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An Uncommon Want

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Scott's morning starts off easy. He has a routine. A light breakfast of bagel and cream cheese, half an hour at the gym, and then a tall glass of orange juice before he heads into the office in his usual khakis and polo combo. There's no dress code at his office beyond well-groomed and not-a-hobo because everyone's taking off their clothes sooner or later, but Scott likes feeling at least vaguely professional even his job is like eighty percent sex.

As a Substitute, Scott works with a lot of alphas. It has the kind of atmosphere that wouldn't normally be possible, considering how alphas can be. Thankfully, his profession caters to a certain type of alpha personality — the kind that's more of a caretaker, more likely to want to find the needs of their pack and meet them. In other words, the perfect alpha to take care of an omega during their heat.

Scott could hardly imagine being any other kind of alpha, but he's met more than his fair share of the more aggressive personalities, whose actions are more about posturing and dominance than anything else. Several of them have tried to make Scott feel bad about his line of work, but Scott brushes them off easily. After all, he doubts there are many omegas who will be going to alphas like them when it's time for their heat.

Cause see, that's what Scott does. He takes care of people when they're at their most vulnerable — and omegas in their heats are the most vulnerable of them all.

Like any other speciality, becoming a Substitute takes training. Scott has several years of social work under his belt, some basic psychology and counseling too, and then some emergency medicine courses — not to mention the omega-focused biology classes. Substitutes like Scott have to be able to handle whatever might be thrown at them during a omega's cycle, whether it was something that might require a doctor or a shoulder to lean on.

It's not the field he expected to land in when he was younger. As kids, no one thinks about becoming a Substitute — if they even learned about Substitutes before they reached their basic sex education classes. Scott initially dreamed of becoming a vet or a nurse like his mother, but well...

Life kind of throws unexpected curves at everyone.

"We've got a new one for you, Scott," is the first thing that Erica says to him when she spies him coming through the doors of their floor.

She's at the very front of the office, the scheduler and manager for the fifty-odd alphas and the handful of betas in her department. She's a beta, but it's hard to remember that when she's such a shark about punctuality and organization. People who don't know any better tend to assume that Erica's merely a secretary, and Scott's told her dozens of times over the years that she should work in her actual, private office in the back and leave the front desk to someone else. Erica always sneers at the idea, preferring to deal with the dirty work herself, and says that if she can't deal with a few assholes, then she shouldn't be here at all.

The file that she sets on the edge of her desk is thin and crisp. The folders for regular clients tend to be thicker, full of reports and request forms.

"A virgin?" Scott says, raising a brow at the green tab at the top of the folder.

It's unusual to have a virgin in their line of work, but not so completely rare that Scott's never had one before. Omegas have been having their heats at younger ages lately, and legally, no one can touch an omega until they're at least sixteen. It isn't uncommon to see underage omegas trying to get through their heats with their classmates, even when it might not be the safest idea. Omegas that don't could have a million reasons not to do the same, but those with more concerning reasons are more likely to seek out a Substitute.

"It's your specialty, isn't it?" Erica teases with a sharp grin. "All that comforting and coddling you do with the newbies makes you ideal."

"Everyone's scared their first time," Scott responds gently as he opens the folder to get a look at his new client.

Erica scoffs. "Maybe if you're an omega."

"Especially if you're an omega," he says, reading through the basic profile.

The omega's picture is handsome, if baby faced, and older than Scott expected. His first name has been scratched through and written over in Erica's hand with a nickname, and below it, an age. "He's my age," he says, surprised. "And he goes by…" He squints at the name, not entirely sure how to say it.

"A late bloomer, I'm told," Erica says, tapping one long fingernail on the picture. "And it's Stiles. Easier than the name he put onto the official online form, let me tell you. Take an hour with the folder and then get back to me."

"An hour?" Scott blinks at her. "That's a little fast. I still have paperwork to fill out for last week's client."

"It can wait. He called as soon as I got back to him. He's in a rush." Erica turns back to her computer, waving him off with a pointed gesture. "Just read the documents, Scott."

Scott heaves a sigh and closes the folder, tapping its edge on her desk as he heads to his cubicle. When he finally settles in to go through Stiles' documentation, he starts to understand why the deadline is so soon. The medical form is short but thorough, dictating a history of depression, anxiety, and ADHD; and medications that he's been on and off again all through puberty. It's no wonder Stiles is a late bloomer now. The most common medications for all of those conditions have side effects that smother the hormones that regulate heats. It might even be that—

Ah, yes. Sure enough. Stiles Stilinski hasn't had a heat at all, and now at twenty-six, he's facing his first with barely any relationship experience to prepare him. In fact, Stiles lists only two relationships — neither of which are current, first with a beta (named Danny) and then an alpha (named Jackson) — though he also claims an open interest in any gender.

Stiles heat is going to be quick to start, Scott expects, and then incredibly intense after having been put off for so long. His body will be making up for lost time. It'll definitely be a rough week, even with Scott there to help.

He calls Erica from his desk rather than speaking to her in person. She picks up on the first ring, and he asks, "How soon does Stiles need me to be there?"

There's a pause as she brings up Stiles' file on her computer. "Can you make it by this afternoon?"

"Sure. I'll stock up on my way out the door, but I'll let you know if we're going to need food supplies delivered. I'll take one of the trucks there."

She makes a confirmatory noise on the other end. "Alright, I'll call ahead to let him know to expect you. You have his address?"

Scott flips back to the front of the documentation to check and puts the address into his phone to make sure his gps app can find it. "Yup, got it. Tell him to give me a couple hours."

*

The bag that Scott fills before heading over to the omega's house has a lot of things. There are several boxes of emergency bars, packed with the high-energy nutrients that both of them will be needing by the end of the week, and even more boxes of condoms, but there's also a medical kit and accessories, if Scott — or Stiles, for that matter — finds that he needs them. Since Stiles is a virgin, Scott isn't going to be surprised if he doesn't touch any of the more interesting accessories — like the ball gags or the nipple clamps, for instance — but everything's there just in case. Stiles might turn out to be adventurous after the first few days of orgasms.

The drive is long but easy, with traffic trickling down as he leaves the heart of the city — a nice start to give Scott a good mindset to meet the omega with. The house that he pulls up to is in the middle of a pleasant residential neighborhood. It's not the place that Scott would have expected a twenty-six year old bachelor to live in, but it's small and tidy and looks a bit like a cottage. Quaint. The kind of house that Scott wouldn't mind living in himself if he decided to move out of his downtown apartment.

Scott gives his reflection a once over in the rearview mirror, fusses with his hair until it looks more attractively disheveled, and then pulls the bag strap across his shoulders before he climbs out of the truck. He stops on the porch, pausing before he presses the doorbell, and takes a deep breath to steady his nerves.

He's here for Stiles, he reminds himself.

There's a soft crash from behind the door and a curse. The curtains in the side window sway as Scott squints through them, and then the door opens an inch.

"You're the alpha?" comes Stiles' voice.

"I'm Scott." He tries to smiles reassuringly in Stiles' direction, but he can barely make out the features of his face through the crack in the door. "Erica Reyes should have called to let you know I was on my way." He raises both his hands so that Stiles can see them, in case he needs to know that Scott means him no harm. "Can I come in?"

Stiles' hand reaches to the lock on the screen door and flicks it open, nudging the door open so that Scott can come in. Scott does so gently, but almost immediately has to take a moment to gather his composure. The foyer is filled with the scent of an omega in heat, and Scott feels his instincts rising to meet them. Stiles smells good — smells needy, good enough to eat — and when he finally sees Stiles leaning in the doorway that heads toward the kitchen, Scott has to steel against the idea of jumping into sex right this very second.

"Hi," Scott says, thankful that his voice manages to sound calm instead of the roughened arousal he expected. He taps his fingers against the lock for the screen door, raising a brow at Stiles, who nods quickly. Scott locks it and then closes the other door as well. "Do you want to talk first?"

Stiles rolls his lip between his teeth and glances down, shifting uneasily. "I— I don't know. Should I? It's just. I've never. I mean, I have sort of. My dad's always made sure that I knew to make sure that my partners were on the same page as me on everything, but I mean, I'm paying you to take care of me while I'm—" Stiles stops abruptly and the hand that he was gesturing with crosses over his stomach, curling into a fist against his ribs.

Scott sets his bag to the side and takes a cautious step closer. "There's no protocol, really. So long as you're comfortable, everything's good with me. That said, we're going to be getting to know each other very well in the next week or so. If you'd feel better knowing things about me so that I'm not a complete stranger to you, I'm happy to tell you anything."

Blinking at him with wide, wide eyes, Stiles stares. His shock is remarkably obvious. "Wow," he says. "You're really nice for an alpha."

Scott grins. "I'll take that as a complement."

Stiles flushes pink and doesn't look away. "My last boyfriend was kind of an asshole, even for an alpha," he explains. "So it's good. I like it. I like that you're nice."

It's progress, at least.

"Maybe you could—" Stiles starts haltingly, licking nervously over his bottom lip and swallowing dryly. "Can you tell me what to expect over the next few days? I've read stuff. Everyone's read stuff, but I mean. You've helped a lot of people like me, right?"

"I've helped a few," Scott answers, trying to soften how many omegas he's actually had under his wing. Even with heats lasting around a week and accounting for holidays and recuperation days, Scott still averages twenty to twenty five clients a year. Scott knows more than any random alpha that Stiles might have picked up in a bar. Some might consider that a good thing.

"Heats are different for everyone," Scott tells him, taking another few steps closer to Stiles.

As he nears, he can see the way the proximity of an alpha affects Stiles — the way Stiles starts to sweat, the way his skin starts to flush with the promise of life, the way his eyes go dark… The way Stiles presses himself back against the door frame in order to maintain some distance. Scott steps to the side instead of forward with his next shift, and Stiles turns his head to keep him in sight.

"Sometimes it's easy — a couple times a day will do it," he says, "but for someone experiencing their first heat, I think you can expect it to be more intense than that."

Stiles' breath quickens — fear and nerves and anticipation. "Intense? How intense?"

"You might need me so often that you'll barely have time to sleep and eat between the times we have sex," Scott tells him with a warning edge to his tone. He doesn't mean this explanation to be a turn on, though Stiles shakes at the description anyway, squirming. "I don't want you to worry, though. You don't have to worry about anything, okay, Stiles? That's what I'm here for. To take care of you. Are you alright with me doing that?"

Stiles doesn't answer immediately, but he looks at Scott like he can hardly believe what he's seeing. He smiles faintly — an upward quirk of his mouth that's there and then gone again. He nods quickly. "I think so," he says.

"Good," Scott says soothingly, taking another step forward. Stiles is almost within arm's reach. "I'm glad."

Stiles' breath catches when Scott touches him on the arm. Scott half expects for Stiles to retreat again when faced with the reality that being in heat means being touched. Instead, Stiles opens up his arms and grabs Scott by his shirt, fingers curling around the fabric in a white-knuckled grip.

Scott squeezes his fingers under Stiles' elbows and rubs his thumbs soothingly over the joints. "Hey. Still with me, Stiles?"

Nodding, Stiles leans forward, breathing deeply. "Can you tell if it's started yet? My heat?"

"Yeah," Scott replies and leans in too, bumping his nose against Stiles' forehead, his temple, his cheekbone. This close, Stiles' scent is all-consuming. It goes straight to his head. It's a mystery how Stiles isn't aware that he's already started. "You've been waiting for a while, I bet."

When Scott nudges Stiles with his nose, he tilts his head obligingly. There's barely any height difference between them according to the forms Scott got earlier, but Stiles is slouching against the doorframe. It's omega instinct, as far as Scott knows, though there's no research behind it — just a tendency Scott's noticed for omegas to want an alpha over them when they're in heat.

Stiles makes a soft noise when Scott finally kisses him — surprise caught on a breath and smothered between their lips. Scott keeps it easy at first, aware of Stiles' fingers quaking between them and the hesitant way Stiles tries to respond. He kisses Stiles slowly and firms up his grip on Stiles' elbows when he starts to sink down the wall.

"Easy now," Scott breathes when Stiles whimpers. "I've got you."

"Scott—"

"It's okay," Scott says and kisses Stiles again.

One of Stiles' hands moves to grip the back of Scott's neck. His palm is slick with sweat. It makes his hold tenuous, but it's encouraging while it's there, makes Scott feel more comfortable about opening his mouth and making this kiss hungrier. Stiles responds more quickly now, opening his mouth with a quiet moan and breathing hot against Scott even as his legs start to give out.

Scott eases him to the floor, holding him and sinking down with him until he has Stiles laid out on the floor, bridging the area between the foyer and the kitchen. It's possible that Stiles doesn't even notice the change until he's pulling Scott over him, until he has Scott's arms bracketing him on either side, because it's not until then that Stiles starts to clutch at him, arching up to close what little distance Scott is keeping between them.

Making shushing noises between kisses, Scott tries to settle Stiles' fretful behavior, but when he rests a hand on Stiles' chest to keep him still, a tiny cry catches in Stiles' throat. "I'm here," Scott whispers, mouthing and nipping at Stiles' jaw. "I'm gonna help you take the edge off, and then we can talk again, alright?"

Stiles is too far gone to give a reply beyond nodding, to be honest. When Scott looks, Stiles' eyes are completely dilated and his face is so pink that it looks as if he's been holding his breath. Scott cups the back of Stiles' head and pulls him in close by the waist so that Stiles' face is pressed up against his neck. Stiles latches on immediately, sucking and biting down between breaths.

Scott slides his hand down to the waist of the loose pajama pants that Stiles is wearing and pushes right past the elastic band to find the length of Stiles' cock. Stiles goes tense against him, mouth resting open and wet against Scott's skin — no longer moving to leave a mark. As Scott gives him a few strokes, Stiles wraps his arms around Scott and holds on tighter and tighter, moaning roughly before he comes in Scott's hand.

Recovery takes some time. Stiles trembles with oversensitivity and then sags onto the floor with a deep sigh. Scott wipes his hand off on his pants and props himself up on one arm to watch Stiles. The omega rests for a few minutes before blinking awake again, turning to look at Scott with a tentative smile.

"Hey," Scott says. "Welcome back."

"Hey," Stiles returns softly. He sounds sleepy.

"How are you feeling?"

"M'good," Stiles answers. "You?"

Scott shakes his head and leans down. "Don't worry about me," he says and kisses Stiles, who responds promptly this time, without the fevered need of earlier. "This is all about you, okay?"

"Okay," Stiles sighs and tilts his mouth up for another kiss.

Scott obliges him without complaint and gives his side a gentle squeeze. After a few more exchanges, however, he pulls back. "We should talk about what you want."

"What I want?" Stiles echoes, kind of distracted. His fingers are touching Scott's jaw, tracing it down to the tip of his chin.

"For your first time," Scott reminds him. "Do you know if you have any preferences? Maybe even a fantasy?" Stiles' brow furrows. His fingers are still resting against Scott's face, so Scott grabs his hand and kisses his fingers before guiding them down to the floor. "You can tell me anything, Stiles. I won't judge you, no matter what it is."

"It's not that I think it's weird," Stiles finally says. "It's just that I have a hard time choosing. I've thought about sex but I've never picked specifics. I kind of want everything?" He looks up at Scott shyly. "Is that gonna be hard?"

Scott smiles and can't keep himself from kissing Stiles again when he's looking so cute. "It's fine. We have all week, after all. I'm pretty sure we can put a solid dent on your list of everything." Beneath him, Stiles shivers happily and smiles into the kiss. "What do you say to starting simple? We can work our way up to other things."

"Okay," Stiles says. "Starting simple. Sounds good. Nice. Very—" His words trail off into a quiet breath when he cranes upward to get another kiss. "Are we doing it now?"

Chuckling, Scott looks up to take stock of the house's layout from where they're lying. The area beyond the kitchen is a small dining room, and there's an offshoot between them that Scott assumes must be a living room.

"I was thinking of getting you to a bed first," he says. The bedroom must be in the other direction, though. "Do you feel up to standing yet? Wanna show me the way?"

"Do I feel up to standing?" Stiles mocks, as if Scott has asked a silly question. He pushes up to his feet almost as soon as Scott does, but then as he rolls his eyes at Scott — clearly on the verge of saying that Scott is overreacting — Stiles wobbles, knees giving out slightly. Scott has to catch him by the arm before he tips against the sharp edge of the cabinets. "Whoa, that's—"

"Mmhm," Scott hums with a smile and pulls Stiles against his side. "Lead the way."

*

Stiles naps when they reach the bed, pressing against Scott's space without invading it. His fingers are tucked in the bend of Scott's arm and he breathes near Scott's shoulder. He's curled toward Scott's body, looking sweetly satisfied even though his scent still carries a sense of urgency, of rising desperation. Scott feels the urge to kiss Stiles awake, to roll him into his back, shove up his shirt, and taste his nipples until they're peaked and oversensitive.

He knows that the urge is due to instinct — that base nature that has yet to be bred out of their genes. He's familiar with this feeling, even if it's never taken quite so quickly before. He wonders what it is about Stiles that's different. Perhaps it's how scared he seemed earlier. Perhaps it's how eagerly he ended up responding to Scott, regardless.

Stiles sighs softly in his sleep, lips parting around his breath, and Scott gets a good look at him, now that he has the opportunity. If it's possible, Stiles looks even younger than his picture suggested. His thick lashes lay like a dark fan above his cheekbones, and his skin — all of his skin — is speckled with dark moles. Scott doesn't feel most of them when he runs his hand down Stiles' arm, but a few bump up under his fingertips as soft little imperfections in otherwise flawlessly smooth skin. Scott kind of wants to find them all with his mouth, wants to see if tonguing a path between them would be enough to make Stiles hard.

Before he realizes it, Scott leans in to nuzzle against Stiles' shoulder, breathing in his heated scent. It's a perk of his work, this scent. It's as powerful as any drug, just as addictive for how much it makes Scott feel desired. It's not as if Scott would have any shortage of relationships if he wanted them, and it's not as if he hasn't tried before. Finding out what Scott does for a living — no matter how well intentioned — tends to make a significant other difficult to keep. People don't like sharing, and Scott has never wanted someone enough to consider making a compromise with his work. Maybe one day that would change.

Even though he's fast asleep and his heart is beating steady and slow, Stiles shifts to bare his neck for Scott. A quiet sound catches in his throat, and Scott realizes abruptly what he's doing. He rears at once, throwing himself firmly on his back to stare at the ceiling instead of the inviting column of Stiles' neck. It's not his place to take advantage, especially while Stiles is asleep. He shouldn't even be tempted. He's better than that.

Scott turns his head to look at Stiles, but grips the edge of the mattress with one hand to keep himself from turning onto his side. Stiles is beautiful. Scott's sure that Stiles could have gone out and found any alpha he wanted, but fear is what has omegas like Stiles hiring for Substitutes instead. It's Scott's job to make sure that Stiles won't be afraid of his heat when it comes back around next time. That's all he's here to do.

And yet, when Stiles' wakes a few minutes later — brows furrowing cutely, long legs stretching out under the blankets, scent blossoming with a fresh flood of heat — Scott only hesitates a split second before he's cupping Stiles' cheek and kissing him.

He tries to keep it chaste — friendly. Stiles likely considers him a stranger on some level, even if Scott made him come a couple hours ago. Scott doesn't want to be too aggressive, but Stiles opens up so easily that it seems like he doesn't have the same reservations. He makes a small noise when Scott shifts closer, moves slightly over him and presses him deeper into the pillows with the weight of his kisses.

"Scott," he gasps, blunt nails scratching bloodless lines down Scott's arms. "Scott— ah—"

Scott slides his mouth down Stiles' throat and drinks in the rich heat coming off his skin. "What would you like me to do?"

Stiles whimpers, fingers clenching tightly at Scott's shoulders, then his neck. "Please, Scott, please—"

"I'll do anything," Scott tells him, but that just makes Stiles whine. "Do you want me to touch you more?"

"Yes," Stiles hisses, arching when Scott immediately moves a hand under his shirt. "Ah, god, your hands…"

After shoving Stiles' shirt up higher, Scott smiles against the curve of his ribcage and takes a couple nips from his skin for fun. Stiles is responsive as hell, surrendering noises at the slightest touch and pressing into Scott's hands like his whole body is starving for them. There's some muscle to him, enough to give definition to his chest, to keep his ribs from being merely skin and bone under his fingertips. He finds more of those moles and licks around them, over them, drags his tongue from them to one of Stiles' nipples.

When Scott latches on and sucks, tongue and teeth worrying gently until it tightens up, Stiles groans, twisting his hand in the pillowcase, and when Scott looks up, he's watching. His eyes seem to glow in the afternoon light streaming in through the blinds, and Scott really wants to—

Stiles' arms wrap around Scott's neck when he rises up to kiss him again and this time, it's Stiles who presses for more, licking into Scott's mouth as soon as he opens up for him.

"Gorgeous," trips its way off of Scott's tongue without his meaning it to. Immediately, Stiles reddens and turns his face away, covering his eyes with one hand, while the other pushes Scott away lightly. Scott means it; of course, he means it, even if confessing it was an accident. It's a shame that Stiles seems embarrassed by it. "Has no one ever told you?"

Stiles' blush deepens. Scott pulls at Stiles' shirt until it's sliding over his head, along his arms, until he can toss it to the side and bow down to capture Stiles' mouth again. Stiles trembles softly, then asks, "You think so?"

"Mmhm, yeah," Scott says. "You don't believe me?"

Stiles chews on his lip — a nervous habit that Scott's seen a few times now. "I do," he says, but he doesn't sound sure about it. "I bet you tell all your omegas that. You're nice. I wouldn't be surprised if you meant it every time you said it."

Scott doesn't tell his clients that, as a matter of fact. It's too often an invitation for something more personal, and some omegas don't want anything more than a quick heat to get them functioning normally again. But Stiles— he's—

"Let me prove it to you," Scott says, and silently promises himself that by the end of this week, Stiles will be able to look at himself in the mirror and see someone worth desiring.

Stiles doesn't argue. He doesn't say anything — not even when Scott shoves the blankets to the foot of the bed and then peels away the pajama pants that he's wearing. They're sticky from earlier, and when Scott pushes between Stiles' legs, there's the strong scent of come. Maybe he should have taken the time to clean Stiles up, just in case he got uncomfortable, but Scott doesn't entirely regret having left him be. That way, when he gets his face close to Stiles' dick, he can already taste what he's going to be getting more of in a few minutes.

Scott rumbles when he presses his nose at the base of Stiles' dick, in the heavy thatch of hair surrounding it. At the head of the bed, Stiles pushes up onto his elbows and curses when he gets a good look at what Scott's doing. It's a start.

Stiles is only half hard when Scott starts mouthing at his length, wet open kisses that suck the taste of his come straight off the skin. It's only a couple heartbeats before he's stiff under Scott's tongue, however, and another couple more before Stiles is gasping as Scott takes him into his mouth.

Giving oral isn't Scott's favorite task. He has a fairly strong gag reflex, so it can make it difficult, but he enjoys making his partners feel good, regardless of how he's doing it. He likes hearing them moan. He likes knowing that he's the reason. He likes finding the things that make them feel best, things that they didn't think would feel good.

It's easy to please Stiles, it seems. His legs clench around Scott's shoulders, heels digging in at his sides. His fingers grab at the sheets like they're a lifeline, and Scott finds them with his own hands and laces their fingers together. Stiles grabs at him instead with a sound like he's been punched and falls back against the pillows. He sobs Scott's name, hips twitching minutely — so obvious how much Stiles is trying to hold himself back, trying to shove down the urges of his heat.

Scott pulls up and lets Stiles' dick fall from his mouth with a smacking pop. "You can fuck my mouth if you want," he tells him and licks a long stripe from root to tip because it makes Stiles quake. "It's okay. It's what I'm here for."

Stiles loosens one of his hands from Scott's and cards his fingers through Scott's hair instead. His hands are shaking. "Do you want me to? Is that… Is that what you like?"

Scott stops for a moment, looking up at Stiles with what must be wide eyes. He ends up smiling so wide that he feels it crinkling the corners of his eyes. He might even be blushing, but he can't tell. "Yeah," he says. "It's what I like. Just not too hard, okay?"

Stiles takes a deep breath, nodding, and his legs fall apart to give Scott more room. Scott takes the extra inches immediately, looming up between Stiles' legs to cover the inside of one thigh with his palm. This time, when Scott sucks Stiles into his mouth, he makes sure not to take too much at once — a move which proves to be a blessing because Stiles' hips jerk immediately, fucking up into the open cavern of Scott's mouth.

"Ah, ah— I'm close," Stiles says, having barely managed a handful of thrusts. "Scott, I'm—"

"Come whenever you like," Scott says and then ducks down to put his mouth around Stiles' sack, wrapping his lips gently around them while Stiles sucks in a breath that sounds like a sob. "I'm going to touch you, okay?"

"You're already touching me," Stiles groans in return, but ends up cutting off any further argument with a wail when Scott puts the flat of his thumb against Stiles' hole.

Stiles comes like a shot — sudden and loud, spilling across his bare belly in threads of white. Scott doesn't stop. He moves his thumb in a circle, rubbing around the furled skin of Stiles' entrance, and watches as Stiles thrashes above him. Stiles is still hard — finally, a visible side effect of the heat — and as Scott moves up to start licking his skin clean, Stiles cries out.

"Scott, Scott— god, you're gonna make me—"

"Do it," Scott says and brings his thumb up to his mouth for a quick lick before he's pressing it right back at Stiles' entrance. "I like watching you."

Stiles' breath hitches with a sob, and he shoves one hand against the headboard to brace himself so that he can move into the pressure of Scott's thumb. "Put it in me," he begs. "Your thumb. Your fingers — fuck!" He grinds down, head tossing to the side to bare his throat. "Scott, please!"

Scott gives Stiles what he wants — but only his thumb and nothing more. It's going in dry, but Stiles might not even notice the discomfort past the feeling of having something inside him. If Stiles is concerned about how dry he is — when he should be soaking wet with how hard his heat has hit — he doesn't seem to show it. Privately, Scott's grateful for the foresight he had in bringing a couple bottles of lube.

There is a bit of wetness seeping out around Scott's thumb as he moves it in and out of Stiles' body — a barely there surge in lubrication. Relief stirs in Scott's chest. It's always a concern when an omega's body doesn't respond appropriately during their cycles. It might be later than Scott would have hoped for, but that's one less worry on his shoulders.

"Do you feel that?" Scott asks, right up against Stiles' throat. "You're getting wet for me."

Stiles whines and clenches up around Scott's thumb, murmuring wordless noises that sound pleading.

"God and you smell good enough to eat," Scott says and purposefully follows those words up with an audible inhale at the angle of Stiles' jaw. Under his mouth, Stiles' pulse is pounding hard. "Do you want me to do that later? Eat you up?"

"Yes," Stiles bites out — words torn out of his chest. He's gasping afterward, panting for breath. "Scott, I need— I need—"

"Tell me."

Stiles arches up against him and pulls Scott close with his legs. The fingers that he has laced with Scott's dig into the back of his hand. "Fuck me, please!" he cries.

"Later," Scott says, and when Stiles groans in dismay, he shoves his thumb in deeper. "I want to. You have no idea how much I want to."

"Scott—"

"Later, I'm going to taste you," Scott says. "I'm going to lick you until your hole is gushing. I want you ready for me. Do you want that?"

Stiles' response is a reedy, thin whine, but he nods frantically.

"For now, I want you to come for me," Scott tells him. "Let me watch you. Let me see you. You're beautiful when you come, and I'm gonna make you come so many times, you'll beg me to stop. I'm gonna—"

Stiles shouts when he comes — dick pulsing and spilling a weak puddle of come onto his stomach — and he wraps his arms around Scott's shoulders before he can move down to lick him clean again. He kisses Scott with a feverish mouth, hungrily seeking out the heat of his tongue and the sharp edge of his teeth, and he moans when Scott gives in and settles his weight upon him.

It's messy between them, what with the come and the sweat and the spit, but Scott's not a stranger to any of that. It even feels… Nice. It feels good knowing that he's going to smell like Stiles for a good long while until he ushers them both into a shower later. It feels better knowing that Stiles is going to smell like him too.

"Jesus christ, you're wonderful," Stiles whispers between kisses. "So glad that I got you. You're so good. You make me feel so good."

Scott growls a little into the next kiss — playfully. It makes Stiles laugh, smiling too hard to kiss properly.

"Are you hungry?" Scott asks.

"Actually, I thought—" Stiles' fingers drag down the front of Scott's body, and his brows lift in surprise. Perhaps he's only just now realizing that Scott hasn't taken off his clothes. Stiles leans in to nuzzle at Scott's cheek. "Am I allowed to touch you?"

Scott grins. "Of course," he says. "What are you thinking?"

Blushing brightly, Stiles pushes Scott to the side and then moves over him. "I wanna make you come," he says. "You haven't yet, have you?"

Scott shakes his head. "It's no big deal. I'll need to save my strength for you later. You're gonna take a lot out of me."

"Am I?" Stiles asks. "Does that mean you don't want me to?"

Stiles looks so scared of being rejected that Scott has to kiss him again. He covers Stiles' hand and gently guides it down — down, down to where Scott's dick is straining against the confines of his pants. Stiles whimpers and his fingers curl over him, cupping him, squeezing around him. The warmth of his palm is incredible, far hotter than it would be at any other time of the year, and feeling the way Stiles tentatively strokes along the length of him, even when there's layers of fabric between them, makes Scott struggle for control.

"Are you okay?" Stiles whispers, pressing their faces close. They don't kiss again, but their foreheads rest against each other. Scott has his eyes closed, but he can feel Stiles watching him. It's as palpable as the touch of his hand. "Is this alright?"

"Perfect," Scott says — a quick burst of sound before he bites back his breath. It's taking everything he has not to shove up into the curve of Stiles' palm, to let Stiles touch him however he wants.

Stiles drags his fingers hard along the length of Scott's dick and confesses roughly, "I wanna see you when you come, too. I wanna taste you." He pulls in a shuddering breath and his voice drops to a whisper. "Let me do this. Please, Scott."

It's that plea more than anything else that shreds Scott's control. He's quiet when he comes. All of his sounds get trapped in his chest as his body tenses up, and a few sympathetic murmurs get pressed against his jaw while Stiles continues moving his hand over the front of his pants.

"Now who's the gorgeous one?" Stiles teases. He looks awfully proud of himself when Scott finally opens his eyes again, but then he's chewing on his lip once more as his hand shifts between Scott's legs to feel where the base of his dick might be. His brow wrinkles, and he looks down. "You… you didn't knot?"

Scott huffs, feeling tired. "No," he replies.

Stiles' shoulders lift around his neck, like he wants to hide. "Why not? I thought all alphas— I mean, unless… Is it because of me?"

"It's not you," Scott assures him. "Alphas don't knot unless they're inside someone. The body considers it a waste otherwise."

Stiles looks up, kind of dazed at the implication, it seems. "So, later, when you—"

Scott doesn't know quite what to say. He doesn't make a habit of knotting omegas, even if his instincts are screaming for it. It makes helping omegas through a heat more trouble than knotting is worth, no matter how good it might feel. It takes up time and energy that Scott can't afford to lose, and it's something that Scott has explained to omegas again and again and again. It's the one thing that Scott doesn't prepare omegas for, and besides, knotting is so intimate, so personal that Scott feels uncomfortable stealing that from the alpha that might become their mate later on down the line.

Perhaps Stiles sees the dilemma on Scott's face. Whatever he sees, it makes him withdraw in both expression and body. He looks away. He puts some space between them. He pulls both of his hands against his chest. Scott can't bear to see it happen. It hurts and worries him more than he can stand.

He grabs Stiles' wrist before he can get too far and pulls him back in. He bumps their noses against each other and takes a breath, preparing himself to commit to something he hasn't in years.

"I can," Scott says, "if you want me to."

"You don't have to," Stiles tells him quickly. "I know it's a big deal." He kind of winces at his accidental pun. "I don't want to force you. That's not what this is about. I'll be fine without it. I trust you. You know what you're doing. I'm sure plenty of omegas make it through their heats just fine without being knotted."

"I want to," Scott says. It's true. Now that he's said it, he can't stop imagining what it's going to be like, and he craves it now more than anything. "I'll knot you, okay? I’ll do it as many times as you can handle."

Stiles nods, but won't meet his eyes, even though he leans into Scott's space like he can't help it. "Okay," he says.

They lay quietly together for a few moments, and Scott brushes his fingers over Stiles' cheeks, under the line of his jaw. He kisses Stiles' forehead, his nose, his eyes, his fingertips, until Stiles is relaxed again. Scott doesn't say with words that he still wants Stiles, but he reminds Stiles with every touch, every breath. Nothing would change that.

When Stiles starts to shift in anticipation of touches and kisses, Scott lets it continue for another handful of minutes before speaking. "Would you like to eat? I can make us dinner."

"You cook too?" Stiles asks with a disbelieving laugh brightening his tone. "You're ridiculous."

"I like working with my hands and my mouth," Scott says with a teasing waggle of his brows. "Why wouldn't I cook?"

Stiles laughs again and shoves Scott away before rolling off the opposite side of the bed. "Ridiculous," he repeats with a pointed look at Scott's sprawl over half the bed. "Come on, then. Prove that you're as good in the kitchen as you are here."

*

"I'll be surprised if you can make anything good out of what I have here," Stiles says.

Stiles is leaning across the counter that separates the kitchen from the dining room. He's got his knees up on the bar stools and his feet kicking bare in the air. He's wrapped in a robe, thankfully, because the air conditioner is on and it's cool. Stiles is probably running so hot that he doesn't notice, but Scott makes a mental note to turn off the thermostat as soon as he finds it.

"I'll get meals delivered to us later in the week," Scott says as he opens the pantry and peers at his options. Stiles' warning wasn't wholly out of place. Pickings are slim, but Scott spies some spaghetti sauce and a pack of pasta. It'll do. "I like cooking the first meal of heat week, though. It's nice. Something I don't really have time for when things start picking up."

The freezer offers up some ground beef, which Scott puts in the sink with some hot water to thaw. He does a couple turns in the middle of the kitchen, trying to think of where he'd store pots and pans in all these cabinets, and Stiles rescues him by coming around the counter and opening the door for the storage underneath it.

"Thanks," Scott says when Stiles bends down for the large pot and hands it over. "Do you want to help?"

"I'd probably only help burn down the house," Stiles tells him with deprecating smirk. "I've screwed up toast before. You really don't want me helping."

Scott brushes up against Stiles as he heads past him to the sink, where he fills the pot up with water. "I'm sure you're not that bad," he says. "Spaghetti's easy. There's no toast involved at all."

"Awful lot of fire, though," Stiles says, but it's a half-hearted remark as Scott's turning on the burners.

Scott snags one of Stiles' hands and kisses his fingertips with a wink. "I'll keep your fingers burn free. I promise," he says. "Now, why don't you tell me where you keep your spices?"

Stiles has about three times as many spices as he should have, if he cooks as infrequently as he leads Scott to believe, but Stiles tells him how it's totally not his fault. Stiles' dad comes over sometimes, always with huge slabs of meat in ziplock bags, and he'll go through huge, step-by-step explanations on how to marinate everything.

"He likes to feel like he can still take care of me," Stiles says wistfully. "He's not used to having the house to himself, and I think he worries that I don't eat enough. It's great, really. I appreciate it a lot 'cause god knows I haven't figured out how to use half this stuff, but in the meantime, I have all these things I don't know what to do with."

Scott hums as he eyes the covered pot, seeing if the water's boiling yet, and finds a broad based skillet in the back of the cabinets to brown the ground beef. "Does he know you're in heat this week?"

Stiles ducks his head. "Not yet. It kind of came on too quickly for me to give him a call. I had enough time to find you before it hit. I'll tell him after. I don't want him to worry any more than he has to."

"That's what parents do, though. I don't think that waiting to tell your dad afterward is going to keep him from worrying any less," Scott says. He cuts open the package of ground beef and pokes it with his finger. It's cold but soft enough for him to work with. He tilts the whole thing into the pan. It falls in with a clang and starts sizzling immediately. He picks out a couple of the spices from the huge collection that Stiles dragged out of the cabinet beside the stove and shakes out some generous amounts over all the meat. "When my mom found out that I wanted to be a Substitute, she worried a hell of a lot. It didn't really matter to her that it made me happy, though that was what kept her from telling me to do something else. I think she just didn't want it stopping me from having other things in life."

"Like what?" Stiles asks, glancing up from where he's leaning in to sniff curiously at the cooking meat. His nose wiggles a little like it's surprised to be smelling something so good that isn't an alpha.

Scott shrugs. "Relationships, I guess. She's a single mother, so she knows what it's like to be on her own. I don't think she wants that to happen to me."

Scoffing, Stiles nudge Scott with his shoulder. "I can't imagine you have a hard time finding people that want to be with you."

"I guess," Scott says, trying not to sound like he has people falling all over him, left right and center. "It's harder to keep people around than to find them, though."

Stiles turns to lean back against the counter and he gives Scott this assessing look. It's a hard look, like Stiles isn't sure if he believes that Scott has as difficult a time as he says, but it quickly softens. Scott pushes the spatula into the ground beef to cut it up into smaller chunks and tries not to feel as if Stiles is taking him apart. It's embarrassing. Just who's taking care of whom in this situation?

"Hey," Stiles says. He reaches out to touch Scott's cheek, to make Scott look at him. He kisses Scott gently, very much like the first kiss they shared — nearly chaste and yet much more intimate for how Stiles keeps him close with one hand pressing lightly against the side of his neck. Scott feels hot when Stiles leans back, and Stiles smiles at him. "They don't know what they're missing."

Scott stares at Stiles' mouth for a moment, mirroring the sweep of his tongue when he sees it. "Who doesn't?" he asks.

Stiles' eyes darken and he reels Scott in for another kiss, hungrier than the first. This time, when they part, they're both gasping.

The cover on the pot clangs as boiling water rolls underneath it, and Scott jerks away as he rushes to get the package of pasta open. Stiles already has the cover off when he turns back, and Scott pours the spaghetti into the water before nodding for Stiles to set the cover aside. With the rest of the cooking continuing in relative silence, it's not long before Scott is straining the pasta into a colander in the sink while the sauce simmers with the beef.

Stiles brings out plates and forks, but then seems to hesitate when he gets two glasses for drinks. Scott doesn't ask, but while he's partitioning hearty portions of pasta between the plates, he sees Stiles glancing at him out of the corner of his eye. He seems nervous, suddenly, but it gets shoved behind a mask of steely determination before Stiles roots around in the fridge and comes back with two beer bottles in his hand.

"Interested?" Stiles asks, swinging the bottles back and forth from his fingers.

Scott raises his brows as he pours sauce over the pasta. "I'm not sure alcohol is a good idea."

"It's only a beer," Stiles argues. "It's not like I'm pouring shots of vodka or anything."

"It's your heat week," Scott says. "Your metabolism might burn right through it, but for me—"

Stiles presses up against his back and feels like a furnace even though they're separated by so many layers of clothing. "I don't think one beer will keep you from being able to take care of me," he says gruffly. "You don't even have to finish the beer if you don't want to."

Scott swallows thickly before he nods, surrendering to Stiles' wishes. It's probably a mistake, but Scott can't regret it when Stiles seems to pleased to have convinced him. It's dumb to get caught up in it, no matter how infectious Stiles' joy might be. It's only the first day of Stiles' heat — hell, they haven't even made it past the first night — and already Stiles has Scott wrapped around his little finger, willing to do things he normally never does.

Over dinner, as he listens to Stiles talk about life — school, work, family, anything — Scott sips at his beer, watching as Stiles gulps his down, throat working obscenely around the large mouthfuls, and he wonders what promises Stiles will wring out of him tomorrow.

They finish dinner and the dishes get cleared away, and a second later, Stiles crowds Scott up against the counter, bracketing him in with both arms. "Is it later yet?" he asks. He sounds so earnest. "I'm ready. I want you."

Scott grabs a handful of Stiles' hair and holds him still so that he can kiss him in as filthy a manner as he knows how. Stiles moans, straining against his grip, and his eyes flutter shut when Scott sucks at his lower lip. Stiles looks dazed afterwards, and Scott pecks a few more kisses at his mouth just because.

"Let's get cleaned up first," he suggests.

"Together?" Stiles asks hopefully.

Scott's hand falls from Stiles' hair to the back of his neck. "Yeah. Together."

*

Stiles is extra affectionate while he's helping Scott clean up the dishes. The fear he had earlier today is completely absent. He steps into Scott's space like he feels he belongs there, wordlessly vying for touches and kisses between snippets of conversation. He pouts when Scott has both hands busy scrubbing the pan, but it doesn't stop him from leaning into Scott's shoulder while he teases his nimble little fingers under the hem of his shirt.

"Leave it," Stiles eventually coaxes, when he starts to get restless. "Let it soak overnight or something. It's my turn to get wet with you."

"Is it now?" Scott says, brow lifted at Stiles' sultry tone.

He doesn't have to wait long before Stiles' expression turns smug. Then Scott flicks his face with sudsy dish water. Stiles shrieks and laughing, throws his hands up to defend himself. Scott dunks his hands in the sink again, and Stiles jets past him for the hallway. He doesn't quite make it without getting splashed, but he flashes a grin at Scott over his shoulder before diving for relative safety.

"Betcha can't catch me!" he calls.

Scott gives chase with a small growl. Stiles skips backwards ahead of him, trying to bite back his grin so hard that it ends up looking sly instead of merely delighted. He dances back when Scott touches either side of the hall with his hands, like he enjoys the idea of being blocked in — of having his chances of escape reduced. His dance is more like a wiggle than anything else, with his hands dragging down his sides before he's tugging at the belt of his robe.

"Come on, alpha," Stiles says, turning before he lets the robe drop off his shoulders. "We have plans."

The robe falls to the floor in a soft heap, and before Scott can even get the sense of how much of Stiles' skin he's seeing, Stiles darts toward the bathroom, leaning out of the doorway when Scott isn't immediately behind him. His face is a little pink, a little shy, but he seems happy as he crooks his finger to beckon Scott after him.

Scott follows Stiles sedately, feeling like a wild predator almost as he steps over the robe. When he gets to the bathroom, Stiles has already turned on the shower to warm up and is pulling out towels for both of them. Scott eases in behind him and breathes in behind his ear. Stiles smells like heat, salt, and faintly like dinner, but mostly he smells good.

"I remember making you a promise," Scott murmurs, giving Stiles' hips a squeeze. "Do you want it now?"

The towels slip out of Stiles' grip, and when Scott nudges him against the wall, Stiles presses flush against it with an eager sound. He arches back when Scott palms over his bare backside and gasps when Scott goes to his knees. It's impossible for Stiles to remain motionless if he has any kind of energy. With a heavy meal, he should be more settled, but the promise of sex and pleasure is exponentially more overwhelming. It means that when Scott squeezes his ass and spreads him open, Stiles squirms excitedly, muttering under his breath for Scott to hurry the fuck up.

"Relax," Scott says. "I haven't even tasted you yet."

Stiles whines. "That's the problem!"

Stiles' hole looks so small when Scott drags his thumb around its edges. It's hard to believe that it will stretch wide enough to accommodate his fingers, let alone a knot, but when Scott pulls at its edges, Stiles' hole gapes easily. Stiles muffles a curse when he rubs his fingers over him, and Scott finds himself staring at the thin shine that catches the light from above the vanity.

"You're already wet," Scott says.

"You said you wanted me gushing," Stiles retorts in a rush. "Come oooon," he snarls, shoving his hips back. "You said you'd do it."

When Scott presses his face between Stiles' cheeks, he moans at the scent. Stiles smells like sex here — tastes like it too, more and more as Scott flicks the tip of his tongue over his hole. Stiles twitches and jerks with every lick, quivering so hard when Scott pins him to the wall like he might vibrate straight through it. The shower spray covers up the smallest of Stiles' sounds, but as the steam starts to build — as Scott gets him wetter and wetter — Stiles' scent builds between them so strongly that he doesn't need his sounds to tell when he's doing something right.

Scott has hope that Stiles' earlier response means that his body is finally catching up to the initiative of his hormones. He wants Stiles so wet that he's sloppy with it before he's so deep in his heat that he won't wait for Scott to use the lube. Scott can faintly taste it on his tongue — that slick sweetness of Stiles' natural lubricant. More pulses out whenever he licks into Stiles' body, but it's not going to be enough. He's not going to be gushing.

Above him, Stiles groans so roughly that it sounds like a howl. "Gonna—" he says.

Not waiting for any further warning, Scott pulls Stiles tighter against his mouth, spearing his tongue forward and humming in encouragement. Stiles surrenders shakily, shooting come onto the wall and leaning back into Scott's embrace when he stands to catch him.

"Maybe should have gone for a bath instead," Stiles murmurs with a smile.

Scott pulls aside the shower curtain and nudges Stiles into the tub. "It's fine if you lean on me," he says, following only after he's left his clothes on the bathroom floor. Unabashedly, Stiles throws his arms around Scott's neck as soon as he's near. "Oof, it'll just take longer to get you cleaned up."

They barely notice how long they're in the shower. Scott rubs soapy hands all over Stiles' body, happy to feel the way he melts against him. Stiles is pretty shameless about the way he arches into Scott's hands, nearly purring when Scott soaps up his back. He touches too. His fingertips slip over Scott's body with frank wonder, finding the dips in his musculature and the bones of his joints. It makes Scott curious about Stiles' history — if he's doing this merely because he hasn't seen Scott naked before now or if it's because he's never seen anyone naked at all.

When Stiles tucks his face against his neck and bites gently, Scott decides he's not nearly curious enough to ask. With the mood so calm and easy, he doesn't dare risk tripping over something that would ruin it. Here, Stiles' past relationships don't matter. What does matter is that Scott is the one that has Stiles now. He's the first to experience Stiles' heat, the first to smell him, the first to taste him, the first to take him. Regardless what came before or what will come after, no one would be able to say the same.

Stiles hiccups a moan in his ear, startling Scott back to himself in time to steady Stiles when his grip starts to slip from around his neck. "Oh, oh," Stiles gasps. "Don't stop. Don't—"

He has a finger inside Stiles. Just one — hooked into the hot clutch of Stiles' ass. Scott gets another wretched sound when he gives Stiles' hole a tug. Whimpering, Stiles tries to cling to his shoulders, but the water makes his fingers slip, makes his nails drag hard lines across his skin.

Even though Stiles seems more than happy with how he's being touched, Scott's distressed to realize that he doesn't remember deciding to do this. He can't remember rubbing his fingers over Stiles' hole or pushing one in. If Stiles told him to do it or if he'd taken the initiative on his own. Scott holds Stiles close and doesn't speak — doesn't apologize though he knows there's a possibility that he should. He's not thinking. He touched without meaning to, instinctively… as if he has any right to take from Stiles whatever he pleases.

No matter how enthusiastically Stiles responds, Scott begins to feel an edge of fear. After all, soon, Stiles won't have it in him to say no.

It's with this in mind that allows him to resist the way Stiles begs for him when they return to bed. Stiles is adamant about being ready, spouting all kinds of promises if only Scott would show him what it feels like to be knotted at last. The sheets still smell like them from their nap before dinner, but it's nothing compared to the scent pouring off Stiles' skin now.

Scott has two lubed fingers shoved deeply into Stiles' ass, all the way to the knuckle, and Stiles says that it's more than he's ever had but he needs more — wants more. He has to throw a leg over one of Stiles', has to fold himself against Stiles' side and bite at the back of his neck to keep him from turning onto his back or pushing against Scott's fingers too roughly.

"You said you'd—" Stiles whines when Scott crooks his fingers against his prostate and rubs it with hard sweeps until Stiles is trembling. His voice cracks around a plea. "You promised!"

"I said that I'd do it later," Scott tells him firmly. His chest tightens with every minute that he tries to keep his breathing shallow. "Your body isn't ready yet."

"Then get me there," Stiles gasps. "Oh god. Make me ready. Scott, fuck—"

"You really think two fingers is going to be enough prep for a knot? Or three?" Scott hisses. He finds the bottle of lube by his hip and pours some over Stiles' entrance before easing three fingers in. Stiles goes quiet, breathing carefully as he takes all of them. He tightens up around Scott's fingers when he bites at the back of Stiles' neck again. "I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't. You won't," Stiles is quick to assure him. "I trust you."

Scott huffs a laugh. "Then trust me to know what I'm doing."

"What you're doing is stupid," Stiles says, but that doesn't stop him from pushing up on his elbows, twisting around so that he and Scott are cheek to cheek. "If you aren't going to knot me tonight, then at least let me know what it would feel like. How many fingers is enough to match how big your knot is? Four? Five?"

Stiles' voice rasps around the words, raw from all the sounds that's been wrenched from his throat. Scott has a hard time pushing away the sudden, vivid image of making Stiles' throat sore with an entirely different method. He's grateful when Stiles pushes him back enough so that he can get on his back, but then they're pressed together again from chest to hip to knee.

"Kiss me," Stiles says and Scott does.

They tangle together. Scott pulls one of Stiles' legs over his hip, smears lube on the underside of his thigh, and both of them moan as their cocks touch. Scott slides his fingers through the excess lube that's between Stiles' cheeks and eases his fingers back in — two, then three. He flirts his little finger along Stiles' rim, wondering if he should.

"Give it to me," Stiles says in a rushed whisper, and Scott does.

Stiles tosses his head back to the pillows and Scott desperately wants to put his mouth against that bared throat. He restrains himself and instead, watches Stiles' face for signs of pain. Stiles' brows crease together and his breath comes in quick, short huffs as Scott's fingers push deeper in narrow increments — nothing too much, too fast, yet clearly it's a lot.

When Scott's fingers are buried up to the knuckle again — Stiles' whole body tense and straining around the widest part of his hand — Stiles takes a deep breath, releasing it with a shudder. He looks at Scott with dark, hooded eyes, and promptly arches off the bed when Scott curls his fingers toward Stiles' prostate. He's probably getting close to oversensitive, considering how long Scott's been milking it, but all of Stiles' noises are pleased — overwhelmed, sometimes, but definitely pleased. Scott tells himself that he'd stop if he thought he was hurting Stiles.

"Stiles?"

Stiles bites at his lip, bearing down when Scott's hand goes still. "I feel full," he murmurs softly. "Feels good, being full… S'this like being knotted?"

"Yeah," Scott says, feeling a wave of fondness at the way Stiles' expression has become nearly beatific — mouth soft and slack, cheeks pink, hair darkened at the temples with sweat. "It's a lot like it."

"How—" Stiles' breath catches for a moment when Scott shifts against him. "How long?"

"If my hand starts to cramp, I have plugs I can use," Scott tells him, keeping his voice gentle. He rocks his hand in shallow thrusts, not even trying to reach for Stiles' prostate anymore — just reminding him of how Scott has four fingers inside him. "If you want, you can have it inside you all night."

"No," Stiles says — surprisingly. "I don't… Not something fake." He cries out softly and wraps his fingers at the base of his cock, squeezing to hold back his orgasm. The effort leaves him panting, but he still shakes his head. "I only want you."

The words go straight to Scott's heart. His chest feels huge with it, and Scott smiles warmly, proud that he can make Stiles feel so good. "Are you sure?" he asks anyway.

Stiles nods. "I'm sure. No plugs. No toys. Want you. Want your hands and your tongue and your—" He cuts off with a strangled moan when Scott scoots down to suck the head of his cock into his mouth, and almost immediately, he coats Scott's tongue in come.

Scott stays where he is, holding Stiles' cock in his mouth loosely — not sucking, not licking, just keeping it warm as it slowly softens. Stiles' fingers tangle at the nape of his neck, clumsily sliding through his short hair. When Scott pulls his fingers away, Stiles twitches, sighing deeply. He looks absurdly drowsy when Scott lifts up to see his face, and as miffed as he sounds as he mumbles about not getting knotted, there's pleasure in his smile when Scott brings his hand up to kiss.

Call Scott a romantic at heart. He's not even upset that Stiles is fast asleep when he looks up from brushing his lips against Stiles' knuckles.

*

Scott expects to wake up spooning Stiles. That's how he went to sleep, and considering how light of a sleeper he considers himself, he figured he would wake whenever Stiles started to stir. Instead, he wakes up because he feels like he's not getting enough air, like his lungs are hot and his nerves are on fire — and it's all cause Stiles is kneeling in the splay of his legs and sucking on his cock with a fury that is frankly, a little confusing this early in the morning.

"Stiles?" Scott's voice is rough and raspy with sleep, and when he lifts his head to look at Stiles, he gets glared at. "What are you doing?"

Stiles gives the end of his dick a wet, smacking suck as he pulls off and looks smugly satisfied when Scott jolts in response. "If you have to ask, maybe I'm doing it wrong," he says. He strokes Scott's dick with a deft hand, his grip the perfect balance of slick and tight to have Scott gasping where he lies. He pauses for a moment, poised to have Scott back in his mouth. "Am I?"

"Are you what?" Scott asks.

Smiling, Stiles sucks the come that's pearling in the slit. He licks his lips afterward. "Am I doing it wrong?"

A hiccup of laughter bubbles through his chest. Scott throws a hand over his eyes. "You're doing great," he croaks out.

Stiles hums, already opening his mouth to take Scott in again. He seems less angry than he was a minute ago, even going so far as to be leisurely about sucking Scott off. His mouth is soft and hot around Scott, and what Stiles doesn't reach with his mouth, he covers with his hand. It's not the most practiced blow job that Scott's ever gotten — Stiles isn't even making an attempt at deep throating, which Scott is grateful for — but for now, for this very moment, it is perfect.

Then he hears it. This sound, slick and rhythmic and not the sound of Stiles sucking wetly at his cock. Scott gets on his elbows, looks at Stiles — looks at the hand that Stiles has between his legs, crooked too far back to be him jerking off.

Seeing him looking, Stiles sits up and, with a loose fist still around Scott, cants his hips forward so that he can see where he has three fingers inside him. "I woke up wet," he tells Scott. "I want to be knotted right now."

"What about breakfast?" Scott argues. They really should eat before they're stuck together for an hour.

"You can feed me after you've knotted me," Stiles counters, pulling his fingers free so that he can crawl up the bed and into Scott's lap. He wasn't kidding about being wet. He's so wet that the insides of his thighs are damp. The fingers that had been inside him smear on the sheets. "Then you can fuck me again in the kitchen."

Stiles kisses him before he can say another word, and Scott helplessly kisses back, holding Stiles to him by his arms, by his neck, by anything that Scott can get his hands on. A sweet laugh gets smothered between their lips, and Stiles fumbles his hand between them, holding Scott's dick steady. Scott knows what's about to happen. His anticipation for it makes him hold his breath for wanting it so much. He rubs his fingers along the base of Stiles' spine, drawing away the tension until he's in… in so deep that Stiles has to sit upright and hold still while he adjusts.

"You okay?" Scott whispers.

Nodding, Stiles tries to move, rocking forward and then back. His nostrils flare with a heavy exhale. "Scott—" he moans. "I need—"

"What?" Scott asks. "Tell me."

"Fuck me," Stiles begs, shifting restlessly in Scott's lap.

He looks so distressed there, moving without being sure if he's moving the right way. Scott curves his arm around Stiles' waist as he sits up, hugging him close. He cups Stiles' cheek and kisses him, sweetly — so sweetly — and Stiles wraps his arms around his neck, holding on as Scott rolls them and relaxing when he has Scott over him.

Giving Stiles a couple shallow thrusts, Scott watches the way he arches for it. "Like this?"

"Yes," Stiles hisses. "Just like this."

"I'll be gentle," Scott promises, tucking in so that they're chest to chest.

Stiles' legs loop around Scott's waist, hooking behind his back, thighs clenching with every shift of Scott's hips. Scott pets his hands all over Stiles' body — along his sides, over his skinny arms and flexing thighs — and buries his face against his neck, drinking in deeply the morning flush of his heat.

The warmth of Stiles' body seems to be at a low boil, barely simmering under his skin, and that's good — that's good. It means Stiles still has some of his wits about him for now. It's more than Scott can say for himself. He feels like he's drowning.

They stay at that pace for a while, with Scott rocking back and forth by inches. It's sweet, really. It's nice to have sex that isn't frantic and rushed, like it is so frequently with omegas in heat. This is different in a good way, an intimate way that leaves Scott breathless. He's glad more than he can say that this was how Stiles wanted his first time to be.

Stiles nuzzles Scott's temple. His neck is temptingly available under Scott's mouth, though Scott doesn't do anything more than brush his lips against it. He makes a soft sound, twitching and pulling Scott closer with his legs. It's right on time, too. Scott steadies Stiles' hip with one hand and presses in as deeply as he can, until their bodies are pressed flush against one another. Scott's knot swells first, stretching Stiles slowly.

"Easy, easy," Scott soothes, when Stiles whimpers and strains like he wants to get away. "Bear down. It'll stop soon."

Biting his lip, Stiles tries to do as he's told, and his body slowly relaxes around Scott's knot, taking its girth with more ease. Scott murmurs some praise, petting back Stiles' hair and kissing his jaw briefly before he has to drop his head with a groan. As always, an orgasm while knotting is more intense than an orgasm without if only due to the sheer volume of come that his body pumps out. It takes everything out of Scott to do this, and Stiles seems to understand. Even as he squirms at the pressure of having so much inside him, Stiles hugs Scott around the shoulders, rubbing his back while he shakes.

"You feel so good. This is— Last night doesn't even compare," Stiles says. His breath hitches when Scott's hips jerk forward, completely beyond his control. "Thank you for doing this. Thank you, thank you—"

The knotting lasts for an hour. They sleep again, with Stiles still tucked firmly under Scott's weight. If Stiles minds, he doesn't complain and nods off into a light doze almost immediately after he comes between them. It's Stiles grumbling stomach that wakes them later, and he rolls out from under Scott with a slight grimace, scratching at his belly and flicking away the bits of come that flake off.

"I'm gonna make breakfast," Stiles says brightly, leaning over to kiss Scott very quickly before scooting to the edge of the bed. "Take your time. I'll be in the kitchen."

Scott watches him bend to scoop yesterday's bathrobe off the floor and swing it over his shoulders. He ends up lying in bed for a good five minutes after Stiles has left, listening to the distant sound of him pilfering the pantry for something to eat. Eventually, hunger has Scott moving too — and worry that Stiles might actually attempt to use the stove — and he opens his bag to find something easy to wear. Sweatpants will do. He wants something easy to take off later because Stiles being wet this morning means that his body's finally catching up, which means that the full rush of his heat will be soon behind.

He roots around through his gear, shoving aside the medical kit, the boxes of nutrient bars, the boxes of condoms, the—

He stops.

"Condoms," he says dully, staring at the box in his hand. He looks back at the bed, thinking — trying to remember if… "Shit."

Scott stumbles his way into his sweatpants with a box of condoms under his arm and nearly trips on the hem when he reaches the kitchen. Stiles casts him a sidelong look, wholly amused, from where he's scooping scrambled eggs onto plates for each of them. He has a piece of beef jerky sticking out of his mouth and his hair is a mess and the dark shadows under his eyes make him look like he doesn't get half the sleep that he should. Scott hates himself a little for wanting to fuck him more than he wants to tell Stiles about how they failed to remember to use a condom this morning.

Scott gathers his courage and spits it out. "Are you on the pill?"

Wrinkling his brow at Scott's question, Stiles says, "If I was, I would've said so when I submitted my request to your office."

"So you're not on the pill."

Stiles laughs. "No," he says. "I'd never had my heat before. There was no reason for me to think about it let alone go to a doctor about the pill. Why?"

Scott tosses the box of condoms at him. Stiles startles, but catches it before it can hit the floor. He looks confused until he reads the box.

"Oh. Uhm."

Scott drags his hand through his hair. God, he doesn't know what's wrong with him. "Yeah."

Setting the box on the counter, Stiles sits down in the bar stools by the counter. Forget breakfast, Stiles can't take his eyes off the box. "Well," he says. "Maybe nothing will happen."

"Stiles."

"It's way too early to tell," Stiles says, voice rising. He seems determined to steamroll right over Scott's concerns. "It was only this morning and it was only the once, and I haven't been in heat for a whole day yet. How fertile could I be?"

"I should call Erica," Scott says. "Tell her what happened so that we can be prepared."

"Prepared for what?" Stiles asks, slightly shrill. "Maybe your freaky alpha sperm didn't get my ass knocked up. You're jumping onto the pregnancy band wagon a little fast, buddy."

"One of us has to," he tells Stiles firmly. "Christ, she's going to kill me."

"Erica? Don't worry about Erica," Stiles says. "If I turn out to be pregnant, I'll kill you."

Scott huffs at him. "Gee, thanks. I feel so much better."

Leaning back into his chair, Stiles crosses his arms. "How did we even get here anyway? You said you were here to take care of me, right? How did you forget the condom thing?"

"I don't know, okay!" Scott throws his hands out in frustration, completely uncertain about how it could have slipped his mind. "It's not like this has happened to me before. It's just— You were there and you wanted me and I couldn't—"

Stiles narrows his eyes at Scott. "I'm sure you've had plenty of omegas wanting you before," he says carefully.

"Not like you." Scott has his eyes downcast, but his gaze is locked on Stiles' hands. They're fussing with the fuzzy edges of his bathrobe. They're beautiful hands. He bets they'd look beautiful holding a baby. Scott tears his gaze away abruptly. "Not that it's an excuse. You shouldn't have to be in this position, and it's my fault that you are. If you want, I can have Erica send someone else over to take care of you. You're not completely in your heat yet, so you'll have time to bond with them beforehand. I'll take full responsibility for everything if—"

Stiles waves his hand sharply, shaking his head. "Don't," he says. "I don't want another alpha." He shrugs when Scott lifts his gaze to stare at him and reaches for the plate of eggs. He pokes them with a fork but doesn't take a bite. "Look, we'll… We won't forget from now on, right? Besides, we're probably jumping the gun anyway. I don't know any couple that gets pregnant on the first try — not that we're a couple. Or… or trying for that matter. But I told you before," here, his voice softens to something very nearly affectionate, "the only one I want is you."

Putting a hand on the back of Stiles' seat, Scott leans in close, testing the boundaries of Stiles' personal space, wanting to know if Stiles is willing to let him close despite what an utter disaster the morning's been — what with his professionalism flying right out the window from the moment he woke up. "You were picking between me and a butt plug," he murmurs, laughter cautiously coloring the edges of his words. "That's different."

"Not really," Stiles says with a put upon sigh. He leans back enough that his shoulder rests for a couple seconds against Scott's chest, then he elbows Scott in the stomach. "Go make me some toast. There's jelly in the fridge."

Rubbing at his belly, Scott goes to do as he's ordered with a smile on his face. He comes back with toast, jelly, spreadable butter, and ketchup. Stiles eyes the ketchup with a raised brow and then makes a gagging sound when Scott puts the ketchup on some of the eggs.

"I changed my mind," Stiles says decisively, pulling a face as he watches, horrified, when Scott eats a mouthful of the eggs-ketchup combo. "You're totally disgusting and I want a different alpha." Scott chews at him with his mouth open, and Stiles makes a show of setting his fork down with a roll of his eyes. "Ugh, why do I like you."

"Probably because I give you mind-blowing orgasms," Scott says.

"You make a valid point. I guess I can put up with your terrible eating habits in exchange for that."

*

They eat fairly quickly after that. Scott even finds some cocoa mix in the pantry and makes them chocolate milk too. By the time they're full, the whole pregnancy panic has passed. It's something to worry about later, if ever. Not yet, though, is the point. Certain not when they can press quiet kisses against each other again and again, not caring if anyone can see them through the window over the sink.

Scott is pretty sure that he's enjoys this most about Stiles — his desire to kiss and keep kissing, like it would be enough to satisfy his heat if he let it. Or perhaps it's something Stiles has always enjoyed, heat or otherwise. He doesn't kiss like he's new to it — not like he's new to everything else. The way Stiles kisses Scott, it's obvious he knows how, and it drives Scott crazy.

"Hey," Stiles says. "I seem to remember saying something earlier."

Scott hums. "Like what?"

Stiles kisses him slowly, heated. He bites tenderly at Scott's lower lip and then kisses it. "Mm, something about sex in the kitchen."

"Really?" Scott asks. Stiles' robe is already open, hanging around them. Scott rubs his thumbs under Stiles' ribs and gets Stiles pressed closer between his legs in response. "I think I would've remembered you saying something like that. Are you sure you didn't think it really, really hard?"

"Positive," Stiles replies, rubbing a hand over the front of Scott's sweat pants. He shakes the robe off his shoulders and lets it hang off his arms. "But if you don't remember, then we don't have to." He steps away with a sly grin and lets the robe drop to the floor before turning around. He makes as if to leave the kitchen altogether, but doesn't get two steps before Scott catches him around the waist.

"You're impossible," Scott tells him, palming at the front of Stiles' belly with both hands.

Stiles grabs at Scott's arms so that he can't let go. "Yeah, impossibly horny," he says. "You gonna take care of me or what?"

With a playful growl, Scott pulls Stiles toward the dining table and bends him over the edge in the space between two chairs. He pins him down with his weight and Stiles squirms delightedly under him. He takes a moment to press his nose between Stiles' shoulder blades, petting both hands down his flanks to squeeze his ass. He leans back, sliding one hand up the dip of Stiles' spine and into his hair, gripping it firmly for a second to see if that's something that Stiles likes. Judging by the way he leans into it, Scott is free to do that whenever he likes.

"Stay there," Scott orders gruffly.

Stiles bares his teeth at him. "Or what?"

Scott snaps his teeth back. His eyes flare bright red for good measure. "Or I won't fuck you the way you want."

"You won't knot me?" Stiles asks, shivering. "That's quite the threat."

Though he doesn't get an answer, Stiles nods anyway. Scott darts back to the kitchen and scoops up the box of condoms that are still sitting where Stiles put them in the first place. He pops open the package and rips one off the end of a strip. He already has the wrapper torn open by the time he gets back to Stiles.

"Hurry," Stiles urges him, arching as much as he can against the dining table to present his ass to Scott. He even goes so far as to spread his own cheeks so that Scott can see that he's wet, that he's ready to be taken.

Scott shoves his pants down with a curse and rolls the condom on. He barely takes a moment to brace a hand over Stiles' tailbone before he's sliding in. They groan together, both of them gasping when Scott bottoms out. Then, Scott tugs Stiles away from the table so that he won't be rubbing painfully against the edge.

Stiles drops his head to the table. "Jesus, you feel so… It's different, isn't it? With the condom."

It is. The way that Stiles clenches around him isn't quite as exquisite as it was this morning, but Scott is glad for it and how it lets him think. The risk of getting lost in the way Stiles feels around him isn't as high, but it's still remarkably wonderful to feel this, to have this.

"Still good?" Scott asks.

"Yes," Stiles gasps.

Scott nudges Stiles' feet further apart and presses in that much further. Stiles moans desperately. "Forget that the condom's there then," Scott tells him. "Concentrate on how you feel."

Stiles' laugh and his moan get mixed up in his lungs as Scott starts to fuck him in earnest. "As if," he laughs. "As if I'd be able to think about anything else."

They don't talk again until Scott is knotted inside him and coming. Stiles is panting against the table, breath steaming the surface. There's come on the floor beneath them — most of it from Stiles coming and the rest from where it's leaking out past Scott's knot.

"Super gross," Stiles mutters, feeling around along the insides of his thighs, where come clings to his skin. "I thought knots were supposed to keep that from happening."

"Can't help it," Scott says. "Condom will only take so much."

"Yeah, I—" Stiles grunts, inhaling, and Scott sags at the sudden increase of pressure around his dick. "I can tell." He reaches backward to touch Scott's cheek. His fingers are slightly damp with come, and he giggles when Scott starts to suck them clean. "I guess I don't really mind the mess."

Which is good because they continue to make messes for the rest of the day.

*

Scott turns the blinds so that the sunlight gets angled toward the ceiling instead of the bed. It's well past lunch, but the idea of going to the kitchen, even to do something as mindlessly simple as making a sandwich, seems like an awful lot of effort. The protein bars by comparison are a blessing, and after as much sex as they've had today, they taste delicious — doubly so since they're also dipped in chocolate.

Stiles eats three of them in a row, stuffing them into his mouth in huge bites and chewing even as he sucks the chocolate from his fingers. Scott eats more sedately, honestly feeling too tired to chew, and slumps into the bed next to Stiles, watching as he opens up yet a fourth protein bar and starts nibbling on a corner.

"You're gonna get sick of these by tomorrow if you keep eating them like that," Scott warns him.

"Doubt it," Stiles sing songs back. "They taste amazing. Pretty sure that won't change."

"Suit yourself, but I'm gonna tell Erica that we're gonna need meals sent over tomorrow," he says. "You'll thank me for it after."

Silent for a moment, Stiles keeps chewing on the corner of his protein bar. He looks thoughtful, kind of serious. He folds the wrapper around the unfinished bar and sets it on the bedside table. "I've been wondering. Is it… Can I thank you for doing this?"

Scott tucks a hand behind his head so that he's tilted slightly toward Stiles. "Thank me? For helping you?"

Stiles nods. "It's probably not easy, keeping up."

"Well yes, that's true," he admits with a chuckle. "But you don't have to thank me for that. I enjoy doing this, and I'd enjoy it even if there weren't ridiculous amounts of sex involved."

Stiles grins. "Still. You're really good—" here, he grimaces slightly. "I mean, besides the sex, but that's good too. Like, really, crazy, stupid good. But I meant, as a person, you're really good. That's why I wanted to thank you. Any alpha could've gotten sent here and by the time my heat would be over, I wouldn't care who they were. But you were so nice and you make things so easy that I forget sometimes that you're here cause you have to be."

There's something in the way that Stiles confesses that — voice at once wistful and carefully casual. It makes Scott frown. It makes him want to comfort and reassure Stiles until he understands that Scott's presence and affection isn't something that can be forced, regardless of a heat's influence. Stiles looks embarrassed, avoiding lifting his gaze even when Scott cups the side of his face and tilts him up.

"I don't have to be here," Scott tells him. "If I didn't feel safe here, then I'd leave. I'd have someone else come here to take care of you. I'm here because I want—"

His words stop for an instant, all because Stiles leans into his palm. He forgets what he's supposed to say and the truth of what he wants to say instead pounds in his heart, as dangerous and tempting as the soft part of Stiles' mouth.

He clears his throat and chooses a different track altogether. "The same goes for you, you know? If you don't feel like you're safe with me, I'd—"

"That's not a problem," Stiles cuts in immediately, leaning in. His next words are hush and leave Scott speechless: "I trust you."

Scott hadn't expected for Stiles to want sex again so quickly, but when Stiles kisses him, he gives in immediately, helpless to deny him anything in this moment. It's different this time. He can feel it down to his bones that something has changed, even though there's nothing objectively different in what they're doing this time compared to every other time before. Perhaps it's how quiet they both are, too caught up in kissing to have time for their usual sounds. Perhaps it's how Stiles' hands are less desperate, less likely to leave scratches over Scott's shoulders.

When he knots Stiles this time, he rests their foreheads together and watches the way Stiles goes slack with relief, with pleasure. He's beautiful like this, skin flushed pink with warmth, and Scott swallows down the compliments he wants to whisper in Stiles' ear. Those are words for another alpha to say.

Stiles nuzzles close, nearly kissing again. He's still hard between them, but he doesn't seem to be in too much of a rush to get off. Scott doesn't want to think about what that means and lets himself get lost in the way Stiles holds him and brushes his lips across his face.

"Don't leave me," Stiles whispers.

"Can't even if I wanted to." Scott nudges his hips forward with a huffed laugh.

Humor makes Stiles' mouth quirk at the corners. "I want you for my next heat. Can I do that? Do you do that?"

"It can happen, but there are a lot of things that can happen to get in the way of that," Scott says. "If I'm already with someone—" here, Stiles draws away slightly, tucking his chin against his chest. "If you get in a relationship before your next heat, I won't interfere with that."

They're quiet for a long time. The silence feels stilted and strange. No matter how many kisses they exchange, no matter how gently Scott massages Stiles' thigh, it feels like the connection they shared a few minutes ago has been severed. Stiles keeps them close long after Scott's knot goes down. He seems to feel better when he has Scott's weight on him, when he can match Scott's breathing and tuck his face against his shoulder.

His fingers draw circles over Scott's skin — swirling lines of touch that spin between Scott's shoulder blades and the back of his neck. Both are places that Stiles would mark him if they were… something more. Scott sighs heavily, forces himself to be relaxed, and pretends he doesn't notice the thoughtful way Stiles watches him.

"I won't, you know," Stiles murmurs.

"Won't what?" Scott asks.

Stiles' fingers go still, then his whole palm covers the back of Scott's neck. "I won't get in another relationship before my next heat."

"You don't know that," Scott tells him. "Your next heat won't be for months, Stiles. You're not even halfway through your first. Don't worry about your next one yet. You have no idea who you'll meet between now and then."

"It won't matter who I meet." Stiles sounds certain on this account. "I won't want them like this."

Scott kisses Stiles instead of replying, but he might as well have spoken for all the good it does him. Even he can tell that he's revealing too much when he kisses Stiles so tenderly. Trying to hold it all back is harder than he thought it would be. It makes his breath shake when he draw it in before going back in to kiss Stiles again and again until he finally manages to make himself stop.

He touches Stiles' bottom lip with a sweep of his thumb. It's soft and wet and starting to swell from all the kissing. Scott wants desperately to kiss him one more time, and then another time after that. He knows too that he shouldn't.

Instead, he says, "I should call Erica."

Stiles' tongue darts out quickly to wet his lips. He ends up licking Scott's thumb too. "What for?"

"Food," Scott says. "She needs to know that meals need to be delivered." It's not all she needs to know. "Any requests?"

Stiles smiles so sweetly that his whole face seems to brighten with happiness. "Just you," he says and draws Scott in for another lingering kiss.

"Stay right here," Scott says, tapping Stiles on the forehead before rolling to the side of the bed and leaning over to find his sweat pants on the floor. "Try to get some sleep, okay?"

Stiles murmurs a soft assent, but when Scott glances back to look, Stiles has his arm curled under his head. He doesn't look at all sleepy, but his gaze is warm and affectionate. There's nothing in his expression that shows he suspects what Scott's about to do, which makes it better and worse at the same time.

Scott takes his phone to the kitchen. It rings and rings in his ear, sounding hollow and empty, while he finds a notepad to write down a list of items he wants to make sure are sent over. Erica picks up on the fourth ring, sounding chipper as she croons, "Substitutes R Us! This is Erica speaking. How can I help you today?"

"Please tell me that's not what you're using as your standard greeting now."

Erica laughs. "Scott, honey. I can change it to whatever I want and you know it," she says. "Now, what can I do for you?"

They discuss meals quickly. Erica dutifully takes down all his requests — the number of meals, the groceries to be delivered at the end of the week so Stiles will have easy snacks while he recuperates — and makes some adjustments in the name of nutritional balance. It takes a while despite their efficiency, and Scott slumps over the counter, closing his eyes as he leans against the upper cabinets.

"How does it look? Is it enough?"

On her end, Erica scoffs rudely. "Enough? I'll be surprised if he'll have enough room in his kitchen for all of this."

Scott opens his mouth to ask if she wants to cut down the list to something more manageable, but ends up saying nothing. Somehow, the idea of limiting the amount of supplies that Stiles gets grates on Scott's nerves. Stiles deserves everything he could ever need.

"What's going on over there, Scott?" Erica asks, concerned. "You've never called in everything at one time like this before. It's always been one call for the ready meals and another at the end of the week for restocking. What's changed?"

Scott swallows thickly. His throat feels like it's closing up. "I need a switch out," he tells her. His voice sounds rough to his own ears.

"Tell me," she orders sternly. "Are you in danger?"

"No. No, I—"

"Is he in danger?"

"No. Maybe— I just—" Scott holds his breath for a moment, and Erica, thankfully, remains quiet. "It's too risky if I stay. I'm… I think I'm compromised."

"Scott. You've only been there for a day and a half." Erica is trying really hard to be reassuring — maybe to talk him out of the switch out. It's a rare request after all, and there's consequences for everyone involved.

"I know," he says. "I know it's fast. Believe me, I know. I don't know how to explain it, but you aren't here. You haven't seen— Erica, I can't control myself. I'm going out of my mind. I need you to send someone to replace me."

"Okay," Erica tells him, giving in grudgingly. She's not happy about this turn of events, but whether or not Scott is the focus isn't clear. Either way, she's not about to leave an out-of-control alpha anywhere near an omega in heat. "I'll send someone with the ready meals. Once they're unloaded, you can bring the truck back to the office. It shouldn't take more than a couple hours. Do you want me to stay with you on the phone until he gets there?"

"No, it'll be okay," he says, though he isn't certain. "It's not that bad. Not yet."

"Alright." Erica pauses. He hears her long nails clicking on the keyboard as she types. "Don't do anything stupid in the meantime. We'll talk when you get back."

Scott sets his phone on the counter. The house is quiet. He hopes that Stiles is sleeping like he asked. He should go back there, make sure that he's okay, and explain what would happen. His scent today has been so thick with heat that he wouldn't be surprised if Stiles peaked tonight, making the rest of the week a veritable sex marathon.

For all that Stiles wouldn't care what was done to him through the next few days so long as his needs were met, Scott knew he couldn't bear to stay with that kind of advantage. Stiles' heat would end and then so would whatever urges had Stiles asking if they could have regular appointments. While Stiles would be able to move on, Scott wouldn't. He could feel that truth in his heart. If Scott let this go on, he would end up haunting Stiles' footsteps forever.

He sighs and straightens, determined to end this… if not happily, then at least decently. And maybe later, if they met again and Stiles could still look at him…

Scott turns and stops.

Stiles is in the doorway of the kitchen. "You're leaving?"

"Stiles, let me explain—"

Flinching back from the hand Scott extends toward him, Stiles says, "Is it because of me? Did I do something? Did I say something?"

"No. God, no, you were perfect," Scott argues. This time, when he reaches for Stiles' hand, he's allowed to take it. He clasps it in both hands and holds it up, nearly kissing the fingers that curl around his hand. By some miracle, he restrains himself. "You haven't done anything wrong, I swear."

"Then stay," Stiles pleads. "I need you."

Scott wishes that were true. "All you need is someone to take care of you. Right now, I can't do that."

"But it has to be you," is Stiles' argument. "I've told you already. I don't want anyone else but you."

"I'm sorry," Scott says, but knows instantly that it's the wrong thing to say.

Stiles' expression crumples into misery. "No," he says. "You don't want to leave. I know you don't."

There's a ragged edge to his tone that Scott has heard before — in people who have lost their partners in accidents, in omegas who call in for emergency Substitutes because their heat mate is unable to make it. Scott shouldn't give in when Stiles crowds into his personal space and wraps his arms around him, but he ends up holding Stiles anyway. He makes soothing shushing sounds and tries not to listen to the pleading arguments that Stiles is pressing against his neck.

At least half of what Stiles says is fueled by his heat anyway, he tells himself. It's impossible to tell whether Stiles truly means the words or not, especially when it's being mumbled while Stiles peppers kisses across his bare shoulder and across his face while Scott turns his head to avoid being kissed on the mouth.

"Kiss me," Stiles says. "Kiss me. You'll see."

"No, Stiles—"

"I need you, Scott. It has to be you."

Stiles chokes on a whine, and that's when Scott smells it — the thick, overwhelming scent of Stiles' heat. It blossoms through the air like a perfume, sweet and intoxicating. It's the best things in life. It's home and hunger and the promise of satisfaction. Scott can barely think through the haze that follows, but he knows what Stiles wants because he's rubbing his palm over the front of Scott's pants, whispering words that seem to echo in his brain and get mixed up with his own desires.

Scott says no repeatedly for… he has no idea how long.

"At least let me taste your dick before you go," Stiles says. He sniffles. Maybe he's been crying.

Scott has to hold Stiles' arm to keep him from going to his knees right there. He holds Stiles by the back of the neck and breathes. Tries to breathe. His phone is right behind him. He could call Erica back and say that he's changed his mind. It'd be easy, and Stiles needs him so much. She wouldn't understand, but she's a beta anyway so how could she?

She isn't here listening to Stiles. She isn't shaking because she has to keep herself from kissing Stiles. Even if she knew what Stiles smells like when his heat peaked, she wouldn't be able to respond to it the way an alpha would. Erica wouldn't be able to take care of Stiles the way that Scott could, and if she even thought that she could, Scott might not even let her try. Thinking about her putting her hands on Stiles has a subvocal growl growing in his chest.

When the doorbell rings, Scott twists to put himself between Stiles and the door. Stiles seems not to have heard it. He presses against Scott's back and rubs his face between his shoulder blades. The doorbell rings again.

"Get rid of them," Stiles says. "Then come back and fuck me."

Scott nods absently, stepping toward the door. He opens it boldly and eyes the man at the door. He's familiar and doesn't seem like a threat — doesn't even smell like one — but he is big. Scott isn't sure he'd be able to get his hand all the way around his wrist. Not that Scott's going to let him think he can get in, regardless.

"Beta," he snarls.

"Boyd," the man corrects mildly. He pats his hand on the topmost of two large coolers that are stacked next to him. "I have meals for the omega who lives here. There are two more back at the truck."

Scott unlocks the screen door and grabs one of the coolers. It's heavy, but Scott refuses to be outmatched by Boyd, who carries in the second cooler without any trouble. Stiles sidles over to investigate the cooler that Scott brings in, rather than Boyd's, which makes Scott's chest swell with pride. He gives Boyd a smug look and starts toward Stiles to see what he's interested in.

Boyd catches him by the arm and doesn't seem at all put off by being growled at. "The other two coolers," he reminds Scott. "They need to be brought in too."

"Sure thing," he agrees gruffly and follows Boyd gradually.

When he steps outside, fresh air makes him gasp and stumble. Boyd catches him under the arm and hefts him all the way to the curb. Scott sinks down to the sidewalk and breathes in huge gulps, suddenly afraid of how he behaved and the things he'd thought.

"You okay?"

Scott shakes his head. "Don't let me back in there," he says hurriedly.

"Wasn't planning on it," Boyd assures him, clapping one hand on Scott's shoulder and giving it a firm squeeze as he kneels next to Scott. "There's only one more cooler and I'll be taking it back in. You'll be taking the truck back and Erica said she's expecting you."

Nodding, Scott lets his head hang for a moment. "You're my switch?" he asks, faintly incredulous even when Boyd lifts a brow that dares him to argue. "He needs an alpha. It won't work with you."

"Believe it or not, this is not the first time I've done this, so let me put it to you this way," Boyd sighs. "Omegas want an alpha, but they don't need one to get through their heat. From what I can tell, you wouldn't have let me in if I'd been an alpha anyway."

Shame makes Scott avert his gaze. "Sorry about that."

"It's no problem," Boyd replies easily. "Lots of alphas get possessive of their mates during heats. I can handle it. I can handle Stiles too. Go see Erica. Get yourself straightened out."

Boyd waits out his silence by heaving the last cooler out of the truck and setting it on the lawn before crouching next to Scott again. Scott watches Boyd pick at the grass with thick fingers and can't keep himself from imagining those hands on Stiles' body. Even without being able to smell Stiles' heat, the mental image makes his chest hurt.

"I can't do this," Scott says, laughing at himself as he shakes his head. "I'm sorry. I just— I don't want you to touch him."

"That's not up to you," Boyd says, implacable, "but if it makes it any easier, that's not my intention. All I'm here to do is make sure that he eats, sleeps and gets cleaned up now and then. I'm not a Substitute like you, but I can take care of him fine. Are you okay with that?"

It takes Scott a moment to say it, but eventually he nods. "Okay," he says. "Thank you." He glances back at the house and sees Stiles waiting behind the screen door. "Go on," he tells Boyd. "He shouldn't be alone right now."

"And you?"

"Give me a minute," Scott says. "I'll get there."

He doesn't watch Boyd going to the door, but he can hear the screen door close and lock. He can hear Stiles shouting and then crying again, and it's so loud that Scott hunches in on himself, bowing against the desire to run back to comfort Stiles with promises that he'll never leave again. He presses his face into the lawn and digs his fingers in the grass, hoping that he hasn't made things worse by leaving too late. Boyd's doesn't shout, but his voice carries, resonant and calm. Whatever he says seems to settle Stiles somewhat, gets him to stop yelling, and Scott's grateful that Boyd lets him hear that before he shuts the door, leaving him kneeling on the sidewalk alone.

The world seems terribly silent without Stiles near him.

It takes him three tries to get to his feet. His body feels weak. It must have taken all of his strength to stay away from Stiles.

The keys are in the cupholder when Scott finally gets in the truck, but ten minutes have passed before he actually turns the engine and starts driving. He goes slow. He takes the side roads instead of the highway and turns off the radio because the music starts to grate on his nerves. It takes him nearly twice as long to get back to the office, and he doesn't remember any of it by the time he's parked in the loading garage.

Erica is waiting for him on the dock, arms crossed and one hip cocked out impatiently. She crooks her finger at him and heads back inside. He follows her straight into her private office. It's not an actual work office. That's the front desk, as always. This office is for talking, for meetings with alphas and supervisors alike, for discussing clients and other things that need to be kept private. When the door closes behind Scott, the windows in the room turn opaque and the few lights scattered around the room flick on, giving everything a comforting glow.

"Have a seat," Erica says, throwing some of her blonde curls behind her shoulder. "Let's talk."

"I don't know what happened," Scott blurts out, which makes Erica's face get a pinched, exasperated look. "I can't explain it. It's never been like this before."

"It's not like you to lose your head like this," Erica comments. "Your control has always been incredible. Do you have an idea why it was different this time?"

Scott folds his fingers together between his knees and then, feeling as if leaning forward brought him too close to Erica, he leans back instead, slumping into the soft cushion of the chair and reaching out to flick the propeller on a decorative airplane. "I have a theory, but it's a stupid one."

Erica mirrors his posture and gestures with her hand for him to go on.

"Stiles was different from the start, I think," Scott says. "There was something about him that drew me to him. He's had relationships before, but I got the impression that his last one — the one with the alpha — didn't go so well. He kept comparing me to the other alpha, saying that I was nice and that he felt safe with me. I think I started to want to prove to him that being with an alpha could be a good thing, and it just got out of hand from there."

"That's not a bad thing," Erica says neutrally. "It's part of our training to be able to provide a safe environment for people to explore their needs and desires without judgement. It sounds like you were able to do that for him."

"I did, yes. I did that," Scott agrees, though the words slip out absently.

When Scott turns thoughtful and silent, Erica pipes up. "You said that you wanted to prove something to him. Is that different from how you are with other omegas?"

Scott rubs one sweaty hand down his pants, only realizing now that he's still shirtless. He probably left his phone in the kitchen too and his original clothes too. "Yes, I guess," he spits out. "Maybe. I don't remember thinking that it felt different at the time, but in retrospect, I was a lot more willing to go along with some things than I've been before."

Erica narrows in on that like a hawk. "What kind of things?"

"Beer," he tells her, wincing away from her stern look. "He was kind of insistent about it, but I only drank half a beer with dinner the first night. I didn't even get buzzed, and I figured that it might help him forget that he wanted me to knot him."

Erica's brows lift together. "Had you two already had sex by then?"

Scott lifts a couple fingers. "Somewhat. And oral from me. His body was still catching up on his hormones, to be honest. I didn't want to push too quickly, no matter how much he said he wanted it."

Nodding, Erica drums her fingers over the armrests of her chair. "Do I need to worry about the possibility of him having drugged your beer?"

"No, I don't think so," Scott says. "I saw him open the bottles. They were fresh."

She hums, seemingly satisfied. Then: "So did you?"

"What?"

"Did you knot him?"

Scott licks his lips nervously as he remembers and counts in his head the number of times he managed to have sex with Stiles in a day and a half. "Yeah," he says, voice rough. He coughs, slightly embarrassed. "Yes."

Thankfully, Erica's expression doesn't change much. She looks curious — maybe even surprised. "That's unusual for you. Weren't you hoping he'd forget about it?"

"I was. I did. I managed to put it off for the first night, but then..." Scott trails off, getting caught up in the memory of the only morning they shared. "He woke up first. He didn't even want breakfast. He wanted me to knot him first. Hell, I wanted it too, who am I kidding? I wanted it so much that I forgot—"

He cuts himself off abruptly and casts Erica a guilty look.

She sighs at his reluctance and rolls her eyes. "You can tell me now and I'll get pissed now. Or I can find out later and be even more pissed that you didn't tell me. Pick one."

"Condom," he confesses, voice rising when Erica stands up and starts pacing. "I only forgot it the first time and Stiles isn't on the pill. He didn't seem like he wanted to think about the possibility of being pregnant, but when I told him that I should tell you about it, he said not to bother."

"And you listened to him?" Erica demands. "Scott, there's a protocol!"

"I know!" Scott throws his hands up in surrender. "I know how bad it looks."

"Are you sure?" Erica whips around to level him with a murderous stare. "Because it looks pretty shitty from here. It's like you took one look at Stiles and threw out the rules because— because— Jesus, can you even give me a good reason why?" She holds up a finger before he can speak. "Something other than you being thoughtless and impulsive."

"He needed me!" Scott says.

"All of your clients need you!" Erica shouts back. "You didn't break the rules for them!"

Scott stands, feeling as if he's looking through a sea of red as he roars: "Stiles is not just a client!"

It takes a while before Scott realizes that he's shaking. The room is quiet enough that he can hear himself panting for breath. Erica stands in front of him, but she's put some distance between them. Her eyes are narrowed and her lips are pressed in a tight line. Looking down, Scott sees that his hands are in fists at his side. When he loosens them, his palms have marks from his nails.

"I'm sorry," Scott gasps, alarmed at himself. "I didn't mean to— I was like this earlier with Boyd. Stiles' heat had peaked a couple minutes before he showed up and I kept—"

Erica doesn't move. She follows him with her eyes when he sinks back into his seat and rubs his face with his hand.

"I was acting like— I can't even describe it. I felt protective and possessive, and even though I knew Boyd wasn't a threat, I still had to be better than him so that Stiles would know that he'd made the right choice."

"A neanderthal," Erica suggests softly.

Scott nods. "Yeah, I guess."

Erica edges forward and eventually she's across from him again. She doesn't sit down, though. She leans against the wide armrest and regards him thoughtfully before speaking again.

"I'm putting you on probation for the rest of the month," she says.

Scott closes his eyes against the shock. Even though he knew he'd messed up badly, he hadn't expected such a long punishment.

"I'm also putting Stiles on your blacklist," she adds. "If we're lucky, he'll be willing to come to us again during his next heat, but you won't have him as a client again. I can't risk this kind of behavior again. Keep in mind that this is if everything goes well. If we're unlucky, he'll sue us for causing him emotional trauma."

A humorless laugh catches in Scott's throat, but he doesn't argue. "What do you want me to do in the meantime?"

"Go out. See your family and friends. And don't," she stresses. "Do not go looking for Stiles. Come back when you've got your head wrapped around what's happened in the last couple days."

*

When he reflects on his meeting with Erica later, it's distressing to recognize the amount of concern that was in her voice. Once he looked past the anger, that's all there was — endless worry. Who could blame her? Scott knows that his behavior had been completely out of the ordinary. He wasn't the kind of guy who did that kind of macho alpha bullshit, and he's always been proud of that.

He's pissed at himself for the first week of probation and basically exercises until he's exhausted because otherwise he'll run across town to check up on Stiles. Erica emails him once, a few days into it, to tell him that he has some personal items to pick up from the office. When he gets there, she hands over the clothes he'd worn to Stiles' house and his cell phone.

He asks about Stiles and ends up on the receiving end of a suspicious look. "You don't have to go into detail," he says. "I only want to know if he's okay."

Erica doesn't answer him, but Boyd does. He sneaks up to Scott's side and smiles politely. "He's fine. He recovered as well as anyone could, considering," he says as he hands over some folders to Erica.

Boyd's already walking away by the time Scott shakes off his attempt to see if one of those folders belongs to Stiles. Scott runs after Boyd and ignores Erica shouting after him. Boyd doesn't seem entirely pleased to have Scott grabbing his elbow, but other than eyeing Scott's hand, he's completely cooperative.

"What did you mean by that? Considering what?" Scott asks.

Boyd hums and gives him a look that feels pretty judgemental, like he's not sure how Scott is the alpha that's trusted with new clients so frequently. Scott is prepared to tell himself that it's his imagination, but then Boyd straightens, sighing like he's being forced into a distasteful situation.

"Considering you ditched him in the middle of his heat," Boyd explains. "How do you think he's doing? He's pissed and he's miserable, but he'll be fine."

Scott grits his teeth. "I couldn't have stayed. You know that."

"No, I don't," Boyd snaps back. "Look, I get you alphas have this crazy connection with omegas, and I get that everybody's got their personal limits on the kind of stuff they can put up with. But I also get that it takes a lot to get omegas worked up like Stiles was." Boyd holds up his hands and retreats a step. "Maybe you don't know what you did. My advice? Man up."

It's easily the most aggravating conversation that Scott's had in recent memory. He goes home feeling simultaneously humiliated and furious and ends up packing a weekend bag to do a surprise visit at his mother's house. If there's anyone who can talk him through his own head, it's his mom.

Melissa McCall works more hours now than perhaps she did when Scott lived with her, out of boredom and loneliness rather than need, but when Scott shows up on her doorstep, she calls in sick to spend the day with him. Being near her is like finding a rock to lean on in a storm. It always has been. If Scott ever finds himself doubting his decisions, he knows he can count on his mom to set him on the right path — or at least give him the confidence to find his way without her.

"Well this is unusual," Melissa comments as she pours them drinks — ice tea to battle the heat of summer. "We're nowhere near any major holidays. My birthday isn't for another month."

Scott draws lines through the condensation on the glass. "Belated mother's day?" he tries.

"Mother's day was last month, Scott," she says, taking a sip of her drink. "You never forget to call or have flowers delivered. You're here for a reason, so spit it out before I have to ground you."

"Mom," he whines. "I'm twenty six. You can't ground me anymore."

Melissa smiles as she leans forward, arms crossed on the table. "Then you have nothing to fear, do you? Talk to me. What's got you so wound up that you've driven all the way home to see me?"

Scott relays the whole story as best he can, and it takes so long that his mom ends up making them sandwiches in the middle of it. He ends up confessing to worries that he hadn't been aware of having, asking hypothetical questions about autonomy and consent and how he could know if Stiles really wanted him when he'd been under the influence of his heat the entire time. Melissa listens dutifully, but Scott glosses over some of the details — the least of which being the potential pregnancy scare — because it's not like she wants a blow by blow of everything he and Stiles did together — no pun intended. By the end of it, her concern is visible, and she covers his hand with her own when he sighs in relief of having told her everything.

"You've got yourself in a really confusing situation, Scott," she says.

"I feel like I'm going crazy," Scott tells her, rubbing the heel of his palm against his forehead. "Maybe you were right about this job. Maybe I'm not cut out for it anymore. I mean, people always say that when they start hitting my age, they start looking to settle down. Maybe this whole Substitute thing isn't for me."

Melissa laughs softly and squeezes his hand before drawing away. "You're telling me that this thing with Stiles has you so scared that you're just going to change your whole life to keep from possibly getting in a similar situation again?"

"What if it does? What if I get another omega and I start thinking that I want to stay with them forever?" Scott asks. "Erica's already put me on probation because of Stiles. If it happens again, she'll probably fire me."

That, at least, sobers up his mother's mild amusement. She hums, stirring the tip of her finger through her tea to pick out the lemon seed floating at the top. "Alright, let's forget about your job for a little bit," she says and off his frazzled, wild-eyed look, she adds, "Jobs come and go, honey. You're smart and resourceful. If you lose one job, you can get another. For now, let's figure out this thing with Stiles."

"Okay," Scott agrees, resigned to exploring the murky line between instinct and emotion. "I'm all ears."

"Do you want to see him again?" she asks, watching him.

Scott drops his head into his hands. "I don't know," he groans. "I'm scared of what I'd be like if I did. The last thing I want is to turn out like dad."

Melissa twists her wet fingers in a napkin. "I think the fact that you're worried about that is a good sign," she says. "A worse person than you wouldn't care about their behavior or how they might hurt someone. Is that the only thing stopping you from seeing him again?"

"Maybe." Scott's brows scrunch together. He looks at his mother uncertainly. "Do you think I could love him? I wasn't even with him for two days. Is it even possible?"

"Well," Melissa says. She stalls by popping a potato chip into her mouth. "I'm not going to call myself an expert on love or on the bonds that can form between alphas and omegas. I'm also not going to tell you what you feel. Only you can know that, but I do think that to know for sure, you'll have to see him again."

His mouth twists. Confrontation has never been something he's been especially fond of — always more of a lover than a fighter — but he understands that it can be necessary even if he doesn't like it. "I think he could be my mate," he confesses softly.

Melissa sets down her drink. "Mates and love aren't the same thing."

"I know," he says.

It'd be difficult for him not to know, what with his parents having been mates. That kind of thing is chemistry anyway — instinct and biology. Maybe his parents loved each other once, but being mates doesn't mean that the relationship can't sour because of the choices you make. At least there's a bright side: another mate could be out there, if you want it, and it isn't required for a relationship anyway.

Still, the immediate, gut-deep connection to a potential mate is hard to break. Scott knows from experience how difficult it can be to shake off that feeling, how hard it could be to distinguish between it and love, and how easy it is to believe that they're the same. Scott was lucky so far that he'd never encountered a client that could be his mate, but thinking that it might be a reason why he felt so strongly about Stiles so suddenly is nearly a relief. It would explain a lot about everything.

"If you want him to be in a relationship with you," his mom says, cutting into his thoughts with gentle touch to his arm, "you will definitely have to talk to him. If you want him to be your mate, he deserves to know."

Scott picks at his napkin, ripping it into shreds on the table. "What if he doesn't want to see me?"

His mom shrugs and Scott whines wordlessly at her in frustration. "If he doesn't want to see you, then you'll have your answer. No matter how you end up feeling about him, you can't make him feel anything he doesn't want to. Maybe you'll be relieved. Maybe you'll have your heart broken. But you'll never find out hiding at your mom's house."

Pouting, Scott leans over to rest his head on her shoulder. "Does that mean you're kicking me out?"

His mom pats his head. "Yes," she says without any sort of sympathy. "I'm your mom, not your safety net. Call me when you figure out what's going to happen with you and Stiles, okay?" She pinches his arm so hard that he squirms to get away. "And no more surprise visits, young man. I have a job too, you know."

"Ow, ow, hey!" Scott cries. "I'm emotionally vulnerable, here!"

"Go be emotionally vulnerable with Stiles!" his mom tells him, pinching her fingers together threateningly as she starts to herd him toward the door.

He snatches up his car keys from the coffee table and flees toward the front door. "You know, Erica told me that I couldn't go looking for Stiles while I'm on probation! What if she finds out?"

"That doesn't sound like my problem!" Melissa sing-songs with a grin before holding her arms wide for a hug.

Scott dives in without hesitation, smiling at her familiar touch and scent. Even when she nearly always faintly carried the sterilized scent of the hospitals with her, Scott would always associate her warmth with home. Living in the city for a few years wasn't going to change that.

"You'll be alright, you hear me?" his mom murmurs in his ear, giving him a tight squeeze before letting him go. "I know it seems tough now, but you're a good man, Scott. Trust yourself to do the right thing."

Scott nods. "I'm still scared."

"That's okay, too," Melissa assures him. "That just means it's important to you." She knocks her fingers gently against his jaw. "Now go on. I have a sick day to take advantage of and I can't do that with you under foot."

Scott raises his gaze hopefully. "I could help."

"And have you see me singing along with the radio while I'm cleaning?" She shoves at him fondly and wags a finger at him while he backs off to the edge of the porch. "It's enough that you saw that embarrassment for twenty years, sweetie. You're not going to con another day out of me."

Throwing up his hands in surrender, Scott steps down from the porch. "Okay, okay," he says, then pauses, smiling at his mother in unadulterated affection. "Thanks, mom."

"Anytime, kiddo," she replies warmly. "Love you."

"Love you too," he says, and finally he gets back into his car.

He feels better about the situation in a way — no less terrified of what might happen in the future, but he has the confidence at least to face those consequences. The drive home is barely more than a couple hours on the highway, and Scott takes it leisurely to think about what his mom has said.

Scott wants to talk to Stiles now if he can, while his emotions are still fresh and pure. If he waits any longer and if he talks to anyone else, there's a chance that he'll start to doubt his feelings, but he also knows that it would be better if he gives Stiles space for now. It's only been a few days since the end of his heat, probably. It would be unfair if Scott tries to seek him out too early, especially when he's under orders to avoid him.

Thinking of Stiles as a compatible mate sends a slight thrill through Scott's nerves, making him smile at absolutely nothing. He knows that being mates doesn't mean that he and Stiles are in love with each other, but it would be hard to resist trying, regardless. The attraction is there — a solid foundation that they can build on if they want. The possibilities are endless if Scott could work up the nerve to face Stiles again, if Stiles was willing to listen at all.

*

Back in the city, Scott resists the urge to take the exit that would let him go past Stiles' neighborhood. He goes home. He unpacks the weekend bag he never got to use since his mom kicked him back home, and then he texts Allison and Isaac to see if they want to go out. He's not especially keen on playing third wheel to their relationship, but considering he once thought each of them could be his mate (although, separately), Scott knows that they'll have some insight that his mom wouldn't.

He's been friends with them for years, even after the failure of their relationships. There had been a month where they'd talked about the three of them being in a relationship together, but even the promise of that had been unable to sway Scott away from his work. He cares for them a lot still, but neither Isaac nor Allison wanted to share Scott outside of their relationship and Scott had bowed out rather than force the issue.

They meet at a bar that's closer to Allison's place than either Isaac's or Scott's. Scott arrives later than planned because public transport is crowded this close to rush hour, but it looks like the other two haven't been waiting too long. He watches them from the doorway for a moment before heading to the table. They look happy, leaning toward each other as they talk. Scott can't help wondering if Isaac had been at Allison's apartment when he contacted them.

They're delighted to see him, of course. It's been a while since Scott's been available to be social. His schedule is usually packed during the spring, but they wave off his apologies. They want to know how he's been, if anything new has happened since they last saw each other.

He tells them about Stiles. It's nerve wracking, really. He never in a million years would have imagined telling his exes about someone like Stiles — especially since he's wants to suggest a relationship with him — and frankly, the concerned look that Isaac and Allison share while he talks makes the confidence his mom gave him shrivel up into a heavy rock in his gut.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he hates me," Scott says, hoping that his tone will move his friends to offer him support out of pity. "I didn't want to leave, but it wouldn't have been right of me to stay."

Isaac leans back in his chair as a waitress drops off a round of beers for each of them. He shrugs as he twists open his bottle and gives a significant glance at Allison before saying, "Maybe it's for the best if he does."

Scott straightens. "That's not the kind of response I was looking for."

Isaac opens his hand placatingly as he leans back toward the table. Some of his curls hang forward over one eye. He looks sweet, but Scott knows better. "You don't exactly have a great track record," Isaac says with a grimace. "And running out on him in the middle of his heat? Not the best first impression."

"That's not fair," Scott argues. "Just because I haven't had a successful relationship in the past doesn't mean I have to give up before I've even tried with Stiles."

Ever the peacekeeper, Allison puts a hand in the middle of their small table to stall whatever it is that Isaac opens his mouth to say. "What Isaac means to say," she stresses, shooting Isaac a scathing look, "is that you tend to get really caught up in the honeymoon period. It's not a bad thing, but—"

"You mean I'll never commit once it passes," Scott cuts in, eyes narrowing. "That's what you're saying."

Isaac snorts at Scott's offended tone. "You never have before."

"Are we even talking about Stiles any more?" Scott snaps angrily.

"Who else would we be talking about?" Isaac demands, though he doesn't quite meet Scott's eyes. "As far as I can tell, you could have been any alpha assigned to him while he was in heat. If you sincerely thought any different, you'd be with him now instead of here with us."

Allison puts her hand on Isaac's shoulder, but she doesn't argue against what he says. She doesn't, usually. When it comes to Scott, their opinions are nearly always aligned. It was one of the most distressing parts of their relationship, back in the day.

"You've told us before that heat bonds can make people think all sorts of things," Allison says quietly. It should be difficult to hear her over the dull buzz of conversation around them, but Scott's never been able to tune out the way she speaks with a tender kind of authority. "It's good that you're giving him time to recover. If you do meet him again—"

"When," Scott corrects curtly.

Allison nods. "When you meet him again, you'll want that to be gone so that you know that what you feel goes beyond instinct and hormones," she says. "I know that you might not want to hear what we have to say. It might not even be fair of us since we haven't met Stiles ourselves, but we don't want to see you hurt."

Scott's wholly prepared to let the topic drop and opens his mouth to say so when the door to the bar swings shut with a bang behind a large group. They pass their table, conversation so loud and chaotic that it sounds like the garbled noises of birds as they push toward the bar. Scott's stool gets bumped by a guy near the back of the group, and he twists around to see if he can catch who it was. The guy in question is big and black and he turns his familiar face for half a second toward Scott before moving on.

"Huh, Boyd," Scott murmurs, lifting his shoulder to rub the corner of his mouth against it. His shirt smells kind of good where Boyd brushed against it — strange but there are notes under the scent that he likes.

"Who?" Allison asks, following Scott's line of sight.

"A guy from work," Scott tells them, gesturing Isaac to settle down when he sees him craning to find Boyd. Isaac has a scowl on his face. "Chill out. He's a beta."

"He's rude, is what he is," Isaac says.

"He's got company," Allison tells Isaac, gesturing with a finger. "You can relax."

Isaac grunts like he's not entirely satisfied, but he relaxes back in his seat and tilts his beer toward his mouth again. Scott tries to find Boyd again because he hadn't been aware that the guy was with anyone in particular. Sure enough though, Boyd is in the middle of the dance floor with someone's arms wound around his neck.

"Stiles," Scott breathes. He isn't sure how he knows, but he's absolutely certain. Both Allison and Isaac snap their gazes toward him. "Boyd is with Stiles."

"Oh," says Allison at the same time that Isaac chuckles and comments into the mouth of his beer bottle, "Well I guess that answers your question, huh, Scotty?"

But Scott barely has it in him to pay attention to them because Boyd's turned enough for him to make out Stiles' freckled face past the bulk of his shoulder. He looks flushed already, like this might not be the first bar that Boyd's brought him to, and he throws his head back with a laugh before he starts dancing back to the bar.

Stiles sees him. His bright smile falters for a split second before Stiles looks pointedly away, and Scott has to tighten his grip on his beer because he can feel his whole body aching to go to Stiles' side. His teeth hurt like they might become fangs at any moment. He feels like an animal, with his whole focus narrowed down to Stiles, and not even Allison's grip on his wrist is enough to keep him from growling when he sees Stiles coyly flirting with the bartender.

Fact is that Scott can barely hear anything other than Stiles' voice — a bit rough over the words of his drink order — and he can barely smell anything past Stiles' post-heat scent — slight, but lingering and mouth watering nonetheless. He tilts his head to watch how Stiles holds the rim of his shot glass with three fingers, baring his throat as he tilts his drink into his mouth. Stiles licks his lips afterward, and Scott mimics him without thinking, aware of how Stiles eyes him in his periphery.

Boyd comes up to Stiles' side as he's knocking back a second shot. Stiles winks at the bartender and rubs his hand over Boyd's head like he's petting him fondly. ("Let's keep dancing," Stiles says, pouting at Boyd's reply and adding, "I don't want to argue. All my ideas are great, so come on.") Stiles pulls Boyd back to the dance floor, and Scott watches them with so much intensity that he barely blinks for risk of missing something.

"Well," says Isaac — breaking into Scott's focus easily because he's leaned in to speak into his ear — "I guess Boyd must have decided that the taste he got of Stiles during his heat wasn't enough."

"Isaac!" Allison says sharply.

Stiles' arms are back around Boyd's neck. He makes eye contact with Scott over Boyd's shoulder, and his eyes look dark to Scott in the shitty bar lighting. Isaac makes another comment in Scott's ear, but Scott doesn't hear it at all. He's on his feet and shoving people out of his way as he strides toward Boyd and Stiles.

His friends shout at his back, but Scott ignores them. All he can see is Stiles and the way he's looking at Scott while he dances against Boyd. When he sees Boyd's hands settle at Stiles' waist, Scott is reminded suddenly of Boyd's promise — that his goal wasn't to have sex with Stiles — and how that's clearly not the case anymore, is it? Scott's furious, and he feels — perhaps unfairly— betrayed.

Scott snarls as he shoves Boyd away from Stiles, not at all placated by the hands that Boyd throws up in surrender. He wants to know what the hell Boyd thinks he's doing, but before he can voice the question, Stiles is in his face, demanding the same thing of Scott.

It's abruptly sobering, the sight of Stiles' anger — the shredded sound of his voice as he shouts at Scott. There are a barrage of accusations, and Scott backs up in the face of them as Stiles tells him that he has no right, that he needs to leave, and then, the worst of them all:

"You left me!"

Scott's throat closes up with shame. Stiles looks close to crying, and the rising tingle on the back of his neck makes Scott aware of the crowd whispering in a circle around them and staring. When he looks, Scott can see Isaac and the top of Allison's face. The look on Isaac's face couldn't have spelled I told you so any more effectively without holding up a sign.

"I'm sorry," Scott whispers in a rush, stepping back from Stiles. "Sorry, I— I'm sorry."

Scott bolts for the outdoors, ducking to hide his face from the people who part around him. He brushes past Isaac and Allison, muttering further apologies without looking them in the eyes. He only breathes again when he gets to the far side of the parking lot and sinks down to a bench by the street. It's humiliating to think that he's regressed so far that he might as well be back in Erica's office and fresh from leaving Stiles' home.

In his pocket, his cell phone vibrates with an incoming call. It's Allison. Scott brushes his thumb over the buttons on his phone, nail picking at the edges of the accept button. At one time, he would have felt comfortable going to her with his troubles, but after tonight, he's not so sure. He'd hoped that she and Isaac would have supported him after talking himself into facing Stiles again. He would like to think that he wouldn't have acted so terribly if he hadn't just spent his evening fighting the two of them for a scrap of approval, even in the face of Stiles' obvious goading.

Bowing his head, Scott hopes that he hasn't completely ruined his chance with Stiles, but he has a hard time imagining that Stiles would ever stand to look at him again. Everything Stiles shouted tonight had been true, after all. Any right he had to Stiles — if he'd ever had any in the first place — was revoked the moment he left Stiles.

Scott's moment of misery is interrupted by the crunch of gravel underfoot. He looks up, thinking that Allison or Isaac might be coming after him, but he's surprised to see Boyd and Stiles instead.

"The two of you should talk," Boyd says, nudging Stiles toward the bench.

Stiles huffs, shaking off the grip that Boyd has on his arm, but he slumps down next to Scott anyway, radiating with so much resentment that Scott can feel the chill being sent his way. "Why?" Stiles grinds out. "I've already said my piece."

"Then listen," Boyd replies, implacable as ever. He pokes Stiles between the brows a couple times to ruin the snippy expression on his face. "I'm sure Scott has something he needs to say too."

Stiles scowls, slapping at Boyd's hand, and he crosses his arms, pouting harder than anyone Scott has ever seen. He's pointedly not looking at Scott, but his anger seems to lessen when Boyd backs off to give them space, to be the guard between them at the people gathering outside the bar. Scott's startled to see so many people milling outside. He hadn't thought anyone would be that interested.

"Made quite the scene, huh," Scott murmurs, trying for and failing to achieve an amused and friendly tone.

Stiles snorts. "There wouldn't have been a scene to make if you hadn't been an asshole."

Scott ducks his head and rubs both his hands through his hair. He sighs heavily. "I'm sorry," he says. "I ruined your night out with Boyd, and it wasn't my place to step in. I shouldn't have— I should have left you alone."

"Are you kidding me?" Stiles hisses. "That's what you're apologizing for?" He pulls his arm back and punches Scott's shoulder so hard that Scott falls off the bench. "Were you listening to anything I said in there? What about last week? I was in the middle of my heat. You were supposed to take care of me, but instead you left!"

Scott stares up at Stiles from the ground. "Stiles..."

"Did Boyd tell you what happened, after you left?" Stiles asks.

Scott shakes his head, but he can imagine all on his own. For all that Boyd had promised that he had no intention to touch Stiles, Scott knows that it would have been difficult to deny Stiles anything. It might have only started with Boyd keeping watch to make sure that Stiles didn't hurt himself, but even the strongest of men would cave to Stiles' needy pleading. He can imagine Stiles curled against Boyd's massive body with one leg hitched up so Boyd could push a fat dildo into him. He can imagine Boyd covering Stiles in sweet kisses and hearing him mewl desperately. He can imagine all of it, and he doesn't want to.

"Three days," Stiles says, kneeling down next to Scott and leaning close with an expression that seems torn between anger and hope. "That's how long it took for my heat to end. Even with Boyd taking care of me, I lost my voice by the second day because I was begging him to bring you back to me."

Stiles' anger loses its heat after a moment.

"I needed you," Stiles whispers. "Boyd said that there was a good reason for why you left, and I knew he had to be right. Everything I'd learned about you... I knew that you took care of the omegas that came to you. You wouldn't have left me unless you had to, right?"

"Stiles..." Scott reaches up to touch Stiles' face, but he stops himself before he can.

"Am I right?" Stiles demands more fiercely, staring Scott down determinedly. His eyes shine dangerously, catching the light from the street lamps. He digs his knuckles against his eyes and then covers them. "Just tell me. Why did you leave?"

Scott sits up, getting his legs under him. He touches Stiles' shoulder, pulling back briefly when Stiles flinches. He tries again, and this time, Stiles lets him. Scott draws Stiles close, hugging him to his chest, and Stiles latches on immediately, arms around Scott's chest and over one shoulder. His face is wet where it presses against Scott's neck. He sniffles, and Scott holds him tighter, covering the back of Stiles' head with his hand.

"I'm sorry I hurt you," Scott says. "I didn't want to."

"But you did," Stiles croaks out.

"I'm sorry," he says again. "I couldn't stay. It was too risky."

"Risky?" Stiles echoes with a sharp laugh. "What could possibly be so—"

"I think I fell in love with you," Scott whispers.

Stiles goes quiet. "What—" He shifts against Scott, adjusting his hold but not letting him go at all. "What's so bad about that?" he asks softly.

"It's not what you came to me for," Scott tries to explain. He wishes he were brave enough to look Stiles in the face for this, but he isn't. He's scared of how honest he's being and it's easier to speak when Stiles is too close to see — a comforting scent and touch that allow Scott to pretend that he's not terrified. "You trusted me to help you through your heat. That's all you wanted. You were a client and vulnerable, and I couldn't trust myself not to take advantage. I knew that if I stayed, if I got attached, I wouldn't be able to let you go."

"Is that why you were mean to Boyd?" Stiles asks. He tucks his nose near the angle of Scott's jaw and then leans back enough that Scott can see his face in his peripheral vision. "Because... because you're in love with me?"

Scott nods. "Yeah," he says, lifting his gaze only long enough to find Boyd's broad silhouette still standing between them and the other bar patrons.

He thinks he understands now how omegas feel during their heats — all this desire burning inside him, struggling to break free. It's scary how much he wants to hold Stiles forever, and it's scarier still to think that there's a whole crowd of people that might be able to see it clearly on his face, in every line of his body. He feels safer knowing that Boyd is there, even if he's not doing anything. Scott feels guarded, free to relax into Stiles' touch for as long as he's granted it.

Scott ends up looking at his own hands, settled at Stiles' waist, and at their knees, nudged alongside each other. It makes Scott warm inside. "I'll have to apologize to him. You don't have to worry about it. I'll do it now, before I go home."

Stiles' fingers pluck at the threads of Scott's shirt. "It looked like you were here with friends. Are they going to be mad that you're leaving early?"

"They'll understand." At least, Scott hopes they will. Even if Isaac and Allison are going to be upset with him, he doesn't feel much like staying — not after making such a scene, not if everyone is going to be gawking at him when he's trying to drink a beer. "It's better if I don't stay. I don't want to mess up your night with Boyd any more than I have."

The self-appointed punishment is harder to say than he would like to admit, but it's okay so long as he doesn't think about letting Stiles go back to Boyd's arms. He doesn't notice Stiles' frown.

He barrels on, determined to be supportive — to be a good person, a good alpha. "Boyd's a good guy. Strong. He's a good choice."

Stiles' hands stop moving. "Scott," he says carefully. "Boyd is just a friend. That's all he is."

Scott shakes his head. "It's okay if he's more," he insists. He doesn't want Stiles to feel like he has to lie in order to spare Scott's fragile, stupid feelings. "I mean it. I won't get angry if he's who you want, especially since he's the one who took care of you after I left. I'd— I'd understand."

"God, Lydia was right," Stiles mutters gruffly. "Alphas can be so fucking stupid sometimes."

Scott feels the red bleeding into his eyes again. He wants to demand who Lydia is, but he bites back the question forcibly as Stiles gets a handful of his hair and yanks him into kiss. He bites at Scott's mouth and soothes the sting with his lips and tongue. Scott gasps when Stiles lets him go and shudders when he realizes that Stiles is framing his face with his hands, that Stiles' thumbs are stroking over his cheeks.

Scott doesn't dare open his eyes. he can barely breathe for the shock of it.

"Look at me," Stiles whispers. With some effort, Scott does. Stiles smiles. His eyes are rimmed in red from crying and his nose is wet, but he's smiling at Scott and he's never looked more beautiful.

"Scott," Stiles says, sounding so soft and so sincere. "The only person that I want in this whole wide world is right here with me."

Scott makes a noise like he's breaking.

"Yeah," Stiles sighs. "Stupid, huh?"

"I love you," Scott says and leans in to kiss Stiles — quickly because he doesn't dare take more than Stiles is willing to give. He would have stopped himself if he could, but the idea of leaving "I love you. I'm sorry I was an asshole. I was stupid. I love you so much."

"I love you too," Stiles whispers and then — a sly grin spreading devilishly across his face — pushes at Scott's shoulders to get to his feet. He waggles a stern finger in Scott's face. "You have to make it up to me, you realize."

Confused, Scott blinks, fingers curling in the empty air now that Stiles is no longer close enough to touch. "What?"

When Scott takes the hand he holds out, Stiles pulls him to his feet and then reels him in so fast that their chests thump as they hit. "Three days," he says like he's sharing a secret. "I was plugged up by fake plastic cocks for three whole days when I could have been feeling you come in me."

Scott groans, head tipping back as he glances furtively toward the bar again — to the remaining stragglers that are still hoping to witness some kind of drama. "You can't say that here, Stiles..."

"Then where would you like me to say it?" Stiles asks eagerly. "In your car? At my house? At yours?"

Scott gapes at Stiles in surprise. "Your heat was only last week!" he whispers, glancing guiltily over his shoulder. He yelps when Stiles' nimble fingers find the front of his pants and squeeze, and he whips back around to pin Stiles' hands to his sides. "You can't possibly be thinking about sex right now!"

"Why not? Cause I'm an omega and so I can't possibly want sex with you when I'm not in heat?" Stiles snaps back, straining to get his hands loose. "I miss you. I want you. I need you to remind me that I belong to you."

Scott curses and bites at Stiles' jaw. "Okay," he says, surrendering wholly to his own weakness. "Okay, let's— My place is closer than yours."

He bites down again on Stiles' neck. He wants to leave his mark, but he doesn't. He can't bring himself to do it — not yet. He'll do it when it's something that he knows both of them want, when Stiles tells him that he can. For now, the bite is there to bookmark the spot he wants to put it, later.

"Shit, I don't have my car. Did you carpool with Boyd or—"

"I drove myself," Stiles says with a rush, twisting his hands in Scott's grip so that that they're holding each other's arms instead. "Come on," he says and pulls Scott along behind him.

Feeling slightly dazed and off guard, Scott stumbles after Stiles, intimately aware of the heat of Stiles' hand, the iron grip around his wrist as Stiles leads them to the other side of the parking lot.

He gets briefly distracted from the bare expanse of Stiles' neck above his collar and by the scattered laughter from the crowd watching them, and he flashes a ferocious glare at them until he sees Boyd. He raises his hand, wanting to apologize but not wanting to shout it. Boyd waves back with a smug smirk and doesn't seem at all disappointed by the fact that Stiles is dragging Scott home instead.

That's a relief, at least.

Stiles' car turns out to be a blue Jeep — kind of old, kind of worn, but Scott feels like it suits him perfectly. He shoves Scott up against the passenger side and kisses him against the door, both hands palming down Scott's chest. Scott grunts, hardening against Stiles' hip already. He's as helpless against his desire for Stiles as he was before — perhaps more so now that he's acknowledged his weakness.

"If I was willing to let anyone else see you come, I'd suck you off right here," Stiles says, grinning when Scott moans. He licks across Scott's mouth. "Get in the car."

Stiles is already turning the ignition on by the time Scott gathers his wits enough to climb into the passenger seat. He says, "You'll have to give me directions," and Scott nods, strapping his seat belt across his chest as Stiles guns it out onto the road.

It takes ten minutes for them to make it to Scott's apartment complex — and another two before they can find available parking in the visitor's section — but it feels like it passes in the blink of an eye.

Scott can't remember if traffic was good or bad, if there were any red lights before they got to the highway. All he can remember is Stiles' profile, passing in brief splashes of light as they sped along. There'd been a tightness to his face that rendered his expression kind of stony, but when he'd caught Scott staring at him, it had melted away. Stiles had found Scott's hand and laced their fingers together. They'd held hands for the rest of the drive.

Stiles kills the engine as soon as he's parked, and Scott's reaching for him at once, leaning across the stick shift to kiss him. Stiles yields into him in a way that he hadn't when they'd kissed in front of the bar, when everyone had been there watching them. Here, hidden in the soft shadows of his Jeep, Stiles has no reservation against revealing how much he aches for Scott's touch.

"I thought—" Stiles says quietly. "Your apartment."

"In a moment," Scott says. "Let me—" He nudges Stiles into lifting his chin and he kisses tenderly the sweet length of his neck. "I want to mark you tonight. Right here." He bites down gently, and Stiles exhales roughly as he grabs Scott's shoulders. "Can I?"

"Right now?" Stiles asks. He sounds like he might say yes already. "Here?"

"Do you want me to do it now?" Scott asks, pulling back to look at Stiles' face — at the eager flush coloring his cheeks. "I can wait until later, when we're—"

"Start it now," Stiles cuts in. "I want to feel it. And then, later... Finish it then."

Nodding, Scott bows his head toward Stiles' throat. Stiles is already lifting his chin again, yanking his collar open so that even more of his skin is available for Scott to use.

He feels drunk when he opens his mouth wide over Stiles' pulse, but it feels good — it feels right — to have the taste of Stiles' skin, his sweat, all of him on his tongue. The hard beat of his blood pushing out from under his skin, blossoming as fresh heat under his teeth. Stiles is panting above him. His hands clutch at Scott's shoulders, at his hair — petting him, encouraging him — and when Stiles moans brokenly, Scott bites down harder.

He remembers distantly that he's not supposed to finish the mark yet, that he has to wait — he manages to pulls back a scant half inch, but stays where he is, breathing in the desperate arousal that's suddenly filling the car. It's like the scent of Stiles' heat, but it's different — less dizzying, less numbing, though it makes Scott want to touch Stiles' all over.

Stiles whimpers and puts the space between them that Scott can't seem to. "Your apartment," he says pointedly. "I want to see your bed."

Scott licks his lips. He tastes Stiles' skin on them. "Just my bed?"

"For now," Stiles replies, grinning so wickedly that Scott starts to scramble into the driver seat to kiss him again. Before he can, Stiles laughs as he opens the door and basically falls out of the Jeep. He's still laughing when Scott chases after him, squealing when Scott scoops him up from behind and swings him around.

Stiles' feet skitter across the asphalt when Scott sets him down again, and he presses up against Scott with laughter burbling in his chest. He bites his lip, suddenly shy, and says, "You gonna lead the way?"

Scott walks backward toward his building, pulling Stiles along behind him with both hands.

His apartment is on the second floor, above a garage. The apartment next to his is empty and the guy who lives on the third floor is a heavy sleeper. Scott's not worried at all, but even if there were people around to complain about the amount of noise he plans on making tonight with Stiles in his bed, he wouldn't care. Nothing would stop him.

Scott pauses in front of his door. Stiles tilts his head to the side to look at the number beside it.

"Is this the place?" Stiles asks. No sooner does Scott nod than Stiles pushes him against the door and snakes his fingers into Scott's front pocket.

"Is this gonna be the theme for tonight?" Scott asks, covering the hand Stiles has against his chest. "Gonna put me in my place?"

Scott's keys jangle when Stiles pulls them out of his pocket, and Stiles thumbs through them until he finds the one that matches the bronze lock. "Do I need to put you in your place for you to know it?" Stiles asks with the cheekiest grin.

"I suppose not," Scott says as Stiles unlocks the door. He kisses the skin in front of Stiles' ear and whispers, "My place is with you."

Stiles shoves him through the open door and lets it swing shut loudly. The keys get dropped to the ground and Scott gets kissed, soundly and without preamble.

"You cheesy ass freak," Stiles laughs softly. "What's next, huh? You gonna write sonnets about me all Shakespeare style?"

"Do you think that'd get me laid?" Scott asks, reaching around Stiles to flip the deadbolt.

"Definitely not," Stiles retorts.

Scott flicks on the hall light so that he can see where he's walking. "I guess that means I'll have to burn that notebook before you see it, then."

"Only one notebook?" Stiles says, bottom lip jutting out ridiculously far. "Guess that says how much you really love me."

"I'll show you how much I love you," Scott growls, gathering Stiles up in his arms again, lifting him straight off the ground. Stiles clings tightly to him, giggling brightly as Scott carries him to the back of the apartment, to his bedroom. "I'll write so many sonnets for you that you'll get sick of them."

Stiles' giggles are punctuated briefly by a small cry when Scott dumps them both onto the bed, but he's soon trying to smother his own laughter behind tightly pressed lips, fingers pressed against Scott's mouth like he can keep Scott from calling him on it.

"What do you think?" Scott asks.

Stiles smiles and kisses him quickly. "I'll never get sick of the sonnets."

Scott chuckles, feeling his cheeks heat slightly. He grips Stiles' thigh and hefts him further across the mattress. "I meant about the bed."

Stiles looks around, and Scott helpfully leans toward the side table to switch on a lamp. Warm orange light spills across the room, brightening Stiles' face and revealing the quiet blush of his cheeks. He's splayed out under Scott, across his bed. His throat is red where Scott put his mouth earlier. Fingers curled loosely, Stiles looks utterly relaxed, happy to stay like this or to move on to more strenuous activities, and Scott falls in love with him all over again.

Scott lies down at Stiles' side and props himself up on an elbow. He lets a hand fall to Stiles' waist and tucks a thumb under his shirt, feeling the smooth skin and then the shallow bumps of a pair of moles on the crest of Stiles' hip.

Stiles rubs his cheek against the sheets, and with his eyes closed, takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly. When he opens his eyes again, they're dark. "It smells like you here."

Scott hums and sneaks more of his fingers under the hem of Stiles' shirt. Stiles' eyes closed again. His breath shakes when Scott drags his fingers across his stomach. "Do you like the way I smell?" Scott asks.

"Yeah," Stiles says. "But I like that I can't smell anyone else here either."

"I've never had anyone else here," Scott tells him.

Boldly, he flattens his palm against Stiles' skin and slides it upward, under the shirt, over the curve of his ribs. He finds a nipple and drags his thumb nail around it in a wide circle. Stiles' breath turns rough. The hand closest to Scott comes up to clutch at his arm.

"I thought you said—" Stiles shivers softly. "You've had relationships before me. You had to have brought them back here."

Scott shakes his head. "Never really got comfortable enough to bring them home," he says. "Just you."

It's easy as breathing for Scott to lean down to kiss Stiles. He can't imagine that there's going to be a day where he won't want to do exactly this — feel the softness of Stiles' mouth and the heat of his breath. He wants to start each morning like this, with the taste of Stiles on his tongue and the sound of him in his head. He wants to live every day after this knowing that what he does ensures that they're happy together.

Stiles murmurs his name. He asks, "How do you want me?"

Scott smiles helplessly. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?"

Stiles shakes his head quickly. "That's what we did for my heat," he says. "I want to know how you'd like to do this. I want to know what makes you feel good." He rubs their noses together when he grins. "Besides me, obviously."

"How do I want you..." Scott murmurs thoughtfully. "That's a very good question." He sits up and gets a knee between Stiles' thighs. Both of his hands skitter along Stiles' sides, tickling him quickly before pulling his shirt up and off of him. He runs a finger along Stiles' midline, down his breast bone to his belly button. "I have to think about it. I've had you in so many ways already. Maybe I should try something different."

"Different can be good," Stiles agrees. The muscles of his abdomen jump when Scott flicks open the top button of his jeans. "It can be really good."

Scott stretches his arms to the ceiling and brings his shirt off with it. He flicks it behind him and smiles when Stiles puts a hand on his chest just to touch him. Stiles sighs appreciatively when Scott moves over him to get lube out of the bedside drawer, and strokes down to Scott's navel, dipping in the tip of his finger into the shallow divot.

The lube gets dropped to the side of the bed, and Scott backs off so that he can take off his jeans. He makes a bit of a show of undoing his pants for fun because it makes Stiles go quiet with anticipation. It kills him to drag it out so long, but it's worth it to see the way Stiles catches a lip between his teeth and watches Scott undress with hot, hungry eyes. Scott takes advantage of the moment by yanking at the hem of Stiles' jeans, and Stiles helps by squirming his way out as quickly as possible.

"Eager," Scott teases.

"Shut up," Stiles says. "Like you aren't." He wiggles his fingers to beckon Scott back to the bed. "You don't even have to get me worked up with foreplay. I want you inside me right now."

Scott does as he's told, climbing back into Stiles' arms, and they tangle together in just their skin.

It's warm against Stiles, so unlike the smothering heat that was pouring off of him last week. Scott finds he prefers this instead — not to mention that, this time, Stiles' desire is purely his own, without some biological urge forcing it into a frenzy. It's comforting rather than demanding. It's welcoming rather than a warning sign. It lets Scott ease against Stiles' and kiss him thoughtlessly without having to worry about how much energy he has left, how much sleep he's going to need, whether he'll need to take Stiles' temperature or blood pressure before he gives in to exhaustion.

"Lube," he gasps when Stiles hooks a leg over his hip. "We need lube."

"No we don't," Stiles murmurs.

"You're not in heat any more," Scott reminds him.

"That really doesn't seem to matter," Stiles replies and pushes the hand that's at his waist down until Scott's pressing his fingers against the soft furl of his hole. Sure enough, when Scott pushes in the tip of one finger, he feels wet inside. Stiles seems pretty proud about putting a shocked look on Scott's face. He wiggles against Scott's front with a grin. "Looks like you can get me wet without even trying. What do you think that means about us?"

It's not like it's a mystery or anything. Anyone with a basic sex education understands what it means for an omega to respond like this outside of heats. It's everywhere Scott looks — in movies, in books, in every scrap of media and marketing. It's not uncommon per se. People every day meet someone that could be their mate, but all sorts of things keep it from coming to fruition. It's rare enough that it's thought of as something special, to be romanticized and criticized in turn.

While Scott was sure about wanting Stiles as his mate, he hadn't expected it to be reciprocated so soon after everything that had happened. He thought he'd have to do more, that they might have to date and learn more, and one day — when Stiles fully accepted him and forgave him — then they would be mates.

Scott's eyes go wide and his hands move back to Stiles' waist. He has to see Stiles' face for this. "You really want this?"

"Looks like it," Stiles replies, gaze fluttering nervously all over the place. "Is that okay? I thought about it, that first day with you. You were—" He smiles, gaze lifting skyward like he's searching for words. "You were everything I'd ever wanted in a partner, and believe me, I've looked. When I was with you, it was safe and fun, and I was happy. Why wouldn't I want that forever?"

Scott's hands shake when they frame Stiles' face. "It might not always be so easy. There's still so much we don't know about each other."

His caution — his fear — only makes Stiles smile all the brighter. Where normal people might secretly long for something fairytale and be thrown by the concept of struggle in a relationship, it's as if Stiles is delighted by it. Stiles slips his fingers along the underside of Scott's jaw. Two of them come to rest over his pulse, where Stiles would— could mark him if that's what he wants. Scott shivers at the touch, hoping Stiles knows that he wants that mark — that permanent symbol that he belongs to another.

"We'll learn," Stiles says softly. Firmly. "All relationships are hard, but that doesn't mean they're unhappy. Whatever we don't know about each other now… We'll learn it all. Together."

"Stiles," Scott breathes. "You're unbelievable."

Stiles' expression turns cheeky at once. "Yeah? You gonna do something about that?"

Scott groans and hugs Stiles to him with one arm. He slips his other hand down and gives Stiles' ass a hard squeeze before finding his entrance, where he's still wet with arousal. He presses his finger all the way in — no stopping, no hesitation — and Stiles tosses his head back with a gasp. The red splotch of skin that he made earlier is an irresistible temptation, and Scott puts his mouth over it again, giving it a few fresh bites to keep it alive.

"More," Stiles demands with his next breath, moaning openly when Scott works a second finger in alongside the first.

He's ridiculously tight considering how much action his ass saw the week previous, but he's so wet around Scott's fingers. Every thrust has a little bit squeezing out, gathering in the crease of Stiles' ass and making everything a delicious, sloppy mess.

He gets three fingers into Stiles before he starts actively seeking out his prostate, twisting his fingers in and pressing down and stroking him from the inside until Stiles' hips are jerking beyond his control. Scott bites down on Stiles' shoulder. Stiles whines that he's ready, that three fingers are enough, but Scott ignores him. It takes effort, but he manages to get his fourth finger inside Stiles' too. Stiles wails, sobbing his pleas.

He digs his fingers in Scott's hair and forces eye contact. "Don't make me come yet," he says. "Want to come on your cock. Please— please—"

"I'm gonna knot you," Scott says — only realizing himself that it was his intention — and Stiles responds with a shuddering noise. "Need you open for that, remember?"

Stiles nods and closes his eyes, starts breathing in through his nose. Then, carefully, he seems to actively force himself to relax around Scott's fingers. Scott shoves his fingers in as deep as they can go, and Stiles clenches down around his knuckles with a shout. Stiles' hands shove against the headboard. His breath comes tight and fast, and with a rough sound, he pushes into the curve of Scott's fingers.

"I can take it," Stiles says. "I'm ready."

"Are you sure?" he asks. Stiles nods, shifting as he pulls his fingers free, but his eyes go wide when Scott rolls them so that Stiles is on top. "Show me."

Sitting upright, Stiles leans forward with both hands on Scott's chest. He paws over Scott's pecs, palming his nipples with a few sweeps before hooking his thumbs under his collar bones. "This is how you want me?" he asks.

"I want you however I can get you," Scott says, running his hands over Stiles' thighs, "but I thought it'd be nice to give you control. You didn't get to have much of that during your heat, so... What do you think?"

He shifts in Scott's lap curiously and offers up a perky noise when he finds Scott's dick nestled sweetly against his ass. When Scott shivers underneath him, an epiphany scrawls across Stiles' features, turning his initial hesitation into something sly and mischievous. "I think I like it," he says and reaches back to stroke him. "I think... Yeah, I think I'm gonna ride you hard."

Still, when Stiles lifts up onto his knees and guides Scott's dick to his hole, he only sinks down far enough for the tip to slide inside before he pauses, legs already starting to shake. He's hot and trembling, and every shift has Stiles' hole leaking around his cock, thin streaks of lubricant dripping down the length of him.

"Stiles," Scott grits out, digging his heels into the bed in order to keep himself from hitching his knees and thrusting up and in.

Stiles laughs to himself. "God, yeah. I was gonna tease you, see how long it took before you broke down and fucked me, but I can't— I just can't." He starts dropping into Scott's lap again, gasping and taking a pause here and there to adjust. He takes Scott into himself in careful inches, easing himself down in slow circles of his hips. "Fuck, I need you too damn much."

It different than Scott expected, being under Stiles instead of over him. The bedside lamp gives him a clear sight, lets him see the details of Stiles' body — the damp sweat gathering in the hollow of his throat, the wet shine of his mouth, the way Stiles' attention focuses inward as he strains and struggles to get the right angle, the right motion to get Scott's cock where he wants it.

Stiles looks vulnerable against the blank backdrop of his ceiling — vulnerable and beautiful too, with nothing in the periphery to distract Scott from the sight of his.. yeah, his mate. Acknowledging it suffuses his blood with a heat he barely recognizes, and before he knows it, he's pulling Stiles down against his chest, kissing him, dragging his hands down Stiles back and over all that warm skin. Stiles arches against him, crying out when Scott grabs an ass cheek in each hand and spreads him open, feeling where they're joined with both middle fingers.

There are some murmured noises of encouragement when Scott braces his feet against the bed and tightens his grip on Stiles' ass to hold him still. Stiles grabs the headboard without having to be told and he shoves back to meet the first thrust with an overjoyed shout.

"Yes," Stiles cries. "Yes, yes, fuck me like that. So good, so good..." He trails off with a series of hitching whines, grinding back only to have Scott's hips shove him back up.

"Gorgeous," Scott murmurs, straining upward to lick at Stiles' collarbone. It's too far for him to get his mouth on Stiles' neck but god does he want to. Maybe, in a little bit. After he makes Stiles come like this.

Stiles' grip on the headboard slips and he catches himself on his hands on either side of Scott's head. He looks down at Scott with wild, dark eyes, mouth parted around each gasp for air, and he looks so fucking beautiful and he smells so fucking good that Scott thrusts that much harder. Stiles' arms tremble weakly and he collapses down to his elbows and then gives up entirely, wrapping his arms around Scott's head and nuzzling in close, all those hot sex sounds pouring into the shell of Scott's ear.

"You ready for it?" Scott asks, when he feels the base of his spine start to tighten. Stiles only responds with a sharp whine and splays his legs wider. "Yeah, that's it. That's it."

He steadies Stiles' hips with both hands and gives him a few short, shallow thrusts before he shoves all the way in and stays there as his knot swells up. Stiles tenses as it happens, back arching up as he struggles to accommodate the sudden increase in girth, and he curls up, pressing his cheek against Scott's chest as he fights for breath.

Scott rubs circles over Stiles' tail bone and prods gently around his hole before checking his fingers to make sure the only wetness he finds is the clear lubricant from before and not any blood.

Stiles groans, squeezing down around Scott's knot and peers at Scott with heavy lidded eyes. "Feels like you've grown," he purrs.

Scott grins and then rolls Stiles underneath him. The move leaves Stiles fighting for air, eyes closed as he holds Scott close to him with his legs, heels digging into his thighs with a strength that might prove bruising in the morning. "Maybe you're just not used to it after so long," Scott says. "If you like, I'll knot you every day. Then you can tell me whether or not I've grown."

Stiles laughs, obviously enamored with the idea. "Promises, promises, but," he says, looking pointedly between them, "what's the point of knotting me if you're not gonna come in me too? Are you waiting for an invitation?"

Scott drags his fingers along Stiles' arms and then laces their fingers together, pinning Stiles' hands to the bed. "I'm gonna make you come first."

"Like this?" Stiles whines when Scott starts to grind into him. He can't move much when they're knotted. He can barely shift with Stiles' legs keeping him close, but he can rock them together back and forth. It makes Stiles stretch like he's trying to get away. It would worry him if Stiles wasn't also moaning about how good it feels.

Scott bends to mouth at the curve of Stiles' throat again, humming when he can bite down and suck.

Beneath him Stiles goes absolutely still.

Scott scoots higher onto the bed until Stiles' body is sliding over his thighs to accommodate the change. Stiles' knees end up digging in at his sides, ankles crossed behind his back, and Scott lets go of Stiles' hands in favor of grabbing Stiles' hair and his shoulder, making more room along his throat as he bites his mark into a more permanent state. Stiles's fingers dig into his back, blunt nails scratching broad lines as Scott bites harder and harder, sucking the blood to the surface until he can almost taste it.

They're not even fucking any more, but Scott barely notices.

He pulls back and sees the vivid mark on Stiles' throat, as strong as the bond they share. Satisfaction strikes deep, and Scott rumbles out one final truth: "Mine."

Stiles jolts like he's been struck, crying out as he comes. His whole body arching rigidly as he spills between them. Scott lets himself get dragged over the edge too, almost as an afterthought, and kisses Stiles until his mouth his raw as his body continues to pour come into his mate's body with pulses that match the heavy beat of his heart.

*

Scott lurks at the back of the crowd of people milling around concession stand, squinting at the menu board and the glass display of candy selections in turn. Stiles is already heading toward the theater — probably prepared to sprawl aggressively over two seats in order to save their spots. He'd been entirely unhelpful when Scott asked him if he wanted something to snack on, and Scott is debating between the sour gummy worms and the raisinettes when he hears his name shouted from across the lobby.

He looks up in time to see Erica winding her way between people like a snake, and she socks him in the shoulder as soon as she's close enough. "My spies told me you've been doing better, but I didn't expect to see you on a date," she says, inclining her head in the direction that Stiles had gone in. "Who's the guy?"

Too startled to come up with a lie, Scott fumbles. "He's… uhm. We kind of… met recently?" He winces when Erica's eyes narrow.

"Recently, huh?" she drawls. Her fingers touch his chin and lift it so that he's baring his throat to the lights overhead. She doesn't touch the mark that Stiles put there that morning, but there's no way she's going to mistake it for a hickey. "You must be serious about it."

Scott nods, feeling embarrassed about it. "It's been an intense couple weeks. We're serious, but there's still a lot to talk about and learn."

"Does he know what you do for a living?" Erica asks — too casually. She doesn't look at him as she asks, but maybe she didn't recognize Stiles. She might have only seen the back of his head before coming over.

"Yeah, he knows," Scott says. "I still haven't figured out how to ask him if he's comfortable with it or not."

Erica hums. "Well if it becomes an issue, let me know. We'll work something out," she says.

Surprised, Scott stares for a second before smiling brightly at her. "Of course, yeah. I'll definitely let you know," he says. "Thank you."

"Not a problem," she says and pats his arm as she starts to draw away. "Enjoy the rest of your probation, Scott. And say hi to Stiles for me." She winks at him, and with a laugh, she's gone.

*

Scott's morning routine is going to be different from now on, he thinks. He's probably still going to have a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, and he's definitely going to keep going to the gym for half an hour. It won't be a big deal if he doesn't because he'd like to keep fit — he has someone to impress now, after all — but if he misses a trip to the gym because of this, Scott doubts that he'll complain.

Beside him, Stiles breathes deeply and sighs in his sleep, features kind of fuzzy and indistinct in the dim morning light. His nose wrinkles when Scott runs his finger down the bridge of it. His mouth pouts as Scott keeps petting his finger down his nose, and then he makes a disgruntled sort of noise before one eye cracks open bearily.

"Ugh, what time is it?" Stiles asks.

"Early," Scott replies. "It's a little past seven, I think."

Stiles groans as he hides his face in the pillows, muffling his complaints. "I'm in love with a morning person. This is the worst." Scott chuckles, leaning in for a cuddle, and he hums contentedly as he noses in against the back of Stiles' neck. "Why're you up anyway? You don't go back to work yet."

"I just wanted to see you," Scott says. "Wanted to know what I'd be seeing every morning for a while."

Stiles huffs, ostensibly irritated at being woken up before noon, but his touch is wholly affectionate when he finds Scott's hand and links their fingers together. "S'a good view from here," he says, already resettling in such a way that Scott knows that he'll be asleep again soon. "I got no complaints. You?"

Scott smiles, and throwing an arm over Stiles' middle, he tucks himself against his mate's side. He breathes in the mixture of their scents and thinks that he won't mind coming into work late, if it means getting this every morning.

"No complaints," he says.

[THE END]