Chapter 1: A Meeting To Not Forget
“Don’t wander too far into the forest, I know that you like it but the deeper you go the thicker the foliage gets. Therefore, going so far would only decrease the likelihood of you coming across sunlight, you can guess what would happen to those who wander in too far, can’t you?” A sweet voice and eyes bluer than anything stared at him, almost like they were trying to figure out what he was thinking.
A shout echoed around the mansion followed by a loud slap and horrified screaming as a boy stood his ground even as his pale skin slowly turned red. Sparkling blue eyes, whether it be the result of the pain that had been inflicted or because of the lighting, stared into duller ones. His fists were clenched at his side, ready to retort something that would undoubtedly destroy his own future and his sister, he clenched his teeth and thought better of it.
“I understand,” the dull eyes kept staring at him as he excused himself and regained his composure, managing a smile that was undeniably fake but no rebukes came. No one dared make a sound as he turned on his heels and marched out of the room with practised composure and then the door closed behind him.
The second it did, he ran. On impulse, he headed for the forest, his only safe space where even those who worked for his father would never dare come and search for him, not that they would unless it was of utmost urgency. Khun Aguero Agnis had come to understand that he was not exactly important to his family for he could not pull his own weight.
He knew that he would be able to pull his own weight soon, a goal that he had set himself and that he would do anything to achieve, no matter the cost, for he wished to change things. Without even realising it, lost in thoughts of whether his sister would follow him or not, she certainly would not, he had stumbled over a branch and sent himself tumbling down the paved road that guaranteed safety if followed.
At that moment, he wished to curse those who had not bothered replacing the rotten fence that was supposed to keep accidents like this from happening and let out a pained cry as something, presumably a branch, stabbed his arm. Without anything to hold onto, he kept tumbling down, hitting rocks, trunks and just about everything he could.
By the time his fall had stopped, his hair was loose and covering his face, and he could barely move. A quick assessment led him to believe that the branch, a quick glance allowed him to confirm his theory, had dislodged itself from his arm, however, he couldn’t move his arm. He groaned as he tried getting up, groaning at the sight of blood and dirt marring his skin and moaned in pain when his hand caught on a rock and made his arm move.
More blood bubbled out of its wound but all in all, he was fine. He could still walk despite the pain in his legs but thankfully nothing had been broken. He knew the forest well, better than anyone but that only extended to the safe part and he had to admit that he was at a loss, unable to figure out where he was. Usually, he would have his bag by his side but he had left it in his room in his rush and was therefore toolless and clueless to where he was.
It was only then, as an orange ray appeared that he came to the startling realisation that he must’ve passed out when he had hit the ground. It would explain the dull throb in his head but what was more important than his wounds at the moment was to get back home. Everyone knew that in the forest there resided a vampire. One that was stronger than any other creature and could easily defeat an army of thousands of guards.
There was no use in panicking for it would only disturb his train of thoughts but even as he thought that he couldn’t stop the way his body shook as he temperature dropped. He came to a startling realisation that he was already at the border, just a few steps further and he would end up in the darker part of the forest where the vampire resided. He stumbled backwards and somehow didn’t trip, narrowly avoiding a tree root.
“Hello?” He called out. There was no use in doing so, he hadn’t even heard any noise that could betray the existence of another but perhaps instinct had mostly played a part in that since nearly a second later golden eyes came into view. There was nothing threatening about them but still, he found himself running towards where he assumed was the right way and ignored the pain from the whip-like branches that he kept running into.
Stories and rumours alike had something to play in his sudden fright and in the end, he regretted it as he finally did fall over, tripping on something. He was sent flying and landed with a frightened squeak and ended up curling up into a ball as the cold started getting to him and the sound of approaching footsteps reached him.
It was all over for him now and he chuckled as the footsteps grew infinitely closer and relaxed, letting himself go limp, accepting the fate that undoubtedly awaited him. Was this his punishment for having a different point of view than those who held power? If it was then he didn’t think he wanted to let himself fall for it but he was so incredibly tired and wasn’t this just an easy solution?
“Are you okay?” Surely he was dying since there was no way that someone would be idiotic enough to walk around in the forest without any shoes on. He didn’t bother answering and whoever it was must have been worried enough because they knelt down and pressed their fingers at his neck, a bit harder than necessary but it didn’t particularly matter.
The newcomer didn’t wait for him and seemed to sigh in relief when he removed his fingers and he grunted as someone lifted him up, not a hard feat since he didn’t exactly weight that much and he wasn’t exactly struggling, and then the mystery person set him down so he could sit against a tree and he finally deemed it safe enough to open his eyes.
“Are you a vampire?” He croaked out. His head was spinning and he really couldn’t see all that well anymore. The orangy tint of the forest had changed into darkness and he could only vaguely make out the shape of another human, or maybe a vampire. Whoever it was didn’t look that tall and his voice had a childish hint to it which led to him to believe that the other might’ve been his age.
“A vampire?” The person took a step forward, revealing the same golden eyes and this close, he looked much more human and Aguero could confirm that he was indeed a child and a boy at that. The boy huffed and shook his head, kneeling down in front of him and blinked at him before smiling and reaching out a hand that he retracted when the light blue-haired male recoiled and ended up opening his hand revealing a little tin can with the label medicinal salve. He did not flinch away this time when the boy came closer to apply it.
“Yeah, have you not heard of the rumours that there is a powerful vampire living in the forest? No, what are you doing in here at this time?” He yelped at the pain as the other boy applied the salve onto his legs. To his surprise, the pain flared up and died down just as quickly and soon he could barely feel the wounds.
“My name is the 25th Bam and I live here. I’ve never heard of your rumour before,” the boy, Bam, answered as he took a look at his arm and frowned. Bam’s sight seemed to be much better than his since he could still assess his wounds despite the fact that he could once more only make out the vague shape of Bam’s body. "How does someone end up with a hole in their arm from falling?" He thought he heard the brown-haired boy ask but he couldn't be sure and shook his head, which turned out to not be the wisest decision he'd ever made.
“I’m bringing you home,” Bam finally decided to say after a moment of silence and picked him up. At first, he didn’t react, maybe it was due to blood loss but most likely it was due to how late it was getting but when he finally did he started squirming in Bam’s arms, protesting that he could walk perfectly fine on his own.
“Put me down. Are you listening to me?” Bam only smiled at him in what might’ve been an attempt to silence him. He was honestly surprised that he could still see Bam despite how dark it was getting but it almost seemed like the other’s eyes were glowing and if they were then maybe it would explain why Khun could see his face better now.
“You look like a fish when you squirm like that,” the boy chuckled as the blue-haired male’s face turned pink and his mouth opened in a rebuke that never quite made it,” Even if I did let you down you would only meet a gruesome fate. There’s not a lot of safe places in the forest at night you know? I don’t think you know where you are either so if you tried to leave by yourself then you might just die.”
It didn’t sound like a threat what with the way Bam sounded so genuine but it didn’t help the chill that went down the Kuhn’s back and he went limp much to Bam’s joy, it seemed if the small thank you meant anything. He kept an eye out in a poor attempt to pull his weight but gave up when he saw that his sight wasn’t going to help the farther they entered the forest.
“You can go to sleep now,” Bam’s voice was lulling and the situation might have been uncomfortable for most but here with Bam, someone he hadn’t even known just moments ago, yet, even so, he felt so relaxed around him, perhaps even more than he ever had at home. The idea might have haunted him if he was in a decent state of mind but at the moment the only thing he could think of was if anyone would even bother looking for him when they would come to a conclusion that he had disappeared somewhere.
“Thank… you,” he finally managed to mumble out as his eyelids shut themselves and he fell asleep. He didn’t see the fond smile on Bam’s face as he moved further into the forest until he reached where he lived and landed with an ‘oomph’ on the pile of rubble that he had built, almost slipping but somehow he managed to keep his balance and climbed down the pile, doing his best to not slip again and once he reached the bottom, he sat down and man and set the new boy he’d brought home in a position that allowed him to hug him.
“I should thank you,” he smiled as he buried his face into the crook of the other boy’s neck. Something he would undoubtedly get scolded or maybe hit for in the morning. After all, when he had tried to do this to Rachel, it had ended up with a slap to his face and a desperate plea from his part for her to not leave him alone. Speaking of slaps, he wanted to know why the other boy’s face had a handprint on it. He would also need to ask for his name but for now, he could enjoy the presence of someone else even if it was only for one night.
Their first meeting was something that neither of them would forget for a long time to come.
Chapter 2: A Break
Khun enjoys breakfast with Bam and just as he finds himself relaxing, everything comes rushing back.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
He woke up to fingers playing with his hair. For a second, he confused whoever it was for Rachel, snuggling in closer, earning himself a soft giggle as the fingers threaded through his long locks. He didn’t remember the ground ever being this soft before, had Rachel allowed him to sleep on her?
“Are you awake?” No, definitely not Rachel. He almost flung himself off of the other boy, eyes gazing at surprised but not unpleased ocean-blue eyes. Assessing the other was something he couldn’t help, light-blue hair tied up into a ponytail, a kind of worry in his eyes that Bam had never been subjected to before.
“You didn’t leave,” he answered, incredulous and unable to do anything but freeze as he watched the other boy chuckle. It devolved into full-blown laughter, to the point where the blue-haired boy threw his head back, fingers still playing with his hair. He was warm, warming up a part of Bam that he had never known was cold.
“Where would I even go? I don’t know my way around the forest,” Khun watched as the other boy's joy fell, the hope in them dying down. He had never been one to wish to make someone happy, especially not someone he had just met but he found himself oddly weak against golden doe eyes. He cleared his throat and added,” I also wanted to stay with you.”
His voice lingered, debating whether or not he should tell the truth or not. Should he say that he disliked his family, it could come back to bite him later even if this boy didn’t look like he could hurt a fly. It was safer than sorry, he reasoned as he finally removed his fingers from the brunette’s hair.
Such a little thing for him seemed to turn into a big thing for Bam, eyes sparkling and reinvigorated. He shimmied off of Khun and then turned back around, hand outstretched to help him out with one of the biggest and truest smiles that Khun had ever encountered. It reminded him of that one time one of his siblings had said something about their partner reminding them of the sun but if he were to compare them then in his opinion, Bam would be infinitely brighter than the sun.
“There’s a kind of fall deeper down in the cave! You can drink from it, Rachel said the water was really clear and that it was safe for con...conspication? Consumption I mean, we can also have breakfast if you want to,” Bam’s voice was cheery albeit it did drop when the idea of Khun not wanting to eat breakfast seemed to occupy his mind.
“I’d love to but who’s Rachel?” He asked and watched the golden-eyed boy freeze. He turned around slowly and Khun couldn’t help the way his facade came up, the relaxed mood now filled with tension only to see that Bam seemed more confused than anything. He repeated the question slowly as if he understood what the words meant one by one but not the meaning of it together.
“Will you really have breakfast with me?” Bam’s mouth was opened in an ‘o’ shape now, Khun found it cute how he looked like he had a fang. It suited him, Khun couldn’t help thinking as he nodded his head. It seemed to be an odd moment to ask again who Rachel was so he let Bam tell him a bit more about the falls that were supposedly grandiose.
He had to admit that he wasn’t expecting much but when he arrived in the spring, he was pleasantly surprised. The water was warm, Khun assessed as he twirled his hand in it. Bam laughed and then before Khun could so much as blink, he was jumping into the spring, clothes having been long discarded.
Khun hesitated to do the same but when Bam started to try to splash him with the water, he gave up. He jamp in too, laughing as he splashed Bam not unlike he had earlier. He couldn’t remember the last time he had ever been this happy, splashing away and taking a nice soak once they got tired of trying to splash each other.
“For breakfast, we can have some of the berries that Rachel taught me to grow! Do you like blueberries? What about strawberries?” Bam questioned as they climbed the mountain of rubble and exited the place Bam considered home. He thought about asking Bam who Rachel was again but refrained from it.
After all, this definitely wasn’t the season for blueberries and this dark in the forest, how would they even grow when he couldn’t even tell morning from the night? Just as his brain wracked itself and almost gave up, Bam led him to patches of various fruits that definitely shouldn’t have been growing under these circumstances.
“I’ll bring you home after we finish eating. I can’t cook myself so the only thing we can really eat is fruits at the moment,” in Khun’s mind, he didn’t think it necessary for Bam to apologize. Especially not when he had almost just poisoned himself, picking a bright-coloured fruit that didn’t look nearly as poisonous as Bam had warned him about.
The fruits were surprisingly sweet and only then as he picked those that were fully grown did he realize that he hadn’t had anything to eat since the night before. Bam watched him eat, seemingly not hungry himself as he smiled at Khun, a gentle and kind look in his eyes as he helped Khun pick out the nicer and tastier ones.
“Khun… Can I call you Aguero?” The kind boy asked, eyes twinkling with excitement, masking the inner fear he could feel as he watched the surprise on Khun’s face. Khun questioned himself, had he even revealed his name to Bam yet? He couldn’t remember whether he had or not or maybe he might have let it slip without realizing. The initial surprise melted into something else as he processed the idea.
“How about you call me that the next time we see each other?” Aguero smiled, winking not unkindly as he gobbled down more fruits. For a second, he really thought he went too far, Bam’s face turned red and he almost dropped the fruits he was holding onto and then the most beautiful smile Aguero had ever seen bloomed on his face.
“I will! Thank you very much, I wished I could get you something better to eat but I’m sure you’ve had something better to eat at home. After all, Rachel told me that the food there is much better,” Bam smiled as he brought the fruits to Aguero, sitting down next to him and popping one particularly reddish fruit into his mouth, offering the rest of them to his new friend.
Aguero almost didn’t realize that Bam had once more brought up Rachel since his mind was more occupied by the idea that he had to go home. He knew that he inevitably would have to return, not dong so could end up with his father and siblings searching for him using methods that definitely would not be appreciated.
The last time one of his siblings had disappeared, the people who had taken his sibling in had been whipped off the face of the planet, no traces remained of them and no one had been willing to speak up about what had happened to them. For some reason, he thought it wouldn’t be any different.
If they found Bam, he wasn’t sure what would happen to his newfound friend. With that threat in his mind, he nodded along to whatever Bam said, barely listening to what the other was saying. The only thing he could think of how soothing his voice was, it certainly did help with his newfound fear.
He wondered what would happen once he went home, to that environment where one couldn’t live in peace. He couldn’t even enjoy his time with Bam and before he knew it, Bam was leading him hand in hand to the outskirts of the forests were the rays of the sun were beating down harshly.
He could see not so distantly the blurry form of his home, the larger than natural house loomed over the forest imposingly. He wasn’t sure how Bam knew where he lived but then again it was probably the only house in the vicinity considering that the area was mostly private property that belonged to his family.
“Is this goodbye?” Khun couldn’t help but ask himself, unknowingly having said it out loud. Bam turned to him, suddenly looking mildly serious as he grabbed Khun’s hands and brought them to himself, holding them to his chest, eyes determined. Khun didn’t think anything could have swayed him at that moment as he stared right into Khun’s eyes.
“It’s not goodbye, I’ll come back to get you if you want me to,” Bam smiled and Khun distantly wondered why this felt like goodbye more than anything. He had a pretty decent idea what his punishment entailed and if he wasn’t lucky, he wouldn’t get to see Bam for a long time but with those words, his worry seemed to ease slightly.
“Then let’s promise to meet up soon alright?” Khun stuck out his pinky and had to explain to a very confused Bam how a pinky promise worked. After all, Khun didn’t doubt for one second that he would meet Bam again. However, what he didn’t realize was that at the moment he sealed the deal, he would not get to see the brunette for a long time.
“Swallowing needles sounds painful,” Bam grimaced as Khun laughed, throwing some comment about it being some old song that he had learned from a grandma when he had been much younger. Bam had nodded, holding onto his hand a tad longer than necessary, not that Khun minded.
“Take care, Bam,” Khun had grinned when Bam had finally let go, desolation written all over his features. He could hear the sound of someone from his family in the distance, calling for him and he ran, unable to find it in himself to wave at Bam, afraid of the consequences if he were to do such a thing.
When he turned around, the other boy would have disappeared, no traces of him left but the pinkish stain of one of the crushed fruits had left on his white shirt. The panic, the worry, the joy of finding him couldn’t have been faker if he had tried. The smile, the reassurance, the apologies had said had been just as pretentious.
There were guests at home, sobbing, telling him that they were glad that he was fine after having spent an entire day in the forest. Khun froze, he hadn’t known that he had slept that long and when he saw the look on the faces of his family’s members, he knew that he was in more trouble than he had predicted.
He shook their hands, apologized some more for all the trouble he had caused and finally, all of the guests were gone, leaving him with what he dreaded the most. He protested as the sentence fell upon his head, he was not to leave the house until he was 18, not unless he had someone trustworthy accompanying him.
He protested as best as he could, the idea of not seeing Bam for so long worried him but he did not so much as utter a word of the brunette as he came up with a story that would satisfy the general curiosity without getting anyone but him in trouble. The only thing that met his protests was a sharp look and a hint of a promise for a worse punishment that had him nodding his head and thanking them for the punishment.
Khun Aguero Agnis had one thing in his mind and no matter what changed, he would do everything he could to reach his goal. That night, he gazed out of his window and he could’ve sworn that in one of the darker corners of the edge of the forest, he could golden eyes staring at him from behind a tree.
A single blink disrupted the image, leaving him with nothing but the longing in his heart as he thought back to the boy who had accepted him for who he was without so much of a concern as to where he came from and who his family was. He longed for a friend to talk to, to enjoy the simplicities of life with but even so, he did not rebel against the order of his families for he knew that rebelling would do nothing but harm to him.