22 Call a Truce Pt.3

    With discoloured rags as his disguise, Taehyung hummed to himself cheerfully as he trudged towards the main city with a skip in his step. At last, he thought to himself, freedom away from that stupid guard. He grinned as he approached the familiar sounds of creaking, wooden wheels and merchants shouting. The low-key buzzing of the busy market streets caressed his eardrums causing his grin to spread even more.

    He sighed contentedly, this is what life is about.

    Taehyung whistled as he ambled through the bustling market streets, stealthily eyeing up the vibrant fruit that was on display. Which one should I get today? he asked himself. He glanced at the market stalls and spotted the familiar orange fruit that he had targeted last time: juicy persimmons. Taehyung debated whether he should steal them again today. It has been a while since I stole them last... he thought. He shrugged as he made up his mind to execute his plan.

    With cat-like reflexes, Taehyung covertly approached the fruit stall from the side, using the huddle of scruffy customers as his shield. While the vendor was occupied with tending to her customers, Taehyung sneakily reached his scrawny hand out to the nearest persimmon. He could almost taste the delicate sweetness when suddenly, someone's hand intercepted his.

    Startled, Taehyung glanced up.

    "Did you not learn anything from last time?" he heard a steely voice ask.

    Taehyung's eyes widened when he saw who it was. "Gyuri?"

    Gyuri glared at him as she inconspicuously tugged his hand away from the fruit and pulled him to the side. "I can't believe you!" she spat. "What are you doing trying to steal again?"

    "That is none of your business" he snapped. Taehyung snatched his hand away from her grasp. "And what are you doing here anyway? Why did you follow me?"

    "I had no choice" she replied. "The guard found out almost immediately that you went missing so I had to sneak out."

    "You managed to sneak out without being spotted?" Taehyung was amazed. "How?"

    Gyuri smirked. "I have my ways." But then her serious demeanour returned, "But that's beside the point. If I knew you were gonna steal again I wouldn't have helped you."

    Taehyung rolled his eyes.

    "Don't you know that stealing is bad?"

    "I do not need you to lecture me" he sneered. Taehyung started walking away and Gyuri ran after him.

    "What are you gonna do now?" she questioned him. "You better not try to steal again. While I'm with you, I won't allow it."

    Taehyung halted in his step, allowing Gyuri to catch up. "Look," he said while frowning. "Just return home if you are going to reprimand me. I have business to attend to."

    Taehyung raced ahead and Gyuri trailed behind him. For a few minutes, they walked in silence. Taehyung walked briskly, ignoring Gyuri, who was eyeing him like a hawk. After a while, he eventually turned to her and shouted, "Why are you still following me? Go away already!"

    "I won't" she simply answered, which infuriated him more.

    "Fine" he scowled. "At least I can explain to them why I came empty-handed today."

    Gyuri looked at him quizzically, "They?"

    Taehyung marched ahead with renewed irritation. The pair strolled in silence as they meandered through the bustling market streets until they eventually reached the less attractive side of town.

    Gyuri surveyed her surroundings warily. Taehyung had led them to a desolate street that was dark and eerie and reminded her so badly of the ghetto streets in her neighbourhood. Immediately, she was on guard. She glimpsed at Taehyung, who was a few steps ahead of her, who didn't appear bothered by the imminent danger they might be in. Shadows danced on the walls as they continued to venture deeper into unknown territory, all the while making Gyuri jumpy from the growing anticipation that something bad might happen.

    "L-let's turn back..." Gyuri whispered as she suddenly heard the screeching of a cat which startled her.

    Taehyung smirked. "Why? Are you scared?"

    She frowned at him, "N-no. I-I'm just worried about you. What if those thugs find you again? We were lucky that Master Namjoon came last time."

    "Those ruffians will not dare to attack again" Taehyung reassured her. "They now know who we are."

    At this, Gyuri eyed him curiously.

    Taehyung stopped walking as they exited the desolate street. "We are here" he murmured. He scanned the field of rich, green grass and spotting two profiles in the distance, he smiled. Energetically, Taehyung raced ahead.

    "Hey! Wait up!"

    But Taehyung didn't. He ran with vigour while calling out to the two people on the horizon. "Chun Chun! Gulnar!"

    The two profiles turned their heads around at the sound of Taehyung's voice and Gyuri soon discovered that they were two small children. The children gave toothy grins at the sight of Taehyung approaching them.

    "Papa!" the young boy exclaimed with outstretched arms. Taehyung kneeled to the ground as the little boy hugged him.

    Gyuri tentatively trailed behind. Papa? She watched as Taehyung lifted the little boy and spoke to the small girl who seemed to be just a few years older.

    "How have you been, Chun Chun?" she heard Taehyung ask the young lass.

    Chun Chun replied, "We're doing well, Tae. We've been rationing the persimmons you got us last time but we're almost out."

    "Are you gonna get us more food, Papa?" the little boy asked while in Taehyung's arms.

    Taehyung had a small smile. "I will try."

    While Taehyung played with Gulnar, the little boy, Chun Chun eventually noticed that Taehyung didn't come unaccompanied. She hid behind him immediately once she spotted Gyuri.

    "Tae... who's that?"

    Taehyung glanced behind him and explained, "Chun Chun, Gulnar, this is Gyuri." He pointed to her and then added, "She's going to help me get food for you today."

    "What?" Gyuri replied. "I'm not-"

    "Are you an orphan too, Gyuri?" Chun Chun asked.

    Gyuri stared back at the young, scruffy lass and observed her closely. She appeared to be around seven or so years old. Her long black hair was matted to her forehead and her skin was a delightful caramel hue. Despite her grubby appearance, Gyuri noticed that her dark eyes were shining with hope and optimism as if seeing Taehyung had lifted her mood a little.

    "Er, no..." Gyuri replied. "I-I'm not."

    "Papa, what is the lady doing here?" Gulnar asked. Gyuri noticed that he had a slight lisp as he spoke. "If she's with you is she... our Mama?"

    "No!" Taehyung and Gyuri shouted in unison.

    "Gulnar, you must not assume that just because she is with me, you can call her 'Mama'" Taehyung brashly added. "She is just a..." he glanced at Gyuri briefly, "a friend."

    "You're pretty," Chun Chun said randomly as she inspected Gyuri's clothes. "Are you a princess?"

    Gyuri chuckled, "I wish I was." She turned to face Taehyung who had released Gulnar. "Young Mast-"

    Suddenly, Taehyung jumped to her side and covered her mouth, bewildering the children with his odd behaviour. He laughed nervously before hissing at Gyuri, "Do not call me that in front of them" and he jerked his head towards the children. "They do not know my true identity."

    Gyuri nodded showing Taehyung that she understood. Finally, he removed his palm. He turned his attention to the two children. "I ran into some trouble earlier so I could not get you guys any food." He glanced at Gyuri, "but Gyuri said that she will help me get some for you today. What do you guys want to eat?"

    "Persimmons!" Gulnar shouted enthusiastically.

    "No, meat buns!" Chun Chun exclaimed.

    "Wait a sec," Gyuri interrupted. She grabbed Taehyung's shoulder and steered him away. "What do you mean I'm gonna help you get food? I already made it clear that I'm not gonna help you steal!"

    "So, you are not going to help me even when it is for them?" He frowned at her. "I did not expect you to be so shallow."

    "I-" Gyuri was caught off guard.

    "Well, that is quite the surprise. You will let these poor children starve?" Taehyung looked pitifully at the starved children who were scavenging for scraps.

    Gyuri was overwhelmed with guilt.

    "Fine. If you are really not going to help then, I insist you return home." Taehyung turned away.

    "Wait," Gyuri called out to him. She sighed as Taehyung waited for her reply. "I'll help you."

    Taehyung smirked.

    "But I'm only gonna do it for them. I'm still not happy about having to steal."

    Taehyung nodded in acknowledgement. "Do not worry. We are not stealing."

    "We're not?"

    "No," Taehyung responded sardonically. "We are just retrieving something that was taken from us."
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