24 Something in Common Pt.2


    "You got so many, Tae!"

    Gyuri watched as the two children clambered on top of Taehyung's rucksack which contained the fluffy meat buns. With their grubby hands, they reached in and took one in each hand, their eyes shining with glee.

    Gulnar made expressive sounds of appreciation as he sunk his small teeth into the meat bun. He smiled happily, his cheeks puffed up as he munched enthusiastically. "It's delicious!" he exclaimed. "Thank you so much, Papa!"

    Taehyung smiled at the little boy fondly. "Anything for you, Gulnar" and he ruffled his long curls.

    "Where did you get them from?" Chun Chun asked in between bites of her meat bun.

    Taehyung exchanged looks with Gyuri. "A kind man gave them to us" he lied. "Actually, we were able to get them thanks to Gyuri."

    Gyuri arched her brow at him. But before she could reply, Chun Chun leapt up to her and gave her a surprise hug.

    "Thank you so much, Gyuri!" she said with sincerity. "These meat buns will last Gulnar and me until next week." She released Gyuri and licked her sticky fingers before reaching into the rucksack for another.

    A small smile crept up Gyuri's lips as she watched Chun Chun and Gulnar eat their fill. When they had left them earlier, Gyuri saw a pair of starved children, picking at what was left of their overripe persimmons. The image of their sunken cheeks and bony bodies was what ultimately convinced Gyuri to comply with Taehyung's plan. Now, seeing the pair happily eat made Gyuri realise that she had done well even though the means weren't exactly morally correct.

    Seeing Gyuri watching the children eat, Taehyung went up to her. He offered her one of the meat buns. "I believe I owe you one."

    Gyuri gave him a small smile as she accepted it. He sat down on the grass beside her as they both eyed the children together.

    "You really care about them, huh?" she commented.

    Taehyung hummed in agreement.

    An awkward silence occurred as they ate their meat buns. Gyuri continued to stare at the children from afar and Taehyung did the same. After a while, Gyuri spoke again.

    "Hey, can I ask you something?"

    Taehyung turned to face her direction.

    "These kids," Gyuri began. "Are they... yours?"

    Taehyung almost choked on his meat bun. "W-what?" he spluttered. "No! Of course not!"

    Gyuri nodded in acknowledgement.

    "What made you think they were mine?"

    Gyuri was thoughtful. "Well, Gulnar calls you 'Papa'."

    Taehyung shook his head at her. "Gulnar calls me 'Papa' because he wants a father figure." He pointed at Chun Chun "but Chun Chun calls me 'Tae' because she knows better than her brother."

    "Oh, so they're siblings?"

    Taehyung affirmed, "Yes. I met them a year or so ago searching for food near the markets. I was just exploring at the time but seeing these orphans struggle every day for the measliest of scraps struck a chord in me and I decided to help."

    "By stealing food?" Gyuri's tone sounded judging.

    Taehyung rolled his eyes. "Can we move past that already?"

    "Okay, okay" Gyuri surrendered. Her eyes crinkled as she added smilingly, "You're kinda like Robin Hood."

    Taehyung was confused. "What is 'Robin Hood'?"

    "Oh, right" she murmured. "Erm, let's just say he's like a hero. Someone who steals from the rich and gives his loot to the poor. It's kinda like what you're doing."

    Taehyung grinned smugly. "I guess I am like a hero."

    Gyuri nudged him playfully, "Don't get all cocky now. Even Robin Hood was still considered a criminal." She turned her attention to the kids again, "so they're orphans, huh? Do you know anything about their parents?"

    "No" Taehyung murmured. "And I do not plan to ask. As far as they know, I am an orphan too."

    "Why do you hide it from them?"

    "Because they will treat me differently if they knew" he answered. "And I am not ready to reveal my identity yet. People always look at me differently when they find out my family name." Taehyung's face darkened as he added solemnly, "It is all everyone can think about once they know."

    Gyuri took note of Taehyung's abrupt change of demeanour. I guess even he has secrets... She murmured tentatively, "Can I ask something else?"

    "Why do you request permission to ask something?" Taehyung responded with a hint of annoyance. "Just ask."

    Gyuri frowned slightly as she proceeded. "Well, I've noticed that there aren't any ladies in the house. During tea, it was just you and your father and your brothers and your cousin."

    At this Taehyung nodded. "And what of it?"

    "Well... where are they?"

    Taehyung hesitated to answer. But eventually, he said, "They are no longer alive."

    Gyuri was taken aback. "Oh."

    "Apart from my cousin, who is married to one of the Lees" Taehyung explained, "there are no other ladies in our branch of the family. My mother... and my brothers' mothers... they all passed away before I can remember."

    "Oh..." Gyuri said again. "I-I'm sorry for asking."

    Taehyung smiled weakly. "What is there to apologise for? It is not like not discussing them will bring them back."

    "No, I guess you're right." She looked above at the blue sky where not a cloud was in sight. "I guess we have something in common then."

    At this Taehyung eyed her questioningly.

    "Me too. I never got to meet my mother" she elaborated, to which Taehyung's eyes softened.

    "In some ways," he mumbled, "we are orphans as well: two individuals deprived of their mother's affection..."

    Gyuri agreed weakly. "Is that why you pretend to be an orphan? To give the children hope?"

    Taehyung shrugged. "I am not really pretending, though am I? Even if I was born in a wealthy family, my situation is no better than the orphans-" Taehyung abruptly stopped as if he had said too much. Flustered, he coughed to clear his throat. "But enough about me. Tell me more about yourself."

    Gyuri rubbed the back of her neck nervously. "There-there's not much to talk about..."

    "Nonsense! Just now you spoke of your mother." His lip curled into a doubtful expression. "Actually, I find it quite peculiar that you were unable to declare your name when we met but just now, you remembered something about your mother..."

    Oh, crap! This kid's onto me!

    "Er, that's not true. I-I mean, I said I never got to meet my mother. That-that doesn't mean I remember something about her." Gyuri looked around wildly, "I'm-I'm an orphan!"

    "But when Chun Chun asked earlier, you said you weren't..." Taehyung persisted, his eyes narrowed. "Gyuri," Taehyung's voice was suspecting, "are you hiding something?"

    "No!" she exclaimed rather too quickly. Not knowing what else to say, she blurted, "Stop trying to get something out of me, you-you- tosser!" And with those words, Gyuri unknowingly slapped Taehyung in the back, almost hurling him face-flat in the grass.

    Taehyung grimaced at her strength. "Ouch! That hurt you stupid peasant!" She had hit him so hard that he suspected he would find a handprint outlined under his shirt.

    Once Gyuri had collected herself, she apologised profusely. "But anyway," she began, keen to recover the good ambience they had. "I gotta say that I kinda admire you for what you're doing."

    "Huh?" Taehyung was immediately distracted by her surprising statement. "You? Admire me?"

    "Yes," Gyuri begrudgingly admitted. Wow, this kid is so easily pleased. She observed how Taehyung's eyes had widened to the size of saucers with his lips slowly curling up into that smug but strangely cute smile. "You kinda surprised me" Gyuri added, just to sweeten him up. "You're a lot nicer than I gave credit for."

    Taehyung hmphed triumphantly at hearing such words. "Well, you should not judge a book by its cover" he replied proudly and his smile widened into a box-like shape.

    Gah, this kid's so full of himself, Gyuri thought, but she herself couldn't help returning his smile. "And I thought that Master Namjoon was the only nice one in the family."

    Taehyung scoffed. "You are just saying that because you have an attachment to Cousin Namjoon." He wiggled his brows suggestively as he continued, "Especially with your frisky conduct during tea."

    Gyuri's cheeks reddened. "I don't have an attachment to him!" she objected, still blushing. "And that was your fault, you tripped me up!"

    Taehyung merely stuck his tongue out playfully.

    "Geez, there's no winning with you, is there? You're such a child."

    Taehyung smirked as he responded, "But you admire this child."

    "No, I don't" Gyuri denied huffily. "But while we're on this topic, how old are you anyway?"

    Taehyung cocked his head. "This will be my twelfth summer."

    Gyuri pursed her lips. "You're twelve?"


    "Then that makes you younger than me!"

    Taehyung blinked. "So?"

    "So? Is that all you have to say for yourself? You should be treating me with respect-I'm your elder!"

    Taehyung merely grunted. "You hardly act like my elder. You are just as childish as I am."

    This Gyuri couldn't refute. Her behaviour for the past week had been equally as bad as Taehyung's- as much as she hated to admit it.

    "It is too bad you had to have an attachment to Cousin Namjoon" Taehyung suddenly said. Gyuri peered at him and he continued, "he is quite the catch but it is unlikely that he will be interested in someone like you."

    Gyuri spoke bitingly, "Well I don't care because I don't like him that way-"

    "He is attracted to mature women" Taehyung interrupted.

    Gyuri blinked.

    "Stations do not matter to Cousin Namjoon" Taehyung divulged in a matter-of-fact tone. "He has a more peculiar taste. He is attracted to women much older than him and since he is older than you, I doubt he will ever see you as a love interest."

    Gyuri was bewildered. "Why are you telling me this? It's not like I said I liked him."

    "I was just informing you" Taehyung responded. "Because I am aware of how delusional the maids can be."

    Gyuri noticed Taehyung pout. "Sounds to me you're kinda jealous that the maids like Master Namjoon a lot" Gyuri teased.

    Taehyung frowned. "I am not jealous!" he protested. But Gyuri saw that he clearly was. "I adore my cousin. He is like a brother to me" and Taehyung mumbled, "he has been more of a brother to me than my actual brothers..." Gyuri watched as Taehyung fiddled with the blades of grass near his legs. "But I cannot comprehend why the maids favour him so much. I mean, I am equally as charming, am I not?"

    Taehyung stared at Gyuri expectantly and she fumbled. "Yeah, sure. You're charming too, I guess."

    Taehyung wasn't convinced. Gyuri thought he was going to question her lack of conviction when suddenly, he smiled at her. "But that does not matter anymore. Even if Cousin Namjoon has many admirers, I now have one of my own."

    At this, Gyuri grew curious. "Who?"

    Taehyung's smile was gentle. "You."

    Gyuri was flustered. She averted her gaze as her heart suddenly skipped a beat. Damn, that was unexpected. Calm down, Subin! He's a kid for goodness sake!

    She laughed awkwardly, "You're such a tease! I'm not your admirer."

    "Yes, you are" Taehyung insisted. "You said so earlier."

    "Yeah, I said that I admired you for what you are doing. But that doesn't mean I admire you... in that way."

    Taehyung was confused. "I do not see the difference. Either way, you are still my admirer. If you admire my actions then you admire me also."

    "No, there really is a difference" Gyuri contended. "And anyway, I can't admire you in that way." She said bluntly, "I don't go for kids."

    Taehyung watched as she got up from beside him to join Chun Chun and Gulnar who were playing. From afar, he eyed her closely, taking note of her candid smile and quirky mannerisms.

    "That is fine," he whispered under his breath, "because I am not going to be a child forever."
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