lirazel: ([kpop] succeed)
[personal profile] lirazel
Title: Celestial Mechanics
Chapter: 22 of undetermined number
Fandom: Kpop: Infinite
Characters/Pairings: Hoya/Myungsoo, Hoya/Sungjong and Myungsoo/Sungyeol bffery, OT7
Rating: R
Warnings: A/B/O verse, so: dubcon (for both parties) and all that’s associated with the omegaverse
Summary: It was as close to perfect as a plan could be. Which is to say: not quite. Myungsoo had plans and Howon had a dream, but the future is never that simple, no matter how certain it had seemed.

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Previous chapter here

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A/N: Okay, so. Here’s the deal. My little sister is returning to the country tomorrow for the first time in six months. I’m going to be a bit busy smothering her with affection, so I know if I don’t post something now, it won’t get posted this week. So even though I usually try to make my chapters a bit longer than this and this definitely wasn't where I intended to end this chapter, I’m going to go ahead and post this now. I haven’t decided yet if this is going to be the first part of Chapter 22 with the rest posted later or if this will be the entirety of the chapter, but at least it’s something to tide you over until I can write more.

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“Myungsoo?”



Myungsoo’s eyes fly open and his head jerks back to look up at Howon even as he scrambles to his feet. “Is it over already?” His hands have been shaking a little for a while now, and he has to reach out and grab Howon’s to still them. “What did they say?”



Myungsoo searches Howon’s face eagerly for a hint about how the audition had gone, but he doesn’t see any expression that makes sense. Not elation or pride at being selected, but not the grim determination to do better than Myungsoo would have expected if he was rejected. Instead, Howon just looks...confused. And still tense, maybe even tenser than he was before he went into the room. Myungsoo shuffles a little closer to him, wishing he could press his body up against Howon’s. It would make him feel better. The anxiety that has been churning through him since Howon disappeared through the door has morphed into something tinged with sick worry.



“They want to see you.”



Myungsoo stares at him. “What?”



“The panel. They want you to come in, too.”



Myungsoo now understands Howon’s confusion, because he’s feeling it, too, but it does nothing to drown out the worry. He clings to Howon’s hand harder. “Why?” he asks, not even noticing that his voice is a little breathier, a little whinier than usual.



Howon squeezes his hand. “They want to see if our mating is something they can use to their advantage. But you don’t have to go in if you’re not comfortable with it. I’ll just tell them to fuck off and try out at the other companies.”



Myungsoo is very much uncomfortable, but he dislikes the idea of Howon rejecting an opportunity to attain his dream far more than the idea of being uncomfortable in front of the panel. “No—I want to—I mean, it’s okay, I’ll come. But Howon—what did they say? About your dancing? Did they like it?”



Howon shakes his head a little. He’s beginning to look more settled. “I don’t know. They didn’t say anything about it.”



“What?” Myungsoo’s hand flexes around Howon’s in anger. “How could they not say?” They got to watch Howon dance his amazing dance and then they didn’t even say anything about it? Who are these people?



And suddenly there’s Howon’s hand on his cheek, Howon’s lips quirking with fond amusement. “Are you angry, Myungsoo? Should I tell them to fuck off?”



The soft gesture leaves him a little dazed, even more than he already was by the whole situation. Howon usually doesn’t touch him like that in public.



Fuck, public—Myungsoo glances hurriedly around and notices that every person in the waiting room is staring at them, even if some of them are trying to pretend like they’re not. A shudder passes through Myungsoo, memories of those first few days at school after the mating. He hates feeling like a bug under a microscope, and the idea of being stared at by however many people are on the judging panel is suddenly far more appealing than being stared at by these people out here.



“No. No, let’s go,” Myungsoo answers hurriedly, and Howon studies him for a long moment, then squeezes his hand again as he guides him towards the door. Myungsoo focuses his eyes on the floor in front of him instead of on all the eyes looking at him, trying to think of nothing but Howon’s hand in his and Howon’s warmth and scent beside him.



“It’ll be okay,” Howon says under his breath as they reach the door. “We can walk out whenever you want.”



And that’s so Howon it makes Myungsoo want to jump on him and wrap himself around him, but he reminds himself that this is for Howon’s future, and so he squares his shoulders and lifts his chin as they walk into the room.



Having only three sets of eyes staring at him is a relief after the waiting room, but it still makes his skin prickle enough that he’s glad that Howon doesn’t show any signs of letting go of his hand as they stop in the center of the room. Myungsoo wants to zone out, to ignore those eyes and think about pictures he’d like to take and forget he’s in this room altogether, but he makes himself bow and greet the three men and keep his eyes on them the whole time.



The man in the center’s eyebrows twitch as he looks at Myungsoo. “This is your mate?” he asks Howon, and Myungsoo doesn’t have to be able to read Howon’s mind to know he’s thinking something sarcastic. No, he’s just some guy I grabbed out in the waiting room, jackass.



“Yes, sir. Kim Myungsoo.”



The man in the center exchanges looks with the two other men, then looks back at Myungsoo and gives him a small smile. “You’re very handsome, Myungsoo-ssi.”



Myungsoo had thought he was used to the way that people seem unable to stop themselves from saying that the first time they meet him, but he blinks in surprise—and barely-controlled annoyance. So what if he’s handsome? This isn’t about him, it’s about Howon—but Howon is still beside him, holding his hand, so he just says, “Thank you.”



“Your mate wants to be an idol. You don’t want to be one, too?”



Doesn’t this man know that if Myungsoo wanted to be an idol he would be trying out, too? Is he stupid? “No, sir.”


“You’re absolutely sure?”


Myungsoo usually doesn’t have a hard time being polite; he likes being polite. But right now he has to hide his impatience. “I’m very sure.”



Something Myungsoo thinks might be disappointment flickers across the man’s face. “But you support your mate becoming one?”



I support anything Howon does. “It’s his dream,” he answers, maybe a bit stiff in his attempt to keep his annoyance in check. “He supports my dreams, too.”


“And what are your dreams?”



Myungsoo doesn’t really feel like he owes this man an answer, but he gives one anyway. “I want to be a photographer.”



He can’t decipher the expression on the man’s face as he pauses in acknowledgment, then says, “You’re very young to be mated. You’re not eighteen yet, Myungsoo-ssi, but your parents approved?”



He can feel Howon about to answer beside him, but the question was directed at him, so Myungsoo speaks up. “It wasn’t planned.”



The man’s eyebrows fly up again, and Myungsoo can tell he’s intrigued. Almost all matings are planned these days, so Myungsoo’s not surprised that he’s interested. “An accident?”



Myungsoo hasn’t thought about it like that in a long, long time, but he can’t argue with the phrasing. “Yes.”



“You two seem quite close for an accidentally bonded pair. You’ve made the best of things?”



Myungsoo is trying to think of a way to answer that—he supposes the words are true enough, but somehow it gives him a bad taste in his mouth to think about it that way—when Howon shifts beside him and says, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”



Myungsoo goes warm all over and he hears the man on the left let out a small noise that he can’t quite interpret. The man on the right covers his mouth with his hand as though hiding a cough or a laugh, but the man in the middle is still unreadable. Myungsoo wants to turn away from them and press his flushed cheek against Howon’s shoulder and just think about Howon saying It was the best thing that ever happened to me, over and over.



“How is that, Howon-ssi?”



Howon’s hand flexes around Myungsoo, and Myungsoo knows he’s uncomfortable with this, with talking like this, but still he says, “If it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have ended up together.”



“So you two didn’t know each other before the mating?”



Howon shrugs the shoulder furthest from Myungsoo, a small sharp jerk. “Barely.”



“But now he’s the best thing that ever happened to you?”



“Yes, sir,” Howon answers shortly. Myungsoo feels like his skin is on fire.



“Well, aren’t you a romantic,” the man mutters, and he sounds like he’s talking mostly to himself, but Howon answers anyway, voice tight.



“Not really, sir.”



The man looks back at Howon. “What do you mean, Howon-ssi?”



“I’m not a romantic, sir.” Howon’s voice is throaty, but he keeps talking steadily, and with each word Myungsoo feels more like he wants to combust. “The only time I dated, my girlfriend broke up with me because she could tell I didn’t care as much about her as I did about dancing.” Myungsoo hadn’t heard that before, but it sounds right, sounds like Howon. “I figured that would just be the way it is. I wasn’t sure I even wanted a relationship, not the way I wanted to dance. I’m not a romantic at all.”



The man tilts his head in interest. “And yet here you are saying that your accidental mating with a boy you barely knew is the best thing that ever happened to you.” It isn’t phrased as a question, but it still is one.



“Well, tied with dancing,” Howon allows, and Myungsoo feels a giggle bubble up inside of him. That’s so Howon, and it makes Myungsoo wish they were alone somewhere so he could get as close to Howon as possible and never move away.



“I see. And you, Myungsoo-ssi. Would you say the mating is the best thing that ever happened to you?”



The question makes Myungsoo’s head spin, a dipping, vertigo sensation. It slams back into him, the devastated way he’d felt when he realized what had happened in the art room, the way he’d cried all over Sungyeol, mourning how he would never have the great romance he wanted with the getting to know each other slowly and falling in love and kissing and—eventually—marrying or mating or both. And he’d been sure that his plans for the future had been shattered and lost to him as well. It had felt like the worst thing that he could imagine, the mating. A nightmare.



But now he sees everything that’s happened between then and now, stretching out in front of him, and he feels another wave of dropping dizziness when he realizes that, actually, the mating has been…well, everything he’s ever wanted. With Howon, he has everything he’d dreamed about—Howon is everything he’d dreamed about when he thought of who he might fall in love with. Howon is strong and kind and funny and talented and handsome and he lets Myungsoo cling and he thinks Myungsoo’s dorky laugh is cute and he likes to look at Myungsoo’s pictures and he wants Myungsoo to have everything he wants and he touches Myungsoo in a way that makes Myungsoo lose all control. If back before the mating Myungsoo had made a list of the qualities he wanted in his future mate or spouse, those would have been what he’d have written. He sees now that somehow he has the drama kind of love without having had the drama kind of story to go with it.



Or—no—he did have the drama story. He had that too. And okay, it was all out of order, not the way these things are supposed to go, not the way they go in manhwas, but—but it’s all there. The getting to know each other and the amazing first kiss and the learning how to take care of each other and the sex—it’s all there, just so jumbled up that Myungsoo hadn’t even seen that it was happening because he’d been too busy living it.



Myungsoo has always thought that it can’t be really falling in love if the love story doesn’t unfold in the right way, but it’s all happened without him noticing it, and that means—does that mean—he feels so much for Howon, so much more than he feels for anyone. And he feels so much for Sungyeol and his family and Sungjong and the hyungs and his friends, more than he thinks is normal sometimes, and—but what he feels for Howon is so much more even than that, and if it’s that much, does that mean that that feeling is...



Myungsoo could laugh, or sob, but doesn’t bother with either. Because he’s the one who knows every detail of love stories, but somehow he fell in love without even realizing it.



“Myungsoo? Myungsoo?”



It feels like coming back into his body again, hearing Howon say his name, and Myungsoo lets out a little gasp at just how present he is in the room again. He pulls himself together quickly, glancing at Howon to give him a reassuring smile before focusing on the man again.



“I’m sorry, sir. What did you ask me?”



The panelists are all watching him closely, and Myungsoo suspects the man in the middle might ask why Myungsoo just zoned out in the middle of the conversation, but he just repeats, “I asked you if the mating was the best thing to ever happen to you, too.”



Myungsoo clears his throat. “Yes, sir. It was.”



He feels Howon tense beside him, and he wishes more than anything that they were alone, back in the hotel room, back in the old gym, somewhere where he could hurl himself into Howon and tell him what he feels, what he’s just realized he feels, but they’re here in front of strangers, and so Myungsoo fights the overwhelming realization back, breathing in deeply so he can fill his lungs with the smell of Howon and focusing on the moment. They still haven’t said whether they want him yet. You have to focus on this now. You can’t get distracted. This is too important for Howon.



The man in the center looks from one of his companions to the other, and both of them nod, and then he looks back at Howon and Myungsoo. “Howon-ssi, you’re a very talented dancer.”



Myungsoo can’t stop the grin that breaks out across his face at the words, but he smothers it quickly. Of course Howon is talented. That’s exactly what they should say. “Thank you, sir,” Howon says beside him, but he doesn’t relax as much as Myungsoo would have expected him to.



“If your singing or rapping is decent, we might have a spot for you as a trainee.”



Myungsoo wants to jump up in the air or attack Howon with kisses or dance or something equally awkward, but he forces himself to hold still and stare at Howon’s profile instead. Howon is still tense all over, even in his hand that’s holding Myungsoo’s. “Might, sir?”



“I wouldn’t have thought we’d ever take on a mated trainee. We’d discussed the possibility before and dismissed it. But your story is touching enough—and, frankly, your mate is handsome enough—that it could create some good attention for our company.”



For the first time in his life, Myungsoo feels thankful that he’s handsome. He’s never much cared about it before either way but if it means Howon—Howon who he loves—getting a place at the company….



“You know, of course, that becoming a trainee is no guarantee that you will ever be an idol. The majority of trainees never do debut, and many of the groups that do never get off the ground and end up being a waste of their company’s money. But we can offer you a chance. We’ll have you rap or sing in a moment, and if we think we could work with your abilities, we’ll put you on our consideration list and get back to you within the next few days about whether we’re offering you a position as a trainee.”


Myungsoo has to clap his free hand over his mouth to keep his smile from bursting out, but he still feels Howon holding himself motionless beside him. “I’m very honored, sir,” Howon says, but his mouth doesn’t twitch from trying to hold back a smile, and Myungsoo doesn’t really understand.


“Is that not a good enough offer for you, Howon-ssi?”


Myungsoo sometimes forgets how formidable Howon can look when he’s serious, with his thick brows and manly face radiating toughness. “I just have a few questions, sir.”


“All right, ask them.”


Howon lifts his chin a little, and Myungsoo lowers his hand, his grin fading away. This looks serious. “When you say that Myungsoo is handsome enough to be of use to you. You make it sound like you expect something of him.”


The man sits slowly back in his chair, and Myungsoo stares at Howon, not sure where he’s going with this. They just offered to make him a trainee.


“That’s not all right with you?”


Howon shifts his jaw. “I want to know what that would entail. I’m the one who wants to be an idol. Myungsoo just told you he doesn’t want to be. I want to know what you would expect of him.”


Myungsoo’s eyebrows furrow; he hadn’t thought of it like that. Do they want him to do something, too? He likes to sing, is teaching himself to play guitar, wouldn’t mind performing. But he has his photography, and he isn’t going to get distracted from it, and more than that, he knows that omega idols aren’t held in as high regard as others: he doesn’t want to put himself out there for the whole country to stare at him like the kids at school had done after the mating. He doesn’t think he could handle that.


“I see,” the man says, but he doesn’t sound displeased. He and the other two panelists take a few moments to exchange looks, and then he turns his attention back to Howon and Myungsoo. “We’d be willing to work with what the two of you are comfortable with, up to a certain point.”


“What does that mean?” Myungsoo finds himself asking. He hadn’t considered any of this. He’d known, intellectually at least, that if Howon debuted as an idol that he’d become famous by extension, but he hasn’t spent much time thinking about this. Now he kind of wishes he had.


“It means that if you are willing, we can use you extensively were Howon to debut—interviews about what it’s like to be an idol’s mate, variety show appearances as a couple, that sort of thing. The romance would sell incredibly well, especially with two attractive young mates to sell it.”


Howon makes a small sound beside him; Myungsoo guesses it might be because of the word ‘use.’ “And if he doesn’t want to do all that?”


“We would take a more subtle approach. Allow the story of your mating to get out, use the rumors to build interest in the run-up to debut. The netizens would do the rest, digging up pictures and contacting your classmates. As soon as Myungsoo’s face starts floating around, people will be interested. Then just have him show up at a few performances and concerts—not even onstage, but just present, letting those there catch a glimpse of you now and then—maybe one small couple interview every year or two. Use your story without seeming to do so.”


Myungsoo isn’t sure what to make of all that: on the one hand, the manipulation of it all makes him uneasy; on the other, it doesn’t sound so bad for him to have to deal with. If Howon really does debut, people will find out about their mating anyway. There will be nothing he can do to keep from being a person of interest. He needs some time to think this through, to process this, hopefully talking about it with Howon, though he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to tell Howon that he isn’t comfortable with all that, to ruin Howon’s dream even if he knows Howon would want him to be honest with him.


But Howon has more questions Myungsoo didn’t see coming. “What if you offer me the place in the next few days and I don’t take you up on the offer now? How will that affect my chances next year?”


Again, the man’s eyebrows rise. “Is that what’s going to happen?”



Myungsoo bites his lip as he watches Howon closely, but Howon seems as imperturbable as he has all along. “Myungsoo and I haven’t decided yet what our plans for the immediate future are. We still have a year left before we graduate.”



“Is that an issue for you?” the man asks, an edge of surprise in his voice. Myungsoo understands: there are loads of trainees who dropped out of high school; most of them wouldn’t let anything get in the way of their dreams. “You would have time to study for the GED as a trainee, or you could transfer to a school here, though with your trainee schedule it might take you longer to graduate than it would a normal student. And of course your mate would have no trouble enrolling at a new school.”


It isn’t anything Myungsoo has turned over and over in his head before, but hearing it stated like that makes him feel like there’s no reason for Howon not to accept, for them not to move to Seoul as soon as possible. Myungsoo could easily transfer to a school here; his grades are good enough that it would be easy to find one. And yet, the thought of a whole year of school without Sungyeol and Sungjong and the rest of their friends—without even Howon, who he knows wouldn’t transfer but would take the GED instead—all by himself…he feels a little cold at the thought.


“I’d like for Myungsoo to be able to graduate with our friends,” Howon says, still calm as ever. “To be able to stay with his family for another year. That’s what he wants. If I can figure out a way to make that happen without hurting my chances to become an idol, then that’s what I want to do.”


“But we haven’t talked about it!” The words burst out of him, and he isn’t even sure why—Howon is talking about what he wants, so shouldn’t Myungsoo be happy? But the thought of Howon making this decision, to postpone his dream just for Myungsoo, it isn’t okay with him. “We said we wouldn’t talk about it until after the audition, we’d decide then.”


Myungsoo’s heart is pounding as Howon turns to look at him full-on for the first time, taking Myungsoo’s other hand in his and focusing on him like they’re the only ones in the room. His voice is quieter now, but it somehow fills up the space between them better. “I know that. And we can talk about it, but if there’s a way you can graduate with Sungyeol and I can still become an idol, isn’t that the best way?”


“Well—yeah,” Myungsoo answers lamely. “I—yeah. But we haven’t talked about it. You said we’d make the decision together.”


“But I already know what you want.” Howon’s eyebrows dip down; he looks confused like he did out in the hall. “And this works out for both of us, so—“


“But I want us to talk about it together!”


“Gentlemen.” Both of their heads swing around at the word to find the man and his fellow panelists watching them in what might be amusement. “If you recall, I didn’t answer Howon’s question.”


Oh. Myungsoo’s mouth snaps shut and he and Howon drop their hands as they turn to look at the panel again.


“I’ve never heard of a trainee being offered a place and then asking for a postponement,” the man says dryly, and Myungsoo can’t tell if he’s entertained or offended. “Most potential trainees are eager to start as quickly as they can.”


“Most trainees don’t have a mate, sir,” Howon points out, and of course he would.


Myungsoo is leaning towards that being amusement on the man’s face. “A fair point. Of course there are no guarantees, and we’re not going to reserve a spot exclusively for you, Howon-ssi—you are good, but you aren’t that good.” Myungsoo starts to bristle, but Howon just nods his head as if in agreement, so Myungsoo makes himself relax. “Still, if you continue to work hard at your dancing and improve, I don’t see why we wouldn’t offer you a spot should we have another round of auditions next year.”


“Do you think you will? Have another round of auditions?” Myungsoo asks.


“I can’t say for sure. We haven’t been through everyone who’s waiting in the hallway yet. We might become overloaded with trainees and not have room for one more. But then again, we might not. And trainees drop out or are quite frequently. I would say you have a decent chance at having an opportunity to try out again next year.”


Howon nods once, sharply. “Thank you, sir. Is there anything else I need to do?”


Now Myungsoo is sure the man is amused. “Ready to be done with this, are you?”


“That’s not it, sir. But I don’t want to take up any more of your time when you have more people to see. And you said you would be considering your offers over the next day or two, and Myungsoo and I need time to talk, too, to decide what we’re going to do if you do offer me a spot.”


The man smiles outright. “Just sing us a few bars, then.”


Myungsoo knows Howon likes rapping better than singing, so he isn’t surprised that Howon picks a song by some American artist that combines the two. Myungsoo’s heard the song before—Howon listens to it a lot—though he couldn’t name the artist and doesn’t know what the lyrics mean. But he hasn’t heard Howon sing them, and while he knows that Howon isn’t as talented of a singer as the original artist, he still gets shivers at the sound of Howon’s voice. He’s biased, of course, but he thinks anyone would find something appealing about that voice, and the rap seems pretty good to him, too.


When Howon’s done, the man in the center nods and says, “We can work with that,” and then waves his hand dismissively. “We have your information; we’ll be in contact in the next day or two. You two go on, then.” As they bow and turn to go, he catches them with another word. “Oh, and Myungsoo-ssi?” They pause and look back at him, and Myungsoo isn’t surprised by what he says next. “Should Howon not end up as a trainee at this time, if you change your mind in the ensuing year, we might just have a spot for you, too.”


Myungsoo wants to say something smart about how for all they know he’s the worst singer in the world—and he is the worst dancer—but he just mutters a quick word of thanks and turns to leave. He’s feeling more than a bit overwhelmed as he and Howon head out of the room, so focused on his own tumultuous emotions that he doesn’t notice the curious looks they get from the other wannabe idols as they head out of the building. “Howon—“ he starts as they walk out the door, but Howon cuts him off.


“Let’s wait till we get back to the room to talk, okay? We both need time to think, and we can talk better there.”


Myungsoo can’t argue with that—both of them are the kind who prefer to think things through from every angle before they start to talk, unlike Sungyeol or Woohyun, who work things out by talking about them. Besides, public transportation and the many pedestrians in this area of the city don’t make discussions easy, so Myungsoo just lets Howon lead him onto the bus and down the street, paying no attention to the warm day and the passersby, instead letting everything that just happened wash over him.


--

TBC
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