Jongguk was a young man who was ostracized long before be became a man, all because he had a penchant for books— magic books in particular. He liked to read spells, learn them, and attempt them, even if he knew that he'd never actually cast one successfully. He was only human after all.
He also liked to cover himself up a lot, not because his skin was sensitive to anything; Jeongguk just liked the comfort of being warm, even if it already was warm to everyone else around him.
The man had been raised in an orphanage where the village rejects were sent to live. He never knew who his parents were— never knew why they abandoned him— but no matter. There was no point in looking for people who didn't want him in their lives.
Villagers were fairly against his presence already— always scowling him, always avoiding at him. The only person who really cared for him was his Seokjin-hyung, the orphanage owner's one and only son.
His hyung knew that he was a bit quirky with his likes, but he also knew that Jeongguk was completely harmless. The boy was one with a passion for a subject not many favored— feared even— and yet could barely even raise a hand against a fly.
Seokjin knew the younger man would never do anything dangerous, so it came as a shock to him when one day, Jeongguk came home with tattoos. Large, vivid tattoos, all full of shapes and words in a language only Jeongguk bothered to study— the language of spells.
Seokjin asked what the spells meant, and Jeongguk only smiled when he replied "it's a spell for eternal happiness"
Others hadn't known this though, and at the sight of the tattoos, the foreign language, and man himself, the villagers decided that enough was enough— that Jeongguk must leave.
Seokjin attempted to help Jeongguk, but when a warning of him being banished with the "cursed" man was raised, Jeongguk made the older stand down with a whisper of "thank you" and "I love you, hyung" before he made his leave— a select few of his belongings at hand— to the place his village deemed fit for a man who wielded "magic."
He was sent to a cursed forest, one that was supposedly where creatures of all kind resided. If he was going to base it on what he'd come across so far as he tredded deep into the forest though, it was just an average, densely packed forest with an eerie feeling to it— one that he assumed was the feeling of unfamiliarity— of danger.
Jeongguk just shrugged it off. He was going to live there so there was no point in being perpetually panicking about his new residence. He'd get used to it eventually.
A few hours of trekking later, he found a rather large lake and decided to rest there. He was tired and hungry, and out of desperation, he checked if the water was fresh and as he cupped as much as he could into his admiteddly not-very-clean hands, it was as fresh as it could be considering he was in a forest at least, and Jeongguk was ever grateful for the fact.
He decided then and there that that would be his new home for a while, knowing that a water source was going to be important if he wanted to stay alive. The man indulged himself in finally resting and taking a moment to breathe before looking around.
Jeongguk spots a couple of trees that seemed to form a decent enough framework for him to work with, three trees twisting together, almost as it they were combining into one. The space between them though, was what Jeongguk eyed.
The man had read a few survival books that explained the basics of how to construct a temporary home in case the off chance of him being exiled would happen and well... at least the cost of the books were worth it in the end. He began forming walls and a roof around the framework, doing the best that he could with his lack of experience.
While he was working, he focused, ignoring the ache in his bones, the burn in his muscles, and the hunger he knew was growing and growing until his tummy growled angrily at him and he had to pause, finally registering the nearing sunset and he clicked his tounge.
"food, food, food..." he chanted to himself like a mantra as he looked around, leaving his shabby excuse of a home— weak twigs stuck together with vines to form walls barely covering anything (barely even staying together if he was being honest)— as it was to find some sustenance.
He found a few berries near the lake, gathering as much as he could after determining that they weren't going to internally kill him, munching and collecting the seeds as he looked for more. Once satisfied with how much he had, though he was sure he wouldn't be filled with just berries, he stopped and took his time to sit next to the lake for another well-deserved break.
Jeongguk had done a lot that day, and he was already running out of energy to do any more labor.
He ate by the lake, watching his reflection, taking in how dirty he looked. He looked messy— odd compared to other villagers because of the tattoos he got, not because he murdered anyone or because he's a "witch," but more because be thought they looked pretty cool and the spell he got inked permanently on his skin was one that he genuinely wanted to casted on himself, for himself.
Jeongguk sighed at the thought, knowing that despite the clean intentions behind them, the tattoos were the last straw that caused his village to finally make him leave. He was too weird after all— too different— and people feared what was different from what they're used to.
A cold breeze passed and he shivered, realizing that he should probably put a fire up before the sun would go all the way down. As he moved to get up, turning away, he didn't notice the way his reflection stayed.
He didn't notice the piercing gaze watching him as he walked away.
That night, after an extremely difficult time trying to fall asleep, he dreamed of a man— a faceless man whose hands reached out to him, inviting. welcoming.
"be mine" a deep, echoing voice sounded. "and I'll be yours"
Weeks later, Jeongguk had grown accustomed to his new living quarters. He made his home the slightest bit more home-y, bedding the slightest bit more bearable after gathering as much non-irritating leaves as he could, roof and walls the slightest bit more stable after trying and testing several tecgniqies that could work to actually make solid planes of wood connect properly.
He always had dreams too, the man in them seemingly becoming more vivid everytime, but Jeongguk hadn't known how to respond to the odd invitation, so he hadn't.
not yet, at least.
"youre quite beautiful" the faceless man told him that night. "you look different from other humans"
"so you're not a human?" no reply.
Jeongguk sighed, staring at the man deeply, trying his damned best to try and decifer the blur of his features.
"why do you only visit me in my dreams?" he finally asked. "why me?"
"I would visit you when you're conscious if you'd just accept me" the deep voice replied, arms reaching out, almost like he was asking for a hug.
Jeongguk shook his head no. "why me?" he asked again.
"you are the only mortal to have come across my lake" he replied and "your lake?"
Jeongguk lifted his eyebrow at that. "where are you then?" he questioned. "why won't you show yourself to me?"
"because you won't let me" the man sighed, head shaking tiredly. Like they already talked about this before. (they did.)
"winter is nearing" the man suddenly noted. "best be sure that you have food to get by"
Jeongguk pouted at that. "but I suck at hunting"
The man chuckled. "I'm aware"
"help me then"
"only if you let me be yours"
"fine" he stood. "be difficult then"
The man chuckled again. "see you tomorrow night, Jeongguk"
Another huff. "whatever..."
(he'd never admit that he liked the man's presence— appreciated it, even if he may just be a figment of his imagination.)
It was when Jeongguk was washing his clothes (or what he was able to salvage of them at least) that Jeongguk finally fully realized that he's in a forest. alone. vulnerable.
He felt the piercing gaze from his back, the man freezing in his movements as he was drying his clothes. He didn't know what it was, but he knew that he wasn't going to find shelter from whatever the it was when his home was just a shabby assortment of twigs and rocks miraculously balancing on one another.
Jeongguk gulped, staring at his own reflection in the water when he heard a deep growl and he shuddered.
It wasn't hiding anymore, slowly approaching its prey with confidence. Jeongguk had nowhere to go. The beast already won.
He squeezed his eyes shut, already accepting his fate when "accept me" a familiar voice suddenly sounded.
"let me protect you"
Jeongguk gulped, hoping for a miracle and for his imaginary friend to be real that very moment.
"how..?" he whispered out, the beast behind him growling at the sound and Jeongguk flinched, biting back his whimper.
"jump in the water" the voice replied.
"jump in the water" Jeongguk repeated with a scoff. "as if that would save me"
The growl was coming closer. Jeongguk was doomed.
"jump in the water and say my name"
"you never told me what your name is, idiot"
"just do it, Jeongguk"
He sighed, sending a quick "thank you" to his imaginary friend for trying at least. Jeongguk held his breath, stared at his reflection, and jumped. His leg got caught by a claw, a deep wound in his calf spreading red where he fell in.
In the water, he could see the beast about to jump after him. In the water, he sees red, his body growing colder and colder, head feeling lighter and lighter until he whispers out a name he'd never heard of before— a name he never thought would be his dying breath.
He closed his eyes, releasing the last of the air he had left. The last thing he felt was warmth, a gentle hand caressing his cheek, and "finally" a deep voice comforting sounded.
Jeongguk felt weightless, consciousness separating from his body when he felt a warmth on his lips— a warmth that spreads, his nerve endings feeling alight when "now" the voice sounded. so close. so warm.
"now you are mine"
Jeongguk wakes up to a comforting warmth around him. He felt nice. Safe.
He snuggled into the warmth, indulging himself in the feeling he'd never got to feel before when a deep chuckle sounded from above him and he frowned, glancing up and what—
"took you long enough" The handsome man, dressed in seemingly really uncomfortable clothes (in his eyes at least) chuckled before he kissed Jeongguk.
"you made me wait months, Jeongguk" He caressed the mortal's cheek gently, tucking a stray strand of hair delicately behind his ear. He gave the man another kiss, but this time, it lingered, a large warm hand caressing the dip of Jeongguk's back. "I thought I'd never get to have you for a while there"
He sighed. "to think I almost lost you..."
Jeongguk blinks, finally registering the fact that this man, whoever he was, was a stranger, and Jeongguk, well.
He pushed the pliant arms away, scrambling to get away until his back hit a solid surface and "who are you?"
The stranger mocked a pout. "aw, don't you remember who I am?"
"no." Jeingguk glared, completely oblivious of how exposed he was where he sat, legs spread, feet anchoring him to stick as close to the wall as possible, as far away from the stranger that had him completely vulnerable in his arms (kissing and touching him as much as he pleased) as possible.
"aw" the man moved to lay down on— on a bed?
Jeongguk glanced around, finally taking in his surroundings and realizing that he was in a room. The floor was slightly flooded, but the bed where they laid was seemingly dry despite being soaked in the water.
There were intricate details on the walls, and the room itself was rather small. It would've made him feel claustrophobic had it not been designed so beautifully.
Eitherway, Jeongguk had no idea where he was.
"relax, Jeongguk" the man stretched, Jeongguk's eyes bulging, breath hitching when he registered the large black wings stretching high above the man's body as he did so.
"we're in the lake" the man— thing? grinned. "not far from home"
"what are you?"
"hmm?" the thing sat up, stretching some more, wings fluttering as he did so. "well I'm not human, that's for sure"
Jeongguk rolled his eyes at the remark. "ha ha. very funny"
"look at you being so comfortable with yourself already" The thing smiled, charming, yes, but still. This thing was just kissing him and Jeongguk didn't even know who or what it was.
"I'm the guy who always visits your dreams by the way" it grinned teasingly. "just in case you were wondering" and oh. oh.
Jeongguk gulped, memories of what happened before he passed out resurfacing and the man was suddenly so much closer than he was earlier.
This guy saved him from that beast. How, he had no idea, but he remembered the warmth— the comfort; the exact same comfort he felt when he woke up in the creature's arms.
The winged man smiled, careful hand caressing the man's face, eyes so fond when he hummed in reply. "then—" Jeongguk sputtered as Taehyung moved his other hand, both now delicately caressing his face, finally taking in his features— his beautiful doe eyes— directly for the first time.
"then... this is a dream?" Taehyung chuckled at the words, wings fluttering when he leaned back into Jeongguk's space.
The man's breath hitched at the feeling of lips against his own. so soft. so warm.
They press gently, deeply, so very carefully until Taehyung leaned away, eyes gentle when he asked:
"did that feel like a dream to you, Jeongguk?" and the man, breathless, heart hammering out of his chest, could only reply honestly.
"yes" he sighed, hands reaching forward, touching the face he never imagined would be so real— so beautiful— for the very first time and he's real.
Taehyung... He's real.
"yes, it did"