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Apr 19, 2021
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Taekook au Prince Taehyung never thought that by running away from the kingdom, he would meet the infamous 'monster' of the southern jungle. He didn't expect to know the reason behind his disappearance every day either and he certainly never planned to fall for him!

-Kim Taehyung -The youngest prince of the kingdom -He was born as a wizard but no one knows it because he knows his father would k*ll him if he knew -But now that he is dead, he knows he's in even more danger cuz of his other siblings -He just wants to be free and happy!
-Jeongguk/Guk -Has been called a monster all his life -Although it's not all he was called before -Tries to stay away from people but somehow he couldn't let the prince die in the jungle -It's ironic how one person can be so beautiful even in their ugliest form
-Park Jimin -Taehyung's best friend -They have grown up together -They both experience the loss of their childhood friend -He knows about Tae's magic -And he is the one who helps him run away when things get harder
-Kim Seokjin -The person Tae learnt more of his magic from -He never knew Tae was a prince -Otherwise, he wouldn't treat him as nicely as he does -He has his own secrets that he needs to shield -Has a strong dislike for anyone with a royal blood
-Kim Namjoon -He wasn't born a prince but he ended up concurring the land he is ruling now -He is an unashamed wizard -A lot of people love him and a lot of people are absolutely terrified of him -He lives his life the way he wants
-Jung Hoseok -Taehyung's loyal servent -He taught him everything he needs to know ever since he started working for him -Even after he ran away, he never sold him out -Tae always saw him as a friend more than an employee
-Min Yoongi -There is something about his brother that his parents have never told him -He knows it but no matter how much he tries he can't figure out what it is -Especially now that he has to get married and take over after their dad, he wished his brother would be more engaged
-Beauty and the beast / Shrek / Wizard AU -fantasy au -A lot of angst and dark themes. I swear if you complain about the amount of angst even after this I will pull all of my hair😂 -A lot of fluff when the time is right -some comedy -There will be NSFW 🔞 moments
-If there comes any sensitive stuff, I'll let you know before it so you can skip it -If you get confused, that's good, it'll all make sense later -There also will be plot twists -I might include some polls on some parts. Please answer to them carefully.
-Please allow the characters to make mistakes. It will get frustrating but they need it and I want to keep them free -Don't judge the characters based on the first look, they might be very different -Don't ghost-read. Even if you don't comment, your likes can help the story a lot
-Also if you can please try to follow the story and support it as it's going. Even if you have some days of delays. The story needs the most support and opinions while it's going -I planned the storyline, I might change it a bit later or add things based on the reactions
-In other words your comments can really help the storyline but keep in mind that I'm ultimately gonna make sure things go to the right direction -Werewolf Alpha/ Human AU -I know what I'm doing -T.R.U.S.T M.E - Enjoy the ride with the characters <3
The room is silent. All fourteen siblings are presented in the room and all Taehyung can do is stand next to the window and wait. They all know what is coming next, they have all been preparing for it. The royal doctor walks into the room and they all focus on him.
"How is my father, Doctor?" One of the siblings asks and the doctor frowns harder before shaking his head. The room feels colder than before but it's not because the weather changed. It's just the bloodlust, fear and pain that is spreading through them all.
Jimin puts his hand on Taehyung's back to silently tell him he is there and he understands but Taehyung's eyes are just fixated on his brothers and sisters and everyone else in the room. "NO! Father!" One of them screams and runs to their father's room, crying.
"It is getting late children. You might need to get some rest until we prepare your father's funeral and move on to what's the best for our kingdom." One of the late king's spouses says. There is no resting tonight and they are all aware of it. The chaos has already started.
Taehyung gestures at his best friend to follow him to his room as the rest of the princes and princesses leave the room as well. Hoseok looks up from his chores when they walk back inside. "You're going to be okay. We knew this day would come." Jimin says.
"How is the king?" Hoseok asks. Taehyung sits on his bed and just sighs, trying to keep his emotions inside. "He has just passed." Jimin answers Hoseok's question and the servant looks down with a thoughtful and sad expression. "I'm not doing this." Taehyung says.
"It's not a choice. Any moment now, one of them is going to come after you. You're lucky they don't see you as their biggest threat but you are still one." Jimin says. "We all know you can defeat them all. You don't even have to use your mag-" "Don't." Taehyung cuts him.
"You say something." Jimin looks at Hoseok who just looks disturbed and conflicted. "I'm not going to k*ll my siblings." "It's a k*ll or get k*lled situation, remember?" "You don't get it. I can't." Tae says. "He's right." Hoseok says and Tae looks at him emotionally.
"I know you're not one to hurt your siblings but until only one of you is left, the ceremony won't happen. They spent all their lives preparing for this hunger game. You have the power, you just-" "I'm not doing this Hoseok." Tae says with a more serious tone.
"So what? Are you going to just wait until one of them cuts your head off or poisons you? Do you even know who to trust in this place after this?" Jimin scolds him. "I thought I could trust you?" Tae says. "He's a servant, I have my own kingdom to go to. We're not enough!"
He sits in front of Tae and holds his hands. "Look at me. I cannot bear losing you like this. I know it's hard but you need to do it or they will kill you and we both know they will." "My father just died, can you-" "And you can be next. I can't let that happen." Jimin says.
"He's right." Hoseok says. Tae can't remember the last time he cried in his life but right now, that is all he wants to do. But he still keeps it in, trying not to show just how weak and hopeless he feels. "I can't." He whispers and His best friend closes his eyes in anguish.
"Then you have to leave now." Hoseok says. "Have you lost your mind?" Jimin asks. "That's the best I can do." Tae agrees with Hoseok. Jimin looks a bit unsure of what to say. "Just how long do you think you can run before they find you?" Jimin asks.
"They won't." Tae shakes his head. "You sound so sure." "Because I am." Tae whispers. "I'm going to the land of magics." "How are you even going to get there?" "Through the southern jungle." Jimin and Hoseok both look at him, terrified. "That is su*cide." Hoseok says.
"Haven't you heard of the creatures that jungle has? Almost no one has ever come out of it alive. What if the monster-" "I can take care of myself. I just can't stay here and k*ll the rest of my own flesh and blood." Tae says. His friends stare at him with sad eyes.
"I'm not sure about this." Jimin confesses. "Am I even gonna see you again if you..." He pauses and Tae can see his best friend's pretty eyes and how glossy they look. "I hope so." He says because hope is all he has at a time like this. "I hate this." Jimin greets his teeth.
"I hate it too." Tae says and wipes the tear that falls down from Jimin's eye. the other prince gets up to look away, trying not to cry in front of his friend but he can't. "If I never see you again, I'll never forgive you." He says. Even Hoseok has teared up.
Tae gets up and walks to them both, turning Jimin around so all three of them can press their foreheads together, a sign of respect and love that they all recognize. "One way or another, I'll see you both again. But I won't be able to if I stay." He whispers.
"You better." Jimin says. "How do we get you out?" Hoseok says. "You don't have to-" "You can't out without help. Stop being stubborn and let us help you." Jimin says. Tae licks his lip nervously and then nods, telling them about the only way out of this castle.
Hoseok stays in the room, pretending like Taehyung is still there while Jimin walks out of the room. Tae is holding his hand but no one is able to see him. He has at least half a hour to stay invisible before he gets visible again. He is a little scared for Jiminie too.
As the prince of a kingdom that they are in good terms with, he knows they won't try to k*ll him or hurt him but if they find out that he helped him, he will be in so much trouble. He is opening every door, making it easier for Tae to move around without getting people suspicious
But they both know Jimin can't go any further than the main gates or people will get suspicious. Jimin holds Tae's hand tighter, not even being able to say goodbye before he doesn't feel the hand in his own anymore. He stands tall, trying not to look as broken as he feels.
He stares at the darkness and he wonders just how far his friend must have gone already. That is when the bells start ringing. Either the hunger game has started or they already found out that Tae has left but either way, Jimin can't even bring himself to go back inside.
Tae is only a bit further from the castle when he hears the bells and his brows frown. There is a big chance that they found out he disappeared! Even if they haven't, they will soon. He walks just a bit further and his visibility comes back as well.
His black cloak is helping him hide better in the darkness but once they release the dogs, he knows he won't have a chance. He grabs some money from his pocket as soon as he gets to the lack and gives it to the sails man who was just about to go back home.
The man frowns at the coins, wondering how someone as young as Taehyung has them and why would he want to use his boat to leave this late at night. He must be trouble! "I'm not going to get involved." The man shakes his head. "I'll pay double." Tae insists.
"I don't want your money. It's obvious that you're running from the castle." The man says. He is about to walk away when he suddenly feels a chill down his spine, freezing on his spot. "Help me or the royals will be your last concern." Taehyung threatens him.
The man manages to look back with wide eyes, realizing that the other man is no ordinary lad. Two hours later while the boat continues to get him further away from the place he called home all his life, Tae looks back at the castle and wonders if he's ever going to see it again.
He leaves the old man with his coins and then walks away. The man is probably going to tell them where he took him but hopefully by the time he manages to do it, Tae will already be closer to the jungle. He knows that no one will follow him in the jungle anyway.
He keeps his head low for the first three days, managing to stay out of trouble. That is only until he reaches a path in which the royal guards are looking through everyone. He can't move past them even if he gets invisible. He walks to them, trying to act natural.
"Name?" The guard asks with a harsh voice. "Minjoo Sir." Tae says. "Where are you heading to?" The guard asks. "To the southern lake sir." Tae says. "Stop looking down and let me see your face." The guard says and Tae looks up, hoping the guard won't recognize him.
The guard stares at him for a while and Tae hates the fact that he can't read his mind. The guard narrows his eyes and then lets him pass. Tae sighs in relief and continues walking. But just when he looks back, he sees the guards whispering. They know! One of them draws his sword
"My lord, you have come a long way but we can't let you pass." The guard says and Tae just closes his eyes. When he opens them again, his eyes fall on a piece of paper with his picture on it. They must have already sent it through the whole kingdom through their birds.
His journey is going to be even more dangerous now and he knows it. Many people will know him and many people would either want to kill him or capture him. "My lord-" The guard is about to say but Tae quickly draws his own sword and jumps back, holding his ground.
"Get out of my way." He says with a serious tone. "We can't do that. You need to go back home." The guard says and the rest of them get ready to draw theirs too. "It's an order." He says. "You're not in a position to order about this, m'lord." Another guard says.
They will capture him, they will lock his hands and take him back to his death, he knows they will. His only option is to fight so he launches forward. The guards all attack at the same time and before they know it, they are all fallen on the floor, barely alive.
Tae looks at them with pained eyes, holding his bloodied shoulder. One of them injured him so badly but he can still manage to find a way to stop the bleeding later. He walks to the caged bird, grabs a paper and uses his own blood to ask for help for the guards on the ground.
He grabs another cloak that must have belonged to one of the guards and then proceeds walking. He knows he can't show his face to anyone anymore and he still has two more days to walk. Once the gets to the next town, he sits behind a tree and tries to bandage his scar.
He lays his head back and sighs, touching the scar. 'Smithurin.' He whispers the magical word to decrease the pain. He wished he could have learnt more from Jin back when he could. But maybe, just maybe if he goes to the land of magic, he gets to see him again!
He gets up to look for some fruit from the trees and feeds on them. He is trying to take the less crowded route but it is still hard to keep walking when his body is exhausted and he has a big scar on his shoulder. He has to fight a couple of more times before he gets there.
He pauses in front of the jungle and takes in the scary-looking trees. It is already night time and Tae is not sure if he should be happy that he is here or scared. People say once you get in, you never get out! And Tae already needs a lot of rest! He walks inside.
The jungle sounds like any other. An owl is filling the silence while the crickets add to the sound. He can barely see anything in the jungle but he still tries to remember where he is going and leave behind some parts of his cloak in case he gets lost in the place.
He finds a lake and sits beside it, trying to lean and finally drink some water from it. He doesn't know if it's safe or not but it's better than dying from lack of water. He splashes some water on his face and looks at his own reflection with the full moon on top of his head.
He is tired! It might be crazy to sleep at a place like this but he is not sure if he can even walk anymore. His shoulder feels numb and the cold is making him shiver. He pulls the cloak harder against himself but it's no help. He can actually feel like something is wrong.
He lays back on a tree and tries not to fall asleep. "TaeTae?" His heart almost stops when he hears a voice. He doesn't look at his side but he already recognizes the voice. "TaeTae, what are you doing here?" The childlike voice asks. "You're not Jiminie." Tae whispers.
"Did you already forget about me?" The voice asks and Tae finally looks at him. The friend he just left behind, looking like he is seven again. He smiles just as bright as Jimin and it breaks Tae's heart to know he might never see him again. "Are you here to play?"
"You're not real." Tae whispers. "What are you saying? You don't want to play anymore?" Jimin asks and Tae just stares at him. "I'm not young enough to play anymore." Tae says. "But you are. Look at yourself!" Jimin says and Tae looks at his own body, looking much smaller.
He crawls closer to the lake and sees himself in it but this time, he is not a man in his twenties, he is just a boy that can't be any older than six or seven. "You know he will be mad if we're late again." Jimin says. Tae looks back. "He?" He whispers.
The little Jimin points away and Tae follows his finger, only to see another boy, around the same age as them. Tae knows him, he has known him when they were younger. The days they would all play together and plan a future where all of them could still play and laugh.
Tae walks away from Jimin and gets closer to the other boy who has a knowing light in his eyes. He doesn't even remember why he was there, he doesn't remember what his age was, how he is not supposed to be seeing any of them. "Where have you been?" Tae asks the boy.
The boy smiles and his cute teeth shine in the darkness. "Waiting for you, TaeTae." He says. "Why did you..." Tae can't even finish his sentence. The boy's smile suddenly drops, stepping away. "Who are you?" The little boy asks. Tae steps forward. "Don't go! Don't go again!"
"Let go of me. Who are you?" The boy shouts, pulling away. "Don't go!" Tae shouts and tries to run after him. He runs and runs and runs but before he knows it, he is just in the middle on nothingness. It's all just dark around him. 'You left us.' 'Useless wizard.'
Tae's heart starts beating crazier once he starts hearing the whispers around himself. He doesn't even know where they are coming from. 'Coward' 'I don't know you.' 'Nobody loves you' 'You were never meant to be born' 'The weakest out of all' He holds his ears.
No matter how hard he holds his ears, the whispers still get louder. Speaking over each other with the voices he mostly recognizes from his memories. He shouts, trying to stop their voices by being louder but it's no use. He's in pain!
The beast stops when he sniffs something and then turns around. He crawls closer to the lake and pauses when he sees the human, sleeping next to the tree. He gets a bit closer and sees the blood coming out of his shoulder, shivering, whispering things Jeongguk can't understand.
He looks in pain and he can guess that the scar is old. It must have gotten infected if it is still bleeding. But Jeongguk knows that he is not one to interfere. He is not the first human that comes here to be 'brave'. He can die for all Jeongguk cares. He turns to leave.
"Don't go." He stops when he hears the whisper. Is he awake? He looks back and then sees the man under the coak. It's hard to see his face but he looks like he is sleeping. "Don't leave me again." The man whispers again, looking in so much pain. Jeongguk just stares at him.
He should just leave he shouldn't get involved with a human, he knows. But there is just a part of him that doesn't want to leave like he needs to listen to him. Is it the forest speaking, his alpha senses kicking in again or is it the locked up Jeongguk inside? He doesn't know!
Tae opens his eyes and lifts his hand to cover his eyes from the direct sun. He tries to sit up but his shoulder hurts again. he holds it and then realizes something. He looks down to see the leaves and what looks like organic medication on his scar.
The leaves have been lazily wrapped around his shoulder to keep them there. He blinks in confusion and then looks around. where even is he? It looks like he is still in the jungle. Did someone save him? "Hello?" He calls out. "Is anyone there?" He shouts. No one responds!
He holds the leaves on his shoulder and gets up to take a look. The jungle looks so natural! He sighs and tries to remember the previous night. Was it all a dream? Was it the jungle? All the people he saw, the voices! It was literally torture!
Who saved him? as far as he knows, no one dares to get inside! And the place is so dangerous that if anyone does, they will die. Then why did someone try to save him? He grabs a fruit from one of the trees and goes back to where he woke up. There isn't really anything here!
His cloak and sword are there but nothing else! Even his shirt is gone! But then his eyes catch the sight of the white fabric. He runs to it and grabs it. His eyes get wide once he sees the way it was torn up. It almost looks like a wild animal had scratched it.
He puts on his cloak and grabs his sword. Whoever helped him, Tae doesn't have any time to help them. He needs to find his way out! He uses his other hand to climb from a tree to see where the jungle ends. He looks in shock when he reaches the top and sees nothing but trees.
He climbs down and flinches in pain over his shoulder. This must be a joke. He's completely lost! He makes a natural campus to try and find where the north is but it doesn't work on the lake. What is wrong with this place? He starts walking, hoping to find... something!
Anything! He spends the whole day searching but still nothing! He turns on a light with his finger and tries to still search. He pauses in his way when he suddenly sees a giant snake in front of him. so big that he has never seen anything like it before! He grabs his sword.
The giant snake is looking back at him. Tae is ready for it to attack but it just crawls away like nothing happened. Tae's heart is beating like crazy. He has no idea why it didn't attack. Was it not hungry or something? He quickly moves away before it changes its mind.
Someone saved him. Tae knows someone did. then someone must be around here and maybe Tae should just go back and try to find them. But then again... Where is back? He is lost again! "HELLO?" He shouts as hard as he can. "IS ANYONE ELSE HERE?"
He sighs when no sound comes. He leans to drink water from the lake again when he suddenly sees the green creature under it and pulls away. Was that a... The crocodile slowly lofts its head out of the water and then goes back down. Tae runs away.
This was the second time tonight he almost got eaten or something! This is not his first time in a jungle but it is his first time in one where he doesn't know what to expect. Maybe shouting is not a good idea after all. He continues walking to search. He hears a growl.
He stands still, knowing whatever growled would jump and tear him to pieces if he moves. The panther gets closer to him and Tae bites his lip, trying to keep himself calm. He wants to run so bad. He feels it behind himself but then it just walks past him.
What the hell is going on? It's almost like none of the wild creatures around want to hurt him! It happens again and again, every time he sees another wild animal, they just look at him and walk away. He doesn't know what to think! He hunts a bird to cook something and eat.
His scar looks way better than before. Just who was it that knew exactly what could help Tae's scar? He can't stop thinking of it. He is in the middle of eating when he sees red and shiny eyes between the long grasses. It's dark but he can see the creature between them.
He puts the food away, already feeling too tired of all this. "What? Are you just gonna take a look at me and walk away too?" Tae asks. The creature gets closer. It looks like a mixture of a wolf and a bear. "What even are you?" Tae asks himself.
It gets closer to him but Tae doesn't move this time. At this point, he feels hopeless to even try to save himself. He knows that he is lost, with probably no one around and a shit ton of dangerous animals around. It gets closer and Tae can swear it is looking at his shoulder.
"Apparently someone got it fixed for me. Can you believe it? This is supposed to be the jungle of death and none of you are trying to kill me. Someone actually saved me. I don't understand." He doesn't know why he is even talking to it. The creature looks hesitant.
As if it is waiting for Tae to react and every time he doesn't he moves again. Is it scared of Tae? "Are you scared?" He tries to reach his hand to pet it but it quickly pulls away. "Don't worry cutie. I'm the last person you're supposed to be afraid of."
He moves closer to pet its hair with a smile. "I've never seen an animal like you. What even are you?" Tae asks. The creature just looks at him as if it is studying him. Tae finally stops and sits back to smile at it. "If only you could talk and show me the way!" "I can."
Tae pauses, staring at the ground, trying to think if he got delusional again or not. He looks up with wide eyes. "Did you just say something?" Tae asks. The beast sits and then tilts its head. "I was the one that patched your scar." He says. Tae is about to pass out.
"Huh?" It comes out so weakly because seriously, what the hell? "Don't panic! I'm not gonna hurt you!" The beat quickly says as if it can actually sense Tae's fear. "I'm going crazy!" Tae mumbles. "you're not!" "A wolf bear thingy is talking to me." "Calm down!"
Jeongguk doesn't know why he even showed himself. But seeing the other man walking around himself all day was just starting to become painful to watch. "I know it's strange but I'm really not going to hurt you." "How are you talking to me?" "I just... can!"
"Is it the forest? Can every creature talk here?" The man asks. Jeongguk shakes his head. "I'm the only creature here that can talk." "What about humans." "It has been a while since the last one died." Jeongguk says. "Died?" Tae frowns. "From what? Everything seems harmless."
Jeongguk pauses. "It's not harmless." "Nothing has attacked me since I got here." Tae says. "It's because they smelled my scent on you." Jeongguk says. Tae blinks a few times. "They what?" "You slept for a few days. I scented you so they wouldn't attack." Jeongguk says.
"You what?" Jeongguk sighs. "That's what wolves do. It's just... It's like saying back off, he's part of my pack or something." He tries to explain in a way the other man can understand. The human just stares at him with an unreadable expression. "Why? Why did you help me?"
Jeongguk looks down uncomfortably. "No reason. You just smelled funny." He says. "Smelled funny?" "Sweet, kind of familiar." He says and Tae doesn't know what to think of it. He sort of hates the fact that he helped him. Tae's expression gets softer over that. "Thank you."
Jeongguk frowns to himself. "Don't thank me. I'm not going to help you again." He says. "Can you at least tell me which way I have to go until I can get out of here?" "You can't get out of here." Jeongguk says as a matter of factly. Tae frowns. "Why not?"
"This is not a normal forest. Once you walk in, you can't walk out until the forest is done with you." Jeongguk says. Tae tries not to freak out. "But I need to get out of here. I can't live in a jungle forever." Tae says. "I've never seen a human walk out of this place."
Tae cannot believe this! Is this why no one could ever get out? Did they all just get lost until they had no chance to die? "What do you mean until it's done with me? What does it want from me?" "To help you find something, realize something, I don't know." Jeongguk says.
He gets on his hands and legs again. "I'll leave now. My scent is probably going to last for the night but I won't come back again for you. Try not to die too soon." He says and starts walking away. "Wait!" Tae says, quickly standing up. "You gotta help me!"
"I helped you enough wizard." The beast says. "Please!" Tae runs after it but the wolf starts running even faster. "WAIT!" He is just a human after all, the beast manages to escape and Tae is left alone in the neverending forest again. Why does this feel like Deja Vu?
Jeongguk jumps on one of the rocks and watches the human from above. He still can't believe that he helped a wizard. to be fair, he didn't know he was one when he saved him but even now, he doesn't know why he's not just walking away from him. He's going to die anyway!
Tae can't find him no matter how much he searches. So he just decides to sleep for the night and tries to survive for the next day. Now he knows that the only reason he survived before was because of the beast and he can't count on his luck any longer.
Jeongguk is usually not one to mingle around humans, especially the ones with magic. But he can't stop watching him from afar for the next few nights. His shoulder is better now and he is doing well surviving. He is still looking for a way out but can't find any.
A part of Jeongguk actually feels sorry for the guy. Maybe because he is one of the only ones who hasn't lost his hope yet. Usually, by this time, most of them just give up. Some of them take their own lives but this one, he is still trying to fight his way out.
He is ready to watch him die, he knows the time will come sooner or later anyway but one night as the wizard tries to free himself from the hold of a hungry tiger, he can't just stand and watch anymore. Tae is about to give up when something jumps above his head and growls.
The tiger looks surprised but still growls back. Tae looks back and sees the beast, scuffing at the tiger to back off. The tiger stands for a bit longer before walking away, still growling. Jeongguk can't believe he did it again. "It's you again!" Tae sounds relieved!
"I... I should g-" He is about to say and back off again but the human quickly throws himself on him and holds around his fluffy neck. "Thank you, don't go again! Please don't go again." Tae says, holding him tight and Jeongguk is just standing frozen on his spot.
He finally comes back to his senses and tries to pull back. "I can't help you-" "Just stay. Just talk to me. I'm going crazy. Just talk to me. You don't have to defend me." Tae says. Jeongguk doesn't like this. Why is this wizard expecting so much from him?
"I can't be around you forever." He says. "I'll find out what the forest wants. I will, I'm a wizard, I'll find a way. But I'm gonna go crazy around everything that doesn't talk and wants to kill me. I don't want to be alone anymore." Jeongguk can hear the desperation in his tone
He hesitantly lets go of the creature and looks at him. Jeongguk is used to people screaming just by the sight of him. He's not used to people hugging his fluffy neck or to ask him to stay like this. And a stupid part of him actually wants to stay.
"Please." Tae says and Jeongguk doesn't want to, he really doesn't. He doesn't want to help anyone with those stupid magic tricks but there is just something about this man's eyes that keeps pulling him back. Or maybe it's just his scent. Those stupid pretty sharp eyes.
"I'm still savage. I might be dangerous too." Jeongguk says. "I can take care of myself. I just don't want to be alone anymore. It's already been three weeks!" Has it? Jeongguk didn't notice how long it has been. "Fine." He finally says, even though he is still bitter.
Tae sighs in relief. "Thank you." He closes his eyes in gratitude. "In one condition." Jeongguk says. Tae opens his eyes to look at him when the creature says it. "Don't ever try to follow me when I'm leaving. I'll only come to you at nights."
"Why?" Tae asks in confusion. "Because I say so." Jeongguk says and Tae doesn't know what to say to that. But he honestly prefers this over not having anyone to talk to at all. "Okay..." He whispers. The beast sits next to him, looking less eager to leave now.
"Do you have a name by any chance?" Tae asks. Jeongguk doesn't know if he should tell him the truth or not but it's not like Tae is going to know who it is just from a name anyway. "Guk, Jeongguk." He says. Tae smiles nostalgically at the name. "It's pretty!"
"Do you have a name?" Jeongguk asks and Tae can't help snorting. He is a human, of course he has a name. "Taehyung. Some people just call me Tae or TaeTae." He says. "Sounds childish." Jeongguk says despite the storm the name gives to his body. "If you say so 'Gukkie'."
"New rule, don't ever call me that again." "Or what Gukkie?" "I'm serious, I'm gonna bite you." "you? You're such a cute and harmless puppy, you're not gonna hurt anyone." Tae says and holds the beast's fluffy cheek in endearment. "I'm sure we're gonna be great friends!"
"You remember that I'm not a human, right?" Jeongguk asks. "Humans are overrated anyway." Tae jokes. Jeongguk follows him as Tae hunts something else and shares it with him before cooking the rest to eat. It's nice having an understanding body close by!
He ends up telling Jeongguk about the reason he ran away from his kingdom and how he only got here to get to the land of magics where he could be himself without fearing for his life. Jeongguk mostly just listens but knowing that he understands is comforting to the human.
He wants to stay up all night and just talk to the beast but he finally sleeps when it gets close to the sunrise. Jeongguk puts the cloak on him so he won't feel cold and then walks away from him. As soon as he walks out of the jungle the sun starts to rise.
He closes his eyes and then inhales deeply, letting the transformation happen before grabbing the cloak he left behind and putting it on himself. He looks back at the jungle one last time, his heart beating so fast. Why? Why is he already looking forward to coming back again?
Tae opens his eyes and feels the sun on his face. He feels a bit sad to know Jeongguk is gone but knowing that he will come back again at night makes him feel better. He sits up and tries to use the sun and store more enerji. He's going to get out of here no matter what!
He remembers when Jin told him that the biggest source of his powers are the sun and the moon. If it's not the full moon then it's the best for him to use the sun and get more power. He is not sure what he should even be looking for but maybe he can find it through his powers.
He tries to connect to the jungle through his mind, to let nature take over his senses, to become one with them all. It takes a while until he starts feeling and hearing every movement around himself. It is overwhelming to the point that he doesn't even know where the time goes.
He only opens his eyes once he feels so hungry and then gets up to look for something to hunt and eat. He goes back to meditating after it again. Call him crazy but it feels like he is finally getting some connection. He has been trying for weeks now! "What are you doing?"
He opens his eyes and smiles when he sees the ball of fluff he didn't even get to say goodbye to last night. "You came back!" He points out. "I said I would." Jeongguk says and then sits next to him. "You didn't answer my question." "I'm just meditating."
"A wizard thing?" "Kind of. I had a teacher before and he told me even if I don't know how to use my powers, I can still try. Apparently, my subconscious must know. This is supposed to be a magical jungle so maybe I can connect with it?" Tae tries to explain.
"Good luck with that." Jeongguk says bitterly. "Is it just me or you don't like me?" Tae points out. "I saved your life, what makes you think that?" "It's hard to read your expressions but I can still hear your tone." Tae points out. Jeongguk sighs and shakes his head.
"I'm not a people person." He says curtly. Tae doesn't push it any further even though he has a feeling that there is more to it. "Have you made any progress at all?" Jeongguk tries to change the subject. "I think I'm getting there." Tae says unsurely.
"So since you got here, you haven't gotten any new leads? Any messages? Maybe something you didn't just understand?" Jeongguk asks and Tae frowns thoughtfully. "You're thinking of something." "Nah, it's nothing." "But you're thinking of it." Jeongguk insists.
"It's just... the first night I got here, I had this vision. I don't know if it was a illusion caused by my infection or the forest was trying to talk to me but it was a tough one." Tae says. "What kind of illusion?" Jeongguk asks, feeling more interested now.
Jeongguk had been in this jungle for almost all of his life and he has never really been this involved in understanding the jungle through someone else. "Remember the friend I told you? The one I grew up with?" "Yeah?" "Well... I saw him but differently. He was way younger."
Jeongguk stays silent to let him explain. "He asked if I forgot him and then he wanted us to play. I said I was too old for that but then I realize I'm just as young as him. Then he points out at this boy..." He stops talking, looking more in thought. "A boy?" Guk asks.
Tae's expression is a mixture of sadness, unsureness and softness. As if he is trying to remember a memory he can barely recall, one that makes him both happy and sad. "I'm not sure but I think it was a boy we used to play with when we were younger." Tae says.
"I forgot about him, completely! It was a LONG time ago. I just remember I was pretty heartbroken when I realized we couldn't play anymore." He chuckles sadly. "Why not?" "I don't know. I honestly can't remember much. I was so little!" Tae says. "Maybe he is the key?" Guk asks.
"You think so?" "The forest is kind of a hassle. You never know what it wants but it's usually something important. Sometimes it might not even be about you, it might just want you to do something for someone else. Or something so deep, even you can't recall!" He says.
Tae thinks harder about it. "You think it wants me to help the boy?" "I don't know, it's just a guess. Maybe you were just being delusional that night. What was the boy's name again?" Jeongguk is still trying to help. "I really don't remember!" Tae confesses.
"Didn't the illusion help?" "All I know is that he said he was waiting for me here but then I asked him where he has been and he said he doesn't remember me and ran away. I tried to follow him but then there were all these voices in my head. I couldn't see anything anymore."
"Voices?" "Yeah. Basically, all the bad things anyone has ever told me. I could hear everyone. My parents, my siblings, our workers, some villagers, some guards, Jiminie, the boy... Everyone!" Tae says. Jeongguk thinks harder, wondering if the jungle was really communicating.
"Are you sure there is no other human in this jungle?" Tae asks. "I knew if there was anyone else." Jeongguk says. Tae's expression hardens at that. "So you've always been alone in this jungle?" He asks. Jeongguk looks away. "This is not about me."
Tae looks at him sadly and sits closer to him before hugging around its neck again, pressing his head on its head. "What are you doing?" "I was going crazy after three weeks, it must have been pretty lonely for you t be here all on your own with no one to talk to."
Jrongguk takes his lips under his fangs, trying to stay calm. "If I find a way out of here, you could come with me?" Tae suggests. Jeongguk actually starts laughing at that. Tae pulls away to look at him. "What is so funny." "No one would want me out of here." Guk says.
"I know what people say about me. I am the main reason no one wants to come to this jungle. They know the big bad beast is living in here." Jeongguk says. So he really is the 'monster' people out there are afraid of, huh? "They just don't know you! You saved me." Tae says.
"I saved a prince who is running away from his duties. I don't save everyone. I'm still savage. You're lucky I didn't feel like killing you." "I can't imagine you feeling like killing anyone." Tae admits. "You can always prove them wrong." "To people who are terrified of me?"
"They are just scared because they don't know what you are and if you would hurt them. Once they see you talk, once you convince-" "I don't want that. I'm perfectly fine here." "But don't you ever want to go out?" "No one is keeping me here. I'm here because I want to."
To say Tae is surprised is an underestimate. "I'm not a human, I can leave whenever I want. But I like it here. It's my territory now." Jeongguk says but there is just some bitterness in his voice that makes Tae question all of it. "And no, I can't take you out."
"If you know the way out, then how can't you get me out?" "Even if we walk to the end of this jungle, I can walk out and you will continue walking in a never-ending path of trees. I cannot get you out of here, only you can save yourself." Jeongguk insists.
Tae looks at the fire he set up before and yawns. "You looks sleepy." Jeongguk points out. "Meditating takes energy." "Then why don't you just sleep?" "Most creatures attack at night. It's safer to sleep near the sunrise." He turns to look at Jeongguk.
"I don't like helping you but you keep making me to do it." Jeongguk says. "I'm not asking for anything other than talking." Tae reminds him but Jeongguk sighs again before walking closer. Tae stays stunned when the creature gets closer to his neck. "Relax, I'm just scenting you"
In a weird way, he actually relaxes from the tone and then feels the lick on his neck. The beast breathes closer to the point next to his ear and then pulls back. "You can sleep now. They won't come after you." He says. "Thanks." Tae says and then pets his head.
"You get too familiar with someone you don't know." He pulls his head away. "Stop hugging and touching me." "Sorry! Does it bother you? You look like a puppy sometimes. It's a human thing. When we see cute things, we like to pet them or touch them." Tae explains.
"You're probably the only person in the world that thinks I'm cute." Guk snorts. "But you really are! You look cuddly like a bear but your face looks as sharp as a wolf. Your fangs and big eyes kinda make you look like a bunny too." Tae says with a bigger smile, tilting his head.
"That doesn't sound like a good mixture." "It is, trust me. It makes me want to cuddle you to death and protect you." "Cuddle me to death and protecting me are two opposite things." Tae can actually hear the amusement in Jeongguk's tone. "I'm not a pet. Don't forget that!"
"Okay Mr-not a-pet." Tae says. "But I'm still gonna shower you with hugs until you get that grumpy tone out of your voice." "I'm not grumpy." "Yes you are." Tae says and pulls the beat in his chest and lays on his back. "HEY! Don't!" Jeongguk tries to pull away.
"You know you love it." Tae says but still lets him go with a chuckle. It is just like playing with the castle's dogs. "I don't! Now eat something and sleep before I bite your head off." Jeongguk says but Tae doesn't take him seriously.
Three hours later Tae finally falls asleep and Jeongguk can't help staring at his peaceful expression. He makes it so hard to hate him. He really does! He walks out of the jungle and just looks up. The sun comes up again and Jeongguk feels his body changing.
He looks at his hands, looking much smoother than they were before. He sits them in frustration and grabs his cloak again. Sneaking back to his bed is not even a challenge anymore. He knows that in just a few more hours he has to get up anyway.
The next time he opens his eyes, his servent is preparing his food for him. "Good morning your highness." The man smiles, a smile Jeongguk knows isn't genuine but he just nods at him and sits at the table to eat. "Your brother said he wanted to see you again."
"When?" He asks. "As soon as you're done with your food." Jeongguk doesn't rally touch his food, he just gets up to wear his clothes and then head to his brother's room. He knocks on the door. "Come in." Yoongi looks at him while massaging his shoulder when he opens the door.
"You wanted to see me?" Jeongguk asks. "Yes, come in." Yoongi nods, looking through the papers he was seeing. Jeongguk sits on a chair close to him and his eyes catch the sight of a portrait of the man he had seen in the jungle. "Where were you last night?" Guk's eyes get wide.
"Sleeping, in my room." He says. "No you weren't. I checked your room." Yoongi says and Jeongguk glares at him. "You weren't allowed to do that." "Where were you, Jeon Jeongguk?" His brother sounds really serious. "Does it matter? I'm here now." Jeongguk looks so cold.
Yoongi makes eye contact with him. They both feel the tension because none of them is looking away, as if they are silently challenging each other. "One of these days, you have to tell me where you keep disappearing to. I can't have a wedding with you goofing off like this."
"We're not the ones getting married hyung." "No but you're my brother. You are supposed to be here for the kingdom even more than before. Especially now that I have to take over after dad. How many times do I have to tell you?" Yoongi asks. "I'm already doing my duties."
Yoongi sighs, giving up once more. "The blue kingdom has lost its king." He suddenly says. Jeongguk lifts a brow at that. "A bathe of blood started right after his passing. His children actually started killing each other." Jeongguk's mind goes back to Taehyung again.
"Three of them ran away. Apparently this one got into the forbidden jungle." Yoongi pushes Taehyung's portrait closer to Jeongguk but Jeongguk just stares at it without reacting. "There is a temporary king, we might have to go there to give our blessing."
"It doesn't sound like a two man job." "Jeongguk." Yoongi is about to warn him. "I'm not the future king hyung. We both know dad's order, I'm not getting out of this kingdom." "Dad is not here anymore, is he? I'm the one who gives orders now." Yoongi is annoyed.
"I'm not coming." "Yes you are." Yoongi says. Jeongguk narrows his eyes. "I'm really not." "Keep that up and I'll drag your around with cuffs, don't try me Jeongguk. You can't stay in the kingdom for the rest of your life." "I can." Yoongi massages his forehead.
"Once we have to go there, I'm taking you. You need to find someone, get married, see something other than this cursed place. If you can sneak off at nights, you can manage to be away from the kingdom for a few days too." Yoongi says. He will make him go this time, he will!
Tae closes his eyes to meditate again. Jeongguk has been coming back every night for the past two weeks or so and Tae can swear, he is getting closer to contacting the forest. It is nice having someone- Or something to talk to! Guk pretends like he hates it but Tae knows better.
He is just so adorable and every time Tae tries to hug him or mess with him, he pulls away and starts mumbling things but Tae can see he is just getting flustered. It's sad thinking of how no one has probably ever given him the love he deserves to have!
He might dislike all humans for it but he still saved Taehyung, he still let him talk to him, came back to him every night. He doesn't care what anyone says, he is really happy he got to meet Jeongguk. He chuckles between his meditation when he remembers the previous day.
Jeongguk was acting all grumpy but then Tae jumped on him and they both rolled and fell in the lake and continued playing around with each other. Jeongguk was acting all dangerous but he actually laughed while trying to throw more water at the human.
Tae smiles at the memory again. There is something really bright about the beast. He is actually pretty fun to be around and Tae seriously doesn't get why would anyone be scared of him! There is a sense of familiarity every time he is around. He doesn't know why though! "Taetae."
He opens in eyes and he sees him again. The boy he hasn't seen in so long. His big doe eyes look just as black as ever, his smile looks cute with his cute bunny smile. "Can we play hide and seek again?" The boy asks. Tae's heart feels sad for some reason.
"I don't like that game." Tae says. "Why not? Do you think you'll lose again?" The little boy asks him teasingly. "I don't lose." "But you did, remember? You've never found me ever since we played it last." The boy says and somehow, it shakes Tae's heart again.
"You just cheated, didn't you? You hid so far away, I couldn't find you again." Tae says. The boy leans forward on his knees, his eyes sparkling. "How could you find me when you forgot I even existed?" The boy asks. Tae gulps at that. "You don't even remember my name!"
"It hurts less if I don't." Tae is not sure what he is saying. It is like a part of his subconscious is answering everything for him. "You lies to me." The boy says. "I didn't." "You lied. You never tried to find me. I hate you so much." The boy suddenly sounds so upset.
"WAIT!" He gets up to go after him again but the little boy is running much faster. He wants to call his name but he can't manage to remember it. He keeps turning around, trying to find him again. "WHERE ARE YOU?" He hears a scream and runs to where he hears it.
He finally gets to the spot and sees a big hole on the ground. He looks into it and sees the little boy that just ran away from him, crying, holding another small body in his arms. "TaeTae, get up. Get up." He keeps saying. Is he... holding Tae's younger self?
They are both bloodied but he doesn't know whose blood it is. "TaeTae, I'm scared." The boy says, crying even harder. "Wake up." "Are you okay?" Taehyng asks and the boy looks up, terrified. "STAY AWAY." He shouts. "Calm down! I'm not going to hurt you!" Tae says.
The boy holds Tae's younger body even tighter, looking up with sharp, angry and yet scared eyes. "Stay away from us." He says, shaking. Tae is seriously so confused! "Don't trust him." Tae's younger body says and the boy looks down. "Taetae?" "That man is a liar."
The boy looks up with confused eyes. "He will destroy you. He will forget about you. He never loved you. He will just hurt you and abandon you." His younger self says and Tae is seriously about to freak out. "No I won't. Give me your hand. I get you both out!" Tae says.
He extends his hand to grab the boy's hand but the boy just looks confused. "Don't trust him." His younger self says. The hole is starting to close up. "Grab my hand! you won't survive there!" Tae says but the boy never grabs it. "I'll never trust or forgive you again."
"NO!" He shouts before opening his eyes, panting real hard until he sees the red eyes of the only creature he has been seeing for the past few weeks. "Calm down, it's just me!" Jeongguk says. Call him crazy, but Tae can see the concern in those big doe eyes.
Tae holds the creature's neck and presses his forehead on it's chest, trying to catch his breathe. "Are you okay? You were shouting when I found you." "I just had another vision." "About the same boy?" Tae nods. He starts explaining his vision again, calming down a bit.
He doesn't notice how still Jeongguk is as he tells him about what he just saw. He just realizes how silent he is even after he finishes. "Jeongguk?" "Huh?" "Did you hear what I just said?" Tae asks. Jeongguk looks down. "Yeah... Yeah I did." He says.
"Are you okay?"This is probably the first time Tae is asking him this question and honestly, Jeongguk doesn't know how to answer it. "I'm just thinking." He says and then sits down. Tae moves closer to him and puts his head on him, trying to hug him again.
Jeongguk doesn't fight it this time. Maybe because a part of him is thinking too hard to even react to the touch. "Just let me do this for a bit okay? I might sound like a cry baby right now but the vision was... hard to see!" He says. "I can imagine." Guk mumbles.
"Jeongguk?" He calls its name but Jeongguk doesn't respond. "I feel like a horrible person. I don't deserve to have you here but... please don't leave me alone!" He knows he has no right to say it, he feels it but he still does. Jeongguk doesn't say anything at all.
He just closes his eyes and releases some of his relaxing pheromones. It usually works on other wolves or animals but he guesses it might help on humans too. "Jeongguk? I feel so sleepy..." Tae whispers. "Then just sleep." "If I do, will you leave me alone?"
Jeongguk pauses at that. "Even if I do, I'll come back again. Like always." That is the last thing Tae hears before falling asleep on the other creature. Jeongguk turns to look at him and he can't actually look away. Why? Why is this happening to him again?
The next time Tae wakes up, he feels so disappointed to know that he is alone again. The sun is already rising and he knows that he agreed not to ask why but why doe Jeongguk have to leave every day? This forest is unfair! Why would it show him a vision like that?
His stomach is growling so he grabs some fruits from the trees and tries not to think too hard of the vision he just saw. If only he could actually remember what happened back then! It is all so vague! He looks at the side the boy ran away from him in his vision.
Maybe he should go that way? A part of him feels like he might find something if he does. He gets up and starts following the path he took in his vision to go after the little boy. But after a while, he just doesn't know where he is anymore! And he's thirsty!
He can hear the lake so he just heads to it so he can drink some water. But he just freezes on his spot when he sees someone standing up and getting out of the water, throwing his head back and running his fingers through his hair. His back is toward Taehyung.
Is that... a real person? It looks like he is washing himself up in the lake but he pauses when he hears a voice from behind. And that is when their eyes finally meet. The man's eyes get wider when he sees him and Tae can't help wondering, why does he look so familiar?
The man quickly goes back in the water. "Wait!" Tae rushes to the lake and then jumps in it. The other man is trying to swim away but Tae is not going to just let him go. He swims after him until the man has to swim up and catch his breath. Tae does the same.
Their eyes meet again but this time they are way closer than they were before. "Stop, who are you?" Tae asks. "Stop following me." The young man says and tries to swim away again but Tae doesn't let him go. He will be damned to let him go now that he knows he exists.
The man reaches the surface and tries to run through the sands but Tae runs even faster until he can jump on him. The man tries to push him off as they keep rolling around but finally stops. Tae is right on top of him, panting hard, looking down at the other man. "Got you!"
He doesn't know why he is happy but he is. The man is looking at him with wide and careful eyes. "What do you want from me?" The man asks. Tae finally manages to take a closer look at him and his breath almost stops coming out. He has never seen anyone as breathtaking before!
The man uses his distraction to push him off and try to run away again but Tae grabs his leg and stops him from running again. "LET GO OF ME." He sounds annoyed. "Not until you tell me who you are and how you ended up here." Tae says and the man finally gives up.
Jeongguk just wanted to hide here so he wouldn't have to be forced to leave with his brother. Taehyung almost never goes to that side of the jungle so he thought he would be safe there. To think he actually found him while he was washing up... Tae crawls forward.
"You're not going to give up, are you?" "I'm not." Tae shakes his head, still panting. Jeongguk squeezes his eyes shut and tries to think of what to tell the other human. "There wasn't supposed to be any other humans around!" "I guess I'm just good at hiding." Guk says.
Tae tries his best not to look down and just look at the other man's face but it's hard. "Who are you?" He asks again. "Seagul." "Excuse me?" "Seagul." "That's not a name..." "It is my name." Jeongguk insists, totally not because of the seagull flying away from them.
"Fine, if you won't want to say it don't. At least tell me how you got here!" Tae says. Jeongguk thinks again. "I just got lost." "Everyone does but how did you get in? why did you get in? And when?" "Are you a royal guard or something? Stop interrogating me!"
"I've been here for over a month and you are the only other human I've seen ever since I came here. Excuse me for being pushy." Tae says. Jeongguk gets up on his feet and tries to shake away the sand. "I just got here. I told you, I got lost. I don't know where I am."
Jeongguk is honestly so annoyed that Tae tackled him on the ground like that. He doesn't look that strong but every time he has to, he can actually get what he wants! He lifts a brow when he realizes that the other prince is looking down at his junk. "Have some shame." "Huh?"
the prince gets flustered for being caught. "I wasn't looking!" "You're still looking!" He says and Tae quickly looks away in embarrassment. "I'm sorry, it's just right in front of my face." "It's ten feet below your face." "Cover it up!" "With what? Sand?"
Tae groans. He has never been in a situation like this before and it's hard to pretend like the other man is not naked when he very much is. And when he looks like... well... that! "Let's just go and find something you can use." Tae says. "Why would I come with you?"
"I told you. We're the only ones here. Trust me, you're gonna start going crazy if you stay alone for too long. Maybe we can help each other out to get out." Tae suggests. "I'm going after my clothes." Jeongguk says with a glare and then starts walking back.
Tae follows him and tries to keep his eyes on anything but the other man's as* as he walks in front of him. He doesn't even try to cover himself up... Once they get back to the spot Jeongguk puts on the clothes he brought with himself and then looks back at Tae again.
He knows Tae is not going to stop seeing him now that he has seen him. "I don't know how to get out of here but I know someone that said we can get out once the forest tests us and it's done with us. I think, some sort of self-evolution or something." Tae explains.
"I thought you said you were alone." Jeongguk says, acting oblivious. "I am but... there is this... thing!" Tae smiles once he tries to find the right word. "I don't know what he is but he's super cute. You should see him! He talks. His name is Jeongguk."
Jeongguk pauses at that. "You seem pretty fond of that... thing!" "You won't get me unless you see him. He acts all grumpy sometimes but he's really kind and adorable. He saved my life a few times already." "Then where is he now?" "He only comes at nights."
It's strange to hear someone talk about his in his beast side like this. But Tae is talking about him like... he is an actual person! "Come on, let's eat something and talk. I'll tell you everything. I know how scary it might be when you first get here." Tae says.
Jeongguk licks his lip. Why is he being so nice to him? Is it really because he is just excited to see someone new again? That must be it. He probably won't even need talking to his beasty friend after he gets to hang out with an actual human. the thought makes him bitter.
After all, Jeongguk is just a beast. He has been for a long time and he's lucky he can even turn into his human form. But that is who he is and even someone like Taehyung who pretends to care about anyone he sees will not be able to understand once he finds out.
He actually tells Jeongguk about everything he already knew as they share a food together and tries to give him some tips on how to survive the jungle or how to try and connect to the forest. Jeongguk doesn't need it anyway but he still pretends like he does.
"Is there something on my face?" Jeongguk asks after Tae stares at his face for too long. "Nothing." He quickly says and then looks down. "Just tell me." Jeongguk insists. "You're not gonna like it." "Try me." Tae looks up and licks his lip nervously. How to even put it?
"Your eyes are really pretty!" He says. Jeongguk didn't expect it at all. He is actually a little taken back by it. "Thanks..." He looks down. "They remind me of this boy I knew. I saw him in that vision I told you. He was smaller but he had your eyes." Tae adds.
Jeongguk tries not to smile but he does subconsciously. "Your smile looks like his too!" Tae points out. "My smile?" "Your front teeth, he had those too. You both look like a bunny when you smile." He says. Jeongguk tilts his head. "Can I say something crazy?" Tae asks.
"It's not like it'll be the craziest thing you've told me since we've met." Jeongguk says and Tae smiles wider. Jeongguk hates the fact that he actually feels warmer when Tae smiles at him. "I keep thinking, what if you're the reason I'm here?" Tae asks.
"We just met this morning." Guk reminds him. "You look exactly like him and you just happened to show up where I was looking for him." "You think I'm your childhood friend?" "Are you?" Tae asks, his expression looking more hopefully than before.
Jeongguk just stares at him for a bit but then shakes his head. "I'm not." He says and Tae tries not to feel too disappointed over that. A memory suddenly hits his head. It might be because of the visions, or maybe it's because of spending so much time with someone like him.
"One time one of my sisters were scaring me. She said I was so weak that if dad would die, I would be the first person who had to die so she could be the queen." Tae says. Jeongguk frowns at that. "Jiminie was so mad at her. I told him I was okay but I wasn't."
Jeongguk is still listening. "I went back to my room and I was crying alone. Then that boy came and he kept banging on my door. I let him in and..." He smiles wider. "He was crying." "Why?" Jeongguk asks in confusion. "He wanted to pick up a rose for me but hurt himself."
Jeongguk actually starts laughing at the image. "He said his dad used to give his mom one every time she was upset so he wanted to give me one to feel better but he got his hand hurt by one of its thorns. I got so worried, I forgot I was even upset before." Tae continues.
"He sounds stupid." Jeongguk says. "He was cute. I didn't tell him but I used some magic to help the bleeding. And then he kept asking if I was okay. 'TaeTae, don't be sad. I'll be sad if you're sad'." Tae bites his lip emotionally. He forgot about this memory for so long!
"I told him I shouldn't be sad when my sister was right. I said she was so strong and I was just like the grass under her feet if she was ever gonna hurt me. But then..." He suddenly feels like crying. How could he forget? And why does it hurt so much? "And then?" Jeongguk asks.
"He said if I was a plant, I'd be a flower like the rose he got me and even if she was 'as strong as him, because of course he thought he was so strong," He laughs despite his sadness. "I could still hurt her with my thorns. He said 'She's just jealous because you're prettier'."
His eyes are glossy but he can't stop laughing at the memory. Jeongguk smiles as he listens to it, feeling relaxed from listening to the silly memory that might not even be real! "So basically you're a petal. Pretty but dangerous." "I wouldn't say I'm either of those."
"That little guy must have known you pretty good, I'm gonna trust his judgment." He says. Tae smiles a bit wider at that and looks down, feeling a bit shy for some reason. "I don't know where that memory came from but it just came to my mind." Tae says.
Jeongguk turns and realizes that the sunset is getting close. He doesn't know what kind of excuse he needs to bring up but he knows he needs to go before Tae ends up finding out about his secret. "I... have to go." He says. Tae looks at him in confusion. "Go?"
"I know you said we should stick together but I want to look around a bit... alone!" He says. "It'll be safer if we go together." Tae says. "I'll be fine. I'll see you again tomorrow, right here." "Stay a bit more and meet Jeonggukie first." Tae says.
"Mabe another time." He says. Tae is not sure about letting him go but he knows that he can't force him to stay. "Okay..." He whispers. Jeongguk sighs in relief and then get up to walk away. Tae doesn't get up from his spot, not even when the darkness comes.
"What's with the long face?" Tae smiles when he hears the familiar voice and then looks up. The beast is looking back at him. "I just missed my Gukkie." Tae teases him. The beast snorts and sits next to him. "Really? You seemed awfully happy with that other human."
"You saw him?" Tae asks. "I did." "Why didn't you just show yourself? I really wanted him to meet you!" Jeongguk takes some time to just think. "I don't want to meet him. As long as he is around you, I can't meet you." "Why not?" "I just can't." Jeongguk says.
He is not lying. He is just not saying that full truth. He pauses again. "I know you prefer spending time with him, he is a human after all. The only reason you wanted me around was just to talk to someone and now he is here. I guess I don't have to come back again-" "Don't."
Tae looks a bit mad at him for some reasons. "Don't even start. You said you'd come every night. If you can't be around him, it's fine. I'll be alone so you can come back." Tae says and Jeongguk is really surprised by the response. Tae pets his head.
"He just got here, I thought he'd be scared, I wanted to help him and ask his help if he could help me but it doesn't mean I'm going to forget about you just because he's here." He says, combing the fur on Jeongguk's hair and the beast feels his heart beating faster.
"But he's like you. You said his eyes were pretty, he doesn't look like-" "Your eyes are pretty too Jeonggukie." Tae says with a soft smile. "I know you said you won't come with me when I leave so I want to spend as much time as I can with you before I have to leave."
Jeongguk gulps hard at that. Knowing that Tae still chose to spend his nights with a creature like him when he looks his worst makes him feel like actually crying. But he doesn't. He just lets Tae hug him and caress his furs like he does every other night, welcoming it this time.
"You're not pulling away anymore. Are you warming up to me Gukkie?" Tae asks, smiling widely. "Don't make me regret it." Jeongguk says and Tae holds him with a bigger smile. Jeongguk couldn't see Tae at nights in his human form anyway but it's nice to know... he is cared for!
"Jeongguk?" Tae calls his name again. "hmm?" "I think he was lying." That takes Jeongguk by surprise. "About what?" "I think he really is my childhood friend." "Just because they look alike?" "Because he still had the scar." Jeongguk pulls away when he hears that.
"Right here." He touches the top of his left cheek. "I was there when he got that cut. He was learning how to sword fight." Jeongguk just stares at him, not knowing how to respond to that. Tae realizes how deeper he is breathing. "Are you alright?" No, not really!
"Yeah." Tae blinks thoughtfully and looks away. "I don't know why he was lying but there must be a reason. He was too young, I doubted he could even remember a thing until he actually lied. I think he really is the reason I'm stuck here!" Tae continues.
Jeongguk looks away and curses the forest for doing this to him. This is what he was afraid of. Of all people, it just had to bring HIM, huh? "I don't know how to get him to admit it yet but none of us can leave if he doesn't. He's a prince, he must have things to do!"
He smiles again. "I don't know why I suddenly keep remembering these things. Might be because he is here again. Our moms were friends so we started playing together since he was... what? Two? It stopped when he turned six or something. He was so cute back then!" Tae rambles.
Jeongguk doesn't know how to react. He just listens to him gush about his childhood. "And he was sooo little and he didn't know about genders or how marriage and stuff worked. He once said he wanted to marry me when we'd get older." Tae is cringing so hard in endearment.
Jeongguk is so happy that he is not in a form that his flustered state can actually show. He knows he would be red as a tomato if he was still in his human form. "Did he now?" "Yeah. Jiminie kept telling him that wouldn't work because we're both boys but he never understood."
"Aren't you remembering a little too much for someone who couldn't remember a thing?" Jeongguk is getting frustrated. "I know! The more I talk about him or remember him, the more just come back in my head!" Tae looks surprised at himself too. "Wait! He gave me something!"
Did he really? Tae picks a grass from the floor and then holds Jeongguk's paws and then ties it on his finger. "Like this. He couldn't steal his mom's ring so he gave me a grass and said now no one could say we couldn't be together." Tae laughs even harder at his own memory.
"Sounds a little... desperate!" Jeongguk has to admit. "No! He was cute. I kind of want to see his wife and embarrass him in front of her by telling them how silly he used to be." "What makes you think he's married?" "Have you looked at him? There is no way he isn't!"
"You're not married." Jeongguk points out. "I'm the last child, no one cared if I was married or not. Especially since they knew almost all of us would die when dad would die anyway. His kingdom doesn't require that. He must be." Tae insists. "Or at least, he must have a lover?"
"You don't have a lover." Jeongguk points out again. "Why would I get involve with anyone when I knew I either had to die or run away from the castle? Of course I don't. Hs case is different." "You are so old fashion" "For a beast, you act like you know the outside world better."
Jeongguk quickly tries to fix it. "I meant you humans in general." He says. Tae looks at him for a moment longer and then looks back at the lake again. "I need to get him to talk again. I know the forest wants me to do something related to him. I just don't know what!"
Jeongguk thinks as well, trying to think of what the forest must possibly want from them but he can't think of much. He was so young back then, he only remembers bits and pieces and his hatred. It has been so long, why would the forest bring Tae here now?
"I still don't remember why we started hanging out. I feel like it was my fault? But I don't know why!" He says. Jeongguk inhales deeply. He knows why they probably stopped. Because he knows what happened to him back then. But it's not like he can just tell him.
"He must know though. He wouldn't lie if he wouldn't." Tae says. Jeongguk gulps and tries to think of what he should do. Tae really needs to get out and if he does, they don't have to see each other again. Not that they have to now! Jeongguk just... He just... He sighs.
"You keep sighing. Why are you so upset tonight?" Tae finally asks. "I'm not upset." "It's not nice, y'know? You know everything about me but I don't know anything about you." "What would you want to even know about a monster?" "Anything you want to share. We're friends, right?"
"I don't have anything to say." He looks away again. Tae doesn't push it. He hopes he gets to hear it one day but he doesn't want to make him talk. They spend more time together until Tae falls asleep again. Jeongguk is not sure if he needs to stay or just leave.
He stares at the sleeping man and keeps thinking and thinking. The next time he looks away, the sun is already coming up and Jeongguk knows that it is too late to leave anyway. He just keeps sitting and looking at the sunshine on the sky. "Haven't I paid enough?" Guk asks.
"Years of shielding me from the outside world and suddenly you want to fix a part of me?" He asks again, staring at the forest. "The more I think about it, the more it looks like... even you don't want me around anymore." He narrows his eyes. It hurts again!
Tae opens his eyes and feels his heart beating faster when he sees the other man lying next to him. He really came back! He turns toward him, not wanting to wake him up. The more Tae looks at him, the more he knows that it must be him. He grew up so well! Got more handsome.
He started forgetting the other boy when he realized he would probably never see him again but seeing him again after so long makes him feel so nostalgic. Jiminie would be so happy if he'd see him. Tae can bet that he would remember much more than he does.
Gosh, why does he look so good looking? He can actually imagine how popular he must be among the princesses. His heart almost stops beating when the man suddenly opens his eyes. Jeongguk blinks a few times. "Morning!" Tae tries to cover his action. "Were you watching me sleep?"
"I just woke up too. Just didn't have the energy to get up." Jeongguk sits up and stretches his arms. "You're just lazy." "Maybe." Tae sits up too. "Want some breakfast?" "Can I order whatever?" "I can hunt something and quickly come back." "You're spoiling me." Guk smiles.
"Consider yourself lucky little birdy." Tae says, mocking him for the fake name Jeongguk gave him before but Jeongguk just snorts and waits for him to come back. He sets up the fire as they make the food and eat. Tae is still trying to think of a way he can talk to Jeongguk.


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