[identity profile] leen-go.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] leengonanowrimo
Length: 2444 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. omfg idek anymore this fic ulgh wtf is happening halp what is the failfluff???? can I even call this fluff????????? I'm very sorry for the (few) massive blocks of text :|

Yifan woke to a sore back, cringing as he pulled himself upright; when had he laid down? With a yawn, he drew to his feet, searching the room as he continued to stretch out his back; there was still no sign of Lay. Finally resigned to defeat, he let out a sigh and made his way to the door with the dim light of sunrise. He made it halfway down the steps to the first floor before he noticed the open back door and a peek of pale blue and pink. He cocked his head to the side, curiosity piquing as his eyebrows stitched together. “Lay…?” he whispered to himself as he stopped four steps from the bottom, leaning sideways over the banister to peak out past the slightly ajar door.

“Lay?” the Duke called again to no response once more. He descended the last steps slowly before  crossing the rest of the way to the door, pushing it open slowly as he took in the view before him. He walked up to crouch in front of the sleeping courtesan, frowning when he noticed the stench of alcohol on Lay’s breath. “What are you doing out here like this?” he asked out loud, even though he hardly expected an answer. He sighed as he shook his head, dropping his gaze downwards as he followed Lay’s limp arm, stopping when he saw the poorly knotted handkerchief around his hand. Yifan scoffed, an upward quirk forming at the edge of his mouth even as he shook his head in dismay, “How am I supposed to just leave you alone when I can’t even trust you to take care of yourself?”

Yifan drew up a chair beside Lay, setting it down quietly before taking Lay’s wounded hand gingerly in his own. “How long have you been passed out like this?” he started, wondering when he decided it was appropriate to hold a one sided conversation with a courtesan who was passed out after running out on Yifan. He cleared his throat as he studied the red on the cloth, undoing the knot carefully, “You need to stop hurting yourself, okay?” His finger traced the streaks of red, dried against pale skin. The Duke turned to the wine bottle on the table and reached into his belt for his own handkerchief. “This is probably going to sting a little,” he announced to no one, hesitating even as he tipped the wine bottle over a corner of the cloth; maybe Lay would be passed out enough not to feel it. “I’ll be as quick as possible, okay?”

Yifan exhaled long before he started to clean the palm of Lay’s hand, glancing up every so often to check; the courtesan stirred just the one time, fingers twitching slightly before he settled back into stillness with a quiet groan. As deftly as he could, Yifan secured the handkerchief with a knot, fingers lingering over the cloth as he replaced Lay’s hand onto the table.

The Duke crossed his arms on his chest, head tilted to one side as he watched the courtesan sleep, a single strand of hair blowing back and forth from his steady breathing. His eyes drifted back to the table and a frown broke the smile before it when he noticed one of the wine cups, shattered with traces of red on their sharp edges. Yifan glanced back to Lay’s hand, brow creasing as he wondered what made the latter break the cup; it seemed highly improbably with the courtesan’s injury and the way the broken cup rested that this had been an accident. Yifan’s focus lowered once more to the ground when he located the cup Lay must’ve been using, lying on its side with a small dribble of liquid still in it.

Yifan leaned over to pick up the dropped goblet, halfway upright again when he was interrupted by a voice that sounded more startled than he felt.

“Oh! Your Grace! I wasn’t aware that you… uh…” Lady Pearl fumbled, trying to straighten out her looks, eyebrows stitched together in confusion; The Star had strict rules about overnight stays and technically, Yifan was in violation of them.

Yifan cleared his throat as he got to his feet, “My apologies, Lady Pearl. I was simply feeling troubled this morning and sought to talk it out with Miss Lay here. He was kind enough to let me in this morning. Please don’t blame him for this, I was quite stubborn.” He glanced backwards for a moment before continuing in an apologetic tone, “I never realized how much of a lightweight Lay was. I shall send someone to pay for the trouble I’ve caused you both, as well as the bottle of wine.” Lady Pearl still seemed to be half asleep, peering around Yifan with a bewildered look as she took in the state of Lay. “Uh, and the cup as well,” Yifan offered as an afterthought, trying to get Lady’s Pearl’s attention back to himself and away from the complete dishevelment of Lay. “I’m terribly sorry for intruding so early; I shall take my leave now,” he apologized again, dipping his chin slightly before he started to leave, a frazzled Lady Pearl hurrying to escort him to the exit.


Minseok was waiting when Yifan approached the gate to his home, former shooting dangerous daggers at latter with his bloodshot eyes. Yifan thanked the manservant silently to himself for sparing the duke any comment about his arrival or his disappearance the previous night, feeling guilt for how sleep deprived Minseok looked. Golden rays peeped over the ceramic roofing as the pair moved in silence towards the main building, Minseok finally speaking up as they neared the terrace that led to the duke’s room on the left and the sitting room on the right. “Your mother is waiting for you,” he announced sharply as he gestured to the right, “And if I were you, I’d start working on a pretty damn good excuse for last night’s disappearing act,” he suggested, hardly bothering to conceal the irritation in his voice before he motioning for another servant to take his place behind Yifan before he disappeared.

Yifan swallowed remorse that tasted like bile before turning to the replacement, “He’ll forgive me eventually, right?” he asked, though hardly expecting an answer from the man staring at his toes, the typical image of so many of the workers in the duke’s home who desperately kept from meeting Yifan’s eyes for fear of offending him. Only Minseok ever dared to hold a normal conversation with the duke and Yifan sighed long as he wondered how many days it would be before his best friend would return to his side.

“Where the hell have you been?” were the first words to touch Yifan’s ears as the doors opened to the sitting room, his mother sitting at the head of the room where he usually sat at gatherings. Yifan bit his tongue, recognizing only the beginning of a long tirade as his mother lectured him. She made a dismissive motion towards her handmaidens and Minseok’s replacement, waiting until it was only Yifan and herself left in the room before she got up on her feet slowly. Yifan swallowed unconsciously; it was always the calm he feared of his mother and she looked especially imposing now, standing on the raised platform where his chair sat.

“Leaving in the middle of your own party. Not telling anyone where you were going. Leaving poor Ah Mei – whom, I might remind you, is your fiancé –  alone to entertain your court. Not coming home until the wee hours of the next morning. What were you thinking?

“Did you honestly think that you could fool your mother? Do you believe me so foolish not to recognize a blatant lie from my own son? ‘Tired from work’? Did you not think I would see right through it? What on earth was so important that you had to coerce that innocent girl to lie for you?”

Yifan bit down hard on his bottom lip to keep himself from correcting his mother; he deserved this, it was his fault for leaving last night, not Ah Mei’s.

“What was so important you couldn’t even tell Minseok? What if something had happened? How were any of you supposed to know where the hell you’d disappeared off to?”

The duke couldn’t control his tongue, the muscle moving of its own mind even as he tried to swallow the words before they came tumbling out, “Zitao always does it.” Yifan regretted the words even before he was done, wanting to shout an apology, to take it back as a grave eyebrow raised into his mother’s forehead slowly before  her eyes narrowed sharply.

“You are not that boisterous waste of space,” his mother started, volume climbing with every word, enunciated so strongly that Yifan felt each syllable pierce through him, “Huang Zitao was not brought up to be the proper duke of this city. He is not the respectable son that I brought up for twenty four years and he is definitely not responsible enough to carry the Imperial Family’s name as you do. You’d do well not to look to him for any kind of character guidance.” The duke’s mother must have noticed the almost indiscernible flinch from her son because her tone suddenly softened, sighing as she stepped down and approached Yifan.

“I’m sorry,” she tried instead, “I didn’t mean that. Your cousin isn’t a waste of space. But I meant what I said about you having responsibilities that he doesn’t. You need to think about your title and what it means to the people of your city.” Yifan’s eyes dropped from his mother’s and she placed a comforting hand on his cheek, whispering gently, “You’ve been acting strange lately. Is something wrong?”

Yifan searched his mind for an answer, only coming up with an image of the first time he watched Lay perform, smiling as his feet danced in time to the music, quickly replaced with the red and pink across the courtesan’s arm, smile now a thin line.

The duke pressed his face into his mother’s touch, then leaning forward until he could rest his chin on his mother’s shoulder, arms reaching around her, aching for her warmth; he hadn’t hugged his mother like this in a decade.

“I don’t know, Mom,” he answered truthfully, squeezing his eyes shut, “I really don’t know.”

“Oy! Get up! How long do you intend to be passed out there?!”

Yixing woke up groggy, a headache forming between his temples and a vaguely familiar voice yelling at him. He reached for his neck, sore from sleeping on the table in The Star’s backyard. He pressed his thumbs into his eyes with a groan; how long had he been out?

“Hey, you gunna just sit around all day or are you actually going to move your ass? We’re opening soon.”

Yixing spun around towards the voice, biting back comment when he recognized one of the older girls who had never liked him.

“Thinks he can get away with murder just cus Lady Pearl likes him,” she whispered under her breath as she spun on her heel and left with a saunter, not missing the opportunity to shoot Yixing a parting scowl of her plain disgust.

Yixing sighed as he lowered his hands. He was on his feet and halfway to the back door before he stopped in sudden realization. He brought his right hand back up brusquely, a single eyebrow climbing into his forehead as he studied the cloth that bound the wound in his palm. The courtesan most certainly did not tie such a tidy knot in his confused belligerence last night. And he was also certain that he did not own anything so ornately threaded. He reached his other hand to work at untying the cloth from around his hand, jaw dropping slightly at how clean the tiny cuts in his palm looked.

The courtesan wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he started to inspect the handkerchief he’d just removed; vibrant colours stitched into a design Yixing couldn’t recognized, dotted with red that matched the slight lines on his hand. Three words in emerald green made home the bottom right corner of the cloth: Wu Yi Fan.

Yixing rubbed at the headache that grew louder as he tried to recall why the name sounded familiar. tTe voice of Lady Pearl crept into his head, ‘Duke Wu will be holding his engagement party at his home tomorrow.’ The courtesan’s eyes narrowed to focus as the voice of the name’s owner introduced himself in echo of their first encounter.

Fingers moved to pinch at the bridge of his nose as Yixing closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to remember when he’d received the Duke’s handkerchief but came up empty; by all accounts, he’d passed out after too many drinks in succession after he’d found the Duke sleeping in his bed. Yixing let out another groan as he urged his legs to move him back to his room, starting sluggish before he picked up his pace until he was back in his room. His back rested against his door as he slid to the floor, holding the handkerchief up in front of himself in contemplation once more. A smile started to creep over Yixing’s features until he noticed it. Clearing his throat and pursing his lips in response, he pulled himself back to his feet and started towards his vanity, his focus on the top drawer handle before he flung it open. He threw the handkerchief to join the other countless gifts he’d received from patrons before slamming the drawer once more. He fell into his seat with an angered huff, elbows resting on the vanity top before he dropped his head into his hands, muffling his scream by biting his lip until he felt the skin break.

Yixing stayed in the position for a moment before one arm dropped from formation and reached a shakey hand to the drawer again, pulling it open slowly, then hovering over its contents. He eyed the discarded handkerchief with a clenched jaw before he picked it up once more, folding it into quarters before he delved into the drawer for the last items from the Duke he’d thrown in with haste; the key to that strange house and the pearled hair ornament. He placed both on top of the cloth he held and folded them gently into his good hand as he closed his eyes with a sigh, pressing his fist into his chest and urging the ache there to dissipate.

A/N: Nothing really happened last chapter despite taking so long to write, so here's something I added instead. What the hell even is this fic anymore. HOW ARE YOU GUYS STILL READING THIS HOT MESS HAHAHA And as usual, since it's me and I'm basically allergic to fluff, I angsted a little oops. Ulgh, this fic is falling apart omg I can't even see the ending any more -.-" It's so far halp NO SRSLY HELP ME D;
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