Burn Me ~ Part 1 (A Taehyung Series)
Genre: Romance Fluff/Angst/ Future Smut - Demon AU
Characters: Taehyung x OC
Description: What is a girl to do when her psychic mate turns out to be a guy who’s rumored to be the most powerful demon in existence?
Mini Chapter Guide: Part 1 | Part 2
From her seat in the large dome, Hwang Maisie winced along with the other spectators as one of the contenders in the combat circle collided with the ceiling, his opponent looked on with a blank expression, seemingly unmoved.
“That guy doesn’t show an ounce of mercy,” commented her cousin, Minho. “It’s awesome.” He was, of course, referring to the reaper that, like many other demons, often dueled for money in the Underground.
The subterranean location was just like the Las Vegas strip on steroids. There were restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos, hotels, and amusement rides, among many things. Considering their kind was impulsive, plagued by restlessness, had instant gratification problems, and were prone to pursue cheap thrills to chase off their oppressive boredom, the Underground was every demon’s version of heaven.
Moreover, it was a place where they could blow off steam and didn’t have to pretend to be anything other than what they really were.
Maisie winced at the snapping of a bone. Fighters were always guaranteed to leave a duel with injuries, broken bones, or even internal bleeding. Some had died during or after duels, despite demons having an accelerated healing rate. That was why she wasn’t joyful at the idea that her other cousin, Hyuna, was due to enter the combat circle any minute now. Even if Hyuna won the duel, she was still liable to be badly hurt by the end of it.
Maisie watched in morbid fascination as the losing contender dealt the reaper, Jimin, a series of blows that barely managed to register on the reaper’s radar. Instead, he merely lifted his contender by the throat and flung him across the dome. Jimin’s eyes bled to black, which was a tell-tale sign that his inner demon was in control.
Much like shifters, all demons – no matter the breed – had a dualism to the soul. Whereas shifters shared their soul with an animal, demons shared theirs with a conscienceless dark predator that lacked empathy, was unable to emotionally connect, and had a strong sense of entitlement. An inner demon could surface, enabling it to then talk and take control. The only outward indication of such a thing would be that the person’s eyes would turn totally black.
“Jimin will easily end this,” Minho stated happily. “I don’t know what Himchan was thinking when he agreed to this fight. Fuck him up, Jimin!” he hollered along with the rest of the crowd.
She winced as the reaper proceeded to do just that by telekinetically sending Himchan crashing into the ceiling once again.
Some demons were relatively harmless in the fact that their only abilities were to cause nightmares and read thoughts. At their strongest, however, demons could do things such as possess others and steal souls. Although Maisie was powerful, she wasn’t particularly impressed by it. She liked to earn the things she had, and her demonic abilities were something she’d been born with – not the same thing at all.
She scowled at Minho “You’re supposed to be supporting Himchan!” Her eyes narrowed at the shifty expression on her cousin’s face. “You bet on Jimin, didn’t you?”
He gave her a sheepish look. “Hey, I like Himchan, he’s my friend…but I also happen to be fond of money and that meant backing Jimin.”
“Where’s the loyalty toward your friend?”
Minho pointed at himself. “What did you expect? I’m an Imp. You know…selfish, sneaky, fickle, not to be trusted under any circumstances.”
He did have a point about imps. Her family, like all imp families, had a reputation for being what her grandmother Juri liked to call ‘multi-talented.’ Humans would have simply dubbed them as criminals. They tricked, they stole, they lied, they cheated, and they could get in and out of any place without being noticed…and they were completely casual about it too.
Juri had ensured that Maisie was just as ‘multi-talented’ as every other Hwang, despite the fact that Maisie wasn’t an imp. There were no hybrids in the demon world. If two different breeds procreated, the child would be one or the other. And Maisie happened to be the same breed as her absent mother.
Minho elbowed her lightly, practically radiating excitement. “Look, Jimin’s ready to finish him off.”
The reaper was currently looming over Himchan with his hand hovering over his chest, palm down. Himchan was crying out, his back arched like a bow. A few seconds more of what was clearly excruciating pain and Franklin raised his arm – a signal of surrender. The crowd went wild, cheering and chanting Jimin’s name as he stood clenching his fists and breathing deeply, clearly battling his inner demon for complete control. Finally, his eyes returned to normal and his muscles unlocked as the entity retreated
Jimin didn’t strut cockily around the circle like many others did. He was much too busy glaring at Himchan, and she got the feeling that he was annoyed with his opponent for surrendering so soon when he clearly needed a release for his inner demon’s pent-up aggression.
“No wonder he’s Taehyung’s sentinel,” Minho continued.
And who was Taehyung? Well, Kim Taehyung was not only the creator of the Underground but a demon whose lair spanned most of Seoul and even much of South Korea than he let on. The Prime was a ruthless billionaire who owned a chain of hotels, restaurants, security firms, bars, and casinos. That was what demons did: they hid in plain sight, mingled in with unsuspecting humans; often in positions that provided them with power, control, respect, and challenges. Many were entrepreneurs, politicians, stock brokers, CEOs, bankers, lawyers, police officers, journalists, chefs, surgeons, and people in the media. Maisie herself co-owned a tattoo studio that had many oblivious human customers.
Taehyung blended in with human as best he could, though it was hard for anyone to deny his beauty was anything but mortal. There wasn’t a demon in the world who hadn’t heard of Kim Taehyung, especially since he was rumored to be the most powerful demon in existence – something he’d apparently never denied or confirmed.
There were many other rumors about Taehyung: that he was dangerous, calculated, notoriously sexual, and someone who lived by his own rules on his own schedule. It was also believed that he had the ability to call on and control the flames of hell, which was extremely rare. It was also extremely scary because nothing was impervious to the flames of hell.
Not even demons.
Hearing her cell phone ring, Maisie fished it out of her pocket and frowned at the name on the screen. It was Hyuna. “Shouldn’t you be immersing yourself in ‘your zone’?” Maisie teased on answering
“I need you to come back here.” Pain dripped from her cousin’s voice and it had Maisie’s tiny body going rigged in mere seconds.
“Hyuna, what’s going on?”
“Quickly.” With that, she ended the call.
“Hyuna needs me for something.” Maisie gave Minho her half-eaten hotdog for safekeeping, though they both knew he’d eat it without even thinking twice. You couldn’t trust an Imp with much of anything. Especially not food. “I’ll be back in two minutes.”
Maisie rushed to the end of the row, vaulted down the steps, and headed to the manned door that led backstage. The doorman, who knew her family well, said, “Hyuna’s in room twelve. You’re not going to like what you find.”
Maisie dashed down the corridor before taking a quick left and reaching the door she was searching for. Stepping into the room, she came to an abrupt halt. Anger whizzed through her system. “Hyuna, what the fuck?”
The tall, olive-skinned girl’s attempt at a smile earned her a wince and instantly put a hand up to her split, swollen lip. Her clothes were torn and she was covered in bruises and scratches. Peeking up at Maisie through one eye, she said, “It wasn’t my fault.”
Well, that would be a first. Hyuna had a tendency to get in deep shit. Regularly too.
“Jihyo’s little group attacked me in the restroom a few minutes ago.”
Jihyo was not only Hyuna’s scheduled opponent but a bitch who had a hard-on for Hyuna simply because she’d once slept with a guy Jihyo liked. Demons tended to hold a grudge.
“I wondered if maybe Jihyo put them up to it,” said Hyuna. “But would she really think she’d get away with this?”
Yes, Jihyo would. The harbinger thought herself untouchable because her anchor was a demon within Taehyung’s Force. Demons were predominantly psychic creatures. They didn’t have soul mates, but they came in pairs. That meant they each had a predestined psychic mate, or ‘anchor’, who made them stronger and gave them the stability that prevented them from turning rogue.
By fusing their psyches, a powerful, unbreakable link formed between the demons. It wasn’t sexual or emotional, it existed on a psychic level. Demons were very protective of their anchors, but Maisie didn’t give a flying shit who Jihyo’s anchor was – no one messed with her family.
“Where are Jihyo’s little bitches now?” Maisie demanded, her anger getting the best of her as she paced back and forth.
Hyuna’s expression was grim. “The doorman went searching for them just before I called you, but they’re nowhere to be found –how fucking convenient, right? They got what they wanted either way; I can’t go out there. I can’t fight like this.”
It was true. Not even their accelerated healing rate would have Hyuna back to normal within the small timeframe she had.
No, you can’t,” Maisie agreed. “But I can.”
Hearing a knock on his office door, Taehyung turned away from the reflective glass that provided him with a perfect view of the combat circle. “Come in.”
Three of his sentinels – Hoseok, Yoongi, and Namjoon– entered. Just by glimpsing the hard set to Hoseok’s jaw, Taehyung already knew he wasn’t going to like the information he had sent them to attain one bit.
Setting his glass of gin and tonic on the desk, Taehyung said, “Tell me.”
Hoseok halted directly in front of him, the others flanking him as closely as they could. “More strays have gone missing than we thought. We checked to see if there have been disappearances in other areas, but it seems to only be happening in Seoul right now.”
The matter had only come to their attention a few days ago since Taehyung didn’t regularly monitor the population of strays – demons that chose to live outside of a lair. But it seemed that someone was simply plucking them from the streets. Strays weren’t under his protection, but that didn’t mean Taehyung liked anyone using Seoul as their own personal hunting ground. Unlike shifters, demons didn’t claim territories, but they were protective of the places where the demons of their lair resided.
Yoongi pulled a flask out of his jacket that Taehyung knew fully well was filled with vodka. The incubus was a heavy drinker, but since it didn’t affect his efficiency as a sentinel, Taehyung never called him on it. “Seoul is highly populated with demons,” the incubus pointed out. Demons have always preferred cities to any old boring town. It made Seoul a popular place for their kind. “A perfect place to hunt strays.”
“The ones we spoke with are scared.” Namjoon moved to the sofa beside the window. “Usually when there are crimes like this, you hear of at least one witness or one person who managed to avoid a kidnapping attempt. There’s been nothing like that. The strays that were taken weren’t weak in power, but they were easily taken.”
Taehyung leaned against his desk. “I have to wonder if Ailee has something to do with it.”
Yoongi frowned as he took a rather hefty swig of his vodka. “Ailee?”
“She’s been calling for changes that have been ignored up until recently. Those changes would offer strays protection. If they’re scared…”
“They’re more likely to listen to her,” Yoongi concluded.
Demons didn’t have a global leader, they simply existed in lairs which were ruled by a Prime. The lairs weren’t organized into any kind of hierarchical structure. Demons only answered to their Primes. Ailee, however, had suggested electing one of the Primes – more specifically, her – to rule above all the lairs of Korea. For a long time, no one had listened to her. But now some demons were starting to support her idea, and she’d finally found a true voice.
“Considering it’s rumored that she rents out her own demons to dark practitioners to use in their spells, I doubt she’ll have any qualms with plucking strays off the street,” said Namjoon, his gaze drifting to the reflective glass after a rather loud shout of applause from the audience outside.
“Why would Ailee bother appealing for this?” Hoseok shook his head. “We had a structure like that once, and it resulted in fucking chaos. Why ask to bring that back?”
“Power,” Namjoon answered simply.
He was right.
There was always someone looking for power, control, and money. After so many years of being surrounded by such greed and calculation, everything had started to feel predictable, boring, and cold for Taehyung. Now a numbness was beginning to settle in for both him and his demon.
“I had a call from Jinki,” Taehyung told his sentinels. “He’s holding a conference on Saturday in Busan for every Prime of Korea to discuss the matter.”
“Do you think Ailee has a chance of implementing any changes?” Yoongi’s tone said that he didn’t believe so.
“I think she’s very cunning and calculated, and we shouldn’t underestimate her,” Taehyung told the incubus. “She-demons can be pretty ruthless when they want to be.”
A grin played around the edges of Hoseok’s mouth. “Speaking of ruthless she-demons, you might want to know that Krystal has gotten herself a boyfriend. She’s flaunting him like crazy, obviously hoping it will get a jealous reaction out of you.” And the hellhound seemed to find far too much enjoyment in that.
Inwardly, Taehyung groaned. “Last time we spoke, she promised me I’d regret letting her leave me and that I would beg her to come back on my knees.”
Hoseok laughed. “She sensed your demon losing interest?”
“Yes.” Story of Taehyung’s life. His demon could be very obsessive when fixated on a female, but it got bored so easily that the infatuation was always short-lived, leaving Taehyung to deal with a pissed-off female nursing a bruised ego.
Their inner demons couldn’t ‘care’ for others, but they could form attachments to people. When that happened, those attachments were incredibly intense, because every ounce of a demon’s natural intensity and focus was channeled into them. The only people his demon was attached to were his four sentinels. It obsessed over women it wanted, but it didn’t wish to ‘keep’ them, despite that it experienced the same loneliness that all inner demons were plagued by
Taehyung snapped out of his thoughts as another knock was followed by the entrance of Jimin who had clearly washed up and changed out of his bloody clothes. “You fought dirty, as always.”
Jimin grinned. “There’s no other way to fight.”
“I think Jihyo’s up next,” said Namjoon, looking out of the window. “Here comes the umpire.”
Speaking into a microphone which was wired to the speakerphones in Taehyung’s office, the gray-haired male announced, “There has been a change in the program. Due to Miss Hwang’s poor physical state at this time, she has been substituted—”
“Hold on, that’s not allowed!” Jihyo insisted as she suddenly stomped into the combat circle. “If a contender decides to pull out, it means their opponent automatically wins.”
“In many cases, yes, but Miss Hwang hasn’t decided to pull out. She’s been rendered unfit to duel. Miss Hwang is within her rights to select someone to replace her.”
The rage that flashed across Jihyo’s face told Taehyung that there was something very personal about this. But that wasn’t what had him stepping closer to the window. No, it was the sight of the dark-haired female now making her way into the circle. She was a petite thing. Five foot two inches tall at most. She was as delicate as demons came but something about her told him that she was very much capable of taking care of herself.
“Who is that?”
Hoseok glanced at the dark-haired beauty. “Ah, that’s Juri’s youngest granddaughter. Pretty little thing, isn’t she?”
“She’s a teensy little thing. Gorgeous too. Jihyo’s going to kill her just for being prettier.” Namjoon muttered with a sigh, he sounded quite upset with his assessment too. He had never been Jihyo’s biggest fan.
“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” Taehyung found himself commenting. There was just something about the other she-demon; about the way she cocked her head as she ran her gaze over Mona. She was a predator searching for a weakness. Definitely no easy target. And he suddenly found himself…interested. Not much truly interested Taehyung and his demon anymore. It was a refreshing feeling, to say the least.
“You think the little one has a chance of winning this?” Jimin asked as he neared the glass, his eyes zeroing on the small demon with interest.
The bell suddenly rang.
“We’re about to find out.”
Seeming to revel in the noise of the crowd, Jihyo tossed Maisie a dismissive glance. “Joining me in this circle was a big mistake, Maisie.” She said her name with utter distaste.
Yeah, a lot of people felt that way. Why? Because Maisie was known amongst her social circle for being the sphinx without wings. An oddity. An abnormality. Some people made the mistake of believing that made her easy prey and Jihyo was clearly one of them.
Maisie shrugged at her. “Prove it.”
With a smirk, Jihyo conjured an orb of hellfire – a standard ability that most demons had – and hurled it at Maise. Sharply stepping to the side, Maisie dodged the orb. But in spite of the anger threatening to steal her self-control, she didn’t retaliate, which clearly puzzled Jihyo. What the harbinger didn’t realize was that Maisie didn’t want to duel with her, she didn’t deem the bitch worthy of one. All Maisie wanted was to get a grip on the dumb heifer.
Of course, she had abilities which would allow her to hurt Jihyo from a rather lengthy distance. But if she wanted to cause the harbinger real pain, she’d need to get her hands on her. Unfortunately, Jihyo seemingly intended to attack from afar. Maisie needed to lure her close. That meant pissing her off – something which Maisie was totally okay with. By nature, Maisie was a reasonably collected person. But she did have a temper that ran quick and hot.
“You know, I can’t work out why you thought you’d get away with having your little friends attack Hyuna. Do you feel empty inside? I mean, like, in your skull?”
“You little bitch.” Jihyo hissed, as launched one orb of hellfire after another; aiming for Maisie’s head, chest, legs, and abdomen. Anything that was of value really.
Maisie evaded most of them, purposely allowing one to clip her shoulder and another to graze her leg. She didn’t want Jihyo to know how fast she was, not if she also wanted Mona to be arrogant enough to come closer. “All this because Hoshi chose Hyuna over you three years ago? Really? How pathetic.”
“He didn’t choose her. She lured him away.”
Hyuna could control most minds with ease, but she had too much self-respect to ever use the ability to get a guy who didn’t want her. “We both know that isn’t true. But even if it was, two wrongs don’t make a right. Your parents have proved that.”
Snarling, Jihyo conjured two orbs of hellfire and threw them simultaneously. Maisie ducked, evading both. Lightning fast, she whipped a stiletto blade out of her boot, curving her hand around the ruby-red marble handle.
Jihyo laughed. “You think a little knife will save you?”
Ordinarily, probably not.
“It’s almost cute.”
Masie sidestepped the orb of hellfire that flew her way. Conjuring orbs was something Maisie had personally never been able to master. She could create hellfire, but she couldn’t shape it into anything. She could, however, do something else.
Generating hellfire in her left hand, Maisie then infused it into the knife. Just like that, the blade was aflame and totally lethal. Stilling, Jihyo gaped. For a brief moment, the crowd fell silent. They had all obviously assumed that the reason Maisie wasn’t retaliating was that she didn’t have any offensive gifts to boast of – how wrong they were.
Wearing a patronizing smile, Maisie twirled her blade on her finger. “Personally, I think this beats orbs.” Especially since she could infuse hellfire into any object and make them instantly deadly. A blade. A pen. A hairclip. Anything. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that was fear on your chimp-like face.”
There was a cry from the side and then Jihyo caught a dagger that one of her friends chucked her way and then launched herself at Maisie – giving her exactly what she wanted. Maisie evaded the sword, slashed Jihyo’s thigh, and then slammed her palm into Jihyo’s abdomen all in one collective move.
Jihyo dropped to her knees, shuddering, with her mouth open in a silent scream of excruciating agony. It wasn’t because of the hellfire eating away at her flesh. No, it was because of something far worse.
The crowd once more turned quiet, no doubt confused as to why a mere slice and a single hit had taken Jihyo down.
“Does it hurt?” Maisie squatted down beside her, a teasing pout playing on her lips. “No one fucks with my family. Go near any of them again, and this pain will seem like a fucking slap on the wrist. You got me?”
Jihyo fell onto her side and curled into a fetal position, sobbing, just as the umpire dashed over. “What’s happening?” he asked.
Maisie returned her blade to her boot. “She’s getting what she deserved.”
With that, she strode out of the combat circle. It took a few minutes to squeeze through the cheering, congratulatory crowd before she reached her cousins near the exit of the dome.
Hyuna beamed at the sight of her, dramatically fanning herself as she fell into step beside Maisie. “My hero! I’m so happy I could cry.”
Minho, on the other hand, looked extremely pissed. “I can’t believe the bitch sent her friends to—”
They halted as two demons suddenly planted themselves in front of them. The first male was tall and she could have sworn she smelt a hint of whiskey on his breath, the second was a golden eyed male that made her think of a hellhound.Maisie had seen them patrolling the Underground many times, knew exactly what they were – sentinels.
“Mr. Kim would like to talk to you.”
“Oh yeah? I’m not really the chatty type.”
The second male grinned, genuinely seeming more than a little amused. “I’m sure you won’t mind sparing Mr. Kim a few minutes.”
Well, actually, Maisie did mind. Given everything she knew about Kim Taehyung, the prospect of meeting him didn’t exactly fill her with joy – especially since there was a little something else about him that bugged their kind: no one seemed to know what breed of demon he was. Maisie didn’t like blind spots. But it was vital to never show weakness to a predator, and backing away from the challenge in his sentinels’ eyes would definitely make her look weak.
“I’ll go, but tell me this first…Am I getting a medal?”