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Tentacledipity

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You had…. no idea where you were.

At a familiar tingle that made itself known in your left nostril once more, you cringed and wrinkled your nose—you’d already sneezed once because of the funky pollen from the flowers of whatever kind of orchard you’d managed to crash into, and you didn’t like the look of amusement you’d received from the aliens standing on either side of you when you did. It was as though they had seen a kitten sneeze and were immediately endeared—well, you weren’t a kitten, although admittedly your sneeze had sounded oddly similar. You’d probably find it funny some other time, when you weren’t dead tired and your body wasn’t singing it’s own acapella cover of The Most Pain a Human Being Can Endure While Still Functioning at the Bare Minimum for Survival.

“If you need to… sneeze, human, just do it,” one of the aliens spoke, and you were more than a little alarmed at the fact that they spoke for the first time since you had encountered them in the forest, and that you understood what they said—how? Did they speak your language? You were pretty sure you were about as far from Earth as you could get. Something was fishy here, something was… not right. Perhaps you’d eaten from a tin that was a few lightyears past its use-by date again and this was one very lucid, very elaborate fever dream.

“Are you telling me you don’t sneeze?” was the first thing you thought to ask, picking up on the emphasis that had been put on the word and the way the male’s expression had twisted as he said it.

The alien was alarmed at your question, the freckles scattered over his cheeks like a small galaxy flushing a light violet that couldn’t seem to decide whether it wanted to become pink or blue.

“I believe our physiology prevents such a… reaction,” the male spoke—at least, you were assuming it was a male. They seemed pretty similar to humans, from what you could see. You didn’t know what that meant for you though. “Our bodies have long since adapted to the flora on this planet.”

You let out a thoughtful hum—that made sense, although it would make even more sense if you had some idea of where you were. You’d think someone that had travelled the galaxy as much as you had would have some deductive ability when it came to identifying planets and aliens, but honestly after that crash your brain cells had just about halved and half of four is only two so you weren’t really doing that great.

“Can I ask,” you began, idly flicking one of the many, hundred petals clinging to your form. It didn’t even budge, a stark fluorescent pink against your singed black shirt. “Where am I?”

The alien on your other side, the one that had yet to speak, snorted.  “Are you saying that you landed—crashed here, yet have no idea where you are? How is that?”

You were so busy looking around at the beautiful scenery that you almost missed the words gracing your ears in such a honeyed tone. Blinking, you tore your gaze from the curling shrubbery along the forest floor and turned it to the alien who had spoken. He was blinking back at you with large, dark eyes, freckles across his cheeks and nose a soft, curious blue.

“Do you, uh…” you wet your lips, swallowing before you continued with a bright smile. “You know when you piss someone off, like, a lot, and you gotta run before they try and cut your head off with a butterknife?”

The alien blinked, and you watched as about approximately thirty-five percent of what you had said registered in his brain. Recognition lit in his eyes and he looked to his alien companion, amusement curling his lips.

“Ah, yes, if by ‘piss someone off’ you mean to make them very angry, then I do,” he grinned, gesturing to the male on your other side. “His mother used to bake us goods and one time I took his whole share—I barely got out alive.”

The alien to your left scowled at the memory. “Thief,” he grumbled, “You are the reason I am not allowed into the kitchen while she is cooking anymore. She thought it was me who stole all those tarts.”

This started a whole debate between the two, and you sat back to watch, satisfied for now. You were all still walking, their hands around your biceps in a firm but not too tight grip, but at least now you had some entertainment. It lasted you a surprisingly long while, the aliens seeming to drop their guard somewhat as they bickered and dragged you wherever it was you were going. Eventually the shrubbery, forest and flora began to curl away from the earth and you came across a large, black stone pathway. Your mouth dropped open as your eyes followed the way it curved onwards, leading into a large, looming establishment made of that same black obsidian-like stone that in its sheer beauty and majesty could only be described as a palace.

“Oh wow,” the words slipped out before you could think to stop them, not that you really cared enough to attempt it. “Oh…. are we going in there? Oh I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”

The alien to your left snorted, turning to survey you for a moment. “Perhaps if you posed a threat, you would be in trouble. But we have been able to gather that you are not that dangerous. Clumsy enough to crash into a planet you do not even know, perhaps, but harmless.”

You let out a soft ‘huh’, unsure whether to be offended or not. You were a capable woman, thank you very much! But they weren’t all that wrong in their assessment of you—you didn’t mean them any harm, and even if you did you doubted you’d be able to hold even the smallest candle to their sheer strength and speed. It was honestly incredible how quickly they’d found and grabbed you after you emerged from your shell of a spacecraft. Well, you said emerged, but really you’d dropped out of it—in the landing it had gotten stuck in a twisting, curling bundle of trees and their trunks, in the middle of an orchard of sorts that was in full bloom. Hence, you’d fallen through petal-filled foliage and right onto a thick layer of older petals on the ground that had been shed in the days prior. This was the cause of your current petal-covered, pollen-ridden, sniffling state.

The trip into the palace was shorter than you’d imagined, and truth be told you spent the whole time in awe of the stunning architecture. There were carvings, but they weren’t too intricate, too detailed like what you remembered from some ancient structures on earth. No, if anything the modelling, the design was more minimalistic, but still portrayed class and a certain sense of prestige with the subtle detailing, the patterns and glyphs along the bottom of columns and walls. Somewhere along the line, while you’d been distracted with observing every detail about your environment once more, the two aliens tugging you along lord-knows-where had resumed their previous bickering; apparently the one who had been slighted was indeed still very salty about it. You found it pretty funny to be honest, because you could easily imagine yourself both as the guy that had been slighted and the one that had nabbed the tarts. Thoroughly distracted on all counts, you didn’t quite realise just how far into the palace you’d gotten.

What are you two bickering about, and why are you dragging someone into the throne room?”

You jolted at the sound of another voice, a new voice, that was so silken and honeyed as it caressed your ears that for a moment you thought you’d been brought under a spell of sorts, a shiver running down the length of your spine. Both of the guards started, abruptly halting whatever they were saying and spinning to face the owner of the voice so fast that a bunch of petals were thrown off your form as they did so. It suddenly occured to you that you’d probably left a trail of them the whole way into the palace—a glance behind you confirmed the suspicion, and you couldn’t decide whether to be amused or embarrassed.

“W-we found her in the forest,” the guard that had his tarts stolen said, voice wavering at the beginning from what you assumed to be nerves before it cleared. “In the orchard, and brought her in for questioning.”

“Why in the heavens would you…” the male that had startled your happy little trio began, only to trail off as his eyes fell upon your form properly for the first time just as yours finally swept over him. You felt the air leave your lungs, as though you’d had the wind knocked out of you, and from the shock across the stranger’s handsome face you could have sworn he felt the same thing.

Gods, he was quite possibly the most handsome man—being you had ever laid your own two eyes on. Honey skin, silky raven locks pushed back with some strands tickling his forehead, plush lips and dark eyes that reminded you of the delicacy from earth you’d attempted to make one time—dark chocolate, and gods the way your heart skipped a beat and your stomach dipped as they bore into you was almost more than you could handle. But quite possibly what was the most noticable thing about him, that you’d somehow noticed and then completely forgotten about on the men ‘escorting’ you this whole time, was the luminescent freckles scattered over the bridge of his nose and his high cheekbones, a pretty sunset colour at the present moment. The sleeveless, high-neckline form-fitting clothing he had on allowed you to see that they decorated the skin of his arms as well. The sight made your heart flutter with something strange, something you couldn’t quite pin, and it was a feeling that thrilled you as much as it alarmed you.

It was in this moment that a certain part of you, deep, deep inside of you, decided that you very much wouldn’t mind getting in his pants. The rest of you smacked that part down for the time being—that was a revelation for another time.

“Is that a human?” the male—god, really, as that certain part of you would argue— finally managed to speak, mellifluous voice somewhat lower, raspier, than when you’d first heard it. You hadn’t noticed before but there was a slight accent that carressed the words as they slipped from his lips; you liked it a lot. “…Where did she come from?”

The males holding you still seemed to be stuck in a moment of silence, unsure whether the handsome man was asking about where they’d found you, or where you’d come from before they found you. You decided to save them from their suffering.

“I crashed,” you said simply, offering a bright smile and ignoring it as the tilt of your head made even more petals flutter to the floor from your tangled hair and shoulders. “It was an accident. I’m really very sorry about it.”

The man appeared bewildered as the two aliens beside you jerked into motion once more. “Y-yes. Her craft crashed in the orchard to the east of town. We brought her so the King could decide what to do with her—”

“His Majesty is still currently on leave of absence with the Queen,” the male recovered somewhat, but from the fluttering colours of his marks you gathered he was still a little caught off-guard—your skin was hot where it felt the weight of his molten gaze. “Jin and myself are taking care of such matters in the meantime.”

The two men holding your arms let out simultaneous sounds of realisation, as though they’d just remembered that was the case, and were quick to adapt to the change in situation.

“We leave it to you then, Jimin,” the male who stole the tarts said, grip on your bicep pushing you forward slightly—you sent him a bewildered look before it caught up to you that you’d just learn the attractive alien’s name. Jimin, huh. You turned to face him again, allowing your eyes to sweep appraisingly down his form (you could have sworn his cheeks tinted pink, but blamed it on the lighting) before deciding that it suited him. “What do we do with her?”

The male, Jimin, stood stunned for a moment, like he hadn’t realised he’d actually have to take care of this matter here and now. He blinked, and a split-second later had schooled his expression to a more professional one despite the flustered peach of his freckles. His eyes burned into yours with a new feeling beneath their depths, and you gulped.

“Well…”

x      x     x      x      x     x     x

 

Apparently the best thing the male had been able to think of in terms of quote-unquote dealing with you, was to put you in a room and let you stew there in solitude for a few days. Realistically, you knew he was probably following some sort of process and procedure. You’d learnt after arriving that as a planet and civilisation that prioritised peace, they wanted to be sure you weren’t going to ruin it by being here. You understood that—you also suspected that they were making sure you weren’t a part of the Garrison, as one of the first things they’d done was check your wrist for the tell-tale tattoos that would give you away, were you actually one of their soldiers. You were a little insulted that they would think you were a part of that mess, but at the same time understood that they hadn’t really known you as anything but the human girl that had crashed into one of their orchards from space and then proceeded to trek petals all throughout the palace. But even so, you were so god damned bored that you were three hours or so away from tearing your own hair out so you could use it to knit or something.

To be honest, you were being a little dramatic—your solitude hadn’t lasted that long. By the end of the second day there had been knocking on your door, and you’d been met with the sight of a tall girl with raven locks that fell in waves down her back. Her large eyes were doe-like and filled with mirth and warmth, smile bright and freckles across her cheeks almost always a bright, summery green or blue. She’d told you in a chipper tone that flowed sweetly against your ears, that her name was Joy and she was in charge of looking after you for the meantime. She informed you that she was one of the workers in the palace and Jimin had assigned her to tending to you instead—you found out very quickly it was something she was very excited about, and that Joy was indeed a very fitting name for her.

“You are the second human female to ever come here!” she had gushed, soft hands grasping your own in her excitement, cheeks bursting. “Of course I am excited to meet you! Gosh, I love your hair—is that its natural colour? Most Kelkie only have black hair, that is such a lovely shade—oh I have so many ideas for dressing it up!—"

In short, she was bright and endearing and you loved her—if anything were to happen to her you would absolutely kill everyone and then yourself. In the following days after you first arrived, you ended up spending a lot of time with her. This usually meant that by the end of her visit you had a few new outfits in the silken material of the clothing she and her people wore, and a whole new updo with your hair. You didn’t even know your hair was capable of looking the way she made it, your default if anything being a messy bun or ponytail, no matter the length of your hair. You were eternally grateful for her help however, as without her pointing out the cooler garments in your closet, you might have perished in the harsh heat of this planet.

It really wasn’t that long ago since you’d crashed—maybe a week? You weren’t keeping very good track— but it felt like longer, because this planet, Kilkhea as you’d learnt on your second day with a tinge of surprise, was so damn hot. You didn’t deal with heat very well. Despite the fact you’d been born in a warmer climate on earth, your time in space had all but nullified the conditioning your short time there had put your body through.

You probably should have been a little more surprised, a little more alarmed, that you were currently on the planet of the infamous Kelkie. It would be impossible for someone as travelled as yourself to have made the rounds through space without coming across at least a tale or two about them, but to be honest at this point you were sure you’d heard them all. Hence, you figured you should probably be a little more alarmed than you currently were—but you just couldn’t muster any real fear for your life. You didn’t feel threatened, after all. It was quite the opposite.

Ever since your initial few days in isolation ended, after which you’d been deemed somewhat ‘safe’, you’d been treated as nothing less than an esteemed guest. Each and every need you had, save for the need to get out of the damn room, was met as it arose—clothes, bedding, food, other necessities. It struck you as a bit odd, because they were awfully well-prepared and knowledgeable on humans, and it made you wonder how they came to be that way. The only information you had to go off was when Joy had mentioned you being the second human female to arrive on the planet, and you hadn’t had a chance to ask anything more about that since.

Even with the company, you were getting antsy. It was in your nature to explore and travel, and so as one might expect you wanted nothing more than to leave the room you’d been confined to. Joy did help ease your restlessness somewhat, and as she pretty much your only company you tried to quell the urge to make a break for it every time she opened the door, for her sake.

You hadn’t really been exposed to or had contact with anyone outside of Joy since your first day—you found yourself missing that handsome alien, the one that had sent you to the room like a parent scolding a child for misbehaviour. The thought made you laugh a little. You remembered his name was Jimin, probably couldn’t have forgotten if you tried, and you wondered exactly what who he was to have the power to decide your fate in lieu of the Kelkie King. It made you a little nervous, but you’d be lying if you said there wasn’t a part of you, the one that usually resided in the gutter, that was a little excited at the prospect. You weren’t one to discriminate—an attractive person was an attractive person, you didn’t care all that much for difference in race or species across the galaxy. It took too much energy to worry about those things, and you had better use for it.

Back to the point at hand, you were bored out of your mind. You could only pace your room so many times before you grew uncomfortable with the amount of sweat that resulted. Much to your relief, Joy had come to give you company sometime in the morning and was now using the desk situated by the window to scribble down whatever notes she had to for whatever her job was. You’d have to ask one of these days. Instead of that particular question, however, you found another rolling from your tongue to break the silence that had settled between you.

“Will I ever be allowed out of here?” the tone your voice had adopted was a borderline whine, childish even to your own ears. “I’m so bored, Joy—I can see so much stuff to do from the window but I’m not allowed to do it!”

Joy’s plump lips tugged into an amused smile, your antics apparently appealing to her humour. She didn’t remove her gaze from the papers before her as she spoke but you could hear the smile in her voice. “We are waiting on Jimin-ssi to provide us with new orders. For now, we are to keep you in one place and keep an eye on you. I think that he thinks you might be trouble.”

The abrupt scoff that rose in your throat was escaping before you could stop it. “Trouble? I’m an angel!”

You could see the female’s shoulders shaking from where you lay across your bed, overheated and restless. “Do angels on earth crash into orchards and make a mess throughout the whole palace the very first time they arrive?”

A slight flush of embarrassment rose to your cheeks, your eyes averting to the wall pointedly. “No,” you grumbled, “But that’s not the point! I’m not a garrison soldier, so I don’t see why I have to be monitored and kept in one place like this!”

Joy hummed, twirling the pen-like instrument she was using across her nimble fingers. “I do not think it is his intention to leave you sitting in boredom, miss y/n. He did not tell us to keep you this way on purpose—I think that it is more like he gave those initial orders, and has yet to give more.”

You paused at that, the words sinking in one by one until you were flying into a seated position on the plush cushioning of your bed, appalled and affronted as you burst, “He forgot about me, didn’t he! How dare he!”

Joy looked very much like she was trying not to laugh, her cheeks puffing from the effort and the markings across her cheeks and arms flushing summer yellow. You were a little annoyed and hurt that the handsome alien had dismissed you and forgotten about you so easily, but you knew that was just your pride and ego speaking from a slightly wounded place. You were thankful you had Joy for company, but at this point you’d been left stagnant for so long that you were even missing the two palace guards that had brought you here from the orchard in the first place. On that note, pulling petals from your hair and clothing was about the most entertainment you’d had this whole time besides Joy, and you’d been holding back on that since you didn’t want to put her off and scare her away. Sad, you knew.

You flopped back down onto the bed with a huff, brows drawn angrily and contrasting with the angry puff of your cheeks and pout on your lips. How rude… what kind of rude ass alien leaves their poor human guest mostly unattended for so long? You were going to start acting out like a pet that hadn’t been given attention at this rate.

Back when you’d still been in space, you were never this bored. Every time you even began to suspect your attention or interest was waning, you’d jump ship straight into something else. Somewhat impulsive, yes, but it ensured that the life you lived was exciting and full of fun.

You knew you weren’t a prisoner here, but you were also left feeling a funny sort of way. You were bored, yes, but the usual intense desire to flee and move onto something else was absent, which was very unusual for you. Those two sentiments went hand in hand, always, so experiencing one without the other… you didn’t know what to do.

At the prolonged silence that resulted from your deep thought process, Joy appeared to grow concerned. She paused her writing, turning in her seat to send you an appraising look, her eyes sweeping over your features and the defeated slouch of your body.

“I will talk to Jimin-ssi for you,” she said suddenly, making your head whip up off the pillow with wide eyes. The smile she sent you made your chest feel warm. “Remind him of what he has forgotten. After all, anyone would go a little stir crazy in a situation like this, whether human or Kelkie.”

“Joy!” you burst, grinning wide. “You will? Oh, thank you so much! How can I ever repay you!”

Your dramatics usually went unanswered, but this time Joy’s hands clapped together and she adopted an expression of pure, unadulterated excitement.

“You can let me try this!” she burst, whipping to hold up the paper she’d been writing on—except it wasn’t writing that decorated the page, but an intricate, well thought-out hairstyle that nearly had your jaw dropping. “I have been toying with the idea, I think it is a hairstyle that will really suit you!”

When she was so excited and smiling at you like that, you couldn’t even think of saying no. A bright grin tugged your lips as you responded, “Ugh, alright, I guess. You want me over here or over there?”

She clapped and ushered you over to where she was, leaving the chair for you to occupy, and with a soft chuckle you did as she requested. You’d take whatever distraction you could get, pushing your restlessness to the back of your mind for now. You just had to hope that she would actually talk to Jimin and that you’d be out of this room soon enough.

 

X     x     x     x     x     x     x     x

 

It would seem as though your prayers had been heard, as on the morning of your seventh day on Kilkhea, there was the usual knocking on your door. However, to your complete and utter surprise, it was not Joy that greeted you as you swung it open, but a familiar face that the very sight of had a round of butterflies rioting through your stomach. Jimin seemed surprised to see you, despite the fact he’d been the one to knock on your door, before he schooled his expression once more. You bit your tongue so you didn’t make a snippy comment about how long you’d been left in guest limbo.

“Ah, h-human… You are not in your human clothes?” he queried, tone light and airy, and you realised as his eyes swept along your form that he wasn’t surprised to see you, per se, but rather you dressed in the clothes of his people. You were suddenly very pleased you’d chosen the shorter top and flowy pants combination that Joy had recommended the day before, fighting a shiver at the way his gaze left a scorching path over your skin. You couldn’t help but notice how good he looked today, too—but you had to wonder, did he ever really look bad? You didn’t think so, it didn’t seem possible.

“No,” you answered, silent a moment before blurting, “Am I meant to be…? Joy said it was okay to—”

The male shook his head, silencing you without even having to speak. The freckles decorating his honey skin glowed peachy once more, and you wondered why they changed colours like they did. This wasn’t as awkward as you might have imagined for a second meeting, you were pleasantly surprised.

“No! It is fine, the clothes are there for you to use,” he said, clearing his throat slightly as you flashed him a bright grin. Ah, there it was. He was beginning to grow a bit awkward. You were a little endeared. “Anyway, come with me. I want to apologise for taking so long to arrange things so you could move around and explore the palace— I figure it is not much fun to be sitting in that room alone all day.”

“You’re right, I think my days would be much more fun with you for company,” it slipped out shamelessly and you didn’t even blink before continuing, eyes wide as he choked for a moment and nearly tripped over his own feet as he began to lead you away. When you’d first seen him at your door, you had wanted to let him know just how annoyed you were at the fact he’d essentially forgotten about you, but all that seemed to be thrown to the wind now—something about his mere presence alone soother the fizzling undercurrent of annoyance beneath your skin. The door shut behind you with a secure thud. You decided to continue like you didn’t notice his fluster to save his pride, “By the way, how do you know so much about humans? I feel like I’m at a bit of a disadvantage.”

Jimin wasn’t all that tall, but he reached a decent height as he straightened, marks across his cheeks stained pink and his expression somewhat flustered from your words. It took him a moment to clear his features again. He cocked a brow at you as he resumed walking once more, seeming very much like he was trying to move faster than you and lose you from his tail. Little did he know, you had a massive competitive streak and were able to keep up easily.

“You are not the first human to come here,” he said, amusement colouring his tone a moment later. “Or the first to crash here, for that matter. The Queen was actually one of the first.”

You let out a shocked noise, unable to hold it back. “The Queen is human? Oh shit, that’s neat. But the King is Kelkie?”

Jimin nodded, and you were left to your wonderment for a moment as you strode down a long, looming hallway in brief silence. It didn’t take you long to catch on to what he’d said though. “Wait, you said she was ‘one of’ the first? Someone came with her?”

The Kelkie seemed surprised you’d noticed that detail in what he said, something shifting in his gaze as he regarded you for a moment before he answered, a slight smile tugging plush lips, “Yes, she was with her co-pilot when she crashed. They were stranded here for a while, but after… an ordeal of sorts, the rest of her crew came. I am taking you to meet them now, actually. I thought you might appreciate some human company.”

You couldn’t help the pleasantly surprised noise that escaped you, “Aw, that’s awfully considerate of you! Going to such lengths for little ol’ me. Thank you.”

The male seemed to fluster at your words once more, averting his gaze in the hopes you wouldn’t notice. You barely caught it as he murmured, “You are welcome.”

You opened your mouth to speak, no doubt about to say something else remarkably shameless that would lead him to choke on his words once more, but he was halting and opening two large doors before you could. You let out an impressed sound as he did— those doors looked heavy, man.

The room you entered was large and spacious, littered with comfortable looking furniture and filled with light that spilt generously through long, rectangular windows along the walls. It was a very open space, one you might visit to relax a bit. The scene you walked in on, however, was anything but relaxing.

“This is ridiculous!” There were three males seated at a low table, thick cushions separating their behinds from the obsidian stone floor—one of them was loud and indignant as he slapped down a handful of cards onto the surface of the table, recognition lighting in the back of your mind as your eye caught the picture on the back. He was the only Kelkie at the table, with raven hair and markings that flared between bright red and orange. “Why do I have to pick up more of the cards? This is so stupid! I just put down that ‘plus two’ card! It should be him!”

The male opposite him, a human with blonde hair and fine, attractive features, cackled, “Yes, but he played one on top, and then I played one on top of that—which means you have to pick up six.”

The first male let out a scream of rage, and it was now that Jimin decided it was time to announce his presence.

“Seokjin, it’s just a game,” he said, hand resting on his hip—the cock of his hip in combination with the raised brow… damn, was all you could say. With that slight curl to his lips? Lethal. “Also, is it not your turn to be monitoring royal duties? Today is my day off.”

At the sound of Jimin’s strong, but silken voice as it carried across the space, the male abruptly stopped screaming and all eyes turned to face the two of you. You almost blushed at the sudden onslaught of attention, not prepared for it in the least. You offered a sheepish smile, feeling the weight of at least five gazes—to your surprise, there were another two males, human, over by the windows. One looked to be reading, and the other… building something? What kind of scene did you really just walk into?

Seokjin, the Kelkie who was finding out just how painful the human game Uno could be, was quick to let out a huff, “I cannot stand the mockery when I lose, Jimin. Winning is the only way.”

His dark eyes shifted from the male beside you, to you, and although he was incredibly handsome, his good looks didn’t sucker punch you in the gut like Jimin’s had. Still, you had to suck in a breath through your teeth when he faced you and you copped the full force of his handsome features. The marks across his face coloured a curious blue upon his observation of you. “Who is this? Is this that human girl who crashed in the orchard not long ago? The one who left petals all over the floor of the palace?”

You flushed at that—ugh, you knew that was how they were going to remember you. Humiliating. Jimin was nodding before you had the chance to say anything.

“Yes,” he affirmed, stepping aside so you were more in the clear. “She is harmless, we have surmised. I thought it would be good for her to meet the other humans.”

You sent him a look, only slightly bothered he was talking about you as though you weren’t there, but allowed him continue as he turned to the humans in the room. “This is—”

“HEY, aren’t you the girl that stole a whole shipment of fusion cores back when I was still in the garrison?!”

You jumped at the sudden, loud voice, eyes flicking quickly to the source—the blonde male from before was pointing at you, dark eyes wide and mouth slightly apart. Your stomach twisted at his accusation and you let out a nervous laugh.

“What? No, I think you have me confused with someone else. That wasn’t me.” It was you. You remembered very clearly, it was back in your space-pirate phase, a brief period that occurred after your bounty hunter phase and right before your impromptu medic phase… You’ve had a lot of phases, lived a full life, but you digress. It was you who stole them. You later sold them to rich aliens at a very marked up price.

“No, no I remember faces really well and I remember, it was you!” At this point you had the attention of the entire room, and you weren’t sure you’d be able to convince this man of your ‘innocence’.

“I’m harmless!” you echoed Jimin’s earlier words, making your eyes go wide and bringing your hands up to your cheeks. “Stealing is bad, I would never steal! Does this look like the face of a petty thief?”

“Yes!” the male burst, expression a cross between amused and exasperated. “That’s exactly what I’m saying!"

"You are a thief?" Jimin spoke before you had a chance, brow raised in a somewhat unimpressed manner. You backpedalled, offering a sweet smile.

"Currently? No. But in the future?" you swallowed your pride and sent him a wink. "I'm aiming to steal your heart."

There was a moment of silence as your words sunk into the room before there was a sudden burst of laughter, the Kelkie at the table letting out loud guffaws, and the dark-haired male between him and the blonde man that was accusing you wheezing silently into his hand. You were long past the point of shame. A glance to the side told you Jimin had almost choked once more at your words, and the entirety of his face was flushing a deep pink, marks swimming between bright rose and fuchsia. He was torn between looking at you incredulously and averting his gaze from embarrassment. You presumed the latter won out, because he was quickly whipping around and stalking back towards the door.

"I-I have official business to attend to. Seokjin, she's your responsibility for now," his voice, though still melodious, carried a somewhat strangled quality that you could only assume came from the embarrassment colouring his face such a pretty colour. You had to admit, the pink contrasted nicely with the inky raven colour of his hair and brows. It suited him; you'd have to elicit it more often.

Jimin was pretty good at fleeing the scene, as it happened, as not even a split-second after he finished speaking the heavy double doors were thudding closed behind him and he was out of sight. You bit your lip so you didn't laugh, finding his flustered state incredibly endearing. Was that mean of you? Perhaps a little bit.

“So you are y/n?” the Kelkie, Seokjin, eventually calmed from his raucous fit of laughter. “I like you already. Come sit down, I need help with this human game—do you know it?”

You let out an amused noise as you followed his instructions and took the free spot at the table, the blonde male giving you the side-eye as you did so. You surveyed the cards on the surface and peeked at Seokjin’s hand before stretching and cracking your knuckles. “I am a master at it.”

Seokjin clapped, and the blonde male rolled his eyes. “Excellent! Help me win.”

The dark-haired man opposite you snorted, “I don’t think even the help of a master could help you win at this point, Seokjin.”

The Kelkie ignored the slander, gathering his cards together before shuffling closer to you, pausing only to introduce you to the rest of the people in the room, starting with the blonde beside you and the male next to him. “Oh, by the way, these other humans are the members of the Queen’s old crew—this is Taehyung, Yoongi, and over there is Namjoon, and Hoseok.”

You nodded to each of them, beaming at the blonde, Taehyung, when he sent you a half-hearted glare. “Nice to meet you all! My name is y/n and I crashed here a few days ago.”

Yoongi, as you’d learnt the dark-haired man opposite you was named, let out a snort. “That seems to be the trend.”

You offered him an amused grin, but didn’t get the opportunity to say something before Taehyung was gathering everyone’s cards and starting the game anew to deal you in.

“Prove yourself and win a game, and maybe I’ll forgive you for the lecture I copped from my superiors after you stole those cores,” he said, pinning you with a narrow-eyed look. You returned it with a sweet smile, wriggling in your seat. It was on—you were keen to show him just how good you were at classic Earth games.

Little did you know, it was an art that he’d spent much time perfecting as well— you spent the rest of the day in a proverbial battle to the death, neck and neck to see who would emerge victorious.

You quite liked this group of humans.

Chapter Text

Three weeks into your time on Kilkhea, and you’d developed a culture of sorts with the apple of your eye, Jimin. You suspected he didn’t know how to handle you, your boldness or brazen, shameless flirting. You thought it was cute, the way he reacted—he usually blushed and stumbled, whether over his words or his feet, and then proceeded to make a quick escape as soon as possible. It was all very endearing, especially when he attempted to hide his fluster behind annoyance—you thought there was a word for it on earth, something along the lines of tsundere ? Ugh, your heart was thudding away just thinking about it.

You were surprised and grateful that the Kelkie seemed to be willing to house you for as long as you needed or wanted—they’d offered to help repair your ship, since it hadn’t been totalled enough to be completely written off, and you’d gratefully accepted. However, in all honesty, you didn’t know exactly what you were going to do when it was fixed and ready to go. You’d spent most of your life in space, exploring, adventuring, making the most of your time and trying on each and every lifestyle you could get your hands on for one that would fit. No matter how much you enjoyed it at first, they all came to an end, and none of them sated the longing inside you, the want and desire for something you didn’t know yet, something that was more than what you currently had. You’d chased that feeling halfway across the galaxy, and never had it given you rest. But it was strange, as now, while you were here… you’d yet to feel the tell-tale urge to abscond, to flee, to pack up and move on. You were strangely satisfied, where you were, and the feeling, the idea of it… you weren’t sure how to process it.

You were a guest here, and were allowed to wander around, but due to an unfortunate…. circumstance , in which you wandered somewhere you shouldn’t and ended up breaking something you shouldn’t have been touching, you now had to leave your room with company—which, usually, came in the form of one of the humans you’d met, or Joy, but on the odd occasion that they were all busy or otherwise occupied, the duty fell to the two guards you’d met on your very first day here. Their names were Jongin and Jongdae, as you’d learnt from an impromptu interrogation the first time they’d been assigned to, well, babysit you. You liked them and the fact they already knew each other, and thought it was funny whenever they bickered relentlessly over the silliest things. To be fair, a lot of the time it was your innate shit-stirring ways that elicited such a scenario, but it was still funny and they never genuinely fought so you figured it was pretty harmless.

However, as much as you liked them, you couldn’t help the urge that rose within you to make a break for it the second their backs were turned—you’d lived your life thus far in a solitary manner, and at this stage it was your comfort zone as much as it was a reminder of the crippling loneliness you crossed the galaxy to flee. It wasn’t all that hard to slip beneath the radar of your babysitters, especially not when you left some baked goods from the kitchen on the table as a distraction. It was easier than it probably should have been to slip out the door and sneak away, and you would have felt slightly guilty for tricking them if you thought they were going to get into that much trouble. Neither Jimin nor Seokjin seemed the type to really punish them, though, so you were appeased in that sense and continued on your journey through the castle.

On this particular occasion, you’d gone as far as to plot how to get out, but you hadn’t really planned beyond that. You kind of wanted to check out the gardens and structures outside of the palace, but now that you were out… to be honest, you were a little hungry. Plus, you kind of wanted to explore the gardens with one of the humans you’d met and liked to think you’d become friends with—preferably Taehyung, because he was funny with the grudge he seemed intent on holding, or Namjoon, since he hadn’t been here that much longer than you but seemed to know everything there was to know about this planet and its rulers.

Back to the topic at hand, that being your stomach— one of the first places you’d become familiar with was the palace kitchens, admittedly with an ulterior motive in mind. You were, above all else, very much a woman who lived by her stomach. You weren’t scared of much, or even really scared of death, but if asked one of the most terrifying ways you could think to die was of starvation. A shudder rolled down your spine at the thought as you slipped down a familiar hallway, the route you were travelling being one you had committed to memory very early on. In all honesty, you truly liked the interior design of this place, the runes and patterns that belonged to the occupants of this planet exclusively. It was familiar, in a way, but also incredibly different to anything you’d ever seen and made something glow warmly in your chest upon each glimpse. You really liked it.

Thankfully for you, the trip to the kitchens from your room was not at all a long one. A part of you wondered if your guard friends had noticed your absence yet, and what they would do once they did. They’d probably flounder, then bicker a bit. The thought made you giggle.

Soon enough, the large obsidian double doors that marked the main entrance into the kitchen came into view and you were almost skipping for joy, already imagining the taste of the different foods you might find against your tongue. There was one dish in particular, a dessert you were pretty sure, that was a pretty blend of fuchsia and aquamarine, light and fluffy, and was absolutely delectable in its combination of salty and sweet flavours, with a hint of something else you couldn’t quite identify but loved nonetheless. That had to be your favourite of all the things you’d tried in your stay here, and that was a lot—especially with Joy indulging your every whim and fancy.

To your complete and utter surprise, it was that very person who greeted your eyes as you pushed open one massive door and stepped into the palace kitchens. Inky hair braided back into a low ponytail of sorts, with the rest of her locks falling in waves down her back; her tall figure and animated hand movements were unmistakeable even with her back to you as she spoke with one of the staff. You quite liked what she was wearing today—it reminded you of a pantsuit with slits up the legs and a slim slit down her spine. For a moment you simply admired how pretty she was, with her light golden-toned skin and raven hair contrasting with the deep crimson of the silken cloth. Gosh, at this point you were sure everyone on this planet had won the genetic lottery in some way, it was a bit unfair. It took all your might not to grow self-conscious where you stood in all your less-stunning, less-ethereal, painfully human glory. Sub-consciously, you adjusted the material of your own cropped shirt and flowing pants combo.

You overheard a brief snippet of the conversation, foreign words in a language that was completely unfamiliar to your ears washing over you. You had no idea what they were saying but you liked how it sounded, the clicks and rolling sound…. Hypnotic. You were loathe to break it up but were growing antsy where you stood, and so reluctantly made a move.

“Joy!” you burst loudly, making one of the chefs to your left jump and send you a prompt glare, marks across their face glowing an embarrassed, cherry red. You were quick to scuttle over the few feet remaining between you and Joy and throw your arms around her slim waist. “I missed you! You haven’t come to visit me in days! Weeks! Eons!”

To her credit, the powerful Kelkie woman didn’t flip her shit and attempt to pin you to the floor in self-defence as she had the first time you’d sprung your ridiculous dramatics upon her. No, at this point she was well-accustomed to your antics and barely even stiffened in your hold. The person she had been talking too seemed much more startled, however, if the sharp flinch and loud expletive in another tongue was anything to go by. Curious as to who you’d managed to garner such a reaction from, you swung your head around Joy to peek—and promptly grinned.

“You are awfully clingy,” Joy observed, amused, and you rested your chin on her shoulder, her airy voice tinkling melodiously in your ear. “You are lucky you are my favourite human.”

Jimin’s wide eyes were still stuck flicking between you and where you had your hold on Joy as you slipped your arms from around her waist, taking a step around her so you were by her side and moving the arm to sling around her shoulder. Your eyes swept over him, taking in the way his plush lips were parted and a silver choker gleamed around his throat to match the jewellery in his ears. He was a lot more surprised to see you than you might have pegged, but beggars couldn’t be choosers and you’d take any reaction you could get your grubby little hands on.

“I’m everyone’s favourite human,” you chirped, cupping your cheek with your free hand and batting your lashes at Jimin. The male pursed his lips, freckles flaring between pink and a flushed rose as his brows furrowed and he attempted to school his expression and mask his reaction.

“Where are your escorts, pesky little human?” he managed to ask, arms crossing over a firm chest and allowing you to see more of the rosy marks as silky material slipped from his arms; he was in a deep blue set today, edges lined with black and flecks of silver. You couldn’t help the giddy laugh that slipped from your throat—he was so cute when he pretended to be annoyed at you; there wasn’t a single ounce of bite behind his last few words. “I thought it was clear after that… mishap … that you were to be accompanied in your ventures at all times for the foreseeable future.”

“You did,” you let out a longing sigh, meeting his dark gaze and relishing in the way he shifted his weight from foot to foot, flustered. “But I missed you so much, I couldn’t bear to be apart from you any longer—so I tricked my guard-friends and snuck out.”

You could feel Joy’s shoulders trembling slightly beneath your arm, caught the grin she was trying to hide from the corner of your eye. Jimin’s galaxy of markings flared hot, blossom pink, his cheeks flushing to match, and he jerked suddenly, moving an arm and slapping a hand to his lower back. Your deviant gaze was, surprising no one, drawn straight to the way the material of his top was now taut against his hip bones and stomach. Gods, oh gods for why had this man been sent to test you so?

“You—”

“I will speak to the staff about those preparations you asked for,” Joy, ever the saving grace, was quick to interrupt the male before he did something dramatic in his fluster like choke on his own spit or finally choke you out for being so annoying. You wouldn’t even be mad if he did, you were kind of into that and also you really had been the most annoying brat lately so you knew you had it coming. “I remember Seokjin was looking for you earlier—I will allow you to attend to your duties; I will take care of this one in the meantime. Thank you for your time, Jimin.”

And then, with a smile brighter than that relentless, oversized gas giant the Kelkie called their sun, Joy gripped you by the ear and bowed slightly, before turning on her heel and effectively dragging you out of the room behind her.

“OW!” the noise of pain was torn out of you before you could stop it, one hand flying to see if it could ease the brutal grip the female had on your tender extremity. “You’re going to rip my whole ear off, Joy! I need that—wait!”

You stumbled as you angled your body back to face Jimin, who had something oddly akin to concern burning in the depths of his eyes. That look was quick to disappear at your next action, however.

“I’ll miss you!” you called in the best sing-song manner you could muster through your current level of pain, drawing the attention of most of the kitchen staff who looked on in a mix of curiosity and amusement. You brought your free hand to your lips and smacked them before flinging it away, blowing him a dramatic kiss. His mouth almost dropped open as you beamed, “Bye, Jimin!”

And then Joy yanked you out of the kitchens before you could catch his full reaction, tugging you out the door and down the hall from whence you came in a manner that was neither rough nor gentle. Part way along you journey you let out a whine and she released her grip, making you stumble slightly.

“Ah, Joy,” you lamented, rubbing your ear in the hopes to get the blood flowing once more. You hurried to catch up to her pace, pretending to ignore it when your stomach growled. “Did you have to cut my visit with my beloved so short? Oh, my aching heart.”

Joy snorted, letting out a loud, tinkling laugh that matched the pretty summer colours of her markings. Her long, inky hair swayed prettily as she turned to nail you with a sly look. “Cheeky human, you and I both know that you went into that kitchen for food and food alone. Seeing us there was a happy accident.”

Well, she had you there. You merely offered a sheepish grin in response and she laughed once more, slipper her arm to loop through yours.

“Now come, I have some snacks in my rooms. You can have some while I take your measurements—I had the most beautiful idea for a piece the other day, I think it will suit you splendidly!”

x     x     x     x     x     x     x     x

It hadn’t been all that long since your encounter in the kitchen, really, but in that time you’d noticed a fair bit was going on in the background that you somehow hadn’t caught onto before. Although, that could just be because the buzz had picked up a little in speed lately. You were curious as to what exactly the staff of the palace were organising, but not yet bothered enough about it to begin asking questions. You supposed it was probably just some normal thing you were just overthinking it.

Besides that, you’d sadly also not seen Jimin since your brief escapade into the kitchen—you’d travelled there since, undeniably in the small hope you might see him there again, but had no such luck. Thankfully the kitchen staff had grown fond enough of you despite all your pestering that they were willing to feed you whenever you visited, usually in exchange for some stories of your time in space. For that, you were all too happy to oblige—you greatly enjoyed talking about yourself on the odd occasion, and Yoongi had said once that it was one of the reasons you got on so well with Seokjin. You’d gasped at the time, initially offended, but he was right of course.

Really, you were a charismatic being—you’d managed to befriend almost every single person you’d encountered here, despite the odd vexation that might result at your hands. Almost everyone, sans one person in particular who you didn’t quite know how to read.

Jimin might have given many varied reactions to your advances and comments, but you were still no closer to deciphering how he might have really felt. It was as though you were only scratching the surface, dragging your fingers through and rippling only the barest tip of his being. You itched to dig deeper, to delve into the depths that remained hidden from you for now. The urge surprised you, if you were being honest. You'd lived your life so far as untethered, mostly unaffected and unbothered by the events and situations that flew past you with each day. You were, in a word, carefree. Some might argue you were a little too insouciant in that regard, but comments like that tended to roll right off your shoulders. You were living this life for yourself, and your main goal was to live it to the best of your ability.

So when you were suddenly plagued with such a trivial urge as the one that found you now, a new constant humming in the back of your mind ever since you first met the raven haired male, you were a little alarmed and caught off guard. In short, you had no idea what to do, how to handle it— it had never happened to you, after all. You'd never really wanted for anything, and if you did then your self-indulgent ass was quick to go after it and get it. You were never stuck in a stage of longing, the limbo where hesitance made its home. So this... this was new, and you didn't know how to handle it.

So, you decided to just treat it like every other whim you'd ever gotten.

You wanted to know more about Jimin, the handsome Kelkie who had managed to capture your attention so completely and effortlessly despite all odds. So you decided that since, for whatever reason, it was something you wanted, you were going to indulge in that desire.

That little realisation was about all you'd manage to come to in the time since you'd seen Jimin last, and you were a little caught off guard to realise that you'd pretty much already been indulging in the urge this whole time. Your subconscious was getting a little too out of hand with her desires, you were going to have to pull rank and smack her back into line.

While sorting through your deepest, innermost thoughts might have been something ultimately beneficial, in the time and place you were currently doing it, it proved to be more risky than anything. You managed to return to the current moment just in the nick of time, narrowly avoiding a collision with a large, black marble column with mere split seconds to spare. The person who had been walking beside you this whole time let out a round of loud, howling laughter.

“My god!” Taehyung slapped his thigh, blonde hair ruffled from the force of his earth-rattling guffaws. “Can you do that again? Except actually walk into it this time. It’ll be so funny I promise.”

You narrowed your eyes at him, letting out a huff and strutting forward so you were ahead of him. It was for show, of course—if you’d really walked into a pole you might have passed gas from laughing so hard. Well, if you didn’t get a concussion straight up, that is. You didn’t know what exactly made up the palace walls but it was not to be trifled with, as you’d found out not too long into your stay here. A shudder travelled the length of your spine. If the Kelkie weren’t so advanced with their medicine you might still be sporting the end results of your match with a doorframe across your face. For reference, you won.

“I don’t live to entertain you,” you snipped, unable to keep your mouth from twitching since his laughter really was contagious. Why had you thought it was a good idea to bring him on your long-awaited venture to the gardens? It wasn’t a good idea, it was a terrible idea, and now you were stuck with him for probably the next hour or two. Rookie mistake.

“And yet here I am, laughing at your existence,” the male snickered, and let out another loud, choked laugh when you smacked his bicep in retaliation. Despite the fact he kept bringing up that shipment of cores you stole and interrogating you about the time you spent in your space pirate phase, the two of you had managed to get along quite well. Most of your time was spent bickering but to be honest you enjoyed it.

Thankfully for Taehyung, the appearance of the two large double doors he had promised led to the palace gardens saved him from any subsequent hits. Excitement bubbled within you—you’d not been outside much in your stay here and although you could see the stunning flora from the long, rectangular windows that lined halls and your rooms, it wasn’t the same as being there and really seeing it, feeling it, experiencing it for yourself. You rushed to get ahead and get out, pushing the doors open with all your might and letting out an overjoyed shout when they parted and allowed sweet, sweet sunshine to fall upon your form. Immediately, you felt a bit overheated, but you decided to put up with it for the sake of the adventure. You weren’t waiting any longer to see some plants and grass, damn it!

Unlike the wilderness and natural beauty of the forest and shrubbery that you’d been witness to the day you crashed and were escorted into the palace, the gardens were well kept and orderly, maintained meticulously and with great care. Despite this, there was something about the flora that was just as wild and beautiful as it was outside the walls—there was a path winding through the gardens, luminescent and fluorescent leaves and flowers winding and dangling overhead, hanging slightly over the path just barely a foot shy of the top of your head. Slim vines lined the dark stone of the path wall, tendrils winding and creeping and occasionally curling in a pretty manner across the lines and crevices. You could tell it was maintained, but the fact that the beauty of the planet could not be truly contained and the Kelkie knew better than to really attempt it made you happy for some reason. You’d seen the mess that Earth had become in the last century, humanity a blight that ran everything it got its grubby hands on into the ground. Earth’s environment was in shambles, ruined beyond measure in some places, because humanity didn’t know how to let go, to relinquish their attempts at controlling every aspect of their world. It had always saddened you, the sense of loss that came with the knowledge, but there wasn’t anything you could do to help it. The time to step in and prevent the damage had long since passed, and you were but a spectator to the steady decline of your home world.

It was for this reason, though, that you found yourself grinning almost ear-to-ear as you allowed yourself to finally take in your surroundings fully. You burst forward, away from Taehyung’s side, and let out a soft happy noise at the sight of a large, glimmering turquoise flower surrounded by glowing leaves and vines. It looked similar to bellora , a strain of the peony flower from earth that was taken and altered in space to amplify certain features before being crossbred with another plant from a foreign planet. The end result was a gorgeous flower that was toxic and emitted noxious fumes that damaged your lungs if inhaled, until it was ground and turned into the strong narcotic hallucinogenic drug bellexis. You were quite familiar with it, as you spent a lot of time handling it during your ‘intergalactic black market’ phase and then busting it in your ‘intergalactic defense and policing force’ phase. You weren’t lying when you said you had a lot of them.

“These are so pretty,” you commented, fingers reaching out to brush against the large, glowing petals. It had dots and flecks of bioluminescent colour that shifted with each soft touch of your fingers. “It’s a little weird seeing plants like this that are completely safe to be around—usually on Earth if it was brightly coloured and patterned, then it was dangerous.”

Taehyung let out a soft sound of surprise, having come to stand beside you at some point. He turned to you, and to your surprise there wasn’t a single trace of the usual playful or mocking edge in his eyes. “There are plants like this on Earth?”

You tilted your head, a sliver of confusion worming into your thoughts. “Well, not exactly like this—I don’t think there’s anything on Earth that glows and changes like this, save for a few select organisms I can’t currently remember…”

You bit your lip for a moment before deciding to ask anyway, “You’re from Earth too, aren’t you? How don’t you know this?”

Taehyung suddenly appeared slightly embarrassed, sheepish. He averted his gaze and reached to trail a finger along one of the large, broad leaves hanging over the path. You watched his Adam’s apple bob for a second before he spoke.

“I… didn’t really spend much time there,” he admitted, hand coming to rub the back of his neck. “When I was young, my friend and I—she’s the queen now, actually—were orphans, and taken in by the garrison. We… didn’t actually get to see much of the Earth at all, and although we learnt about plants and flora it was mostly for other planets and systems…”

You tried to stop your mouth from dropping open when he mentioned the Garrison but really couldn’t help yourself. You turned to face him, attempting to get a better look. He presented as entirely too harmless to be a part of the Garrison of all things so already you were in shock, but then his implication that his friend, the current Kelkie Queen , was too… perhaps you were reeling a bit. But now that you were taking a closer look though, you could see the hardened lines of his physique and the firm set to his jaw, the stern angle of his brows as he watched you watch him; you could see how there was merit to what he had told you.

“Woah,” you said, and Taehyung’s features shifted defensively, as though he was waiting for a mean comment to pass your lips next. “I wouldn’t have pegged it—you don’t really look like the warmongering type, if I’m being honest. And to be fair, I can’t really judge—I’ve done a lot of things in my time in space and several of them have been pretty… questionable.”

At this, Taehyung barked out a laugh despite himself, “God, you can’t just say that and leave it—what did you do?”

You fought the smile that came at the observation that he seemed a little relieved that your reaction hadn’t been a bad one. “It’s trade secret, I can’t tell you. I’d have to kill you right after.”

Taehyung let out a loud laugh, following as you moved to another plant that caught your eye. “You pain in the ass, you know that just makes me want to know more.”

You shrugged, leaning in to sniff a new flower this time. You couldn’t help your grin as you spoke next, “I don’t know… maybe ask Yoongi and Hoseok.”

Taehyung let out a squawk, the affronted sound pulling a cackle from your throat.

“You’ve been here for a month, and you’re only just telling me now, but you already told them ?!” he stomped over so you could see the displeasure on his face, although only half-hearted. “Where is the equality?”

“Well I mean, they asked so I told them…” In actuality, you hadn’t told them at all. Considering how long and how consistently you’d been shit-stirring Taehyung, you’d think he’d catch on quicker than this.

The male continued interrogating you, whining as you moved slowly through the garden, your own verbal jabs and retorts thrown in amongst your admiring of the plants that bloomed wildly either side of the path. This trip to the palace gardens was everything you’d expected and longed for, and more—you felt so pleased being around such beautiful life you almost didn’t know how to handle the feeling.

Taehyung had given up his yapping at some point and was now listing the occasional fact he’d learnt about the flora on this planet, like which flowers bloomed longest and which trees grew tallest. You thought that the palace gardens really must have had at least one of every plant on this planet, there were so many that lined the winding path. You followed it happily, a light feeling filling your chest as you did so. Not even the harsh, unrelenting heat of the sunrays against your bared skin could ruin this for you.

The entire time you’d been walking, you hadn’t seen anyone but the occasional guard or palace worker loitering along the path, the gardens serene in their almost emptiness. That changed, however, as you rounded a bend in the path in a surprising moment of silence and your ears quickly picked up the sound of an all-too-familiar voice. Your heart instantly skipped a beat in excitement, grin slipping onto your cheeks as you quickly caught sight of its source.

“Oh my god,” you barely managed to mutter, halting in your footsteps. Fuck, you were fading.

Jimin was bending slightly, hands gently touching a bright fuchsia flower that sat upon a short, dense bush as he spoke to the person next to him—who you quickly realised was actually Namjoon, bent slightly with what looked like a tablet in his grasp as he copied down what Jimin was telling him. Jimin’s mellifluous tone fell upon your ears like silk and honey, and you might have been caught up in it were your gaze not completely distracted by the sight of his plump behind and toned thighs as he bent to inspect the flower. God, oh gods this was too much you were just one woman

“—these are krepa intrica , a flower that has traditionally been said to bring good fortune and soothe the soul with the scent of its pollen,” the raven-haired alien spoke, Namjoon rapidly tapping down everything he said. Jimin straightened and you were so caught up in staring at his ass and then the toned muscles of his back that you barely registered his words. “It is also meant to bless couples who are expecting. We will need to—”

It was as though you were suddenly possessed, the way you quickly moved forward and followed the first urge that entered your mind. By the time the male you’d set your sights on caught wind of your approaching footsteps, it was too late. You skipped up beside him, bringing your hand back and allowing it to swing forward and deliver a firm smack on his behind as you beamed.

“I’ve missed you, peach cheeks!” you sang, watching as Jimin jumped about a foot in the air and lurched away from you like you’d burnt him. Admittedly, a small pang of hurt shot through you at the action but you ignored it for the sake of sending the bewildered alien a bright smile. “It’s been so long since I last saw you one might think you were avoiding me!”

You’d only been playing, of course, but the flustered sputtering and stammering of the male didn’t exactly fill you with confidence. Once more, you pushed the resulting feeling away and ignored it for now—you were here to live your best life and that was what you were going to do.

To your surprise, Jimin jerked and slapped a hand to his lower back, as he had done the last time you saw him. Curiosity niggled at you when you noticed, but you didn’t get to investigate before he was speaking up, marks flushed cherry to match the hot pink staining his cheeks.

“I—you—” he swallowed, turning promptly to Namjoon; the many silver rings and earrings decorating his ear glimmered as they caught the light. “Namjoon, I will speak with you further on this at a later date.”

He then turned to you, dark eyes making your heart stutter and a rush of heat to flush over your body. He was already backing away as he spoke, “And you—g-go to your room. Taehyung, see to it that she gets there.”

And with that, he turned on his heel and made a quick escape, not uttering even the slightest goodbye. You might have been more bothered by it if your attention hadn’t been captured by the fluttering of Jimin’s shirt that looked just a little too unnatural to be the wind. It was as though there was something beneath, pushing against the material and moving under the surface. You didn’t get to continue looking before he rounded the corner, disappearing from sight, and Taehyung burst into laughter behind you.

“Oh my gods, you’re something else!” he was almost wheezing, bent over with his hands braced on his knees. “I’ve never seen him so flustered! You really even outdid yourself from last time—”

You blinked, turning and catching sight of Namjoon standing with one hand covering his mouth in an attempt to squash his own laughter, tablet pressed to his chest with the other.

“What did I do last time?” you asked, eager for a distraction from the slight weight in your chest. The shit you said to Jimin came with such ease you hardly remembered what flew from your mouth even seconds afterwards.

Taehyung guffawed loudly, the raucous sound booming across the gardens, and it was Namjoon who supplied an answer, biting his lip in an attempt to keep his own laughter in.

“I believe you made a play on words and inadvertently called him the quote-unquote alien man of your dreams, ” he said, cheeks puffing as he increased his efforts not to join Taehyung in his chortling.

Recognition sparked in the back of your mind and you let out a soft noise of realisation. “Oh yeah, I did. That was after the first time I met you all, right?”

Namjoon nodded, and Taehyung finally calmed down and straightened once more. His whole body was lax and fluid as he moved, as though he’d just expelled all the tension held in his muscles with each booming wheeze that passed his lips.

“You’re a riot, y/n,” he said seriously, eyes still gleaming with mirth. “But come on, we better get you back to your room before he bursts a blood vessel or something.”

You rolled your eyes, crossing your arms despite the fact you already began to move and follow him. “ Fine . But can we stop by the kitchens on the way back? I’m hungry.”

“You’re always hungry,” Namjoon finally laughed, long legs allowing him to join you with ease. “But so are we so lets go get something to eat.”

You clapped your hands, excited already, and were quick to take the lead and hurry back the way you came. “YES! Let’s go, I made friends with the pastry chef the other day and she said she was going to be making new stuff today!”

The other two let out noises of longing and approval, and began voicing which pastry they hoped it was. This, of course, brought on some bickering over which pastry was best, and you sat back with a grin, just there for the ride.

x     x     x

Just around the corner, a raven-haired male stood with his back against a thick shrub with many tiny violet blooms littering its surface. Their petals tickled his skin where it was bared as he stood as still as possible, raking in long, deep breaths in an attempt to cool his body and quell the urges and thoughts rising within him. He could still feel the persistent presence at his lower back in distinct places along either side of his spine; the slick feeling against his skin told him that his shirt had become a casualty in this instance. A sense of regret trickled to join the throbbing amalgamation of emotion within him, swirling in with confusion, fluster, embarrassment…longing.

This new human was proving to be more trouble than he anticipated.

She was playful, brazen, and Jimin himself liked to think that he wasn’t all that dissimilar in personality, yet with her nothing went as it should. With people like her, he knew how to respond, it came naturally and he built playful rapport easily. But when it was her… it was as though everything that came so easily and naturally to him went right out the window. There was something about her he had yet to pinpoint, something that lit his insides on fire and made tremors of longing travel down his spine. He didn’t know why she was different, why she of all people, of all beings, made him feel this way when no one had before. It wasn’t that she was human; he’d felt nothing of this sort for the current Queen, even before he found out she was Jungkook’s Fated One. It wasn’t that she was female—he’d been exposed to more than plenty throughout his life, she was most definitely not the first he ever met. It wasn’t anything he could strain his mind to think of, so what was it that made her so different?

Jimin brought a hand to scrub over his face, a trembling breath escaping through parted plush lips. He wasn’t one of those uptight Kelkie, the ones that refused to play or have fun at all with another before the emergence of their Fate Mark on their twenty-fifth birthday. Should someone he was attracted to in that manner appear in his life, then he would likely indulge himself—except there was no one as of yet that had ever tickled his fancy in that way. So, with such a personal philosophy, it should make sense that he would indulge the desires currently plaguing him, allow himself to play and have fun with the human that had caught his attention so. Except he couldn’t, because the sense of longing rising and swelling inside him with each time he saw her wasn’t just for her body.

It was for something much, much more— and honestly?

That scared him.

Chapter Text

Not for the first time in your stay on this planet, you found yourself once more overcome with awe at the sheer beauty of your surroundings.

Today was a day you’d been looking forward to ever since Seokjin had asked you if you’d like to tag along three days ago—today you finally ventured past the tall, looming obsidian walls that guarded the edge of the palace’s property. You were going into town! The fabled city that nestled below the incline upon which the palace sat, with markets, stalls, parks, and all the other good things you’d heard of from Namjoon and the other humans but hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing yet. You were beyond excited, quite literally bouncing down the path beside Seokjin. Contrary to what you might have expected, the male was surprisingly unbothered by your sudden hyperactivity. In fact, you suspected from the slight bounce in his step that he was barely restraining himself from skipping down the path with you.

“Where are we going first?” you couldn’t help yourself from asking Seokjin, not for the first time. Your arms were swinging and you felt a bit like a child but were too excited to really care.

Seokjin snorted as your hastened pace caused you to trip on a dark plum-coloured branch that had fallen onto the black stone path and blended in. His arm shot out with ease and stopped you from face-planting, a sheepish laugh tumbling from your throat in response.

“Well, I have a list of supplies I am to fetch. Normally a task like this would be assigned to someone in a lesser position, but since the event is so important it has fallen onto me. Additionally, it occurred to me that you hadn’t seen the town yet and might enjoy the opportunity to venture past the palace walls.”

“Aw, Seokjinnie~” you cooed immediately, your first instinct always to give in to your playful whims. You paused your skipping to latch onto the kelkie’s arm dramatically, nearly tripping again in the process. Was it your shoes? Or were you just incredibly uncoordinated today? “How kind of you, I can always trust you to take care of me!”

Seokjin let out a loud laugh at that, allowing you to cling for a moment before he peeled you off. “I know, I’m far too generous and considerate. Combined with my incredible good looks, it is a wonder I do not have suitors lining up for miles.”

You joined him in his laughter, bracing yourself on his arm. You didn’t bother adding to that since it was already funny enough as is, and in the following comfortable silence the male’s words from earlier caught up to you.

“Wait,” you turned to face the tall male, watching as his raven hair rustled in the breeze and patches of sunlight lit his skin in a golden glow. His dark eyes swept to meet yours, the light colouring them deep chocolate. You were thankful the walk so far had been one that was mostly under the cover of the foliage because you didn’t fancy the idea of being fried alive beneath the full force of the sun’s rays. “You’re going shopping for things for an event? An important event? What’s happening?”

Seokjin seemed surprised at your question. “You don’t know?” he queried, “Jimin didn’t tell you anything?”

At the mention of the male your heart simultaneously skipped a beat and dropped slightly. A surprising mix of a reaction, but one that occurred mostly because you hadn’t actually seen the male much at all since your last encounter in the gardens. Apart from glimpses caught in hallways or through windows, he proved to be as elusive as always. Something that tickled your competitive side about as much as it disappointed you. You just wanted to see the prospective alien love of your life, damn it.

“I haven’t really seen Jimin in a while…” you said, unaware of how your face was betraying your current state of perturb. Seokjin’s keen eyes caught every shift in your features, his lips pursing in concern and curiosity at the sudden drop in your mood. He waited a few moments to see if you were going to continue before he spoke.

“You are… a little hard to read,” he noted, bringing your gaze from the ground to his face. “What are you thinking, cheeky human?”

You frowned, considering whether it was worth telling Seokjin. A part of you wanted to keep your mouth shut, simply because you felt a bit like a fool thanks to your current train of thought, but the rest of you wanted desperately to let it all out and to talk to someone. You didn’t do well with bottling things up, and your philosophy was always more along the lines of the more communication the better anyway, so you ultimately decided you may as well spill your thoughts to the curious alien walking alongside you. Besides, he knew Jimin—perhaps he could offer some important insight.

You mulled over how to word what was running through your mind for a few moments before giving up and just attempting to go for it. “I… I just can’t help but wonder… You know, he seems busy, and I don’t see him much, but sometimes it’s like…”

Pausing to order your thoughts a little more, Seokjin waited patiently for you to continue. You sighed, deciding to bite the bullet, “It’s not me, is it? Is he really avoiding me? Does he hate me that much? I know I’m a little unbearable but still… that shit hurted.”

If Seokjin was perplexed at some of your speech habits he didn’t show it, instead gazing at you with a look that was somehow thoughtful and sympathetic despite the trickle of amusement you caught glimmering behind his eyes.

“I think,” he began, turning his gaze forward as he sorted his thoughts and the two of you continued down the path; you glimpsed something just beyond the trees as you waited for him to continue. “I think… you are something he hasn’t ever encountered before. I have not ever seen anyone interact with him the way you do, so I think that if he is avoiding you… it is because he is flustered.”

You felt your mouth drop slightly, forming a tiny ‘o’ shape. Seokjin continued, returning his gaze to yours; the warmth in his eyes helped to soothe the slight aches troubling your heart a little. “But besides that, the celebration that is coming—it is… incredibly important, probably the biggest one in over twenty sweeps—sorry, years. So it could also be that he is just busy. Jimin and I have received the biggest portion of work for this, since we are the King’s closest and most trusted advisors.”

Nodding, you took a moment to process all that. What he said made sense, and to his credit… actually served to mollify your worries a little. You felt a smile beginning to tug your lips once more, already over the brief stormy spell in your mood. Wow, Seokjin was a really good counsellor. No wonder he was one of the King’s best advisors, as he so often proclaimed.

“Thanks, Seokjin,” you said sincerely, offering him a bright grin. He returned it and you allowed a moment before the curve to your lips turned sly. “Anyway… back to the important topic at hand… just what is this celebration that’s so big and important that the King’s right- and left-hand men are working so hard to organise it?”

Seokjin mirrored your look, and you knew in that instant that this shit-stirring bastard wasn’t going to spill a single drop to you. He cooed instead of an answer, reaching to ruffle your hair.

“You can wait and find out with the rest of the population,” he snickered at the petulant look on your face. “Don’t think you get any special privileges just because you are awfully endearing for a human.”

Accepting that you weren’t going to get any more out of him regarding the mysterious celebration, you instead latched onto the other part of the sentence. You batted your lashes, giving him a shit-stirring grin. “You think I’m endearing?”

Seokjin let out a loud groan, distracting you as you rounded a harsh bend in the path. “I should have known when they told me you were like me that they weren’t kidding,” he lamented, pinching the bridge of his nose and shaking his head dramatically. “I am sorry y/n, but this planet only has enough room for one Seokjin. I am going to have to dispose of you… imposter.”

You laughed loudly at that, playful banter one of the things that truly sustains you. You opened your mouth to shoot back an equally riveting response when your attention was suddenly captured by the sight in front of you. Your mouth dropped open, eyes shooting wide. You missed Seokjin’s smug look at your current awestruck state.

You’d finally reached the town, and it was… beautiful.

Streams trickled alongside the path on either side, clear and crystalline and glimmering turquoise as they flowed between the edge of what you presumed to be a large, two-story homes built from smooth marble-like stone and the obsidian path. The road was a bit more worn as you entered the town, but still made for stunning visuals when paired with everything else. The area you were currently in appeared to be more of a residential one, the path leading to a large circular area in the middle of the section that branched off in main pathways in each direction. From those pathways more would split; short, curved stone that bridged the path to the front door of the homes over the stream, which acted as a moat of sorts around each structure. In the middle of the circle was a small water feature that had gorgeous water flora floating along the bottom pool, glistening prettily as the droplets of moisture caught the light.

“You are so easily impressed,” Seokjin mused, bringing your attention back to the current moment. The two of you had halted on the path right at the entrance to the town where the foliage ended and the buildings began. “It is as though you have never seen a residential section… what does it look like, on Earth?”

“Ugly,” you answered immediately, snorting at the shocked look that flitted across the male’s features. “I mean… some areas were pretty, but those kinds of areas are the ones that only richer people could afford. Most of the population couldn’t afford it, so they lived in places that are… less well-kept and structured.”

Seokjin seemed appalled at that, wide eyes flitting from you to the scene around you. “You mean to say that not everyone in your cities gets the same opportunity for housing?”

You nodded regretfully, Seokjin’s jaw dropping. “Most people live in decent places, but a lot of people live in housing that doesn’t have the main necessities, like clean water, or in a house that is falling apart because it is old. It’s… not great. It is better than it used to be, but there are still a lot of people who live like that—at least, there was, last time I was there. A lot of people can’t afford homes too, so they live on the street. Homeless.”

“That is preposterous!” Seokjin exclaimed, eyes alight with fury at the injustice present on your home planet—oh, if only he knew the half of it. “Everyone deserves the right to live in security! Does your ruler, your government not help them? Do they just leave them to suffer?”

You scratched the back of your neck. “I mean, a lot of people try and fix things but… humans have a long history of shitty actions and behaviours that is hard to undo. I mean, it’s part of why the environment and nature is so shot to hell. Humans ruined it.”

The male seemed to pick up how sad you were about that fact in particular, as he stepped forward and looped your arm with his.

“I do not understand the rest of your species,” he said decisively, beginning to move the two of you further into the town. “But I am glad that it was you who happened to come crashing down into our orchards. I think we have been lucky in only getting to meet the best humans.”

You let out a laugh at that, swinging your arms cheerfully. “True! And dude, even I don’t understand humans. It’s impossible.”

That brought a hearty chuckle from the male, and the two of you delved into another conversation as he led you further into the city and pointed everything out to you as you moved by it.

As the morning passed and you spent it following Seokjin around as he went to gather everything he had on the sneaky list he never let you fully glimpse, you began to grow familiar with the market portion of the town. Stalls upon stalls set up for trade, bigger boutiques and kiosks nestled into small buildings that provided shelter from the sweltering sun. While you moved through the slight crowd and cheerful chatter that filled the air, many things caught your eye, and Seokjin actually ended up purchasing a dress for you—not because you asked him to, but because he saw it and proclaimed quite loudly that it would suit you so well it was “practically made for you”. The vendor was a sweet elderly kelkie with what looked to be a tattoo curling up her neck and peeking over the edge of her jaw. When she caught you looking at it she smiled in amusement, but her attention was quickly taken by an elder male that sidled up to her with a fond look, running his hand across her shoulder and speaking to her in the native tongue you still had no idea how to understand. To your complete and utter curiosity, you noted that he had a matching tattoo in the exact same place in the exact same style. You knew better than to ask or comment on it, but couldn’t help but think to yourself how sweet that was. Ah, love. Marvellous to behold, truly.

You tailed after Seokjin like an awestruck little duckling, having to grasp the end of his shirt so you didn’t get lost. Despite how many stores and stalls he visited, the pile in his arms wasn’t that big. You supposed a lot of the things he had gone for were things that would need to be ordered and delivered to the palace for the mystery celebration. It was really burning you alive, not knowing what was going on, but you supposed that if even the people inhabiting the town by the palace didn’t know then you could bear to wait a little longer. It wasn’t like you were that left out of the loop.

As Seokjin neared the end of his list, you found yourself more than a little saddened that your trip was soon to come to an end. This was the first time you’d really been out of the palace and in all honesty, you thought you were in love with the town and the sweet townspeople who shot you bright smiles despite the fact you were very obviously not even from their planet. You knew as soon as you returned to your room in the palace that you were going to feel a sense of loss and emptiness. Now that you’ve tasted freedom, could you go back to what you had before? That sounded a bit dramatic, but all you meant was would you be able to resist the urge to sneak out every so often?

The answer was a very obvious no, and while you didn’t care that you were sneaking out you were a little regretful in advance for the scoldings you were going to get. Inevitable, you supposed. Couldn’t be helped.

A few of the stalls you’d passed had piqued your interest a little, but none so much that you had the urge to stop Seokjin and investigate. You were very much aware this was more of a sight-seeing trip than anything—hell, you didn’t even have any of whatever currency the Kelkie used. Actually, you take that back a little. You’d found out today that a lot of stalls aren’t that strict on the currency. Many will settle for a trade. The thing is, you didn’t think you had anything of worth to trade. Sad times in the y/n kingdom, it seemed.

Things changed when you began on your way out of the market area though, as you turned with Seokjin and caught sight of something glimmering in your peripheral. You halted on the spot, head whipping and a loud gasp tearing from your lips. Was that… jewellery? Seokjin, who had halted when you did, seemed amused that the thing that had finally caught your attention after a morning of wandering was sparkly metals and jewels.

You’d planned on just staring at the door to the boutique, and jumped when Seokjin spoke, his voice closer than you’d anticipated.

“You want to go have a look?” he queried, grinning when you turned to him with wide eyes shining hopefully. “Alright, let us go.”

You couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across your face, eager to follow the tall male into the boutique and keep up the duckling act from earlier. The outside was a sleek mix of black, navy and white marble-like stone, a sign of similar material placed by the door and engraved, with the letters painted pretty silver to stand out against the inky colour of the backing. You couldn’t read it, of course, but were happy to go and investigate nonetheless. Discoveries were more exciting when you had less clues as to what they were!

A soft tinkle rang above you as the two of you entered, the inside of the store painted a smooth, deep teal colour on some walls and stark pearl on others. There were rows of jewellery along the walls and on the short aisles in the middle of the room, but some of them looks peculiarly shaped and you weren’t sure what they were for… until you glanced one in particular with a barbell-like sculpt and realised belatedly that this was both a jewellery and piercing boutique. Your surprise must have shown on your face because Seokjin ended up laughing softly from beside you.

You were startled from your keen observations of the pretty jewels by a low voice from deeper into the store. Jumping in fright, your gaze whipped up; further towards the back there was a counter, more jewellery displayed on shelves beneath, and a tall Kelkie male who possessed broad shoulders, deep golden skin and a cheery smile. He was speaking in the language native to Kilkhea, if the familiar clicks and rolling sounds were anything to go by, and his gaze was flicking between you and Seokjin. He seemed pleased to see the advisor, marks across his cheeks and arms flushed calm blue.

To your surprise, in your curious observation of his features you found he had a number of piercings. Two jewels embedded in the skin under the outer edge of each eye, large, thick silvery hoops in his ears and a piercing just below the plump flesh of his bottom lip, the metal supporting a thin charm that dangled prettily against his chin as he talked.

The conversation went right over your head as Seokjin let out a laugh and responded in kind, patting your shoulder as he said something that was no doubt about you.

You let your gaze wonder as they conversed, brought back to the present when Seokjin suddenly addressed you.

“y/n, this is Hyunwoo,” Seokjin said, smiling big. “He is the town’s main jeweller and responsible for clan piercings.”

The male said something suddenly, a teasing lilt to his voice, and the Kelkie beside you snorted. “He says to call him Shownu since that is what everyone calls him anyway.”

The male nodded, satisfied, and you couldn’t help the soft laugh that escaped you. “It’s nice to meet you, Shownu! I’m y/n.”

Seokjin translated for you, and Shownu nodded at you once more with a smile. The raven-haired male beside you turned to face you in question.

“Does your clan participate in piercings?” he queried, tilting his head. “Do humans do something similar to this? You seemed like you recognised some of these…”

“Yeah, humans do it,” you affirmed, allowing your gaze to sweep over the contents of the shop before returning to Seokjin. “But I’m not sure what you mean… my clan? Do you mean my family?”

The male nodded, taking initiative to fill you in further at the sight of your confused expression. “It is tradition here for some clans—some families—to get a certain set of jewelleries and piercings on their twenty-fourth birthday. Shownu was the one who did mine— my clan does not have many interesting ones, save for the, uh… ears, and here…

You weren’t sure what you had expected him to show you, but it certainly hadn’t been his tongue. He slipped it past his lips, and you nearly fell over in shock as you registered the sight of the pearlescent metal sitting in the middle of the flushed muscle. What the hell—had that been there the whole time?! And you didn’t even know?!

He returned his tongue back to its place, letting out a loud laugh at your shaken expression. “It was funny to show the other humans that too,” he admitted, incredibly amused. “For some reason, you never expect it.”

“It’s probably because you don’t look like the type of person who would get it back on Earth,” you said, grinning. “We don’t really get them to continue tradition, a lot of people get them just because they want them or think they’re pretty.”

Seokjin nodded, “Ah, that is true of some people here too. Do you have any, y/n?”

You nodded, pulling your hair back to show him the rings and studs in your ears. “I always wanted to get ones in other places, but I was a little scared… plus I never got the time to get them on earth, and I’m not about to look for reputable piercers in the back rooms of interspace stations.”

The Kelkie snorted at that, peering curiously at your ears and nodding in approval at what he observed. Shownu’s eyes seemed to light up as he caught sight of your bejewelled ears, beckoning you closer so he could have a look. You moved over without complaint, leaning so he could inspect the metal and jewels easier. You could hear him muttering to himself every so often, fingers softly prodding and nudging as his marked shifted shades of blue.

“Understandable,” Seokjin said, amusement curling in his tone. “But if you wanted them… why not get one here? There are many arrays to choose from.”

You fixed him with a pondering look, chewing your lip. “Would that even be okay?” you asked, worried about overstepping your bounds as a foreigner—as an alien on this planet. “Aren’t they important to you and other kelkie?”

Seokjin shrugged. “They are a rite of passage, but they are not especially meaningful aside from that. Often, they are just a marker of adulthood, and which clan you belong to. Still, some Kelkie pierce as they like. You’re human, so you are not really bound to any of our traditions. I think if you chose something, the clan that possesses that piercing would probably feel honoured you chose it.”

You hummed, mulling that over. His words soothed your worries somewhat, and as you turned your gaze over the jewels and pieces before you, your mind filtered back to the one you’d noticed earlier. The barbell, commonly used for navel piercings… something in your gut urged you towards that, and as someone that more often than not followed her instincts above all else, you were inclined to choose it.

“Do you… are there any, for here?” you queried, lifting your shirt and pointing above your bellybutton. Seokjin tilted his head, something curious yet unreadable curling in his gaze. Shownu grinned, shifting in excitement as he moved to grab a box from the top shelf behind him, bringing it back before you. Opening it, you were exposed to a soft cushion displaying a number of beautiful, intricate barbells with charms and jewels. You couldn’t help your gasp.

“Your…?” Seokjin said something in his mother tongue that you had no idea how to interpret but hazarded a guess as to what he meant. “Are you going to get it? We have time.”

“We call it a bellybutton,” you informed him, and he nodded in understanding with the slightest bit of perplexment, possibly at the name itself. Excitement began to curl within you at the possibility of finally getting to do this after hoping for it all your teen years, but you came crashing back to the present as you remembered part of why you hadn’t done it before.

“Ah, but I don’t have any money,” you said, taking a step from the counter and shooting Shownu an apologetic look. “I’m sorry, I can’t believe I forgot.”

Shownu shook his head, giving you a kind smile. Seokjin said something to him, receiving a rapid response and a smile. He turned back to you grinning brightly.

“He says that he is happy to trade in the stead of currency.”

You could feel you face lit up, before you realised your predicament in that sense as well. You sighed, “I don’t have anything to—wait!”

Your sudden exclamation had both males straightening, looking on curiously. You reached under the material of your shirt, with a little difficulty thanks to the high neckline, and fished around until you found what you were looking for and unclasped the two chains that found their way into your grasp. Shownu’s eyes lit up as you pulled the necklaces from your shirt, both gold and decorated with a different jewelled charm each. They weren’t really anything special, just things you’d once gotten from a prospective suitor and thought were pretty enough to keep.

The Kelkie chattered excitedly as he took them into his hold, waving his free hand at Seokjin as he inspected them eagerly. You wondered if he was so interested because almost all of the jewellery Kelkie had was of variations of silvery metal.

“He says this is more than enough for just the piercing—is there anything else you want while we’re here?” Seokjin translated, seeming proud of you in the way you presumed a mother would be of a child who was making their first purchase.

Excited, you let your gaze wander and your mind run. Was there anything you wanted in particular? You didn’t really feel any extra need for jewellery now that you were getting one in your navel, but you didn’t want to waste the opportunity…

Your pondering came to an abrupt end when you caught sight of something to the side, something that almost seemed to glow in a bid to catch your attention. You gasped softly, moving over to inspect it closer.

It was a necklace, the chain consisting of thickly woven silver links, intertwined with a molten-grey metal you didn’t think you’d seen yet. The silver was almost pearlescent, resembling mother of pearl more than it did actual silver from your home planet, but was firm beneath your touch. The thick chain was connected by a single large hoop of a slightly cooler silver, which was engraved lightly with patterns and swirls. It was stunning, magnetising, and upon looking at it, it immediately reminded you of a certain someone.

“Wow,” you said, unable to stop your words from flowing. “This would look beautiful on Jimin…”

Ignoring Seokjin’s look of surprise, you turned to Shownu and gestured sheepishly. You expected this to be out of the price range for the trade, but figured you may as well ask. “Would this be too much…?”

Snapping out of his stupor with a strange glint in his eye and an amused curl to his tone, Seokjin relayed your question to the jeweller. Shownu instantly shook his head, offering you a smile. You weren’t sure of the answer he gave you until the Kelkie by you translated once again.

“No, he says that meets it perfectly.”

Shownu hurried to come and grab it for you, holding it gingerly as he came to place it into a small, cushioned case made of a stone that, oddly-enough, reminded you of some sort of jade. Surprised that everything was coming together so easily for you, you couldn’t stop the big dumb grin from tugging your lips.

“You know, with a gift like that, one might get the wrong idea,” Seokjin was teasing you, you knew it, but still you couldn’t help but rise to the bait.

“What wrong idea? I’m clearly trying to woo him!” you shot back, your response eliciting a cackle from the tall Kelkie. Shownu spared the two of you a fond smile as he finished tucking away the necklace, pushing it towards you in its closed case and saying something to Seokjin.

The male brightened, turning to you with a grin as you took the case into your hold, relishing the comforting weight. “Well, that will have to wait for now, cheeky human. You have a… a belly… bellybottom to pierce.”

You burst into laughter at Seokjin’s slip up, hastily going to correct him as Shownu led the two of you to a room towards the back that you hadn’t even noticed until then. The male’s cheeks heated but he took the embarrassment graciously, laughing with you as you continued snorting and prepared for the piercing.

You definitely weren’t letting go of that one any time soon.

x    x     x     x     x     x     x

 

As you’d expected, your return to the palace had brought on a certain sense of emptiness after experiencing what was beyond the walls. It had been a few days now, and although you wanted to get out you hadn’t really wanted to venture into town without an escort when you had no money and couldn’t speak the language. So to settle somewhat, you’d slipped past poor Jongin and Jongdae again and snuck to a certain part of the gardens you’d discovered a while ago. You really ought to make them something for their troubles—you were sure their life was much more stress-free before you rocked up.

You liked this little spot; it was nestled in one of the corners of the garden that followed the wall by the back of the palace, not too far from the kitchens now that you actually thought about it. Perhaps that added to the charm. Even so, without taking its alluring closeness to a food source into consideration, the spot had its own charms. The corner itself consisted of thick hedges with deep blue leaves and stunning magenta and cream flowers, the obsidian wall that marked the end of palace property looming close behind it. The earth was soft and plush beneath your feet, soil rich and no doubt part of the reason the main tree that had grown there had grown to be so tall and thick in diameter. The wood was peculiar, in that it was incredibly supple yet completely sturdy at the same time, and it grew in curls and curves. This meant that it was an absolutely ideal tree for climbing, but you didn’t quite have the energy for that today. You were a bit bummed, and it wasn’t entirely because you missed the town.

You had a feeling Jimin was avoiding you again.

Well, either that or he was so ridiculously busy that he had no time for anything but sleeping eating and work. You’d been trying to track him and chase him down for days to give him the present you got for him at Shownu’s shop, but to his credit he was very hard to track. You pulled out all the stops you could think of and yet here you were, no closer to catching him and instead sulking about your failure beneath a tree as you laid sprawled across the ground. You probably looked as pathetic as you felt.

You let out a sigh, patting your stomach absent-mindedly and brushing your finger over the slight bump beneath the silky material of your shirt. You’d gotten the piercing expecting to get a lot of pain and limiting instructions afterwards, but to your complete and utter surprise it was quite the opposite. After piercing you, Shownu had cleansed the site with a teal-coloured liquid that shimmered green beneath the light. It stung for the barest of moments before every single sensation of pain disappeared completely. You felt the flesh tingle and watched, wide-eyed, as it appeared to heal before your eyes. Kelkie medicine was truly something else, and you were forever thankful that you’d crash landed on this planet of all possible planets.

Shownu had simply told you to be extra mindful of it for the next week but that after that, it would be completely fine. The mixture he used sped up the healing process almost entirely, something you could barely wrap your head around, and meant that you didn’t have to face a lot of the possible complications you knew could come with these sorts of things. You’d thanked him profusely, immensely pleased with how good the piercing looked, especially with the jewellery you’d chosen, and had made sure Seokjin told him how much you liked it and appreciated it. Seeing how pleased Shownu was at your words made Seokjin’s sassy eyerolls worth it.

 

Back to the source of your current lamentation, you’d left the parlour with a new piercing and a pretty necklace in a jade giftbox—a necklace you had still been unable to give to the person it was meant for.

Another sigh escaped you, eyes staring absently into the foliage above. Ah, nothing like becoming one with nature and disassociating as you attempted to sort through your thoughts and feelings. A classic move in your emotional organisation repertoire.

You’d come here for solitude, but despite that… you were actually feeling a bit lonely. Was it possible to want to be alone and around people at the same time? Because you were feeling that. Perhaps it was the slightly bummed turn your thoughts had taken that had you feeling this way. You closed your eyes, trying to clear your mind and start again so you felt less crummy. You didn’t get very far before something interrupted your concentration and scared you shitless.

“Connecting to a higher power, are we?”

You yelped loudly, eyes flying open and body lurching away from the source of the noise— a snickering Min Yoongi of course. You glared at the offending male, tempted to roll away and turn your back to him like a child.

“And what if I am?” you ask snidely, crossing your arms. “Shouldn’t you leave—I thought they didn’t allow creatures of the night into holy places, you little gremlin.”

Yoongi cackled at that, thoroughly amused, and took the invitation you most definitely didn’t give to sit beside you, leaning back against the thick trunk of the tree. Still, despite what the pout on your face might have him believe, you shuffled over to give him more room. The two of you sat in comfortable, amicable silence as his chuckles gradually calmed down, soaking in the serenity that came with such a beautiful segment of nature like the one that surrounded you now.

“So,” he began after a while, voice low above you. You didn’t bother looking to meet his eyes, it would have been too much of a struggle with the angle you were at. “What’s got you all mopey, peach cheeks?”

You groaned, fighting the urge to smack the male as he snickered softly at your expense. Yoongi looked cool and chic at first glance, but really that was just a front and he was just a goblin. Pouty whiny baby. He was fun to tease but a little too good at teasing you back, if anyone asked you. Well… perhaps that was a bit of a fib. You liked the playful banter he provided, and the fact he gave it back as good as he got. Kept you on your toes, you know?

“My prospective alien boyfriend is avoiding me,” you said, amping up the exaggeration colouring your tone because you knew he’d appreciate the humour in it. He did, letting out a snort.

“What’s new?” he snipped, before letting out a yelp as you smacked him on the thigh closest to you. “Ow! Alright sorry I didn’t mean it. Why is he avoiding you?”

“I don’t knooooooooooow,” you moaned pitifully, thrashing your arms a little like a toddler. “I’m just trying to give him this damn present I got him but he keeps turning tail and running every time he sees me, and I don’t even know if his cheeks are red because he’s blushing or because he’s exhausted from running away from me.”

You risked a glance upwards, and to his credit, Yoongi looked like he was trying very hard to contain the laughter attempting to climb his throat.

“What did you get him?” he asked after schooling himself a little, seemingly unable to contain his curiosity. You huffed, averting your eyes as you mumbled your answer.

“… a necklace.”

As expected, Yoongi let out a snort; it was as though you could feel him rolling his eyes. “Geez, careful y/n, give him a gift like that and he might think you like him or something.”

You sent him your best deadpan look, contorting your neck just to pin him with it face-on. He seemed entirely too amused with himself and it kind of really made you want to smack him. You didn’t even need to respond—you were pretty sure that not only Jimin but probably half the palace knew that you liked him by now. You blanched mentally for a moment—you hadn’t really realised it until now, but somewhere along the line in your stay here you’d progressed from simply finding Jimin attractive and voicing it to actually… liking him. Like, like-liking him. Oh god, was this a crush? Your stomach fluttered at the mere mention of his name, your heart jumped whenever he looked your way—you’d even gone and bought him jewellery without so much as a second thought.

Oh, this…. You were whipped.

Choosing to ignore that startling revelation for a moment, you released your neck from its twisted position and returned to staring mournfully at the foliage above you.

“Not that it matters, anyway,” you couldn’t help the sigh that huffed past your lips. “I can’t even find him to give him the damn thing in the first place.”

At this, Yoongi was silent for a few moments—you took the opportunity to bask in the moment a bit, taking note of the different sounds of nature that filtered through the air to brush your ears. Soft chirps from the small, violet-feathered, birdlike creatures that nested in the nooks and niches hidden in the curling wood of the tree’s branches and trunk; the faint rustling of the leaves and the soft creak of the thick, winding limbs as they swayed with the breeze. The patches of sunlight that managed to reach your form beneath the canopy were warm as they soaked your skin, but thankfully not unbearably so in such small doses. You didn’t doubt that if you weren’t mostly under the shade you’d feel like an overcooked meal by now, though.

“Well…” The sound of the male’s slow drawl brought your attention back to the conversation at hand as he began to speak, “Who says you have to give it to him in person? You could always leave it somewhere for him.”

You huffed, crossing your arms over your chest. “That’s the coward’s way out,” you grumbled, crossing one leg over the other to match your arms. “How would he know it’s from me?”

Snorting at your apparent view on gift-giving and how it should be done, Yoongi leans over to peer at you, albeit upside down. “Uh, leave a note? I’m sorry, I forgot you lost most of your brain cells when you crashed here. I’ll try and be a little bit more considerate.”

Whining, you smacked him on the leg—apparently the response he was expecting since he burst into laughter as soon as you did it.

“Okay yeah, you’re not wrong about that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t write or even read k-kelk—kelkoe? Whatever it is people speak here.”

You peered back in time to catch Yoongi’s nonchalant shrug. “Namjoon knows a little, why not just ask him to help?”

You opened your mouth to protest but the words died on your tongue as you allowed yourself to consider it for a moment. That… wasn’t such a bad idea, actually. Plus, Namjoon might tease you a little but at least he wouldn’t be a little gremlin about it like Yoongi or Taehyung.

“… Alright, perhaps that’s not a bad idea…” you admitted, begrudgingly. Yoongi’s featured brightened and you were witness to a sudden shit-eating, gummy grin.

“Admit it, I’m a genius,” he boasted, leaning over you to stare at you smugly. You groaned but couldn’t keep the laugh that followed from escaping.

“Never!” you refuted, reaching to smack his thigh once more. “Stay humble, if your head gets too big the few brain cells you have will get lost.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes, rubbing his thigh where you got him; it wasn’t a hard hit at all but you managed to get him in one of the areas where the sensation lingered a bit. “Oh, you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?”

A retort already bubbling up your throat, you sat up so you could argue a bit better. Yoongi resembled a smug cat as the two of you bickered, unaware of the eyes that watched from beyond the shrubbery, boring into you from one of the palace rooms that peered over the gardens.

x     x      x     x     x

 

Jimin shouldn’t be as angry as he was.

Really, he had no right. There was nothing tying him to you, or you to him—nothing that staked any sort of claim over you on his behalf. Based on this, even if he found you attractive, he should not have been feeling what he did, to the degree that he did.

Catching sight of you and one of the humans from the Queen’s crew, Yoongi, wasn’t something he had expected to spark a raging inferno of emotions within him. And yet, the second he glimpsed the scene in the far corner of the gardens, he’d been almost over-encumbered with too many feelings to name; yet one in particular was sure to rear its head and make itself known.

Jimin refused to accept that the sight of you with Yoongi had made him jealous.

Ridiculous, it was ridiculous. Ever since you’d arrived here everything had been out of whack for him—nothing had gone as it should, as it was expected, as it always had for years before your arrival. You were a threat to the knowledge he thought he had of his world and way of life—the knowledge he thought he had of himself. Jimin knew that in years past he had proven himself to be a Kelkie of exceptional control, yet the second you drew too close to him, the second your eyes met his or your alluring scent brushed his nose, he felt the limbs hidden in his back stirring to life and fighting to be free like he was some inexperienced fledgling. With your presence in the palace he was living on his toes, and the only way he’d managed to save face thus far was because he’d taken to doing his best to avoid you—something that while achieved its purpose had him feeling bittersweet. Despite the barest relief he felt, he actually found that he missed you. He couldn’t believe the audacity of his heart that it longed for you even after all the trouble you’d given him so far.

At first he had tried avoiding you simply to save himself from acting in an embarrassing manner, but lately it had been for a somewhat different reason. He could sense it lingering in the air that you moved through, could catch the new sweet undertone to your scent as it touched his senses—he didn’t know much about the human cycle apart from what the Queen had once told him, but he could tell—was acutely aware— that you were at the peak of yours. You had been close a few days ago, and he had no doubt that today you were at the height of your fertility; and he hated that he knew that, that he was so finely attuned to you in a way he never had been to anyone else. The pheromones you didn’t even seem to realise you were emitting permeated the air wherever you ventured, and shamefully even the sight of you through the window had a knot of longing forming in the pit of his abdomen. It was even more out of hand than usual with the state your body was in and he didn’t think he would last very long at all if stuck in the same room as you.

Which, incidentally, is exactly what he would be tonight.

The kitchen staff had thrown together a mock-up run of the dishes and foods that they were considering for the celebration coming, and Seokjin had insisted that everyone gather at once to try them—although he hadn’t gotten around to telling everyone yet. Jimin suspected that the male missed the nights where everyone would dine together, including the King and Queen. Knowing that, he hadn’t had the heart to refuse him, even when he realised this meant he would be stuck dining a few feet away from the human that had been troubling him so much lately.

Truly, he was at war with himself—he enjoyed your presence, more than expected, but he was also incredibly conflicted. He wasn’t against having fun and the odd passionate tryst, but with you… it felt like he longed for more than that. Which, frankly, alarmed him greatly—the only person he should be feeling that way towards is his Fated One. So, what would happen if he indulged himself in you and then in the next sweep received his Fate Mark and with it the person he was to spend the rest of his life with? Would he want them? Would he want you? The prospect of such a situation was absolutely terrifying to him, and he didn’t know how to sort through the mess of emotions and thoughts it spawned within him.

He didn’t know what to do with the way you made him feel, yet each time he saw you he grew a little weaker in his resistance to you. Why was it that the heavens had decided to curse him so?

His footsteps were a little heavier than usual as he stomped down the hall that housed his rooms, eager for a moment of reprieve before he had to start preparing himself mentally for dinner. It had been only this morning that he caught sight of you and Yoongi in the gardens, yet the mood it had thrown him into had persisted for the rest of the day as he did his duties. The ugly, icky feeling it incurred within him had clung to his insides ever since—Jimin never had liked the sensation of jealousy, the few times he’d experienced it in his life, and the same proved true now. He hated it, yet could not stop its presence at the thought of you with someone else. He shouldn’t be bothered—you were human, shouldn’t he be pleased at the prospect of you being with another human? Yet his heart clenched painfully in protest at the thought, stomach dropping. Against his better judgement, he didn’t like the idea at all.

He felt a momentary sensation of calm and relaxation wash over him as he stepped through the doorway into his room, shoulders releasing the tension they carried along the walk there. The sensation proved to be fleeting as he recalled suddenly that Yoongi would be at the dinner along with you and the other humans, and suddenly he was tense and stressed all over again. A large sigh huffed past his lips, eyes closing as he scrubbed a hand over his face and pushed his hair back a little. God, he kind of wanted to nap if only to escape the stress for a few moments.

Allowing his eyes to slide open, he surveyed the contents of his room, attempting to avoid the area with his bed lest he be tempted. Surprise filtered across his features as he caught sight of something amiss, something new that he certainly hadn’t left on his desk before leaving earlier. Curious and apprehensive all at once, he approached the soft green box with what appeared to be a note tucked neatly beneath it. Tentatively, he took the box into his hands, the stone cool to the touch and decently heavy, and retrieved the note. He was never sure whether to read or open things first, but this time he opted to inspect the paper.

He wasn’t sure what he had expected when he opened it, but it hadn’t been a note written in messy scrawl that looked like it belonged to a fledgling. It was in his language, but he had a suspicion that the person writing it wasn’t exactly familiar with it. Still, he read it, and with each word he took in he felt surprise tickle his ribs and his heart stutter excitedly. The person had forgotten to sign their name but even without it Jimin had a strong suspicion as to who had left him this gift.

Unable to stop himself from opening the box now that he knew it was indeed a gift for him, he placed the note down and took great care in lifting the lid. Inside, sitting neatly upon plush cushioning that worked well to contrast with the metal of the piece it held, was a necklace. He felt his lips part as he took it in, slightly mesmerised, fingers of his free hand brushing gently over the silver and black chain and the large hoop that connected it. Even without the knowledge that it was a gift, most likely from a certain someone, he instantly liked it. It was just his style, and the fact that they’d known…

He placed the box down, moving the hand over his heart as he felt it skip a beat yet again. Once more, it seemed you were proving to be more trouble than he was capable of handling.

What on Kilkhea was he going to do?

x     x     x     x     x     x     x

 

When Seokjin had told you that there would be a small feast of sorts tonight and that pretty much everyone you knew would be attending, you hadn’t bothered attempting to hide your excitement at all. It had everything you loved. Food? Check. Your friends? Check. A fun family atmosphere? Check. Food? Check, check. You were almost bouncing off the walls before Taehyung laughed at you for it and you had to track him down to teach him a lesson. Seokjin had said that the food being served was all trials for the celebration that was coming, and that meant that given your food was normally good quality, this food was likely to be god-tier. You were almost drooling you were so damn excited.

Your renewed energy at the knowledge you were going to be fed well tonight meant that you were a little bit more unbearable than usual as you hung around the other humans, and by the time dinner actually rolled around you were sure Hoseok was ready to actually lay hands on you and choke you out. It was a recent development, since he’d actually joined you in your hyperactivity initially. You’d ended up outlasting him with your energy though, something that Namjoon, Yoongi and Taehyung found incredibly hilarious, and as soon as he was no longer in on your shenanigans he seemed to grow tired of them very quickly. As you all entered the small dining room where you’d be eating tonight you saw him beeline for the seat furthest away from you and couldn’t help but laugh. Did he think that would stop you? He really didn’t give you enough credit.

To your delight, even the guards you’d become so friendly with—Jongdae and Jongin as you recalled—had been allowed to sit in. The look they’d shared when they caught sight of you almost had you in stitches—especially since they were still under orders from Jimin to be keeping an eye on you and you’d slipped out of their watch earlier in the morning to spend the rest of the day free.

“Aren’t you two meant to be watching her?” Joy asked, having arrived at the same time they did and bearing witness to the fact it was without you in tow. She was more amused than anything, knowing firsthand how crafty you were, but still the two of them sputtered for an excuse.

“She—she is just so slippery!” Jongin burst, eyes wide and marks flaring a sheepish peach. “Every time we think she will cooperate, we turn our backs for a single second and when we look back she is gone!”

“And she tricks us,” Jongdae’s voice came out in a whine, pointing his finger at you accusingly. You smiled at him. “She leaves sweets and treats to distract us and escapes in our moment of weakness.”

You couldn’t hide your big, shit-eating grin because honestly you found the whole thing really funny—despite the fact you felt a little bad for deceiving them—and were having a riot listening to them talk.

“They’re gifts,” you said, no effort at all put towards sounding even remotely convincing. “Sometimes you look hungry so I leave things for you to eat, like a good friend.”

The two guards sputtered and you could hear Taehyung choking on a laugh behind you, snickering to Namjoon. Joy rolled her eyes, an affectionate smile tugging her lips, before she stepped in and urged everyone to take a seat since the food would be coming soon.

It didn’t take you long to notice that Seokjin and Jimin hadn’t arrived yet—oh the shock of excitement that bolted through you when you realised you’d finally see him—but almost as soon as you took note of that there were two familiar figures entering through the double doors and Taehyung was cheering.

“Yes! Just in time for the food to arrive—hurry and sit down we’re all hungry!”

You laughed, Yoongi snickering softly from beside you. Taehyung seemed to be right; as soon as Jimin and Seokjin entered from one door the kitchen staff entered from the other. The two hurried and took their seats, Seokjin across from you and Jimin next to him. You tried not to stare, you really did, but he just looked so good and it had been so long since you’d seen him—you kind of wanted to sob at how attractive he was. He’d donned a deep, deep purple set of silken clothes today, and when combined with his raven hair, the dangly silver earrings hanging from his lobes, the chains around his wrists and the rings sitting firmly and contrasting against golden skin on his fingers… it was a knockout look. Unable to help it, your gaze strayed momentarily to his neck on a curious whim—you wished the spike of disappointment within you wasn’t quite as prominent as it was. He wasn’t wearing it… that was fine. You hadn’t expected him to, really. Perhaps he just hadn’t gone to his room yet—

No, it was better if you didn’t think too hard about it. It was out of your hands now, you’d done your part in leaving it for him. What he did with it… technically didn’t concern you. You ignored the slight throb your heart gave and turned to the plates being placed along the table.

As the food was served there was inevitable chatter that followed, and you were surprisingly caught up with laughing at Seokjin and Yoongi, and occasionally Jongin, who was unfortunate enough to be seated on your other side and kept getting startled into dropping his food whenever you moved too quickly. Had you really traumatised them so much with your fleeing escapades?

Your natural inclination was to look at Jimin for the duration of the dinner, and you did look at him a fair bit, but for some reason tonight felt… different. It didn’t take long for you to notice that he was sitting stiffly in his seat, entire body tense, and each chew was accented with a clenched jaw that honestly had your stupid heart skipping a beat. Fuck, he was even hotter than usual. The nerve? The audacity? Right here in front of your… what was that on your plate, it looked to be a salad of sorts…?

Despite how your gaze was naturally drawn to the raven-haired male, every time you glanced towards him your attention was quickly drawn away by Yoongi or one of the others. And the second you turned from him, you could have sworn you felt eyes boring into your form with alarming intensity.  You didn’t ever catch him, he was always looking back to his plate or at someone else when you turned back, but the butterflies in your stomach and your gut feeling told you that the stare belonged to him. The thought excited you, but you were also confused. His usual response to your presence was fluster and embarrassment, sometimes he was even a little grumpy. You didn’t know what changed, but something had, and you were eager to poke and prod and find out exactly what had caused his behaviour to shift ever so slightly.

You felt the stare intensify whenever you leant closer to Yoongi, or the guard beside you. The more you experimented throughout dinner, the tenser Jimin seemed to become. You caught Seokjin shooting him looks that seemed to be a combination of concerned, knowing and amused, but he never voiced his concern out loud. He cracked a few jokes that had Jimin’s lips twitching into a slight smile at several points throughout the meal, but his features consistently fell back into their tense default.

By the time the meal was over and people began cleaning dishes up and filtering out of the room, you were absolutely itching to pounce on Jimin and resume your usual antics of annoying and flustering the hell out of him. You hadn’t seen him in a while, so the urge had built up and you were keen to make up for lost time. A part of you protested softly, the same part that stung a little more at each little sign of rejection he seemed to display, but it was easily silenced

You had a feeling that Jimin was going to try and make a run for it, and your suspicions were confirmed when not even a minute after he helped stack the plates nearest him, he was standing from his chair and bowing slightly to the table.

“Thank you very much for the meal,” he directed this to the staff, offering those that had come over a soft smile. You cursed the small morsel of jealousy that wormed its way into existence at that. “I think this line-up will work well for the event. Perhaps one or two more fruit dishes? They seem to be a favourite.”

The staff nodded eagerly, taking in his advice, and he offered them another smile before he turned on his heel and uttered that he was going to retire for the night. You could see how tensed the muscles in his back were as he walked away, posture stiff and straight. By the time you realised he was about to get away and you launched from your seat, he was already moving through the doorway. You had to act fast!

“Thank you for the meal, it was delicious—as usual!” you burst, grinning widely. The kitchen staff, well-acquainted with you by now, rolled their eyes fondly at your next words. “I will give you a full written report of my thoughts and bring it later, thank you!”

With that you ruffled Jongin and Yoongi’s hair, and then you bolted from the table, only nearly tripping once. You could hear Seokjin cracking a joke at your expense as you left but for once, ignored it. It pained you to do so, but you had a bigger objective in mind right now.

Quicker on your feet than you anticipated, you zipped through the open doorway and burst into the darkened hallway just in time to catch sight of Jimin while he was still barely visible. The lights hadn’t turned on in this hall yet, and you made sure to watch a little where you were going so that you didn’t fall flat on your face in front of your apparent crush.

You were certain he heard you coming, but just in case he didn’t you decided to announce your presence very loudly. “Jimin! Wait up, peach cheeks!”

Visibility wasn’t great in the hallway, yet you still managed to catch it as the male stiffened and halted for a moment, apparently surprised. Perhaps he hadn’t heard you coming?

When the male turned to face you, you felt your heart stutter before skipping several beats and setting off a swarm of butterflies in your stomach. His jaw was clenched once more, muscles along his throat shifting as he turned his head, and his marks glowed deep rosy red—but what had your knees wobbling slightly as you ran up to him was his eyes, dark and molten and absolutely boring into you from where he stood. His tongue darted to wet his lips before he spoke, a motion you couldn’t help but trace with your eyes.

“Do you need something, pesky human?” he inquired without any real bite, and you hated that even a nickname as dumb as that had your heart leaping when paired with the velvet tone of his voice. God, you’d really starved in the days he hadn’t been around, huh.

“Absolutely,” you answered, face straight save for the twitch of your lips. “It’s something you can help me with, actually.”

Jimin tilted his head, lids lowering ever so slightly as he held your gaze. You nearly stuttered at the way it made your stomach dip. “Oh? And what is that?”

“I’m very desperately in need.” You stepped closer, just barely noticing him stiffen further. You felt your grin spread across your features, unable to contain it any longer as you leant forward, barely a foot from his face, and poked his side softly. You felt a little bit of shame at what you were about to say but pushed it away—go big or go home. “Very desperately in need of you, Mr Jimin.”

There was a beat of silence as the kelkie registered what you said, before shifted into a reaction. Except, it wasn’t anything like the pink-cheeked flustered reaction you expected.

You had barely a moment to catch the shift in his gaze, the smoulder of new fire behind his eyes, before he was stepping forward suddenly, his hands moving so fast you almost didn’t see where they went until you felt them grip your hips. A gasp escaped you as you were moved backwards quicker than you could keep up with and your back pressed to cool stone, Jimin’s front pressed against your own. Your heart leapt into action, thudding unevenly against your ribcage as you stared at him with wide, shell-shocked eyes. Fuck. Fuck what the fuck—

“You need me?” his voice was low and raspy yet still ran against your ears like rich velvet. Your stomach dipped, arousal lighting your veins on fire. His hands gripped your hips tightly, one shifting up to grasp your waist; you curved into him instinctively. “You shouldn’t say such things so carelessly.”

Your heart was racing and your mouth was open in shock—you had no idea how to even begin processing what was happening, but he didn’t wait for your mind to catch up. His fingers dug into your supple flesh enough that the slight ache melted into pleasure and had a whine building in your throat—a whine that shifted into a squeak as he pressed you further into the wall and rolled his hips against yours, sending molten desire shooting along your spine and throbbing at your core. Your pulse was out of control at this point, and you could barely catch sight of his features in the darkness.

His thumb brushed up, pressing into the flesh over your ribs through the shirt and nearing dangerously close to the underside of your breast; you felt your breath catch in your throat. It was as though your mind was filled with nothing but static and acute awareness of just how close he was, brain unable to track anything else.

“You shouldn’t push so hard, little human, I’m not sure you’d like the end result,” his voice grew lower, tone laced with such promise that it had a shiver rolling down your spine. He leant closer, full lips brushing your cheek before they moved to your ear. You felt something foreign brush against your leg, dragging up the side of your thigh before brushing the skin where your shirt had ridden up. You jerked at the slick sensation, a gasp tearing from your lips. Jimin’s voice returned, lips tickling your ear as he spoke and making your knees weak.

“You are not the only one that can play, petal.

And then just like that he was gone, cool air greeting you in the absence of his touch, and your mind was left reeling in its attempts to catch up. Flabbergasted, with your cheeks unbearably hot and legs wobbly, you just barely caught it as he disappeared into the shadows down the hall, the darkness shifting oddly behind him. A heartbeat later and he was gone from sight completely, and you were alone in the hall with a racing heart and your skin still tingling from the remnants of his touch.

What. What…

What the fuck just happened?

Chapter Text

“What, you’re not even going to try and stop me?”

At your question, the two males shared an exasperated look.

“Well, no,” Jongin answered plainly, pointing an accusatory finger your way as he narrowed his eyes halfheartedly. “What is the point? You are just going to get away, anyway.”

Your incredulous gaze was drawn to Jongdae next, as he continued where his partner left off. He seemed entirely too pleased with himself, lips curled in a smug, kittenish grin and his expression sly, marks coloured light yellow. “Besides, we are no longer required to watch you. We have been relieved of our duties. Which, personally, I am more than glad for. I think I have aged more than ten sweeps from the stress alone of trying to keep track of you. Really, are all humans so slippery?”

“No, probably not. Just me.” You shrugged in answer, before his earlier words caught your attention and you gaped. “Wait—what do you mean ‘relieved of your duties’? I’m free?”

Jongin shrugged, stretching indolently across the cushioned swing that you’d found him and Jongdae reclining on, out on a patio near your rooms, when you’d attempted to sneak out of the wing. Now that you thought about it, they did have a particularly carefree air right now, something you weren’t really expecting considering how wired you’ve seen them some days.  Jongdae swung one leg over the other, completely lax. The action left you in a state of shock, almost.

You continued to sputter for a moment, your brain unable to comprehend the sudden change in the status quo. Sure, this whole time you’d protested the fact that they thought you needed babysitting—ignoring the fact that it was thanks to an incident that came about thanks to you being a dumbass. But, if you weren’t under ‘watch’ anymore… who were you going to have fun evading and escaping? This was the highlight of your days sometimes, what were you going to do now that you couldn’t do it anymore? This felt like a big disruption to the routine you’d established here.

“Do not know, do not care,” Jongdae smiled at you. “We have not been told what will be happening.”

“Wh-what so I’m just, I’m just supposed to sneak around and pretend there are people trying to catch me?” you burst, feeling a little indignant. They should have consulted you first! This was unfair. “Who am I supposed to torment when I’m bored? Who am I supposed to trick with sweets and flee while they’re distracted?!”

Jongin lurched forward, eyes wide. “So you ADMIT that you did that to trick us!”

“No!” you wailed, mournfully. You turned away, dramatic as they likely expected you to be. “They were friend gifts… but I guess they mean nothing now. I’m… I’m leaving. I’m ending my friendship with you two. I’ll…I’ll find some other guard friends— better guard friends— who will chase me as long as I want them to!”

You stomped your foot, fighting a smile at the sound of their barely restrained snorts. You give them a half-hearted glare over your shoulder before turning and yelling, “Don’t look for me! You won’t find me!”

The second you started to walk away they could no longer hold their laughter and the sound of it makes you grin as you retreat down the hall, not bothering to try and sneak as you had earlier now that you knew no one was there to catch you. It was oddly liberating, to be honest, and you didn’t quite know what to do with the freedom. Maybe that’s because even when they were ‘watching’ you, you weren’t exactly restricted. Really, it was a wonder Jimin made them try for so long when it clearly had little to no effect.

Your arms swung a bit as you walked, a bounce in your step. You can’t even remember where you were going in the first place now. It wouldn’t surprise you at all if you didn’t even have a destination in mind when you left your room, actually. You’d been a bit lost in your thoughts lately.

There was a certain someone to blame for it.

As usual, the source of your dilemmas and deep-thinking was the ever-elusive Mister Jimin. Except, after the events of the other night in the hall, which were still painfully fresh in your memory, he had lost his right to the elusive’ title. He hadn’t been bothering to try and avoid you any longer, something that kind of made you want to scream. It was what you wanted, yes, but not quite so soon and so intensely. You’d been in withdrawal for weeks and then he’d gone and given you such a big hit at once that you weren’t ready for it. You’d probably need another three weeks to come to terms with the male’s sudden flip that night and following one-eighty change in behaviour.

You were a little ashamed and excited to admit that he’d completely turned the tables and now you were the one frazzled and flustered. You couldn’t see his face in the halls—an alarmingly much more common occurrence after that night—without thinking of how it had felt when he pushed you to the wall, the way his body slotted so perfectly against yours. Every time your thoughts strayed to the memory the very same butterflies you felt that night returned with renewed vigour and you were flustered all over again.

Was this how he felt? All those times you tried so hard to fluster him? God, perhaps you were more annoying than you initially accepted.

You weren’t sure how you felt about the fact that the dynamic between you had shifted so suddenly and so sharply. Admittedly, that night if he had asked you to get on you hands and knees you wouldn’t have even blinked before doing so. The look in his eyes, the tone of his voice…. They brought out a side of you that didn’t see the light of day that often. Honestly, you’d spent a lot of nights reflecting on what happened and you’d since realised that there wasn’t much that you wouldn’t let that man do to you.

Even so, you weren’t a submissive person by nature, despite your inclination in the bedroom, and you really didn’t want him to think that was the case. You wanted to give back as good as you got, and every time you left your room you steeled yourself to doing so should you run across him.

Except it was a little easier said than done. Despite your affirmations, the second you caught sight of him the butterflies would return and you’d turn tail and run. It was shameful, and you were incredibly embarrassed at your own behaviour. Your mother didn’t raise a coward! It was just that, perhaps, you were a little more rattled and flustered than you allowed yourself to believe.

You realised you needed to be more firm with yourself, though. You needed to make yourself stay and interact with him or you’d never get over the ridiculous butterflies or the way your heart flipped and your pulse started to race. Again, today, you steeled yourself and resolved yourself to sit through the suffering if you happened to run into him again. At the slight tone of flustered panic that ran through you at the thought, you were quick to reassure yourself that it actually wasn’t that likely you’d run into him at all.

Well, historically you had been prone to being proven wrong when assuming such things and today wasn’t an exception.

In your wandering of the halls like a ghost with unresolved business in the material plane, looking for something to entertain yourself with, you happened to walk past a room that had a number of funky sounds coming from within. Intrigued and able to smell entertainment from probably a mile away, you were eager to investigate once you saw that the door was slightly ajar.

When you pushed it open, you quickly realised that you probably should have waited and listened to the sounds a bit more first. But, well, you were nothing if not an idiot and at this point, you were at peace with it.

“Stop! Stop, I am too old for this! Gods, Jiminie, where do you get all this energy from?!”

Confused as to exactly what you just walked into, you leant against the doorframe as you watched Seokjin bend over slightly with his hands on his knees to brace himself. He was wearing a different sort of clothing than you’ve seen before, the fit and material resembling more fitness-wear than anything. His breath came in short pants, apparently winded from whatever he and the other male had been doing before you walked in. Which, you realised quickly from the weapons along the wall and the cushioning along the ground, was… fighting?

Seokjin rattled something out in his native tongue and Jimin burst into laughter from where he stood, stretching a few feet away. He was dressed similarly to Seokjin and god if it wasn’t the most mouth-watering image you’d ever seen in your entire life. Deep blue material complimented his honey skin and raven hair perfectly, not that you thought there would be a colour that didn’t suit Jimin. His marks were a delighted summer yellow and the apples of his cheeks were flushed in slight exertion. Seokjin was in a similar state but unfortunately for him you were too whipped for Jimin to appreciate it as you should have.

Jimin said something you couldn’t understand to the elder male, who burst out loudly in response, “I have duties, you @#&@)# ! Not all of us can do whatever we want, you know, I am the one stuck with the royal duties today! Find someone else to help you.”

Jimin was grinning, but seemed a bit disappointed at Seokjin’s answer to whatever he had said. A part of you wandered exactly what Seokjin had called him and you regretted that you didn’t know much kelkoe at all. Seokjin let out a pained noise as he stretched, closing his eyes, and all of a sudden you were overcome with the realisation that you were in the same room, in very close proximity, with Jimin.

Instantly, as you expected, the butterflies returned full-force to barrage the walls of your stomach. The sudden nerves made you feel bit nauseous and at once you felt the familiar urge to turn tail and flee.

No, you bit back the flight aspect of your fight or flight response. No, you said you wouldn’t run, and you wouldn’t. You needed to claim back a bit of control in the new dynamic you’d found yourself in with Jimin and damn it if you didn’t do it now then you never would. So, you did what you usually did whenever you had to do something not so desirable to you at the time and turned your brain off.

“Find someone to help him with what?”

The attention of the two males was instantly on you, Seokjin instantly appearing a cross between amused and sly. You didn’t like that one bit, and quickly raked your eyes over the other male. A mistake—he was surprised at first but the way his features melted into a curious look and his eyes darkened into molten pools almost made your knees week, like you were experiencing your first crush all over again. God, damn it. This was harder than you anticipated. You couldn’t help but wonder if he recalled the events of the other night upon seeing you, like you did every time you saw him.

“Sparring,” Seokjin supplied a little too merrily, and it was almost like you could see the cogs turning in his head. “Kelkie have a lot of restless energy, so it is common practice and customary to have a sparring partner.”

“You two are sparring partners?” you queried, trying desperately to appear much less nervous than you were. Your voice didn’t tremble, so that was something, and at least you weren’t blushing. Yet.

Seokjin’s lips curled into a sly simper. “No, Jimin’s sparring partner is the King, actually. But, since His Majesty is still on leave and Jimin has had an awful lot of… pent up energy , lately, I have taken to being his partner in the meantime.”

Jimin shot the older male a glare at his words, and you couldn’t deny the stupid ripple of giddy hope that dared to bubble within you for a moment. You thought he’d say something to protest his words, anticipating banter, but were caught off guard when his gaze simply returned to you and you felt like you were suddenly in the spotlight once more. Your heart stuttered—shit, damn it. Stupid attractive alien. Your brain was still turned off so that you could remain riding a wave of pretend bravery, and you scrambled to make the most of it and recover.

“So, you need someone to spar with?” You looked to Jimin, interest and excitement leaking into your tone—and it wasn’t fake, in the least, despite your nerves. You almost kicked yourself for what you said next, though, a little too brave for your current state of hidden fluster. “I used to spar with my shipmates when we had long trips, it was always a lot of fun. I’ll spar with you.”

Very bold words from you since you knew how much stronger and faster kelkie were than you—you’d witnessed it one time when you tried to fix a piece of hair that was pulling your scalp from one of Joy’s hairstyles and she’d positively vaulted across the room at breakneck speed to smack your hands away.

Seokjin positively grinned, but Jimin’s face fell into an expression of protest. His dark brows drew together, lips tugging down at the corners.

“No,” he refused immediately, “You will get yourself hurt. I cannot spar with you.”

You sputtered, indignant, and felt a bit of your usual confidence return to you as you pushed from the door and walked forward a little bit. “What? Mister Jimin… are you afraid a weak little human is going to best you in combat? I suppose I understand, the shame for you would be unbearable…”

You’d poked the bear expecting him to continue resisting and refuting you, but to your complete and utter surprise the male’s expression shifted once more, his mouth snapping shut and jaw tensing as his eyes bore into you with a new sort of intensity. That look spelt trouble for you and boy if it didn’t send the most giddy, excited shiver down your spine. Were you perhaps a masochist? This might be the time Jimin finally snapped and killed you for being annoying but you couldn’t think of anything but how hot he looked and how good it would feel even if his hand did end up around your thr—

“That is an excellent idea!” Seokjin was quick to express his avid support, but you got the feeling from the shit-eating grin that never left his flushed face that he had an ulterior motive besides backing you up like a good friend. “There you go Jimin, nip that stress in the bud. I am off now, I have many duties to attend to. Don’t play too rough, children.”

With that he bounced, leaving you and a silent Jimin in his wake. You were still reeling from the abruptness of his departure when there was movement from the corner of your eye and you whipped to see Jimin walking further into the room. You could feel a shift in the air, a new sort of tension that tingled along the base of your spine and made your breath catch. Keep it cool, keep it cool— you needed to tip the scales back into balance.

“Weapons?”

You’d begun to walk further into the room to join Jimin, but froze in your steps at the sound of his voice. It was deeper, rougher than you’d anticipated—he’s back was still to you and though you couldn’t see his face you saw the tension in his shoulders and along firm lines of his back. The shirt was slim-fitting and clung to his form everywhere except the sides where, from about halfway down, the material sported a slit. You guessed it was so he didn’t get too stuffy and so didn’t pay it any mind.

You steeled yourself, summoning some of the confidence that had returned to you so fleetingly earlier, and moved closer, stretching as you did so. “None is fine.”

His jaw ticked as he sent you a curious glance over his shoulder before giving a short nod and turning to face you better. This was the first time you’d been in his presence for longer than three seconds since that night and you felt an absolute mess with each second more that ticked over. Fuck, it was fine, everything was fine. You just had to hold it together a little longer then your nerves would wear off and you’d be back to normal. Probably.

As he settled into a loose pose, readying himself for another ‘sparring’ session, his eyes wept slowly over your form. You squared your shoulders and kept the playful smile on your lips, doing your absolute best to ignore the frantic pattering of your heart against your ribcage. You relished the way his eyes darkened as you stretched your back and your shirt rode up a sliver, providing him the barest peek of your skin. You could tell as you slipped into a loose pose of your own that from the tension he still held in his form, he wasn’t going to be using his full strength on you at all.

You had no doubt he was going to go as easy on you as he could.

But then, if he wasn’t using all his strength and speed, how would he be releasing the pent up tension that these sessions were meant to relieve? He wouldn’t be, so there must have been another reason he was about to humour you and ‘ spar’ with you. Your mind ticked it over for a bare second before it registered.

He was playing chicken with you.

Something had changed in him since your last encounter, after you finally seemed to push him over a line of sorts. He was no longer resisting, no longer flustering and growing embarrassed—he was poking and prodding back just as you had done to him from the beginning.

You nearly balked at the realisation, but schooled your features just in time. He wanted to tease, to play? Well, lucky for him playing and teasing was what you did best. A wave of excitement washed over you. Your nerves all but disappeared as you resolved yourself, intending to use this opportunity and treat him as you normally would. You wondered, which one of you would bow first?

He must have noticed the changed tone of your smile, as one dark eyebrow rose in question. He tilted his head, eyes boring into you with more intensity than expected. His marks shifted colours from plum to rose, to periwinkle. A sequence that you had no idea how to decode yet still made your stomach flutter instinctively.

“Are you ready, petal?” he asked, and the nickname nearly undid all the hard work you put into reclaiming your usual mojo.

“Of course, peach cheeks,” you fired back, smiling brightly. He tried to hide it but you saw the way his lips twitched and his marks flushed deep rose. Even so, he didn’t blush, and the observation made you both giddy and eager to try and pull the reaction out of him.

“You may make the first move,” he offered, keen eyes catching every twitch of your features and shift of your body. You’d learnt from Seokjin and Namjoon that the Kelkie were a race of elite warriors, and you could tell just from looking at Jimin and the way he regarded you that he knew how to read and predict moves in battle. You knew then, that you couldn’t turn this into a game of strategy, or he would best you before you even had a chance to have fun. He was stronger and faster than you, obviously, but you didn’t want to make this too easy for him.

You nodded, taking a moment to choose how to proceed before you threw caution to the wind and moved on instinct alone. He watched, waited, coiled and ready for whatever move you might give him first.

When you dipped then lurched forward, aiming a light hit to his face, he dodged with ease. He had a bit of an unreadable expression on his face before you moved, but now that you made the first swing and he was sinking into the sparring mindset once more, an excited glint began to make itself known in his eyes.

You were right in assuming he would hold back. He weaved out of the way, incredibly graceful, and twisted mid-movement to bring his knee up, aiming for your middle. He was fast, but you knew he could be faster—with an amused huff you slipped out of the way and took a few light steps back before darting forward once more to try and jab his ribs. Like that, the two of you began to fall into a pattern.

Something about sparring always set your blood alight, and you could tell the same was the case for the alien dodging and weaving your light-hearted swings. The thought excited you, and you couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled from your throat as he swung and you spun out of the way just in time. You continued like that for the next few minutes, grinning uncontrollably at the sound of the huff he’d let out each time you dodged. So far, despite your occasional swings, you had been on the defensive. Even then, there was no heat or urgency behind his attacks. You wanted him to put a little more effort in.

His breath sped up the longer the two of you moved, his expression morphing. Slippery was how the guards had described you, and slippery was what you proved to be now. He was holding back almost all of his strength and speed, but he still should have been able to grasp you with ease. Yet each time he threw a hit or reached to grab you, you would dip and dodge, dancing out of the way. His stomach gave an excited flutter, the muscles of his back tingling. That was what this was—the way you were moving and interacting with him, reading his movements enough to flee but not to counter, with enough push and pull that it kept him on his toes…

It was like the two of you were dancing.

It was nothing like sparring with his own kind, yet he felt his heart stutter and kick into a higher gear in excitement nonetheless. You had a habit of making everything so exhilarating. The more you pulled back only to push lightly, prodding him and luring him to make a move for your gain, the more he felt himself slip into it. He was no longer moving with the intent to humour you or anything along those lines—he felt it, deep within his abdomen, the knot of longing forming once more. He wanted to chase, to catch you. And with each smooth dodge and light-footed prance out of reach you performed, he felt himself growing more and more riddled with the need to fulfil that instinctive desire.

It was as though you could feel the change in him, the longer the two of you tangled. You could sense a shift and, true to your nature, immediately went to exploit it.

“You’re so slow, peach cheeks!” you let out a breathless giggle as he lurched fluidly and tipped his body in a roundhouse kick of sorts. You ducked, darting forward and trying to land a hit on his gut as he righted himself. “Are you sure you beat Seokjin? You barely—”

The male didn’t even need to respond, as your smug tone was cut off the second his hand flew to grasp your fist before it could make contact with him. Your heart lurched into your throat, breath catching, as he adjusted his grip and tugged you forward, completely off balance. You crashed into his chest with your own, his other hand wrapping around your wrist like iron as he pulled them both behind your back with ease. You were arched into him with your heart racing, stomach flipping. He stared down at you with a dangerous curl to his lips.

“I thought I told you not to push so hard, petal,” his voice was so breathy and low it was absolutely sinful, a shudder rolling down your spine.  You could barely tear your eyes away from his own, heat flushing over your skin. Weak as you may be for him, you refused to give in so easily.

You felt his breath brush your face before you shoved your rapidly-returning nerves away and leant up, lips brushing his ear and the cool metal that dangled from it. Your playful tone had his grip tightening “But I like the end result.”

You felt him stiffen in shock, posture turning rigid; apparently he hadn’t been expecting that. You used this to your advantage, breaking out of his hold and snapping your hand around one of his wrists instead. You darted back then danced around him, pulling his arm with you until you were completely behind him. While he was still dazed your free hand whipped to grab his other one, pulling both behind his back and pressing against it in a mockery of the position he’d just had you in. The sound of his breath catching in his throat made your stomach dip giddily.

Deciding to push further while you had him in this position, knowing he’d snap out of it and turn the tables in the next second or so, you pressed a teasing kiss to the nape of his neck, breasts pushed to his upper back. The move was dangerous as it kept you within his reach for longer, but at the shudder you felt move through him you deemed it worth it.

Unfortunately for you, right after that reaction he jerked into action and broke his wrists out of your hold. Letting out a soft squeak of alarm that bled into a short giggle, you leapt backwards and danced out of the way as he spun and lunged for you. The dance began anew.

Except this time, Jimin had changed his tune yet again.

His marks were stained rosy-purple, shifting to wine each time he neared you. His moves became less hits and kicks, and more dives, lunges and grabs—and each time he got closer to catching you in his hold you couldn’t help the way your heart leapt in anticipation and excitement, pulse racing. The way he moved was so incredibly graceful and fluid, like a predator in its natural element, and numerous times you were so mesmerised it almost got you caught. Still, you managed to evade him, and the longer you did so the more worked up he got. Faster and faster, molten gaze never losing track of your form. You wouldn’t be able to catch him like this, you realised; you’d have to let him get close first.

You meant to lure him in purposefully, but in one of your bids to dance out of his reach you ended up stumbling over your own feet—immediately, he pounced. Your arms flew to the side in an attempt to reclaim your balance but you didn’t get the chance to follow through. Jimin dove forward, powerful thighs keeping him stable and propelling him to you faster than you could register. His hand closed around your wrist, using your arm and off-kilter state to turn you before releasing it and looping his arm firmly around your middle instead. The breath whooshed out of your lungs as you were yanked backwards, back meeting his chest as he contained you in his iron grasp. A shot of arousal spiked down your spine as his other hand whipped up to sit over your throat, grip loose but still present , thumb pressing into the soft flesh and fingers tilting your jaw up and head back.

You were sure he could feel your harried breaths, hell could probably even hear the way your heart was currently racing. Your skin was damp with the slightest layer of sweat you’d worked up from your constant movement and activity. You could feel his own breath panting against your neck, his lips and nose brushing against the sensitive shell of your ear as he dipped his head.

“What did we say about saying things like that so carelessly, petal,” his voice was a sultry combination of a lilting purr and a teasing coo, his fingers digging into the soft flesh of your waist. Your hands flew to grip the forearm currently pressing against your stomach, before moving to his bicep. You attempted to shift stance and haul him over your shoulder, like you’d managed to do to old sparring partners so many times before—yet Jimin didn’t so much as budge. The thrill of being faced with such unwavering strength made your stomach dip and butterflies swarm.

You didn’t have the words to respond, instead letting out a soft gasp as he rubbed his thumb along the sensitive column of your neck. Your mind raced, thoughts stumbling over one another as you scrambled for how to proceed and what to do. He was about to win, in more ways that one, but alarmingly you couldn’t find it within yourself to care all that much. There it was again, the yearning to just give yourself over and let him have you. It was getting to be a bit like an old friend, at this rate.

Your sudden desires gave you an idea, however. You rolled your body suddenly, rocking your hips back against him and grinding your ass back oh so ‘innocently’. Unprepared and unsuspecting, the action wrought a sharp, lilting gasp from the male’s throat. You felt the way his grip weakened for the barest second and were quick to take advantage of it.

Spinning in his hold, as you pivoted on your heel you used the other to catch his ankle. The result was his knee buckling, leg knocked out from under him, and as you pushed him backwards the two of you fell to the floor in a heap. You landed atop him, as you’d intended, with your thighs either side of his slim waist and your crotch pressed over his. You were out of breath as you braced yourself on his chest, one palm flat against the top of his sternum with your fingertips brushing his throat in a mock ‘dagger’. His tongue darted to wet full lips.

“Playing dirty,” he commented in between panting breaths, eyes boring into you as his voice brushed your eardrums, thick and low—shamefully, it had your thighs tensing with the urge to close. At your almost imperceptible shift, his nostrils twitched and his pupils blew up, hands suddenly on your hips with a firm grip. He didn’t move after that, but you felt the way his entire body tensed.

“I’m not above it,” you smiled, struggling to catch your own breath. You pushed your hands from his chest, leaning back, and in the process of shifting your weight unintentionally ground your core against him. His fingers instantly dug into your hips, leaving a delicious ache in their wake, as a soft groan that almost sounded like a growl slipped from his throat.

“You—”

“Jimin-ssi, I am terribly sorry to interrupt, but Seokjin called for you—there is an issue that requires your input.”

You jumped, startled beyond belief by the sound of a voice at the doorway to the room, and scrambled off of Jimin instantly. When you turned to see just who you expected, you offered a glare. Joy smiled back, unapologetic and clearly amused at the situation she’d walked in on.

Jimin sat up, a hand coming to pat his lower back—you watched the motion, wondering exactly why he did it but unable to suss a reason out. He turned to face you, eyes dark and swirling with something you couldn’t name but that made your heart skip a beat in anticipation nonetheless, before he rose to his feet and walked coolly to the door. You weren’t ashamed to say that you stared at his ass as he went.

“Understood, let him know that I will be there soon. I have… something to take care of first.”

Your brows furrowed in confusion as you wondered exactly what he had to take care of, but he was slipping through the doors with a hand pressed to his back and gone before you could think to ask. You might have been confused as to what he meant, but Joy seemed to be in the loop and very amused by it.

“I see you’re making progress in wooing him,” she observed, tone playful, and you rolled your eyes as you hopped to your feet. Now that you were no longer distracted by Jimin, you could feel how sweaty and sticky you were from the whole ordeal. Ugh, exercise. A wave of embarrassment coursed through you at the sudden thought—did he notice your gross state when you were on top of him? How humiliating.

“Yeah… Maybe,” you said, dusting off your bottoms. “I’ll gossip with you later though, first thing’s first I need a shower. Do all of you really spar that often to get your energy out? In this heat?”

Joy’s eyes lit up at this titbit of information, the long raven plait down her back swinging as she tilted her head. “Oh, so that is what you were doing? Interesting take on the practice, I will admit.”

You wanted to send her another half-hearted glare but found her words too funny to be able to pull it off. A snort escaped you instead, “Hardly. He went far too easy on me for it to be considered a real spar.”

The female snorted, her marks colouring a delighted blue-green in her amusement. “I am not surprised. Jimin is faster and stronger than most kelkie so I do not imagine he would use anything close to full strength when sparring with you. Interesting that he agreed, though.”

You hummed, unsure how to process her words just yet. “Huh. Well. I’m gonna go back to my rooms and get changed, I’ll find you again later. I have some…. Questions.”

Joy raised an eyebrow but you merely offered her a grin as you left. “See you! And don’t forget to tell Seokjin whatever Jimin wanted you to.”

She rolled her eyes, muttering a curse under her breath before she gave a wave in farewell. “Goodbye. Take your time, please.”

You couldn’t help you laugh as you ventured further down the hall, “I won’t!”

x     x x     x x x     x

True to your word, as soon as you were done bathing and changing you zipped off down the halls in search of her for your promised interrogation session. You were expecting it to take much longer than it did for you to actually track her down.

When you found her, it was on a balcony with Namjoon, who she appeared to be playing a board game of sorts with, and Yoongi, who was to the back napping on large cushion in the sun. He protested whenever you called him a cat and then went and acted just like one, you couldn’t help but laugh.

When she caught sight of you, Joy seemed surprised. “Oh, you really did have some questions you wanted answered, did you?”

Namjoon looked at you curiously after he moved a piece on the board, taking advantage of Joy’s momentary distraction. You wondered what he was thinking before his lips adopted a sudden sly quirk and his teasing tone greeted your ears, “Got up to some fun this morning, did we?”

You rolled your eyes, pulling out the third chair between them at the table and flopping into it with all the attitude you could muster. “I whooped Jimin’s ass in hand-to-hand combat, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Namjoon laughed and Joy snorted, the former clearly having been told what kind of scene Joy had walked in on earlier.

“By playing dirty?”

“My specialty.”

Another chuckle rumbled from his chest as he shook his head, turning back to the board. You allowed a brief moment of silence to settle over you as you watched the two of them make a move. When you couldn’t immediately figure out the point of the game, you gave up your observation.

“Anyway, about those questions I had,” you said suddenly, making the kelkie female to your right smile and shake her head. “I’ll ask them now, since you’re not busy.”

Another snort of amusement and she turned her head in your direction, dark eyes glimmering with mirth and marks glowing soft orange. “Of course, since I am not busy. Go ahead, I know it must be burning you up inside. Has it been unbearable?”

You nodded dramatically, ignoring Namjoon’s eyeroll. “Yes, incredibly so. I haven’t slept in days.”

You received another laugh for that and could barely keep your face straight as Joy shook her head, placing her elbow on the table and leaning her face into her palm. “Well, cheeky human, what is it you are curious about?”

You bit your lip, pondering what you wanted to ask first for a moment before deciding to cut to the chase. “Well, I want to know—why is it that every time I tease Jimin he runs away holding his back?”

It was an innocent enough question in your mind, but the reactions you received made you think that the answer was otherwise. Namjoon choked on his own spit, and Joy’s eyebrows shot up as she clamped her mouth shut and looked very much like she was trying not to laugh. A strangled sound from the side of the room told you that Yoongi had woken up and heard what you said.

Confused, you tilted your head. “What? What is it? Does he have back spasms or something? Wait, are your hearts in your lower back? Am I stressing him out so much he’s having heart attacks?”

To your complete and utter surprise, Namjoon’s face slowly began to turn bright red, and when you turned to peer at Yoongi you found his cheeks had coloured as well, the tips of his ears pink as he coughed and averted his gaze to the balcony. Joy was the only one who didn’t seem incredibly embarrassed at your question—on the contrary, she seemed to be having the time of her life.

“Oh, I love it when you humans ask things like this.” She was positively gleeful, grinning so wide that it actually concerned you a bit. “Your reactions are so funny .”

“What?” you pressed again, worried but also ten times more curious than before. “What is it? Come on, tell me.”

Joy, still grinning, sent Namjoon a pointed look and the male coughed, unable to meet your eyes as he cleared his throat and started, “Uh, well, y/n, you know that there are certain physiological differences between us and kelkies…”

You nodded, slightly impatient but clamping your mouth shut nonetheless in the hopes he would hurry up and continue.

“And you know, uh…” Namjoon looked like he wanted to melt into the floor, face bright pink. “Y-you know that uh, s-sometimes the differences are the ones we can’t see—”

“Spit it out, Joonie!” you couldn’t hold it in, wriggling forward on the seat and placing your palms onto the table. “Please, I’m dying to know, you can’t keep me in suspense like this—”

“y/n, you’ve seen porn, right? From Earth.”

You turned to face Yoongi at the sound of his voice, nodding as you did so. “Yeah, I have. Why? You need some? I had a USB of it with me on the ship, I can go look for it if you want—"

Namjoon choked, coughing and smacking his chest. You ignored him for the moment as Yoongi’s cheeks seemed to darken before he swallowed and continued. “So. Have you seen uh… you’ve seen Japanese animated porn?”

You stared at him plainly for a second, wondering if he was serious. “Uh… yes? Of course I have, I was a teenager too—”

Namjoon let his head slam onto the table with a loud groan, Joy letting out a delighted peal of laughter. Yoongi steeled himself and pushed on. “S-so you know, in the… in Japanese animated porn…”

“Say it for what it is, Yoongi,” you said. “Hentai.”

For a second the urge to kill you flickered in his gaze but he seemed to wrangle it quicker than usual. He let out a great, anguished sigh. “Why do I even bother—have you seen tentacle porn or not?”

“Of course I have, what does that have to do with—” you stopped short, his words ticking over in your head for a few seconds before your jaw dropped and you spun to face Namjoon and Joy with wide eyes and warmed cheeks. “ No— oh my god, really?! Holy—”

Namjoon made a strangled, mortified noise and Joy burst into laughter once more as you stumbled over your words, a mess of thoughts zipping around in your poor monkey brain. As utterly shocked as you were in this moment, in a sense you also weren’t that surprised and, shamefully, the knowledge sent something akin to a shiver of excitement down your spine. Wow, you were really a bit depraved, huh? Then again, if you paid attention to the raunchy shit you watched in your teen years (and, if you were being honest with yourself, probably would still watch now if you had it) it would have been a bit telling.

“Oh my god,” you slammed your hands onto the table, on the absolute edge of your seat. “You guys have tentacles? For real? Where? How many? Do both males and females have them, or only—”

“Slow down, y/n,” Joy snorted, withdrawing from the table for a moment to recline comfortably in her chair. She crossed one leg over the other, seeming incredibly tickled. “One question at a time, or I will revoke your question-asking rights.”

You let out a horrified gasp, before instantly snapping your mouth shut and letting her answer the questions you fired at her so rapidly.

“To answer your first question, yes, kelkie do have extra appendages utilised in intercourse. We call them #%&$*@ but you humans describe them as tentacles and that seems to be easier for you to say, so we go with that.” At the sound of a foreign kelkoe word your mind blanked for a moment, but the rest of her words quickly sank in. Namjoon and Yoongi were still dying of embarrassment in the background, and you were a little embarrassed yourself but was by far overpowered by your burning curiosity.

“They’re used specifically for sex?!” you couldn’t help yourself, unable to contain your questions. Obviously, when one hears tentacles they think of certain scenarios, but you didn’t want to just assume. Learning that that was what they were literally for though… god, if it wasn’t enough to make you sweat like a sinner in church.

You could have sworn you heard Yoongi mutter, “I should have known she’d be horny for tentacles, who am I kidding,” under his breath in the background, but ignored it in favour of watching Joy’s features as she compiled a response for you.

“Yes, they are reproductive organs,” she said, a sly smile curling her shapely lips as she easily pinpointed the direction your thoughts were going. “Additional ones to those that some have found we have in common.”

You blushed, but still said what you thought as soon as it entered your mind. “Oh—I— two sets?

Joy nodded, still very much amused. “Yes—and that is to confirm what you asked earlier, as well. Both males and females have them, but females have less.”

You let that sink in for a moment, mulling over the sudden overload of information, before your mind caught on to a certain detail that it had glossed over earlier and you balked. “Wait—you said you ‘some found ’? Who…?”

At your words, both males in the room seemed to shrink in their seats, eyes everywhere but meeting your own. Joy snickered and they flushed bright red. A cackled built in your chest as realisation began to sink in.

“We have had a few celebrations and festivals in the time since the Queen’s crew arrived—you humans like to enjoy yourselves, don’t you?” She might have been teasing you as well as the other two males in the room, but you weren’t ashamed enough of your libido for it to have any effect. At this point, you’d been openly horny for Jimin for a while.

Oh my god,” you whispered under your breath, eyes flicking between the two sheepish-looking males. The insinuation of what the extra appendages meant for their extracurricular romping in the sheets… you blushed.

Eager to return to your earlier line of questioning, lest you lose the opportunity altogether and they changed the subject, you forced yourself to turn back to a grinning Joy.

“So uh, where are they?” you inquired, somewhat gingerly. It would seem you had some tact left, after all. Joy snorted at your manner and tapped her fingers on the table, marks a cool, light blue.

“They are in two lines along the lower portion of the spine,” she informed you, tilting her head and watching your expression keenly. She smiled the second she saw you make the connection between what she said and what you saw. At your questioning look, she continued, “Yes, that has to do with why Jimin, ah… holds his lower back when you tease him. For the most part, they are hidden. They aren’t appendages that we have entire control over, and in many senses it is as though they have a mind of their own, following our base instincts and urges. When a kelkie experiences a certain amount of stimulation or arousal, they are prone to appearing.”

She gave you a moment for the information to sink in before you made the connection she was waiting for. “Oh, oh —wait so—so every time he slaps a hand to his back and runs away its just because I made him pop a tentacle boner?”

The female raised a brow at your choice of words but seemed to understand the slang enough to snort and nod her head. You heard Namjoon and Yoongi choke on a laugh, Namjoon slamming his head onto the table once more and disrupting the board game that had long since been forgotten.

“Yes,” Joy confirmed simply, lips twitching. “I do not think I ever saw him give such a reaction before you came along, though. I have to give you credit.”

It probably wasn’t something you should be preening with pride to hear, but you were anyway. “Ah, finally. My efforts are being rewarded.”

Yoongi shook his head, squinting at you. “How are you so… unapologetically thirsty ?”

“We’re talking about Jimin, how can I not be?” you answered simply, before straightening in your seat and whipping a finger to point in his direction. “And let’s not be the pot calling the kettle black, mister! Word on the street is you’re just as horny as me!”

Yoongi balked, face paling before it began to cycle through about seven different shades of red, and Namjoon let out a strangled chortle.

“Don’t you have more questions for Joy?” Yoongi tried weakly to deflect the attention and change the subject, but to no avail.

“Well, yes, but I also have questions for you —and don’t think you’re off the hook either, Namjoon, I see you looking mortified over there.”

The two males let out long, arduous groans, and Joy erupted in delighted peals of laughter. What was going to be an informative afternoon for you was clearly going to be a very long one for them. You wriggled in your seat, getting comfortable, and dove in headfirst.

You were going to get as much information on this new discovery as you could.

 

Chapter Text

“What are you doing?”

If anyone asked, you would tell them that you were the picture of grace as you got the absolute life scared out of you. The reality was, however, that you let out a sharp, squeaky scream wherein your voice broke and you pretty much tumbled like a mannequin with recently oiled joints out of the tree you’d been climbing before you were so rudely startled.

You weren’t far enough from the ground to break anything with your fall, but you were far enough that you were pretty sure you bruised your ass from the impact. A whimper escaped you at the sharp, deep ache in your gluteus maximus that resulted, and when you looked up to see the cause of your startle you almost shat yourself once more. Of course, you’d heard his voice and subconsciously known who it was the second he spoke, but seeing Jimin looming over you with an expression that was a cross between concerned and incredibly amused really made the belated realisation sink in. Another fright doing harm to your poor, weak heart. Your time on this planet was going to come to an end due to someone scaring you to death, one day.

Wait just a second…

 By thinking that, did you just subconsciously presume you weren’t ever going to leave, or…? You reeled for a moment, an odd feeling coming to life inside you. That was extremely out of character for you, and you probably needed to see a doctor or something. Or maybe go annoy Yoongi so you could get some sense knocked back into you.

The soft sound that resulted from Jimin shifting his weight from foot to foot on the grass brought you back to the present moment and you let out a pained, sheepish laugh. Right, he asked you a question. What were you doing? You didn’t really remember, to be honest. Possibly a cause for concern, but who could blame you for a little momentary memory loss when faced with a being as fine as Jimin was? The answer was absolutely no one and you’d defend that to your grave.

“Uhh…” you floundered for an answer that wouldn’t make you look like a complete idiot, and came up empty. Well, humiliating truth it was. “To be honest? I just wanted to climb the tree. I wasn’t stealing the fruits, I promise.”

Jimin’s brow rose, marks flushing soft periwinkle. “These trees are in the more open sectors of the royal gardens, taking one of the fruits wouldn’t be stealing. Although…”

He wrinkled his nose, directing his gaze to the incriminating fruit that hung, bulbous and bright pink, from one of the upper-middle branches, looking thoroughly disgusted. “I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you enjoy being violently sick for several days. They are kind of poisonous, for kelkie and humans alike.”

You made a face at that, giving the fruit the stink eye for the audacity it had to almost trick you with its pretty, appealing outside. How dare it—pink means yummy, not poison! The nerve.

“Noted,” you said, gulping. A beat passed before you turned to the male suddenly, eyes narrowed as you recalled something. “Wait, how did you know I was there? And how did you get over here so fast? If you’re going to flash-step over here and scare the shit out of me, you could at least catch me. I mean, I wouldn’t complain.”

Jimin’s head tilted, full lips tugging. “Noted,” he remarked, clowning you unabashedly. “I’ll be sure to save you the fall and yank you from the tree myself next time.”

At that, you couldn’t help the sudden laugh that tore out of you—the sound of it made his lips twitch further. He waited for you to calm a little before he continued.

“And if you must know, I was going for a brief walk. You’re actually in my gardens right now, petal.”

You balked, a flush of embarrassment rushing to heat your cheeks. Oh. So that’s what that short wall you’d jumped over while exploring had meant. Huh. Perhaps you were a little stupid; then again, that knowledge wasn’t really anything new.

Prior to this, you’d been a little preoccupied with your throbbing ass, but now, as you sat and gazed up at the magnetic form that was Jimin, you were suddenly reminded of the conversation from the other day with Joy and other raunchy parties. Your gaze flicked to his sides on instinct before you caught yourself and tore it away, averting it to the foliage to be safe. If you stare at his back he’s going to know you know, dumbass!

“O-oh, am I? Whoops, my bad,” you tried to distract yourself with a too-soon attempt at climbing back to your feet. You wobbled, voice shooting up in alarm, “To be fair though there’s no way to know these are your gardens, like, where’s the sign? You should reall—YAH OH MY!”

When you wobbled again a second time, barely a split second away from toppling off your wobbly legs and back onto your throbbing behind, Jimin’s hand shot to grasp your wrist and in one fell swoop he yanked you from your tentative crouch to standing. In the process he, overestimating your level of resistance, ended up hauling you straight into his chest. He barely stumbled as you knocked into him, your arms shooting out to wrap around him on instinct. An embarrassing instinct in actuality, but certainly not one you were about to complain about.

A beat of silence passed while you caught up to the sudden turn of events before you pulled your head back from where it had been resting over his shoulder. Utilising the fact your arms had ended up looped around his waist, you tightened your hold around him and pressed your hands firmly against his spine. You felt the hitch of his breath against your chest. When you grew brave enough to allow your eyes to stray to his face, they caught his own—deep, dark pools of molten cocoa, pupils almost swallowing his iris’ whole, hypnotised you for a moment. Even meeting his gaze like this made your lungs constrict and your heart jump in unison with your stomach. Giddy, excited—a sudden sense of shyness tickled the back of your neck but it was far overpowered by the deep, instinctive urge to push him a little. You wanted to play.

When he said nothing, you allowed your lips to twitch into a big, dumb grin— a courteous moment’s warning for what you were about to do—and then you moved your hands to his shoulder blades before pressing your fingertips in and dragging them down either side of his spine. He went rigid, yet the muscles of his back still yielded to the teasing pressure of your fingertips. Further down his back, about mid way, you felt your fingertips catch on something even through the shirt and Jimin jerked, a low rumble sounding in the back of his throat as a shudder ran through the entirety of his body.

You didn’t get all the way down his back before you pulled away, heart racing a little too fast from the sudden intensity of his gaze as it burned into you, as a result of your teasing. You hadn’t noticed his grip earlier but now you were painfully aware of the firm hold he had on your waist, fingers gripping with just enough pressure that your stomach flipped like you were a mere schoolgirl back on Earth.

As steamy as the moment was turning out to be, it was broken by a very sudden, very sharp and very loud noise—

One that sounded suspiciously like a dog.

Jerking away from Jimin at the sound of a rough bark, in either fear or surprise you didn’t really know, you spun to face the source. You were instantly rooted to the spot in shock.

Holy shit, that was a massive dog.

Well, calling it a dog might have been a bit of an insult. Whatever it was, with whatever canine resemblance it had, it was absolutely beautiful and nothing short of majestic. Instantly, you were in absolute awe and standing in a state of reverence.

The beast was over five feet tall and gave Jimin a run for his money, his entire coat the deepest space blue you’d ever seen that bled into a plethora of deep rose and cerulean that seemed to change as the strands shifted in the wind. It was incredibly canine in its features, resembling something between a wolf or a fox from earth but much, much bigger—the angled face, the mischievous eyes that hid an underlying danger. Around its eyes and down its muzzle, the same peculiar rose-aquamarine blend painted beautiful, mesmerising markings.

Something shifted out of the corner of your eyes, and when your gaze followed it, it took you a moment to realise you were looking at not one, but two big fluffy tails. Contrary to the dog-like appearance of the beast, the tails swayed playfully and in a much more feline manner. It was as though it was trying to hypnotise you with the movement, and you were only saved from falling into the trap by the sound of another soft yap.

You squeaked, jumping in what you were sure was a mixture of fright and excitement this time—although, to be fair, the line between the two emotions was awfully thin these days.

“Oh my god,” you choked, sounding very much like you were going to cry and honestly? You might have been about to. “Puppy!”

At the sound of the pure joy in your voice, it was as though a switch had been flipped in the creature that, until then, had just been standing there, looking incredibly majestic and incredibly intimidating. As though it could sense that you weren’t afraid, it immediately dropped into a crouch, behind wiggling and tongue hanging out of its mouth, before it pounced forward and you met the ground once more.

This time, with Jimin in tow.

The beast was so massive that instead of only tackling you, it had managed to catch both you and Jimin in one go. The aforementioned male was now pressed to the ground next to you as the two of you received a barrage of sloppy licks from the creature in between excited yapping and melodic trill noises. You couldn’t help the delighted squeal that escaped your lips, your hands coming up to scratch and rub behind the creature’s large, triangular ears. They flicked and vibrated instantly at your motions, and the beast moved its attention solely to you. Meaning, you got a face full of alien dog tongue and spit.

“Meanie!” Jimin gasped, attempting to sit up and somehow managing despite the incredible weight of the beast. “Off, now, Meanie! #$%#$!”

Jimin rattled something else off in kelkoe and to your complete and utter surprise, the canine creature pulled back immediately and sat down on its haunches, tongue still lolling out of its elongated maw as its head flicked between the two of you and its tails lashed excitedly behind it. Somewhat dazed and a little upset at the lack of happy dog-creature within arms reach, you struggled into a sitting position yourself, unable to tear your eyes from the animal before you.

“What is that? He’s so beautiful…” you found yourself asking before you even realised, eyes wide. You heard Jimin make a surprised noise, and turned to see him looking at you strangely.

“You are not afraid?” he queried, head tilting like he couldn’t make sense of your reaction. You watched as his marks swirled through several different colours before settling on light, playful blue.

“No?” you replied, equally as confused at his reaction. “Why would I be? I love dogs!”

“Dogs…” Jimin mumbled to himself for a moment, eyes unfocused, before he let out a soft noise and turned to you.  “Are dogs creatures on Earth? Do you have Ina there too?”

Ina?” you repeated, turning your gaze back to the animal who was, by the way, still waiting patiently in place like the best boy you had ever seen. “Is that what this creature is?”

Jimin nodded, and after surveying you a moment longer he rose to his feet, dusting off his (very shapely) behind as he did so. A smile tugged his lips as he looked over at the animal in question. “This is Meanie, my Ina.”

He then parted from your side to move over to the creature, wrapping an arm over his massive shoulders and reaching up to scratch behind his ear. Meanie’s hind leg began thumping against the ground in glee at the movement, head rolling to press affectionately against the side of Jimin’s own. You watched on in awe, fingers absolutely itching to join Jimin in giving this good boy the pets he deserved.

Your Ina? He’s your pet?” you asked, watching the interaction and the softness of Jimin’s countenance with increasing fondness. Even so, a part of you felt oddly betrayed. You’d been here how long and hadn’t known there were giant dogs roaming about willy nilly? An absolute travesty!

Meanie’s head whipped from where it was laying against Jimin’s, and to your complete and utter surprise he then proceeded to give you the stink eye. Jimin let out a loud, tinkling laugh.

“No, Meanie is not a pet. He is my companion.” Jimin’s smile didn’t leave as he turned his gaze from the creature, to you, then back again. “The people of my clan have very strong bonds with the Ina. From birth, we are paired with an Ina pup, and form a connection with them as we grow up.”

You rose to your feet as you listened to him, advancing slowly—although, it was more for just in case than anything, since Meanie seemed to have forgotten about your offense and had since resumed laying his head on Jimin. The creature seemed to be an absolute softie, and it tickled you that his name was Meanie when he seemed to be such a gentle soul.

“That’s so cool!” you said, mindful of not being too loud. “You two have a connection? Can you hear each other’s thoughts?”

Jimin shot you a look of surprise, smiling with something akin to pride. “Yes, actually. Although, I think that he is better attuned to my thoughts than I am to his—I mostly hear him when he is hungry, or lonely. Isn’t that right, pupa?”

The dog—you’d already resigned to recognising him as that in your head for convenience’s sake— had the nerve to roll his eyes, turning his oversized head to give you a look that had too much exasperation within it for you to take seriously. You snorted, and Jimin grinned. His eyes caught the way your fingers twitched, and he gestured to Meanie.

“You can pet him, he won’t mind. He is a sucker for it, actually. Don’t tell him that I told you.”

The dog huffed, but you caught his eye on you expectantly. Laughing once more, you sidled closer and allowed your fingers to sink into the long fur at the back of his neck. It was thick, downy, yet silken and smooth as you ran your fingers through it. It took more effort than expected to delve them deep enough to be able to deliver a good scratch, but when you finally made it the reaction Meanie gave was worth it. He wobbled, swaying towards Jimin before wobbling again at another scratch of your nails against his skin and swaying back towards you.

A surprised squeak escaped you as he sagged against you completely, your arms coming up to embrace him around his thick neck, hands still scratching where they could. “Meanie! You cutie! You’re so cute and handsome, wah, what are we gonna do with you?! I’ve never seen a puppy so handsome in my life…”

You pressed your face into his fur, feeling his resulting amused rumble and happy trill against your skin. “I’m—I don’t think I’m ever gonna let go. I can’t. You’ve beaten me, Meanie. I’m defeated. You have my heart.”

You didn’t know if these Ina creatures could laugh, but it sure felt like they could. Jimin, too, let out a soft chuckle. It was silent a moment before his smooth tone sounded in the air once more.

“Are you still hungry, petal?”

The pet name made heat blossom across your face, and you were thankful that the thick fur of the animal you currently had it buried in shielded it from view. Yes, you came onto Jimin on the daily, but that didn’t mean you weren’t allowed to have a little shame every now and then. Gotta keep yourself grounded, after all.

“I’m always hungry,” you said, trying not to voice how unreasonably embarrassed you were. Meanie made what sounded like a noise of agreement, and Jimin snorted in response.

“Then follow me,” he said, “You are already in my gardens, you may as well come further in for some lunch. I have some fruits that are actually edible.”

You pulled your face from Meanie’s fluffy neck, at first preparing to fire something sassy back but instead settling for a bright smile when you realised just how empty your stomach was feeling. Well, it was empty enough earlier that you’d attempted to climb a tree for some fruit, so you weren’t doing that great to begin with, arguably.

“Fine, since you insist,” you shot back playfully, hands still idly scratching the oversized pup before you. He was appreciative, if his happy rumbling was anything to go by. It was like there was a motor that thrummed to life deep in his chest, vibrating against your body where it was pressed to his. God, you loved animals. So easy to read and get along with.

Jimin’s lips pursed before being tugged into an amused smile, the male turning on his heel and beginning to walk away. “Well, if you’d be so kind as to follow—my rooms are right this way. Come, Meanie. If she tries to slip away, drag her back.”

Jimin was joking (you hoped), and Meanie seemed to realise so (you hoped), so you weren’t as alarmed as you might have been if anyone else directed a creature like Meanie to essentially prevent you from running away.

Which you weren’t going to do, by the way. You didn’t know if Jimin really thought you would, but you’d be surprised if it was the case since you were so open and vocal about your interest in him.

Meanie nudged his head into your shoulder, and it was only then that you realised you'd been staring absently at Jimin's retreating form a little too long. Taking the hint, you reached to rub behind one of the creatures tall, pointy ears and he gave an approving huff as he began to prompt you after his companion.

To be honest, you were expecting a longer trip than what you got; it was barely a minute later that you were emerging from the vibrant greens, blues and iridescent hues of the gardens and encroaching upon a path, and then the familiar material of the palace walls came into view. Jimin made a beeline for a gap in the wall, which you realised was actually a large doorway housing two large double-doors, each embedded with two large, glassy windows. It surprised you to see the material, since you'd noticed a lot of the windows in the palace had nothing at all guarding them, but you supposed that being on the ground floor and so close to gardens and forestry, you wouldn't want anything unsavoury crawling in.

Even though you followed the kelkie inside the room without question, it didn't click until you were several paces into it that it was his room. It was large, very spacious and somewhat minimally decorated. His bed was to the left wall adjacent to the doorway you'd just come through, mattress bigger than some of the ones you'd seen in the guest wing and blocked off by thin gossamer-looking material that spilt from the ceiling, partly obscuring the gleam of silken sheets and blankets. Jimin was the type to make his bed every day, it seemed, and it shouldn't have made you, a being that left a trail of mess and chaos behind you by accident everywhere you went, more attracted to him but it did. Somehow, it did. You thought that at this point you were honestly so far gone he could probably confess to sucking his thumb as he slept and you'd take it in stride without even so much as batting a lash.

"Woah," you muttered without realising, eyes sweeping over his room and taking in each and every detail you could. You were in his room, damn it, and it might not have been under the circumstances you really wished-- not to say they wouldn't hopefully come true one day-- but damn it if you were going to squander the opportunity for some more insight into who he really is. "Nice crib."

The alien shot you an odd, curious look at that, head tilting for a moment before he returned to whatever he was doing before you spoke-- which, it seemed, was taking a bowl of curiously coloured fruits and a jug from a table against the wall to the right of the room. He shook his head, evidently deciding he didn't need to know what the word 'crib' meant (you'd seen the question in his eyes), and turned from the table to begin making his way over. You hadn't realised before, but next to the doorway you'd come through was a small table of medium width, the obsidian-like stone polished and gleaming in the light from the doorway. Two plush cushions sat on the floor, and on top of the table was a small cube pot made of the same material as the table in a lighter shade, an endearingly flowering plant sprouting from the soil within.

Jimin moved and placed the bowl there, along with the jug, and gestured for you to take a seat while he went back to the other table to retrieve something else-- you realised after he pulled whatever he was looking for from a cupboard there that it was actually cups. Following his direction without even thinking, you plopped down on the cushion and narrowly avoided banging your knee on the edge of the table, thankful that Jimin's back was currently to you since you hadn't pulled the most attractive of expressions at your near-miss. There was a huff from behind you, reminding you of Meanie's presence, and you turned just in time to see the gigantic creature flopping down on the other side of the room; there was something there on the floor, like a thin mattress, that was covered in soft throws and blankets. The canine creature settled down and nestled into the fabrics, curling up endearingly and letting out a huff as he relaxed. He looked ready to sleep, but his lidded eyes remained open and flicked occasionally from you to the alien now approaching where you were seated.

"These are the fruits you can eat," he said, apparently still very tickled by what he'd caught you doing earlier. Fine, if it made him that happy then you supposed you'd just have to accept the blow to your pride. You were glad your limited brain cell count amused him.

“Excellent,” you said, wriggling in your seat somewhat excitedly. “I’m starving. They’ve banned me from the kitchens, you know. It’s only for a week and it’s only been a day but it’s rough, man.”

Jimin looked like he was trying very hard not to burst into laughter, a somewhat incredulous yet unsurprised expression morphing his features.  “You got banned from the kitchens? What on Kilkea did you do? You practically live there.”

“I know,” you sighed, scratching the back of your neck as you averted your gaze. “They got sick of me walking in all the time. Apparently it interrupts their groove.”

Jimin’s head tilted, but he looked like he wasn’t going to question it. Admittedly, you felt a bit insulted. You couldn’t tell him that the real reason you’d been banned was because you kept singing and nearly set the entire kitchen ablaze when you attempted to make earth cookies yesterday, though. So there you sat, accepting it as his opinion of you no doubt grew more comfortable where it sat at rock bottom.

Jimin placed the cups onto the table, taking his seat more gracefully than you anticipated after nearly falling and impaling your knee on the corner yourself. Well, some people were just born graceful, you supposed. You don’t know whether he saw the nervous way you eyed the fruits or whether he was just so used to you by now that he knew you were kind of useless, but he took a fruit—purple-tinged and very juicy looking—and went about peeling it much like you would a mandarin, before plopping it before you on the table and picking up one for himself.

Delighted and perhaps a little too eager to taste the fruit considering its insides were blue, you picked it up and broke it into the sections it naturally grew in. It wasn’t long before the first piece was in your mouth, teeth piercing it and causing tart, but overall sweet flavour to sink into your tongue. A surprised noise left you before you could stop it, quickly followed by a hum of approval in explanation. Jimin hid his smile by shoving a piece of the fruit in his mouth too.

“If that’s the case, I am surprised it took you this long to get banned,” he mused, poking fun at you once more. You sent him a half-hearted glare, popping another slice in your mouth to resist firing back too quickly. The flavour of this fruit was quite addictive, actually. The perfect balance of sweet and sour, with no unsavoury aftertaste.

“Excuse me?” you blurted as soon as you swallowed your mouthful. “They love me in there, they’ve practically adopted me at this point. Jeonghan says I’m like a daughter to him.”

Jimin rolled his eyes but couldn’t help his smile. It seemed both of you were well-aware of the pastry-chef’s—who you’d actually originally thought was younger than you— overdramatic tendencies. “If Jeonghan adopted everyone he said he would, then this whole castle would be under his care.”

You couldn’t help but laugh at that, even hearing Meanie huff in amusement in the corner. “You’re not wrong.”

You were expecting Jimin to stay silent a little longer, having seen him pick up another piece of fruit, but he surprised you and spoke in the next moment, the piece still uneaten in his grasp.

“On that note, there is something I have to discuss with you.” Jimin’s eyes met yours as he slipped the fruit into his mouth. When you sent him a questioning look, he continued. “Jongin and Jongdae are no longer watching you.”

Oh, that was something you knew already. Your first instinct was to believe you were about to get into trouble—which didn’t seem unlikely, since the two guards weren’t shy about blaming you and your many escape attempts for the relief of their duties in watching you.

“Oh. Yep,” you bit your lip, a bit of nervous laughter trickling out. You wondered whether it would be a safer bet to play dumb about it. “I haven’t seen them in a while? Are they alright? I almost miss them.”

Jimin’s lips quirked like he was trying not to smile. “They are no longer watching you because I relieved them of that duty.”

You paused, trying to follow where he was going with this. Ah, so it was his doing? Okay. But were you in trouble or not…? He had better tell you soon, because you were about to break into a nervous sweat.

“Uh, do you want an apology?” you asked, risking a shot in the dark. Jimin blinked at you for a moment before a sudden laugh came tumbling out of him.

“No, there’s no need for an apology,” he managed through his chuckles. “At least, not to me. I am only mentioning it because you are still going to be under someone’s care, it just will not be theirs.”

“Okay, well, in that case I feel I should tell you that I might have needed ‘monitoring’ when I first got here, yeah, maybe, but now I’m perfectly fine wandering on my own! If you want I’ll even promise to bother Namjoon or Yoongi if I need help or something, but I don’t think I need—” you paused mid-defensive-rant, another thought occurring to you that seemed to override the first—a shred of fear wormed its way into your tone as you sought to verify your sudden concerns. “Wait, whose care?”

Jimin plucked another piece of fruit from the rest, plopping it into his mouth and answering you somewhat nonchalantly and without so much as a blink. “Mine.”

“Well I don’t want Seokjin’s—wait, what?” You were thankful you didn’t have anything in your mouth just then because you definitely would have choked on it in your shock. “C-come again?”

“You heard me,” Jimin said, a sly look to his eyes. His marks were flushed an all-too-cheeky plum. “You’re too slippery for me to delegate the task to anyone else, so I will be the one watching you. We only have one kitchen, after all, we can’t afford to have it in flames.”

Your cheeks flushed suddenly with heat, the sensation of more of the humiliating type than the flustered. Oh, so he already knew of yesterday’s escapades. Oops. Still, that aside, you were already struggling to come to terms with what he’d told you. He was going to be watching you from now on? Like, in person? Or in a more ‘eyes in the walls’ kind of way? You didn’t know which was worse, to be honest. Was this the end of your freedom? Wait, but on the flip side…. More time spent with Jimin. Holy crap, you probably shouldn’t have been as excited as you were beginning to feel. Down, you swatted the butterflies in your stomach, down girls!

“O-oh,” you managed, still attempting to regulate the mess that had suddenly exploded in your brain. You didn’t have enough mental RAM for this. “I see. Well…”

In a desperate bid to claim back your cool and swagger, you plopped another piece of fruit in your mouth and raised your brows. Poor timing, but it seemed your dignity defence system had been activated.

“Good luck to you, then! I won’t be tied down! I will remain as slippery as ever and I’ll wish you luck in your efforts to catch me—fruitless, as they will be!”

And then you smacked your fingers on the table, grabbing the cup and taking a hearty sip. For all the bravado you’d just shown, you felt any semblance of normalcy you’d just mustered go flying out the window when you caught Jimin’s gaze and saw the challenge simmering in their depths, his marks tinted jade.

Well, maybe you should have waited until after tea time to challenge the Kelkie who was much, much faster and stronger than you.

x     x     x     x     x

 

“So that’s what he said, right, and yet… here I am! I’m too good, I didn’t even leave a trail for him to follow! He should have known better than to think he could catch me… pfft.”

At the silence that followed your words, you paused in your current activity and turned to the male beside you, who in turn simply stood and blinked at you for a moment. Expectantly, you allowed him a moment to muster a response.

“So… you didn’t want to be stuck under my care and yet here you are, chatting away with me the second you slip free of Jimin’s watch?” Seokjin asked, expression telling you he was attempting to understand your reasoning and coming up blank. For a moment, you yourself were stumped for a response—you hadn’t thought of it that way! Your idiot was showing— you made a quick recovery though.

“That was the only thing you got from all I told you?” you queried, before shaking your head and clicking your tongue. “Why do I even bother? I should have gone to annoy Yoongi instead.”

Seokjin seemed to be ignoring you—or at least, what you were saying. He continued like you hadn’t just said anything at all.

“Also, as someone who, and this is a direct quote, ‘wants to climb Jimin like a tree’ at every possible opportunity, isn’t running from him somewhat counterintuitive? I mean, you currently have the perfect excuse to be near him and you are bragging about running away…?” Seokjin’s head tilted, eyes squinting at you as his fingers played with the decorations currently in his hold. He’d made far more progress with his side of the wall than you had, considering you’d spent more time talking than hanging. It was something your teachers had always commented on in school, so you weren’t that surprised in honesty.

You sputtered, several holes having been poked ruthlessly and mercilessly in your logic and your pride. Seokjin, the poker, seemed somewhat pleased at your current stuttering state.  As the pokee in this situation, you were anything but pleased.

“What? No! It’s not counterintuitive!” you warbled, grabbing one of the decorative pieces and slapping it onto some adhesive on the wall. You felt your cheeks heat, shoulders pinching up in embarrassment. “Shut up!”

Even while facing in another direction, you could feel Seokjin as he rolled his eyes.

“Always asking for the flame when she cannot even handle the heat, tsk tsk tsk,” Seokjin uttered, taking the opportunity to click his tongue at you. You bristled but couldn’t form a response, considering he was right. Humiliatingly, despite all your efforts to get closer to Jimin, now that you finally had the perfect excuse to be around him all the time, it was like too much all at once. You were just one woman! And a horny one at that. The people around here should know better than to take the randy things that come out of your mouth at face value.

“I CAN HANDLE IT!” Your outburst was somewhat indignant and left you feeling somewhat like a child, but you didn’t have time to dwell on it. “Just… after an adjustment period. I suddenly went from nothing of something to a lot of something! Give me a break, man, I’ve only got a few cells left up here and they’re on their last legs.”

Seokjin hummed, narrowing his eyes at your head. “I did think that I heard less rattling up there than usual.”

Resisting the urge to hiss at him, you soothed your hackles and decided to change the topic to something that didn’t threaten to give you a heart attack or death-by-shame. “Also, when am I going to be allowed to know about this all-secret event that’s taking place? It’s been so long! And I’m helping you set up, so it must be soon. Surely not all of these people are here helping set up without even knowing…?”

Seokjin didn’t even blink as he responded. “Oh, they know. Actually, you’ve been allowed to know for a while… I think at this point you’re the only one that doesn’t know.”

You blinked, squinting as his words sunk in. “Hey—what? That’s not fair! Why can’t I know? Seokjin! Tell me!”

Mirth played in the kelkie’s eyes as he shot you a look from the side, marks flushed playful lilac. “No way. It’s much more amusing letting you sit and wonder.”

You stared at him, mouth open in shock. This jerk was really just going to let you sit and rot, huh?! Something akin to betrayal began to fill you, a petulant glare slipping onto your face.

“Seokjin!” It was meant to be reprimanding but it came out more like a whine. “Come on, please tell me? I deserve to know! Especially considering it’s just—it’s only—how far away is it, again?”

“It’s in a little less than a week’s time,” Seokjin answered easily, adhering another of the decorations to the wall. They were pretty little things, thin and about the size of your palm but they felt like slices of crystal and glimmered as you would expect such an item to. “You’re actually expected to attend. I believe Joy has even procured a dress for you and has plans for your hair.”

“Oh, I’m invited?” Momentarily touched, you couldn’t help the turn your thoughts took, a smile slipping onto your face before you remembered your stance and wiped it off. “That’s so nice of y—wait! If I’m going then I need to know what the event actually is, Seokjin! Please tell me!”

As you might have predicted, the kelkie was having far too much fun teasing you to be anywhere close to telling you what you want to know. He snorted as he went about sticking another decoration up, pausing afterwards to scan the room and check up on the other decorating jobs being completed by palace workers. When his eyes got to you and looked over how behind you were, he frowned.

“Isn’t the element of the unknown such a thrilling thing, though?” he asked, clearly making fun of you still. “Besides, you don’t need to know to have fun—”

“Seokjinnnnn,” you were outright whining now, the remainder of your dignity having fled you where you stood on top of a stool in one of the great halls in the palace. You wanted to know so badly—for weeks you’d been wondering what was going on! By this point you were growing a little desperate. “Please? Please tell me? Oh please please please—”

Seokjin rolled his eyes and cut you off before your dramatic arm motions could make you fall off the stool. “What do I get out of telling you, though? Currently I’m getting a lot of entertainment out of not telling you, so why should I give that up?”

You gaped at him, bastard!

“You jerk!” you exclaimed, before quickly thinking better of it and backtracking. “Okay, fine. If you tell me I’ll… uh… I’ll stop visiting the kitchens and making a mess all the time.”

Seokjin gave you an amused look. “I know you’ve already been banned from there.”

With a groan of frustration, you threw your hands into the air, just barely catching your balance before you toppled. “Fine! I’ll—I’ll stop wasting your time and calling for you whenever I get bored! I’ll call, I don’t know… I’ll call Yoongi instead.”

Seokjin’s head tilted as he pondered the offer, mulling it over carefully. A moment later he flashed you a smile. “Not the best but it is a start! I will tell you something in exchange for that promise—I want you to promise me, by the way. Out loud. I know that you are slippery.”

You let out a huff, holding down the whines that wanted to escape. Something was better than nothing! If you had something to go off, you could just go and pressure someone else for the answer to the rest of it. With that in mind, you squashed down the minor offence that rose at the fact your reputation as ‘slippery’ had preceded you to such an extent, and forced out the words that would get you what you wanted.

“Do… I have to?” You let out a breath from the effort, wincing. It went against your nature to verbally trap yourself! You had a phobia of contracts!

“Yes.” Seokjin said, deadpan. “Repeat after me, ‘Seokjin, I promise that I will never again call you when—‘”

“Never?!” you interjected, appalled. “Isn’t that a bit hasty—”

“Do you want to know?” the male cut you off, brows raised. He rested a hand on his hip and the sudden movement of his body made the inky locks atop his head shift, flopping across his forehead. “If so, say it.”

Pushing down the remainders of your pride was more difficult than usual, but somehow you managed it. Grumbling, you smacked another decoration onto the wall, watching it fall to the floor in disdain because there wasn’t enough adhesive.

“Fine. Seokjin, I promise that I will never again call you when I am bored. I will… call someone else… instead…”

It might have been like he was trying to bleed water from a rock, but Seokjin couldn’t have looked more smug or pleased with himself—even despite how admittedly lacklustre your promise was.

“Excellent!” he cheered, smearing more adhesive on the wall and pasting a decoration where you had attempted to just moments ago. “Now, do know that if you go back on your word it is a punishable offence. I’m thinking…” He tapped his chin, eyes averted in thought as his marks shimmered blue. “No pudding for at least three months.”

Despite the fact it was only a threat and you weren’t actually being punished with that, you felt panic well up within you. Damn, he’s good. You gulped. “I-I won’t… Don’t you even know me, Seokjin? My honour… my integrity…. Renowned across the galaxy.”

Seokjin rolled his eyes so heavily you worried for a split second they were going to drop from his skull. “Of course. As we all know.”

You huffed, taking it in stride considering he was about to finally tell you what you’d been wanting to know for weeks now. Making a rare wise choice, you decided to clamp your mouth shut and wait for Seokjin to enlighten you. It seemed to work in your favour, as Seokjin too is a man that enjoys talking and the second you provided a conversational gap for him he was inclined to fill it.

“It’s for the King and Queen,” Seokjin said, placing some adhesive on the wall in front of you in an unspoken prompt to get back to work. “They’re back from their leave soon, but that’s not the only reason we are celebrating.”

Seokjin turned, meeting your gaze with a fond look in his eye coupled with a hint of excitement, both of which you presumed were directed at the royal couple. “They’re expecting, you see, and since the Queen is human, it has broken an unfortunate cycle that has plagued the royal line for centuries. After what happened to the King’s late parents… the people are overjoyed they won’t have to see that again.”

Curiousity instantly bubbled and burned within you, but at the same time…. You almost felt like it wasn’t your place to ask about whatever happened. It didn’t affect you, so you reasoned you should probably leave it for now. Besides, you felt like you’d find out eventually. Instead, you focused your thoughts onto the other parts of what he’d told you. Piece by piece, it sunk in.

“I almost forgot the Queen is human,” you muttered, filling space while your brain processed—it finished barely a moment later and you looked to Seokjin with wide eyes as realisation smacked you in the face several times. “Wait, she’s pregnant?! But they’re—so humans and kelkies can—?!”

Amused, and looking like he apparently expected a reaction like this from you, Seokjin snorted. “Well, we weren’t sure. But apparently so.”

“Huh. That’s really lovely, everyone must be super excited for them,” you said, a billion thoughts whirring through your mind at once. One made itself a little more known than the others, and an odd feeling filled your chest.

Seokjin seemed to tell you were attempting to try and word something, and gave you a moment to put it together. You couldn’t look him in the eye as you spoke, for once feeling oddly and uncharacteristically vulnerable.

“She chose to stay, then… Was it an easy choice?” You didn’t even know why you’d asked it, but it made it’s way out of your mouth nonetheless.

The kelkie gave you a curious look, but otherwise didn’t question you. “Well, for her… She wasn’t going to, at first. There were a few other crucial factors that influenced her decision, for a while. But ultimately, once they cleared… she chose what was going to make her happiest. I recall she once told me she felt surprisingly at home, here. Not long after arriving, she found herself wanting to stay.”

At his words, you weren’t sure how you were supposed to feel. Your entire life there has been something in a constant state of unrest within you. You’ve hopped from job to job, world to world, life to life. None have fit, and none have soothed that flighty feeling inside any better than the last. You almost grow tired of it; sometimes you’ve found yourself wondering if this is how you’re going to live the remainder of your years, never settling, never finding somewhere you feel truly at home. Earth was where you were born, but it wasn’t a home to you. None of the groups you’d ever found your way to had ever felt like the perfect fit. You’ve never once felt inclined to stay at the places you have been, or entertained the notion past that of a stray thought.

But his words gave you pause, because for the first time in your life the feeling inside you had changed, and you were beginning to realise its new form.

It was in such stark contrast to who you knew yourself to be, that it actually frightened you, a little. This feeling had a few names and you were afraid to utter any of them.

“You’ve been a lot of places across the galaxy, lived many different ways,” Seokjin’s head tilted, eyes soft, inquisitive. “Was there nowhere that you found yourself wishing to stay?”

Of course, it would be perfectly in character for you to fire back something witty and funny, but you felt oddly vacant, for the barest moment. You met his gaze without thinking, and wondered if he could see the vulnerability as it revealed itself bit by bit within you.

“No, there wasn’t anywhere I wanted to stay.” You paused, swallowing. “But, I mean, being capricious is kind of my thing, you know? I gotta stay on brand.”

Seokjin smiled, before shaking his head.

“It is okay to want to stay, you know. You don’t even have to have a reason.” The male’s eyes were kind as they met your own, and you felt your chest clench. “There is a place for you here, if you decide you want it.”

His words touched you, but in the process stirred up an entire storm of untouched thoughts and emotions within you, the type that blended in together and blurred the lines that bound them. You were nowhere near ready to delve into them right now. Ignoring the surprising prick in your eyes, you shot him a smile. “Thank you for that, Seokjin. I… I think I will just need to think on it.”

He nodded, soft look remaining before it took a different turn and his marks flushed playful blue. His gaze was on you, before it caught something over your shoulder and his eyes widened incrementally. He schooled his expression so quickly after that you weren’t sure if it had actually happened. “Don’t think too hard on it, though. You’ll overwork the few cells that you have left.”

At the return of the bickering air you were so familiar with, you slipped right back into it with ease—anything to distract from the thoughts he’d unearthed with his kind words.  “Excuse me? There mightn’t be many of them but they pull their weight! My brain cells might be overworked and underpaid but damn it if they don’t get the job done—”

You were ready to keep going, you really were, you had about thirty seconds more content to burn through, but in the worst plot twist of the century you didn’t get to continue. So quickly you almost didn’t see it, Seokjin shifted in his stance on the floor, bracing one hand on the wall. You didn’t even have time to finish wondering why before you found out—the hard way.

Too quick to counter, Seokjin’s foot flew out, making harsh contact with the stool you were precariously perched on. Immediately, inevitably, you were sent tumbling and the bucket of adhesive and decorations on your arm was sent flying off to god knew where. Truly, your hubris in wanting to stand in a cool pose on the stool was to blame for how unsteady and ready to fall you were.

A few things happened rapidly; first, you fell through the air, narrowly saved from a humiliating death-by-head-bump by Seokjin’s lightning fast reflexes. He ended up catching you in a pose that reminded you of when you were dancing with someone and they dipped you—your hair was probably brushing the floor, and Seokjin’s face was much, much closer than you ever expected to see it. Second, there was the loud sound of your stool clattering onto the ground. Third, there was a round of gasps that you figured sounded because you fell.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you were wrong in assuming everything was about you.

You blinked, the realisation that Seokjin knocked you off the stool sinking in and instantly riling you up—you were about to open your mouth and chew him out when a third, and final, sound echoed through the room. A sharp CLANG, and then the distinct sound of hollow metal rolling across the floor. It gave you pause, the sound occurring much later than it should have—it should have dropped straight to the ground, right?

A sense of dread beginning to curl within you, you dared to turn your head and peer to the side, where your back had been facing earlier. At once, you realised you were dead.

The alien love of your life stood in the doorway to the room, a mere few metres away, which should make you either giddy or overjoyed, but it was the sight of gooey adhesive dripping thickly down his face from where it had pooled in his hair that prevented such a reaction. Your bucket rolled around by his feet, some decorations joining it on the ground and others stuck in the glue that was quickly becoming acquainted with Jimin’s entire front.

His eyes had been closed, presumably on reflex, but they opened after a hand rose to wipe the thick goo from them—thankfully, it hadn’t reached his actual eyes. The dark pools flitted about the room before landing on you; his marks stained dark, dark red, and after scanning your form and witnessing the debacle around you, turned deep, murky green.

You might have been stupid, but even you knew when death was about to grab you in its clutches. You scrambled, trying to get out of Seokjin’s grip but failing miserably—oh, so he’s your executioner, huh? Bastard. And right after you bonded, too.

“y/n.” You jolted like you’d been electrocuted, eyes whipping back to Jimin; something burned in his gaze that made your stomach drop and legs wobble, even while he was covered in goo. He took two slow, long steps until he was close enough that just the three of you could hear him speak—his voice when he did, low and raspy as it was, made you shiver. “My room. Midmoon, tonight. If you are not ready then the punishment for making such a mess of preparations for such an important event will worsen. Don’t force my hand on that, petal.

His gaze bore into you for a long, potent moment after he spoke, before it flicked to where Seokjin had his hold on you, jaw clenching so hard you saw his temple shift. Eyes harder and burning more intensely than before, he delivered you one last look—a very decidedly pissed one—before he turned on his heel and stalked from the room, beginning to wipe away adhesive as he went.

For a few seconds after he disappeared, you simply hung in place, in a state of shock. The sound of Seokjin’s amused snort brought you back, however, and instantly you recalled exactly who was to blame for your newly scheduled death.

“You rat,” you hissed, glaring at him. “How could you?! Now I’m going to die! Oh you know what, if I hadn’t just promised yo—OW! SEOKJIN!”

Mercilessly, the male released his hold, you dropped, and an instant pain shot through your behind. Why was it that you were always falling on your ass in this palace?! God! It hurts so damn much!

“The day is coming to an end, y/n,” Seokjin said, straightening and looking very much unapologetic and entirely too humoured. “You better go get ready.”

Realising just how late into the afternoon it had gotten, you scrambled to your feet, panicked and affronted. Deciding you couldn’t afford to stay and bicker if you were going to flee the solar system in time, you settled for a glare and flipped Seokjin the bird, uncaring whether he understood it.

“I hate you!” you exclaimed as you turned and started to flee. “I’m ending this friendship, Seokjin! After this don’t even look at me, traitor!”

Seokjin’s rare, squeaky laughter breached the air as you left, the sound chasing you down the hall mockingly.

If you didn’t die tonight, you were going to kill him for trying to kill you.