(Interlude) In Which Park Sooyoung Catches Feelings??!

I fall, you and I collide
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Taeyeon was shorter than Sooyoung thought. The leader of the Hunters of Artemis looked to be about as tall as Seungwan, the major difference being the sheer confidence the woman oozed. Looking at them standing side by side, neither one willing to make the first move, she figured this had to be the world’s most awkward family reunion.

From a logical perspective, it had to be strange. Seungwan was a legitimate child of the moon goddess, for all intents and purposes closer to Artemis than even the most devoted of Hunters would ever get. Her mother’s Hunters came from all kinds of backgrounds, but it had to be weird considering Seungwan was the only known child of Artemis currently walking topside. Taeyeon might see her as competition, something Sooyoung knew Seungwan didn’t want to get involved in.

They’d talked about the Hunters one night after practice, just her and Seungwan, as they walked back to Joohyun’s cabin for a midnight snack. Sooyoung asked her friend if she’d ever thought about joining up with the Hunters now that her parentage had come to light.

“I mean, I guess? That was one of my first thoughts, even as we were traipsing through the Everglades. The Hunters of Artemis serve an important role in the demigod world. They’re one of the first lines of defense against monster attacks, and they get to travel the world searching for rare targets.”

“And you don’t want to do that?” Sooyoung was genuinely surprised. For someone like Seungwan, in the unique situation she was in, things must get lonely for her without any siblings to live with. She’d even chosen to stay at the Hermes cabin with Yeri, preferring the constant chaos to what could only be described as silent solitude. To have the chance to live with your “siblings”, traveling the world and getting into fights? That sounded like something right up her alley. “Why?”

Seungwan sighed, looking up at the waxing moon that hung overhead. “Honestly? I think part of it is because I’m terrified they won’t see me as a comrade. I worry they’ll shun me for being her actual daughter, something I’m sure some of them only wish they could be.”

“But what if they didn’t?” Sooyoung asked.

Seungwan shrugged, “I’m not saying one day I wouldn’t consider it, but I’m not the kind of person who wants to flirt with ‘maybes’. For the foreseeable future, my place is with you, Joohyun and the others and nothing can change that.”

A rumble of what felt like pride welled up in Sooyoung’s chest at the remark. Seungwan was right, of course. Their current mission was to find and assemble Nyx’s scepter, but Sooyoung would be lying if she wasn’t starting to get attached to their little squad. Going to the Underworld together had been one hell of a bonding experience.

“Well good, I need someone level-headed to talk to now that Joohyun and Seulgi are busy swapping spit whenever they can,” she grumbled, but shot the other girl a shy smile.

Seungwan laughed, and Sooyoung wondered when she started thinking differently about her.

“…Sooyoung! SOOYOUNG!” Joohyun snapped her fingers under the daughter of Ares’ nose, jolting her out of her reverie.

Sooyoung blinked, realizing that everyone was staring at her. “Sorry, what?”

Taeyeon sighed, “I was just about to ask what you guys knew about the disappearing dogs. We’ve lost our entire pack, including my boy Zero.”

“Oh. Currently, my guess is as good as yours, we were out in the woods running a drill when our Labrador Procyon up and vanished.”

Taeyeon let out a small chuckle. “Ah, so this is where he’s been. We went to Manhattan a few weeks ago to summon him but found his pedestal empty. Infallible tracking hounds are somewhat of a valuable tool for us Hunters after all. Moonbyul will be pleased to hear he’s found a home here, she always had a soft spot for that dog.”

“Did you guys notice anything at all right before he vanished?” Joohyun pressed. “I know you guys were attacked soon after but there had to have been something, even with magic, dogs don’t just poof away.”

“I heard this really shrill whistling sound,” Yeri piped up from her spot on the sofa. “But that’s it.”

Taeyeon turned to the maknae with a curious expression on her face, “A whistling sound? That might actually be a good place to start. Director Kim, may we adjourn to your library?”

“Of course. And your companions are more than welcome to bunk where they usually do in the Artemis cabin unless –” he looked at Seungwan, who shook her head vehemently.

“It’s all yours, I bunk with Hermes still, I can’t sleep alone these days.” Taeyeon looked at her, brows knitted in, was that concern, Sooyoung thought. Still, the older woman didn’t press the issue.

“Very well. I’ll let my girls know. Director Kim, can you let Yuri know that we’ll have need of the guest paddocks for our horses?” 

“Only as long as you promise to visit with her before leaving again, she’s taken nicely to retirement but I’m sure she’d love to hear about your latest hunt.”

XXX

By the time Taeyeon and her Hunters had gotten settled in, the sun was just beginning to peek over the treetops. Sooyoung and the others ended up returning to Joohyun’s cabin to get some sleep, exhaustion having finally settled in after a late-night battle. Honestly, it was nice waking up to her four best friends scattered around the room instead of her siblings. A tranquil morning, nothing like being woken up by Chanyeol and Bora sparring with each other. A quick look to her left revealed Seulgi and Joohyun still fast asleep together in one bed, Joohyun’s arm curled possessively around Seulgi’s hip. Huh. She should have figured Joohyun would be the big spoon.

Yeri had fallen asleep with a book on Ancient Greek mythology on her chest, mumbling something about Pegasi under her breath. It was a cute visual, but Sooyoung knew that their youngest always had at least three weapons within reach and the lack of any visible daggers didn’t change that.

She turned to where Seungwan had dozed off last night only to find the bed empty, the sheets still rumpled. The daughter of Artemis had seemed off ever since meeting Taeyeon and the other Hunters last night, though she hid it well underneath her usual smile. It was a lot to unpack, meeting the women who got to spend their lives hunting with her mother, while she herself had had to fight for years to even be recognized by the goddess. For once Sooyoung was grateful that Ares maintained a fairly “hands-off” position on parenting.

Sooyoung took a moment to stretch her body, feeling her muscles work out the last of the kinks from last night, before carefully grabbing her shoes and weapons and tiptoeing outside to search for Seungwan.

She found her exactly where she expected, in one of Sooyoung’s least favorite places. The library.

“Why you insist on hiding out in one of the most boring places at camp, I’ll never know,” she grumbled half-heartedly, trying to put at least a little smile on the older girl’s face. “Wait, you wear glasses?”

Seungwan took her nose out of the book she was poring over, peering at Sooyoung over the tops of her glasses. “Reading glasses. My vision is fine but reading some of these old books wreaks havoc on the eyes.”

“We’re not due to meet for a few hours, what brought you over here?” Sooyoung asked, sliding into the chair across from Seungwan. “It’s so early that not even Mina is he

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Drachesoul
It's my birthday this week and I finally felt inspired enough to write a bit. Being featured is the best present an author could ask for. Enjoy, I still don't have a concrete update schedule :D
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