand back to himself with a flinch, rubbing the spot Yifan had grabbed with his opposite hand.

The Duke narrowed his eyes once more before reaching out once more, taking care to maintain a strong grip on Lay’s hand as he pulled up the sleeve where a fresh stream of scarlet glared up at him as Lay struggled to squirm out Yifan’s hold. “What did you do?” the Duke whispered as he pulled out his handkerchief to dab at the wound.

Lay only pulled away harder until he finally freed himself once more, leaving Yifan holding out his hands awkwardly. “Please stop this,” he whispered, head down and fingers still rubbing his wrist.

Yifan’s brow furrowed in confusion, “Stop… what?” he asked, crossing his arms as he cocked his head slightly to the side.

“Stop… this,” Yixing hesitated before throwing his hands up in exasperation, “This, everything, just stop it. Just stop acting like you care, Your Grace, because you have other things to worry about being a Duke and all.”

Yifan cringed at the unnaturally spiteful tone from Lay; the courtesan has always been properly respectful towards the Duke. “Excuse me?” Yifan could only reply in shock.

The courtesan closed his eyes and took a deep breath before putting on his signature smile, only this time, there was that nauseating trace of derision again. “Don’t you have an engagement party tonight to prepare for? What are you doing here, with me?”

“I…” Yifan started to explain before he realised what Lay had actually said, “Wait, how did you know about that?”

The Duke could tell that Lay was trying his best not to scowl, “Everyone knows about it, you’re the Duke, aren’t you?” The courtesan took another breath to compose himself again, “And if you’ll excuse me, I have the real world to get back to.”

Yifan blinked a couple times blankly as he watched Lay turn to leave. “No, wait,” he called, watching the courtesan’s shoulders heave with a deep breath, “What happened to your wrist?”

Silence fell in the room for a long beat before there was a reply, “You don’t get to ask that.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Please, just go.”

Yifan’s jaw clenched tightly as he fought with himself in his head on his next words.

“Ah, here you are, my Lord,” Minseok’s voice interrupted, making Yifan move his attention to the new addition. Minseok’s gaze flickered between the Duke and the courtesan, a single eyebrow rising at the mood of the room, “Uh, shouldn’t we head home now, My Lord? I’m sure your mother is looking for you.”

“I suppose,” Yifan sighed, “But, just give me a moment here, I’ll be right out.”

“No, actually, you should probably just go.”

Yifan swallowed at the finality on the courtesan’s voice, and glanced at the imploring look on his servant’s face. Defeated, he let out a long sigh and gestured towards Minseok to leave as he walked forwards to join the latter, pausing only momentarily to turn towards Lay, “I’ll be back, I promise.”



His fingernails dug deep into his palms as Yixing watched the Duke leave. When the latter had finally disappeared from sight, he let go of the breath he’d been holding and stepped forwards to close his door before dropping to his knees. He pulled his sleeve up past his wrist and traced the freshest of the lines, wet again from the Duke’s abrupt actions. “What happened to my wrist?” he laughed softly to himself, “It’s all your fault in the first place,” he answered to himself, voice dropping with every syllable.

“Please stop making promises you could never keep.”




A/N: I really dunno why I'm still writing this hahaha omg I feel like these characters are getting more and more out of my control lol what are they doing. Can you two please just get married already *siiigghhss stop being so hormonal omg. Anyway, I hope you managed to get through this really awful chapter without poking your eyes out at the terribleness lol 2900 words I feel bad for you guys but thanks for sticking around for this long >.<
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