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Love Is Not Possession

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“Love is not possession. It is not ‘being completed.’ It is two people walking along the path of life and saying, “I want to hold your hand along the way.”

 


 

133 DAYS

~~~~~

“Fuck,” Hoseok groaned, shifting under the sheets as the banging continued against the wall. “Does it ever stop?”

 

“Not for another three to seven days,” Yoongi chuckled from across the room, pulling his pants on, the block-shaped camouflage design of the stiff material bunching up around his thighs. There was a groan of the mattress as Yoongi sat down on the foot of the bed to put his socks on. Hoseok opened up one eye, watching the way Yoongi’s pale shoulders curved and molded under the white tank top. It was barely light outside, that pale sort of pink-blue morning glow peeking in between the slits left uncovered by the crappy sheet they’d tacked up over the window. The house was quiet, except for a distinctive thudding noise against the wall from Namjoon’s room.

 

“But it’s fucking 5am, don’t they sleep?” With a whine Hoseok rolled over onto his side, curling his shins up against Yoongi’s back in a silent gesture for him to stay a little longer, drawn to the warmth emanating off the elder.

 

“You know they’ve been all antsy all summer, and Kiara’s in her heat. It’ll cool down after a while and they’ll be more bearable.” Yoongi’s morning voice was still crackly, and Hoseok smiled a little at the sound, awake enough now to draw his ankles around the older boy’s waist, tucking his toes into the pockets and making Yoongi chuckle.

 

“You’re gonna make me late, dumbass,” Yoongi teased, tickling at the soles of his feet and making Hoseok squeak and draw away with a pout.

 

“I have ways of making you stay.” It wasn’t voiced like a threat, but Yoongi glanced over in question anyways, arching an eyebrow.

 

“Not today.” Yoongi rolled his eyes, leaning over to brush Hoseok’s bangs back and kiss his forehead.

 

“Do you have stuff after PT?”

 

“Yeah, there’s just some lecture thing all cadets have to do. Most of us didn’t fill out our paperwork properly and people got pissed. Then I just have Com and I’m done for the day. I should be back by around 10:40.”

 

“Okay. Maybe I’ll wait here for you to get back.” Hoseok snuggled more deeply into his pillow, smirking. Yoongi patted his shoulder and stood up to leave. “Have fun~” Hoseok half-sang, half-moaned into his pillowcase, and all he got was a chuckle in response. The distant sound of the door shutting echoed up the stairs, and the banging from the adjoining wall finally quieted down, and the house suddenly felt empty and somber.

 

Hoseok tried to get back to sleep - he really wanted to. He just couldn’t, now that Yoongi’s soft form was no longer just behind him. The sheets felt itchy and uncomfortable, and his brain was on hyperdrive. With a sigh he leaned over and lifted his phone cord up until he could grasp a hold of his phone and see that it was only 6:30. He decided to get up and start some coffee anyways. Maybe he could get started on some homework, like a good student? Probably not. He’d never been much of a good student, that was Namjoon’s job.

 

When Hoseok turned the water on to fill up the coffee pot, he heard a rustling behind him and a small whimper. Craning his head to look over his shoulder, he saw a dark form moving around underneath the dining room table. A wet muzzle poked its way out from between the rungs of the chairs, and the scrawny black wolf looked up at him curiously through bright golden eyes. A grey line streaked in the fur on his left cheek, like a scar. Hoseok smiled softly, reaching for the coffee filters.

 

“Morning, Jungkook, did I wake you?” he asked. “I’m sorry, Yoongi woke me up too early for PT.”

 

Jungkook said nothing, but quietly padded over to bump his nose up against the back of Hoseok’s knees affectionately. Hoseok turned away, opening up the red container and letting the biting scent of coffee grounds fill his nostrils.

 

“I hope you’re ready for our new roommates today,” Hoseok said with a smile, “We’ll finally be getting the rest of the Kim brothers under the same roof again. They’ll probably be glad to be out of the countryside.” He glanced back over to see Jungkook curled up at his feet, ears down in a sign of distress. “Oh, come on, don’t be so worried. Of course they’ll like you. You’re our pup, after all.” Jungkook’s ear twitched a little, as if asking a silent question. “Yes, really,” Hoseok continued with a laugh, leaning down to rub at the boy’s head. He cocked his lip to one side, stage-whispering, “And if they don’t like you, you know Namjoon will beat it into them anyways.”

 

Jungkook did not seem reassured at that, so Hoseok gave him a warm smile. “Don’t worry. I’ve met them a couple times and they’re both really nice. And Taehyung is closer to your age, so that should make you happy, right? Who knows? Just do your best.”

 

With a little droop to his tail, Jungkook slid back underneath the table, curling up into the nest of blankets he had dragged underneath it last night and lying back down. Hoseok crossed his arms for a moment, listening to the coffee pot hiss and strain away, then sat down at the table and pulled out his phone. Several minutes of comfortable silence passed between them, and eventually Hoseok’s socked feet found their way to the soft fuzziness that was Jungkook’s back, and he absentmindedly rubbed against the boy in reassurance. By the time the coffee was done, the back he was resting his feet up against was covered in a bulky T-shirt, and Jungkook was fully shifted into human form. He stayed under the table a little longer, however, enjoying the quiet of the morning. When he poked his head out, Hoseok couldn’t help but smile at the sleep-ridden puffiness to the boy’s young face.

 

“Do you want some toast?” Jungkook asked, crawling out and pulling his jeans on.

 

“Sure, if you’re making some.” Hoseok wrapped his fingertips around the harsh heat from his coffee cup. A door opened and shut upstairs, followed soon by Namjoon, wearing pajama pants, an expression of utter exhaustion and nothing else. His blond hair stood up on end and his eyes were practically sealed shut. He sunk noisily into the seat across from Hoseok, looking half-dead.

 

“Coffee?” he croaked. Jungkook reached up and grabbed a cup, filling it and handing it to him.

 

“Angel,” Namjoon called him with a grunt,  drinking it black and scowling at the bitterness.

 

“Kiara having a rough time of it, huh?” Hoseok asked lightly, feeling the coffee warming him up from the inside out and feeling less tired about the bit of sleep he had lost because of Yoongi, now that he had seen the misery written in Namjoon’s eyes.

 

“Nothing helps. I haven’t slept more than five minutes at a time since night before last,” he sighed. “But she has it worse. I don’t think she’s slept at all.”

 

“More like the night before night before last,” Hoseok corrected, sipping at his coffee. Namjoon was draining the last of his first cup, and Jungkook wordlessly filled it again, setting the milk and sugar on the table as a hint to the lead Alpha, now that he had survived his first cup. Namjoon dumped a - in Hoseok’s opinion - disgusting amount of sugar in, arching an eyebrow at Hoseok.

 

“What?”

“It’s Tuesday, Namjoon,” Hoseok informed him. “You guys have been in heat for three days now. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

 

“Oh fuck, are you serious?!” Namjoon groaned, rubbing at his face with his hands in a way that looked painful. “Doesn’t that mean--?”

 

“Yeah, your brothers will be here in a couple of hours. You’d better get some sleep while you can. You look like shit.”

 

“But I have a paper for my Gender & Diversities class that’s due by midnight tonight,” Namjoon groaned. “It’s worth half our grade.”

 

“Email the professor and tell him you’re having a heat,” Hoseok offered diplomatically, reaching over and slipping the sugar away from Namjoon’s reach, now that he’d scooped his fourth spoonful in between adding milk. “I’m sure she’ll understand. She likes you, right?”

 

“Yeah, I guess. I hate to do that to her so last minute, though.”

 

Jungkook set down a plate next to Hoseok, then crawled underneath the table with his own toast and milk to sit cross-legged between his and Namjoon’s knees.

 

“Listen, Namjoon, professors are people, too. And if she doesn’t believe you’re in a heat, just send her a photo of your face right now and I promise she’ll give you as much time as you need.”

 

There was a slight clinking of glass under the table, then Jungkook’s pale hand reached up over the edge of the table, his fingers wriggling a little. Hoseok passed the sugar container over to him.

 

“I guess you’re right. Kiara’s in the shower right now so I should do it while I have a chance.” He sighed. “I don’t think I have anything else major coming up right now. But shit, this means I missed a night of work, too.”

 

“Again, just send them your face.” Hoseok shrugged. Then he leaned halfway under the table, seeing Jungkook in the middle of folding his heavily sugar-coated toast in half to eat it. “Oh, Jungkookie, did you finish that paper for English?”

 

“Not yet,” Jungkook frowned, taking a large bite and finishing off half the toast in one go. Around a cheekful of bread he added, “But I’ve got all my sources ready, and the outline done. Jimin and I have been working on them together in the library during our break.”

 

“Good,” Hoseok nodded, straightening back up and starting to tear off the crust of his toast, leaving it abandoned on the edge of his plate and licking the bits of melted butter from his fingertips. Namjoon took his half-empty sugary mess back upstairs with him. Hoseok slipped his plate of crusts down to Jungkook, who took it eagerly. The kid was about to hit another growth spurt, Hoseok could tell just from the way he’d been eating. It was probably time to take him out for another hunt, too.

 

“I guess that leaves you and me to do the clean up around the house before they get here, Jungkook. You only have your evening shift today, right?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Well, since Jimin slept in, he gets the bathroom duty. So I guess that leaves the living room and the kitchen for you and me.” Hoseok paused, trying to sound casual as he left the next decision up in the air, waiting to see if Jungkook would take the bait.

 

“Mm? Well, whichever one you want, hyung.” Jungkook mumbled around the crusts of bread. Hoseok pressed his lips together a little, curious. Jungkook was coming up on his birthday soon, but he hadn’t shown any signs of presenting, like he normally should be. Hoseok and Namjoon had discussed a little about it when the boy was definitively out of earshot, but they were both a little concerned. Not that he wouldn’t present as a clear type, (if the boy was a Beta it was quite common to not have any clear heats or ruts all the way up to their 20th birthday, when a blood test was the only way to tell for sure) but that the boy wasn’t keeping up with his peers, at least psychologically, when it came to his wolf form. He was quicker at transforming than anyone Hoseok had met, and he had already exceeded their expectations at hunting. But the boy didn’t really have friends. He stuck close only to the pack members, and never mingled with his classmates. He of course had a great deal of admiration for Namjoon, who was not only their pack leader but was also the one who had also taken Jungkook under his wing as a sort of protege since the night he’d found him. But Namjoon was claimed by Kiara. Hoseok was worried about Jungkook finding a mate, and the struggles of his delicate demeanor weighed on the Alpha’s mind a lot.

 

It looked to Hoseok like Jungkook was going to present, and probably soon. But was he going to be ready for all that came along with that? This was the hard part about being Jungkook’s unofficial surrogate parents. Maybe he should pick up some pamphlets at the clinic on his way to the grocery store later that afternoon…

 

“I’ll take the kitchen, so you clean the living room,” Hoseok said decisively, swallowing the last of his lukewarm coffee and moving to the sink. Jungkook nodded, slipping out of the kitchen like a ghost.

 

It was nearly eleven o’clock by the time Yoongi sighed his way into the door, shrugging off his boots and jacket and oozing the scent of freshly tilled earth into the house, his unique Omega smell. Jungkook looked up from where he was rolling up game controller cords, sniffing the air subconsciously.

 

“They come yet?” Yoongi asked, and Jungkook shook his head. The Omega flopped down onto the couch, groaning. “They had us doing superman stretches this morning for their own amusement. They really wanted to punish the cadets today, and I’ve been slacking off due to it being so hot.”

 

“Superman stretches?” Jungkook queried, tilting his head.

 

“Yeah, I’ll show them to you later if you want,” Yoongi tilted back until his cheek rested against the back of the couch. “The place looks nice, by the way. Is Hoseok awake?”

“He said he couldn’t get back to sleep after you left, so he’s been cleaning. He finished the kitchen and now he’s trying to air the hallway out after Namjoon and Kiara this morning.”

 

Yoongi sighed, looking apologetic. “I’ll go help him out, then.”

 

It was only a matter of minutes later when Jungkook heard the crunch of gravel in the driveway, and he peered carefully through the curtains to see an old blue pickup truck. Two forms were moving inside, and he could hear their voices. The spindly pine tree in the front yard obscured his view, but he could see the glimpse of a brown head of hair, and suddenly his heart seemed to leap into his throat, although he wasn’t sure why. Jungkook found himself ducking back into the kitchen and curling up underneath the table again. He hurriedly arranged his blankets around himself and pulled out one of his comics, laying it out on the seat of one of the chairs and trying to look settled in. The doorbell rang, and he jumped out of nervousness, praying someone else would answer. After the third ring Namjoon tumbled down the stairs, looking much more put-together than he had that morning and calling out, “Coming!”

 

Jungkook watched him throw open the door and warm greetings started to mingle together in a family-reunion sort of air. Kiara came down the stairs just after, as did the other three boys, and introductions were tossed between them.

 

“This is my little brother Taehyung, and my older brother Seokjin.”

 

Jungkook could only see the two of them from the waist down, but he watched from his spot solemnly while Yoongi and Hoseok exchanged greetings. One of them wore black jeans with rips in the thighs, pale skin showing through and a pair of sensible blue sneakers. The other wore a dark sweater and a pair of oversized black pants that made Jungkook want to snort with laughter, since his clothes looked more like old man pants cut into a large, unskillful rectangle shape than anything else. There was a gap between the tops of his black leather sandals and the bottom of the pant leg that was several centimeters, and Jungkook watched the skin of the boy’s tanned ankles curiously while the others made small talk.

 

Kiara sat down on the couch, and Jungkook could see her clearly through the open double-wide doorway to the living room. She looked exhausted but pretty as usual, and she brushed her curly bangs out of her eyes as she smiled. “I can see the resemblance between you three, must be a Kim family trait to be so handsome.”

 

Jungkook was about to snort with laughter, but Yoongi beat him to it. “Namjoon is a lot of things, but let’s be real, here. They look nothing alike.”

 

“I take after our dad’s side,” came a voice that could only belong to Taehyung, based on where everyone had been standing when Namjoon gestured his introductions, and Jungkook was surprised at how deep and gruff he sounded. He leaned forward a little, trying to catch a glimpse of the new kid. Taehyung’s hand dangled down at his waist, long, pretty, tanned fingers curled around a cell phone and entangled with a set of green earbuds.

 

“Where’s Jungkookie at?” Namjoon queried, taking a step towards the spare bedroom. “He knew they were on their way, right?”

“Yeah, he was just here,” Yoongi murmured contemplatively. “So maybe he’s--”

 

Jungkook jumped when Taehyung bent at the waist and suddenly popped his head below the surface of the table mere inches from Jungkook’s face. Both of them stared at each other for a long moment, eyes wide in equal parts surprise and curiosity. Jungkook’s first thought was that Yoongi was right, Namjoon and Taehyung looked nothing alike. Not that Namjoon was ugly (honestly, Jungkook thought that a somber, coffee-blooded Namjoon hard at work, with his eyebrows knitted a bit together was intimidatingly handsome) but Taehyung looked unearthly pretty, with dark, intense eyes and a high, noble arch to his nose and a deep warmth to his skin tone that made Jungkook suddenly compelled to reach out and touch to see if he emanated a little heat of his own, like his coloring would suggest. His hair was dyed to a reddish-brown color, and his bangs fell heavily into his eyes, framing his face as though trying to downplay the beauty there.

 

After a moment, Taehyung’s serious appraisal of Jungkook was ended with a low sniffle, and then Taehyung beamed at him with a squarish sort of grin that looked unbridled and down-to-earth in a way that threw Jungkook off more than him popping under the table had. It was disarming, the way he smiled, and Jungkook found himself starting to smile back.

 

“Jungkookie, right?” Taehyung asked, and he got a quiet nod in response. He expected Taehyung to poke fun of the fact that he was sitting under the table when there was a perfectly good half-empty couch just a few feet away, but instead Taehyung fell to his hands and knees and crawled under with him. “I’m Taehyung!”

 

“Hi,” Jungkook said awkwardly. There was a moment in the atmosphere between them where Taehyung put off an aura of kind acceptance, and Jungkook was still reeling from that particular sensation when suddenly Tae leaned forward into his personal space, almost touching his nose to Jungkook’s neck, and sniffing audibly. “W-what--?”

“You smell nice,” Taehyung commented candidly, pulling back with a contented look. “You smell like an Omega, too.”

 

Jungkook stared at him for a moment, a little dumbfounded. “I...I haven’t presented yet.”

 

“Me neither,” Taehyung tilted his head to the side, his lips spread wide into an understanding smile. “But I’ll bet you’re an Omega. I was right about all my friends.”

 

“I guess we’ll leave the kids alone to bond for a while,” Hoseok chuckled, drawing the two of them back out of their private conversation for a moment. “Oh, don’t mind us,” Hoseok waved dismissively at them, then stretched his long, slender arms out in front of him. “We’re gonna go take Seokjin on a tour of the house.”
 

Jungkook looked up, craning his neck to see properly from under the table, and felt his heart stop momentarily at the look that Seokjin was giving him. Yoongi had been right - Taehyung and Seokjin looked nothing like Namjoon, like they were all three different branches of their family tree. But just as Taehyung had been beautiful, Seokjin was breathtaking. Jungkook was starting to feel his palms sweat. He’d heard from Namjoon that his older brother was pre-med, and had gone through a lot of murderous months of study to get into a better program in the city on scholarships, so he was already intimidating, as far as Jeong ‘Cs Make Degrees’ Jungkook was concerned. But now Seokjin was staring at him with the cold sort of stare one gave a recently presented problem, with lips slightly parted and his hands tightly clutching his backpack, brown hair curling down into dark eyes. Even from the distance between them, Jungkook could smell the Alpha coming off of him. He looked cold. Beautiful but cold.

 

In that moment, he was sure Kim Seokjin didn’t like him. Not one bit.


 

Jimin looked between the two newcomers and Jungkook, looking a little concerned, before following Yoongi up the stairs after hearing his name called.


 

Taehyung sent Hoseok a thumbs up, and the four elder wolves shuffled upstairs, and Jungkook could breathe again. Once they had left, Taehyung sent Jungkook another beaming smile, but this one was laced with a little shyness. “You’re younger than me, right? I’m finally a hyung!”

 

Jungkook’s lips twitched in amusement. “So you’re Taehyung-hyung.”

 

That made the angel-faced boy roll his eyes. “Can you shift much yet?”

“Yeah, you?”

 

“I can, but it takes me a long time to shift back,” Taehyung said.

 

Giving a nod, Jungkook said, “I’m trying to cut down my shift-back time, too.”

 

It was then that Tae gave a little tilt of his head. “What’s your major?”

 

“Um...I haven’t decided yet,” Jungkook mumbled. “I was thinking something like social work or law enforcement?”

 

“Ah, I’m studying criminal justice!” Taehyung shifted in, gingerly tucking the edge of Jungkook’s blanket over his legs so that they were sharing. “You should major in it, and we can study together. I’m going to be a private investigator.”

 

“I was thinking about the police force…” Jungkook found himself saying. He hadn’t even told Namjoon that yet, but Taehyung’s eyes sparkled with interest, compelling him to share.

 

“Wow, that’d be cool!”

 

By the time Hoseok came downstairs later, the two wolves under the table were curled up around each other, asleep.

 

“They’re so cute,” he sighed, straightening his back and sending a fond smile at the sleeping boys. “It’s good that he has someone closer to his age in the house now. Jimin is great, but he tends to have a bit of a hyung complex...and Jungkook passing him up in height last month hasn’t helped, in all honesty.”

 

“How old is Jungkook?” Seokjin asked quietly, gently opening the cupboards and glancing mindlessly through their contents out of habit. It wasn’t that he was hungry, it was more like a dulled survival instinct, checking that there was food in the new place so his mind could rest assured.

 

“He’s about to turn 18 in September, so there’s about 2 years between them?”

 

Seokjin, however, was doing a different calculation in his head. He nodded quietly. An awkward silence passed between the two Alphas, and Seokjin shuffled his weight from foot to foot. True, moving in with Namjoon had been the most economical decision, but Seokjin wasn’t sure how he should deal with being adopted into a pack at last. His last attempt at it hadn’t gone so well. Hoseok reached out and laid his hand on Seokjin’s shoulder, and the weight of that tender hand wasn’t lost on him.

 

“Hey, you okay? It’ll take some time to find out where, but you two will fit in, I promise.” Hoseok sent Seokjin a warm smile, and he nodded gratefully. “I know you’re older than me and another Alpha to boot but, you know… you can come to me if you need anything at all.”

 

“Thanks, I really appreciate that.” Seokjin’s eyes sparkled a little, and he covered the hand on his shoulder with his own knobbly ones. “And I may be the oldest Alpha, but in the end, Namjoon’s the leader here, so… don’t worry about it too much. It’s not like I’ll be challenging his authority.”

 

Hoseok met Seokjin’s gaze for a minute, an understanding on his face. He smiled. “I think we’re gonna get along just fine.”

 


 

 

132 DAYS

~~~~~

The first morning after the Kim brothers moved in Jungkook woke up to the sound of dishes clanging and oil sizzling. The smell was even more poignant, and Jungkook sniffed appreciatively at the air - the warm, greasy smell of eggs and bacon drifted through the air like a welcome home. Jungkook shifted, peeking around until his head and pillow were sticking out of the bottom of one of the kitchen chairs, surprised to see none other than Seokjin. His back was turned as he stirred the contents of the pan with a pair of long metal chopsticks.

 

Jungkook frowned, his brow furrowing. He somehow hadn’t thought Seokjin was the domestic cooking type, but based on the smell in the kitchen he wasn’t burning it, at least, and that was something. Too bad he doesn’t like me. He probably wouldn’t give me scraps, either. Jungkook stared up at the broad back stretched before him, bare and muscular. Seokjin turned his head and Jungkook caught full view of his serious-faced profile. He didn’t even look real.

 

Make him like you, a voice in his head screeched. He didn’t want to be the cause of tension in the household, especially if it was going to cause problems with the whole pack if he didn’t get along with Seokjin. He just didn’t know why Seokjin seemed to have a bad first impression of him.

 

Try something cool and casual-like. Like ‘What’s cooking, good looking?’

 

Jungkook bit back first a groan, then a laugh. Oh god, no. I would punch myself if I said that.

 

It turned out he didn’t have a chance for any sort of comment, cringe-worthy or not, because suddenly Jin turned around, and seeing Jungkook’s head poking out from under the dining room chair, the cool, handsome exterior evaporated in an instant as Seokjin screamed, the sound making Jungkook jump and whack his funny bone against the table leg.

 

“Oh my god!” Seokjin laid a hand on his chest, gasping as he realized who it was. Jungkook’s first thought was that his scream sounded masculine but nothing at all like he would have imagined.  “J-Jungkook? Are you always under there or something?”

 

“Only when I want to be,” Jungkook replied quietly, shrugging as he crawled out from underneath the table. To his surprise, Seokjin looked a little thrown off by his off-the-cuff reply, his lips pursed as he stared, first at Jungkook, then at the ugly owl clock on the wall(which Yoongi had picked out at a yard sale a few months ago and repaired by himself, much to everyone’s chagrin).

 

“What are you making?” Jungkook asked, sniffing the air and stepping toward the stove and (by default) Seokjin. The scent of scrambled eggs was suddenly consumed by a smell a lot like the smell of powdered detergent. Seokjin held up a hand, backing up until he was bumped up against the counter with his hips. “Uh, what are you doing?” he asked.

 

“Looking?” Jungkook arched an eyebrow, unsure where the cool, calm exterior had gone.

 

“Um, I’m making scrambled eggs and bacon, is all. Nothing fancy.” Seokjin wasn’t meeting his eyes, probably still thrown by thinking a random head had appeared on the kitchen floor at his feet.

 

“Smells good.” Jungkook looked over at the pan, watching as Jin swooped in to save his breakfast.

 

“Thanks, do you want some?”


“Um, sure. If that’s okay.” Jungkook hoped his stomach wouldn’t growl and give away how hungry for real-looking food he was “You cook, then, huh?”

 

“Yeah, my mom taught me how to cook. She said it’s good for a man to be able to feed himself. Or others.”

 

“That’s cool, “Jungkook said, leaning in. A thought caught his attention. “Hey, could you teach me? Hoseok can make some things, but to be honest, they’re more like weird concoctions than real food…”

 

“Um….sure, I guess.”

 

Jungkook looked up to see Seokjin seemingly busying himself with a container of salt, and instantly he wondered if he had gotten too comfortable again. Seokjin’s cool, distant exterior was slipping back in. “Um, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to, really.”

 

“No, it’s fine,” Seokjin amended. Jungkook was in the process of determining whether or not to believe him when he looked up and smiled at him. Jungkook instantly felt goosebumps rise up on his arms. Seokjin’s whole face seemed to transform under just that change of expression, looking warm and childlike, the edges of his jaw squaring out and his lips wrapped in endearing creases, as if he someone had tucked his mouth into parentheses. Jungkook completely forgot for a moment the cold impression he had initially been clinging onto. What had suddenly made him look so happy, almost blissful?

 

“Hey,” Seokjin started to chuckle, “Just as a warning, I’m not eggactly a professional chef.”

 

Jungkook stared at Seokjin for a moment, dumbfounded as his words sunk in. Then, a smile crept and crackled its way across his face unbidden. “Did you really just…?”

 

Seokjin, meanwhile, had started to laugh at Jungkook’s reaction, a surprisingly breathlessly high-pitched sound, a series of tight little gasps, a contagious sort of laugh that made Jungkook grin. It was only 8 in the morning on a Friday but Jungkook had already experienced more than his daily share of surprises.

 

Then, Seokjin’s laughing expression dropped, and he looked at Jungkook as if he had just said something wrong. Seokjin twitched his nose, wiping at it with the back of his hand before moving to sit at the table.

 

They ate breakfast in a silence that was mostly awkward, especially since Jungkook hesitated, looking forlornly at his bedding under the table before taking a seat across from Seokjin. He could feel the elder’s eyes on him, as if silently asking if he was going to crawl under or not out of curiosity, and Jungkook felt his cheeks flush. Now that their moment of talking about cooking was gone, they faltered off suddenly down a precipice into awkward silence. Eventually, they both ended up scrolling mindlessly through their phones, not meeting each other’s eyes.

 


 

 

118 DAYS

~~~~~

It was two weeks after the Kim brothers moved in, and Jungkook was on dish duty with Jimin. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but Jimin was extra clingy these days. It had been worse before Taehyung had moved in, able to split Jimin’s attentions between them depending on who was in a better, more welcoming mood, but he was still extremely needy. He nuzzled against Jungkook’s neck, his nose and lips pressed to the little raise of his skin where he knew he’d find Jungkook’s scent gland. He inhaled deeply after he’d finished scenting, the mix of his own pepperminty smell and Jungkook’s salt and leather one causing an appreciative purr in his throat. It had taken almost a full year of living together before Jungkook had let Jimin Scent him, but now that he had, it was just a part of living in the pack house. Sometimes, he woke up and Jimin was curled up over the edge of his mattress, nose buried deep in the crook of Jungkook’s neck. It had been a shock the first time, but now Jimin clung to him so much he tended to just let him do as he pleased. Jungkook had severely disappointed the older boy by not being particularly inclined to chase after and Scent Jimin in reply, a cause of constant consternation between them.

 

“You smell like my hometown sometimes, Jungkookie,” Jimin brushed his hand at the hair on the nape of Jungkook’s neck, causing him to shiver involuntarily as goosebumps rose on his skin. “Are you sure we aren’t both from Busan?”

 

“I dunno,” Jungkook said dismissively, drying a plate with a small hand towel that probably was already in that questionable state of ‘is it stained or dirty?’ that none of them tended to question too closely. “I don’t remember.”

 

“It smells so nice, like the beach.” Jimin sighed, caught up in the nostalgia.

 

“You’re supposed to be washing, Jimin.”

 

Jimin hummed, acknowledging and moving closer to the sink but his attention was still on the youngest wolf. “When you present I bet you’ll smell even prettier. All the other packs will want you to join them, maybe even Nobles. Just remember your loving hyung Park Jimin, okay?” He leaned in and nuzzled against Jungkook’s jawline, bumping him upwards a little crudely and making Jungkook’s teeth clunk together a bit. “Jiminie loved you first.”

 

“What are you even talking about?” Jungkook laughed a little, despite himself. He was still unused to some of the more complicated pack dynamics, since he had been without one for so long. Normally Namjoon or Hoseok tried to help him keep up by explaining, but it’s hard to know what holes in education to fill when you grew up with the privilege of a proper pack.

 

“Well, you know wolves can move between packs,” Jimin pulled his plastic gloves back on and reached into the bubbly dishwater wrist-deep. “Some packs are made out of more ‘elite’ wolves, like Nobles.”

 

“Nobles? That’s like purebreds, right?”

 

“Mmm...kinda,” Jimin’s voice had taken on the gentle air it did when he was taking care of Jungkook more like a little brother than a packmate, his expression light-hearted which meant his words were more important to pay attention to. “It’s kind of a complicated term nowadays, since there are more strict rules on in-breeding because of all the medical issues it caused. But basically, Nobles have more of the pure blood from older, established families.” He rinsed off a plate and handed it to Jungkook, adding with a smile, “They tend to have older, established money, too. Namjoon comes from a Noble bloodline.”

“He does?” Jungkook’s eyes were wide and curious, and he dried the plate with only half the attention he should have.

 

“Yeah, all the Kim brothers do. That’s why we’ll finally be able to hunt properly on established territory, instead of using the public parks. So you’ll get to a real, proper hunt in a few weeks.”

 

Jungkook crinkled his nose, thinking about the public parks set aside for hunts, reservations that had more wolves coming through than hands to tend to it, leaving mostly a barren wasteland with too many mingled scents and not enough game. His hyungs had talked fondly of established territories, lush forests left exclusively for a certain pack that owned it, with trees that were actually alive and game aplenty, and no acres of fields with thousands of footpaths from wolves pounding through on the daily. “That sounds a lot nicer.”

 

“You’ll love it, Jungkookie. You’re already better at hunting than I was at your age.” Jimin gave a sly little smile, tilting his head to the side cutely as he sighed, “Ahh, to be young again.”

 

In response, Jungkook jutted his hip out and bumped it into Jimin, who stumbled over, dishwater dripping over the edges of the sink. “Hey!” Jimin cried out, lifting his knee up until he could kick at Jungkook’s waist, making him chuckle as he fended off the attack by grabbing the spray nozzle and turning the water on, splatting Jimin with a single shot of water, and making him screech.

 

There was a sudden yip behind them, a young wolf padding into the kitchen, his fur a sort of white with gray spots dotted across his face, and his eyes were a vibrant gold. Taehyung yipped again, his front paws lifting off the ground like he was patting at the tile, and Jungkook laughed before shooting the wolf with a spray of water as well. Taehyung snapped at the spray of water excitedly, trying to catch it in his mouth as Jungkook tried to get him in the face instead. He blinked, wiping a paw at his nose for a moment, before happily yipping again.

 

“Taehyung, what are yo--” Seokjin stepped into the kitchen, slipping instantly on the soaked tile an flailing back and forth for a few comedic moments, his bare feet dashing back and forth before he leaned back and to the side, catching himself on the island by his elbow with a painful-sounding grunt. Jungkook and Jimin froze, the nozzle still in Jungkook’s hand, and Taehyung’s ears twitching up and down in shocked wonder. Seokjin caught his breath for a moment before turning to glare at them. “Are you trying to kill someone?!” he snapped. Jungkook took note of the fact that his eyes were locked on Jungkook, not the other two, and he felt his neck heat up from embarrassment.

 

“S-sorry..” he said quietly, slipping the spray nozzle back in its holder. Seokjin stood for a moment, staring at Jungkook as if to add something else, and then promptly turned and walked out of the kitchen without another word.

 

With all the wounded ignominy of children berated by their parent, the two boys quietly went back to their task. Jungkook dropped one of the hand towels to the floor and half-heartedly pushed it around with his foot, while Jimin went back to washing.

 

“I told you he hated me,“ Jungkook mumbled under his breath.

 

Jimin sighed, “He does not. He’s probably just like that.”

 

“He’ll get over it soon,” Taehyung said before them, now transformed and leaning heavily over Jimin’s shoulder. “He usually doesn’t get angry for long.” In the last couple of weeks, Taehyung had slipped in naturally with the younger wolves, and during that time they had discovered he had a propensity for nibbling. His teeth dug gently into Jimin’s shoulder, not scratching the skin there but irritating it until it was raised and reddening. “He’s really a big softie.”

 

“I just don’t know what I did to make him dislike me,” Jungkook murmured quietly.

 

“Seokjin is easy, he gets along with most anybody,” Taehyung reassured him. “He’s not the one to worry about.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means you can be a little standoffish too, Jungkookie,” Jimin chided in his quiet way, “You haven’t exactly tried to talk to him in more than monosyllables since he’s been here.”

 

Jungkook wanted to say that that was because Seokjin scared him just a little, intimidated him with his cool beauty, but that seemed too much to admit. They hadn’t had a proper conversation since that first morning, and Jungkook tended to hover silently on the edge of the room whenever Seokjin was present.  He frowned, and Jimin nudged up against him, also effectively shaking Taehyung off his shoulder.

 

“Just talk to him!”

 

Tucking his chin into his chest, Jungkook blinked hard, trying to relax the way his throat constricted in nerves. He knew Jimin was right. Jimin had been right to push him when he’d first moved in, and he’d been so shy that whenever they told him to talk, he’d gotten so nervous he cried. Jimin had been right that Namjoon was someone Jungkook could trust with his life. Jimin was right about a lot of things, a deep source of wisdom wrapped in a soft sweetness. Peppermint suited Jimin.

 

“Okay…” Jungkook swallowed heavily, drying the last pan. “I’ll try.”

 

“Fighting!” Jimin encouraged with a cheer.

 

A few hours later, Jungkook was sitting on the ground behind the couch reading a comic book when he heard the springs creak and a soft groan as someone sat down. He tilted his face upwards to look and saw the back of Seokjin’s head. He was dressed in a bright-orange T-shirt and grey sweatpants, a medical textbook balanced on his knees as he sucked on a popsicle. There was a long moment where Jungkook froze, uncertainty bubbling up in the pit of his stomach, but then Seokjin unknowingly made the first move. Absentmindedly, Seokjin scratched at the back of his neck, and Jungkook caught a strong whiff of Seokjin’s scent again. Without thinking, Jungkook found himself up on his knees behind the couch, his hands gently draped across the headrest as he leaned in and sniffed into the base of that long, pale neck. It really was like some kind of soap or detergent, a strong smell but not overwhelming. He just smelled clean and homey and comforting. At first he had thought it was actually the soap Seokjin used, but this smell was different, it emanated from his skin and drew Jungkook in, until his nose brushed up against the skin there with a feather-light touch.

 

Seokjin gave a yelp at the contact, jerking up from the couch like he had spotted a spider and craning his head around. Jungkook’s eyes shot open, even though he didn’t remember having shut them in the first place, and he instinctively shrunk until he was almost hidden behind the couch. He expected Seokjin to snap at him or yell, but instead the man’s eyes just flashed at him in surprise and warning, his lips slightly parted.

 

“S-sorry! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you…” He swallowed thickly, forcing himself to meet the elder’s eyes, that still flickered with the red around the irises with the signs of an Alpha. He stood up from behind the couch, feeling somehow exposed. “It’s just… your scent is really nice.”

 

In response, Seokjin suddenly blinked hard at him, his eyes no longer their dangerous red, looking confused. “What?”

 

“Your scent? It’s like soap or something. I… I like it.”

 

There was an awkward moment of tense silence that hung between them, making Jungkook feel a bit nauseated, and then Seokjin gave a little sniff at the air. “You’re not presented, though?”

 

Jungkook bit his lip, shuffling his weight from foot to foot. “No, I’m not.” He stared down at his feet for a moment, then back up at Seokjin, adding a quiet, “Sorry.”

 

“Why do you keep doing that?” Seokjin frowned, and that taut expression Jungkook could only label as dislike flashed across his face again.

 

“Doing what?”

 

“Apologizing. Every time I see you, you’re apologizing to me.”

 

“Sorry?” tumbled out of Jungkook’s mouth, and then he gave a little smirk as he looked up at Seokjin, who rolled his eyes and chuckled.

 

“Brat,” he lifted the popsicle back to his mouth to catch before it started dripping. “But I’m your hyung, right? So you should just treat me normally.” Jungkook somehow felt that buried within the light-hearted tone, Seokjin was trying to convince himself as well that that was how it should be. But the effort was still appreciated.

 

“Okay, Seokjin-hyung.”

 

Another silence enveloped them, with Seokjin nibbling at his popsicle while Jungkook fiddled with the edges of his T-shirt, wondering what constituted a comfortable or uncomfortable silence. At last, Seokjin removed the popsicle stick from his mouth, smacking his lips as though he’d made a big decision.

 

“You can finish Scenting me if you’d like, you know,” Seokjin told him casually, “I don’t mind. You just surprised me.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widened. “Really?”

 

Seokjin nodded, and he got the impression that the offer wasn’t going to be stated twice, so Jungkook slipped around the couch, his hand tentatively reaching out to rest on Seokjin’s shoulder as he leaned in to the man’s neck again. His movements were tantalizingly slow, afraid at any moment that Seokjin would change his mind or snap at him, but the curiosity towards the calming smell overpowered his timidity. After a few moments, Seokjin’s shoulders relaxed, and he tugged aside the collar of his T-shirt with one hand, revealing the skin of his shoulder and collarbone. Jungkook sighed heavily, closing his eyes and laying his cheek against the delicate warmth of Seokjin’s shoulder. It was like crawling beneath the softness of freshly laundered sheets, curling up within it and having nothing to rush off and do, nowhere to hurry, so Jungkook allowed himself to sink within that comforting image.

 

After awhile, he felt Seokjin’s hands on his shoulders, and he lifted his head up in concern only to find Seokjin’s face buried below his jaw a moment later, the quiet sounds and slight coolness of Seokjin’s breath as he inhaled Jungkook’s scent, making him shudder involuntarily, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. He was suddenly overwhelmed by the inclination to wrap his arms around those shoulders, much broader and more intimidating than his own. It confused him, since he usually didn’t feel inclined to such moments of skinship, even with Jimin. So why was it different now?

 

“Mmm,” Seokjin hummed appreciatively into the delicate skin of Jungkook’s neck, and he actually shivered, then. “You smell like saltwater and… leather?”

 

Jungkook nodded, not sure why he was suddenly unable to speak. Then, Seokjin’s face pressed closer, until Jungkook could feel the hot wetness of Seokjin’s lips pressed against his shoulder. There was a ring of coolness at the center of Seokjin’s lips from when he’d been eating the popsicle a minute ago, and Jungkook could feel his body suddenly heat up, goosebumps rising on his arms and his eyes rolling back slightly into his head, lashes fluttering until his eyes were closed. He reached out his hands to grab at Seokjin’s sleeves, and then--

 

“Have you guys seen my helmet?” Hoseok’s voice interrupted abruptly as he strode into the living room, halting suddenly when he saw Seokjin and Jungkook leaping away from each other like the other was a hot-iron, their faces flushed. Seokjin wiped at his lips conspicuously with the back of his hand. “Um… everything okay?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Seokjin said, a quite natural-looking smile coming to his face, but Jungkook could see that the man’s neck was flushing a bright pink. Despite himself, he smiled bashfully, biting at his lip to try and hold it back as he lifted his eyes to Hoseok. They were just Scenting, that wasn’t a big deal within a pack, so why did he feel guilty?

 

Hoseok gave them both a wary look, glancing between them with his gaze lingering a little longer on Seokjin, before he walked out of the room.

 

“Um, I’ll go help him look for his helmet,” Jungkook said suddenly, rushing out of the room.

 

He didn’t see Seokjin staring at his retreating back, a dark look on his face.

Chapter Text

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."

- Lao Tzu

 


 

88 DAYS

~~~~~

“JK, hand me that bungee cord, will you?” Seokjin called out from his perch, standing in the bed of the truck, bent awkwardly over a pile of military-grade backpacks and supplies. Jungkook stretched out, lifting one foot out behind him to give his arms a couple more inches of reach as Seokjin’s crooked fingers curled around the cool black hook on the bungee. The Alpha nodded his thanks, strapping the cord around the pile of sleeping bags stacked against the window of the cab, threading the black rubber through the nylon ties on each bag to secure them.

 

“Jin-hyung.” Yoongi stepped out onto the porch, the screen door clattering behind him. “I fixed the generator, you still got room?”

 

“I literally just strapped the last of the luggage in,” Seokjin sighed in exasperation, leaning against the truck roof. “But I’ll figure it out if you bring it out here.”

 

“Hey, muscle pig, go get the 2x4s from the shed,” Yoongi jutted his thumb over at the aforementioned shed, slipping back inside just long enough to roll out a large, heavy gas generator. There was a groaning sound as it pressed down on the two wheels attached to the back when he lifted the red metal handlebar. Jungkook hurried to retrieve the 2x4s before Yoongi could reach the back of the truck, helping Seokjin drop the hatch and lay the boards down as a sort of basic ramp, then helping Yoongi line the wheels up. It only took a few moments between them to push the generator up into Seokjin’s waiting hands. Jungkook leaned against the side of the truck, watching Seokjin’s bare upper arms pulse and strain as he pumped at the crank on Yoongi’s spare adjustable straps, each pull accompanied by an audible click and the rising smell of axle grease until the generator was virtually immovable from its spot against the side, wrapped up in one of the sleeping bags as a cushion. Yoongi raised two full gas tanks and tucked them into the back corner with an echoing thunk of metal being struck, then went inside to collect the others. The mid morning light was still drying the last of the chilly dew from the surface of the grass and the truck, but it still promised to be a clear, sunny day ahead.

 

“How far away is the island?” Jungkook asked, resting his cheek against his palm.

 

“Only about...three, maybe three and a half hours? Depending on if we hit traffic on the freeway or not.” Seokjin tugged at the sleeping bag that covered the generator. “Did you call in to the campus police and tell them you won’t be taking the night shift for a few days?”

 

“I texted my boss,” Jungkook said. “He said it’s fine. Since I’m only a first year, I’m not on the priority call list anyways.” After a moment, he stared at the generator and the pile of bags, then asked, “Will we really need all of this stuff, if we’re only going overnight?”

“Hopefully not,” Seokjin hummed, “But this is basic safety procedures. You never know if you’ll run into a pack going into a high heat, or if someone will get injured, if the weather will get bad, or you’ll get lost or separated. So even if it’s just one night, we have to pack carefully, as if we’re going for a couple weeks.” He lifted his face up to smile. “Don’t worry. Yoongi seems like a really professional packer, I’m sure we have everything we need and more.”

 

Seokjin dropped down from the truck, crossing his arms to look approvingly at their packing job. After a moment, he looked over at Jungkook and sent him one of his atmosphere-altering smiles. “Well, then. We did pretty well, huh?”

 

Jungkook nodded, and something in the gesture made Seokjin halt.

 

“You’re really excited about this hunt, aren’t you?” Seokjin asked, almost incredulous in his tone. When Jungkook nodded, Seokjin gave a little chuckle and ruffled at the boy’s hair. “Can’t wait to see what you’re made of, pup.”

 

Jungkook smiled broadly, all teeth and crinkled nose. “I wanna see hyung hunt, too,” he said. Suddenly, Seokjin’s hand froze on his head. Jungkook lifted his chin so as to nudge his way closer into Seokjin’s palm, and the Alpha’s smile returned.

 

The others started to pile out of the house, Jimin tugging on the sleeve of Taehyung’s oversized black sweatshirt as they clambered into the bed of the truck. Jungkook watched Seokjin walk over to the driver’s side door, the Alpha laughing as he teased Namjoon about his brown-gray beanie with the stitching of a duck on the front. As the youngest, Jungkook was also designated to the bed of the truck for the ride. He looked on as Yoongi gestured Kiara and Hoseok into the back, before he slid into the last open seat in the cab, right behind Seokjin.

 

“Jungkook, come on, let’s go!” Jimin called out, waving him on. With a nod, he stepped up onto the bumper and swung himself into the bed, snuggling in between the boys as they arranged themselves as comfortably as they could against the small wall of sleeping bags. The truck roared to life and they pulled out of the driveway, and Jungkook watched the house vanish behind the half-dead oak tree on the corner. He hugged his knees to his chest, the cool wind of early October blowing around their faces and brushing their hair into their eyes. Taehyung and Jimin leaned in against his shoulders, laughing as they discussed what kind of game they hoped they’d catch. Jungkook didn’t have much to add, since he had only been able to catch small game like rabbits or some birds during their short excursions to the public parks. That in itself was quite a feat, since the land was so dead nowadays, but Jungkook wondered if he was ready to take on bigger game, or if he could keep up with the others. There was also the nagging feeling that he’d forgotten something, and he sniffed at the air, catching a whiff of Jimin’s peppermint scent pretty strongly today, He wondered why he felt like he’d left something behind when they were packing the truck or had forgotten to do something important.

 

“Jungkookie, don’t look so worried!” Taehyung said, nuzzling in and biting at the collar of Jungkook’s T-shirt where it was exposed from inside his jacket. “Just stick with us!”

 

Riding in the back of the truck was very fun at first, in all honesty. Once they left the city and got to the wide open air, the boys were positively wicked, standing up with their hands on the roof of the cab and whooping, an arm outstretched like they could catch the wind. Kiara and Hoseok kept voicing concerns that the boys would fall out, but Namjoon didn’t seem overly worried, and Jungkook could hear Seokjin’s laughter from inside, occasionally able to see his eyes crinkled by a smile in the reflection of the rearview mirror, and he knew Seokjin was driving carefully. He took turns reenacting the Titanic scene with Taehyung and Jimin, and they practically fell over when Taehyung accidentally swallowed and started choking on some kind of bug. It was only an overnight trip but it felt like they were going on a vacation, a real get-away.

 

Two hours down the road, however, and the ‘fun’ of riding in the back of the truck was over. They all started tapping on the window into the cab, complaining of thirst and cold and soreness. Jimin started getting irritable at Taehyung, whining loudly and shoving the boy away and claiming he’d sat on his hand. After some discussion between the three eldest, they decided to pull over into a rest stop for a few minutes.

 

“We’re not doing as great on time as I’d hoped,” Yoongi mused, pouring over the map application on his phone and pinching and scrolling around on it. He was following behind Hoseok around the little convenience store at the rest stop half-blindly, with his head tucked down as the Alpha tossed some snacks into a shopping basket.

 

“We’re doing just fine,” Namjoon reassured him. “We’ll reach the bridge before lunch, so we can set up at camp properly before setting out.”

 

Yoongi gave a little grunt to signal that he’d heard, then looked up and blinked with the realization that Hoseok had vanished down one of the aisles.

 

He slipped into the next aisle, calling out, “Hoseok, are we getting beer? We should get beer.”

 

“Do we really need it? I thought you already packed some in the cooler, “ came the cry back, and Yoongi followed the voice until he found the Alpha.

 

“My butt hurts so much!” Jimin quietly moaned to Taehyung, rubbing the aforementioned as they walked around the store, more to stretch their legs than to actually pick out anything. “And the bed of the truck is so cold to sit on.”

 

“I told you to bring two jackets,” Taehyung stated simply, tightening the straps of his hoodie, “Warmth over fashion.”

 

Jimin frowned, “I did bring two jackets, they’re just in my backpack. It was supposed to be warming up by now, so I thought it’d be fine.”

 

“Here, Jiminie,” Hoseok slipped up to their side, pulling two hot packs out of the plastic bag. “Why don’t you guys unstrap a couple of the sleeping bags and use those on the next half of the trip?”

 

“Or just use alcohol to warm up,” Yoongi suggested, holding out a beer. Jimin sighed, taking the heat packs but waving off the offered can.

 

Seokjin was crouched down in front of some individually packed boxes of cereal, contemplating cornflakes when he sensed Jungkook behind him. He looked up, offering a little smile to the younger. “Hyung… would it be alright if I switch places with Yoongi-hyung?”

 

“Hm? That’s really up to Yoongi,” Seokjin hummed, picking up two different cereals and turning them over in his hands, as though holding them would offer better insight as to which he was craving more. “Why?”

 

“Um, I’m feeling carsick, and it’d be easier to watch the road from the cab,” Jungkook lied. It was one of those small lies he almost made himself believe, a small lie told without knowing why it had to be a lie. “I think Jimin should come out from the cold, too, actually. So maybe we could all switch for the last hour?”

 

“That seems reasonable, but you should be asking Namjoon about it, not me, don’t you think?” Seokjin was staring at Jungkook now, his cereal forgotten as he arched an eyebrow. Jungkook felt his neck heat up with embarrassment as he realized Seokjin was right - it wasn’t his decision, he wasn’t the pack leader or ‘in charge’ of this trip, in the proper sense of the word.

 

“Um, yeah, I just wanted to check with you first? Because you’re the driver.” Jungkook felt awash with relief at his own fast-thinking recovery. Seokjin seemed to buy the reason as suitable, nodding his head and patting the back of Jungkook’s neck.

 

“Well, it’s fine with me.”

 

A few minutes later, Jungkook was tucked into the seat behind Seokjin’s, his arms around the driver seat headrest as he rested his mouth against the upholstery there. The others were still readjusting the blankets in the back for those now shifted to the truck bed, and Jungkook, Seokjin and Jimin were waiting in the car. Jungkook leaned forward, his fingers reaching into Seokjin’s hair and massaging lightly at the back of the man’s head. Seokjin’s expression relaxed, his blinks coming a little more lazily.  In little waves and drifts, Seokjin’s clean, refreshing scent wafted back to Jungkook, catching his attention. He inhaled before straining to squeeze into confining space around the headrest, rising halfway out of his seat to press as closely as he could to the scent gland on the Alpha’s neck and breathing in long and deep. His head gave a little rush and the traces of a headache that he’d been harboring and not been paying attention to suddenly lifted like a curtain.

 

Oh, that was what I forgot to do today,  he thought curiously. He had fallen into the habit of Scenting Seokjin a lot, but he hadn’t realized how much he had gotten accustomed to it until he had almost missed a morning. Seokjin hadn’t Scented him since that first day Hoseok had stumbled in on them, and Jungkook never asked why, but he could tell Seokjin was at least okay with Jungkook leaving his scent lingering against his mark on the regular. Frankly, the thought of a return Scenting happening again was a little frightening, even as he felt more and more comfortable with Seokjin himself. He sat back into his seat, his mouth quirking in puzzlement before he turned to look out the side window. At his side, Jimin gave a little whimper, leaning in to curl up against Jungkook’s side, Scenting him with the slight smell of jealousy to his movements. Jungkook let him Scent as long as he liked, but didn’t Scent back. The silence in the cab felt suddenly oppressive and awkward.

 

“Okay, we’re ready to go!” Namjoon declared, the doors slamming shut and Taehyung’s citrusy smell filling the back of the cab.

 

“Aw, are we cuddling?” Taehyung cooed, leaning in with a goofy smile and making childish little noises as he nuzzled up into their crooked pile of shoulders and elbows. Jimin squeaked, saying he was too sore from sitting in the bed of the truck and then insisting on using both of them as his human pillows.

 

Seokjin glanced into the rearview mirror, his eyes locking with Jungkook’s for the briefest moment as he pulled back out onto the highway. Jungkook noted with some trepidation that Seokjin was the first to look away.

 

~~~~~

 

Jungkook was listening to music on his earphones with his eyes shut when he felt Jimin poke him in the side.

 

“Here we are, boys.” Namjoon was saying with pride, looking over his shoulder at the back seat.

 

As the lead Alpha had predicted, they were crossing the bridge to the island well before noon, and all three of the young pups in the cab pressed up as tightly as they could against the windows, staring out at the water as it glimmered and shone from the sunlight. Seagulls bobbed apathetically on the small waves that tipped and moved them along, and Jungkook’s mouth dropped slack as a long, white beach stretched out in front of them, hedged by a large lush forest of more greens than Jungkook thought he’d ever seen in his life. Shallow waters quivered up against the smaller coves, smooth rocks jutting their heads out of the water like watching sea creatures, and the trees appeared infinite, curving upward into sizeable hills that seemed to roll and hold secrets in their depths. There was a chuckle from the front seat, and Namjoon turned to smile at Jungkook.

 

“Much nicer than a public park, right?”

 

“It’s beautiful..” Jungkook breathed, pressing his nose to the glass. “Is it really all for us?”


“Well, actually it’s split between four families in total, since it’s one of the bigger islands around here. Two of them are retired families, however, so they never come up here but collect taxes on it from the government for keeping it as a nature preserve. The other family has never given us any trouble, so long as we stay on our portion of the island, which is marked. It’s still a good-sized area, though. It’s...what...250 acres?” Namjoon looked over to Seokjin in question.

 

“248.3, to be exact,” Seokjin’s warm voice responded, his eyes trained on the road ahead. “Because the Locklears claimed that burial site at the northern point.”

 

“Right,” Namjoon hummed. “But we wouldn’t want to use that anyways.” He craned his head over his shoulder to signal that he was speaking to the kids in the back again, and added, “It’s one of three islands that our father owns. I talked to him last summer about letting me have my own hunting ground, since our pack has gotten so big so quickly, and he said it was time enough for me to run the place myself. But this island was originally supposed to be inherited by Seokjin, and I was supposed to get an island about an hour north along the main shoreline, so he knows more about it than I do.”

 

“Why isn’t Seokjin inheriting the island?” Jungkook asked.

 

Silence fell into the car, and Jimin stiffened a little at his side, making him feel like he’d done something wrong.  The atmosphere seemed to crackle uncomfortably. The roar of the engine echoed into the quiet of the cab, and Namjoon just looked over at Seokjin with a look of concern on his face.

 

At last, Seokjin spoke up, putting on a little smile as he looked up at Jungkook through the rearview. “Because Namjoon is a pack leader, Jungkook, and I’m not. So I have no need for it unless I decide to break off and make my own pack in the future. It’s not unheard of for a firstborn to be under a younger lead Alpha, but it’s not very common. If I decide to leave our pack and make my own, there is still the smaller island that can be left to me, depending on what our father decides.”

 

“You aren’t going to do that, are you?” Jimin breathed, suddenly leaning forward, his voice slightly strained. “Leave us and form your own pack?”

 

“Yeah, you’re not going to leave the pack, are you?” Jungkook’s voice mirrored Jimin’s own panic, and both boys leaned in over the headrest. Namjoon chuckled at the slightly nonplussed look on Seokjin’s face.

 

“No...I don’t plan on leaving,” Seokjin said placidly. “I like being part of this pack, and I honestly think Namjoon’s a good leader. I chose to join because I trust him as an Alpha.”

 

Namjoon smiled over at Seokjin, and Jungkook felt the constriction in his chest loosen a little of its ties. The window behind their heads opened, the rush of the wind deafening in their ears as Yoongi reached in a hand and slipped it into the back of Taehyung’s jacket, making the boy yip in shock at the touch of cold skin while the Omega laughed from the bed of the truck.

 

“Taehyungie, are you cold?” he teased in an impish voice, making Hoseok chide him even as he laughed as well. They pulled off the paved road onto one of rough gravel, and all of them bumped well out of their seats from the unevenness of the terrain, and Hoseok’s shouts came loudly from the back as his thin form was tossed. They could hear Kiara and Yoongi laughing, and Jungkook craned his head around to see Hoseok clutching onto the male Omega as his booted feet flew up into view.

 

When Jungkook turned back around, his head bumping up against the roof of the cab, Seokjin was pulling off onto a little dirt path off to the side, swinging smoothly into a sizable campsite. There were three wooden cabins (a large one and two smaller ones) and a large fire pit with a spit over it, surrounded by ash-covered stones and two picnic tables that stood crooked and gray off to the side. It looked somehow homey and familiar to Jungkook, despite the fact that he knew he had never been here in his life.

 

“Here we are!” Namjoon declared dramatically. The doors clattered open and they all tumbled out onto the soft overturned earth, well-trampled ground that was mostly even, save for some gnarled roots that jutted up at random intervals. Jungkook gave a deep inhale and relished in the overwhelming scent of pine, fur, dampness, and dirt that surrounded them on all sides. His hair stood on end like a thousand little pinpricks as his senses picked up on many, many little and big things that were moving out into the woods, a thunderous but silent roar of life waiting to be explored and hunted. The air was sweet and salty, green and brown, and he sighed in contentment.

 

Yoongi handed down designated bags and containers to go to the main cabin, and Namjoon led the way to the building furthest from the fire pit, the largest of the buildings. It had a slanted roof that had vines hanging from the gutter and a small wooden porch with a railing. The lead Alpha dug the keys out of his pocket and slipped one into the large metal lock, pushing the door open with a jolting creak as he handed Kiara the only other set of keys to the cabin with a purposeful smile. She laid a hand on his shoulder and followed him into the dimness.

 

The main cabin, which Namjoon called the Main Hall, was single roomed and made almost entirely out of wood. Jungkook noted that most corners of cabinets and furniture below waist level had been gnawed at, splinters of wood dangling off as signs of young teething pups that had come before. There was a simple kitchen to the left, the window over the sink facing the front porch (and therefore the dirt path leading to the main road) and a fireplace on the far wall, where sat two couches with white dust sheets clinging lazily to them.

 

After unloading most of their supplies into the security of the main cabin in a big messy heap along the empty wall, the boys grabbed their own bags from the truck and went to find their bunks.

 

“Normally it’s separated out Alphas and Omegas, with Betas choosing between,” Namjoon explained to Jimin as he walked them up the short path, leaves and branches crunching under their feet. “But I never really liked that set up, to be honest. And almost half of our pack are younger pups that haven’t presented yet, so I’m assigning you three youngest to this cabin with Seokjin, while Hoseok, Yoongi, Kiara and I will be in the other bedding cabin over there.”

 

“Aw, you mean we don’t get cuddly Yoongi to play with in our cabin?” Taehyung pouted. Yoongi rolled his eyes unconvincingly as Taehyung placed his chin on the Omega’s shoulder.

 

“Well,” Namjoon said diplomatically, “Although they won’t be officially claimed until the New Year, I’ve already approved of Yoongi becoming Hoseok’s mate, so this arrangement was made with that in mind.”

 

“Yeah, so paws off,” Hoseok sniffed dramatically, turning his nose up as he nudged Taehyung off of Yoongi. Taehyung giggled, moving to follow the others into the cabin. Jungkook lagged a bit behind, wondering why the room situation felt a little surreal for him. Maybe because he usually slept on the first floor, away from both of the newer Kim brothers, the idea of the four of them sharing the very small cabin seemed strange to him. That must have been it. But Taehyung naps with me all the time, he thought with a sigh. Maybe the long drive coupled with the nervous excitement for the hunt was just getting to him. Part of him missed his dining room table.

 

The cabin was simplistic, just two sets of rough wooden bunk beds with a small bathroom at the end.Each bunk had a little curtain to pull across for some privacy, and had a night-light and outlet for each.

 

“Wow, it’s pretty nice, huh, Jungkookie?” Jimin said, already having crawled into the lower bunk. He tugged on the little cord attached to his night-light, but no light came on.

 

“Yeah, is this even camping?” Jungkook mumbled, tossing his hefty military-grade backpack up onto his bunk. Jimin had actually lost the rock-paper-scissors match but Jungkook knew he hated sleeping so high up, so he’d chosen the top bunk and let Jimin take the bottom.

 

“Chim-Chim! Let’s share!” Taehyung crowed, barreling in and throwing himself onto Jimin, bowling them both over and making Jimin snarl grouchily.

 

“Tae, I’m still sore from the drive, you’re hurting me.”Jimin growled, pushing the boy off without ceremony. Looking wounded, Taehyung pouted, slipping off the bed and dramatically dragging his things to his own bunk.

 

“Where’s Seokjin?” Jungkook asked.

 

“Probably checking on the firewood supply with Namjoon. There’s a storage shed off the Main Hall with a couple cords at the ready, but it leaks sometimes and the wood gets a bit damp.” Taehyung explained, crawling across the mattress and tucking his sheet in. “I hope they’re quick, because I wanna get going!”

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure if it was because Taehyung was more familiar with the island or because he had been exposed to more hunts in general since being a puppy, but he seemed the most energized of the three of them by far.

 

There was a little tapping noise like glass clinking, and the night-light next to Jimin lit up. Jungkook raised his head suddenly at the sound of something rustling around beneath the window, and he pressed up against it with concern until he heard Yoongi’s distinct grunt and Seokjin’s voice. He forced the window open and peered out in time to see Yoongi sticking labels inside a light-gray metal box attached to the cabin wall. Seokjin was standing behind him with a small box of tools that it didn’t look as if it had been needed, and was talking to him about the weather forecast.

 

“These were totally unreadable,” Yoongi was mumbling under his breath, a black face mask pulled down under his chin.

 

“Hyung!” Jungkook called out, and both men looked up at him in question. He paused. He really had had no reason to call out to them, but he had wanted them both to look up and notice him. “What are you doing?”

 

“We’re going around and checking all the circuit breakers for the camp. We could do without it tonight, in all honesty, but it’s been awhile since anyone’s been up here, so it probably needs a test-run.” Yoongi shut the door of the breaker box with a loud clatter, bits of dew and leaves dripping from the top.

 

Jungkook nodded in interest, his eyes flickering over to Seokjin, who was looking at him with a soft smile. “Are you ready for the hunt, Jungkookie?”

 

“Yeah, I think we’re all settled in here.”

 

Taehyung pressed into the small opening of the window next to Jungkook, his shoulder bumping against him painfully. “Hyung, let’s go I’m ready .”

 

“Look at this excited pup,” Seokjin chuckled, playfully mimicking Taehyung’s eagerness by hunching his shoulders up and panting a little as if in excitement. Taehyung shifted a little as if he was going to do it back to Seokjin, but then decided not to, although an amused smile still softened his expression.

 

Hyuuung don’t be weird .” Taehyung rolled his eyes, stepping away from the window. Jungkook smiled toothily at the two hyungs, laughing when Seokjin did it one more time for him before turning to walk away with Yoongi.

 

“Seokjin acts different when we’re on the island,” Jungkook noted, as they made sure to empty their pockets and started for the cabin door.

 

“Yeah, he’s such a nerd,” Taehyung sighed, as if his older brother was a source of constant shame and embarrassment. But Jungkook thought that Taehyung secretly enjoyed it. Taehyung naturally led their way across the campsite.

 

“Wow, look at the beach!” Jimin said as they broke through the line of trees, the grass gradually reducing to straggling clumps dotted here and there until it broke away entirely to the white sandiness of the shoreline. The others were already there, standing looking out at the ocean. The saltiness stung at Jungkook’s nostrils, and despite the brightness of the sun overhead there was a chill to the air, making him shiver. He wondered if this was what he really smelled liked to the others, this salty coolness. “It’s so beautiful!”

 

Suddenly, Taehyung was giggling delightedly at his side, and the boys’ shoes flew away with abandon as he raced to the water’s edge, holding his pant legs up as he splashed his way in. “Uwah! It feels so nice!”

 

Seokjin kicked off his shoes, too, laying his socks across the laces before Taehyung tugged him in closer. Through laughter, Seokjin let out a dramatic cry, lifting one foot up above the foam. “Ah! It’s so cold!”

“Of course it’s cold, it’s fucking October,” Yoongi stated in a deadpan, his arms crossed over his chest as Hoseok smirked, chin tucked into Yoongi’s shoulder as he Scented him.

 

“Come on, Jungkookie!” Jimin said, grabbing Jungkook’s hand, his shoes already laid out neatly next to Seokjin’s. Jungkook nodded, leaning in on his hand clasped with Jimin’s as he lifted one boot to tug it off, nearly tripping in the process but managing it.  They splashed into the frigid water, getting Taehyung’s pants wet and making him groan.

 

Namjoon and Kiara were taking photos together with the waves in the background, and he was leaning down to press a kiss to her cheek. She let him take one photo like that, then poked at his dimples and used them to turn his face away from hers, scrunching up her nose at him and laughing as he continued to click away at the camera.

 

“Hello, there,” Taehyung said, bending down and picking up a thick strand of greenish-yellow kelp. “What’s your name?”

 

Jungkook had wandered off into the area mostly blocked off by rocks, his hand still locked with Jimin’s. The current wasn’t as strong there and there was stranded debris tossed up against the slimy surface of the rocks, little hermit crabs stuck stubbornly clinging on to fight against the tide.

 

“Jungkookie,” Jimin drew out the word in a bit of a long whine, “I don’t fee-”

 

“Look, hyung!” Jungkook’s eyes widened and he dropped down to the water suddenly, twisting his wrist until it was out of Jimin’s grasp and casually slipping his fingers around a large fish that had just started lazily swimming between his legs. Surprised that it didn’t seem concerned with swimming away or fighting, he picked it up and straightened, staring at it in disbelief. It must have been stunned, thrown up against the rocks on the shore unexpectedly, leaving it at the mercy of any passersby.

 

“What the--?!” Jimin gasped.

 

“Jungkook, what the fuck?!” Yoongi called out, his mouth agape over his camera as he blinked at Jungkook. Seokjin was just stepping out of the water but turned to look and instantly started laughing at the dumbfounded look on Jungkook’s face.

 

Hoseok stepped forward, his expression utterly confused. “Where did you get that?!”

 

Dumbly, still stunned at the catch himself, he just pointed down at the spot in front of him and said, “Here.”

 

They all started laughing, mostly from disbelief, and Jungkook found his chest warming a little in the hilarity of the moment. He looked at Seokjin, trying to catch his breath while leaning heavily against Hoseok. Emboldened, either by the salt air or the freedom of the island, Jungkook felt like being a little silly, laying the very limp and lifeless fish against his chest so it was like a tie for a suit, the long body stretching from his neck to just below his waist.

 

“Business fish,” he declared proudly, straightening his back as everyone almost collapsed in loud guffaws. But Jungkook noticed that Seokjin’s was the loudest, an endearing wheeze as he bent half-over and slapped at his knee. Jimin laughed at Jungkook’s side, leaning against his shoulder and laughing so hard he started to let out a little breathless squeak.

 

“Oh my god, Jungkookie, it looks dead, “Taehyung cried, wiping tears from his eyes as he laughed. Jungkook leaned over to set the fish gently back into the water, but it just laid there, motionless save for the ocean tugging it back and forth.

 

“You killed it,” Jimin wheezed.

 

“I did not! It was already like this!” Jungkook poked the fish in the side, and it rolled halfway over, then slowly started to move its tail fin back and forth, slowly regaining its awareness. It didn’t get very far, however, and Jungkook started to feel genuinely concerned for its well-being.

 

“Okay, it’s time to set out!” Namjoon called out, traces of that Alpha voice in his tone despite the merriment also there. They all splashed their way to circle around him and Kiara, the wind pulling at their hair as he looked intently at each of them in turn.

 

“All right, the woods here are very big, and there should be a lot of wildlife out there. But I want all of us to stay safe and healthy, okay? That’s the biggest priority. Don’t wander off on your own, always travel with at least one other wolf at your side. At least for today, I want you to avoid all large game. No bears, no boars, you know the procedure if you come across them. All catches are to be shared. Any injuries and you assume you have to return to the main pack, and then back to the cabins, unless I state otherwise. If one wolf can’t return you call out and wait there for me or another Alpha to come. The perimeters are marked by scent and by red tape, so they should be easy to spot. Don’t cross the perimeter, under any circumstances. We don’t want wars with our neighbors.”

 

“If you find yourself lost, you can smell your way back here by this,” Namjoon pulled a balled up pair of socks out of his pockets, and instantly all members of the current party leaned back and groaned in disgust.

 

“Oh my god, Namjoon, are those your dirty socks?” Jimin pinched at his nose, waving in front of his face as if that would help the smell.

 

“It’s so you can definitely remember your way back,” Namjoon explained, “It has my scent and the scent of the pack house, so it you get lost, just try to pick up on the scent. And besides, they just haven’t been washed, it’s normal dirty-smell, I swear.”

 

Seokjin hiccupped with laughter, holding his hand in front of his mouth as he whispered, “As opposed to all the other smells men put into their socks.”

 

Namjoon frowned, and Seokjin struggled to bite back his smile, the veins on his neck strained as he tried not to laugh. Namjoon shut him up really quickly by shoving the socks really close up against Seokjin’s face, making him cough and gag, then holding it out for every member to give a begrudging sniff. Namjoon turned to tie the socks to a small pole set up along the edge of the beach where the grass met the sand, the wind tugging at the grey, stained material like a gross little flag.

 

“We’ll be out until almost eleven. Now…” Namjoon laid out his hand, and they all placed their palms down one by one until they were a human-made star-shape of a connection. “After me, ‘teamwork makes the dream work!’

 

But to his surprise, no one shouted it after him, staring at him in judging silence. Bewildered, he looked up at them. “W-what?”

“‘Teamwork makes the dream work?’ Where did you get that, a quote-a-day calendar?” Yoongi snorted.

 

“Couldn’t you have picked something cooler, like ‘All for one and one for all’?” Taehyung teased.

 

Jimin shook his head, giggling, “All right, all right, I’ll admit, it’s very funny. But hyung is the lead Alpha, so…” Jimin had to pause a moment, nearly falling forward onto their still-entwined hand pile as he gave a snort of laughter, “So he gets to choose our motto .”

 

“What’s the motto with you?” Seokjin wheezed suddenly, and they were already crumbling their focus again into loud bursts of unbridled laughter until Yoongi waved them into calming down again. But even then, Jungkook had to gnaw at his lips to try and maintain control.

 

“Okay, one more time ,” Namjoon said in warning, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

 

“Teamwork makes the dream work!” Their hands shot up between them, and as they turned away, each of them shifted, snarls and groans cutting across the thunderous sound of the waves. Jungkook felt the sand rise up to meet his paws as he shifted mid-drop, barking excitedly and turning to Jimin. The older wolf was at his side, and gave a happy noise in return. Jimin’s wolf form was one of the cutest, in Jungkook’s opinion, but he never admitted it aloud because he knew Jimin wouldn’t like his wolf form of all things to be called cute . But he was definitely more rounded and muscular than Jungkook, warm golden-brown fur that was short and soft, and his tail had the sweetest curl at the end, with dark eyes and a short snout. He looked rounded and warm like a bun fresh out of the oven. Jungkook wanted to laugh at the thought, but settled for shaking the chill out of his fur, trying to get a feel for his wolf form in the new environment. Jimin nuzzled in at Jungkook, and since today was a special day, Jungkook nuzzled in back, shutting his eyes as he drowned himself momentarily in Scenting Jimin, brushing his neck up against the golden wolf’s fur and leaving his own smell. Taehyung of course nudged his way in, followed by Yoongi and Hoseok.

 

Kiara slipped over to Jungkook’s side, and the comforting, motherly scent of her Omega washed over him as she leaned in. Her fur was a complex design, like a painting of reds, blacks, and browns, and she had flecks of white all across her muzzle like the freckles she bore in human form, and her eyes were angular and attentive. She licked at his face tenderly, and he responded in kind, tucking his head beneath her chin and submitting to her, pleased at the feeling of familiar care. She nudged at him a bit roughly before leading them all back towards the edge of the beach, where the woods stretched out into dimness, an orchestra of greens, browns and grays. Namjoon, notably broader and larger than most of the other wolves, stood waiting patiently at the start of the trees. Kiara rushed to his side, her movements graceful and still quite feminine, and they brushed against each other before running off into the woods.

 

Jungkook moved to follow, when a flash of pure white caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. Whereas Namjoon and Jimin were stocky, round-limb wolves, and Jungkook and Yoongi were more of the gangly all-legs and angles type, this wolf had broad, even shoulders and thick front paws, his hip bones prominent and graceful on slender legs with a full, bristled-out tail of pure white. The fur around his head was thick and looked like a cloud. He was the wolf that people dreamed out onto the surface of paintings that hung in art galleries, emanating his own effervescent glow. Jungkook blinked. Seokjin .

 

Jimin rushed past him, waking Jungkook out of his thoughts, and they all rushed into the hunt. Jungkook’s first real hunt. The forest bed was mostly soft, made of dead leaves from autumn’s past and half-dying ferns, but it was very uneven. Jungkook had to adjust his weight carefully, unused to the rougher terrain, and found himself lagging a bit behind with Jimin. Surprisingly, only a few minutes in and the latter was already panting, uncharacteristic of the boy who often rough-housed with both Taehyung and Jungkook at once and held his own.

 

The leaves brushed against Jungkook’s black fur, dangerously sweeping past his eyes and almost cutting into them. He could see Hoseok’s dapple-gray tail up ahead of him, vanishing just around the trunk of a tree, and he raced to follow. Despite the difficulty of navigating the terrain, the slightly cool dampness of the ground beneath his feet was comforting, and the sweet smell that hovered beneath the branches of the trees, trapped in like a biosphere of nature’s gentle perfumes, was intoxicating.

 

Another flash of white and Seokjin was at Jungkook’s side, long strides letting him keep pace and a surprising confidence to his steps. He had been ahead of Jungkook but circled back around to run at his side, and Jungkook wanted to shiver from the aura that screamed Alpha at him. Jimin was at his other side, and seemed to deliberately bump up against him. Jungkook gave a bit of a snort warningly at the golden brown wolf, wanting him to back off a bit.

 

Somewhere ahead of them, Namjoon’s distinctive howl rose in signal of a scent discovered, making the fur on the back of Jungkook’s neck rise in excitement. He felt Seokjin’s eyes on him and turned. He could have sworn he could read amusement in the Alpha’s eyes before he pulled away to run ahead. Not to be outdone, Jungkook sped up, passing up the elder soon enough and catching up to Namjoon within a couple of heart-racing minutes. They were already closing in on a lone stag, the white of the fur underneath its tail and on its belly like a white flag of surrender, even as it leapt and bound over a small, dried up brook. Namjoon’s ear flickered a little, and Jungkook took the signal, moving over to the leader’s right flank and hurrying around to try and cut the stag off. In the corner of his eye he saw Yoongi’s form flickering through the underbrush, bent low and looking like a dark gray arrow shooting ahead, sure of its aim. Jungkook’s heart raced, his legs screaming from the exercise but his chest feeling light and eager.

 

They ran for several more minutes, weaving in closer together, then farther apart, avoiding briars and naked branches until they were out into a sizeable clearing. The stag was able to increase his pace but so were the wolves hot on his heels, and Jungkook forced his muscles to push off with more speed at the same time Yoongi did across from him, until they were able to circle around and cut off the stag’s escape. Long, spindly legs flailed, and the stag’s pupils were blown and panicked as it sought any escape. But as it was watching Yoongi, waiting for a moment to bolt, Namjoon and Kiara moved in. The former leapt straight for the stag’s throat and bit down ferociously, even as the Omega took hold of the stag’s back leg, using her own weight to pull the stag to the ground and helping Namjoon wrestle him down long enough to end him. The stag fought back as bravely as he could, headbutting at Namjoon and trying to throw him off. The stag lifted his front hooves in a valiant attempt to wriggle his flank out from Kiara’s relentless, bloody grip. Yoongi and Jungkook raced forward to press in at the stag’s front legs, and Jungkook felt the acrid bite of blood in his mouth as he took a mouthful of the stag’s right foreleg, shaking his head back and forth violently and helping force the stag to lie on its side.

 

It was strange, to see the stag finally yield, as though the energy was suddenly sapped from him like a dying battery as he bent his legs, almost calm as he laid down across the grass, exposed and doomed. Namjoon snapped at them after they had torn into the stag sufficiently to satisfy him, and Yoongi warning nudged Jungkook’s bloody muzzle out from the stag’s belly, and they stepped aside and let Hoseok pass them, the Alphas with first priority at the meal. Jungkook sat and watched, waiting his turn and licking at his paws in impatience. At the stag’s head, Jimin pressed in with ears pressed low, as though trying to pass by unnoticed as he reached for the tender meat of the deer’s neck. As he wasn’t noticed by Namjoon or the other Alphas, he was allowed to continue for the time being. Emboldened by that, Jungkook pressed in again, only to get snapped at by Hoseok, his teeth bared as his pink lip curled in aggressive warning. Jungkook’s ears angled down in apology, and he dipped his head as he stepped back.

 

A few minutes later and it was the Omegas turn, and since there were only two of them, the unpresented pups were allowed to join them. Jungkook buried himself in gleefully, the raw meat more pungent and appealing for the effort he had put in to earn it. He was happy have not only kept up, but helped in the chase.

 

But a snarl at his side suddenly interrupted the feeding time, as Jimin had tried to steal away the head that Namjoon had been gnawing on, provoking the leader to snap at the pup. Jimin yipped but tried again, until Namjoon bit at him in warning. The other wolves paused, the atmosphere suddenly tense again as they tried to continue to feed while avoiding getting caught up in the inevitable brawl. To Jungkook’s surprise, Jimin snapped his jaws back at Namjoon, even while he was bent low with his head raised to the Alpha, a defensive posture to protect his neck, to no avail as Namjoon grabbed Jimin and tossed him aside, fur bristled and eyes snapping into a fiery red. Kiara moved in with a smooth, quick step and placed her head beneath Namjoon’s chin, snarling at Jimin in her own wordless warning. Jungkook didn’t know why Jimin was being provocative, especially when there was plenty of meat for them to share without causing problems. Jimin let out a whimper, but stood up again and braced his paws against the grass, leaping forward with a growl and biting toward Namjoon’s front paw. A scuffle ensued, then, faster than Jungkook’s eyes could catch it, but he knew that every hair on his body stood on end at the dark, deep sound that Namjoon emitted, biting again at the pup and with none of the previous caution. Jimin let out a high-pitched cry, whimpering several loud painful yelps as he limped a bit away, one paw bent at his side. Namjoon stood firmly, as though just daring Jimin to continue the unnecessary assault.

 

Then, the breeze changed, and a new scent rose in the air. Jungkook lifted his nose, distracted from watching the fight, and wondered why it smelled so sweet. It made him shiver, something in his belly glowing warm and heavy. Yoongi whimpered at his side, once, then twice, with a deliberation. There seemed to be a piercing, shrill-sound in the air, like an unspoken scream, and Jungkook felt like Yoongi was trying to warn him of something. Namjoon’s ears twitched in realization, and it was several long moments until Jungkook figured it out, too.

 

That was the scent of a new Alpha, mingled with the powerful sweetness of a familiar smell.

 

The smell of peppermint.

 

Jimin was presenting .

 

Yoongi growled deeply in his throat, looking toward Hoseok, who bobbed his head up and down in understanding. The gray Omega wolf pushed roughly at Jungkook’s side, telling him to follow as he ran out of the clearing. Seokjin and Hoseok waited, but Taehyung, Jungkook and Kiara were corralled away, soon flanked by the two Alphas. As they started off into the trees, Jungkook couldn’t help but look over his shoulder, seeing Namjoon and Jimin alone in the clearing. Jimin still had crimson dripping from his jaw from their kill, both wolves with their ears pressed low and teeth bared in challenge. Just as they were falling out of sight, Jungkook saw Namjoon leap forward, maw open wide and menacing.

 

He was jolted back into gear when Yoongi bumped up against him roughly, shaking him into focus enough so that they could run back toward the camp. The distant smell of Namjoon’s scent marker drifted to him when the wind changed, and almost as one all the wolves shifted their direction slightly to the right. It was almost an hour before Jungkook started to feel the ground was familiar, and then the beach suddenly opened up before them.

 

They sat for a minute, panting, drool and drying blood alike hanging from their chins, before Hoseok led the way back toward the cabins. Jungkook followed, his steps a little shaky as he realized he couldn’t get the image of Namjoon and Jimin out of his mind.

 

Seeing both Seokjin and Hoseok back in their human forms, the former wiping absently at the blood on his pale skin as the two Alphas leaned close in heated discussion, Jungkook was about to start transforming back, when he noticed Taehyung for the first time since the fight had broken out. The wolf had his tail between his legs as though he had been the one berated, both ears tilted low and head hung near the sand. Jungkook twitched an ear at him in curiosity, moving forward to use his muzzle to attempt to lift Taehyung’s face upward. He seemed to ignore Jungkook’s presence entirely.

 

“I can’t believe he went into a fucking rut in the middle of a hunt, though,” Yoongi was saying, now having joined the others. “That was so dangerous! Didn’t he give off any signs?!”

 

“Um, he did say he wasn’t feeling well on the drive over,” Kiara offered, her mouth quirking to the side in concern.

 

“I wondered if he had a bit of a fever, when we stopped at the rest stop, but he said he would be fine if he just rested a bit,” Hoseok sighed. “And then during the hunt I hung back with him because he seemed to be struggling to keep up. I should have smelled it on him, though. I could have stayed back with him at the cabins.”

 

No, ” Yoongi snapped. Jungkook felt the air crackle as Yoongi’s possessive Omega scent rose, somehow blacker and more dangerous than the regular smell of earth around them. “You’re not his Alpha. EIther way, Namjoon would have had to take him off. Let’s just hope he’s not too wired up to listen to some sense.”

 

Meanwhile, Jungkook heard Taehyung give a little whimper, and he turned to him, trying to nuzzle against him in reassurance. It’ll be okay, Taehyung-hyung. Namjoon will take care of it! He’s our lead Alpha, after all. Truth be told, Jungkook didn’t understand everything that was going on, but he knew Namjoon wouldn’t really hurt Jimin. He just needed to establish his role as a lead Alpha in the pack. With Jimin’s new raging Alpha hormones, he just wasn’t thinking straight.

 

“What’s wrong with the boys?” Kiara breathed, stepping over and brushing a hand across Taehyung’s head, her pale hand gentle, even as Jungkook saw that there was still blood encrusted under her fingernails. “Taehyungie? What’s wrong?”

 

Taehyung still didn’t move, whimpering a little and holding his head low.

 

“Do you feel sick? Why won’t you transform back? Are you stuck?”

 

In response, Taehyung just lowered himself onto his belly on the sand. Jungkook whimpered, burying his nose in as many places of Taehyung’s fur as he could, feeling slightly panicked with worry as he messily tried to nudge the older wolf into standing up again.

 

“I don’t understand,” Hoseok said. Then, to Kiara in a quieter voice, he suggested, “Maybe he’s upset about Jimin?”

 

“Mm…” Kiara ran a hand under Taehyung’s chin, gently rubbing at the fur there with a motherly hand. “It’ll be all right, Taehyung, I promise. Jimin is just presenting, that’s all. That’s a very wonderful thing! It means he can finally have his own place in the pack, like an adult wolf. He was just a few days before his 20th birthday, too, so he chose a good day! We’ll just wait here for them to come back, all right?” She paused a moment, turning to Jungkook and asking, “Jungkook? Are you okay?”

 

Jungkook had laid down at Taehyung’s side, but at Kiara’s words he lifted his ears, tail lifting and wagging back and forth in reassurance. He was fine. But somehow he didn’t want to leave Taehyung alone. If Taehyung didn’t feel okay enough to transform back, then he wouldn’t, either.

 

“All right, you boys take your time and take it easy, okay? And let us know if you need us.” Then, in a deliberate, calm voice, emphasizing every syllable, she added, “We’re a pack, after all.” Kiara stood up, then, running a hand through her short, wavy red hair, letting out a sigh as she went to the Main Hall with the other boys.

 

Taehyung didn’t move, so Jungkook laid down at his side, their paws brushed up against each other as they rested their heads against the sand, facing the path that led into the woods. Over an hour passed, and Jungkook found himself dozing off, waking himself up with little snorts as he got jolted from a dream by the occasional sigh from Taehyung. At one point, he got up to stretch his legs, circling Taehyung as he walked slowly, arching his back to get the crick out of it. Still, Taehyung didn’t move. The sky started to darken, and the wind felt cooler as a grayness covered the sky. It looked like rain, but Taehyung just closed his eyes and sighed again, his nose sniffing for the millionth time as the breeze shifted. Jungkook spotted a black tree frog out of the corner of his eye and bounded over to play with it, not trying too hard to catch it because he liked seeing the way the sand flew up around it as it tried to leap away.

 

Kiara brought them food when it really got dark, but Taehyung didn’t touch any of it. Jungkook swore to himself that he would be strong and leave Taehyung’s portion alone, but a nibble became a bite, which became another bite, and soon he’d ended up eating both. Kiara insisted they sleep in their cabins, promising to come tell him if anyone came. Taehyung relented, but walked so weakly and reluctantly it was as if he had become an invalid, with Jungkook leaning into his shoulder for both physical and moral support. He crawled straight onto Jimin’s bunk and Jungkook crawled up after him without hesitation, curling around him and tucking his nose over the wolf’s pale golden fur, the smell of citrus stinging at his sensitive nostrils.


Somewhere deep into the night, there was a yip, and a long wolf’s howl. Taehyung whimpered, and Jungkook curled in closer, as if embracing him. It was Jungkook’s turn to let out a sigh of his own as they settled in for a restless night’s sleep. And although Jungkook didn’t know it, there were now only 87 days left.

Chapter Text

“I wanted to see you again, touch you, know who you were, see if I would find you identical with the ideal image of you which had remained with me and perhaps shatter my dream with the aid of reality.”

- Victor Hugo

 


 

87 DAYS


~~~~~

Lightning streaked across the sky almost constantly, flashing the earth with cold illumination as a loud crash resounded until it felt like the world was breaking apart. The two wolves entangled in each other were a mass of wet fur, blood and teeth. Paws thrashed, maws snapped, and echoing across the valley was the constant mingling of pain-stricken cries and infuriated snarls. Jungkook stood at the bottom of the valley, just a few feet from them, and he could hear the squelch of the puddle-covered ground beneath his feet, could smell the musky dampness of their fur. The pain in his chest doubled, his eyes widening as he tried in vain to distinguish the dark brown body from the golden brown one in the midst of the brawl, but he was powerless to stop them.

 

“Hyung, leave him alone! He’s just in his rut!” Jungkook cried out, but his words were swallowed by another crash of thunder. “Leave Jimin alone! He needs you!”

 

Namjoon wasn’t listening. Jungkook felt tears stinging at his eyes, biting at his lip until it bled. This wasn’t how presenting was supposed to be, was it? This wasn’t familial and safe, this was scary and uncertain. This wasn’t like the usual Namjoon or Jimin at all. He saw Namjoon’s teeth sinking into Jimin’s neck, causing the younger the whimper so loud it stung Jungkook’s ears.

 

“Stop it!” Jungkook cried, stepping forward, tempted to physically try and break it up, even though every instinct told him that that would do no good. “He’s presenting, he needs you to take care of him!”

 

“He is taking care of him,” said a voice at Jungkook’s side. He jumped, looking over and seeing Seokjin, looking calm and judgmental with his arms crossed. “This is how a lead Alpha takes care of a newly presented Alpha.”

 

“By hurting him?!” Jungkook snapped, his angry accusation choked with another sob.

 

Seokjin watched him for a long moment, as though trying to gauge Jungkook’s expression before adding on the next part. “He’ll only hurt him for awhile. Then it will feel good.”

 

“W-what? How will that feel good?” Jungkook pointed at the tumbling wolves. Now the cries had evened out into little whimpers from Jimin.

 

Seokjin moved forward, his hands on Jungkook’s shoulders the same way it had been that first day (that only day) he had Scented Jungkook. The weightiness on Jungkook’s shoulders felt familiar and warm, but the look on Seokjin’s face scared him. Seokjin turned Jungkook back to the others, and Jungkook’s eyes widened as he realized that their positions had changed. Instead of being curled around each other messily, Namjoon now had Jimin’s small, round body pinned beneath him, Jimin’s soft stomach pressed to the wet pit of mud and grass, his paws at either side of his face and his bottom in the air as he continued to whimper. Namjoon was crouched over Jimin in a way Jungkook could only see as lewd, moving back and forth violently as if they were mating. And the funny thing was, Jimin wasn’t trying to escape. He was quietly pushing back into Namjoon, nose buried between his paws as his eyes flickered shut, as though he had wanted it this way, as though it was bringing him relief. Jungkook gasped, and Seokjin’s hands felt heavier on his shoulders.

 

“Jungkook,” he said, lowly and in a voice he only heard when the elder was trying to be patient, when the warm, teasing, friendly hyung he had come to know in the last couple of months had vanished in favor of one that actually felt much, much older. “Jungkook, look at me.”

 

And of course he did, he looked at Seokjin. But suddenly Namjoon and Jimin were gone, and the world seemed to spin, and it was no longer Jimin pressed to the earth but himself, and the dark paws at either side were now white and larger. His cheek was pressed to well-trampled grass, and rain stung at his eyes, rain-smell swam around him, making it hard for him to see, hard to smell, hard to think. He gasped into the pools he was halfway sunk into, his heart pounding in his chest.

 

“Jungkook,” Seokjin said again, his voice exactly the same as before, even though Jungkook was crying out in shock, trying to decide whether to scramble away and look for Jimin or to stay and answer his hyung obediently. His hands dug into the grass but he couldn’t feel the wetness there anymore. There were other forms of wetness pooling above and below him, and he felt Seokjin’s stomach pressing against his raised hips….

 

“Jungkook!”

 

With a little cry Jungkook jolted out of his dream into a different kind of darkness. The cabin was dark and humid, the windows foggy and dripping condensation. There was the thick, distant roar of rain on the roof, as it had been storming all day and deep into the night, with no sign of stopping and no sign of their missing pack members. Jungkook touched a hand to his face, finding it clammy and covered in sweat, just like his sleeping bag. He was gasping for air like he had just been running, his chest rising and falling as he turned his head. In the dim, bluish-gray light in the room, he could see Taehyung curled up on the bottom bunk below and across, a strange looking form of fur curled up into a tight circle. He glanced up and saw Seokjin asleep in the top bunk above Taehyung, and his chest constricted like someone was sitting on it. Tentatively, Jungkook flicked on his night-light, facing it toward the wall so it wasn’t too bright, and blinked over at the Alpha’s still form. Even in his sleep Seokjin looked somehow more regal than he should be allowed, his lips pressed gently together and his arms crossed over his chest, head laid to the side and his cheek squished slightly up against the fabric of the pillow. The Kims always looked so peaceful when they slept.

 

Jungkook moved to roll over, but then found himself tensing up suddenly. To his surprise, his boxers now felt uncomfortably tight, the muscles of his groin taut like a rubber band pushed to his limits. Fuck.

 

It wasn’t as if it was the first time this sort of thing had happened, but he didn’t like the idea of it happening while Taehyung and Seokjin were sleeping just a few feet away. But there was no way he’d be going back to sleep like this. With a sigh, he rolled back over onto his back, biting his lip as he tucked his fingers inside the waistband of his boxers. He could just take care of it really quick once, then go back to sleep and it’d be like it never happened. It was late, anyways, so they were definitely asleep. Jungkook wrapped his hands around his stiff and complaining member, brushing his thumb over the tip to find it already moist and warm. Bending his knees up a bit, he shifted his hips on the bunk as quietly as he could, to avoid any telltale creaks. He noticed then that his body felt heavy, as though every sense was on hyperdrive. It was a lot harder tonight than it usually was from morning wood, and he wondered vaguely what had set it off. His palm curved around the base, twisting smoothly and applying a bit more pressure. A giveaway squelch of skin moving against lubricated skin, and he bit at his lip hard to hold back from making a sound. But despite himself, a deep little sigh escaped him.

 

That was when Seokjin spoke.

 

Or rather, mumbled. Jungkook’s whole body froze, his hand still wrapped around his dick inside his boxers, and he turned in horror over towards the Alpha’s bed. However, Seokjin lay as he did before, still and relaxed, deep in sleep. Confused, Jungkook stared at him, until Seokjin’s lips parted and incoherent babble tumbled from his lips. Jungkook sighed in relief. Seokjin was a sleep-talker. He smiled at the elder fondly, until his brain decided to remind him of what dream had tormented his sleep in the first place. His eyes widened to almost double their normal size, and he felt goosebumps rise on his arms.

 

The dark valley, the cries through the storm. Namjoon and Jimin, snarling and bloody. Seokjin and him.

 

Seokjin and him.

 

Images flashed through Jungkook’s mind from his dream, images of Seokjin pressing him roughly into the wet earth, and he shivered. The involuntary movement caused his hand to shift on his member, making his back curl a little in reaction. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to continue pumping at his erection, it was just something that happened. And to his shame, Jungkook’s face remained glued to Seokjin’s face as he did it, watching the princely pallor of his cheeks, the sweet pinkness of his lips. His face started to burn with embarrassment, praying to god that Seokjin didn’t wake up, that Taehyung couldn’t hear, that neither of them would smell him in the morning. The fear of being discovered only added to the difficulty of keeping his moans swallowed down, and Jungkook ended up slipping his forearm between his teeth, biting lightly down and muffling his cries.

 

He felt close, tantalizingly close, but he couldn’t quite finish. In desperation, in weakness of the moment, he let himself think back to the feeling of Seokjin’s hands on his shoulders, of the way he had looked at Jungkook in his dream, intently and focused, self-assured. Across from him, Seokjin let out another little murmur, unknowingly tipping the younger man over. Jungkook released a whimper, trembling as he came into his palm, his head tilting back to leave his jaw and neck exposed, his eyes squeezed shut as he panted through the oncoming wave. When he finished, his whole body sunk into the mattress with a deep sigh, and he lay there for a moment, unmoving, eyes shut, before deciding to clean himself up with one of the small towels in his dirty laundry bag, crawling back into his blankets and feeling much less tense than he had felt before.

 

It wasn’t until he was almost asleep that he really realized what he had done, and told himself to never think about it again.

 

~~~~~

 

Jungkook slept in late the next morning, crawling down to find that both Seokjin and Taehyung had already left. The rain was still coming down in torrents, so he pulled his black hoodie tight over his head, yanking the drawstrings until the hood opening was bunched up around his face, before shoving his hands into his pockets and trudging over to the Main Hall. The first thing that greeted him was the scent of wood fire, the crackle of flames, and a quiet atmosphere. When he closed the door, he saw that Seokjin was seated on the far couch, a plate of food balanced on his lap and a book held slotted between his fingers on one hand as his other petted across Taehyung’s back, wide, soothing gestures that had the wolf blinking sleepily. Hoseok and Yoongi were sitting on the closer couch, somewhere between bickering and cuddling.

 

“It’s not that big of a deal, it’s just a worm. It’s not like it’s going to scream at you,” Yoongi was saying, a tackle box opened between his feet and a thick, dark fishing pole tilted towards him as he threaded line onto it. “Live bait makes a really big difference.”

 

“But don’t they bleed everywhere and continuing wriggling on it?” Hoseok shuddered, his legs folded and tucked up to the side as he had his arm wrapped around Yoongi’s shoulders. “And they’re so slimy .”

 

“Slimy worms are the best at catching that kind of fish,” Yoongi stated, as if the argument was over.

 

“Who’s the real slimy worm here? Shall we find out?” Hoseok pouted suggestively, leaning in to nuzzle at the space behind Yoongi’s ear, placing his teeth around the skin there but not really biting down. Seokjin, who had obviously been listening, started to giggle into the pages of his book. Yoongi frowned, moving the fishing pole over to lightly thwack at his boyfriend’s forehead.

 

“Get away from me, you’re grossing me out with that disgusting pick-up line.”

 

Jungkook took a step over to the kitchen island, where a small arrangement of now-cold bacon and toast had been left. He was starving, but he noted well that there seemed to be just enough food for three people, obviously two set aside for the two wolves not back yet. He decided to just make extra toast.

 

“Hoseokkie-hyung, where are the plates?” Jungkook queried, opening cupboards in his search for the pile of paper plates they had brought with them.

 

“Oh, they’re on top of the fridge,” he answered, craning his neck to look Jungkook’s way, even as his hand was tickling at the back of Yoongi’s neck, making the Omega swear under his breath at him. “And if you need me to make more bacon, I can.”

 

“No, it’s all right.” He pressed the button on the toaster and turned to the fridge.

 

“Speaking of food, it’s been about thirty minutes,” Seokjin said, “Kiara asked if someone would bring her a hot cup of coffee.”

 

“Yeah,” Hoseok nodded, “Whose turn is it?”

 

“It’s yours,” Yoongi poked a finger into Hoseok’s side so that he would remove his hand from Yoongi’s thigh, allowing him more room to detangle the spare line he was working on.

 

Hoseok whimpered, leaning against Yoongi’s shoulder. “But I don’t wanna leaaave you!”

 

“Then get going so you can get back sooner,” was Yoongi’s diplomatic answer, shoving his shoulder at the Alpha.

 

“How rude! Your mate just wants your affection and you have to be this much of a brat!” Hoseok’s lips pinched downward, the bottom lip protruding a little in the middle as his upper lip seemed to vanish, a portrait of discontent. But nonetheless he pushed off the couch. “Fine, but don’t come begging to me later. Oh, wait , you will .”

 

“Asshole,” Yoongi said, with no malice in his tone at all as Hoseok slipped around Jungkook, his hand brushing across the younger man’s shoulder with a natural physical intimacy as he retrieved a mug. Jungkook was leaning against the sink, his hands tucked into his pockets and his shoulders slumped. His eyes flickered back over to the couch where Taehyung and Seokjin were curled around each other, and the younger wolf let out a sigh. Glancing down, Seokjin reached down to pick up a small chunk of toast and held it out to his brother, who ate it reluctantly then dropped his head to Seokjin’s thigh again. Jungkook felt his jaw clench as he remembered the events of that morning, deciding he probably needed a bit more time away from the two brothers before he could go join them like normal.

 

“Hyung, I could take the coffee to Kiara,” he offered to Hoseok, “Where is she?”

 

“Oh? Would you? Thank you, Kookie.” Hoseok smiled, patting Jungkook’s cheek in affection and handing him the steaming plastic cup. “She’s down by the scent marker on the beach. Just in case. We’ve tried to talk her into coming back inside, but she said she’d wait until at least this afternoon.”

 

“No problem,” he said, shoving half of the still hot toast into his mouth and snapping a matching plastic lid onto the cup before preparing to venture out into the rain again.

 

“Finish your breakfast first, though,” Hoseok said, a trace of command laced into his light-hearted tone. Jungkook nodded, pouring himself a small glass of milk to help hurry things along so that the coffee would still be hot.

 

Meanwhile, Hoseok went back to the couch, moving to curl back up against Yoongi. But the Omega had just finished threading his lines, and moved to stand up. Hoseok growled a little, clutching at the back of Yoongi’s eggshell-white aran sweater. “Nooo!” he whined, tugging on the fabric, “Don’t leave me, I just got back!”

 

“It’s best to fish while it’s raining, and the cove will be really nice right now,” Yoongi tried to reason. But Hoseok just tugged harder. “Oh, come on , it’s not like I’m going far, Hoseok.”

 

“Stay. Here.” Hoseok insisted, his eyes flashing, even as his voice returned to playful. “I’ll miss you!”

 

Yoongi sighed, “Fine, just let me put the gear away in the lean-to, then.”

 

“No, do it later!”

 

“I won’t be gone for long, sheesh, just hold your horses.” Yoongi tugged his sweater out of Hoseok’s grasp, then took his stuff out to the lean-to attached to the side of the porch. Jungkook could see him messing around in the entrance from his spot at the window, where he was eating his bacon as quickly as possible. When Yoongi came back inside, Jungkook was chugging the last of a glass of milk and Hoseok was curled up on the opposite end of the couch, pouting. When the Omega sat back down, shifting over to lean into Hoseok, the Alpha pushed him away.

 

“No, I don’t talk to rude people, and I certainly don’t cuddle with rude Omegas.”

 

“Seriously?” Yoongi sighed in exasperation, having had enough of Hoseok’s finicky behavior. He crawled over into Hoseok’s lap, forcing a cute little sound of surprise from the Alpha before taking his face in his hands and pressing a kiss to his lips. Easily, naturally, Hoseok’s hands slipped around Yoongi in turn, returning the kiss. Jungkook smiled a little to himself at the silliness of his hyungs, accidentally glancing over and making eye contact with Seokjin, who was smirking conspiratorially at the youngest, and rolled his eyes. There was nothing inherently out of place with the gesture, but the eye contact with Seokjin reminded him of the last time he had looked directly at Seokjin’s face and goosebumps rose up along his arms. He threw the last of his toast in his mouth and rushed for the door, heading back out into the rain. The air felt a lot cooler and cleaner than inside the Main Hall, and he sighed in relief.

 

The beach looked a lot grayer and desolate than it had the day before, but the salty air still stung pleasantly at his nostrils. Kiara was sitting on a small fold-up chair next to the ugly scent-flag, a green umbrella that was decorated like a kiwi held over her head and her knees drawn up to her chest, making her look very small. She had on one of Namjoon’s big, dark green sweaters, the sleeves bulky and loose, and practically covering her hands as it was almost big enough on her to be a sort of dress. Her reddish hair was damp and frizzy from the rain, tiny individual hairs filled with static and reaching up towards the material of the umbrella. Her eyes were sad and locked on the edge of the woods where the path ended.

 

“Noo-oona,” Jungkook sang out, his hand held over the cup to shield it from the rain and making the steam burn a little against the skin of his palm. She looked up, sending him a soft smile.

 

“Kookie,” she called out, reaching out a hand to draw him near her, tugging him down into a crouch beside her chair and attempting to cover them both with the umbrella. His shoulders were too broad, though, and his right shoulder became dotted with little rain droplets that clung there desperately. “How did you sleep?”

 

“Fine,” he lied. “I brought you some coffee. Hoseok made it.”

 

“Thank you,” she took the coffee and blew on it a little, her lips pursing over the rim of the cup. Jungkook watched her for a moment, then turned to stare at the path. He didn’t want to go back to the Main Hall just yet, and he felt the warmth and softness of Kiara’s Omega aura reaching out to him, offering comfort even as she needed it herself. It wasn’t really a scent, in the strictest sense, it was just a feeling he picked up on from her; it was one of the reasons he had always liked Kiara, from the day Namjoon had first brought her to the pack house.

 

“How long do you think they’ll be?”

 

“Who knows? It depends on Jimin’s rut,” she said quietly. Taking a cautious sip of her coffee, she added, “I’d like to take you boys out on another little run, but it’s a bit too risky, since we haven’t heard anything. But we’ll come longer next time, okay?”

 

Jungkook nodded, and she looked over at him with a smile, wrapping her hand around his neck and rubbing at the tense muscles there.

 

“You did great for your first hunt.” Her smile was radiant, even though her lips looked pale without their signature bright-red lipstick. She seemed smaller but bigger at the same time, and Jungkook felt as if he was seeing a bit of the strain that being a lead Omega could lead to. “As expected of our Golden Maknae.”

 

Jungkook did his best to smile for her, at the nickname Namjoon had given him. “Well, it’s technically not my first, I went to the public parks...”

“Yeah, but the public parks are so pathetic and sad, it doesn’t really feel the same, does it? So everyone sees this as your first official hunt.”

 

He tucked his head into Kiara’s side, lifting one curled hand to cling to the pocket of her jeans like he was her pup. A silence enshrouded them, natural but painful for the waiting period they had been forced into. “He’ll be okay. Namjoon’s the strongest Alpha I know.”

 

“Yes,” she agreed, sighing as she tucked her fingers under his hoodie, tugging it loose enough that she could run a hand through his hair. Rain was collecting on the right half of him but he didn’t move, knowing the gesture was just as much to comfort herself as him. “He’s been preparing for this for a long time, it’s just… a lot of waiting.”

 

He nuzzled into her, and she rubbed her hands through his hair for a few more minutes, before patting his shoulder and tugging the hoodie back over his eyes. “Go back into the warmth, and check on Taehyung for me.”

 

Jungkook hummed in acknowledgement, standing up and heading back to the Main Hall. Seokjin was nudging at Taehyung’s mouth with another piece of toast, the latter stubbornly refusing it. Hoseok and Yoongi had vanished, probably off to their currently-empty cabin. Jungkook wanted to curl up against Taehyung, but he didn’t trust himself to get physically close to Seokjin again yet, so he flopped onto the couch the other two had abandoned, still feeling the warmth lingering to the cushions. To keep himself busy, he pulled out his phone and started to browse the internet. An hour passed, and then two, and he almost forgot about the tension of earlier. Jungkook had settled deep into the recesses of the couch, his hand on his lower stomach as he scrolled through his phone, when suddenly Seokjin let out a long, deep moaning sound that surprised Jungkook so much he dropped his cell phone to his face with a thunk. Looking over, Seokjin had bent his back forward, arms outstretched over his head as he groaned, eyes shut and face scrunched up. Jungkook frowned, wanting to throw his cell phone at the Alpha in frustration. Just at that sound, he already felt his gut tensing.

 

“Jungkookie, I’m hungry again, let’s make some food.”

 

“You just ate like an hour ago,” Jungkook said quietly, hunching his shoulders and curling up closer with his phone.

 

“But I’m bored. I’ve already read this book before,” Seokjin sighed, his tone petulant like a spoiled child. “Jungkook, play with me.”

 

Jungkook didn’t answer, and Seokjin stood up, setting the now-empty plate onto the coffee table. Taehyung snorted out of his sleep as he was shifted from Seokjin’s thigh before looking over. Jungkook felt every muscle in his body pull tight in warning as Seokjin caged Jungkook in on the couch, with one arm leaning heavily against the back cushion and the other pressed deeply into the cushion at Jungkook’s side, warm against him. Jungkook swallowed heavily, wriggling his body around until he was facing the back of the couch, away from Seokjin’s smirk. Couldn’t he tell that everyone was tense and worried from their missing members? Couldn’t he just leave Jungkook alone? Could he stop smelling so damn nice?

 

“Come on , JK, let’s do something fun, ” Seokjin cooed. Jungkook side-glanced towards the older man and instantly regretted it when he saw the devilish grin, praying to god Seokjin wouldn’t notice the slight flush he felt rising to his cheeks.

 

“I said no,” Jungkook grouched, burying his cheek into the corner, smelling dust and the slightly suffocating muskiness of old furniture. The door to the cabin opened, letting in the thunderous sound of rain momentarily before being shut off again with a heavy click.

 

“What are you guys doing?” Kiara’s voice came, and Jungkook breathed a sigh of relief.

 

“I was trying to get JK to play with me.” He could practically hear the pout in Seokjin’s voice.

 

“Well, I’m game if you guys are, we could use some cheering up. Come on, Taehyung. Let’s play something together.”

 

Jungkook was holding in his breath so as not to smell Seokjin, whose attention was on the other two. He wriggled his way out from under the Alpha’s arm, crawling up and over the edge of the couch to try and escape. But Seokjin noticed, snatching hold of Jungkook’s jeans and tugging him easily back down to bounce against the couch cushions, his arms and legs flailing. “Hey! Where are you going? You’re acting all weird.”

 

“I am not, now let go,” Jungkook said, pushing at Seokjin’s hands. A mistake, as the slight coolness of the man’s fingers against his own suddenly made his hair stand on end. Seokjin crinkled his eyebrows in confusion, frowning. The disgruntled look only lasted a moment, though, before Seokjin threw his arms around Jungkook, pinning the dark-haired boy’s face in the crook of his elbow before rubbing his fist against the top of Jungkook’s head, making him cry out as Seokjin laughed.

 

“I’m trying to make sure you weren’t possessed by a body snatcher, wearing your skin,” Seokjin teased, grunting as Jungkook’s wiggling caused an elbow to thrust into his stomach. “Relax, they’re gonna be back soon.”

 

Jungkook realized that Seokjin was assuming the tenseness between them was only because of Namjoon and Jimin’s absence. He wanted to breathe a sigh of relief at the realization that Seokjin didn’t suspect the real reason.

 

“Taehyung, do you want something to drink?” Kiara asked, going to the fridge. Taehyung twitched an ear in her direction but otherwise gave no answer. When the female Omega opened the fridge, she let out a little, “Oh!” And pulled out the two six-packs of beer Yoongi had bought at the rest stop. “I guess we’re gonna play King’s Cup!”

 

Looking a little dubiously at the cans, Jungkook said, “But I can’t drink?” Both of the elders paused for a moment, considering deeply.

 

“We could let him drink just this once, don’t you think? Since he’s just with us?” Seokjin asked Kiara, who pursed her lips in thought.

 

“I’m not sure. What if let him drink if he gets the king’s cup, but otherwise we’ll have him drink orange juice?” She pulled out the liter container and set it in front of the boy, and all agreed that seemed fair enough. Jungkook had to admit, a part of him started off wishing he might get the King’s Cup, so he could drink. It wasn’t often the older pack members were this lenient with a rule. He didn’t know the rules of the game but he figured he could keep up.

 

Kiara set a large goblet-like cup in the middle of the table, then shuffled a deck of cards, laying them out so that they were spread out in a circle around the cup, face down. She gestured to Seokjin, who shook his head and gestured to her instead, saying, “Ladies first.”

 

Kiara rolled her eyes, flipping over the first card, a 10 of spades. “Categories,” she explained. “Um… animals, I guess?” She turned to Seokjin. “You’re first.”

 

“Horses,” Jin said quickly.

 

“Uh, wolves?”

 

Kiara rolled her eyes but took her turn, “Monkeys.”

 

“Bears.”

 

“Iguanas?”

 

“Rhinoceros.”

 

The play went around the table for almost ten minutes, until Seokjin accidentally named an animal they had already listed before, and he had to take a drink. Kiara and Jungkook cheered as he took a good-sized swig of the beer, his brows crinkling together at the bitter taste.

 

“Okay, my turn to pick a card.” He leaned forward and drew a King of hearts. Kiara gave a loud “Oooh!” so Jungkook did similarly, as Seokjin made a face as though he was facing a great challenge, raising his fist in a fighting salute before dumping some of his beer into the main goblet, foam floating at the top as Jungkook reached for a card tentatively. He flipped it over, revealing a jack of hearts. Seokjin moaned, smacking Jungkook on the arm while Kiara laughed.

 

“Yah, JK, why is this game so mean to me so early, huh? That’s not fair!”

“Wait, what does a jack mean?”

 

“Jack for jacks,” Kiara giggled, “Meaning all the guys drink. Bottoms up, boys!” Jungkook and Seokjin tipped their glasses back, draining their cups. Seokjin moaned and complained, somehow blaming it all on Jungkook that he had to take the extra drink, and opened himself up another can.

 

“Okay, my turn again!” The Omega leaned forward and flipped over another card, turning over a 3 of diamonds. “Aww, ‘three for me,’ I have to take three drinks now.”

 

It was almost time for dinner when Yoongi and Hoseok finally came back to the main cabin, and when they arrived, they found Seokjin and Kiara rolling around on the couch laughing at something hilarious Jungkook apparently said, the youngest sheepishly sipping at the last of his orange juice while Taehyung looked on, looking more interested than he had since the hunt. Both his ears were perked up as Jungkook refilled his glass with milk this time.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Jungkook is cheating at King’s Cup!” Seokjin screeched, his face and neck red from the strain of laughter, one finger pointing accusatorily at the youngest. “We’ve played four...no, six times, and he hasn’t lost once!” Hoseok shook his head, stepping over to the fire and setting a new log on top of the coals that had been allowed to accumulate there.

 

“Well, he’s the Golden Maknae, and you’re one of the unluckiest people I know,” Yoongi said, sitting down onto the couch next to Taehyung and drawing the wolf’s head into his lap so he could pet him.

 

“It’s nice to see everyone a bit more upbeat now, though,” Hoseok commented, sitting back as the fire licked its way across the log it had just been fed, slowly feeling its way across the pine and giving the smell of sap in the air, crackling delightedly.

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi rubbed underneath Taehyung’s chin, but his smile disappeared when he gave the drinking party a closer look. “Wait, is that my beer?”

Chapter Text

 

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

― Marie Curie


 

85 DAYS

 

~~~~~

 

“Jungkook!” came a cry, shaking him violently. He blinked open his eyes, and Taehyung was leaning over him, his bangs falling into his eyes as he beamed broadly, all teeth. “Are you awake? You were making all sorts of weird noises in your sleep.”

 

“Wha-?” Jungkook blinked heavily, crustiness at the edges of his eyes making it difficult. He half-sat up, making his bed-hair stand on end as he did so. Taehyung bounced on the edge of the bed excitedly, waiting for Jungkook to withdraw himself from the deep caverns of his sleepy mind. He rubbed at one eye, giving a heavy yawn. “You… you transformed back?”

 

“Yes!” Taehyung leaned in, a playful, eager smile there that had been missing the last two days. In a dramatic stage-whisper he explained, “Jimin’s back!”

 

“Jimin’s back?” Jungkook instantly brightened, his body shot with a volt of energy.

 

“Yeah, he’s sleeping in the Main Hall, the others are there now. Seokjin said not to wake you, but…”

 

“I wanna see him!” Jungkook cried out, shifting forward and moving to throw aside his sleeping bag. Taehyung slipped down from the ladder,

 

A few minutes later and Jungkook was tugging his jeans and boots on and rushing over to the Main Hall as fast as he could. The rain had stopped, although everything was still wet and the ground squelched beneath his feet. Jungkook grimaced up at the morning sun, inhaling a sweet breath of the October morning air before opening the door, Taehyung pushing eagerly at his back before they tumbled inside.

 

They were greeted with the smell of soup and the gentle clanking of dishes as Kiara and Yoongi made breakfast. She was smiling softly at something he’d said, dropping the minced onions into the pot as Yoongi sliced cherry tomatoes. Namjoon was sprawled across one of the couches, already bandaged up and snoring, his head resting on Hoseok’s lap as the latter kept a hand on Namjoon’s chest. Hoseok looked up as the boys entered, offering a warm smile.

 

Taehyung moved to perch on the arm of the other couch, looking like an eager bird waiting for its breakfast. He had put his beanie on, his forehead exposed now that his bangs had been tucked away, and he was leaning into his sleeve-covered hands and watching over Seokjin’s broad back as he tended to Jimin on the couch. Jungkook stepped up timidly, leaning over Seokjin but not touching him as he inspected Jimin’s face. The boy looked paler than usual, with scratches on his soft cheeks and a bruise beneath his eye. His shirt had been removed and Seokjin was dabbing at some pretty large open wounds with a wet cotton swab. Jungkook winced at the scratches running up and down Jimin’s gently sloping stomach, almost all clearly claw marks. The deepest looking marks were the little purple dots from teeth that trailed across the skin of his neck, and Jungkook swallowed as he saw images from his dream return. Seokjin was turned away from him, but it felt suddenly very strange to be in the same vicinity as his real, weighted physical presence. He didn’t remember his dreams from the previous night, but he had a sneaking suspicion he’d had the same one again.

 

Yet despite it all Jimin looked as if he was sleeping peacefully, his dark pink lips slightly parted and looking very, very young. Jungkook felt compelled to throw himself over the boy and nuzzle into him desperately, unused to and not liking seeing one of his closest hyungs looking weakened and vulnerable.

 

“How…” Jungkook’s word formed as a sort of creak and he cleared his throat before trying again. “How is he?”

 

“He’s gonna be just fine,” Seokjin said, and even though Jungkook couldn’t see his face, he knew he was smiling. “All the scratches are shallow and clean, and he’s already gotten some food down.”

 

“Namjoon was careful with him,” Hoseok whispered fondly, running a hand through the leader’s hair, that smile like a soft mother still on his face. “They came in at around 4am.”

 

Jungkook moved around Seokjin, giving him a wide berth as he went to sit at Jimin’s head, leaning in with curiosity. He raised his hand to card it through Jimin’s bangs. At the warmth and movement, Jimin stirred, letting out a little moan as he opened his eyes. When he saw Jungkook there, his lips curved up into a weary but beautiful smile. He lifted one hand to reach for Jungkook, who leaned his cheek against Jimin’s palm.

 

“Hey,” Jimin whispered.

 

“Hey,” Jungkook breathed back, suddenly wanting to cry. “Are you okay?”

 

“Of course I am,” Jimin’s smile broadened, the clear whiteness of his teeth dazzling. “It was my own fault, I let things get out of hand… but Namjoon took care of me.”

 

Jungkook let his hand rest against Jimin’s, squeezing lightly as his blood ran cold. How did he take care of you, Jimin? He wanted to ask, but he was far too terrified. He knew that new Alphas had to be put into their place in the pecking order of the pack, to keep things from being unruly and chaotic, but he had never been told exactly what that entailed. Had his brain just made up an insane, perverted explanation, or was this a wolf instinct, warning him of what his own future could hold?

 

“He looked really cool, right?” Jimin rasped, glancing over at the leader, who was sleeping with his mouth agape and still snoring loudly. “Tell me I looked cooler, Jungkook.” They both gave a bit of a giggle, and Jungkook nodded.

 

“You both looked cool, to be honest. You’ll make a good Alpha.”

 

“I think so, too,” Seokjin said with a smile, reaching over to dab at a bit of blood that had dotted along the cut on Jimin’s collarbone. His chest brushed up against Jungkook, making the boy shudder involuntarily. Jimin arched an eyebrow at Jungkook in confusion, but if Seokjin noticed, he didn’t say anything. Jungkook warily watched Seokjin’s long fingers tend to Jimin’s wounds with an expert hand, trying not to remember certain images. “Jimin will be a great addition to the Alpha team. He’s very hardworking. But remember, it’s okay to ask for help if you’re not feeling well, all right? Next time don’t be shy about speaking up if you think something’s wrong.”

 

Jungkook squeezed at Jimin’s hand again, considering. “Jimin? Um.. Can I…?”

 

After a quiet moment, Jimin looked confused,before seeming to realize what Jungkook was asking. He nodded, his eyes sparkling. “Of course.” And Jungkook timidly lifted onto his knees, leaning in and pressing his nose up against the scent gland in Jimin’s neck. The skin there felt warmer than it had before, and the smell of peppermint was now somehow aged and matured, a stronger scent with that underlying suggestion of Alpha dominance. Jungkook felt everyone else’s eyes on him, and his face flushed, but he tried to forget about it and instead focus on the way he could feel Jimin’s pulse beating through the veins of his neck, and the familiarity of Jimin’s scent. Although he held still at first, Jimin also nudged his way against Jungkook’s neck, a movement he had done a thousand times before but which now felt different. There was a feeling of distance, of power, and also of increased intimacy, as though the Scenting itself bore more weight and purpose, like naive curiosity blooming into interest. Jungkook knew things were different, now. But he wanted to have a little trace of that sameness, some edge that hinted at the way things had been for years, before this eventful first hunt. Jimin sighed against his skin, and Jungkook slowly pulled away to see the boy’s eyes were shut as if he was utterly relaxed. When he opened his eyes they were smiling up at Jungkook, and he rested back against the pillows.

 

“You never really liked Scenting me before,” Jimin said. And if the Jimin of three days ago could sound sagely and wise and protective, it was nothing compared to the Jimin of today, who seemed to hold secret knowledge behind his smile as he continued to hold Jungkook’s hand possessively.

 

“Well, I just-..” Jungkook fumbled for words. They wanted to come out all mingled together like mixed paint. “I missed you.”

 

“You always smell so nice, Jungkook, like Busan.” Jimin sighed, letting his eyes shut. His brow crinkled a little, and Jungkook’s heart quickened in concern. “Mm. I think I need to sleep for a bit, though, Jungkookie. I’m really… I’m really tired. Okay?”

 

There was no explanation given for what the ‘okay’ was actually referring to, but Jungkook nodded, letting Jimin’s hand drop while keeping it lightly encased within his own. He sat there for several long minutes, just watching Jimin’s face becoming soothed and lax with sleep.

 

“You two are so close,” Seokjin said quietly, making Jungkook tense up as he remembered that Seokjin was sitting on the floor behind him. Flashes of memory from his dream shot up again, giving him goosebumps, spurred back to the forefront of his mind now that the two wolves had returned. The image of Seokjin leaning into him from behind, encasing him in those arms with just a little movement and a lot of strength, had Jungkook’s mind reeling.

 

“Y-yeah, we’re very close.” He stood up, letting Jimin’s hand drop as he stood up and moved away. It was getting harder to breathe, and he felt a bit dizzy, so maybe he needed to eat something. “Noona, is breakfast ready?”

“Yup, come and eat,” Kiara said cheerily, already dishing it out, the counter littered with eight mismatched bowls and cutlery. She set down two bowls on the coffee table and gestured for Hoseok to let her take his place, gently dropping Namjoon’s head to her lap and leaning in to kiss his cheek. She rubbed her hand through his hair, whispering sweet things to him and nudging him awake long enough to eat. Jungkook knew without asking that she was going to make sure he’d finished eating before she touched her own.

 

Jungkook slipped up to the counter, reaching for a bowl as Taehyung came up behind him and pressed harshly to his neck. Jolting in surprise, Jungkook froze with his hand still halfway to his soup.

 

“Tae?”

 

In response, Taehyung inhaled deeply at Jungkook’s neck, rubbing his own scent gland there and mingling it with the smell of Jimin until their three scents were almost indistinguishable. Without a word, he grabbed a bowl and stepped away and went back to his perch on the end of the couch, leaving Jungkook standing there looking confused. He looked at Yoongi for an explanation, but the male Omega was staring after Taehyung with a contemplative look on his face, stirring his tea. Jungkook sat at the kitchen island, poking at his soup for a moment with his spoon.

 

“Where’s Jungkookie?” came Namjoon’s voice quietly, and he looked up with a start.

 

“Jungkook?” Kiara called. “Aren’t you going to greet Namjoon?”

 

“Um…yes.” Obediently, Jungkook took his bowl and went to lean over the back of the couch. Namjoon had his head lifted, balanced on Kiara’s hand as she spoonfed him. He smiled when he saw Jungkook.

 

“Hey, sorry your first real hunt was so crazy,” he chuckled. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook swallowed heavily. The atmosphere felt strange. Namjoon was usually the first person Jungkook went to with his questions or problems, the one he naturally drew to the most, but his mind couldn’t let go of the things his dream had put into confusion. What had Namjoon done to bring Jimin back? Was he going to do the same to Jungkook when he presented? What about Taehyung? Then Jungkook saw that he had the right side of his neck bandaged up pretty heavily, and he realized that Jimin probably hadn’t held back as carefully as the lead Alpha had. He saw the gentle, concerned look Namjoon was giving him, even while he was worn out and in pain. He felt a little guilty for not coming over earlier. Namjoon had never given him any reason to doubt his judgement, or his care. “Yeah, of course I’m okay, hyung. You’re the one that’s all beaten up.”

 

“I’ll be fine, they’re just scratches, really. We’ll come out again around New Years and do another good week’s worth of hunts and make up for lost time, I promise. We’ll even go on a hunt, just you and me.”

 

Jungkook dropped his chin to the back of the couch, feeling very small. Namjoon grunted a bit with effort but lifted his hand to pat the boy on the head affectionately.

 

“Just make sure you get better soon,” Jungkook breathed.

 

It had been a happy, but weird morning.

 

~~~~~

 

“Jungkook?” Yoongi’s voice called out, “Are you awake?”

 

The boy was curled up on his bunk, the curtain pulled across to shut the outside world out for a few minutes. Not easy to do, with Taehyung bounding through and chattering about Jimin, and Hoseok coming in to ask if he was alright, if he was still hungry. He was supposed to have been packing his stuff together, but it remained tossed in a haphazard lump at the foot of the bed, untouched.

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook mumbled. The window overlapped past the head of the bunk, and he was turned to look outside. Out on the dew-covered grass Taehyung and Seokjin were playing, wrestling with each other and laughing. Taehyung had his arms wrapped around Seokjin’s waist, trying to tip him over as Seokjin tugged at Taehyung’s leg in an attempt to throw off his balance. He could hear Seokjin whining, shouting that Taehyung was cheating, and really, Jungkook thought, it was a valid accusation, since Taehyung cheated at almost every game he played. He wasn’t sure why he found the two of them playing so fascinating, but he had been watching them for the last several minutes through the fingertip-stained window. Taehyung’s beanie had fallen off, his hair ruffled and standing on end, and Seokjin’s neck was all red and swollen looking, as it always was when he got flustered. With a grunt and a cry, Seokjin decided to just lift Taehyung up completely, tipping him over and landing on top of him. Taehyung started screaming about how heavy Seokjin was, making the Alpha laugh, pinning Taehyung’s wrists down to the grass.

 

“You gonna tell me what’s up with you?” Yoongi said suddenly, drawing the curtain aside with one movement, accompanied by a rustling noise and making Jungkook jump.

 

“N-nothing,” Jungkook growled, a little irritated that Yoongi had just burst in when the curtain had been clearly pulled closed. What if he had had another situation like that night? He was the youngest, but he needed privacy, too…

 

Yoongi crawled up into the bunk, making Jungkook sit up suddenly. “What are you doing?”

 

“I’m coming up to give you an awkward talk that neither of us wants to have, but that you need,” Yoongi said point-blankly, pushing the boy back down and curling up against Jungkook’s back. “Namjoon is too exhausted right now, and Seokjin and Hoseok are taking care of the others.”

 

“Mmm…” Jungkook hummed noncommittally, turning to look back out the window at Taehyung and Seokjin. Taehyung had gotten the advantage and was now pushing Seokjin’s face into the dirt and rubbing it around, as Seokjin screeched and whined. At times like this, Jungkook wondered how he had ever thought Seokjin looked cold and distant, when he was really more ridiculous and playful. “Looks like Taehyung’s fine now, though.”

 

“Yeah, but bouncing back doesn’t mean the low point didn’t suck,” Yoongi said quietly. He moved forward and wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s waist, hooking his chin over the boy’s shoulder. It wasn’t a possessive gesture, the way Jimin held him, but it was gentler, somehow more sweetly protective, and not expecting a return gesture. Without the expectation laced within the embrace, Jungkook relaxed, letting himself enjoy the way his back warmed up against Yoongi’s broad chest, his fingers reaching down to play with Yoongi’s squarish fingertips. Yoongi and him had had their share of ugly fights, both of them a little too honest and a little too passive-aggressive all at the same time, but Jungkook liked to think that Yoongi had a certain something in common with him, an unspoken understanding that meant they just got each other. Like with the hug, Yoongi didn’t require anything from Jungkook, didn’t require him to be anything he wasn’t already.

 

“Jungkook, talk to me. What’s wrong?”

 

Jungkook bit his lip, still watching out the window. Taehyung and Seokjin had moved now, until they were almost at an angle where he couldn’t see them. Seokjin was currently stomping Taehyung’s beanie into the dirt and cursing him out playfully, making Taehyung chuckle even as he scrambled to try and save his beanie. “I...I was wondering about ruts and heats. What happened out there? H-how did Namjoon ‘help’ Jimin?”

 

Yoongi was quiet for a moment. Jungkook hated the silence, because it felt as if Yoongi was measuring out how much information he should share with the boy, and he hated the feeling of being behind, of being that much less experienced than the others, who didn’t seem to be wondering at all. Jungkook wondered if Yoongi picked up on what answers Jungkook was asking for, what help he had been imagining in his mind. He hoped Yoongi understood, so that he wouldn’t have to ask out loud. He was reminded of back when he had been a younger pup in the pack, and Yoongi had gone into a heat. After seeing Jungkook’s panic, Yoongi had insisted that he be the one to sit Jungkook down and explain everything, laid out in detail. Yoongi knew more about some of Jungkook’s questions and knowledge than even Namjoon.

 

“Well,” Yoongi began with a little sigh, “As lead Alpha, Namjoon has the responsibility of making the rules when it comes to mating within the pack,” Yoongi explained quietly, “It’s got good points and bad points. Like the fact that Namjoon had first choice when it came to picking a mate.”

 

“And he chose Kiara,” Jungkook said quietly.

 

“Yes. That also means that he has to approve all the mates in the pack, so there isn’t fighting. As you know, he’s approved of me and Hoseok, but we won’t be officiated until New Years.”

 

“Yeah, I know…”

 

Yoongi paused, then added, “And that also means that he has the right to mate with any other pack member he chooses.”

 

Jungkook was silent, then sat halfway up, whirling on Yoongi and saying, “But Jimin is an Alpha! And...and he loves Kiara! ….Doesn’t he?”

 

“Of course he does,” Yoongi said, petting at Jungkook’s hair and down his neck, trying to soothe him. “But as lead Alpha, that’s one of the more common ways for him to assert his dominance. It’s also his right, because he carries the responsibility of the whole pack, and because he’ll always go into rut more often than Kiara will go into heat. However,” Yoongi punctuated his sentence with a purposeful look, “You should know that Namjoon did not mate with Jimin.”

 

The world seemed to tilt a little on its axis, and Jungkook let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. “He..he didn’t?”

 

Yoongi gave a little smile, “No, he didn’t. Namjoon just helped walk Jimin through dealing with his first rut, so he’ll be able to do it on his own in the future. They fought, but they didn’t mate.”

 

“Why not, if it’s his right?” Jungkook couldn’t believe he was asking, but the image of Namjoon mounting Jimin’s trembling wolf form wouldn’t leave his mind.

 

“Because every pack leader is a little different,” Yoongi explained, “Namjoon and I decided to form this pack because neither of us liked the strict dominance of the packs we were in at that time. Some packs treat their inferiors like hunks of meat, and sometimes the Alphas get too cocky over their Omegas.” Yoongi’s voice had dropped to a solemn tone, and Jungkook shifted uncomfortably, reluctantly lying back down and letting Yoongi curl around him again, running his hand up and down Jungkook’s arm as if petting him. “Namjoon could just assume dominance over all of us, and to an extent he has to use that dominance to maintain order and earn respect, of course, but… he’s a bit more of a free-thinker, when it comes to that sort of thing. That’s why I respect him.”

 

“So when you moved into Hoseok’s room…?”

 

“We had discussed it with Namjoon, but we didn’t really need his permission. We just wanted his blessing,” Yoongi said, smiling into Jungkook’s neck. “You don’t have to be afraid of presenting, Jungkook. We’re all here to look after you, and Namjoon’s a good leader.”

 

Jungkook nodded. He knew Yoongi was right, he had already known that Namjoon wouldn’t do anything to hurt him, or the other members. But the last few days had somehow shaken the way he’d always taken that for granted, and he was glad that he now had a more solid explanation from Yoongi.

 

“You still smell like Jimin and Tae.” Yoongi pressed his nose to Jungkook’s jaw, sucking in a breath.

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook mumbled, still distracted by his thoughts.

 

“Was that all you wanted to ask about? Jimin’s presenting?”

 

Jungkook hummed, entwining his fingers with Yoongi’s again. He had now dealt with the turbulence in his mind over the earlier images of his dream, but there was still the final one that he needed to contend with. “Well…” he swallowed. “I sort of had a dream. And in--”

 

He cut himself off as the door to the cabin opened, both of them stilling as they listened to footsteps entering. “What are you two doing?” came Hoseok’s voice.

 

“Cuddling,” Yoongi stated simply. There was a distinctive creak as Hoseok clambered up the ladder, and both of them craned their heads to turn and see the look of distaste on Hoseok’s face. His lips were pinched and his mouth seemed to form a triangle, suggesting he was really irritated. “What?”

 

“That’s my Omega you’re cuddling with,” Hoseok whined at Jungkook, tugging on the aforementioned’s sleeve. “And he’s supposed to be helping me pack up the dishes.”

 

“Why do you think I snuck into here?” Yoongi smirked, pulling Jungkook closer and earning a smack from Hoseok.

 

“No, seriously, get off the boy. There’ve been enough hormones raging around this camp the last few days, and you’re close to your heat.”

“Hey!” Yoongi snapped, sitting up defensively. Jungkook chuckled, throwing his arm over Yoongi’s lap and tugging on his waist.

 

“He’s mine now,” Jungkook teased. “ Yoongles promised to love me forever, remember?”

 

Yoongi groaned, looking up at the ceiling. They were never going to let him live down the time he’d injured his ear and gotten drugged up on a nasty concoction of pain meds, alcohol and loneliness. He’d ended up snuggled into Jungkook for hours, calling him cute and asking him to call him the nickname.

 

Hoseok grabbed Yoongi’s other arm, tugging on it petulantly and whining, “No, he’s mine! Let go!”

 

“Okay, okay,” Jungkook laughed, letting Yoongi go and pushed him a little towards the Alpha. Hoseok and Seokjin were really easy-going Alphas when it came down to it, and were fun to tease, but even Jungkook knew there was a limit. The door clicked open and shut again. “But then who is going to cuddle me ? I’m the baby.”

 

“What about cuddling?” Seokjin poked his head up over the edge of the bunk, and Jungkook jumped away, spooked by his sudden appearance. Seokjin’s eyes curved up, signaling that he was smiling, even though Jungkook could only see the top part of his face. His face was pinkened by the exertion and from the chilliness outside. Hoseok tugged Yoongi out of the door with him, his hand tight around Yoongi’s wrist. “Are you ready to go, JK?”

 

“Um, I just need a few minutes.” He sat up and shifted to the bottom half of his bed, hiding himself behind the curtain and starting to roll up his clothes and shove them into his backpack.

 

“I wanted you finished so that you could help pack Jimin’s things for him,” Seokjin said in a bit of a complaint.

 

“He packed with me,” Taehyung piped up, “We shared a bag, so I’ll just put his things in with mine. Just let me lay out some new clothes for him first.”

 

“Wow..” Seokjin made a sound of concern at the back of his throat. “You both pack so light. What if he ran out of clean clothes?”

 

“We didn’t, though,” Taehyung chirruped. Jungkook could hear him shuffling around on Jimin’s still perfectly made bed. Jungkook shifted his now-packed backpack towards the ladder and stilled, seeing Seokjin kneeling on his bed and rolling up his pillowcase. Half-hidden behind the curtain, he stared at Seokjin, his hand still clutching his backpack as he realized he almost told Yoongi all about the dream. He was relieved he hadn’t, and also wished he had. Maybe Yoongi could have reassured him in his mollifying way that the dream meant nothing and didn’t need to be worried about.

 

Seokjin looked up, and Jungkook ducked back behind the curtain out of instinct. He heard Seokjin chuckling, and felt his face flush. Why couldn’t he just act normal around Seokjin again?

 

~~~~~

 

“Load up, it’s time to hit the road,” Yoongi slapped his palm against the metal siding of the truck, making it ring like a crude sort of bell as Namjoon locked the door to the Main Hall. Jimin and Namjoon had first dibs on the cab of the truck this time, so Taehyung, Jungkook and Yoongi were shifted to the bed, bundled up and with a sleeping bag tucked in around their knees. Hoseok was looking somewhat anxiously over his shoulder into the bed of the cab, but Namjoon had designated the seating arrangement without much room for negotiation. Yoongi was looking forlornly at the cooler, which he had checked at least five or six times since they had strapped it into the back, despite knowing that it was void of any beer that had been accidentally forgotten and left untouched during the drinking game the night before.

“It’s gonna be a long ride,” he sighed.

 

“You guys settled in back there?” Seokjin leaned over the side of the truck with a smile. Jungkook nodded but kept his eyes focused on his knees, and Seokjin ruffled his hair a bit roughly. Stubbornly, Jungkook tried to pretend that the spot where Seokjin touched now didn’t tingle a little bit in anticipation, that the smell that wafted down from Seokjin’s wrist wasn’t one he wanted to lean in towards, still starved for his daily Scenting that he had decided to end out of guilt over what he’d done.

 

“Let me drive,” Yoongi pouted.

 

“Could your feet even reach the pedals?” Seokjin teased, and Yoongi reached out to smack playfully at the older, but missed as he stepped away, laughing, and crawled into the driver’s seat. The truck revved up with an animalistic growl of its own, and Jungkook looked out the back of the cab as they pulled away, down the dirt road and away from the dimly-lit little camp in the grove. The trees hovered in close over the damp, puddled earth, and remnants of rain still dripped from the browning trees, making it look and smell like an enchanted grove where despite all the turmoil, he had felt at home. It would be months before they could come back, and the environment would be different, then, turned over into a new life. A wind picked up against the direction of the truck as they bounced and thudded along the bumpy path, and the scent of his packmates mingled with another scent for just a brief moment, making his hair stand on end. He sat up a little straighter, staring off into the trees, but the smell was gone before he even had a chance to identify it, something sickly sweet, like honeysuckle. He wondered if it was an animal, curious and sort of hoping it would be there when they came back. Taehyung leaned against Jungkook’s side, and sighed. Jungkook couldn’t agree more.

 

Chapter Text

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”

― Neil Gaiman

 


 

 

2 DAYS

 

~~~~~

 

Taehyung was beyond excited. He was wriggling around in his seat like an impatient child, practically falling out of it. Across the dining room table, Jimin smiled at him, blowing gently on the steam that floated above his cup of hot cocoa.

 

“Just hold still for five seconds, will you? You’re like a Mexican jumping bean,” Namjoon laughed, seated to Taehyung’s right, with Kiara sitting cradled in his lap. “There’s still like half an hour left.”

 

“I can’t help it.” Taehyung practically gasped out the words, his eyes locked on the blue-green glow of the clock on the microwave.

 

11:36.

 

In approximately 24 minutes, Taehyung would be twenty years old, and officially presented as an adult wolf in the pack. That is, as long as I don’t die of anticipation first.

 

He groaned, flopping down onto the table. “It’s sooo close!” A moment later, there was a chuckle in his ear, and Yoongi’s arms and earthy scent were encasing him, the Omega’s cheek pressed to his.

 

“Just be patient. It’s not like anyone’s going to be surprised.” He nuzzled in close to Taehyung, scrunching and squishing their faces up. Taehyung made a little whimper of petulant disapproval that he really didn’t mean. Hoseok glanced over at them, fiddling with his cell phone on the table and pressing his lips together.

 

“So long as he doesn’t present in the next 23 minutes and about 30 seconds as an Alpha or Omega.” Jimin laughed. But while his eyes sparkled, smiling over at Taehyung, the younger man wondered if Jimin could sense why he was so apprehensive. Jimin just seemed to know things sometimes, able to translate when Taehyung wasn’t able to clearly convey his thoughts, and he hoped that today, right now, was one of those times. He wondered if Jimin could hear the chanting in Taehyung’s mind. Anything but an Alpha. Anything but an Alpha.

 

“Is that likely?” Jungkook queried, his voice drifting up from beneath the table, where he was sitting cross-legged on one of his pillows, playing the newest Pokemon game. He shifted until his arms were spread across Hoseok’s lap, his chin resting on the Alpha’s firm thigh.

 

“No, it isn’t,” Hoseok said, reaching under the table and running his hand through Jungkook’s hair, as if seeking comfort. “It does happen, but he’s almost certainly a Beta, at this point. There’ve been no signs of ruts or heats at all.”

 

“Ahhh! why is the clock so slow today!?” Taehyung bemoaned.

 

“It’s the same speed it always is, Taehyung,” Jimin said through giggles. “That’s kind of how time works.” Taehyung had his elbows on the table now, and he pushed up at the corners of his eyes with the edges of his fingers, squishing his eyes into slits and continuing to complain with deep little noises. He turned to look over at Jimin, who was smiling serenely at him as he drank his cocoa. The young Alpha’s cheeks held a new, warm pink glow ever since his first rut, and in Taehyung’s opinion, he was looking prettier than ever.

 

“Well, actually, time is just a construct,” Namjoon said quietly, and Kiara slapped him on the arm while the others groaned. “What? It is…”

 

“11:36 still ?! How can a minute not have passed by?!” Taehyung’s foot was tapping heavily against the tile of the kitchen table.

 

Jungkook saw a hole in the thigh of Hoseok’s jeans, poking a finger through it and wriggling it around nonchalantly, making Hoseok yelp a little and jump, pushing at his hand. “But is being a Beta...like, a good thing?” Jungkook asked, “I always felt like they were seen as, I dunno, kind of... odd.”

 

“Well, they’re definitely a rarity,” Namjoon explained, “And Betas don’t have as many naturally strong instincts as a strong Alpha or strong Omega might. Betas are a bit peculiar, yes, and in a way that can be really useful or problematic, depending.”

 

“Basically, Betas are an ‘in flux’ sort of type,” he continued gently. “That’s why it’s harder to tell if they’ve presented before their 20th birthday. There’re no obvious signs, and lots of people opt for a blood test to make sure. They’re free from some of the hormones until they choose a mate, but then they kind of make up for missed heats or ruts by always being a little sensitive to their mate.”

 

“For example, if a Beta chooses to mate with an Alpha, his Omega-type hormones will kick in, and he’ll fill the role of an Omega for his mate. He’ll go into heats, he’ll be more protective the way an Omega is, and he’ll be more submissive. If his mate is an Omega, the same happens, but with Alpha-type hormones. He’ll get more aggressive, and have the protectiveness that Alphas have, and go into ruts. However, that’s a hormonal shift, and his body isn’t biologically an Alpha or an Omega, by scientific standards, so…”

 

“So it isn’t quite what you’d call permanent .” Kiara finished. “If his first mate dies and his second mate is another type, his hormones will change and he’ll fill the new role.”

 

“That’s amazing, it’s like having someone who is both types…” Jungkook breathed.

 

“Yeah, but you’ll learn soon enough that hormones are not to be fucked with. They fuck you ,” Yoongi sighed. “The flexibility may seem nice, but depending on the intimacy of the pack, it can be hellish for the Beta. A strong Alpha or Omega scent interrupting can cause the Beta to shift, mate or not. My mother is a Beta, and although my dad is a pretty strong Alpha, when I presented as Omega it threw her hormones so out of whack she had to take suppressants. They practically turned her into a zombie. It was one of the main reasons I left my blood pack.”

“Not to mention it’s very difficult for a Beta to have pups,” Kiara said quietly, tucking her head underneath Namjoon’s chin, her arms encircling his neck. She frowned at Taehyung, her eyes sad.

 

“But it’s definitely not impossible,” Namjoon reassured her, patting her arm and sending Taehyung a reassuring smile. “And I’d be proud to have a Beta in our pack. There’s a lot of different things that the presence of a Beta can offer.”

Taehyung was only half listening, though, as he practically jumped halfway out of his chair, eyes still locked on the clock. “11:38?! 11:38! Come on!


They chuckled at his eagerness, and Yoongi rubbed at the boy’s shoulders, trying to calm him down a little. “Jungkook, would you go tell Seokjin that it’s about time? He missed dinner, so he might want to eat something before the time switches over.”

Jungkook gave a noise of acknowledgement, crawling out from under the table and heading to the stairs. Seokjin had complained of a migraine and had gone back to his room for a nap, asking to be woken up about ten minutes before the presenting and apologizing to Taehyung. He had been complaining of headaches more and more in the last couple of weeks, blaming it on a shift in the weather added to the hellish levels of stress he’d had to live through for his final exams. Lately, all of them had taken to tiptoeing through the house whenever they were anywhere near his bedroom door.

 

Already at the top of the landing, Jungkook suddenly stopped, his heart racing a little from taking the stairs two steps at a time. He hadn’t really been in Seokjin’s room since the hunt, he realized. The awkwardness between them had only thickened, and both of them had been actively pretending they hadn’t noticed it. Jungkook hadn’t Scented him since the hunt, and though Seokjin still clumsily attempted to continue their growing skinship of before, Jungkook had kept a notable distance between them, ignoring the crestfallen looks Seokjin had sent towards his back. It was like the trip had caused them to take ten steps backwards, all the way back to how it had been when Seokjin had first moved in.

 

Jungkook very lightly rapped his knuckles against the door jamb, before pushing the door open with a gentle hand. It creaked, revealing Seokjin curled up on his mostly-made bed, the overhead light off but the desk lamp on and facing the wall, casting long shadows. For the sake of his nap he had folded the edge of the thick comforter with the blue ivy design on it over to cover his hips and shoulders, the lower half completely hiding his slim waist but his wider shoulders ensuring that only half his chest was covered. One hand was tucked underneath his cheek and the other tucked into the underarm of his sweater for warmth, his expression pulled a little tight, a little strained.

 

Fearing the mental attack of getting too close, Jungkook stepped cautiously into the room, stopping only halfway in. “Hyung, wake up. It’s time.”

 

Normally, Seokjin was one of the easiest people to wake up, but he didn’t respond to the call. Unable to abate his curiosity, Jungkook looked around the room. Seokjin was one of the neater residents of the pack house, and his room always smelled notably cleaner than the other Kim brothers, even beyond the usual strong headiness of Alpha scent and detergent. There were a few posters tacked carefully to the soft-blue painted wall, and a collection of video-game themed stuffed animals and figurines on a shelf over the bed. His laptop was shoved under the edge of the bed, along with a bag of chips rolled up neatly with a cute little bag-clip hold it shut. All in all, just as normal and unintimidating as Seokjin’s room had always been. After they had finally started getting close, Jungkook had even ventured up to hide in the eldest Alpha’s room, crawling under the bed frame, mooching off of the Alpha’s snacks and playing on his phone, or joining Yoongi and Seokjin for one of their quiet movie nights. It had been getting comfortable. Maybe too comfortable, he thought. But he couldn’t lie to his own mind very well. Despite how guilty he still felt over the dream(which to his horror and confusion had recurred at least four or five times in the months since), Jungkook missed being in this room. He missed the solace of quiet and Seokjin’s scent. But when Jungkook raised his eyes to look at Seokjin’s soft sleeping face, he remembered what he’d done that night in the cabin and his face flushed with shame, even as he had to admit that Seokjin was still, in his opinion, the handsomest hyung in the pack, and looked even more beautiful in his sleep.

 

“Hyung, wake up. It’s almost midnight,” he called again, venturing a couple steps closer. Seokjin stirred a little, rolling over until he was almost on his back, but didn’t wake. That was when Jungkook noticed the bit of white peeking out from Seokjin’s pillowcase, halfway fallen out as though it had been tugged free and tucked beneath Seokjin’s soft cheek.. He wouldn’t have given it more than a cursory glance, but Seokjin’s rolling off of it caused a slight whiff to shift up towards Jungkook, confusing him with its familiarity before he realized it was his own scent.

 

He reached out and bent down to sniff at the white fabric, and his nose wrinkled as he caught the smell of seawater, leather, and his own sweat loosely clinging to the material. He realized with a bit of a shock that it was one of his own plain white T-shirts, tucked into Seokjin’s pillowcase like it had been forgotten in there.

 

Jungkook’s hand was clutching the sleeve of the T-shirt and looking at it with an expression of bewilderment when Seokjin’s face crinkled a bit, his nose twitching in sleep and reminding Jungkook of how Taehyung’s did when he slept in wolf form and dreamt about a hunt. For a moment, the two brothers really did seem to resemble each other, Jungkook realized. Then, Seokjin’s expression relaxed, and he seemed to smile, mumbling something incoherent in his sleep that sounded like a name and turning his face a little toward the pillow to bury his nose in it. Then, his eyes fluttered opened, and he saw Jungkook leaning over the bed. There was a tense moment of stunned silence that felt like they had been suspended in time, and then Seokjin shot back away from the edge of the bed, crying out and clutching at the comforter in surprise.

 

“What the hell, Jungkook!? You have to stop that, I swear to--” he stopped mid-sentence, mid-rubbing a hand across his face, because he noticed what Jungkook was holding in his hand. Seokjin’s neck suddenly went the reddest Jungkook had ever seen it, so much so that Jungkook wondered if the Alpha was breathing.

 

“Why was this in your pillowcase?” Jungkook asked, his voice sounding numb and far away, dumbfounded.

“Um, I don’t know, sometimes socks and things get stuck inside the pillowcases when we wash them,” Seokjin said in a breathless rush, shrugging and slipping off the bed on the side furthest from Jungkook.

 

That didn’t make any sense to Jungkook, since an XL-sized T-shirt was a lot easier to notice wadded up in a pillowcase than a random sock, but the unwritten rules of his distance with Seokjin, his own self-inflicted punishment for the night in the cabin, did not allow him to pry any further than he already had. He would have to pretend he bought that excuse.

 

“It’s time for Taehyung’s Presenting,” Jungkook said quietly.

 

Seokjin inhaled sharply, rubbing a hand over his face and nodding, “Oh! How much time is left?”

 

“About 15 minutes, Yoongi figured you would want to eat before.”

 

“Oh, right. Yes.”

 

When the two of them came back down, if anyone else noticed their flushed faces and the escalated smell of saltwater emanating from Jungkook, no one mentioned it. Jungkook went to grab something to eat and found a half-emptied bag of lollipops that Namjoon still had left, digging through until he found a blueberry one. He turned around, intending to crawl back under the table, but Seokjin had already taken the last empty seat at the table, blocking the most logical entrance back to his spot. Tilting his head to the side in an unsure gesture, he opted instead to hop up and sit on the counter, watching the party from the edges of the room. His back felt a little sore from where he’d been sitting under the table earlier, though, and he had to keep shifting his position.

 

“Seokjin, Seokjin, there’s only 11 minutes left now!” Taehyung cried, as Seokjin grabbed the cereal box in the middle of the table and filled his bowl.

 

“I know, I know!” Seokjin laughed out, smiling at his younger brother, reaching out one hand and placing it at the back of Taehyung’s neck and squeezing lightly there. Taehyung’s smile was broad and toothy, unrestrained. “It’s exciting, isn’t it?”

“In a way,” Yoongi commented, cocking his head to the side. “But a Beta presenting seems a lot...calmer, somehow, than when an Alpha or Omega presents.”

 

At that, Jimin looked down at his lap and flushed a little. “Yeah, it’s nothing like mine, this feels really quiet and calm.”

 

“Each presenting is different,” Namjoon said consolingly. “You can’t compare one to the other.”

 

“I know, I’m just… I’m sorry I caused so much trouble back then.” Jimin sighed, his brow crinkling in effort. “I just didn’t want to delay the hunt when everyone was so excited. It didn’t seem as important, since I thought I was just feeling a little sick.”

 

“Even if it’s just a little sick, or a little problem,” Seokjin cut in, taking a pause from inhaling his cereal to give Jimin a pointed look, a little smile on his face. “It’s okay to tell others if you’re feeling troubled, Jimin. The same goes for all of us.”

 

“Yeah,” Hoseok smiled, leaning over to lay a hand on Taehyung’s shoulder and squeeze gently. “You have to tell us!”

 

Taehyung smiled, and Jimin laughed

 

“I remember when I Presented,” Namjoon smiled, sitting back a little with that expression of quaint nostalgia. They groaned, but let him go on about the Worst Walk To The Park Ever, until Jimin tapped at the middle of the table to gently get their attention.

 

“TaeTae,” he said quietly, leaning forward. “1 minute left.”

 

At that, the boy shot halfway out of his seat, Hoseok’s hand flying away. Taehyung gaped at the microwave light, and Namjoon picked his cell phone up off the table.

 

“Only 20 seconds, actually!” He laughed, holding it out for everyone to see. Taehyung’s eyes seemed to deepen, the realization that the moment was finally here sending his body into tensity and shock. He clenched and unclenched his fists at his side, licking his lips fervently.

 

At 10 seconds to midnight, everyone gleefully joined in on a noisy countdown.

 

“10...9...8…”

 

For Taehyung, the world seemed to spin a little, and he felt hot and cold at the same time. He looked around at everyone in turn. Namjoon and Kiara’s, smiling proudly. Seokjin, clapping his hands together like a gleeful little child with every number. Jungkook, perched on the counter with the lollipop sticking out of the side of his mouth, smirking so that his nose crinkled. Hoseok, now holding onto Yoongi’s wrists as the Omega had his arms encircling the Alpha’s neck. And finally, Jimin, who was smiling so brightly his eyes looked shut, his expression somehow sparkling. Taehyung could hear the Alpha’s light, musical voice lilting in and out among the others. He smiled. Not an Alpha. Here was his family, the pack he finally belonged in. A household of warmth that hadn’t hesitated to welcome him, the pack he wanted to be a part of forever.

 

“3...2...1! Congratulations!” Everyone screamed, patting him on the back until it hurt. He beamed at them, his cheeks strained with the effort.

 

“You’re a Beta now!” Seokjin called out, pulling Taehyung towards him by the neck and bumping their foreheads together. “The first in our family in almost seventy years!” After a second, he caught Taehyung’s eye, their faces now close enough that he was able to gently whisper, “And Taehyung, I think grandma would be proud of you, if she could see you now.”

 

Feeling a tight constriction in his chest, tears stung at the edges of Taehyung’s eyes, and he could see from the momentary quiver of Seokjin’s lip that he was feeling overwhelmed, too. He smiled at Taehyung, the expression strained as their eyes started to get puffy and red. Seokjin sniffed, lifting up and pulling Taehyung to lean against his broad, dependable chest. He buried his face in his shirt and nodded, even though Seokjin hadn’t asked him anything. Suddenly Namjoon was at their side, patting at their shoulders roughly in a gesture of unspoken understanding.

 

“Seokjin, why do you always have to go and ruin the mood?!” Yoongi snapped playfully, “This is supposed to be a happy moment and you’re already making him cry.” The dependable chest rumbled against his cheek as Seokjin laughed.

“Just because your eyes are the Sahara Desert, doesn’t mean he can’t have happy tears,” Kiara teased, even as she was wiping at her own eyes.

 

And then there was the angelic voice of Jimin from next to the fridge, and Taehyung looked up to see Jimin with a candle-lit cake, Jungkook still holding the lighter as they started to sing.

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

 

Now Taehyung was really crying, letting out a happy, “Aaaaah!” sound as he wiped at his eyes, chuckling warmly as Jimin brought the cake up to him. It was decorated in beautiful mounds of whipped cream with deep swirls and grooves, topped with red, ripe strawberries and his name written on top of a little white chocolate plaque.

 

Happy birthday, dear Tae-Tae

Happy birthday to you!

 

Taehyung blew out the candles in one big huff, and everyone clapped. Before Yoongi even had time to take off the still-hot candles, Taehyung had already picked up the biggest of the strawberries and popped it into his mouth, smiling and squinting his eyes shut in absolute glee. He was officially a Beta. He was officially a full-grown wolf. And in just two nights he would be officially presented as a full-blooded member of the pack. High off of his new position, Taehyung smirked at Jimin and Jungkook, stepping up onto one of the chairs and raising one hand, the other still holding the stem of his strawberry.


“Everyone!” he said boldly, his chest swelling with anticipation as they smiled up at him with warmth. “Now that I am presented, I have an announcement to make! I want to make a Claim!”

 

The room froze, and the hands raised and poised to clap were suspended as if held back by invisible cords. The smiles faded from their faces, and Jungkook looked around uncertainly.

 

In a small voice, the last of the unpresented pups asked, “Um… what’s a Claim?”

 

“He means Claiming a mate ,” Kiara said, sounding surprised herself.

 

“Yes, and I’d like to announce my Claim, I cho--”

 

“Taehyung,” Namjoon said warningly, gently lifting Kiara off of his lap and moving to stand up. “This isn’t the way to do things. Claims aren’t made so publicly, at least not at first.”

 

“Yeah,” Hoseok’s shoulders looked tense, his lips pursed tightly together. “You’re supposed to confer with Namjoon first. That’s how all Claims work. You don’t get to just choose so suddenly. We won’t recognize it.”

 

Between the short, abrupt declarations, Taehyung’s entire mood deflated like a balloon. “But...what if I want to make the Claim now ? What if I don’t want to wait?”

 

To Taehyung’s surprise, Hoseok was looking increasingly agitated, his posture tight and tall, his jawline more defined than usual due to the way he was tilting his head, as if challenging Taehyung.

 

“We won’t recognize it,” Hoseok stated firmly. Then came Hoseok’s Alpha scent. Taehyung felt his hair stand a little on end at the dark Alpha undertones to the normally comforting smell of vanilla, overwhelming in a dense cloud that had Taehyung stepping down from the chair, eyes wide.

 

“Hoseok, sit down, right now. You’re overstepping,” Namjoon snarled, and quickly the vanilla was sapped away, as if someone had run through the room and sucked it into a bottle for later use, and out spat the smell of woody smoke from Namjoon’s side of the table. Everyone’s eyes turned to lock on Namjoon, who rarely used as much of his Alpha voice as he was in that moment. Hoseok withdrew, physically and emotionally, shrinking down into his seat and dipping his head in submission. Namjoon lifted his eyes to Taehyung then, who started quivering a little on the spot.

 

“I’m sorry, Namjoon,” Taehyung breathed. “I’ll do it properly.”

 

“Come with me,” Namjoon stated, turning to the stairs, throwing a gesture over his shoulder to indicate Taehyung after him. Taehyung looked to Seokjin with worry and questions evident in his eyes, and Seokjin frowned, but tilted his head towards the stairs,remaining silent. “The rest of you stay downstairs. We might as well have this conference now.”

 

When the two Kim brothers had ascended to the upper floor, everyone stood around for a moment, really awkwardly.

 

“Someone should explain things to Jungkook,” Seokjin said after a while. “He seems confused.”

 

“Someone should have explained things to Taehyung,” Hoseok said pointedly. “It’s undermining to Namjoon’s authority to make a Claim that way.”

 

“He just got overexcited,” Seokjin snapped. Jungkook looked between the two Alphas, shrinking against the cupboard at his back. Seokjin’s scent was reaching out and whipping at the lingering edges of Hoseok’s, biting and acrid as though Seokjin’s anger had charred the edges of it. “You know he didn’t mean to offend.”

 

“Maybe you know, but I don’t,” Hoseok shot back just as quickly. There were lingering snarls that seemed to echo beneath their words, and for a moment Jungkook thought that they were about to jump at each other. Fortunately, Kiara and Yoongi stepped in between, back to back and holding up their hands to the agitated Alphas.

 

“Calm down, you’re both being ridiculous!” Kiara growled, her eyes a shimmering blue, her teeth subconsciously baring as she stared Seokjin down. “There’s always some tension in pack-member shifts, you both know that. And there’s always a little misinformation, always a little more we can teach the younger ones. That’s our job .”

 

“And Taehyung is no threat to you,” Yoongi added, his own sky-colored orbs meeting Hoseok’s red-tinged ones. “There’s no reason to get angry with him. He’s just presented - as a Beta, nonetheless - not twenty minutes ago. And more importantly, he’s one of our pack . So why are you all worked up?”

Hoseok opened his mouth as if to speak, then stopped himself, glancing up towards Seokjin before pinching his lips together and straightening up his back. The expression on his face wasn’t quite guilty, but somewhere in the realms of torn, wounded.

 

“I overreacted, I’m sorry,” Hoseok said at last, looking down at his feet.

“And I got defensive,” Seokjin admitted, albeit a little reluctantly. He turned, then, as if to walk out of the room, but his eyes flickered over and locked with Jungkook’s, making the younger wolf freeze in his tracks at the uncharacteristically dark look in Seokjin’s eyes. He looked like another person entirely, someone capable of cruelty and bitterness. But as quickly as the darkness had flashed across his face, it washed away. Seokjin seemed to be a little thrown aback by something in the way Jungkook was watching him, his expression suddenly one of surprise and almost vulnerability. Jungkook blinked, slowly removing the lollipop from his mouth with a gentle little pop .

 

“Someone explain Claims properly to Jungkook,” he said, even as he was still looking straight at Jungkook himself. He then walked out of the room, and following the light jingle of keys, the front door opened and shut.

 

Jungkook turned to Kiara, his eyes wide. “Aren’t Claims like an engagement?”

 

“Well, yes. It’s more like a request, or a first-stage betrothal. A pack member - usually an Alpha puts in a request for a mate, and it’s up to Namjoon to approve it or deny it. But honestly, depending on the pack leader, that Claim can be changed or completely ignored at any time. It’s more to stop fights from between pack members in the long run.”

 

“But other members would respect it usually, right? Hoseok, did you lay a Claim on Yoongi?”

 

“At the time there weren’t any other Alphas in the pack, so I didn’t see much need to,” Hoseok said sullenly, his arms crossed. “I should have, though. Now that we have Seokjin and Taehyung.”

 

And Jimin,” Yoongi added with some venom to his voice. “I don’t think any of them are interested in laying a Claim on me , Hoseok. They know we’re going to be mated.”

 

“But Taehyung’s a new Beta, and male Betas usually choose an Omega to mate, you know that,” Hoseok snapped, “Why would he choose to be an Omega when he could be an Alpha?!”

 

Yoongi’s eyes flashed, and immediately Hoseok’s face showed that he knew he had crossed the line. “You say that like being an Omega is a bad thing.” Every syllable dripped like acid from Yoongi’s lips. “Like being an Omega is somehow lesser.

 

“No, no, I didn’t meant that,” Hoseok raised his hands in apology, and suddenly tears were at his eyes. “Please, no, Yoongi. I just meant that he might--” He stepped toward Yoongi, who brushed him off with one brusque movement and a snarl.

 

“I don’t know what scent’s got you hyped up like a pup on Nip, but you need to fucking get your head screwed back on straight, Hoseok. Until then, don’t talk to me.”

 

“Yoongi! I’m sorry, I--”

 

The door to the closest empty bedroom - Jungkook’s - slammed, with Yoongi locked behind it, the air crackling in his wake with the scent of musk and earth. From somewhere up above, a door opened and shut, and for a moment they could smell the citrusy Beta scent of Taehyung returning to his room.

 

Kiara frowned at the remaining party, a stressful wrinkle forming between her brows, and she looked a little breathless. “I think,” she said slowly, “That it’s been a rough day for everyone. Let’s just… let’s all go to bed, and talk things through once we’re a little less tired, okay?”

 

Jungkook nodded quietly, looking over as Jimin came up to his side, tucking quietly up against Jungkook’s arm and snaking his hand around his elbow. Jimin’s head was downcast, his expression out of Jungkook’s sight as he whimpered a little, laying his cheek against Jungkook’s shoulder.

 

“Jungkookie,” Jimin said quietly, “I don’t want to go upstairs tonight. Can I… Can I sleep down here with you?”

 

Again, he gave a nod. And he looked over at Kiara, who was trying to smile despite the obvious worry written in the lines of her face. She ran a hand through Jimin’s hair, then Jungkook’s. “Do you boys want me to stay with you for awhile?”

 

But even as she said so, the booming sound of Namjoon’s voice echoed down from the landing, calling out to her somberly. “Kiara?””

 

She looked up, swallowing as Jungkook could see in her eyes the need to go to her mate, and he offered a smile to her. “No, we’ll be okay, thanks.”

 

“But thank you, Kiara,” Jimin said, reaching out and squeezing her hand for a moment before she left them. Hoseok still stood in the middle of the room, looking lost as he stared at the locked door attached to the kitchen.

 

“Hoseokie-hyung?” Jungkook asked, stepping forward, awkwardly balancing Jimin on his shoulder by wrapping an arm around him, the Alpha stumbling reluctantly forward. “Are you alright?”

 

He turned to them, and Jungkook’s heart constricted at the way Hoseok’s face had become all blotchy and red, his face covered in wet as he sniffled thickly. To Jungkook’s surprise, Hoseok still tried to offer him a tear-stained smile. Hoseok had been attached to Yoongi almost as soon as he’d entered the pack, but he had always taken the time to take care of Jimin and Jungkook, who he called ‘his pups.’ He was close to them, protective of them, probably more than a little biased toward them. But while he had felt cared for and trusted in Namjoon and Yoongi, Hoseok was the one who had given Jungkook a taste of what it meant to love someone unconditionally. And it hurt to see him hurting.

 

“It’s my own fault,” Hoseok managed, his voice thick with phlegm as he sniffled again. “I was just so s-scared of having so many new Alphas...and he’s the only other Omega, so…”

 

“Hoseokie-hyung,” Jimin said quietly, looking up into the older Alpha’s face with concern. “You know I wouldn’t, right? And Taehyung wouldn’t, either.”

 

Hoseok tried another smile, letting out a choked sob, but nodding. “Yeah, I know. I know you wouldn’t. And I don’t think Taehyung would, either. I’m sorry.”

 

The two of them stepped forward, leaning up into him and laying against his chest on either side, pressing into his neck and Scenting him in a gesture of comfort. Hoseok’s body wracked with sobs, but he seemed to warm under their ministrations. They all ended up crawling under Jungkook’s table, squished with their legs sticking out the bottom and with blankets awkwardly bunched up around them. Hoseok lay in the middle, both of the younger boys laying on his arms as he hugged his arms over their shoulders, the two of them curling in against his chest. At some point Jungkook went and flicked the kitchen light out, coming back under the warmth of the covers to find Hoseok had cried himself to sleep, worry still pressed between his eyebrows. But at least he looked a little more relaxed in sleep, and could dream of something pleasanter for a while. Jungkook saw the shadow of Jimin’s head lift a little in the dimness.

 

“Jungkookie?” Jimin whispered.

 

“Yes?” Jungkook whispered back, feeling the sensation of Hoseok’s hot, even breathing against his face as he adjusted into a more comfortable position, his hand rested under his cheek.

 

“Um, who do you think Taehyung wanted to Claim?”

“Honestly?” Jungkook paused, blinking into the darkness, and thinking about it. “I don’t know.”

 

“Oh..” Jimin sounded crestfallen, as though that hadn’t been the answer he’d been seeking.

 

“I mean, it would be weird for him to lay a Claim on me, since I’m not presented yet or anything, right?”

“Well, maybe, but…” Jimin hummed a little, a delicate sound, “But to be fair, he’s a Beta, so it wouldn’t matter much what you presented as, I guess?”

“Maybe.” Jungkook paused, then said, “I don’t think Taehyung cares about being an Alpha or Omega, Jimin. I know Hoseok is worried, but.. I don’t think that sort of thing matters to Taehyung.”

 

“Yeah, that’s what I think, too.” Jungkook heard Jimin sigh, a little breeze of his breath and the smell of his peppermint Alpha flavor so strong in the air for a brief moment that Jungkook could taste it.

“Jungkook, could I tell you a secret?”

 

“Yes,” Jungkook said without hesitation. He felt Jimin’s Alpha perking up with hesitant hope in the darkness, reassured by Jungkook’s solid affirmation. “Anything.”

 

“I...I hope he picks me.”

 

Jungkook stopped, the silence in the air thick as he considered. In one sentence he could sense all the anxiety Jimin was so determined to hide away, the hopes and dreams he’d been tucking out of sight and turning over in his mind whenever he could. In all honesty, he couldn’t say he was surprised at Jimin’s draw to Taehyung. The Beta was warm and beautiful and earthy, he was smart and hilarious and easy to be with. More importantly, he and Jimin had a sort of playful rapport, a closeness that had skipped over the initial awkward stages, as if they had always known each other. What surprised Jungkook was that his first thought was wondering where that left him in the pack, and an anxiety he thought he had buried started to bloom in the pit of his stomach as he irrationally feared that once everyone else was mated off, that he wouldn’t matter as much to the pack anymore. What if Taehyung and Jimin left him alone?

 

“J-Jungkook? Say something.”

 

In response, Jungkook reached out, fumbling a little blindly for Jimin’s hand as it rested between them, entwining his fingers into Jimin’s. “I think you two might be soulmates. I hope he picks you, too.”

 

He heard a little sniffle, and he could faintly smell Jimin’s tears as he squeezed Jungkook’s hand. “Thank you, Jungkookie.”

 

“Are you going to Claim him?”

 

“I was going to, after he presented, but now that he already has someone in mind, well… I’ve lost my confidence.”

 

“I’m sure he’ll pick you, Jiminie,” Jungkook whispered into the darkness. “You didn’t see him when you were away in your rut. He was like a different person.”

 

Jimin seemed to mull over those words for a bit, and his hand squeezed again at Jungkook’s. “Thank you, Jungkookie. I hope you know... that if it wasn’t Taehyung, then--”

 

“Don’t worry about that,” Jungkook said quietly, sounding more certain than he usually did. “I’m not worried about it at all, so you shouldn’t, either.”

 

Jimin gave another sniffle, his thumb rubbing the back of Jungkook’s hand. “Liar,” he accused, and Jungkook heard the sad smile in the uttered syllable. “You only sound that confident when you’re lying. I meant it when I told you not to forget - Jiminie loved you first.”

 

Jungkook smiled. The words carried more weight with them now, and his chest ached horribly, and everyone was fighting and tense and nothing was going right. But in a strange, twisted way, Jungkook felt reassured, curled underneath the kitchen table with two of his Alphas, that everything was going to be okay, because he was loved.

 

Chapter Text

“Our lives improve only when we take chances ... and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves. ”

Walter Anderson




 

 

1 DAY

 

~~~~~

 

The drive back out to the island was much tenser this time, and colder. They left in the afternoon, and Jungkook would have thought the afternoon sun would have given them more heat, but even with hot packs and sleeping bags piled up around them, Jungkook, Yoongi, and Taehyung were still shivering from the constant wind caused by the movement of the truck. Eventually, Yoongi told them to get into wolf form, curling up around each other inside two sleeping bags zipped together into one large one, their wet noses the only thing peeking out and causing little white puffs from their exhales. Fur brushed up against fur, and soon they were able to get comfortable with the higher internal body temperature.

 

Taehyung had said nothing to the others the next morning after his announcement, and his birthday thrill had been quickly dampened by the scent of aggressive Alpha bitterness, mixed with defensive Omega smells. He seemed to sniffle next to Jungkook, and the younger pup’s ears flickered back and forth, wondering how to reassure him. When they arrived at the campsite, it still smelled and sounded like home, but Jungkook felt lethargic, almost heavier than normal, his mood weighted under the thickness of the atmosphere. He stood up from the bed of the truck, body drooping, and then saw the snow that now covered every available surface. His tail lifted up a bit in interest, and he leapt down into the powdered snow, whiteness flying up around his paws as he let out a little half-whimper of appreciation. He leapt around for a minute or two, forgetting for a moment in his fixation all the built up stress from last night. He hopped on all fours, slamming his front paws into the snow to see it leap up again, brushing up against the fur of his belly and chest and yipping. He looked up and saw Seokjin, big puffy black jacket zipped up to his neck and holding an enormous backpack, smiling softly in his direction. Jungkook hopped a few more times comedically, bringing his front paws down as hard as he could, and letting out another squeaking whine, his tongue lolling. Seokjin laughed, and Jungkook felt like he had done something right at last.

 

“What a pup!” Seokjin chuckled, heading toward the cabins. In retaliation, Jungkook barked at Seokjin’s back, making the Alpha jump nearly a foot in the air and nearly drop his backpack into the snow. Seokjin sent a glare over his shoulder and Jungkook seemed to be laughing in pants, running in a quick circle to show off. Taehyung came up next to Jungkook and sniffed heavily at him, snorting a little and then padding off through the snow as well, dramatically lifting his paws up away from the cold, wet substance.

 

“Jungkook,” Namjoon called out, taking the keys out of his pocket. “Once you get unpacked, you and I are going out on a run.”

 

The pup lifted an ear, tilting his jaw to the side and upwards as though uncertain. Then, he turned around on the spot in a tight circle and transformed back, nearly falling into Taehyung as he did so.

 

“Just me?” he called out, face a little flushed and pink from the quick shift. Taehyung sniffed at Jungkook’s ear curiously, and Jungkook lightly pushed him away. Neither of them saw Jimin standing, waiting at the entrance to the cabin and biting his lip.

 

“Yeah, I promised you a one-on-one hunt, right?” Namjoon smirked, his lips seeming to stretch across his face in an expression of childish warmth, a rare expression for him. “Let’s make up for lost time and get one hunt in before dinner.”

 

“Oh, okay.” Jungkook said, still pushing at Taehyung, who was transformed back and now trying to Scent Jungkook. Namjoon walked off to unlock the Main Hall, most of the others following behind him with the rest of the shared supplies.


“Kookie,” Taehyung murmured, “You smell different today. I thought it was just the sleeping bags, but…”

 

“Huh?”

 

“And your body feels different, too,” Taehyung whispered, rubbing his nose up against Jungkook’s adam’s apple. It would have been a much more disconcerting gesture if it wasn’t for the way Taehyung did it, like it was the most natural thing in the world, like it was no big deal. “I don’t think you should go out on a hunt.”

 

“But, Namjoon specifical--”

 

“Taehyung? Jungkook?” Jimin called out, still waiting at the cabin entrance, now with his arms wrapped around his backpack and hugging it tightly to his chest. “Are you coming?”

 

“Tell Namjoon to let you rest for tonight,” Taehyung told him, his eyes flashing gold for a moment, his Scent rising in warning. “If you don’t, I will.”

 

“Taehyung? What’s wrong?” Jimin’s voice rose again, and he was suddenly at their side, pressing in closely, sniffing at the air. “Why are you…?”

 

“Jungkook smells different, I don’t want him to go on that hunt with Namjoon,” Taehyung stated, his eyes still dark with worry as he turned towards Jimin. Peppermint rose in the air, and Jungkook identified the aura of jealousy there, growing quickly. Jimin’s eyes started to go red.

 

“Jimin, Jimin, don’t. He was just worried, that’s all.” Jungkook said, touching a hand to the Alpha’s arm to calm him. At the rare gesture, Jimin turned over towards him and then pressed his lips together.

 

“He’s right,” Jimin stated finally. “You smell totally different today. You’re not going.”

 

“What?!” Jungkook gasped, surprised at the straightforward command in Jimin’s voice. He could feel that Jimin had tried to use his Alpha voice on him, and failed, making Jungkook  irritable. “I feel fine, I’m just tired! I wanna go on the hunt with Namjoon.”

 

“Don’t make the same mistake I did, Jungkook,” Jimin said, furrowing his brows in an attempt to look intimidating, but his soft cheeks betrayed him. His words, however, held a sting. “If something’s wrong, you have to say something. You could be getting sick, or… Let’s go talk to Seokjin--”

 

“I don’t want to talk to Seokjin,” Jungkook said too quickly, the panic in his tone. He had managed to stay more than six feet from him at all times, and when there was that distance, he was fine. But the idea of Seokjin looking deeply into his eyes and throat, using his medical skills to inspect him closely, had his skin flushing.

 

“Why not?” came a voice just behind him, and Jungkook jolted, turning around to find Seokjin just behind him, looking at him with an arched eyebrow, frowning.

 

“B-because I feel fine!” Jungkook snapped. Without giving him time to slip away, Seokjin grabbed Jungkook by the upper arm, his grip surprisingly gruff, and placed the back of his hand against Jungkook’s forehead. Instantly, Jungkook shivered, and he was certain it wasn’t because of the cold wintry air, but the sudden wave of Seokjin’s clean, powder-like Alpha scent that washed over him. He had been deprived of Scenting Seokjin for over two months now, but each time he got even the slightest whiff, it was torture, like he needed it. Today was even worse, possibly because of the addition of the gentle smell of the snow and dead foliage, but it was like he was a man starved and that scent was the most delicious nourishment in the world. Jungkook bit at his lip, trying not to lean into Seokjin’s hand. He didn’t deserve a touch, much less Scenting Seokjin. Not until he had come to terms with the dreams.

 

“They’re right. You’re a bit feverish. It may have been because of how cold the bed of the truck was. I’m going to make you some tea, so go lie down in the cabin.”

 

“What?!”Jungkook finally found the strength to pull away from Seokjin’s hand, shaking his hair, his bangs fluttering away from his eyes like a black curtain.

 

“I’m not sick though,” Jungkook snapped, batting Jin’s hand away. But Jin just frowned, pointing a finger to the cabin.

 

“I’ll let Namjoon know you can’t hunt right now, so just go lie down.”

 

“But I’m fine, I can go!” After the stress of the night before, Jungkook wanted nothing more than to run off at full speed into the woods as a wolf, away from the tension and towards his instincts to hunt, and most importantly, away from Seokjin’s tempting scent.

 

“I’m not asking, Jungkook,” Seokjin started, and Jungkook felt a prickle at his spine to hear that darker, commanding tone from the Alpha. Then, Seokjin seemed to recover himself, a smile coming to his lips as he tilted his head to the side. “I know you’ve been up late playing video games anyways, so you’re probably tired. Pups need their sleep too, you know.”

 

“Don’t call me pup,” Jungkook mumbled, his fight somehow threatening to instantly deflate at the nickname. “What will you do if I Present as an Alpha and become stronger than you?”

 

His words were meant to be a little dramatic, meant to inspire a sort of half-truth tease, but Seokjin’s face suddenly fell, his mask of a smile falling away and leaving him looking almost wounded. Jungkook stared at him, waiting for him to say something, but he didn’t move.

 

“Seokjin?” Jungkook said.

 

“Go lie down. Now. You look feverish.” Seokjin said, turning away and going to the Main Hall. Jungkook watched after his receding back, then turned to Jimin and Taehyung. They just sent him a similarly puzzled look, and went into the cabin. Jungkook jerked his jaw to the side in a gesture of uncertainty and confusion, then followed after them. He shrugged off his backpack and tossed it up onto his bunk, clambering up after it. He was halfway up when a hand slapped against his buttocks lightly, stopping him in his tracks. Jungkook craned his head around to see it was Jimin just behind him, the Alpha’s brows crinkled together.

 

“We’re just worried about you, you know that, right?”

 

Jungkook nodded, climbing up and turning over onto his side, curling up with his arms crossed.

 

“Jungkook?” Taehyung called out, concern evident in his voice.

 

“I’m fine, just let me rest,” Jungkook sighed, burying his head into his pillow. He could hear the two of them talking in hushed whispers below him, the sound carrying up much clearer than either of them realized, and he could make out that they were discussing going out on a quick hunt before dark.

 

“I hate to leave him alone, but… it’s probably best if he just rests, you know?” Jimin was whispering. “Besides, I think we could all use some stress relief, and a hunt seems the way to do it. I asked Yoongi if he would come, too. He’s probably the best hunter in the pack, although Hoseok is faster. But he won’t come if Hoseokkie comes.”

 

“What happened last night after I went upstairs? They seem so angry with each other?”

“Well…” Jimin sounded hesitant, but Jungkook noticed he was surprisingly straightforward when he explained, “Hoseokkie was upset, because...he thought you might try to Claim Yoongi…”

 

“What?!” Taehyung hissed in surprise. “ Yoongi ?!”

 

“..So he said some things he didn’t mean, and crossed a line. They have this thing about being equals, no matter who the Alpha or the Omega is. Back before Hoseokkie, Yoongi really wanted a mate, but he kept finding these really mean Alphas who just took advantage of him. So it’s a real sore spot.” Jimin paused. “It was awful to just hear about, so I can’t imagine what it was like for Namjoon, who was friends with him then.”

 

Jungkook laid quietly on the bed, withholding a sigh. He remembered Yoongi coming home with a broken arm once, scratches all over and a face blotchy and swollen from tears. It had taken Namjoon ages to find out he’d run into one of his exes. Namjoon had asked if he was hurt, and at first Jungkook didn’t understand why Namjoon would ask when it was obvious from the wounds, but when Yoongi shook his head and more tears fell, he realized what Namjoon was suggesting.

 

“He didn’t get what he wanted,” was all Yoongi said, “But his bark was definitely worse than his bite.”

 

Jungkook remembered Namjoon’s feral growl, one that shook the room as he squeezed his hands into fists, telling Jungkook to lock the doors and stay in the house with Yoongi until he came back. Jungkook, then timid and unsure, had tried to gently tend to Yoongi’s wounds, letting Yoongi nuzzle into him as much as he needed. He patted his shoulder, whispering reassurances that Namjoon would look out for them, would protect them, like he always had. Namjoon was gone all night, and when he came back he looked exhausted but satisfied.

 

The day Yoongi had brought Hoseok home, Jungkook had refused to speak to him for over two months, simply glaring at him with uncertainty, until he walked in and caught them on the couch, Yoongi’s head resting in Hoseok’s lap, his neck bare and exposed as Hoseok ran his hands through Yoongi’s hair, humming softly to him. The look of bliss, of trust and relaxation on Yoongi’s face imprinted into Jungkook’s memory for a long time. Even when they were bickering - which was often - Jungkook had known with certainty that Hoseok would never raise a hand to Yoongi, and he never used his Alpha voice. In all honesty, he cried the most out of all of them, was gentler than any Alpha Jungkook had known, softer, more Omega-like, even. It had taken a long time for Yoongi to trust him, and even longer for Namjoon and Jungkook. But he had a long record of years of patience and sweetness on his side, and Jungkook knew that Hoseok had regretted his words the instant they left his mouth.

 

“That’s so sad,” Taehyung said, forgetting to whisper for a moment. “I knew Yoongi had a thing about Alphas, but I didn’t know what. But still…”

 

They were quiet for a moment, then a strange scent filled the air. Jungkook sniffed at it curiously, recognizing Taehyung’s citrusy scent.


“Jimin?” Taehyung whispered again, sounding nervous. “I’m sorry.”

 

“You’ve been saying that to me all day, TaeTae, what are you even sorry for?” Jimin giggled lightly.

 

“I’m…. I know we only joked about it before, you know, about being soulmates, but… I wanted to Claim you.”

 

Jungkook froze, and the room was encompassed in silence for a moment. Jungkook had a sneaking suspicion they had forgotten all about him.

 

“Y-you do?”

 

“Is...is that okay?”

 

“Is it okay?!” There was a sniffle, and then Jimin laughed. “ I was going to Claim you , but you beat me to it!”

 

“Well, I do have longer legs, so you’re just gonna have to start running faster to keep up!” Taehyung’s deep, hearty chuckle echoed through the room, and there was a rustle of clothing, a creak of the bed. The smell of citrus and peppermint were mingling together, until Jungkook could barely tell them apart. “Namjoon was really angry last night. He said I should have talked to you first, then him. I tried telling him we were soulmates but he wouldn’t listen…”

 

“So did he approve of it?”

Taehyung sighed, “No, he told me I had to wait and think it through, that there was too much going on right now. He said he’ll talk to me about it again in the spring. So, I’m sorry… I can’t Claim you yet. But wait for me, Jimin! You have to! I don’t want you to go through another rut without me!”

 

“Me neither…” Jimin sighed, and it was a happy sound. “I’d feel safe with you there.”

 

They lay there for a moment in the quiet, and then Taehyung started a gentle hum. Jungkook could almost picture them, as they always were when they had their sleepovers in Jimin’s room. Jimin rocking back and forth with Taehyung curled up against his chest contentedly, pressing his head into Jimin’s jawline and gnawing playfully at the boy’s arm.

 

“Stop nibbling on me, you’re not a teething pup,” Jimin chuckled, and Jungkook knew he’d been right.

 

“I’ll nibble on more than your arm, if you let me,” Taehyung teased flippantly. “I like eating peppermint sticks.” Jimin shushed him, a light smacking sound cracking across the room.

 

“Tae hyung, you can’t just say that! What if Jungkook hears you?!”

 

“Then let him,” Taehyung said. “I don’t want to hide. It’s harder to hide your feelings, and it’s messy. Seokjin hides his feelings all the time, and I hate it.”

 

“Mmm,” Jimin hummed. “I’m not very good at hiding my feelings. Hoseokkie says they’re always really clear on my face.”

“I know, I like that.”

 

“Mmm.”

 

A few minutes of silence encompassed them, and their breathing evened out until Jungkook wondered if they had fallen asleep. Then Jimin sat up and hissed. “We’d better get going, the others are probably waiting!”

 

“Oh, right,” Taehyung whispered back. There was the cry of a zipper, and some shuffling, and then the two of them left, and the last pup was alone.

 

Jungkook frowned into his pillow, disgruntled as he remembered why he was being left behind. As sincerely elated as he was for Taehyung and Jimin, he hated that they had gone on the hunt without him. He didn’t want to make the others worry, but he didn’t want to miss another chance at a full hunt, much less one with Namjoon. Him being sick right now and stressing out the others was the last thing the pack needed. His only consolation was that at least Taehyung and Jimin would be too distracted by each other to worry about him too much. Jungkook sighed, but eventually managed to doze off into fitful rest.

 

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed before the door opened again and a creak of the ladder whined. There was the faint smell of soap in the air.

 

“Are you awake?” Seokjin said quietly. “I brought ginger tea.”

 

“I’ll drink it later,” Jungkook mumbled, not wanting to face Jin just yet.

 

There was a slap, and Jungkook jolted up abruptly. “What the hell, why is everyone slapping my butt today?!”

 

“Because you like it,” Seokjin retorted easily, holding out the tea again. “Now drink.”

 

“I’m not sick.”

 

“You might be becoming sick, though,” Seokjin argued simply. “Drink.”

 

Jungkook took the cup reluctantly, his nose wrinkling at the bitter taste. The cloudy sand-colored liquid had a slightly grainy texture with a burning sort of aftertaste, but he had to admit it felt somehow soothing on his throat, filling him with warmth. Seokjin stood quietly on the ladder, patiently waiting for Jungkook to finish the cup.

 

“Where’s everybody else?” Jungkook queried.

 

“Kiara and Yoongi are at the Main Hall, the others went out on a hunt together.”

 

Jungkook handed the emptied cup back to him with a quiet thanks. He was surprised when, instead of just taking the cup back, Seokjin encased Jungkook’s hands with his own; long, crooked fingers with callouses on the ends. Jungkook looked at their joined hands for a moment, his face and neck flushing at the contact that felt much more purposeful and intimate than any Jin had ever initiated before. When he looked up at Seokjin, the Alpha was still staring at their hands, an unreadable expression on his face.

 

“Seokjin?” Jungkook breathed. His heart was thudding in his chest, his mind reeling with concern. Had something happened with Hoseok, or the others?

 

Seokjin let out a long, low sigh, his broad shoulders allowed a rare moment to slump in weakness.

 

“Jungkook, did I do something wrong?”

Jungkook felt like his skin rose in goosebumps even as his stomach sank through the floor, all from a single, simple question. “W-what?”

 

“Did I… say something? Do something? Because if so, I didn’t mean to. I try to be careful, but…” Seokjin’s thumb lifted, bending back to rub gently along the skin at the back of Jungkook’s hand. Jungkook’s entire body instantly reacted, his stomach flipping as Seokjin’s touch felt like the most amazing thing on the planet. Jungkook wanted to pull away, scared of how powerful the effect was, but he found himself incapable.

 

“But I’m actually very selfish,” Seokjin finished, the word whispered like a dark, twisted confession.

 

Jungkook stared for a moment, trying to figure out what Seokjin meant. What was there to be selfish about? He knew that they had been getting closer up until the first hunt, but he couldn’t think of anything especially that--

 

Suddenly Seokjin was leaning forward, pressing in against Jungkook’s shoulder, inhaling Jungkook’s scent deeply. The skin there tingled in delight, and he felt as though every nerve in his body rose up at attention to meet him, his eyes rolling into the back of his head and his jaw tilting back, shamelessly baring his neck to Seokjin’s continued attack.

 

‘Attack’ was not quite the right word, but it was the only one Jungkook was able to use to express the way his whole body felt flipped inside out, his mouth open, gasping as his groin started to scream with need. It only got worse when Seokjin’s cheek pressed against the soft skin below Jungkook’s jaw, and he inhaled sharply, his hand coming up against Seokjin’s shoulder, his fingers digging into skin before he could stop himself.

 

Shit.

 

Seokjin was pressing in further, until Jungkook was pushed back against his backpack, Seokjin crawling up onto the bed and over Jungkook as though to lie on top of him, his nose still buried deep into Jungkook’s scent mark, almost abusing it the way he rubbed his own scent into Jungkook’s. When his mouth pressed to it, his lips parting and mouthing there, Jungkook keened, a light whimper escaping him as involuntarily his hips jutted upwards, clumsily knocking against Seokjin’s stomach.

 

“S-Seo...Jin…” Jungkook managed, as Seokjin started to suckle his mark, his tongue brushing up against it delicately and making Jungkook cry out.

 

But then, for a moment the world stopped spinning, and he remembered himself. He looked down and saw Seokjin, rosy-cheeked and swollen mouth suckling, his brown hair brushing against Jungkook’s skin, one shoulder curving sensually as he bent even lower into Jungkook, pulling aside the collar of his T-shirt to access more skin. Through the beauty he was seeing, the fireworks he was feeling, Jungkook panicked. He remembered the dream and the actions that followed and as much as his head screamed and his body ached to Scent Seokjin back, he found himself gasping.

 

“S-stop!”

 

His hands pushed at Seokjin’s chest with a surprising limpness to them. But the moment Jungkook had spoke, the Alpha froze, drawing himself back. They were both panting, Jungkook’s sweat glistening on his skin, his chest heaving up and down. Seokjin’s face was flushed, and Jungkook noticed his eyes were traced in a red he had never seen before, a deep reddish-orange flecked color that was like flames.  But it quickly faded, reminding him of the way water turned fire into murky ash, as the Alpha’s eyes filled with tears.

 

“I’m...I’m...sorry, Jungkook. I shouldn’t have done that. Jungkook, I’m sorry.” Seokjin was choking on his sobs, trying desperately to swallow them down. “I really did come to apologize, I didn’t come to do that, really. Fuck. It’s just that you...you’re so …” Seokjin buried his face in his hands, pressing so hard into his eyelids that it looked painful. He let out a frustrated cry, and in a flash clambered down off the bed, snatching the cup up and abandoning a stunned Jungkook, alternating between swearing under his breath and apologizing profusely.

 

“Jin, wait, I--”

 

“No, please,” Seokjin’s voice cracked, and he was already headed to the door. “Shit. Shit. Please, don’t say anything right now. I’m sorry.”

 

“Seokjin!” he sat up, hand reaching out uselessly, as if he could stop the Alpha with a gesture.

 

The door slammed, and then a pause, silence starting to drift in with little steps. Suddenly from outside Seokjin let out a scream of frustration so loud, so unbridled it made Jungkook leap nearly a foot in the air, his blood seeming to curdle and every nerve on edge, making the sound painful and cutting into the throbbing of his new headache. Jungkook lay back onto the bed, surprised by how exhausted he suddenly felt. He could barely breathe, and he realized after a moment that he was shaking like a leaf.

 

Yet the only thing revolving in his mind, the thing he couldn’t stop asking, was:

 

‘Why did I tell him to stop?’

 

And to his dismay, he didn’t have any very good answers. Jungkook pulled the curtain over his bed with a clatter, turning out his light and curling up in the blue glow of twilight spilling in through the window.

 

~~~~~

 

0 DAYS

 

~~~~~

 

It was dark when Jungkook woke up again, and he slowly pulled aside the curtain to see Seokjin’s bed was empty and unused. Hoseok was lying in the bed below it, his mouth hanging open and one leg sticking entirely out from under the blanket, despite the chilly bite in the air that the floor heater couldn’t quite take the edge off of. Jungkook sat up, a strange sort of calm encompassing him. Perhaps it was because Seokjin’s scent in the room had faded, or the cool quiet of the snowy night, but Jungkook felt almost numb, removed from himself. He crawled off the bunk as quietly as possible, grabbing clothes and blindly getting bundled up. There was a bit of a snoring sound, and Jungkook turned to see Jimin shifting on the bottom bunk in his sleep, an arm wrapped around a sleeping Taehyung curled against him. Jungkook pulled his jacket on and slipped outside, careful to shut the door quietly behind him.

 

It was around one in the morning, and snow was lightly drifting downwards in a sluggish sort of aimlessness, the moon reflecting off its surface and giving everything a soft blue-ish glow. The snow that had already fallen crunched beneath his feet, a sound loud and abrasive in the uncanny stillness.

 

When he got to the Main Hall, he was surprised to see a fire in the hearth still, a thick pile of wood turned black, gray and white all entangled in flames of sunset oranges and yellows. Jungkook went to the cupboard to search for food, spotting an empty bowl on the island with a note tucked beneath, a handwritten scrawl reading Jungkook’s dinner in microwave . He smiled, going to open the microwave just as he heard a groan from somewhere in the room. Jungkook jumped, turning around so fast he hit his fingers against the microwave door, making him hiss at the sting of pain. He looked up and saw a figure was lying on the far couch, a small blanket draped over him, socked feet poking out of the bottom because he was too tall. A large backpack lay at the side of the couch, half unzipped with a pair of blue-jeans draped across it. Jungkook, even without being able to see his face in the dim light of the fire, knew that it was Seokjin. His presence, now acknowledged, was both a comfort and an uneasiness. Jungkook decided to eat his soup cold, the taste and texture thick in his mouth as he sat on the couch across from Seokjin, his knees drawn up to his chest. Part of him wondered if Seokjin would wake up, and he couldn't help but imagine a scenario where Seokjin would calmly talk everything out with him, and then it would all be back to normal. He heard Taehyung’s voice echoing in his head. ‘Seokjin hides his feelings all the time.’ He didn’t expect a habit like that to change in Seokjin so easily, when he himself still slept under a dining room table half the time.

 

The only revelation he could currently come to, the only clean fact that had been conveyed (as far as he could figure) was that far from hating him, Seokjin was trying to fight against a desire to get closer to Jungkook. Whatever that desire was built on, Jungkook wasn’t sure. Was it instinct as an Alpha? Was it protectiveness as the eldest member of the pack? Only Seokjin could say for certain. But Jungkook knew now that Seokjin must not hate him. And after the way Seokjin had Scented him earlier, and from what he had found the other day in Seokjin’s room, Jungkook was now of the mind that he hadn’t been the only one that had been missing their Scenting desperately.  He sighed, setting his bowl on the coffee table. The headache from earlier that had gotten worse steadily, thrumming painfully in his skull and making even his eyes feel hot. Jungkook raised one hand and placed it gently over his Scent mark, the skin there still feeling swollen and hot to the touch, inflamed from earlier. He now had a sneaking suspicion that his headache would immediately alleviate if he were just to go over and Scent Seokjin back. But could he stop himself there? Would Seokjin come to really hate him if he knew what Jungkook had done? Or would he smile in relief and say, “Ah, is that all?”

 

He figured this last option was highly unlikely.

 

Jungkook wasn’t often very sure of himself. He knew the things he knew and the things he didn’t, and he had learned a lot while living in the pack house. But knowing the world around you and knowing yourself were two very different things - not to mention knowing what you wanted. And yet in that moment, the one thing Jungkook wanted was to wake Seokjin up and tell him to Scent him again, and to keep going this time.

 

Jungkook didn’t think he was ready to tell Seokjin that, though. There was something he wanted to check, just to be sure. Jungkook stood up quietly, sliding over to kneel next to Seokjin’s backpack, and he started digging through it. He needed something strong, like that sweaty T-shirt Seokjin had had tucked into his pillowcase. Jungkook had been very sheltered and naive, he knew, but he wasn’t stupid. Seokjin shifted again on the couch, starting to mumble again in his sleep. “Forget mind green stage fall.” The words were quite clear but their meaning severely convoluted. Jungkook paused, his hand deep in Seokjin’s backpack, praying the Alpha wouldn’t wake up and catch him red-handed.

 

Eventually, he pulled out a plastic bag with Seokjin’s dirty laundry wadded up inside of it. He hesitated a moment, debating on taking the lesser of two evils - the socks - instead of the black boxers with the white band. But Jungkook didn’t like to half-ass things. He bunched up the underwear and shoved it deep into his pockets, getting up to leave. Halfway standing up, he paused, then retrieved one of the less torn-up spare sleeping bags, draping it over the sleeping Alpha.

 

“Mmmm,” Seokjin murmured, his head lolling to the other side as he curled up into the back of the couch like it was someone warm. “Carpet butter vicious.”

 

Jungkook smiled, tucking the sleeping bag in a bit so it didn’t slip off too easily, before shrugging his jacket until he was huddled up in it better. He had just placed his hands on the cold metallic surface of the doorknob when Seokjin spoke once again in his sleep, this time almost panting out the phrase like he was a pup again himself, chasing after in play.

 

“JK! Hey, JK!”

 

At that, Jungkook looked over his shoulder, his eyes softening. It was something he had called out a hundred times - maybe even thousands - and it made Jungkook chuckle before he stepped out into the snow.

 

The night was freezing, but Jungkook wasn’t even shivering. His feet felt numb in his boots but the rest of him felt quickly warmed by the heavy jacket that he wore. The eldest wolves had all bickered for hours about the matching jackets, trying to find the best outerwear for their pack to wear for their winter hunt, relentless even though they were shopping online in the middle of August for it. The snow was falling even heavier, until it started to accumulate in Jungkook’s hair and clung to his eyelashes, making him blink a little harder to dislodge the weightless flakes. He had been walking for probably an hour, and slowly. But he felt tired, attributing it to the extra effort it took to walk in the deepening snow. Jungkook sniffed at the air, noting that he could no longer smell the camp, or Namjoon’s scent marker, and his tracks were getting buried deeper by the minute, the boot marks just behind him already softened and rounded by a fresh covering.

 

Feeling as though he’d gone far enough, Jungkook leaned against a nearby tree, allowing himself to slide down it until he was seated. He sighed, tilting his head back to look up into the naked, dark boughs of the oak tree he was sitting beneath, the sky still eerily aglow from the moonlight. Jungkook tapped the back of his head against the bark of the tree, feeling bits crumbling off and falling down the back of his shirt, making his neck and shoulders itch until he wriggled around again.  

 

He hadn’t been alone in the woods for a long time, not since before he had moved into the pack house, and that was four years ago. It was weird to think that it had been that long, yet it also felt as though this new life he had stumbled across was all still new and challenging. From the very first moment, up until this night, and probably many nights after, he would never understand how Namjoon had just known , what had compelled him to take the small, gangly, wide-eyed wolf stray under his wing. Just a few minutes of talking to him, of looking into his face, and Namjoon had understood. It wasn’t until almost a month in that Namjoon really started asking any questions, like “How long have you been living in that public park, Jungkookie?”

 

At that time, Jungkook had been too scared to tell him the truth, so he had simply told him it had been one year. He tried not to make it obvious that the truth was, before that year in that public park it had been other parks, under bridges, in alleyways, curled up under tables at street bars to escape the rain, moving quietly to escape notice and stay out of everyone’s way. He had lived most of that time in wolf form, making it easier for his sensitive nose to pick up on the smell of food and finding it easier to stay on alert as an animal, rather than a scrawny young boy. The only thing that 14 year old Jungkook had known then was that he didn’t want to go back to the pound. That he would rather die. Even a scraggly, barren, scary public park had been much more welcoming, much freer. It had felt like heaven, back then.

 

It wasn’t until several months later, when gentle Jimin had come with his soft voice and gentle smile, that he had told them about the pound, begging them not to take him back there, to please let him stay.

 

“Don’t be stupid,” Yoongi said, his tone almost berating but rounded out at the edges, pillowed and swollen from realizations. “You’re in our pack now, you don’t belong there, and you never will again.”

 

Jungkook sighed, looking down at his hands as they dangled over his knees, feeling stiffer as the cold soaked into them, feeling like a thousand tiny hands grabbing hold of his skin and pressing in until he couldn’t feel his fingertips. He exhaled hot air onto them, then reached into his pocket, pulling out the wadded material of the underwear there. The instant it left his pocket, he could smell the edges of Seokjin’s Alpha scent, pungent and tickling at the edges of his senses in eager anticipation. He could already feel the hand clutching the material start to feel clammy.

 

He didn’t know what it was like to be born into a pack. He didn’t know what it was like to learn about mating gradually, naturally, alongside your parents and siblings.

 

He wasn’t sure what the difference was between admiring the way Namjoon looked with his reading glasses fogged up as he drank coffee and read, and the way Seokjin looked as he stood in the front lawn on a warm autumn evening, answering a phone call with one hand plucking at the needles of the pine tree in the front yard. He didn’t know what the difference was between the way Jimin had rubbed his thumb along the side of his hand earlier that day, and the way Seokjin had done the same thing not long after. But he knew they were different. He knew on some emotional level, he loved Seokjin. That, he had worked out somewhere between learning about the Seokjin that could sit quietly for hours and read medical journals, his free hand running absently through Jungkook’s hair without him even realizing it, and the Seokjin that yipped with endearing laughter, the one that screeched at television dramas and danced stupidly, making fun of everything and anything until he could make Jungkook laugh.

 

He knew that at least in some way, he loved Seokjin.

 

But in what way, in what inner instinct so ingrained into his psyche that it manifested in physical form, did he want Seokjin?

 

Here goes nothing.

 

Jungkook sighed, raising the black material to his nose and pressing into it, inhaling as deeply as he dared. He expected himself to cough or his breath to stumble over an overwhelmingly gross dirty-laundry smell, but instead there was only Seokjin’s elegant Alpha scent. It filled up his lungs, and he felt himself trembling, like a muscle spasm but all over. Jungkook leaned his head back, inhaling again as his eyes rolled into the back of his head, his breath shaky all of a sudden. He allowed a low rumble to escape, thrumming deep in his throat before the chilly air swallowed the sound. Jungkook knew out here no one would be able to smell him or hear him. It was only a matter of minutes before he felt his groin warming, began to smell his own arousal drifting up from where he was pulling back the waistband of his sweat pants and slipping his hand inside to grab his erection. After being deprived of the comfort, the smell, the familiarity for months now, he was becoming quickly overwhelmed, surprising himself with the reckless abandon with which he was now pumping at his own cock.

 

The only sound on the night air was his own pants, the slight squelching sound against his hand, and the deep sniffs he gave to the underwear. He felt lewd, he felt cold and hot at the same time, he felt lost and simultaneously so grounded, so ready and hungry. His stomach lurched, and then…

 

Something snapped. Jungkook gasped, his neck convulsing a bit and making him look upwards, jaw dropped and eyes wide, before he felt the little trickle of wetness. At first, he thought that he had just came, but that wasn’t it. This was... different . It felt scarier, like a first ride on a roller coaster, like a first kiss. Jungkook found his hand going limp against his cock, even as he let out a long, low moan that he hadn’t expected. It echoed around the trees, sounding almost feral in the stillness of the night. His whole body was trembling and twitching violently in slow, deep waves, and he started rocking back and forth as he couldn’t hold still. His head spun, and his mouth felt dry from panting. Every nerve was screaming, pulsing, waving. His heart was thudding in his ears and his senses felt heightened, but only selectively so. He could only focus on the texture of the underwear pressed to his cheek, or the sight of the snow that had started to accumulate on his knees like miniscule flecks of paint, or the throbbing of a place deep inside him, that he hadn’t expected. He was about to slow, to catch his breath, when he accidentally took another inhale, catching Seokjin’s scent again. Like a trigger being pulled, he was shot back to the image of Seokjin from his dream, the domineering, powerful one that had pinned him down and spoke of making it feel good.

 

There was another wave, like the first one, and this time, instead of a trickle of wetness, there was a hot, watery release, and Jungkook whimpered. He let go of his cock, slipping his hand past his balls and deeper, further back, and he found a scary amount of sticky wetness there, as though a full cup of whatever-it-was had just been dumped unceremoniously into his pants. It smelled thick and almost yeast-like, and the strong scent stung at his senses, making his breath stop short. He started to shiver, feeling cold and hot at the same time, and he realized he was now covered in a thick layer of sweat. Jungkook removed his hand from his pants, holding the wetness centimeters from his face as he blinked dumbfoundedly at it, gently prying his fingers apart to watch the way the liquid strung across.

 

“H-holy fuck,” Jungkook breathed.

 

That was how, alone in the middle of a snowy wood at 2 in the morning on the first day of the new year, Jungkook discovered he was an Omega.

Chapter Text

“Sometimes the course of our lives depends on what we do or don't do in a few seconds, a heartbeat, when we either seize the opportunity, or just miss it. Miss the moment and you never get a chance again..”

― Aidan Chambers

 


 

 

“Seokjin? Seokjin, wake up,” Namjoon shook the eldest, who jolted up with a start. The Main Hall was dark and cold now, the fire dying out while Seokjin had been asleep. The cold grayish blue light in the sky signaling that the sun was preparing to rise shone into the room, illuminating the look of concern drawn tensely across Namjoon’s face. The scent of ashes and smoke was thick in the air.

 

“What happened?” Seokjin mumbled, his eyes still squeezed shut from sleep and his face feeling puffy and numb, but he was trying to force himself into a state of alert.

 

“Have you seen Jungkook lately?”

 

“W-what?”

 

“Jungkook is missing. We can’t find him.”

 

Seokjin pulled himself into a sitting position, nearly slamming against the lead Alpha’s head. “What?!” he snapped, his voice unnaturally loud and crackling.

 

“Hoseok got up to go the bathroom about an hour ago and noticed he wasn’t in his bunk. His jacket and boots are gone, there’s no sign of him. He came and woke us up because he was worried. Kiara’s waking up the others now, we need to send out a search party. I’ll leave a couple people here just in case he comes back, but most of us will go out and spread over as much of the woods as we can cover. It’s too cold to wait any longer.”

 

“I’m going,” Seokjin stated, and it was very obviously not a question. It was a little too direct perhaps, a little too aggressive to say to a lead Alpha, but Namjoon just nodded.

 

“Of course, that’s what I figured,” Namjoon patted him on the shoulder, rising and tugging his hoodie up over his head. “We leave in five minutes.”

 

Seokjin reached over hurriedly to his backpack, grabbing his jeans and tugging them on before standing up. He was about to go to the door to retrieve his jacket, when he noticed an empty bowl sitting on the coffee table, the spoon laid next to it and still dotted with bits of leftover soup that had long-since dried. He looked at it for a moment curiously, his brow crinkling. A sick feeling was sinking into the pit of his stomach. Seokjin abandoned the bowl, shaking his head and rushing out the door to follow Namjoon.

 

It was still snowing quite heavily, and Seokjin pulled his hoodie up onto his head as Namjoon had done, looking around at the white-covered world that was slowly lightening with the oncoming day. How long had he been missing? Why had he gone out and not told anyone? Why hadn’t he come back?

 

Was it all my fault again?

 

“Kiara and Hoseok are staying here, I need at least one Alpha and one Omega at the Main Hall in case something happens.” Namjoon was surrounded by the younger wolves already, so Seokjin hurried up to join the circle. Everyone was huddled, expressions worried and the white puffs of their breaths mingling together in the middle. Taehyung was clutching onto Jimin’s sleeve, his eyes looking watery, and Hoseok looked pale and sickly, his face morphing into one nearly unrecognizable to Seokjin.

 

“Normally, I wouldn’t have us split up like this, but time is of the essence. We’re going to spread out but try to keep a connecting chain. I don’t want you running anywhere that’s too far that you can’t smell one of the other pack members, you hear me? No exceptions . The moment anyone finds him, I want you to send up a call, and stay there with him until at least two other wolves come. If he’s hurt, do what you can.” He paused, his words having come out in a rushed, breathless voice that gave away the Alpha’s bubbling nervousness. “This is serious, guys. Don’t do anything stupid. If there’s no luck we meet back here in two hours. That’s one hour out, one hour back. No excuses. Putting yourself at risk won’t help us find him any easier. Okay?”

 

He looked at each of them in turn as they nodded, his expression hard and somehow more aged than it had been a few months ago, when Seokjin had arrived in the pack house. When Namjoon looked his way, he hesitated a little longer, his gaze meeting Seokjin’s with purpose.

 

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Namjoon repeated.

 

Seokjin pressed his lips together, but nodded, his head hung a little lower as he stared at their boots in the snow. Please, let’s just go !

 

“Jimin, you take the side along the beach. You’ll be able to distinguish more over the salty smell. I’ll go in the woods alongside the beach, then it’ll fan out like…” Namjoon gestured the directions as he assigned everyone a place, so they knew who the closest wolves on either side of them were. Finally he waved his arm, and they set out, shifting as they raced off into the designated areas. Seokjin raced off into the deeper part of the woods, leaping over brush and brook alike, his panting heavy in his ears as he sniffed at the air, trying to catch that smell of salt and leather.

 

The tearing sensation against his lungs and chest as he continued to run, limbs screaming, was a welcome one. It woke him up and distracted him from the other tightness in his chest, the one that kept telling him that this was because he Scented Jungkook last night. He’d crossed a line. He kept continuing to cross lines that he wasn’t supposed to. He had once prided himself on his self-control, his ability to present to others only what he chose. But Jeong Jungkook had thrown all of that out the window.

 

He had honestly gone last night to find out what it was that had happened to make Jungkook so distant, to make him clam up again like they hadn’t made any progress in their delicate dance of getting to know each other since August. Both of them had an awkward tendency to be quieter, more withdrawn. A sneakier, more manipulative side of him had thought that if Jungkook was coming down with a cold, he could have been more loose-tongued, a little needier and more likely to open up. He hadn’t banked on the fact that half-asleep, soft-faced and slightly flushed Jungkook was very endearing, or that his smell always got stronger when he had been asleep, or on the fact that he had been harboring a migraine all day long and he knew that it was too easy to lean forward and just take what he wanted. Jungkook’s teeth, with their extra outward curve that made his lips part delicately, had caught his attention. The way the cabin light reflected off the droplets of liquid clinging to his lips was distracting. The freckle beneath the impossibly pink mouth had been too tempting. The smell of leather, the slight clamminess of the boy’s skin had been too intoxicating.

 

Maybe he was just a weaker man than he thought he was.

 

It was natural for Jungkook to react the way he had, with shock and probably disgust. Especially after finding the T-shirt in his pillowcase the day before, there was no way Jungkook wouldn’t catch on to him now, wouldn’t realize that Seokjin was in love with him, trying his best not to be obsessed with him.

 

Seokjin’s chest ached. But that was nothing new.




~~~~~



Jungkook was burning.

 

Not literally, of course, but he might as well have been. Covered in a pool of sweat, he was now sitting in mud made from the melted snow beneath him, as well as his own slick. It just wouldn’t stop . He had been aroused for hours, his body gushing out more of the natural lubricant every few minutes with no sign of relief. Nothing helped. He had planned on being back to the cabin, showered and his activities untraceable, before anyone woke up. Now he physically couldn’t even stand , much less make the long trek home through the snow.

 

Jungkook whimpered, shifting his leg a little as his body quivered, that deep slit inside of him aching and itching, begging to be satisfied. He felt gross and slimy, and he knew his body temperature was actually lower than it felt, due to the snow around him, but he couldn’t bear to keep his jacket on. It lay uselessly on the ground next to him in pitiful abandon as he shivered and whined. He had frantically tried to come for the first hour, hoping the throbbing and aching would let up, but nothing seemed to help. If anything, he only made it worse, because now his body had dispelled so much liquid he felt shriveled up inside, his mouth dry and his throat rough from gasping and moaning helplessly into the night. Why had he snuck out? Why had he gone so far? Why did he get himself into this kind of shit? While his body felt so dragged and worn to exhaustion, his mind had fought on a lot longer, trying to use his anger to fuel some energy into his limbs.

 

Eventually, though, he had given up. His mind was now numb like the tips of his fingers as he clutched at the mussed snow around him, lifting a handful to his mouth and relieved at the cool wetness as it melted against his tongue. He could taste a bit of bitterness to it, probably from the palm of his hand, and he wanted to gag. He weakly brought his wrist up to wipe at the sweat accumulating on his brow, his vision blurry, his lips chapped. He whimpered. The world was spinning and he wondered if he was finally close to passing out, to slip into sweet relief. Anything sounded better than the ache in his gut.

 

He moved to bring another handful of snow to his mouth and missed entirely, the powder-like snow crumbling softly against his cheek, slipping into his shirt and soaking the material there afresh with chill. Then, he heard something. It wasn’t the rushing, pounding that had been in his ears since he had first Scented, it was a crunching noise of paw to snow, a low snarl. Jungkook looked up, his eyes crossed and his eyelids feeling so, so heavy. There was a wolf there, standing a few yards away from him and sniffing the air.

 

“S...Jin…” Jungkook mewled, one hand reaching out to the blurry image of the wolf, his fingertips aching to touch and be touched, for some comfort and relief. He wondered if this was a hallucination. If it was, why couldn’t he hallucinate less pain in his ass?

 

The wolf moved closer as Jungkook blinked sleepily, his breath now in weary, ragged gasps. Then, a smell hit him, an Alpha scent. But it wasn’t Seokjin. It was some strange smell, a sort of biting sweet scent, like honeysuckle. A warm smell to accompany high summer. It contrasted strangely with the winter sensations around him, but Jungkook was just way too tired to think about that now. He fell back against his tree again, the skin at the back of his neck now scraped and bleeding a little from the abrasiveness of the bark. The wolf in front of him looked dark-furred, eyes glowing red as it slowly walked towards him. Some part of Jungkook’s brain protested, strong but too distant to be much use, that this wasn’t Seokjin. This wasn’t his Alpha. That’s not mine.

 

There was a snuffling noise, then the figure in front of him changed, a smooth transition that he almost missed with the lazy blink of an eye. The man was suddenly barebacked and crouched in front of him, tilting his chin to the side in curiosity. Jungkook tried to squeeze his eyes shut and open them again with a deliberation meant to clear his vision, and he got his first clear look at the man’s face. He was beautiful, his skin unbelievably pale and a silver earring dangling from his right ear. His eyes were dark and intense, thick eyebrow pressed together and his lips in a frown. The skin of his chest and shoulders were positively covered in black tattoos, scripted markings across his heart and an elaborate sun drawn like the drip of ink on the other side. The man turned slightly, his hand shuffling around Jungkook’s jacket as though looking for something, and Jungkook saw that on his back were tattooed two black shapes that reminded him of wings, a strip of text down the middle of his back like a spine created of words. The muscles of his body were thin, but impressive, rippling with each movement, his upper arms thicker than Jungkook’s thighs, and each movement smooth and powerful.

 

In all honesty, his beauty and aura reminded him so much of Seokjin, it hurt. He hadn’t even spoken but the intense way that he stared up at Jungkook through loose reddish-brown bangs told him in no uncertain terms that here, right now, was a man who was Seokjin’s equal. Jungkook shuddered, and the man seemed to sniff distastefully.

 

“Well, you’re in a real pickle, aren’t you, little Omega?” the man whispered. His voice was light but it had a sort of breathy huskiness to it, like the air as it came out from between his lips was measured a little differently than most people. He placed two curled fingers with painted black fingernails underneath Jungkook’s chin and lifted it gently, and Jungkook whimpered loudly, his skin feeling like it was being slowly peeled away and towards his middle. The man laughed, and Jungkook’s heart stopped. His laugh was warm and pleasant, even though Jungkook was slowly starting to feel the danger of the situation sinking in, as the fingertips against his skin started to feel electrified and stimulated, like it was waiting for this.

 

“Did your pack abandon you out here in the snow? In the middle of your heat?” The man’s voice was taking on a smooth, sultry tone, and he leaned in closer, the fingertips becoming fingers which became an entire palm that cupped his jaw. “That’s awfully cruel of them, you know.”

 

“Jae? What the--?!” came a voice from behind, and the tattooed man looked over his shoulder. Jungkook raised his eyes to see the additional newcomer, and was surprised to see the man had a very feminine looking face, with long, slightly wavy brown hair that brushed his shoulders, a delicate chin that came to a point and soft, pink lips.

 

“Sukkie, look what I found?” the tattooed man named Jae smirked, lifting Jungkook’s head a little higher, making him inhale sharply. “He’s all alone.”

 

“Wow, he smells so strong . What is that, leather?”

 

“And saltwater. It’s really pretty-smelling, isn’t it? He almost smells like a Noble.” Jae ran a hand through the greasy clumps of Jungkook’s bangs, and Jungkook caught another strong wave of the man’s Alpha scent, the sweetness burning at his nostrils. He was staring into Jungkook’s eyes so intently, as though debating something. Jungkook shifted uncomfortably and Jae’s eyes suddenly flashed red, and the hand in his hair clenched down, grabbing hold of Jungkook’s hair but not pulling it just yet.

 

“God, you’re just completely soaked in it, aren’t you? What is this, your first heat?” Jae hissed, breathing through his mouth now. He paused, his breath coming a little more labored as he considered. He saw the glazed look on Jungkook’s face, watched the streaks of tears that were quietly trickling down his cheeks. “Wow… it is, isn’t it? A pretty Unmated Omega in the middle of the woods on his first heat. That’s awful...” He smiled softly, “Don’t worry, we can take care of you.”

 

“Uh, Jae, I don’t think--” the man behind him called out, stepping forward and fiddling with the sleeves of his jacket nervously.

 

“Sukkie knows I don’t care much for Omegas,” Jae told Jungkook in a whisper intended to be soothing, and for all the world, it was. “But I know how it feels to be frustrated and abandoned, and honestly, you look so pitiable…” He ran his knuckles against Jungkook’s jaw, and the boy let out a little sigh, wishing he could drown in the sound of the man’s voice. It took him a long moment to realize that that was on purpose - Jae was using his Alpha voice to soothe Jungkook, to force his tense muscles to relax. Whether or not that was a good thing, Jungkook’s brain still wasn’t sure. His nerves were too busy to take a vote.

 

“Jae, Jae listen, doesn’t he smell almost like a Jeon?” Sukkie crept up behind Jae, laying his hand on the man’s shoulder and staring down at the pitiful sweaty pile that was Jungkook.

 

Jae smiled. “Wow, you’re right, he kind of does. Do you hear that, pup? You may be royalty. If you are a Jeon, it might please you to know you can meet your brother soon.” Over his shoulder, he said to his companion, “Let me Scent him and we’ll get him out of here. The Scenting should calm him down long enough for him to relax for a bit.” Jae leaned forward, ignoring the way Jungkook started shivering, one hand weakly raising as if to push him away. But all he could manage was to limply place his hand against Jae’s chest. The Alpha leaned in, inhaling deeply, and Jungkook tried to mentally prepare himself for the Scenting, as much as it made his skin crawl. But then, Jae hissed, a growl escaping him as he leapt back as though Jungkook were on fire.

 

“What is it?” Sukkie asked, looking wide-eyed at the Alpha.

 

Jae’s eyes flashed a deep, glowing crimson. Jungkook could only whimper, not understanding what he’d done wrong, why Jae had stopped, why everything was feeling warm again as he slowly became more and more willing to do anything to make the world stop spinning. Jae’s next words were, ironically, the last words Jungkook expected, and the first ones he had wanted to hear, although not in their current context and tone, spat out like a vile taste.

 

“Kim Seokjin.”

 

~~~~~



“Hoseok?” Kiara said quietly, following behind the Alpha, their arms loaded with wood. The weight in her arms was welcome, in all honesty, as was the smell of the smoke from the fire as they unloaded. She had loved the smell of smoke since childhood, but it was also like Namjoon’s scent, which made it not only familiar but comforting and safe. The sound of the wood thunking against the black metal grate they used as a woodpile was a pleasant one, even though the atmosphere was still tense and ringing with unspoken fears. “Have you and Yoongi…? I mean… Are you two still?”

 

The man gave a sad smile, shrugging his shoulders. “He’s still angry at me, and to be honest, I can’t even blame him. I deserve this.”

“Hoseok… You didn’t mean it, and I’m sure Yoongi knows that.” Kiara laid a hand on his shoulder, her soft Omega scent reaching out as if to embrace him in a comforting hug.


“Yeah, but I broke his trust. No one knows as much as me how sensitive Yoongi is about Alpha dominance, and I just…. I just spit it out without thinking.”

 

“Well, to be fair, you had a valid point. You were threatened by a new Beta, and Taehyung did cross a line,” she said. Her voice was gentle and diplomatic, as though reassuring a mourning friend. “But you should know, Taehyung’s not like that. I really don’t think he’s the type to Claim someone he already knows is chosen as a mate. The Kim men are all kind of like that. Loyal to a fault, and the first ones to sacrifice their own happiness for their mate.”

 

Hoseok nodded, his bottom lip protruding. After a moment, he glanced around, as if double-checking that they were alone, and then he turned back to Kiara and said more quietly, “Did Namjoon tell you who he chose?”

 

Kiara smiled, her eyes sparkling with amusement as she patted Hoseok’s cheek. “Even if he had, as his mate, I wouldn’t tell you without his permission, Hoseok. I trust Namjoon’s decisions. But I will tell you, you don’t have to worry.”

 

“I’ll worry anyways,” Hoseok sighed, and they went out for another load of wood, the snow now falling a lot gentler than before. “The only other Unclaimed wolves in our pack are Jimin, Jungkook and Seokjin. One of them is his brother and the other two… the other two are like my pups.”

 

“They’re like our pups,” Kiara corrected, a slight note of playful possessiveness to her voice.

 

He held the door for her as she stepped into the lean-to where the wood had been left sheltered from the snow, a dark shed that smelled of moss and wood chips. She loaded up his arms first, his gloved fingertips brushing bits of sawdust.

 

“Fair enough, our pups. But you know what I mean. I’ve known them longer than Taehyung or Seokjin. I still don’t understand them quite yet, to be honest. But I think Taehyung is a good kid, he’s just… brash.”

 

Kiara nodded. “Either way, Taehyung is young but he’s not stupid. He doesn’t want Yoongi, so you two should talk and make up. You’re supposed to be officiated tonight, anyways.”

 

Hoseok let out a dark sort of chuckle, shaking his head. “Even if Yoongi were to forgive me, with all that’s going on right now, I don’t see that happening.”

 

“Well, let’s focus on the current situation, then deal with that later. I’m sure Namjoon can figure something out.”

 

They went back into the house, dropping the last load of wood next to the fire. Hoseok brushed the wood chips off his belly and went to stare out at the snow, seeing that the boys’ tracks had already disappeared from just an hour ago. “I really hope they can find him... Why would he have just run off like that?”

“I don’t know,” Kiara sighed, her brow crinkling. “Maybe he panicked after all the stress?”

“No, Jungkook is the type to internalize and pretend like it’s all okay, for our sakes.” Hoseok crossed his arms. “He hates being a bother, so he’s going to feel terrible for adding to the pile right now.” They fell to silence for a few moments, and Hoseok decided that he very much hated waiting periods in life. The uncertainties that had enshrouded their pack, the unspoken worries, the threats looming on the horizon.

 

Kiara sighed yet again, sitting on the couch and hugging her arms to herself. Hoseok looked over at her, arching an eyebrow.

 

“I’m surprised Namjoon didn’t send you out with the rest of the search party, actually,” Hoseok said, his tone forcedly light as he tried to lighten the atmosphere. “You’re our best nose, after all.”

 

At that, Kiara seemed to flush a little, looking down at her knees and smiling. She touched her knuckle to her lips, as if to suppress the giveaway expression, then looked up at him through thick eyelashes. The warm crackling of the fire seemed to make her face seem a little more flushed than usual, a little more girlish. She toyed with the ends of her sleeves, nibbling a bit on the frayed ends.  “Actually, he knows I shouldn’t be exerting myself right now. I would probably be fine, but, Namjoon is a worrier.”

 

“Wait, what? Are you sick?” Hoseok instantly moved in, sitting next to her on the couch and looking her over with more care, looking for signs of fever, or anything. “What’s wrong?”

Kiara giggled, and played with her hair, one arm resting gently across her lap. “Actually, we were going to announce this after your Mating with Yoongi, but… I think in light of the circumstances we could use a little good news, right?”

 

“What is it?!”

 

She reached out and took Hoseok’s hands in hers, smiling with that warm, tender smile she gave all the wolves of the pack.

 

“Hoseok, I’m pregnant.”

 

~~~~~

 

Taehyung’s breath ran ragged as he leapt over a pile of brush, bits of the branches whipping out as if trying to catch hold of him. He needed to find Jungkook. The tell-tale seawater scent was so distinctive usually, but it was harder on the little island, where they were surrounded on all sides by the sea, so he would have to try to pinpoint the smell of leather.

 

He was running for almost an hour, and he sped up, worried that he would have to head back before he could find anything. Something in him just seemed to know that none of the others had found him, a feeling in his gut as well as the fact that he hadn’t heard a howl or a yip in the distance. His ear twitched, checking for the millionth time as he rushed around a particularly thick oak tree. The trees seemed to change as he went deeper into the woods, since the firs closer to the shore had seemed to thin out until he couldn’t smell them anymore over the other scents bombarding him on every side.

 

His nose twitched suddenly, and Taehyung halted, his paws digging into the dampness of the snow, blinking through the lazily falling whiteness.

 

The smell of leather.

 

He sniffed again.

 

And something else. Some one else.

 

Taehyung approached slowly, stepping into the edges of a clearing and making sure that he was downwind from whoever it was. The precaution was one he was ingrained with since he was a very young pup, but in this case it was probably unnecessary, since once he got to the edge of the clearing it was difficult to smell anything over the smell of an Omega’s slick. Jungkook was braced against a tree, looking completely wrecked. His hair was stuck to his forehead in thick, black clumps, his mouth parted wide as he gripped at the snow around him. He only wore his T-shirt and sweatpants, and the latter looked completely ruined, and neither left any room for imagination as far as what was going on. Taehyung felt his whole body stiffen, first at the smell and then the realization that Jungkook had Presented. He was an Omega. Oh, thank god.

 

Then, he noticed the intruders. Two figures were leaning in towards Jungkook, causing the look of fear in his eyes. The Alpha was gripping into Jungkook’s hair now, forcing Jungkook’s head back, baring his neck against his will. The Alpha seemed livid.

 

“How the fuck do you have Seokjin’s Claim?! You’re an Omega ! You’re still a fucking pup !” The man was screaming, his eyes flashing red as the man behind him laid a hand on his shoulder, attempting to calm him with quiet words that were increasingly panicked. “Where the fuck is he?! Is this some kind of a fucking joke?”

 

Oh no. It’s Jae . The almost rabid ramblings of the Alpha were a terrifying mirror of the last time Taehyung had seen him. Part of Taehyung wanted to run away, his ears dropping in reluctance. But Jungkook needed him. He debated for a moment whether to jump in and use the moment of surprise to put himself between Jae and Jungkook, but opted instead to throw his head back, jaw snapping as he let out a long, powerful howl, catching the immediate attention of the other party and, he knew, his pack mates. He could still faintly detect their scents, and they would now be moving in closer.

 

While the Alpha was still stunned, Taehyung bolted over, snapping at the Alpha in an attempt to make him back away from Jungkook. More vulnerable in his human form, Jae stepped back, a look of bewilderment on his face until his expression crumpled into one of recognition.

 

“Taehyung,” Jae spat. “So I guess the whole family’s here, huh? Where’s your asshole of a brother now, huh? Busy boning the rest of the pack to his satisfaction?”

 

In response, Taehyung growled, baring his teeth at the wolf. This wasn’t the time for old feuds, Jungkook needed help. He needed to get him back to camp, to warmth and safety, but he couldn’t do it alone. He would just have to stall for time until backup arrived.

 

Taehyung prayed that Jae couldn’t see the way his legs trembled.

 

“Back the fuck away, pup,” Jae snapped, waving his hand and almost earning a bite from Taehyung just at the gesture, his muscles tense and ready for attack at any moment. “He’s Claimed but that doesn’t mean shit to another pack. This kid’s Unmated, which means he’s free game. Do you really want to leave him like this?” He nodded his head to Jungkook, and in a moment of weakness, Taehyung craned his head around to look at the younger boy. His heart ached, seeing the obvious pain on Jungkook’s face. His eyes were practically crossed and his hand lifted weakly to reach for the Beta.

 

“Tae…” Jungkook rasped, his voice barely audible. Taehyung knew a beg for help when he saw one.

 

“Look at him, Taehyung,” Jae added, spitting out his words with the kind of emotion-based reasoning that he knew people were weak to, that he knew could get everyone else to see his way. “Going this long in this condition, and being Unmated...he could die. And even if he lives, what are you going to do to stop me from taking him? What are you going to do, Mate him yourself?”

 

Taehyung shivered, and not at all from the cold around them. The snow had stopped, and it seemed like the world was holding its breath. He knew Mating Jungkook would buy the Omega time, as well as make it utterly taboo for Jae to touch him. Jae was an idiot and manipulative and broken, but he didn’t break the rules. That aspect of him was probably the only reason he hadn’t already done something about Jungkook.

 

But Mating Jungkook, even in a desperate attempt to save his life and get him home… Could he do that? As a Beta, it was one of his rights, to be allowed to Mate with an Omega. The boy rasped out Taehyung’s name again, but this time it was more of a moan. Jungkook shuddered, and the fresh scent of slick rose in the air. Even in his misery, Jungkook looked ashamed, looked embarrassed by the state he was in. The usually calm and delicate Jungkook was silently screaming in the depths of the Omega’s eyes.

 

Taehyung stepped toward Jungkook, nudging his wet nose against Jungkook’s, his eyes locking on the still-swollen Scent gland, irritated with hormones and from being roughly Scented. The smell of Seokjin was buried beneath the aroma of Jungkook’s arousal and sweat, but it was still there, confusing Taehyung for a moment. But there was no time. What if Jungkook was already too weak to make the trip home? What if Jae tried to Mate him right there, right then? He didn’t want to lose a pack member, not for anything. He loved Jungkook, an important, gentle part of their family.

 

But what about Jimin? Taehyung’s chest felt like it was being ripped in two. He couldn’t imagine having to go home and tell Jimin that he had Mated someone else, that he couldn’t be with his true partner, his soulmate, the other half of his heart. He felt utterly broken just thinking about it. So even though looking into Jungkook’s face made him feel like the scum of the earth, he knew he would regret this moment forever.

 

I’m sorry, Jungkook. I’m so fucking sorry. Please forgive me .

Chapter Text

“Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings -- always darker, emptier and simple r.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

 


 

 

“W-what?! You’re pregnant?!” Hoseok breathed, a smile coming to his face, bright white mouth of teeth gleaming and lighting up his face as he squeezed Kiara’s hands. “Oh my god...You’re gonna have puppies!” Kiara laughed, tumbling over and falling into Hoseok’s warm arms as he hugged her tightly. “ Namjoon is gonna have puppies! Our pack is gonna have puppies! This is such great news!”

 

“Yeah, we’re so excited!” Kiara was wiping at tears now - happy tears, and Hoseok thought she looked even more beautiful than usual. Her green eyes sparkled with what he could now properly call a motherly warmth, and small, upturned nose wrinkled as she laughed.

 

“When did you find out?!”

 

“Just before we left for the trip. We had signs after that weird second heat I went into in November, but we didn’t know for sure until recently. I think Namjoon cried more than I did.” Kiara smiled fondly, looking over at the fire and nibbling at the edge of her sleeve again. Hoseok could imagine it, Namjoon’s smile spread wide, the dimples of his cheeks deepening as he stared shyly at the ground, trying to contain his glee. Then eventually being unable to and rushing to Kiara, lifting her up and whooping loudly. That was just Namjoon, in Hoseok’s mind, a side that lately had been shown more and more rarely as the stress and number of members in the pack had increased. Puppies would be good.

 

Hoseok beamed, sitting back onto the couch with Kiara still curled up against his chest. He sighed, and she lightly swatted at his arm and said, “So you’d better make up with Yoongi soon, do you hear me? I won’t have the uncles stressing the puppies out.”

 

Uncles. For the first time in days, he laughed. He imagined Yoongi cooing over the pups, spoiling them with treats and then trying to act like he  was one of the strict parents, when he really was a sucker for round cheeks and small fingers and toes. Yoongi wanted kids. He hadn’t talked about it to the others, because that wasn’t Yoongi’s way, but Hoseok had known for a long time that he wanted pups.

 

‘I honestly don’t know if I’d be any good with pups,’ he had said, watching the wall as Hoseok ran his fingers through the Omega’s hair, his head in Hoseok’s lap. ‘But I want them. I want to take care of them and raise them up well, to be stronger and braver than me. I want to leave something behind, a mark. I felt ready for pups before I even Presented, but it’s not smart to have pups without a Mate. And none of the Alphas or Betas I came across before were anything like the person I wanted to raise my pups with.’

 

‘That sounds reasonable enough,’ Hoseok hummed, leaning down into Yoongi’s hair and burying his nose in it, in the smell of earth. ‘Raising pups is a big responsibility. And I’m sure you’d be wonderful at it.’

 

‘Yeah... ‘ Yoongi shifted, wriggling his body until he was on his back, facing up at the Alpha and meeting his eyes. ‘I don’t NEED a Mate, Hoseok. I don’t NEED an Alpha. But I WANT a partner, to share things with, to make the experience worth it.’

 

Hoseok smiled, pressing his lips to Yoongi’s brow. ‘I understand.’

 

And he had.

 

And he did.

 

“You smell sad again,” Kiara murmured, lifting his face up enough to press in against Hoseok’s neck, elegantly Scenting him. She inhaled the smell of his vanilla sweetness, brushing against him with her own neck to leave her smell of Omega mingled with coffee. The action helped relax him, calming in its familiarity, and he let his shoulders drop.

 

“Sorry. I was just...thinking about Yoongi.”

 

“It’ll be okay,” Kiara tried to reassure him, her nose still pressed into the curve of his neck. Hoseok bent his head to the side, leaning down to return the gesture, even though his mind was still somewhat distracted. It wasn’t often that the two of them Scented, only in quiet moments when the other needed a little wordless reassurance, a trace of something that wasn’t complicated or weighted with meaning or subtext. It wasn’t that being paired with Namjoon and Yoongi was difficult , per se, but it had difficulties , strained moments and stubbornness, layers burying linguistic and psychological subtleties. Basically, as Kiara had put it, ‘They think entirely too much.’

 

“Thanks,” Hoseok said, patting around her shoulder and letting her remain laid up against his chest, half-hugging her as he stared into the fire. “And congratulations.”

 

“Thanks,” Kiara yawned. He knew without being able to see into her face that her eyes had flickered closed. All things considered, it was reasonable enough that she was exhausted, and he left her there to doze, glancing up at the clock over the mantelpiece. The boys had been gone almost an hour.

 

The sound of a truck roaring its way down the uneven path startled them both, and instantly Hoseok was on high alert, rushing to the window and peering out at the bright red Dodge Ram that was parking just at the edge of the camp.

 

“What the hell…?” Hoseok mumbled. Then to Kiara he gestured with one hand, “Stay inside. Let me check this out.”

 

Kiara seemed to consider this for a moment, standing up, but then she crossed her arms and nodded, frowning as Hoseok slipped his jacket back on and stepped outside.

 

Hoseok walked off the porch and into the untarnished stretch of snow toward the trucks, his hands tucked into his pockets as he watched the four men clamber out of the vehicle. The man in the passenger seat slammed his door shut, running a hand through his blonde hair and calling out something to the man on the other side of the truck. His voice was deep and somewhat raspy, as though there was a permanent smoker’s cough sort of edge to it at all times, but it was friendly.

 

Hoseok stood waiting at the corner of the house, trying to place himself in a place where Kiara could easily peer through the window and see what was going on. It wasn’t that he actually thought the ‘intruders’ meant any harm in the least - quite the contrary - but the visit had an as-yet-unknown purpose, and they couldn’t afford to take risks now.

 

“Jackson Wang,” Hoseok called out at last, a little smirk playing on the edge of his lips, “What brings you here?”

 

The blond haired guy looked over and beamed at Hoseok, “Heeey! Long time no see!” He practically bounded over, wrapping Hoseok in a hug. It was more affection than Jackson usually showed the Alpha, but it was a wordless show of friendship to reassure, to prelude the meeting with a little show of goodwill.

 

“Yeah, I haven’t seen you since the barbeque, I think?”

 

“Yeah…” Jackson’s smile remained, but it was a little more stressed at the edges, a little more still and less fluid than a true smile seemed. “Um, hey, is Namjoon around?”

 

“No, he’s not,” Hoseok said, leaving his location purposefully unclarified. “What’s going on?”

 

“Well, see I just came by to let you guys know that the Cano pack sold their portion of the island just over the summer,” Jackson said, his hands burying into his pockets. “It seems the last of the elder wolves in the pack died off, and the younger ones are joining into different packs in the city, so they can’t afford to keep it up.”

 

“Wow, that’s sudden…” Hoseok pinched his lips together, considering. This wasn’t going to be good news, in all likelihood. One of the reasons Namjoon had been glad to have this island was that there weren’t many other packs to rival it. Jackson’s pack was on surprisingly friendly terms with them, due to his history with Namjoon, but other packs, especially newcomers, were more likely to challenge the boundaries and power balance of the hunting grounds and the game therein. This would just be one more added stress onto Namjoon’s already full plate, but it was a vital one. “Thanks for letting us know, Jackson. I’ll make sure to talk to Namjoon about it when he’s available.”

 

“There’s one more thing…” Jackson said quietly, his gaze flickering over to his companions, then towards the Main Hall, then back to Hoseok. “The pack that bought the new land? It’s the Rising Gods clan…”

 

Hoseok stared, blinking in surprise. He wasn’t sure what Jackson meant by that, but he could tell it wasn’t good. “Oh. Um. Thanks.”

 

“Namjoon will know what that means,” Jackson offered, trying to be helpful. “Just make sure you tell him it’s the Rising Gods clan, and tell him to take all precautions. I haven’t heard any nice news about them lately, and it’s not going to be pretty.”

 

Coming up to him with a quiet stride, one of the men placed a reassuring hand on Jackson’s shoulder, shaking his head a little to brush the brown bangs out of his eyes. “Also…?” the man reminded. Hoseok had met him only once at a social Namjoon had taken the whole pack to, but he remembered the man was an Omega named Mark.

 

Jackson nodded, meeting Hoseok’s gaze in a powerful but subtle display of the Beta’s developed ‘Alpha’ side. Normally, Jackson was one of those loud, cocky, boisterous Betas with only one volume: obnoxious. But right now he was eerily calm and quiet, his voice uncharacteristically low as he said, “And tell Namjoon that if he needs us, to call. If worst comes to worst, we’re on the same team here.”

 

It wasn’t completely unheard of for packs to join forces at a new incoming pack’s threat, but it wasn’t common by any means. Hoseok nodded gravely, knowing that this suggested that even Jackson’s pack was afraid of the consequences of this new ‘Rising Gods’ group of wolves. Hoseok shook Jackson’s hand, the deal sealed as well as triggering Jackson’s smile back in its normal overwhelming brightness, which Hoseok returned in kind. He dawdled around for a few minutes more, joking about the abundance of seagulls on the island this year, and then excused himself, his arm wrapped around his partner. Hoseok stood and watched them pull out of the camp, his arms crossed and his mind worrying.

 

They had a pack of mostly Unmated wolves, some of which were still practically pups (one of which was currently missing). They had dissension between most of their more mature wolves, and now they had fresh pups on the way.

 

If he had been paranoid about Taehyung overstepping bounds with his rights to Mate, that was nothing compared to what a completely unknown, very likely cocky clan of wolves was going to do once they caught whiff of their pups.

 

Hoseok was worried.

 

~~~~~

 

Jungkook looked up into Taehyung’s golden wolf eyes, seeing the apology and the pain there, and he swallowed heavily. His throat felt like sandpaper, and he wanted to reach out and pull Taehyung to him, to hug his warm, soft fur and bury his face into the whiteness with the flecks of warm brown-gold in it. He wanted comfort, he wanted relief. He wanted to stop feeling on fire and frozen at the same time. Jungkook shuddered, another wave of slick rushing out of him against his will, and he moaned. All three wolves visibly reacted, their bodies tensing from instinct, the call to Jungkook’s Scent. His heat was only getting worse, and the presence of not one, but three wolves so close that could help relieve the pain and aching in his body was pure torture. His world kept spinning, and his eyes refused to focus as he wanted them to.

 

Was Taehyung really going to Mate him, right here, in this way? Jungkook continued to tremble, unsure if it was from fear or the hormones rushing through his body and setting it alight as though his blood was gasoline. But you have Jimin. If you Mate me, what will happen to Jimin? What will happen to Seokjin? They’ll be alone forever. Jungkook felt tears streaming down his face. He didn’t want Taehyung to Mate him. Maybe his body would have said otherwise if he was a wolf at that moment, but as it was, he knew that Taehyung was not his Mate, was not someone he wanted in that way. He wanted Taehyung to be happy with Jimin, wanted them to whisper sweetly to each other on their bunk for a long, long time. The idea of being Mated to Taehyung in front of these strangers, forced to do so by ‘necessity,’ was terrifying, was harrowing.

 

But he couldn’t even speak to tell Taehyung that, because his body was too busy burning.

 

“Well? What will it be? Take your brother’s precious Omega or watch me do it?” Jae hissed.

 

Taehyung shifted, turning to crouch in front of Jungkook, facing Jae and taking on a defensive stance. Jungkook could almost hear him. Neither. I won’t let either happen. Jungkook’s body wanted to scream in frustration, but the Jungkook trapped inside, watching everything happen with very little strength or awareness, wanted to cry with relief and gratefulness. After a moment, he also wanted to cry in fear, because in the flash of an eye Jae had switched back to wolf form, growling as he leapt at Taehyung’s throat. The Beta being much smaller, he didn’t stand a chance, and whimpered as he was thrown to the side. Jae snarled, coming after him again, and Taehyung forced himself back onto his feet, wobbling but bracing himself. He tried to sidestep from Jae’s second attack, but the two of them ended up colliding heavily instead, biting at anything available. The strong scent of honeysuckle mixing with citrus rose in the air, along with a thick aggressiveness to the atmosphere that was inescapable. After several long seconds of scuffle, they finally parted, panting and circling around each other. Jae leapt forward, his maw closing around Taehyung’s front leg and snapping his head to the side roughly, sharp teeth tearing skin and fur, attempting to break the leg there as well. Taehyung’s whimper rose in the air, but he continued to fight. Jungkook could see through the haze that he always seemed to be placing himself between Jungkook and Jae, whether he was leaping or limping over to block Jae’s path. Jae’s mouth was dripping with Taehyung’s blood now, and he bared his teeth in a low growl, the two of them staring each other down in a lull moment. Jungkook realized with a sinking heart that there was no way Taehyung would win against the older, stronger Alpha. Taehyung was visibly panting hard, limping on his front leg, and his tail hung limp, dragging against the snow and blood at his feet. Jae lunged forward once more, taking advantage of Taehyung’s sluggish movements. The Beta tried to twist, to bury his snarling teeth into Jae’s neck, but he was thrown to the ground first, a whine echoing around the woods. Jae had rammed head-first into Taehyung’s side, biting down into the flesh there and pressing Taehyung into the snow, where he flailed in a panic. Jae just seemed to continue tearing into Taehyung’s side, his head shaking back and forth, his head tilted almost unnaturally to the side. Taehyung’s paws tried to push Jae off, but eventually he twitched and went limp.

 

Jungkook had tears in his eyes, panting as his gut clenched in fear and pain. Taehyung wasn’t moving, as far as he could tell. But he didn’t quite trust his eyes because they still weren’t focusing. He could barely keep them open. His eyes flickered over to Sukkie, who was standing a ways back, wringing his hands with a worried look on his face as he watched. Jae turned his head to meet Jungkook’s eyes, and the Omega felt a shudder run through him. There was no one left to protect him now.

 

Jae let out a growl, stepping towards the oak tree, his tail held erect in a show of confidence and victory. Jungkook gasped, curling up into himself as much as possible, his legs numb and quivering at this point, but he tried to pull his knees to his chest even though it made his stomach and ass hurt so badly, and his cock was still pressed up against his belly, hard and throbbing. Jungkook tried to shield his head with his arms, smelling his own sweat and his Scent as he did so.  

 

He expected Jae’s Scent to swarm in around him, burying him beneath it and consuming him in seconds. But there came a deep grunt, a sort of half-bark and a familiar howl. Jungkook blinked his eyes open to see that another wolf had come, grand and white and snarling ferociously. The white wolf’s face was contorted as he bared his teeth, instantly leaping forward and catching hold of Jae’s neck and whipping him off to the side. The scent of soap, strangely mixed with the smell of blood and slick, met Jungkook’s consciousness in a slow, purposeful wave. His eyes widened, his mind clearing like fogged up glass starting to fade into condensation, allowing him to see what was going on. The throbbing in his gut was worse, but he felt like he could suddenly breathe a little, his body wanting to relax through all the tense muscles and silent screams of the last few hours.

 

He’s here. He came for me.

 

Jungkook blinked away the tears, lips parted as he tried to sit up, wanting to reach for him, to hug him to his chest and be buried in him. “S...Jin…” he rasped. But his croaky exhale was left unheard as the wolves continued to fight.

 

Seokjin barked in warning, cornering Jae as the darker wolf tried to back up, to give himself some space for defense. He lowered on his front paws slightly, teeth bared as he snapped.

Seokjin watched him for a moment, unmoving. The wind blew past, sending his Scent towards Jungkook and lightly brushing the top layer of powdery snow past. Seokjin’s tail stood erect and his eyes focused on Jae alone. Trying to catch him off guard, Jae shot forward, much as he had done with Taehyung, attempting to knock Seokjin off his feet with a bold move. Seokjin lifted onto his hind legs, catching Jae beneath his front paws and pressing him into the ground before Jae could react. Seokjin bit violently down into Jae’s neck, shaking his head back and forth wildly as Jae seemed to be leaping, flailing, reaching for any sort of foothold to escape with. Seokjin held him there as he continued to fight, whimpers and growls blending in alike.

 

The longer he held Jae pinned there, the more Jae’s deep snarls turned into cries, until he was left with little hiccupping whimpers, panting helplessly beneath Seokjin’s mouth. Jungkook blinked, scared to even move as he stared in wonder. Seokjin’s posture changed, his ears going down against his head as he slowly released his hold on Jae’s neck, allowing the wolf to scramble frantically away. Jae limped over to Sukkie’s side, looking over his shoulder at Seokjin. The instant Jae looked back his way, the fur at the back of Seokjin’s neck seemed to rise in fear or warning, and he barked loudly at Jae, making both of them jump. Sukkie quickly shifted into wolf form and the two of them ran off into the woods, kicking up snow and unanswered questions behind them.

 

Seokjin watched after them until they were out of sight, then he turned towards the still unmoving Taehyung. He sniffed at the wolf’s wounds, burying his nose in the Beta’s neck and nudging at him, trying to garner a response. There seemed to be a lot of blood, and Taehyung’s darkish white coat with its little gray marks was stained in vibrant red, especially in his side and injured front leg. Part of the skin of Taehyung’s leg was torn away, exposing a deep triad of gashes that tangled together from where Jae had sunk his teeth. At first, Taehyung didn’t respond, and the world seemed to stop in fear and uncertainty. Then, Jungkook wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw an ear twitch, and Seokjin patted Taehyung roughly with one paw. Taehyung then whimpered, a loud, piercing sort of sound in the back of his throat that seemed to cut into Jungkook’s sensitive ears, and Taehyung’s belly started to rise and fall with deep, pain-stricken breaths. Seokjin started frantically licking Taehyung’s face all over, the force almost lifting Taehyung’s head out of the snow entirely, and making him groan in half-hearted protest. Jungkook sighed in relief, shifting in his spot in the snow, trying to relieve some of the ache in his body now that the ache in his heart was starting to let up and allow him to breathe.

 

At the slight rustle of movement, Seokjin whipped around and locked eyes with Jungkook, who froze. The Omega let out a little whimpering sound, his eyes locked on the stains of blood that seemed softly blotted all around Seokjin’s mouth and neck and chest. He looked powerful and intimidating, the darker version of Seokjin that he had seen reflected in the man’s eyes the moment they had first met. This was the Seokjin that had bent over him in the bunk, mouth pressed to his neck in reckless, heated abandon. And now Jungkook knew for sure that he would have no fight in him to say no, no strength in him to convince himself he didn’t want it throughout his whole body, to pretend he didn’t need him.

 

Seokjin let out a sort of snuffling, snorting type sound, then took gentle hold of Taehyung’s good leg, dragging him over closer to where Jungkook lay. Jungkook winced at the little yelps and cries from Taehyung, who wriggled but was too exhausted to rise, but then he saw that Seokjin was protectively trying to get them into one spot. When Taehyung was half-buried in the snow drift next to Jungkook, Seokjin lifted his head and released on long, deep howl that echoed through the trees, reaching out to their companions who were surely already on their way. Then, Seokjin finally turned his full attention on the new Omega. Jungkook blinked, sitting with his back still against the tree and his limbs laying limply against the snow and the mud, and he licked at his chapped lips in wonder, waiting to see what Seokjin would do.

 

The wolf stepped forward, nudging against Jungkook’s neck, his wet nose feeling soothing and cool against the sweaty, clammy skin there. He seemed to be fearfully checking Jungkook’s neck for a Mating mark, or Jae’s Scent, and upon finding neither, he seemed to relax, almost falling into Jungkook’s lap. The weight of Seokjin’s paws on his legs felt like iron, pinning his already numb thighs to the ground uncomfortably. But the sensation of him being close , of the somehow soothing heat of Seokjin’s underbelly and fur pressed up against him, covering him and shielding him from the falling snow and the pressing cold, made him feel like his body was waking up, shaking off the weariness of the early morning hours into a new, brighter moment.

 

His hands reached out and buried into Seokjin’s fur, taking fistfulls of the beautiful whiteness before he dropped his face into it, inhaling the smell of wet fur and soap. His head spun again, but in a pleasant, drugged sort of way. He felt Seokjin’s pulse thrumming wildly against his thighs, could feel the tenseness in the atmosphere as Seokjin started to sniff more and more heavily. The wolf at last gave in, craning his head to burrow into Jungkook’s filthy T-shirt, the tickle of his nose against Jungkook’s side somehow calming to him. His feet seemed to tingle and he knew that his legs were falling completely asleep under the massive weight of Seokjin, the wolf’s stomach across Jungkook’s legs and his large, blood-covered paws resting against Taehyung’s back. And as uncomfortable and painful as it was to bend over and lay against Seokjin’s wide, soft back, Jungkook breathed, finally finding a bit of relief as he mindlessly indulged in the addiction of Seokjin’s Scent. He positively swam in it, felt himself continue to wet with slick, but more calmly now, with less fear. It was exhausting, it was draining, but it wasn’t terrifying.

 

Presenting alone as he had, he knew had been extremely risky. So much could have gone wrong - so much had gone wrong. But now that Seokjin was here, surrounding him with warmth and possessiveness and protection, Jungkook actually smiled, closing his eyes as he let himself drift off. Seokjin wouldn’t let anyone hurt him, he knew. Seokjin was strong and older and capable, and he was exactly the sort of home Jungkook wanted to fall into right at that moment. He had saved both Jungkook and Taehyung, he had found him when Jungkook had been certain for hours that they wouldn’t. He had let Jungkook touch him, when he needed it so desperately, when he needed it the most. But now Jungkook was so, so tired.

 

The world tilted once again, and then turned black.

Chapter Text

 

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”

― Fernando Pessoa

 

The wind was blowing harder, kicking up wispy clouds of the powder-like snow around them. Seokjin’s muscles remained tense against Jungkook, his body intently focused on self-control as the Omega laid against his back, collapsed forward into unconsciousness. A low whine formed deep in his throat as he felt the slick of Jungkook’s heat soaking against his belly, and he started to pant, attempting to lessen the effects the heat was having on his body. He had to wait for Namjoon and the others to come. He knew that they would be there any minute now. But it was dangerous for him to continue being so close to Jungkook while in wolf form, as much as Jungkook needed the extra warmth he was providing. His Scent was intoxicating, and his touch tingled and swept waves beneath his skin.

 

He whined, trying not to shift and disturb Jungkook, carefully laying his head down between his paws. He sniffed at Taehyung’s still form to distract himself, and the wolf finally seemed to be waking up, his ears twitching and his legs kicking out in little bursts as he tried to lift his head. The Beta whimpered, looking over at Seokjin, then shuffling awkwardly on the three legs he had available until he was close enough to press his nose up against his older brother. Seokjin blinked heavily, letting his eyes flutter closed as he tried to concentrate on not moving, to focus on his breathing. Taehyung let out little whines, licking at Seokjin’s face frantically, causing irritation and gratefulness to swirl awkwardly in his belly. He opened his eyes, seeing the apologetic look on Taehyung’s face, and he nudged his nose underneath the Beta’s chin, playfully pushing his head up and away. The Beta’s tail had been drooping, but it gave the slightest wave back and forth, dragging through the snow as he laid down against Seokjin’s paws. The whimper in Seokjin’s throat grew from a whine to a warning growl, and he shifted a bit on Jungkook’s lap, feeling a slight pull from where Jungkook’s fist clenched around a thick tuft of his fur even in his sleep.

 

The sound of someone approaching made both Seokjin and Taehyung lift their heads up in alarm, only to see Namjoon, Jimin and Yoongi gallop over to the oak tree, all of them visibly thrown back at the scent of Jungkook. Jimin buried his nose into the snow, snuffling in shock and desperation, trying to tone down the smell. Yoongi was the first to recover, shifting back into human form and stepping forward.

 

“Holy shit…” he breathed, running a hand across his face as he stared at the unconscious Jungkook in disbelief.

 

Namjoon sniffed at the battleground, pawing at the bloodied snow and trying to identify all the different scents involved. Jimin was hovering worriedly over Taehyung, letting out little whimpers as he licked at Taehyung’s face and neck. Taehyung lifted his head and returned the licks in a slower manner, trying to be reassuring even as he couldn’t move.

 

Yoongi shifted forward on his knees to reach for Jungkook’s head, to see if he was conscious, and suddenly Seokjin’s enormous form twisted halfway around, and he snapped his jaws toward Yoongi’s reaching hands, narrowly missing them. Yoongi jerked backwards on instinct, more vulnerable to attack while in human form. He blinked at Seokjin with a perplexed expression.

 

“What the fuck, Seokjin?” he snapped. “We have to move him, he can’t stay here.”

 

Seokjin just growled in response, teeth bared at the dumbfounded Omega. Namjoon was instantly at Yoongi’s side, bracing his legs and growling back at Seokjin in warning. A voice echoing in Seokjin’s mind was telling him to stop, to ‘not do anything stupid,’ as Namjoon had warned him. But the smell of Jungkook had washed over him heavily, and seeing him so vulnerably at the mercy of Jae had made him paranoid. The instincts overwhelming his wolf body were making him tremble, forcing him to give up control. Namjoon was not Namjoon right now, but another Alpha. A threat. A possible danger to Jungkook, who was in heat and hurting, who needed Seokjin to protect him. The next thing Seokjin knew there was a flurry of teeth and snarls, and the fleshy, thick skin near Namjoon’s neck was being torn at by Seokjin’s maw, and Yoongi was yelling, covering Taehyung up and swearing at them in fear. Jimin leapt in, jumping back and forth with his teeth bared ferociously, despite the size difference between him and the other two Alphas, and he managed to slip in between the two of them and snap at Seokjin’s back leg, knocking him over. Jungkook, still lost to the world, tumbled quietly off Seokjin’s back and into a little crumpled pile in the snow. With Jimin and Namjoon both snarling at him, teeth clenched carefully around his skin, drool coating his fur as if in preparation to mingle with the bloodshed, Seokjin finally stopped. The overwhelming power of their two Alpha Scents made him pause long enough for his eyes to focus again, and he instantly shifted back, tears in his eyes as within moments multiple hands were reaching around him, patting him reassuringly. Jimin whimpered, even though he was now in human form, and he leaned down into Seokjin’s vision, tilting his head in question with the most heartbroken look on his face. Namjoon knelt, panting in the snow, one hand dropped to Seokjin’s shoulder, tiny droplets of blood sliding down Namjoon’s neck and down onto his chest from the small puncture wounds Seokjin’s teeth had left.

 

“I’m...I’m sorry…” Seokjin sobbed. “I don’t know what came over me.” It was a lie, when it came down to it. He knew exactly what had come over him. He looked over at Jungkook, and even in sleep, his hands were still partially clenched where they had been holding Seokjin’s snowy fur a moment ago, and Seokjin’s chest ached. He turned back to Namjoon. “I’m sorry, I...I promised you and I--”

 

“We’ll deal with that later, alright?” Namjoon said, his tone gentle but his expression hard and stony. “We’re all here for one reason: to get Jungkook, and now Taehyung, home safe. Okay?” Seokjin stared down, his eyes glassy, and Namjoon nudged his shoulder hard, to make a point, “ Okay ?”

 

Seokjin nodded, sniffing a bit as he stood up. Yoongi crawled over to Jungkook again, turning him over and checking his forehead, his breathing. Seokjin felt goosebumps rise on his arms as Yoongi nonchalantly pulled back Jungkook’s sweatpants, peering inside as if inspecting a cupboard’s contents. The Omega then grabbed Jungkook’s jacket from where it had been discarded, placing it onto Jungkook and turning to Namjoon.

 

“He’s pretty fucking bad, Namjoon, I don’t know if you’re gonna be able to carry him. Your lead Alpha is so dominant, it’ll react to him no matter what you do.”

 

“I’m Mated, though. It would still be tough, but that helps a little,” Namjoon protested, gently. “And if it gets too hard, you can take a short turn and then--”

 

“I’ll carry him,” Seokjin said firmly. “Please, let me do it.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips together, meeting Namjoon’s eyes in frantic question. It was a bad plan, but Seokjin had been with him this long, hadn’t he? The thought of anyone else carrying him home made his blood start to boil, and made him worry, even when it was just a logical proposal given to get them all home safely. And Namjoon was aware that, as dangerous as it was for Seokjin to stay that close to Jungkook, it would likely be much more dangerous to put another Alpha between the two of them just then.

 

“I don’t know, Seokjin, you’re not in a great state…” Namjoon was slipping into his diplomatic voice, and Seokjin knew he should just back down and play it demure, but he just couldn’t.

 

“Please, Namjoon, I swear, I’ll be okay until we get to the camp. But please don’t take him away from me until he’s safe.” He knew his voice was trailing off into desperation, knew the worried look in Namjoon’s eyes and what it meant. He was begging, pleading, because every fiber of his being wanted to stay next to Jungkook until he was sure the boy was going to be okay.

 

To his relief, and possibly his downfall, Namjoon agreed. With surprising lightness Seokjin stood up, going over to where Yoongi was still knelt at Jungkook’s side and was brushing his hair back from his face.

 

Behind him, Namjoon was carefully trying to pick up Taehyung, the wolf yelping as the Alpha touched his injured leg.

 

“Should he transform back? It would probably be more comfortable.” Yoongi suggested.

 

“Taehyungie?” Jimin pressed in. “Can you transform? Are you strong enough to?”

 

Taehyung slowly uncurled, shifting into human form. There was a deep wound of torn skin in his side, still bleeding quite profusely, scratches and bite marks along his neck, and his forearm was a ripped, mangled mess that was hard to inspect through all the blood. He was almost finished transforming when he let out a loud cry, clutching his arm bent across his chest. Tears were stinging at his eyes as Yoongi, Namjoon and Jimin shot forward in panic.

 

“What is it?! What happened!” Jimin practically screeched.

 

“I think he’s dislocated his elbow,” Yoongi breathed, “I don’t know if it happened before or after he shifted, though. Shit. We should have let him stay in wolf form.”

 

Jimin looked to Namjoon, who pressed his lips together before turning to Seokjin, who was already rushing over. He carefully lifted Taehyung’s sleeve, ignoring the boy’s protests as he stared at the quickly developing discoloration at the Beta’s elbow.

 

“It’s definitely dislocated,” Seokjin inhaled. “Jimin, hold his shoulder like this for me.”

 

“What!? No! Please, no!” Taehyung cried, but Seokjin ignored him, meeting Jimin’s fear-stricken eyes as he expertly placed his hands around Taehyung’s arm, the skin there feeling unnaturally warm from the injury. He felt for the best grip against the bone, pressing in firmly through the bruises. He was trying to avoid the deep gash there, but it still made Taehyung cry out.

 

Taehyung started to flex his fingers wildly, trying to pull back, “Wait, wait a second, I, I-”

 

“Shh,” Jimin reassured, brushing his lips against the side of Taehyung’s temple, “Please, just hold still, Tae, it’ll just be a minute. We can’t move you with your elbow like that.” In response, Taehyung just whimpered, his whole body trembling.

 

“Namjoon,” Seokjin said in a dark warning, and the lead Alpha moved in to help Jimin. “Okay, ready?” There was a popping sound, and Taehyung screamed, then whimpered, weeping as he fell back into Jimin’s chest. Seokjin looked up into his brother’s eyes, touching his cheek, his expression apologetic and pained. “I’m sorry, Taehyung. Does it feel better?”

 

Taehyung blinked, one eye a little before the other as his gaze was obviously swimming from the pain, but he nodded, clutching his arm to his chest. “I’m gonna go get Jungkook now, okay?” Taehyung nodded again, and Seokjin moved back to where Yoongi had been running a soothing hand through Jungkook’s hair, the boy still dead to the world despite Taehyung’s screams.

 

Yoongi frowned at Seokjin, but stepped back reluctantly. “Careful,” he snapped. Seokjin was lifting Jungkook up as though he were a delicately folded up paper crane, his metaphorical wings folded in as his head rested up against Seokjin’s chest, his expression surprisingly peaceful. Yoongi fretfully tucked Jungkook’s jacket in against Seokjin, ignoring the way Seokjin watched him unblinkingly.

 

“There,” Yoongi said, at last satisfied. He turned then to Namjoon, who was bending down and lifting Taehyung up. The boy whimpered, biting at his lip as he let himself be picked up bridal-style. It was lucky that Taehyung was not as heavy as some of the others, being more gangly and all limbs and skinniness. Jimin hovered around Namjoon’s shoulders, a pallor to his cheeks that rivaled the snow around them. He shivered, and Yoongi touched his shoulder reassuringly. “Our job right now is to protect Seokjin and Namjoon while they’re carrying the boys,” Yoongi told him quietly, “So do your best.”

 

Jimin nodded, straightening his shoulders and lifting his head as his eyes started to scan the woods around them. Yoongi noticed the tears glistening in Jimin’s eyes, but didn’t comment.

 

The walk back to the camp was thankfully uneventful, but it was agonizingly long. Seokjin felt so guilty for the way that holding Jungkook and walking ahead from the others reassured his inner Alpha, made it believe that relief was coming soon. He breathed in through his mouth, focusing on the lovely feeling of Jungkook’s weight in his arms, the physical contact calming him, and the fact that he was in human form now all aiding in his self-control. It was almost noon by the time they came back, and as soon as they left the last copse of trees, Kiara and Hoseok were running out of the house. Seokjin could see they were already bursting into tears at the sight of Jungkook and Taehyung, curled up like children in their arms. Kiara instantly went to Jungkook, brushing back his shaggy bangs and sighing, kissing his forehead affectionately.

 

“Thank god he’s alive,” she cried. She started planting little kisses along his cheeks and on his hands, simultaneously inspecting him for any scratches. A low growl was rumbling in Seokjin’s chest in warning, but she ignored it, breathing a sigh of relief when she saw that he was - for the most part - left unscathed. Now there was just the matter of how his skin was so cold it looked discolored, and the dryness to his lips that suggested dehydration.

 

Hoseok was looking at the arm Taehyung had tucked away, inspecting the bruises and the deep gash there. “God, that’s so… Um, I think we have a splint in the first-aid supplies? Come on, the fire’s going and we already brought everything out. We figured something happened when you weren’t back on time.”

 

“Shit, he looks so pale,” Kiara breathed, as she and Hoseok switched which boy they were fretting over. Namjoon and Seokjin shared a brief glance of impatience, their arms numb from carrying them through the underbrush.

 

Hoseok moved forward to touch Jungkook’s arm, then the smell of Jungkook’s heat as it continued dripping from him and down Seokjin’s shivering legs hit the Alpha, and he reeled back, his nose wrinkling as he gave a sharp inhale of surprise.

 

“Oh my god..” Hoseok breathed. Seokjin fought to keep his face carefully blank, trying to remind himself that Hoseok was no threat when it came to Jungkook’s safety. The weight and warmth of Jungkook in his arms, his nose crumpled slightly up against Seokjin’s chest, helped keep his racing mind busy and allowed him to take a calming breath.

 

Walking the last 15 feet or so to the Main Hall was the longest stretch of the journey, because all of the wolves were pressed in close, staring at the two injured wolves and wringing their hands in worry, fretting and whispering weakly, as though the strength had left their souls.

 

Once inside, chaos began, as Kiara and Yoongi started shouting orders, sending people for more towels and blankets. Jimin frantically ran back and forth, securing every available sheet, blanket and pillow and preparing the two couches for the boys as quickly as he could. By the time he was finished it was like they were balanced on top of a precarious stack of blankets. Seokjin washed his hands then went to move back to Jungkook’s side, but Kiara stepped forward and placed a halting hand on his chest.

 

“You’re needed more with Taehyung,” she said firmly. Seokjin narrowed his eyes at her, his jaw stiffening and his shoulders rising in defensiveness. But she met his eyes evenly, traces of blue encircling her green eyes, making them look like the sea in the middle of a storm. “Jungkook isn’t injured , he’s in a heat . And unless your intention is to Mate him right now, while he’s passed out, how do you expect to help him, hm?”

 

Seokjin halted, considering her words, and hating how his inner voice weakly admitted that she was right. “But I...is he going to be okay?”

 

“I don’t know, but trust me, if anyone knows enough to help him through this heat, it’ll be Yoongi and me, understand?” She waited until he nodded in acknowledgement, knowing they made an amusing sight. The tiny, fairy-esque Omega pressing one reprimanding hand into the Alpha’s broad chest, her expression unwavering and self-assured as Seokjin’s shoulders slumped. “Taehyung’s injuries are bad, and the rest of us don’t have the medical know-how for that. Take care of your brother.”

 

Seokjin nodded again, turning and focusing his attention on Taehyung, who was now awake again and clinging desperately to Jimin’s hand, his injured arm still folded up against him. The elbow all the way halfway up his arm looked purpled and bruised, and it badly needed a splint, or he might injure it worse. Jimin’s other hand was occupied with putting pressure of the damp, soft towel he had pressed to Taehyung’s bleeding arm. Seokjin knelt down, and Taehyung’s dark eyes flashed towards him, and he instantly burst into tears.

 

“I’m s-s-sorry, Seokjin, I...he said I should Mate him to keep him safe, b-but I just c-c-couldn’t.. I’m s-s-sorry! I’m sorry!”

 

“Shhh,” Seokjin soothed, reaching out and running a hand through Taehyung’s hair, then grazing it downward to rest behind his neck. “You did well, Taehyung. You did wonderful . Didn’t he, Jimin?”

 

He turned the praise-giving to the younger Alpha, who was crouched and leaning in close to the Beta’s head. He swallowed, then nodded, squeezing Taehyung’s hand as he met his eyes squarely. When he spoke, his voice sounded a little strangled, like it had to fight to escape, but his words were sure. “I’m so proud of you, Taehyungie. You found Jungkook. You were so brave. And you did exactly what Namjoon said to do.”

 

Taehyung blinked, his face contorted and Seokjin wasn’t sure if it was in physical pain or emotional relief. He clutched Jimin’s hand to his chest, sniffling for a few moments. “I just c-c-couldn’t, Jimin. I don’t want anyone else. I want you.”

 

There was quiet in the room, and the older wolves shared looks of surprise. Hoseok and Yoongi’s eyes met for a moment, and the Alpha’s face crumpled. Namjoon had a look of strain on his face as he held out swabs and bandages to Seokjin, but Seokjin could have sworn there was a trace of amusement written ever-so-briefly across the lead Alpha’s face, before it was drawn in worry once more.

 

“Shh, shh, don’t worry, Tae-tae,” Jimin reassured, touching his forehead to Taehyung’s and brushing the tips of their noses together. “You have me, I promise. You have me, and I have you. We have each other. We’re soulmates, right? Right?” Taehyung nodded, sniffing thickly, and Jimin smiled at him. After a moment, Taehyung smiled back through his tears, and Seokjin felt his chest clenching at the scene. Trying his hardest not to glance over and check on Jungkook, he continued cleaning up Taehyung’s wounds with Namjoon’s assistance, as Jimin continued whispering praises and reassurances to the Beta. The wound on his stomach was better than it looked, once cleaned up it was mostly just loose skin that he had to disinfect carefully, wrapping a large bandage around his middle with Jimin’s assistance. There were bite marks along Taehyung’s neck and color that looked like a meteor shower drawn in red, long, angular marks like apostrophe’s stretching across the skin, the dot of the origin a deeper puncture wound. Jimin patted gently at them until they stopped bleeding, touching his fingertip with a feather-light touch against the darkening bruises that surrounded each other. His arm was definitely the worst of it, eerie purple and almost greenish bruises painting the tan skin. The gash was not only deep and wide, but it wasn’t a clean cut, and Seokjin’s frown grew increasingly by degrees as he rushed to clean the wound and stitch together the skin so that it would heal. Taehyung had passed out again, from a severe combination of exhaustion and pain, but Seokjin warned Jimin that he would need to drink water as soon as he woke up again, and that they had to be careful about blood loss. Eventually, the boy was covered in clean, bright white bandages instead of open wounds. Seokjin sat back and sighed. Jimin was staring down at Taehyung, his face weighted with steady concern, humming lightly as he ran a hand through Taehyung’s bangs in even, slow movements. He had lost quite a lot of blood, but Seokjin felt confident that he would be okay, as long as nothing got infected and his elbow healed properly. Seokjin dropped his hands from his work, watching Jimin for a moment.

 

“You really love him a lot, don’t you?”

 

Jimin looked up, his expression a little taken aback. But he set his jaw and nodded.

 

“How… how long have you known?” Seokjin asked, his voice quiet and gentle.

 

For a long minute, Jimin didn’t speak, continuing his ministrations on Taehyung as he considered. “Taehyung and me were reading this book together. He was reading it out loud whenever we got bored. I’m not very good at reading, but Taehyung likes it. Sometimes we read poetry, or he reads books to me, or reenacts movies… I like how his voice sounds when he reads.” He trailed off, but Seokjin - and the rest of the pack - all waited patiently, in silence. “Recently we read this book together, and it said something like ‘I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.’”

 

Everyone in the room remained still, surprised by the slight sniffling noises coming from Jimin as he blushed. “That’s how it felt to me, anyways,” he finished, rubbing at his tears as if impatient with them, then returning his attentions to his Beta.

 

Seokjin took an inhale of breath and stood, as if brushing away the weighty covering of a different world. “Well, he’s going to be all right, I promise. Hoseok is already working on assembling a splint for his arm, and it’ll be a few months before he’s all healed up, but things look good.” He patted Jimin on the shoulder, sending him a tight-lipped smile. “And congratulations.”

 

Jimin looked up, his eyes wide as a soft, ghost of a smile came to his face.

 

“Namjoon, back up!” Yoongi snapped suddenly, calling everyone’s attention as the lead Alpha stepped away from the opposite couch in shock. There was a low sound from Jungkook, deep and innately sexual in nature. “You’re triggering his heat even more.”

 

“S-sorry, I was just…” Namjoon frowned, his brow furrowing against his forehead. Kiara stood, placing a hand on his arm.

 

“Namjoon, why don’t you go help Hoseok with Taehyung’s splint?” she offered. More quietly, she whispered, “You didn’t do anything wrong, just...your Alpha Scent is really strong today, okay? So go try to relax. We’ve got this.”

 

The Alpha nodded, straightening his shoulders as he went to go help Hoseok. Seokjin stood in between the two couches, feeling lost. He had promised Namjoon he would back off and do as he was told once they got back to camp. But with every tender touch from the two Omegas, dabbing cool cloths at Jungkook’s face and carefully dripping water into his mouth, every time Yoongi rubbed at the boy’s limbs to try and get the warmth and life back into them, Seokjin felt his belly light a little more on fire. And the saddest part, the most painful part of it all… was that Seokjin knew it wasn’t just because of the boy’s heat, but something deeper, maybe more selfish and poisonous than any biological need.

 

Tentatively, he stepped forward, trying to lean and see over Kiara’s shoulder as she wiped at Jungkook’s face, washing away the grime and sweat of the snow. The cleaner and warmer he got, the more soft and innocent Jungkook looked. His mouth was lightly parted, opened in the middle in a delicate, almost diamond-like shape, with white pearly teeth peeking through as he breathed softly. There was a gentle blush to the apples of the boy’s cheeks now, making him look younger than he was. Yoongi murmured a warning to Kiara, then pulled the soiled sweatpants down and clear away. The smell of Jungkook’s slick hit the air, mingling thickly with the smell of firewood and sweat. Everyone’s breath caught, and Jungkook whimpered, shivering a little and dropping his head to the side, a crinkle in his brow.

 

Seokjin flushed, the sight of Yoongi slowly wiping a cloth up and down Jungkook’s pale legs with methodical delicacy making the Alpha’s stomach turn. He bit his lip, turning away.

 

“Um..” Jimin said quietly, standing up and going over to Seokjin’s side. “Seokjin?”

 

“Yeah? What is it?” he asked distractedly. His eyes had flickered back over and he was now watching as Kiara focused on washing down Jungkook’s chest, his shirt now removed.

 

“I, uh, found this in the snow, next to Jungkook. I think he brought it with him when he went…”

 

Seokjin turned, and saw Jimin holding a crumpled piece of clothing, the band pinched between his two fingers as he held it out to Seokjin. The Alpha arched an eyebrow, reaching out and taking it from Jimin, until he realized that they were boxers. And they were his own. He froze.

 

Why did Jungkook take my underwear with him into the woods? Was that what --?

 

Seokjin felt something in his belly twist, and his heart seemed to have decided to take a momentary break from beating. He needed to get out of there, and immediately. There was too much temptation, too many hints to make him hope. His body seemed to flush with heat and embarrassment as Jimin looked at him in question.

 

But then there was a little moan from Jungkook, sleepy and unsure, and the smell of slick rose again. Kiara reached over and slapped the back of Seokjin’s leg, surprising him.

 

“Stop reeking up the place with your Alpha Scent, what the fuck is wrong with you!?” Kiara snapped. Seokjin looked over in surprise, before he stared at Jungkook again, worry etched across his face and stiffening the muscles between his eyebrows. “Why are you being so…?” She trailed off, distracted by her work so much so that she couldn’t finish the sentence.

 

Before he could let his brain catch up, he noticed Yoongi staring up at him, and their eyes met for a long moment. After a moment, Yoongi’s mouth dropped, and he gaped at Seokjin in surprise and realization. Flushing once again, Seokjin turned away before Yoongi could settle a more judgmental gaze on him, rushing out of the Main Hall.

 

Instantly he rushed toward the empty cabin bunk, needing an escape from the close air, from the reminders. He closed the door after himself, before his eyes instantly darted up to Jungkook’s empty bunk, and his breathing seemed to stop completely. Seokjin stood a moment in the doorway, his nerves screaming with the memories, before he darted back outside, slamming the door shut. He panted at the freezing air, his heart pounding heavily in his chest as he sank to the ground, crouched with his hands over his mouth as he choked out a sob. Everything in him was screaming in fear and regret. Everything that could have gone wrong, had. Jae was back, a haunting on the edges of Seokjin’s memories, reminding him of his own lack of self-control, of his own dark desires, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He had crossed so many lines, heated in the moment and only focused on one thing - Jungkook. He had challenged Namjoon’s authority, which he had promised never to do. He had Scented Jungkook before he was ready, which he had promised never to do.

 

And now Jungkook was in a horrible, dangerous first heat, and Seokjin was powerless to do anything.

 

The snowflakes fell lazily from the sky, drifted farther away by the biting wind.

Chapter Text

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

― Lao Tzu 

 


 

Seokjin sat with his head in his hands, tempted to ignore the sound of footsteps crunching through the snow as they approached, halting in front of him for a long moment.

 

“What the fuck, Seokjin?”

 

He looked up, sniffling a little, and met eyes with Yoongi. Seokjin’s face crumpled, and he looked away, but he could still feel the look of disapproval from the Omega.

 

“Did you put him up to this? Did you tell him to Scent you?”

 

“N-no, I didn’t, Yoongi. I wouldn’t, I mean…” Seokjin sniffed again, hugging his knees to his chest as he stared down at the unsettled snow between their feet. “I mean, I don’t think I did.”

 

Yoongi stared at him for a moment, his voice getting darker. “Hoseok said he saw you two acting suspiciously after Scenting, not long after you arrived. If you’ve been fucking touching him, Seokjin, I swear to god, friends or not, I’ll--”

 

“I haven’t, Yoongi!” Seokjin yelled, covering his eyes and his voice rising in frustration. Touching him  was exactly what he’d been careful to avoid. Until last night, at least.

 

“Then why the fuck was he out there, with your underwear, Scenting it by himself? Have you been fucking with his head, telling him about your Alpha complex? He’s still just a pup, for fuck’s sakes!”

 

“He’s not a pup anymore,” Seokjin said quietly, “But no, I haven’t talked to him about any of it. But now he’s Presented and he found Jae of all people and I just… It’s all so complicated right now.”

 

Hands reached down, grabbing a hold of either side of his face and forcing him to look upwards. The smell of freshly tilled earth seemed to emanate from Yoongi’s hands, even though they were clean, and the tips of his fingertips still carried the softest traces of Jungkook’s Scent. Yoongi was staring hard into Seokjin’s eyes, as though searching for something very specific. Back when Namjoon had first brought Yoongi home for a visit, Yoongi hadn’t liked him one bit, but somewhere between the lines and the infrequent visits and the quiet, trailing talks that went until three in the morning, the two of them had realized they had far more in common than they should have. It was one of the reasons Seokjin had known he could join Namjoon’s pack, a friendship that liked to remained hushed, and faded in and out of their lives as needed. There were things Seokjin could never have admitted aloud, not to Namjoon, his brother. And there were things Yoongi knew the lead Alpha would never really understand.

 

“Seokjin. Do you love him?”

 

His lips parted in awe, staring up at Yoongi. The words were in and of themselves so simplistic, so beautiful. His gut, his heart told him to say yes. But his head, now cautious from its previous wounds, was more hesitant.

 

“I...I think I do. I really, really think I do,” Seokjin’s words sounded thicker as he fought to stay calm, to not choke on a sob. “But after what happened before, I… I dunno. Am I even capable of loving someone? Or will it always come back to my Alpha?”

 

At that, Yoongi gave Seokjin a deep, disapproving frown. “Speaking from personal experience, you’re never gonna know for sure. You’re always going to wonder if it always comes back to biology, bad habits, just being fucking lonely. You’ll wonder if your mate is really happy, or if they’re just putting up with you. That’s how it is for people like us.”

 

Seokjin sighed, and Yoongi laid a hand on his shoulder, squeezing, maybe a bit rougher than necessary.

 

“Why Jungkook?”

 

A hollow sort of laugh escaped Seokjin, his shoulder slumping, dislodging a few of the snowflakes that had been accumulating there, and shifting Yoongi’s hand. “Everything? It’s the strangest thing. I never would have expected it from someone like him. He’s really nothing like anyone I’ve ever met before. He’s so quiet a lot of the time but he can be so playful, he looks up to you all so much, even if he likes to tease you a little. I… I wanna make him happy. I want to be near him, all the time.” He glanced up at Yoongi, a demure look on his face. “Isn’t it...kind of a good sign, though? I can’t lie, even though I was scared shitless at the time for his safety, a part of me felt so relieved, seeing that he was an Omega.”

 

Yoongi hummed, considering for a moment before answering. “I dunno if it makes it a good sign or a bad sign, but either way, you’d better figure things out soon. That isn’t a normal heat.” He tilted his head, sniffing at the air experimentally, his eyes narrowing a little. “And you’re sure you haven’t touched him?”

 

“Well…” Seokjin shuffled a little. “Just the Scenting, but, um…I think I took it too far? Like I--”

 

Yoongi held up a hand to the Alpha, his nose wrinkling. “Ugh, stop. I don’t think I can handle details when it comes to Jungkook. “But you really didn’t touch him? And he’s this bad?”

 

“What do you mean ‘this bad’?”

 

“Seokjin, he’s in there right now, still delirious and in a more intense heat than I’ve ever seen…” Yoongi looked away, his expression hardening. “And...he keeps calling for you.”

 

The hair on the back of Seokjin’s neck rose, his body awash with warmth and self-consciousness as he let what Yoongi said sink in.

 

“W-what?”

 

“Namjoon knows, right? He’s probably going to ask you to help him through the heat. He can’t stay like this much longer, his body just isn’t prepared for it.”

 

“But, what about suppressants? Why can’t he --? I can’t , I--”

 

“You’re not supposed to take those on your first heat. It can fuck you up worse than a Beta being affected by a strong packmate’s hormones. But most first heats don’t start in the middle of fucking winter with him spending hours in the snow like that.” Yoongi sighed. “The thought of you even getting close to him right now makes me want to punch you in the face, to be honest. But I’m just telling you what Namjoon is likely to do.”

 

“I… I didn’t want it this way. I just.... Part of me is really jealous of everyone.” Seokjin stared at the ground again, looking ashamed and angry at the same time.

 

“What? Why the fuck..?”

 

“It just seems like everyone else has got their shit together. Namjoon and Kiara are like, the picture-perfect couple, Taehyung and Jimin are so… I don’t know . “ He threw his hands up in exasperation. “And then there’s you and Hoseok.”

 

“Me and Hoseok?” Yoongi scoffed, “I think you must have hit your head on a tree or something, because me and Hoseok are not having the most rosy of times.”

 

“Yeah, but everyone already just knows you two will work things out eventually, once you get your head out of your ass and forgive him.” Seokjin rolled his eyes, leaning his chin in the palm of his hand and looking up at the Omega, who was shifting weight from one foot to the other. “You two are like soulmates. It’s kind of disgusting.”

 

“Soulmates?” Yoongi seemed to almost choke on the word, as though he had heard it before and it was coming back to haunt him unexpectedly.

 

“You know he didn’t mean to challenge your worth as an Omega. Hoseok of all people treats others like they’re made of glass. I’ve only seen him angry once. And he’s able to be so gentle with you...like, any idiot can see he loves you more than anything.” Seokjin sighed again. “I admire him a lot, as an Alpha.’

 

Yoongi stood still for a moment, turning what Seokjin had said over and over in his mind. “I’m gonna go...I have to, uh, go check up on Taehyung. Go talk with Namjoon and see if there’s something you can do.”

 

“Okay…” Seokjin sounded dejected, like a world-weary hot air balloon, drooping listlessly over a grassy hill with no energy left to fly.

 

“And I still don’t forgive you for touching him,” Yoongi started to say as Seokjin stood up.

 

“I told you, I didn’t!” the Alpha snapped defensively. Yoongi pursed his lips together in a bit of a smirk.

 

“No, but I have a feeling once you get your head out of your ass, you will. And to think the only reason Hoseok was okay with our movie nights was because Jungkook was there as an oblivious chaperone.”

 

Seokjin started to splutter as Yoongi headed toward the Main Hall, waving nonchalantly over his shoulder while the Alpha frantically called out after him. “I...we...it’s not even like that!”

 

“You’re the one that said he’s not a pup anymore, and you’re the one falling in love with him. Don’t give me your half-assed bullshit and woo him properly. The kid deserves to be treated right.”

 

~~~~~

 

“Jimin, he’s gonna be just fine,” Hoseok reassured the younger Alpha, patting the back of his head gently. The Beta had been moved to his own bed, and Jimin was sitting at the foot of it, watching him sleep with a worried look on his face. “He just needs to rest.”

 

“I know, but… he had to go through so much today…” Jimin sighed. “He even fought an Alpha, without even hesitating. It makes me feel bad…”

 

“Bad? Why would it make you feel bad?” Hoseok’s voice dropped into gentleness, mirroring his physical movements as he dropped down to kneel in front of Jimin, who was pouting at the floorboards. Hoseok ran a hand through Jimin’s bangs, carding them back and watching them flip stubbornly back into place, brushing into his eyes.

 

“Well, it’s just that… I haven’t been a very good Alpha so far. Or even a good wolf. I’m not very big or as strong as the others, I don’t have a strong nose like Kiara and I’m not a very good hunter like Yoongi…” Jimin looked over at Taehyung's gently sleeping form. “But the moment Taehyung needed to protect Jungkook, he just did it. The most important thing I’ve done as an Alpha is Present, and that was a disaster… So what if..what if Taehyung is meant to be an Alpha? What if he’d make a better Alpha than me, but he’s giving it up so that we can be together?”

 

“Oh, Jiminie,” Hoseok let out a gentle little chuckle, leaning in to nuzzle against the boy’s nose. “You’ve only been an Alpha for a little while, you can’t possibly have everything figured out yet, so give yourself some time! And Taehyung did very well with Jungkook, yes, and he did exactly what Namjoon told him to do. It was brave of him, but don’t you think any one of us would have done the same?”

 

Jimin thought about that for a moment, a soft, cute pinkness to his cheeks as he reluctantly nodded, unable to find any counterarguments to that.

 

“You need to learn to be more patient with yourself. And trust that Taehyung knows what he wants.” Hoseok leaned back, watching Jimin’s eyes for a long moment, reading into him and enjoying the smell of peppermint mingled with his own vanilla scent, reminding him of Christmas. “Relationships are all about learning how to compromise. That means learning how to give and how to take, it has to always go both ways.’

 

Jimin nodded again, looking shier this time, and Hoseok chuckled.

 

“And I’m sorry, for, you know, doubting Taehyung so much. I guess a part of me was still stuck on how most other packs work, not ours. We do things a little differently, and I think--”

 

They both looked up as the door to the cabin opened, and Yoongi stood in the doorway. He said nothing, but he met Hoseok’s eyes squarely in a way that he hadn’t for a long time, since even months before their fight, and Hoseok’s mouth dropped open a little in surprise. The smell of earth wafted in, calling to him. It’s time.

 

Hoseok smiled, “And I think it’s really nice.” Hoseok stood, kissing Jimin on the forehead. “You keep an eye out for him, but don’t forget to eat, or Kiara will kick you later, okay?”

 

“Okay, and thanks, Hoseok.” Jimin sighed, slumping forward with all the dramatic weightiness that came with young love’s struggles, resting his chin in his palm and staring at his Beta.

 

By the time Hoseok was at the door, Yoongi was already slipping out, leading the way to the empty second cabin without looking back towards the younger. Hoseok widened his steps to catch up, glancing over at the Omega in question.

 

“Where are Namjoon and Kiara?”

 

“They’re bickering with Seokjin about what to do with Jungkook.”

 

“Wait, what does Seokjin have to do with it?”

 

“I’ll explain later,” Yoongi said, a trace of impatient bossiness to his voice and mannerisms as he opened the cabin door and waited for Hoseok to step inside. “Now isn’t the time.”

 

The little shiver of nervousness that ran through Hoseok’s body, waking him up to the little insinuations he was now able to read from Yoongi’s subtleties, was something that had always made him feel a little afraid, but simultaneously a little comforted. It was something words didn’t quite have a proper explanation for, but luckily, Yoongi didn’t need an explanation.

 

Once they were inside, Yoongi shut and locked the door, flicking on the light and moving to close the curtains.

 

“Yoongi, look, I just wanna say I’m really sorry for what I said, I didn’t mean to suggest that Omegas were anything less than an Alpha…”

 

The Omega had his back to Hoseok, who was standing in the middle of the floor and watching Yoongi move around him. He bent to lean into the lower bunk, his bottom sticking out just in front of Hoseok. The Alpha looked at it, blinking for a second before licking his lips.

 

“I was just speaking from the experience of what I’ve seen other Betas do in other packs, you know. Not that it makes it okay, but… that’s why I -- Oh.”

 

Yoongi turned around, a long, thin coil of hemp rope in his hands, neatly wound. It had been awhile since Hoseok had last seen the ropes, the ones that Yoongi usually hid at the bottom of his pile of ‘necessary’ tools and emergency kits he packed around with him. Hoseok couldn’t deny the way his throat went dry, his heart rate increasing as he stared fixedly at the way Yoongi’s thick, masculine hands curled around the coils, one fingernail prodding into the threads and gently playing with them.

 

“My mind has already forgiven you, Hoseok. It had as soon as I was away from all those angry hormones and all the bickering. I know you didn’t mean it the way it sounded, but it still hurt, hearing those words from your lips, and it just sent me to back to all the fucktards who thought they could get away with it. So my mind knows better, Hoseok. You don’t need to explain yourself any further than your apology. But words only go so far, and you know it. Convincing my body that it’s over, that we’re back to the balance we had, is another thing entirely.” Yoongi’s fingers gripped down on the rope, squeezing it roughly, and he pursed his lips with seriousness.”Are you still willing to prove that?”

 

“Yes,” Hoseok breathed, barely letting Yoongi finish the question.

 

“You’re sure? This isn’t because you just want to make it all better and make it go away? I never said you had to indulge in my quirks, Hoseok.”

 

“But I want to,” Hoseok said, and tears were stinging at his eyes as he swallowed heavily, relief at the reconciliation hitting him like a tidal wave. “I really want to. Please, Yoongi, do what you need to do to feel safe. I’ll still be here.”

 

Yoongi nodded. It was a question he had put to Hoseok a hundred different times. The first time,he had been so overwhelmed and scared, his choked sobs making it almost too difficult for Hoseok to understand what he was saying. But now, his expression was just neutral, passive as he asked, “And the safe word?”

 

“Pineapple,” Hoseok said. He remembered giggling over the word when they had first discussed it, both embarrassed and unsure. It had made sense at the time as they had argued (well, playfully bickered) over pizza toppings on a rare night alone in the pack house. But now he said it while holding out his wrists to the black-haired male, smiling softly as he asked, “Should I stay dressed?”

 

“Leave your shirt on, but take off your boxers.” Yoongi said in cool command. It wasn’t the eerie, blood-shifting power of an Alpha voice, but it was still plenty spine-tingling for Hoseok, who peeled his jacket off and quickly tossed it aside, before lifting his leg and pulling off his pants and boxers. His black t-shirt still smelled faintly of the fire from the Main Hall, and it didn’t take long before Yoongi was rushing forward, slipping the ropes down around one arm so he could trail his hands up Hoseok’s t-shirt. The Alpha hissed, wanting to instinctively grab Yoongi’s wrists but keeping them obediently at his sides. He knew this was Yoongi’s turn to take, it was his moment of power, his ritual. Hoseok allowed him to touch as he liked, even as he tucked his head beneath the folds of Hoseok’s shirt and licked and nibbled at the dark, raised nipples, causing Hoseok to hiss, his knees a little less sure. His body wanted him to throw Yoongi back, pin him down. But his mind wanted it deeper, harder, darker. It was a shadowy realm he thought would never be understood by someone else, until he met Yoongi.

 

The Omega expertly started to twist and roll the rope into an intricate shape, one hand firmly bending Hoseok’s arms until they were stretched down in front of him. Then, Yoongi’s hidden art resurfaced. Yoongi looped the ropes around, down, above, counter-clockwise and in figure eights, tugging it through like an unconventionally complicated shoe lacing. The skin of Hoseok’s arms became pressed inward, looking puffed and swollen around the tightness of the ropes as Yoongi created knots in between that made Hoseok think of flowers. The expanse between his arms, a V shaped cobweb that was a shield, a canvas for his chest, was beautiful. Yoongi had Hoseok’s thin, bony wrists looped delicately but firmly, a thick-set knot in between that reminded Hoseok of a waterwheel, holding his wrists about three inches apart. Subconsciously he flexed his fingers, twisted his hand around and testing out the tightness of the ropes, feeling their restriction.

 

The fabric bunched under the tightening ropes, curling almost defensively as Yoongi’s deft hands started to knot back up into the top with a thick, stiff section that almost braided its way up Hoseok’s chest and turned into a collar that wrapped around his neck more times than Hoseok could count. The rope’s embrace was broad, firm, and with very little yield, and Hoseok found he couldn’t lower his chin anymore, the hemp restricting his movement and making every breath, every swallow a show of resistance against the constricting wraps.

 

As Yoongi tied him, Hoseok chose to watch the Omega’s face. Yoongi’s brows were drawn together, a little bump forming between that Hoseok could only barely catch glimpses of when he moved and his bangs shifted a little to the side. There was a slight jutting out of his thin lower lip, and occasionally his tongue snuck out to trace the top lip from one side to the other in a slow, thought-filled moment. Yoongi’s hands worked expertly - these were ties he had practiced for hours until the pads of his fingers had been covered in calluses, little cuts and abrasive spots dotting his knuckles. The rope he now held was treated for this specific use and was soft, almost impossibly soft considering how iron-clad it held Hoseok’s arms to his chest. Hoseok’s expression relaxed and warmed as he watched Yoongi work, and a little smile played on his lips as Yoongi’s fingertips brushed up against his skin. His chin was tilted up a little as the back of Yoongi’s hand pushed against his jawline, and Hoseok’s eyes fluttered closed. Heavily he swallowed as Yoongi reached around and tucked the last of the rope in, stepping back to admire his work.

 

“You look beautiful, Hoseok,” he said softly, two broad, squarish fingers reaching out and brushing up against the plumped up skin between the rope ties. “Can you try to shift it for me? Does it pinch anywhere?”

 

Obediently, Hoseok tried to move his wrists back and forth, up and down, and attempted to shift his arms in a circular motion. He overestimated the give, tugging too hard too suddenly and ended up half-choking himself, since the collar was attached to the center of the knots, and he coughed. Yoongi instantly stepped forward, lifting Hoseok’s arms back into the permissible area and waiting until Hoseok’s coughing had ended. Then, he went and grabbed the pillows and thick blankets from off his bed, laying them out on the narrow floor space. Yoongi always seemed to run colder than Hoseok, and he usually brought at least two blankets if they had room for it. Hoseok remembered that they had used the faded green one last time, too. He wondered if he would still be able to smell the ghostings of their Scents.

 

“Lay down,” Yoongi ordered, pressing down gently on Hoseok’s shoulder. Carefully, so as to not tumble over, Hoseok went onto his knees, noting with the skip of his heartbeat that his face passed precariously, purposefully in front of Yoongi’s crotch as he lowered himself to the ground. Yoongi took hold of Hoseok’s ropes and leaned him carefully back until he was laying up against a soft pile of pillows and blankets. The chill of the room crept across his barren lower half, and Hoseok bit at his lip as Yoongi ran his hands up and down Hoseok’s legs, appreciating each curve with the pads of his fingers. Hoseok shivered a little as Yoongi bent and unbent one of his legs, pressing his fingertips in the crease behind Hoseok’s knee as he folded it completely over his hand, then unbent it, repeating the movement several times. Gently, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to the inside of Hoseok’s calf, his left hand supporting Hoseok by the ankle and his right hand slipping up, up, up the thigh and then across Hoseok’s hardening cock, brushing lightly, tantalizingly over the warm, sensitive skin. There was a difference in Yoongi’s posture and gaze, whenever he went into this headspace, this in-between zone where the rules didn’t matter and in between shaking breaths the two of them rewrote a new set of definitions for the words ‘instinct.’ Hoseok liked to see the subtle change, he liked the slight hardness of Yoongi’s jaw, the possessive glare in his eyes, challenging him, daring him with a look. He liked the way Yoongi’s hands became so masculine, every movement deliberate like a dance. He was sure Yoongi didn’t know, but this headspace had a bit of an ironic side effect - Hoseok knew Yoongi was fully in when he could see the telltale blue Omega glow around Yoongi’s irises, gleaming coolly and shimmering with dominance. The best part, though, the part that had Hoseok trembling every time, was the change in Yoongi’s voice. It went impossibly deeper, and seemed to vibrate into Hoseok’s very bones, even when he wasn’t touching the Alpha, and it crackled and hissed in between the long pauses, a touch-and-go pattern that was so uniquely Yoongi that no one could quite recreate it.

 

“Look how beautiful you are, baby,” Yoongi purred, rubbing the heel of his palm against Hoseok’s reddening erection, making Hoseok gasp in pained surprise. In the next moment, Yoongi twisted his wrist around the bony, tanned ankle, causing it to burn and sting. Hoseok cried out, his head wanting to tilt back, mouth open as he gasped for air, but the ropes around his neck, the elaborate, thick collar, held him back, and he gaped uselessly. “You’re a work of art now, with all these pretty ropes holding you down. You’re so beautiful, it makes me want to make you scream.”

 

“Y-yoongi…” Hoseok breathed. He was always so quick to melt into pliancy in Yoongi’s rough but gentle hands, but it wasn’t enough. He needed Yoongi to go deeper.

 

“What’s your safe word?” Yoongi said.

 

“Pineapple,” Hoseok said quickly, too easily, proving that he needed Yoongi to go further. Yoongi nodded, waiting a moment before he twisted at Hoseok’s ankle again, his fingernails digging in to add a little scrape to the burning edge, and he leaned downward to suckle at the soft, sensitive skin at the inside of Hoseok’s thin thighs. He let his back curl up a little, lifting his torso away from the blankets, his bound hands lifted upwards as if reaching towards Yoongi himself.

 

“You embarrassed me, out in front of all the pups,” Yoongi said. Only this wasn’t the normal Yoongi, the daily one he teased and bickered playfully with, who was ticklish behind his ears and slept curled into a little endearing ball. This was the Headspace Yoongi, the one who would lie through his teeth to get the reaction he wanted, the one who knew exactly all the things Hoseok had ever felt guilty or ashamed about, and exploited it with elegance and strength. It was a strange sensation, like hearing the voice in his head out loud, hearing his worst fears confirmed. “We’re supposed to be one of the senior couples, but now they’ll think it’s okay to let Omegas be treated like shit, because of what you said.”

 

“I didn’t mean to,” Hoseok mumbled, frowning. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

 

“But you did ,” Yoongi hissed, “You did babe. You can’t take back what you said. I’ll bet you meant every word of it, too. You think Alphas are superior? You think you’ve got some sort of magic dick that gives you power over me?” He ground his palm into Hoseok’s arousal again, making the boy hiss and wriggle his hips back and forth. “Well, look at your ‘magic dick’ now, it’s under my weak little Omega palm. Does it feel weak, Hoseok? What does my Omega hand feel like to you, right now?”

 

“S-strong,” Hoseok managed, “It feels strong and powerful. I’m sorry.”

 

“Your power only reaches so far, you see? All power can be taken away, if you let it. And you always let me take it away for you.” Yoongi folded up Hoseok’s leg again, until his heel rested up against his plump buttock, folded like a broken wing, and Yoongi reached around for another length of prepared rope. He tied more simply this time, anchoring Hoseok with both heels bound to the bottom of the heavy metal bunk beds. His legs were spread wide, his cock twitching with anticipation and excitement beneath his loosely clasped hands, the edges of his bonds rested across the bunched up folds of his t-shirt and leaving everything below cold and exposed for Yoongi to stare at unblinkingly.

 

He ran a hand wherever he wished, now that Hoseok had been rendered incapable of sitting up, moving his arms or even moving his head as he wished. Now that his legs were spread, he had Hoseok as vulnerable as possible. He shivered, and Yoongi resumed the honey-flavored laying out of Hoseok’s mind, his fingers now exploring the veiny underside of Hoseok’s half-hard cock, the warm crease inside his thigh, then moving around to grip a handful of his round bottom.

 

“You like being the Alpha when you think my guard is down. You never admit it to me, but you like the feeling. You could have even used your Alpha voice on me, when I wasn’t paying attention. Little things, little ways to get what you want. To take what you want. After all, what is respect when you can possess a little Omega, right?”

 

“No, I don’t, I respect you…” He swallowed roughly, the rope-collar biting into his adam’s apple. “I respect you, Omega.”

 

“You act so strong, so carefree for the pups. You make them think you’re so motherly and sweet. Now that they’re growing, does it scare you? Does it make you want to challenge them, before they can challenge you? They’re threats to you, after all, aren’t they?” Yoongi leaned down until he was on his belly, resting one of Hoseok’s thighs over his shoulder, his face pressed up against the dark, velvety inner thigh curve. His breath was hot up against Hoseok’s balls, and Hoseok started to struggle with his arm bonds, trying to find some way to escape the tingling, the itching sensation. “Baby, your power is so, so limited. And your strength only lasts so long. But look at you now. You’re no all-powerful Alpha. You’re under my power right now. And you like it, don’t you?” Yoongi leaned a little forward, leaving butterfly-touch kisses that had Hoseok wanting to weep, his eyes squeezing shut. “You like playing the weak one sometimes, don’t you?”

 

“Yes, I do, please, Omega.”

 

“You challenged my authority, and now you have to be tied up. I can’t let a wild dog do as he wishes,” Yoongi growled. “Open your mouth, Alpha.”

 

Hoseok did, not daring to open his eyes as three of Yoongi’s fingers slipped between his lips. They tasted salty, bitter, and the scent of earth seemed to drown him from the inside out. He suckled on the fingers as Yoongi laughed at him, mockingly, “You look like a real baby. All needy and whimpering. But you’re a beautiful baby. My baby, for tonight.”

 

At that, Hoseok wanted to speak, wanted to tell him it didn’t have to be just for tonight. That he wanted to be with Yoongi forever, because Yoongi could make him cry in a way that no one else could, could make him release and let go of his unspoken terrors that no one even thought he possessed behind a sunshine smile and warm embraces. Yoongi knew his dark side, his needy, selfish side - and loved him nonetheless. But Hoseok couldn’t speak, because Yoongi was pressing his fingers even further down Hoseok’s throat, making him gag and splutter a little while Yoongi wrapped his fingers around Hoseok’s member, rubbing the pre-cum up and down the length with care until he had enough to start the up and down movements, squeezing it rather roughly as his fingers tickled at the warm softness of Hoseok’s throat. Hoseok was gagging, choking, tears stinging at the edges of his eyes and the veins of his neck strained and visible over the top edge of the rope-collar.

 

“Alpha, look at you, crying for me so prettily. Are you really sorry for what you said, or was all of it just a scheme to get us here, right now? Did you really want me to fuck you over that badly?”

 

Hoseok couldn’t answer, so he just whimpered. Part of him almost believed Yoongi’s lies could be the truth. The pain felt like relief, and he could feel that tense twisting in his gut heating up and intensifying, and his back arched gracefully off the blankets, pressing him up towards Yoongi’s hand, begging for more even as he could barely breathe. Yoongi removed his hands, moving out of the limited view Hoseok’s rope-collar would allow, and then came back. He leaned in against Hoseok’s chest, wriggling over to straddle the Alpha, and he could feel that Yoongi had removed all his clothing, his skin feeling cool and strangely soft.

 

Push me farther, Yoongi , Hoseok begged in his mind. Punish me so I’ll know you’ve actually forgiven me.

 

“You’re fucked up,” Yoongi lied, and the sound of the words on the air, for all the world, was the color of truth to Hoseok. “You’re so selfish and twisted, Alpha. How dare you cross the line, how dare you even fucking suggest that Alphas are better, when you, my Alpha, are sitting so happily helpless below me?” Yoongi tugged back Hoseok’s T-shirt, kissing at the collarbone gently, a sharp contrast to the sound of his words. “You like giving me all the power. You don’t want to take responsibility.”

 

That’s right. Because under your hand, I don’t have to be responsible for anything, or anyone. Oh, thank god. Tears were streaming from Hoseok’s eyes now, trailing down his temples and into his hair. Yoongi leaned down and pressed his mouth to Hoseok’s, teeth clattering against teeth and tongues lashing out almost angrily at one another. Hoseok tried to lean upwards, to taste more deeply into Yoongi’s mouth, but his binds wouldn’t let him, his bound hands still helplessly tied against his stomach, fingertips brushing against the cock Yoongi was still pumping mercilessly. Hoseok twisted his wrists around as much as he could, until his fingers found the edges of Yoongi’s own hot member, dangling just out of reach and thus far left unattended. Yoongi physically jolted a little at the contact, and he blinked at Hoseok, who flushed.

 

“You sly bastard,” Yoongi chuckled. “I didn’t tell you you could fucking touch me.”

 

Then punish me properly for it, you cocky asshole.

 

And the punishment came. A slap resounded into the empty cabin, along with Hoseok’s audible gasp, and his cheek was quickly reddening. He let out a sigh, feeling as though a tension in the room - no, between the two of them as a whole - had finally lifted. His body suddenly went limp underneath Yoongi, his posture only held by the bonds as he blinked slowly up at the Omega. The pain was a relief. The pain had wiped his mind clear, even if just for a brief moment. It was heavenly.

 

Yoongi didn’t ask him for the safe word, not aloud, but he stared at Hoseok for a moment in such a way that Hoseok knew he was asking. When Hoseok said nothing, the headspace mask folded its way unevenly back across Yoongi’s face, like flames slowly eating across a page and turning it black.

 

“Now lie still and let me fucking ride you.” He leaned away from Hoseok’s lips, repositioning himself over Hoseok and ripping the condom open with his teeth. The long moments where Hoseok had to patiently, painfully wait for Yoongi to prepare were some of the longest and most beautiful. Then, Yoongi was roughly forcing the straining member into his entrance, crying out a drawn out curse until his ass was rested against Hoseok’s hips like he had always belonged there. He sat still for a minute, his expression taut, and Hoseok was helpless to do anything but sit still and watch, waiting. He had no control, no ability to comfort or lead the way. It was all up to Yoongi, and he trusted Yoongi to set the pace.

 

After a moment, Yoongi planted his palms against Hoseok’s shoulders, digging his fingernails into the skin there. He leaned forward onto his knees, lifting his ass up and then slamming it roughly back down without warning. Both of them crumpled at their centers like a synchronized boomerang, half-folding towards each other, pulled by some invisible string that drew them towards each other. Yoongi did it again, and Hoseok was gasping, his head spinning from his inability to properly take deep breaths in the rope-collar. Yoongi himself was sweating heavily, his hips moving faster and faster. As twisted as they were, as needy as they both were, Hoseok couldn’t deny that he loved being inside of Yoongi. He loved that it was on their own terms, not anyone else’s, and he loved that sensation that he had restored the balance between them, tearing down Hoseok’s build up in his mind until it all crumbled like a terribly built rickety tower.  Yoongi panted, growling as he grabbed handfuls of Hoseoks hair and yanked his head painfully forward, crushing him into a sloppy kiss that ended with Yoongi biting down a little too hard on Hoseok’s lip as the Alpha gasped for air. He could feel it bruise, could feel the little lump of pain forming there as Yoongi’s cries lost their huskier, deeper sound and got more frantic, more high pitched as he was reduced to desperate whimpers. Hoseok could only take advantage of the little bit of leverage he had in his hips, trying to thrust up and into Yoongi, pressing in deeper and making the Omega shout, “Fuck!”

 

Hoseok couldn’t quite see straight, the hands tugging roughly on his hair sending piercing pain into his skull, and Yoongi was half falling forward as he pressed his hot cheek against Hoseok’s, rasping into his ear, “ My Alpha .”

 

The Alpha growled, the sound morphing into a scream of frustration, and Hoseok’s hips were mindlessly jolting upward, almost dislodging Yoongi from his lap as he came, and Yoongi let out a series of little half-pants, half-cries as he fell limply against Hoseok’s chest. He was quivering in short little shuddery bursts, and Hoseok realized that the Omega had come completely untouched. Obviously they had both been more wound up than either of them had expected.

 

Hoseok felt himself finally spiraling downwards from the eye of the tornado, somehow gently dropped back down onto the makeshift bed as Yoongi started dotting kisses against Hoseok’s jawline. The blue in his eyes was fading, but more importantly, the Headspace Yoongi was being folded neatly away, tucked into a private part of their love until the day it was needed again.

 

“Hobi, baby, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any of what I said.”

 

“I know,” Hoseok breathed, his blinks slow and tired, his hair matted to his forehead in thick, sweat-filled chunks.

 

“You’re so good to me,” Yoongi whimpered, his hand gently caressing the reddened cheek, then continuing his kissing trail up and down Hoseok’s face, going to place one even against both closed eyelids, his lips soft. “You’re so respectful of me, you’re a wonderful, selfless Alpha. I’m so lucky to have you, you know. My beautiful Hoseok.” As he spoke, Yoongi’s hands fumbled for the edges of the rope, tugging them free and quickly dropping the ties away, making Hoseok sigh and fall limply against the blankets. Dutifully, Yoongi rubbed the feeling back into every limb, running his practiced fingertips over every crease and spot the ropes had pulled, pressing feather-light kisses to his throat. “Beautiful, strong big-hearted Hoseok.  I’d do anything for you. Anything.”

 

“Then love me,” Hoseok breathed, smiling up at Yoongi, his polar opposite, his soulmate. He entwined his fingers into Yoongi’s pale ones, and he sighed, lifting their clasped hands so he could press a kiss to Yoongi’s knuckles. “Just love me unconditionally.”

 

“I already do, I promise,” Yoongi leaned down, touching his nose to Hoseok’s, their foreheads leaned together, the scent of earth and vanilla mixing. It didn’t sound like a mix that would work, two things that were never deliberately placed together, but it was the most lovely, homely smell in the world to Hoseok. The world’s way of doing things had never suited either of them, anyways. Hoseok wrapped his arms around his Omega, pulling him close and weakly tugging at one of the blankets to cover them both. “I want to be your mate, Hoseok.”

 

Hoseok smiled up at the ceiling, then closed his eyes, blissed out to the sound, the sureness in the man’s voice. “Of course. I know you wanted to do it on our anniversary, but… I’m really okay with any day, you know. As long as we can finally be official mates.” He nuzzled up against Yoongi’s pale neck, quietly cuddling as well as giving the Omega a gentle Scenting. He practically purred as Yoongi reached up to run his hand through Hoseok’s hair.

 

“Let’s talk to Namjoon about it tomorrow. Together.” Yoongi said. Hoseok nodded, exhausted and sighing happily against his Omega’s chest.

 

Chapter Text

Desiring another person is perhaps the most risky endeavor of all. As soon as you want somebody—really want him—it is as though you have taken a surgical needle and sutured your happiness to the skin of that person, so that any separation will now cause a lacerating injury.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert

 


 

 

For Jungkook, everything was hazy and far away. He felt like he was floating, the world softened at the edges and his body either unable to move or utterly unmotivated to do so; he wasn’t quite sure which. The fuzzy noises of voices were over him, harsh against the dull ache throughout his whole body, sending jolts of pain to his groin and the small of his back, making him whimper again.

 

“If the fever doesn’t break soon...well…” The smell of wood fire was slamming up against his senses, the strong presence of his lead Alpha in the midst of stress.

 

“There has to be something !” At the sound of Seokjin’s voice, Jungkook let out a little whimper, shifting in his half-consciousness.

 

“You know exactly what something has to be done!”

 

“I can’t , Namjoon, this isn’t how I want to do things.”

 

“This isn’t about your ego, Jin, this is about Jungkook. It’s your fault things got this bad, so get your head out of your ass and do something.”

 

Jungkook faded out of awareness again, unaware of how long he was sleeping before he woke up again to the gentle smell of soap. He smiled, turning his head to sink into the cloud of it more, the welcoming relief. He felt Seokjin’s presence again, a hand pressed to his sweat-covered cheek, and he opened his eyes, but everything looked blurry. He could just make out the shape of Seokjin’s face, his expression one undiscernible blob. But he knew it was him. That hand on his cheek was so familiar.

 

“Jungkookie?” Seokjin’s voice sounded so lovely, and Jungkook remembered by feeling, rather than a cohesive thought, that Seokjin was the one protecting him. He sighed, letting his eyes shut again happily with that knowledge. Seokjin would let him sleep. Seokjin would take care of him, would protect him until he felt well again, he was sure of it. Meanwhile, he was being asked a question, one that sounded important, but he had no energy to answer it.

 

Whatever, Seokjin, I don’t care. Just let me sleep!

 

A warm golden light seemed to press in on his eyelids, making him scrunch up his face slightly.

 

He felt the cool pressing wetness of a rag against his forehead, pushed down slightly by an unknown hand. Sweat was still forming on his brow, and he still felt gross, but he was warm and whatever he was laying in felt soft and comfortable. Jungkook groaned, not willing to open his eyes yet and face the world. There was a gentle shushing at his side.

 

Jungkook knew that hours had passed, and he knew that he was still deep into his heat. He whimpered a little as the rag was shifted a little on his brow.

 

“Seokjin?” he mumbled, his eyes still shut and his hand blindly reaching out, seeking the arm attached to the hand holding the rag. The movement against his forehead stilled, as though surprised, and his clammy hand brushed against someone’s cool one for a brief moment before it was pulled away.

 

“Yes, Jungkook?” Seokjin said quietly.

 

Jungkook paused, his lips slightly parted, and he knew a little smile was on his face. He forced his eyelids to open so he could see the Alpha leaning in at Jungkook’s side, wearing a grey turtleneck and looking quite domestic and soft as he frowned at Jungkook in concern. His lips and cheeks looked a little more flushed than they normally did, a little warmer and pinker than Jungkook was used to.

 

Jungkook realized Seokjin’s hand was laying on the bed next to him, and without thinking, he reached out and gripped the Alpha’s hand in his own, entwining their fingers. Instantly, Jungkook felt as though his body relaxed, feeling cooler and less stressed against the Alpha’s touch. But although it made him feel better , it didn’t make him feel good , and he wasn't satisfied yet.

 

He frowned, letting out a crackled whisper. “Why hasn’t it stopped yet?”

 

Seokjin bit his bottom lip, looking away from Jungkook and looking ashamed. “I-- We don’t know, Jungkook. This is the worst heat any of us has seen. We… we think it may have been because you were left alone in the snow so long.”

 

Jungkook frowned, his brow furrowing deeply. That didn’t seem to be quite a good enough explanation to him.  A petulant, child-like irritation bubbled up in his belly, and he tugged at Seokjin’s hand. Thinking he wanted him to let go, Seokjin started to disentangle their fingers, only for Jungkook to squeeze tighter.

 

“Seokjin, fix it.”

 

The Alpha choked a little, coughing and thudding his fist against his chest to help himself breathe, an obvious redness to his neck and cheeks. “W-what?!”

 

Jungkook pouted more deeply, letting his voice break and crackle as he attempted to whine pitifully. “I said fix it . Make it go away. Isn’t that an Alpha’s job?”

 

“Well, y-yes, sometimes. But that’s usually only for, you know…?” He stared at Jungkook, a meaningful raise to his eyebrows. Jungkook just glared back, refusing to answer him. “Um, I assumed Hoseok and the others already explained to you about how, um, mating and things work, right?”

 

“Seokjin,” Jungkook said quietly, “I may not have grown up in a pack but I’m not a pup.”

 

“You say that like you weren’t technically a pup just a few days ago, you little asshole..” Seokjin shot back automatically. “And you’re still so… I don’t know… innocent.”

 

Jungkook fell back deeper into the pillows under his head for a moment, staring up into Seokjin’s face and thinking back to the dreams that had been haunting him. “I’m… I’m not so innocent, Seokjin.”

 

At that, Seokjin raised an eyebrow, and the smell of soap seemed to get thicker in the air, until Jungkook thought he might be almost able to taste it. Seokjin was staring at him, unblinking, and then suddenly he flushed and moved to stand.

 

“I should go tell Kiara and Namjoon and the others that you’re awake. They’ve all been worried, so--”

 

“No! Don’t leave me again…” Jungkook whimpered, gripping as tightly as he could to Seokjin’s hand, anchoring him to the bed. Seokjin stared at their tangled fingers as though utterly perplexed. “Stay, please? It feels better when you’re near me.”

 

Seokjin lifted his eyes to Jungkook’s, the turbulence that had been clouding his eyes clearing away into an almost childlike wonder. “It does? Like…? Wait, how does it feel better?”

“I dunno, when you hold my hand the heat doesn’t feel as bad. Less achy. Even when you found us in the woods, as soon as you got near, it... I couldn’t even talk, before.” Jungkook considered for a moment, blinking in thought. He was now almost coherent, almost normal. He hadn’t slicked up in the last few minutes while talking to Seokjin, despite the headiness of his Alpha scent. He still felt that telltale clammy, feverishness, and he was still aching with that need from his core, but it was - for the moment - tolerable. “Wait, did you do something? Why does it feel so much better now?”

 

Seokjin flushed deeply, turning his face away from Jungkook. “I just Scented you again, to help calm you down. Your fever was so high it was dangerous, and the Alpha hormones can help… I didn’t do anything weird, I promise.”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook looked around the cabin, seeing that it was empty. “Where is everyone else?”

 

Again, the Alpha bit his lip, this time even looking a bit angry. “There was… a bit of a fall-out… Namjoon seems to think I’m the best person to help you through this, but I don’t think--”

 

“Seokjin,” Jungkook said calmly. “I want you to help me through the heat.” Without further ado, he tugged and wriggled, using his weight until Seokjin finally gave in and crawled into the bed, laying down at Jungkook’s side. Jungkook tugged the blankets loose so that he could shift up against Seokjin’s side, pressing his cheek up against his broad chest and hooking his ankle over the Alpha’s calf. He felt him stiffen, surprised by Jungkook’s forwardness, but Jungkook just took Seokjin’s arm and wrapped it around his shoulders. The weightiness on his body was comforting, and it was as if Seokjin’s skin sapped out the heat from his body, replacing it with coolness, with relaxation. He felt safe and protected there, underneath Seokjin’s arm, pressed up against him. He decided in that moment that a table-fort just didn’t quite compare. “There,” he sighed, “That’s much better.”

 

“Are you…” Seokjin licked his lips. “Are you sure you don’t want one of the others? Like Yoongi or Namjoon?”

 

“No, I only want you.”

 

The finality in his voice seemed to have a profound effect on Seokjin, who clenched his eyes shut as though pained.

 

“Seokjin…” Jungkook said quietly, squeezing the Alpha’s hand. “You want to help me too, don’t you?”

 

“Of course…” Seokjin answered quickly. He turned his head away from Jungkook, taking in a shaky breath before saying lowly, “But I don’t want to stay just because your Omega wants me to, you know? It’s...it’s complicated.”

 

“Seokjin, you know I went out into the woods to Scent you.” At those words, Seokjin flinched, a redness forming on the back of his neck that crept up from the collar of the gray sweater.”That was me testing my Omega, in a way.” He tugged at Seokjin’s hand, whimpering a little for sympathy. “But I already knew what I wanted. Me , not my Omega.”

 

“How can you be so sure of that?” Seokjin’s question didn’t sound accusatory, more genuinely curious, and he looked back to meet Jungkook’s eyes again at last.

 

“I just am,” Jungkook said, staring up into Seokjin’s face evenly. His eyes were dark, eyelashes fluttering up against his thick, long bangs. The traces of blue hovering around the edges of his irises seemed to deepen, pulling Seokjin down into them and rendering him incapable of turning away. “Like right now, you make my heat feel better, yes. But even without my heat, I’d feel better with you right here.” His hand reached up and gripped at the fabric of Seokjin’s sweater, bunching the material up under his palm, his knuckles able to feel the soft firmness of Seokjin’s bare chest underneath. He leaned his head forward, pressing his forehead against Seokjin’s chin, feeling the slight wetness of his mouth against skin as he inhaled Seokjin’s Scent.

 

“Then..why did you stop Scenting me, Jungkook?” Seokjin whispered, his voice cracking a little bit with emotion. Jungkook had been distracted by his own inner turmoil the last few weeks, but he was a bit surprised to hear just how deeply Seokjin had seemed to be affected by the absence. “I thought I’d done something to make you mad at me, or distrust me…”

 

Jungkook thought for a minute, working his bottom lip with his teeth as Seokjin’s hot breath continued across his skin. Eventually, he murmured, “Because I felt guilty.”

 

“Guity? About what?”

 

Swallowing heavily, Jungkook’s voice dropped to an even quieter volume, his words slurring together as he finally admitted out loud what had been on his mind almost daily since the previous October. “The night of Jimin’s Presenting I… I had a dream. Well, more of a nightmare. Jimin and Namjoon were there, but then it was you...and me, and…”

 

“Oh.” Seokjin didn’t seem to know how to respond, and Jungkook was a little glad he couldn’t see the Alpha’s expression. He was carding a hand through Jungkook’s hair, as if to reassure him. A silence fell between them as Jungkook’s words sank in. “It was just a dream though, so you don--”

 

“But I liked it,” Jungkook cut him off, leaning back suddenly and wriggling until his head was free, allowing him to look up directly into Seokjin’s eyes. The Alpha looked utterly taken aback, lips parting in surprise as if he wasn’t sure what to say in response. “I liked it, Seokjin. That’s what made me feel so guilty. Here I was, dreaming of you all--” Jungkook’s voice broke, and he had to take a breath to continue, staring at Seokjin’s neck instead of into his face, the words choked as he barely held back a sob. “ All the time, and you didn’t even want to Scent me back...it was unfair to you, having those feelings. But then you had my shirt in your room, and I realized maybe it wasn’t quite as simple as I thought. Then you did Scent me back, and everything changed. I realized you didn’t hate me.”

 

“Hate you? You thought I hated you?”

 

Jungkook sniffed heavily, rolling his eyes. He wished he wasn’t crying - it made him feel like a dumb little kid, some child who couldn’t control their emotions properly. But it was difficult when he wasn’t used to having all these emotions in the first place. “From the first day you moved in. You looked at me, l-like…”

 

“Shh…” Seokjin ran a hand through Jungkook’s hair, the movement making him suddenly relax, breathing deeply. He hadn’t realized that his heat was picking up again, making the blanket unbearably hot and itchy. Jungkook wriggled in closer to Seokjin, burying his face into his sweater and inhaling his Scent for a few moments, while Seokjin kept shushing him soothingly. “I never hated you, Jungkook. I promise.”

 

“After the first day, things changed, you know? You let me hang out with you, and we got close. But you never Scented me back. And all I could keep wondering was why ? I know why I don’t Scent Jimin back, but it wasn’t the same. I thought maybe I smelled bad to you? Or you at least didn’t think of me that way.”

 

“It wasn’t like that,” Seokjin said in a quiet murmur. He ran a hand through Jungkook’s hair again, allowing his hand to pause against the Omega’s forehead a little longer each time. “It wasn’t like that at all, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook reached up, cupping his hand along Seokjin’s cheek. He was staring at Seokjin’s mouth, transfixed, then he let his eyes flicker up to the Alpha’s dark brown eyes, the tinges of his irises encircled in a thin red border as he stared back. Something felt electric between them, warmed by the self-assuredness threaded throughout Jungkook’s entire body as he pulled Seokjin’s jaw towards him and gently pressed his lips to Seokjin’s.

 

The Alpha let out a sigh at the contact, and Jungkook’s lips parted slightly so he could swallow the hot exhale, making goosebumps rise on his arms as Seokjin tilted his head, one hand coming up to rest against the small of Jungkook’s back, pulling him closer. A little moan of relief escaped Jungkook as he indulged in the hot sweetness, the kiss chaste and delicate. He tilted his chin forward, his arms threading around Seokjin’s long neck and clutching into the hair at the back of his head, pulling him forward as a deep thrum started in Seokjin’s throat, almost like a purr. He started to slow down, as though about to pull away, and Jungkook subconsciously let out a little whine that slipped into Seokjin’s mouth, making the elder relinquish a sigh of relief. The hand that had been around Jungkook’s waist tugged him closer one more time, pressing their hips together before he slipped his hand against Jungkook’s jaw, his previous shyness melting away and becoming a butterfly-touch appreciation of every curve, trailing from the jaw down the neck and down to his shoulder, one thumb caressing back and forth appreciatively along the dip of Jungkook’s collarbone. It felt like they had just stepped across a line together, one that went beyond and below a heat and into something that burned lower and deeper, more archaic than something that had a name, and Jungkook couldn’t help but smile sweetly, overwhelmed by the nervous fluttering sensations that had now taken over his entire chest cavity. His eyes were still shut as Seokjin finally pulled away - the slight wet sound of their parting lips and Jungkook’s breath the only sounds in the room - then ran the back of his knuckle along Jungkook’s jawline as though he was petting him, an inquisitive expression on his face.

 

When Jungkook finally opened his eyes, Seokjin’s lips parted as though to ask something, but nothing was forthcoming, so they just looked at each as another minute or so passed in silence.

 

“Stop over-thinking it,” Jungkook finally reprimanded in a quiet voice, and for some reason, it made them both smile. Seokjin even chuckled a little, flushing with guilt.

 

“When did you get so self-assured, Jungkook?”

 

“I’m not the kind of guy to second-guess myself, is all. It seems like a waste of time.” Jungkook tilted forward, nuzzling his nose into the little soft lump of skin below Seokjin’s chin where it met his neck, feeling the slightest abrasive spot he’d missed while shaving. “I’m ready for you to finish what you started last night.”

 

He felt, and almost heard , Seokjin’s heavy swallow, his lips pressed to the Alpha’s adam’s apple as Seokjin’s fingertips gripped a little harder at Jungkook’s shoulders. But he made no further moves, so Jungkook wriggled his hand up to take hold of Seokjin’s knobbly fingers and shift their hands awkwardly downward, splaying Seokjin’s fingers and pressing them to his erection. Seokjin let out a little choking sound, his legs shifting nervously towards Jungkook with a bit of a frantic air. Jungkook kissed at Seokjin’s neck, pausing and closing his eyes as he pressed Seokjin more roughly against him, guiding the first clumsy movements.

 

“Please, Seokjin… it’s been hurting for hours …”

 

“But Jungkook, there’s something I have to tell you.” Seokjin licked his lips nervously, his gaze glancing away as if in apology. “Don’t you thi--”

 

“I promise, we can talk after,” Jungkook mumbled through gritted teeth. “We’ve already established that 100% of me wants this, so please . I’ve been trying to be patient and good but goddamn it hurts .” As if to punctuate his statement, his hips bucked forward into Seokjin’s wide palm, and the Alpha’s fingers curled inward instinctively, creating an instant moan that bubbled from Jungkook like a sigh. “Ah... please .”

 

“Shit…” Seokjin gasped, the word surprisingly soft for its intended meaning. “You’re so ...so seductive… and I feel like you’re barely even trying.”

 

“Just for you,” Jungkook promised, bucking into Seokjin’s hand again with a little grunt. “Fuck, please , just move .”

 

And at last, although it felt like forever, Seokjin’s fingers tickled their way up to the waistband of Jungkook’s sweatpants, cool knuckles brushing up against his hot belly and making him shudder, a tight winding at his center that had him already breathing heavily. Seokjin’s chilly fingertips curved, making the climb over the waistband and down, into the wet and warmth hiding away there, winding around Jungkook’s trembling cock and making him moan just from the temperature difference. When the blind grip tightened, Jungkook could feel the light calluses on Seokjin’s fingertips, could feel the roughness of the unique bumps between each knuckle, the softness of the palm. Seokjin dipped his fingertips to the swollen tip, using the slippery pre-cum to lubricate. Jungkook didn’t realize his hand was clutching desperately at Seokjin’s sleeve, his eyes shut and his mouth opened as he gasped with need. If he had opened his eyes, he would have seen the steady, cool stare of his Alpha as he drank in every muscle, every change in Jungkook’s expression as he started to writhe happily beneath his hand.

 

“S...Jin…” Jungkook moaned, his voice rising up in pitch as Seokjin started to gently move his hand up and down, twisted his hand back and forth to memorize each feature and imperfection. “F-fuck!” Jungkook’s shoulders were tense, his grip on Seokjin’s sleeve tightening as the muscles in his neck visibly tensed, his ankles entangling and disentangling from Seokjin’s, itching and straining for relief as his nerves were being overwhelmed. Seokjin craned his neck forward, pressing a feather-light kiss to Jungkook’s sweat-dotted cheek as the Omega bit at his lip in frustration.

 

“You look beautiful,” Seokjin whispered, so lightly as if it was some sort of secret, a taboo truth he wasn’t allowed to say or the moment, the illusion, would shatter completely. Jungkook panted, forcing his eyes to open as he met Seokjin’s gaze. His movements remained slow and steady for a few moments, letting Jungkook adjust and catch his breath. When the hunger returned, flickering blue around his irises, Seokjin sped his hand up, making Jungkook moan loudly, lifting his fist that was full of Seokjin’s sweater and then slamming it back roughly down against the Alpha’s shoulder.

 

“Fuck! Oh, god! Jin!

 

“I know,” Seokjin said, the calm tone starting to give way to a deeper, throaty sound in the back of his throat, his self control quivering a little in its foundation. Lowly, he growled, “Does it feel good, Jungkook?”

 

Jungkook just whimpered, tugging then pushing at the fistful of sweater sleeve, bucking his hips forward in desperation.

 

“Jungkook, I asked you a question,” Seokjin said, his voice lower now, and the sound alone would have been enough to raise Jungkook’s member to attention even if he hadn’t been tending to him so lovingly by hand. “Does it feel good?”

“Yes!” Jungkook cried. “Please, don’t stop!”

 

Seokjin chuckled, rolling his eyes a little. “Like I’d stop now .” Jungkook blearily forced his eyes back open, staring open-mouthed at Seokjin’s toothy smile for a moment. Then, he used his grip on Seokjin’s shoulder to propel them back towards each other, crushing his lips back against Seokjin’s, his mouth open and begging for free-falling heat as his hips started to rock back and forth steadily into Seokjin’s hand. The world was spinning, heady and heated and thick. He felt like he was about to pass out from the vertigo, from how tired he was, from the overload his nerves had taken in the last 24 hours, but he didn’t want the moment to end. To his dismay, his mouth remained pitifully empty of Seokjin’s trespassing, but he didn’t have long to think about that before the coil at his belly finally got wound up enough, and he felt himself nearing his edge.

 

“Jin! Jin!” He cried, each repetition getting higher and more worked up until he was practically wheezing, brokenly gasping as he clutched at Seokjin while he came. Shudders overcame his body, but for all the world it felt like the greatest, most satisfying deflation, lowering him gently back to earth as he fell limp against the mattress, boneless. His eyes shut as aftershocks rolled through him, waves and an undertow that kept his movement choppy and messy as Seokjin kissed his forehead, letting his plush lips linger there for several seconds until Jungkook finally stilled.

 

The Omega was gasping, his member finally flaccid for the first time since he had gone into the woods, finally releasing the tension in his body so that he could curl up into Seokjin’s embrace properly, feeling suddenly small and in need of comfort. Seokjin slipped his hand out of Jungkook’s sweatpants, quietly leaning away from Jungkook long enough to reach for the box of tissues that had been left surreptitiously at the edge of the bed behind him, wiping himself and Jungkook clean. The instant Seokjin’s chest shifted away from his cheek, Jungkook let out a whimpering complaint, cuddling up closer until Seokjin wrapped his arms around him once again, resting his chin on the top of his head. With each passing moment it felt like his heart rate was gradually slowing down, calmed by the rhythm of Seokjin’s heartbeat thudding against his cheek, and his body temperature was cooling, the sweat on his skin drying into a cool clamminess.

 

“It’s cold,” he complained, and Seokjin wordlessly tugged the blanket higher up around Jungkook, tucking it over his shoulder and wriggling until he was under the blanket with him, pressing more of his warmth to the Omega.

 

“Thank you,” Jungkook whispered. He sounded sincere, but then he followed it up with a cheekily whispered, “I’ve only been waiting for that since October.”

 

Seokjin chuckled a little, and Jungkook could feel Seokjin untucking his other arm and running his fingers through Jungkook’s hair soothing him as he pushed the bangs away from his forehead.

 

His eyes were shut but he was still able to feel Seokjin watching him, that same soft expression on his face as Jungkook slept soundly at last. His mouth drooped open, crooked teeth peeking through as his breathing evened out, each inhale sweetly heavy. Seokjin ran his hand through Jungkook’s bangs again, smiling softly to himself.

 

“Well, I’ve only been waiting since August,” he chided at the sleeping Omega. He considered for a moment, staring at the way Jungkook’s eyelashes rested against his cheek. “Maybe even longer, to be honest.”

 

He adjusted the pillow beneath his head, preparing himself for hours and probably a crick in his neck from the way he was pressed up against the headboard. Once settled in, he was caught by the vision of the Omega sleeping, staring at him breathlessly for a few long, chest-aching moments. He leaned forward, pressing his lips to the boy’s forehead, smiling as he heard the little murmur the boy released. And with a sigh he curled up against Jungkook, closing his eyes and sinking into the rising, thick scent of soap mixed with saltwater and leather.

Chapter Text

 


 

Don't leave me

Don’t leave me behind

Your heart that turned away

Please turn it back towards me

I want the you who is desperate

It’s everything that I’ve risked my life for

Into the light that has been scattered

Take me there, please

To the end of that world

― Even If I Die It’s You

 

When Jungkook woke up again, he felt clean . It was a sensation he didn’t know would stand out to him before, and wasn’t sure why it did now. But he loved it, wanted to wriggle happily into the clean warmth surrounding him and the lack of itchiness in his legs and arms and the feeling of not being soaked and clammy.

 

Words were being spoken gently somewhere around him, but he couldn’t make them out, much less form them into coherent thoughts, so he tried to sink into unconsciousness again, wanting to escape from the heavy bodily weariness around him. This was made difficult, however, when he realized that what had woken him up was the feeling of something heavy weighing down his chest, making it hard for him to breathe. He tried to shift the heavy thing off, to no avail - it just clung to him more tightly. Jungkook forced his eyes to open, finding a black hoodie-wearing lump that was recognizable as Taehyung mostly from the heavy scent of fresh oranges wafting from his sleeping form. He was sprawled face-down and spread-eagled across the tiny bed (and therefore across the Omega) his good arm tucked up and across Jungkook’s neck, phone clutched loosely in hand. Jungkook smiled softly, shifting a little so that Taehyung wasn’t quite suffocating him, and looked sadly at the arm brace that held his injured elbow to his side, bent at a 90 degree angle to protect it.

 

There was a little tickling sensation at his foot, and Jungkook mumbled, trying to tug his foot away from whatever warm wetness was pressed up against it. There was a chuckle, and a hand grasped his ankle with a gentle firmness, continuing to wipe down his foot with the wet washrag. He was in fresh clothes, and they didn’t even feel stifling or abrasive this time.



“He’s been here since like 5 o’clock in the morning,” laughed a voice quietly, and Jungkook craned his head upwards to see Jimin seated at the foot of the bed, carefully wiping Jungkook down to clear him of the last gross stickiness from his heat. “As soon as we heard your heat broke we insisted on coming to see you.”

 

“He saved my life,” Jungkook said quietly, staring fondly down at the Beta, sleeping soundly on him, soft and sweet. “He was really great, Jimin.”

 

“I know.” Jimin smiled, a warmth and pride glowing in his eyes. He crawled up the bed until he was at Jungkook’s side, opposite where Taehyung’s bottom hung off the new Omega. He leaned forward until his nose touched against Jungkook’s, a grateful smile fluttering across his face as the Omega reciprocated with a little reassuring nudge of his own. “I’m glad you’re okay. We were so worried.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook said quietly. “I really didn’t mean--”

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin’s tone was quietly commanding. “I’m serious. Next time, just ask if you need something, okay?”

 

And Jungkook didn’t have the heart to tell Jimin that it was definitely something he had had to do on his own, that it wasn’t something Namjoon or Yoongi or Jimin could have fixed for him. It was something utterly within himself, but connected to Seokjin irrevocably, like a lighthouse beacon searching.

 

Jungkook looked toward the cabin doorway, and Seokjin was standing there, watching them.

 

He was leaned up against the wall just next to the doorjamb, his arms crossed in an almost uncomfortable looking gesture. Jungkook’s eyes widened as he took in the fact that Seokjin was wearing his outdoor jacket and a black baseball cap, and he looked strained, almost preoccupied. Jungkook’s stomach dropped to the floor in dread. “Seokjin? Why are you all the way over there? Come here.”

 

Seokjin bit his bottom lip a little. The Alpha had underestimated how powerfully the sight of the innocent-looking morning face the Omega always seemed to bear could affect him, but he had needed to wait for Jungkook to wake. He deserved that much. But looking at Jungkook’s parted lips and smelling his Scent from even across the room, soft and comforting, was making him lose stamina and willpower fast. He didn’t have much time.

 

He swallowed roughly, arms crossed tightly over his chest and his hands tightly clenched at his forearms in an attempt to distract himself from the now painful heat in his groin. This wasn’t going to be easy. He parted his lips to speak, but Taehyung woke first.

 

“Jungkookie, you’re awake!” the Beta cried out sleepily, attempting to jump forward to deepen the hug but not getting very far with one arm, wriggling like a playful pup. “I’m so glad! We missed you!”

 

“Tae-Tae,” Jungkook breathed - or attempted to, pinned as he was. “Thank you, for saving me, and for… you know. Everything.”

 

“Of course,” Taehyung said quietly, and he laid his forehead against Jungkook’s, nuzzling in. Seokjin’s gut clenched with a plethora of emotions, the most prominent and painful being self-doubt, and bit his lip, saying nothing. He knew better than that. Something in his silence seemed to draw Jungkook’s attention again, and this time the boy looked as though he wouldn’t be deterred.

 

“Seokjin? Why are you all the way over there?” His eyes seemed to be measuring the distance between Seokjin and the edge of the bed with a pointed glance. Jungkook’s tone rose in an almost accusatory tone - almost . The kid knew him a little too well now, in the worst ways.

 

“I’m glad your heat broke, “ Seokjin managed, surprised by how thick and strained his voice already was.

 

“Why are you so far away?” Jungkook pressed. “Why aren’t you the one taking care of me? Jin, what happened!?”

 

“Jungkook, calm down,” Jimin murmured, pressing the freshened cloth to his cheek, but Jungkook brushed it away with the tips of his fingers so he could meet Seokjin’s eyes, already seeing the resolve written in the older Alpha’s eyes - and that was what had him panicking.

 

“Jin...J-Jin come over here,” Jungkook’s voice softened, worried and needy, and... shit. Seokjin really wanted to indulge him, to comfort him. But he knew that once he was in that bed with him, his oncoming rut would take control.

 

“Jungkook, listen. Last night, you were really in a vulnerable place, you know? Heats and hormones, they can fuck with your head, trust me, I know. So if you feel differently after today, I wouldn’t blame you at all.”

 

“Don’t fucking m-mess with me, Seokjin,” Jungkook said, tears starting to form in his eyes, his lips trembling so delicately. Every instinct in the Alpha’s body was screaming for him to go to his side, to embrace him and tell him it was all going to be simple from here on out. But Jungkook, exhausted from his post-heat, hadn’t woken up when Seokjin had been jolted out of his sleep at 3am by an overwhelming lust-inducing rut that was the worst Seokjin had ever experienced. Jungkook didn’t know the disgust Seokjin had felt towards himself with the realization of how easy it would have been to demand from Jungkook at his most pliable point. And Seokjin knew that he would never be able to stop or be satisfied with a handjob under the blankets. He knew himself too well by now.

 

“Jungkook,” he said quietly, taking in a long, shallow breath to steady himself. “I have to leave for a little while. I’m sorry.”


“But why ? Why now?!”

 

“I broke my promise to Namjoon. Already I’ve crossed more lines than I can count.  I disobeyed his orders when we needed to work as one pack the most, and I challenged his authority. I even attacked them…” Seokjin said quietly. He knew that a lot of that had been his Alpha hyper-reacting to all the Omega heat hormones he had directly exposed himself to, but still. Seokjin didn’t see that as an excuse. Hormones weren’t a place to hide behind anymore. He didn’t intend to tell Jungkook that Namjoon had already forgiven him, because it didn’t matter.

 

“That’s bullshit,” Jungkook whispered, and Jimin looked up at the Omega in surprise at how forward he was being. “That’s not why you’re leaving. You’re running away again.”

 

Seokjin inhaled sharply. Jungkook’s words weren’t even loudly or harshly spoken, but they cut through the air like a knife. He wasn’t going to make this any easier for either of them, because he didn’t understand anything. “Jungkook, I already feel bad for pressing you forward before you’re ready. I...I know what it’s like to get wrapped up in hormones and think something is what you want.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes flashed, and two twin tears fell down his cheeks in silent, frustrated fury. “Fucking hell, I already told you --”

 

“Okay, okay,” he gestured for the Omega to calm down, as he had started to sit up roughly from the bed, almost dislodging Taehyung unceremoniously. Protectively, Jimin nudged Taehyung into a sitting position over on his side, his hand resting on the Beta’s forearm, demurely trying to shield his elbow. “Let’s just assume for a moment that you are ready. That you are sure. Even so, I need to leave. I need to figure out something from the past before I can move forward 100% with you. It’s just not fair to you if we do this now. Okay?”

 

“But why can’t you just tell me and we can deal with it together? Why won’t you let me help?”

 

Seokjin gave a grimace, trying to even imagine Jungkook having to face the Alpha’s demons, of having to deal with a side of him that was anything but gentle and protective. He imagined the looks of disgust and disbelief that would inevitably follow, the denial. No, he couldn’t do that to Jungkook. His baggage was his own, and forcing that onto Jungkook would just pull him, the one piece of hope he had to cling to, into that spiral.

 

“Even if you think you’re ready, Jungkook, I don’t think I am. I’m sorry.”

 

“That isn’t fair!” Jungkook cried petulantly. Seokjin just helplessly shrugged, turning to open the door. Jungkook roughly tossed the sheets aside, scrambling to his feet despite Taehyung and Jimin trying to cling to his arms and hold him back, telling him  he shouldn’t be out of bed yet.

 

Seokjin inhaled, and it was a mistake. Jungkook’s anger seeped thick, defensive Omega Scent filling the room, and the once-comforting salt and leather was now a torment. Like a punch to the groin, he felt the heavy, mindless arousal, making him want to double over, but the only outward sign he showed was the nervous biting of his lip and the tenseness in his shoulders, which Jungkook took as a silent challenge, or a possible opening.

 

“Why won’t you trust me!? I’m not a baby you have to protect, I’m a full-grown wolf, too!” Jungkook planted his feet in front of the Alpha, his eyes flashing blue as he frowned, seemingly unaware of his own aura. “ Look at me ! Why won’t you look at me!?”

 

He reached out and roughly grabbed Seokjin’s collar, meaning to pull him down a little so that their eyes would meet, but Seokjin let out a shout, pushing him away with a snarl that was aimed more at himself than at the Omega. Wide-eyed, Jungkook got tipped off balance, making him stumble backwards into the ladder of the other bunk bed. He stared at Seokjin in surprise, questions in his eyes.

 

“Seokjin, why do you…? You smell….” Jungkook’s mouth dropped open a little, and Seokjin’s neck flushed with heat as he knew the ruse was up. “You’re in a rut. My heat pushed you into your rut, didn’t it?”

 

Seokjin swallowed heavily, shifting his weight from foot to foot in an attempt to alleviate the aching in his crotch. It wasn’t easy when a solution - the solution - was right in front of him, flushed from sleep and deeply inhaling his Scent with a dizzying expression. Jungkook leaned forward and shoved roughly at Seokjin’s chest, making his shoulders thud against the cabin wall.

 

“You asshole. You helped me with my heat. Why can’t I help you?!” Fresh tears were cascading down his cheeks, his face now crumpled in despair and flushing with shame. Seokjin was painfully aware of Taehyung and Jimin, quietly watching from the bottom bunk. “I asked you to help me, but you’re just running away again. If it’s not me, then who is it? Who is gonna help you through your rut, Seokjin?! Is that where you’re going?!”

 

“Jungkook, just--just SHUT UP , okay!?” Seokjin exploded, clenching his hands around his ears as each tremulous quivering of Jungkook’s voice, each fearful, accusatory exhale was setting him on fire from the inside out. Every defensive movement Jungkook made just made his Alpha demand to reach out to him, to protect him from whatever was causing his panic and stress, but it was Seokjin himself doing the damage. He opened his eyes after a moment, panting heavily through the intoxicating Scent of Jungkook, and frowned at the way Jungkook had stilled. He had sucked in his lips until they almost disappeared, as though to bite back any further accusations, but his eyes still gleamed and burned with equal parts melancholy and bitterness. He looked small and he looked hurt. Seokjin’s head tilted to the side, blinking heavily as he felt his own eyes starting to sting. But somehow he had to be the strong one here. He ran his teeth across his bottom lip, collecting himself before he finally looked back at Jungkook, meeting his eyes squarely even though it made even his bone marrow seem to ache.

 

“Look, Jungkook. I understand. I do. But you have to let me do this. When I come back, I’ll do my best to explain everything, okay?”

 

When Jungkook released his lips from their prison they instantly started to quiver violently again, against his will. “You will come back, right? I mean..” He narrowed his eyes, and he sounded heartbroken as he fearfully asked, “You do know, right, Jin?”

 

You know that it’s gotta be you, right?

 

You know that I love you, right?

 

Seokjin gave a sad little smile. He decided to risk stepping over to close the gap a little between them. It was his turn to take the risk at moving a little closer anyways, right? And he cupped Jungkook’s cheek in his wide palm. “Yes, I know.”

 

“And you believe me, right?”

 

A sigh escaped him, and his thumb wiped away at some of the tears on Jungkook’s cheek, making the Omega bite at his lip again. “That’s exactly why I’m going, Jungkook. Because I really, truly want to believe you.”

 

Jungkook blinked up at him for a moment, sniffing noisily as he straightened his shoulders. “But why can’t you just stay here and let us figure it out together?”

 

Seokjin grimaced again, shaking his head.

 

“Jin…” Jungkook whimpered, watching him as he went towards the door. “Jin!”

 

“I’ll be back when I can, I promise,” Seokjin said, refusing to look over his shoulder again this time. Even still, he heard Jungkook’s feet shuffling on the floor, starting slowly after him. He was halfway out the door when Jungkook let out the most pitiful whine, like a pup that had just been kicked. It felt like a stab right into his chest, and it was already hard enough to breathe.

 

“I’m gonna wait for you to come back, Jin! I already chose you! Do you hear me?!”

 

Seokjin closed the door with a soft click, and he heard the low murmur of Taehyung and Jimin moving in to comfort.

 

But just when he thought he was safe, standing outside the cabin, he heard Jungkook scream out, “ JIN! I’m waiting, so hurry back, goddamn it!

 

He blinked away the tears, wiping roughly at his face with his sleeve and letting them fall rampant, now that he didn’t have to hold back. When he let out a sigh and finally lifted his head to walk away, his backpack already waiting next to the door, and he saw Yoongi standing ankle-deep in the snow, staring at him. He didn’t say a word, just watching the Alpha with his narrow, fox-like eyes boring into him like daggers. Without speaking, Seokjin could already feel the oppressive weightiness of his disapproval.

 

“You’re bailing on him now,” Yoongi murmured, “When you should be trying to communicate.”

 

If Seokjin hadn’t been as observant as he was, he would have written off the ambiguous tone as meaning that Yoongi was almost asking a question. But he knew better. He shouldered his backpack, frowning as he stepped forward. “I have to deal with my past before I can even think of a future right now,” Seokjin mumbled, “To be honest, it wasn’t that long ago I didn’t even think a future was possible, so I just have to--”

 

Yoongi hand drew back, a strained grimace on his face as he sent his fist heavily forward to make contact with Seokjin’s jaw, nearly bowling him over in surprise. His hand flew to the tingling skin, goosebumps of alarm rising all over his body as he gaped at the Omega in surprise.

 

“I told you not to fucking half-ass things, Kim Seokjin,” Yoongi snarled. “You better get your shit together fast or I swear I’ll make good on that threat to string you up by your balls from a tree. That’s your future mate in there but that’s our pup. Don’t fucking forget it.”

 

Seokjin let out a shuddering breath, keeping his hand held against his cheek as he strode past Yoongi, ducking his head against the wind that was blowing flakes up out of the deepening snow drifts. He was determined. As soon as he could, he would come back. He would come back whole and healthy and ready to do Jungkook’s sincerity justice.

 

But at the moment, that felt a long, long way off.

 

~~~~~

 

“Are we ready?” Namjoon called out for the nth time, pressing his thick-rimmed glasses a little higher up on the bridge of his nose. His breath rose in front of him in a thick, white puff as he smiled over at the youngest three pups, where they were adjusting the fake flowers tied to the white wooden arbor they had set up in the middle of the camp. It was a pretty little arch, several inches taller than Namjoon but just wide enough for two people to stand comfortable in, width-wise, and the lattice had been woven with plastic green vines dotted with yellow flowers they had brought at a home décor department store, but it looked pretty against the snow.

 

“Just about!” Jimin chirruped, straightening up and almost bumping into Taehyung’s chest with his head, as the Beta had been reaching over Jimin to adjust a flower arranged higher up on the latticework. It hadn’t worked well, trying to do it with one hand, but he had managed. “I’m glad it’s a bit warmer today, at least.”

 

“Yeah,” Taehyung grumbled. “It’s still freezing though. How long will the ceremony take, again?”

“We’re doing it pretty traditional, so we’ll be out here about 20 minutes, is all? Then Hoseok and Yoongi will go on their hunt, and we are free to do whatever, while they take care of the rest.”

 

“‘The rest,’” Taehyung said, a bit of teasing to his tone as he rolled his eyes back and smirked, the expression suggestive enough to make Jimin smack lightly at his good shoulder. But that only made him release a deep, throaty chuckle.

 

Really, TaeTae?” Jimin rolled his eyes. “Come on, let’s go get the others and help them finish making up all that food that Hoseok and Yoongi won’t even enjoy.”

 

They started to head off, but Jimin paused when he noticed that Jungkook wasn’t moving to follow, his solemn attention still on the yellow flowers he was adjusting above his head. He saw Namjoon wave the other two to go on ahead, and he frowned, not looking forward to another lecture about how he was ‘young’ and ‘had options’ or ‘just needed to have patience.’

 

“Jungkook?” Namjoon said lowly, standing at his side with his hands tucked into his pockets. “Are you doing okay?”

 

Jungkook frowned more deeply, not wanting to grace the dumb question with an answer. But this was Namjoon, his lead Alpha. He shook his head, hating the way his throat already felt thick and weighed down, tensing up with emotion. Namjoon’s soft hand dropped onto Jungkook’s shoulder, squeezing a little in reassurance. Silence enveloped them, and Jungkook knew that Namjoon was debating how much to say or not say. Honestly, he was in a bad mood so he felt like telling the leader to just give up and not put in the effort,because it wouldn’t do much good to lift his spirits just then. He was unbelievably happy for Yoongi and Hoseok’s special day, of course. But that didn’t exactly erase the way his lungs felt as if they had been in a vice for the two days Seokjin had been gone. When he had finally been allowed to go back out on a hunt, a part of him had secretly hoped that Seokjin would be out there, the white wolf sitting at the edge of one of the clearings, watching solemnly and waiting for Jungkook to come to him at last.

 

“He’s not on the island anymore, you know,” Namjoon said quietly, as if reading Jungkook’s thoughts. “But he knows we’ll be heading back to the house in a few days.”

 

“Did he tell you he’d meet us there?!” Jungkook perked up instantly, his tone demanding and desperate, and Namjoon frowned at the sound in disapproval. Jungkook’s momentary lift wilted just as quickly as it had blossomed.

 

“Jungkook,” Namjoon said after a long moment. “I think there’s something you should know. Now, to be honest, Seokjin made me promise not to tell you, but… considering the circumstances, I don’t think it’s right to keep it from you any longer.”

 

The Omega looked up, eyes wide, wondering if this was it, this was the thing that was keeping him and Seokjin apart with no decent explanation.

 

“You understand about Claiming now, right?”

 

Jungkook tilted his head to the side, a little confused. “Um, I guess? It’s a verbal contract with a pack leader, like a pre-betrothal. But it can be broken, and other packs don’t have to honor it, because it’s not a Mating.” His brow furrowed, and he glared at the ground as though the face he saw in his mind was now in front of him. “ Jae said Seokjin had Claimed me, but even if he had, he wasn’t going to let it stop him.” Jungkook frowned deeper, a thought that had been turning in his head like an over-flipped pancake came to the forefront of his mind, and he lifted his eyes to Namjoon. “But if Claims are just verbal agreements, then how could Jae smell that on me? He was wrong, of course, but why did he think that?”

 

Namjoon gave a little smile, patting Jungkook’s hair and ruffling it a little as his lips seemed to stretch proudly across his face. “You’re the Golden Maknae after all. The reason he thought that, to be frank, is because of the way Seokjin Scented you.”

 

Jungkook’s body flushed with an embarrassed heat as he realized everyone in the pack must have known by now that Seokjin had Scented him, must have had at least some idea of what had gone down in the cabin that night, and based on the way it had been phrased, it wasn’t a normal Scenting.

 

“There’s different levels of Scenting,” Namjoon said quietly, his teaching voice smoothly sliding in. “You know there’s a difference between the way I would Scent you and the way Jimin Scents you. The smell goes deeper in certain Scentings, lingers longer, has a different aura or flavor. There’s Scenting you do with your mother and Scenting you do with your pack, or your friends...and then there’s the Scenting you only do with a mate.”

 

Jungkook’s eyebrows arched. Namjoon pinched his lips together as if to punctuate the sentence with a ‘Well…?’ kind of unspoken suggestion.

 

“But Seokjin’s not my mate. He hasn’t Claimed me. Is that why he felt guilty? For Scenting me like that?”

 

Namjoon’s lips pressed more tightly, and Jungkook felt like he wasn’t getting it, and it frustrated him. “ What!?

 

“That’s... part of it, Jungkook. It’s not typical to go that far without having Scented more casually before. In addition…” Namjoon paused, meeting Jungkook’s eyes squarely, “In addition , Jungkook. Jae might have been jumping to conclusions, but he wasn’t wrong.”

 

“Wrong about what?”

 

Namjoon let out a little sigh, rubbing his hand over his eyes and then matching their gazes again. “Jungkook, Seokjin has Claimed you.”

 

Jungkook’s jaw dropped slack, his lips parting in surprise. “W-what?! Since when?”

 

The lead Alpha gave a sharp inhale, working his thick lips for a moment before responding. “Since about two days after he moved into the pack house. He came to me and asked if he could Claim you, because otherwise he wasn’t going to be able to sleep, he was getting so paranoid of another pack member moving in before he was ready to make his move.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes fluttered in surprise, and he finally got himself to blink properly and take in air. “W-wait, how can he Claim me without my knowing? And how could he have done it so soon? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”

 

Namjoon raised his hands to quiet the Omega, shushing him gently. “Listen, no one else knew. Not even Kiara knew, until last night. Yoongi realized it while we were tending to your heat. Seokjin begged me not to tell anyone unless absolutely necessary. And that’s why I decided to tell you, Jungkook. I may be the lead Alpha, but Seokjin is also my older brother, and one of my best friends. It’s not my place to tell you everything I know, but….but this, I think you should know.”

 

A moment of tense silence passed between them, and Jungkook squared his shoulders, preparing himself. Namjoon was essentially offering a little explanation, which could mean turmoil or some peace of mind. Jungkook wasn’t sure which, but he was willing to take the risks, at this point. “Okay, shoot.”

 

“He knew you weren’t Presented yet, he knew there was an age gap that you may have had a problem with, that’s the simple stuff,” Namjoon began slowly. “But the main reason he didn’t want you to know is because Seokjin has been through a lot when it comes to ‘Alpha roles’ and ‘Omega roles’ and the way people let those unwritten rules control their lives.” Namjoon took in a slow breath, a sad little smile coming to his lips. “The reason he didn’t want to tell you, Jungkook, is because my brother is a deadass romantic at heart. He didn’t want you to accept his Claim because he’s an Alpha, he wanted you to fall in love with him , Kim Seokjin as himself, not Seokjin the Alpha.”

 

Jungkook stared down at the snow, his eyes wide and his world seeming to tilt a little to the side, giving him vertigo. When he said nothing, Namjoon continued, “That’s the only reason I allowed him to have a Claim - even though it was a tentative one - without telling you, until he was ready to talk to you about it. We agreed that the Claim would be considered broken if you tried to Claim anyone else. It’s still in place now, as far as I’m concerned. But if you say the word I’ll consider it broken, and you can move on from it with no hard feelings.” He paused, seeing the way Jungkook’s jaw tensed even at the mere suggestion. “But based on what I hear, that’s the last thing you want, right? In all honesty, Seokjin and I thought you had another two years before we even had to deal with any of this. But either you sped it up with your little underwear stunt--” Jungkook winced. “-- Or ...there’s something else going on here, which I don’t quite understand yet. I have a few theories, but… I don’t think that’s the main point right now. My whole point is…” He clapped his hand back on Jungkook’s shoulder, thudding it down roughly and squeezing the Omega’s shoulder, staring in his eyes with a hard, meaningful look. “My brother loves you, Jungkook. He may have his head up his ass right now, which is something he’s good at, and I’ll never really understand him, but that’s one thing I don’t doubt. You should have seen how messed up he was, the day he came to see me, begging me to let him Claim you... I’ve never seen him that upset, that emotional.”

 

It was hard to picture in his head when he tried to imagine it, an overly emotional Seokjin. Seokjin was the one who was always calm or quiet, playful or withdrawn. Silly or studious. He didn’t seem the type to get overwhelmed by much of anything. It was something that, in a weird way, Jungkook really wanted to see. He wanted to see Seokjin completely unwound and unrestrained. He wanted past the walls and hesitation. And at this point, he was about two pregnant pauses away from just taking a jackhammer to the damn wall and calling it a day.

 

“You okay?” Namjoon queried, leaning down into Jungkook’s view. Jungkook nodded, sniffling heavily and wiping at his eyes.

 

“Yeah, yes. I’m okay. Thank you, Namjoon.”

 

“Just do your best, alright? Things will work out, one way or another. I don’t know where it will end up, but I know that much, at least.” He patted Jungkook’s shoulder one last time. “I’m going to go inside and get the others to come out, it’s well past the scheduled time. But you come to me if you have any questions, okay?”

 

Jungkook nodded, sniffling a little more as he watched the Alpha trudge off into the snow toward the Main Hall, where faint ghosts of laughter and voices could be heard from inside. Jungkook turned and stared up at the arbor, at its pretty (but fake) flowers, misplaced in the wrong season but still looking realistic enough to work for what they needed for today. He thought they made a lovely contrast, and he wished Seokjin was there. He would probably pluck one off and tuck it behind his ear, posing dramatically to be funny but still looking unfairly fresh and handsome as he laughed with Jungkook, shoving one of the plastic buds in the younger’s face.

 

With a slow swallow, Jungkook pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. For once, he actually had a bar of signal on the island, so he decided it must have been a sign. He opened the front face camera, angling it so that his upturned face showed, surrounded by the yellow flowers and the snow in the background. It was a colorful mix of his pink cheeks, brown eyes, yellow petals and white flakes. He threw up a solemn peace sign, curving the corners of his lips up in a bit of a melancholic smile as he took the picture. He added the caption and sent it before he could hesitate and regret it.

 

The ceremony is going to be really pretty - wish you were here with us. Please hurry home.

 

He glanced back up at the photo in their private chat. In all honesty he thought he looked pretty nice in the photo, so he hoped it made Seokjin happy. He scrolled up a little and saw that their last messages had been when Seokjin had gone to the store to get bread, and asked Jungkook if he wanted some ‘special surprise bread’ as a private treat for the two of them. He smiled a little, and pocketed his phone just as the Main Hall door opened, and the rest of the pack tumbled out in a noisy gaggle. Most of them were in their matching thermal pack jackets, but Yoongi was dressed in a suit that was all black from head to toe, a cross necklace dangling from his neck and a nervous pinch to his lips as his eyes seemed to dance. Hoseok followed close behind, wearing a bishop-sleeved white button-up with a silky black vest over top, an eggshell white scarf tied elegantly at his neck. They both looked amazing but they were already shivering violently by the time they went to their positions, standing facing each other about three feet in front of the arbor, smiling shyly at each other and glancing down at their feet in the pressed snow. Namjoon stood just through the arbor, and Kiara stood waiting at a small folding table they had set up, upon which stood two matching wine glasses.

 

The others stood numbly in front of Hoseok and Yoongi, shifting in the snow and making soft crunching noises. Jungkook glanced over at Jimin and murmured, “Is this like some old tradition from the wolf ancestry side or something?”

 

Jimin shook his head, smirking at Jungkook in such a lovingly condescending way that Jungkook wanted to shove him in the shoulder. “No, this isn’t a wolf ceremony. This is purely for the human side. Wolves don’t hold ceremonies.”

 

Jungkook just nodded, confused why any of it was necessary at all.But the couple of the day looked happy enough, even as their teeth had started to chatter, so he wasn’t going to argue.

 

Namjoon started in on an elaborate and elegant speech about the beauty of winter and the fittingness of having the ceremony on a day so close to the anniversary of the day they’d met. He even made a few halfway decent jokes about Hoseok’s wilder college days, which were interesting enough, but Jungkook was starting to notice Yoongi’s lips turning a little purple from the cold. Kiara gave Namjoon a warning glance, and he wrapped it up after a few more minutes.

 

“And that’s the power of communication, showing that despite how different we may be from each other, that has no bearing on whether or not we can make things work, which is an inspiring and hopeful sign to us all. But without further ado, I, as leader of Bangtan pack, would like to begin the proceedings. The wine..?” Kiara stepped forward, handing each of them a glass of the red wine. Hoseok and Yoongi had barely broken eye contact the entire time, and even now, they held their glasses delicately and their gazes hard, barely seeming to breathe. It felt like almost too intimate a moment for them all to be standing there, watching.

 

“Jung Hoseok, Min Yoongi, may your blood always run together, your battles be side-by-side, your paths continue as parallels and your dreams align with your realities. With all the blessings in my heart, I now pronounce you Mates.”

 

As Namjoon said these last few words, Hoseok and Yoongi moved forward a little, linking their arms around each other and slowly tipping their wine glasses back, still not breaking that intimate-feeling eye contact as they drank. When they finished the glasses, Hoseok licked his lips a little, and Yoongi suddenly bolted forward, catching Hoseok’s mouth with his own. Their arms still awkwardly entangled, he pressed the Alpha backwards, making him giggle and his bright, wide teeth flickering into view between them as Yoongi continued pushing forward, tilting his head and catching Hoseok into a kiss that was not what one would call chaste, but was nonetheless just as moving. Everyone clapped, and then started to disperse.

They were almost back to the Main Hall and Jungkook glanced over his shoulder, seeing that they were still entangled. Jimin chuckled, grabbing Jungkook’s arm and tugging him along.

 

“It’s interesting,” Jimin was saying to Taehyung as they walked along together. “Yoongi must have asked Namjoon to drop the line where he says ‘Allowing your true Alpha to take you as his.’”

 

“Well, to be honest, I don’t see much need to say that, anyways. It doesn’t really match how things work nowadays, it’s kind of old-fashioned, don’t you think?” Taehyung said with a shrug.

 

“I mean, I guess. I never really thought about it that much,” Jimin murmured thoughtfully. “Does that mean you would want him to cut it out, too?”

 

Taehyung smirked, “Are you already talking about our Mating Day, cute little Jiminie?”

 

“Don’t call  me cute like that!” Jimin laughed, but he flushed as though he was pleased as he jutted his hip playfully against the gangly Beta. “Just answer the question.”

 

“Mm… sure, I don’t see any reason to keep it in. So that works for me, as long as you don’t mind.”

 

“I’ll have to think about it,” Jimin said in a tease. Jungkook was still glancing over his shoulder, where Hoseok and Yoongi had shifted, Scenting deeply into each other’s fur in a way he’d never seen before. He was so enthralled by the sight that he didn’t even notice the brief peck Taehyung tilted his head down to plant on Jimin’s mouth, nor did he hear the ensuing giggle. As he watched,  Hoseok gave a spine-chilling howl and led the way off into the woods, Yoongi following at his side. Powdery snow kicking up behind them like a dust cloud, there was the elegant stretching of grey limbs over the dip of the little hill, and then they vanished into the depths of the silent woods. It would be their first hunt as official Mates, and most likely none of the pack would see them for the next couple of days. Traditionally, he had been told a new Mating involved staying on a two to three day hunt, where they would consummate the Mating alone after their first kills.

 

“However,” Yoongi had explained, “We’re not barbarians anymore, and while I have my quirks and kinks, getting buck naked in the snow is not among them, so we’ll probably do our hunt proper, and then use the hyung cabin for the next couple of days. That’s why Namjoon and Kiara’s beds are moved to the Main Hall for now.”

 

“Jungkook, are you coming?” Jimin called from the doorway to the Main Hall, where a celebratory feast was waiting.

 

“Yeah, I’ll be right in,” Jungkook said quietly, waving Jimin on. The Alpha gave him a skeptical look, but followed Taehyung inside nonetheless, where the Beta was already whooping and in the same breath bemoaning that he only had one hand to shove food into his mouth with. On the front porch, Jungkook pulled his cell phone back out, seeing that it had no signal. He lifted it in a vague gesture of hope for a momentary signal, and to his surprise, he got it (well, after almost ten minutes and trying several different positions on the porch, to be fair).

 

He opened his chat with Seokjin, and saw that the message had been read. He sent another one, at least comforted to know he was able to read them.

 

The ceremony just ended. They’re off on their hunt now, so we’re going to eat. Are you hungry?

 

He sent the message, one arm craned awkwardly over towards the abandoned bird’s nest tucked under the cabin awning, and a little trace of a smile lit up his face when it was marked as read, too. Where ever he was in that moment, Seokjin was at least still taking the time to check for word from him. It was a silly thing, probably, but it was still comforting to know they had a little connection, a little lifeline, still.

 

“My whole point is, my brother loves you, Jungkook.”

 

He smiled at his phone, closing his eyes and sending up a little prayer of thanks, then went inside to join the others.

 

~~~~~

 

The cabin was dark, save for the little glow of the space heater that was warm and red and - okay, not quite as romantic as a fireplace, but they were taking what they could get. Hoseok had his arms planted on either side of Yoongi, both of their chests covered in sweat. There were countless marks riddled up their bodies like a music staff dotted with notes, a strange pink and purple melody that twisted as they breathed.

 

“Yoongi,” Hoseok gasped, bending down to press his lips to Yoongi’s cheek, then nibbling at his jaw with his powerful and memorable teeth - they had marked Yoongi up more times that night than he could count. “Are you ready?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi said quietly. His head was spinning wildly like a top, and he couldn’t really see straight because Hoseok had ensured that Yoongi had come three times already that night. But he knew it was the right time.

 

“May I?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi breathed, tilting his jaw back and willingly exposing his neck to his mate. They had talked about this night in detail before, but of course some things hadn’t been exactly as planned. But one thing Yoongi had agreed to was to let Hoseok mark him first. It was part of their attempt at power balance, their way of maintaining their identities in some fashion as Alpha and Omega beyond the unconventionality, and Yoongi had been the one to offer the idea first.

 

‘There are lots of Alpha things you’ll never quite be able to do because of being with me,’ Yoongi had said, ‘I should at least let you be the one to start Mating us.’

 

‘I’m not missing out on anything, if that’s what you’re worried about,’ Hoseok had beamed, all smile and warmth as he nuzzled in close. ‘But I would be honored to Mate you first.’

 

Hoseok leaned down, pressing his nose to the scent gland on Yoongi’s neck, the little patch of skin rising and falling quickly with his uneven breaths. He inhaled deeply, making Yoongi wriggle beneath him and relinquish a little moan. Hoseok took his time, pressing delicate kisses to his neck, his jaw, his shoulder, until Yoongi reached up and gripped roughly at his forearm in impatient warning. Hoseok smiled into Yoongi’s pale skin, his own Scent now dotted across Yoongi’s body in hazy little clouds. With a little moan of anticipation, Hoseok opened his mouth, biting down directly onto Yoongi’s scent gland, breaking the skin there as Yoongi cried out, his body worked into a frenzy to the very edges of his frayed, happy nerves. He screamed, the sound strangled into a moan of pleasure as Hoseok’s Alpha meshed with Yoongi’s Omega, harsh and opposing, then sweet and addicting. Their Scents changed for a moment, into a sensory experience that went beyond explanation. Once he could breathe again, Yoongi grabbed rough hold of Hoseok’s neck, yanking him downward and catching him in a rough bite that wasted no time in penetrating him deeper, making Hoseok actually weep as he trembled into Yoongi’s arms.

 

Easily, Hoseok jutted his hips down against the Omega, and they came in a slow, quiet rhythm that lasted so long and deep within their bones that Yoongi thought he had actually stopped breathing for a minute. He sighed, his eyes rolled back into his head as his back lifted into a graceful arc, taking in Hoseok on so many different levels that the world, for a moment, was one large, chaotic,beautiful metaphor until their trembling started to still.

 

“I love you,” Yoongi gasped, pressing rough, fumbling, teeth-lined kisses to the apples of Hoseok’s cheeks. Somewhere in between his blissful sobs, Hoseok said the same, curling up against Yoongi’s broad shoulder.

 

As the little trickles of blood dried down their necks, the scent of earth and vanilla remained steady, like a distant drumbeat. It would never fully segregate again.

 

~~~~~

 

Seokjin stared at the black wrought iron gate, considering it for a moment. A few years back, there had definitely been more green and less fence in this, his favorite park near his family home, but things were always in flux, weren’t they? Everything liked to change on him, and life was just about keeping up. With a little shrug, Seokjin went over to the neglected and dying plum tree that hung over the fence, using the residual climbing skills from his childhood to make it onto the other side, dropping into the soft grass amidst the darkness. He’d come out all this way for a midnight walk in a nostalgic place, and by god, he was gonna do it. Seokjin took his cellphone out of his pocket, moving to turn the flashlight app on to light his way. About twenty yards in there was a desolate and bug-infested streetlight that buzzed even more than the insects around it and flickered threateningly, but it would do. Seokjin sat in the little painted bench at the edge of the pond and stared down into its murky waters. Green algae floated at the top, and weeds of some sort grew at the edges. He heard a very loud and stubborn frog somewhere nearby, but he couldn’t quite place the sound. Seokjin leaned back against the park bench with a sigh, looking up at the night sky for a few moments. He had been wearing the same thick black jacket for the last week, with the same gray sweater he’d worn the day he left the camp...and Jungkook. Seokjin rubbed at his eyes, able to feel the velvety softness of the skin underneath where bags had been forming. To call it insomnia was to oversimplify it. Some days he could barely walk from the throbbing pain, and nothing was bringing him relief. He had even gone to a specialist to get suppressants, hoping that they would alleviate some of the ache that not having Jungkook near was causing, but they had made him vomit and then lost their effectiveness. He was nearing his wit’s end, and he was no closer to any answers, despite his self-inflicted punishment.

 

Jolting him out of the quiet, Seokjin’s phone suddenly went off with a notification, and he turned on the lockscreen to see another message from Jungkook himself. He opened it with a hungry fervor, eager to see what he was up to, now that it was this late in the evening. Earlier that day he had gone to see a movie with Namjoon, since ‘Kiara is at home preparing for pups and the other couples are out doing couple-y things.’ and he had whined more about the amount of syrup used in the soda fountain than he had detailed anything actually important - like the name of the movie. Seokjin had actually smiled at his eagerness, reading and re-reading the messages a thousand times each, as each character and every gentle emoticon watered the blooming hope buried in his chest.

 

This time, instead of just a text message, Jungkook had sent another selca. It was obviously in his little fort under the table, and he was lying on his pillow staring up at the camera, wearing a gray jersey and with a soft, sleepy pout on his face.

 

I’m sleepy. My exam is in the morning but I barely studied. Lol

Come home soon.

 

Seokjin felt that usual painful stab into his chest every time he read the oft-repeated phrase. The fact that Jungkook called it home was so simplistic, but he felt sure down to his very bones that it was not said flippantly or without purpose. He was so tempted to message back, to tease him for going to a movie when he hadn’t studied properly. To tell him to sleep well. To promise he’d come as soon as he could. His groin clenched painfully, now so tender as to feel like a punch, and he doubled forward, his breath catching a little. He considered using the sent selca to help relieve himself a little, since that worked better than nothing , but he always felt a little guilty afterwards, even though he now knew that Jungkook had done similar… Seokjin sighed, leaning back as the pain started to throb instead of stab, and then nearly jumped out of his skin as he heard a branch breaking somewhere near by.

 

A figure was standing directly underneath the flickering street lamp, and Seokjin squinted, trying to calm the break-neck speed at which his heart was pounding in his chest. The figure remained as it was, just watching. Then, the wind shifted, and the scent of honeysuckle washed over him like a warm, familiar memory. Seokjin’s blood ran cold.

 

“Jae, what are you doing here?” he said quietly. The figure stepped towards him, the man wearing a thick leather jacket as he came to stand in front of Seokjin.

 

“You reek of rut so badly I caught it outside the entrance,” Jae said simply. “You should be more careful. You know as well as I do that Omegas aren’t the only ones that can get attacked in desolate areas in the middle of the night.”

 

“You’ve always been a little paranoid,” Seokjin said, then hissed as he had to shift his position on the bench a little. Jae stared down at him, muscles tensing as if wanting to move forward. Then, he decided to stand facing the pond, a few feet away and upwind.

 

“Where’s your little Omega kid, isn’t he supposed to be helping you out with that?” Jae spat out, the bitterness evident. “I figured he wouldn’t be enough, but it doesn’t even smell like he tried.

 

“It’s not your business,” Seokjin snapped back, still clutching his lower abdomen and trying to will away the ache. Jae’s presence was certainly not helping any. “Not anymore, at least.”

 

Jae turned around on the spot, and the deep intensity of his eyes, heightened by the orange glow of the streetlamp, took Seokjin’s breath away for a moment, reminding him of why he had been so caught up before.

 

“It didn’t end being ‘my business’ because of me , Seokjin. You were the one that walked away and left me. Yunho has been trying for the last year and a half to find me a mate, but nothing works. Not after you.”

 

Seokjin pressed his lips together, feeling an all-too familiar tightness in his chest. “It was toxic from the beginning, Jae. We were eating each other alive. It wasn’t real .”

 

“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Jae snapped, the gentleness of the past few minutes melting away at the words Seokjin had thrown at him before. “It was fucking real , Seokjin. They just wanted us to think it was fake, because the idea of an Alpha and an Alpha together was something beyond what they knew and were comfortable with. It was real . I loved you. I still love you. If you would just say yes, we could go back, we could do it over and do it right. After all that’s happened, I could convince Yunho that it’ll be okay. Leave the Omega behind, let me fix it for you…” Jae finally, with the aura of a man underwater fumbling for an oxygen tank, fell in front of Seokjin, on his knees on the cold grass as he took Seokjin’s hands in his own. He ran his own long fingers in between Seokjin’s knobbly, crooked ones, pressing kisses to each knuckle, going slower and more sensual each time he did it until he was holding Seokjin’s hand to his mouth, just breathing in the edges of his rut Scent, eyes shut in bliss.

 

“I would help you through the rut,” Jae breathed, clutching the cold, now kiss-peppered hand to his sharp cheekbone, smiling up hopefully at Seokjin. “That’s why you came here and waited, right? You came to see me again, hoping I’d come find you, right? Please , Seokjin. I miss you. It just hurts so much, and I know you’ve been hurting, too. Please, just come back to me.”

 

Seokjin stared down at Jae, his first lover, once his best friend and packmate. He swallowed heavily, staring through the bangs that Seokjin knew without touching were light and soft to the touch, the jawline that was prominent and drawn as if with a knife, the shadows stretched dramatically across his face as he watched Seokjin so intently.

 

“Jin,” Jae exhaled, slipping his hand around Seokjin’s neck and tugging him closer with a firm touch. He pressed a kiss to Seokjin’s cheek, his lips warm and his breath hot. It was harder than Seokjin had anticipated, facing the temptation of the strong and the familiar. Of the indulgent and sweet, sweet Scent of honeysuckle. As Jae leaned in to Scent him, the heady, dizzying sensation reminded Seokjin of the last time he had let himself be held, of the last time he had allowed himself the greediness of a touch heavy with subtext. Another kiss was laid to his skin that didn’t just touch, but tasted , worshipped . He hissed in a breath as Jae suckled at the skin under his jaw, hand tugging roughly at Jin’s hair and rendering him incapable of speaking for several minutes, just wrapped up in the pleasure.

 

“J-Jae,” Seokjin breathed at last, while the Alpha’s hands groped across his skin, starting to peel away the heavy jacket and leaving Seokjin exposed to the freezing night air. “Jae, we can’t do this again. We can’t.”

 

“We’ve both said that so many times.” Jae exhaled, his mouth brushing up against the edge of Seokjin’s lips. “Does it even mean anything at this point?”

 

Seokjin stared at the Alpha before him, offering relief, offering reassurance, offering the known. He was dark and beautiful, and at one word, Jae would willingly become all his once again, both of them on equal ground with the perversion of their souls.

 

“Well, what do you say, my Alpha?” Jae murmured against his skin. Seokjin trembled.

 

Chapter Text


 

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.

― Kurt Vonnegut


 

The sound of laughter surrounded them, young wolves whooping around the campfire, downing cupfuls of cheap alcohol. Seokjin laughed as two of the younger pups tumbled about in the dirt, yipping as they nibbled into each other’s fur. One of them had just Presented last week as an Omega, so he whined about his back still being sore and being tired, much to the teasing of his best friends. Seokjin shook his head, his face flushing from a mixture of the alcohol and laughter as he lingered on the edges of the main circle.

 

Suddenly, a cool hand was covering his eyes, and a familiar warm voice puffed gleefully in his ear. “Guess who?”

 

“Jae!” Seokjin laughed, instinctively raising a hand up to lay over Jae’s, his stomach doing a lovely little flip from the touch. Jae had been his best friend since the moment he had joined the Rising Gods pack, and they were together almost constantly. They shared a room in the pack house, they cooked together, cleaned together, played pranks together. It was as if he had found a soulmate. And since Jae was six years older, he had been the most patient and understanding when Seokjin had gone into his first Alpha rut several months before. Being from a Noble family, Seokjin had known exactly what to expect - but experiencing it first hand had been something entirely different, and late nights lying in their bunks talking had felt much more soothing and calming than any hormone suppressant ever could.

 

“Look! Try it!” Jae was grinning ear to ear, holding out a steaming bowl of some sort of dark liquid that he couldn’t quite identify in the dim light of the campfire. The elder Alpha ran a hand through his blond locks, brushing his bangs back away from his forehead as he pressed the bowl closer to Seokjin.

 

“What is it?” He wrinkled his nose, peering into the unidentified liquid. It smelled strongly of kimchi, but  he didn’t know if he could trust that.

 

“Just try it!” he laughed, the sound breathless and breath-taking as he almost fell forward with amusement at Seokjin’s twisted expression of skepticism. “Oh, come on, Jinnie! I made it especially for you! You don’t trust your best friend?” He pouted prettily at Seokjin, tanned skin glowing in the firelight, his jawline and collar barren in his loose black tank top.

 

“You expect me to just eat something in the dark when I can’t even see it? You think I’m that gullible?!” Seokjin snapped back playfully, widening his eyes as though appalled at the suggestion.

 

“It’s kimchi jjigae, I swear! I made it for you in the main cabin! You trust my cooking, right? It’s the recipe from my mother that you like.”

 

Seokjin paused, wrinkling his nose again, but this time it was a sign of his internal debate. “You’re giving me kimchi jjigae you made while super drunk?”

 

“Seok jiiiiinnie ~” Jae drew out the word in a pitiful, childish whine, leaning his head against Seokjin’s broad shoulder and tilting his head back to look up at the stars above them, so much clearer and easier to see out here than in Seoul. Seokjin held his hands out, cupped underneath because of the nerve-wracking way the jjigae sloshed around in the bowl as Jae moved haphazardly around, afraid the hot liquid would spill into his lap. Jae always got so touchy and needy while drunk, and it was, in all honesty, very cute. His cool looks and appearance hid a playful and fun-loving nature that had made him easy to get close to, and had helped Seokjin warm up to the pack sooner. “You know I could make kimchi jjigae in my sleep! Remember that time I made it when I had that flu? My nose all clogged up and unable to breathe properly?”

“Yeah, and you gave every single person the flu, you idiot.”

 

Jae pouted up at him, tilting his head to meet Seokjin’s eyes, then hesitated. Seokjin could have sworn his gaze had trailed downward, locking in on Seokjin’s lips and refusing to look away. A little shiver of happiness at the attention rolled up Seokjin’s spine, and he purposefully turned to look at the campfire. Jae, however, craned his head over and against Seokjin until he had wriggled his face back into Seokjin’s view.

 

“Yeah, but that was my bad for believing that old myth that idiots never get sick,” he teased, making Seokjin nudge him roughly with his shoulder, thereby spilling the kimchi jjigae on them both. With a shout and a laugh, they stood up and tried to brush the worst of it off their pants, to no avail. Oh, well. It was almost time to shower and sleep anyways, especially judging by how drunk Jae was. Seokjin could have sworn the man drank like a fish, going through several bottles of soju on his own. He had warned the older man about ruining his liver, but that only caused him to nag Seokjin to match him shot for shot the next time, so he had opted out of teasing him much about it lately.

 

“Seokjiiiiiin~” Jae whined, pulling his attention back to the present. He was pouting again. “Why won’t you try my jjigae? I made it especially for you. Take it, you’re always hungry. Why don’t you just let me take care of you without being so reluctant for once? Stop being so stubborn about everything.”

 

“Fine, fine, I’ll eat what’s left of your kimchi jjigae,” Seokjin finally relented with a roll of his eyes, taking the bowl and slipping the silver spoon into the dark soup. Jae watched with a smile on his face as Seokjin blew carefully on the hot liquid, then took a bite. It made him a little nervous, how closely Jae sat and how eagerly he watched every movement Seokjin made, but that had been their way, especially the last few months. They had gotten closer and closer,  until they had a level of skinship that surpassed most of the other pack  members combined. They couldn’t help it - they were both kind of needy.

 

“How is it?” Jae asked, starting to smirk in a way that normally would have made Seokjin concerned, but he was still quite buzzed himself.

 

“Mm, it’s delicious!” Seokjin said, more chipper than he intended, because he knew Jae actually really liked to be praised. Then, the tantalizing, warm sensation of the kimchi soup altered, and Seokjin froze, spoon midway to his mouth. Jae started to laugh as the strong, acidic burn of something spicier than he’d ever eaten before suddenly sprung to life, coating his entire mouth and throat with liquid fire. “OH SHIT. WHAT THE FUCK!?” Seokjin fanned frantically at his mouth, as Jae’s breath was utterly taken away in laughter, watching Seokjin’s face turn colors. After Seokjin starting to loudly whine, Jae took him by the hand, abandoning the jjigae with its ghost pepper snuck into it on the bench for some other poor naive soul, and led him back to their cabin. Once there, Jae laughingly helped Seokjin get several glasses of water, even tenderly dabbing at his sweating forehead with a little washrag as Seokjin sucked on a piece of bread, attempting to soak up the burn.

 

“Your voice was so funny,” Jae teased, “That’s payback for your mayonnaise-yogurt prank from last month.”

 

“You’re an asshole,” Seokjin whined childishly, pouting up at the elder from where he sat on his bunk. And there it was again, that little crackle of something in the air that Seokjin could only stubbornly attribute to the alcohol’s effect. Jae was staring at his mouth again, this time clearly visible in the bright overhead light of the cabin that was empty and silent, save for the two of them. Jae was staring at him, the smile on his face loosened with inattentiveness as he seemed captivated by something he saw in the younger’s face. “W-what is it?” Seokjin tried to play it off, taking another sip of his water before setting the empty glass on one of the ladder rungs.

 

Jae seemed to blink back to life, chuckling a little as he pointed at Seokjin’s face. “Your lips are all swollen and red now.”

 

“That’s your fault,” Seokjin mumbled, pouting. As he did so, Jae seemed overwhelmed with laughter again, and at some point his hand had cupped beneath Seokjin’s chin, tilting his face up so Jae could see the allegedly swollen lips more easily. Then, their eyes met, and Seokjin inhaled a little sharp breath, and the little crackle he had felt between them before seemed to burst open with whatever it had been containing, the gap widening more the longer they stared at each other. Jae’s eyes were angular, all his features sharp and masculine in places where Seokjin’s were softer, something he could only attribute to his still lingering youthfulness. Sometimes, he felt so small and weak with the rest of the pack, and he would have thought he’d feel the same way with the older, handsome, self-assured Alpha. But for some reason, when their gazes met, he saw only fascination there, a curiosity that had been burning for some time, and had been hidden under any available excuse. A thick, intoxicating Scent rose through the cabin, and with a start Seokjin realized it was the smell of honeysuckle and soap, clashing as though fighting for a foothold in dominating the enclosed space.

 

“Seokjin…?” Jae breathed. And Seokjin then realized that his hand was still cupping the younger’s face, and suddenly a soft thumb was reaching out and grazing across his bottom lip, the full mouth parting slightly in surprise.

 

“Jae..? I--”

 

Before he knew it, Jae was bending low onto the bed, pressing his lips roughly onto Seokjin’s. The tingling still lingered on his lips from the spiciness of the pepper, and something in his gut flipped so hard he became dizzy as he felt Jae’s tongue slip out and hungrily run along the length of his lips, eagerly taking in the burning, spice-filled taste of the younger Alpha. Seokjin felt himself being pushed backwards, until he was being laid down across the bed, their feet dangling off the edge and tangling together as Jae tilted his head, his tongue penetrating more deeply into Seokjin’s mouth. An inescapable heat was growing between them, and Seokjin’s hands trembled with nervousness as he gripped his hands into Jae’s hair, uncertainty flowing through up until suddenly Jae pressed his tongue so far into Seokjin’s mouth that he almost choked. He gagged a little in surprise, finding himself shocked to have enjoyed the sensation, and his hands instinctively tugged at Jae’s hair. Instantly, the blond Alpha reacted, moaning loudly into Seokjin’s mouth so much that Seokjin felt it in his bones, tasted it throughout his body, and it became a lovely scent that made his head spin with need. Seokjin tugged harder at Jae’s hair experimentally, thrilled to find the Alpha not pulling away in surprise but instead biting at Seokjin’s lip in retaliation. Seokjin chuckled, his eyes shut as he soaked in the moment of spine-tingling pleasure. Jae grabbed hold of Seokjin’s jaw on either side, pressing his hands in and forcing his head to tilt to the side as he bent low, pressing his nose to Seokjin’s Scent gland and inhaling heavily, Scenting him in a way they had never done before. This wasn’t a playful Scenting when Seokjin wandered past on his way to brush his teeth. This wasn’t a casual Scenting as they sat on the couch talking. This was innately sexual, deep and thrilling in a way he’d never before experienced. Seokjin gasped, his body naturally awash with arousal, and he bucked his hips up into Jae unexpectedly, almost dislodging the Alpha from where he straddled Seokjin to the mattress. When Jae tilted his hips downward, using his weight to pin Seokjin’s slim waist to the bed, Seokjin felt the hot, hardness of his arousal pinning him down, too, and he opened his eyes to see Jae staring down at him, leaning back to watch the man on bottom, his own swollen lips parted as he panted.

 

“I...I can’t...we can’t do this…” Jae exhaled heavily. “But I can’t explain it. I want you.”

 

Seokjin stared up at the broken confusion on his best friend’s face. In that moment, he wasn’t really sure what he wanted. It was something he had never allowed himself the full possibility of exploring, of considering. He liked Jae a lot. He trusted him. He looked up to him. Did he want him? His body seemed to think so, especially when the mere hot exhale of Jae’s breath on his cheek as his hand curled to wrap around the back of Seokjin’s neck had him moaning, bucking his hips upwards again. He pulled on the blond, soft locks between his fingers, forcing Jae’s head back down with a cry from the elder as he pressed their lips back together. He felt himself shuffling his legs until his knees had leverage enough to start shifting himself up and down on the mattress, pressed painfully up against Jae as the bed began to creak. Jae leaned back down to continue Scenting Seokjin, abandoning the action after a moment in favor of biting at the milky skin above Seokjin’s collarbone, making him whimper.

 

A part of him knew that they would regret it in the morning. A part of him also knew that now that they had crossed that threshold, now that they had broken the seal upon on the unsaid, that things would never be the same.

 

“Oh god, Jae!”


~~~~~

Seokjin panted, the world a dizzying, spinning top as though he were in one of those psychedelic paintings Taehyung had liked to collect as a teenager. He didn’t know when he had ended up straddling Jae’s hips, the Alpha on his back lying in the cold, damp grass.

 

Jae’s dark eyes flashed up at him, a little ring of red encircling his irises as he fought for air, Seokjin’s thumbs pressing more and more roughly into the sensitive skin of the man’s beautiful, graceful neck. He wanted to mark it up. He wanted to bite, to make it bleed, to dot it with beautiful colors of purple and green and blue. He wanted to taste everything, to make him whimper and wriggle beneath him in a way Seokjin knew he could, had done countless times.

 

“You always...play so dirty when...you’re rutting,” Jae panted, smirking as his hands fought half-heartedly at Seokjin’s curved fingers, laughing. The vibration played against the skin of his knuckles, making his aching, sore member scream just a little louder. But he saw the look of drugged-out bliss on Jae’s face. And as he froze in place, he remembered all the fights. How Jae’s personality had changed, the longer they had been together, until the smiles had turned into grimaces, the warm, carefree laughter into cackles of self-hatred. He remembered the way the whole pack had turned on them, overturned by their fear of this unknown phenomenon. It hadn’t stayed a secret for long; no amount of playful tumbling and impish nips could explain the coquettish looks they were sharing, or the bruises and cuts that were harder and harder to hide. The most revealing, the most suspicious factor, was the way Seokjin never seemed to be completely free of the lingering trace of Jae’s Scent on him, no matter what he did. He wanted to wear it with pride, he wanted to hold Jae’s hand and reassure him it would all be okay.

 

But neither of them were the same Alphas they had once been. And in the end, Seokjin had had to be the one to walk away, his ultimatum left unchallenged, and his heart broken.

 

Seokjin smelled his tears before he felt them, trailing down his cheeks and falling onto Jae’s bare chest, where at some point Seokjin had roughly removed his shirt and thrown it aside. Jae stared up at Seokjin, puzzled and shivering in the cold night air, whimpering as he reached up for Seokjin’s cheeks, brushing away at the tears.

 

“Jinnie...Seokjinnie, no…” Jae whispered, a gentle huskiness to his voice that sounded like the Jae he had once been, even if Seokjin knew it wasn’t. This was the poisoned Jae, the one that had been called a monster by his own family, protected only by their leader’s pity, which Jae had misunderstood in the way that Jae misunderstood everything now, only seeing and tasting what his Alpha hunger wished for, craved. “Please, don’t leave me. Stay with me, I need you.” Jae tilted his hips up, forcing his body up heavily against Seokjin’s and making the younger fall forward with a loud cry, his body inflamed with sensitivity. “Jinnie, look at you, you’re so beautiful...I want you, please…I need you…”

 

Seokjin started to gasp, overwhelmed with his rut, telling him to go, to take, to force himself to sink below this whirlpool again. It always felt so good at the time. It was so easy , and familiar. The one thing that had helped him walk away was the realization that Jae’s laugh was gone. That in the process of taking what he wanted, what Jae thought he wanted, he had stolen away the thing that had initially kept his heart warm and safe. No cliff had been steep enough, no bite deep enough, no edge sharp enough, the further they went with each other. Two Alphas, fighting for dominance and intoxicated by the struggle, the fact that there was never much of a clear winner, had poisoned them both until every moment was an exercise in power play, to see who was needier, who was hungrier.

 

“I..I can’t…” Seokjin wept, forcing himself to sit up, tilting his head back so he didn’t have to look at the sweating, beautiful, enticing Jae. The stars twinkled dimly above him in the blackness. This wasn’t love , what they had here. It had never been love, not from the first moment. They had loved each other, they had been best friends. But it was never a true love, built on real trust and respect. They had torn down the walls of convention, clawing at everything in a desperate desire to take all, to live the moment, and in the end there had been no time to lay a foundation for anything but addiction and lust. “Jae, I’m sorry… What the fuck...What am I even doing!?” Seokjin continued to sob, pushing himself up off of Jae and throwing himself onto the grass. A brief, whisper of a breeze blew around them, reminding Seokjin that it was below freezing out here, in the darkness of the park. But his rut was so strong, so heavy and burst full now, that he couldn’t even feel the lowered temperature, even as he saw his body shiver. He clutched his stomach, fallen forward sitting on his heels, his fist clenched into the grass as he felt like his very skin was screaming bloody murder at him. Demanding, addicted, poisoned. He didn’t want to take any more, not when it involved stealing pieces of Jae and grinding them up until they were both unrecognizable, both angry and manipulative towards each other.

 

“Why?!” Jae snapped, sitting up as he wiped at his own tears, biting at his lip as it trembled. Jae was the older Alpha, physically built more sturdy, and yet… sometimes he had felt so small in Seokjin’s arms, so weakened and exposed. “Why is it so easy for you to just abandon me, Jin?! You can just walk away from everything we had?”

 

“Because someone had to,” Seokjin moaned, hiccupping into the smell of the earth. He wanted the Scent of honeysuckle. He wanted Jae’s hair in his hands, not the cold, grossness of the grass. “Y-You wouldn’t come with me.”

 

“How could I leave my pack?!” Jae cried out. And Seokjin sighed. They had cycled back into an argument they had had so many times, aloud and in their heads. “You really think just leaving them, after all they’ve done for me, is going to somehow prove my love to you?! I have to give up everything I’ve ever had, while you have the security blanket of your family to turn to when things go foul? That’s not fair , Jin. They are my family. Not all of us are firstborns into Noble families, with an inheritance promised to us.”

 

Seokjin stared into the ground. He didn’t have the heart to clarify, to tell Jae that that right had been revoked, and by Seokjin himself. He didn’t have the right to lead, to control anyone else, when he had no control over himself. When he had explained things as well as he could, his father hadn’t even argued, hadn’t even hesitated. He had revoked Seokjin’s birthright without an argument, and the whole affair had been swept under the carpet, until his brothers had come to him. Seokjin gripped at the grass, hearing it crunch ever so quietly under the pressure. “Then go back to them, Jae. Go back and get healthy. Go back and be protected and have a family.”

 

Jae stared at him in silence, not understanding the unexpected response. Seokjin lifted his eyes, puffy and unfocused from weeping, and glared at the elder, a circle of red around Seokjin’s brown irises.

 

“I said GO ! Get the fuck out of here!”

 

“I...I can’t !” Jae screamed, a snarl filtered in and a whimper punctuating the end as he seemed to crumple and shrink, hugging his arms around himself because Seokjin refused to do it. “I c-can’t do any of it without you. I tried .”

 

“You’ve got to keep trying,” Seokjin insisted, his tone more gentle now. “We both have to.”

 

A chuckle escaped Jae, then, and it was dark, bitter and tasted foul in the air. It wasn’t a laugh from the Jae that Seokjin thought he once could have loved, but a twisted Jae, who could never face the truth evenly. “Is that what you’re doing with the Omega brat? Finding someone who is easy prey to fulfill you, that you can train up to be as you want?”

 

At the mention of Jungkook, a deep growl resonated in Seokjin’s throat, and he snapped a look of rebuke and warning at the older Alpha, his Scent suddenly weighing heavy in the air in challenge.

 

“Jin…” Jae said, his brows furrowing deeply into creased lines, his chin tilted so as to leave his face mostly in shadow. “Just tell me. When did I stop being enough for you? Do you really think he will be enough? A soft little Omega that never challenges you? Do you really think that this is your big happy ending, that we can forget everything, and I’m just the mistake you threw away?”

 

The words stung, because Seokjin himself wasn’t sure he could honestly deny them. He was terrified at the idea of tainting Jungkook, so eager to please and still so starry-eyed when watching his hyung. He looked at Jungkook and saw what he and Jae had once been, before dominating as an Alpha had taken priority over respect, trust, comfort and happiness.

He could have tried reassuring Jae, as he always had. Telling him he was enough, that he was worthwhile, that the hissed lies he had been told were untrue, that he could rise above the stigmas placed on him because of birth and choice of partner, because they had both been born as Alphas. But Seokjin had spent so long in that cycle of reassuring Jae, that he knew it was the last, desperate straw Jae used to try and keep Seokjin from leaving, from sticking to his resolve.

 

“I don’t know,” Seokjin breathed at last, blinking slowly and clearing his eyes of the tears, his jaw set. “But I think he’s my chance - maybe my only chance - so I have to try to be healthy. For myself first, and then for him.”

 

Jae scoffed, and again, Seokjin could hear that the sound didn’t come from the Jae he had once enjoyed so many hours with, had curled up against, fingers entangled against the bedsheets as they watched the sun rise, whispering secrets into the stillness.

 

“Well, good luck with that .” Jae’s voice was mocking, disbelieving, broken.

 

But as Seokjin continued to steadily meet the man’s gaze, he saw his expression crumble. For a moment, a golden, heart-ripping moment, he saw the old Jae in his face. The Alpha leaned his head back, letting out a long cry into the night sky as if begging the heaven’s for a different end, a different conclusion. Then, he twisted over onto his hands and knees, shifting into the dark wolf that Seokjin remembered so well, and he raced off towards the streetlamp, and the entrance.

 

When he was almost out of sight, he stopped, turning to look back and see that Seokjin was still watching him go. He sat back on his hind legs, lifting his face to the moonlight and letting out a low, deep, breathy howl of mourning. The sound vibrated through to Seokjin’s very skeletal core, his breath catching as he shivered from head to toe, as his first love had to die all over again in front of his eyes. He sobbed, falling face first into the grass as his body mourned the loss of another chance at relief, the possible release having been so close, and being thwarted yet again by Seokjin’s ridiculous, naive wish of just being loved, with no strings attached.

 

It was ages before he was able to pick himself up off the grass again. He couldn’t afford to stay there much longer, based on the way the sky was starting to go gray, and he really didn’t want to be caught in such a state. The cold had, luckily, frozen and dried most of the traces of his tears, and he huddled into his jacket even as his body continued to throb distractingly with need. He picked up his cell phone from where it had been forgotten on the bench, shoving it into his pocket without a glance as he went to weakly clamber back up over the fence, much more weakly and sluggishly this time.

 

The sleazy hotel he had been staying in reeked of smoke, always carrying the thin bite of vomit and Omega slick, but they asked no questions as Seokjin stumbled past the front desk, the Scent of his arousal not even earning a curious glance. He flopped down onto the bed where he had been hiding out most of the last week and a half,  and sighed. He rubbed at his eyes, feeling hopeless. Even beyond the emotional draining he had just gone through a few hours earlier, Seokjin was about to go crazy from his rut. He knew he probably wouldn’t be able to sleep again, staring up at the ceiling and willing his body not to grind up uselessly into the blankets, unfulfilled and with no hope of satisfaction as hours and hours ticked by in silence.

 

He moved to plug his cell phone in, and that was when he noticed the light blinking on it, telling him he had a notification. Though before running into Jae, he had eagerly jumped to his phone for any word with Jungkook, he now hesitated before clicking to open the app, feeling nausea sinking into the pit of his stomach. Was Jae right? Was he just ‘training’ and preparing Jungkook to be the mate - or the sex partner, more like - that he wanted? He had been the younger party once, he knew the appeal of an older, more experienced Alpha. He knew the pull of hormones, the way it confused and tore at the body until all he could do was ache. Jungkook had reassured him that it wasn’t his heat that induced his feelings, but how could he have been so sure? Would his feelings eventually just be revealed as lust, shallow and weakened easily by the absence of a satisfactory Alpha? You can’t keep running, Seokjin. You have to put the hard questions to yourself without hesitating all the time, goddamn it.

 

Seokjin took in a deep breath, then opened the application, surprised to see a rather long series of messages from the Omega, instead of his brief daily summaries.

 

11:58 Seokjin, where are you tonight? I went outside to take out the trash and noticed the sky is really clear, you can even see the stars! They don’t show up on my camera, though. Yoongi said that you need a special lens or something to capture the night sky. I’ll ask him about it sometime. Did you see it?

 

12:22 I have to go to bed soon. Also, I think Namjoon and Taehyung miss you, too. Namjoon smells like stress lately, although he hasn’t said anything to me, I think he’s worried about the pups or something. Taehyung seems sad, too. He said that you had never been away for this long, except when you were in your first pack. He’s eaten all your cereal because he said it served you right for leaving him. I think he just missed you and didn’t know what else to do about it.

 

12:25 Seokjin...are you okay? I’m trying to be patient, but it’s hard. The house isn’t the same without you, you know?

 

12: 25 Come home, soon. You’re missing things, and it hurts. Not just for me, but for the pack.

 

1:03 Seokjin. I went to go to sleep but there’s one more thing I want to say. Don’t make fun of me for it, okay? Haha.

 

1:07 I want you to know that you’re not just my ALPHA. You’re one of the most amazing wolves I’ve ever met. As a person, I admire you a lot, since you always look out for others, and you always make me laugh. I feel safe with you. Braver. Please don’t doubt me and come home so I can prove it to you. I may not be very good at it but I want to try. Goodnight.

 

Seokjin stared at the messages for ages, his mouth parted as he mouthed each word, his chest and neck throbbing with the strain of all the jumbled up emotions he was trying to keep captive there. He turned his face into the pillow and sobbed, feeling as though his soul had received the gentlest little gift of reassurance, of hope.

 

He was still crying uncontrollably as he typed back his first message to any of the pack since he had left.

 

Thank you.


Chapter Text


 

“Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.”

― Roy T. Bennett


 

“Chiim-Chiiim~” Taehyung moaned from where he stood in the doorway, light spilling in and casting his face in shadow. Jimin let out a little groan as he half-awoke, rolling over and away from the Beta and his stupid lovely citrus smell and his consciousness that was not sleeping, and attempted to go back to dreamland. He was seriously behind on sleep and it was his one day off during the week, and therefore his only chance to sleep in. There was the soft pad of Taehyung’s bare feet on the polished wooden floors, and Jimin could feel his sleep being stolen from him with the man’s mere presence. “Chiminie, I need your help…”

 

Jimin groaned again, but he heard that tell-tale whine in Taehyung’s voice. He craned his head to look over his shoulder, squinting one eye open to see a very flushed and tired-looking Taehyung standing over him, rubbing at one eye with the heel of his palm and pouting down at him. Jimin frowned. It wasn’t fair for him to be that cute and smell so good that early in the...was it even morning ?! Jimin reached over to click to his phone lockscreen, and the clock said 4:12.

 

“Tae-tae, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning, what the hell could you want at this hour?”

 

In response, Taehyung just pouted, reaching over and tugging on Jimin’s sheets. “ Help meee…”

 

“Help you what ?!” Jimin hissed, not wanting to wake the others, since he noticed the door to their room was open and the hallway light was on.

 

“I... need a bath…”

 

What!?

 

“Please?” Taehyung whimpered, tugging harder on the sheets. Jimin felt tense with irritation, and he took in a sharp inhale through his teeth, carding a hand through his bangs and trying to calm himself down. It wasn’t like Taehyung to be this obstinate about something, and he actually couldn’t bathe himself very well with one arm bandaged up. Jimin had been one of the main people he had asked to help him, but he was usually pretty considerate about when.

 

“Okay, fine . But why now ?!” Jimin grumbled, curling up and rolling off the bed in a half-tumble suddenly, and nearly bumping into Taehyung. And that was when he smelled it. Sure, it was just the smell of citrus mostly, Taehyung’s own unique Scent. But whereas usually it wafted through the air quite neutrally, like a Taehyung-brand air freshener, right now….he smelled like he’d soaked in it for hours. Jimin hissed, then, catching an undertone of something else. Something thick that bit at his senses and put him on high alert.

 

“Oh my god…” he breathed, caught in a moment of numb surprise. “ Now ?”

 

Taehyung whimpered. “Will you just come help me?! Your sleepy-angry voice is just…ugh.” Taehyung snarled, turning on his heel and stomping out of the room. Jimin gaped after him. It had been three months since Jungkook’s Presenting, and in all honesty, Namjoon and Yoongi had warned them that it would probably be a long time before Taehyung showed any signs of increased Omega hormones, especially since 1) Namjoon refused to let them Mate until at least the summer and 2) Taehyung had been so exposed to Jungkook’s heat, there was more of a danger of Taehyung’s Beta hormones shifting to an Alpha side, particularly since he’d had to physically defend the very hormone-heavy Omega. So they hadn’t expected this. Well, in all honesty, the two of them had been hoping for it, but without much of a chance. Had sharing a room really had that much of an effect on Taehyung?

 

Jimin shuffled quickly off the bed after his boyfriend, finding him already in the bathroom and turning the hot water on as best as he could with one hand. He bent over to plug the bottom of the tub, letting out a little cry and almost falling over and clutching at his lower belly. Jimin shot forward, scooping him up into his embrace so that he wouldn’t fall in the tiny bathroom, and Taehyung let out a little yelp that echoed loudly.

 

“Shhhh… I’ve got you,” Jimin said quietly into his ear, pushing the bathroom door closed with his foot without looking over his shoulder. Hopefully, they hadn’t woken anyone up.

 

“Jiminie...I feel gross …” Taehyung whined noisily, still holding onto the side of the tub with one hand. In the light of the bathroom, Jimin could see that the crotch of his pants was clinging to his form, wet with slick. He felt goosebumps rush up his spine, and tried to breathe through his mouth as he turned the bathroom fan on. “And I feel so achy.”

 

“Um… how about we use some of Yoongi’s bath salts? They might be soothing.” Jimin glanced up at Yoongi’s shelf, usually an off-limits area to the younger wolves, but surely he wouldn’t mind, just this once? He had at least six different kinds, after all, surely he wouldn’t miss if they used just a bit.

 

“Jimin…” Taehyung said quietly, “I...I think you should let go of me, I think I’m gonna be sick?”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Jimin slipped his arm out from around Taehyung, straightening up and moving to step away towards the bathroom shelf when Taehyung stiffened, still holding onto the tub as the hot steam from the bath started making the air in the room thicker. In all honesty, Jimin was a bit confused. Had he gotten the flu in combination with his heat? Or was this just the backlash of a Beta’s hormones switching?

 

“Shit...it’s worse when you let go…”

 

“What?”

 

“Nothing,” Taehyung waved him off, wriggling out of his pajama pants awkwardly, yanking the waistband with his good arm. Jimin dug through Yoongi’s bath salts, finding a small black box and peering inside, seeing that it was barely used. He moved to the tub and dumped a good amount into the running water, and Taehyung waited for him to help him get his shirt off. The smell of salt and some kind of plant filled the air, and the mirror was already starting to fog up.

 

“Careful, you can take it slow,” Jimin soothed, gently untangling the shirt off Taehyung, careful that he didn’t get any limbs caught in the large holes he had cut into it - his own habit ‘for the sake of fashion’. Taehyung’s movements were sluggish as he stepped into the bathwater, hissing at the heat while Jimin turned off the tap. His face was flushed, expression strained as he situated himself in the water, cautious about holding his injured arm on the outer edges of the tub. The now foggy-white looking water only came up to about halfway up his torso, and Jimin tried not to stare at the way Taehyung’s thin, tanned chest moved with his rapid breathing as he adjusted to the water, his dark nipples catching the Alpha’s eye as he awkwardly shuffled around for a washrag.

 

“Is it too hot?” Jimin asked, his voice thicker than he intended it to be.

 

“No, I’m just feverish,” Taehyung bemoaned, still pretty while pouting. He leaned back against the wall, looking up at the ceiling and closing his eyes. He looked so tired already, that it was quickly waking Jimin up to full alert. It would be dangerous if he passed out in the tub or fell, so he was glad Tae had asked for help.

 

“At least now we know you’ll go into an Omega heat, right?” Jimin offered, not only to offer Taehyung some reassurance but also to distract himself from the way Taehyung’s skin looked in the water, his head tilting back leaving his long, dark neck exposed in a way he was sure Taehyung wasn’t self-aware of. This was the blessing and the curse of being in love with Kim Taehyung - he was beautiful, yes. He was also extremely down-to-earth and sweet. But the downside was that he really wasn’t aware of his own effect, of the way his aura could change a room - or Jimin’s state of mind. As someone who was always hyper-aware of his own physicality and concerned with maintaining an atmosphere, Jimin got thrown by Taehyung’s easygoing nature. It was like he only saw himself in a certain light, and remained oblivious to his own model-looks and erotic appeal. Jimin was sure his death was going to be Kim Taehyung, and he couldn’t really say he minded. He was secretly really happy that Taehyung had asked him to take care of him, though. As an Alpha, he hadn’t exactly been able to do much for the Beta since they had become ‘official,’ and it made him feel useful to have the chance to tend to the younger male.

 

Slowly, Jimin dipped the washrag into the water, the bath salts now carrying an almost sickly-sweet smell as he wrung out the excess water and placed the rag against Taehyung’s shoulder with a slight splatting noise. He massaged back and forth, swallowing heavily and staring at Taehyung’s face for a reaction. Taehyung’s dark eyebrows peeked out from under his sweat-clumped bangs, allowing Jimin to see the way they furrowed deeply, and Taehyung’s mouth parted slightly as he gave a little moan. Jimin’s hand paused for a moment, until he realized he had stopped with his fingertips hovering over Taehyung’s nipple, and he quickly ducked his head and continued.

 

“I didn’t know your first heat would be this…? Strong, I guess?” Jimin murmured quietly, wanting to fill the silence.

 

“It’s probably not even a full heat. The first ones usually aren’t,” Taehyung explained flippantly, shifting in the water a little and creating a sloshing sound. “Jungkook’s was a weird exception.”

 

“O-Oh…” Jimin breathed, returning to wiping Taehyung down. Then why did Taehyung smell so strongly?

 

“It means this should only last a couple days, though--Ah!” Taehyung gasped, wrinkles forming on his brow as Jimin moved over the spot just above his belly button.

 

“I’m s-sorry, was that too much?” Jimin whispered, as Taehyung reached out with his good hand and caught hold of Jimin’s wrist.

 

“N-no, it just felt really good , is all,” Taehyung muttered, his eyes still shut. Jimin stared at the boy, mouth slightly agape. How could he say things like that aloud so flippantly? Didn’t he know that Jimin could be affected, too? Jimin dipped the rag in the water again, his fingers tingling a little from the heat of the water as he placed the rag up around Taehyung’s  neck, massaging through the rag. The boy instantly keened, tilting his head further back and his chest caving forward. “Shit... that’s too much. I’m more sensitive than I thought I’d be…”

 

“Oh...should I...leave?” Jimin hesitated, uncertainty blooming in his chest at the way Taehyung’s body suddenly seemed so tense. “Maybe it would be better if Yoongi or Kiara helped you? Or maybe Jungkook can leave his shift a little early…?” Having an Omega around was the norm for Unmated wolves in heat, because having Alphas around usually just spiked up their hormones and arousal - an Omega usually was not affected by another Omega during heat times. But in Taehyung’s case, according to Yoongi, there was a chance of an intruding Omega’s hormones counteractively affecting a Beta’s heat so badly that it would aggravate Taehyung’s dormant Alpha hormones instead, staunching his heat but possibly sending him into a rut, if powerful enough. So in this case, Jimin felt lost and uncertain, stuck on what to do.

 

“No, please don’t wake them,” Taehyung mumbled sleepily, lolling his head to the side and finally opening his eyes. His eyes didn’t quite seem to focus with the kind of needle-point directness that Taehyung was famous for, more glassy and distant and with a ring of tell-tale Beta gold around his irises as he took Jimin’s hand in his. “I feel bad enough already, but...I want you .”

 

Jimin felt his chest constrict in a lovely way, working at his lip to try and calm down the smile that was blossoming there. “Well, let’s just hurry and clean you up, then maybe we can try to get some sleep?”

 

“Sounds good.” Taehyung murmured. Then, to Jimin’s surprise, he took Jimin’s hand and pressed it to his lips in a gentle kiss. Jimin had to remind himself to breathe for the rest of the bath, and was relieved when Taehyung was finally clean and dry in new pajamas with a protective pad for any future slick, still smelling heavily like citrus and the bath salts. He leaned heavily against Jimin as they went back to their bed, looking as though he was about to collapse at any moment. Whether it was from sleepiness or being overwhelmed, Jimin couldn’t quite figure out.

 

“D-did you get anything on the bed?” Jimin whispered, his arm wrapped around Taehyung’s waist.

 

“No, it was all on my sheet.” Taehyung seemed to flush, “I already got rid of it.”

 

“Okay, that’s good,” Jimin reassured him, laying him on the bed. He was going to get a second sheet from the linen closet, but when he moved to stand Taehyung gripped hard at his shirt.

 

“No, don’t leave,” Taehyung mumbled, pouting like a child told he couldn’t have any dessert after supper. “It feels better when you stay close.”

 

“Um, okay. But I have to get a fresh sheet for you first, just in case...you know. I’ll only be a minute, okay?”

 

Taehyung frowned, but let go of Jimin’s shirt, albeit reluctantly. Jimin was a little confused at just how clingy Taehyung had become, but he supposed he shouldn’t be. After all, the two of them had seen how emotional a heat had made Jungkook when Seokjin had left, even after the fever broke. He hurried to clean the bathroom up, replacing the bath salts and shutting the light off before grabbing a couple of sheets from the linen closet and returning to find Taehyung wriggling restlessly on the bed. As soon as he saw Jimin, he seemed to relax a little, reaching out for him. Jimin crawled up next to him, letting Taehyung wrap his body around his torso as best as he could with his injury, one leg hooked around Jimin’s waist and pulling him close. Jimin could smell the dampness already collecting in the dark warmth between Taehyung’s parted legs, the core of the heat pressed up against the skin of his hip. In all honesty, Taehyung smelled and felt wonderfully warm and comfortable, in a way that was different than usual. Jimin’s head spun a little as he snuggled in close, happy to be close to Tae but now quite wide awake.

 

A few hours later, he woke up to the sensation of Taehyung moving around. He jolted awake as he realized that Taehyung was nibbling at his neck, the skin there feeling raw and rubbed, while Taehyung was slowly squeezing his lower half against Jimin’s hip in his sleep. The Alpha stared up at the ceiling in shock for a few moments, not sure what he was supposed to do. Taehyung was letting out little whimpers in his sleep, his hip rolling against him in smooth, needy motions. After a moment, Jimin reached over and tentatively shook at Taehyung’s shoulder.

 

“Tae-tae...Um...Tae-tae, wake up.”

 

“Mm?” Taehyung murmured, his movements slowing but his eyes still shut.

 

“Tae-tae, you’re...um...Your heat is getting stronger. Is there anything I can…? Um. I mean, I know you--...uh..” He hated feeling so uncertain, but Taehyung’s strange behavior wasn’t making things any easier. They had discussed what they might do if Taehyung’s heats began, and whether from the high of their almost public confession or his inner romanticist, Taehyung had said he wanted their first time to be their Mating night, that everything should start there, and properly. Jimin had warned him at the time that he might regret it, checking again and again in the following weeks to see if he was still sure. Now they were here, and it was Taehyung who was humping his leg in the night, and Jimin wasn’t sure how to handle a situation like this. Taehyung panted into his ear, his arousal unquenched as he continued to rock his hips, whimpering at his lack of release.

 

“You smell so nice, Jimin,” Taehyung cooed, still half-asleep, his breath blowing hot against Jimin’s cheek. Jimin looked over at his clock. It wasn’t even 7:30 yet. He sighed, trying to coax Taehyung to release his hold on the Alpha’s hip, but to no avail. It was going to be a long couple of days.

 

~~~~~

 

“Jeon, you’re taking the path near the library again. There’s an Omega freshmen who has already called in needing an escort around 1am.” His supervisor, Lee, took down a note on his clipboard, not even glancing up at the boy as he scanned his list of names. There were about eight or nine other students on duty tonight for the campus patrol, all also criminal justice majors in need of some experience hours. Before, he had gotten along with the other patrollers pretty well, considering he barely spoke. But things had changed a bit since the new year began.

 

“I can’t believe we’re sending an Omega to escort an Omega,” came a poorly hushed whisper behind him, and Jungkook gripped the edge of the table a little more tightly, but managed to look otherwise unaffected. Some days it was awkward, being the only Omega on his team, or even in his department. There was one Beta, but he worked day shift and their paths never crossed. Not that he’d expect the guy to stand up for him on his behalf or anything. Most of the people who presented as Omega dropped their position on the campus police immediately, sometimes in the same day. In just the eight months he’d been working here, he’d seen four new Omegas leave, and really, he didn’t blame them. It was Alphas that had the image of intimidation, of having the ability to be aggressive and to protect, not Omegas. But whether it was from the voice of Yoongi in the back of his head or his determination to break unchallenged ground, or just a genuine enjoyment of the job, Jungkook had decided to stay.

 

Once assignments were given out, most of the officers stood up to the grinding screams of metal chair legs on the industrial-grade flooring, and everyone filtered out of the building. Jungkook readjusted his radio on his hip, and glanced up to see Lee standing in front of him. He was a super senior student, about to graduate in the spring, and Jungkook liked him well enough. He was one of those people that, if he hadn’t been in a position of authority, would be fairly easy to forget. A broad, squarish forehead and tan skin, with burly arms that seemed out of proportion with the rest of his body, hanging looped at his sides as though he was physically incapable of hanging them down straight.

 

“Jeon, do you want some back-up with you…?” Lee questioned, his voice low and attempting to sound unassuming. Jungkook felt his jaw clench at the underhanded skepticism.

 

“Why would I need backup for a normal patrol?” Jungkook asked breezily, trying to smile as though unbothered. It was kind of insulting, really. He could have understood it if Lee was trying to be considerate about a health concern or something, but when he wasn’t in the throes of a heat, how was he different from an Alpha, really? He didn’t see the point in being treated so delicately.

 

“I’m just offering, you know. To play on the safe side,” Lee said quietly.

 

“If I need backup, I won’t hesitate to call for it, “ Jungkook reassured him. “Until then, I’ll pull my own weight, I promise.”

 

Lee pressed his thin lips together, as though considering further comment, but he decided against it. Jungkook shook his head once the supervisor had left, letting out a little sigh as he went out on his patrol.

 

Jungkook had specifically picked being one of the night patrol officers. He liked the hours, deep into the graveyard shift and in the quieter moments on campus, with less people. He liked the uniform, the way it made him feel self-assured and confident, like he was powerful and unquestioned when people glanced his way. His walk was different, the way he carried himself worlds away from the boy who still felt most comfortable under the table. He liked the duality, the segregation like he had two lives he was living. Things were more complicated after becoming an Omega, yes. But he liked a challenge.

 

He walked up to the now-darkened biology building, a young woman standing underneath the main archway with her arms crossed, a heavy-looking backpack on and looking sleepy. Jungkook walked up to her slowly, offering a smile when she glanced up.

 

“Good evening. Are you…?” he pulled out his assignment sheet, scanning for the most recent name. “Kim Jimin?”

 

“Yes,” she said quietly, pushing off of the wall. Jungkook tried not to think about how her posture reminded him of another Kim who was frustratingly AWOL from his pack right now.

 

“I’m Jeon Jungkook, I’m part of the campus police. You requested an escort back to your dorm?”

 

“I...yes…Thank you?” She sounded awkward, and adjusted her backpack before stepping forward, away from the well-lit entrance to the biology building. Jungkook glanced up, spotting the security camera she had been sitting underneath. She was a smart girl.

 

“One of my roommates’ name is Jimin,” Jungkook said with a smirk, sensing her nervousness in the air and knowing it was part of his job to make her feel more relaxed. “But he’s a boy.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah, I like to tease him about it sometimes.” He smiled, leading the way and asking which of the dorms she was living in. It turned out she had had some fruit flies she was using for her main report this semester, and they needed to be tended to at very specific times, leaving her the last one in her lab most days.

 

“I was walking by myself before, but my roommate insisted I use the free escort service on campus,” she explained quietly, as they passed a poorly lit student parking lot. “She says there’ve been more reports of attacks on Omegas late at night.”

 

“That’s true,” Jungkook agreed, and although he wanted to argue with the point more, he refrained. “And the service is free, and I’m on duty all night either way, so don’t hesitate to call.”

 

She nodded, giving him a little side glance before saying, “Um, if you don’t mind my asking… You’re an Omega too, aren’t you?”

 

Jungkook’s work-smile stiffened a little, but he nodded clearly.

 

“I didn’t know Omegas could be part of the campus police?”

 

“We can, but most don’t want to.” Jungkook tried to make his voice sound light-hearted and flippant, but in all honesty, he was getting a little tired of this conversation. “I’m the only Omega on my team.” He shrugged, and let Yoongi’s oft-repeated words fall from his lips, “There’s no reason an Omega can’t do anything an Alpha can do, really.”

 

“I suppose not,” she smiled. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very cool of you. And I think I understand how you feel. I mean...I’m the only girl in any of my biology classes. You would think we’d be beyond that kind of thing now, but…”

 

Jungkook nodded, his eyes glancing over at a couple of figures walking together down towards where the stadium was. “If not us, then who, right?”

 

“Right, that’s how I see it, too.” She flushed a little, smiling down at her feet shyly. “To be honest, that’s kind of why I picked biology? I mean, the things we’re learning about how hormones in the different types work, how suppressants actually affect the body, things like that… I think it’s fascinating. And in all honesty, it makes me feel a bit like I can regain a little control back, as an Omega? People just see us as slaves to our hormones sometimes, you know?”

 

He almost stopped walking, then. This was the most talkative any of the students he had had to escort had been, and of course it was all about how he was an Omega, that label of status that he was confused and simultaneously wanted to be proud of. It was complicated, but he could see that reflected in Kim Jimin’s eyes.

 

“Actually…” Jungkook began slowly, “That’s also why I stayed on. I’ve already experienced what it’s like, having to be protected as an Omega. It didn’t seem fair to rely on others so much. I can’t change how my body reacts to things like that, but...I want to do everything I can to protect others , instead of being protected all the time. It only seems fair that I do whatever I can, right?”

 

Jimin smiled, nodding in agreement. “I feel the exact same way.  And with the recent advancements they’re trying to make with hormone studies, it’s very possible that in the future, no one will care whether someone is an Alpha or an Omega anymore. We may be even able to stop heats from happening altogether, and safely. Wouldn’t that be lovely?”

 

Jungkook thought for a moment, “And ruts too, maybe?”

 

She seemed to consider that, looking more than a little surprised, but she still smiled softly. “Maybe.”

 

“Well,” Jungkook sighed, feeling his chest constrict the way it always did when his mind wandered in this direction, back towards a familiar smiling Alpha and his shining eyes. He gestured up to the doorway of the girl’s dorm.”Here we are, safe and sound. Your roommate can rest assured.”

 

“Thank you so much,” she said.

 

“Not at all, it’s my job.”

 

“But even so…” she readjusted her backpack one more time. “And good luck to you.”

 

“To you, too.”

 

The walk back to his patrol area felt suddenly much quieter than before he had escorted the girl, and Jungkook was having a hard time getting back into the headspace of his work. The moon shone brightly in the sky, abnormally large and almost perfectly round, as he crossed the little bridge that led to the library, a mostly dried up creek gurgling below him in the dimness. Jungkook paused on the bridge, watching the moon for a few moments. He knew he was given the patrol near the library because it was one of the smallest and least active, therefore less likely to have unexpected trouble. But he really didn’t mind that so much, because it was one of his favorite parts of campus, anyways. He watched the moon, his sensitive hearing still alert to any rustling or noises around him, and wondered if Seokjin was asleep by now, if he was doing well. He wanted to ask Seokjin what he thought about new studies on controlling or even eradicating ruts and heats. If it wasn’t for their hormones getting in the way, would Seokjin have had fewer doubts about Jungkook’s feelings? If it wasn’t for going into his rut, and wanting to deal with his personal problems on his own, would he have been able to stay? Jungkook still didn’t have any answers.

 

The rest of his shift went rather quickly, and it was almost 11 in the morning by the time he headed home, feeling tired but accomplished. His shifts had been longer, mostly because he was actively trying to prove himself, as well as to keep himself occupied.

 

He pulled out his phone and flipped through some of his most recent photos, until he found the one he had taken that morning. Around sunrise, he had managed to be back on the bridge in time to catch a rather vibrant shot of the bright morning sun shining through the bridge and the trees, with just the right balance of blue sky to hold the eye’s attention. He sent it to Seokjin, now that he was off-duty, with the caption:

 

The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Come home soon.

 

He smiled, pocketing his cell phone and letting out a sigh. It was already March, and everything was warming up slowly, thawing with a frustrating stillness. He knew that at some point after Seokjin had sent him that ‘Thank you’ message that the Alpha had contacted Namjoon at least, and let him know he was alright. Jungkook hadn’t asked Namjoon directly, but he just knew from the way the lead Alpha had seemed to relax and stop going pale whenever his elder brother was mentioned. He also sensed that Yoongi knew, but neither of them were telling Jungkook anything, probably worried that he would run off to go find Seokjin and insist that he come home right away. But Jungkook had no such intentions. Seokjin was most likely back to attending his classes, since as far as Jungkook understood, life as a med student was hell and without much elbow room for absences, even for ruts or pack issues. If Jungkook had really wanted to seek him out, he could have always hounded the science buildings or found out which courses he had had to take that semester. But Jungkook had said he was going to do his best to be patient and give Seokjin the time he needed, and that was exactly what he was doing. He would have thought that the longer he had to wait, the more nervous he would have gotten, but it was almost as if the contrary were true - with each passing day, he grew more and more sure of the fact that Seokjin was going to come home to him. It was like the feeling of eating a healthy, filling meal after a long time of eating junk food. There was no real reason to feel uplifted and more self-assured - he just did .

 

Jungkook passed a small throng of backpack toting students, nearly bumping into them as he crossed the bridge home. He was about to pull out his phone again to see if Seokjin had seen his messages, even though it had been less than a minute since he had sent them, when suddenly a Scent hovered in the air, catching his immediate attention despite its fleeting nature. Jungkook halted immediately mid-step on the bridge, eyes wide and nose slightly lifted as he turned to lean over the railing, watched another group of about eight students walking along the path on the other side of the bridge. In the midst of them, although toward the back and moving listlessly, was a figure he knew well. A figure he could pick out of any crowd, even if the comforting smell of soap hadn’t been enough of an indication.

 

He wore an extremely oversized tan sweater, with a loose hood and wide body to it that seemed to be eating him whole, even though Seokjin was known for his broad build. The sleeves fell down over his hands, making him look quite small. His jeans and shoes looked torn, and as though they had seen better days, and Seokjin himself looked utterly exhausted, a strange pinkness to the apples of his cheeks and to his lips, and his eyes nearly shut as his puffy face was tilted toward his feet. He looked beautiful, soft, ethereal. My Alpha. Jungkook’s face lit up with glee, and he rushed to the edge of the railing, placing his hands on the stone and staring out in disbelief at the man.

 

“Seokjin!” Jungkook called out, and a couple of the students looked up automatically at his voice. “Seokjin! Seokjin!”

 

He watched as the Alpha lifted his head a little, still looking forward and therefore away from where Jungkook was waving to him from the bridge. It seemed he hadn’t heard or seen him, due to the distance between. Jungkook rushed forward to run to him, suddenly stopped by a series of half a dozen bikers who were chatting back and forth casually. Frustrated, he tried to sidestep his way around them and nearly made one of them crash into him. By the time he had jogged to the end of the bridge, the hooded figure had vanished. Jungkook searched around hopelessly, his eyes wide and his heart pounding excitedly even as he felt disappointed at having missed him. Perhaps their timing had been a little off, but every fiber of his being was screaming that this was a sign . He practically ran all the way home.


~~~~~

 

“Jimin! Jimin!” Jungkook called out gleefully, rushing into the house and tossing his bags haphazardly under the kitchen table. The Alpha turned around from where he had been shuffling things around in the freezer, an eyebrow arched in curiosity, and his face looking soft with sleepiness. “I saw him! I saw him by the bridge near the library!”

 

“Who?”

 

Seokjin !” Jungkook gasped out, still breathless from the run-in. He was beaming from ear to ear, his eyes sparkling as he gripped the counter top. The end-of-shift exhaustion was practically forgotten, and his chest felt like it was expanded enough to fill the entire house. “It’s a sign , Jimin! He’s going to come home soon, I just know it!”

 

“Are you sure it was him?” Jimin asked, a little skeptical as he removed ice from an ice tray and put them into a plastic bag, refilling the tray with water before returning it.

 

“Yes, I’m positive! He looked so sleepy…” Jungkook’s excitement bubbled down for a minute as he considered, “I wonder if he’s getting enough rest… He is a med student, after all.”

 

“Then he’s definitely not sleeping,” Jimin said, yawning long and hard as if to emphasize his point. Jungkook stopped, cocking his head to the side and taking in Jimin’s bedhead and generally disheveled look.

 

“What happened to you?” Jungkook queried, looking him up and down. Jimin flushed a little.

 

“Um...Taehyung started his heat. At like 4 this morning.”

 

Jungkook’s mouth dropped open in surprise and realization. “Oh wow… Does he...does he need anything? Should I run to the store or something?”

 

Jimin looked around the kitchen, as if double-checking that they were the only ones around, then said quietly to Jungkook, “To be honest, it’s hit him rather hard. He said he wanted to wait and he can’t exactly use suppressants, since it’s his first heat, but… I’m a little worried? I don’t think it’s supposed to be this strong.”

 

“Well, my first heat was pretty strong, too…” Jungkook mumbled. “Is it because there are so many of us?”

 

“Mm…” Jimin hummed, contemplating, “I don’t think so. I’m just… I’m worried. He’s a Beta. What if...what if I messed up his hormones somehow, and didn’t realize it? It’s my fault he even has to have heats, really…”

 

Jungkook frowned, his voice going quieter, more hesitant. “Jimin… I don’t think Taehyung sees it that way at all…”

 

“I know, I know ,” Jimin sighed. “But I’m his Alpha, after all. I’m partially responsible. I just want to make this as easy as possible for him.”

 

“In that case…” Jungkook mumbled, staring at the floor, “I suggest you just stay with him.”

 

Jimin inhaled sharply, his hands clutching tightly at the makeshift ice pack in his hands as he frowned sympathetically at the Omega. “Jungkook…”

 

Jungkook’s lips quirked up into a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes as he looked up and met Jimin’s gaze. “I mean it. Just having you near means a lot, I’m sure. That’s what he wants the most, heat or not, you can know that for sure. And...let me know if you guys need anything? Like medicine or laundry or whatever… I can’t do much, and I won’t stay too long because I don’t want to accidentally make his hormones shift again, but…”

 

Jimin smiled, leaning in to nudge his nose fondly against Jungkook’s jaw, lifting his chin up in a jerking, playful movement. “Thanks. I appreciate that.” Jungkook nodded, moving to crawl back underneath the table when Jimin called his name again. He paused, looking up at the Alpha said quietly, “And even though I’m still kind of angry at Seokjin for leaving you like that, and I’m not sure what to think of him… I want you to know I’m wishing you all the best. You know that, right?”

 

Jungkook smiled, broadly and with warmth as he nodded. “Thanks, Jimin.”

 

The Alpha moved upstairs with his ice pack, and Jungkook shifted his blankets underneath the table around. He had spent the first week or so when they came back from the island sleeping in Seokjin’s room, much to the others’ chagrin, but eventually, Jungkook had found it too depressing. The room smelled like Seokjin but it was very painfully and obviously void of Seokjin himself, and eventually Jungkook had ended up back in his old favorite sleeping spot underneath the table.

 

He had noticed, though, that since his first heat, many subtle things had changed. His senses were heightened, and pickier. Sometimes he stole the box of detergent from the laundry room and slept with it under his table, hiding it so the others didn’t see, because the powdery clean smell was almost like Seokjin’s. He also noticed that Hoseok and Namjoon were less physically affectionate with him, the former of which hadn’t really gotten as physically close since he had Presented, as though struggling with the adjustment that Jungkook was an Omega. Finally, Jungkook had noticed that although he was under his table as usual, the arrangement of his things underneath had changed. Instead of laying things out neatly and as compactly as possible, he had almost built a little fortress out of blankets, rolling them up high along the perimeters under the table and padding the bottom with all the extra blankets he could find. It was getting easier, the warmer the weather got,to find neglected and unneeded ones. Sometimes when he was curled up in it, reading or playing on his phone, the others would make a teasing comment about “Jungkook’s nest” and chuckle softly before going about their business. He wasn’t sure why this had changed, but it felt significant - enough so that even the light-hearted, well-meaning comments made him feel defensive enough that at times, he wanted to tack up sheets to the bottom of the table and make it into pseudo curtains, blocking out the teasing eyes out of the outside world and leaving him in the peace and quiet therein, while he waited patiently for Seokjin.

 

He opened his phone, seeing that Seokjin had seen his sunrise photo. With a smile, he added another message:

 

I saw you this morning from the bridge, Seokjin! I called out to you, but I don’t think you heard me. You looked so tired. Please rest well! I just finished my night-watch, so I’m going to sleep now, too.I was so happy to see you! Come home soon!!

 

He curled up happily inside his ‘nest,’ preparing to doze off with the contented assurance that his Alpha was finally going to be back where he belonged - with him, so that they could finally begin. Then, there was the shuffle of footsteps and the creak of the stairs again, and Jimin was back in the kitchen.

 

“Um, Jungkook? Are you asleep?”

 

“No? What’s up?” He poked his head out from under the table curiously. Jimin was wringing his hands.

 

“I, uh, went upstairs and...well...would you mind helping me change the sheets? We used a pad but, um...Taehyung leaked.” Jimin spoke quietly, almost as though embarrassed on Taehyung’s behalf. “I tried doing it myself but as soon as I’m in the room he gets really clingy, and it’s hard to change sheets when you’re holding a koala.” Jungkook just nodded, moving to follow Jimin upstairs, grabbing fresh sheets on their way. Jimin put his hand on the doorknob, hesitating a moment.

 

“Jimin?”

 

“Sorry, I just…” Jimin flushed, hunching his shoulders. “I just suddenly got this feeling that I didn’t want anyone to go in there? Even though you’re an Omega, and I know you’re not a….a threat or anything. It’s weird.”

 

“Alpha instincts, I guess?” Jungkook shrugged. With a painful stab to his chest, he realized he wouldn’t know. It wasn’t as if he had seen his own Alpha around others much during his heat,since he had been so out of it. He liked to think that Seokjin would have been possessive or protective of him, though, with the same flush to his cheeks that Jimin displayed as he opened the door to the room he and Taehyung shared.

 

The overwhelming smell of oranges hit him like a ton of bricks, surprising Jungkook as he stepped into the darkness of the bedroom. The rest of the house had been full of sunlight, but Jimin had pulled over the curtain, casting the room in near blackness. In the light from the hall, Jungkook could see Taehyung curled up on the bed. Usually, Taehyung simply emanated energy as though he was a nuclear reactor at his core, but right now, he whimpered, looking sluggish and almost lifeless. The only sign of life was the almost manic way he was tapping his foot in rapid succession against the edge of the bed, his arms hugging around a pillow that was wearing one of Jimin’s shirts like some sort of creepy doll. Jungkook had decided downstairs that he was going to be respectful of Taehyung’s heat and treat the situation as delicately as possible, but at seeing this, he couldn’t help but send Jimin a questioning quirk of his eyebrow.

 

“He won’t let me leave him unless he can still smell me,” Jimin whispered his explanation, leaning down to tug the t-shirt clad pillow out of Taehyung’s arms. The Beta let out a high-pitched little cry, like a dog that had been kicked on the underside of its belly by a firm boot, and in a moment he was suddenly leaping up and into Jimin’s arms, nearly bowling the Alpha over. Jungkook caught hold of Jimin’s shoulders, steadying him as he sighed and readjusted Taehyung in his arms.

 

“God, you’re so heavy,” Jimin complained in a grunt, leaning Taehyung’s bottom against the dresser so it was easier on his arms, as Jungkook quickly peeled the sheets off the bed, laying some towels down directly onto the mattress before putting the clean sheets on.

 

“Chim-Chim,” Taehyung moaned, nuzzling his whole face needily into Jimin’s Scent gland, making Jimin sharply inhale. “God, you smell amazing . Fuck….”

 

“Tae,” Jimin hissed into a whisper, trying to be demure, “ Jungkook’s here.”

 

Taehyung didn’t seem to care, suddenly mouthing around Jimin’s jawline. Jungkook could hear the wet sounds of Taehyung’s lips against skin, and he felt his whole body heat up in embarrassment. His hands on the sheets fumbled awkwardly.

 

Tae , stop it, please,” Jimin begged, and there was a rustle of clothing over his shoulder that Jungkook hoped was just Jimin changing Taehyung into clean pants. “Wo-o-oah there!”

 

“Okay, there you go,” he said when he finished, standing up and stepping back as Jimin dropped Taehyung heavily onto the mattress, the Beta bouncing with a little squeak and flailing for Jimin, who shoved the pillow back at him. Jimin let out a sigh as the Beta, pouting petulantly through his sweaty bangs over at his Alpha, whimpered as Jimin slipped the bag of ice up against the back of Taehyung’s T-shirt, where it was already becoming soaked with sweat again. As he locked eyes with Jimin, who was carding his hand through his hair, Taehyung wrapped his legs around the pillow and started to squeeze into the fabric with his knees, his hips beginning to wriggle. Jimin suddenly grabbed Jungkook’s shoulder and turned him toward the doorway with a jerking movement.

 

“Thanks for the help,” Jimin mumbled to Jungkook, “I think tomorrow it should be easier.”

 

Together they stepped into the clean air of the hallway, and Jimin pulled the door mostly shut behind him, nearly but not quite blocking out the little sounds of Taehyung’s increased panting inside.

 

“W-was I that bad?” Jungkook whispered fearfully, his eyes wide and his face flushing with embarrassment.

 

“Um…” Jimin worked his lip, not meeting Jungkook’s eyes. “You were...um.. different .” Jimin coughed as if to clear his throat. “But, uh, after the first hour or so, Kiara and Yoongi didn’t let the rest of us anywhere near you, just in case.”

 

“Oh…” Jungkook breathed, biting his lips. “You mean...except Seokjin.”

 

“Except Seokjin.” Jimin fiddled with the edge of his shirt.

 

“Did...uh...did you and Tae ever talk about how you would...help him?” Jungkook whispered, his voice gentle as though they were discussing something taboo, instead of something that happened so commonly.

 

“He, uh...he said some things that were off-limits. We hadn’t gotten the details worked out quite yet. We thought it would be a long time before his hormones were shifted enough.”

 

“Right,” Jungkook breathed, biting his bottom lip harder. “You...may want to try exploring your options that weren’t off-limits, though.”

 

Jimin stood in awkward silence. “D-did it...help?”

 

It was Jungkook’s turn to sigh, looking down the hall and noticing the bathroom door at the far edge of the hall was closed, a sign that someone awake. Whenever Jungkook thought back, feeling the warm wave of memory washing over him, just at the thought of the way he had felt underneath Seokjin’s slow, careful but confident hand, he felt a shiver run through him, and he worried that others could smell his own involuntary reaction to it. “I-it helped a lot. Actually, it was enough to break my heat, even after just once.”

 

“O-oh…” With a start, Jungkook realized that one of the reasons this felt so strange was that he, for once, was the more knowledgeable one, a phenomenon that he couldn’t remember ever happening with Jimin and him.

 

“I did some reading, and usually it’s not enough to break a heat on its own, so I’m not sure w-why it worked, but it did. But it’ll still help him relax, and maybe he’ll be able to rest?”

 

“O-okay…”

 

The bathroom door flew open like a shot, making both of them jump, and suddenly a very wide-eyed Yoongi was rushing towards them, holding a strange, unfamiliar looking black box.

 

“Who the fuck used my bath salts?!” Yoongi snapped, looking between the two of them and giving the box a purposeful shake. Jungkook blinked, giving a surprised shrug at the older Omega’s anger.

 

“U-um, I’m sorry, I used a bit of it for Taehyung’s bath,” Jimin said quietly. “H-he’s just started his heat, so I thought it would help him relax...I only used a bit, but I can buy you a new box.”

 

“Oh my god…” Yoongi rubbed at his face and moaned loudly. “You didn’t .”

 

“What’s wrong?” Jungkook asked, looking down at the box.

 

“Jimin, you idiot …” Yoongi pushed past the two of them, opening the bedroom door and peering in. Jungkook saw Jimin stiffen, his expression flickering between worry and anger and back again before Yoongi came back out, closing the bedroom door with a quiet little click. “You idiot .”

 

“W-what did I do wrong?!” Jimin sounded as though he was going to absolutely lose it.

 

Yoongi held up the box, tilting it so they could see  the instructions and warning label on the bottom. “This is a box of hormone-infused bath salts, you dumbass. It’s an aphrodisiac for Omegas.”

 

The two younger boys stared at Yoongi, mouths agape. Jungkook spoke first.

 

“Well, shit.”

Chapter Text


 

“Happiness doesn't lie in conspicuous consumption and the relentless amassing of useless crap. Happiness lies in the person sitting beside you and your ability to talk to them. Happiness is clear-headed human interaction and empathy. Happiness is home. And home is not a house-home is a mythological conceit. It is a state of mind. A place of communion and unconditional love. It is where, when you cross its threshold, you finally feel at peace.”

― Dennis Lehane


 

It had been yet another sleepless night. The sky through the crummy, scratchy brown material of the curtain was a soft grayish-blue color, seeming to glow rather than to illuminate. Seokjin had gotten very used to seeing his hotel room gradually get lighter each morning. He sat cross-legged in front of the window, wearing just a white T-shirt and resting his wrists gently against his knees as he watched the morning begin. He smiled softly, letting out a little sigh of contentment. It was the first morning the medicine had worked. He felt like he could breathe again. The sensation of not having the constant ache, the constant pain in his gut, the feverish and Scent-heavy layer of sweat, was remarkable. There was a sort of strange, happy emptiness that came when a long-term pain was finally abated, as though the body could forget what life was like before the pain, and he relished in this sensation.

 

It was time to go home.

 

When the sky had finally turned a solid early-morning blue, the sun risen high into the sky, Seokjin clambered up and across the room, flopping onto his stomach on the bed and reaching his arms across to grab the cell phone off the charger, his bare ass feeling the chill of the air conditioner that had finally started to feel like it was working, starting from yesterday afternoon. He unlocked the phone, Jungkook’s photo of the sunrise his lock screen background, and went immediately to the Kakaotalk chat the two of them shared together.

 

Good morning, Jungkook. I’m finally coming home today. I’ve missed you!

 

He smiled so broadly, just writing the words, that he felt his jaw begin to ache. He covered his mouth with his hand, wanting to cry from feeling so overwhelmed. It was over three months, but it felt as if it had been a year. Seokjin laid his cheek down against the comforter, smiling at his phone and waiting to see the moment when Jungkook checked the message. He wanted to hear what Jungkook would say, wanted to feel his excitement and commit each character typed to memory. When fifteen minutes passed by, Seokjin felt himself starting to doze off from pure exhaustion, and he shook himself roughly, pushing off the bed and collecting his things for one last shower before leaving the cursed, gross hotel.

 

He was more than a little surprised when he came out from his shower and Jungkook still hadn’t checked the message. He frowned, wondering if Jungkook had taken the day off patrol and was home asleep instead. No matter, it was still pretty early. He messaged Namjoon, saying that he was going to the pack house in about an hour, and within a few minutes got a hearty reply with so much relief between each exclamation point that Seokjin laughed. Namjoon was still on duty at his bellhop job, where he worked a nightshift similar to Jungkook’s hours, and he wouldn’t be home until after Seokjin arrived.

 

I’ll be relieved to have you home!! We’ve missed you!!

 

Seokjin felt his chest constrict with emotion. He put the few things he had accumulated during his stay into his backpack, zipping it up with a cheerful - if tired - finality, and took one last look before shutting the door.

 

When the cab dropped him off in front of the pack house, he found it looked somehow different. He wasn’t sure how, but the size and angle of it seemed to have somehow shifted, as though through the extended absence his memory had contorted his own vision of the two story building with its endearing, lovely-smelling pine in the front yard. He stepped out of the cab and inhaled deeply, feeling the first deep pangs of real worry striking into his gut. Sure, Namjoon and Taehyung would be glad he was back, and he felt pretty certain Jungkook would be, too. But as for Kiara, Hoseok and Yoongi, it would be hard to say. That was an inevitable risk, one which he had decided was worth taking. Perhaps they wouldn’t forgive him for running off as he had. Perhaps they would understand. That wasn’t his choice or under his control - all he could do was hope for the best. Biting at his lip, he slipped his key into the door and jiggled the handle until it relinquished the lock, clicking heartily before allowing him entrance.

 

The living room was quiet, empty in the stillness of a Tuesday morning. Seokjin instantly was hit by the plethora of different smells, all mingling together in a lovely cacophony that equaled the pack - his pack. At least he hoped it was, still. He inhaled deeply, shoving his hands into the pockets of his oversized tan hoodie as he picked up the trace of Jungkook’s Scent hovering in the air, strong and distinct, but gentle and familiar like a loving whisper.

 

He smiled, setting his backpack down in the entrance, about to head into the kitchen to check for Jungkook when the boy himself tumbled down the steps two at a time, a black beanie pulled tight onto his head and his eyes wide as he thudded into the kitchen. Seokjin stood in the doorway, a little dumbfounded at having been missed.

 

“Jungkookie, I think we’ll need the other ice pack, too!” Yoongi called down the stairs, sounding tired.

 

“Okay!” Jungkook called back up. Seokjin heard the freezer door open and shut, and the telltale shuffling of Jungkook’s socks on the linoleum. He stood watching from the front entrance, quietly kicking his shoes off when Jungkook started back up the stairs. Suddenly, the boy halted, one foot already on the bottom step, and Seokjin could visibly see the way his whole body tensed up on alert. Seokjin stepped up into the living room, his shoes now discarded, and awkwardly tugged at the sleeves of his sweater. Jungkook turned around, wide eyes locking in on Seokjin, mouth parted in surprise. Seokjin smiled a little, looking nervously down at the floor between them.

 

“Um...hi,” Seokjin mumbled, his voice a lot softer than he had intended it. He looked up, and Jungkook was swallowing heavily, licking at his lips.

 

“Y-you’re back…?” Jungkook breathed, as though he was afraid Seokjin was about to vanish into thin air.

 

Seokjin smiled, his cheeks tight as he nodded. “I’m home.”

 

In the next moment, the Omega had vaulted himself across the room and up into Seokjin’s arms, nearly bowling both of them back and into the front door. Seokjin grunted, reaching up and scooping his hands around Jungkook’s waist as the Omega wrapped his legs around Seokjin’s torso, his face buried in the Alpha’s neck as he nuzzled in with excitement.

 

“You’re home! You’re home!” Jungkook squeaked breathily, laying at least a few dozen kisses and nuzzles all along Seokjin’s neck and jawline, then working his way up to Seokjin’s cheek, his arms still encircling the older male’s shoulders. Seokjin laughed loudly, his smile having blossomed into a tear-filled grin as he squeezed Jungkook to him. Words failed, so Seokjin chuckled.

 

Jungkook continued sprinkling kisses, and when Seokjin moved as if to set him down, he whimpered and just clung on more tightly. With a chuckle, Seokjin carried him over to the couch, flopping them both down into the overstuffed cushions as Jungkook continued to nuzzle into him, now roughly tugging at Seokjin’s soft sweater.

 

Kiss me you asshole,” he snapped, mouthing headily at Seokjin’s adam’s apple, giving a pointed shove of his fist at his shoulder. “I’ve earned it.”

 

Seokjin laughed again, his shoulders lifting with the action as he brushed Jungkook’s bangs out of his eyes. They had grown longer since he’d last seen him, and his hair looked lighter in color now, and his skin tanner. The legs that wrapped around him were heavier and more filled out than they had been in January. Seokjin touched his hand underneath the angular jaw, still chuckling a little.

 

“Yeah, you have.” He gave the lightest of tugs with his fingertips, bringing Jungkook down toward him as he caught the boy’s already moistened lips with his own, tilting his head to the side and sighing into the feeling of touching him again, of having him in his arms and surrounding him with his Scent and his soothing presence.

 

“I missed you,” Jungkook whimpered, pressing a fourth, a fifth, then a sixth kiss to Seokjin’s lips with a desperation that was as innocent as much as it wasn’t . A high-pitched sound like a protest escaped the Omega, and he finally pulled back a little to frown at Seokjin. “Why do you smell so different? What’s that crappy smell covering up your Scent?”

 

Seokjin nibbled a little at his bottom lip, rubbing at the back of his neck with one hand and glancing off to the side. He didn’t want to lie to Jungkook - especially now that there was a little ray of hope that he had slowly, splinter by splinter, pieced back together out of the coffin he’d already placed his heart into. But right now, during a reunion that finally let him feel like he could breathe like normal, Seokjin didn’t want to ruin Jungkook’s happy moment.

 

“Maybe it’s the hotel I was in?” He shrugged. “It was a pretty nasty place.”

 

“I hope it goes away soon,” Jungkook complained, leaning back in and unabashedly rubbing his Scent into Seokjin’s neck, making the Alpha gasp a little as the waves of tickling sensation rushed through his body at the contact. “It smells horrible.”

 

“A-agreed…” Seokjin exhaled, slowly resting his arms around Jungkook’s back, rubbing at his shoulders. He knew Jungkook well enough by now to know that he rarely initiated physical contact with the other wolves, much less how openly, awkwardly clingy he had suddenly become. He had slipped into his arms so naturally, a side effect of all the times they had slowly edged towards each other over the months, all the moments Seokjin had deliberately teased the younger wolves until they would playfully hit him back. The easygoing way they had ended up rough-housing in a pile on the ground into the evenings, the quiet moments with Jungkook pushed up shoulder-to-shoulder between him and Yoongi when they were having movie nights. When had their skinship become so natural that it had progressed to this point, where they were slowly moving in closer to each other, more intimately and naturally than a bee laid its touch on a flower?

 

“Jungkook?” came a voice, and Seokjin looked up over Jungkook’s head to see Yoongi stepping into the living room, doing a double take at the sight of Jungkook straddling Seokjin’s lap with his head buried in Seokjin’s shoulder as he Scented him almost fiercely. Seokjin quirked his lips to the side a little in lieu of a shrug, not wanting to dislodge the boy, and Yoongi pursed his lips a little together before bending to pick up the ice pack that Jungkook had abandoned at the bottom of the stairs, quietly leaving the two of them alone.

 

Seokjin breathed a sigh, rubbing Jungkook’s back in little circles again and dropping his nose to Jungkook’s hair, his eyes fluttering shut at the smell of Jungkook’s shampoo mingled with his Scent. “I missed you,” he breathed. He wanted to tell Jungkook just how much he had missed him, how his cute little texts and almost daily photos had kept his spirits up, wanted to tell him that he was ready to move forward with the Omega now. But it was a little hard to do that with the huge, emotional lump sitting in his throat, so he sufficed with just holding him a little longer, pressing a gentle kiss to the top of his head that had Jungkook pressing in closer, asking silently for more. He supposed a part of him had expected Jungkook to say it back, to be as affectionate as he had been in text-form, but after a moment he realized the fact that he hadn’t said it back was kind of a relief, in itself. He had worried Jungkook would feel obligated or pressured to keep up a certain level of affirmation, or to reciprocate the same way all the time. With Jae, he remembered always feeling like he had to fight to reassure, to explain every need or emotion. But there was something about the way Jungkook remained silent that didn’t leave him questioning whether or not the Omega had missed him at all - he just felt shy, quiet, comfortable. Instead of being a battle of who could miss each other more with more verbal sincerity and reasons, Jungkook just seemed to curl up inside Seokjin’s sentence and enjoy the truth of it, with no other strings attached.

 

It was almost half an hour before either of them moved again, and Seokjin had started to wonder if Jungkook had fallen asleep against his chest, thighs planted on either side of his hips and knees pressed into the couch cushions as he laid his head against Seokjin’s collarbone. He was tempted to doze off himself, although he was sure he wouldn’t be able to, even as exhausted as he was. Just as he was considering shifting on the couch to a more accommodating position, Jungkook spoke.

 

“Taehyung started his heat a couple days ago,” he started quietly, his breath tickling slightly against Seokjin’s neck. “Jimin’s been with him constantly.”

 

“Oh,” Seokjin’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh, wow. That was so quick, wasn’t it? He’ll be really happy about that, though. And it should be a pretty easy first heat.”

 

“Yeah, but..” Jungkook chuckled a little. “Jimin accidentally gave him a bath in some of Yoongi’s hormone bath salts.”

 

Seokjin froze, letting Jungkook’s words sink in. “Oh, no .”

 

“Yeah… so Taehyung’s been a total mess, and Jimin feels really bad. Hoseok tried to tell him it was just a mistake, that it happens, but..” Jungkook’s voice lowered, “He won’t listen to Taehyung and help him out a little. He says it’s just his heat talking and won’t touch him. I tried to explain th-that...there’s a difference, you know? But…”

 

Seokjin sighed, reaching over to give Jungkook’s supple thigh a hearty pat. “Okay, let me up, then. I should go check on things.”

 

With visible reluctance, Jungkook removed himself from Seokjin’s lap, hovering closely behind as Seokjin made his way upstairs.

 

“Here,” Jungkook pointed out the room Taehyung and Jimin now shared, and Seokjin gave the door a quiet little knock.

 

Jimin opened it after a moment, looking tired but also relieved to see Seokjin, with Jungkook standing just behind him with his chin hooked over the Alpha’s shoulder. He even gave a little smile, albeit a very tired one. “Oh, you’re back!”

 

“Yeah,” Seokjin exhaled. He had expected Jimin to be sort of angry with him, in a way, but perhaps he was just too preoccupied to feel bitter at the time. “Is it okay if I see Taehyung for a bit? I heard he’s in his first heat.”

 

Jimin nibbled at his lip for a moment, looking over his shoulder into the darkness of the room, then nodded, stepping aside so the two wolves could enter. “Luckily he just got another bath, so… he’s trying to rest right now.”

 

Seokjin walked over to the bed, where Taehyung was curled up facing the wall, hugging a large pillow with a dirty T-shirt on it and pouting at the chipped plaster on the wall, looking glassy-eyed and petulant. He was a little surprised to note that Yoongi was no longer there, but he didn’t bother to question it too much. The smell of oranges and Omega arousal was so heavy in the air, Seokjin would have normally been choking on it. Luckily enough, the high-end suppressants were doing their job well, and he just felt a thickness to his senses like smelling pollen in the air in the throes of spring. He sat down on the edge of the bed, laying his hand gently on Taehyung’s bare arm. The boy didn’t react for a moment, and then it was as though his ears perked up and he turned, seeing Seokjin there.

 

“Seokjinnie!” Taehyung gasped, eyes widening. “You’re home!”

 

The Alpha smiled. “Hey, Tae, I heard you got your heat. Congrats.”

 

At the mention of the heat, Taehyung gave the endearing little frown Seokjin could remember from their childhood. The Beta’s dark, gold-rimmed eyes flashed accusingly over at Jimin, who waited in the doorway, hugging his chest as he watched the brothers. “Yeah, but Jimin won’t even hug me anymore, he’s being so mean .”

 

Seokjin reached over and patted Taehyung on the arm, rubbing up and down near the boy’s elbow. Taehyung pouted deeper, sighing at his brother’s touch. “Do you want me to talk to him for you? Is that okay, if I tell him some of the things we talked about?”

 

Taehyung considered for a moment, craning his neck so he could see Jimin in the doorway again, looking strained and stressed. He looked to Seokjin, nodding and hugging the pillow more tightly to his chest. “Yes...tell him everything if it’ll just make him listen to me, Seokjinnie. I’m so tired and I want this to be over already. It’s horrible to be in heat before we can properly--”

 

“Okay, okay,” Seokjin laughed, cutting him off just in case the hormones loosened his brother’s tongue. He patted Taehyung again and moved to stand. “I’ll talk to him for you, okay? Now try to relax.”

 

“All right…” Taehyung whimpered, like a child told to sit quietly and wait for his parents in suffering silence. He turned back to staring at his wall and lowly mumbled a, “Thanks, Seokjin…”

 

Seokjin smiled, leading Jimin out and into Seokjin’s own room, shutting the door behind them. He shouldn’t have been surprised when Jungkook slipped in after them, instantly tucking his face in to Scent Seokjin again as he stood facing the smaller Alpha, but Seokjin was still a little thrown by his presence.

 

“So…” Seokjin started. Jimin stared at the floor, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot. “I heard Taehyung got an Omega hormone-infused bath because of you.”

 

Jimin flushed. “I didn’t mean to! Honest, I thought it was just regular bath salts, and I thought maybe they’d make him feel better, and I only--”

 

Jimin , calm down!” Seokjin chuckled, waving down the Alpha with a gesture. “I know you were just trying to help. Besides, if you knew some of the things we did to each other when we were little that was on purpose , you’d know this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to Taehyung. He’ll be fine.” He leaned in, as if to put himself into Jimin’s lowered gaze. “I’m more concerned with the fact that you won’t go near him. Taehyung is clingy and touchy even on a regular day, much less right now.”

 

The Alpha swallowed heavily, looking redder by the minute. Seokjin smiled at him softly - Jimin sometimes got this very natural blush to the apples of his cheeks that was quite endearing, although he didn’t say so aloud. An Alpha had his pride, after all, and Jimin was certainly a man of pride.

 

“I…”  Jimin mumbled.

 

“Jimin,” Seokjin prodded gently. “What are you worried about? You can tell me, Alpha to Alpha.”

 

After a few moments of shifting, Jimin mumbled, “I keep messing up. I’m the worst Alpha ever, and I’m afraid I’m gonna mess up again.”

 

Seokjin arched an eyebrow, but kept his face carefully void of any amusement. He knew if he laughed even a little, Jimin would probably become embarrassed and clam up. “Jimin, you’re not ‘messing up.’ You’re a great Alpha for Taehyung.”

 

“But I can’t even protect him, like an Alpha should! I made my first rut the worst possible scenario and left him for days! He asked me for help with his heat and I made it worse ! He had to change to be an Omega for me, and what if Hoseok is right? What if Taehyung wanted to be an Alpha? He’s so strong and beautiful, he’d be better at it than me!” Jimin’s words tumbled from his mouth in an emotional, choked sound, a little slur to his words and a familiar accent slipping between his lips as Jimin rambled with abandon, looking up into Seokjin’s eyes with a deep sadness in his own.

 

Seokjin reached out, slowly cupping a hand under Jimin’s chin and tilting his face upwards. With a reassuring smile, he said, “Jimin. Jimin . Taehyung was so happy to become your Omega, you don’t even know. He and I talked a lot after coming here, and he’s known practically since we moved in here that it had to be you, no matter what. He was so excited. Taehyung is the last person to think Omegas, Alphas and Betas are any different. He sees everyone equally, and he’s helped me see things that way, too.” Seokjin paused, feeling a lump forming in his throat at the memory, but swallowing it down. This wasn’t about him, right now. “You think he’d regret becoming your Omega? Jimin, he wants to have your pups someday. He’s rambled to me about it for hours.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened, mouth falling slightly agape as a beautiful red blush flared up across his cheeks. “P-p-pups?! We hadn’t even t-talked about that…”

 

Seokjin chuckled. “Jimin, Taehyung has always wanted pups. He adores them.”

 

“I...I know that,” Jimin retorted back, a little defensively. Seokjin felt Jungkook slowly, smoothly slide his arms around Seokjin’s waist from behind, burying his nose into Seokjin’s back, but saying nothing. “I know he likes pups but I didn’t know he...he wanted to have them.”

 

“Since he’s a Beta, he knows it’ll be really difficult. Maybe even impossible. But he doesn’t just want any pups; he wants your pups.” Seokjin tilted his head to the side, “Jimin, he already has names picked out. My brother has never been more sure about anything in his life as much as he’s sure he wants you as his Mate.”

 

Jimin bit his lip, trying to hold back a happy, shy smile. The knowledge obviously had come as a total surprise, and he looked extremely pleased as he let the words sink in. Then, he looked back up at Seokjin, the slightest trace of red encircling his irises indicative of his inwardly bubbling excitement.

 

“Jiminie,” Seokjin reassured, his voice quiet. “You should go help him through his heat. He wants you, heat or not. You can be sure of that.”

 

“B-but what if I mess it up?” Jimin’s question came almost as a breath, a fear-ridden exhale. This was the thing that obviously had been plaguing his mind the most, the unspoken expectations, the standards he had written in his head but never brought to the light for fear of scrutiny. “What if I...what if I don’t know what to do?”

 

“You will mess it up,” Seokjin said matter-of-factly. Jimin looked up at him, stunned. After a pause, Seokjin finished, “But that’s okay. Taehyung will mess up, too. That’s just part of how it all works. No one - least of all Taehyung - expects you to be perfect, Jimin. You’re both really young wolves still, you’re both figuring things out. I’m sure he just wants to figure it out together with you. If there are things you’re unsure of, you should just ask him plainly, and he’ll tell you. He trusts you to talk to him about things, to believe in him and to tell him what’s on your mind. If he says he wants to be your Omega, believe him. If he says he’s uncomfortable with something, believe him. Just...just trust in him, okay? And you’ll be okay.”

 

Jimin opened his mouth again as if to protest, but having found nothing to counteract with, he shut it once again, and shuffled his feet. Jungkook’s arms around Seokjin’s waist tightened, and he heard the quivering sound of Jungkook taking in a sharp inhale, letting it out slowly.

 

“It’s okay to be afraid, Jimin,” Seokjin hummed softly. “But being a ‘great’ Alpha...being a ‘great’ Omega or even a Beta...it’s not about being perfect. It’s about doing your best. Respecting each other’s wishes and communicating what you need. I’m sure you two can do that. So I think Taehyung is very lucky to have found a great Alpha like you, Jimin.”

 

The younger Alpha flushed again, his lip protruding and his eyes starting to crinkle a little at the corners, as though he was on the verge of starting to cry. He nodded, sighing with a bit of a gentle shakiness. “Th-thanks, Seokjin. Hoseok and Namjoon tried to make me feel better, but… I don’t think they understood it.” It was a vague sentence, really, but Seokjin nodded in understanding. Namjoon wasn’t one to question his worth as an Alpha. And Hoseok...well, as far as Seokjin was concerned, Hoseok was ahead of the game, a beautiful and balanced Alpha, and Seokjin figured that that made his perception a bit different from Jimin’s. “I’ll...I’ll do my best.”

 

Seokjin nodded, patting Jimin’s shoulder. “That would be perfect. Now go.” He nudged a thumb over his shoulder, sharing a smile with the Alpha before the door shut behind him. He chuckled once it was just him and Jungkook. If only Jimin had any idea of how adoringly Taehyung had rambled to Seokjin about the Alpha since they had joined Bangtan pack. How hard Taehyung’s open-minded perspective of wolves had ostracized him from other noble wolves his age. How much he really, really loved Park Jimin, a gentle and loving Alpha who he knew he could trust.

 

“Even his smell is so nice,” Taehyung had said, folding the laundry and sighing in contentment. Seokjin shook his head, rolling his eyes and chuckling.

 

“Figures you would fall for someone who smells like candy,” Seokjin teased.

 

“I didn’t fall down, I fell up,” Taehyung stated. Before Seokjin could pause to translate the phrase’s meaning, he continued, “And he’s so kind. He’s patient. He listens to everything I say,” Taehyung rambled on, actually folding with a notable increase in elegance and skill the more deeply he got distracted by thoughts of the Alpha. “He’s like a prince. He’s way more prince-like than most of the Nobles I’ve met. Even the way he walks is like a prince.”

 

“Mm,” Seokjin hummed. “I agree with you, there.”

 

“He’s my soulmate,” Taehyung beamed, his grin all teeth as he looked over a pair of underwear at his older brother. “So after I Present, I’m going to Claim him.”

 

Seokjin looked up at the boy in surprise. “Wh-what?”

 

“Yup. And then maybe after I Claim Jiminie, you’ll admit you like Jungkookie. Then the pack will be all paired off.”

 

The Alpha set aside the pair of folded jeans on the edge of the couch with a groan. “Taehyung…”

 

“I know, I know,” Taehyung rolled his eyes and sighed. “I won’t tell. But how is it not obvious to everyone else?”

 

Seokjin didn’t answer. He carefully folded a pile of plain white T-shirts that smelled of saltwater with a hint of leather mingled into the cotton, despite having just been washed, and stacked them carefully in his lap, laying his hand on top of them for a moment. He didn’t have an answer because he didn’t know.

 

“Seokjin,” Jungkook said from behind him, his voice muffled as he called the Alpha’s name and pulled him out of his reverie. His hands were still clasped around Seokjin’s waist, and he lifted his chin to hook it back over the Alpha’s shoulder, pressing his nose in to Seokjin’s Scent gland.

 

The Alpha stiffened, unconsciously reaching up and laying his hand over Jungkook’s where it rested on his stomach. “Jungkook…”

 

“You just said trust was important, right?” Jungkook’s voice was quiet but his words firm, accusing, even. He paused, and inhaled into Seokjin’s skin, making his spine tingle delightfully even as he felt fear settling into his bones. “Tell me the real reason why your Scent is different. It’s not going away.”

 

“What?”

 

In a whisper, lowly murmured against his neck, Jungkook said, “If you went to someone else, I’d rather you just tell me honestly, Seokjin.”


“W-went to someone else?!” Seokjin tried to laugh, but the sound was empty, and he frantically tried to pry Jungkook’s hands off of his waist, knowing that if the Omega stayed touching him that much, remained that close, that he would be able to sense everything that was left unsaid.

 

“Stop playing stupid!” The Omega snapped, gripping Seokjin more tightly. Seokjin was surprised by how strong his grip had become. He seemed more muscular than before, more straightforward and less timid. But there was still injury riddled in his voice as anger started to bubble beneath the surface. “You left me, you said you needed time, and I gave it to you. I’ve done my best to be patient, and I trusted you to come back, Seokjin. But now you’re here and something just...it just feels so wrong ! You don’t smell like you usually do, and your rut is over, and… just… Who is it? Why are you lying to me?” The hands on his waist clenched tighter, and Jungkook’s voice thickened.

 

“Jungkook…” Seokjin felt the guilt creeping throughout his body, making him feel heavy and strained, like his body was taffy being pulled across the room, vexing and exposed. “Jungkook, listen to me. I-- God, let me go for a second so I can look at you.”

 

Reluctantly, Jungkook’s hands loosened their vice-like grip, and Seokjin turned around in place to see the Omega glaring up at him. His next words came out soft, broken almost, and thick. It was the sort of voice that was fearful of already knowing the answer.

 

“Did he kiss you?”

 

Seokjin’s mouth dropped open, prepared with a protest, but he ended up with nothing, not a single sound escaping his lips. His mind flashed with memories of Jae pressed up against him, tenderly kissing every knuckle before touching his lips to the edges of Seokjin’s mouth, smirking in the orange glow of the streetlamp.

 

“I...I…” At Seokjin’s fumbling, Jungkook’s face crumpled like paper, and Seokjin could see his eyes already starting to water even as he shoved roughly at Seokjin’s shoulders, storming out of the room. “Jungkook, wait! Jungkook, let me explain!”

 

He saw the edge of Jungkook’s shoulder vanishing around the corner at the bottom of the stairs, already gone before Seokjin was even fully down the hall. By the time he made it to the kitchen, Jungkook had already tucked himself underneath the biggest comforter beneath the table, now just a shapeless burgundy-colored lump.

 

“Jungkook, just listen to me!” Seokjin begged, ignoring the figure leaning up against the kitchen counter and opting instead to rush under the table after the Omega, trying to tug the comforter out of Jungkook’s hands and away from his face, to no avail.

 

“Leave me alone!” Jungkook cried out, “Go away!”

 

“Jungkook!”

 

“Go and fuck your stupid mate who smells like ass!” Jungkook snapped.

 

“Stop that!” Seokjin barked back, his own temper rising at Jungkook’s stubbornness. They wrestled back and forth with the blanket, little grunts the only sounds between them for a few moments. There was an awkward cough somewhere from above them, but neither of them paid it any heed, distracted as soon Seokjin had Jungkook’s wrists pinned with one hand, yanking the comforter off the boy’s face with the other. Jungkook’s face was flushed from having his head under the blanket, his hair sufficiently mussed and a dark glare on his face as he shot daggers up at Seokjin. At the moment their eyes met, Seokjin realized how forcefully he was holding Jungkook down, and he felt his mouth going dry as he froze. He released the boy’s wrists in an instant, but then neither moved for a long moment. Jungkook was the first to speak.

 

“I’m not a pup,” Jungkook stated firmly.

 

“I know you’re not,” Seokjin swallowed. “I never...I never really saw you that way, anyways.”

 

“Then why ?” Jungkook’s fists clenched, and Seokjin could have sworn he wore an expression that reminded him so much of Yoongi and Namjoon all at once, that kind of stubborn Omega air that took no flak, the Alpha-like sagely self-consciousness that belied his years.

 

The Alpha let out a low, long sigh. He laid a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder, gripping him lightly there in a way that he initially thought was to reassure the younger, but once he felt the warmth of the Omega’s skin beneath his touch, he realized it was mostly for himself. “Jungkook, there...there was someone else, before I came to the pack. I told you I would explain it all when I came home, and I meant that. But it’s not easy for me. There was a lot…” Seokjin found himself starting to choke on his words, and he had to take a breath before continuing, letting his eyes flicker away from the Omega’s cool, steady gaze. “And I did see him again. And I’ll even admit that...well, it would have been easy to go down that road again, even after all that’s happened.” Jungkook shifted, and even in the corner of his eye he could see the intense blue circle around the boy’s eyes, could feel the heat of jealousy and fury that was bubbling up in the Omega’s chest. He held up a hand to stop him, “But…. But …it didn’t happen. That’s the truth. I didn’t go to anyone to help me with my rut, I promise you, Jungkook. I swear to god.”

 

“Then what the fuck is that smell?!” Jungkook counterattacked, wrinkling his nose at the scent in the air. ‘Why won’t it go away?”

 

Seokjin flushed a little. “I...um. Well, usually a rut would go away after a couple of weeks, unless an Alpha has an Omega to help counteract the hormones. I’m used to dealing with it without an Omega, so I thought it would be fine after a week or two, but…” At his pause, Jungkook arched an eyebrow. Seokjin’s lips curved downward in an expression of exasperated and reluctant acceptance. “It only...got worse .”

 

“Worse? How?”

 

“Jungkook, I…” Seokjin tugged at the collar of his sweater because suddenly, it felt much warmer in the room than it had a minute ago. “I couldn’t finish the rut. The longer I was away, the worse it got. For awhile, I couldn’t leave my room because...I didn’t know what I would do to find relief.”

 

Jungkook blinked, and Seokjin’s suspicions were confirmed. Jungkook had never really seen what a rut could do to an Alpha at its highest point. With Jae, neither of them could find relief in each other during that time, but that certainly hadn’t stopped them from trying. Seokjin flushed to think of some of the measures they had tried to take.

 

“Jungkook, it...it got worse whenever I thought about you…” he mumbled quietly, unsure. True, he was pretty sure of Jungkook’s feelings for him, but that didn’t necessarily mean he knew how Jungkook would react to being thought of in that sense.

 

To his surprise, Jungkook just blinked at him. “Oh.”

 

“Oh?”

 

The Omega paused, considering, then more confidently confirmed. “Oh.”

 

Seokjin felt heat rising to his neck. “I couldn’t afford to skip any more classes, so I went to a couple of hormone specialists and got put on suppressants. We tried at least half a dozen different kinds, before they finally put me on this high-grade one that they use for people with severe imbalances. It’s the only thing that’s worked to control the rut, and it has a lot of side effects, but at least it worked enough for me to focus on the things I needed to focus on, so I could come home.”

 

“Wait, wait a minute. Does that mean you’re still in a rut? Like, right now?” Jungkook shifted back a little against his mound of pillows and blankets, looking Seokjin up and down.

 

“Technically, yes?” Seokjin scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. “And that’s why I smell differently. It’s kind of…crushing those hormones.”

 

“But isn’t that unhealthy?” Jungkook queried, eyes widening. “Isn’t living on suppressants really bad for you?”

 

One edge of Seokjin’s lips quirked up. “Well...to be honest, yes.”

 

“Then get off of them!” Jungkook shouted. “I hate the smell, and you don’t have to deal with your rut alone, you have me ! So let me help!”

 

“But Jungkook, I…” Seokjin sighed.

 

“Just explain it,” Jungkook’s voice dropped deep, his hands clenching and unclenching nervously. When several tense moments passed and Seokjin was still staring away in silence, he continued, “Seokjin, what happened to ‘it’s okay to be afraid’ and ‘it’s about respecting wishes and communicating what you need’?”

 

Seokjin visibly winced. He wanted to applaud and slap Jungkook at the same time, using his own words against him. Jungkook leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Seokjin and touching their foreheads together.

 

“Well...” Seokjin took in a deep breath and prepared himself. “When I was a freshly Presented Alpha, I was approached by a few different packs. It happens a lot in Noble families, and the Kims in particular are pretty well known. There was a powerful pack at that time called The Rising Gods, and they asked me to join, and I accepted. It was an elite pack, with only Nobles who had particularly powerful abilities in hunting or...creating families. I joined because I never felt much of an inclination to be a leader anyways, and it was pretty prestigious, so my parents were very happy about it. In that pack, there was an older wolf there that I really looked up to. We became friends, and then we became closer than anyone. I...well, we ...we were going to be Mates.”

 

The Omega blinked up at him, a look of confusion crossing his face as he met Seokjin’s gaze.

 

“But he and I… despite how we felt about each other, we..were both Alphas.”

 

Jungkook inhaled sharply. “It was Jae.”

 

Seokjin’s face crumpled in shock, his body flushed with emotional heat from head to toe  just at hearing Jungkook say his name. “H-how did you know?”

In lieu of a response, Jungkook just looked up at Seokjin with wide, surprised eyes and shook his head. Seokjin braced himself to explain the rest.

 

“Yes, it was Jae. And I thought that, you know... as long as I had him, it would all be okay. I didn’t see it at the time for what it was - it was unhealthy, it was an addiction. I didn’t belong with him, and he didn’t belong with me. We were just... possessing each other, dominating. We got addicted to it because it was thrilling, it made us feel powerful.”

 

“We went to Yunho, our pack’s lead Alpha. He had known Jae since they were very young, and he could see it wasn’t a good thing. He also had the reputation of his pack to think about. He rejected our Claim and tried to separate us in the pack. I don’t think he meant any harm, but… after that, things got really difficult for the two of us. The other pack members were very cruel, especially to Jae. He still wanted to continue the relationship, but in secret. I didn’t want to live that way, I didn’t want to have to hide, so… I gave him an ultimatum. I asked him if he would leave the Rising Gods and start a new pack with me.”

 

Jungkook looked more than a little shell shocked, his expression showing that he was piecing everything together. “You were going to use our island for your pack, because it was your inheritance anyways.”

 

Seokjin nodded. “My father still had it set aside for me, since sometimes lead Alphas in packs shift, especially where Nobles are involved. He was sort of hoping I would lead the Rising Gods, I think. But it didn’t work out that way.” Seokjin gave a weary sigh. “As hard as things were for him, as toxic as it was, Jae didn’t want to leave. Rising Gods were his family. He was technically born a Noble, just like everyone else, but... Jae’s mother had him out of wedlock. He was adopted by another Noble family when he was just a baby, but it was still a point of contention - Nobles care a lot about your roots. He was only accepted into The Rising Gods because of his friendship with Yunho, and they were like family to him.”

 

Jungkook shook his head in disbelief.

 

“He wouldn’t leave with me, and he couldn’t be with me, but he wanted it all anyways. The longer I stayed, the more dangerous we became to each other. Things stopped being thrilling and started to get scary, since we were both so afraid all the time. It got to a point where…” Seokjin felt his throat constrict on him, betraying him just when he needed it, and he had to stop and halt himself from crying. Jungkook looked up into Seokjin’s face in question, but the Alpha took a calming breath, determined to continue. “Jungkook, at more than one point we hospitalized each other, it was that bad. That was the sort of…. intimacy that I was used to, and it only got more intense the less open we could be with each other. At some point, I just snapped. I couldn’t take it anymore. We were slowly killing each other, and I didn’t even recognize myself. I left Rising Gods and asked my father to take away my inheritance to the island. I didn’t want to be a lead Alpha, or an Alpha of any kind, if all I could do was hurt my mate.”

 

“But…” Jungkook’s brow wrinkled. Seokjin knew it was a lot of information to take in. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Jungkook said that it was all a bit too complicated, too heavy, too deep an ocean for him to wade into. But his first question was actually, “Do you still…? Like that sort of thing?”

 

Seokjin’s eyes widened, and he felt a tickling rush slide up his spine with the knowing, self-aware way Jungkook seemed to be watching him. It wasn’t a question he had been mentally prepared for. “No! I mean, well. To be honest, I don’t know….” He shook himself, trying to throw off the intrinsic desires, the darker thoughts he wasn’t going to allow himself to have about Jeon Jungkook. “Well, its… I’ve decided that’s in the past . I’m not going to bring it to the table when it comes to you . That’s why I wanted to wait. I wanted to be sure.”

 

He looked over and saw Jungkook with an expression of deep thought on his face, studying Seokjin’s expression as if he was in search of an answer there to some unspoken question.

 

“But you really didn’t do anything with him?” Jungkook whispered, “For your rut? Or…or anything?”

 

Seokjin stared down at Jungkook, at the way he looked so small and soft in his jealousy, his sadness. A little melancholic smile slipped its way across Seokjin’s lips, tears stinging at his eyes as he shook his head. “How could I, when you were home waiting for me? I told him no.”

 

Jungkook’s arms shot up to wrap around Seokjin’s neck, pulling him down until his chest was pressed against the Omega, his chin tucked over Jungkook’s shoulder, and his face uncomfortably buried in one of the pillows there. “Good, because otherwise I was gonna have to kill him. Or you. I hadn’t decided which.”

 

Seokjin chuckled, his chest simultaneously feeling released from a tremendous pressure he hadn’t known was forming there, and strained and swollen from how little he felt he deserved someone like Jeong Jungkook. He tilted his face against Jungkook’s Scent gland, inhaling deeply at the smell of salt. Jungkook only grabbed him tighter, like a child petulantly throwing a tantrum while gripping the leg of an adult for dear life, like someone afraid to let go of their grounding, their most precious foothold on the earth.

 

“It’s over now, right?” Jungkook’s hand curved around the back of Seokjin’s neck, and the Alpha shut his eyes, letting out a little hum of happiness at the warmth bubbling underneath the Omega’s hand at the movement. After seeing - or hearing, rather - Seokjin’s reaction, Jungkook’s other hand slipped up to entangle in the hair at the back of Seokjin’s neck, massaging at the tense muscles there with firm fingertips. “You faced those demons. You’ve told me about them. So please ...get off the suppressants and let me help you.”

 

Seokjin lifted himself up, Jungkook’s hands still entangled in his hair, and tilted his head to the side in puzzlement. “How are you so sure about us? About this? After all I’ve told you, don’t you even want to think about it for a bit?”

 

“How are you not sure about us?” Jungkook shot back, one corner of his mouth quirking up into a teasing smile. “I already said, I only want you.”

 

“I…well, I’m sure I want you, but that’s not the only part of this whole Mating thing, dumbass,” Seokjin mumbled, leaning his forehead down to touch against Jungkook’s. “I know how I feel about you, but I’m not sure what it is.”

 

“I have a theory,” came a familiar voice just above them, and Seokjin’s whole body shot up nearly a foot, his head banging up against the underside of the table in shock. Despite the heaviness of their conversation a moment ago - or maybe because of it - Jungkook found himself laughing openly at the Alpha as he rubbed at his bruised head, sending a glare at Namjoon as the lead Alpha crouched at the edge of the table with a smirk.

 

“You asshole,” Seokjin pouted.

 

“I missed you, too,” Namjoon laughed.

 

“Namjoon, tell him to get off the suppressants,” Jungkook whined, his voice sounded younger, high pitched as he frowned at the Alpha. “He stinks and it makes him more stupid than usual.”

 

“I will,” Namjoon promised, “But first, I wanna talk to you both; about why I think Seokjin’s rut was - well, is - so bad. I have a feeling that if I’m right, Seokjin will agree with my suggestion.”

 

“I doubt that ,” Seokjin pouted again, but sat back and made himself comfortable as Namjoon arranged himself just outside of the confines of the tabletop, Jungkook keeping one hand clutching onto Seokjin’s shirt. The Alpha looked down at the sleeve Jungkook held in a deathgrip, arching an eyebrow but saying nothing.

 

“So, we all agreed that Jungkook’s Presenting was surprisingly early, as well as much heavier and more dangerous than any of us could have anticipated. He shouldn’t have Presented for another year at least, really. It struck me as odd that what triggered it was Seokjin’s Scent. True, an Alpha Scent can be pretty powerful, especially to an Omega about to go into heat anyways, but… I’ve never heard of a case where an Omega got that triggered by just Scenting an article of clothing .”

 

“I started to suspect something was off about it, especially when Jungkook kept calling for Seokjin, even when he wasn’t one of the Alphas in the room. Considering how bad Jungkook’s heat was, normally an Omega doesn’t care much which Alpha is nearby.”

 

Seokjin felt his face flush, glancing over at Jungkook, whose face was surprisingly blank and contemplative. He had known that Jungkook had called for him by name, but what else had he requested in his heat-induced delirium? Just the concept alone had his body tensing up.

 

“Then there was Seokjin’s rut, which has lasted way longer than it should have. To be honest, I’m surprised you haven’t ended up in the hospital, Seokjin; I know I wouldn’t have lasted so long. Your rut should only have lasted a couple weeks to a month at the most, and regular suppressants, you said, did nothing. I know you went away so you could talk to Jungkook when you were not in your rut, but...to be honest, it sounds like you just made things a lot worse.”

 

“The final nail in the coffin was when Jungkook came home a few days ago,” Namjoon continued, his fingertips picking at a tear at the side seam on his pants absentmindedly. “The day that he saw Seokjin while crossing the bridge. He came home and his Scent was super strong, like he was signaling to you or something. And then I realized what he said when he came home.”

 

“W-what did he say?” Seokjin blinked hard, not sure what to expect.

 

“He said you were coming home soon. He said ‘It’s a sign , and that he just knew that you were coming back soon.” Namjoon stared directly into Seokjin’s face. “You messaged me that night that your suppressants were starting to finally work, and that you wanted to come home as soon as possible. Now, I have to ask - did you or did you not see Jungkook that day, on the bridge?”

 

“N-no…” Seokjin began, then shook himself. “I mean, well. Yes , in a way. I heard him call for me but to be honest, I’d kept hearing his voice randomly anyways, with the rut, so… I didn’t think it was really him until after he’d texted me.”

 

Namjoon nodded, and Seokjin felt Jungkook’s eyes watching him curiously.

 

“The way he said it, it made me think that perhaps there was more than just some heavy Scenting connecting you two, with the confidence Jungkook had, it was like he could feel it as if you had told him directly.”

 

“But Namjoon,” Jungkook stepped in, “Wouldn’t all of that be affected by the fact that Seokjin Claimed me?” Seokjin did a double take, his body visibly jolting in surprise as he gaped over at Jungkook. When had he found out? What had been his reaction? Why had Namjoon told him?

 

“You might think so, but like I’ve said before, a Claim is just a verbal contract. To be honest, I think my theory is part of what caused Seokjin to want to Claim you so quickly in the first place.”

 

“And what theory is that?” Jungkook asked.

 

Namjoon looked between the two of them for a moment, his expression somber. “To be quite frank, I suspect that you two are Bonded.”

 

Seokjin took in a sharp inhale of breath, his head spinning. “ Bonding ?! Your theory is Bonding ? But most people don’t even think Bonding exists!”

 

“I know that . But there are lots of things in this world we don’t understand yet. Some people still suspect the Soulmate theory is a real thing, that it just died out over the generations. There’s even some scientific evidence that-”

 

Namjoon .”

 

The lead Alpha sighed, but continued, turning to Jungkook. “Basically, there’s this thing called the Bonding Theory, right? Most wolves, they Mate for life, that’s pretty standard. But usually wolves don’t know who they want to Mate for months, years - it’s different for everybody. Then there’s the Bonding Theory. It’s when two wolves, who are extremely compatible, meet, and not only their bodies but...something in their very souls …” Namjoon gestured with his hands as though he was straining to scoop into some imaginary depth, taking hold of the invisible stuff of stars he referred to as the soul. “ Just connects . They feel goosebumps all over, usually in the first moments they see each other, and they just... Bond . Usually people say they feel it the instant they see their future Mate.”

 

Jungkook tilted his chin to the side, as though unsure, or dislodging an old memory, then he halfway sat up, staring at Seokjin with wide eyes.

 

“I...I think I did feel something, when I first saw you!” Jungkook’s mouth hung open. “When I saw you and Taehyung pulling into the driveway! I thought I was just nervous, but…”

 

“It probably was just nerves,” Seokjin mumbled, turning back to Namjoon. But Jungkook was tugging on his sleeve for his attention, like he was ringing a bell, and when the Alpha looked back down at him, Jungkook frowned.

 

“Are you saying you didn’t feel anything odd when you first saw me? Why else would you Claim me so early?”

 

Seokjin pursed his lips together, reluctant to answer. He didn’t want to admit the rush, the way his head had momentarily spun all the way around in a lovely sense of vertigo when he had first seen Jungkook, curled up underneath the table and looking so cute, so shy. Soft and waiting. For a brief moment, every fiber of his body had wanted to crawl underneath the table with him, shove Taehyung out of the way and refuse to come out until he felt he had gotten close to the boy. But the fear of that rush of excitement, that strange, lovely sense of knowing , actually being just a repetition of what he had had with Jae utterly terrified him, and he had deliberately pulled back, burying the sensation as deeply as he could.

 

Jungkook tugged harder, his brow furrowing, “You did feel something, didn’t you!?”

 

Looking between the two of them, Namjoon was doing a terrible job at suppressing his smirk. “No one quite knows the rules that go with Bonding, because it’s never been a proven thing. But those that claim to have experienced it say that they can sense their Mate’s feelings, even when they’re not together. Their heats and ruts are more intense, their hormones are more extreme, and so on.” He gave a little shrug. “I could be wrong. But there have been a lot of odd coincidences. Seokjin, to be honest, I think you should get off the suppressants, and just hang tight to Jungkook for awhile. I have a sneaking suspicion that things would end up working out, if you did.”

 

Jungkook grinned broadly, laying back against his pillows and wriggling in to get more comfortable. Seokjin arched a confused eyebrow at him, then turned to Namjoon, “I’ll think about it. Thanks.”

 

“No problem,” Namjoon smirked, his expression like he knew a secret. “And I’m glad you’re back. You two have fun.” He pushed up off the kitchen floor and left the room, taking his drink with him upstairs.

 

Before Seokjin could call after him and ask what he meant by that, Jungkook had snaked his arms and legs around the Alpha’s waist like a koala, pulling him back until he was laying in the little nest-like tangle of bedding next to the smiling Omega. “What?” Seokjin laughed, “Why are you smiling like you just stole something?”

 

“Be cause ,” Jungkook beamed, his teeth gleaming and his nose scrunching up so tightly his eyes almost disappeared in a deep pattern of wrinkles, sparkling with a trace of blue. “You’re going to get off the suppressants, and once that horrible smell goes away, I’m going to make your rut go away for good.”

 

“Oh?” Seokjin said, skepticism evidence in his voice as he shuffled into a more comfortable position, Jungkook still clinging to him. “And how do you propose we do that?”

 

Jungkook rubbed his face up against the pillowcase for a moment, chuckling to himself before shooting Seokjin a look of utter bliss. “By returning the favor you paid me during my heat.”

 

Seokjin’s face fell, and he felt the blush going across his cheeks. “Jungkook, I don’t know if-”

 

“Shh…” Jungkook placed a finger against Seokjin’s lips to quiet him, “Shut the fuck up. Now…”  Jungkook moved in to curl up against Seokjin’s broad chest, but quickly wrinkled his sensitive nose in disgust at the suppressant Scent he found there, so he turned around until his back was facing Seokjin, petulantly grabbing the Alpha’s hand and wrapping it around his waist so that they were spooning together. “ There. ” Jungkook sighed in contentment, and as they laid there, Seokjin could feel the muscles in the Omega’s body gradually relax, one by one.

 

Seokjin stared at the back of Jungkook’s head for a long time, utterly puzzled by the Omega. He was so needy in a way that was completely unlike what Seokjin was used to, like a perverse yet still very transparent child, like someone completely comfortable and self-assured.

 

At last letting his body relax, Seokjin laid his head against the pillow behind Jungkook. He sighed a little as he sunk into the fabric, his thumb tracing along Jungkook’s hand, into the curve of his palm, between each finger and across every knuckle.

 

He was exhausted, but he knew that even if he fell asleep, it wouldn’t be for very long - the most troublesome side effect of the suppressants was the insomnia he’d been suffering from. But perhaps, if it was with Jungkook, he could get at least a little rest.

 

Seokjin was asleep before he had even finished the thought.

Chapter Text

 


 

"...And when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment...

― Plato


 

 

Taehyung whimpered, clutching the pillow more tightly. The smell of Jimin’s peppermint had been slowly fading from the pillowcase (mostly because Taehyung had been insistently rubbing himself all over it) and now it was almost entirely gone. The achiness in his body, the throbbing in his crotch, they were all edging back into the forefront of his consciousness, and trying to push it off was futile and maddening. He had removed his shirt, leaving him in just boxers, but even that felt itchy, hot and uncomfortable. He wanted Jimin back, wanted to be surrounded by his lovely sweet Scent and his soft aura.

 

“Jimin…” Taehyung whined, then more loudly, “ Jim innieeee!”

 

The door creaked open, and the Scent of peppermint wafted in like a greeting. Taehyung smiled, lifting his flushed face from the mattress, blinking heavily at the sight of Jimin in the doorway. He took one hand away from the pillow he was clutching, reaching towards the Alpha’s form and wriggling his fingers in a grabbing gesture. “Jiminnieee…” he let out the complaint more loudly than before, and watched Jimin close the door before he moved over to the rolling chair at the desk. To Taehyung’s dismay, Jimin crawled into the chair instead of the bed, hugging his knees to his chest and looking rather small and worried. He bit his lip, staring at the floor.

 

“Taehyungie…” Jimin began. “I just talked to Seokjin. He told me about how, um...how you want to have pups someday.”

 

“Jiminnie…” Taehyung moaned, “Come closer, your Scent is gone.”

 

Jimin stared for a moment, before leaning forward and grabbing the edge of the mattress, scooching the rolling chair over until it was pushed up against the bed. Taehyung moved to the edge, taking hold of Jimin’s hand and splaying it across his face, making Jimin bite back a giggle as Taehyung’s hot breath tickled at his palm. The instant Taehyung had the smell of Jimin back, he breathed a sigh of relief, like air was being brought back into his lungs.

 

“Of course I want pups,” Taehyung said at last, “But right now I just want you to take care of me.”

 

It was precisely the sort of answer Jimin should have expected from Taehyung, and he smiled, tilting his head a little to the side as he licked at his lips a little. “I will. I’m sorry.”

 

Taehyung perked up at those words, his lips parting as he looked up at his Alpha. “Really?” So maybe he sounded a little over-eager, but could he really be blamed? It had been less than an hour and he could already feel that the slick in his boxers was leaking through the pad, and the bed felt unnaturally uncomfortable. Each thread of the fabric seemed to be rough and abrasive, like his whole body was on hyper-alert. The sound of Jimin’s voice, as soft and quiet as it was, thundered through his skull with every syllable, surrounding him. He was ready.

 

“Really,” Jimin said, smiling a little. “But...I’m not quite sure where to start, and I’ll probably mess it up…”

 

In moments, Taehyung had chucked the T-shirt covered pillow off to the side, and was frantically and clumsily grabbing at the band of his boxers, trying to push them down and off. Jimin leapt up suddenly, holding out a hand and placing it on Taehyung’s to stop him. Just that little bit of contact from an Alpha had Taehyung sighing, relieved at the coolness spreading through his body.

 

Chim-chim ,” he complained. Jimin was biting at his lip, and they now looked so plush and pink that Taehyung wanted to scream.

 

“Just...just slow down, okay? Let me lead for once. You always rush through things.”

 

Taehyung pouted, but he didn’t really have the energy to complain. “Whatever, just do something.”

 

Jimin halted, staring at Taehyung for a long second as though he had said or done something. It took him some time to realize that he was once again leaking slick into his boxers, his hips slowly twisting back and forth on the bed as though Jimin was already there to brace against.

 

“Don’t worry,” Jimin said lowly, “I’ll do plenty for you.”

 

Taehyung let out another whimper, holding out both hands to his Alpha. Jimin finally crawled up into the bed, the Scent of peppermint dropping around him and making him drown beneath it, his breath gasping and uneven as Jimin started leaving gentle, chaste kisses all across his skin. He moaned when Jimin started to suck at the skin of his collarbone, and his eyes shot back open as he let out a surprised gasp, feeling the hot wetness of Jimin’s tongue as it trailed along the bone there.

 

“You taste sweet and salty,” Jimin murmured, the accent from his hometown filtering in and making his words sound rougher, deeper. Taehyung’s eyebrows knitted together. Jimin leaned up, taking hold of Taehyung’s chin in both hands and tilting his head, pressing in for a deep, lingering kiss. Taehyung could feel a fluttering at his very core when Jimin’s inescapable tongue pushed roughly into his mouth, thick and hot and needy, flickering and making it hard for him to breathe. He could feel Jimin shifting up onto the bed, felt the shift of the mattress beneath his knees as he straddled Taehyung’s leg. Instantly, Taehyung tightened, pulling his knees together and squeezing around the thickness of Jimin’s thigh, moaning loudly just at that sensation alone. Without hesitation, spurred on by the headiness of his heat and the thickness of Jimin’s aroused Scent, he started pulling himself up and down against Jimin’s thigh, shuddering whenever he felt Jimin’s muscles contract.

 

“Jimin,” Taehyung gasped, needy as he gripped at Jimin’s shoulders, insisting on another kiss as the coil deep in him starting to tense and heat up. Jimin coaxed him on, petting his hair and kissing at his tanned skin.

 

“Take what you need, beautiful,”Jimin whispered, and Taehyung let out a little broken whimper, flushing at the compliment. “You’re so beautiful, Tae-Tae, you don’t even know. You’re like a work of art.”

 

Taehyung squirmed, his erect and overly sensitive member throbbing against Jimin. The Alpha shifted, leaning down to press his entire weight onto the Beta, and Taehyung yelped when the hot hardness of Jimin’s own erect cock pressed against him.

 

“Take it off,” Taehyung practically begged, practically demanded. He looked up in time to see Jimin’s eyes flashing red as he glared at the needy younger man.

 

“Hmmm. No,” Jimin hummed, a dark and playful air to his words. “I think you have to wait. I told you, you rush things too much.”

 

Taehyung whined, then felt an explosion of sensation as Jimin tugged away his boxers, instantly grabbing his throbbing member in his small but unbelievably firm hand, twisting at it painfully in the way he knew drove Taehyung crazy.

 

“Oh God,” Taehyung said, wriggling helplessly on the mattress as his cock screamed with the pleasure of white heat and the abrasive sting of Jimin’s nails brushing up against the reddened skin, every nerve raw and on edge. “Hurry, Jimin, more ,” he begged, panting. Jimin increased the pace, Taehyung gasping as he gripped at the sheets. He was nearing that lovely spiral at his center, his panting and whimpering rising in pitch and frequency, when suddenly Jimin released him. Feeling pathetically unsatisfied, Taehyung pouted and slapped at the mattress in impatience. With a childish sound of churlishness, he reached up with both hands and yanked down Jimin’s sweatpants, ignoring the deep, musical sound of JImin’s laughter as the Beta wrapped his long, tanned fingers around both their members. Jimin leaned his hips downward, his hands now planted on either side of Taehyung’s head. Taehyung knew Jimin wouldn’t give him what his body really wanted right now, but he wanted to feel Jimin with him just the same, and he heavily pressed the short but endearingly thick member up against his own. Jimin’s dick was so similar to Jimin, it made Taehyung laugh the first time he had seen it. Short and thick, easily flushed and pretty in a way Jimin would probably hate if Taehyung ever admitted it aloud. Jimin’s own small hands didn’t quite cover the whole length, but Taehyung’s long, elegant fingers did, and with one hand he was able to wrap around both of them, rubbing them together as Jimin let out sharp, uneven exhales against his neck.

 

“Wow, you’re so amazing,” Jimin gasped, kissing at Taehyung’s cheek and then letting out a groan, his cock twitching against Taehyung’s. “God, Tae, your hands .”

 

Taehyung tilted his chin so he could lick across Jimin’s jaw, nibbling at the Alpha’s earlobe and letting out little pants to show he wanted more attention - needed - more attention. He curled his fingertips around them, squeezing slightly as precum messily dribbled and squelched noisily, the sound as erotic as the way Jimin’s mouth parted, his thick tongue playing with the edge of his lips as his face crumpled with the tension and the pleasure.

 

“Jimin,” Taehyung gasped against him, “I’m gonna cum.”

 

“Shit, me too, stop.” Jimin reached down and pried their members apart, pulling Taehyung’s hand, still wet and sticky with pre-cum, away. Taehyung just let out a loud groan of impatience. Why was Jimin making him wait more ? This was so infuriating, especially when he was so close.

 

Jimin wriggled himself lower on Taehyung’s body, and automatically Taehyung’s hands came up to rest against Jimin’s shoulders, holding him there and maintaining the direct skin contact that helped him breathe and sent shivers through his body all the same. Jimin took gentle hold of Taehyung’s knees, spreading them apart to the telltale sound of all the slick that had built up around Taehyung’s entrance. The cool air hitting that taboo heat made Taehyung shudder, and he glanced down to see Jimin actually licking at his lips as though he were preparing for a full meal. He caught Taehyung staring when he glanced up, and  sent him a smile.

 

“Look how wet you’ve become, pup,” Jimin said lowly. The nickname, which Jimin had only used once before, instantly sent goosebumps up and down Taehyung’s spine. “You know your Scent has been killing me these last couple of days, right? I wanted to touch you, and make you feel good.”

 

Taehyung felt like he should say something back, should try to give Jimin the shivering sensations he was giving Taehyung, but he couldn’t think of anything, so he just whimpered, a high-pitched noise that came not from his throat but from some deeper sense of being.

 

Jimin looked down at Taehyung’s spread legs again, hooking one of Taehyung’s legs over his shoulder before taking the newly freed hand and pressing one thick, soft finger to the twitching entrance, circling his finger around gently and stimulating the nerves that had been at the center of everything for the last few days. Taehyung yelped, his knees jerking back a little and running the heel of his foot up Jimin’s back as his body tried to curl on itself. He panted, his hands flying to fist into the sheets as he tried to prepare himself for the next part. He could feel himself fluttering against Jimin’s touch, his body naturally softened and hot and wet from neediness, from impatience. A shudder ran through him and more slick spilled out against Jimin’s hands, and he looked down in flushed embarrassment, the moan in his throat choking him, only to find Jimin gaping open-mouthed at his now dripping palm. He lifted his gaze to Taehyung, licking his lips again, and whispered, “I d-don’t know if I can do it right, Tae, but...I wanna try…?”

 

In response, another bout of slick escaped him, wordlessly begging him to just go already. Jimin shifted again, lowering his head down and out of Taehyung’s sight. He only had a half a second to wonder at it before he felt a sudden wetness at his entrance that was not of his own.

 

Oh fuck! ” Taehyung yipped, his expression crumpling as he realized it was Jimin’s lovely, talented, perverted tongue which had decided to penetrate him first, slipping past the taut and as-yet-unready-to-yield muscles there. Thick and persistent, Jimin lapped greedily amidst the slick, damp sucking sounds, the only noises in the room aside from Taehyung’s cries. He couldn’t help it - he got ridiculously noisy, moaning without restraint and drawing out Jimin’s name like powerful prayer to a God he’d never met. His hands fisted at the sheets as each nerve exploded one by one, his body happily sinking into what would become a familiarity, a fulfillment of what his body was meant to do. It wasn’t the first time he had been exposed to the ministrations and blessings of the long reach of Jimin’s tongue, but it was easy to let time and distance make him forget just how deeply that particularly blessed muscle could reach, feeling the warm flickering sensation deep inside of him in an inescapable wash of pleasure.

 

He came hard, practically screaming in a deep, broken voice after Jimin had abandoned holding his knees and started using both hands to knead at and part his cheeks, dipping his face in as deeply as possible as he flicked and teased. It hurt - god, it burned - but Taehyung loved it, shuddering roughly and grateful for the way Jimin didn’t stop until he was spiraling back down to earth, swearing under his breath.

 

It was a long moment with the world spinning like a top before Taehyung looked down to see Jimin lift his face up again, one wrist wiping carelessly at his mouth as he panted. When their eyes met, Jimin’s red-rimmed eyes meeting Taehyung’s golden ones, he smirked victoriously. There was cum splattered somehow in the edges of Jimin’s hair, but Taehyung didn’t have the energy to either tell him or brush it away, his whole body boneless with satisfaction. He couldn’t even speak.

 

“Wow, my puppy came so beautifully,” Jimin cooed, reaching up to run his thumb across Taehyung’s cheek. He stared down at Taehyung gasping for breath for a long moment, looking content and proud of himself. “I’m so lucky to have you.”

 

“Jiminnie,” Taehyung finally managed. He wanted to have the energy to make an offer in return, but he couldn’t remember what the words were, quite at that moment. Luckily, Jimin always seemed to know.

 

“Just lie still, puppy,” Jimin kissed his mouth delicately, the salty taste of his own slick in Jimin’s mouth setting Taehyung’s nerves on edge again. “Lie still and let me do the work, okay?”

 

Taehyung nodded, grateful that he wouldn’t have to do anything, since he still didn’t have any strength in his body. He wriggled himself a little deeper into the mattress, adjusting a pillow beneath his head as Jimin fully removed his boxers at last, his cock hot and complaining. Jimin pinched Taehyung’s ankles between his fingers, pushing forward until he could press them against Taehyung’s hands, wordlessly telling him to pin his knees up between his shoulders, his ass exposed to the cool air again and his thighs pressed together over his stomach. Jimin crawled up until he was able to position himself against Taehyung, walking over on his knees and guiding his member between the taut, tanned skin of Taehyung’s thighs. Instinctively, Taehyung pinched his knees together, squeezing around Jimin, happy to hear the sharp inhale as Jimin felt it.

 

“Are you ready, beautiful?” Jimin whispered, his voice thick with need, and for the first time, Taehyung could hear Jimin’s impatience, too. He nodded, swallowing heavily as Jimin started to thrust his hips in, the heat and roughness of his cock rubbing up between the sensitive skin there and making Taehyung shiver, even though he had just came a few minutes ago. He hadn’t realized just how aroused Jimin really was, as he started to let out little whimpering gasps of his own, lips parted and wet, eyes shut and brow furrowed as he lost himself in the feeling of Taehyung’s legs wrapped tightly around his member. Perhaps it was the strength of Jimin’s arousal, tangible in the way they touched and obvious in the heady Scent of peppermint in the air, or maybe it was the overwhelming warmth and sensuality of having Jimin’s cock pinned between his legs, but Taehyung was gasping from overstimulation, his body feeling raw as he sunk beneath the lovely, dizzying sensation.

 

“Jiminnie,” Taehyung said quietly, after a few minutes. He meant to compliment him, tell him how happy Jimin was making him, with the way he seemed to quietly worship every part of the Beta. But all it took was one word, Taehyung’s hand leaving one bent knee to reach up, about to run a hand through Jimin’s hair, and Jimin was already coming, some of the white creaminess splattering into Taehyung’s opened mouth, to his surprise. He paused, blinking as cum landed on his face and chest, his hand still half-raised to his future Mate. Jimin groaned, falling forward and leaning against Taehyung’s now red-thighs. But Taehyung didn’t have the body strength to hold him up, and Jimin ended up clumsily slipping forward between Taehyung’s legs, landing on his cum-splattered chest with a little slapping sound and a groan. Taehyung blinked sleepily, his arms wrapping around Jimin’s shoulders and his feet blindly entangling around Jimin’s legs, effectively binding the boy to him with his own body.

 

They lay in silence for what felt like hours, and with a surprise, Taehyung opened his eyes again to the sound of Jimin crawling back into the bed with him, and he realized that he must have fallen asleep, because Jimin’s hair was damp from a shower and he seemed refreshed, nuzzling up against the Beta.

 

“Jimin…” Taehyung breathed.

 

Jimin tilted his head up, looking a little taken aback by the fact that Taehyung was awake again. “Tae-Tae. Are you feeling better?”

 

Taehyung paused, considering for a moment, then gave a little nod. “Much better.”

 

“Well, good, because Namjoon came by earlier and said the whole house could hear us,” Jimin sighed in exasperation. Taehyung could see the hot, red flush around Jimin’s ears as he pulled a clean sheet over the both of them, snaking an arm underneath Taehyung to cradle him against his chest. “It took me ages and help from Seokjin and Jungkook to reassure him that we didn’t Mate, and that I didn’t almost kill you.” He sighed. “We’re never gonna live this down, you know.”

 

“Namjoon’s too vanilla,” Taehyung found himself saying, still half-drunk on the delirium and nuzzling into Jimin’s Scent. “And I don’t mind. Now they won’t question that you’re my Alpha.”

 

Jimin stiffened for a moment in shock, his thumb rubbing at Taehyung’s skin and making the Beta hum. “Your Alpha…” Jimin breathed, as though testing out the words in the air.

 

“Of course,” Taehyung mumbled in understanding, eyes shutting once again. “My Alpha.”

 

~~~~~

 

 

When Jungkook woke up the next morning, it was to the familiar, welcoming scent of soap surrounding him. He smiled, tucking his face into the smell, the warmth of skin against his nose making his heart rate speed up. He was home. It was real . He reached out and wrapped his arms around Seokjin, happy to note that after Seokjin ended up not taking his suppressants for the rest of the day before, he was already smelling more like himself. Stronger than usual, even. Jungkook inhaled as much as he could, wriggling his whole body a little closer across Seokjin’s mattress. They had slept most of yesterday once Seokjin had come home, but they were still able to sleep the whole night. Mostly because Seokjin had apparently been exhausted , but also because Jungkook couldn’t bring himself to move away from the Alpha for more than a few minutes at a time. It was like he had to make up for the lost time where they had physically been apart.

 

There was a little groan from Seokjin, and Jungkook finally opened his eyes to see that the Alpha’s head had slipped off the pillow, tilted back at an angle with his neck outstretched. Jungkook blinked twice, staring at the length of the Alpha’s skin exposed in his sleep, before timidly craning forward and pressing his lips to Seokjin’s neck. Even in his sleep, Seokjin gave a sharp inhale, a half-snoring sound escaping him as he shuffled a little on the bed, his lips pouting. Jungkook smirked, pushing himself up on his hands until he was hovering over Seokjin’s chest, leaning down and turning his light pecks into explorative kisses that lingered. He felt Seokjin moving beneath him, sensing that he was already half awake. Jungkook had noticed he was a light sleeper before, and today was no exception, despite his exhaustion for the last few weeks.

 

Before Seokjin could fully wake up, though, Jungkook lifted his hips up off the mattress, scooching over until he was able to lay down on top of the Alpha, their chests pressed together and Jungkook’s thighs dangling off at either side of Seokjin’s. The Alpha’s eyes flickered open, and his lips parted in surprise as Jungkook leaned back down to resume his tender appreciation of Seokjin’s neck, mouthing openly at the pale skin and tilting his head to catch each bump and crease around the prominent adam’s apple. When they had kissed during Jungkook’s heat, he had tried to get Seokjin to open his mouth for him, to deepen their kisses, but to no avail. In a way, he was trying to suggest the need now, suckling and touching his tongue to the sensitive neck. He felt a little warm rush of pleasure as he felt Seokjin react, stiffening up.

 

“If you’re that hungry, we should go make breakfast,” Seokjin teased, chuckling a little as his hands came up to gently take hold of both of Jungkook’s arms.

 

Jungkook lifted his head, meeting Seokjin’s eyes steadily and wondering if he should make the perverted joke that had just sprung to his mind. Opting against it, he instead breathed. “Is this okay?”

 

Seokjin’s lips curved up a little, and a hand carded through Jungkook’s hair gently. “Yeah.”

 

With that as confirmation, Jungkook slowly but steadily lowered his hips down onto Seokjin, pressing his crotch heavily against the undeniable hardness of Seokjin’s arousal, the surest sign that the suppressants were no longer effective, even if the lack of the disgusting smell hadn’t also been clear enough. The Alpha let out a little gasp of concern, fumbling as if to wriggle out and away from Jungkook, but the Omega held him steadily there by the shoulders.

 

“Don’t run away again,” Jungkook whispered, aware of how sorrowful he sounded, how the lilting pain in his voice inevitably made Seokjin pause. “Just let me help you. Please .”

 

“Sorry, it’s just…” Seokjin licked his lips, his gaze flickering away from Jungkook as though he had just seen something he shouldn’t have. “I’m not used to it this way, and...I don’t want this to be something you’re obligated to do.”

 

Jungkook sat up a little, frowning at the mere suggestion. Didn’t Seokjin realize that Jungkook wanted him? Wanted to make him feel good, to make him happy? “It’s not like that,” he mumbled, not sure how to express the complicated elation in his chest.

 

“Jin,” he started lowly, “When you saw me during my heat...what did you think of?”

 

Seokjin blinked up at him, his face reddening with an almost comical quickness. “W-well, I--”

 

“Me, too,” Jungkook stated firmly.

 

There was a tense moment of silence, and Seokjin licked his lips. “Okay, Jungkook, but… we should clarify a couple things first.”

 

Jungkook let out a sigh, quirking his lips and jutting his tongue into the soft inside of his cheek, forming an expression of exasperation and impatience. “Okay, what ?”

 

“First, don’t expect too much, okay? I’m sure the suppressants are still in my system, so… I don’t honestly know if it’ll do any good.”

 

At that, Jungkook glanced back over and met Seokjin’s eyes. He had no intention of letting his efforts not work, and now he felt he had been challenged. “And?”

“And you’re really not required to do this. You say the word and we stop. At any time.”

 

Jungkook was fairly certain that Seokjin did not quite accept the fact that he’d been dreaming about this moment - quite literally dreaming about this exact scenario - for months. But he agreed with a nod. “Anything else?”

 

Seokjin worked at his bottom lip with his teeth, the movement distracting Jungkook for a moment, and he was just barely able to direct his attention back to Seokjin’s words in time to catch him say, “I also don’t know what I’ll do, so….if I say or do anything that makes you uncomfortable, you have to tell me. And at least for today...I’m not going to do anything.”

 

With a tilt of his head, Jungkook blinked at the Alpha, still lying prone on the bed. “Not do anything? What do you mean?”

“I mean, this is my rut, and you want to help me, so...help me.” Seokjin swallowed, his adam’s apple bobbing up and down his long throat. “But I’m not...I’m not going to touch you.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because, it’s my rut , Jungkook,” Seokjin snapped, sounding a little irritated, now. Jungkook could see the slight thread-like trace of red around his eyes, like a subtle warning. His voice dipped low, his jaw clenched and he frowned as he added with a heaviness of purpose, “If I start, I won’t be able to stop, Jungkook. Trust me on this at least, okay?”

 

Jungkook couldn’t deny that he felt a shiver of anticipation roll up and down his spine at the way Seokjin had said that. Why did that prospect sound so thrilling? The mental image of Seokjin, wild with a lack of control, unable to stop...wasn’t it supposed to be scary? But Jungkook felt that twinge of competitiveness streak through him, a petulance that wanted to push Seokjin. He shoved the feeling down - today he would be good, he would do what Seokjin said, and not make Seokjin’s rut any more difficult to deal with than it had to be.

 

“Okay, I understand,” he added, although he couldn’t keep all traces of the reluctance out of his voice. Seokjin arched an eyebrow, pouting his lips a little as he wriggled his hips, shifting his body up higher onto the pillows. The Alpha let out a low, long sigh, closing his eyes as though bracing himself.

 

“Alright,” was all he said. Jungkook finally leaned forward, tugging at the loose sweatpants the Alpha had worn to sleep. The black boxers were a tantalizing sight, and Jungkook felt himself pausing, just taking a moment to stare. Something had gripped into his core that he hadn’t expected, a rush, maybe one could call it, or a hunger. It definitely felt different .

 

At long last, Seokjin shifted a little, obviously nervous. “What are you staring at?” The self-consciousness in his voice was evident, and Jungkook looked up at him, eyes wide and a little smile still on his lips.

 

“I don’t know, I just...I think I know what Namjoon was talking about, when he said we were Bonded. But that feels like just part of it, if that makes sense? I’m...I think I’m nervous.”

 

In response, Seokjin just frowned, his ears, cheeks and neck going redder with each passing second that Jungkook sat on his calves and stared at the still clothed crotch.

 

“J-just get on with it, goddamn it,” Seokjin mumbled, smacking at his arm. “It’s a dick, not a statue in a museum.”

 

“I’ve been to museums, they have plenty of dicks on display,” Jungkook chuckled as he reached over and slowly, confidently tugged Seokjin’s black boxers down, his member slipping free. Jungkook hadn’t meant to, he would have slapped himself before consciously doing so, but he gasped .

 

“What!?” Seokjin questioned, pushing himself up on his elbows, his brow crinkling in concern. “What is it?”

 

It’s beautiful, fuck my life. Jungkook wanted to shoot himself in the foot at that moment; his confidence of a few minutes ago having just up and leapt out the window. Seokjin himself was already handsome, strong, talented and kind. His dick didn’t have to be a work of art as well. It just wasn’t fair . He felt heat rise to his cheeks when he thought about how Seokjin had already made himself acquainted with Jungkook’s own member, and the comparison made him want to scream. He had been so ready a moment ago, but now, literally face-to-face with one of the main things that had kept Seokjin deliberately away from him, he was suddenly unsure of himself.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

“It’s better,” Jungkook snapped, sounding angry even. He frowned at the pink swollenness of the cock next to his hand. “It’s better than the museum ones.”

 

“Oh my god, will you please shut up,” Seokjin groaned, laying back against the pillows and looking strained. He pressed his long, soft fingers across his face and let out a frustrated noise. “ God , why is this so awkward?”

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook mumbled, shifting himself into a better position. Seokjin remained with his hands over his face, and in a way, that definitely made things easier. Rather than being distracted by Seokjin’s gaze, he could focus on one body part at a time. With nervousness that was already making his palms sweat, he reached out and tentatively wrapped his hands around the heated cock, his fingers curling gently. Instantly, he heard Seokjin give a heavy gasp, muffled by his hands. The Alpha’s entire body was pulled tight and unforgiving, like a wind-up toy wound up all the way.

 

Jungkook took a deep breath, slowly and gently pulling his hand down the length. Seokjin’s shoulders seemed to ripple upwards in the center, like the gravity in his body had shifted, and Jungkook started to move his hand up and down steadily. The warmth and stiffness of Seokjin in his hand, finally there with him, not running away or keeping his distance, had him hungry to do his utmost and his best. He wanted to make Seokjin as crazy as he had been, in the cabin. He felt a little wetness against the webbing of his hand, and he looked down to see the glisten of precum slipping from the tip of the pink head. Fascinated, Jungkook swiped his thumb across it, spreading it around and effectively slicking up the palm of his hand after a few repeats. Seokjin’s breathing was suddenly very, very uneven. Jungkook looked up at his face, seeing it still half-covered by one hand draped across. Seokjin’s fingers kept curling and uncurling, each knuckle tense and quivering every so often. Jungkook’s lips parted, and he continued to stare up at Seokjin’s face steadily. It wasn’t exactly confidence or self-assurance that suddenly had his hand moving more confidently, squeezing hard and twisting around the tip, his thumb continually flicking around to find the spot that would get the strongest reaction; it was more like determination. His eyes locked on Seokjin’s with a hard, steady gaze as he quickly became fascinated with every quiver and whimper that escaped the Alpha. The tip of his tongue flickered over his bottom lip, his own crotch warming with arousal as he watched Seokjin’s face grow ever pinker, watched him suck in a breath through his teeth with less and less restraint.

 

There was a tingling sensation beneath his hand that had been building with each movement, each twist. Seokjin’s hand flopped down at his side, the other one still thrown across his eyes. Jungkook reached out with his free hand and entwined his fingers with Seokjin’s, letting out a contented sigh. His fingers squeezed at the Alpha’s, and suddenly it was like an explosion beneath their skin, and Jungkook shuddered from the overwhelming force of it. Seokjin let out a cry that broke off into pieces, his face turning colors as he started to writhe on the bed messily.

 

“Oh holy fuck,” Seokjin whimpered, “Fuck-fuck- fuck !” His whole body seemed to be twisting on the bed, his eyes surprised as he breathed,”What the fuck!?”

 

Jungkook, still tickled through to his bones in a way that had him smiling, only managed one word. “Bonding?”

 

When Seokjin shifted his foot on the bed, as though an itch were rising through his body, Jungkook was struck with an idea. Seokjin’s rules had only really focused on what Seokjin was not allowed do - he hadn’t really set any limits on what Jungkook wasn’t allowed to do. His eyes widened, and he could practically feel the blue surrounding his eyes, could smell his own rising arousal as he gave Seokjin’s now slick and slippery cock another long look, before he leaned down. His hand slowed its movement, and Seokjin seemed to relax for a moment, forcing himself to breathe more evenly. Jungkook lifted his eyes to watch Seokjin’s face, then parted his lips again, gingerly giving the tip of the cock the gentlest kitten lick. Seokjin let out a gasp of surprise, freezing in place. Not satisfied with the guarded reaction, he got bolder. Jungkook opened his mouth, slackened his jaw and broadened his tongue as he licked heavily all across the head, curling his neck around to taste every angle before slipping Seokjin’s cock into his mouth.

 

Seokjin positively keened .

 

“Oh fuck …!” His back arched up off the bed, and then he was scrambling for purchase, half-sitting up and staring wide-eyed as Jungkook continued to suck quite unskillfully at his member. “ Jungkook , what are you doing?”

 

Jungkook just smirked, raising one hand in a thumbs up gesture. The thick circle of red in Seokjin’s eyes, the way he visibly had a layer of sweat already across his brow, the pinkness of his lips from being aroused, that was enough to spur on Jungkook even more. The precum in his mouth tasted bitter and strange, the texture against his tongue was foreign and unlike anything he could properly compare it to. But he liked the feeling of gripping at Seokjin’s thighs, fingers squeezing at the skin there as he heartily ignored Seokjin calling for him to stop, telling him he didn’t have to do this. Just shut up and let me take care of you.

 

He wanted to one-up himself, so Jungkook took in a deep breath and lowered his face even more, pressing Seokjin’s cock deeper into his mouth until he was suddenly gagging on it, and despite his attempts, it only lasted a few moments before Jungkook was pulling away, coughing as Seokjin sighed.

 

“You’re unbelievable,” Seokjin said.

 

Jungkook pouted, tilting his head to glare up at Seokjin, and the Alpha’s eyes seemed to widen, as though in surprise. “I wanna learn to do it,” Jungkook declared, his voice still strangely rough and affected from his first try at taking Seokjin deeply into his mouth. “I’m gonna learn to do it.”

 

It was Seokjin’s turn to tilt his head curiously to the side, before he gave a little laugh, reaching out and patting Jungkook’s head. “Why not just take things one step at a time, like a normal human, though? Listen, here…” And Seokjin was shifting his position on the bed, parting his legs a little and coaxing Jungkook in between them. With a surprisingly casual air, he took hold of Jungkook’s hand, pressing it around the base of his cock. For a moment, their fingers were entwined, and Jungkook felt a warmth spreading all across his body at the sensation of being guided by Seokjin, of his Alpha leading him in the way he should go.

 

“You can’t take anything beyond your hand’s width, okay? That sound fair enough?” Seokjin laughed.

 

Jungkook nodded, eyes still locked on Seokjin’s face for a long moment before he looked down at his hand again. He frowned, his brow furrowing in determination before he lowered himself back down to Seokjin’s crotch, taking the now much more limited length allowed to him fully into his mouth and suckling happily. Due to the fact that Seokjin was now fully hardened and aroused, every movement was now accompanied by a telltale wet kind of sound, and Seokjin let out a low whimper. Jungkook angled his head so he could look up, and he saw Seokjin staring down at him. Their eyes locked, and Jungkook pumped his hand, twisted it along the base even as he tongued the tip, and his heart fluttered to see Seokjin’s eyes roll, his head lolling back as he moaned much more openly than before. He could have even sworn he almost heard Seokjin say his name.

 

He closed his eyes, focusing on the sensation of Seokjin inside of him - at least, in one sense, one which would have to do for today - and nearly jolted in surprise when he felt Seokjin’s hand in his hair. He opened one eye to see Seokjin looking down at him, eyes glassy and unfocused, a blissful smile on his face that was continually being tugged into a tense crumpling of oversensitivity.

 

“Holy fuck ,” Seokjin breathed, so quietly he almost didn’t hear him. “Jungkook, that feels so good, you don’t even know.”

 

In response, Jungkook sucked with more fervor, tucking the tip of his tongue under the head of Seokjin’s member and tickling at it, his thumb twisting across the veiny middle as suddenly Seokjin was starting to tremble, gasping out a breathless, “Wait, wait, wait!” that wasn’t really directed at Jungkook himself. Seokjin tilted his head back, letting out a long, noisy moan, and Jungkook pulled back in time to watch Seokjin cum, splattering all over his bare stomach like paint. With the same star-struck fascination, he continued to stroke at the beautiful erect member until he had milked it dry, feeling Seokjin’s hand in his hair grip roughly to signal he was being overstimulated. Once finished, Jungkook couldn’t resist his curiosity - he leaned slowly forward, giving Seokjin’s cock one last kitten lick and lapping up a little of the dribbling cum. He was surprised to note that it wasn’t as bitter as he had imagined, and he wondered if that had to do with the fact that it was Seokjin’s rut or that it was Seokjin himself that altered that.

 

The hand in his hair gave a pat, and Seokjin was blinking dazedly. “Go-good...good job, Jungkookie,” Seokjin managed between gasps. Jungkook sat up a little straighter, and he knew that if he had been in wolf form, his tail would have begun to wag at the praise. He smiled a little in lieu of a proper bashfulness. Seokjin patted his hair, his fingertips lingering a little. “You did so well, and it was your first time, too. I’m sorry, I grabbed your hair...I’m sorry.”

 

He praised me. Even though I didn’t really know what I was doing, he came and he praised me . Jungkook bit his bottom lip, feeling his stomach flip delightedly.

 

“S-Seokjin, can I…?” he gave a little gesture toward the mess they had left spilled all over Seokjin’s front, and the Alpha arched a confused eyebrow.

 

“What?”

 

Without further ado, Jungkook leaned down, licking up all the remaining cum, lovingly giving Seokjin’s thighs an extra squeeze occasionally as Seokjin whimpered above him.

 

“Are you fucking serious right now?” Seokjin breathed, as Jungkook lapped up the last of it, swallowing it down and smirking up at Seokjin. “Did you really eat it all?”

 

In response, Jungkook opened his mouth, displaying his tongue proudly so Seokjin could see that it was clear.

 

“Oh my god…” Seokjin rolled his eyes. “If I wasn’t super tired right now, I’d slap you.”

 

“Lucky for me, then,” Jungkook murmured, leaning down to suckle at the now damp skin of Seokjin’s soft white thighs, biting down a little at the flesh and making Seokjin’s muscles quiver.

 

“God, fuck you…” Seokjin breathed, his head dropping back to the pillow and half-burying his face into it. “I feel like I’ve just run a hundred miles.”

 

“Then sleep,” Jungkook said candidly, brushing back his bangs and kissing his forehead. “When you wake up, I’ll bring you food.”

 

The only response he got was a soft hum from Seokjin, his eyes fluttering closed as he sighed. Jungkook lifted up the sheet to cover the Alpha, giving one last glance at Seokjin’s now flaccid member. He raised his thumb to his mouth, biting at the nail there and considering for a moment, before reaching over for his cell phone. Okay, just one photo couldn’t hurt. He held up the phone, angling it so he could get as much of Seokjin in the frame as possible, and the shutter clicked. Jungkook ran a hand through his hair, looking at the photo on his reel. He glanced over the top of the phone case, at the still sleeping Seokjin. The Alpha shifted a little in his sleep, letting out a cute little sigh. The Omega groaned, then knelt down until he was at the foot of the bed, lifting his phone up again and clicking through at least four more pictures. I’m such a pervert… He finally draped the bedsheet over the sleeping man, making sure he was totally covered before Jungkook left him, stopping to wash his hands and brush his teeth before going downstairs.

 

Yoongi was cooking, his back turned to the doorway as he skillfully whipped eggs into a bowl. Jungkook shuffled into the kitchen, offering Yoongi a smile when the elder looked up.

 

“Morning, Kookie,” Yoongi greeted softly. “You hungry?”

 

“Yeah,” he pulled out a chair at the dining room table, sitting down and slowly dropping his head down to rest in his arms, letting out a sigh.

 

“Sleep well?”

 

“Mm,” Jungkook assented. “Like a baby. But somehow I’m already tired again.”

 

“Well,” Yoongi seemed about to add something onto that, but in the end a gentle silence enveloped the room. The smell of cooked ham, cheese and eggs wafted through the air, and Jungkook half-dozed on the table until there was the clatter of a plate being slid in front of him. Mumbling his thanks, he took the fork and dug into an omelet that was almost too pretty to eat. He was eating for several minutes in silence, when he happened to glance over at Yoongi. The older Omega was scrolling through his phone, chewing contemplatively and not even glancing at his plate. Jungkook rested his chin in his hand, tilting his head to the side curiously as he watched him. Yoongi had always been the one he was most comfortable going to about ‘adult stuff’ over the years, this was true. But after this morning, and after the things Seokjin had told him last night, Jungkook wasn’t sure how his next questions were going to go down.

 

“Yoongi, can I ask you something?” Jungkook queried, scraping his fork a little across the top of the omelet, drawing lines there in the slight moistness left from the oil.

 

“Of course,” Yoongi didn’t even blink.

 

“I wanna talk to you about...consent.”

 

“Consent: noun: p ermission for something to happen or agreement to do something,” Yoongi rattled off automatically. “Verb: to give permission for something to happen.” Jungkook blinked, then rolled his eyes.

 

“You sound like a word-of-the-day generator,” Jungkook teased.

 

“I’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble with Jimin and Taehyung. Jimin claims I cheat, so I have to be ready to defend myself.” He took another bite of omelet, and from the slight quirk of his lips and based on past experiences, Jungkook thought it safe to assume that both Taehyung and Yoongi were probably cheating at Scrabble.

 

“What I mean is...consent in the bedroom .” Jungkook finally managed, his voice quiet. He could almost feel Yoongi’s double take, his head whipping up suddenly.

 

He was already halfway up out of his chair, eyes flashing wildly in a way Jungkook had only seen happen a handful of times in all the years they’d known each other. “Seokjin hasn’t been making  yo--?!”


“No, no, no!” Jungkook waved his hands, reaching out and taking hold of Yoongi’s arm, tugging him gently back down to his chair. “I promise . In fact, it’s kind of the opposite problem?”

 

Yoongi blinked, his voice dropping deep. “The... opposite…”

 

Jungkook pursed his lips together, his smile halfway between shy and smirking. “Well, I was just thinking, well...about how you and Hoseok have such a great... bond , you know?”

 

Several moments passed between them, and Yoongi didn’t move, didn’t seem to blink, didn’t seem inclined to respond. Jungkook quirked his mouth to the side.

 

“You both want to make each other happy, right? So sometimes you have to make compromises, you learn what each other likes and doesn’t like, you trust each other…” Jungkook looked hopefully over at the Omega, hoping Yoongi would start catching on. “You trust him . To know what you like. But h-how did you tell him? How did he start to know?”

 

Yoongi tilted his head to the side, his bangs falling into his eyes as he stared at Jungkook. “We talked about it. It’s not some big secret, after all.”

 

“But lots of couples talk, and it doesn’t help,” Jungkook countered, leaning in. He didn’t want to just end up bickering with Seokjin, fighting back and forth and getting nowhere.

 

“Because they weren’t really listening,” Yoongi shrugged. “Jungkook, what are you actually asking about?”

 

Jungkook poked at his omelet, which was now getting cold, then he lifted his eyes back to Yoongi’s and solidly said, “I want to ask Seokjin about BDSM.”

 

A long, silent moment passed. Yoongi was frozen, biting the inside of his cheek, staring at Jungkook as if he had said he wanted to grow a second head next summer. Jungkook could see that he was weighing his next words carefully, and he felt the heat rising up on his neck of shame and embarrassment - sure, they had talked pretty openly about certain things before, but nothing like this , nothing directly involving something so intimate and private, and he had never had the courage to be so direct.

 

Yoongi chewed the inside of his cheek for another moment, before looking down at his empty plate and scraping at the bits and remnants. “What makes you think to ask me about that?”

 

At that, Jungkook flushed, looking up at Yoongi’s ugly clock where it hung up on the wall. “Um… I know about you and...um...Hoseok.” The deliberate lack of eye contact was now so pointed, Jungkook could feel the tension in the air. He decided to continue, albeit quietly. “I walked in on you two once.”

 

He had never told a soul about it. It had been an afternoon when all the others had been out, and he had come home earlier than expected to hear Hoseok’s cries upstairs. When he had glanced into the bedroom, finding Yoongi biting roughly at Hoseok’s skin as he tugged at the ropes that kept the Alpha spread eagled on the bed, it had felt like his heart had risen up in his throat. The mental image had stamped itself onto his memory. It had taken him months to admit to himself that it had looked beautiful...romantic, even, the way the two of them had been weeping together, the Omega silently and the Alpha without restraint.

 

“T-to be honest, I got curious, so…” Jungkook wriggled in his seat a little, taking a small bite of his omelet and chewing it slowly.

 

Yoongi leaned across the dining room table, his voice a rough hiss and his ears a bright pink, one hand splayed out heavily on the tabletop. “Jungkook, I want you to tell me honestly, did Seokjin put you up to this?”

 

Jungkook blinked, confused for a moment. “N-no, he didn’t. I saw you two before Seokjin even moved in.” He scraped at his plate with his fork, the abrasive sound making him cringe a little. “That’s what I mean by ‘it’s the opposite problem’… It’s not something Seokjin asked for, actually, but I...”

 

A pause, while Yoongi let the words sink in. He sat back in his chair, slowly letting out a breath that seemed to release all the tension from his body. “ Oh .”

 

It was a single word, but it made Jungkook blush more than anything else that had been said throughout the whole conversation.

 

“It’s not bad, though, is it?” Jungkook whispered. When Seokjin had first brought up the way he had used to be, Jungkook was ashamed to have started to get excited. It seemed like one more thing for him and Seokjin to have in common, and he had wanted to broach the subject, confidence growing in the fact that the Alpha wouldn’t judge him for his curiosity. But the way Seokjin seemed ashamed of his past, and the way he worried about Jungkook so much as to promise not to touch him while Jungkook helped him during his rut...it wasn’t the kind of rapport he wanted to have with his Mate. And the longer it lingered beneath the surface, the stronger and more pervasive he knew it was going to become.

 

“No, Jungkook,” Yoongi said at last, reaching out and laying a hand on the younger’s shoulder, finally a little smile coming to his face. “It’s not bad at all, but it can be unhealthy. You have to remember it’s not the way of trusting someone, but a way of expressing trust that you’ve already established. “ Yoongi leaned forward, his chin resting in both palms as a sad expression crossed his face. “Seokjin and I have certainly seen our share of the unhealthy side of it.”

 

Jungkook shuffled in his seat, finishing off his breakfast before he glanced over at Yoongi and swallowed heavily. “He’s afraid of hurting me. I want him to know that it doesn’t have to be like it was before.”

 

Yoongi nodded, then stood up, letting out a little groan as he stretched. “Put the dishes in the dishwasher and meet me in your room,” he said simply, walking out of the kitchen. Jungkook’s eyes widened, a burning curiosity flaring in his chest as he rushed to do as instructed, stepping into the doorway to his - mostly unused - bedroom, to find Yoongi sitting in the middle of the carpet, emptying out a cardboard shoe box. He slowly took out a book and a length of rope that was several feet long, placing them out onto the floor and looking up at Jungkook, who remained standing in the doorway.

 

“I’ll teach you the basics, but it’s still your job to talk to Seokjin. I won’t be getting involved in any of that mess any more than I already am.”

 

Jungkook smiled, leaping over and embracing Yoongi for a long moment, nuzzling his nose into the Omega’s Scent gland with gratefulness before pulling back. “Thanks, Yoongi, I really appreciate it.”

 

“Of course,” Yoongi smiled, reaching over to ruffle Jungkook’s hair. “Okay, now take these two ends in your hands, like this….”

 

Jungkook held the ropes in his hands, letting the older Omega patiently move his hands around to form the basic knots. He was almost getting it, when he heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs. No one usually came into his room, so he thought nothing of it, until he heard someone calling for him in the kitchen.


“Jungkookie~” Hoseok sang, “Where are you?”

 

There was half a second of reassuring himself Hoseok would give up the search after a few minutes, before Jungkook remembered, to his horror, that Hoseok seemed to have a very uncanny ability to smell out Jungkook whenever he was hiding around the house. And today he was sure his Scent was a little stronger, due to what he and Seokjin had been up to earlier that morning.

“Put it away ,” Yoongi hissed, shoving the remainder of the ropes at the younger. Jungkook shuffled, frantically try to tug the knots and loops off of his wrists where he had been testing out the cat’s paw tie. It had been tied just a little too tightly. Oh shit .

 

“Why does the house smell?” Hoseok asked, just as he threw open the door to Jungkook’s bedroom. The two Omegas flinched, looking up at the doorway to see the look of horror and shock growing across Hoseok’s face as he took in the way that Jungkook knelt in the middle of the floor, arms half-entangled in ropes.

 

“W-what the fuck are you two doing?!”

Chapter Text

“We recognize a soulmate by the supreme level of comfort and security we feel with that person. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that remain to be ironed out. Rather, it means we know intuitively that we can resolve issues with our soulmate without losing his or her love and respect.”

― Linda Brady

 

“Hoseok,” Yoongi said, sounding surprisingly calm, “I’m showing Jungkook the ropes.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. Of all the times for Yoongi’s latent affinity for playing on words to arise, it had to be now, when Hoseok was staring at the youngest pack member entangled in bondage ropes. Yoongi’s expression remained passive as he said, “Don’t freak out.”

 

“Don’t freak out?! Jungkook is practically still a pup!” Hoseok leaned in, lowering his voice as if Jungkook couldn’t still hear him clear as day, “And you’re showing this kind of thing to him?!”

“Yoongi wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Jungkook spoke up, actually feeling a little irritated at the assumption. “I...I asked him about it, because I’m interested.”

 

Hoseok gaped at Jungkook for a moment, lips parted in an expression of mindblown speechlessness. “Jungkook, what are you trying to prove? Seokjin didn’t pressure you to d--?”

“Why does everyone assume that?!” Jungkook snapped, ripping the ropes off his wrists at last and tossing them to the floor before standing up, his stance defensive. “When have I ever done anything that I didn’t want to do?” He frowned. It wasn’t as if he was the type of person who just blindly did things people told him to - he had always been an obedient pup because he wanted to make the older wolves happy, had wanted to do things for them. “Why is it no big deal if it’s you and Yoongi, but I’m still treated like a pup that has to be protected?”

 

Hoseok gaped for a moment, like a stunned fish. “Because you are still a pup, Jungkook.”

 

“But he’s not,” Yoongi cut in, “He came to me on his own, asking about how to do things right. I dunno about you, but I think that shows how serious he is.”

 

“He presented just a couple months ago!” Hoseok protested.

 

“Yes, and Jimin, too! And even before that, you always babied Jungkook!” Yoongi retorted, frowning at the Alpha. “You need to just learn to let go. He’s smart and he knows what he wants.”

 

“I know he’s smart, I’m just not sure encouraging this kind of thing is what’s best for him.”

 

“It’s not encouraging, it’s supporting. There’s a difference. Like there’s  a difference between affection and coddling.”

 

“I don’t think it’s considered ‘coddling’ to not teach a freshly presented wolf about bondage,” Hoseok pressed his lips together in a tight line, his eyes stony. But Jungkook could see the slight flush on his cheeks, and he knew Hoseok’s weak spots.

 

“Hoseok,” Jungkook said quietly, stepping forward and into Hoseok’s space. The Alpha’s lips pressed even more tightly and he flinched, as if to step back. “This isn’t about the ropes. You haven’t been able to accept me as a fully grown wolf in the pack. You avoid me like you don’t want to be close to me anymore.”

 

Hoseok visibly reddened, looking down at the ground as though ashamed. ‘It’s just...you’re an Omega now. Things are different.”

 

“But why? Why this way? Jimin’s an Alpha, and we’re still close.”

 

“It’s different..”

 

“But why ?!”

 

“Because you’re like my pup!” Hoseok snapped. “And Namjoon feels the same way. It’s strange to think of you as an Omega, much less apparently already with a Mate.”

 

Jungkook looked over at Yoongi, whose face remained impassive and blank. “But… whether you like it or not, Hoseok, I am grown. I’m an Omega, and yeah, that means some things have changed, but not everything has to.”

 

Hoseok frowned, crossing his arms and glaring at the carpet for a moment. It looked as though he had something else to say, so Jungkook and Yoongi waited, and it took multiple sighs before Hoseok begrudgingly was able to mumble, “You still smell like him.”

 

Jungkook started a little at that. He had figured as much, but he didn’t know Hoseok was going to admit it so forthrightly. “Yeah...and I want to be with him.”

 

Hoseok let out another tight-sounding sigh. “I like him, I really do. But you have to understand..” His voice rounded out, becoming more gentle now, more like the way Hoseok used to speak to him. “We knew you would Present early, but not this early. And...we don’t know him that well. You’ve only known him for a few months.”

 

“Almost a year,” Jungkook corrected. “And all we want is what you two have.”

 

Apparently, that wasn’t the answer Hoseok had been expecting. His arms dropped, lips parted as he looked over at Yoongi in question, who just shrugged and smiled a little. “W-what we have? What do you mean?”

 

Jungkook smirked, looking down at their feet, his bangs trailing into his eyes. “I mean he trusts me, you know? He trusts me and I can trust him. I think the only thing that’s taken us this long is trusting ourselves , mostly. And I want to show him what that trust means for us. And I want to do it this way,” Jungkook didn’t even need to gesture to the box of beginner bondage that Yoongi had brought for him. “And I wanna do it safely, and I wanna do it correctly. It’s not like the internet is going to give me dependably accurate information, you know. So who better to learn from than Yoongi, right? He’ll be straightforward with me about the parts I have to be careful on, he’s got experience, and he knows me. Knows us . He knows what it’s like to want to show the ultimate trust to his partner.”

 

Yoongi leaned in a little towards the Alpha, his voice gentle but self-assured as he added, “You and I know better than anyone that BDSM can get dangerous and misused, Hoseok. You know the experiences I’ve had, and why we even introduced it. He genuinely as an interest but wants to avoid making the sort of mistakes my own partners made before, for his own sake as well as for Jin’s. Shouldn’t we help them do that?”

 

Letting the words sink in, Hoseok shifted his weight from foot to foot, and they all ignored the pile of treated rope coiled on the floor between them, signifying just how Jungkook was going to express that trust to his future Mate. At long last, Hoseok said, “Okay. To be honest, I still don’t like it. I don’t know if I ever will, because to me you still look like the timid pup you were when I first came into the pack. But if this is really what you want, then, I’ll try to support you.”

 

At those words, Jungkook rushed forward, wrapping his arms around Hoseok’s waist and burying his face into the Alpha’s shoulder, breathing a sigh of relief as the elder slowly wrapped his arms around Jungkook, squeezing him tightly and letting out a sigh that seemed to release all the tension in his body. They stayed like that for several long minutes, and Jungkook relaxed as he breathed in the smell of Hoseok’s Scent, and the smell of him finally relaxing a little around the youngest. He could feel how much Hoseok cared for him, how much he worried about him, in every molecule of the Alpha’s body.

 

“Thank you,” Jungkook said, muffled into Hoseok’s shoulder.

 

~~~~~

 

Kiara sat on the edge of the bed she shared with Namjoon, gently folding the freshly laundered clothes into neat little piles. A black sock slipped off the edge of the mattress and onto the floor, left unseen until she was almost done. She held up the singular sock left in the basket with a frown, leaning forward and spotting its neighbor poking out from just underneath the comforter. She moved to crouch and retrieve it, but a hand came up to stop her, softly pushing her back onto the bed.

 

“No, I’ll get it,” Namjoon said gently, bending to pick up the sock and holding it out to her. Kiara quietly rubbed a hand across her swollen, pregnant belly and took it with a smile, reaching up to cup Namjoon’s round face, dipping the edge of her fingertip into the deep dimple that formed as he smirked down at her, pressing his lips to her forehead.

 

“Joonie, did you talk to Seokjin yet about the stuff with Yunho?”

 

“Not yet,” Joonie sighed, moving from kissing her forehead to pressing his lips gently against her cheek. The white sheer material serving as their canopy brushed up against their shoulders as he leaned over her, running a hand through her short red hair. “He’s just gotten back and he spent pretty much the whole day with Jungkook.”

 

“Mm…” Kiara giggled. “I don’t blame him.”

 

“You don’t seem worried about it at all,” Namjoon commented, seeing the way her smile didn’t falter.

 

“Jungkook and Seokjin are going to be fine,” Kiara hummed. “Call it an Omega’s intuition. We can smell the happiness in the house now. Jungkook’s never been happier, and he’s a good kid, so I’m sure they’ll figure things out.” She snuggled up against him as best as she could with her plump belly. “And besides, he’s your brother, after all, and he’s come back to do things right, as best as he can. I think we can trust him in that. He’s kind of like the prodigal son in a lot of ways, you know? And I always liked that story.”

 

“Hmm…” Namjoon hummed.

 

“But don’t think I’m not watching him like a hawk,” Kiara said in a cheerful tone, “Jungkook is like the pack’s baby, after all. We were there for his first real birthday party, his high school graduation, we watched him get more outgoing and self-confident. We all kind of raised him, so we all want him to be happy. Seokjin has to be the brave one, here.”

 

Namjoon nodded. “We’re all going to have be a little brave, though. Especially with a rival pack threatening our staked land on the island.”

 

Kiara frowned, pulling Namjoon a little closer.”Has Jungkook said anything about meeting his alleged brother?”

 

“I talked to him about it. He definitely wants to meet him, but…” Namjoon chuckled, “When I told him what we talked about, how if he really wanted to join another pack, we would support him. He cut me off and said, ‘No, I’ll stay with Bangtan.’ Not even a hesitation.”

 

“Sounds like someone else I know,” Kiara smirked, “He takes a lot after his pack leader in that way. He’s here in the pack because of you . Imagine if you’d let your family’s reputation as Nobles become more important that what was best for the pack.”

 

“I’d never forgive myself,” Namjoon sighed. “But in all honesty, it’s getting harder and harder to see what exactly the ‘best’ thing for Bangtan pack is. I’m glad Seokjin is back, to put it simply.  I know I’m the lead Alpha and all, but Seokjin has been one of those people I can always go to for a different perspective on things. Not to mention he knows how the Rising God clan works, and we could use whatever knowledge he has right now…” He sighed, shaking his head. “I still can’t believe they tried to insist that he could only meet with his brother if he agreed to join them, though. Something more complicated must be going on under the surface here. I wasn’t surprised when they tried to demand Seokjin’s location, but them coming after Jungkook seems strange, in the way they’re doing it, like they’re trying to cover up something or tie up a loose end.”

 

“It makes me worry about what sort of situation his brother must be in, how they must be treating him in the clan.”

 

“Well, you know I’d take him in in a heartbeat, but I haven’t even met him and we don’t know what sort of a wolf he is. He may end up being the last thing Jungkook needs influencing him right now.”


“Well, let’s talk to Seokjin about what he knows. He may even remember Jungkook’s brother, if he thinks back. It’s been a few years, but still...you never know.” She reached up and ran a hand through Namjoon’s hair, watching the way his eyes glazed over as he fell into contemplation. Her voice soft, she said, “You smell different now, that he’s back.”

 

“I do?”

 

“Yeah, and it’s not just Jungkook either -you can smell it through the house. I can smell the way we’ve all relaxed a little, since Seokjin’s back, especially you. I’m guessing it’s not just because he’s your older brother, but also the fact that now the pack is all home and together again. The threats from Rising Gods, the stuff with Jungkook’s brother, the pressure from your father… We’ll figure it out as a family, okay?”

 

Namjoon leaned in, pressing a kiss to the soft skin just below her eye as she traced her fingertips along his arm. “I wish we had less stressful circumstances for our first pup to come into the world to, though. I’m still hoping it’s all resolved before it’s time.”

 

She reached up and took hold of Namjoon’s wrists, leading them to her belly in time for Namjoon to feel the slightest flutter of a kick. She loved the way she could see Namjoon’s eyes light up whenever it came to their growing pup, and she watched his beaming smile stretch across his face for a few minutes. “They’re a healthy pup,” she said, “I can just tell. All lively and bored and wanting to meet their daddy.”

 

With a little happy sigh, Namjoon dropped to his knees in front of Kiara, his arms wrapping around her waist in a way that made her feel - although just for a moment - that she was slender and trim again, instead of bloated and heavy. He pressed a little kiss to her still-fluttering belly, letting his mouth linger there a little bit as Kiara ran her hands through his bangs, brushing them back away from his face. He closed his eyes, taking a moment to breathe before he looked down at her rotund belly and whispered, "Hello, baby girl. Or boy. To be honest, I don't care. Can you hear me in there?" Kiara giggled at the fascinated tone in Namjoon's voice, and his eyes flickered up at her in amusement. "Your mommy and I can't wait to meet you, baby. We're gonna have so much fun together, I promise. You're going to be spoiled by all your uncles, and be one of the most rotten pups anyone's ever heard of."

 

Kiara laughed, throwing her head back a little. After a long, quiet, contented moment, Kiara whispered, “I think you’re going to spoil the pup enough on your own. You’re such a softie.”

 

“Don’t tell the others that, I have to at least try to maintain a lead Alpha image,” he chuckled. He withdrew one hand from around her waist and trailed his thick thumb along her belly, pausing when the pup felt him there and kicked back petulantly, making Kiara’s heartbeat quicken with happiness. “It’s going to be a girl,” he said at long last.

 

Kiara arched an eyebrow. “Oh? And how do you know that?”

 

Namjoon smirked. “Call it an Alpha’s intuition.”

 

She laughed, “Okay, then. If your Alpha intuition says so, I’m not going to doubt it. But we’d better keep this secret intuition on the down-low, or in the unlikely case that you’re wrong, it’ll be awkward to explain to the others.”

 

Still brimming with confidence, Namjoon smiled up at her so softly it made her chest hurt. He dropped his cheek to her knee, studying her face with a gentle gleam to his eyes. “It’s going to be a girl, and I’ll have my princess and my queen.”

 

“All spoiled in our castle, Bangtan pack house,” she supplied.

 

“Wednesdays will be date night with princess, Fridays for the queen.”

 

“Let’s hope that since the queen has some seniority that her date nights last a little longer.”

 

“Oh, of course.”

 

Silence enveloped them of the most comfortable and contented kind, and she felt, rather than heard, Namjoon sigh in her lap. He stood up at long last, pressing another kiss to her forehead. “I’ve got to go to meet Jackson and the others about some of the contract forms for the island, he’s got a friend who does legal work. When I get back, you’re going to be resting, right?”

 

“Of course,” Kiara changed her voice for a dramatic quote, “The same thing I do every day, Pinky: try and take over the world!” She laughed, “Or just the usual resting and nesting.” He smiled and kissed her cheek again. She gave a fake, dramatic pout of her painted red lips, shoving at him a little in playfulness. “But don’t take too long, I’ll miss you.”

 

Namjoon tilted his head to the side, looking endearing for someone she had seen at his fiercest, at his most aggressive. “Are you bothered by the fact that I have been meeting with Jackson lately? You haven’t said anything, but I wanted to make sure.”

 

“Well…” Kiara rolled her eyes, “I’m not happy that you’re hanging out with your ex, in all honesty. But I trust you. Besides, have you seen the way he looks at his Beta? Mark is his name, right? They seem suited for each other. Now go, so you can get back sooner.”

 

Namjoon touched his hand briefly to her swollen belly, smiling as he kissed her goodbye, leaving her to finish the laundry with one last little wave. Kiara laughed, rolling up the last pair of black socks and setting them down on the bed, letting her hand linger awhile on top of the folded piles, breathing in the thick, reassuring Scent of Namjoon’s smoky Alpha smell and her own Omega one filling the room, uninterrupted by the other pack members out of respect for her instinctive nesting needs. The room was now a safe haven away from the others, keeping her calm in the midst of the stress of the oncoming birth. Namjoon, however, had little refuge from the oncoming storm. In the time that Seokjin had been gone, the weight on Namjoon’s shoulders had been almost tangibly visible to Kiara. Their father was pressing in harshly with questions Namjoon didn’t have the answer to, shouldn’t have had to answer to, but Kiara was helpless to convince him not to concern himself about it - that was just how Namjoon was, quite self-assured but still so sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of those he valued, always seeking improvement and therefore opening himself up to a plethora of criticism from all directions that he often took too much to heart, in her opinion. The gentlest lion of a man she had ever had the privilege to know.

 

~~~~~

 

Jungkook carried the little tray up the stairs like he was carrying glass, the bowl of pasta still steaming when he slipped back into Seokjin’s room. He halted in the doorway, staring in surprise at the bed as he found the Alpha was no longer anywhere to be seen. He couldn’t help the way his heart leapt up in his throat, until he heard the sound of the shower and felt his whole body relax. He set the tray down on the edge of the bed, going over to the bathroom door and silently opening it, peering in to see a heavily steamed up mirror and hear the quiet sounds of Seokjin humming. He paused in the doorway, thinking back to how he had finally gotten to see Seokjin fully exposed that morning. It would be a lie to say he didn’t want to see it again, and he had the feeling that Seokjin wouldn’t ever directly invite him, but wasn’t leaving the door unlocked invitation enough for one’s Omega?

 

 

 

Smirking devilishly, Jungkook slipped into the bathroom, locking the door after himself. At the tiny click of the lock, he heard Seokjin’s humming suddenly stop, could smell his attention perk up. After a moment, Seokjin’s face peered around the corner, water dripping into his eyes and his hair stuck flatly to the sides of his face. He looked confused to see Jungkook there, much less with his shirt halfway off.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

In response, the Omega dropped his sweatpants to the floor, wadding up his clothing and setting it next to the sink, stepping up to the shower. Seokjin stepped back, surprised and looking almost concerned. Yup, it’s just as beautiful as it was this morning, goddamn it. Jungkook deliberately kept his expression blank, as though the fact that they were naked together again for the second time ever wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t want it to be a big deal anymore.

 

“W-what are you doing?” he hissed.

 

“I have to go to class in a couple hours,” Jungkook explained breezily, stepping between Seokjin and the shower head and effectively blocking the flow of water so he could wet himself down. “I wanna go smelling of you.”

 

“I figure you already do, after this morning,” Seokjin rolled his eyes. “So I guess this means you don’t care if the other pack members notice you’re in here?”

 

“Why would I?” Jungkook shrugged, washing his hair. “You’re gonna be my Mate, after all.”

 

At that, Seokjin’s grip on the body wash tightened, and he looked a little tense. Jungkook arched an eyebrow, tilting his head to the side before turning around and rinsing his hair. There was a quiet moment, but when he moved out of the water stream, he was immediately enveloped in an embrace from a warm, slippery body from behind. Jungkook froze, taking in for a moment the fact that suddenly, Seokjin was embracing him, his head tucked against the back of Jungkook’s neck.

 

“Thank you…” Seokjin said quietly, so quietly in fact, that he could barely hear it over the rushing sound of water. “For waiting. For this morning. For...for choosing me.”

 

After a moment, Jungkook let out a little chuckle, grinning broadly and looking over his shoulder at the Alpha. There was, of course, a heavy smell of fresh, clean water and cherry blossom shampoo in the air, but it was nothing compared to the intimate, heady smell of Seokjin’s Alpha Scent. “It’s nice to see you being a little needy and open for once,” Jungkook teased. “If you had kept being stubborn, I might have gone to find someone else, after all.”

 

“Oh?” Seokjin squeezed Jungkook’s waist in response, as if staking a silent little claim, pulling Jungkook’s presence a little closer. Jungkook’s heart rate escalated as he felt Seokjin’s bare chest pressed up against his shoulder. It was strange and wonderful to be near him, intimately but not sexually; at least for the moment, anyways.

 

“Yeah, I get a lot of offers, and I always got the feeling you’d be the jealous type.”

 

“Mm, I dunno, I’m pretty easy-going, actually,” Seokjin mused. To that, Jungkook let out a loud laugh, one that he was sure anyone outside the bathroom door could have heard.

 

“As if. You’re very jealous when it comes to me. You may not be noisy about it like Hoseok is, but it’s still there.”

 

“Oh? How so?” Seokjin tucked his chin over Jungkook’s shoulder, and Jungkook was pretty sure his skin felt hotter than the warm water that cascaded over them.

 

“For starters, you Claimed me , like two days after we met,” Jungkook pointed out, smirking as he craned his neck, delighted to see the way Seokjin stiffened and paled.

 

Seokjin mumbled and fussed, letting go of Jungkook and moving across the small space of the shower in search of his face wash. “Okay, so maybe you have a point there. But that was me thinking a lot about the long term, you know? I didn’t know how you were gonna feel about me - if anything at all - and the Bonding felt really powerful at the time. I at least wanted a little bit of a chance.  Maybe one could claim temporary insanity on my behalf?”

 

“Bonding doesn’t make decisions for us, though,” Jungkook poked Seokjin in the side, “And I bet I could make you jealous over me now. It would be easy: because you’re the jealous type.”

 

“Oh, really?” Seokjin chuckled. “I guess we’ll see, then. But I think you’re the jealous one, here. With your cute little hyung complex and your need to please.”

 

“We’ll address that later,” Jungkook smirked, taking advantage of the moment to stare at Seokjin openly as the Alpha stepped out of the shower and reached for his towel. “When we have time to discuss things at length.”

 

“Well, based on this morning, I feel like I should stay on my toes,” Seokjin rolled his eyes.

 

“That was a tutorial round,” Jungkook promised, “I’m gonna get better at it.” Seokjin was half-dried off, but Jungkook came up behind him just as he was pulling his T-shirt on and hugged him as he had just done, leaning his nose in to Scent the Alpha. Seokjin gave a sharp inhale of surprise.

 

“Sorry, I’m...I’m not used to that,” Seokjin chuckled, turning around and looking at the Omega. He seemed caught by something in Jungkook’s face, his expression cautious and uncertain.

 

“You can Scent me back,” Jungkook whispered, “I want you to.”

 

Slowly, Seokjin leaned in, giving a gentle Scenting that almost tickled in its softness. Jungkook giggled, tugging roughly at Seokjin T-shirt until the Alpha Scented him again, this time with more self-assurance, a little more self-indulgence. The way he rubbed his own Scent into Jungkook always made his chest constrict, his stomach fill with butterflies, and he let his eyes roll back with the lovely feeling, eager to make it a commonplace occurrence that would still drive his body wild even years from now.

 

“Much better,” Jungkook hummed, his breath catching when Seokjin leaned in, mouthing at the Scent and suckling at the skin around it, while his knee simultaneously brushed up against Jungkook’s exposed front.

 

“Much better,” Seokjin echoed. They moved there for a moment, enjoying the sensation, before Seokjin pulled away and tossed Jungkook’s clothes at him. Jungkook started pulling on his pants, feeling the distant throb of need starting to thicken in his groin. Tonight, okay? Just wait until tonight.

 

“I brought you food. Pasta. Starchy foods are supposed to help boost your energy levels.”

 

Seokjin laughed, “Since when did you become a nutritionist?”

 

“Since I decided that I wanted to be your Omega, so you’re gonna have to stay in top physical condition to take care of me properly,” Jungkook said with a casual air, wanting to laugh aloud at the way Seokjin stared at him, dumbfounded. “You going to drive me to class today?”

 

“Uh, yeah, sure…” Seokjin followed Jungkook into the bedroom.

 

“So, if I’m right, can I choose what we try next?” Jungkook challenged, smiling as Seokjin sat on the edge of the bed, cradling the now-cooled pasta.

 

“Right about what?”

 

“That you’ll get jealous of me before I get jealous of you.”

 

Seokjin rolled his eyes, “You’re really not going to let this go, are you?”

Not if it means I get to lay the BDSM on the table, and soon.

 

“Nope,” was all he said, reaching in and pinching one of the noodles between his fingers, eating it before Seokjin could protest. “Is it a deal?”

 

Laughingly, Seokjin shook his head, “Sure I guess. I see no reason why not.” He was probably imagining that Jungkook, still innocent in everyone’s eyes, would just request a different position or for Seokjin to let him suck him off again like that morning. Jungkook was banking on that wrongly assumed naivety, because he was looking forward to surprising Seokjin with how similar their own interests were.

 

“Great! I leave for class in an hour and a half.” He curled up against Seokjin’s shoulder, inhaling the smell of soap and cherry blossoms, and sighed in contentment. He couldn’t wait for tonight - history class never looked so boring, bleak and irksome as it did in that very moment.

Chapter Text

 

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.”
— Roy Croft.

 


 

Jungkook sat underneath the dining room table, shoving his homework into his backpack now that there was only a few minutes left to go before they had to leave for class. To Jungkook’s delight, Seokjin didn’t have any classes that day, due to one of his professors attenting a conference about some new disease, sending him out of town. That meant that he didn’t have to feel bad when he suggested the two of them spend the whole day on campus together - especially since it would save on gas, since Seokjin had to drive him there anyways, right?

 

Laughter erupted from upstairs, and Jungkook glanced up just as Seokjin and Jimin entered the kitchen, Jimin caught in a fit of giggles so hard that he was leaning heavily against the elder Alpha, gripping his arm in a familiar way that made Jungkook pause.

 

It wasn’t as if he suspected Seokjin was suddenly going to turn around and start seeing Jimin the way he saw Jungkook, the Omega knew that - and he had overheard Jimin and Taehyung’s confession with his own ears. But something about the way they stood so close, the easy way they stood next to each other, as if Jimin hadn’t had so many misgivings and worries about the new Alpha, caused Jungkook to remember that Seokjin had once had an ‘Almost Mate’ before. Another Alpha, too. And Jimin was an Alpha, while Jungkook was not. What ifs shot through his mind as his body felt heated, wanting to speak up and finding his voice was gone. As if able to sense his thoughts, Seokjin glanced over and met eyes with Jungkook, his expression confused as though he had heard something strange. Jungkook instinctively looked away, focusing on his backpack.

 

“I understand, it’s not as simple as it sounds, right?” Seokjin said, and Jungkook could hear the smile in his voice. “But of course I’ll go with you. Maybe tonight, after dinner?”

Jungkook blinked in surprise, suddenly poking his head out from under the table. “Wait, go where tonight?”

 

Seokjin smirked, snaking an arm around Jimin’s shoulders. “Jiminie and I are gonna go do some shopping together. Just a little Alpha to Alpha friendship building time, that’s all.” He tilted his head to the side, simply oozing with amusement. “Why?”

 

“I have plans with you tonight already,” Jungkook mumbled, unable to bite back the disappointment laced throughout his words. He knew it was a sign of endearment, of course, but hearing Seokjin call him Jiminie was too cute. It made him kind of irritated. He wanted a cute nickname, too. And he was going to tell Seokjin about the ropes that night after dinner.

He couldn’t skip out on it, after Jungkook had gotten so worked up for it!

 

“Aw, Jungkook, are you jealous?” Seokjin teased.

 

Shit, no. Don’t be jealous. You’ll lose the game. On a normal day, Jungkook didn’t like to lose anything. From the last piece of bread to Super Smash Bros to game on a hunt, it didn’t matter, he wanted to fight to the end. But the added element of what he was going to ‘win’ this time made things much, much more compelling. He had to convince Seokjin he wasn’t jealous, and fast.

 

“No,” Jungkook frowned, as though insulted. “But I still have plans, and I made them first. So...why don’t you bring Jimin with us when we go to class? You have to wait an hour for my history class to finish anyways, you two can go shopping then, and then it won’t disrupt our plans.”

 

He had had to fight not to put special emphasis on the our part of those plans. He was not going to be jealous, not this easily. Not when he knew that once he got to campus, Seokjin was not going to be expecting the volley of threats. He just had to make it until then.

 

Seokjin - and Jimin as well - looked clearly surprised at the suggestion, and Jimin even shot Seokjin a questioning look, as though he was afraid he’d overstepped some boundary.

 

“Um, sure. That sounds like a good idea, actually.”

 

“I’ll go get ready, then…?” Jimin said slowly, seeming skeptical. He went upstairs, and Seokjin continued watching Jungkook as the Omega zipped up his backpack and crawled out from under the table.

 

“What?” Jungkook asked defensively, seeing the way Seokjin looked at him, arms crossed over his chest.

 

“Oh, nothing,” Seokjin supplied breezily, moving to grab the keys. “You’re just acting kind of strange, that’s all.”

 

When they got to the car, Jungkook crawled into the back of the truck, knowing that they would both expect him to sit in the front, closer to Seokjin. Jimin halted outside the passenger door, looking like a man caught between a rock and a hard place, his dark baseball cap making him look younger and smaller than he actually was. Jungkook rolled the window down a little, barely looking at Jimin as he explained, “You’re older, you have seniority to sit in the front.”

 

Jimin worked his jaw a little, looking over at Seokjin, who was already in the driver’s seat arching an eyebrow at Jungkook in the rearview mirror. He offered Jimin a shrug, and the Alpha finally clambered in.

 

I’m not going to be jealous, I’m not going to be jealous. Jungkook repeated the mantra as he stared out the window, his chin resting in his palm, elbow propped up against the door. He watched the neighborhood flicker past, the warm sound of Jimin and Seokjin’s quiet discussion filling the silence. They were talking mostly about Taehyung, but also about menial things like chore duties around the house, how Jimin’s job as a cubicle guy in a call center was going, and how the weather seemed to be changing. Jungkook chanced a quick glance over at Jimin, and found him turned to look at Seokjin, mid-sentence with his eyes sparkling in amusement. Jungkook stared at the angular jawline, Jimin’s soft hair and gentle expression that seemed to never fail at calming those near him. The veins in his neck shifted as he got into the short story he was telling Seokjin, reaching a climax and gesticulating wildly for emphasis.

 

Jimin was just too pretty an Alpha. Hadn’t Jae been a pretty Alpha, too? He was much manlier than Jimin, in build and in aura, but maybe Seokjin’s type had changed.

 

Stop it. Don’t be jealous, you little shit, he berated himself, looking back out the window. The breakfast from that morning wasn’t settling well in his stomach.

 

Jungkook slipped out of the truck the moment they pulled up in front of the building for general education courses, and had to force himself not to rush off to class right away, without looking back at the other two. Seokjin hadn’t gotten out of the truck, one arm dangling out the window as he smiled at the Omega.

 

“I’ll be back before your class lets out, okay? Then maybe we can go find somewhere to hang out?”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook tried to sound cheery, smiling as he waved at Seokjin, deliberately waving at Jimin a little longer than strictly necessary, before he turned to go to his history class. The truck revved up and pulled away, and Jungkook sighed. It was going to be a long class.

 

Jungkook had never been especially interested in history anyways, but after being in this class, he felt significantly less motivated. For one thing, he had always been a bit of a quiet, odd-man-out, and most of the students in the class seemed to already know each other and had formed their sub-units. They hadn’t treated him rudely , but they had treated him weird at times, and Jungkook had been at a loss to understand it.

 

He sat down at his desk, dropping his backpack to the ground and plugging his earbuds in, since there was still about five or ten minutes before class. Usually, he turned his music on immediately, keeping the volume up as he doodled drawings into his notebook, but today he got a little distracted , since once he unlocked his phone he found his photo album still open, the thumbnails of the pictures he had taken of Seokjin that morning while he was sleeping were glaring up at him like a magnificent crime.

 

“Look, he’s here already, just go talk to him!” came a female voice. There was a hiss as someone tried to shush her, and in an obnoxious sort of voice she retorted, “You know he can’t hear us anyways, he’s probably blasting some melancholic music that you both like.”

 

“Rach… just stop trying to force it. I already told you, Jungkook is probably already dating someone by now…”

 

Suddenly Jungkook perked up to attention, forcing himself to continue doodling the lines on the edges of his paper even as he was tempted to look up and see who was talking. The two moved to sit somewhere just behind him, though, and he couldn’t turn around without them realizing he could hear them.

 

“But Jared this whole damn class is rooting for you two to get together. Ever since you mentioned having a crush on him, even the Alphas are rooting for you.”

 

Jungkook was confused. Jared was the pretty-boy of the class, a Beta with dark, slightly wavy hair and broad lips. He had one of those faces that looked like he was modeling everything he wore - and he always came into class looking like he had had a personal assistant pick out his outfit. He remembered Jared offering to share notes with him once or twice, with a small gaggle in tow, and Jungkook had politely said he was fine. That was about all the interaction he could remember them having. But hearing the whole class knew about a crush he had on Jungkook? That would explain the gaggle. Jungkook had just assumed Jared was that popular.

 

He was confused, not because he had an admirer, really - ever since he’d Presented as Omega, a lot of people suddenly claimed to be an admirer - but because Jared hadn’t said anything, at least not to his knowledge, to even hint at feelings.

 

“He barely notices me,” Jared said quietly.

 

Rachael, however, was already sighing dramatically, “Imagine the pups you two would make,” she let out a squeal. “Two beautiful people together, it seems so perfect .”

 

It seemed like Jared didn’t have anything to add to that, probably uncomfortable with the conversation in general. More people filed into the room, and throughout the entirety of class Jungkook was rethinking his position within it. He was glad when it was over, and he stood up quickly to leave, trying not to notice the pointed looks and the quick whispers from behind him. He walked to the door with speed but without making it look too obvious he was trying to hightail it out of there, and he almost made it, pushing the front doors open even as he felt a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Hey, Jungkook! Do you have a sec?”

 

He knew before he heard the voice, before he turned around, that Jared would be there, looking extra soft with gold-rimmed round glasses that didn’t even have lenses in them, and he was nibbling at his lip in concern.

 

Jungkook saw five or six students from their class - mostly girls, he noted - hovering in the hallway, not doing a very good job of looking preoccupied.

 

He sighed a little, “Um, sure. What’s up?”

 

~~~~~

 

Seokjin was sitting in the parking lot in his truck, flipping through the photos Jungkook had sent him during his time away, reminiscing over them and trying to pick a good spot on campus to go and ‘recreate’ some of the photos. He figured Jungkook would have fun with that, once he got out of class. He happened to glance up as a small crowd of students shuffled their way out of the building, a good sign that class had let out, and he smiled when he saw Jungkook stepping out into the sunshine, his thumbs tucked underneath the straps of his backpack. Then, some guy appeared behind him, grabbing Jungkook’s shoulder and making him stop. Seokjin sat forward in his seat, brow furrowing as he squinted, trying to see if he recognized the kid. He didn’t, but Seokjin did think he was looking at Jungkook like he had just met his idol. After a few minutes of watching them talk, the boy took a step closer to Jungkook, making the Omega take a short step back and shrug. The boy’s face crumpled in a strange expression, looking almost irritated from this distance. Without further ado, Seokjin slipped out of the truck, unable to resist slamming the door a little as he made his way over.

 

“Jungkook!” Seokjin called out, smiling as broadly as he could and waving, deliberately keeping his gaze on Jungkook alone until he was near enough for the other boy to meet his eyes. When their gazes finally did meet, he could see the shy guilt already creeping across the boy’s face, but he still found his own expression hardening with warning. He moved to stand close to Jungkook, until he could catch the faintest whiff of his Omega Scent. “You ready to go? Who is this?”

 

“This is Jared, we have history together,” Jungkook said, looking up at Seokjin’s face for a moment, as though realizing something. A little smile came to his lips suddenly. “Jared, this is Seokjin.”

 

Just Seokjin, huh? What happened to being so flippant and nonchalant because ‘You’re going to be my Mate anyway’?

 

Jared offered Seokjin a little smile, nodding in acknowledgement. But without so much as a word, he suddenly seemed to pale and flush at the same time, turning to Jungkook and quietly murmuring, “I guess I’ll see you about it later, then?”

 

“Yeah, of course!’ Jungkook said with a smile, suddenly looking more chipper than he had a moment ago. Jared shot another look at the Alpha, before ducking back into the building. Seokjin arched an eyebrow at Jungkook’s smirk.

 

“Well, let’s go?”

 

Seokjin joined Jungkook as the Omega turned to walk toward the library, unable to keep the trace of confusion off his face. Wait, no. He’s probably hoping I’ll get jealous, the punk. Just ignore it.

 

And that was exactly what he planned to do. Just forget about jealousy and enjoy a day out with Jungkook, just the two of them.

 

They went to the bridge and took pictures together, they sat and talked in the library with coffees, they stood and watched a busker for almost 20 minutes, sat and studied together in one of the quiet side rooms for a while, even sat out on the grass and just laid out, half-dozing in the warm afternoon sun. It was the kind of afternoon that sounded perfect.

 

But Seokjin hadn’t expected the followers .

 

That was the only thing he could think to call them. They were everywhere. Standing in line at the coffee shop, an Alpha turned around and suddenly noticed Jungkook, eyes widening as he moved in.

 

“Jungkook! I haven’t seen you in a couple of days!”

 

Then he offered to buy his coffee for him, to sit with him. Seokjin stood awkwardly just behind him, knowing there was no way the smaller Alpha could miss the wall that was his notably wide frame, nor the look of judgment Seokjin was sending his way.

 

While sitting out on the grass, a gruff-voiced thick-armed hairy sort of man strode over and leaned against their chosen shade-tree for half the time they were there, obligating Jungkook to make half-hearted attempts at small talk with him. All the while the man was openly ogling the soft-looking Omega as he lay on his side, looking out across to the theatre building and smiling softly as they discussed a term paper the burly Alpha had coming up.

 

Seokjin leaned over while they were studying in the library, intending to feign asking a question and secretly sniff a little at the boy’s Scent, and maybe - just maybe, if he felt a little empowered - steal a quick kiss on the boy’s cheek, feeling warmth in his chest just at the sensation of sitting near him and talking quietly, so easily, as if they’d been doing it forever. But just as Seokjin turned to Jungkook, another Alpha came up - this time a woman, with bleach blond hair and a tight crop top that seemed to be doing its damndest to keep her sizable bust under containment.

 

She greeted Jungkook for all of two seconds, ignoring Seokjin completely before she sat down next to him, conspicuously leaning forward to rest her chin in her palm, resting her breasts up on the table and letting them spill out in a soft-looking mound. She smirked at Jungkook, tilting her head to the side as she obviously flirted with him as best as she could when she no longer shared any classes with him.

 

“You should come out with us sometime,” she told him bluntly, “The parties my roommate throws are kind of wild, and the coverage fee is really cheap.”

 

Seokjin frowned, looking over at Jungkook and noting that he was stealing quick glances down at the voluptuous breasts literally laid out for display in front of him. His jaw dropped a little at Jungkook’s transfixed expression, the Omega’s eyes wide like saucers as the Alpha twisted her fingers in her hair.

 

“Jungkoooook,” she singsonged to him, reaching out and actually running a hand through his hair. The gesture was somehow motherly and yet not at all motherly, an obvious excuse to touch him through the thin guise of fixing his bangs. She lowered her voice, smirking at him, “When are you gonna take me up on that dinner sometime? I’m not even a scout or anything, I just wanna take you out sometime. You’re so cute.”

 

Seokjin sat back in his seat, knowing he shouldn’t be surprised but feeling dumbfounded by the boldness just the same. He turned to Jungkook, hoping for the ‘I’m already taken’ clarification.

 

“Sorry, I’ve been really busy with school and patrol lately,” Jungkook said easily, like it was an excuse he had given a hundred times before.  “I haven’t had time for that sort of thing.”

 

At the transparent evasive tactic, Seokjin’s mouth actually dropped open in shock. He was sitting right there and not only was Jungkook not going to explain that the man he had called ‘His Alpha’ not too long ago was with him, but the two of them continued to ignore his entire existence, too.

 

The girl pouted at his response, tucking her hair behind her ear and leaning forward a bit more, her Alpha Scent of some kind of flower wafting over them like a cloud of perfume. “Come on, just one date. I’m paying for everything. We can go see a movie and eat out some place nice.”

 

Seokjin narrowed his eyes at the girl’s blatancy, his expression hardening.

 

“Sorry, but the answer is no,” Jungkook said, no longer ogling her breasts, at least, but now casually flipping through his history textbook. “And I actually really should study right now.”

 

The girl sighed, the intensity of her Alpha Scent thinning as she saw she wasn’t going to get anywhere with her current tactics. “I guess I’ll see you around then.” With no real excuse for it, she reached out and touched his shoulder, as if trying to call his attention back to her. When it didn’t work, she frowned and strode away. Seokjin sat and watched Jungkook for a long minute, before the Omega happened to glance up.

 

“What?” he asked, as though innocent.

 

What ?” Seokjin snapped back, “Could you have been more obvious looking at her chest?”

 

Jungkook tilted his head to the side, a little devilish smirk coming to his lips. “Well, they were pretty amazing. I mean did you see …” He raised his hands in a rounded gesture, moving to demonstrate, when Seokjin reached out and promptly slapped his hands back down. Jungkook chuckled. “I told you I had other offers. Did you not believe me?”

 

Seokjin didn’t answer, just sitting back in his chair and frowning. Jungkook leaned forward, now grinning from ear to ear.

 

“Seokjin? Are you….jealous?” Jungkook asked, and he could already see the full-fledged victorious laughter Jungkook was barely containing.

 

“No,” he deliberately didn’t snap the words, knowing it would just sound like a confirmation of the accusation. “It just seemed rude for you to stare like that.”

 

Jungkook smiled, shaking his head a  little as he returned to his book. “I guess, if you say so.”

 

Seokjin frowned. They spent the rest of the hour in silence.

 

Before heading home, they decided to go to the university cafeteria, taking advantage of their single-priced buffet style freedom, a policy that always made Seokjin wonder how it didn’t always put them in the negatives, given that university students were particularly talented at tucking away four or five plates at a time, if given no limit. He and Jungkook were already on their second round, and Seokjin was debating with him about the merits of different fruits from the dessert bar, holding them out on his fork for Jungkook to try. Jungkook leaned forward in his seat, taking the piece of pineapple into his mouth sans hands, and Seokjin smiled a little at the casual way he’d done it, going back to his soup as Jungkook browsed his phone.

 

“Oh, Jungkookie,” Seokjin said, making the Omega look up, “For tonight, I was wondering if--”

 

“Jeong Jungkook!” interrupted a voice, and Seokjin barely bit back an audible groan as another Alpha came over to their table. This time it was an extremely tall young man with lightly tanned skin, faded sky blue hair and one of those award winning smiles that suggested he always got what he wanted. Seokjin had never felt so much like punching someone as in that moment when the man’s Alpha Scent thickened around them, and Seokjin felt his own Scent rising, heat developing at the back of his neck as he glared down into his soup bowl. The new Alpha didn’t hesitate before slipping his arm around Jungkook’s shoulder possessively, dimples developing at the edges of his smile. “What are you up to tonight?”

 

“The usual,” Jungkook replied placidly, picking chunks off of his jalapeno bread to nibble on and not even glancing in Seokjin’s direction. The soup already in Seokjin’s stomach felt like it had just been overwhelmed and turned to acid, dark and bitter in the pit of his belly. “You?”

 

“I’m taking a cute Omega out and showing him how well a good Alpha can take care of him,” the man said with a breezy sort of air. Seokjin narrowed his eyes, wondering if the implication was what it sounded like.

 

“Oh?” Jungkook looked disinterested as he stirred his pasta.

 

The man seemed to wait a moment, with his arms still around Jungkook, expecting to be prompted for more information. When he wasn’t, he continued, “And that cute Omega is called Jungkook.”

 

“What a coincidence, I don’t come across many people with the same name as me,” Jungkook retorted without blinking an eye. Okay, so that made Seokjin smile a little.

 

“Jungkook,” the Alpha said, leaning his face in dangerously close to Jungkook’s, an oppressiveness to the air as he smiled at the Omega. Seokjin found himself bristling more and more with each inch that the Alpha neared. “Go out with me tonight.”

 

“I already told you no, Louis,” Jungkook sighed. “I’m not that kind of Omega.”

 

“But you see, you might be,” Louis offered with a little shrug, leaning in so far his nose nuzzled up lightly against Jungkook’s cheek. “You’re known for playing hard to get, but I think…you just want a competent Alpha to come along and take care of you. Someone strong enough to handle you.” Louis tilted his head, taking a quick sniff at Jungkook’s neck. Seokjin was clenching his spoon so tightly, his hand ached. “Look at this, you’ve got Alpha Scent on you already, but it’s so weak, it’s barely even there .”

 

“Louis, back off,” Jungkook was starting to sound exasperated, but then he jumped nearly a foot out of his seat when Seokjin stood and slammed both his palms down on the table, jostling their dishes and spilling some of their sodas out onto the surface. Both Jungkook and Louis stared up at Seokjin, who was now so physically heated he couldn’t see straight, his eyes flashing red as he snarled loudly.

 

“What,” Seokjin said slowly, knowing by the way his instincts and senses were on edge that people were looking at them, able to smell his aggressive Alpha Scent suddenly fuming throughout their section of the cafeteria, a bitter edge to his normally gentler Scent of soap. “The fuck do you think you’re doing?”

 

Louis stared agape for a moment, then shut his mouth, straightening up a little but keeping his hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. “I’m making him an offer, sub-Alpha . What are you going to do about it? Do you really think you’re gonna deter other Alphas away with that pitiful Scenting?”

 

Seokjin clenched his fists at his side, already feeling in his bones, like a ghost muscular movement, the punch that he could swing at the man’s pretty-boy face. His shoulders were twitching in anticipation of the movement. It was so close . “He shouldn’t have to deter anyone in the first place, asshole. He said to back off so back off .”

 

Louis frowned, dropping his hand from Jungkook’s shoulder. There was a moment between them when Seokjin could almost tangibly feel their aggressive Scents competing, tinged with the bitter aftertaste of a territorial challenge. The room seemed to darken, even though they were sitting right next to a sunny picture window, and he saw Jungkook standing up in concern out of the corner of his eye. The Scent of fear was notably mingled into the challenging Alpha’s Scent, and Seokjin could see the firmness in the man’s eyes flicker into concern. He knew he’d be no match for Seokjin.

 

“If you’re not gonna protect him properly, someone else is gonna come in more willing to do the job. I don’t make the rules, I’m just saying.” Louis turned to Jungkook, “I’ll see you around.” It was more of a demand or a rough statement than a goodbye, and Seokjin audibly growled as the man walked past him to leave. Seokjin turned and watched him go, not blinking or loosening the tension in his shoulders. After a moment, he sensed Jungkook stepping up to him.

 

“Seokjin?” Jungkook said gently. He turned back to see Jungkook watching him with curious eyes. He gave the smallest of smiles, as though uncertain. “I guess, uh, this means you got--”

 

YOU,” Seokjin growled again, pointing an accusing finger right in Jungkook’s surprised face. “ Don’t talk . Grab your stuff. We’re going home.”

 

~~~~~

 

Jungkook sat in the passenger seat of the truck, staring worriedly over at Seokjin as he drove. Ever since Louis had first walked up to their table, a heavy Alpha Scent had been emanating from the elder man like thick smoke, almost choking Jungkook with his sensitive nose. Seokjin’s face had also gotten this deliberate hardness to it, as though his face down to the very molecules had tensed and pulled taut. He ran one large hand through his hair as Jungkook watched, revealing dark eyebrows crinkled harshly together like an intricate suggestion. The red in his eyes had, in that moment of actual challenge to Louis, gone from a thick ring to changing his eye color completely, until he looked nearly demonic. Looking directly into his face had caused goosebumps to rise on Jungkook’s arms, his gaze caught for a long moment by the deep glistening red with its intricacies, like his eyes contained caverns and ravines, gleaming brightly and swirling in accusation.

 

In a way, he was beautiful like this.

 

In a way, he was terrifying.

 

They didn’t speak for the entire drive home, and when they got to the house, Jungkook hovered behind him like a pup following its owner while Seokjin stormed his way up the stairs without looking back. Namjoon and Yoongi were seated at the kitchen table, talking about something they were reading between them, and looked up in concern, probably sensing Seokjin’s lingering fury. They glanced over at Jungkook in question, who merely ducked his head in apology before rushing up the stairs after Seokjin.

 

He reached the top of the landing just in time to see Seokjin slamming the door to his room shut, and Jungkook tentatively reached out to test the handle, breathing a sigh of relief that it hadn’t been locked.

 

He was a little surprised to find Seokjin standing just inside the room, his broad back turned toward the doorway, and Jungkook could tell that he had his arms crossed as he faced the wall. Quietly, Jungkook closed the door after himself.

 

“Seokjin…?” Jungkook said quietly, stepping closer but not too close.

 

There was a long moment of baited silence, and then Seokjin’s shoulders rose, accompanied by the sound of him taking in what Jungkook prayed was a calming breath before he turned to face the Omega.

 

“You really just let them treat you like that?” Seokjin’s voice was surprisingly calm and quiet, but his tone was low in such a way that Jungkook could almost hear the bubbling anger as it boiled just barely beneath the surface, the red in his eyes still a warning as clear as the protective Alpha Scent. Jungkook blinked.

 

“Seokjin, that’s...that’s how most Alphas are.” He gave a little shrug. “You know that. I used to get angry about it a lot, but...it’s safer for me to deflect most of the time.”

 

Seokjin frowned, apparently not liking the answer. Jungkook knew that Seokjin knew. It wasn’t like anyone hid the fact that Omegas were viewed as the ones to be protected, and Alphas were the protectors. What Louis had said was practically word-for-word from most sex education courses, after all. The world of Bangtan pack, small and strange, was an anomaly - the outside world wasn’t about to suddenly turn over for their sakes.

 

“I don’t like it. I don’t like that you can’t even have a normal day.”

 

Jungkook let out a little exhale that was somewhere in the realms of a sigh and a chuckle, a little puff of air that revealed how endearing he found it that that was Seokjin’s main concern, after all the teasing he’d gone through that day. He made it so hard not to pull him closer and tease him some more, in all honesty. Jungkook stepped forward, smiling softly up at him.

 

“You know me,” Jungkook smiled, “After being with Namjoon and Yoongi so long, there’s no way I’d roll over for just any Alpha that crosses my path and smells halfway good.” Seokjin winced at the last part, as though hearing Jungkook even suggest another Alpha’s Scent could be appealing to him was physically painful. “But even if I do my best to prove that I’m strong and capable as an Omega, they still won’t always take me seriously.”

 

Seokjin sighed. Jungkook wondered if this was something Seokjin had had a blind spot for, being an Alpha. His only other relationship had been with an Alpha as well, so it wasn’t as if it was something he’d had to deal with before. Jungkook smiled, seeing Seokjin’s blind fury starting to wind down. He stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Seokjin’s broad shoulders, pushing his nose up underneath the soft chin and making a pleased little humming noise. After a moment’s hesitation, he felt Seokjin sigh again, heavily this time as he wrapped his arms around Jungkook.

 

“Okay, but why didn’t you tell any one of them that your Alpha was literally sitting right next to you all day, though?” Seokjin queried after a moment, now no longer sounding furious but instead, agitated.

 

“Well...you know, ” Jungkook mumbled into Seokjin’s neck, “It might make things easier if you would Scent me properly, since everyone seems to think I smell like a Noble, and I’m an Unmated Omega to boot. I told you I wanted to go to class smelling like you, after all. So if you would just--”

 

Jungkook was cut off by the rough way Seokjin suddenly snatched him by the shoulders, twisting them around and pushing Jungkook down onto the mattress. Bouncing a little and staring up at Seokjin in surprise, he watched the Alpha crawl over him, eyes now encircled in red, as he straddled Jungkook’s thighs, leaning into Jungkook’s Scent gland. The usual pause, the normal hesitation, was utterly foregone as he wasted no time in heavily inhaling Jungkook’s Scent, pressing in deeply in that intimate way that made Jungkook’s spine tingle, and he arched his back a bit, twisted his head to give Seokjin more access. Jungkook gasped, his nerves shot on edge as Seokjin proceeded to run his hands up and down Jungkook’s body, pressing his fingers into his hair, brushing his wrists over Jungkook’s shoulders, leaning his hips onto Jungkook’s. He would definitely have more than a weak remembrance of Seokjin’s Scent - this Scenting would stay with him for days.

 

“Oh--” Jungkook managed to wheeze, wrapping his hands around the back of Seokjin’s neck, to trail upwards and run his fingers through his soft, tangled hair. Seokjin continued Scenting him until Jungkook started to moan, lying there on the bed more than a little dizzied. Soft, hot lips pressed wetly to his collarbone, his jaw, his ear. When the sensation of a rough bite against his earlobe shot pain through him, Jungkook’s eyes shot back open and he jolted, still caged in by the Alpha as his crooked fingers yanked Jungkook’s shirt up, bunching it up under his underarms before thrusting his body downward, sending Seokjin’s exploring mouth to Jungkook’s chest. In times before, Seokjin had mostly kept his touches light and gentle, as though afraid to mark Jungkook or leave too many traces of his presence, but that seemed to be the opposite to his current goal, as he licked headily at Jungkook’s nipple, making Jungkook’s back arch up into him needily.


“Th-that…” Jungkook said breathily, “D-do that .”

 

Seokjin didn’t even glance up, tilting his head to the side and taking all of one of Jungkook’s nipples into his mouth, suckling at it so powerfully that Jungkook’s toes started to curl.

 

“Oh f-fuck…” The Omega was surprised by the harshness in his own voice, the realness of the phrase that had more of an edge to it than how the sensation had felt in his head, and thereby excited him more. When Seokjin started to bite there, too, he couldn’t help but frantically scrabble at Seokjin’s shoulders for purchase, his fingernails digging in as he tried to grip something solid. Seokjin’s hands, in reply, wrapped around Jungkook’s hips, holding him so firmly he was sure he’d have bruises later.

 

“Jin…”

 

“Mmm?” Seokjin didn’t seem like much of a talker, once he got in the mood, Jungkook decided.

 

“Don’t hold back,” he managed quietly. Seokjin paused, lifting his head, the movement alone making his gut clench, at the question in Seokjin’s eyes, at the Alpha neediness already glowing there in his gaze. “I...the things you want… I want them, too. So...don’t hold back.”

 

Seokjin stared at him for a long moment, as though giving himself time to process Jungkook’s words. His voice was surprisingly even and collected when he finally said, “Do you know all that that implies, Jungkook?”

 

Jungkook smiled, then laughed, placing his hands on Seokjin’s cheeks as he gazed at him fondly. “ Yes . I don’t want to wait for Mating. I want every Alpha or Beta, or Omega even, to smell you on me so they don’t even have to ask. You saw how annoying it was.”

 

At that, Seokjin gave a snarl of realization. “You did all that stuff today on purpose,” he stated. It wasn’t even a question, and Jungkook laughed again, pushing in Seokjin’s cheeks and laughing harder at the look of petulance on his squished face.

 

“Maybe,” was all he said. “What are you going to do about it? You’re not jealous , are you?”

 

“You little shit,” Seokjin growled, gripping harder at his hips. Jungkook smiled, closing his eyes a bit at the sensation, surprised that he really enjoyed feeling the power behind Seokjin’s fingertips. When he opened his eyes again, Seokjin’s face was mere inches from his own, staring down at Jungkook with a distant sort of awe in his expression, lips gently parted. Jungkook could see his gaze flicker from Jungkook’s eyes, to his chin, to his forehead and brows, and then to his lips. He tilted his chin up, silently beckoning the Alpha on, and he slowly lowered his head down to meet Jungkook’s lips in a soft kiss.

 

“Jin,” Jungkook whispered quietly, conspiratorially. “Lock the door.”

 

The door was locked within seconds, and Seokjin was standing at the foot of the bed, dropping his jeans to the floor before leaning over to yank Jungkook’s sweatpants away, then his shirt. For some reason, the ease with which he accomplished this made Jungkook want to laugh - or perhaps that was just the nervousness starting to bubble in his gut as Seokjin came back to encompass him, as if shielding Jungkook with his entire body and his whole being. They held gazes for what felt like ages, and Jungkook felt that Seokjin was waiting for a go-head, a signal that yes, Jungkook was definitely ready. But first he just needed to make sure he could breathe. After a second, Jungkook gave a nod, and Seokjin refreshed his previous ministrations, with all of the fervor of before but with a trace of something like gentleness, but closer to appreciation. He trailed kisses and traced his thumb along Jungkook’s torso, trying to find his most sensitive spots, and when he got to the rough spot in the front of Jungkook’s boxers, he patted it softly in such a comical way, like one would to a pet, that Jungkook did chuckle, and his burning nervousness eased up for a moment. Seokjin smiled, shifting down Jungkook’s body until he could press his thumb roughly into the skin of Jungkook’s thighs, lifting up a leg until Jungkook’s knee was bent. Seokjin morphed a kiss into a suckling that heightened until it stung, and still he kept going, leaning in to Jungkook’s thigh. The Omega could feel the edges of his teeth, and then suddenly he was biting at the skin there, marking it with a bruise as Jungkook’s heart shot up into his throat. All he could do was lie there on his back and pant as he watched Seokjin continue to mark him with bites.

 

Nine...ten...eleven...twelve…

 

“O kay ,” Jungkook gasped, intensely irritated. “Are you going to fuck me or are you going to just gnaw at my thighs all day?”

 

Seokjin laughed, slowly pulling Jungkook’s boxers off. “Well, we did have to leave in the middle of lunch…”

 

“What an asshole,” Jungkook sighed to the ceiling in exasperation. Then, he grunted as Seokjin suddenly bent both of Jungkook’s knees, pressing them to his chest.

 

“Look, you’re a turkey now.”

 

“Fucking shut up .” Jungkook groaned, but then he imagined what he must look like and he started to laugh despite himself, half moaning in complaint, “Nooooo…”

 

“I’ve always liked the thigh meat best anyways.”

 

“I’m gonna slap you if you don’t stop.”

 

“Turkookie?”

 

“Oh my god.”

 

Seokjin just laughed, and in a way, Jungkook was grateful that Seokjin wasn’t letting the atmosphere stay so strained and awkward. He could probably smell the nervousness on the Omega. Seokjin leaned forward, his chest pressing up against Jungkook’s calves as he craned his neck, kissing Jungkook again.

 

This time, when Jungkook pressed up, giving a little whimper and silently asking to deepen the kiss, Seokjin complied. Feeling the warmth and tasting Seokjin so intensely make his stomach clench and then tighten in the loveliest way. Jungkook gave a little hum of appreciation, closing his eyes to sink into the tickling sensation as Seokjin kissed him harder, more roughly and with more need. But all too soon, he was pulling away, and Jungkook’s heart stopped momentarily at the little trail of saliva that connected them for the briefest moment before Seokjin was sitting up on the bed again, lips looking swollen and eyes sparkling with anticipation.

 

“Hold your knees, like this,” Seokjin instructed gently, and Jungkook complied obediently, smiling softly and not realizing what Seokjin was planning next until Seokjin’s head ducked out of view and suddenly there was a burning hot wetness at his entrance, and Jungkook actually cried out from sheer surprise. Instinctively, he moved as if to sit up and drop his knees down, but Seokjin had already moved his hands to either of Jungkook’s pale cheeks, pulling them apart and pressing heavily down, effectively pinning him back as he continued to lick and tease the puckered skin there experimentally. Jungkook wasn’t sure how to react, wasn’t sure if he liked the way his body was suddenly flashing with an undeniable feverishness.

 

“W-why are you…?” Jungkook gasped, his very voice seeming to flutter up through his throat as if the butterflies in his stomach were dislodging his words. He tried to crane his head to see Seokjin around the bruised and teeth-marked thickness of his legs, but he could only spy the T-shirt clad shoulders. After a moment, Seokjin lifted his head, panting a little as he stared at Jungkook.

 

“Open your mouth,” he instructed. Jungkook complied. “Wider.” He dropped his jaw, confused. Seokjin took two of his fingers and pressed them inside Jungkook’s mouth,  before his head dived back down again, even though it was probably a difficult angle for Seokjin himself.

 

Left awkwardly with no instructions, Jungkook lay there for a moment, blinking confusedly at the salty bitter taste of Seokjin’s fingers pressed down against his tongue. Then, without warning, the fingers wriggled back and forth, callouses abrasive against the delicate inside of his mouth, and Jungkook’s stomach did another flip. Taking that as his cue, he began to suck at the fingertips, pleased when the hurried, impatient movements of the fingers slowed to a steady movement like breathing. Not wanting to accidentally bite down on the knuckles, Jungkook couldn’t properly swallow, and soon found drool starting to form at the corners of his mouth, dribbling down the edges and coating Seokjin’s fingers, which scooped at the insides of his cheeks even as Seokjin’s tongue pressed more deeply into him, making Jungkook’s breath catch.

 

The fingers pulled away, leaving his mouth feeling strangely parched and definitely empty, and he stopped to reel for a moment, thinking he could figure out what came next. This knowledge still didn’t make it the easiest thing in the world, taking Seokjin’s long, crooked fingers down to the second knuckle, but he did, sharply inhaling and unable to stop himself from wriggling his hips upwards once Seokjin’s finger curled upwards, brushing up against something deep inside him that made something even deeper than his gut quiver in anticipation.

 

“Are you okay?” Seokjin asked. Jungkook opened his eyes and looked down to see Seokjin, hair utterly mussed and pink lips swollen, looking at Jungkook with concern even as his hand was teasing at his insides. Jungkook nodded, closing his eyes again as Seokjin hit the spot again, and he tried to hold in his moan but couldn’t. He gasped at the second finger, writhing around as he started to breath more and more heavily, each intake of air a little more desperate, not sure how to handle the stimulation as his body started to accept that the intrusion was making him feel amazing .

 

“Jungkook,” came Seokjin’s voice, quiet and low. Jungkook just nodded, eyes still clenched shut. Then, there was a hand in his hair, brushing back his bangs, and the palm against his forehead felt amazing, too. A kiss was pressed to his forehead, and Jungkook opened his eyes to look at Seokjin, who after pulling back was slipping off his boxers, preparing himself to enter Jungkook. Curiously, dazed and still wired from how Seokjin had been working him up, Jungkook watched Seokjin slip the condom on, his member now erect as he positioned himself below Jungkook, beyond where he could see. He looked back up at Jungkook, noticing his wide, anxious eyes, and he smiled.

 

In the end, it was such a small, miniscule, quickly-passing moment. Brilliant but awkward, silent but with a thick sort of something to the atmosphere that made it hard to breathe. Seokjin slipped inside of Jungkook’s body the way he had slipped into his life - quietly, smoothly, like it was the most easiest thing in the world for him to do. He had gone from a stranger to a friend to a lover without really even trying, and now Jungkook suddenly couldn’t imagine not having him there, even if just on the edges of his consciousness, the edges of his nerves. He filled Jungkook from the inside out and made him feel heavy with purpose and sensitivity, the explosion of new, unfamiliar sensations making him so shocked he couldn’t really respond, only soak it in. The heat and sting of his first time with Seokjin literally took his breath away. When Jungkook felt a strong wave of Seokjin’s clean Scent waft down to him, he finally took in a deep inhale of air, sighing as he felt his body adjust to how full he felt now. Seokjin paused above him, waiting until Jungkook ran a hand up his arm, squeezing at his bicep and nodding. When Seokjin started to move, that was really when Jungkook began to feel the full aspect of Seokjin’s length, and he leaned back heavily into the pillow, his neck exposed as he clawed at Seokjin, moaning.

 

“Oh, oh shit ,” Jungkook managed, falling into the rhythm after a bit of a strange start. Was this feeling like a wave? Or like a slap to the face? Jungkook wasn’t sure which, but either way, he found himself breathing, “ More. ” And somehow, Seokjin went deeper , as well as faster, and Jungkook’s feet curled up, ankles messily searching to wrap around Seokjin’s waist, clumsily yanking Seokjin closer toward him as though Seokjin was his air, that he needed to take inside so he could breathe again. The bed creaked and Jungkook started to gasp, then whimper, then moan, and he heard Seokjin’s breaths above him, felt the hot exhale on his cheeks.

 

This was nothing like what he’d dreamed of - it was infinitely better to feel the real Seokjin, instead of dream Seokjin. To have his Alpha touch him, instead of just touching himself. He had been waiting a long time, and this felt right . He hoped Seokjin could feel it, too. Maybe they would never be able to segregate the intricate somethings between them, maybe they would never be able to distinguish what was their wolf, what was their Bond, what was themselves. Maybe there wasn’t even a difference, that gray area, that minglement, being their true identities.

 

With one hand, Jungkook grabbed at his own cock, easily using the dampness from the pre-cum that had been accumulating there to rub at it, just a little off time with Seokjin’s thrusts. Jungkook’s mouth gaped open, moaning brazenly. He was reminded of that first time he had dreamt of Seokjin, the guilt and secrecy he had felt, the strangeness of the draw to the Alpha. At that time, he couldn’t have imagined things would turn out like this, or that he would be so changed by the time it happened. He gave a little whimper, using the hand he had wrapped around Seokjin’s neck to tug him closer, pulling him into a heated kiss. The roughness of Seokjin’s movements made their teeth knock together, the wetness still lingering in their mouths adding to the obscene slaps and sticky sounds of their conjoining. Jungkook sighed as he fell back into the pillows, feeling the heat at his core building up like a pressure, and him chasing after it with Seokjin’s Scent all around him, his gaspy breaths in his ear, their clammy skin pressed together. Jungkook’s hand continued to pump at his cock greedily, while his other hand clung desperately to Seokjin’s now sweaty T-shirt, letting out a little cry as he felt himself nearing the edge. Seokjin responded by twisting his slender hips with a wider angle, pressing in deeper and slamming up against that sensitive bundle of nerves right in Jungkook’s inner core, and he was beyond.

 

He trembled like a leaf and came in little bursts, still brokenly moaning out as he finished, quickly becoming oversensitive to Seokjin’s continued abuse of his insides. He cried out from the shock of overstimulation, pained by white-heat. Seokjin immediately paused, and Jungkook grunted in disapproval, shaking his head.

 

“No, go . Please .”

 

Seokjin, looking a bit skeptical but currently not in a position to refuse purely based on politeness, kept going, even when Jungkook’s eyes started to water, biting at his lip in ecstasy as the coil in his belly wound again.

 

“Seokjinnie, I--” he started, quickly cut off when Seokjin orgasmed, his movements almost halting as he paused, silently gasping through his own high, his body tense until suddenly, it wasn’t. He was paused above Jungkook, both of them panting, and Seokjin swallowed heavily.

 

“Jungkook.”

 

It was all he said, and it was enough to cause Jungkook to halt. He reached up and brushed the sweat-clumped locks of hair away from Seokjin’s face, studying him with a curious pursing of his lips. Never before had he been so surrounded by Seokjin’s Scent, and he wondered if this was how it always felt, this feeling of calm serenity that was seeping in after the intensity of the last several minutes.

 

Seokjin’s eyes were filling with tears just at the edges, and Jungkook blinked slowly, feeling content and glad that Seokjin hadn’t pulled out just yet, just lying there with him.  He had his Alpha now, and his Alpha had him. It was a strange sensation.

 

“I love you,” Jungkook said, his tone revealing how surprised he himself was at the revelation. Seokjin’s eyes widened, then he smiled softly, little creases forming at the edges of his lips like a gentle acquiescence. “I’ve loved you for...well, I dunno how long.”

 

“Y’know,” Seokjin smirked, “For such a ‘tough Kookie,’ you can be such a romantic little drama king.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “Says the man who screamed in a cafeteria full of people this afternoon. You know, since you technically initiated this, you still owe me for getting jealous. I already know what I want.”

 

“Fine, fine,” Seokjin chuckled, slipping gingerly out of Jungkook and reaching over to run a hand through his hair for a few minutes. When he spoke again, it was quiet and more tentative than Jungkook would have expected, but his words were clear and imprinted themselves in his chest deeper than he was sure any Bonding could even do.

 

“I love you, too.”

Chapter Text


 

“But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your
lips.”

Kahlil Gibran

 


 

 

Seokjin was, in a word, amazed. He was amazed by Jungkook, he was amazed that he was wanted, he was amazed by the beautiful sincerity with which Jungkook did everything.

He was also cumulatively amazed by the sight of Jungkook beneath him, curved pink lips parted delicately as he moaned, shutting his eyes in blissed out overstimulation. His head tilted back, exposing his neck and allowing a thick veil of his Scent to surround Seokjin, sinking him into a black leather sea, a comforting yet biting smell that suddenly made Seokjin wonder what it would be like to make them mingle forever. Jungkook’s bared neck, dotted with sweat and moving like a flesh-colored sea wave, beckoned him in. He had never felt so compelled to Mate anyone as he was in that moment, as he stared down at Jungkook. Jungkook, the Omega with the rare but unapologetic, open laugh. Jungkook, the one ready to break expectations of him at any turn. Jungkook, who had already grown and morphed so much in the relatively short time Seokjin had known him, that a selfish, childish part of him was afraid of how else he would change, worried that he would go too fast for Seokjin to keep up.

 

Tears had already been stinging at his eyes as he felt, rather than consciously thought, that Jungkook loved him, and was awash with the very real self-assurance and belief that it was as pure of a love as one could find in a world so impure. Jungkook hadn’t had to (in the eyes and scrutiny of a harsh society with its cobweb of nuances and unspoken rules) “sacrifice” anything to be Seokjin’s Omega, as Taehyung was viewed to have done for Jimin’s sake. Seokjin hoped he never had to. He was just there , ready and content to be near him.

 

“I love you,” he’d said. The words could be spoken in so many languages, so many flavors and colors. Did Jungkook even know that? Was he aware of the spite and duplicity that could be threaded throughout the three words he had spoken with such sweetness, such simple directness? Seokjin, in a way, hoped he knew; yet in the same instant hoped he never would.

 

When Jungkook rolled over and curled up against Seokjin’s bare chest, the back of his hand brushing up against the skin, the Alpha’s breath caught. Jungkook’s breathing was shallow and even against Seokjin’s neck, though he knew the Omega was awake. Seokjin reached over and ran his hand through Jungkook’s hair, his fingertips still smelling a bit of the stale dampness from their cleanup earlier. It was nice, like this, to just be close to him. He could be content with this.

 

“Mm…” Jungkook moaned happily under his hand, nuzzling in closer. “I’m already hard again.”

 

Seokjin paused his hand in its movements, arching an eyebrow. “You what?”

 

“When you kept going after I came…”

 

“You told me to!” Seokjin gasped, a panic rising up in his throat and heating the back of his neck suddenly.

 

“Yeah, I know. But what I’m saying is, it made me hard again.”

 

As if he needed to punctuate the point, Jungkook shifted forward, lifting his thigh up and hooking it up over Seokjin’s waist as he lay on his side. Seokjin could certainly tell he wasn’t lying.

 

Seokjin sighed, wanting to laugh. “I guess this is youth?”

 

Jungkook just looked up at him for a moment with the most playful, impish expression imaginable. He was fighting hard to maintain serious eye contact, but the smirk pulling his lips from his teeth was detracting from that effort. “It’s my turn now, right?”

 

Raising his eyebrows and feeling his cheeks tightening with a smile as well, Seokjin asked, “What do you mean ‘your turn’?”

 

“I mean,” Jungkook wriggled into a sitting position, seemingly unashamed of his nakedness as the (now mismatched but clean) bed sheet fell away, “It’s time for my prize for winning the jealousy game. Are you ready?”

 

Seokjin chuckled. He wasn’t sure why Jungkook was so hell bent on this win in particular, but he couldn’t deny it was endearing to see him so excited. “Sure, why not?”

 

Jungkook practically flew off the bed, then almost toppled to the ground, his body already sore and stiff from earlier. Seokjin shot up in the bed with concern, only to find Jungkook on the ground laughing at himself.

 

“I forgot,” Jungkook said by way of explanation. Seokjin sighed.

 

“What an idiot. Imagine if your first time had been during your heat. You’d have gone way overboard.”

 

Jungkook looked over his shoulder, smirking devilishly. “Wait here.” The Omega stood and quickly pulled on his pants, vanishing out of the room. Presumably, he was going to his own room for something, so Seokjin took the moment to lay back against the pillows, breathing in their lingering Scents that hovered above the bed.  The door opened gently, and he heard it click shut again, but he continued to keep his eyes closed, listening. The mattress dipped down as Jungkook crawled over Seokjin to straddle him, his weight making Seokjin grunt a little and smile, his hands coming up to search for Jungkook’s waist. The Alpha wanted to send up a little thankful prayer to the powers above for creating Jungkook’s thighs, the thick muscular legs squeezing in at his waist as he sighed in appreciation. But suddenly, there was a little chuckle, and he found his wrists being held, something slightly abrasive brushing up against the soft skin there.. Seokjin opened one eye, and Jungkook was fiddling with a pair of black fake-fur lined handcuffs, trying to force them down over Jin’s bony wrists. The Alpha jerked in surprise, halfway sitting up.

 

“What are you doing?!”

 

Jungkook’s beaming smile fell instantly, and he almost looked surprised . “Well, I’m not good at ropes yet, so Yoongi said this would be --”

 

What !?”

 

The Omega looked genuinely confused, and a cynical part of Seokjin’s brain wondered if he was making that expression on purpose, to throw him off. “But… you said I could pick what we try next…”

 

“Yeah, I thought you’d want to try, I dunno…” he flailed, and he knew he was flailing. He’d really had no set idea of what Jungkook had meant, he had just liked seeing him that happy. Fuck, I’m really far gone, aren’t I? “Something else …” he finished lamely.

 

“But Jin ,” Jungkook wriggled his hips, moving his bottom down a little further until he was able to lean down into Seokjin’s face, smiling sweetly at him. “‘I want what you want,’ remember?”

 

Seokjin paused. He had said that, and Seokjin had even asked to make sure he knew what he was suggesting. But in all honesty, he had thought that was a concept, a sort of theoretical sharing that would take years to come to any sort of actualization, much less this soon. “Don’t you want to, I don’t know...take things slower? Aren’t you worried you’re moving too fast?”

 

“Fuck no,” Jungkook stated firmly. “I’ve suspected for years that I’m not vanilla.”

 

At that, Kim Seokjin nearly choked, falling into a coughing fit as Jungkook sat and grinned at him.

 

“You seem surprised..?” Jungkook teased. “We’re Bonded, you know. It’s like a soulmate thing. I basically grew up in Bangtan pack, you know, and if you’re as quiet as me and live in a pack house with Presented wolves long enough, eventually you’ll have walked in on things and overheard things you weren’t ‘supposed to.’ Yoongi was never shy. He’s quiet, but not shy. Jimin’s got some kinks that go way beyond me. And Namjoon’s as vanilla as they come but he always went out of his way to have awkward conversations about sexual freedom and things. I just never really had any experience, so you came along and...well…” he lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I was pretty freaked out at first. It didn’t help you were so good-looking.” With this, Jungkook gave a sigh, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders for having a good-looking partner.

 

“I can’t believe I ever thought of you as innocent,” Seokjin rolled his eyes. “When you were walking around watching everybody else like some kinda puppy voyeur.”

 

“I told you,” Jungkook said, his thumb rubbing gently along the fabric of the handcuffs. He looked down at his hands for a moment, then tilted his head slightly to the side as he stared straight into his Alpha’s eyes. “But don’t get me wrong. I’m scared shitless.”

 

Seokjin actually breathed out a sigh of relief at that. “That’s a fucking relief, because I am, too.”

 

“But I know you won’t hurt me. Not that way, you know? I trust you, and I know you trust me, so… I want to let you be yourself, that self, but only in front of me.”

 

The way he had said it, his voice going gentler and quieter, more demure but somehow more honest and sincere, made Seokjin’s chest clench. “You really love me, don’t you?”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes, his lips quirking a little in embarrassment.

 

“So why handcuffs?”

 

“Because you’re always holding back,” Jungkook reasoned simply, “If you give me some of that control, then maybe you’ll feel like you don’t have to hold back as much. Like...I can walk away at any time.”

 

“Please don’t walk out on someone you’ve handcuffed,” Seokjin teased, a nervous laugh bubbling up in his throat. Jungkook slapped his hand lightly against Seokjin’s shoulder. “But really, I think...that makes sense. Honestly I’m still worried, but, I’ll try it with you.”

 

“Well, you did promise,” Jungkook said, sitting up straight and taking Seokjin’s hands, clicking the handcuffs around them. Seokjin felt something in his stomach flip when he saw Jungkook holding the handcuffs, and the feeling only got stronger as he watched Jungkook bind his hands together, a fascinated look on his face. The cuffs only let him move his hands an inch or so back and forth, and he tested them out experimentally. In all honesty, he thought they felt kind of fragile, and he suspected he could have broken them if he really wanted,but he decided not to say anything about it. Let Jungkook feel his pride over the handcuffs as he would.

 

“We need a safe word,” Seokjin reminded him, “Something like ‘honeydew’ or ‘seagull,’ something you’re not likely to say every day. Not like ‘do-”

 

“Pikachu,” Jungkook said firmly. “I choose Pikachu.”

 

Seokjin laughed. Perhaps it wasn’t sexy or appealing to, as he wore black fuzzy handcuffs while naked beneath Jungkook and his confident stance and his claim to Pikachu without a moment’s hesitation. “Are you serious? You’re not even gonna think about it a little?”

 

Jungkook then sent Seokjin a reprimanding glare , and Seokjin realized that that was exactly what Jungkook had done - he had had a long time to think about it.

 

The Alpha sighed, “Okay, Pikachu it is. I can’t believe this.” But a smile twitched at the edges of Seokjin’s mouth, despite himself. It was fitting, and hilarious, and definitely not something he wanted to be so commonplace that it could get confusing in the bedroom, heaven forbid.

 

“Okay, ready?” Jungkook half-sang, and Seokjin nodded. He could now hear that underlying trace of awkward nervousness in the Omega’s voice, if his sudden wriggling around and the change in his Scent weren’t signal enough. Seokjin wasn’t sure where to put his hands, so he kept them curled up at his chest for the moment. Jungkook shifted his hips, pressing down onto Seokjin, and even through his sweatpants he could feel that Jungkook really was aroused again already, a slight roughness to his movements as he rubbed dryly up against Seokjin’s crotch. It felt nice, but he could tell even Jungkook was distracted, looking as if he wasn’t able to concentrate. After a moment, with a little sound of frustration, Jungkook peeled off all clothing between them, returning to wrap around Seokjin’s waist with a higher note of desperation as he continued. Seokjin watched Jungkook hump faster and faster, switching to Seokjin’s thigh, grabbing himself with his hand, then Seokjin’s member, then his own, then humping against him again. Seokjin tried to help - he really did - by rolling his hips upwards into Jungkook, trying to match the boy’s rhythms, but something unspoken was hovering in the air, thickening as Jungkook’s irritation bubbled. Physically speaking, things were moving as they should, and even Seokjin was catching up to Jungkook’s level of hardness, even though Jungkook’s dick was now starting to color with the abrasive way he had been abusing it. Physically , it was happening, but something was off, like a sense was off, an angle wrong, or a mood off. In all honesty, it was like having a small animal humping his leg, and Seokjin was feeling mostly bored by the situation, and more than a little disappointed, but what he felt was nothing compared to what Jungkook was going through, his face hardening and his bottom lip caught in his teeth. Seokjin moved his handcuffed hands up from his chest to rest them above his head on the pillow, and the movement caught Jungkook’s eye, and he hissed.

 

“Fuck!” Jungkook snapped in anger, sitting up abruptly. “Why is it so different ?”

 

“Well, we did just have our first time, like, an hour ago,” Seokjin offered, his tone as gentle and placating as he could manage. “Maybe it’s just not the right time.”

 

“No! That’s not it, I’m...I’m really ready, but..” Jungkook exhaled out in exasperation, his shoulders slumping as he sat up, his eyes fixated on Seokjin’s hands above his head. Jungkook’s mouth dropped open to form a little ‘O’ shape that was endearing and, unfortunately - given the situation - made Seokjin imagine less than pure images. Jungkook suddenly slapped down on Seokjin’s chest, “That’s it!”

 

“Ow, hey! What’s it?”

 

“I want to be the one tied up,” Jungkook stated simply. “I don’t like it when it’s you.”

 

Seokjin’s face crumpled in confusion. He drew his hands back down and rested them against his stomach, and Jungkook’s gaze flickered down and locked onto the handcuffs. “But the whole point was--”

 

“I know, I know. But it won’t work if it’s you. You have to do it to me. I want you to have control, I can’t do it.”

 

Seokjin frowned. He was making an offer that was much more appealing, much more tempting, than he believed the Omega knew. “But...But I can’t do it if it’s you, Jungkook. I just...I don’t wanna hurt you or anything, and...I don’t wanna make that image of an Alpha the image you keep for the rest of your life, even if it feels good.”

 

“But I want you to. I want you to be that Alpha for me, at least when we’re having sex.”

 

“I know, but… I can’t.” Seokjin frowned sadly, seeing the crestfallen look on Jungkook’s face. He really had been looking forward to this, and Seokjin knew that Jungkook rarely failed to get what he wanted. He was a bit spoiled in that way. Seokjin lifted his hands up so he could touch the edges of Jungkook’s cheeks with his fingertips. “Maybe we can try it later, when I--”

 

“Wait!” Jungkook’s face lifted up, eyes sparkling, “What if it wasn’t me ?”

 

Seokjin blinked. Then waited for an explanation. Then blinked again. “W-what? Why would I wanna--”

 

“Just wait here, okay?” Jungkook started to slip off the mattress, when Seokjin vaulted himself up into a sitting position, holding out his handcuffed hands in a plea.

 

Jungkook !”

 

The Omega already had his hand on the door handle when he turned around at the rough-sounding reprimand, then laughed. “Oh, sorry.” He walked over and unlocked the handcuffs, dropping them to the corner of the mattress as Seokjin rolled his wrists around experimentally. Jungkook tilted his head to the side as he watched Seokjin, piecing together another one of his ‘brilliant’ ideas. “Can you..lie down and... keep your eyes closed? Like before? I’ll tell you when to open them.”

 

“What? Okay, I guess. But don’t blame me if I fall asleep.”

 

For the second time, Jungkook hurriedly pulled his pants on and escaped from the room again. Seokjin sighed as he fell back against the pillows, closing his eyes. This time, when Jungkook slipped back in, there was a strange sort of trace of fear to his Scent, and more excitement than before. It crackled in the air like untapped energy, and Seokjin was strangely tempted to open his eyes, particularly when Jungkook didn’t immediately return to the bed. The lock had clicked, but there was no sign of him moving closer.

 

“Jungkook?” he called out, uncertain.

 

“Don’t open them yet,” Jungkook ordered, and there was a rustling sound. Seokjin furrowed his brow in confusion, not expecting the sound of fabric. After a moment of silence, Jungkook’s light footsteps moved across to the far end of the room, and his voice was higher-pitched in poorly hidden concern as he suddenly asked, “You haven’t peeked, have you?”

 

“No, I haven’t.” The Alpha couldn’t help but laugh, laying a hand over his eyes to help reassure the worried aura emanating from Jungkook. “How much longer?”

“N-not much…” More rustling sounds, and the sounds of containers being opened, and a quietly whispered, “F-fuck…my stupid hands are shaking..” that Seokjin was half-certain Jungkook didn’t think he’d heard. Seokjin licked at his lips a little, wanting to ask if Jungkook was alright, but not wanting to interrupt this whatever-it-was for his sake.

 

After a while, the noises stopped, and Seokjin turned his head, hand still over his face. “Now?”

 

“Okay, promise you won’t laugh at me.”

 

“I won’t,” Seokjin said, but he was already chuckling, wondering what could be more laughable - and simultaneously heartbreaking - than having had to watch Jungkook uselessly dry hump his leg a little while ago.

 

“If you laugh I’m going to punch you.”

 

Seokjin, master of his own face when he wished, suddenly sobered up. Seriously, he said, “I won’t laugh. Just let me see.”

 

“O-okay. Open your eyes.”

 

And so he did, dropping his hand down to his side and lifting his face up a bit to find Jungkook standing at the edge of the room, staring sheepishly with his head tilted downwards at the floor. He was wearing a white long-sleeved sweater, the sleeves rolled up to three-quarter length and the top of his black and white striped turtleneck peering out over the top. That was all pretty normal, although a bit warm for the recent spring weather. But what struck Seokjin’s attention was the short black skirt, its slightly ruffled edges tugged on by Jungkook’s nervous hands, a belt tucked cutely crooked at the waist. A sizeable expanse of Jungkook’s warm-colored thighs peered out in the short space between skirt edge and the black thigh-high stockings that he wore. It took Seokjin a moment to realize that the blush on Jungkook’s cheeks wasn’t entirely his own, and that Jungkook’s curved lips, with their perfect, tight little Cupid’s bow, had been painted a bright, light red.

 

Jungkook himself looked terrified and kept glancing nervously up to gauge Seokjin’s face, but finding it unreadable, glanced back down. Silence hung between them heavily.

 

“Jungkook...I mean...wow…” Seokjin said, unsure how to word his feelings. “You’re really...you’re really cute.” He supposed that was the right word. It certainly wasn’t a lie.

 

The instant the praise had left his mouth, Jungkook’s painted lips had parted into a wide beaming smile, and he bolted happily over from the edge of the room to make a running leap onto the bed, landing in front of Seokjin and sitting with his knees bent, feet tucked out at either side and his thighs suddenly unbelievably close as he leaned forward to embrace Seokjin.

 

“I knew you’d like it! I’ve had it for so long, I thought I’d never get to wear it.” Jungkook’s hands slipped up to entwine together at the nape of Seokjin’s neck, and Jungkook leaned forward and planted a kiss on Seokjin’s cheek. He wasn’t sure if Jungkook noticed the deep swallow he’d forced down, or the way his heartrate was suddenly so fast that every beat just seemed to run together. Jungkook giggled, staring at Seokjin’s cheek, and he was sure there was a lipstick stain there. The Omega nuzzled in, practically purring with happiness as Seokjin slowly wrapped his arms around the younger boy. “I’m so relieved...my Alpha…”

 

Well, fuck.

 

“Alpha?”

 

Seokjin gulped. He pulled Jungkook back a little, taking in once again the slightly crooked makeup on his face, the flush to his cheeks, the cute skin of his thigh peeking out from the skirt. The skirt. Could he do this? Jungkook suddenly looked so young and innocent, even as his pupils were now encircled in a deep blue of arousal, and the way he smiled up at Seokjin was anything but innocent.

 

He worked his lip for a moment. This felt very suspiciously like a gray area, that was true. But if there was one thing Jungkook had been beating to death into Seokjin’s mind, it was that he was willing and consenting to everything (begging for it, more like, and in more ways than one) to the point where to not cut them some slack was practically a disservice to all Jungkook’s efforts.

 

Slowly, but with a firmness to his tone, Seokjin asked, “What should I call you?”

 

Jungkook’s eyes seemed to sparkle with anticipation, with glee. “Call me your Omega. Just that. You never call me that, so.”

 

Seokjin hadn’t even thought Jungkook would have liked being called ‘my Omega,’ so he was a little surprised, but it made sense. He nodded. “Okay. And tell me what the safe word is.”

 

“Pikachu!” Jungkook squeaked out, getting more excited as it was sinking in that Seokjin’s reservations were slowly slipping away with the addition of this new element.

 

“Okay…” Seokjin smirked. “Let’s get started, then. If I call you Omega--”

 

“I’m your Omega.” Jungkook corrected, a childish pout on his lips.

 

Seokjin chuckled, reaching up and cupping one of Jungkook’s slightly powdered cheeks in one wide hand, trailing his thumb back and forth a couple of times before trailing it lightly against Jungkook’s red lips. “Yes. My Omega.”

 

If he had been surprised by the skirt, he was just as equally surprised when the nickname made Jungkook physically, visibly tremble. Wow, okay, so he’s not all talk, at least. A part of him was a little worried that they would have a repeat of the previous handcuff incident, so he decided to take this slow, not in a refrained sort of way, but in a build-up, an atmosphere or scene building sort of way. This was a game, a play, and he wanted to do it right.

 

“You’re my Omega, so you can only call me your Alpha. Got it?”

 

“Yes, I got it.”

 

“Now…” Seokjin smirked, pushing Jungkook’s shoulders back a little so he could survey the Omega a little more thoroughly. Without the slow, gentle hesitation but instead with a firm sort of confidence, Seokjin laid both his hands on Jungkook’s bare thighs, gripping hard at the skin there and smirking at the way Jungkook’s mouth fell open. “You look so cute for me today, my little Omega.”

 

It was kind of silly, really. Especially since he wasn’t even much bigger than Jungkook. But he looked smaller, kneeling on the bed and with wide, curious eyes.

 

Seokjin moved his hands up, still with a solid grip, and pressed his hands up until they came to the edge of the skirt, and Jungkook’s body tensed, his breathing a little erratic. His eyes were locked on Seokjin’s face, but he made no move to either slow or speed things up. Seokjin smiled, continuing until his hands were mostly-buried under the soft folds of the skirt, his thumbs now pinching in roughly at the velvety soft skin of Jungkook’s inner thigh. Jungkook gasped.

 

“Aren’t you worried about me touching you like this, my little Omega?” Seokjin queried, with a tone that suggested that he knew Jungkook was not. “Are you scared of where my hands will go?”

 

“N-no, Alpha,” Jungkook breathed. Seokjin responded by twisting his wrists, sending his thumbs forward and up against the hot flesh he found there. He was surprised to find a light material blocking his access, and he pushed the skirt material up and looked down to see a pair of cotton panties, pure white with baby blue cross stitching at the hems and little bunnies printed across it, most of them hopping away from little cartoon-style patches of grass. Seokjin looked up at Jungkook in question, but he wasn’t offering any explanation, just starting at Seokjin as though he was about to consume him alive, even going so far as to lick his lips. The younger man placed his hands in Seokjin’s hair, only slightly pushing him down towards his panty-protected crotch. “Touch me, Alpha.”

 

Seokjin could do nothing but comply, pressing forward and inhaling Jungkook’s sexual smell deeply, mouthing at the warm bulge beneath the cute printed bunnies and feeling Jungkook grip roughly at his hair, moaning out Seokjin’s name already.

 

At that, he sat up, and could see the disappointment on Jungkook’s face.

 

“Why the hell did you stop?!” Jungkook snapped.

 

“What did you call me?” Seokjin teased, and he loved the way Jungkook’s eyes widened in horror at the realization.

 

“Guess you’re already in for one point of punishment,” Seokjin said flippantly, reaching off to the side to pick up the handcuffs. “Put your hands behind your back.”

 

“B-behind?”

 

Seokjin did his best to glare at Jungkook, trying not to laugh at the dumbfounded look on the Omega’s face. “ WHAT did you say?

 

“I--y-yes, my Alpha.” And Jungkook, surprisingly, complied, holding his hands behind his back as Seokjin tugged back the sweater sleeves from where they had fallen, slipping the handcuffs onto Jungkook easily. When he came back to sit in front of Jungkook, he was surprised with how much more sexual his posture was, just from adding the handcuffs. Was it the way his shoulders lay? Was it Jungkook’s own awareness that altered his body language? Seokjin wasn’t sure, but he didn’t waste much time before bending back down to continue. This time, when he licked at the front of Jungkook’s hardened member, he didn’t hear his own name but a gasped and needy, “ A-Alpha .”

 

Seokjin placed his hands on the outside of Jungkook’s thighs, kneading at the flesh and muscle there while he mouthed and nibbled at Jungkook, each increasingly powerful bite making Jungkook’s cries rise higher and higher in pitch until he was basically wheezing out the ‘Alpha ’s, making Seokjin moan into his work.

 

“P-please…” Jungkook suddenly managed. “I want more . Alpha please .”

 

“Please what?” He lifted his head up, genuinely curious about what Jungkook was looking for next in this little game. The Omega had his eyes shut, biting his bottom lip as he held back more cries. When Seokjin’s ministrations paused, he opened them and looked down, gasping as though air had taken a moment to reach him.

 

“You know what,” Jungkook said, in a voice Seokjin assumed was him trying to sound seductive. He even went so far as to tilt one shoulder towards him, as if to make himself more appealing, arching one suggestive eyebrow.

 

Seokjin sat up and away, making Jungkook actually whimper, his arms tugging sadly at the binds at if he was trying to reach out for Seokjin. “That’s not how we’re doing this,” Seokjin said slowly. “You can’t just assume I’ll understand if you don’t say what it is you want. Now tell me. Please what ?”

 

Jungkook seemed a little thrown by that, eyes so wide and worried as if he had offended somehow, and he bit at his lip before looking down at his lap. “I...it’s just…”

 

The Alpha leaned down, trying to slide into his gaze. “Well?”

 

Fiddling with his handcuffs, the skirt still rolled up to his hips, Jungkook flushed and glared down at the mattress. “I want your cum, Alpha.”

 

A beat.

 

“Um...how?” Seokjin pressed, needing a little more detail. He couldn’t deny though that his own crotch had quite suddenly jumped to attention at the sentence alone, spoken demurely and shyly.

 

“It’s not as fun if I have to tell you everything !” Jungkook bemoaned, wriggling a little more with his handcuffs and lifting his bottom up to reposition himself on the bed. His whiny tone made Seokjin want to reconsider, but...he had to be strict on this point of communication; it was something he didn’t want to do wrong.

 

Okay, and maybe a little bit of his sadistic side wanted to hear Jungkook say it. But just a little bit, as an afterthought.

 

“You have to tell me, or I won’t know. How do you want my cum, little Omega?”

 

Jungkook pouted, huffing a little before flushing wildly as he said, “I w-want your cum on my face.”

 

Well, that wasn’t the answer he was expecting, but it was still an intriguing thing to request. At this point he was about 0.5 seconds away from desperately needing to palm himself. And who could blame him, when his Omega was sitting in front him, handcuffed and wearing a skirt, blushing prettily and ask him to do things he would normally find unspeakable?

 

“...You do?”

 

“Yes,” Jungkook stated, more boldly now that he hadn’t gotten the reaction he feared - jest. “Like... all over. Major cum. Facial level cum. I want you all over me.”

 

Seokjin actually had to lean a bit forward and prop himself up on the mattress with both hands at that, he was so overwhelmed by the sudden dizzying heat of arousal. “Oh god .”

 

“P-please, I’ll do whatever you say, so…” Jungkook sounded almost fearful, afraid as he leaned in and begged.

 

There was some higher power up that was determined to kill Kim Seokjin before his time, he was sure. Because the universe had sent him, of all people, Jungkook. There was a long, baited breath of silence, then Seokjin let out the deepest sigh he had ever remembered giving.

 

“Of course, baby,” he said. He hadn’t really planned on the pet name, it had just slipped out, but Jungkook whimpered in glee, wriggling where he sat on the edge of the bed in excitement. “My Omega baby…”

 

Unable to move much due to his cuffed hands, Jungkook suddenly, precariously leaned himself forward and tucked his head into the crook of Seokjin’s neck, nuzzling in at his Scent gland and inhaling at him heavily. Seokjin’s breath caught, the nerves in his body all flipping over starting from his center outwards in a blissful silent wave, and Jungkook kept going, leaning in more heavily until Seokjin had to hold him up, letting out deep gasps as the Scenting twisted brazenly at his senses, making him dizzy. Jungkook had never quite Scented him that deeply before, that sexually, and that long. Seokjin felt the impact of it to his very core, and he moaned, surprising himself. In response, Jungkook gave a kitten lick to the sensitive, puffed up and tender skin around his Scent gland, making him hiss with sensitivity.

 

“My Alpha..” Jungkook hummed into his ear, kissing gently at the curve of his jawline. Seokjin felt goosebumps trail along his body in a lightning-flash sort of quickness.

 

“Turn around,” Seokjin ordered in a dark tone. Jungkook blinked at him in surprise, but then complied, struggling to lay flat against the mattress. “Ass up,” Seokjin added, reaching down and giving Jungkook’s very lightly clothed bottom a hard smack that seemed to echo in the room, along with the gasp Jungkook released. His curved bottom slowly, with a struggle because of his binds, rose up from the mattress. With the shortness of the skirt it was impossible for Jungkook to have remained decent, and at the end of the trail that was his beautiful smooth thigh was the bottom edge of the bunny panties, peeking out from the black fabric that was slowly, agonizingly slipping its way closer to Jungkook’s waist, which was held at a lower position than his lifted bottom. Because of the angle, Jungkook’s face was forced heavily into the bedsheets, and he grunted as he tried to get comfortable. He was already panting slightly, and Seokjin hadn’t even touched him yet.

 

“Does it feel cool on your little ass?” Seokjin said quietly, reaching out and running his hands smoothly from the top of the thigh highs to the hem of the panties, earning a groan from Jungkook. “Is your Omega ass already calling for me?”

 

“Yes…” Jungkook replied quickly, which Seokjin hadn’t anticipated.

 

Seokjin pushed the skirt further down Jungkook’s waist, leaving his panties and thighs fully exposed. Egged on by Jungkook’s breathless answer, Seokjin twisted two fingers around the fabric of the panties, slipping in between the hot skin to find that it was dripping wet. He was so aroused it was calling on his pre-heat self-lubrication. It wasn’t really a sign of a heat so much as a rise in hormones, and varied from person to person. Seokjin wondered if he would always be able to self-lubricate by this kind of play. If he was self-lubricating, that meant his entrance would be significantly more pliant right then, as opposed to a normal day.

 

He figured he might as well make the most of that fact. Seokjin pressed one of his fingers in deeper, beyond just testing for Jungkook’s wetness, and wriggled it inside of Jungkook with such a lively and playful air that the Omega cried out a solid, “Fuck!” to Seokjin’s delight. The second finger went in even easier.

 

“N-n-no wait, that’s so fast!” Jungkook whimpered, crying lightly into the pillow with a choking sound.

 

In response, Seokjin pressed in harder than he had before, and when it caused Jungkook to moan, Seokjin reminded himself that right now, this wasn’t ‘Jungkook,’ this was his Omega. But one little check shouldn’t hurt.

 

“What’s your safeword, Omega?” Seokjin demanded. Jungkook’s hands balled into fists where they were bound, held tightly against the small of his back.

 

“P-Pikachu…” Jungkook gasped. Seokjin was satisfied with that, pulling off the panties with one hand and discarding them to the floor, taking a moment to appreciate the soft roundness of Jungkook ass.

 

He proceeded to then fuck Jungkook with his fingers as roughly as he could.

 

Instantly, Jungkook was keening, his back arching on the bed every which way so wildly that the Alpha had to pin him with one hand on his waist, only using the leverage to bury his fingers deeper, until he was up to the last knuckle with each thrust. His fingers were covered in slick, wet and warm and making the most obscene squelching noises as he continued making Jungkook cry out.

 

“Fuck, fuck, fuuck!” Jungkook drew out each repeat a little longer than the last, until he was morphing it into another long moan. “Jin, I’m gonna cum…”

 

Jin reached forward with his free hand, grabbing a handful of Jungkook’s hair and pulling him up off the mattress. It was almost like a drinking game, keeping an ear out for the times he could call Jungkook out on his slip-ups. “What did you call me?”

 

Jungkook gasped, then, “N-no, wait, I--”

 

Seokjin removed his fingers in one smooth movement, and Jungkook practically wept, shoving his bottom backwards in an attempt to regain the pressure. Seokjin could even see the puckered skin around his entrance clenching, seeking to grip down greedily and finding nothing.

 

“A glutton for punishment, my cute little Omega baby,” Seokjin hummed. He could feel the loss of control, the greediness setting in as he sank into the boiling, maddening heat -  the high of controlling Jungkook was like settling into a hot bath, letting it soak in around him and reveling in it. Maybe he was more sensitive to the effects of being directly exposed to Jungkook’s slick than he thought. Seokjin leaned forward, unclasping Jungkook’s handcuffs, lifting him halfway off the bed. He positioned Jungkook on his hands and knees on an old chest Seokjin mostly used for his winter jackets, and he firmly situated Jungkook’s fingertips around the ledge, telling him, “Don’t move.”

 

When he stood up, his crotch was almost exactly at the level of Jungkook’s raised face, and instantly Jungkook realized what was going to happen. His eyes widened, but whether in excitement or nervousness - or a delightful mix of both - Seokjin wasn’t quite sure.

 

“Open your mouth,” Seokjin ordered. He was already plenty hard after all the things Jungkook had been doing to him, but it felt amazingly good to indulge, letting Jungkook’s burning hot, wet mouth encompass his member, tongue scraping lightly against the bottom as Seokjin let out rough little pants, thrusting into Jungkook’s mouth. Whether from the deepness into arousal that he had already sank, or from secret preparation, Jungkook was able to take in much more of Seokjin’s length this time, greedily sucking at the tip each time Seokjin pulled back, and making the Alpha grunt with growing need. Though his hands were firmly planted on the edge of the chest, Jungkook was leaning as far forward as he could, as if needing even an inch more of closeness to the Alpha. When he started to gag, Seokjin finally pulled back. Jungkook coughed a little, tears stinging his eyes, and Seokjin placed a hand in his hair. Then before he could even move, Jungkook was leaning down and forward again, seeking after Seokjin’s dick with his mouth like it was a life force.

 

“You’re that hungry?” Seokjin teased, one hand tickling under Jungkook’s chin as he had Seokjin’s member particularly far down his throat, the little brush of fingertips making Jungkook choke and gag once again, and this time, it tightened so closely around Seokjin’s member that he actually cried out, one hand flying to the bedpost next to them, clutching it for balance. Unfortunately, Jungkook, being the little rat that he was, discovered this reaction and immediately resolved to chase after it, timing Seokjin’s deep thrusts down into his delicate throat and adding a hearty swallow, the tightness making Seokjin’s core twist and coil rapidly. They repeated the cycle several times, Seokjin always pulling back a little each time the coil wound a little too tightly, until he decided it was time.

 

“Fuck, I’m close,” Seokjin breathed, and pressed his hips in a little closer. Jungkook coughed again, leaning forward so far his bottom was sticking out as if deliberately, the little skirt shaking back and forth around his thighs with each powerful thrust. Seokjin was almost sorry to bend backward, his member slipping out from between Jungkook’s swollen red lips. “Stay,” he ordered, taking one hand and placing it around his member and moving his fingers up and down a few careful times, feeling the coil finally twist so tightly that it burned, and suddenly Seokjin was crying out, his cum escaping in thick, heavy bursts that splattered against Jungkook’s face. The Omega looked shocked, mouth still hanging open even as Seokjin continued to milk out the rest of his orgasm. He had edged himself to give Jungkook as much as he could, and now he was going to make use of every drop. With one hand, Seokjin reached out and roughly rubbed the dripping cum all over Jungkook’s face, the Omega stiffening up as his Alpha smudged his makeup (or rather, what makeup was left after being washed down his face through his tears) in dark, dramatic streaks.

 

“Look at you,” Seokjin spat, trying to sound as malicious as he could, deepening his voice to that tone that he knew from instinct, rather than from conscious knowledge, made Jungkook tremble the most. “You’re such a filthy little Omega. With your ass exposed and your face covered in cum.” Jungkook lifted his gaze to him, wide eyes blinking heavily as Seokjin’s cum coated his face and cheeks, sticky and disgusting. The lipstick was stained across his mouth in faded red dustings, the eyeliner dripping and his mouth parted, skirt now having slipping up his hips and exposing him to the air again. Seokjin groaned as the sight caused another burst of cum, this time landing on Jungkook’s cheek. He promptly rubbed that in, too, as Jungkook shuddered in shock and wonder.

 

“Now it’s your turn, my Omega,” Seokjin promised, walking around to the back and placing one preparing hand against Jungkook’s waist. Jungkook was already leaning a bit back on his knees, back into Seokjin’s approaching hand as he slipped his fingers inside again, roughly using his calluses against Jungkook’s inner walls in a way that made Jungkook’s back arch, pressing his bare cheeks up against Seokjin. The plan was to use the time Seokjin needed to recover for another cumming to tease Jungkook’s ass, until he was begging for an end. Seokjin could already see Jungkook was painfully hard, his erect member calling attention as Jungkook bounced his hips backwards onto Seokjin’s fingers, looking blissed out as he wriggled his body as best as he could while obediently keeping his hands in place.

 

“A-Alpha...I want you to--”

 

That was when a knock came at the bedroom door, and the two of them froze. A pause, and then the knock came again.

 

The knock came a third time, and then Seokjin, as casually as he could, called out, “Yes?”

 

Taehyung’s voice came muffled and distant through the doorway, and he yelled out, “Is Jungkook in there? Namjoon says we’re having a pack dinner tonight, so you need to come down! Everyone else is already downstairs. You have five minutes.”

 

Seokjin looked over at Jungkook in a panic, three of his fingers buried palm-deep into Jungkook’s asshole, his skirt hiked up to his back, and Seokjin’s fresh cum and messy makeup rubbed firmly into Jungkook’s horrified face.

 

Fuck.

Chapter Text

 


 

“Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.”

― G.K. Chesterton


 

 

“What the fuck do we do?” Jungkook hissed, his voice breathless as he tried to remain very, very still under (or he supposed it was around ) Seokjin’s hand. He could still feel his asshole clenching and unclenching around Seokjin’s long, bent fingers and god if it didn’t feel really good just sitting there like that, sweat dripping into his eyes as he waited on his hands and knees. Seokjin’s heavily Scented cum was all over his face, already getting crusty and disgusting with the coolness in the air. How on earth were they going to get out of this? He glanced over his shoulder at the way Seokjin had frozen in place. “Jin?”

 

Once the word left his mouth, a trace of that submissive character snuck back into his mind, screaming that he had slipped and not called Seokjin ‘my Alpha,’ and was going to be (happily) further punished. But Seokjin was definitely preoccupied with other thoughts.

 

“Okay, I don’t...um… I don’t know if I can make you finish and clean you up, Jungkook. So you’ll...Um. Okay, let’s do this, then.” And Seokjin pulled his hand out of Jungkook, a deep-throated moan escaping the Omega as Seokjin murmured an apology, digging through the drawers and pulling out a small bag of replacement wet wipes. “Here,” he said, handing them to a confused Jungkook. “You take care of one end, I’ll take care of the other.”

 

“You’re fucking kidding me,” Jungkook mumbled, but with one hand he wrestled out a wet wipe and started to scrub at his face. Inwardly, he was more than a little crestfallen. It had felt so good to have Seokjin smearing himself all over Jungkook’s face, like he was being marked as Seokjin’s and his alone, a tantalizing possessiveness he had allowed the Alpha willingly, and happily accepting the claim. After all the avoidance, the misunderstandings, it was nice to feel Seokjin being greedy with him, and Jungkook hadn’t realized how much he relished being pampered and spoiled by that greediness.

 

He rubbed and scoured at every crease of his face as carefully as possible, feeling his heart rate rise with the counting seconds as Seokjin worked his fingers back into Jungkook, his other hand slipping around the curve of Jungkook’s hip to grab his member, started frantic tugs. Jungkook hated to waste Seokjin’s work, hated that he would have to slip out of the skirt before they were really able to give things their proper time, but he knew now wasn’t the time. If Hoseok had been that worried about the idea of Jungkook being into ropes, what would his reaction be to hearing they were already having sex upstairs right before dinner? He would know .

 

His momentary focus on washing the now crusty combination of smeared makeup and cum from his face was suddenly interrupted by Seokjin starting to pump his entire hand in and out of Jungkook, and the Omega gasped, dropping his hands to grip white-knuckled at the end of the chest on which he was perched. Seokjin wasn’t going to waste any time. “Oh, fuck!”

 

Instead of answering, Seokjin just worked his hands harder, until Jungkook was arching his back, his face tilted toward the ceiling as his mouth fell open in a long, low moan. God, he wished Seokjin could drag this out, could let him hover along this line for hours. He could almost sense the Alpha wanting to lean forward, to whisper hotly into his ear and tease him for reacting so strongly. He wanted that, and he had finally gotten Seokjin here, to the point where he reached in and brazenly pressed against his prostate, making his whole body curl and twitch, slipping closer to his edge with tantalizing reluctance. After all that waiting, he had Seokjin not only holding him close, but openly letting his own inner Alpha control the situation, and he’d wanted that for so long now, it ached to think they’d have to finish the job like this.

 

Perhaps that was the reason why Jungkook’s body didn’t seem to want him to get there, over that edge that would make it end.

 

“Come on…” Seokjin hissed to Jungkook’s asshole, as if it was solely to blame. “You’re so close, I can smell it.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes popped open. What could he smell, exactly? He felt his ears burning, and he crumpled the dirty wet wipe in his fist as everything under Jin’s hand got wetter and more slick.

 

The knock at the door made Jungkook whimper quietly, and Seokjin’s hand stiffened around his member as they both stared at the door.

 

“Seokjin? Jungkook?”

 

“Yes?” Seokjin called, surprisingly calm sounding for the position they were in, looking like he was fighting to pull something out of Jungkook’s ass, his hips pressed against the bare buttocks as they were arranged on the wooden chest.

 

“What’s going on?” The skepticism and curiosity burning in Taehyung’s voice was certainly a dangerous one. The door handle jiggled.

 

“We’ll be down in a minute, Taehyung, okay?” Seokjin added a hollow-sounding giggle, and Jungkook guessed he was trying to make it sound like they were, well, cuddling or something. Which was pretty far from the truth, especially as Jungkook let out a little grunt as Seokjin continued his ministrations. Jungkook pressed his hand to his mouth and bit down on a bit of the skin at his thumb, trying to muffle his sounds.

 

“Are you coming?” Taehyung queried, even as Jungkook felt the edge slipping away again.

 

No, I’m NOT, Tae, and that’s the problem!

 

“In a minute,” Seokjin sing-songed, slotting his knee up between Jungkook’s thigh and rubbing up against his balls, making Jungkook choke on his hand with a jolt. They heard Taehyung’s footsteps on the stairs and continued. But when the edge slipped even farther away, Jungkook let out a noise of frustration, slamming his palm down against the edge of the chest, making his hand sting.

 

“It’s not--” Jungkook managed, finding his voice crackling. “It’s not working .”

 

Seokjin let out a sigh, finally pausing and resting against Jungkook’s back for a second. “We just don’t have time . You’ll have to finish after dinner.”

 

“What?!” Jungkook cried, absolutely devastated at the thought. He had hoped Seokjin would just make some excuse for them to not go downstairs, not skip the important part of this whole thing. “No! They’re gonna smell me!”

 

“Hopefully not. Here.” Seokjin wasted no time or romance in putting the condom on Jungkook. “Better be careful choosing your pants this time. And grab one of the scented pads you use for your heats, it might cover some of it up.” He tugged at Jungkook’s skirt, making it flutter down to his knees. He heard the Alpha give a regretful sigh, and he knew Seokjin didn’t want to stop here, either. He pulled out another wet wipe and gave Jungkook’s face another check.

 

“You’re really gonna let me sit through a whole dinner like this?” Jungkook complained around the smell of antiseptic. “I’m hard as a rock .”

 

Seokjin smirked, “Well, if you manage to get through dinner, I’ll make sure to take care of it properly later, okay?”

 

Jungkook pouted. How had he known exactly what to offer to get Jungkook to comply? “Fine. But they’re totally going to know. Taehyung probably already does.”

 

“Yeah, and you reek right now,” Seokjin sighed, wiping a little harder at the edges of Jungkook’s forehead, hurriedly trying to cover the places the Omega may have missed. “God, I just wanna…” the Alpha trailed off, his brow furrowing, and Jungkook stared up at him in wonder, curious as to what the end of that sentence was going to be. “Okay, get some pants on and take off that sweater, quick. Tae will be back any moment. So suck it up. Or rather, tuck it up”

 

“I hate your guts.”

 

“But you love my handiwork.”

 

Once Seokjin wasn’t wrist-deep inside of him, cleaning Jungkook up took record time, and once they were (haphazardly but appropriately) dressed, they went downstairs to find a full table of the pack sitting, waiting for them quietly. Yoongi was fiddling with something mechanical he had completely disassembled on the table, and judging by the half-broken mobile next to him, with its cute pastel-colored baby toys dangling from it, he was fixing it up for when Namjoon and Kiara’s pup arrived. At his side was Hoseok, half out of his seat as he dished out bowls of rice for everyone, and on his other side was Namjoon and Kiara, their hands clasped on the table and Kiara’s other hand resting on her swollen belly as they talked quietly and watched Yoongi work.

 

Closest to them was Taehyung, who was uncomfortably curled up in a ball in his seat next to Kiara, and Jimin sitting with his hands in his lap, not saying anything, curiously not sitting next to Taehyung, but Yoongi instead. Jungkook took the seat next to Jimin and Seokjin sat between him and Taehyung. The instant they sat down, Jungkook felt a tension rising in the air. Taehyung must have said something about how strange they’d been acting, locked in Seokjin’s room for hours, and it didn’t take a genius to figure it out. Hoseok only glanced over, his lips pinching into a tight little triangle of disapproving pink. Namjoon wouldn’t meet his eyes, and his shoulders seemed stiff somehow.

 

Kiara seemed to be the only one acting normal, smiling up at them as they sat down. Jungkook felt a surge of guilt, lowering himself down into the chair awkwardly and trying not to draw attention to his crotch area in general.

 

There you boys are! It’s about time, the food’s going to get cold.” She tilted her head to the side, soft red curls falling into her face. Her hair had gotten curlier recently since she didn’t have as much energy to style it, and Jungkook thought it made her look cute and softened. He offered her a little smile, taking the food Seokjin offered to him, barely glancing his way, all casual air as if this was normal.

 

Easy for him ; he wasn’t sporting a raging boner at the dinner table like some middle schooler.

 

“Yoongi,” Hoseok said suddenly, patting the Omega’s arm without looking directly at him, that pink triangle still firmly in place, showing that he was really, truly irritated. His voice was clipped despite the attempts to sound casual. “Don’t fiddle with that right now, we’re eating.”

 

Perhaps because he heard the tone of Hoseok’s voice, perhaps because he was ready to eat anyways, Jungkook wasn’t sure, but Yoongi removed the arrangement of baby mobile clutter as quick as lightning, sitting back down without a word of complaint. Dinner was strangely quiet this week, with only softly murmured phrases, mostly from Kiara and Namjoon.

 

Jungkook looked over mid-bite to see Jimin looking at him rather strangely. After a moment, Jimin’s nose wrinkled a bit, and Jungkook felt his heart start thudding in his chest. “What?”

 

“It smells funny in here,” Jimin commented candidly, “Like...I dunno? It’s a weird smell.”

 

“I don’t smell it,” Jungkook said quickly, shoveling another biteful into his mouth. Jimin jutted his lip out a bit, seeming confused, but then leaned in toward Jungkook’s ear to whisper into it. Jungkook felt his throat constrict, worried Jimin would discover the source of that smell. He didn’t know if Jimin would be fooled by him claiming it was a special new face mask.

 

“I think Taehyung is mad at me? Has he said anything to you?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Taehyung,” Jimin repeated quietly, his brows pressing inward in concern, his expression more than a little wounded. “Ever since his heat broke he says he doesn’t want me to touch him. But he says he’s fine? I don’t know what to do.”

 

“Hm. Maybe ask Jin?”

 

“Jin?” Jimin paused, considering Jungkook’s words, then his nose wrinkled slightly again and he nodded. “Uh yeah, I’ll try that.”

 

He moved to pull back, halting halfway back into his seat when Jungkook added, “He might just be in a bit of a mood, is all?”

 

“Yeah, maybe.” Jimin smiled, but the edges of it stopped at the corners of his lips, and didn’t travel up to his eyes, the effort a little too much of a stretch. “Thanks.”

 

“So, boys,” Kiara interrupted, poking at her salad with a soft smile. “Namjoon and I talked about it, and we think we’ve decided on some name ideas for the baby.”

 

“Oh?” Jimin asked, leaning forward with a smile. “Like what?”

 

“If it’s a girl,” she said gently, “Naiara. Benjamin after my father if it’s a boy.”

 

“Oh, those are pretty names,” Jin offered with a smile, clapping his hands a little to show his approval. At the clapping sound, Taehyung jumped as though spooked, and finally raised his hung head to glance at his older brother. He froze, his expression confused as he stared at Seokjin’s cheek.

 

“Yeah, I think so, too! Namjoon picked Naiara, since as you know, he’s so sure the baby is going to be a girl,” here she rolled her eyes, nudging against Namjoon’s shoulder as the Alpha beamed down into his plate, dimples deepening on both cheeks like a punctuation mark to the unsaid pride. “I picked Benjamin. Loser gets 10 get out of jail free cards to be used at any time to get out diaper duty.”

 

“That’s sickening and cute,” Yoongi commented, his expression deadpan, but there was a gleam in his eyes that Jungkook noted always seemed to appear when the subject of pups came up. “Speaking of which, I wanted to--”

 

There was a rough clatter of Hoseok’s cutlery hitting his plate, his expression pale as he stood up abruptly, earning surprised looks from all around the table. Jungkook withered a little as he could smell the irritation and anger that was sparking off of Hoseok like the time Namjoon had tried to microwave a fork, flashes of blue and white with a dangerous unnatural heat to it that hovered in the air.

 

“I’m trying to be patient and understanding,” Hoseok said stiffly. “I really, really am. But is everyone really going to ignore the fact that Jungkook reeks of sex right now? Really?”

 

No one answered him. Not even Namjoon had any words to respond with, as they all awkwardly stared at their plates and said nothing. Yoongi reached up, entangling his fingers with Hoseok’s limp, un-reciprocating ones.

 

“Babe,” Yoongi said quietly, “Just sit back down, please?”

 

“No!” Hoseok snapped, moving to pull his hand out of Yoongi’s unsuccessfully. “Seokjin only came back yesterday and they’re just...they’re already going to this ?! Aren’t you the least bit concerned?”

“But to be fair,” Jungkook found himself saying aloud, before he could filter his words, “I’ve been trying to get into his pants for months.”

 

He heard Seokjin choking on part of his dinner, and in all honesty, it was a satisfying sound to have one-upped him this time. Especially considering he was still hiding the worst boner of his life under the table at that moment.

 

“Jungkook!” Kiara snapped, her eyebrows knitted together as if spelling out the word disappointment in his behavior. “That’s no way to talk at the dinner table.”

 

“But everyone acts as if this wasn’t what I’d been planning on happening since my Presenting,” Jungkook argued back, leaning forward a little toward the table. He looked around the table at the faces around him, seeing none of them offering any support. “Seriously!? There are lots of Omegas younger than me who are already Mated, so why should it be--”

 

“What do you mean Mated ?!” Hoseok gasped, and Seokjin sent Jungkook a warning look.

 

“It’s not like that, Hoseok,” Seokjin said, and Jungkook could almost feel the way Seokjin was trying to soften his voice into more diplomatic tones to use with the wound-up Alpha. “I wouldn’t Mate with Jungkook this soon, but even if I--”

 

“Why not?” Jungkook jumped in, frowning as he looked to Seokjin for an answer. “What would be wrong with Mating me tonight , if you wanted to?”

 

Seokjin seemed to lose his bearings for a moment, sputtering and flailing about for a response. “J-Jungkook, I just got back, it would be better if we took things--”

Slowly ?” the Omega spat out the word - it tasted bitter on his tongue. Five minutes ago, Seokjin had seemed fine with taking things at a pace that was finally - finally - faster than a crawl. And now he was basically promising the entire pack that he wouldn’t Mate Jungkook until way down the road? It wasn’t fair. “I don’t understand why it would be better. I know what I want, don’t you?”

 

“W-well, yes, but--”

 

“Then where’s the problem?”

 

Seokjin paused, and the Omega turned to glare at Namjoon, Kiara, Hoseok and then finally Yoongi, the last of whom was watching Jungkook with a calmly calculated air.

 

“I’m not a child. I’ll respect Namjoon’s decision as lead Alpha but I don’t see why everyone else gets to dictate where and when I get Mated like they have some sort of authority over my--”

 

“That’s enough , Jungkook,” Seokjin hissed quietly, setting a hand on his forearm to calm him. Much to his chagrin, it had a much more profound effect than expected, as if the Alpha energy in Seokjin’s body was seeping through the points where his fingertips dug gently into the taut muscles of his arm, washing him with the acute awareness that he was probably feeling extra antsy because they had been interrupted in the middle of a rather intimate moment. Leaving things unfinished, especially when it came to being with his Alpha so soon after being reunited, would naturally make his mood sensitive.

 

And of course, then there was the fact that his groin was still throbbing wildly from not being satisfied before coming downstairs - that would make anyone a little moody.

 

Jungkook frowned, sitting back in his seat for a moment and considering. When Seokjin’s hand remained on his arm, sapping out the stressful way he had felt the need to defend them, Jungkook found himself paying careful attention to the soothing effects of Seokjin’s touch. Slowly, and with the heavy, weighted eyes of everyone on them, Jungkook gave a little whimper and leaned over to nuzzle into Seokjin’s neck. He just wanted to go back upstairs, back where he was ‘my Omega baby’ and had felt cared for and sheltered in their own little bubble of just being . He wanted Seokjin to relieve the ache, not only the literal one between his legs but also the metaphorical one in his chest that was depressingly tangible, the emptiness he’d experienced the entire time Seokjin had been gone, the emptiness he’d unconsciously been carrying around every day before they’d met.

 

He knew the others felt uncomfortable with the show of affection, unused to seeing it this boldly, but Jungkook didn’t care. He slotted his hands around Seokjin’s waist, feeling the heaviness of his arms as he didn’t return the gesture, didn’t embrace Jungkook back, and Jungkook buried his face in Seokjin’s chest. He could feel the uncertainty like a signal through Seokjin’s skin, could taste the surprised confusion.

 

“I’m just worried this is going too fast ,” Hoseok’s voice wafted through the room, now quiet but still strained and pulled taut like taffy. “Especially after this morning…”

 

“This morning?” Namjoon queried.

 

“Um, well, it’s just that…” Hoseok fumbled for words. Jungkook could feel his ears starting to burn, could smell the panic in the Alpha’s voice. Seokjin, unaware of what Hoseok and Yoongi had caught him doing, finally lifted a hand around Jungkook’s shoulders, rubbing a soothing circle into his shoulder blade that felt like it was shooting comfort right through Jungkook’s entire body.

 

“It’s just that this is the first real morning Seokjin’s been back,” Yoongi finished, “And they forgot to close the door to their room, so we heard some...things.”

 

Seokjin smelled of rising panic and shame, and Jungkook hated that smell on him - it lessened the effects of the comfort he was giving to the Omega, currently curled up awkwardly against him while they both sat at the table. Pressed in as close as he was, he didn’t see the way Taehyung was quietly leaning in towards his older brother, but he certainly heard Taehyung’s voice over his head.

 

“Seokjin...? Is that lipstick on your cheek?”

 

Both Jungkook and Seokjin froze in place, and there was a heavy clatter. Jungkook craned his head around at last to see Hoseok already halfway to the front door, Yoongi jumping up after him.

 

“Hoseok! Hoseok !” And then muffled from the doorway came a, “We’ll be back, just hold on a bit!”

 

The front door slammed, and Jungkook looked over, wide eyes and nervousness tearing at his chest as he first met eyes with Jimin, who was gaping up at Seokjin. The elder Alpha was frantically rubbing at the spot on his cheek that Jungkook should have spotted during their rushed cleanup, should have warned him about.

 

“You’re not…” That was all Jimin said at first.His voice dropped, solemn and testy. “You’re not cheating on Jungkookie, are you?”

 

Oh, god. Jungkook wanted to scream. He didn’t want to have to explain to everyone about the lipstick, or the skirt currently shoved underneath Seokjin’s comforter, or how soon or far in the future they Mated, or any of it.

 

“Of course he isn’t!” Jungkook snarled, the growl humming deeply in his chest as he unconsciously bared his teeth a little. “Why is everyone acting like they’re entitled to know every little thing that we do?!”

 

Jimin’s initial reaction was to be startled, blinking at the aggressive undertones, the defensive posture and tone Jungkook had taken on in a moment. Then his eyes flickered into traces of red. “Jungkook,” Jimin said, the single word a warning, and whether he meant to do it or not, Jungkook could hear and feel the Alpha’s commanding tone slipping into his voice, making him hard to ignore. Jungkook gave a petulant little “hmph” sound, leaning back in to bury his face in Seokjin’s shirt, still smelling a bit of Seokjin’s sweat and sex smell lingering there, intoxicatingly sweet.

 

There was a brief pause, and then Jimin let out a sigh. A small, familiar hand carded through his hair, careful not to push too hard and dislodge his face from the Alpha’s collar. The hand was admittedly soothing, and so was Seokjin’s cautiously continued circles rubbing into his back.

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin said, the gentleness of his usual tone slipping back in reassuringly. “We’re just worried about you. Both of you.”

 

The Omega’s head shot up, and he frowned. “Then stop acting like Seokjin is some perverted criminal, come to sweep innocent me off my feet!”

 

“Trust me, that’s no one’s intention here,” Namjoon cut in, voice calm and in control as he watched Jungkook over his clasped hands with a frown. “Hoseok is doing his best to come to terms with all of you pups growing up and Presenting so quickly. You’re like his own pups in a way, you know.”

 

Jungkook frowned, and Jimin’s hand in his hair slowed a little, shifting angles and brushing his bangs out of his eyes as he pouted, knowing Namjoon was right.

 

“Being an Alpha is not about aggression and offense, it’s about protecting the Mate, protecting the pack, sometimes at the expense of our own safety. Alphas, after Presenting, have to learn to channel their energy and time, to know what their Mate needs, and to learn how to fulfill that.”

 

Jungkook saw Jimin slowly nodding in agreement out of the corner of his eye, catching the mournful side glance that Jimin was sending Taehyung.

 

“And as an Omega,” Namjoon continued, “You have to learn to control your energy and hormones as well. Being an Omega is not about giving in to what Alphas want--”

 

Kiara suddenly piped in, finishing for him with, “It’s about being able to keep the peace within the pack, instead of protecting the pack from outside threats. You need to be the first one to control your temper, not wait for Seokjin to reign you in.”

 

Jungkook bristled at that, not liking the sound of it at all.

 

“Don’t give me that look,” Kiara reprimanded, her voice firm and as motherly as any Jungkook had ever had directed at himself. That was the tone that always had even Namjoon treading lightly, walking on eggshells around her. “You’ve got a temper on you as bad as any of the Kims, and you don’t have half the experience at controlling it amidst almost a dozen different wolves. Don’t you think, instead of getting defensive about Hoseok overstepping and getting too overprotective, it would have been more useful to reassure him that you were taking this seriously, and that he could let go because he didn’t need to worry in the first place?”

 

At that, Jungkook knew that Kiara had won this battle. He nuzzled his cheek against Seokjin’s chest, petulant and wanting more than anything to continue being uncooperative. “Maybe,” he admitted reluctantly, having no other out.

 

“And don’t you think,” Kiara said, more calmly now, with less of that trace of strain that made his hair stand a little on end, “Instead of getting angry and telling everyone you aren’t moving too fast, you could show it - both of you ,” she sent Seokjin a warning flash of her eyes, and Jungkook felt Seokjin jolt a little in his seat, “Could have shown a little more restraint before --”

 

“UGH!” Jimin suddenly screeched, pulling back from Jungkook and holding his hand out in front of his face, his eyes wide as saucers as he stared at the lump of sticky white liquid now trailed between his fingers. “What the hell is in your hair, Jungkook?”

 

Everyone at the table froze. Taehyung was the first to speak.

 

“Holy fuck,” he breathed in awe, “Jimin found jizz in Jungkook’s hair.”

 

“Oh my god! That’s so disgusting!” Jimin leapt up from the table, his face convulsing with a nauseated look as he raced out of the room yelling curses. Taehyung, in the meanwhile, was falling out of his seat with laughter, as the upstairs bathroom door slammed violently enough to echo through the house. Still hiccupping with laughter, Taehyung made his way up the stairs, heavily gripping the handrail so he didn’t topple back down.

 

Seokjin and Jungkook were practically on fire from the embarrassment, but despite himself Jungkook felt the edges of his lips quivering up into the slightest traces of a smile. Well, the whole goal was to make sure people knew Jin was my Alpha.

 

Across the table, Jungkook saw that Namjoon had turned a particularly nasty reddish purple color, and he briefly wondered if the leader was breathing properly. Kiara let out a sigh next to him, rubbing her temples with her forefingers as though to ward off a migraine.

 

“As I was saying ,”she exasperated, “You could have shown a little more restraint, both of you , before coming down to dinner with whatever bodily fluid Jungkook is reeking of right now. I don’t want to know, I just never want to smell it like this again, do you two hear me?”

 

Jungkook nodded, feeling Seokjin do the same.

 

Kiara sat back, resting her hands on her belly. “In all honesty, I don’t really care if you guys Mate tomorrow or five years from now, Jungkook.”

“Kiara!” Namjoon interjected.

 

“No, I’m serious. I know that you guys might as well already be Mated and with pups, for all you’ll waver. I don’t know if it’s Bonding or whatever, but I know when something is going to last, and I see that with you two. So I don’t care about that .” She rubbed her belly in little circles, as if it was soothing to her. “I just want you two to be appropriate about it. Don’t bicker with the other wolves, and try to be a little more conscientious as to where and when you’re having your one-on-one time, you know? After all,” she smiled sweetly, “If you come to dinner with Jin’s cum rubbed all over your face when my pups are waiting at the table, I won’t hesitate to beat both of you 10 ways from Tuesday. Got it?”

 

Jungkook blushed a deep scarlet, but he nodded. He had no doubts that she would make good on that promise, should the occasion arise.

 

“Now,” Namjoon entered in solemnly, his voice low, “Since our little meal was interrupted anyways, go get yourselves properly cleaned up. But come back down when you’re finished. We still have very important pack things to talk about.”

 

Seokjin nudged Jungkook off of his chest, and the two of them awkwardly shuffled back upstairs, leaving just Namjoon and Kiara sitting at the table. Jungkook’s climb up the stairs was notably more awkward, given that his crotch was still tightly wrapped in a condom and half-erect as he made his way back to Seokjin’s room, the Alpha gently shutting the door.

 

“I’m sorry, Jungkook,” Seokjn sighed, “I should have shown more restraint about this. I didn’t meant for us to just ignore the rest of the pack and get you in trou-”

 

“Shut up,” Jungkook said, with no malice to his words. Seokjin blinked at him in surprise, and Jungkook smiled, reaching up and winding his arms around Seokjin’s neck, bumping up against the Alpha’s jawline with his nose. “We’re not moving backwards, idiot. Kiara didn’t say anything about having less sex, just being more discreet about it, right?”

 

Seokjin worked his lip, mentally rewinding through the conversation. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

 

“And I shouldn’t have jumped in with that whole Mating thing on you so fast,” Jungkook said solemnly. “It was out of nowhere and honestly it was just because I was angry.”

 

“You know, it’s fine. I’ve been the one that was so wishy washy and I was the newcomer, so if they don’t trust me yet, I don’t blame them. I can’t rush them into believing in me when I haven’t had the best track record.” He looked up and smiled, trailing the back of his knuckles over the soft spots of Jungkook’s cheeks. “But I have every intention of proving to them that I can be a proper Alpha for you. That I’ll make you happy.”

 

“You already do make me happy, you sap,” Jungkook leaned up a little to press a kiss to Seokjin’s cheek, smirking. “Especially when you wiped your cum all over my face. That made me really happy.”

 

In response, Seokjin just threw his head back and moaned in exasperation up at the ceiling. “I’m so sad we had to end that so early.”

 

“Well, let’s get ‘finished up’ for now and get through this family meeting or whatever, and then tonight before we go to bed, you can finish things properly.” And without another word, Jungkook flopped down onto the bed, “Now get over here and take care of my dick, dick.”

 

“You know,” Seokjin laughed, crawling onto the bed to hover over Jungkook. “You’re much sweeter when you’ve got my hands up against your balls, hiking your cute little skirt up.”

 

“Shut the fuck up.”

 

~~~~~

 

The smell of oil and rubber stung at his nostrils as Hoseok stormed his way into the garage, picking up the stained rag he always hung next to the door and tossing it over his shoulder with an exasperated sigh. He knew this was him being ridiculous; he was the rational one, the calm one, the one that didn’t get worked up. But he’d known what that smell was the instant Jungkook had sat down at the table, had recognized the haphazard way the Omega’s hair lay. It wasn’t that he didn’t want Jungkook to grow up - that was a painful inevitability, the con that came with the pros of having a hand in raising him.

 

No, Hoseok wanted him to grow up. He just wanted him to do it slower .

 

He decided to take his frustration out in one of the few ways he knew how, stepping forward and kneeling in front of the halfway built motorcycle he’d been compiling in his spare time. When Hoseok had first started working at his uncle’s repair shop, he had hated it (what free-running teenager wouldn’t?), but his parents had been far too clever; with his energy diverted to a part time job that left him utterly worn out at the end of the day, he was successfully kept out of trouble for the latter part of his high school years. Then, over time, it had become convenient to keep the part-time position - flexible hours and consistent pay left freedom in the form of pocket money and, eventually, a little savings - and then he had found himself actually enjoying the work. There was something about the simplicity of knowing where each part went, of taking it off, greasing it and putting it back, replacing bits of the inside of things so the outside had a certain sound or effect or speed. There was something about the utter exhaustion of working on a vehicle for hours and feeling accomplished, feeling under control.

 

He was still carefully inspecting the teeth on a gear, considering whether it needed to be replaced or just repaired, when he felt Yoongi’s presence in the garage.

 

“Hoseok.”

 

The Alpha’s chest ached at the single word, at all the weight and understanding that lay concealed behind it. His knee-jerk reaction was to retort back, to give an excuse or at least offer a reason, but he knew that once he started, Yoongi would inevitably crush his emotional tirade with cool reasoning and logic, and he would feel stupid for it.

 

Perhaps Jungkook took after more than just Namjoon and Yoongi. He couldn’t help but smile a little at the realization, his lips pulled across his teeth tightly in indignation and a stubbornness that he wanted to outlast his moment of emotion, as if that would stabilize it as more valid. He didn’t answer Yoongi, bending down to replace the gear with a skilled hand that was already smeared and sticky with oil, grease and crud.

 

Meanwhile, he could sense Yoongi behind him, probably leaning with his arms crossed over his chest as he balanced against the hood of Seokjin’s pickup truck. He could see in his mind the way Yoongi’s shoulders would relax, his body becoming looser and appearing calmer, belying the fact that his mind was picking up speed, flying through the arguments he could choose until he came across the right one. It irritated Hoseok. He just couldn’t think like that - he couldn’t objectively choose his arguments based on the facts, only on what he believed was right. And quietly sitting aside while an 18 year old Omega jumped that quickly into a relationship with a much older Alpha? Even if it wasn’t Jungkook, he would have been concerned.

 

“He’s old enough to know,” Yoongi said, as if he could hear Hoseok’s thoughts. “And maybe he’s making a terrible mistake, but you’ve got to let him make them on his own.”

 

“This isn’t like letting a pup fall down when he’s learning to walk. This could be his Mate , Yoongi. And he would rush in head down without even thinking about it? He still sleeps under the fucking table, Yoongi!”

 

“Because he likes to, not because he has to. He’s grown up a lot,” Yoongi pointed out. Hoseok just growled in response. “And besides, Jimin Presented just a couple months before Jungkook. But you don’t even question him and Taehyung. What’s the difference?”

 

Hoseok sat back on his heels, frowning up at Yoongi. “You know why. I don’t want him to go what you went through.”

 

He could see the flash of emotion shiver in Yoongi’s eyes but he didn’t have the wherewithal to identify it with any clarity. “Seokjin’s not like that.”

 

“How do we know? I’m doing my best here, Yoongi. I’m trying to get to know him, to trust him, but...after this whole Jae thing came out, I’m even more worried. What’s to say Seokjin isn’t just looking - even subconsciously - for someone to replace what he had with Jae? What if Jungkook is just a replacement , a naive young Omega, who admires him so much...it would be tempting to anyone.”

 

“I knew him, back when he was dating Jae, Hoseok,” Yoongi said quietly, “We weren’t very close, but I knew him. And I didn't see the face of any of those Alpha assholes that came before you when I looked at him.”

 

Hoseok paused, meeting Yoongi’s eyes in question, and balled his hand into a fist around the filthy greaserag in his lap.

 

“I saw myself, Hoseok. He was miserable. You wouldn’t recognize him. He was a pair of shoulders and a gangly body built out of spite and self-loathing. That day he moved into the pack house, he looked like an entirely different person. He’s stronger now, he gave himself time to heal, and he’s trying to do right by Jungkook - as well as himself.” Yoongi pushed off the pickup truck and made his way over to Hoseok, folding himself down to crouch in front of him. “I wasn’t just automatically on board with this either, you know. I’ve had Jungkook since long before you, and I saw him back when he cried if someone looked at him too hard. But the great thing is: people can change. They usually don’t, trust me. But they can.” He reached out, running a hand to cup Hoseok’s cheek as he tilted his head to the side, looking so soft and comforting, and Hoseok could feel that distinct Omega aura calming him, saying your Mate is here.

 

Hoseok sighed. He was losing this fight. It felt like he always lost, even though he knew that was his heart remembering things in hyperbole. Yoongi made him weak like putty, hard like cement, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He laid his dirty, tanned hand over the pale, masculine one against his cheek. “You’re right. They can.”

 

“You raised him well, you know,” Yoongi said gently, smirking, “Namjoon and I are pretty good with understanding and such, but we’re shit when it comes to pulling him out of his shell. If it weren’t for you he’d probably still be living under the table and eating plain rice for breakfast.”

 

With a little roll of his eyes and a weak chuckle, Hoseok let his body finally relax. It was true. He knew when he’d first started dating Yoongi that one of the biggest obstacles they’d had to face was Jungkook. Yoongi had even joked about it on their second date, saying, ‘Sorry, I forgot to tell you I have a kid.’

 

Jungkook had hated him. He had flittered around the house like a ghost, glaring at Hoseok from behind every possible piece of furniture like he had a personal vendetta. He had been about to start high school, then, and he was copper-voiced and sleepy, unkempt and bitter. It was almost three weeks before he even heard the boy speak a word. He knew he talked - Yoongi told him the kid wouldn’t shut up, if he was talking about something he liked - but in front of Hoseok he was as silent as the dead, and Hoseok could just feel that child-like trained aura of don’t trust him . Jungkook had seen Yoongi go through bad relationships, had seen him controlled by Alphas who wore one hat until they could get close enough and then switched into monsters to get what they wanted. Of course Jungkook couldn’t trust Hoseok.

 

He wasn’t sure how it had happened or when, but he supposed patience and longevity had won the day, and eventually, Jungkook had started to reluctantly warm up to him. The first day Jungkook had curled up next to him on the couch, Hoseok’s heart had leapt up into his throat. The first time Jungkook had whined, padding on soft paws and nuzzling against the back of Hoseok’s knees, asking for comfort during his flu, Hoseok’s chest had imploded with happiness. Perhaps Jungkook had known that Hoseok needed to be needed, to care for someone. Perhaps Hoseok had just known that Jungkook needed someone soft and to be taken care of.

 

Once, Yoongi had started full-belly laughing at the table because Hoseok was berating Jungkook for not changing into a clean T-shirt before dinner, and then the pup had slammed himself into his seat, complaining back at him in a low voice.

 

Hoseok had blinked at Yoongi in question, and the only answer he had gotten was, “It’s like watching a parent and a pup. It’s cute.”

 

In the coolness of the garage, the Alpha leaned forward until his forehead rested against Yoongi’s shoulder, the raw smell of earth mixing in with the smell of oil in a lovely little mix of artificial and natural that he adored and loved to sink into.

 

“He’s going to be fine. He’s going to make lots of mistakes, of course, I’m sure he’s already getting a lecture on their little stunt at dinner, but...he’s gonna be okay.” Yoongi paused for a long moment, then leaned towards Hoseok’s face, brushing his bangs out of his face. “Okay?”

 

“Okay,” Hoseok nodded slowly, still feeling a dark weight on his chest. “But I’m not going to like it.”

 

Yoongi smiled, “No, you’re not.” He took Hoseok’s hand, “But we can rip off this Band-aid together.”

 

Hoseok finally smiled a little, his lips curling just slightly at the corners. He was grateful for Yoongi’s seemingly unending supply of patience in times like these. Without him even needing to ask, Yoongi gently reached forward, delicately running three fingers through Hoseok’s hair, pressing in against the scalp in a way that had him melting like butter, his eyes flickering shut. He hadn’t even realized himself that he was feeling so tense and had a headache - how had Yoongi known?

 

“You know,” Yoongi teased, “You always get testy right before your rut.”

 

His eyes shooting open, Hoseok’s mouth fell agape. “Oh, god, really?”

 

Yoongi nodded, “I can definitely smell it on you, and you act differently right before. But I’ve also been keeping an eye out for it.”

 

The Alpha paused, leaning his head back a little as he met Yoongi’s eyes in question. “What? Why?”

 

Instead of answering right away, Yoongi quietly shifted until Hoseok was seated comfortably on the floor, and then Yoongi proceeded to gently crawl into his lap, curling up against Hoseok’s chest in a way he rarely did, and which always told Hoseok he was feeling particularly needy. Without even having to think about it, Hoseok’s hands wrapped around Yoongi, one hand running up and down along his forearm in a comforting, intimate gesture.

 

“Yoongi?” Hoseok said, and when a full minute passed and there was no response from the Omega folded contentedly in his lap, he added, “We should really get back, the others are going to be wondering where we are.”

 

Shifting suddenly, Yoongi arranged himself until he was straddling Hoseok’s lap, and if the previous cuddling had been fond and familiar, this gesture was positively underlined with a sexual undertone, a sensuality in the way he snaked his arms around Hoseok’s chest, pressing his face into the Alpha’s neck and Scenting him deeply, tilting his hips forward to press into Hoseok in a possessive gesture.

 

“Hoseokkie,” Yoongi murmured, breathing hotly against the tanned skin of Hoseok’s neck, running his teeth and tongue over the swollen point of his Scent gland. “I also don’t intend for you to have a whole lot of time to worry about Jungkook and the others.”

 

At that, Hoseok arched an eyebrow that Yoongi couldn’t see, as buried as he was in Scenting him in that deep, nerve-curling way that whispered Mates . “Oh?”

“Yes,” Yoongi pressed a gentle, noisy kiss to Hoseok’s jawline, and he lifted his chin up to whisper in Hoseoks’ ear. “Hoseokkie. It’s time.”

 

Goosebumps actually raised up on his arms, excitement so thick in the air he could have sliced through it. “T-time?”

 

He felt a slight sting of pain against his earlobe as Yoongi nibbled down on it, tugging it back before the heat of his breath tickled at Hoseok’s ear. “I want to have your pups. When your rut comes, I want you to fill me with your cum until I get swollen with pregnancy. It’s time. For us.”

 

Perhaps it was the closeness of the rut, perhaps it was his learned sensitivity to the little waves and nuances of Yoongi’s body and breath against him, or the way Yoongi said it, but Hoseok leaned back and let out a long, low moan. “Oh my god. I couldn’t agree more.” He curled in to tuck his head in, placing heavy, rough kisses against Yoongi’s jawline. The Omega tilted his head to give Hoseok more access, as he greedily trailed a path, ending with a rough and sudden Scenting against Yoongi that made the Omega gasp.

 

“I’m going to breed you so hard you’ll remember it in your bones forever,” Hoseok exhaled, chuckling as he clamped his teeth down against Yoongi’s skin. Ever since their official Mating, he found himself wanting to mark Yoongi up, now that he no longer any fear of accidentally hitting his Scent mark, leaving himself free to nibble and bite and mark as liberally as he liked. When he dove back up from the depths of the Scenting, he found Yoongi with his face tilted back so far he faced up to the ceiling, his eyes shut and the softest Cheshire Cat grin, looking blissed out from just the Scenting alone. Without another moment’s hesitation, he jolted forward and caught Yoongi’s smiling lips with his own, their teeth knocking together like clumsy teenagers as Yoongi cupped his cheeks again, holding him steady there until they could almost feel the heat from their exhales, sweat starting to form on their brows.

 

“W-we oughta get back,” Yoongi managed to gasp, and Hoseok was unsure when exactly he had slipped his hands up Yoongi’s shirt to rub the edge of his fingernails against the nipples he found there, but from the look on his face Yoongi was enjoying it.

 

“Yeah, I guess we should.” It was with reluctance that they stood up, and Hoseok, still needing a little reassurance before going back in to face everyone, reached out and curled his wrist around Yoongi’s elbow. The Omega stopped halfway to the door, turning in place to face Hoseok squarely. Hoseok stopped, feeling the change in the atmosphere as it heated and warmed like an electric blanket. Yoongi reached up, cupping his wide, squarish hands on both of Hoseok’s cheeks, and smiled unabashedly up at the Alpha. He would make such lovely pups, would be such a good parent to them, and Hoseok’s chest actually stung and felt twisted in the most lovely, painful way at the thought.

 

“I love you,” Yoongi said.

 

Hoseok melted like ice cream under the hottest summer day, sticky and an absolute mess. “I love you, too.”

Chapter Text


 

“Sometimes in life, you do things you don’t want to. Sometimes you sacrifice, sometimes you compromise. Sometimes you let go and sometimes you fight. It’s all about deciding what’s worth losing and what’s worth keeping.”
- Lindy Zart


 

Taehyung followed the sound of running water and muffled curses to the main bathroom, finding Jimin already there scrubbing furiously at his hands with soap and water. Taehyung let his feet scuffle against the floor slightly, the noise soft; but it still startled Jimin as he turned with a little jump.


“Oh, Tae…” Jimin murmured, biting his lip for a moment before going back to his task. Taehyung leaned against the door, letting himself feel the headache-like pain that shot through his skull with just the sound of the running water in the bathroom.

 

“I don’t know how to react to this,” Taehyung said after a moment, fighting the amused smile that wanted to slip out in favor of a practiced wounded pup sort of look, “I just had to watch my boyfriend rubbing a handful of jizz out of another Omega’s hair.”

 

Jimin’s head whirled around so fast Taehyung wondered if he’d hurt himself, and shot the Beta an intense rebuking sort of glare that made Taehyung’s smile break out. “I didn’t know it was there! I--”

 

“I know, I know…” Taehyung’s arm twitched forward and he leaned off the door, his instinct to move forward and hug around Jimin from behind in comfort, to tuck his chin over the soft, small shoulder and let the Scent of peppermint coat the air around him. But he halted after a slight jerk in Jimin’s direction, opting to lean back against the bathroom wall. Jimin seemed to watch Taehyung, as if waiting for something, then he continued to wash his hands, although now with a marked stiffness to his movements. Taehyung chewed at the inside of his lip, crossing his arms and reveling in the weight against his sore stomach. “You’re gonna smell like my brother’s Scent for like a week, soap or not.”

 

Jimin crinkled his nose, but he knew Taehyung was right. He exhaled, turning off the water and grabbing the edges of the sink to lean heavily forward onto the cool white tile, his hands still dotted with droplets of water as a frothy little volcano of bubbles rested in the bottom of the sink.

 

“Tae,” he started slowly, quietly and in that breathy sort of voice that filtered through sometimes. “Did I...hurt you?”

 

“Hurt me?” He kept his voice neutral. He saw Jimin’s forehead crinkle in impatience and confusion, as if he wasn’t sure whether he was the one at fault or Tae was.

 

“Yes, during your heat. You seem like you’re angry about something and now...” Jimin’s voice got unbelievably small, as he looked up and met Taehyung’s eyes in their reflection. “You won’t let me touch you.”

 

Taehyung shifted, pushing off the wall. His back was already aching from the position. “I don’t want to worry you.”

 

Jimin frowned. “If I’m not the one to worry about you, then who is?”

 

“Me, I guess? I’m trying to figure it out, and you were already so stressed out because of my heat and worrying about Jungkook…”

 

“Tae, I…” Jimin sighed deeply. “I like taking care of you. I want to worry about you forever.”

 

“And then?” Tae said with a smile. Jimin cocked his head to the side.

 

“And then?”

 

“And after forever, are you still going to worry about me?”

 

Jimin smiled softly, and Taehyung felt like the pain eased up, even if just by a hair. “I’ll worry about you for forever and then some.”

 

“For forever and then some,” Tae sighed. They stood in silence for awhile, and then he added quietly, “You didn’t hurt me. I’m just working through some things right now.”

 

“That you can’t talk to me about?” Jimin turned around to face Taehyung, half-sitting on the edge of the sink and crossing his arms.

 

“That I can’t talk to anyone about, because I just don’t know how to word it yet,” Taehyung said. He hated this part, when he couldn’t explain the distance, the discrepancy between what his brain said and what verbal tools it offered him. It was like trying to speak in a language without knowing enough grammar to convey what he already felt he wanted to express, only able to offer a shallow outline of what he intended. But with Jimin watching him like that, the gentle sadness that swept over his face, he knew he had to try. Jimin was always trying. He hadn’t been exactly coherent through all the parts of his heat, but he remembered Jimin trying his hardest to care for him, and how safe he’d felt wrapped up in the Alpha’s presence. He had to try. “It’s like...you didn’t do anything wrong but I’m so irritated . I just want to yell but there’s nothing really to yell about. I can tell it’s irrational but I can’t stop myself from feeling it. Then suddenly I’m not angry anymore. It’s just that everything hurts.”

 

“Wait, hurts? Like what kind of hurt?”

 

“Like...everything aches. The forks at dinner were too loud, and I’ve had a headache since my heat broke, and...I just feel awful.”

 

Jimin’s face crumpled as he considered this, and Taehyung could tell that his instinct was telling him to move forward and embrace the Beta, to comfort him in the best way he knew how - physical contact. But even just the thought made him feel overheated and miserable, like cuddling on the hottest, most humid day of the year. “Are you sick, maybe? Or is it because of the heat?”

 

Taehyung could only shrug. He felt so tired just doing that.”I don’t know. I was going to talk to Seokjin about it after dinner.”

 

“Isn’t Seokjin a little preoccupied?” Jimin said with a little snort.

 

The Beta tilted his head to the side a little, smiling even though the movement felt like he had just pulled a muscle taut. The trace of humor in Jimin’s voice told him that things were going to be all right - Jimin was one of those people that was good at understanding others, of moving with every muscle emanating a soft, pink sort of empathy like bubble gum. He reached out and took hold of the edge of Jimin’s sweater, pinching it between two long, tanned fingers as he met Jimin’s eyes. “Yeah, but I wanna hear what he thinks first. I think he’ll know what to do.” Taehyung licked his lips, feeling the dry sort of pull there as though he was parched. “Will you...go with me?”

 

Jimin’s expression softened, the tension dripping away from it like rain dripping down a windowpane. “Of course , Tae-tae,” Jimin slipped his hand into Taehyung’s, the delicate plushness of his Alpha’s hands feeling lovely with his own fingers intertwined. “I just wish you’d told me earlier, you know?”

 

“Sorry,” Taehyung mumbled. “And I’m sorry for earlier, when I shoved you off the bed when you were kissing my--”

 

“It’s fine,” Jimin said mildly, squeezing Taehyung’s hand. He reached up to cup Taehyung’s cheek with the other, and suddenly Taehyung caught a strong whiff of the lingering Jin Scent now coating Jimin’s left hand, and he actually gagged and started coughing.

 

“Oh god, that smells awful ,” Taehyung managed between coughs. “Holy shit.”

 

Jimin frowned, having dropped his hand immediately with a wide-eyed look of apology. “God…”

 

They looked at each other for a minute, the atmosphere a little coated in uncertainty, then started to laugh. Jimin’s laughter echoing through the bathroom, mingling with his own, made Taehyung suddenly grab him and pull him close, squeezing Jimin to his fluttering, strained chest and pulling the Alpha’s head into his shoulder, where Jimin froze in surprise. It hurt, when everything felt clammy and gross and on edge, an unsettling sensation like the annoying hum of a lightbulb in an otherwise quiet room, but Taehyung held him tighter, until Jimin finally relaxed against his chest.

 

“I was worried,” Jimin’s muffled voice came in a hot breath against his shoulder, “That you were regretting becoming my Omega, because of what your classmates are saying now.”

 

Taehyung halted a moment, caught in the realization that this was still a thing with Jimin, and he wondered if Jimin was ever going to really know what he meant to him. It was uncommon for a Beta to willingly become someone’s Omega, he had known that already. But hearing the snide comments and amusement, or even the innocently intended but still as stressful questions, the shocked commentary, had surprised him.

 

You became an Omega for him? What’s so great about him that you’d do that?’

 

‘Oh...so you’re an Omega now? I dunno, I just assumed you’d be an Alpha for someone.’

 

He had not known, however, that Jimin had gotten word. Once the rumors and questions had started, he stopped telling people that it was for Jimin - even though he knew that all of his friends and acquaintances already were well aware of his adoration for Jimin from the start. He’d made friends quickly, introduced Jimin to all of them, even reprimanded them when they shared any misgivings about the Alpha, defending him over petty things as well as bigger things. Jimin is amazing, he’s not stuck up, he’s just kind of shy about some things! Eventually, most of them had come around, and Taehyung had somehow blended together his social circles a little more with alacrity as the glue.

 

But he didn’t want Jimin to become hated again because of this, because he was an Alpha and because Taehyung had made the decision to become his Mate. There was no reason for him to be ashamed or feel sorry for that, and Taehyung wasn’t sure of how to teach Jimin that. Taehyung was used to being hated, but it wasn’t as if he was wishing that likelihood onto his Alpha.

 

“If those people talk shit about it, they don’t know us at all,” he said slowly, “And if that’s the case I don’t wanna hang out with them anyways. You’re my Alpha, I was hoping you’d be an Alpha.”

 

Jimin pulled back a little, blinking a bit in obvious confusion. “Really? But...why?”

 

Taehyung shrugged, then regretted the movement in the little throb of pain that shot up and down his back like a lightning bolt. “I dunno. I guess I just feel like if you’re my Alpha, I don’t have to worry. We’ll take care of each other and I know you’ll protect me without even questioning it. I also wanted to have your pups one day, of course.”

 

Jimin chuckled, his smirk tilting to the side. “Taehyung, sometimes I’m just amazed by you.”

 

At that, Taehyung leaned in so that his mouth was next to Jimin’s ear and he whispered, “It also helps that I can’t wait to have your cute chubby dick up my ass.”

 

Jimin let out a long cry of, “Ahhh!” as he smacked Taehyung on the shoulder, making the Beta wince before he gently nudged him toward the door. “You’re adorable and insufferable.”

 

“That’s a good combo.”

 

“Let’s just go and finish dinner,” Jimin reprimanded, his adorable mothering voice slipping back in to cover up the visible embarrassment that reddened the Alpha’s cheeks. “You should eat properly, and then we can go talk to Jin together and find out what’s going on.” He wasn’t sure when it happened, but their hands entwined again as they stepped out into the hallway, and Taehyung gave Jimin’s small hand a squeeze to comfort himself, even though he already felt sweaty and gross from the contact.

 

“Okay,” he murmured. “Thanks.”

 

“Of course,” Jimin perked up, smiling at the Beta. “I’m your Alpha, after all.”

 

“Even if you reek like Seokjin and Jungkook right now,” Taehyung wrinkled his nose, and Jimin almost smacked him again, barely remembering and choosing to just let out a cute whining sound.

 

Slowly, Jimin’s laughter faded, and he tilted his head to the side as they walked downstairs. “So it smells like both of them to you? I can only smell Seokjin’s Alpha Scent…”

 

“Yeah, maybe it’s because I’m over-sensitive right now,” Taehyung hummed, “But it smells like both of them for sure.”

 

“Huh,” he said as they both entered the dining room, and Namjoon and Kiara glanced up at the two. “That’s weird…”

 

Namjoon glanced casually at their clasped hands before arching an eyebrow. “What’s weird?”

 

“Oh, it’s just it’s like Seokjin and Jungkook’s Scents are kinda...blended?” Taehyung said slowly. “I can smell both of them on Jimin now.”

 

This observation made Namjoon shoot Kiara a strange look, and his brow crinkled. “Blended? Like they just Scented?”

 

“No, more like… I dunno. It’s just blended . Like I can easily pick both of them out but they’re definitely together.” Taehyung wanted to give another shrug but instead opted to just collapse into one of the chairs, carefully pulling his legs up onto the seat and curling up. The pressure on his own stomach made it feel a little less sore and like his entire abdomen was freshly churned jjajangmyeon.

 

“Joonie,” Kiara said with a trace of warning in her voice, a dash of concern, “Don’t.”

 

He leaned forward to add something to her in an undertone, but she held up a hand.

 

“No, you can’t expect to solve every mystery and deal with everything that happens between those two. I already told you, they deserve their own privacy on some things. So let it go and just trust in them.”

 

Namjoon gave a sigh, as though he already knew.

 

By the time the other four made it back to the table, Jimin was practically spoon-feeding Taehyung, leaning in close and whispering little encouragements and begging him to just eat a little more. Taehyung did try, but the mere thought of food was making him gag and feel nauseated. The others were sending them questioning glances, but Jimin continued. He wanted Taehyung to feel better, and he wasn’t sure what to do about it, able to sense the underlying tension in Taehyung’s Scent. It made him want to bury the nagging feeling of powerlessness. All he could do was be patient and try to stay positive for the Beta.

 

“Now that we’re all here,” Namjoon started, looking around. “I’d like to discuss a few things with you all as a pack.”

 

Jimin looked around the table. He noticed that Seokjin and Jungkook looked noticeably more relaxed (and cleaner) than they had earlier, with their hair still wet and clumped against their foreheads post-shower, but Jungkook still continued to shift occasionally until he was sitting closer to the Alpha, as though he was in need of a little reassurance. Seokjin, however, didn’t seem to be noticing the wolf’s silent call for attention, focusing on his food and the fact that Namjoon was talking. Seokjin bore an unreadably, passive expression on his face that Jimin could see was making Jungkook pout in petulance, unused to being ignored. Jimin smiled a little. Now you know how it feels, he wanted to tease.

 

Hoseok and Yoongi, Jimin noted, were holding hands and saying little, and Hoseok kept looking over at Yoongi when the Omega wasn’t looking, a soft, emotional sort of look that Jimin could feel the warmth of even from his own seat. It was a look of pride, he supposed, of gentleness at a level he couldn’t understand. Things were happening but they were hovering beneath the surface of the conversation, like an ondol, the heat emanating from the floorboards to offer its comfort without the directness of a declaration. Jimin was pretty sure he liked it, the way Hoseok stole glances at Yoongi, the way Kiara’s presence and very aura seemed to blend in with Namjoon’s, the way Jungkook sat leaned in towards Seokjin awkwardly, subconsciously, while they ate.

 

“First of all, I’m happy to say that we’ve cleared the schedule and checked in with the doctors about going out to the island for Taehyung and Jimin’s Mating in a couple of months, as well as for another hunt. And everything has been given a stamp of approval”

 

Taehyung’s Scent lifted, then, as though excited, and it was the brightest his eyes had been all evening. Jimin smiled, glancing over at Seokjin just as Namjoon explained, “Since Kiara will still have another month or so left before the birth, it’s less risky to go then rather than if we were to wait any longer. But I promised them they could Mate in the spring, and they chose the end of May.”

 

“We’ll be Mated,” Jimin breathed, “On a spring day.”

 

“That works out for me,” Seokjin said, sending the two of them a gentle smile as he scooped another half-bowl of rice. Jungkook bumped up against Seokjin’s shoulder, and was ignored again. Jimin wanted to chuckle when he saw the way Jungkook’s wide eyes searched Seokjin’s face for any trace of give, coming up fruitless.

 

“We’ll be leaving on the 26th, and we’ll come back at the start of June, maybe the 1st or 2nd, so everyone check your schedules, talk to your bosses - whatever you need to do.”

 

Kiara rubbed her hand up and down Namjoon’s arm, in a gesture that looked a lot like reminding, a little like giving strength, and a lot like warm domestic familiarity.

 

“Also,” Namjoon took in a deep breath, raising his eyes across the table to catch his older brother’s gaze, “I ran into Yunho this morning.”

 

Seokjin stiffened, his hand on his spoon tightening a little, his words chosen with careful particularity. “Oh? You did?”

 

“Yes. And it wasn’t a pleasant interaction, let me tell you.” Namjoon worked his bottom lip, biting it and sucking it into his mouth as he shook his head. “I respect Yunho in a lot of ways as a lead Alpha for such a big pack, but..his methods and mine are very different.”

 

“Well,” Seokjin said slowly, pausing to take a drink of his water before answering. Jimin saw Jungkook watching Seokjin drink mere inches away from his face, and he wondered who was thirstier in that moment. “He’s been through a lot of pressure, and the elitism the pack was started with was kinda… amplified by his background. In addition, because of the huge shift in pack loyalties at the time, many strong Alphas had to scramble for lead positions and organize a decent pack, and many of them weren’t really given the right information on how to care for an actual pack. I think Yunho fought fiercely for that position among all the competition, but he is missing a lot of perspective because of it. I always felt Yunho was very hard on himself because of that. Looking back, that’s probably why he handled things with me the way he did.”

 

“That’s probably true,” Namjoon nodded. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

 

“But anyways,” Seokjin set his glass down, and Jungkook’s eyes followed his hand. “What did Yunho have to say?”

 

“Who is Yunho?” Jungkook asked, staring up at Seokjin with curiosity. The Alpha finally turned to the younger, then, but his face was still that calm, cool image of self-control.

 

“Yunho,” Seokjin began slowly, “Is the lead Alpha of the Rising Gods, my old pack, and Jae’s current one.”

 

“Oh… What does he have to do with us now, though? Seokjin’s in our pack now.”

 

“Well,” Namjoon rubbed a hand across his face, his expression getting grim, “That’s why I called this meeting. I don’t do things the way Yunho does. I can’t just make decisions alone based on what I think we, as a pack, want, especially when it comes to your own happinesses. I may be the lead Alpha but we’re a team, here, so I want you to know that whatever answer you two come up with,” here he looked at Seokjin and Jungkook, “That as long as you are safe and happy, I’ll do my best to support you.” He paused for a moment, tapping his fingertips against the table in a quiet display of nerves. “Yunho offered me...well, a deal is what I guess you’d call it. He first wanted to know where Seokjin was. Jae was with him but he didn’t say much. I told him he was where he belonged - with his pack, and that was all I had to tell him. He said he’d heard about one of our new Omegas, and how he was one of the Jeons.”

 

“That’s what Jae said to me,” Jungkook added, “After he’d caught my Scent. He said my brother was in his pack.”

 

“I’m not sure whether that’s true,” Namjoon said slowly, his lips pursing together, “Or if Jae lied to you, or was unaware himself. But either way, they definitely made mention of that. And he said we should trade, for the benefit of both packs.”

 

“Trade?” Jimin queried, as Hoseok audibly gasped.

 

“Yes,” Namjoon said quietly, “As in, they would give us Jae to adopt into the pack, for Seokjin’s sake, as he suggested…” The lead Alpha gave a short pause before finishing with, “If we gave them Jungkook, to join the Rising Gods.”

 

“What?!” Taehyung cried out, pulled from his inner achy-shell into the forefront of the conversation. “No, we can’t!”

 

At the same time, Yoongi darkly growled, “No chance in fucking hell.” And Jimin let out a long whimper, looking worriedly over at Jungkook and Seokjin, who were sitting quietly and staring straight ahead at Namjoon. Perplexed by their quietness, Jimin looked over at Hoseok in a panic, only finding the Alpha’s face pale and his lips pinched tightly together, as though he wasn’t surprised, just drenched in silent fury.

 

But Namjoon just held up a hand, to quiet them all. “Listen, I know you all have strong feelings on this. Hell, I don’t even want to bring this up, if I’m being honest. Jungkook has been here for years, we’ve helped raise him. I’ve helped raise him. But this pack wasn’t formulated so I could make decisions automated without proper discussion. So, in all seriousness, I ask you two,” Namjoon frowned at the two wolves across from him, “What do you think about all this?”

 

Namjoon had barely gotten the words out when Jungkook jumped in with, “I’m staying with Bangtan pack. I don’t wanna go to another pack.”

 

“I understand that,” the Alpha nodded, looking visibly relieved, “But you should know, they promised that you would meet this brother of yours, whoever he is. But not until you join their pack.”

 

This made Jungkook pause, and he stared at the tabletop for a long moment. The tension in the air seemed to thicken, and Jungkook continued to glare down without blinking, his expression hardening with an inner debate they couldn’t hear. Kiara reached up and rubbed her hand up and down Namjoon’s arm, as though petting him, and looked genuinely worried for the first time that evening.

 

At long last, Jungkook raised his head, and he looked around the table at each of them in turn. When his eyes came to Jimin, the Alpha could see tears in Jungkook’s eyes, reflected in the lights, and he felt his chest clench.

 

“I’ve already met my brothers,” he said firmly. “I’m with them already.”

 

Jimin already felt the stinging at the edges of his eyes, and he heard Hoseok sniffling wetly. He wanted to jump up and embrace Jungkook, nuzzle lovingly into his Scent and let him smell what words couldn’t properly describe or express, but although Namjoon audibly sighed in relief, he was still sending Seokjin a heavy look.

 

Seokjin, who had been looking down at Jungkook, lifted his gaze to Namjoon. “I think you already know my answer, Namjoon.”

 

“That’s unnecessarily cruel of them, though,” Jimin said quietly, “Trading away Jae like he’s a baseball card.”

 

“It happens a lot in Noble packs,” Hoseok explained, still wiping at his tears, eyelashes fluttering wildly as he tried to regain control, “Particularly in the Elite Three packs, the criteria for members is really strict.”

 

“Most of the members had to go through, like, background checks and tests for months,” Taehyung added, his voice small next to Jimin and laced with sadness.

 

“Yeah, we were all surprised when they came to Seokjin and asked him to join,” Namjoon mused, lost for a moment in memory. Jimin turned to Seokjin, finding the Alpha blushing down at the table. “We shouldn’t have been, though, Seokjin was one of the best hunters, and his Scent is strong but very calming. “

 

“And Jae is a Noble, but an illegitimate one,” Seokjin added quietly, “The other pack members never let him forget that, once it came out.”

 

“Also, Rising Gods only picks beautiful members,” Taehyung offered, “And Jae is really handsome.”

 

“What?” Jimin shook his head in dismay, “What kind of pack picks its members based on looks?!”

 

Hoseok met Jimin’s eyes, and sent him the sad smile that reminded Jimin of a parent realizing how naive their child was, “Some packs are like that, Jimin. It’s just how things are with Nobles. The more elite you get, the more rules and expectations that come.”

 

“But that’s ridiculous,” Jimin sat back in his seat, utterly heartbroken at the prospect that some people wanting to join Rising Gods must have, at some point, been rejected based on their looks. “That sounds like...that’s just...that’s cruel . I’m actually glad I wasn’t born a Noble now.”

 

“And that’s just getting into the pack,” Seokjin said grimly, his chuckle hollow like a tree that had been burned out into a cavity, still alive but coated with char and emptiness.

 

“But now that we’ve established things a bit,” Namjoon continued. “We have the matter of Jungkook to discuss.”

 

“What about me?” Jungkook queried, tilting his head to the side, looking like a pup again for a moment.

 

“I deflected Yunho’s offer so I could talk to you two about it, but one of his pack members in no uncertain terms suggested that if we didn’t take the trade, they would come after you anyways.” Namjoon sat back, crossing his arms, “The way he said it made me wonder whether they know your brother or not, in all honesty. But it brought up an excellent point: you are an Unmated Omega, you’re known already for having a really powerful Scent, and you may be a Noble as well. This makes you not just a hot topic but a target , Jungkook.”

 

Jimin’s heart dropped to the floor.

 

“But I want to stay in Bangtan,” Jungkook reiterated, sounding impatient, “I already said that.”

 

“Even so,” Namjoon’s voice was gentle, patient, as he tried to explain. “If you were Mated by one of their pack members, that would be the end of it. I would have no authority when it comes to you anymore.”

 

“But...But Seokjin already Claimed me! I literally reek of him right now!”

 

“While that’s true,” the Alpha smiled wryly, “They may not care about that, Jungkook.”

 

That was when what Namjoon was suggesting seemed to sink in for Jungkook, and he sat back in shock for a moment. As long as there was only a Claim between Seokjin and Jungkook, even their Bonding, their relationship, was seen as impermanent, and verbal only.  A suggestion but not a promise, and something that could be overturned. All it would take would be finding Jungkook once in a vulnerable position, and Mating him forcibly, and he would belong to that Alpha.

 

“Th-that’s horrible,” Jungkook hiccuped, “This is so unfair.”

 

The older wolves didn’t seem to have anything to say to that, and they all stared at their plates in sober silence. Yoongi was the first to speak.

 

“It’s not fair,” he began, “And to be honest, Bangtan pack treats each other more equally than any pack I’ve ever seen, but in a way, that’s probably made it harder on you. As an Omega, I have rights in Bangtan pack. I have choice and power, and Mating isn’t possession, it’s a link between two wolves. It’s liberation instead of confinement. You belong to each other but you don’t own each other. But that’s not going to be the case in most places.”

 

“That’s because of Namjoon’s leadership,” Hoseok added, his voice low but brimming with warmth. “He’s given us a safe space.” All eyes turned to Namjoon, and Kiara smiled up at him with pride. The lead Alpha, a little taken aback, fumbled and his spoon fell off the table with a clumsy clatter.

 

“Anyways,” he managed after some low, incoherent mumbling, “Our focus right now needs to be on protecting Jungkook, until things cool down a bit with Rising Gods, or until some other solution comes.”

 

“Protecting Jungkook?” Jimin breathed, mostly to himself. The table was silent in that strangely uncomfortable way, as they all tried to think of possible answers.

 

“He shouldn’t be on patrol right now,” Yoongi said at last, “It gives him so many opportunities to get caught alone.”

 

“But that’s exactly what I’m training for,” Jungkook said quietly, “Being able to protect myself and others. I know how to stay aware of my surroundings if I need to, and we have our radios, I don’t want to just back out of my responsibilities.”

 

“I know.” Yoongi let out a sigh, sitting back in his seat to splay his box-shaped hands out on the table, “Okay, what if you arranged it so you had another officer with you? They’ve done that before, right?”

 

“Yes, but...what’s the point in me going if they have to make all those accommodations for me?”

 

At Jungkook’s response, gently and calmly stated, Jimin tilted his head to the side. Whether it was from the blowout from earlier that evening or not, Jungkook seemed different. More self-assured, less anxious. It seemed strange to Jimin, since it came with the presented danger to Jungkook’s safety, and he could only attribute it to the way Seokjin had quietly laid his hand on the table over Jungkook’s, rubbing circles into the back of Jungkook’s hand with his thumb as they sat close together.

 

The atmosphere altered, like a cloud that wafted through the room and back out again, and Namjoon leaned forward, the corner of his mouth quirking to the side. “He’s got a point, Yoongi. If he’s not able to perform duties like the rest, it’s probably better if he just isn’t there. At the same time, I don’t think you should feel like you have to shut yourself off like you’re under house arrest. But I want you to be extra careful, and I’d feel safer if you were with another pack member as much as possible.”

 

“At the very least please let one of us know where you are at all times you’re not in the pack house,” Kiara said gently.

 

“This is so unfair,” Taehyung said suddenly, still curled up tightly in his chair, his voice a deep mourning sound, “Why is it just Jungkook? It’s not like I have to be as careful.”

 

“In all honesty,” Namjoon said, “I’d prefer if you did the same. And Jimin as well.”

 

“What!?” Taehyung gasped, and Jimin’s mouth fell agape.

 

“This isn’t just some special treatment because Jungkook is an Omega, it’s also because he’s Unmated, and those are both things he can’t help, but the fact remains that it gives us a weak point where Rising Gods can gain some leverage.” Namjoon looked at the three youngest in turn.

 

“And what about Seokjin?” Jungkook asked, “He’s Unmated, too.”

 

“If they wanted me,” Seokjin said quietly, “They wouldn’t have offered Jae.”

 

Jungkook’s expression fell into a dark, unclear emotion. Jimin couldn’t imagine that that was particularly true, but he wasn’t sure why it didn’t seem to suit. Maybe it was his own bias, seeing Seokjin as such a strong Alpha, but he felt like he should tell Seokjin to be careful as well. But he didn’t have the words or the reasoning, so he could only sit quietly, resting his hands beneath his thighs.

 

“But…” Jungkook finally said, “How long do I - do we - have to do this?”

 

Namjoon looked sadly at the Omega, “I’m not sure. At least until this tension seems to die down a little between the packs. I think this came up now because they’d heard Seokjin came out of his pseudo-pilgrimage.”

 

“Namjoon,” Yoongi poked at the remaining food on his plate with some pensiveness. “Are we going to be alright on the hunt in May? The Rising Gods have the other half of the island now.”

 

“The other half?!” Seokjin leaned forward, “But what about the other two packs?”

 

“I ran into Yunho this morning, and Jackson was already going to meet with me this afternoon. He told me that the Locklears sold their land. To the Rising Gods.”

 

The table was suddenly thick with the Scent of panic and concern, and Jimin felt the edges of his skin prickle with anticipation and unknown fear.

 

“But the Locklears have had that portion of the island for like eight generations!” Seokjin exclaimed, “They have an entire burial ground on those lands! Even if they weren’t going to use it, there’s no way in hell they sold that piece willingly!”

 

Yoongi took in a sharp inhale, slowly letting it out, “So that means it’s just us, Jackson’s clan, and Rising Gods on that island now.”

 

Jimin bit his lip. He had never even met or been near one of their pack members as far as he had known, but just based on what the others were saying, nothing good could come of this. If they couldn’t go out to hunt on the island, they would have to go back to the public parks to do the bare minimum hunting, and they were already stressed with Kiara’s pregnancy, oncoming exams, and Mating plans.

 

“Namjoon,” Jimin’s voice was low and at first, he wasn’t sure if the Alpha heard him, but the little sound of acknowledgement encouraged him onward. “What are we going to do?”

 

The Alpha frowned. “I don’t know, Jimin. That’s why I called this meeting. It’s very important to keep our pack safe when hunting even in normal circumstances, but I want us to take this very seriously.”

 

Silence encompassed the table, and Jimin strained to think of some possible solution, some easier way out than constantly worrying about Jae and these imposing images in his head that could hunt them down at any moment like the most timid of game. He hated this. But of course, true to form, he hadn’t a single clue where to start, or even how to encourage. It was their Mating that everyone was going to the island for, primarily. He knew that moving the date would solve nothing, of course, but he still felt the traces of guilt tickling up his spine in a horrible fashion.

 

“We’ll have another pack meeting in a week,” Namjoon said after a sizable stretch of silence. “Until then, I want everyone to continue as normally as possible. Jungkook, we’ll talk later this evening about what to do about your patrol work, I’m sure we can figure something out.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Jungkook replied, with no trace of sarcasm in his voice.

 

“Remember, guys, this is not about any one in particular. This is about all of us.” Namjoon took hold of Kiara’s hand, squeezing it more tightly than Jimin thought he normally would, a somber look on the leader’s face. With none of the amusement or awkwardness of the first time he had said it, Namjoon murmured, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

 

“-Teamwork makes the dream work,” they chorused soberly. And if it were possible, Jimin’s heart clenched a little tighter. He looked around the table and saw Seokjin looking uncomfortable, with Jungkook at his side biting his lip as though he wanted to say something, but was deciding against it. Hoseok was staring darkly at his plate, deep in thought on something , with Yoongi at his side looking at him in concern. Taehyung leaned in slowly, until the edge of his temple rested against Jimin’s shoulder, and he let out the smallest whimper of complaint. The lead Alpha sat at the head of the table, his Omega with her arm threaded around his, and he looked stony-faced and withdrawn.

 

“Okay,” Namjoon started to push his chair back. “We can have the next meeting at--”

 

“Namjoon,” Hoseok interrupted suddenly, immediately drawing everyone’s attention. “I, um.. I know that I should be the last person to suggest something like this, especially given what happened earlier, but… I do have a suggestion to make. I know it’s the obvious answer here, but no one wants to say it, and that’s probably because of me, at least in part.”

 

“Hoseokkie…” Yoongi breathed.

 

“I think the best way to protect Jungkook,” Hoseok said firmly, meeting Namjoon’s eyes with a straightforwardness and self-emanating power that was rare coming from the gentle Alpha. “Is to let him and Seokjin Mate as early as possible.”

 

“W-what?!” Namjoon gasped, and Jungkook let out a strange strangling sound, his hands suddenly gripping at Seokjin’s shirt desperately.

 

“I love my pups,” Hoseok said quietly, looking over at Jimin and Jungkook in turn, “And I’ve always wanted to do what’s best for them. I’ve seen firsthand what trading and messy Mating threats like this can turn into, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, much less them . And maybe I don’t like the speed at which things are going for these two, but...simply put, the best way to protect Jungkook from being taken away by some other Alpha we don’t know and losing him forever, would be to let him Mate Seokjin.”

 

It was at this time that Hoseok turned, and he locked eyes with Seokjin for the first time that evening. Seokjin met his gaze back question, but a strange sort of calmness to his aura. It was as though they were wordlessly communicating by eyes alone, and it was a long moment before anyone spoke.

 

“I’d rather Jungkook be with someone he cares about and trusts than him get taken away from us and forced into a pack he doesn’t want to be a part of.” At long last, he broke gaze with Seokjin, turning to Namjoon and standing up slowly. “That’s all I have to say. Excuse me.”

 

And for the second time that evening, Hoseok left the table first, with Yoongi following close behind. But the atmosphere was entirely altered, like fire to water, storm to calm. Hoseok’s footsteps were gentle as he went upstairs, and the door shut with a gentle click

 

Namjoon looked over at the rest of the table, looking utterly taken aback. “Um… So I think that was kind of a lot for everyone to grapple with tonight. Let’s consider Hoseok’s suggestion but, ah...everyone take some time to think about it and we’ll sit down again tomorrow to talk about it some more, okay?”

 

There were some half-hearted nods, and Jimin watched as everyone else got up from the table, until it was just Taehyung and himself left.

 

“I’m gonna be sick,” Taehyung said quietly, sounding like he was about to start weeping instead. Jimin reached over and gently traced his finger down Taehyung’s arm in soft comfort. “If they let Jungkook Mate early, they’ll let us Mate early too, right? It’s not fair if he gets to go first.”

 

Jimin allowed himself a little smile at that, tracing his finger down once again. “Maybe, I’m not sure.”

 

“They gotta let us go first,” Taehyung complained, his eyes shut as though he was going to fall asleep right there at the table. “If Jungkook Mates first I’ll never hear the end of it.”

 

Jimin looked up at the empty table, and let out a little sigh. He couldn’t believe that Hoseok , of all people, had been the one to suggest the Mating, even though now that he thought of it, it was the most obvious, simple answer. Now, whether or not that was what was going to happen, he wasn’t sure. He had Taehyung to worry about first, as much as his mind was pulled multiple directions, wanting to reach out and tend to everyone, he could only do a little bit as he was now.

 

“Tae-Tae, what are we going to do?” The words were exhaled in one long puff, as if he could breathe out everything that was cumulating in his chest.

 

Taehyung made no answer.

Chapter Text

 

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

― Lao Tzu 


 

 

The gentle sounds of Jungkook’s breathing was a soft lullaby in the lull of the cool spring evening. Seokjin shifted a little on the couch, careful not to dislodge the Omega who had curled up into his lap after dinner for a cuddle, excitedly rambling on about how they could probably Mate as early as the following weekend if Namjoon gave it his stamp of approval. The Omega hadn’t been there twenty minutes before he had gone from jittery energy to suddenly dropping off to sleep with Seokjin’s hand running through his hair, obviously worn out from the events since Seokjin had gotten home - not the least of which had been quite physically demanding. Seokjin was glad Namjoon had given them time to go clean up before rejoining the dinner - it had let him get a little proper aftercare in after letting Jungkook finish, but it was still quite a bit to wind down from.

 

Technically speaking, Seokjin was studying a medical journal he’d been assigned for homework, but in all honesty, he had been staring at the same page for almost twenty minutes, his mind more on the Omega in his lap. Jungkook’s nose wriggled a little in his sleep, and his leg jerked a bit as though he had been startled; he was dreaming of a hunt, probably. Seokjin lowered the journal, watching Jungkook sleep. In books he always read that people looked more child-like in their sleep, but to him Jungkook looked older in a way - strong angled jaw, his wide, emotive eyes shut to the world and merely framed with a line of dark eyelashes, mouth open as he snored lightly. While still soft and sweetened, the ways that made Jungkook appear the youngest - the wide eyes, the goofy smile, the gleam of playfulness that sometimes wriggled and writhed in barely contained excitement beneath every muscle - was hidden under a layer of sleepy neutral-aged warmth. His head lolled off to the side, nearly draped off the opposite side of Seokjin’s legs, his neck lying exposed. That realization made Seokjin pause, his hand moving to delicately brush long fingertips against the vulnerable skin there, stopping for a moment against Jungkook’s unmarred Scent gland at the base of the neck.

 

Omegas didn’t just sleep so vulnerably like that.

 

The fact that Jungkook had was another little sign of his affection and trust in Seokjin. The Alpha traced his thumb along the swollen patch of skin, the hint of leather and ocean wafting up as he did so. Seokjin wondered if he should be having doubts, if he should be worried about the prospect of Mating Jungkook so quickly, so soon, so rushed. He wondered if he should be as nervous as he had been the day Jae had gone to ask Yunho if he could Mate with Seokjin. But looking down into Jungkook’s face,  he didn’t feel any inclination whatsoever. He just felt like he was home.

 

Jungkook snorted a little in his sleep, sniffing suddenly quite frantically. He nuzzled in toward Seokjin’s waist, burying his face in what Seokjin knew was the residual smell of their shared sex Scent that hung around both of them. The Alpha smiled, then was jolted in surprise when Jungkook pushed his face roughly against Seokjin’s crotch, still fast asleep.

“Aw, fuck no,” Seokjin mumbled, nudging Jungkook’s face away, silently mourning as he did so because it had actually felt really good. In the meanwhile, Jungkook seemed to quiet again, so Seokjin picked up his medical journal and continued to read. He was only another paragraph or two ahead of where he had been before when Jungkook started kicking a little, one hand flapping uselessly up in the general direction of Seokjin’s waist as the Omega sniffled and whined. Seokjin chuckled, rolling his eyes. He was definitely dreaming of a hunt. It was extremely cute, and the Alpha sat for a few minutes watching Jungkook, amused by every sudden jerk and then laughing when he tried to bark in his sleep, his human mouth framing the sound with not nearly as much intimidation as his wolf one would have. Seokjin watched the pale pink little mouth, parted and slightly panting with excitement. Jungkook’s cupid’s bow curled up into a tight little angle, as though it had been drawn at the edge of a sharp penknife.

 

You can just touch it, you know, Seokjin thought at himself, Instead of always just staring at him, hoping and wondering. It was something he had to remind himself of, that he had been given this right by Jungkook himself. That the waiting and the pining had finally ended.

 

Seokjin reached out one tentative finger, brushing the tip against the top V-shaped curve at the top of that upper lip and pressing in slightly. It was, of course, as soft and pliant as he remembered, and he ran his fingertips back and forth over the skin there.

 

To his surprise, the still unconscious and apparently sensitive Jungkook started working his lips fretfully in his sleep, letting out a little sound that vaguely resembled a sigh, mouthing at the fingertip as if it was offering him a delicious alternative to his rest. Seokjin stared, then, fascinated, pressed his finger in a little more firmly to Jungkook’s mouth. The next moment, the skin all across Seokjin’s body prickled to life as Jungkook’s mouth suddenly encompassed his finger with a slight wet sound.

 

“Fuck,” Seokjin breathed, as Jungkook started suckling in his sleep. “You sexual little deviant.”

 

He stared at Jungkook’s sleep-softened face, pink lips wrapped around the tip of his finger, and he could almost feel that the Omega was on the edge of waking, when suddenly there were footsteps and Seokjin hurriedly pulled his finger away with a little popping sound, wiping his finger off on Jungkook’s shirt.

 

“Seokjin?” Jimin said quietly, slipping into the living room as if he knew what he was walking in on. When he saw Jungkook was asleep, he seemed a little more relieved, and waved Taehyung in after him. “Can we...talk to you about something?”

 

“Mm? Of course, sure.” Seokjin immediately set aside the medical journal that he had specifically not been reading. He was starting to honestly question whether Jungkook was really asleep or was just pretending, and he could tell from the way Jimin and Taehyung shared a silent look that this was something private. “Do you want to go to my room to talk, or--?”

 

“No, here should be fine,” Jimin said, then immediately touched Taehyung’s arm, leaning in close and whispering, “As long as you’re fine with it, I mean? It’s Jungkook, so…”

 

“I mean, I’m fine as long as you don’t care,” Taehyung shrugged. Their inconclusive banter continued back and forth for almost a full minute before they both concluded that it wasn’t that big of a deal if Jungkook overheard, and the two sat down near Seokjin with an awkward sobriety.

 

“So what’s up?”

 

“Well,” Jimin started, looking over at Taehyung with that concerned, surveying expression. “Ever since Taehyung’s heat broke, we’ve noticed some things are...off? Like I noticed he hasn’t wanted me to touch him, and he’s been kind of moody.”

Taehyung shot Jimin the first direct look since they had entered the living room, bristling at being called moody. Now that he thought about it, Seokjin realized they weren’t even sitting up against each other, shoulder to shoulder, like they normally would have. And Taehyung had a little pallor to his cheeks that was as uncharacteristic as could be.

 

“Are you not feeling well, Tae?” Seokjin asked, his hand going back to pet through Jungkook’s hair without realizing it.

 

“I feel horrible,” Taehyung finally mumbled in a deep-throated whine. “I’m all hot, and everything feels on edge and even sounds hurt.”

 

“Like a migraine?” Seokjin worked his lip, biting lightly at the inside of his cheek in thought. “Have you been drinking plenty of water? Did the heat actually break for sure?”

 

“Yeah, I have. It doesn’t feel like the heat did.” Taehyung let out a sigh, as though he had been plagued with a thousand asinine questions out of the blue. “This is a weird, different kind of heat. And I’ve had a headache since it broke, and I just wanna punch things.”

 

“Hmm…” Seokjin sat back a little, rubbing one finger along the underside of his chin. He felt the slightly rough catch there of a spot he must have missed shaving that morning. “Do you have any other symptoms? Warped vision? Dizziness? Fatigue? Irregular bowel movements? Bleeding? Stomachaches?”

“My, my stomach kind of hurts,” Taehyung murmured quietly, laying a hand on his lower abdomen. “But other than that, not really. It’s hard to focus my eyes sometimes but I think that’s because of the headache.”

 

“Well,” Seokjin leaned over a little, patting Taehyung’s knee lightly, “The good news is I think I know exactly what is wrong with you. The bad news is, you’re probably not going to like the answer.”

 

“Oh god,” Jimin gasped, “Did I hurt him?”

“No,” Seokjin smiled, a little wryly, “Well, in all honesty, you did do something . Taehyung is experiencing symptoms from his hormone shifts, is all. I was a little worried because he had his heat so fast after his Presenting, since it usually takes longer for a Beta to switch. This means that in all likelihood, Taehyung is just naturally very sensitive to Omega hormones.”

 

“I always knew when my friends were going to be Omegas,” Taehyung added quietly, his brain whizzing through this new information. “And I knew Jungkook was Presenting before anyone else did.”

 

Seokjin glanced down at the sleeping Jungkook, nodding. “That’s true. It also doesn’t help that you got an Omega hormone bath recently.”

 

Jimin flushed, staring down at his lap. “I’m sorry, Tae-Tae… I really made it worse, didn’t I?”

 

“No,” Taehyung said, nuzzling gently against Jimin’s cheek with his forehead, wincing as he did so. “You made it better. It hurts, but this means I have lots of Omega hormones. Right, Seokjin?”

 

“Yeah, it does,” Seokjin smiled, albeit a little sadly. “But it’s a lot for your body to handle. You’re probably going to be miserable for quite some time, to be honest. Continuing mood swings, severe cramps, headaches, sensitivity. Your Scent will probably act strangely, too.”

 

Taehyung moaned. “I just wanna hug him.”

 

“You can hug me,” Jimin said quietly, “Just do it at your own pace, I won’t move unless you tell me to.”

 

Taehyung let out a high-pitched whimper, and slowly, gingerly laid his head in Jimin’s lap. Jimin smiled, watching the boy sigh against his knee. They were now almost a mirror image of Seokjin and Jungkook.

 

“Seokjin, is there anything we should do? There has to be something that can help him feel a bit better?”

 

“Well,” Seokjin hummed in thought. “Most people in this situation go to a specialist and get a prescription for a suppressant.”

 

Taehyung reached over and grabbed hold of Jimin’s hand, laying it softly into his hair and nudging it around until Jimin figured out that Taehyung wanted him to rub at his hair in little spider-like motions, massaging gently at the scalp. Taehyung’s brow furrowed, tense and stressed by the sensitivity, but he didn’t ask him to stop so Jimin kept going until Taehyung seemed to become a little more adjusted to it.

 

“A suppressant?” Jimin worked his lips in worry. “I dunno, I don’t like that idea at all… But if it makes him feel better, than maybe--”

 

“No suppressants,” Taehyung mumbled, half-muffled by Jimin’s thigh. He tilted his head until his mouth was clear, then met Seokjin’s eyes. “I want to have pups as soon as possible. If I’m on suppressants there’s no way I can get pregnant.”

 

Seokjin’s expression fell, even as his heart clenched happily at the thought of Taehyung finally getting the pups he had dreamed and gushed about since he was a tiny pup himself. “I understand that, Taehyung. But I don’t think you know how miserable you’re going to be. You should keep your mind open to the possibility of at least having the suppressants available as backup. There are also low-end intensity ones which you could start on, and they would be easy to wean off of, if you decide you’re ready.”

 

When we decide we’re ready,” Jimin said firmly, obviously having discussed this at length with the Beta and been assured of their decision.

 

“We already are ready,” Taehyung protested. “I don’t want chemical suppressants fucking up my insides more than they already are.”

 

Seokjin nodded. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard someone say that about suppressants, and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last. The stigma surrounding the hormone controllers was certainly a negative one, if anything. “Well, in that case, there are some other options, although they’re not as good.”

 

“Like what?” Jimin ran his hand through Taehyung’s hair, making the Beta suck in a sharp breath through his teeth as though it pained him.

 

“Well, as difficult as it is, the best way to level out a severe hormone imbalance like this is to get pregnant,” Seokjin started, a grim smile on his lips. “Of course, that’s not an option right now. The second best way is Mating, which should be sooner than expected, but exactly when is still uncertain for the time being.”

 

“Ohhh…” Jimin breathed, “Mating would help? Because of the hormones involved?”

“Yeah, it’s kind of like a huge slap of the reset button,” Seokjin said, petting Jungkook’s hair. “But that’s not an option right now , so in the meantime, I can get some natural supplements and some herbal teas that should help alleviate the symptoms. Ironically, it’s probably best if he can stay as close to you as possible, even though he’s probably really sensitive to your... everything Alpha right now. Once he gets over the hump of it, it’ll go back to being a comfort.”

 

Seokjin was distracted momentarily by the idea of Jungkook, coming to ask him cutely about pups and their future together, imagining him whining at Seokjin about his stomach aching, seeking comfort in the Alpha’s lap. His hand brushing through Jungkook’s bangs, he didn’t see the look Taehyung sent Jimin, or the way Jimin bit at his lip, nodding slowly.

 

When the older Alpha looked up, he sent them both a fond smile. “I’m happy you two are progressing. I know it’s hard to have patience sometimes, but it’s all for the best for your future Mate, right? So take care of each other well.”

 

“R-right,” Jimin said, now practically gnawing at his bottom lip.

 

“It’s difficult, to get to that point where you feel comfortable with each other completely, right?” Seokjin was now halfway focused on himself and Jungkook, rather than the younger two, and he couldn’t even find it in himself to feel anything but amused at that. “It takes time to build trust and to find out what your Mate is going to need from you, and just as importantly, what your Mate can offer you in return, right?” He brushed his thumb across the apple of Jungkook’s cheek, earning a quiet little snore from the Omega in response. “And I hope you two aren’t angry at the possibility of us Mating before you. I know you two have been together longer than us and all, but…you understand, right? It’s for Jungkook’s safety.”

 

“Yeah, I get it,” Jimin said quietly. Taehyung frowned, his bottom lip protruding in a pout. “I know you’ve given up a lot to be with him, and with us.”

 

At that, Seokjin smiled. “Not at a--” There was a little clattering sound, and the three of them looked up to see Hoseok coming downstairs, wearing just a pair of striped pajama pants and scratching at his bare chest. He glanced their way somberly before stepping into the kitchen.

 

Pausing a moment in awkward hesitation, Seokjin looked back over at Jimin and his questioning eyes, and he tried his best to smile. “Not at all, Jimin. I don’t feel like I ‘gave up’ anything to be with you guys, or with Jungkook. I walked away from a lot of things, yes. But that was for myself. I came to Bangtan pack because of all the things all of you could give me, and I stayed because I want to find a way to give back. If anything, being with Jungkook feels like a lovely selfishness. So I want to grow stronger as an Alpha, and be smarter, and healthier.”

 

Jimin met Seokjin’s eyes for a long moment, and he nodded. “I wanna be a stronger Alpha, too.”

 

Seokjin smiled, his eyes wrinkling at the corners in a matured sense of noble pride. Jimin leaned down into Taehyung’s face, kissing the boy’s temple and whispering for them to go back upstairs and nap a little more. Taehyung complained but eventually managed to get himself off the couch and start to trudge towards the stairs, moaning his troubles to Jimin, who patiently hovered around him with a gentle fretfulness.

 

Seokjin sighed, closing his eyes and dropping his head back against the headrest of the couch, so his face was tilted toward the ceiling. He really was worried about how well Taehyung was going to be able to handle the symptoms until Namjoon would let them Mate. Perhaps if Namjoon knew all the details about what Taehyung - and his body - was going through, he would agree to--

 

There was the sound of the refrigerator opening and shutting, the clatter of glass from the cupboard, and Seokjin opened one eye to see Hoseok stepping out of the kitchen, carrying a glass of some translucent golden-brown liquid and heading toward the stairs.

 

“Hoseok, can we talk?” Seokjin said slowly. At the sound of his name, the Alpha paused, one foot on the bottom step as he turned to Seokjin, his expression unreadable but far from what Seokjin would call ‘pleased’ or ‘happy.’

 

“Mm? Sure,” he said breezily, stepping into the living room and sitting down on the couch that Jimin and Taehyung had recently vacated. “What about?”

 

Seokjin paused for a moment. He knew what he wanted to talk about, but summarizing it into succinct terms had him at a temporary loss. “Um.. about Jungkook, and you and I, I guess. To be honest, I was more than a little surprised by your suggestion at dinner, and I guess, well...I wanted to talk about it.”

 

Their eyes were locked together, but Hoseok’s expression was utterly unreadable. After a beat, he suddenly seemed to relax, breaking the eye contact and sighing. “I meant what I said. It makes the most sense to keep Jungkook safe, and if it’s for that, I’d be willing to do almost anything.”

 

“I know,” Seokjin said, although he felt a little disappointed somehow, with that answer. “I’d tell you I promise to take care of him well, but when I first moved here I also promised you I wouldn’t challenge Namjoon’s authority, and I ended up doing that.”

 

“Circumstances change things,” Hoseok said gently. “And I know you’ll take care of Jungkook as well as you can.”

 

That was a bit of an unexpected turn, and Seokjin couldn’t hide the suggestion of surprise from his face. “You do?”

 

“Of course,” Hoseok sat back into the couch cushion, smiling a little sadly. “Seokjin, we haven’t had much of a chance to get very close, with everything that’s going on, but I like you. A lot. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I’m glad you decided on Bangtan pack and joined us.”

 

Letting those words mull in his mind for a moment, Seokjin slowly said, “You just don’t trust me with your pup, right…?”

 

“I’ll admit I was surprised you picked Jungkook, back when I had a very different image of you. But that’s not why I was so hesitant.”

 

“Then it was because of my history with Jae?” Seokjin felt like he had this rare opportunity to get  a straight answer as to what he had done wrong , and that tempting possibility felt so fleeting, he could hear the desperate eagerness in his own voice. “Because of the Alpha thing?”

Hoseok worked his lip for a moment beneath the bright whiteness of his teeth, one hand teasing at the hem of his jeans. “No, it wasn’t because it was your past, Seokjin. It was because of Jungkook’s.”

 

“W-what?”

 

Sighing heavily, Hoseok seemed to take a moment to recollect himself before answering, his eyes falling on the sleeping Jungkook who was still curled up in Seokjin’s lap, one hand curled against Seokjin’s stomach and his socked feet stretched out. It looked like a giant child had cuddled into Seokjin’s lap, and there was a quiet little sound from Jungkook like an infant complaining.

 

“Seokjin, you’ve fucked up in some ways. We all have. I’ve been in other packs, and I know the kind of things that go down behind closed doors and blur the lines of the rules. After hearing from Namjoon what you went through, I wasn’t shocked, although I was heartbroken about what you - and Jae - have been through. Once I met you, I realized you were really trying hard to break from that. I saw you taking your place in the pack, getting your life together. You did alone what Yoongi and I did as a team.”

 

The light traces of pink started to fade into the apples of Seokjin’s cheeks, and he lowered his head, feeling his ears start to warm with embarrassment at the flattery.

 

“You’ve made mistakes, and I can’t say I’m happy about those. But I think you honestly want what’s best for you and Jungkook, and I think that if ‘what’s best’ was you leaving, you would already be gone.” Hoseok shifted on the couch, drawing one knee up to hug his chest as if he needed the tangible something to hold onto, and he looked sadly at Jungkook. “But you weren’t here when Jungkook was younger. He’s been through a lot that I don’t think even he himself knows the depth of.”

 

Seokjin looked down at the Omega, reaching out and running his hand through the boy’s hair again. “He doesn’t talk about his life before the pack much… I always kind of wondered about it, though.”

 

“He never had a whole lot to say about it,” Hoseok said quietly. “Because he honestly doesn’t remember a lot of it, and I think he feels bad that he can’t answer many questions. The best we can figure is that he was abandoned, and he wandered into some dangerous areas of the city without realizing it. A loose pack found him, probably looking for drugs or something to do, and he got the shit beaten out of him. It caused some memory loss, and he ended up picked up by the pound and hospitalized. He was about ten years old at the time, as far as we can figure.”

 

Seokjin’s heart seemed to shoot down like he had just dropped it down an elevator shaft, rushing down through the basement of empathy and sinking into a chilly revelation.

 

Hoseok continued, his voice a distant calmness that nonetheless offered a weighted purposefulness. “Whatever happened before that point, it was probably better than his experience in the pound. He knew his birthday but not his parents’ names, he was already scared out of his wits and they grilled him for ages. Naturally, they kept him, and he was in the pound for over a year.”

 

He wanted to weep. He had seen photos of the pound, he knew how overcrowded and filthy they usually were. Seokjin held onto Jungkook a little tighter.

 

“I think only Jungkook can tell you what that part of his life was like. He’s told me but… I think you should hear it from Jungkook himself. Suffice to say he was sick a lot, and the mix of aggression from other Wolves is never a pretty sight in the best situations, much less packed in like sardines. Some of the Wolves have to be sedated half the time. It didn’t help that Jungkook has always had kind of a strong Scent, and it draws trouble to him. I don’t know how or why he got out, but he spent the next three years doing everything he could to avoid going back.”

 

“Where did he live for the next three years?”

“On the streets. I honestly can’t believe he survived. He had all these tips about how to best fish out food from dumpsters and how to read people or avoid being seen. When he first came to the pack house, Namjoon said he didn’t sleep for the first three days, because he was so anxious. The bed seemed almost to scare him, then. When they found out he felt better under the table, they just let him stay there. Namjoon made sure he had his own bed if he wanted it, but he’s barely used it.”

 

Seokjin had always had an appreciation for Namjoon’s ability to read a situation. He remembered getting a couple texts from Namjoon years ago, mentioning a new wolf pup that had joined his budding pack, and how strange and adorable Namjoon thought he was. Not thinking he would ever be near enough to meet Namjoon’s fellow pack members, Seokjin hadn’t paid it much mind at the time. Now looking back, he felt his chest swell with gratefulness at Namjoon, and all the little details he paid attention to so passionately. Namjoon had just been minding his own business, working a late-night shift at the front desk of the hotel where he still worked, even now.

 

‘A pup came into the hotel lobby tonight,’ Namjoon had texted him, ‘The scrawniest thing I’ve ever seen.’

 

Hoseok continued to speak, and Seokjin let him, merely listening and letting the information sink in slowly.“He came in to ask if he could wait inside for a bit out of the rain, but from the way he was acting, Namjoon could tell that he was trying to hide from an Alpha that he had almost had a scuffle with. They got to talking a bit, and Namjoon ended up bringing him home.”

 

‘Yoongi is gonna love him! He’s the cutest thing, all big eyes and his hair is kinda curly, like a cocker spaniel.‘

 

“It was really rough at first, trying to figure out what they could do to make him comfortable. He didn’t talk much and was really skittish. There were some fights, but between the two of them they convinced him to stay a little longer.”

 

‘I think he really needs someone to have his back right now. I don’t know him well, but I just have this feeling , you know? Like when I met Yoongi. It felt like “it’ll all work out, now,” just like you always say.’

 

Hoseok leaned forward, still hugging his knees. “Seokjin, I was really worried about Jungkook because all he has are bad memories from before. And I only want him to make good memories from here on out. I don’t want him to worry about being left behind, or being unwanted, or alone. Before you came, I was really worried he wouldn’t be able to find a Mate at all, or that he would find someone too quickly and feel like once he started something with them, that he wouldn’t be allowed to change his mind. He once told me he was so scared when Yoongi brought me home, because he thought he would lose Yoongi, I guess?”

 

“Like…” Seokjin said quietly, unsure, “He would lose Yoongi’s love or something, now that he had you?”

“Something like that. It changed over time, of course, and we got really close. He was much more worried when Namjoon met Kiara. For almost a month he wanted to be glued to Namjoon’s side, and I found him crying under his table once. He was afraid that now that we had Mates, he would be left behind. That he would be in the way. I tried to tell him it wasn’t like that.” Hoseok took in a deep breath, then exhaled it. Seokjin could see Hoseok’s eyes reddening and puffing up, the tears welling up quickly, despite the Alpha’s efforts. “I told him it didn’t matter if we had Mates or not, or if he had one. That he would always be my pup.”

 

“He’s mentioned something about that recently,” Seokjin said quietly, feeling a little concern bubbling up in his chest because Jungkook hadn’t made any sleeping noises for awhile, and he wasn’t 100% sure Jungkook would want to hear him telling Hoseok this. “He said he’s felt really lonely the last few months, but he didn’t want to bother you or Yoongi.”

 

Hoseok nodded. “He worries about that a lot. Jimin comes from a pretty low-level pack. He chose to leave because he wanted a place to feel safe, like a family. His own pack life was pretty normal but not very friendly, so he knows quite a bit about trying to get along with others and adjusting, but he has a lot of self-esteem issues because of things he was told. But with Jungkook...with Jungkook , he doesn’t have a baseline, he just has us.”

 

“That’s a lot, though, Hoseok,” Seokjin said with a smile. “I’m sure Jungkook appreciates all of you. I know he does.”

 

Smiling softly, Hoseok looked down at the floor, reminiscing. When he looked up again, he had tears falling down his cheeks. “I just want him to have a normal life. But the universe doesn’t seem to want that, does it?” He laughed a little. “He’s got this powerful Scent, he’s been through so much, and he’s always doing the best he can. He deserves to have people who look out for him and care for him, but sometimes I just don’t know how to do that. To me he’s always going to be this sickly-skinny boy hiding under the table and crying because he’s afraid of not being allowed to stay with us. I know he’s an adult Wolf now, with things he wants and needs and things I can’t possibly give him, but I’m terrified of it.”

 

A silence fell between them for a few minutes, with Seokjin staring down at Jungkook’s mouth, with the soft sleep-breathing the only sound other than Hoseok’s quiet weeping. Hoseok had, in Seokjin’s observations, been the closest Jungkook had to a mothering figure in his life. The physical closeness between them, the way Hoseok smiled at him with such pride, even the way Jungkook said Hoseok’s name all suggested a simplistic tenderness and trust that had been built brick by silent brick. Hoseok had been fretting and worrying over Jungkook’s emotional wellbeing and development for a long time, and in the last year Jungkook was almost an entirely new person.

 

“Can I confess something?” Seokjin said slowly, his uncertainty peppering his words so that Hoseok looked up in curiosity. “I’ve always kind of… been jealous of you and Yoongi, since I first met you two. Anyone who sees you two together can tell you’re partners , not just Mates. Like you have this really beautiful understanding between you. I know that as an Alpha, it must be really hard on you, sometimes, to keep your instincts in check, and to let Yoongi do some of the things he does…” He felt like his face was on fire from the way Hoseok was staring at him. “I just...I guess what I’m saying is, I really look up to you, as a fellow Alpha. I wish I knew how to take care of Jungkook the way you take of Yoongi. You let him be himself, and yet you’re still undoubtedly his Alpha , you know?”

 

Hoseok seemed to blush at that, touching a hand to his mouth as if to cover up the shy smile there.

 

“After what happened with Jae, I’ve realized that Alpha, Omega, Beta...it doesn’t really matter. I used to say that a lot, but now I know it. If he’s happy, if he’s cared for and whole and growing, I’m happy. But… I’m not very good at a balance.” Seokjin thought back to their awkward experiment with the handcuffs, with letting Jungkook have control. “I think Jungkook wants to be strong for me, and that’s probably because of Yoongi? But I don’t know if I can match the kind of self-control you have, as an Alpha…” Seokjin worked his lip. In all honesty, he had wanted to take possession of Jungkook the moment they had Scented in the cabin, had wanted to truly claim him as his own, to mark him down possessively. The first time they were together, he had wanted to take him roughly, to break him down piece by piece until Seokjin was the only one who could put him back together again. He wanted to take everything Jungkook could give him, hold it in his hand, and then carefully place it back into him, body and soul. But he would never get some of the images from the time with Jae out of his mind. He knew himself, and he knew his tendency to get caught up too far into the moment, to push things too far. He wanted to piece Jungkook back together like a puzzle, not like broken glass.

 

“I don’t know,” Seokjin whispered, “If I can hold myself back.”

 

Hoseok watched the Alpha intently, considering his words and the tone with which they had been delivered. “As Jungkook’s pack member, I wanna tell you to shut the fuck up,” he said, smiling. “But as a fellow Alpha, and your pack member, I wanna tell you that it’s okay to not hold back, if you do it in the right way. Yoongi and I didn’t figure it out in one day, or a hundred days. Sometimes things get out of hand. But we have the foundation of trust, and everything else comes from that, I guess? Usually after we talk, we figure out that we want the same things. But what you do isn’t as important as how you do it. So you find a way to do it right.” He gave a shrug, “It’s hard to explain without a specific situation, but that’s as close as you’re going to get, probably. Just listen to him, check in. And do your best to build trust at all times. To me, that’s what the ‘true’ part of ‘true love’ really is, after all.”

 

“That’s a really sappy way of putting it,” Seokjin smirked. “I like it.” He looked down at Jungkook, for perhaps the millionth time that day. From the very beginning, he had always been looking at Jungkook. That first moment he had seen him, wide-eyed and curled up under the table with Taehyung smiling down at him, Seokjin’s entire chest had felt a surge of heat, a sense of belonging.

 

You’re home, his soul had said.

 

Home wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t easy, but it was always there, fluttering beneath the surface of everything. He had trusted Jungkook before he trusted himself, and he knew that even just in the last couple of months that a lot of that had altered, and often it felt like a weed stubbornly coming up through the pavement, slowly but steadily making a widening crack to allow itself freedom to grow. Jungkook not only knew Seokjin’s tendencies and tastes, from lifestyle to the bedroom, but he wanted to try it all together. He trusted Seokjin with so much.

 

“I still don’t have much confidence,” Seokjin whispered. “But I really want to try.”

 

Hoseok gave a slow nod. “I’m doing the same.”

 

“I know it wasn’t because of me that you decided to suggest that we Mate,” Seokjin continued, “But I’m grateful, all the same.”

 

The younger Alpha tilted his head to the side, smiling gently. “Seokjin…? Honestly speaking... I think you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself as an Alpha. I’ve seen how you two are together, and I think you suit him well.” He shrugged with one shoulder. “I don’t wanna have to smell it with my dinner, and I wish it wasn’t so fast, because I’m worried about Jungkook getting ahead of himself, but… I think you’ll stay with him until the end. And I wouldn’t just say that about any Alpha.”

 

Seokjin felt like someone had just reached into his chest cavity and squeezed roughly at his heart. “Th-thank you.”

 

“You’ve been through a lot yourself. But when it came to everything with Jae, you’ve done what you had to do, and I think that’s really