Actions

Work Header

The Storm In Us

Chapter Text

He knew it hadn’t been wise to see him, not when the sun was setting, and darkness began to pool over the treetops. The forest was never quiet during the day, and if any of Them came to disturb the forest, it’s resulting silence would warn everyone else. Night changed things. Though the forest was never truly silent, the natural warning the forest gave was less noticeable. Better to stay tucked deep into the earth, in a hole that they could never find.

Unfortunately for Jeongguk, the Seer would only be in this part of the forest for the night only. And so, his curiosity got the better of him.

Now, he was paying for it.

He hadn’t been paying enough attention, his mind wandering to the milky violet eyes and smirking mouth of the Seer, when artificial light filled his path. He barely looked up before a bullet whizzed past him, barely missing his ear. He was running before the shot rang out, and he barrelled through the underbrush, faster than They could follow.

He knew he was fast, and he knew where to go if he wanted to stay free. He pumped his legs faster, blurring past the tangle of branches and leaves, towards the edge of the trees. As his path opened, he was met with a cliff, and he felt hope. He could make it. Just a jump, and he’d be able to escape. He felt energy flow through his body, answered by the clouds which billowed above him. Behind him, They yelled their displeasure, but Jeongguk thought there was nothing they could do.

Yet even as he felt a surge of wind tug at his skin, he felt a much more pervasive and sharp pain spear through his leg. Screaming, he fell, but not to the forest floor, like he prayed, no. He fell merely ten feet down, his leg ripped from the hook going through his calf, and body dangling perilously over the drop. He knew the hook must have a sedative of some kind, because, despite the pain, his consciousness was fading. He’d been through worse pain, lost more blood. But this creeping sleep meant only one thing. They had captured him. He would no longer be Jeongguk of the Jeons. He would be a number. A weapon. The Seer had lied to him… He would never find his Tamer like this.

He felt his body being tugged upwards, even as his eyes drooped down. He wished he had the strength to kick the spear away and let him drop down.

Falling would have been a much better fate.

 

~~~

He gasped awake. Another dream about him.

Jimin slowly placed a hand on his speeding heart, willing it to slow down. Sweat poured off him, as though he’d been running. But it was never him. Just the man. Running for his life from something unfathomable to him. Jimin ran his fingers through his hair as he turned to the clock by his bed. After affirming that it was too early to be awake, but too late to try to go back to sleep, he pushed off his covers with a groan.

He’d been having the same dream every night for two months, never changing or developing. He couldn’t remember the name of the boy, nor what he looked like. He didn’t know the forest, and certainly didn’t know the people chasing him. If there had been any change in the dream, maybe Jimin would dismiss it as his mind fixating on an abstract idea. But it remained, unchanging like a film, and a permanent fixture in his subconscious. Like a premonition, or an ill omen.

He stretched his neck, then his shoulders, before standing up and deciding to do a workout. Anything to wake him up, and maybe give him something else to think about. Despite his smaller stature, he made sure to keep his body fit.

He started when he was young, hoping it would make his family proud. He was the mistake after all. His younger brother was planned to perfection, genetically modified to have a tall, strong, healthy body. His mind as well, he was given intelligence, and his parents had paid a lot to make sure he was the perfect Park heir. When his mother had fallen pregnant, it was simply that her birth control medication had failed. She didn’t even realise until she was in her second trimester, and by that point the city wouldn’t allow for her abortion. Thus, Jimin was born. He was healthy and strong, but could never compare to Jihyun. He was too short, his metabolism not fast enough, his mind not as sharp. Just human. Boringly so. So, he tried everything to make him right. Workouts to develop muscles that tried to stay soft, diets to shave off his frustratingly plump cheeks, and studying past what any others did. At first the dedication made his family happy. Then it became the new expectation.

He wasn’t sure whether it was healthy to continue his current lifestyle, but if he stopped now, he knew his parents would never forgive him. Jihyun knew his struggle and had tried to ease up on his own achievements, if only to make the distance between then less noticeable. However, their parents were eagle-eyed, and began to punish Jimin for his brother lagging. And Jimin didn’t want to be what slowed others down. Especially not Jihyun.

Jimin searched through his drawers to find something to wear, before unceremoniously throwing his clothes into the laundry chute in his room, leading straight to working robots for the house. So many menial chores had been taken over by them, and it meant his family were able to do what they needed to do without distraction. At least, that was what his mother said. He’d been interested in learning, just in case the city generators ever failed. He didn’t like that he would be helpless if that happened, but he figured there wasn’t a real reason to learn. Maybe when he left the family home, he’d pick something up. Or he would just pick up a robot, like everyone else. He sometimes thought that was laziness speaking, yet he always justified that he truly didn’t have time to learn. He was just about to walk out his room, when his bracelet monitor began to ring.

He blinked, looking down and smiling gently. Hoseok. He must somehow be awake and had noticed Jimin was as well. He rolled his eyes and tapped the bracelet to answer. “You know, it’s not really a decent time for conversation”.

“Never mind that. I’ve been working on the choreo for the freshman, and I need you to tell me whether it’s too much.”

Jimin sighed. Normally it would take a while to convince Hoseok to get to the point of the conversation, but where dance was concerned, he was surprisingly frank. It was why Jimin had trusted him with teaching him dance when they were both in high school. He didn’t want someone to tell him that he wouldn’t succeed. He just wanted to learn. Hoseok didn’t play around, he just taught. After many years, Hoseok was Jimin’s only real friend, having found solace in an art form that he had chosen, and a friend whose sunny personality kept him going even when he was about to break. He smiled at the thought, before realising he’d taken too long to respond. “Uh, yeah, I’ll head on over.”

Hoseok paused, obviously hearing the lag from Jimin. “Hey, Min, you okay? You sound tired.”

“It is 5:30. Were you expecting me to be awake?”

“Of course I wasn’t, but my monitor said you were active. I was surprised as well, but it was right.”

“Well, maybe I’m sleepwalking.”

Hoseok barked out a laugh, before composing himself. “But seriously, Min. You okay?”

Jimin ran a hand over his face, humming in thought. “I mean… Yes. But…”

“Are you having those dreams again?”

Jimin bit his lip. “Dreams implies that there are multiple different ones. But yes. It was the dream. Given that I feel like I’m falling at the end, it always jolts me awake. So, I’m awake. And you need my services. How much will you pay up this time?”

“Ice cream. And my eternal love.”

Jimin giggles softly at that. “One of those things isn’t worth very much.”

“Excuse you, my love is what anyone with a brain desires!”

“I meant the ice cream, hyung…”

“What if it was love flavoured ice cream that you were turning down?”

“Who said anything about me turning it down?”

“The ice cream said so, Jiminie!”

Jimin laughs a bit harder at that, even as he tries to keep quiet. “Hyung, I don’t want to wake anyone up. Please stop.”

He snickers. “Only for now. But now you owe me ice cream.”

“How did I know you’d do that.”

“I’m your favourite hyung, and I deserve ice cream for putting up with you. Oh, gotta go, I thought up another step.”

And just like that, Hoseok hung up, and Jimin was left speechless. This would be an interesting morning.

 

~~~

He’d barely made it onto the train. The security guard attempting to stop him from boarding last minute, but Jimin managed to weave past him, and slid in as the doors closed. He smiled in victory, before his bracelet pinged. He pouted, looking at it. Seemed he was a petty guard, giving him a demerit, even at this time of the day. He sighed, and pulled up the monitor to message Hoseok, griping about yet another meaningless infringement. He hadn’t stalled the train, he hadn’t disturbed anyone, other than Mr Officer. Even then, he properly proven that he could board, and his ID cleared him to cross zones. But no. Apparently, he’d been too impatient for Mr Officer. If Jimin got another demerit this week, he’d have to serve a punishment, and they were never enjoyable. They were, however, fairly common. Hoseok had served one three months ago, having to plant new flowers in the government gardens. Even Jihyun had served twice, and he was a golden child.

Admittedly, Jimin had served a few more than Jihyun. Or Hoseok. Or both combined. He just had a knack for doing the wrong thing when the wrong person could see. Hoseok called it a gift, but Jimin called it a curse.

He heard a ping, and saw Hoseok had responded happily, reminding him that he’d probably have to work as a gardener again, which meant that Hoseok could come a taunt him. Perfect. Jimin rolled his eyes and looked out the window as the train elevated onto a monorail which would take him directly to Hoseok’s zone. The train was cleaner than normal, an impressive feat given the robots maintaining hygiene. The metal seats were shining chrome, and the white walls gleamed. There were never many on board the monorail, which meant Jimin could enjoy the whole carriage to himself. Trains had become a necessity to him, being the only transport between the zones, and his school being situated in Zone 3. He smiled gently before looking out to the city below.

It was a sight that had become monotonous to him, although he remembered being enamoured as a child. The city stretched out, the houses of his zone a mix of glass, metal and white. While the shapes were often slightly different, depending on the family housed, the uniform colour created a strong theme among the elite families of the city. To live in Zone 2 was a high honour. The only families who lived better were ones with international ties or government rank. They lived in the great skyscrapers in the middle of the city, surveying everything beyond. Jimin let his eyes wander further beyond his zone wall, toward the gardens surrounding his home. A mix of old-world plants and new ones grew together in carefully planned sections. Separate and tidy. Then there were the trees, where a few cafes and parks were for families. Well, Zone 2-4 families. Beyond that were the office buildings that made up Zone 3. The only difference between them and the houses were addresses, and Jimin had gotten very lost before he learned how to read the street signs properly. Beyond that were the small apartment flats of Zone 4, as tall as 3, without the ambiguity. They were for packing as many people in as possible. The only tall buildings there were for drones of workers to use up their life. But at least they weren’t Zone 5, the people who worked and lived below the city, unseen, forgotten. Jimin had never been allowed to go down, but he always wondered.

Hoseok lived in Zone 4 and had made it to a Zone 3 school based entirely on his dance. Jimin could only dream of having that much talent, to be cleared for entry to a higher Zone. So few people ever left their home zones. Either you weren’t good enough to ascend, or you didn’t want to dirty yourself by going lower. Jimin couldn’t understand the rationale. Hoseok’s home was just as nice as his own, if smaller and less shiny. Though could never prove that claim to Hoseok. If Hoseok attempted to follow him to Zone 2, he knew that guards would catch him. An infringement was one thing, but an arrest meant one thing. Zone 5. The inescapable.

Jimin looked out further, trying to pin-point the place where the dome began. Being so far away, it was impossible to see it, but he knew that it wrapped around the entire city, attempting to protect them all. From what, they never said. It could be the toxic waste left over from the wars. It could be wild people twisted from radiation. Jimin shook his head, willing himself back to the city. After all, there was no point in thinking about what was beyond. No one ever left.

The train arrived at Zone 3 station, and Jimin barely had to wait for Zone 4. The guard here was more friendly, although he was intrigued by someone from Zone 2 wanting to go to the ‘slums’. Jimin bit back a retort at the word, his newly obtained demerit feeling like a brand on his skin. He walked into another empty carriage and looked back to his home-zone.

Not for the first time, he wondered if he should bother going back.

Maybe he just needed to get out of his head.

The second train was always less interesting, as it didn’t travel as high, so the view remained a constant flood of buildings. It was a shorter ride, for which he was grateful, and he walked off the train.

Glancing up, he was met with a Hoseok’s beaming smile, and he raced over to hug him. “Jiminie! Just the man I was waiting for!” He ignored Jimin’s futile struggles and steered him toward the exit. As they passed through the station doors, Jimin glimpsed a small group of men. The group looked them both over, sizing up a possible target, and Jimin looked away slowly. If his gaze changed too quick, they’d know he had something to hide. Like money.

They walked quickly to the studio Hoseok worked in. They moment they arrived inside the mirrored room they both sighed in relief. Hoseok turned to Jimin, his eyes tired, but perhaps from more than a sleepless night. “Sorry, Jimin-ah… There’ve been a few groups hanging around the station… Following patrons… And… You know.” He rubs the back of his neck.

He hated that. His hyung looking embarrassed, like Jimin didn’t know what Zone 4 could be like. He hated that the school had treated him like he barely mattered, despite achieving the most out of anyone. Hated that it made Hoseok feel inferior. That he carries that feeling even to this day. No one should feel like that. Least of all him. Jimin immediately runs over and nearly bowls into him as he hugs him. His friend is startled, but Jimin continues anyway, “You know Hoseok-hyung… You can just say you couldn’t wait to hug me. You missed my cuddles, I understand, I won’t hold it against you.” Hoseok sputtered a little, and manoeuvred Jimin around, until he had him in a chokehold, and chuckled out, “And you should be grateful to have my affections at all, punk!”

Jimin may have whined loudly at the compromised position, but if it meant Hoseok would smile, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hoseok eventually let go and rolled his shoulders. “Alright, then. Let’s go through it. I won’t go easy, just because this is a favour.”

Jimin sighed. “I expected as much. Let’s just get to it, slave driver.”

Hoseok smiled that heart smile. And they began.

 

~~~

Convincing Hoseok to go to Zone 3 for ice cream was not as easy as it should have been. Jimin had given a lot of feedback, and Hoseok immediately wanted to begin modifications, trying to get Jimin to help. Under other circumstances, Jimin would be all for it, his workaholic perfectionism rearing its head. But this was a rare day of rest for Jimin, and he needed to enjoy it. They boarded the train without running into another group of would-be-muggers, when Hoseok turned to Jimin. “So… When are you going to tell them?”

Jimin shivered a little. “I-I haven’t found the right time.”

“You know, a right time may never come, Jimin. If you actually want to do this with me, then you need to make sure they know what’s coming.”

Jimin sighed. “I know, Hobi-hyung. I’ve already set aside more than enough to get the business up and running for you while you wait for my graduation. But we still don’t know how your application will be processed. Even with my word, I’m technically not that influential.”

Hoseok sighed and rubbed his back. “Jimin… As sad as it is, your last name alone holds more influence that most clans do in Zone 3. They find out who you are, and people jump at the opportunity to help you. Of course, you’ve got influence. You’ve just… I dunno. You were made to think that’s not true.”

Jimin grinds his teeth a little. “Hobi-hyung… You know that it’s not me. That saying I’m a Park is one thing… But I’m not Jihyun. I’m not important. Ignoring me isn’t like ignoring them. And people know that. Trust me.”

Hoseok sighs. “…Zone 2 sucks. But of self-righteous assholes.”

“Oh, is that why you like me so much?” Jimin grins at him, feeling his eyes close up.

“Don’t try to side-step it. You know it’s not fair. I’m not modified. Most in 4 aren’t. Why do 2 care so much?

Jimin’s smile fades into a mirthless smirk. “…At least my Zone change should process without issues. Zone 2 doesn’t really want a ‘natural’ polluting their midst. Might as well fix the situation for themselves.”

Hoseok curls his lip in annoyance at the idea, then hums. “Something tells me your application is the one in question, not mine.” Turning to him with a frown, Jimin looks at his hyung, not full comprehending. The sigh that leaves Hoseok’s lips speak volumes. “Even if you’re not some Zone 2 genetic Adonis, or whatever, you’re still Zone 2, which holds power over smaller fish in Zone 3. So, say you get profitable, then someone gets jealous of that. They might then accuse you of stealing business because of your zone-rank. That causes disruption amongst others. We all know how well Zone 1 loves disruption among the masses.”

Jimin frowns harder at that. “But I won’t have any Zone 2 qualifications, nor resources. That makes no sense.”

“Doesn’t really have to. The big wigs tend to snip things in the bud long before they may have become an issue.”

Jimin turns away at that. It certainly was a possibility he’d considered, but wording it that way, he could see the reality Hoseok had painted was more probable than he’d hoped. “I can still help. I’ll still be able to work. I just will have to travel. Besides, what would you do without me?”

He shrugs. “Try to find someone else who’s willing to jump two zones just to help me before 6:30.” He smiles at him, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.

Jimin looks down and pulls a leg up to rest his head upon it. He hums in thought. “…If I can convince my parents, maybe I can make sure we both get the place set up, with our applications approved. If they think I won’t bother them again, they probably will do it.” He pursed his lips thinking through logistics, until Hoseok light punched his arm. Jimin looked up, startled.

“Jimin… Don’t do that. Don’t let them treat you lesser. If they want to help, good for them. But don’t let them wash their hands. You deserve better.”

A nervous laugh bubbled up his throat before he could stop it. “Hoseok-hyu-”

“Promise me, Jiminie. Don’t let that happen. Don’t do that to yourself.”

Jimin paused, maybe for a moment too long, before whispering out, “Yes, hyung.”

Hoseok raised his brows.

Jimin gulped. “Yes, hyung”, still a whisper, but stronger than before, “I promise.”

The train pulled up at the station, and Hoseok looked relieved. “Good. I’ll remind you if you forget.” He took Jimin’s hand and pulled him up and they began walking to the ice cream parlour that Hoseok had wanted to try for weeks.

They began to bicker about who was really paying and how many scoops was acceptable, when the ground shook underneath them. The pedestrians on the street all stopped, a spooked look appearing on their faces. Jimin shook his head, trying to figure out if there had been a crash, or something to explain it, when another stronger tremble working through the street. That’s when people began to panic, running in a disorganised mob, trying to run from whatever was happening. Jimin pulled Hoseok towards the garden areas, not far from there. It would be safer than being near buildings, and surprisingly few people were attempting to flee that way.

The tremble continued to work its way through the streets, becoming stronger, causing many to lose their step and fall into the rippling ground. Jimin and Hoseok worked their way as fast as they could through the streets toward the entrance of the gardens. There were cars parked outside, that began to move in time with each shock, causing them to crash into each other, and into people attempting to run. Jimin thanked their lucky stars that the ice cream parlour was so close to the gardens, merely a block away, but even then, they barely manged to stumble onto the first walkway. As they fled towards a more open area, Jimin tripped and smacked his head on the concrete path. He moaned in pain, but the wound wasn’t enough to knock him unconscious. Hoseok yelped at the sudden loss of his friend’s hand, and knelt before him unsteadily, yet still helping him back up. “Why the hell are we feeling an earthquake! The city suspension is meant to deflect it.” Jimin was too dizzy to answer, even if he thought the same thing. He looked up, and saw a tree swaying ominously through the shockwaves, which just felt like they were getting stronger. He looked behind them, only for his heart to drop to his stomach.

Something… Jimin couldn’t wrap his head around what the something was. Like… a golem, made of some toxic sludge. It was shaped less like a solid thing, but more like an amalgomous shapeshifting heap of smoke. One moment is seemed squat, but at another moment it simply seemed like it had too many limbs. Jimin couldn’t wrap his mind on it but noted that it had broken a hole through the foundation of the ground and was still ripping through thick steel like it was paper. It hadn’t worked its body through the gaping wound in the soil completely, yet it was already big enough to eat four vans comfortably. Every movement it made cause another shudder to slam into the few people that had run to the gardens. As Jimin had just done, others who had looked back began to scream in terror, finally understanding the cause of the earthquake. The thing ignored the noise of the people, in favour of reaching out to everything with massive yet still too long fingers. Whenever it touched something, the sludge wrapped around it, even if it was a park bench, or a person. As the sludge did so, smoke began to rise in a violet cloud, looking like some old-world poisonous gas. That’s when he smelled it. Death, rot and decay. Jimin tried to scream, but as he did, he felt more than saw it look at him.

Eyes burned through his mind, not because of any true gaze. The eyes were made of nothing. A cold void. Yet the cold was sharp enough to dig into him. Like a splinter through his brain, the frozen dagger of those eyes bore into Jimin’s mind. He whimpered at the sensation, and Hoseok finally turned around. His scream tore through Jimin’s ears, causing him to close his eyes at the piercing wail. Suddenly the pressure on his mind was gone. He turned to Hoseok. “Don’t look into it’s eyes! Quick! We have to run!” Jimin hauled himself up, and they sprinted through the trees. A roar followed them, the creature displeased at them, before it finally hauled itself out of the hole, and began to follow the boys at a terrifying speed.

Jimin knew it was gaining, as the ground trembled more the closer it came. Yet the shaking didn’t match up with the sound of the creature moving. There was no audio trigger for each jerk of the earth beneath them. He began to wonder, briefly, if the creature was shaking the ground in another way, but such thoughts were pointless now. Especially when it raced in front of Hoseok and Jimin. They just manged to stop before the thing, which stood taller than some of the trees beside it.

Hoseok started gibbering besides him, now that they were unable to fight or flee. Jimin tried to watch its movements, rather than be tempted to look again. But it didn’t matter, Jimin still felt the cold pressure in his mind. Hoseok cried out, and Jimin was aware that his best friend was also feeling it. He struggled to look at his hyung, only to cry out when he saw a black sludge forming on his best friend’s eyes. He tried to bring him closer, attempting to shield him, when he felt the dagger in his mind pierce through his last defence. He felt the sludge ball up in his mind, like it was being spewed from a pipe. And with it, he felt the consciousness the monster.

Are you Tamer?

Jimin trembled, and tried to scream for help, but it was useless. His eyes were filling with the sludge, just like Hoseok’s. Soon, he’d be gone. He knew it. They would never be able to open their dance studio. He’d never learn to live for himself. He’d never see his brother. He’d never get his parents’ blessing.

All that he’d done, would be lost.

Just as the last of his mind was filled, he felt a surge of intense heat through the air, and immediately the sludge drained from his mind. Jimin sucked a gulp of air, his lungs burning as though he were drowning. He fell to his knees, dragging Hoseok with him. As he slowly caught his breath, he checked Hoseok. The sludge was gone from him too, and while he was unconscious, he was breathing. Jimin slowly looked up, trying not to let the dizziness stop him from seeing what saved them.

He took in two forms. One a man, probably around his height, hanging behind another man. Or creature. It certainly looked human, but the fire dancing over him was inhuman, and was lit up to an intense blue. He seemed to have… a tail? Horns? Or were they strange ears? The form flickered in front of him. Either way, it used its fire to burn away large sections of the monster. The metallic screech of the creature was the only indication Jimin needed to know that these people were winning.

Even though Jimin wanted to see it dead, he could feel himself slipping into the oblivion of sleep. It wouldn’t hurt anymore to sleep. And he wouldn’t need to be scared. But he couldn’t. He had to thank them. They’d saved him, and he had no idea who or what they were.

As the fire melted the last part of the creature, Jimin finally collapsed. Just in time to hear a deep voice, and a warm hand on his cheek.

“You were very brave, human… Sleep. We’ll take care of you.”

Jimin smiled, his eyes fluttering shut, even though they were already unseeing. He drifted to the sound of a man speaking out, “Tamer Suga and Beast V reporting two affected zone-dwellers. Requesting extraction.”

Chapter Text

It was the beeping in his ear that greeted Jimin as he woke. That and the feeling of all his limbs being weighed down. Even his face had a large mask on, keeping him from seeing anything more than the tubes wiring from it. The mask was connected to a plastic bit in his mouth which sat unmoving no matter what he did. His first instinct was to panic, and he felt tears well in his eyes by just thinking the word. A small whine left his throat, but he forced himself to calm down, and take in what he could.

“I wondered if you were awake.”

He trembled, looking around as much as he could, searching for the source of the unfamiliar voice. He tried to move his neck, only to find a brace keeping it still. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to quash the panic. It would do him no good.

“I know you’re scared, but you have to trust that I mean you no harm. We had to immobilise you to keep you from hurting yourself. But now that you’re awake, I can start to take them off.”

Jimin shivered again but stopped all movements. Co-operation. He could do that until he could be certain that he was safe. He couldn’t respond, either way, so the person must have taken his stillness as an affirmation. Hands entered Jimin’s field of vision, and he tried not to flinch, if only to convince the person to continue. “I’m going to take off the mask, so you can see properly, okay?” He didn’t wait for a response, and deftly worked at undoing the different clasps and bands, before he finally pulled it and the bit out. Jimin sighed, already calmer without an effective gag. With its removal, Jimin looked at the room.

A hospital room with no windows. Sterile and colourless. There wasn’t even a chair for a guest. Just machines beeping in an asynchronous chorus. It almost looked like a dingy office, aside from the hygiene. Or a holding cell. Distracting himself from that, he looked at the man in front of him. A taller man, with plump lips, strong facial features and warm eyes. His hair was black, and just long enough to fall partially on his forehead, further emphasising the lines of his face. The man smiled gently, and Jimin relaxed more.

“I bet that already feels better. I am sorry you had to wake to that but removing before you’re fully conscious can be dangerous for you. And trust me, I’ll explain everything once I’ve removed the restraints.”

Jimin coughed a little, unable to quite speak, and becoming more aware of his incredibly dry throat. The man brought over a cup of water with a straw, and Jimin drank greedily until the cup was empty. He sighed in frustration, needing more, and the man laughed in response.

“There’s more for you later, but I don’t need to water and feed you.” The man got to work on the restraints, beginning from the neck and working his way down. Jimin was able to look down and watch the progress, and first a weighted pad was taken off his arm, then a strap to the bed, then the same to his chest. The fingers were particularly fiddly, as there were connections to every joint on his body, and Jimin felt as though something similar was placed on his feet, hence the lack of movement in his toes. Halfway though the removal, the man smiled gently. “You know, I’ve heard that waking with these on can simulate having sleep paralysis. It’s why many having an intense reaction to waking.”

“Have many had to wake like this?”

The man smiled, seeming grateful that Jimin didn’t ask why he was in the suit. “Not many, but enough people that a trend was noted by my colleagues.” He finished off the restraints around most of his legs, and Jimin sat up slowly, trying to stretch. The man looked up and smiled. “Looks like your movement is fine. There weren’t any injuries on your person, but reactions do vary somewhat.”

Jimin hummed. “I don’t feel unwell, if that’s what you mean.”

The man laughed in response. “It seems that way.” He rid Jimin of the last restraints, along with some sensors and wires to the machines. He walked over and turned a few off, before mock-wiping dust from his hands. “And that’s that. Pleasure to meet you, my name is Dr Kim Seokjin.”

He nods and holds out his hand. “Park Jimin. It’s nice to meet you, Dr Kim.”

He smiles. “Please, call me Jin. We’ll be meeting often enough, and I prefer to have a closer relationship with my charges.”

Jimin tilts his head. “Charges?”

Jin sighs. “Before we get to that, I need you to tell me everything you remember.”

Jimin frowns, recounting everything from the day, walking through his memories until he remembered… That horrible creature. The two men that came to their aid. Their? Wait…

“Hoseok! Where is Hoseok?” Jimin attempted to stand up, but Jin immediately put his hands on his shoulders to hold him down.

“He’s fine, but asleep, like you were. There’re no injuries to him, just like you. Fortunately. You need to tell me what you remember, Jimin.”

He shivers but stays down. Co-operation, Jimin. He attempts to wet his lips, before rasping out, “I was in Zone 3 with my friend Jung Hoseok, and we were eating ice cream. Or about to. There was an earthquake, and we ran to the gardens. Then this… thing… It came for us. It felt like it was in my head. I know that sounds impossible but… It was crawling around inside there, when two people came. Then the feeling went away. I think that one of them had a flame-thrower, or something. I was… pretty out of it by that point.”

Jin listens. Jimin didn’t notice him pull out a notepad, but Jin had been scribbling something in it. “It seems like you remember nearly everything that happened. That’s good, it means that you have a stronger resistance to them.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows. “And what are they?”

Jin hums in thought. “I could tell you, but it’s not really my jurisdiction. I don’t have all the facts, and so I don’t want to confuse you later. I can however tell you what happened to you in the meantime.” Jin notices Jimin raising his eyebrows at that, and he chuckles a little. “Yes, we’re waiting for another person to arrive. When you woke up, your bracelet sent out an alert for someone to come and explain the attack. They will be on their way. So, while you’re waiting, shall I explain why you needed the suit?” Jimin nodded, eager for answers. Jin smiles at his response and continues. “Those creatures that attacked you has… an area of effect condition. It essentially releases spores to people around it. Most people, when met with the spores, have no specific side-effects. Fortunately, the spores wash out of your system within 24 hours. There can be side-effects for those who are more resistant to the invading particles. The most common reaction is that the spores cumulate around the brain, in an attempt to block your senses while it does… What it does. Sorry, that’s not my jurisdiction. Anyway, that was the feeling in your head that you mentioned.”

Jimin interrupts, “What about the eyes? Like… sludge? Around the eyes?”

The pause from Jin doesn’t exactly relieve Jimin. “On the eyes? Well… If you saw that, there must have been a severe reaction, and means the spores recognised you as a host and was trying to hold your body down and keep you immobile. It’s very rare, but it always results in death. Did you think it was happening to you?”

Jimin stares at him. “It…. It was… Hoseok… He had…” Jimin stares into the wall, lost in thought. All that he could see was the creeping blackness running down his friend’s irises. Hoseok had barely registered the creature when the darkness took him.

“But… does that mean that Hobi isn’t… Hobi anymore?”

“He wouldn’t be if we hadn’t saved you both. Don’t worry, though, you’re bot-”

Jimin tunes out the doctor’s voice, panic gripping his heart. If Jin was telling the truth, then not only had they been lucky to be saved but had been lucky to even walk away after the encounter. Jimin didn’t realise that he’d begun to tremble, nor did he react when Jin walked over and gently shook him, trying to receive a response from the catatonic Jimin. But how could he block out that realisation? Had he really been watching his only friend dying, or experiencing something worse that death? Had he really been so helpless that he couldn’t protect him? If there was so much information on their creatures, why were there no procedures in place to protect people? Why did he have to be here? Why was he not with Hoseok? His friend would be so worried, and Hoseok scared so easily. He was too good a friend for scum like Jimin, and even now, there was nothing Jimin could do that could repay his hyung. He wasn’t there for him. He shouldn’t be here at all. In person. In spirit? Why had he even been born, if this was all he amounted to. Jimin felt the panic clawing up his throat, before he felt it.

A gentle warmth in his fingers. It spreads through his body, like unfurling ferns, that caress his aching joints, and dive into his heart. He feels like he’s sitting on the beach with a cold drink on a balmy day. But, wait… He doesn’t know what beaches feel like, right? It feels like drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace with a snowstorm outside. But… he doesn’t know that either. Despite his mind wandering, the feelings of peace and warmth remain, and the fears melt away. His eyes refocus.

And he jumps back.

The man in front of him is ethereal in his beauty. A sensitive mouth was pulled into a surprisingly box-shaped smile. His eyes were a startling amber colour, certainly not Seoul eyes, and were framed by expressive eyebrows. He had a mop of silvery-grey hair and it fell around his angular face. Most importantly were the lines on his face. Stripes. Like a cat. The colour was a dark but nearly glowing orange. They dusted over his skin like a henna tattoo but looked almost like they moved under his skin. The tiniest tongue of flame dancing in tandem with the stripes. It was hypnotising and alien.

Jimin watched him with wide eyes. “Who the hell are you?”

The man purses his lips, the smile falling from his face, and he stands up. He looks back at Jin and another man, before turning around and going to the second man in the room.

Jin sighs in relief. “You know, I told you that your friend is fine. I’m meant to be treating you, and not you treating me to a heart-attack!” He huffs his frustration before standing. He gestures to the men, “This is Beast Five. He’s a sweet one, but don’t speak, and only their tamer can communicate with them. Isn’t that right, Suga?” Jimin didn’t miss the undertone to Jin’s words. Almost as though this Suga would disagree.

The unknown man, no Suga, steps forward. “So… Looks like we meet again, Mr Park.”

Jimin frowns. “Again?”

“You don’t remember? I suppose that’s common to forget, but-“

“No, he remembers,” interrupts Jin, “He probably just didn’t get a look at your scrawny face.”

Suga pouts at Jin, “You do like ruining my fun, don’t you?” Jin grins in response, and Suga just sighs. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t play with the newbies… My name is Min Yoongi, better known as Tamer Suga, or just Suga. I don’t particularly care what you call me in person. On the radio however, I’m Tamer Suga.”

Jimin nods. “Right… Yoongi… So, why would I know you?”

The creature behind Yoongi beamed at Jimin, and tugged Yoongi’s sleeve. Yoongi brushed him off and said, “We’re the one’s who saved you. The Pair on patrol. V wanted to be here to make sure you both were okay. You had severe reactions to the Parasite.”

Jimin tilts his head. V? Wasn’t it called Five? “What’s a Parasite? Aside from the normal definition.”

Jin looks at Yoongi. “You know, you’re meant to call him Five.”

“He prefers V.”

“Suga…”

“Seokjin…”

Jimin and… V? watch the interaction. He’s still curious, but he can tell by their lax attitudes that there isn’t an imminent threat, at least.

Yoongi clears his throat. “Anyway, a Parasite is the creature you saw. They feed off on bio energy, as well as other forms of energy, and bring it back to their… originator. At least that’s where we’ve theorised to go. The spores they release are what collect that energy, by latching on to human tissue. Parasites can only harvest this energy by physically touching an infected person, which rips all the spores out, where they return to the Parasite. A successful harvest can cause not only injury, and sometimes death, but also mutations that make survivors.… Less than human. If we kill the Parasite before the harvest occurs, then the spores won’t activate in that way.”

Jimin feels like he should panic, but the warmth in his veins thrums pleasantly, and he finds that he stays calm. “So why did I wake up bound to the bed? If it naturally wears out without activating, surely there shouldn’t be any reason for restraints, right?

Yoongi nods. “If the spores create a negative reaction in the infected person, it can cause far more damage to the person than if left alone. So, we flush them out, same as we did to you and your friend.”

Jin nods. “The extraction process is incredibly painful, and can trigger mild mutation, but not death. Patients tend to have violent compulsions during the process, injuring themselves from it. Some have tried to claw at themselves, or injure themselves, an attempt to relieve pressure. Others have bitten off their tongue and bled to death.” Jimin flinches. “The point,” Jin continues, “is that it’s why you wear the restraints, so you can’t hurt yourself. It’s unpleasant, but it’s still much safer than allowing the spores to fester. I was just transferred to this case and hadn’t been able to read your notes before you woke. I didn’t realise your friend had a severe reaction, and I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“They both did,” Yoongi turns to Jin, “and they both would have been assimilated if we didn’t arrive exactly when we did.” He looks back at Jimin. “If the spores can’t gain energy from you, which they can’t if you have a reaction like you both did, it takes over your body completely. It makes you one of them. Hence, we had to kill that Parasite, and get those spores out of you quickly.”

Jimin nods, “Jin was explaining that to me when you both arrived.”

“Is that why he was panicking, Jin? You’re terrible at explaining all this shit.” Jin looks at him, offended. Jimin, too, looks at the man in front of him, observing his sharp cat-eyes and his mint hair. Yoongi looks back inquisitively, waiting for Jimin’s response.

Wetting his lips, he merely says, “So… Did I… and Hoseok… Did we mutate?”

Jin looks sad. “Given you had a severe reaction, the chances are very high. I haven’t yet had a full inspection, but I’d say that you were affected, Jimin. Unless you’re a Korean with naturally blue eyes.”

Jimin sits straighter at that, confused. “B-blue?”

V at that moment stands and find a mirror in a small drawer beside the bed. He holds it out to him, smiling.

Jimin blinks. “Oh… Thank you, V.”

V pauses then giggles, his voice, much lower that Jimin was expecting, but full of gentle mirth. Yoongi looks at Jimin, boring holes through him with his eyes.

“Uh, Jimin,” Jin warily speaks up. “He’s Five. Trust me, you don’t want anyone hearing you call him anything other than his number.”

“If it’s a number, then it’s not a name… Right?”

Jin wilts at his comment. “Just… Five. For all of your sakes.”

Jimin pouts at that and looks in the mirror. Only to drop it in shock. Because that sure as hell is not him in the reflection. Not with blonde hair and blue eyes. His lips had become pinker, almost girlish, and somehow plumper than before. While the puppy fat he’d always carried had burned away, his face had still taken on a softness, aside from his jawline, which had sharpened out. If anything, he looked more androgynous than before. Still definitely a man, but with a conflicting duality of masculine features and feminine beauty. He looked like himself… But not. Like someone who was wearing his own face wrong. Not that it was horrifying. Just not him.

The mirror clutters to the floor, but given the plastic composition, no glass scatters at their feet. Perhaps Jimin’s reaction wasn’t completely foreign to the people in the room, as no-one bats an eye at the sound. V however retrieves the mirror and smiles at him.

He rubs at his hands nervously, then looks at them, feeling like even they looked different. How much else was different? There were tests? What would that entail? His mind kept spinning. Though the warmth lingered in his veins, his mind still worked through all the problems this could cause-

“Jimin, it’s okay. Trust me. I’ve been in your shoes. You’re going to be fine.”

His head snaps up, eyes staring at Yoongi. The man shrugs his shoulders, and looks away, a hand coming to touch his ears. V looks at the tamer, a soft look in his eyes, and he puts his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. He looks up at the beast and smiles gently before turning back to Jimin. “Tamers… That’s what they call us. People who had a reaction to the spores. We’re now immune. Unfortunately, we’re not completely human either. Not fully.” He turns towards V. “But we are more human than creatures like V.”

“Then… what is V- …Five?” Jimin whispers, his voice feeling coarser as the conversation goes on. Jin notices and proceeds to bring out water, and a small loaf of bread for him.

“Suga, you may want to make it quick. He needs rest. And this is a lot to proce-” A muffled scream sounds out from the hall, surprisingly loud, given the bit that must be in their mouth. Jin snaps to attention and straightens up. “Shit, he’s awake! I’ll be back!” He runs out of the room, down the hall.

Yoongi watches him leave, looking tired. “Great. If I’d just waited a bit more, I could have explained this to both of you at the same time.” He stands up and looks at Jimin. “V is a Beast… They’re complicated, and all different. We have eleven at this facility. V is Number five. I’ll explain more, but I’m sure you understand why I need to leave.”

Jimin attempts to stand, only to fall immediately back to the bed. V wrings his hands, seeming nervous. Despite being something inhuman, he certainly acted like one. Jimin purses his lips in thought. “I need to go to him. Hoseok will just be more nervous if I’m not there when he asks for me.”

“Normally, I’d agree. But trust me. He needs the run-down first. You don’t look like yourself, and neither does he, probably. You’ll just make him panic more.”

Jimin’s shoulders slump, finding the logic undeniable. Yoongi sighs and looks at V. “Keep an eye on him, will ya?” V smiles and taps his lips. After a short pause, Yoongi responds, “Only until I get back. Then it’s back to the normal rules. And if you hear Jin coming, stop.” V grins that boxy smile, and goes to sit beside Jimin in bed, while Yoongi walks out.

Jimin glances at V, unsure. On the one hand, the beast doesn’t seem dangerous. He doesn’t even seem that inhuman, despite his astonishingly handsome face, and strange tiger marks. He hums, considering whether to speak to the creature. He knew that V -Five- understood. Maybe he could talk out his emotions, while he was deprived of Hoseok. He deliberated it before finally saying, “So, I suppose you’ve had to sit through a few of these debriefings before.”

V smiles. “Never.”

Jimin flinches again, covering his face like his deep baritone could hurt him. “You speak? Why didn’t you speak before?”

V hums. “Weird human reason. I’m only allowed to talk to my Suga.”

Jimin blinks, then smirks. “Yours?”

V nods enthusiastically. “Mine. My tamer. Very special. Beasts can only have one.” He flops down on the bed and sighs. “I’ve never talked to another tamer… I like it.”

Thoughts spinning, he lies back on the bed, with his legs off the side. “Then why are you talking to me at all?”

V hums in thought. “…You’re special. I can tell.”

He looks at him, the feelings of insecurity rearing their head again. Jimin sure as hell wasn’t special. Just… the accident. Always. Even being in the room with a talking beast was an accident. “Sure. I think you’re all just saying that. But it won’t matter much when I get home. I’ll just… be more of a mistake than normal.”

Jimin hears a small huff, before V suddenly turns and pins him to the bed, his arms framing Jimin’s face. The motion sends that fire burning through his body, but this time it’s not as comforting, and it’s too hot. He gapes up at V, watching his eyes change from amber to a glowing orange as the beast grins down at him. “Don’t say that. You’re special. Not a mistake. You smell like the sky. Suga smells like fire. Most tamers smell like metal. Like technology. Boring creatures. Not you. Not him. Special.” He nuzzles the space at Jimin’s neck, causing him to cry out in shock. His neck feels like there are embers on his skin, or like he’s put his hand into the bonfire for a fraction too long. He thought that maybe he was over-reacting to the position V had him in, but he could tell that the beast was actually offended. The fire had gone from warmth to threat so quickly, that Jimin nearly thought he’d imagined it ever being comforting. He whimpers in fear, which causes the beast to chuckle, no happiness in his voice, before he then pulls back. “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you. I like you too much. So no more saying you’re a mistake. Not being like the metal Tamers is good.” Jimin stares at him, in shock, unmoving. Satisfied, he nods down at the blond, before his expression turns steely again. “A heads up: if you ever do anything that might hurt Suga… Anything at all. I’ll burn you alive. Even if I get punished. Even if he doesn’t want me to. No-one hurts my tamer.”

He stands suddenly and walks to the other side of the room, and puts his ear on the wall. Jimin, meanwhile, struggles to regain his breath, and force his heartbeat to stabilise. Jin had already disconnected him from the machines, so neither of them would hear the spike in his heartrate anyway. Just perfect. The doctor and tamer left him alone with a mercurial creature. But Yoongi did tell V to take care of Jimin, so maybe V wouldn’t hurt him. Right?

V hummed. “It seems your friend is panicking more than you. He’s asking less questions.” He pauses. “Jin is right. You shouldn’t call me V. I like how you say it, though. Soft, like you. But the white coats don’t like when we’re more than a number.”

Jimin was confused at how the beast jumped between thoughts, and he struggled to compile his own in return. “So, Hoseok is panicking?”

V shrugs. “Probably. You did.”

“I thought my best friend was dead. Excuse me for panicking.”

V looks at him, smirking. “You’re excused.”

Jimin huffs and lies down. “What happens when I leave this room?”

“I don’t know. I’m not a tamer.”

“Fine. How did you get here?”

V doesn’t answer, but the blank look in his eyes tells Jimin a lot. He regrets the question immediately as V walks to the other wall and slumps down onto the floor, not looking at Jimin. The beast fiddles with the seam of his pants, lost in his own thoughts, so Jimin leaves him to it.

After all, there was a lot to take in. Being attacked by a Parasite was one thing, but then being saved by two strange people. Learning about mutations and gleaning about some facility. He wondered how long it would take to be discharged, and if it meant coming back to this closed off room. He sighs and turns to V.

“Sorry. You probably didn’t need to be reminded. Just like I wouldn’t want you to remind me of what happened yesterday. I think you just scared me, a bit.”

V looks up at him, and smiles gently. “Yes… It’s okay. I’m trapped here too.”

Jimin blinks. “Too?”

At that moment, three people burst in. A flustered Jin, who can’t believe that this new patient is walking at all; a frustrated Yoongi, who gives V a strong look, like he knew what he had done; and Hobi.

Well, kind of Hobi. He had bright-red hair. His features were sharper, more defined, and his skin had smoothed over to like it was made of porcelain. He had always been handsome, but now he was stunning.

Hoseok frowns. “Who dyed your hair, Minnie?”

Yoongi puts a hand over his face and sighs.

Chapter Text

While Hoseok fussed over Jimin, both admiring and whining over their new features, Suga and V left. Jin seemed immensely relieved and brought out more food and drink for them. Jimin smiled at him, grateful. “So, what next for us? How long until we can go home?”

Jin pauses and sighs. “Look, boys. You’ve already had a lot of hard news today. Are you sure you want more?”

Hoseok looks at him, his gaze level. “Of course. Although, I think we both already know.”

Jimin grits his teeth and glares at Hobi. “We don’t know…”

Hoseok glances his way and leans on his arm. “We’re not leaving here. I’ve never heard of Parasites. I’ve never seen someone with mutations. And no-one has coloured hair, unless you’re a model from Zone 2. Jimin could pass, if someone would hire him. Me? Not a chance. Which means that mutations don’t go home.”

Jin looks between them and nods slowly. “Jimin… Hoseok is right. Besides, both of you know too much about the creatures. Zone 1 doesn’t want panic, and if you spread any information on creatures that can mutate someone or kill them?” Jin shakes his head. “The only way you get out is if your family wants you out. Wants you out so bad that they pay an exorbitant amount of money. Even Zone 2 struggles with that much money.”

Jimin is silent, even as Hoseok talks back to Jin. “So, what are we going to do?”

Jin smiles gently. “You become a tamer. Like Yoongi.”

Jimin frowns. “Do we get our own Beasts?”

Jin pauses and coughs a little. “Well… Um. No. Not necessarily. You see, there are far more Tamers than Beasts. About five to one. The academy will teach you what to do, even without one.”

Hoseok and Jin continue to talk, but Jimin becomes less and less aware of the flow of conversation. Honestly, he’s just exhausted, and needs to actually sit down and figure out what he’s going to do with his life now. Become a Tamer? As if. Jimin only ever had one real dream, and that was to dance. If he was stripped of that, what was he? A Park? No, his family would never attempt to buy his freedom. He’d dedicated everything to those two things. Could he even be a person without them?

Jimin noticed that when V left, so did the comforting warmth in his body. It alarmed him how easily the Beast could influence others, but still preferred that warmth over the biting anxiety. Thoughts swirling though him. Would he ever see his family? Jihyun? He didn’t deserve to lose his big brother like that.

Hoseok suddenly places his hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “Thank you for being so open, Jin-hyung. I think Jiminie and I need to rest. Can I stay here with him? I’m not a huge fan of hospitals…”

Jin smiles warmly. “Of course. If you need anything, no matter when, just hit the call button!” He walks out and closes the door. Jimin swears that he hears it lock. And as it does, Jimin begins to bawl.

It’s not a simple cry, one which is tears and that’s it. This makes his face turn a blotchy red, and his eyes swell. Snots runs down his face, as he ugly cries. Hoseok is quick to pull him close. “Oh, Jiminie. We’re going to be okay. Your Hobi-hyung is right here with you. So, you need to stop crying, or I will too, ya know?”

He hiccups out another sob. “I’m sorry, hyung. I just… I wanted to… d-dance with y-you… So b-bad.” He sobs harder and pulls Hoseok into a close hug. Jimin, despite his own cries, feels the moment where Hoseok’s walls break. Without a moment more passing, his hyung’s arms encircle him, and Hoseok grips Jimin tight, before crying into his shoulder. They’d spent years perfecting their craft. Taught so many, and worked until their feet bled, and their muscles were useless from overuse. Years. Gone in less than a day. Jimin slowly lay them both down in the bed, so they could weep and cuddle in peace. The only solace was that Jin and Suga weren’t there for this. Or, god forbid, V. He didn’t want to find out whether the creature would find them amusing or pathetic. Sure, perhaps V wasn’t actually bad, but Jimin wasn’t going to take chances.

They continued to hold each other tight, even as their sobs became sniffles, then moody silence. After a long time, Hoseok whispered. “We should sleep. While we can.”

Jimin frowns. “Do you… think that they will treat us well? If we were fully human, that would be one thing. Sadly, we’re not anymore.”

Hoseok nods. “I feel like Jin is not an accurate representation of what the academy will be like. He’s too nice.”

Jimin nods. “… I don’t know what to make of them.”

“Who, Jin? Or the dubious duo?”

Jimin giggles wetly, still not quite over his intense crying. “The two. I feel like they mean us well… But…”

“You also feel like they might stab you in your sleep?”

Jimin shakes his head. “More like… I know they will be open and honest with me. More that I wonder what constitutes as a slight to them. How much more will we have to learn about them before we can consider them trustworthy. And even then, will we ever be told anything of use to us?”

Hobi doesn’t respond. They both know there’s nothing to say.

Jimin closes his eyes. “Let’s sleep, hyung. We have… a lot to do when we wake.”

Hoseok smiles, and Jimin can sense it without looking. His hyung just naturally sending out something positive into the world. “Good night, Jimin. We’ll figure this out together. Promise?”

“Promise.”

 

~~~

It’s different. For the first time in months, the dream is different.

Jimin finds himself in a meadow, but unlike the gardens of the zones, this is wild and tangled. The wildflowers are like a pastel rainbow scattered at his feet, with long grass swaying around him like a sea. The field smells so sweet, that he can almost taste it on his tongue. He looks beyond the grass to the forest beyond. The trees are gnarled and twisting into each other, yet from them, Jimin can hear the twittering of birds, as all the multitudes of them sing out a cluttered harmony. A warm spring breeze flows through his clothes, and he looks down to see that he’s wearing a white cotton garb. Not quite a tunic, but certainly nothing he’d ever seen in the Zones.

He smiles and lies back down, never having felt so… Serene.

“I thought I was alone.”

Jimin gasps and jerks into a sitting position. He looks around for the voice, only to find a man string at him. He tries to look at him properly, but the image is slipping in his head. He sees blue eyes, yes. He sees chocolate brown hair. The eyes are large and a gorgeous almond shape. Everything else… He can’t quite parse out. The man however smiles gently. “Are you alright?”

Jimin blinks and smiles back, his eyes screwing up in the process. “Yeah. I’m great. Who wouldn’t be when they’re in this place? It’s beautiful!”

The man hums in agreement. “What’s your name?”

“Jimin. You?”

He smiles. “Jeongguk. You’re not from here, are you?”

Jimin hums. “Where is here?”

The smile Jimin receives is endearing and childlike. “If you have to ask, then you aren’t from here. This is… my family meadow.”

“You own a meadow? You must be rich! This kind of land is worth a fortune, right?”

“Rich? You mean… money?”

“Yeah, money.”

Jeongguk just nods, looking tired. “No, I don’t have that. I’m not like your kind. They take what doesn’t belong to them, and pretend it is.”

He shrinks back at that. “Oh, I’m sorry… I didn’t… I didn’t realise. If I’d known that I was trespassing.”

Jeongguk gasps and goes to Jimin. “No, don’t leave, please. I want you here.”

Jimin, who was in the process of standing, sits back down. “Okay... I’ll stay.”

The man beams and moves closer. “I… I want to be your friend. Can we?”

The thought is certainly a welcome one. Jimin really did love to make friends, even if most people were atrocious. But this Jeongguk just felt… Right. Easy. Like breathing. Jimin grinned and nodded, beckoning him closer.

The man giggled and rushed forward, pushing Jimin back onto the grass as he held him tight. “Thank you, Jimin. I promise I’ll make you happy. I’ll take care of you. You’ll see.”

Jimin smiled and stroked his hair gently, watching as tiny sparks lifted from him, and caress his fingers gently. He giggled at the feeling and held Jeongguk tighter. “This is a nice dream…”

Jeongguk just slightly tenses at that before sighed and nuzzling into Jimin more.

“…You’ll see, hyung.”

 

~~~

As Jimin woke, he noted that he was well rested. More rested than he’d ever been before. He thought back to his dream, finding he could remember almost everything, the meadow having seemed so real that he swore he could still smell it. But Jeongguk… Aside from his name, he couldn’t really remember him. His mind seemed to slip away, and it frustrated him to no end. He sighed and looked at Hoseok, who was still sleeping peacefully.

There wasn’t any way to tell time here, and he had no indication of whether anyone else had possibly come while they were asleep. He only knew they must have slept long, because his eyes were no longer puffy, and neither were Hoseok’s. Jimin slowly sat up, attempting to let his hyung sleep in peace. Hoseok, of course, had other plans. He clung to Jimin in his sleep, and whined as Jimin moved, before blearily opening his eyes. “No… Sleep… Still tired…”

Jimin smiled and ruffled his hair. “Hyung, we should get up. Face the music and all that.”

Hoseok just pouted harder, but he let Jimin go. Normally their situations would have been reversed, with Hobi being bright and cheery, but Jimin just felt… Energised. Experimentally, Jimin swung his legs out over the side of the bed, pleased that he wasn’t feeling as weak. He placed his feet on the cold, tile floor and stood.

He grinned. Victory.

If anything, he felt stronger than normal. Like he could go for a run, and he didn’t do running unless absolutely essential. He walked over to where Jin had put the water, his steps sure. If anything, he was a bit too strong, as the glass shattered in his grip the moment he picked it up. He winced, and looked over at his… blood…

Was that a spark that came out?

Before he could react, he heard Hoseok gasp and run over. “Jimin! Don’t hurt yourself okay? We’ll get this cleaned up!” Ever the attentive hyung, and dutifully attempted to take Jimin away from the area, before trying to find something to clean the mess with. Jimin mutely nodded, before looking back at his hand. No sparks. He must be hallucinating. That wasn’t a comforting thought, but it was considering the alternative.

At that moment, a trio of familiar people entered. Jin blanched at the sight of glass everywhere, and rushes forward to check Hoseok and Jimin. “What happened? Did you step on it? Drop it?”

Hoseok shakes his head. “He must have gripped too hard.”

Jin hums and looks at Jimin’s hands. “A slight scratch… I’ll treat it now, but you should be more careful.” He pulled open a drawer with a few basic bandages and gauzes. Fortunately, it was a small scratch, since Jimin wouldn’t want to get stitches. Jin smiles as he cleans up, “I was just coming to see if you’d gotten your strength back. But first, we should clean the room up.”

Suga moves forward, crunching on some glass, before looking in a cupboard. “We’re in luck. Dustpan right here. I’ll get it Jin. Sooner you’re done, sooner we can leave.”

Jin smiles, nodding. “Shall we start some basic strength exercises?” He takes Jimin’s hand without waiting for the answer. “Alright, give my hand a squeeze.” Jimin just nodded in response, trying to utilise as much hand muscle as possible.

His efforts were met with Jin’s piercing scream, and he rips his hand away while he can. The doctor nurses his hand. “Oh, god, I thought you were about to break my hand. How the hell are you that strong?”

Jimin blinks in shock and steps back. Suga, however, anticipates Jimin’s panic. “V, do the exercises with Jimin. You’re stronger than Jin and I.”

Jin winces. “That won’t be an accurate representation of how strong he is.” Suga snorts. “Actually, it will be perfect. V will let you know if it’s stronger than most Tamers.” V nods and does a thumbs up. “If he’s about average?” V flattens out his hand and shakes it, like it’s a balanced scale. “And if he’s on the weak side?” A definite thumbs down. Jin stares for a second and rolls his eyes. “Fine. But if he’s much stronger than normal, we’ll still need to do the tests with a proper machine.”

Suga snorts. “Then why didn’t you bring one?”

“It’s at the gym. What do you expect me to do, go all the way over there and bring a huge machine here into this tiny room? Do you think that me, a normal human with no mutations could do that? You’ve gotten really damn cheeky ever since Five started following you everywhere. Beast or no Beast, I can still give you a piece of my mind, Yoongi!”

V waved a hand in front of Jin’s face, and the doctor flinched, not expecting it. The Beast just smiled and pointed at Jimin and Hoseok, both of whom were laughing at Suga’s pouting expression. Jin cleared his throat and straightened his coat. “Right… Onto the test.”

Jimin didn’t really want to touch V… Five… There were too many names to keep on top of. He offered his hand to him and nodded. Five smirked and took it, then nodded. Jimin squeezed with all his might.

He may as well have been squeezing rock. Nonetheless, Five did a thumbs up to Jin.

Jin began to order various other exercises to test how Jimin was settling into his body. And all of them resulted in a thumbs up from Five. Jin sighed. “And here I thought the mutation left you weak. Maybe you still had a bit more toxicity in your bloodstream.”

Jimin just shrugged, before Five tapped his hand. He turned to look at the Beast, who tapped his nose and mouthed ‘Sky’. No one noticed. Well… Suga noticed. But Jimin figured he’d keep that quiet.

Hoseok went up next, ready to prove he was exceptional. Or hoping to. And he was correct. One particular arm movement caused V to slight shift himself to stay balanced. Meaning he was using effort. Jin gaped. Suga raised his brows.

“Did you just… Move him?”

“I mean,” Hoseok pondered, “he is super strong, but I feel like if I went much harder, then I’d be wrestling with him and I may hurt someone.”

Suga’s jaw dropped. “…Hoseok… Try to shove him away from you.”

He blinks and nods. He takes V’s hands, takes a deep breath, before he leans in to shove him away, using every bit of force in his body. And V actually stumbles back a solitary step. Hoseok hums, obviously disappointed. “Okay, I was wrong. He is definitely stronger than me.”

V laughs at that and beams at Suga, showing two thumbs up. He then looks at Jimin… And touches his nose.

Jimin just nodded in understanding.

Jin writes it down in his notebook, frenzied, and absorbed in the recent discovery. Suga hums and looks at Jimin. “Do the same kid. I feel like you weren’t going for it. Try to shove him away.”

Jimin sighs. “Do I have to? I’ll already be doing the exercises again with machines…”

Suga just nods. Maybe he already knows how unsettled he is with… Five. He walks over, trying not to drag his feet, and he takes his hands. Five smiles and waits for Jimin to push. Jimin does. He doesn’t put in a huge amount of effort, since he’s essentially trying to shove a stone wall. Suga frowns. “I know you’re not trying, Jimin. Again. With feeling.” Jimin does harder now, but still nothing.

He huffs, “This is stupid. He’s way stronger than me.”

“You’re just not trying hard enough, I can tell. Come on, kid, move him.”

Jimin tries one more time, and feels him give the tiniest fraction, but still nothing. He groans. “Come on, I get it, Hobi-hyung and I are strong. Can we do the next step?”

“…V, give him some motivation. Something you’ll follow through.”

V deliberates. Jin sighs. “Jimin’s right, Suga, this isn’t really worth it. Besides, you’ll get in trouble if V hurts a Tamer.”

Jimin doesn’t catch Suga’s response, because V leans towards him and whispers cold words into his ear. “If you don’t play along, I’ll break all the bones in your dancer friend’s legs.”

Jimin doesn’t respond at first, and V looks disappointed that his threat didn’t have the desired effect. But when he looks at Hoseok and gives a toothy grin at him, Jimin sees red. With a nearly inhuman snarl, Jimin shoves V back.

The Beast yelps and tumbles to the floor, and Jimin follows, grabbing the front of the Beast’s shirt. “Say that again! I dare you! I will wipe that smug fucking grin right off your face!”

V then manoeuvres them so he’s pinning Jimin down, muscles locked, and using effort to keep the writhing blonde down. Hoseok gasps and rushes forward to the pair. “Stop! Don’t hurt Jiminie!”

Suga follows next. “Kid, calm down. He was only trying to get a reaction. He wouldn’t hurt Hoseok. He’d never do that to someone he likes. Trust me. He just said that because I told him to rile you up.”

Jimin spits at him. “You said to say something he’ll follow through!”

“That was for you, not him. We’ve worked together for years now. He reads in between the lines, and he’s never read wrong. I’m sorry we scared you. But now you’re scaring Jin. The weakest in this room. Do you understand. Control yourself. You’re not some raging monster. So, act like the rational being you are.”

Jimin struggled a bit more, until the logic of Suga’s words bit through. He flicked his eyes at Jin, who was indeed cowering in the corner. The doctor kind of waves at Jimin, though the fear hadn’t completely gone. Jimin couldn’t keep his gaze on him, shame flooding his heart. “…I’m sorry, Jin-hyung.” The fight left his body, and he lay limp in V’s hold. The Beast nodded and stood up.

And he grinned in excitement. He lifted his arms up like he was flexing his biceps, then pointed at Jimin, and did the motion again. Suga smiles a little at the Beast. “Yeah, he is really strong. Even if you were distracted, it’s still difficult to make you stumble.”

Jimin sits up and looks at Jin. “So, what does that mean for us?”

Jin blinks, still shell-shocked, before looking at his notes. “Most l-likely,” he clears his throat of the little wobble, “you’ll both have to train among the Beasts, since you’re much stronger than the average Tamer. There’s only one other Tamer who’s had that kind of strength before.”

Hoseok blinks. “Will we be meeting them?”

V huffs, and Suga hits the back of Hobi’s head. “You already have, genius.”

Jimin isn’t really surprised. If V -Five- said he and Hoseok were special, like Suga, then they must have been at a similar level. Of mutation? Or something else? Jimin couldn’t know, but he had some suspicions.

The doctor cleared his throat. “You know what… I think we need to talk to someone who’s an expert in this. And not a mute one, either.” He gives a pointed look to the now sheepish V. The Beast merely clung onto his Tamer’s arm, smiling a little at him. Suga nods, “Yeah… ‘One’ will have answers.”

Hoseok gasped. “You mean, like, another Beast?”

Suga nods. “Exactly. One is the only one who is allowed to talk, as he’s such a wealth of information, that it’s extremely foolish to discredit him. Besides, he’s the proxy between Beasts with no Tamer, and everyone else.”

Jimin just nods. “So… Can we leave?”

Jin smiles. “Let’s go. It’s not like you have anything to pack up.” He stands and points the way.

 

~~~

It turns out that the way was extremely boring. Down two halls, up an elevator, down more windy halls, then a door at the end sign posted as, ‘Library’. Hoseok pouted in disappointment. “Why is everything so… Basic?”

Jin laughs. “Only the base where the Beasts operate. They need a lot more, uh… discretion than the Tamers. They like being able to go to a room and not be disturbed. A lot of people get lost down here… If everything looks the same, then the Beasts are harder to find. Unless you’re an official like myself, who comes here often, or someone like Suga who’s involved directly with them. The hallways suck, but this… This does not.”

He opens the door, and their jaws drop. Jimin sure as hell wasn’t expecting a gigantic and lavish room, filled with velvet covered chairs, paintings and luxurious sofas. There were desks spaced in regular intervals, ready for heavy-duty study. Or work. The shelves themselves were extremely tall, with sliding ladders on every single case. And it looked like they were so many different kinds of books. He even spied a staircase that curled up a few levels. There were nooks and crannies throughout the level they were in, some seated beside windows, and all with plenty of cushions. For the first time since they arrived, Jimin saw that they were…

Were they in a tower? Was this Zone 1? Were they in a massive library in the heart of the city-dome?

He practically ran over to the nearest window, closely followed by an equally amazed Hobi, and they gasped as they gazed over the entire city, in all its monochrome glory. And Jimin could even see to the forest. He laughed. “It’s amazing! We’re really so high up! I can’t believe it!”

Hoseok merely giggled in response and slung an arm over his shoulder. “An impossible view, huh?”

They barely noticed the trio behind them, yet alone the tall figure who came down the staircase. His blonde hair was shaved at the sides and the bottom, but the rest of his longer hair was swept up and back. The tips of each strand were a sweet shade of lavender, which complemented his extremely light grey eyes. His features were regal, and his eyes were sharp. It was all offset by his friendly smile, which showed off the dimples on his face.

“It’s been a while, you three. Too busy to visit the library?”

Jimin and Hoseok spun around, embarrassed at being caught gaping at the view. And as they did, Hoseok clung onto Jimin’s arm. He had only known his hyung to react this way when a very specific event occurred. Since Hobi was dedicated to dance, and then to his favourite friend, he rarely had time to look for guys. But the few times they’d gone to Zone 3 for drinking, or for a club, Hobi sometimes would find someone. Every time he did, he’d latch onto his friend’s arm, like it would give him strength. Jimin always helped him to take someone home that night. But this was different. Hoseok wasn’t at a cub looking for a fling. He wasn’t going to ditch the man in the morning. Jimin could tell. Because Hoseok was fully staring in awe at the man before them.

When he turned to look at the two dancers, Jimin almost heard Hoseok whimper. The man smiled, either way and walked forward. “Sorry, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I have many names, but perhaps the one you’ll be most familiar with is One.”

And just like that, Jimin’s heart sunk.

Hoseok really had his work cut out for him.

Chapter Text

Hoseok sprang forward and offered his hand. “Hi, I’m Jung Hoseok, I’m an Aquarius, and my blood type is A? What about you?”

One raised his eyebrows and laughed at that. Jimin flicked his gaze to the trio behind them, and saw Suga smile so brightly that even his gums were seen. V, likewise, was grinning a boxy smile, and trying not to laugh. Jin, meanwhile, was confused. One shook his head. “Ah, right, um…” He squeezed his eyes shut, like he was trying to centre himself, “My zodiac is Virgo, and my blood type… Is similar to what you’d call A. Although, as a Beast, it’s not completely the same.”

Jimin opened his mouth to respond, but Hoseok jumped in. “You know that means we’re pretty compatible?”

One just laughed some more. “I don’t think that’s completely true. Virgo and Aquarius can annoy each other a lot.”

“Or they bring out the best in each other.”

And One blushed and hid his face behind his hand. He turned to Jimin, trying to regain his composure. “And, you are?”

Jimin opened his mouth, and Hoseok, again, answered. “This is my best friend Jiminie, and he’s just the sweetest guy around.”

One smirks a little. “I don’t get a full introduction for him? A bit disappointing.”

Hoseok shrugs. “He’s a Libra and an A-type.”

Jimin smirks. “More compatible, right?”

Hoseok steps on Jimin’s shoe, causing him to yelp, and pull away.

Jin, seeming to come back to reality, clears his throat. “We should head upstairs. Sit down… Talk about the correct ways to interact with a Beast.”

One nods and looks at the two. “Shall we? Jimin. …Hoseok.”

Hoseok smiles at the Beast, clearly in seventh heaven after hearing just his name. Jimin tries desperately not to laugh at him. They follow Jin upstairs at a distance. Hoseok walks right besides One, trying to start up a small conversation. Suga and V flank Jimin. “So, Jimin,” Suga begins, “your friend seems very interested in a certain Beast.” V giggled quietly besides him.

Jimin rolls his eyes. “Hobi-hyung is… a hunter. He sees his type, and he goes for it.”

Suga smirks. “He does realise that One isn’t… uh… like him.”

“I don’t think it much matters to Hobi-hyung. Besides, if One’s blush is anything to go by, I think that One like Hoseok-hyung a little back.”

Suga purses his lips. “Does that bother you?”

Jimin frowns. “No. Should it?”

Suga shrugs and looks at V. “What do you think?”

V shakes his head quickly, and Suga grins that gummy smile. “We don’t think it matters. The big wigs do, though. We might have to watch out for them.”

Jimin hums. “If they care, what do you both do?”

Suga pauses for a second, before picking back up to pace with them. “What do you mean?”

Jimin rolls his eyes. “You say that like it’s not obvious that you’re both very close. It’s not a problem to me, but if it’s such a problem with them, why don’t you hide it better?”

V takes this moment to takes Jimin’s arm in his own and holds onto it gently. Jimin looks at him, and sees a small, gentle smile on his lips. The Beast notices Jimin’s stare and leans in to nuzzle his shoulder a bit. If the Beast notices him tensing, he doesn’t show it. Suga just watches, a tender look on his face. “That… What V is doing is why we don’t hide it. He trusts you already. Which is a miracle. But he’s rarely wrong about who to trust. He likes both of you. Jin knows about us, and he keeps it hush from us. One knows pretty much everything, but he’s impossible to crack, so he’s safe.”

Jimin blinks. “…This is a huge secret, isn’t it…?”

Suga nods and plays with his bracelet. “You see these? They usually record what we’re saying. There are a handful of places where they don’t work. The hospital beds are one, since people going through trauma are too vulnerable, apparently. And this place. But that’s all because of One. You’ll understand more eventually. Still, it’s best to be safer than sorry. Even in the library, we stay hush about it, unless we’re with One.”

Jimin nods and the reach the top of the stairs, and a larger table with enough room for them all. One turns to them a slight smile making his dimples show, which has Hoseok all heart-eyed. “You three, stop gossiping and sit down.”

Suga scoffs. “Like you’re not gossiping yourself!”

“I’m being social with a new friend.”

“As am I. Except Jiminie and I go way back!”

Jin rolls his eyes. “Way back to a hospital room.”

“No, way back to Zone 3.”

Jimin smirks. “Of course, hyung. Zone 3 was definitely a bonding moment for us both.”

Jin sighs. “We should focus. After we’re here, the Director will want to speak to them.”

One nods and sits down, “He is right. Besides, it’s not like this is the last time we’ll meet.”

Jimin sits opposite of One, despite V still clinging onto his arm. “So, what are you meant to talk to us about.”

One smiles gently. “Mostly about Beasts. Or what your kind consider Beasts. It’s certainly a complicated topic that Zone-dwellers over-simplify.”

Hoseok blinks. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well, for starters, Five and I are not even the same physiologically. Few Beasts are. We have similar characteristics, but it’s the same as saying that a dog and a wolf are practically the same because they’re canines.”

Jimin brings his hand to his chin, thoughts whirling. “So, you’re different species?”

One smiles. “More like different subspecies. And depending on what we are, depends on our… Abilities. Five. Show them something.”

Jimin tenses immediately, wary, since the last time V was given an order like that, he’d threatened Hoseok. Yet here he was, holding onto Jimin’s arm like he wasn’t a terrifying creature. V seems to sense this, and gently runs his hand in a soothing motion over Jimin’s forearm. Which I when he feels it. The soothing warmth flooding back into him, calming him down. Before Jimin can say anything, V brings up his other hand and snaps his finger. As he does so, a perfect flame appears on the end of his pointer finger, like it’s the body of a bright candle. Hoseok gasps and stands up, rushing to him. “Is that a trick? Where’s your lighter?” V grins and blows on the fire, which, rather than going out, burns brighter and bigger, until it encapsulates his whole hand.

Jimin leans away, mostly to see it better, but also so the fire doesn’t touch him. And he realises with a start that, no, V hadn’t been using he flamethrower in Zone 3. He was the flamethrower. V let his arm go with a pout, but didn’t put out the fire. He instead wiggled his fingers, and the flames seemed to flow into a new shape, until it looked something like a bouquet of flickering flowers. He presented them to Suga, who laughed and took it, not being burned in any way. “So considerate, V.” The Beast preened under his Tamer’s praise.

By this point, Hoseok had gone white from shock. “H-how d-did you do th-that?”

One smiles. “It’s his ability. Fire. And he’s a very strong user to boot. Suga was very lucky that V chose him.”

Jimin looks back at the other Beast. “Chose him? I would have thought it would be the other way. If there are so few Beasts to Tamers, wouldn’t the government pair Beasts with the best Tamers?”

“They tried that. It never ends well for the Tamers. See, if you aren’t compatible with the Beasts, it’s easy for their abilities to overwhelm Tamers. And especially since Beasts can Bond with Tamers in one of two ways. A Perfect Bond, and an Incomplete Bond. Suga and V have a Perfect Bond. They’re the only ones who’ve achieved this. Every other Bond has been because Tamers have forced Beasts, and it can drive the Beasts a bit mad. This agitates their abilities, which flows into and through the Bond. Suddenly, a Tamer has all of this power building inside them, which they can’t release. And it burns them out.”

Jimin shivers. “Let me guess. The Tamer dies.”

He nods, solemnly. “I tried to explain that to the Director, but she never listened. It was only when ten people had died that she finally asked for help. And even then, she encourages Tamers to chase after Beasts, hoping the Beasts will attempt to make Perfect Bonds.”

Jimin hums and looks at V. “…Did you ever have an Incomplete Bond?”

The Beast’s eyes widen, and he bites his lip. Looking down, he raises his hand, signalling that he’d had two of them. Jimin sighs. “…Did you mean for them to die? Not blaming you, just trying to figure out what happened.” V looks at Suga, before miming with his hands, bringing them together, but his fingers wouldn’t clasp right. All jagged.

Suga nods. “His previous Tamers weren’t right for him. He knew that, but he wasn’t allowed to deny them then. So, when they connected, it’s like their beings clashed with each other. Since the Bond is fuelled off his Ability, when the Bond doesn’t work well, it’s hell on both of them. I’m pretty sure it’s like an antibody reaction. That his Ability feels that the Tamer is a foreign substance in V’s system and tries to flush it out. V would get a fever, which makes him act off, and the Tamer would eventually get burned out. From what I’ve read, it was the same with all the other Incomplete Bonds.”

V nods and takes his hand, interlocking their fingers, and pointing at it, before smiling at Jimin. Suga smiles gently at V. “And because we are a compatible pair, our Bond strengthens us both. His body doesn’t fight it, because we’re… I don’t know… Compatible”

One nods. “Bonds literally strengthens both the Tamer and the Beast. The Tamer starts being as strong physically as a Beast, and Beasts have more control of their Abilities. Hence why the Director desperately wants more Bonds to be made. But Tamers can’t force it. Neither can Beasts. Besides, Beasts are natural creatures. Artificial Bonds don’t become of us.” He shrugs.

Hoseok, who’d been silently contemplating moves a bit closer to One. “So how do we know that a Beast has chosen us? I mean… Since they aren’t allowed to speak to us.”

One smiles. “Once you’ve finished basic fight training, as well as classes on strategy when fighting Parasites, then you’ll have a… graduation ceremony. Once there, all unpartnered Beasts will look at the new recruits, and determine if there’s a match.”

Suga scoffs. “That’s the formal way of doing it. V didn’t wait for the ceremony to tell me he was interested.”

Jin chuckles. “You act like you two are typical with anything. News flash, you’re not.”

V grins at that.

Jimin hums. “So, what about you, One? What’s your ability?” Hoseok leans forward, equally interested.

One smiles. “Mostly mental. I can move objects with my mind and absorb large quantities of information. I can even read minds with skin contact.”

Hoseok, damn him, leans forward more, and offers his hand. “You don’t say…”

One blushed, properly, all the way to his ears. Jimin laughs at that, hard enough that he feels himself sinking onto the table in front. Suga and V chuckle as well, leaving Jin as the only one to sigh in exasperation. “H-Hoseok, I already shook your hand.”

“Well, maybe my thoughts have changed.”

“I can tell they haven’t.”

“What’s my favourite colour, then?”

“A rainbow.”

“Wr- Wait… You actually said the right thing. First time for everything. Then what was the first thought I had when I saw V at the hospital?”

“Cute kitty-tiger.”
V pouts for a moment and returns to Suga to sulk. Suga grins at him, which brings the smiles back to V’s face, and the Beast sits in Suga’s lap, who pouts in response. Jin rolls his eyes at them.

“And Jin?”

“Worldwide Handsome.”

Jin puffed out his chest at that, in obvious agreement. Hoseok just looked impressed. “And you?”

One blushed more. “That’s… not polite.”

“There’s more where that came from.”

“Hobi-hyung!” Jimin finally manged to let out. Hoseok turned to him and grinned, knowing exactly what he was doing. Suga and V were just laughing as they observed the spectacle.

One glanced over, and flushed even more, before clearing his throat. “There are a few other types of Beasts, but there are only three with external powers. Myself, Five and Eleven. The others are all Beasts that can change their form or have insane strength. The more powerful they are, the less likely that they’ll find a proper match.”

Jimin nods. “Will we meet any of the other Beasts.”

He nods back, “You will indeed. In fact, it’s encouraged. You won’t be able to talk to them, but it’s best to get to know them.”

Hoseok pouts. “But we can talk to you, right?”

One smiles. “Of course you can.”

Hoseok brightens, smiling his heart smile joyously. “That’s good.”

One blinks and smiles back just as happily, dimples appearing again, and he squeezes his eyes shut for a moment before looking back to Jin. “I think that they should meet the Director. Afterall, I’m always here to talk. But they need to get some routine while they can. I’d take them myself, but… Well…”

Jin looks at Hoseok. “One isn’t allowed out of the library. He has a little room at the top that’s his.” Hoseok’s smile drops and he looks at One, worried. One shrugs, “I’m used to it, now.” Jin replies, “Yes, but the boys need to know. You and Five have a lot more liberties than most Beasts. You because you’re useful, and Five because he has Suga as a buffer. Most Beasts do not get the same treatment. Your implants make sure of that. And they need to know so neither of you get in trouble.”

Hoseok leans forward. “What do you mean, implants?”

V pulls his collar down, exposing a small blue circle on the left side of his lower neck. It looked like it glowed every now and then. Perhaps it was a sensor. Suga sighed. “The Director will teach you about Beast punishment. And that implant is how it happens. Needless to say, only a few people can punish One or Five. The others… well… they’re fair game.”

Jimin shudders. “Punishment… Like torture?”

V wrings his hand a little and Suga looks away. It’s Jin that answers. “Yes. The implant injects a nerve stimulant which makes the body feel intense pain. Just a drop can down an angry Beast. But some misuse the punishment. So, be aware of how you are acting around Beasts. If you mess up, they get the fall.”

The distraught look on Hoseok’s face breaks Jimin’s heart, but Jin is right, of course. Jimin would have to make sure both Hoseok and himself acted appropriately in front of others. Jimin hums, “So, should we attempt to act proper all the time, or can we be loose around you all, as long as others aren’t around?”

V sprang forward, making Jimin yelp, but the Beast merely wrapped his arms around him, nuzzling him. Suga grins. “Well, there’s your answer. We want you to be real with us. He certainly will. I will too. Besides, One is really bad at acting, so I doubt that he’d be able to pretend like he doesn’t care. Jin on the other hand is a fantastic actor. I’ve seen him mete out punishment like it was nothing, only to find him sobbing on the couch of his room with ice cream, over how shitty he is to do anything like that.”

Jin finds the nearest book and to throw at Suga. “That was our secret!”

Suga just cackled at the fuming doctor. Jimin noticed that V slightly tensed as the book landed, but then he continued to nuzzle Jimin.

“Five, return to your position.” One’s voice cut through the air, authoritative and cold.

Before Jimin could react, V had hurried back to Suga, but rather than sit, he stood behind him, at attention. Even One was sitting straighter in his seat, with his head tilted slightly down. It was almost like he was trying not to look in any of their eyes. Jimin sat straighter in response, and he saw Hoseok do the same in his peripheral.

That’s when they heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Jimin looked toward them, as a group of seven people walked in. Judging by the uniforms, Jimin assumed that the six in the back were military, or at least an assault team. They were heavily armed, dressed in heavier clothing, perhaps even Kevlar, a commodity within the city-dome. The woman in the middle was an older woman, her black hair pulled up into a bun that was tighter than any ballerina’s. She wore enough makeup to hide the specifics of her age, while also highlighting her sharp eyes and thin, pursing lips. Her clothing seemed to scream rich, and although a plain business suit, it was perfectly sculpted to her compact body. She was quite a bit shorter than Jimin, even with heels, but she had a deadly aura around her that seemed to make even One quiver.

Jin stood up and bowed in respect. “Madame Director, we didn’t realise you were coming to the library today.”

“I know, Doctor Kim, but I was impatient in meeting promising recruits, as you’ve put in your notes. I’m always impressed by your precision and detail, so anything as astounding as not one, but two high class Tamers?” She smiles, cold and calculative, “That warrants my personal attention. I hope this doesn’t interrupt your briefing for the boys.”

Jin shakes his head. “No, ma’am. Would you like a seat?”

“That would be lovely.” She looked expectantly at One, who rose from his seat and offered his own, despite the number of empty seats at the table. He still hadn’t looked up.

She walked over quickly, and sank down into the cushioned chair, before looking at Hoseok and Jimin. “My name is Lee Haeun. I am the Director of the Eradication Project. We hunt down Parasites with a combination of mutated beings and external creatures. I’m sure that you’ve been told a great deal already, but all you need to focus on is getting into shape to fight Parasites.”

Jimin gulps and raises his hand, like a child in school. She nods in approval, so he wets his lips and asks, “How many Parasites do you fight on average over a year.”

The smile she gives is no longer just cold, but also cruel, despite the impressed aura at Jimin’s words. “On average, about fifty or so.”

Hoseok frowns. “Nearly one every week? How have we never heard of this?”

She gives him the side-eye, easily the opposite reaction she’d had to Jimin. “A side effect of the spores leaving your system is that you lose your memory of the around twenty-four to forty-eight hours. An inconvenience, and some realise they’ve lost a day. But we are very quick to eradicate the Parasites before they cause large-scale damage. They only region that know about them are Zone 5, and that’s because they get attacked the most, and it is illogical to withhold this information.”

Hoseok shivers. “Is that why I can’t remember the attack.”

The Director looks at him directly, even more unimpressed, and Hoseok realises that, like Jimin, he should have raised his hand both of those times. Fortunately, the Director answers, “Exactly. Only fully mutated people are immune, unless you are naturally resistant, like this boy is.” She nods at Jimin but is still staring holes through Hoseok’s now bowed head.

Jin raises his hand, and she nods. “Would you like me to explain the training regimen?” Jimin nearly smiles, knowing the doctor is redirecting this woman’s thoughts. Jimin honestly wants to hug the man but he keeps it together.

She shakes her head and looks back at Jimin. “You will be undergoing six weeks of hard physical training, as well as mental based tests which will indicate which type of operation would be suit you. We have three major operations, reconnaissance and learning, containment, and training and hunting.”

Jimin noticed V’s cheek flinch at the word hunting. He raises his hand and waits for approval, “Is reconnaissance going to an area that is possibly affected by a Parasite?” She purses her lips as she answers. “It is also for gathering data about possible high-risk locations.” Jimin smiles and nods, showing that he understood.

Hoseok raises his hand, but she ignores him. “Since containment is obvious, I’ll tell you now that training and hunting are very important here. Their operation covers the training of new Tamers, as well as the capture of new Beasts. We are not often successful, but three months ago, we caught a very fine specimen. He was very difficult to train, so I had to break him myself. He’s quite placid now, I assure you.” She looks at Suga. “How has Five been recently? I do hope that he’s been behaving himself. He was always the type to get too comfortable, and break rules in that mindset.”

Suga nods. “He’s been very well-behaved, I assure you.”

“When was his last punishment?”

Jimin’s eyes widen and he looks at V. The Beast seems completely passive and unmoved by the words… Until you saw the fine tremor in his hands, and that his stripes seemed duller than before. Resigned. A child about to be spanked. No…

A dog, about to be kicked.

Jimin wonders why the Director made him think of his parents.

Suga answers smoothly. “About a month ago. He got too cocky and made a mess of a garden.”

The Director stands and walks over to Jimin, who tries not to move at all. She picks up his hand and pulls back the cuff of his long-sleeved shirt. She kisses her teeth in irritation. “A new Tamer, already injured. I suppose you didn’t do this, Suga.”

Suga gulps, almost imperceptive. “No, ma’am.”

“And something tells me that Hoseok didn’t do this either.”

Suga’s eyes widen, and V bows down in front of her. His mild tremor become full bodied shakes, and Jimin hasn’t ever seen someone so terrified in his life.
The Parasite didn’t do this to people. It inspired pure horror, as knowing something was coming for you specifically to harvest you was enough to turn anyone’s stomach.

This was terror, a trained reaction to years of abuse. And V couldn’t escape.

The Director sighs and speaks into her bracelet. “Inject V.”

And V screams, rolling onto his side and spasming. He twitches like his limbs aren’t his own, and he froths at the mouth in between his choked cries. Suga is visibly affected but remains plastered to his seat. Hoseok tries to stand but is pulled down by Jin. Jimin just stares, disbelief racing through his mind. Sure, V was a very scary creature when he wanted to be… Yet there was nothing that he’d done which was worth him writhing on the floor like his insides were being pulled from him. At one moment, he opened his eyes and tried to reach out to Suga, and his Tamer looked away. After an endless minute, the screaming and writhing stopped, even though the sobs continued. The director cleared her throat. “Five, you know better than to cry after your punishment. Use your words.”

V shuddered and slowly worked himself back into a kneeling position, and he bowed. His low voice was husky was screaming. “I’m sorry, Director. Please forgive me.”

She hums. “You are forgiven. Make sure that this doesn’t happen again. I can always send you back to the training room.” V flinches and shies away, which isn’t the response she wanted. She barks out, “Words!”

“Thank you for my punishment, Director.”

She nods and looks at Jimin and Hoseok. “They may look human, but they are animals. The sooner you realise that, the easier your job will become. You will both begin training tomorrow. I expect great things from you.”

She motions to the guards, and they all leave together.

No one moves, knowing the silence is the only thing that will keep V safe from another punishment. It isn’t until One whispers, “She’s gone”, that Suga rushes forward to V.

The moment his Tamer has him, V starts to sob again, letting himself be comforted by the cradle of his arms. Jin rushes out of his seat and around a corner, finds a bin before placing it in front of the hysterical Beast. “She’s gone V, don’t hold it in. If you do, it will just make the pain worse.”

V grimaces but must not be able to stop himself from suddenly hurling into the bin, all while Suga rubs his back soothing, and murmurs soft words into his ear.

Jimin stares at the whole thing, not believing his eyes, and Hoseok likewise cannot handle what he’s just seen. He didn’t even remember that attack from before, and had definitely never seen abuse like Jimin had. Hoseok reached out towards Jimin, but his friend was too far away, and he shivered, trying not to cry. As soon as he noticed it, One took his hand gently, and rubbed his thumb across his knuckles, while Hoseok allows himself to be comforted.

Jimin didn’t reach out to anyone. He didn’t really deserve it. But it truly dawned on him, that yes, the Tamer, doctor and Beasts were nice. However, it was highly possible that that was the entire list of good people. After all, this was Zone 1. If Zone 2 were full of insufferable and egotistical assholes, sure the centre must be worse.

Eventually, Suga manged to calm V down, and the Beast was sitting in the Tamers lap, seeking comfort. Jimin wet his lips and looked at the others. “What the fuck is wrong with these people?”

V looks up at him, eyes both tired and puffy. He smiles gently and says softly. “I’m okay, Jimin. That was a short dose.”

And with that, Suga begins to cry.

 

~~~

One managed to take the two up towards the room section of the library, leaving Jimin and Hoseok with Jin. Hoseok grinds his teeth. “What the actual fuck was that?”

Jin looks despondent, like there’s no easy answer. “You heard her. They don’t see V as a person. Shit. Five. Five as a person.” He rubs his face. “Besides, she wanted to test you both. If you showed weakness to Five being tortured, then you’d be trained for longer to make sure that you wouldn’t get too close to the Beasts. She’s never been pleased that Suga is so lenient with Five. Hell, if she could, I think that she would punish Suga as well, for being too relaxed with a ‘highly dangerous specimen’. I’m surprised though Jimin. You did extremely well.”

Hoseok winces, and Jimin just sighs. “I’ve… never seen something intense like that.”

Jin hears the hidden meaning behind that and bites his lip gently. “…You weren’t genetically modified, were you.” The words sound like a question, but Jimin knows it is not. Still he nods his head in confirmation. The doctor looks up, apologetic. “So… A natural human in the midst of genetic freaks. Zone 2 probably made sure that you knew what you were… Right?” Jimin confirms with another nod. “…Were you punished for that too?” Jimin just shrugs, not wanting this conversation. Jin still has his confirmation.

“…I’m from Zone 2. I’m natural as well.”

Jimin’s eyes widen and he looks closer at Jin, not at all believing him, and trying to find the ‘imperfections’ all naturals have. Not that he can find anything on Jin’s flawless face. Jin smiles anyway. “My parents sold me to Zone 1 when I was born. They figured the government would have use of the naturally superior genes.” He shivers before sighing. “Yoongi… He’s Zone 1. The only one from here in the entire Tamer Core. He was changed in Zone 3, while helping to open an orphanage for his family. Now he’s here.” He smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “If Five and One like you… Then I’m going to trust you both. But those people will eat you alive, unless we work together. Keep our heads above the water. Understand?”

They both nod.

Jin smiles. “Now… Let’s get you to your room. You’ll be sharing a dorm. If you ever need us, just call for us in your bracelet. While you were in the suits, I put mine and Suga’s names in, since I figured you’d need them. For training or medical purposes. Now you get them for fun purposes.” He smiles kindly at them, and Jimin relaxes in his presence.

“Thank you, hyung. For everything.”

After a second of disbelief, Jin laughs. “You two… You realise it’s my job to take care of you?”

Hoseok smiles gently. “You didn’t have to go this far, Jin-hyung.”

Jin just smiles at them and stands. “I’ll take you to your room. Follow me.”

And they leave the library. But not before they pass a solitary figure that enters as they depart.

Jimin stares at him, the man in front of him having such a familiar aura, but he’s never seen him before. Surely, he would remember the chin-length, curly hair, which flick down to his strong jaw. He’d know the strong brows and nose, the way his cheeks hollowed in slightly at the edge of his sensitive mouth. Most importantly, he’d have memorised the expressive blue eyes that stared at him like a doe caught in the headlights. Like this person had seen something beyond wonder. And his eyes flashed a nearly white blue, like there was lightning behind them.

Jimin looked down and saw that there were intricate markings on his skin, like a plethora of feathers dancing over his skin, lit up in a light blue, just like his eyes. Jimin wanted to walk forward and run his hands over his firm muscles, of which there were many, and see if the lines on top were hot to the touch. He wanted to lick up his neck and see what this man would look like begging for mercy. He wanted to feel him against his bo-

“Jimin, are you okay?”

He gasps, immediately ashamed of where his mind had wandered to, and embarrassed to be staring at the man. What was wrong with him? He’d never done anything like that before. He was a virgin, for fuck’s sake. He didn’t even realise he was attracted to men.

“Yeah, Hobi-hyung. I’m okay.”

Jin smiled at the man. “Hello, Eleven. Come to see One? He may be a little busy, but I’m sure he can see you soon.”

Eleven wrenches his eyes away from Jimin and flushes a little. He bows to Jin, then practically runs off before Jimin can even introduce himself.

He nearly whines, wanting to run after him, but feeling like he’d be too desper- Wait… Eleven? The boy was a Beast? Of course, he was. Those markings were so similar to v-Five. He hadn’t seen any on One though.

Jin watches the interaction and sighs. “Well now, you two. Looks like you’re going to have to work very hard.”

Hoseok frowns. “On what in particular?”

“On acting like you’re not insanely in love with two Beasts.”

Chapter Text

Jin led them back through the corridors to the elevator and swiped his bracelet to start up the elevator. It started going down, much further than what he knew the hospital level was on. Jin briefly comments on which levels are which, indicating that the beasts live near the top on four floors, since they needed a bit more space. The hospital was a buffer between them and the Tamer floors, with most of the building being either housing for Tamers, or where they would work. Meaning, of course, that they were definitely trapped in this building, unless told otherwise.

As they walked down an orderly corridor, Jimin and Hoseok finally saw other Tamers. They looked critically at the two, assessing them, and not liking what they saw. Jimin agreed that he didn’t like what he saw of them. Their hair was still black, but their mutations were more… warping. Their face truly looked crooked, some with scars from where the skin had broken during the change. The colours in their eyes seemed to bleed out of their irises in spots, an image that chilled Jimin. And they had sharper teeth and nails. Funny that they were meant to be Tamers, when they looked more beast-like than the three they’d met. One of them stepped forward.

“I thought Beasts weren’t allowed in the living area.”

Jimin frowns as Hoseok steps forward. “Good thing we aren’t Beasts, then. Although I thought the same thing when I saw you.”

The man hisses, literally, and steps forward, squaring up to Hoseok, before Jin steps forward. “Step back, Jiwoo. You know how sensitive new Tamers are, and I expect better than to have to deal with you antagonising them. Minseo, please escort your team back to a common area, and make sure the others give Jimin and Hoseok space.”

The one girl among them nodded, and pulled Jiwoo back. Jimin smiled at her but she did not smile back, instead sneering at them. The moment they were gone, Hoseok scoffed. “Someone welcoming party.”

Jin laughed without mirth, “Of course. You’re their new competition for a Beast Bond.”

The idea barely makes sense to Jimin. “But aren’t Bonds dangerous? If they haven’t been chosen, it’s obvious that the Beasts aren’t interested, right?”

Jin smirks, his eyes twinkling with amusement, happy at Jimin’s words. “We know that. Try to explain it to them. Besides, they like having someone to punch around. Don’t be too shy of punching back. They’ll soon realise they’re not in your league.”

Hoseok flicked his eyes to Jimin, before back to Jin. “We’re not really the violent types, though.”

“Oh, trust me, you’ll start feeling a bit more violent in the next few days. Raised aggression is a typical side-effect of the mutation. Save it for training. Unless others come for you. Then punch away.”

Jin takes them through to a cafeteria area, which seems to be a merge of two floors. “This is where all people come to eat, Tamers and Beasts. You can technically eat elsewhere, but if you want food, you must come here to get it. Forced socialisation and all that. Since I’m staff, I’m technically exempt. But I like hassling… um.. spending time with Yoongi.”

“Sounds like you’ve been friends for a while.” Hoseok smirks at Jin, but his eyes are fond.

The doctor just nods. “A very long time. He was my first patient, and we never had a reason to separate. The doctors here only have three patients at a time. After graduation, you can choose a different doctor, in case you think my bedside manner is terrible. Which Yoongi says it is.”

Jimin smiles gently. “I don’t think it is, Jin-hyung.”

Startled by Jimin’s words, he smiles warmly. “I think that’s the first time you’ve called me that. So sweet, little Jiminie!”

Jimin smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He was a little glad Jin didn’t remember the first time. When he’d tried to fight V in the hospital room… Maybe Jin was more rattled than he let on. Jin, however, noticed that it wasn’t his genuine smile and sighs. “Look, Jimin. This is the first time that matters, okay. Besides, you’re a good kid. I don’t want you feeling guilty about things that you can’t control right now. Aggression is one thing. Anger and fear can be other things to watch out for. Not that I’ve seen it, but Yoongi said he may as well have been asexual before he changed, so sex drive may be altered. I didn’t want to know that, but he forced me to know, and now I pass on that information. You’re welcome.”

The look on Hobi’s face was of pure disgust, as only Hoseok could serve to people.

They walked forward through the metallic room, white linoleum floors being the only feature that wasn’t metal or glass. The windows still showed the breath-taking view, but the forest wasn’t in view, which made Jimin’s heart sink. He wondered, though, if the Beasts saw that forest, and rather than enjoying the view, were tormented by it. Jimin looked forward to where the lunch bar, with a few people serving out the food. It was basic food. Not gruel, or any prion sludge, but it wasn’t fancy. Vegetables, basic bread, a small amount of meat. Nothing exciting. When asked, Jin mentioned it was a basic military meal, and that it was meant to have exactly enough basic nutrients for the Tamers. Beasts had a stricter diet, and it was made especially for them, since human foods often weren’t right for them.

V, apparently, was a vegan, because he couldn’t digest any animal proteins, and would end up throwing up blood if he did consume anything like egg or milk. One, apparently, ate like a bird. One mouthful or food and he wouldn’t be able to eat for most of the day. Jin said he appreciated Eleven the most. Omnivore, ate like humans, but needed large quantities of food. They fed him normally for a while, before realising he was still starving. Then Jin set up a buffet table, enough to feed ten people. Eleven finished it all, and they realised he could have eaten more. His metabolism was insanely fast, like he digested and processed the energy the moment he swallowed. They’d finally managed to settle on feeding him meals that would serve five people, since he could run on that, and still be strong enough to train”. Both the dancers were sure that Jin would have continued to talk, but he was cut off by a bunch of Tamers walking past and shoving into Jimin hard enough for him to drop his food on the floor.

Jin looked over his wide shoulders at them, ready to scold, but the people either walked too fast, or blended too well into the crowd of other Tamers. Jimin stared down at his wasted lunch and felt a wave of distress wash through him. Unbidden, he felt tears start to fall at the useless meal, and Jimin knew it was the worst response to have, but all his nerves felt exposed to the world with each emotion feeling more intense than he’d ever felt. Hoseok growled as he saw it. “It’s okay, Jiminie, we’ll get you another one.” As he turned to walk back, Jin stopped him. The doctor bit his lip. “They’ll deny him more food. His bracelet will say he’s been given food. Especially since it’s dinner, and plenty have tried to overeat before lights out.”

Hoseok blanched. “But he didn’t eat! We barely stepped away from the line, so surely, they can see he didn’t get anything!”

Jin sighs. “It’s fine, Jimin, I’ll share my food with you. I’m sure Hoseok can spare some. You don’t have to starve just because of them.”

Jimin’s emotions flip, like they’re on a sick seesaw, making him feel beyond livid. He knew that Jin and Hoseok hadn’t seen who bumped into him, but Jimin had. He clears his throat. “Jin, do you have a place where fights happen. A training area?”

“…We do… Why do you ask, Jimin?”

“I need to issue a challenge, don’t I?”

“I mean, you can, or you can talk to some of the superiors. After all, you’re untrained, Jimin. You’d be wasted in a fight. So you shouldn’t, okay?”

“Look… I know their type. Trust me.” He stalks off to the other side of the room before either of them can stop him, and Jimin scans the crowd before finding a particularly smug face. Standing beside him was Jiwoo, also looking smug at him. Seemed the guy didn’t want to fight his own battles and had enlisted some buddy. No matter.

He walked forward until he was directly in front of the group. They had been cackling amongst themselves but died down as he approached. Jimin folds his arms and looks the man over. He was much taller than him, closer to One’s height than his own, with thick corded muscle. He wasn’t particularly good looking, with a jaw that jut out, a small mouth and a nose that didn’t fit his face. But it was his eyes that were not pleasant to look at. His whites had gone a bright yellow, like the worst case of jaundice ever seen, And his still black eyes framed what looked like a sheep’s iris. It was unpleasant, and even more unnerving. He and Hoseok had changed, yes, but the changes accentuated them. He didn’t know what Yoongi looked like before, but he was a handsome man with his current looks. Perhaps V was onto something when he said the other Tamers weren’t special. Jimin could feel that with every breath he took in their presence.

Metal. It was like breathing around a junkyard. Rusty and cold.

The man spit on the floor in front of him. “What do you want?”

“You picked a fight with me. I’m here to finish what you started.”

He raised his eyebrows, before barking out a laugh. “I don’t know who you think you are, but I’m the strongest Tamer there is here.”

“You sure? I feel like Suga would kick your ass.”

He growled, and it sounded guttural like an animal. “That a fucking challenge?”

“Obviously. Like I said. I’m finishing what you started. You show me where the fighting ground is. You versus me and that’s it. If your friends decide that your need help, I win by default. Understood?”

He looked him up and down, squaring up whether the risk was worth it, before grinning. “Fine. But it’s a fight until I either break a bone, or you faint.”

Jimin isn’t fond of the conditions, but he doesn’t show it. “Deal.”

The man stands, leering over him. “You’re gonna wish you just took a little humiliation, bitch.”

Gritting his teeth, he walked over to where Jin and Hoseok were standing, stunned. Jin especially is pale. “What the hell are you doing,” Hoseok whispered to him, “you’re going to get us both in trouble on out first day.”

“No. I’m getting us out of trouble. If they want to play dirty because we’re new, we have to show them how dirty we can get.”

Jin just sighed and yanked on his bracelet. “Suga, can you come and make sure a training match doesn’t get too violent?”

There was no response from the bracelet. Maybe Suga wouldn’t come, still tending to V. Jin didn’t linger on it, and directed them both out the cafeteria, down another corridor, before entering a similar sized room, but empty save for one set of bleachers, obviously to watch a fight. Jimin looked around, attempting to assess if there are any differences between this place, and the other places he’d fought.

Hoseok leans over. “Black belt or no, Chim… These guys won’t fight fair. We don’t even now how they will fight, especially in these bodies. Besides, this isn’t a tournament where you’re just doing moves. They seem like they want blood.”

Jimin nods. “It is a risk… But I don’t want it to be you tomorrow. You’ll be a good fighter eventually. Not today, though. I might be a good one today. That’s the best chance we have, Hobi-hyung.”

The group arrived just after they do, and as they entered, they jeered at Jimin and Hoseok, completely ignoring how Jin attempted to bring order to the situation, telling off the group of six Tamers. Jimin looked for any clothing that’s less restrictive than what he was wearing. God, he hadn’t actually been changed out of his clothes from Zone 3. He didn’t have his normal workout clothes. He saw a bin of shirts and leggings. It was a bit worrying to shove on some random persons clothes, but it all smelled clean, so he had to suck it up. He changed quickly, ignoring the mockery from the others. At least they hadn’t noticed his defined muscles. They may have been wearier if they had. Or not. They may not care at all.

He gave a cursory look to Hoseok, before nodding once and walking forward.

Jaundice Eyes smirked at him and pointed to the centre of the room. “The circle is the boundary. And fight style is up to you. First to faint or have their bone broken wins.”

Jimin paused, “Dirty moves like eye-gouging and hooks in the mouth will cost you the win. Even if you would have otherwise beaten me, you do anything like that, and you lose.”

“Well, who will be the judge? Not like that doctor can follow a real fight.”

Jimin bit his lip, not wanting to deal with their fight being judged by a ‘peer’ of theirs. Jaundice waved forward Jiwoo, and the Tamers smirked at him. “Jiwoo is a great judge. I’m sure he’ll make sure everyone plays fair.”

“There’s no need for that. I can judge.”

Jimin turned and stifled a gasp. Yoongi walked in, looking tired and irritable, but present. He looked at Jimin, and nodded at him, reassuring him. The six Tamers made noises of dissent, but Jaundice accepted it. “Fine, Suga. But no playing favourites with a fellow freak.”

He shruged. “Noted, Taurus.”

They both walked forward into the ring, after Jimin re-established the rules for Yoongi’s sake. Jimin looked at the man on the other side of the ring, readying himself for a hard fight. He wasn’t a fool. Taurus had too many muscles and too many scars to be inexperienced. Jimin was a good fighter and had learned fast, but there was always something inherently different to a brawl like this. As he focused, he felt himself slipping into a different headspace.

When V had threatened Hoseok, Jimin hadn’t just exploded. Upon reflection, he realised that he had had a type of adrenal reaction to the Beast. His movements seemed to be faster and stronger, but his reactions also slowed everything down for him. It was momentary at that moment, and he’d been easily overwhelmed by the Beast.

Taurus wasn’t a Beast. Maybe he was visually.

No, that was a lie. V, One and especially Eleven, were all gorgeous creatures. These Tamers were everything Jimin was scared he’d become. Mutations. Not natural.

He didn’t know what that made him now.

At that moment, Suga waved his hand, beginning the match. Immediately Taurus charged at him, and Jimin felt it. That headspace. As he leaned into it, he almost laughed.

Taurus was slow. Damn slow. He barrelled toward him, and Jimin practically skipped out of his way. Unlike with V, Jimin kept a hold of the feeling, relaxed into the fight. Taurus, not expecting the manoeuvre nearly ran out of the ring, causing his spectators to gasp. He looked back at Jimin, confused.

“Well?” Jimin taunted. “I’m waiting for my humiliation, bitch.”

Taurus growled, and ran to him, this time leading with his fists. First a punch to his gut, which Jimin deflected away from his body, second a punch to his jaw, which Jimin stepped back from. Taurus thought that it left an opening for a jab to the side, but Jimin pulled into Taurus’s own opening, before launching his fist into his jaw. The uppercut sent him flying up, and nearly out of the ring. Sadly, Jimin felt no bone break, nor did the Tamer faint. He however spat out some blood before standing up.

This time, Jimin went forward, putting Taurus on the defensive. He knew he could probably shove him out of the ring, if he used the same force he’d used on V. But maybe he also wanted to teach them a lesson. All of them. That Park Jimin, and anyone associated with him... They were off limits.

He began to land a series of smaller hits to Taurus, dipping, weaving and dodging in tandem with Taurus’s weak efforts to hit Jimin. Jimin lost count of all the little hits he’d made, whereas that cocky Tamer hadn’t landed a single hit. The constant damage began to wear down on older man, and without warning, his legs gave out. Jimin didn’t see it happen in time, and it messed with the natural rhythm he’d been building up. It was enough for Taurus to land a hard hit to his stomach.

Jimin stumbled back, the pain a lot more than he was expecting. It made sense though. Just because he was hitting harder, didn’t mean he wouldn’t feel hard hits. He grimaced and held onto his stomach for a moment before resuming his stance.

Taurus grits his teeth and gets up. “Not bad for a runt… I bet your friend can’t take a real punch. Maybe I should break him in for you, since you obviously haven’t.”

The other Tamers, who’d been growing quieter as the fight went on, started jeering at Hoseok, some just with wolf-calls, other with crude hand gestures.

Jimin decided that he didn’t need to play anymore.

He ran up to Taurus before the man had fully caught his breath and decked him in the face hard enough that Jimin felt the bone of his jaw shatter. He didn’t know exactly how much damage he’d done, but given the squeal of pain from the man, it had to be extensive. But Jimin couldn’t stop. The first blow had knocked him over, and Jimin scrambled up to straddle him. Just like V, this man had threatened his Hobi-hyung. Unlike V, this man couldn’t stop Jimin. And so, he continued to punch Taurus, feeling blood appear on his hands from where Taurus’s teeth had gone through his lip, and from where his skin had simply burst from the wails on his face. He didn’t break any more bones, but he was sure that his jaw was breaking more under the special attention. Taurus tried to buck him off, but Jimin was locked onto him. Eventually Taurus’s pleas for mercy quieted, and Jimin managed to stop himself, exactly as the Tamer passed out. Whether from blood-loss or pain, Jimin didn’t care. He could barely feel anything. He just felt so cold.

The groupies were in utter shock and turned to Suga. “Why the hell didn’t you stop him?”

Yoongi just shrugged. “He stopped. I don’t see the problem. Oh, and Jimin wins.” Without another word, he turned and left.

The Tamers looked at Jimin in shock, never expecting what they’d just seen.

Jin calls up another doctor, before rushing forward to examine the damage he’d wrought to Taurus. Judging by the look on his face, it was a grim situation. He looks up at Jimin. “…I’ll be having you both trained under Suga directly. You may be stronger than Hoseok, but he’s still going to be stronger than these people. You didn’t tell me you fought.”

Jimin shrugs. “Fights are like dances. I thought it was a useful cross-discipline.” If Jin noticed the coldness in his eyes, he says nothing.

Hoseok, however, walks to him and pulls Jimin out of the ring. “There are showers through that door, right?” Jin confirms it and informs them that there are clothes dispensers there, so they can both get clean.

After some directing from his hyung, Jimin managed to get into the shower. Hoseok originally tries to shower in a separate cubicle, but as Jimin doesn’t move a muscle after he’s placed under the hot water, he gives in and simply helps to wash the catatonic man. They had often showered together when there wasn’t much water left in the Zone 4 house that Hoseok ad lived in. water was scarce, and only a small amount was ever afforded to them. After all the dancing and practice they’d done, they weren’t shy around each other. But Hoseok hadn’t had to wash him before. He had, however, seen Jimin go into this headspace. It usually involved less violence, but it nevertheless worried him. Jimin could tell that much in the back of his mind, but he was unable to reassure him, and he hated that.

Hoseok noticed a few tears coming from Jimin, and he cooed at him, hushing him with nonsense words. When they were clean and dried, Hoseok managed to instruct Jimin to clothe himself, before they exited back to where Jin was.

None of the other Tamers were present, and the only proof of their battle was a blood spatter on the floor. Jin watched as they walked back, noting the bank look on Jimin’s face solemnly. “I think I should show you your dorm. You both look tired…”

Hoseok nods. “…Jimin won’t eat tonight. He never does when he’s like this.”

“You know, none of this is on his medical records.”

“Of course not. You think the Zone 2 Parks would ever admit that they tried often to break their oldest son? If this was on record, a lot of people would ask questions.”

Jin bit his lip. “…I’ll make sure you two stay together.”

“Please do.”

Jimin, gaining a fraction more consciousness, gripped onto Hoseok’s sleeve, taking comfort from the sunshine presence. Hobi smiled at him. “Feeling tired, Chim? Let’s find a place to sleep.”

Wandering the corridor to where their room was didn’t take long. Jin probably spoke more to Hoseok, but Jimin had officially zoned out, and couldn’t form any comprehension to the sounds Jin and Hoseok were babbling at each other.

Hoseok gently pushed him onto the bed, and Jimin smiled for a moment, before he succumbed to sleep.

 

~~~

When Jimin woke, all he could pay attention to was the gnawing in his stomach, and he sighed. He sat up slowly, feeling pain in his stomach and hands, but he was otherwise fine. He looked at the room, curious. It was a box of a room. No windows. There were two small dressers, and two slots for laundry. There were no mirrors, no bedside tables. The beds were just cots. They barely contained Jimin, and Hoseok’s feet slightly dangled off the end. His hyung was snoozing happily, content in his sleep. Jimin couldn’t fall asleep again, not with the twisting in his stomach.

He sighed and slowly stood, deciding to have a little walk, and try to figure out the hallways. Mostly to orient himself, and partially to get his mind off food.

He opened the door, please that there wasn’t any sound to alert his hyung. He didn’t know which direction to go, but he chose to go left, and walked by all the doors, all of which looked like dorms. He found himself in a bigger hallway, which only connected him to more hallways. Jimin pouted, not wanting to get lost here if possible. He looked up at the hallway and noticed a number. He grinned and went back to his room, opening the door to make sure he was right (he was, and he was very pleased with himself). Satisfied, he found to that the room had a number to go with the one for the hallway. Hallway 4, Room 11. There seemed to be twelve rooms in this hallway. Pleased with himself, he wandered to the main corridor, and saw the elevator. He explored the other ways, finding much of the same, aside from the last two corridors. One was a bunch of bathrooms and shower cubicles. Another was a hallway which led to an abundance of training areas and gyms. Lastly was the main exit, which brought him to the last hall to the cafeteria.

He was still desperately hungry, but he at least had an idea of the floor plan. Usually he was the first to get lost, and he didn’t want to talk to the average Tamer more than necessary. He sighed and walked into the cafeteria, expecting to sit down and look at the city lights.

What he found was a very familiar Beast. He looked up at him, his big, doe eyes wide with alarm. Jimin gaped before flushing, “Sorry, I thought I’d be the only one here!”

Eleven blinks and smiles, waving him over.

Jimin frowns a little, remembering how the Beast had ran from him the first moment he could. Maybe he was shy. Then Jimin shivered at that idea. This obviously powerful creature… shy? He hummed at the thought and walked over to Eleven.

As he did, he noticed the four trays of food surrounding the Beast, and he raised his eyebrows. “Is this a midnight snack?”

Eleven blushed and shook his head.

“Dinner?”

He nods.

“Why so late?”

Eleven opens his mouth before freezing and closing it. Even Jimin can see the intense frustration in his eyes. He closes his hands into fists and clenches his jaw. Jimin sighs and sits beside him. “Sorry… I shouldn’t ask a question that you can’t answer. Do you not like eating in front of Tamers?”

Looking relieved, the Beast nods, bis blue eyes shining with that light again. Something about the glow makes Jimin relax and he smiles at him.

“I wouldn’t want to either. They seem like jerks, and I’ve only been here for one day.”

Eleven shivers and covers his mouth, but the mirth in his eyes tells Jimin that he’s supressing a laugh. Jimin can’t help himself, and he grins at him, conspiratorially. “I bet they train up these guys on how to be the biggest dickhead. Step 1: walk like you’ve got the biggest dick in the room, despite having a micro-penis.”

Eleven gives up and barks out a small laugh, before covering his mouth again. Jimin still feels triumphant, and he giggles at the blush on the Beasts face. He giggles so much that he leans backwards too much he would have fallen off the chair, if not for a hand that caught him up in time. Still grinning hard enough to lose his eyesight, Jimin eventually calms down.

Just in time to see the most precious, bunny smile that he’d ever seen. He’d thought that Eleven’s face was just a more serious and severe face, but when he smiled, he scrunched up his nose and showed off teeth that were big, but just right for his bright smile.

In the middle of his gaping, his stomach decided to rudely interrupt Jimin’s bad joke time, by growling loud enough to startle both of them. Eleven looked down at his stomach, then at his face, before raising an eyebrow. Jimin scratched his head. “Uh… Some asshole guy made me drop my food. Haven’t eaten for… A while.” He pouted.

Eleven gasped, not quite an audible sound, before pushing on of his trays to him. Jimin shook his head. “No, please. Jin told me you need to eat a lot. I’m not going to take your food.”

Frowning, the Beast pushed it closer. Jimin shook his head and pushed it back. “Thank you for the offer, but I’m fine.”

The Beast pushed it back, looking frustrated.

“Eleven, no. Keep it.”

The Beast stood up and reached for some food, before pushing it into Jimin’s mouth. He was certainly surprised, but he could tell that Eleven meant well. The Beast raised his eyebrow at him, daring Jimin to defy him. Jimin did not and swallowed. Immediately, his hands went for the next bite, nearly inhaling the food, as his body instinctually took over. Honestly, he could see why Eleven ate so much. He felt like he could eat a horse and still have room for a cow. Eleven ate with him, making him feel less self-conscious about scarfing the food down.

When Jimin was finished he smiled gently. “Thank you, it means a lot to me.”

Eleven blushed and nodded. His eyes are soft, and he gave Jimin a look which makes him shiver. He couldn’t identify it, but it made Jimin… Happy.

As the Beast finished his food, Jimin found himself drifting to sleep, unbidden. Eleven tried to shake him awake, but Jimin stubbornly slept on. He stirred only when he felt a pair of strong arms lift him with ease. He sighed in contentment at the feeling and heard a slight chuckle from the Beast. Jimin fell deeper into sleep as the Beast slowly walked him back to his dorm, his arms swaying him gently, and a soft voice in his head lulling him back to the land of dreams.

Chapter Text

He felt a breeze on his face, gentle and soothing. As Jimin opened his eyes, he found himself again in the wild meadow. This time, the sun was setting, painting the sky in rich, warm hues, from dusky orange to a deep violet which ran across the sky. He smiled and watched as the heavens turned, bringing out stars such as he’d never seen. The multitude of twinkling lights in patterns and shapes brought out a gentle smile. He hummed though, realising that something was missing. “Jeongguk? Are you here?”

He’d expected to hear nothing, yet still found himself feeling disappointed at the discovery. He slowly sat up, and looked around, frowning. “Jeongguk?” He swore he could feel the presence of someone nearby, but not knowing where it came from. He shivered, and suddenly the meadow felt cold and unwelcoming without the man that he could never fully recall. He drew his knees up to his chest and waited. For what, he didn’t know. Until finally he heard the small shuffle of steps in overlong grass. He looked up, surprised that his eyes were burry with tears.

“Oh, hyung… I’m sorry I took so long to get here.”

Strong arms surrounded him, pulling him into a gentle hold, and he nuzzled Jimin whilst rubbing his back. Jimin whimpered and buried his head into his chest. “I was scared…”

“I know. But I’m here now. You don’t ever have to be scared while I’m here. I promised.”

“Maybe, but the moment I wake you’ll disappear.”

Jeongguk bit his lip. “I might be closer than you think, hyung. I just… I can’t talk like I want to.”

The words reminded him of something. Another world, or another life. One which Jimin had no want to return to. Not when he was here in Jeongguk’s arms. Safe and happy. Content.

“Maybe it’s better to never wake up.”

“But isn’t it better to know if it’s real?”

“This is real.”

Jeongguk smiled a blurry smile, but something about it triggered a memory. A cute bunny smile? He couldn’t make it out. “Hyung… reality may be harsh, but that’s the only place that we can truly be together. I’ll be here always. But you need to recognise me.”

“But how? What am I m-”

 

~~~

An alarm clock blared from Hoseok’s side of the room, and Jimin groaned. He wanted to throw a pillow at the sound, but was reluctant to abandon the one piece of comfort in the room. He groaned out his irritation instead, and Hoseok sighed in response. “I got it…”

Dragging himself up, he silenced the alarm and stretched, before nudging Jimin’s shoulder. “Come on, get up. We have to start training. Or whatever.” Jimin pouted and looked at him, giving him the best, puppy-dog eyes he could muster. Hoseok smirked at his efforts. “I know you’re cute, Jiminie, but I love food more than you. Let’s actually eat something.”

Jimin brightened at that. Then hummed. “Oh, wait… How did I get back last night?”

Hoseok paused. “You don’t remember coming to the room? Do you know where we are?”

Jimin nodded. “I figured it out. I woke up and decided to explore.”

Hoseok paled. “Jin told us not to leave after curfew. How late are you talking?”

Jimin bit his lip. “…Late… To be fair, I didn’t realise.”

“Well, lucky that you weren’t caught.” His hyung just rolled his shoulders, easing out the tension brought by sleeping on a hard bed. “So, you don’t remember how you got back? Sounds like someone caught you.”

“…Actually… I may have made a friend.”

A solitary eyebrow was raised, and Hoseok whistled low. “You? Making friends? I don’t think V counts.”

Jimin’s lip curled at that, amused. “Why, because he’s a Beast?”

“No, because he’s obviously in love with you. Draped all over you like that. I call crush.”

He smiled gently. “As sweet as that is, no, I wasn’t him. Although, it was a Beast.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Oh? Do t-” he cuts himself off, then smirks. “Was it… Eleven?”

The look on Jimin’s face must have answered Hoseok’s question, because he laughed uproariously at him. “What did Jin-hyung say? Something about having to hide our smitten selves?”

“And you’re not denying that he was right?”

“Why would I deny those glorious pecs? They’re practically tiddies.”

Jimin gagged. “Too much information, by a long shot. Wait, was that what you were thinking of? When he read your mind?”

“Damn straight.”

“No wonder he was blushing.”

“I know. Wasn’t he cute?” He beamed, speaking in a sing-song voice loud enough that Jimin wondered if his hyung could be heard outside.

“Please. He was just embarrassed to be around someone like you.” He rolled his eyes but can’t keep the smile off his face.”

Hoseok wriggled a bit happily before another alarm went off. Jimin grimaced whilst his hyung laughed. “That’s my, ‘seriously, Jimin, wake up’ alarm. Like it?”

“Not when I am awake.”

“Poor Jiminie. You should get up and get dressed.”

The blonde rolled his eyes at the hyped-up red-head and did as asked of him. He managed to find clothes that weren’t completely horrible. Baggy shirt and baggy pants. Not the trendy baggy, but the unfitting kind. Hoseok smiled sympathetically, and Jimin shrugged it off. “Where to? Do you know?”

“Jin showed me after you passed out.”

“You left me alone?” He gasped in mock offense, while his friend shrugged.

“Only we can get in, since we need a thumbprint…”

“…We do?”

He blinked. “Yeah, didn’t you realise that when you came back?”

A blush creeped up to his cheeks. “Maybe Eleven brought me back.”

He hummed. “Well, that’s good. Hopefully.”

They both left their room and head to the cafeteria. Hoseok was able to eat after the fight, since Jin had it set aside for both of them, and it meant that neither of them starved. They lined up for food, and Jimin noticed the immediate difference in their reception. Before they had been sizing them up, sneering and looking as though they couldn’t wait to break them in. At that moment, they seemed respectful, a few smiles, but even more fearful glances. Jimin didn’t know where Taurus was on the pecking order, but he had a feeling that he’d been pretty high up. And yet, it just felt so easy to beat him into the ground.

A nudge from Hoseok pulls him out of his thoughts, and he smiled at him. “I’m fine. Just hoping I didn’t mess up already, you know?”

Hoseok shrugged. “I think it was the right choice, for now. We’ll see what happens next.”

He nodded gently as they take their trays of food away.

They sat by themselves of a steel table further away from the main few groups of people, since Jimin wasn’t interested in being friendly right now. He was fine with Hoseok, but his nerves still felt exposed after his small meltdown. He hoped Jin wouldn’t come, though, not wanting to be asked questions.

His fears were realised when three heads appeared in the cafeteria. V looked around the room and broke into a smile when he saw them, tugging on Yoongi’s jacket and pointing at them. Suga nodded at V, giving permission, and the Beast wandered over to them. The others at the tables turned to see where he was going and gasped in shock when they realised that the two new Tamers were having a Beast willingly join them. Jimin frowned, wondering if that was the image they were meant to portray to the other Tamers.

Either way, V plonked down in a seat next to Jimin, and leaned on his shoulder. Jimin sighed out, “Hello, Five.”

The Beast beamed up at him before sitting up straight. He pointed at Jimin, then circled his thumb and index finger together, whilst tilting his head. Jimin stared for a moment, before it clicked. “Oh… Yeah, I’m fine now. Thanks for asking.”

V smiled gently in response before leaning on him again. Jimin scoffed a bit, and V looked up at him with a pout. “You know, you’ve kinda given me whiplash. You attacked me twice when we first met, and now you’re all cuddly. Are you okay?”

Hoseok gaped at Jimin. “Wait, what do you mean twice?”

V covered his mouth, supressing a giggle, before he just shrugged. And Jimin rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Fine, keep your secrets. You know, I really don’t understand why you aren’t allowed to speak.”

“For the safety of Tamers, of course.”

Jimin froze and looked over his shoulder to the Tamer who had spoken to him. He didn’t recognise her face, but she looked important, given that a lot of Tamers were hanging onto her words. She wasn’t as ugly as Taurus and his troupe, but the change wasn’t flattering on her. She had a petite frame, marred by claws that sat too heavy on her hands. She was so pale that she was nearly blue, like her veins were just under the surface. Her lips as well, looked like she was suffering from hypothermia, a shade of purple that seemed unnatural and dead. But her eyes were very alive, a shade of blue that, while brighter than Jimin’s, were closer to the blue of some drain-cleaners than Jimin had seen, rather than the sky or sea.

He realised he was staring, so he cleared his throat. “Oh? How does that work?”

She smiled, and Jimin thought that maybe she may not be a terrible person. Her eyes did seem kind, and well-intentioned. Although, V tensed up when she spoke, so he’d hold off on deciding his true impression of her. “Don’t worry, Park, you’ll be learning about it soon.”

Hoseok looked at her. “If that’s the case, then do you know where our class is?”

She nodded in affirmation. “We’ll be going to the same place. I’m one of the sub-tutors. Name’s Yang Chunhei.”

Jimin just smiled back and nodded. “I see. So we’ll be learning a lot from you.”

“And from Professor Min.”

“From Yoongi?”

A few of the people at the table gasped, and looked at V, who was ignoring them in favour of nuzzling Jimin’s shoulder. Jimin just tried not to blush at how clingy the Beast was being.

“You’re… allowed to say his name?”

Jimin frowned. “Yes, why wouldn’t we?”

“Because… Five doesn’t like strangers saying his name.”

Jimin looked down at him. “That true?”

V looked back and smiled, before shrugging, and continuing to nuzzle.

Chunhei licked her lips, a nervous gesture. “Yes, well… Five has attacked Tamers for it. He’s one of the more volatile Beasts there are. Well… Him and Eleven. At least with Five, he has obvious tells and triggers. Eleven is terrifying when he wants to be. I’m surprised they haven’t put him down.”

Jimin felt his heart plummet to his stomach at the mere thought. He trembled slightly, before answering, “I don’t know… Eleven doesn’t seem so bad.”

One of the girls beside Chunhei shakes her head. “Oh, no, don’t say that. The last time Eleven was nice to someone, he made an Incomplete Bond with them. That guy didn’t last three hours after that. And everyone knows Eleven meant to do it. People don’t die that fast if the Beast meant it to go well.”

Jimin may have felt scared, except he felt V gently scoff, and something told him that V knew what had really happened. Something that was in opposition to the Eleven he’d met. He hummed at the thought. “Well, I guess I’ll have to stay on my toes.”

A boy nodded. “I mean, we have to do that in the end. They are wild animals, after all. Even One. He acts like he isn’t, but he’s just as savage as them.”

V finally looked up at them, his brows drawn in irritation. The group promptly turn around, aside from Chunhei, who just looked worried. “Be careful, Park Jimin, Jung Hoseok.” And she turned back, talking with the others at the table, quiet.

V turned to Jimin, a sad look in his eyes. Jimin frowned back, before sighing and running a hand up to pet V’s head. “It’s okay. I still like you.” Jimin ignored the shocked gasps from other tables, reacting to the friendly action, and instead he focused on how V’s eyes lit up. If there was one thing they were right about, it’s that he was very expressive about how he was feeling.

Suga trudged over with two trays of food, one filled with meat, and the other not. V frowns and looked up at him. He sighed. “They didn’t have your food ready, so they gave me two. I tried to separate it, but if you’d prefer to wait it out, then we can.”

V looked resigned, but slowly took the food and starts to eat. Jimin frowned. “Wait, they put it together? I thought he couldn’t eat meat?”

Suga nodded. “He can’t. I’ll bet this is further punishment. He can’t even handle the cross-contamination. And they know that.”

“But he was already punished.”

“Not really. This is part of it.”

Hoseok glared at the people serving the food. “So, what, they think that they ca-”

“Yes, they can. If a Beast is not behaving, he is punished for however long someone wishes for them to be punished. V knows that.” The words are cold and empty, and Jimin saw straight through them, to the deep frustration that they hold. Hoseok took the hint and finished his food.

Jin waltzed over to them, a small smile. “You both are starting training today! How exciting! I remember when Suga was a wee young Tamer, just growing into his new role, and starting his own journey. And now, here he is, passing on the torch.” He pretended to wipe away a tear, and sighed. “I’m so glad that I get to be around to see you all through the process to becoming full Tamers.”

Suga looked at the doctor in disgust, while V grinned at them, despite no longer eating the food. Hoseok laughed fully. “Don’t worry, Amma, we’ll make you proud.”

“Amma?! What do you take me for, Hoseok-ah, some housewife that has nothing better to do that dote on children? I’m just saying that I’m happy to see you progressing, you took it too far! And how can I be an Amma with these shoulders. They could carry you all over this tower without difficulty!” Each word is emphasised with a passionate hand gesture, which just caused both V and then Jimin to burst into giggles. Hoseok held up his hands in surrender, but his smile didn’t waver. Even Suga smirked at the antics, and Hoseok tried to apologise to the steamroller that Jin was.

As the cafeteria began to empty out, Jin sighed, having lectured Hoseok into the ground. “I suppose I should take you ungrateful kids to class. I think they’ll be talking about Beast biology.”

Jimin smiled. “Some answers, then.”

Suga shrugged. “You’d get more from One.”

Jin smiled, a bit thinner than before. “It’s answers from our Research department. So, a bit more reliable.”

Suga shrugged. “Sure.”

He rolled his eyes in return before beaming at the two. “Shall we go then?”

 

~~~

The moment they walked into the room, Jimin was put into a bad mood. There had been loud talking before, but as Hoseok and Jimin entered, it fell silent. Then the whispering began. It wasn’t as though Jimin hadn’t been in this situation before, always the odd one out in classes. He just hoped that a class full of mostly adults would be more mature than prepubescents. Well, not today…

A short man stood at the front, no evidence of mutation on him, so Jimin assumed that he, like Jin, was a natural man. He smiled at them both. “Ah, Mr Park, Mr Jung. A pleasure to have your acquaintance. Please sit here at the front. A majority of the lecture will be directed to you both, to get you up to speed with the rest of the class here.”

Jimin smiled as he was meant to. “That’s very considerate of you, Professor Min.”

The man looked chuffed. “I see you’ve already been informed of your teacher’s name. It must mean I’m doing a good job if you’re already hearing my praises.” He preened under the attention, and the others in the class looked as though the agreed. Jimin’s eyes flicked to Hoseok, who smiled at the teacher. But Jimin knew his Hobi-hyung well enough to see the cracks in his smile. Jimin would have them too, if he hadn’t been trained out of it.

Professor Min clears his throat. “Now, Beast biology is mostly similar to humans, and it has been suspected that Beasts are just mutated and then refined forms of humans, evolved from a strain that existed since the Old-World Wars around a three-hundred years ago. While there are different sub-species, we have identified certain characteristics which are the same no matter the breed.”

He pulled up a graph, with a few body parts circled. “For example, did you know that some male Beasts can be impregnated? Just as some female Beasts can impregnate others. This is not a universal characteristic, although some subspecies tend to display more hermaphroditic tendencies.”

Jimin raised his brows at the thought. Meanwhile a student must have raised their hand, as the Professor called on them.

“Isn’t it true that one of the Beasts at the facility bears that characteristic?”

“Why yes, Number Five does, although we have sterilised them all to prevent any kind of mating practices. They are working animals, and we don’t need to observe that aspect from them.”

Hoseok gripped the side of his chair, paling slightly, and Jimin just tried to breathe through it. His hyung knew how much Jimin hated this subject. Controlling what could and couldn’t be born. This class would be hell, he decided. Still, he had to play along. He raised his hand, and the professor smiled.

“Yes, Jimin?”

He preferred Mr Park at this point.

“Sir, I asked a question of my peers in the cafeteria, and I didn’t receive an answer. May I ask now, or should I later?”

“Now if fine, especially if it might pertain to the lecture.”

“Why aren’t Beasts allowed to talk.”

“Ah, well there are a few reasons. The first, and most important reason is that we do not want our Tamers to mistake those creatures for humans. Or even other Tamers. By stripping them of this ability, it allows us to distance ourselves from creatures that bear similar features. But, in the end, they are not like us.”

At that moment, a girl walked into the room, and Jimin recognised the little patch on his neck. Another Beast. This one had blue-black hair, that shimmered like it was covered in glitter. As he looked harder, he realised that the skin of this Beast seemed almost scaled, translucent. She seemed almost like a fish in that way, especially with the little slits around her neck, like little gills. She was taller, slender, and she carried herself regally, airily. Despite the alien features, they suited her, but she seemed shy amongst all the Tamers. She walked to the front and bowed. Professor Min smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Welcome to the class, Nine. We were discussing why you are not allowed to talk, unless given explicit instructions.” She nodded, her eyes dulling at the statement.

“The second reason is for Tamer’s safety. Nine, say one syllable.”

She looked at him and looked out to the audience.

“Yes.”

The response was immediate. Jimin felt all his muscles relax and his head fogged up in light of the sweet voice. It felt like honey through his head, and it reminded him of the Parasite in his head before. Except where there had been fear, this felt like a peak into heaven. He was just glad it wasn’t all encompassing like the Parasite had been. Hoseok started giggling softly beside him. The others in the class, however, all looked as though they were in a type of pain and were twisting uncomfortably in their seats. The professor had placed his hands over his ears in time, but even he looked mildly effected, wincing and distressed. Nine, meanwhile, looked embarrassed, and wilted at the reactions. After a while, Jimin managed to pull together a series of words that seemed to make sense.

“Do they all have that ability?”

“They do, although Bonded Beasts seem to only affect their partners, unfortunately for Suga.”

Hoseok, like Jimin, manged to get out some words. “But One doesn’t do this.”

“Ah, yes. The gland responsible for the sound is besides their larynx, which causes them to have a strange type of reverb on their natural voice. This causes great discomfort, and thus acts as a defence mechanism to others. We found a way to safely extract the gland, but it is a very difficult process, and the glands grow back. As such, it’s only feasible to have One as the mouthpiece for Beast related information. Other than that, it is easier to keep them silenced. Besides, the implants on their neck work if they speak too much, so they will be punished if they attempt to use them against us.”

Jimin frowned, turning through the information through his head. Hoseok must have came to the same conclusion, that they were somehow immune to the negative aspects of their voice. But they had been affected. Nine had certainly noticed, and she was staring at both of them, an expectant look on her face, even though it was subtle.

She was interrupted from her staring, when the professor began to turn her around like a sack of meat, showing off all different aspects of her for the class to dissect with their eyes. Like the density of muscles which made them stronger, or a slightly larger ribcage for better breath control.

Jimin tried to focus, but all he could see was how downcast Nine’s expression was. All he could hear were impersonal, clinical questions regarding the Beast. And all he could think was that they were all so warped. If he thought the average Zone was bad, he’d never seen anything like this. Of course, everyone in the city-dome understood that the world beyond the dome was horrific. Everyone had to follow the laws to survive. Be good.

Jimin had always been terrible at that.

The class ended, and he couldn’t be any happier. He stood up and Hoseok with him, before dragging him out with him. The professor smiled and waved as they left.

They didn’t say anything, as Jimin walked them to the elevator and punched in the floor for the Beasts. Just as the door closed, Nine slipped inside. She flinched when she saw the Tamers, but smiled, obviously relieved when she realised who they were. Jimin smiled at her. “You know, your voice is beautiful…”

She blinked in shock. Then blushed, the colour slightly scattering thanks to the scales, which were more obvious up close. She put her hands to her cheeks and smiled brightly at them both. Hoseok beamed back. “This might seem rude… But I really want to touch your skin. It looks pretty.”

She preened at the compliment and offered an arm. Hoseok gently touched it and blinked. “It feels… soft. I wasn’t expecting that at all. It’s like little individual pieces of silk.” Nine giggled slightly at the compliment, her blush getting brighter, as the doors opened to the floor. She wandered out and saw they were following. She put up her hands, as if asking if she could help.

Hoseok looked at Jimin, probably reading his mind like One could. “The Library. I don’t think that we remember the way yet.”

She nodded and walked them there. Along the way, she let Jimin touch her skin, as well as her hair, which was somehow softer than her skin. He assured her that she should be proud, and she looked like she was. When they found the right door, she waved them off, smiling happily at them, before running back down the corridors. They stepped in, and Jimin sighed. “Privacy. Thank fuck.”

“What the hell was that?”

Jimin blinked, worried for a moment, before realising what his hyung was actually angry at. “Some bullshit, of course. Human history is littered with us believing in our own superiority. Why would it be any different here?”

“But sterilising and surgically modifying sentient creatures? Because they don’t act how we want? That’s-”

“Are you both okay?”

They jump at One’s deep voice. Hoseok relaxed for a second, before tears started to gather in his eyes. The Beast’s eyes widen, and he rushed forward. “Hobi-hyung, what’s wrong?” He placed his hands in Hoseok’s, answering his own question, and he looks struck.

Hoseok sniffed. “Did… did you know they were going to do that to you?”

One paused, trying to sort through something, maybe his own emotions, or Hoseok’s. “I… didn’t realise at first. But I did after they kept bringing me back.”

Jimin shivered at that and looked down. “Is it true, that your voices are meant to hurt?”

One’s gaze was solemn as he looked at Jimin. “What do you think?”

He hung his head. “I think that you can’t control it, but that people perceive it differently.”

“You’re almost correct. We only gain control when we no longer need it.”

“Which is when you Bond…”

“Actually, it’s when we mate.”

Hoseok tilted his head at that. “Jimin said he’d heard Five’s voice. He doesn’t do that. Who’s his mate?”

“It’s Suga isn’t it?” Jimin interrupted, the pieces falling into place for him.

“…Yes… Bonds are… strange things. Not all Perfect Bonds are Mated Bonds, but theirs is one. If you are perfect matches, then you mate.”

“One… Just tell us honestly… How do your kind choose Bonds?”

“I told you, when we-”

“No… Why do you? The people in the cafeteria were saying that Eleven chose to Bond with someone, and he made them die as a result. Is it true?”

One sighed and then looked around.

“Let’s take this up to my quarters. I don’t want to be overheard.”

Jimin glanced at Hoseok, who nodded back, and they followed One up four levels of stairs.

Neither expected that One’s room was a near labyrinth of books strewn about. There were clean clothes and dirty clothes strewn about and they couldn’t see the bed from the entrance. But the walls were covered in shiny gems that looked embedded into the wall. They cast lights onto the rest of the room from the glittering, causing a flurry of colours to surround the messy room. It looked like something Jimin would imagine from an ancient wizard, like the ones he’d read about in old books. Messy, but fantastic.

Hoseok, the clean freak he was, pouted a tad at the messiness, but even he was distracted by the rainbows weaving through the air. One blushed. “Sorry for the mess. I’ve been doing better, but… I guess I’m not doing as well as I thought.”

Jimin chuckled. “It’s fine. It’s nicer than our room.”

Hoseok walked to a wall and placed his hand on the gem. He cooed. “It’s warm! Like a little space heater!”

One smiled at him. “It’s a bit of my Ability manifested. I can’t really stretch myself here, so I have to find small ways to let it out. Besides, it’s pretty.”

“This is you?”

One blinked. “I, uh, guess it is.”

Hoseok beamed back at him. “No wonder it’s perfect.”

The blush on One’s face intensified and he coughed a bit, trying to hide a laugh. He took them further in to his bed and desk area. Just enough room for three people. Jimin seated himself in the chair, while Hoseok practically cuddled up to One on the bed. One, although embarrassed at the attention, didn’t push his hyung away.

“Bonds, for us, are extremely powerful. I meant it when I said that there are two main types of Bonds. But they’re more complicated than simply good or bad. It’s not just about being Bonded, it’s about what type of connection the two people have. For example, if I found a compatible person, then I could have a completely platonic Bond. And Bonds aren’t something new to us, they’re only new to your people. Incomplete Bonds are new to us all, since we’d never willing do that. And yes, it’s because they can be fatal if one partner isn’t strong enough for the other. There is only one true way to find a Tamer and make a Bond.”

“Wait, so you already had Tamers out of the domes?”

“If a Beast is particularly strong, sometimes they need another Beast with a much weaker ability to be their Bonded mate, which is what we call Tamers. Your kind twisted the words to mean something else.”

Hoseok hummed, “Then how did you chose your partner?”

“For a Beast to choose a partner, they have to be able to sing to them with their full voice, and for that partner to react positively.”

Jimin blinked. “But you’ve all been made mute.”

“You see our dilemma. They don’t realise that our voice only hurts those who would be terrible partners. Something you wouldn’t know about Jin, is that he thinks that our voices are sweet. But you’d know if you’d found a Perfect Bond, like V and Suga have.”

Scooting closer to One, somehow, Hoseok tilted his head, curious. “How?”

One smiled gently at him. “It’s when our very Ability reacts to the presence of another person. The moment V saw Suga, he literally burst into flames. The Tamers punished him heavily, but it wouldn’t calm down until Suga went and stroked his hair. Then no-one could separate them, even though they punished V often for not being obedient to others. Once we find our Mate, we can never abandon them…”

Jimin noticed the way One’s eyes flicked up to Hoseok, so quick that his hyung didn’t notice.

“One, answer me this,” Jimin queried, “have you ever had that reaction?”

The Beast looked afraid of answering, but the gentle hand on his from Hoseok made him shiver. “I… Ah… Y-yes.”

“Then why haven’t you pushed to Bond? Get out of this library, maybe.”

The Beast looked hopeful for a second before his eyes became downcast. “I… I’m not enough for h- them… I want to take care of them like they deserve. I can’t do that in my body. Not anymore.”

“That’s bullshit.”

The outburst from Hoseok shocked them both, and without warning, Hoseok pulls One’s face in his hands. “You’re worth more than anyone in this entire building. They tried to pull you down, yet you’ve obviously made a bastion in this place for your own kind. I don’t know who wouldn’t take you, as long as they were in their right mind. Because you’re amazing, One.”

He trembled and tried to look away. “Hoseok, don’t.”

Jimin noticed the tremble seemed to affect a few books beside the bed.

“I’m serious, One. I’ll find that person right now, and force you to be together.”

“Hoseok-”

One was no longer trembling, but Jimin was sure that some of the books were moving.

“Don’t cut me off, One. I mean it.”

“Hoseok-hyung,” Jimin cut in, “I think you should drop it.”

“No, I won’t, he’s beautiful and amazing, and he needs to see it himself.”

As he spoke the words, suddenly they all were weightless, and they, along with the rest of the room, drifted up into the air. One had his eyes closed tight, shivering under the praise, and unaware of what was happened.

Hoseok gripped onto him. “One, what’s happening?”

One opened his eyes, gasped, and made a motion with his hand, which set them and the room back down. Hoseok gaped, then looked at him. “That was you? That’s so co-”

“Hey, One. I think you’ve had your confession from Hobi-hyung. You should just propose Bonding now.”

Jimin gave Hoseok a slightly sadistic grin, while One seemed to flounder at the words. Hoseok, a bit slow sometimes, finally clicked. “Wait… You said your ability plays up when you’re around your mate…”

“Please don’t say it, Hoseok-hyung.”

But even though One was trying to deny it, Jimin saw him melt at Hoseok’s smile. “Is it really me, One?”

He shivered under the sunny smile, before leaning into him. “…It…is…”

Hoseok crowed out, overjoyed, before pulling the Beast up, and kissing his lips, something neither One nor Jimin seemed prepared for. Everything levitated for a moment, before One pulled himself together. As soon as his feet touched the ground, Jimin sighed “I’m out”, and he ran for the door.

Once outside, he breathed out slowly, trying to wrap his head around everything.

“You look confused…”

He squeaked and jerked towards Suga, who had a truly shit-eating grin if Jimin had ever seen one. V hung off his arm, and the scene reminded him that Hoseok was probably in One’s room trying to get it on. He’d be surprised if the Beast could resist, because when Hobi saw something he wanted, he went and got it. Jimin sighed at the two. “So… One and Hoseok are having fun in that room.”

Suga blinked in shock. V, meanwhile, held out his hand, expectant.

The Tamer rolled his eyes, and handed over a pack of… gum?

“V bet that they were a Mate Bond. I thought they were just Perfect. Serves me right for betting against the expert.”

Jimin, officially confused, slid down the door. “Spectacular.”

V walked forward and offered his hand. Suga smiles. “Let’s chat, kid.”

Jimin groaned. “I didn’t even find out about Eleven…”

The confusion on V’s face is short lived. He leaned into his Tamer’s space, before whispering something to Suga. The Tamer nodded. “Come on, Jimin. I’ll tell you about Eleven. Since you’re so interested.” He smirked. “And I won’t start making out with V, no matter how tempting.”

Jimin looked up at them, seeing that V had come back and offered his hand again.

Grimacing, he decided to take it.

Chapter Text

Jimin wasn’t sure of what he expected of Suga and V’s room, but it was a lot more boring that he had hoped it would be. After seeing One’s bejewelled room, he thought that maybe V had painted the walls in flames, or something else. But it was very similar to the room he an Hoseok shared. The only differences were the double bed pushed to one side, a desk that sat perpendicular to the wall, and two hammocks above the bed. Other than that, it was just like any other military dorm. A disappointment on multiple levels.

Suga looked at him and smirked. “Something tells me that you don’t like what you see.”

He smirked back. “I don’t know… Have you seen One’s room?”

The laugh he got in response from both of them answered his question well. Suga closed the door and relaxed immediately. “Welcome to the area where V can talk. The only approved place. We aren’t meant to bring people here. I mean, the only one who comes is Jin, so that rule rarely applies. Still, this is out place. If we stay here and away from most of the others, we won’t get in anyone’s way.”

V smiled and went to hug Jimin from behind. “Welcome to my den.” Jimin shivered, having forgotten how deep the Beast’s voice was. V giggled at the reaction. “Already getting nervous, huh? That’s probably the right reaction.”

Suga wandered to his desk and sat down, crossing his legs and securing them with his hands. “Well.. Get comfortable. We may be here for a while.”

Jimin tried to move forward, but the Beast on his back wasn’t budging. He tried to break free, but was met with little giggles, and her couldn’t justify upsetting the Beast. He sighed. “Suga… Your Beast is being mean…”

V whined. “Am not! See?” And he picked Jimin up like he was nothing. Jimin squawked at him and hit at his arms in an attempt to be released, but it just made the Beast smile more. “Yoongi, he’s even lighter than you! Smaller too…” He seemed mesmerised by the fact.

Suga sighed. “V, sweetie, I know you’re excited with your new friend, but we do need to talk.”

With the words from Suga, V relinquished Jimin, who went and sat on the bed, a bit ruffled. The Beast walked to Suga, before jumping into his arms, causing the Tamer to quickly sit up and catch him. V grinned. “You caught me”.

“Always, V.”

The answering smile nearly blinded Jimin, and V hid his face in the crook of Suga’s neck. Suga, likewise, seemed to melt into him, as though he’d forgotten about their guest.

They truly were mates. There was intense love in both of their eyes, and something about how they turned their bodies around each other made him think of flowers turning towards the sun, or the moon rotating around the Earth. Natural and effortless. Yoongi rubbed slow circles onto V’s back, and the Beast sighed under his ministrations, and clung onto him.

The moment was interrupted when Suga looked up, remembering that they weren’t alone, and he smiled sheepishly. “Sorry… We’re not used to others here. We’re usually clingier than this.”

Jimin just shrugged. “You didn’t just see your best friend shove his tongue down someone’s throat a few moments ago. This is more like watching an old married couple. Kinda cute.”

V smirked and looked at him. “An old couple, huh?”

Suga paused for a moment. “Hey, Jimin. You’ve got something on your face…” But rather than pointing at anything, he tugged his bracelet. Jimin straightened at the reminder. “Oh, thank you, hyung.” He’d wished for an open conversation but being monitored made it much more difficult. There were be lines that couldn’t be crossed.

The elder sighed. “Okay, kid. You wanted to know some answers. Shoot.”

Jimin thought hard about what he actually wanted to know. It was one thing to have queries, but there was a lot to know. And he was finding out that nearly all the information was biased. Yet he had to know both stories. One, the truth, and the other the accepted truth. Even if he asked all his questions to the couple, he’d have to compartmentalise what he learned away, and pretend that he was scared of Eleven, like the others. Even though he surely was not. Or at least not act in an unacceptable way.

“The girls were saying that Eleven purposefully Bonded with someone, just to kill them, as he knew it would be incomplete. Is that true.”

V looked mildly ashamed and nodded. “…The boy he Bonded with was… cruel to him. To all of us, except myself. He never accepted that Beasts didn’t want to Bond with him, and would punish us for existing around him.”

“But that’s not a reason for punishment…”

“No, it’s not. But the higher ups didn’t stop him. If anything, they were delighted that us ‘dogs’ were being put in our place. Unfortunately for them, Eleven is… strong in his spirit. When he figured out that he could punish him back, he took the risk. He knew that he’d be heavily punished for purposefully attacking a Tamer and causing their death. But he knew that the alternative was all of us living under more fear than we must. So, he Bonded with him.”

Suga absently rubbed along V’s arm, pouting in thought. “I think that even Eleven was surprised at how fast he died. Jin and I theorise that he’s much stronger than the average Beast, and hence his Ability just ate through this guy. I’m not sure how he was captured in the first place, if he’s that powerful.”

“The Tamers were terrified, of course,” V continued, “and they seriously couldn’t conceive why a Beast would do such a thing. After all, we’d said that Bonds are precious. They are. He was just desperate.”

Jimin bit his lip. “So, the Tamers think what he did was a protective measure?”

V shook his head. “No, you misunderstand. There’s no protective measure in their eyes. There’s only a Beast being aggressive and being disobedient. Protective measure insinuates that we’re being wronged… We, surely, are not being wronged, you see.” He rolled his eyes for emphasis.

Pulling up his knees, Jimin nodded in comprehension. “So, Eleven is now considered dangerous?”

“Essentially. There are a few blacklisted Beasts, that you have to be careful around. Well, you can always attempt to Bond with them, but they have a reputation for being rebellious, and they still don’t fully bow to their Tamer overlords.” Suga shrugged.

“Right… I think that’s all I need to know about that situation for now… But can I ask another question?”

V gasped. “You just did!”

Jimin paused, before rolling his eyes, and continuing his sentence, to the amusement of Suga. “Jin said that you both had an unorthodox Bond. Meanwhile, One said that V burst into flames when he met Suga. What actually happened?”

Jimin certainly didn’t expect the brazen Beast to blush furiously at the question. Suga cleared his throat. “Oh, that. Yeah… V was… very receptive to me.”

V whined and buried his face in his hands. “Yoongi, don’t. It’s so embarrassing.”

With a smirk, Jimin chuckled. “Oh? You think it’s too much? I think that means you should share even more.” He grinned as the Beast squirmed.

“Fine,” V pouted, “but only because you’re Jimin.”

“That makes a difference?”

“Yup.”

He chuckled and settled back onto the bed.

“So, did One tell you how Beasts know their mates?”

“Uh, your Ability recognises them by going ballistic?”

“Kinda. It’s a full reaction from our entire being.”

“Wait, first… How did you know that One is meant to have a mate Bond?”

V grinned. “You know how he took us to the second floor to sit?”

“Yes.”

“That’s because he knocked over a lot of bookcases on the first floor when he saw Hoseok. He used his ability to cover it over, but he wasn’t able to fool me. I heard a huge crash. And then Hoseok flirted with him. I thought One was going to keel over. He kept it together well.”

“Better than you did?”

He whined and went over to Jimin and pushed him back onto the bed, before straddling him. “Are you going to keep being mean?”

Jimin felt a small thrill of fear run up his spine, but Suga seemed relaxed from where Jimin could see him. So, he smirked in response. “Only if you keep making it so easy to tease you.”

V pouted harder and fell beside him onto the bed. “I cannot argue with that, and it annoys me.”

“Did you want to hear the story?” Suga chuckled out.

Jimin sat up and looked down at V. “You were saying?”

“…So, when I saw Suga, I couldn’t exactly hide what happened. See, One can do mind things. He’s strong, but not great at trickery, which is why he couldn’t crack me. My Ability manifested suddenly, the moment I saw my Yoongi. It’s like the air was knocked out of my lungs, and everything in me wanted to get his attention. And so, fire. At first it was my hair. Then my skin. Then my clothes burnt away because they weren’t fireproof. And when they started to take him away, the fire grew. Funnily enough, they started to inject me, but I was literally running so hot it was burning away fast enough that I wasn’t quite crippled by the pain. So, I try getting closer to him and they tried to keep me back, while escorting this innocent new Tamer as far from the crazy Beast as possible.

“They managed to isolate me in this room, actually. No one could even walk near it because it was like a furnace. And so, my Ability went wild. I tried to focus it…” He nodded at Suga. The Tamer stood up and flicked a switch on the wall.

Jimin gaped. There had been a hologram on the walls to normalise the appearance. What V had done was insane. The metal had melted into shapes and sculptures. The walls seemed to be inscribed with a different language, and they all still glowed as though they were still burning. Holes in the wall looked like they were filled with pieces of magma, so hot that they were white, yet they didn’t drip down, perpetually hanging. There were pieces moulded out from the ground and the ceiling like cave formations, but shaped like flowers and vines. The petals in particular with lit with tiny flames that looked were coloured and bathed the room in sweet colours. Little flames danced at the top of the room acting as proper lights for the room, as they spun and bounced off the wall. Even the bed seemed to have warped under the fire, and had been changed to a fine lattice work that seemed like it knotted over each other in complicated yet beautiful patterns. The rest of the furniture seemed out of place in the midst of such enchantment. Bolts had been hammered into the wall for the hammocks, and the desk looked dingy next to the metal-flowers.

“V… It’s beautiful.”

He blinked at the awe-struck compliment, before blushing profusely. “Thank you, Jimin. Not many think so?”

“How? Are they blind?”

V shrugged and moved in to lean on his shoulder. “This is why I like you. You’re a real person.”

Suga nodded slowly. “I didn’t know what to make if the whole situation. V was definitely strong, and the rest of the staff had no clue on how to handle him. Jin, who was my doctor even then, had said that he’d never seen the sullen and shy Five literally explode. He was the type to just do as he was told, no matter what. A crybaby, even.”

“I find that hard to believe.” Jimin scoffed, and V chuckled.

“But he was. The fight had been stripped of him. He followed orders because he had nothing else. I met him when he was at his worst. And I firmly believe I still haven’t seen him at his best…”

Jimin looked at him and saw the truth in Suga’s eyes, but he also sensed that he wouldn’t say any more about it. “So, what did you do?”

“When I learned it was an irregular reaction, I went to the Beast expert.”

“One.”

“Exactly. He told me that it was possible that V wanted a Bond with me, and it was his way of signalling it. One I knew that, I convinced Jin to sneak me to him. I didn’t know what Beasts really were at that point, but I figured that if he was trying to Bond with me, he wouldn’t kill me. Jin couldn’t get very close to the place, but I was able to walk right in.”

“And he found me…” V smiled gently, gazing deep into Suga’s eyes. “We Bonded that day. We were meant to do it publicly, so the Director could deny or accept the Bond, as a way of making sure the Tamer had enough training for a Beast. But we couldn’t wait. It’s part of the reason why she hates us, and she rarely lets us interact with other Tamers.”

Jimin blinked. “Then why are you allowed near Hobi-hyung and me?”

Suga hummed. “Actually, that’s a funny story. When you and Hoseok were brought in for spore extraction… A Beast tried to… uh… attack you. Sort of. We don’t know what happened. The moment it saw you, it started running for you, and the electricity in the room started to go haywire, producing sparks and even some full-on bolts. They even blew the power for the full building, which is insane. V stopped him, and so the Director gave us both the mission to protect you, since she sees it as a direct attack from a Beast onto a very promising Tamer.”

Tilting his head in confusion, he ran his fingers through his hair and asked, “But why would it do that?”

“Well, that’s simple, it’s bec-”

“Because,” Suga cut in over V, who looked confused, “you’re probably a strong enough Tamer that it decided you were a good Bond candidate. But it would have overwhelmed you, since you hadn’t even had the change occur to you. Some Beasts can be aggressive about their choices, but you should wait, no matter how much they badger you.”

“Unlike you both.”

“Definitely. We didn’t do it right, and now the Director watches us like a hawk. Don’t be like us.”

“What about Hobi-hyung?”

“One won’t initiate the Bond. Trust me. He’s a very responsible person.”

A thought ticks at the back of his head. “…Electric Ability. Like external abilities… Weren’t You, One and Eleven the only ones that could do that?”

Suga hummed. “Correct.”

“It almost sounds like the Beasts Ability went ballistic when he saw me…”

“Probably.”

The idea formed in his head unbidden. Eleven had a reaction to him. Which was ridiculous. There was no reason for it. Suga was right, after all. It was an attack. Not something for him to think about, other than to find ways to protect himself in case it happened again. The other reason should be place away. An illogical assumption, and not one Jimin wanted to deal with. HE shoved the thought aside before it could overwhelm him.

“Were you allowed to tell me all this?”

Suga snorts. “This is all information that any Tamer could access if they spent any time in the library. It’s fairly out in the open. The difference is that you want to know. That’s really all there is to it.”

Inhaling slowly, he processed that. “That explains a lot. Thank you for all the answers.”

“But you didn’t ask more about the re-”

“V, stop. He’s heard all he needs to know.”

The Beast looked like he was ready to argue, but one stern look from Suga’s face silenced him.

Jimin felt uncomfortable, as the couple seemed to have a war in their minds. He stood, no longer able to cope with the uncomfortable atmosphere. “Thank you again. I should head out now. In case Hoseok comes back. I hope we get to talk soon.”

V looked despondent, like he didn’t want Jimin to leave, but Suga stood, and allowed him to go.

Jimin bowed, feeling formal all of a sudden, before he bolted down the hallways. That thought kept ticking in the back of his head. And no matter what he did, it kept coming back. He felt the panic squeeze up his throat, choking him in the process as the thought followed him. Hounding him and reminding him that maybe it was true.

But it couldn’t be. He couldn’t hold onto that hope. The only thing that he needed was his hyung. Everything else had an expiry date. And there were days when he believed everything did. These new friends? They wouldn’t be around forever. The possibility of something more than just stupid Park Jimin? It would never be a reality.

Him having someone as a Bond?

Inconceivable.

He felt his hands twitch up to his hair, nervously running his hands through the strands.

He needed to get away. Do something.

There was a gym somewhere. A workout. It’s what he needed. Take his mind off of this.

Don’t think too hard, Park Jimin. It’s not what you’re good for.

Who had said that to him again?

It didn’t matter.

 

~~~

The moment Jimin left, V turned to him growled. “What the hell was that? Why didn’t you tell him? Eleven’s his Mate Bond!”

“I know, V, but it’s not that simple.”

“Screw not that simple, Yoongi. They’re a match!”

“I know, V.”

“No, you think you know. But you don’t get it! It hurts to be away from our mates when we recognise them. It is agony!”

Yoongi stood abruptly. “Dammit, V, I know!”

V flinched and looked up at his Tamer. He was so confused, and that confusion was flowing into their Bond, along with hurt and anger. Yoongi tried to hard to soothe that feeing in his partner whenever possible, but when his own temper flared, it just pushed them both under. He took a deep breath and sat down slowly, before he opened his arms, quietly asking V to come to him.

And even in that state of mind, the Beast would never refuse him. He ran to him and immediately cuddled in close, their Bond thrumming with affection, even with the anxious undertone. Yoongi stroked his hair tenderly, savouring the feeling of his soft waves. He nuzzled his cheek, before kissing it gently. The action caused the tension to melt out of V’s overheating body. Whenever his Beast felt anything too strongly, his Ability picked up, ready to attack, or to show his happiness. Yoongi just comforted him, wanting nothing more than to go with his whims, and throw caution to the wind. However, Yoongi was aware of something V could never understand. A feeling that Beasts seemed incapable of.

Self-loathing.

When he’d seen Jimin in the hospital room, he thought he had great news for the confused boy. But one look in his eyes made him think of his V when they’d first met.

Scared. Broken. Almost empty.

The only real life he’d seen was when Hoseok had burst into the room. Even then, Yoongi felt that maybe Jimin didn’t allow himself to feel anything too strong. He only truly felt emotions when he couldn’t work through them and dull them, which caused him to finally break down. Just like the ring. He’d become so angry that it overwhelmed him, and then he shut down. Jin had never been so panicked as he did with the catatonic Tamer, even though Hoseok informed him that it wasn’t very rare for Jimin to break down like this. A strong person, but when his defences were broken through, he collapsed.

“V… I know you want to help them both. But Jimin… He’s not ready for this.”

V pulled back, his eyes tearing up. Yoongi hushed him softly, wiping away a tear, and continuing to stroke his face. “Why? Shouldn’t he be happy to find someone who would do anything for him?”

Yoongi smiled. “I know I was. I bet Hoseok will be when he and One actually Bond. But Jimin isn’t ready for that kind of connection. Think about it, what is our Bond like?’

A relaxed and affectionate smiled bloomed on his lovely features. “It’s full of us, and everything that makes us who we are.”

“And what would happen if I couldn’t stand myself?”

“That’s silly. You’re my perfect Yoongi…”

“I know… But what if I didn’t understand that?”

“Then I’ll tell you! My perfect Yoongi!” He giggled and leaned in to nuzzle him and shifted to straddle him.

“What if I couldn’t be told.”

“I’d make you listen?”

“What if that made me hate you?”

He pulled back. “You hate me?” Yoongi could feel him check their Bond with his Ability, and after confirming how much his Tamer loved him, V looked even more confused.

Chuckling, he shook his head. “No, my V… This is hypothetical.”

The Beast scoffed. “You humans, always preparing for silly things. You should let things run their course, not plan for impossibilities.”

Yoongi dropped his hands down to V’s hips, and the Beast looked satisfied with their placement.

“You’re right, of course. But that hypothetical is how Jimin feels right now. Having a Bond would only amplify his current fears. It would eat him out from the inside. It wouldn’t be Eleven’s Ability that would kill them, but Jimin himself. And he would take down his Beast with him.”

V shivered. “So, I should also tell him how good he is. Or hug Jimin so he always feels happy, and starts to stand himself.”

“It doesn’t work like that, V. Only Eleven can help him. But we can’t push Jimin. He’ll sooner self-combust than allow others to help him.”

He huffed and pulled closer to Yoongi. “Then I’m glad my Tamer is not stupid enough to think he’s unworthy of me.”

Yoongi sighed and held him closer, pressing them together in ways that burned through them both. V bit down on his lip to supress a moan. “I’m glad my Beast never lets me get like that…”

V’s eyes burned with a familiar light, one that made Yoongi respond in kind. “Tamer… We should rest.”

“Absolutely, my Beast.”

They’d done this so often now. Used words to indicate sleep. Made sure to stay silent afterwards. If the Director knew what they were doing, then V would be taken away, and they’d both be ‘instructed’ on how to be a proper pair. Like she knew what the hell she was talking about.

Yoongi picked up V, and began to kiss up his neck, before finally plunging his tongue into the waiting mouth of his partner. V shuddered, holding back moans and gasps, and Yoongi felt him harden against his stomach. He reacted to V like he always did, the arousal in their Bond impossible to ignore. They ripped clothes away from each other, and Yoongi continued to worship his gorgeous mate, with hands, lips, and tongue. His Beast never need prep, his body ready and willing for him. As they made love, as passionate as they could be, they never made a sound. Not a pant of exertion, nor a moan from the intense pleasure they felt through them.

Even as V finished, his only sound was a solitary sigh, that wouldn’t pick up suspicion. Yoongi too, held everything in, despite how blissful he felt between his love’s legs. V reached up and pulled him into his arms, sated and tired.

Yoongi kissed him languidly, as words and pet names spun through his head. His beautiful phoenix. His tiger. His love.

And the one he could never say. Couldn’t even think, for fear of saying it out loud.

His Taehyung.

 

~~~

Jimin managed to walk to the Tamer gym and set out for a normal workout routine. He was quickly disappointed. Muscles he would have killed for in Zone 2, now made the machines useless. He was too strong for any resistance on the cardio equipment. He ploughed through every weights variation he could find, nearly snapping a bar bell in half in his effort to find real weight.

Desperate, he asked a Tamer to take him to the Beast gym, since Jin had mentioned he may need it. No one gave any indication to him, thinking he was overexaggerating his strength. It wasn’t until he punched straight through a highly reinforced sandbag, that they finally took him up a few levels, into a room with much bigger equipment.

Mostly it looked the same, so Jimin got to work. Placing in much heavier weights, he grunted in approval as he finally felt his muscles work properly. He went to work on his sets, trying to work himself and get to know his new body personally, before Jin took up any tests.

Despite how hard he was pushing himself, he just couldn’t work himself down. He felt himself getting closer to a panic attack, and he knew he’d have to go through the breathing exercises his hyung had taught him. But he’d never had to do them without his hyung guiding him though it. He used to call him when he needed. Hobi always took care of him. But he was away.

Stupid thing to be worried about, Jimin. He can have a life outside of you.

He whimpered, feeling the panic come back.

That was when he heard the door open. He whipped his head around, not expecting anyone, even if that was a foolish thought.

A surprised Eleven stood at the door. Despite him being partially the cause of his panic, the sight of the Beast soothed Jimin. The panic was definitely there, but it wasn’t overwhelming him. Thoughts about how he should act scared of him floated away, as he looked over the bare arms of the Beast, and inspected the feather patterns, finding a bit more clarity as they glowed under his gaze. The muscles on Eleven’s arms were lean and toned, and Jimin knew that he would be strong even as a human with a body like that. He must be insane as a Beast.

Eleven frowned slightly, before using his hands to ask if Jimin was okay. The Tamer let out a watery laugh in response. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me that recently. What if I said I’m not?”

Jimin certainly didn’t expect him to rush over and gently pet his head, soothing and gentle. Jimin sighed. “There isn’t anything you can do. Maybe you should just let me be. Do your own workout.”

Eleven frowned, before skimming his fingers down to Jimin’s shoulders. Without warning, Jimin felt a tingling go through his body, focusing on his extremely tense muscles. Even though the feeling was unexpected, the tingling loosened up his muscles and relaxing Jimin so much that he moaned out in relief. “Whatever you’re doing… Please keep doing it.”

He had his eyes open enough to see a bunny smile pop out from Eleven, and the Beast started to massage him gently when the muscles were loose enough to not hurt Jimin. And if the Tamer had been a cat, he was sure he would have purred. “Fuck, you’re good at this. If you weren’t a Beast, you could be a masseuse. I’d pay for it.” The Beast chuckled very softly in response, and he continued to work over him until Jimin was a soft and gooey mess.

Jimin’s smiles was dopey and Eleven seemed pleased with the result. He, again, asked if Jimin was okay. The blonde chuckled and did the sign back. “Certainly better than I was a few minutes ago. You’re a lifesaver.”

Eleven beamed and sat beside the machine Jimin was perched on. He tilted his head and pointed at the machine.

Jimin hummed before looking back and nodding in understanding. “I’m trying to figure out my new body. I don’t really know how strong I am right now, and I’m not sure where to start, since my old instructor was the one who set me up in the first place. Trying to do it all myself will be difficult.”

Eleven pursed his lips in thought, before an idea came to him. He stood back up and extended a hand forward. He raised an eyebrow, a question. Jimin smiled. “Sure, you can touch me.”

The Beast nodded and did so.

The electric current that went through his body was much more concentrated than the one for the massage, and Jimin shuddered as it whipped through him once before disappearing.

“What was that for?”

Eleven smirked and pulled him up, before taking him to some simple dumbbells, which were much heavier than the average. He indicated for him to take two of the same weight, which Jimin copied, curious.

“Alright Eleven. What have you got for me?”

He smiled and showed Jimin a pose, which is copied immediately, his arms going behind him and he sat in a ski jumping position. He then had Jimin twist the weights in particular ways.

And Jimin had never felt that weak in his life. The weights were exactly right for this, and Jimin gasped. “You used the electricity to see how strong my muscles were, didn’t you?”

Eleven grinned and nodded.

Jimin laughed. “Are you going to be my fitness trainer then?”

Eleven nodded again, excited.

Jimin sighed. “You know, just because you gave me a great massage doesn’t mean I’m going to let you be a slave-driver.”

The wicked gleam in Eleven’s eye was enough to tell Jimin that that had been the Beast’s intention. Jimin sighed. “Be gentle.”

With a twitch of amusement on the Beast’s lips, they began.

Chapter Text

Jimin burst into his dorm, freshly showered and more relaxed than he’d been since they arrived at the Academy. He expected it to be strange training with a Beast, especially since he couldn’t talk to him, however Eleven’s presence was a balm to him. He was expressive with his hands and face, letting Jimin know how he was doing.

He found himself babbling to him about the strangest things. Like how he hated mangos or how he loved both cats and dogs. He’d always wanted one, but given how rare both creatures were, and since Jimin wasn’t exactly the most loved child, his parents would never entertain such an extravagant expense. Eleven just listened and nodded, fully engaged with him. He told him about his dancing, and how he and Hoseok had worked hard for their own place. He smiled at that, eyes brightening, so Jimin had asked if he could dance, and the Beast nodded gently.

Jimin wanted to ask him then and there for a demonstration, but Eleven had pointed at the clock, indicating that curfew would be soon. He huffed in response. “You’re just getting out of dance practice. But I will force you to show me one day.”

The smile Eleven returned to him made Jimin’s heart thump a little harder.

Not that he’d admit it.

He collapsed onto the hard bed and wondered if his hyung would be coming back that night.

As if on cue, the door opened to a very satisfied Hoseok. His hair was ruffled like he’d been out in a hurricane, and his lips were swollen and bruised from some very enthusiastic kissing. But it was the peek of hickeys on his collar bones that truly rounded out his sexed-up look. He grinned at Jimin.

“That may have been the best night of my life.”

“Better than winning a high distinction for your choreography?”

“Better.”

“When you danced in front of all the big dance companies in Zone 2, and walked away with all their numbers?”

“Better.”

“…Our first dance recital?”

He paused on that one. “…Almost better than that.” He rushed forward and hugged Jimin tight. Jimin coughed at the choking, but Hoseok just laughed. “It was amazing though. I’m really happy Jiminie. God, I wish I could tell you all about it.”

Jimin smiled and hugged him back. “I know, hyung. I’m happy for you.”

Pulling back slowly, he brushes Jimin’s hair back. “…You look pretty happy, Minnie. Did something good happen?”

He chuckled. “I got some answers from the Tamer-Beast duo… Nearly had a panic attack,” Hoseok tenses, his eyes flashing in worry, “but Eleven helped to wind me down. We even worked out together. He was… nice.”

“Nice? You sure it wasn’t because… He’s trying to… You know.”

Jimin just shook his head. “No, hyung, believe me… He isn’t really like that. At least he hasn’t while he’s been with me.”

Hoseok just hummed, thinking. “…Okay, Jimin. I’ll trust you. But if you change his mind about him, or if he turns out to be an asshole, we’ll have to get Five to beat him up for us.”

Jimin chuckled at that. “I bet he would too.”

His hyung smiled gently and cuddled him a bit more before getting up. “We should rest, Jimin. Another big day of pretending we care tomorrow.”

Jimin snorted. “You realise we actually have to learn? We have to care, or they’ll never let us Bond.”

“I hate when you’re right. I’m your elder, I’m meant to be schooling you.”

Jimin settled into his bed. “Don’t worry, hyung. You do all the time.”

Hoseok tried to get comfy. “Well, sleep tight Jimin-ah. To caring about these dumb classes.”

His hyung waited for a response, but Jimin was already out like a light.

 

~~~

He didn’t appear in the meadow again. Confused, he looked around and saw nothing but tall cliffs, with him standing perilously close to the edge of one. While there were sheer drops in front of and behind him, there was colourful vegetation decorating everything, as though the decent was not enough to throw the plants off. He smelled the earth scented air from the mosses, other plants bloomed with pretty flowers, while others again were crawlers with tiny, sweet flowers, which released their honeyed aromas into the air. Jimin wondered if any of them were honeysuckle, having never seen that plant in the gardens. He walked over and stroked a flower, only for a swarm of blue butterflies to detach themselves and fly over Jimin’s head and into the view of the valley below.

He smiled and sat, not too close to the edge, for fear of a collapse, but enough to enjoy the feel of the wind rushing up from the valley, brushing through his hair and tangling it.

He felt Jeongguk’s presence as the Beast walked towards him. Jimin smiled up at him. “You’re here.”

“As are you.”

“Where is here?”

“These are the cliffs where my people learn how to fly.”

Jimin gasped and stood up and walked to him. “You can fly?”

The man nodded. “Whenever we feel the wind, it powers us, and our Abilities then channel that power into flight.”

Jimin brought his hands together, nearly clapping in glee.

“C-can you sh-show me?” He was so excited that he could barely form the sentence. Jeongguk beamed and nodded before walking closer to the cliff edge.

As the wind whipped past him, it played with his clothes, which Jimin saw clearer than before. A brilliant blue hue with detailed gold and silver embroidery. There were portions of other colours of the shirt, like they’d been missed in the dying process, but it looked appropriate and beautiful either way. The colour bled up into the white as though it was attempting to reach deep into unknown territory. Just a simple tunic and shorts, but made with such care and attention, that Jimin felt cheap beside him.

And the jewellery he wore... Armbands and bracelets, made from either precious metals, gems, leather, or a mixture of all. He had necklace of beads made of wood and metal, and they rattled together as another gust of wind blew past. He even had earrings in, ones that seemed to dangle down to his neck in little rivers of gems.

He saw it all, yet his face remained blurry in his memory. He would see a flash of doe eyes, only for the features to fall out of his head. The mole below his lips was forgotten as soon as it was seen. Even that familiar bunny smile was reduced to a mere impression in his mind.

Jeongguk looked at him. “Jimin-hyung. Are you watching?”

Jimin nodded, wide eyed, despite his frustration.

The boy smiled, before he jumped into a large gust of wind.

Jimin felt his heart drop, as the memory of Jeongguk doing this same thing resounded in his mind. Soon, Jimin would see a spear go through his leg, winding him back to the Earth. But it didn’t happen. Instead, the Beast soared high into the air, his body floating with the air currents, and spinning him like a leaf in the wind, but the look on his face was euphoric. Overhead, clouds began to gather around him, causing thunder to clap throughout the valley, spooking Jimin, but exciting Jeongguk. Without warning, the Beast was struck by lightning. Jimin cried out in shock, but the Beast laughed, touching the lightning, and turning it with his body, riding it like a kind of board across the sky. The Beast looked so alive, and like he belonged up there, flying in the sky without a care.

Jimin toed his way forward, wishing he could join the Beast, but he just watched him longingly. He just wished there was a place that he could belong like that. Effortless and natural. The dance stage was the closest he’d even been, but the Beast was proving that even that wasn’t enough.

Jeongguk looked at him and flew back down to him, sparks of lightning still running down his limbs irregularly. He smiled at him and reached out his hand. “Hyung, come with me.”

Jimin blinked. “I can’t, Jeongguk.”

“Of course, you can.”

“I can’t fly.”

“I know. But I can.”

“You’ll drop me.”

Jeongguk’s eyes softened and he landed in front of Jimin. He reached forward and took Jimin’s hands into his own. “Jimin-hyung… I would never drop you. You are too important to me to ever let that happen. You have to trust me hyung. Trust that I’ll always be here for you.”

Jimin shivered and unknown to him and tear fell down his cheek. “I don’t know how, Kookie.”

The Beast smiled at the name and stroked his face. “Yes, you do. You have to let go. You can’t control the winds. Even I can’t. You can guide them, and you can harness them, but they will always be something that cannot be reasoned with. A hurricane doesn’t care if there are people below it that aren’t ready for it to come. It will go where it wants. Just as lightning strikes without warning, even though you hope it will strike a lightning catcher. You have to let it go. Because it’s out of your control. And you have to accept that it’s okay. And that is what it means to trust”

Jimin trembled and pulled Jeongguk closer to him. “…I just… I’m so afraid of that, Jeongguk. If I let it go, there will be nothing left.”

“There will be, hyung. The part of you that I and everyone around you truly loves, it will still be there. I promise.”

“How can you know, yet alone promise?”

“Because I don’t care about your mask, Jimin-hyung. I care about you.”

Jimin looked up into his eyes, and felt himself shiver with longing. He looked up at the sky, noting the grey clouds.

“…Can I… Really touch the sky?”

“I’ll let you touch it with me, hyung.”

He looked back at the Beast, who was smiling tenderly at him.

“Okay… I trust you…”

And without warning, the wind picked up again, and it lifted them both high into the air. Jimin gasped and grabbed onto Jeongguk, who just held him tighter in response. The went higher until they were practically swimming through the dewy clouds, which covered Jimin and Jeongguk with little droplets of water. Higher they flew, until they popped over the storm.

Jimin gaped, looking over the billowing clouds like they were a sea of whites and greys. Above was a sunrise, the rays of the sun chasing away the darkness of the night, filling the dawn with gentle colours.

He pulled back and looked at the Beast. “How often have you seen this?”

He smiled. “It’s my favourite view in the world.”

Jimin laughed, a bright and genuine sound. “I love it.”

The Beast looked deep into his eyes. “See… When you trust the right people, you’ll end up happier than when you try these things alone.” He nuzzled him gently. “I trust you, hyung. And I think you’re more amazing than you know.”

Jimin sighed and cuddled him closer, even as they were flying high in the air.

“Jeongguk?” The Beast hummed in response. “Why can I never remember your face when I wake up?”

“I think… You don’t want to accept it.”

“Accept what?”

“Me.”

 

~~~

His last few dreams of Jeongguk had been deliriously happy, causing him to wake up in a wonderful mood. But that morning, he just felt sad. Hoseok’s alarm hadn’t sounded, so he had time to yearn for the dream to return. To fly into the air in his arms and feel loved. So loved that he felt it in his bones.

He knew it was a dream. He just wanted it so badly. He felt himself tearing up at the prospect of never feeling that in his life. That joy he’d felt. Was it so wrong of him to want to be a part of someone’s heart?

Jimin knew that if he ever felt that for someone, he’d willingly give his life to them. But his heart was so broken and useless, that he doubted anyone would be interested. It was better to remember that he wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

He wished that Jeongguk was real. Then maybe, just maybe, he’d prove that he was more than what he’d been raised to be.

Hoseok’s alarm went off, and he didn’t even flinch. Hoseok groaned, before pulling himself up to turn off the alarm. He looked over at Jimin and frowned when he noticed he was awake. “You okay, Jimin-ah? How long have you been awake?”

“Not long. Just didn’t want to wake you. I’m fine. Just thinking.”

Hoseok sighed. “Not always a good thing coming from you.”

His answering chuckle had little mirth, and Jimin could tell Hoseok wasn’t convinced. “I’ll be fine, hyung. Just… dreamed of something strange.”

“Your dream again?”

He shook his head. “It’s different now. It’s evolved. But it’s the same person.”

He tilts his head to the side. “And it makes you sad?”

“The opposite actually. It’s why I’m sad when I wake up.”

Hoseok’s eyebrows lifted at that. “Right… We have to visit Jin first, then more classes.”

Jimin rolled his eyes. “Joy…”

Hoseok grinned. “No, Jin…”

Hoseok then faced a pillow to the face as Jimin flung it at him. But the ever, bomb proof Hoseok just laughed it off.

They both got ready for another day, and Jimin tried to put his smile back on. He didn’t want to worry Hoseok, after all. As he did so, he felt Jeongguk’s words ringing through his ears. But trusting anyone with yourself is terrifying. A burden to them and to yourself. Jimin shook his head, putting the thought aside quickly.

The made their way to the hospital levels and walked down the corridor to where Jin had told them to go. The office room they walked into was surprisingly… pink. Jin had fluffy pink chair, with pink pens and pencils around. He even had a pink stethoscope. There were still the normal diagrams and anatomical posters around, even a few models there, displaying a spine, or internal organs. Even then, the posters were hung with a pink border, and the models had pink stands. Jimin was confused.

Jin grinned at them. “Welcome to the pink princess’s office!”

Hoseok spluttered. “Pink princess?”

“I was going to be a pink prince, but it didn’t detract enough annoying patients.”

“This is meant to turn people away?”

“Oh, no, I do love pink. I meant the name.”

Jimin laughed. And it was genuine, whilst also being very confused. “I don’t think I was expecting this, hyung.”

“If I have to work in this place indefinitely, I will make it what I want. The Director and I have an understanding like that. She knows that I can curb Suga and V’s wild natures, which she certainly can’t do. I get on well with all the Beasts, so they let me treat them when necessary. So, she lets me have a fun office.” He shrugs. “Right, Hoseok, you first. Get on the bed, lie on your back.”

Jimin smirked at them both and sat in a chair watching them. Jin flicked a button, and a machine above the bed moved above them. Hoseok flinched and Jin glared at him. “I need you to be still. It’s going to scan you and take a blood sample. You move, and you’ll have to do both twice.”

“Why two blood samples?”

“Because it will miss the first time, and you’ll just get a hole in your arm.”

“Not a good robot then.”

Jin nearly smacked him for the cheek, but the robot started to scan Hoseok thoroughly. It wasn’t making an insane amount of noise, but it wasn’t very quiet. Hoseok tried to relax, but Jimin could see how tense the situation made him.

“What exactly are you looking for, Jin-hyung?” Jimin queried, watching as a full-body scan appeared on Jin’s holographic screen.

The doctor was fixated on the screen, putting on a pair of wire-rim glasses, but managed out. “Mostly seeing if there are any physical mutations that may affect your standard of living. Both positive and negative.” Jimin nods and looks at the screen, wishing he understood half of the information displayed. A few parts of the scan show up yellow. Before Jimin can say anything, Jin cut in, “I’ll explain it soon. Just wait.” Jimin shut his mouth.

A yelp came from their side, and Jimin looked to see Hoseok making a face as the robot took a sample of blood. His hyung grumbled out, “Why was there literally no warning beforehand?”

“Because it assumes you’re going to stay still and take it like a big boy.” Jin drawled out and smirked a little at Hoseok’s expense.

Jimin chuckled. “Is this why Suga says you have a bad bedside manner?”

“Probably. He’s not wrong. But I wouldn’t admit that to him ever.” He motioned with his hand, and Hoseok got up. “Sit on the chair, Hoseok. I’ll just take a moment to analyse the results.”

Jimin turned to Hoseok, whispering under his breath. “What should I expect?”

“Kinda feels like tingling over you, and the needle hurts like a bitch.”

Jimin nodded and leaned back into his chair. Hoseok nursed his arm, which the robot had patched up. Jimin smirked at him, like he was reminding him that he was being a baby, to which his hyung pouted harder and leaned his weight into Jimin, causing him to protest. But it finally made Hoseok smile.

“Alright, Hoseok. It seems like your transition was fairly even for everything, however you may have a higher chance for some forms of pulmonary illnesses, as your lungs have expanded in a way which might cause complications. But it’s only a mild difference. Did you have asthma before you became a Tamer?”

“No.” Jin noted that in his records.

“It also seems that your stomach and digestive tract has been affected. Have you noticed any change in your appetite or food cravings?”

“Cravings, no, but I haven’t been eating nearly as much.”

“That seems to be in line with what the scan says, but it never hurts to make sure it’s correct. Other than those two things, you seem to have denser muscle mass, which indicates that you’d be much stronger than average. We had already found that out, but that’s why.”

“Any other notable changes?”

“Not particularly, just lots of small changes which are a part of the transition. If you have any concerns, you can always talk to me about them.”

He looked over the blood tests. “So, your blood tests do show something of interest, and something I haven’t seen in anyone except Suga.”

Hoseok frowned. “Which is?”

“It’s… a kind of enzyme. We haven’t yet figured out the exact cause, but a specific type of relationship with a Beast causes it.” He turned to Hoseok. “Something I need to know?”

The blush of his face spoke for itself, and Jin sighed. “Really? Already? I thought you’d keep it in your pants until at least your second week. Not your second day.”

Hoseok grinned. “I work fast. And we clicked. What can I say. I had him screaming my name, and he did the same to me.”

Both Jin and Jimin wore matching horrified expressions. Jimin, in particular, blanched, “Too much information, Hoseok-hyung.”

Jin nodded. “Great, now I have to make you take the STD tests. All of them. For One’s sake.”

Jimin laughed hard at that, and Hoseok squawked indignantly at the doctor. Jin rolled his eyes. “We’ll do that tomorrow, because, yes, you do have to make sure.” He turned to Jimin, “Your turn, Jiminie.”

He resigned himself to it, and lay down on the bed, trying not to get nervous and squirm. He figured that Jin meant it when he said they’d do it again if he messed up the results. Hoseok was right though, it tingled a lot, and wasn’t entirely pleasant. Like something was peering into his insides. When the needle came out, he attempted to relax, knowing it would hurt more if he was tense.

It didn’t help, and he let out a small whine that he couldn’t control.

“…Okay, Jimin, on the chair.” Jin seemed distracted, not fully talking to Jimin. He nodded and got off the bed to re-join Hoseok, who gave him a thumbs-up.

Jin was silent. For a long time. Longer than Hoseok. Eventually, Jimin nervously asked, “Something wrong, Jin-hyung?”

His voice seemed to snap Jin back to reality, and he looked deep into Jimin’s eyes. “Well… I don’t really know how this happened.”

He tilted his head. “How what happened?” He couldn’t keep the anxiety out of his voice.

“Jimin… Your body has changed drastically. You’re very similar to the Beasts. More than Suga and Hoseok by far. Not quite the same as any of our Beasts here, but… you seem more… like than not.”

Jimin tensed. “What the hell does that mean?”

“It means that nearly every part of your body is changed. Even… your reproductive organs.”

Jimin flinched. “… Jin… What is it? Just spit it out.”

The doctor wet his lips and took off his glasses with a shaking hand. “…Like Five… It seems that you’ve gained a womb.”

Hoseok had a physical reaction to the news, and he flinched so hard that he fell off his chair.

Jimin, on the other hand didn’t react at all. How the hell should he take that news. He couldn’t process this, and it was incomprehensible. His eyes glazed over, despite Jin’s best efforts to keep him with them, and explain everything to them. But there wasn’t anything more he needed to know. One thing pierced through the haze.

“I’m going to modify your results. They can’t know about this.”

Jimin blinked. “Wait, why not? Isn’t this for my health?”

Jin shuddered. “Jimin… If they know… You’ll be no better than the Beasts to them.”

Hoseok cut in, “Why? Because of a change he couldn’t control?”

“No, Hoseok, because they will stop seeing him as a Tamer. The difference between the two groups is that Tamers have a few notable human features, whether external or internal. Jimin has changed so evenly that he technically doesn’t count. And I won’t let them treat you like a Beast, Jimin. Trust me… If they can’t handle it, you won’t either.” He leaned forward, deadly serious. “You tell no-one. Not even the Beasts. They may sense it, but it’s for the three of us to keep to ourselves.”

“What about Suga and Five?”

He grunted and thought quickly. “Fine, I’ll tell them in a very safe place, only because they are already caring for your safety here. They’ll help you cover.”

“And One?”

“He will just find out either way. But we don’t tell him. Understood?”

Jimin nodded. “What can I do?”

“Just… Try to tame down your more intense strength or speed. We don’t want to draw attention to you, okay? The rest I will progress manually. Hacking into the records once isn’t so bad, but if I keep doing it, there’s a higher chance that I’ll mess up and leave a mark.”

Jimin shivered, and nodded, dumbly.

Hoseok managed to get him up. Jin gave them both a slip to excuse them from the classes, allowing Jimin some personal time to compartmentalise the news.

But the moment they leave the office, Jimin finally started to panic. Hoseok tried to calm him down, but all it did was cause Jimin to cry harder. Jimin manged to ask to go to One. He might have answers. God, he needed so many. His list of questions grew too fast for him to keep up.

But mostly he wanted Jeongguk. Wanted him to be real and appear in front of him.

Hoseok dragged him to the library, and within moments, One seemed to appear. He helped Hoseok take him up to One’s room, where Jimin started to cry. Hoseok tried to calm him, walking him through breathing techniques and other strategies that had worked in the past. But for some reason, it wasn’t working. Jimin felt like his very insides were revolting against him, and he couldn’t get past it, couldn’t work through it. He vaguely heard One tell Hoseok to find someone. While his friend was gone, One knelt in front of him.

“I know you won’t like this. But I’m telling you this for your own good. Jin is right, you need to keep this to yourself. But there is one person who I will tell, because he will protect you even better than Suga or V. And I know you don’t believe that he will, not right now. It won’t change that he will keep them from finding out what has happened. But Jimin… Know that this isn’t your fault. It was never your fault.”

Jimin looked up, blubbering, but coherent in that moment. “I was always a freak. Now I’m even more of one. It’s okay One. You don’t have to baby me.”

“If you believe that to be true, then fine. Be a freak. But don’t let that dictate your worth.”

“How can I not when everyone else does?”

“Everyone? Does Hoseok?”

“No, but-”

“Do you think Suga, V or Jin do?”

“I mean, no, but-”

“Do I?”

“You probably should-”

“Does Eleven?”

Jimin blinked, not expecting his name. But something about the question finally stopped his mind from spinning out. Beautiful Eleven… With his kind eyes and warm smile. So strong, yet so gently with him. Why would someone that gorgeous be so kind to a nothing like him.

Unless he didn’t realise that Jimin was a freak.

He hung his head. “If he doesn’t, he should.”

One’s eyes were sad, but he didn’t respond, just slowly rubbing Jimin’s back, trying to soothe him. Jimin wasn’t panicking anymore, but he felt sadness twist in his heart. The despair and worthlessness washed over him, and he looked away from the Beast.

“…You know Jimin… I think that’s for him to decide. Not you.”

Jimin looked back at him, not understanding, when the door was flung open. Hoseok rushed back in.

But Jimin only saw Eleven, rushing in after him, his eyebrows drawn with worry. He shivered and walked to Jimin quickly before kneeling in front of him and taking his hands. Jimin sighed in relief, as he felt the sparks gently loosen his muscles like Eleven had done before. But unlike before, Jimin found that he was breathing easier, like a weight had been lifted. He shivered and looked deep into the sky-blue eyes.

It was getting harder to pretend that he didn’t desperately want the Beast. Whether as a close friend, as a lover… As a Bonded partner. But Jimin didn’t want to give into himself.

Yet once again, Jeongguk’s words played in his mind. When you trust the right people, you’ll end up happy. Were these people the right ones? Could he finally let go?

He teared up, despite Eleven’s efforts, causing the Beast to look at him mournfully. Eventually, Jimin pulled himself together, just enough to speak.

“Can I tell you all a secret?”

Hoseok nodded. “Of course, Jiminie. We’re all here for you. We’re listening.”

“…I sometimes wish I never woke up from my dreams. Other days I wish I’d never been born. I feel like my skin is something that is stained, and I try to hide the stain… But I’ so scared you’ll see it. I’m… just…” He gasped for air again, his eyes pooling with tears, the river on his face becoming permanent. “I’m so scared… that you’ll see… And I’ll be alone!”

Hoseok started crying and held Jimin close. “Jimin, no. I’d never let that happen. You’re my best friend. Practically my brother!” One put a hand on both of them, sad but silent.

Eleven’s eyes were wide, and he looked down for a moment, before looking at One. The Beasts seemed to have a conversation between themselves, and One sighed. “I’ll do my best, Eleven. But you won’t be able to for long.”

Eleven smiled, and looked in Jimin’s eyes.

One lifted his hand, his face strained. “Now.”

Eleven smiled.

“You’re so beautiful, Jimin. And there’s nothing about you that I would change. So please, hyung… Believe that we love you.”

Jimin couldn’t describe what happened to him as Eleven spoke. The voice was so beautiful that it felt like ambrosia to his senses. He felt like the world had been tinted in silver like his voice, and he focused so much on him, that the world fell away. When Nine had spoken, his mind felt cloudy. But at that moment, he felt instead like he was an instrument tuned to perfectly harmonise with this voice. It felt right. His mind felt clearer than it had ever been. He felt his body, heart and soul all cry out in joy at the sound, and when he teared up, it was from happiness.

Without realising it, he flung his arms around Eleven, nuzzling him and holding him close, as close as possible. He couldn’t let anyone else see his Mate or hear him. This voice was for him, and him alone. Like a perfect drug. He wanted to wrap him up and hide him away, so he could always be with him.

And with a start he realised that he knew this voice. Knew the exact pitch and register. The lilt of his words and the warm timbre that made him who he was.

Jimin pulled back. “Jeongguk?”

He shivered under Jimin’s gaze.

One gasped. “Eleven, stop.”

But it was too late.

“Hyung-”

Immediately, Jeongguk’s body jerked and he silently cried out as the injection went in. Jimin cried for him, and held him close, hoping to ease his pain with his presence. But the Beast writhed in pain, and he was too strong to hold him down. The lights flickered as electricity, no lightening, started to bleed out from his body. Eventually, Jeongguk opened his eyes, even through the pain, and he held onto Jimin’s hands, desperate. Jimin shivered and hushed him. “It’s okay, Kookie… You’ll be okay soon. Just stay with me.”

The Beast closed his eyes, looking relieved, despite the pain that was obviously bounding through his body. After too long, the tremors in his died down, and Jeongguk lay boneless on Jimin’s lap. The Beast looked up at him, shaky, but smiling. He reached a hand up, and brushed Jimin’s tears away.

Jimin’s laugh was watery, but his smile was genuine. “It’s really you, isn’t it, Kookie.”

He nodded, his gaze warm. His hand wandered up to Jimin’s hair, slowly brushing through it, like he couldn’t believe that he was allowed to. Jimin beamed. “You really found me. I can’t believe it.”

The Beast grinned, his expression one of bliss, as he slowly stroked down to his face. Jimin’s smile became tender, as he felt more complete than he ever had been in his life. Yet even as they finally felt connected, Jeongguk’s eyes fluttered, and his hand slid down his face as he lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

Jimin trembled, looking down at Jeongguk’s unconscious face. Suddenly the slopes, angles and curves of his features were all precious and he felt like a weight that had been pulling him down for months had finally released. Jeongguk… His dream boy. The one who’d been captured one night, yet still talked in his dreams to Jimin. He didn’t know how, didn’t understand why, but it didn’t matter. He always felt safe with Eleven, and now he knew why.

He wanted to kiss him, to smother him with affection and comfort. He could feel that he suffered deep in his heart, and he wanted to protect him from the harm that others tried to do to his sky boy. He couldn’t justify why Jeongguk thought of him as beautiful, when the Beast was the embodiment of beauty. But he finally acknowledged that, yes, he adored the Beast. Every inch of him. Jin was right, he was completely head over heels. It hadn’t been long enough to know every inch of him, but it just felt… right.

He could feel his soul still singing in happiness after hearing his voice, his being responding with enthusiasm. Jimin felt himself blush as he thought about all the things he had wanted to do to him in that moment, both romantic and sexual, and how he’d surprised himself with a simple hug. Hoseok’s mad romp with One suddenly made sense to him.

Thinking about One made him aware of the others in the room, and he looked up at two worried but kind faces. He smiled slowly. “Hey… So… I think I found my Bond.”

One blinked, then smiled wide, his dimples showing off and he scratched the back of his head. “I may have to confess something… I knew. Eleven couldn’t handle the distance from you without support. I think he was planning on waiting until you settled in. And yet, you both kept finding each other. The library, the cafeteria… Not to mention the long gym session.”

Jimin frowned. “You know about all that?”

“It’s my Ability. I use my mind, but my strength is in information. It’s why I can make the library a blackout zone for them recording or listening in on communications. I can make them just not hear anything. I make the information useless to them.” He scrunched up his nose. “Well… That’s the easiest way to explain it. It’s hard to talk about how Abilities work if you don’t have one.”

“Then why couldn’t you stop the punishment?”

There was a pause, and he sighed. “…The things on our neck are attached to our system completely. It not only sends information, but takes note of how much Ability we use, where we are, stress levels, nutrition… Everything is recorded. If even one thing gets disrupted, then we get punished for tampering. The main function, however, monitor if we are talking. If it senses vibrations in the larynx, we feel pain. V has a manually operated device now, since he has Suga as his Tamer. Mine is a modified version. Eleven’s is the full package, and stronger than normal to boot.”

Hoseok slipped his arms through One’s. “I just want to ask… Why do you call them by their numbers? Even alone?” Jimin nodded, enthusiastic to get the answer from him.

“…It’s a habit at this point. Also, it protects them from the higher ups knowing their names. To Beasts, there’s nothing more personal or precious as a person’s name. We only ever speak their name if we respect them as people. We like nicknames for that reason. Hence why Five likes V.”

Jimin nodded. “Do you like anything?”

One blushed and looked at Hoseok, who brushed the hair out of his future Bond’s face. Hoseok whispered, “RM… My RM.”

One leaned down into his touch, completely smitten with the redhead, and it made Jimin smile. Hoseok cooed up at him, reaching to stroke his face, and nuzzled him gently. “But I have to admit… I do love your real name.” One hummed, in response, almost a purr under Hoseok’s gentle touch.

“Same. I could say it among other Beasts, and they would make a nickname for me to acknowledge who I was, without disrespecting me. But most humans aren’t… Right. They use names like weapons. I don’t understand it.”

Jimin nodded. “It’s probably a way to keep you under their thumb. Take the thing that makes you who you are and warp it.”

“Yeah, if you’re a total psychopath.” Hoseok lifted a lip in disgust.

Jimin ran his fingers through his hair. “Yes, well, I have a feeling that the Director may fall into that category.”

One smirked at that, and he eyes said that she was exactly that.

Jimin looked at him, fond of the Beast already. Especially when he made Hoseok smile so happily. “One-hyung? May I also call you RM-hyung, or is that just between you and Hoseok-hyung?”

The Beast seemed shocked, comprehending the question slowly, before blushing. “I’d be honoured, Jimin. But you’ll have to make sure you’re alone, like when you’re with V.”

Hoseok leaned into his partner and sighed. “You know, we’re meant to be at class now.”

“Learning what?”

“About Parasites, and how to fight them.”

RM smiled. “I can teach you while we wait for Eleven to recover.”

It was like the sun came out in force, as Hoseok smiled brightly at RM. “Ooh, can we really? I need an excuse to cuddle my gentle giant.” The Beast’s blush, like Hobi’s smile, came back in force.

“Only if you promise to pay attention.”

“When do I not?”

“Should I really answer that?”

“Obviously you should, because the answer is never.”

RM sighed but looked softly at Jimin’s troublesome hyung. The tall Beast waved a hand, concentrating on something intensely, before a pillow moved towards where Jimin and Jeongguk were. He smiled in triumph. “I’m getting the hang of that. Slowly.” His breaths were a tad ragged, but he looked so proud, that Jimin smiled and said, “You can shift things with your mind, huh?”

“Only slightly. At least, it was only slight until I met Hoseok, now I can move things… But the fine control is, uh… Lacking.”

He looked at the Beast impressed, then frowned. “What do you mean about meeting Hoseok?”

Hoseok sat down on the bed behind them and looked like a smug cat. “Apparently the reaction Beasts have to their mate causes their Ability to strengthen a lot. One wasn’t the best at moving things with his mind, now he has too much strength. He told me that V was only able to light himself on fire, or the fire had to be attached to him to keep burning. Now he can control it, without direct contact, and they can be big fires.”

One hummed. “I wonder how it has affected Eleven. I don’t really know much about his limits and Abilities. He sparks… That’s all I really know.”

“Can’t you just read their minds?” Jimin frowned.

“Well, yes, but reading Beasts is more difficult, especially if there are things they don’t want you to know. Think of it like a computer firewall. Humans basically have none, Tamers have a very basic coverage, but often they don’t know how to activate it. Beasts have a proper firewall, and if they’re strong like V or Eleven, suddenly, it’s difficult for me to get through. It’s my Ability versus theirs. If they fight hard, they win.”

Jimin blinked. “So you… don’t know much about V or Eleven?”

RM shook his head. “V I know, since he lets me in. Eleven I don’t, since he only lets me read his most obvious conscious thoughts. Like having a conversation. Everything else is observation.”

Jimin gaped. “Interesting… In that case I might know him better than you.”

RM smirked. “How so? You haven’t really had any conversations with him.”

“Sure, I have. In my dreams we’ve talked a lot.”

RM just blinked. Hoseok brightened at the mention. “Wait, your dreams were about Eleven? For all that time?” Jimin nodded, which cause Hoseok to smile even brighter. “Wow… So you must have a really strong Bond, right?” He looked up at RM. “Right, RM?”

The Beast frowned. “Jimin, may I read your mind?”

With a confused tilt of his head, Jimin conceded out a small, “Sure.” He offered his hand, with RM took gently. Jimin usually didn’t feel RM scan over his memories, but he did this time. He felt it like a feather gently moving through everything inside his mind. It wasn’t unpleasant, he could tell that RM was attempting to make it feel soothing, but it wasn’t as nice as the Beast meant it to be. Nothing like hearing Jeongguk’s voice. After a bit of probing, he felt RM pause in his mind, and Jimin could sense that it was the memory of the dreams. But he could equally sense that RM wasn’t touching them. Wasn’t breaching them.

RM frowned in concentration, and the soothing feather became a more solid and unyielding pressure, slowly digging into the memory, with no luck. Jimin gasped and squeezed his eyes shut tight, the pressure in his head winding up from a mild headache to a near migraine, but still RM pushed. Jimin cried out, and tried to pull RM’s hand off, but the Beast almost seemed like he was in a trance.

“RM, that’ enough.”

With a start, the Beast let go, Hoseok’s voice pulling them both to the surface of whatever happened. Jimin clutched his head, expecting it to pound in pain, but the moment RM left his mind, so did the pain.

Realising what he’d done, RM went white as a sheet, before bowing in front of him. “Please forgive me, Jimin. I didn’t think I’d go that far, or that I’d hurt you. I’d read Hoseok’s mind, and yours briefly, yet I didn’t know about those dreams. I let my curiosity take over. I’m so sorry.” He practically was sobbing by the words by the end, visibly distraught by his own actions.

Jimin was startled to say the least, but he leaned down and patted the Beasts shaking back. He didn’t see why RM was so upset, to the point where he was crying. Was that a normal Beast reaction? Or was that something to do with the Academy.

“RM, I’m fine, really. It hurt a lot, but no marks were left, and no pain anymore. It’s over. I’m not mad. No crying now. Okay?”

He trembled, but sat up, tears coming down his cheeks. Hoseok slid off the bed and joined his partner on the floor. “Hey, sweetie. You’re okay. Just breathe with me. Okay?” Hoseok’s eyes were soft and gentle. Jimin knew all about how Hoseok would lower his tone to a gentle near-whisper, one which brought you back from yelling thoughts and roaring memories. RM slowly calmed down and he looked at Jimin. “I am sorry. I took it too far.”

Hoseok frowned. “What was it that you were looking for, anyway?”

“…The source of the dreams. Because I cannot even see them in your memories. Either of them.”

Hoseok’s eyes widened, and he leant forward. “What does that mean? Does that mean Eleven is somehow using a firewall to protect us both?”

RM trembled. “If it were Eleven, I’d recognise the trace of him… No. This is different. It’s like… peering into the abyss. There’s nothing there. I knew there could be, if I tried to enter the abyss, but it swallowed me.” He turned to Hoseok. “Thank you, Hobi-hyung… If you didn’t do anything, I don’t know if I would have found my way out.”

A shiver ran up Jimin’s spine, and he touched his head. “That was in my mind?”

“And it feels old. The abyss feels ancient. That’s why I doubt it’s you or your Beast.”

Hoseok groaned. “So, Jimin is getting too much news about shit we can’t do anything about. Why is that?”

RM pursed his lips. “I wish I knew. I’m in the dark on this as much as you. I know so much about Beasts, but… I was taken when I was too young. I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like. Honestly, Eleven is the oldest they’ve captured before.”

“Wait,” Jimin slowly spoke out, “How old were you when you were captured?”

RM considered it. “About seven?”

Before either Tamer could answer, they heard a slight shifting beside them. Jimin turned in time to see Jeongguk’s eyes slowly blink open, a serious expression on his face, stoic and unfeeling. Jimin wondered for a moment if Jeongguk was still in pain, or angry at having to deal with the pain in the first place, but as the Beast looked at Jimin, he broke out into a gentle, tender smile. He reached for Jimin’s hand, who took it immediately, smiling in relief. “You’re awake…”

Jeongguk nodded and slowly sat up, pulling himself close to Jimin, like the small distance between them was too much. Jimin agreed, but it was still embarrassing when his hyung was smiling knowingly at him. But the set of Hoseok’s jaw was wrong, and RM’s last statement came back to Jimin’s mind.

“You’ve spent a majority of your life here.”

“As has V. He was ten when they brought him here. Eleven has been here for only a few months. Easily the oldest to be brought here, and hence the Director has no idea how to handle him.”

Jimin smiled and ran his hand through Jeongguk’s hair, and the Beast’s blue eyes drooped down, showing a blissful expression. “Does that make you a handful?”

And, of course, Jeongguk grinned in affirmation.

RM hummed suddenly. “Perhaps you can answer the question, Eleven. Jimin told me that you have visited him in dreams. Is that true?” The Beast responded with a nod. “Then can you connect people in dreams? Is that part of your Ability?”

Jeongguk frowned and shook his head. RM reflected his troubled expression. “I can’t use my Ability to see Jimin’s dreams, like I’m being blocked. And whatever is blocking me makes what you do seem like child’s play.”

Jeongguk frowned deeper and seemed to turn the idea over in his head. Jimin just squeezed the hand that was still in his hold, causing the Beast to look up in surprise, before smiling.

RM sighed. “Well, I guess that’s that. Shall I teach you about what is known about Parasites?”

Hoseok groaned. “Do we really want to know?”

“No, but you need to.”

After nearly rolling his eyes into his skull, Hoseok sat beside both Jimin and Jeongguk before exclaiming, “Wait! Five is V, One is RM… What’s Eleven?” He peered at the two younger boys.

Jimin just blinked and turned to Jeongguk. “Um… Do you have a nickname?”

The pout on the Beast’s face was adorable, and it made Jimin want to squish up his cheeks, like Hoseok had done to him whenever he decided he was being cute. Often, apparently. Jeongguk turned to RM and took his hand. RM then chuckled, and said, “He wants you to choose one for him.” Jeongguk did look very expectantly at Jimin, so he knew that he had to answer.

Hoseok and RM leaned in, waiting for Jimin, which just upped the pressure.

And so, he panicked.

“JK”

Jeongguk blinked.

Jimin hid his face in his hands. “I’m sorry, I’m not the creative one with names. You should have asked Hoseok, not me. You can choose, I really don’t mind!”

Hoseok giggled at Jimin’s reaction, and even RM seemed amused, dimples making a reappearance. Jeongguk, however, pulled Jimin’s hands away, forcing him to look up into his eyes. He expected disappointment. He instead met excitement, and he was nearly bouncing at the nickname, which only made Jimin blush, still embarrassed.

“Wait, do you actually like it?”

Jeongguk chuckled under his breath, and for the first time, he noticed how he did so in a breathier way than a normal laugh. Probably to keep the chip in his neck from sensing anything. He chose to disregard that, because now Jeongguk was nodding, expecting Jimin to say something. The only thing he should.

“Hey, JK.”

It was like the name washed through Jeongguk, who seemed buoyant, and he latched onto Jimin’s arm, still giggling breathily, like a child that had been playing only the best games. Jimin smiled and stroked his hair. “Alright, Hoseok… Meet JK. My future Bond partner.”

 

~~~

Jeongguk had left during the middle of their informal lecture, as his chip had started to beep. The Beast had seemed particularly annoyed at the development, but Jimin smiled at him, and told him that they’d see each other at the gym. The news did wonders to his countenance.

It meant that as Jimin and Hoseok trudged back to their room, they were alone as a bunch of Tamers approached them. Many from Taurus’s group, but some that neither had seen. And none of them seemed happy.

“Oh, look. It’s the dumb duo.”

The Tamer at the head of the group was new. He looked more human than most, his only prominent difference was how his lower teeth jutted up, like an orc’s underbite. The rest of the crowd had varying levels of mutations, none particularly interesting or nice to look at.

Jimin wasn’t at all sure what to make of the animosity. Maybe it was how he pummelled a certain stupid Tamer, in front of their lackey’s. Still, that didn’t explain the new animosity in their eyes. And it was new. Jimin knew the difference between grudges, old anger and new anger. This was very fresh.

It reminded Jimin of the cella-

“Why the hell did the Director rank you so high. You’re nothing but ignorant trash.”

Hoseok blinked. “Rank? What are you talking about?”

“The weekly ranking! I know that Suga fucking babies you, but he should have told you about obvious shit like that. If you rank high enough after your training, you get a higher chance of getting a Bond. Obviously, you imbecile.”

The growl that left Jimin veered a little too far from a normal human sound, and he prayed that it was a Tamer thing. Honestly, though, he didn’t care if it made these people hate him more, because, once again, they were messing with him and Hoseok.

The Tamer stepped forward. “If you think that we’re scared of you, just cause you beat Taurus, then you’d be wrong. You cheated. I know it. I bet Suga did something. Five wasn’t with him, so that thing was probably aiding you, I just know it!”

Jimin frowned. “Excuse me? I didn’t go through martial arts training just to be told I was cheating. Besides, there were a lot of people there, and none of them called foul play.”

The scoff told Jimin that this Tamer wasn’t buying it. And all the others were working on mob mentality. Jimin realised where this situation led to. Zone 2 bullies had taught him well what could happen next.

“Look, I don’t know why she ranked us high. It was probably a mistake, and next week, we’ll be ranked low when she sees us actually performing. So, don’t worry about it.”

He snarled, not taking the bait. “You think I’ll trust a worthless nobody like you over the Director? You’re fucking stupid if you think I’ll let your cocky attitude slide.”

Hoseok trembled. “Come on, guys. It’s just two of us. We didn’t even know about the rankings. Why bring so many people here to talk to little old us?”

The Tamer smiles, and his tusks make it warped. “I’m glad you asked.”

Jimin saw the punch coming for Hoseok. Before he could think it through logically, he stepped forward to take the hit for him. It didn’t wind him, but knocked him back into his hyung, which made them both stumble to the wall.

With that one punch launched, it unleashed the other Tamers.

Jimin could have taken them one on one. Maybe even four at once. This was too much for him. About twelve people altogether, attempting to break every bone in both his and Hoseok’s bodies. He tried his best to punch and kick back, landing several good hits. Hoseok wasn’t a figher, but his scrappy hits caused gouges to appear on some face and arms, as he fought tooth and nail. But once they had them on the ground, kicking them relentlessly to stay down, Jimin felt the fight leave his body.

It really was like the cellar.

But unlike then, they weren’t alone.

It became unbearably hot in the corridor.

The Tamers all stopped at once, and gasped, looking up at the very angry Bonded pair. Suga’s anger was cold, and focused, while V’s fire had spread through his body as he growled low in his throat. The group of people all started to back up, fear obvious in their eyes. Suga didn’t care. He cracked his neck and spoke out his judgement.

“V… Get them.”

Even Jimin felt afraid as the flames raced out from the Beast towards the Tamers. They screamed as V ran over, faster than Jimin could dream of, before bowling into them, fists making quick work of them, and burning an imprint into their skin, causing them to wail in pain. Some tried to run, but V caught them, and kicked them to the ground, almost like Jimin and Hoseok had been. As all the Tamers collapsed from pain or from being knocked out cold, V finally calmed the fires in the corridor down. Jimin gaped up at him, seeing that he seemed completely unaffected, like the fight had been a leisurely stroll for him. Not a mark on his perfect face.

The Beast, seeing their battered forms, ran to both of them, looking distressed, and put his hands on both of them gently, before looking at Suga. The Tamer looked murderous. “Is the mob permanently marked?”

V shook his head and Suga sighed, disappointed.

“I figured. You did well. But this isn’t the first time these fuckers have done things like this.” But he suddenly smiled. “Eleven is going to have a field day when he finds out.”

Jimin shivered, despite his vision going black. Hoseok had already fainted, but Jimin still had to stop Eleven. He had a bad feeling.

“Don’t tell him. Don’t make him worried.”

V smoothed over his hair, and Jimin felt that warmth spread through him. But it felt wrong after feeling Eleven’s power in him. He whimpered but found himself falling asleep anyway.

 

~~~

Jin was feeling particularly angry.

In fact, one could say he was murderous.

V and Yoongi had walked the two broken boys into his room, looking worried, especially when Hoseok had coughed up blood onto Yoongi’s shirt. V looked like he was doing double duty, using his warmth to help heal a bit of their wounds, and consoling his partner. Jin usually would be fascinated watching the Beast use the healing side of his power, but he also knew it was not the time or place. He barked out orders, hooking up the boys to a few machines, mostly to help them breathe, despite obvious broken ribs, and to keep their heart steady.

Jin had read about how poor the medical advancements had been before the great wars. After enough time focusing on keeping people alive, they now had robots to do entire surgeries, and to stitch bones together with an agent that strengthened the new joints. Jin could stitch up wounds and knew his way in a surgery room. He knew how to set bones and diagnose conditions without any computer telling him anything. But having a machine take care of the heavy lifting was such a blessing in moments like this. Moments where one didn’t have to choose between either critical patient. As they went to work, he stared at the two boys, put into a situation that they were both struggling with.

Jimin obviously struggled, being saddled with far more problems, not even talking about the issues he’d come in with. Jin wondered how badly his family must have treated the boy, for him to have such intense panic attacks and dissociative episodes. It made him wish he’d studied more psychology when he had the chance. Especially since nearly every Tamer had serious issues.

Jin had noticed, however, that Hoseok was just as affected. He’d seen that Hoseok used Jimin as a shield from what had happened to them, using the excuse of caring for his friend rather than care for himself. He wondered if Hoseok would survive long if separated from his loving and loyal dongsaeng. He bet not.

Jin looked at Yoongi. “Who was it?”

Yoongi grunted. “About twelve of them swarmed them. I didn’t catch their faces, but they were right in front of a security camera.”

Jin rolled his eyes. “Let me guess… You weren’t called to disrupt them.”

“I was not.”

“So, someone was allowing it.”

“Seems like it.”

V whimpered and puts his hand on Jimin and Hoseok’s hand, but doesn’t use his Ability, in case the machine redid what he’d done, and caused a mess. It had happened, but the Beast was a quick learner when he wanted to be, and had never done it since.

Jin sighed. “I have to talk to her, then.”

“Better you than me.” Yoongi’s face was stern. He knew Jin too well. They knew each other too well. Hell, all four of them did, since V and Yoongi were nearly of the same mind some days, and One was… One.

“Your support is appreciated.”

V smiled up at him, before standing and hugging him, sending warmth into him. Jin smiled gently. “Thank you, V… Really.” V grinned in return, before turning back to the boys.

“Jin-hyung. Will they be okay?” Jin was always shocked by the deep voice. Even in his office, where he’d given V permission to talk, he talked rarely. Keeping himself in check in private, in case he slipped up in public. A sad reality.

Still, he nodded at him. “You brought them in as soon as you could, and neither of them were extremely critical. Their vital signs are already improving. Don’t worry, V. You’ll soon be giving them both hugs.”

V nodded slowly and sat back down. Yoongi watched his mate with sad eyes, before looking back to Jin. “Better not keep her waiting. She’ll know you’re coming.”

Jin nodded and began the journey to the top floor.

Few people were allowed near the Director’s office, mostly because they didn’t have clearance, but mostly because she didn’t like ‘useless’ people in her space. Most would consider Jin lucky that the cold woman trusted him so much. But Jin hated having to even be in her presence, yet alone have to entertain her twisted mind.

The elevator opened to the top floor, and Jin noted the familiar fogged-glass hallways, with offices of lower officials talking into phones, or typing furiously at their keyboards. Some technology, it seemed, never fully faded. Jin continued to the secretary’s desk, which was a marble slab with gold edging. A desk that only the Director could ask for, her little, pest control business being so profitable for her. After all, businesses loved giving money to her if she could guarantee protection. The man at the desk looked up at Jin, bored. His suit was perfect, and without wrinkle, a stark difference to the man’s older face, littered with frown and stress-lines. “Ah, Jin, it’s you. The Director was expecting you after the incident.”

Jin smiled, hoping again that it seemed genuine. “Excellent. Either I time these things very well, or the great Director actually likes me.”

The man shrugged, before resuming whatever he’d been doing.

Jin ignored the rude secretary and walked into the Director’s office.

It was massive, comprising of multiple sub-rooms with all sorts of projects within. Jin had been ‘privileged’ enough to see some, and Jin hoped she never invited him again. After watching a live vivisection of a ‘useless’ Beast, Jin had had to get extremely drunk in an attempt to stop his trembling. Even then, the look on the kids face… He still had nightmares. He didn’t know if it was the Director’s way of making sure Jin was loyal, or if she genuinely thought so little of them, treating them as mere creatures.

The main area had a few dioramas of the tower and city-dome, including the taboo Zone 5. There were a thousand holographic screens on throughout the room, sorted between the Beasts, the Tamers, and Parasite sightings. She looked up at Jin and waved a hand, dismissing much of what was there.

“Jin, have a seat.”

And he obeyed. Because there was no denying the Director.

She walked to a table that had food on it, alone with a teapot, which she proceeded to use. After pouring two cups, she walked to Jin and gave him one. “Try it. It’s an exotic blend from the old world.”

Jin nodded and took a sip. It tasted like tea. It was fine, but doctors lived off of harder caffeine than this. V, however, adored whatever tea he’d been allowed to have. If the Director saw them as real people, maybe he would have been here to drink some expensive tea that she definitely didn’t deserve.

Then again, V would never drink with her. He had class, after all.

Jin just smiled. “It’s delicious. What’s the name of the blend?”

“It’s so rare that the only named version has come from a container that was so faded, that only some of the original name remains. Now it’s just called Glish Breakfas.”

Jin nodded. “I have an incident to report.”

“Yes, it would seem. I fired both technicians on duty, since they didn’t send anyone to respond to the situation. We could have lost two excellent subjects if that Tamer and Beast didn’t save them. I haven’t seen potential like that in a long time, and I won’t let it go so easily.”

Jin nodded. “Good to hear, ma’am.”

She sat down with him. “Jin, be honest… You modified Jimin’s results, didn’t you.”

Jin looked her in the eyes, calm, despite the dread that settled over his heart. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Why?”

“His results are very similar to a Beast. I didn’t want it on public records for the Board of Trustees to see. You know how they feel about treating Tamers. They barely allow for Tamers to be humanised, when they are citizens of the great city-dome, not wild animals like the Beasts. If Jimin were to be shown as a Beast-like Tamer, they would force us to change a thousand policies, which in turn would upset the delicate balance we have over the situation.”

She smiled at him, smug. “Very good, Jin. That’s the real reason you came here to see me, correct?”

“Yes, ma’am, although, I was interrupted when they were brought in. I’m sorry it took me so long to bring you the news.”

She nodded. “I was about to summon you myself, since you know that I don’t usually tolerate alterations like that.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She hummed and sipped her tea. “I do believe that this new form of mutation will be very beneficial to study. Find out the exact reason he changed so completely and perfectly. If we are able to replicate it, while keeping the human mindset intact, soon we may have little need of those animals downstairs. Better yet, we would be able to get rid of Suga and Five.”

Jin tried to let the words slide over him, without letting them affect him. A difficult task, but one Jin was practiced in. “Ma’am, are we sure Jimin would be able to beat a Parasite by himself like Five can? After all, Jimin was beaten bloody today, while Five walked away from the same fight without any injuries.”

Her sphinx-like smile widened. “I do believe so. After all, he seemed to do very well in that fight with the previous Number 1, Taurus. He beat him intensely. I believe that Jimin just needs the right stimuli, and proper training. Sad to say, but I know that Suga will be a good teacher.”

“And Hoseok?”

“He seems a tad slower than Jimin, but he seems very strong. He would be a good teacher though, if his records are anything to go by. If we replicate Jimin’s changes, then Hoseok could train the next generation.”

Jin nodded. “True.”

The Director looked him in the eyes. “Anything else to report?”

Jin knew what she was demanding, and as he always did, he responded, “It seems both Jimin and Hoseok have potential Bonds incoming.”

Her eyes sparkled with cruel glee. “Do tell me who the lucky Beasts are.”

“Hoseok is being pursued by One.” She looked delighted. “…And Jimin by… Eleven.”

Her face fell into a twisted glare. “First that Beast attempts to attack him, and now he’s trying to Bond him. This is unacceptable. I refuse. Jimin will have to choose again.”

Jin hummed. “Actually, I’ve noticed that Eleven is very obedient in front of Jimin. He even acts like a new person. I wanted to observe to see how real his pursuit is. Think, ma’am, if Jimin really could tame Eleven, we’d finally be able to control him.”

She thought for a moment. “Fine,” she acquiesced, “but there shall be no accidental Bonds before them. And you will keep me up to date on their progress. At least we’ll have a way to finally control One. He’s very useful, but far too independent for an animal. We need a good leash for him, and I think Hoseok will do.”

Jin nodded. “Exactly my thoughts.”

She smiled. “Thank you for your company, Jin. You’re always so good, making sure your mother is happy.”

Inside, Jin’s stomach twisted into knots, as the hag in front of her called on their only genuine connection. One that Jin would get rid of, if possible. “Of course, mother. I make sure that everything works well for you.”

She stood up and motioned for him to do the same. “Continue to make your mother proud. You may leave. I have work.”

He stood and bowed, before she quickly added, “Make sure Suga and One don’t corrupt them. We need good, loyal fighters. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You are dismissed.”

Jin left before she could add anything else.

He wished with all his might that he didn’t share blood with her. That he wasn’t definitely hers, all naturally hers. It felt like a taint on his soul. Yes, he’d been forced to work for the city due to his birth, but he also knew that she had twisted the system into letting her ‘precious, natural son’ work for her. Keep an eye and her thumb on him. Jin used it to his advantage, since she had a soft spot for him, but she was still incredibly strict, and she knew he’d punish him like a Beast if he pushed too far.

He had the scars on his back to prove it.

It’s why he loved working with the Beasts. Tamers had mostly been brainwashed to exactly how his mother wanted them to be. Beasts were obedient, but they weren’t completely hers. They were people, and he could see that in how they acted. He wanted so much to take care of them, and keep them from harm. Be a shield when the Tamers broke the legs of a weaker Beast. Prevent the indescribable bruising that a Beast experienced in Isolation Punishment. Keep that boy from being vivisected in front of dispassionate scientists and doctors.

He thought they were infinitely more precious than the things in the Tower, the ones that claimed to be human, but were more monstrous than any Parasite.

Some days, Jin prayed that the entire tower would burn down, every little part of this godforsaken program.

He’d be dead too… But maybe then, he’d finally be free.

Chapter Text

Colours slowly filtered through Jimin’s mind, and as felt himself drawn deeper into the dream. It felt more physical than it had been before, where he’d experienced these dreams a natural event that happened. But something felt different this time. He wasn’t sure if it was because of his own awareness of what was to come, something external, or the nature of why he was asleep in the first place.

Even with all the work being done to fix him after being heavily beaten, he still felt broken in little pieces, and the dream didn’t seem to put him together before presenting him to Jeongguk. He whimpered as the pain finally bled out of him, but when the dream solidified, he wished it hadn’t.

He knew too well this dark room, with only one exit.

The stairs ascended up to a door with a keypad and fingerprint lock. Everything else was concrete and damp. There was probably mould growing in the uninsulated cellar, but it had been kept as clean as possible, given the reason it was used.

There were still some bloodstains here and there, where the bleach hadn’t been enough to properly wash it away. There were cuffs chained to the wall, a metal desk with a few instruments on it. But most importantly there was the Chair.

Jimin couldn’t look at it. Not at the restraints which had bound him so many times that he had scars there. Not at the top which had a vice for keeping his head still. The discolorations, borne from beatings where he’d been so in pain that he’d lost control of bodily functions.

Why was he here?

Jeongguk’s meadow was so beautiful, so peaceful. The cliffs had been breath-taking and made him feel powerful.

Why was he here?

As if on some wicked cue, he heard the door unlock.

“…Why aren’t you in the chair, Park Jimin?”

 

~~~

Jimin screamed hoarsely into the tube in his mouth, and he felt like the restraints were still binding him down. Every wire was tugging at his skin, like a scalpel cutting him open. He cried and brought his hands up to rip away the things in his body, but he felt weak, like he’s been wasting away.

Where was Jeongguk? He needed him.

Through the panic, he couldn’t feel the warmth in his body, nor the Tamer beside him, attempting to soothe him. He tried to speak, but the tube in his throat stopped him, and he gargled past it, feeling like it was choking him. He started to struggle more, every inch of his body rebelling from the terror of waking up bound again.

Not again.

Not like this.

Where was-

Then he felt something else. That spark that he knew was his Kookie. It tugged at his mind, gentle and soothing despite the pure energy felt behind it. Without any further encouragement, Jimin felt his body slowly relax, melting into the soft hand on his shoulder. He peered up, trying to see past the mask on his face, and he saw the gentle blue eyes he’d been missing. As their gazes met, he saw Jeongguk’s eyes flicker with that small light, before the Beast smiled at him.

Jimin tried to smile back, but a wave on exhaustion broke through him, and he was unsure how he’d even managed to struggle like he did, not when he felt so weak.

Jeongguk just stroked his shoulder soothingly, and soon Jimin felt himself completely settled. The tubes were to keep him alive, not trap him. He wasn’t bound, and, if he wanted, he could take everything off.

They both heard Yoongi clear his voice. “It seems like it’s time to get that off you, kid. But I, uh, I don’t know how. Neither does V.”

Jimin frowned a little and looked around.

The shaking of Yoongi’s head told him enough, but the older Tamer still said, “Jin isn’t back after seeing the Director. He shouldn’t be much longer. You both healed normally, but you woke faster than we expected, Jimin.”

He felt his eyes tear up, and Jimin looked around for Hoseok. He’d heard he was okay, but he needed to see him. Have that tactile element to confirm that his hyung was okay. He’d been so proud of him for pushing through and fighting despite the odds, but Hobi hadn’t deserved what happened to him. He felt it like a pit in his stomach. He hadn’t protected him. A bad friend. A bad dongsaeng.

Without warning, his bed started to rise, or at least the top half did. Jimin squeaked, until he saw that Jeongguk had found the remote. The beast smiled softly at him, and Jimin knew that, somehow, the Beast had understood what Jimin needed. Jimin tried to convey how grateful he was, and Jeongguk just nodded knowingly. As his gaze left his Beast, he looked to where Hoseok lay sleeping peacefully. He wore a mask like Jimin, and had tubes in a few places, but otherwise seemed completely fine. Jimin felt the last coil of stress in his body unfurl, and he relaxed back into the mattress, letting himself feel good under the small sparks that were still running through him from Kookie.

Just as Jimin felt his eyelids droop, they heard Jin storm back in, his countenance dark and frustrated. Yoongi’s eyebrows rose up and his mouth opened to talk, but one look from Jin silenced him. V went over to him and offered a hand, but Jin pushed it away with a shake of his head. Dejected, V went to his Tamer and leaned into his side, the Beast’s pout obvious, but he looked as though he expected the outcome.

“Alright, Jimin. Time to get you off the machines.” Even the doctor’s voice conveyed exhaustion and frustration, so Jimin just let the doctor do what he needed to do. Jin made quick work out of the equipment and help to couch Jin through the breathing machine removal. Jimin managed to squash down the urge to gag as the tube slid up his throat, and Jin looked impressed for a moment, before continuing his work. As soon as Jimin was free, Jin moved onto Hoseok, checking vitals, before removing a majority of things, including the breathing apparatus.

Jimin turned to Jeongguk, and took the Beast’s hand in his own, and was pleased when he was rewarded with a squeeze.

As Jin finished he sat down with a huff, letting himself sink into the fluffy, pink chair, which did little to disguise his mood.

“Yoongi… V… You’ve both got a storm coming.”

Yoongi nodded. “I expected as much. Will Hoseok and Jimin be okay?”

“Yes, and no. It depends on how obedient they and their partners are.”

V shivered, and Yoongi blinked. “You told her about them?”

“Was I not meant to, when I know what Eleven is already planning? Besides, if not me, it would have been someone else, and that person would say too much.”

Jimin blinked at looked at Jeongguk. “Wait, what’s happened?” His voice was much huskier than normal, and the sound of it made Jeongguk’s smile dip.

Jin looked at Eleven, his eyes narrowed. “Nod yes, or shake for no, but tell me the truth, Eleven. When you found out that Jimin had been injured, you immediately planned to hurt the ones who did it. Yes or no?”

Jimin watched him with wide eyes. Jeongguk’s gaze flicked from Jimin to Jin, then back again, like he was nervous to answer. “Go on.” Jimin urged him. Conceding, the Beast nodded.

“See, exactly. If I didn’t say anything to the Director, then she would have him flayed for what he was planning to do. Now she understands the reasoning, like she does when V acts out.” V didn’t look convinced, but Yoongi hummed. “She does pull her punches when she can see the logic. Barely.”

“But the thing is, Eleven, if you do that, then not just you… but also Jimin will be punished.”

Eleven ripped his hand out of Jimin’s and stood, his eyes scary and serious. He shook his head, trying to convey that it wouldn’t happen, but Jin just sighed. “It’s true. Because if you won’t listen to your partner, she’ll make him suffer in an attempt to reign you in.”

Jeongguk looks like he’s about to growl, when Jimin’s hand on his calms him down. He looks at Jimin, unsure.

“I have an idea, you know… A way to get back at them without actively going against rules.”

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “Do tell…”

Jimin grinned, a little malicious, but somehow still charming. “I tried to show superiority to them and let them know I was better in the nice way. Seems like that didn’t work. So now we have to try the other way…

Leaning forward, Yoongi responds with a twinkle in his eye. “Which is?”

“Humiliation.”

 

~~~

Jimin nearly didn’t fall asleep that night. Yoongi and Jin had automatically began planning all manner of different solutions to the issues, ones that would help Jimin with his Tamer problem. Strike the iron while it’s hot, so the saying went. And Jimin didn’t want to deal with petty children like this. Even when he was teaching dance, he’d seen more dignified tantrums. And those were from literal children. The discussion in the doctor’s room had gone back and forth, with even V commenting. Slowly, they made a plan.

Hoseok didn’t wake up, which Jin said was normal, and that he’d be his bright, sunny self tomorrow. Still, Jimin worried. It was one of his most beloved past-times, in a way. Worrying, that is.

But Jimin, despite being exhausted, mentally and physically, he couldn’t force himself to sleep that night. He knew why.

He hadn’t dreamed of the cellar for so long, his dreams of Jeongguk completely replacing them. While he’d never particularly enjoyed being woken by the sensation of falling, he much preferred the rush of adrenalin that came with it, over the stink of fear that he’d wake up with any other morning. He hadn’t realised exactly how attached he’d become to the dreams with his Beast, until he was met with a time where the dream didn’t happen.

Now he was afraid.

Now that he and Jeongguk had acknowledged each other, would the dreams end?

Did he have to go back to the nightmares again?

Hadn’t he had enough?

Jimin shivered and looked to his side.

Jeongguk had fell asleep sometime after Yoongi and V had left. Jin had stayed to check on their vitals and other details that he’d missed. Jeongguk couldn’t stay awake, obviously bored from the jargon the two used, and he’d pulled a chair closer to Jimin’s bedside, so he could hold his hand, and lean his head close to Jimin’s body. He’d blushed when the Beast did so, but Jin just smiled, albeit sadly. “I didn’t believe it when Yoongi said that Eleven liked you. Thought no one could tame that one. But you proved me wrong…” Jin looked away. “…Make sure that you make him seem like a complete animal, Jimin. You need to get the heat off you.”

Jimin had just nodded, allowing Jin to leave.

Jimin felt his eyes slipping down. Sleep was coming, whether he wanted it to or not. He tried not to whimper out his distress. He figured that Jeongguk should also be asleep, after all. And stay asleep.

 

When he opened his eyes, he nearly moaned in relief. Beautiful blue skies, with birds flying free through the currents. The grass was soft on his skin, and the aroma of wildflowers swept through him.

Jeongguk’s meadow.

A small chuckle sounded beside him, and Jimin turned to look at his Beast. Only to feel his heart thump in his chest.

Without the blur over him, Jeongguk’s beautiful features saturated his being. He realised that in the Academy, the Beast had grown thin, his skin pale and dry. This being in front of him was like a god among men. His skin a gorgeous golden hue, his muscles prominent and overwhelming. The light of his now visible markings flared like forked lightening over his skin, and Jimin caught himself staring. Cheeks that were hollowed out in the Academy, now were flushed, as he noticed Jimin eying him hungrily.

“Do you see me now, little Tamer?”

Despite not hearing that real voice, the one which had rocked Jimin free from his sanity, Jimin still felt the undeniable pull to the Beast, and he launched himself at him. Jeongguk was startled for a second, his eyes going wide, before he smiled his adorable bunny smile and hugged Jimin close to him.

“I think that’s a yes.”

“A definite yes. Why didn’t you tell me who you were?”

“You needed to accept it yourself. Just because a Beast initiates a Bond, doesn’t mean a Tamer has to take it.”

“Initiates?”

“I’m pretty sure Nine tried to initiate with you. I’m sure the other Beasts would have as well. But you didn’t feel the pull to them, did you?”

“N-no… I was sort of… Distracted.”

The Beast’s eyes shone. “By me?”

Snorting, he pushed at Jeongguk’s chest, causing a warm laugh to fall from his lips. Jimin pouted. “Maybe from you.”

Jeongguk sighed, his fingers running gently in circles over the places where he held Jimin. “I’ll take that. I’m glad hyung found me. It was hard to ignore you.”

“You were ignoring me?”

“For your sake. I know that they wouldn’t want me near. As a renegade, and all.” Jeongguk’s jaw flexed a little but was set straight. Jimin cuddled closer into his arms, waiting until Jeongguk relaxed into him.

“I don’t think you’re a renegade, Kookie.”

He sighed and nuzzled him. “Thank you, Jimin-hyung. But you’re wrong. Jin was right. The moment I knew you were okay, I planned on finding those monsters and pulverising them. I’d ignore the pain from the implant if I could do that for you.”

Jimin shivered. “Thank god you don’t have to.”

A hum was his only answer, but he continued to pamper his Tamer, first with gentle strokes, then with his massage, making Jimin feel like he’d been sent to heaven. Jimin somehow managed to regain his tongue, and he asked, “Do you think it’s a good plan?”

Jeongguk hummed. “It could be. But it depends on how well we can act.”

“And your temper.”

He chuckled. “And my temper.”

The pause between them, while comfortable, made Jimin feel nervous. No. Guilty.

“I’ll have to say horrible things about you, Kook.”

“I know.”

“You’ll be seen as nothing after this. Maybe even by the other Beasts.”

“I know.”

“Doesn’t that bother you?”

“…It did. But I also know that you’re right. We have to play the long game to stay together.”

“…I… don’t really get that.”

Jeongguk looked down. “Get what?”

“…Why you’d want that.”

“Because I want you.” Before Jimin could respond, Jeongguk continued, “You’re my beautiful, gorgeous Tamer. And you’re so strong and smart. I don’t see why I wouldn’t. And even if you see otherwise, it doesn’t matter. I don’t, and I won’t.”

Jimin’s eyes wonder down, ashamed to meet the blatant love in Jeongguk’s eyes. He couldn’t match that. Not yet anyway. “I could tell you some reasons to see it.”

“You could, but you’d be wrong.”

Jimin closed his eyes, trembling under the weight of the Beasts love, as it pressed in on him like an aura. He wanted it so bad… But it was still terrifying.

“It’s okay, Jimin-hyung. We’ll be fine. We’ll get through this. Together.”

Squeezing his eyes, he holds Jeongguk tighter.

“Promise?”

“I’ve promised before, and I’ll promise again. I’ll take care of you. We’re going to make it.”

 

~~~

When Jimin woke, Jeongguk was still right there, sleeping sweetly and smiling in his sleep. Jimin smiled gently in return and ran his hand through the thick curls on his head, marvelling at how silky they felt. Despite the touch, Jeongguk remained in a deep sleep. If anything, he seemed more asleep than before, which made Jimin chuckle.

He heard a soft groan, and he looked over to his hyung, smiling as Hoseok opened his eyes. The redhead groaned. “Jimin?”

“I’m here, Hobi-hyung.”

“Why do I feel like I got ran over by a truck of bricks?”

“Because we may as well have been?”

He pouted before sitting up. “Wait… Does RM know what happened?”

Silent, Jimin just shrugged. Hoseok sighed and started to get up. Panicked, Jimin took his hand away from Jeongguk’s hair. “Wait, Hoseok, you should wait for Jin. Just to make sure you’re okay after all that!”

“I don’t have anything attaching me. I assume I’m fine. RM needs to know I’m okay.”

Jimin grasped for words but knew that once Hoseok had made up his mind, there was no easy way to unmake it. He decided to follow him, in case he needed help, but the movement shifted the Beast beside him, and Jeongguk finally opened his eyes. He blinked up at them both.

Hoseok, noticing the Beast, smiled brightly at him. “Hello, JK. How are you doing?”

Jeongguk blinked, eyes wide and unsure. He looked at Jimin, who just smiled warmly at him. Taking his cue, the Beast bowed his head to Hoseok, a small, shy smile playing on his lips. Hoseok immediately cooed and went over to him. Jeongguk didn’t have time to pull away, before Hoseok had his cheeks in his hands. “Oh, you’re so cute, JK! I can’t believe they’re so scared of such a cute bunny!”

Jeongguk blushed a very deep shade of crimson.

Jimin attempted to reign in his own laughter, but failed, and soon he was leaning on the side of the bed for support. His Beast pouted at him, but there was a gentle light coming from his eyes, and he can’t have been truly upset. He hoped.

Hoseok smiled. “Since Jiminie is so worried about me, you can escort us both to RM, right?”

Jeongguk smiled and nodded, gesturing for them to follow, and they did, happily. Hoseok seemed tense the moment they made it to the elevator. His eyes shifted around, trying to see if another attack was inbound. Jimin immediately ground his teeth in attempt to ignore the actions. The plan was already underway. If it went well, they would be able to finish training without anymore issues like petty bullies.

As the elevator arrived, it opened on a trio of familiar people, all of which looking surprised. V recovered first, before the elevator door closed. He held his hand forward, and grinned happily, the temperature rising noticeably.

Yoongi chuckled. “You really couldn’t wait for us?”

Hoseok shrugged. “One will be worried about me.”

Yoongi grinned, his gums showing. “He really is. He wanted to break out of the library just to make sure his Hobi-hyung was okay. Which would have been a disaster.”

Dejected, Hobi looked down. “Because he’d be punished?”

“No, because he’s so clumsy, he’d probably break you more than anyone else could. Broken bones because of an enthusiastically clumsy Beast. A disaster. Same thing.”

Hoseok blinked. “…Oh.”

V grinned with his partner, his boxy smile a good match for his Tamer’s.

Jin rolled his eyes. “Come on, you two. I need to make sure you’re actually clear to go.”

They walked back to the room, and, true to his word, Jin began to look over them both thoroughly, before discharging them formally. Yoongi cleared his throat. “The Director agreed to the demonstration. She wanted a way to punish those boys, without permanent injury to her subjects. She expects results, Jimin.”

Jimin nodded. “When?”

“Two hours. You better start stretching.”

Jimin balked. “Two hours? How the hell does she think I’ll ready that soon?”

“Like I said. She expects results. It’s not you. It’s her being a poisonous bitch.”

Jin snorted at that.

Yoongi smiled knowingly.

Neither Jimin nor Hoseok caught that moment, but Jeongguk saw it.

V stepped forward to Jimin and pulled him towards the door. “I can help you warmup for the fights. Eleven can too.”

“You mean JK.” Jimin said softly, smiling at his Beast. Jeongguk puffed out his chest, proud of the name his beloved gave him. V blinked and giggled. “So, we’re all letters?”

“Is that… bad?”

V smirked. “Only if the letters mean nothing.”

Hoseok smiled gently. “RM means Real Me. Or at least, that’s what he wants it to mean.”

Yoongi nods sagely, “V is for Victory.”

Jin smirked. “Not for Vendetta?”

Yoongi blinked. “Huh?”

Blushing, the doctor ducked his head. “Sorry, old world story.”

V beamed. “Victory and Vendetta!” He went to Yoongi happily and cuddled into him from behind, before looking back to Jimin. “What does JK mean?”

Jimin paused for a moment, unsure how to answer. After all, it was a derivative of the Beast’s real name. Hoseok seemed to realise this but had nothing to say.

Without any prompting, Jeongguk raised his hands and made a motion which meant nothing to the humans in the room. V, however, erupted into delighted giggles. “Oh, that’s so cool! Joker! He’s a prankster, and a wild card! That’s so smart, Jimin! I love it!”

Jimin looked at Jeongguk, confused, and the Beast simply winked back. Jimin felt himself flush before he shrugged. “It just felt right.”

Yoongi rolled his shoulders. “Come on. Time to get ready, you two. Actually, all of us should. This will be a shitshow.”

They all nodded and started towards the fighting grounds. Jimin hadn’t expected to visit them again so soon. But he wasn’t going to take this down without a fight.

For Hobi.

For himself.

 

~~~

The Tamers were all brought into the room, ready for another lesson, this time on fighting. Jimin sat ready and waiting, having been excused from the first lesson with Hoseok. They sat, meek and to the side, waiting for the others to filter in. The Beasts had all arrived, except for One, who even at that moment was not allowed to leave the library.

Jimin felt nerves race up his spine at what he needed to do next. He knew Jeongguk had agreed, but it felt dirty, even before he’d done it. He flicked his eyes up to his Beast briefly, who was looking at him. As the others came in, his expression smoothed into one of indifference. His eyes were still warm for Jimin, which cause a pool of warmth to flit through his stomach. Jimin sighed and looked down.

As the others walked in, the instructors gathered, in time for the Director herself to walk in, followed by her entourage of soldiers, and now some assistants with notebooks open.

The Tamers all gaped at her presence, and followed her with their bodies, like sunflowers to an ice-cold sun. She walked straight to the middle of the ring, before turning around to all the Tamers.

“Hello, trainees and Tamers. It seems that a few unfortunate events have occurred. People who I thought were good Tamers were proven to not be very good. They questioned my decision-making, which is bad enough alone, but then they attacked two of our own.”

The murmur between the Tamers, while guilty and even repentant in places, only served to anger her more.

“Did I say you could speak?”

It was said quietly, but the words were so harsh, that a chilling silence descended over the room. She nodded and continued. “It seems the cause was that people were upset at the new ranking. Questioning why the new members were ranked high.” She looked at Jimin and Hoseok, her eyes cold and calculating.

After a moment of silence, she nods her head. One of the instructors rises and reads names off a list. At the end, he requests for the people called to stand. They do, most of them shaking in fear. The little leader, in particular, seemed terrified. The Director looked down at them, unimpressed. “Since you seem to believe in unfair fights, you will each fight a Beast that I choose for you. I’ve told them not to hold back. No Abilities. But you should know they don’t need it. If they break your bones, then I suppose you should have guarded properly.”

If they seemed terrified before, they were horrified now.

The Beasts looked at the Tamers standing, their eyes bright and expectant. They wanted this. All of them. Jimin could tell that this plan of his was going to work. Much more than he expected.

One by one, the Director called out a Tamer and a Beast.

The first fight was frighteningly brief. The Tamer barely took a fighting stance before the Beast threw her hard into the wall on the opposite side of the room. It spared no glance at the girl, not caring as she coughed up blood, a response to possible fractured ribs. He just shrugged and went back to the others.

One of the next Tamers began babbling in fear from the possibility of the pain. Jimin didn’t really envy them, but certainly didn’t feel bad for them. He’d felt pain too many times to empathise with that fear.

The next few fights were more of the same. Broken bones, being throwed to the roof and worse. One boy had to be dragged out of the ring, as he hadn’t been thrown out like the others. Jimin noted that Nine, who he barely recognised in the moment, had amazing strength. One punch to a burly Tamer’s stomach, and the boy collapsed in on himself like he’d had his spine snapped in half. Maybe it had. Either way, she looked happy, but bored after a quick result.

The last trainee called was the leader. And the Director smiled, scaring Jimin to the core.

“Eleven, step forward.”

Jimin gripped his legs, knowing that this was it. Time to prove himself.

Eleven stepped forward, his eyes predatory. He briefly looked over to Jimin, before focusing on the person in front of him. The leader looked very scared, despite him trying to swagger up to Jeongguk. The Tamers still watching held their breath, knowing how dangerous Eleven was. It was clear from their faces, they expected that Eleven would kill this kid. Jimin was worried that he might.

The Director called for the fight to begin, and the Tamer rushed forward to hit Eleven.

He succeeded… Not that it was effective. Jeongguk scoffed.

The Tamer’s face paled, and Jeongguk reached forward, too fast to follow, and flicked a finger on the Tamer’s shoulder. The scream of agony was unexpected to most, but Jimin had seen the move coming, based on where Jeongguk’s feet and arms had been placed. Even as the leader crumpled, the Beast just smirked, relentless, and flicked his other shoulder in the same way. Like Jimin’s fight, it was fight until first blood, or unconsciousness. This way of fighting, slowly injuring the Tamer and causing broken bones, it prolonged the fight in a cruel way. The Tamer called for mercy, and tried to yield, but the Director turned up her nose, unaccepting of a boy trying to change the rules of the ring.

Jeongguk kept going, until the boy was on the floor, every bone in his limbs broken. He would have kept going, but Jimin decided it was enough. It wasn’t enjoyable to watch anymore. It was just pathetic. He stood up. “Madam Director. May I request for the Beast to finish this match? He’s clearly won.”

She peered down at Jimin and nodded.

Jimin turned back to Jeongguk. “That’s enough. Finish the match, JK.”

The Tamers gasped at the nickname, even the Director pursed her lips. Still, JK scratched the Tamer on the cheek, drawing a tiny amount of blood to end the fight. The leader was somehow still conscious. He whimpered in pain, as a few doctors took him away immediately, ready to patch up the foolish person.

The Director turned to Jimin. “So, Jimin. After this, I believe it’s time to see if this… JK… is actually obedient.” She looked at Taurus, before smiling. “It seems that you’ve fallen into hot water twice with the same Tamer.” She turned to Jimin, and to JK. “You see, this Tamer decided to incite your attack. Not only did he attempt to have you beaten by himself, but he put you in danger again.”

Jimin felt Jeongguk tense beside him, not having known who had hurt Jimin in the first place, even if it were emotional pain initially. Jimin just allowed the Beast to psych himself up. The Director motions the other Tamer forward, who looked much less cocky in front of Eleven. He stepped into the ring. The Director grinned.

“Minor rule change. Only being beaten to unconsciousness with secure the win. Good luck.”

Before Taurus could even react, the Director called for the match to begin, and Jeongguk rushed him. Taurus tried very hard, but Eleven was unstoppable. His muscles were practically wasted on the flimsy Tamer, as Taurus put up no real fight. JK clawed at him and broke him piece by piece, but never enough to make him unconscious. If anything, he was pulling his punches, working to defeat him savagely. Humiliatingly.

Jimin frowned, seeing that JK was getting lost of the fight, and as the Beast punched at the Tamer, he finally saw the man go limp after his Beast’s fists had pounded especially hard in the stomach. Still, JK kept going, adding more injury, and veering dangerously into his own rage.

The Director said nothing, waiting for Eleven’s Tamer to fix the situation. And he would.

Jimin stood and went to the Beast, before shoving him off the unconscious body. “Enough, Eleven.” JK snarled, and Jimin looked at him, unimpressed. He lifted his bracelet.

“Inject Eleven.”

The pain in Jeongguk’s face was immediate, and Jimin felt bile rise in his stomach as his Beast twisted and groaned on the floor. The other Tamers stared up at him, expecting the renegade Beast to attack him. The Beasts looked up at him, fearful. Perhaps Nine and One had told them that Jimin was kind. This behaviour was the opposite of that. Nine, in particular, seemed shocked and stepped back slightly, lowering her eyes away. Jimin just remained impassive, until Jeongguk stopped writhing. He knelt in front of him.

“You did very bad, didn’t you? The rules were to stop when he went unconscious.”

Jeongguk nodded slowly.

Jimin looked down his nose at him. “Are you going to disobey us again?”

Jeongguk shook his head.

Jimin smiled then. “Good boy, JK. I thought I’d have to take away your nickname already. That would have been upsetting.”

His Beast leaned forward, and leaned his head against Jimin’s leg, like an animal trying to rub against their owner, and Jimin kicked him away. “No, you don’t deserve a treat yet. You have to earn that.”

The Beast nodded and knelt in front of him.

Jimin finally looked up at the Director. Even though she knew that Eleven had formed a connection with Jimin, she looked shocked at how placid the Beast had become. She wasn’t the only one.

“What the hell is this? A game between you two?”

Jimin looked over at Chunhei, the girl looking bewildered at the development. Even Jimin wasn’t exactly sure why it was that Jeongguk had chosen him. But now wasn’t the time to show that confusion. It was time for him to show how hard he was, especially towards those who messed with his boys.

“A game? What? I told you that Eleven had given me his attention. I thought we were meant to tame them. Was I wrong?” He turned to the Director, genuinely confused.

She smiled. “You are correct, although you have taken it more literally than most.”

“Of course, I did. They’re animals. Dangerous. But animals can be taught. It’s all about the balance of punishment and reward. Honestly, I feel like dogs would be harder to train than this one.” He ruffled Jeongguk’s hair roughly, possessively. The Beast closed his eyes, looking happy at the attention.

“No one can tame that one. It’s a mutt.”

“Mutts are trainable. In fact, they are more so than purebreds. Trust me, I checked.”

She narrowed her eyes. “As if a Zone 3 trash would know about purebreds.”

Jimin snorted but felt genuine anger at her dismissive tone. He wondered briefly if she knew Hoseok was from Zone 4. He hoped she didn’t. “I’m a Zone 2 Park, actually. You think I don’t know what the difference between breeds are? I remember Yang’s being fairly unimportant in Zone 2. So why are you bringing up your breeding when it’s barely better than Zone 3.”

She flushed in anger, standing up quickly, as though she was about to run forward to hit him. She would have, if Jimin hadn’t calmly stated, “JK, immobilise her.”

Faster than the Tamer could watch, the Beast pinned her to the ground, unmoving and perfectly trapping her. She gasped in shock and attempted to escape. But JK was far too strong. Jimin leaned over. “Do you want a fair fight with me. Fine… But I beat Taurus with ease. What makes you different?”

Her eyes widened at that. Slowly she looked away. Satisfied, Jimin simply said, “That’s enough JK, let her go.”

He did immediately, and Chunhei backed away. Jimin reached out a hand, to which Jeongguk happily pressed his face to. “Good, JK. You did very well. Go back to the others.”

Jeongguk nodded and wandered back to the Beasts. They all looked down, disappointed that Jimin was like the other Tamers. But Jimin didn’t have time to waste for them to understand. He looked at the Director. “It seems as though these Tamers don’t know how to actually Tame Beasts. Like any other animal, there must be a level of acceptance by them to us. And like animals, only punishing them just makes them unresponsive. Once they belong to you, then you can discipline them for disobedience.”

The Director looked impressed and nodded to the Tamers present.

“Do you see why he is ranked so high? Because he actually knows what he’s doing. The rest of you… Time to get back to work. Even if you’ve graduated from the original program, you’ll all be tasked with learning how to Tame them. Because, if Beasts can do this easily,” She pointed to Taurus on the ground, “Then you need to know how to control them. And none of you do. It’s back to the drawing board. If Eleven can be tamed, surely miracles exist. Time to use that to our advantage.”

Jimin looked at her from the side. He was pleased that they’d impressed the Director, but he wasn’t sure how this would affect the Beasts.

The Tamers were eventually dismissed. Most seemed shaken by the events of the session, as it was mostly one for punishment, not pure learning. Some seemed impressed by Jimin. Others obviously hated him, in the same way that Jimin expected Yoongi and V to be hated.

The Director stayed behind, smiled smugly at him. “I knew you would be an asset, although it appears you’ve been spending a lot of time in the Library, or in the presence of Beasts. Why is that?”

Jimin bit his lips and tried to act resigned. “I’ve tried to make friends with the others here, but when they treat you as though you’re not worthy of their attention, it’s a bit off-putting. So, I’ve been honing my skills with the tools of the trade. Learning what I can from them, while also keeping in mind that they are animals that don’t understand the greater good of this whole academy.”

The proud shine in the Director’s eyes makes Jimin happy to see, and she reaches a hand forward. “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep going. I’ve never seen a Beast bow to a Tamer so quickly, without the Tamer being as wild as the Beasts. It’s definitely the problem I have with Yoongi, so I’m glad you’re able to handle this without lowering yourself to the level of those animals.” She looked at Eleven, before back to Jimin. “We were considering putting Eleven down since he was so unresponsive to everyone. But now there’s a bit more hope for the creature. A useful Beast is difficult to find. A useful Tamer even more so. Take care. I expect a great deal from you, Park.”

She nodded and walked off, her entourage following. As she did so, she flicked her hand, and the Beasts followed dutifully, confused at the exchange between Jimin and Jeongguk, and obviously hurt by it. Jimin tried to let it go.

Jimin looked back to Hoseok, before feeling his legs give out. Being alone made all the adrenaline drain away from him. Jeongguk caught him though, and smiled at him, excited. Jimin chuckled. “We did well, didn’t we?”

Trying to plan this was mostly so they’d be believable to the Director. Convince her that JK was under Jimin’s control. Simple in theory. Yoongi had said that Jeongguk would have to get an injection. Jimin had to show that he’d discipline Eleven. Jin had given him a pill that would deaden his senses substantially, allowing him to have no aftereffects from the injection. But it was risky. If he was too deadened, then they’d know that he wasn’t feeling as much pain as needed. And there was no chance to change the dosage in the field. Jimin had to quickly learn from V and Suga about how to handle the upcoming fight and keep Jeongguk focused. V’s solution had been more extreme, wanting it to be theatrical. Jimin’s Beast had been horrified by the idea and had been pleased when his Tamer defended him.

Hoseok grinned. “I think that will keep the Tamers busy.”

“If nothing else… They won’t come for us while JK’s here.”

The Beast smiled and leaned into his Tamer. Jimin let out a slow breath, feeling the anxiety fade away, before he finally smiled.

V looked up at him, before lifting his fingers to his face, making a very familiar shape.

Jimin reflected it. “Victory, right?”

The boxy smile on V’s face was delighted. And that’s all that mattered to Jimin in that moment. His hyung bouncing happily and getting ready to see his man. V and Suga, both of whom were smiling. Even Jin, waiting in the corner if things went wrong, was delighted in the outcome.

He turned to Jeongguk, who seemed tired with the injection and drug in his system. Jimin puts his hand on the Beasts cheek, forcing him to look Jimin in the eyes.

“Let’s go rest.”

Jeongguk smiled.

They would be okay.

Chapter Text

Jimin had hoped that there would be a sense of relief after the showdown. Maybe a flicker of real victory, or some sort of reassurance. Unfortunately, after the small, almost non-verbal celebration, things went back to normal. Hoseok and Jimin were taken to classes, for more lessons on themselves, the Beasts, and the Parasites.

Despite there being so much ‘information’ on the monsters, so much of it was contradicting, and that which wasn’t at odds with itself, was what Jin and Yoongi had already told him.

Days passed, and Jimin came to realise that he was getting nowhere with his research. He just wanted to understand why they were being attacked. Why Parasites happened to create Tamers. It was a strange consequence, especially if Tamers could kill Parasites. What, then, was the purpose of the creatures creating people like Jimin? More pressing, why did some change more than others? He and Jin had begun to look more into both his and Hoseok’s medical charts, both pre and post change. They’d compared it to the other Tamers, attempting to make sense of the information.

Jin originally theorised that Jimin and Hoseok may have changed more than the others because of genetic factors. Jimin hadn’t agreed, since Zone 4 had a very small percentage of genetic modification, and he and Hoseok knew that, while Hoseok hadn’t been modified, they also knew there were other Tamers from Zone 4, who had barely changed, or changed in disproportionately. Many of those people had also been genetically natural. Still, Jin thought there was something there, especially since Jimin was, in Jin’s words, “The most genetically pure person he’d seen.” Jin made it sound like a compliment, which meant that Jimin wouldn’t punch him in his handsome face.

Even if Jin said it was good, and said it was why he was able to be so strong, he didn’t care for it. His genes had been a curse for too long.

To distract himself from the research and lessons, he’d hide himself away in the gym. Without fail, Jeongguk always found him there. And without fail, the Beast would make Jimin feel relaxed, safe, and even happy. His small smile always made butterflies flit around in his stomach. There were, however, moments where he felt violently nervous because of JK, mostly when the Beast lifted something that weighed a small car and did so with ease. Theoretically, Jimin knew he was safe with JK, but his mind liked to play games on him. Sometimes, Jimin had trained so hard that there were days where he could barely walk back to his room. Those were the few days where Jeongguk would act less like a dog, and more like the smart and wonderful person he was, despite the risk it involved. He’d pick up his Tamer, despite the complaints, and walk him back to his room, sending sparks through him that eased the pain in his muscles. Jimin tried to not show how much he appreciated it.

The reality of their plan was that he and his Beast weren’t able to communicate freely. To solidify the image of Jimin as a hard Tamer, the other Beasts hadn’t been informed of their plan. RM had told them firmly that the others wouldn’t be able to keep up the façade. They already had a handicap with Yoongi, who, despite his best efforts, was an abysmal actor. They’d gotten past it, by having him only report Jimin’s progress physically and academically. V, on the other hand, was so good at acting on edge around Jimin, that he was flinched so violently that Jimin nearly apologised out of instinct. He’d held himself back, but he’d had to remind himself that V wasn’t actually scared of him. Neither was Jeongguk, who sometimes had to act like he was afraid of punishment.

But nothing felt worse than having to punish his JK. While the excuses were always flimsy, and always public, it never lessoned his guilt. One time, he’d nearly thrown up, just watching how the Beast’s body twisted unnaturally in pain. Knowing he’d done that to him.

Night, and RM’s room were the only reprieves for all of them.

When Jimin dreamed, he would find himself in a forest location. Sometimes it was familiar, like the meadow. Other times, he’d find himself on an extremely tall tree, with a bunch on cushions and blankets, fashioned like a nest in the sky-bound branches. No matter where they ended up, Jimin loved it.

Jeongguk always told him about the places. Every location something of his childhood, or of his people. The Sky Tree, in particular, was where his people lived, all of them. It was the tallest place within the entire forest and was the perfect place for Beasts of the sky. He showed Jimin how to climb up the branches, even without flight. They would cuddle in the nest, and just be together in a way they couldn’t anywhere else. The only place where both he and JK could be one.

Still, Jeongguk worried that the dreams might not be as good for them as what Jimin thought they were. He still had no idea what they were, nor where they came from. He made it clear to Jimin that they didn’t come because of the Bond they currently had, nor the one they would have. The Beast had spoken to RM about it, in their way. Neither of them had been able to come to any conclusion. The only thing they agreed on was an exceptionally strong Ability. One which couldn’t belong to anyone within the city-dome. Jin had suggested it was Jimin, since he was nearly a Beast after his change, but the Beasts had both dismissed the idea. Jimin, likewise, knew it couldn’t be him. He’d been having these dreams before he’d even been changed. It seemed that no matter what they did, the questions wouldn’t be answered.

Yoongi and V had to leave often. After making sure that Jimin and Hoseok were settled, the Director continued to push them into more ‘slave labour’ as Yoongi called it. Whenever they arrived back, V would give cuddles to Jimin for enough time to make JK pout and glare at him. Of course, this made the capricious Beast even more clingy. Jimin had asked Yoongi why V did it.

He looked him dead in the eye. “He likes your body warmth. He’s literally warming up.”

Jimin frowned. “But he’s a Beast that uses fire. Can’t he just warm himself? And why doesn’t he do it to you?”

Yoongi pouted. “…I’m not warm enough.”

Jin and Hoseok had overheard, and they both cackled at that. Blushing, Yoongi ran away, back to his Beast.

The next time V made a beeline for him, Jimin tried to push him back. “You’re making your Tamer jealous…”

V scoffed, looked Yoongi up and down, before jumping in Jimin’s lap. And he purred. Like a damn cat.

Which was when JK picked up V and shoved him onto his own Tamer. In front of RM, Hoseok and Jin, he sat on Jimin’s lap, replacing V entirely, and nuzzled the flustered Tamer. Jin looked scandalised, and covered his eyes, whining at these brash youngsters. Hoseok merely looked at RM like he was getting ideas, which only made the painfully whipped Beast a stuttering mess. It was when JK started to nip at his neck, that Jimin realised how out of it Jeongguk really was.

“JK, stop. It’s too much.”

The Beast startled and looked up at him. Yet again, Jimin was entranced by those devastating blue eyes, which seemed stormier than he’d seen before. But what broke his heart was the wobble of the Beast’s lip. Jimin gasped.

“JK, what’s wrong?”

Jeongguk opened his mouth, before stopping. Usually when he had to explain something to the Tamers, he’d have RM work as a mouthpiece. But this time was different. He looked down, dejected, before sliding off Jimin’s lap. His Tamer attempted to keep him close, but Jimin wasn’t strong enough to stop him, as JK ran out.

Jimin stared after him but didn’t follow. He’d learned that if JK wanted to be alone, there was little he could do to stop him. The Beast was faster, stronger, and yet somehow stealthier than him. He looked to Yoongi for answers, but he seemed as lost as Jimin.

RM cleared his voice.

The Tamers and Jin all looked at the gentle Beast, and RM smiled. “I think… You may have accidentally rejected JK.”

Jimin blinked. “Rejected? Cause I didn’t want him to leave hickeys on my neck?”

Hoseok smirked. “Kinky.”

The stare his hyung received made Hoseok freeze up. “Not the time, hyung.”

RM squeezed his eyes shut, embarrassed by Hoseok’s behaviour. Everyone knew, though, that Hoseok had RM wrapped around his finger, and even if he was embarrassed, RM would still do anything to make Hoseok feel happy. Hence, the Beast wrapped his arms around Hoseok and nuzzled him. “It’s a bit true though, hyung.”

Hoseok’s smile was triumphant. Jimin rolled his eyes.

“What did you mean by rejected? As in… the Bond?”

V quickly shook his head, and Rm mirrored the action. “No, no. It’s not that, Jimin. When Beasts are in the stage between looking for a Bond, and actually Bonding, we become very… uh… territorial.” He nodded at V. “Another Beast, even a Bonded one, was paying too much attention to you. JK saw that as a threat to his Bond, instinctually. Thus, he was trying to lay a claim in front of that Beast, and those that he trusts the most. And you pushed him off before he finished.”

Jimin paled. “O-oh…”

V nodded, looking sympathetic. And then Yoongi smacked up V’s head, causing the Beast to yelp. Yoongi just shook his head. “You knew that would happen with JK. You shouldn’t have provoked him.”

Still rubbing his head, V just grinned up at him, before trying to nuzzle Yoongi, who was disgruntled, but didn’t turn him away.

Jimin wrung his hands.

“How do I fix this?”

“He’ll come to you eventually. He’ll probably try again, but it won’t settle him in the same way. Other than that, just wait. Be patient with him until it’s out of his system. Trust me. You’re both fine.”

Jimin shivered, and went out of the library, ignoring the others. Even with RM’s words, it didn’t settle him. After all, he had hurt his JK. Unforgivable.

The honest truth was that Jimin was feeling it. Absolute dependency. He knew that if he was going to be Bonded to Jeongguk, that his dependency could turn into something more. And he knew that he was terrified of that. Not because of his Beast, oh no. It was him. He was waiting for the other shoe to drop, constantly. Jeongguk was so sweet to him. A haven in this hell.

Even after their demonstration, the other Tamers treated him like an outsider. He didn’t mind but being glared at for existing had never been his idea of a fun time. Usually he had Hoseok or JK with him. There were rare times when he was alone, and they would approach him. Every time they did, Jimin showed them his strength, literally. Jin had told him that he needed to keep his temper together. He never told Jin that, well, he did. Anger that was supposed to fade after the first two weeks post-transition never faded from him. It held onto his chest like a fist. The only thing that ever made it fade was when Jeongguk worked out with him. Or smiled at him. Or dreamed with him.

Had he just messed that up?

He shuddered and ran to the gymnasium, trying to burn away the nervous energy flooding his veins. Once there, he saw his Beast. Jeongguk looked up at him, his eyes looking teary, before he violently turned away, and tried to leave.

Jimin felt his lower lip tremble, and he could tell he would cry if Jeongguk left now. Was this how his Beast felt? Still, he reached out. “JK?”

Perhaps something in his voice let the Beast know how vulnerable he was, so Jeongguk turned slowly to his Tamer. He looked wary but concerned. Jimin felt his arms drift up, and soon he had his arms crossed over his chest, and he felt like he was trying to keep himself together.

“I didn’t know… I didn’t mean to push you away.”

Jeongguk blinked and turned more towards him, the wariness bleeding away to complete worry for his Tamer. Jimin’s face twisted, as he tried to keep himself from crying. He drew a breath shakily, nearly a sob. “I’m sorry.”

Shivering, the Beast ran forward and pulled Jimin into his arms, cuddling him tight, and bringing sweet relief to the tired Tamer. Jimin rubbed soothing circles onto the Beast’s back, which made him relax into his hold. They just held each other, a bastion for them both. Safe. Healing.

Dependant.

And even though Jimin cared so much for Jeongguk, he felt guilty for keeping him so close to him. Because he was the opposite of worthy for his affection. But Jimin was no fool. He knew that Jeongguk would never allow him to think that of himself, no matter how true it was. Jimin was a broken puppet, compared to the headstrong and wilful man that Jeongguk was. Everything that Jimin had ever wanted to be, Jeongguk was without trying. Beautiful, powerful, smart. And the Beast was effortless in his endeavours. Concepts that he’d studied for a week, Jeongguk would pick up with one chat with Jimin. And he understood everything perfectly. Jimin almost complained that it wasn’t fair, but his Beast just smiled gently, and told him that he was such a great teacher that it was easy to learn.

Despite everything, Jeongguk seemed to only see Jimin as wonderful. Stupid, ugly and weak Jimin.

He knew he’d keep monopolising Jeongguk. Just like he did to anyone that showed him kindness. He’d been told that was the only thing he was truly good at.

And Jimin agreed.

 

~~~

He wasn’t sure when he’d fallen asleep. After an emotional few minutes cuddled in Jeongguk’s arms, the Beast pulled away to work out his own energy. He’d explained that because of his Ability, he often was running on far too much power, and that if he didn’t try to burn it off, he’d end up frying people by just looking at them. Accidentally, of course.

Unlike his Beast, Jimin was so tired after being so strung up. He must have drifted off sometime between staring at the arm curls, and the pull ups. Or the leg presses. Watching his thighs working was a treat, and Jimin would devour that treat all day if possible.

When he realised that he was in his dreams, he expected to awaken in the cellar again, and he tensed up for it.

“Hello, little bird…”

The voice was unfamiliar, and in the darkness, he couldn’t tell who it was, nor even where it was.

“Who are you? Where are you?” Jimin whirled around, trying to see through to anything, but the shadows swirled around.

“Where do you want to go?”

“What do you mean? Who are you?”

“Not now, Jimin. First… tell me where we should go.”

Jimin frowned, goose-bumps crawling up his spine as the person spoke. His voice was soft and gentle, but had an echo in it, that rang with authority… And with ancient power.

“…Jeongguk’s meadow. Please.”

The laugh that answered him was delighted. “Good. It’s where you belong.”

Jimin frowned but couldn’t answer when the thick blackness started to twist around him, folding in on itself and bringing in colours and eventually light. Without time to process the intricate twisting of the illusion, Jimin found himself standing in the field. Instead of Jeongguk, however, sat a figure in shadow. And not natural shadow. It was a twisting shadow over their features, and it made it impossible to perceive any of his features. It was nothing like how he’d been unable to see his Jeongguk. This was purposeful.

Jimin felt, rather than saw, his smile. “Please sit, Jimin.”

Jimin pursed his lips in irritation, and squinted his eyes at him, tying to see through the thick shadow, as though his gaze could pierce through it. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
“Because it’s unimportant. I’m not from your city, and so you will not recognise my name. Neither will your Beasts, as they do not know my name, either. Only the names I’ve given them.”

“Then give me that name, so I may know who you are.”

An amused laugh was the response for his efforts. “You are funny, but you are also wasting time.”

“How? I don’t even know why I’m here.”

“Because I need you. You and your mate. But nothing will happen, so long as you continue to deny the Bond.”

“I’m not denying anything.”

“Wrong!”

His voice was suddenly booming through him, and Jimin sank to his knees, terrified from the sound and the sudden change in the man. His voice ate into his mind and soul, leaving nothing but anxiety in his heart. The person moved towards him, imposing to Jimin’s fragile mind.

“You deny him by denying yourself. Every time that you put hate into yourself, you are making him seem like fool. And you know this. You doubt him.”

“I don’t doubt him.”

“You think that he should not have chosen you.”

Jimin can’t respond to that. He wanted to deny him again, but the words were stuck in his throat.

The presence all around him softened, the shadows turning from turbulent to gentle. The man sighed sadly. “Jimin… He chose you for a reason.”

Tears pooled in his eyes. “He’s wrong about me.”

“Why don’t you let him decide that?”

He shivered and looked up. “How… Why would I push away someone that makes me feel human, for once in my life?”

The voice laughed gently. “Human? What’s the point in feeling like them? Jeongguk is not human. In fact, the closest you have to a human relationship is your brother. If you can call them human.”

“What about Jin-hyung?”

There was a strange pause.

“Jin-hyung?”

Jimin frowned and stood up, feeling the shadows retreat from him. “Yes… The doctor for us all.”

The shadows seemed to twitch around the stranger, confused. He hummed. “Jin… A variable. Interesting.”

Jimin stepped forward, feeling bold in the face of the shadow’s musings. “You obviously don’t know as much as you pretend to.”

The shadows snaked forward to Jimin and pulled him closer to the shadowed man. Yet, Jimin did not feel afraid this time. The feeling of the shadows on his skin was soothing and soft. “Oh, Jimin… I know more than you realise. I know what you really are. I know what your future could hold, both good and bad. And most importantly, I know what the Parasites are. I know how to stop them for good.”

Jimin was frozen, his mind reeling with the possibilities the man’s words presented him with.

“How can I trust that you’re telling the truth.”

“You don’t… But the time for you to stand idle is over. I will send you both to a place you will despise, Jimin. Only with Jeongguk’s help will you survive it. And once you do, you will understand that I’m right. And only then will we meet again.”

Jimin grimaced. “Tell me your name.”

Amused, the man sighed fondly. “Oh, fine. Just because you’re so insistent. You may call me Haneul. Not that it will help you.”

Jimin tried to respond, but he felt something jerk at him and deep in his mind, he heard a sweet voice.

“Hyung, wake up!”

 

~~~

Jimin startled awake, looking up at Jeongguk’s beautiful eyes. His Beast wasn’t in pain, so he couldn’t have spoken out loud. But he could still feel the caress of his voice in his mind, waking him up more than anything else. It confused him, but he would be lying if he said that he wasn’t extremely grateful.

Even at that moment, he could hear Haneul’s voice echoing in the recesses of his consciousness, mocking him. He knew it was a long shot, but Jimin still asked, “JK, do you recognise the name Haneul?”

The Beast frowned and thought hard, before sighing softly and shaking his head.

Jimin pursed his lips in thought. “…He may have something to do with… The Dreams.”

Jeongguk’s eyes widened. He mouthed the name again, trying to identify it, with no luck. Jimin just hummed in irritation, and ran his hands through JK’s hair, trying to soothe the Beast. “We’ll figure it out. It’s a step, right?”

The Beast just nodded but looked sulky over being unable to help. Jimin chuckled and continued to pet his hair. “Is the Beast upset since he’s not helping his master?”

Jeongguk shivered and leaned into him, making Jimin smile, a little sad. “What will we do with such a useless creature.”

JK knew why Jimin said what he said. After a moment of potential gentleness between them, Jimin had to up the ante, and make sure the people listening could tell that Jimin was still stepping over his Beast. He was modelling a praise and punish regimen, after all. But every time he had to hurt his Beast… His heart twisted even more.

Jeongguk looked up at him, his eyes soft and trusting. Jimin continued to pet him gently before sighing. “Well, even you can’t help what you don’t know. Maybe One will. Or perhaps I should just sleep on it.” He looked at JK, and the Beast read through the lines. He made a motion to sleep, and Jimin nodded. “I bet you want to see that Beast, but no… I think I’ll sleep. Retire to your room. And if I hear that you strayed, I’ll make sure that you regret it for the week. Understood?”

Jeongguk just smirked. He knew there was no bite to his words. Jimin, however, wondered if that was the case.

Jimin smiled. “Good. Go.”

And Jeongguk did.

Jimin waited a while before pulling up a call with Hoseok.

“Jiminie! Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, hyung. I found him, and we figured things out.”

“Good.” His hyung sounded relieved, and Jimin smiled at the thought of Hoseok’s gentle smile.

“I need you to confirm something for me. Ask the Beasts if they recognise the name Haneul. It’s a lead, but probably one to a dead end.”

“A lead for what?”

“I’m not sure. But it could be big, if I’m right.”

Hoseok sighed. “That’s all you’ll give us, isn’t it?”

Jimin chuckled. “Of course. Besides… I have to do something before I can confirm anything. I don’t want to pretend that it’s something when it might not be.”

“Fair. Annoying, but fair.”

“I’m sure it will frustrate One more than you.”

“Debateable. I’ll ask Yoongi as well, since he has some intel on Beasts.”

“Intel that One doesn’t have?”

“Can’t hurt to try.”

Jimin chuckled. But he heard a slight lilt to Hoseok’s voice. One he recognised. He bit his lip. “Is this…”

The pause seemed to clue Hoseok into Jimin’s change of mood. “What is it, Minnie? What are you thinking about that’s worrying you now?”

“…Is this too much for you, hyung?”

“What do you mean?”

“The whole… Change of everything. You never had to think about things like this before, hyung.”

“Neither did you, Minnie.”

“You underestimate my family. Politics, business and subterfuge seems to run in our blood.”

“Okay, well, I can’t argue with that. But you were never a soldier.”

“Maybe… But training for battle doesn’t feel foreign to me.”

“That wasn’t training, Jimin. Don’t pretend we haven’t had this conversation before.”

“Hyung, you’ve made it about me. What about you?”

Hoseok paused, searching his thoughts. “…I don’t know, Min… I’m… I’m kinda… lost.” Jimin closed his eyes at the shaky tone.

“Where are you, hyung?”

“In our room.”

“I’m coming.”

Jimin hung up the phone and sprinted back. Even though he passed by a few disgruntled Tamers, he didn’t pause. He knew Hoseok too well. How he just piled his feelings in a heap, unresolved and never sorted through. Every time he did so, Jimin would find him in the midst of a breakdown, and he’d spent a few times trying to bring him back from the edge. It broke his heart each time. As he rushed to his room, he wished that he could explain to JK that he might be late that night. He also wished he could get RM to get his Tamer and comfort him. If RM took care of Hoseok the way that JK did to him, then he would be better for his hyung than anything else. As he burst into the room, he realised that it was a useless endeavour at that point. Hoseok was curled up in his bed, tears streaming. He wouldn’t want to leave their little room unless it was dire.

He softly walked towards his hyung, and sat on his bed, pulling the sobbing man into his arms. “Oh, hyung…” He rubbed his back, as Hoseok cried.

“…I’m sorry, Minnie. I’m trying to keep it together.”

“I know. But you don’t have to.”

“Of course, I do. I can’t let you down.”

Sighing, Jimin hugged him tighter. “You could never let me down, hyung. Ever. And you still haven’t. You just never believe me when I tell you that.”

Hoseok sniffed and leaned into him. “I don’t want to hear that from you.”

Jimin chuckled without mirth. “That’s fair. Why didn’t you let RM help you?”

His hyung shivered. “I know he wants to… But I’m his Tamer. If I let him do that, then the Tamers would question our Bond, thinking I’m not superior to One.”

Jimin hummed. “…I let JK massage me a lot. With his Ability, specifically. It’s probably the only thing that had kept me sane over the last few weeks.”

Hoseok blinked and pulled back. “Really?”

He nodded. “I thought you knew.”

“I saw the massage; I didn’t realise that he was doing anything else.”

“Well, hasn’t Five done something like that to you?”

“What do you mean?”

Jimin smirked. “Hasn’t he massaged you with heat?”

“I mean, he’s just touchy like that. Wait… with heat?” Hoseok’s eyes widened. “That was him?”

Jimin laughed and cuddled his hyung tighter still. “That’s him. He’s really good at it.”

Hoseok pondered that, before smiling a little. “I see. I thought that he just had a relaxing presence.”

“Incorrect assumption. He’s scary when he wants to be.”

“But he’s like a kitten.”

“Maybe in front of Suga. He’s terrifying when he wants. I thought he was going to kill me when we were first alone.”

“…I can see him pranking someone, but not killing.”

Jimin whined. “He held me on the bed, and his hands were so hot, I thought they would catch on fire. Scared the crap out of me.” Hoseok chuckled, but it still sounded suspiciously wet. He still had tears flowing, just not full-blown sobs. His hyung tried to wipe his eyes, but it was a lost cause. Jimin sighed and carded his fingers through the red locks on Hoseok’s head.

“I bet RM would have a way to take care of you. After all, you’re his Tamer. He’s meant to serve you.”

He sniffed again and looked up at his dongsaeng. “And it’s not weird?”

Jimin smirked. “Not like any other Tamers have the right to decide that. None of them even have Beasts that serve them. Take advantage of the one you have. Make him work for you.” The words seemed harsh, but like Jeongguk, Hoseok had learned to read between the lines. They all had. Only with RM did they feel free to speak freely. Or at least lower their guard a small amount.

Hoseok nodded solemnly. “…I’m not… I’m not good at this whole… Ordering sentient creatures around. Animals or not. It’s not like I’ve had practice with pets, after all.” Jimin nodded, remembering how much Hoseok had wanted a dog, his longing rivalling even Jimin’s. They’d talked about saving money from the dance studio and buying a little dog of their own. Even if it took a year, or five years. They’d do it.

Jimin cuddled into Hoseok’s side, intending to cuddle him for another few years if need be, when they were both startled by an incoming call from Jimin’s bracelet.

He looked at it, and saw the Director’s name, and he felt his blood cool inside his veins. What had they done? Was there something that he’d overlooked? A conversation that wasn’t in line with their protocols? A moment with his Beast that was too familiar for them?

Hoseok looked at him, urging him to answer, and he did, not at all prepared.

“Good evening, Park Jimin. I trust you’ve been doing well.”

“Yes, Director. I’ve been attempting to learn everything about the infestation of Parasites. Forgive me, ma’am, but there does not seem to be much on the creatures.”

“You’re quite right. Fortunately, we know how to kill them, and that’s what most matters.”

“Of course.”

“And you feel like you can fight them?”

“I believe so, although I have yet to participate in the end of training exam.”

“You’re a week away from completion, correct?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She hummed. “…I have something private to discuss with you, Park. As much as Jung has been a surprisingly astute student, I do not believe that he needs to hear the rest of this conversation. Meet me in my quarters. Bring Dr Kim with you, since he knows the way, and it concerns him as well.”

“Yes, ma’am, I’ll be with you shortly.”

“Don’t keep me waiting, Jimin. You may be in my good graces now, but I do not appreciate tardiness.”

“Of course.”

She ended the call.

Jimin shuddered, the tremble burning through his entire body. He couldn’t relax yet, but he wasn’t necessarily in trouble. He looked at Hoseok. “I’m sorry, Hobi-hyung.”

Hoseok smiled tearfully. “I’ll go to the elevator with you. One might be able to help since you’re going to be absent. Traitor.”

Jimin nodded, relieved, and quickly changed out of his clothes, which smelled a bit of the gym. They made their way to the elevator quickly, Jimin stepping off the floor before his hyung. They didn’t have time to properly say goodbyes, which left an ominous feeling in Jimin’s gut. He walked down the sterile halls to Jin’s room, forgetting to knock.

Inside was V on the bed, his shirt pulled up. The Beast looked up at him in fear, attempting to shield his body with his hands, trying to obstruct the view from the person walking in. Jimin felt the temperature rise, dangerously, before the Beast finally recognised him. Jin, likewise, swore immediately, and tried to cover up what they had been doing, putting away the machine and turning off the monitors in a practiced fashion.

It didn’t hide what had happened, and they were both lucky that it was just Jimin.

Or someone would have seen the ultrasound.

V looked up at him, tears swimming in his eyes, and he turned away from Jimin, ashamed. Jin just looked furious. “What the hell is so important that you can’t knock!”

Jimin trembled and looked away, unable to handle how sad the Beast looked, an antithesis to his normal attitude. “…The Director.”

Jin growled and stood up. “That bitch has the worst timing.”

Jimin blinked, unused to this kind of anger from the doctor. V slowly stood and cleaned himself up, still not looking at the two others in the room. Jin brushed his hand through his hair.

“You were right, V… It seems that we have to do the… procedure again.”

V shivered harder, before collapsing into himself and he began to cry.

Jin looked torn between wanting to help him and needing to do his job. Jimin may not know the full story, but he knew enough. He looked at Jin. “He needs Yoongi.”

“Yoongi doesn’t know.”

V cried harder, as Jimin was rendered speechless. Jin growled again, and got shock blankets out for V. “I’ll be back soon. Just stay here, and lock the door until I come back for you, okay?” The Beast nodded, dumb from his own tears. Jin then strode out, dragging Jimin outside of the room, but not outside of the black-out coverage.

The look in Jin’s eyes was fierce. “You tell no-one. Not even your Beast. One is the only other person who knows, and only because I can’t keep it a secret from him. This stays in this room. Understood?”

“But Yoongi shoul-”

“I said understood!”

Jimin stepped back, scared. But he nodded. There was nothing else he could do.

Jin grunted and dragged him to the elevator, disgruntled and angrier than he’d seen him before. “This, Jimin, is what I have to do to keep the peace. This isn’t the first time. It probably won’t be the last.”

Jimin gulped. “How many times?”

Jin looked down, and after a moment, he whispered, “This will be the fourth time.”

He felt his heart sink through his chest, feeling a bitter taste fill his mouth. Bile, specifically.

The elevator doors opened, but Jimin barely noticed the surroundings over the rush in his head, the ringing in his ears. His mind playing over the image of V crying over and over. Knowing he’d done that before. It took everything in Jimin to not throw up then and there.

He couldn’t imagine what it was like for Jin.

They walked into a huge office, and the Director sat at her desk. She looked up at them and smiled. “Were you in the middle of a procedure, Jin?”

“I was, actually. But I was able to pause it for you.”

“I see. That explains why you took so long.”

Jimin nodded. “Forgive me, ma’am.”

She waves her hand. “I understand. You were not late on purpose. And I did ask Dr Kim suddenly. We can never tell when a doctor will be available.”

Jimin bowed slightly, showing her the respect she didn’t deserve.

She smiled at the gesture. “Now, we have only a week before Jimin and his Beast begin the real fight. As I’ve mentioned to Jin, I’m quite excited to see this new generation of fighters. In fact, I wonder if you may be able to make those two partners obsolete. They work fine, but they are temperamental at best. I don’t like machines that don’t work well, nor animals that refuse to be trained.”

Jimin tried not to let it show how much that idea repulsed him. He must have succeeded, because she continued, “I’m sure that you’ll be able to take over their duties after they teach you their field work. Given both you and Eleven have so much potential, I’m sure that that Suga and Five can be retired soon.”

There was a happy gleam in her eyes that Jimin distrusted immediately.

Jin smiled pleasantly, and Jimin was struck by his acting abilities once again. “An exciting concept, ma’am. Forgive me, though, how does this meeting concern me? I only ask, since I will need to return to the procedure sooner, rather than later.”

“And which procedure is that?”

Jimin tried damn hard to remain impassive, knowing exactly what Jin needed to do. Jin laughed. “I was trying to repair a slipped disk in V’s back. Seems his last mission left damage that didn’t heal properly.”

She sighed. “See… Obsolete.”

Jimin just nodded.

The director’s eyes swept over Jimin, trying to peer through his mask. She shrugged when she found nothing, but Jimin refused to relax, lest his efforts be in vain.

“I have found a new doctor for the Academy. One who was recommended highly, and has a close relationship with a Tamer, hence his interest in the program. After interviewing him myself, I felt he would be a perfect intern for you Jin. Many of the new doctors are scared of training with Beasts and Tamers, but this one seems to be ready.”

Jin laughed. “My, my, Director, are you throwing this lamb straight into the deep end.”

She laughed, a cruel tinge to the sound. “Oh, dear, Jin… You know me too well. Better to scare him off immediately, before he knows too much. Still, I know you were needing an assistant, given how much work you do for me.”

Jin smiled, perhaps a bit thinner than he meant. “That would be a welcome addition.”

During the entire conversation, that ominous feeling which had stuck with him since Hoseok and V had intensified. Why would he be here for this moment? Sure, the Director had wanted to speak to him about replacing Yoongi and V, a horrible concept, but why would he be here with Jin? He searched his thoughts for anything related to medicine and doctors in the dome.

When he realised it, he nearly cried.

Surely not.

The Director smiled and spoke into an intercom, “Send him in.”

Jimin looked behind him and he felt like the floor had been swept out from underneath him.

A boy around his age walked in, cleanly dressed in a doctor’s coat. His cheeks weren’t as full as Jimin’s, nor his lips as full. But his eyes were like their father’s, and Jimin knew that when they both smiled, the resemblance was obvious. His black hair was trendy, like always, cut in a way to best show off his well-made face, and sharp jaw. His attentive brown eyes looked over the people in the room, sliding over Jimin for a moment before he snapped his gaze back. The elated smile the doctor then showed was so like Jimin’s cheek-smile, just with straighter teeth, and nothing chipped.

“My god, Jimin-hyung! I nearly didn’t recognise you.”

Jimin heard Jin inhale sharply, as the doctor understood.

He just smiled back at his brother.

“It’s good to see you, Jihyun.”

Chapter Text

Jimin couldn’t follow the rest of the conversation. He just felt so confused. There was no way that his family would have let their golden child into a program that housed monsters. Or at least what they would perceive as monsters. Yet there he was. Gentle Jihyun, a Park that was somehow good to Jimin. The one who had secretly given him food when his parents were starving him. He tried many times to help him get better grades, if only to keep his hyung well. The one person from Zone 2 who didn’t treat him like he was a waste of air. But now it was wrong. He shouldn’t be here, not in this place. For all Jihyun’s abilities, he was still naïve about the world. In fact, even as Jimin looked at him, he realised that he had no clue what had convinced him that joining this program was a good idea.

The director dismissed them, and Jihyun was to accompany Jin back to his office. Jimin did his best not to freak out at the news, knowing V was still there, vulnerable and probably not expecting a certain brother to be there. Knowing what he knew about Beasts, which was that in times of great distress they tended to be very territorial, not liking when strangers came near them with a tendency to lash out. Of course, Tamers would punish the Beasts if that happened. But Jimin didn’t have clearance to punish V. He looked over at Jin, who was talking to Jihyun.

“Dr Kim, I have a question.”

Jin and Jihyun looked at him, the former looking mildly relieved. “Yes, Jimin-ssi?”

“You were about to operate on a Beast, correct? In case the creature is behaving in a territorial fashion, do you have clearance to keep him in line?”

Jin paused and swore. “You know, I didn’t think about that.” He looked away for a moment, before softly saying, “Thank you for the reminder, Jimin. I wouldn’t want Jihyun here to be injured due to my oversight.”

Jimin smiled, and Jihyun looked at him. “What does, uh, clearance entail?”

“Oh, it’s about whether or not you can activate their implants. If Beasts become violent, they need to be injected with some kind of serum to stop them. For the working Beasts, however, only their Tamers and a few officials can punish them. Dr Kim mentioned who the Beast was that he was operating, so I just needed to make sure.”

Jihyun blinked. “That’s… a lot.”

Jimin smirked. “You get used to it, Hyunnie.”

He chuckled. “Maybe, but you were always better at picking up these things than me.”

Jimin laughed, but it was strained at best. He glanced at Jin, who still hadn’t moved, when they arrived at their floor. The bell of the elevator made Jin startle slightly and he collected himself before leading them out. “Alright, Jihyun, you’ll have to wait here with Jimin, while I assess the condition of Number Five.” He strode ahead, quick.

Jihyun whispered to Jimin, “Number Five?”

“Five for short. All the Beasts are numbered.”

“Not named?”

Jimin hid his smile, thinking how similar Jihyun’s questions were to his own. Or had been.

“Not named. They don’t need cute names. They’re animals for work. Nothing more.”

Jihyun pouted but accepted the answer. They were both silent for a while, before the younger brother whispered, “I’m so happy to see you, Jiminie.” He shuffled his feet, shy and unsure.

Jimin looked over, wondering how the last month had been for his brother, and he sighed. “…I’m happy to see you, Jihyun, I really am.”

“But?” Jihyun looked up at him, knowing his older brother enough to hear when he wasn’t saying something. It was a skill he’d learned, knowing that his brother kept too much when inside in their household. Things that Jimin would normally never say but would confess to Jihyun in moments of weakness.

Jimin rolled his eyes. “What if there wasn’t anything else?”

“Then I wouldn’t believe you.”

He exhaled harshly, before turning to Jihyun. “Look, Hyunnie, I don’t know why you came here, but this place is dangerous. There are creatures here which could bend you in half effortlessly, and that’s not even talking about the Beasts, who can do much worse in much less time. This isn’t like being a normal doctor, this is more than that. And you haven’t even finished schooling!”

“I have, actually. I graduated top of the class. And this is the exact place I should be to actually use those skills.”

Jimin groaned, “Jihyun, it’s not. This isn’t medicine, it’s experimentation.”

Jihyun’s eyes gleamed with determination. “All the more reason to be here.”

“Why?” Jimin threw up his hands in frustration. “It’s not going to be entertaining, and I doubt our parents approved.”

“Of course, they didn’t.”

“Then why-?”

“For you!” Jihyun nearly shouted at him, causing Jimin to be left dumb at the words. He brother trembled and looked away. “…I’m tired of watching my big brother being hurt by others. Finally, I can do something to help you, hyung. I just… I just want to take care of you. You took care of me whenever you could, took the fall for me when there was no reason to put yourself further in mom and dad’s warpath. So… let me help, hyung. Please.”

Jimin stared, floored by the strength of his conviction. But still, he wouldn’t accept this. Not his brother. Not here.

“Jihy-”

“Jimin! I need your help!”

Jin raced around the corner, looking beyond terrified, and desperate. Jimin spun towards him and ran to meet him halfway. “What’s wrong?”

“H-he’s not there! I told him to wait in my room and he’s not there!”

Jimin felt his heart stutter from shock, before picking up to a racing stampede in his chest. “We need to call Suga.”

“And what? Tell him why his Beast was there in the first place?”

“Would you prefer that, or have Five taken to the containment floor?”

Jin shivered. “That is not fair, Jimin. It’s not his fault I was called away, leaving him highly distressed.”

“What’s going on?” Jihyun interjected.

“Not now, kid. Jimin, you’re a Tamer. You find him.”

“I’m Eleven’s Tamer. I know fuck all about where Five would go. That’s Suga’s job. Call him.”

“It’s too complicated!”

“Jin… If Five has gone, and possibly goes berserk, it will become all of our problems. You heard the Director. Don’t give her ammunition against Suga and Five.”

Jin’s eyes flicked to Jihyun, who was confused, but tracking. He’d always been too smart. Jin growled. “If you’re so keen to see that blow up in our faces, why don’t you call him. Tell him that he’s gone missing from the med bay. You’ll find that telling Suga won’t help us, since Five is already avoiding him.”

Jimin felt himself grind his teeth. He knew Jin was being stubborn, but the problem was that Jin was partially right. Yoongi did lose his cool when it came to Five. Maybe subtly, but it was a problem that he could never fully work around. And if Five was actively in danger, there would be no way that Yoongi would take it lightly, yet alone calmly.

Even as they both considered what to do, Jin’s bracelet lit up with a call. Suga.

Jin shivered. “He must be the devil. We spoke of him and he really called.”

Jimin leaned forward. “It’s more suspicious if you don’t answer it.”

Jin winced. “If he’s a devil, then you’re a snake.”

Jimin smirked. “Must be a Tamer thing.”

Groaning, Jin answered. “Yes, Suga.”

“Suga, huh. Must have company, I take it.”

“What do you want, Yoongi? I’m in the middle of a situation.”

“Would that situation be my Five?”

Jin blinked, trying to supress his terror. Jimin cleared his throat. “Hey, hyung. Do you know where he is?”

“He’s curled up in my lap, having finally fallen asleep. Found him wandering around the library, looking a bit unhinged. Haven’t seen him like that in about a year. But he’s okay. No one hurt. He mentioned you briefly, Jin. So… Let me ask something. What the hell happened to my Beast?”

There was a dark threat underpinning his last comment, one which made the hair on Jimin’s neck raise. He wasn’t used to Yoongi sounding like that with him. Or with Jin, for that matter.

Jin, however, just sighed. “…I can’t tell you that, Yoongi. It’s not my news to share. But you both may want to talk about it soon. I can’t say anymore without giving it away.”

There was silence on the other end for a moment longer than Jimin was comfortable with. Jihyun looked just as nervous, even without half of the context.

“…Fine. But if it hurts him, I’m going to break your arm, Kim.”

Jimin’s eyes widened, and Jin smiled. “Really? Going to use me for your punching bag again?”

“Don’t fuck with me right now, I’m in a shitty mood.”

Jin shut up. Jimin cleared his throat. “Oh, by the way, hyung… Jin has a new apprentice.”

“Who would want to work with that asshole?”

Jimin laughed nervously, “You’re just saying to be mean. Anyways, it’s actually someone I know from the outside. Park Jihyun, meet one of the Tamers you’ll be seeing a lot, Min Yoongi. Hyung, meet my brother.”

To say Jihyun looked nervous would be an understatement. Nonetheless, he leaned forward like his brother. “Hello, Min Yoongi-ssi. It will be an honour to meet with you in person.”

“…Jimin’s brother, huh… Well, good luck dealing with Eleven.” Yoongi hung up.

Jihyun looked even more confused, which seemed nearly impossible. Jimin looked at him sympathetically. “…Down here in the medical level, our conversations aren’t recorded, for confidentiality reasons. As my brother, I’ll tell you this once. You didn’t hear this conversation.”

Jihyun blinked, then gaped. “This was secret? Why?”

“Because this could get people killed. Trust me. If you are going to stay, you report to Jin. You do what Jin says. The Director, while paying your bills, is not your friend. She’s not mine, and she’s not Hoseok’s. Got it.” His gaze was steely, and Jihyun took a step back, nearly overwhelmed by his brother. Still, he shook his head vigorously. “Understood, Jiminie-hyung. I won’t let you down.” His eyes shone with sincerity and honesty. A trait which, while appreciated, was worrying.

He wasn’t an actor like Jimin.

Another liability.

He mentally slapped himself. This was his brother, not a pawn on a board.

Jin seemed to come back to himself. “Jihyun. We need to start the inductions. Now that the crisis is over, it’s time for your job to start. Oh, and we should meet One. You may learn a bit from him.”

Jihyun nodded and they both left. Then the youngest turned back for a moment and smiled gently. “Bye, hyung. I’ll see you around.”

Jimin nodded but couldn’t help a smile in return. “I’ll see you too, Hyunnie.”

The parted ways, and Jimin nearly fainted against the wall. All he wanted was to sleep and see his Kookie. It had been so long. He hoped Jeongguk hadn’t been waiting in the dream for an insane amount of time.

He wandered back to the elevator, travelling back to the now empty hallways and locating their boring room. Looking inside informed Jimin that Hoseok had not returned. Perfect. Jimin didn’t want to explain what had happened. It was too much. And he was craving his Beast, like he used to crave ice-cream in the middle of summer. So, he flopped down onto his bed, only after hastily putting on night clothes, and he fell into a deep sleep.

 

~~~

Taehyung wasn’t often nervous about anything. He’d lived too harsh a life to always be scared of the future. He knew what was coming. It was horrible. No use in dwelling on it. More than that, nearly every day spoke of hardships, so why worry about the fiftieth punishment, when he was only on the sixteenth.

Yet as he woke up, his head still cradled in the lap of his Mate, he felt his heart pick up, anxiety burning through him. He’d made such a scene. He knew that. He felt his Ability inside his veins, calling him to fall deeper into instincts that he had squashed long ago. Instincts that would have made him attack the Tamers in the library, for being too close to his nest. Instincts that made him want to kiss his Mate madly in public, laying the claim on what was his, and showing everyone how happy his Mate made him.

Mostly he’d wanted to rip all Yoongi’s clothes off and ride him in the library. A gift to him for the gift he’d received in his body. He’d have let his Ability burn out through him, covering his Mate in his flames, shielding him from anything that could come near. He wanted them to know how much he loved Yoongi.

Yet as he had looked into Yoongi’s eyes, he could do nothing. Nothing but lean into his side, their Bond thrumming with anxiety and sorrow. Their gift had turned to a curse. Had done so often.

Jin may have sterilised him, but their Bond kept on revitalising him. His very Ability fixing the damage in response to his Mate. It was maddening.

Now Taehyung would have to pay for letting his instincts get the better of him. He felt the moment when Yoongi noticed him being awake. Felt the Bond light up, a touch of anger in it. Taehyung shivered and whimpered, trying to cuddle in more.

“…V… What the hell was that?”

Taehyung took a look around at the room they were in, noting it was Namjoon’s private room. Mostly a safe place. But not quite. If there were any Tamers lurking around, Namjoon wouldn’t be there to warn them. But this wasn’t a conversation he could have with RM around. Yoongi sensed his unease and said softly, “He’s using his Ability on this room. No one will hear us. It should last until tomorrow.”

Taehyung knew what that meant. No excuses. He and his Mate had to talk. But it went against everything the Beast wanted to do. He was so desperate in trying to shield his cute Mate, that he didn’t want to be here. But even knowing what the conversation would do to his Tamer, he couldn’t take it anymore. He needed Yoongi. Needed him to tell Taehyung that they would be okay. That he wasn’t horrified by what the Beast had done. That Taehyung wasn’t a terrible person for giving up what had seemed like an impossible happiness.

He looked away from his gorgeous mate, trying to ignore his kissable lips, and the way his eyes were like ever-changing opals, swirling with colours. He wanted to run his hands through his silky hair, kiss bruises onto his neck. Anything aside from have this conversation with him.

“V. Answer me. Please.” His tone was gentle and coaxing, as he felt how nervous Taehyung was.

“It’s… too much. It will hurt you, Yoongi.”

He blinked. “Hurt me? Sweetheart, I’m okay with being hurt, if it helps you even for a moment. Besides… This isn’t the first time, is it?”

Taehyung spun around to look at him, eyes wide with fear. “Y-You know?”

“No. But I have a theory. Or at least I know that you don’t normally panic, so whatever has happened must be huge. It’s just… I’m your Mate, V. Yet you won’t share what’s scaring you so terribly. It makes me… feel… like you don’t trust me. Like I can’t take care of you.” Yoongi looked away, ashamed.

Taehyung felt a whine work up his throat, distressed that his Yoongi was feeling so despondent. He leaned in and nuzzled him lovingly, kissing his at regular intervals, until he felt Yoongi’s emotions settle. “My love. My Mate. It’s… it’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s that I know what will happen. I know well that you will be devastated. That you won’t want to do what is needed. That it’s too much.”

“If it’s too much for us both, it has to be too much for you as well, V. You know that. And you know what?” V hummed in question, and Yoongi continued, “You say nothing, and feel grief by yourself… That hurts me deeply. If you want to spare me pain, then you’ve already failed.”

He’d hoped that it wouldn’t come to this. The moment where he had to confess. But with Yoongi’s words, his final defence fell. He curled in on himself, weeping, still unable to express what had happened with his words becoming garbled but he knew that it was time. His Mate was there, holding him close, loving him too much. He had always been too much. And so, his Ability reached forward to his Mate, causing Yoongi to feel exactly what Taehyung was feeling.

It was a difficult task to blend souls. Only possible with those in a Mating Bond, and even then, it was easier when the pair were in a highly emotional situation. As Taehyung touched Yoongi’s soul with his own, he felt through their Bond when Yoongi understood.

Unlike humans, who had to wait months before they could feel the presence of their child, Beasts could tell within weeks.

Taehyung usually waited for one, sometimes two months. Never showing, but knowing. He wanted to spend as much time as he could with the little ones. He hated that he knew what would happen, but it wasn’t something he could avoid. Instead, he’d stroke his stomach, and sing in his mind to them, soothing their spirits. He’d pour his love into them, cherishing them. Of course, he never would know if they were his sons or daughters. Nor would he meet this little one, who’s heart was fluttering inside him. And now, finally, Yoongi was feeling them too.

At first there was no response. Then Taehyung felt his Mate tremble in his arms, breaking into sobs as he comprehended what was happening, and Taehyung cried with him. Both of them caught in a moment that was so achingly bittersweet. Everything they could have wanted. A child. Growing strong and healthy inside Taehyung. Even as Yoongi realised it, Taehyung knew his Mate had figured out what happened next.

“V? H-Have you… Had to… Before?” His voice is choked up, and he looks deep into Taehyung’s amber eyes. Yoongi felt his response, not a conscious effort, but Taehyung affirmed it with a single nod. Yoongi looks down, ashamed.

“…Alone?”

Taehyung squeezed his eyes shut. “…You would have tried to stop me.”

Yoongi growled, but he couldn’t deny it. They both knew it.

“Yoongi… I really did want to tell you. But… I didn’t want you to be disappointed in me.”

“Why would I be disappointed, Ta- …V.” He looked away. Taehyung smiled at him though his tears. His Mate always trying to protect them. So strong and good to him. Taehyung had been so lucky to have found him.

“…I… I took them away from you. I never let you mourn.”

Yoongi looked at him, straight into him with those gorgeous eyes of his. “How many before this one, V?”

“… Three.”

“…Did you name them?”

Taehyung paused, before a blush appeared. “Byeol, Sowon and Hyesong. I just… wanted them to be blessed by their names.”

The look on Yoongi’s face was incredibly fond. “Star, wish and comet.”

Taehyung’s eyes sparkled happily as his Mate recognised their names for what they were. He nuzzled him again, and slowly took Yoongi’s hand and placed it on his stomach. “We can’t keep them… But I want you to name this child. You deserve the honour.”

Yoongi’s eyes widened, and he gulped. “N-now?”

Taehyung smiled. “If you can. I’ve been sending my love into them, but I haven’t been able to decide on a name, my love. I want them to have one before they have to leave.”

Yoongi paused, frozen for a moment before tears welled up in his eyes again, and he whispered the name gently.

“Mirae.”

Taehyung closed his eyes. “Future… Our beautiful Mirae…” He cuddles into his Mate closer, feeling more vulnerable than he had for a long time. There in that room, pretending it was only him and his Mate, alone in the world. He dreamed in his mind of the future where Mirae and their siblings could be there with them. Were allowed to grow into children, then adolescents, then into gorgeous adults, with their own dreams and passions. He dreamed of what his Mate would be like as a father, and he knew he would be amazing. He only hoped that he could match as a good mother, loving his babies with all his heart.

Another sob worked up from his throat and he cradled his abdomen, wanting to keep the little one so much, unsure if it was just his want, or if Yoongi was affecting him also.

Yoongi wiped his tears away. “I’m here, my love…”

Taehyung nearly collapsed at that. Despite everything, the relief that his Mate was there caused waves of happiness to run through him. Yoongi held him close, rocking him gently and soothing him.

“Rest now, Taehyung… My gorgeous Mate. It’s all going to be okay.”

The Beast smiled gently at his Mate’s rare slip-up. But he loved hearing his real name on his lips. It sounded so perfect in his raspy, deep voice. And even if the words had been a lie, Taehyung wanted to believe it.

So, he would.

 

~~~

The moment the dream began, Jimin knew something was off. He was used to waking in the meadow with Jeongguk, and this time was no different. His Beast jumped up and held him tight. And yet the taste of the air seemed smoky, the colours of the field too vibrant. It was off in subtle ways, which sent chills up Jimin’s spine.

“Where have you been, Jimin-hyung! I’ve been waiting, and that’s unusual for us.”

Jimin was about to answer, when the dreamed shifted around them both. He instead clung onto Jeongguk’s shirt, unsure.

“It took you a long time, Jimin.”

Jeongguk, the first to respond, growled, animalistic and unamused. “Who are you? Are you the one bringing us into these dreams, and invading our minds?”

The voice laughed. “I thought you would like the connection, Jeongguk. You seem to have used my gift well.”

Jimin looked around for the shadows, but he saw nothing out of place. “Show yourself Haneul!”

Jeongguk glanced at him, putting the pieces together and he growled. “What are you?”

Haneul laughed. “I’m a friend. Believe it or not, we want similar things. But neither of you are ready yet for what is needed. And so, it’s time I taught you something. Both about each other, and about yourselves. Because you both need to work together to survive.”

“How do you even know anything about us?” Jimin growled out, not as impressive as Jeongguk, but still threatening.

“I think the question you should be asking is whether or not either of you will see dawn. I should tell you now… If you die in these dreams, you will die in real life. The body cannot survive without the soul.”

Jeongguk blinked, then gasped. “You’re a Beast! A soul-worker!”

Haneul chuckled at that. “Maybe, Jeongguk. But neither of you have much time now. Remember, trust in each other. Let yourselves be open and learn how to listen to more than the words you say to each other. Only then will you both make it through.”

And just like that, Jimin and Jeongguk feel like the world is turning inside out, the world warping around them. As it does, a familiar place materialises before Jimin.

He was back.

Jeongguk looked around at the concrete walls, looking so foreign in such desolation. He looked at Jimin. “Do you know what’s happening?”

But Jimin couldn’t answer. He was staring at the wall of the cellar, waiting for the inevitable. Jeongguk walked forward, unsure. “Jimin-hyung. Talk to me.”

Jimin whimpered and sat in the chair, like he was meant to. “They’ll be here soon.”

“Who?”

“…Mama and Papa.”

Jimin didn’t hear how his voice had changed. He hadn’t been in this room since he was a child. His parents had stopped his physical punishments, seeing as Jimin did what he was told now, with minimal input on their part. Every time he felt a leather seat like this, all he knew was the terror as it raced up his spine, gripping his heart, freezing his mind. He wasn’t the strong person he’d become in the Academy, nor the everyday man he’d tried to be in Zone 3.

He was Park Jimin. A stupid, little boy, who had to be punished for existing.

Jeongguk stared, seeming horrified. “Jimin?”

Then they heard it. Footsteps.

Jimin tried to supress a whimper and failed. Jeongguk watched, waiting, ready to fight.

The door burst open, and Jimin’s father stepped through. He smelt like expensive alcohol and perfume from the parties he and his mother had attended. He wore a black button down and slacks, as always. He was slim, but not tall. He had Jimin’s puffy cheeks yet remained hard. But it was his black, unfeeling eyes that made Jimin cringe back into the seat.

Seeing him, Jeongguk charged forward, trying to attack the man, but he phased right through him. He looked back at Jimin and gasped. “Jimin! I can’t touch him.”

Jimin wailed in terror at that. His Kookie couldn’t help him? That meant he was alone. Alone again in this room, with his father. The man glared at Jimin.

“After all this time, I thought you might finally be of use to the family. But now I realise that you were nothing all this time. And now you’re less than that. A thing. Not even a human. A rodent that has been eating our food for too long.”

Jimin threw up his hands to protect himself. “Papa no!”

It was too late. His father took a nearby wooden bat and began to beat Jimin with it. He screamed in pain and fear, wanting to get away, but he was frozen in place, taking blow after blow.

“Jimin!” Jeongguk tried everything to stop the man, his hands passing harmlessly through the dream, even though he didn’t pass through Jimin.

“Kookie!” Jimin wailed, his body protesting every breath. And yet, his father continued. Over and over. Jimin looked up and saw his mother in the background, looking disappointed at him, yet approving her husband’s methods.

“Mama, help me!”

But she didn’t. She turned and walked away, like she always did.

Jeongguk roared in anguish, and Jimin saw through his own blood, as Jeongguk’s Ability started to go haywire around them both, sparks before surges, and becoming bolts. It felt like there was a wind brewing in the basement. “Jimin! Fight him! Fight back! He’s weak! You’re so much stronger than this!”

Jimin could barely hear him through the pain. His ears were ringing, and he felt like his bones were about to become liquid under the constant torture.

“You’re more than this, hyung. You’re my beautiful Jimin! So smart, and good, and worthy of love! This is not how you die! He doesn’t deserve to decide that for you.”

Jimin looked at Jeongguk, confused. His father sneered. “What a ridiculous idea. You, worthy? A worm is worth more than you.”

Even as he heard the words, Jimin felt it. For the first time.

Jeongguk was right. He meant more than this. He wasn’t a child. He wasn’t beholden to this man and his senseless words. He was so much more now and had things to live for. Why die by the hand of one who hated him, when he could live by one who adored him and believed in him.

Someone who loved him.

Someone he loved back.

Before the next blow hit, Jimin’s arm raced up to grab it and stop it. He expected nothing, noting how his arms should have been hanging uselessly by his side. Yet as he raised his hand, the wounds on his body healed, and Jimin caught the bat effortlessly. Jeongguk was right. His father was weak.

So weak. He could beat him blindfolded.

Jimin roared at the man, crying out his hatred for him, and he pushed him hard away from him. His father stumbled back, scared. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” But Jimin didn’t stop. He stood and rushed forward, punching him in the chest and easily breaking ribs. His father crumpled, writhing in the pain that his soft self was unused to. Jimin growled and picked him up, shoving him onto the chair. “What am I doing, dad?” He used a mock-sweet tone, contempt pouring from his lips, “I’m ending this. I’m going to give you back everything that you’ve done to me, until there’s nothing left of you. Jeongguk, get Mama. She’s not innocent either.”

Jeongguk watched Jimin, dark pride in his eyes. “Yes, my Tamer.”

Jimin’s father balked and tried to get away, but Jimin strapped him in. Once he’d finally broken out of his submissive state, ready to be tortured, he was now completely rebelling against this man. Everything that had happened because of him. Everything about this man made Jimin sick. He even barely understood why it was that he had allowed everything to happen the way it did.

Years and years of being ‘trained’ to be good. All it had done was make him a nervous wreck. Obedient, if only to avoid having a fingernail ripped out. Quiet, in case his father broke his jaw. Meek, if only to avoid being beaten. He’d barely come out of that place. If it weren’t for Hoseok, he probably would have ended his own life, unable to stand the nightmares anymore.

And now, in his dreams, he was finally able to get back at this nightmare of a creature in front of him.

Jeongguk came back, hauling the struggling woman into the room, as he seemed to finally be corporeal. Jimin looked at him and smiled maliciously. “What should I do first?”

Jeongguk tried to touch the man, finding he could. He grinned, just as cruelly. “I could electrocute them… Singe every nerve in their body.”

Jimin hummed. “Too easy for them. They need to suffer first.”

Jeongguk looked around and found a hammer and wrench. “What about these?”

Jimin laughed and took the hammer. “Perfect. You know just what to do, Kookie.”

The two humans in front of them screamed and cried, but they were trapped. The father by restraints, the mother by two broken legs, thanks to Jeongguk’s quick thinking. Yet despite the cacophony from the dead people walking, Jimin couldn’t perceive anything that wasn’t Jeongguk, and he knew the sentiment was mutual.

Jeongguk stepped forward and nuzzled him lovingly. “Anything for you, Jimin. My Tamer… My perfect Jimin.”

Jimin sighed and cuddled into him, even as the two others in the room screamed in fear. “You’re the perfect one here… My wonderful Mate.”

The word triggered something in Jeongguk, and he growled. “Soon… I am going to make you mine soon.”

Jimin smiled, truly happy in that moment. “I know you will. And I can’t wait. But first… The dirty laundry.”

Jeongguk grinned and lifted up the wrench. “After you, angel.”

Jimin giggled. “Thank you, sugar!”

He turned to his father and felt the last string that attached them together disappear forever.

“I hope this hurts.”

Together, they put an end to Jimin’s nightmare, hand in hand. Blood flowed and bones were broken. A disgusting and gory sight. But Jimin had never felt so alive. So fully in any moment. Standing there with his Mate to Be, letting Jeongguk know about what type of person he really was. And Jeongguk was still there, just as twisted, yet still so perfect for Jimin. Even when the screams began to wane, and when Jeongguk finished them both off with his Ability, Jimin was in his own version of heaven, despite the hellish sights.

For the first time in his life, he felt like Park Jimin. But rather than his parents’, he was his own person, and his alone.

Well… His, and Jeongguk’s.

Chapter Text

It had been so long.

Jeongguk could barely remember how it felt to feel happy. The moment that he’d been captured, he had prepared himself for a lifetime of devastation and regret. The Seer had been wrong. He’d never find his Tamer, the one to fulfil him and his Ability, and make them both stronger and better than they could be. Never find his Mate, the one who would love him despite his flaws, and someone he could give his existence to. It had been his wish for his entire life, only to find it gone in the span of one night.

They’d tortured him over and over. Opening parts of his body to see how his very organs worked, and they never ensured he was fully under, so he felt every moment of instruments deep inside him. They’d kept him drugged, making it difficult to access his Ability. He felt so weak, so tired. But he couldn’t end his own life, since they kept him too well. He’d hoped to starve himself, but when presented with enough food, he’d gorged himself, stupidly. It made them force him to eat what he needed. Slowly, he became someone he’d never wanted to be. He wasn’t the proud, youngest son of the Jeon clan. He was a pet. He wasn’t a warrior; he was a slave. And he hated it.

Then he’d met Jimin. One look was all it took, and his Ability sprang out for him, reaching for the gorgeous man on the stretcher. His hair was black then, like other city-dome Humans, and Jeongguk could feel the sickness in his body. He’d never felt something like it before. It felt like a black Ability, like a curse on others. He still couldn’t figure out what could twist power like that, make it a weapon, rather than an extension of your very soul. But whatever it was, it didn’t belong in his Tamer’s body. When he tried to help, the guards had kept him back. Even the good Tamer held him back. V had just shaken his head, understanding Jeongguk’s intentions, but knowing it was useless.

So, instead, Jeongguk had gone to the Beast called One, hoping to get answers from him. For a creature that had spent far too long within the city-dome, he was extremely wise. A protector, when he was allowed to be. He told One that he’d met his Tamer, and One had warned him to lay low. To wait for the Tamer to approach him. That these humans were strange and fickle creatures. Even though the boy would feel the pull to his natural match, to his Wildling, the human could deny it. Jeongguk couldn’t understand it… It was a ridiculous notion. That was, until the dreams. He knew it was made of Ability. The foreign nature of it never allowing him to fully relax. Until he’d seen a head of black hair, and sweet brown eyes. Those plump lips that Jeongguk wanted immediately to devour. The sharp jaw that made Jeongguk want to lick along it. Soft cheeks that were made to be kiss and nuzzle. His body was lithe and muscled leanly. Not too soft, but not overtly strong. He was a work of art. But he realised quickly that One had been right. This sweet boy wasn’t ready for him. Wasn’t ready to be bound to someone like Jeongguk.

But as he’d met him outside of their dreams, he saw little of that gentle innocence. He learned of his name, and that Jimin was much stronger than it seemed. Fighting on his first day, even when partially starved. The look he’d given Jeongguk in the library, his once soft brown eyes now the same blue of his clansmen. The piercing colour looked him up and down like Jeongguk was a meal, and it made him feel a shock of pure arousal through his body. He nearly had disregarded all the rules to take Jimin away, to fuck him so hard that his sweet boy saw stars. But he pulled away from those instincts. Even when he was allowed to soothe Jimin’s tense body with his Ability, he kept himself together. Even though it felt like his very being was perusing his Tamer’s body. And his Ability stuck with Jimin, causing him to unknowingly hold a portion of lightning inside him. It came out rarely, so rarely that no one noticed. Except the other Beasts. It was like a mark on Jimin’s soul, one that Jeongguk was proud to have claimed.

As the weeks had gone by, Jimin had only further proven how fascinating and beautiful he was.

Yet in the dreams, his hair was still black, his eyes still brown.

Jimin didn’t know this, and Jeongguk knew that, deep inside, Jimin still hadn’t accepted what had happened to him. He hadn’t allowed himself to move on from his past. Jeongguk had tried to ask about his life, his family. But Jimin had mastered avoiding that conversation. It had frustrated him, but he couldn’t blame him. He had said little about his own family, and their darker history. But Jimin’s life had been blown open for him to look at. This Haneul had hurt his Minnie with his actions, and Jeongguk would never forgive him for that. However, Jimin had finally found pure release. He’d seen it happen in slow motion. As Jimin’s father had stropped screaming, the life leaving his body in a river of dirty blood, the black in Jimin’s hair washed away, leaving the blonde halo he’d come to love. Even if it was specked with blood, and grimy from this grungy basement, he’d become so beautiful.

When Jimin turned to him with his bright blue, flashing eyes, Jeongguk had dropped his wrench, knowing the woman was dead, and he’d opened his arms. He prayed that Jimin would accept the gesture. Despite how close they had become, Jimin had yet to take their Bond to anything more than hugs. Nearly platonic. Maddeningly so.

But his fears were erased when his gorgeous Mate raced into his arms, flinging his own around Jeongguk’s shoulders. And without any hesitation, Jimin kissed him.

It was like the heavens had burst, allowing all blessings and happiness in the universe to be spun into a cocoon around them. Jeongguk held him close to his body, marvelling at every line he could feel of his Jimin. The kiss was so sweet, even with the flecks on blood on their lips. If anything, it was a spice that made them both wilder. Jimin’s hands wandered over Jeongguk’s shirt and over his hard-won muscles. Jimin sighed into the kiss, allowing Jeongguk access, and he greedily took advantage, sliding his tongue against his Mate’s. Jimin whined, needy from the intrusion, and opened his legs a bit more, trying to pull Jeongguk closer. Jeongguk groaned when he felt Jimin’s hardness against his own, and his hands wandered down to Jimin’s lush behind. At the first squeeze, Jimin moaned, and pulled back. His eyes were so dark with lust, and his lips slick with their combined spit. If Jeongguk had been impatient before, then he was ravenous now, wanting to take Jimin apart at the seams, if only to worship every part of him as he painstakingly put him back together. His Ability poured through them both, making the air thrum with energy, and making Jimin whimper at the unexpected pleasure of it all.

“Jeongguk…”

His Mate, whispering his name like a prayer, nearly made Jeongguk come undone. He nearly pushed him into the wall, if only to ravish him, until Jimin screamed for him.

But neither of them would be satisfied there.

The room around them shifted again, and Jimin was startled, stepping away from Jeongguk, as they both prepared for whatever happened next.

Jeongguk focused on the immediate threat, allowing himself just a moment more to indulge in the scent, and now taste, of his Jimin.

 

~~~

Jimin refused to regret his first kiss. Everything in him had been screaming for Jeongguk. The relief and joy had been so much, and when his handsome Beast looked at him, and opened his arms, Jimin felt the pull. And it had been like coming home. Like everything was right in the world. Jimin knew that was a foolish, unrealistic thought, but Jimin also knew that he was lucky enough to have Jeongguk. Why not push that luck a bit more?

When the dream cleared into a new area, one he’d never seen before, he looked to Jeongguk. The Beast immediately tensed and pulled Jimin to his side. Even with their unresolved tension, Jimin didn’t feel like the action was sexual, and looked around, confused.

It was night, looking as though it was inside a great tree, just not the tree that Jeongguk had shown him. This was less massive, and rather than layers upon layers of wide-open rooms, this looked like tunnels weaving around a single place, with small openings for entrances, or windows. The only clue that it was a tree with the carved-out rings inside the tree. And it smelt like live vegetation. A foreign, but pleasant smell. Still, it confused Jimin.

“I should have known.” Jeongguk began, “Haneul wants us both to be very open with each other.”

Jimin frowned. “What do you mean?”

“…I mean that you’re not the only one with a secret.”

Jeongguk moved forward slowly, his eyes flicking around, cautious and ready to fight. Jimin followed, his steps less sure, but feeling just as determined to protect his Kookie.

The only warning was a tiny flick in the shadows, before Jeongguk spun around to block an attack. The Beast they faced had great wings on his back, and he snarled. “You’ll never kill us, Jeon!”

Jimin gasped, wishing he still had the hammer in his hand. Instead he ran behind the Beast and immediately reached in between the thrashing wings, finding bones that were easy to break. He ripped down at them, causing a howl of intense pain. The Beast turned to Jimin, not having expected a ‘human’ to be able to attack him. He raised a hand, ready to hit Jimin, probably break him intensely, when he suddenly saw claws sprout from his chest. The Beast gasped, then coughed out, blood speckling the bottom of his lips, before Jeongguk shoved him away.

Jimin stared at the change in Jeongguk’s appearance. He seemed to have grown fangs like a wolf, and long claws to match. Lightening crackled along his skin, the static of it had raised up his hair, and caused his skin to faintly glow like he was being lit from the inside out. A strange sight, and yet, Jimin had to hold in a moan at how beautiful he was, his earlier arousal far from forgotten. Jeongguk looked at him, with glowing eyes. “Stay close, hyung. They’ll be coming in waves.”

“Who are they?”

Jeongguk paused for a moment and sighed. “They… There- There was once two families with equal importance among the Sky Beasts. Both as powerful. But one of them longed to create more relationships with the other kinds of Beasts. The other demanded to be kept away, the elite and aloof kind. The ones that were willing to make treaties with others, but they weren’t exactly the most popular with the other Sky Beasts, since most believed themselves better than all the others. But their family had something that the traditionalists didn’t.”

Jimin tilted his head. “Which was?”

Jeongguk smiled wryly. “Brute strength. Not in numbers, but in power.”

Jimin frowned. “How does that relate?”

Scratching the back of his head, Jeongguk sighed. “My family essentially went to war against the Kyun family. We never wanted to fight so hard. But when they had my mother assassinated… Well, we retaliated. This night happened. And it’s when the Jeons wiped out every single Kyun, cementing us as the strongest and most influential of the Sky Beasts.”

Jimin’s eyes widened. “So, you killed them all? Just because you wanted to make contact with other Beasts?”

Jeongguk nodded. “We had to force other Sky Beasts to open their wings to leave their nests… So to speak. But it was the right choice for us as a people.” He sighed. “Although it is the reason I wasn’t near my home when the Hunters came and caught me.”

Jimin flinched, but couldn’t respond, when they both heard an ears-splitting shriek from beside them. Jeongguk immediately went to defend Jimin, as the foreign Beast presented herself. Her wings were massive and intimidating. She hissed at them. “What’s this, Jeon. Caught yourself some exotic bitch?”

Jeongguk snarled and sprang forward to fight, but Jimin saw how she angled her body, ready to strike him as he rushed forward. Without thinking, he bent down and picked up a knife on the fallen Beasts belt, and before either Jeongguk or the woman’s hits landed, Jimin shouted out, “Are you forgetting about me?”

The woman didn’t look away, but Jeongguk paused. As she tried to hit him, her aim was off, causing her gait to be thrown off balance. Jeongguk pounced, and got her in a hold, unable to stab at her, since she had somehow hardened her skin into a thick hide. Jimin watched them struggle, and got ready to finish. As Jeongguk held her still, he roared out, “Hyung! Eyes!”

She had been screwing her eyes shut as she tried to find purchase in the hold, but her eyes blew open, trying to see where Jimin was, and what threat he was posing.

Jimin took the shot, and threw the knife deep into her skull, unhindered by the thick skin. She slumped immediately, and Jeongguk grinned at Jimin. “Perfect throw.”

Jimin tried not to preen, but a smile appeared on his lips. “Thank you, Kookie. But we need to keep going, don’t we?”

Jeongguk hummed and pulled Jimin further up the tree corridor. They were attacked by others, and they managed to defeat them all, picking up weapons which helped them intensely. Jeongguk had both an axe and a sword, while Jimin had an assortment of knives, both to throw, and to stab. He found that none of the Beasts saw him as a threat, meaning that they never saw him coming. Whether it was a fatal injury caused, or being heavily impaired and waiting for Jeongguk to finish them, Jimin was their undoing each time. And every single Beast down was another praise for Jimin, as his Mate sang out how amazed he was by his Tamer.

Finally, they reached the top of the tree, with only a few small branches leading up above them. There were other Beasts fighting in the air, and in the boughs of the tree, but none more intense than the fight between the two at the top. Jimin gasped as he looked at a face that was so like Jeongguk’s, but older and angular. Jeongguk shivered. “…I couldn’t interfere in this fight back then. This was my father’s fight. All I could do was fight anyone else that tried to get in his way. This fight was for his lost Mate.” Jeongguk gave Jimin a look, and he nodded back at his gorgeous Beast. They continued to fight anyone that tried to come near, effectively protecting Jeongguk’s father, and furthering their own synergy. Slowly, more Jeon’s flooded onto the branch, waiting patiently for the clan heads to win. Jeongguk took the moment to go to Jimin, taking his hand into his own, and pulling Jimin close into his side. Jimin nearly purred in delight, having spent a long time appreciating his partner’s perfect body, and how fighting just further enhanced the pure strength inside him.

Jeongguk then shivered. “This… is the part I hate.”

Jimin blinked, confused. “Does your father…?”

Jeongguk shook his head, “No, he won.” And like magic, his father managed to chop off the head of the Beast, finally ending the desperate battle. The Jeon’s clan head exhaled slowly, before turning to the others on the branch. Jimin would have expected celebration, but it was tense and silent. Another Beast stepped forward, and he placed his right hand over his heart. “Father. We have won. Mother has been avenged. What is your will?”

Jeongguk’s father just smiled and lifted a hand to ruffle the Beast’s hair. “Jongin… You will lead the clan now. You’ve trained for this moment. And I know you are ready.”

Jongin shuddered and let out a small cry. The other Jeons also cried out at that. Jeongguk hid his face in Jimin’s shoulder, and Jimin felt as warm, wet drops fell onto his neck and bare skin. Jimin watched as their father stood back and looked at them all. “My family… You have pulled through this fight. It will not be easy to usher in peace… But for our sakes, I will wish for it to come. Be kind to others, and bold in your lives. Do not resign yourself to a life only within the Sky Trees. Explore. See all the forests have to offer. Even if you encounter the Cursed Ones, be blessed. Myself and my Mate will watch from the other world. And we will be so proud.”

Jongin bowed in front of him, causing a ripple to go through the rest of the clan, and the Jeons all bowed. Jimin followed suit, especially when Jeongguk dropped down. His father noticed him in that moment and smiled. “Hello, Jimin. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Jimin blinked and looked up. “Me, sir?”

Jeongguk, likewise, seemed surprised. “Papa?”

The man smiled. “I know you’re scared, son. But you’re no longer alone. Neither of you are. I wish I could tell you more of how proud we are, Jeongguk. Your mother wished nothing more than to see you with your perfect mate.”

Jeongguk teared up and bowed. “…This isn’t real. It’s just an illusion.”

His father smiled sadly. “Perhaps to you, son. But isn’t it a good dream?” As Jeongguk began to cry, his father turned to Jimin. “Take care of my little skylark. He’s a good child. He fights so hard. I just wish he could have time to love just as hard.” He smiled at Jimin, and Jimin found himself smiling gently back at him.

“I’ll do everything I can to take care of him.”

His father laughed. “I know you will. I’m sure you’ll help him find his wings again.”

Jimin just stared, confused but happy to have the blessing of this strange man. Yet as Jimin felt a smile form on his lips, Jeongguk’s father started to fade in front of them, like the wind was blowing him away. The lightening flickering over his form died down. The Beasts around them cried out in sorrow, as the man the looked up to faded more and more until nothing was left of him. Jeongguk trembled beside him. “…Without his Mate, his soul was no longer tethered to this world. He's been fighting the call to return to her side, wanting to make sure we were safe before he left. It’s a dirty move to kill someone’s Mate when it’s you that is the target.” Jeongguk looked at Jimin. “…When we Bond… It will be like this for me. If anything happened to you, I wouldn’t survive.”

“Wait…” Jimin’s eyes widened, and his lips parted. “You wouldn’t survive? What about me?”

“I don’t know in reverse. You’re not a Beast. I don’t know what would happen if you lost me.”

Jimin pursed his lips. “…So you’re saying I might have to live without my beautiful Beast with me…”

Jeongguk shrugged. “You’d be able to live on and start again.”

“Jeongguk… I don’t think you’ve realised something.”

Jeongguk looked up at him, staring at him like Jimin was the most gorgeous thing to walk the earth. And even though he was trying, he still couldn’t fully understand why his Beast thought that way. Not when Jeongguk was so wonderful. Still, he smiled gently at him. “If you were to go Jeongguk, I would find a way to follow you. No matter what. I’ve had to start over too many times. And if I had to do that without you, I wouldn’t ever be okay.”

Jimin went forward and knelt in front of him. “Want to know a secret?”

Jeongguk tilted his head. “What is it?”

Jimin smiled, a bit sad. “You’re my first kiss. Sure, I’ve had sex, but none of them kissed me, and I didn’t want to kiss them. But you… I’ve been wondering what it would feel like to taste your lips and feel them give against mine.”

Jeongguk shuddered at that. “I should confess… I’m not a virgin either.”

Jimin gasped in mock offense. “You didn’t keep yourself pure for me?”

Jeongguk laughed, and the scene around them changed again, this time to a beautiful, and familiar nest, high in the Jeon’s Sky Tree. Jeongguk stood up and pulled Jimin close. “Many Beasts tried to Bond with me, insisting that the connection they felt was that of a Mate Bond. But I’ve never felt any connection with anyone. And I mean anyone. Still, I was encouraged to have sex, to test out compatibility.”

“Compatibility? Like force yourself to Bond?”

“Exactly. An unfulfilled Bond, but a stable one. But I hated that idea so much…”

“So, this nest… is where you’ve got down to business.”

Jeongguk snorted. “It sounds so much worse when you put it like that.”

Jimin just giggled. “You weren’t helping your case much.”

“Right…” Jeongguk shook his head and leaned forward, indicating that he wanted to kiss Jimin. His heart skipped a beat, and a giddy, warm feeling spread through Jimin’s chest. He leaned in to reciprocate Jeongguk’s motions, wanting desperately to feel his Beast’s thinner but enticing lips against his own. When their lips slotted together, Jimin felt himself become more addicted to the feeling. He couldn’t decide on where to rest his hands. On the hard muscles of his shoulders? Towards his perky behind, and hold one for dear life? Or knot themselves into his wild hair? He couldn’t decide, nor did he want to. His broken moan was loud, but Jimin wasn’t ashamed when it made Jeongguk growl, low and sexy in the back of his throat. The Beast started to guide him to the nest, before he pushed him back onto the mattress and cushions inside. Jimin chuckled but opened his legs. “Eager, are we?”

Jeongguk looked down at him, his gaze hungry and desperate. “I don’t think I could be any more eager than right now.” He then crawled into the nest, stalking him and making shivers of delight and arousal run over Jimin’s body. Jeongguk ran his face over Jimin’s chest, like a cat scenting after cuddles, before he pushed his face into Jimin’s neck. He giggled at the action, but moaned breathily as Jeongguk began to kiss, nip and suck at the pale column of flesh, leaving a mark on his sensitive skin. His Beast lay down between his legs, making their lengths press against each other in that overwhelming way that they had been just a short while before. They moaned together at the friction, before Jimin attempted to remove their shirts. Jeongguk, just as eager, practically ripped off Jimin’s shirt, which allowed access for the Beast to suck on Jimin’s nipples. Amazed by his forwardness, Jimin cried out, pushing his chest into the awaiting mouth, and shivering with desire. Jimin’s hands tangled into his Beast’s dark hair, as he hung onto him. Jeongguk started thrusting his hips in time with Jimin, and the Tamer realised that neither Jeongguk nor he would last. May not even last being stripped. They were so starved of each other, despite seeing each other often. Every kiss and touch drove him wild. As Jeongguk placed his hand down the front of Jimin’s pants, about to stroke him directly, Jimin came with a cry. Jeongguk was surprised, but as he realised what had happened, he snapped as well, coming with a guttural moan, his hips still rutting into him, but not slowly.

Jimin panted, still seeing stars, before he covered his face and groaned.

Jeongguk looked up at him. “What is it, Jimin-hyung?”

“…I can’t believe I came so fast. I usually last so much longer. I’m sorry.”

Jeongguk blinked, then nearly giggled. “You think I fared much better? At least I was about to take off your pants. I didn’t get that far.”

Jimin smirked before snickering. “What are we? Teenagers?”

Jeongguk smiled. “No… But I know that I love you.”

Jimin’s eyes widened at the admission, before an unfamiliar, but gentle feeling bloomed in his heart. It spread out to every part of him, making a teary smile dawn on his face.

“You love me? Really?”

Jeongguk smiled. “Since the first time I saw you.”

Jimin laughed, the feeling becoming stronger, and changing into absolute adoration. He pulled the Beast into a tight hug, giggling in delight. “Thank you. Thank you… Oh, god… I just… I’ve… I…” He gasped out the words, a laughing and crying mess.

Jeongguk chuckled. “Is that so surprising?”

“Yes… You deserve more than me.”

Jeongguk pulled both, shocked. But Jimin smiled. “You deserve more… But I’ve decided something.”

Lifting an eyebrow in mild disbelief, Jeongguk merely said, “And what is that?”

Jimin grinned up at him, his eyes turning into crescents. “I’m selfish enough to want to keep you by my side. I won’t question why you love me. I’ll only ever try to see myself with even half of that love. But you have to do that same.”

“The same? Love myself like you love me.”

Jimin nodded enthusiastically.

Jeongguk blinked, and his expression turned unbelievable tender. “You… you love me?”

Jimin paused, before blushing. “I thought it was obvious.”

Jeongguk shrugged. “Maybe to some. I’m… a bit oblivious.”

Jimin considered the words, before he realised that he had never said anything. After all these weeks attempting to connect with the Beast, he’d fallen hard. Yet he’d never told his Kookie about how much he’d grown to adore him, depend on and love him. So, he pulled Jeongguk impossibly closer, cuddling into him before whispering into his ear, “Jeongguk… I love you.”

Jeongguk completely froze at the admission, before he trembled in his arms. “Am I dreaming, Jimin?”

“Technically yes. But it’s not that kind of dream. This is real, Jeongguk. And reality means that your Jimin loves you.”

Jeongguk gasped and pulled back so he could look at Jimin properly, and Jimin gazed up at him, feeling that he was looking with all of his love. The Beast smiled his bunny smile, scrunching up his nose like he did when he was embarrassed or overwhelmed.

Without warning, he gasped, and nearly fell back into Jimin’s arms, his face grimacing in pain. Jimin’s breath hitched in his throat, before he sat up with Jeongguk. “JK? Baby, what’s wrong?”

But his Beast said nothing, a soundless cry coming from his lips. Jimin nearly whimpered as he watched the all too familiar pose of Jeongguk in pain. This time would be different though. Because in front of his eyes, Jimin saw something emerge slowly from Jeongguk’s back. First a single dark mark, soon grew into sprouting feathers, and then become longer, and more defined. Jimin could only watch as black wings emerged from him. Jimin felt like he should be frightened, but he wasn’t. If anything, the addition seemed right. Like he’d never actually seen Jeongguk until this moment.

When an incredible wingspan finally emerged, Jeongguk relaxed into Jimin’s hold, before pushing himself back up. He looked to the side, and Jimin saw the wonder on Jeongguk’s face.

“I… I thought they would never come back.”

Jimin blinked. “You had wings?”

“…They cut them off when I arrived.”

Jimin felt the words put out the happiness that he and Jeongguk had been living in. He felt cold from those words. And angry. Jeongguk must have sensed the change, because he just smiled. “But Jimin, they’re back… Come, love… Feel my wings. They’re yours.”

Jimin felt the flicker of happiness come back, and he allowed himself to gaze upon the obsidian feathers that seemed to shine a dark blue. But most important, were the flickers of thrumming and changing light that lit up the underside of his wingspan, like a pulse within the feathers. Unbidden, he reached out a hand too run his fingers through the down at the base, causing Jeongguk to sigh in relief. “That feels good, Minnie… So good.”

Jimin smiled gently and continued to run his fingers through the warm feathers, before Jeongguk closed his wings around him, and pulled him tight, causing Jimin to blush and giggle.

“Jeongguk… They’re gorgeous.”

The Beast smiled. “And they’re yours. Just like all of me is yours, Jimin.”

Jimin smiled, content, perhaps truly content for the first time in his life. “And I, Jeongguk, am yours.”

They cuddled for a while more, before the clearing of a throat interrupted them. Jimin shrunk down further into Jeongguk’s wings, before he noticed the change of location. This was a place that he’s never been before. Woods, but deep in the thicket, and something he’d never seen. Jeongguk sat up, bringing Jimin up with him, and he glanced around, unsure.

“Where have I seen this place.”

“Oh, Jeongguk… And here I thought I may have made an impression on you.”

Jeongguk looked around, seeing nothing. But Jimin noticed the shadowy figure at the edge of their vision, and he frowned. “Haneul…”

“That’s right, Jimin. But I think Jeongguk should remember who I actually am. I have to say, kids… I’m impressed. I expected you both to fail. Maybe threatening death helped you both.”

“You were trying to kill us!”

“Actually, I just said that. I think you two are cute. Wouldn’t want to mess with fate and actually murder you.”

Jeongguk frowned. “What do you mean fate. Soul Beasts care not for the future.”

“You know, you assume that that’s what I am. What if you’re wrong?”

Jeongguk turned Jimin towards the man, finally pulling his wings away. Jimin looked down and noticed they were both clothed again. Convenient, and Jimin wouldn’t question it. Instead he simply said, “Who are you then, Haneul.”

The man sighed. “…Yeah… That’s the question isn’t it. Haneul is my real name. Not one I’ve heard for a while. But that’s not the name that I’m known by.”

Slowly, the shadows dropped away from his face, revealing a young man, looking around their age. His skin was darker, like he’d been healthily tanned into a rich golden-brown. His hair was white blonde, and fell down to his waist, shining in contrast to his skin. But most fascinating was the small indents all over his skin, which seemed to glow with many different colours. And his eyes… They were a mesmerising violet colour, and drew Jimin in, promising wisdom and knowledge and all manner of riches. When the man blinked, the spell was broken, only for his eyes to pull him in again.

Beside him, Jeongguk gasped. “You!”

Haneul smiled wryly. “Yes, Jeongguk… It was me. I told you that you’d find your Mate.”

Jeongguk looked down at Jimin, which broke the spell again for Jimin, who stared back at him. “Who is he, JK?”

“…This man… He is…” He seemed lost for words.

Haneul chuckled softly. “What our mutual friend is struggling to say… is that I am the Seer. The oldest Beast in the forest, and one who has the Ability to see the future, and the Ability to help those good futures come true. Most of the time.”

Jimin gasped in understanding. Jeongguk had told him how he had sought out the powerful Beast, but this was more than he expected. “What do you want with us, then? Surely there’s nothing we can do for you.”

Haneul just looked away. “…Actually, there is. But I can’t tell you what it is. Not yet. Just know that I need you. All of you… You all together are a team that can help to end the suffering in the city-dome. Both your own, and the suffering of others. You’ll need to know and trust each other, know your good and bad points, and still love and accept the other.” Haneul smiled. “That’s all I need from you. The rest is if you’ll help.”

Jimin stared for a moment, ready to respond, when he felt a jerk in his mind, and he panicked. He gripped onto Jeongguk, who was holding on just as hard. “No! I’m not ready to wake!”

Haneul just smiled. “But it’s time. Time for you to face a world far harsher than nightmares and bad memories. Wake up, Jimin, Jeongguk. Your friends need you.”

Jimin felt the dream shatter around them, but not before he heard Haneul say, “When we next meet, it will be in the real world. There, I will tell you everything. This I promise you both.”

Chapter Text

“Jimin! Wake up! Something’s wrong!”

Jimin gasped awake, feeling like he’d been drowning and was taking his first breath after nearly dying. The fuzziness of the dream left him, like a rubber band snapping in his mind to wake him. He looked up at Hoseok, his eyes wide, and terrified. Jimin blinked once, before scrambling up. “What happened?”

“I don’t know. But One told me that we need to get down to the medical levels, quick.”

Jimin felt a chill go over his skin at the possibilities of what could be down there. He huffed and pulled Hoseok with him. “Too much shit has happened since I last saw you, hyung.”

Hoseok sighed. “I bet. I don’t even know what happened with you and the Director.”

Jimin raced them to the elevator, trying to catch his breath. “Shit… Hyung… It’s… Jihyun is here.”

“Jihyun?” Hoseok gasped. “I thought he was in medical school!”

“He was. Now he’s a medical intern under Jin. But that’s only part of what happened. Apparently Five went psycho.”

“I was in the library for that. How did you know, though?”

“I was with Jin-hyung when Yoongi-hyung called him.”

Hoseok pouted. “Do you know why he did? It’s not like Five to act like that, even though he’s a bit flighty.”

Jimin bit his lip, hesitating, before he lifted his fingers to his lips, indicating he had to be quiet. Hoseok nodded, and the elevator opened.

“Honestly, hyung… I have no idea.” And at the same time, Jimin pointed to his stomach, and mimed out being pregnant. Hoseok blinked at him, not understanding, before blanching. He made no sound, but his expression was loud enough.

Jimin hummed. “My dream was…enlightening. Found out a bit more about dream boy’s past. Was cool.” He’d taken to being nonchalant with his descriptions of the dreams, attempting to state information to Hoseok without relaying the meaning of it to others.

Hoseok smoothed over his features, attempting to regain control of himself. “Did you make out in his bed again?” He tried to joke around, but his voice was slightly strained.

Jimin shrugged. “Well, yeah, and we got pretty hot and heavy. What can I say? I was horny.”

Hoseok paused. “A real make-out session?”

Jimin bushed, knowing that Hoseok knew that he wasn’t the type to do such a thing. “…Yeah. Was pretty cool.”

Hoseok chuckled. “Finally getting game in your dream.”

“Yeah… Oh, and I killed my parents in it. Must have been some repressed thing. Dream boy and I made out over them.” Jimin said it quickly, like it was no big deal.

Hoseok, however, knew exactly how big of a deal it was. He froze in place. “…That’s…”

Jimin chuckled, a little breathily. “A lot. Sorry, you didn’t want to know.”

Hoseok looked mildly disgusted. “On top of their corpses?”

Jimin shrugged. “Around them.”

Hoseok looked fully disgusted. “Gross.”

Jimin grinned, before they were passed by a bunch of guards, all in their ‘Beast-proof’ gear. Jeongguk had told him that it didn’t work, and that it was just for show, but that wasn’t their focus. What the hell was going on?

They both heard yelling and screaming, the sound of it grating Jimin’s nerves. He brought up his bracelet and quickly sent for his Jeongguk. Something was deadly wrong, and Jimin knew that he’d need his Beast there. They ran forward to what was happening. And Jimin felt his heart fall out of his chest.

Yoongi had been restrained and drugged, looking like he was barely conscious. V was on the floor, his mouth frothing from the pain and poison, yet the threat to his Tamer was great enough that he was fighting through the pain. Every time a guard tried to restrain him, or take Yoongi away, he’d rise from the floor, screaming at them, making ears bleed with his real voice, and would push them away hard enough to break bones. There were other officials, ones which Jimin had seen, but never remembered their names. They were shouting into the bracelets, trying to summon the Director, informing her that the injection was at max potency, and anymore would kill him. Jin stood passive at the side, and Jimin saw the smallest flicker of pain in his eyes. Jihyun was beside him, unmoving, but obviously scared, and confused, with his hands over his ears like it would stop the razer like shriek coming from the Beast.

Jimin rushed forward. “Step back! You’re just going to injure yourselves more, you idiots!”

The official looked at him and sneered. “We don’t need the help of a Tamer. Move along.”

“You don’t want a Tamer to help with a Beast problem? Don’t be ridiculous. Step aside, before you damage the Beast. We still need them, and we often lose valuable lives to retrieve them from the forest. I feel like the Director would care a lot more about that than whether or not a Tamer helps to settle the situation.”

The official twisted up their lips, before stepping back. “That’s enough. Let the Tamer deal with it.”

The guards stepped back, most looking relieved.

Jimin gulped, realising that he had no idea what to do. He wasn’t V’s Tamer, nor did he know how to calm him down when he was angry. Hell, he didn’t even know why he was reacting like this, and it meant that he could be absolutely sticking his foot into the worst situation imaginable.

Still, he went towards V, slowly, watching for any reaction.

V was fully conscious, even as he writhed on the floor in agony. He cradled his stomach as he did so, and Jimin thought that it looked like he was holding his stomach through a cramp. Although he knew that he was trying to protect his child. Jin obviously hadn’t been able to finish the procedure. Jimin crept forward, avoiding Yoongi completely, knowing that would initiate a full attack. Instead, he focused on soothing the enraged Beast.

“V? Can you hear me? It’s Jimin.”

V winced, like his soft voice was too loud, before he opened his eyes. The amber hue or his irises looked like they were burning, and he had tears of literally fire trailing faint burns down his cheeks.

“Jimin?”

The guards and officials seemed to object to the Beast talking, but Jimin heard Hoseok reassure them in the background. Jimin thanked his lucky stars for Hoseok, yet again.

“Yeah, V, it’s me. Are you trying to protect Yoongi?”

V whimpered. “They’re hurting him.”

“Yeah, they did hurt him a lot, didn’t they? But you protected him, didn’t you?”

V shuddered, his eyes becoming more glazed, feeling more of the pain. “Protected… him…”

Jimin smiled gently. “You did well. Now he needs you to go over to him and be gentle with him. He needs your warmth to heal him up. Then you’ll have done everything you need to do.”

V’s smile looked drunk and sloppy. “Heal… him…”

V crawled towards his Tamer, his body bowed with pain, even as he pushed through. He took Yoongi’s face in one hand and seemed to concentrate. At first nothing happened, and the Beast gritted his teeth, a cry of pain coming out, before he slumped to the ground, devoid of any more energy to fight, and completely at their mercy. At the same time, Yoongi opened his eyes and looked around. He tried to get up but was restrained. He growled but then hung his head in defeat, recognising their situation. “Did they hurt him?”

“…He gave as good as he got.”

Yoongi just nodded. He looked at the official. “Well? What now? I’ll go with you. But you are not putting V in an isolation chamber. The baby won’t survive that.”

Jimin nearly gasped at that, not expecting everyone to know about V’s delicate state. The official pursed her lips. “You’re not really in a position to talk, Suga. And it seems your Beast responds better to Jimin’s instruction than your own.”

“It’s not like you gave me the chance to tell him to stand down. You made this much harder on yourself, you know. How many guards are injured, huh? Just because you didn’t let me follow procedure?”

The official growled. “You’re going to go to the isolation chamber in his place, then. Maybe that will teach you to not have sexual relations with an animal. Then again, you Tamers are just mutts, in the end. Maybe we should neuter you just like them!”

Yoongi smirked. “And yet, you have to admit, the Director probably loves this turn of events. She gets a new toy and gets to see a male pregnancy with her own eyes. I should be rewarded, honestly.”

Jimin blinked, confused that Yoongi, the non-actor, could speak like that. But he then saw through his mask. He was being deeply sarcastic, and was hurt beyond anything. No wonder he was biting back in the only way he could.

The official had enough. “Take him to the chamber. Jin, restrain that Beast before we have anything else to clean up!” They stormed away, and Yoongi was hauled to his shaky feet. He looked at Jimin as he was dragged away, before he whispered sadly, “Look after him…”

Jimin nodded, imperceptible to most, but he knew Yoongi would see.

The guards helped to get V onto the bed in Jin’s office, before restraining him, and putting in all manner of Ability blockers. Jimin saw that with each injection, V’s skin became paler, the fire in him dwindling.

Before the last one was put on, Jin held out his hand. “Anymore, and you’ll hurt the fetus.”

The guards nodded, rechecking the security, before leaving, seeing that the two Tamers would take care of the situation.

Jihyun was trembling in the corner, terrified from everything he’d just seen, and Jimin felt his heart burn from sorrow. Moments later, and Jeongguk rounded the corner. Jimin mentally kicked himself for not having warned him about the presence of his brother, but there were more pressing matters at hand. Still, just his presence was taking a great weight off of Jimin’s chest, and he supressed the urge to throw himself into his Beast’s arms.

He’d have to pause that thinking.

“Jin-hyung. What happened?” Hoseok gently asked the clearly emotional doctor.

Jin shivered. “The Beast Five came here requesting a full body scan for his health. The Official Kim came to watch the proceedings, as, according to new policy, all Beast and Bonded Tamers must have an official oversee their treatment.” Jin’s lips trembled. “I’ve also been informed the medical bay will have to be monitored again, as too many Tamers were sneaking down here for sexual reasons, and it was not helping the sterility of the environment. Taking down the confidential silence means that that behaviour will be discouraged.”

Jimin connected the dots. “Yoongi mentioned a baby. I thought that Beasts were neutered and spayed.”

“Oh, they are,” Jin nodded. “However, their Abilities can often cause the Beasts to regain virility. Just as I’ve had to perform the surgery on One’s vocal chords often, I’ve had to spay Five multiple times as well, since I’d note in my scans that the procedure hadn’t stuck. It seems as though it was too late this time.”

Hoseok gasped. “He was pregnant? Yoongi was actually having sex with him?”

Jimin had to admit it, his hyung was too good sometimes.

Jin nodded. “Unexpected. But I suppose he had nothing else to do, since most Tamers avoid him.”

Jimin sighed. “Then the official made a big deal about it, only figuring that the Director would want the hybrid… thing.” He wrinkled up his nose.

“Exactly.” Jin’s eyes watered and he sobbed once, his control finally breaking. “I’m sorry, guys. That was just so scary. I’ve never seen a Beast angry like that. I thought I was going to die.”

Jihyun went pure white, knowing that wasn’t what Jin meant, but not knowing the truth.

Jimin, meanwhile, sighed. “I’m glad I got here in time.”

“How did you?”

Jimin shrugged. “One told Hoseok to come. Seems like he sensed the struggle happening.”

Jin’s lips wobbled as he continued to cry. “Oh…” He sat down onto the stretcher, nearly collapsing onto it. He looked at V, who had been mercifully spared from Jin’s sudden seating. “…He’s going to need taking care of. Especially without his Tamer. I don’t agree to letting him be by himself, honestly.” He looked at Jimin. “…I believe you and Eleven should take him onboard with you. You’re both more mobile than Hoseok and One, and I believe Eleven is stronger than Five. At least, that’s my theory.”

Jimin looked at Jeongguk, wanting to say so much. Instead he looked away. “Of course, we will. But only if the Director approves of the idea.”

Jin nodded slowly, before reaching out a hand to pet V’s hair. He shivered. “He’s so cold… I’m not used to that from him. I have to wait for an official to come before I can check him up after those idiots tore through here.” His eyes turned steely, as he pulled himself together. “Jimin, take Jihyun with you. He needs to rest for the rest of the day. He wasn’t prepared for what they did today. Besides… He needs a tour of the facility. If Five wakes, I’ll call you here. Hoseok, I need you to relay a message to One. Tell him to tell the officials if they need to visit the doctors. That I will be unable to treat them without the supervision.” He wrung his hands as he spoke, looking tired and like his fight was had been forcibly removed.

Jimin looked at Jeongguk and smiled. “Eleven… I don’t believe you’ve had the chance to see Dr Park before. Jihyunnie, this is the Beast that I’ve been given to train with. He’s very obedient to me now, but you’ll have to be careful. He’s not fully domesticated yet. Are you JK?” He rubbed the top his Jeongguk’s head, the action looking demeaning, but they both knew that Jimin desperately needed an excuse to touch him. Just a moment of comfort.

Jihyun nodded. “Ah, yes. I’ve heard… stories.” He sounded winded and confused. He trembled at every shadow, and just looked as though he needed a hug. Jimin sighed and went over to him, pulling him close. Jihyun inhaled sharply and started t cry. “I’m sorry, hyung…”

Jimin hummed and rubbed his back. “What am I going to do with you, little brother.” Jimin felt, rather than saw Jeongguk finally understand that, yes, this Jihyun was his Jihyun. Jimin was glad he wouldn’t have to explain.

“Hey, guys. I know you’re being all cute, but I really need to rest. Go sit in the library if you need to have some kumbaya or cathartic release.” Jin drawled out wearily.

Jimin nodded. “On it, hyung.” He smiled gently at Jihyun. “Come on. You can rest up for a moment there.”

Jimin pulled both Jihyun and Jeongguk down the sterile hallways, all the while holding down a sudden bout of nausea, thinking that this entire situation was a set up. That their limited freedom was being strangled slowly in a snare. And Jimin was already tired of it. He hadn’t even graduated, and he was jaded. Hadn’t even seen another Parasite or killed one. Yet there he was, defending the Beasts from the real monsters.

 

~~~

It took a long time to settle Jihyun. They made it into the library, and Hoseok practically ran to RM, extraordinarily upset and needing his own form of comfort. As Jimin worked on cuddling his practically leaking brother, JK surveyed over the area, making sure that they were alone, and safe.

When he came back to himself, Jihyun looked at him. “We aren’t recorded here, are we?”

“No. One blocks the signal. Hence, he’s confined to the library. A bit difficult to keep track of a walking blind-spot.”

Jihyun exhaled slowly. “…Hyung, what the hell was that? Is that really what they treat Beasts like? And Tamers? Have they done that to you?”

Jimin quickly shook his head. “No, not to me. I mean, I’ve been beaten up by other Tamers, but I’ve never had to be disciplined by the Guards and Officials.”

“So, they could do it, if they decided to.” Jihyun’s eyes hardened at the thought.

Jimin was about to answer in the negative, but he realised that was a foolish idea. He sighed instead. “Yeah. If I mess up, my head is on the chopping block too.”

Jihyun huffed and looked at Jeongguk. “Are you like Five? Can you get pregnant too?”

Despite the circumstances, Jeongguk’s horrified face made Jimin laugh hard, and he fell onto his brother. “No, no, Jihyun. He doesn’t.”

“Well, how do you know?”

“Because I’ve discussed Beast physiology with Jin, and he said not. We’ve also had classes about fundamental differences between humans and Beasts, and that was one of the major ones. V is the only male Beast that can fall pregnant.”

Jihyun, far too sharp, looked up at him. “…Given that the Parasite Mutation seems to make humans more like Beasts… Does that mean that there could be male Tamers with female reproductive systems?”

Jimin just laughed, not at all wanting to answer. “That’s an interesting theory, Jihyun.”

And once again, Jihyun made a leap. “You… Jin said that you had mutated much more like a Beast than most. Did you gain one.”

“Jihyun, that’s ridiculous-”

“If I took an ultrasound of you right now, would I find a womb?”

Jimin paused, seeing the determined glint in Jihyun’s eyes, and he sighed. Jeongguk watched it all with wide eyes, wondering if he needed to do anything. “…Yes, Jihyun. You would find one. And no-one aside from a few, trusted people can know. I’m only telling you because I need to trust you, as Jin’s assistant.”

Jihyun inhaled sharply, before looking at Jeongguk, then back to Jimin. “My thinking exactly. Which is why I have to ask this, hyung… Would you ever engage in sexual relations with your Beast?”

Jimin’s eyes widened. “What type of question is that, huh?”

“The practical kind. I need to research into possible birth control for you, if need be. I won’t watch someone being dragged away like that again. Not if I can help it.”

Jimin blinked, touched by his brother’s sentiment, and he leaned forward to hug him tight. Jihyun paused, before hugging back. “What? It’s true.”

“I know, Hyunnie. But I appreciate it.” He leaned back and grimaced at Jeongguk. “What do you think, babe… Should we confess that we’re both insatiable?”

Jeongguk raised an eyebrow in amusement and sat besides Jimin. Without preamble, he brought Jimin into his lap, causing his Tamer to giggle at the manhandling, and Jeongguk curled his bigger body against Jimin’s, his face pressed into his neck. Jihyun watched with wide eyes, before smirking slightly. “He really likes you.”

Jimin smiled, and ran his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair, causing the Beast to sigh from the happiness.

“Yeah… He does… I haven’t actually tamed him. Not at all. He just does what I need him to do. Well, we do what we need to do.”

Jihyun nodded. “I figured. I’m guessing that’s not how you’re meant to work as a Tamer and Beast, right?.”

“Not at all.”

“…Good thing you have at least one more person in your court?” Jihyun blushed a little and ducked his head.

Jimin cooed, reached forward, and ruffled Jihyun’s hair. “You’re okay, Jihyun. I trust you. Five never tried to maul you, so you must be okay. What do you think, JK?”

Jeongguk lifted up his head from Jimin and stared into Jihyun’s soul. The assistant squirmed in his seat, unused to Beasts, yet alone the feeling of being sized up by one. Jeongguk the smiled just a little a nodded in approval. Jihyun nearly melted into his chair from relief, much to Jimin’s delight. “You’re fine, Jihyun.”

“But, hyung… This will be hard to keep up appearances. What will you do if they figure it all out?”

Jimin laughed without mirth. “That’s the rub, isn’t it?”

“You have no backup plan?”

“Given our circumstances, there is no chance of a backup plan. We’re only just surviving as it is.”

Before Jihyun could answer, Jeongguk suddenly pushed Jimin back into his seat, before he sat beside his master, on his knees, rather than the chair. He put a finger up to his lips. Not only was someone coming, but someone was listening.

“Anyway, Jihyun, what matters is that Yoongi is punished for being so deplorable.”

Jihyun frowned at the whiplash in their conversation and in Jeongguk’s demeanour, but said nothing, waiting for it to become obvious to him.

“Those are harsh words, Park Jimin. I thought you were close to Min Yoongi.” The Director herself arrived, followed by her usual entourage of guards and assistants. Jimin just smiled at her sharp gaze, trying to look friendly towards her, whilst maintaining professional distance.

“I am… Or was. This news was a lot for me. I didn’t think he was like that.”

“It’s what happens when training fails, I suppose. Unfortunately for him and his Beast, they were both put into the service too early, and now they won’t listen to good instruction. This mess merely proves that they both have become obsolete. Which is why I’m here with you, again, despite having seen you just yesterday.”

Jimin beamed at her. “And it’s an honour, ma’am.”

She smiled at that, pleased by his obedience. “You’re such a nice boy, Jimin. I see a lot of my son in you. The same dedication to please. But where he is still lacking, you’ve become a fascinating creature. Something I hope he can become.”

Jimin felt shivers down his spine. How was he meant to react to that?

“You’re training time is over. I need you to move into your final exams this afternoon, and then properly Bond with Eleven. Given that soon Five will be out of action, and since Suga is proving to be more work than he’s worth, I need a Tamer on the field very soon. One that I can trust.”

Jimin gaped. “Wait, ma’am… This afternoon? Isn’t that too soon?”

“I don’t see why you think that. You’ve already shown excellence. It’s time for you to step up your game.” She stood and smiled at Jihyun. “I heard you had quite the experience today. I’m sure your excited to see what happens next.”

Jimin was glad she’d changed the subject, because his mind was spinning with intense panic. Sure, he knew he could probably pass the exams. But was he actually ready? Passing now meant that he would have to start fighting Parasites with Jeongguk. But he wouldn’t have Yoongi there to guide him through the process. Would they have V? Would they let the Beast go with them to teach him? Would they even consider him a teacher in the first place?

From under the table, Jeongguk reached out and took Jimin’s hand. A small spark connected, and Jimin felt his muscles relax at the stimulation, and he let out a breath that he hadn’t realised that he’d been holding. He flicked his eyes to his Beast, who merely nodded in understanding, before taking his hand away.

The Director turned back to Jimin and smiled, her eyes sharp and appraising. “You have an hour to prepare yourself. Don’t disappoint me, Jimin. I have high expectations.”

He smiled back, perhaps less bright than before. “Of course, ma’am. I’ll be sure to not fail you.”

“Excellent.”

She stood and nodded to her attendants, before looking at Jeongguk. “Jimin… make sure that your Beast doesn’t get foolish ideas.”

Jimin frowned. “Like what, ma’am.”

“Like thinking that he’s equal to you. That was the problem with Suga and Five. Now look where they both are. Hopefully the Beast will still be able to give birth. If only for a new test subject to come out of it.” She sighed and walked away.

Jimin felt a wave of unadulterated hatred pour out of Jeongguk, and he looked down to see him flexing his jaw, attempting to keep himself together. Jimin slowly reached out his hand to run his fingers through the Beast’s hair. Jeongguk leaned into his hand and squeezed his eyes shut tight, but still trembled with anger.

Jimin sighed. “Time for me to get ready. I have to do all this alone, sadly. JK?” Jeongguk looked up, his eyes open and sparkling with lightening. Jimin smiled down at him, gentle, “Can you take Jihyun to One and Hoseok? They’ll be able to take care of him. I’m going to the gymnasium to warm up. Will you meet me there?”

Jeongguk nodded slowly, the tension slowly fading from his body, with the distraction of a task. Jihyun looked a little nervous, seeing a second angered Beast in the span of one day, but he also trusted Jimin. Jeongguk stood and nodded to Jihyun, indicating he should follow. His brother swallowed and stood as well. “Good luck, hyung.”

Jimin just smiled and waved him off. It was time to prepare.

 

~~~

He didn’t know what he expected of a written test for Beast, Tamer and Parasite interactions. He’d hoped it would be easy. And it was. Boringly so. He’d learned half of the pre-requisite knowledge in the first week. He answered the short answer questions as lengthily as he could, making sure to put a heavy slant onto the ‘Tamer superiority’ idea, along with the ‘Beasts are bad, but better than Parasites’ mindset. He handed in the paper; a whole half an hour left to go in the three-hour test. He’d been told most Tamers didn’t finish. Which was ridiculous. Jimin had never been particularly smart, but this test was easy. If becoming a Tamer made you more stupid, then, sure, difficult test. But wasn’t the Change meant to improve your body and your mind? He heavily doubted it.

The teacher looked unimpressed, as though his early submission meant he hadn’t tried. But he also had to mark on the spot, so Jimin sat back down and waited. He didn’t want to warm down too much after getting ready with Jeongguk. They’d both gone a bit harder than they normally did, going from stretching, to weights, and even to fighting. Jeongguk always won, of course, but he’d been lasting much longer in the ring against him. Today he’d even punched his stomach, which seemed to wind him for a nanosecond. After Jeongguk then smashed him to the ground, he smiled at him, proud of Jimin’s progress. Jimin had smiled back, and it took everything in him to not giggle up at his beautiful Beast.

Images had flashed in his head from their dream. The position they had been in was so similar to how Jeongguk and he had moved against each other, and Jimin bit his lip to keep himself from leaning up and kissing his heavenly lips. Instead he turned away, letting Jeongguk know that they should separate. When they did, Jimin exhaled, so very annoyed at himself for having to deny the gorgeous man. But Jeongguk just smiled when Jimin looked at him guiltily. They both knew It was hard, especially after the taste they’d had in the dream. But it wasn’t the time or place.

Jimin had barely stood up and smoothed out his clothes when the officials barged in, so he thanked his lucky stars that nothing had happened.

A clearing throat brought Jimin back to the present, and the man in front of him screwed up his face before placing his finished test in front of him. Jimin looked at the mark, and smirked. 87%. Not bad at all for being unprepared. He looked up at the official, and eyebrow raised. The man huffed. “I expected better of the Director’s favourite.”

Jimin scoffed. “If that’s your attitude, maybe I should ask for some moderation, see if I did better than you thought.”

The man flushed and growled. “You better not be mocking me, boy.”

Jimin shrugged. “Of course, I’m not. But I just want a fair test and mark. Given the disadvantage I’m at, I felt that was an appropriate thing to ask for.”

As the three hours were then up, another two officials came in, ready to take Jimin to the next part of the exam, and Jimin smiled at them. “Hello there! I was just wanting to ask if the marks are moderated? Since you have so few papers to go through, and some of this is subjective, correct?”

The man who entered seemed lost, but the woman beside him nodded. “We do often, but not always. The Director decided that she wanted yours to be reviewed by two other people, to make sure we have a full view of your capabilities.

The man who’d initially marked his work fumed. Jimin tried not to rub it in more. He was right. The guy obviously had been a harsh marker on purpose. Jimin stood. “Well, I suppose I should go off to the fight then, since I have, at the very least, passed this stage.”

The newer official nodded. “I’m to take you there now. For the next round you will fight four or five Tamers in a row. Depending on how well you do will depend on your score. You’re not expected to defeat all, but the more wins you obtain, the better it will be.”

Jimin frowned. “How many have beaten all five?”

She hummed. “…I believe Tamer Suga is the only other one.”

A stab of sorrow pierced his heart. Yoongi. A strong man. But powerless in this system. Even at this moment, Jimin knew there were guards all around the officials, ready to take Jimin down if he snapped. The same system that had ruined Suga could just as easily do the same to him. He sighed and followed them out. He was surprised, however, when there was a Beast outside, curled into a ball, waiting beside the door. And not just any Beast.

V looked up at him, his eyes seeming lost and unsure, but he was responsive to Jimin’s movements. It was eerie, and not something he was used to from him. The official from the exam made a face. “What is this dog doing here?”

The two newer officials sighed. “Apparently he woke up and came right here. Since he’s heavily sedated, no one could reason with him. The Director was also furious at the treatment of the Beast this morning, and wanted him to be taken care of, within reason. Since he wasn’t aggressive, he was allowed to come here. Dr Kim checked him beforehand, and said it was a good idea for Five to stay with Jimin, as he’s strong Tamer.”

The other official just sighed. Jimin bit his lip, wondering how much he could do to comfort the Beast. He leaned down and offered his hand. V looked at it suspiciously, as if he didn’t know what to do. Jimin shivered slightly, trying to keep it together. “Come on, Five. I need to go. Don’t keep me waiting.”

V stared for only a second more, before standing up. Jimin knew he was tall, but after how tightly he’d wrapped himself into a ball, the change in posture was startling. He smiled at Jimin, a little dopey, before he slurred out, “Jiminie”. He fell slightly forward, leaning heavily into Jimin’s side.

The officials gasped, but Jimin just hushed them, knowing how badly V needed this. “He’s too drugged up to realise that he’s being disobedient. And like you said, he’s not being aggressive. He’s fine for today.”

The exam official, Jimin really should have tried to remember his name, snarled. “This is completely inappropriate. You should know that Beasts are not allowed to behave like this. Besides, you’re acting far too familiar with him!”

V flinched, and hid behind Jimin, trembling slightly. Jimin growled at the man in front of him. “If you believe that this Beast, who has had his Tamer ripped away from him, as well as being injected multiple times with too many serums, is a threat to us right now, you’re mistaken. He’s a dog. But even dogs don’t deserve to be beaten past due punishment. As I’ve said, you don’t just punish if you want results. If we want Five to ever be usable again, he’s going to need some good treatment, and maybe even some therapy. Don’t argue with me on this. I’m just looking past my own biases to make sure that this whole operation doesn’t fail. So, no, I’m not going to punish a semi-conscious Beast, just because it said my name, for fuck’s sake.”

The officials all stared, realising the Jimin was not only serious, but very close to losing it at them. Two of the officials looked away, realising the kernel of truth to Jimin’s words. But the exam official scoffed, “If you think that you’re training them properly by being nice to them, then I wouldn’t be surprised if you become just like Suga. Fucking one of those things and being tortured for your transgressions.”

Jimin knew that he was baiting both himself and V. Jimin felt V raise his head, about to physically respond when Jimin smirked. “Oh please. That’s still better than when you have after-hour lessons with your students. Even the underage ones.” He gave him a knowing look. It turned out that being close friends with One had outstanding perks.

The man’s face went white, and the two officials looked at him.

Jimin shrugged. “Normal training ground, right?” And he started to walk, a little awkward with the Beast still clinging to him. V nuzzled into his neck a bit, and sighed. “Hate him…”

Jimin chuckled and ruffled his head. “Me too, V. But no attacking him. Understood?”

V sighed. “Understood.”

As they made it to the training area, Jimin noticed a lot of Tamers had gathered, obviously already hearing about the mess that had happened before. Some of them looked perturbed by the Beast hanging on Jimin’s back, but none more than Hoseok, who was sitting near the front of the ring. Jimin then saw the effort his hyung was taking to not laugh at the familiar gesture, even if it was wildly inappropriate.

Jimin cleared his throat. “Five. I need to keep going. Spend time with Tamer Hoseok.”

V began to whine, and Jimin immediately separated himself. Jimin’s heart seized as V’s eyes welled up with tears. But Jimin had to act tough, even though he wanted to cuddle the poor boy tight and tell him that he would be okay. “Stop that, Five. Hoseok will take you. I’ll be finished soon. But you have to wait.” Sniffling and wiping tears from his eyes, V nodded. He walked uneasily through the crowd of Tamers, who sneered at him, before sitting by Hoseok, and cuddling into him, much like he did with Jimin.

Stretching slightly, Jimin started to make his way to the ring, when he felt a familiar presence by his side. He looked to his right, and saw blue, doe eyes stare back. Jeongguk smiled for a second before becoming serious. Jimin held out his hand imperiously, and Jeongguk took it briefly. But just that little spark reinvigorated Jimin immensely. He smiled at the Beast, and he smiled back.

“Go sit with Hoseok. He will need support with Five.”

Jeongguk bowed, looking every bit the obedient Beast.

Jimin strode forward, feeling bolts of energy pour through him.

A new official was in the ring. He seemed nervous, and with a jolt, he realised it was because Yoongi usually adjudicated the fights, being one of the only people who could follow Tamer fights. But Jimin felt no sympathy. They all deserved this.

Jimin watched as they called out the five Tamers he would have to fight and felt annoyed as he dispassionately sized them up. The Director had chosen hard fights, he just knew it. They all smirked at him, like they thought they would win.

But they were wrong.

Each round began, and Jimin held back, knowing that fighting them, like he did with JK, would injure them intensely. But even though he was using half his strength at least, every fight was short, and no real damage was done to Jimin when a solitary blow was landed. Whether he tossed the Tamers out of the ring, or beat them until they bled, Jimin was unstoppable. A killing machine.

Jimin was breathing a bit heavily at the end of the last fight, but the Tamers saw then and there, that Jimin was a force to be reckoned with. The officials that had been watching gaped at him. Jimin ran his hand through his hair once, before clicking his neck back into place.

He felt the same energy going through him as he had when he’d killed his parents with Jeongguk. Power. Strength. Release.

And a bit of lust for the Beast who was watching proudly on the side-lines.

Jimin smirked, and looked back to the Director, who had come in near the end. She looked dazzled with Jimin, like he was a new toy that she couldn’t wait to break in. But Jimin wouldn’t be broken. He had too many relying on him staying strong. One look at V and Hoseok reminded him of that. So, he just smiled back at her.

“What’s next?”

Chapter Text

There was only one more test before Jimin would be registered, and he felt ready. Or at least hoped he was. It was the hardest by far, having no real idea of how difficult it might be, as there was only one instruction.

Defeat a Parasite.

Whatever that meant in a test environment.

Jimin walked out of the ring, and the other Tamers parted before him, definitely scared of him, but his heart felt cold. If anything, he was delighted that they were finally understanding that he was so much more than they were. It had taken a long time for him to realise that. Something about his last dream with Jeongguk had set Jimin free. He didn’t have to be the scared child, desperate for approval. All he needed was his hyungs, and the Beasts that knew who he really was.

The Director stepped forward. “Well done, Park Jimin. But you have one more test, and I doubt you will do as well for this time. It’s not anything against your prowess, but it’s meant to be difficult for a reason.”

Jimin nodded. “I’ve heard nothing in particular about it, only what it is.”

She smiled. “Exactly. Which is why we are going to take you to a private part of the Academy. We don’t want other Tamers finding out and trying to prepare.”

One of the officials cleared her throat. Jimin looked at her, and finally remembered a name. Hyunjin. The witch who separated Yoongi and V. “It’s time, ma’am.”

The Director’s eyes flashed. “I’m well aware, Hyunjin. And you’d do well not to interrupt me again.” The set of the official’s mouth was nervous, and she’d stepped back in the face of the icy tone. Even Jimin felt a chill down his back in the face of the Director’s quiet fury. The official nodded and bolted away, towards the next test.

The Director sighed and looked at Jimin. “Walk with me. Alone.”

Jimin nodded and went with her. V on the side-lines whined when Jimin didn’t come to pick him up but seemed satisfied with Jeongguk and Hobi-hyung around. Still, Jimin felt a twinge of guilt. The Director saw the interaction, and Jimin felt her smirk at the sight. As they left the room into the corridor, the Director then turned another way, one which Jimin was unfamiliar with and pressed her thumb into the panel of the wall. It opened up and Jimin gasped. The Director chuckled.

“I did say private. You won’t even be recorded here.”

Jimin felt his nerves rise at that. On the one hand, he was at a physical advantage. If he wanted to get himself and Jeongguk out, the best bet was to get rid of the Director, as the head of the snake. But Jimin also knew that it wouldn’t be that simple. That even if he got rid of her, there was no guarantee that the Beasts would be able to escape, yet alone Jimin and the others. And for all he knew, the Director had fallback plans for Tamers that got too arrogant. It was equally possible that going with her would seal his own fate, much like Yoongi’s.

She raised her eyebrow at him, before chuckling. “You’re wondering what you have done wrong. Good. It means you’re making the effort to be obedient. I merely wish to talk to you, young man.”

Jimin’s smile was thin, and he nervously stepped forward into a much darker, and more industrial looking corridor. As he looked to the side, he noticed, with a gasp, that every room and hallway was like a one-way window. Their living quarters were completely exposed, their lives on display. There were a few officials and assistants around, documenting observations and making comments under their breath. The Director cleared her throat and they spun around. “I’d like some alone time, gentlemen.” They bowed in respect, before leaving promptly.

With wide eyes, Jimin looked at her. “What is all of this?”

She smirked and sighed. “Not all Tamers are made equal. Some of them are at most failed experiments, creatures that will never amount to any kind of greatness. I’d initially believed that Tamers should be pushed towards Beasts, in order to stop this infestation in our great city-dome. However, after watching you and Jung Hoseok work with Beasts, and not just your own, it’s changed my thinking. Maybe I should be trying to find proper pairs that the Beasts want and change what the other Tamers do. I’d like more adequate Tamers in the field. Besides, you’re a pure strain of Tamer. Not a Beast.” She looked at him from the side. “At least, not yet.”

Jimin shuddered. “Which means what, ma’am?”

She laughed. “Oh, come now, Jimin. If you were in my position, what would you do. Having had failed experiments for years, finally having a singular good specimen, only for him to fail, and then two new and improved ones come along? What would you do?”

Jimin bit his lip and looked into a window. With a start, he realised it was his room, and he watched as Hoseok walked in with both of the Beasts following him. Hobi groaned at the clingy V and pushed him onto his bed as he quickly stripped his shirt off and changed quickly. He smiled at him. “Wanna see RM? I know I do!”

V pouted. “That’s all you want.”

Hoseok grinned. “Of course! Who knows…? Maybe he can get some… information to someone.”

V blinked, then smiled bright. “You think so?”

“Why not try?”

V smiled even brighter, a flush of warmth obviously pooling out from him, and Hoseok fanned his face. “Hey! Keep it under control, now. It’s not that exciting.” He huffed, but ruffled V’s hair, causing the Beast to lean into his hand like a kitten. Jeongguk rolled his eyes at the whole exchange, and Hoseok pouted. “What?” Jeongguk smirked and made a motion, showing he was going to leave, but V whined and rushed forward to hold onto Jeongguk.

“Don’t go… You smell like Minnie. And I wanna see him.”

Jeongguk sighed, beleaguered, before picking up the Beast in a bridal hold, one which seemed effortless to the muscled Beast. V seemed pleased by the efforts, in his mischievous way.

Hoseok rolled his eyes. “Well I’m going to RM. Screw you both.”

V chuckled and pointed forward imperiously, and Jeongguk did as instructed… With another roll of his eyes.

Jimin watched it all, feeling like a trespasser in that moment. The Director looked at him. “So, Jimin. I hope you realised something. Every single time that you and your little friends do something, I will know about it. The moments where your training with Eleven has gotten intimate, they have been noted. The times where you and Hoseok have written private conversations about how you’ll break our rules, they have been documented. Times where Hoseok has gone to have sexual relations with One, they have been marked against him. We even knew that Yoongi and V had been together and was pregnant. The clearance for the Beast level observations is much higher than the medical level, currently. That Hyunjin was a newly promoted official, and still didn’t know the protocol for dealing with Beast issues and was working with incorrect information. Nevertheless, I’m furious that she greatly injured our latest experiment.”

Jimin was completely still, causing her to laugh. “Cat got your tongue?”

“Why are you showing me this?”

She smiled like a shark with prey in its sight. She beckoned him to move, and he started to follow, dutifully down the corridors and stairs. “Simple. So you understand that you were never ahead of me. And to remind you of your place. The moment you were admitted, your life was transferred to my me. You are my property, Jimin. And like you, I believe that my pets need both punishment and reward. You’ve worked so well thus far, with such small problems to the overall vision. But make no mistake. Do not ever see my explicit kindness as blindness. I know what you wish to do. But I assure you that you can’t.”

Jimin looked down, anger bubbling in his veins, but having nothing to say.

She nodded. “But you should know that I’m delighted in your results so far. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, as the saying goes. Do what I ask, and don’t kick up a fuss, then I’ll allow you to have some… rewards.”

“Such as?”

“…If you show me your true worth in this next test, I’ll make sure Yoongi is freed from the isolation chamber.”

Jimin looked at her, eyes furrowed. “And what if my true worth isn’t enough to you?”

“Then I’ll have him stay there for the full week I’d been planning for him. I don’t honestly know if he’d survive. That would be unfortunate.”

“V would die if that happened.”

She laughed. “No, he wouldn’t. I’ve ensured that. Besides, One told me that Beasts won’t die if they’re carrying, since their body senses their dead Mate in their body, alive in a new form.” She smirked. “So do try to do well, Jimin. Yoongi might die if you don’t.” She reached a door and opened it. She gestured. “After you, Park Jimin. The door to your right is where your test shall begin. I’ll be watching carefully.

“One last question.”

She raised her eyebrow and closed the door, for privacy. “Of course. I love hearing your questions.”

“Why didn’t you stop Yoongi and V. I thought you’d never allow that to happen.”

She laughed. “Of course, I wanted that. What better subject for experimentation than a hybrid?”

“Then why did you let Jin… Do what he did.”

Her eyes became stormy and she exhaled slowly. “I have my own reasons for that. Besides… We didn’t have their replacement then. Now Five can focus on being the brood-mother he was meant to be, and you can begin the next generation.”

Jimin hated how that sounded, but it was clear that was all she would reveal. He nodded, and walked forward, trying to keep calm in the face of that crushing blow. As he was about to leave when she said, “Oh, and Jimin…”

He turned, frowning, but nodded at her. She smiled, poisonous. “If you go against my orders, just know that it won’t just be you that suffers. I know you love that Beast, and I know you care about Hoseok. And let’s not mention a certain doctor’s assistant. He’s a wonderful boy. Eager to learn and please. Easy to fool and use.”

Jimin nodded, dumb, the feeling in his veins no longer fire, but ice, biting into his veins. “Yes, ma’am.”

She smirked. “Good boy.” And she closed the door.

Jimin nearly collapsed on the floor right then but managed to hold himself up. There was only one more thing to do before he could give up, if only for a moment. The test. He had to do well. For Yoongi.

He righted himself and went towards the door, determined to do right by the hyung who’d been so good to him ever since they had arrived. One who had taught him about Beasts and Bonds, and had empathised with his struggles. And such a sweet person, he had no idea why anyone would think of him as a possible threat. Then again, some might say the same of him, and that wasn’t true. Not at all.

He walked into a corridor and blinked, noticing the lights blaring around him, from below, above and besides him. It was almost too much and he squinted.

“Tamer Jimin, welcome to the Parasite Test. It’s a simple one, and one that will give you a valuable experience with the Parasites themselves. First, you will arm yourself with a weapon of choice.”

Jimin frowned, and beside him, and panel shifted, until it revealed a plethora of weapons besides him. He hesitated for a moment, weighing his options, before choosing the longer daggers, feeling the most secure with them, especially after the Dream fight.

“Whenever you’re ready, step through the door at the end of the hall. Good luck. Your only objective is to fight.”

Jimin frowned. “What do you mean fight?”

No answer.

Jimin shivered. “Right… Exactly that, then. Fight and win”

He walked forward, a bit unsteady, before he paused at the door. He closed his eyes and centred himself, letting all that had happened before slowly fade away. He pretended as though the rest of the day hadn’t happened. He let it bleed away. Instead, he focused on his Beast. The man in and of his dreams. How strong and kind he was. How close they’d become over the weeks, and how ready Jimin was to accept him. All of him. If he could fight with him, then he could fight this thing. And he new that Jeongguk had taught him well. He knew it deep inside. He opened his eyes, rolled his shoulders, and entered.

At first there was nothing. The room was dimly lit, and large. Much larger than the ring, which perhaps was to be expected. There were no windows, and only concrete walls, floor and ceilings. He gripped his daggers a little tighter, waiting.

Without warning, he felt like his head was swimming, and the concrete felt like it was warping around him. He groaned, and tried to stay upright, as something started to drip from the walls. Like a molasses sludge. Jimin felt the terror race through his bones, and he stepped back quickly, watching as the creature assembled itself. It seemed like it was the size and shape of a human, odd considering the massiveness of the previous one he’d seen, until the ‘head’ formed, like branches and vines of pulsing limbs sprouting from it. And as it formed, the smell it unleashed made Jimin want to hurl. Decay and death. All over again.

How the hell was he meant to fight this thing?

As it finished forming, Jimin noted the specs of black dancing away from in, spreading onto anything it could touch. It even spread onto him, but he watched, mildly fascinated to see, that each spec dissolved on his skin, leaving nothing behind, unlike the black marks clinging onto the concrete.

Eventually the creature noticed him, which had taken longer than Jimin had thought. When it did, it screamed, the pulsating limbs oozing and thrashing, the sound like metal being ripped apart. Jimin fell into an attack stance, and yelled back at it, pretending he wasn’t terrified.

Then Jimin watched in slow motion, as the thing began to run towards him, the branches reaching for him, elongating and thinning. Jimin nearly paused in confusion from how his world had slowed down, but he managed to dodge in time. Jimin shook his head once, thinking it strange that his mind was playing with him when he needed it most. But as long as his body moved in time, he pushed on. The creature seemed confused, limbs searching in the direction that Jimin had been, before the branches moved back towards him, like they were eyes that saw Jimin. Again, a furious and ear-splitting screech came from the creature, and it charged again. And once again, Jimin saw it coming, like it was moving much slower than it had to have been. He slipped away from him and managed to land behind the thing. Knowing how slow it was, Jimin took his dagger and cut one of the branches, managing to saw straight through the soft and gluey substance.

The thing screamed, and the separated branch writhed on the ground like a slug, before it tried to move back to the whole. Jimin had stepped too far away and was unable to attempt to stop it from re-attaching itself. He huffed in frustration as the creature tried to charge him, this time, flailing its limbs around. Yet, even this Jimin could avoid. He rolled away and tried to recount any information which may be helpful. The Parasite continued to charge at him, and Jimin wasn’t very impressed by the lack of diverse attacks. Then again, physical combat may not be a necessity to their kind, given they usually paralysed their prey.

The lectures on the creatures had borne no fruit in his memory, so he searched his mind for other options. RM knew a great deal but hadn’t been able to give good practical advice. Unlike Yoongi. Yoongi had provided information on the exactitudes of how to kill Parasites. He’d always done so with his Beast, which was not helpful to this situation, but he’d mentioned that Parasites always had a core to them, but it was never in the same place. That it was all about finding that core of them and breaking it. The damage caused the ‘nervous system’ in it to fall apart, and they then took those broken cores as proof that the Parasite was gone. So Jimin theoretically knew how to kill it. But how? That was the elusive part of the equation.

The Parasite screamed, obviously frustrated by Jimin’s endless dodging, and it began to… bubble. It looked like a froth was forming around its body, slowly growing and multiplying. Jimin rushed forward to try to cut the expanding mass, but his dagger passed through it like water, his hand going straight through with it. Jimin screamed, as the body of the creature burned through his hand, like a shock of acid to the skin. Jimin managed to get back before the mass grew more, and he chanced a look down at his hand.

It was covered in open sores, red and bleeding, with little spots of black still dissolving on his skin, showing how dense the spores must have been. He winced and looked up, seeing that the mass was solidifying into another Parasite. Smaller than the original, but a carbon copy. As Jimin looked, he noticed that, while the original Parasite was still big, it had decreased in size to make the copy. Now twin screams rang through the room, causing Jimin’s ears to ring in agony, and the creatures doubled their efforts in attacking Jimin.

Even though the world slowed down for him, there were so many of these grotesque limbs swarming around him, and he inevitably was struck. The creature tried to wrap its limb around him, but he cut it away in time. It had still broken something in his arm, or at least severely damaged it. He didn’t cry out in pain, adrenaline now running too high, but he couldn’t take another hit like that. He growled and scanned the creatures, who seemed stunned that they had hit their prey, but still not captured it.

Jimin’s eyes widen as he noted one mass deep inside the original Parasite. He couldn’t quite make out the shape he was seeing, but unlike the pulsating and writing flesh around it, this core was very stable, stuck in one place, like a rock in a tide. Jimin centred in on the piece, keeping the writhing masses around him in mind, as he ran forward.

The Parasite must have noticed his intention and attacked with all their limbs at once. Jimin knew he’d made a mistake, but he could still win. He wasn’t going to lose. Not now.

The first limb struck at his side, and he felt the bruise immediately. But he kept his hands mobile to slice at the limbs the encircled him, ignoring the stinging and burning pain from his definitely broken arm. The next limb punched through his stomach, nearly knocking him back, which would have spelled his doom, but he pushed through the winding he’d received. The other limbs clipped at his legs and arms, and Jimin pierced through anything that looked like it was trying to restrain Jimin, and he ran further into the Parasite’s space. At the last minute, he saw that it was about to stop his progression, so he dove into the fray of their limbs, pushing himself with all the strength in his legs. As he soared through the air, he felt the branches wrap around him, and he screamed, both from fear, but also as a final push. He was so close. The core was right there! Just an arm away.

He felt almost a small surge of static shiver from his body, like it felt when Jeongguk used his Ability on him, and while the limbs didn’t pull back, they paused as the Parasites screamed. But that pause was all he needed to sink both daggers directly into the core.

If he thought that the screams he’d been hearing were piercing, then the screech of agony that followed shredded into his very being, and he screamed in tandem, letting his daggers go in an effort to cover his ears. He wasn’t surprised to feel blood coming from them, nor the moisture from his nose and mouth. It felt like his brain was bursting inside his skull with the percussive force of the scream. An eternity of pain condensed into that moment.

Slowly, far too slowly for Jimin’s health, the scream stopped, and the structural integrity of the Parasites dissolved, finally laying Jimin’s broken body onto the ground. He whimpered at the feel of the cold concrete, but managed to open his eyes, sticky with blood that he’d yet to cry out.

He was met with the solitary object in the room, the spores having completely dissolved. And what he saw was something that made his stomach dip.

It was the head of a little girl. The eyes were hollow, and it seemed like nothing was left inside of it. The look on the face was as terrified as it was terrifying. Jimin stared at the daggers sticking up out of the back of the skull, knowing he’d put them there, unknowingly stabbing a little girl. Was this really what happened if the Parasite settled inside someone? Could Jimin have become this, instead of a Tamer? The thought alone made him feel unbearably nauseous, but before he could do anything about it, the pain in his body made an appearance as the adrenaline faded. Jimin couldn’t even scream, before his equally battered mind faded.

His last thought was that Yoongi wouldn’t be freed, and V wouldn’t see his Mate. Not with this effort.

He’d failed them both.

 

~~~

As Jimin woke, he felt the presence of a few people. He shivered and blinked up slowly. He noticed that his body must have been healed up perfectly. His eyes focused on two doctors, one Tamer and two equally anxious Beasts. He noticed the form of some Official in the back, but the presence of the ones he’d come to love and trust so much made his heart soar. He smiled gently. “Am I still alive?”

Hoseok, who’d been too busy petting Jeongguk’s back to comfort him, jolted at Jimin’s voice, and he gasped. “Jiminie? You’re awake?” Then his lip trembled, and he threw himself at his dongsaeng, crying. “You, stupid kid! Why did you fight so hard? You didn’t have to win, you just had to fight them!” He cried harder, and Jimin just stared at the Beasts above him, confused.

“No, I had to win… Right?”

Jin looked at him with a smirk. “You had to fight. Winning wasn’t expected. No one has won without a Beast.”

Jimin continued to stare at the Beasts, V in particular, who nodded at him, confirming Jin’s words.

“But… I won.”

V smirked and nodded more.

Jeongguk smiled, infinitely proud.

Jin snorted. “You really are a freak, kid. I was watching that fight, ready to take away your broken body, but you just… You moved so fast. Like lightning around the room. Every time I was sure it would get you, you just… nearly teleported away.”

Jimin looked at Jeongguk, confused. He nodded at him slowly, affirming Jimin’s unspoken query. At least, he hoped it meant what he thought. “It was… fast. But it felt like the world slowed down when it got too close.”

Jihyun hummed. “Like extremely heightened senses. That’s fascinating. Do you think it’s an adrenal response, or something else?”

Jin shook his head. “Something else. Tamer… Suga, has heightened responses, but nothing like that.” Jimin winced as Jin tripped over Yoongi’s name, and he noticed how V tensed up at the mention.

He looked at V and smiled. “You okay, Five?”

V blinked and shivered before going to lie on the bed beside Jimin, startling him and Hoseok, who was still lying on his chest crying. “…Tamer Jimin… Five is cold…” And he did feel cold. Like his fire was waning. Jimin huffed and brought him into an awkward side-hug, which V purred at and cuddled in. The pout he caught on Jeongguk’s face was adorable, so Jimin smiled sweetly at him.

“Well now, Eleven. How does it feel to know I’ll be your Bond soon? I passed the tests. You’re stuck with me.”

Jeongguk stared…

Only for a crimson blush to appear on his cheeks, his eyes open wide, staring at him in shock. He looked away, scratching the back of his neck, embarrassed at Jimin’s words and his own reaction to them, and Jimin laughed at him. Jeongguk pouted and pointed at both Hoseok and V at his side, and he looked like he dearly wanted to replace them. Jimin chuckled. “Soon. Good Beasts wait.”

If he could have whined, Jimin is sure his JK would have.

Jin sighed. “You two… You’re acting like you’re in private.”

Jimin smiled, but felt a bit of bile rise up his throat. Yes… In private. Something they had none of. How many conversations had they heard? What about One’s library? Was that as safe as he said it was? Did they know about all of their most intimate moments from that? What was the point in keeping everything in, when they were constantly monitored?

Jin hummed. “Looks like your vitals are fine. You should get up. Now that you’re good to go. The Director will want to see you. Well, you and your Beast.”

Jimin blinked and slowly eased himself up, against the protest of a certain Beast and Tamer. “Yeah… I shouldn’t make her wait.”

Jin nodded. “Do you want some company?”

Jimin was about to refuse the question, but as he looked at the others, he just resigned himself to having an entourage. He was fine with that, he supposed. “Sure.”

V grinned and flung himself of Jimin’s back, nuzzling in. “Me too.”

Jimin smirked. “Yes, Five, you too.”

Hoseok whined. “Why him, and not me?”

“Actually, you can come. You just didn’t ask.”

Hoseok whined more.

Jeongguk watched it all, but Jimin felt the undeniable pull between them. They’d waited far too long. Jimin needed to be Bonded now. Needed it like air at this point. And he would get just that. He managed to stand up, despite the weight of two people clinging to him. Jihyun smiled. “I should wait here. I don’t think I’m authorised to follow. Right, Jin-hyung?”

Jin nodded. “Besides, if someone else comes, it’s better to have someone on duty.”

Jimin opened his arms as much as he could with the two grown men hanging onto him. “Can I have a good luck hug, then?”

Jihyun blinked, before tears filled his eyes, much like Hoseok’s, and he rushed forward, hugging him hard. “Good luck, hyung. You won’t need it, knowing you.”

Jimin swallowed past the lump in his throat. “Thanks, Hyunnie.”

Jihyun pulled back, wiping his tears, before going back to the doctor’s desk, and watching as Jimin and party left.

Jeongguk tried to get closer, maybe to take a hand, or something, but with the others around, he wasn’t able to. Jimin watched his growing frustration with a giggle, as he simply talked to Hoseok about what they thought was about to happen. Even Jin didn’t know, as he’d been unable to watch as the Director officially made Yoongi and V a Pair. Jimin grew quiet in the middle of the elevator, nerves rising.

He only hoped he’d been able to help Yoongi. After all, the Tamer didn’t deserve that. Especially since the witch at the top of the building had already known. She must know about him and Jeongguk. He only hoped he could make a deal with her. That maybe he could find a way to be with his Kookie.

Upon reaching the top floor, Jin looked at V and Hoseok. “You’ll have to go. If she hasn’t summoned you two, then you’re not allowed to enter.”

Hoseok frowned. “What about you?”

Jin smiled sadly. “We have an understanding. Just trust me. I know that you won’t be welcome.”

V huffed and slumped onto Hoseok’s back, looking disappointed. Jimin smiled. “I’ll see you both when I can.” The words made both of them a bit happier, but they were still frustrated. Jimin, Jeongguk and Jin stepped out of the elevator, and Jimin waved them off, watching as V’s amber eyes drooped down sadly. He tried not to let it affect him and found he couldn’t when Jeongguk plastered himself to Jimin’s side, looking petulant and annoyed at being made to wait. Jimin chuckled. “Impatient, are we?”

Jeongguk huffed in his breathy way, still careful to not made a noise that would set off his collar. Jimin couldn’t wait to fix that. He stroked Jeongguk’s hair. “Me too.”

Jin smiled. “Let’s go, you two. Time for you to stop being so sappy over each other.”

Laughing, they walked forward more. Eventually, his giggled stopped, facing the Director again. He paused in front of her door, catching his breath for yet another time in the day, before he stood up impeccably straight and pushed the door open.

The Director seemed to have been waiting, which would normally make her angry, but this time she was smug, preening over her new Bonded Pair. “I’d been wondering how much longer you’d keep me waiting. Please sit, Jimin, Eleven. Jin, be a dear, and get some of that rare tea made. After Jimin’s performance, I think he deserves some.”

Jin nodded and put a hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “I’ll be right back.” And he left, but Jimin wasn’t alone. The soothing presence of his Beast beside him made his heart settle, and a sense of strength poured through him.

Jimin smiled. “So… Was my performance acceptable?”

She smiled back. “It was… But I’d hoped you would have finished it without injury. Then again, I didn’t expect it to be so incredibly dangerous.”

“You didn’t?”

“Capturing that thing was easy. Suga had said it may be difficult to kill. I didn’t believe him until I saw it with my own eyes.”

Jimin nodded. “Speaking of Suga…”

The Director smiled. “So quick to get to the heart of the matter, Jimin.”

“Only because you brought it up first, ma’am”

She nodded. “You have a valid point. And yes, he will be released from the Isolation Chamber. He’ll be placed in a normal solitary confinement chamber for the rest of the week.”

Jimin growled and stood. “You said he would be freed!”

She smirked. “Sit down, Jimin. I said he wouldn’t be in an Isolation Chamber. He won’t be tortured anymore, and he will actually have time to heal. I think I’m being very generous.”

Jimin huffed and sank back down. “I think the separation is making Five sick. If you want the child to be well, perhaps you should let them see each other.”

She just laughed. “Bonded Pairs can last two weeks before their physical condition becomes critical. We’re watching him. He’s fine. Besides, he won’t die with the foetus he’s carrying. He’s always whiny when he’s taken away from his Tamer. This is his punishment as well. So, Jimin, I’d warn you to cease this conversation. I’m not changing my mind, and you will be happy that I was merciful to them.”

The dangerous look in her eyes made Jimin finally stop, but he looked down, disappointed. She continued, sensing his surrender, “Now, it’s time for your proper Bonding. Since I was not there for Suga and Five’s, I will need to know exactly what it’s meant to entail. Suga said he’d backed out for his Bonding, so I have no information on what happened. You’ll be required to report everything to me, especially if my observation team is unable to see.” She leaned back, “So, Eleven, it’s time for a new modification for your collar.” She pressed a button on the console in front of her, and an official walked out, with a new collar in hand. Jeongguk sat up straighter at that, and Jimin watched as the small, weaselly man placed a new collar on his Beast, before then taking off the other. The Director smiled. “Let’s test it, Jimin. Make sure to give him the punishment.”

Jimin didn’t want to. He wanted to slam this woman’s face into her desk and watch as her brain splattered on the elegant wood panels. Wanted to watch the split moment of terror before he snuffed her out. He hadn’t realised exactly how dark his thoughts had become, until she cleared her throat. She gave him an expectant look, and he smiled bitterly, before saying into his bracelet. “Inject Eleven.”

He still hadn’t gained relief from the pain of watching Jeongguk writhe. It still hurt him every time, and this time he had to hold back his own tears, feeling the pain even more than he had before. But he kept it together, not wanting the Director to treat them badly. She was right, partially. If he scratched her back, then she would his. Just not nearly as well.

When Jeongguk’s round of pain had ended, she lifted her wrist. “Half-strength inject Eleven.”

And Jeongguk was back on the floor. Writhing less, but still in extreme pain. She smiled. “Perfect. It works for us both. Everyone else is deactivated?” The official nodded. “Wonderful. The collar has also had the vocal portion deactivated, as you both need to speak in combat. Also, when you’re Bonded, it will make his voice bearable for human hearing. I suggest you get on that soon.”

As soon as Jeongguk was able to stand she hummed. “I know… That Suga and Five Bonded through sex. Tell me… Will that be the same with you both?”

Jimin paused and looked at a very tired looking Jeongguk. The Beast nodded, and Jimin figured honesty would be the only thing to allow them to actually be Mates. She pursed her lips and sighed. “Fine. This once. But if it happens again, I’ll be much less lenient. Understand?”

Jimin nodded. “Crystal clear, ma’am.”

She sighed. “Report to me tomorrow morning. I’ll need to brief you in on your new position. Congratulations again, Jimin. You’re a full Tamer now. I look forward to seeing what you can do for your city-dome.”

Jimin smiled without any particular warmth and stood. “A pleasure, Director.”

Jeongguk followed suit, and as his Tamer walked out, he followed. He opened the door in time for Jin to arrive with the tea. He blinked. “You’re finished?”

“Dr Kim, please stay. I need to talk with you.” The Director’s stern voice rung out.

Jin winced and looked down. “Yes, ma’am.”

Jimin shot him a sympathetic look. But he wasn’t able to stay. A spark of pure excitement ran through him. His Mating was so close. And he could tell that Jeongguk was moments away from ravishing him. He longed for it. So, they passed by Jin, barely holding themselves together. When they entered the elevator, Jimin let out a sigh of relief. Jeongguk looked at him from the side, and Jimin looked back. He smiled brightly at his Beast, feeling like they had pulled off some bank heist. “What?”

Jeongguk smirked, before leaning into Jimin’s side, practically nuzzling his hair.

“You look beautiful, Jimin.”

Just like that, Jimin cried out, that voice spinning in his ears, making him weak-kneed and needy for more of him. His Mate. His skin felt over-sensitive and he reached out, holding on for dear life to Jeongguk. The Beast just purred, causing more sparks of nearly painful pleasure to burst in Jimin’s stomach. All he could see, think and feel was Jeongguk. Everything he wanted was this strong, muscular and devastatingly handsome creature. It didn’t matter if he didn’t deserve him. What mattered was that they were together.

“Jeo-”

“No, no, Jimin.” He smirked as Jimin flushed more, and moaned, pressing himself close to Jeongguk’s side. “You know what you should call me…”

Jimin gasped, his head fogging over with his desire, and his arousal becoming stronger by the second. He barely made the connection between his words, and Jeongguk’s before he whined. “Kookie… Please…”

He shuddered. “So perfect, dove. I think I’m going to enjoy ravishing you, until you’re too full of me to even think.”

Jimin gasped, unable to handle how his voice struck him dumb. Eventually he mewled out, “Too late.”

Jeongguk’s eyes widened and he growled low, before picking up his Tamer. The elevator doors opened, and he stormed forward, getting them quickly to a safe place, even as Jimin lost himself to rubbing his over-sensitive body against the strong muscled form that he adored.

“Kookie. Don’t make me wait anymore. Need you.” Jimin knew he was testing Jeongguk hard. Harder than he ever had. But it didn’t matter. They were nearly one.

Jeongguk moaned. “Need you too, dove. So badly.”

Without even realising, Jeongguk had taken him deep into the labyrinth that were the Beast hallways. He’d managed to find his room, despite his Tamer desperately rutting at him. If Jimin had his full faculties, he’d have been embarrassed that people behind the walls could see him. But he was not, so he felt no shame as he sucked a hickey onto Jeongguk’s neck, causing a sweet moan to come from his Beast. Jeongguk managed to open the door to his mysterious room. Jimin hadn’t ever entered, feeling it would be taboo. That once they made that move, Jimin wouldn’t ever be able to pull back from him. Those thoughts meant nothing now.

Curious, Jimin looked around, managing to separate himself from the gorgeousness of his future Mate. And he was disappointed.

The room wasn’t just plain, it was empty. There was a bed. That was all. The small slit on the wall would act as a clothing dispenser, but that would be everything in the room. It was extremely large, which felt more like an observation room than anything else. At least the bed was filled with multitudes of blankets, in yellow and blue colours. They were strewn around in a circular manner, and Jimin realised that they were in the shape of a nest.

Like Jeongguk’s nest.

Jimin looked up at him, his eyes shining with fondness. And in his drunk state, he decided to forget all the rules.

“I love you, Kookie. My skylark.”

Jeongguk shuddered hard at the words and gaped at him, like Jimin was presenting the world to him. He purred gently, the sound still spinning around Jimin, but it felt less like he was being drugged, and more like what it should be. Comfort and safety. A connection that ran deep between them. Jeongguk pressed his forehead against Jimin’s and sighed.

“I love you too, Jimin. My dove.”

Jimin smiled at him, adoration evident and he stroked Jeongguk’s face. “My strong, beautiful and kind Beast. I’ll keep you safe. I’ll make sure you know every day that you are loved.”

Jeongguk paused, not having expected that, before he smiled gently back. “My gorgeous, powerful and intelligent Tamer. I will protect you with my dying breath, and will strive to show you how precious you are.”

Every word felt like it was binding itself to Jimin’s heart, and he inhaled, the weight too much for his still fragile heart. But he slowly relaxed, letting Jeongguk’s voice soothe him, and his presence ground him. Slowly, very unlike their first time, they moved towards each other, before gently kissing, just exploring the feel of the other. With a slight pang, Jimin realised that Jeongguk had been right about the difference between their dreams and reality. Kissing Jeongguk in the real world was like the first taste of honey after being starved. Like eating a banquet fit for kings. Like discovering the most complex of foods after only eating bread your whole life. Words couldn’t describe how much he adored it. How exquisite it was.

He gasped in a breath, barely breathing, and wanting only to push deeper into the kiss, losing himself in it. Jeongguk laughed softly, his voice soothing now. “Jimin… Are you ready, hyung?”

Jimin shivered and pulled back out of his arms. He realised that he was still hard from rutting against him, but he no longer was desperately searching for anything from Jeongguk, instead feeling more fulfilled than ever before. He wanted true connection. This wasn’t some hook-up from the bar. This was his skylark. And he wanted to show him how special he was.

Jeongguk watched with wide eyes as his Tamer slowly stripped off his clothes, slow and sensual. Jimin felt a thrill go through his as he watched the ravenous expression on Jeongguk’s face. He smiled sweetly at him. “Does my Beast like what he sees?” He finally shed his shirt, and he practically saw Jeongguk’s mouth water, as he revealed his hard-won abs, even though he’d maintained a few curves that he’d developed during the change.

Jeongguk stepped forward, slowly pulling off his own shirt, and revealing a sinful body. So beautiful. His feather markings were pulsing in time with Jeongguk’s fast heartbeat, and the light that scattered from him was highlighting his toned body. Jimin whimpered, especially as Jeongguk continued, by taking off his pants and underwear slowly, revealing the hard length that he’d been yet to see. Jimin tried to slowly discard his own pants but ended up tripping a bit in his eagerness. Jeongguk caught him in time and smiled gently at him. “I know what you’re feeling… But don’t hurt yourself for me.”

Jimin whined then. “I can’t help it. I need you, Kookie.”

Jeongguk laughed gently and picked him up, but before pushing off his pants, leaving Jimin in his own underwear. He took his Tamer to the bed, laying him down gently, reverently. “You’re so beautiful, Jimin. Why would you ever let someone like me look upon you?”

Jimin was barely keeping it together hearing his voice, but paired with those sweet words, he could only moan in response. “Kookie. Please.”

Hearing the desperation in Jimin’s voice, Jeongguk took the edge of Jimin’s underwear, and slowly slid it off, revealing Jimin’s painfully hard erection. Without any instruction, Jimin opened his legs up, welcoming the Beast into the cradle of his body. Jeongguk sighed in contentment, before he rocked himself against Jimin, their lengths trapped between them, and grinding deliciously slowly against each other. Jimin cried out, and reached out for Jeongguk’s shoulders, wishing they’d ground him, but they were both so high in the air, nothing could help. Jeongguk panted above him, his muscles tense, obviously trying to be gentle with him beloved.

And yet that’s not what Jimin wanted. He whimpered. “Kook, I need you in me. I want to be full of you.”

The Beast’s actions shivered to a stop and he growled. “Don’t push me too hard, dove. I’m barely keeping myself from ruining you.”

Jimin smirked at him. “You think I don’t want to be a little ruined?”

Jeongguk blinked, not comprehending, so Jimin reached forward, and slowly turned them around, so Jimin was straddling him Mate. “I want to feel your muscles caging me in and pressing against me as you rut into me. I want to be used by you, and only you. Because you’ve earned it. Even now, you’re earning it. You’ve never treated me like I was weak, even though you certainly could. You could have thrown me in your next and taken me, but you were gentle and loving. Yet it wasn’t because you thought I would break. It’s because you care for me. And I care about you. You’re the only one that is really keeping me going, Kook. So, when I say I need you… I mean it. Kook, I mean it. Make me yours.”

Jeongguk growled, and pushed him back onto the nest, causing Jimin to gasp.

“As you wish, little dove.”

And Jimin felt Jeongguk’s fingers at his entrance, and one hand that circled his length. Jimin realised he wasn’t ready for the dual sensations, and he was about to say so, when Jeongguk slipped in a finger and started to pump him slowly, but pleasurably. Jimin cried out, the feeling euphoric, and making his toes curl. Jeongguk’s breath stuttered. “Jimin… Do you have a…” His eyes were surprised, and Jimin whimpered. He nodded slowly. He could get pregnant. Jimin had forgotten.

Jeongguk’s eyes widened, and he smiled. “Well, then. I don’t need to prep you.”

Jimin frowned. “What do you mean?”

Jeongguk smirked and pulled back his hand, revealing a surprisingly slick had. “Males with your condition can lubricate themselves, and your entrance also prepares itself for lovers. You should ask V. He knows all about it.”

Jimin was confused, even with the sweet voice causing his erection to remain painfully aroused. “Are you sure?”

Jeongguk smirked, and flexed his hips, immediately sinking into his Tamer.

Jimin cried out, the pleasure so complete and intense, that he could no longer speak. There was no sense of pain, and no drag inside him. Only glorious fullness. He gasped and moaned as Jeongguk slid further and further into him, easily the biggest and thickest man he’d slept with, and just by sinking in, he brushed with the bundle of nerves inside him, causing spots of light to appear behind his eyes, as he cried out again.

Jeongguk groaned. “You feel so good, hyung. Squeezing me so tight.”

Jimin reached out for his Beast, smashing their mouths together in a messy, sloppy kiss, that descended into a chorus of whimpers and moans as Jeongguk began to move. Jimin clung on, crying out Jeongguk’s nickname like a prayer. The only thing keeping him sane. His Kookie. His lark.

Jeongguk fared no better, and slowly his Ability started to interweave his every movement, and a fine static raced across their skin, pulling them closer. Jeongguk started to pound into Jimin, his movements hard, causing Jimin to cry out with every thrust. Then Jeongguk aimed his hips for that specific spot, and Jimin no longer cried, but screamed, the ecstasy too much for him. The reaction made Jeongguk moan louder, and it sparked his powers more. It was no longer a simple static, but sparks that turned into bolts.

Jimin tried to look at the rapidly dancing lights that were reaching out throughout the room, and how they were changing the layout in subtle ways. But he couldn’t look away from the look of pure desire and pleasure on Jeongguk’s face, a look he was sure he mirrored, eyes dark with lust, lips shiny with their combined spit. Jimin still screamed out his pleasure, barely able to control himself at that point. “Kookie! Harder!” And his Beast obliged, pounding into him hard and fast, like his life depended on making his Tamer cry from euphoria, and he was succeeding. Jimin barely remembered his own name with how full and complete he felt. Floating on the clouds.

As his climax approaching, he gripped onto his Beast, moaning out that he was so close, and the Beast grunted out his happiness at the news, even as he pounded harder, his own release approaching. And as one they fell apart, Jimin coming hard, seeing stars and galaxies behind his eyes as he screamed out his Mate’s name. Jeongguk cried out, spilling himself deep inside Jimin, who felt even more full, and pleased in a primal way that had nothing to do with his human instincts. It was all Beast. He may as well be one, given that he’d accepted such a fine Beast for a Mate, his body fully accepting him into his own. Still, he tried to pull him closer, frustrated that there might still be distance.

As he did, he felt something stir inside him. The lightening in the room hadn’t left, and had become more intense, bathing the room in a blue light that made his Mate look like a godly being. Jeongguk moaned out a breathy, “Jimin.”

“Jeongguk”, he sighed back, forgetting that he shouldn’t say his name.

It didn’t matter though, because with his name on his lips, Jeongguk’s Ability flooded into his body, tying into every facet of his being. He screamed in ecstasy, feeling like he’d been missing a part of himself, until Jeongguk’s power filled it up. The power, the love, the connection to his Mate.

And oh, he was his Mate. They were everything to each other.

Jimin tried to focus on the Bond, and when he did, he realised that he was no longer seeing from his own eyes. And he teared up as he felt the pure adoration that Jeongguk felt for him. He saw himself through Jeongguk’s eyes. A wild, but beautiful creature, plump lips open from pleasure, eyes wet with unshed tears of happiness. His blue eyes were sparkling, like there was lightning in them, much like Jeongguk’s, and his blonde hair was nearly glowing from the reflected blue-white light. So submissive, yet so completely powerful. He could feel that Jeongguk would do anything at all to please him, anything for Jimin’s smile.

And, so he did smile. Because now Jeongguk knew that the feeling was mutual. He could feel how protective and possessive Jimin was. Could see that he would never let him go. He wanted only this stunning creature. Only him. Every feature perfect, from his bunny teeth, to his sharp gaze and to his muscled form. A perfect creature. And he was all Jimin’s, just as Jimin was his.

Jimin purred up at him.

“Hello, Mate.”

Jeongguk smiled brightly at him. “Hello, dove…”

Jimin beamed. “Shall we continue, my little skylark?”

He laughed. “With you? Absolutely.”

Jimin grinned. “Good. Because I wasn’t planning on sleeping tonight.”

With a growl, Jeongguk pinned him back to the bed, and Jimin willingly opened his body to let his Mate in, their Bond flowing with their love and power, as it wove them together forever.

Chapter Text

Despite having made love to his Beast for hours, when they fell asleep, exhausted, they still found themselves in their dream. Jimin had been confused for a moment, thinking he’d never come here again, but was happy that they still had this bastion of peace between them. He looked at the familiar meadow, and was delighted to see the flowers were blooming, even in the cooler air. He giggled and looked around for his Jeongguk.

Even in this space, he could feel the Bond between them, thrumming with life and love. If it were an object, Jimin was sure he could have cuddled up with it, like a teddy-bear, but it would keep him warm and content like a blanket. He felt more at ease in with that reassurance than he ever had been. When Jeongguk didn’t immediately appear, he hummed, and tried to concentrate on their Bond. It flared to life under the attention, and slowly, Jimin stood, before making his way towards the direction the Bond was pointing him in.

He saw a small hill, and could feel Jeongguk must be there, so he giggled as quiet as he could, before springing around the corner. “Ah ha!” He yelled, waiting for the surprised jump.

Except he wasn’t there. Jimin blinked at the empty space within the face of the hill, before looking around, despondent. He felt with his Bond again and felt that he was meant to be there. He whined, “Kookie?”

Before he could truly feel panicked, he felt a pair of arms go around him from behind, and a pair of warm lips gently kiss his neck. “Hello, Jiminie.”

Jimin gasped, and the arms around him instantly pulled away, faster than Jimin could follow. He looked around, seeing nothing, but hearing his Mate giggle softly all the same. “Kook? Where are you?”

In front of his eyes, he saw the sky… shift. And he realised he’d been seeing him all along, but his massive wings had been camouflaging him so well that Jimin hadn’t been able to work through his disguise. Jeongguk opened his wings up and he grinned at him.

“Did I surprise you?”

Jimin growled and practically leapt into his arms, causing the Beast to lose his balance and land on the ground, his Tamer kissing him furiously and possessively. The Beast purred at the treatment, bringing his wings around his Mate, and he kissed back just as passionately.

“You scared me… I couldn’t find you.” Jimin pouted at him, and Jeongguk noticed the slight wetness that was pooling in Jimin’s eyes.

He hummed and brushed Jimin’s cheek with his thumb. “Sorry, dove. I didn’t mean to do that.”

Jimin huffed. “You better make it up to me.”

The Beast laughed in return. “How? I’d say that I’ll make amazing love with you, but even in dreams, I think we need a break.” Jimin smirked at that, and cuddled in.

“…Tell me why you were called skylark, Kookie.”

The Beast looked down and blushed. “Oh… um… That’s a little embarrassing.”

“Why? It’s just me. Your Mate won’t treat you differently.”

“I should hope he wouldn’t.” Jeongguk teased gently and Jimin pouted.

“Quit stalling. Fess up.”

Jeongguk paused, then sighed. “…My mother was a musician and loved to teach all types of songs and instruments. Even those from the old world. But she loved songs that were sung with voices the most. And she always made me and my brothers sing for the other Sky Beasts. She’s the one that gave us our ‘song names’. My eldest sister was nightingale. My older brother was crow. He didn’t have to sing for others.”

Jimin giggled gently. “So… sky lark… That’s a lovely name. So, your voice is beautiful too?”

Jeongguk grinned and kissed his cheek. “Can’t you tell already?”

Jimin smiled and kissed his lips, soft and sweet. “I can. But you haven’t sung to me yet.”

Jeongguk hummed for a moment, before relenting and cuddling his Tamer closer. He opened his mouth, and started to sing softly, even more softly that his kisses felt, or his feathers for that matter. It was sweet like chocolate and velvety on his ears. He sang about falling in love, and of their love calling them over the ocean, into a dream where they were be happy, euphoric. Every word made Jimin’s heart pound a little harder, and he knew that Jeongguk could feel it through their Bond, since he could feel Jeongguk’s love just as much.

When he was done, Jimin took his Beast’s face in his hands and kissed him senseless, but never pushed for anything sexual. He wanted to bask in this moment, gentle and content.

Yet it wasn’t to be forever, and slowly, they woke up.

 

~~~

Jimin wriggled a bit in the bed, feeling sore in ways he’d never been before, previous lovers having never satisfied him so intensely. His lips still felt swollen, and even his eyes were puffy from crying in pleasure. He’d been thoroughly overwhelmed by the man who was still cuddled into him. He smiled and ran his hand gently over Jeongguk’s arm, and chuckled when he didn’t wake up. He slipped out of his hold so he could stretch, and maybe go for a shower.

As he looked around the room, he gasped.

The lightning which had been pouring out of Jeongguk had completely changed the room, and Jimin was slack jawed at the sights around them both. The walls seemed to have permanently taken the form of the lightning, with fractures and branch like veins sprouting all over the walls. Even within the strange shape, the burnt-out walls glowed with residual power, lighting the room in an eerie glow. The floors in particular were black with lines upon lines of markings, and they felt surprisingly cool on his bare skin. He looked up and gasped. It seemed the ceiling had been turned into a permanent cloud, flickers of lightning passing through, but managing to make no sound. He tried to reach up to touch it but pouted as he realised that he was not tall enough. Still, the patterns on the walls and floor looked as though they’d taken years to carve, some of them seeming so perfectly placed, and though Jeongguk had meant them to take on one shape or another.

He walked closer to the wall, and briefly thought about the person watching from behind, and tried to hide a grimace. He wasn’t there to think about that. He was there to look at literal art.

When he reached out to touch it… The shapes moved closer to him, some of the patterns shifting, until they looked like birds, and they flocked around him. He giggled and touched one. Rather than pulsing hot pain, it felt like the smallest tingle on his skin, like the lightning was alive, and that it might even like him.

“Dove?”

Jimin flinched, feeling caught out in the moment, until his heart slowed. It was just his Kookie. He looked back and smiled at the droopy-eyes that he loved. As Jeongguk met his gaze, his eyes flashed, like always, and a dopey smile lit up his face.

“Good morning, sky-lark. Seems you redecorated last night.”

Jeongguk paused and looked around, before chuckling. “Yes, indeed. It was the Mating bed after all. Abilities tend to… mark the area.” He scratched the back of his head, scrunching up his nose.

Jimin blinked. “So… These markings are proof of… Our Bond?”

Blushing, the Beast nodded. Jimin stared for a moment before grinning at him and running to his side, cuddling into him tight. “No wonder they’re so pretty, skylark.”

Jeongguk shivered and held his Tamer tighter. “Only for you, dove.”

Jimin smiled and looked the markings over. “How did you make them like that?”

Jeongguk hummed. “They’re Lichtenberg figures.”

“…They’re what?”

Jeongguk chuckled. “People called them captured lightning. It’s what happens when the form of lightning stays on someone or something. Have you looked in the mirror?”

Jimin frowned. “No. Should I?”

Jeongguk chuckled, and raised his hand, gently running it down Jimin’s chest. As he looked down, he gasped.

The same markings on the wall were small pink lines delicately running down his chest, centred on his heart, and blooming towards his arms. It almost looked like a tree like pattern to imitate Jeongguk’s wings. It made him gasp as he traced the mark, and he looked up at Jeongguk in wonder. “They’re gorgeous.”

Jeongguk purred and took Jimin’s wandering hard and placed it on Jeongguk’s chest. The Beast closed his eyes, squeezing them together in concentration, and slowly the lightning faded from the feather markings on his skin.

What was left was a mark similar to Jimin’s, but it wound around his arms and legs in spirals that came from his heart, like a maypole of residual lightning on his skin. Jimin traced the marks like he had with his own, and Jeongguk shivered. “It’s sensitive when a Mate touches their mark…”

“But how is it there in the first place? I don’t have any Ability.”

“Of course, you do. Just not like a Beasts have them.”

Jimin’s eyes widened and he shook his head, pointing to the bracelet, and warning him about being recorded, only to remember the people looking into their room.

And like that, everything came crashing down.

His private and loving moment with Jeongguk. His Mate. Being watched by vultures just behind the walls. Everything they had been working towards. Gone. Why were they both trying? Why bother working against the Academy, when there was no escape? They were all just experiments for these people to watch and laugh at, and Jimin, like the others, must have played the part they wanted.

Jeongguk immediately took Jimin’s face into his gentle hands. “Dove, what is it?”

Jimin shivered, his eyes tearing up. “They’re watching…”

Jeongguk stared into his eyes, flashing blue meeting a gentle blue, before he sighed. He pulled him close and whispered into his ear, so soft it was barely audible. “I know.”

Jimin flinched and pulled back, tilting his head in confusion. Jeongguk smiled gently. “I made sure our marks were everywhere… For that reason.”

And it clicked in his head. V had decimated his room, nearly melting all the walls, charring them beyond recognition. And thus, no-one would see them. One’s room was similarly changed, and now so was his Kookie’s. He blinked, thinking back to the Director’s words, thinking about whether or not she’d mentioned seeing V and Yoongi together. She had… But could she be lying? He wouldn’t put it past her. She could have been covering up for the surprise they’d had. A happy one for her, but definitely a surprise. Hence why the officials reacted so badly, and without the Directors permission.

He didn’t have any way to prove that, though. Except for a certain Beast that could read minds. Thinking of just that, he looked up at Jeongguk and smirked. “I think we need to show off ourselves, Eleven.”

Jeongguk smirked back. “You’re right as always, my Tamer.”

 

~~~

Jimin wanted to immediately run to RM, but he figured that would seem too suspicious. Instead he decided to do a ‘hospital check’ so that he could see Jin. The last they’d properly seen each other was with the Director, and he wanted to see his hyung outside of her immediate grasp. Besides, Jin was sensitive when it came to those he cared about. And he figured that being around the doctor would be a calming experience after the crazy day they’d all had.

Of course, life was never quite that simple for Jimin.

They opened the door after getting changed and trying not to go straight back to their bed, only to find a pair of auburn eyes peering up at them, followed by a huge box-shaped grin. Jimin gasped and went down to V. “What are you doing here?”

V just smiled, seeming relieved. “Waiting for you, Jiminie.”

Jimin blinked and looked at Jeongguk, who was pouting, but seemed to be letting the Beast have a pass. Jimin sighed. “Why? You should stay with Tamer Hoseok.”

V pouted. “…Prefer you.”

“But I was busy.”

“I noticed.”

Jimin went beet red, and Jeongguk sighed. “V… You’re being disrespectful to my Mate.”

V pouted more. “He’s my friend.”

“He’s a Tamer. Tamer’s are not meant to be friends.”

“Well, he’s my friend.” V’s eyes shone with fire, and Jeongguk’s flashed back.

Jimin shivered. “Are you really fighting over me?”

“Yes.” “No.” Jeongguk answered the negative, even as V’s chirpy voice came out. V looked confused, so Jeongguk smirked. “Don’t have to fight over what’s already mine.”

Jimin scoffed. “You’re both wrong. V is Yoongi’s, thus I’m not interested in taking him on board. Eleven… You’re mine. Get that right.” He sounded haughty even to his own ears, but watching how Jeongguk lowered his head in submission, even with his secret smirk, it felt very right to Jimin.

“Yes, Tamer Jimin.”

V’s lip curled with disgust. “Fine. Keep him. But he’s still mine to do this with.” And before either Jimin or Jeongguk could react, V had bolted up and cuddled into Jimin from behind, purring slightly. Jimin sighed but made no move to take him off.

“So… to Jin?”

Jeongguk nodded. But he was obviously pouting at the blatant lack of respect from the older Beast. And V was soaking in his own victory over the Sky Beast. Jimin tried to remain stern with them, but they were both too adorable, and he wanted to cuddle them both for different reasons.

After the initial scare with V, he’d found that he genuinely enjoyed the clinginess, not having realised how much of a sucker for skin-ship he was. And while Jeongguk was clingy in private, V was unabashed in how often he liked to be cuddled. If he wasn’t on Yoongi’s lap, he was nearly always in someone else’s. Jimin didn’t know how he would feel if his own Beast was like that, but figured Yoongi was very secure with his own Bond.

Thinking of the Bond made Jimin try to reach out. And when he did, he started laughing, startling the Beast on his back, and making V whine.

If Jeongguk pouting hadn’t been obvious, the Bond was filled with his petulance and jealousy, as well as his longing to replace the fiery Beast. It was so cute, that Jimin, without thinking, immediately went to pinch Jeongguk’s cheek. “Are you jealous over V?”

Jeongguk whined, and tried to escape his smaller hands, but Jimin wasn’t done teasing. V smirked and cooed at the other Beast, and he ruffled Jeongguk’s hair, even as Jimin laughed at the furious blush on Jeongguk’s cheeks.

The clearing of a throat made Jimin jump and silenced both the Beasts into the stern creatures they only were around strangers.

An official looked at him in disgust. “You realise those are dangerous creatures. You should be scared they’ll rip off your arm, not treating them like they’re puppies.”

Jimin smirked. “They are puppies. For me. Although I do agree. If you tried to do that, Eleven would fry you from the inside out. And I wouldn’t stop him. I treat my Beasts like I want to. If you have a problem, take it up with the Director.”

The official scoffed and walked past, speaking in a thick sarcastic tone. “Thank you for the permission. I think I’ll do just that, Park Jimin.” And they strode past.

Jimin wasn’t sure if he’d done the right thing, but V immediately leaned back into his back, much less playful. “Hate them.”

Jeongguk nodded, and leaned forward into Jimin, making him feel like a Beast sandwich. Jimin knew the prospect of his situation would give most people in the building an aneurysm. But it was so peaceful, and Jimin felt surprisingly safe in their embraces. He smiled and stroked his Kookie’s head. “We need to see the doctor. Come on, you two. You’re both too heavy for this.”

Jeongguk grunted an affirmation, and V just sighed, standing up properly. They went to the elevator and the Beasts continued to cling onto the Tamer in their own ways. Jimin knew he shouldn’t encourage them, given the people watching or listening, but he found himself weak to V’s pouting, and Jeongguk’s warm gaze.

As they walked down the medical halls, Jimin noticed there was an official standing directly outside Jin’s office. Her hair was pitch-black, like how it was ‘meant’ to be. Her face was a sweet, heart shape, with a slight widow’s peak, truly perfecting the impression. Her eyes were small, but sweet, perfect almonds, and sitting symmetrically on her face. It was her full lips that were the most interesting thing to look at. Her lower lip was much fuller, and the top lip seemed to round downwards in a surprisingly pouty way. But as the woman smiled at them, Jimin could see that she certainly didn’t mean to pout so naturally. Maybe it was an unconscious habit, like his own. She seemed delighted at their arrival, but that only put Jimin on edge. “Ah, you’ve arrived, Tamer Jimin. It took a bit longer than we expected.”

Jimin raised his eyebrow at her. “Should I know you?”

She laughed and stood straighter. “Forgive me for my casual tone, but I’d prefer to have a good working relationship with you, rather than a strained one. My name is Kim Hyejin. I’ll be your own personal assistant, now that you are a full Tamer.”

Jimin tilted his head. “I hadn’t been told that was something I should expect.”

“Of course not. It’s a new measure created by the Director after the mess that happened with Tamer Suga. Speaking of which, you’ll be pleased to hear that he was moved into solitary last night, and that his condition is stable.”

Jimin felt V tense slightly, followed by relief as he tucked himself behind Jimin, his face in Jimin’s neck. The Tamer shivered slightly, and ignored the pout from his own Beast, before nodding at Hyejin. “I see. But wasn’t it the Director’s plan to have everyone monitored in the medical rooms? Why the change now?”

She smiled, seemingly unaffected by the two affectionate Beasts beside him, although Jimin figured it may be good acting on her part. “It was just for the medical bay, but after realising that not all Officials have the necessary skills to work among Beasts, and Full Tamers, she decided to task certain people on certain Tamers permanently, to stop something unseemly happening again.”

Jimin paused, then rolled his eyes. “Right. How much do you know about me, then?”

She hummed. “I know that the Director let you see behind the scenes. She must trust you a great deal, if that’s the case.”

Jimin smirked. “Somehow I doubt that.”

And Hyejin smirked back as well. “Perhaps. Still, she’s given you and your Beast more permissions than most. I’ll speak candidly here, since, as I said, I want our relationship to be mutually beneficial. I have no interest in being your enemy, Tamer Jimin. I think anyone who does is a fool.”

With a roll of his eyes, Jimin walked past the official, wanting to just talk to Jin, and avoid this conversation entirely. Hyejin looked a bit put off, but sighs. “I see. We’ll discuss this later.”

Jimin nodded. “Right…” And he opened Jin’s door without anymore distractions. His hyung was inside, bent over some work, while Jihyun was beside him. The two were talking under their breath, deep in thought. Until Jimin walked in, then Jihyun turned and beamed at him.

“Hey, hyung! Glad to see you’re doing w-” His eyes bugged out from his head and he gasped. “Oh, God! What happened to your chest?”

Jin turned and gaped a little himself. “That looks like serious electrical damage, Jimin. Did you put a fork into a power socket? I would have advised you against that.”

Jimin chuckled. “Um, actually, that’s my, uh... Mark.”

V smirked. “Eleven cares a lot, obviously.”

Jeongguk pouted. “I care the right amount, obviously.”

Jihyun gasped. “Woah… That’s the first time I’ve heard Eleven talk.”

“Same here.” The doctor nodded at him appreciatively. “Good first words, JK.”

Jeongguk blinked, and blushed a little, shy under the praise. “Thank you, Doctor Jin.”

Jin smirked and stood up. “Yah, kid, you call me hyung like everyone else! I’m not just some stuffy doctor that doesn’t know how to let loose you know!”

Jeongguk blinked, then smirked. “I don’t know, hyung. You look quite old to me.”

Jimin gasped, as did V beside him. “JK, no!”

Jin, still processing, stormed forward, “Now you listen here, you cheeky brat, even if I was old, you still have to act right around me!”

Jeongguk shrugged, and lifted his hand up to scratch his neck, but the action caused Jin to flinch. The Beast’s smirk grew into a full bunny grin.

Jimin snickered. “Oi, Jin-hyung, did you just flinch? Aren’t you meant to be older than him?”

V chuckled. “I think he’s scared of JK’s muscles.”

Jin huffed. “I’m scared of nothing, and this boy will respect me like anyone else!”

Jeongguk chuckled, a wicked light in his eye. “How will you do that, hyung?”

Jin seemed lost for words.

And so Jimin and V started laughing at the doctor’s expense, making the doctor pout. He returned to his desk, sulking. “Eleven, get on the bed. You need a check-up, brat.”

Jeongguk, recognising that Jin was close to being actually hurt, went willingly onto the bed. He smirked up at his Tamer, and Jimin winked at him. He knew Jeongguk was much more playful than he usually acted around others, a surprisingly shy man, so this was the first time any of the others could see it.

It was at that moment that Jimin noticed the official standing behind them, recording everything. He frowned at her, and she looked up, noticed, and flushed.

“Sorry. Progress notes. I was told Eleven was particularly violent, so I was updating his file.”

“He’s not a fan of strangers.”

“Few people are, so I won’t hold that against him.”

“You’re a stranger.” Jimin rolled his eyes.

Hyejin smiled, “And yet you’re the one being hostile. I wonder why that is?”

Jihyun snorted. “Because he generally hates people.”

Jimin gaped at him. “I do not!”

Jin looked at the brothers. “He liked me immediately!”

The pause from Jimin seemed to confirm something for Jihyun. “He probably saw you as necessary initially. Then you became his friend. Trust me, he doesn’t actually like anyone immediately.”

Jin just whined, muttering about disrespect from all his dongsaengs. Jimin pouted at the conversation and sat on a chair, only to find that V, who was still behind him, had decided to become an extra layer on the chair. The Beast chuckled as Jimin sat unceremoniously into his lap. “Careful of the bump!”

Jimin rolled his eyes. “Bump? What do you mean, you’re all skin and…” Jimin remembered, suddenly, and flushed a bright red. Right. Baby bump. Not actually visible, but there was a baby growing inside of V. He suddenly felt terrible.

As if V could sense his sudden mood, he cuddled Jimin from behind. “Don’t worry. It’s new for me too.”

Jin finished his check on Jeongguk and hummed. “He seems a lot stronger.”

Jeongguk nodded. “I would be. I’ve Bonded and Mated. My Ability is probably doubled from that alone.”

Jimin perked up. “Bonding makes you stronger?”

V hummed. “Kinda. It unleashes potential. Under certain circumstances.”

“Such as?”

V smirked. “Secret.”

Jeongguk nodded. “Secret.”

Jimin whined. “You can’t bring that up, only to then hide something.”

Even Jin looked put out, but sighed. “Trust me, Jimin. This is their favourite game.”

“Information denial. Awesome. I bet even Hoseok is faring no better.” Jimin huffed out.

Jin nodded. “True, and it’s probably worse for him. Now swap over, you two. It’s Jimin’s turn.”

Grudgingly, V let go of Jimin, and the Tamer went to the bed. As Jeongguk went off, V opened up his arms for the other Beast, his eyebrows raised in a mischievous invitation. Jeongguk stared then looked pointedly away from V, like he couldn’t even conceive of the offer.

Jimin wanted for Jin to do the whole check-up, when the doctor gasped. “Now what is this development?”

Hyejin automatically stood up and walked over. “Something the matter?”

Jin paused and showed her the monitor. “You tell me.”

Hyejin looked closely. Then she paled. “How is that possible?”

Jimin looked up at them. “How is what possible?”

Jin ignored him and looked at Jeongguk. “Can your Ability move into someone else?”

Jeongguk tilted his head. “No more than it would during a normal, natural Bond.”

V smirked. “I think I know what’s happened.”

The doctor and official turned to the Beast who sat smug on his chair like it was a throne. Jimin whined. “What’s going on?”

V chuckled. “Looks like Jeongguk wasn’t the only one who’s natural potential was let out. Seems like Jimin also had a boost.”

Jin frowned. “That doesn’t explain this.”

Rolling his eyes, V stood. “Jimin is more like us than most other Tamers, right? Why wouldn’t that extend elsewhere?”

Sitting up, Jimin looked at the screen briefly, before Hyejin turned the monitor off. Jin swore. “Why did you do that, Official Kim!”

“Because, until we can figure out the meaning of this, we will not pursue it. Not with the Tamers or Beasts present. Jimin, you’re healthy, and nothing is wrong. There is a circumstance we do not understand, but it is nothing that will affect you negatively. Aside from that, please just leave it alone.”

Jimin opened his mouth to argue, but closed it slowly. He knew she wouldn’t budge. And not because she was being cruel, her eyes seemed strangely sympathetic. She was obviously following a protocol that he didn’t know about. Nevertheless, it was deeply frustrating.

“Okay.”

Hyejin slouched a little in relief. As she did, Jimin noticed a little light flickering on her wrist, and she looked at it, before sighing deeply. “Good. Besides, it looks like all three of you are needed. There’s been a sighting, and we need a Full Tamer.” Jimin frowned, not understanding, when it hit him. Parasite sighting. He was being called in already. He looked up at Jeongguk, nervous, but the Beast seemed to be calm. V beside him was likewise unaffected by the news.

Hyejin smiled. “So, shall we go to the launch floor? It will be Jimin’s first time, but with the V Veteran, it will go fine.” Jimin barely registered the joke, but V just sighed beside him.

Jin gave a sympathetic look to Hyejin, “No, don’t call him V. He hasn’t let you.”

She blushed, taken back slightly. “Oh, sorry.”

Jimin blinked. A surprisingly normal reaction. Up to that point, Hyejin had seemed a bit too robotic, even with her attempts to be nice. But as he looked at her, something about her made Jimin feel a little less hostile. Something about how she kept changing her grip on her clipboard, like she was nervous, or how she smiled frequently, but unsure. How her eyes flicked around them, without properly landing on them.

And Jimin made his judgement in that moment. He wondered if she even wanted to be there, conversing with a pissy Tamer, two scary Beasts, and two partially crazy doctors. Maybe she was just making the best out of a shit situation.

Just like Jimin was.

Jimin hummed at her. “You know… You don’t have to be so tense. If you don’t like us, I wouldn’t hold it against you.”

She blinked at him, and suddenly sagged, her demeanour tired. “No, it’s not that. I just… I really did want to make a good impression. I get the feeling that I didn’t.” She really started to wring her hands then.

Jeongguk leaned towards her, intimidating and larger than life to the small woman beside him. Hyejin looked up at him but didn’t seem scared.

Jeongguk sighed. “She’s fine. Weird, but fine.”

And Hyejin pouted at that. “Well, excuse me for thinking the forests are cool.”

“You think the forests are cool?” V looked strangely at her, like he didn’t believe her.

She, however, beamed. “Of course, they are! Biologically speaking, all the specimen that live beyond the domes are much healthier and sturdier than dome-dwellers. Also, how species managed to survive all of the radiation, only to become stronger? Awesome. I’d love to learn more about that. But this is the only place we can, and even then, it’s not…” She sighed. “We’re not actually learning much. I don’t think they will with their current methods of research. So, I wanted to make a good impression on the Beasts, to learn at the source. But they don’t want to do anything with me. Tamers are the other option, but most won’t do anything outside of what the Director wants.”

Jimin frowned. “You realise we’re being recorded, right?”

She looked up at him, before lifting up her arm. The one that didn’t hold her communications bracelet. “You sure about that?”

Jimin didn’t recognise the trinket, but both Jin and Jihyun gasped. “A signal blocker? They let you wear that?”

Hyejin smiled. “I’m one of the most trusted officials. A position that, while it sucks, has a lot of perks. Like being able to confidentially work anywhere. The only person who could access my feed is the Director herself, but she hasn’t ever pulled me up on my behaviour, so I think she doesn’t go out of her way to listen.”

Jimin blinked and frowned. “So, you’re saying we have to put up with you if we, in turn, want confidentiality.”

She shrugged. “I did want to talk to you. And I mentioned that I don’t want to be your enemy. All I want is to be in.”

Jin pursed his lips. “In?”

Hyejin smiled, surprisingly pretty, despite the gleam in her eyes. “In on this. On an extremely powerful Tamer and Beast, and how you both seem to be making the Director sweat a bit. I want to know why. I want to see your tests, and watch you grow. But unlike the others, I want to see you meet your potential, not squash you down if you get too scary. Call me Icarus, but I want to see what your strength could do.”

Jimin looked at her for a while, deciding what he thought of her. The Beasts and doctors waited, knowing this was all on Jimin. Sighing, he finally said, “I don’t trust you.”

“Then don’t trust me. Keep me at arms-length. But I can still help you, and you me. Don’t see us as friends. But as mutually beneficial acquaintances.”

Jimin sighed and nodded. “Fine. But if you do anything that compromises the Beasts or our friends, I might kill you myself.”

The threat felt like it lowered the temperature, and both V and Jeongguk stared at Hyejin, the warning plain in their eyes like it was in Jimin’s. Hyejin looked between them and nodded. “Understood. Same to you, though. If withholding critical information on you gets me in trouble, and then you don’t help me, I will bring you down with me. Believe that.”

Jimin hummed. “How loyal are you to the Director.”

Hyejin laughed. “Are you kidding? I may love looking at genetics and seeing whether synthetic genes are actually better than the natural ones, but her obsession with them just isn’t… right. She’s not right.”

Jimin looked at Jin, who nodded in confirmation. “You’d think the heir of genetic alteration would be proud of her heritage. She’s the opposite. Yet she still loves looking at genetic mutations. Just… not in utero. Why do you think she runs this place?”

Jeongguk took this moment to go to Jimin, who was feeling numb at yet another reminder. Genetic alteration. Mutation. Why was it so prevalent in the city-dome? Was there something more to it? He didn’t know. But if Hyejin was right, he was still in the dark about why the Director was so interested in Tamers and Beasts.

The only thing he knew for sure, was that V and Yoongi’s child should not have to find that out for them.

Hyejin sighed. “We have to go. They’ll come looking for us soon if you don’t suit up for the Parasite.

Jimin sighed in response to the official. “Fine. But this conversation isn’t over.”

Hyejin smirked and stood. “Let’s go.”

Both of the Beasts stood before Jimin had even decided to roll of the hospital stretcher. The Tamer pouted at the two, like they should have waited, which only caused them both to snicker at Jimin’s expression. “I don’t really wanna. I only just became a Full Tamer yesterday, and I haven’t been taught any protocols for being out in the open.”

Hyejin shrugged. “Hence why we’re going there now, and why you’ll be taking Beast Five with you.”

With a roll of his eyes, Jimin followed the official back down the hallways, but not without first giving his little brother a small hug. Jihyun had wished him good luck, but otherwise had been quiet over the visit, obviously overwhelmed by everything.

As they went into the more cramped elevator, Hyejin looked him up and down, until he spat out. “What?”

“…I don’t know. You’re just… Very different from the other Tamers. It’s refreshing, honestly.”

Jeongguk smiled, proud. “He’s a real Tamer.”

Hyejin raised her eyebrows at that. “Which means what?”

V smirked. “He’s not fake, like the others. He earned the name.”

Jimin looked at them. “Earned it? And how did I do that?”

Hyejin tilted her head. “…Is it something to do with the changing procedure?”

V and Jeongguk said nothing, but smirked at each other. Jimin sighed. “JK, will you tell me later?”

Jeongguk hummed, contemplation running through the Bond, before it turned happy. “I’ll dream it to you.”

Jimin smiled at that. “Good. Sounds important. But don’t say it’s just because of the whole smell thing that V talked about when we met.”

V snickered. “More than that, Jimin. Trust me.”

“Oh, goody.”

Hyejin pouted, obviously wanting in, but didn’t press the matter. Instead, she used her bracelet to unlock lower floors. Jimin was then aware that, finally, after five weeks, he would be able to go outside to see the wider city-dome. No longer cooped up in a little prison, and able to breathe real air. Yet even as he thought that, he paused. Was it freedom? Not only would he be there for one reason, to fight a monstrous thing, but it wasn’t actually fresh air, was it? The Academy was a prison, but wasn’t the city-dome just another prison? A gilded cage was still a cage, right?

Jimin bit his lip as the door opened to one large room, like a military hangar. There was all manner of different vehicles, and a few kiosk-like areas with weapons of many kinds around. As they walked around, Hyejin said gently, “Beasts can’t go over those lines on the floor. If they do, they’ll get an immediate shock, no matter who they are.” Jeongguk moved away from them in response. The official brought them to the far end of the hangar, and to the only room within the large space. The walls were made of glass, and Jimin was reminded of a few high-class conference rooms that his parents had often made him sit outside of. Not a great reminder, but at least Jimin didn’t feel a shudder of fear at the mere thought of the Parks. No, he knew now that he would rip them apart if he saw them again. And Jeongguk would help him.

A pleasing thought.

A man was waiting inside, looking gruff and old. He looked up and frowned deeply at the presence of two Beasts. “Those things wait outside.” Hyejin paused, and looked at Jimin, who merely nodded and looked at the Beasts.

“Be good. Don’t scare people just because you can.”

V pouted. Jimin already knew him too well.

Jimin followed the official in and sat down in front of the man. He wore a camouflage uniform, and Jimin noticed a slight scar running down his face. Not hugely noticeable, until you saw it. His wrinkles were numerous, and the frown only emphasised them. “Really? A new Tamer? I need a professional for this.”

Hyejin smiled. “That’s what Beast Five is here for.”

“A Beast? A professional? Don’t make me laugh. Those things are good for following orders only. Don’t forget that I’ve worked with that thing. Hell, I worked with him when we found Eleven. Let me tell you that it’s a miracle we captured Eleven at all, and it’s not thanks to Five, or his damned Tamer!”

Hyejin sank back, unable to respond. Jimin cleared his throat, catching the attention of the man. “Sorry, I think there’s been a miscommunication here. I may be new to Parasite killing, but I have no intention of playing around. Nor will I let either Beast play around. So, hello sir, nice to meet you. I’m Tamer Jimin. And you are?”

The man studied him, and growled out, “I’m Captain Kang. And there are three Parasites that need taking care of today.”

Jimin raised his brows at that. “Three? I was told that two was the maximum amount that are normally seen.”

“And now that’s gone to three. There have also been more recent sightings, meaning that you, newbie, have your work cut out for you.”

Jimin nodded, “Understandable. What are the orders?”

Kang sighed, but seemed pleased at Jimin’s attitude. “Try to capture one if possible. We want to see if there’s a reason more are appearing. Otherwise, kill on sight. If anyone has a major reaction, bring them here as soon as the mission is over.”

Jimin nodded. “How will I know about major reactions?”

“The Beasts sense it first. And I should warn you, there’s normally one each mission.”

Jimin’s eyes widened. “I see. I’ll keep my eyes open then.”

Standing up, Kang indicated back where he’d come. “Uniforms are that way. Get moving.”

Jimin nodded, and did just that, his heart pumping out of his chest.

It was time. Finally.

He was ready to fight with his Jeongguk.

And just as ready to find out what made this system tick.