this is pjm × reader, but i hope its okay if i write it in first person ♡
Warnings: mentions of bLOOD DUH LMAO, i think i mentioned death/loss, yeah idk aidhjfks.
Blood is that fragile scarlet tree we carry within us. Sometimes its branches must stretch out far enough for its flowers to pollinate those on the other scarlet tree being carried in someone else.
As humans, we drip sweat for the sake of teamwork. However sometimes we must drip blood in order to keep each other in check. Sometimes things happen and we lose blood… draining the soul of that fragile tree within us.
Any human in their right minds couldn’t let that happen.
I regularly donate blood, to all those who really need it and to the hospitals that store them for emergencies.
Today was no different, but Jimin came along with me.
“So this is your fifth time donating this year?” He questioned as he drove the car. His bracelets were hanging off his wrists, clinking to each other from time to time. He wore a sleeveless yellow hoodie, brightening up the car.
He looked damn good in that.
“Yeah...after that I'm done for this year. I have to wait three months till I donate again…” I replied, diverting my gaze to anywhere else.
“What happens if you donate six times a year?” He asked like an annoying kid that was curious of what would happen if he ate another strawberry.
“Nothing but I'm still young… it isn’t healthy if I give too much blood away in a year.”
“Would you die?”
“I will die if you keep asking silly questions.”
I actually wanted him to keep talking. The air was laced with flowers and rose petals every time he spoke with that nightingale voice of his.
“Will you be staying with me or dropping me off?” I asked as we seemed to near the hospital.
“Ah, no I’ll just drop you off.” The layer of blood behind his skin faded as he turned pale. “I don’t deal well with the sight of blood.”
I doubled over in laughter.
“You can do an entire layout flip flawlessly but you can’t stand blood?”
“That's dance! That’s not traumatizing!”
“The more you know…” I withheld the giggles.
I waved at him and smiled as he dropped me off on the sidewalk that led to the hospital.
I sat down on the cushiony couch as the nurse gave me a cup of water and checked my temperature.
“Have you felt any sort of dizziness or headaches today?” She asked politely.
I shook my head.
“Okay, it’s written here you've already donated blood before so this shouldn’t be anything new. The process will take about 10 minutes and then we’ll keep you for about 40 minutes to make sure you’re fully alright to go and sign some papers.”
The doctor walked in with another nurse behind him. She was pushing a tray that had needles and a few containers with liquids on them. There was also a drip stand with an empty bag that had a paper stuck on it and the letter A boldly printed on the bag.
The doctor wiped the needle with a cloth that was dipped in the liquids, then he placed it against my skin and pressed it in.
It stung because of the cold, but it didn’t hurt.
I looked over at the bag that was slowly filling up with blood.
After a few minutes of the needle inhaling my blood and filling the bag up, I started to get light headed. My head fell back into the sofa and slowly, I closed my heavy eyes and drifted off.
Not even five seconds later was I woken back up into consciousness. I looked at my numb throbbing arm and realised the needle wasn’t there anymore. The nurse walked beside me and gave me a cup of water and a club sandwich
“Thank you. Is it over?” I asked with my mouth full.
“Yes you did well! The blood will be shipped off to the Red Cross in the states by the next hour.”
I sighed and gratefully smiled. That was the last time I’m donating blood for the year. I’d have to wait till next year if I wanted to donate again.
I signed the papers after reading them and was led out of the hospital with a bit of aid from the kind nurse.
By the time I was out in the polluted air in the parking lot, I felt normal again and could stand up straight. I thanked the nurse and she headed back in once she made sure I was okay.
“Jimin?” I murmured to myself as I scanned the parking lot for his car. Where is he?
I pulled my phone out and called him multiple times… but it would go straight to voicemail each time.
I huffed and decided to call someone else.
“Hey Taehyung. Where are you?”
“I’m with Jungkook and Hobi at McDuck,” He replied.
“Can you guys come pick me up from the hospital? Jimin’s ghosting me.”
“HAHHAH loser. Okay I’m coming.” He hung up.
I clenched my phone. First Jimin’s not answering, and now his bestie is being a jerk.
Once Tae arrived in his Hyundai, wearing a swampy green shirt and a brown beret looking like a street artist, I hopped into the shotgun seat and he sped off. I realised that he was alone.
“Did you leave JK and Hobi alone?”
“Yeah they can figure another way home.” He snickered.
“That’s not funny, Tae.”
That just seemed to make him laugh harder.
My phone vibrated and it made me jump, cracking the bones in my spine somehow. Taehyung just doubled over laughing this time.
I glared at him. If he kept laughing we might crash and die.
I looked down at my phone and stared at the unknown number for a while.
“You might wanna pick that up.” Taehyung's deep serious voice left me terrified to my core for a second.
Then my shaking thumb swiped across the screen.
“Hello. Are you related to Park Jimin by any chance?”
“Uh yeah he’s my frie-”
“You might want to come to the hospital, Park Jimin is in critical condition and is currently losing a lot of blood.”
My phone dropped to my lap and my heart dropped to my stomach.
“Taehyung turn back.”
“GO BACK TO THE HOSPITAL KIM TAEHYUNG.”
He spun the car around mid street and screeched through the light traffic of cars that suddenly had horns that harmonized loudly.
This is illegal. But I didn’t care.
Jimin what the fuck. Where is this coming from? I saw you an hour ago what.
I started biting at my nails and Tae reached his hand out to squeeze my hand to distract my anxiety.
He didn’t bother asking what was wrong, he just knew I was serious so he listened to me. These guys know me so well and I couldn't live through life without them.
Once we heard sirens of police cars chasing us for our illegal driving, Taehyung parked the car on the side and we hopped out and made a run for it. The hospital was another block away. Just one more block.
I slammed through the glass doors of the entrance and hurriedly asked where Jimin was being taken. Once I got directions I ran with Tae right behind me. I prayed the whole way there and bit my lip. I stormed through the room and saw my friend unconscious on the bed.
The tiniest sense of relief brushed through me as I saw the lines moving up and down on the monitor .
Doctors and nurses were rummaging around the room and shouting things at each other while aiding Jimin.
“He needs surgery…” A nurse murmured beside me.
My heart stopped. I looked over at him and noticed all the huge glass shards stuck on his face, all the blood dripping down from his mouth and closed eyes.
"He's losing blood faster than expected." The doctor shrieked as they managed to find a half empty blood bag.
That bag triggered my memory.
Me and Jimin have the same blood type… A.
I grabbed one of the familiar nurses shoulder and spun her around to face me "Where's the blood I gave away today??"
"It's already being shipped out...it's nowhere near this hospital."
"Then let me donate blood right now!"
"Honey, I'm sorry you can't donate blood twice a month...much less twice a day. Thats too many pints of blood, if you lose one more pint you'll-"
"I DON'T CARE. TAKE MY BLOOD RIGHT NOW." I screamed as more seconds were passing by.
"I- Even if we did, it would take ten minutes to fill up a bag of one pint… and he needs around three pints of blood right now…"
Three pints… omfg.
"Make it five minutes. And take as many pints out of me as you can I don't care."
My foot kept tapping on the floor as the needle in me kept taking blood. And to my wish it was taking blood a lot quicker…
Jimin I don't know what will happen to me but my blood's yours…
Then everything went dark.
wait i actually hate this um.
anyways ik this is reader × pjm but if ur blood type is not A then just pretend it is :) HDKSJ Jimins blood type is A and i wanted the story to fit.
Also idk what the aftermath of donating blood feels like, so i'm sorry if it was a bit wrong. But i hope u liked it, tell me if u want a part 2 :)
Update: I did in fact throw away my work to write this, bc muster JK ruined me.
Pairing: Dilf! Jungkook x Spoiled! Reader
Genre: Smut, Fluff
Content Warning: TBD!
Summary: Working in your father’s company is the absolute last place you should be spending your summer. You hated every second of it, so It was only a matter of time until you begged for a different position since the manual labor was ruining your manicure. However, the last place you expected to be transferred to was to the all exclusive club, Platinum Panther. A club where only the richest individuals could find themselves lounging back on velvet seats, sipping the finest drinks and watching the most beautiful women. A place built for the sins of the rich.
The Bachelorette must choose between Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung, Jeon Jungkook, Park Hyungsik, Park Seo Joon, Seo In-guk, Kim Woo Bin and Gong Yoo. Who will she choose?
The class was boisterous as always, since the teacher hasn’t arrived yet. They were lost in their own world, either making paper planes or talking with groups of friends. Consecutively the teacher came inside the classroom and kept his books on the table before turning to face the students.
“Good morning class”
“Good morning Mr. Park”
“So, before we start the class, I want to introduce you all to a very special person. Mrs. Kang, please come in…”
As soon as Mr. Park called the person, a short and cute girl walked inside the classroom with her head hung low. You stood in front of the class before properly eyeing your new classmates. You started to talk in a tiny voice as you were feeling shy.
“Hi guys, I’m Kang Y/n. I hope we can be friend-“
“I don’t take short kids like you as friends”
A voice came from behind and some of the students started laughing.
“Yeonjun! Manners! And you all stop laughing!”
Mr. Park called out to the boy who said that to you and the class suddenly stopped laughing. Mr. Park showed you a place to sit and you walked over to your seat with head hung low.
“Hi Yn, I’m Jungkook.”
The bunny-looking boy, sitting next to you said with a cute smile and you smiled at him.
Suddenly the whole class went pin drop silent as someone stepped inside the classroom. It was the school’s bad boy heartthrob and his girlfriend Min Yoonji, the girl with demeanor attitude. All the girls started fangirling when he walked over to the backseat with Yoonji. Yoonji glared at the girls as her boyfriend just sat on his usual seat without sparing a glance at anyone.
You looked at the both of the students who stepped inside. The girl’s and boy carried a dark aura as they were walking past you. They were scary in your eyes. Even Mr. Park went silent and you figured out just how dominant they are.
I walked past the students, but my eyes caught a new student. She was secretly looking at us with fear (?) in her eyes. Her doe eyes were cu-
I sat on the seat quickly before my mind could go any further. Yoonji came and sat next to me, hugging my arm. The class began and everyone took out their books. I did the same but I was secretly extolling the new girl when suddenly Yoonji spoke up.
“Babe, Mina said they’re throwing a party tonight. We’re invited.”
“Then, we should go right.”
“Yeah, but…. I need new clothes…”
“Don’t worry love, I’ll buy some for you after college”
Everyone walked out of the classroom, as you were still sitting there, not knowing what to do.
“Yn? Aren’t you gonna eat lunch?”
Jungkook was walking out of the classroom, but came back after seeing you sitting on your seat.
“I want to… But I don’t know where the cafeteria is”
You said playing with your fingers, feeling shy to talk to Jungkook.
“Oh, it’s okay, come with me! I’ll introduce you to my sister and friends.”
He said and took your hands, but you were feeling hesitant.
“Why aren’t you coming?... Oh wait, do you perhaps think they will make fun of you?”
You slowly nodded your head a ‘yes’.
“Don’t worry, my friends and sister is not like that. They would love to meet you. And if they make fun of you I will protect you. Now come.”
He pulled you out of the class and went to the cafeteria. As he said, his sister Jennie and his other friends were really nice and you felt not-so-shy with them.
The rest of the day went of smoothly. Jungkook and Jennie dropped you to your apartment on their way to home after college.
You walked inside the elevator when a handsome guy came inside after you. It was the same guy you saw at class today. The guy who looked scary to you. You kept a safe distance with him and pressed the buttons. Not too long after the elevator’s door closed, you heard the sound of hissing. You looked at the guy and saw his lips were bleeding.
“E- excuse me? Are you a-alright?”
He glared at your way and didn’t said anything as you got scared because of the look he gave to you. But the bleeding wasn’t stopping no matter how much he was putting his hand over his lips. Though you were scared of him, you took a tissue out of your bag and went near him. Removing his hand from his lips, you dabbed the tissue softly on his lips. The sudden moves of yours freezed him and couldn’t move an inch of his body. Both of you were so close to each other. You blowed on his lips when suddenly the elevator opened revealing…..
Anon asks: Can you do a reaction where the boys need you to pick them up in your car (which they've never been in) and as they get in they see that you have hentai/ahegao seat covers? And you're just act like it's nothing? I feel like their reactions would be super funny, especially Jimin's.
Jin notices your interesting car decorations almost immediately before he even gets in the car. He stands there gawking, eyes round with surprise. “What are those!?” He exclaims loudly, and when you tell him straight-faced and seemingly unashamed he sighs, shaking his head before getting in. He calls you weird, but you know he’s just playing. The two of you laugh back on it often.
Yoongi is tired, but not surprised. He knows you well and already knew you liked that kind of thing; however, he just wasn’t expecting the seat covers. He gives you questionable looks throughout the drive but doesn’t say anything. Really, he doesn’t mind at all.
“This is a joke, right?” Hobi truly thinks you're pulling his leg at first. He laughs at the sight of them, looking at you once he’s done. “...Right?” He’s surprised to find this kind of thing, never really visioning you as liking this sort of thing, but he doesn’t judge.
“Oh, how nice.” Namjoon had already been apprehensive to ask you for a ride, after all, he didn’t want to inconvenience you. He was tired today and looked forward to seeing you. But the seat covers just catch him off guard, so he awkwardly tells you they look nice while you laugh at his taken-backness.
Jimin was floored when you saw them. “How do you know what this is? Who corrupted my sweet Y/n?” He cries with a gasp, looking closer at them with a shocked expression. But once the surprise passes he’s ready to start teasing you.
Taehyung’s unfazed when he sees them, getting in as normal and pecking your cheek. You think you are in the clear until he begins to giggle and ask you about them. “So naughty Y/n, should we watch these kinds of things together?” He pokes at you in a certain seriousness in his tone.
Jungkook got so shy once he noticed them, and he’s very obvious about it. Unsure of what to do or say about them, he just smiles and goes along with things. Eventually, he brings them up, the curiosity killing him. Once you begin talking he can laugh about it, still with a slight blush.
namjoon watched in well masked awe as his dog regarded you with wonder shining in his eyes and tail wagging while you just stood there looking at rapmon with a smile on your face.
often choosing to ignore everyone who aren't his parents (as much as it breaks namjoon's heart, he's already accepted the fact that his beloved dog only acknowledges him when he offers treats) he’s never seen rapmon take such keen interest in someone, let alone someone outside of his family and band members.
after a few moments of sniffing you, he turned to namjoon with a questioning look, as if he was asking if it was okay to play with their new friend.
all it took was a single nod from namjoon before you were being licked in the face by the adorable dog, the rhythmic thumping of the rapmon's tail a tell tale sign of how happy he is while you cooed over him and tried to pet him.
“he likes you already, baby.” namjoon playfully pouted, though he was actually relieved and happy that the both of you were getting along perfectly.
your peals of laughter echoing throughout the room, and despite your face partially covered in saliva, your eyes were filled with mirth. “not to toot my own horn, but i think rapmon loves me, joonie.”
“he loves me, his loving owner," he insisted. "he just likes you, his loving owner's girlfriend."
you merely hummed as rapmon finally calmed down enough to just resign himself to laying next to your feet. “whatever helps you sleep at night, joonie."
↳ jungkook x fem!reader. | fboy!roomate au, quarantine au.
synopsis. you hate him and he has a big fat crush on you, you have to move out and he’s your only hope, you become roommates and guess what? Quarantine happens. you are totally fucked, because spoiler alert, he’s a fuckboy.
note. I SWEAR IM NOT DEAD AND NOR DO I PLAN ON DISCONTINUING THIS AU... it’s just inspiration works in mysterious ways... anyways plz forgive me for such a late update... please share your feedback and REPLY UNDER THIS POST TO BE TAGGED. enjoy!
Pairing: Jimin x reader
Warnings: reader disregards their allergies
Summary: Character A is allergic to animals. Character B comes home, but their hoodie is wiggling suspiciously.
Note: unedited because I’m a fool. Inspired by a conversation I had with some friends (screenshot at the end of the fic) back when I wanted to go to a cat cafe despite having a cat allergy.
Written for BGW Drabble Marathon
⮩ Situation 2: Character A is allergic to animals. Character B comes home, but their hoodie is wiggling suspiciously.
“Please,” you beg, give your best puppy dog eyes to your boyfriend.
“Y/N, you’re allergic.”
“But the kitty cuddles,” you pout. “I want them.”
Jimin sighs, almost giving in, before he wraps his arms around you and throwing you back onto the couch. “Aren’t mine enough?”
You giggle as you cuddle him, hands subconsciously running though his hair. “No. A cat cafe would be better.”
“I feel so betrayed.”
You laugh at his pouting and plant a kiss on his nose. “I’m sorry, Jimin. But kitty cuddles have to include cats.”
“Sucks that you’re allergic, huh?” Jimin says, looking bummed for you.
“I can risk my life--”
You get a suspicious text from Jimin, one that makes you frown.
Baby J: Have u taken ur antihistamine today?
You: yeah lmao hayfever was brutal this morning
Baby J: Hmmm nothing
It’s not nothing and the fact that you don’t know is keeping you on edge. You can’t figure out why he asked you about your antihistamine. Is he going to bring you flowers? As cliche as it might be, it could be possible. He’s quite the romantic, after all. Oh no, is today a special date that you’ve forgotten about? A birthday? An anniversary?
While you’re caught up in your own thoughts, Jimin comes home. Jitters in your fingertips, you look up at him nervously.
Only to see a weird lump wiggling around in Jimin’s hoodie.
Your eyes widen and you give Jimin a confused glance. “Is that--”
He smiles sheepishly, and readjusts his hoodie so a little head pops out of the neck.
The kitten is so cute that you might cry. Letting out a little gasp, you slowly reach your hand out, fingers petting the soft ginger fur. Jimin’s smile is fond as he watches your interaction with the little kitten in his hoodie.
“She’s Jungkook’s kitten. I asked him if I could borrow her for a bit so you could have your kitty cuddles.”
“She’s so precious,” you say, tears welling in your eyes. You wonder if it’s because of your allergies or because the cat is so cute. “Tell Jungkook I said thank you.”
“You can when we return her.”
“Noooo she can’t leave us yet,” you pout. You haven’t even cuddled her yet. She’s still in Jimin’s hoodie.
Jimin laughs. “Don’t worry, you have about an hour.”
“Well, we gotta make the most of it,” you say, gesturing to the couch. “Kitty cuddles. Now.”
Jimin laughs again and moves to the couch. He lets the little kitten down on your lap and she curls up comfortably. You want to cry. You’ve never had a kitten on your lap. She’s so warm. And soft. And cute.
“We’re going to have to give this couch a good clean after we take her home,” Jimin says, already seeing some hair on the couch.
“Worth it,” you say, smiling down at the kitten, still petting her soft fur. You turn to Jimin, smile still on your face. “Thank you, baby.”
“It was nothing.”
“It’s everything,” you argue before patting the spot right next to you. “Now join the kitty cuddles.”
This is Part Of: BTS Gold Net’s Fateful 8 Anniversary Event [ @btsgoldnetwork ]
Summary: So, it’s your three year anniversary. Three years as a couple, three years in love, three years of trials and tribulations. So, the question is: what now?
Genre: Slice of Life! AU, Established Relationship! AU, Fluff, Fluff/Smut, Angst
Pairing: Idol! Jimin x Reader, Male! Jimin x Female! Reader
Warnings: Cursing/Swearing, Mentions of Stalking, Bullying (Verbal and Slight Physical), Threats/Threatening, Death Threats
Word Count: 2,392
Written: November 2, 2020, Posted: June 14, 2021
This is Part Of: BTS Gold Net’s Fateful 8 Anniversary Event [ @btsgoldnetwork ]
A/N: Hey everyone! I’m back! Well, I never really left, but I was really struggling to get this plot going but then I got struck with lots of inspo, and so here we are! I hope you enjoy!🥰
“Jimin, what is going on?” You giggle out as he keeps his hands firmly around your eyes, slowly leading you through what feels like squishy ground — you can’t really tell. You can’t really tell but you trust him not to let you fall or get hurt because, when has he ever?
You and Jimin have been together for three years. It was a long process to get to where you were now. He met you internationally. You were there for a trip, and he happened to have a concert there. You both got close, and despite him having to leave, you kept in touch.
He had promised that he would try to come somewhere near your home city next time and he did. You didn’t have to travel too far from your region to go see him. It was wonderful. You got some tickets, went to his show, saw him and met his brothers, it was the most fun you’d had in a long time. It was also when you had realized how serious this was getting.
Jimin was always a little shy with new people, so when he introduced you to people that you knew he considered family, you truly grasped the level you had reached. It was that same night where you had had a conversation about your relationship with him.
It was at that moment when you decided that you were starting to fall in love with him.
Moving from there was easy. You both had smoothly transitioned into a relationship and it only grew from there. He was not always there physically, but you texted, FaceTimed, called, and Skyped as much as you could. He was there to calm you down and help you relax from the stress and pressure of work, making sure you never broke down, and that even if you did you would have him to help you through it. And likewise, you were there for him to talk him out of his self consciousness and fear, helping him learn to love himself better and to show him that people care about him and accept him as he is. You were there to show him that one mistake doesn’t define him and his entirety and that people aren’t made to be perfect and flawless.
It was around a year or so after you started dating that you made the decision to move to Korea. It was the most practical thing to do if you wanted to be closer. Jimin couldn’t leave Korea, his entire idol life resided there, and you could never ask him to leave that for you even though you knew he would — he’s threatened to drop everything and come to you once before. You distinctly remember the day where you told him you felt alone in a terrible time in your work and that you missed him and his only reply was a jarring experience to you. “Just give me the word and I’ll drop everything and be there, Y/N,” he had told you. So you decided to pick up and move to him.
Your work could be transferred to Korea, and you learned Korean some time ago, so you could manage. You did it quietly. You wanted to surprise him, so the only ones who knew were the members. Some of them came to pick you from the airport and take you to the company building. The look on Jimin’s face when he saw you was what made it all worth it, and it’s something you’ll never forget.
“Y/N?!” Jimin stood up from the floor to look at you, his cute eyes going round in shock. You laughed and let out a nod, “Yeah, I wanted to surprise you,” was all you got out before he slammed into you, wrapping his arms around you and not letting go as you kissed his cheek and slowly stroked at his fluffy hair and whispered in his ears.
From then on, you’ve continued to grow. You’ve had your fights too. It happened when there was a sasaeng that got too close to you both. She tried to ruin your relationship. You and Jimin know to never let strangers come in the way of your guys’ relationship, but this one was concerning. The sasaeng made sure not to ever show herself around you when Jimin was there, and whenever you were alone, she would strike. It started off simple, with just death threats through text. You were a little unnerved, but you knew better than to let something like that get to you. You never really posted much on your social media so when the sasaeng messaged you privately and dangled your private social media account’s password over your head to threaten you to break up with Jimin if you didn’t want to risk an internet leak, you stood your ground, telling her to do whatever she wanted because you didn’t care.
It was simple stuff. Things that wouldn’t really hurt you. But when the sasaeng saw that these weren’t affecting you, she turned to more aggressive tactics. She threw an egg at you once while you were on your way home. That unnerved you to the point of absolute shock as you speed walked to your house and immediately got into the shower to bathe and wash your clothes before Jimin got home and saw what had happened.
Your initial reaction to this situation was to hide it from your boyfriend. You didn’t want this to be something he broke his head over when it could just wash over after the initial spite of your dating news died down. But while everyone else seemed to have moved on, this sasaeng didn’t. She would follow you two on dates and would show herself to you when Jimin wasn’t paying attention. She would sometimes walk by you close enough to bump shoulders and touch you. She would come close enough to shove letters containing death threats in your bag. When it got scary enough, you told Jimin, only to not be met with the reaction you were initially expecting.
“Really, Y/N?” He let out a mock laugh, “Now? Of all the times, now? When there’s an album right around the—“ “Yes, Jimin. I know,” you sighed out as an attempt to stop the fight you could see was brewing around the corner, “I know you have an album coming up and I wouldn’t have brought it up if it wasn’t important. You know this.”
“You’ve never had a problem dealing with fans before. Why now?” He paused, until, “Are you just doing this for attention?” He looks up at you the same time your eyes widen as you stare at him, rage slowly bubbling inside of you. “Excuse me?” You breathe out, staring him dead in the eyes now. “What did you say?” Jimin shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, seems like you’re just doing this because I haven’t been paying attention to you during this comeback season.”
“Park Jimin you open your mouth one more time and I will make sure the punch I want to throw at you will also knock out a few of your goddamn teeth.” Jimin looks at you in shock as you move around your shared home, grabbing your phone, keys, and jacket before turning back at him, “Then, shall we see how nice your face looks for comeback season?” These are the only words you end with as you storm out the door. Jimin sinks back in shock, not knowing what to do as he looks around the room. He wants to continue to be angry at you, but the way you reacted just proves to him that he was most probably the one at fault.
You hadn’t told him about the eggs thrown at you, or the constant shoving she did, only the letters and texts. But still, something compelled him to look around the bag you took for work, stashed away behind the couch to be out of the way when you don’t need it. And in it he found dozens upon dozens of threats.
‘Next time I’ll throw something harder than an egg at you!!!’
‘Don’t forget bitch, I know where you are!’
‘Last chance to get away from Jimin, or else you’ll have to face me the next you see me’
Jimin feels a tear run down his cheek then. He then scrambled to his feet, grabbing his phone and running after you in directions he thought you might have gone.
He did find you eventually, and he didn’t stop apologizing for the next week, constantly going overboard on dinners and chocolates and your favorite foods, doing whatever he could to make it up to you. He begged you day and night to forgive him even though you already had, constantly telling you how much he loves and how much he was an asshole that didn’t deserve you.
“Jimin please, it’s alright.” You grabbed his cheeks, looking him in the eyes as you held him in bed. “It’s okay, Jimin. I promise.” You press a kiss to his nose, “I still love you. You know why?” He hummed as a way of telling you to continue. “I still love you because even though you did something wrong, you came back for me. You came back and you apologized and you understood. That’s why I still love you.” He said nothing as he pecked you on your lips and then nuzzled back into your neck, letting you continue to rub your fingers through your hair.
The sasaeng was found and arrested after a detailed investigation and then BigHit put out a statement as a subtle but dangerous warning to anyone who felt like trying anything like this ever again. Everything has been peaceful since then.
But that’s two years ago in the past, and living in the present moment is more important.
“Jimin! I’m getting impatient over here!” Jimin giggles at you as he continues to lead you on some squishy ground that you still can’t identify, but decide to label as grass. “There,” Jimin breathes out, “we’re here. Are you ready?” “Yes!” You huff out, “Yes! I’m ready.” “Alright then,” your lovely boyfriend taunts, “Here we go~” He sings out.
He takes his hands off your eyes and you blink a few times to get rid of the blurry-ness. You look down first and confirm that you are, in fact, standing on grass. You then look around you and realize you’re in a meadow of sorts. It’s an open grassy area with a stone path weaving through the side where you’ve come from, extending in through the meadow and into the trees on the other end of the meadow. You look around and see the entire meadow is bordered with large trees and you are far enough away from city that you can see all the starts twinkling brightly in the night sky when you look up. In front of you there’s a picnic blanket set up with a basket in the middle with — what you’re assuming is, — food.
“It’s so wonderful,” you smile at him. Jimin looks relieved as he lets his shoulders hunch down and lets a relaxed grin take over his face. “I’m glad,” he breathed out, “It’s our 3 year anniversary and I wasn’t sure what to do. And I thought, you know, why not something relaxed, and private?”
“I like it a lot, Jimin,” you nod at him in agreement, “it’s very intimate and it’ll be just the two of us, no one else.” He smiles at you, giving you a peck on the lips before taking your hand and leading you towards the blanket.
“Thank you so much for all of this, baby.” Your words are gentle in the calm atmosphere as you look down at the basket with most of its contents empty — the two of you having eaten most of it by these past couple of hours.
“There’s one more thing,” Jimin starts as he stands up, holding his hand out to help you up. And as you dust off your outfit, he continues. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and I thought, ‘why not on our anniversary?’” You tilt your head at his words, until he lowers himself to one knee, making your eyes widen.
“Jimin—” “Y/N.” Jimin stopped you with a gentle smile and a crinkle of his eyes, the ones that always make your heart skip beats. “Y/N. I love you. I love you so, so much. I actually don’t think I would even be able to function if I didn’t have you around me anymore. The reason I flourish is because I know that I have you by my side. You always support me. You always love me and are there for me. You are my rock. You are the reason that I can keep going the way I do in life. And I can only hope that I’m doing the same amount for you. And, if you’ll let me, I want to keep doing for you what you do for me. I want to keep loving you and supporting you.” He then gently and gracefully pulls a tiny box out of his pocket which he then opens up to reveal a lovely ring.
You let out a soft gasp as he finished, feeling tears start to pool in your eyes. “So, Y/N,” Jimin starts of again, “Will you marry me?”
You immediately drop to your knees and fall into his arms as you wrap your hands around his neck, pushing your lips against his as the tears now flow freely down your face. Jimin wraps his hands around you, careful of the ring in his hands as he kisses you back with just as much love. “Yes,” you breathe out as you pull away. “Of course I’ll marry you.”
Jimin feels himself start to cry as he smiles at you, swiftly putting the ring on your finger and letting you admire it for a few moments, satisfied that you like it, before pulling you back in for a kiss with smiles on both your faces.
This would not only be the beginning, but also the continuation of what you both know is and will be a wonderful life with the both you. Together. Forever.
Please do Reblog and Comment as much as you Like a post - any post - you guys! It’s what really helps the word get out, lets other readers also find the kind of fics they might be craving at the moment, and constantly encourages writers~ Please do talk to me on Asks as well, it’s always lovely!
➜ no one is born to be alone and no one can be complete in oneself - that’s why, in this world, every person has a pair, someone that complements their soul in every aspect. taehyung, however, is an exception to the rule, for the absence of a mark on his wrist indicates that he, indeed, was born to be alone.
pairing: taehyung x (f) reader
genre: angst, smut • soulmate au, supernatural au
warnings: death and mourning. mental health issues. blood. violence. swearing. explicit sex in future parts. non-explicit sexual content in this chapter. people are mean to taehyung all the time. sexist men from the xix century. NO historical accuracy at all. when i say angst i MEAN IT. when i say this is slow burn i MEAN IT.
word count: 25k oof
A/N: IT'S HERE!!! i really hope you guys enjoy reading this because i REALLY enjoyed writing it!! please PLEASE don't forget to leave some feedback, your comments are literally what feed my poor soul :)
“Saudade is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present.” – Aubrey Bell
“I can’t believe it.” The man sounds completely enraged. "How dare you come to my property?! What if someone sees you?!"
He looks worriedly from side to side, yet there's no one to be seen; the huge property is quite distant from the rest of the village. The night is cold. A soft drizzle falls over their heads. Thunders can be heard from far and the clouds lighten up from time to time. The air here is fresher, it seems.
The brothel owner smiles, but Taehyung notices that he's actually quite scared. Surprising. Taehyung used to think that the brothel owner would never be scared of anyone. He was the one who scared others.
"I apologize, Mr. Hwang," he says. "I made sure to come at night when no one would be around. But you have to understand that I didn't know what else to do-"
"That's none of my business!" Mr. Hwang storms. "I thought you were a serious man. You swore discretion to me."
"Of course, Mr. Hwang. You are a respectable client of mine, I would never want to embarrass you." The brothel owner is quick to reassure. "That's also why I came here. I know how fair and honest you are, so I thought you would want to help."
Mr. Hwang snorts, crossing his arms.
"And why would I want to help? I already have my children to care for. Why do you think I'd take the son of a whore?"
Taehyung shrinks when he feels Mr. Hwang looking down at him. He recognizes this type of look - disdain, disgust. Taehyung didn't understand why people looked at him like this when he was younger. Now, he does.
The look on the brothel owner's eyes change. Taehyung notices that underlying malice.
"Forgive my words, Mr. Hwang, but I think you're aware that the boy is in fact your-"
"The child of a whore is no one's son." Mr. Hwang interrupts drily. "You can't be sure, can you?"
The malice on his eyes grows. "Well… I am a respectable brothel owner." The man says. Taehyung always thought he somehow sounded like a snake. "I don't usually like it when one of my girls gets pregnant, but when the pregnancy is too advanced… I at least have the decency to not make the girls work until they give birth. And I have a good memory. I remember very well how in love you were with her just a little bit before she got pregnant… how she didn't lay with no other man…"
"I don't care." Mr. Hwang growls. "I have a reputation, do you understand? I have a wife which I respect very much. Respect, do you know what that means?"
"It's because of your strong sense of respect that I came, Mr. Hwang." The brothel owner proceeds to speak. "You see, the poor boy just lost his mother. I can't keep him in the brothel anymore."
"You could give him a job." Mr. Hwang suggests drily. "He can do chores."
"Yes, of course I could do something like that- but you see, the girls don't want to be around him anymore. His presence bothers them."
Mr. Hwang frowns.
"Why is that?"
The brothel owner taps the back of Taehyung's head roughly. "Come on, boy. Show him."
Taehyung doesn't want to.
Yet, hesitantly, he pulls the sleeve of his shirt and shows Mr. Hwang his wrist.
The taller man analyzes the boy's exposed and thin wrist, frowning. "So what?"
The brothel owner inhales.
"The boy turned ten years old three days ago."
Mr. Hwang's eyes widen and he steps back.
"What? Are you sure?" He gasps. "You must be mistaken. He doesn't even look ten years old anyway."
"Of course I'm sure. As I said, I have a good memory."
Mr. Hwang doesn't look at Taehyung with disdain anymore. No; now, his face distorts in something deeper than disgust.
"He is cursed. You brought a cursed child to my property! And you expected me to take him?!" Taehyung shrinks even more at every word. "Leave immediately! I don't want to see your faces ever again! Leave before I unleash the dogs!"
The brothel owner still tries, but Mr. Hwang is absolutely livid. He takes Taehyung by the wrist and drags him away as thicker raindrops fall over their heads.
"You see what you did?! See the type of trouble you brought me?!" The brothel owner hisses, Taehyung barely being able to follow his pace. "God. Now I can't even get rid of you. This is what I get from being so tolerant with those girls. Should've just given her the tea when she was pregnant."
Taehyung doesn't understand what "given her the tea" means. He also doesn't understand why the brothel owner is so angry at him - as if he asked for any of this.
He didn't ask for his mother's death. He didn't ask to be born.
He didn't ask to not have a birthdate on his wrist - even though he just turned ten years old.
Taehyung truly believes that he is cursed.
He doesn't understand why. Perhaps he did something in his past life to deserve this. Ever since the morning of his tenth birthday in which he looked at his wrist and saw no mark inked on his skin, he simply accepted it. Got a little surprised, of course, but he didn't shed a tear. Taehyung was never one to cry anyway. His mother taught him to be quiet; if he's quiet, the brothel owner won't scream at him. If he's quiet, the men that he sees in the brothel won't notice him. So Taehyung learned not to cry, even when he really wanted to.
Taehyung didn't cry when, one morning, he tried to wake his mother up and she didn't. It was odd - even scary - how a kid so young already realized that there was no life inside that body anymore, how he simply connected the dots. Mom had been very sick lately. She said she'd recover - he believed she would - but in the end, she didn't.
The other women cried. He didn't.
“Poor boy!” They said in the midst of tears. “He is shocked. That’s why he can’t cry.”
No. He wasn’t shocked.
Death is part of life. The only certainty we have since we are born is that, one day, we’ll die. Taehyung understood that at a young age. Now, mom is gone and he’ll miss her a lot - but there is no reason to be shocked. Perhaps now she’s in a better place. Mom believed in things beyond what can be seen, places beyond death and life. He can just hope she’s right, because right now, he’s in a bad situation - probably much worse than her, wherever she is.
Taehyung has always been a smart kid, the type of intelligence that can’t be learned with tutors. No; Taehyung can’t even write his own name, but he can feel the stench of a thief from kilometers, can pin-point every man whose eyes are gleaming with pure violence before they even move, can recognize who’s the dominant force in a room - if he should avoid them or befriend them -, and he knows when he should keep his mouth shut and when he should act.
It’s his intelligence that made Taehyung keep very, very quiet ever since his tenth birthday. The women that cried for his mother and cried for him now are avoiding him like he just bathed in a sewer. Taehyung understands very well that all the sympathy they once had for him is gone. All that’s left is disgust and fear.
It seems that his mother always knew that she wouldn’t be with him for too long. As expected, the life of a prostitute is usually short. That’s why she prepared him for her absence. She taught him not to be naive, to take care of himself. “Always be the smartest person in the room,” his mother used to say. “The most powerful person isn’t the one with the biggest muscles, it’s the one that thinks the quickest.” Taehyung knows how right she was. The brothel owner is the biggest example. He’s a thin, short man, but still manages to control all the women working under his roof.
Taehyung is also aware that he has nowhere else to go. Of course, life in the brothel has been anything but good; he barely has any space, sometimes he’d have what to eat and sometimes he wouldn’t, it is overwhelming to live in fear of the brothel owner and the other “customers”. The place always smells bad and Taehyung hates the noises at night coming from downstairs. Yet, Taehyung doesn’t really know what life outside of the brothel is. He knows that he’s a small kid with minimal chances of survival by himself. But if the brothel owner decides to kick him out, he’ll have to figure a way to live. That’s all he’s been doing all this time - his mind is furiously working, trying to figure out a way to survive.
It’s his intelligence that makes him keep quiet, very quiet, when he sees Mr. Hwang approaching where he sits in the corner of the room.
The women stand out of the “dorm” (a simple room with no mattresses, only dirty carpets, ragged blankets and some clothes), peeking curiously. The brothel owner walks behind Mr. Hwang; his eyes are almost shining with excitement.
The tall man, on the other hand, looks absolutely disgusted. Not only by his filthy surroundings. Taehyung knows that he’s Mr. Hwang’s main source of disgust.
The man stops a few steps away from the small boy and watches him with a scowl.
“There he is,” the brothel owner says as if the man hadn’t seen Taehyung already. “But I am rather curious, Mr. Hwang… you seemed so adamant last night. What made you change your mind-?”
“If you ask more questions I might as well give up.” Mr. Hwang says dryly.
Taehyung quickly analyzes the man in front of him.
His clothes are made of delicate fabric. Not the most expensive fabric he has ever seen, but this itself indicates that he’s richer than the average customer. The way Mr. Hwang stands, his posture, his high chin, even his scowl - everything indicates that he’s a man used to being in a commanding position. He’s used to being heard and obeyed.
It’s obvious that he hates this situation. He hates Taehyung.
Yet, Taehyung once again remembers that he’s just a small boy in a cruel world. He doesn’t have the loving, fragile hands of his mother to take care of him anymore. This man's hands are surely far from being loving - but they’re also far from being fragile.
Taehyung suspects that this man might be even worse than the brothel owner.
But his mother taught him to be the smartest person in the room. To think the quickest. Taehyung knows he doesn’t have many options.
So, when Mr. Hwang growls a “Get up, boy,” as if it pains him to say this, Taehyung indeed gets up in a jump, even though the brusque movement makes his hip hurt excruciatingly.
He quietly follows Mr. Hwang out of the dorm. The man does not look back. Those women that saw him grow up don't say goodbye. The brothel owner looks relieved - one less problem to deal with.
Taehyung is leaving all the memories he had of his mother behind, even though the brothel is a place to make one have nightmares.
But it’s alright.
His mother taught him how to survive.
And survive he would.
Taehyung can't help but widen his eyes as they finally arrive at Mr. Hwang's property. It's a completely different sight under the daylight; the field goes as far as the eye can see. There’s some houses peeking here and there, yet the village was left behind minutes ago. Taehyung can see the ocean down the hill - the shore, then the endless body of water that delimits the horizon. His lungs are immediately filled with fresh, salty air; the cold wind plays with his hair, the sound of waves crashing gently against the shore and the cries of seagulls from far is everything he can hear. The grey scenery, although beautiful, makes Taehyung feel even smaller.
“Come on, boy.” Mr. Hwang growls harshly, walking down the hill towards his big house. “This is not a trip.”
Taehyung quickly comes back to his senses and starts to walk after him, albeit slower. Hills are never easy. His hip and left leg hurts at each step, but Taehyung resigns himself to try to hide his painful scowl. He’s used to it at this point. The pain on his hip is a long time annoying friend.
Mr. Hwang finally realizes that Taehyung isn’t by his side when he reaches the bottom of the hill. He looks back, ready to probably scold him (it looks like Mr. Hwang is doing his best to not have to look at the boy at all), but when he sees Taehyung’s slow, ungainly walk, he stops. He just watches in a strange silence as the boy approaches him.
When Taehyung finally stands a few steps away from him, Mr. Hwang says:
“You are lame.”
He just noticed it, even though the travel from the previous village was quite long. Taehyung gulps and looks down, feeling slightly embarrassed. He is quite used to this type of look - the way people would notice the way he walks and suddenly they won’t see him as a normal human being anymore - but somehow, Mr. Hwang’s eyes filled with contempt overwhelms him.
The tall man swears under his breath.
“Oh, heavens! This couldn’t get any worse, could it?!”
Just like the brothel owner, Mr. Hwang is angry at Taehyung as if he became lame on purpose. Taehyung didn’t ask to be born, didn’t ask for his mother’s death and he certainly didn’t ask to be lame. He doesn’t even remember when or why he became like this. The memories from just a few years ago are blurred and vague in his mind. He remembers that there was indeed a time in which he didn’t struggle to walk. Then, he remembers an excruciating pain on his left hip and he remembers his mother crying over him, trying to take care of him, trying to calm him down. He has the faint impression that his mother cried for days and days. At some point, the pain became less sharp and he slowly gained consciousness again. The pain never went away, though. It runs through his bones and muscles at every step he takes.
Of course - deep down, in a far and dark corner of his mind, Taehyung still remembers what happened to him. The memory haunts him at night as he sleeps. His mind just decided to make him forget about it when he’s awake.
It’s better this way.
“This is not a problem, sir,” Taehyung is quick to say, his head respectfully lowered. It is the first time he speaks; his throat feels a little bit hoarse. “I can do any task despite my weak leg.”
Mr. Hwang snorts. “This we’ll see soon.”
He starts walking again. Taehyung follows him quietly.
The house looks a little bit frightening as they approach. It’s big and made of good wood, twice bigger than the brothel he grew up in. It’s impossibly clean - so clean that Taehyung gets surprised. He’s not used to places that don’t smell like body fluids and mold. It makes his dirty and simple clothes stand out even more.
As soon as they walk in, a boy shows up.
A little bit taller than Taehyung - probably older. His clothes are way better than Taehyung’s, his cheeks are chubbier, his hair is shinier and his eyes gleam with curiosity.
“Minhyun, go and call your brothers,” Mr. Hwang orders in a dry tone. The boy looks from his father to Taehyung and, instead of saying anything, does as he was told.
Nervousness creeps over Taehyung’s skin.
Without a word, Mr. Hwang guides Taehyung through the house until they reach the dining room. Soon, four boys enter the room as well - Minhyun being the tallest; one of the boys looks like he’s Taehyung’s age, while the other two are definitely younger.
Not too long after that, a woman walks in.
She’s tall. Her clothes are made of better fabric than he has ever seen any girl from the brothel wear, her hair is a slick pitch black. Her features weight with severity. She looks at least twenty years older than Taehyung’s mother when she passed.
She lays her eyes on Taehyung briefly; they pierce through him.
Then, she looks at her husband.
"What is happening?"
Her voice isn't loud; it's far from screaming. But right now, Taehyung thinks it'd be better if she was screaming. That low and controlled tone makes Taehyung think of a snake right before it strikes - it had crawled so quietly that its poor prey hadn't noticed, so calm and controlled that the moment its prey realizes what's happening, it's already too late.
Taehyung hears the underlying rage in her voice. He sees her eyes gleaming with a strong fire. And everyone else in the room feels it, too.
It's Taehyung's intelligence that tells him that, maybe, this woman might be worse than Mr. Hwang.
"Darling, boys," Mr. Hwang starts in a theatrical manner. It surprises Taehyung. The man gesticulates as if he's talking to a big crowd. "Tonight, I had a dream. A woman came to me. She begged me to take care of her son who she had left behind. She begged… begged me! For she knew, no one would want to take him in… not with his curse."
Mr. Hwang takes Taehyung's thin wrist rather roughly and exposes it.
The boys gasp. Mrs. Hwang's eyes narrow.
"He was cursed due to his doings in his past life." The man continues. Taehyung makes sure to keep looking down. If he was a little bit naive, he would have believed what Mr. Hwang was saying, but how could he know anything about Taehyung's past life? "She begged me to take care of this boy, and in return, she'd bless our family and our land."
Mr. Hwang looks emotional. Taehyung thinks he's a great actor.
"So, from now on, the boy - Taehyung - will be living with us."
His sons look surprised. Mrs. Hwang doesn't.
“I don’t want this cursed boy anywhere near my children.” it’s all Mrs. Hwang says dryly and walks away without saying anything else - she didn’t even look at Taehyung again.
The room feels frozen.
Mr. Hwang gulps and stands there for a few moments. He looks down at Taehyung with rage in his eyes as if it was Taehyung’s fault, rapidly going after his wife.
Now, Taehyung’s alone with the other four boys.
They stare at him in silence.
Taehyung isn’t really used to being around other kids his age - he was the only kid in the brothel and he rarely ever left the place. Taehyung is still ten years old after all, and to see other kids makes him feel a little bit excited. He never had anyone to play with him. Maybe this won’t be as bad as he thought after all…?
But once again - Taehyung’s intelligence doesn’t let him fool himself.
The aggressiveness in their eyes. The way they analyze his ragged clothes. The awkwardness, the superiority, the disgust.
The oldest boy, Minhyun, quirks one eyebrow. “Why were you cursed?”
Taehyung blinks and shifts uncomfortably in place. “I… I’m not cursed.” Yet, he doesn’t sound convincing. Not at all.
The other boy standing by Minhyun’s right scorns. It looks like he’s Taehyung’s age. “Of course you are. Why don’t you have a birthdate?”
He gulps, feeling his shoulders shrinking. “I don’t know.” His voice is quiet.
The four boys chuckle. “The gods want you to be alone. Let’s not disobey them.” Minhyun says as he walks away from the dining room. The look they give Taehyung makes him shrink even more.
The boy stands there quietly.
Maybe living on the streets would be better than this, he thinks.
No! Another voice in his head debates. You’d be dead in a week on the streets. That’s not what mom would have wanted.
He gulps, not sure where to go. It’d be smart to just stay there until Mr. Hwang returns.
But as he starts to hear voices arguing, curiosity takes the best of him. It’s coming from somewhere down the corridor.
He walks slowly and stands by the door, peeking his head cautiously.
“You’re useless.” Mrs. Hwang’s ferocious voice echoes through the house. “I never bothered with your little escapades. I never said a word about them. But this? You dare to bring that kid to live with me, with my children? As if it wasn’t enough- he’s cursed!”
“Can you please be quiet and let me speak?!” Mr. Hwang tries exasperatedly. “In my dream-”
“You can try to fool anyone with your made up stories, not me.” She growls.
“I actually had a dream.” He says firmly, and by the way his voice sounds, Taehyung thinks he’s telling the truth… and Mr. Hwang doesn’t seem to like this truth. “And the woman put a curse over us.”
“Obviously. The boy is the curse.”
“No. She said that, if I didn’t take the boy with me, she would curse my bloodline forever and I would lose this land.” Taehyung freezes in place. When Mr. Hwang speaks again, his voice is lower. “This land has been under my family’s name for three generations. You know how much it means to me. Besides, it’s because of this land that you can have a comfortable life. I can’t let this happen.”
Mrs. Hwang goes silent.
When they speak again, it’s too low for Taehyung to comprehend. When he hears footsteps approaching again, he runs to the place where he was standing before and lowers his head.
It’s Mr. Hwang again. He gazes at the boy up and down with judgemental eyes, then points to the corridor with his head. “Follow me.”
With his heart beating rapidly, Taehyung does as he was told.
The man leads him outside the house and cold wind immediately hits Taehyung, making him tighten his clothes around his body - as if it’d be of any help. There are a few other buildings near the main house. Some are smaller houses. However, Mr. Hwang leads Taehyung to a tiny building close to the main house; it’s not an old building but it looks cheap and dirty compared to the main house.
Mr. Hwang opens the door and steps aside so Taehyung can walk in.
There’s two rooms filled with fishnets, wood, some fishing tools, bowls and dirty rags. It smells like mold (this is familiar), salt air and fish. There are huge spider webs on the ceiling and down the walls. No windows.
A storage room.
“This is where you’ll sleep.” Mr. Hwang says dryly as Taehyung analyzes his surroundings. “You said that your leg won’t be a problem, right? We’ll see if that’s true. You’ll start working tomorrow morning. My fishermen always need more help anyway.” The boy turns around and faces Mr. Hwang once again. He hates the way this man looks at him. “I’ll give you a piece of advice: do not bother my wife or my children. Do not come into the house if you’re not called. Do not speak more than necessary. Be well behaved and we’ll coexist in peace. Understood?”
“Good. You better be up before dawn. Fishermen won’t wait for you.”
Mr. Hwang closes the door and leaves.
The boy stands there, in silence, for many minutes.
Since the sun is setting, it’s getting darker by the minute. He barely has any space to move around because the place is too packed. He’s also scared because if the amount of webs mean anything, there must be plenty of spiders hiding in the dark.
He wants to cry.
But he doesn’t.
Instead, Taehyung sighs heavily and looks around, opening the door again so he can have the last of the sunlight. He finds an old broom in the corner and starts to sweep the floor, the ceiling, the walls - and yes, spiders do show up, but his mother taught him to be brave so he kills as many as he can with the broom. He starts to organize things inside wooden crates; he folds fishnets carefully, puts hammers and small shovels and pickaxes in another crate, cleans a couple of smelly knives - they probably use them to clean fish, if the bad smell indicates anything. He has much more space now that everything is organized instead of simply thrown around.
When it’s too dark for him to see anything, Taehyung takes an old rug and covers the floor. He’s used to sleeping on old, thin rugs anyway. Since the night is cold, he covers himself with some dirty rags.
Everything Taehyung hears is the sound of his heartbeat and the waves crashing on the seashore.
It’s still better than the type of noise he used to hear every night in the brothel.
He closes his eyes.
She said that, if I didn’t take the boy with me, she would curse my bloodline.
“Thank you, mom.” He whispers. He still feels an intense urge to cry, but once again, he doesn’t.
His mother is still somewhere taking care of him.
Maybe he’s not as alone as he thought, after all.
He's at the pier before the fishermen arrive. It's still dark. Taehyung didn't sleep.
As the men approach, confused, Taehyung bows respectfully.
"Good morning. My name is Taehyung. Mr. Hwang told me to help you with anything you need."
They side-eyed each other awkwardly, but ended up greeting him as well. Since Mr. Hwang sent him, there was nothing they could complain about - even though this boy looked too young and too thin to help with such heavy work. Of course, fishermen start learning at a very young age, but they usually start doing easier tasks when they're young.
Yet, again - Mr. Hwang sent him, there was nothing they could do about it.
Slowly, they start doing the work; taking fishing nets, preparing the boats. Taehyung watches them closely and waits for instructions, but the men seem particularly uncomfortable as they notice the way Taehyung limps.
"Boy." One of the fishermen calls. It looks like he's one of the oldest in the group. His name is Seojoon. "Help me take those fishing nets over here, will you?"
Taehyung promptly walks over to him and sits by his side, taking meters and meters of fishing nets off a wooden box. He soon finds out that untangling fishnets is not easy and that fishing lines are rough; if he's not careful, he'll likely get his palms cut.
"This fishing net is damaged, see?" Seojoon says. Taehyung nods. "We can still use it if we patch it up." The boy watches carefully as Seojoon works his fingers around the fishing lines with ease, quickly fixing the hole on the net. "Try it out."
Taehyung takes the fishing net on his fingers and tries to do the same, albeit slowly. The man shakes his head in approval.
Seojoon watches the boy in silence as he works.
"Is your leg hurt?" He asks.
Taehyung hesitates. "It was a long time ago." He says quietly. "But I'm fine. It won't be a problem." Taehyung notices that the man analyzes everything he does and his dirty clothes - yet, he doesn't make any more comments.
When they start pushing the boats into the sea, though, and Seojoon sees Taehyung walking over to them, he stops the boy.
"You're not going with us today, kid." Seojoon says, placing a hand over his shoulder. "Stay at the pier and fix more fishing nets for us, okay?"
Taehyung doesn't quite understand why Seojoon said that. Although Taehyung is intelligent, no one taught him about compassion and care. Taehyung doesn't know that Seojoon has five kids himself and, as he watched Taehyung - small and skinny and quiet -, it made him think of his children in this situation and it hurt him.
The other fishermen seem to think alike. Instead of arguing, Taehyung walks back to the pier as they put the boats on the sea and sail away, yet not too far from the coast; Taehyung can still see them.
It's cold. His clothes are too thin. To distract himself from the bad weather, Taehyung focuses his fingers on fixing the fishing nets; at first he takes a long time to patch up a single hole, but as minutes go by, he gets better and better at it, even though the skin of his hand starts to ache at some point. It's entertaining. Taehyung used to work in the brothel as well doing chores, but somehow, this is relaxing - probably because there isn't any brothel owner watching his every move like a hawk.
Taehyung doesn't even realize that hours have passed and the boats came back for lunchtime. They didn't take as many fishes as they'd like, but it's enough.
Seojoon stands in front of Taehyung and crosses his arms, looking surprised. "You fixed them all?"
Taehyung nods. He feels a spark of happiness inside of his chest at Seojoon's approval.
"Well, it seems that the kid will be helpful after all." Another fisherman says, patting Taehyung on the shoulder; his name is Wooshik. "He's fast."
The boy feels his cheeks get red with the attention and compliments. The Hwang family might be awful, but these people are friendly, at least…
"I'll teach you how to actually make fishing nets, alright?" Seojoon says as Taehyung puts the nets back into the crates. "But we'll take a break now after we take those fishes up the hill."
The men start to walk up the hill towards their houses holding heavy boxes full of fish; they'll either eat them or sell them at the villages nearby, that's why everything must be done very quickly. They take the boxes easily despite how heavy they are.
As Taehyung gets ready to take one of the boxes, his stomach makes a loud noise.
Seojoon and another fisherman - his name is Wooshik - stop as they hear this. Taehyung feels his cheeks get red.
They know Mr. Hwang can be cruel sometimes, but what did that boy do to deserve this?
Seojoon puts his hands over the box Taehyung is holding. "Don't bother. We can take those up the-"
"Let him do it."
Everyone stops - even the other fishermen - as they hear the harsh female voice say.
A shiver colder than the ocean's water hits Taehyung.
"Mrs. Hwang." Seojoon cumpriments, bowing politely. Everyone else does the same.
The woman doesn't take her eyes off the young boy, though. Taehyung gulps. The way she looks at him makes him feel smaller, dirtier, insignificant.
"He has to prove himself as useful." Mrs. Hwang says. "Let him bring the box alone."
"But, Mrs. Hwang… his leg-" Seojoon tries.
"He said that it wouldn't be a problem." She cuts him off. "Let him prove it."
"It's okay." Taehyung says quietly. "She is right. I'll do it."
Seojoon looks down at him with worry. Yet, he doesn't intervene anymore.
They watch as Taehyung takes the box once again into his arms.
It's heavier than he expected.
A wave of pain immediately spreads through his left leg and hip. He scowls. Tears of pain water his eyes.
He blinks rapidly.
They watch as Taehyung starts walking up the hill with the heavy box.
They watch, even though it's difficult to just watch that little kid's ungainly walk, even though it's obvious that he's in pain at every step he takes.
But they can't do anything to help him because Mrs. Hwang is also watching quietly. She is the law.
Not only fish weigh on Taehyung; shame, pain, hunger, anger and sadness seem to weigh heavier. The tears in his eyes weigh heavier.
He wants to cry so bad.
But he doesn't.
He swallows it.
He walks up the hill even though it hurts.
And, when he puts the box where it should be, he inhales heavily and walks down the hill again to take another box.
Mrs. Hwang watches him. No approval on her gaze. Doesn't seem surprised.
But, from now on, Taehyung knows that she definitely is worse than her husband - and she'll make his days as bad as she can.
Taehyung dreams of his mother sometimes.
It’s usually the same dream. She’s too far from him; he stands at the top of the hill and she stands down there at the beach, shin-deep into the water. She’s healthy; her cheeks are way chubbier and her skin isn’t a sickening blue, just like she was the days before her death. Her long hair waves behind her and frames her beautiful face. She wears the yellow dress Taehyung knew she loved. She’s the only colorful thing on the grey scenery behind her.
She stands there and looks at him. Taehyung sees her mouthing some words, but he can’t listen; her voice dies in the midst of the ocean waves. Taehyung always shouts, desperate. Don’t leave me alone!
She smiles sadly.
Then, he wakes up to the same old ceiling, the same dull floor, the same thin sheet covering his body.
It’s a new day.
Everyday, he wakes up before the Hwang family and the fishermen, and walks to the village nearby to buy a few ingredients. He comes back and prepares breakfast for the family - and he has to do it before they wake up, for Mrs. Hwang loses appetite if she sees him first thing in the morning. He takes a little bit of the leftovers, has his own breakfast (back in the storage room, of course), then when the sun is finally peeking in the horizon, he walks down to the pier to start the working day. At this point, his hands became calloused and rough from pushing and pulling fishing lines; his skin is constantly tanned from the sun and salt - a stark contrast from the Hwang boys whose skins are as fair as their mother’s, for they barely leave the main house at all.
Taehyung likes to work. When his mind is busy pushing heavy nets full of fish from the sea or gutting fish carefully or putting them into bowls full of salt to keep them conserved for a few days (usually for the Hwang family; most people in the area aren’t rich enough to afford salt), he feels useful.
The fishermen aren’t bad company either. They’ve grown sympathy for the boy that’s always there to help, who’s never late and never complains about anything. Sometimes, when none of the Hwang family members are around, Seojoon even gives Taehyung the clothes that don’t fit his older son anymore. Although Mrs. Hwang insists that Taehyung should do heavy work, the fishermen usually let him do the easier tasks, such as weaving nets, cleaning fish or fixing boats.
Taehyung doesn’t exactly hate this life. It’s harsh and most times lonely, but he hasn’t learned what a good life means either. He doesn’t have friends his age; the Hwang brothers are constantly trying to make his days difficult - from unleashing their dogs on him to putting dirt on his food or hiding scorpions under his improvised pillow - but at least the fishermen treat him well. The food he eats isn’t nearly as good as what he actually cooks for the Hwang family, but he’s chubbier and healthier now than he has ever been. His hip and leg still hurt, of course, and people still look at him awkwardly when they see him constantly limp, but he doesn’t care anymore.
Yet, Taehyung always knew that things could get worse.
And they do.
He realizes that when, one morning, he goes to the village as usual and the elder woman he usually buys some grains from contorts her face in panic as she sees him.
“Do not come closer!” She yells. Some passersby stop as they hear this. “Go away! Freak!”
He notices the way the passersby look at him.
It’s a different look from what he’s used to. They look at him as if he’s the most disgusting thing they have ever seen, as if he’s contagious.
He walks back home, confused.
The fishermen are also looking at him differently. They’re not smiling anymore as he comes closer, their eyes aren’t as warm as they used to.
Taehyung doesn’t understand. Did he do something wrong? Did he arrive late today? Is it because he’s taking too long to weave a new net? Did they finally become tired of the way he’s always slower than them because of his leg? It was never a problem before.
Yet, once again, it’s his intelligence that tells him what actually happened. He realizes it the moment he sees Minhyun standing in front of the storage room as he walks back after the working day ends.
He has a satisfied, mischievous smirk on his lips.
“You thought you could fool people longer, didn’t you?” Minhyun scorns. “Pretending that you’re a normal person… well, now everyone knows you’re not.”
Taehyung’s eyes widen. Unconsciously, he grabs his own right wrist. He always keeps it hidden with bandages - no one ever questioned why. It’ll be useless from now on, though…
Now, everyone knows that there’s no birthdate inked on his skin.
Everyone knows that he was born to be alone.
“Why did you do it?” Taehyung asks in a quiet voice. He usually doesn’t talk to the Hwang brothers - especially Minhyun -; most times, their interactions are resumed in the brothers humiliating him in some way and Taehyung trying his best to ignore them, for he knows that it’ll take him nowhere, it’d only be worse if he fought back.
He can’t do it today.
He hates the way he can’t hide his hurt this time - not because he’s ashamed of being hurt, but because he knows Minhyun enjoys it. Every time Minhyun is especially rude or violent with Taehyung, every time Taehyung can’t hide his emotions, Minhyun only feels more satisfied.
Minhyun’s smirk widens.
“I already told you… the gods want you to be alone. I’m doing as they want.”
Minhyun expects Taehyung to say something or to start a fight; anyone with some sense of pride would get angry, right?
But Taehyung doesn’t do that.
Punching Minhyun’s nose would be satisfying, but the consequences would be worse than any broken nose. It’s not worth it.
Breaking Minhyun’s nose wouldn’t hurt as much as Taehyung is hurting right now anyway.
So, instead, Taehyung walks past the older boy.
Tonight, though, he can’t help it. He cries in front of his mother tonight, feeling the usual hollowness in his chest widen, feeling loneliness just as deep as the ocean behind her.
In his dream, his mother cries, too.
Mr. Hwang barely recognizes Taehyung’s existence.
He calls him sometimes when he needs something. Other than that, it seems that Mr. Hwang avoids even looking at Taehyung. Not that the boy wants any type of recognition coming from that man, of course.
It’s not the same for everyone else; people at villages nearby always want to be recognized by Mr. Hwang. He’s the richest person in the region because his land occupies most of the seashore - and this particular beach is excellent for fishing. So, in exchange for letting some families go fishing, they have to give Mr. Hwang a percentage of all of their income, be it in money or actual fish.
He's treated like royalty. Taehyung suspects he really thinks he's some type of king - and he expects his children to act like royalty as well.
They don't always meet his high expectations, however. Obviously, the one whose expectations are higher is his first born, Minhyun.
Every time Taehyung witnesses Minhyun falling from his high expectations, he thanks the heavens for being so unnoticed by Mr. Hwang.
Everyone can hear the beating sounds. It seems to be even louder in the quiet night. Mr. Hwang's angry yells. His words of disapproval. Minhyun never mutters a word.
One morning, Mr. Hwang seemed to be angrier than usual. Taehyung could barely sleep at night. It's been some hours since he quieted down, though, and it's time to get up for his daily routine.
As Taehyung walks quietly to the well to wash himself, still half asleep, he freezes when he notices a figure already standing there.
He's trying to clean the blood off his clothes, hands shaking slightly. His back faces Taehyung. The younger boy's stomach twirls at the sight.
Minhyun sobs quietly.
Taehyung stands there in silence for a few moments.
Something tells him that he should be enjoying this. Minhyun is the one who takes all his efforts to make Taehyung's life feel like pure hell. How many times has he humiliated him, made him feel insignificant and small?
This should be rewarding to watch, right? Taehyung can't avenge himself, but at least Minhyun can taste a little bit of his own poison.
However, Taehyung doesn't feel this way.
His chest tightens.
So, quietly, he takes some nearby leaves from the floor. Although it's still very dark, Taehyung knows all the types of plants in the area so well that he doesn't even need to see it properly.
He walks over to Minhyun. The older boy turns around in a jump, startled, as he finally realizes that he's not alone.
Minhyun is quick to wipe the tears away from his face. He assumes a defensive posture, eyes already gleaming with anger.
"Are you happy now?!" He says aggressively. Taehyung just watches him in silence. It seems to further increase his anger. "So what? This means nothing. You're still a nobody and I'm still a Hwang! I own everything here by right, even the clothes you wear! I could just take them if I wanted. You're still a cursed nobody!"
Taehyung doesn't say anything.
This explains so much about Minhyun.
Under all the red anger, Taehyung sees sadness and shame in his eyes. Minhyun's true self is small and scared, as much as he tries to deny it with aggressive and superior behaviours.
He learned from his father after all.
It makes Taehyung wonder for a brief moment… if he wasn't Mr. Hwang's first born, if Mrs. Hwang didn't teach him to hate Taehyung… maybe their relationship would be way different. Maybe Minhyun is different under all of that.
Taehyung lifts his hand and shows the couple of leaves he has on his palm. Minhyun widens his eyes, surprised and confused.
"What is this?!"
"Herbs." Taehyung explains quietly. "They help the skin heal and cicatrize faster. You should apply them twice a day after you clean your wounds."
After years of having his palms cut by fishing lines, Taehyung sure knows what he's talking about.
Minhyun eyes the herbs, then Taehyung again, then the herbs.
It's the first time Taehyung sees Minhyun look actually embarrassed.
Yet, instead of taking them, Minhyun tightens his fists and walks past Taehyung at heavy steps, bumping his shoulder against Taehyung's. The herbs end falling on the floor.
Pride is a high wall to escalate, after all.
Taehyung is well known in the region. Everywhere he goes, he notices people realizing who he is and whispering among themselves. The cursed boy, they say. I heard his mother was a prostitute, that's why he was cursed. He must've been a terrible person in his past life, they say.
Taehyung is used to it.
They avoid him vehemently. If he goes to the marketplace, he has to stand out of stores because the merchants don't want him to bring bad luck into their business. The harvest was bad this year because he lives here, they say. He should leave! The gods will punish everyone that helps him!
It doesn't make any sense, of course - Taehyung has been working as a fisherman for years and fish never disappeared from the seashore because of him; Mr. Hwang is certainly doing very well in his business, even though he lets Taehyung live on his property. But Taehyung is tired of trying to prove them wrong. He knows that things will most likely be like this forever and he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life trying to prove himself.
Maybe his silence is what spreads rumors even further, beyond what he could have ever imagined.
One day, Taehyung is walking back to Mr. Hwang's property from a village nearby. There are closer places to buy salt - maybe at the village right by the Hwang property, but for some reason Mrs. Hwang insists that Taehyung should take a two hour walk just to buy from that specific man.
She said that it's because his salt is "better", but Taehyung doubts that.
He has a ceramic pot full of salt attached to his back by ropes. Taehyung walks slowly, respecting his own limits. He's used to carrying weight now, though, so his hip and leg don't hurt as much as it used to… or maybe he just got used to it. The road is empty on both sides, not even a single house peeking anywhere. Because of that, this road that connects both villages became quite dangerous. Many thieves hide behind trees or rocks, waiting for their next victim. Aware of this danger, Taehyung never walks in the middle of the road; he always chooses a longer path, where he can have a good view of everything from both sides - and where he can run if he sees something suspicious.
And for the first time, he sees something suspicious.
A carriage is going down the hill. Directly in the opposite direction, Taehyung notices three men hiding behind a tree, waiting for it to come.
They hold knives.
His heartbeat increases. Adrenaline fills his bloodstream.
It's none of my business, he thinks. I should just go home. If I walk past them fast enough and keep my distance, they won't notice me.
His feet are rooted on the floor.
The carriage comes closer and closer. He gulps.
The three men jump out of their hideout, approaching the carriage, knives in hand. They open the door forcefully, yelling.
It's none of my business, he thinks again.
But before he can control himself, he's running towards them.
And before they notice Taehyung, he takes the heavy ceramic pot from his back and slams it against their heads.
One of them immediately falls unconscious. The other looks at Taehyung, surprised. He's ready to lift his knife again-
But he falls, too.
Taehyung breathes heavily, his heart thumping inside his ribcage. His hands are trembling. He can't believe he did it. The pot- the salt- it's broken on the floor, painting the dirt road white.
His brain starts to function again slowly.
Why did the other man pass out? Taehyung didn't even touch him, he's sure-
"Oh well, you're a crazy one."
Taehyung stops as he hears the sudden male voice.
For some unknown reason, a shiver crawls underneath his skin.
He turns around slowly.
The owner of the carriage has just gotten out of it. Awkwardly, Taehyung notices that the third thief is also laying on the floor behind him, unconscious.
The man analyzes Taehyung up and down with his eyes.
He's tall, has pitch black hair, fair skin, and features so beautiful that it seems he was sculpted by an artist. His clothes are made of delicate, expensive fabric - much more expensive than anything he's seen Mrs. Hwang wear. He's not from here. Not from any village nearby. His clothes are something Taehyung would expect a royal to wear.
This alone should indicate that this man is used to being in a commanding position. He’s used to being obeyed - perhaps even more than Mr. Hwang. He just stands there, confident and carefree, a lazy smirk of curiosity on his lips.
He sure looks like a normal man. Incredibly beautiful, yes. Apparently very rich, yes. But at the end of the day, rich men are just men - that’s why Taehyung was never really scared of Mr. Hwang; he knew when to be quiet and when to lower his head because it was the smart thing to do, not because he was scared or because he respected him.
But Taehyung’s blood almost feels frozen as this man lays his eyes on him.
His legs feel wobbly, his breathing becomes difficult, adrenaline flows even harder through him.
He looks like a normal man.
But something very deep within him - may it be his natural instincts or his pure intelligence - knows that he isn’t a normal man. His simple presence seems to be crushing Taehyung’s body in a way no normal man would do. He feels that he can’t move or breathe or speak, although all of his senses are begging him to run away. And the man doesn’t even look aggressive. Taehyung knows when someone is seeking violence; he can’t feel any of that exhaling from the stranger.
What exhales from him is worse.
It’s ancient and ominous and unnatural and inhuman.
The man quirks his eyebrow and tilts his head slightly. Taehyung’s heart beats even faster. The stranger’s every move sends shivers through his body.
“You could’ve died, kid. I don’t know if you’re really brave or just stupid.” The stranger crosses his arms. It seems that the whole situation is entertaining for him. “Why did you do this?”
Taehyung tries to speak. He can’t.
The man rolls his eyes as if he noticed something very annoying and makes a quick gesture with his hand, as if dismissing something.
Suddenly Taehyung feels that he can breathe again.
“I-I… I don’t know.” He stutters in a quiet, strangled voice. “My b-body moved on its own.”
The stranger chuckles. “You’re brave and stupid.”
The way the stranger looks at him makes him feel exposed. It’s as if he’s seeing through Taehyung’s body. He analyzes everything - the cheap dirty clothes, the broken ceramic pot, his worn out sandals-
His eyes stop at Taehyung’s right wrist.
Today’s especially hot, so the boy decided to take the usual bandage off.
Something new gleams in the stranger’s eyes - something that makes Taehyung’s stomach twirl.
“It’s you.” The man says in a voice that seems to creep into Taehyung’s bones. He approaches fast - unnervingly fast - and grabs Taehyung’s wrist, exposing it to his sight. Taehyung still feels that he can’t move. The stranger’s presence overwhelms him.
He stares at Taehyung’s empty wrist.
“It’s incredible how coincidences work. I didn’t think I’d find you so easily.” He finally looks up at Taehyung’s face and the boy immediately avoids his gaze. He doesn’t understand why, but he can’t look this man in the eye. He simply can’t.
“So the rumors are real. You’re free from the string.” String? What does this mean?! “How interesting. See, Yoongi?”
For the first time, Taehyung notices the coachman. The stranger’s presence is so overwhelming that it seems that he couldn’t focus on anything else. The coachman doesn’t look as interested as the other; he looks quite bored, even. His hair is as black as his boss’, his skin just as fair. He has feline and astute eyes that quickly analyze Taehyung.
There’s also something very disturbing about the coachman. Taehyung feels as if he’s surrounded by wolves.
“You shouldn’t say my name easily like that.” The coachman says in a quiet, husky voice. He sounds annoyed.
“He’s just a pure human. There’s nothing he could do with your name.” The stranger says dismissively.
“So, what are you going to do? Are you taking him?” The coachman - Yoongi - asks, just as disinterested as before.
Take me? What?!
The stranger gazes at Taehyung in silence, a mysterious smile never leaving his lips.
“No,” he finally says. “Not yet. He’s not ready.”
The stranger pats Taehyung’s hand gently. His eyes are dark and deep. No sign of happiness at all - just some type of evil mischief, worse than Mrs. Hwang’s or Minhyun’s or anyone he has ever met.
“You’ll be useful someday. But now, you should go home, kid. I guess your bosses won’t accept you getting late, right?” He widens his eyes slightly as if he just remembered something in a sarcastic way. “Oh! How rude of me. I didn’t tell you my name, did I?”
Then, he hears it.
A voice inside of his head. Literally inside of his head - even though the man did not open his mouth.
The stranger lets go of his hands and steps back.
“You’re getting late,” he says.
Taehyung gulps. He feels like running away, but he-
He sees something right behind the man.
It’s- It’s the ceramic pot.
No salt can be seen on the floor.
I’m sure it crashed-
But Taehyung notices that he can move his body again, so he ignores his astonishment - how unreal this situation is - and takes the pot in his arms as quickly as his shaking hands let him.
“Don’t look back, boy.” The coachman says dryly.
Taehyung doesn’t argue.
He walks down the road holding the pot like his life depends on it. He doesn’t stop, doesn’t look back, doesn’t rest until he’s finally home and his legs hurt and his arms hurt and his throat is so dry it hurts and he’s sweating.
Only then his heart calms down.
Taehyung has been in dangerous situations before. He almost drowned in the sea once. A poisonous snake once hid under his sheet. He caught a fever so strong that he thought he was going to die.
Yet, deep down - even though he can’t explain it with words - Taehyung knows that, as he faced that man, he never stood so close to death.
Less than a week later, Seojoon calls Taehyung as he’s walking back from work.
“You shouldn’t go to the village at night anymore. At least not by yourself.” The older man says seriously. Taehyung frowns, confused.
“Didn’t you hear it? Three men were found dead two days ago on the road.” Seojoon says somberly. “I didn’t see it myself, but my cousin saw it… he said they were dry like raisins.” Seojoon shakes his head in disgust. “I’m not one to believe in many things, kid, but whatever did that to them isn’t human. You shouldn’t walk around without an amulet, at least.”
Seojoon pats Taehyung’s shoulder and keeps walking.
Taehyung’s feet, though, are rooted on the floor.
Three men were found dead on the road.
He gulps. It’s difficult, for his throat feels tightened.
Whatever did that to them isn’t human.
The Hwang family sits elegantly in the dining room. They wear their best clothes, styled their hair to perfection, even trained how to behave. The perfect family. The closest thing to royalty in the region.
They've never met such a famous person, after all, so they have to leave a good impression.
Kim Hajoon is a well-known man. Not only the owner of a great fortune, he’s a famous doctor, known for treating many royals. Kim Hajoon went as far as travelling overseas - such a rare opportunity, only granted for truly fortunate and important people. He’s a true high class, the most famous person Mr. Hwang has ever met.
He had no idea why Doctor Hajoon personally contacted him and came to his property, but Mr. Hwang is exultant. And his hopes are only getting higher… other than two assistants, Doctor Hajoon also brought his own daughter - a gorgeous young woman called Kim Jisoo. Her beauty is so distracting that all of his four sons hadn’t really paid attention to anything but the polite and elegant woman.
Perhaps she could take a liking to one of his sons. Gods… if Mr. Hwang could arrange a marriage between one of his sons and her (preferably Minhyun), this would be his great chance of becoming a real member of high society. Especially now that Minhyun met his pair; a girl, just a poor villager, her family didn’t own anything. Mr. Hwang would never let any of his children marry a lower class like that, it didn’t matter how much Minhyun stupidly cried. Marriages are supposed to mean income. If they don’t mean income, they won’t happen.
Of course, Lady Kim Jisoo isn’t his pair, but she’s gorgeous. A man doesn’t need more than that. After Minhyun became worthy of being the family’s head, he’d be free to go after the peasant and have his fun with her.
“Thank you so much for the meal. It was delicious,” Doctor Hajoon says politely. Mr. Hwang made sure to spend money to prepare this banquet; the table is filled with various foods they barely ever eat in their daily life.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it. The fish in this area are said to be the best of all,” Mr. Hwang brags. Doctor Hajoon nods, still smiling politely.
“I’m sure it is,” he says, but Mr. Hwang notices that the doctor looks quite impatient. “Well, now that we’re all well fed, it’s time to show my true intentions in contacting you.”
Mr. Hwang and his wife feel excitement building up in them.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumors for the past few months,” Doctor Hajoon starts. Although his voice is soft, he can’t hide the excitement in his eyes. “Rumors about a man who was born without a birthdate on his wrist. I didn’t believe it at first, of course. However, a friend of mine travelled to the region and met some people that confirmed that this man in fact exists… and I got information that the man actually works for you, Mr. Hwang, right here at your property.” The doctor smiles. “As you must know, I am a doctor and scientist… and after hearing such a thing, I couldn’t not investigate. So I ask you, Mr. Hwang, to let me meet this man.”
The dining room falls silent.
Mr. Hwang’s eye twitches.
The four sons side eye him, waiting for the explosion-
“Minhyun,” Mr. Hwang asks in the softest, calmest voice they’ve ever heard. “Where is Taehyung?”
Minhyun gulps. “Probably at the pier, fater.”
“Bring him here. Now.”
Doctor Hajoon is not aware of how Minhyun shivered at hearing his father’s voice, even though he sounds completely content.
Taehyung is cleaning fish when he sees Minhyun on the beach, almost running towards him.
He and the few other fishermen look at Minhyun awkwardly. His fancy clothes do not match the scenery. Minhyun rarely comes down to the beach, especially when they’re working.
Mr. Hwang’s oldest son stands in front of Taehyung, panting. He looks annoyed and scared, all at once, and it makes Taehyung even more confused.
“Follow me to the main house. Now.”
He doesn’t explain further and doesn’t wait for Taehyung. Nevertheless, Taehyung gets up, cleaning his hands with an old cloth resting over his shoulder.
“What happened?” He asks, following Minhyun shortly. His heart is already racing. Did he do something wrong? Is Mrs. Hwang requesting his presence to ask him something impossible at the last minute? Did he put too much seasoning on the food? The banquet he prepared seemed quite important. She wouldn’t be happy if he messed it up.
Minhyun doesn’t answer his question. Instead, he looks at Taehyung, frowning and impatient. “You don’t have anything better to wear, do you?” He asks harshly.
Taehyung looks down at his own dirty clothes. Of course he has nothing “better” to wear. As if Minhyun himself didn’t know it.
The oldest rolls his eyes. “Whatever. At least wash your hands in the well before entering the house. You smell awful.”
Taehyung still doesn’t understand what’s happening, but he washes his hands anyway. It feels strange to walk into the main house in broad daylight when everyone is awake. Taehyung always felt that he doesn’t belong here - and he doesn’t want to belong.
As he enters the dining room, all eyes focus on him.
He sees four unknown faces. Three men and a young woman.
Mrs. Hwang is probably the only one that notices how Kim Jisoo widens her eyes slightly when she sees Taehyung, how her breath shakes a little bit - and it makes the woman's blood boil in anger. Jisoo seemed disinterested the whole time up until now. She didn't pay much attention to any of the Hwang brothers.
Because yes, Taehyung might be a cursed nobody that smells like fish and wears ragged clothes, but he's grown to become a handsome man.
He inherited all of his mother's beauty; Taehyung has refined, yet strong and masculine features. His voice is deep and smooth like silk. Working as a fisherman brought him a muscular physique. He became a tall man - taller than any of the Hwang brothers, taller even than Mr. Hwang himself.
Mrs. Hwang hates him for it.
Yes, Taehyung is just an illiterate fisherman. Yes, people still do not let him enter their establishments because he apparently brings “bad luck”. However, he’s able to make people blush with a single look; he’s a quiet man, but when he does speak, he can make goosebumps run through women’s spines and make men sheepish when they see his rare smiles. Now, instead of the disgusting cursed boy, they whisper among themselves, poor man! He’s cursed. They put a little bit more rice in the pot than he asked for without extra charge. They ask if he’s thirsty and offer a cup of water. They giggle and avoid his gaze.
And Taehyung doesn’t need fancy clothes or a heavy surname to help him cause this reaction.
The oldest man quickly gets up from the table and bows politely. His eyes are full of curiosity and excitement.
“You must be Taehyung. My name is Kim Hajoon. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
Taehyung gulps and bows back, albeit awkwardly. He has a little bit of a trauma regarding rich outsiders that want to meet him (he tries hard not to remember that day, pretending it simply didn’t happen. It’s easier this way). This man, however, looks and feels like a normal man. He looks very welcoming and sympathetic, even.
“The pleasure is mine, Mr. Kim.” Taehyung says. Jisoo indeed feels a goosebump crawl her skin as his deep, quiet voice reaches her ears. Her cheeks blush slightly. Mrs. Hwang is furious.
Mr. Hwang quickly gets up from the table; his family promptly following him. The man approaches Taehyung and puts his hand over Taehyung's shoulder.
"I brought him in when he was just a boy," Mr. Hwang starts dramatically. Taehyung hates when he talks like that and hates that he's touching him. "He had just turned ten years old and his condition became well-known… no one would accept a kid with such a curse. But I, knowing that he had just lost his mother, couldn't let him live alone on the streets." Mrs. Hwang approaches as well and puts her hand gently over Taehyung's other shoulder. He becomes more and more uncomfortable. "You see, Doctor Hajoon, I am a father myself… I immediately thought of my own children living in this situation. If me or my wife passed away, I'd like someone to be kind and take my children in… so I did the same with Taehyung."
"He's family to us." Mrs. Hwang says, smiling sweetly. "He works as a fisherman because he wants to build a life for himself, even though I was always against it…"
Taehyung wants to vomit.
He has to hide his shaking fingers behind his back. He's so, so angry. His breathing becomes difficult, he gulps. Right now, Taehyung is in the verge of doing what he always wanted to do - which is land a well deserved punch on Mr. Hwang's nose.
Doctor Hajoon watches the whole theatrical act in silence.
He quickly passes his eyes from Mr. Hwang to Taehyung, notices the quiet fury on the younger's eyes - and he quite understands everything.
“If you excuse me, Mr. Hwang, I’d like to take a walk by myself with Taehyung.” Hajoon asks politely.
Mr. Hwang smiles. He is so angry. Taehyung can feel the anger exhaling from him. Doctor Hajoon wouldn’t notice, though; Mr. Hwang is a great actor, only the ones that have lived around him for long enough can see under his mask.
Mr. Hwang steps aside and looks at Taehyung. He's still smiling, but he sees in his eyes a clear message: be careful with what you say.
Side by side, Doctor Hajoon and Taehyung leave the main house.
Taehyung finally feels that he can breathe again.
He gulps, sheepishly wiping his hands over his pants as they distance themselves from the house. "I apologize, Mr. Hajoon. I know I smell bad right now…"
The doctor chuckles. "It's okay, son. I deal with things that smell much worse." He eyes Taehyung. The younger man keeps his eyes on the floor. "Harsh situation back there, isn't it?"
Taehyung gulps and nods. The doctor surely is an observant man. He was quick to notice how Taehyung limps the moment he laid his eyes on the younger one.
"And your leg?" the doctor asks softly. "Were you born like this?"
Taehyung shakes his head. "It was an accident."
"Oh." The doctor pauses. "Does it still hurt?"
Taehyung nods again, starting to feel uncomfortable. "Mr. Hajoon, why exactly did you want to meet me?"
They stop walking.
"I am a doctor and scientist." He starts. "I became aware of your condition and I'd like to run some experiments on you."
"Experiments?" Taehyung frowns. "Why is that, exactly?"
"So that we can understand what and why it happened."
The younger man shakes his head slightly and looks down. "I don't think there's anything to understand, doctor."
Hajoon's eyes soften. He came so excited to finally meet the famous source of the rumors that he didn't stop to think how painful this situation is.
To know that you had no pair, that you're doomed to live alone until your last days…
"I apologize, Taehyung." Doctor Hajoon says softly. "That was inconsiderate of me. Of course, the final decision is fully yours, regardless of what Mr. Hwang might say. I'm sure he'd like you to agree with the investigation… but if you feel uncomfortable, I will leave right now."
Taehyung looks at the older man.
People usually are not so polite to him. The fact that Dr. Hajoon even agrees to stand so close to him says a lot. The only people that don't seem to bother Taehyung so much are the fishermen (mainly Seojoon), but most of them just don't have an option.
This man is kind.
Taehyung looks down again.
"People say I'm cursed." He starts quietly. Sheepishly. "But I've always known that you must have done something bad to be cursed. I… I don't remember doing anything wrong in my life to deserve this." Taehyung gulps and looks at the doctor again. "So, doctor… do you think that your… medicine… can find out why I'm like this?"
Taehyung has been hearing his whole life that he is cursed. He believes it himself. After all, only a cursed person would go through so much bad in life, right? That's partially why he never really complained about anything - even now that he's not a defenseless child anymore; Taehyung is so well-known in the region that no one would accept him anywhere. As bad as it is, the Hwang family are the only ones that let him live in their land after all.
What if this man can prove that he's not cursed? Maybe then, people won't treat him badly anymore.
And as Dr. Hajoon watches this young man, he feels his heart tighten even more.
"I can't promise you anything, son…" he smiles softly, putting his hand over Taehyung's shoulder in a reassuring way. "But I will do my best."
Taehyung ends up opening a small smile as well.
"Then I agree, doctor."
Taehyung didn’t exactly know what to expect when Dr. Hajoon said he’d do experiments. He didn’t have much knowledge in “medicine” or “science”; mainly because, whenever he fell sick, he had to take care of himself, taking advantage of the herbs in the area. Sure - this is pretty much medicine, but common people didn’t name things.
So, when Dr. Hajoon starts doing his interviews, Taehyung feels quite… uncomfortable.
He didn’t expect there would be this much talking.
Dr. Hajoon asks many things about Taehyung’s early childhood. Taehyung rarely talks about his younger days because it’s difficult to revive everything (not that his life got better after that). The doctor said that he wanted to know if Taehyung had a possible disease that could have changed something in his body or… whatever scientific nomenclatures. The thing is, Taehyung doesn’t remember many things, and what he does remember is so painful and personal that he preferred to fall silent instead of answering.
Dr. Hajoon had the decency to not pressure him on this matter.
Later, he wanted to know about Taehyung’s mother. Maybe whatever caused his condition was hereditary. However, Taehyung remembers very well that his mother had a birthdate on her wrist. She didn’t live enough to find this person, but she had one. There wasn’t much more research to be done about her - just like Taehyung, she didn’t have a surname. No family, no clan, no history.
The doctor very cautiously asked if Taehyung had any information about his biological father. Dr. Hajoon wasn’t really, really sure yet… but when Taehyung fell utterly silent, Dr. Hajoon decided to change topics.
After the interview session, Dr. Hajoon proceeded to examine him… which also wasn’t very pleasant. Of course, Taehyung knew he and his assistants were all doctors, but showing even a little bit of skin to anyone made him very uncomfortable. Except for his left leg and hip bone, Taehyung was healthy. The examination did not find anything that might help them understand what happened.
"I will not give up," Dr. Hajoon said. "Maybe if we go to the place you were born…"
Taehyung started to think this was all pointless.
In the week that the doctor has been studying him, the Hwang family did all of their best efforts to pretend Taehyung is really part of the family. They went as far as giving Taehyung a room in the main house (Taehyung really, really hated it; he'd rather sleep in the storage room than ever be forced inside that house), buy him better clothes (they had to actually buy clothes, because Taehyung was taller and more muscular than any of the Hwang brothers, none of their clothes fit him). They even registered Taehyung, because Dr. Hajoon said he needed to have a register in order to be formally catalogued.
Their theatrical act was insanely convincing. The oh-so-good Hwang family that accepted this poor cursed boy into their house and that have been taking care of him for all those years. The only one that fails to play the act is Taehyung himself, of course. He chooses to stay silent the entire time he’s forced to sit at the table with them. Not even the glimpse of a smile in his expression.
Despite all of this - and the fact that the doctor’s research seems to be getting nowhere -, Taehyung is quite enjoying his time. Not because he’s being treated like a human being for the first time by the family, but because Dr. Hajoon is a good man. He never treated him differently even though he always knew Taehyung was cursed (the doctor never once referred to it as a curse). His daughter, Jisoo, also seems like a good person. She always stood far from him and they never had conversations up until now; Jisoo was always walking around with a sketchbook. Taehyung saw her drawing constantly. Needless to say, Taehyung found himself looking at her quite a lot. Kim Jisoo has a type of beauty that's rare to find.
Taehyung just doesn’t understand why she avoids his gaze all the time. Maybe she’s different from her father and feels uncomfortable to be around him.
Today, though, they’ll be forced to be close.
“My daughter is a great painter,” Dr. Hajoon explained. “We need some visual reference to complete the report. I’d like her to make a drawing of you… if you allow it, of course.”
Taehyung agreed. He’d like to see himself in a drawing portrait. Usually, only rich people can afford a professional painter to make a portrait of them.
Unexpectedly, when Mrs. Hwang hears this, she personally makes sure to order more clothes for Taehyung - and those clothes are even better than the ones they bought previously. Taehyung knows she didn’t do it with good intentions, though; like everything else, she wants people to see her family with good eyes. She’s terrified of letting people think her perfect family mistreated him for all these years.
So, on the day they agreed, Taehyung washes himself and puts on his new clothes; he had never worn something so refined. He washes and brushes his hair carefully.
When he comes to the living room - where everyone waits for him - the place falls silent.
Kim Jisoo, once again, feels that she lost her breath.
Taehyung is already a remarkable person due to his appearance, even in his everyday simple clothes. Now that he’s tidy and wears elegant clothes…
His tanned skin makes a beautiful contrast with the green attire he wears; the outfit seems to highlight his tall physique and broad shoulders even more. With his hair pushed back, his elegant and strong features are even more apparent.
He looks like a prince.
Jisoo has to gulp.
Mrs. Hwang has to swallow all of her anger. This man looks like royalty much more than any of her sons. He’s a damned fisherman, but he still fits those clothes, he fits the elegance; she can almost picture him in a palace, for his looks simply belong to the concept.
The Hwang brothers quietly hide their jealousy.
Mr. Hwang thinks that he, indeed, looks a lot like his mother.
“We should let the artist do her job, shouldn’t we?” Dr. Hajoon says in a lighthearted tone. “I bet she won’t concentrate if we all stay here.”
They leave. Now, there’s only Jisoo and Taehyung.
The young man looks around sheepishly and awkwardly. “Hm… what exactly do I do…?”
“You can sit on the chair,” Jisoo instructs politely. He does as told. “Please, straighten your posture. You can lift your chin a little bit… Yes, that’s perfect.”
“Just stay like that.”
With ease, Jisoo runs the piece of charcoal over the frame, sketching his face. She has to stare at him a lot, which is a difficult task, for every time she caughts him looking back, she feels her cheeks burn. Jisoo has met other handsome men in her life, but Taehyung… he’s something different. Not arrogant like many wealthy men that asked her hand in marriage. Taehyung is… quiet. Many times awkward… and this makes him look mysterious in a way that had her insides twirling.
Jisoo hasn’t met her pair yet, but she quietly wished that whoever it is, she’d like him to look like Taehyung.
But Jisoo also noticed something more. Up until now, she hasn’t seen Taehyung smile once (and she’s been observing him a lot). There’s a constant shadow of sadness and resignation in his eyes that she hasn’t seen in anyone else.
This makes her heart tighten.
It takes so long that Taehyung starts to feel his body itching.
“You can move now.” She finally says after almost thirty minutes. Taehyung sighs in relief, stretching his back.
“Is it done?” He asks hesitantly, curious.
“No, but I can finish the details without looking at you.” She notices his quiet eagerness. The way he tightens his fingers on his knees.
“Do you… want to see it?”
Of course he does. Taehyung gets up and stands by her side, keeping a very conscious distance from her, and looks at the frame.
His eyes widen.
“Wow. Is it really me?” He asks himself. Jisoo has to chuckle. “You’re very skilled.”
Once again, Jisoo feels warmth on her cheeks. “Thank you. Do you want to sign it?”
“Yes. Usually, when I paint a portrait of someone, I let them sign it.”
He gulps and looks down, avoiding her gaze. For the first time, Jisoo sees a hint of blush on his cheeks and ears.
“I… I don’t know how.” He confesses quietly.
Jisoo herself feels ashamed.
She comes from a wealthy family. Considering society's standards, she was raised in a forward-thinking way. Because she's so used to being around intellectual minds, she sometimes forgets that the reality for most people is very different; they don't have the opportunity to learn reading, literature and culture.
Instead of saying something that would just further embarrass Taehyung - or herself -, she takes the charcoal again and writes something at the corner of the frame.
"This is how to write your name." She points carefully.
Taehyung looks at it.
For the first time, she sees a sparkle in his eyes.
It makes her feel warm and fuzzy inside.
"I could teach you." Jisoo says out of nowhere, causing Taehyung to knit his eyebrows in confusion. "The alphabet. In your spare time. I-I mean, if you want to-"
"I do." Taehyung says quickly.
He opens a lip-tightened little smile and looks at her.
It's the first time Jisoo sees his smile.
"It's very kind of you. Thank you so much." he says.
Once again this day - Jisoo wishes her pair would be someone like him.
It's been over a month since Dr. Hajoon started his research - and, as Taehyung already expected, it led to nothing. His science and medicine couldn't find out why Taehyung's different. He doesn't feel disappointed or sad, though. Deep down, Taehyung knew this would end like this.
Now, at least, Taehyung knows how to read.
Very slowly and he still struggles a lot, of course. His calligraphy is barely readable yet. Sometimes he forgets how to write some letters. There's many complicated words he has to learn. However, he's more than happy that now, when he sees a text, he understands it; it's not just a bunch of symbols anymore.
Kim Jisoo is a great teacher. She was patient all along and more than eager to teach him. Every time she saw his face lit up when he managed to understand a new word, it made her feel like sparkles were building up within her chest. Every time he'd open that small smile - it made her melt.
Taehyung isn't her pair.
However, the more time she spent with him, the more she started thinking that she didn't want her pair to be like Taehyung - she wanted Taehyung to be her pair.
She fell in love.
Jisoo didn't know it was possible - to have feelings for someone that isn't your destined one. Somehow she feels like she's cheating on this person. But she can't help it.
That's why today is a painful day.
Dr. Hajoon decided to finally leave.
He has already said his goodbyes to the Hwang family. He apologized to Taehyung for not giving him the answer he was hoping for. All of their belongings were already inside the carriage.
Jisoo knew it was inappropriate for a single woman to be alone with a man - most of their "classes" were held inside the main house where anyone could walk in anytime (and their proximity made Mrs. Hwang fume with rage). But she needed to talk to him truly alone.
It is very early in the morning when they meet at the top of the hill. The cold wind hit their hairs and the song of waves fills their ears. Taehyung stands in front of her, confused at her sudden request to be alone with him. It made him scared that anyone would get the wrong idea.
"We will be leaving shortly," Jisoo says quietly. Taehyung nods.
"I know." he clears his throat. "I'd like to thank you once again, Lady Jisoo, for everything you've done for me. It truly means so much." That small smile again. Nervousness creeps on her skin. "I think I'll never be able to repay you."
"It's not necessary." She waves her hands. Adrenaline bumps into her system; her heartbeat increases. "B-But there's something you can do to repay me."
Taehyung looks surprised. "Really? Then please tell me, I'do anyt-"
Jisoo's lips crash against his.
Taehyung stands there, completely shocked.
She quickly withdrawals, her entire face red.
Taehyung stares down at her, frozen.
He blinks once.
"W-What?!" he stutters.
"Marry me." she repeats with conviction. "I-If you marry me, Taehyung, you'll be able to leave this place. You'll have a better life."
Things slowly start to make sense in his mind.
"Your father would never let you marry a lower class like me." he says quietly.
"My father likes you. I don't think it'd take a lot to convince him…"
"I am a nobody, Jisoo." his voice has hardened, but not in anger…in sadness and resignation.
"You're not a nobody! You're the most genuine person I've ever known!" her eyes slowly fill with tears. "Life is much more than this beach, Taehyung. If you marry me, you'll have a surname and a comfortable life-"
She quiets down when Taehyung holds her shoulders softly. The way he says her name makes her shiver.
He has a gentle smile on his lips - but the sadness in his eyes is overwhelming.
"Don't do this to yourself." He says, so quiet that the sound of the waves almost swallows her voice.
Don't do this to me, he thinks. Because he knows that whatever feelings Jisoo has for him will disappear as soon as she meets her pair. He knows that what she feels for him is not love and will never be. It's compassion, pity…
And she does not deserve to be tied to a person like that.
"One day, you will meet your person." Taehyung's voice is full of gentleness and raw hurt. The tears in Jisoo's eyes finally fall. "The person that will love you unconditionally, and you will love this person, too. Then, you'll marry this person. Not out of business or just to help me. It'll be because of love. This is what you deserve, Jisoo, and this is what you'll have."
He drops her shoulders and steps back, the smile never leaving his lips.
"Thank you so much, Jisoo. You're the kindest person I've ever known. Thank you for everything you've done for me. I'll never forget you."
Jisoo covers her mouth with her hand, sniffling.
She gulps, nods and bows politely.
When she turns around and walks down the hill, Taehyung knows that he's never meeting her again. It makes his heart ache a little.
The little ache stays within his chest for the rest of the day. Dr. Hajoon finally leaves. Taehyung is back to sleeping inside the tiny storage room (as strange as it is, he's relieved to be out of the main house once again). His life of heavy work and no recognition is back. Wake up, work, sleep, wake up, work, sleep. Being looked down by the villagers, by the Hwang family, having a little bit of sympathy coming from the fishermen he works with - but not enough for them to be close friends.
Just the way it always was and will be for the rest of his life.
As he lays down on the floor to sleep, it starts aching harder.
Jisoo will meet her pair someday.
They're terrible people, but Mr. and Mrs. Hwang are each other's pairs. Destiny made sure to tie two of the worst people together.
Even the awful Minhyun found his pair. Taehyung noticed that, ever since he met the villager, he's been bothering Taehyung less and less. Taehyung knows that he escapes in the middle of the night to meet her. It seems that finding true love made him become more human.
The fishermen have lives just as harsh as Taehyung's, but at the end of the day, they have their person to come home to. To comfort them.
The floor seems colder today.
Taehyung will never have anyone to comfort him.
No one to truly understand him, to hold him when he feels weak, to share life experiences, to laugh with him, to not make him feel that he's useless and that his life is pointless.
And things will be like this for the rest of his days.
Once again, Taehyung wants to cry.
His mother taught him not to cry. Taught him to be tough. Right now, he's tired of being strong and tough. He's tired of relying on himself only.
He's tired of being utterly, deeply alone.
Yet, he also knows that it's pointless to cry for something that can't be changed.
So he sleeps.
Sees his mother in his dream, as usual.
They just stare at each other in the distance tonight in quiet solace.
"Taehyung." Seojoon calls right after they hop off the boat. "You've been coughing too much."
Taehyung instantly gulps, feeling his throat drier than usual. He noticed that as well for quite a few weeks.
"It's because of the winter." Taehyung says. "I always get like this when it's cold."
Seojoon still stares at him with worry. "You should wipe yourself properly when you get home and wear warm clothes."
Taehyung nods, not really paying attention. Seojoon is just worried. He felt like that plenty of times in the past. His chest hurts a little bit when he coughs, but it must not be serious.
"Yes, I know."
Taehyung wakes up in the middle of the night and sits up.
He massages his chest, a scowl on his face. The coughing is getting unbearable at this point. It doesn't matter how much water he drinks, his throat still feels hoarse and his chest still hurts every time he coughs. It seems that the pain spread to his back as well.
He takes one more blanket and lays down again, carefully tugging himself under them. This winter is rough. Tonight must be the coldest night he's ever seen.
He tries to choke down his own coughs, unsuccessfully. Taehyung has to work tomorrow. He can't let this silly coughing bring him down.
He wakes up next morning with someone banging on the door.
Taehyung notices, shocked, that the sun has already made its way up in the sky. How long did he sleep? It's the first time he ever wakes up so late…
He tries to get up, scolding himself for being so imprudent.
Then, he notices he can't get up.
His body is too weak.
He coughs again.
"Taehyung?" Seojoon's worried voice reaches his ears. "Are you okay?"
Taehyung tries to speak but ends up coughing more. His chest hurts so much that he feels he can't breathe; it's as if his lungs simply can't keep the air inside of them anymore.
Taehyung doesn't know how, but Seojon manages to open the door forcefully. He crouches down by his side as Taehyung coughs uncontrollably.
"Oh, Gods. Sit up, Taehyung." he says, putting his hands on Taehyung's shoulders to help him. When he finally sits up, Seojoon taps his back gently a few times. "Take these blankets off, you got a fever. Look at how you're sweating!"
Indeed, Taehyung feels that his clothes are glued to his body, wet with his own sweat. His breathing comes out short and painful.
"W-What time is it-?" he tries to ask, but his voice once more dies in a streak of coughs. He puts his hand over his mouth, feeling his whole body tremble.
"It doesn't matter, Taehyung. You need a proper doctor. This isn't normal." Seojoon says worriedly. "I will talk to Mr. Hwang…"
Taehyung feels a terrible taste on his tongue.
When he looks at his hand again, he - and Seojoon - freezes.
Taehyung doesn’t know how long he’s been like this.
Days have been going through in the blink of an eye. Taehyung doesn’t feel strong enough to get up or to move at all; all he does is sleep, feeling his entire body in sheer pain. He hasn’t been eating properly. Seojoon and his wife have been bringing him food at his door, but most times he doesn’t have enough strength to actually move.
Mr. Hwang didn’t come to see him even once.
Not that Taehyung was expecting a visit anyway… but he thought that, at least now, he’d have a little bit of consideration.
Taehyung has been sick many times. It’s not the first time he has high fever, not the first time he coughs so much that he feels his throat burn, not the first time he actually struggles to breathe. This time, though, he feels that this isn’t as simple as before. The blood coming out of his mouth must not be normal. The way he can’t even move is not normal.
Seojoon also knows it, and his worry only grows day by day. Taehyung is not recovering. He noticed how the young man was getting skinnier and skinnier those last few months, how his coughing just wouldn’t go away. Even though he still checks Taehyung everyday, bringing the meals his wife prepares, there’s nothing else he can do; everyone knows that they must stay away from someone that bleeds as they cough. Seojoon is already risking himself a lot. He can’t put his family in danger.
But he can’t let Taehyung die like that, either.
So, finally, he, Wooshik and a few other fishermen go to the main house to confront Mr. Hwang. Although most of them always kept their distance from Taehyung, they’ve seen him grow up and know him for years. They can’t stand this situation, either.
When the older man walks outside and sees them, he frowns and crosses his arms. They usually never talk to him so directly. “What brings your presence here?”
Seojoon steps closer, leading the group. “Sir, Taehyung is very sick. It’s been two weeks already and he shows no sign of recovery.”
The empty expression in Mr. Hwang’s face doesn’t change. “Taehyung is as healthy as a bull. I’m sure he’ll get better soon.”
“I don’t think that’s the case, sir.” Wooshik says. “He is very, very sick. We’ve never seen him like this before.”
Mr. Hwang stares at them in silence for a few moments.
“And what do you want me to do about it?”
Is this man serious?
“He needs a doctor.” He says sharply. It’s difficult to hide his incredulity right now. “As soon as possible.”
The older man rolls his eyes in annoyance. “Taehyung is an adult man. I’m sure he can take care of himself now. He was under my responsibility as a kid, but that is over.”
The men go silent in utter shock.
They always knew Mr. Hwang wasn’t a selfless or kind person, as much as he pretended to be. But this?
Seojoon knows Taehyung since he was ten years old. He’s not blind or stupid. As Taehyung grew up in front of his eyes, as he lost his child-like features to look more mature, Seojoon’s suspicions just got more and more confirmed. It would certainly go unnoticed by people that didn’t spend time with him long enough, but sometimes, when Seojoon looked at Taehyung at certain angles, when he did certain expressions… he could see the similarities as clear as the blue sky.
Yet, this man is refusing to aid him.
“He is going to die.” Seojoon says, unable to hide his outrage anymore. How disheartened can this man actually be?! “He needs a doctor right now! Will you just let him die like that?!”
“You’re being dramatic.”
“Dramatic? Did you even see how he is right now? Of course not, you never cared about him!” Seojoon explodes.
Mr. Hwang steps closer, his face getting painted with anger. “Mind your next words very well, Seojoon. Did you forget who owns this place?”
For some moments, he indeed forgot. But he quickly remembers that he has a family to take care of and that if he angers Mr. Hwang a bit more, he might kick his family out of the property.
So Seojoon stops and sighs.
“Mr. Hwang.” He starts again, trying to control his voice. “Please. Taehyung won’t recover this time if he doesn’t get any help. What if people find out that he died under your roof? I might not be a cultured man, but I know that Taehyung became quite famous because of the research team from the capital…”
This finally makes Mr. Hwang stop and think.
Not out of sympathy or compassion. No; Seojoon had a point. The research about Taehyung became well-known in high society. It was the reason for many discussions and theories. Obviously, Mr. Hwang also became well-known; not in the way he really wished, but his status increased nevertheless.
It would actually be bad if Taehyung died.
“Fine.” He says after long moments of silence. Seojoon sighs in relief. “But, as you can see, a storm is coming and it’s already too late. I’ll have to contact the doctor tomorrow.”
Mr. Hwang still doesn’t seem to understand how urgent the situation is, but this is better than nothing.
Taehyung just has to wait one more night.
Just one more night.
The storm violently hits the ceiling and walls of the storage room.
Taehyung tightens the blanket around him, shaking. He remembers fixing the holes on the ceiling a few months ago, but it seems that it was useless, for droplets of water are hitting his body everywhere.
In the back of his mind, he knows that the fever is back. He’s shaking and feels way too cold everywhere. The blankets are damp with his own sweat. He should leave the blankets to lower his temperature… but, right now, he can’t.
Another streak of coughs. His chest hurts.
From over the unstoppable storm, he hears someone banging on his door.
“Taehyung!” Seojoon’s voice screams from outside. “Are you awake?”
Taehyung struggles to gulp. “Y-Yes,” he manages to say somehow, voice hoarse and throat aching. Surprisingly, Seojoon hears it.
“A doctor will come to see you tomorrow!” Seojoon says. “He’ll come in the morning, so just hang in there a little bit more, alright?!”
All Taehyung can say is a hmmm this time.
If he wasn’t in such pain and weakness, he would have thanked Seojoon for his concern. Throughout his life, Seojoon was probably the person that was always there for him; albeit quietly, keeping some emotional distance, Seojoon cared for him and Taehyung knew it.
Taehyung is grateful.
He is also grateful for meeting Jisoo, the sweet young woman that went as far as developing affection for him. Did she meet her pair?, he wonders. Is this person treating her well?
He is grateful for his mother. Her gentle, caring hands that always took care of him the best way she could.
He is grateful for every beautiful sunrise he witnessed, how he saw the sun emerging from the horizon and painted the ocean gold more times than he can count. He’s grateful for all the rainbows he witnessed, all the good food he once ate, every time he woke up healthy.
But he’s also tired.
Tired of being looked down on by others. Tired of feeling that his life is empty and pointless. Tired of knowing that he is different. Why is he doomed to live a life of loneliness? Why did he have to be the only person born without a pair? What wrong did he do to deserve this?
Taehyung doesn’t know.
He’s just… tired. His body and soul are tired.
For now, he wants to sleep.
He… he wants to sleep.
He feels deep darkness cloister his thoughts. There’s no more storm outside anymore; no more pain in his body. No more anything.
For the first time, Taehyung walks down the hill to the seashore.
His mother is waiting for him down there as usual. This time, though, she has a smile that’s a mix of sadness and happiness.
Taehyung feels the sand on his bare feet, the cold breeze touching his skin. He feels… peace.
His mother stretches her arm; a quiet invitation.
He, too, smiles and lifts his arm to take her hand-
“You look miserable.”
Reality hits him all over again.
The storm. The dull floor. His aching body, the cold, the fever.
Who- who said that? Is he finally hallucinating-
Then, it hits him.
The shiver running down his spine has nothing to do with the fever. The adrenaline, his instincts begging him to get up and run away as fast as he can, even though his weak body would never let him do it.
The absolute fear he was never able to forget even after eight years.
There’s a man standing in front of him.
When a lightning strikes, making the tiny room glow for a brief second, Taehyung sees it - and he feels that his guts became pure ice.
“I’m glad I came soon enough. You’re virtually dead, kid.” He says in that same tone - as if he’s slightly interested in the situation, slightly entertained by it. Taehyung also notices that it’s been eight years and the man looks exactly the same as that day; he notices how the man called him kid even though, now, he doesn’t look that much older than Taehyung.
Whatever did that to them wasn’t human.
Taehyung shakes. It has nothing to do with his disease. It’s pure fear. He feels the ominous aura exhaling from this man; he feels like he’s being observed by a hungry tiger, ready to attack its prey. Taehyung is the prey.
The man crouches down right in front of him.
“You remember me, don’t you?” He asks in a quiet voice.
Taehyung, once again, feels that he can’t speak or move. However, a name flashes in his mind, just like that day.
The man smiles.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on you ever since that day, Taehyung.” It feels that frost filled his veins as he hears his name fall from the man’s mouth. “It took you a long time to mature, but finally, I feel that you're ready.”
The man narrows his eyes.
“I could save you from this situation.”
For a brief moment, the fear quiets down inside of Taehyung.
What… what does he mean?
The man - Seokjin; for some reason, it’s hard to even think of his name - gets his sudden interest. He intertwines his own fingers, resting his arms over his legs. “See, Taehyung, you have a lot of potential. What you consider a curse might actually be your greatest virtue. Your simplistic human mind surely doesn’t understand it now, but wow… I feel raw power in you. Something I haven’t felt in centuries. If I simply let you die, it would be such a waste of potential.”
Taehyung doesn’t understand anything this man says. Raw power? Potential?
“I can make you become something like me.” Seokjin says. Taehyung shivers at how he said something, not someone. “Eternal youth. Abilities beyond your human imagination. Not to mention my own very fortune… of course, everything comes with a price, so you’ll have to pledge loyalty to me. And I know you might be thinking, hell, I’ll have to work for someone again? But let me be honest, all things considered…” Seokjin looks around and tilts his head in a sarcastic way, “you’ll be way better off with me.”
Taehyung’s heartbeat increases as he stares at the man in silence.
This can’t be real. He must be hallucinating. But… Seokjin’s presence feels very real and looks very real.
“Oh, I forgot to mention that you will stop having feelings at some point,” Seokjin says nonchalantly. “Emotions are something purely human, did you know that? You’ll be freed from all this… suffering.” He smirks once again. “I guess this interests you.”
Taehyung is tired.
It’s painful to wake up every day knowing that he’s the loneliest person in the world and that this will never change. He knows there’s nothing he can do to change this fact - science or faith never helped him.
So, what if he simply stopped feeling?
What if he simply didn’t care that he had no mark on his wrist anymore? A life without worries, without pain?
He just wants all of this to stop.
He is tired.
Taehyung ignores his intelligence yelling that this man is evil, worse than Mr. Hwang, worse than anyone he’s ever met, that maybe working for him might be pure hell. He ignores his instincts that send alarms all throughout his body, making him feel just how dangerous he truly is.
He ignores all of that because he’s tired of being intelligent and he’s tired of being tired.
Taehyung weakly nods in agreement.
“I knew you were a smart kid.”
Then, he sees something that truly scares him.
Seokjin opens his mouth widely and his canine teeth grow out to look like fangs. He proceeds to bite his own wrist - Taehyung’s stomach twirls as he hears the disgusting sound of flesh being ripped out; blood immediately drips down Seokjin’s forearm.
He takes Taehyung’s head with one hand, supporting it. He approaches his other arm from Taehyung’s face - the wrist which was brutally bitten creating a wide wound.
Taehyung doesn’t understand what’s happening, he suddenly wants to give up-
Seokjin forces his wound against Taehyung’s half opened mouth.
“Drink it.” he orders.
Taehyung feels the repulsive taste of warm metallic blood filling his taste buds.
He scowls and whimpers, feeling the immediate need to vomit. Seokjin, however, holds his head too firmly for him to move; he forces Taehyung to swallow it in big, painful gulps.
Nothing changes at first-
It burns his body from his toes to his scalp.
He can’t see or hear or feel anything but the heat.
He's back at the top of the hill.
His mother looks at him from down there at the seashore, as she always is.
Today, though, she's different.
Her expression is shadowed by worry and fear.
Today, she's the one to shout things at Taehyung. But he can't hear her; the sound of the waves is way too loud. Her voice is drowned by them.
She desperately stretches her arms towards him. As if scared for him. As if begging him to stop.
But it's already too late.
Seojoon's wife taps his back softly.
"He didn't even have a proper funeral," he says quietly. "That man didn't even care about paying him his last honors."
She caresses Seojoon's hair. His sadness is so deep that it resonates within her. She herself was never close to the boy, but just like her husband, she saw him growing up. It's painful to see someone so young pass away like this - without having a companion, kids, not even a surname.
"You did everything you could." She says reassuringly.
Seojoon nods… but he could've done more.
Sighing, he gets up. Unfortunately, he has no time to mourn; there's work to be done. He hates the fact that he still has to work for that heartless man after everything, but poor people don't have the right to choose.
As usual, he kisses his wife on the lips before opening the door to leave.
But he stops.
"Darling," he calls, frowning. "Did you leave a vase outside last night?"
"No," she says. "Why would I do such a thing?"
Seojoon looks from side to side.
Stares down at the tall ceramic vase resting just in front of the door. Its interior is hidden by a wooden lid.
Is this a prank?, he asks himself.
Hesitantly, he crouches down in front of the vase and lifts the lid.
Seojoon gasps loudly.
"What is it, darling?" his wife asks from inside the house.
He can't believe his eyes.
It's… it's money.
More money than he's ever seen in his life. The ceramic vase is full of money.
"This must be a prank," Seojoon tells himself, feeling his heartbeat increase. "This must be wrong…"
Then, he notices that atop of all the money, there's a little folded note.
Hesitant - scared - he stretches out his hand and unfolds it.
Seojoon's eyes widen even more. He falls utterly silent.
There's only one sentence written in messy handwriting.
Thank you for everything.
Taehyung doesn't limp anymore.
Master Dyo - Yoongi; that's his real name, but Taehyung was taught to never say any of the Sentinels' names out loud - stands outside of the abandoned church nonchalantly. He crosses his arms and leans on a tree nearby.
"Go ahead," he says, motioning with his head.
Taehyung looks between him and the awkward faceless wooden doll Master Dyo gave him. It's quite a big doll, the size of a toddler perhaps. It was supposed to be a marionette, apparently, judging by its articulated limbs, but there's no strings attached to it.
"What am I supposed to do exactly?" He asks once again.
"You just have to give it an order," Master Dyo says again, starting to get annoyed. Taehyung already noticed that he's short in patience. "Come on, it shouldn't be that hard. Just do it right. Because if you don't succeed at your first task… well, I don't know what the Winter Lord will do to you."
Taehyung feels a shiver.
Winter Lord. That's how they call Seokjin. Just like the Sentinels, he's not allowed to say Seokjin's real name out loud; to know someone's name is to have some sort of control over them. Except that with Seokjin, it's quite the opposite; if he lets you know his name, it means he has control over you. It makes a lot of sense, considering how the Winter Lord craved his own name inside of Taehyung's mind.
As he's beginning to understand, the Winter Lord is one of the commanding forces of the underworld - a hidden society of beings that shouldn't exist in the natural world. Beings like what Taehyung has become.
He stares at the old rotting church once more.
It's dark inside of the abandoned building; he can barely see anything. This makes shivers run up the back of his neck. With Taehyung's new sight, he learned that he's more than capable of seeing things in the dark very well - too much light bothers him, actually.
Which means that whatever's inside that church doesn't like to be seen.
Taehyung exhales and enters.
His each step echoes as he walks slowly, looking around. He sees that the walls are painted black, indicating that once, this place has burned in flames. It's strangely cold. Strangely empty.
Taehyung senses it.
A gigantic force, right behind him.
He turns around in time to protect himself.
At first, he doesn't really understand what he's seeing. It looks like a very thick and dark smoke. Yet, slowly, the shadow takes form… a form that is probably ten meters tall, long and fast like a snake. Four red eyes stare down at him with aggressiveness and bloodthirst that resonates in his bones.
The thing attacks again.
Taehyung jumps to the side out of instinct. It screeches like a hurt animal - a sound so horrible that he feels his guts twirl. His human instincts still echo inside of him, saying that he should escape at the first opportunity.
But he's not a human anymore.
You just have to give it an order, Master Dyo said.
To know someone's name is to have control over them.
Taehyung stands up.
"Tell me your name." He pronounces.
The thing screeches in a challenging way. It's ready to attack again.
No, there's something lacking… not enough confidence. Not enough dominance.
As it launches itself forward one more time, Taehyung says with a quiet - however demanding, bone chilling voice:
"Tell me your name."
The thing stops.
It shakes and contorts itself as if in pain.
Unus, Taehyung hears a deep, distorted voice inside of his head.
"Unus." Taehyung repeats out loud. It contorts itself once again at the sound of its name. "You are sealed."
It screeches painfully one last time. Losing its form, Taehyung watches as the dark smoke gets thinner and thinner, cloistering around the wooden marionette.
Taehyung drops it to the floor.
Nothing changes at first.
Then, slowly, the marionette starts moving, producing a constant noise of wood hitting wood - its articulations. It gets up with restrained movements and looks at Taehyung.
Now, its face has an unnerving smile painted in red.
"My m-master," it says with a much calmer, much smaller voice.
Taehyung hears a whistle.
"That was impressive." Master Dyo says, standing at the church's entrance. "I thought you would struggle more. Now I understand why the Lord chose you."
Taehyung looks at him and frowns. "Can you explain what is this?" he points at the marionette. Master Dyo chuckles.
"A demon, of course." He says as if it's not a big deal. "Not just any lower demon, actually. This one has been killing people for some decades. Started to cause too much trouble. It was about time to seal it." He points at it with his chin. "Now, it's completely under your control."
Taehyung looks down at the marionette once again. "And what do I do with it?"
Master Dyo shrugs. "Many possibilities. It's sealed, so it won't reach its peak power anymore, but it's still quite a powerful demon." He opens smirk that looks very sarcastic. "Congratulations. You have conquered your first servant. You're officially a Sentinel now."
Regardless of his words, Master Dyo still looks very disinterested as he turns around and leaves the building. Taehyung follows him shortly; he can hear Unus moving its tiny legs right behind him.
"Oh, I forgot to mention. Be careful not to say your true name around any servant. This will break the seal and they'll most definitely try to kill you." Because yes, as Taehyung learned, he can die.
"What should I call myself, then?" Taehyung asks himself quietly. Master Dyo keeps silent for some moments.
Taehyung frowns. "Master V? Why V?"
"V is five in roman numbers. You're the fifth of us to join." He shrugs. "Or whatever. I'm shit at names anyway."
It's strange to be called Master when Taehyung has been looked down on his whole life, but he doesn't hate Master Dyo's idea.
"Where are we going now?" He asks.
"The Lord said that if you succeeded, I should take you to meet the other three Sentinels. Stupid little reunion." Master Dyo side-eyes Taehyung. "You don't have to like us, but just so you know: from now on, we're probably the only ones in this world that won't absolutely hate you. Or try to kill you. Unless you meet Master Quattor in a bad mood. Then he'll probably do both."
He's already used to being hated anyway.
It doesn’t take long until everyone knows his name.
The Winter Lord’s fifth Sentinel. Mysterious, no one knows where he came from - but whispers about him flow throughout all of the underworld, a newly transformed vampire so powerful that can bend demons previously judged untamed to his will.
The Lord is never wrong. The power he sensed inside of Taehyung was finally unlocked as he gave up on his humanity - and that potential only increases as Taehyung deepens his knowledge in the dark arts.
Knowing of his raw power, the Winter Lord quickly puts him in a different position; unlike the other Sentinels that usually have a designated area to look out for - to make sure that the Winter Lord’s laws are obeyed with iron fists, to make sure that any of the other Primaries do not dare to take the control out of him, and to guarantee that the Pact is being strictly fulfilled -, Taehyung is sent around the world in search of problematic vampires who break the Pact. He hunts unhinged ones mercilessly. His ruthlessness becomes well-known all throughout the underworld.
Lower demons and chimeras tremble at the sound of his name. Witches observe him from far, afraid that he’ll offer any danger to mankind. He, however, always follows the Winter Lord’s rules; his bloodthirst carefully controlled, Taehyung never feels eager to kill any human unreasonably - being under a Primary’s control keeps him sane.
He becomes a punisher - and his targets can only beg for mercy in the afterlife, for when they realize they’re being hunted by Master V, they know their days are counted.
Taehyung doesn’t need to sleep. His body is never physically tired. However, sometimes, when he tames a particularly powerful demon, his energy is drained and he has to recover. It’s different from sleeping for a human; his brain is fully conscious, he can still hear and feel everything around him and can pull out from his “sleeping” state anytime. He never completely shuts down.
However - and Taehyung truly doesn’t understand how or why -, he still dreams.
Most times he sees his mother, as usual - the only difference is that, now, this dream in particular is much blurrier and confusing than it always was as a human. It’s as if there’s something blocking him, not letting him be there fully.
Other times, though, he travels. Watches people he’s never seen in his life in places he’s never been.
Taehyung realized that those are not simply dreams when, once, he found a target he was hunting as he “slept”. That vampire was particularly skilled at hiding and running away. As soon as he woke up and went to the exact place he dreamed of, he found his target there.
This confused him. He kept it to himself, though. It was better to hide some things from the Lord or the other Sentinels; they weren’t completely trustworthy people.
Tonight, his sleep once again leads him to something unexpected - someone he hasn’t thought of for years, a person that resembles a now distant past. As he sees this situation, he can’t help but get up immediately to take action.
He’ll be forced to, once again, be Taehyung - not Master V.
The scenery hasn’t changed in fifteen years.
The hill, the seashore, the seagulls floating in the air, the fresh and salty air, everything in seemingly tones of grey. Taehyung doesn’t think too much about his past life (even though the memories are very clear in his mind; he never forgot a single day), but being here after so long seems to hit him all at once. The frustration. The powerlessness. The pain, the hunger, the anger…
It makes Taehyung remember once again about the Lord’s words - how he said Taehyung would stop feeling at some point. Indeed, Taehyung feels much more numb than he has ever been as a human; things barely shock or disgust him anymore, not after facing hundreds of demons and witnessing sickening murders by vampires that broke the Pact. He can’t bring himself to feel sympathy for everyone either. However, he can’t deny that the loneliness he carried throughout his life still bothers him.
Master Dyo said it’s because he’s too young. As years go by, he’ll become more and more indifferent.
He really hopes so.
Taehyung didn’t expect this turmoil of emotions to hit him like that as he looks down the hill.
He hears the seller approaching from far. The short man smiles and bows at Taehyung.
“Good morning, Mr. Chanwoo!” He says excitedly. Taehyung forgets for a moment that he goes by Chanwoo now when he interacts with humans. He’s still used to Hyukjae, the name he went by last year. Taehyung bows politely. “I didn’t expect that you’d come so early!”
“I didn’t want to take you off guard. I apologize.” He says in his quiet, soothing voice.
“Oh no, I don’t bother. I must admit… I am more than happy to know that someone finally decided to buy the property. As you see, this land is one of the best in the region! But unfortunately, superstition destroyed its good reputation… no one wanted to buy it after so many rumors spread.”
Taehyung feels a bad taste in his tongue. “Fortunately, I am not superstitious.” The seller chuckles. “Is everyone out of the property already?”
“Well… there’s not many people to leave, actually.” The seller explains, putting his hands on his waist and looking down the hill. “I guess that you’re not from here… the owner of this property used to be a very rich man. But, for unknown reasons, all the people that used to work for him left and he slowly lost his money. That’s why people say the land is cursed.” The short man sighs. “A really unfortunate story. But I’m sure it’s in good hands once again!” He smiles and approaches one step. “If you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Chanwoo, what are your plans with-”
“Unus, make him leave.”
“Yes, M-Master V.”
The marionette which was standing at Taehyung’s feet all the time - invisible to the seller’s eyes - makes a quick movement with its head.
The seller seems to choke on his own words.
He frowns and tilts his head, confused.
With rigid movements, the man turns around and enters his carriage again - not before leaving the scripture of the property in Taehyung’s hands.
Taehyung sighs, relieved that he doesn’t have to hear the man’s voice anymore.
Stares at the main house down there.
“Don’t let anyone approach the house,” he orders quietly. “Don’t follow me.”
Taehyung starts walking down the hill.
He remembers how his hip used to hurt whenever he had to walk up and down this hill many times a day. He recalls that, during one of the examinations, Dr. Hajoon said his hip wound could be taken care of; that he’d limp forever, but at least with the proper treatment, his pains might lessen. He remembers every time he had to walk from village to village under the scorching sun out of pure pettiness just to bring things they didn’t need. Remembers dull floors and humiliation.
The bitter taste in his tongue gets worse.
The houses where fishermen used to leave are all abandoned. As he approaches the main house, he notices how it looks old and rotten compared to its glory days; the painting is slowly peeling out, giving it a lifeless look.
Taehyung enters the house.
A woman - a caregiver, apparently - widens her eyes as she sees him, but with a quick hand movement of his, the woman immediately chokes her own scream and falls to the floor in deep, instant sleep.
He can’t sense anyone else but him.
His steps are slow. The house, indeed, looks even worse on the inside. Most of its expensive decorations are nowhere to be seen. It smells of mold now. His every step makes the wood under his feet creak.
He stops in front of the main room’s door - the room he was never allowed to enter.
Taehyung opens the door and just… watches.
Mr. Hwang lays on the bed with his eyes closed. Just like in Taehyung’s dream, he looks old and decrepit. It’s hard to believe this is the same man that used to rule this region. The man that judged himself as royalty.
His life force is weak and thin.
Taehyung stays there for a long time, his presence barely noticeable. He stands and watches.
Finally, Mr. Hwang opens his eyes. Blinks. Looks around.
Spots Taehyung. The man that supposedly died fifteen years ago - but didn’t age a single day ever since.
Terror and confusion distort the old man’s features. His breathing becomes difficult, his heartbeat increases. He tries to get up, unsuccessfully.
Taehyung just watches him as the man drowns in panic.
“Hello.” He says in his usual quiet, deep voice. It makes Mr. Hwang feels shivers run all throughout his body. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
Mr. Hwang’s breathing shakes. “H-H-How?” Is the only thing he can say.
Taehyung approaches slowly. It seems that the man desperately wants to get up, but Taehyung’s overwhelming aura forces him to stay in place.
“Calm down or you’ll have a heart attack.” Taehyung says in a demanding voice that Mr. Hwang never heard coming from him.. “I won’t hurt you.”
Mr. Hwang gulps and keeps very, very quiet, his eyes widened in panic.
Taehyung still watches him in silence for a few moments.
“You must think this is my mother’s curse.” Taehyung continues. Every word seems to make the bitter taste in his tongue get stronger. “Things are doing bad ever since I left, isn’t it? Your sons abandoned you… the fishermen left… your wife died… you lost your money and reputation. It must’ve been hell for you, isn’t it?”
Taehyung can hear Mr. Hwang’s heartbeat increasing.
He opens a small smile once again.
“But don’t worry, Mr. Hwang. My mother surely didn’t curse you. You did your part, isn’t it? You took care of me for all those years. That’s why this property that has been in the family for three generations will still be in the family’s name.”
Taehyung shows him the scripture.
Mr. Hwang’s eyes widen even more as realization hits him.
“Don’t worry, father. I bought it. Isn’t it great?” The old man starts shaking. “Just as you wished… the fourth generation now owns it.”
Taehyung approaches even more - causing joints of pure fear in Mr. Hwang. His instincts not only sense how he’s face-to-face with one of the deadliest creatures in the world; he feels all the bitterness and hurt and anger and sadness directed to him, sees it in Taehyung’s eyes, sees his angry smile.
“I’ll make sure that this place rots, father. I sure hope to make you proud.”
Mr. Hwang’s eyes fill with tears.
Taehyung can’t bring himself to feel compassion. He feels Mr. Hwang. He knows the old man feels nothing but anger and resignation. Not even a sign of regret or guilt.
That’s why Taehyung gets up and leaves without looking back.
He should feel some sense of triumph or victory. Yet… something like a heavy cloud cloister around his heart, weighing heavily on him.
Something like him shouldn’t feel anything like this anymore.
However, Taehyung can’t help but feel that he, indeed, was never loved - and it hurts him now just as bad as it did when he was a child.
The sun is setting as Taehyung walks slowly towards the cemetery, a bouquet of white lilies in hands.
He barely visits cemeteries. It reminds him of the humanity he left behind. He can’t allow himself to feel any bit of regret for the path he chose - even though, now, Taehyung is nothing like the man he used to be.
And one of the last people in the world that got to know who Taehyung really was just completed her time on Earth.
Taehyung stands in front of Jisoo’s grave.
She lived a long life. Jisoo, indeed, found her pair and had three children with him. Didn’t get married out of business or out of compassion; it was out of love, just like Taehyung expected.
Human’s first reaction is to get sad when someone dear passes away. Taehyung, however, can’t feel anything but gratefulness and immense peace. Jisoo had a happy life. As Taehyung gets older, he understands that humans’ short existence isn’t anything to get saddened for - it’s something to be cherished. It’s such a fleeting and beautiful experience, everyday lived in a type of intensity that Taehyung’s numb heart can’t feel anymore.
If he was still human, he’s sure he wouldn’t have lived as much as her. His life would have been painful since its last day when Taehyung would be finally able to rest. Yet, as Taehyung thinks about it, even the worst emotions have some beauty in them.
He puts the bouquet over her grave and opens a small smile - such a rare sight.
Taehyung can just wish that, wherever Jisoo is, she’s still as happy and beautiful as she was in life.
A vampire doesn’t have physical needs.
They don’t need to eat or drink. With just a little bit of a Primary’s blood, a transformed can have its thirst satisfied for years. Taehyung himself hasn’t tasted a human’s blood in his entire existence as an immortal. Their brains and bodies don’t get tired, so they don’t need to sleep for those reasons.
They can have physical desires, though.
Desires such as lust.
Throughout Taehyung’s life, he never really thought too much about it. He remembers having wishes as a human boy, yet he always ignored them. After all, Taehyung was doomed to be alone; he would never have a partner to fulfill his wishes. Taehyung remembers how people like his own mother were treated for having sex with someone that wasn’t their pair; they were judged as impure, even though his mother - and virtually every other woman in his situation - never really had another choice (prostitutes’ clients, however, never faced such harsh treatment). Because of that, having sex with anyone was out of question. The thought didn’t even cross his mind as years went by and he became more and more numb. He didn’t need it.
It changes one night.
Society all over the world is slowly but surely changing. Of course, most people still tend to judge the ones who don’t wait until they find their pairs - but nowadays, there are some that do not care about waiting anymore and are not ashamed of it.
Taehyung meets someone like that in a bar.
He has a lot of spare time. The Winter Lord does not bother his Sentinels when they’re not doing his deeds, so all of them are free to do whatever they want (sometimes the Lord disappears for months). Taehyung has quite a few hobbies. Most of the time, he reads books and studies new languages - he has mastered ten languages at this point - and has also dedicated himself to better his calligraphy. Taehyung also likes buying houses and properties, sometimes just to reform or rebuild them; he took a liking for architecture. Sometimes he buys a house, reforms it and sells it again. This hobby ended up going too far. Now, Taehyung has some estate agencies around the world (they all have different names under different pseudonyms, so sometimes he gets confused). Taehyung is fairly good at business. He likes to spend his time destroying and building and negotiating things.
Yet, his favorite activity is simply watching people.
He goes to busy streets or squares, sits down and simply watches as people go on about their lives. It’s entertaining to see their expressions and wonder what sorts of hardships they’re going through, how their relationships must be, the emotions they must be feeling. He can spend hours doing it. Vampires can be frighteningly discreet when they want; because of that, Taehyung goes unbothered by others.
Sometimes, he finds people that are more observant, though. They see and sense things other humans wouldn’t.
Like that woman sitting across the bar.
Taehyung has been quietly sitting by the counter observing everyone for around forty minutes, the glass of whiskey on his hands barely a tool to make him less suspicious. The bar is crowded with people; a band plays a cheerful song as a couple of very drunk men lead the singing (they’re yelling more than singing, actually). Most of the people around him sing as well, drinking until their brains malfunction, crying tears of happiness; the war is finally over, after all. The world can once again sigh in relief.
The only person that seemed to really notice Taehyung is that young woman.
She has peeked at him many times already, quickly avoiding his gaze. Taehyung noticed that she has a couple of friends with her, yet she’s the only one that isn’t absurdly drunk. Taehyung noticed the amount of times she passed her hand on her hair and adjusted her clothes.
Not the only beautiful woman in the bar, but the only one that noticed him.
Taehyung decides to finally look back.
The moment their eyes meet, Taehyung hears her heartbeat increasing.
The moment he smirks at her, he thinks that her heart will actually explode.
Taehyung knows the power he has over people - not the ominous aura natural to any vampire that elicits humans’ sense of danger. No; it is Taehyung’s ability to make everyone look at him as he walks by when he wants to, his ability to make people stutter and blush under his gaze. The intimidation. He most times uses his overwhelming presence to terrify and dominate, but sometimes he uses it when he wants something from a human.
It’s sudden, but Taehyung feels that he wants to know how it feels to be physically intimate with someone.
The other Sentinels do it all the time. Perhaps because it’s worth doing.
So, when Taehyung actually gets up from the stool and walks towards her, he knows that he’s going to get what he wants.
It doesn’t take much talking to have her lips against his.
It also doesn’t take much convincing to have her alone with him, locked in the back room.
Taehyung has never felt so much heat spread through his body - he didn’t even know it was possible for an immortal to feel this way. Waves of pleasure hit him as he runs his hands over the woman’s body; so soft, so alluring. He knows that he could break her in the middle if he wanted. He has to be gentle, has to be slow - and this, somehow, only builds more and more anticipation inside of him.
The woman is too eager and wants things quickly. Taehyung has to hold her, making sure that things will go at his pace. She’s not displeased by that. Neither is he.
Taehyung likes control.
Although he has never actually done this, he can control his own body in ways no human man could do; he is patient, takes his time because he wants to do things right. He watches the woman’s reactions every time he touches her or kisses her, impressed at how easy it is to spread fire through her body - fascinated at how humans display their pleasure. He touches her slowly and carefully until she has tears in her eyes and begs for more.
And when he’s finally inside of her, Taehyung quite understands how she feels.
The tightness. The warmth and the wetness. It’s hard to control himself. Yet, again, he moves slowly, careful to not harm her. The sounds of pleasure she makes intoxicates him, motivates him to push further, to go faster. She grabs him as if her life depends on it; she sweats, her skin becomes slippery, he feels her juices around him. It’s fascinating to watch.
Taehyung goes, restless and ruthless, until her moans are higher and she melts in a puddle under him, until he feels that pure lava has filled his veins in an explosion of bliss.
He keeps in place as he watches her recover from her high.
Taehyung notices he doesn’t even know her name.
He has a new favorite hobby now.
Taehyung and the Lord watch as the explosion happens.
They’re around twenty kilometers away from its ground zero, yet they can see the blinding light that seems to create a second sun on the Earth’s surface; seconds later, the sound that would’ve erupted human’s ears; then, the shockwave and the heat that would have melted any living being at that distance.
They stand there and watch in silence.
Taehyung rarely ever feels shocked at anything. This is one of those rare things.
The Lord crosses his arms as they watch the gigantic mushroom cloud rise to the sky, towering over them, making the day become night.
“You see, Taehyung,” he says quietly. The Lord is probably the only person that calls him by his real name. “The things I do are not completely selfish. People think I’m just a soulless megalomaniac, but if I don’t do what I do, if I don’t push and pull the strings from behind… this is what humans do.” He points the explosion with his own chin. “They destroy each other. Mankind is stupid. I hate stupidity.”
“Will you intervene?” Taehyung asks. The Lord said he wouldn’t get involved in any wars anymore. If any of the Primaries decide to start another war, I’ll just let them kill themselves, he said barely sixteen years ago.
The Lord shrugs. “If they ever throw that thing over a real city, there’ll be counter attacks and the whole world will be over. I can’t be at the top of everything if there’s just a bunch of radioactive dust under my feet. So… yes. Unfortunately. I have to put those humans back into their own places.” Everything sounds so easy for him. He looks up at the sky in silence once again. “But… I can’t deny that it’s a beautiful horror show.”
Taehyung doesn’t agree. There’s nothing beautiful about that and what it represents.
He keeps quiet for long, long moments.
“You lied to me.”
The Lord turns his head to look at him slowly.
Taehyung keeps staring ahead.
“When I agreed to be transformed. You said that I’d be devoid of emotions. But it didn’t happen.”
It’s the Lord’s time to go silent.
Taehyung has been keeping it to himself for decades.
He’s been waiting for the moment when his chest won’t hurt anymore. Yes, he became more and more numb as years went by - but that is due to his overextended life, he’s seen so much that there’s nothing he hasn’t experienced yet. He became a cold and collected person. Doesn’t even remember how he used to be before all this.
But the hollow in his chest is still there.
Always has been.
And it bothers him. It bothers him more and more. Bothers him every time he is alone in any of his houses, his company being his servants - tamed demons that hate him with everything they got, but are obligated to obey him. It bothers him every time he’s inside of some stranger, feeling overwhelming pleasure that somehow never truly satisfies him.
It bothers him every time that he looks at his empty wrist and is reminded that he was born to be alone.
The other Sentinels don’t have pairs anymore, either. Quattor himself accepted to be transformed because his pair had just died and he couldn’t bear the pain. Now, he can keep living because he doesn’t feel anything anymore - just like all the others.
Why aren’t things changing for Taehyung after all those years?
“You still dream. Don’t you?” The Lord asks, staring ahead. Taehyung is not caught by surprise. He knows it’s almost impossible to hide anything from the Lord. “Do you know what most dreams are? Basically… it’s the soul leaving the body to travel around.” The Lord smirks sarcastically. “I never had a soul, so I don’t know what a dream is. And the thing is… when someone agrees to be transformed, to give up their humanity… they’re also giving up on their soul. A transformed immortal is a body inhabited by only a spirit, the living force, the fuel… but not a soul, the core itself, what carries feelings and has destiny written on it.”
The Lord finally looks at Taehyung.
“But turns out that you’re special, Taehyung, for your soul never left.”
Taehyung stares back at him - the second time he feels shock fill him, this time more strongly than any hydrogen bomb.
“What?” He finally exclaims. “Why?!”
“I don’t know!” The Lord chuckles and shrugs. Nothing bothers him. Once again, he looks entertained by Taehyung’s astonishment. “But when I heard that there was a person not attached to a string, I was sure that they’d be the most powerful immortal ever created, almost as powerful as a Primary. Don’t you know why you’re so powerful, Taehyung? It’s because of your pain. We are unholy and unnatural beings, fueled by negative emotions. You’re the loneliest soul to ever exist.” The Lord smiles. It makes Taehyung feel a terrible taste in his tongue. “As I said… what you considered a curse was actually your greatest virtue. Indeed, you’ve become the most powerful Sentinel.”
It’s hard and rare to take Taehyung off guard.
Right now, he feels that he can’t react at all. He just stares at the Lord in silence.
“But I have to be honest. I didn’t know your soul would stay.” he says as if defending himself. “This was unexpected, but not unwelcome. Maybe you wouldn’t be as powerful as you are if it didn’t.”
“And why is it?” he asks quietly.
The Lord gazes ahead once again.
“I have a theory.” The mushroom cloud slowly spreads over their heads. Thunders can be heard from far away. “Souls come to Earth in pairs.” The Lord says. “You, however, do not have a pair. So, since your other half hasn’t left - because it doesn’t exist… you’re not allowed to leave, either.”
Taehyung is silent. He feels like he’s out of air - and not because the air isn’t breathable anymore; Taehyung doesn’t need to breathe - but because he realizes that he was fooled all along, that the escape for all of the suffering never existed.
Taehyung is doomed to be alone and suffer alone.
There was never a way out.
Taehyung wishes he could talk to his mother in his dreams.
He wishes she would finally leave the beach, stop looking at him with tears on her face.
He wishes he would have accepted his lonely fate years and years ago. Maybe then, he could have left with her to whatever waits for them on the other side.
But his mother taught him to survive. To bear. Taehyung never forgot that.
So he survives.
There is no point in looking back - not even if he has to bear the unbearable every day.
It happens at night.
Taehyung is in one of his many houses throughout the world - a penthouse at the very top of the city. The metropolis spreads under him as a map of lights and noises. The honks of cars, police sirens, uncountable voices, helicopters… it’s a cacophony of pure life.
“Unus?” Taehyung calls, sitting on the armchair by the glass wall. He loosens the tie around his neck and unbuttons the shirt. After months of negotiations and preparation, it’s finally ready: the SJK Construction & Engineering Company has announced that it’ll be responsible for building one of the most ambitious and luxurious chain of hotels in the world. Taehyung was able to lead a negotiation worth billions. To say he’s proud of himself is an understatement.
Yes, Taehyung takes his hobbies very seriously. Normal people do things like physical exercises or watch movies as hobbies. An immortal with too much free time and a fortune in his pocket builds one of the biggest construction companies in the world just to keep himself busy.
The marionette walks towards Taehyung, the usual clank clank of its wooden articulations echoing in the empty penthouse. “Y-Yes, Master?”
“I felt two lower demons down there on the ground floor.” He says nonchalantly.
“They’re s-s-so weak t-that they haven’t f-felt your presenc-c-c-ce,” Unus remarks.
“Yes. But they can cause trouble nevertheless. Take care of them for me.”
“Y-Y-Yes, Master V.”
Taehyung keeps unbuttoning his shirt. It’s quite funny how the closest thing he has as a friend is a tamed demon. He can’t help but feel some affection for the figure of the ugly marionette. Sometimes, it’s the only thing he interacts with for days on end. Unus isn’t even the most powerful demon under his control, but Taehyung usually brings him around the world.
He stares at the window. Maybe going out tonight is a good idea.
The phone on the center table rings. Taehyung sighs and gets up.
He takes it with his right hand.
If his heart still pumped inside of his chest, it would be beating as fast as it never had before.
If the blood in his veins still rushed, it’d be carrying tons of adrenaline throughout his system.
He feels a shiver. He feels his jaw falling. He feels the phone slipping from his fingers, producing a cracking noise as it hits the cool floor. He feels his vision blur everything except for one thing:
His right wrist.
This can’t be real.
It must be some witch putting a charm on him. No… Unus lifted a protective spell as soon as he arrived. He must be hallucinating. This must be some sick joke one of the Sentinels put on him.
There’s no way this is real.
His right wrist isn’t empty anymore.
There’s a date inked on his skin. It appeared suddenly. He didn’t feel anything. It just appeared.
It marks today. This exact day.
“M-M-Master V?” he vaguely hears Unus uneasy voice ask. “Is-s-s a-anything wrong?”
Taehyung doesn't answer. Doesn’t move.
He just stares at his wrist.
It’s… it’s a date.
Sunlight clears the penthouse.
Unus stares at Taehyung, frightened. Its master hasn’t moved an inch for hours. He hadn’t blinked or even breathed. Did someone put a paralyzing spell on him? No, Unus would have sensed it-
They hear the door unlock.
Finally, Taehyung looks up.
It’s the Lord.
He frowns and walks towards Taehyung slowly. “I felt that there was something wrong with you. Very wrong. You haven't felt something so strong ever since you fought that upper demon years ago.” The Lord tilts his head. “What happened? Were you attacked?”
For the first time in decades, Taehyung is unable to form a sentence. He just stares at the Lord, eyes widened.
The Lord’s frown deepens. He steps even closer and looks at Taehyung’s right wrist.
He, too, freezes.
Unus watches as the two immortals stand in the middle of the room.
Finally, the Lord’s usual smirk grows on his lips.
“You’re definitely the most interesting thing I’ve ever met in my entire existence.” The Lord says. Sarcastically, he pats Taehyung on the shoulder.
“Congratulations. You’re tied to a newborn baby.”
Taehyung isolates himself.
He doesn’t bring any servants with him. Lets all of the business in the CEO’s hands. Doesn’t bring any money, any phones, nothing. He’s been locked inside this cabin in the woods for two weeks.
He wasn’t able to shut his mind for a second.
All he can do is stare at the mark on his wrist.
You’re tied to a newborn baby.
This feels like the definitive prank the Universe decided to put him in. Let him believe he was a lonely soul for all of his existence, force him into becoming an unholy being, making him live decades of a numb, painful and empty life-
Just to reveal that he was never a lonely soul at all.
Taehyung was never cursed.
This is so ridiculously absurd.
He wants to laugh. He wants to punch someone in the face. He wants to throw himself under a truck. He wouldn’t die or feel any pain anyway, but that sounds like something appropriate to do at the moment.
Taehyung doesn’t even know what to feel.
Yet… he can’t suppress the absolute, utter and stupid happinness inside of him.
He was never cursed.
He was never meant to be alone.
The other half of his soul exists.
His thoughts are fast and unstoppable. For a moment, he considered ordering a list of every baby born on the date on his wrist - it’s not hard to get information like that when you’re incredibly rich -, but he was quick to shut this idea down when he realized how creepy it sounded. He immediately wondered what type of person his pair would become. A woman or a man? Where is this person from? How’s their appearance? Would they have something in common? Would they ever accept him?
This last thought makes the harsh and dull truth hit him.
They would never accept him.
Taehyung isn’t a human anymore. The man he once was, that person in desperate need of affection - a kind-hearted man that helped even who didn’t deserve help - doesn’t exist anymore. Although Taehyung’s soul never left, there’s just a shadow of that man inside of him; Taehyung became well-known for being a merciless punisher. He’s a murderer. He’s drowned in dark arts, servant of a soulless being; he exchanged his holy life for power, a subversion of nature.
How could something like him ever be with a human?
No human even deserved to be corrupted by his presence.
In this moment, Taehyung decides that the trick Destiny put on him doesn’t matter. He’s done way too much bad to deserve anything good - and neither his pair, whoever it is, deserves to be put into so much disgrace.
Taehyung decides that he’ll never search for his pair.
It might be painful. It might hurt. But this is what something like him deserves.
Pain has always been a long time annoying friend.
His hobby is not a hobby anymore.
When he decided to make this company around thirty years ago, he was just exercising his likeness for building things. It was also a good distraction from the pain of loneliness.
Now, it distracts him from the pain of keeping away from his pair.
It hurts him more now than it ever did in the past. It doesn’t make sense how he misses someone he has never met so badly.
Working distracts him from that. He’s so serious that SJK Construction & Engineering ranked fourth on the Forbes list of biggest construction companies in the world - three spots up from what it was seven years ago.
Yet, Taehyung can’t feel happy at the news, for today is his pair’s tenth birthday.
He wonders what will show up on their wrist.
Quietly, he wishes that if some sort of higher being exists - the Universe, maybe even God -, it’ll bring his pair some comfort.
Only he knows how much it hurts.
“I don’t like him.” Taehyung complains. “He’s not trustworthy.”
The Lord crosses his arms. “I know. That’s why I’m putting him under your command.”
Once again, Taehyung looks at Ceres from up the hill. The transformed vampire is powerful, sure - but he has broken the Pact more than once in the past. Although he pledged loyalty to the Winter Lord, Taehyung is almost sure he only made it to keep alive for a little bit longer. That man will break the rules as soon as he gets a chance.
“You understand why I’m doing this, right? I need eyes and ears here more than ever. That stupid coven is plotting against me.” As usual, he doesn’t sound all that worried. He never does. “I know their leader is around.”
Taehyung nods. “I know.”
The Lord clasps his hands together lightheartedly. “Anyway. You’re free to kill him if he steps out of line. I need to go now.” He taps Taehyung’s shoulder lightly before entering his car and driving away.
The cold ocean breeze touches his hair softly. A thin drizzle falls over his head. The grass is so tall it reaches his knees.
He hates this place. Taehyung avoids coming here at any given opportunity. He doesn’t have a choice today, though.
As he approaches Ceres, he sees the man immediately straightening his back.
“Master V,” he acknowledges.
“You’re staying here for the time being.” Taehyung says, quick and harsh. “You have to check if the coven does anything suspicious. That’s your only task. Do not interact with humans. Do not go downtown unless I tell you to. Understood?”
“Yes, Master V.” Ceres nods.
“Unus will watch over you.” As Taehyung says its name, Unus is quickly conjured, appearing at his feet. “He’ll tell me if you misbehave. And if you do, Ceres, I’ll kill you without second thought. Am I clear?”
“Yes, Master V.”
Taehyung gives him one last menacing look before turning around and heading to his own car.
When Destiny wants something to happen, it will happen. No matter how hard you try to run away from it.
He steps on the brake so suddenly that the car skids on the street, the tires producing an awful noise as they scrape against the asphalt.
He holds the steering wheel so tightly that his fingers are marked.
He heard a whisper in his head.
A soft cry. A painful whimper.
Someone called his name.
Taehyung has never heard this voice before. He has no idea of how he heard it or who said it. Yet, he feels all of his senses alert. His eyes widened. It’s… it’s almost like…
He has to go back. He doesn’t understand why, he just knows that he has to.
Ignoring the other drivers yelling at him, Taehyung maneuvers the car in the opposite direction, certainly disrespecting some traffic rules to do so. Cars honk at him as he drives way above the speed limit. It doesn’t make any sense, he just feels that he has to go back, he has to go back, he has to-
It’s too late.
A strange pain slashes through him.
The car crashes violently against a light pole.
When people on the street run to help the driver-
There’s no one inside of the car anymore.
Taehyung materializes in front of the place he used to live almost two hundred years ago, the tiny storage room.
What he sees paints his vision red.
Ceres is crouched down on the floor, his teeth sinked into a young woman’s neck. Unus stands by his side powerless; Taehyung didn’t give it permission to restrain Ceres.
And for the briefest moment, Taehyung sees the face of Ceres’ victim.
The vampire drops the young woman’s body to the floor and immediately gets up, his eyes impossibly widened.
“What are you doing?!” Intense fury. It has taken control of Taehyung’s body. It’s so intense that the small wooden structure trembles. Unus whimpers in the corner.
“Master V, I was getting rid of this human-” Ceres says in a weak attempt to keep himself alive, but there’s no going back. Ceres sentenced himself to death.
“You were getting rid?!”
“Master V, please-”
It’s his last words.
With a single blow, Ceres is slashed in the middle. His body falls to the floor and paints the floor red.
“Unus! Conjure a witch! Now!”
“Y-Y-Yes, M-Master V!” the marionette stutters.
Taehyung runs to the young woman’s body lying on the floor, hovering over her.
Her eyes are barely opened. She doesn’t move. Blood spills from her neck nonstop.
It’s- it’s you.
It’s his pair.
It’s the person he has been waiting for his entire life-
And you’re dying.
Taehyung takes you in his arms and materializes in the mansion with a gust of wind. He runs to the bedroom; servants look at him as he runs by, confused. Taehyung lays you on the bed, takes his coat off and immediately presses it against the wounds on your neck, trying to stanch the blood.
Your eyes turn violently; blood spills from your mouth. You’re struggling to breathe. Panic takes control of Taehyung in a way it never had before - not even when he met the Winter Lord for the first time, not even when he faced death himself, not even when he was a kid and realized that his mother was dead and that he had to carry on by himself from now on.
He never felt so much despair.
“UNUS!” Taehyung yells. Even if he materialized inside of a hospital, they wouldn’t be able to take care of the situation in time. Taehyung feels your life force getting weaker and weaker by the second. You need a type of healing that doesn’t exist in hospitals.
“T-The witch is here, M-Master V!”
A woman materializes in the bedroom. She looks confused, then outraged.
“Who dares to conjure me like this?!” The scene in front of her finally sinks in - a human bleeding out, a vampire with a bloody hand over her wound. Her face contorts in anger. “Get away from-”
The witch stops.
Taehyung’s hand is shaking. His voice is so filled with raw fear and despair that she feels it in her guts; it makes goosebumps crawl over her skin.
But that’s not what shocks her.
Tears stream down Taehyung’s face.
“She’s dying! Please, do something! I beg you! Don’t let her die!”
Master V. The fifth Sentinel, the feared punisher. A vampire deemed ruthless and soulless.
This vampire is crying.
He remembers; his mother taught him not to cry. If he’s silent, people won’t notice him, won’t bother him. If he pretends he’s not feeling something, it won’t hurt.
Yet, right now, as his other half is on the verge of death, as he finally met the person meant for him, the person he missed his entire life, the person he waited for, for the first time, he forgets what his mother taught him.
For the first time in two hundred years, Taehyung cries.
taglist! it's the first time i acc add a taglist omg
I was 25 years old, 26 in Korean Age. I had never lived on my own, yet I also hadn’t lived with my parents for ten years. I felt like a distant relative, visiting from a foreign country. I knew how to make gimbap and pulled noodles, only because my grandmother showed me when I stayed with her during my neck recovery. I knew my mother’s favorite flowers were roses and lilies because she had named her daughters as such, but I couldn’t tell you her favorite foods or shoe size.
I often called home and chatted over video with my parents. I often told them what I had been up to, how hard I was working, but they never reciprocated. It wasn’t their daughter’s place to carry the burdens of her parents. Other than the unconditional love of a child for their parents and vice versa, I really didn’t know them very well at all.
“It’s so strange,” I spoke to Jimin over a video chat. “Dad loves having us home so he can speak English and Norwegian again, but we have nothing to talk about. I’m home, but I can’t go out and see things because they’re closed. It feels like four strangers and a poodle locked up in a house.”
“In Busan we can always go hiking or to the beach, what is there to do there in Daejeon?”
“Expo Park and shopping. I’ve done it. It’s done.”
“They have coffee shops, right?”
“The ones that take reservations are expensive and Eomma won’t let me spend that much money. It’s not like Seoul where we can drop our names and get privacy.”
“Then come back to Seoul,” he smirked at me. “I miss you.”
“I may have to. Apparently, my song with Ed Sheeran is doing well and requests for interviews have been coming in.”
“So much for your vacation.”
I stared at him through the screen, trying like hell to feel the way I did before Rose Day. What was wrong with me?
“What’s wrong, Rose? Talk to me.”
“You won’t like what I have to say.”
His eyes fell as his face visibly saddened. “Give it more time.”
“That isn’t your decision.”
He pursed his eyebrows and slowly looked through the screen at me. “Then that’s the consequence of my actions. I’ll have to live with that.”
“No, we both will,” I pouted. I would have loved nothing more than to be having phone sex with him at that moment, talking about the future and how much I loved him, yet all I could see when I looked at him was that damned text.
He suddenly took on a look of determination as he lifted his chin. “If you didn’t care about me, you wouldn’t be trying at all. The fact that you’re trying tells me we still have a connection. At the end of the day, that connection is all we need. I’m confident that we’ll be okay.”
“You’re confident? From my point of view, we need to rebuild the bridge before we attempt to cross it.”
“Do you miss me?” he tilted his head.
“There’s one stone. Every time you miss me, or you smile when you see my picture, add a stone to the bridge. When the time comes for you to cross it, we’ll blow it up so you can never go back.”
I couldn’t help but smile. He always sounded like an old man when he spoke in metaphors, and it was adorable.
“I love you, Rose. I’ll be waiting for you on the other side of the bridge.”
I let out a sharp breath and nodded my head. “Okay.”
“Okay,” he smiled a genuine smile. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Okay,” I smiled back to him. It felt like it had been a really long time since I was able to accomplish that simple thing, but it made him smile even brighter.
Just as I closed my iPad, my door opened, and my mother peeked inside. The look on her face had me worried as I waited to see what she was going to say.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
That was a very good question. Did I have a boyfriend? “Not exactly,” I answered hesitantly.
She looked confused. If I were in her shoes, I’d be confused as well. It was a confusing subject after all, wasn’t it?
“Do you remember my friends from school?”
She nodded her head as she sat on the end of my bed.
“Jimin and TaeHyung are in BTS, NaYeon is in Twice, and Johnny is in NCT.”
“We’ve met all of them.”
“Yes, you have,” I chose my words carefully. “We’ve remained very close all these years.”
“You danced with Jimin last year.”
“Yes. You saw that,” I cringed. Great. My parents saw my sexy dance and subsequent kiss with Jimin on live televisions. Fantastic.
“It was a beautiful dance. I haven’t seen you perform classically since you were in school.”
“Thank you,” my heart felt as though it were about to burst from my mother’s compliment.
“That kiss… was a real kiss.”
“It was,” I burst into a bright grin. “I was surprised when he did it, but it was nice. It took a while, but we finally began dating in March. No one else knows but you, me, Jimin, and our friend Johnny.”
“So, the answer is yes, and you have a boyfriend?”
I bit my lip as I hummed. “Unfortunately, he was so happy to be with me that he forgot to break up with his Japanese girlfriend. So, no…”
“Now he has neither of you,” she growled.
“You are correct,” I nodded. “He’s my best friend in the entire world and I’ve been a mess without him. I just can’t make myself trust him again.”
“You already trust him, or you wouldn’t call him every night.”
I blinked my eyes. My mother was wise beyond her years.
“You need to trust yourself. Stop blaming yourself for something he did.”
“I’m fairly sure that’s exactly what Johnny told me.”
“I like him, he’s smart.”
“He is,” I agreed. “Thank you,” I reached out to hug her. It was the closest we had been since I returned home, and made me extremely happy to be wrapped up in my Mum’s arms.
“You can’t control emotions and feelings,” she whispered against my hair. “Stop trying to control what you cannot. If you love him, just love him. The rest will work out.”
“I love you, Eomma,” I felt my heart relax for the first time in over a month. “Thank you.”
She kissed my hair and rubbed my back. “Are you hungry? I’m making fried chicken.”