A Spirit of Bitterness

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"I know. The House of Mirth has such a twisted sense of humor," he said with an airy chuckle.

Then Joon pressed his forehead against hers, the tip of his nose dusting her own, and he closed his eyes to slowly inhale a careful breath, then hold it a few moments before letting it go. Lilith watched him through her reluctant tears, watched open his eyes. She stared into where the streams of golden amber in those irises spread into the brown, like electric gold, and in that awful and wonderful space, she felt absolutely seen in all of her darkest dreams by her Haejok Ai. It made the rage inside of her settle just a little.

He was calm now, unsmiling. His hands and body against her had relaxed as he pushed away from her. His hands braced against the floor on both sides of her head. He leaned in just enough to kiss the corner of her mouth, before pushing himself up off of her and to his feet. When he reached a hand down to her, Lilith was surprised at herself when she took it and let herself be pulled to her feet without a second thought.

Joon relaxed, so she did too. Something about these truths coming to light had sobered the mood between them.

Lilith spoke quietly, with a hint of shame behind her words: "Two more things, I need to know. Does this make you to me... how Jungkook was to Shae?"

"No. I'm not a Gwangju Ai like he was, I'm a Haejok Ai. Something different. I am bound to you in a way, but I'm not your dog." Something about this fact, Joon found particularly amusing. "No spirits can harass me into obedience to you or remorse for anything that I do. It's refreshing, to be honest. Being without guile."

Lilith glared on. "Good to know." Her own remorse seemed to be multiplying by the minute. "Second question: where have you taken us? Because it's certainly not towards camp."

Joon looked towards the open glass of the shuttle cockpit. He put his hands on his hips and sighed in satisfaction. "Right you are. Camp is a long way away... but the texts have given me a lead on where we need to go if we want to be able to truly stop any magical beings that stand in our way. There's this genius device known as The Artifact, and these old smelly books say its whereabouts are rooted in this little galaxy. So we're here to see if it's still here or if it's been nabbed by treasure hunters. Either way, it's a place to start."

Lilith looked Joon up and down. Her gut ached with mistrust, disgust, and a very different sort of tension. She felt leagues away from certain about anything, and the bitterness and anger in her only seemed to quietly deepen all the more for it.

At Joon.

At herself.

I wish Jin was here. God, I need him. I wish he was here to help save me...from myself.

But at that moment, she decided it was best to consent to Joon's advice. And Lilith felt a twinge at the thought of a reunion with Kim Seokjin--like it was something she wanted but didn't think she could stomach. Her urgency for him, she brushed aside like dust beneath a rug for the time being.

Lilith nodded intently at Joon. "Ok then. Let's see if we can find this Artifact. But first and foremost, I'm going to check in with base camp."

"Aye aye, captain."

Joon gave a mock-salute in her direction, and Lilith mentally swore at him for it... and quietly enjoyed it.

--

A far smaller fighter jet was swerving its way through the galaxy, it's cramped cockpit framed with two seats, one in front of the other. In the front seat sat Dean with fat earmuffs/headphones arching over his head, and a thick black mask cupped over his face to ensure quality air control and ease of communication between him and Jin.

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