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A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2017-01-06 09:50 am

Not a Ruffian

title: Not a Ruffian
players: Zhang Yixing/Lay, Kim Jongdae/Chen
rating: G
word count: 1,585w
summary: Chen is many things, but he is not a ruffian.
a/n: Originally written for EXOnceuponatime's fest. I had something totally different planned out, taking from the original fairy tale as well as Disney's Tangled, but it was kind of dragging, and I think the language was becoming funny, so it's shelved for another day. Instead, we have Flynn Rider!Jongdae meeting Rapunzel!Yixing and Pascal!Tao.
Read on: AFF || AO3 || LJ

In the most daring heist ever, Chen makes off with The Crown of the displaced prince of the kingdom. Displaced, he thinks, is just a nice way of saying lost or dead, because the prince was gone before Chen was even born. If he's not been found by now, chances aren't so great.

But that just meant he didn't need his crown, and it's a real shame for it to sit on a cushy velvet pillow gathering dust just to be cleaned every day at at eight o'clock in the morning and with only the unblinking guards to appreciate its shiny glory. The guards didn't even face it. It was sad. Chen's doing the crown and prince a favour by adopting it and allowing it to be admired by someone--namely him--who truly understood its symbolism and value.

Unfortunately, he's the only one who thought that way, and just about every single guard and devoted Displaced Prince fan chased him over the rivers and through the woods in a poorly coordinated attempt to relieve him of his expensive burden.

He was a fast runner and quicker thinker, but even his stamina lasted for only so long. The trees sheltered him and offered opportunities to catch his breath, but he needed a more sheltered place to hide until the search moved on or was ideally called off.

What he found was tucked back in a clearing hidden by thick vines of ivy was an old stargazing tower. The trees were taller than it, and it looked sturdy and whole enough to be the perfect place to hide.

He pushed his pack behind him, relaxing enough to not constantly clutch it in his hands, and approached leisurely. More vines grew up the rock face, showcasing multi-coloured flowers and songbirds. Rabbits chased one another across the grass, ignoring Chen completely.

It was like he'd found Paradise.

Paradise was already occupied, though. A man stood absolutely still just at the base of a tree. Chen didn't notice him until he took a step back. He didn't look much older than Chen and wore simple clothing but no shoes at all.

“Hey!" Chen called with a friendly wave.

Not friendly enough, it seemed, however. The man abruptly spun around and dashed for the tower and the rope made of vines.

Dropping his hand to his side, Chen sighed and ran after him. It wasn't like he was a threat. His muscles only for show and climbing the walls of people's houses to steal things. "Wait up!”

The man shimmied up the rope, dragging it up with his foot so Chen couldn’t reach it. He could only watch, dumbfounded, as the man with incredibly long, fair hair free-climbed up the sheer tower with seemingly no effort at all.

“C’mon! I promise I won’t hurt you!”

“You usually say that before you start chasing someone.” The man knelt just inside the tower, leaning over the edge of the sill to peer down at him. He wasn't even breathing heavily from his climb.

“I’m sorry," Chen said. "I didn’t think anyone would be here. I was just trying to—I was looking for a place to rest a bit. I saw the tower, then I saw you...”

“Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not allowed to have anyone in my tower.” He was being rather rude, although his tone was cordial.

“Why not?”

He shrugged. “I dunno. I was just told not to. Possibly because you’re a stranger, obviously some sort of ruffian, and could possibly do me some harm.”

“I’ll admit that I’m a stranger, since we’ve only just met, but I’m no ruffian." That's just insulting. Thief, yes; rogue, definitely, but ruffian? Absolutely not. "I already told you I won’t hurt you.”

“I only have your word on that.”


“What’s the word of a stranger worth?”

An excellent point. Chen sweeps an arm out beside him and bows. “My name is Chen.”

“Just Chen?”

“Just Chen.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Just Chen. I’m Yixing.”

“Just Yixing?”

Yixing wouldn’t be caught by his own joke and smiled. “No.”

Chen laughed. “Can I come up, now? We’re not strangers, anymore, and it'd be easier to talk if we didn't have to shout.”

“If you can figure out a way up, you’re welcome in my tower.”

“Okay. . .” The mortar and stone was too well-packed to climb up without a rope. The only rope was dangling meters above his head. He circled the castle, observing the twisting vines of ivy and flowers climbing up the rockface. Logic said that a door should have been built in the tower, otherwise there was no way for the builders to have built the tower in the first place, much less use it.

On the side opposite the window, Chen noticed the base looked off. It had a mishmash of stone rather than the more uniform sized boulders. Scratching at them, he found there was no mortar. The stones gave way quite easily after he had torn some vines away and pushed at them.

Once the stones were clear, he saw the remnants of rusted hinges where a door used to sit leading in to a dank, very dusty staircase. He didn’t notice the lightly dusted footprints among the thicker dust, kicking it all up as he ascended.

A trapdoor blocked his way, and he nudged it with his shoulder. It gave a little, and he heard a muffled gasp and scraping across wood. The door was soon much lighter, and he shoved it open entirely, sneezing a greeting at a very astonished-looking Yixing.

“I found a door,” he said

“I didn’t even know this was here. . .”

“What, you’ve been climbing the outside of the tower your whole life?”

Yixing shook his head, eyes wide. “Not my whole life.”

He could've been a buff infant. Who was Chen to judge? “You must have some real muscle, then.” He sat at the edge of the door, swinging his legs.

"I suppose. I've never met anyone to compare myself to. I think I'm quite average."

Chen's about to ask if Yixing thought the average person lived in a tower with no discernible door, too, when a high meow called their attention to the open window.

“Tao!” Yixing smiled brightly. The cat rubbed its face against the wall inside the window, narrowing its slanted eyes at Chen before dropping to the floor and circling Yixing’s ankles. “Welcome back.”

Tao meowed again and sat beside Yixing's feet.

“This is Chen. He’s a ruffian I met a while ago.”

“I told you; I’m not a ruffian!”

Tao’s eyes narrowed even more, glaring at Chen with golden slits, and grumbled something like a whine with raised hackles.

“No no no, Tao! Tao, it’s okay. He’s my friend. He found a door, too! Now we don’t have to climb all the time.”

The cat sniffed, sitting back on its haunches. Crouching, it leapt straight into the air and landed on Yixing’s shoulder, stretching across the back of his neck behind his long hair.

Chen gestured to the purring feline. “Do you always talk to animals?”

“You don’t?”

“Not to say anything nice, I guess, but sure. You mean you can understand him?”

Yixing pet the cat's head fondly. “Of course.” As if it was the most natural thing in the world to talk to cats. Tao nuzzled his cheek, purring blatant territorial affection that Chen didn’t have to speak cat to understand: Yixing is mine, ruffian.

“So, Chen..." Yixing sat on the window ledge. The sunlight highlighted his hair like a halo. "What brings you to my tower?”

“Oh, you know..." He waved a hand dismissively. "I got in trouble for borrowing something—from the kingdom—and the guards are kind of narrow-minded about that, especially since I don’t plan on giving it back.”

“You stole from the royal family?”

“I didn’t steal it!” Chen laughed nervously. “I appropriated it.”

“So you’re running from the guards?”


“And you ran here.”

“Yeah. Don't worry, though, I'm positive I lost them!"

Yixing looked out the window, panicked. “Tao!” The cat leapt to the sill and clamoured up the rockface to the roof. “Can you see anyone?” he called. A responding hiss propelled Yixing back into the tower, hurriedly packing clothes and food.

“What is it? What’d he see?”

“A whole caravan of men on horseback, flying the king’s colours. I can’t let them find me.”

“Why not just hide here?”

“You opened a door, remember?” The door was more like a gaping hole at the base of the tower, clearly leading to the stairs with fresh bootprints.

“Oh, yeah.”

“I’ll find someplace to hide. I don’t know if I’ll be able to return here.” Yixing gazed around the tower, saying goodbye to the life he knew. Drawings covered the walls, faded with age, and the books in their shelves cascaded and spread to the floor and leaned heavily against the wall. “Come on, Tao!” He turned abruptly, shrugging into a long coat.

Chen hitched a thumb over his shoulder. “Hey, aren’t you going to use the stairs?”

“This is quicker,” Yixing threw over his shoulder, leaping out of the window and rappelling down the tower.

“Dang. He really is muscular. . .” Chen blinked, frowning at the treetops. Why was he daydreaming? Palace guards were
heading right for the tower. If they found him, he doubted he’d be able to charm his way to freedom.

He snagged the rope, calling out for Yixing to wait.