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The blinding light of a passing daystar is what wakes Jimin up, not the great hand from above. It’s a bit strange to wake up naturally, without the aid of the faceless giant. He rolls over on the sheets, noting that he’s nude and sticky with dried sweat. A blanket covers his lower half and his crystal is right next to his head, pulsing with energy. He reaches out to touch it, exhaling harshly from the rush of endorphins.

He gets up, wobbling for a second before he finds his footing, heading to the bathroom for a soak in some hot water. His body feels tense and strained in a way that doesn’t match how he usually feels after a vision. While the tap runs, he looks around his room, finding no sign that Hanabi was even there before. Good, Jimin says to himself, ignoring the slight pang of disappointment that rings in his gut.

The Leviathan helped him with yet another vision, saving Jimin from death once more. His body doesn’t react the same way to the aftermath of seeing when he’s with Hanabi. And while he can understand that, technically, that’s what’s supposed to happen, he still can’t quite wrap his brain around it. Probably because of all the hatred he still holds for the man. It seems impossible that he would be able to be associated with anything positive as far as Jimin is concerned, he stands for nothing except death and despair.

Jimin shakes his head, stepping into the steaming water in the tub, relaxing against the edges of the basin. Maybe he needs to meditate to clear his head, tapping into that steady, crystal clear part of his psyche. Around him are various aura signatures, but none of them are the pale blue of Hanabi. For some reason, Jimin finds himself searching for the telltale color, but he doesn’t find it. It makes him nervous.

Just when he’s about to call it quits on the meditating, Hanabi’s signature flickers at the very edge of the map. Flickers? No, that can’t be right. Auras don’t flicker, they’re steady, representing the breed of each individual. Even Lopsis Fugas have auras. Jimin concentrates a bit harder, draining his mental strength trying to get a closer look at Hanabi. He flickers again and then starts moving, traveling quite a ways until he stops and stays in one place that Jimin assumes must be his room or something.

His breath leaves in a groan, all his extra energy depleted. Jimin hauls himself out of the tub and goes back to the bed, flopping onto the sheets and curling into a ball around his crystal. He dives back into the lake, relieved to see the thick coils of the creature back again. He swims up to them and places his hand on the smooth skin, watching the way the creature responds to his touch. Nothing falls into the lake today, it’s just Jimin and his guardian, coexisting.

The days on the ship seem to pass in a blur, mostly because Jimin chooses to float in the depths of the lake, unaware of the passage of time. He’s been undisturbed for days, only knowing what day it is by the growing fire under his skin. It’s been about a week since his last vision and he’ll only be able to hold off this next one for so long before he turns into that desperate, nonfunctional mess again and he’d rather not let it get to that.

There’s a soft knock on the door. It’s Hanabi, Jimin can tell. “Litceten, we are arriving at Haddol. Would you like to accompany me down to the surface?”

Jimin narrows his eyes, fresh from a dip in the lake. “Why?”

“I must bathe in the lake in order to be reconnected with my brothers. Yura never mentioned needing you to do anything but I’d rather not take the chance of missing a step.”

Jimin would love to say no, would love to crush Hanabi’s careful optimism but he’s right. It would be catastrophic for either of them to miss a step somewhere and be unable to complete the request of the Fugas. Jimin rolls his eyes, “I will accompany you, but you are not to touch me. Understand?”

“Yes, I understand. I will come back once it is time to leave.”

Jimin pushes himself into a sitting position, rubbing his eyes and stretching. He’s never been to Haddol, obviously, but from what he’s heard it’s a rather unappetizing planet mostly covered in black rock and deep pools. Nothing lives there.

The drawer full of Litceten clothes proves to be deeper than Jimin initially thought. He lays out all of the garments on the bed, then moving to the floor when he runs out of space. The question of where Hanabi got all of this still remains, but it seems an inappropriate time to ask him. Jimin puzzles over the clothes for a while, feeling the fabric between his fingers and examining the chains and jewels hung from delicate waistbands. Eventually, he settles on something sheer and blue.

Litceten clothes are mostly designed for appearance purposes and not functionality. After all, it’s really not the easiest to fold up dresses weighted with gemstones and precious metals, and even harder to wash them. Back home, Jimin’s favorite dress was yellow, decorated with sunstones and silver pieces. He would always get compliments when he wore it, blushing under the praise. He looked good in yellow, a hard color for Litcetens to pull off given their multi-colored hue. Green was the other difficult color, not even Jimin looked good in darker shades of green. Then again, it was hard to find clothes in dark colors anyways. Pastel was the ruling palette of Helasa.

Hanabi doesn’t speak to him when he comes back to the door, leading Jimin to the same lander jet as before, when they went to Tas Undae. It’s awkward and tense but this is what Jimin asked for so he bites his tongue all the way until the doors open on Haddol. He gasps upon seeing the pure black landscape. Dark clouds cover every inch of the sky and the water seems black, too. Dark green foliage is sprinkled between the rocks, but that’s the full extent of the planet, it seems.

Hanabi leads him to the edge of a nearby pool. He squats down and sticks his fingers into the water. He shakes his head silently and leads them to another pool, helping Jimin cross difficult terrain along the way. Hanabi dismisses several pools before he finally nods at the edge of one that Jimin almost thinks he recognizes. Dark, scaly trees and black rocks framing an ebony lake.

Hanabi strips off his shirt, tossing it onto the dark grass. “You can sit there.” he points to a flat rock by the edge of the water. “I’ll just be a minute.”

Jimin nods, trying not to stare at him. He averts his gaze when the captain strips down completely, only peeking up when he’s sure Hanabi has turned away towards the water. Finally, Jimin can see the full extent of the black ink on him, curling around his thigh and stretching across his back - stars and planets and nebulas. It’s a system that Jimin doesn’t recognize, holding two day stars and a centralized ring of planets. Hanabi was born in a fire system, which Jimin didn’t expect. On the back of his calf, Jimin sees the mark of the Imperial Garden, which makes his stomach clench. He should have expected it, but it kind of hurts to see the formal association of Hanabi with the Emperor.

Just when Jimin is about to turn his gaze elsewhere he sees the stand-out constellation of Kubbra, the Litceten, between Hanabi’s shoulder blades. Below the jagged line, like a heartbeat, is the icon of Sin. When Hanabi said he was mobilizing assets to keep Jimin safe, he didn’t quite take the Leviathan seriously, much less expect his secret guardians to be members of Sin - a notorious inter-galaxy gang. Sin is hard to describe by the type of people who are in it, rather, it’s best to say that you can only join Sin if you have a mate and if you’re an endangered breed. It’s a protective agency, but the word protection includes all of the things necessary to protect people; murder, torture, destruction. Needless to say, they are not viewed well by the UNNO. Damn, no wonder Hanabi is priority number one for the police, he’s part of Sin and the captain of the warship destroyer.

But that raises another question in Jimin’s mind. To be part of Sin, to request their protection, you must have a mate. Unless the mark is very, very new, Hanabi would have to have known Jimin was his mate. They must have met before, even for a mere second. It’s possible that Hanabi could have lied to them but somehow Jimin doubts that. Sin must have some type of checking system, otherwise, anyone would be able to get in. Jimin scowls, scouring his memories to find some place where his life and Hanabi’s intersected, however briefly, but finds nothing.

When he looks up, expecting to see Hanabi standing in the water, he’s alone. The surface of the lake is smooth as glass, undisturbed. Jimin rushes to the edge of the water, thinking perhaps Hanabi slipped into the liquid. The pool is deep and dark and Jimin can only see a few inches under the surface. Something moves through the water, large and pale, reaching up towards him.

Jimin stumbles back when he sees a snout, smooth and green, pierce the surface of the water. There’s so many teeth, large nostrils and lizard-like eyes. The head of this mystery monster is about as large as Jimin is tall, could swallow him whole. Easily. The head is followed by neck and more neck and more neck. It’s a serpent that crashes down onto the dark bank of the pool, spraying water everywhere.

Jimin screams, the air forming into the name of the captain, scrambling backwards away from the monster. The great beast slithers toward him with frightening speed, shaking like a dog to rid itself of the water. An amalgamous quality starts to overtake the creature, stretching the skin into strange, grotesque points and shapes, shrinking rapidly until it’s a bag of green skin wrapped around an assemblage of gruesome points. The bag of bones starts to become familiar as it wiggles around, black hair sprouting from one end, and limbs beginning to form. Black patches erupt over parts of now peachy skin, outlining stars and constellations. Arms and legs. It’s Hanabi.

He coughs and wheezes on the ground. “Fuck, sorry. I… I forgot about that part.”

Jimin stays frozen in his spot, gaping at Hanabi as he slowly gets onto his hands and knees, spitting mouthfuls of water onto the black grass. “You’re…”

“A Leviathan. You already know this.” Hanabi gets up, stumbling for a moment before he regains his balance, reaching for his discarded clothes.

“But you’re…” There’s a lot of things Jimin could say here. That Hanabi is, by far, exponentially larger than he predicted, that he’s part of Sin, that he’s capable of shifting back to himself at will, that he’s a source of comfort in the nothingness of space.

Something inside Jimin knows he can’t hold off the tsunami wave that is Hanabi in all his sleek, sexy, seductive, sadistic glory for much longer. If Min, the strongest Lopsis Fuga, told him that he and Hanabi were fated to be together then Jimin himself can do little to protest against the will of the universe. It’s a foolish endeavor but one Jimin feels like he must push against out of principle. How wrong would it be for him to fall into the arms of the man who destroyed his home without even a fight? No, it’s better this way. He can’t give in so easily, as if the lives of all the Litcetens mean nothing. After all, it was supposed to be Hanabi versus Helasa, and Hanabi was supposed to lose. Jimin was never supposed to have a mate, never supposed to meet him, and Helasa was never supposed to have been destroyed. So it feels like Jimin is choosing between honoring his home, his people, or honoring the innate bond he has with the Leviathan. It’s fucked on all fronts.

“I’m older than you think,” Hanabi says as he pulls his shirt back over his head. “That’s why.”

Jimin scowls, remembering the image of teeth nestled into pale green flesh. He’s seen this before. From somewhere foggy and far away the memory calls to him, somewhere beyond - the astral plane. He’s seen Hanabi in a vision, when he ate the Monger in the hallway. Or maybe it was a different Leviathan. Min told him that just like there are other Litcetens out there, so are more Leviathans, hiding in far corners of the galaxies, away from prying eyes.

Jimin stares at him, hating the desire bubbling up in his core. He wants things to go back to the way they were before - with Hyejoon and the wet garden and the stupid gossip on campus - because this is much more confusing. Out here in the real world, things have consequences, dire ones. And Jimin doesn’t know what to say, where to go from here. So he stays quiet, following meekly behind Hanabi as they head back to the lander jet.

The vehicle rattles around them, producing quite a lot of sound but the silence between the two men sitting on either side seems way louder. Jimin swallows and stares at the floor, trying to keep his gaze away from the Leviathan. The astral fire under his skin is building by the minute but he doesn’t want to ask for help. Right now seems like a rather inopportune time; Hanabi is frowning and his eyes are locked on the porthole window where stars race past them. Now that he’s been reconnected with his brothers, the other Leviathans, he’ll know where they need to go. It’s important for him to direct where the ship should set a course to but… But…

“Leviathan.” Jimin doesn’t look up, even when he can feel Hanabi’s attention shift, “Visit me when you are done with your captain’s duties. Please.”

“If you need me now I can-”

“No.” Jimin is quick to cut him off. “I’ll be fine.”

Hanabi nods and leans back in his seat. It’s silent except for the rush of the galaxy outside and the rattle of the lander. Jimin is led back to his room and left alone for a while. The crystal given by Min is sitting where he left it on the bed. It’s warm in his hands and the press of electricity against his forehead is like an orgasm of the mind.

“You called?” Min asks, waving their needle nails through the air in seemingly random patterns.

“Hanabi is not the last Leviathan, correct?” Jimin tries to look around but his vision is locked on Min.

“Correct. He is not the last, but - like you - he is the most powerful of his kind that remains.” Min’s nails stop moving suddenly, in a way that makes Jimin gasp.

“So that makes him the most important Leviathan? Is he a leader of sorts? Will the others be drawn to him?”

“No. Leviathans have a culture very different from the one passed down as traditional fact. The family unit is the mate and offspring, though only until mating themselves. Though your mate is arguably the most important Leviathan, he is not in any position of power over the others, nor will he be able to win them over by virtue of species.” Speaking plainly, that means that Hanabi will not be able to use his own Leviathan-ness as a means to recruit the others. However, for Jimin that will probably be something he resorts to often since Litcetens flock to each other. “He is the most powerful but his position as the most important Leviathan for the future of the species rests on his position with the Emperor.”

“Will he kill the Emperor?”

“There are some futures where he does kill the Emperor but many where he does not. The outcome of that act is one still too far off in the distance for us to make out clearly, but if we determine one course of action to be more favorable, I will let you know.”

Jimin nods, “Hanabi has bathed in the waters of Haddol, so that’s done.”

“Yes, he has. The future changes with each new step you take. And now that the Leviathan has reconnected with his brothers, you are heading for your first target. A Litceten will be nearby, on the same planet. Seek them out.” Min’s third eye flutters.

“I just had one more question about the crystal you gave me. Do I need to charge it or use it sparingly? Will it run out of energy?”

Min smiles, “No, the crystal will not run out of energy. Use it to charge yourself as often as you need to. I did not give it to you for the sole purpose of contacting me. This request, that we Lopsis Fugas have tasked you with, will not be easy; of this, we are completely aware. So we have decided to offer you some assistance in the form of an energy conduit. Do not let the crystal fall into the wrong hands.”

Jimin nods as much as his place inside the moon will let him, “I won’t. Thank you.” His vision fades to blackness and then recolors with the deep palette of the Hanabi warship bedroom. The crystal pulses brilliantly in Jimin’s hands and he makes himself busy searching for places to hide it. Easier said than done as the object itself is quite large and the luminous qualities overrule being covered by pillows or stuffed in a dresser drawer. He still hasn’t found someplace suitable by the time Hanabi comes knocking.

“Did you need me, Litceten?”

“Yes, come in.” Jimin places his singular possession on the bed and sits next to it, watching Hanabi step into the room, lingering by the door. He breaks the silence since it’s clear the Leviathan isn’t going to. “We both know I’ll have to see again. I’d rather just get it over with.”

Hanabi nods stiffly, licking his lips. “Understood.” He stays frozen on the edge of the room, staring at the floor. “Just like last time?”

“Actually,” Jimin swallows thickly, there’s been something he’s been meaning to try. He understands by now that Hanabi’s presence deeply affects the aftermath of a vision so if he can tap into the full potential of that, he can recover faster. “I want you to stay until I wake up, if possible.”

Hanabi’s brow furrows deeply, “Oh. Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Jimin picks up the crystal and moves it onto the bedside table, stroking the smooth sides lovingly, like a pet. “Don’t make me say it again.”

The Leviathan licks his lips. He lets out a strange little huff through his nose before running a stressed hand through his hair. “Okay, sure. I’ll try to stay as long as possible.”

Jimin nods and doesn’t know what else to say, how to initiate them having sex again, so he stands up and strips off his dress, casting it onto the floor. Thankfully it’s enough for Hanabi to understand his silent request. The other man crosses over to the bed, clothes falling to the floor in his hurried rush to undress.

Hanabi always touches his shoulder first, trails his fingertips across Jimin’s collarbones, skims up his neck to cup his jaw. He’s asking for permission to touch him and fuck him and make him see the future. But Jimin’s brain is stuck on that, on the fact that he’s asking for this. Hanabi never asked if it would be okay to kill Jimin’s friends in front of him or blow up his home or ruin his entire life or jeopardize the future of his breed. But this - having sex - is what Hanabi chooses to ask for.

Jimin is stiff when Hanabi traces his fingertips down his chest, brushing lightly past his cock. His mouth drops open when the Leviathan speaks in a whisper, “I can taste how much you hate me.” He huffs a quiet laugh, “Fuck, you hate me so much, Litceten.”

“I hate you with every fiber of my being,” Jimin whispers back. His blood pulses hotly when he thinks about Hanabi being able to taste his hatred, that he’ll always know how much Jimin despises him. The heat in his body starts to pool between his legs. Maybe he gets off on hating Hanabi, on making him suffer.

“Hate me, then. Hate me as much as you want. Fuck,” Hanabi pushes him back against the bed, a hot fist wrapping around his cock, which makes him cry out pitifully, “Hate me, Jimin!”

It’s so easy for Jimin to listen to him. He unleashes all the hatred in his heart and grabs a harsh fistful of Hanabi’s black hair, yanking their faces close so he can bite down into the Leviathan’s lip. The blood that spreads over his tongue tastes like copper and the sweet tang of unripe Seeg berries. He spits the red liquid back into Hanabi’s open mouth, watching rogue droplets splatter across his cheeks and chin. Jimin reaches up to push his thumb roughly against the gushing cut on Hanabi’s bottom lip. The man bares his teeth - stained crimson - at the pain but doesn’t pull away. Jimin bites into the gash once more, enjoying Hanabi’s muted grunt of pain. All the while, the hand on his cock doesn’t stop working up and down his shaft, sending shockwaves of pleasure through his body.

Hanabi shifts his weight, moving his arm over Jimin’s shoulder for better leverage. Jimin wastes no time in turning his head and biting viciously into the expanse of skin. The sweet sound of Hanabi’s whine fills him with pride and satisfaction. His brain is pushing him to hurt the Leviathan more, make him feel one ounce of the pain he has caused not only to Jimin but to all Litcetens. More bitter blood floods his mouth, seeping past his lips and dripping onto the bed. Still, the Leviathan doesn’t move away, just keeps pleasuring him at a steady pace.

Jimin is breaking inside, something shattering and stabbing his heart with shards of glass. His whole body just feels… wrong. His hands worm themselves up over Hanabi’s shoulders and wrap around his throat. A brilliant thrill skates down his spine when he feels the man swallow under his fingertips. He squeezes. Tightly. Harder and harder, pain bursting under his skin, at his knuckles as they try to contract around an ungiving object. More. Make him suffer. This is wrong.

Jimin releases his jaw from Hanabi’s forearm and shakes his head violently, tears forming at the corners of his eyes. His shoulders are locked and his palms hurt and he can’t stop. He can hear Hanabi struggling for breath, feel him swallowing uselessly, and all the while the Leviathan keeps stroking his cock. Jimin’s breath hitches suddenly and then he’s crying and pushing Hanabi away with a rough shove to his chest. “Fuck you! I h-hate you so f-fucking much!”

“I know you do.” Hanabi’s ragged voice is close, somewhere just beyond Jimin’s heavily tear-blurred vision. “But that will not drive me away. Nothing will. I will bleed for you, suffocate for you, die for you. I will do anything for you, Jimin.”

Jimin sobs, grabbing fistfuls of the sheets. He feels like an idiot. He knows nothing will truly deter Hanabi from chasing after his vision of a perfect future, not even biting a hole into his arm. It’s not that he feels bad for doing it, just that it feels like he has officially stooped to a low he wouldn’t normally dream of going to. Hanabi brings out the worst in him. Or maybe it’s just Jimin, forcing himself to be a piece of shit to stop himself from falling in love with the Leviathan. The words sound repulsive and disgusting even in his own head but the sweet craving of them doesn’t go unnoticed. It would be nice to be in love… with anyone other than Hanabi.

The idea of loving Hanabi wouldn’t be half bad if Jimin was able to look past everything the man had done. But he can’t. No, it would be selfish of him to let it all slide just for the sake of his own happiness. So if being an asshole to his ma- the Leviathan is what it takes to keep the distance between them then that’s what he’ll keep doing, even if it ends up hurting both of them. Maybe after this whole business of tipping the scales back into balance is over he’ll consider it. Currently, it is an option that is not on the table.

Jimin cries while Hanabi fucks him and his vision is nothing more than shreds of pictures that make no sense. When it’s over he lays there, limp and out of breath, still crying. The Leviathan shushes him gently, whispering soft nothings into his ear and rubbing his thumb over Jimin’s hip in soothing circles. In the near silence of the room, Jimin can clearly hear Hanabi’s mutterings this time. He’s obsessively talking to himself about being hungry, always hungry but so well fed. Jimin frowns.

Hanabi pushes slow, sensual kisses to the side of his neck, the tip of his tongue peeking out to skate lightly over the skin. Silky black hair tickles Jimin’s face but he’s too weak to brush the strands away. Hanabi’s hair is actually quite long which is probably why he keeps it tied back so often. He does look a bit disheveled when it’s curling wildly around his face - sexy and tousled. His heartbeat is a strong thump against Jimin’s chest and his skin is pleasantly warm, comforting enough to have Jimin drifting off faster than he can truly process. He’s a bit surprised when he wakes up still caged in Hanabi’s arms since he’s not certain of when he actually fell asleep or how long they’ve been laying like this.

Hanabi smells like mint and moss, the crispness of clean water. He’s still sleeping deeply, his face hidden by a curtain of wavy black hair. Each of his slow breaths ghost over Jimin’s nose and lips, humid enough that he can almost taste Hanabi in the air. It seems odd that this moment is so peaceful when just hours ago Jimin bit a hole into Hanabi’s arm, tore his lip open, and flat out choked him until spit was dripping down his chin. And Hanabi never fought back. He takes whatever Jimin gives him.

Something deep inside Jimin suggests that he’s punished the Leviathan enough by now. The idea is quickly stamped out by the burning hatred that still exists inside his heart. Nothing would ever justify the pain of watching Hyejoon’s brain boil in her skull and plop onto the polished wooden floor in pink splotches. Blood pours from her mouth, nose, and eyes. She smiles, just a little bit. Plop, plop… plop goes her brain onto the floor, a thin string of steam rising from the hole in the back of her skull. The images replay over and over again with vicious precision.

“Jimin!” Hanabi finally manages to get his attention. His ears are throbbing with pressure. He’s been screaming. “It’s okay. You’re okay.”

Jimin wants to punch the concerned look off Hanabi’s face. “This is your fault!” He screeches, turning to bury his face into the Leviathan’s bare chest. Strong arms wrap around him and kisses are pushed into his unwashed hair. “Why did you make me watch?!”

“I’m so sorry, Jimin.” Hanabi pulls him even closer. “Knowing all the pain I have caused you will haunt my dreams forever.”

There’s nothing for Jimin to say and his throat is so full of tears that speaking is impossible anyways. The universe seems small and bleak, reduced to little more than the Hanabi warship and the man he so desperately hates and the lake with the creature. Today the beast is restless, coils squirming, twisting with serpentine grace. Between thick stretches of green flesh, Jimin can see flashes of needle teeth, wicked and pale.

Jimin swims up to his guardian and lays a land on the closest stretch of slimy skin. The shudder that ripples through the creature is familiar by now, but the shake that vibrates the water is not. Jimin retracts his palm and looks around for the source of the disturbance, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. He peers down at the poorly lit depths, seeing his own shadow darkening the thick weeds. A small white spark is nestled amongst the vegetation, giving off a faint source of light that upon closer inspection is a sparkling trinket, Litceten in nature. Kids are given these hairpins once they have their first vision. Jimin lost his own some years ago when he was running around in the wet garden. No doubt they were swallowed by the clay, and now the blackness of space.

The hairpins sparkle brilliantly, inlaid with yellow jewels and carved silver. These are not Jimin’s nor do they belong to anyone he knows of. His own pins were decorated with purple and gold, like his skin shift. Litcetens are always some form of gold and purple, some edging more towards blue or yellow. The glitter itself is only visible in the light of a daystar or some other similar source of luminosity. Less of a blinding reflection and more of a soft, sparkly tint to the skin. Actually, there are many species of astral beings that have light-activated color shifts but only Litcetens have the shift across their entire body, including their palms, lips, and the bottoms of their feet. In high octane daystar light, Jimin’s skin is more purple, and in a low octane light, he’s more gold. It depends. Regardless, these pins are unfamiliar to him.

The water shakes around him once more and he looks up towards the rippling surface of the lake, watching the great hand plunge into the depths and grab him. He tries to hold onto the hairpins, the sharp point of the comb teeth cutting deeply into the meat of his palm, but somehow they slip away, disappearing into an abyssal blackness far below. The creature in the lake is gone, only empty water surrounds him as he’s dragged against his will to the surface, breaching it with a gasp.