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love that transcends hunger

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It hit him like a punch to the stomach in the middle of a conversation with Fennec, and for a moment he forgot all words. Din tried to remember how to breathe, and told himself that no, this was not the worst thing to happen to him. It wasn't even the worst thing this week.

"Mando, you okay?" she said. For her, she sounded almost concerned. "I know you've always been the quiet type but you normally finish your words."

"Yeah," he said. "I'm fine. I just realised something." He tried not to fidget, or to make it look like he was too desperate to get away—to go anywhere that wasn't Fett's place on Tatooine—but by the way she eyed him, he didn't think he'd succeeded.

"I'll let you go on," she said. She jerked her chin in the direction that he was avoiding. "I think he's been wanting to talk to you, anyway."

He nodded, the grim reality of it settling into his bones. It wasn't easy to avoid Fett when he'd set his mind on speaking with you. "Great. Thanks. I'll catch you another time, Fennec."

"Don't be a stranger," she said, before her eyes narrowed on something to the left of him and she stalked off, hand already on the blaster at her hip.

Dank farrik, he thought.

He turned the problem over in his mind the entire way to the palace, but it turned out that the initial answer was not much. Fett may have been wanting to speak with him before, but he didn't let it keep him back as he held court longer than Din had remembered, letting people trip and fall over themselves in their efforts to not antagonise the king of Tatooine. Din took up a place at his side, behind the throne. The light in the room was dimmer than he would have liked if he were in charge of Fett's security, but it was enough to reflect off his beskar, and few were fool enough to deliberately cross both him and Fett.

Slowly, the low light became lower as the suns set, the yellow light fading to dim orange. Fett didn't need to announce the end: he turned his head toward the person who had stepped forward, and said nothing until they stumbled back, the rest of the crowd eventually following them.

"Thought it would never be done," Fett said, with a low grumble.

Din pushed forward from his place in the back. "Seemed like you were taking your time," he said. Fett didn't stand from his throne, and Din was left standing awkwardly to one side, towering above him. Fett stretched his legs out, leaned on his elbow as he turned to look up at him. If he was Fennec, he'd probably just sit on the arm, would close the distance and let it be just the two of them.

"Maybe I was just enjoying your company," he said. Even through the modulator, Din could hear the smile in his voice. "You just get in?"

Din nodded. "Not long ago." This, he could do. Small talk wasn't going to end a friendship. Small talk was what had made up most of his relationships until recently.

Fett stood, looked at him for a long moment. He didn't shuffle under the attention, though he wanted to. "I'm sure you're hungry," he said, not letting it be a question. "Come on, let me feed you."

Din didn't know how to begin to reject hospitality without being insulting, either to Fett as a Mandalorian or how it would be taken on Tatooine, with rules to it that he hadn't fully worked out. Fett led them through the halls without giving him much of a say. They bypassed the way further down into the dark, toward the kitchen, and went up, to where Fett's own rooms were, open and full of light.

“I put on some stew this morning,” Fett said, letting them in. “It should be ready by now.”

It smelled ready and good from what Din could tell, coming from the little kitchen. Warm and familiar; the sort of stew they’d thrown together in the covert. The familiarity of it was a small grief in his chest quickly shoved down.

"Fett. Boba," Din heard himself say, correcting himself to a name he didn't think he had ever been given the right to but—given everything—felt like the right option. "I need to speak to you."

Boba looked up. "Well now," he said, putting the ladle to the side. He raised an eyebrow and looked at Din, curious. "Not every day you call me by name. It must be serious."

"How much do you know about Mandalorian marriages," the thing that had taken over his body said. He was frozen still in the doorway to the kitchen. His mouth moved of its own accord, and he did not like it.

Fett—Boba—smiled at him, small and secret. "Some. Not as much as you, I'd wager. Why?" he asked. "Is this a proposal?"

"No," Din said flatly, then realised how harsh that sounded, and tried to soften it. "There's no need."

"I'm hurt," he said. The smile hadn't left his face.

"The—" he reached for the words, but they had rarely been his strong suit. "The armor. The child. Sharing... all this," he said, gesturing at the table, the room.

Boba hadn't looked away from him. He couldn't pinpoint what that look meant, the way his smile had changed. "Yes," he agreed. "All this."

"There haven't been words," Din said, trying to find a way around having to say it. There was no way he could find to say it and not feel like he was trying to strangle this friendship. "But by my people, this would be—it would be enough."

Boba nodded, slowly, and passed the steaming bowl into Din's hands. He took it without thinking much more of it. "Would you like to eat in here, or in the other room? I can leave, if you wish."

"My meal," Din repeated. "This is what you're thinking about?"

"You're hungry," he said simply. "And there may be much I didn't learn as a child, but I do know that it is a poor spouse who doesn't feed his hungry husband."

Husband was not a word Din had allowed himself to think after the realisation had come tumbling into his head.

"Husband," he said, mostly to himself. "You... knew?"

"No, but it doesn't make much of a difference," Boba said. He couldn't be Fett again even in the privacy of Din's head.
"You're taking it very well," he said, not moving. The stew was cooling in his hands, but the heat of it was still burning through his gloves. It smelled like it would set his tongue on fire, like decent stew should.

Boba paused, ladle in hand, his own bowl still only half-full. “Does it make a difference to you?” he asked, low and concerned. “I know little about Mandalorian marriage, but even less about divorce.”

"I—" Din started, and then stopped. Considered.

He had never let himself think about it before—the beroya was a figure often distant from the covert, gone out on a job more often than they were with their own clan. It had never been a plan of his, to marry or to have a foundling, gone to school or not.

Fett—Boba, Boba—hadn't assumed anything would change, or should change. A place to come back to. A place to bring the child to, should it visit. Where he would be—had been—harassed into seeing a medic for the injuries he would usually tend to himself, and people didn't expect him to take his helmet off or share the meal with them. Where he would defend someone he cared about, would share what he had. What would change?

"No," he said quietly. "It doesn't make a difference."

"Well. I'm glad we got that sorted. Sit, eat. You look like you're going to fall over." Boba gestured at a chair, then grabbed his own bowl, and didn't wait until he was sitting before digging into it.

The rules of the covert were carved into his bones, but he had rarely had cause to act on one in particular. He set the bowl at the table, eased himself into the chair. Boba's eyes flicked up toward him, and then away; Din paid it no mind. His hands didn't shake as he took the helmet off, or as he set it on the table, where it watched over both of them with its blank face.

"Glad to see the rumours I heard from Shand are true, then," Boba said, a sly smirk making its way across his face. "I do have a handsome husband."

Din wanted to blame the heat in his cheeks on the spice of the meal, but knew that the argument wouldn't stand up to questioning. He didn't look up, and kept eating. "This is good," he said, not even trying to pretend he wasn't finding anything to change the subject.

"Thank you," said Boba. He leaned back in his chair, Din pinned to his seat under his watchful eyes. "So," he said after a long moment, "which of us should it be?"

Din slowed, fork in mid-air. "For what?"

He was going to learn, he realised, to be suspicious of Boba's smiles. This one for sure meant trouble. "Which of us should it be," he said, "to tell Shand that we got married without telling anyone."