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Jihoon graduates with a distinction, top of his class too. He’s been working towards this for so long, looking at scroll in his hand, his throat feels tight with relief.

He finished college a different person than when he’d started, but the parts of him that pushed him forward with determination are not gone, only changed. He has other reasons to keep living now.

Seungcheol takes a few days off work for the ceremony, and Seungcheol’s parents have come as well. They enfold Jihoon in massive hugs, tell him they’re proud and that he’s brilliant, and Seungcheol’s dad declares they’re all going out for dinner to celebrate whether he likes it or not.  

There's a brief moment, taut and sharp and dangerous, where Jihoon thinks he sees an unwelcome face in a crowd of young people in pristine gowns and proud parents taking photos. After so many years spent watching his back, it's hard to miss the distinctively statuesque figure or the dark twist of hair, or the all too familiar sensation of dark eyes drilling into him.

But when he runs his eyes over the crowd for a second time, there's no sign of him.


 

Their first house is a two story, three-bedroom, modest back garden affair on the outskirts of Daegu. It's their first step on the property ladder and has ‘great resale value’ according to Seungcheol’s father—who generously contributed to the deposit.

The day they move in, Seungcheol tries to carry him inside, and Jihoon nearly decks him for attempting to put him through such indignity.

It’s not the sort of home Jihoon imagined for himself—if he’s being honest. He always imagined them buying a nice apartment in the city. The sort of place with all its charming original fittings; great big entrance door painted in peeling green, a custodian with a wall of brass keys, worn tiles and a wrought iron elevator.

He didn’t expect them to pack up and leave the city so soon after he graduated, but with Seungcheol taking over the family business—Jihoon didn’t like the idea of him commuting ridiculous hours every day just so they could stay in Seoul.

Moving closer to Seungcheol’s parents made sense in the end.

They agonised over locations, viewed a few properties and finally settled on this—not-quite Suburbia. It’s perfect for them; a cosy living room and a massive office turned studio for Jihoon, a workable kitchen and two En-suite bedrooms with picture windows all over the place and it's quiet, sometimes achingly quiet.

Jihoon soon falls in love with it.

It's probably really idiotic, but it feels like a first real home to Jihoon.


 

Like most couples, they've fallen into certain patterns. Jihoon's favourite—is the dinner routine.

The thing is, Jihoon really can’t cook.

It's one of those skills he's always wanted to have in an absent, wistful sort of way, but apart from frying things to death or making sandwiches, he's shit at cooking and he knows it, so he doesn't bother.

The few times he's tried to get creative and whip out a recipe book, he’s produced nothing but smoke damage and unpleasant-looking gelatinous bits, so he’s given it up for a lost cause.

Funnily enough, in all the years they've known each other, Jihoon has never seen Seungcheol open a cookbook. He's never seen Seungcheol even glance at a cookbook, come to that. With all his bulk, Seungcheol doesn’t look like he possesses the grace and fluidity to belong in the kitchen, and Jihoon has seen Seungcheol chop an onion with a machete, which should have been terrifying and was incredibly hot instead, but that is entirely beside the point.

The point being: Seungcheol is inexplicably fantastic in the kitchen and Jihoon's a disaster, so Seungcheol does all the cooking.

When they get in at night, Jihoon always toes of his shoes, takes off his jacket, grabs two beers out of the fridge, and leaves the door open as he walks away. Then Seungcheol rummages around in there until he has an armful of unlikely-looking ingredients to set out on the counter, humming cheerfully to himself as he does so.

"What’s on the menu?" Jihoon always asks, tossing him a beer.

Seungcheol just winks at him and sends him away to put on less restrictive clothing—or sometimes nothing.

When Jihoon comes back in boxers and one of Seungcheol's t-shirts there is always something beginning to smell unutterably amazing, and Seungcheol always puts down whatever he's holding—a knife, a spatula—and kisses Jihoon thoroughly before getting back to work.

They eat on the kitchen island, never bother setting the table, and it's always fucking delicious. They shoot the shit about their respective days and whatever else, and then they finish and Seungcheol says something like "If we ate off paper plates—we could just throw them out instead of washing up." Or “We should really invest in a dishwasher.” And Jihoon just shoves him out of the kitchen so he can clean up.

That’s Jihoon’s thing—the cleaning, the organising.

When that’s done, they move to the couch and onto the "really fun" portion of the evening.

Which when anyone asks, is intensely sexual and intimate—steamy make out session, 69-ing on the couch or something equally graphic. But, in fact it’s them arguing what to watch on TV (Jihoon always wins), who gets to hold the remote (Seungcheol always wins), and then them falling asleep on top of each another five minutes in.


 

The Pharmacy is chaos.

The waiting area is full and there is a queue right out the door just for pick up. Jihoon almost regrets letting a desperate father skip ahead of him, but the baby he has cradled over his shoulder is coughing his little lungs out and it would have been heartless to make them wait their turn.

After all, Jihoon just here to pick up his contraceptives, so it’s not like it’s a medical emergency. But he’s been queuing for thirty minutes and now the baby is crying, and that inevitably encourages another kid to start balling, and now there are four children in the pharmacy in hysterics.

The pharmacist looks so stressed like perhaps they want to start crying and Jihoon feels like crying alongside them because—Oh, God—the sound of children crying is torture.

The shrieking sounds like it's coming from every direction at once, more or less. It sirens up and down intermittently, and it's pitched a little higher every time. Jihoon grimaces, grits his teeth. Tightens his grip on the prescription in his hand, and wills himself not to scream ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP!’ in the middle of the neighbourhood pharmacy.

Why? Why would anyone expose themselves to this willingly?

A quick glance down the queue reveals the parents are calm and composed—patiently shushing their noisy offspring. They don’t seem to be wincing at the shrill noise like everyone else in the queue.

Jihoon thinks it’s some form of—selective deafness—where they habitually tune out the sound of their child’s whining.

It must be—or else how would they tolerate that noise?

Jihoon’s almost had enough, ready to turn on his heel and stalk out—fuck the prescription. He thinks about asking Seungcheol to collect it later—but then, the infant drops their blanket and the father is too busy juggling a pen, a prescription bag and a cell-phone to pick it up, so Jihoon does.

Gingerly he lifts it up to the baby’s outstretched hand, watching as the sobbing evens out and a tiny fist makes grabby hands at the blanket.

Instead of taking the blanket from Jihoon—like he was supposed to—the baby’s tiny fist grips Jihoon’s thumb.

Jihoon tenses, his instincts screaming It's a trap! in a full on Admiral Ackbar. 

Instead of decapitating him—like Jihoon half expects, the baby blinks round, wet eyes at him over his father’s shoulder, then smiles like a cherub.

“Did you make a friend?” The father coos, smiling over his shoulder at the content baby that shows no signs of wanting to let go of Jihoon’s finger.

The panic must show on Jihoon’s face, because the father looks at him and laughs. “It’s okay. They seem scary at first, but you’ll feel differently when you’re holding your own.”

Jihoon smiles. It surprises him, the thought thrilling through him, electric and wild.

“Yeah—I know.”

When he finally picks up his prescription, he sits in his car staring at the box, at the blister pack inside with little numbers marking the dates of his pills.

He’s due to start his new pack tomorrow.

He doesn’t.


 

Later that month, Jihoon and Seungcheol show up at Jisoo’s door with groceries, and Jisoo quickly decides that Seungcheol is allowed to help make dinner but Jihoon definitely is not. He shoves a beer in his hand and pushes him into the living room, where Jeonghan is already curled up on the couch.

“You’re not allowed to cook either?” Jihoon asks as Jisoo pulls the door shut behind him with a decisive click.

Jeonghan sighs elaborately with an added eye roll for effect “I collapsed a soufflé once, three years ago. Shua never lets me live it down.”

Jihoon sits down next to him and allows himself to pout a bit. “I burned waffles this morning,” He says mournfully.

“At least Cheol has faith enough to let you try,” Jeonghan tips his beer bottle in a mocking toast. “Shua won’t let me so much as look at the microwave.”

Jihoon looks at the beer in his hand, decides against it, and sets in down in favour of some lemon water sitting on the table.

Pausing with his bottle poised halfway to his lips, Jeonghan just stares at him until Jihoon notices that he is. Jihoon’s mind is already darting ahead to the excuse he is going to have to come up with to sufficiently convince Jeonghan there is nothing amiss about him skipping a drink.

“What?” He asks, trying for innocent and probably missing by a mile, judging by Jeonghan’s expression.

“Why aren’t you drinking?” Jeonghan says, gaze still searching and probing, voice tinged with knowing.

Jihoon shifts in his seat, nervous. “Cheollie needs a night off. He’s been working so hard—he deserves a drink. Besides, you know what I’m like with my alcohol.” he dismisses.

It sounds like bullshit when he says it aloud like that, but surely Jeonghan won’t notice.

“Of course.” Jeonghan says kindly, like he thinks it's bullshit too. Then he waves his hands in a vaguely circling motion over his stomach. “The only other explanation would be….”

Jihoon immediately holds up his hand.

He’s been down this ‘Are you guys trying?’ road too many times with Seungkwan, Minghao and Seungcheol’s mother and the last thing he wants is for Jeonghan to turn it into light dinner conversation.

He hasn’t even spoke to Seungcheol about it recently, and he’s sure if the Alpha so much as gets a whiff that Jihoon has been considering getting pregnant—he’d mount him before dinner was ready.

Hell—he’d probably mount him here on the couch and invite Jisoo and Jeonghan to watch!

“Just because I choose not to have a beer—doesn’t mean I’m pregnant.”

Jeonghan makes a sound with his tongue that clearly indicates he doesn’t believe him. “Hmm. I suppose not. But you are thinking of trying, aren’t you? I figure now would be about the right time for you guys to head in that direction.”

Jihoon shakes his head, he can feel a blush begin to spread across his face and stifles the urge to look away. “I just graduated.”

“You graduated three months ago.” Jeonghan points out, completely throwing Jihoon off his defensive game plan.

Jihoon wrinkles his nose. “Well—I’ve just started my new job, so it would look pretty bad if I got knocked up so soon.”

“True, but if you got pregnant now you would be on leave by the end of your first year, and they couldn’t fault you on that. Besides, there are laws against Omega discrimination in the workplace—they can’t complain about you taking leave for pregnancy without being dragged through a lawsuit.” Jeonghan says, giving him a pointed look as he takes a sip of his beer.

Jihoon’s mind jumps and skitters to the explanation he is going to have to conjure to convince Jeonghan to let it drop.

“It’s not the right time now. We just moved to the new house, and Cheol’s taking on his dad’s business—it’s pretty hectic and I’d prefer to wait till things settled down.” He deflects, trying in vain, to think of a way to steer the conversation back to safe, familiar territory.

“Sure—sure.” Jeonghan nods, before shooting him a hesitant glance, teeth biting his bottom lip, “Is there ever a right time though? Having a baby is always going to rock the boat a little, and there’s always going to be reasons to delay it if you think hard enough. You’re both in a pretty stable situation financially at the moment, and you’ve been fully fertile for over two years. It makes sense to plan for it now. I think you’d both make great parents.”

Jihoon hesitates, torn between restating the obvious and admitting possible doubts. In the end, he opts for neither. He scowls. “Why have you such a vested interest in this? Did Seungcheol put you up to this?”

Jeonghan laughs and shakes his head. “No. Trust me, I’ve already done my bit playing matchmaker between you too. He still owes me from last time.”

Jihoon blinks. “Last time?”

“You know,” Jeonghan waves his beer in the air dismissively. “When I helped him get closer to you in college. He still owes me.”

Jihoon’s already got his mouth open, more from stunned surprise than because he has any idea of what he’s going to say. “Helped him? Get closer to me? What are you talking about?”

Jeonghan takes another sip of his beer, quirks him a bemused brow over the rim of the bottle. He swallows and wipes the back of his hand over his mouth.

“When I befriended Jisoo that night at the mixer—so Seungcheol could get friendlier with you guys?” Jeonghan says casually. When Jihoon looks genuinely baffled at his response, Jeonghan’s expression tightens, “Aw—fuck. He didn’t tell you about that, did he?”

“What?!” Jihoon responds intelligently, feeling genuinely blindsided.

“Oh, shit.” Jeonghan hisses, sounding like he's just put his foot in it. He quickly tosses back the rest of his beer in one swallow and makes a move to stand. “Would you look at that—I think I need another beer.”

Jihoon grabs Jeonghan’s elbow as he tries to lever himself up, and drags him back down. “Here—have mine.” He growls, pushing his still full beer into Jeonghan’s hand. “Now—talk.”

Beside him, Jeonghan shifts uncomfortably in his seat, the Beta’s inhale harsh before he continues to speak.

Dammit—I was sure you would have known by now. It was ages ago.” Jeonghan takes another long swig of beer and shrugs.” It’s been—what? Four years?”

Jihoon nods, molars grinding down hard against each other, “This is the first I’ve heard of it—so spill.”

Jeonghan pinches the bridge of his nose, face scrunched. “Ugh. It’s not that big a deal. He just asked me—depending on how you look at it—pressured me to go to this party with him cause he knew you would be there. You were chatting in a corner with Jisoo that night, and Cheollie asked me to get friendly with you guys and maybe distract Jisoo for a bit. He figured as a Beta, I could get closer to your group then he could, that maybe I could act as a middle man while he tried to win you.”

"Because I'm like a prize," Jihoon says, wrinkling his noise at the thought of being the object of desire in some weird, flirting game.

“Well—you were really hard work Jihoon.” Jeonghan is unrepentant. “You weren’t the easiest person around Alpha’s back then. I watched Cheollie try and talk to you—and damn—you were so tense. I was sure you were going to throw yourself out the window or something.”

Jihoon's breath catches at the reminder.

Jihoon thinks back to that time at the mixer, being a little pissed off at how Jisoo was chatting to him one minute, and then suddenly being whisked away by a flirtatious Beta the next, leaving him alone to scowl at Seungcheol across the room.

Seungcheol had carefully approached him then, shoulders hunched in an effort to look smaller and less intimidating. He’d tentatively asked questions, until he found something Jihoon had an opinion on, and gradually nudged that opinion into a conversation, at least until Jihoon realised that one word answers didn't count.

Then Seungcheol got him a drink and asked him some more questions, until Jihoon was actually talking. It was awkward, stilted. But it wasn’t a disaster.

Jihoon rubs his hands over his face, “I can’t believe—Does Jisoo know about this?”

“Of course, Jisoo knows.” Jeonghan guffaws, looking over his shoulder, presumably at Jisoo and Seungcheol in the kitchen.

“He knew right away. He knew that night in fact—even confronted me about it and all. I had to bribe him with free dinners for a month or else he was gonna spill. That’s when I saw that irresistible, cut throat side of him.” Jeonghan says, voice taking on a faraway quality. “I thought you’d figured it out too—seeing as you spent the whole night scowling at Seungcheol.”

Jihoon tries not to scowl at that. “I always scowled at him back then. I still scowl at him now. I scowled at him five minutes ago.”

Jeonghan chuckles quietly, scratching his chin. “Hmm, yeah—you sure do like to scowl a lot.”

“I can’t believe how sneaky he was.” Jihoon mutters, his voice hoarse. “All this time—I thought it was just—I dunno—fate that brought us together.”

This time, Jeonghan doesn’t sigh or throw sarcasm his way. His voice is gentle and a little fond when he says. “It’s cute though—you have to admit. You were all he talked about, and I think he realised how nervous you were around alpha’s. Probably figured the only way to bridge that distance was to ensure you had the same circle of friends where you couldn’t avoid him, where you could get to know him safely and slowly and he couldn’t be accused of stalking you. He really wanted you.”

Jihoon pretends that doesn't charm him. Fucking emotions. He snorts. “Yeah—but still, underhanded much?”

“Or, maybe the most ludicrously romantic thing ever.” Jeonghan offers.

Jihoon sighs in a way that is meant to sound very put upon, but really means he secretly enjoys the suggestion.

His skin feels warm. It’s considered old-fashioned, but he’d heard during courtships Alphas sometimes use intermediaries to test out the waters without being too pushy. It’s assertive without disrespecting an Omega’s boundaries.

In a weird way, it’s sweet to think that them coming together wasn’t just left up to the God’s of fate; Seungcheol had been masterminding it all along.

And it worked out pretty well in the end.” Jeonghan pipes up again, still fighting Seungcheol’s corner. “We had a good group back then and we’re all still close now. If Seungcheol didn’t make it happen—I probably wouldn’t be with Shua, Vernon and Boo wouldn’t be together. He even introduced Junhui to Minghao and they’re still together.”

“Hmm.” Jihoon hums, unconvinced, but any irritation he feels evaporates at Jeonghan’s next statement.

“All that hard work—just to get you.”

The honesty of that floors Jihoon and he feels light-headed. He’s sure his cheeks must be bright pink because he feels exceedingly warm right then.

“Even then you were still hard work. Avoiding him, blanking him—the scowling. I lost count of how many times I told him to just give up. But he was a trooper, just kept on trying to please you. Remember when we all went to the amusement park—cause you’d never been before. And he rode that rollercoaster with you five times, even though he was terrified and ended up being sick in Mingyu’s popcorn?”

Jihoon shakes his head, reflecting upon the memory, but he is smiling when he looks back to Jeonghan. “He’s such a dork. I love him so much.” He murmurs fondly.

Jihoon’s spent his whole life refusing to need anyone, but Seungcheol was different. Seungcheol had snuck in under the wire and stayed close, and Jihoon's chest hurts with the fierce wave of affection that rolls through him when he thinks of his Alpha.

He has to launch himself out of ‘soft’ mode then, when the door swings open and Seungcheol steps into the room, sleeves rolled up and a spatula in hand.

“Guys—a little help here. Jisoo’s adding way to many mushrooms to the sauce and it’s going to ruin dinner, but he won’t listen to me.” Seungcheol huffs, slicing the air with his spatula.

Gaze shifting between them quickly, Seungcheol notes the sudden silence his appearance has created and hesitates.

“Everything alright?” He asks. The expression on his face is awkwardly uncomfortable but reassuringly clueless.

Jeonghan draws a breath as if to say something, then deflates when Jihoon interjects.

“Everything is fine, babe.” Jihoon says, omitting the whole ‘you are one sneaky fucker’ discussion. “Go back in there and kick Jisoo’s ass. Don’t let him push you around—that’s my job.” Jihoon smiles at him, and Seungcheol returns it with interest.

“You want another beer?” Seungcheol asks, gesturing mistakenly to Jeonghan’s empty bottle on the table. “I plan on driving home later, so you can have another drink if you want.” He suggests, lifting his eyebrows, pulling a helpful face.

“No, I’m good.” Jihoon waves him off, an airy gesture. “One’s the limit for me.”

Seungcheol just smiles again and heads back into the kitchen.

Jeonghan watches the last of him disappear behind the door and sighs. “Phew. I was sure you were going to rip his head off there.”

Jihoon laughs at how serious Jeonghan manages to look when he says that, and after a moment he can’t stop himself from smiling.

He sinks down a bit lower in his chair until he’s well and truly slouching, resting his lemon water on the arm of it.  

“No. I need him alive. It would be really hard to make a baby without his contribution.” He tells Jeonghan drily.

Jeonghan’s face lights up instantly and he chokes on his next sip of beer, and Jihoon begins the painstaking process of first securing his solemn vow of silence about the whole thing, and then changing the subject entirely, because suddenly, it feels like his stomach is full of butterflies.


 

On the drive home, Jihoon watches the city move through his window and wonders how good the nearby kindergarten is, what colour he would use in the nursery, what status his offspring are likely to be.

It’s silly. It’s ridiculous. He’s thinking ahead already and he isn’t even pregnant yet.

“Everything okay? You’ve been extra quiet tonight at dinner.” Seungcheol says, taking his eyes off the road long enough to throw Jihoon a sideways glance.  

Jihoon realizes he's been sitting silent too long. He tries not to feel guilty.

He wants to tell Seungcheol what he’s been thinking about, but he really doesn’t know how to bring it up. Usually, he doesn't bother to sort out his feelings, usually — they sort themselves out in their own time — but it's bothering him now.

He’s fucking terrified of how badly and suddenly he wants this, but at the same time he doesn’t want to get Seungcheol’s hopes up, only for Jihoon to dash them later when he changes his mind in a panic.

Swallowing back a mouthful of excuses and lies, he develops a sudden interest with the rain lashing on the window. “Everything’s fine. Just coming to terms with reality.” He says.

It's not a lie. Jihoon's known people with lives like the one he's trying to imagine the edges of. It's never been something he's particularly wanted for himself.

In this moment, he has everything he needs, both materially and socially. He’s making a life with Seungcheol, and it’s shaping up very nicely indeed. And if his heart is telling him it might be improved by the addition of a screaming infant, waking them up in the middle of the night, and puking everywhere, well — his heart is clearly insane. Jihoon has always favoured simplicity; a baby would complicate their lives so fucking much.

His answer doesn’t seem to placate Seungcheol; his face is still tense with concern.

“Are you sure? I feel like—you wanna say something?” Seungcheol probes. His eyes dart to Jihoon’s every few minutes and Jihoon watches his gaze soften just so when it happens, like just seeing Jihoon pleases him.

Jihoon recalls Jeonghan’s words from earlier: All that hard work—just to get you.

“I dunno—do you wanna share something? Got any secrets?” Jihoon pushes the question out into the tense air.

Seungcheol startles, head shooting up from the dashboard to swivel and face Jihoon, words of denial on the tip of his tongue. “No. I—I tell you everything.”

Jihoon looks over at him with a bit of a sly smile. “Really? Everything?” he resumes, eyes dark on his Alpha’s, “So you’ve got no sneaky secrets from four years ago you want to share at all?” he asks, and has to supress a laugh at the look of unhappy shock that immediately crosses Seungcheol’s face.

“No.” Seungcheol pauses, considering it. “I—no. I don’t.”

“Okay then. Good.” Jihoon drawls, slumping back in his seat.

Seungcheol is frowning, looking as though he’s about to tip from bewildered into wondering.  “Why specifically four years?” He asks after a moment of silence.

“That’s how long we’ve known each other, you big sneak.” Jihoon teases. It's apparently a misstep, because Seungcheol’s brow furrows and his head drops forward, mouth an unhappy curve.

“Oh—I’m just teasing, Cheollie. If you must know—Jeonghan accidentally blurted how he had a hand in getting us together. How you made him befriend Jisoo so you could get the drop on me. How you orchestrated the whole,” and Jihoon has lost his train of thought a little because Seungcheol's smiling again, hiding it, ducking his head with pleasure.

“What?” Jihoon asks.

Seungcheol chuckles. “You were such hard work.”

“Hey!” Jihoon scoffs.

“So worth it.” Seungcheol interrupts quickly, dimpling sweetly. “So fucking worth it. I wanted you from the moment I saw you.” He says, and everything goes hot and thrilling in the space of a few seconds when his gaze catches Jihoon’s, heavy and hot.

Jihoon hasn't said anything yet, but he wants that look to be an invitation to climb on top of Seungcheol in the drivers seat and ride him until he comes in his stupid clingy jeans.

He snorts instead. “Talk about mixed messages. I thought you were trying to intimidate me with your Alpha-ness by stealing that pudding cup.”  Jihoon says, frustrated and incredibly aroused.

Seungcheol grins, “I bought you that pudding cup, Jihoonie.”

“I’ll admit—that did confuse me at first.” Jihoon acknowledges with a tip of his head. “But then I assumed you were trying to lure me into a false sense of security. It made me even more suspicious of your intentions.”

Seungcheol shakes his head, chuckling quietly under his breath.

Jihoon could probably resist the urge, but he doesn't even try, just reaches for Seungcheol's hand resting lazily on the gearstick to interlocks their fingers and absorb the reassuring warmth through his palm.

Seungcheol quirks an eyebrow, corner of his lip twitching nearly imperceptibly, and Jihoon doesn't miss the smirk reflecting in those eyes. To his credit, Seungcheol leaves his amusement unspoken.

“I’m glad you didn’t give up on me Cheol.” Jihoon tells him, squeezing his mate’s hand.

“Never.” Seungcheol murmurs, squeezing back in Jihoon’s grip, the pleasure writ across his face in soft eyes and a flush across his cheeks.

Jihoon smiles, feeling warm all over in an entirely different way.

He slumps back into his chair again, satisfied, and casts a sidelong glance at Seungcheol.

If someone had told Jihoon, five years ago, that he would want this – not just Seungcheol, an Alpha, a mate, warm and familiar, the softness that Jihoon knows can flow into deadly protectiveness with no transition at all; but the house, a family, a growing pup in his belly – he would have laughed right in their face, would have assumed they were joking. But now, wanting anything else seems like the real joke.

Staring at his mate, the warmth in his eyes, the choice is suddenly as easy as breathing to him... he wants to get pregnant. He wants to have Seungcheol’s pups.


 

Nothing puts a crick in your neck like being curled over a table of paperwork for seven hours, Seungcheol decides, trying and failing to rub the knots out of the tendons just under his right ear.

He was relieved to get Jihoon’s message calling him away from work; even though he’s running the show now and can leave whenever he wants, leaving early is a luxury he denies himself sometimes.

When he parks his car in the drive, he can see a cozy orangey light shining faintly in the front window. It's barely early evening but the sun's almost down. Winter solstice, Seungcheol reminds himself.

He nods a greeting at their neighbour as he locks the car, and finds a fresh burst of energy to lope up the two steps to the house. The alarm beeps cheerfully to announce Seungcheol’s entrance. The air smells like sandalwood and vanilla: home, home, home.

Seungcheol drops his keys on the hallway table, sniffing hopefully at the air. “Hoonie?”

When there is no immediate answer, he starts rifling through the mail on the table, until Jihoon’s voice calls out.

“Oh good. You’re home.”

Seungcheol turns, seeing steam spilling out of the bathroom door and Jihoon heading down the hall towards him, damp and flush-faced from the heat, with just a towel wrapped around his waist.  

Seungcheol licks his lips on instinct. “Your message said it was urgent?”

Jihoon stops six feet away from him, it feels deliberate, cautious.

“It is—I’m in heat.” Jihoon says, jutting his chin out.

Seungcheol gives him a curious look for a heartbeat. Jihoon looks a little wild in the eyes when Seungcheol steps forward, but there’s no real outward sign, not yet, only that familiar scent that makes Seungcheol want to bite the back of his neck and lick him all over.

“Why are you acting….” Seungcheol begins, but when he dips his head to sniff at the spot beneath Jihoon’s jaw, there is something different under Jihoon’s smell. Subtle and barely there, but enough for Seungcheol to notice. “Wait—you smell different. Why?”

Jihoon doesn’t show any indication he’s even heard him. “Go sit down on the couch.”

Seungcheol blinks, stupidly, because he wasn’t expecting that. Unless…

“Aw crap. Am I in trouble?” His shoulders slump, immediately petulant in response and ignoring the way Jihoon positively glows at his reaction. They've gotten to the point where they can jump right to the end of an argument and have his punishment over with a little sooner, at least. “What did I do?”

“You didn’t do anything.” says Jihoon, unrepentant, dimpling. “You’re not in trouble. Just—go sit down. I have something to show you.”

Seungcheol trudges over to the couch and flops down, still sulking. Usually this would be when Jihoon starts scowling and pointing out what he’s done wrong, straight to the point as he always is, but instead there's a palpable hesitation as he moves across the room, smiling to himself for some reason as he gathers some boxes from a cabinet.

Preoccupied with sulking, Seungcheol misses it when Jihoon moves closer to him, and he freezes when his mate drops a box on his lap.

Seungcheol frowns down at the box without opening it. “What’s this?”

Jihoon perches on the edge of the armrest, hands suddenly jittery as he folds them on his lap.

“My contraceptives.” He replies with a hint of amusement.

Seungcheol opens the box, sliding a full blister strip of pills out, eyes flicking up to Jihoon’s with unveiled suspicion mixed with curiosity.  He gets increasingly dismayed at the silence until he can’t take it anymore. “So? I don’t get it.”

Jihoon reaches forward and squeezes his shoulder, “It’s a full packet.”

“The ones I picked up from the pharmacy this week?” Seungcheol asks, examining the packet between his hands, checking the expiry date on the foil. Everything seems in order. “Is something wrong with..”

“No, that’s not this month’s box.” Jihoon says quickly, his words bumping up against Seungcheol's, stopping Seungcheol short. “That pack is from last month.”

Seungcheol can’t move, can’t lift his eyes from where they are lowered, to the full pack of contraceptives clutched in his hand. “But—it’s still a full pack.”

Jihoon sighs, stilling his slightly jiggling knee. “I know, because I stopped taking them a month ago.”

Seungcheol is momentarily at a loss for words. Finally, “Why would you do that for?” He asks quietly, but it's a silly question when Jihoon's already reaching out and sliding one fingertip under the edge of his collar, forcing Seungcheol to meet his gaze.

“Cheol,” He swallows, a shivery exhale and then, “I want a baby.”

Seungcheol’s head goes alarmingly fuzzy. Brain zooming in on the word and…

Nope. Now is really not the time for Alpha tunnel vision. That would be seriously unhelpful right now.

“So. Yeah.” Jihoon gives an indistinct wave with the hand that isn’t holding a towel around his hips. “How do you feel about that?”

Seungcheol takes a deep breath, tries to calm his rapidly beating heart. “Oh fuck. Please don’t be joking.”

“Would I joke about this?” Jihoon gasps. He’s trying to look exasperated, Seungcheol can tell, but there’s a smile trying even harder to take over his face.

Seungcheol is already sprinting past the incredulity stage, grinning the sort of hopelessly slushy grin that Jihoon’s gotten a little too good at being the cause of.  He tosses the box aside, already reaching for Jihoon’s waist with both hands.

“Shit—Hoonie.” he chokes, and sweeps Jihoon into his arms and onto his lap. Jihoon goes with it gracefully, straddling Seungcheol’s thighs like he’s made for it. Somehow, disappointingly, he doesn’t lose his towel.

Seungcheol can’t help but whine excitedly, rubbing his face back and forth on his mate’s belly, filling his head up with the feel and smell of home. Jihoon is maybe laughing a little, but it's at least half a sort of giddy hysteria.

It's all too good to be true. Seungcheol closes his eyes and breathes in the comforting scent of his mate, assures himself—It's real, it's real.

“God, you look like such a dork,” Jihoon sighs at him, sliding a hand under Seungcheol's shirt, soft and warm and damp, skidding across Seungcheol's dry skin.

When Seungcheol’s hands go stroking up the smooth skin of Jihoon’s back, it feels like they swallow up so much of him, from his bony shoulders to his trim waist.

Seungcheol tries to picture him three months along, six months along, flat stomach stretched and swollen with their baby. It makes his thoughts whirl just like always, but this time it isn’t just his mind's eye being overambitious, it’s an actual possibility, it’s something that could very well end up being a reality, and he doesn’t give a damn if his facial expressions are too dorky for Jihoon’s taste. “Jihoonie—I’m gonna be pretty much a dork from here on out. You realise that, don’t you?”

Jihoon shrugs. “You’re still the hottest dork I’ve ever met, so I guess that counts for something.” He laughs, shoving Seungcheol down to kiss him, fingers gliding over his jaw and neck, cupping the back of his head to angle it better, teasing Seungcheol's mouth open with his tongue.

Jihoon brings it down a few minutes later with slow, languorous kisses that make Seungcheol want to growl. He breaks the kiss and smirks at Seungcheol’s eagerness.

“Since I’m going into heat….” Jihoon trails off, fingers twisting around his tie. “We could start now, or we could wait till my next…”

“No waiting. We have to start right now!” Seungcheol interjects, whipping Jihoon’s towel off and flinging it to the side, ignoring the wobble and crash of a nearby lampshade.

“You idiot. That was a housewarming gift from Soonyoung.” Jihoon snaps.

Shhhshhh.” Seungcheol shushes him. Leaning up to try and snag a kiss. “Let’s not get angry when we’re about to make beautiful pups together.”

Jihoon scowls at him, arms crossed in stubborn petulance.

Seungcheol can’t help but smile fondly, lifting a hand to trace fingers over Jihoon’s furrowed brow. “I hope our pups have your scowl. I hope they’re just like you Hoonie. Anything that’s fifty percent you is already a hundred percent perfect.”

Jihoon's adorable glower smooths out then, “Oh—Jesus Christ, Cheol.” He sighs, but even as he says it, his forehead tips forward and rests against Seungcheol’s, his eyes slipping closed. “I can’t believe you’re real sometimes.” He whispers, hands twisting in Seungcheol’s hair, mouth sweet and open for him.

Seungcheol nips at him, kisses him over and over, can never get enough of kissing him. Adrenaline is lighting his nerves up like the best rush, he’s almost dizzy with it.

“Can’t believe it, so happy.” he mumbles into the soft dip of Jihoon’s throat. “You’re sure?”

He feels the hum of it against his lips when Jihoon laughs. “Very.”

Seungcheol touches him softly, the slender lines of Jihoon’s body as familiar to him as his own. He strokes slowly along the insides of his thighs, over the curve of his ass, up his back and around to run a broad palm over the smooth flat skin on his belly.

Jihoon looks down, amused.  “Trying to imagine a baby in there?” He asks, hand sliding over Seungcheol’s.

“Yeah.” Seungcheol gasps, heart pounding from anything but fear. “I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been waiting for this. Thinking of you—bred full. Jesus, Hoonie—you’re going to get so huge. I can’t wait.” He confesses, raspy and desperate.

Jihoon rolls his eyes but dimples obligingly anyway.

Getting a good grip on Jihoon’s ass to haul him closer, Seungcheol lifts off the couch, encouraging  Jihoon to wraps his legs around his waist.

"Don’t drop me." Jihoon says, curving his hands around Seungcheol's neck to kiss his jaw, the corner of the smug smile that appears as Jihoon tightens his legs.

"Have I ever?" Seungcheol says, and he moves like it's nothing, carrying Jihoon to their bedroom and somehow catching the light without breaking the filthy kiss Jihoon has him in. The door snaps shut as he loses his balance and falls back against it, hands tight on Jihoon's ass.

He doesn't throw Jihoon on the bed, but falls with him, hot and heavy into the messy, bunched up sheets.

Seungcheol breaks the kiss only to divest himself of his clothes before climbing on top of the Omega, and staring his fill. 

Inside Seungcheol’s mind, everything fast-forwards until he’s seeing Jihoon with the flat, hard planes of his stomach curving outward, his nipples swollen and more sensitive than ever. When he goes thumbing over them as they are now—dark pink and small, pleasingly responsive to touches of all kinds as it is—it’s enough to make Jihoon wriggle impatiently, choke out a little whimper.

Seungcheol can’t even fathom how much the next nine months might intensify that. He kisses each one, sucks them slowly into his mouth in turn, the points of them delicate against his lips.

He lingers there maybe a bit too long since Jihoon grunts and pulls him up to kiss him again, sucking hard at his tongue. His hips rut against Seungcheol’s, hard cock sliding against his belly.

Seungcheol grins and eases down his body, suckling at Jihoon’s cock long enough to take in the bitter taste of pre-come there, then moving lower still.

No need to urge his legs further apart, as Jihoon is already way ahead of him, but Seungcheol is deliberately a bit of a tease about nipping along his thighs before finally using his thumbs to part Jihoon wide.

“Look at you. All wet for me already, aren’t you?” Seungcheol purrs.

The only answer is Jihoon’s whine. He looks pretty far gone already, shivering with eager energy beneath him, breathing hard and looking at Seungcheol through glazed eyes.

Seungcheol lays his lips against Jihoon's throat, right at the pulse point, and murmurs a soft, "Shhhhh," against his mate’s skin.

It settles Jihoon momentarily, and Seungcheol lifts his hand to Jihoon’s mouth, letting the Omega suckle on two fingers, getting them wet enough for Seungcheol to open him up.

When he presses a finger up against Jihoon’s rim, just stroking lightly, Jihoon whines again and tries to angle his lower body just the right way to let him slip in. Seungcheol could stay like this for a very long time, letting Jihoon squirm and sigh and suckle at his neck and lips, glassy eyed and gasping each time Seungcheol teases his fingertip just past the pink rim of his hole.

But then Jihoon gives a small chuff of laugher. “Foreplay is great and everything, but at this rate? By the time you finally get it in, I won’t even be in heat anymore.”

“Just appreciating the moment puddin. I was actually thinking of lighting some candles, ya know—to set the mood. Maybe throw some rose petals everywhere.” Seungcheol laughs, nestling his face against the warm skin of Jihoon’s stomach. “I want to be able to tell our kids how they were conceived in excruciating detail.”

“Oh, God!” Jihoon manages to sound almost scandalised even though he breaks into laughter easily. “Why can I imagine you doing that already? You’re going to be the embarrassing, oversharing dad. You’re going to be the one who tries to act hip with all their friends, the one who has the ‘talk’ with them.”

Seungcheol smiles, overcome with a wash of fondness. “And what dad are you going to be? Hmm?”

“I don’t know.” Jihoon shrugs a shoulder, voice low and lazy. “Probably the dad that has to drag them kicking and screaming to the dentist—after you ruin my carefully constructed meal plan and let them eat candy for breakfast.”

Seungcheol grins unashamedly. “Sounds like I’m going to be fun dad.”

Jihoon flicks a small, hollow smile. “Yeah—you will. One of us has to be.” He adds, voice going tight and heartsore. “I don’t think I have it in me to be fun dad.”

Ordinarily this would be where Seungcheol would lighten the mood, maybe crack a joke to switch that anxious expression into a smile or a scowl. But frankly today is different; Seungcheol feels it, too. His chest is full up to his throat with emotions he can’t name—all for his mate.

“Don’t say that Jihoonie. They’re going to love you.” Seungcheol improvises, kissing the tip of Jihoon's nose, the divot of his upper lip.

Jihoon can't hide from him like this. He can't avoid the devotion that Seungcheol presses into his skin with his lips, kissing his way along Jihoon’s throat, his chest, his stomach.

Maybe it’s a testament to how far they’ve come that Jihoon lets him, doesn’t try and wriggle away as Seungcheol whispers assurances, tracing his tongue along Jihoon’s ribs as they rise and fall in unsteady breaths.

“You’re going to be the one who makes everything right, the one they want to sleep next too after they have nightmare—so I’ll get relegated to the guest room. They’re going to cry when you leave them with me—they’ll be homesick for you only. You’ll be the one they want to cuddle up to when they’re sad—because you smell like home. You’re going to be the protective one who confronts anyone who tries to pick on them, a real papa bear on the school run. I can see you now—going to all the PTA meetings—shaking your fist at the teacher, ‘What do you mean they got an A in maths? They deserved an A+’.” Seungcheol demonstrates, finishing with a kiss to the soft place under the corner of Jihoon's jaw.

Jihoon chokes out a peel of laughter, eyes a little wet. His cheek is hot under Seungcheol’s hand when he eases their mouths together and his lips tremble against Seungcheol’s, but when he pulls away it's to show a slow curving smile.

“I love you.” Jihoon says, nuzzling at Seungcheol's cheek as he says it.

“I love you too.” Seungcheol answers, brushing his lips lightly over the corner of Jihoon’s mouth

Seungcheol chooses that moment to slide two fingers inside him, twisting them just so that Jihoon writhes against him. Seungcheol grips his hip hard with his free hand, breath coming hot and quick on Jihoon's skin.

"We will balance each other out—like we always have. It will be perfect." Seungcheol murmurs, sucking bruises into the soft skin of Jihoon's belly as he works him open with sure fingers. Jihoon nods and stretches to meet him, back coming off the bed each time Seungcheol pulls out.

He slides in a third finger, working him wider still. It’s something Seungcheol has done many times before and under many different circumstances, but never like this, never with the express purpose of getting Jihoon ready for his cock so he can fill him with come as many times as it takes before there’s a baby beginning to grow inside him.

“Neither of us are going to be any kind of dads if you don’t hurry the fuck up.” Jihoon huffs, on the verge of rolling his eyes, but then Seungcheol slips inside him, bare and hard and languid as he can bear, and they roll back for a different reason.

Oh,” chokes Jihoon, clenching hard around him with every limb. “Fuck—that—yes.”

“Okay?” Seungcheol asks, even though the answer is evident in every bowstring-taut inch of Jihoon’s frame.

Jihoon swears and arches into it, wrapping his legs around Seungcheol's waist and holds on as Seungcheol fucks into him over and over.

His cock is nearly flush with his stomach, velvet-smooth and so hard it’s a miracle Jihoon’s managed to keep from coming this long. Seungcheol touches it tenderly and he swears again, sinking his nails into Seungcheol’s shoulders and somehow hitching his legs still higher.

“Feel that?” Seungcheol curls his hands over the crests of his hips and thrusts into him even harder. Jihoon’s fingernails leave burning trails up his back when Seungcheol licks the sweat from his upper lip and then presses his tongue inside. “I’ll have you so nice and full it’ll feel like you’re pregnant already, then knot you good and tight until I can fuck you all over again.”

Jihoon has his mouth sealed over the pulse in Seungcheol’s neck, probably in the process of leaving behind a mark it’s going to be hell to hide for work, but the groan that escapes him is still pornographically loud.

“Yeah,” Seungcheol breathes, licking hotly up behind one of Jihoon’s red-stained ears, “that’s it, Hoonie, let me hear it. Gonna stuff you so full of come you won’t be able to fucking walk when I’m done with you and you’ll love every second of it, won’t you?”

The yes Jihoon utters sounds as if it’s being wrenched out of him with red-hot pokers.

Seungcheol moves in him with silent intensity, cajoling him into kiss after kiss until Jihoon is too busy gasping to keep up and Seungcheol has to settle for kissing him everywhere else he can reach instead. He’s still giddy with it, knowing he’s going to be doing more than just coming inside Jihoon this time, going to keep knotting him until it’s enough, until it takes.

Just thinking it literally takes his breath away.

Of course, if everything goes according to plan, Seungcheol realises he won’t be able to manhandle Jihoon like a ragdoll for much longer, no matter how much they both enjoy it, so there’s no sense in letting a perfectly good opportunity go to waste.

When Seungcheol pulls out only to grab hold of Jihoon under the knees and roughly turn him over, Jihoon’s only response is to clutch the covers and press his ass back like he’s being paid for it. And damn it all if that doesn’t have Seungcheol fighting for breath all over again.

“Don’t stop,” Jihoon orders, muffled, oblivious. The glisten of his lube is filthily evident between his legs. Seungcheol draws the head of his cock up the smear of it on Jihoon’s thigh to press it up inside him again, letting the tip of it tease at Jihoon’s hole.

Under him, Jihoon arches and shoves his hips even higher, presenting himself to be fucked all over again. His legs are spread and his back is a flushed, smooth curve of muscle and bone that undulates beautifully beneath Seungcheol’s tongue.

 “I won’t. Trust me.” Seungcheol says, shifting back, hauling on Jihoon's hips for better leverage, “Won’t stop till you’re carrying my pups.” He growls.

Thrumming with urgency now, the animal in him needing to take what’s his, he slides in. It's deliciously raw, skin on skin with only a sheen of Jihoon’s lube between them.

Seungcheol grips Jihoon’s hair and pulls back his head, sucks bruises into wherever his mouth touches skin. Jihoon keens, and Seungcheol rumbles his approval and thrusts in hard, his body taking the friction it desires.

On the next thrust Jihoon pushes back into Seungcheol’s hips, and a moment later they've found their rhythm, moving slow and deliberate and exquisite, Seungcheol leaning down so his front is draped over Jihoon's back, sweat springing up between them, Seungcheol’s hot face between Jihoon's shoulder blades.

Unthreading his fingers from the Jihoon’s hair, Seungcheol takes hold of his hips, pressing Jihoon's thighs further apart with his own, thrusting his hips hard and steady and breathing in the smell of him. Memorizing the taste of Jihoon’s skin, whispering Jihoon’s name into the heated shell of his ear.

Seungcheol!” Jihoon cries his name, every part of him is pleading for harder until Seungcheol takes him that way: facedown with his legs wide open, mouth parted and gasping, one reddened cheek pressed to the bedding.

When Jihoon comes for him, it’s with both hands tangled with Seungcheol’s own on top of the mattress. Climaxing just like that, just from the pressure and the drill of Seungcheol’s cock inside him.

Through it all, Jihoon writhes for him, pants for him and clenches for him and makes Seungcheol want him that much more.

Seungcheol savours it, each and every little shivering shudder of Jihoon’s body against his own. Absolutely fucking loves it.

Jihoon is gripping at the edge of the mattress for dear life since somehow they seem to have ended up sprawled crosswise, but he still takes everything Seungcheol gives him, spilling out small cries and a ardent reel of harder, come on, fil me, come in me, you feel so fucking good Cheollie until Seungcheol catches him around the waist and hauls him back towards the centre of the bed.

He finishes fucking the Omega like that, coming with a groan that ends up mostly muffled by Jihoon’s nape and mostly overpowered by the far more impressive scream Jihoon releases in response to his knot suddenly swelling and filing him wide.

When his knot stops swelling, Seungcheol’s on his knees, straddling one of Jihoon’s legs and essentially slumped over the rest of him. It’s not exactly the most practical position to knot it—but it is the deepest, and Seungcheol can feel the delicious tug and drag on his shaft as Jihoon’s hole tries to milk him for all he’s worth.

“Stay,” says Jihoon, twisting to clumsily wrap an arm around him even though the heat between them is ruthless. “Don’t pull out completely when you finish. Keep it in me for round two.”

Seungcheol rocks into him a little, enough to send sparks of pleasure through them both. “Gladly.”


 

After round six, when Seungcheol’s knot eventually shrinks enough to ease out of him, Jihoon tumbles into an indecent sprawl beside him, pliant and smiling the vague little smile he inevitably wears after a thorough fuck.

There are creases on one side of his face from pushing it into the sheets. Seungcheol presses his mouth to one of them, then contents himself with nestling his own face against Jihoon’s stomach all over again until Jihoon objects to the stubble burn and shifts down until they’re eye to eye.

Seungcheol draws him close. “What do you want to eat? I’ll make you anything, or I can order in if you don’t want to wait.”

But Jihoon doesn’t answer, not even to make a half-assed threat about dying from hunger like he usually does. He squirms when Seungcheol pulls him to sprawl on top of him, unhappy lines crossing his face.

Seungcheol nudges a kiss to the one alongside his mouth. “What’s with the face? What’s the matter?”

“I feel it coming out.” Jihoon huffs, pauses then and presses his face to Seungcheol’s neck. “I don’t want to be empty.”

At first, Seungcheol doesn’t understand. When he lets his touch dip lower, he can feel the slickness of his own come between the cheeks of Jihoon’s ass, and Jihoon just frowns harder, dismayed. “Seungcheol, don’t, I want to keep it inside.”

Seungcheol grins and traces two fingers over his cheek, “I just knotted you six times, there’s bound to be a little excess cum Hoonie—it doesn’t take that much to get you pregnant.”

Jihoon squirms again. “I said what I said--” he starts, but he seems mollified when Seungcheol shushes him.

“No, you’re right, I’m sorry. I have just the thing.” He rolls over to fetch the box from under the bed, noting when he comes back up that Jihoon seems much more at ease when he sights the plug.

When Seungcheol slips the plug into him, Jihoon only tenses for the most fleeting of moments before letting out a sigh and taking it into himself to the hilt. “There we go, puddin” Seungcheol murmurs. “Is that better?” He can’t resist giving a little shove to the base of it.

Jihoon gives a delicious little whimper and flicks his tongue against Seungcheol’s ear, biting the edge of it. “This is just temporary while we eat,” he warns, obviously trying to sound menacing even though he’s lax and smiling against the side of Seungcheol’s face. “I need the real thing in me again soon.”

“Of course, puddin.” Seungcheol says, pressing a kiss to the top of his head, holding on a little tighter.


 

Of all the things Jihoon’s going to miss when he’s pregnant, surprisingly, post-coital knotting is top of the list.

It was never something he expected to enjoy as an Omega; it limits his range of motion, after all, and it often means pulling a muscle or having a limb fall asleep from an uncomfortable starting position.

But now, lying on their sides with Seungcheol plugging him full with come, Jihoon realises how much he’s going to miss this level of intimacy. How much he’s going to miss having heats!

Fuck—he’s going to be heat free for nine months.

Seungcheol talks idly as they lie there, in stops and starts, apparently unbothered by Jihoon’s inability to respond in anything more than grunts.

Jihoon’s falling asleep, he thinks, except that every time his eyes slip shut Seungcheol remembers some other story he wants to share.

Jihoon doesn’t mind. He likes hearing Seungcheol’s voice, his low Daegu drawl, feel the working of Seungcheol’s muscles under him as Seungcheol moves to gesticulate or to pet Jihoon.

Those movements are starting to take a very decisive turn, though. “What...” Jihoon mumbles, clenching around Seungcheol’s cock. It ought to have softened and slipped out of Jihoon by now, but while the knot has loosened enough to allow them to separate, Seungcheol is still hard.

Hard and moving inside him, to be precise, although the motions are almost small enough to ignore.

“Are you,” Jihoon says, pressing back against Seungcheol before he can think better of it. “Again? Already?”

“Are you complaining?” Seungcheol licks two fingers and rubs them against the head of Jihoon’s cock, which has swelled tellingly. “Doesn’t seem like it.”

“No,” Jihoon manages to gasp. “Not complaining.” He pushes Seungcheol’s shoulder so that he lies on his back, with Jihoon straddling him.

Slowly, slowly he rocks over Seungcheol, riding him, eyes slipping shut of their own accord. His arms feel like putty but his legs have the strength to hold on to Seungcheol and move.

Jihoon sinks down, kissing Seungcheol’s mouth and his jaw and lower, biting at his collarbone and his nipples. It’s an awkward bend, but at the moment Jihoon’s spine feels like it was replaced with taffy, like everything in Jihoon is warm and flowing.

“M—so-flexible,” he informs Seungcheol with a semblance of coherence.

Seungcheol laughs. “If you say so, puddin.”

Jihoon supposes he wasn’t that coherent after all.

Whatever. It’s late and it’s been a long day, but Jihoon’s not one to slack off on finishing what he’s started, especially if it involves orgasms.

Okay, no, Seungcheol started it this time, but Jihoon’s not going to get hung up on a technicality here.

He plants his hands down and digs his toes in the blanket for purchase. He can move now, just as he wants, feel Seungcheol’s cock fill him slow and delicious.

If he rolls his hips just so, he can get a slick, seemingly-unending in-and-out motion that has him tossing his head back and moaning aloud. Seungcheol’s noises are a rumble in his chest, Jihoon feels them in his thighs and forearms, and that’s fucking delicious too.

His orgasm catches Jihoon almost by surprise, abruptly sends him tightening over Seungcheol’s dick and spilling hotly over his chest.

“Fuck—yes. That’s it. Come for me baby.” Seungcheol groans, tilting his hips up.

Seungcheol hasn’t swelled yet, so Jihoon fucks himself hard on his cock, grinning closed-eyed at the sensation, at last coming to rest sitting on Seungcheol and just squeezing him tight with everything Jihoon’s got.

“C’mon.” Jihoon whines. “Fill me.”

Jihoon’s about to squirm free, but Seungcheol rolls them over, though, distracts Jihoon with kisses to his neck so that Jihoon doesn’t understand what he’s doing until he feels Seungcheol’s finger easing into him alongside his cock.

Reflexively, Jihoon jumps.

He can handle the stretch, God knows, but it’s sudden and the implication of it make him dizzy. “Ahh—fuck Cheol, too much.” he says, dredging the words from the depth of his mind. “I can’t.”

Seungcheol crooks his finger, and Jihoon’s cock gives a small but noticeable leap, some wetness leaking out of Jihoon where Seungcheol has opened him further. “Try,” he says, coaxing Jihoon to relaxation with kisses and murmurs.

It’s a deadly combination, Seungcheol’s dick thick and blunt in him, his finger agile, mercilessly pushing Jihoon’s buttons until he has no choice but to bear down, gasping. Full, unbelievably full, not just at his entrance where the knot would stretch him but further down inside.

“Cheollie—please!”

When Seungcheol pushes the second finger in, fucking him slowly with his cock all the while, Jihoon’s completely hard and teetering on the edge of coming, held off by the barest hint of self-control and Seungcheol’s whispered, “Not yet, puddin, hang on for me.”

Jihoon’s trying, he is, but then the rhythm of Seungcheol’s breathing changes, the cadence of his thrusts becoming sharper, and Jihoon says, “Now, now, it has to be now, fill me!” like he’s choking on the words.

Seungcheol pulls his fingers away abruptly. Jihoon has only a moment to feel the loss before Seungcheol’s cock swells bigger and seals them together again.

“Oh yeah, yeah—oh god.”

Jihoon climaxes to the feel of Seungcheol’s hot come washing deep inside him, filling him good and wet.

He closes his eyes and tries to get his heartbeat and breathing to settle. It takes a while. He turns his face upwards, meanwhile, because Seungcheol usually takes that as a hint to smother him with kisses and, well, he isn’t wrong.

He’s managed to just about calm back down when Seungcheol starts nosing his neck with a purposeful motion, sucking Jihoon’s earlobe into his mouth as he starts trying to fuck into him, knot and all.

Jihoon groans with a realization. “You weren’t kidding when you said you’re not going to stop.” He also angles his face to give Seungcheol better access. Jihoon’s tired and all, but Seungcheol’s mouth on his skin feels too good to pass up.

“Not even a little.” Seungcheol wiggles his tongue in a way that makes Jihoon squeak. “Unless you need a break, that is. Changed your mind?”

Jihoon lets his eyes slip close and his muscles relax, because he knows the importance of a good ploy. He lets Seungcheol slow down, get smug, confident, and then he tenses and flips them over again.

“Hell no,” he says with a smirk that Seungcheol answers with great and obvious glee.


 

They must nap a little, in the end, because when Jihoon opens his eyes again there’s light coming through a gap in the curtains and he’s got a crick in his neck from lying over Seungcheol’s arm.

Worth it, though. So damn worth it.

Jihoon leaves the bed on trembling legs, barely carrying his own weight. He feels so full, dizzy from lack of sleep and from so many orgasms he lost count.

Their bedroom has a large En-suite, and Jihoon tumbles into the warm water with a deep sigh of joy. He rinses off perfunctorily, before propping a leg on the tub and reaching behind himself to ease the plug out with a hiss.  

Sometime later (Jihoon might have been standing under the hot water doing nothing but soaking), there’s a knock on the door. “Be right out!” Jihoon yells, hastily scrubbing.

“No, stay inside. I’ll join you.” Seungcheol says, muffled by the door and the water but still clearly audible.

Jihoon turns his face up into the stream, closing his eyes.

He hears Seungcheol come in, closing the door. There’s a burst of cold when Seungcheol pushes the shower curtain back, then greater warmth when his mate closes up behind him, his hands wrapping around Jihoon, linking over his solar plexus.

Jihoon slouches back against him. “Good morning, Cheollie.” His hand goes up to touch Seungcheol’s cheek.

“Mmm—Morning puddin.” Seungcheol nuzzles behind Jihoon’s ear.

“Hope you didn’t have any, uh, plans today.” Jihoon wants to clean up, eat some food, and go back to sleep for a few hours. He feels lazier than normal during heat, but then again it might be an effect of coming off the contraceptives.

He also feels more settled that usual. More relaxed. Odd.

Normally, on his second day of heat he’d be going a little wet and open just from Seungcheol’s proximity, but his body is staying resolutely shut for once.

“Nothing more important than this.” Seungcheol maps out Jihoon’s body as if he’s never touched it before, a hand moves down to his stomach, briefly petting there, then down to Jihoon’s entrance, gentle and exploratory. “Sorry, just want to make certain everything’s in good order.”

So Jihoon lets Seungcheol drop to his knees behind him, look at Jihoon, carefully prod him. Jihoon winces, even so.

Seungcheol grimaces in sympathy. “Hurts?” he kisses the top of Jihoon’s thigh. “Sorry. Shouldn’t have left it in so long.”

Jihoon gives a shaky smile and says, “No, it was good. I loved it.”

“Mmm,” Seungcheol says appreciatively, standing again. “Have to be more careful with you from now on. No rough housing now that you’re carrying my pups.” Seungcheol purrs, pushing his face into Jihoon’s neck.

“You can’t know that already.” The protestation is automatic, Jihoon’s tone rising sharply when Seungcheol’s jaw tightens on the soft skin behind his ear.

Seungcheol inhales, deep and pointedly. “Yes, I can.”

Jihoon freezes, rock-still as Seungcheol kisses his shoulders, licking water off his skin with the flat of his tongue. “It’s—it’s gotta be too early to know. We j—just started.” He stammers.

Seungcheol pauses and looks up, gaze practically pinning Jihoon to the shower wall. “I know,” he says with finality.

Jihoon’s next breath hitches, and his eyes flutter shut. His palms move to splay low over his belly.

“How?” He whispers after a long spell of silence, not opening his eyes.

His heart jumps into his throat and Seungcheol steps up behind him, sliding his own hands around to cover Jihoon’s. “Your scent is completely different. And—can’t you feel that your heat is over?”

Jihoon blinks.

Seungcheol’s right. Jihoon’s skin is cool to the touch, not a trace of the heat fever left. At the best of times, a heat might end after a couple of days of intense fucking. There’s really only one thing that can stop it dead in its tracks, and all of a sudden it feels like there’s not enough air in the bathroom.

Jihoon turns his head to meet Seungcheol’s eyes. “That—that was quick.”

“Yup. Less than fifteen hours.” Seungcheol says, settling his palm to the flat of Jihoon’s belly, touch close to the life he put there.

Even though his heat is over, Jihoon feels a decidedly warm and fuzzy sensation fill his heart—not that he’ll ever share that particular cliché out loud, but the soft happiness is there, nonetheless “I...” he almost chokes on it, but he makes himself say it. “I’m pregnant.”

Seungcheol stops smoothing his hands back and forth over his stomach. He lifts his hands a little lower, lets his fingers graze Jihoon’s hip bones. “Yeah. Are you okay?”

A heartbeat later Jihoon’s fingers slide over his, guiding them back to his belly and pressing them down against his skin. “I—I feel... I feel really good, actually.” His fingers flex, suddenly anxious. “I need to be sure. I—fuck—I don’t have a test kit.”

“It’s okay.” Seungcheol murmurs, low and soothing in his ear. “I’ll go out and buy one.”

Jihoon flings the shower curtain aside, climbing out eagerly. “I’m coming with you. You’ll buy the wrong one.”

“What?” Seungcheol laughs, stumbling out after him. “How can I buy the wrong test kit? How many types are there?”


Seungcheol drives them to the store, fingertips numb on the steering wheel, flicking happy glances at Jihoon the entire way.

Turns out—there are twelve million different types of post heat pregnancy test kits.  

Okay—it’s more like seven if accuracy is important. But Jihoon’s glad he came anyway because Seungcheol just fills his shopping basket with two of each type and starts making a beeline for the check out.

“What are you doing?” Jihoon catches him by the elbow, before he can disappear down the aisle in his excitement. “We don’t need that many—I don’t have that much piss to test with!” Jihoon stage whispers.

Seungcheol huffs out a frustrated lungful of air and drops his gaze to the basket in his hand.

“But how do we know which one to buy? Why are there so many ways to tell you the same thing?”

“Maybe there is somebody we could ask…” Jihoon trails off, glancing around the store for an assistant. But when he tries to wander off Seungcheol hauls him back, by fisting a handful of his sweater like he's afraid of being left by himself among the pregnancy test kits. So, ok then.

Jihoon sighs and takes the basket from Seungcheol, “I’ll check them out—just gab another basket and pick up some essentials. I’ll meet you at the check-out in fifteen minutes.”

Seungcheol nods and marches off with purpose.

Jihoon realises a second too late he should have written him a list; Seungcheol gets carried away when he doesn’t have a set grocery list and Jihoon just knows they’re going to end up with another fifty jars of mayonnaise because ‘they were on offer Hoonie!’.

Jihoon spends at least ten minutes trying to work out how each test kit works. Because, damn it, he's not making more than one trip.

From what he’s read on the back of the packaging so far, one of them gives you little blue cross, one a clear line, and another gives you two pink lines.

Then there is the fancy digital one that just flashes up ‘pregnant’ and another brand that gives a ‘Yes+/No-’ result. Some are suitable for early detection in Omega’s, some are just marked as universal use for Beta’s and female Alpha’s. Some even tell you how many weeks along you are—provided that you are an Alpha-mated Omega.

Honestly? Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Jihoon picks up the two most expensive ones and decides to compare them again and is vaguely aware of an Alpha male walking down the aisle towards him.

Since mating with Seungcheol, Jihoon doesn't possess the magnified senses he once had, but he's been loomed over enough to get a feel for an Alpha’s particular flavour. The man comes to a stop behind him, standing far enough that doesn't feel immediately threatening but definitely gives Jihoon the heebie-jeebies when he’s trying to focus.

Maybe the guy just wants to pick up a kit too, and Jihoon is sort of in the way and messing up the display by hogging all the kits.

“Sorry—I’ll be out of your way in a sec.” Jihoon mumbles quietly over his shoulder.

He recognizes his voice first. It’s unmistakable. “It’s okay, take your time, Jihoon.”

And those are the last words Jihoon can make out over the rush of blood in his ears as he turns his head and comes face to face with that last person he ever wanted to see again.

His father.