Part I: Jackson
ante bellum - Before the war
There is nothing so great and terrible as love.
That was what Jackson's mother had told him when he was a child. It was love that stayed her hand from killing him as she had done with his siblings. Love that kept her from returning to the ocean as nymphs did when they were no longer with child.
Jackson had thought he understood love. He loved his mother and father, loved his half siblings, loved his people. Jackson loved his dogs and his teachers and the gods.
Then he met Mark.
Mark who stood stock still next to his father all long limbed and narrowed eyes. The boy watched the war room with dark eyes that took in everything as if they were the enemy to be defeated. At first Jackson hadn't paid much attention to the boy who was little more than a reed amongst the sea of men, not even when the deep brown eyes fixated on him. The weight of the boy's stare had made the veteran warriors of his father's council shake so Jackson felt no shame when the tremor in his heart vibrated out to his hand. Then just as quick as the eyes had fallen upon him they were gone leaving Jackson feeling as exposed as a peeled fruit. When the boy and his father eventually made their way to the war table Jackson noticed a shift in his father. His father eyed the two like he eyed a particularly difficult puzzle.
Later when the war table had adjourned for the day Jackson's father called the boy calculating. His father said that the Tuans were master strategists, their children were taught from birth how to be quick thinkers. Nearly as quick as Jaebum who was barely older than Jackson and had figured out the best course of action for the beautiful Yugyeom’s hand in marriage and secured his own with Yugyeom’s brother.
"Just like you my son, that boy is destined for greatness and tragedy."
It wasn't until 10 years later that Jackson could even begin to understand.
"Jackson!" Looking over Jackson saw Mark grinning ear to ear carrying a deer on his shoulders.
The once small boy had grown in the last ten years like the reed Jackson had once compared him to. Mark was now a whole head taller than him but still a small thing filled with more sinew than muscle. At twenty-three Mark was Jackson’s shadow, often being called Jackson’s dog though the older paid no attention. The only person who Mark took criticism from was Jackson himself even if it meant he was the subject to beatings or insidious rumors. Mark’s unflinching loyalty is what kept Jackson’s father from killing him or sending him back to his family when Mark would refuse orders or argue.
As Mark set the deer down for the cooks to collect it for dinner Jackson couldn't help but cringe. Soaked into the white tunic along the broad shoulders and smeared across the long neck was blood, bright red and violent. For just a brief moment a glimmer appeared of Mark soaked in a river of red and once bright eyes dulled in death. Jackson felt as if fletched arrows had lodged themselves in his body instead of Mark’s.
"Jackson?" Blinking back to this realm Jackson found Mark had crossed the room, lips dipped in a worried frown. Now Mark stood in front of him, long fingers curled against his jaw. "Where did you go?"
"You die." Jackson knew it. He knew it as sure as Apollo would bring the sun in the morning and Poseidon the waves at the shore. It was not the first prophecy he had been witness to but this one shook him to his core. Wrapping his arms around Mark he pulled the man close, the smell of drying blood nearly gagging him.
"We all die Jackson." Mark held him back, the lean arms holding him tighter than his mother did when he was a child. Long red stained fingers carded through his dark hair while lips brushed his forehead in comfort. Jackson didn’t know how to make him understand. "It's the natural cycle."
Touching just below his neck at the apex of Mark’s shoulders Jackson whispered, "here." Then lower between two ribs, "here." And finally the middle of the spine that would seal Mark's fate, "here." Mark was silent for a long time though he never released his hold of Jackson. The fingers still carded in his hair but Jackson could hear the hurricane of thoughts whipping through Mark’s head.
Since that night in the war room he and Mark had been inseparable. Mark's father had left him to be raised as Jackson's right hand just as their fathers had been raised before them. Mark had been thirteen to Jackson’s twelve, both considered men by their kingdoms. Mark had been there for every scheme, every tear, every scream swallowed by the darkness when the weight of his godhood felt like it was melting his bones from the inside. Jackson wasn't sure if he would survive the loss.
"I love you." Mark's words were a small whisper. "No matter what the gods have in store for us I will follow you." Looking up Jackson took in Mark's determined stare. The brown eyes were always calculating unless they rested upon him. Mark had once told him that he didn't need to think with Jackson, everything was instinctual. Being with him stopped the constant churn of thoughts, the endless strategies spinning out like spiderwebs. "Even if it means my death."
"They can’t have you." Rocking up onto his toes Jackson kissed Mark. Sliding his hands up over the rapidly drying blood now tacky in the summer heat Jackson gripped the near black strands of hair feeling the desperation building. The gods could not take Mark from him, he refused. Tracing his tongue against the seam of Mark's lips he sighed happily when the olders tongue slid across his. Mark’s hands slid down from his hair to pull their bodies flush together, fingers already trembling with restraint to not tear fabric.
They might have gone farther if not for the shattering of pottery on stone. Pulling back from the kiss Jackson peaked over to find his mother frowning deeply, depthless eyes fixed on the red smears that they now shared. At her feet lay a tea set in pieces.
"Mother." Jackson smiled though he refused to let Mark go when the older attempted to move. He would no longer hide from his parents. Mark had been his lover since they found each other in the dark on Jackson's fifteenth birthday. Mark wasn't even a year older than him but he had pressed him into the sheets swallowing the moans and cries of pleasure. Nearly a decade later Jackson was tired of dodging his parents questions and turning down pretty girls who were brought before him. "How are you?"
"What is this?" His mother's voice was pitched low. Around them Jackson could feel her power make the slabs of stone tremble but he would not be moved. His mother’s rage was building around them like a churning storm filling the air with the smell of salt water. Still he wouldn’t be cowed.
"This is exactly what it looks like." Jackson tucked his face into Mark's neck, his body a shield against his mother's wrath. If she wanted to hurt Mark she would have to come through him.
"You could live a long happy life in obscurity." His mother tempted for the hundredth time. "You don’t need fame or glory or him." She paused, eyes fixing on Mark filled with rage and terror as only a mother facing the loss of a child could feel. "He will be your death."
"And I will be his." Jackson felt Mark tremble though the older did not move away. "I've seen it." A wave of sadness washed over his mother's face. "I will not be parted from him again." Mark's fingers clutched tighter in the fabric of his clothing. Neither of them had quite forgiven her for that. The only time in the ten years they had been parted still itched like a barely healed scab. "You tried once on Skyros but I am no longer a child."
Under her heavy gaze Jackson felt like a child. Felt as if he was arguing dinner and not his life or his heart. Had Mark not been there, body gripped viper tight around his, Jackson wasn't sure if he would have been able to argue with his mother. Jackson knew it was simply because she loved him that she was this protective. She had tried many times since his birth to whisk him away to live out a long life tucked far from war and gods and the greed of men but each time he was returned by his father’s will or his own.
Time seemed to hang suspended until she's turned on her heel and left them.
"Now she really hates me." Mark sighed into his hair. Jackson had hoped she would have accepted them but as usual Mark had been right. "Join me for a bath so I can scrub the blood off?"
Jackson nodded studying the red that now also coated his fingers. He was a child of the gods, surely he could change their fate. Right?
In the bath Mark washed Jackson’s hands with the scented oils until no trace of red lingered on his fingers. In return Jackson straddled his lap and methodically scrubbed off the dried blood until only wam tanned skin remained. Even without the red painted on his skin Jackson still couldn’t shake the image of Mark cold and pale in death. Sensing his mind wandering Mark pulled him down into a kiss, fingers skimming along his chest.
“You’re thinking too much.” Mark whispered against his lips. Already Mark’s hands were running firmly up his thighs to grip and knead at the muscle.
“Funny coming from you.” Jackson snorted. Between his legs he could feel himself hardening at Mark’s touch. “There is going to be a war council tonight.”
“Yugyeom was taken by Jungkook.” Mark hummed absently. Mark had told them that it was going to happen, the goddess Aphrodite had promised the young prince to Jungkook during a trial and the will of gods superseded that of mortals and their promises. “There is nothing we can do about it now so relax for me.” Teeth grazed his neck while nails bit into the curve of his ass exactly how he liked it. “Relax for me Jackson.”
Under Mark’s direction he was unable to do little else than to listen. Mark made everything make sense. He stripped the noise away until Jackson felt like a normal man of flesh and bone instead of a child bound by prophecies. Under Mark’s careful hands and soft words Jackson let himself be swept up in the sheer pleasure that Mark drowned him in until he came shaking with Mark’s name on his tongue. When they emerged from the bath pruned and sated they laid on their shared bed. Closing his eyes as he rested his head on Mark’s chest, Jackson began to formulate his own strategy.
Jackson would shatter the heavens to save Mark.
Part II: Yugyeom
actus me invito factus non est meus actus - the act done by me against my will is not my act
Yugyeom sat in the gilded palace surrounded by servents, silks, and food. Jungkook had come to his home and spirited him away from under his husband’s nose in the dead of night. The goddess had given him as a prize though as gods were want to do, did not consult him. Now they had stopped in Egypt on their way to Troy and all Yugyeom wanted was to return home to his husband.
If his husband would still want him after this.
Jinyoung was kind and good to his people but Yugyeom already heard the rumors. The story was not that he was drugged and dragged from his home but that he left willingly and spit on his husband’s name. It had been less than a week and all Yugyeom could think to do was cry as he was guarded night and day. After the waking to find the rumors that morning the order came that all knives were to be removed from the room save the sword that hung on Bambam’s belt. Jungkook had left his brother to watch over Yugyeom and make sure he did not escape while Jungkook wined and dined with the Pharaoh.
“You look sad little bird.” Bambam spoke from the corner. “Is it really that bad?” Scowling Yugyeom tried to ignore him. While Bambam wasn’t large enough to be thought of as a warrior the man was fast. If stories were to believed he was the best warrior in Troy. “Tell me your woes little bird.”
“Call me that again I’ll run you through with your own sword.” Yugyeom gritted his teeth. Maybe he could enrage the other enough to kill him before they got any farther on their journey. Perhaps if he died it would convince everyone that this was not what he wanted.
"It would be easier to smile." Bambam tilted his head sizing him up. "The goddess would not ha-"
"Shut up." Yugyeom stiffened at the mention. They were all acting like he should be grateful that he had been taken. That somehow he was wrong for wanting to go home to his husband. "I want to go home to my husband."
A snort sounded, "you're on your way home and I'm your husband." Looking up Yugyeom saw Jungkook in the doorway with a man and woman on each arm. Any anger that he had fled as fear swallowed him, heart kicking in his ribcage like a hare in a trap. "We leave for Troy tonight. Join me in my bed?"
Trying to remember his earlier plan to bait Bambam into killing him Yugyeom squared his shaking shoulders. "No." Even as his whole body trembled in fear Yugyeom would not be moved.
"Suit yourself." Jungkook shrugged. Looking over a Bambam he added, "Kill anyone who tries to bed my husband. He'll sleep with me or with no one."
Yugyeom waited until the doors closed before he wilted and sobbed into his hands. He sobbed until Morphus in his kindness granted him a dreamless sleep.
10 years Later
Yugyeom sat upon the battlements of Troy watching as the war waged. He spent most of his waking hours watching the smoke rise from the battle field. Often the air stank of death and burnt flesh from the never ending pyers. Many had taken to calling him a statue for all his tears had been used up. Had he thought to collect them he could have dumped them in the Nile so the river would have overflown and taken them all. Even as the Greeks fought Yugyeom had stopped hoping to make it home. The new word was his husband, his true husband, wanted his head for betraying him. Once that would have driven him to tears, made him utterly inconsolable, but not now. Not after ten years of being captive.
Jungkook had kept his word. He had not forced himself into Yugyeom's bed though there were many who had tried. Over the last 10 years he had come to be friends with Bambam, as much as a prisoner could be friends with their warden. Aside from Bambam the only people permitted within range of Yugyeom were the dwindling house staff. The people of Troy were becoming bitter that so many of their boys were dying and for what? A Grecian prince who wouldn't spread his legs for his husband.
Yugyeom wondered of he was going to get his wish to be slain after all.
"Yugyeom." Jungkook's voice no longer instilled fear. Yugyeom had been at his mercy too long. Jungkook never put hands on him but did not stop others from doing so. Yugyeom's one fair skin now held more scars than he remembered to count. The last few years Bambam had taken it upon himself to curb the violence being done. The warrior said there was no honor in beating someone who wouldn't fight back. "You're needed."
Following Jungkook out Yugyeom didn't even blink as the people hissed and spit his name. They walked through the falling palace and into the streets lined with angered and starving citizens. The ten year war had long taken its toll on Troy. The once splendid city was now falling apart and its people dying by the hundreds each day from sword or hunger. Not the rats outnumbered the citizens thirty to one. The main road that had been smooth when they first arrived was riddled with holes and bloated bodies that were baking half alive in the sun. Yugyeom wished he could say that the sights horrified him, that he felt appalled, but it would be a lie. After ten years living in a besieged city nothing, not even the bodies of children could incite horror in him anymore. As the walked Yugyeom wondered if the people eyeing him venomously would surge forward and kill him. He sent a prayer to Hades for a swift knife to the heart though the god seemed to ignore his please as much as his siblings did.
Arriving at the their destination Yugyeom let himself feel just a tiny bit of awe. There in the gates stood a massive wooden horse. It stood impossibly high and was crafted so beautifully Yugyeom didn't believe the man when he said the Grecians had built it from their boats. Noticing he was being watched Yugyeom slipped back into his armor, face falling flat.
"The Grecians say it is a gift but Jaebum is too clever by half." Jungkook spoke knocking on the wood listening. It didn't surprise Yugyeom that his brother-in-law was here. Jaebum, nearly as clever as the gods, had sworn an oath to Jinyoung that night even as he made plans to marry Yugyeom's brother Youngjae.
The thought of Youngjae brought him sorrow. It had been so long since he had permitted himself to think of his brother. Youngjae was half as clever as Jaebum which meant he often went circles around other men. Several years ago an envoy had told them Youngjae would not wed another until he wove Jaebum's funeral shroud. It was said no matter how long Youngjae worked, no matter how many eyes watch, the shroud never made progress. Yugyeom prayed Jaebum would survive this and make his way home. If Yugyeom couldn't have a happy life he hoped his brother would.
"Yugyeom?" Next to him Jungkook's father King Namjoon gently touched his shoulder. Once Yugyeom would have flinched but he had learned that showing fear only made things worse. So now he showed nothing at all. Not even to Namjoon who look at him the way all other did, with pity and longing. The urge to do something to make himself less desirable flared back to life. Already he bared a scar that spanned from left jaw to just under his left eye. He had wanted it to go across his face but Bambam had caught him and wrestled the knife away. "Do you know what this is?"
"Haven't you ever seen a horse?" Yugyeom asked blandly. King Namjoon sighed but did not strike him like many of the others had. Of all the people in Troy only King Namjoon and Bambam had shown him kindness. Walking around the horse Yugyeom studied it with half seeing eyes. "There are no openings or holes. No place to climb down even if someone managed to stay hidden from the archers on top." Looking back he shrugged. "Did you really ask me to come look at a giant wooden horse?"
Jungkook raised am unimpressed eyebrow. "Talk to it." Yugyeom gave him a flat look. "You can make your voice sound so sweet when you want to. Speak to it and see if anyone answers back." Yugyeom looked at the horse again. He hadn't sung in all the years he had been captive. His voice attracted too much attention and all he wanted to do was be left alone. A songless bird locked in a gold cage.
With a deep sigh Yugyeom softened his voice and spoke enticing things to the horse. Asked for any one inside to come out, that there was wine and food and people willing to fuck. The horse remained quiet as the grave. Under Jungkook and the general’s heavy stares Yugyeom glared. He knew what they wanted, his voice had once been the envy of kingdoms. Even those who could not see his face could hear his voice and said he was divine born.
Attempting to sing Yugyeom found that his voice had gone flat, the years of steely silence had destroyed what had once been one of his proudest qualities. The notes no longer held their tones, his throat cracked and after only a few words Yugyeom fell silent again. Touching his throat he true wave of grief threatened to shatter him. For the barest flicker of a moment Yugyeom remembered how much Jinyoung loved his voice and now it was gone. Before the emotions could overwhelm him Yugyeom retreated further into himself.
Not bothering to put on a show for them any longer Yugyeom turned heel and began his walk back to the palace. Maybe the horse was filled with people. Yugyeom hoped if it was they would wash through the city like a wave and leave nothing it its wake. He hoped they would kill all in the palace and not realize who he was until his throat was slit.
Yugyeom simply wished to rest.
Part III: Mark
bellum se ipsum alet - war feeds itself
If Mark never saw the color red again it would be too soon. Ten years of being at war had left Mark exhausted both body and soul. There was no strategy to this any longer, it was simply who could hold out. Everyday they would go out onto the battlefield, fight to an impasse, and then drag their dead off. The only time there were breaks were the Sabbats or when they agreed to temporary truce to honor the dead. Standing on the now empty field Mark looked at the bodies surrounding him in both Grecian and Troy regalia all smeared red. Their opponents were getting younger and younger while there were times Mark swore there even women fighting. Not that he wasn’t used to women warriors, he had met Amazons and his father had taught him the the value them on the field, but the women in armor were not warriors. They were what was left in the city. There was no glory in killing children or civilians.
Off on the side of the city Mark saw his scouts slipping in the procession of men taking the bodies back to be burned and honored. The scouts that had been slipping in and out of the city said that they saw what they believed was a statue of Yugyeom for no person could hold themselves that sill or cooly and be of flesh. Mark had believed Yugyeom had simply given up and retreated to the only place that could not be taken, his mind. His suspicions had been confirmed with the newest intel that said Yugyeom was indeed alive but the once happy and bright man moved like a shade. There were reports of beatings and even that there had been attempts at Yugyeom take his own life. Naturally Mark had taken these to Jinyoung and the war council but the longer the war stretched the less people were inclined to believe Mark’s intel. When it was reported that Jungkook was never sighted in Yugyeom’s bed Jinyoung had become enraged and called both the scout and Mark a liar.
"Sir!" A shout across the battlefield drew his attention. Approaching Jackson stormed across the blood soaked mud, unarmored and looking dangerously annoyed. After failing at capturing the city, again, Jinyoung had gone on such a rage that he managed to insult even Jackson. Not that insulting his lover was hard these days. Where Jackson had once been warm and soft there was edges. He had become as war hungry as the rest and every day the wick to his temper shortened. It was only a matter of time until Jackson snapped and Mark was helpless to do anything to stop it.
The war had taken its toll on all of them.
"You were told to stop fighting." Jackson scowled at Mark's blood stained armor. "I ordered it." Mark grit his teeth. "Am I not your commander?" Something finally broke in Mark. Maybe it was the wild look in Jackson’s eyes, or fact he would have to send off more of his men to Hades, or the fact he was just so gods damned tired.
Squaring his shoulders Mark leveled an unimpressed look. "At the moment? You’re just an ass." Mark turned to leave but Jackson gripped his wrist tightly jerking him back. Looking down, then back up Mark frowned deeply to cover the fact his heart was breaking. After a moment Jackson realized what he did Jackson released him and looked regretful. "You were once a better man than this. Should you find him again tell him that his husband is waiting." Walking over the bodies surrounding them Mark left the battlefield leaving Jackson behind.
Within the confines of his tent Mark's brain was shattering into a thousand pieces. Once Jackson had been his solace, the one person who made the endless whirling of his brain stop. Now Jackson had him looking at maps and supply lines, dragging out war meetings longer and longer until Mark was nearly blind. There were always strategies being planned in Mark’s head but Jackson and Jinyoung seemed to have forgotten he was a human. Each failed strategy had them pushing him harder than his successful ones.
Mark wished they could go back to their home. Back to where their only concern was Jackson's mother and her disapproval. Even if he never saw those shores he wished for his Jackson to return to him. Not the glory hungry man that wore his face. It had been more than two years since he and Jackson had touched each other and longer than that since they had seen eye to eye on anything. Mark was beginning to realize even if they managed to make it out of this it was likely he had lost his husband to the war without the funeral pyre.
"You need to sleep." In the corner of his eye Mark saw Jaebum puzzling something made out of wood in the odd way he did. "He still on edge?" Mark had given up on telling Jaebum to not just walk into his tent, there was no point. Even if it drove Mark crazy the man was one of the few who could keep up with Mark’s brain and he appreciated his friend’s presence. Often Jaebum would listen into the small hours of the morning while Mark attempted to unload the hornets nests of things buzzing around his brain, helping to both alleviate the pressure and refining the thousands of half planned strategies before they could present them to the war table.
"Jinyoung still refusing to apologize?" Mark shot back. Looking up from the block of wood Jaebum sighed. "Pity the goddess swept Jungkook up before Jinyoung could finish the duel." Mark sat heavily on the crate next to Jaebum. "Would have saved everyone a lot of grief and blood."
"The gods don't care about mortals." Jaebum resumed his inspection. Mark wished he could understand how Jaebum’s mind worked. Where his brain moved like a spider spinning web after web, Jaebum’s seemed to strike like lightning. Suddenly a wicked smile formed across Jaebum’s lips. The dark eyes were full of mischief when he turned to Mark, "You ever seen a giant horse?"
Nearly a week later Mark watched as the giant wooden horse was rolled to city walls. If this succeeded Mark was going to owe Jaebum a lot of money. Going back into his tent Mark eyed his sleeping husband fondly. Under the blanket Mark tracked his eyes down the line of exposed spine that now carried scars, burns, and to Mark’s amusement, teeth marks. Jackson had come to him the night before offering apologies and tears. They had spoken long into the night until at last the hardened shell cracked open like an egg and inside the crumbling veneer Mark found Jackson. His sweet husband still lived within the the now battle hardened man.
For the first time in nearly two years Mark laid him out, kissing and touching and coaxing orgasm after orgasm until they had forgotten how long they'd been apart. Mark had kept Jackson writhing on the furs if their bed, swallowing every moan and whimper as the sun rose into the sky. Mark whispered 'I love you's to Jackson everytime they had broke for breath and Jackson always returned them. By the time they fell asleep wrapped around each other Mark felt lighter than he had since they arrived on the shores of Troy.
Watching his husband only a few moments longer he got ready for the day. Bambam had been spotted gathering men for an assault the previous day. Mark knew he would need to leave soon but he couldn’t stop himself from crawling back into bed to wake Jackson up with a long kiss. As the younger began to stir Mark hummed happily.
Trailing kisses down Jackson’s neck he whispered a quiet, “Morning.” Under him Jackson chuckled, legs already wrapping around his waist. “I need to be out on the field at noon and you’ve already stolen my strength.”
“Please Mark.” Jackson tightened his legs before flipping them so Mark was on his back, both of then laughing. “You just lay there and let me do the work.” When Jackson dipped down to kiss him Mark could almost make himself believe that things were going to be okay.
Mark should have known that it was never going to be easy. He should have known that they weren’t going to make it home.
Standing in the across from Mark on the battlefield was Bambam. The man had already had the reputation of being the greatest warrior in Troy before the war, now his fame had exploded ten fold. Mark had lost countless men to the man before him. There were many who underestimated Bambam due to his thin build and soft face, a thing that Bambam had used to his advantage. Unlucky for Bambam was that Mark was built the same way and used the same tactics.
“This could end if you gave Yugyeom back.” Mark rolled his shoulders. His armor was looser than normal. His own had been busted the battle before so now he was in Jackson’s armor and while he had room to move he wasn’t used to the extra room. “We’ve been told he isn’t happy.”
“He has never been happy.” Bambam took a step left and Mark matched going right. “But your spies have told you that.” Mark frowned. After ten years it would be foolish to think that there hadn’t been spies that were caught or turned against them but Bambam was bold to call it out. “My father and I have tried to convince my brother to release Yugyeom but it only results in more pain and we are not always around to save him from the violence.” Mark’s grip on his sword tightened. “I wish we could have met under different circumstances.” Another step.
“Truly.” Mark matched him. “Maybe in the next life.”
The movements were sudden. One moment they were standing still and the next they were rushing one another, steel clashing together.
Stepping sideways Mark feigned a low swing but Bambam had parried. Another swing and another parry. Under the baking hot sun Mark and Bambam continued to fight.
“Here.” Mark heard the memory of Jackson's whisper as an arrow hit his back where Jackson had touched him all those years ago.
“Here.” Another arrow into his ribs. Mark felt their future slipping away as the blood slid down his back.
“Here.” The final arrow pierced his chest. They weren’t going home but it was okay. He would wait for Jackson on the shores of the Styx until his husband joined him.
Falling to his knees Mark looked up at Bambam who looked outraged at their fight being interrupted. “Jackson.” Mark tried to breathe around the blood in his lungs. In his mind’s eye they were back home under the fig trees and laughing. “I’ll be waiting.”
Mark didn’t feel his body hit the ground, he was already gone.
Part IV: Jaebum
finis vitae sed non amoris - the end of life, but not of love
Jaebum didn’t hear about Mark’s death until after the siege ended. He didn’t know about how Bambam had brought Mark’s body back to King Jinyoung himself, Mark’s borrowed armor scrubbed clean of blood as a sign of respect from the Hero of Troy to the Spy Commander of Greece. He didn’t hear about Jackson’s grief fueled rage that consumed him and spurred the man to hunt Bambam down on the battlefield and slay him only to be killed by Jungkook moments later. Jaebum hoped his friends had finally found rest after so long.
Siege of Troy
Jaebum and thirty men waited in the horse. When the wooden horse had first been pulled in Jaebum hoped it wouldn’t burned while they were inside it. Jaebum and his men were further put to the test when women began trying to entice them out with comforts they had not had in ten years. All of them were easy to ignore until Jungkook had tried one last trick.
"Haven't you ever seen a horse?" The sound of Yugyeom’s voice spiked a rage in all his men. Even unable to see the man Jaebum knew something was wrong, that was not the voice of someone who wanted to be there. Jaebum listened as Yugyeom assessed the horse and then was forced to speak more by Jungkook. Even as Yugyeom pitched his voice soft Jaebum could hear the hollowness. Jaebum prayed that he would be able to find a way to save his brother-in-law from this place. To do so he would need to make it to the palace before the rest of the forces did, too many people including Jinyoung wanted Yugyeom’s head. Should he fail to save him, Jaebum wasn’t sure if he would be able to go home and face Youngjae. Or that Youngjae would forgive him. The brothers had been close as children and when Yugyeom was taken Youngjae was the loudest in his brother’s defense, often throwing blows to those who besmirched his brother’s name. If Jinyoung did not want Yugyeom, then Jaebum would take him to his kingdom to live with them.
“Yugyeom. Come back here now!” They could hear Jungkook rage but if the shouting was anything to go by it seemed as if Yugyeom was ignoring him. “You pamper him father.”
“He is not my prisoner.” King Namjoon’s voice was cool. Glancing at his friend, Jaebum hoped Jinyoung could keep his temper down. “It would seem this is in fact a gift. We shall have a celebration.”
Jaebum and his men waited a nearly the whole day in the horse as the people of Troy celebrated and danced around them unknowing. When true night fell, the streets going silent they waited longer still fearing a trap. Jaebum and Mark had discussed this plan at length once the idea bloomed to life in his mind. Jaebum oversaw the construction, the selection of men while Mark organized the rest of their troops. They had the bulk of their forces pack up to look as if they were retreating while a few troops remained in a final battle. After nightfall their forces would redock and be waiting at the gates.
Finally deeming it time Jaebum opened the horse so he and his men could climb out. The street was quiet except for distant wailing that Bambam of Troy had been slain by Jackson of Greece. That gave Jaebum a momentary pause, Mark was to fight Bambam since Jackson still was fighting with Jinyoung. He wanted to know what would have spurred Jackson to fight again but that would have to wait. As he and his forces crept through the city they killed guards that lay passed out or barely awake.
Leaving his men to open the gates Jaebum made his way to the palace. Behind him he could hear the clamor and screaming already beginning. When he entered the palace he found King Namjoon on his throne waiting for him.
“You knew.” Jaebum glanced around but there were no guards.
King Namjoon held a broken bow and a bloody helm. “Bambam and Jungkook are dead.” The man looked up tiredly. “My sons are taken and for the life of me I cannot fathom why the goddess brought this upon my fool son or that poor boy.”
Jaebum felt something loosen in his chest. “So it was an abduction.” King Namjoon nodded, fingers running along the bow.
“Jungkook was always too prideful for his own good.” The dark eyes finally looked up at him. “The goddess tried to demand Yugyeom to submit but the boy is willful. I fear for what happens to him if you do not succeed Jaebum of Ithaca.”
Jaebum did not get a chance to speak again. From behind him Jinyoung came like a storm cloud and drove his sword into the king’s chest. “The scouts found Yugyeom in his chambers.”
“Are you coming?” Jinyoung didn’t wait for his answer before walking in long strides. Glancing a last time to the dead king Jaebum followed Jinyoung.
The two found Yugyeom standing on the balcony of his chambers. The man watched them without seeing them. The once warm tan skin was pale under the alabaster white cotton that draped loosely around his form. The way the man was angled Jaebum knew Jinyoung couldn’t see the scar that ran up the side of his face that looked as if it didn’t remember it ever held the curve of a smile.
“I was hoping for an arrow to the back.” Yugyeom’s voice was soft. “Or a dagger but I will take the sword.” Yugyeom walked to where they stood. Unclasping the broach on his shoulder Yugyeom let the material fall showing a body now full of scars and bruises. “I tried to make myself less beautiful but nothing worked. Eventually they stopped caring and were more interested in violence than sex.” The room was entranced as Yugyeom knelt in front of Jinyoung. Yugyeom stared at the sword a moment before wrapping his fingers around it in a determined hold, uncaring that blood now ran where it cut into his skin. “Bambam and Namjoon are dead. They were kind to me, they never raised their hands or their voices.” Brown eyes flicked up a moment before Yugyeom kissed the blade then placed the point against his chest above his heart. “Jinyoung,” Jaebum’s heart broke as tears slid down the man’s face when Yugyeom looked back up at them. “If ever you ever loved me, please make it quick.”
The room was still, as if Chronos himself had stopped time. Jaebum was caught between sadness for Yugyeom and terror that Jinyoung was going to actually grant the man his wish. There was a clatter of steel on the floor as Jinyoung dropped his sword and kelt down pulling Yugyeom into a tight embrace. Yugyeom seemed to be just as surprised as the rest the room until finally the man clung to Jinyoung and sobbed.
Sending the scouts to help the men outside Jaebum watched over the two as Yugyeom recounted his ten years in captivity. He showed which scars were made by others and which he had put on himself. Jinyoung held his husband close murmuring softly that they were going to be okay, they were going home, no one was going to hurt him anymore. With each promise Yugyeom let out little sobs but held onto Jinyoung like a lifeline. Finally, finally, the war was over.
After the city fell the warriors of Troy surrendered. As news came in from the survivors and the generals Jaebum learned of Mark and Jackson’s death on the field. They spoke of Mark's bravery, how Jackson had wailed holding Mark's body until only rage remained. Jaebum spent several days in mourning of the two he had come to love as dear as brothers. At his insistence the two were placed on a pyre together and their bones buried as one.
At Yugyeom’s request they give King Namjoon and Bambam a proper funeral though they left the citizens of Troy and the surviving children of Namjoon to hold a funeral for Jungkook. Yugyeom spoke of their kindness, how the two made life just a little more bearable. When their pyres were lit Jinyoung held Yugyeom as his husband wept for them.
With the war over and lands to be divided by people that cared more than he did, Jaebum parted ways with the newly reunited couple to begin his long journey home. After ten years he was ready to return to Youngjae and give his husband news of his brother’s safe return. Maybe the news would soften the blow of being gone for so long. It was likely Youngjae was still going to kick his ass but that was a battle he did not mind losing.
What he hadn’t expected was the gods to decide he was their next playtoy for his attitude and a eight month sea voyage turned into another ten years on the ocean going from cursed island to cursed island. When his boat finally beached on Ithaca only he remained alive and his heart heavier than when he left Troy. Sneaking into the castle he found his home over run with with men and his husband ready to stab them all with a sewing needle. If it wasn't for the plot among the suitors to kill Youngjae and take the throne Jaebum would have sat back and watched as his husband played them all or stabbed them in their sleep. Youngjae might not have his brother's ethereal beauty but he was feisty and clever, both of which had endeared him to Jaebum.
Pulling a final trick out of his hat Jaebum plotted with his husband to give a grand reveal of his return. Jaebum had to admit the beggar bit might have been over the top but it made Youngjae smile at his antics even as the 108 suitors scoffed. Once Jaebum restrung his bow and completed the trick shot that had made him famous as a child the suitors were gone and he could finally rest. That night Jaebum had taken Youngjae to bed and did his best to make up for the twenty years he had been gone.
His husband had nearly fainted in relief when Jaebum told him that Yugyeom had been found alive. Jaebum told Youngjae that with time, patience and a lot of love many of his wounds would heal even if Yugyeom himself didn't believe they would. Within his own mind, Jaebum hoped that Jinyoung would able to heal Yugyeom's heart and draw him from his shell. After so long in captivity it would be hard for Yugyeom to rejoin the world but of anyone could help him it was Jinyoung.
And if Jinyoung was found failing Jaebum was sure Youngjae would let them all know it.
When they laid in bed that night Jaebum swore he would not step foot on another ship. Jaebum said that he had been on the water enough to last a lifetime however, Youngjae informed him that he was already planning a trip to Sparta to see his brother. When Jaebum tried insisting he would stay Youngjae sat up pointing an incredulous finger saying that after twenty years they wouldn’t be parted again and to just suck it up. Raising his hands in surrender and smiling fondly Jaebum conceded.
At least if they got lost at sea they would be lost together.
feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes - I have done what I could; let those who can do better
Jackson found himself staring up at the Charon’s ferry, copper piece in hand. Jackson couldn’t quite remember how he had died, only that a deep and terrible grief had consumed his heart. Who had he lost that would inspire such grief? All at once it came back to him. The vivid image of his husband cold in death just like he had foreseen. Mark had died. Even as a shade the spot where his heart once was ached so painfully that Jackson wondered if even the river Lethe could wipe the memory of pain from it.
Gripping the copper piece firmer Jackson looked around the beach finding that all who had come with him were already on the ferry.
“Are you coming?” Charon’s voice was smooth from under the dark hood. “You have the toll, you have earned your peace.” Unconsciously Jackson stepped forward. After fighting for so long all he wanted to do was rest his tired soul. Before he could step foot onto the dock the echo of memory brought the feel of sheets and the brush of lips.
The ache in his chest bloomed to life again. “Where is Mark?” Charon seemed to laugh though the noise did not sound unkind.
The ferryman pointed behind him, “He’s been waiting for you.” Turning on his heel Jackson saw him. Sleeping on the sand propped against a rock was Mark, the grey wool of his toga laying against his skin. “I will come back for you two.” Jackson turned to thank him but Charon was already gone, the ferry boat disappearing into the mists.
Walking over to Mark he couldn’t stop himself from carding his fingers through the dark hair rousing the man. When the eyes finally blinked open Jackson couldn’t stop himself from crying either. He had tried to defy the fates, to have both love and glory. To be both a hero and a husband. He had failed, and in his failure Mark died on a blood soaked field while he sat in a tent with his righteous indignation. Jackson tried to apologize, it should have been only him to die but Mark hushed him.
“I was expecting a much longer wait.” Mark cupped his face, thumbs brushing the tears off his cheekbones. “I had hoped for a longer wait.”
Sniffing back a new wave he scoffed playfully. “Don’t be stupid.” Jackson held both wrists and kissed each palm. “There was no me without you.” Letting himself be drawn down to Mark’s lap he pulled the older into a kiss that finally alleviated the ache that had consumed him when he was shown Mark’s body. “Do you think they’ll be okay?” Jackson pointed up. "We left mid-mess."
Mark smiled up at him, “Jaebum will take care of them and when they finally make their way down we can ask how things went.” Jackson smiled kissing him again. "We've done enough Jackson. Come rest with me." Curling around his husband Jackson soaked him in. In the dim light of Hades they were finally able to just be
When Charon returned from the mists, boat empty and hand stretched out for payment the two passed their obolus and climbed on. It didn’t matter if they ended in the Asphodel Fields or Elysium though Jackson had to admit the latter would be much more pleasurable.
Now that the hard part of living was over they had an endless supply of time.