74 Your Irrational Fear Pt.3

    "Damn it", Gyuri cursed as she hauled the basket full of food down the busy dirt path. "These things are heavy."

    "Do you need a hand?" Mayu asked while also cradling a large basket of food. "I told you not to carry too much in your basket."

    Gyuri forcibly smiled. "I'll be fine-we're almost at the storage house anyway."

    A few days had passed since Gyuri had started going to the soup kitchen daily. After a rough start, Namjoon and Madam Zhou had ensured that, for the soup kitchen to operate smoothly, someone should always accompany Gyuri.

    "But Master Namjoon, it was only that one time. I can manage the soup kitchen by myself" Gyuri had protested. "The man who attacked me was drunk and I doubt it will happen again-"

    "I cannot risk it, Gyuri" Namjoon interrupted. He stared into her eyes with his neat brows furrowed deeply. "It is not only rowdy peasants that you must be wary of" he uttered in a sombre tone. "If I had not got there in time, who knows where those imperial guards might have taken you."

    "They were only trying to help" Gyuri replied weakly.

    But Namjoon remained unconvinced. "That is what they claim to have been doing," he said as he watched Jimin and Zeren walk off into the distance. "But no one knows what their true intentions are..."


    Gyuri snapped out of her reverie and looked up at Mayu, who was peering at her quizzically. "Yeah?"

    "Is this the storage house you were on about?"

    Up ahead, Gyuri witnessed a large crowd of vagabonds waiting outside the shanty building. With their heads hung low and some even squatting outside the door, Gyuri's jaw dropped open in surprise at how large the huddle seemed to grow as each day passed.

    She stuttered, "Ye-yeah, this is- this is it."

    Mayu glanced back at the huddle of grubby individuals with her eyes bulging. "You weren't kidding when you said your soup kitchen is high in demand."

    "Nope," Gyuri replied, still slightly overwhelmed. "Not at all."

    At the sound of approaching footsteps, the peasants furthest from the door gazed upwards and excitedly stood up when they spotted Gyuri and Mayu approaching with their wicker baskets, brimming with food.

    "Little Madam!" one of them shouted. "She's here! Everyone, the little madam is here!"

    Immediately, the crowd got up to greet Gyuri, their hungry eyes eagerly glancing inside the wicker basket to see what food she will be serving today.

    "Hey, everyone," Gyuri said cheerily as she fumbled for the key to open the storage house. "How are you all?"

    "Little Madam," spoke one of the older peasants. "What do you have for us today?"

    "Is it soup?" another one queried.

    "Ooh! Ooh! I hope it's chicken noodle soup!"

    Gyuri chuckled as the keen peasants followed her and Mayu eagerly inside the storage house, where she had a new clay pot ready. After the last incident, Madam Zhou had been generous enough to purchase another clay pot to replace the one that had been shattered by the drunkard. With Mayu's help, Gyuri was able to serve the starving peasants bread and beef stew and this time, she had a sufficient quantity of bowls to satisfy the growing demand.

    All around her, the peasants one by one fell into silence as Gyuri handed them their bowl of stew. But the silence was short-lived as it was imminently replaced with unattractive slurping noises and ravenous chomping alongside the clattering of wooden spoons against clay bowls. Gyuri wiped the sweat from her forehead in contentment as she watched the vagabonds settle down on the tables to eat.

    Phew, she said internally. At least today ended uneventfully as well.

    "We should probably start packing up" Mayu suggested after moments had passed. "Madam Zhou will be needing us to serve tea to the Kims later."

    "Yeah, you're right." Gyuri surveyed the vicinity and nodded. "I guess I should throw out the scraps." Gyuri sauntered over to the clay pot and began removing the beef bones used to create the broth for the stew. Once she was done, she turned to Mayu. "I'll be back in a jiffy."

    Mayu, already accustomed to Gyuri's odd choice of language, merely nodded in acknowledgement.

    As Gyuri left for the communal dumping ground, she suddenly encountered the sound of mewling coming from a dark alley in between the storage house and a derelict building. Curious, Gyuri peered into the alleyway.


    Slowly, she crept forward until she saw a pair of topaz eyes staring straight at her.

    "Hi there, kitty."

    No longer obscured by the shadows, the small feline cautiously approached her, revealing its grey fur and black stripes. With a guarded stance, the scrawny cat halted a few metres away from Gyuri and continued to gape at her, its large eyes watching her every move.

    Noticing how the cat was watching her intently, Gyuri crouched down. It was then that she saw how the cat was particularly interested in the small bowl of scraps she had in her hands. "Are you hungry?"

    As if understanding her words, the cat meowed in response.

    "Well, it's your lucky day" Gyuri replied as she set the bowl down. "It's not much but you can probably gnaw the meat still attached to the bones."

    Warily, the cat crept closer until it was right in front of Gyuri.

    "Go on" she prompted. "It's all yours."

    Hungrily, the cat lapped at the bowl and soon, a low grumbling was heard from its stomach. With honeyed eyes, Gyuri watched the cat eat, quietly contemplating whether it will run away if she reached out to pat it.

    "You must be starving" she murmured. "When was the last time you ate?"

    But all she got in response was a faint purring when the cat eventually had its fill. Satisfied, the cat licked its grubby paw and only stopped when it noticed Gyuri's hand outstretched. Its topaz eyes watched her intently before swiftly turning tail and strutting away.

    Gyuri, flabbergasted by the cat's ungrateful nature, scoffed in disbelief. "Typical" she uttered after kissing her teeth. "They only notice you when you have food." She shook her head. "I guess I just got food-zoned."

    After picking up the bowl, Gyuri resumed her walk to the dumping ground, suddenly occupied by memories of her own cat back at home. "I hope dad isn't overfeeding Mao Mao," she said aloud. "That cat's already chubby as it is."

    As she strolled along the path, memories of back home filled her mind once more. "I bet exam season has already started" she pondered aloud. "Normally, I'd be waiting for Yoongi to pick me up at the car park." Gyuri looked up whimsically at the road ahead. "And Jun would be talking in Korean and I'd be lecturing him." She smiled weakly at the thought. "That kid... I hope he's practising his English while I'm gone." Gyuri's small smile slowly slipped away as she thought of Jungkook, Yoongi, and school.

    But before she began wallowing in sadness again, she shook her head violently to shake off the negativity that threatened to pull her into a depressive state. "Think positively, Subin!" she reprimanded herself. "Just shake it off, shake it off" she sang and started smiling once more. "Good ol' Taylor Swift, always coming to the rescue!"

    With her optimism restored, the bounce in Gyuri's step returned and she started to quietly sing along to some western pop songs that she hadn't sung in a long time. "I kissed a girl and I liked it. The taste of her cherry chopsticks~"

    "Ohhh, so you like women too?"

    Gyuri swivelled around quickly and jumped when she saw who was standing right behind her. "Oh, holy mother-!"

    "Hi, pretty lady!" Zeren greeted brightly. "Fancy bumping into you again."

    Gyuri backed away from Zeren, who was invading her personal space. "Where the hell did you come from?"

    Revealing his imperfect teeth, Zeren continued to grin as he replied. "From the palace obviously. I'm here on a break with my friend." He gestured at Jimin who was glaring from behind. "We were just about to visit you at the soup kitchen."

    Great, Gyuri groaned. She peered at Jimin who was eyeing her disapprovingly. It was evident that he still wanted to bring her to justice but was probably refraining from doing so in case Namjoon appeared again.

    "Mind if we join you?"

    Gyuri reluctantly answered, "Sure. Erm, but we've already finished for the day."

    Zeren didn't seem at all fazed. "That's alright. We've already eaten." He leaned forward as he added, "I just want to get to know you a little better" and he winked.
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