House of Cards: Chapter 7 (M)

Taehyung, Reader, Jungkook

Genre: Smut, angst and a little fluff

Warning: Infidelity. Please avoid if this is not for you.

Word count: 4,873 words

A/N: Thanks to my lovely and awesome beta who went through this for me!

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10


This was unbearable.

You’d have thought that in the two weeks following the horrible confrontation with Jungkook, things would either explode or wind down. Neither happened, and you were at the end of your rope with nervousness. Things between you and Jungkook remained like they always were, as if that incident never happened. At least, that was how it seemed at the surface. However, there was palpable tension just beneath the calm, casual facade, and this time you had no doubt that it wasn’t just you. Continue reading

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He Left (M)

2018 Birthday Story for Hoseok!

Hoseok x Reader (ft. Taehyung, Seokjin, Yoongi and Namjoon)

Genre: Japanese period AU, smut, angst & fluff

Word count: 12,362 words

A/N: Credit for the banner art goes to SiChen Wang. Check out their awesome art here! Many thanks to Ana @dangitthatsalongname and Alyssa @wonhoandonly for beta-ing for me!
**Japanese terms used are at the end of the story.**


”We have found a suitable husband for you.”

To anyone else, having their father utter these words will either bring them indescribable joy or unfathomable dread, but I don’t find myself feeling any emotions. Nor can I search for any words other than, “I see. Thank you for letting me know, Father.”

Pretending to be unaware of the concerned stares of my parents, I excuse myself to return to my room. On my table sits a book that is, in my opinion, far more interesting than the news that I will soon be wed. Something is definitely wrong with me. Or so everyone else thinks. Continue reading

Temptation: Chapter 5 (M)

Jungkook x Reader ft. Namjoon

Genre: Werewolf! Jungkook, smut and angst

Word count: 3,915 words

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 (Final)


“I will tell her, just not now.” You could hear Jungkook’s weary voice drifting from the living room through the barely opened door of his bedroom you were in.

Tell me what? Even as the question manifested in your head, you could hear the unknown male saying your name before asking Jungkook another one outside, “Don’t you think it’s unfair of you to keep it from her?”

You knew Jungkook was keeping something from you, but it was now clear that this person knew it as well. More importantly, he knew exactly what Jungkook was keeping from you. Anger at being the subject of discussion when you had no idea what was going on yourself overcame you, prompting you to throw the door open and burst out through your sore throat, “Keep what from me?” Continue reading

What You Never Had: Chapter 7

Reader x Jin, Namjoon, Jimin, Jungkook

Genres: Royalty AU, fluff and angst

Word count: 3,566 words

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |


“There you are! Where have you been?”

Your breath caught, and your mind raced to find an excuse, any excuse to get yourself out of this sticky situation. The reasoning that you’d carefully crafted earlier in case this exact thing happened seemed to have hitched up its skirts and ran towards the hills at the sight of Namjoon outside the door to your chambers, because you could not for the life of you remember it now. Ji Eun peeked from behind your eldest brother, her eyes wide with panic and you felt sorry for putting her in this position. She was clearly trying her best to cover for you but it didn’t seem like Namjoon was entirely convinced.

Trying to take as much time as possible to reach him, which wasn’t much, was futile as he was striding over to get to you. When he got closer, you could see signs of fatigue — there were dark circles under his eyes, his normally neatly combed hair was less than tidy, like he’d ran his fingers through the dark locks more than once, and when he arrived at your side, his pat on your shoulder was a tad harder than necessary. You could feel his tired weight under the normally gentle hand that tapped you before he wrapped his arm around your shoulder. Your eldest brother looked frazzled and exhausted, yet there was only concern for you in his knitted brows as he asked, “where did you go? Ji Eun said you went for a walk, of all things.”

Inwardly thanking Ji Eun for her help and your wisdom in not donning on her dress this time, you suppressed a sigh of relief at being reminded of the excuse you’d thought out earlier. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought a walk might tire me out.”

Having possibly a thousand things to worry about over the country didn’t deter Namjoon from taking interest in whatever was on his sister’s mind. “Was there any particular reason you can’t sleep?” He asked as he steered you towards the direction of your chambers.

The last thing you wanted to do was add to the list of things that Namjoon had on his mind, so you shrugged nonchalantly and told him, “just restless, I suppose. Thinking of this and that, but nothing of real importance.”

Namjoon’s shoulders relaxed as he readily accepted your reasoning. “I apologise for bothering you at this time of night, but I didn’t manage to catch you earlier today, and I’m afraid I may be too busy tomorrow.”

“It’s no matter! I’d be glad to see you any time, Namjoon,” you said with a smile, and when he returned it, the lines accumulated from stress on his face disappeared. Truly, as was known to all castle staff, the princess was a balm for Namjoon’s weariness. “Is there a reason for your visit?”

“Yes.” At your reminder, Namjoon’s tone turned brisk. “A while back, you raised a concern about jobless people in the capital, remember?”

How could you forget? It was the day you met Jin. He had rescued you from some thugs when you got tangled in their quest to collect money from Ki Joon, a jobless man who had inherited debt and had sunk deeper into the bottomless pit of financial hell. The occasion happened when you sneaked out of the castle to experience life as a commoner, so you couldn’t reveal all the details to Namjoon, but you’d made sure to voice your concern about the matter. Even though the capital prospered for the most part, underneath the surface were people like Ki Joon who found it difficult to secure work, making them easy prey for loan sharks. The troubles your country was facing at the borders was perhaps a little too far and detached from you to be able to help with, but this problem close to home was something you should be able to give a hand in solving.

“I was thinking of a way for people in need of work to meet employers who are looking for help. Since you mentioned that sometimes the problem is that people with a set of skills just don’t have the opportunity to meet people who need those abilities,” he started, and your eyes lit up at the subject matter. It had been a while since you brought it up, so you were pleasantly surprised to find out that he’d kept his promise to look into it. Nodding enthusiastically, you encouraged him to continue. “I’ve made plans to open the City Hall in a few days so the jobless can come and give their names with some details on the sort of work they’re capable of doing. With these information, I’ve brought together a group of businessmen with wide connections to help find suitable jobs for them.” You were standing at the door to your rooms now, leaning your back against the frame as you absorbed his suggestion. After finishing his explanation he paused to scratch his head with uncertainty before asking, “what do you think?”

His hair was even more ruffled when he brought his hand down and you tried not to giggle at the sight. Thankfully most of the inhabitants of the castle had turned in, otherwise they might have been surprised at the less than composed Crown Prince that they were used to. Even Ji Eun had retreated into the chambers, but you knew you could trust her to keep any information that fell into her ears and eyes to herself. You also knew for a fact that she adored your brothers and wouldn’t utter a word against them. “I think it’s a brilliant idea!” You gushed excitedly, not because you wanted to reassure him, although there was that too, but you honestly thought that it was an excellent solution.

Lips curving into a radiant smile that showed off his dimples to their fullest extent, he melted your heart. You were sure that this wasn’t the only issue he was dealing with, but you were glad that at least one thing was going well for him. “Since you seem to be invested in this, what do you think of going to the City Hall with the others? That way you can see that everything is handled well first-hand.”

Again, you nodded in agreement. A weight that you didn’t even know was there felt like it was lifted when you were able to lighten Namjoon’s load, even if it wasn’t much. Then a sudden idea flashed inside your head, and you immediately voiced it out. There was never a reason to stop you from sharing what was on your mind with your eldest brother when it came to things like this. You and Namjoon had always been deeply interested in the country’s affairs, and always eager to hear each other out, be it right or wrong. Neither of you were the type to judge. If you didn’t agree, you’d have a debate over it, and when you were wrong, the other could always gently make you see your mistakes without making you feel small or stupid. As the Crown Prince, Namjoon’s words carried more weight than yours, but many of the actions implemented came from his discussions with you, and some were even your suggestions. He had always given you credit where it was due. So over the years, others had slowly, some even begrudgingly, acknowledged your wisdom despite your young age. It was also why the King, just as proud of his daughter as he was of his two sons, never had a doubt about allowing you to attend lessons with your brothers — he had seen your potential and intelligence early on.

“How about bringing some food and supplies for them as well?” You suggested. “Since they don’t have jobs, I imagine many of them must be needy. Perhaps we can make it known for others who need help as well.”

“That’s a good idea,” he said softly, rubbing his chin as he thought about it. “I’ll talk to Jimin tomorrow and see if he can ready them in time.”

“That sounds good.” You smiled.

“It’s pretty late now, so I should let you catch some sleep,” he said, straightening up as he prepared to leave, but not before you sternly reminded him to take care of himself.

“Make sure you get some sleep as well,” you frowned to make yourself look as admonishing as possible. “You look like a dead man walking. You can’t do things efficiently without proper rest.”

“Look at me, being scolded by my baby sister. I will definitely rest before the court sees the Crown Prince being yelled at by the young princess,” he grinned, then bade you goodnight.

The next few days were busy ones as you coordinated with Jimin to ready everything for the day. He suggested that you get another guard to look after you. Jin’s injury wasn’t very serious, but you’d really like him to make a complete recovery before getting on his feet again, so you agreed to have Jungkook, one of the castle guards who frequently acted as part of the Royal Escort, watch over you on that day. Jimin raised an eyebrow at your lack of complaint.

“Don’t think he’s too young to be your guard?” He asked.

The question had you bewildered for a moment before you remembered that you’d kicked up quite a fuss the day that you found out that Jin was to be your Royal Guard. However, that wasn’t because you lacked confidence in him due to his age. It was because you’d been hiding your identity as the princess from him then. There was no such concern with Jungkook, who was younger than Jin but already knew who you were. You shrugged. “My Royal Guard seems to be adept at keeping me safe, so I trust that he will be able to do the same.”

Jin’s absence was felt as soon as you set off for the City Hall, but you didn’t complain, not even to Ji Eun. You wondered if Jin put up a protest to your decision to go past the castle walls without him, but you didn’t want to risk sneaking out at night to see him again just so you could talk to him about it. Given that Namjoon was busy all day, he might have chosen to call upon you at night again, and you doubted that the taking a walk excuse would work a second time.

Thankfully the thought of Jin was pushed to the back of your mind soon after you arrived. The large building was already bustling with activity when you stepped in. Long tables had been set up and several people sat behind them, equipped with paper and writing utensils so they could take down the information given to them. Several dozen people had turned up, some to give their names while other less fortunate citizens came hoping to receive some form of donation. Word had certainly gone pretty far; you knew that announcements had been made in the more populated areas in the capital, and you were pleasantly surprised to find that it had spread to surrounding towns where there were more people struggling to make ends meet.

It seemed that the information collectors already had a system going, so to avoid disrupting it, you decided to assist the swamped team of volunteers handing out food and supplies to the needy. Your presence greatly lifted everyone’s spirits; many thanked you for coming and for organising this for their sake, although you told them that this was Namjoon’s idea. Still, you were happy to be given the opportunity to talk to people you’d normally have no chance to converse with. You used the opening to ask them about their daily lives, allowing yourself to feel good over the praises showered upon your father and brothers over the way they governed the country, but you tried to focus on any problems that needed attention.

“There’s rarely trouble in the city, Your Highness,” a middle-aged man informed you after he’d received a small bag of sugar. “But some supplies and materials have been hard to come by this year. It has been difficult to replenish my stock of sugar for my business.”

“What sort of supplies, other than sugar?” You asked him, my brows furrowed in concern. It had to be serious if people were feeling the difference.

“Mostly things that are made or grown in the border towns and villages,” he answered you helpfully. “Although medicine and other supplies brought by traders have also become scarce.”

With careful practise that you’d been trained to do over the years, you stopped yourself from scowling at the little nugget of information. It seemed that the trouble near the borders were more serious than you thought. It was probably the reason why the King and your brothers were so busy. You told the man as such. “I will make sure they hear of this regardless,” you reassured the man, accepting his heartfelt gratitude with a smile. Soon more people showed up and the assembled group became too small for the overwhelming response, and you’d rather blend in instead of being the center of attention due to your title. So when you received word that more sustenance had arrived, you readily got up to carry them into the hall to escape the stream of praises and adoration.

By the time you’d carried the third box filled with salt and sugar, you were already out of breath. The bags of rice were being heaved inside by the men, which was good because you doubted you could even pick them up. The good news was there was definitely enough food and supplies so that no one had to go home empty handed. You were just reaching out for one of the last boxes when you saw a familiar figure figure standing not too far away, observing the activities before darting into the opposite alley. Almost as if you were in a trance, you withdrew yourself from the others. None of the workers questioned you; to be fair, most of them were preoccupied, trying to move stuff at the fastest speed they could manage.

Unpleasant, frightening memories flashed inside your mind as your feet hit the cobblestone street. It had been the first time you’d braved, perhaps brashly, the world beyond the castle walls. No one knew who you were then, which you’d planned to use to your advantage. However, things went awry when you jumped in to help a young man named Ki Joon from some ruffians who were after him for the money he owed them. The only thing that kept the incident from being completely traumatising for you was the fact that it was also the first time you’d met Jin. He was your literal knight, without the shining armour, saving you from being assaulted by the gang leader.

Who was the same man you’d spied watching the goings-on at the City Hall with a dark look on his face before striding away. His steps were filled with purpose, while yours were cautious and quiet. Belatedly you’d realised that you had wandered off without any protection; Jungkook was hauling rice bags indoors, carrying more at one time than any of the other men with his muscular arms and hadn’t come back out when you took off. Obviously as there were many people around you he didn’t think anything bad would have happened within the small window of time and he certainly didn’t expect that you’d go off on your own. It wasn’t as if you planned to do so. However, when you saw the man whose face was imprinted in your memory, you couldn’t stop yourself from following to see what he was up to. It was too much of a coincidence for him to turn up at the City Hall, at this particular time. Before you could think twice, you’d gone off without getting an escort to accompany you.

It was definitely a bad idea, you knew that, but you couldn’t give up now. So the best you could do was try to be as careful as possible and keep yourself safe from any harm. Therefore you followed him at a distance, taking care to tread quietly although your steps didn’t make any sound against the stones, only flitting out into an alley when he’d rounded a corner so he couldn’t see you.

Luckily, you didn’t have to venture far before the man stopped. On the other hand, it was not so fortunate that the reason he did so was so that he could talk to two other men — neither of whom looked very friendly to you. They were both big, muscular men — one burlier than the other — the assembly bringing to your mind a group of menacing gorillas. Although you didn’t know either of these newcomers, one thing about them stood out to you; their clothes. Not the type of clothes the people of your country typically wore, but you’d seen it before. A style on characters just as unsavoury as the gang leader you were spying on now. The type of clothing the two men who’d attempted to kidnap a child from an orphanage when you were visiting before wore.

You’d been told after the kidnappers had been questioned that they were pirates. Were these two pirates as well? What were they doing with the gang leader? They seemed to be on friendly terms. Perhaps friendly was too objective a term, but at least they weren’t hostile to each other. Sadly, your hiding spot behind the corner was too far to hear the contents of their conversation, however you knew that trying to get closer would be foolish to the extreme. So you stayed put, fuming and grumbling to yourself.

Their discussion didn’t last long; if anything, it was more of a short chat to come to a decision, and once it was made, all three men nodded their agreement and moved to shift to another location. You were back on high alert, ready to track them again, but before you could take one step forward, a strong hand gripped your upper arm from behind, causing you to whirl around.

Barely able to suppress a scream of shock and panic, you frowned when you saw who it was. “Jungkook!” You hissed, thanking the heavens that you’d managed to stop yourself from making your presence and Jungkook’s known to the shady characters you were following.

“Your Highness! What are you doing, going off on your own?” Jungkook scowled, not bothering to keep his voice down. As far as he was concerned, there was no reason for him to do so. Alarmed, you twisted your torso to glimpse behind you, but the men had already disappeared from sight. A little relief seeped into you; if they’d found out that you had been following them, the consequences wouldn’t have been very pretty.

“I have to go. There were some men who might be criminals,” you tried to explain to Jungkook, but his hold on you tightened even more at your words.

“Are you out of your mind?” It was clear that he was struggling to keep his voice cool and respectful, but he couldn’t stop the incredulity from colouring his choice of words. “You were following some dangerous men? What if something happened to you?”

He had every reason to chastise you, but you didn’t regret your choice of action. “There was no time to call you. I’m sorry.”

The apology took Jungkook by surprise, and you could see his features soften before he nodded. “We should head back. Whoever it was, they’re gone now.”

Regretfully you looked back at the alleyway the men had disappeared from, but you relented. Even if Jungkook was with you, he was only one man. You were a woman, with no weapon that you could use to defend yourself with. There was a high probability that wherever the men were going, they would be joined by a bigger group. You couldn’t put yourself and Jungkook in danger. So you reluctantly agreed and allowed him to lead you back to the City Hall.

Without noticing, you had followed the thug quite a distance from the building. The frantic dash away from it, following the man’s bigger steps had felt like it had taken no time at all, but the walk back was long for you. A million thoughts ran through your head, and you mindlessly let Jungkook pull you along like a farmer guiding a cow on the field as you immersed yourself in them. Who were those men? Were they in cahoots with the local loan sharks? Why was that thug observing the city hall earlier? It was all too weird to be a coincidence, and your instinct told you that it couldn’t be anything good.

There was not much to be done now as you didn’t know where they were headed. You were more than just a little concerned about it though, and made a mental reminder to yourself to talk to Namjoon about it as soon as you could. Even though your rationale was telling you to go to the Crown Prince, the face in your mind was of the man who’d gained your complete trust in the shortest amount of time; Kim Seokjin.

 

Breeze 2 | Summer Song

Jimin x Reader

Genre: High school AU, fluff

Word count: 2,215 words

Part 1: Laugh Away

A/N: This fic is inspired by YUI’s Summer Song. I really love the song and the video, and as it has two parts, this is a two-shot!


“Oh come on, you have to teach me before the test, or I’ll fail for sure!” From the edges of your consciousness, you can hear the panicked pleas of one your friends begging the smartest in your group to tutor her for the upcoming tests. Numerous students pass by you to enter the school, the racket of friends greeting each other and chatting threatening to drown the words of your own pals.

Not that you care very much, to be honest. Even though your eyes are trained on the movements of the moving pink lips in front of you to give the impression that you’re following the conversation, you’re really looking at the street leading to the school from the corner of your eyes. The school bell will ring soon. Almost like clockwork, you can see Jimin furiously pedaling his way towards the building. It’s hard to control the laughter that is fighting its way out of your mouth as you watch him swerve dangerously into the space designated to park the students’ bicycles.

Looks like he made it today too, you think to yourself just as the bell rings and a teacher summons the loitering pupils into their respective classes. Ever since the day you met him at the park in spring, you can’t help but seek Jimin out whenever you’re in school. It’s the start of summer now, which has given you plenty of time to figure out that he always arrives just in time before the school bell rings. Somehow he has the timing down to science, because you have never seen him late before. Still, you keep on watching him, every day without fail.

You tell yourself that it’s simply because you find it amusing. However, you can’t deny that Jimin is extremely good-looking. Why haven’t you noticed it before? Maybe it’s because he’s so quiet, managing to keep a low profile for so long that he doesn’t stand out and others rarely talk about him. You find that you don’t mind him being a little anonymous— you like that you can keep him all to yourself, as selfish as that sounds.

Hours of having knowledge and information drilled into you pass by slowly. Bottom lip snagged between your teeth, the tip of your pen tapping against your notebook, you try to pay attention to what the teachers are saying. Without your noticing, the school hours inch by. Yet when the final bell rings, you remain in class, organising your thoughts as you do your books. Summer holidays is upon you, which means you won’t be seeing Jimin for a while. The idea makes you sadder than you expected. Although you can’t have stayed more than twenty minutes after school ends, the class and even the hallway outside is mostly quiet by the time you head out from the room.

And almost right into Jimin. A gasp sits on top of your lips, but you manage to hold it in. Slowly you feel your wide eyes shrink to their normal size as you get over your shock and register the uncertainty in his posture. At first he looks surprised, just like you, but his gaze shifts down almost immediately. His teeth abuses his plump lower lip and his hands wrestle each other nervously.

“Hi, Jimin,” you unconsciously greet him in a softer voice than your normal enthusiastic manner. Heart beating a little faster due to the fact that he materialised just after you thought about him and that he looks like a nervous animal. Jittery enough that you’re afraid if you spook him, he may just turn and run into a forest.

“Hi,” his response is even softer than yours, then continues at a speed that almost has you taking a step back. “During the holidays I was thinking of maybe going to the beach and taking pictures, you know, I’m sure the weather would be nice and warm, it’s starting to get warm and the contrast of colours would look gorgeous—”

It’s clear that he’s starting to babble, and a bubble of laughter escapes you. Jimin never fails to make you smile. “I think that’s a great idea,” you tell him with a grin even though you feel a little wistful on the inside. He already has plans for the holidays while you have nothing else in mind other than finishing off your summer homework. However, even after you’ve reassured him, he still looks on edge. Perhaps even more than before. Sensing that he’s not quite finished, you wait patiently for him to form the words you can practically see on the tip his tongue.

“I— I was—” Expectancy risen, you try not to show your impatience when he chokes a little between words. “I was thinking that maybe you’d like to join me?”

“Oh!” Warmth like hot chocolate spreading through your body overcomes you with pleasant surprise at his invitation. “Are you sure? I don’t want to get in your way.”

Eager nods of his head like an excited puppy gets you exhilarated as well. “If you don’t mind, perhaps you can model for me as well?”

“Me?” Sure, there was that time that he took your picture laying down among the fallen sakura flowers, but you’ve seen more of his pictures since then. Along the course of getting closer to Jimin, you’ve noticed that he rarely takes photos of people. Jimin loves sceneries and he has a way of capturing them perfectly. Every photo evokes an emotion. A beautiful view. A lake that makes you feel calm and serene. Pictures with vibrant colours taken at angles that make you beam with joy at the brilliance. So you’re surprised that he wants to take more photos of you.

Unsure as you are, his definitive and resounding “yes,” coupled with your own desire to spend more time with him makes it an easy decision for you. Deciding on a time and place to meet on your way to the bicycle stand, you treasure the time with him until you have to part ways to head to your own homes.

A yelp that is a cross between panic and delight tears from your lips a few days later when the strong ocean breeze threatens to blow your straw sun hat off your head. Amused laughter drifts from behind; a most beautiful tinkling sound over the lapping waves of the sea, but you turn around to frown at the source.

“Why do you have to wear such a huge hat?” Jimin manages to gasp between chuckles that you find cute despite trying to be mad at him. “I can hardly see your face.”

You want to retort, but instead you tilt your chin up haughtily and say, “your camera is about to fall off.”

It isn’t, but you’re successful in making him stop cackling to frantically check on his precious device. The little back and forth is soon forgotten as you enjoy the beach in his company. There are other people around, enjoying the beach and seeking to bathe in the pleasant sun just as much as the salty sea, but as you look on at Jimin, you find yourself trapped in your own world with him. This is actually the first time you’ve seen him in action with his camera, and it amazes you. Watching him in his element is a marvel. The normally quiet, shy Jimin exudes confidence, enthusiastic yet calm as he snaps photo after photo, even authoritative when he wants you in the shot, telling you to stay put or take on a pose that he thinks is best for the picture he’s taking. According to him, the light, just like the weather, is perfect for taking photos. There’s still ample amount of sunlight to illuminate the scenery, but the afternoon sun is not directly overhead, which would cast you in shadows. You feel giddy when he compliments you on your choice of clothing as well; a pretty white dress that flows beautifully with the breeze, matching your brimmed white straw hat.

However, it’s only when he declares that he has snapped enough photos to satisfy him that you find an opportunity to talk to him properly. Still, as you find yourself sitting next to him on the sand that is so light it’s almost translucent, you get tongue-tied. It isn’t very surprising, as it took days between that last day of school and meeting him today to admit your feelings to yourself and decide what to do about it. You have to ask him soon though, and you take one, two, several deep breaths to muster the courage.

“Jimin?” You call his name, catching his attention. It’s hard to meet his gaze when he turns his head around to see you, but you keep your eyes on his determinedly. “There’s a festival going on near the shrine and a fireworks show tomorrow night. It’s going to be really pretty, although I know you’ve probably seen them before, but I was thinking maybe you’d like to see them with me. Of course, I’d understand if you say no, if you don’t like crowds it’s probably a bad idea, I mean—”

Before you know it, you’ve started babbling at a rapid-fire speed just like Jimin did a few days ago when he asked you to accompany him to the beach. And his response is just the same as yours was. “Me?!” He asks incredulously. Your cheeks flushing, you nod bashfully.

Large amounts of people wanting to watch the fireworks display is a concern for you, but the next night, you’re left confused. Standing before you is Jimin, looking unexpectedly handsome in casual tight black jeans and a red and black flannel shirt. Another white shirt sits underneath the unbuttoned outer one, and you find butterflies in your stomach as you wonder how dashing he would look in a tuxedo. However, next to him is a bicycle.

As the open field where other people are heading to to watch the fireworks is only a few minutes’ walk away, you’re a little flummoxed by the two-wheeled vehicle. Especially after shyly complimenting you on your appearance that you spent over an hour to perfect, he motions for you to get on. “Is it safe?” You ask, although you’re already turning to sit sideways behind Jimin’s seat.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” he reassures you, swinging his leg over the bicycle and looking back to make sure you’re properly seated. “Just hold on tight and I’ll make sure you won’t fall.”

Then you’re off. Not towards the field, but up a hill. Your hands grip the sides of his shirt, excitedly, giddily. The ascent isn’t very steep, but still you’re impressed that Jimin can cycle both of you on his bicycle at this angle without running out of breath. He’s clearly fitter than you thought, and you wonder what else is there to Jimin that you don’t know yet. In no time you’re at the top of the hill, where there is a small playground for kids to play in. After parking his bicycle next to a tree, he climbs the jungle gym while you look on from below.

Before you can attempt to join him, he stops and takes in your yukata. Without a word, he jumps off so he can grab you by the waist and lift you up. The intimate contact makes blood rush to your cheeks, but you relish it even as you make your way up the structure in your summer kimono. Jimin takes a seat next to you at the top, and looks out at the black, inky sky. It’s empty except for the tiny pinpricks of stars shining from light years away.

“Can we see the fireworks from here?” You ask, having guessed the reason he brought you to the top of the hill. The heat is practically radiating off of him from where your shoulder is just brushing his arm, but you try not to let it distract you too much.

“We’ll have the best view.” Just as he answers you, the first one sets off, as if eager to prove that he is right. You’d like to reply, but the explosions go off one after another, making conversation nearly impossible. So you settle for enjoying them, watching the tiny bits of light disperse to make different-coloured bursts of fireworks, their brilliance eclipsing the stars for a while.

A part of you wonders if Jimin is loving the show as much as you are, but when you turn to look at him, you find that his eyes are already on you. Various shades of colours illuminate his gorgeous face, the lights never in one spot at a time, never the same colour, but the way he looks makes your heart beat faster all the same. His lips part, mouth forming words but you can’t catch them, and frustration builds inside you as they drown in the loud bangs of the fireworks.

“What?” You shout, the question concise and easy to make out from the shape of your mouth even without the aid of the actual sound of the word. Jimin leans in and whispers in your ear the one question you’ve only fantasised the past week about him asking.

“Will you go out with me?”

Race Against Time: Chapter 6

Jungkook feat. Reader and BTS

Genre: Angst, Thriller, Darkfic

Warning: This fic is about murder cases, and may include some graphic imagery. Please read with caution.

Word Count: 3,128 words

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

~•~•~•~

No. No. No.

That two-letter word repeats itself over and over in his head like an ominous mantra as he throws open each and every door. As he expected, they’re all devoid of you, yet his heart still grows heavier and heavier as he moves from one room to the next and the little hope he has of finding you grows dimmer. Calling out your name is useless, he knows that, but he shouts for you anyway.

Breathless, he bursts into his living room to find Namjoon, Hoseok and Jin surrounding Ga-In’s lifeless body. Yoongi is lounging on the three-seater sofa, looking like he’s had the wind knocked out of him, yet still appearing like he’s at home. Which is probably exactly how he feels. Again Jungkook realises with a pang that he doesn’t know enough about your daily routine outside the time you spend with him as much as he should. That he should have taken more interest in the people he holds most dear. Well, now is his chance to make sure that it isn’t too late. At least when it comes to you.

He didn’t know Ga-In very well. Truthfully he only remembers seeing her in passing during her occasional visits to the house to see you. Still, the sight of someone he knows personally in this state makes him a little sick. It’s all he can do not to imagine you like that, or worse, as he knows how the second victims of the pairs tend to turn out. To try and distract himself, he tries to focus on the bouquet of white lilies that have been tenderly placed in her left arm. The white petals seem serene and beautiful in an otherworldly way, and certainly out of place between Hoseok’s hands, which are almost inappropriately brimming with life. While Namjoon is carefully examining the state of the body with his gloved hands, Jin is staring at her face with a mildly disgusted expression.

“I wish he’d stop stuffing their mouths,” he grumbles, and Jungkook immediately understands the reason behind his disgruntled face. Without waiting for instructions, Jin pries her mouth open with care. Feeling even more ill at the sight, Jungkook looks away until Jin has fished the content inside her mouth and placed it in his gloved hand.

“What is it?” Jungkook knows that he has to focus on deciphering the clues if he wants any chance of seeing you again. Still, his eyes refuse to look at the girl lying on the floor, unconsciously working extra hard to look solely at the small insect in Jin’s palm. Which is just as well, as it is a very small specimen — the larva can’t have been any longer than one centimeter.

“Another larva?” After encountering them in some of the recent cases, Jungkook is quick to catch on. Jin nods his confirmation.

“Megaselia scalaris, or phorid fly.” With a small shudder, he slides the larva into a small translucent bag. Jungkook remembers Namjoon’s remark wondering why Jin chose his current field of expertise considering how squeamish he is, but doesn’t comment on it. Instead, Jungkook motions for the zoologist to go on. “It’s also known as ‘coffin fly’, since they’re found in coffins,” Jin pauses, tilting his head as if to remember something. “If I’m not mistaken, this fly is the species found the most in mausoleums. They prefer nectar, but they’re omnivorous, which means they also feed on plants, and—” he stops again to look up at Jungkook as he drops the last bit of information, “corpses.”

“That explains these, doesn’t it?” Before Hoseok, who is crouching next to the body, can say anything, Jungkook nods at the white flowers in her stiff arm. “Aren’t lilies flowers people usually bring to funerals?”

His rhetorical question is met with Hoseok’s eager nods. “They symbolise purity. The soul’s radiance. One of the top choices for funerals, and for a good reason. They suggest that the deceased’s soul has become peaceful and innocent again.”

Unlike the times before, Jungkook can already see a theme, and he doesn’t like where it’s going. Finally bracing himself to look at the long, sword-like leaf resting against Ga-In’s hair, the dark green out of place among her short black locks, he asks Hoseok, “I’m guessing that came from a plant near cemeteries?” It doesn’t escape his notice that the diamond earrings gracing her ears are the very same ones that he bought you when he proposed, but he can’t bring himself to say anything about it. Although it feels like his stomach has disappeared with anxiousness and dread, he has a sneaking suspicion that addressing anything related to you now will cause him to heave everything from his empty stomach onto the carpeted floor.

“Old cemeteries, actually,” Hoseok confirms his suspicions. Momentarily distracted by Namjoon, who is making a call to one of the teams still at the forest, he makes a sound between a sigh and a hum before continuing. “The eternity plant,” his grin is more of a wince at the unfortunate name in regards to the deaths that have led them up to this point, “or yucca plant. They can live for hundreds of years. The flowers are usually pale in colour, so when they bloom in clusters, they can look like floating apparitions.” A shiver runs from the bottom of Hoseok’s spine up to his neck, making him shudder and shake his head at the imagery. “Anyhow, some people grow this plant near headstones, or actually use it to mark a grave when they can’t afford one. It’s pretty useful to find the location of an unmarked grave.”

Just as the facts start to sink in, the men are startled by a loud clap as Yoongi slaps his thighs and stands up from the sofa. “Well, that about sums it up, doesn’t it? I think it’s pretty clear where we’re supposed to go.”

Jungkook nods his agreement at the older man, leading the way out of the house into his car. Yoongi, the person most anxious to find you after Jungkook, slips into the passenger seat next to him, while the other three men pile into the back seat of the sedan without complaint. “Do you know where we’re going?” Namjoon asks breathlessly as Jungkook speeds off the driveway onto the road, making the subsequent turns without any hesitation. Next to him, Yoongi has his gaze fixed on the road before him, brows furrowed yet steely-eyed. A look that is mirrored on Jungkook’s own face. This time, Jin is the one on the line with the police forces, hanging onto every word Jungkook and Namjoon are saying and taking notes on the direction they’re heading towards so he can relay the information to the other teams. Hoseok’s normally bubbling energy is now being directed towards his long fingers, drumming them anxiously over and over the door handle as his eyes rove over the passing landscape.

“I got a message from y/n late this morning, and she was with the victim then,” he deliberately omits the presence of the third person there. His existence there is something that Jungkook can’t even admit to himself yet, so how can he tell the others? “So the victim was still alive then.” For all he knows, you may have fallen victim as well by now, but he can’t bring himself to think of the possibility. He just can’t.

“The body was still pretty fresh,” Namjoon agrees with his assessment.

“Even if the killer made his move right after she sent the message, he still took the time to clean and dress the victim as he did before.” The killer. Jungkook also has a name for him now, but it’s one that his lips refuse to form. “That means he can’t have more than a few hours’ head start.” Tires screeching against the road interrupts Jungkook’s reasoning, but he continues right after as Namjoon and the others work to get themselves upright again after the sharp turn. “Also, remember that the killer sets the second girls so that they can survive for a while.” The killer also sets the time so that each one has less and less time to survive as he progresses, but Jungkook doesn’t mention that fact. Neither do the others, although there is no doubt that it’s weighing on each of their minds. “Taking all that into account, he doesn’t have much time left to get her to his destination of choice. Which is why it has to be this cemetery.” The passengers are almost thrown forwards with the sudden deceleration as Jungkook brings the car to a complete stop.

“Why this one?” Jin interjects.

“The others are all more than an hours’ drive away,” Jungkook answers as he slams the door shut. He has parked the car on the western side of the cemetery, where the older graves are. As to whether it can be categorised as ‘old’ is something he isn’t very sure of, but he is convinced that this is the right location. Yet he can’t see any plants that Hoseok described earlier. As far as he can see, all the graves are marked with headstones of various sizes, all covered with moss and other signs of age. Frustrated, he turns his sights up to the surrounding trees. Horrific images sneak their way into his mind. You being tied to a tree. Or worse, hanging off of one.

“I can’t see her anywhere.” Sweat covers Yoongi’s face, already tired and etched with barely restrained anger. “There aren’t any places to hide here, either.”

Loud beating of his heart in his ears has been distracting him, but somehow a thought occurs to Jungkook through the noise in his head, and suddenly the pounding stops. Feeling like his head is finally clear, Jungkook dashes off towards the other end of the cemetery. The others rush after him without question. Ignoring his lungs screaming for oxygen, he turns to Hoseok even as he runs. “You said that yucca plants are used in place of headstones, and can be used to find unmarked graves, right?”

“Yeah, but there aren’t any here,” Hoseok pants as he tries to keep up with Jungkook’s almost inhuman pace. “Maybe we’re in the wrong place after all.”

“No,” Jungkook replies with conviction. “Think about it. What if it’s a clue to the exact location?” At the blank face that greets his question, he elaborates. “What if the actual location is an unmarked grave?”

Realisation dawns on the others as they stop to look around the plot of land. The graves are newer here on the other side of the burial ground, all marked, but nothing seems to be out of place. His blood is boiling with weeks of pent up frustration and anger, now topped off with his fear for your life. “JIMIN!” Jungkook roars the name of his childhood friend as his emotions finally get the best of him.

“So you figured it out at last.” Jimin’s voice is cold if a little gleeful, and nothing like the sweet tones that Jungkook has come to associate with his friend over the years. He turns to see Jimin stepping out from behind a tree only a few feet away from him. They have been that close all along.

A hurricane of emotions swarms Jungkook, threatening to drown him, and he can’t keep the little tremble in his voice. “Where is she?” Without thinking, he’s drawn his gun on Jimin. His heart sinks at the fact that he has been forced to think of someone who used to be so close to him as a criminal.

“She’s still alive, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Jimin’s expression is closed off, unreadable. Having the nozzle of Jungkook’s weapon pointed towards his face doesn’t seem to faze him, only serving to make sorrow flash past his eyes. “Although who knows how long she will remain that way.”

“Look.” Following Jin’s frightened whisper, Jungkook tilts his gaze down to the ground by Jimin’s feet. The earth is fresh; a recently backfilled grave. Very recent. Oxygen seems to be refusing to enter his body, and Jungkook fights to hide his struggle to breathe. You have been buried alive.

He can hear Namjoon calling for shovels. More words exchanged between the others, more movement as they spring into action. However, his focus is solely on Jimin, who is unperturbed by the disturbance. Even with everything laid out in front of him, Jungkook refuses to swallow reality. “Did you do this? Did— did you really kill all these girls?”

Jimin’s response is a bone-chilling smile that speaks volumes.

“Why?” Jungkook’s question is almost a wail of sadness and puzzlement.

“Finally, I have your attention,” he says, leaning against the tree trunk with the tips of his shoes on the grave before him. An unspoken order not to touch. Who knows what he would do if they tried to approach the grave? A thousand possibilities whirl in Jungkook’s head, each of them making him more fearful for your life. “We were so close. The two of us. Even after y/n moved here, we were still as close as ever. I like her. I was happy for you two. Always supportive. Even if the two of you got married, I thought we’d always be friends.”

Keeping his hands steady on his gun is all Jungkook is capable of doing as Jimin continues. “But then you left. Both of you. Still, I told myself, ‘They’re only leaving for a while. They’re leaving to study, to train and work for their dreams. They’re just busy, that’s why they haven’t been calling me much. When they come back, everything will be as they were before.'”

“Do you know how much I suffered while you were gone?” Jimin’s eyes bulge as he asks the question, but he doesn’t wait for Jungkook to answer. “Do you care that I was bullied after you abandoned me? Or do you prefer to ignore it, pretend that you didn’t see me?”

“I didn’t know.” Little does Jungkook expect to be pacifying the killer that has terrorised the people in the city for so long. Little does he know that this all happened because of him. Hatred towards himself after setting the fire to the wooden cabin earlier is nothing compared to the disgust that he is feeling for himself now. It’s a feeling that Jimin shares, if his sarcastic laughter is any indication.

“You didn’t know? So when you saw me being dragged away by those bullies in the park, not even long before you graduated from the academy, what was that, then? Maybe you really didn’t see me, huh? Have I become invisible to you?”

If he was asked this before the murders, Jungkook may have had to rack his brain trying to recall, but not now. He painfully remembers the place where they found the third victim, the only place he doesn’t recognise as a hangout where he and Jimin used to spend their time when they were younger. A memory of Jimin being surrounded by other youths, mostly bigger than he was, comes back to Jungkook. Truthfully, he found it odd, but as he was in a hurry that day, he chalked it up to Jimin making new friends and simply neglected to ask him about it afterwards. It’s hardly an excuse, and Jungkook’s guilt weighs too heavily upon him now to say a word in his own defense.

“I became a mess because of you, Jungkook. I became afraid, too scared to talk to anyone. Now I can’t even get a decent job because of my social anxiety,” Jimin laughs again, although if it’s at Jungkook or at himself remains unclear. “And I used to get better grades than you!”

With a shake of his head, Jimin’s demeanour changes completely. Now sober and rueful, he brings his tale to a close. “You became so busy chasing after criminals, going after fame. Don’t people matter to you anymore? Doesn’t y/n?” He scoffs derisively at his painful conclusion. “What about now, huh? What becomes of the star detective, Jeon Jungkook, with a trail of dead girls behind him? Maybe now you’ll understand what it feels to be a failure. Maybe now you’ll remember my existence.”

Guilty and broken-hearted as he is, Jungkook can’t stop fighting. Not now. Not when your life is on the line. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but think about y/n. She kept in touch with you. Made the time for you. I know she invites you over our house sometimes. Please, spare her at least,” he begs.

For the first time, Jungkook sees the regret in Jimin’s eyes just before he lowers his head. “I never meant to kill her. I like her a lot, and unlike you, she’s a good friend to me. I was hoping that you’d figure things out sooner than this. That you’d stop me and things would turn out okay. But you didn’t. And I couldn’t stop.” When Jimin looks up again, tear streaks marring his cheeks, his own voice becoming softer as the shouts of men grow closer. The other teams are closing in on them now, ordering Jimin to surrender. He makes no move to run or resist his arrest, only keeping his pained gaze on Jungkook, who looks sorrowfully back at him. “Now it’s too late.”

Although the amount of men pointing their guns at Jimin should be more than enough to make any man buckle, Jimin doesn’t slow the slightest concern. Nor does he resist arrest. The sight of his childhood friend being carted off without a fight leaves Jungkook immobile, but not for long. Frantic movements of Hoseok and Yoongi, armed with shovels to unearth your grave prompts him to join in the action. He grabs a shovel that one of the backups brought and attacks the grave with panicked desperation.

Thankfully it’s quite shallow, only about two feet in depth and soon the wooden surface of the roughly made coffin makes an appearance. In the end, he has to rely on the others’ help to open the lid, as his hands are shaking too much to be of any use.

Relief floods his system when it’s finally open, and he is greeted by you. Dazed, barely on the brink of consciousness, but alive. He can breathe once again, and it feels like his first inhales of air is of your scent. The tears that wet your shoulder are of long-awaited comfort, of unspeakable guilt, of deep misery. At long last, he has stopped the horrific string of murders. However, a part of him wishes that he’d never uncovered the hideous truth.

House of Cards: Chapter 6 (M)

Taehyung x Reader x Jungkook

Genre: Angst and smut

Warnings: Infidelity. Please do not read if it’s not for you.

Word count: 3,921 words

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10


“Jungkook, there’s something I need to tell you about me and Taehyung.”

You hated how you sounded to your own ears. A weak, stuttering mess. Wasn’t your mind already made up? Didn’t you have a reason for everything that you said and did? So why were you so afraid to tell him the truth? Continue reading

Better than Nostalgia

Jungkook x Reader

Genre: Fluff

Word count: 917 words


I’d barely heard the sound of the front door being opened before Jungkook’s chirpy voice resounded throughout the house, calling for me.

“So why did you ask me to come?” He said loudly into the air by way of greeting, and I dashed to the entrance of the kitchen before he found me there on his own and ventured inside.

“Go and sit,” I shooed him towards the dining area. His eyebrows hitched up just as his mouth opened in wonder at what I was doing, but he kept on walking towards the direction he was being pushed towards without any complaint. Satisfied that he wasn’t going to peek when I heard the scraping of a chair on the marble floor outside, I returned to the kitchen. Giving the simmering contents on the stove a few last stirs, I turned it off and reached for kitchen towels to protect me from the heat as I lifted the pot by its handles.

Jungkook’s comical wide-eyed, mouth agape look was still in place as I brought it out and set it on a large coaster on the dining table. Without any explanation, I turned and mysteriously returned to the kitchen. When I made it back to him, I found him smacking his lips once, twice, thrice in an exaggerated tasting action. My eyes shifted down to the bowl I’d set on the table before he arrived. It seemed like he’d decided to serve himself. My own bowl, placed at the seating opposite his, had been filled as well. I tried not to giggle. Jungkook was so childish sometimes.

“It’s a little sweet,” he commented as soon as he saw me.

“That’s why I made these,” I said with a roll of my eyes, placing a plate stacked with freshly baked buns next to the pot. The lightly sweetened bun was meant to balance out the gentle sweetness of the soup. “You’re the one who couldn’t wait to dig in.”

Jungkook ignored my gentle rebuke, opting to reach for a soft bun to dip into the soup instead. The combination of hot liquid coating the fluffy bun made him hum in satisfaction. “What brought this about?” He finally managed to ask after devouring his second bun.

“Remember when we went to Gottenheim and had breakfast at that little cafe?”

“Mmhmm,” his answer was muffled by the ridiculous amount of food in his mouth, but his rapid nods conveyed to me his enthusiasm. It was the first and only time he’d raved about soup. I agreed wholeheartedly with his opinion; the vegetable soup was sublime. He even had thirds. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure when he’d stop if the two of us didn’t have to rush for our train. Unfortunately the time constraint meant that I never had the opportunity to ask for a recipe.

“Someone gave me the recipe for this and I thought I’d try it,” I explained. The only thing I’d known about the best soup I’d ever had was that it was vegetable soup. I had no idea what was in it. What vegetable was used. The delicious food came to my mind once in a while, but I’d thought that without any idea what ingredients was used to make it, trying to look for a recipe online was useless, so I’d put it aside. However, when a friend brought up the vegetable soup that she’d made over the weekend, I found myself asking for the recipe.

However, it was clear that this was not the same soup that we’d had in Germany before. A clear sign was that the one in front of me now was a pretty light green colour, while the one we’d had was brownish orange in hue. The taste was, without a doubt, different as well, far from the slightly spicy, wildly flavourful one that Jungkook loved. “I know it doesn’t taste the same, but…” I paused. There was really nothing to say. “I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry for?” The incredulity of Jungkook’s question was magnified by the bits of pastry flying from his mouth. I shrugged. For some reason, I felt sorry. Perhaps I should have made for myself first instead of springing the first trial on him. Although it wasn’t like I raised his hopes up or anything, since he didn’t even know what I was making before he came.

Even though his mouth was busy munching, I could hardly miss the pursing of Jungkook’s lips as he got lost in his thoughts. They were probably the same ones running through my head, because when he opened it again, it was to ask, “What’s in it?”

“Broccoli, celery, some potatoes, whipped cream,” I listed some of the main ingredients in the soup.

“No wonder it’s green,” he remarked.

“Yeah,” I agreed dejectedly, but he shook his head, perhaps correctly interpreting the reason for the downcast look on my face.

“It looks pretty.”

“It doesn’t taste as good as the one you liked so much,” I said simply.

He responded by lightly kicking my leg under the table. “It tastes different.” He took another mouthful, as if gauging the taste again. “Actually, I think it tastes even better than the one I remember.”

Those words, patronising to my ears, made me scoff and frown. “Don’t lie to me. Why would this taste better than the best soup you’ve ever had?” Jungkook grinned, finishing what was in his bowl and reached for the ladle for a second helping.

“Because you made it.”

 

Temptation: Chapter 4 (M)

Jungkook x Reader

Genre: Werewolf! Jungkook, smut

Warnings: Dom! Jungkook, toys, bondage, overstimulation

Word count: 3,968 words

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 (Final)


A massage right now would be priceless, in your opinion. There was a lot of work to do, but that was a good thing in your book. The project you were in charge of was going well. In fact, you were writing up a report on it now. That wasn’t the only thing keeping you happy, though. The smile that was constantly, though unconsciously, on your face was brought by the man shut in the office opposite you. Continue reading

Silent Guardian (M)

Taehyung x Reader

Genre: Beast! Taehyung, fluff, angst and smut

Warnings: Violence, rough sex

Word count: 10,047 words

~•~•~•~

All my life they told me never to go into this forest. There are many wild animals inside. Predators that will kill a human without a second of hesitation. Poisonous plants that will extinguish your flame of life in an instant after being ingested. Dense growth that will confuse and throw away your sense of direction should you venture into their depths.

The most fearful of all is the beast. Since I was little I have been told never to go inside the forest where the most fearsome beast lives. When I asked what makes this beast so terrifying, I was met with many different answers. A savage being of the likes never seen before that will murder in the most grotesque way without thinking twice. A wild animal with cruel, yellow eyes, more cunning than any other predator. A merciless, hairy beast so ugly it must have been dragged from the deepest depths of hell. There are so many versions of this beast that I have no idea which one is true. Maybe all of them are. Perhaps none of them are. There is no way of knowing for as far as I know, no one has ever entered the forest before.

Any doubts I may have had have been quickly swiped aside whenever I brought it up. However, it never made me stop wondering. If the beast really is that powerful, why doesn’t it attack anyone in the surrounding villages? If it loves human meat so much and is cleverer than most people, why has there never been a complaint about lost people or even livestock? Our village is right at the edge of the forest. Why the villagers haven’t packed up and leave if they are so scared is beyond me. Perhaps it is one of those things where it leaves you alone as long as you leave it alone, I guess. I am skeptical, but I have never had a reason to actually find out the truth for myself.

Until now.

It’s funny when I think about it. One of the main reasons I have never stepped foot into this forest is because my father and brother forbade me to. My father actually preferred to travel further away to get the necessary plants to use in his medicine making, and even after he passed away, I have continued buying and searching elsewhere for the materials I need. Now here I am, finding that it is this easy to go against their orders just because the plant I need to cure Jungkook’s fever cannot be found anywhere else.

My little brother cannot possibly blame me for this. He was reckless enough to go about gallivanting past the border into the neighbouring country, bringing back an obscure illness a mere fortnight before he is meant to arrive at the capital to start his training as a soldier. Thanks to the copious volumes of medical treatise I have inherited from our father, I managed to recognise the symptoms despite never having encountered it before. Unfortunately one of the vital ingredients for the medicine to cure Jungkook lies in that forest, and there is no other substitute for it.

Even though it is approaching late morning and the sun has climbed a considerable height in the landscape of the blue sky, the leafy trees growing close together lend the scene before me a mysterious, dark aura, forbidding me from getting a better look into its depths. Armed with a bag, a blade and a deep, calming breath, I take the first step into the unknown of over two decades of my life.

Being the daughter of an apothecary, I am no stranger to foraging for rare herbs and plants that we don’t grow in our garden or are not sold. It isn’t my first time venturing into the woods and although nothing looks out of place at first glance, it isn’t long after I am enveloped by its growth that I start to notice an unsettling abnormality.

No matter the time of the day or season of the year, the woods is always a symphony of tranquil sounds. The brush of a lizard scampering up a tree, the rustle of animals against the wild growth, the chipper of birds overhead, perhaps the soft tinkling of running water in the distance. It is never as loud as the villages and towns where people dwell, but the forest croons a quiet song of its own. However, now it’s too quiet. I’ve been careful not to wander too far, following a path that is easy for me to retrace, but I’m far enough within the trees to feel unsettled by the lack of sounds that indicate the presence of life around me. The only noice I hear is twigs breaking and leaves rustling underneath my feet, clumsy compared to animals despite years of experience in the woods, the only movement I can see are made by my own limbs as I look out for the plant that I need.

In an attempt to rid of the nervousness that is starting to envelop me, I tilt my head towards the heavens. The canopy of the old wood is dense, but here and there light from the sun shines through the leaves, gracing my face with warmth that helps alleviate my worries a little. Steeling my resolve, I push myself onwards, my eyes scanning the surroundings for the plant that I require. Or rather, the oak tree that I’ve read the necessary plant normally grows around.

That’s not all I’m looking out for though. Even though I cannot see or hear anything else but myself, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being watched. Most of my focus is on my primary goal, but part of my mind can’t help but wonder what it is. If it has no interest in me, it would have moved on by now. But I’ve been feeling this way since not long after I stepped foot in its territory. If it has interest in me, it has to be a predator. Yet it hasn’t jumped out to attack me. Perhaps it is the beast. However, I would be no match for it, so why can’t I see any movement or hear anything suspicious? Why hasn’t it gone for its prey, if that is what I am? The limited possibilities I can think of stumps me, so the best I can do is keep a tight grip of the blade in my hand, hoping that in case anything happens it can at least buy me some time to escape.

Thankfully I find what I need to make Jungkook’s medicine soon enough. Eager to prepare the remedy before his fever gets worse, I hurry home in one piece. The sight of my little brother wheezing on the mattress wrenches at my chest, and I set to work mixing the ingredients immediately, working well into the night, forgetting to eat as I always do when I’m too immersed in a task.

It has to be close to midnight when I finally coax Jungkook to gulp down the medicine I made for him with a cup of water before I collapse on my own bed. Exhausted as I am, I can’t seem to fall asleep. I suppose as far as it goes, today was an anticlimactic day, considering the fact that I’ve finally ventured into the place I never thought I’d set foot in, expecting to see the infamous beast and possibly not make it out with my life.

I’m glad to be alive, of course. Yet there is something that keeps nagging at me. There’s something more in that forest, something to do with the abnormal silence, something to do with those mysterious gaze I felt upon me that lasted until I made it back to my village, perhaps even after that, until I’m out of sight of those trees. My gut feeling tells me that there is more than meets the eye. A secret that lurks in the woods, although I have no idea if it is meant for discovery or if it is better left unknown. Countless thoughts swim around in my head, and I have no idea at what point of night it is when I finally drift off to sleep.

Such thoughts have no place in the next few days as I busy myself with nursing Jungkook back to health while getting the necessities for his upcoming trip ready and tending to patients that drop by our house. I’m relieved to find that the cure I made him is working well and fast, giving him enough time to recover and rest before his journey. As the day for his departure approaches, I start to have mixed feelings — sadness that my only living relative is leaving, excitement at the prospect of exploring that forest again and guilt over letting my curiosity overshadow Jungkook’s departure.

“Don’t worry about me and just take care of yourself, all right?” Jungkook requests, driving another wedge of gloom into the pile of sadness that has been welling up again since the moment I woke up on the morning of his departure. “I’ll send you money as often as I can.”

I scoff at his offer. “And what am I going to spend the money on? You should use the money on yourself at the capital. I’ll be fine on my own.” I want him to enjoy himself fully whenever he has time for himself, even if it’s not a lot. Besides, what I said is true. There is no point in getting anything fancy or glamorous when I’m living in a small village on the outskirts of the country, and the money I earn by treating patients and selling the medicine I’ve concocted is more than enough to support myself.

As if he’s read my mind, he quips, “If you buy some beautiful earrings you might actually look decent for once.” Guffawing, he expertly dodges my well-aimed jabs and rustles the top of my head.

“Just when I was about to say ‘come home when you can’,” I mumble irritatedly as I whack his hand away.

“I’ll visit as soon as I can.” He sobers up, although we both know the opportunity to do so will not come by often or anytime soon.

I nod, intending to wave him off before I do something as silly as burst into tears, but he suddenly pulls me into a bear hug. “I’ll miss you, silly sis.”

“I’ll miss you too, idiot brother,” I choke out, burying my face in his chest as I hug him fiercely back. Who knows when I will see him again, but he is going to serve the country and I’m proud of him.

There is a bout of flu going around, although nothing as bad as what Jungkook had, so after he leaves I have my hands full with the villagers that come by. A part of me is disappointed that I can’t go off exploring again today but I push it away, treating the patients with the same care served with a smile like I always do. By the time I wave the last of them off it is already late in the afternoon, so I decide to get some rest in preparation for an early day tomorrow.

With a meal packed neatly inside my bag and my trusty dagger, I head out into the woods again. Once again the place falls unnaturally silent, this time perhaps even sooner than the first time I came, or perhaps I’ve already been expecting it. I tell myself that the trip is simply to discover what other treasures lay inside that I may be able to collect for my medicine, but when my eyes wander among the trees I’m actually looking for a movement instead of stationary herbs and plants. Without noticing, the sun has already climbed up high in the sky, illuminating patches of light on my skin and when I finally realise that I’ve been dawdling around without being mindful of my position, I have no idea where I am.

Internally scolding myself for being careless, I turn around on the spot, uselessly attempting to determine my location even though I know that it won’t be successful. To get lost among the tall sturdy trunks and numerous undergrowth is all too easy but once it has happened, it isn’t a simple task to get out. Everything starts to look the same especially in a panicked state, and no matter how much I walk, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been going around in pointless circles.

Now distracted with the task of finding my way home, it’s only when my stomach starts to rumble with an unpleasant stab that I remember that I haven’t had anything to eat. Dejected, I give in to my hunger pangs, deciding to eat the food I’ve prepared early this morning before I set off before walking again. As I sit on the ground, munching on some sustenance, my gaze wander around the expanse of the forest before I take a look upwards and feel my heart dropping to my stomach. I can’t believe that I’ve roamed about this long. The descent of the sun is accompanied by the dip in temperature, and I will be in trouble if I don’t find a way out soon. Sure, I haven’t seen any other living creature the whole time I’ve been here, which is strange in itself, but who knows what will come out once the darkness descends?

My lower lip starts to quiver in anxiousness and the funny feeling I haven’t managed to figure out since the first time I entered the forest grows along with the intuitive suspicion that I am, again, being watched. Forcing myself to focus on anything that may be a clue to an exit instead of the puzzling presence, I plod on, every step growing weary as I sink deeper into despair.

Before I can cry out in frustration, a sudden shift in the shadows catches my eye. A tall shadow, unlike the crouching four-legged silhouette I’ve been expecting all this time. A bear? No, it is too slender a figure for such a burly creature. Most importantly, there is no doubt in my mind that the stare coming from behind that withered trunk is the same one that has been accompanying me all this time. It has been concealing itself perfectly before, so why show itself now?

Strangely, as I find myself staring back at it, my heart rate picks up, yet somehow I feel at ease. I’ve been expecting a dangerous animal of prey, and it still may be one, but I don’t feel threatened in the least. Holding its gaze with mine is slowly washing all the worries I have back into the sea of lost thoughts. Everything else seems to stand deathly still with a new quality of silence. I can’t even hear my heart beating; to be honest, I’m not sure ifit’s still pumping, so absorbed am I in the unknown figure and I have no idea how much time passed before it suddenly turns on its heels and moves away.

Without hesitation, without even so much as a thought, my feet shuffle to follow. All tiredness forgotten, I hasten to catch up, desperate to discover the entity that has been keeping me company — and I suspect, safe from other predators — for so many hours. I should have known that something that can move so stealthily would have no problem moving at a speed that I have no hope of matching.

My excitement initially took the fatigue away from my legs but still, I have been hiking for many hours with only one stop to swallow a meager amount of food and it isn’t long until exhaustion finds its way back into my limbs. Any hopes of keeping up with it shatters as I stagger on my feet, pausing to place my hands on my wobbly knees. Panting, chasing my breath, I regretfully give up on the endeavour of uncovering the identity of the mysterious being.

When my breathing has evened out somewhat, I lift my head up, expecting the creature to have disappeared into the shadows again, but I’m in for a surprise. It is still there. It has stopped, watching me. Its curiosity is palpable, rivaling my interest in it. Is it… waiting for me? The notion is laughable yet I can’t think of any other explanation.

Testing the waters, I take a tentative step forward. A moment passes, as if it is ascertaining my ability to continue, then it whips around and starts moving again. Inhaling as much oxygen my lungs can take, I push myself forward, determined to follow it until the ends of the earth. It’s a little frustrating that it’s obvious that no matter how fast I go, it is simply matching my pace; just enough for me not to lose sight of it but nowhere close enough for me to see what is hiding underneath the shadows.

Before long the obstacles become thin, and the last strains of sunset can be seen just over the horizon, fighting to stay visible above the row of scattered small houses. Relief fills me at the sight — looks like I won’t be spending the night in the wilderness after all. Suddenly remembering my saviour, I swivel my head around, but it has sadly disappeared completely from my sight.

The very next day has me inside the forest again, this time under no pretenses as to the reason I am here. I want to see it again. Properly. There is no doubt in my mind that it doesn’t have any malicious intent towards me. However, it isn’t clear what its intent actually is, and that makes me even more intrigued. I want to know if it meant to save me yesterday. I want to know why it was watching me. Most of all, I want to know what it is.

Once again, it isn’t long before I feel the presence with me again. Like before, it is keeping out of my sight, no peep or hair to be detected by my senses, which are probably inferior to its own. But I can feel it. Before it was a baffling existence, never intimidating, really, just inexplicable, but now that I’ve actually caught a glimpse of it, I can’t help but feel attracted. Perhaps my curiosity is pulling me towards it. All I know is that it soothes my nerves and sets my pulse racing at the same time.

I am not foolish enough to think that I will somehow be able to see it again just because I want to. A wish does not come true without some effort put into it. That being said, I have no idea how to achieve my goal. It has been made perfectly clear that I am not an equal in terms of speed, stealth or most probably any other physical attribute. Trying to chase after it or sneak up on it, assuming that I can even pinpoint where it is actually watching me from is impossible. The only way that offers a sliver of a chance at success is a trick.

Be careful what you wish for, isn’t that the saying? For just as the thought crosses my mind, my inattentive state proves to be my undoing, making me fall over a log that completely escaped my notice. My painful groan into the dirt is stopped short as I hear a rustle from somewhere behind me. Is it concerned that I fell? In a split second I make up my mind, resting my whole body weight on the ground and staying still. Guilt immediately creeps up on me from the underhanded tactic but what other choice do I have? It seems to be worried about my welfare and if this is the only way to find out more about it, so be it, even though the blatant manipulation leaves a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

Whatever nagging my conscience is trying to hammer into my head is tossed aside when I sense it approaching me. Keeping my body immobile, especially when most of my face is facing the ground is extremely difficult when anticipation is rising within me, causing my heartbeat to boom inside my ears. Even harder is keeping my eyes shut while I’m dying to see, but I manage to hold my ground until I feel a gentle touch brushing the hair covering the side of my face away. With all the speed I can muster, my hand snaps up to grab it, eliciting a soft gasp of surprise from above. Before it can run away, my eyelids fly open, full of triumph and bursting curiosity at being able to lay eyes on this elusive creature at last.

The sight that greets me is nothing like what I expected. To be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it is definitely nothing like this. Nothing like him. The eyes that stare back into mine are golden, shining even though his back is to the sun’s rays, as if illuminated by heat all of their own, almost like a cat’s yet more cunning and infinitely more brilliant. His nose is stately, perfectly sculptured and placed just atop breathtakingly alluring lips, dewy and slightly parted in astonishment. His loose beige shirt and brown pants are a little worn and torn in a few places, and his feet are bare, coupled with his shaggy dark hair lending a wild look about him. His arm muscles captured within my grasp ripple, breaking me out of my reverie.

When my fingers loosen their hold on him, it startles him into motion. Apparently he was as concentrated on me as I was mesmerised by him. Like a frightened fawn, he jumps backwards, putting a few meters between us in one leap. Although surprised by the show of his physical prowess, I react quickly enough before he can disappear from sight again, yelling, “Wait!” Pushing myself up from the ground in an attempt to pursue him, but I can’t even manage to get on my two feet without squealing and falling in a heap.

Tears prickle at the corners of my eyes as I examine my right ankle. It is starting to swell, and I know that I can’t walk, much less run on it. Frustration fills me as I look up, then shock overtakes me when I see him even closer than before without having made a sound, bent over me, brows furrowed as he takes in my reddening ankle. Pain subsides as a new sensation takes over me, my heart pounding from being so near him again. Restlessness fills every fiber of my being, excitement threatening to spill over but I remain stock still, afraid to move or say something that may spook him off again.

I can’t stay like this forever though. Slowly, I place my palms behind me and drag my body backwards, hoping that moving away instead of towards him will not alarm him as much. He flinches from the movement, but doesn’t step away, watching me heave myself up onto the log that tripped me earlier with a small hiss. At first he only stares, as if a silent battle for a decision is happening within him. Then all of a sudden, he sits beside me in a swift shuffle. His intense gaze moves towards my ankle and he reaches for it, shifting his eyes back to mine just before touching it; a silent request for permission to hold it.

Without hesitation, I nod. The tips of his fingers are gentle but warm heat radiates from them; a comforting touch. “U-um…” I stutter, unsure of what to say, especially when he jumps at the sound of my voice, “it looks like I won’t be able to move around for a while. Would — would you like to share some of my lunch?”

It is probably one of the worst conversation starter in the history of man, but I can’t think of anything else to say. All I know is that I want to remain with him as long as possible. I want to get to know him. There is something about him that pulls me in, and even though I have no idea what this feeling is, I have no intention of pushing it away. As he continues to stare at me in silence, I start to wonder if he even understood what I said, but in the end he nods.

A smile involuntarily tugs at the corner of my lips at his answer. I scramble to take the food I packed earlier in my bag, part of me still afraid that he may run off. I take in his large, beautiful eyes that looks on curiously as I unwrap the food and hand over a rice ball to him. “It’s not much, but it’s the easiest thing to make and bring around,” I explain sheepishly. As he bites into the lightly salted rice, I watch for his reaction. For some reason I am hoping for his approval, although there’s not much to be earned over something so simple.

He gobbles it all up before I can even take a bite out of mine, which I take as a good sign. However, when I offer him the last piece he shakes his head and motions towards me instead. After several attempts of getting him to accept it, I give up, although I keep watching him as I finish my share to make sure he doesn’t make himself scarce while I’m stuffing myself. He does no such thing, keeping still — and unfortunately, quiet — until I clean after myself, at which point he finally stands up.

I’m sure the expression on my face as I lift my head up to look at him is a sad, desperate one, but I don’t care for appearances. Although there wasn’t much of an interaction between us, his presence fills me with inexplicable joy, a special bond that forms in an instant. However, instead of leaving as I expected him to do, he crouches down with his back facing me. It takes him twice to motion for me to get on his back before I can wrap my head around the idea and gingerly climb on him.

Never would I have thought that someone I technically just met today would be carrying me on his back now. I wonder if I’m too heavy, self-consciousness suddenly striking me but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at all, moving at a pace that I cannot manage even when I’m not tired without running out of breath. For all his speed, his hold on me is secure, and it’s evoking emotions that I’m not familiar with. A sense of security. Of sudden affection. Of unfathomable belonging. I can’t help but notice the warmth of his solid back against my chest, but I try my best to ignore it. The silence that stretches between us isn’t awkward but a question that has been plaguing me since last night resurfaces and bubbles out of my mouth.

“Yesterday when I got lost, did you help show me the way back?”

No answer is forthcoming, and after a short while I start to debate asking him again in case he didn’t hear me the first time. Just as I open my mouth to repeat the question he nods an affirmative. It really was him. He really was helping me. Before I can think of any further questions, he stops in his tracks and it is only then that I notice that we have arrived at the edge of the woods. Bewildered, I watch him glance around without saying a word until he sees what he is looking for. With me still securely latched on his back, he walks over and picks up a long, sturdy stick before crouching down so I can get off and handing it to me — a walking stick.

“Why don’t you come back with me?” I suggest, a little disappointed. I don’t want to leave his company just yet. “There is plenty of room inside my house.” It’s probably very ill-advised to invite someone I’ve only just met to come over, but already I trust him with my life. If he wants to harm me, he has had countless opportunities to do so, after all.

He shakes his head violently, as if I have suggested something worse than death, and backs away from me. Does he really live in here then? Seeing how averse he is to the idea, I don’t try to pursue it, instead asking, “can I come see you again then?”

Retreating steps halt when he hears my question. Again he takes his time answering, although now his expression is of disbelief, as if the thought of anyone wanting to see him is out of this world, but he finally moves his head up and down. His agreement brings a grin to my face, and my happiness leads to him gracing me with the most breathtaking sight of the day; his own lips breaking into a wide, boxy grin. It rearranges his features into one of a young, excited boy, all the wilderness about him disappears beneath the joyful visage, taking any doubts I may have had about him before with it. I’m still unsure if he is human or some woodland spirit or a minor god or something else, but he is definitely a good soul.

The next few days are torture while I’m basically under house arrest as I’m forced to wait for my ankle to heal. They’re not wasted, though, as I spend my time making remedies with the plants and herbs I have gathered from the forest, mixing them with what I already have at home and treating patients the best I can with my limited mobility. All the time I go about my chores he occupies my mind. The way he looks at me, his gentle touch, his warm skin, everything about him calls out to me, and I can’t wait to see him again.

So as soon as I can, I do. And I do so, again and again. My visits to the forest become a regular occurrence, a mixture of work and selfish desire to spend time with him. For he waits for me too. He never says a word, but I don’t mind that he is mute. His smiles more than make up for it, and our silent exchanges are more precious to me than any conversation I can have with the people in my village. Most of our time is used to explore the woods, rather, for him to show me all the wonders that it has to offer, from the biggest tree to the most tranquil river, but more than anything else, being around him makes my heart soar.

However, there is one thing about him I’d like to know more than anything else. “Say, you understand what I’m saying, don’t you?” I ask him one day.

As always, he doesn’t offer an answer right away, settling himself against the tree trunk more comfortably before he dips a confirmation with his chin.

“Can you write?” When he tilts his head sideways in question, I continue, “it’s just that I’ve told you my name a while back, but I don’t know yours. Maybe you can write it down for me?” I hand him a twig and point to the ground. Even though he takes it, he makes no move to write anything, so I try to persuade him softly. “I’d really like to know your name.”

Still he doesn’t respond, turning the stick over and over in his hand in deliberate but precise movements. My lower lip becomes the outlet of my impatience, nibbling on the tender flesh as I restrain myself from saying anything else. I’ve made my request and reasoning clear, and I don’t want to force him into telling me something he doesn’t want to reveal. It won’t be the first time my question goes unanswered; when I asked why he stays alone in the forest instead of among people, for instance, he furrowed his thick brows and shrugged, never really giving me an answer. I wasn’t hurt by it, as it is his right to share something with me or not. More than anything I’m just enjoying his company immensely. However his name is something I’d really like to know. Something I’d like to call him with.

A sense of victory fills me when the end of the twig scratches the dirt. Peering curiously to see what he is writing, my anticipation turns into bewilderment when he scratches out the first few letters he has written, only to start anew. Does he have more than one name? Is he planning to give me a fake name? Watching his features scrunch in concentration, I assume that he simply misspelled it, and wait for him to finish with barely contained excitement. When he’s done, he leans back against the tree so I can read it easily.

Taehyung.

“Taehyung,” I mutter, testing the name on my lips. Looking up at him to see if I pronounced it correctly, I find him gazing back at me intently. Elation makes his eyes sparkle when he hears it, as if it is the first time hearing his own name, and perhaps it is, considering that he’s living alone in the middle of nowhere. Testing my theory, I repeat it again more confidently, “Taehyung.”

His response is a most glowing smile, lips forming a shape similar to a charming heart that prompts me to crawl forward between his sprawled legs to better observe it. “Taehyung,” I say again, finding his delight to be a happy drug for my own system. Before I know it, I’m whispering his name mere inches from his lips. His golden orbs now burn with something different as they return my gaze, but when his hot breath fans over my face, I suddenly catch myself, tumbling onto my backside in a show of gracelessness, and the moment is broken.

Awkwardness ensues for a while after that, both of us unable to look into each other’s eyes but it isn’t addressed again. That doesn’t mean that the moment doesn’t haunt me every waking moment after we part ways, pondering and truthfully daydreaming about how it would be like if I had actually kissed him. Fortunately the next time we meet the air between us has cleared and it is comfortable to be with him again, at least on the surface. Inside me, however, is a war of emotions as I slowly realise that my feelings for him is not simply one of friendship or being cared for, but something much deeper.

Eventually my visits to the forest are noticed by the villagers, and more than one start to voice their concern.

“Aren’t you afraid of the beast?” A farmer asks when he comes over to get a cure for his headache.

“I haven’t seen anything that even remotely resembles a beast,” I answer, trying to alleviate their worries. “In fact, I haven’t seen anything dangerous at all.” The reason for this, I’m sure, is because of Taehyung, although I have no idea how he keeps the wild animals away. However, due to his blatant refusal of venturing outside, I’m hesitant about informing others of his existence. He clearly doesn’t want to meet other people, so I want to respect his wishes.

“You just got lucky, young lady,” an elderly woman croaks when I feed her the same answer I give anyone who asks. “One of these days it’s going to get you, and it will be too late to regret anything then. Listen to the wisdom of the ones who came before you, child, and stay away from that godforsaken place.”

I flash a small smile to appease her, but I make no such promise. Besides, I know that Taehyung will keep me safe from any threat whenever I’m there. But perhaps I’ve overestimated the security that being around people offers me. For the danger that is about to present itself comes not from the wilderness of the forest, but from the evil of human beings.

Loud noises accompanied by shouts prompts me to head outside to see what is causing the commotion, leaving the old woman to follow me at a much slower pace. Several houses away, a group of men I don’t recognise are trashing my neighbour’s house, turning the place upside down as two of them kick the elderly man mercilessly although he has already collapsed, helpless and weak, on the ground. Onlookers cluster a little further away from the scene, watching but not doing anything to stop them.

“What are you doing?” I shout, darting forward towards the old man, shoving the ruffians off of him.

“Well! Look what we have here,” the man I pushed aside chortles. “We haven’t seen you before, have we? That saves us a trip to your house. Go and get all your money and valuables and we will spare your sad little village from being burnt to the ground.”

A pile of boxes and sacks are visible just past the gaggle of villagers watching the scene unfold before them. I can feel rage bubbling inside me as I piece the puzzle together. Rumours of bandits from the bordering country attacking nearby settlements have been going around recently but I never imagined that they would actually attack us. Furious at the very notion that these men would take what little we poor people have worked hard to earn, I straighten my back and address the man who spoke to me, taking his authoritative tone combined with his sheer size compared to his underlings as the makings of a leader in a group such as this one. “Return their belongings and leave, right now.”

His roar of laughter in response is grating on my ears. “Playing hero, aren’t we? Although now that I look at you properly,” he grabs my chin in his rough hand, pulling me forward so my body crashes against his, “you’re quite a looker. Heh. Fine, I’ll take you and leave the rest alone. But we’re taking what we already have with us. We worked hard to collect it, after all.”

Cackling like a deranged maniac, he picks me up with a grunt and tosses me over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes. Screaming and pounding my fists against his back as hard as I can, I try to fight back but it only serves to amuse him. “I like my women feisty,” he squeezes me tightly, groping my bottom sickeningly before motioning to his men to take their leave.

All the while the villagers; my neighbours, my patients, people I consider my friends, people that my father and I have always helped even when they cannot afford to pay what we usually charge just spectate without doing or even saying anything. When I look to them desperately for help, they just turn away, pretending that nothing horrible is happening if they’re not looking at it. In the moment of fury and urgency to act, I have foolishly charged in without any weapon on me. I am completely defenseless, helpless, forced to accept the fate handed to me, it seems. Until screams from behind cause me to lift my head up in surprise, relief washing over me at the thought of one of the villagers standing up for my sake. But I’m in for a surprise. It isn’t one of the inhabitants of the village.

It is Taehyung.

I only manage to get a glimpse of him punching one of the outlaws with inhuman strength, sending him flying before their leader turns around so I now face the other side. Anxiousness well up inside as I hear more shrieks and the sounds of a violent brawl, but I’m not kept in the dark for long. As the leader turns and starts to run away, jostling me in his hold, I can see Taehyung again, but my blood runs cold at the sight.

It is the same Taehyung I know by appearance, yet he is now a completely different person. If I had any worries about taking on a bunch of robbers on his own, my concerns have been misplaced. His rage makes him seem like he has grown twice his size, towering over his opponents that he is ruthlessly shutting down. Several bodies already lay immobile around him. Effortlessly he places his large palm on one of the men’s face and pushes him to the ground. The resulting crack makes me wince, but what he does to the next one is even worse. With one swipe to the chest, he sends another ruffian crashing against one of the houses. Blood spurts from the man’s mouth as he makes contact with solid wood and after he crumples, he remains motionless. I understand why the leader decided to leave the others behind now.

With the obstacles between us eradicated, his focus is on the bandit attempting to take me away. Belatedly realising that Taehyung is at his heels, he drops me onto the ground to lighten his load and possibly appease the rage they have caused, but Taehyung is so consumed with white-hot rage that he keeps advancing. Even though the current Taehyung is nothing like the kind, gentle Taehyung I have fallen for, I know he is in there somewhere, and it is with that thought in mind that I step in between them.

“Taehyung, stop!” He still moves forward, intent on getting to my kidnapper even when I’m standing in the middle. A deep growl rumbles from his throat, making the fine hair on my skin stand on end. Even then, fear somehow does not have a place in me as I look at his face, the beauty that I find soothing still there underneath the mask of beastly fury. My hands cup his face, trying to get him to look at me as I tiptoe to press my forehead up against his. “Are you doing this to save me? I’m fine now, so please stop.” Behind me, the leader takes the opportunity to run for his life, and luckily Taehyung doesn’t follow.

Instead, my voice snaps him back to his real self. His golden eyes, filled with bloodlust just a few moments earlier, are now washed over with regret. I can feel tremors wracking his body before he pulls away from me and dashes towards the dark forest before I can stop him. Without hesitation or heed to the shouts and warnings from the villagers telling me to stop, I chase after him.

No matter how fast I run, I know that I’m no match for him. His speed and ability to maneuver through the many growth in the woods will leave me in his dust in no time, so before I lose sight of him, I call his name. “Taehyung! Taehyung!” But he doesn’t stop. Nor does he make an effort to be quiet, so I can hear him crashing his way through. Using my hearing as a guide, I try my best to follow, but in my haste I trip over, knocking my head against something painfully solid and the world goes black.

My consciousness returns to me with a headache. Flickers of light dance across my vision between shadows on uneven surfaces. I’m in a cave. Following the crackle of fire, I flip my body on the soft bedding to find the source. Taehyung is brooding in front of it, facing me. It takes some effort to stand up and make my way towards him, but even then he is unresponsive, too absorbed in his own thoughts, so I sit opposite him. Watching the flames illuminate his handsome face as the pain in my head slowly recede.

“They call me a beast,” he suddenly speaks up, and I snap to attention. The first strings of his deep voice is music to my ears and my jaw drops open in surprise. He can speak after all. Deciding that it is not a matter of the most importance at the moment, I try to push it aside, addressing the topic so important that it has made him speak to me for the first time.

“Who did?”

“The people in my village. Everyone except my parents. At first.” Every bit of his past comes forth in a gradual, painful flow. Yet I wait, hanging on to every word. “All my life, from the first memory engraved in my mind, I’ve been different. I look different. I’m able to do things others cannot do. I lose control of my strength sometimes. Everyone is scared of me but they cannot do anything to me, so they refuse to associate with my parents. It was hard, in such a small community like that, and I always feel sorry for them, but my mother told me that it wasn’t my fault. That I’m her darling child and she would do anything for me. So I just tried my best to stay out of everyone’s way.”

“But one night I learnt of the truth. My parents were arguing. My father was trying to convince my mother to send me away. There was no point to raising a child that wasn’t theirs, he said. Not when I wasn’t even human. When they found me, they thought I was just a strange looking child, but with time it became clearer and clearer that I was different. He was afraid of what I would become when I grew into an adult, but my mother refused to let me go. She didn’t want to hurt me, and she loved me so much.”

His voice lowers even more, almost devoid of emotion as his tale draws to a close. “That’s when I really understood how much I’d put them through. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t risk hurting them, couldn’t risk putting others in danger with my presence. I ran here. The people in my village correctly guessed where I went and spread the rumour of a beast living here so no one would come find me. So I stayed and never came out since, until…” he laughs bitterly as he recalls the incident that just transpired. “Looks like they were right. I’m a horrible, monstrous beast.”

A turbulence of emotions rage inside me while he talked, overwhelming me with sadness, pain and anger. He doesn’t respond when I stand up and stride over, only looking up at me in confusion when I slap the side of his head.

“You’re wrong,” I tell him, dropping to my knees in front of him and wrapping my arms around him tightly. “You came out to save me, didn’t you? And you saved the other villagers as well. You’re not horrible or monstrous at all. Those people who wear human skin, but inflicting pain and suffering onto others like that… they’re the real monsters.” Pulling back so I can look into his eyes, I say firmly, “You’re not a beast to me. I only see my saviour. Someone who watches over me and makes me happy. The one I’ve fallen in love with.”

Disbelief is etched all across his face, and he bides his time by reaching out to wipe my cheeks tenderly with his thumbs. “Don’t cry,” he begs. “I can’t stand to see you sad.”

I nod, not even noticing that I’m crying. I try my best to keep my tears in check, but I still need to let him know. How much he means to me. How much I want to be with him. That I’m not scared of him. That I’m in love with him. So I finally give in to my impulses, leaning forwards to press my lips against his. Even if he is a beast, no monster could possibly possess lips this soft, this fulfilling, making me feel so complete, inviting me for more. The flimsy dam I have constructed to keep my desire in check has cracked from the moment I heard the deep tenor of his voice relaying his tormented past, and has burst open at the first touch of our kiss, letting out the stream of lust unchecked.

A moan barely escapes my lips as I climb onto his lap, deepening the kiss. My tongue tracing the soft pillows is granted easy access into his mouth. When he pulls my hips closer to him, my breath catches, but I discover that I need him more than I need air. However, the evidence of his desire is pressing insistently against me, and I can’t stop myself from moving my hips, savouring the delicious burn that it offers my own flaming core. Unwilling to give up even one bit of him, I place one of my hands on the back of his thick neck while the other slides down to find his cock.

The grunt that comes from the back of his throat when my fingers close around him is satisfying, making up for the lack of friction on my own center of need. I refuse to let him go even as I feel him grow harder and larger under my touch, his erratic breaths against my lips not a deterrent to my mission of showing my intense desire for him. However, a strong, powerful being such as Taehyung can only hold himself back for so long before asserting his dominance, and he eventually gives in to his urge to make me his completely. Not that I have any objections against it.

Again he shows no strain as he rises to his feet, lifting me along with him, my legs circling his waist so we can remain attached at the hips. However it gives him difficulty when I refuse to lay on my back after he sets me down on his makeshift bed, so he gamely obliges to my request for him to stand as I kneel before him. A sharp yank on his trousers brings them right down to his ankles, and I have to contain myself from gasping at the revelation.

His erection stands tall, proud, and massive, potent liquid already leaking from the tip. Taking a deep breath, I grip the base and flick my tongue out to get a taste of him. Lightly salty, pleasantly sweet, and strangely addictive. Craving for more, I take him in my mouth, the weight reassuring on my tongue, sliding further and further inside until he hits the back of my throat. Tears prickle at the corners of my eyes at the discomfort but it is impossible for me to take in any more than this. Desperate gurgles echo from above me as I swallow once, twice, before pulling myself back, then going in again, bobbing my head up and down his shaft as my hand makes up for what my mouth lacks, pumping and lightly twisting the bottom half of his cock to meet my mouth every time. Drool seeps out of the edges of my mouth but I don’t care. Even when he tugs on the strands on my hair so only the head is enveloped in my mouth and he can see the dazed, greedy look on my face, I don’t care in the least.

With a guttural groan and enormous effort, he pulls me off of him, forcing me to release him with a loud pop and pins me down to the bed. His lips lock onto mine with a feverish need far more desperate than before, leaving me no room to escape, not even to replenish the depleting oxygen in my lungs. I can feel the fibers of my clothes being torn apart accompanied by vehement ripping sounds, reminding me of the brute strength he is capable of and when he lifts himself up on his elbows I am spread naked before him. He eyes every inch of me like a starving predator yet instead of being frightened, arousal pools between my legs. The wetness intensifies when he starts a journey of nips and bites down my body from the crook of my neck, tracing my collarbone and between the valley of my breasts, down to my very core.

Shame finally catches up to me when he parts my thighs and stare at my center. “You’re soaked,” he comments with a roguish smirk and with a squeal of embarrassment I try to close my legs, but to no avail. His palms are insistent, pressing the inside of my thighs to keep them spread wide for him, drinking in the view before he dips in to drink from me.

Gasps of pleasure pile on top of each other, cutting one so another can begin, as his tongue laves over me, a coarser muscle than my own inciting more friction as it drags against my slit, slipping into every nook and cranny of my folds. When it brushes upwards and over my clit, every minuscule nub of his harsh tongue gliding against it is akin to a bolt of lightning striking every one of my nerve endings, making me abandon any hold I have on my sanity in favour of tugging on his silky hair, drawing him closer to me as I burst all over his face. My grasp only loosens as the high slowly recedes but he stays there, lapping every drop of my essence, rebuilding my passion anew. But I want more. “Taehyung, I need you,” I plead, initially falling on deaf ears until my insistent begging becomes too much for him.

In a swift move, he rises to his knees and flips me around, raising my hips up in the air. I can barely suppress a groan when the tip of his cock presses against my entrance from behind, but ultimately I cannot mask my helpless lust for him, clear in the way I push myself back against him. My movement forces the very end of him inside me, evoking a moan from both of us, but Taehyung refuses to give in to his ardour without asking me, “Are you sure about this?”

“Yes!” I yell at him, frustrated at having to wait even one second longer. “Taehyung, I want you. I need you. Please.”

His booming growl at my words sends tremors shooting down my spine. “You are too good for the likes of me.” I shake my head in disagreement, but before I can turn my head to argue, he starts pushing in, inch by inch. A low moan reverberates from my throat as I feel my walls stretch open to the limit to accommodate him, tossing any words I have on the tip of my tongue out of my mind. Having him completely sheathed inside me gives me a sense of wholeness that is oddly unfulfilled; I need more, and then some more, as my thirst for him knows no bounds.

As is his hunger for me. He allows me some time to adjust to his size, but that is the end of his generosity. When he pulls away it is to ram back inside me with such vehemence that my elbows give out, planting my upper body into the bed. Stars shine at the back of my eyelids as I groan with pleasure and pain from his force and size, hoisting myself up to receive his next thrust, and the next, each one building in strength and speed. His deep, animalistic growls form the bass of a savage song interlaced with my high-pitched cries every time he plunges deep into my recesses, pushing me closer and closer to another orgasm. Each breath are drawn in shorter intervals between desperate yelps as I’m pulled tighter, unable to think, much less warn him as my body grows so taut I’m sure that I will implode on his cock.

His name is torn from my throat in a scream when he pounds the thrust that does me in. Every part of my body shiver and quake from the force of my crashing high, but he doesn’t stop. Only a menacing snarl signals me of his registration of my inner muscles clamping on his length, posing a challenge to his fierce strokes, yet still he goes on, with inhuman strength and stamina. Time is a lost commodity as he continues his merciless onslaught upon my body, savouring each orgasm he rips from me with fervour as he goes on, inevitably stoking a new fire within me before I can even recover from being burnt by the last one.

I have no idea how many times I’ve shattered around him, each one more intense and crushing than the one before. My arms have long since given out from underneath me, leaving me to whimper brokenly into the sheets with his hands on my waist to hold me up, but not wanting him to stop. A rapacity that knows no bounds, only increasing in potency, encouraging him with lustful groans when he grabs me by my arms, pulling me up so he can slam into me harder, convincing me that he will push my insides out with his violent thrusts.

“Taehyung, Taehyung,” I manage to call for him in my sexually-charged haze, and he yanks me up even more, pressing my back against his sweaty chest. The low rumble vibrating from his mouth against my ear almost unravel me again right then and there, but I fight to get the words out. “I want to see you.”

After a pause while he tries to make sense of my request in his own aroused state, he pulls out and picks me up to lay me on my back, pushing back in so quickly I don’t even have the chance to complain about the temporary loss of contact. Bending my legs up towards my chest, he nearly folds me into half, allowing him to pound even deeper into me as he looks into my eyes. His own are smoldering with lust and something more profound, and he hovers over me to whisper softly, “You’re so amazing.” The smooth baritone of his voice is in stark contrast with his powerful, precise thrusts. “You’re incredibly beautiful.” His fingers circling my clit is driving me up the wall again, but I retain enough of my senses to hear his following words as the snap of his hips become erratic. “I— I love you.”

The emotional and physical load is too much for me to bear, and I erupt again. My screams calling for him as I writhe underneath him irrevocably breaks him, with a triumphant roar of my name he forces the last few strokes inside me, filling me with a part of him. Together we bathe in the aftermath of our lovemaking, and eventually he shifts me with him to lay on our side, but he doesn’t let me go. Euphoria with Taehyung seems endless, passionate, heated kisses bruising my lips while we are still joined as one making it difficult for me to bring myself down from the clouds.

“Taehyung,” I mumble, but it doesn’t deter him, merely making him switch his target to my neck. “I want to stay with you.”

“Here?” He pauses, still latched onto me, but concern colours his tone.

“Here. My village. Anywhere.” Wiggling in his arms that refuse to loosen, I place my hands on his jaw so he can’t look away or distract me. “If you want to stay here, then I’ll stay here. But if you want brave the outside world again, then I will be there with you, no matter where you go. I couldn’t care less what other people think. You’re the one who matters to me the most. So I’ll always watch over you and support you whenever you need me.”

His smile is dazzling, his nod of agreement infusing me with untold delight. “Anywhere is fine with me as long as it’s with you,” he says, brushing the tip of his nose against mine. “Although I’m the one who will always watch over you, the woman of my dreams.”