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the strongest stars have hearts of cypher

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Jin hasn’t ever thought he’d be the type to be nervous on his wedding day. But the bells are chiming and the people are staring and Jin is uncomfortable in his formal tuxedo that shimmers in the light of a nearby star. He stands there, shining shoes on a shining floor and reminds himself of his duty.

Kim Namjoon emerges from the other door, looking irate and not really putting on a show worthy of a marriage that should be uniting two happy young men, and coincidentally linking the two families together in a way, that through the twenty layers of bureaucratic nonsense laws, promoted their families both to Luna class. Namjoon looks handsome, but Jin is more consumed in the feeling of nausea that’s almost overwhelming him.

Namjoon manages to paste on a smile when he makes eye contact with Jin, and Jin tries not to throw up onto the floor. He manages to muster up a smile when Namjoon latches onto his arm, and they both turn to the priest.

“Do you, Kim Seokjin, take this man, Kim Namjoon, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and cherish through times of both famine and fortune?”

“I do,” Jin says, and he’s proud when his voice rings out strong and true. His parents will be proud. Namjoon doesn’t look one bit overjoyed about his, but he manages to look at Jin with a small smile. Jin is overwhelmed by the wrongness of this situation - he doesn’t even know Namjoon’s favorite color, let alone wanting to support him through times of famine and fortune, and all the other things the priest is saying that Jin is tuning out. All he knows of the man he’s marrying (god, he’s about to throw up, the man he’s marrying. He’s not sure what’s worse about that sentence, the man he’s marrying, or the man he’s marrying ) is that his family agreed to this linking, and that Namjoon and Jin will “get along fine.”

Later, when he looks back, he’ll never be sure how he gets through the whole, long, offical affair. He just goes through the steps like he has before in the wedding rehearsal a week before (the first time he saw his soon-to-be-husband) and hopes he doesn’t fumble. From Namjoon’s expression, he suspects Namjoon is doing the same thing. He feels disgusting when he manages to summon a soppy smile directed at Namjoon at the end of it all and when he leans in to press his lips to Namjoon’s - he’s not gay, and this is just all awful, but this is his duty to his family. He must.

After they’ve been married - they’ve been married , he’s married to a man that he doesn’t even know - they step down to the after-wedding party.

They’re supposed to be overjoyed - this isn’t supposed to be an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages were banned by the king a long while ago - back when some Galactia (the social class that was directly below the Universes, who were the king and queen) families were marrying left and right and threatening the king. If people begin to suspect...

Jin is sure his parents wouldn’t have taken the risk if they didn’t have faith he could pull it off, and if they really needed it. His sacrifice will benefit his family for generations.

Jin and Namjoon open the dance like it’s tradition to - they step through the steps they hadn’t needed to practice. They’re both Asterin, and while that’s the lowest class of nobles, they still both know how to waltz even in their sleep. Jin feels almost asleep. He lets Namjoon lead him through the steps of the waltz, ignoring all the eyes and cameras on him, all the hushed whispers. He barely notices the dance floor getting more and more crowded.

As the wedding gets longer and longer, Namjoon turns to Jin and says the first words to him as a husband.

“They said we should go to the shuttle around now.”

Ah, Jin had forgotten about this part - in the hustle and bustle of a wedding ( his wedding) he’d forgotten about what comes after it. Of course, what comes after it is the rest of a marriage. Their life, together. This is his duty, he reminds himself.

“Yeah, okay,” he says, glad he’s making such a great first impression on Namjoon and lets Namjoon lead the way through the crowd. They’re supposed to play the part of lovestruck couple, too in love to even stay through all of their own wedding, escaping onto a honeymoon to be together.

They board the shuttle in silence. Namjoon slides a hand behind his ear to activate his Implant and a Screen pops up in front of him.

Jin looks away, blinking the tears out of his eyes. He’d hoped that maybe Namjoon wouldn’t be so closed off. He’d hoped maybe Namjoon and he were similar enough they’d be able to understand each other well enough that this was for the good of both their families. He’d even hoped that maybe they’d become friends - or husbands, maybe. He’d been watching too many dramas, perhaps, he thinks to himself, pulling up a Screen in hopes of hiding his teary eyes.

He feels the shuttle rumble to life as it’s remotely activated - no doubt his parents have detected their Implants both onboard and started the ship to wherever the hell Jin is going - he doesn’t care enough to know, right now.

He lowers the Screen and says awkwardly to Namjoon, “I’m going to the back.”

It’s awkward, because really, there’s not much protocol for this that Jin has learned. Luna or not (he’s Luna now, so now his family can own moons in addition to asteroids. As a mining family, this had been important to them. Jin takes deep breaths. This was important to them.) there’s not much societal protocol on interacting with your new life partner that’s your fake husband.

He makes his way to the back and drops down on a couch and cries. He can’t handle this, not really. Namjoon is obviously not willing to talk to Jin, and there’s not much worse than being hated by your husband, fake or not.

When the shuttle kicks into hyperspace, Jin allows himself to forget his dignity for a few seconds and let himself cry it out, hiding behind a video playing in front of his face. Thank goodness for Screens - they’re simply holographic screens that float wherever you place them, projected from the Implant put behind people’s ears, and they behave like computer screens.

Jin takes deep breaths to calm himself, after a span of time. He doesn’t know how long it’s been, but the shuttle is jerking out of hyperspace and the planet below them is tugging it in with the gravity.

The shuttle pilots itself to a gentle stop in the off-planet airport and the lights blink on in a silent signal to disembark. Jin gathers himself up and manages to get off the shuttle, stumbling out into the harsh industrial light of a spaceport.

Commoners whisper as Jin and Namjoon walk through the spaceport, Jin trailing Namjoon.

“Namjoon, wait,” he calls out. They’re supposed to be madly in love, not marching single file as if walking to their doom. His wedding (fuck, his wedding) was heavily publicized. He doesn’t doubt that somebody here recognizes him and Namjoon.

Namjoon slows down and allows Jin to grab his hand. Namjoon’s blue cloak brushes Jin’s shoulders as they hurry out of the spaceport, boarding a private pod. The pod recognizes their Implants and automatically launches, almost before Jin has finished buckling himself in.

He looks out the window to avoid looking at Namjoon, rubs the hand that Namjoon was holding on his pants, and watches their destination get closer and closer. It looks like a beach planet - all sand and water like his childhood vacations.

The pod docks at a beach house and silently like everything else he’s done, Namjoon gets out and leads the way to the beachhouse.

The beachhouse unlocks itself upon recognizing Namjoon’s Implant and Jin follows Namjoon in. It’s a nice place, the machinery already buzzing away in the background, big windows, light blue walls, light wooden floors.

“I think the bedroom is this way,” Jin says to Namjoon. He doesn’t mean for it to come out clipped and short, he’s just so stressed right now and he wants to lie down and sleep. Thank god that everybody will already expect that they’ll both spend a lot of time in the bedroom.

He winces. The entire universe will think he, Kim Seokjin is gay, and while being gay is obviously not a bad thing, he’s just - not. His parents expected him to be straight, and that’s exactly what he is - living up to all the expectations his parents have set for him.

The bedroom, thank god, has two beds. Jin is pretty sure it’s because there’s no staff here, nobody to wonder why the married couple has two beds.

“Thank god,” he mutters under his breath. “Can I take this bed,” he says, meaning for it sound like a request, but it comes out like a demand.

It’s like an iron curtain has slammed down on Namjoon’s features. “Sure, have at it,” he says, almost bitterly.

Jin collapses into the bed, formal tuxedo be damned. The sheets smell faintly of lavender, and surrounded by all the trappings of fortune and wealth and marriage and luxury, Kim Seokjin cries himself to sleep on his wedding night.

-

Namjoon doesn’t mean to be so distant, but Seokjin just makes it so easy. He’d half-hoped that whoever he was gonna marry would be just as furious at the system (and just as furious at themselves for submitting to it) but instead he got some uptight conservative as fuck dude.

He sighs, heavily, sitting in the window seat, drops his head into his hands. Gives himself a few deep breaths.

He’d only agreed to this marriage in exchange for more freedom, and he plans to take advantage of that. More time for music, more time for just him. Right after he gets over the fact that he’s fucking married to some rich asshole, who looks homophobic. Some cruel part of Namjoon is glad that he’s married to him, then, if only to make some homophobic guy pissed off.

“Tae, what am I going to do?” he asks. Well, he doesn’t really ask. Taehyung is one of the few people that know it’s an arranged marriage. God, a fucking arranged marriage. Love is meant to be the eyes meeting - then you just know. Maybe your fingers brush together or you exchange small smiles. Not this - golden and gleaming and untouchable and all a facade for money. So fake, unsubstantial. Namjoon sighs and tries to tell himself again it’ll be worth it. He’ll be able to make music now, and he’ll be able to finally be independent from his parents, stretch his wings a little. That’s rare in the noble families.

Taehyung’s voice emanates from the Screen (well, it’s actually from Namjoon’s Implant but it’s hard to tell). “Namjoon, you kinda agreed to this.”

“I know, but let me whine, god.” Namjoon’s voice is muffled as he flops back into the window seat. He can hear movement in the bathroom and he wrinkles his nose. “I think he’s awake now.”

“What’s he like?” Taehyung asks.

“God, I don’t even know. He kept like fucking ordering me around, like - goddamn. What type of asshole does that? When I agreed to marry him I didn’t know he’d be like this. Aw, fuck.”

“I’m sure it’ll get better,” Taehyung soothes. “He’s probably just as stressed as you.”

“He’s literally a little robot, except robots are more creative. His parents could probably tell him to like, fucking jump off a cliff and he would,” Namjoon counters, feelings petulant and vastly tired and regretful. Independence, he reminds himself. Freedom, away from his parents, rare in this carefully constructed world.

“You guys are all over the media,” Taehyung remarks, attention half on another Screen. He adjusts Namjoon’s screen so he can see the article Taehyung’s pulled up.

TWO ASTERIN BOYS FALL IN LOVE the article blares. There’s a picture of him kissing Seokjin at the wedding. He wipes his mouth just thinking of that kiss. He sighs. “I hope all this attention dies down soon. Aw, fuck, I totally didn’t think he was gonna be like this.”

“Is he really that bad?” Taehyung says. “Give him a chance. Oh, shit, I gotta go, I’m late -” he says, a Screen popping up on his right, flashing red. He flinches. “Okay, okay,” he dismisses the Screen. “Bye, Namjoon. Good luck with that, ‘kay? I’m here for you,” he says, glancing into the Screen as he ends the call.

Namjoon covers his eyes as he lies in the sun. He fully intends to spend the next few days as far as he can from Seokjin.

-

Jin, for his part, is proud that he’s stopped crying himself to sleep. This is his duty, and he must stand by it. Forget that Namjoon obviously hates him, forget that everybody thinks he’s gay when he isn’t. Forget that Namjoon obviously loathes him and looks down on him. Whatever, Jin is strong - he’ll stand by his family. He can stand by this.

The shuttle is piloting them back to - actually, he doesn’t know. The past few days, for lack of a better word, have been normal. Or as normal as a new marriage you were pushed into can be. Jin had (between crying himself to sleep, because he’d done a fair amount of that too) watched his shows, taken walks on the beach, and allowed himself to bake food he knew nobody was going to eat. He misses his siblings, but - this is for the family. This is so his little brothers and little sisters can live a better life, and their children, and their grandchildren, and on and on and on.

The shuttle that carted him from his wedding to his honeymoon to his new house docks straight onto the ground. Ah, so it’s an asteroid, then. That’s fine, Jin would rather not live on a moon for now.

“Uh, Namjoon?” he calls, as he exits the shuttle. Namjoon is breathing gently, eyes closed, obviously asleep on a couch near the shuttle exit. Jin walks over and hesitantly pokes him.

“Go ‘way,” Namjoon mumbles into the fabric of the shuttle seats.

“We must depart,” Jin says, wincing at the formality and tone of his voice and words.

Namjoon turns over and glares at the ceiling of the shuttle. “Yeah, thanks, loverboy. Gotcha. You can go on without me - hope you don’t expect me to carry you over the threshold.”

Jin would wince at Namjoon’s cutting words, but he guesses he deserves it. It’s not like he’s extended some olive branch of peace anytime soon. He doesn’t understand how, he can’t see the societal rules or conventions to follow. He feels awkward, out of his element.

He turns and leaves the shuttle. He hears Namjoon groan as he gets up, padding behind Jin.

This asteroid is quite nice - it’s got a nice view of the other asteroids in the belt and the belt itself isn’t heavily settled.

To Jin’s surprise, even without them drawing close enough for their Implants to signal the house to begin working, the lights are already on and the solar panels are already charged up.

Jin stops in his tracks, leaden weight in his stomach. This can only mean one thing - he’d completely forgotten - but -

“We’ve got servants.”

It’s not a question, Jin notes. Namjoon seems just as resigned as he does, just as aware of the implications.

“Yes,” he says. He hates that he sounds so formal, but it’s simply a byproduct of high society. He can’t help it, anymore than he can help Namjoon’s obvious disgust towards him.

Namjoon just gives a sigh. He swishes past Jin (his cloak is a deep green today) and the grand doors swing open for him. Jin already feels like an unwanted guest, an outsider in his own house.

The double doors open into a foyer, designed with a lot of green. Jin likes that. Green is his favorite color. There’s a lot of plants here. Big windows, lovely pastel walls. It’s designed big and bright and airy, like a forest felled for a home.

It feels foreign, strange, pressing close around Jin.

A stoic butler comes forever and bows to Namjoon, and then to Jin. “Welcome, sirs,” they say. “You both must be tired from the trip.”

The butler is probably around Jin’s father’s age. Jin steps forward with a smile on his face, laying a casual arm on Namjoon’s arm. He’s got to find out if the servants are allowed to be on it. He doubts it - rival families will no doubt have spies already in their house staff. “Yes, thank you. Me and my beloved husband will retire now.” He waits for a response.

“Yes, sir. We’ll take your things to the bedroom. Please follow me.”

And that’s it - the game is up. A stone sinks to the bottom of Jin’s stomach. The servants aren’t in on it - he can’t even be safe in his own home. God. He can only hope once the dust has settled things will settle too. Maybe things will settle, the cards will fall, and fortune will deal him a better hand.

Namjoon and Jin trail the butler to the door of the bedroom. “Anything else for you, sirs?” the butler says.

“No, thank you,” Namjoon says. Jin belatedly realizes his hand is still on Namjoon’s arm. “We’d like to have some time alone.” He raises his eyebrows meaningfully. “I assume everything is...furnished?”

“Yes, sir,” the butler replies, with a great deal of tact. “Everything you two would need.”

Jin really hopes the housestaff haven’t gone out and bought sex toys for them.

“Thank you,” Namjoon says, smiling at the butler. “That will be all.”

“Very good, sir,” the butler says, already disappearing. Namjoon opens the door for Jin and then closes the door behind the two of them.

“Oh, god. Fucking goddamn hell,” is the first thing Namjoon says as soon as the door falls shut behind them.

Jin winces at the vulgar language, but privately he agrees. There’s a lovely big bed, in the middle of the room, sheets white and crisp, pillows fluffed, warm blanket.

There’s one lovely big bed.

Jin turns around, maybe looking for a couch of any sort. Nothing. Only a stray houseplant.

“Okay, well,” Jin says. “It’ll be fine.”

“Do you wanna sleep on the floor?” Namjoon asks.

“Me?” Jin says, can’t keep the incredulity out of his voice. “The floor?

So he tries his best not to be a snobby, stuck-up, prissy noble, but he does have standards he’s used to, and one of those is a nice, clean bed at the end of every night.

Namjoon rolls his eyes. “Would you rather a couch outside?”

“I would, actually,” Jin bites, “but the servants will wonder, and you know it as well. And when the servants wonder, the public hears.”

“Fuck,” Namjoon breaths, leaning back, running hands through his hair. “Fuck it all. Whatever. Already fuckin’ married, won’t make a difference.”

“I need a bed,” Jin says, because as much as he wants to keep the peace, he’s really not about to sleep on the floor for the rest of his life.

“So do I!” exclaims Namjoon. “I fuckin’ demand a bed too. I’m a fucking prissy noble too. Maybe we can order two beds.”

“And risk the government inspecting us? They’re already suspicious - and risk the marriage being annulled and us thrown into jail? We’d be laughingstocks, the family reputation would be beyond repair -”

“Fuck off, I get it,” Namjoon says darkly. “It’s not a problem. I’ll take the left side.” He goes to stomp somewhere and then stops. “Where’s the bathroom?” he asks.

“Uh,” Jin says, feeling helpless. “It’s probably attached. Try that door,” he points.

“Thanks,” Namjoon mutters, awkwardly, closing the door behind him. Jin hears the water running in the shower and then he groans and sighs and lands on his (fuck, it’s their bed now) bed. Now he can’t even cry himself to sleep without Namjoon probably punching him if he so dares to make a sound.

-

Ironic how this marriage was all about promoting their families to Luna but they’re relegated to live on an asteroid, Namjoon thinks darkly to himself as he steps out of the shower. It’s a nice bathroom. The towel rack hands him a towel and he pumps his music higher. He’s just pissed off, that’s all. About the servants, not at them. He’d expected that at least in his own home he’d be able to stop acting. Stop lying, just for a few moments, but damn. Damn, even with all this, Namjoon feels lighter than he has in a while, and it’s not just because of a beach vacation.

Goddamn, but if it isn’t worth it for the freedom. Even with having to live with Seokjin, just not being under his parent’s roof is a burst, a breath of freedom. Not a lot of nobles ever get this. It’s not like his parents are awful, just that Namjoon stifles under the weight of expectations and hopes and bars to jump over and hoops to jump through.

The clothing Screen automatically pops up when he’s dry. It’s still set to the last outfit he wore, the one with his favorite green cape. Capes are horribly out of fashion, but Namjoon likes them. He’s liked them since he was a little kid, so he figures now since his parents aren’t here to stop him, he might as well wear them everyday.

Maybe not to sleep, though. That would be overkill, and this comes from the same kid who wore sunglasses to sleep for a good year. Goddamn, he thinks to himself, flicking to his pyjama preset. He won’t be able to sleep shirtless now - Seokjin is so uptight and noble and fucking scared of being gay he’d probably have an aneurysm and as much as Namjoon doesn’t wanna live with the guy, he’s also not that huge of a jerk. (Plus, he doesn’t wanna go to prison for murder.)

Well. He’s kinda been a jerk, unloading and dumping all his worries and frustration on Seokjin. He’s kinda been a jerk, having all these prejudices against Seokjin. He tries to put it out of his mind, but an image, unbidden, rises out of the depths of his mind. Seokjin, crying softly into his pillow because he thinks Namjoon is deaf to him.

Taehyung is right. He hasn’t really given Seokjin a chance, but it’s just so hard to, when Seokjin just goes along with the system so easily, bowing to the old ideals of duty. Bowing to arranged marriage, bowing to false love. Love is once in a lifetime, love is an instant and love is forever.

The pyjamas Namjoon selected drops out of a chute on the ceiling, already pleasantly warmed. He puts them on absentmindedly, thinking about the beat of the song he’s listening to and how the vocals are just slightly behind where they should be. He thinks, personally, that he would’ve inverted that chord.

Seokjin is lying on the right side of the bed when Namjoon walks back into his bedroom. Fuck, their bedroom. Fuck, their bed.

Aw, fuck.

Namjoon clambers around to the left side of the bed. He lies down, acutely aware of Seokjin by his side. He pulls up a Screen and doesn’t do anything with it. Namjoon lies there, on the left side of the bed, and thinks. This is how it’s going to be, for the rest of his life. He’ll sleep on the left side of a bed, his bed, their bed, because he’s married. To somebody he doesn’t love. He’s overwhelmed with a wave of regret, maybe. Sadness, nostalgia - he doesn’t know.

“Seokjin,” he says. “I’m sorry.” Even he’s not sure what he’s apologizing for - agreeing? Being here? Being a fucking jerk?

He isn’t sure if he can go through with this, even though he knows he has to, right now. To be honest, his parents hadn’t really given him much of a choice - they’d told him to go, and he’d gone. He’s really no better than Seokjin and all of them. He’s been strutting around, all high and mighty, sure he’d had the moral high ground, but honestly - he’s no different from Seokjin.

“It’s fine, Namjoon,” Seokjin says. Namjoon’s stomach clenches - he doesn’t deserve Seokjin being so nice, so polite, so understanding. He wonders what Seokjin thinks Namjoon is apologizing for - maybe for taking the bathroom first. Namjoon himself isn’t even sure what he’s apologizing for.

“Okay,” he says, because he can’t think of anything else to say. It’ll be alright, he tells himself, putting on his sleep playlist. This won’t affect his daily life, really. Just perhaps where he falls asleep, but that’s it. It’ll be fine. His parents had told him that they’d arranged a marriage, and then he’d bargained his way to some limit of independence. It’ll be fine - the servants don’t change much except where he sleeps.

He turns so that his back is to Seokjin. They’ve got more in common than he thought, he muses. It’s not like he’d had the guts to stand up to his parents, anyways. Not like he’d had the guts to tell them to get lost. He’d given in, just like Seokjin had. He’s just been lying to himself, focusing on the freedom he’s getting - but not constantly being around his parents is so lightening. He resigns himself to the bed-sharing. It doesn’t really matter, this bed is more than big enough for the two of them.

He hears gentle breathing from Seokjin’s side of the bed and is suddenly struck with a thought - Fuck, I snore.

Sorry, Seokjin.