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i thought he remembered me; he took me back so tenderly

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As far as planetary missions go, this one is a bit on the lackluster side. They’d intercepted a distress signal, who knows how old, and had set off in the direction of it only to find themselves trudging through a rainforest so dense it nearly blocks all the light from the local sun.

 

Jimin hates mud and he hates strange alien bugs even more, scowling as he swats yet another buzzing yellow insect away from his face.

 

“Imagine if Hoseok had to come down here,” Seokjin laughs, nudging Jimin’s shoulder as he grins.

 

“We’d probably all be dead by now,” Yoongi grouses from ahead of them, flashlight on its highest setting as he follows the distress signal’s blipping call.

 

Jeongguk’s silent behind them, Jimin glancing over his shoulder to look at him. He hated missions like this, found the sensory overload to be too much. Jimin can already see the anxiety on him: ears standing sharply upward, blaster firmly in his grip, shoulders tensed as he scans their surroundings, hyperaware.

 

He feels bad, lingering as he contemplates giving Jeongguk some assurance. It wouldn’t do much; they were already down here.

 

Jeongguk catches his eye anyway, jaw clenched tight as he gives him a nod. Jimin attempts a smile, feeling helpless. After everything Jeongguk had been though, Jimin hated having to see him like this the most.

 

He turns his attention back to the task at hand, ignoring the way his chest tightens.

 

They’d been unable to teleport down to the location of the distress signal, the planet’s magnetic field strong enough that it was disrupting their teleporter’s abilities. It didn’t help that it was a shitty old thing anyways. Instead, Jimin had been voluntold along with the others to take a shuttle down; never mind that if there was sentient life on the planet, they’d be easily spotted.

 

From their initial scans, they’d found no signs of industrial or technological advancements, meaning the planet was still young. If there was any lifeform, it would likely still be primitive. Whoever had decided to make first contact had likely royally fucked up.

 

They hadn’t been able to land the shuttle any closer to the distress signal either, fearing that if this was a trap, they’d be an easy target. Instead, they’d had to scan the forest for a big enough clearing and had found it nearly two miles away.

 

“Why would anyone even come down here?” Jimin grumbles, one hand firmly on the sonic blaster at his hip while the other beams his flashlight into the yawning darkness around them. His eyes have adjusted somewhat to the darkness but that doesn’t mean he can see shit. Out of the four of them, only Jeongguk’s any good at seeing in the dark without a pair of night goggles.

 

“Probably rich in resources,” Seokjin offers, stilling as a far away animal lets out a loud squawking sound. He’s the only one with the night goggles on. “The bigger empires like sending out scouts. It’s easier colonizing a planet when you don’t have a local population to fight off, too.”

 

“Fucking roaches,” Yoongi mutters as he continues moving. Jimin taps Seokjin’s elbow to grab his attention and they carry on forward, a rumble so low Jimin has to strain to hear it starting to come off of Jeongguk.

 

He did that sometimes, Jimin’s noticed; he finds it oddly comforting. Jimin had wanted to ask if it was to warn off predators but Jeongguk was sensitive when it came to questions about himself. Jimin didn’t blame him.

 

The density of the rainforest thins out a little as they continue on, more light beginning to break through the foliage. The ground begins to shift downward, becoming a little rugged and slippery.

 

Just as Jimin’s about to ask how much longer Yoongi thinks it’ll be, Jeongguk growls, a loud, threatening sound and they’re all whipping around to look at him. The first spear catches them all off guard but Jeongguk catches it easily, tossing it aside. In the next second, Jeongguk’s blasting his gun, pulsars of energy ripping through the trees. Three bodies hit the ground with loud thuds before the shrieks start.

 

Jimin dives behind a tree, gun ripped out of its holster as he scans the canopy of trees, flashlight tossed aside. Loud screams echo through the jungle as more spears are aimed at them, Jeongguk’s blaster ripping through the cacophony rapidly.

 

“Fuck!” Yoongi shouts, Jimin’s head whipping in the direction. Jimin can’t see shit two feet past him, trees and darkness obscuring everything. He curses under his breath, moving stealthily in Yoongi’s direction. 

 

A slew of arrows come whizzing in his direction, one nearly catching him right in the head just as he dives behind another tree trunk, this one even thicker. He rolls onto his back to land the dive before righting himself up on his feet, kneeling, momentarily frazzled.

 

“Shit shit shit,” Jimin curses, heartbeat thundering in his ears. The leaves above him shake and Jimin aims his gun, sonic pulses hitting nothing. He’s left cursing, scrambling farther from the group as he crawls deeper into the woods, narrowly missing a spear aimed right at him.

 

The alien species had clearly adopted well to the darkness of the rainforest and Jimin didn’t have Jeongguk’s pure instinct or Yoongi’s combat training. He imagines Seokjin’s faring just about as well as he is, both of their areas of expertise lying elsewhere.

 

Something falls out of the trees, and Jimin shoots to kill, but whatever it is bursts into pulp, the realisation that it was just fruit sinking in too slow. He’s caught completely off guard, and one of their attackers takes the opportunity to land right on their feet in front of him. Their eyes glow green in the darkness, the only real indication that anyone’s standing in front of him. Before Jimin can even press the trigger on his gun, a bright blue powder is blown into his face, sending him into a coughing fit.

 

It stings his eyes, the burning spreading down his throat into his lungs. Jimin doubles over in seconds, wheezing as the sound of their guns go silent. He feels hands gripping him, tugging him up but he loses consciousness quickly, hands clutching at his throat, gasping for breath.





Jimin wakes up cold.

 

He’s lying on top of smooth rock, body stiff, and his eyes can barely open. They’re irritated along with his throat, dry and coarse as Jimin coughs. It’s painful, throbbing, and his eyes water as he tries to blink them open.

 

“Just wait,” Seokjin’s voice comes. It’s to Jimin’s right, his head whipping in the direction despite the fact that he can’t see. “It wears off slowly. They hit you with a lot more of it by the looks of it.”

 

“Where,” Jimin croaks out, “where are we now?”

 

“A shitty little cage,” Yoongi answers. His voice is a little more far off, Jimin pushing himself up to sit . Seokjin helps him, hands supporting Jimin’s back and he finds himself propped up against Seokjin, back to chest, head leaning back against his shoulder.

 

“Here,” Seokjin says, the edge of something pressed to Jimin’s lips. It’s water and he chugs it down quickly, nearly choking himself in his eagerness. Seokjin tsks but doesn’t say anything, pulling the bowl away. Seconds later, a wet cloth is pressed to his eyes and Jimin sighs at how soothing the coolness feels. His eyes are still burning.

 

“They gave us water,” Jimin mumbles, mind whirling. “That’s a good thing.”

 

“They’re not pissed at us,” Yoongi says. He sounds closer now, and when Jimin tugs Seokjin’s hand away from his eyes, he manages to keep his eyes open just long enough to see Yoongi’s scowling face.

 

It takes a few more tries before Jimin can really keep his eyes open, but they sting nonetheless. There’s a strange lethargy to his body, a tiredness that feels unauthentic. “Are you guys feeling really sluggish too?”

 

“Yeah,” Seokjin answers, the rag he’d been pressing to Jimin’s eyes cut off from his own sleeve. It’s as Jimin glances around their cage that he realises Jeongguk’s not there. And then it clicks.

 

They’d been given water because the aliens had Jeongguk. He’d stunned a few of them but the aliens wouldn’t know that they weren’t dead, that they hadn’t aimed to kill anyone. Shit.

 

“Where is he?” Jimin asks, Yoongi turning to look at him. The cage they’re in is a little cramped, the bars holding them in made of some kind of bamboo like material. It’d be easy enough to cut through if the aliens hadn’t cleaned them of all their weapons.

 

“No fucking idea,” Yoongi mutters, a hand running through his hair. 

 

Jimin takes in their surroundings. They’re outside, the sun having set, their cage set up on top of some kind of rock structure. Jimin doesn’t see any aliens when he looks down, at which point, Yoongi points up.

 

“They don’t seem to come to the forest floor,” Seokjin says, the houses settled in the canopy of the trees linked together with makeshift bridges. Jimin can see the green eyes if he squints but he has to press the rag to his eyes again, exhausted from the exertion.

 

“I don’t think they left us down here out of kindness.” Yoongi’s voice hardens, standing up to get right to the edge of the cage. He has to crouch, the height of the cage too small for him to stand completely upright.

 

“I’m thinking there’s a reason they like living in the trees,” Seokjin mutters darkly, rubbing at Jimin’s back when he coughs, throat dry again.

 

“How ― how long have you guys been up?” Jimin manages through his wheezes, patting himself down to see if anything’s been left on his person. They’ve taken everything.

 

He wonders how they knew to clean out their pockets, finding the knife he kept tucked into his boots missing, too. Thankfully, he still has his communicator and watch but besides being a useful piece of tech, it wasn’t going to help him take any aliens down.

 

“Not a lot longer than you,” Seokjin answers, “but they got both of us together, only used a handful of that shit on us. You definitely got a bigger hit.”

 

“I told Namjoon there was no point coming down here,” Yoongi hisses as he slams a hand against one of the bars of the cage. It rattles the whole thing, Jimin’s eyes trailing down to the bottom of the bars. They’ve been embedded into the surface, holes for the bars scraped into the rock itself. Jimin’s impressed but wouldn’t they be able to push the cage off?

 

“We can get out,” Jimin exclaims, scrambling up. He pushes at the ceiling of the cage but it doesn’t budge. His brows furrow together.

 

“It’s weighted down.”

 

“Can’t we break the bars?” Jimin asks, gearing up to kick out at one.

 

“Sure and then we can be crushed to death,” comes Yoongi’s scathing response.

 

“Well I don’t see you fucking doing anything!” Jimin snaps, Seokjin already grabbing him by the back of his jacket and pulling him down.

 

“Can both of you shut the fuck up,” Seokjin huffs, exasperation tinged with annoyance. “We obviously have to get out and fighting about it isn’t going to help.”

 

“The cage has been designed to be lifted up,” Jimin offers, twisting himself to look upwards along the bars. The rock formation they’ve been left on is in a clearing, the trees thinner out around them. 

 

“Even if we get it up, how are we going to avoid the aliens?”

 

“We don’t need to lift it,” Yoongi huffs out irritably, removing his boots. He smacks the heels together, a sharp blade flicking out on both ends. Jimin’s eyes widen as Seokjin swears under his breath, eyes rolling.

 

“You couldn’t tell us you had a knife earlier, you jackass?” he grinds out, yanking a boot out of Yoongi’s hand.

 

“I was trying to see what our best option was,” Yoongi mutters, but he does sound at least a little admonished. “If we’re caught, this’ll be pointless.”

 

“We have to try and escape to be caught!” Seokjin accuses, voice rising in pitch, already at one of the bars. He starts a steady sawing motion, the bamboo like material giving away to the sharpness of the knife easily. Jimin’s relief is short-lived because even if they have a plan to get out, they still have to find Jeongguk.

 

“What about ― ”

 

The thought is cut short as a roar erupts through the rainforest and Jimin knows it’s not some wild beast in the woods. It’s Jeongguk. Unmistakably so and he sounds like he’s in pain.

 

Jimin’s heart clenches in his chest.

 

Suddenly, Seokjin is cutting all the more faster and Yoongi’s working on another bar right next to him. The aliens are all rushing toward the noise, shouts and yells erupting from their tree houses. It’s a good enough distraction for the three of them to slip out and head for Jeongguk themselves.

 

By the time Seokjin and Yoongi cut through three bars ― enough for them all to slip out ― the alien village is in disarray, loud drumming sounds erupting through the forest. Jimin squeezes through first, scrambling up from his crouched position. When he glances back, Yoongi and Seokjin squeezing out, he spots the four heavy stones placed on the top of the cage. It’s an impressive design, especially if the point is to keep prisoners trapped to the forest floor, but as they’ve proven, it’s easy enough to get out. 

 

The aliens are in a frenzy, their garbled yelling indecipherable by their universal translators. Jimin hears the sound of arrows whizzing through the air but they’re not aimed at them. His eyes strain to make something out from the tree tops but all he sees is shadows. Regardless, they need to get the fuck off the planet before they’re shot through the heads with an arrow.

 

“Let’s go!” Yoongi shouts, barrelling back into the thickness of the rainforest. Jimin and Seokjin are hot on his feet, Jimin’s eyes scanning for any sign of a ladder or rope they can use to climb up the long trunks of the trees.

 

“How the hell are we going to get up there?” Jimin yells, his question falling on deaf ears as another loud roar echoes through the forest. It’s followed by a lot of shouting and then a blood curdling scream.

 

Jimin’s heartbeat nearly stops in his chest, the thundering sound of something careening toward their direction shaking the very floor they were standing on. Everything is a disoriented mess and Jimin only has a few seconds to whip around before he sees the yawning void of teeth and eyes and limbs.

 

“Fuck fuck fuck !” Seokjin’s screaming, the two of them sprinting back toward their cage. They have nothing to defend themselves with and Jimin realises they’ve lost Yoongi. 

 

The creature barrels toward them, demolishing everything in its path as it closes the distance to Jimin and Seokjin.

 

“Fuck!” Jimin curses, adrenaline rushing through him so fast he can barely think, only do. He sees the hollow of the trunk just in the knick of time, barely grabbing Seokjin by the hem of his jacket. It’s a rough tumble into the hollow, carved into the tree itself by the looks of it.

 

The beast roars behind them as Jimin scrambles up, the inside of the tree hollowed out into a winding staircase. Seokjin stumbles behind him, the two of them making their way up as the beast butts into the tree, nearly sending them rolling all the way down the stairs.

 

Jimin’s hands are sweaty, barely clutching onto the wood as the beast thrashes into the tree again, its shriek so high pitched and loud it leaves Jimin’s head pulsing painfully. He’d definitely have a headache when they fucking got out of here. 

 

They make it to the top of the stairs despite the creature’s attempts to tear the whole thing down, the two of them laying low to assess their surroundings. Jimin’s panting as he realises why the aliens stayed in the trees and why they’d left them in a cage on the forest floor.

 

“Where the fuck is Yoongi?” Seokjin gasps out, eyes wide as his head whips around, taking everything in. They’re definitely at some kind of entry point to the village; Jimin’s surprised to find it unguarded. Whatever’s drawn all the aliens away from their posts must be big.

 

“Maybe he found one of these entrances?” Jimin offers, trying to catch his breath. He makes the mistake of looking down, the beast having finally moved on, its growl a high-pitched whining sound as it moves away from them. It’s massive, nearly twice the size of the shuttle they’d come down onto the planet on, long tail swishing behind it. Jimin thinks he can spot at least eight different limbs, its skin covered in dark scales.

 

“And he just left us to that thing?” Seokjin balks, gaze fixing on Jimin. Jimin just shrugs, finally standing up.

 

They needed to get out of here but they needed to find Yoongi and Jeongguk first. The screams and shouts are still going, so Jimin does the only sensible thing he can do and heads right for them. Seokjin follows, grumbling about what a shit show this was turning into.

 

Jimin avoids the bridges as best he can, not wanting to be caught in such a disadvantageous position. They hop from branch to branch, keeping a low profile as the screams get louder. It sounds a lot like the aliens are losing, Jeongguk’s howls unmistakable in the ruckus.

 

Jimin ducks down as a group of aliens rush past them, swinging between the branches with practised ease. Seconds later, he spots Yoongi scrambling over a bridge and heads right for him.

 

The trees are denser the farther in they go, more and more houses built in the sturdy branches. It’s better for them, easier to duck behind one wall after the other. He realises, as they sneak from one house to another, that the aliens have left their children inside their homes, some older looking aliens with each group. Everyone else seems to be heading for whatever fight’s broken out.

 

Jimin risks a lengthy jump to get to Yoongi faster, regrets it only when he spots Jeongguk sprinting along the forest floor, a throng of aliens right behind him. The sonic blast comes out of nowhere, Jimin’s ears ringing as Yoongi grins triumphantly, the aliens after Jeongguk toppling over like dominoes.

 

It takes Jimin and Seokjin a moment to right themselves, Yoongi having spotted them as well. He scurries over, a blaster in one hand and one of their backpacks over his back. He’d really fucking gone to look for their shit?

 

“Come on!” Yoongi yells, grabbing Jimin by the wrist and yanking him back in the direction they’d come in. It’s a good decision, too, because a slew of arrows come flying at them seconds later, missing them only because of the density of the tree leaves.

 

Seokjin’s already ahead of them, uncaring of who sees him. Yoongi and Jimin follow, dodging spears and arrows and trying their best not to slip on a branch and break their necks.

 

“What the fuck is going on?!” Jimin screams, bolting over a rickety bridge. He catches the knife Yoongi chucks at him with ease and slices the ropes of the bridge they’d just used. It topples down, a few aliens going with it as it swings to the forest floor.

 

“Jeongguk – ” Yoongi starts, jumping at a vine hanging from a tree. He catches it easily and slides right down. Jimin follows suit, watches Seokjin make his way down another. His hands burn from the friction, but it’s really the least of his worries. They’re running toward their cage now and Jimin already knows the beast has gone in that direction, isn’t quite sure what the fuck the plan is here.

 

“This way!” Seokjin yells, veering them left.

 

“Ah fuck!” Yoongi growls, a quick glance back showing the arrow that’s hit him right in the shoulder. Jimin’s eyes widen, panic and adrenaline turning into an anxious mixture. His lungs are burning, legs like jelly as he pushes himself forward. 

 

Something roars behind them, the force of it causing the ground to shake and all Jimin knows is they have to keep going, he has to keep going. The rush of water meets his ears before he notices the way the ground’s gotten even muddier as it inclines downward. It takes another minute of blind running before he sees the river, the flow turbulent.

 

When they break free past the tree line, it’s just the massive river in front of them and the telling drop of a waterfall due south. 

 

“Fuck!” Seokjin curses, running up along the river. The aliens haven’t followed them out of the trees and Jimin realises why when he sees the beast thrash through the trees in front of him, Jeongguk on its back. There’s a gaping gash along the beast’s side, blood oozing out and Jimin’s heart stops as it manages to throw Jeongguk off, his body scraping along the ground, dirt and mud flying upwards.

 

Jeongguk seems unaffected, rolls right back onto his feet and runs at the beast, howling loudly as it comes right at him. Jimin’s pretty sure he can see Jeongguk’s claws, twin moons illuminating the night sky. What the fuck had gotten into Jeongguk?

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Yoongi whines out in aggravation, chest heaving as he catches his breath. Jimin takes the moment to step forward, grabbing the arrow embedded in Yoongi’s shoulder.

 

“Ready?” he asks, waiting only until Yoongi grunts before yanking the arrow out in one quick pull. Yoongi curses loudly under his breath, eyes squeezing shut as he grits his teeth, jaw tight. Jimin grabs the blaster in Yoongi’s hand, lowering it down to its least powerful setting before shooting the arrowhead with one quick blast after the other. 

 

In seconds, he has it heated up, Seokjin ripping through the fabric of Yoongi’s jacket and shirt to expose the wound. Jimin doesn’t wait for Yoongi to be ready this time, pressing the searing heat of the arrowhead to his skin.

 

Yoongi lets out an agonizing scream, breathing ragged. His hand finds the hand Jimin has pressed to his side to keep him in place and grips so tight it hurts. Jimin winces in sympathy, eyes quickly looking toward Jeongguk and the creature.

 

“Sorry,” Jimin mumbles, lets Yoongi lean into him as he watches, eyes widening and heart lurching, as Jeongguk manages to slice into the creature, cutting its belly open. The beast doesn’t take to that very kindly, kicking Jeongguk so hard he goes flying back. 

 

Jimin pulls away from Yoongi immediately, calling out Jeongguk’s name as he tumbles into the ground, covered in blood and mud.

 

“I’m gonna kill him,” Yoongi grumbles in irritation, eyes rolling as he starts running toward the beast and Jeongguk, grabbing the gun out of Seokjin’s hand to hold at the ready as he presses forward. Jimin’s pretty sure it’s back on the highest setting, ready to obliterate whatever’s in his path.

 

“I’m never leaving the ship again,” Seokjin mutters, setting off after Yoongi.

 

Jimin lets them go after the creature as he sets off toward Jeongguk, making it to him just as he gets himself back on his knees, snarling and teeth gnashing.

 

“Jeongguk,” Jimin breathes, sinking to his knees next to him. He’s surprised to see Jeongguk like this, having always admiring the absolute control Jeongguk exerted over himself. “Jeongguk, are you okay?”

 

He reaches out to tug Jeongguk’s head up, push his hair out of his face but Jeongguk catches his wrist in a vice like grip, Jimin letting out a surprised yelp as claws dig into his skin.

 

“A-ah,” Jimin winces, worry sky-rocketing. This isn’t like Jeongguk at all. “Jeongguk?”

 

Bright yellow eyes blazing with fury meet his, the grip on his wrist tightening as Jeongguk lets out a growl and then the grip’s gone, the beast howling behind them. Jeongguk’s attention returns to it and he leaves Jimin there, sprinting toward the creature on all fours. Jimin’s left baffled, scurrying to his feet to run after him.

 

What the fuck was going on? What had they done to Jeongguk?

 

Jimin’s not sure how much he has to offer weaponless but well, he isn’t going to let his friends die at the hands of an eight legged monstrosity. All he can see are teeth when the beast opens its mouth, flaps of skin shaking with the strength of its roar. There are rows upon rows, a slimy grey tongue darting out to try and catch Jeongguk.

 

Jeongguk dodges it easily, kicking off the ground, a clawed hand out. He scrapes it right over the beast’s face, and it howls in agony, blood dripping from Jeongguk’s claws as he lands a few feet away. He’s rushing to climb the animal again, but the beast is thrashing wildly, Jeongguk’s claws having sliced right through a few of its eyes.

 

Amidst the thrashing, the beast manages to lash out a limb, hitting Jeongguk square in the chest and sending him toppling backwards.

 

"Jeongguk!" Jimin shouts in concern, trying to make it to him again but Jeongguk’s so focused he just picks himself right back up. Jimin can see the blood on him but he charges at the beast again uncaring as he belts out a roar of his own.

 

Yoongi and Seokjin both dodge another limb, the beast trying to turn tail and run away. It doesn’t get very far, Jimin wincing as it lets out another howl. Jeongguk’s already scaling up the length of its tail only to be tossed off after a particularly hard swing. It’s a good thing anyways as Jimin spots Yoongi getting down on a knee, blaster set on his shoulder and angled at the creature.

 

He barely has time to duck before Yoongi’s shooting at the beast, pulses of energy tearing through the beast’s flesh and bone. It shrieks, a sound so high-pitched it momentarily leaves Jimin disorientated, nearly falling to his knees.

 

Jeongguk finishes the job just as Jimin rights himself, hands clutching at his head, wincing. He rips his claws into the beast’s neck, tearing its throat out and it topples down, blood gushing out of the wound. The sight is horrific, blood pooling out of the creature like a waterfall, flooding the surrounding area in red.

 

Jeongguk’s doused in it, the sight of him sending a shiver of fear down Jimin’s spine. He’s never seen Jeongguk like this, so out of control. 

 

They don’t even have the time to regroup, the aliens bursting out of the trees with a threatening cry. Jimin stumbles as he rushes closer to the river, just missing an arrow aimed right at him. He sees his friends running along the river bank, sees the empty horizon where the water rushes off the cliff they’re trapped on.

 

Jimin knows there’s only one way to make their escape.

 

He dives into the water headfirst, uncaring of anything else. If he died at the bottom of the waterfall, it would be better than dying at the hands of the aliens. The water isn’t as cold as he’d thought it would be but it chills him nonetheless, the river’s current unrepentant as it carries him forward.

 

"Jimin!" Seokjin shouts, the sound of his voice barely carries over the rush of the water, Jimin unable to keep up with the strength of the river. 

 

He flounders as he tries to keep himself upright, thinks he hears the splash of another body hitting the water and soon enough, two others. If they survive this, he knows they’ll all meet each other at the bottom of the falls.

 

Jimin lets the current carry him, succumbing to the river as he finally reaches the edge, toppling over the falls, the ruthless force of gravity carrying him down. The breath’s knocked right out of him as the force of the falling water slams into him, Jimin struggling to breath.

 

Panic grips him, blackness swimming before his eyes.

 

He lets go.



 

Jimin wakes up to the feeling of secure arms around him, his body in someone’s strong hold. It’s a strange feeling ― strangely good ― and maybe he’d acknowledge how he shouldn’t feel so comfortable if it wasn’t for the fact that he was soaking wet and felt like he was made of lead.

 

He groans as he’s jostled in the arms of whoever’s carrying him, curling unconsciously into the hard chest of his saviour. They’re entirely out of the water, Jimin blinking profusely to get himself to open his eyes. Whoever’s carried him out stills, letting Jimin down gently until he’s lying entirely on the ground, coughing out water as he tries to suck in a lungful of air. It takes a moment, Jimin gasping as he tries to steady his breathing. 

 

When he finally does manage to keep his eyes open, he finds Jeongguk’s big doe eyes filled with worry looking down at him.

 

"Jeongguk," Jimin slurs, heartbeat quickening in his chest. He’s about to push himself up, wanting to take Jeongguk in, the wild look in his eyes gone. Jimin wants to scrub away the remnants of blood he can still see on him, already hating what it reminded him of. Relief battles with concern but Jeongguk keeps him down with a firm hand pushed to his chest, a growl leaving him.

 

If Jimin wasn’t so exhausted, he’d probably have had the brainpower to find that strange but he is, and finds himself just clutching Jeongguk’s hand to his chest, letting his eyes slip back shut.

 

"You’re okay," he mumbles, wishing he could just go to sleep. All the adrenaline’s rushed out of him and Jimin isn’t sure he can even get up.

 

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything.

 

Jimin’s brows furrow together, eyes blinking open again only to find Jeongguk’s gaze hard and settled in the direction Jimin thinks he was brought from. He forces himself up on his elbows, spots the shadowy figure of Seokjin as he drags Yoongi out of the water. 

 

Jimin wants to collapse right back down but instead, he gets himself up into a sitting position, relieved to see that they’ve all survived the crash of the waterfall. He still feels a little disoriented, the waterfall’s roar in the background, barely visible in the darkness of the night.

 

Jeongguk makes a rumbling sound, catching Jimin’s attention, and the closer Seokjin gets, the more and more it sounds like a growl. His lip curls upward, eyes narrowing as he lowers himself into a crouch, ready to strike his perceived threat.

 

"Jeongguk?" Jimin asks, alarmed. He glances at Seokjin quickly, noting that Jeongguk’s aggression seems to worsen with each passing second.

 

"Uh," Jimin says rather loudly, hoping to catch Seokjin’s attention. "I think you should stop there."

 

"What?" Seokjin huffs out, sounding just as exhausted and aggravated as Jimin feels. He drops Yoongi before collapsing down himself only a few feet away from them.

 

Jeongguk’s practically foaming at the mouth, a predatory snarl leaving him as he positions himself between Seokjin and Yoongi’s prone body and Jimin.

 

"Why the hell are you growling at me you brat?" Seokjin snaps.

 

Jimin, despite the fear crawling up his spine, grabs at Jeongguk’s wet arm, hoping to grab his attention. He doesn’t, Jeongguk lunging toward Seokjin and Yoongi with the same aggression he showed the creature.

 

“What the fuck ― ” Seokjin startles, arms coming up to protect him.

 

Jeongguk !” Jimin screams, scrambling up onto his feet. He catches Jeongguk by the back of his torn up jacket, the tug just enough to stop Jeongguk, his head whipping back around to face Jimin. There’s a nasty look in his eyes, angry and predatory, and Jimin’s heart slams into his chest, fear gripping him. The suddenness of everything causes Jimin to stumble but Jeongguk catches him easily, a noise of concern rumbling through him.

 

Jimin can hardly make sense of what’s happening but he grips Jeongguk tightly, afraid to let him go. Did Jeongguk not recognise his friends? He’d never acted like this before, not even when they’d found him nearly two years ago.

 

“Jeongguk,” Jimin says carefully, hesitant of doing or saying anything to trigger Jeongguk further. He’s stopped growling, the fury in his gaze simmered down as he blinks at Jimin. It’s strange, the way he tilts his head to the side, big eyes wide as he takes Jimin in. “Jeongguk, are you okay? What’s ― what’s going on?”

 

Jeongguk doesn’t respond, ears twitching as Yoongi shifts on the ground, a groan escaping him as he wakes up. Jimin’s fingers clutch at Jeongguk’s jacket tighter, hoping to keep his attention fixed on him. He didn’t seem to be seeing Jimin as a threat.

 

He finds himself reaching for Jeongguk’s forehead to check for his temple but he’s cool to the touch. Jimin startles a little when Jeongguk seems to lean into the touch, eyes slipping shut. Heat blooms against his skin, Jimin swallowing down the way his heartbeat quickens.

 

“What the fuck is going on?” Seokjin hisses, Jimin’s gaze flickering over to him and Yoongi quickly. Jeongguk’s growling immediately starts again, lip curling, and Jimin has to cup his face in his hands to keep his attention focused on him.

 

“They’re okay,” Jimin tells him, despite his conclusion that Jeongguk most definitely didn’t understand a word he was saying. “We’re safe.” After a small pause, he adds, quieter, “I ― I’m safe.”

 

That seems to appease Jeongguk for now as he leans forward, sniffing at Jimin’s neck. The proximity has Jimin flustered, unsure what he should do with himself as Jeongguk rubs his face against his skin.

 

Yoongi’s eyes meet Jimin’s, brows furrowed together as he takes them both in. Jimin’s hands rest against Jeongguk’s shoulders, his embarrassment burning against his skin.

 

“Something’s wrong,” Jimin says, forcing himself to go very still as Jeongguk’s tongue licks across the skin of his neck. What the fuck was Jeongguk doing? “He’s not ― He’s not acting like himself.”

 

“We didn’t notice,” Seokjin says dryly, flinching when a rumbling sound comes from Jeongguk. Somehow, Jimin knows that this isn’t a warning but rather a sound of contentment.

 

Jimin’s fingers dig a little deeper into Jeongguk’s shoulders.

 

“He’s acting like he’s ― ”

 

“Feral,” Yoongi says, his expression severe.

 

Jimin doesn’t like the look in his eyes, hands instinctively pulling Jeongguk in closer.  His hair is soft despite the dampness, Jimin wanting to protect him from whatever Yoongi was about to do.

 

“Feral? He’s not an animal,” Seokjin scoffs, but he hasn’t moved an inch, eyes zeroing in on Jeongguk.

 

“He was fine when we landed,” Yoongi says, more to himself than either of them. Jeongguk lets out a rumble of satisfaction against Jimin again, the vibrations ringing through his chest.

 

“The powder,” Jimin realises, eyes widening. He’d thought Jeongguk had been hurt or something when he’d heard him roar out initially but ever since they’d woken up, Jeongguk had been acting aggressive and primal. 

 

“The powder?” Seokjin questions, looking between Yoongi and Jimin. “None of us are acting crazy.”

 

“He’s not all human,” Yoongi reminds, hands curling into fists. He shifts, standing upright. Jeongguk tenses in Jimin’s hold and Jimin immediately wraps his arms around Jeongguk, hoping he won’t try to attack Yoongi. “He was pretty hostile when we found him. Whatever they did to him, he’s always operated on a baser set of instincts than us.”

 

“Jeongguk’s not some monster,” Jimin snaps, disliking Yoongi’s tone and his pursed lips. “He’s our friend.”

 

“I never said he wasn’t,” Yoongi’s voice flat. “But right now he’s dangerous.”

 

“Uh, he seems fine with Jimin,” Seokjin points out. Jimin shoots him a grateful look but the second Seokjin pulls himself up to stand, Jeongguk’s growling. Jimin knows he won’t be able to hold onto Jeongguk if he decides he wants to charge at their friends, mind racing as he tries to figure out what to do.

 

“Just,” Jimin starts, rubbing at Jeongguk’s back, hoping it’ll soothe him, “just think about this calmly okay. Maybe Jeongguk reacted to the powder differently than us. He’s technically only like forty percent human.”

 

“You know what he’s capable of, Jimin,” Yoongi says quietly, staring Jimin down. His shoulders are stiff, jaw clenched. “Fuck, forget that. You saw what he did up there.”

 

“What’s your plan here, Yoongi? To kill him?” Seokjin huffs out irritably, hands resting on his hips.

 

“I never said that!”

 

“That’s what it sounds like!” Jimin yells and maybe it’s his frustration that Jeongguk feeds off of, or his distress, but he’s ripping out of Jimin’s hold and charging at Yoongi in the blink of an eye.

 

Yoongi has his blaster out and ready just as fast, the barrel pointed right at Jeongguk as he shoots. The stun blast slows Jeongguk down for a split second but it only serves to piss him off further as he snarls, Seokjin cursing loudly behind Yoongi.

 

Jimin’s scrambling to his feet, pain spiking up his back but he has no time to deal with it, Yoongi hitting Jeongguk with another blast. This time the hybrid staggers and it gives Jimin just enough time to slip in between Yoongi and Jeongguk, fury frothing up his chest as he struggles to catch Jeongguk.

 

Jeongguk gnashes his teeth, growling loudly as he pushes forward. Jimin lets out a noise of panicked frustration, feet slipping easily in the wet mud around them as Jeongguk shakes himself to alertness, claws out.

 

“Hey, Jeongguk,” Jimin struggles, cupping Jeongguk’s face in his hands. Jeongguk looks at him, eyes cloudy with rage but Jimin shushes him. “Everything’s okay, Jeonggukie. Please, come on. I-it’s me, Jimin; you remember me, right?”

 

Jeongguk blinks, claws retracting as he settles, doesn’t seem to want to hurt Jimin as his hands slide down to grip at Jeongguk’s biceps, trying to calm him down. “It’s okay, we’re okay.”

 

“What the fuck is wrong with you!” Seokjin exclaims, snatching the blaster out of Yoongi’s hands.

 

“He was charging right at us!” Yoongi snaps back, but he looks stricken, eyes wide and fearful. “Fuck!”

 

“You’re okay. That’s right,” Jimin coos, arms wrapping around Jeongguk’s torso to hold him back. They’re both soaked through but somehow Jeongguk’s skin is still so hot. “Everything’s okay.”

 

“Okay,” Seokjin says, voice tight and strained, “everyone calm the fuck down.”

 

“Maybe Yoongi can pull some basic fucking common sense out of his ass first,” Jimin hisses, gently pushing Jeongguk back. He shifts back reluctantly, more focused on Jimin again than trying to attack Seokjin and Yoongi. 

 

“So caring about our safety means ― ”

 

“He only attacked you when you threatened him!” Jimin snaps, and it feels more like he’s holding onto Jeongguk now than the other way around. Jeongguk tenses in Jimin’s hold again, and he knows he needs to calm down if he wants Jeongguk to stay settled. 

 

“Jimin’s right,” Seokjin agrees, tugging Yoongi back by the scruff of his jacket and putting more space between themselves and Jeongguk. “Something’s obviously wrong but at least he’s responsive to Jimin so back off.”

 

“We don’t know how long that’s going to last,” Yoongi grits out, radiating hostility. Jimin gets it, he does. Yoongi wants to protect him from Jeongguk but what were their options here? Just leave Jeongguk on some foreign planet? How would they even find him if they did? “Jeongguk’s unstable and if he stops recognizing Jimin, he’ll kill him. He’s not thinking logically.”

 

“We have to help him!” Jimin argues, frustration being to boil over inside him.

 

“We’re not going to be much help if we’re dead,” Yoongi growls, turning away from Jimin and Jeongguk.

 

“Then leave,” Jimin says as calmly as he can, tears beginning to burn at his eyes. “Just. Just fucking go back to the ship. I’ll stay ― ”

 

“Can the both of you shut the fuck up?” Seokjin cuts in, a hand covering his face as he lets out a noise of frustration. “We’re not leaving anyone! We need to figure out what we’re doing and how we’re going to help Jeongguk.”

 

Jeongguk has stopped pushing forward entirely so Jimin lets him go just tentatively, watching his expression for any sign of aggression. There’s nothing, Jeongguk blinking down at him owlishly, ears perked up, so he turns himself around properly to face Seokjin, nodding.

 

“If you guys can get back to the ship, you can figure out what’s going on with Jeongguk. We need to get a blood sample, but Joonie will figure it out and t-then,” Jimin’s voice stutters, the sudden warmth of Jeongguk wrapping his arms around Jimin’s waist surrounding him, a solid chest pressed to his back as he pushes in closer. Jeongguk is hugging him? Jimin swallows but keeps going, not wanting to make Jeongguk’s behaviour the focus of their conversation. “And then we can look to make some kind of ― some kind of antidote, I don’t know.”

 

“How’re we going to get back to our shuttle? We’re completely fucking lost.” Yoongi’s turned his back on them now, a hand carding through his hair. He leaves the hand halfway through his blond locks, gripping tight on his hair.

 

“Have you checked what we have to work with in the bag?” Jimin asks, glancing at the last of their gear. They could always try going back to the village but Jimin had no desire to climb up the massive cliffside they’d fallen from.

 

“Wait! The bag!” Seokjin exclaims, eyes widening as he snaps his fingers, a giant grin spreading across his face. “That’s my pack!”

 

Jimin clutches Jeongguk’s forearm immediately as Seokjin darts over to the sopping wet lump lying on the ground a few feet away, but Jeongguk doesn’t lunge out like he did before. He’s gone back to sniffing at Jimin’s neck, nose nuzzling into the skin and Jimin does his best not to squirm, embarrassment burning hot in his belly. His wet hair tickles where it touches Jimin’s bare skin.

 

“Okay, okay, we have,” Seokjin pauses, dumping the contents of his bag all out in one go, “a flashlight, some very wet food, rescue blanket, med kit, supplements, rope ― Yes! My communicator!”

 

“I have mine, too,” Jimin pipes up, holding his arm up to show them his watch. He’d been surprised to see that the aliens hadn’t taken it.

 

“Okay, okay, so we just need to get in touch with the ship and then we can go from there. Namjoon’s bound to have some ideas,” Seokjin says, already attempting to make contact. Jimin’s watch hasn’t succumbed to the fall and Yoongi likely has his intact too.

 

Jeongguk seems to be getting more comfortable as he settles against Jimin’s back, almost childlike in his trust. Jimin knows they can’t take Jeongguk back on the ship. They only have one option.

 

“I’m gonna stay back with Jeongguk.”

 

Yoongi tenses immediately but Jimin ignores him, voice hardening. This wasn’t something he would budge on. 

 

“Someone has to stay with him and clearly I’m the only one he doesn’t want to attack,” Jimin continues, catching Seokjin’s gaze. His communicator lights up, a frazzled holograph of Namjoon’s bust appearing in front of them. 

 

“Where the fuck did you guys go? We’ve been trying to ― Wow, you look like shit .”

 

“Well, fuck you too,” Seokjin scowls, visibly annoyed as he sits down, exhausted. “And just to clarify, this is exactly why everyone says you’re so tactless.”

 

“What ― Who says ― ” Namjoon starts, flustered and red in the face.

 

Seokjin ignores his protesting and continues on. “Anyways, shit has kinda hit the fan down here.”

 

“Understatement of the year,” Yoongi deadpans, walking over to Seokjin. 

 

“Yeah and this one over here tried to kill Jeongguk ― “

 

“He what ?” Namjoon exclaims as Yoongi immediately defends, “That’s not what fucking happened! I ― “

 

“ ― did you not shoot at ― “

 

“ ― blaster’s not even set on kill ― “

 

“Shut up!” Jimin yells, Jeongguk’s hold on him tightening. They don’t have time for more squabbling.

 

Jeongguk’s growling again, the sound so quiet that Jimin’s sure he only hears it because Jeongguk’s glued to his back. He lets his weight fall into Jeongguk, hands gripping his forearms. As strange as all this is, Jimin will take it over any of his friends getting hurt.

 

“Can someone please explain what the fuck is going on?” Namjoon’s voice has gotten tighter, lips pursed into a thin line.

 

“Right,” Seokjin says, nodding. He gives Namjoon a run down of the last few hours, Yoongi’s grimace growing worse with every second.

 

Jimin’s too preoccupied with reading Jeongguk’s mood to offer any help, terrified that Jeongguk might attack their friends again. He seems okay, content to just hold onto Jimin as if knowing he’s okay or safe is all he needed. Jimin doesn’t understand but he’s thankful nonetheless. 

 

When they’d found him, he’d been the only living thing on an otherwise deserted planet. Humans had set up a research colony, a laboratory stretching miles upon miles left abandoned after the planet entered an ice age. Places like that always had plenty of resources left behind so they’d gone down hoping to find rocket fuel.

 

Instead, they’d found Jeongguk floating in a tank of amniotic fluid. 

 

Jimin and Namjoon had pieced together what had happened to him through surveillance footage and lab tapes, only to be horrified by their discoveries.

 

Jeongguk had been nothing but an experiment to his handlers. He’d spent years being abused and tortured, DNA spliced until they’d turned him into some kind of human-wolf hybrid, his handlers uncaring of his agony.

 

And then they’d left him behind.

 

According to their findings, Lycan 1.0 was too aggressive, too hostile. They hadn’t gotten enough right so he’d been worthless, but they had enough data to try again elsewhere. Jimin had been livid, refusing to leave until they’d burned the whole laboratory down.

 

It had taken them days of digging through files to find Jeongguk’s name, to find anything about him before he was Lycan 1.0. They’d pieced together very little about his past ― he was an orphan, the augmentations to his body and DNA beginning when he was only eight ― but Jimin had been grateful to have a name to call the hybrid.

 

Initially, Jeongguk had been hostile. Rightfully so. But they’d been patient, had worked through Jeongguk lashing out until he started seeking them out on his own. As he’d grown comfortable around all of them, Jeongguk became more human than beast. His abilities proved useful in their heists and missions, and Jimin found himself growing fonder and fonder of him.

 

He’d never thought that affection was returned. At least not like this, not with Jeongguk only responding to him.

 

“How long did it take for the powder to wear off on you guys?” Namjoon asks, his glasses now perched on his nose.

 

“A few hours at most,” Yoongi answers, fidgeting with his communicator.

 

“Has Jeongguk shown any change? Like does he seem more like himself?” Namjoon follows up.

 

Jeongguk nuzzles into Jimin’s neck, heat crawling up his spine as his fingers dig into Jeongguk’s arm. “He’s...still not himself.”

 

“Was he hostile with you when you got out of the water Jimin? It’s possible he just imprinted on ― ”

 

“He carried me out of the water,” Jimin interrupts, swallowing.

 

“Jeongguk was the first one to jump into the river after Jimin, too. If he’s reverted back to some primitive state, it started before we got out of the river,” Yoongi adds, pulling up a visualization of the planet. He must be getting fed data by Namjoon because suddenly the planet’s being zoomed in on all the way down to where Jimin assumes they must be. A red dot glows on the surface.

 

“I mean, I guess it could make some sense,” Namjoon says, more to himself than them.

 

Taehyung’s voice comes over their comms and Jimin feels a sense of comfort wash over him. “Whatever they drugged you with is obviously just fucking him up differently. Do you guys feel more, I dunno, agitated?”

 

“We’ve kind of been nastier to each other, I guess,” Seokjin mutters, looking mostly between Yoongi and Jimin. “It just doesn’t make sense  ― ”

 

“They were doing something to him when that fucking beast thing came in. I couldn’t exactly see everything but there was more of that powder,” Yoongi says, slumping down next to Seokjin. “Pretty sure if any of us had been exposed to more of that shit, we’d be dead.”

 

“It’s fucking up his neurochemistry,” Namjoon mumbles, brows furrowed together. Jimin’s pretty sure he’s looking through a medical database to make sense of Jeongguk’s severe reaction. It didn’t help that they knew next to nothing about Jeongguk’s unique physiology.

 

“How far are we from the shuttle?” Seokjin asks, the edge of Taehyung’s face appearing momentarily in the frame.

 

“Hoseok’s sending you the trajectory. You guys have ended up pretty off course,” Namjoon sighs, disappearing from sight. Taehyung takes his position, grinning when he spots Seokjin and Yoongi.

 

“Where’s Jiminie?” He asks, frowning when he doesn’t spot him. Seokjin nods in Jimin’s direction, turning the communicator so it can capture the image of Jimin and Jeongguk.

 

There’s a look in Taehyung’s eyes that Jimin doesn’t want to deal with right now but he’s grateful to see his best friend nonetheless. It’s been a hell of a day. “Hey Tae.”

 

“Damn, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jeongguk hug someone,” Taehyung exclaims, a little awed. 

 

“We need to get you guys back on the ship.” Namjoon’s voice carries over from off the screen. “I need blood samples and possibly a brain scan.”

 

“Yeah, that’s a great idea. Put a feral Jeongguk into an enclosed space,” Seokjin snorts, shaking his head. “He won’t even let us take a step in his direction.”

 

“We can knock him out?” Yoongi offers but he doesn’t look too happy about making the suggestion. Whatever hostility he’d been feeling seems to have drained out.

 

Taehyung clucks his tongue. “Too dangerous. What if he there’s a worse reaction when you mix in tranquilizers?”

 

“I think me and Jeongguk should stay here,” Jimin says, flushing as Jeongguk lets out a rumbling sound, vibrations sinking into Jimin until they disappear. “We can’t risk everyone else’s safety, not until we know what’s going on. The distress signal is coming from somewhere, likely a ship that’ll have some supplies and I can set up communication with the Persona once we’re there.”

 

“And if it’s not a ship?” Yoongi asks, still not okay with Jimin’s idea.

 

“Then that’s a chance we’ll have to take,” Jimin concludes, jaw tightening.

 

“God,” Hoseok’s voice groans out, cutting through all the building tension. “I vote we never answer a distress signal again.”

 

“We’ll just send you down next time,” Seokjin teases, laughing when Hoseok immediately throws back a “Fuck no!” His voice comes out with a tinge of panic and slightly strained like the very thought was terrifying.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay down there by yourself Jimin?” Namjoon asks, appearing back in the projection. 

 

“I’m not alone,” Jimin reminds, shivering when Jeongguk squeezes him just a little tighter. “A-and we’ll be fine.”

 

“What about the blood sample?” Taehyung asks, looking up at Namjoon and then back out at them.

 

“I have a med kit so I can do a scan and maybe Jeongguk will let Jimin take the sample?” Seokjin says, already rummaging through his things again. He zips open the med kit, taking the medical tricorder out and eyeing Jimin. “What do you think?”

 

“Only one way to find out,” Jimin says, pulling away from Jeongguk. He doesn’t like it, growling immediately and clutching Jimin tighter.

 

“Okay,” Jimin sighs, settling back into Jeongguk’s grip. “That’s not gonna work.” 

 

He had no intention of setting Jeongguk off. “How about you just leave the tricorder here and once everyone leaves, I can get a read on him and send it to Namjoon?”

 

“That’s better actually. We might need some regular scans to make sure his condition doesn’t deteriorate,” Namjoon says. “But I need a blood sample.”

 

“Maybe you can come down here and stab Jeongguk with a needle?” Seokjin retorts, already packing the rest of his belongings back into his bag. “See if he likes it.”

 

“I can try,” Jimin offers, ignoring Seokjin’s sass despite the fact that he agrees. “You wanna toss it over?”

 

“Are you gonna be able to catch it?” Yoongi asks, grabbing it off the floor.

 

“Hopefully,” Jimin replies, readying himself. Yoongi feigns a couple of swings before throwing it to Jimin underhand. The tricorder soars in the air, Jeongguk tensing behind him. Jimin has to act quickly, barely catching it as Jeongguk growls but he pulls it to his chest immediately in relief.

 

“Nice catch Jiminie,” Taehyung exclaims and Jimin would say thank you but Jeongguk won’t stop growling, his hold on Jimin loosening as he backs away. His gaze has settled back on Yoongi and Seokjin, eyes narrowed.

 

“Hey Jeonggukie,” Jimin starts, waving a hand in his face. He glances at Jimin, unhappy, ears flattened against his head, lip curling upwards. “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.”

 

Jeongguk doesn’t seem to understand him, crouching lower to the ground. Jimin drops himself down to the same level, knees hitting the rocky terrain. 

 

“There’s an empty vial in there,” Seokjin reminds, all three of them holding their breath as Jimin brings the tricorder down against Jeongguk’s skin. He quirks his head to the right, but doesn’t pull his arm away from Jimin. 

 

“Draw blood,” Jimin instructs the tricorder, watching as a needle pulls out of the machine and finds Jeongguk’s vein all on it’s own. The needle pushes in with ease, Jeongguk blinking. His jaw clenches but Jimin rubs his other arm up and down, murmuring that it’s okay.

 

He’s not sure why Jeongguk trusts him so much but for now, he’s just grateful. How would they have helped him if he’d been hostile toward Jimin too? Jimin doesn't even want to entertain the thought so he pushes it away, smiling at Jeongguk for staying put and letting Jimin take his blood.

 

The tricorder finishes, needle pulling out and Jimin sets it down on the ground, eager to ease any of Jeongguk's discomfort from the situation. There's a low rumble coming from him, an air of distrust surrounding him until Jimin leans in and smooths his hair back. The action, almost like Jimin is petting him, has Jeongguk closing his eyes as he leans into the touch.

 

Jimin would find it awkward but after everything he's been through so far, it doesn't feel weird at all. He doesn't turn back around but addresses Seokjin, "I'll leave the vile here and you guys can pick it up once we leave."

 

“Sounds good,” Seokjin says with a nod. 

 

Jimin extracts the vial from the tricorder and sets it down a little ways away from them. He doesn't want Jeongguk to notice it. “Can you send me a projected path to where the distress signal is coming from, Namjoon?”

 

“Yeah, gimme a sec.”

 

“Shouldn’t they take the pack?” Yoongi questions, glancing at the contents of Seokjin’s pack still strewn across the muddy floor. “If the signal isn’t coming from a ship, you’ll have nothing.”

 

“But what about you?” Jimin asks, suppressing his own reaction when Jeongguk seems to lean closer, nuzzling into Jimin’s neck. He looks over at Yoongi and Seokjin. 

 

“They’re going to be fine,” Taehyung answers for them. “We’ll keep the comms line open until they get to the shuttle and I can run scans of the surrounding area to see if anyone’s coming.”

 

“I’m gonna toss it over, okay, Jimin?” Seokjin says, already shoving everything back into his backpack. He tosses the communicator over to Yoongi who catches it easily before he’s meeting Jimin’s gaze. Jimin nods, his fingers still buried in Jeongguk’s hair.

 

Seokjin swings the bag as close to Jimin as possible but his trajectory’s a little off, the bag headed directly for them. Before Jimin can properly twist around and catch it, Jeongguk’s hand is darting out past Jimin lighting fast. He catches it easily, the agitation in his body erupting in a growl.

 

Jimin’s eyes widen, heartbeat hammering against his chest as he tugs Jeongguk’s arm down, offering him a smile. “Thank you Jeonggukie.”

 

It doesn’t seem to do much. Jeongguk’s heated rage is fixed on Seokjin so Jimin nudges his face back to him, smoothing Jeongguk’s damp hair back one last time. He’s startlingly handsome; Jimin’s chest tightening at the sight of his strong brow. 

 

“Come on,” he says, the words oddly heavy in his mouth, “we gotta go.”

 

He pulls away from Jeongguk who seems to hate it as he scowls, brown eyes flashing yellow but when Jimin goes to take the bag from him, he pulls it away, refusing. He seems entirely too unhappy that Jimin’s not petting him anymore. The thought has heat simmering just under Jimin's skin but he shakes it off, standing back up. 

 

Jeongguk’s expression is unchanged, the scowl only deepening but he follows suit. Despite being barely half a head taller than Jimin, Jeongguk feels imposing. He's always been broad, muscles thick and sinewy, and maybe Jimin's always noticed that even if he now has some more up close and personal experience, too.

 

“Do you guys have any of that powder? It’ll help to know what it’s made of,” Namjoon says, attention preoccupied by something again.

 

Jimin’s communicator dings and he glances down at it, sees that Namjoon’s sent him the location of where he’s pinpointed the distress signal to be coming from.

 

“We definitely don’t have any of the powder,” Seokjin answers. Jimin glances back at his friends, sees the exhaustion he feels mirrored back at him. “But...if we really need it, I’m sure there’s some at the point we were attacked.”

 

“You want to go back there?” Yoongi exclaims, eyes widening in disbelief.

 

“I mean, we’re probably going to have to walk past it to get back to the shuttle.” Seokjin shrugs, like he’s already decided he’s willing to do this.

 

“Shortest path to the shuttle actually means you’ll probably be going through some alien territory again,” Hoseok confirms, the grimace apparent even in his voice.

 

Yoongi lets out an angry huff but nods, “Alright.”

 

Jimin appreciates that Yoongi's calmed down, but anxiety swirls in his belly nonetheless. Everything rests on Jimin finding where the distress signal is coming from now. It makes sense for it to be some kind of ship but the nagging thought that it could very well be some scraps of leftover junk is beginning to grow bigger. Ultimately, they can't take Jeongguk back onto the Persona . That isn't an option.

 

At least they have something of a plan now.

 

“We’re going to get going then,” Jimin says, reaching out to take Jeongguk’s wrist. The action seems to cause Jeongguk some confusion as he stares down at their hands but when Jimin tugs, Jeongguk follows.  He still has the tricorder in his hand, realising that it's the only piece of technology he has besides his communicator. It makes him feel nervous. “Good luck guys! I'll let you know when we get there.”

 

“Contact us if anything goes wrong okay!” Seokjin calls after them.

 

“Don't try to play hero,” Yoongi adds on, the anxiety clear in his voice. “Ask for help.”

 

“Okay, God,” Jimin grouses, giving his friends one last look. 

 

The projected path to the distress signal didn't look too far away from where they currently are. They'd ended up somewhere off to the east, whereas the original path had been a steady walk north. The one benefit seemed that they only had to get through the rainforest whereas Jimin's pretty sure Yoongi and Seokjin are going to have head up and over plenty of hills.

 

The sun’s beginning to rise on the horizon and Jimin can feel the bone deep weariness as he keeps moving forward, uncertainty clinging to him like a shadow. Despite it, Jimin holds firm that they'll get through this. 

 

And as Jeongguk's wrists slips from Jimin's hand, the hybrid stepping ahead, Jimin pushes down every doubt.

 

He's not going to give up on Jeongguk and after today, he knows Jeongguk would never give up on him either.