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The Creaking Oaks Reservation

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Chapter 1

Jisung

Jisung was right about ready to throw a tantrum. His hands were quivering in suppressed anger while he resisted the urge to tear the letter in his hands apart. Changbin and Chan weren’t home yet, as Changbin had afternoon classes and Chan was still at work, but Jisung could assume that their reaction to the paper in his hands wouldn’t differ from his own at all.
Honestly, to him it was a stretch that the government allowed the monsters that hid in society to stay alive after the war. They were dangerous, resembling animals more than they resembled humans. And yet they somehow still lived, almost like human beings with a right to vote, to go to school. It was as if the war never took place, other than the mandatory tattoo on their forehead there weren’t any consequences for the supernatural. They just continued on with their lives while he was left to mourn over his parents. And the murderer was still out there somewhere, unfazed by his crime and living as if nothing ever happened.
The audacity of the government was really something else. First, they rejected his pleas to look into the file of his parent´s murder and now they decided he was the one that didn’t fit with society anymore and needed to learn about “supernatural culture” (as if this beasts even had a culture). Of course, Jisung was aware of this new governmental project. They tried to “close the gapes that were inevitably caused by the war and all the losses both sides had to face”- their words not his. Or to put it differently: They wanted to let people that weren’t content with the way the government handled the post-war-politics live with a group of supernatural beings in their save little reservations. He wouldn’t be surprised if this people disappeared in there, never to be seen again. After all, they were basically imprisoned with animals.
The reservations were set up roughly one year after the war and were supposed to protect supernaturals as well as humans. The base concept was that humans weren’t allowed to enter the land and supernaturals weren’t allowed to leave. If a human dared to enter none the less they were fair game for the supernaturals and same went the other way around. However, over the years many hunters disregarded the rules and went to hunt for supernatural beings even inside these save havens. That was when the PSB, the party of supernatural beings, first appeared. Among other things, they demanded better protection of the reservations and equal rights. This ridiculous project Jisung was forced to partake in was part of their agenda as well.
Jisung let out an angry huff and dropped onto their worn living room couch. He was still feeling about ready to explode with rage, his whole body shivering in anger and- even though he´d never admit that- fear. To be sent to a reservation was a death sentence. Reservations were off limits for humans and the monsters inside there would probably see the three of them as a snack or something. Jisung closed his eyes shuddering as the image of ending up like his parents crossed his mind. This was a catastrophe.
Slowly the anger left him and made place for fear and the worst horror scenarios. Jisung was never allowed to see his parent´s corpses but he had had nightmares of their deaths for years so his mind was quiet familiar with scenarios like this. Jisung bit his lip as he pulled his knees to his chest.
Damn it Jisung, get a fucking grip.

Jisung didn’t know how long he actually sat on that couch, but it must have been fucking long because he only got out of his trance-like state once he heard the jingling of keys outside of the flat. Chan must be done with work, meaning it was around 7pm. On any other day Jisung would have welcomed the other excitedly but today he barely looked up when Chan stuck his head through the door.
The older immediately sensed that something was wrong and set down on the couch, slinging an arm over Jisung´s shoulder and forcing him in a side hug.
“Sungie, what´s wrong?” Chan asked with a concerned expression. Jisung, however, had no intention of explaining this whole dilemma to his hyung and instead just pointed with his finger at the damn letter that he had thrown on the couch table over the course of the last hours.
Chan sighed. “Did you fail a test? That’s nothing to beat yourself up over, Jisung.”
Despite the situation Jisung was getting irritated. That obviously wasn’t a test paper. Damn Chan and his none-existent brain.
“No, hyung, just take a look.” Jisung demanded, still refusing to explain the situation to the older. Saying it would make it reality.
Chan thankfully didn’t protest further and instead grabbed the letter.

“Dear Mr. Han you surely have heard of our new governmental project to assure better coexisting of supernatural- and human beings. If not, we included a second paper that discusses the details of the project. We are proud to tell you that you are, after careful examination of your personal background, included in the project and will spent the next year, as of 25th of March, in the reservation 'Creaking Oaks' near Busan. You are expected to stay in front of your flat at 5am sharp with your luggage. Feel free to call us under… Sincerely, Jung Hyungsyuk (Minister of Supernatural Integration)”

The further Chan read into the letter the paler he got- and that said something considering his already white complexion. His eyes widened and he immediately dropped the letter only to envelope Jisung in another hug, this time turning the younger so that they were facing each other and pulling his face into his shoulder.
“There are to other letters in the kitchen, addressed to you and Changbin hyung. The envelopes are similar so I´m assuming the content is as well.” Jisung who clung desperately to Chan at this point announced.
Chan swallowed hard, but his answer surprised the younger. “Good, I´m not letting you leave on your own and I´m sure, Changbinnie feels the same way.”
“You don’t even know if you are assigned to the same reservation, hyung.”
“We better are. We´re not letting you go into this hellhole alone, Sungie.”
Jisung was honestly relieved that he wouldn’t have to go there alone. Did that make him a bad person? Maybe. After all, a good brother wouldn’t want his family to live through this hell together with him.
Still, there was a sense of comfort in knowing that he wasn’t going to be alone under these monsters. Maybe everything would turn out fine.
Wishful thinking, Jisung. Wishful thinking.

 

Minho

Woojin got the call from Hyungsyuk early in the morning and honestly it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to Minho. After all, every reservation was inclined to partake in the project. Still, he had hoped that the government somehow forgot about their petty little forest. They didn’t, obviously. So, now they were supposed to let humans into their save haven, into the only place where they could be who they really were without judgement. It was supposed to help with discrimination or whatever. Nothing that concerned Minho as he did absolutely not plan on mingling with humans ever again. And yet he had no choice but to obey. He wasn’t the one who got to decide. Hack, not even Woojin as their official alpha had a say in that matter. They were expected to accept what the government decided, even though nobody inside the reservation was keen on meeting humans again. He´d lived 13 blissful years without any human contact and he´d be lying if he said he missed it. In fact he still had nightmares about the horrors of the war, not that the higher-ups cared about the mental health of a werewolf.
God, he was so frustrated. He felt absolutely helpless and Minho despised not being in control. Honestly, as soon as Woojin told them about their participation in the project Minho´s mind went blank. He didn’t think, didn’t listen to his packmates screams for him to stay and just shifted and ran off into the forest. Not the smartest move but a natural reaction: Running away from danger. Of course, he knew that the project wasn’t something he was able to run away from but he was always someone who listened to his instincts first and his mind only second.
Right now Minho lay by the shore of the lake close to the border of the reservation. It was a favorite place of his- a place where he could get lost in his thoughts for hours without someone bothering him. Aside from him only Felix knew about the lake as it was well hidden behind some widows and the other members of his pack never were too interested in mapping out the forest. Minho and Felix were the only ones that frequently left their “village” in their wolf forms. The others preferred to stay close to the houses and most of them only ever shifted if necessary. Woojin and Seungmin even went grocery shopping once a week, leaving the reservation and the protection it offered even though it was technically prohibited. Minho had no idea why they risked that, but the food they brought was good, so he had given up on complaining long ago.
Woojin was probably worried as hell right now, with Minho storming off without a word about where he was going. Everybody in the pack knew how much he despised humans and they all must have guessed that his reaction wouldn’t be positive. However, Minho never told anyone in the pack about the reason behind his hatred. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust them- they were his family- he just wasn’t ready to talk about it, even know, more than a decade after the war he simply refused to even think about what happened. He was actively repressing all memories, only ever reliving them in his nightmares. Most likely not the healthiest way to cope, but the only way he knew anyways.
The prospect of humans in his territory, however, was enough to trigger the memories and Minho wasn’t sure what to do about it. The calming atmosphere around the lake helped him tremendously, though.
Everything is going to be fine. It´s only one year and nobody said that you have to interact with them. You can just ignore them and pray that the government accepts that their project is useless. Yes, that was an idea. He´d just avoid the humans whenever possible, stay in the forest for the most part of the day. That wouldn’t be that much of a change anyways. Minho had always preferred nature over the pseudo civilization of the village.
Once he came to decide that avoiding was the best way to deal with their human visitors he felt ready to head back into the village. Woojin was probably about to have a heart attack and he never meant to worry the older.
Sighing he heaved himself back up and threw a last look at his favorite place. The lake almost looked like a mirror at this time of the day, the sun directly hitting the calm surface of the water. The limbs of the widows, surrounding the shore, swayed lightly in the wind and birds chirped in their crowns. It truly was a beautiful place.
The way back to the village was like second nature to him. He had lived in this forest a long time and prided himself with knowing every single tree by heart. He didn’t even have to concentrate, his feet found their own way back while he thought about how he should apologize to Woojin. Because it was certain that he had worried the older by storming off without a single word.
He had yet to come up with a proper apology when he spotted their village. It honestly wasn’t even a village; they just called it that for the lack of a better fitting name. Their village was placed roughly in the middle of the reservation on a clearing. It wasn’t much, eight houses, seven of them hardly any bigger than a summerhouse. The eight was bigger; it was like their shared house, where they ate or hang out. It was situated in the middle of their village and probably the place his packmates waited for his return. Thankfully, they knew not to bother him when he ran off like that, though it always worried them if he wasn’t back an hour later.
Minho didn’t head straight for the main house though and instead chose to go for his own house and a set of clothes beforehand. He hurriedly shifted before his door and went straight for his closet, carelessly dressing himself in the first thing he grabbed. Then he hurried over to the main house as he worried over his still none-existent apology. Screw it, he´d have to improvise.
As soon as Minho opened the old wooden door he was pulled into a bear hug. Not too surprising if he was being honest. Woojin always waited close to the door when he ran off. When he had first come to the reservations Minho had fought the hugs. Over the years he had come to accept them though- not that he had another choice with how touchy feely Woojin and- since he came to live in the reservation 2 years ago- Hyunjin were. Recently he even started to enjoy the displays of affection, though he´d never admit that.
Minho sighed and reluctantly wound his hands around his friends back.
“I´m sorry hyung. I shouldn’t have run off… again.” Minho wasn’t able to see the elder´s face but from how strong his grip was, he could imagine how worried he´d made the other. He felt so guilty.
“It´s okay, I should have known how you´d react. I know how you feel about humans after all.” Woojin murmured and then released him from his hug “Now come on, the others are waiting in the living room. They´re probably just as worried.”
Minho followed Woojin without protest, his head hanging low at the prospect of not only having worried Woojin but the others as well. He was there hyung damnit, he should be a good role model and not bother them instead.
Their living room was the most comfortable place in the whole village. There was a big fireplace at the door opposite of the door. Many sofas and beanbags were situated around it. At the moment all of his packmates somehow managed to squeeze themselves on their smallest sofa, immediately jumping up when they heard the two of them enter the room.
“Minho hyung!” was the only thing he heard before he was tackled to the ground, not even able to distinguish who was on top of him.
“Never do that again, we were so worried!” Ah, that was Felix.
A few seconds later, there was another weight on top of him. Seemed like the younger members wanted to squeeze him to death.
“I´m sorry, Lix. Now, get up, will you. I can´t breathe.” Minho complained with a playful tone. Felix and whoever was the second guy on top of him complied. With a relieved sigh Minho sat up again, for the first time meeting his packmates eyes.
“Look, I´m really sorry. I didn’t want to worry you… it´s just… I didn’t think at all. Once Woojin hyung said that we´d have to let humans live with us my mind just draw a blank.” He ran his fingers through his hair while trying to explain his thought process. The problem was that he hadn’t thought at all.
“Just drop it, hyung. It´s okay, just try talking with us next time instead of running off, yeah?” Jeongin spoke up. He was always the first to berate his packmates even though he was the youngest. Minho nodded a sad smile on his face as he knew that he´d most likely end up fleeing the situation again in the near future. It was always like this. He couldn’t help it and the others knew that as well. That was probably the reason why they were never really angry with him.
“Now come here. The couch is way comfier than the stupid floor.” Hyunjin said as he made grabby hands towards him. Minho relented and squeezed himself on the hopelessly overfilled couch. Honestly, the floor probably was more comfortable, although, he didn’t find it in himself to care as Felix draped himself over him. This may not be the most comfortable position but it was soothing. Not in the same way the lake was. It was just a place after all but in a way only family could calm him. Woojin who had chosen to sit inside one of the beanbags instead of the couch decided to speak up again.
“Since you decided to run off this morning would you want to hear the rest of the information?” the words may seemed harsh but Woojin´s tone was soothing. He just made sure that Minho was ready to talk about the issue again.
Minho bit his lip while contemplating. Woojin gave him a chance. If he wanted to drop the subject he could.
“Go on. I probably need all the information I can get.” He decided to say in the end. It was true, the more he knew about the humans the better he could avoid them.
“Mr. Jung was very sparse with information though. I hardly got anything out of him. I only know that there are three of them, all male and that there are scheduled to arrive on the 25th of March. That means we have exactly month before they come here. They´ll all three sleep in the spare house even though it will be a tight fit. But I assume they will not want to sleep with any of us.”
Minho gulped. One month, that wasn’t enough time for him to prepare to meet a human again. Then again, 100 years probably wouldn’t be enough for that.
“What do you guys think about that?” He finally asked. His own reaction has been so violent that he disregarded his family’s feelings. Time to fix that.
“I don’t know what to think, honestly. I´m excited. This will be my first time meeting people outside of Kijang. But they can´t be too nice if they were forced into this program.” Seungmin sounded dejected. That wasn’t a big surprise. The younger grew up in an orphanage, thinking he was human till the end of the war. Only the mandatory blood test after the war showed that in fact, he wasn’t. He was placed in the reservation immediately after even though he was only four years old. You should think that he was young enough to accept his true nature but the child still seemed to opt for a human appearance. Minho never judged him though. All of them had had it rough after the war and the last thing they needed as a pack was judgement from inside their rows. The whole world judged them, hated them. So they had to stick together as a family at least.
“I see what you mean” Hyunjin said “I would really appreciate a decent conversation with people from outside of the reservation. But damn, if they are in any way like the people from my old school that will not happen. They hated me just because I am different.” Hyunjin was the last who got into the reservation. He had lived with his parents in Seoul until two years ago, went to school there just like a normal boy.
Only that he was a werewolf and everybody knew with one look and well, let´s just say that they did not appreciate supernatural beings at all. Originally werewolves look like regular human beings. The only difference is in the DNA really. There simply is no way to tell the two kinds apart. However, the human government made sure to change that after the war. The supernaturals were forced to tattoo a symbol that resembled their kind on their forehead. It was a cruel thing to do because they basically forced the supernatural beings to live in a goldfish bowl. There was no chance to hide and therefor no chance to escape discrimination. It was also the reason Hyunjin was with them now. And one of the many paragraphs in the treaty that put their kind at disadvantage.
“Come on guys. There is no need to be this pessimistic! Maybe they are nice.”
Sure, they´ll be super nice and bring a little present as a thank you “for having them”.
“We aren’t pessimistic, Lix. You are optimistic. Let´s be real. They´ll hate us.” Jeongin deadpanned.
“Yeah, I´ll make sure to sleep with a knife under my pillow.” Seungmin added with a slightly psychotic look on his face.To think that he thought of Seungmin as cute when he first met him. This child was the devil himself.
“What do you need the knife for? You´re a werewolf. Just rip their throat out or something.” Minho had to backpaddle. Jeongin was far worse.
“Hell no! The taste would be gross. I´d have to brush my teeth for hours to get rid of that. The knife is way cleaner.” Minho didn’t even know who was worse anymore. He only knew that he was glad that they were on his side.
“Nobody will murder anyone. They are our guests!” Woojin clarified with an angry huff while looking at the two youngest with a scandalized expression. At that Minho couldn’t help but start laughing. It would all turn out fine. He was with his family after all.