Noah's ears fell, much to the amusement of ChoYi. "I was hoping Shade would be LESS of a distraction to you, not MORE of one." He said as the old man wrapped Ho's hand with gauze, the Yongma master having burned himself with oil as Shade had popped up and clung to his legs.
"There there. You rest your hand, you did enough chopping today." The human owner soothed, patting Ho's knee. "Sit over by the window so that bug can attract customers. I'll make you some dumplings later okay?" He looked to Noah, ChoYi sweeping up the plate shards as Ho whimpered. "Actually...Would this be too much for you to heal?" The old man pointed at Ho's hand, and the Rabbit TAL cracked his knuckles.
The door jingling as it opened was drowned out by the musical popping of Noah's bubbles around Ho's hand, and as the last of the burn receded from his skin they all jumped as a man's voice rang out.
"Oh! Look honey! It's just like our little bug!"
A sturdy-looking man with rather rockstar-like brown hair reaching to his shoulders was pointing at Noah with an easygoing grin, his wife beside him with her arms folded. Her hair was a hue lighter than the man's, and while the man's clothing was a free spirit-like style with an open blazer and a t-shirt with some kind of meme joke on it with jeans and tennis shoes, she wore a pair of black sweatpants and a tanktop, over which a reddish jacket had been thrown and zipped halfway. The most friendly sets of gray-blue and doe brown eyes were fixed on Noah's still bubbling hands.
"...ShhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIII-" Noah began to screech, Ho quickly slapping his healed hand over the Rabbit's mouth.
The old was sweating as he grabbed menus for the couple. "Uh-Uh-Uh- Sorry about that, we didn't hear the door. Er-" He tried to direct them to a table, ChoYi helping drag Noah into the kitchen to contain his nervous energy. "He-Here! Please feel free to survey our drink list! We have a wonderful selection of sojus."
"Was that boy your waiter? It's so neat to see them do those tricks, isn't it?" The laidback man had a flower halo.
Noah promptly popped back out. "By chance...You talkin' 'bout Chachaoongs?"
"Ah yes yes! The Chachachas~! Our little girl is one~!" He replied cheerfully as the woman scrolled her finger down the list of non-alcoholic drinks.
ChoYi and Ho were now spying with Noah. "By chance...What's her 'neat little trick'?"
"Anytime someone's got a bad cut or Bubu here trips on his Ethernet cables as he's prone to doing, why, our little butterfly can heal it right up!" The woman was gleeful as she spoke. "Ooh, the bulgogi sounds good~ Can we also have an order to go after we eat? Nabi would probably love this 'Dragon's Breath Curry'."
Noah stiffened, and was promptly gone, ChoYi hissing a cuss as he chased his son through the door. Ho laughed nervously and went to assist the old man with the order.
"You let him keep it-"
The taller TAL scooped Noah up even as the Rabbit's voice climbed in pitch. "Shhhh, Oppa. I'm sorry, I completely forgot. Nobody ever orders it so we forgot to take it off the menu." He walked his son to the break room and trapped Noah in a hug on the couch.
"She's the only one who deserves that dish." The Rabbit seethed, tears starting to roll down his cheeks, flushed red.
ChoYi kissed Noah's head, rubbing the Rabbit's back. "Shhhh."
"...I'm sorry." The old man had come in, wringing his hands. "I forgot it was in the new prints...Are you going to be okay?" Considering ChoYi was all but his own family, Noah by extension was practically his grandchild.
Noah had his hands on his face, still burning. "...I'd like...to go home for today?"
"Go on, then. I'll see to it ChoYi brings you some food later." The old man ran his hand over Noah's head, the Rabbit churring softly at the motion before slipping out of ChoYi's grasp and disappearing in a vortex of black.
The TAL slapped his hand over his face. "Aigo..."
"It's been too long...I still have the bottles too. We do need to use it up. Throwing it all away..." The old man sighed. "...I miss that fiery girl. He does too, it's easy to tell even without this happening."
ChoYi rubbed his arm, Ho poking his head in as the couples' meal was cooking. "...Should we move the date up? It's still a day away but..."
"We can do that. In fact, let's make the dinner tonight!" The old man nodded to himself as the other two gaped at him. "Oh don't look at me like that. We've got enough hands to pull it off."
Ho pumped his fists with a determined grin. "Alright~! I'll let Lang and the others know! Let's cheer Rabbit up with this!"
'Oppa...Just rest for a while. We'll show you you aren't alone.' ChoYi thought as he straightened out his apron.
"Hmm...What game did he say Hyung liked?" Jin and Yun were in a store, looking at games. MuYoung had purchased a game system for Noah, and the two Kings were looking for games they thought their Rabbit Hyung would enjoy.
The black haired King was mulling over the titles. "He's not into violent games, but his attention span wouldn't be great at puzzle games. Since they're working so much, he would lose interest in anything that'd take a long time to complete, so quest games wouldn't be ideal either-" Jin stared as his brother completely nerded out while muttering in the middle of the store.
"Ooh! Look at this! It's a virtual pet you can download to your phone! He'd love the bunny one-" Jin had been reaching for the box that had an adorable gray bunny hugging a carrot, when his hand bumped into someone else's.
The girl recoiled her hand, flushing and lowering her chin, blond bangs obscuring her reddened face. "I-I-I'm so sorry! Y-Y-You can have that o-o-one!" She squeaked out, hands curled up like paws that made Jin think of when Mirine was flustered and tried to act cute and sheepish.
"Uh, no, please miss go ahead. It's okay-" Jin tried to calm her down, feeling bad he'd startled her.
She floundered for several moments as Yun patted her on the head. When finally she was able to speak, the box with the rabbit now secured in her arms, she did the same shaky breath Lotte had done after being rescued, which was becoming an awful habit. "Uhm...you're looking for a game for someone, right? I-I overheard you talking, a-and I think I might be able to help?"
"Ah! Yes! Our Hyung actually!" Jin beamed at her. She certainly seemed to be suited by the bunny on the cartridge, which looked like it was hanging over her arm. "He's a very nice person and he's been down lately so we are putting together gifts. He's very busy with work, uh, he works at a restaurant, and he likes rabbits, he even has one, it's very cute." She perked at that, hugging the cartridge to her chest. "But we get, uhm, tied up with business sometimes, so we're looking for games for him to play when we have down time."
She shyly tucked her hair behind her ear, looking to be in thought for a moment. "Hm... M-maybe a platformer?" She finally suggested, stepping over to one of the shelves. "They're good for j-just about anybody. T-they don't take a lot of skill or focus, b-but they can still be engaging and fun!" She pointed out several.
"These are so colorful! I bet Hyung'll love these!" Jin gushed.
Yun was staring at the girl. "...You're...a Chachaoong too, aren't you?" The store was practically empty, and the employee was one of the highschool students whom had been in the crowd that stepped to the Kings' side. He was pretending not to listen in, playing on his cellphone while waiting to ring the customers up.
"!" The girl seemed to freeze up at the Black King's words. Holding her breath as her body went still, she glanced around nervously for a couple seconds before finally giving an uneasy reply. "...Y-...Yes...?"
Yun tilted his head. "You're also very young...Are humans taking care of you? You're knowledgeable about something like this and you smell strongly like humans..." Jin blinked as he was grabbing cartridges of games. "Yes Jin, Chachaoongs and humans smell different, I'm amazed you have yet to catch onto that."
"I only became my own entity like five months ago, pardon me." Jin replied, rolling his eyes.
This out of context exchange took some of the tension out of the scene. "You...wuh...?" she replied, staring at the two with some of her anxiety having been replaced with confusion. A moment passed and she snapped out of it, and quickly answered Yun's question. "Oh! U-uh, yes, I-I still live with my p-parents! A-and yes, they're humans."
"You're happy with them?" Yun asked, a soft tone taking over his voice. "You've never felt like...you didn't belong? Like you...weren't meant to be living with humans? ...How long have you lived with them now?"
The girl straightened her stance. "O-of course I'm happy with them!" She answered with noticeably less hesitation than before. "They're my parents, t-they've always been there for me." Her burst of confidence began to fade somewhat, though not entirely. "I...have felt a little... o-out of place, sometimes. B-but they always manage to k-keep feelings like that away..." A timid smile found its way onto the girl's face. "Ah--I've lived with them all my life. I-I'm twenty." Suddenly becoming all too aware of her brief moment of rambling, she let out a sheepish laugh. "A-ah... M-my name is N-Nabi, by the way..."
"Nabi-Dongsaeng, your family sounds nice." Yun again patted her on the head. "Treasure them greatly. To be cared for by humans so kind that you've stayed with them so long...It's not everyday that you find that."
Jin was smiling. "To think the older King of Chachaoongs is getting misty-eyed. Now I've seen everything."
"Quiet, little brother, or I'll exhibit how I'm the older one here." Yun taunted with a smirk. Getting used to Jin being his own person was one thing, seeing him as a brother was...Though Jin certainly acted younger anyway.
Nabi seemed to stiffen up with shyness yet again. "K-K-Kings? Y-you two a-are the K-Kings?" she stuttered in shock before pausing in a brief moment of thought. "I-I mean... now that you mention it, there is an energy coming from you..." Almost immediately, her face was tinted red with embarrassment, and she began to squeak out an apology. "S-sorry! I-I don't know h-how I didn't notice sooner! Sorry!"
"No no! Nabi-Nuna it's alright really! You saved us some time by helping us with this." Jin held up the games she'd pointed out. "It's a good thing you were here to help!"
As Yun pulled out his now buzzing phone, Nabi beamed with cherry colored cheeks. "And not a moment too soon." The black-haired King spoke, staring at his phone in horror. "They moved Hyung's party to tonight." Jin blanched and dropped the cartridges in his arms, their fellow student yelping from behind the counter.
"...We're so dead." The redhead whispered. "We'll never get the other gifts in time by tonight, are you KIDDING ME?!" He grabbed onto Yun and shook the elder King. "We're DOOMED!"
As their chibis started to panic and stress, Nabi fidgeted and glanced at the game case. "U-uhm..." She quietly cut in, hesitating a moment before continuing. "M-maybe I can help?" The case fell to the ground and joined the others as both Kings clasped their hands around hers.
"We'll be forever in your debt, Dongsaeng!" Yun whimpered. "The truth is we're supposed to be doing the shopping for everyone's gifts because it's a surprise for Hyung. But since we're the only ones with students IDs for discounts we have to buy these things." He held out a list for her to take, different handwritings spelling out that various people had ideas on what to give the Kings' Hyung.
She took the list and skimmed it quickly, smile widening. "I know how we can get this all done in one sweep. Let's get these games rung up and head out okay?"
The Kings nodded in unison.
"Really? That soon?"
MuYoung sighed, pinching his brow as he spoke into his phone. "No, no, I can get it moved up. It's just going to take twice the yelling I did before. Let ChorangYi know it'll be done in time for tomorrow." He bade his brother goodbye and ended the call, Maru bouncing Haru as their son tried to speak without success. ('Bwah bwah bwuh.')
"The party's being moved to tomorrow then?"
Sometimes the older gunman kind of detested just how well his fiance could hear. "Yeah. Apparently Rabbit had a breakdown at work, so ChorangYi wants to get to celebrating sooner." MuYoung went to his mate and child, kissing Haru's chubby cheek as the baby yawned. "It won't be difficult for me but uh, you might hear yelling in a few minutes."
"As if that's any different from normal?" Maru teased, kissing MuYoung on the lips as Haru flopped bonelessly over his 'mother's shoulder.
The sight of their son, so cozy and safe and happy, melted MuYoung on the spot, and the sappy grin he now wore made Maru snicker at him. "Oh, as if YOU can resist Haru's cuteness." He mockingly grumbled at the Rat TAL. "I wasn't really joking about that samanko cake. It should be done by now, so all they'd need to do is speed up on the process of decorating it."
"I hope he'll like it. Jin and Yun should be getting the gifts today. As long as they get it done, we should be good." Maru rubbed his face into MuYoung's shoulder, smelling years of smoke and sweat and his fiance's natural scent in the material. "What set him off?"
The Rat's mate shook his head. "He didn't say. But considering they're at work-"
"It probably had to do with Nunim?"
MuYoung winced. "...She always seemed to have a plan, no matter what. And we've been relying heavily on Rabbit and Creator for help lately thanks to those ba- jerks..." He scrubbed his finger under Haru's chin as the baby dozed on peacefully.
"Is Rabbit-Hyung still at work?" Maru prompted, MuYoung raising an eyebrow. "Well if he left, I don't think he should be left to stew in his thoughts. Let's find him and cheer him up!" The Rat TAL smiled softly, fingers gliding through MuYoung's hair. "He'd kick down your door if there was something wrong with you, you know?"
The gunman huffed. "Fine. But I'm not letting him hug me, just so we're clear. I know where he's been." Maru smacked him on the chest, making a chuckle burst out of MuYoung's lungs.
Stepping out of the house, however, they ran right into Sae Ha and his fledglings, Sora included. "MuYoung! Maru~! And Haru!" She called, going up to hug them. "Doctor Quack-Nim was going to help me to shop for traditional medicinal herbs today!" The human doctor beamed as Sae Ha twitched behind her, Mano and Henry just barely containing their mirth.
"Hey, heads up, the party's going to be tomorrow." MuYoung announced, the four stiffening. "Rabbit had a breakdown at work so we're moving it to tomorrow."
Sae Ha huffed with a frown. "We better find the Kings and make sure they can get everything on time."
"Ho said that he already texted Yun." Maru told them as Haru stirred awake in Sora's arms, being lavishly cuddled by the human woman.
Mano scratched his head. "Even so, those two aren't exactly reliable yet." The glowers he got made him sweat heavily. "Are you all saying you don't think they're panicking at this very moment? The list we compiled was pretty big." He pointed out.
"Er...Let's find them. Besides I want to get a gift for him too. Having a stressful break isn't pleasant." Sora vouched.
Haru was handed back to Maru, now wide-eyed and curious to see his 'uncles' and aunt. "Let's get going, then. I'll see where we can meet up with them, and we'll go from there." MuYoung texted Jin to find some location to meet at. "Sorry to cut into your day."
"It's something we can do at anytime." Sora assured him. "It's important to be there when you're needed by someone. Oppa's always bouncing around with a grin and helping us all. It's time to return the favor." The thought of Noah NOT having a smile or laughing or joking was enough to make her uneasy.
The group headed off, MuYoung noting a flash of red far above the normal line of sight. 'You don't have to go back to stalking me, you weirdo.' He thought as Chau Yong landed on a rooftop, watching them.
Logan looked across the table to his companion, the child's face twisted in a frown and pout combo. "I hate this game."
"Strategy is important to learn, Dolch." Logan's voice rumbled pleasantly, his teeth flashing in a smile. "You cannot be impatient if you want to play with the Kings." His beast appeared behind, the warrior-like feline's arms crossed as he hovered over Logan's back.
Dolch picked up a piece and moved it. "I want to, I want to...Not fair. You and that slimy Fish...Fishker..." He looked at Logan apologetically.
"Slowly, Fischermen." Logan sounded out the word.
The red haired child nodded. "Yeah, him. You guys already got to mess with them, I want a turn. It's only fair, it's..." His face pinched again as he tried to sound out the word.
"Gerecht, understand?" Logan's tone was patient, even somewhat amused as the boy tried to switch between languages only to be impeded by his own tongue disobeying. "And of course you will have your turn. Gerecht ist gerecht and I'm only ever gerecht to you. Ah, schach in ten turns by the way." He stated, setting a piece down in a different spot.
Dolch jolted in his seat. "Wha-?! N-No way! Nicht fair! That's seriously not!"
"Keep your eyes on the board, Dolch. You must always survey the Schlachtfeld. It will change in the blink of an eye." Logan chuckled as his beast shrank into its smaller form, going to climb into Dolch's lap. "Die Könige are not the ones you need to worry about. Their Court is the true hinderness. They're so fond of their Königen and the new TALs emerging are bound to them with such strong treue."
The redhead sniffed, his freckled nose scrunched up. "Bunch of Dummköpfen."
"Oho~, so you know that one." Logan's grin was roguish and bright. "Someone's zugehört when he should be schlafen."
The apple green eyes darted away as he pet the beast in his lap. "Ich weiß nicht wovon du redest."
"Now now, acting unschuldig doesn't suit you." The psychic smirked as he moved and set another piece down and claimed yet another of his companion's pieces. "But Fischermen is getting on my nerves lately. He's pressing too much about the ceremony. Was passiert, passiert. Though pressuring the TALs to emerge may be to our vorteil, the other Chachaoongs they have are far too protective. I have a feeling that messing with Sensenmann would not end well." He had a wry smirk and a few sweatbeads adorning his head as he thought of Chau Yong.
Dolch frowned darkly. "We should get rid of him." The child made a slitting gesture across his throat. "Ihn erledigen."
"If it were possible." Logan shrugged, amused by Dolch's violent side. "But he has many eyes. Der Wachmann ist selbst ein Geist. It would take quite the distraction..."
The child's mouth opened, but shut immediately.
"Yes, the clan he's taken over. Die Familie. But that mate of his is Tiger now. Those children may yet show promise, though I have less faith in the girl. Quite the unglückliche klutz that one." The psychic uttered. "Maybe even those little ones...Ah. The Puppenspieler. I believe? I have yet to see any puppen around them."
The child slammed his next piece down harshly, the beast grunting as it was disturbed by the noise. "That Rabbit...Stupid stew ingredient. Stupid...Nutte." The older male coughed to cover his laughter, trying to frown at the child in reprimand but failing as the boy's colorful language left him filled with mirth. Had he said too many things about Ji-U without noticing the child's presence? He'd have to be more careful, Logan supposed.
"You'll get your chance to spielen, Dolch. Try to have patience." Logan rumbled softly, setting his tenth piece down.
Dolch yelled in frustration. "Verdammt! In zehn!"
"I warned you, Dolch~" Logan singsonged happily, his Yongma yawning and stretching as he enjoyed his victory.
A special double thanks to both for German translations, and to for letting me use her character Nabi~ Thank you both for all your hard work in helping out with AfterMask!
Please support the TAL webtoon on Naver, and thank you for reading Tale of TAL~
Aaahh there's my Nabi~! And you don't have to thank me for anything. It makes me really happy to have an OC of mine be a part of something like this~
Poor Noah. He's dealing with some emotions right there.
Anything is possible when Mu Young yells at people. XD
Wow that's a lot of words I don't understand haha.
Please keep up the good work!
Yes, he deal very BADLY xD
Mu Young's lungs only grow stronger as time passes ffffff
Yeah Logan's a bitch to write since he has two languages, good thing I've got Mage helping with that~
Thank ye kindly~