Those four words the twenty year-old had heard yesterday echoed in his mind as he sat alone on the shore of the lake. Taehyung found the phrasing oddly reminiscent of Hagrid’s revelation to Harry Potter in the fictional series. He swirled his feet in the cool water, watching the ripples sparkle and scatter across the surface. But none of his current situation was fiction. Oh no. It was quite real.
As Taehyung pondered it over, all the things that Chiron had said to him (in addition to the information Delilah, his satyr, had spilled along the way there) somehow made complete and utter sense. With the way he had always had a hard time reading, letters flipping and jumping across the page. With the way he could never seem to focus in all the stuffy classrooms. With the way, as soon as he had turned eighteen, he began to receive unsolicited advances from men and women alike, drawing stares everywhere he went.
Taehyung knew he was pretty. It wasn’t even in a vain way, because he had come to resent the fact a little, after one too many times having to turn people down. He radiated an effortless natural beauty that charmed people without even requiring him to say anything. It was very useful when worming his way out of uncomfortable situations, but also in rare cases getting exactly what he wanted. Once he discovered that aspect of his emergent skills, he’d promised himself never to do it again. If Taehyung was anything, he was by no means manipulative.
After several hours sat on the porch of the Big House, with Chiron answering his every question, the pieces of Taehyung’s life began to fall into place. He had surprised himself with how well he was handling his newfound knowledge that Greek Mythology was anything but myth. He supposed his acceptance came from the information already having been hardwired into his system, and only waiting to be awoken at the right time, by the right person. Apparently the right time was nine years too late by normal standards, but having only developed his powers several months ago, Chiron had said the timing of his arrival to camp was just right for his individual situation.
Chiron also mentioned that he had a very solid idea of who Taehyung’s mother was, knowing it was mother because father had died when the silver-haired boy was very young. He had no recollection of his dad, only able to remember his childhood growing up with his grandmother on her strawberry farm, never once interacting with a mother. His grandma had always treated him well, and he loved her dearly.
She had known, of course, about Taehyung’s ancestry. She only revealed this notion the night Delilah came to take him away. She didn’t specify why, only saying that he needed to go find his mother, and to be somewhere safe, because she could no longer protect him. He knew now that the ripening strawberries were what had kept him safe all those years, and were no longer powerful enough to mask his sweet and enticing scent from monsters, and that if he had not left he would have been killed. At the time however, he was incredibly reluctant to go, only agreeing for his grandmother and Delilah’s sake as they begged and pleaded with him to depart. And so he did.
He had friends at school, flitting between cliques of people, acquaintances with everyone but never quite feeling like he belonged. He assumed he would eventually find that here, at Camp Half Blood, but for now he was an outcast. Unclaimed. Shoved into the overcrowded Hermes Cabin until further notice. Chiron refused to tell who his goddess of a mother was, reminding him to be patient and to wait for his claiming. Taehyung was not a very patient person.
Looking back, he wished he had paid attention in history class when they were covering Ancient Greece. His knowledge in Greek mythology was limited at best, the extent reaching to what little he had learned from Disney’s Hercules. And now he didn’t even have a phone to do a quick google search on the subject. Electronics were off limits because they attracted monsters, and Taehyung would rather not have to deal with that. He definitely had a lot to learn.
Everything had been a bit of a sensory overload, so he had fled to the lake his satyr had shown him on the tour of camp earlier. He sat by the water, cicadas buzzing in the trees around him under the late afternoon sunlight. It was mid May, but it already seemed as though summer was in full swing. Delilah had mentioned something about a protective barrier that mediated the weather, so he attributed the unseasonable warmth to that.
He was no longer surprised by much, what with all he had see in the mostly uneventful time it had taken him to get to camp with Delilah (there had been a run in with a giant badger that the satyr had quickly dispatched, but other then that they arrived unscathed), and his previous day spent getting to know how things worked.
A hand grabbed his shoulder, startling him out of his thoughts. His immediately grabbed the wrist and whirled around to see who it belonged to. He was a little embarrassed to find Delilah now sputtering on the ground behind him.
“Oh my god I’m so sorry, you just really took me off guard!” Taehyung exclaimed, rushing to stand up and offer a hand to pull the satyr up off the ground.
“It kinda looked like you were a little too on guard to me,” she said dusting herself off with a chuckle.
“Yeah I should probably work on that. Sorry I’m so skittish, being in an unfamiliar place and all. I had a lot to think about,” Tae said, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly.
“Nah, don’t worry about it. It’s not something you can help, just your instincts trying to protect you! It’ll get better the longer you’re here and the more you train. I know it’s a lot to take in now but trust me, you’ll settle in soon enough. I’ve seen so many campers go through the same thing, you’re not alone,” Delilah said, pulling him in for a brief hug.
They had only known each other for a short time before he had discovered she was a satyr and had to leave home. She had posed as a new student in class, and they had bonded quickly. Taehyung could easily say that she was his closest friend at the moment, and he trusted her inherently.
“Thanks Del, I really appreciate it. But did you need me for something? I’m sorry if you were looking for me, I kinda wanted to have some time alone to think.”
“Oh! Right, I just wanted to come grab you for dinner! And it didn’t take me long to find you, I had a feeling this was where you’d be,” the satyr said with a smile. Taehyung’s stomach chose that moment to growl, and they both laughed.
“Well I take it someone’s hungry! C’mon let’s go get some food,” Delilah said, and he trailed along behind her all the way to the pavilion. He made sure to note the route they took, still trying to find his bearings around camp.
By the time they made it to the dining pavilion, there was already a flurry of activity. Campers were scattered between all the tables, talking and laughing. Having been through the process several times already, Taehyung sat down in front of an empty plate at the Hermes table. He thought about the strawberry avocado salad he wanted for dinner, and watched it materialize before him. He and Delilah joined the line of campers offering some of their food to the brazier in the middle of the pavilion, and then sat down to dig in. This was without a doubt his favorite part of the camp so far. Being able to eat whatever you wanted, even if it was a family recipe, was the best.
A figure plopped down in the empty seat on his other side, and he found himself sitting next to Park Jimin. He was another camper who had yet to be claimed by his parent, and who had been stuck in the Hermes Cabin for so long, he just about adopted it as his own. Taehyung had only met him in passing that morning when he introduced himself right as Delilah had stopped by to take him on a tour.
“Hey! Taehyung right? You were in a rush this morning so I don’t know if you remember but I’m Jimin! We’re the same age and in the same cabin,” he said with a cheerful smile.
“Yeah I remember! Sorry I couldn’t talk for long. Del over here had a very tight schedule to keep,” he said with a smirk, side eyeing the satyr next to him.
“Hey, I heard that!” She cried indignantly, hitting Taehyung on the shoulder. Jimin snorted at their antics.
“Ah that’s ok, I hope you’re settling in well though! If you need anything or have any questions, let me know and I’d be happy to help!” Jimin said, eyes crinkling kindly as he shoved a fry in his mouth.
“Thank you, I’ll definitely take you up on that offer. And it’s been a little crazy, but something about being here just feels right. I can’t really explain it,” Taehyung replied, looking towards Jimin to see his reaction. He was met with a warm and empathetic expression.
“I know exactly what you mean. It takes a little while to get used to, but give it some time and this will become your home. I’ll introduce you to some of my friends tonight at the bonfire if you want! Meeting new people definitely helped me feel more comfortable here, so I’d like to do the same for you,” the shorter boy responded.
“That’s… very kind of you Jimin. Thank you so much,” Taehyung said, a little overwhelmed by how welcoming the other was.
“It’s no problem!” He said with another bright grin that the taller began to realize was characteristic of him.
“And wait… bonfire?” Taehyung questioned. Del hadn’t mentioned any bonfire.
“Oh my god I forgot to tell you!” The satyr yelled, smacking herself in the forehead in exasperation. “We have bonfires every week! All the campers gather and sing songs, get updates on what’s happening around camp, stuff like that,” she finished, reaching over to take a bite of the tin can that had previously held Taehyung’s soda. He grimaced but allowed for it to happen.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” Jimin added, stealing Taehyung’s attention. “A lot of people get claimed at their first bonfires, so I would be excited for that! And even if you’re not claimed, you get to spend more time with me~” he singsonged, nudging the taller boy’s shoulder. They both leaned into each other, laughing.
“Somehow I get the feeling even if I do get claimed I’m not getting rid of you that easy,” Taehyung smirked.
“You know me so well already. I think we’re going to be great friends Kim Taehyung,” Jimin replied confidently.
“Yeah, I think so too,” the taller boy said, a wide and sincere smile blooming across his face.
As the plates were cleared away with a swift breeze, he couldn’t help but think about the upcoming evening. This claiming business was all news to Taehyung, and he couldn’t help but feel butterflies in his stomach. Half nervous to remain unclaimed, half excited to finally have somewhere to belong. Delilah seemed to sense his mood as the group of campers moved en masse towards where Taehyung assumed the bonfire would be held.
“Don’t worry Tae, you’ll be fine,” she comforted, grabbing his hand and giving a quick squeeze. Jimin appeared on his other side.
“No matter what happens, nothing changes the fact that you do belong here. We wouldn’t be here talking otherwise, the boundary wouldn’t even have let you in!” Jimin said, finishing his short speech with a flourish.
“Thanks guys. I’m just a little apprehensive, but excited at the same time? I guess we’ll see what happens, right?” Taehyung said, trying to remain optimistic.
“Of course!” Delilah replied enthusiastically.
“Just enjoy the bonfire. Don’t think too hard about the claiming, yeah?” Jimin suggested.
“Yeah, ok,” Tae replied, feeling lighter with the support from his two newest friends. It felt nice to be able to call them that.
“Now come on or we’ll be late!” Del called, grabbing both of the boys by their hands and dragging them forward to catch up with the rest of the crowd.
Jimin took the lead then, walking towards a group of four other campers gathered just off to the side of the main body of people. They waved as they noticed the shorter boy approaching.
“Hey guys! This is Kim Taehyung, the new camper we got yesterday! Tae, this is Seokjin, Namjoon, Yoongi, and Hoseok, my friends I was telling you about earlier. They’re all a year older than us,” Jimin said, gesturing to each boy as he introduced them.
“Hi Taehyung, it’s nice to meet you! I’m Seokjin, son of Demeter, but you can call me Jin,” the tall boy with tousled light brown hair said, smiling kindly.
“I’m Namjoon, son of Athena. I kind of help to run things around here, and I see you’ve made friends with Jimin, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of each other,” the other tall boy with dimples and blond hair greeted, offering a hand for Tae to shake.
“Hi! I’m Hoseok, but you can call me Hobi! Son of Apollo, and this grump over here is Yoongi, son of Hades,” the boy with an incredibly bright personality nudged the shorter boy with mint-colored hair sitting next to him.
“Hey Taehyung,” he said softly. Hobi spoke up again.
“Don’t mind him, he takes a bit to warm up to people. How has your stay been so far?” Hoseok asked.
“It’s really nice to meet you all! And it’s been an adventure, that’s for sure,” Taehyung answered with a wry smile. This got a laugh out of everyone.
“Well we have a lot of connections here at camp, so if you ever need anything let us know and we can pull some strings,” Jin said with a wink.
“Any friend of Jimin’s is a friend of ours!” Namjoon added, and Tae shot him a grin.
“Thank you all for welcoming me so kindly, I really appreciate it,” the silver-haired boy addressed the group.
“It’s our pleasure!” Jimin said, giving Tae a quick squeeze as he giggled.
“And, if you ever have any problems with the other campers bring them to Yoongles and I. We’ll beat ‘em up for ya, how’s that sound?” Hobi interjected, obviously joking.
“Hey, don’t drag me into this,” Yoongi said, putting his hands up in mock defense. They all laughed again. Chiron interrupted their antics by calling all the campers to attention. A hush settled over the crowd, and Jimin tugged Taehyung down to sit between him and Hoseok.
“Welcome, everyone, to this week’s bonfire!” A cheer went up around the amphitheater, whistles and whoops as everyone got excited for what was to come. Chiron waited for the noise to settle before continuing on.
“As usual, the Apollo Cabin will lead us in song as soon as I finish the announcements. First on today’s agenda, time slots for this week’s combat practice are posted inside the Big House, so be sure to sign up before they’re all taken. Secondly, the Hephaestus Cabin has finished their latest sculpture of a Pegasus, which is now displayed outside of the stables. They have done a magnificent job, so let’s have a round of applause for them,” the centaur paused to allow more cheers to erupt among the crowd.
Taehyung scanned the group of campers, taking in how everyone seemed to be seated in separate clusters. As his eyes flickered over to the far side of the amphitheater, he noticed a clique of six or seven campers fawning over a dark-haired boy with doe eyes sitting with them. They all snickered obnoxiously loud at something he had said, and Taehyung scoffed. Even at first glance, something about the boy irked him. He leaned over to Jimin.
“Who’s that over there?” he whispered, gesturing over to the group of people still laughing. Seriously, how funny could it have been?
“Oh, that’s Jungkookie! Jeon Jungkook, son of Zeus. He’s a year younger than you and I, but he’s one of our good friends too, so you’ll meet him eventually,” Jimin responded with a grin. Hm. Taehyung wasn’t quite sure he wanted to, but he decided to withhold judgement for now.
“How come he isn’t sitting over here with us then?” The taller boy questioned.
“Normally people sit grouped by their cabins. But I talked to Chiron earlier and he gave us a special exception to sit with you! I didn’t get to meet with Jungkook today, so he didn’t get the memo,” Jimin explained.
“Poor Kookie is going to be sad he’s missing out,” Hobi said from Taehyung’s other side, nudging him teasingly. Jimin leaned over to smack his shoulder as he let out a cackle, apologizing to the taller boy for his friend’s behavior.
“What’s that supposed to mean,” Taehyung said, intrigued.
“Jungkook likes pretty people, so I have a feeling he’s really going to like you,” Hobi replied mischievously. “He’s a bit emotionally constipated, and has a competitive streak a mile wide, but kid’s got a good heart. He’d do anything to keep his friends happy.”
“Yeah well I think he’s gonna be out of luck,” Taehyung said, grimacing a bit as he glanced back over towards Jungkook’s harem. As he did so, the boy looked up and they locked eyes. His gaze was intense, and a slight shudder went through the silver-haired boy as he quickly looked away. Ok, Taehyung could admit the doe-eyed boy was good looking. Hot even, but that most certainly didn’t make him a good person. His thoughts were interrupted by Chiron resuming his announcements.
“And the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the Capture the Flag game has been scheduled for three weeks from tomorrow, so it’s best if you all start preparing now.” The loudest cheer of all erupted throughout the amphitheater, and Taehyung assumed that it was a very anticipated event. He’d have to ask about it later.
“One more thing before we start. As some of you may know, we’ve received a new camper. Kim Taehyung joined us yesterday, so please give him a warm welcome and let’s treat him as one of our own,” Chiron concluded.
The amphitheater was suddenly bathed in a warm pink glow, and turned completely silent. Everyone was staring at Taehyung, and he shrunk a little under all the attention. Before he could discern why no one was making a sound and what he had done wrong, the campfire burst into a vibrant fuschia color and rose even higher than it was before. It took Jimin poking his side for Taehyung to notice the glow was coming from himself. He looked up to see a heart formed from luminescent pink mist floating above his head, embers from the fire occasionally joining to dance around the icon before drifting away in the breeze.
All of a sudden, the amphitheater was plunged into thunderous applause and raucous cheering.
“Welcome Kim Taehyung, son of Aphrodite,” Chiron’s voice projected above the din. Taehyung made eye contact with the centaur and ducked his head in disbelieving gratitude. He was smiling proudly, and the newly claimed demigod couldn’t help but grin as well.
He turned to his new friends, who were all awaiting him with open arms. Delilah tackled him into a hug, while Jimin was jumping up and down in excitement next to them. He received congratulatory pats from Yoongi and Namjoon, a warm hug from Jin, and a wet kiss on the cheek from Hobi, which got them all breaking into laughter again.
The campers had begun chanting his name, his rosy glow still going strong. The flames from the fire licked higher than ever. Taehyung was flushed with exhilaration, never before having felt so much support and appreciation unleashed on him at once.
He noticed one group of particularly well put-together campers were being the loudest. Jin must have caught his questioning gaze in their direction, because he yelled to Taehyung, trying to explain over the din of the crowd.
“That’s the Aphrodite Cabin, you should go to them,” the taller boy suggested with an encouraging smile.
He looked towards Jimin and Delilah who made shooing motions at him. Tae gave them a sheepish smile before turning and heading off through the stands to greet his half-brothers and sisters. The crowd parted for him, still chattering excitedly, offering him congratulatory and welcoming words or pats on the back. All the attention was a little overwhelming, but he let it wash over him, finding it easiest to go with the flow of things as of late.
Taehyung finally made it across the amphitheater, coming to a stop in front of an incredibly pretty boy who had dainty elven features and shoulder length brown hair. Unsure of what to do, he stuck a hand out and opened his mouth to introduce himself. Before he could get a word in, he was abruptly pulled into a hug, extended hand going ignored. The new boy pulled away with a dazzling smile.
“Hey you! I’m Yoon Jeonghan, leader of the Aphrodite Cabin! It’s awesome to meet you, Tae” he greeted.
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Taehyung said, feeling uncharacteristically shy in front of his new half-siblings.
“It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a new camper, so we’re all really excited to have you join our ranks!” This drew enthusiastic nods of assent from the handful of other campers in the group.
“Let me do some quick introductions before the Apollo kids take over and get noisy. We can get to know each other more in depth after the bonfire. I don’t expect you to remember all of our names now, but I’m Jeonghan again, next to me are Taemin, Seulgi, Jisoo, Baekhyun, and Ten. Behind us are Jungwoo, Soojin, Hani, Sehun, Irene, and Tzuyu,” he introduced, gesturing to each camper as he went along.
“Leo isn’t here because he had an awful headache before we left for dinner, but you’ll get to meet him later. Come sit! We’ll talk more soon,” Jeonghan said, gesturing for Taehyung to take a seat on the bench next to him while the rest of the Aphrodite kids settled in around them.
A younger boy with a sweet face sat down on Tae’s other side. Jungwoo was his name, if he remembered correctly. The boy gave him a small smile, and with that the first few notes of a song unfamiliar to Taehyung echoed around the amphitheater. Everyone joined in almost immediately.
He was content to listen as everyone serenaded the warm summer night, picking up on the tune after a while and humming along. The rest of the bonfire went as such, and Taehyung could definitely see the appeal in doing this every week. The atmosphere was lively, and it was a chance for everyone to get together and bond after long days studying and training. Before he knew it, Chiron was giving a few closing words and it was time to head back to the cabins.
Taehyung wanted to go talk to Jimin and Delilah before he left, and say goodbye to his new friends if he could. He let Jungwoo (who he had gotten along swimmingly in the small talk they had shared between songs), know where he was going. Then he headed out to search for them.
Thankfully they weren’t that hard to find amidst the sea of campers milling about. The group of six were sitting right where Taehyung had left them, and he jogged the rest of the way over, waving an arm to catch their attention.
“Tae! How’d it go?” Jimin called as he approached.
“Good I think!” The silver-haired boy replied, a grin gracing his feature. “Jeonghan seemed really nice, and I made a friend! I didn’t really get a chance to talk with anyone else though, because the music started. But Jungwoo, that’s my new friend, he said when we all get back to the cabin we’re having a makeover night? I mean I’ve kind of always wanted to try makeup but I never actually went through with it. It probably would have drawn even more attention to myself than I already got, and I wouldn’t have even known where to have started, and-” Tae cut himself off. “Sorry, I’m rambling,” he said, a little sheepish.
“No Tae that’s awesome!” Delilah interjected, coming over to rest a hand on his shoulder. “You have every right to be excited. I’m sure you’ll fit right in, they’re going to love you,” she comforted.
“I hope so,” Tae said, shifting a little to get rid of some of the energy he had running through his system.
“Well we know so,” Jimin chimed in with a laugh. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard people cheer that loud for a new camper before, and I’ve seen my fair share of people be claimed,” the shorter boy said.
Taehyung felt a stab of guilt at that statement, reminding him of how long Jimin has spent here, unclaimed. And now he had gone and rubbed it in the shorter boy’s face.
“Jimin, I’m sorry I-” he began, before Jimin stopped him, pulling Tae into a hug.
“It’s ok, you don’t have to apologize. I’m so happy for you, let yourself be excited about this. I promise it’s ok,” Jimin murmured into his ear. They pulled away, and the silver haired boy gave a nod, twin smiles growing on both of their faces.
“Thank you,” Tae said, relieved he didn’t unintentionally upset his newfound friend. Taehyung wondered what he had done in his past to deserve such kindness being brought into his life in the form of Park Jimin, but he wasn’t complaining. Their moment was broken by Hobi, who sidled up to the pair.
“Don’t look now Tae, but here comes starboy~” the older boy sang, waggling his eyebrows. Jimin rolled his eyes.
“Star...boy?” Taehyung asked, turning around only to find himself face to face with the infamous Jeon Jungkook. He startled, stumbling backwards a step before Jimin caught and steadied him. Hoseok snickered off to the side, while Jin, Namjoon, Yoongi, and Del looked on, more subtly amused.
The raven-haired boy had an insufferable smirk on his face, presumably because of his reaction. Taehyung scowled.
“Kim Taehyung,” Jungkook drawled, almost as if testing the name on his tongue. “It’s a shame we haven’t met already, but I’m-”
“Jeon Jungkook. I know,” he interrupted, already knowing where this was headed. The other’s smirk grew even wider, if that was possible.
“Ah, so you’ve heard of me. Only good things I hope,” the raven-haired boy said, blatantly looking Taehyung up and down. So that’s how this was gonna be?
“I prefer to make judgements based on my own observations, so we’ll see about that,” Taehyung responded cooly. He really shouldn’t be indulging Jungkook, but what would it hurt to mess with him a little?
“Oh, we’ll see, will we?” The doe-eyed boy said, cocking an eyebrow. What an ass.
“Well wouldn’t you like to know,” Taehyung quipped, taking a challenging step closer to Jungkook and crossing his arms. Two could play at that game.
For the first time Jungkook looked a little unsettled (to the silver-haired boy’s great satisfaction), almost as if he hadn’t expected the other to take the bait. He took it in stride however, matching Taehyung’s step forward until they were face to face once again. The irritating grin still had not left the doe-eyed boy’s face, and Tae wanted it gone.
“Pity you won’t get to though,” he hummed.
“And why’s that?” The smirk wasn’t gone yet.
“I have plenty of better things to do,” Taehyung shrugged nonchalantly. He met Jungkook’s gaze and found it trained on his own lips.
“You’re not seriously thinking about kissing me right now, are you?” Taehyung laughed incredulously.
“And what if I am?” Gods was this kid cocky.
Jungkook’s gaze flickered back up to meet Tae’s. The smirk was still there. He couldn’t stand it.
So he did the first thing he could think of, he leaned in as if he were going to kiss him, but at the last second moved to the side. They were so close their cheeks brushed, and he whispered into Jungkook’s ear, “Hmm, not gonna happen Jeon.”
And with that, he turned on his heel and made his way back to where Delilah was standing with the rest of the group, ready to lead him back to the Aphrodite Cabin.
Hoseok wasn’t even trying to contain his laughter anymore, leaning against Yoongi and giggling into his neck, while the mint-haired boy watched him fondly. Interesting, Taehyung noted. Jimin, Jin, Namjoon, and Delilah all had matching expressions of incredulous mirth, and had been watching the back and forth banter like spectators at a tennis match.
“Taehyung,” Hobi cried as he approached, “I can not believe you did that! Oh my gods this is the best day of my life!”
“Tae you did not!” Jimin hissed, and Delilah collapsed into a fit of laughter as well.
“I think you broke him. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Jungkook so out of it,” Jin remarked, causing everyone to turn their gazes back to where the raven-haired boy was standing. He was stock still, looking like he was contemplating the meaning of life.
“I- I knew their first meeting was going to be interesting but I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” Hobi giggled, still trying (and failing) to compose himself.
“God is he always so obnoxious? I’m sorry, but people like that really bother me. Someone had to set him straight,” Taehyung shrugged. Hoseok guffawed.
“Good luck with that, kid,” Yoongi chuckled. “Our Jungkookie is very, very gay. Even more so now, I’d reckon.” Taehyung huffed and Jimin rolled his eyes again. Del, who had finally managed to pull herself together, was reduced to near tears.
“Oh this is so great,” the satyr wheezed.
“I’m gonna go make sure Taehyung didn’t really break Kookie. I’ll walk him back to his cabin to make sure he gets there ok, so don’t worry,” Namjoon piped up.
“Joonie, I’m more worried about you than him, it’s more likely that you’d be the one tripping and falling,” Jin replied.
“Hey I’m not that incompetent,” the lanky boy protested.
“I know you’re not Joon, but you did break that one statue you were nowhere near…” Jimin trailed off.
“And that was an accident,” he almost whined.
“They always are, Joon, they always are,” Yoongi said.
“I’m leaving and I will be fine,” Namjoon finalized. "It’s not like any of you could help run this camp,” he muttered as he walked towards Jungkook and gently began to guide him away.
“Love you Joon!” Jin called after him.
“I love you too,” he returned begrudgingly before disappearing down the path. Very interesting, Tae thought.
Delilah straightened up and motioned for the silver-haired boy to follow her. “C’mon, your cabin mates will be wondering where you are! We should go.”
“You’re probably right, bye guys!” They were met with a chorus of departing words from their remaining friends, exiting the amphitheater.
Jeon fucking Jungkook, Taehyung mused as he trailed behind Del on their way back to the cabin. He shook his head. What an ass.
Taehyung was excelling in combat, much to everyone’s (including his own) surprise. He trained often with Jimin, who also had a talent for fighting. He was small, yes, but this allowed for sharp and quick movements, and underestimation from his opponents played to his advantage. Taehyung had learned quite quickly that the brown-haired boy packed a punch. He did his absolute best to avoid them.
Tae had also grown much closer with Jimin’s group of friends, often sharing a table at mealtimes with them, or hanging out together when their free time overlapped. This had been given a sufficient amount of time to pick up on the dynamics among the group.
Hoseok and Yoongi were quite obviously a couple. Taehyung had caught on to the fact fairly quickly without being told, what with Hobi’s incessant, yet well-intended teasing, and Yoongi’s failed attempts to remain aloof, always slipping into a fond (albeit exasperated) smile. Hoseok was big on skinship while Yoongi didn’t outwardly seem to be. Taehyung had his doubts though, based on the mint-haired boy’s constant indulgences towards the other’s touch, and the way he would grab for Hobi’s hand when he thought no one was looking.
Namjoon and Seokjin were more subtle. The pair weren’t heavy on public displays of affection, but Jin definitely like to frequently remind Namjoon of his feelings. Taehyung had heard many an “I love you” shared between the two, and while Jin liked to tease his significant other, he was just as quick to shower him in compliments. Their relationship could almost have passed as very close friends, had Taehyung not stumbled upon the pair sharing chaste kisses in the strawberry patch a few days back.
The Canoe Lake and the strawberry fields were two spots that Taehyung liked to visit often, especially when everything got to be a little overwhelming. He would sit by the water to clear his mind, or wander among the ripened fruit bushes to take comfort in the familiar scent. Some days the strawberries made him miss his grandmother so. But then Jimin or Jin (who was one of a handful of campers responsible for the care of the plants) would come collect him and take his mind off home.
All in all, his life at Camp Half Blood so far was more than he could’ve hoped for. The weather was perfect, the food was great, he was never bored. Everything was swell.
Except for a certain Jeon Jungkook.
The boy never seemed to be far away, even though he steered clear whenever Taehyung attended a group hangout. He would feel the boy’s heavy stare several times throughout the day, whether during meals, training sessions, or whatnot.
Jungkook proceeded to become even more obnoxious when he knew Taehyung was watching. The silver-haired boy could tell he wanted to impress him, but it only served to make the younger more insufferable in his eyes. During training, he would perform with unnecessary flourish, pulling out fancy tricks that were aesthetically pleasing but not much more. If he tried them in a real fight, he’d most likely wind up injured at best, but it served him right for being cocky. Taehyung would just roll his eyes at the spectacle, and return his focus to his own sparring with Jimin.
When the weather got to be stiflingly hot, Jungkook would strut around bare-chested, gazes of boys and girls alike trained to his broad shoulders, well defined abs, and narrow waist. Taehyung would catch himself staring at the beads of sweat trailing down the other’s neck, and quickly look away, shaking his head. Fine, the boy was hot. It didn’t mean he didn’t hate the apparent need to showboat 24/7.
But Taehyung was being toyed with, and he knew it. He wouldn’t fall for it. Instead, he chose to give it back just as good.
Alternatively to taking his shirt off (he wasn’t the biggest fan of exposing his soft tummy), he opted to wear more feminine clothing. Taehyung had never been one to care what he wore. If he liked it, he liked it. And he loved seeing Jungkook trip over himself at meal time when he showed up in a pleated pink skirt and and an off-white crop top.
Revenge was sweet, he thought smugly as he took his seat between Hobi and Jin. Jimin sat across from him, and they made brief eye contact. Jimin’s expression was knowingly exasperated, and Taehyung gave him an innocent smile.
“What?” he questioned around a mouthful of quesadilla.
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing, Kim Taehyung,” he said shaking a small finger in reprimand.
“I’m not doing anything,” Tae simpered, cupping his chin and fluttering his lashes. Jimin barked out a laugh.
“You’re something else, you know that,” he said, a grin finally gracing his features.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tae shrugged before returning to his meal. All Jimin could do was tut his mildly amused disapproval.
Taehyung had gotten adept, exceptional even, at combat. So much so that he could easily take on both Jimin and Hoseok at once. After he had disarmed them both, they stood panting in the dust, high-fiving each other. A slow clap echoed from the entrance, and the trio turned to see Jungkook standing there. He was flanked by Yoongi and Jin, with a small assortment of other campers behind them. Taehyung only recognized a few faces. Jaehyun from the Hermes Cabin, Yugyeom from the Poseidon Cabin, Lalisa from the Athena Cabin, and Seungcheol from the Zeus Cabin.
“Is it time to go already?” Jimin questioned, wiping his brow.
“Nah, we just wanted to swing by a little early and see how the newbie was coming along. Not bad, Kim, not bad,” Jungkook said nonchalantly.
“By we, you mean you,” Yoongi muttered, earning him a discreet elbow to the ribs. Taehyung raised an eyebrow.
“Thanks, I guess,” he said, bending to retrieve Jimin’s sword for him and dust himself off.
“You know,” Hobi piped up. Taehyung turned to him, and his blood ran cold. By the gleeful grin on his face, whatever came out of his mouth next wasn’t going to be good.
“Jungkookie, you and Tae should spar!” A whoop went up among the campers present.
“Oh yes,” Hobi said, grabbing Tae’s shoulders and pushing him towards the center of the arena. He must’ve said that out loud.
Taehyung shifted his gaze towards Jungkook, encountering a lazy grin.
“C’mon Taetae, it’ll be over quick enough,” The raven-haired boy taunted, grabbing his sword off of the rack and positioning himself so they were across from each other. And okay, he wasn’t going to let Jungkook get away that easy.
“Funny, you think you’re going to win,” Taehyung replied, shifting his stance so he was more balanced.
“I never said that,” Jungkook provoked, sidestepping only for Taehyung to copy him in the opposite direction.
“But you implied it,” Tae countered, easily dodging the first swipe Jungkook sent his way. After that, there wasn’t much conversation. They were too focused. It devolved into a flurry of lunges and parries, trying and failing to catch a weakness in the other’s defenses.
Twelve minutes had passed and they were still at it. The pair had gathered quite the crowd in that time, the small group of no more than ten expanding to thirty or so campers. Someone had gone and spread the word that Kim Taehyung was giving Jeon Jungkook a run for his money in the arena.
They were noisy and distracting, but Tae didn’t let it bother him. He could see Jungkook’s stamina start to flag, but he still wasn’t letting up. The silver-haired boy ducked a blow aimed for his shoulder, and in turn made a jab at his opponent’s thigh. The other jumped out of the way just in time to avoid the blade.
It all finished in a flash. Taehyung saw Jungkook tense, and anticipated the lunge that was coming. He tucked and rolled out of the way, scrambling up behind Jungkook and swinging a leg out to catch the other boy’s ankle. The younger tottered to the side, trying to gain his balance, but it was too late. Tae was already on him, tackling him to the ground, straddling his thighs, and pinning his wrists in the dust to disarm him. He batted the sword a good distance away so the raven-haired boy couldn’t reach it.
Everyone was stunned into silence, the only sounds in the arena coming from the heavy breathing of the previously sparring pair. They made heated eye contact, staring at each other for longer than was probably appropriate. Jungkook licked his lips. Tae’s eyes flickered down at the movement. Then all hell broke loose.
Breaking out of whatever trance he had been in, the silver-haired boy finally noticed the less than ideal position they were in. He scrambled to get off of Jungkook and dust himself off once again. Hobi tackled him into a hug, incredulous cheers rising up everywhere. Jimin appeared next to him, slapping him on the back in congratulations. Yoongi and Jin joined them, along with Namjoon, Del, Jungwoo, and Jeonghan, who must’ve arrived later to see the sparring match.
“Guys it’s not that big of a deal,” he mumbled, scratching the back of his neck as spectators swarmed the arena floor.
“Tae, I don’t think you understand. Jungkook is one of, if not the best fighter in the camp. And you just beat his ass!” Jimin exclaimed, practically vibrating in excitement.
Jungkook was still on his back in the dust, watching the clouds in a stupor. Seungcheol was beside him, laughing as he tried and failed to get the boy to stand up.
Taehyung brushed past his friends and walked over to the younger, offering a hand to pull him up. For a few seconds he continued to lay there staring, looking a little dazed and a lot in love. Tae smirked, and Jungkook finally took his hand, letting the other haul him to his feet.
“So much for ‘being over quick enough,’ huh?” the silver-haired boy ribbed, and Jungkook had the decency to duck his head, giving an abashed chuckle.
“I shouldn’t have underestimated you,” he replied, looking up through his lashes to meet Taehyung’s gaze. Boy did he have pretty eyes.
“Guess I’ll just have to beat you next time,” he smirked. And he ruined it by opening his mouth.
Taehyung groaned, shoving his shoulder with a hand and causing the raven-haired boy to stumble back a few steps, laughing.
“I’ll see you around, Jeon,” Taehyung called as he went to return to his friends.
“You can count on it, Kim,” he retorted, and Taehyung rolled his eyes. Typical.
As he and Jimin cleared their plates and said goodbye to the rest of the group, the pair began to walk towards the lake to watch the sunset together, as had become their routine. Sometimes Del and the others would join, but most of the time it was just the two of them.
“You know,” Jimin began as they reached the shoreline, “Jungkook really isn’t so bad. If you would just talk to him, maybe get to know him a little better-“
“He’s a cocky son of a bitch, what more do I need to know?” Tae cut in, kicking at the rocks that shifted beneath their feet. Jimin heaved an exasperated sigh.
“Fine, but don’t come to me when you’re trying to fuck him,” he shrugged.
“Wha- PARK JIMIN, YOU DID NOT!” Taehyung sputtered, but the aforementioned boy had already taken off down the beach, laughing maniacally.
“Hey! Get back here you little shit,” he yelled, sprinting after his friend.
Jimin was fast, but Taehyung had longer legs so he caught up in no time. They both tumbled into the shallow water, getting completely drenched. Thankfully the temperature hadn’t cooled off too much yet, so being wet was bearable. They were both gasping for breath between the laughter and the sprinting.
“If you- If you ever say something like that again I will end you,” Taehyung wheezed, splashing Jimin with a handful of water.
“I’m just saying, the sexual tension between you two is ridiculous, don’t think I didn’t see your little stunt earlier in the arena-”
“It wasn't on purpose,” Taehyung whined, “and hey, I won because of it!”
Jimin was unphased.
“All I’m saying is that he’s being an ass to get your attention, which you’re aware of. So pay attention to him, and we wouldn’t be having this problem. He’s needy you know,” the shorter boy retorted.
“But I don’t want to pay attention to him if he’s being an ass! He pisses me off!”
“I think that’s just the sexual frustration talking,” Jimin said snidely and Taehyung dunked his head in the lake.
After everything had been properly set up, Taehyung met the younger boy’s stare challengingly, and they were off.
Right from the start Jungkook was moving more nimbly than he was, years of practice showing quite obviously. It was only the second time Taehyung had attempted the wall, so he was a lot more shaky and unsure with his movements.
Jungkook lost his footing while dodging a small lava flow, and lost precious time trying to recover. The silver-haired boy saw his opportunity and took it, swinging up to the next available ledge, climbing two more pegs, and pulling ahead of the other boy.
By this time a plan had begun to formulate in Taehyung’s brain. He maneuvered himself so he was a few feet above “Star Boy,” as Hobi kept calling him. He was suddenly glad he had worn tight pants. Even though they didn’t allow for as much flexibility, they did a fantastic job at showcasing his ass and thighs, which was exactly what he needed. He wasn’t above playing dirty, especially when he knew Jungkook would be an absolute menace if he won (he was cocky enough even when he lost).
It was with this in mind that Tae continued to climb directly overhead the younger boy, making sure to stretch and flaunt as often as he could. For a few minutes, Jungkook was too focused on actually climbing to notice what the other was trying to do.
They were almost to the top the next time he glanced up. Taehyung was mid-stride, one leg bent and stretched upwards to the next available ledge, while the other was extended straight down to his current foothold. Jungkook got an eyeful of muscle straining against the fabric of the other’s pants.
The doe-eyed boy gaped, and missed his next foot placement, scrambling against the wall for purchase before ultimately sliding off. Taehyung’s heart stopped for a beat before Jungkook caught himself in the wind, gathering a cushion of air beneath him to gently guide his descent. Ah, right. Zeus.
“Are you ok?” the silver-haired boy called down to Jungkook, who now stood safely at the base of the climbing wall.
“I’m fine, but that was your fault and you know it,” he pouted (a little embarrassed) up at Tae, who had begun to make his way back down.
“Sorry?” he offered with a sheepish smile once he was on solid ground again.
“No you’re not,” Jungkook laughed.
“No I’m not,” Taehyung repeated with an angelic smile. Jungkook shook his head in disbelief.
“You are something else, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told,” Tae replied smoothly. Jungkook looked at him with a curious expression on his face before giving an amused snort.
“What?” the older asked, raising an eyebrow.
“You’re so-“ Jungkook flushed, struggling for words, and for once seeming shy in light of Taehyung’s direct attention. Maybe Jimin was right, he mused.
“I’m so?” Tae prompted, lips quirking up at the corners.
“It’s- it’s nothing. Nevermind,” Jungkook said weakly, already turning to walk away.
“Where are you going?” Tae wasn’t sure why he asked, and judging by the look on Jungkook’s face, he was equally as puzzled.
“How come you never eat with us?” Taehyung kept on, his mouth working for him.
“I- I didn’t think you wanted me to?”
“Oh, so you wouldn’t hang out with us as a group because you didn’t want to bother me, but you’re fine with being a cocky ass all other times? What kind of logic is that?” Tae wondered aloud, bursting into laughter.
“Hey! I’m not cocky-“ Jungkook trailed off under the withering look the Taehyung shot him.
“Ok, maybe a little, but it’s only because-” he stopped himself this time, ears turning red. Now this was a Jungkook he could get used to. Taehyung was thoroughly enjoying the new side of the younger he had managed to draw out.
“Because?” Tae teased.
“It’s nothing, don’t worry about it,” the younger said hurriedly.
“If you say so,” Tae shrugged, and turned to walk away. When he noticed Jungkook wasn’t following him, he stopped.
“Well aren’t you coming?” He questioned, glancing over his shoulder at the other boy.
“Coming where?” Jungkook asked, eyes wide and brow furrowed in confusion. And ok, that was cute. But Taehyung digressed.
“To lunch dummy,” he specified, starting on his way to the pavilion again.
“I- ok?” He heard Jungkook jog to catch up with him. “You’re serious?” He inquired once he had fallen in step beside the silver-haired boy.
“Why wouldn’t I be? I don’t say things I don’t mean,” Taehyung said, which quieted the younger.
“So… you don’t hate me?” Jungkook inquired timidly after a few minutes of silence.
“Hate is a strong word. It’s more like you severely irritate me most of the time,” Taehyung mused. If he hadn’t been looking at Jungkook, he would’ve missed the relief that flashed briefly across the younger’s face, before his usual cocky smirk returned.
“I can live with severely irritating,” he said nudging Tae’s shoulder in an act of boldness. He shook his head. Of course the new side wouldn’t last for long.
“You’re something else, Jeon,” he laughed.
“So I’ve been told,” Jungkook gave him a toothy grin. Taehyung couldn’t help but smile in return.