Actions

Work Header

Saltation

Chapter Text

The heavy brown gate closes behind them as they drive forward. Jimin sucks in a shaky breath.

"How are you feeling?"

"Like utter death."

Jimin throws his head back against the window of the car. His mother smiles at him from the driver's seat, but it's all thinly-pressed lips and her eyes don't crinkle the way they used to. They haven't since Jimin got the letter three weeks ago.

"It's not going to be that bad," Jimin admits, but even he doesn't know. He hasn’t ever driven so far out of the city to see the forest, but it's surrounding their car now as they drive along the road, with pine needles hanging so far out that it's like a canopy of shade over the vehicle passing beneath. He's half worried that a pile of snow will fall from the branches to crush him, even through the car, at any moment. "I get to finish my degree."

And really, that's all he has been clinging to. He might be forced to move into another world with limited outside contact, and he might never see a skyscraper again, but he'll live a peaceful life and he'll do research and get the degree he arguably no longer needs. His parents had raised him on the idea that education was like food—and he plans to eat even if he'll no longer ever get hungry again.

"That is exciting," his mother perks up. "And we can visit you for Christmas."

Jimin grins. "A whole month; I'm pretty lucky," he relaxes into his seat. He'd had less time to go back home in college. It won't be in his old home, but he'll have his parent.

"They liked you, at the office," his mother grins. "You were so quick to accept the move; they really appreciate that."

And that makes Jimin want to roll his eyes a little—it's just like her, to talk about an office she doesn't know anything about like she works there—but she does work there, so that at least calms him down. It's like that, lately: peaks and valleys. "I knew what would happen. That really helps me a lot."

They follow the curve of the road as it bends, and Jimin looks apprehensively out the window as the cliff drops off even more sharply on his side. On his mother's side, the mountain continues up farther into the sky. He can see where the road will rise at the bottom of the windshield, though, and that makes his anxiety swell. They're close.

"Stay warm," his mom says. Her voice sounds too tight for comfort, which makes Jimin uncomfortable enough to thankfully keep it together.

"It won't be so bad," he says. His tone is a little louder than necessary, so he reels it back in. "They have birth control, thank God."

His mom snorts and wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. "You sound like a woman," she chokes.

"I basically am," he moans. "God, my asshole is a vagina."

She smacks his arm, looking out at the road the entire time. "Don't use that language with me, young man. We're lucky you weren't an alpha—you know how they act when they present."

He doesn't say that they're both unlucky he isn't a beta. They've been crying about it enough before they go to bed at night. And his younger brother, of course—his dad, not so much. "I would've been locked in a cage, but now I get free tuition instead."

She's smiling again. "I love you, Jimin. I want you to know that. Your dad does too, even if it's hard for him. I know you don't get along—,"

"I'm relieved to be leaving," he cuts in harshly. "Not because of you."

She sighs. "I love you," she says again. "I love you too," he says back, and the road opens up to be swallowed by a tunnel.

This is the tunnel he's always heard of but never thought of in detail. It's pitch black aside from the tiny white lights nudged in the very top stone above their heads, forcing his mother to turn on her headlights and expose the detail of the blue-grey stones surrounding them. The tunnel would be fine if not for the fact that it's disturbingly lengthy, and that another civilization lives on the other side. Jimin's breath is disturbingly even throughout it all, and he wonders why he's so calm when he's never going to be able to see any other part of the world again. The rational part of his brain thinks on all of his escapism. The other part of him is just happy not to live in his old home anymore.

Instead, he'll be a literal man among wolves—the opening tunnel goes to show that.

The first thing Jimin notices is the difference between the town's entrance and the town itself. There's a large bit of land cleared with gravel put down, although that's covered up by the barely-there layer of snow sticking to the earth. It all seems to lead up to the beginning of a thin forest, with trees disguising the village behind them. But just barely beyond that, he sees cabins. Massive cabins—absolutely everywhere. Smoke stacks up above each cabin's chimney. It looks a scene out of Jimin's old World Civilizations textbook.

"God," he chokes. "They're huge."

"They like to live together." But her lips are pursed. She's thinking that Jimin will be like them soon. Jimin's wondering if he will, too.

"Let's just go," he says anxiously, even though the pace is far too quick. His mother nods and pulls her car forward until Jimin can see where gravel begins to turn to grass underneath the sheer coating of white. Against the thin tree-line, three massive men look at their Subaru curiously. The one who looks the youngest of them seems especially impressed, eyes wide and tugging on the sleeve of the tallest man. On the far left side, the man who looks to be the oldest and shortest glowers down at the hood of the car. All of the men look surprisingly young in the face, though, even while their bodies are built—definitely young adults. Of course, Jimin can’t see any of them in detail, but noticeable signs of aging aren’t present. They all must be at least a foot taller than Jimin, although he’s admittedly much shorter than average.

"Alphas," his mom supplies. Her tone is cheery in a fake-polite way, like she's on the phone or she has a guest at home. His old home. "They're all tall. You'll get used to it." And with that, she steps out of the car with that same polite smile. Jimin follows, boots crunching in the snow, with his expression much more cautious.

As his mother walks up to the trio, the men all bow sharply. This has Jimin stiffening as they straighten up, and nearly jumping when the tallest reaches out a hand to his mother. "Mrs. Park," the alpha says, voice low and clear. Jimin instinctively steps up to her side, anxiously pulling her back a bit by the strap of her purse.

He can feel a tingling sensation in the back of his head, like he's being scrutinized, and not just from his mother who's smiling sadly at him like he's already some born-and-raised omega. The movement causes the lead alpha to pull his own hand back and shoot him a relaxed smile.

"You're Omega Park," is all he says. Jimin knows from his crash course in dynamics that they'd be making assumptions about him based on his scent. Jimin wonders what he must smell like, but pushes the thought back to hug around his mother's shoulders with one arm. "I'm Lead Alpha, Kim Namjoon."

"Jimin is fine. It's nice to meet you," he says very quietly, and offers his free hand—even if it is shaking. He can't even smell them yet, but their presence is threatening. And Jimin still feels like he's being watched.

Namjoon takes his hand—not in the way he's used to, but turns it slightly so that the back of Jimin's hand faces the cloudy sky. The alpha's massive thumb brushes over Jimin's fingers, with his entire hand being dwarfed. Jimin blinks. His hand is being held like he's a woman being greeted. His books on dynamic cultural differences didn't cover chivalry performances.

"It's an honor," Namjoon says, smiling genuinely. Jimin notes that the absolute monster of a man still manages to have dimples. "I'm also in charge of beta community research here, so I'm looking forward to helping each other in our studies."

Ah, Jimin's interested. He’d been told in advance that he’d be teaching their academics about betas. "Sounds good," he nods. Namjoon's posture relaxes a bit.

"Well," he pauses, and the other two alphas step up wordlessly. Jimin trains his eyes on Namjoon to keep his eyes from darting between them nervously—especially to his left, where he can feel those sparks in the back of his head. Whoever that last alpha is, he’s strange. "We're here to take your furniture and belongings to your den, but it looks like the truck hasn't caught up yet?"

"Oh." Jimin looks uncertainly to his mother, who rubs her hand over the back of his. The physical contact soothes him. "They told me I could buy it up here, so I figured that's what I would do."

The leader's eyes widen just a bit. "I see," is all he says. "We'll just take your luggage, then."

The young-looking alpha steps forward, and Jimin stands protectively in front of his mother without realizing it. But she laughs a little. "You'll fit right in, sweetie," is all she says, and hands man her keys. He heads straight back to pop the trunk after fumbling with the fob a bit, and oh. Jimin feels stupid as he and the other alpha—who he isn't looking at—start unloading his belongings.

"Sorry," he murmurs to her as he turns around. "I just feel strange. But I guess you have to go."

She runs her hand over the hair at the back of his neck and nods. "I'll see you in just under three months," she promises. "I'll bring Jihyun too."

"Not Dad?" He can't keep the hope out of his voice, and he sees his mother smile bitterly.

"Not Dad," she promises, eyes wet. And then she hugs him tightly and warmly, which makes Jimin feel like the little beta boy that he actually is, and not the nineteen-year-old omega being forced to move into a completely new way of life. He laughs stiffly into her shoulder, wondering why he feels so calm. "I love you," he says. "I'm going to call you every day," he promises.

"Love you too," she says into his hair. She holds him for a few long seconds before she finally steps away. The young-looking alpha hands her keys back and Jimin feels so small and helpless that he takes one of the bags from Namjoon, even if that duffel bag is by far the lightest and smallest he's brought. His mom steps back into her car, closes the door of the Subaru, and starts the engine. She waves, and she's crying, and it's all Jimin can do to keep his face from cracking into the blank expression he wants to fall into. He's going to be stuck here for the rest of his life whether he likes it or not, so he figures he'd better smile and pretend he enjoys it.

"You'll be fine!" He calls, but he's trying to convince himself. His mother laughs and nods, cheeks wet, and then she's backing up. Jimin waits until he sees the license plate disappear into the black of the tunnel before he turns around to face the three alphas. With his mother gone, he can mentally pack his already dulled emotions away into the back of the dresser he still needs to purchase.

"Sorry," he says to Namjoon, feeling too emotionally numb to be genuinely guilty but at least polite enough to pretend. "I know it's cold."

"We can't even feel it!" It's actually the younger who speaks up. Namjoon rolls his eyes.

"He's right; we're less sensitive," he offers. "This is Jeongguk, my younger brother and Lower Leader. He's currently hunting and studying mathematics."

Jimin shoots him a nervous smile. "Nice to meet you."

Namjoon gestures to his left and Jimin feels his stomach twist a little. He looks at the last alpha's feet. "This is Min Yoongi, our head carpenter and High Alpha. He's in the first rank, if you've learned about our hierarchy yet?" Jimin nods. "He's one of our best hunters."

Namjoon sounds especially proud of the alpha, and Jimin chances a quick eye contact. He regrets it immediately.

It's a flash of an image—and a burst of the static he'd felt from before, and a handsome face, and dark eyes that seem slightly wild. Jimin shivers violently as he feels those eyes lock on his, and immediately focuses his eyes back on the ground. He takes a shaky breath and tries to say something, to even pretend at normalcy, but his tongue feels like lead and his lips are super-glued together with the buzzing in his head.

He settles for nodding, packing the entire feeling down into nothing. It’s not exactly the time for questions. When he looks up at Namjoon, he sees the alpha studying him curiously.

"We'll stop by your den, first," he eventually says, smiling. "I'll go ahead and point out some major landmarks on the way, but we don't have very much order here—you'll need a full tour tomorrow morning."

Not much order. Great.

"Okay," Jimin says quietly, and he falls into step behind Namjoon. The other two stay behind him, which Jimin knows is supposed to be for his own comfort, but instead leaves his head fuzzy. He's hyper-aware of the alpha—Min Yoongi—standing behind him on his left side. But as curious as he feels, Jimin doesn't want to wonder on the what's and why's—he just wants to get unpacked and sleep.

When Namjoon approaches the treeline, he turns back and grins. "Welcome to Compound," he says, and Jimin swallows his fear.

Chapter Text

Jimin thinks that this might be the most intimidating place he has ever seen.

It wouldn’t be so bad, really, if it weren’t for the sheer size of everything. The average building seems to be larger than the mansions he used to drive by with his parents, when they'd briefly entertained selling off their house and taking on a ridiculous mortgage. Mostly, though, they’d liked looking at the houses and imagining what it would feel like to live in so much space. Now Jimin will have to get used to it.

"So that's the dining room," Namjoon says, gesturing to the largest building Jimin has seen yet. "More of a hall, really, but we call it a room anyways."

"Sometimes we call it the kitchen," Jeongguk offers. Namjoon nods, rumbling, "That too," and starts to go over what Jimin ought to do in case he has any allergies. Jimin honestly doesn't listen but nods along anyways. He's trying to get his body to stop shivering at the alpha behind him.

"But anyway," Namjoon is saying, "You've seen the schoolhouse and the dining hall, and those are our two largest buildings aside from the Elders' home, but you'll be shown that and the fire pit when you take the tour. So, for now, let's go to your den."

Jimin might have seen the buildings, but he hadn’t been inside them, and they all honestly look the same—dark, cured, reddish and wooden cabins with heavy stacks of smoke pouring out the top of each chimney. His brain prattles off words like self-reliance and holistic use of natural resources, phrases he’d seen at least five too many times in his textbooks. Ultimately, though, all of the cabins appear uniform, with a light covering of white snow. They’re all around the same massive size, and only seem to get larger as they approach what Jimin figures has to be the residential area. By the time they stop—at his stop, he realizes—he’s at the biggest building yet.

Jimin's den, he figures out, is actually the den of every unmated and matured omega in the compound.

"It's huge," he shudders. And it is. It's the most disturbingly large building—in the style of a house, and not a corporate building—that Jimin has ever seen. It's bigger than some of the dorms from his old college campus and even bigger than some apartment complexes he has seen. There are four large chimneys here as well, each with smoke fluffing outward.

"You should see the alpha pups' den," Jeongguk snorts. Jimin is taken aback by the casual tone, but tries to shrug it off quickly. The faster he can blend in, the better.

"You're actually on the first floor," Namjoon says, to which the other alphas glance at the leader. They both look surprised—even the quiet alpha, who looks away from Jimin for once and widens his eyes slightly. "So you'll be with the most matured omegas. It'll be like an apartment, rather than a bedroom with a roommate. We took your old living style into consideration."

Jimin smiles a little and looks down. "You mean I'm spoiled," he jokes.

Namjoon sputters out an awkward laugh. Jeongguk grins behind a hand, and Jimin definitely isn't looking at the last alpha, but he's still looking at Jimin with an openly intense but equally curious expression. Jimin’s surprised he isn’t feeling scared yet. Maybe he’s too scared of everything else.

Namjoon steps up to the massive front door and raps on it four, five times with his knuckles. "I wouldn't say spoiled," he offers. "Privileged, maybe."

Jimin laughs quietly at that, and is about to say something about nepotism and his mother when the door is thrown open.

"Kim Taehyung, son of a—oh, Babe, who's this?"

The most beautiful man Jimin has ever seen opens the door, eyelashes fluttering curiously at him. He must be an omega—he's tall enough to pass as a short alpha, but he has the trademark thin waist and larger hips of an omega. That, and he's wearing a muted pink sweater. Jimin vaguely hopes that this man is some sort of exception and that not all omegas look as beautiful as this one—the vain part of Jimin still wants to be seen as pretty, and the affectionate part of him is hoping to get a boyfriend at some point.

Distantly, aside from everything else, Jimin wonders how many other extremes he’ll be introduced to today.

"I'm Park Jimin," he stutters, and nearly backs up a step until he feels the alphas' aura behind him again.

The omega coos softly and before Jimin can flinch, there are two warm hands cupping his face. "You're such a pretty little thing," he says sweetly, so close that Jimin can see all the details of his eyelashes. Jimin feels his face heat up. "I'm Seokjin, Lead Omega. Call me Jin—I'm Namjoon's intended mate. Sorry about that earlier; I was expecting a brat to come home, not my cute new neighbor."

Jimin desperately tries to keep his face from flushing even more, even while he thankfully notes that Seokjin is taken with the Lead Alpha. Hopefully that means he must be extraordinarily good-looking after all. "Thank you," he says, and offers a hand, "It's nice to meet you."

Instead of putting his hands near Jimin's, Seokjin wraps both around his waist and draws him into a hug. "Omegas don't shake hands; that's for those nasty alphas. We hug and cuddle."

Jimin, even with one ear against Seokjin's sweater, thinks he hears three simultaneous snorts from behind.

He likes the faint whiff of scent that his developing senses can pick up, though—fresh and almost sharp, like flowers and citrus—the fuzzy part of his mind tells him to lean in and rubs his face, just barely, against the comforting scent before he pulls away. He hopes he won't be noticed, but winces when the omega is looking at him with wide eyes. "Sorry, I'm still learning how to control all of this..."

Seokjin looks at Namjoon. "You're dumped; I want him," he says, expression serious. Namjoon sputters.

"Anyways," the omega says, pulling him into the entryway, "Welcome to your new home. You're actually right next to me—I wasn't kidding when I said we were neighbors. So come in and snuggle with me every night, okay?" He throws a wink over his shoulder at Namjoon, who sighs. Jimin can't tell if he's serious or just wants to rile up his... boyfriend? Fiancé? Intended?

Jimin looks over his shoulder as well, but his eyes move straight past Jeongguk to Yoongi, who immediately looks straight into his eyes. Jimin shivers and tucks himself in further under the older omega's arm.

"Here it is," Seokjin sings, and swings open the door. "I'm right across the hall. Boys, load it up, please."

Yoongi and Jeongguk both grumble as they pass the omega, the younger even daring to stick his tongue out as he sets two of Jimin's suitcases down. For that, the omega twists his ear as he exits the room. Jimin can't help but laugh as the taller kid whines and whimpers while Seokjin tells him off.

"Anything else you need, sweetheart?" Jin's looking expectantly at Jimin while he continues to abuse Jeongguk's ear. "This is the only time alphas are allowed in the den, so if you need something from them while they're here, now is the time."

Jimin wants to ask why exactly they wouldn't be allowed into the omega's den, but considering the stereotypes he's heard about alphas, he can fill in the blanks. He looks around the empty space, at the dark wooden floors and the neutral walls. "Where do I buy furniture?"

The alpha staring at him straightens up even more, if possible.

"Ah." Namjoon grins and slaps his hand down on Yoongi's back. "He's your man. Alpha Min is one hell of a carpenter."

The alpha returns by hitting Namjoon straight in the stomach for that, but then turns his eyes straight back to Jimin.

"You'll have to come by the shop," he says. Jimin watches his lips form the words, and listens to the voice itself, but it takes a few seconds to link them and make meaning of the words themselves. Frankly, he hadn't expected such a deep growl of a voice to be directed at him. The rumble of it and the slight slur of the words have Jimin's face flushing and his knees feeling weak.

"Okay," he agrees, caught off guard by his sudden response. "What's a good time?"

The alpha looks Jimin up and down with dark eyes, and inhales. Jimin feels the hair on the back of his neck stand up. "I keep the back room open until dinner," he rumbles. "You could come by beforehand."

Jeongguk looks at Yoongi with wide eyes. Namjoon looks intently at Seokjin. Jimin, who thoroughly doesn't know what the fuck Jeongguk's expression is about, nods. "I'll come by in a couple of hours. Uhm. Where, though?"

Seokjin puts a hand over Jimin's shoulder and smiles down at him. "I'll have your tour guide show you, sweetheart. Taehyung is a brat, but I think you two will get along. You might straighten him out."

Jimin doesn't want to hang out with a troublemaker—he's already joining a completely isolated and new culture as is.

Instead of complaining, he says, "Sounds good," with a polite smile, and the alphas make to leave after Jin shoos them out.

The shortest alpha is the last to leave, looking back into the doorway to pin Jimin with a dark glance before he follows the others. Jimin's not sure how he feels about it, until Jin snorts next to him.

"I don't think I've ever seen Yoongi look interested in much of anything, but he's sure interested in you," he says. Jimin chokes and sputters on air, but the older omega smiles at him in reassurance.

"I doubt it," Jimin mutters, once he's done heaving. "I think he wants to eat me."

Seokjin laughs, which is probably the only ugly thing about him; short, squeaky wheezes echo off the bare walls of Jimin's room. It's so terrible that Jimin nearly laughs himself, but it's not so bad that he thinks it takes away from how pretty Jin is. "God, it did look like that," Seokjin admits, wiping at one of his eyes. "Yoongi's pretty well known for being intimidating, but he's just shy."

"Shy?"

"Well." Seokjin looks out the window of Jimin's room where the blurry shape of three alphas can be seen walking away. "His instincts are a bit... more intense. He's well-known for it."

Jimin knows what Seokjin's trying to say. "They think he's—sorry—savage?" It's a bit of a slur to say so, but Jimin wants to know.

The omega's eyebrows knit together. "No, but sometimes they wonder." It seems like a very dramatic statement considering the situation, but then Jin turns, smiles, and tells Jimin that he ought to get some sleep before heading out to see the alpha. So after the pink sweater and broad shoulders disappear behind his closed door, Jimin heads straight to the lone mattress in his bedroom and sleeps for a while, buried into unfamiliar blankets.

 

 

"Wake up, sleepy." There's a hand slapping his back.

"Who—," Jimin leaps out of bed, slamming straight into the boy who'd been leaning over him.

"Shit—," The boy ends up slamming straight against the floor, Jimin following on top of him. "I'm not ready for this kind of intimacy," the boy wheezes with Jimin crushing him.

Jimin can't help but snort as he rolls off. "Who are you?"

The boy crooks his elbow and props his chin against his hand. "Kim Taehyung, your tour guide to Compound." He offers his free hand to Jimin, who's still lying on his back. Jimin doesn't bother moving before he reaches to shake it. Taehyung doesn't shake the hand, though; he drags it up to his neck and rubs the back of Jimin's hand against the skin there. Proposing friendship, from what Jimin has read in his textbooks, so he takes Taehyung's hand and tries to imitate the movement as best he can.

"Park Jimin," he offers.

"I know," Taehyung grins, wide and boxy. "I'm here to take you to Yoongi's shop?"

"You're my tour guide?" Jimin's a bit skeptical; he thinks Taehyung is younger than he is—although Jimin himself looks much younger than he actually is, so he can't exactly complain.

"Rude," Taehyung puffs at him. "Do you want a real bed or not?"

Jimin stands up from the floor at that; he'd like a box spring and a frame very much. "Let's go, then," he says, and offers Taehyung a helping hand up. The omega is much heavier than he seems; Jimin nearly falls down again with him.

"We have an hour and a half until dinner," Taehyung informs him. "So we'd better be leaving."

They set out to do just that, and Jimin has no idea how Taehyung manages to navigate the absolute maze of the community. He thinks they weave through several houses, a few alleyways, and even through a few buildings on the way, forcing Jimin to wonder if Taehyung is pulling a prank on him or if this is actually the commute.

The answer turns out to be neither.

"Why are we going through so many buildings?" Taehyung just turned to grin at him.

"Because it's more fun this way," he'd said. Jimin had groaned.

For all of the inconvenience, though, the walk itself is pretty short—about six minutes, according to Jimin's phone. He sends his mother a quick text while it's out—I'm doing okay—and sighs when he realizes that eventually Comms will want him to limit that contact as well.

"What's that?" Taehyung asks at it as they entered a smaller cabin.

"My cell phone," Jimin responds. "It's a beta thing."

"Oh," the omega said, shrugging his shoulders. "I'd heard of those—I thought they looked different though. Well, we're here."

Taehyung drags open the large, heavy front door and grins as he hears the attached bell overhead chime. Jimin scurries in and tries not to gape at all of the furniture in the small front room. He doesn't think he can walk through all of the chairs on the front floor—and neither does Taehyung.

"Shit," he groans. "I forgot about the pups needing new chairs for classes." He pulls off his sweater—although Jimin would argue that it's still freezing, and calls, "Hoseok!"

Jimin thinks he hears a muffled coming! from the doorway at the back of the room. The door is just barely open a crack, and Jimin is surprised he can hear the voice. Just seconds later, the hinges squeal as the door swings wide, and Jimin can see a lanky omega with a wide smile standing in the doorway. He grins at them both, eyes crinkling.

"Sorry about the mess," he offers, shrugging. "There's a path that should be wide enough if you go over by my desk and around back here."

"Oooh, we get to go in back," Taehyung grins.

The omega shrugs again. "Yoongi's the one who deals with beta currency transactions."

Jimin's honestly just glad that he'd remembered to bring his cash with him. He hopes he has enough; he can only imagine what kind of overcharge could happen in a place where trading is commonly used and there isn't any kind of currency in place.

They squeeze through the small gap between what must be the front desk and all of the small child-size chairs, then, and step back to the omega. He's taller than Jimin but not quite as tall as Taehyung; it looks like Jimin's even short for the smallest dynamic. He wants to huff, but won't do so until he's in private.

Hoseok smiles at him, though, and it's so kind of him that Jimin forgets some of his frustration. "Yoongi told me you'd be coming, so you can go on back," he says warmly. Jimin can't help but feel a bit of fear return to him at that.

"Okay," he gulps, and Hoseok holds open the door for Jimin to step inside.

The small front room had at least been cozy—all warm colors and rugs spread over the nice hardwood floors. By contrast, the back room is massive and seems to have an unforgiving stone floor that chill Jimin's feet even through his boots. It's not as bad as the outside, but Jimin still shivers—and he hasn't even seen that alpha yet. A surprising amount of power tools rest on and by a workbench that spans the left side of the room. Jimin is surprised by the sight, considering the compound's general policy to minimize electricity consumption. On the right side of the room, though, he can see ornate furniture spanning the floor—all in various states of assembly. He can even see a few chairs with legs clamped down against seats; most likely with some kind of glue drying in the joints, he assumes.

When Jimin's eyes finally pass onto a large armoire, the alpha actually steps out from behind the wood of the thing and looks straight at him from across the room.

"One second," he says lowly, with direct eye contact—the way his voice carries all the way to Jimin has his head tingling all over again—and closes the door to the unfinished piece before walking over. Jimin tries to keep his eyes off of the man's broad shoulders, but can only settle for staring at the floor. "You can take a seat in my office—not you, Taehyung."

Taehyung snorts.

Yoongi opens the side door at the end of the workbench. Jimin walks through nervously, holding his breath with shaking hands when he passes the alpha. Taehyung skips in behind Jimin despite the alpha's direct jibe, taking a seat at the oak desk and patting the chair beside him for Jimin to sink into. Once the alpha has slid around them to take the seat behind his desk, Jimin finally feels like he can breathe and dares to take in a deep breath. He’s not sure whether to regret that decision or not. He doesn't know exactly what it is that Yoongi smells like, but he knows that if he'd smelt it in a cologne back home, he'd have bought two bottles for a boyfriend he hadn't even had.

His face must be bright pink—he can feel the warm flush in his cheeks. When Jimin dares to glance at Taehyung, the omega is looking at him with raised eyebrows and a barely-held smirk.

"Can I listen in, Boss?" Jimin turns to see Hoseok leaning against the doorway. The alpha pauses, staring intently at his desk for a second or two, and nods stiffly. Hoseok raises an eyebrow at Yoongi, but the alpha simply reaches into a desk drawer to pull out a yellow form.

"Here's an order form," he rumbles, and looks to stare intently at Jimin. "Your den has two rooms?"

Jimin nods, eyes fixed firmly on the clear surface of desk in front of him.

He hears the alpha take an inhale. "Budget?"

"Uhm." He squints, and tries to think of the amount of space he has—it's a fairly large apartment. "I was hoping to keep it under two thousand, for now, since I really don't need much and my stipend hasn't come in yet. Is that doable?"

Silence.

When no one answers after a good few seconds, he chances a look at Taehyung. The omega is looking at him like he's moderately offended, eyes squinted and leaning away from him in his seat.

He looks at Yoongi briefly, just long enough to catch his expression—the same intense look, but with eyebrows pinched together as if confused.

"Sorry, I'm not really sure about the inflation up here," he says shyly. "I can afford more, of course—I had just figured, maybe, starting off with something I might pay at home—,"

"I do a full set for eighty," Yoongi says, slowly.

Oh. He'd assumed in the wrong direction. He winces as Taehyung whistles. Hoseok coughs from behind him.

"I see," Jimin says. "Let's just go with that, then. But I, uhm, don't need much."

The yellow form comes into Jimin's field of vision. The alpha must have set it in front of him, along with the pen at the top of the form. "You can go ahead and put in any additional specifications at the blank space below," the alpha rumbles. Jimin shivers and picks up the pen.

He looks over the form and quickly realizes that he has no idea what any of it means. There's a box to check by each piece he'd like to order, which he comprehends, but next to each is a place for dimensions and joint type and stains and door knobs and a whole bunch of things which he frankly cannot decipher.

"I have no idea what any of this means," he blurts, intelligently. It's the loudest thing he's said so far.

Taehyung snorts beside him. "I'm sorry," the omega says immediately. "Don't feel bad; I don't get this stuff either. But that was funny. You're so quiet."

Jimin just shrugs, his face red. The alpha sits forward in his seat, moving a hand right next to Jimin's. He gently pulls the pen out from Jimin's grip, and leans forward into his personal space. At that, he can't help but perk up and look at Yoongi's eyes, even if he drops the look back down a few seconds later when he's intimidated.

"The most important thing will be the bed frame." The pen drags through the box, marking it with a small check. Jimin's hand still rests beside the alpha's on the desk. Their proximity has Jimin's mind clouding up with scent and fuzziness. "What are the dimensions of your mattress?"

"It looks full-sized," he murmurs. The alpha writes down some numbers in the margins.

"Wood preferences?"

"Something easy for you to work with?" That doesn't make any sense. The alpha makes a rumbling sound in the back of his throat—Taehyung shifts a little in his seat, but the sound isn't an angry one even if it does seem intimidating.

"Paint or stain?"

"Stain, I think." Jimin winces as he hears his own voice stutter. "Something dark to go with the floor, please."

"How do you feel about red tones?"

"That sounds good," he admits. He sees the pen float between cherry and mahogany, and ultimately circles the latter.

"Any other requests or stylistic preferences?"

Jimin shakes his head. The alpha nods, and begins checking other boxes down the line.

"From here I have a good idea of what you'll need," Yoongi says. The sentence is long enough that Jimin can hear the way his words come out in a slight slur, as if the growl that shapes the consonants themselves is caught in his throat. "I'll mark you down for an armoire, a desk and chair, and a fairly basic set for a living room. I can draft designs for these and then you can come back in to review those and pick out fabrics—,"

—Jimin is trying to catch up, to follow the words that the alpha is saying, and at a very quick rate—

"—so that we can have the details situated before I start cutting. Hoseok—," he looks at the omega behind Jimin," —can give you an exact price once everything is decided on that end. Are there any other pieces you're looking for? Bookshelves, nightstands?"

Jimin pauses. "Uhm. Yes. One of both, please." It'll at least look like what he has at home.

The alpha nods stiffly and begins to write on the back of the form. "I'll have these drafted within two days," the alpha says, looking at Jimin seriously. "As soon as the other projects are completed."

Jimin forces himself to pull back the hand that's still resting near Yoongi's. It takes longer than he'd like to work up the mind-to-muscle and do so.

"That sounds great," he eventually murmurs. And then, "Thank you."

The alpha nods. There's a heavy silence between them, where Jimin's eyes dart nervously between Yoongi's dark eyes and back down, until Taehyung finally snorts.

"I'm hungry," Hoseok murmurs. "Dinner's in fifteen. Yoongi, why don't you close up shop here, and we can save some seats for these two in the dining room?"

Yoongi looks at Hoseok and nods. He does it in a jerky way, like he hadn't expected that the omega would speak. But the immature part of Jimin, who had worried about where he'd sit for his meals like a freshman in high school, is relieved.

"Shit," Taehyung whines. "I have to show you the kitchens—I hate the kitchens. Let's get this over with."

And just like that, Jimin can breathe again—even if it is a little shaky with Yoongi's smell in the room. Jimin allows himself to be pulled out of his seat then, and waves back at Hoseok—and the alpha, too, although he looks at the ground while he does it—before scooting back around the full front room and into the winter air.

Taehyung turns to him as soon as they've managed a distance away from the shop. "Oh my god," he cackles.

"Shut up," Jimin mutters.

Taehyung cackles some more. "How long did you even look at him? Two seconds?"

Jimin decides to hit the omega in the stomach for that one, but Taehyung just laughs some more and drags Jimin off through more snow.

Chapter Text

"Kim Taehyung, absolute brat—,"

"Ugh," Taehyung complains, pulling a potato peeling from out of his hair. He turns to Seokjin. "You're the one who told me to play tour guide!"

The scene looks like this: they're in the back of the dining room, which looks to be the actual kitchen. There are long rows of counters and industrial-grade appliances, although it looks like all dishes are still washed by hand down at the back end. Almost everything is tiled or concrete, and the floor slants at a downward angle all the way back by the dish bar, where there's a large drain in the floor that apparently collects and dispenses water directly into a filtering and recycling system. Throughout the whole place, omegas and a few alphas are busying about, and in the middle of it all, in a pink apron, stands Seokjin wielding a potato peeler and a very full bucket of potato peels.

"As if you would have come to help in the first place!" The lead omega is standing with both hands on his hips, with one foot raised slightly and head tilted in what Jimin thinks is a very good impression of Donald Duck.

"It's nasty in here," is all Taehyung says.

"This is where the food you eat is prepared! I've cooked in this kitchen for seven shifts, three cycles, eight moons, and through two annum festivals—,"

"—I get it, it's been a long time, stale ass—,"

"—I cooked in this kitchen while your lead alpha was rutting after this beauty—,"

Taehyung makes a nauseous face so well-acted that Jimin's actually convinced he might need the potato-peel bucket. "That's it, that's nasty, I'm done," Taehyung concedes, and gets another potato peel to the head in retaliation.

"Uhm," Jimin says, trying to think of something decent to offer. "I think it's a nice kitchen."

Taehyung sighs. "Then you can work here—I'll take the spot reserved for you at the kid's schoolhouse."

Jimin doesn't know what that means, but tells the omega he'll think about it. Seokjin coos at him for it and reaches out to pet him, but stops at the last minute so he won't have to change gloves and wash hands.

"The food's going to be good tonight, sweetheart," Jin offers instead. "Are you sitting with Taehyung and I?"

"He is," Taehyung supplies. Jin smiles softly at that.

"Good," he says. "You'll get the best food that way."

Jimin's honestly confused why the two sit together if Seokjin is always nagging after the other—that's the way Taehyung describes their relationship, anyways. Instead of prying, he smiles and nods.

"Let's get the hell out of here," Taehyung says, then, and drags Jimin towards the staircase where food will soon be traveling. The potato peel Jin throws at the back of Taehyung's head for cursing lands on Jimin's shoulder instead.

"Ugh," he says, and tosses the slimy thing into a nearby garbage can. He thinks he can hear Seokjin's ugly laugh as they start back down the stairs.

"So that's our kitchen," Taehyung offers. "Food comes down this staircase back here and we line it up over here—," he points to what looks like the backside of a counter, "—and through this door, we'll be out of the back room and into the actual dining room, so I kind of showed you the building backwards—have you seen it? The dining room?"

Jimin shakes his head.

"Cool, cool." Taehyung nearly crashes into a poor omega carrying a box of greens as he maneuvers to open the door—it's actually a half-door, with only the bottom portion, and it swings open easily on its hinge. Beyond it, Jimin can see lots of long bench-like tables nearly filled with alphas and omegas alike digging into bowls. Taehyung leans across his vision, grabbing two bowls of food from the open serving counter he’d indicated and handing one over to Jimin. "I'll show you where we sit—unless you wanted to sit with someone else? Have you met anyone?"

The answers are no and no. Jimin shakes his head again. Taehyung grins at him, all teeth.

"Good," he says. "We're kind of the shit around here anyways."

As they move through the rows of tables towards the front of the hall, Jimin figures that Taehyung’s so-called status is likely a result of Seokjin’s relationship with Namjoon. How he’s so close with the lead omega, though, is where his confusion sits.

“What? No,” Taehyung says when Jimin asks how they’re such close friends. “Jin's my older brother.”

Well then. “Oh,” Jimin says sheepishly. He really should have seen that coming. “I should have figured, same last name and all.”

Taehyung shrugs. “It’s Namjoon’s last name, so we would have taken it anyways.”

Jimin’s brows furrow. “I thought they were only intended?”

“No,” Taehyung says airily, “They’re bonded. They just haven’t had the ceremony because Jin likes to take care of the den.”

Jimin’s admittedly a little distracted because he can see, in his peripheral, the alpha Min Yoongi staring at him from the very end table at the front of the hall. He and Hoseok are sitting across from each other. Still, Jimin tries to keep his heart from lurching in anxiety—and from the attraction he doesn’t want to think about—and attempts to continue the conversation through the shivers developing in his body. “He can’t do that if he’s bonded?”

“He can,” Taehyung says. “He just doesn’t want to admit that. We don’t really talk about that, though.”

Jimin nods understandingly, adjusting the bowl in his hands as they approach the table.

This is about the time where Jimin remembers Hoseok's promise to wait for them at the dinner table—with Min Yoongi. He sees the Yoongi sitting right near the end of the table, and feels himself wanting to bolt.

"I don't know if I feel so good," Jimin says, immediately looking towards Taehyung. "I think I should maybe—,"

Taehyung grabs at his arm and snakes them together. Jimin shifts the bowl in his hands to keep a steadier grip. "I know something that might make you feel better," he's snickering, right into Jimin's ear. He pulls them both along like that. "Or worse, maybe?"

"What?" It comes out as more of a whispered hiss than he'd like, and he'd be sorry, but Taehyung only cackles.

"There are two open end spots," he whispers, raising his eyebrows suggestively, "And I'm about to take the one seat next to Hoseok,” leaving Jimin next to Yoongi—

—Jimin's about to swat at Taehyung, get his attention in some way, maybe whisper something admittedly a little middle school-esque like what the fuck are you doing, I'm new and have no friends here, but they’re only a foot from the end of the table and the omega is already cheering and running with his free hand waved in the air as he bounds to sit by Hoseok. The older omega, according to what Jimin can see, cheers animatedly and pulls the other into a surprisingly obnoxious hug. And really, Jimin is about ready to haul off and go home—to his den, anyways, but then he feels a hand on his shoulder.

“How’s it all treating you?” It’s the lead alpha Namjoon, smiling warmly and urging Jimin forward with a gentle force. Jimin decides that he should probably go with it, and feels safe enough that he’s not too terrified by the other alpha sitting down.

“It’s really nice,” Jimin offers politely. “The building sizes are very different, but overall it’s very cute.”

Namjoon pauses, and Jimin realizes that he’s supposed to take his seat. He does so, setting his bowl down and immediately looking down at the surface of the table. He can hear Namjoon as he walks around Jimin and the alpha Yoongi to take the seat at the head of the table. Jimin’s busy trying to handle the influx of that amazing scent, though, sitting just far enough away to not seem suspicious. The food might smell amazing, but the smell of the alpha next to him has every muscle in Jimin’s body tensing and relaxing.

He thinks he hears Taehyung laughing almost inaudibly, like this is the best source of comedy, but then there’s that same immediate feeling of ticklish pins and needles starting up in the back of his head again. Jimin’s too afraid to look and confirm that Yoongi might be looking at him and causing it all.

“Well I’m glad you’re liking it so far,” Namjoon offers as he settles down into his seat. It’s the only chair in the main hall, Jimin notices. None of the other tables have chairs at the head. “Do you have any questions? Maybe we could help answer some of those.”

Jimin fidgets in his seat. He has a ton of questions; how to make friends, who he should avoid, how he’s supposed to help out, what his daily schedule will look like. He knows he’ll have a job within the compound, but he doesn’t know much else. “How will I figure out what my job will be?”

Taehyung snorts around a mouthful of what Jimin finally realizes must be a really good stew. “Why so eager?”

Jimin wants to hit him, but he’d have to breathe more than absolutely necessary to do that, meaning that he might have to deal with more of that scent. He’s already feeling like his body’s not under control with all the staring and shivers running up his spine. He slaps the table weakly in Taehyung’s direction.

“I’m just used to being busy,” is all he offers.

Jeongguk, who has come to sit beside Taehyung, perks up at that one, but Namjoon shoots a clear and cautionary look at the alpha. Jimin is thankful; he really doesn’t want to think about his life from before the past day or so.

“You’ll get to choose what you want to do,” Taehyung speaks up. Jimin’s thankful that he can look in front of him instead of awkwardly around Yoongi to Namjoon. “You can talk to my brother about it. Please, for fuck's sake, pick the kitchens. I hate working in the kitchens.”

But there’s a bustling set of footsteps from behind. “Yah, Taehyung. Jimin is educated, not a cabin brat like you. He’ll be in the schoolhouse unless he hates it.” Seokjin is wielding a massive wooden spoon from behind them. He walks around to the head of the table and kisses Namjoon’s cheek. Surprisingly, Jimin feels much more content with the sight than he would with beta exchanges—he worries distantly if that could be a result of his biology, and that it could have played into his previous aversion to affectionate displays.

Jimin takes note of the information on his future job, though. He’d figured they would make use of his education.

Taehyung decides to stick his tongue out in response before Jin comes back around to sit on the other side of Jimin.

“How’s the food?” is all Seokjin asks.

Jimin smiles weakly and adjusts the spoon within his bowl. “Haven’t tried it yet,” he admits, “But this smells amazing.”

“Eat up,” is all Seokjin says, so Jimin does.

And it’s good—Jimin would be clearing his bowl if not for that heavy sense of fizz inside his stomach. Seokjin speaks up, giving his stomach a rest. "Do you know if you have any preferences for shift?"

"I don't mind whatever it is that I'll be doing," Jimin offers.

Seokjin rubs his hand over the side of Jimin's neck. "That's very sweet," Jin coos. Jimin wants to lean into the touch, but refrains as much as he can. "You can come by the schoolroom and watch tomorrow, if you want."

Jimin nods, shyly. "Is there anything else I should be doing? To learn how things work?"

Hoseok speaks up. "Meet the elders, maybe? If that's a thing?"

But Namjoon shakes his head. "That's not really necessary, so I don't think he should right now. Let's leave the elders alone when we can." He frowns contemplatively. "What do you think, Yoongi?"

The shivery feeling at the back of his neck intensifies. Jimin takes a deep, shaky breath, and tries to ignore the assault of scent in his nose.

"You should come to the festival at the end of this week," the alpha says, tone rough and heavy. "It could be a little bit hectic, but you'll hear some old pack stories."

Jimin tries not to openly shiver, but completely fails. He can feel his face heating up, but forces his eyes away from the food in front of him to make eye contact.

He's handsome, is all he can think. He's trying to hold steady eye contact but finds that he can't; ends up jumping from the features of the alpha's face to his eyes only for a fraction of a second each time. It doesn't help that he's effectively being picked apart by those eyes on him—Jimin doesn't think he's ever seen such a dark expression so close. The alpha legitimately looks like he could lean in and invade Jimin's personal space at any moment. The scariest thing might be how easily Jimin would let him, if Min Yoongi were interested in him after all.

At the especially loud clearing of a throat, Jimin turns his eyes back to the food in front of him and tries to remember what his original response had been. His tongue feels like lead again.

"Sounds like a good idea!" It's Hoseok who finally butts in, but Jimin can see that he's trying to hold back his laughter with almost as much difficulty as Taehyung next to him. "I'll be performing, but you can watch with Taehyung."

Jimin is thankful for the conversational out, of sorts. "Performing?"

Hoseok winks. "You'll see if you show up," he offers.

Jimin feels like he can finally relax just a bit. "I'll think about it," Jimin promises. "Is it on Saturday? Sunday?"

Surrounding silence from their group.

"Saturday night," Namjoon finally offers, "Our seventh eve."

Jimin feels his face heat up even more, if possible. It's so difficult to adjust to a new calendar. "Sorry," he says.

Seokjin hits at the back of his head lightly. "Don't be sorry, that's no problem. How are you feeling, though? Any better?"

Jimin looks into his barely-touched bowl. "I must just be tired. I'll feel better after I get some sleep."

"I can walk you back," Taehyung offers, expression surprisingly serious.

Jimin considers it. He knows he should pull himself back and get some sleep, but now that he's faced with the actual possibility of going back, he feels a surprising amount of resistance toward parting from the alpha next to him. The thought of pulling away from him seems surprisingly disconcerting—which is only more uncomfortable overall, considering that he couldn't have imagined the whole situation even twenty-four hours ago.

So he listens to his mind and nods his head. "If you could, thanks." And he doesn't feel content with his answer, but he knows that he made the right choice. It makes saying goodbyes and putting their dishes aside that much easier. That, and Taehyung remaining carefully off of the topic on the way home helps.

His mattress is new and unfamiliar and it doesn't have a frame or a box spring. He lies down on it with his mother's old favorite throw from the living room that he had stolen before they left. Beneath the nasty lingering scent of his father's cigarettes, he can smell his mom. It's a conflicting set of smells but it's his conflicting smells and that's the only thing that makes him feel better until sleep finally takes care of everything for him.

 

 

Getting ready the next morning is a struggle.

He'd set his alarm for his usual wake-up time at six, but then he realized that he didn't have the same work or class schedule that he used to. So he spent a few minutes in bed, processing, thinking of lots of new faces and names until a specific face came up that had Jimin jumping into the shower and starting his day.

The shower turned out to be a bath, and having the option removed was strange to Jimin but not awful. He sat in the spacious tub for a while, giving himself a good soak and scrubbing himself down with a soap that was clearly all-natural and didn't suds up in the chemical-y way he was used to. The smell was nice, though, full of gentle barely-there scents that didn't clear out his nose too harshly. By the time he'd finally stepped out and put on his clothing for the day, he felt something close enough to passably normal. He’d forgotten his comb at home and his toothbrush didn’t taste the same, but overall, an improvement.

Seokjin was stepping out of his door across the hall as soon as Jimin stepped out himself. It was a little before seven by that time, according to Jimin's phone. The omega was wrapped up in a thick fur and an obviously hand-knit scarf, pulling on a set of gloves when he looked up.

“Morning,” he offered, smiling softly. “Early riser?”

Jimin shrugged. “Just felt like starting my day.”

Seokjin nodded understandingly. “Want to come with me to the schoolhouse? The pups won’t come by until the sun’s a ways further up the sky, so it shouldn’t be too rambunctious just yet.”

And Jimin, not having much else to do, nodded. Jin linked their arms at that, and lead him down the hall. In his single sweater, Jimin felt a little underdressed.

“You’re lucky offering season is coming around,” Jin offers conversationally as they crunch through the snow. He drags them off in the direction of the dining hall, which Jimin makes a note of for directional purposes. “I’m sure you’ll have plenty of alphas offering you furs by the end of the week.”

Jimin blanches a little at that. “I don’t know if I want that,” he says hesitantly. “I’d like to make some friends first.”

Jin takes the arm wrapped around Jimin’s own and throws it over his shoulders to pull them closer together. “Well, you’ve got Hoseok and my little brat Taehyung,” he snorts. “And me, but well, I’m a much better friend than those two—,”

Jimin digs his elbow into the omega’s side playfully. “You know what I mean,” he laughs.

“Yeah, I do,” Jin says. They’re nearing closer and closer to the dining hall, leaving Jimin confused. They’d been going to work in the schoolroom and not in the kitchens, right? “But I just hope you’ll feel comfortable with us sooner rather than later. We’re your friends for—well, for forever, now.”

Jimin swallows thickly. It’s a little early for that kind of talk. “I’m here for you guys as well,” he says.

Jin pulls his arm back just enough to graze his own hand against Jimin’s scent gland. Jimin repeats the action in return, and can’t help but smile a little.

“Well let’s eat,” Seokjin says as they finally approach the doors. “We’re the earliest, but at least we’ll get the freshest food.”

Jimin, who had forgotten that breakfast was a meal in all of his days as a college student, holds open the door for the omega before they both trudge inside. There’s a scent of some kind of salted meat throughout the air, leaving Jimin’s mouth watering. He sighs in happiness on his exhale.

Seokjin heads straight to the counter where a sleepy-looking omega passes him what looks like two sandwiches—or maybe burritos—but something definitely portable. He’s laughing his tinny window-wiper laugh at Jimin. “Smells good, yeah?”

And it does. Jimin might love this place for the food above all else.

They dig straight in while they head for the building. It’s not far from the kitchens—directly diagonal from it, actually—but Jimin will definitely have to pass the dining hall each way to and from his den. The commute doesn’t bother him, but it is a bit more than what he would find if he took Taehyung’s position.

“It’s this one up here, with the red burn plate over the door,” Jin says, and they step inside together.

For how large the building is from the outside, the rooms seem impossibly bigger from the inside. Jimin’s starting to sense a theme of high ceilings and windows.

It's different though in that this building is surprisingly cluttered—with cubbies, tables and chairs, and carpets thrown all over with hardwood floors rarely peeking through. The entire building looks more handmade and neutral in color, but it’s not unfamiliar in comparison to the classrooms he would see at home. He knows immediately that he’ll be spending most of his time here.

“So what’s the age range that learns here?” He asks Seokjin as the omega unwraps his scarf from around his neck.

Seokjin laughs a little, breath fogging up just barely in front of his face before it dissipates into the warmer air. “All sorts of ages, but we mostly take pups from between seven and twelve.”

Jimin’s brows furrow—it seems a little late to start primary education, to him—but he doesn’t comment. “You should tell me a bit about your curriculum sometime,” he says instead.

“I’d love to!” The omega drapes his fur over the large wooden chair accompanying his desk at the back of the room. It looks like his entire setup is within something of an alcove, with drawings and dried flowers lining the walls. There’s a candle and a safety lighter sitting on the surface, to Jimin’s surprise.

Jimin nods as Seokjin begins digging through his drawers. He pulls a thick, slightly ripped and worn envelope from one of them and tosses it over his desk.


“Of course everything changes depending on materials and progress, but here’s a light outline.”

Well. That's easier than Jimin had expected.

Seokjin’s making himself busy though, rearranging books onto shelves and straightening out crooked rugs. Jimin offers to help but hears a negative sound that accompanies a jerky hand motion over the omega’s shoulder, so he takes the time to flip through the curriculum, reviewing learning objectives by age and comparing everything to his own educational experience.

Finally, when Seokjin has finished flitting around the entire room, he comes to sit down by Jimin. “So what are you thinking?” he asks, which takes Jimin off guard.

“About this?” He holds up the bound papers in gesture.

Seokjin nods, waiting patiently.

Jimin obviously hasn’t had much time to review anything—maybe fifteen minutes at most—but he feels like he can at least offer some pointers. “Well, I didn’t major in education—study how to teach, I mean—so I feel like my opinion is pretty useless from that aspect.”

“But what are you thinking? Is it similar? Different?” From the outside world? is left unsaid. Seokjin settles back into his chair, the early-morning sun now settling brightly over his shoulders.

Jimin feels slightly uncomfortable, but clears his throat. He can at least be honest. “I mean, aspects are missing. I don’t see any spots for maths beyond very basic algebra…”

Seokjin is looking at him very intently. Jimin shrugs.

“I don’t see much in terms of grammar, either,” Jimin offers. “But that stuff is a relatively useless skill set for the compound.”

Jin frowns. “Still, I’d like to—,” but there’s a soft knocking sound at the front of the building, “—Oh shit, those are probably the pups,” he stands up in a hurry, “Let me go bring them in.”

Jimin carefully remains in his seat while the omega throws open the door for a small herd of children to walk through, chattering together and occasionally giving Seokjin a high-five and a ‘good morning’ before they gradually settle into what must either be assigned or self-regulated seating. Some of them linger by bookshelves, though, with the littlest of them heading straight toward counting blocks.

Jimin, who loves children but admittedly has absolutely zero experience with them, sits with anxiety building until Jin gives him a pointed look and urges him to join in with the classroom. So he stands reluctantly and nervously walks over to a quiet-looking girl with a thick book already pulled onto her lap. She’s wearing glasses, which Jimin hasn’t seen so far in the compound and thinks is adorable.

“What’cha reading?” He asks conversationally.

Her head darts straight up. They make eye contact. “Vergil’s Aeneid,” she says pointedly. She looks to be about twelve.

“I see,” Jimin buffers. “Which section are you at?”

“Have you even read it?” She has an eyebrow raised dubiously. Jimin nearly shudders.

“I read it in Latin,” he offers. “In the original language.”

She closes the book. “I know it was written in Latin,” she says, like Jimin’s comment had been entirely insulting to her intellect. “Where are you from?”

Jimin bristles. He looks to Seokjin, who’s very busy tying a much younger pup’s fur but makes time to look at Jimin with a smirk that very clearly says he had walked up to the wrong kid. “Outside the compound,” he admits when he looks back at her. “Keep it a secret?”

“Everyone knows,” she points out.

Jimin feels his own lips press into a thin, nervous line.

The little pup shrugs her shoulders though. “I won’t say anything if you braid my hair,” she tells him. Jimin feels very insulted.

“One or two braids?” He says instead.

 

 

The one good thing about running around and playing with kids all day—aside from the exercise and experience he surely needs—is that he can finally relax. Taehyung isn’t around to tease him, and the alpha Taehyung would tease him about isn’t around either. So by comparison, braiding pigtails for the fifth time that day isn’t so bad.

By the time lessons and breaks are over around lunch hour, Seokjin pulls out two cold wraps instead of dragging Jimin to the dining room. “I wasn’t sure if you were going to be here,” Seokjin admits, “But I thought I’d pack just in case."

“Thank you,” Jimin says, and accepts the offer gratefully. He’s starving, even if the stress of new interactions has him feeling a bit nauseous. “I’m honestly starved.”

Seokjin nods. “Your appetite will spike if you take your shifts here,” he says honestly. “How do you like it so far?”

Jimin, who honestly isn’t sure if he wants to keep teaching children as his “shift” duty, wrings his hands back and forth. “I’m not sure yet. I don’t have any experience with kids.”

Seokjin takes a fierce bite and mulls over thoughtfully. “No offense,” he starts, which has Jimin bracing himself, “but is that why you’re so awkward with the pups?”

It takes him a minute, but the jibe finally catches up and Jimin laughs outright. “I guess I haven’t fooled anyone.” A quick bite tells him that the bread of the wrap is thick, not unlike a pita. It’s pretty good.

Seokjin snorts. “Not exactly. That’s not bad, though. I’d like it if someone could teach who didn’t know everything about everyone in this place.”

“Isn’t it better if the education is individualized?”

“Not at all,” Jin contradicts. “Equal treatment and equal teaching are the foundation for equal learning.”

So Jimin mulls over that one and finds that it makes sense. “I guess that approach could work for a group this small,” he admits tentatively. “How many children are there exactly?”

“Just over sixty this year,” says Jin. “We have about ten in each age range.”

Jimin looks around the room. There hadn’t been that many pups in the room earlier. “Where were the rest?”

Seokjin snorts. “They come in the afternoon.”

Jimin can feel his entire face pale while Jin cackles at him.

“I’m not letting you stay for that shift, it won’t start for a while.” The omega closes up the container he’d brought their food in and stores it away into his bag. “I’d only ask you to help for half-days, anyways—probably afternoons, because that’s the bigger shift.”

Jimin thinks it would be nice to have free mornings. “That sounds a lot more manageable.”

“Oh, it is—you’d think afternoons would be harder, but damn—,” But there’s a knocking at the door. Seokjin, brows furrowed, stands and crosses the room before Jimin can say anything.

He checks through the seam of the wood before throwing open the door with a surprising amount of strength. “You’re early,” mumbles Jin before it's open entirely.

Jimin sighs to himself and prepares to braid some hair.

“Yoongi!” Jimin freezes. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you still be in the shop?”

Jimin thinks vaguely that he hadn’t mentally prepared himself for this yet. He debates diving behind Seokjin’s desk, but the alpha would probably be able to smell him.

Instead he carefully rearranges his hair and tries to look busy while listening intently to the soft rumbling from the doorway at the other end of the room. He can’t hear any of the words being exchanged, but the tone has his muscles tensing up nonetheless. Their conversation continues for a bit until Jin finally says something like “Well, come in then,” and Jimin entertains grabbing a book—until he can only see children’s books, and realizes that he might hold it upside down by accident like something out of a movie.

He can’t look at Yoongi’s face yet, but he does see that head of black hair and a dark grey sweater over worn jeans. He’s wearing sturdy leather boots, too—they might even be steel-toed. He’s the only alpha Jimin has seen who isn’t wearing his own furs. He wonders what that might mean, considering that Jimin knows furs are seen as something of a status symbol.

“I wanted to talk about your orders before I start other projects,” the alpha says levelly. Jimin’s ears are trained to the frequency of the rasp in his voice. “How were the pups?”

“Pretty good,” Seokjin says cheerfully. “I’ve had Jiminie to help me this morning, so things were smooth-sailing.”

Jimin’s entire body had tensed up the moment Jin had even started the first syllable of his name. He’d been hoping the alpha wouldn’t realize his presence, but that hope is likely gone now.

Yoongi takes a sharp breath at the mention of him, eyes widening. Jimin’s not sure if he’s looking in his peripheral or if Jimin’s smell has caught up to his nose, but he can tell when the alpha turns to look straight at him. That’s if the hair standing on the back of his neck has anything to do with it, anyways.

“I asked Yoongi about how much it would cost me to get a second desk put in if you wanted to take your shifts here,” Seokjin fills in thoughtfully.

“Oh, that’s not—,” Jimin tries to think of the right word, but can’t come up with it.

“—Necessary?” Jin has one eyebrow raised. Jimin nods. “Of course it would be. I’m just asking after it, anyways.”

“It shouldn’t be too difficult,” the alpha suggests. “Where were you thinking?”

Jimin almost thinks Yoongi is asking him, but it turns out the alpha is still just looking over Jimin. “I was thinking next to mine, on the other side of the nook,” supplies Jin. “Right where you’re sitting, actually, Jimin.”

The alpha nods, and begins to pull out a measuring tape from his back pocket. Jimin is ready to get up and out of his seat, weak knees and all, but Seokjin waves him against it.

“You’re fine, I want it in front of you a ways. Will you take another look the curriculum? I have a pencil for you to make notes in my top drawer.”

Relieved to have something to do, Jimin reaches into the appropriate drawers immediately. He’s confident in his ability to at least look focused while the alpha is so close to him. He’ll just be focused on not breathing.

He's flipping through pages when the steady slip of Yoongi’s leather boots against the carpet louden up next to him. Jimin can hear the sound of the tape being pulled and contracted while the alpha takes measurements, first of Seokjin’s desk beside him and then of the space on his other side.

Yoongi is keeping up short responses to Jin’s questions about the chair order, and while Jimin processes each slur and dip in his speech with agonizing detail, his brain is too sluggish to put the words together. He occasionally dips his pencil against the paper and underlines bold content just to seem like he’s actually processing the material in front of him.

But then there’s a comment that’s definitely directed at him, which makes Jimin lose his shit inside.

“What? Sorry?” He puts his pencil down on Seokjin’s desk.

Yoongi’s looking straight at him, eyes dark while Jin smiles and says, “Anything specific you’d want in a desk, sweetie?”

Jimin shakes his head.

“Alright, then. You can head on out early then—I’m sure Taehyung’s looking to drag you around the den by now.” He snorts. “Don’t keep him waiting long, okay? You can take those papers with you. Give me your notes by tomorrow, if you can.”

Jimin prays to unfamiliar deities while he packs the papers away as quickly as he can. “I’ll finish everything up,” he promises. And then, out of politeness, “Thank you for letting me come by today.”

He turns to the alpha then. The scent clouds thick in his nose, but before he nearly runs out of the room, he barely manages a small, “Thank you for yesterday.”

Another sharp intake. “I have your designs drafted,” the alpha says lowly.

Jimin’s eyes widen before he can keep his own expression controlled. Thankfully he isn’t making eye contact, or he might’ve let out a squeak. “So I should come by soon then?”

“Whenever is convenient. I’m cutting this afternoon, but I’ll be fairly free after the fifth sun.”

Jimin nods into the shoulder of his own sweater. “I’ll drop by on Thursday then,” he promises, and curses himself when the words flow freely.

There’s a sound—a growl, maybe, like Jimin had read about, but definitely softer. After a moment he realizes that it’s a sound of content coming from the alpha. Jimin’s body curls in a little at that.

He steps behind out of immediate smelling range behind Seokjin. “I’ll see you both tomorrow," he says.

Jimin has to actually focus on walking straight when there’s an alpha looking at his back. He tries not to turn around when he closes the house of the school door behind him, and refuses to look back for even a second on his way back to the den.

Chapter Text

Taehyung is sitting on Jimin’s bed when he finally enters his own den.

That’s a startling sight, even if Jimin has just been surprised with alpha Min Yoongi, and it has him jumping back a little. Taehyung has Jimin’s laptop out and propped open in front of him on the mattress.

“What’s your password?” Taehyung asks, peeking around the screen. “I’ve been popping these bubbles behind the password bar for like twenty minutes.”

Jimin snorts at the idea of Taehyung being so bored as to play with his screensaver. “No way,” he says, tossing the envelope in his hands gently on top of his suitcase. “All of my research is in there. What if you deleted something on accident?”

“How is there research in here?” Taehyung lifts the computer up in its entirety. Jimin can see that where is hands are gripping the base, he’s accidentally pressing down on the mousepad and clicking over more bubbles. “It’s so tiny in comparison to the other computers I’ve seen. And the keyboard is attached.”

“I don’t really know,” Jimin says honestly. “I just bought it at the store.”

Immediately, the omega’s eyes brighten up. “Tell me all about them,” he says animatedly.

“Stores?” Jimin kicks off his boots.

Yes,” Taehyung breathes. He shuts Jimin’s laptop and sets it gently back onto the floor beside the mattress. “I’ve heard so much about them but they have to be so much more different from the market.”

Like a lightbulb flashing, Jimin suddenly knows how to frame this interaction to his benefit.

“Tell me about the market first,” Jimin says. “Then I can tell you everything about stores. I can show you some online ones, too.”

Taehyung leans back, eyes narrowed in confusion. “The market? Why do you want to know about that? You can just go, you know.”

Jimin shrugs. “I like to know about things before I do them. Makes me less nervous.”

“Sounds boring.” Taehyung shrugs. “Just let me know what you’re needing these next few days. We can go together and I’ll talk down the prices and do all the work for you.”

That sounds even better for Jimin. “Deal,” he says. “What kinds of stores do you want to hear about?”

“All of them,” says Taehyung. Jimin sighs and crosses the room to his bed.

 

Surprisingly, Jimin finds that he isn't needing anything.

Aside from furniture to contain what he needs, he finds that everything he could want is made readily available to him in his new home. It's an incredibly welcoming experience—each time Jimin mentions that he'd forgotten something or needs to purchase something, he finds it in his room or at his work, making Taehyung’s offer regarding the marketplace fairly useless. He hadn't noticed the pattern before, but he appreciates that the few people who know him are making the effort to show they care.

"Your hair looks different," Hoseok had mentioned to him just a few days after Jimin had first come to compound.

Jimin had run his hands through his hair self-consciously. He felt silly, sitting in the dining hall at breakfast without his hair completely combed. "It's a little tangled," he had admitted, laughing through his own embarrassment. "I forgot my comb at home.”

The omega's eyes crinkled in response as he laughed outright at Jimin's stupidity. In his peripheral vision, Jimin could see Taehyung and Jeongguk snorting while even Yoongi might have been hinting at a smirk. "You're still so cute, though," Hoseok had managed. "You're just a little... fluffy."

Fluffy, Jimin had thought bitterly. The word had been stuck on his mind all day until he'd come home after lunch to see a gorgeous wooden comb engraved with red and indigo fish coiling across the upper band. Happiness and flattery had coiled up immediately inside his stomach; he'd made a note to thank Hoseok as soon as possible.

And that continued to happen as Jimin found need for more and more specific items. A pocket knife, for example, was never an item he'd had to carry before. But Seokjin had scolded him (with a very happy tone, during the middle of a very long hug, which made the whole thing very ineffective) for not having one to help around the schoolhouse. Again, when he'd come home that evening, the head omega had found a way to put one on his bed before he'd come home.

The whole thing was so sweet—omegas really seemed to care for each other, even with the things Jimin didn't need. By the next afternoon Jimin had additional blankets, dried flowers (the compound's ideal substitute for candles, which were apparently rarely used indoors), and a few other luxuries that made Jimin's apartment feel very lived-in and overall much more bearable to transition. By the time Wednesday had come, Jimin had felt like he’d had everything he needed. Instead of coming home to an empty space, he felt almost like he came home to a nice hotel room—an amazing way to keep himself from letting out any of the tears he might've had left. Overall, his quality of life improved dramatically—even during the temporary stale pause in his excitement surrounding a certain alpha.

He wanted to thank them all in some sort of extravagant way, but eventually just ends up showing gratitude in the only way he knows how.

"Thank you so much," he says, because he really can't think of a better way to express how much the help means to him.

Seokjin looks up from a stack of papers he'd been grading, squinting at Jimin dubiously. They'd both decided to stay an extra two hours and grade until dinner, which has clearly given the omega a massive headache if his confused glare is anything to go by. Jimin can relate, sitting across from the omega on the other side of the single desk with his own stack of worksheets.

The red pen twitches in his hand. "For what?" Seokjin asks, eyebrows lowered together in confusion.

"The knife," Jimin laughs. "And whatever else might have been from you—I've been getting so many gifts lately."

The pen is set down. "What?" Seokjin looks bewildered.

"The pocket knife!" Jimin waves his free hand—the one not holding his own red pen—in front of Seokjin's face, wondering where his mind might be. "Are you okay? I think you've been grading too long," Jimin jokes.

Seokjin just repeats, "What?" And then: "What knife? I didn't give you a knife."

And that has Jimin confused. For good measure, he puts his pen down against the desk and reaches into the pocket of his jeans. He reaches his arm all the way out and puts it face-up on the side of his desk closest to the teacher's, letting the pretty decorative face show. "You didn't give me this?"

"No," Seokjin says, sounding almost repulsed. "Why would I?"

Jimin recoils a bit. "It showed up after you told me to get one!" He says defensively.

Seokjin just looks at Jimin in a mixture of confusion and reluctance. "You know I'm the Head Omega of this compound, right?"

"Of course!" Jimin throws his hands up, exasperated.

"The Head Omega of this compound," Jin says slowly, emphasis over each syllable.

"Do omegas not give gifts or something?" Jimin demands, flustered.

"Not to each other!" Jin shouts, equally flustered. He looks like a ruffled bird, with his hair messed up and shoulders tensed. Jimin thinks that if he had feathers, they'd be spaced out and ready for a fight. "I'm the intended of our compound's alpha! The last time I gave a gift was before we made our announcement!"

Oh.

Jimin leans back in his seat. "Well then who gave it to me?" He says glumly.

"An alpha who must be interested in you!" Seokjin sounds incredulous. "Why are you sad? I think you've set a record—I've never seen an alpha declare intent so quickly."

Jimin ignores the words "declare intent"—they give him a weird icky feeling, like possession. "I don't want an alpha," Jimin admits honestly. Jin looks ready to blow a gasket at that, so he amends, "Not right now. I just want friends, first."

It feels like a little bit of hurt, honestly. He feels like the familial care he'd bought into has been ripped away from him, in a sense. Seokjin and Hoseok aren't looking out for him in the way he'd thought they were.

"Oh," Seokjin says softly. "I didn't realize this would be a thing betas do."

Jimin nods. "Family members exchange gifts a lot," he says. That has the omega's nose crinkling.

"It's definitely more of a romantic thing here," Jin admits. "It's not that we aren't close, though. Omegas just cuddle instead."

Jimin really doesn't know if he wants his room to be entirely furnished with gifts from some alpha. "Are you sure someone else wouldn't have known about my culture and done it to make me feel welcome?"

Jin's lips narrow into a thin line. "I suppose it's possible," he manages, looking very unsettled. "But I'd feel weird doing it, and I'm pretty accepting. What else did you get?"

Jimin leans back. "A comb, some blankets—,"

"—Alpha," the omega declares, one-hundred percent serious. "Any omega who got their hands on a blanket would keep it for their own den."

Jimin pales. It sounds too true, even for him personally, to think otherwise.

"And I'm pretty sure I could guess who it is," Seokjin continues, smirking. "But in reality, you're pretty cute, so I'd be shocked if other alphas weren't having their omegean friends smuggle gifts into your den. Alphas tend to try and woo pretty omegas earlier over later.”

"Tell me." Jimin's leaning forward, but collapses as the omega shakes his head in secrecy. "How do I know who it is, then?"

Jin can't keep the mirth out of his expression as he leans forward impossibly farther. "Who do you want it to be?"

Jimin nearly shivers at the phantom scent of the alpha Min Yoongi tickling his nose. He feels his face heating up.

Seokjin laughs, tiny window-wiping sounds, as he picks up his pen yet again for grading.

 

 

In the end, Jimin feels the need to ask Hoseok. Just in case. So he stops by Yoongi's shop with a fake question about his furniture order prepared just in case the alpha is in. It’s not yet Thursday, so the alpha should be out cutting wood or whatever it is he does. Thankfully, he’s gone after all, leaving Jimin to ask his omega assistant openly.

"No offense Jiminie, but ew," Hoseok says, leaning back. "I like you tons, but just ask for a hug next time."

Jimin is very confused by the constant insinuation that omegas need to share physical affection with each other, but he's the one who grew up without it, so he lets that one go. "I guess," Jimin says, frowning. "Seokjin told me it's an alpha, but well."

Hoseok looks up from where he's sanding the top of what Jimin can tell will be an ornate end table. His brows are furrowed. "What's wrong with that?"

"It's weird to have my room be full of some alpha's stuff," he admits, muttering the words.

Hoseok straightens up, pulling off his work gloves, and mulls over Jimin's words for a moment before responding. "I don't think you should worry about it too much," the omega admits. "Lots of omegas have gifts from multiple alphas. All alphas give gifts, sometimes just as friends. Yoongi gave me a dresser when I moved into the den."

"Really?" Jimin's eyebrows shoot up. He's not sure if he feels relieved or disappointed knowing that Yoongi might want to be friends, if Yoongi had given everything in the first place. He thinks he might feel both.

Hoseok nods. "You don't owe this alpha anything either—and I know some omegas like to feel that way, but everyone has to become friends eventually, even after a rejection. There are only so many of us."

"Do omegas reject alphas often?" Not that Jimin has decided on anything, if there's some small possibility that everything really had been from Yoongi after all.

Hoseok smiles knowingly. "Do you really want to reject this alpha?"

And like that, a lightbulb goes off—Jimin might have come straight to the omega who put the gifts on his bed in the first place. He feels incredibly embarrassed.

"Is it really..." He pulls his sweater tighter around his body. "Have you been putting those into my room?"

Hoseok shrugs, smirking. Jimin exhales, hoping the blood will flow out of his cheeks and back through the rest of his body.

"Do you think that—that whoever this alpha is," Jimin says carefully, shifting awkwardly when Hoseok tries and fails to hold back a laugh, "Do you think he might expect something of me?"

"No," Hoseok answers airily. "But he might be hoping."

Jimin flushes, swallows heavily, and nods awkwardly before tearing out of there with the omega laughing at him from behind the entire time.

 

 

Thursday rolls around, and Jimin finds himself back in the shop after helping out with the morning shift. He’d paced for a long while after skipping lunch out of nervousness, not even hungry after teaching the older kids how to do long division all day. Seokjin had praised him for his first round of actual teaching, but Jimin couldn’t really focus beyond the kids themselves. Yoongi's expecting him to come by, after all.

The end effect probably isn’t the best—he feels nauseous and has terrible brain fog, but he can’t really find it in himself to do anything about it before he heads out in his boots and go-to cardigan. He dreads the whole walk there, mulling over what-ifs that are definitely unlikely, but he resigns himself to being content with the fact that at least the conversation is already set to the topic of Jimin’s furniture.

The door of the cabin to Yoongi’s shop is heavy with snow at the bottom, forcing Jimin to pull with a surprising amount of force and strength in his feet.

Warmth hits him from the second the door is open. He hops straight inside to let the door fall heavily behind him and stomps his boots against the welcome mat before adjusting his hair.

“Jiminie!” It’s Hoseok calling him from behind the front desk. There are significantly less chairs strewn about the front room, meaning Jimin can cross straight over in front of the fireplace.

“Hi,” he says, smiling nervously. He’d seen Hoseok just last night, but the previous conversation leaves him feeling a bit awkward.

The omega’s expression looks reassuring enough, though. In fact, he’s already packing together his own bag. “Normally I’d be showing you the designs, but I’m heading out early tonight to prep for my performance,” he says. “Yoongi will be right out to go over whatever he came up with.”

Jimin shivers a little. “Okay,” he says, sounding much more confident than he feels. “Good luck with your work.”

Hoseok laughs. “I’m excited for it. Are you coming?”

Jimin shrugs. “I’m not really sure how I’m feeling yet, but if my stomach is up for it, I’ll definitely be there,” he hedges. In reality, he knows that Taehyung will probably drag him, but he’s setting up his own excuse in case he’s really not feeling like it.

Hoseok smiles, large with lots of teeth on display. “Sounds good. I’ll head out then. Yoongi should be right up.”

He reaches over to rap twice on the wooden door separating the front room from the back space. “He’ll come out here,” the omega informs him. “So feel free to sit tight.”

Jimin nods and thanks Hoseok, who bundles up into a nice set of furs (belonging to which alpha, Jimin has no idea—he has seen the omega in at least three different coats even during his short time on the compound) and heads out the door. Just as the bell rings and the wood of the front door latches back into its frame, the doorknob behind him from the workroom twists and Yoongi steps out into the open space.

With them being the only two in the room, Jimin is reminded of how tall the alpha really is and how intimidating his presence is, even while his own heart is simultaneously caught in his throat and weighing down his stomach. He catches a brief look at Yoongi’s expression—tense, with jaw clenched, but not angry—and that at least helps Jimin relax a bit.

“How has your day been?” Jimin offers in greeting. He’s very proud of himself; there’s minimal stuttering and he doesn’t quite make eye contact, but he does look up at the stitched ‘v’ of the alpha’s thermal.

Yoongi stops in place, a bit, like he hadn’t been expecting the greeting. “Productive,” he offers lowly, and taps his knuckles against the door behind him. “You can come on back,” he continues. “I have fabrics and designs back here.”

Like that, all of Jimin’s confidence is sapped. His body is way too tense at the idea of being in a back room alone with the alpha.

“Okay,” he says weakly.

The alpha holds the door open for Jimin, lingering in the doorway with one arm outstretched to hold the door in place. This means that Jimin has to walk directly past him, in extremely close proximity, which exposes him to both Yoongi’s scent and overall presence. He might stop breathing when he brushes past the alpha into the work room, but it doesn’t help to lessen the heady rush any. It forces him to confront both the sheer size difference and the way Yoongi’s long sleeve fits well over his torso.

He's pretty sure he might hear an inhale from the alpha, too, but he can’t really afford to think on the sound of it and maintain his sanity.

Once they’re both in the open space, though, Yoongi gives him the space he needs and walks directly over to his workbench. It’s at this time that Jimin notices all of the fabrics posted above. They’re not in perfectly-stitched swatches like he’s used to, but instead neatly folded and tacked to what looks like several pieces of cork. Different fabrics are placed together in groups, as well—maybe for other orders?

Wordlessly, the alpha reaches into one of the drawers directly beneath his workbench. It’s full of hammers and mallets, one or two even needing repairs, to which Yoongi utters a quick curse and opens its neighbor, full of several sheets of gridded paper.

“Seokjin forwarded the layout of your apartment to me.” He pulls down several cork squares from where they’re set on shelves against the wall. Jimin watches the flexing of the tendons in his hands and tries not to focus on it too much. “I have a good idea of sizes for everything based on that.”

Jimin nods. “I hope it wasn’t too much of a rush for you,” he offers.

“It wasn’t.” The alpha pauses. “I’d had them done for a while.”

And that has Jimin a little confused. “Should I have come by earlier?”

He's looking at Jimin with an expression that’s simultaneously open and intimidating. “I didn’t want to completely forget about the other orders.”

Jimin’s not going to let himself read into that too much—to dare to think that Yoongi might have been distracted from his work by him—so he wraps both arms around his middle and tries to fight down his blush. He’s looking down again.

“Well I appreciate it,” Jimin offers. “Thank you.”

Yoongi makes a sound of acknowledgment and shifts the papers of his designs so that Jimin can see them better. He thinks that the tips of the alpha’s ears might be a bit red, but he can’t question that too long either.

“You can flip through these and tell me if there’s anything you don’t like or don’t need,” he rumbles. His tone is almost gruff—Jimin wonders again if he might be just a bit embarrassed.

In looking, though, the sketches seem to be everything he needs. There’s enough detail in each piece so that it feels homey, but not so ornate that he’ll feel out of place. The legs of chairs and tables have a bit of curvature but nothing too extravagant, and overall, everything looks simple. He does notice, though, that Yoongi’s added a chest into his set.

“For blankets and furs you’ll receive,” Yoongi explains. His voice is just close enough to Jimin’s ear that he can feel the intimacy of the comment.

Jimin wants to say that he doubts he’ll be receiving any furs. However, he’s tongue-tied again, so he flushes and passes the designs back. It would have been a perfect time to mention the throws and other gifts Yoongi may or may not have given him, but Jimin just ultimately doesn’t have the guts to spin the conversation like that.

“Everything looks amazing,” he says. There’s a light stutter, but overall Jimin finds it much easier to discuss things that aren’t directly related to the alpha or to any romantic intent. “I don’t have any complaints, that’s for sure.”

Yoongi shifts his weight a little, opening up his front more directly towards Jimin. “What are you thinking for fabrics? I can give a swatch to one of the seamstresses. For cushions, or curtains.”

“I’m okay without curtains.” Jimin wrinkles his nose a little. “Anything basic will be fine. These greys look nice,” he admits, running his fingers over one of the squares in front of him. The fabric feels nice and velvety, but short and stiff enough that it’ll be easy for cleaning.

“You like simple things.” It’s not a question. The alpha writes a note or two in the margins of his designs and then stacks each of the papers together.

Jimin nods sheepishly. “It feels more comfortable that way.”

But Yoongi just nods, making eye contact with him, and Jimin shifts a little. He wonders if it must be time to go, then, with the way the alpha is sorting his sketches into the drawer beneath his bench. He adjusts his cardigan back around himself as Yoongi starts to replace the fabric swatches on their shelves. Jimin wants to ask about the gifts, but can’t find a way to bring it up, and he’s just about given up and ready to excuse himself.

“Well I guess I’ll get going then,” he says, and gives a polite smile.

“I’ll start on your order and get each piece out as quickly as possible,” Yoongi promises. He’s looking at Jimin heavily again. “I’ll bring each essential piece by as it’s done, starting with the bed frame.”

Jimin nods. “Thanks again,” he says sincerely.

Yoongi pauses in a way that seems to have definite intent. He looks down at Jimin to make that same heavy eye contact—the angle has a weight to it, and makes Jimin aware of how close they are.

Suddenly: “How have things been so far? Are you comfortable?”

Smartly, Jimin nearly chokes on air. It almost seems uncharacteristic, with the alpha making small talk. He tries to ask himself the question a couple of times, so that he can at least give a reasonable answer. “It’s been good,” he finally manages—looking the alpha in the eye is so difficult— “I have my shift kind of under control now, and I’ve, well, been getting a lot of help lately, so I have the things I need. And then some.”

He wants to cringe openly at himself. Not exactly the smoothest way to lead in.

Yoongi grips onto the edge of his workbench and shifts his weight a little bit. Jimin can’t help but look at the way his hand rests over the wood; he feels an unexpected clenching of warmth in his stomach, which shocks him. He hopes his give in expression won’t throw the conversation.

Miraculously, it seems like fate is on his side and the moment has escaped the alpha’s notice. With the way he’s always so attentive, Jimin must be lucky.

But instead of replying, he asks in a low tone, “Will I see you at the festival?”

And oh—that would be the day after tomorrow. Jimin hadn’t placed it in a timeline. He still hasn’t given any concrete responses out, either, so he has the ability to pull back and give a so-so response. But even then; “I think so. I’m going; it’s pretty important, right?”

The alpha shrugs, head tilting and lips curving into a “meh” response. Jimin thinks it’s pretty cute.

“I’ll be there,” Yoongi says. “I won’t be there for the performances, but we might run into each other afterward.”

Jimin nods, takes in a shaky breath. He has a lot of questions; what are these performances, how can he make sure Yoongi will find him, what he can expect—but he ends up offering a shy acknowledgement and a, “Well, I’ll see you there,” which unfortunately closes their conversation sooner than Jimin would have liked, but definitely gives him the opportunity for some necessary breathing room.

It ends all too soon, with the alpha returning his personal space and walking Jimin to the door.

“Can I walk you home?” Yoongi offers. When Jimin turns around too quickly, the alpha rests one hand securely at the small of his back.

Jimin thinks his knees might give. Even more intense is the feeling of knowing Yoongi will support his weight if he does.

Yes! he wants to say, but instead smiles politely and shakes his head. “I’ll be okay,” he says. “It’s pretty close, so I’ll get there before the sun sets completely.”

Yoongi’s lips press into a slightly thinner line, but he nods anyways. “Be safe.”

Jimin nods and averts his eyes shyly. “I will.” He can’t help but linger on the alpha’s presence, even looking back to his eyes once before finally turning around. It’s the best he can offer with all of the adrenaline in his system.

The walk home doesn’t even feel cold. The thick layer of snow crunches under his boots but the chill won’t sneak into the sleeves of his sweater while he’s still excited, and even stressed, processing his ups and downs in the exchange. He notices the fog of his breath before he finally realizes that the alpha had never said anything about the gifts—which leaves Jimin confused, but also frustrated in the best way.

Chapter Text

The fact of the matter is that Jimin has no idea what the festival is. The difficulty is obtaining this information without actively disclosing his reason behind attending.

“Yoongi asked if I was going to the festival and I said yes,” he blurts, right out loud.

Taehyung looks up from the screen of Jimin’s computer, which he’d finally been given the password to. He’d been having a field day with the topic of eBay, and looks relatively unconcerned.

“And? You weren’t already going?” he asks.

Jimin shifts on his mattress. “Well, I hadn’t really decided,” he hedges.

“Oh.” Taehyung looks back at the screen. Clicks once or twice. “I thought you were going but wanted an excuse in case you panicked.”

Jimin stiffens. He’s about ready to defend himself, but Taehyung shrugs.

“Nobody cares. It’s a pretty big change,” is all Taehyung says. "I'd be nervous, too."

Jimin doesn’t want to let that comment turn into a discussion about the outer beta environment. “How should I act? What happens there?”

In continued calm, Taehyung shrugs and reaches for a piece of the dried plum he’d brought down in a basket for them to share. “It’s really nothing special. It happens twice a month. Everybody just dresses up and gets drunk, mostly.”

Jimin squints his eyes. “’Dresses up’?”

Taehyung’s eyes shift to Jimin. The omega looks him up and down slowly, like he’s analyzing Jimin for potential weaknesses. “You don’t need to do much. You’re cute. Do you have any smudging?”

“Any what?

Smudging,” Taehyung rolls his eyes while chewing, “Black stuff. For eyes.”

Jimin looks at him blankly for a solid ten seconds where neither of them move aside from the flexing of Taehyung’s jaw. Jimin tries to think any instance in which black stuff would be put in the eye. In which black stuff would go on the eye. In which “smudging,” black stuff, would go—and then he understands.

“Makeup? Like eyeliner?”

Taehyung looks at him blankly.

Jimin takes his computer back before Taehyung can whine weakly in protest—he’s been looking up old VCRs—and quickly searches “kohl” knowing that what the compound uses is likely similar. He spins the computer around. “This stuff?”

Taehyung snaps his fingers and brings them to his chin. “That’s the stuff.”

Jimin takes note. “I don’t have any,” he admits. “Should I get some?”

Taehyung shakes his head. “I have a lot of extra. People always give it to me because they think it will look good, but it doesn’t. My eyes are too big so I look weird.”

Jimin shrugs. “Then why should I use it?”

“It’ll look good,” Taehyung murmurs, taking back Jimin’s computer. He can see the omega type “Amazon” into the webpage tab. “You can wear your regular clothing this way. Don’t bring a jacket.”

“Why not?”

Taehyung pauses. “There’s a bonfire,” he says. “It gets hot.”

Jimin is dubious as to the actuality of this so-called bonfire.

“Okay,” he says doubtfully. “If I get cold, I’m coming back to change.”

“You won’t,” Taehyung promises.

Jimin shrugs.

 

Taehyung whistles. “Shit, Jimin. I didn’t think you’d actually do it.”

Jimin hits Taehyung’s arm slightly less forcefully than he would’ve liked. “Should I wash it off?” He hisses, dragging Taehyung in close so that no one else can hear the exchange.

“No!” It’s Seokjin who shouts the word, exiting the front door of the den in a flurry of what must be Namjoon’s furs. They’re long and regal, nearly brushing his knees in a coat of what looks like a very high-maintenance white. Jimin shudders at the thought of bleaching furs so often just to keep them from yellowing; he doesn’t know how the omega can manage an entire coat of it.

“It looks good,” Taehyung grins, tackling Jimin with an arm over the shoulder. He begins to drag the two like that; Jimin finds he doesn’t mind the physical contact as much as he should. They end up walking side by side a far ways behind a large crowd that already turns into the path where Jimin would normally walk to the schoolhouse.

“Where are we heading?” Jimin asks, brushing his hand over the fur of Taehyung’s—furs? “Who did you get these from?!”

Taehyung snorts. “Jeongguk—I’ll probably meet up with him tonight,” he says quickly, and then, “We’re going to the fire pit. It’s just after the schoolhouse, kind of behind the kitchens but near the elders’ dens.”

Jimin nearly stops in his tracks—stutters, in fact, but keeps walking, because he’s pretty sure that they must be very late considering how far ahead everyone else is. “You’re with Jeongguk? Namjoon’s little brother?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty weird with Jin and Namjoon and all,” Taehyung admits. He groans. “The elders won’t let us mate until Jeonggukie’s fully matured because of it.”

Jimin’s has no idea what the elders are really thinking, but he’s personally more concerned about Taehyung’s personality than he would be about his alpha’s. Taehyung seems like the more wild of the two, according to what Jimin has seen—but Jeongguk has only showed a shy and sweet side to Jimin.

“I can’t believe you two are intended.” Jimin feels his eyebrows scrunch up.

“I like younger men.” Taehyung shrugs.

Jimin nearly chokes on his own spit at that one, but then resigns to shaking his head and moving his boots along through the snow.

By the time he and Taehyung arrive, the performance is nearly starting. Jimin's etiquette tells him to take a seat at the back of all of the wooden benches that sit before the makeshift stage and fire pit, but Taehyung drags him straight through the crowd where Seokjin has saved seats for the both of them. "Taehyung is always late," Jin murmurs as Jimin sits down beside him. "It's like tradition. Don't mind him."

So Jimin does his best to relax, even if he is right next to the head omega who is wearing some very obviously important furs of status. Focusing on the set up seems to do the trick; a large stage has been set up behind the pit itself, although there are only a good few feet from from bench to stage. The elders' den serves as a great backdrop even farther back; the candles have been lit in their holders mounted against the den, and they flicker faintly when breeze stirs. Seokjin grumbles about it at one point, says something about killing Namjoon if he didn't have the backup electric lights prepared, but Jimin thinks it's kind of soothing. Aside from that, there are dark red scarves hanging from the lattice above their heads, with tea lights hanging just a couple of feet from the ground on very thin clear strings. Those too sway every time the wind picks up.

"Hoseok's gonna have a hard time," Taehyung mutters.

So Hoseok was performing after all. "What's he going to do?" Jimin asks, but the omega grins at him.

"You'll see," is all Taehyung says. Jimin groans, but it's not much longer before three alphas come to spread incense at the base of the stage. Jimin tries not to cough, focusing by taking in more of the set-up and noticing that there are other benches on both the right and left, but they’re empty in order to see the performance.

Maybe a minute later, when Jimin's eyes are watering, music starts to vent from the speakers surrounding the sage. A quick look around reveals a total of six in a sort of surround system—he's surprised at the quality of the audio considering how the music is being played outside. He supposes that limited technology yields quantity where it counts. Just a few seconds pass, and he's surprised again when Hoseok steps up onto the back of the stage. Jimin recognizes his posture immediately.

"He's dancing?" He nudges at Taehyung and whispers on, "I want to do this next time."

The omega looks back at him as if he's surprised, but Jimin shrugs. He's used to being stereotyped—especially as too shy to dance.

Hoseok is legitimately mesmerizing, though; he transforms from the absolute goofball Jimin likes into someone decidedly sexy—there's no part of Jimin that's interested in him as an omega, of course, but he thinks that if Hoseok had a knot he'd be interested. The dancer is all grace, body seeming to snap to each beat. His clothing helps, too; dark blue fabric wraps tightly over the top of his body to expose his stomach and arms, while loose pants warp to his legs as the limbs snap out and back. It's not a style of dance Jimin is very familiar with, even as a contemporary dancer—there are a lot of elements from belly dancing, and the overall effect is definitely foreign in comparison to what Jimin knows. He definitely wants to learn though—watching the omega's toned and tan limbs strike out and pull back is more inspiring than all of his years training for competition.

It's not until the song has reached its climax twice that Jimin realizes the purpose of the dance; Hoseok is manipulating and avoiding the candles just so. He'll curve his hip around one as the wind picks up, and pluck the strings of others to make them dance together. The power involved in the performance is frightening; it has Jimin leaning forward in his seat.

He thinks that if he can do this, can perform, then he can live life in the compound with a creative outlet.

The song finishes too soon; Jimin feels emotion swelling up when the music drifts off, but then as Hoseok bows, three more dancers come up to dance together. It's not as polished, of course, but it gives Jimin a bridge to calm back down from the performance.

"That was so good. I think I died," he whispers when the second song dies down. Seokjin chokes and wheezes.

Taehyung gives him a weird look. "You dance?"

"I majored in dance," he says, but Taehyung still seems confused. Jimin sighs. No sense in explaining his double-major with psychology. "I studied it in college."

"Huh," is all the omega says. "Well, it's the alpha's performance, now. This is my favorite part!"

Jimin does his best to watch all of the tricks on display, but he's busy thinking about red fabric and tea lights, and the relief all of it brings him.

 

For having effectively dolled Jimin up, Taehyung sure abandons him quickly enough. Just twenty minutes pass after the performances die down, and he's already running off to find Jeongguk.

Looking around, though, Jimin is grateful that Taehyung had warned him to put something extra on. It looks like every omega is wearing something different from the usual—even the younger kids are wearing jewelry or little accessories. He doesn't know how he feels about wearing a smokey eye while everyone else seems to go for a cute appeal, but well. He'd worn this sort of thing to college parties more often than not. And it looks good, so Jimin is feeling lenient.

He's sitting close enough to the fire to leech some of its warmth, too; he's still uncomfortably chilly even in a long-sleeve and pants, but it's better than the absolute misery he'd expected. He does wish he'd see a familiar face, though; every time he turns around he sees a different alpha looking back at him. Jimin's alright with that; he knows that he's technically invading their community, even if he didn't have a choice in the matter. It's just very unnerving.

Some of the alphas actually just seem to be curious about him, though, smiling or even waving if Jimin accidentally makes eye contact. He appreciates that; it's much better than the intense looks he receives from the others. But maybe that's due to all of the alcohol being passed around; Jimin had turned down drink after drink from Taehyung before he'd been left alone, and now he sees one in the hands of every adult who looks his way. Eventually, Jimin just decides to stop searching for the familiar face he won't find and focuses his eyes to the massive fire just a couple yards away. He lets the heat absorb into his skin and sits a little closer to the edge to chase the warmth. Give him some hot chocolate and a blanket, and he might as well feel as comfortable as he did at bonfires in high school.

“So what’s it like coming to compound?”

Jimin nearly jumps out of his skin at the unfamiliar voice. There's a lanky alpha to his right, with large and expressive features. His hair is dyed a medium reddish-brown, which Jimin knows because he can see just a hint of root peeking from his crown. He'll have to ask Seokjin about dyes in the compound.

At Jimin's start, the alpha smiles sheepishly. "Sorry, I thought you'd seen me coming," he says, and extends a hand. "I'm Park Chanyeol. I'm one of the hunters."

Jimin was pretty sure all of the alphas hunted, but he doesn't ask. Maybe Chanyeol hunts full-time. "I'm Park Jimin," he offers, and he's reaching out to shake hands.

“So?” The alpha is grinning, well, wolfishly. “How has it been? Coming to compound and everything.”

Jimin feels his expression twist up a little and tries to relax the muscles around his mouth. He doesn’t really want to go into it. “It’s been okay,” he hedges. “Strange, of course, but good overall.”

“You must be so much happier,” Chanyeol assumes. Jimin wants to narrow his eyes.

“Well, things are still pretty new.” He scoots back slightly, trying to distance from the cinnamon smell invading his nostrils. It’s not bad; just very strong. “Everything’s very exciting.”

The alpha waggles his eyebrows. “I’m sure.” He laughs and the sound is surprisingly genuine; Jimin relaxes just a bit, even if he is still guarding himself. “Have you been needing anything? Extra food or maybe some nice blankets? I could pull some strings; maybe even give you some of my furs.” And oh, the attitude is making Jimin just a little bit uncomfortable.

He’s prepping himself for a swift escape, but then he catches a peripheral sight of a familiar carpenter alpha parting through the crowd.

"Sorry," Jimin says quickly to Chanyeol, and raises his hand to wave. He feels relief knowing that at least Yoongi will be here, who is definitely the death of him but is at least someone he feels at least a safe discomfort around.

It takes barely a moment for the alpha to notice his waving hand, eyes focusing in and locking for a second heavily on his until Jimin looks away slightly. Jimin feels kind of silly to call Yoongi over—a great friend, he tells Chanyeol—but he doesn’t know anyone else in the nearby crowds, and he has no other polite options in ending this uncomfortable discussion with the other alpha.

Yoongi is walking directly over, not bothering with weaving between groups of people the way Jimin would have to. He looks incredibly handsome, which is embarrassing to admit; the alpha is not only wearing the usual all-black, but is actually wearing what could only be his furs. The coat looks extremely luxurious—it has rich shades of cool browns and greys, and looks like the kind of fur that Jimin would immediately reach out to touch if he'd seen even an imitation of it in a store back home. It’s a long coat, too; it brushes just a ways above the knee. The effect is extremely intimidating. Jimin can understand why omegas step aside and look back at him a second later. It is kind of strange, he thinks, how even a cluster of entirely alphas separates for the man to walk through.

Jimin's surprised at how huge Yoongi's reputation must be—even in comparison to Seokjin's original warning. He must be more threatening in personality than Jimin has seen so far.

"Jimin," he murmurs when he's finally close enough. His expression is all intensity on Jimin, which makes him shiver right there. He hopes in vain that Yoongi won't notice, but then the alpha's eyes glance down and Jimin knows he's been caught.

The alpha sits down—and right in the space Chanyeol had left between them, he notes—before he holds out to Jimin what looks like a thermos. Had he really been holding that the whole time he’d been walking over? Jimin is embarrassed to realize he hadn't even noticed.

"I thought you might want something warm," he's offering. Jimin's so distracted by the low tone of his voice that it takes a second for him to catch the words.

"It's for me?" The red-orange colors of the fire bounce surprisingly well off of Yoongi's pale skin. He's probably too focused in on making eye contact, but now it's too difficult to look away when he has the alpha's attention so directly. Jimin just can’t seem to decide whether he’s intimidated or interested. He knows it’s the thrilling combination of both, but he wants to bite his own tongue at that.

Yoongi's cheeks look a light pink. Jimin wonders if that's from the fire or embarrassment. Yoongi shifts a little bit on top of the bench—definitely the latter. "You said you'd be coming," he says in a low tone. "It can get pretty cold out here."

The thought that Yoongi must have actually prepared something and brought it specifically for Jimin has him shocked but warming up with pleasant surprise. "Thank you," he says shyly, and takes the thermos with both hands. He tries not to react when calloused fingers brush against his own. There's a rush from the contact. "Uhm, what is it, though?"

Yoongi moves a little bit closer, into Jimin’s personal space. "Take a whiff," he encourages.

So Jimin unscrews the lid nervously. He's pretty picky and really hopes it isn't coffee—but there's steam rising up and it smells like spices and sweetness. The combination isn't what he's used to, but it has his mouth watering. "Damn," he whispers, and immediately feels mortified.

His reaction is even more embarrassing when Yoongi laughs a little in response. Jimin loves the low sound, though. "It's a spiced tea," Yoongi says. "Try it."

"Are you sure? It's yours," he says. Yoongi might have made it for him (the thought still has Jimin's brain stuttering), but he needs to at least offer.

The alpha rolls his eyes, but his lips are pulled up at the corners so Jimin knows he's not actually angry. "Try it," he says again, and leans even farther into Jimin's space to nudge him with his shoulder. Jimin nearly starts at the contact.

"You'd better not poison me," he mumbles, but inches closer to Yoongi. He doesn't realize what he's done until he does it, so he tries to distract the alpha from noticing by taking a sip quickly. The instinct of the way he moves closer is almost frightening.

But the drink is good—really good. It's the hot chocolate he wanted but better, and it's surprisingly creamy, and it's hot enough to help warm him up.

He turns to Yoongi. "I don't care if it's poisoned," he jokes, albeit quietly, "it's mine now."

In return, he gets that low laugh again—almost a chuckle, but too relaxed—and Yoongi says, "I hope it'll help with the cold."

"Thank you," Jimin says shyly. "It is pretty chilly. But I'm always freezing," he adds.

Yoongi's features are pulled into a dark, tense expression. "The weather can't help any," he says, and then moves away from Jimin sharply. The space allows Jimin to vaguely register Chanyeol getting up and leaving off to another area.

Jimin's confused until the alpha mutters, "Here," and starts to remove his furs. Oh no, Jimin thinks, because that is too much for him to handle. He loves the cliche, and the fact that Yoongi doesn't even know what he's doing makes it worse. The alpha is literally dangling the possibility of owning his furs in Jimin’s face.

"Are you trying to be my boyfriend?" he jokes, but panics internally at his own word vomit. It's definitely not the best way to handle the situation.

The alpha pauses, coat held out to him. "Is this a beta thing?"

Jimin can't help but giggle, a little embarrassed. "It is," he responds. Before he knows it, he’s rambling. "A man might give a woman his jacket if he's showing he's interested—or another man, too, but you know, beta sexuality..."

"The strangest part of beta communities." Jimin smiles at that; he knows how strange the compound thinks sexuality is. It's easier in the walls, where alphas are biologically driven to mate with omegas and vice versa.

"It can seem like it," he acknowledges. He'd always thought of himself as bisexual until he came to compound and realized what it was all about. "But yes, the jacket thing is a beta thing."

Yoongi takes a second to pause, and then leans all the way into Jimin's personal space. Their noses are nearly touching, just an inch or two away from each other. Jimin is confronted with an incredibly faint, barely-there smattering of freckles across the alpha's nose. Yoongi looks, if possible, even more handsome, and that's nothing compared to the way his scent and pheromones absolutely assault Jimin. The only conclusion he can come to, although it’s wild, is that Yoongi is going to kiss him; kiss his cheek, at least. There's no other reason for him to be this close, to have Jimin so wrapped up in what smells like cedar or amber or maybe just addicting pheromones. But then the alpha pulls away.

"It's an alpha thing, too," says Yoongi as he pulls back. "I'm glad that some things are the same."

And that would have Jimin confused, but all of a sudden, he can feel a weight on his shoulders and smell Yoongi on all sides of him. He doesn't have to look to know the alpha had wrapped the coat over his shoulders.

"But you'll be cold—," Jimin curses himself for snuggling into the soft lining.

The alpha's eyes are glued to his. "I didn't just bring the drink for you."

And oh. Jimin ducks his head. "Yoongi," he says shyly.

The alpha places his hand, palm up, over Jimin's thigh. "I'm glad you came," he says in a low voice. Jimin looks at the way the alpha's fingers nearly stretch over the entire width of his thigh. The air between them feels too intimate for Jimin to handle in a public space; he's sure he's red to his chest.

He angles a little bit towards the alpha, and lets one of his hands unwrap from the thermos to shakily rest as softly as possible on top of Yoongi's, with just the tips of his fingers balanced over the calloused skin of the alpha’s palm. He’s praying that he’s interpreting that correctly—but the alpha seems to like this, rumbling softly and leaning in. His scent teases Jimin in closer. Jimin's vision feels fuzzy around the edges, with a heady rush traveling through his veins. "Thank you," he offers quietly. "I hate being cold."

"You're always shivering." It's a statement, but Jimin hears the question underneath.

"I'm not used to being outside so much," he admits sheepishly. He won’t mention that half of it is actually Yoongi’s fault. "I really prefer being indoors. I'm used to beta homes, too... I'm just not used to the feeling here."

The alpha nods understandingly. "Are you used to warmer weather?"

"Colder, actually." He pulls both hands back to thread his arms into the sleeves of Yoongi's coat, and then returns his hand to the alpha's. He might position his hand so that the alpha could thread their fingers, just a little. "I was just used to wearing thick sweaters and coming home to a completely warm house."

"You like to feel protected from the weather." Jimin nods in agreement. Yoongi reaches forward with his other hand to clasp two top closures at the top of his coat. "That's instinct; don't feel embarrassed of it."

Jimin wants to admit that he's probably just being a baby, but the elders are stepping up to stand in front of the fire pit. Even the rowdier alphas are settling immediately onto benches, so Jimin settles for shooting a small smile and scooting up to the alpha. He debates taking the alpha's hand again, but by the time he even contemplates the idea Yoongi has wrapped that arm around his waist. It's embarrassing how quickly Jimin effectively cuddles up, even while he sips on the sweet drink like it’s his focus. He shivers as he curls up—not from the cold—but the alpha looks at him with a surprisingly concerned expression. It almost strikes Jimin as odd, because he's not used to seeing Yoongi look anything but intimidating—although the fierceness is there, underneath the barely-softened features.

"I could walk you home," he says lowly, right in Jimin's ear. Jimin knows that it’s to avoid causing a distraction over the elder’s speech, but all he can feel is the slow slur between Yoongi’s words and the intimacy of it all. The shiver it causes is so intense that Jimin feels tingling in his scalp afterward.

"No, I want to listen. I'm okay," he offers bashfully, but the alpha shakes his head in a small, jerky back-and-forth.

"C'mere," Yoongi rumbles, and pulls Jimin in by the arm around his waist—and oh. That's working for him—that smell is so potent that he's overwhelmed enough to calm down. It's a strange reaction, but Jimin isn't on the verge of public arousal anymore, so he doesn't mind. Shamelessly, the omegean part of him noses into Yoongi's skin. He also sets the thermos aside and offers up his hands again; he was almost done anyways. The elders are throwing more wood and encouraging the fire to double its size, as is apparently tradition, so Jimin figures he has some time.

And he definitely does—an elegant, tall alpha elder begins to speak in a quiet voice after the audience maintains a final hush. She’d be an absolutely captivating speaker at any other time, but Jimin has a dopamine rush leaving him feeling heady along with pheromones teasing his system. Instead, all he can do is enjoy the warmth of Yoongi’s furs and scan the remainder of the crowd according to what his current position allows—he sure as hell doesn’t plan to move any.

By the time he feels his side completely relax into the alpha’s body, Jimin vaguely registers the feeling of being stared at—by Taehyung, he eventually sees, who is perched on Jeongguk’s lap on the far left-side benches and is giving a fat thumbs-up in his direction. Jimin wants to simultaneously scoff and hide in embarrassment, but ends up giving his friend an unamused look before ignoring him completely.

He drifts in and out of listening to the pack stories, focusing more on the subtle shifts the alpha occasionally makes; opening his hand for Jimin’s to rest on, the steady in-and-out of his breath, and the tense of his shoulders in response to any move Jimin might make to cuddle into the alpha’s furs. He’s warm and comfortable and sleepy but wide awake in the best way; he’s completely tuned in, shameless in the way he’s acting like it’s high school all over again.

Eventually, of course, it ends. Jimin blinks a few times when all of the surrounding candles are lit again, signaling the end of the stories. It sounds like everyone is either going to bed or going out hunting, with Jimin’s place decidedly being the former. They sit in place for a short pause, with Jimin regaining his sense of the world outside of pheromones.

“Tired?” Yoongi’s voice sounds lower than ever so close to his ear.

Jimin shivers. “Mhmm,” he admits. He doesn’t want to admit to it, but— “I should probably head back,” he says softly.

Yoongi nods. “I’m due for the hunt,” he says. “Who did you come with?”

Jimin straightens up a bit, arching his back out to smooth any discomfort. Surprisingly, there is none. “Taehyungie,” he says tiredly, looking around.

Yoongi locates his friend faster than he does, though. Yoongi laughs almost silently. “Sounds like he’s on his way.”

Jimin finds him quickly enough, then; he’s whining petulantly at a protesting Jeongguk, who is dragging him towards Jimin apparently.

“Let them have their moment,” Taehyung slurs. Jimin feels his cheeks heat up.

Jeongguk looks directly at Jimin, exhausted. “I’m drafted for this hunt,” he explains.

Jimin might be exhausted himself, but he can at least head home. “I’ll tuck him in,” Jimin promises, and reluctantly parts from the alpha so that he can take Taehyung’s hand.

Jeongguk nods in thanks, before turning to Yoongi. He’s urging Yoongi on impatiently, something about hurrying out to the hunt, but Jimin is honestly too sleepy. He’s ready to interrupt to say goodnight and head out when Taehyung does it for him, shouting his good night and waving far too widely considering the distance between them all.

Jimin chances a look at Yoongi. The expression he’s giving off is no less intimidating than the beginning of the night—maybe even more so, considering recent events.

“Stay warm,” the alpha says lowly.

Jimin can only look down and nod, letting Taehyung drag him in a turn-around that finally starts them off towards the omegean den. He can’t even process on this walk home this time; all he can think about is finding sleep and thinking about everything tomorrow.

Putting Taehyung to bed is, of course, a pain in the ass; Jin ends up dragging the drunk man into his own room for the night, being too exhausted to let Jimin handle "the biggest brat of all time." From there, Jimin takes off his makeup and crawls directly into bed, being thoroughly expired by the emotional up and down of the long day. While he'd expected to be kept up with anxious thoughts of the alpha, Yoongi's scent is somehow in his nose and wrapped around him.

Jimin curls into his blankets, softer than usual, and passes out feeling content.

Chapter Text

Surprisingly, Jimin wakes up that morning feeling incredibly content. The sunlight is filtering through in such a wintery way that it doesn’t hurt his eyes, and for once he feels like his mind is comfortably foggy enough to go back to sleep if he wanted. He’d woken up with a blissfully free mind, free of the initial stress he’d usually experience.

Deciding to treat himself to the warmth of his own bed for once, he rolled over again into his blankets, which still felt strangely plush and comfortable the way they had the night before—and smelled amazing.

And felt like furs.

Jimin brought his hands up to rub at his eyes. He groaned and prayed to multiple deities, but in the end, the worst of his nightmares came true.

There, greeting him as his first morning sight, were the brown and grey tones of Min Yoongi’s furs.

It was the best sleep he’d had in a long time, and now he had to face the embarrassment of giving the furs back—and apologize for stealing them in the first place. Getting ready to face his day would be a bitch.

“Fuck,” Jimin whispers.

 

 

In the name of putting off the inevitable and being productive at the same time, Jimin skips breakfast after getting ready. Instead, he makes his way up to the second floor of the den and softly knocks on the door with Hoseok’s name scrawled in elegant script against the wood of the door.

He looks at the pretty carving for a few brief seconds until the doorknob twists and the omega himself peers around the door, eyes bright and awake.

“Jimin,” Hoseok greets warmly, eyes twinkling. How he can look so excited in the morning, Jimin has no idea.

“Hi.” Jimin tries to smile and shuffles. “Can I come in? I wanted to ask you a little bit about your performance last night.”

Hoseok grins. “Of course!”

The door swings open and Jimin is surprised at the warmth of the scent that flushes out to greet him. He hasn’t had a chance to gather up Hoseok’s scent before, but it’s a concentrated sweetness in his den—syrupy but muted, almost. It’s surprisingly pleasant given that Jimin doesn’t usually enjoy sweet smells.

Hoseok invites him to sit on the lone full bed in the room while he moves about lightly; he must be finishing up getting ready. Jimin notices a lot of beauty products, and a lot of overall luxury. There are furs of all sorts of shades draped over the bottom of his bed and laid over the other furniture throughout the room, and he has plenty of ornate jewelry hanging against his walls and sitting in little holders on his night stands.

“Taehyung mentioned to me last night that you liked the performances,” Hoseok smiles, fastening a pretty emerald earring to one ear. Surrounding the gem are a small cluster of other jewel tones, mirroring the overall look of his room. Jimin is starting to get a sense of the man’s style, and it’s not what he would have expected.

Jimin can finally relax. “I did,” he admits sheepishly, tracing the intricate pattern of the silky material in Hoseok’s bedding. “I was actually going to ask you how you got started, or—I don't know. I danced before I came here, so I really enjoyed it.”

“I thought you’d probably be good at it, actually.” Hoseok’s picks up what looks like a small tub of hand lotion, offers some to Jimin, and then rubs some into his own hands when Jimin declines politely. “I was hoping you’d like it—do you think you’d want to perform at festivals, if you could?”

And at that, he can’t help but smile. “I wanted to ask you if I could learn and perform in the future,” he admits.

The omega plops down excitedly onto the end of his bed, right in with all the heavy furs. “Would you? I could probably get you ready for the offering season festival—I know you're aware of your space, so you’d be fine. And you already dance, too; I think it could be good.”

Jimin leans a bit back at that. “I think I’d need longer than just a couple of weeks,” he shucks.

Hoseok’s mouth twists slightly. “Offering season is on the next seventh,” he says. “You don’t know about it?”

A week? The perfectionist part of Jimin definitely can’t be ready in time, even if the dance itself could be. “I guess I don’t,” he admits. “Taehyung told me festivals happen every two weeks.”

“They do!” Hoseok’s pulling a set of furs—these aren’t made into coats but left as pelts, it seems—into his lap. “But offering season is a little bit different. You should really ask Jin about it, but basically, another festival is happening next week too. But we’d have plenty of time to teach you.”

Jimin wants to groan. “I don’t even think two weeks would be enough.”

The omega shakes his head, though. “Don’t worry about it,” he says, reaching over to quickly ruffle Jimin’s hair with a teasing grin. Jimin folds under the surprising force. “You know we don’t have shift from the fourth sun to the seventh, right? We could use some of that time to prepare.”

Jimin’s eyebrows furrow. “I didn’t.” He’s starting to get frustrated with not knowing a lot of things. “Do you think I’d really have enough time, though? I’d want to know everything really well.”

“I’m a perfectionist, too,” Hoseok laughs. Jimin feels shy having been caught. “If you aren’t ready in time, you could just go next time.”

And that at least gives Jimin the option of backing out—which he always appreciates.

“So.” Hoseok pulls a delicate necklace down from the wall beside his bed and reaches around his neck to fasten it. “Want to set up a practice schedule this afternoon? I have some silk you could wear, too.”

Jimin thinks about it—thinks about all the unnecessary attention that dancing might give, but also thinks about how much he loved performing back home. He sighs, and allows that to turn into a grin naturally.

Hoseok knows his answer by that alone, and curls into himself like he’s more excited than Jimin is. “I’ll be at the shop this afternoon, so you should come by—Yoongi’s starting your order today, so you won’t have to worry about him either.” The omega’s grin turns into a smirk. “You still smell like him after I saw you two last night—so what happened after I left?”

And just like that, Jimin’s face is red.

“Nothing!” He sputters. He knows that Hoseok and Yoongi are close—they have to be, if Hoseok really had been smuggling gifts into the omega’s den for Jimin. So he feels like it’s not so bad to keep his privacy from the other omega.

“I’m not going to tell him!” Hoseok pouts.

Jimin looks at him dubiously for that one, but ultimately gives up. “I wasn’t lying. I took Taehyung home because he’d had too much to drink.”

Hoseok snorts. “Sounds like him. But how do you still smell like Yoongi then?”

Jimin is reminded of his own embarrassing mistakes. The thought of seeing the alpha again and returning his furs makes Jimin feel nauseous with anxiety. He’d successfully skipped breakfast, but that left lunch open as a possibility to see Yoongi—meaning that he’d have to take the furs, bring them to the kitchens, and give them back in front of everyone. The thought is terrifying.

“You’ll probably see at lunch,” he finally groans.

Thankfully, Hoseok backs off at that one. “Well, it was nice to see you together,” he teases, and flops belly-first to lie down on his bed. “How have things been? Aside from Yoongi and the others.”

Jimin frowns. “I haven’t really had any other alphas approach me,” he answers to Hoseok's implication, and then adds, “But things have been pretty okay. I’ve got the whole work thing down now—sorry, I mean shift,” he corrects.

Hoseok nods. “Do you like it here?”

And that’s a hard one for Jimin. On the one hand, he’ll only be able to call his mom once a month for the next few months until she can visit him in the peak of winter. On the other hand, meeting people has been easier than it would have been back home, and he never has to worry about money the way he used to. “I think it still feels kind of weird,” he admits. “It doesn’t feel like home yet. But I like it.”

“Well, it hasn’t been very long at all.” He rolls over onto his back, and looks up and Jimin. “That’s pretty good for the little while you’ve been here, right?”

Jimin nods. “It’s really good. I think I’ll feel comfortable soon.”

Hoseok smiles, and Jimin realizes how pretty the omega is, especially with his earrings twinkling against his richly red bedding and his fur pelts. It hits Jimin that this must be why Hoseok has so many furs and nice things in the first place. He’s a performer, he’s pretty, and he's happy; there must be a lot of alphas interested in him.

“I’m glad,” he distantly hears the omega say.

“What about you?” Jimin counters, slightly out of nowhere. “Do you have a specific alpha you like?”

Hoseok shrugs. “I like to play around,” he admits. “Are you asking about all the furs?”

Jimin shrinks into himself.

The omega laughs, though. “Don’t feel bad; I know I'm spoiled.” He reaches up with his arms and runs his fingers through the furs around his head. “I started dancing a long time ago, so when I presented, I started to get a lot of these.”

Jimin thinks it’s surprising that Hoseok is so open about his popularity. “So then you’re not interested in anyone specifically?”

“Hell no,” Hoseok groans. “I want to date a lot of alphas and only settle down when I start to get wrinkles.”

Jimin snorts. “Not much for commitment?”

Hoseok smirks. “Not unless I can break it off when I find someone better.”

And that’s an interesting way to be—especially for all of what Jimin knows are typically true of omegas. Jimin wonders if Hoseok’s independence relates to his close working status with an alpha. “I’m kind of jealous,” Jimin admits.

Hoseok laughs loudly at that, and Jimin feels a little bit of his discomfort ease. He wonders what the omega would say if Jimin had told him about forgetting to give back Yoongi’s furs, and even considers spilling the beans. Of course he isn’t brave enough to say anything in the end, but he does feel a little bit better—like he might not be the only one not fitting the mold.

It's almost unfortunate that Hoseok and Yoongi are so close—it makes Jimin nervous to confide in someone who he would otherwise immediately find to be his best friend—but it does give him the hope that with time he’ll be able to share a friendship with Hoseok.

“So I’ll come by after lunch sometime?”

Hoseok nods.

Hoseok has also given him a little bit of support that makes the idea of confronting Yoongi feel a little bit less anxiety-provoking, and that’s probably what Jimin had really been looking for when he’d knocked in the first place. With that in mind, it wasn't too hard to excuse himself from Hoseok and head back to his own room. Yoongi's furs still sat on his bed, neatly folded but every bit intimidating as pretty.

"Fuck," Jimin had said again.

 

 

Once he’d finally managed to scrape up the rest of his dignity, Jimin had decided that he’d been hiding for long enough and he needed to head to the kitchens before all the food was gone. He could hear the heavy wooden door creak on its hinge when he entered the dining room. That itself served as an indicator as to the quiet that greeted him as he entered; the majority of omegas looked extremely hungover from the night before, curled into their mated alphas or grimacing at the chatter of their young ones. The scene made Jimin think he hadn't been the only one skipping breakfast. The sight would have made Jimin laugh if he weren't so anxious.

Instead, he had to find his friends. And a specific alpha.

He spots Yoongi first at the seat beside the head of the table, with a fair bit of distance from Taehyung and his neighbor Hoseok. Something uncomfortable wells up at the bottom of Jimin's stomach despite the distance, which he immediately tries to squash—it’s the most useless urge of purely hormonal jealousy Jimin has felt in a long time. He’s taken aback by his own thoughts, in that moment; he’d been gossiping with Hoseok only hours before.

It might have been more difficult to ignore the ugly pit in Jimin's stomach if Yoongi hadn't immediately tensed and looked directly at Jimin. The look might have been from across the room, but Jimin feels himself shiver from the weight of it, and the weight of the coat in his arms. He tries to square his shoulders as he crosses the hall, but ends up realizing that he's looking at the ground the entire way over.

When deep breaths become a useless help, he tries to make eye contact with someone to build his way up to looking at Yoongi. It doesn't help: Taehyung and Hoseok are looking at him with shit-eating grins on their faces, making Jimin pull the furs closer to himself self-consciously—definitely not a good move. Hoseok’s grin is particularly evil, with realization lighting up his features. He definitely knows.

It's already hard enough with Yoongi's scent all over the place both from the furs and the man himself, which are making him feel all sorts of dizzy. His entire face feels hot. He wants to say something normal, greet everyone and sit down as usual, but his lips press firmly together until he’s right near his usual seat. The alpha has taken the place directly next to it again today. He takes a shaky breath and turns to Yoongi.

"Uhm." He wets his lip nervously and curses himself for doing it. Mortification is setting in; any confidence Hoseok might have given him is gone. "I accidentally left with your furs." He looks at Yoongi, whose eyes are staring right at his, and occasionally flickering down to the jacket.

Yoongi's posture, if possible, becomes even more rigid. "It's no problem," he says. "I'm glad you were warm." Jimin is distracted by his voice again, by the way Yoongi's words always curl together and his voice is always grumbling.

"Right, thank you," Jimin eventually blurts. He can feel the tightness of warmth in his cheeks. "Well," he stutters, and quickly goes to hand over the coat, "Here you go. Thank you for letting me wear these."

Yoongi remains still and tense for a heavy pause before finally offering out his hand. Jimin drapes the furs there as carefully as he can, leaning in once to smooth over a section that's brushed up the wrong way. He loves and hates the way Yoongi's scent furls up into his nose; it takes more effort than it should to pull back.

The others—now apparently including Jeongguk and Namjoon—are sitting very still aside from their facial muscles, which are twitching in an attempt not to laugh.

"Well, I'll just grab some breakfast," he says awkwardly, but Yoongi stands up. The legs of the entire bench drag loudly over the stone floor and Yoongi looks down at it (or at himself?) once with a vaguely surprised look before focusing on Jimin. It might just be the pheromones, but Yoongi feels so much bigger than Jimin like this.

"I'll go." Yoongi says. There’s no room for disagreement with that low tone. "I'm grabbing mine anyway. So you can sit."

Jimin wants to protest, but Taehyung is reaching across with an intent look, and he’s dragging Jimin down into his seat by the wrist. "Thank you," he eventually settles, looking away shyly.

Yoongi definitely looks at where Taehyung is holding his wrist; not even the oblivious part of Jimin can ignore that. Then, he nods and walks away. Hoseok and Taehyung are sniggering the second Yoongi's out of earshot.

"I love this," Hoseok wheezes. Taehyung looks like he might cry.

Jimin firmly hits at them both. "Shut up," he hisses.

The tone seems to do the trick; Taehyung manages a shaky breath to contain his snorting. "Did you see his face though? You really coated his furs, shit."

"’Coated’?"

Even Jeongguk slams a fist against the table. His laughter is nearly silent. Jimin's red face doesn't appreciate the attention.

"Shit, you don't even know," Hoseok manages. He and Taehyung are leaned all the way over the table, wheezing openly. “Did you see his eyes? He’s gone.”

Namjoon, respectfully silent the whole time, smiles politely at Jimin. The look has a bit of friendly pity, which Jimin frankly appreciates. "His furs," he explains. "They smell like you, now. Did you scent them?"

Jimin shakes his head. "Not even close, that's—" Inappropriate, he wants to say. Too intimate, for where they're at.

"Did you sleep in them? You smell like him." Jeongguk is leaning forward, mouth open a little bit. The expression almost looks like equal parts excitement and child-like curiosity.

Jimin takes a shaky breath. "I did," he admits. A chorus of shouts in response from Taehyung and Hoseok. "I just slept in my clothing! I was really tired."

Hoseok gives him an impressed look. “Damn, Jimin,” he whistles. “Those other alphas don’t stand a chance.”

Jimin distantly wants to know in what world other alphas are trying to get a chance.

“A true flirt,” Taehyung hums. “You’re going to drive him insane.”

“Already might be,” Namjoon admits, with that same look of pity. Jimin could use some pity. “It can be overwhelming for alphas.”

“I was just so sleepy,” Jimin mutters. “I still am.”

Taehyung reaches to adjust some of Jimin’s hair in a way he knows he doesn’t like, so he shakes his head to smooth everything back into place. “I’m sure you could ask that alpha for your favorite blanket back,” his friend teases.

Jimin’s face can’t get any rest from pulling all of his blood to his cheeks. “Don’t be mean,” he whines into the dark wood of the table. By the time he straightens up and adjusts himself, there’s a flash of scent and a bowl heaping with food in his vision. He takes in a sharp breath as Yoongi sits next to him.

“What’s wrong?” Yoongi asks, probably in relation to Jimin groaning into the table. The alpha sounds surprisingly concerned, but still just as grumbly. Jimin thinks it’s very cute, and can’t help but laugh a little, even if it is at his own misfortune.

He picks up one of the forks stacked between them over top two cloth napkins. “Nothing,” he lies, and then makes enough eye contact to gesture at the food and say genuinely, albeit quietly: “Thank you.”

“’S nothing,” is the response, but Jimin can see now that Yoongi’s pupils are blown so wide that they take over nearly his entire iris. His scent is still heavy; Jimin’s hoping he’ll be able to breathe enough fresh air to keep his own appetite.

Jimin doesn’t know what Yoongi’s extremely tense posture is about, but he’s scared to ask a potentially embarrassing question about whether or not it’s related to the scent on furs. So instead he reminds himself to ask Seokjin about it later and turns into his food. The bowl is absolutely heaping, though; meat, potatoes, and vegetables are stacked to the point of nearly overflowing. The sheer volume surprises him; there’s no way he’ll be able to finish the portion, especially considering that it’s at least double the standard given out. He knows this better than anyone; he has seen Taehyung dish up food often enough, after all.

“There’s… a lot,” he admits, looking at Yoongi. “How did you get this much food?”

Yoongi grumbles into his own bowl. Jimin can see, in his peripheral vision, both Yoongi’s normal portion and Hoseok’s shit-eating grin. He ignores the latter. Sitting with the massive portion makes him even more anxious than potentially having made some sort of mistake, so he offers, “Did you accidentally switch these? We could change.”

Yoongi’s eyes are back on him again, though, lingering over his body this time. Jimin’s spine curves in a shiver right at the table. He tries not to look as obvious as he feels.

“No,” Yoongi finally says. “There’s extra because everyone is hungover. You…” His look eats at Jimin’s neck and shoulders. “You look thinner. You should eat well.”

He can't possibly have looked much thinner overnight.

At the heavy look, Jimin has to make a conscious effort not to lean all the way into Yoongi’s space. He fails, unfortunately, and doesn’t realize that he’s nearly pressed up against Yoongi until he’s already there. He grabs a napkin and hopes the excuse will suffice, trying not to think about the implications of the alpha’s words. Honestly, Jimin just wants to have his shit together already.

He clears his throat. “I’ll do my best,” he murmurs, and attempts to dig in. Feeling Yoongi’s eyes on him doesn’t help the situation much, but he’s determined to make a solid dent in his food. For a little while it works, with Jimin listening to Hoseok and Taehyung’s antics. Namjoon will occasionally join in, and Jimin can force himself to react to their conversation enough to look like he isn’t completely taken over by Yoongi’s presence.

He's a little lost in thought, though, thinking about Yoongi’s dilated pupils and all of those dark looks he gives. That, and the way Yoongi always mentions for Jimin to be warm and well-fed, have him going back to Seokjin’s original warning—about Yoongi apparently being more in-touch with base instincts. Of course, it’s not what Jimin is used to. But he thinks he isn’t minding it.

“Jimin,” comes Seokjin’s voice, and Jimin startles. He hadn’t even realized the man had sat down at their table.

He rubs a hand over his heart and hopes the adrenaline will leave his body soon enough. “You scared me,” he complains.

Yoongi grumbles and presses up against Jimin in a way that has his body warming up. He nearly squeaks but focuses on Seokjin, who rolls his eyes. “So,” the omega begins, pouring himself a cup of water from the pitcher at the table, “What did you eat before you came to compound?”

Jeongguk nods and looks at Jimin expectantly. The others hum. Even Taehyung seems interested. Jimin himself is very happy about the change in subject.

And Jimin tries to think about it. The honest truth is embarrassing. “I ate like any college student, really.”

Seokjin looks at him blankly. Namjoon’s eyes are wide, and before he starts asking questions, Jimin decides to cut his thoughts off. “College students are really busy because college is expensive. I worked and went to school full-time. So forty hours of work per week with night classes. Then there are assignments and studying. So we eat like… we eat like shit,” he finishes, grimacing. The others hum.

“What did you eat, though?” Hoseok presses.

Shit. “Fried noodles or something quick for lunch. Usually the leftovers from lunch for dinner. I’d eat some fruit, sometimes, if I had time to go to the store,” he mumbles, in a long string of shame. It’s a glorified answer; he’d skip lunch and only order for dinner more often than not.

Taehyung looks confused. “Breakfast?”

Jimin shrinks in on himself. “I didn’t eat it.” Coffee was his substitute, but he wouldn’t say that.

Namjoon looks like he’s offended. “That’s not what I expected.”

Beside him, Jimin can hear Yoongi’s grumbling sound morph into something that’s definitely less of a content sound, low and—Jimin’s pretty sure it’s some kind of growl.

“It’s pretty common,” he tries to defend, but doesn’t put much effort into justifying poor health. He knows it’s not a good habit.

The alpha’s volume increases; Yoongi lets out a frustrated growl on his left. Jimin looks over, alarmed at the new sound and the rush of heat it sends through him, but instead sees Yoongi pick up his own bowl and pour the remaining contents into Jimin’s.

What—" Jimin tries, but the fork keeps scraping against Yoongi’s bowl.

“Fucking betas,” he snarls. Jimin tries to ignore the attack of Yoongi’s scent on him. He’s growling something like, “Think they’re so fucking smart but they don’t even teach their young to eat—,”

Hoseok lets out a “mm-hmm” in agreement. Seokjin is smirking like he’d been waiting for this response all along.

“—Trying to cure illnesses but not knowing how to survive—,” he’s violently cutting any extra fat off of the meat as if it might offend Jimin, dropping it back into his own bowl which has been pushed away as if dismissed.

And really, he makes a good point, but even Jeongguk is looking concerned. Seokjin looks at Jimin with intent and makes a fork-to-mouth motion. Jimin tries to pick up his fork with a shaky hand and eat, but Yoongi clearly isn’t finished cutting. Jimin wants to snort at the idea that he can’t cut his own food, even though he probably couldn't keep his hands steady with the alpha's scent so strong.

“Yoongi,” he tries. Yoongi glances at him but keeps cutting. There’s still a low sort of scratchy growling noise coming from his throat.

Seokjin’s expression is decidedly done and surprised at the same time, making Jimin think back on his original warning. He doesn’t really mind Yoongi’s reputation as much now that he knows what it’s like. The problem, though, is getting his food back before it’s cut to bits.

“Yoongi, I’m hungry,” he lies. “I want to eat.”

The alpha stabs a fork through a chunk of meat and brings it up to Jimin’s mouth.

Well.

He does his best to fight down the flush on his face and take what’s offered without looking too embarrassed. He chews slowly. There’s another mouthful ready before he can even swallow. He’s already feeling content, but figures he can eat until he’s full. The handsome twist in the alpha’s brows may or may not have something to do with his motivation.

Jimin tries to ignore the others and instead focus on how frustrated Yoongi seems, like something’s not right. Namjoon and Jeongguk seem to attach their eyes to the alpha, as if waiting for something, with their eyes following his hand each time he returns back to the bowl. Jimin doesn’t know what they’re looking for, but it seems like he might figure it out soon enough; Yoongi looks increasingly frustrated, shifting forward to press up close and only becoming more agitated as Jimin eats. Jimin himself feels sated with the lack of personal space and wonders why Yoongi isn’t. Has he been reading everything incorrectly after all?

Jimin covers his full mouth with a hand; he doesn’t have enough time between bites to talk. “What’s wrong?” He does his best to convey concern, even with a full mouth, and that seems to be the breaking point.

At the very second Yoongi drops his fork to the table Namjoon and Jeongguk lean back sharply. Yoongi’s hand goes straight for the bowl, picking up another piece of meat—not a fan of starches, apparently—without breaking eye contact. There are fingers lingering directly at his mouth the next second, and a dark look on Yoongi’s face that would have Jimin concerned if the scent around him weren’t so welcoming. Jimin can only feel tense, with the growling and the looks and the brush of fingers at his lips. He’s pretty sure Taehyung squeaks quietly.

The largest part of Jimin, the embarrassed part, tells him to pull away. But he has a feeling if he rejects the offer, he’ll be rejecting Yoongi—definitely not what he wants.

It’s probably still the pheromones, but this bite seems to taste better.

A lot better, especially when Yoongi seems to relax a little and finally stops snarling in the open hall, easing into a low rumble. Jimin chews and lets the flavor settle over his tongue. The taste is actually getting to his tongue this time—he accidentally lets out a sound that obviously shows he likes the food. It’s embarrassing, but it’s also the most normal and reasonable thing he’s done since the morning started, so he lets it go.

“’S good,” he manages to say. Yoongi seems to shake himself out of his zone, nods stiffly and finally pulls his hand away from Jimin’s mouth.

The rumbling slowly calms down enough for Yoongi to say, “Good,” and pick up another piece. Jimin swallows and takes the next bite without argument. There’s a light pink flush settling over Yoongi’s cheeks.

Jimin thinks it’s weird for sure—to be fed by the man he might be interested in. It’s not something he’s been taught, so even while he’s loving the experience of being doted on for sure, it just seems strange. But Yoongi seems to take some sort of pride, and Jimin’s feelings say to go with it. When Yoongi hesitates to reach for Jimin’s bowl the next time around, Jimin gently shifts the entire bowl in front of him. His entire face burns, and his vision feels too focused and too blurry all at the same time, but the way the alpha’s entire body positions itself in an open way towards Jimin has him encouraging the behavior in any way possible. He doesn’t know exactly what it means, but he knows it’s intimate.

“I think I agree, though,” he eventually says as Yoongi pours him a glass of water. Keeping up a conversation will be nearly impossible, of course, but having some room to speak will be better than drowning completely in the tension.

“Hmm?” The alpha seems very focused on putting the edge of the cup against Jimin’s lip. Jimin takes a small sip and twists his hands together in his lap. It’s strange not having to use them.

“Not taking care of yourself, but trying to work hard,” Jimin eventually says. “It’s like a culturally accepted behavior, that everyone talks about—,” he pauses to take another bite offered to him, and chews slowly before swallowing, “But no one ever even tries. To take care of themselves. It’s like they forget.”

Yoongi hums; he’s still looking directly at Jimin’s mouth, which has an even more dizzying effect. “The compound teaches survival before anything else.”

That makes Jimin pause. “Even before literacy?”

Yoongi nods and feeds Jimin another bite. He catches a stray piece with his thumb; Jimin feels embarrassed, but Yoongi’s already speaking. “Reading isn’t the top priority here. It’s not as valued, either.”

Jimin hums, questioning, as he chews. He’s thankful that he has breaks to eat and catch up with the speed of conversation—he doesn’t even know how he’s managing to speak with all of the buzzing in his mind.

“Betas establish cities and grocery stores because they want to learn more, do more in their businesses, with convenience.” Jimin swallows; Yoongi continues without a pause even as he offers another bite. Jimin has to be increasingly careful to not let his mouth brush against the alpha's thumb. “Outside ranks like compound communities need more interpersonal connection, to rely on someone or to provide for someone.”

Yoongi's looking at him intently at that. Jimin pretends not to notice, but still feels giggly on the inside. “This kind of lifestyle works for us,” the alpha finishes.

“Because it gives more opportunities to work together?” It's a stab in the dark.

Yoongi gives a small but very endearing smile and nods. Jimin feels his own hands curl into fists with his excitement. “And because it’s what we’re used to. We tend to like our traditions, like some of your more religious groups.”

“You study the beta population?” Jimin guesses, and is surprised; he has a hard time imagining Yoongi studying anything other than home improvement.

Yoongi laughs a little. The softness in expression has Jimin melting up against him, literally. “I used to.”

“I thought that was more of Namjoon’s thing—,” but a quick glance shows that Namjoon isn’t at the table. No one is anymore. Jimin should have figured, really, but it’s surprising to see that even beyond their end of the table a majority of families have left. Jimin’s immediate thought—after how embarrassed he is, of course—is of his shift. He must look anxious, because Yoongi speaks up.

“You won’t have shift today, so you’re fine,” Yoongi rumbles by his ear.

That’s new information to Jimin. Yoongi must read his expression again; “Shifts are cut back to the last two hours after bonfires. School lessons are canceled.”

“Oh, thank God. I can nap,” is all Jimin can say. He’s so full that he can only sleep it off, no matter how flustered he is. He is a bit confused, though—he would have expected Seokjin, his figurative supervisor, to have let him know.

Yoongi lets out another silent laugh. “I like to see you taking care of yourself,” he says, and he might even be teasing even in that low tone, but Jimin’s heart flutters.

“I’ll do my best,” he manages.

Yoongi pauses and slowly pulls away to put space between them. Jimin almost swears he sees Yoongi wince at the distance, but he might be projecting his own feelings.

“I’d sleep myself,” Yoongi admits, “But there’s an omega who needs a proper bed.”

And that does sound nice, if Jimin’s honest. He misses sleeping with a bed frame around his mattress, but he can’t help but test Yoongi. “You must be tired after the hunt. I guess I’ll have to let you go, then?”

Yoongi’s lips pull into a thin line, like he’s genuinely conflicted, and Jimin laughs a little. The sound is embarrassingly light.

“Take it,” Yoongi says, and Jimin’s confused until he sees Yoongi’s furs held between them. His heart stutters.

“No, it’s okay. They’re yours,” he persists. It’s surprisingly honest for how much he wants to curl up in Yoongi’s furs again.

Yoongi nods. “They are mine,” he acknowledges, and Jimin’s happy Yoongi will be that warm in his own coat, even if his heart does droop a bit.

Jimin hums in acknowledgement. He’s thankful that he can keep the same expression as he reaches for their dishes.

Yoongi makes a noise; some cross between throat-clearing and a cough. “Which is why I’d like it if you kept them.”

Oh.

Yoongi’s cheeks are just barely pink, which he seems to try and hide by studying the bowls on the table—or maybe Jimin’s hands wrapped around them? Jimin pulls his hands back, and Yoongi’s eyes follow. Jimin’s trying to cultivate a response that won’t embarrass himself; Yoongi’s distractions aren’t helping.

“Would you really?” Jimin asks, buying time. “You wouldn’t mind if I wore your furs?”

Yoongi’s hands are strained white against the pelts, which Jimin thinks might be out of tension. “I wouldn’t. I’d like it, if you would want to wear them.”

Are you trying to be my boyfriend? It’s kind of a thing that men do for women they’re interested in.

He’d said that, right?

It’s good that some things are the same. Jimin thinks his pulse might snap as if it were some kind of wire. He can’t deny it—can’t say he’s okay without them, with the conversation having gone this way. He can’t just deny out of politeness as if Yoongi had offered to walk him home again. It’s thrilling and nerve-wracking and relieving all at once to tell the alpha what he really wants.

“As long as you wouldn’t mind,” he says shyly, and Yoongi’s eyes snap to his, dark again.

“Do you want to wear them?” The power of the expression catches Jimin off guard; the pink in Yoongi’s cheeks still hasn’t gone down completely, but the change is distinct.

“It would be nice,” Jimin admits, words shaky.

Yoongi’s eyes are as sharp as his furs are soft on the back of Jimin’s neck. They’ve been draped so gently over the grey knit of his sweater that it takes a bit for Jimin to slide his arms into the sleeves. While he does so, Yoongi fastens the top front with the small golden hidden hook and hoop closures that keep the coat together.

Jimin really doesn’t have the mental capacity to think about what it all means.

“Stay warm,” Yoongi says as he finishes. His long fingers linger at the last hook, high up and settled against Jimin’s clavicle.

Finally, Jimin feels relief—just the right timing, considering that he wouldn’t have been able to take the alpha’s scent much longer. “Thank you,” he says, and smiles as he stands up. He reaches back for the dishes, but Yoongi beats him to it.

“Go nap,” Yoongi says. His voice is low and teasing in that way from before that makes Jimin want to giggle and run away all at the same time.

Jimin responds with the very mature act of sticking out his tongue just the slightest, which at least makes Yoongi laugh. Before he can do something else stupid, Jimin spins on his heel with a red face.

 

“Don’t you look smug in your new furs,” Hoseok calls out teasingly. “Have a good lunch?”

Jimin lets the door to the shop shut behind him and squeaks, having been caught smiling. His first thought is of Yoongi potentially being around; Hoseok had said the alpha wouldn't be, but Jimin needs to at least know if he is or not for sure. Seeing the man so soon after napping while wrapped up in his coat sounds a little too dangerous. He looks nervously around the shop, but the omega waves him off.

“He’s out picking up a wood shipment from Comms for your order.” Hoseok takes off a pair of work gloves and rises out of a chair he’d been sanding to take a seat on top of his desk. He kicks his heels lightly against the wood of the furniture itself as Jimin crosses over. The mention of Comms reminds Jimin briefly to text his mother once he’s at home.

He sighs as he sees Hoseok smirking, although he can’t help but smile just a little bit himself. “I don’t even know what that whole thing was about,” he admits shyly.

The omega giggles. “Take a seat; let’s talk schedules and then gossip some more about my boss.”

So Jimin sits in the chair in front of Hoseok’s desk while the man himself reaches back into his desk drawer and pulls out a notepad.

“I was thinking I should write down your schedule along with mine so we can figure out some open pockets,” Hoseok begins. “First off, we know we have some free days coming up. What other plans do you have for those days?”

“I’m free,” Jimin says. “I don’t exactly have much going on around here yet.”

“Fair point.” Hoseok numbers seven columns along the sheet and marks the last few, each with a tiny ‘X’ to represent the lack of schedules. “My schedule is very flexible and I’ve already taught everyone else their performances. There’s a full practice before the festival, though.”

While Hoseok shades in a portion of the last day, Jimin questions, “You teach all of the routines?”

The omega grins. “I make them all, so I teach them all.”

It’s a little cocky, but Jimin thinks it’s cute. “You must work hard,” he says.

He receives a shrug and smile in response. “What’s your schedule like for the early week? You’ll probably be getting a lot of your bedroom furniture before the festival, but I’ll know when Yoongi will want to drop that stuff off, so all of this will be dependent on that, of course…”

Jimin straightens up at the serious tone Hoseok seems to be slipping into. “I only have afternoon shifts,” he admits.

“How does after dinner sound? Each night, for a couple of hours?”

Jimin nods in agreement, and watches the omega block out areas and begin to scribble down notes.

“I actually already have a dance in mind for you.” The soft scratching sound continues the entire time he’s talking—Jimin can see why Yoongi would want to have this man as his assistant. “I had originally wanted to do it myself; it’s pretty sexy—but it’s honestly too soft for me. You’re a more feminine dancer, yeah?”

His style is definitely more soft than what he'd seen of Hoseok’s, but—“Sexy?” he croaks.

A soft laugh. “Nothing you’ll feel strange doing in front of the pups,” Hoseok promises. “It’s just very graceful, and soft—which alphas drool for, of course.”

While he exactly doesn’t want to attract a lot of attention in that way specifically, he’s not going to turn down a routine that doesn’t specifically make him uncomfortable. “That sounds a little easier for me,” he acknowledges.

“That’s what I’d figured. I’m thinking that we can teach you the actual routine before the break—it’s about two minutes long, and the moves are actually kind of simple once you get the hang of it.”

That doesn’t sound too bad. “Could we meet up after that once or twice for practice?”

“Of course!” promises Hoseok. “I’m just trying to figure out when—do you think meeting on two consecutive mornings would be okay for you?”

“That’s not really a problem.” Jimin has been waking up too early on a regular basis already—he might as well do something with the habit.

“Sounds good,” Hoseok finishes, penciling in around the edges of the sheet. Once he’s finished, he looks up at Jimin with bright eyes. “I put us down for the first two days so that if something goes wrong we can meet afterwards. What are you thinking about in terms of costume?”

Jimin hadn’t been. At all.

His blank face obviously conveys everything Hoseok needs to know. “That’s actually perfect, for once. I have a ton of silks that I don’t like because they aren’t revealing enough.”

Jimin is starting to really get a sense for the life Hoseok likes to lead. “I’d prefer to at least have some sleeves,” he says, thinking of the snow on the ground.

“What about for colors?” But Jimin shrugs.

Hoseok pulls his pencil up to his lip. “I have a few options. You can try a bunch on tomorrow before we start so I can do any alterations if you need them.”

“That’s really nice,” Jimin says, almost awed. “Let me know what I can do in return, you know…”

“Keep my boss entertained so he keeps up the good mood around here,” the omega snorts. “Speaking of, how was everything? I left as soon as I knew he’d feed you.”

With the way it’s being talked about so openly, Jimin wants to curl into himself—but he’s still wearing Yoongi’s coat, so that doesn’t help to calm him down any. “It was good, I think. What’s that all about, though?”

“Feeding?” Hoseok’s eyes are wide. “You don’t know?”

“I’m kind of an idiot around here,” Jimin admits.

The omega shakes his head though. “You’re not; I’m just surprised you went with it if you didn’t. Even pups can be kind of weirded out by that one.”

Jimin shrugs. He can’t really bring up how he’d felt—like he just really, really hadn’t wanted to reject the alpha, in any way. “But what does it mean,” he whines.

Hoseok snorts outright. “What does any of it mean? He’s interested.”

Jimin ducks his chin into the furs around his neck. “But why, though?”

“It's more of an older part of courting. He’s pretty intense as an alpha,” Hoseok murmurs. “Which would make sense, given his rank, but—Yoongi’s not exactly your average man, sweetie. He’s a little more… Well.”

Jimin flushes. “Instinctual?”

Hoseok nods and smiles. “That’s what he’s known as. There are some other things he’ll do, but you shouldn’t have any problem if you’re doing okay already.”

And that sends a little bit of anxiety through Jimin, but the naïve part of him—the part of him that’ll have him curling up with the furs he’s wearing tonight in bed—feels just a little bit excited. “I think I’ll be okay,” he admits.

“I’m glad—it’s kind of cute. The alpha who still follows courting rituals looking after the omega from the big beta city.” Jimin can’t help but crack a smile at the idea of the world’s general population as a single metropolis. Hoseok pushes a stray strand of hair back from his forehead. “He’s a really good alpha, Jiminie. He just wants to make sure you’re safe and protected.”

Jimin thinks he could use some of that.

He likes how highly everyone thinks of Yoongi, though—even if he’s grumpy and quiet, he’s still in first rank, close with the lead couple of the entire compound. It helps to make him feel safe, especially when Hoseok likes him so much.

“What should I do?” Jimin asks.

“Well.” Hoseok plants both palms on his desk and leans back. “Did you talk to Seokjin about the upcoming festival? There’s a little bit of routine that happens beforehand—that’s the Offering part of things.”

Jimin shakes his head, and Hoseok grins wickedly.

“I think you should start there.”

Chapter Text

“Offering festival? I didn’t tell you? I’m sorry,” Jin yells.

He’s chopping a fat bundle of what looks like green onion in preparation for the upcoming day’s meals. There’s a kettle screeching out a high whistle on the burner of the stove behind him, which is quickly taken by a short omega girl who Jimin thinks might be named Yoojung. To add to the chaos, there’s a line of six massive boiling broth pots to the omega’s left and a series of omegas peeling potatoes down his right side.

From across the counter, Jimin asks, a bit loudly over the chatter of the kitchen, “When would be a good time to ask you about it?”

“Just hold tight right there, sweetie, I’ll explain it all now,” comes the shouted response. Jimin sighs as imperceptibly as possible.

“Are you sure it’s a good time?”

“Of course!” He cuts of the last of the white bulb and throws the entire bundle into the farthest pot. From below the counter, the omega pulls out another bundle. “The alphas typically go on a hunt around the full moon, you know, so they’ll go out and do their virile nonsense on the sixth eve—,”

“Hunt animals?” Jimin asks. “Just for sport?”

“No, no,” Seokjin waves him off—with the knife—"For furs. It’s all a competition.”

“For?”

Jin’s eyebrows furrow. “Well, it used to be for omegas directly, but now it’s more of a dating thing.”

Jimin gives the lead omega a doubtful look.

“What?! It is!” Another bundle is thrown into the second pot, and another is picked up. “Alphas hunt for pelts, and line up by rank for the offering. That’s where you come in—and all the other unbonded omegas, of course—and line up. One by one, you choose a fur—and the associated alpha.”

“So omegas have to choose an alpha?” It still sounds fishy to Jimin.

“No,” Jin says seriously. “If you’re not interested in participating, you won’t have to. The same goes for alphas. But it sends a strong message, just so you know.”

Jimin shrugs. “I just have to pick a dead animal?” He already knows whose dead animal he’d like to pick—if he could work up the courage, anyways.

“Well, no,” Jin frowns. “You bring a gift with you to offer—something the alpha holds on to and brings to the festival to give back.”

“So that you’re guaranteed to meet at the festival,” Jimin finishes, catching on. So it really does rope into dating after all.

The omega, already cutting into the third bundle with impossibly increasing speed, nods. “It’s not my favorite tradition,” he admits. “It used to be that alphas would hunt and give their furs to just any omega they wanted, and that omega would have to be their mate. The biggest kill secured the omega in case multiple alphas fought over one omega—typical old-age nonsense. Of course, that was generations ago, even before the Separation, but I don’t know how I feel about the whole celebration being born out of that.”

“It doesn’t sound very fun,” Jimin admits.

“It’s honestly kind of stressful,” Seokjin admits. “Bonded alphas still have to line up while bonded omegas don’t select furs—which opens ground up for all sorts of drama. But my relationship with Joon started at an Offering, so while it’s hard for me to organize them now, I loved offering season back then.”

Jimin feels his expression fall into surprise. “So how did you guys get together, then?”

The third bundle is thrown. “Omegas had already asked for the furs of all my alpha family friends, and I wasn’t interested in anyone specific,” Seokjin shrugs. “I was walking down the line, and I was one of the last because we go from last to first rank, and Namjoon was one of the only alphas left. He’d taken down some really gorgeous marbled foxes, and I at least thought I could use my face to get some nice furs.”

“What did you offer him?”

“Nothing. I told him that seeing my face at the festival should be good enough.”

The omega peeling potatoes beside Jin snorts.

“It was good, though,” Seokjin smiles. “He was very excited when we met and the conversation was nice, so I ended up giving him a fair chance instead.”

Jimin wants to smile stupidly. “That’s so cute,” he coos.

“No, I don’t think so,” Jin says resignedly. He reaches for the next batch of onions.

“You don’t?” That leaves Jimin very confused.

“I don’t.” Seokjin turns dramatically and looks straight at him with a smirk. “I think that what’s sweet is Min Yoongi telling Joon that he’ll joining in the Offering Season hunt—for the first time.”

The omega beside him looks sharply at Jin’s face, pony-tail whipping out and eyes widening in surprise. She nearly removes her own nail with the potato peeler.

“I think it might have something to do with the omega he gave his furs to. Do you know who that might be?”

Jimin curls into himself, face red hot with flaming mortification.

Seokjin laughs—a few wipes of a window—and raps the back of his knife against the counter so that any remaining onion scraps will fall. “You might want to think about what you should give him,” the omega warns, wiping tears from his eyes. Jimin’s not sure if it’s out of mirth or onion fumes.

 

 

Jimin has absolutely no idea what he should give to the alpha, so he heads to the one omega who might.

“So how does it feel?” Hoseok asks.

Jimin looks over himself in the full-length mirror of Hoseok’s room. “A little too revealing,” he admits.

For perhaps the hundredth time, Hoseok nods and turns around to dig through the absolutely massive chest that sits before the end of his bed. The top wooden lid had been flipped on its hinge, and hanging over the edge of it are multiple silks and scarves, each with metallic patterns and ornate lace trims according to the design.

“Don’t worry,” Hoseok says calmly. His voice slightly muffled as he continues to dig through folded silks covered in labeled thin sheets of what looks to be something like tissue paper. “It might feel like you’ve been looking forever, but I get a gross amount of these from alphas.”

Jimin can still see that the chest is still well over half full—he’s not worried that he’ll find something, but that he’ll be too frustrated. “I’m not worried,” he offers, and smiles. “I’m just impatient is all.”

Hoseok laughs. “I usually start picking through these a week in advance to avoid that. How do you feel about pink?”

Jimin’s nose crinkles. “That’s a little…”

“Understandable.” The omega throws three tissue-covered squares off to his left side, where a steady pile is building. Jimin quickly stacks a few up once he’s done stripping down again.

“So you want sleeves, yeah? Any other preferences?”

Jimin shrugs, but realizes that Hoseok won’t be able to see him with his head buried in the chest. “If I can avoid a lot of beading, that would be nice, but anything is fine really.”

The omega hums. “Something simple, yeah? Is red too bold?”

“Uhm.” Jimin's apprehensive at the vibrancy, but with a more conservative cut… “Could I see it?”

Hoseok continues to rummage through the chest. “It’s more of a dark red, but you might think it’s too much,” he mumbles.

Jimin continues to stack and fold silk costumes until he feels heavy tissue paper land on his back. He turns, jolted, only to see Hoseok’s arm outstretched like he’d thrown it. He snorts. “Nice,” he comments.

The omega just laughs.

Unlike previous bundles, though, this one doesn’t seem to have such opaque tissue paper—Jimin can see warm tones pulling through the white of the cover. In folding back the tin paper, his first idea is to give a fat “no” to the shade.

“It’s the most conservative thing I’ve got,” Hoseok warns.

Jimin pulls the silk out of its cover.

The color of the silk is definitely shocking—Jimin can tell that the fabric has been run through dye multiple times, in a rich and vibrant red color. Hoseok is right, though—the top covers more and has less lace paneling than previous suits. Dubiously, he pulls on the pants first, and then struggles his limbs through the top without pulling or wearing on the delicate material.

When his hands pull through the lace that details the ends of the sleeves and his head is finally free, he turns to Hoseok first. But the omega is giving him an impressed once-over wordlessly, so Jimin looks down at himself, finds that the color looks pretty good against his skin, and turns toward the mirror.

“That’ll do it,” Hoseok murmurs, and Jimin agrees.

He feels a lot of relief looking at himself in the mirror. The color of the silk and the delicate lace trims is vibrant, but not overwhelming, and the cropped top covers at least a substantial section of his ribcage. The pants sit high enough to offer some coverage—even if he isn’t particularly shy about his midsection—and the sleeves are long enough to hit the wrist. But he’s not really sure about the neckline—the nonexistent one.

“Isn’t it a bit much?” Jimin brushes over the bare skin of his shoulders absentmindedly.

Hoseok can be seen in the mirror visibly shrugging from behind him. “You’d look like an elder if you didn’t at least show off your neck,” he teases.

There’s something nudging at the back of his mind, telling him that wearing something completely off the shoulder might be a bit much, but he trusts Hoseok’s opinion. “You don’t think it’s too much to show—you know—my neck?

“I’ve never worn something like it before, but others have," the omega assures.

Jimin shrugs. A part of him still feels like it might not be the best idea, but he really likes that the beading around the edge of the sleeves and pant legs is especially delicate. “Could I borrow them?”

The omega smiles. “I already said you could,” he teases, and ruffles Jimin’s hair before ambling over piles of tissue paper to a large vanity. While the omega picks through his blankets, Jimin stacks the outfits he’d managed to re-fold back into the omega’s chest.

“You should wear some of my earrings,” Hoseok says, opening and shifting through various jewelry containers. “Or would you prefer to wear the ones you have?”

Jimin, who had forgotten he was wearing jewelry entirely, has to feel against the lobes of his ears to realize that he’d been wearing a pair of cross earrings from his mother. “I forgot I was wearing them,” he offers.

“I take it you’re fine with wearing mine, then,” says Hoseok. He pulls out from a small marble square what must be either a fifth or sixth pair, and approaches Jimin with the lot inside his hand. “Stand still for me, really quick.”

The omega holds several pieces up to his ear in quick succession, sorting likes and dislikes each into one hand or the other. “Sorry, I don’t really have any crosses or anything. I’m not personally religious,” he says.

Jimin’s eyebrows furrow. “I’m not really either,” he says. “They’re kind of just an accessory.”

The omega’s brows shoot up. “I thought it was a religious thing for betas? To wear a cross? Or a star inside the moon?”

And then it clicks. “Uhm, sometimes, but it can really just be an accessory.”

Hoseok’s clearly done deciding, if the way he’s removing Jimin’s earrings and putting in his own is any indication. Jimin expects a response, but instead the omega just nods in acknowledgement, and reaches over top of Jimin’s head to snag a red headscarf from the top of his mirror.

“This should look good,” he murmurs instead, and positions the scarf delicately overtop Jimin’s head.

And it does; the scarf itself is made of the same red lace and is trimmed with silk and delicate beading. They’re clearly a matching set. It’s a bit more extravagant than he’d normally go for, but it works together so Jimin doesn’t feel too nervous about wearing everything in the public eye—especially considering its purpose.

“Throw on some smudging around the eyes and you should be good.” The omega smiles at him in satisfaction and props a fist onto his hip. “How do you feel?”

“Not bad,” Jimin admits. He feels pretty, but he won’t admit to that. “I have to learn the dance first, though—,” but Hoseok waves him off with a smug smirk.

“We’ll take care of that,” he promises. “On to more important things—are you planning to tell Yoongi about your performance?”

Jimin pauses. “Uhm?” he shifts and tries to think about it. “I wasn’t about to tell him, but if it came up, I wouldn’t lie?”

“You should lie,” Hoseok says, seriously.

Jimin gives him a very confused look.

“Lie,” he repeats, though, shifting his weight. “Keep it a secret.”

Jimin squints. “Why?”

Hoseok reaches out, grabs the end of the scarf hanging off of Jimin’s head, and waves it in the air. “You haven’t thought of a gift for the Offering, yeah? Give him this. Let him figure out that you’ll be performing on his own.”

And that would be a fun surprise and all, if Jimin were the type to do that sort of thing—

“—Just do it,” Hoseok says seriously. He’s giving an encouraging smile, fingers still gripping the end of the scarf. “You asked me what you should do, yeah?”

And yeah, he had. “I think that’s a little much, though,” he debates.

Hoseok gives him a knowing look. “Did you have any other ideas?”

Jimin sighs quietly. “Can we just start dancing?” he asks, trying not to show how exasperated he is. “All this prep and no practice is making me anxious.”

He receives a shrug in response. “I guess we should head out then. I’ll have you ready in no time.”

 

 

And, as Jimin comes to learn, Hoseok makes good on his promise—he’s an amazing dancer.

The omega first shows Jimin the routine in its entirety once without music entirely, which Jimin finds to be very unusual but not unwelcome. He looks traditionally pretty in this routine, which involves a lot less harsh movement and a lot more fluidity. It doesn’t really suit the omega’s personal style, but it still looks very well-done; it looks especially good, Jimin thinks, considering that it’s a little bit more based in his own forte of contemporary dance.

Jimin had secretly anticipated that learning his routine would be easy; he’d had years of training in contemporary dance, and figured he’d end up picking the steps quickly enough and need more help practicing for fluency than anything else. And really, he’d be fine—

“Kick out swiftly with the right leg, land with weight on the ball of the right foot, and shift extend the left foot, it’s kind of a pah-pah-pah rhythm, into your turn—,”

kick to change with right hip bent into prep tendu for à la seconde,—

—if he weren’t constantly trying to translate the omega’s instructions in his head.

“Do you think you could show me?” Jimin cuts in. He’s admittedly a little frustrated, and feels like he’s being a little bit bratty. The whole thing has him feeling like he isn’t respecting Hoseok and it’s putting a downer on his attitude. They’re speaking in completely different terms, and his teacher hasn’t bothered to count—or even play the track—leaving Jimin feeling relatively in the dark.

Hoseok straightens up. “You mean the entire dance?”

Jimin rolls out a shoulder. The smooth floor of the old school building is cold under his feet. They’d rolled up all the rugs and stacked desks, making use of available space that wasn’t Hoseok’s usual practice room: Yoongi’s work room. “Maybe just the first fifteen seconds or so? I’m having a hard time; it’s usually explained to me differently—I think I should try to watch the moves and copy them.”

The omega seems to think on it for a second, but nods. “I’ll grab the speaker and drag it in here,” he says, and jogs out of the room.

With Hoseok running off, Jimin is finally able to lie back against the cold flooring and spread out his limbs. Walking through the motions of the routine so slowly had pulled on the strength of his very retired core muscles, drawing on abdominals he hadn’t used in a long time. The frustrating part, of course, is knowing that he doesn’t really have any of it put together.

Still, the perfectionist part of him leads to retracing of steps, even while lying on his back. He knows from Hoseok that performing like this is a big deal in the compound, and he’s clearly being trusted with a lot of responsibility by dancing a solo whereas others had danced in groups. That’s what really has him retracing over all the moves he’d been shown, even if he has no real sense of their count or rhythm. Jimin is hoping that the exercise will at least help him from stopping still during transitions.

Eventually, though, the omega comes back in with an absolutely massive boombox thrown over one shoulder, and Jimin straightens right up. He’s confident that this will be a relatively easy process—Hoseok can tell too.

“Be careful,” he says, looking at Jimin in the modestly sized mirror they’d propped up. “We haven’t even strung up the candles yet.”

Jimin groans—he hadn’t even thought about the tea lights.

 

 

That practice turns into more practices and more preparation—before long, Jimin’s spending the majority of his day busy. It’s not that he dislikes the work; Seokjin had been thrilled to hear that Jimin planned to perform, giving him a hug and several offers to excuse him from shift. But the days bleeding together give a much needed routine and a very necessary mental break from all the excitement of Min Yoongi.

A part of Jimin had wanted to let himself sit down for a meal and see what the alpha would do—if he’d press up against Jimin again, or even feed him again—but there’s a lot to be done and he knows for a fact that Jin has been talking up how busy Jimin has been to the dinner table. That at least gives him some buffer from the alpha’s watchful gaze; it was much easier to keep a secret with his boss covering him.

He has also been avoiding the kitchens purely out of not wanting to spill his guts and mention his performance—Jimin knows for a fact that if he were to sit down next to the alpha, the nerves would get to him and he’d ramble out all of his plans. That alone has him making grab-and-go stops for food.

Eventually, though, a meeting is inevitable; the day before the offering, Jimin is stepping out of the school house after a dress practice late at night when he sees the alpha walking past the building.

Jimin’s first thought when the alpha turns and looks at him is pure panic; he completely forgets, for a second, that he’d already changed out of his costume even before Hoseok had decided to head back to the den. A quick look down confirms, though, that Jimin is just wearing his standard clothing—plus the alpha’s furs, which is slightly embarrassing.

“Good evening,” he stutters. It sounds too formal; Jimin wants to cringe at himself.

Yoongi’s eyes fall briefly from his eyes to the coat and back. “Good evening,” he responds, humoring Jimin. “How have you been?”

Jimin grips the leather of the bag over his shoulder. “Busy, but good,” he answers, and wraps one arm around his own waist against the furs. The feeling isn’t as comforting as he needs, but he’ll take anything he can get. “I’m sure you’ve heard about it from Jin.”

The alpha nods. “I hope you’ve been getting a lot of rest,” he says. Jimin doesn’t think he’ll ever be used to the low pitch of his voice.

Jimin nods. “I’ve been getting enough sleep,” he offers noncommittally.

Yoongi stops, shifts his shoulders, and slips his hands inside the pockets of his jeans. The movement is so uncharacteristic of him that Jimin is struggling to decipher it until he sees the slight pink dusting the man’s cheeks.

“Can I walk you home?” Yoongi offers, for the second time.

For the second time, Jimin wants to say yes, but hesitates and looks down. “I’ll be okay, it’s not far.”

“It’s not,” Yoongi emphasizes. “It wouldn’t be inconvenient at all.”

And Jimin can’t really argue with that—doesn’t want to, either. He stalls as much as he can without creating pause by shifting the bag over his shoulder, but at that, the alpha steps forward into the light cast down by the front porch light of the schoolroom.

“I’ll take that,” he’s saying, and then the weight is gone. It hadn’t been a heavy weight at all—just his costume and some sewing supplies to finish up Hoseok’s alterations, but the proximity the interaction brings has Jimin’s breath hitching just a bit more.

Even though the air is crisp and wintery he can smell the warmth of Yoongi’s scent; it doubles the heaviness of his tongue. “Thank you,” he manages, and tries not to think about how the alpha is literally holding the evidence of Jimin’s secret in his hands.

“Of course,” Yoongi says seriously, and reaches up to hook the final closure at the top of his furs. The warmth Jimin feels at that can’t all be from just one additional button—especially when then the fingers linger there, for a moment, and brush against the skin of his neck just above the collar.

“I heard you’ve been up late helping Seokjin prepare for the festival,” he murmurs. The soft yellow light of the building’s lamp is doing wonders for his features, Jimin thinks.

It takes a moment for Jimin to catch on—to realize that Jin must have given that as his cover story. “I have,” he stutters. “There’s a lot of preparation to do.”

Yoongi’s thumb brushes over his skin again before those hands pull away. “It’s a good thing that you finished early enough tonight,” the alpha rumbles. His voice is bleeding into something raspy that has Jimin’s entire body relaxing a little farther into Yoongi’s space. “You should stay in tonight, no matter what you might hear.”

It sounds a little overdramatic and ominous to Jimin—until his mental calendar catches up when they start to walk at a surprisingly relaxed pace in the direction of the omegean den. “Oh,” he starts. “You’re heading out for the Offering hunt tonight, aren’t you?”

Yoongi nods. “I am.” He turns to look at Jimin then, cutting off the very nice view of his jawline but instead fixing those dark eyes on Jimin. He looks back down at the collar of the furs around his neck, and exhales sharply. Jimin’s about to ask what might be wrong, but the alpha speaks up first.

“Will you be at the Offering?”

Jimin very narrowly avoids falling flat on his face over a branch on the path in front of them.

He can feel his checks tightening up with an unavoidable blush. He thanks a higher power internally; the den is coming into view very quickly in front of them. “I will be,” he admits. He’s starting to feel that same headspace coming on; the tingling awareness at the back of his neck is beginning to spread down his limbs.

He slows down—they’re just a couple of feet from the front steps of the den, and he needs to somehow transition into goodbyes. Yoongi is very obviously holding back from saying something, though; his jaw is tense and his eyes are narrowed like he’s conflicted. Just as Jimin has built up the courage to say something, though, the alpha’s eyes snap to something to the left of Jimin’s eyes.

“These are new,” he remarks.

Jimin doesn’t absorb the meaning of the comment until Yoongi’s hand is gently brushing past his cheek and over his ear. When he feels the alpha’s finger tracing from one piercing down the chain that links to the other, Jimin feels mortification rushing through his body—he’s still wearing Hoseok’s long earrings. He’d completely forgotten to remove them in his haste to get home.

It's a high moment of panic, both from the alpha being so close and from potentially having been caught, that it takes too long for Jimin to decide what to say. Instead of debating between lying and spilling the beans, he spits out: “They’re Hoseok’s.”

The alpha’s jaw is still tense. “They weren’t given to you indirectly?” From an alpha, Jimin thinks he’s implying.

“No!” He blurts. “Hoseok told me to borrow them—to see if I like them.”

Yoongi seems to relax automatically. Jimin is hoping, praying that explanation will be enough; it isn’t, but not in the way he’s expecting. “Do you like to have these sorts of things?”

Jimin pauses. “What?” he asks, because he doesn’t have the slightest idea of what the alpha could be getting at.

The man is still looking back and forth between his ears, although he does pull his hand back. “Do you like things like this? Things that are less simple?”

“Uhm.” Jimin wracks his brain for possible explanations. “Not really?”

Yoongi’s eyes move straight to his, prompting Jimin to say something more. Jimin just hopes he won’t look too stupid trying to keep up with the flow of a basic conversation—it’s still too difficult to be around the alpha for very long without letting the tension suffocate him.

“I don’t really own things like this,” Jimin says.

With a serious expression: “Would you want to?”

And that’s when Yoongi’s hinting at other alphas starts to piece together with the other conversation. Understanding must show on his face, because that’s the moment when Yoongi takes a sharp inhale.

“I like what I have right now,” Jimin hints. His face must be burning; he can feel the embarrassment running through him full-body at being so obvious. He curls his hands into fists and pulls them up all the way into the sleeves of Yoongi’s coat.

The man himself just nods once in a quick movement. “They don’t seem like something you’d own,” he offers.

“They’re not,” Jimin confirms, and the alpha’s jaw visibly relaxes.

Yoongi looks quickly down again at the collar of the furs—or is it Jimin’s neck?—and back up again. “Remember to stay inside tonight, even if you hear anything alarming,” he warns again.

Jimin nods and gives the most genuine small smile he can manage. “I will,” he promises. “I’ll be sleeping anyways.”

“That’s good to hear,” Yoongi rumbles, and Jimin thinks he might have actually gotten away with this one. “Well,” he continues, “I won’t keep you up.”

Jimin wouldn’t mind if the alpha did, really, but he knows he needs to crash and get as much sleep as possible before the upcoming chaos. “Goodnight, then,” he says instead, and wraps his arms around himself.

The alpha nods. Jimin dawdles a bit of course, remaining in the man’s space as long as possible, but eventually he has to pull away. He likes the way Yoongi‘s jaw clenches when he finally does move to patter up the stairs.

Once he has one of the massive front doors opened just slightly, he exhales and looks over his shoulder to find that the man hadn’t moved an inch. “Yoongi,” he starts. His heart’s pounding in his ears.

The alpha makes a questioning hum. Jimin thinks distantly that it’s cute how the man is waiting for him to get inside safely, but instead, he grips onto the wood of the door and promises, “I’ll see you tomorrow at the Offering.”

And he’s nervous, so nervous, but watching realization take over the alpha’s features is what has Jimin grinning widely before he closes the door of the den quickly behind him. He’s glad, as he removes his shoes and starts to head through the common living space to his room, that he’d come in quickly enough before Yoongi could say anything—

“Ahem.”

Jimin nearly screams when he turns around. There, sitting on the couch with graded papers strewn about, is Seokjin. Jimin feels almost doubly embarrassed at the raised eyebrow the omega is giving him.

But thankfully, he’s let off the hook: “Shouldn’t you be getting some sleep?” The omega adjusts his mug. “Tomorrow we go down bright and early for the Offering.”

Jimin nods sheepishly. Jin clucks his tongue and smiles. “How was your dress rehearsal?” he asks.

“It went well,” Jimin answers, beginning to unclasp the closures of Yoongi’s furs. The fireplace of the living room has a surprising throw. “Everything was fine, but it wasn’t on the actual stage, of course, so we don’t have much wind or anything to practice with the tea lights.”

It has him kind of worried, in all honesty, but he’d practiced his routine so many times he knows the heavy beat of the song even backwards. There’s nothing more he can do; even he himself realizes that.

“You’ll be fine, though,” Seokjin says, and Jimin agrees. “You and the others have worked hard. Hobi teaches how to manipulate and avoid those strings just fine.”

“I feel prepared,” Jimin admits. That comfort is nice to have, with all of the other chaos going on. “But what about you? Do you need any help?”

The omega sighs. “No, I just couldn’t sleep,” he says. “These are the assignments we received back before the break, so I’m grading ahead of schedule again.”

“Are you worried?” Jimin can’t offer much advice, but at least he knows what it’s like.

But Jin just sighs again. “Maybe.” He starts to stack up his papers delicately. “I should take my own advice, though; I’ll follow you and head to bed, so go on ahead.”

Jimin wonders if he should say something more, but ultimately he thinks that Seokjin might need the sleep more than he does. He gives his goodnight and heads into his room; thankfully, he hears his neighbor’s door close not long after.

Knowing that at least the omega will get some sleep gives him the mind not to think too much about Yoongi and try for some himself, but rest is less easy to come by this night.

In the end, he sleeps with the alpha’s furs yet again and wakes up several times throughout the night searching for the scent on them in order to sleep. He dreams, for the first time in a long time; subconscious images of alpha wolves hunting down prey and howling are given free reign. He supposes it would make sense, given that half of the adult compound is out for the night. But Jimin has been trying to deny the wolf aspect of his own genes for so long.

When a particularly nasty nightmare of violent images wakes him up, Jimin can just barely see the tiniest sliver of sun peeking through the base of the trees outside his window; it must be around four in the morning.

He has a feeling this hadn’t been what Seokjin had meant when he’d said “bright and early,” but Jimin won’t be able to go back to sleep, so he takes a bath regardless and sets about his morning routine. By the time he’s dressed, though, there’s a light creaking suggesting that the hall above him is awake—maybe Jimin’s internal clock wasn’t so far off.

In fact, it definitely wasn’t—there are a massive amount of omegas piled into the living room when Jimin exits his room. Their excited laughter tells Jimin that this event might be more important than he’d realized—the feeling of the room could only be compared to a school social from Jimin’s previous experience. Even Taehyung, who Jimin previously thought would never get up at dawn for anything, is already prattling excitedly to Hoseok in the exact spot his brother had taken the night before. When Jimin walks over to them, he has to squeeze through groups of excited omegas talking loudly amongst themselves.

“Good morning,” he says when he finally reaches them. He’s still feeling sleepy himself, and slips right into the space between the two to steal a cuddle or two.

Hoseok, who seems to understand what Jimin is looking for, wraps both arms around him and gives him a hug that feels incredibly comforting.

Taehyung slides right up as well. “What are you giving to Yoongi?” He demands excitedly.

Jimin presses his lips together and reaches into the pocket of the alpha’s furs, which he’d finally decided to bring with him after a slight debate. When Jimin reaches for them, Hoseok snickers.

“You’re wearing an alpha’s furs to an Offering? At least let them think they have a chance,” Hoseok teases.

Jimin feels embarrassed, but shrugs. He’s not about to give his gift to someone else, so he figures it doesn’t matter. He’s more concerned with being warm, and doesn’t want to go back to wearing thin sweaters around with increasingly dropping temperatures.

“I’m giving him the scarf from my costume,” Jimin says, and pulls out a section of the delicate fabric from the pocket.

Taehyung makes a surprised but definitely impressed sound. “That’ll be cute,” he croons. “The meet-up time is before performances anyways. He’ll get to complete your costume.”

Jimin just shrugs again. “What are you giving?”

Taehyung taps his shoes against the wood flooring in quick succession. “My heat is due in just a couple of days max. I’m giving him the empty box of the birth control I took for it.”

Jimin chokes on his own spit—even Hoseok is coughing violently. “Subtle,” Hoseok rasps.

“I thought you couldn’t mate?” Jimin says, throat thick and eyes watery. He coughs a couple of times.

“Not officially,” Taehyung says. “Nothing the elders say can keep me off of that knot, though, bite or none.”

Jimin’s throat closes around another series of coughs. Hoseok groans.

“Well,” Jimin manages, “I wish you the best.”

Taehyung smiles at Jimin in a way that’s too sweet and genuine given the conversation. He turns to Hoseok. “Who are you going for this time, Hobi?”

The omega shrugs and twists the chain of his necklace so that the clasp no longer brushes against the pendant. “I’m not sure yet, actually,” he contemplates. “I thought about Sana, from Dahyun’s group, but I might just get back with Heeyeon.”

“Heeyeon from Solji’s pack?” Taehyung hums. “Wasn’t she your heat partner for a while?”

Hoseok nods. “I have one coming up in a few weeks, so I thought it might be best if I started now.”

Taehyung hums in agreement, nodding. Jimin shifts, feeling slightly uncomfortable. Having recently presented, his cycle hasn’t become regular yet; he has yet to have his first full heat as well.

Hoseok notices the movement but just smiles at Jimin, thankfully. He looks like he might have said something, if not for Seokjin entering into the front and sorting what looks to be a very long list over top of a clipboard.

Jimin expects the omega to clear his throat before beginning what must be an instructional speech of some sort. Instead, he turns towards the main coffee table of the space and throws his paper down. The room falls quiet at that, and Jimin can see that the clipboard in Seokjin’s hands is actually a children’s book from the schoolroom.

“Shut up,” he says, despite the silence in the room.

Hoseok shoots Jimin and Taehyung a panicked and shocked look. Taehyung, though, seems entirely unphased.

“Anyways,” Seokjin starts, and sets the book on the table. Jimin’s surprised; the omega’s tone has surprising authority. “Remember to group up by rank. There’s no need for strict lines; I’ll pull everyone out like I did last season—that was a lot easier.”

There’s a small murmur of approval. Hoseok whispers into Jimin’s ear not to worry—he’ll apparently be lining up with both him and Taehyung.

“Make sure you bring your gifts, everyone! There’s a lot to do and if you miss out on participating then we won’t be waiting around; those animals will need to be moved and cleaned as quickly as possible.”

Jimin makes a face, which he can hear Taehyung snicker at.

“And lastly,” Jin buttons up the last of the closures of his furs, “Don’t give my Joon any of your nasty gifts. I don’t want things to get ugly.”

With that, the omega turns, leaving the rest to follow and leaving Jimin extremely confused as to what he’s actually supposed to do during the event.

The air is still freezing form its overnight drop when they begin to file out of the den and start towards what Jimin overhears will be the elder’s den. He’s especially glad he’d worn Yoongi’s furs; the air is so cold still that his eyes water up the tiniest bit with the air. Thankfully, though, everything aside from his face is protected by the insulation of the pelts.

Because there are so many headed towards the building, the actual walk is much slower than it needs to be. Jimin tries to distract himself by linking arms with Taehyung and listening to him, but his mind keeps going back to his performance—he’s going over the where’s and the what’s of the stage in his head, reviewing what he should do if the wind picks up and dodging the stranded tealights becomes more difficult.

But finally, when the elder’s house comes into view, Jimin is offered enough distraction to pull him out of his own head. Unfortunately, however, that distraction is a scent.

As soon as they approach the house, the sickly metallicky smell of blood hits his nose—and it reeks.

“Ugh,” he complains to Taehyung.

Hoseok gives him a concerned look from the omega’s other side. “What’s wrong?”

“It smells,” Jimin groans, bringing his sleeve up to his nose.

“What?” Taehyung takes an obvious sniff at the air. “I can’t smell—ick, you’re right, it is a little bit smelly. I never noticed that before.”

Jimin had known from his sense diagnostics—in his time before coming to the compound, after having presented—that his nose would be a fair bit more sensitive than average, but he looks at Taehyung incredulously regardless. “That doesn’t smell like absolute ass to you?”

Hoseok shrugs. “I don’t smell anything, but hey—ass can smell pretty good at the peak of a cycle.”

Jimin focuses on breathing through the filter of the furs until they begin to approach the far side of the den where Jimin can see, just close enough, the beginning of a long line of alphas—each with carcasses lying on the grass by their feet. Jimin feels his stomach turn and is immensely thankful he hadn’t eaten yet that morning. He has a feeling he won’t be eating for a while after, either.

As soon as the front of the omegean group hits level with the back of the alpha’s line, the former immediately begins to sort into groups, taking up loose positions within small packs of friends that give Jimin particular feelings of discomfort. Having grown up outside the compound, ranking amongst friends seems not only unnecessary but morally wrong. But clearly, individual packs have no issue with it.

Taehyung pulls Jimin to a stop when he starts to approach too close by pulling him back with their interlocked arms. “We’re in the last group,” Taehyung explains. “Congrats, blah, blah. blah—I was supposed to tell you a lot earlier, but you’re first rank, now. It doesn’t really mean anything like it does for alphas, just shows you’re friends with my brother.”

Jimin feels moderately uncomfortable at that news, especially with Hoseok resting against Taehyung and listening in obviously. “Isn’t that a little unfair?”

Taehyung raises an eyebrow. “Isn’t you being forced into coming here a little unfair?”

And Jimin certainly can’t argue with that, or the idea of grouping with his friends as opposed to people he doesn’t have any knowledge about.

That question ends up putting him into deep thought again, but he does at least make the effort to distract himself by scanning the environment. Other than the fact that the kills are on tarps and there’s a row of elders looking over the proceedings from the den’s balcony, he can’t see much of interest. He’s just about to start stressing again until Seokjin finally steps up a ways in front of the omegean line and into the first stretch of alphas. Taehyung sighs when he sees his brother pull out a folded piece of paper from his pocket.

“He hears this a lot,” Hoseok explains.

“You’re damn right I do,” the other omega grumbles, and right as he finishes, his brother starts to speak—

Alright!,” he’s projecting—and very well—“I already gave omegas the most important rule, so let’s go over a few guidelines! I’ll keep this short for the sake of the elders, but reminders are key nonetheless!”

Taehyung whines.

“Remember to pace yourself down the line until you reach your chosen fur!” Seokjin calls, in the direction of his own rank. “You might be involved with an alpha, but each alpha here worked very hard to secure their kill for pelting. Next! All Offers should be appropriate for the sight of pups!

Jin’s definitely looking straight at Taehyung on that one.

“Most importantly!” The omega turns, “Alphas may receive multiple gifts, but may only meet one omega at the festival—that’s for all you two-timing muts out here.”

Jimin can hear a collective but sheepish laugh.

Seokjin folds his sheet of paper back up and slips it into his pocket—Jimin watches the sand color disappear into the white of his coat. “I think that’s about it,” he calls. “We all know what to say and how to exchange, so let’s start!”

Jimin does not know what to say or how to exchange.

He elbows Taehyung. “What do I say?” he hisses.

Taehyung shrugs. “You’re a newbie; you’ll be fine,” he says.

Jimin wants to strangle him.

Hoseok peers around Taehyung’s back and reaches out for Jimin’s hand to pull him over. Jimin gives Taehyung an exasperated look as he passes over to the side of the other omega.

“Just watch, first, and then I’ll explain,” Hoseok promises.

So Jimin watches a tall omega with a long black braid step forward, at Seokjin’s indication, and pull what could be a very loose and delicate bracelet off of her wrist. Jimin can’t see any details from how far back he is, of course, but he can get the gist of general outlines.

“She won’t go far up the line,” Hoseok explains. “She’s not attached to a specific alpha of higher rank, and her own rank is the lowest.”

Jimin thinks far back to his own knowledge of Yoongi—Namjoon had mentioned that he was in the first rank of alphas, back when Jimin had first come to compound. But did their ranks match up evenly?

Well, Jimin figures it’s too late.

Hoseok is right, though—the girl stops short of maybe the tenth alpha and offers him her gift. The alpha holds out his hand, surprisingly, and she puts it on for him.

“Clothing items are typically put on,” Hoseok comments. Jimin nods.

Then, in an act that freaks Jimin out just slightly at his own prospects with Yoongi, she presses a kiss directly to the alpha’s cheek and pulls back to say something which Jimin definitely cannot hear.

“Then we finish up the process by giving a little attention,” Hoseok says cheerily. “You should be good, though—that was a bit bold of her. Just put on the scarf and you’ll be fine.”

Jimin exhales, shakily, in relief. “What did she say at the end?”

“’Good hunting, alpha.’ You should say this too, once you’ve handed it over.”

Jimin swallows thickly. “Okay,” he says, and from there on out, it’s a waiting game.

One by one, Seokjin pulls omegas from their groups and patiently waits as they travel down the line. As ranks increase, so does the average length of time—although there are a few outliers in which omegas offer gifts to alphas who are clearly well below their own rank.

Jimin’s anxiety is steadily increasing, but the strong part of himself that takes over in times of stress is also at least helping to give him a calm look from the outside. At the very least, he has an external grip on himself while he practices every single possible conversation in his head. He watches the groups leading up to his go, and he watches the group beside his go, and finally Seokjin approaches his group. Jimin is ready to go first, throat tight, but Taehyung skips ahead. “You’re going last,” he says, and skips past his brother onto the line of alphas.

Jimin watches him completely ignore and bypass each alpha without so much as a glance, heading far down the line where Jimin can’t make out features or even the animals of each alpha’s kill. Jimin wonders how far down that line Yoongi will be.

Hoseok shakes his head at Taehyung’s antics, though, and steps forward as Taehyung slowly disappears over the curve of a slight hill in the field. “What a brat,” he laughs, and steps past Jimin. Seokjin waves him out after directing an exhausted look at his brother.

Hoseok turns back to Jimin. “Well, do Jin proud—you’re in his old spot.”

Jimin wants to demand what on earth that could mean, but then the omega is already walking out to the line of alphas.

He really takes his time, looking over each fur and each alpha like he’s assessing his options—which Jimin thinks is very cool, but also feels is absolutely terrifying for his anxiety. While Jimin waits, the only omega left with a gift to offer, Hoseok smiles and greets the occasional alpha before moving onto the next with each alpha looking disappointed after the fact. Hoseok, Jimin thinks, might be kind of a flirt. He thinks it’s impressive.

Eventually, though, Hoseok makes his way down the line too, and Seokjin turns toward Jimin with an eyebrow raised. So from there on out all Jimin can do is gulp on his own stress and cross over to the other line on weak legs.

It all really starts from the very second Jimin walks up to the line.

He watches their backs stiffen like boards when he approaches with his chosen offering—the scarf, hanging from his hand and folded over just once—and he feels very small as they look down on him. Some of the tallest alphas are so much taller that Jimin feels like a child—Kim Mingyu, one of the first in line, is so tall that Jimin has a hard time even thinking of him as the same species. He shudders a little as he passes down the line.

It's a pretty unspoken rule that alphas line up first with their kills behind them—which Jimin appreciates, given that he still isn’t quite used to the stench and he isn’t a fan of seeing lifeless animals. Jimin is surprised to see so many women overtaking the majority as he walks further down the line, trying to find Yoongi's scent through all of the pheromones. A particularly intimidating alpha named Hwasa winks suggestively at him when he passes, which has his face turning red.

It feels embarrassing to admit it to himself, but they're definitely giving him more outright attention than they had with the others, even with Taehyung and Hoseok—which Jimin finds especially strange considering that Hoseok is unmated and definitely gorgeous. He understands with Taehyung, who's attached to Jeongguk at the hip.

But they're all openly scenting after him, with a few even brushing over their own scent glands to provoke more pheromones. Jimin picks up his pace a bit at that, from a slow nervous walk to at least a moderate pace. He's moving past alphas—and their kills—a bit faster than the others had, especially with the way a few are even clenching their hands into fists. He knows that his scent should be strong as a late-bloomer, but the attention is beginning to seem ridiculous given his coat and newness to the compound.

When he passes a pretty alpha he knows through Taehyung by the name Jennie, he accidentally makes eye contact. Jimin knows he made the wrong move when her shoulders square—instantly, she's growling openly in a way that might be attractively dominant to others but scares the absolute shit out of Jimin. He freezes right there in panic. It seems to trigger neighboring alphas into growling too, letting out low rumbles that only serve to stress the hell out of Jimin, until finally, a snarl way down the line cuts through it all and the alphas are left cutting back their growls.

"Yoongi," he guesses, right out loud, and immediately walks straight down the line without sparing anyone else the common courtesy he'd tried to extend before. It's a little rude, but he figures he has a pass as the resident foreigner. It helps that he's able to pass right on by Chanyeol without even a glance—he’s still feeling petty about the alpha’s comments from the previous festival.

When he finally sees the last ten or so of the line and spots fluffy black hair, he nearly stops again.

Yoongi is at the very end of the line—the very last alpha, even after Jeongguk.

Even after Namjoon.

"Uhm," he says, and looks back between Jeongguk and Namjoon. But Namjoon is smiling and laughing a little at Jimin's hesitance, and nods in the alpha’s direction. So that at least gives him the courage to step forward towards Yoongi, whose growling seems to decrease the closer Jimin gets. Then he looks behind the alpha, and he gets it.

"You—a bear," is all he can say.

Bears, he should say, because there are multiple. Three jet black heads, he counts, all with torn throats directly beneath.

The alpha is looking straight into his eyes, even with Jimin unable to maintain eye contact. "They're for you," he says.

Jimin, who had never seen a dead animal up close before that morning, is admittedly freaked out by that. It takes him a second to realize that Yoongi means the furs themselves, and that Yoongi hadn't just gone to kill an animal and show Jimin his favor. Jimin reasons that the furs are for warmth—just like the furs and blankets the alpha had already given to him. Jimin has to really take a second to rationalize and let the feelings of disturbance pass. He takes three deep breaths, and reaches for his scarf.

"And this is for you," he says quietly. Yoongi's growl has muted into a very quiet rumbling sound that gives Jimin chills. "If you'll take it?"

Idiot, he thinks, because he’s almost positive none of the others had asked an alpha if they would accept their offering.

And Jimin must be a real moron, because Yoongi's graciously lowering his head so that Jimin can lift the material and place it over his head. He holds it by the corners, looking into the alpha's eyes as Yoongi straightens a bit. He looks good with the silky material around his neck, although there is still a bit of blood in his hair that threatens to rub against the material. It brings out the color of his eyes, though—the warm red pigments in the brown that somehow still seems to overpower Jimin.

He tightens his hold on the corners of the scarf. Yoongi's looking at him intensely but not impatiently.

Jimin takes a shaky breath.

"Good hunting, Alpha," he finally says, and Yoongi’s expression is so intense and full of pride that Jimin wraps himself up in the feeling until the remaining alphas start to disperse.

Chapter Text

Now that the offering is at least over and done with, Jimin’s anxiety is returning full-force.

“Have you been in here before?” Hoseok lets the heavy wooden door fall shut behind them, resulting in a loud echoing sound that scares the shit out of Jimin, even with all of the omegas bustling throughout the room. He nearly jumps out of his skin but manages to shake his head ‘no.’

“Well,” Hoseok smiles. “This is the best time to do it—,”

A duo of two especially tall alphas pass, each carrying a large table out of the front door of the building. Jimin looks at them wearily as they pass, ducking out of their way.

“—You won’t actually have to meet any of the elders, which is generally a good thing,” the omega explains, and begins to weave through the steady line of people carrying all sorts of furniture and blankets in and out. “You’ll get to see what their rooms look like, too, which is a pretty unique perk of performing.”

Jimin hums in acknowledgement—he’d honestly rather be getting ready in his own room. “What’s all this extra stuff for?” He asks, gesturing to the lamps being carried around by several women.

“This might be the last festival we have before snow starts to fall for the temperature drop.” Hoseok leads him straight up the stairs, and down several long halls that seem to turn. “I think you saw a little bit of the surprise snow fall we had right before you came—now that’s all melted down, of course, but we’re expecting a pretty big snowfall this year coming soon.”

As opposed to the omegean den, the elders’ layout is clearly more complicated. The building seems to be much older, as well, and seems to have had at least two additions. “I guess it’s good I ended up preparing for this festival, then,” says Jimin. The pit of stress in his stomach is saying differently, though; he almost wishes he’d had the entire winter season to prepare instead of a week.

“It honestly is—I had considered that when asking you to perform this weekend,” Hoseok admits. “But anyways, I think we’re in this hall. We’ll be right next to each other—here we go,” the omega finishes. He opens the door to the right room, which Jimin assumes will be his and turns with a smile.

“Good luck,” Hoseok offers kindly. “Take your time—and try to relax. It might seem like kind of a strange ritual, but getting ready in a space with less rank and competition can be very relaxing before a performance.”

Jimin appreciates the nice words, even if there’s no real possibility of him feeling any less nervous about his performance. He’d feel better in his own bathroom, of course, but he figures that rules are typically rules out of reason. “I’ll try,” he promises, and steps inside once Hoseok has left him to his own space.

The room is large, like Hoseok had promised, but other than that it’s in no way over the top in luxuries. Certainly over the top, though, is Kim Taehyung lying on the bed against the farthest wall.

“Take a bath,” Taehyung prompts, before Jimin can even digest why or how his friend is in the room.

“What?” Jimin asks smartly.

“A bath,” he repeats. “Jin let me in here. I’m making sure you don’t lose your mind—and I also don’t want to do anything else.”

Jimin rolls his eyes, but hauls his bag towards the open door of the bathroom regardless.

Like Hoseok had mentioned during the dress rehearsal just days ago, the bath is stocked with any shower essentials that might be needed, plus luxuries. Jimin figures that he has some time to waste and a perfectly good opportunity to do it, so before long he’s sitting in the bath—with Taehyung sitting on the smooth floor beside the tub as his company.

“So talk,” Taehyung says. He leans his back against the wall and slides down so far against it that his chin is propped up in an unattractive way against his own chest. Jimin imagines it can’t be very comfortable on his spine and tailbone.

“Well,” Jimin starts, but pauses. He’s not sure what he wants to say.

Taehyung shrugs stiffly, still maintaining his position. “Take your time,” he manages to say, sporting an impressive double chin.

Ultimately, Jimin realizes that he just has too much going on.

Constantly moving and preparing the entire day had kept Jimin’s thoughts on the pure path of events to come, but being forced to sit still and kill time dredges up all of the thoughts he hasn’t let himself think about. Thoughts of his upcoming performance, thoughts of the festival afterward, and thoughts of Yoongi and the Offering—the last category, especially, had been shoved onto the backburner throughout the entire week and again after the offering itself.

There’s the practical side of Jimin that tells him to focus on Yoongi once his performance is over, but conflicting heavily is the need to process and dissect before he sees the alpha.

“That’s enough time,” Taehyung groans out loud. His patience has apparently hit its expiration. “Just tell me what happened, fuck.”

Jimin blanches. “About what?”

Taehyung turns his head, double chin and all, to cut Jimin a very exhausted expression. “The Offering, moron.”

“Oh,” Jimin says, and drags the old-fashioned safety razor he’d found very carefully over his legs. “Uhm. He promised to find me before the performances.”

And it was more than that, of course—he’d said a low thank you, and given Jimin his promise with all of his dark eyes and his handsome features and amber scent that still managed to smell good with three dead bears at his feet. But he couldn’t just explain that to Taehyung, of course, when he couldn’t explain it to himself.

“Do you want to be his mate?” Taehyung asks.

It’s the softest Jimin has heard his voice, but he still nicks himself just a bit below his knee and curses out loud. “You can’t just ask me that!” He whines.

The omega straightens up and shoots him a shit-eating grin. “You’re telling me you haven’t thought about it?”

Jimin rinses one leg and switches to the other. “It’s too early for that,” he insists.

Taehyung shrugs. “Better to think about it too soon than too late.”

Jimin’s starting to reach his upper thighs by the time he’s able to respond with a clear head. “I don’t really understand where we’re at or how things are supposed to happen,” Jimin admits.

Taehyung fixes him with a confused look. “He fed you—that’s a pretty clear indicator.”

But Jimin shrugs. “I like it all, it’s just not what I’m used to. The milestones are different for me—I feel like we should be going out on dates, not checking off a list of traditions.”

“Relationships must be a lot different,” Taehyung acknowledges. “But are you unhappy?”

Jimin shakes his head. “Not at all. It’s exciting,” he admits.

Taehyung’s expression is teasing again. “I’m sure you’ll get your beta love fulfilled soon enough,” he jibes. Jimin splashes him with a bit of water just for the hell of it.

 

 

Getting ready turns out to be much more relaxing than he’d originally thought it would be—probably because Taehyung is there to distract him.

“Are you done yet?” He whines, rolling over dramatically in the bed of the room.

“No,” Jimin repeats, probably for the sixth time. Taehyung whines again, but Jimin takes his time smudging black shadowy pigment into the outer corners of his eyelash line. When he finally finishes and walks towards his bag, he watches his friend perk up.

“What color are you wearing?”

Instead of answering, Jimin pulls the paper-wrapped package out his back and starts to pull the silk of the pants on. Taehyung gives an excited “ooh” in response that abruptly cuts off as Jimin slips into the top piece. By the time Jimin’s putting on his earrings, the silence is noticeable; he looks to his friend in confusion.

Of course, Taehyung is smirking; the picture of a Cheshire’s grin. “Jiminie,” he calls teasingly. “Showing off your neck for the alphas tonight?”

Jimin flushes. “Yoongi has my scarf,” he contradicts.

“A scarf won’t cover up that scent gland,” Taehyung provokes.

Having secured the jewelry, Jimin has both hands free to throw discarded pillows at his friend. He’d thought Taehyung would give some kind of response, but instead, his friend just grins and throws one back straight at Jimin’s exposed stomach. That, of course, translates to war full of ugly loud laughs and insults.

“You piece of shit—,”

“I hope you trip and take all the candles with you—,”

“Ugh!” Jimin pulls back and uses full momentum to nail Taehyung straight in the face. “You’re such a brat—,”

A big boxy grin greets him when the pillow falls down. “You love me,” he coos.

Jimin is ready to pick up another pillow—

Ahem.”

Jimin knows that Taehyung’s head whips around exactly with his own.

“Jin,” Taehyung says, clearly surprised.

“Hey, brat,” the omega greets, clearly rushed. He turns and looks straight at Jimin through the cracked doorway, clearly frazzled. “Sorry to interrupt.”

Jimin blinks twice. “It’s no problem,” he offers, slowly.

“Right. Well.” Seokjin is straightening the collar of his disheveled furs. “Do you think you could come down for a moment? Your alpha is at the back door. He’s giving Hoseok a pretty heavy lecture.”

Jimin feels his own eyes narrow. “Yoongi?”

Taehyung reaches out, jabs Jimin in the side, and gives him a smug look. Jimin chooses not to dignify that with a response.

“Yes,” Jin confirms. “Do you think you could come down?”

He straightens up and shuffles into a pair of thick-soled slippers. He’s about to go as is, when Jin stops him. “You might want to bring your coat,” he suggests wearily, so Jimin grabs and slips it on as he follows behind. Surprisingly, Taehyung makes no move to join them.

It must be later in the day than Jimin had initially realized; the sun has already set and the air is colder even within the den as they head to the back double doors of the building.

As they approach the rear entryway, he can already hear snarling. He looks at Seokjin questioningly, but the omega shakes his head and reaches forward to open one of the doors.

The first thing Jimin can see is Yoongi leaning over Hoseok, who looks very unimpressed with the alpha. They’re obviously arguing, which Jimin is shocked to see; he hasn’t seen a negative expression set so fiercely over the omega’s face in particular. He can hear, if he peeks his head out from around Jin and moves under the taller omega’s arm, exactly what’s being exchanged.

If you would listen to me for just a fucking minute,” Hoseok is hissing directly into the alpha’s face, but Yoongi growls back just as quickly.

“If you would think about what you’re fucking doing, throwing him into a crowd full of literal fucking wolves—,”

Hoseok shoves the heel of his foot furiously into the wooden plank of the back porch to the den. The lit lanterns of the porch make him seem particularly scary, in that moment, but nothing like his words: “Well that’s fucking great to hear from you, asshole. Way to not trust me with my own friend,” he spits bitterly.

Yoongi’s nearly snarling at the other by that point. “This is more important than that,” he growls. “If you really think it’s even remotely safe to make him a target for pursuit more than he already is—,”

“Pretty fucking nice to hear, coming from you.” Hoseok’s lips pull back into a hiss, and that’s when Jin takes the time to knock against the frame of the door.

“Yoongi,” Jimin greets shyly. It’s pathetic, really, but it’s all he can do.

He can see the alpha gripping something in his fist—it’s the headscarf, he realizes. Yoongi must have figured out that Jimin would be performing based on his gift; it makes Jimin wonder if he really should have given it to the alpha for his furs after all.

The man himself is silent on the porch, though no less tense, turning to stare directly into Jimin’s eyes with a fierceness that’s not quite anger but can’t be described as anything but. Next to the alpha, Hoseok is looking stressed still but definitely relieved to no longer be in direct argument. Jimin can’t blame him—the look on the alpha’s face had been terrifying outright; he can’t imagine how Yoongi might treat another alpha.

It’s tense for a long moment, with Seokjin’s arm wrapped around his shoulders and Hoseok watching Yoongi intently and Yoongi watching Jimin—like always, he thinks with a pleasant shiver—until the alpha finally exhales.

“I didn’t know you danced,” he says lowly. Jimin feels the hair on the back of his neck standing up.

“I still do,” Jimin corrects quietly. He moves forward out from under Seokjin’s arm and wraps his arms around himself. “Will you be watching?”

“Of course.” The response is quicker than Jimin had expected. Jimin can only blush, nod, and look down.

The alpha takes a sharp inhale. “You’re wearing red.” It’s not a question.

He must see Jimin’s earrings again, or the peek of his pant legs from beneath Yoongi’s furs. Jimin nods again.

A sharp inhale. “Don’t do anything you don’t want to do,” the alpha cautions. Jimin can’t help but feel a bit giggly at that—“If you want to back out, then back out.”

And Jimin doesn’t know what he should say—doesn’t know if he can manage to say anything with his tongue so heavy and his body so frozen, but then the black of the alpha’s boots are sounding just twice against the porch and there’s a dusting of fabric so lightly over his hair that Jimin can barely feel it.

“I’ll come and find you after your performance,” Yoongi rumbles. The rasp in his voice is so heavy and so close that Jimin can see his own eyelashes flutter in front of his own view.

Jimin chances a look up at the alpha’s eyes and feels his toes curl up inside his slippers. Yoongi’s pupils are blown so wide that Jimin can barely see the ring of dark brown surrounding them.

“Okay,” he says. It’s all he can say, and he feels pathetic, but everything feels warm and heady with the lack of space.

Yoongi’s hands are still wrapped lightly in the lace of the headscarf’s ends. He looks conflicted, eyes darting between Jimin’s eyes and his own hands.

“Are you nervous?” He asks.

Jimin shivers. “Very,” he admits. He hopes Yoongi might see the double meaning there.

The alpha traces a thumb delicately over the beading at the end of the fabric. It’s almost strange to see such rough hands treating the material so gently—it makes Jimin want to shiver again.

“I know you’ll do well,” Yoongi says, tone low and curling into a slur. The sound bleeds into a sigh. “Too well, huh?”

Jimin feels his cheeks heat up impossibly more. His knees might be weak, but he manages to bring a shaking hand up and over to rest over the back of the alpha’s.

“I’ll be fine,” he says, to both the alpha and himself. He doesn’t really have the time to be nervous in the first place—he’d like to save that for after his performance, if at all possible.

At the slight pressure, the alpha’s hands drop—even if his jaw does tense when he moves back. Jimin can see, with startlingly focused-in vision, the veins of Yoongi’s neck. He has to breathe deeply to calm down even just the slightest.

Hoseok’s coming up to rest a hand on the alpha’s shoulder, though, which breaks some of the tension. He’s whispering something urgently to Yoongi, probably some variant of get the hell out if the omega’s fierce glare is anything. But the alpha turns back defiantly and looks at Jimin.

“Don’t let anyone you don’t know speak to you,” he warns.

Jimin feels the muscles of his lips tighten just barely into the giddy smile he doesn’t want to show. “Find me when it’s over,” he reminds instead of replying.

And Yoongi’s ready to respond, fierce looks and all. But before he can open his mouth, Seokjin cuts in with a groan, “Get out, damn.”

Hoseok snorts and shoves at the alpha. “Walk with me,” he offers. “I’ve got a few things to tell you about Jiminie here.”

What—,” but Hoseok cuts him off with a wink, so Jimin backs down and lets Seokjin pull him into the house.

The door shuts with the same terrifying slam it originally had when Jimin had entered in the first place. The lead omega turns from the back of the door and begins to button up his white furs, all while speaking to Jimin.

“We’ve only got a little bit of time,” Seokjin says, with a very constructed level tone. “It’ll take some of that time for Hoseok to drag Yoongi from the back of this house, so I’m going to take you out the front and straight up to the platform. Hoseok should have enough time to ditch Yoongi while Joon lights the candles—are you doing okay, sweetie? That looked pretty intense.”

Jimin tries to speak, but ends up inhaling a dramatic amount of air and choking on it.

“Ah,” sighs Jin. “Blooming love.”

Jimin sputters.

“You’ll be fine.” Seokjin pats him harshly on the back and then links that arm through Jimin’s in one swift movement. “Our Hoseok let you perform after just a week, so you must be pretty good. And you’ve got a cute face, so don’t worry about falling.”

The performance isn’t exactly what has Jimin worried, but the omega is taking Jimin’s furs to leave in the den dragging them both through the main front entrance. It’s a reverse of the first festival he’d been to—he can see the front of the elder’s house, with all its unlit candles, and then the rickety stairs leading to the stage. Beyond that, Jimin can see the fire pit beneath the platform itself.

As soon as he really steps out from the front wall of the building, a gust of wind comes strongly enough to blow his hair into his own face. He looks at the other omega meaningfully.

Jin just groans. “It’s going to be a really long night,” he complains, and Jimin thinks so too.

 

 

While he’s waiting for the music to start up behind the back of the platform, he’s relatively alone, aside from Seokjin who’s fussing over the other performers—which gives him some confidence, considering that he’s being left alone, but it’s not enough to keep him from worrying over the wind that continues to pick and place his hair and the ends of his headscarf.

Unfortunately, though, he has been waiting for a while and still has a bit to go—Hoseok is about three-quarters finished with his solo routine, according to what Jimin remembers from the full dress rehearsal. He goes over the movements in his head and outright, humming the tune and making sure that his hips are loose enough to flex into the right position on each beat. He’s comfortable enough with the relaxed arms and the minimal groundwork that he’ll be doing, but there are some parts—the parts that are more based in belly dance—that just require his full attention. He knows he has them down, but completing them while tealights are moving unpredictably is a whole other challenge.

Ultimately, though, Jimin is just being himself in that he really doesn’t like surprises.

“Are you ready?” It’s Seokjin, standing behind him and looking at the small set of stairs onto the stage. “It seems higher up when you’re on it, but it’s still low to the ground. Don’t feel too separate.”

Jimin shrugs; he’s used to performing arts centers for performances, where the degree of isolation is much greater. Being so close is the thing that’s uncomfortable for him now.

“I’m as ready as I can be,” Jimin admits nervously. He’s wringing his hands together.

It's at that time that Hoseok jogs back down the stairs with a massive smile; his performance clearly went well, if his expression is anything to go by. He leans in and, surprising Jimin, lands a quick kiss to his cheek.

“You’ll do great,” Hoseok promises, eyes sparkling. Jimin’s not sure if the omega himself or his jewelry is twinkling at him, but then he’s running off back into the elder’s house—probably to do a quick change for his second performance after Jimin’s.

Within a second, Jimin can see the alpha in charge of audio switching out songs; barely a moment later, the rhythmic bass of his instrumental is playing. He thinks that Jin might be wishing him good luck, but all Jimin can do is slide out of his slippers and climb stairs; he only has a few introductory bars to make his way through the very back of the tea lights and take his prep position.

He wishes he could take in more detail around him; of the way the stage looks, of the few lit lanterns in the audience, of whatever words had definitely been called out encouragingly by Taehyung.

Unfortunately though, his nerves are picking up on the wind and the candles swaying aggressively on their thin clear strings. His introductory bars are wrapping up, but one candle swings dangerously close to his hip on one of Jimin’s exhales, so as gracefully and quickly as possible, Jimin removes the fabric over his head and ties it around his waist. He hears a few excited howls in response, and he’d roll his eyes, but the song starts and pure muscle memory has his body snapping into the right position.

The first beat simultaneously rings with a sound of a snarl; whether in response to Jimin’s performance or the howling, he doesn’t have time to care about.

Jimin likes his routine because he’d learned it intuitively; it uses stronger movements from the more practiced parts of his body and allows him to move how he might dance in freestyle. The instrumental, in all honesty, is not his favorite nor a part of his culture. It offers plenty of layered sounds, though, with clear higher pitched melodies placed over consistent organic bass sounds that give Jimin room for options when he’s moving across stage and needs to avoid or even nudge the clear strings.

It's going smoothly, though; more smoothly than any of his previous performances back home ever have. He thinks the way the choreography mirrors the music itself has a lot to do with that—he’s only ever expected to make a harsh or quick movement when it sounds appropriate to the piece.

Overall, his mind is entirely blank of interfering thought for just a minute and thirty seconds, but it’s a time that he’d needed.

He ends, in a way that he’d thought was cheesy but had gone along with out of respect for Hoseok, by returning to his starting pose in the same position. He thinks that he did well even before the beat finally cuts out, but that ends up being a bit of a back-stab: Jimin can feel his face crack into a relieved smile just a bit before the last beat hits and his weight shifts into a final position.

There’s a lot of noise—a lot of hollering, a lot of Taehyung shouting expletives, and Jimin takes a second to look out for once and get a quick perspective shot of the pack from his position. For a moment it’s all very familiar. He doesn’t see the Yoongi, but that’s okay—he’s avoiding the front benches on purpose, and he thinks he might have heard the alpha’s growl earlier regardless.

When he walks back down the stairs, he isn’t happy—he’s comfortable.

 

“I thank the full moon you let me drag you here,” Seokjin groans. “I haven’t eaten this entire day.”

Jimin realizes, then, that he hasn’t either—the sickly feeling in his stomach must be part hunger. Maybe he’d let the omega drag him away from Hoseok’s performance with good reason after all.

“I’m pretty hungry, too,” Jimin admits. They’re standing back in the same field from the offering, but this time all tarps have been removed and there are tables lined with hot food—which was apparently very difficult to have set up, according to Seokjin.

“This was a pain in the ass,” the omega admits, scarfing down a bowl of stew, “But it’s nice to see it pay off. Did you like performing?”

Jimin mulls over it all. “I honestly can’t remember much,” he admits. “I was kind of zoned out. But it was okay—I’d definitely do it again.”

Seokjin nods, and manages even with a full mouth, “I went around to see your dance and I thought it was very nice. You did look a little zoned out, but in a focused way—you should have seen Yoongi next to me, though.”

Jimin’s eyes shoot from his own food to the omega. “Did he—at the beginning…”

“Snarl?” Jin laughs almost silently, chokes a bit, and forces himself to swallow calmly before continuing. “That was your man. I don’t think he likes those other alphas looking at you too much.”

Jimin stirs his stew absentmindedly. He doesn’t know what to say to that.

Seokjin seems to have something to say, though—he’s giving Jimin an irritated look and flickering his eyes over Jimin’s shoulder. Just a second later, Jimin gets an unfamiliar whiff of scent and a heavy hand on his shoulder.

Jimin nearly drops his food when he starts around. His eyes meet with a broad chest, though, and he has to look up to see the face of Park Chanyeol—not exactly the alpha he wants to see.

“Chanyeol,” he greets, politely. He shrugs the hand off by turning around to face the man. Jimin also takes the opportunity to step a good foot back.

The alpha steps back into his space, though. His look is surprisingly predatory; Jimin wishes he hadn’t left Yoongi’s furs in the elder’s den.

“You looked gorgeous out there,” Chanyeol says with a grin, and without any attempt to greet Jimin beforehand. The statement frankly makes Jimin feel unsettled, but he laughs politely. Seokjin smiles thinly at him and steps to the other platter, at the other end of the table. The omega is still eating, though, so Jimin figures he can still relax a bit.

“Thank you,” Jimin says. “Did you enjoy the performances? Hoseok worked very hard.”

“Yeah! Yeah, those were nice.” The alpha’s arms are folded against his chest, but he does it in a way that maximizes his volume. “I was more focused on you, though.”

Jimin freezes. Pick up lines don’t change in the compound, apparently. “Thanks again,” he says carefully.

Chanyeol laughs lightly. “Sorry,” he says, and puts his absolute bearpaw of a hand back on Jimin’s shoulder—on the transition right by his neck. Jimin shrinks into himself at the feeling on his bare skin. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but you’re gorgeous; I can’t really help but notice you.”

“I’m not really interested,” Jimin says bluntly. The alpha actually seems like a genuine enough person, but he’s clearly in a very entitled mood.

He thinks the alpha might feel flustered at that, because his hand tightens against Jimin’s skin. “Listen,” he says, tone pressuring, “I said I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable, but I really think you should be giving me a fair shot.”

And that’s a strong warning sign. Jimin is honestly about to call for Seokjin, who he sees is already close, but then smells amber and cedar and immediately relaxes. Chanyeol takes the opportunity to lean into Jimin’s personal space, but he’s making a mistake because Jimin knows he’ll be fine, even if it’s a little ridiculous to think so—

“—If you don’t want to make him uncomfortable, then don’t fucking make him uncomfortable,” Yoongi’s snapping.

The hand is gone and Yoongi’s scent is curling around him. Jimin is happy enough from just that to believe for a second that everything will dissolve naturally. Instead, Chanyeol turns.

“That’s funny,” Chanyeol grins, tone nasty, “Because I didn’t smell a mark on him. So why’re you talking shit, pack alpha?”

God, Jimin thinks. This kind of guy. He looks over and sees Seokjin wince. He makes a mental note to ask him about both the mark and definitely the phrase “pack alpha” later. But before that, his own temper is getting the best of him and he’s snapping, “Don’t talk to Yoongi like that, that’s rude—”

“What’s rude is how you let this carpenter talk to you when I’m here. You're a sweetheart.”

And Jimin is taken aback by that, by how Chanyeol thinks he can say sweetheart like Jimin should somehow know Yoongi’s some sort of trash or something, at how he can just disrespect him and in front of the compound’s lead omega—

“Look at this trash, spewing shit from his lips right here, some compound hunter. Can’t respect an outranking alpha for fuck’s sake, let alone an omega—,”

Well damn, thinks Jimin. Yoongi can be pretty nasty when he wants to be.

Chanyeol is moving into Yoongi’s space, leaning over the shorter alpha. Jimin takes a couple steps back, but the taller of the two throws his head in Jimin’s direction.

“Where are you going?” Chanyeol is winking and Yoongi is snarling and Jimin wants to vomit—preferably on Chanyeol.

“Uhm.” He’s going to be sick. He’s definitely going to be sick.

Jimin whines, a distressed sound that leaves him vaguely surprised. “You're not going to fight.”

Chanyeol’s saying something that’s definitely irritating, something If you say so, and taking off his furs, but Yoongi holds his own coat out to Jimin. He must have somehow grabbed it from the elder’s den before coming to see him, which would explain how Chanyeol and a few others had filed onto the field into the first place. Yoongi looks straight into Jimin’s eyes when he takes back the furs.

“Can I hit him right now?” Yoongi rasps, fists clenching.

Jimin’s stomach is turning. “You both can’t just—you can’t just hit him, Yoongi.

Chanyeol’s smile is still spreading, moving across his face into a predatory expression. “I’ll fucking hit you though, since he’s going to let me.”

Jimin looks incredulously at Chanyeol and back to Yoongi. “Are you serious?”

“You’re not saying no,” the alpha smirks. Jimin would cringe, but Chanyeol’s pulling back an elbow, drawing force and releasing.

Jimin hears the hit before he feels it—in his own palm, against the back of Chanyeol's head, before the alpha can punch Yoongi. Seokjin has run the short distance between them and is fussing over Jimin’s hand.

“Don’t fucking touch him,” Yoongi snarls, which has Jimin terrified, until he looks and realizes that Yoongi is cutting daggers for eyes at Chanyeol. It doesn’t make any sense.

“I know,” whispers Seokjin very quietly. It’s the first time Jimin has ever spoken out loud on accident. Seokjin pulls him a step back from the alpha pair. He leans forward to whisper urgently into Jimin’s ear. “Now listen to me. They’re going to posture for a bit; it gives me time.”

Jimin looks anxiously back at the pair. Seokjin’s right; they’re spitting insults and shoving at each other viciously, but they’re not throwing punches—yet. Cold fingers turn Jimin’s face back to look at the omega.

“Listen to me. I’ll tell you when the fight starts,” he soothes. Jimin groans but obeys.

“I need you to take a deep breath.”

Jimin does. “Okay,” he croaks.

Seokjin smiles weakly. “Here’s how it’s going to go down. Chanyeol is about close to rutting; believe it or not, he’s not actually an asshole.”

Jimin doesn’t believe it.

Seokjin can tell, and snorts. “Trust me, you’re going to get a formal apology after this. Anyways, they’re going to fight—it’s a good thing you have Yoongi here—but the important thing you have to do is to tell him to rip Chanyeol to shreds.”

If that doesn’t send Jimin’s stomach into a nauseous tantrum. “What kind of—”

“It’s a possession fight,” Seokjin says slowly, and speeds up his speech when his eyes flicker past Jimin’s shoulders. “Chanyeol is assuming that you’re his; Yoongi refuses to be an ass and assume that himself. He’s asking if he can fight over you without being a knothead.”

Seokjin winces as Yoongi lets out a particularly loud snarl. “You need to let Yoongi hurt Chanyeol. If you don’t, he’s going to take Chanyeol’s hits for you until he can’t anymore.”

The vomiting feeling returns. Seokjin looks at him meaningfully. “You have about a minute,” he says, not at all helpfully, and spins Jimin around.

Nausea and distress has Jimin sweating; Yoongi and Chanyeol each have a hand in the other’s ripped collar, snarling in close proximity. Yoongi’s clearly the more lucid one, which is surprising considering what Jimin has heard of him and seen of the brand new nasty scratch on Chanyeol’s chest. The blood makes Jimin nearly fold over.

“Yoongi,” he says weakly. But Yoongi’s still snarling.

“Louder,” Seokjin advises. “Call him by his rank.”

Jimin flushes. “But Chanyeol—,”

“—is too much of a bitch to even remember rank when he’s in pre-rut. Hurry; they’re going to start ripping into skin soon.”

Thoughts of more blood mean panic for Jimin. “Alpha!” His voice cracks. Nice.

Yoongi’s eyes widen, but don’t move from Chanyeol’s. The stress is crawling up Jimin’s throat and suffocating him.

“Say it,” Jin says. “He’s not going to look away from a threat.”

Jimin dry heaves over the grass and takes a shuddering breath. Jin hits him twice on the back, too hard to even be a pat.

“It’s okay,” Jimin projects, but it’s more of a nauseous groan. He watches the look change in Yoongi’s eyes regardless.

Jin snorts and cups Jimin’s ears with his hands.

He squeezes his eyes shut and forces Jin’s hands closer to his ears with his own hands but he can still hear—hear Yoongi’s roaring snarl and an immediate sickening crack. There are smacks and whimpers—he doesn’t know whose, and really doesn’t want it to be Yoongi—and all he feels is anxiety and clamminess. Even breathing evenly through his nose, his stomach shifts persistently.

The thuds and slaps and tearing fabric continue for what Jimin thinks is a disturbingly long amount of time, and he’s thinking that leaving completely might be a good idea by the time the snarling on both sides finally dissolves into ending whimpers. Seokjin moves his hand a hair and whispers, “Your alpha is dragging the loser to our pack leader. He’ll be back quickly; he’s going to drop him off and wash up.”

Jimin shivers and groans. Washing up means blood.

“You baby,” Seokjin teases. It stings, even though Jin is so nice, because Jimin feels so sensitive to everything. “Shhhh,” Seokjin soothes, and hugs him from behind. "So overdramatic."

“Was it bad?” Jimin still might throw up. He gags.

A pause. “I’ve seen worse.”

That doesn’t make Jimin feel better. “Is Yoongi okay?”

Seokjin snorts. “Oh he’s fine. Barely a scratch on him; Chanyeol was too persistent for his own good. Pretty entertaining fight, though.”

“You like fights?” Jimin shivers, making a nauseous blergh sound.

Seokjin removes his hands and Jimin turns around. Seokjin looks deep in thought. “Not really. But I like the outcome—not the violence, but the order. Fights happen often here.”

Jimin wants to faint at the knowledge.

“It’s very sweet that you care so much,” Seokjin smiles, “But sometimes alphas fight to give quick resolution. Namjoon says he hates fighting, too, but he’s the first to throw a punch if someone challenges his standing.”

“I guess,” Jimin says, purely for the sake of ending the conversation. He plops down onto the grass. “I feel exhausted. I almost wish I hadn’t danced.”

Jin sits beside him. “Don’t let an idiot like Chanyeol get to you,” he warns.

“... I won’t.” And he means it. He sits for a little while and feels the wind and listens to the sounds of music and chatter from around the corner of the elder’s den. At least everyone on the other side of the building is having a good time.

Eventually, he hears footfalls and smells Yoongi’s scent. He looks anxiously at Seokjin, but the omega is all smug and smirk. “Don’t worry—he’ll take great care of you,” he whispers into Jimin’s ear. “Victorious alphas are very sweet—the good ones, anyways.”

Jimin’s not sure if he wants to be taken care of, especially when he sees a deep-looking scratch on Yoongi’s forearm as he walks up to the pair.

“You got hurt,” he says when Yoongi comes close enough.

Yoongi shakes his head. “Not really. You should see the hunter.”

“I don’t really want to.” Jimin gives a weak smile.

Yoongi crouches down, shoulders squared. “And you’re never going to have to,” he growls. “You worked hard for tonight. So fuck him—you should forget about that and focus on how well you did.”

The compliment really makes Jimin flush whole-body. “Thank you,” he says. “I’m kind of exhausted right now, though.”

Yoongi’s brows crease, like he’s confused, until Seokjin makes some sort of motion next to him.

The alpha’s cheeks flush a dark pink. “I can take you home early; let you get some sleep.”

Jimin winces. “I’ll stay out for a bit, I think. The den doesn’t sound like the best place to be right now.” He wants to change out of his costume and relax—he really does—but he doesn’t want to deal with the inevitable of every omega in compound coming back to ask him why two alphas had been seen fighting over him. He figures he’ll go and have a drink or eat junk food for a bit and enjoy the evening cooldown before he goes back. Jimin is hoping that Yoongi will walk him home when that time comes, but he doesn’t voice it. The alpha must be tired himself.

Seokjin perks up at that. “I think the den is probably too loud, but you look so stressed,” he says, with an odd look in his eyes. “Yoongi, do you think you could take Jimin back to your place? I think he’d really like to be taken care of right now.”

Jimin fixes a wide-eyed look on the omega. What the fuck, he wants to convey.

Yoongi’s still looking at him, though, with eyes searching. “Would you like to come back with me?” he asks carefully. “It might be good to warm up and relax.”

Jimin, who knows he won’t relax but really likes the idea regardless, feels his entire face heat up. Jin and the alpha are both looking at him intently, and Jimin knows what he wants to say, but it’s too embarrassing to admit out loud. He has to say yes, though, he knows—even if not verbally.

He nods. It’s just perceptible enough for Yoongi to offer him a hand and help him up with a low rumbling sound that Jimin can’t begin to decipher.



Yoongi apparently owns a cabin behind the field of the elder’s den. There’s a singular stone path to it, much smaller than the others throughout the compound, but the home just past the line of woods is massive for just one person. Jimin is surprised by the sheer size; he’d expected a much smaller cabin even by compound standards.

“You’re welcome to anything here,” the alpha says as they approach the porchline.

Jimin stays pressed into the alpha’s side until they approach the front door. It’s a pretty, dark stain, with Yoongi’s name engraved on it as is common cultural practice. “You’ve built a beautiful home,” Jimin compliments.

The alpha laughs and shakes his head as he opens the door. “It’s still plain on the inside, you’ll see.”

Warmth hits Jimin quickly. He skirts into to the entryway so he can keep as much of it as possible inside.

“It should still be fairly warm,” the alpha mentions as he shuts the door behind them. “I lit a fire before I left this afternoon—here,” he prompts, cutting himself off.

Jimin looks back to see Yoongi’s hands prepped to take his furs. “Oh,” Jimin starts, and begins to unhook the closures. He may or may not shiver when the alpha removes the coat for him, bare hands brushing against his shoulders.

“Have you eaten?” Yoongi hangs the coat over a hook in the entryway while Jimin slips out of his shoes politely. He’s thankful that he’d at least slipped into some sneakers for the walk over.

“I have.” He’d really only snacked before Chanyeol had intervened, but there’s no way Jimin could eat much while Yoongi’s around. He’s not hungry anyways, but—“Could I steal a glass of water from you, though?”

“Of course.” His eyes linger over Jimin’s bare shoulders and neck. “Make yourself comfortable.”

So Jimin sneaks a peek into the alpha’s living space while the man himself heads across the open area to the kitchen. He hears the sounds of dishes clinking, and figures he has a bit of time.

Jimin settles into the grey sofa and tries to take a few deep breaths while he looks around the room. Yoongi had admittedly been right in describing his space as plain, but Jimin thinks it would still suit a stylistic preference that he would have seen back home. Aside from the plush rug beneath his feet and the basket full of blankets at the end of the couch, there are minimal possessions. Jimin finds that he likes the overall feel, though—it pairs really well with the natural rustic trend of the compound as a whole.

When the alpha crosses back into the living space, he’s holding not a glass but a mug. Jimin questions this just a bit until he sees steam rising out of the cup. Something in him feels especially content at having a warm drink.

“Thank you,” he offers quietly, and takes a small drink—honey and lemon, he notes. He makes a small noise of content before he can control it.

Jimin expects him to sit down, but instead the alpha reaches over towards the basket at the end of the couch. He drapes a soft-looking cream blanket over Jimin’s lap before Jimin himself can say anything.

Yoongi nods, almost stiffly, and slips into the spot right next to Jimin. Gently, he takes Jimin’s free hand into his much larger one. Jimin’s heart jumps when Yoongi starts to absentmindedly trace over the length of his fingers. There’s a long pause for a second in which Jimin appreciates how the soft lighting hits the man’s features.

“I’m sorry that happened,” Yoongi says lowly. “Especially right after your performance.”

Jimin looks down at their hands. “It’s okay,” he says. “I don’t like fights, but. It wasn’t the first time he’d said something rude to me, so.”

Yoongi’s jaw clenches. “Oh?”

Jimin rolls his eyes, even though he wants to smile just a little bit. “It’s fine; I don’t care that it happened when it did.”

The alpha shakes his head again. “It was supposed to be about your performance, not about some brat’s attitude problem.”

“You didn’t even know I was performing until I gave you the scarf,” Jimin points out.

“I didn’t.” Yoongi straightens out the silk of his sleeve’s end. “You didn’t tell me.”

It’s not a question or an accusation, but Jimin knows he’s being asked for an explanation. “Hoseok told me I should keep it a surprise, for some reason,” Jimin confesses shyly. “I went along with it—but now I think he was afraid of being lectured.”

Yoongi’s looking straight at him, again, in that way that makes the back of his neck tingle. “You look beautiful,” he says.

After the minute it takes to register the words out of Yoongi’s mouth, Jimin looks straight down not at their hands or the blanket or the tea he’d been given, or anything else in the room—Jimin doesn’t know where to look, or what his expression might be, or exactly how red his face must be. He knows he must be obvious—he’s almost entirely sure that he’d accidentally gripped onto the alpha’s hand just a bit out of his own embarrassment.

“Thank you,” he finally manages. He feels so shy that it breaks into a whisper.

He hears Yoongi clear an oncoming rumble from his own throat. “I don’t know what you’d like,” he begins, “but I thought I’d offer my bath—it might be nice to get that scent off of your neck. I could wash your hair and give you a change of clothes, or if you’d feel more comfortable, I could make some tea and grab a couple more blankets.”

Jimin’s still reeling from the compliment, but does his best to follow the sentence—“What smell?” he asks, confused.

Yoongi’s eyes glance heavily towards his left shoulder. “From where Chanyeol put his hand on you earlier,” he rumbles.

Jimin jolts at that—he can’t even smell the scent, so he’s surprised Yoongi can. “I couldn’t smell it at all,” he worries. He swears the corner of the alpha’s mouth turns up just slightly at that, but his eyes are no less dark. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

The alpha straightens up. “I’ve been wanting to wash that damn smell off you all night,” Yoongi says, voice stiff. “Let me go and draw your bath.”

 

 

Accepting that offer might have been a mistake.

“How’s the water feel?” Yoongi asks. He’s leaning against the tub with his shirt rolled up to expose his forearms. Jimin sneaks an appreciative look before dipping a finger into the water.

It's hot the way Jimin likes it; almost too hot, enough to let him scrub all the dead skin and troubles away. “It’s good,” he confirms quietly. The bubbles look nice and even inviting on his hand as he pulls it back.

Yoongi smiles thinly at him—nervously?—and nods. He stands and turns around, facing the cabinet that sits against the wall, as he pulls down bottles of soaps. When he’s finished, though, he still faces the wall.

Jimin’s expecting him to leave, at any second, until he finally processes—

I could wash your hair. Oh. Yoongi’s going to stay. Jimin lets out a quiet whine of embarrassment.

“Don’t look,” he whines. The second that comes out, he regrets it—fucking immature. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do with all the tension in his body.

There’s a low hum of acknowledgement, but nothing else in response. It looks like the closest thing to a reply Jimin will get.

So he takes a deep breath, strips off the silk, and lowers down into the tub as quickly as he can while the water licks at his skin. Bubbles cover up to his collar bones, which Jimin appreciates for the sake of his modesty—although it’s definitely still risky. He looks at Yoongi’s back, at the muscles shifting slightly under the cotton of his shirt.

“Um,” he murmurs. “You can turn around.”

Yoongi does so. Jimin might stretch out his neck a little, might tilt his head just slightly. He knows he’s not presenting, but he can’t help the movement. It’s hard when he wants to present—and spread his legs, but he’s not thinking about that.

As Yoongi crouches down by the edge of the tub, Jimin might be thinking about that.

“Let’s take this off,” Yoongi murmurs, eyes on Jimin’s eyeliner. His voice sounds a little rasped over.

Jimin nods. He looks around for a cloth, some face soap, or something, but Yoongi’s already pumping soap onto a soft-looking cloth for him. Jimin, who is weak for being pampered, props his face over his hands on the edge of the tub.

“Close your eyes,” the alpha prompts, and Jimin does.

He’s very gentle, really, over the entire face and especially around Jimin’s eyes. Jimin can tell by how unfragranced and mild the soap is that it probably wouldn’t even hurt if it hit his eyes, and even if it did sting, he’d used worse in college. He’s so used to the harsh scrubs that he can barely feel the soap being brushed over his eyes. When Yoongi washes out the rag in the sink nearby to go back in and rinse his skin, he can’t help but smile.

“What are you smiling about?” But Yoongi sounds like he’s smiling too.

Jimin opens his eyes and sees Yoongi’s lips upturned. Jimin just shakes his head timidly; the alpha is really the most handsome man he’s ever seen.

He raises an eyebrow, maybe teasingly, at Jimin’s lack of response. “Sit back, then. I’ll wash your hair.”

So he does. He lets Yoongi rinse his hair a few times, using a large cup like when his mother had when she’d bathed him as a child. He tries not to smile every time hot water falls down the back of his neck.

Soon a cap pops and Yoongi asks, “Is it okay?” And that makes Jimin’s heart melt. He nods, feeling giggly and tense until Yoongi’s hands are in his hair. The tension drops away on its own then.

The feeling of Yoongi’s fingers on his scalp have Jimin automatically releasing a happy sound, from the back of his throat, which he immediately realizes is distinctly not a beta sound. It’s not a rumble like Yoongi’s when he’s content; it’s higher pitch, and lasts much longer than Yoongi’s quick sounds. Jimin’s so relaxed that he decides not to care, until Yoongi’s hands stutter at it. Jimin opens one eye lazily in question.

“You’re purring,” Yoongi says. Jimin opens his eyes and sees Yoongi leaning further into him, expression surprised. It’s not a look that Jimin could have described on him before he’d seen it.

The first thing he tries to do is speak, but he has to consciously stop making the sound to do that. He swallows it, then mutters, “I’m not a cat.”

That earns him a laugh, then, with Yoongi quickly shining a bright and precious smile that leaves Jimin wanting to curl up with surprising affection.

“No, you’re not,” Yoongi agrees. “But we call it purring. It’s an omegean sound.”

“Why do I make it?” Yoongi goes back to scratching, and Jimin feels the sound start to bubble up again. Yoongi grins at that.

“You—well, omegas purr when they’re content, but.” The alpha glances down, and he’s smiling and blushing; Jimin’s going to die, “Omegas purr when they trust someone. It’s very rare for an alpha to hear.”

He hits a particularly good spot behind Jimin’s ear and the pitch trails up a little. Yoongi laughs lightly and massages the other side, switches back and forth for awhile before rinsing. That’s the point when Jimin can finally swallow back the sound and talk.

“I can’t talk when it happens,” he admits. Yoongi nods.

“Thank you,” Yoongi says seriously, pulling back. “I’m very lucky to hear you.”

Jimin feels embarrassed, like he’s done something really intimate in front of Yoongi. He whines and stares firmly at the bathroom tile. “I hope it’s not that big of a deal,” he says.

“Like I said,” Yoongi murmurs, “It’s very rare. Even between bonded mates—”

Jimin’s head snaps to Yoongi, eyes widening. “Sorry, I didn’t—,”

Fingers are carding into Jimin’s wet hair. “Don’t worry about it,” the alpha soothes. “It’s nothing to be embarrassed of. I’m just very lucky.”

Jimin flushes.

"I just like it when you take care of me," he mutters, leaning into Yoongi's hand there. It feels warm against his skin.

He's not looking at the alpha, but he hears the intake of breath. "I like taking care of you," he responds.

Jimin whines again, face flushing. Yoongi drags his fingers, calloused but soft, down Jimin's neck. He's careful to avoid the scent gland there, but Jimin shivers full-body anyways. He hears the responding growl, but Yoongi stops short and takes a heavy breath.

"Let's get you out before the water gets cold," he finally says. "Unless you want to stay a little longer?" Jimin shakes his head—although he does, wants to stay warm and be watched over by Yoongi—and the alpha turns to pull a fluffy gray robe and towel from under the sink.

"Go ahead and put this on. I could dry your hair—," he pauses, makes eye contact, and only continues when Jimin nods, "—and we can look through my clothing. I'll give you something comfortable to wear home."

Jimin perks up at that. He's eager to wear Yoongi's clothing. Yoongi can tell, if the small smile on his face is anything to go by.

So Jimin is quick to rinse his body clean and step into the robe, all while Yoongi faces the wall respectfully. It makes him grin stupidly, but he can't care too much when he prompts the alpha to turn around; Yoongi quickly nuzzles the top of his hair as he towel-dries it. Jimin loves that the manly, brooding alpha Yoongi can nuzzle him the way omegas do to each other. He also loves the way his hair smells a little bit like amber afterwards.

The proximity is dangerous, though, and has Jimin wanting more—he leans into the alpha as the towel runs over the back of his head. The transition back into soft and pliable headspace is quick, the way it always is.

The scent has him pressing all the way against Yoongi's body and grabbing at his shirt with one hand. He feels like he has nowhere to go but loves it; he wants to be as close as possible and breathe in the scent until he can't just handle it anymore. What he wants to come after that, he's too embarrassed to think about.

"Smells good," he murmurs against Yoongi's collar. He feels the alpha stiffen, and hears a pleased rumble that sends him under further. He presses the whole of his body against Yoongi's as much as he can and rubs his face against the skin there. He's so close to the alpha's scent gland; he could just—it doesn't even make sense, he wants to lick at it—

The alpha's arms come to wrap tightly around his middle. Jimin whimpers at the way Yoongi’s fingers press into the small of his back.

"Fuck," Jimin hears in a hiss. He nips at the skin right under Yoongi's scent gland and shivers at the responding growl. He's so close to the gland, but maybe Yoongi would like it if he just tilted his head to the side and presented—

"Don't," Yoongi snarls. Jimin freezes as the alpha takes a sharp inhale. The sound and the adrenaline seem to jerk him back to sobriety, and he feels shame finally win over—over whatever had happened to him. He pulls his face out of Yoongi's neck and tries to step back, but Yoongi snarls at that, too, and pulls him back in. That at least quells the feeling of rejection that had been bubbling up.

"Yoongi," Jimin murmurs.

"I need a minute," the alpha snarls. So Jimin waits for the rumbling to die down.

It takes a while, but eventually Yoongi unwraps his arms from around Jimin to let him take a step back. "Um," Jimin offers out loud. Yoongi's eyes are trained exclusively on his exposed neck.

"Clothes," is all Yoongi says. His jaw clenches. And then: "I need to get you some clothes."

Jimin stutters a shaky, "Okay," and Yoongi turns. Jimin follows him out into the short hallway for a second and then turns into the adjacent doorway.

Yoongi's bedroom is like the rest of his home, with relatively simple furniture and lots of furs, but very little play outside of that. Or at least, the rest of what Jimin sees in a two-second glance is plain. He's more focused on the large armoire at the other end of the room, and walks up to it.

"Take what you like," is all Yoongi says, so Jimin takes a deep breath and opens the doors.

He has to breathe very shallowly with the doors open; the scent is almost as powerful as in-person Yoongi. He doesn't know how he'll survive wearing the clothing, but does his best to pick something comfortable. A grey long sleeve catches his eye, looking soft and made out of warm material. It's definitely too big for him, but so is most of Yoongi's clothing. He finds a pair of black sweats with a drawstring folded in the drawers below and snags those. He's truthfully a little nervous going without underwear, but he’d had to do that in his costume already, so he swallows that thought and thanks Yoongi.

"'S no problem," is all the alpha says, and steps out of the bedroom to close the door.

Jimin takes the opportunity to change quickly and catch his breath—after closing the doors of Yoongi's closet. Jimin stares firmly at the floor—far away from the alpha's bed—and counts to sixty slowly. By the time he's done, enough of the heady feeling has left his body that Jimin feels he can leave the room. He does this all while ignoring the small amount of shame bubbling in the base of his stomach.

He finds Yoongi in his kitchen, pouring what looks like spices into a small saucepan of milk or cream. Jimin sits down on a bar stool behind the island and hums at the sweet smell wafting to him.

"What'cha making?" he asks quietly. Yoongi places a small lid over the pan and answers, "Tea," as he turns around. When he looks at Jimin, he exhales uncomfortably, as if in pain.

Jimin starts, disoriented. "Your arm—,"

"No," Yoongi rasps, "Your neck."

Stupidly, Jimin looks down over himself like he'd be able his own neck. He thinks he gets what Yoongi's getting at, though; the neckline of the shirt is massive on Jimin, showing collarbones and risking dipping off of one shoulder.

"Sorry," he murmurs. "I can change, of course."

The alpha shakes his head. "Don't be. And please, don't." His ears are pink as he turns around to stir the contents in the pan. Jimin shamelessly pushes the material all the way off of one shoulder while the alpha's back is turned. Maybe he hadn't quite calmed down after all.

He does, however, have the mental clarity to ask after the answers he’d wanted earlier.

"Chanyeol mentioned a mark?" questions Jimin. Yoongi nearly drops the saucepan he's holding over a mug—it must be for him, Jimin assumes.

"Fuck him," is the first thing Yoongi says, aggressively. Jimin lets out a surprised laugh while Yoongi slides the mug over the island to Jimin. The alpha seems to be eyeing Jimin's naked shoulder like he's extremely conflicted; Jimin hides his smile behind the mug in his hands.

"What sort of mark?" Jimin presses. "It can't be a bond mark."

Yoongi chokes and coughs in front of him. "No," he rasps. "He wasn't talking about a bond mark."

Seokjin had warned him in times of gossip that alphas could be touchy about the subject; Jimin rolls his eyes and runs his hand through his hair. "So what mark?"

The alpha fidgets. He seems very uncomfortable, as if he might bolt, so Jimin sits as still as possible and waits. "He was talking about a scent gland mark. It's like a softer bite, over the scent gland."

Jimin can't even imagine how good that would feel. The thought has body thrumming. "What does it mean?" He whispers.

"It's an early possession mark, kind of." The alpha tilts his head. "Like a relationship title, but less commitment. It keeps alphas off of omegas, though."

"Even Chanyeol?" Jimin smiles weakly.

Yoongi's body tenses. "I can keep that rutting fuckface off of you," he growls.

"You already did," Jimin admits. Yoongi being jealous? Adorable. "You probably kicked his ass for me."

Yoongi's chest deflates. He looks back and forth across the countertop. "I'd do it again," he promises.

Jimin takes a sip of the tea in front of him and smiles into the sweet taste. He tries to think of how he can ask for what he wants. He thinks Yoongi might mark him if he asks; what he doesn't think of is how to ask Yoongi. He shifts back and forth in his seat, contemplating. The thought of being so straightforward makes him blush.

"What are you thinking?" The alpha is staring at him again.

Jimin swallows heavily. "What if I wanted both?"

The alpha's eyebrows crease. "Both what?"

"Both you keeping Chanyeol off of me, and..." The eyebrows are still creased. Jimin covers his eyes with his hands, but removes them to at least pretend he’s okay. "And the mark, too. For when you’re off working, or something.”

Thick, heavy silence. Jimin stares entirely at his mug and nowhere else. “Or something,” the alpha finally repeats, lowly.

Jimin nods. “Not tonight,” he insists. “I’m too—I’m really—I can’t think straight.”

Yoongi’s growling again.

“I’d want it… another night. Soon. And I know you’d get tired of taking care of me, so I can take care of you,” he promises.

“I’ll take care of you.” The alpha’s tone leaves no room for judgement. “I want to. When—,” he has to cut off his own growl, “When is soon?”

Jimin shrugs. “The next night you’re free,” he suggests.

“Name a night,” the alpha suggests. “I’ll make it free on my end.”

So he takes a sip of his drink to hide his blush and swallows. He looks into his mug and asks, “Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow.” There’s no pause in his agreement; Jimin ducks his head as the alpha seems to straighten impossibly taller. "I'll walk you back from dinner?" Yoongi offers, but Jimin shakes his head.

"I'll need to drop by at home first, sorry," he admits. "I’m helping out in the kitchens—we're making something with fish tomorrow; I'll want to wash off the smell."

The alpha nods. "I'd offer my bath again. But." His jaw clenches. Jimin laughs bashfully.

"I'm sorry about all of that," he offers. "I just..." He hides his red face in his hands.

"The pheromones," the alpha says. "I know."

"I miss my days as a beta," Jimin jokes. "I had control over everything back then."

Yoongi snorts dryly. "Betas," he scoffs. Jimin smiles until Yoongi leans forward over the counter of his island and says, "You should tell me more about your home, when you’re ready.”

He tries to pull up some memories, but everything jumbles together in the present tension.

"I'll bring my cell sometime and show you what's on it," he offers. He'll have to move some of his dance videos to his laptop, but, whatever.

"Why a phone?" The alpha's eyebrows are furrowed.

Jimin doesn't want to overestimate the alpha's knowledge of current technology. "It has all of my pictures. Social media, too, and some videos from when I did dance in university."

His social media, in particular, has a timeline so that he can explain what he did and when—although he's not sure if the signal will be good enough all the way from Yoongi's cabin.

The alpha nods in understanding, though, and takes Jimin's empty mug to rinse out.

At that point, he yawns as quietly as he can, but Yoongi looks at him with a small smile. "If you'd like, you can take the bedroom for the night, although I don't know about the scent. Or I can walk you home," he offers.

Jimin wants nothing more than to curl up in a set of sheets that smell like Yoongi, but doesn't want to impose and definitely couldn't take the smell without, well, rubbing his face into it and scenting it up. The thought makes his body feel a little hot. "I think it would be better if I went home," he admits. "But I can go by myself, so don't worry about it."

The alpha shakes his head. "I'd much rather walk you home during the alpha’s moon.”

Yoongi seems genuinely worried by whatever that is, so Jimin doesn't push and after he grabs his costume, they're ready to head out the door. He offers Yoongi his furs to wear, which the alpha declines quickly and wraps around Jimin instead. After minimal lingering in the doorway, soaking up each others' scents, leaves are crunching beneath their boots.

It's nearly pitch black outside, with only moonlight to guide them back to the omegean den. Jimin is glad he hadn't pushed too hard against the alpha, as the outside is unrecognizable in the nighttime. He slides up to Yoongi warily, and lets out a content sigh as the alpha wraps an arm around his waist. The amber smell is dulled with light wind blowing against them, but Jimin soaks up all he can get until he finally gains the courage to ask, "So... sorry, but what's the alpha's moon?"

Jimin can hear Yoongi choke a little. The alpha was already stiff, but seems rigid and nervous against him now.

"Rutting is more common," he says. “It’s like an unofficial season. Alphas can be pushy.”

A pause.

"Oh," is all Jimin can say at first. "So, that Chanyeol guy..."

"Was close to rut," the alpha finishes. Despite his stiffness at the topic, Yoongi has a little bit of an angry rasp.

"I see," Jimin says. He winces, and tries to put as delicately as possible, "Then, are you... Any time soon..."

Yoongi chokes and sputters again.

"Sorry!" Jimin yelps. "I just thought, you know—I'm coming over tomorrow and well, maybe, in the future—not to invite myself over—" He covers his own mouth with his hand and whines, frustrated.

Yoongi coughs once, twice more, and takes a deep breath. "You're fine," Yoongi eventually manages, voice still thick. "Come whenever you like."

There's silence for a long while, and Jimin accepts that he most likely overstepped his bounds. He contents himself in the way Yoongi draws him closer, as close as possible against the alpha's form. It gives Jimin prime opportunity to reach his arm back and feel Yoongi's back muscles shifting beneath the sweater he'd thrown on before they’d left. He moves his palm back and forth slightly over the knit material, eager to make up for the embarrassment in some way. He hears a content rumble once or twice, and can't hold back a smile.

Eventually, the path opens up a bit and becomes more defined. Just some yards ahead he can see the den. It makes him sad to think about leaving, but then Yoongi speaks.

"I have more ruts than is typical," Yoongi says slowly as they near the den. "Most have two to four a year, with the longer ones in season, but I usually have seven or eight."

Jimin can feel the flush spreading over his face.

"They're long, too," Yoongi admits. "About three days."

Jimin's ready to choke at that himself.

"I shouldn't have reacted that way earlier," the alpha continues. "An omega asking at an alpha's rut schedule is slang here for asking to sleep together, so I was very surprised until I realized you wouldn't mean that." He pauses, and looks directly forward. "But I was going to warn you when my next rut came close regardless."

Jimin's mind is reeling over the fact that Yoongi had volunteered more than two sentences freely without response on Jimin's side—and about something other than carpentry.

"I see," Jimin says, after a pause. "Not to ask you for a hook up, but is it close?"

Yoongi's posture is rigid. "Six days. Maybe seven."

Jimin looks at the ground. "I don't think I want... That's kind of soon." But the alpha is laughing a little, shaking his head.

"Way too soon," he agrees. "I just wanted to warn you not to come by during that time. I'll be having Namjoon walk you home sometimes, if that's okay—he's bonded, so I trust him."

"Okay," Jimin agrees. His head is turning with ways to spend time together before Yoongi's rut—he'll be deprived for three days, after all.

Yoongi nods, and smiles at him. Jimin loves how the alpha obviously wants to be closer to him, to stay standing with him outside on the porch of the den, and how Yoongi looks like he hates to pull away just a step as he says, "Goodnight, Jimin." But he’s lingering, with a little bit of frustration reading from his expression.

Jimin drops his arm, letting the bag containing his costume hang in his hand. “What’s up?” he asks.

The alpha’s leaning back into his space, and reaching a hand out to smooth down the collar of his own furs much more aggressively than need be. His eyes are locked bellow Jimin’s face—on his neck, he realizes. Chanyeol’s scent must be gone, though—he’d only brushed a hand over Jimin’s skin, and not anywhere close to his scent glands. So it shouldn’t be a matter of Jimin smelling like Chanyeol—

And it’s not, Jimin realizes. Before he can think twice, he asks, “Will you scent me?”

Yoongi manages to move so fast that he feels arms around his waist before he smells the alpha. Jimin’s throat emits a happy sound—another non-beta sound—as Yoongi nuzzles the crook of his neck. He whines a little bit when Yoongi runs his lips against the column of his neck and turns Jimin's head to scent the other side. Before the alpha can pull away, Jimin holds his wrists up, which the alpha growls and rubs against the scent glands there immediately. Once he reeks of amber—the scent should last for days, Jimin thinks—Yoongi pulls away.

"Thank you," he says seriously. Jimin ducks his head.

"You can scent me whenever you want," he says quietly, and in a moment of courage leans in to daringly press a quick kiss to Yoongi's cheek. "Good night," he says as he pulls back.

He thinks he hears Yoongi growl the same way he had during Jimin’s performance. For a second time, Jimin forces himself to ignore the sound, and instead opens the door to the den so that he can slip inside.

Chapter Text

Really, Jimin deserves a medal for how good he is at distracting himself.

He wakes up—yet again—in Min Yoongi’s clothing. He’d slept in the alpha’s clothes, with his furs kept nearby in case of nightmare or general scenting needs. That would have Jimin feeling sated already, but nothing is as satisfying as the heavy whiff of pheromones Jimin gets when he sniffs his own wrists. If Jimin can smell the alpha on himself, then he must reek of Yoongi to others. It’s not an unpleasant thought; in fact, he feels heady and giggly with the knowledge.

He’s safe and warm wrapped up like that, and really he’d love to stay cuddled up all day, but there’s a nagging yet familiar sound distantly ringing in his ear: his alarm. He thinks a small why in the hell at that, because he hasn’t needed an alarm since he’d started online school and quit working in preparation for his compound transition. Nonetheless, he scooches towards the side of his bed, wrapped in an alpha-scented blanket burrito.

The time reads four forty-five in the morning, which draws a groan from Jimin. At the alarm’s label, though, he’s not so mad.

Text Mom. He’d set the alarm last night, he remembers, to give him something productive to do instead of worrying after alpha-related events to come.

Jimin swipes his screen to unlock the phone, and scans over the homescreen. There’s a surprising amount of emails; he briefly swipes through and notes that his professor has sent some of his first assignments. With that noted, he sighs and goes to his most recent messages. His mother remains at the top, but before that he’d sent messages to his brother, to Taemin, and to Jongin. He has the order of friends and family after that memorized, too; he’d made very specific and sentimental decisions in his last days at home.

He taps on his conversation with his mother.

I’m sorry I’ve only texted you twice, he types, but backspaces. I’m sorry I haven’t called yet, I’m saving it for the end of the month—but he backspaces.

He sighs. Looking forward to seeing you for Christmas. It’ll be a long wait. I’m doing pretty okay, and I’ll call as soon as I hear from Comms. Tell jihyun I said hi. I love you.

He backspaces. I miss you. He presses send, after that, before he can spend too much time thinking on what his own decisions might mean. He knows that his mom is probably busy anyways; he’s not her only client, even if he is her son.

At least the bitter thoughts balance out to give him enough clarity to look through his emails. He’s occupied enough with looking over his assignments and getting some basic ideas for their completion. He feels a little sobered-up from his daze, even if he is still on the high that comes with being wrapped up in Yoongi’s clothing. He has this ringing thought that he might have played around enough; he still has a timeframe within which he needs to finish his degrees. Thankfully, his professors have given him the time to become acquainted with his new lifestyle, but Jimin thinks it’s time to buckle down a bit.

A part of him is tempted to grab his laptop and start up right there, but his assignments are largely introductory interviews, so he can’t exactly do that. So at least with a portion of administrative tasks out of the way, Jimin is set to go about his daily routine of getting ready, skipping breakfast, and being productive until his shift hits. But that gives his mind time to wander—which inevitably leads back to Yoongi.

Jimin tries to distract himself first with doing his laundry in the communal wash basin at the end of the hall, but that only busies his hands and leaves his mind to wander. With his clothing hung up to dry, he decides to run through his old stretching routine. He spends a good half hour forcing himself to count to sixty in each stretch until thoughts of Yoongi start to invade again. He tries to go through his phone, to plan out what he's going to share with the alpha regarding betas, but that only makes him more nervous to see the Yoongi that afternoon.

The last thing he tries is taking a nap with Yoongi's shirt, but instead he finds himself shamelessly scenting the material. He ends up pacing, back and forth, and listening to music, until Seokjin knocks on his door to ask why in the hell Jimin has been shuffling around the room so much.

“What’s wrong with you?!” He demands from the doorway. “I can smell Yoongi on your neck from here—you should be happy, not drowning in your own anxiety.”

He's looking at Jimin with an irritated, parental sort of look, so Jimin blurts, "Yoongi's going to mark my scent gland tonight and I'm nervous."

Seokjin snorts. "You never made out with any betas before?"

Jimin blinks at him. "Of course I did," he huffs. It hadn’t been his cup of tea, of course—his biology had ensured that. But he’d tried to find the appeal.

The omega rolls his eyes. "It's like the same thing, but it feels like an orgasm when he gives you the hickey," he says, bluntly.

"What?"

"You two are very compatible, so." Seokjin shrugs, leaning against the doorway. "You'll have a good time."

As if the idea of finally getting physical with Min Yoongi isn’t supposed to make him freak—"I just don't know what to do," Jimin cuts off, not calmly.

The omega pauses. He looks soft and supportive, which makes Jimin feel better already.

"You don't really need to," Seokjin admits, "But just be as forward as you can. If you think it's too bold, it's not.”

Jimin gives him a doubtful look, but the omega continues: “If it helps at all, Hoseok told me that Yoongi has been pacing in the shop for the better part of an hour. Apparently the whole shop stinks like pre-rut. I was actually sent to tell you to go and get him."

"Oh," says Jimin. He twists his fingers around in his lap. "So... I should go, then?"

Seokjin groans. "Yes, Jimin, you should go—I didn’t come all the way back from shift just to gossip with you." He pauses, then. "Here—Bring a pair of shorts to lay around in, or something. He'll give you a change of clothing. Take the shirt, but wear the shorts. He'll eat that up."

Jimin looks at Seokjin dubiously, but the omega stares him right back down until Jimin begins to dig through his drawers. He retrieves and places the clothing—along with sleeveless tank, to avoid looking ridiculous—into his bag. Seokjin nods in approval.

"Yoongi and I were friends even before I met Namjoon," he says. "I know what he likes."

Jimin doesn’t know how he feels about that. “Did you—were you—,”

“Hell no,” Jin scoffs. “Just pack friends, I guess you could say. Yoongi is popular, sure, but not with this face.”

That has Jimin even more worried. “Popular?”

The omega runs his arms absentmindedly over the sleeves of his own sweater. “Of course,” he snorts. “He’s quiet and high-ranking. Alphas like to pretend we’re not competitive, but omegas like a challenge just as much as the rest do.”

Jimin looks at the bag in his lap, inside of which the alpha’s clothing and his own are now folded together.

“But don’t worry.” There’s a hand ruffling through Jimin’s hair. “If he smells like pre-rut this early, he’s set on you.”




So after a heavy debate between procrastinating and leaving early, Jimin is pulling open the heavy door to the carpenter's shop. The walk over had been absolutely terrifying, but he’d at least been able to tell himself to shut down his brain until directly confronted with the source of his anxiety. He's holding the bag of Yoongi's clothing from the previous night, which Hoseok eyes curiously as he approaches the front.

"How are you?" Jimin asks politely, but the omega has other plans.

"God, you really scented the shit out of those," Hoseok cackles. "You're gonna make him pop a knot when he gets a whiff."

Jimin's entire face is burning. "I'm just going to—go on back," he stutters, turning.

A laugh in response. "Thanks for picking him up!" Hoseok calls as Jimin closes the back door behind him.

But contrary to what Seokjin had heard, Yoongi is hard at work when Jimin enters. Maybe a little too hard at work, if the angry expression he catches for a second is anything to go by. It's not present for long, though; the second the alpha catches Jimin’s scent, he’s looking up.

"Jimin," he greets, voice warm even despite the rumble. He straightens up from a frame of some sort, which he’d been sanding, and walks up into Jimin’s space. "You're not at shift?"

Jimin takes one whiff of the alpha and steps to erase Yoongi’s remaining personal space without a second thought.

He really doesn’t have the choice; Yoongi smells, somehow, impossibly better. The blend of cedar and amber is especially intense. "I ended up being given the day off," he admits shyly. "Seokjin said I should drop by."

Yoongi takes a second to rub his thumb over Jimin's cheek—Jimin wants to faint, really, at the whiff of scent he picks up from the alpha’s wrist. "'M glad you came," he says. "I wanted to head out early."

Jimin's brows furrow. "You’re not going to dinner?" Not that he’s opposed.

"I have some things at home," Yoongi responds. "I figured we could eat and relax for a bit."

The alpha is looking at Jimin with a questioning expression, and he nods gratefully in response. He's going to need some time to cool down before they do... whatever it is they end up doing. He shivers at the thought.

"That sounds great," he says, and smiles shyly.

"Let me just close up," the alpha responds. He reaches toward the workbench and grabs a ring of simple-looking keys off of the surface without breaking eye contact. “I’ll take that from you,” he rumbles, looking intently towards the bag Jimin is carrying.

Jimin hands it over without a second thought; he’s too busy with brushing every inch of skin he can against Yoongi’s even to consider politely declining. Maybe he didn’t need Jin’s advice; the alpha’s scent, so much stronger today, has Jimin thinking of doing things he’d be too embarrassed to do before.

He might have been caught, if the alpha’s clenched jaw is any indication—or maybe that’s from the way he can definitely smell Jimin’s scent on his clothing. Regardless of the cause, Yoongi transfers his keys into the hand with Jimin’s bag and laces their fingers together with his other. It’s impossibly gentle; his own hand is dwarfed inside Yoongi’s, but it’s also being treated like some delicate and breakable thing.

Jimin lets himself be led out of the workroom and into the front area, trying not to vocalize the squeak building in the back of his throat. Hoseok is still behind his desk, of course, turning to look at Jimin with a smug look while Yoongi locks the back room. He does this all holding Jimin’s hand with his right while balancing his bag and keys together in his left.

“Heading to dinner early?” Hoseok asks, and his teasing tone has Jimin flushing. The omega definitely knows.

But Yoongi rolls his eyes and tosses the keyring, which Hoseok catches. “Yes,” he says intently, narrowing his eyes at Hoseok. “Tell Jin I said ‘hi’ when you talk to him again.”

The omega at least presses his lips together at that. Jimin tries not to laugh into the collar of Yoongi’s furs. “I’ll wrap up the sanding today,” Hoseok finally offers.

But the alpha stiffens. “I’m doing that for this order,” he says levelly, to which Hoseok’s smirk is returning. Before the omega can say anything, though, Yoongi cuts off with: “Junghwa came again early this morning.”

Hoseok pales. “About Heeyeon?”

The alpha’s eyebrows raise indifferently to Hoseok’s question, though; Jimin wants to laugh at the back-and-forth between them, but Yoongi is pulling them towards and out of the door. He thinks he can hear Hoseok cursing before the wood of the door slams shut behind them.

“Hoseok is a bit much, sometimes,” Yoongi comments afterwards. Jimin thinks he almost sounds apologetic, or even a bit irritated.

“He’s fine,” Jimin laughs off. The light mood doesn’t last long, though—Yoongi’s removing his hand from Jimin’s and wrapping it firmly around his waist. Pulled in like that, Jimin almost misses the look of an unfamiliar alpha walking past. He might smile into Yoongi’s side at that, even with the returning feeling of tension.

“I’m glad you think so,” Yoongi finally responds. His arm is pressed tightly against Jimin’s waist, even through the thick pelts of fur.

Jimin tries not to nuzzle into Yoongi’s side. “How has your day been?” he asks politely.

“It’s been,” Yoongi says lowly. The alpha shrugs, and runs his hand up and down gently against Jimin’s waist like he’s absentmindedly trying to make warmth. “I’ll be able to come by and drop your bedroom furniture off soon.”

Jimin takes a brief pause to appreciate the slight slur between Yoongi’s words whenever he speaks. “I only have afternoon shifts,” he offers.

Yoongi nods, as if he already knows. Jimin wouldn’t put it past Hoseok to tell the alpha. “I’ll probably do some finishing work and have everything brought over after dinner, if that’s okay. It gives me enough time to put in the request with Jin.”

“Request?” Jimin looks up at the alpha, but Yoongi’s already looking back. The eye contact is almost too much.

“To enter the omegean den,” Yoongi clarifies, which has Jimin nodding in understanding. “I should have some other pieces cut and clamped for drying before I’m gone.”

And at that, Jimin flushes. He’s nervous, though, about not having the alpha around for those three days. The anxiety only increases, for some reason, when he thinks about spending time together beforehand. He’s worried, he thinks, about being cut off from the alpha—even for just a short time.

“Is there anything I can do?” Jimin asks, even if it makes him want to wince at his own lack of subtlety.

Yoongi’s eyes are slightly wider with surprise. His grip around Jimin tightens a bit. “You’ve already done plenty,” he says, though, and raises the bag in his other hand. Mortification runs hot through Jimin’s veins. “You don’t need to do anything for me.”

But that sounds like an answer out of concern for Jimin’s wellbeing, and not for the alpha’s. “But there’s nothing I could do, even if I wanted?”

Yoongi looks straight forward as they walk onto the path towards the treeline. “If you wouldn’t mind walking home with Namjoon,” he reminds. Jimin nods, and says nothing to prompt the alpha for more.

But he shakes his head before continuing. “Just take care of yourself. Eat well, and try to stay in when it’s dark,” he requests, and Jimin wants to melt.

“Okay,” he promises. He might have to make the morning trip to the kitchens, but that’s just fine.

Yoongi seems to take a pause, considering. “Did you sleep in my clothes?” He’s holding up Jimin’s bag again.

Jimin wants to dig his toes into the ground and let gravity take care of the rest. “I did,” he finally admits. He's just glad that Yoongi hadn’t asked about the blatant scenting of them.

The alpha doesn’t say anything, though, just gives a deep and contented-sounding rumble while they continue past the treeline. It’s comfortable silence, after that, although the tension is still thick with the scent of Yoongi’s pheromones between them. Ultimately, though, Jimin feels safe the entire walk up to the porch and through the front door.

The first thing the alpha does, after taking his coat to hang up, is offer Jimin a change of clothing. Seokjin seems to know quite a bit about alphas after all.

"There's a sweater and a pair of loose pants on my bed," he says. "You can wear them, if you'd like."

He's opening his bedroom door for Jimin, which floods more of the alpha’s scent into Jimin’s nose. To maintain his sanity, Jimin tries to think about the other scent in the cabin; the contents of what had looked like a slowly-cooking pot on the kitchen’s stove. It smells promising all the way from the kitchen. In effect, it smells like something his mother would have made in an electric slow-cooker back home.

The thought that Yoongi had food prepared, just in case, makes him giggly. What would the alpha have done if Jimin had said he'd planned to eat in the kitchens?

"I'll change, then." He carefully moves into the alpha’s room, but only after taking his bag back. He hopes that the look on Yoongi’s face is in response to his scent as the movement jostles the clothing inside.

He actually takes Yoongi's clothing from the end of his bed to the bathroom—he takes the sweater, anyways—and splashes his face with cold water before changing. He isn't drunk off of alpha's scent yet but knows it's only a matter of time.

Looking in the mirror, though, he's thankful for Seokjin—he looks cute, cute enough to feel confident that he'll at least have an effect on the alpha's composure. He might be wearing his cousin's shorts—his female cousin's shorts, that he'd stolen a while ago on a family retreat—and Yoongi’s much-too-large sweater, but he thinks he looks okay. A cute and sexy okay. He fluffs up his hair before trailing back into the main space.

He actually finds Yoongi in the kitchen, stirring the contents of the pot. The alpha turns to him with a smile, making eye contact, but that quickly morphs into a dark look when those eyes graze his legs.

Jin might really know what he’s talking about.

"That smells nice," Jimin comments as he moves to lean against the counter. The alpha rumbles quietly in acknowledgement as he spoons beef and vegetables into two large bowls. He catches Yoongi piling up one very large serving and hopes it isn't supposed to be for him.

Yoongi sets the larger serving in front of him. Of course.

"I can't eat all of this," Jimin laughs. "Not even close, I'm sorry, I—This is huge."

Yoongi's eyebrows draw together in confusion until he looks at Jimin's bowl. The alpha grimaces. "I tried to make them even."

Jimin raises an eyebrow at the alpha in disbelief.

"It's an instinct thing. I didn't mean to give you that much—I don't think anyone could eat this in one sitting," he explains. His cheeks are flushed a light pink. Jimin decides to forgive him.

"Well, I'll make a dent in it," he promises. Yoongi smiles apologetically at him. He goes to pull two forks out of a drawer—top and to the right of the sink, Jimin notes—but hesitates to bring them to the table. He looks extremely embarrassed, even for such a big bad alpha, which throws Jimin off for quite a while until it clicks. He feels a ticklish heat in the bottom of his stomach.

"Should I move somewhere?" He swallows. "So you could, um, feed me?"

Yoongi's grip on the bowls tenses, but he nods, albeit stiffly. "Living room," he rumbles, and Jimin stands up without a second thought. He settles down on the couch, and the alpha joins him soon after. Jimin notices how Yoongi sets his own bowl on the coffee table, immediately taking Jimin's into his hands.

That has him frowning at first, but the alpha is looking at him in heavy way, so he scoots all the way up into the alpha's space. If you think it's too bold, it's not.

"It looks so good," he mutters, and even can’t help but hum a little when Yoongi gives him a bite to taste. "It is good," he amends.

Yoongi takes a sharp inhale. “I’m happy to hear that," he says, and holds up another piece.

Jimin is actually pleased that what makes Yoongi's food taste so good is the cut of the meat rather than the way it's cooked. It's actually somewhat plain—which he likes, because a part of him wants to cook for his alpha.

His alpha. He shivers, lips curling around Yoongi's fingers on the third bite. He hears a sharp growl in response and whines.

Yoongi's eyes are completely fixed on him while he's eating. Jimin's leaning in farther without realizing. He waits for Yoongi to move Jimin's bowl off of his lap so that Jimin can move forward again. He may or may not be leaning into the alpha’s lap by that point, but he’s starting to feel a little fuzzy.

Yoongi's pheromones are so much more powerful even than the day before, and he knows that he'll be eating out of the palm of the alpha’s hand—and figuratively, this time—soon enough. He doesn't mind at all.

Jimin manages three more bites, which he's proud of himself for, considering the haze settling over him. When Yoongi holds up the next bite, Jimin holds onto the hand with both of his. He swallows his food quickly, but goes back to lick at Yoongi's fingers shyly.

"Pretty," the alpha murmurs, tracing his thumb over Jimin's bottom lip.

Jimin can't help but move forward to hide his face in Yoongi's shoulder. He rubs his face back and forth in the crook where shoulder meets neck, and hears a clinking sound to his left—probably the bowl being set aside.

"Yoongi, scent me?" He asks, and giggles when the alpha nuzzles in and teases the collar of his own sweater aside with his nose. He wraps his arms around Yoongi's neck and snuggles in, pressing his front to the alpha's and even daring to press a quick kiss against black hair. The alpha's hands trace gently over his back and onto his waist, which makes Jimin feel very small but also very, very cared for. He's not as surprised when he starts purring, but it still gives him a jolt. Yoongi grins when Jimin pulls away in surprise.

"I can't believe you're here," Yoongi says, eyes crinkling, and Jimin wants to cry at how handsome the alpha is.

"Why wouldn't I be?" His voice is a little thick and whispery through the purring, and when he tries to clear his throat the sound is only forced a little louder. He covers his mouth with his hands.

Yoongi laughs a little and pulls Jimin's hands away by his wrists. "All those alphas after you, but you're purring for me," he says, and rubs his nose against Jimin's a few times affectionately. He backs away and raises an eyebrow. "Guess I should be thankful for Park Chanyeol."

Jimin rolls his eyes. "You act like everyone has been flirting with me when it's really only been you two," he says, feeling daring.

"They don't approach you, but they're interested. I'm lucky you wear my furs," Yoongi grumbles. He takes his time intertwining their fingers and looking over their joined hands. "I hope you won't run off if I say this, but you're the most gorgeous omega I've ever seen."

Jimin looks at the alpha's serious expression and shrinks into himself, even if he does it with a smile he can’t help. He knows how much it must take for Yoongi to say something like that, because Jimin himself can hardly talk about how handsome Yoongi is out loud. He wants to say something—to protest, or to insist that Yoongi is the pretty one, but instead all he can do is blush and kiss the alpha's cheek.

"Thank you," he says. And then, "I'm not going to run off."

There's a sharp exhale. Yoongi's pupils are blown wide, with only a sliver of brown being exposed. He's looking at Jimin like he's a scared animal that he doesn't want to scare off; ironic, considering what he'd just said. The alpha's gaze is pretty intimidating, though: focused and carefully composed, eyes flickering back and forth and down to Jimin's neck where the high collar of Yoongi's sweater covers the majority of his shoulders. Jimin briefly entertains the thought of taking it off to reveal his tank underneath, shuts the thought down, and then brings it up again. If you think it's too bold, it's not. Right? The more exposed skin, the sooner Yoongi will put his hands on Jimin, hopefully.

He has to scoot back in order to remove it—to which Yoongi jolts and actually whines in a low croon until Jimin explains he'll come back (and come closer, he promises)—which leaves him stripping down right in front of the alpha as he peels the sweater off. He's embarrassed by it, but he scents the material against his neck for good measure before laying it down carefully next to them on the couch.

"You were going to mark me, right?" He asks, turning his head at the alpha's wide eyes. "I figured I could help.”

This time around, he can feel the growl coming. “Come here,” Yoongi rasps, hands out. Jimin sits in his lap and shivers when the alpha presses his lips to Jimin’s temple. He’s definitely straddling the alpha at that point, but everything is settling over Jimin’s mind in such a way that he can only move closer.

Yoongi presses kisses across his eyelids, nose, cheeks, and even between his eyebrows. The growling never ceases, but Jimin can make out something about trust me so much and even hears the word ‘precious’ once or twice. He decides to let himself absorb and feel giddy at Yoongi’s words, and keeps his arms wrapped around the alpha’s neck until the growling finally dies down enough for Jimin to hear his own thoughts.

“Park Jimin.” He’s gripping at Jimin’s waist. “Sitting on my lap in nothing.”

Jimin’s face feels too warm. It’s more than nothing, he wants to protest. His shorts might leave a little ass to hang out, but it’s all with good intent. Yoongi seems to agree; he fists the trim in his hands and rasps, “’Gonna make my rut come early.”

The thought of Jimin being associated with Yoongi’s rut is more exciting than it should be. He wants the alpha to be thinking of nothing but him for those three days. He shifts side to side lightly, if only to see the reaction of it on the alpha’s features.

“Yoongi,” he says, and looks down at the alpha’s lips with intent for a few seconds. He hopes Yoongi will get the message; the thought of kissing the alpha himself makes him way too shy, even when he wants it this badly.

“Hmm?” Yoongi’s completely focused in on Jimin’s eyes, Jimin’s body, on everything he does, to the point that he can’t even understand what Jimin is trying to say without words. He whines, and the alpha perks up. “Baby, what’s wrong?”

Jimin likes that. He definitely likes that. “Yoongi, I want—” he licks his lips—which the alpha follows this time, despite the fact that this move was unintentional—and presses their bodies together.

Yoongi seems confused, eyebrows creased together, until Jimin can suddenly see the features change and he knows the alpha finally understands.

“Do you want me to kiss you?”

He asks it so deliberately that Jimin can only nod, red-faced.

Finally, there’s a calloused hand on his face, a thumb rubbing lightly back and forth on his cheek, and Yoongi’s eyes looking from Jimin’s eyes to his mouth. Jimin might be sitting on the alpha’s lap, but Yoongi still manages to feel so much bigger than he is. He feels so cared for and so little when Yoongi looks at him with dark eyes and says, “I really am so lucky,” and leans in. Jimin meets him halfway.

Kissing Yoongi is so different from what he’s used to—he hasn’t ever been so overwhelmed by scent and by pheromones and by that part of him that naturally wants to be passive and just let the alpha do whatever he wants to do. It’s so hot, even though it’s sweet, like Jimin might break, and he wants more and more of that warmth. Yoongi goes to pull away, but Jimin knows he’s not having any of that.

Yoongi,” he whines. “Kiss me again.”

Yoongi curses under his breath and leans in again.

And wow, Jimin thinks, there’s that rush again. For having such calloused hands, the alpha sure has soft lips—he nips at the bottom one, just for the reaction, and finds himself on his back after the world is finished turning. The alpha is on top of him, he realizes. If Yoongi takes control, Jimin is worried how quickly the alpha will be able to smell his arousal.

Yoongi’s snarling, kissing Jimin like it’s the last chance he’ll ever have, running his hands up and down Jimin’s waist like he’ll never get to touch him again. Jimin almost wants to say something, say Yoongi, I’m not going to leave, but the thought is too much. The thought of being with the alpha in the most permanent way is too much, has his back arching at the flash of heat in his stomach. Yoongi’s hand grips the thick strap of his tank top and pulls it completely off his shoulder; he grabs the other and removes it as well.

It really is like wearing nothing, then—his shirt is bunched up and barely covers his nipples; it might even be exposing them, with the way the air is nipping at his skin. He can’t even think to look down and see how the shorts have ridden up with Yoongi in between his legs. The sight might be too lewd—especially with how he’s starting to feel the arousal creep down when Yoongi bites his lip in return.

“’M gonna mark you,” he growls, low and hot into Jimin’s open mouth.

Jimin pants, mouth open as the alpha’s tongue begins to tease inside. “Yeah,” he moans, and wraps a leg up over Yoongi’s hip. You’d better, he wants to growl back, but all that comes out are little shameful submissive sounds.

“Fuck,” the alpha snarls in his ear. He drags a hand down to one of Jimin’s thighs and squeezes it, “Want to mark you so badly.”

“Yoongi—,” the alpha pulls away from his lips after a wet smacking sound that leaves Jimin dizzy, “Want you to mark me.”

He turns his head to expose his neck. His hands are clenching and unclenching against the alpha’s shirt, definitely needy, but then the alpha is growling against his jawline and pressing hot kisses into his neck that leave Jimin to whine and press his body up into the alpha’s as much as possible. Teeth are scraping lightly against the skin there, threatening the idea that Yoongi could bite down and leave a mating mark if he wanted. Jimin actually has to think for a minute to convince himself not to ask for one—a process made more difficult by Yoongi’s free hand bunching Jimin’s tank top up to his collar bones and completely exposing his nipples. Jimin shivers.

“Yoongi—,” but the alpha already knows, is dragging a thumb over the skin there. It leaves Jimin whimpering right out loud, turning his head as far as possible and threading his fingers into the alpha’s hair. It’s all overwhelming, too much, when Yoongi finally starts to kiss at the swell of his scent gland. The feeling is simultaneous pleasure and contentment—he needs Yoongi there, needs the alpha to bare down, to be rough with the skin there until it bruises—

He moans, right out loud. But Yoongi’s kissing a hair away from where he really needs it, “Yoongi—Alpha—,” and that must be the word he’d needed to say, because Yoongi’s lips are pressed right over the gland where he wants them and he’s pulling the skin of it between his lips and Jimin can feel his entire body go slack. His eyes snap open and his muscles lose their tension and all he can smell is the alpha, is their scent, is Yoongi’s scent on him, and it’s where he wants to be. It’s like the pressure is building and being released while he’s satisfied simultaneously.

The alpha’s hands roam while Jimin lies pliant, only able to whine out little moans when Yoongi does something he particularly likes. The rational part of him appreciates that the alpha keeps his touches above the waist, although the purely omegean part of him feels desperate—his cock is painfully hard and definitely straining out against the material of his shorts. Even though Yoongi can probably smell him—just like how Jimin can smell Yoongi in the same way—he doesn’t want the alpha to see. He feels ashamed, almost, especially with his legs so spread open.

Does he want the alpha to touch him? Yes. But Jimin feels that this is already so overwhelming for him—he’s not sure if he could take more.

“Yoongi,” he finally whimpers, blinking back teary vision. “Feels good.”

The alpha is snarling, is pulling Jimin’s legs around his torso while he nips at the gland with his teeth. All Jimin can do in response is let out a pitiful “Hah, hah,” and arch his back at the pressure along his front. He wants the alpha to stay here forever, he thinks, pressed up against him and scenting him to make him stink to any other alphas. He’s rutting up against Yoongi’s body at this point, he knows, dragging himself over the surface of the alpha’s thigh slotted between his legs—he’s probably looking so messy, jaw slack—

But then all at once, Yoongi is pulling away, and that’s the opposite of what Jimin wants. There’s a lot of whining and crying (on his part, he realizes), high and pitiful, until the alpha leans in to kiss him. He melts into it, wants to show Yoongi how submissive he can be—hell, Jimin wants to turn onto his stomach and lift his ass and present—but then Yoongi is pulling away from that too, and Jimin’s feeling a rush of rejection. He whimpers.

“Shhh, Baby,” the alpha croons. Well, that’s not so bad, the distant part of Jimin thinks.

“Don’t wanna stop,” Jimin chokes out, eyes teared. Maybe if he pulls his legs back, or even spreads them—

“Jimin,” Yoongi snarls above him. “I can’t.”

Jimin frowns and demands, “Why not?” He shifts impatiently, “I’m…”

The alpha runs a hand through his hair and over his lips. He takes a deep breath, looking over Jimin’s body, and promptly chokes out loud.

“Fuck,” he rasps. A snarl starts to bubble up, but Yoongi seems to swallow it down at the last second.

Jimin pulls his knees closer together shyly; hadn’t the alpha already known? The smell was obvious, and he’d clearly put his hands—“I thought you knew,” he says shamefully, but glances down at the alpha’s strained pants to confirm what he’d been smelling. “It’s not like you aren’t the same,” he murmurs, and wets his lips.

Yoongi snarls. “Sit up,” is all he says, but he doesn’t sound angry.

Jimin still feels the rejection, but doesn’t think the alpha has any right to tell him what to do or make him feel ashamed for responding—until does he sit up, and feels something very wet and very slick at the back of his underwear.

He looks back from his own shorts to the alpha. Yoongi’s whole frame is shaking and his jaw is clenched. Textbook pages flash like visions over Jimin’s eyes.

“Oh,” says Jimin, ducking his head down.

He never thought he’d be doing this outside of his heats.

“Should I…” Jimin shakes his head; tries to talk some sense into himself. He knows he’s not ready to go as far as his body wants. “Should I change? Or just move? Or take a shower?”

The alpha’s hands are wrapped tightly in the fabric Jimin’s shorts, shaking with the tension. All Jimin can think about is how roughly his hips are being gripped. “I’ll get something for you.” But he sits perfectly still; Jimin waits for at least a minute for the alpha to move, but instead he seems to focus on his own breathing. Finally, he croaks, “Need you to stop spreading your legs for me.”

Jimin lets out a small meep-like sound and shuts his knees at that. The alpha bristles; Jimin feels mortified. He wants to tilt his head to the side apologetically but knows he’ll only end up whining again if he gets any sort of reaction from the alpha.

Finally, though, Yoongi is able to move from the couch, although he does look back over his shoulder at Jimin several times to make sure he hasn’t moved. Jimin remains frozen even while Yoongi disappears into his bedroom, and he]=[ even refuses to move until the alpha comes back to offer him the previous pair of sweats, and an ugly coral-colored sack.

“You’ll have to change here; if you—in my room—,” Yoongi exhales, a growl coating the end of the sound.

He nods. “What’s that?” Jimin looks at the bag intently.

The alpha shifts. “We can’t smell items in it. For you to put your shorts—and underwear. Please.”

Jimin nods; Yoongi sets the items on the couch next to Jimin, and turns back. He looks like he’d rather be anywhere than far from Jimin; his eyes are wild, as usual, but anxious.

“Do you want to stay in here?” Jimin offers.

The alpha shudders, full-body. “Please,” he chokes. Jimin marvels at how low his voice still manages to sound.

“I’ll be changing then, then,” he warns shyly. Yoongi seems conflicted at that—he growls, but immediately shakes his head, and faces away.

From that point, Jimin changes quickly. It seems to be the worst when he peels his underwear away and down his legs; there’s a scary pounding sound against the drywall from Yoongi’s direction. He wipes away the slick with his shorts as best he can, and tucks the garments into the bag.

As he nears the sack, he can understand why Yoongi wouldn’t be able to smell the contents; it’s soaked in beta sweat, which he knows alphas can’t register. Smells like regular old body odor to Jimin, and he wrinkles his nose away from it until he realizes that the inside seems to still be clean. There must be some sort of a lining between two sheets of fabric.

He pulls on the sweats quickly, then, and adjusts his tank top before pulling on Yoongi’s sweater. “I’m finished,” he calls, and the alpha is on him surprisingly quickly. That has Jimin’s arousal protesting weakly, but he tries desperately to ignore it.

The first order of business seems to be the bag itself; Yoongi grabs the thing and tucks it into the closet near his kitchen pantry. He turns around with pink cheeks. “Can I have these?”

“My underwear?” But the alpha nods.

“For my rut,” he clarifies in a rasp.

And that at least has Jimin understanding why he’d ask, even if it does have his body a little bit hotter again. “Uhm, if it would help, go ahead.”

Yoongi’s entire body seems to tone down just a notch at that; he forces himself to rest against the closed door of the closet, even while his arms are crossed tensely over his chest.

He looks at Jimin like that, for several tense seconds, and Jimin can feel that hot look on his skin even from across the room.

Finally, the alpha exhales heavily. “Let me make you some tea,” he rumbles, and turns toward the kitchen counter.

Jimin throws himself against the back of the couch with a frustrated sigh. The worst part of it all is thinking that Yoongi might feel the same.




“Are you comfortable?”

No, Jimin wants to whine. The alpha is sitting too far away. “I am,” he lies politely.

They’ve settled in such a way that they’re at opposite ends of the couch. Jimin has never been so thankful to be seated on a small couch in his life, but it’s still too much distance; in the span less than two minutes, Jimin has shifted in false discomfort at least three times just to be closer.

He wants Yoongi’s hands on him, preferably minutes ago.

Instead of vocalizing that, though, Jimin takes a careful sip of spicy sweetness. For the first time, he sees the alpha drinking something himself—it smells peppermint-y even from where Jimin is sitting, and a lot less sweet. Yoongi’s jaw also clenches after each gulp, in such a specific way that it seems as if he’s not enjoying his own drink. He'd also originally brought in a glass of water along with the two drinks, and set it on the coffee table. The whole thing piques Jimin’s curiosity.

“What are you drinking?” Jimin finally asks.

His jaw is clenching again. “A stabilizer,” Yoongi rumbles. "It's a kind of suppressant."

And that has Jimin curling up and into himself with a strange sense of satisfaction. He knows from his mother that those tablets can only make an alpha’s throat burn, even when dissolved in water. But the idea of Yoongi needing to control his hormones just by continuing to be in Jimin’s presence—that’s endlessly flattering.

Still, though, he feels awful. “If it would be easier, I could leave.”

“No.” There’s a rough edge to the word. Yoongi exhales. “I’ll be fine, soon; you should talk to me.”

The way he says the words somehow still feels like a compliment to Jimin; he blinks heavily a few times, and adjusts the mug in his hand. It, like all other things in the compound, looks to be handmade.

“About what?” Jimin asks.

“About anything,” Yoongi suggests, almost like he’s asking for some big favor. “Tell me something about you.”

Jimin tries to think of something, but he can’t pull a direct topic that he feels is worth conversation—until he remembers what the alpha had asked after in the first place. “Well,” Jimin hedges. “I could tell you a bit about where I came from.”

Yoongi nods once. “How was your transition?”

Jimin shrugs. He hasn’t really had time to process, himself. “Okay, I think.” Another sip, and he allows himself to ramble a bit. “It’s all different here, but I presented so late; I think being older made things easier.”

The alpha nods carefully. Jimin feels like it might be a gentle nudge to continue, so he adds, “But also, my mom works for Comms, so I knew what to expect—and I had some privileges, because of that.”

“Privileges?” Another sip, and a slight wince.

Jimin wants to whine for Yoongi’s sake, but forces the reaction down in favor of nodding. “Keeping technology and internet access, general electricity and outlet use—and visits. She’ll be coming down with my brother in a little while for a holiday.”

A pause. “What does your mother do for Comms?”

Jimin tries to think over his answer carefully, even if he has a lot of trust in Yoongi. For compounds, Comms serves as a controlling barrier around their entire universe—for Jimin, growing up, Comms was the government sect that protected betas from the dangerous “other” dynamics. Finally, he answers truthfully: “She sorts beta defaults into compounds.”

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “So you really did know what was coming.”

Jimin nods carefully. “I’m lucky, in a sense.”

But Yoongi looks doubtful at that, with a sort of protectiveness in his eyes, so Jimin continues: “It’s easier for defaults to present as an omega than as an alpha, so I was lucky there, too. Betas don’t exactly keep stabilizers around—there’s kind of a stigma.”

Yoongi is surprisingly blunt, as he says: “They’re worried about savage presentations?”

Jimin winces a little. He remembers his first conversation with Seokjin—and his own use of the word. “Betas can’t handle that stage, I guess.”

Yoongi nods. “It’s understandable,” he admits, which Jimin is surprised at. He doesn’t think of the alpha as particularly defensive, but he’d expected more defense for Yoongi’s own rank.

Jimin shrugs. “I don’t know if it’s fair, but I was lucky. I still get to finish school.”

“Namjoon said you were in higher education?”

Jimin nods. “I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in psychology, but the transition changes things.”

Yoongi sets his mug down, and reaches for the cup of water beside it. Jimin finally understands why the alpha had brought over three drinks in the first place—to wash down the burning sensation from the suppressant. The effect is immediate, though; Yoongi’s entire body seems to become just slightly less tense once it’s finished.

“Sorry about that,” the alpha rumbles. Finally, finally, he opens up his hands in Jimin’s direction.

That could mean a lot of things—an offering to take the drink from his hand, or even just to hold his hands—but instead Jimin takes the chance to move all the way into Yoongi’s personal space. He’s surprisingly subtle about it, considering how much he wants to take. He wants to press his entire body up against the alpha’s front and kiss him to the point of dizziness, but instead he settles for pressing into the man’s side. A small victory, Jimin thinks.

“Your school work changed?” Yoongi prompts. He wraps an arm around Jimin’s waist to pull him in tighter, which gives Jimin the courage to nose into the alpha’s neck.

“I’m doing graduate-level work, now,” Jimin says, and kisses softly at the skin there. There’s a contented growl bubbling up into the room. He has to physically restrain himself from straightening up to lick at the alpha’s scent gland.

There’s a hand threading through his hair, though, and that’s nice. “What are you working on?” It’s a soft rumble.

Jimin tries to remember what on earth his emails had been about earlier that day. “I have to do some interviews, I think,” he murmurs. Every time he blinks, his eyelashes brush against Yoongi’s neck. He figures now is the time to ask, while he’s comfortable, “Do you think I could interview you?”

The alpha hums. “Of course,” he says. “I could talk to Namjoon, too; he’d be excited about it.”

And that has Jimin sobering up, although not by much at all. “You think he’d have the time?”

A low laugh in response. “He’d be glad to have an excuse to stop bothering the elders. I’ll mention it to him tomorrow before I get your furniture settled in.”

He presses a kiss to Yoongi’s skin again. “Thank you,” he says quietly.

Yoongi pulls back a bit. Jimin whimpers, but that all dissolves into purring once the alpha is shifting them both to nose insistently into his neck. Jimin pulls back at the neck of his sweater and tilts his head as obediently as he can.

“I’m going to have to walk you home soon,” Yoongi mumbles. But he’s pressing soft little kisses, almost reverently, over Jimin’s entire neck.

Jimin fists his hands into the soft material of the alpha’s shirt. It’s overwhelming all at once—the sense of his broad chest, the scent, and the feeling of being spoiled. “Kiss me until I have to leave,” he whines.

And if it sounds like he’s begging, that’s alright, because Yoongi does—although he pulls back far too soon.

“I should get you home,” he growls against Jimin’s lips. All the details of his eyelashes are visible to Jimin. “Before my rut really does come early.”

There’s that familiar heat hitting the very base of his stomach again. He whimpers as the alpha pulls away. “Yoongi, before I go,” he starts, pulling at the alpha’s shirt. His entire face must be red, and he knows he couldn’t walk on such weak knees.

Warm hands are moving to cover Jimin’s own. There’s something about the way Jimin’s hands are nearly completely covered that’s even more embarrassing. “What is it?” Yoongi hums. He looks like he might be in more pain than Jimin is, though.

“Are you—when you’re gone—,” Jimin huffs. He doesn’t know what he wants to say, and his stomach is turning nervously: “Think about me, when you’re gone.”

He's anxious, watching Yoongi’s face. Jimin’s eyes are flickering nervously back and forth between Yoongi’s expression and his hands, but he manages to see the shift in the alpha’s features. His shocked look morphs into a darkened one, and Jimin chances a smile.

“Park Jimin,” he growls, but Jimin’s darting away towards the closet in the entryway for the alpha’s furs. He's laughing out loud, both at the fact that Yoongi let him go and that he’d managed to take the man by surprise in the first place.

He can see Yoongi eventually stand, and he’s looking so tortured. As the man ultimately smiles at him, though, Jimin thinks that he can’t wait to ask for a goodnight kiss.

Chapter Text

His life might arguably be a mess, but Jimin is really starting to get the hang of the whole teaching thing—and he’d never seen himself wanting to do so in the first place. The whole situation has him feeling a bit proud.

“What do I do with the rest?” Dahye is asking. Her little hand curls adorably around the width of her handmade pencil.

Jimin smiles and crouches down. “There shouldn’t be any left,” he reminds. “Why don’t you try it again on the backside and double check?”

She huffs, with chubby cheeks puffing outward, and flips the paper. Jimin almost wants to laugh a little at the frustration she shows in re-drawing the radical.

Dahye and about three other kids are still struggling with some of the intermediate long division problems, although the others are whizzing through worksheet after worksheet. Still, Jimin wants to wait for the four kids to catch up before moving on to remainders and decimals.

“When am I going to need this?” A smaller pup—Jiwoo, Jimin reminds himself—whines.

It's the first time Jimin has been asked this question. The critique itself doesn’t surprise him. Instead, his own answer does: “Have you ever thought about becoming a carpenter? Or helping in the kitchens?”

“Not the kitchens,” Jiwoo mumbles.

Jimin knows what he needs to follow up with, but the words leave him feeling funny. “Well, carpenters and cooks need to divide plenty,” he finally says.

“What do you know about carpenters?” Dahye interrogates. “Do you know Alpha Min?”

Jimin wants to crawl into a hole—his blabbing mouth just can’t seem to stop bringing Yoongi up in conversation, even at his job, for Christ’s sake. “I do, and Omega Jung, too,” he emphasizes.

“Did Alpha Min give you that mark?” Jiwoo questions, looking at Jimin’s neck. He’s perfectly curious, but Jimin feels shame run hot.

“Get back to division, you two,” he scolds. They seem to accept the instruction obediently, but Jimin is left with lingering embarrassment all throughout shift.

He knows that his cultural understanding of professionalism is different—Seokjin has spoken about how much he loves Namjoon on several occasions in front of the kids. There would be nothing wrong, really, with admitting that he’s involved with Yoongi, but it doesn’t seem right to say so. On the one hand, Jimin is still relatively up in the air about what’s going on; he knows Yoongi is at least physically interested in him, and he seems to be emotionally interested in his wellbeing. But on the other, Jimin just feels entirely frantic.

He feels kind of desperate for the alpha’s presence, and he’d seen Yoongi just hours beforehand—the same day, even, by the time Jimin had finally snuck a chaste goodnight kiss and slipped into the den. He’d slept so fitfully that by the time he did wake up, he barely had enough time to get ready for his shift. Seokjin had given his neck an understanding eye and let it pass, but Jimin is still left with this lingering desire to be near the alpha. He’s clinging on to the fact that Yoongi will be delivering his furniture that evening, but it feels physically different than it had before.

He also has far too many questions about Yoongi’s rut—about ruts in general, and specifically what it means for Jimin to not be with him whenever it hits. He still has a couple of days before Yoongi figuratively locks himself away, according to what the alpha had said last. For reasons that Jimin can’t really place, he feels like he’s racing against time.

Ultimately, though, he doesn’t have time to stress about it. He has problems to review and stories to read, and his shift is always a busy one with thirty kids to take care of. His whole day feels like a rush until shift finally does hit its end, seemingly out of nowhere. Before he realizes it, Jimin is walking two of the smallest pups out to meet their parents.

However, standing in the snow are not four, but five people. The addition is unfortunately not the familiar alpha Jimin wants to see. Instead, it’s the one looking worse for the wear.

“Chanyeol.” Jimin blinks, and immediately tenses. From behind him Jin comes to take both pups from Jimin’s hands into his own.

The omega is saying soothing words to the pups as he brings them to their parents, but he also cuts Chanyeol a sharp no-nonsense sort of look that leaves the alpha flinching.

Jimin’s sure of Seokjin’s strength of character, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t surprised to see Park Chanyeol flinching to an omega. Of course, Jimin hasn’t met the post-rut side of the alpha yet, but he’s inclined to think of the man as hotheaded and disrespectful regardless of hormones.

Jimin wraps his arms around his own waist and looks at the alpha warily. He’s especially relieved to be wearing Yoongi’s furs. Chanyeol steps up, and there’s still a sizeable amount of space between them, but Jimin has the faint longing to back away just as much. He also has this particular feeling of wanting to whine for Yoongi, even though he knows the alpha isn’t there.

“I came to apologize,” the alpha starts, and that has Jimin’s lips pursing into a thin line.

Chanyeol looks almost panicked, though, and surprisingly genuine. Dubiously, Jimin loosens his shoulders. His feet are still ready to bolt, however.

“I, uh.” He’s adjusting his dark brown furs, which hang open. His cheeks are also flushed. Jimin wonders if he’s still in post-rut fever; according to memories of his textbooks, it’s possible. “I can’t apologize enough. I shouldn’t have even been out in the first place.”

Jimin’s eyebrows furrow at that. “Why were you out if your rut was so close?”

He shakes his head and gives a bitter smile. “News about your performance was going around. I wanted to challenge Min for his offering—but not like that.”

Jimin tenses up again, arms drawing in tighter against furs. “You’ve got quite the bruise there,” he says stiffly.

It might have been too harsh to say; Chanyeol looks discouraged at that, and shrugs. The skin of his right cheek does look beat as all hell, though; the bruise itself is mottled with spots of blood which have risen to the surface. “I deserved it,” he says.

Jimin shifts one foot into the light layer of barely-sticking snow beneath his feet. The alpha really does look regretful. “I believe you,” Jimin admits, shifting. “Believe that you mean it, anyways.”

There’s that same bittersweet smile. “I do,” Chanyeol promises.

A slight silence falls between them, then. Jimin blinks away at a snowflake on his eyelash, freeing up the blur in his vision, and sighs. “I forgive you,” he finally offers.

He doesn’t necessarily want to—he’s doing it out of kindness, and out of the part of him that wants to be done with the overall anxiety that the situation gives him. But he does believe Jin, who had told him even during the alpha’s rude behavior that Chanyeol was a genuine person.

He also wants to get the hell out of the yard and wrap up his shift—so that he can see Yoongi at dinner, he realizes. Jimin thinks he needs to shake some sense into himself.

But there’s some visible relief in response to his words. Chanyeol looks down at the grass of the yard beneath their feet and then back up at Jimin. “I guess it really is too late, even aside from how I acted.”

He’s looking purposefully at Jimin’s neck—thankfully not in a heavy way. It takes real effort not to pull the collar of Yoongi’s furs up. The bitter part of him is still irked, but he tries his best to be open and fair. He knows that Chanyeol is just looking at the mark on his neck. Ironically, he’s the indirect cause of that mark itself.

Jimin’s about to nod in response (as politely as possible), but Chanyeol isn’t looking at him. He’s reaching into the inside of his furs instead, fumbling around with the lining.

“I had guessed that this could happen,” he’s saying, “But I wanted to bring this, so that you could consider me.”

He’s pulling out a loop of expensive-looking beads on a chain that appears suspiciously like a bracelet.

“I want to show you that I can be a provider,” he says seriously. He’s extending the jewelry in his hand.

Jimin can feel the blood drain from his face.

“This is too kind,” is the first thing Jimin says politely, robotically. “I can’t accept this.”

It’s delivered very stiffly, with embarrassment—and a bit of wonder at how Chanyeol can stand there, with pink cheeks and so much sincerity, after having been beaten to a pulp by the alpha whose scent Jimin drowns in. Chanyeol’s shaking his head very seriously, though.

“Please don’t consider me when accepting this,” he says.

And there’s something vaguely alarming about that dialogue, and about the assumption of acceptance. Jimin shuts the nagging feeling down in favor of dealing with the situation directly; he doesn’t plan to let his stress get in the way of communication. It’s a new culture; he has to be open and honest, and he doesn’t want to lead Chanyeol on in any way. He threads his fingers through the fur of his coat, and says softly: “I’m not going to accept this, although I appreciate it.”

There’s a marked shift then, in the feel of their conversation. The alpha’s expression shifts into something that almost looks like shock; Jimin’s once again reminded of entitlement.

But he is surprised by the response. “I see,” Chanyeol says, and pulls the bracelet back. He looks especially dejected then, although does at least seem very accepting.

Jimin clears his throat. He does feel bad for Chanyeol, in the end. “I’m sorry if I seem inconsiderate,” he says. He wants to say more, but he’s not confident enough to do so.

But there’s an up-turn of the alpha’s lips again. “It’s Alpha Min, I know.”

Jimin’s curiosity flutters a bit with the respectful use of Yoongi’s rank. Is Chanyeol implying distance? It doesn’t seem appropriate, given that they’re both alphas and in the same age range. But he nods as imperceptibly as he can, regardless. He might not be able to admit to the depth of his feelings for Yoongi, but he can share their existence.

Chanyeol shrugs, but Jimin can see that he’s hurt. He’s smiling as he observes: “You’ve found a mate very quickly. Not that it’s a surprise.”

“It’s not—,” Jimin flushes. “It’s not anywhere near there yet.”

He doesn’t miss the way his mouth let out that last word, but he tries to push it back into the depths of his mind.

Chanyeol is nodding in response, and he takes a step back. With the distance between them, Jimin can finally take a deep breath and acknowledge that the alpha seems like a very handsome and kind man. He probably would have received the alpha’s offer favorably in a different setting, in one where Yoongi didn’t exist.

The alpha sighs. “Well,” he says, and jams his hands into the pockets of his furs. “I’m not going to make you stand outside.”

“It’s fine,” Jimin says, although he does shiver, “Thank you for your apology.”

Chanyeol nods. “Our pack alpha is very lucky,” he says, and his cheeks might even be as pink as Jimin’s.

Jimin ducks shyly into Yoongi’s collar. “I think I’m pretty lucky,” he admits. He reminds himself to ask about that title again.

The alpha looks like he wants to speak up at that, to contradict him or insist, but Seokjin is thankfully stepping back from his conversation with the pups’ parents some feet away. He’s crossing the distance between them purposefully.

“Jimin-ah,” he’s calling warmly, even if his eyes do flicker over tensely to Chanyeol. “Are you ready to pack up? I want to hurry to dinner; I’m hungry.”

Jimin thanks a higher being for the “out” from his conversation with the alpha.

“Sounds like I have to go,” he says, and he thinks the relief in his expression might make this the most sincere look he’s given Chanyeol so far. It’s a little sad.

A pause. “Okay,” Chanyeol finally says.

They part easily from there, with Jimin giving a polite nod of his head and turning around with Seokjin—he doesn’t look back, although a part of him from another setting might have. He feels, strangely, like he’s making a choice.

The wood of the building’s door groans shut behind them as they enter inside.

“What the fuck was that about,” Jin demands, eyes wide in interest. “A bracelet?

Jimin sighs. Exhaustion is already hitting him. “I’ll tell you on the way to dinner,” he groans.




Jimin had hoped he’d finally have a little more courage in talking to Yoongi. At the very least, he thought he’d be able to feel a less panicked around the alpha. But despite Jimin’s new scent after all of the events from the night before, Min Yoongi still has him right back at a very nervous square one.

“Hi,” he says, far too shyly, as he sits down in his usual spot at the table—the spot right beside the man.

Yoongi’s already looking at him—he’s always looking at Jimin, of course. “Hi there,” he responds lowly. The corners of his mouth might be upturned—he’s teasing? Or maybe he’s just in a good mood? Jimin can barely tell through the mouthwatering scent of his pheromones; they’re practically teasing his tongue.

He doesn’t realize how close he’s sliding up until the alpha’s arm has to slip around his waist. It’s a sweet hold, but it has Jimin’s peripheral vision blurring all the same. He wonders if he’ll ever be able to keep his calm in Yoongi’s presence. There’s something new lingering beneath the surface, though; Jimin feels a deep relief being in the man’s presence, even while he is still nervous.

Seokjin is shuffling back behind them. “Snag a cabin, you two—Jimin, the pups were so crazy today that I couldn’t tell you, but Yoongi’s request is good to go. He’s coming with your furniture around an hour after dinner ends, with a couple of other alphas.”

Yoongi faces forwards and nods. “Shouldn’t be more than two people,” he promises Jin.

Jimin’s personally excited to finally have a frame around his mattress. In addition, he’d also been living out of his suitcases—he wants to get rid of those as soon as possible. Keeping them around feels a little too hopeful.

“It’s no problem,” Jin shrugs. He undoes his grey furs—the coat of Namjoon’s that he wears on a more daily basis, Jimin has noticed—and sits down. “But anyways—,”

—He’s cutting Jimin a mischievous look. No, Jimin wants to groan—

“—What was that conversation with Chanyeol about?”

Jimin’s not sure if it’s himself or Yoongi who tenses first. All he knows is that the (almost) composed mood between them is probably gone.

A part of Jimin wants to glare at the omega, because Jin knows exactly what that conversation was about. He’d told Seokjin every aspect of that conversation on the walk over to the dining hall in the first place, which means that he must be openly questioning it for the second time just to provoke Yoongi.

It’s the last thing Jimin wants to do, considering the most recent interaction between the two alphas.

He already wants to wince, too—Yoongi’s lip is curling in a far-off direction—maybe the table where Chanyeol sits?—and they haven’t even grabbed their food yet.

“Uhm,” Jimin says smartly. Taehyung, across from him, is giving bug eyes. “He came to the schoolroom and apologized.”

Jimin can see, out of the corner of his eye, that Yoongi’s grip on the edge of the table is white even around his knuckles. His other, around Jimin, is also tight—although it’s considerably gentler.

Namjoon is looking nervously at the table where Yoongi is clenching as well. “And?” Namjoon prompts.

Jimin’s mind is in a scramble with all the alpha’s pheromones in the air—how is he supposed to keep up a conversation?

“He said he was really sorry and that he acted poorly,” Jimin eventually summarizes.

Poorly—,” Yoongi spits, but Seokjin has picked up the pitcher of water on their table and dropped it loudly down in front of him. The glass hits the wood with a disturbingly loud and hollow groan, but the omega is still smug even while nearly everyone else flinches.

“He tried to give you something, though, didn’t he?”

Yoongi’s eyes widen; he looks straight at Jimin with an expression of almost disbelief. Somehow, it’s no less intimidating.

“A bracelet,” Jimin blurts. He can’t keep his filter with the alpha looking at him so intensely. There’s this immediate stiffening of everyone at the table, and Yoongi’s eyes darting in an almost offended way towards his wrists—“But I didn’t take it!”

And that’s only more stiffening.

From Yoongi: “You didn’t take it?”

The question is in a rough and husky tone that makes Jimin shiver. He wets his lips. “No?”

The alpha’s leaning farther into his space—his grip on the wood is still white, and his scent still has Jimin wanting to tilt his head to the side, “You rejected it?”

Jimin just nods.

Yoongi leans back. Jimin is feeling dizzy, and leans forward a bit on instinct, but slowly the scene catches up to him.

The picture is this: the corner of Yoongi’s lips are turned up distinctly, into a definite smirk. He’s looking like the cat who snatched its canary and has every intention of devouring it. He’s got one arm propped at the elbow against the table, and his chin rests against his hand. Part of his expression looks like he’s trying to hold back a grin, but his eyebrows raise briefly before falling.

“I guess I should let him off easy,” the alpha says slyly. The hand at Jimin’s waist is drifting almost proudly up and down.

Jimin’s brows furrow. Across the table, Jeongguk is wincing heavily. Namjoon looks a little bit nauseous.
.
“That’s cruel.” Taehyung’s looking at Jimin like he’s not sure if he wants to scold him or back away.

Jimin’s eyes widen. He looks back to the alpha, who’s snickering under his breath.

But Seokjin is trying to muffle his own cackles. “He didn’t know,” he says, high-pitched through oncoming laughter. Yoongi slaps the table and presses his thumb and forefinger across his upper lip to cover his mouth. Jimin can still see a portion of his grin where the corner of his mouth peeks out from beneath his hand.

Jimin looks to Hoseok, a little bit desperately. The omega winces. “You’re sure it was a bracelet?”

He curls up shyly into himself. “It was too small to be a necklace,” he admits.

Silence follows, aside from the pained hissing sound Jeongguk pulls through his teeth. Jimin curls into himself anxiously. “What? I don’t know—what’s it for?”

He feels stressed, and sounds stressed; he must look that way, too, with the way Yoongi moves farther into his space with a more sobered look. His posture is still fairly triumphant, though, which isn’t helping any.

“Well,” Hoseok speaks up, and stops. “I don’t think I could explain it? I haven’t received one before.”

“Joon gave me one,” Seokjin cuts in. Taehyung’s eyes, if possible, widen even more. Jimin thinks that this is especially surprising considering that Jin is his brother.

The alpha at the end of the table coughs lightly into his fist and flushes. “It’s a little bit difficult to explain, culturally,” he offers.

Jimin wants to sneak away beneath the table.

Jin’s giving his mate a sharp look, though, so Namjoon clears his throat. “Jewelry itself is given pretty often, but it’s typically closer to the neck.”

Jimin can understand that much; he nods.

“Gifts are typically given to obtain the right to ask to claim—the gifts often reflect that? So.” It feels especially strange to see such an intimidating man look flustered. “It’s not bad, it’s just. Embarrassing. I guess you could compare it, in beta communities, to rejecting a public engagement proposal?”

Jimin feels his entire face flush. Jin shrugs from the other side of Yoongi.

“It’s his own fault for taking the risk in the first place,” the omega assures, but Namjoon still looks nauseous. Jeongguk looks especially pale with Taehyung at his side.

There’s another round of silence.

“Well, at least the situation is wrapped up,” Hoseok offers with a smile. “I’m going to grab food now that everyone’s here. Yoongi?”

The alpha stands up immediately, nodding at Jimin. “I’ll be back with yours,” he promises. Jeongguk and Namjoon are standing as well, leaving the table to Jimin himself and the two brothers.

Jin,” Jimin hisses as soon as the other four are out of earshot.

Taehyung is shaking his head. “I could tell you already knew,” he says disapprovingly to his brother.

But the tallest omega laughs to himself instead, leaving Jimin to moan his misfortunes to Taehyung until everyone appears again carrying bowls. Namjoon is the first of them to come back, surprisingly, and he’s looking towards Jimin once he sits down.

“Yoongi mentioned to me that you’re starting your research. You’ve settled in then?”

Jimin gives a small smile. “I have. It’s time to get to work now, I guess.”

“I heard you needed do some interviews? I’d be happy to help, if you’d have me.” He’s handing over Jin’s food before his own—which stirs up surprising affection in Jimin.

“That would be amazing,” he croaks. “I could really—well, it’d be a huge help.”

A knowing smile. “Would you mind if we traded? I hear you’ll have some upcoming free time.”

Jimin nods, of course. It’s a little embarrassing to have the topic of Yoongi’s rut in the air, but he manages while the man himself is still gone. “I’d be glad to help. When would be a good time for you?”

Namjoon shrugs. “I’ll be walking you and Jin both back from dinner while Yoongi’s gone, so maybe in the first free evening?”

The entire thing is reliant upon Yoongi’s rut schedule; Jimin wants to curl into himself. “That works for me.”

“You gonna let him into the den again?” Taehyung is looking at his brother intently.

Seokjin waves him off. “Request for entry granted,” he says, uninterested. “The common room is best for that kind of thing anyways.”

Jimin has a feeling that this treatment is a privilege extended specifically to the omega’s friends. “Thank you,” he offers, but Jin only shoots a quick smile, so he turns back to Namjoon. “Can you think of anyone else I should interview? I need at least four, and this makes two.”

“What kind of population are you looking for?”

He pauses. “Equal dynamics, preferably, but that’s less important. Are there any other beta defaults in this compound?”

That seems to jog some train of thought. “There’s an omega who came a long time ago,” Namjoon offers. “She presented extremely early, though—I think she was ten. She’s been here for a while.”

Jimin feels something like horror. He can’t imagine feeling so sick at such a young age.

“How come I didn’t know about this?” Seokjin demands.

“It was almost nine years ago—I didn’t have my rank yet, and neither did you,” Namjoon clarifies. “You still thought I looked like a grasshopper.”

“Still do now,” Jin mutters before sneaking a bite of stew.

By that time, Yoongi’s scent is starting to tease at Jimin’s nose again—he turns around to check, and the alpha is heading towards them with food. Feeling embarrassed, he turns back to Namjoon.

“Do you think you could introduce me?” Jimin asks.

A quick nod. “Her name is Jieqiong—she’s a part of Nayoung’s pack, if you know those girls.”

Jimin shakes his head.

“You met Roa briefly, when she was picking up her sister,” Jin offers. “She’s a part of that group.”

“I had no idea she was a beta default?” Taehyung’s eyebrows are furrowed.

“I think she wanted it that way,” Namjoon admits sheepishly. “Still, she’s a little more mellowed out now. I don’t see any problems in introducing you two.”

“I appreciate it,” Jimin offers, feeling very out of the loop.

He unintentionally closes the conversation off there—he still has questions, of course, but his statement works perfectly well as an end, and Yoongi has brought their food. Jeongguk and Hoseok follow right behind.

The food smells good, but with the alpha smelling so much better beside him, Jimin finds that eating really isn’t his best option. His stomach is turning at the smell of the food, but the flips seem to calm down plenty when he presses into Yoongi’s side. When Yoongi turns in his direction, looking with every intent to feed him, Jimin just shakes his head.

“I don’t feel too good,” he explains.

“Will you drink some water?” Yoongi looks so concerned, but Jimin’s lurching stomach makes his decisions for himself.

He noses as imperceptibly as he can into the thick cotton of the shirt brushing against his cheek. “I feel too sick,” Jimin admits. “I kind of just want to lie down.”

There’s the sound of a spoon hitting a bowl’s edge with a loud clanging sound. “Can I walk you home?” Yoongi offers. Seeing him so worried is especially flattering.

“No,” Jimin sniffles. “I just want to sit for a bit. Maybe I’ll feel better in a few minutes.”

There are fingers threading through his hair, though, and that feels nice. The comforting feeling has him leaning all the way in, and almost has a purr bubbling up right in front of anything. The only thing that stops Jimin from crawling into Yoongi’s lap right there is the knowledge that he’ll be separated from alpha for days soon.

“You should eat, Jimin,” Yoongi’s saying lowly.

Jimin wants to whine.

The alpha is only looking more and more concerned, though. “I’ll stick around the den for a bit after everything is moved in,” he rumbles. It’s simultaneously an offer and a decision.

Too many seconds pass before Jimin finally realizes that Yoongi is referring to the furniture to be delivered afterward. Knowing that he’ll have some time alone with the man, though—that seems to do the trick. It’s almost embarrassing how quickly his stomach feels light.

He perks up, though, and manages to eat a few bites fed directly to him from Yoongi’s own portion. It’s not enough, if the discontent furrow in the alpha’s brows is anything to go by, but it’s as much as he can give.




After dinner, Jimin’s anxiety returns full force.

He's trying to take a nap—with Yoongi’s furs on, despite being indoors—and he feels itchy. From the second Jin had dragged him away from the dining hall, and away from Yoongi, Jimin has felt irritated and anxious. He knows that having a crush is supposed to be difficult, but the sheer force of all his emotions feels uncontrollable.

The realization is unfortunate: Jimin has been very spoiled by Yoongi’s consistent presence, and now he doesn’t want the alpha to go. The thought has him whining into his pillows, clutching and releasing the furs in his hands.

Eventually, though, there’s a knock on his door.

He’s outside!” Jimin can hear Jin calling through the door. Jimin sees the omega standing in his doorway just moments later when he sprints to open his bedroom door, and then Jin disappears behind him when he continues straight on down the hallway and towards the main eastern door of the den. The door seems heavier than usual when he pulls it open with both hands.

“Yoongi!” Jimin can’t help but smile at the alpha standing there.

He thinks his heart might be lodged against his windpipe, but Yoongi really does smell so good—the pheromones have him crossing the threshold and stepping into the man’s space.

He might hear the sound of the front door close behind him, but Jin’s pulling it back open a second later, so Jimin figures he’s fine.

Yoongi looks admittedly surprised, but his arms are open; Jimin sees the invitation and takes it before he can think twice. The material of the alpha’s thermal, or maybe the skin beneath it, smells good against Jimin’s nose when he nuzzles back in.

“You look like you’re feeling better,” rumbles Yoongi. But his arms are wrapping tighter around Jimin’s waist, and Jimin’s toes are brushing the ground. The lift has him burying his blush into the alpha’s shirt.

“I do feel better,” he admits shyly. Jin’s eyes are starting to wear against his back, reminding him of the alpha’s purpose for coming in the first place. “Can I help you any?”

He can feel the gentle stammer of the alpha’s body as he laughs silently. “I might let you hold the door open, since you put your coat on and everything.” His voice still sounds warm and husky even in the crisp wintery air. “How about I introduce you to these two behind me?”

A moment passes before Jimin backs out of the hold to look around; he’d been more focused on how Yoongi hadn’t known he was sleeping with the furs in the first place. Standing behind him, though, are two strong-looking alphas; Jimin doesn’t feel as embarrassed as he should, but he nods apologetically regardless.

It's difficult to take note of their names when it’s Yoongi speaking them out loud, but soon enough Jimin is saying hello to alphas named Hoseok and Hyunwoo. From there on, the process seems relatively simple. Jimin waits inside the den for the alphas to approach, walking all the way from Yoongi’s shop. The whole ordeal is made much more lengthy by that itself; carrying sections of a bedframe to be assembled, or a drawer for a dresser, takes time. Thankfully, Seokjin is there to keep him company at the door.

When Yoongi approaches with a de-drawered nightstand, he asks Jimin to step inside with him and begin directing the placement of furniture. So much time inside the den finally forces Jimin to take off his furs beforehand, leaving his marked neck free for the alpha to look after heavily. He tries not to blush too deeply while he decides where he wants everything to go.

Overall, Jimin spends so much time opening doors and directing furniture that he doesn’t get a good look at the furniture itself until it’s all inside his bedroom.

Once everything itself is moved into the room, the other two alphas leave relatively quickly. Yoongi remains behind, lifting corners of furniture and slipping small pads beneath the stress points. Alpha Hoseok had given Jimin a polite smile and wave on the way out, which earned a snap of a growl from Yoongi, but other than that, everything seems to have gone smoothly.

“This all looks gorgeous,” he marvels as he traces over the added dresser in the room. The set is simple, but luxurious-looking, with a deep stain and smooth little knob-like handles. He really believes that he would have picked the set out for himself in a furniture store back home.

The alpha slips a pad under the final post of Jimin’s new bedframe and looks away as he straightens up. Jimin thinks he might be embarrassed by the compliment.

“It’s good that you’ll have places for your things.” He raps his knuckles against the chest beside him. “This will be good for furs and blankets—these tend to preserve better with some air. I added some vents to the stress posts to help with that.”

“Oh,” Jimin notes out loud. He nods, and grabs Yoongi’s furs from where they’d been gently laid overtop of his sheets to make the whole process easier. “I’m glad to have this, then—thank you.”

He says it shyly himself, but thinks that Yoongi might be the more nervous one of them both. He seems—almost tense?—with his shoulders squared arms crossed over his chest.

“I’m thankful to have it,” Jimin promises, trying to satisfy the tension.

His neck and shoulders are still tight, though, and Jimin has been resting his hand on the edge of the chest for some time already. Jimin doesn’t know whether his heart is clogging his throat or weighing down his stomach with anxiety, but then Yoongi is huffing in this almost embarrassed way as he reaches down and opens the chest himself—

“—Oh,” Jimin murmurs. He can feel his entire face flushing against the furs he’s pressing to himself.

Inside, there are blankets and pelts already stacked—and impossibly high, considering the chest’s massive size. Everything layered inside is neutral in color and looks especially plush.

He feels like—he feels like Hoseok, being layered in luxuries. Jimin had already been spoiled by Yoongi (and apparently some other alphas) when he’d come to the compound in the first place, but even that pales in comparison. It leaves him feeling incredibly flustered.

“I wanted to fill it completely,” Yoongi is saying lowly, “But it’ll take a little while longer for the pelts to tan.”

Jimin shivers. “This is—,” But he stops. He doesn’t know what to say.

He’s looking so seriously and directly at Jimin: “I hope you’ll leave this space for me in the meantime.”

“Yoongi,” Jimin’s hands are curling into the pelts in his hands. He whines, although it sounds pathetically unbelievable, “It’s too much.”

But the alpha is looking at him with a small smile. “I couldn’t have Hoseok sneak a full chest into your room back then. I guess I’m making up for it now.”

Jimin’s entire body feels warm. “So you—from before…”

Yoongi nods seriously. “I want to provide for you.”

And there’s that word again—but it feels like some sort of commitment to Jimin, as if it’s genuinely what Yoongi wants to do. It doesn’t feel like an offer. Little shivers of awareness are standing the hairs up on the back of Jimin’s neck. He doesn’t know how his face could possibly be any more red.

“You know that I like it.” He wets his lips. “When you take care of me.”

The alpha’s exhale is audible. “I want to take care of you for a long time.”

Shock settles like ice over his skin.

And Jimin knows his face is red at that—he knows that his eyes are wide, and that he’s whining right in the middle of the room and curling into himself. “A long time,” he finally stutters back. It sounds pitifully questioning. A pathetic little whimper wants to work its way out when the alpha moves forward to nuzzle into the crook of his shoulder.

“A long time,” Yoongi confirms. His breath is hot on Jimin’s neck; Jimin himself is desperate to smell like the alpha before he goes.

The thought itself triggers another whine. “I don’t want you to leave.” He nuzzles back in when Yoongi pulls himself away.

The alpha is tensing against him. “It’ll be soon.” His fingers are running through Jimin’s hair again. “You won’t see me around so much after tomorrow.”

Panic rises up in Jimin’s throat. “I thought you’d said—that there was more time.” He doesn’t know why his eyes are stinging; the rational part of him knows that it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

“I did,” he rumbles. “But then you let me mark you.”

Jimin sighs, even if a part of him is wickedly pleased to have some soft of direct effect on the alpha. “I did,” he admits. The reminder is settling hot and heavy in his stomach. Yoongi must feel the same way, too, if his growl is anything to go by. Or maybe that’s at the way Jimin is tilting his head to show his own neck.

“Find me after it’s over,” he pleads. Jimin doesn’t know how he’s supposed to survive the next three days.

“I will.” Yoongi’s thumb is coming to brush directly over the skin of his scent gland; Jimin jumps and stutters out a shaky breath. “You’re making it hard for me to leave.”

And Jimin’s about to fist his free hand into the alpha’s shirt and tell him that’s a good thing, but then there’s an insistent rapping at the door that has his irritation rising exponentially.

Yoongi backs away. The knocking continues. Jimin has never felt so annoyed in his life.

Yah.” It’s Taehyung, continuing to pound away through the door. “I’m here on Jin’s orders! It smells like rut even in the hall, Yoongi, so get the hell out before you change all our cycles—,”

—Jimin’s eyes widen at change our cycles

“He’s right.” Yoongi’s eyes are so heavy on Jimin’s. How his look still has Jimin so flustered, he’ll never know. “I should be leaving.”

It’s like his stomach is dropping inside his own body. “I want to be with you,” he whines, high and needy.

Jimin can see his expression morph into something impossibly more intense, and he can see the way his shoulders square. “You don’t mean that.”

“I do—” But Yoongi is growling. Jimin wants to insist, to press their bodies together, but the knocking is only getting louder.

“—I swear, if my cycle comes again when I just had the damn thing—

The rational part of Jimin, the part that doesn’t know anything about his own cycle, has him sighing. “Yoongi,” he whines. “Stay with me.”

But the alpha’s hands are gripping at his waist. “That’s not a good idea,” he contradicts in a rasp.

As flattering as it is, it leaves Jimin almost teary. “I know,” he admits pitifully.

Almost restrained, Yoongi says, “I’ll just go, then.”

But he looks so conflicted—stopping for several seconds, with a clenched jaw, before moving away. It’s harder with Jimin’s hand moving down his arm to grip at the ends of his sleeve; he can feel how tense the muscles of the alpha’s forearm are.

Jimin doesn’t necessarily want to be so bold, but his fingers are pulling at Yoongi’s sleeve and dragging the alpha’s wrist towards his neck of their own accord—or so he rationalizes. He doesn’t know if rubbing Yoongi’s pre-rut scent against his glands makes everything better or worse; he can almost feel the rush when their skin meets, but the pheromones make his toes curl and his eyelashes flutter.

Once his head-to-toe experience subsides, Yoongi’s growling openly and pulling back with set shoulders and jaw. The separation is so quick that Jimin’s responding whine seems like a late response. He’s not sure if the harsh sound in his ears is the alpha’s back against the door or Jimin’s own body slumping to sit on the chest.

It's all a blur—the door opening, Taehyung’s frantic voice, and Yoongi’s eyes cutting fierce and dark into Jimin’s before the door slams shut behind the alpha.

He's sitting there, panting and recovering, until he can hear the heavy front doors of the den slam shut all the way from his room. Yoongi’s gone for three days.

Anxiety settles in heavily against Jimin’s stomach.

Chapter Text

Jimin really doesn’t think he can survive.

“Are you doing okay?” The line of Seokjin’s shoulders is coming into focus blurrily. Jimin tries to ignore his own headache.

“I’m alright,” he lies, for at least the sixth time.

He could go home, if he wanted, but for whatever reason he’s putting up a good fight—Jin gives him a worried look, but he ultimately turns back to the kids.

They’ve swapped positions for the shift. Jimin hadn’t slept even a single second the night before, and he’d warned Jin as much as soon as he’d emerged from his own room. Jimin had felt bad enough that he couldn’t even pretend to put on enough patience for children; Seokjin had originally tried to send Jimin back home for the day, but then he’d shaken his own head and sat Jimin behind the desk to grade homework assignments from the younger kids. Jimin thinks the omega had known that he needed something to keep busy with.

Overall, Jimin has completed half of the stack in three hours—it’s about a half hour’s worth of work.

Jimin groans as quietly as he can manage. He’s tired of looking at smudged pencil.

Exhaustion has a strain settling over his eyes, and a hefty ache in his forehead right above his brow. Compared to the night before, though, it’s a walk in the park; he’d spent the entire night and early morning awake and too-hot in his own sheets. Ironically, he’d only felt slightly better once he’d dragged more blankets and furs up from the chest at the base of his bed. He’d still woken up in a cocoon of furs and his own clammy sweat, though.

The worst part of it all, he thinks, is the slow and monotonous way time is passing in the present. He can hear all sorts of whining and questions and the little clicking sounds wooden blocks make as they’re being used for counting exercises—or for playing, more realistically. Those same sounds have all been blurring for about twenty minutes which feel like two hours.

The outer edge of Jimin’s hand is covered in grey with pencil. He blinks five or so times.

“I’m tired,” he says, not to anyone in particular. Seokjin’s all the way across the room, and so are the majority of the kids; no one is close enough to the desk that he’ll be heard.

Truthfully, Jimin’s not sure if his eyes feel better or worse when he closes them, but he does feel a little better with his temple pressed to the smooth wood surface of Seokjin’s desk. It’s nice and cool against his skin, like slipping into his old sheets at home.

He hasn’t really thought about that for a while.

Jimin knows he’s only thinking about everything because he’s sick now, but there’s something to miss about the smell of his old home and the convenience of everything from his own city. There are enough people in the compound to keep the illusion of convenience, but. Jimin misses his mom’s so-so cooking and the taste of the sweet drinks he’d buy on his old campus with his friends. Now all he’ll have is a yearly visit from his family and a once per-month call.

He doesn’t want to go home; he hasn’t hit that stage yet. But he wants something comforting—someone, of course, but Yoongi’s not available. Still, Jimin feels a little bit better when he imagines himself with a hot cup of tea in a nice warm space.

“Jimin.”

Jimin’s eyes dart up to Seokjin. He realizes that his face had been completely pressed against Hyeri’s worksheet.

“I’m sorry,” he offers, and begins to stretch and work himself out of his mood, but Jin shakes his head.

“You’re done for the day,” he says sweetly. He’s brushing Jimin’s hair off of his forehead, which feels pleasantly cool in a caring and doting sort of way. “I sent the pups out. Namjoon’s outside already—it’s time to go home.”

Stiffly, Jimin stands up as quickly as he can. He’d been sitting for too long; he’s dizzy as soon as he straightens up.

“We can push in chairs and clean up tomorrow,” Jin says decidedly. Jimin breathes out a sigh of relief as they leave the schoolhouse.

The cool air feels pleasant on his skin as they step off of the porch and in the waiting alpha’s direction. Jimin’s tempted to take off Yoongi’s furs and soak up all the relief that winter weather has to offer, but Jin turns back surprisingly quickly after a brief hug and kiss with his mate.

“Are you ready?”

Jimin nods, and from there the walk to the den is relatively fine. He’s squinting, because even the setting sun against the snow is too bright for his headache, but overall it’s alright.

“How’re you feeling about doing that interview?” It’s Namjoon speaking. “I thought you might want to get started, but if you’d rather do it another day, I’ll be free as well.”

Surprisingly, Jimin’s excited at the idea of interviewing Namjoon—he’s not feeling his best, but he’s still just as excited about his studies. “Actually, that sounds great,” Jimin says. He turns to Seokjin, feeling a little bit better. “Do you think we could use the table in the common room?”

Jin looks almost as surprised as Jimin himself is. “Of course,” he says.

The remainder of the walk is a mixture of polite conversation with Namjoon—yes, he’s in an undergraduate program, and yes, he plans to go to graduate school, although he'd been unfairly promoted into graduate work by nature of his proximity to alphas and omegas—with a fair bit of time spent in Jimin’s own head about questions he wants to ask. He’s particularly excited to ask about his own thesis topic, although he won’t have too much time to do so in the first round of interviews.

Once they’ve crossed the den’s threshold into the common area, it takes Jimin a moment to get set up—to gather everything from his room, plug in his laptop, pull up a word document, and to open a new voice recording with his phone. The whole process is lengthened by mandatory consent procedures, in which Jimin has to show Namjoon exactly how voice recordings work although the alpha is clearly already familiar with the technology.

“I’ve been shown this sort of thing by Comms before,” Namjoon says with a polite smile.

Jimin grimaces. “It’s a requirement for my assignment—I’ll have to explain everything else and get your consent once I get the recording going.”

Namjoon smiles and nods understandingly, so Jimin taps the little red record button on his phone. He splits the screen of his laptop half-way between his assignment email and his word document before speaking.

“Hi, Doctor Jung,” he starts politely. “This is Park Jimin recording for the first round of interviews. I’m interviewing Kim Namjoon, the compound Alpha.”

From there, he addresses Namjoon, turning his laptop around and explaining his laptop and what he’ll be doing as best as he can. “Does that all work for you?” He finishes.

“I’m happy to participate,” Namjoon grins.

So Jimin spins his laptop back around. “I’ll have you type an electronic signature onto this consent form—it just says that you’re here of your own interest in participation, without any bribery or malintent, so please look over it and type your name at the bottom. Let me just look at these key points for the interview assignment—”

Jimin can barely hold back his own sigh as he glances at the topics.

He turns his laptop around to the alpha and leans back in his chair.

For a while, it’s all little clicking sounds of Namjoon reading through the consent participation form. Jimin rubs at his temples—not even his own excitement could keep the exhaustion away—and tries to shift his hips into a more comfortable position. He’s sitting, but his thighs feel oddly shaky and almost hollow.

Jimin is trying to come up with his own personal questions, though—he needs to give at least three or four half-way decent inquiries if he wants to make any meaning out of the interviews for later papers. Given his current state and the topic, though, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be too difficult.

“I think I’m done,” Namjoon finally says, squinting at the screen. He picks up Jimin’s laptop carefully with both hands and hands it over.

Jimin feels a little irritated, for some reason, seeing Namjoon’s hands on his laptop. He shakes his own head briefly to snap out of it and looks for Namjoon’s typed signature.

“It looks like everything is good,” Jimin mutters, and then repeats the words loudly enough to be caught in the recording.

“So what are our conversation topics for today?” Namjoon looks surprisingly relaxed despite being recorded—Jimin wonders how many times the alpha has been interviewed.

Jimin’s eyes drift towards the right side of our laptop. “’Desirability in partners, evolution of relationships’…” he reads. “And ‘mating rituals.’”

Namjoon’s eyebrows raise briefly. “Appropriate for your situation, maybe?”

Jimin shifts in his seat. “Maybe,” he agrees quietly.

Namjoon’s face is struggling not to break into a grin, which has Jimin feeling strange. He shakes himself out of it regardless and tries not to focus on the way his stomach clenches at the indirect mention of Yoongi. “I also plan to go over some topics in the direction of my thesis—I’ll be asking you some questions about the Separation and about the status of the compound after the disappearance of shifting wolves, specifically.”

The alpha doesn’t move an inch. “Very fitting,” he offers. At Jimin’s questioning look, he continues quickly. “It’s good timing, I meant.”

Jimin nods. “It is pretty soon,” he admits. A decade plus or minus a few years might be a long time to Jimin, but a major historical event must have larger and longer-lasting consequences in the compound’s scale. “Please let me know if I ask any questions which can’t be answered fairly objectively.”

“It had pretty few consequences for me, really,” the alpha shrugs.

Jimin takes note of that. “I’ll be sure to ask on that later,” he says while he types. “So—can you tell me a little bit about what standards exist for dynamics?”

“What?” Namjoon’s eyebrows are creased.

Jimin leans back, glossing over the finer points of the worksheet. “Like… what’s generally considered appealing in a partner. Social expectations, or even beauty standards? What makes an omega popular among alphas, or an alpha popular among omegas?”

There’s a pause while Namjoon considers. “I guess it goes back to the idea that alphas provide and omegas receive to maintain—kind of like antiquated beta relations between men and women.”

“Can you elaborate?”

“Sure.” Namjoon crosses his arms over his chest. “Size is primarily an issue for alphas—taller and larger alphas tend to be better hunters. The reverse is true for omegas, at times; shorter omegas are more popular, because they’re more opposite to the alpha. It's poor rationalization, relating one dynamic's desirability to the other I mean, but sadly it exists. The same can be true for alignment of personality to rank. There was a time where omegas were supposed to be reserved. These are not always true, of course; Jin’s very tall, and not exactly quiet, but he was the most attractive to me and to a lot of others.”

Jimin refrains from cooing, even if he does smile a bit. “What other factors made your partner appealing to you?”

“Looks, of course, but mostly contribution,” says Namjoon. He gestures with large hand movements when he really starts to explain: “Jin was teaching pups, cooking, and maintaining festival preparation by that time; he was still an apprentice, but all that hard work of course gave him his high rank.”

Jimin pauses, partially to form his question, and partially because his headache is really starting to hit again. “How does the ranking system work?”

“It’s entirely based on community contribution, although looks typically end up working their way in somehow,” the alpha admits. “For omegas, it’s contribution to shift and festival. For alphas, hunting and production are key factors.”

“How are ranks given?”

“Pups tend to form small packs of friendships early on, well before presentation,” Namjoon starts. “They typically find a hierarchy within themselves, which gives Jin and I a general idea of where they’ll fit after they present. Once that happens, I assign new alphas within their ranks and Jin assigns new omegas. The pack itself is given a general rank, and within that alphas and omegas are ranked until they find a mate. First ranks are often the oldest for this reason.”

Jimin’s hands might cramp up by the time the interview finishes. “Would you say it’s comparable to cliques?”

Namjoon shrugs. “I don’t really enough about those to say so. But take your pack, for example—you became friends with Jin, Hoseok, and Taehyung, so you joined first rank.”

Jimin laughs a little. “I jumped the waiting line,” he jokes.

“We’ll take care of you as best we can,” Namjoon says, and he sounds surprisingly kind. “Your relationship—courtship?—with Yoongi helps, if that also explains things.”

“Omegean ranks are based on their partners’ ranks?” It sounds almost—sexist? Dynamic-ist?

Namjoon shakes his head. “Not at all. It just helped to solidify your place—you were kind of a special case.”

“I see.” Jimin wants to direct the interview back towards general alphas and omegas, so he asks, “Can you tell me about mating and courting practices?”

“I think the one thing that betas typically miss, in their literature about us, is that it’s often not really about rituals?” The alpha scratches almost sheepishly at his wrist. “Up until the very second before bonding, alphas try to demonstrate themselves as a viable partner—and then they try to be a good partner. That’s it, really.”

“What about gift-giving?”

“Betas don’t give gifts to their romantic partners?”

Jimin mulls over that one. “We—sorry, they—definitely do,” he admits. “Feeding, though?”

“That one’s a little more specific to Yoongi’s type,” Namjoon grimaces. “He’s the type to go through with the more ritual-type steps.”

“What other rituals exist?”

There’s a little bit of pink on the high points of the alpha’s cheeks. Jimin takes note of the embarrassment, even though he’s more embarrassed to ask the question in the first place.

“Well,” Namjoon says. “We like to—to mark. And cover omegas up in our scent. There are romantic practices and… sexual practices?”

Jimin’s eyes widen behind his laptop screen. “I’ll leave that for later in the interview, I think,” he decides.

His professors won’t be too happy, but Namjoon looks half as relieved as Jimin feels. Jimin takes a moment to type up the rest of Namjoon’s words, and takes a deep breath to try and clear some fuzz from his head.

“How have you seen bonding relationships change over time?”

“Bonding ceremonies have changed since the Separation.” Namjoon looks significantly more confident. “The shifting capabilities of alphas used to be very prominent in ceremonies, but that’s largely absent now that there aren’t any shifting wolves to be mated.”

“What were bonding ceremonies like then, versus now?” The word “bonding” has Jimin’s stomach flipping in all sorts of unpleasant ways. A small sweat starts up on the back of his neck and—definitely on his forehead, he finds, when he pulls his hand away from fixing his hair.

“Intended alphas would typically shift for a hunt beforehand, for the few days up leading to the ceremony,” Namjoon offers. “The competition amongst alphas to provide was much more stiff—naturally white furs were the minimum prey acceptable to offer for elders.”

“Were there any special omegean responsibilities?” Jimin’s asking purely out of his own interest, at this point.

Namjoon shakes his head again. “There was traditional painting of the face and body, but overall responsibilities were less than they are now.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask now; I want to keep the interview short—” Jimin frowns a little as his muscles clench up again, “But do you think I could ask you about bonding ceremonies in a follow-up interview?”

“Of course,” Namjoon offers. “It might be a good idea to ask Seokjin, too. Or better yet, Yoongi.”

Jimin flushes. He doesn’t bother to ask why it might be better to ask his alpha.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Jimin offers. “We talked about the absence of shifting wolves in a romantic aspect, but can you give me a timeline of the Separation? If you were to describe the event to someone uninformed, what would you say?”

A bitter smile. “Trying to get the savages’ side of the story?”

And that has Jimin pausing with a little bit of shock. He hadn’t expected the alpha to respond negatively—the change in mood is quick and leaves Jimin feeling out of place. Carefully, he offers, “I’m savage now, too, aren’t I?”

Namjoon’s eyes widen a little, but he clears his throat.

“Eight years ago Comms came into our compound—and other compounds—to remove alphas who had the capability to shift,” Namjoon starts stiffly. Jimin’s hands freeze over the keyboard. “They removed the alphas after years of testing their shifting capabilities. That’s all I would have known, but the highest compound alpha was a shifter at the time, and so power shifted from that family to mine according to rank. Beta media called it the Separation and sensationalized the event three months later to their population—that’s all I know about their view of the events.”

Jimin pauses; Namjoon’s information is surprisingly limited. “Why do you think beta government took your alphas?”

His language is obviously biased, but Namjoon seems to relax a little bit. “Shifting alphas have more intense hunting capabilities.”

“What does that mean to the rest of the world?” Jimin can’t think of a less direct way to get at what he’s really asking; his migraine is really starting to build up behind his eyes.

Namjoon sighs. “Shifting alphas are violent and desire more territory to control. Continued breeding looked like a problem so long as the Comms intended to keep us segregated.”

The direct language surprises Jimin. “What did the compound look like after the Separation?”

“Our healers and pack omegas died without their bonded alphas.” The words are spoken surprisingly softly, but still have a weight that makes Jimin almost doubly uncomfortable with his exhaustion. “Our ceremonies changed, and alphas who hadn’t originally hunted were now forced to. Trade and specialization took a big hit—our market is a lot more basic, now.”

“It sounds like I’ll need to ask you about that in detail,” Jimin says. “Do you think you could tell me a bit specifically about the role these alphas played in your community?”

Namjoon starts, and then stops. “Actually, I can do you one better, probably.” The man shifts in his seat. “My father did a lot of journaling on his best friend, who was our leader at that time. I have some of his old notebooks. Shifting wolves were pretty secretive, but he had some good information.”

Jimin nods, and taps his phone screen. Their dialogue is pushing nine minutes; Jimin only has ten in his first round. “One final question on this topic: was it culturally important to you? The idea that alphas could shift?”

A pause. “Yes,” says Namjoon. “It feels like something is missing now—or greatly diminished, more accurately.”

Jimin types “greatly diminished” and turns back to the alpha. At the exact second he makes eye contact, Jimin’s entire body feels cold in a very nauseated way. He tries to swallow down the feeling. “Okay. I think that’s enough on this topic, for now… Can you tell me more about mating rituals, now? Feel free to describe everything objectively.”

“I guess I should separate this into two categories—do you mean romantically? Or in relation to heat cycles?”

Jimin shivers full-bodied, right there. Something about mentioning a cycle—one that he’ll be having—makes his stomach cramp up in an incredibly painful way. His headache hasn’t gone away at all, either. “I think romantically,” he finally responds.

“—typically meant to lay claim on the neck,” Jimin catches. The alpha is speaking, but Jimin is frankly still more concerned with the word "heat" and how deeply unsettled he is to have heard Namjoon say the word. It’s irrational, he thinks—

“The goal of the alpha is again just to prove that he or she can be a suitable partner,” Namjoon finishes. Jimin hadn’t heard any of what he’d said. “Once the omega is close to their cycle—,”

“Do you think we could cut off here?” Jimin says, but he has already cut off the recording without even giving a goodbye message to his professor. “Sorry—it’s only a ten-minute time slot the first time around."

Namjoon pauses. “Are you feeling alright?”

Jimin gulps. He doesn’t know why, but he feels like he shouldn’t be honest about feeling sick.

“You look a little pale,” Namjoon says, but the pitying smile on his face says he can see through Jimin’s front. “It’s really late anyways. Almost everyone should be asleep by now, anyways—why don’t you get some rest? There’s always tomorrow and the next day.”

There’s a moment where Jimin debates guiltily about what he should do—if he should really be so guarded to insist that everything is fine, even if he does feel sick—but then his stomach turns in a particular way. His muscles tense, and the hair all over his arms stands up, and he thinks he might be sick right there.

Namjoon looks worriedly. “Are you okay?”

Jimin has to take several seconds before he can even breathe again. “I think I have the stomach flu,” he finally admits. “I’m not feeling too good.”

“You might want to turn in for the night,” the alpha says. He’s looking at Jimin in a very serious way.

So Jimin does, although standing up proves to be quite the difficulty. “Fuck,” he groans, loudly, as his stomach clenches up when he stands. Namjoon looks almost shocked at that, but Jimin waves him off. He can walk, even if pathetically slow; his entire body is just cramping up with illness.

The alpha looks especially worried. “I’ll help you to your room—”

But Jimin hisses.

He doesn’t know what Namjoon smells like—some kind of nasty burnt melon, maybe—but it’s sickly-sweet and charred and it’s making his nausea worse. He wants to lean away, but he can’t really do much of that without leaning all the way over to spill his guts, so he hisses violently at the alpha until Namjoon finally backs away.

“Sorry,” Jimin offers, although he doesn’t bother to explain with all the pain going on. "Sorry, sorry."

He’s standing there, trying to regain his sense of the flat and non-moving ground, when panicked steps can be heard rushing up to them.

“Why in the hell did I hear hissing?” It’s Seokjin, carrying a pot of tea and a plate of some sort. Jimin doesn’t look closely; he’s afraid that he’ll see some sort of food on the plate, and the thought of food is just—

“You should help him to his room,” Namjoon suggests. Jimin is too nauseous to attempt a rejection. “He might throw up.”

Seokjin looks appalled. “Why didn’t you help him in the first place?!”

But Namjoon must shrug, or something Jimin can’t see, because the omega is rushing to set down the pot support his hands against Jimin’s back. His hands are completely removed from Jimin’s waist and front, which is appreciated—Jimin thinks that he’d really keel over if any pressure were put there.

Jin sounds very in-control of the situation, which helps Jimin a lot. “I don’t think you’d keep any medicine down,” he says, which Jimin distantly agrees with. “Start heading to your room—I’ll hold you up if you fall—try not to throw up yet,” he cautions.

Yet, Jimin thinks in his mind. He can feel his shirt sticking to his own front.

“I’m cold,” Jimin complains, and shivers.

“No you’re not,” says Jin. “You’re burning.”

Jimin doesn’t think that’s true at all, but he doesn’t say anything until he’s crossing the threshold to his own room. Seokjin had caught him from falling over, two or three times, with arms underneath his armpits instead of touching Jimin’s stomach. His nausea appreciates the consideration.

He wants to crawl into bed, but Jin tuts and directs him by the shoulders into the bathroom in his room.

There, Jimin spills his guts.

Throwing up is—it’s not something Jimin does often. He admittedly has a cast iron stomach, and has only thrown up a handful of times in his life. He’s reminded there of how genuinely awful the experience is when hot tears well up into his eyes and his entire body pours sweat.

At the end of it all, he groans.

Seokjin is whispering in an urgent tone behind him, which Jimin has almost entirely tuned out. This is evidently the right choice, as he can hear Hoseok’s voice responding. He knows that Hoseok is in the room by his smell before his voice. Lemongrass takes place of Jin’s linen, and Hoseok’s voice is murmuring soft and surprisingly kind words.

“You’ll be okay, sweetheart.” He places a cold cloth over the back of Jimin’s neck. “You’ll be done in no time, and then it’ll be all sleeping from there.”

Jimin wants to give thanks, but groans instead.

Hoseok pulls up the back of Jimin’s shirt where he can feel it sticking to his skin. “How long has your stomach been hurting? Don’t answer until you feel comfortable.”

It takes a long while before Jimin can pull back to pant, regain his breath, and groan that it’s been at least the majority of the day.

Hoseok hums. “Taehyung will be here in a bit,” he says softly.

Jimin sits over the bowl of the toilet for a long time. It takes so long that Taehyung eventually slides a mat beneath his knees and changes the cloth on the back of his neck. Jimin’s not a fan of being confronted with his stomach acid, but with every round he finds himself sinking deeper into fever with less shivering overall.

Jin has come back and sat down beside him for a long while by the time Jimin is only panting and ready to get into bed. The omega gives him two glasses of water—one to gargle, the other to drink—and then supports nearly the entirety of his weight before Jimin pulls himself into bed.

Ironically, he feels worse: the pressure of stomach acid sitting heavy in his gut is gone, but Jimin’s entire torso and thighs are cramping up in such a way that he can only whine weakly while Jin forces several cold cloths over his neck and forehead.

“Sleep,” he thinks he hears Taehyung say. “You’ve needed to pass out for days.”

Instead, Jimin dreams.



His visions are somewhat realistic but spatially distorted, as all his rare, vivid dreams have been. A very spotted doe leaps through a space which appears to be an open field. But the setting collapses around the animal into a darker and dense forest. It leaps, regardless, even while open yellow-green grass becomes dirt beneath its hooves. Evergreen trees spring up around the doe in close proximity; their needles become a saturated and cool-toned blueish green.

The air looks grey and bleak but there is no fog and the atmosphere is less depressing than the color would suggest. The doe is pregnant; she is not swollen but the knowledge is still there.

The path of dirt and occasional rocks breaks after a thick covering of branches—it drops off into a steep cliff beneath which a rapidly-flowing river runs.

Jimin feels uncomfortable when the doe doesn’t slow down its pace, but he’s thankfully relieved when she’s caught in the branches and is unable to continue through and off the cliff. She kicks but the branches keep her from moving forward. Jimin is relieved but the tension doesn’t abate.

He doesn’t know why but the doe struggles to move forward for a long while, until she is wheezing and panting and Jimin is beginning to become worried. When his panic hits its highest point, she stills and dies.

Jimin is relieved.

 

 

He wakes up feeling emotionally neutral but physically miserable.

Overall, though, he knows that he’s on the path to recovery. His blindly consistent irritation is gone, and his itching has been pushed to the backburner. Jimin’s stomach is certainly a different story, with such terribly painful cramps that he can only freeze up in endurance until the seizing passes.

“How are you feeling?” It’s lemongrass in his nostrils. The scent is comforting but mildly irritating all at the same time.

“Ngh,” Jimin groans. When his stomach calms, he continues, “Bad.”

Linen snorts. “Well it’s a good thing we caught you when we did,” Jin says.

Jimin sighs as his cramps pass and his largest source of pain sits in the tops of his thighs. “How long until shift?”

Hoseok laughs silently. Jin snorts, and says: “Lessons have been cancelled until you’re feeling better—I had Taehyung go put up the red bell over the schoolhouse door as soon as you threw up.”

“Is it really okay to cancel a day?” The idea of skimping on his shift again makes Jimin feel incredibly guilty, no matter how shitty he feels.

The winter sunlight is white and too cool against his sensitive eyes, but Jimin can still see Jin’s lips press into a thin line. “Listen, Jimin.” He’s smoothing down the hair around Jimin’s temples, which must be sweaty and disgusting.

Jimin croaks in response.

“Yoongi is on his way to come and see you—we’ll have to get you into the bath soon.”

Jimin feels his eyebrows draw together—“Yoongi?”

Hoseok is giving him a pitying smile. “His rut broke late last night; he already cleared his fever with Namjoon. He’s all ready to come and see you.”

Jimin feels some relief just at the words, but frowns and persists, “Yoongi has long ruts, though.”

Jin’s lip line becomes impossibly thinner. “You’ve been sick for two days, Jimin.”

Something keeps Jimin from responding with just his straightforward shock. There’s something about the way Jin says it.

His voice is so deliberate, and he’s looking at Jimin so intently. Hoseok is looking at him like Jimin might be missing a part of the puzzle. He’s ready to at least ask what the hell is really wrong, but as if on cue, his stomach cramps up terribly. But it’s not just his stomach—it’s his hips, too, and the tops of his thighs feel like they’re weak.

Jin’s gentle smile would be believably comforting if it weren’t for the tension around his eyes.

Jimin takes the chance to adjust his hips and try to stretch. There’s a distinct pain there that Jimin has only felt once before in his life. Presentation has that kind of an effect.

The air is carefully tense. It might not be so awkward, Jimin thinks, if he hadn’t been a beta default.

“How long?” His throat feels tight.

Hoseok looks to the other omega, who raises his eyebrows and sighs.

“A week, maybe two,” Seokjin offers. His hand on the side of Jimin’s neck feels especially relaxing.

Jimin had been told—by practicing doctors—that he wouldn’t have his first full heat until nearly a year after his presentation. Three months later, and he’s in pre-heat fever.

“It’s Yoongi,” he realizes. Hoseok shrugs and raises his eyebrows.

Strangely, though, he doesn’t feel as shocked by the news as he probably should. He doesn’t feel any particular way about it—he’s itching for a bath and more than anything, he wants to see Yoongi. It’s strange to feel pure excitement at the thought of seeing the man, but Jimin knows that he’ll be taken care of by Yoongi.

He wriggles impatiently. The thought of seeing Yoongi already has him feeling more energetic. “Can I take a bath now?”

Both omegas snort; Jimin feels awful, and doesn’t care enough to feel embarrassed.

He is feeling ashamed when he falls down immediately after getting up out of bed, but Hoseok is there and leads Jimin to the bathroom while Jin sneaks in front to start the water running. Jimin can tell that the water is practically room-temperature by the angle of the faucet’s temperature control, but he’s not mad at all; his face feels just as flushed as Yoongi would normally cause.

Once Jimin finally gets himself into the tub, after some hassle, it’s all standard scrubbing.

“Ow,” Jimin complains weakly.

Jin frowns. “Make sure you eat something as soon as you get to Yoongi’s—if you go, of course.”

“I wanna go,” Jimin murmurs.

As if on que, Jimin can hear the huge front door of the den closing all the way from his room, which is at the end of the hall. He’s waiting stiffly for long seconds—he can hear growling as soon as Taehyung can be heard trying to talk to Yoongi. Taehyung's resistance doesn't last long; the sound of boots approaches rapidly and Taehyung's voice continues to die down into silence.

Some time later, there’s a knock on the other side of the bedroom door. Jimin perks up; Jin rolls his eyes. “I’ll let him in?”

Jimin ducks down shyly and scrubs at his wrists. “Yes, please.”

Seokjin doesn’t say anything before the doorknob starts to turn. The omega sighs; Jimin pulls his knees shyly up to his chest.

“Yoongi,” he greets.

He’s proud of himself for being able to manage the words at all; the alpha looks so painfully good that Jimin wants to whine. His scent in the bathroom has Jimin’s entire body relaxing into something entirely pliant—Yoongi’s post-rut scent is the most overwhelming thing he has ever smelled.

Yoongi is at his side in seconds, taking Seokjin’s place. The omega himself has left, Jimin notes later.

“I heard you’re pretty sick,” Yoongi says. Jimin’s entire body is tingling at the voice; he never wants to be separated from the alpha ever again.

Jimin juts his chin forward; when Yoongi kisses his forehead, a purr bubbles up from the back of his throat. “I missed you,” he says shyly. His face must be doubly red from fever and the alpha in front of him.

Yoongi wets his hands in the water and runs Jimin’s bar of soap between his long fingers a few times. The sight immediately gives Jimin lewd thoughts, and he tears his eyes away when he realizes what he’s doing. Something in the alpha’s tense jaw tells Jimin he isn’t being discrete.

“I missed you, too,” Yoongi rumbles. He massages at Jimin’s shoulders and exposed back. “You’re smelling even more pretty than you usually do,” he says.

Jimin preens. “You’re the one who smells good,” he insists. He tilts his head to the side as obediently as he can.

The corner of the alpha’s mouth twitches upward through the tension. “I’m happy to hear you think that,” he says lowly. “Let’s get you out of this cold water.”

He lets Jimin rinse off while he grabs a towel. He’s mindful of Jimin’s nakedness even then, stretching the towel out for Jimin to step into and remain covered. When Jimin has a decent hold keeping the towel wrapped around his body, Yoongi leans in and lifts him straight out of the tub.

Jimin can’t hold in his squeak; the alpha cracks a small smile as he sets Jimin down over the toilet seat. With a second towel, Yoongi dries off his hair and exposed skin gently.

Jimin knows why Yoongi had set him down—his mind goes back to the first time Yoongi had dried his hair, and the way Jimin had shamelessly offered up his own neck. He’s tempted to repeat the action, but having some space helps.

“Yoongi,” he says. He doesn’t know what he wants to say after that.

The alpha picks up the comb sitting on his sink, flips it over, cracks another smile, and runs it through Jimin’s hair. It’s inherently flattering, Jimin thinks; Yoongi’s parting his hair with the comb he’d originally given to Jimin.

“Would you want to come over? I thought I could pack a bag while we’re here.” The towel is running back over Jimin’s parted hair.

Jimin shifts. “I’d like that a lot,” he admits.

The alpha pauses. “Should I pack your toothbrush?”

It takes a bit—Jimin’s too thoroughly drunk on Yoongi’s pheromones to catch the meaning until a fair amount of time has passed. When understanding finally hits, and he realizes what the alpha is really asking, Jimin’s purring before he can even give a response.

Yoongi ducks down to nuzzle into Jimin’s nearly-dried hair. “Let’s pack, then.”

Jimin’s just as surprised when Yoongi picks him up, but he takes all the opportunity he can to scent up the alpha. He presses a couple kisses there, feeling especially daring, but then Yoongi’s grip on the back of his thigh in a way that’s a little too appealing. Thankfully, the trip to Jimin’s bed is only a few steps.

“What do you want to wear?” But Jimin’s more focused on the way Yoongi’s eyes darken when he pulls away from Jimin towards the dresser.

“Uhm,” Jimin blurts, and shrugs. “Nothing too itchy, please.”

Yoongi nods at that, and opens the first drawer of Jimin’s dresser. Jimin himself is too busy looking at the broad spread of Yoongi’s shoulders to warn him, and the alpha freezes. Jimin has a nice view of Yoongi’s back and all the muscles that tense up beneath his shirt.

“—That’s my underwear drawer,” Jimin warns, definitely too late.

He can hear Yoongi’s inhale from across the room. Still, he looks surprisingly in control as he pulls a couple of pairs out—until he runs the fist full of fabric over the column of his neck.

Jimin whimpers.

Yoongi continues from there, pulling out socks and pants and things from his drawers. When he hits Jimin’s pajama drawer, he pulls out one of the pairs of shorts there, and stops at the shirts. Jimin might have one or two tees there if he’s lucky, but he’s pretty sure it’s all sleeveless tanks.

“I could give you something of mine to sleep in,” Yoongi offers.

Jimin’s toes curl. “That would be nice,” he says.

Yoongi closes the drawer and turns back to Jimin with his clothing selected.

While Jimin’s bag is at the foot of his bed—which has been stripped, likely by Seokjin—Yoongi ignores it at first in favor of offering Jimin’s undergarments to him. He appreciates the privacy, and slips everything on while Yoongi packs the portion of clothing meant for the next day into his bag. As soon as Jimin reaches for his sweater, though, Yoongi’s taking the shirt for him.

It takes him a moment to realize that the alpha plans to help him get dressed.

The experience is almost surreal, sliding into the stretched material only to see Yoongi’s face again when Jimin’s head clears the hole in the grey knit. He chances a look at the alpha’s eyes, but ducks down shyly and finishes threading his arms through the sleeves.

“When was the last time you ate?” Yoongi asks. He’s guiding Jimin’s ankle through the leg of his jeans.

“A while before I got sick,” Jimin answers truthfully. He slides off of his bed to finish slipping into his jeans. “I’m not hungry, though. I can wait.”

One sock and then the other. “You’ll need to eat as soon as you can.”

Jimin fidgets with his hands while Yoongi slips his shoes on over his feet. He doesn’t know if his stomach is feeling up to eating, but then the alpha is straightening up.

“Ready?” He’s looking straight into Jimin’s eyes, and trailing his hand up and over Jimin’s neck.

Jimin’s honestly not excited to put strain on his weak legs, but he nods anyways; he’s tired of being separated from Yoongi.




The walk to Yoongi’s turns out to not be a walk at all.

“I don’t really think this is necessary,” Jimin protests, although he does press his face deeply into the curve of the alpha’s neck. It’s still warm with fever, and Jimin vaguely wonders which one of them has a higher temperature. At least Yoongi’s is healthy and part of his rut.

There’s nothing much in response, just a snort that might be teasing and Yoongi’s arms tightening beneath Jimin’s back and thighs. Jimin had figured that the back-and-forth sway of being carried would irritate his nausea, but the pheromones against his nose seem to be a cure-all.

It sounds a lot quieter, with only one set of feet crunching through the snow and up the steps to the alpha’s cabin. Jimin tightens his arms around Yoongi’s neck and shoulders a little nervously when the alpha steps up to his porch. His stomach surprisingly only cramps and flips a little bit.

“Sorry for all the movement,” he says lowly. Still, opening the door and crossing the threshold proves minimal jostling. Jimin shrugs as much as he can and presses his cheek into Yoongi’s shoulder.

“’S okay,” he says. He’s feeling sleepy again now that he knows he can relax, but he wants to stay as close as he can to Yoongi no matter what. Not even the fever makes him want to pull away.

“Tired?” Jimin nods, and then shakes his head ‘no’ against Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi laughs silently and closes the door behind them with what sounds like the heel of his boot. “Let’s get you in bed.”

The progression of thought moves slowly from initial confusion to embarrassed excitement when they cross into Yoongi’s room. He ducks his head completely into Yoongi’s shirt and does his best not to whine.

But the blankets over the alpha’s bed feel nice and cool against Jimin’s skin, and he thinks that the scent on all sides of him is absolutely amazing. He likes that he can run his hands over the material of the bedding, and look around at all the furniture, and at the painkillers and glasses and even washcloths stacked up on Yoongi’s nightstand.

Yoongi takes off his shoes, and he’s grinning, and Jimin giggles a little bit when the alpha pulls and adjusts the blankets over Jimin’s body. Jimin curls straight into Yoongi’s pillow, and he can’t keep the smile from his own face.

“I don’t know if you want to change so quickly,” the alpha starts, sliding Jimin’s bag from his shoulder and setting it down beside the bed, “But you’re welcome to take any of my clothing.”

Jimin nods with one half of his face pressed into Yoongi’s pillow. When Yoongi himself leans down to kiss Jimin’s cheek, the rush of pheromones have Jimin’s hips aching hollowly.

He’s running his hand over Jimin’s hair. “I’m going to go warm up some soup,” Yoongi rumbles. “You can call for me—don’t move to far on your own.”

Jimin doesn’t protest in words, although he does whine loudly when Yoongi leans away. There’s something deeply disheartening about seeing the alpha pull away from him, even if Jimin is taking control of his bed. He doesn’t say much else, though, to let Yoongi move away. Even more surprising than that, though, is the way his body heats up in a panicked sweat the second Yoongi looks back before he leaves the room.

When he’s gone, Jimin feels anxiety start up immediately.

The first move, Jimin thinks, is to get out of such warm clothing. It takes less than a minute to strip down and reach over the bed for his shorts.

He’s right that less clothing seems to help to some extent, but his entire sense of temperature seems to be more related to how much of Yoongi’s scent he has access to. With that trail of thought, Jimin looks at Yoongi’s closet longingly.

With his neediness growing while time passes, he crawls out of bed and moves on shaking legs toward the armoire. He takes the first thing he can find before crawling straight back into the alpha’s bed to put it on. It's a thick, almost flannel button-down with a high collar that brushes the alpha's scent soothingly against his neck. He pulls the collar directly up against his nose, sniffs, and feels like the world around him is grounded.

Shit, he thinks, and wants nothing more than to be wrapped entirely in that scent. Jimin doesn't know how it's possible to be more overwhelmed, but he wants it.

So he sits on Yoongi’s bed for a bit, debating between sniffing the alpha's shirt some more and getting up to bother the man himself, but eventually settles on a happy medium by crawling into Yoongi's bed and slipping back between the sheets.

And that makes him feel just a little bit better.

His head swirls with contented thoughts, even through the cramping, when he drags his palms over the little pills on Yoongi's clean cotton sheets. It smells freshly of the alpha, of the heady scent Jimin loves most, and that has him nuzzling his face into the material.

He can tell that everything has been freshly laundered and cleaned—there’s a telltale chill that the few windows of the cabin have been left open. But the diluted scent of Yoongi’s rut is still there regardless, teasing up against Jimin’s nose and making him moan a little when his stomach tightens up into a clench.

The feeling of satisfaction only increases when he fists the material in his hands and rubs his wrists against it—the thought that both of their scents will be there, with the pop of Jimin's left to be found by the alpha, has him shivering and pressing his body down into the mattress. He might be pressing his crotch down, as well, but he blames it on the instinctual headiness that tells him to scent the alpha’s bed as much as he can.

It's so much better than he'd been feeling before Yoongi’s rut had even hit, even with Yoongi so far away in the other room. He at least has the alpha's scent, can pull in Yoongi's pillow underneath his body—can clutch it to his chest and maybe rut down on it two or three times before he's too embarrassed to continue. Jimin still feels needy, of course—still can't help but whine as quietly as he can, but. It's manageable. And his stomach isn't cramping anymore as much as clenching painfully, even while it is still disgustingly sore from all the hard work of his fever.

Jimin thinks the slight relief might have to do with the pleasure thrumming through him whenever he presses himself slightly against the alpha's pillow, but he doesn't want to think too much on that one.

"I take it you're not hungry,” he hears, from the doorway.

Jimin's eyes fly open, even if they are trained on the sheets in front of him. Shame runs hot through his body--he whines and feels his own hips twitch, too, which only worsens the situation. He tries to ball up as much as possible, but then Yoongi's rumbling a soft and contented sound.

"It's natural," he says quietly. "Mark as much as you want."

So Jimin allows himself one more nuzzle into the sheets before he rolls onto his side. He wants to roll over and mix their scents together as much as possible, but huffs instead and refrains. Yoongi seems to like that, if the grin visible in Jimin's peripheral is any indication.

"I don't know what's wrong with me," he admits, whines. Now that he’s not pressing into the alpha’s bed, the pain is returning full force.

"Nothing," Yoongi says immediately, and Jimin appreciates this. "It's your first real heat."

And that part doesn't even make him feel any better. Get away from me, he wants to curse, but looks beggingly upwards anyways. He wants to blame Yoongi for everything 'alpha' about him. Instead, he nuzzles into the sheets some more.

"You're right," he murmurs. Yoongi raises an eyebrow. "I'm not hungry."

Jimin expects the alpha to come up close and give him the attention he needs, but instead Yoongi sits on the worn-looking chair at the corner of his room. Jimin briefly wonders if the chair has some kind of significance; everything else in the alpha’s home is new. But he seems content there, watching Jimin take up the majority of his bed.

"You should eat if you can stomach anything at all," Yoongi suggests lowly. "You'll want to eat less and less as your cycle nears."

Those words ‘your cycle’ have Jimin frowning. "I'm not a woman," he mumbles.

A huff of a laugh. "You're just as pretty."

And if those words don't make Jimin flush. He curls up around the alpha's pillow as much as possible, burying his face and looking through a small slit where his right eye isn't quite obscured by the mattress's curve. "Thank you," he murmurs.

Yoongi rumbles, chest puffing outwards on his inhale. "Do you want to eat here or on my lap in the main room?"

Jimin frowns pathetically. “I don’t,” he groans weakly. “Yoongi.”

The alpha makes a questioning sound of acknowledgement, but he leans back. Jimin whimpers at that and wriggles impatiently.

“You should eat,” Yoongi insists. His jaw is clenched.

But Jimin’s more focused on the sound of the alpha’s voice. “I don’t want to—my stomach hurts.”

“The food will help,” Yoongi promises, almost firmly, but the idea of eating really just makes Jimin keen frustratedly and cover his face with his hands.

No,” he protests. He feels so embarrassed and even bratty, and his throat is closing up a bit with all the tension the refusal brings. He doesn’t know what Yoongi’s response is, but he’s choking up and babbling: “Smells good here—in your bed—everything’s like you.”

But he groans as his stomach flips again. The pain is intense; not so bad as his fever, but sharp enough that a whimper is trailing out.

Jimin’s face is still buried when he hears, “You need to eat,” in a rough tone that he wouldn’t dare reject under any other circumstance. Instead, he feels his entire body tense up and he fists into the man’s sheets. Mortification sets in when he can feel his lower body clench around nothing.

No,” he groans again, and grinds his hips down only to lift them up from the mattress. It’s embarrassing, to hold his ass up like that, but he’s afraid he’ll rut down again otherwise. “I need, I don’t want—It feels good here.” He wets his lips, slicking them up a bit too much. “It feels better.”

And there’s a growl starting up at that, and Jimin’s thighs are flexing and he feels embarrassment rushing deep and hot through his body—he’s still clenching and so is his stomach: “Yoongi,” he breaks. His voice cracks.

It's all itchy, and irritation, and a lot of terrible stomach pain, and his throat is tight, and he feels a whole lot of desperation and embarrassment when he rolls onto his back and turns his head to look at the alpha. Yoongi looks almost hungrily at him, with eyes narrowed, and Jimin whimpers. He still feels hazy, but it’s all too much.

The alpha’s entire body is set tensely. “You’re in pain.” He growls the words through clenched teeth and jaw.

Jimin huffs and pushes Yoongi’s blankets farther down his body. He’s nodding, lifting up his own hips in the most uncomfortable way whenever a cramp wracks his body. Sure, Yoongi’s scent is in the room, but Yoongi is there and Yoongi could be with Jimin and those thoughts are making his muscles tense again—

“It hurts,” Jimin croaks, squeezing his eyes shut. He feels overwhelmed, and his vision is blurring up. “It hurts.”

He almost doesn’t realize that he’s sniffling and blinking back tears until Yoongi’s hands are reaching between his body and the mattress.

The alpha is sitting beside him on the bed. “Deep breaths, baby,” he says. But he’s growling, and he’s pulling Jimin’s body up into his lap like he weighs nothing. That helps to ease the hiccupping slightly, but Jimin can still feel all the hot tears building up and dipping from his eyelashes.

Jimin wipes roughly at his eyes so that he can hide his face into Yoongi’s shoulder. He rubs his face against Yoongi’s neck to nuzzle and agitate more of the alpha’s sent, but it’s not enough even when he rubs his body against Yoongi’s. He whimpers.

“My stomach,” he whines. It’s a horrifying combination of shy and sullen. The fabric on Yoongi’s shoulder is wet with his own tears. “It hurts.”

The alpha’s hands, dragging comfortingly over the small of his back, tighten around Jimin’s waist. His long fingers wrap so far around that Jimin feels trapped there—his entire body pulls into a full shiver, but his fever feels like it’s heating up again.

His whole body feels hot—too hot, like his skin might peel right off if he doesn’t do something.

Off,” he whines, but his fingers are dumb and shaky around the buttons of Yoongi’s shirt on his own body. He thinks he hears the alpha groan before there’s a much more steady hand to help him. Yoongi doesn’t push it off his arms all the way, and Jimin’s too desperate by that point, so he moves forward again to brush his own bare nipples over the alpha’s chest through his long sleeve.

The alpha really smells too good, like—like sex, Jimin’s mind supplies, but that isn’t right at all. The cedar and the amber are all there but it’s rich in a way that’s probably something like rut.

Yoongi’s post-rut scent. Jimin’s rubbing his entire body over Yoongi’s, nuzzling his face into the alpha’s shoulder. His own mouth brushes the skin of the man’s bare neck, at one point, which only yields more thought of Yoongi’s mouth and teeth over his neck—and over his scent gland. The back of his shorts might be a little sticky with the idea.

Jimin tilts his neck to the side. “Wanna smell like you,” he chokes.

And Jimin’s crying again, he realizes. There are hot droplets over his cheeks that drip onto Yoongi’s shirt when the alpha leans in to drag teeth over the gland at his neck. He feels almost delirious with all the proximity; he’s spreading his legs even more over Yoongi’s leg and bouncing a little with a pleased sound that’s nothing but shameful.

The hands on Jimin’s body are so carefully rough. “I want you to reek like me during your heat,” the alpha snaps.

He pulls Jimin’s body in, too; Jimin’s crotch is settled right over the top of the alpha’s thigh this way. Jimin squeals sharply at that, and at the hot pleasure that settles immediately behind his eyelids with all those little suckling kisses over his skin. It takes Jimin rubbing up on Yoongi’s body just two or three times for that mouth to move into a hot pulling pressure on his skin, but that might be even more dangerous.

He doesn’t want to look down, because he knows he’s shamefully hard already, and Yoongi's cock is so close; he’s pushing himself down onto the alpha’s leg in the most imperceptible way he can.

It's pointless to try without being caught, really—he can feel the back of his shorts dampening up already, and Yoongi can definitely smell it if his entire body tensing against Jimin’s skin is any indication. Jimin’s own face feels impossibly red and his vision is still blurred with mortified tears, but he still moans when the alpha’s hand fists roughly into the material of his shorts, and then grips harshly at his hip.

“’S—,” Jimin chokes when his own cock gets just the smallest amount of friction over Yoongi’s leg. “’S good.”

He's moaning quietly, but it’s not what he really wants—not the friction he wants or the grind he needs—until Yoongi’s reaching farther, beyond his hip bones, and dragging Jimin over his leg with a hand gripping at his ass.

Jimin thinks, mid-shiver, that the white he’d seen might have been his eyes might rolling to the back of his own head.

He doesn’t have a chance, then; he can physically feel the rush of slick that comes and the way it has the entire back half of his shorts sticking to his legs and ass. The pull on his scent gland is almost painful when Jimin’s hips start to really rut down. He’s not sure what has him so wet so quickly—if it’s that roughness on his skin or maybe Yoongi’s fingers pulling the wet material of his shorts up, wedging the fabric up in a way that exposes the skin of his ass for the alpha to grip.

Even his rough hold on Jimin’s bare ass is slippery with slick—“Smell so wet for me,” Yoongi’s growling, and the other fingers on Jimin’s waist are curling and dragging over his skin.

Jimin's babbling dumbly and whimpering little choking sounds—he thinks he's talking about how good his alpha smells, but he doesn't know.

And Jimin feels so pathetic—with hips kicking forward and little high-pitched sounds every time his cock gets a little better friction. His eyes are still watery and he’s humping Yoongi’s leg like an animal, both shameless and ashamed at once, but he feels like a mess no matter what he does. It doesn’t help that he has no idea what to do with his own hands; he’s too embarrassed to fist them in the alpha’s shirt, so they’re clenching and unclenching uselessly when everything feels like too much.

Jimin’s stomach is curling up in a hot twist—so different from before—when he finally grabs at the alpha’s shirt. “Please,” he croaks. The drag of fabric over his cock is too hot. “Feels good,” he whines.

Yoongi’s teeth dig just the slightest over Jimin’s gland when he pulls away. Jimin’s not sure if it’s the mocking bite or the eye contact that has even more slick pouring out of his body, at the backs of his thighs. Regardless, he's a mess, with a slack jaw and a little bit of drool even threatening to pool at the corner of his mouth.

The alpha looks almost furious, with a set jaw but an unmistakable conflict in his eyes. He looks like he wants to eat Jimin. And he might: he’s dragging the clear-coated hand from Jimin’s ass up to his neck. Jimin watches the trails of slick between Yoongi’s fingers snap before he’s smearing it almost harshly into the column over his neck. It's a heavy pressure, marking Jimin's skin up until Yoongi's finally satisfied and Jimin's entire neck feels sticky. Then he’s right back to marking up Jimin’s throat with an especially satisfied growl.

The whole thing has Jimin impossibly more ashamed; not only at his own slick on his throat and Yoongi’s tongue, but also at the way Jimin sees the whole thing through a constantly jerking field of vision. His rutting down on Yoongi’s leg is only speeding up, and the it has him feeling—

“—‘M close,” he gasps. He can feel the vibrate from Yoongi’s throat all the way through his lips and his own neck. “I want—,”

But he cuts himself off in a needy whine. He’s too embarrassed to say the words out loud, and the feeling is more enticing anyways. Yoongi’s not having any of that, though; his grip on Jimin’s hips is almost bruising, and he leans in to kiss Jimin open-mouthed and hot.

“Need to give you everything you want,” he snarls against Jimin’s lips, and Jimin whines at the wild look in his eyes.

And really, it all feels so good—“Wanna come,” he sobs. The alpha’s features are almost entirely blurred out through his wet eyelashes.

Yoongi’s grip is so rough, then, and he’s really digging his teeth into Jimin’s scent gland in a way that couldn’t break skin but absolutely hints at it.

And Jimin knows he could come like that, thinking about bites and permanent marks and maybe even Yoongi’s knot. But as if that’s not enough, the alpha pulls away after a particularly harsh bite to grip at his ass and pull Jimin into an even more intense grind.

“Want to make you mine,” he snarls. His grip is so bruising and rough that Jimin can only whine, mind blank white with hot burning in his stomach, until he can feel Yoongi’s teeth on his neck and the alpha’s finger pressing against his asshole through the wet fabric of his shorts.

That’s how he comes—whining and riding out waves forward and back harshly, trying to press back against Yoongi’s hand until his hips are stuttering and his entire body is shaking. He thinks that the hands on his body might be the only thing has him grounded enough not to collapse. Even then, he’s not so successful; he falls right against Yoongi’s front and gasps little embarrassing moans when the sensitivity begins to feel deliciously raw.

“So pretty,” Yoongi murmurs. He’s still scraping teeth against his neck, and his voice is thick with a growl. Jimin can’t do anything but kick his hips pathetically and whine, but he does yank on Yoongi’s shirt. He might grind his ass down closer to the alpha's cock, too, but he has to stop that before Yoongi's snarl can pull him right back under.

When Jimin’s finally capable of managing a few shaky pants, he can feel Yoongi brushing his hair away from his forehead with one of the cloths from his nightstand. Jimin leans into the contact as much as he can, hiding his face and nuzzling in. Shame runs hot through his body, but he likes the feeling.

“Feeling better?” Yoongi seems to wipe his own hands—of Jimin’s slick, he realizes—and he kisses at Jimin’s neck softly. He also glances almost regrettably at his own hand as he cleans it, and Jimin tries not to think on that in favor of responding.

Jimin’s entire face is on fire at that, but he gives the quietest nod he can. He shifts. “Are you—” But he stops.

Yoongi grips Jimin’s hand before he can trail it downwards. “Jimin.”

And he can’t just refuse to look at the alpha. The look he sees is cutting and makes his mind blur into the same fuzz it had from the very first day. Jimin's eyelashes are fluttering heavily with all the attention.

Their fingers are threaded together by the time Jimin has to finally break eye contact—he doesn’t know what he’d do otherwise. But when he can finally look at Yoongi again, a shiver wracks his body.

Yoongi’s fingers come up to hold his chin. He’s not quite forcing Jimin to look at him, but he wants to whimper regardless.

“I want you to stay with me during your heat.”

Jimin’s eyes widen.

Chapter Text

Jimin’s eyes are so wide that the sense of natural focus in them is distorted. Distantly, in the back of his mind, he wonders why he’s so shocked that the alpha would say so.

“Yoongi,” he whines. It’s the first thing he can think of, aside from the following need to look down at the neutral shade of the alpha’s bed sheets. Yoongi’s fingers at his chin make it difficult, but the part of him that wants to be submissive manages somehow.

There’s a heavy moment of silence in which Jimin absolutely cannot manage eye contact, even blinking and lowering eyelids when the alpha tilts his chin. His back feels almost dangerously straight, straining into what he hopes isn’t too much of an obvious arch. Jimin feels pitifully small at being studied so closely.

When the alpha finally tilts Jimin’s face in such a way that looking down and away feels impossible, he whimpers. The sound doesn’t help the situation any, especially with Yoongi brushing the pad of a thumb over the crease of his lips.

Jimin’s just about to give in and wrap his lips around Yoongi’s thumb when the alpha releases his chin.

“You don’t have to answer me now.” His hand is running through Jimin’s hair again, gentle even through the tangles that must have formed. Something about the touch makes Jimin feel like he’s being worried over—or, he realizes, like a pup being taken care of.

The heady feeling Jimin has is too much even to try worrying about the mess he must look like on Yoongi’s lap.

Feeling embarrassed, Jimin ducks—Yoongi’s hand follows to cup his cheek. Jimin thinks it has to be unhealthy for butterflies to take up in his stomach so quickly after all the heat that had been there. He shouldn’t feel so pleased with the front and back of his shorts sticking to his skin.

He feels pressured for a response—maybe not just to Yoongi’s question, but at all, which is too difficult with the pheromones and the clenching in his stomach. Yoongi’s jawline and lips come into his peripheral vision and disappear again, though, and Jimin feels the alpha’s lips over his scent gland. The alpha pulls back with a tension visible even underneath the taut skin of his neck.

Jimin feels a little upset when Yoongi’s statement dissolves, even when the tension is still so thick. He’s disappointed in himself. He doesn’t want to admit why, even while his stomach drops desperately. There’s an anxiety settling in the farthest part of his mind—how is he supposed to bring the topic back up? How should he answer?

Thankfully, he doesn’t have to think about it in the moment; the man in front of him is distracting enough.

“Pretty omega,” Yoongi comments. Jimin shivers full-bodied. “Let’s get you into the bath.”

Jimin feels a little numb, and a little stupid; he’s sitting with his legs spread and his shoulders lax until Yoongi moves him with two hands wrapped around his middle. But his own responses still seem to be limited; Jimin can’t do much aside from tilt his head and expose his neck. He doesn’t even remember to close his slack jaw all the way until Yoongi finally picks him up again.

He wants to protest a little bit, and at least try to walk on his own.

“Ngh,” he whines instead.

The most he can do is wrap his legs around the alpha’s waist, and even that requires some help. He yelps a little bit when Yoongi grips at the back of his thighs. He likes it, though; likes the proximity he gains to Yoongi’s scent gland, and the pheromones he can tease out when he nips at the skin there—even though the alpha pinches his thigh in warning for that one.

But ultimately, this is Jimin's favorite kind of pampering. He doesn’t put up as much of a fight as he probably should.

Yoongi dips his head straight into the crook of Jimin's neck the second they step through the doorway into the bathroom; he inhales, growls, and presses a kiss there that has Jimin's entire body stretching up in satisfaction.

"You smell like me.” Jimin can feel himself being set on the counter surrounding the bathroom sink—he’s a little anxious about being left there, until the alpha’s pressed right up between his legs and in his personal space.

Jimin swallows around the cotton feeling in his throat. “Is that okay?” He asks shyly. Yoongi’s so close that Jimin can see a bit of blurring around the man’s eyelashes.

"It’s everything I want," he growls against Jimin’s mouth. "Smells like heat and like me.”

And that has Jimin smiling contentedly, even as Yoongi finally pulls away jerkily. The grin on his own face feels a little bit dopey, but he likes the way his alpha looks even when the man is tense.

He eventually settles into the tub the same way as he has before, watching as the alpha fills the tub with all sorts of soaps and oils and having undressed only once Yoongi had turned around of his own decision. The water feels extra soothing this time around, easing cramps in his muscles that he hadn't realized existed.

"This feels so nice on my stomach," he admits as the alpha begins to rinse his hair. "Thank you."

Yoongi's fingers dip down to trace at his neck and shoulders. "Your muscles have been contracting—ones that haven't been in use before," he says into Jimin’s ear. And then, "I'll take care of you."

That promise has Jimin melting even more. He knows it's not an empty one—Yoongi is capable and strong against anything or anyone that might try to bother Jimin, and that might soothe the cramps in his stomach more than the hot water. The alpha might be soft for Jimin, but for others... Jimin has a vague image of Chanyeol’s bruises after their fight and holds back a disturbingly content shiver.

There's light, circling pressure where the line of Jimin's hair meets his neck. He tilts his head forward at that, both to show off for Yoongi and relax into the feeling.

"I don't want to leave," he whines.

Yoongi's fingers pause, and then continue. "You don't have to leave me."

His voice has an edge to it, and the words have Jimin's head fuzzy. There's a double meaning there, definitely.

"As much as I'd like to take off work for the next week—not go to shift, I mean—I can't just laze around in your bed all day." He's lying straight through his teeth, though; he wants nothing more than to occupy all of the alpha's space and time.

"I'll put in for a pre-heat request with Omega Seokjin." He's massaging soap into Jimin's scalp, now. “You’d only have to go in for a shift or so to settle your heat arrangements.”

Jimin turns a little, even if his eyes are closed. "I can actually ditch?"

"'Ditch?'"

"Not go."

"You can."

Jimin curls up a bit, knees touching steamy air. "Can I stay here, maybe? I won't make a fuss when you go to work."

He knows it’s ridiculous—to ask to stay in the alpha’s home before his heat without confirming that he’ll be spending his actual heat with Yoongi—but he’s just too tongue-tied to ask what he really wants to. He curses himself for not jumping on the opportunity when he’d had the chance.

Yoongi had asked him, and straightforwardly; in comparison, Jimin can’t even hint at his answer.

But the alpha snorts. "I already put in my request with Namjoon; Hoseok will take over."

"You were going to ditch when I wasn't?" He wants to sound as miffed as he actually is, but Yoongi's fingers are brushing over the glands behind his ears.

"It's common to pass off leave; I thought you had already put in a request."

And that has him feeling embarrassed. "Sorry. I didn't know."

"Don't be," the alpha says, and leans around to kiss his cheek sweetly. Jimin curls up even more. “You’ve had to learn a lot of new things.”

He really has, Jimin thinks. His entire compound experience feels like a cycle of cultural blunders that are only corrected once it’s too late. He tries to think of a time where he’d been prepared for any of the events he’d experienced, but Seokjin’s loose and barely-adequate explanation of the Offering is all he can think of. But he’s not in any sort of headspace that’s capable of agreeing with Yoongi’s statement too intensely, especially if it means complaining.

Instead, he nods. He’s still trying to formulate a response, but Yoongi’s hands are relaxing him enough that any words he might have said drown into a purr.

Eventually Jimin’s hair is clean and he’s thoroughly spoiled. When the purring has lowered into a quiet sleepy sound, the hands still.

"I'll let you wash up,” Yoongi finally offers. “I'm going to go and salvage that soup."

Jimin hums appreciatively. He’s feeling better, even if his stomach does clench at the closing door. Some of that feeling is eased by the way Yoongi’s eyes stick to Jimin as he leaves, even with a final soft look over his shoulder.

While the alpha's leaving creates a pulling feeling in his gut, he really appreciates the time alone to relax in Yoongi's tub and stare at the ceiling. Even with Yoongi’s scent watered down as it is in the steamy air, Jimin's nearly wound up again. The idea that his cycle could cause all the changes is inherently disconcerting.

He gives himself a fair soak before he drags himself out of the tub; he does so very quietly, knowing that the alpha might come back to make sure Jimin's okay if he hears any noise. Once he's toweled off and bundled inside a fluffy towel, he sneaks into the alpha's room and slips into Yoongi's clothing—he even dares to take an extra overshirt from his hamper.

It’s all too big in the shoulders, and the sleeves cover beyond Jimin’s wrists, but he’d expected as much. The satisfying part is in the smell; it’s what grounds him and steadies his legs as he walks over to his bag.

He digs out his phone from inside the pouch and shoots a quick text to his mother—he’ll be needing to call her sooner rather than later with his heat coming up. He’ll also need to email his dean and professors, although he hopes to be able to complete at least some of his interviews before the heat.

We need to talk soon. I won’t be available in the last week of this month. He presses send before he can worry about how apathetic the message seems. Jimin thinks that the message will get his point across—his mom has handled multiple cases before his and will definitely read between the lines.

The blue bar at the top of the screen hovers just a bit from the right side, not quite delivering, so Jimin sets the device down on the nightstand. He knows that the compound’s reception is slow; it’s not the first text he has had to wait on.

Something about communicating with his mother in the middle of Yoongi’s home sends a strange feeling through Jimin. He’s not particularly angry at his mother, but he does feel some flash of irritation—like she’s somehow an unnecessary safety blanket. Clearly it’s a mood swing, but the way his text refuses to deliver even after a ridiculous amount of time only adds to the negative mood.

Frustrated, he decides to just call while he has the time. He needs to give the information sooner rather than later.

It’s the first call Jimin has made in weeks—he has almost forgotten where exactly the phone icon is located on his home screen. He’s a little worried about making a call in the middle of Yoongi’s home, but he knows on a deeper level that the alpha won’t mind. He dials the number and watches his mother’s contact name pop up. He presses the phone icon at the bottom of the screen and props the device by his ear.

He has just barely managed to pinch the phone between his ear and his shoulder when the dial tone sounds in his ear.

This device is not in service,” a recorded and filtered voice says. Jimin can feel his own eyes darting in the direction of his phone, as if he’ll be able to see it without moving it away from his ear. “Your call will not be considered an outgoing one. Please contact your provider.

He listens patiently to the white noise that follows, feeling a bit irrationally spooked. The sound of fuzz continues uninterrupted for at least ten seconds before the familiar beeping sound that signals the end of the call.

Jimin pulls his phone away and looks at it, bewildered.

He tries again. “This device is not in service—” The message plays back in its entirety again.

Confusion and mild concern circle his thoughts. He looks at the phone again, turns it over, and pulls the case off. No signs of damage are present, and exterior damage certainly wouldn’t have been a cause for the audio he’d received regardless. When he unlocks his phone and looks at the call log, his attempts to call haven’t been recorded.

Jimin does a general check of his phone, then, but everything else is the same. His photos are present, and he can navigate to websites—the ones he’s allowed to, anyways. His social media still has the same limits as always: he can view his old profiles, but he can’t navigate to see any others and he isn’t able to make any posts. Overall, his phone seems normal.

With the initial check done, Jimin has essentially done everything he can do. He tries to call a third time, receives the same response, and pockets the device. A more prominent source of anxiety circles in his gut—working up the courage to talk to Yoongi about his heat now seems like a much less difficult idea. In comparison, wondering about the restrictions betas could place on him is much more terrifying.

He tries to tell himself that he can’t do anything in the moment. He’ll have to ask someone; probably Seokjin or Namjoon. With that thought in mind, he swallows as much stress as he can and meanders into the kitchen a little worriedly.

He finds Yoongi stirring into the pot again. Jimin kind of likes the sight of him leaning over the counter; he has the quick and incredibly embarrassing thought to come up from behind wrap his arms around the alpha’s waist.

“You should be in the bath.”

Jimin has barely stepped into the space when Yoongi says the words; he nearly jumps at having been caught, but instead twists his fingers together nervously.

Yoongi hadn’t said the words negatively, though, if the little quirk of his lips is anything to go by. He does rush a little more in dishing up one obscenely large portion, but it seems like that’s all so that he can kiss the top of Jimin’s head once he’s finished.

Jimin’s not sure if it’s the fever or Yoongi’s scent that has his knees feeling weak again.

“Your hair’s wet,” the alpha hums. His fingers gently brush at the hair against the back of Jimin’s neck. While he’s shivering in response, Yoongi says, “I’ll dry your hair after you eat.”

It turns out a little differently—Jimin finds himself too squirmy to let the alpha feed him, so he takes the spoon into his own hand for once while Yoongi towels at his hair gently. The treatment is intimate, even if the alpha is obviously dissatisfied to see Jimin eating on his own. It’s cute that he’s so determined to take care of him, Jimin thinks, but he likes it better this way; pressed as close to Yoongi’s side as he can be, with both legs swung over the alpha’s.

It’s comfortable, even if the tension is still stifling. The only unease Jimin feels is an internal sort of anxiety at how he’s supposed to bring back up the impending and primarily important topic: his heat.

“How are you feeling?” Yoongi eventually asks, cutting into the silence. Jimin loves that the slur in his low tone is still so appealing.

Jimin tries to set his bowl down on the coffee table, but the alpha takes it out of his hands before he can do so. He wants to wring his fingers together again, but he reaches to play with the material of Yoongi’s pant seam in a less obviously-nervous tic. He’d changed, Jimin notices, out of the thick denim and into a soft loose pair of pants that resemble joggers.

He looks down at the thick cotton material. “Really good,” he finally manages. He bats his eyelashes and tries to fight down the anxiety. “I like being here. With you.”

Jimin can tell himself a thousand times that Yoongi is interested in him in some sort of aspect, but nothing’s as soothing as an action from the man himself. When he watches Yoongi’s hands move to hold his own, Jimin thinks the dopamine and pheromone rush he gets could actually make him insane—even having been wrapped up in all of what had happened on the man’s lap just a little while earlier.

He can sense Yoongi shifting forward into his personal space before he manages eye contact with the alpha. The look he sees there is so obviously full of affection that Jimin thinks he could faint, and not from his fever.

There’s an upturn to his lips. “I like being with you, too.” His tone has a warmth to it that might be teasing and might just be happiness. Regardless, the pale color of his skin and the outline of his shoulders are caught in a photo-esque memory in Jimin’s mind.

“But your scent is anxious,” Yoongi hums. Jimin stiffens. “What’s wrong?”

Jimin feels like he has been caught doing something bad. He ducks his head down a little bit and looks down at the front pocket of the button-down he’s wearing, where his phone sits.

“What’s your family like?” He blurts.

Yoongi is absolutely still beside Jimin. “My parents died,” he says lowly. Jimin stiffens, mortification setting in deep, but Yoongi straightens his fingers gently before Jimin can clench his hands into fists. “I don't have siblings, either. It happened a long time ago.”

“I’m so sorry,” Jimin says. It’s almost a shout with how ashamed he is to have asked.

But the alpha shakes his head. “It’s not a problem.” There’s a pause. “Are you missing your family?”

Jimin starts. “I—no,” he rejects. “I’m not—I’m really not that close with my parents.”

Yoongi waits in silence. Jimin knows he’s being asked to continue. He pulls his hand away and reaches up for his phone. He sets the thing down on his leg.

“It’s not that, it’s just—I went to send a message to my mom regarding my heat. It wouldn’t go through, so I called—I got a strange message.” His phone looks almost funny sitting on Jimin’s lap in the middle of a largely rustic cabin; it looks much too sleek and modern to be the source of his anxiety. “It said to contact 'the provider.'”

Jimin watches Yoongi’s eyes narrow slightly. He looks like the perfect image of contemplation.

“That sounds unusual,” he finally says. He looks especially dubious. “You’re allowed to call?”

Jimin nods. “It’s a once per-month kind of thing. I was saving it.”

“But now you’ll be in heat,” Yoongi fills in. Jimin nods a second time.

“I needed to tell them,” Jimin says. He feels a little exhausted. “But I keep getting the message when I call.”

There’s a warm feeling on the back of his head—almost like Yoongi is petting him. It’s disturbingly relaxing, especially when the alpha brushes his wrist over Jimin’s scent gland before leaning in.

“Everything is going to be okay,” he says in a low rumble. Jimin’s eyes dart back and forth in contact with Yoongi’s.

“Okay,” Jimin says. He believes the words when they’re coming from Yoongi’s mouth.

“I’m going to look into it,” Yoongi promises, interlocking their fingers again. Despite the complexity of the situation, Jimin nods. He feels like his chances are good so long as Yoongi says they are.

The kiss Yoongi gives him then is soft and unbearably warm. Jimin thinks his toes might be curling, along with his fingers against the alpha’s. The entirety of face flushes to an obscene degree. There’s a lot happening in a small amount of time—the feeling of Yoongi smiling a little bit against him, a gentle nip at Jimin’s bottom lip—and all Jimin can do is ensure that the approving sounds he can’t help but make are at least a bit muffled.

Jimin frees one hand to brush it over the alpha's shoulder—and drags it down the man's chest before he can think twice.

He can feel the purr in his own throat, even if it doesn’t come to full fruition until Yoongi pulls back. And that’s a little bit disappointing, until the alpha lifts an eyebrow.

“Should we take this back to bed?”

Jimin would pull his hands up to cover his red face if he could.

But Yoongi just laughs a little silent laugh at whatever he can see in Jimin’s expression. He stands up from the couch. “You’ll be needing a lot of sleep right now,” he says. Jimin twists his hands together, not quite comprehending, until Yoongi’s hands are reaching out for both sides of his waist.

“I meant that you should get some more rest,” he says, not negatively, as he pulls Jimin up.

Jimin allows himself to be pulled, but he wraps his arms around the alpha’s neck and nuzzles in. He feels strange—more needy, even than usual—but no matter how much the voice in the back of his head advises him not to look too desperate, he nuzzles in.

“Don’t go anywhere,” he says pathetically.

A kiss to the top of his head. “I won’t,” Yoongi promises. It sounds like he’s almost laughing, which would have Jimin pouting if not being immediately picked up.

“I’m not that tired,” Jimin says petulantly once they’re moving. Yoongi laughs again as he nudges at the door with his foot.

 

 

He ends up feeling very sleepy.

“You should come to bed,” Jimin suggests. He truthfully means it as more of a demand, but he’s still distracted with all the pheromones in the bedroom.

Yoongi looks back towards Jimin. He’s standing in front of the armoire, changing out of his shirt. “I wanted to offer to take the couch,” he says. He’d taken off his outer long sleeve, showing Jimin a sliver of his lower back and revealing a much thinner undershirt.

“No,” Jimin says immediately. He shies into the blankets. “Here is fine.”

He thinks Yoongi might have huffed at him, maybe amused, but then he turns back around. “I’m sorry I don’t have a change of clothing that fits you here,” he says. He’s reaching for the bottom of his shirt—pulling it off—Jimin wants to know who in the hell takes a shirt off in the way the alpha currently is—“I don’t have anything to offer you.”

Jimin looks at the planes of smooth skin of his alpha’s back. He thinks that might be a freckle on his shoulder blade, but he’s too distracted by broad shoulders and uninterrupted skin. “It’s fine,” he blurts. “I like it.”

He realizes a second too late that his later sentence wasn’t exactly applicable. Yoongi turns back and looks questioningly. Jimin peeks slightly ashamedly at the slight curves of muscle on the alpha’s arms. His mouth feels a little too dry to formulate a response.

“It’s okay, I mean,” Jimin tries to correct. It’s a disastrous attempt; he covers his face with his hands.

Yoongi’s lips are upturned as he pulls a more comfortable-looking long sleeve on. Jimin watches the process through the spaces between his fingers and tries not to kick his legs.

“I wish I could have at least given you what you left last time,” he says lowly. Jimin dares to pull his hands down a bit as the alpha shuts panel doors of the armoire and turns around. “But it’s... not in wearable condition anymore.”

Jimin’s cheeks feel hot.

“Your shirts are long enough,” he says. It’s not what he means—he wants to say that he’d ask for Yoongi’s clothing regardless, for the smell and the comfort, but it’s just too mortifying to say out loud.

Yoongi looks at Jimin heavily as he crosses the room. “I don’t know if I could say that,” he hedges. “But you look good in my things.”

Jimin’s stomach clenches a little dangerously.

“They smell good,” he mumbles in excuse. Yoongi makes his back arch a little bit, even under the sheets. He can’t believe he was anxious just a bit earlier.

Yoongi props a knee onto the edge of the mattress and looks questioningly down at Jimin, who’s curled up on the opposite side. He nods once in response, feeling caught up in all the eye contact.

To Jimin’s surprise, though, Yoongi doesn’t pull back the covers immediately. He seems to pause a little, shoulders squaring, and then reaches out to seize Jimin entirely and drag him across the mattress to the alpha’s side of the bed.

Jimin shrieks and giggles, kicking his legs in a way that can’t look graceful. His shock is a little lost, though, and much more focused on the look Yoongi gives him. To call it wolfish is an understatement—the intensity is all there, and the warm tones of his eyes are on full display.

Jimin thinks he might be close to outright snorting by the time he’s pulled all the way into Yoongi’s arms. When his smile is starting to hurt, he pulls on the alpha’ sleeve. The man himself just raises an eyebrow, looking smugly at Jimin from above.

“You look good in my bed, too.”

Jimin thinks there’s an almost phantom upturn at the corner of Yoongi’s mouth. He whines and returns his palms to cover firmly over his face. Yoongi’s too handsome to respond to rationally, and that’s without considering his scent.

He hears a low laugh before Yoongi finally releases him. The blankets rustle. Jimin moves slightly to accommodate the man, even if he won’t look at him—until Yoongi leans over him again and pulls at his wrists. The alpha looks especially seriously at Jimin’s hands when he gives into the pressure. Jimin can see that he’s settled into bed beside him.

Yoongi traces the pad of a thumb over Jimin’s left pinky. “Are you still feeling alright?”

Jimin nods, just barely. “I have been since you came.”

Yoongi’s eyes snap upwards to meet his. “I’m still very surprised,” he says lowly.

Jimin’s blush is increasing even more as he realizes exactly what Yoongi is referring to. “It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon,” he admits. “I didn’t pick up any of the symptoms.”

The alpha’s eyebrows narrow and form a crease in his forehead. “I should have noticed the warning signs. Your scent—,”

Jimin reaches up with one hand to smooth out the wrinkle between the alpha’s brows as delicately as he can. He feels so small lying beneath him. “I’m around eight or nine months early, I think,” he admits. “You couldn’t have known.”

There’s an almost frustrated exhale. “I should have.”

Jimin wants to giggle at that. “What would you have done even if you had?”

Yoongi looks decidedly put-out by that. Jimin does really laugh then, turning to face the alpha. He hopes that he’ll eventually be able to curl up against him, but for now the sliver of space is too nerve-wracking to cross.

“I could have at least scented something for you to sleep with,” the alpha finally decides. Jimin decides, with embarrassment humming through him, not to mention the way he’d been sleeping with Yoongi’s furs on a regular basis.

“I’m okay now,” he settles, trying to offer something instead. He locks his fingers a little more between the alpha’s.

The alpha takes a moment. “I’ll talk to Namjoon as soon as possible. You’ll get answers about your family.”

Gratitude wells up while Yoongi’s thumb traces over Jimin’s knuckles. Carefully, with Yoongi’s hand still over top of his, Jimin reaches out to touch softly over the alpha’s neck where his pulse must be. He feels a little silly to do so, but he loves feeling the quick pulse under his fingertips.

“Trying to expose my weaknesses?” Yoongi’s lips are upturned again.

“Am I your weakness?” It almost too daring to ask; Jimin studies the gentle pills in the sheets. He doesn’t move his hand, however.

“Yes.” The response is immediate.

Jimin flushes down to his toes. He wants to ask—but doesn’t know how—he considers his options, and blurts: “Why me?”

It’s not at all what he’d wanted to ask, and he feels ashamed to have mentioned it in the first place. He looks down, absolutely mortified; there’s no way he’ll be able to bring up his heat now.

Yoongi gently moves his hand. Jimin thinks that the gentle pressure might be pulling his hand away, causing panic, but then his palm lands firmly over where Yoongi’s heart sits beneath shirt skin and muscle. The pulse is more difficult to feel, but simultaneously runs deeper.

“The decision was an obvious one.”

Jimin stops the sound from escaping his mouth, but he still ends up inhaling sharply. His other hand jerks a bit in Yoongi’s direction, not quite reaching out.

He’s caught; Yoongi looks from Jimin’s outstretched hand to his eyes. “You can come closer,” he says lowly.

Jimin has to pull Yoongi’s covers back from over his own shoulder before he can finally get what he wants. He doesn’t waste any time; Yoongi smells so good in his own sheets that Jimin can finally feel some of his neediness fading. He presses himself up as closely as he can, nuzzling into Yoongi’s neck and resting his hands lightly against the bottom of Yoongi’s shirt. He might be tucking his fingers barely underneath the edge to feel the warmth of Yoongi’s skin.

The best part of it all is the feeling of reassurance the alpha gives him—even in just wrapping his arms around Jimin. The way he does it is almost as if he’s posturing; Jimin feels like Yoongi’s taking as much contact as he can. The way the alpha’s palms are spread out across Jimin’s back gives him goosebumps.

When he pulls back, feeling embarrassed, Yoongi’s eyes are on his. Jimin looks down, anxious no matter how close they might be.

Fingers are reaching to lace into Jimin’s hair. “Tell me something about yourself.”

Jimin thinks he might be able to hear some of the underlying questions there—but he also feels like he might be projecting. He has been feeling the need to know more about the alpha for some time himself.

“About what?” He says shyly.

Yoongi’s fingers are carding gently through the ends of his hair. Little sparks occasionally pop against Jimin’s scalp when the strands are moved in a barely-ticklish way. Jimin squirms a little bit and feels a heady rush when he accidentally brushes another set of legs in the process.

“I’ll listen to anything you’d be willing to tell me,” Yoongi says lowly.

Jimin’s hoping Yoongi can’t feel his heartbeat increase where their bodies are pressed together. He shies into the column of the man’s neck again. “Give me a topic, then,” he insists.

Yoongi pauses again. “Tell me about how you’ve been adjusting,” he rumbles.

Jimin takes a moment to think, feeling not quite in the most competent headspace for conversation. The filtering sunlight looks cool-toned against Yoongi’s blankets pooling over their bodies.

“It’s been okay,” Jimin finally says. He wants to get closer; he has to move his hands out from under the alpha’s shirt and up farther to do so. The end result has him trailing his hands up Yoongi’s chest and around his neck, which is embarrassing itself. “I’ve been learning so much that I haven’t really had time to miss anything from home yet.”

“You don’t miss anything at all?” The alpha’s arm is wrapping around his waist now—or maybe his hand is resting on Jimin’s back?

The fizzing feeling starts up again on Jimin’s middle when the fingers start to trail lightly. He’s finding it even more difficult to think of a response other than “no.”

“Some conveniences, I guess,” he murmurs. “Specific food. I’ve had really specific cravings, but not enough to really feel deprived of anything.”

There’s a low sound of acknowledgement. Jimin continues, somewhat nervously, “I do miss knowing all the rules. Or customs, I guess.”

“You’ve been frustrated with the learning curve.” It’s not a question, or a realization; Yoongi just knows how Jimin has been feeling, and surprisingly well. Jimin doesn’t think he could have verbalized it better himself, so he nods.

“It’s been kind of a mess,” Jimin finally jokes.

Yoongi’s body moves in a quiet laugh against his. “I can’t disagree,” he admits. “I’m blaming the competition, though.”

Jimin rolls his eyes. “You seem to like to pretend I’m popular around here,” he points out, “but I’ve heard something very similar about you.”

There’s a sound—almost a scoff? “You don’t have to worry about anyone else.”

Jimin feels himself curling in. Before he can think twice, he blurts: "I don’t?"

He feels too bold to ask—he can feel his body tensing up against Yoongi's before he can control his own reaction.

A pause. "I meant what I said earlier. I’ve never considered anyone else."

Jimin's spine sparks up with a shiver. He thinks that it feels impossibly sweet when the alpha drags him in closer by the waist. Yoongi just smells so good that Jimin has to nuzzle shyly into his neck—his lips are nearly brushing skin when he asks, "Ever?"

“I’ve only considered you." Jimin can feel the muscle underneath Yoongi's skin tensing, where just the tips of his fingers brush underneath his shirt to touch the alpha’s neck.

Jimin isn't bold enough to ask exactly what he's being considered for. Instead, he leans in to press a kiss against Yoongi’s neck. He doesn’t know why it feels so daring—even after prior events—but he can feel the rumbling against his own lips when the alpha growls.

When he pulls back, his lips are still brushing the skin there. All at once, with sleepiness wrapping over him, he decides to rip off the metaphorical band aid. “I want to stay here,” he admits. It sounds a little bit like a nervous croak, but Yoongi thankfully doesn’t seem to notice.

“I’m happy to have you,” Yoongi says immediately. The tone is so low and soft that it almost sounds like a croon.

It’s sweet, but it’s also the most frustrating thing Jimin has ever heard—he squirms. “I want to stay with you.” He inhales the deep scent teasing his nose. It helps to calm him, just barely sufficiently.

There’s a pause. Jimin’s entire body tenses, waiting for the response—or maybe worse, the potential rejection. Yoongi’s hands follow his body as it moves, pressing into his waist when Jimin inhales and his waist dips with the stress of it.  But Jimin doesn’t say anything, waiting incredibly anxiously on the alpha’s response.

Finally, it sounds like the message clicks. “I would love to take care of you.”

Jimin’s entire body relaxes with an exhale. He still feels nervous and shaky, but the relief washes over him in waves.

“You’re anxious again.” The alpha’s voice makes him want to shiver on top of everything else. His hands are shifting lower, too, so much so that Jimin rubs his legs together a bit nervously. “I can smell it.”

Jimin shrugs—Yoongi can’t see how nervous his facial expression is, at least. “You’re intimidating,” he blames. He wants to wince at how childishly quiet his voice sounds.

A questioning sound. “Intimidating?”

Jimin’s stomach feels like it’s crumpling together like a wad of paper. “No, just—,” the alpha’s hand skims over his hip and reaches under the edge of Jimin’s shirt to rest on the top of his thigh. It makes him feel especially bare; he forgets his attempt to modify the statement entirely.

Yoongi’s making that low rumbling sound Jimin likes. “What’s intimidating?”

His fingers grip into Jimin’s thigh once. Jimin squeezes his own eyes shut when the hand passes carefully beneath the shirt, over his hip and up to his waist uninterrupted. He’d be showing bare skin if not for the sheets, but his hand doesn’t stray from the somewhat innocent path. Still, Jimin has a feeling he’ll slick up again if Yoongi doesn’t stop.

He squeezes his hands into fists nervously. “The way you look at me,” he finally manages.

An amused huff by his ear. “How do I look at you? Like you’re beautiful?”

Jimin kicks his feet. “Like you want to eat me,” he whines.

There’s a break in the flow of exchange. He doesn’t know what to expect, but it’s definitely not for Yoongi to throw his head back and bark out a laugh. His entire upper body twists back a bit, pulling Jimin nearly on top of him. Shock rattles through Jimin.

What?” Jimin demands. He hits at Yoongi’s chest but ends up focusing more on the muscle beneath his hand. His face feels red-hot. “It’s true!”

The alpha is clearly too busy snickering, teeth and gums on full display. Jimin’s not sure if he wants to hit the man again or sneak a kiss.

Yoongi’s laugh ends with a humored exhale of air that Jimin wants to roll his eyes at. He looks at Jimin though, eyes crinkling around the edges in a way that shouldn’t be so handsome. The giddy feeling in his stomach shamelessly starts up again.

The alpha is still grinning as he turns them both over. The corners of his lips are twisted up in amusement when he smiles down at Jimin.

“I can’t disagree,” he finally says, entirely satisfied.

And Jimin wants to cover his face and groan—or at least give some kind of reaction—but all he can do is look over Yoongi’s features with a flushed face. He doesn’t know how to ask exactly what he wants, so he turns the alphas words back on him.

“Tell me something,” he says quietly.

Jimin likes being able to see Yoongi’s features shift; his eyes relax and widen in what might be a little bit of surprise. He settles right back down on Jimin’s side—his hand moves forward from Jimin’s waist to rest over his stomach.

Something about the touch feels intimate, along with the way Yoongi looks him in the eyes and parrots, “Give me a topic.”

Eager to have the opportunity, Jimin blurts the first question he can think of. “Do you have any cousins, or extended family?” He gets a negative sound in response. “What made you want to do carpentry?”

“I was adopted by a man who built cabins after my parents passed away.” Before Jimin can even get past his mortification and apologize, Yoongi ducks forward to kiss his forehead. “Like I said, it was a long time ago. Do you miss being at home?”

Jimin wants to press, but something about the tense set to Yoongi’s shoulders even while relaxed in bed tells him not to push. He takes a few moments to process the question, and shrugs. “Not particularly,” he admits. “I’ll see my mom and brother during the peak of winter. The perks of her job.”

Yoongi looks relatively concerned at that. “It will be very cold—more than what you’re used to, I’d think.”

“They want to come for Christmas, I think. They plan to stay for a month,” he explains. For some reason, he feels fine with elaborating on his family. It might just be how tired he’s starting to feel.

“You’re religious?” Yoongi’s fingers are entirely spread over his stomach.

“Not really.” He moves in closer to Yoongi’s body; the hand follows his skin back. “It’s more of a gift-giving thing. It’s commercial, I’d say.”

Yoongi hums. “Should I be cutting down a tree? That’s nearly all I’ve read about the holiday.”

Jimin feels the smile take over his features before he can beat it down. “I think I’ll be okay. It’s not so fun to have the needles all over the floor—,” but he pauses. “Do you ever clear the trees here? Is that where you get the lumber?”

The alpha gives a small smile. “Only for some home framing. Support lumber and any wood I use for furniture comes from Comms shipments. There aren’t enough varieties that grow here.”

That’s surprising to Jimin—between the power tools he has seen in Yoongi’s workroom, and the new information, the alpha certainly seems to have a fair grasp on relations with betas.

“You bargain with Comms for wood at the market?” Even while Jimin is exhausted, the idea seems ridiculous—it sounds incredibly expensive, although Jimin has no idea what Yoongi could pay with in a civilization without money.

“It’s a little different, but yes.” Yoongi pulls his hand out from beneath his shirt to reach and play with Jimin’s hair again. Jimin’s a little embarrassed about how quickly he relaxes.

“It sounds complicated,” Jimin says quietly.

“In some ways, it is.” The hand doesn’t pause, even if Yoongi’s speech does. “It has its benefits in terms of stability.”

Jimin hums. “You’ll work hard,” he murmurs. The sun has set almost entirely; Jimin can’t find it in himself to be embarrassed in the dark of the evening.

“I will,” the alpha says lowly. He sounds so assured that Jimin feels confident too.

His eyelids are drooping, and relief is making its way throughout his entire body. “I’m happy I’m here with you,” he murmurs. “You’ll take care of me.”

Yoongi’s hand barely slows. “I will,” he promises. “You’re my mate.”

Jimin’s too far in sleep to know whether the words are dream or reality.

Chapter Text

Jin sputters from the very second Jimin shuffles into the schoolhouse.

Pups are running around almost disastrously—from seat to seat, and it looks like Hanna has almost fallen with a loose and untied shoe catching on the edge of a flipped-up carpet. Seokjin shouts—a garbled mixture of why are you here and why isn’t Yoongi here , until he catches sight of Jimin’s neck.

Jimin already knows what he sees; he’d already studied himself in Yoongi’s bathroom mirror in shock that morning. It brings a shiver to his spine when he thinks about the proud look the alpha had given him, standing behind Jimin and looking at their reflection in the mirror.

“Suits you,” he’d said lowly. Jimin had packed his thoughts on that away before he could think too deeply on it.

Seokjin raises an eyebrow at Jimin, which has him coming back down to earth a bit.

But Jimin knows that his palm barely manages to cover the dark splotches and bruises that even Yoongi’s turtleneck can’t completely from his neck. There’s a major downside of wearing the alpha’s clothing to work; it’s all so big that even the sweaters with higher necklines can’t cover all of the marks.

Still, it’s not like Jimin had planned to have marks—or wear the alpha’s sweater under his furs. He’d just plucked it out of Yoongi’s closet as if on instinct, pulled in by the scent.

Seokjin’s as still with shock as he can possibly be, even with Hanna pulling onto his pant leg. “Those look.” His lips finally twist together into a thin line. “I don’t even want to know what you’ll look like after your cycle.”

Jimin just shrugs shyly. It’s embarrassing, but it’s not nearly as mortifying as Jimin had felt waking up earlier that morning. Goosebumps travel over Jimin’s neck and forearms again, even under the layers.

“I’m here to help out and talk about a pre-heat request,” Jimin offers. He hushes his tone a little bit; he doesn’t want the pups to overhear.

Jin’s eyebrows pinch together at that, pupils focusing away from Jimin’s palm towards his eyes. Clarity lights up in them.

“I already took care of that; I’ll explain.” Jimin shifts, feeling confused, but Jin continues, looking weary and a little desperate: “Would you mind passing out the paper tabs on my desk, first? I had planned to give a progress exam before putting lessons on break for your leave.”  

So Jimin heads back to Jin’s desk to distribute the piles of loose lined sheets of paper stacked there. The pups file into their seats slowly while he does so, with a mix of chatter and groans. Still, they all pull out their little pencils and get to work sooner rather than later, at which point Jimin and Seokjin file back behind the omega’s desk.

Jin sighs when he falls back into his seat. “How are you feeling?”

Jimin takes a second look at the circles underneath the omega’s eyes and feels like the question is incredibly considerate. “I’m feeling okay,” Jimin offers. “What about you? You seem exhausted.”

Jin rolls his wrists out almost absentmindedly; Jimin listens to the cracks and pops that follow. “It’s not all that related to the pups, so don’t worry. I am excited to have the excuse to take a break, though, especially with the way the weather’s warming up.”

Jimin just nods in response; the winter sun had kept him warm the whole way from Yoongi’s cabin towards the schoolhouse, despite the peak of winter coming just around the corner.

The omega cracks his neck and sits back to open the top drawer of his desk. Jimin watches him look through several sheets of paper inside until he finally pulls out a stack of three or four banded together by a thin beige string.

“I actually went ahead and filed your pre-heat request for you,” Seokjin admits. He unties the knot in the string and passes the warmly-toned papers to Jimin. “I knew you probably wouldn’t be aware of it, and your heat came out of nowhere. You can take a look at the first page; that’s the one you’d normally fill out and submit to me.”

So Jimin scans the page; it’s all basic information. He pushes that to the side and looks at the detailed scrawl of the next one.

“The next two are just transcriptions of the conversation I have with the elder who approves these. It’s normally quick, but I had to explain my advocacy for you. You can see that there’s a signature on the bottom of the last page here,” Jin points at the correct spot, “so you’re approved.”

Jimin looks up. “So that’s it?”

“In terms of taking time off, yes.” The omega is piling and re-tying the papers again. “It’s all for record-keeping purposes; no one actually cares about missing shift for something as important as a heat. There’s something I need to ask you about, though.”

Jin leans forward into Jimin’s personal space. With very intent eye contact, he whispers so that the students in the room won’t overhear: “Have you thought about birth control?”

And that one makes Jimin pause.

Jin leans back. “I figured,” he says seriously. He shifts the form back to Jimin and opens the bottom-most left drawer of his desk, where Jimin knows he keeps larger personal items from yarn to photos. “You’re not used to worrying about the possibility of becoming pregnant, I’m sure.”

The sheer mention of it, ironically, makes Jimin feel nauseous. “I don’t really like to think about it,” Jimin admits.

“And you won’t have to once you take care of contraceptives,” Seokjin says warmly. He pulls out a very pale blue paper tab, almost envelope-like in shape, and gives it to Jimin. “You’ll take this along with your pre-heat papers to the elder’s den. The registration is just to demonstrate proof of your heat; the blue sheet gets you in for an appointment. You’ll be able to meet an elder and set up regular acquisition for your heats.”

Jimin takes in the explanation, nodding appreciatively and flipping the sheet over. His name is already written. “Thank you,” he offers genuinely.

The omega waves a hand dismissively. “It’s my job,” he starts, “but I’m also your friend. I would have gone to pick up the box for you if the elders would allow it. But they’re a major pain in the ass about these things, you’ll see.”

Jimin sighs a shaky breath and flips the sheet back over. “Doesn’t it make you feel weird?”

“Thinking about pregnancy?” Jimin nods, and Seokjin immediately says: “Of course. I don’t want that right now. Maybe not at all.”

That at least makes the production of cold sweat decrease a little. He feels like maybe more of his nausea is out of being young than struggling with dysmorphia. As it stands, he still very much identifies with the infertile idea of man he grew up with.

“I can understand how weird it would be,” Jin says, reaching out for one of Jimin’s hands. The sound of pencil scratching on paper stretches between them for a few seconds. “To have the idea of your body’s capabilities suddenly change one day.”

Jimin nods his head, but it comes out jerky. “It’s not like it feels unnatural,” he admits.

Seokjin shrugs his shoulders. “Even if it did, that would be okay.”

“I know.” He sighs, smiling when the weight lifts a bit. He’s not sure if it’s out of genuine feeling or mood swing, but he knows he wants to change the topic. “Are you sure it’s okay to cancel for this long? I know I can’t really change much, but if there’s anything I can do, I’d of course be happy to help.”

Instead of the understanding thanks Jimin was expecting, he hears a wheeze. “I’m using your heat to take the break I need. We’ll be fine,” Jin chortles. “With the weather warming up in the middle of winter, I’m sure the elders will want to celebrate. We might be throwing a last-minute festival of sorts, minus the theatrics.”

Jimin squints dubiously. He thinks it’s strange to celebrate a little sunshine, but he’s still very foreign to the new culture. “Does this happen a lot?”

“Only when the weather contradicts predictions,” the omega mulls exhaustedly, “but I’ve got enough going on already. If I end up pulling off something tonight, there’s no way I’ll be able to handle the pups tomorrow.”

Jimin shifts a little in his seat. He doesn’t want to pry, but—“What’s ‘going on already’?”

He grimaces immediately; he can’t get more straightforward than that.

But Jin sighs dramatically, smoothing back some stray hairs behind an ear. “It’s Namjoon,” he blurts, outright, in a stressed whisper.

Jimin can feel his own eyes widen. He swallows, but remains silent for the other to continue.

“It’s nothing that hasn’t been going on for a long time already,” he blurts. “It’s just—Taehyung might have told you a bit about this, but you probably don’t understand—it looks a bit strange that Joon and I aren’t living together.”

Seokjin’s look is a little desperate. Jimin can tell that some of the pups will be finishing up their exam soon, but he still asks, “Why?”

“That’s what I’m asking!” He waves his hands in circles dramatically, even if his shout is still in a hushed tone. Jimin is still genuinely wondering why the couple can’t live separately, but he doesn’t bother to be demanding during the middle of a rant. “I just think it’s a little ridiculous, is all. And now I have to hear from Taehyung that the elders have been getting on Joon’s back about it the entire time—I do enough work around here that I could get away with slapping the woman who handles my contraceptive tablets, is all I’m saying.”

Jimin decides that the reason must be some cultural nuance he isn’t too sure about. “Why exactly are the elders bothering Namjoon?”

“Namjoon is like the middle ground between the elders and us,” Jin offers. “But they’re always getting on his back—so he comes in, just maybe fifteen minutes before you did, and has the nerve to ask me to move in with him—just because something weird is apparently going on with Comms nonsense.”

“Like what?” Jimin straightens up.

But the omega huffs. “They’re apparently going back on promises, which isn’t anything new. Joon said he’d heard it from your alpha, anyways.”

The possessive reference makes him feel giddy and anxious all at the same time, but Jimin tries to put it together—if Yoongi had gone off to speak with Namjoon like he’d promised, then Jimin might be the cause for Seokjin’s drama.

“It might be my fault,” Jimin admits. “I got a weird message on my phone, and I asked Yoongi about it.”

“No. It’s not your fault.” The omega shakes his head lightly. “That’s not the problem. Sure, it might be the reason, but the problem is Joon acting like I don’t have plenty of people to care for—”

“I’m done!” Jieun has turned her sheets face-down onto Seokjin’s desk. She smiles, with a couple missing teeth, and turns to walk over towards the bookshelves without a second thought.

The interruption seems to calm Jin down just enough.

“Ultimately,” the omega sighs, “Joon is really letting tension between the elders and Comms control too much of my relationship with him. I don’t mean to involve you—it’s just that no one ever really asks. It’s like people assume I don’t want to talk about it.”

Jimin can understand why, even if he knows how much of a gossip his boss is. “At least you’ll have a long break from classes,” he points out.

Seokjin squares his shoulders. “I’ll need it, if my prediction is right and we end up celebrating the good weather after all. I’m just really hoping it’s not the calm before the storm—winters are hard enough around here.”

“I keep hearing about how bad it’s supposed to be.” He’s a little nervous; he has his own metaphorical storm coming.

“It’s no joke, that’s for sure.” When Seokjin sighs, this time, Jimin can see the faint outline of circles beneath the omega’s eyes. Just like that, though, he snaps back into composure. “But anyways, it’ll all be fine. How are you feeling? If I hadn’t been able to see that it’s a bruise up close, I would have thought that bite mark had broken skin.”

Jimin brushes over the skin of his neck, trying in vain to keep his own blush from overtaking his face. “I’m really doing well,” he insists. “He’s… taking good care of me.”

Jin whistles under his breath. “I’m sure he will,” he mutters. At the same time, a group of two pups are stepping forward to turn in their tests.

Jimin slaps a hand weakly against the surface of desk in front of Seokjin. “You’re sure you’ll be okay without me around?”

Seokjin nods. “It’s really only the stress of being pulled around that made me want to finally tell someone.”

Jimin just nods. He wishes he could ask the omega about the finer points of what to expect—during his heat, and afterward—but more and more pups have turned in their exams and are steadily becoming noisier as more of the classroom reaches completion.

Jin straightens up at that. “If you want, you can hang around until shift’s over so that I can take you to the elders’ den. But I have everything under control here, so you’re free to go on your own as well.”

He weighs his options. On the one hand, going to the den with Seokjin will ease his anxiety—but not as much as the thought of going back earlier to see Yoongi. As soon as the latter comes into mind, his decision is made; Seokjin can tell too, if his nearly silent wheeze of a laugh serves as any indication.

The quick decision process is admittedly a little pathetic, but Jin thankfully saves him some of the embarrassment. “When Joon came in before you did, he mentioned that Roa’s group will be looking after the younger omegas once shift gets out. It might be a good time to meet up with Jieqiong for that interview, if you’re still interested—it should eat up a bit of time without taking too much away from your alpha.”

And the possessive attached to Yoongi’s dynamic again is—it makes Jimin feel shy, to say the least.

“He’s not mine,” Jimin insists, but the words leave a bitter taste in his mouth and a weight in his stomach.

Jin just laughs. “Get out,” he says teasingly. “But help me make the break announcement first.”

So after a quick announcement, Jimin’s on his way out the door—having said a goodbye to the pups, he feels much less guilty for leaving. They’re playing and reading together in small groups by the time he leaves, which is nice—it gives him the opportunity to say goodbye to Seokjin.

“How long do you think you have?” Jin asks when they’re hovering by the door.

Jimin wants to snort at how ominous that sounds. “I haven’t exactly had one of these before,” he reminds.

The omega himself snorts then as he swings open the door. “You smell maybe a day or two away, but that could just be because you smell so much like Yoongi as well. It might be best to stay indoors after today,” he warns. “Once you hit your second fever, it’s all downhill. I doubt anyone would harass you too badly with those marks, and I know Yoongi will be attached to your hip as soon as Joon lets him on leave after this shift, but honestly?”

Jimin steps out onto the front steps, waiting. For a second Jimin can only focus on adjusting his eyes to the brightness and the surprising warmth of the sun—until he notices Namjoon standing at the base of the steps.

“I just don’t think it’s worth it,” Jin finishes from inside the doorway.

Jimin focuses very intently on his eye contact with the omega, and then flicks his eyes slightly in the direction of the alpha standing over his shoulder. Seokjin seems confused for a bit, even manages to ask “What?” until he finally sees Namjoon.

“Joon,” Seokjin says. The breath in voice and the surprise in his expression have Jimin feeling like he might potentially be cutting in on something a little too private.

Namjoon steps audibly up the steps until he’s just even with Jimin—Jimin can tell because he can see the edges of the alpha’s furs in his peripheral vision. “I just wanted to check in again,” the alpha admits. He looks a little bit embarrassed.

Seokjin, in a way that completely surprises Jimin, immediately steps forward to fuss with Namjoon’s furs.

“You’re fine,” Jin says, looking equally as flustered. He pauses. “We’re fine.”

At that point, Jimin decides it’s best to take his leave. Before he can turn, though, the two split apart with distance between them, and Namjoon is turning towards Jimin.

“I actually—I was hoping to catch you too,” Namjoon fumbles.

Jimin presses his lips together in an awkwardly thin line.

“Yoongi mentioned—well, I’m currently looking into your concerns,” he starts again. Every time he talks, he seems a bit uncomfortable. It’s a contrast in comparison to previous conversations—maybe he’s embarrassed?

“Thank you so much,” Jimin offers. He can hear the relief in his own voice.

The alpha nods. “Of course. That’s pretty concerning—well, no, I mean that I can understand how that would feel upsetting. We’ll figure it out.”

Jimin nods in response. Namjoon’s still focused in on him, though, so he knows the conversation can’t be over. His suspicions are concerned when the alpha clears his throat.

“Of course, it’s not appropriate to speculate how you’d be feeling in your condition,” he starts. Jimin’s a little confused at that, and so is Seokjin, if the weirded out look he gives over the alpha’s shoulder is any indication. “I just wanted to offer—if you’re feeling up to it, I mean. Jieqiong—the other beta default I mentioned—mentioned to me that she’d be free today and tomorrow to complete your interview. If you wanted to get it done beforehand, and you’re feeling healthy enough.”

Jin’s squinting at his alpha by that point.

“I’m feeling okay today,” Jimin says slowly. “It might be nice to do something productive.”

“I already mentioned it to him,” Seokjin butts in.

Namjoon looks like he might break into a sweat. “Right,” he says. “Well, I didn’t want to seem inconsiderate, but she mentioned that she’d be in the omegean common space until the elders confirm the gathering later today."

“So we’re sure of the festival,” Jin speaks up. He’s fixing a meaningful look on Namjoon again.

The alpha straights his posture in a way that has Jimin turning towards the stairs. Whatever Namjoon talks about next—something boring related to the what’s and where’s of the night’s upcoming festivities—can’t be the real focus the conversation between the couple. Before he can intrude, Jimin sneaks away as quickly as he can.



The elders’ den is a lot quieter when Jimin slips inside this time around.

Whereas everyone had been preparing for the performances of festival last time, it’s now eerily silent. He slips up the stairs to the third floor, which he knows serves as storage and multipurpose rooms; the last time he’d been inside the den, he’d seen a desk of sorts on the floor that resembled a reception area.

There’s an elderly looking man stringing together what looks like the beads of an earring. “Who are you looking for?”

Jimin gestures with the papers in his hands. “I’m not sure; I’m looking for contraceptives.”

The man hums. By that point Jimin realizes he’s so old that his scent has dissolved; his rank is indistinguishable.

“Head straight back behind me,” he rasps. “Very last door on the left. You’ll have to keep going for a while; you’ll pass another staircase.”

Jimin thanks the man, feeling a little rattled, and wanders around his desk. It’s the first time he has met someone so old to have even their scent glands break down.

He’s so surprised that he nearly forgets the man’s instructions; he wanders down the hall, past the staircase, hoping that he’d remembered “second to last” correctly. When he gets there, he’s a little bit worried as to whether he should choose right or left, but the wall on his right is blissfully blank of any doors to choose. He chooses not to overthink it and head left.

The door is propped open with a large stack of extremely worn books, which seems to be a promising sign. All the same, Jimin raps his knuckles against the door.

“It’s open for a reason,” a raspy voice calls, sounding mildly irritated.

So Jimin winces and heads inside.

The room opens up immediately into a small open space where an empty desk sits. Empty doesn’t entirely suit its description, however; though no one sits behind it, it’s piled over with books and various items even in the chair sitting behind it. There are bookshelves lining the sidewalls of the corridor immediately following the space, but ironically, those seem to be stacked haphazardly with furs and blankets nearly spilling beyond the shelves.

“I’m in the back,” the voice rasps from beyond the hallway. This time around Jimin can at least establish that it seems female.

He steps around the chaos of the desk and follows the path of blankets back until the walls corner apart into a much larger room. He’s too disoriented by all the chaos in the room to even see the woman sitting in it, until she calls for him.

“Sit down,” she orders.

It takes Jimin a few seconds to sort through all of the ornate decorations strewn about the room just to find a seat. Thankfully, it’s actually dust-free, in contrast to the opening room. There are so many furs and beads and fabrics strewn about that ultimately make the room look like chaos, despite a clear level of organization running throughout.

It looks like a fortune-teller’s tent at a circus, he thinks, looking at all the dishes of jewelry.

Jimin shuffles across the room into the ornate-looking armchair, thankfully bare of objects, feeling extremely out of place.

The elder looks at him levelly. She looks significantly older than Jimin had imagined, and significantly meaner. He can see heavy lines around her mouth, and the rest of her skin is deeply folded. Her smile lines, however, are not deep enough to comfort Jimin.

The woman is drinking a dark liquid from a very tall and narrow glass. Jimin can smell the spices from where he sits across from her; it smells like a very bitter and harsh tea of some sort. It almost stinks.

Jimin decides to set his papers on the table between them. In a quick swipe, in the middle of drinking, she reaches all the way across the table for the packet with one hand and flips them open in her lap.

She pulls the glass down from her cracked lips and sets it aside. She purses her lips and turns her face upward to set a narrowed look on him. “Min Yoongi’s intended, hmm?”

Jimin feels his face heating up. Yoongi’s name hadn’t been mentioned anywhere on the form, from what he remembers.

“Yes,” she says for him, just before he opens his mouth to correct her. Her sparse eyelashes are a bright shade of white.

So Jimin just nods. Instead of continuing, she reaches to the small table at the right of the couch she sits on. There several ornate wooden chests and jewelry dishes sit. She pulls the largest of the chests into her lap, right over Jimin’s papers; the chest is actually relatively small, only just covering the surface of her slight legs.

“I’m the eldest omega,” she says, voice croaking. “You’re Park Jimin, and you’re here to request a heat consecration.”

Jimin stiffens. “I’m actually requesting contraceptives,” he corrects nervously.

She stops, looks up at him smugly, and grins coquettishly. She’s missing a few teeth. “It’s a package deal around here.”

Jimin feels the blood drain from his face a little bit. He’s wondering what kind of trap Seokjin had sprung on him. The omega doesn’t seem to be a fan of explanation, even if he did give a warning; Jimin’s a little bit frustrated, even if his boss is going through personal troubles.

The woman is scraping her obscenely long nails against the wooden panels on the sides of the chest. “Do you know why the elders are the ones who distribute birth control?”

“No.” Jimin frowns a little. “To prevent overuse?”

She shrugs. “That’s what we like to say,” she admits, and cackles. “But it’s more so that we can regulate the pairings we think will fail.”

Jimin’s straightening up a little more, but she chuckles—“It’s not about controlling feelings or who’s with whom. Don’t worry; you’ll leave with a box, just like everyone else.”

The relief takes a little while to process. Jimin nods, already feeling exhausted.

The old woman drags her crinkly fingers back along the rim of the chest until they’re both fiddling with the side closest to her stomach. Jimin can hear a little squeak as she flips open the top lid.

“Tell me about your alpha.” She’s moving her hands around inside the box; Jimin can hear all sorts of clicking sounds from whatever she’s manipulating inside. He gets his answer quickly enough; she pulls out several strands of polished wooden beads and drapes them over the top of the chest’s open lid.

Jimin’s mind feels a little blank; he’s not exactly sure how to answer her.

She sighs, not impatiently. “Do you know what these are?”

Jimin shakes his head.

“Makes sense,” she mutters. Jimin feels a little off-put by that, but she ploughs on: “These are, principally, blessings. I’m here to give you a prediction, a blessing, and of course, your contraceptives.” She’s delicately transferring beads onto the table sitting between them; Jimin can see that they’re made from wood, glass, and another opaque solid that seems to favor bright colors.

“The first step is the strand. The colors and shapes of the beads have many meanings and properties, but I won’t bore you with them all.” She looks up. “My job is to give you the beads you’ll need, explain the meaning, and explain why it’s needed.”

It makes Jimin truthfully feel a little defensive. “What is it supposed to help with?”

The old omega narrows her lips into a smirk. “Depends on what you need. I don’t typically like giving lavender to virgins, but you look tense enough to need it.”

Vulnerability strikes up within the base of Jimin’s stomach; anger follows up quickly. “I think I’ll be calm enough during my heat,” he says carefully.

She raises an eyebrow. “Is that supposed to be a euphemism?” She scoffs. “We’ve wasted enough time with explanation. Tell me what’s so great about Min Yoongi.”

Ultimately, Jimin’s a little reluctant. His joints feel locked beneath his clothing. “He’s a capable provider,” he finally offers. “He’s very attentive, and honest.”

“Isn’t every alpha?”

That throws Jimin off guard. He leans back a little bit, feeling flustered. “It’s not the same,” he argues.

The elder quirks an eyebrow. “You like him just because he’s the best hunter? Isn’t that a little shallow?”

“No,” Jimin immediately spits. His temper is starting to get the best of him—he takes a deep breath. “I’m just a little nervous to be talking about it, is all.”

“Why don’t you try saying exactly what you mean?” When the woman leans against the back of the couch, Jimin at least feels like he has some space.

He takes a few long seconds to come up with his first thought. His eyes flicker around the room—to the dark green tapestries on the walls, to the elder’s ridiculously long nails, and to the slippers on the woman’s feet. Her robes look thin, he thinks; she must be bitter from being cold all the time. Or maybe he’s just projecting.

“I was interested from the beginning,” he finally blurts. The arch in the woman’s brow draws even more taught, deepening the lines in her forehead. “There was a strange feeling when he looked at me—a physical one, like goosebumps. I like it. I like what he does for me, and the way he does it. And yeah, I like—,” but he stops, feeling embarrassed.

The woman grunts.

“I like that his home is warm. It’s well-insulated,” Jimin admits sheepishly.

He hears a wheeze of a laugh in response. “Spoiled,” she snorts.

Jimin shrugs. “I like that I feel comfortable,” he summarizes. “But it’s not—we’re not intended. There’s still a lot to think about.”

There’s a long period of silence in which Jimin thinks about all the things he could add, but doesn’t. Just when he’s about to open his mouth again, the woman leans all the way across the table and grips at his hand. The abrupt move startles Jimin.

“Comfort and trust are only the beginning,” she says. She sounds blunt and a little distasteful. Jimin tries to jerk his hand back, almost instinctively, but turns his palm up towards the ceiling and shoves a strand of plain but polished wooden beads into his palm.

“Here’s how I see it: you’re monitoring yourself too much.” She’s gripping Jimin’s hand with enough force that he can see some of the aging even around her white knuckles. “You’ve started to work with your instincts, which is admirable for your position, but you’re really going to have to pull out that side of yourself in order to develop the loving relationship you could have with your alpha.”

Jimin is starting to bristle. The tone is a huge switch from blunt language to something softer. It sounds like—

“Does it sound like I’m being condescending?” She’s looking smugly at him.

He says nothing. He still needs the pill, after all, but he’s also not up for feeling intimidated.

She leans back, freeing Jimin’s hand and taking the plain beads with her. She pulls two deep red strands of beads into one fist each and eyes him straightforwardly. “I’ve lived longer than you, even if I don’t look like it. I think it’s pretty obvious that you’re mostly in it for the chemistry. Your alpha’s probably thinking a little differently.”

“What are you suggesting?” He’s trying not to purse his lips.

“I’m suggesting that you should get to know your man a little bit more. He’s reserved, not silent.” She’s curling her fingers into a sort of wave; the strand of beads clicks and clacks between the digits and in her palm.

That has Jimin’s temper rising a little bit more. “It’s not like I don’t know him,” he says snappishly.

She sharply drops the beads back into the chest in response.

“Trust me when I tell you there’s more than meets the blind eye.” Her voice is so firm that Jimin shrinks back a bit. The tone is flinchingly gentle and feels almost maternal. “It’s not the time to know everything about your partner yet, but you ought to take measures. It happens more quickly than you’d think; your resolution is approaching.”

With that, she fishes through the box again. The strand of beads she holds out to him is disappointingly plain—a strand of extremely small silver beads that appear more like a chain than anything else.

“You don’t need much help,” the elder admits begrudgingly. That one lightens Jimin’s temper a bit. “But be sure to show this one to the carpenter. He’ll give you something nice to decorate it.”

Jimin wants to ask what on earth that means, but instead just takes the offer. With the beads in his hand, the elder reaches back all the way behind the knick knacks on the side table. She retrieves both her glass and a small square covered in black fabric. They’re set in front of Jimin as well.

“Take the pill and wash it down with this. You have to take it here: we have to make sure you’re really using it for yourself.”

So he lets the beads pool between his thighs and reaches out to unwrap the fabric from around the box. He doesn’t know what he was expecting, but it isn’t a standard prescription tab like he’d seen outside the compound all his life. The box has an ‘Rx’ label and even a barcode. The only difference Jimin can see is the distinct lack of a name on the prescription label.

A strange feeling washes through him, subduing his some of his anger at the woman; it’s his first time seeing a typed font outside of his own laptop. Everything else in the compound had of course been labeled by hand, or left plain.

He opens the box carefully, trying not to bend the thin shiny cardstock too much. There’s a singular but large tablet inside, orange in color and sandwiched between plastic and foil like a packet of gum. He pops the tablet through the foil before the omega in front of him can finish reaching for her pocket knife. She raises an eyebrow when as he reaches for the tea in front of him.

He swallows the pill down with the drink, and winces at the burning in his throat.

It’s not tea.

“God,” he coughs, wincing. He pushes the glass back across the table and wraps the empty box back up in the black scarf.

The woman cracks a small smile. “You’ll take that box and give it to Min Yoongi along with your beads. I’ll explain it to you because I have a feeling no one else will—the exchange of these is supposed to initiate an understanding of exclusivity during the time of the heat and for a period afterwards. From what I’ve heard, though, you’re pretty wrapped up in the carpenter. Maybe you won't need to give them over so quickly.”

Jimin feels a little surprised; her personality seems much more welcoming.

“I’m not with anyone else,” he admits. The muscles in the woman’s face relax into an even more content smile.

“Min Yoongi will take good care of you,” she promises. “You take good care of him, too.”

That makes Jimin pause. He nods, though, awkwardly adjusting the box in his hands. He’s still bitter over her previous attitude, but it’s a general feeling that he can at least put away to resurface later.

The old woman sighs. “I’m sure you have plenty to do before your heat hits, so you can leave. Be sure to come see me before your request for a bonding ceremony.”

Jimin blanches.



Jimin ultimately decides to blame the elder’s words for the way he treats Jieqiong.

He’s already emotionally exhausted by the time he heads back to his den and into his room. His first thought is to pull on a scarf and the single knit hat he’d brought with him; he knows the heat has him running on a slight fever, but he’s still shivering from the den’s cold.

His watch says that it’s not anywhere close to the time he’d promised Yoongi he’d be busy until—he has a few hours, in fact—so his first order of business is to charge his phone and laptop while taking a nap. His nap becomes more of a session for lying down and feeling stressed, but he does at least manage to compile a list of questions from his audio recording of Namjoon’s interview. He decides that he’ll ideally manage to transcribe Namjoon’s interview before his cycle hits.

That thought process only manages to trigger more anxiety, though; he does feel incredibly stressed about his upcoming cycle.

The problem, Jimin thinks, is that he and Yoongi aren’t actually together in any tangible sense of the word. It’s not that he wants to run around calling Yoongi his boyfriend, or any other label, but—Jimin has his own personal reservations. As if he likes Yoongi too much, or as if the old woman (whose name Jimin realizes he doesn’t know) had been right.

Maybe Jimin doesn’t know Yoongi that well after all.

The realization puts a sour pit in Jimin’s stomach. He thinks that he knows the alpha’s personality well; he knows Yoongi’s protectiveness, his consideration, and his patience, but he still feels like an outsider compared to the others.

But that’s natural, Jimin rationalizes. The others had grown up with Yoongi, in the same environment and cultural understanding. Jimin has ultimately spent very little time in the compound, and he doesn’t identify it as his forever home yet, even if the deepest part of him can admit that Min Yoongi feels very much like the commitment and home he wants.

Jimin stares at the word document open in front of him. He knows he has a lot to learn—about Yoongi, and about why exactly everyone seems to warn Jimin about him, as if standing on tiptoe—but he can at least take some comfort in the idea that the alpha seems to want Jimin over others.

The alpha isn’t intended to anyone, but Jimin is the closest he has, and that idea is scarily exciting. It makes the heat perk up a bit beneath Jimin’s skin and it brings back that fuzzy feeling, even without the cause himself present.

Jimin’s in deep, he realizes. Maybe that’s the real reason why his interview with Jieqiong goes so poorly.

Really, though, Jieqiong herself could ultimately be blamed; she’s sitting with five other female omegas when he walks into the common space after finally emerging from his den. Jimin understands that no formal agreement had been made to do the interview, but it still puts him in an awkward position to dismiss the rest of them.

He starts with a good attitude, though, because she does at least do him the favor of waving him closer when he walks into the common space. It saves him from trying to figure out which of the girls he’s actually looking for.

“Omega Park,” she greets. The first thing that Jimin notices is that she’s very pretty.

The five other girls in her group are all looking directly at Jimin, though, and it makes him nervous. They seem almost as tense as he himself feels. “Just ‘Jimin’ is fine,” he offers politely.

She seems a little surprised by that, but she smiles warmly, and the other girls in their group seem a little more content with that too.

“I heard about your interview from Namjoon. I’m free for the rest of the day?” She’s wearing a pair of long dangling earrings that look almost as intricate as some of the performance pieces Jimin has seen in Hoseok’s room. Once Jimin can get past that distraction, he can hear her slightly uneven emphasis on consonants; she has an accent. He wonders how the rest of the compound feels about that.

He tries to shake himself out of the daze. “I have plenty of time,” he offers. He looks a little bit awkwardly at her group. “You seem busy—maybe later this evening?”

But she shakes her head. “I’m not busy at all, and I’m sure we’ll all be listening to the elders’ stories after dinner. Where would be best to do it now?”

Two of the other omegas have already started back up with low chatting. As politely quiet as their voices are, it gives Jimin a bit of a headache. He tries to rack his brain for an idea, but he comes up blank.

Just as he’s about to give in and offer his own room, she pipes up, “Eunwoo, are you going up to the room soon?”

A girl with large eyes shakes her head. Jieqiong turns back to Jimin.

“We’re upstairs,” she says, motioning to the main staircase. “We can use my room.”




“So that’s all for consent procedures,” Jimin manages weakly.

She nods. “Sounds good,” she murmurs, focusing on the keyboard.

“So how long have you been in the compound?” He asks. It could be seen as a bit rude—he’s asking when she presented, after all, but he needs to profile her for his research.

“I defaulted right before the Separation, I think,” she murmurs. “Eight or nine years ago?” She smiles and turns Jimin’s laptop back to him. “I bet everything has changed pretty dramatically, huh? I don’t recognize the shape of your phone at all.”

Jimin pauses. “Technology is really the only thing I can think of that has changed really dramatically, but I’d be happy to think about it some more and talk with you and answer any questions.”

But her eyebrows pinch together a bit and the corners of her lips turn down. “No, that’s alright,” she says bluntly.

Jimin pauses, not quite knowing what to say.

“Well, if there’s anything I can ever answer or help with, feel free to let me know,” he offers. Jimin does appreciate her help, and he feels a bit of pity for her; settled in or not, they both came from the same situation.

But she nods, smile still present. “It’s nice to know someone else from outside the compound! And it’s nice to know someone in first rank, too.”

Jimin pulls up a voice memo on his phone. He feels a little uncomfortable with the comment as he doesn’t know too much about his own rank. “I’m actually not too familiar with the ranking system here,” he admits.

Jieqiong blinks at him. “You didn’t petition?”

Jimin sits very still. “No?”

The omega sits back in her chair a little bit. “So it’s just special treatment? I know you’re a part of Lead Omega Kim’s pack.”

Something about the phrase “special treatment” has Jimin bristling, but he knows that it’s just a result of his bad mood. He almost wishes he could have done his interview first and spoken with the elder later.

Instead of denying it, he shrugs. “Maybe,” he admits. “I was pulled out and came to the compound pretty quickly after presenting. Maybe that’s what it’s about.”

Silence in response. To fill the pause with some sort of action, Jimin removes his hat and fixes his hair.

There’s a nagging part of Jimin that wants to overshare to compensate, and maybe restore some of the initial attempt at closeness, but when he looks up Jieqiong doesn’t seem to have any animosity in her expression. Instead, she’s all curiosity.

“You know Alpha Min, right?” The sudden question takes Jimin off guard; he feels like his anxiety is swelling. But then she continues: “You smell like him.”

Jimin just nods politely. Jieqiong smiles, and pulls her cardigan tighter around herself.

“You ordered your furniture from him instead of bringing some, right? I thought of ordering a table for Eunwoo and I, so I thought I’d ask.”

For some reason, Jimin simultaneously experiences more anxiety and relief. He’s glad that the omega thinks Yoongi’s scent could come from his furniture delivery, but there’s another part of him that’s disconcerted by the idea. He wonders how far any rumors of his involvement with the alpha might have spread.

“The order came in quickly,” Jimin offers. “It’s nice.”

She nods. “I’ll have to look into it myself, then.”

He’s not so sure how he feels about that, so he clears his throat.

“I’ll start the voice recording, then,” he says. She gives an affirmation, and he taps the red circle on the screen of his phone. “From here on out, you’re being recorded. Do you acknowledge that I’ve already discussed the purpose of this interview and the potential uses of this recording?”

He feels a little bit more stiff than he had with Namjoon. Jieqiong says yes anyway.

The actual interview itself goes smoothly. Jieqiong seems surprisingly well-spoken; she never fumbles for words, although Jimin himself does sometimes. It’s a little bit difficult in that he has to modify many of the questions he’d given Namjoon; as a beta default, Jieqiong hasn’t seen courting rituals and alpha-omega relations change in nearly the same period a compound-born person would have.

He thinks that her answers are more personally applicable to himself and to potential betas reading a research paper, however. Her account of the separation is terribly muddy and offers no value to Jimin’s potential research, but it’s to be expected; she reveals that she’d made her actual transition into the compound once shifting alphas were already removed.

“Who was in power when you came to the compound?” He finally asks.

She frowns. “No one. Namjoon’s family was selected after I came.”

Jimin takes note of that, and the rest of the interview goes relatively smoothly.

“I appreciate it,” Jimin offers. His phone lags a bit in wrapping up such a long voice memo, but other than that, the shutdown process is relatively easy. He’s happy to have another interview done, even if he still has transcriptions left.

“Of course!” The chipper tone startles Jimin a bit; Jieqiong seems to have transitioned out of her serious attitude quickly. She leans forward. “How are you feeling, though?”

There’s a pause of silence where Jimin tries to figure out exactly what she means.

“You smell like your heat is close?” He can see her nose twitch almost cutely.

Jimin blinks. “Uh, yeah.” He nearly winces at his own stutter. “I’m feeling alright though.”

She leans back against the pillows of her bed. It’s a narrow twin but has pillows stacked immensely, with so many throws at the end that Jimin’s lower back leans against the pile. There’s a small chest at the end of her bed, too—Jimin’s starting to understand what kind of omega is popular in the compound. Jieqiong is one of them, he thinks, if her earrings and the decorations in her room are anything to go by.

“Is it your first one?” She asks quietly.

She looks nervous enough in asking, like she knows it’s not quite her business, so Jimin confirms it with a hum. He doesn’t want to give enough response to open up the conversation, but if she has any advice, well—Jimin could use the help, no matter close or distant he is from the source.

She hums back, but contemplatively. Jimin can see something plain in her expression when he glances up, but he’s focused on transferring the audio to his laptop. He figures he’ll transcribe while listening later, and that’ll leave him with the majority of his interviews done. If he’s lucky, he can manage to interview Yoongi before his heat—although he’s a little nervous to bring that idea up to the alpha. The anxiety makes him wonder whether he should look for someone else to interview. He’s already bending the rules by involving Yoongi in his project at all; the timing might be a bit much.

“I could help you out,” Jieqiong speaks up.

The look he gives in response is definitely a little disgusted.

She laughs though—cackles, really—and hits at one of her pillows. “Not like that,” she snorts. “I’m not like that; that’s not even a thing.”

“I know,” Jimin emphasizes, eyes wide.

“I meant I could introduce you to someone,” she smiles. “I know a lot of nice alphas.”

Jimin leans back a bit. He means to give a look that shows he’s not interested, but it must come off as dubious.

“I’m serious,” she laughs. “We could trade.”

It’s Jimin’s turn to joke. “I don’t really have anything to offer,” he admits.

Her lips form a sort of contemplative frown when she shifts on her bed. She raises an eyebrow and, without making eye contact, suggests, “You could introduce me to Min Yoongi?”

Jimin shuts his laptop.

Chapter Text

By the time Jimin has stomped all the way downstairs and into his own room, he's nauseous with plans to throw himself into his own bed and screech so loudly that someone—preferably Hoseok, in the room almost directly above—will at least be worried enough come down and listen to Jimin's oncoming anger.

Instead, he finds Taehyung on his bed.

"Are you serious?!" And Jimin isn't—he's not even mad at Taehyung reading his textbooks again, really, so he feels guilty when his friend's eyes snap up and widen.

Taehyung removes Jimin's book from his own lap in such a way that he's clearly desperate to be rid of the thing but is also attempting to treat the item gently.

"Hey," Taehyung greets, still wide-eyed.

Jimin exhales. "Sorry. I'm not actually mad at you."

Taehyung's eyebrows lift, with the rest of his expression frozen in place.

"Do you know Jieqiong?" Jimin figures he can kill two birds with one stone; he can talk shit while explaining away his misplaced anger.

Taehyung leans back a little, against Jimin's pillows. "Isn't she in—”

"—Roa's group," Jimin finishes.

Two small, nearly imperceptible nods from Taehyung.

Jimin exhales again, crosses the room, and plops onto the bed. "I just interviewed her," he presses on intently. 

Taehyung is finally relaxing a little, even if he still does seem like he's a little afraid of Jimin.

"And?" He's squinting at Jimin.

"And it was fine," he hisses, "until she asked me to introduce her to Yoongi. "

A low whistle. "What did you say?" There's a calculating sharpness in the way his eyes are narrowed that makes Jimin feel a little taken aback. He hasn't seen the look on his friend before.

"I mean. She framed it like—like some kind of bullshit exchange." He stretches his legs out over the bedding and reaches for Yoongi's furs where they lie at the end of his bed. He pulls the coat over his legs and spreads it out evenly. "She asked me about my heat, which I thought was too personal, but then she offered to introduce me to an alpha? I just said I wouldn't be needing one."

Taehyung snorts. "How did Yoongi even come up in the conversation?"

"She brought him up," Jimin spits. "Something about ordering furniture."

Jimin watches his friend roll his eyes and close the book, but not before taking a quick look at the corner—for the page number, Jimin figures. Taehyung props the book back on Jimin's nightstand and straightens up, rotating his wrists until Jimin can hear a tiny series of pops.

"She's probably trying to get you to back off," he mulls. "You smell like Yoongi."

Jimin rolls onto his side, frustrated. "I think she thought it happened from bumping into him, or from ordering furniture or something," he groans.

But Tae looks dubious. "You don't smell like furniture. Yoongi's bed, maybe, but not furniture."

Jimin huffs, frustrated, and reaches up to jerk down the side of his scarf. He doesn't have to look away from the ceiling to picture Taehyung's expression; he hears it in the choking sound his friend makes.

"It's almost—weird for me." He sounds nauseous. "To think of Yoongi doing anything like that. He's like—ugh, he's not supposed to have a knot."

Jimin's hand hurts when he slaps Taehyung's leg with it.

"It's weird, like." The pillow beneath Taehyung's back looks to squished that it's ready to slip out from one side or the other. "I grew up with him, like a big brother or something."

His hand is still throbbing, but he considers hitting Taehyung again—until the sentence fully registers. "What was he like as a kid?"

Silence.

"I'unno," Taehyung finally remarks. "The same, I guess. Where is Yoongi, anyways, if he's not with you?"

"I told him this morning that I'd be busy until dinner," Jimin groans, dismissing any suspicions about the vague response. "He wanted to skip his last shift before he's allowed to for my heat, so I told him I'd be busy. It feels less like a lie now."

Another snort. "Classic alpha. At least you got your interview thing."

"Yeah," Jimin sighs. He still feels negatively about the interview, but his anger has dissipated a bit. He turns his head farther towards Taehyung, even though it squishes his cheek into the blanket a bit uncomfortably. "Hey, do you know what's happening with the whole festival thing tonight?"

"That's happening?! Since when?"

Jimin shrugs. "That's what I heard."

Taehyung looks a bit disgruntled—and he's smoothing out the creases in Jimin's sheets, which is something Jimin hasn't seen him do before. He's mumbling something that can't quite be discerned in its entirety, but it sounds a lot like something about Jimin being the one who's supposed to need the explanations, which is endearing. Jimin feels a little accomplished until Taehyung's eyes flicker back to the nightstand again, attaching to the little black-covered box and Jimin's beads.

He reaches out with a stretched, thin arm and snatches the box up in his long fingers. Jimin’s strand of plain beads hangs off of his pinky elegantly.

“This,” he says, very seriously. “What are you going to do with this?”

Jimin cuts him a dry look. “Give it to Yoongi,” he says plainly. He knows, while it’s embarrassing, that it’s only appropriate to demonstrate some sort of proof—although he won’t be doing it publicly as Taehyung had during his Offering.

The omega himself raises an eyebrow. “How?” he asks critically.

“By handing it to him?” In private, Jimin’s mind supplies additionally.

Taehyung scoffs. “Not as a first-rank omega, you won’t.”




That’s how Jimin ends up walking to the festival field with the box stuffed into the pocket of Yoongi’s furs and his own beads wrapped around his neck. He’s got kohl pressed into his eyelashes again, and Taehyung is pressed every bit to his side as they walk.

“You should have let me add the balm,” Taehyung sniffles.

“Lipstick is not my thing,” Jimin quips.

A pause. “I never said it was sticky.”

Jimin just sighs. He’d hate to see Taehyung try to survive outside the compound. “Let’s cut through the dining hall,” he suggests. “I’m cold.”

“Wuss,” Taehyung gripes, but pulls them in through the west entrance anyways. “Someone needs a drink.”

Jimin ignores him as they step through the large doors. He knows that the kitchen keeps a fire going until late evening; it serves as a common area for most matured families with unpresented pups. There are one or two couples still lounging at the long tables, with kids running about and dirtying their nicer festival clothing. Jimin notices for the first time that he can differentiate the two types, now; they’re the same in cut, but the materials are very different.

Still, Jimin likes the way the warmth rushes over his skin and into the barely-there gaps where the collar of Yoongi’s furs don’t quite press flush against his neck. He’s not wearing much beneath, either; just a sweater he’d pulled out of Taehyung’s drawer for the extra length in the sleeve.

He groans as they pass through the east entrance and step out onto the stairs that lead down to the field and, by extension, the elders’ den. It looks a little different, coming from the front rather than the south side or from behind the performance stage, but Jimin recognizes the setup, aside from one alteration.

“Where’s the stage?” Jimin asks.

“No one set it up,” Taehyung shrugs. “No one has anything prepared to perform, anyways—unless you or Hoseok have something prepared.”

And Jimin definitely doesn’t. He and Hoseok hadn’t planned to start practicing again until the winter had passed.

“So what’s the setup for?”

“Stories,” Taehyung snickers. “You were too busy soaking up the pheromones last time.”

Instead of feeling embarrassed, Jimin feels his cheeks heating up in an almost giddy way. Not unlike a crush, he’s excited to curl up with Yoongi again. And maybe he can somehow end up curling up in the alpha’s bed later on.

“Kinda hoping for that to happen again,” Jimin admits.

Taehyung just shrugs. “It’s the same for me and Jeongguk.”

And that’s the last they both say until they meander through the benches and find Seokjin seated at one of the first, looking surprisingly content but very much exhausted. He scoots over for the both of them.

“You’re early,” he gripes at Taehyung. Jimin wants to join in, knowing he’s the only reason they haven’t run in at the last possible second, but Seokjin is already pinching at his brother’s ear.

Taehyung whines while Seokjin turns to him. “How did everything go?” he asks.

It’s nice of him, Jimin thinks. He gives out a few details—in vague language, in case of anyone who might be listening in—and asks how the remainder of lessons had gone. With the knowledge that everything related to the pups has been taken care of, Jimin feels like he can relax a little. There’s still plenty of stress circulating—around his interviews, around Jieqiong, and around his heat as a whole—but it’s not so bad.

“You both sound old,” Taehyung eventually complains. He’s curled up against his brother’s side so closely that the brown of his furs mixes with the white of Seokjin’s.

 How the older omega manages to keep his furs bleached so white despite sitting outside, Jimin will never understand. “How’s working in the kitchens going?” he asks.

Taehyung groans. “I want a drink,” he complains.

“You’ll have to part the river,” Seokjin says, nodding towards the crowd. It actually takes Jimin a moment to realize the omega must be using a metaphor.

But the younger omega just sniffs, and grins. “No I won’t,” he croons, and sharply twists around in his bench. The scents hit Jimin’s nose just before he twists his legs over the bench as well.

Jimin knows that Jeongguk is standing behind them, but his nose follows the catch of cedar in the air.

“Yoongi.” The word comes out of his mouth before he realizes it completely—he’ll have to watch his words before he says something too embarrassing.

Yoongi looks so good, though; the thick material of his black thermal stretches out over the line of his shoulders. Seeing the same shirt makes him remember that he’d seen Yoongi in it the same day, just hours ago in the early morning—after sleeping in the man’s bed. Jimin lets himself look over the man’s body, although he can’t quite look at his expression without forcing himself.

When he does, the look in the Yoongi’s eyes is dark enough to have Jimin’s eyes dropping right back down again. Surprisingly, he feels like he ought to be preening when he can’t even make eye contact.

Jimin shivers when the hair on the back of his neck prickles. Wanting to submit is a much more inherently physical experience than he’d expected.

“You made it here before I did.” The alpha quirks an eyebrow, but he says nothing more on the topic as he lowers down in front of Jimin. Even sitting on his heels in a squat, he’s not much shorter than Jimin who sits on the bench.

“I managed to wrap everything up early,” Jimin offers sheepishly.

Yoongi has set a polished wooden thermos down next to Jimin on the bench before he’s even done speaking. He must be trying to free his hands, because he fishes Jimin’s out from where they’re swallowed in the fur sleeves.

“How are you feeling?” Yoongi hasn’t pulled his hands from out of the sleeves, but Jimin can feel where the alpha is tracing over his knuckles.

Jimin wants to melt. He twists his hands enough to lock their fingers together before he can chicken out. His heart is beating so quickly that he can feel the pulse behind his ears.

“I’m okay.” And he is—his stress has decreased significantly. “How was your day?”

From the look he chances at Yoongi’s face, he can see a small smile. “It was alright,” he says lowly; his voice cuts through the loud crackling of the fire Jimin had turned his back to. Yoongi tugs at his hands a little bit, pulling Jimin’s hands forward until his face follows.

He moves forward more quickly than necessary. He doesn’t think he could keep to himself if he wanted to; the buzz Min Yoongi delivers is Jimin’s perfect cure for a long day.

He can feel his cheeks heat up at the proximity. There’s something about the way the alpha looks at him him—it’s dark, and heavy, but warms Jimin’s entire body over and sends him right into a fuzzy state of contentedness.

“I’m glad,” he responds shyly. He continues before he can stop himself: “I missed you today.”

Yoongi’s inhale is sharp but barely detectable; if Jimin weren’t leaning in to press their foreheads together, he probably wouldn’t have noticed. He does, though, and it’s a bubbly, happy sort of embarrassment that has him looking away.

“I missed you too,” the alpha rumbles quietly. His voice sounds surprisingly gentle; Jimin thinks he could be pulled into sleep if not for the subtle heat stirring at the base of his stomach.

There’s comfortable silence between them for a few moments. Jimin can hear the excited conversations of others, especially between Taehyung and Jeongguk, although they sound like murmurs from where he and Yoongi sit. Everyone else seems to be gathered over by the table across from the food.

“Are you warm enough?”

The question makes Jimin smile.

“I am,” he murmurs.

Yoongi juts his chin to the left, where Jimin has to strain to discern a quiet conversation between Jeongguk and Seokjin—he has to strain less to hear Taehyung’s whining. “Do you want something too? I’ll be going over for food regardless.”

It takes Jimin a few moments to piece together what the alpha could be referring to. He has to focus in on the subject of Taehyung’s whining, as well; it sounds like he’s bullying Jeongguk into getting him a drink.

“Oh.” Jimin’s face feels a little hot. He’s not against drinking, and he hasn’t since well before coming to compound, but there’s something about drinking around Yoongi that feels a little bit silly. “I think I’m alright.”

He doesn’t have to look too intently at Yoongi’s face to see the man raise an eyebrow.

“He needs booze,” crows Seokjin. A quick glance reveals that he’s now leaning his back against Namjoon’s front. The lead alpha’s appearance sends a quick shock through Jimin. “He had a shit day.”

Jimin wants to hiss out a jab back at the omega, but just sends a quick dirty look.

But Yoongi’s laughing—it’s kind of quiet, and dark in tone, but he seems plenty amused. He pulls one hand gently from Jimin’s and wraps it around the thermos. He picks it up, throws it into the air, and catches it; Jimin is surprised that nothing from the inside spills out.

“I left some room at the top just in case.” Jimin tries to take quick glances at his dark eyes while he’s talking. “It might be warm for winter, but it’s still colder than the last time. I wouldn’t add too much.”

Jimin still feels a little nervous around the idea of drinking in front of Yoongi, regardless of how much actual consumption would take place.

It must show on his face. The alpha is raising an eyebrow again: “Are you sure? It’s Lead Omega’s order.”

And realistically, Jimin knows he neither needs alcohol nor Yoongi’s polite excuse.

But he sighs anyways. “If the line isn’t too long,” he amends, and watches a little curl appear at the side of Yoongi’s lips until the smile is revealed.

The alpha’s other hand untangles from Jimin’s. Before Jimin can realize it, Yoongi brings his own index and middle fingers to the underside of Jimin’s chin and brushes back and forth twice over the skin there. The movement is surprisingly deliberate.

“Shouldn’t be too long,” he murmurs, and pulls his hand back before straightening up.

Jimin probably looks like a complete mess when he walks away—especially when Yoongi looks over his own shoulder to check on him.

There’s a low whistle by Jimin’s ear—it must be Taehyung, he assumes, so he swats in the general direction of the sound. The following yelp is definitely Taehyung.

“You look like you might be drooling,” his friend teases. Jimin swings his legs back around to face the fire. He notices, in a final glance back, that Jeongguk had left with Yoongi and had been walking next to the alpha the entire time.

Instead of continuing the conversation, Taehyung slides all the way up and wraps his arm around Jimin’s. He ducks his face into Jimin’s shoulder and takes a big inhale. The weight of Taehyung’s face is a little uncomfortable, especially when he mouths complaints directly into Yoongi’s furs.

Jimin's happy to relax with the company, though, to soak up the warmth of the fire and listen to the harsh crackling and popping of the slightly damp wood. He thinks it's nice to feel comfortable even with all the talking and the laughter circulating around him—he can feel the rise and fall of Taehyung's breathing against his, even through the layers of fur, and it's nice. It distracts Jimin from the paranoid feeling that there are eyes on him.

Eventually, Hoseok sneaks up on them from behind.

"These are cute." He drags the pad of his finger over the earrings Taehyung had told Jimin to borrow. He swings one leg over the bench and leans in to nuzzle at Jimin's neck once in greeting. "What's new?"

Jimin's a little surprised by the physical contact from Hoseok, especially immediately after meeting; he’d been under the impression that his relationship with Yoongi might mean more distance in their friendship. That’s apparently not the case—that, or Jimin finally seems committed to Yoongi in a way that’s permanent enough.

It apparently takes him too long to reply, because Taehyung speaks up. "Jimin had an interesting interview today with Jieqiong," he mulls dryly, without moving his face out of Jimin’s shoulder.

Jimin groans quietly in agreement, and Hoseok raises an eyebrow.

"She and a couple of girls from Roa's group are sitting a bit behind us," Hoseok cautions, reaching over Jimin to pinch Taehyung's thigh a little. "What happened? Did she say something about Yoongi again?"

"Again? " The hissing whisper comes out before he can control it. It might be an overreaction, but Jimin justifies it with the stress of the day. Whether he feels overdramatic or not, the outer corner of his eye is ready to twitch.

Hoseok snorts. "There are a few omegas that drop by the shop more than they need to." He leans in, resting his head on Jimin's shoulder. “She’s one of them. Has been for a long time.”

Jimin doesn't have to twist his neck around very far to see Jieqiong and a few of the girls leaning in and chatting excitedly on a bench several rows back. The petty part of Jimin surges up and simultaneously drops bitterly into the base of his stomach. He notices, again, how pretty she is; the light of the bonfire shows how glossy her hair and skin are. She isn’t wearing any furs, unlike the rest of her group. Jimin doesn’t quite understand the cultural implications of that, but something about it feels intentional.

That undeniable fact makes Jimin feel unexpectedly negative in a very mean way. He snaps his head back around, but he can't erase the image of her pretty profile. He wishes he hadn't looked.

"I don't like her," Jimin mutters petulantly.

A snort from Taehyung's side this time. "I know. I don't think you have to worry too much."

Realistically, Jimin knows that's probably true; he's set to spend his heat with Yoongi, and the way the alpha treats him is nothing short of exclusive. But there's a nasty consuming sort of meanness that has Jimin scanning the crowd, straightening up, and waiting for any possible visible sign of the alpha. Taehyung does nothing more than adjust his face out of Jimin's shoulder to scan for Jeongguk with him. He digs his chin into Jimin’s shoulder, and they scan together until both alphas can be seen pulling out of the massive pack gathered around at the food tables.

Yoongi's already looking for him; it feels silly to be put back under so quickly, but the promise of affection and gentle treatment is exactly what Jimin wants. The surface level of Jimin's anger evaporates, although the base of it still burns, feeling anxious and bratty.

"Pretend to continue a conversation with me so that I don't look as eager as you just did seeing Yoongi," Taehyung mutters.

Jimin decides to pick a fight instead by discretely jabbing Taehyung's thigh. His friend is still pouting by the time the two alphas make their way over.

When the alphas are close enough, though, Taehyung seems to shift away just at the exact moment Jimin wants to fidget. He thinks he can hear Jeongguk scolding Taehyung even from the remaining distance—likely for not dressing warmly enough—while Yoongi’s features become clearer. He’s holding a single massive portion in one hand, and what Jimin assumes must be his drink in the other.

Jimin wrings his fingers together while Yoongi approaches. His stomach feels a little sour with anxiety. He wants to say something, wants to move in closer and maybe even nuzzle into the skin peaking out from the alpha’s collar just to show a certain omega that he can, but then Yoongi’s setting both the thermos and bowl down on the bench. Surprisingly, he doesn’t sit down right away.

Jimin looks at him questioningly. He raises an eyebrow, and holds himself back from tilting his head more than necessary.

He gets his answer and more, though—Jimin can feel Yoongi’s hands on his waist, even through the thick coat, and he’s off the bench before he can even let out a squeak. He’s settled over the alpha’s lap in a matter of seconds; Yoongi hadn’t said more than a quick “come here,” under his breath.

Jimin fidgets, although it’s admittedly more for show and less out of wanting to move away. On the contrary, he wants to preen. He might be showing off, just a little for the girls behind him, when he dares to duck his face into the alpha’s neck.

Jimin still prefers and loves the smell of Yoongi even over the pine and the fire. He isn’t bold enough to brush his nose over the skin there, but he’s close enough to hint at it; Yoongi’s arm wraps firmly around his back and grips at his waist. It’s not a warning of any sort, but it makes Jimin jump as if it is.

Maybe it’s his cycle that has him feeling so hypersensitive—or maybe it’s the way Yoongi scans over his lips and the exposed skin of his neck.

“You’re pretty.” He says the words so plainly and out of the blue that Jimin can only sputter. Just as straightforwardly, he brings a bite of what seems to be smoked venison up from the bowl to Jimin’s mouth.

It’s not the first time Jimin has been fed by the man in public, but it’s still embarrassing—not as embarrassing, though, as answering would be. Jimin takes the bite in favor of replying, twisting his hands together uselessly in the pelts settled over his legs.

Eventually, after swallowing, he manages a small “Thank you.” Yoongi only hums.

“So how was everything today?” Jimin decides it’s best to sandwich the conversation between bites. “I heard you went to see Namjoon.”

Surprisingly, Yoongi rolls his eyes. “I didn’t get anything very useful out of him,” he admits. “He’s pretty involved with Omega Seokjin right now.”

Jimin feels a little bad for prying. “Thank you for asking,” he closes, but Yoongi shakes his head and offers Jimin another bite.

“Namjoon promised to get back to me with something substantial,” he says seriously. “It might not be for a few days, but we’ll figure out what happened.”

“You really don’t have to.” Jimin admittedly feels a little guilty.

“I want to.” The tone promises finality.

So Jimin manages a few bites this way, even daring once at the end to lick at the alpha’s fingers despite the surrounding audience, until eventually the clenched jaw and dark expression become too much. He’s taking the time to look over Yoongi’s features from the different angle; he hasn’t seen the man’s face from such an equal level, not even when they’d woken up together in bed the same morning.

His eyeline tapers at the ends, Jimin realizes; it’s almost cat-like. He can see the darker pigmentation dotting Yoongi’s lashline, and the slope where his skin smooths over cheekbone and stretches over jawbone. Lower still, Jimin looks over the long thin column of his neck and the way it curves into strong broad shoulder—but the divot behind Yoongi’s jawline and ear catches Jimin’s attention.

Jimin swallows and taps at Yoongi’s wrist before he can reach back for the bowl. “How did you get this?”

He might be pushing his boundaries, but he reaches with the same hand to tap just beneath the lighter skin revealed in the warm light of the fire. The scar is long and thin, maybe just under an inch.

Jimin’s surprised he hasn’t seen it in scenting the man’s neck, but in thinking back on how overwhelmed Yoongi always makes him feel, he excuses himself with a bit of embarrassment.

Yoongi flexes his jaw a bit, but he turns his head so that Jimin can see the little white mark more clearly. The bowl is set aside, and Jimin’s weak stomach offers its thanks.

“I was around fifteen, I think.” With more light on his neck, Jimin can see that the line thins out at the ends. In explanation, he offers, “It was a pocket knife.”

When he turns his head back, Jimin leans in and reaches to trace the tip of his finger down the small line. “It’s dangerous to have a knife near your neck,” he whines.

The corner of Yoongi’s mouth turns upward, and Jimin can see the amusement extend all the way up to his eyes. “That’s good to know, Park Jimin.”

The resulting shiver starts at the very top of Jimin’s spine and shakes all the way down to where Yoongi’s arm supports his back.

The alpha fixes a concerned look on Jimin. He looks like he wants to say something, definitely about the cold weather, but Jimin shakes his head. Even then, Yoongi still looks reluctant—it’s not only Jimin that keeps him from protesting, but the steady sense of silence passing over them.

That silence, Jimin realizes, is settling over the festival field as a whole. With the bubble surrounding the two of them figuratively popped, Jimin can see that the benches have already filled up entirely. The fire has been built up, and the steady flow of chatter has dulled down into hushed whispers. Jimin can’t quite find the cause—he looks back to Yoongi.

The quiet doesn’t keep Yoongi from protesting entirely after all. He leans in, lips brushing just barely against the skin by Jimin’s ear.

“Let’s go home early.”

A sweet syrupy feeling settles over Jimin’s limbs. He knows what Yoongi means—knows he’s thinking of the crunchy frosted chill over the grass and the way Jimin had shivered, although not at the cold. But the phrasing of it is—a little bit cruel, he thinks.

“I’m not cold,” he whispers back.

All at once he feels a little overwhelmed—with affection, and with the rush of kissing Yoongi’s cheek and feeling how sweetly he stiffens in response. The contrast with the masculine feeling of his body and the hand on Jimin’s waist brings a feeling like warm sand settling over his skin.

So he relaxes back completely against Yoongi’s chest. The pheromones have settled in along with him, curling and invading Jimin’s senses. He’s practically sleepy with the feeling, so wrapped up in all the sensation, that he almost misses the cause of the silence he’d been noticing—even when the cause walks right in front of them.

It’s the old woman, Jimin realizes. The eldest omega. He watches groggily as she ambles up through the aisle in the benches. In front of the bonfire sits a single chair for the storytellers; Jimin can only assume this is where she intends to sit.

Even as distracted as he is, Jimin can hear Seokjin hissing something about eldest omega and telling tales. He sounds very panicked over something that seems very unimportant.

Surprisingly, though, even Yoongi straightens up as soon as the woman steps forward and takes a seat with her back to the fire.

Jimin’s distantly surprised by Yoongi’s reaction, but he also notices how fluid the old omega’s steps are. She must be at least ninety, Jimin thinks, but she ambles over to the bench set just a few feet from the fire with a gait as smooth as water. There’s hushing from the older children in the back benches and everyone gradually quiets down to a complete stillness. Jimin—still feeling groggy—is wondering how she’d managed to navigate the mess of her hallway in the elders’ den, let alone come all the way down to the field outside.

Jimin looks at Yoongi. He glances down at Jimin with an expression seems—almost unguarded. He still doesn’t expect it when Yoongi leans forward to brush his nose against Jimin’s ear.

“Here,” he murmurs.

The thermos is being offered. Jimin takes the drink, belatedly realizing that Yoongi had made sure he ate beforehand. The thought is sweet and a little amusing.

He wants to give thanks, but his ears pick up a sharp snapping sound. The old woman is bringing her hands together, clapping a few sharp tones that pass across the benches in reverberations. Jimin settles for nodding and curling back farther into the warmth of Yoongi’s chest.

The old woman brings her hands down from over the top of her head in an arc that gradually ends at rest in her lap. Jimin can see a fine powder resting over the dark colors of her robes; not only on her clothing, he realizes, but settling in the air around her and into her hair.

“The weather is getting warmer.” Her voice is surprisingly smooth when she projects; the warbling is, ironically, absent when she speaks loudly over the crowd. She smiles warmly.

A quiet hum passes over the crowd.

“We might be blessed with an early spring this year.” She leans back, bringing one wrinkled hand up to throw her long hair over one shoulder. “Along with the warm weather, the crop grows. The unhardy tree of needles flourishes, the sun shines down over the animals.”

“The rabbit thumps his hocks into the earth; the bear’s claws rip the grass from its root. Even the doe leaps forward, and, in a great saltation, transforms from prey into beauty.”

That must be some kind of indicator; hushed chatter breaks from behind Jimin in all directions. Most notably, he can hear the discontented crowing that must only be from alphas. He perks up a bit, curious to maybe catch a glance over Yoongi’s shoulder, but the alpha’s hand comes to rest along the base of Jimin’s neck. He tucks his head back down and settles in again, waiting patiently until the murmuring of the crowd dies down.

It’s Yoongi who speaks next into Jimin’s ear: “It’s a call line. The line about the doe indicates which story she’ll tell.”

Once the field has lapsed into silence, with only a few alphas growling, the elder speaks up again. “You discontent alphas can save your snarling for the solitary ruts to follow. You fools ought to listen before all others.”

Complete silence ensues.

“The ground is warm, and the sky is dotted with stars.” The grass beneath Jimin’s feet is prickly with frost. “Spring may come; it’s time for a love story.”

Jimin takes that as his own personal indicator; he uncaps the thermos with intent. Yoongi’s chest stutters behind him, trying to contain a laugh. That makes Jimin giggle silently in turn as he brings the lip of the thermos up to his lips. The sip he takes is surprisingly spiced and sweet—the closest he can compare the taste to is a rum, although there’s something too distinct about the taste to substitute.

“Let’s listen to the story of Kim Sohyang and her alpha Heejun,” the elder announces.

Jimin takes another sip and tries to focus on the smell of the spice to drown a little bit of the alpha’s scent out. It doesn’t work, of course, but the effort at least allows him focus in on the story.

Yoongi’s free hand thumbs over the seam of his pants, along the outer side of Jimin’s thigh.

“In the time before Separation, Sanction, and the Common Residence, when alphas and omegas roamed free among the forests and held dominion over the betas—”

Jimin feels his own eyebrows raise; he knows that the betas have oppressed the higher and lower dynamic since the development of technology allowed them to do so. They’d been oppressed well before the emergence of Comms, he knows.

“—when the packs intermingled, and the stream was still flowing after winter with the force of a small river, Heejun son of Pack Alpha Sang Heejun found a small girl abandoned by the stream. He found her with six gashes cut into her stomach, as was tradition to mark the omega born of shifting alpha.

“She was brought in by the Sang family who had sewn and seared her cuts until they narrowed like the cores of feathers. For her marks and her stony expressions, she was exposed and preyed upon by the lower ranks of the compound, but Heejun found beauty in her, and looked favorably on her—and so it follows—he came to her and said: ‘Promise me your bare neck until you come of the appropriate age. Or what else will you look for?’

“‘The way to stop my mistreatment,’ she replied smartly. ‘I am too young to promise anything.’”

Jimin laughs under his breath. He’s thankful to at least be feeling relaxed—he’s warm, despite the night’s chill, and still feeling very much distracted by the alpha supporting him.

“Now Heejun was a man of good character and continued to speak favorably of her. As the son of the lead alpha, his opinion was valued, and she was found to have gained sudden beauty. Many alphas chose to pursue her until she came of age. One such was Dohun, son of Sihyun the wicked healer and dealer of curse. Dohun took her rejection into his heart, and with the aims and passions of Sihyun, passed onto her the woman’s transformation. And so Sohyang became the prey not only of his heart but also of nature; she took the form of a doe.”

Jimin nearly chokes on a sip of his drink. He’s mid-swallow when the fantasy element of the story appears, but thankfully he passes everything without coughing.

“Sihyun struck out at Sohyang with her curse: ‘If you will not accept my son, then you ought to be alone! No one will marry the animal they eat; it is an abomination. Dwell in the trees until an alpha so lowly as to marry his own food will seek you.’ And so she lived with the trees until the ground began to harden with cold. The alpha who found her, however, was Heejun.

“He came upon her lying by the stream and said, ‘You are no prey. Take my bare neck and live with me; I will be fair to you and after the period of uncleanliness passes, we may break the bond quietly.’”

There’s a grumbling of discontent from Jimin’s side; he’s pretty sure it’s Taehyung who mumbles against the storytelling. Jimin’s eyes have drifted from the elder to the fire, though; he refocuses and tries to ignore the warmth spreading through his body. He caps his drink and holds it between his legs for the time being; Yoongi’s free hand immediately chases to hold both of Jimin’s.

The elder continues: “Sohyang in full form reared her head and stomped with thin legs into the earth. Heejun feared she had taken anger up against him, but rather than escape, she leapt forward; in a great saltation over the earth and the river and into the arms of Heejun, she became woman again.

“She became his partner. ‘There is no sense in changing the nature of a bond, which is intended to be timeless,’ she offered, and they were mated. They were established and once love had developed slowly as a result of mutual reliance—”

Jimin can feel Yoongi squeeze at his waist.

“—Sohyang gave birth to pups Hyori and Minwoo. And so the descendants follow; shifter Minwoo son of Sohyang bore hunter Jaejoong, and the pack spread across to fill the forests—”

But Jimin’s not listening. He’s trying to get the best possible understanding of what Yoongi could have meant with the touch; it had certainly felt intentional. While the omega prattles on with the short lineage, he tries to adjust his face, which mostly buried in the alpha’s shoulder, as much as possible. He can’t pick up anything unusual from Yoongi—which might be even more meaningful.

Jimin feels like Yoongi’s care for him might have a heavier weight than he’d let himself hope for.

“—and so the compound became.”

He’d spent the entire remainder of the story speculating on a single touch, he realizes.

The old woman stands up. Jimin feels like he’s watching bones and joints teeter precariously with the way she lifts herself slowly. “It’s time for a break, I think,” she calls. “I’m too old to be telling my own story. Someone will take my place in a bit.”

Jimin can already see other elders assembling from the far end of the pit, and understands that there must normally be some kind of system in place.

Yoongi is tracing over Jimin’s fingers in his lap. Jimin can see, when he pulls back, how focused he is in looking at their hands. Just like that, he’s wrapped up in it all again.

“Her name is Sohyang.” Yoongi pulls his hand away briefly to pull closer together the collar of furs around Jimin’s neck; his hand drops back down to find Jimin’s immediately. “She told her own story.”

“She transformed into a doe?” He says it a little dubiously, but he’s more focused on brushing his nose in over the skin of Yoongi’s neck. He’s surprised he hasn’t done so earlier; the heavy scent of amber makes his toes curl in his shoes.

A short huff—equal parts amused and serious. “It’s embellished. She was taken and abused by another pack.”

That catches Jimin’s attention, even if he is a little buzzed. “Packs lived separately?”

“Compounds used to be much larger. Territories were cut down years before the Separation.” Jimin knows, somewhere close, that Taehyung and Seokjin and their alphas are starting up conversation, but he’s too focused in on the subtle slur and drawl of Yoongi’s low voice. “More nomadic lifestyles aren’t possible anymore.”

“Would you like it?”

The alpha raises an eyebrow. “To travel in a pack?”

Jimin nods.

“No.”

Something about the way he says it—so seriously, and almost concerned—makes the fit of giggles Jimin bursts into unavoidable. He’s close to snorting, and smacks at Yoongi’s forearm without even thinking. The alpha just looks a little bit amused at that, exhaling in a small huff and smiling a little.

“I like to settle down.” He’s toying with Jimin’s hands again, turning one over in his much larger hand.

And Jimin knows exactly what he means—he knows on a detailed, textbook-level of science that alphas prefer to carve out a territory and maintain it. He’s not surprised that Yoongi follows the trend. He has a feeling that his alpha adheres to every standard for his dynamic.

So Jimin figures he can admit that he’s a little similar. “I’m the same way,” he admits. He sounds too content, but can’t reign his tone in the way he wants.

A hum in response. Yoongi gathers both of Jimin’s hands up in his single free one. Then: “Even your hands are tiny.”

The first rush of embarrassment hits him hotly; he can’t help but curl his fingers under a little, even if he doesn’t pull them away. He doesn’t know what to say—he’s a little mortified, and his tongue feels like lead in his mouth. He finally blurts the first thing that comes to mind—“I can’t help it,”—and that’s maybe a whine, or maybe a pout. It’s one-hundred percent pathetic.

He ducks his head and shifts a little. Just when he’d thought he couldn’t be any more embarrassed—letting himself relax (or maybe he's tipsy?) might be working against him after all.

There’s another amused huff from Yoongi. He pulls at the line of Jimin’s fist gently until Jimin finally gives in and relaxes. He doesn’t know where to look, but he doesn’t expect for Yoongi to say—

“How are you so…”

Jimin waits for him to continue, but the alpha only cuts off with the single quick shake of his head. He pulls Jimin in closer.

Somehow Jimin thinks he might know what Yoongi might be hinting at—and that of course makes his entire face burn.

“Yoongi,” he whines. It’s a little pathetic how quickly he nuzzles in despite feeling so embarrassed. Is it the heat? The alpha’s scent? Regardless, Jimin’s practically scenting him in public.

Yoongi only hums in response.

And Jimin, who hadn’t really had anything planned to say, squirms a bit—in doing so, the side of his hand brushes the small hard outline of the box in his pocket. The press of it startles him a little bit; he ends up stuttering out the alpha’s name again, and of course, receives the same response.

Yoongi’s looking at him in that way that makes him want to curl in on himself. Jimin settles for anxiously fidgeting with the end of his thermal’s sleeve.

The alpha gently removes Jimin’s hand until it’s back inside his own. “What’s wrong?”

Jimin looks at their hands, lying together right next to the line of the pocket where the box still lies inside, and feels nervousness sweep over him.

“When we get back—” But he huffs, feeling embarrassed. He’s surprised he isn’t letting out a complete whine, or whichever sound is threatening to spill out from the back of his throat.

Just perfectly patient waiting on Yoongi’s end. It’s infuriating. Jimin’s not sure if he wants to kick his feet uselessly or maybe even race back to the dens. As frustrating as that is, he’s still overwhelmed by anxiety.

Maybe it’s the combination of the two that has him finally leaning in: “When we get back home,” he stutters, “I have a surprise for you.”

Before he’s even finished speaking, he shifts Yoongi’s hand until the alpha can feel the outline of the box even through the fur and the lining of the pocket. There’s a heavy inhale.

Yoongi’s eyes shoot so wide it’s nearly comical—Jimin thinks he might have got the hint. The alpha’s hand tightens around his.

“I think it’s time we go home,” he growls.

Jimin doesn’t even have the time to respond—or internalize his surroundings. He manages a shaky what, but Yoongi’s jaw is clenched and his hand is wrapped around the outer edge of Jimin’s thigh—a sure sign of intent to pick him up—

“Jimin!”

There’s a weight on his shoulder. It’s not from Yoongi; Jimin turns his head towards the hand on his shoulder and immediately pulls back a bit.

The hand is delicate—there might be a ring somewhere—and the arm is covered by a thin black knit—

“Hi,” Jimin says. The tone of his voice is thankfully neutral. He thinks he can hear Yoongi groan quietly.

Jieqiong sits on the bench beside them. She’s smiling as if she’s excited to see Jimin, flicking her hair behind one ear and looking especially sweet. She’s still not wearing any furs, Jimin notices, but she is wearing a pair of vibrant dangling red earrings. They look expensively delicate, even out of what Jimin has seen on the compound.

“I’m glad I found you.” She puts her hand palm down against the space she’d left between Jimin and herself. It’s purposeful—like she’s patting the space for him to sit next to her, but not repeatedly for him to outwardly deny.

Jimin blinks. He’s having to twist his head around in order to see her, and it’s unpleasant, but like hell he’ll move off of Yoongi’s lap.

She leans forward on the extended arm. She glances to Jimin’s right and then focuses back in—at Yoongi, he realizes. That’s when his surprise dies down and shifts. It’s a rapid, nearly immediate change. His pettiness snaps up in full force—

“Why are you here?” Jimin sounds only slightly more snappish than intended.

To her credit, she doesn’t show much in response. But the meaner part of Jimin is satisfied with what little surprise that coats her features. Jieqiong’s eyes are still glassy and pretty when they’re wide, though, which only makes Jimin want to dig into her more.

Instead of responding, though, she dares to turn to Yoongi. “Sorry about him,” she first says, sheepishly.

Jimin’s jaw nearly drops. He can see Hoseok in his peripheral—he’s leaning so far forward in order to see around Taehyung and Jeongguk that he looks like he might fall of the bench. Jimin still distantly notices the way the omega’s eyebrows raise—he thinks he hears a sharp inhale out of Yoongi, as well.

She leans back in towards Jimin, then. She’s play-whispering, as if they’re close: “You promised you’d introduce me!” The words are offending in how deliberately she says them. “In return for the interview, remember?”

And his response is—it comes out of his mouth automatically, without filter. He doesn’t really comprehend the words until after the words escape:

“You can come find me in the den and I’ll show you the electronic signature you gave on the terms and conditions,” Jimin spits, “when I’m not with my alpha.”

He doesn’t think to what Yoongi’s reaction might have possibly been, or anyone else’s—his skin feels itchy and raw and he doesn’t want to scratch his own skin but maybe he could claw Jieqiong’s eyes out. The back of his neck feels like it’s burning and his stomach is rolling with a stressed and angry nausea; if he weren’t right in front of the cause, he’d think his fever might be spiking again.

In reality, he knows it’s the alcohol giving him a weak stomach and liquid mood swings. Exhausted of twisting around to see her, he stands, turns, and sits right back down in Yoongi’s lap again so that he can sneer straight-on.

Apparently, though, that isn’t enough—she turns her head back to Yoongi again, which is starting to make Jimin’s skin crawl over his bones. The forced expression on her face is pitying.

“You’ve got a handful, huh? I offered to introduce him to someone—”

The attempt to pawn Jimin off like an object is already infuriating, but then there’s the pale hand—with infuriatingly delicate shape—reaching out to touch the alpha’s shoulder. That’s what makes the tops of his legs feel strained and makes his lips curl back over his teeth—

“Fuck off.” He snatches up her wrist.

But it’s not what he says, not really—the end of the words are almost garbled, drawn into a sharp sound that takes all of Jimin’s throat and produces what is definitely a nasty hiss.

Jimin digs his nails into the skin of her thin wrist and watches her eyes go wide. There are no potential thoughts of making a scene or acting inappropriately—not even when her muscles go slack and her posture slumps a little bit. He scans her eyes past the fake submission and waits, even when his nausea peaks and he can’t even hear the popping of the fire.

It’s once her expression turns sour that Jimin finally feels his throat give in and collapse to cut off the sound. His peripheral vision is coming back into clarity and so are the sounds of surrounding murmurs. He narrows his eyes even further at her anyways until she speaks. Like he’d somehow expected, she isn’t pleasant.

“I honestly don’t understand what gave you the status of anything more than a mouse,” she hisses.

Jimin bristles. He can feel his entire body tensing up, even from the hip all the way up along his spine. Taehyung, from behind, is holding an empty bowl suspiciously high—

“Jieqiong.” Yoongi’s hand is coming to massage at the skin where Jimin’s neck meets his shoulder. “I didn’t know that you’d moved up from sixth to first rank.”

Instead of responding immediately, she rips her arm out of Jimin’s grip. He doesn’t let go immediately, not even when his mind logically concludes that he should; she’s left with ugly red welts that mar the smooth color of her skin.

Even with pettiness and embarrassment and a mix of negative emotions swirling up, the swollen red skin looks sickeningly satisfying.

And it really all comes in bits and pieces after that—he can see the embarrassment on the omega’s face, and the petty anger that comes out when she complains about Jimin and his audacity and about things he can’t hear through the ringing in his ears.

“We already knew each other. You come by the shop often enough.” Yoongi’s voice is surprisingly level by his ear, although Jimin can’t digest the words too well.

The back of Jimin’s neck is damp with a cold anxious sweat. He curls his hands into fists and uncurls them; the dampness of his palms feels uncomfortable, and the flipping of his stomach doesn’t help. He wishes he’d been able to eat more before drinking.

“Yoongi,” he murmurs. He turns his face back and into the alpha’s shoulder.

Jieqiong looks uncomfortable, and Jimin can hear the pitch of her voice when she starts to say something, but then Yoongi takes a deep breath. Jimin knows because he can feel it against his back, and he can feel the way Yoongi stops rigidly. Whatever he’d intended to say to her, he stops and wraps an arm around Jimin’s waist.

“We’re going,” he growls.

Jimin nods eagerly. He’s ready to go home as soon as possible; he doesn’t trust his nausea either.

“I’m not feeling too well,” he admits.

“I know.” Yoongi’s jaw is so clenched that Jimin can see the muscle shifting when he swallows.

They end up standing up from the bench before Jieqiong does.

 

Only once they pass the treeline does Yoongi finally slow down a bit.

Jimin tucks his head into the alpha’s neck and kicks his feet just barely into the air. His stomach is churning and his forehead still feels damp, but he feels better having pulled away from the fire and into Yoongi’s arms. Surprisingly, being carried isn’t agitating his stomach too much; Jimin wonders if he might have been allergic to something in the food rather than having had too much to drink.

The important part is that he’s still feeling good enough to be purring into Yoongi’s shoulder.

“How’s your stomach?” Yoongi is stepping up to the porch line.

Jimin nuzzles into his shoulder. His stomach flips once again. “How did you know?”

“I can smell it on you,” he offers.

That distantly throws Jimin off—he has definitely read about siblings or mates smelling sickness on their partners after years of being together, but Yoongi smelling a stomach ache seems a little funny. Still, he doesn’t see any point in questioning the matter. If anyone can do it, it’s Yoongi.

“I’m feeling a little better now,” Jimin admits in a murmur. The cramps somehow feel less intense, but less painful.

Yoongi hums approvingly as he draws out the iron key and unlocks his cabin. Jimin manages to drop out of Yoongi’s arms before the threshold, making the entire process easier—although it does make his lower body clench in a way that’s more reminiscent of the campfire. He’s wondering if he’ll have to throw up at some point, and that idea sounds horribly mortifying.

Cramps or no, Jimin until the alpha locks the door behind them to stretch up on his toes and wrap his arms around Yoongi’s neck.

The alpha’s arms are there immediately. He pulls Jimin in tightly without a second thought and ducks his face down into Jimin’s neck. When he nuzzles into the skin there, Jimin can only think about the proximity of Yoongi’s lips to his scent gland and the spread-out touch of his fingers on Jimin’s back. Combined, it’s enough for Jimin to relax completely into his arms.

Yoongi nips at Jimin’s neck before he pulls away.

“I’ll hang up your coat—” He’s looking directly into Jimin’s eyes, “—I can give you a change of clothing. We’ll need to sleep early before your stomach gets any worse.”

Ironically, those words are what makes Jimin’s stomach drop. He doesn’t know what he wants, but it isn’t to take off the furs yet.

“Yoongi,” he murmurs.

A raised eyebrow. One of Yoongi’s hands snakes up along Jimin’s arm until he’s holding one of the hands resting on his own chest. Jimin thinks the man must have the patience of a saint to hear Jimin say his name every time he can’t express what he really wants.

“It’s cold.” The warmth inside of Yoongi’s house had hit him from the entryway, but he’s exaggerating with a purpose.

There’s a pause in the alpha’s expression—confusion passes over his features, a sort of neutral blankness—until something in the muscles of his face changes and Jimin knows his act has been seen through.

“Should we get to bed, then?”

Jimin nods shyly, but then there’s the thought: “Yoongi?”

“Hmm?”

“Close your eyes.”

All he gets for his effort is a suspicious look.

Jimin’s tempted to hit him, but refrains. “Close them!” But even a wave in front of Yoongi’s face doesn’t do any good.

“Are you feeling alright?” The tone of his voice makes Jimin want to laugh.

“I’m fine,” he says. It’s not quite the truth—he thinks Yoongi might be supporting the majority of Jimin’s weight, and his stomach is cramping up terribly—but his mind, for the moment, feels less muddled with irritation and stress. “Close them.”

Finally, he does.

Jimin has to snake his hand down carefully and pull open the flap of the pocket slowly in order to maintain the quiet. He has a feeling that Yoongi can still hear the hushed whisper of the fur brushing his skin, but he does his best to draw the box out as silently as possible regardless.

“Give me your hand,” Jimin whispers.

There’s a low growl starting up in the base of Yoongi’s throat—Jimin can hear the sound and can see the muscles and veins in his neck shift—but he eventually unwraps an arm from around Jimin’s face and holds his hand out, palm face-up.

Jimin swallows.

It’s quick work from then on: he darts out of Yoongi’s grip in the same instant the box touches his palm. The box that had held his birth control has a distinct texture to it, one he can see Yoongi’s long fingers grip at. He even watches the alpha’s eyes snap open—he gets quick glance of nearly black irises, before Jimin pulls backwards through the arm around his waist. He spins on his heel, and scrambles in the direction of the bedroom.

It’s no surprise that he doesn’t make it very far.

Jimin clears the corner to the hallway and just barely lands his footing when the alpha’s hands catch at his waist. He distantly realizes that he feels accomplished for making it so far, if not for the growl ripping into the air behind him, and the caged-in feeling around his middle. Instead, he blanks a little—and maybe shrieks—when he’s drawn back.

Before he knows it, he’s not supporting his own weight—and the world is turning—and he’s faced not with the bedroom door but with Yoongi’s back. The movement surprisingly doesn’t upset his stomach, but it does make his skin burn a little bit hotter.

“Yoongi!” But it’s not very threatening—between his own giggling and Yoongi’s shoulder cutting into his stomach, his air supply is a little limited.

“You can’t run from me.” Jimin feels, shockingly, Yoongi’s hand come up to slap his ass.

His jaw drops—the squeal in the back of his throat airs before he can swallow it.

He admittedly acts too late—they’re already swaying with Yoongi’s steps by the time Jimin can recover from the heady buzz—but he forces himself to do the same in pure bluff. Yoongi only snorts.

When Jimin lifts his head up, he can see the little black box abandoned on the alpha’s hardwood floor. It swings in his vision until Yoongi eventually shuts the door behind them.




“I’m fine,” Jimin whines. “I think it was just the drink.”

Yoongi’s hand pauses just briefly in bringing the blankets up and over Jimin. He doesn’t make eye contact as he does so—or when he gives anything directly at all, Jimin has noticed—but he does smooth his hand across Jimin’s stomach through the blanket.

“There wasn’t much of anything in it.” He’s moving his hand back and forth Jimin’s stomach in a way that feels a little bit pinning.

It’s difficult to swallow the purr in his throat; he does, however, arch his back a little bit. “I don’t have exactly have the best tolerance,” he admits. His throat is still feeling thick with the sound.

Yoongi leans forward and moves his hand from Jimin’s stomach up to his cheek. He traces the skin there back to Jimin’s ears. Surprisingly, his hand feels cool.

“I think you smell too good for it to be the drink,” he says. The growl in his tone is deep and soft.

Jimin turns his face until he can feel Yoongi’s hand covering his cheek and even brushing against his lips. He has a difficult time checking in with his body while the alpha is effectively giving him a dopamine rush; the thrumming feeling starts from the nape of his neck and over his scalp, and extends throughout his body.

But he does notice, though, when he focuses, that his stomach isn’t so much as aching but cramping. He’s playing around with the idea of new allergies, or coming down with the flu—until he looks at his own hand, where he’s still gripping Yoongi’s furs with white knuckles, even lying with them in bed after having changed and crawled into Yoongi’s bed.

Suddenly the sweat on the back of his neck and the neediness and jealousy all start to make a little more sense. He nuzzles into Yoongi’s hand.

“It doesn’t hurt too badly,” he offers. And it’s a true admission—but for some reason, the brattiest part of him still wants to whine for attention.

Yoongi’s hand strokes down his face and towards his neck and—it feels good, Jimin thinks, when he brushes over the scent gland there. He can’t control the little moan that comes out of his own mouth, even when the alpha’s expression sharpens into something darker.

When Yoongi pulls his fingers back, Jimin can see the oily sheen on them.

The alpha’s shoulders are squared and his jaw looks almost locked as he looks down at his own hand. “I’ll have to go to the kitchen.” The restraint and stiffness in his tone is thick enough that Jimin doesn’t question him. But Yoongi still has the patience to look back at Jimin and ask if he needs anything.

Affection swells up in Jimin’s chest, right alongside neediness. “I’m alright,” he offers. He wants Yoongi’s attention, and not anything from the kitchen.

Something in the alpha’s expression tells Jimin that he might have been caught. “I won't take long.”

And then he leaves and Jimin is alone in the bed.

The first thing he does is untuck the blankets around himself to a bearable point; as much as he loves being doted on, his skin feels itchy beneath its surface. Jimin has a feeling that it has to do with the fever—he had stolen another oversized shirt for Jimin to sleep in, after all.

Then he finds that he’s not too happy with the way the bedding is arranged, no matter how he plays with it, so eventually he settles for curling up with Yoongi’s furs. Jimin admittedly feels a little weirded out when the scent automatically calms the distress, but he’ll take the comfort over nothing.

Still, he stares up at the ceiling for what must easily be less than a minute before the discontent starts up again. He feels it manifest physically in the back of his throat, but he isn’t about to let himself whine like a puppy locked in its crate for the evening.

So he busies himself with counting the cramps in his stomach and assessing the temperature of his body—which is slightly pathetic but at least keeps him from venturing into the kitchen.

Jimin is still staring up at the ceiling when Yoongi comes back into the room.

The alpha stands in the doorway for a long pause until Jimin squirms. He’s looking over Jimin like he’s content, or maybe proud, and that just makes Jimin want to bury himself into the blankets and disappear.

But he just leans against the frame. “Aren’t you looking pretty?” It ends, in tone, like a statement.

Jimin’s face flushes hotly.

And he can’t respond to that—can’t do anything but curl into himself and scold “Yoongi ” as he waits for the man to join him in bed. Instead, Yoongi stands there for a long moment, watching Jimin take up the center of his bed, before he finally crosses the room. Even then, instead of joining Jimin in bed, he sits down in the old chair in the room. Yoongi has a mug in his hand, Jimin realizes, and he sets the base of it down against his upper thigh.

“You’re not coming to bed yet?” Jimin might feel embarrassed, but he still wants the affection Yoongi could give him.

But Yoongi kicks his foot up to rest on the surface of his knee. The corners of his mouth twitch up a little.

“You should get some sleep.”

Jimin turns onto his side. He takes up more space than necessary when he moves, inching closer to the other side of the bed. “You’re not going to?”

Yoongi just takes a sip of his drink, and winces in a familiar way—it’s a stabilizer, Jimin realizes.

“Yoongi,” he whines. The blankets are too wrapped up around him; he kicks them down as much as he can before the alpha raises an eyebrow.

The man hums in acknowledgement.

Jimin reaches his arm all the way across the bed. “Don’t drink that.”

Contrary to what Jimin wants, though, Yoongi looks over him and takes a long gulp. Jimin hates the way it must burn his throat, but even knowing that he does watch the way his neck and shoulders tense appreciatively. Jimin’s stomach drops low.

“I’ll be finished soon.” The alpha tilts his neck; Jimin has the brief thought of kissing over the area of the recently-discovered scar.

Jimin kicks uselessly his feet under the blankets. “You won’t scent me?”

A sharp exhale. His features are arranged carefully, but Jimin takes the warning. “Maybe when I’m finished.”

So Jimin lies still for a while and watches the moonlight wax over the curve of Yoongi’s mug each time he brings it up to his mouth. His own stomach clenches in all sorts of nasty ways, but it feels strangely as opposed to hurting; he’s not too disconcerted by the sensations.

“Why are you drinking it?” Jimin finally whispers the words shyly.

Another slow sip. “Why do you think?”

Jimin shrugs. He grips the sheets in his fists, first nervously, and then presses them into the mattress until the crinkles in them look messy, but in a particularly satisfying way. He looks back up at Yoongi, feeling shy. “Do I smell good to you?”

Yoongi just looks at him. The eye contact feels heavy even with the distance. “You always do.”

The sheets only feel comfortable if they’re positioned in just the right way beneath Jimin; He ends up shifting again. “What do I smell like?”

If possible, there’s an addition to the immediate tensing of Yoongi’s body. There’s a long pause where he looks at Jimin; not just into his eyes, but over his features and clearly down the line of Jimin’s body even underneath the blankets. If he weren’t so feverish, he’d shiver under the covers.

“Like something familiar,” Yoongi finally answers.

Jimin’s curiosity must be obvious, because Yoongi smiles indulgently. He wants to ask what exactly that might be, and if it’s even a quarter as good as what Yoongi had smelled like after his rut.

But the man himself just takes another drink. “Get some sleep, Jimin.”

So his eyelids close automatically. It’s not the need for rest but the tingling feeling like warm sand that settles over his skin, just at Yoongi’s words. He rubs his face into the alpha’s pillow, hoping that the move won’t be too obvious—even while he knows it is.

He knows he isn’t going to fall asleep; he couldn’t even if he wanted to, and aside from that, he’s clutching Yoongi’s furs like a lifeline. The scent is still distracting no matter how long Jimin mixes his own scent into the pelts. How he could be expected to fall asleep with a churning stomach and Yoongi sitting so far away is beyond Jimin.

So he flips over restlessly, and then turns onto his stomach. Even with his face largely buried in Yoongi’s sheets and pillows and furs, he can see glimpses of the alpha’s dark look on him. It makes him feel very small.

Jimin’s not sure if he feels cared for or intimidated when he nuzzles his face into the blankets. He does so in a few wide and deliberate arcs until he knows his scent will stay on the man’s bed. Still, he does everything quietly; he knows it’s a bit much to be marking Yoongi’s bed so early on, feverish or not.

Still, he also knows that he’s caught by the way Yoongi shifts in the old chair. Jimin takes a quick and shy peek at his face; the corners of his lips are tucked upward with amusement. He must be fine with it, Jimin figures, if the stabilizer is still burning away at his esophagus and he can still manage the expression.

He might rub his neck against Yoongi’s pillow just because of that.

It might be his favorite thing of Yoongi’s, even over the furs he’d given Jimin; just the scent on the fabric of it makes Jimin feel like he’s buried into the alpha’s neck. It’s not just the concentration of pheromones, but also the scent of his skin and soap all wrapped together—so Jimin does what he wants to do and steals it.

Yoongi is definitely laughing quietly at him when he pulls the pillow to his chest. Jimin firmly decides that his best option is to not look anywhere even moderately in his direction.

“Don’t laugh,” he whines.

Yoongi’s still laughing under his breath as he denies it: “I’m not.”

Jimin just huffs and hooks his chin over top of the pillow.

He’s feeling impatient—he wants to ask how much of the damn drink Yoongi still has left to drink—but the logical part of him recognizes that the acidic content of the thing is causing his alpha legitimate pain. Jimin, who has read about alphas taking hours to consume them, decides it’s better to wait.

Yoongi just watches over him. It makes Jimin’s stomach clench and his legs shift together.

“’M not sleepy,” Jimin eventually whispers into the dark of the room.

The low light of the room still shows Jimin how the alpha’s fingers around the handle of the mug and the arm of the chair flex. His knuckles lose a little of their pigmentation.

“I’ll be finished soon.”

“You could be finished now,” Jimin offers.

Jimin hears him suck in a harsh breath through gritted teeth. Just when Yoongi uncrosses his leg and Jimin thinks he might have won, the alpha plants his foot against the hardwood floor.

He doesn’t say anything.

It’s the first time he hasn’t immediately been given what he wants and that’s—it has his eyes tearing up just a little bit with all the hormones, but it also has his hips rocking up a bit. He’s not entirely sure of what he wants, only has a faint idea of the end goal, but he wants to make sure that Yoongi gives it to him.

He thinks he might be able to get more of Yoongi’s attention, if he’s good enough. So he shifts the pillow farther down and rests his head against the mattress until his neck is shown.

Unfortunately, he just gets amusement, even the man’s eyes do narrow. “Trying to play?”

“Just getting comfortable,” Jimin plays shyly.

Yoongi cocks his chin. “So it really is just natural, then.”

Jimin decides that the best thing to do is to cover his burning red face. When he rolls onto his back, the cover he ends up using is not a blanket, but the sleeve of Yoongi’s furs, which doesn’t help the pit in his stomach or the tension in his legs. And with Yoongi’s pillow essentially pressed against his lower body, he knows he’s scenting it for the man to smell later—

“Are we playing this game again?”

Jimin feels his own eyelashes flutter at the growl, but all he can do is whimper. Worse still, he can feel the tacky and sticky wetness of slick between his legs.

A second passes in such an incredibly tense silence where Jimin knows he’s being studied. Jimin doesn’t dare peek, feeling ashamed. He looks down at the pillow, at the seam of its casing, at the way it presses flush against his hips and even forces the edge of the long shirt to ride up a bit on his thigh. When Jimin shifts his hips, the hemline rides up substantially.

When Jimin finally does get the courage to take a quick peek at Yoongi’s hands, he sees stark white knuckles even in the dim lighting of the room. It’s not a bad sign, he thinks distantly, as he reaches to tug the material up a little more.

Eventually, though, Jimin knows Yoongi has had enough when a growl rips into the air between them; Jimin freezes, but he knows he has the man’s attention with an entirely bare hip visible.

Don’t.” But Jimin thinks that if he could maybe just reach, farther down, between his legs—

“Jimin,” he snarls.

Jimin whines and ruts up against his own hand. He can see Yoongi in his peripheral, even over the curve of the furs that Jimin has his fist wrapped up in.

But he doesn’t want to comply, as bratty as it feels—he spreads his legs just enough to feel the pull of stickiness between his legs and inches his hand a little lower back down. There’s no real physical feeling that makes him want it, but—there could be something, he knows. He can’t have Yoongi’s knot, but he can feel the wet and the emptiness and the overwhelming want to turn himself over and present until he finally has what he wants.

But mortification has set in hotly over his face and body. He knows his hands and the tops of his thighs are shaking when he reaches past the edge of his shirt and between his legs—

Jimin,” he snarls.

Jimin’s hand stops cold, only moving to jerk his hand away in shame. He can’t help but whine, though, and the strain on his throat only increases when the alpha finally stands up from his chair.

He feels that dizzying sort of headspace even when Yoongi comes to pull Jimin down the bed by the crooks behind his knees. Jimin watches, feeling completely out of it, as the alpha’s hand spreads over his stomach. The touch isn’t rough, but Jimin feels pinned between the alpha himself and his furs beneath.

Yoongi’s borrowed shirt feels essentially useless, pulled and bunched up around his stomach and leaving everything to be seen.

He whimpers and squirms until Yoongi reaches a hand between Jimin’s back and the mattress to pull him up and into the alpha’s lap. He feels a bit like a ragdoll, movements a little sloppy even when he smooths his hands over Yoongi’s chest through the material of his thermal. The sheets might have been itchy on his skin, but the material on Yoongi isn’t.

“It’s okay,” Jimin babbles. He shifts in Yoongi’s lap and tries not to pay too much attention to the obscene curve his hard cock creates through the nightshirt. “S’okay.”

The alpha’s hands smooth down Jimin’s body to his backside in such a satisfying way that it makes Jimin’s back arch. He pushes back a bit into Yoongi’s hands, until he feels the pressure he wants.

“So pretty.” Jimin feels something sweet stir up; one of Yoongi’s hands moves over the curve of his ass and presses a finger over his rim, through the sticky material. “So wet for me.”

Jimin moans noisily and rests his forehead against Yoongi’s shoulder.

Yoongi gives him a bit of what he wants then, teasing his rim while Jimin pushes back for more pressure. The entire lower back of the shirt is stuck to his ass and thighs, but it doesn’t keep him from panting and pressing a wet nip to the scent gland in front of him—which is exactly Yoongi snaps with a growl.

He’s pulling Jimin’s shirt up, and over his head—exposing his thighs, cock, and upwards as he does so—and he’s growling something vulgar as he does so. Jimin can’t quite catch the dialogue. He feels needy enough to be caught between a purr and a moan.

But when his head clears the material he doesn’t exactly get what he wants. He’s being moved, again, lying back despite squirming until something soft feels like it’s crumpling softly under the weight of his upper back and neck. Jimin belatedly fists into the material. It’s fur.

Yoongi is smoothing his hands almost reverently under the arch of Jimin’s back. He doesn’t seem to have much response when Jimin arches more, or tilts his head; he just growls and runs his hands over Jimin’s stomach until his dull nails dig in and tickle Jimin’s skin.

When Jimin whines, he leans down to press a hot and open-mouthed kiss to Jimin’s stomach. When he comes back up, his hands slip down to grip and Jimin’s hips and thighs. Through the tears welling up Jimin can see the dim light, Yoongi, and the pelts in the corners of his vision—he’s ready to whine and crawl back into the alpha’s lap, until—

“I’m going to lick you.” His hands grip at the undersides of Jimin’s legs when he pushes Jimin’s thighs apart.

Jimin groans weakly.

“Been thinking about this for a long time,” Yoongi growls.

Jimin can feel the muscles in his legs spasming when Yoongi’s tongue laps over his hole.

He’s not sure if the sensitivity overwhelms him first, or maybe the hot arousal or even the shame. He knows that one of his own hands have reached down to pull at Yoongi’s hair, knows that he’s trying to squirm away—knows that Yoongi’s hands are pulling him down by his thighs so roughly that he can’t think about moving from Yoongi’s face, even if he wanted to—

He’s ashamed that he squeals. The alpha is pressing his tongue in almost aggressively against him, only stopping to turn and quickly dig his teeth roughly into the skin of Jimin’s thigh again.

Jimin knows he’s whining; he can hear the nearly shrill pitch of it, even if it does sound distant. All he can really hear, really process, is the alpha growling against his asshole and the hot wet sounds against Jimin’s skin. The feeling is almost verging into overstimulation; when Yoongi laps at his hole, Jimin’s hips flinch a fraction away only to jerk back down against that tongue.

There’s a distant part of him that entertains propping himself up onto his elbows, and trying to protest; instead the alpha’s hands force Jimin’s thighs farther apart until the skin of them brushes barely against the sheets. He can feel the force in them, can see the veins and knuckles of Yoongi’s hands when he can keep his head from thrashing back and forth too much—

He’s babbling something. There’s a lot of Yoongi’s name, he thinks, and maybe even a curse when he can feel—it’s the alpha’s tongue, pressuring at his rim. And Jimin’s hips are still twitching upwards and back down again, until the cool wet of the slick-soaked sheets has him flinching back up again.

And really, it’s all Jimin can do to squirm. His fingers twist in Yoongi’s hair, in his own with frustration, and in the sheets when he’s not sure if he wants escape or to press down like an animal. Even the muscles in his stomach feel strained and shaky—just like his throat, Jimin realizes, and the whimpers that come out of it.

He’s in the middle of a long, mortifying whine when Yoongi snarls and pulls back. Not even the dim light nor the blurred edges of Jimin’s teary vision can deny the slick-covered sheen of his mouth. When the alpha’s tongue licks at his bottom lip, Jimin shivers full-bodied.

He’s so distracted by the feeling of Yoongi’s hands sliding over his thighs, hips, and up to grip his waist, that he doesn’t realize what’s happening—not until the world turns and Jimin’s face is pressed into the sheets.

“Ngh,” he whines. The pelts pressed against the side of his face are already wet. Jimin squirms; he feels like a wet mess collapsed in Yoongi’s sheets and furs.

There’s a dull pain on Jimin’s hip when Yoongi pats at it twice—he knows it’s Yoongi’s hand, can see it coming down in his peripheral vision. There’s not enough force to really sting, but enough to deliver the message; Jimin jolts at how close the hand is to his ass.

“Up,” the alpha growls.

The muscles of his legs are too weak to comply; it’s Yoongi who ends up lifting his hips until Jimin can feel his knees nearly lifting to brush against the sheets. Jimin scrambles a bit, digging his fingers into the sheets and whining, but melts into the sheets when Yoongi taps against the inside of his thigh.

“You’re so good for me.” He smooths one hand almost lovingly over Jimin’s hip, snarls, and promptly sucks at Jimin’s rim.

All Jimin can focus on, through the arousal and the tightness and the pleasure, is to keep from drooling too much into Yoongi’s furs.

“Yoongi,” he hiccups.

But he’s gone by that point—with the sight and smell of Yoongi’s furs in his face and the alpha’s hands on him, and with everything wrapped together, Jimin ruts back and moans. The worst part of it all, the most mortifying, might be the way his asshole clenches every time Yoongi’s tongue presses against him in a way that might even suggest moving inside.

There’s a warmth that makes his brain feel like it might have turned to mush—Jimin can finally place the sensation of emptiness.

He doesn’t have too much room to play—the alpha’s grip tightens up the second Jimin pulls too far away—but he has enough that the arousal rings tightly in his cock and makes his whole body grit. Still it’s not enough when the slick creates so much slip against Yoongi’s tongue. No matter how much he ruts back, he still feels empty but overwhelmed with the pleasure.

There’s a digging feeling in the skin of Jimin’s hips—maybe the alpha’s nails, although it feels much too sharp—and a strain from having his hips lifted. Jimin can only let out little pathetic sounds.

Ngh.” The moan itself sounds nearly as pathetic as the whine that follows. “Yoongi—”

But the alpha is snarling against his rim. When Jimin tries to move against the back and forth of his tongue again, he can feel Yoongi gripping into one of his asscheeks. Spread out and held in place like that, Jimin babbles.

“So wet,” he growls. Jimin feels hot tears welling up when he pulls away. “Adjusting for me already.”

The backs of Jimin’s thighs are cold and damp but it does nothing for the rush of heat. “I want—” he’s babbling, even with a curse thrown in distantly—but all the alpha gives him is the pads of his fingers, pressed against his rim. Jimin’s eyes squeeze shut against the pelts.

He writhes back against the alpha’s fingers, but the way Yoongi traces the two back and forth over his hole doesn’t give Jimin what he needs; they slip over his rim, but never push against it enough. Jimin doesn’t even get anything immediately after the alpha pulls his finger away, either, but he does get Yoongi’s fingers by his mouth.

Through the blur coating his vision, Jimin recognizes the the motion. It looks like something he’d see at dinner—he wraps his lips around the digits and sucks before he can think twice.

“Want—wanna—” It’s all muffled, and dissolves around Yoongi’s fingers into pathetic whining.

Just when the taste is starting to register and his tongue feels oily, the alpha pulls his fingers out by the knuckle with a lewd popping sound. Jimin coughs and sputters.

But he feels both of Yoongi’s hands on his hips again, feels the pressure, feels the sheets sliding under Jimin’s skin until he’s pulled back against the alpha’s face. Jimin’s arms strain to keep the fistfuls of fur in his hands, but his entire body tightens up. The saturated wet sounds of Yoongi’s tongue lapping at him have Jimin’s entire body hot with shame.

It’s the vulgar combination of slurping and snarling that leave his thighs shaking.

“’Wanna come,” Jimin finally sobs. His cock feels heavy and dirty where it drips between his legs.

That’s when Jimin gets the pressure he wants—inside, he realizes, Yoongi’s tongue inside—and that’s when his stomach seizes up and his fists curl harshly against the pelts. The wet and the slick and the thought of opening himself up for Yoongi’s knot all make his entire body curl and spasm; that’s how he comes, over the sheets, with the alpha lapping at his asshole like a dog.

He takes several minutes to recover.

The first thing he notices, collapsed in the sheets, is the over sensitive feeling of Yoongi still licking over him languidly. It makes Jimin whine until Yoongi’s grip finally relaxes. While Jimin is still shaking, he can feel two kisses over his lower back—right about where the dips in his back are, Jimin thinks.

The alpha pulls back, Jimin can feel, and then guides him with both hands at Jimin’s waist until he turns onto his back.

Jimin can’t look directly at Yoongi, and only sees dark from the quick peek he does dare to take—all he can see is the oily sheen of Jimin’s slick coating his mouth and even down his neck. He watches, with his head tilted to expose his own neck, while Yoongi drags his thumb across jaw and the side of lower lip. Jimin shivers in the sheets; he feels mortified to guess the man might lick it off—but instead, Yoongi smears it straight into the skin over his own scent gland.

All Jimin can do is whimper.

When Yoongi leans over Jimin, planting his palm into the mattress by Jimin’s face, Jimin can see the full extent to the black of Yoongi’s eyes. His pupils are blown so wide that when he scans over Jimin’s face he looks—Jimin feels a little scared for even thinking it—almost wild.

Jimin waits for Yoongi to say something, managing the occasional brief moment of eye contact. His body still feels hot and his face is burning with being so bare, but the alpha just pores over the features of Jimin’s face, scrutinizing. Jimin can see the cording in his neck and the tension in his jaw—somehow, he still seems like he’s restraining himself.

Instead of saying anything, Yoongi finally dips down to nuzzle at Jimin’s neck.

It’s even more sweet, Jimin thinks, when Yoongi gently pries Jimin’s fingers from the furs just to hold his hand. Jimin, if possible, melts into the sheets even more.

When he’s covered in the alpha’s scent, Yoongi pulls away with soft kisses and even a nip to his neck. Jimin can see a little more of the warm brown around his pupil.

“Let’s get you into the bath.” He’s tracing his thumb over the back of Jimin’s hand.

Jimin just nods. The room is silent aside from the barely audible hush of his own breathing, more labored than usual.

Yoongi wraps both of Jimin’s arms around his neck before picking him up and heading off towards the bathroom.

The air between them feels quiet and soft while Yoongi draws the bath. Jimin’s purring even before he sinks into the tub, watching the water rise up around the tops of his arms. Yoongi had smoothed away the matted hair from Jimin’s face, kissed the sweat-tacky skin of his forehead and cheek, and set about washing his own face and mouth in the sink before returning to wash Jimin’s hair.

Jimin had just sat in the tub, watching his alpha, feeling every bit the picture of a mess.

But with the coating of Jimin’s shame gone his alpha’s face, it’s finally easier to ignore the mush of his brain and occasionally look at the man’s face. What Jimin finds there is contentment, and even satisfaction as Yoongi scrubs and rinses out the bonfire scent and sweat from his hair.

Jimin appreciates the clean natural scents and the hot water. Most of all, he appreciates the lack of cramping in his stomach.

“Feeling better?”

Jimin hums an approval, feeling something close to bliss when warm water pours over the back of his neck.

The pads of Yoongi’s fingers slip with just the right pressure over Jimin’s scalp to send a tingling feeling over his neck and shoulders. With clean hair accomplished, Yoongi sets to wiping over Jimin’s face with a soft cloth—one that will hopefully erase the tear tracks on Jimin’s cheeks.

Yoongi only speaks again after Jimin opens his eyes to the water in front of him.

“You called me yours earlier.” He moves the material gently down the line of Jimin’s neck. “Against Jieqiong.”

No matter how relaxed Jimin might be, his face is still bound to burn. He wishes for a lack of response otherwise, but his foot jerks and causes a splash in the water before he can keep himself in check.

He stares resolutely at his own legs in the water. He can hear Yoongi’s amused huff.

“You were jealous of her.” It’s a statement, but Jimin knows from the smug disbelief in Yoongi’s tone that he’s being asked to explain.

Jimin slides further down into the water, until Yoongi reaches in past the surface to grab one of his arms to soap down.

His first instinct—to deny—is unrealistic. Instead, he deflects: “She had been rude during our interview.”

The peek of Yoongi’s expression that Jimin catches shows a little bit of smugness. “You hissed at her.”

“Hoseok told me that she had been interested in you!”

The expression doesn’t falter.

Jimin wilts. “She’s pretty,” he whines.

Yoongi has the nerve to laugh under his breath at that. Jimin tries, in vain, to recover any of his lost composure.

But the alpha sobers up fairly quickly, sparing Jimin. “I’m sorry I ended up interfering,” he offers. He reaches for Jimin’s other arm. “I could smell your fever.”

Jimin shakes his head. “You probably saved me from embarrassing myself more,” he admits.

But Yoongi frowns. “Your response was appropriate. Seokjin will end up dealing with her too.” He’s moving down Jimin’s body. “I’m lucky to hear you say that.”

“Say what?” But Jimin knows that even his ears are red.

“That I’m your alpha.” He stops, and he scans over Jimin’s face.

Jimin looks down again.

He wants to offer something in turn—to tell Yoongi that it goes both ways, and that the possession is mutual so long as the alpha wants him—but even the thought of mentally drafting the sentence is too much. The back of his neck burns almost as hotly as it had in bed.

Instead, he blurts: “I don’t want you to see anyone else.”

A beat of silence. “You’re the one who wears my furs.”

Jimin can’t help but glance to check Yoongi’s face—something about the gravity of his tone tells Jimin that his words hold more weight. There’s a potential, Jimin thinks, that he might have been caught in the meaning of his own words.

“I do,” Jimin admits.

In the steam of the bathroom with the pheromones tickling his nose, the event of the bath itself passes fairly quickly. Jimin spends most of it caught between surface-level and deep thought, with his mind scrambled, until Yoongi eventually finishes and offers to give Jimin a few minutes of soaking time while he changes the sheets. But Jimin still can’t focus, not even after he’s gone.

He wonders if it’s the fever or if it’s really just Yoongi. The correct answer is anxiously exciting.

When Yoongi steps back into the bathroom, he’s finally changed into comfortable clothing. He also carries in another shirt for Jimin to change into—which makes Jimin feel shy at having dirtied the first so quickly.

Eventually, though, they make their way to bed.

Jimin’s finally content to curl up in the alpha’s arms. Nervousness admittedly peaks when Yoongi draws him against his chest, but he presses in anyways and tries not to drown himself too much in the scent.

It’s a useless attempt; Jimin’s purring from the second his hands brush over the broadness of Yoongi’s chest. He’s shameless when he tangles their legs together, but Yoongi doesn’t seem to mind.

He does unwrap one arm from around Jimin’s waist—but only to pull the soft pelts of his furs up and over Jimin’s shoulder. It’s exactly what Jimin needs to burrow down and get comfortable; he’s surrounded by Yoongi’s scent on all sides.

“Comfortable?”

Jimin nods into the man’s chest. “The bath helped, I think.”

“You’re still burning up,” Yoongi admits. One of the alpha’s hands raises the hemline of Jimin’s shirt until he can brush over his stomach, “so we’ll have to be careful.”

“Is that not good?” Jimin feels perfectly fine, aside from the occasional cramp.

Yoongi flattens his hand over Jimin’s stomach. “It’s natural,” he soothes. He pauses, stroking over Jimin’s stomach. “You’re going to do so well.”

And buried in blankets, furs, and Yoongi’s arms, Jimin thinks so too.

He’d later wish he’d known what he’d really signed up for.

Chapter Text

Jimin's second nightmare starts out exactly the way the first one had.

The forest is still greyed over in a way that makes Jimin's stomach clench up in his gut—it’s a distinctly physical sensation, despite being immersed in a subconscious experience. The doe is running through the weeds and the overgrowth, hooves mashing into the dirt. A rabbit skirts out of the way into the bushes, which Jimin hadn’t noticed in the first dream but appears to be a perfectly natural event.

The doe's breath is labored from carrying her own weight and the weight of her swollen stomach. Just feeling her run gives Jimin anxiety. He has the distinct desire to get away from the sensation, but is too deep in sleep to recognize the pull as the urge to wake up.

He watches and groans, somehow, as she approaches the tangles of green that had caught her before. The difference—he registers it long after it happens—is that she stops. Her chest is heaving and her short stiff fur shimmers a bit even in the dull light of whatever time of day it might be. She scuffs a foot backward and exhales; in shifting a vine back with her foot, she turns her head off toward the side—

—Her foot doesn't follow. Confusion colors Jimin's thoughts.

The vision moves quickly. Jimin processes everything much later than the rate at which he sees it: the vine wrapping around her leg, squeezing, snaking its way up in tangles. He doesn't see the head of the snake itself until its mouth is wide open with the muscles of its cheeks flexed and its fangs exposed. Its entire upper body is tensed and only then does Jimin process the screeching sounds the doe is making—later comes her wide eyes, the white of her large pupil exposed by a sliver. The strike, ironically, is the only slow and steady part of the scene.

Right when the snake’s body tightens in a coil around the doe’s leg—the snake is the vine, Jimin finally realizes—and its hiss silences before the oncoming bite, Jimin watches a row of jagged teeth bear down in a disturbingly graphic and piercing clamp around its throat. The snake's body falls limp around the doe's leg before the wolf's growl is heard in his mind.

The vision stops. The image is of a wolf bearing down and completely crushing through the snake's body. Its blood appears more black than anything in the dull grey tinge of the dream, but it seeps out from between the massive teeth of the wolf and drips wetly onto the damp earth.

"Jimin," the wolf says.

A few seconds of frustrating noncompliance pass before Jimin’s eyes shoot open. The sheets and the furs feel sticky and wrong against his body for once. Fever flashes hot over Jimin’s body, promising to grow in time.

"Fuck," Jimin breathes. His eyes dart over Yoongi's bare chest.

It all comes in piece by piece: the scent, which gives him a heady sense of calm that's simultaneously dizzying and worrying in its potency, and the feeling of Yoongi, and Yoongi's sheets, and the surprisingly loud hum of noise in the room. It sounds like an old noisy aircon, or a dishwasher, or a bothersome whistle of some sort of appliance Jimin would identify as foreign to the cabin.

One of the alpha's hands is cool on his cheek. The outline of Yoongi's features in the barely-there light of what can only be stars and the moon is gorgeous to Jimin. Even the tips of Yoongi’s eyelashes are dyed white with it.

"I had a nightmare," Jimin whispers abruptly. He feels as if he blurted it out into the room.

Jimin feels halfway between the awareness of waking up with anxiety and the sleepiness of being woken in the middle of his sleep cycle. Drowsiness tinges his anxiety. He doesn't feel so embarrassed to turn his face farther into Yoongi's hands.

The alpha's thumb is tracing beneath Jimin's eye. The sheets pull beneath Jimin's body and there's a pressure on the small of his back before he's pressed against Yoongi's chest. He’s pulling the furs over Jimin’s shoulders, too, until the soft bristly texture clouds the edges of his vision like eyelashes. Comfort seeps in.

Yoongi says nothing. Jimin has a few moments to ignore the howling noise of the room and find silence in Yoongi's hands on his skin, in the arms wrapped around his waist, and on the broad shoulder Jimin can rest his head on. He realizes just how much larger the man really is. Feeling surrounded and safe and maybe even loved, Jimin curls up and enjoys the feeling of being small and of being something to protect.

“You always take care of me,” Jimin whispers.

Yoongi’s fingers press into the dips of Jimin’s back. “I do,” he confirms.

When a low rumbling croon starts up, Jimin says nothing. He can't help but smile against the alpha's shirt until drowsiness creeps into and over awareness.




He's buried in blankets and quilts when he wakes up the second time.

The room is now entirely silent, and there's enough daylight filtering through the sheets over his eyes that it must at least be dawn. Jimin spends a long time breathing in the scent of the blankets and furs around him. It smells distantly of the fresh air Jimin would occasionally get on family trips; the pure stuff that clears his sinuses and even stings his senses into a bit of awareness.

He finally sticks a hand straight up into the mass of blankets above him and pulls downward. The smallest of peeks at the ceiling tell Jimin that it's surprisingly not very bright in the room.

He notices all of this after realizing that Yoongi isn't there.

It makes him sit up in bed much faster than he'd usually consider. He's sleepy, he realizes, and he’s uncomfortable. He looks at the empty expanse of bed beside him and feels deeply discontent in his core. The smell of the room isn't right and neither is the feeling in his gut. It smells diluted, and too much like the outdoors (Yoongi smells like the promise of indoors and comfort), and Jimin’s fever is striking up vibrantly. The bedroom is still grey and dark as if it's already overcast outside.

He’s also suffocated. There’s a persistent digging feeling in the column of his neck; Jimin goes to scratch at the skin of it and jerks his hand back at the feeling of simultaneously smooth and bumpy texture. Something falls against his chest—Jimin jerks his head down to see that the beads have been pressed into his neck during sleep. His stomach jolts as he pulls them over his head mindlessly.

The morning is not a good one, he decides. Yoongi’s nightstand with Jimin’s bag resting beside it is too far for his arms to reach in abandoning the beads, and all of Jimin’s muscles protest with the stretch. Separating any part of his body from the bundle of blankets feels foreign and unnatural. The only comforting thing Jimin feels is that he at least knows exactly what he wants.

Jimin sneaks one foot out from the edge of the quilt and tests the temperature. The cold doesn't shock his skin until he makes contact with the floor. He's reminded of his fever by the jolt it sends up his body. Nausea protests weakly, but his eyelids still feel heavy and puffy with the desire to sleep.

Incrementally, he slides towards the edge of the mattress. When he finally straightens up, the blanket sticks to his—Yoongi’s—nightshirt with static. As tempting as that sign to crawl back into bed is, Jimin is more concerned with the discontentment in his stomach.

Jimin is not happy. There's nothing that can help him work against the tension in his body and his throat—quiet whining, he realizes. The bedroom door opens silently, even though the bronze joints between the door frame and the door itself are a bit greyed over with age.

The hallway is short but shuffling down it feels clammy-cold with sickness and takes a lot of effort. Jimin wishes he'd brought the blanket, or even better the furs, but he can hear a gentle crackling in the living room and a cozy yellow light that promises a fireplace in use. It’s appealing, no matter how feverish he feels.

But he can only see a peek of it—there's a series of quick rhythmic raps that are becoming progressively louder as they draw close. Jimin's mind fills in the vague image of Yoongi's leather boots hitting the ground from somewhere in the direction of the kitchen. The man himself follows just a second later, and he's holding what looks like a folded black tarp in his hands. Jimin squints at it, but looks back up at the alpha as he approaches.

"You’re upset." Yoongi's eyes are narrowed into the cutting slant that Jimin has come to identify with a fierce seriousness. He might have heard Jimin’s whining.

Jimin's bare toes curl against the hardwood floor. He pinches his lips together and swallows down any lingering whimpers. When the alpha comes up right into Jimin's personal space, the whining wants to start up again out of an entirely different source.

He takes a step forward right into Yoongi's space. It's enough to get what he really wants; the tarp hits the floor, and Yoongi pulls him in with both hands smoothing up Jimin's back. That's enough for Jimin—he hides his face in Yoongi's chest and curls in until the effort feels like a bit of a stretch.

The man is wearing a coat, Jimin realizes, and it's not a fur one. It's extremely thick, buttons down evenly, and it's made of something corded and surprisingly smooth like corduroy. Jimin notices all of this only because of how well it holds Yoongi's scent.

He nuzzles into the alpha's chest: it simultaneously serves as a denial to anwer Yoongi and agitates the scent towards his nose.

The hemline of his nightshirt pulls up, just high enough to make Jimin feel embarrassed, when Yoongi's hands glide upward over his spine.

"You were calling," he provokes. He must be referring to the whining. Jimin thinks that more importantly, there needs to be some kind of a warning for the man's voice in the morning.

But it isn’t a question. Jimin always shivers at that low voice, although knowing Yoongi can feel the movement is what makes him feel shy. He turns his cheek against the coat and looks up.

"You weren't in bed," he says quietly. The words feel silly and the fabric of the coat feels ridged when Jimin traces down one of the textile’s lines.

Two hands are on either side of Jimin's neck. He's tilting Jimin's head back—and moving away himself, which draws out a sharp whine, until Yoongi bends over—and running one hand up through Jimin's hair to expose the column of his neck.

Jimin's eyes flutter shut when Yoongi presses a hot kiss there.

He stretches up on his toes until he can reach up comfortably enough to wrap his arms around Yoongi's neck. As if part of an automatic response, the alpha reaches down to Jimin's waist to pull him upward. Jimin doesn't fight the urge to wrap his legs around Yoongi's middle.

The way the shirt’s hemline slackens back on Jimin’s thighs is itself dangerous, but even more threatening are the tips of Yoongi's fingers brushing under the material. Jimin knows for a fact that his hands don't need to be so far up, but he can't do anything but blush when they grip at his bare ass and thighs.

"Just some morning chores," Yoongi excuses in a drawl. "No reason to wake you up."

Jimin curls his toes and flexes—squeezes Yoongi's waist in between his thighs, too, to which he can see the man's eyes widen—

"I woke up alone," he admits shyly.

"You did," Yoongi murmurs, and squeezes when he looks up from Jimin's neck. "Should I come back to bed?"

As if the innuendo weren't enough, the upward curl at the edge of Yoongi's mouth is too much. Even when Jimin smacks at his chest, though, his attention is still entirely focused on the air between them.

Yoongi shakes his head, smiling. The curve of his lips and his teeth are too much for Jimin in the morning.

“We have time,” Yoongi says lowly. The tone has enough weight to suggest assurance, and more embarrassingly, a promise—of what exactly, Jimin won’t let himself think about. He's caught between avoiding eye contact and trying to force the flush out of his face.

“I guess so,” Jimin finally gives. It sounds more like pouting than anything.

Yoongi seems content and maybe even smug with the response. “I’d love to take you to bed—" His thumb is brushing over the skin of Jimin's thigh, which distracts Jimin so much that he can barely comprehend the second part of the man’s sentence—“but we both woke up to a surprise."

Jimin pulls back an inch or so from being pressed against the man's stomach. "A what?" Jimin doesn't even know what to say, suggestive wake-up call aside. He has had plenty of surprises, he thinks, at varying degrees of sanity.

Yoongi only gives a small smile. "I'll show you."





"You'll want to stand with me," Yoongi says seriously. "I don't want you getting too cold."

Jimin is admittedly a little concerned. He trusts the alpha—more than he should, realistically—and he feels bad for feeling so dubious, but Jimin highly doubts that anything beyond the door will surprise him that much, considering his experience in the outside world. Still, he waits until Yoongi has brought the tarp out of the hall and set it into the entryway before he comes up behind the man.

"You're sure you don't want a coat?"

Jimin nods. There are a few hanging by the door as always, but he figures that a few seconds of winter chill will wake him up rather than do any damage. On the positive side, the alpha’s arm wraps around his waist from behind. The warmth pressed against Jimin's back and the hand curled in his makes affection curl pleasantly in Jimin's stomach.

He leans back against Yoongi. "I've had a lot of surprises already," he admits.

The laugh sounds quiet and warm above him. "So have I," he says, and opens the front door of the cabin.

Jimin is greeted by white.

He doesn't recognize the texture as snow for a long while. Not just because he hasn't ever seen so much of the stuff all at once, but because there's enough of it to completely transform the landscape. More accurately, it doesn't transform, but cover.

He can't see anything but the heavy blanket of snow. Yoongi's porch is gone. He thinks that everything is covered in snow. It's piled, obviously wet and heavy, like a wall in front of the door. There's even an imprint where the paneling of the front door was and where the doorknob sticks out; they're legitimately snowed in. Jimin thinks there must be four feet of it, maybe more.

When he makes the effort to look farther upward, Jimin can distantly see the spindly structure of snow-covered evergreens peeking over top the pile into the sky. The branch of one tree even actively collapses under the weight of snow. It dips low enough to the point Jimin wonders whether it might break before the white slides off and falls with a plop into only more snow covering the earth.

"Holy shit," Jimin breathes.

He admittedly knows nothing about snowfall. He distinctly remembers that in the fifth grade his school teacher Mrs. Eve had spoken about a seventy-eight inch snowfall accumulation of under twenty four hours. In Yoongi’s cabin, Jimin might have been asleep for ten hours at a maximum. Considering his pre-heat, maybe twelve.

He feels like a child: small, not even just in comparison to Yoongi anymore, but to the compound. When he reaches out to touch the stuff in front of him, his hand jerks back.

"It's cold," he blurts, and feels stupid immediately.

Yoongi laughs in the quiet but happy way that makes Jimin feel better about his own idiocy. He pulls Jimin's cold hand in and reaches out with the one that had stayed safely tucked against his body.

"You can feel the texture." It's jagged underneath his hand. A few pieces fleck off of the wall in front of them and land on the hardwood floor. "It's wet enough to hold its shape, so it won't all collapse into the house when I clear it."

Jimin squints. "You can't clear all this," he points out.

"I'll clear a path from the back of the house around to the front and towards the stones we usually follow, heading toward the dens," he explains, and pulls Jimin's hand back to cradle them both inside his own. The warmth is nice. Surprisingly, Jimin has no complaint about the freezing cold brushing his bare legs.

The alpha nods in the direction of the tied tarp on the floor. "The rear entrance to the cellar needs to be cleared, and I'll take some weight off of the roof."

Jimin, who hadn't even known that there was a cellar at all, nods along in acknowledgment. "Can I help at all?"

A negative hum from Yoongi. "I'll be finished within a couple of hours."

Jimin watches the immense amount of piled-up snow disappear as Yoongi shuts the front door gently, and he thinks that a couple of hours seems awfully ambitious. He looks up at Yoongi with an eyebrow raised.

"The back is already done," Yoongi promises, and runs his fingers over Jimin's neck and scent glands.

Jimin just nods. He at least knows where Yoongi had been in the early morning. All the affection has him feeling something like a happy sleepiness, warmth building up slowly until he's happy to lean back.

“So much for all the celebration yesterday,” Jimin murmurs, and is rewarded with a warm laugh.

"There's breakfast in the pot on the stove," Yoongi suggests. He’s scratching lightly at Jimin’s scalp in such a way that he must want Jimin to melt against him. "Should be done in an hour or so."

Jimin manages to lean all the way back as far as possible against the alpha, until looking up at the man involves tilting his head back enough to dig a bit at Yoongi’s chest. He can just feel the hold around his waist tighten in response.

“You’re sure there isn’t anything I can do?” Jimin murmurs.

Yoongi knows what he really means—What am I supposed to do until you’re done?—if the look in his eyes is anything to go by.

“I’ll tuck you back in,” Yoongi says in a very firm tone that makes Jimin’s fever burn very hot. “You should get some rest.”

Jimin frowns.

“You’ll need it,” Yoongi promises, and pulls him back to the bedroom.

Jimin widens his eyes behind Yoongi’s back at that, but he follows along weakly.

That’s how he ends up back in bed, feeling entirely too warm and looking blankly around the room after Yoongi leaves.

Having returned to the bedroom feeling genuinely awake, Jimin can finally notice that the snow has piled up against the outside of the room’s single glass window. It's wet and compact enough to look grey from Jimin's position on the inside. There's only a thin section where the snow isn't piled up; bright white light streams in, but the sun is so high with mid-morning that it all falls in a concentrated lane on the hard wood several feet away.

Aside from that, the room is relatively dim and cozy. When Jimin closes his eyes and presses his face into the material, he can imagine the sound of Yoongi clearing the snow.

The man himself had lingered over Jimin and the bedside before leaving, taking a long look over Jimin’s body that had threatened to strike up fever. In the moment, with Yoongi gone, Jimin pictures the shifting swing of the shovel and the heavy fwump sound of wet snow being thrown onto itself and compacting with added weight. Jimin has an image in his mind of Yoongi's hands on the tarp and on the shovel's handle, and he also thinks about the broad outline of the alpha's shoulders—it's not an image he ever thought he'd get worked up over, but his legs squeeze together regardless.

Jimin groans and forces himself to turn onto his other side, before thoughts of Yoongi start to invade entirely. At least he can’t feel any winter chill with the fever running through his body.

He doesn't let his eyes open immediately after turning over. The scent of Yoongi and his bed is just pleasant enough on its own—warm and chilly all at the same time, like being tucked away.

Jimin knows that he'll have to confront his own thoughts at some point; Yoongi's scent isn't only exciting anymore. It's more than just the pheromones, and it feels deeper than just surface-level excitement. There's a sense of protection there, although the alpha is of course still arguably unhealthy for Jimin's heart.

When did that happen? Jimin can't think too much on that, though—he rubs his legs together and nuzzles his face into the cool sheets. He doesn't even fight the purr when it rises up in the back of his throat; no one but their intertwined scents can hear the sound, which makes scenting the sheets all the more satisfying. That, and the sweet but shaky feeling in his lower body.

The sheets feel pleasant on his body because they touch his skin in little inoffensive rifts where they’re raised, rippled, and rumpled. Jimin opens his eyes slowly enough to see the cotton fuzz texture of his own eyelashes part before he can see the mess of bed sheets wrapped around his legs.

The sheets look pretty. They’re raised in little ridges that might look like a seashell but feel very satisfying to Jimin, who sits up to plant both hands down on either side of the raise in the blankets and pushes inward until the effect is even more dramatic.

He could purr at just the mess of blankets, which is a little strange. Jimin ignores the doubt and adjusts the sheets the way he likes.

Eventually, he turns his eyes to the wall again.

When the barely-there texture of off-white becomes boring, Jimin looks along its surface until his eyes brush the edge of Yoongi's armchair. It’s old and leather and offers enough texture to distract Jimin.

The chair is clearly valuable, even if it is fairly worn. There's a spot along the back where the leather crackles and a cream color peaks through, but the stain and shine over the clubbed feet are still intact—aside from one little white notch on the front left of the four. The square base of the chair has an egg-and-dart pattern in the leather, and the arms of the chair itself are neatly stapled with a line of tufted brass knobs.

Jimin can see a bit of deep grey edging away at the bronze color of the tufting. He thinks that the chair has to be at least ten years old, not out of the furniture knowledge he doesn't have, but by the sheer aura of the thing. When he looks over the back of the chair in another swoop, he can see that it's also tufted in a sort of criss-cross pattern.

It's genuinely a very pretty chair. Jimin even likes the little wears and scratches in the leather. Still, there's something that just—Jimin wants to narrow his eyes at it. And he is scrutinizing it, he realizes, when the brown color of the leather fades a little bit around the edges into the warm cream color of the walls.

He looks back at the door frame of the bathroom, set into the same wall. The feet of the chair just aren’t oriented properly, with the back of the chair angled slightly away from the doorway. The back of the chair isn't—something. Maybe it isn't close enough to the wall, although when Jimin pictures that, the image doesn't feel right either.

Realistically, the entire room is poorly lit. The snow covers nearly the entire window and casts a grey shadow over the room. But the chair looks especially dull, in an uncharacteristic way for such a nice piece of furniture.

Jimin's feet still get cold when he steps onto the hardwood floor.

The chair looks, surprisingly, even more dull when he stands right in front of it and looks at it up-close. He stands so close that his thighs brush the line of the seat and the front of his feet slip beneath the chair's base. Jimin looks at the back of the chair, and it just doesn't look as good as it should.

He realizes that he definitely doesn't want to just sit in the chair, but he feels an urge to do something. It’s an itchy one, as if he needs to sneeze. He feels like there's an answer just out of reach, and it bothers him.

The huff comes out of his mouth before he can control it. He scratches at the inner crook of his elbow and forces himself to look away, at the wall. The crease of the room's corner seems particularly entertaining.

Jimin stares at the corner of the room for a long time, with the tops of his thighs pressed against the old chair. He looks back at the chair.

The urge clicks.

And Jimin isn't—he isn't intending to try and move it. He just stands on the left side of the chair, pressed up against the arm, and considers what it might look like if he just. Nudged it. In the direction of the corner.

Jimin admits that it's a bit weird.

His hands are a little warm against the cool material. He traces over the stitching in the leather, looking back at the doorway behind him. It feels one-hundred percent weird to be inspecting someone else's furniture, but. He pushes forward before he can really think about it.

The chair doesn't move.

Which probably should be a sign, Jimin thinks distantly. But he traces over the seam and it's just still a bother and he's starting to feel that itch again, even in the base of his stomach, so—

It doesn't want to budge no matter how firmly Jimin plants his feet into the ground. He tries pushing his thigh a bit into the side—as evenly as possible, to avoid leaving an impression from his knee—but not even that works. Once his muscles are starting to feel a bit of strain, Jimin finds himself glaring at the seat of the thing. He's not a weak person, Jimin thinks in the back of his mind.

So he follows his silly urge and heads to the other side to try pulling. He knows it won't work, but he knows he'll be doubly irritated if he doesn't manage to get the damn thing to move an inch. Jimin feels a bit embarrassed, because he knows that he wouldn't mess with Yoongi’s furniture if the alpha weren't outside and completely out of hearing range, but thoughts of Yoongi are surprisingly not at the forefront of his mind.

Moving the seat seems like a very important priority, all-consuming for reasons Jimin doesn't pause to consider.

The next failed effort is just as frustrating, if not more—the chair's arm is a bit difficult to get any sort of grip on, and Jimin is really starting to feel irritation prod at his chest.

He tries twice before he eventually gives into the full urge. He's leaning back a little and planting his feet as much as possible when it starts to really budge. When it does move, it travels with a bit of a jolt that has Jimin slipping back and downward—

—When he can see a pair of hands on the other arm of the chair.

His mind takes a snapshot memory of the image: the way Yoongi's fingers curve over the leather, the span of his exposed forearms where his long sleeves have been pushed up and out of the way, and the little outward jab of his wrist bone. The assault of Yoongi's scent only intensifies the experience. The image is progressively slipping out of Jimin's vision, though, instead showing more and more of the chair's arm.

Jimin lands right on his ass with a yelp.

He doesn't know what's worse—having been caught trying to move Yoongi's furniture, or the look on the man's own face when Jimin peaks just the smallest amount over the chair's arm. The tension in the alpha's mouth and the turned up corners of his lips tell Jimin that Yoongi is probably trying to keep from laughing. The only thing that keeps Jimin from ducking out of view again is how childish the action would look.

It might be useless, though. He definitely already looks childish enough.

There's silence. Jimin tries to think of all sorts of excuses (there aren't any decent ones, he realizes) and he tries to think of any way to salvage the situation (there aren't any of those, either.) Between the red in his face and the adrenaline of mortification, he knows he doesn't stand a chance at keeping his own secret.

Jimin also knows that the slightest bit of smirk on Yoongi's face alone is enough to heat his body up, but he keeps his focus on avoiding eye contact. The peek he does get from his peripheral, though, seems pretty safe.

"Are you alright?" Still the slightest bit amused, but serious enough that he sounds concerned.

Jimin eventually shifts, finds no hints of pain even in his tailbone, and scrambles up. He's sure to keep his hands anywhere but on the chair as he does so. He folds them together over his front and tries to become as small as possible.

"I'm fine," he lies weakly. There's nothing else he can say.

Still, he can feel Yoongi scan over his body. "You're sure?"

Jimin's face and neck burn fiery hot. The fever and the automatic drop in his stomach don't help. "Promise," he offers.

A beat passes. Jimin knows he's being studied by the prickling tingles at the back of his neck. He also just knows his alpha.

There’s a dull sound where Yoongi’s hands hit against the arm of the chair. "Where to?"

Jimin wants to whine. There's a little bit of air squeezing at the back of his throat, working its way up and—Jimin knows it's essentially a silent scream. His entire body feels locked in place.

He's so aware of his own peripheral vision that he knows Yoongi taps his fingertips against the leather.

"Nesting is natural," Yoongi says lowly. There's something deliberate about the way he says it. Jimin shivers a little and—that has something in him feeling pliant, even if his posture stays stiff.

Much later, he finally registers the words themselves. Jimin's mouth goes a little bit slack. He doesn't know what he wants to say.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow.

And Jimin, entirely distracted and trying to avoid the conversation at hand, blurts: "I was trying to move it to the corner."

When the alpha gives the chair a gentle nudge, Jimin moves out of the way with a red face and a head spinning full of thoughts.

Nesting is natural. Jimin wants to groan.

He knows what nesting is. Jimin also knows what nesting suggests.

He knows why it happens, knows that nesting is an instinctual process and doesn't mean he actually wants anything like what it suggests on an instinctual level. But he watches Yoongi slide the chair over the hardwood anyways, watches the little protective pads between the clubbed feet and the floor shift just a bit with the tension put on them.

He's perfectly comfortable with what nesting suggests, Jimin realizes. He knows it doesn't mean he wants to have—any of that. But Jimin had moved out of bed to move a piece of furniture that wasn't his own. He'd done it without really wondering why or even thinking about the consequences, really.

And Jimin can't help but eye the armoire and how ridiculous it looks sitting so close to the window. Hormones seem much more powerful when they aren't just making him feel sick to his stomach with fever and oncoming libido.

Jimin can hear sound of a heavier shifting. When he turns back, the chair is shifted exactly how he'd imagined—diagonally over the corner. The satisfaction that strikes up is much more intense than it should be.

Yoongi straightens up, and turns to Jimin immediately. He raises his eyebrows in such a way that Jimin knows he's seeking approval. The serious treatment, especially of what Jimin wants to dismiss as silly, feels sweet.

He doesn't anticipate the question, though—

"What’s next?" Yoongi asks.

Jimin looks down at the floor and around the room and feels very, very embarrassed. The armoire lands in his vision last of all, before he turns back and firmly decides to ignore the urge.

When he turns back, though, Yoongi is already looking at the armoire. Jimin realizes he's been caught, and whines.

The alpha gives him a small smile as he crosses the room.

When half of Yoongi's cabin has been rearranged, Jimin feels his surface-level mortification giving way to a deeper and instinctual level of satisfaction.

Yoongi brushes his hands together in an up-and-down way that signals completion. Jimin, feeling very unhelpful, rests back against the arm of the chair. He'd stood relatively stationary throughout the entire process—lingering against the chair while Yoongi had moved the armoire, lingering against the couch when he'd glanced down the hall for too long and the alpha had automatically moved to the living room, and lingering against the chair again when Jimin had finally thought they were done and they weren't because the bed just wasn't quite centered. Now, leaning and continuing to be useless, he feels very small and somewhat content even through the nerves.

Meticulously moving each piece, even into disorganized chaos, is—it’s nice. He doesn’t feel the intended nesting instinct, exactly, but he does feel like he isn’t invading Yoongi’s cabin so much anymore.

Something like expectation passes when Yoongi looks at him. Jimin realizes that they've moved nearly everything in the house. His own feet seem like the only things he can stare at now.

"You can sit," the alpha suggests.

The offer startles Jimin. The chair is the one thing in the house that seems to belong entirely to Yoongi. The rest of the furniture in the cabin is somewhat plain. In terms of decoration, everything else is ornate maybe in terms of cleanliness—but the chair is different. Jimin can see it in the details and the wear of the thing, and even in just the fact that Yoongi is a carpenter. He could replace the chair with something newer if he wanted.

Which is why he only barely lets himself lean just slightly against it in the first place.

"That's alright," Jimin dismisses politely. The leather armchair seems too large anyways. It's clearly made for an alpha.

But he recognizes the sound of Yoongi's boots softly hitting the floor. When the alpha takes his hand, Jimin lets himself be pulled.

When he settles in, he really does try to avoid focusing in on the feeling of Yoongi’s hands. He tries to look at the slope of Yoongi’s cheek where it curves down into his jawline, and tries to ignore the resulting cramp in his lower body. Jimin tries to focus in on anything but the man himself after he ultimately only works himself up more. Eventually, Jimin’s intelligence strikes up for conversation and suggests he pay attention to the matter at hand.

He was right, he thinks to himself: the chair is made for an alpha. He feels almost diminished by its size. It's not just in where the heel of his foot doesn't quite touch the ground, but even in how far Jimin would have to extend his arms just to balance his elbows on the armrests.

But even as Yoongi leans in over Jimin until he feels dwarfed, Jimin thinks that the chair feels exactly how it looks: worn in and heavy with importance. He sinks in and squeezes his hands firmly together in his lap. The leather doesn't feel entirely uncomfortable on his bare legs.

"You’ve made a nest out of my den."

One of Yoongi's arms reaches out. He doesn't reach for Jimin's neck or shoulder, like Jimin predicts, but instead rests his weight against the chair's back.

The words have a weight to them—terms like nesting typically bring up thoughts of messes and blankets for Jimin, rather than hormonal fixes to rearrange the entire furniture layout of an alpha's home—that makes Jimin still feel surprised and a little bit uncertain. He grips at the leather of the chair and leans forward into Yoongi's space. Being close offers comfort and safety, no matter how much the man might tease or embarrass him.

"I don't know about that," Jimin denies shyly. The disastrous pile of sheets on the bed beg to differ from his peripheral.

Yoongi is matching his movement, though, leaning in until Jimin can see the curvature of his cupid's bow in detail.

Jimin squeezes his knees together. He can feel Yoongi look down at them.

The alpha's knees hit the ground with two dull raps against the wooden floor. Jimin looks at Yoongi's hands where they grip at his thighs rigidly, and he suddenly feels fever pick up in the bottom of his stomach.

Those fingers are teasing at the edge of his nightshirt again. "You don't?"

Jimin thinks that his brain might have been reduced to static and Yoongi's scent. After several long seconds of trying to tear his eyes away from Yoongi's hands, Jimin finally remembers the conversation at hand. "I don't," he affirms quietly.

But he can feel the hair on the back of his neck straightening up and he thinks that if his legs tense up anymore they might start to strain, even while his toes still don't quite brush the hardwood flooring. He must be obvious, Jimin thinks—if not by how he can't relax a bone in his body, then by how interesting Jimin makes everything in the room seem, as opposed to the man in front of him, or as opposed to the conversation.

Yoongi's fingertips press assertive divots into the flesh of Jimin's thighs. In the passes he makes over Yoongi's face, Jimin can only see heavy and direct eye contact. If that can't make Jimin feel smaller than even the chair can, then he doesn't know what will.

Yoongi always makes him feel small.

"What do you want?" Yoongi asks seriously. The glance Jimin takes is all dark irises and lowered lashline.

Jimin truthfully doesn't know how to explain exactly what he wants—how to explain that even the skin on his thighs feels hot, how his hips ache, and how his vision feels fazed around the edges. He doesn't even think he can take his eyes off of the alpha's hands on his thighs and around the hemline of the sweater.

"I don't know," Jimin finally whimpers.

Yoongi just raises an eyebrow.

In an evasion of response, Jimin brushes his hands forward until they cover the alpha's. Yoongi's knuckles feel work-worn under the tips of Jimin's fingers.

In the spaces between Jimin's outstretched fingers, he can see the blue tinge of the prominent vein running over the back of Yoongi's hand. He can see the way his own thighs give around the pressure of Yoongi's fingertips and he can feel the sensation of—of being looked at by Min Yoongi, he thinks, and the buzz that comes with that and takes over him.

He can see where his own eyelashes blur the outline of Yoongi's jaw in the upper line of his vision.

Jimin forces himself to watch the sharp change in Yoongi's expression when he pulls his own grip on Yoongi's hands upward, and with it, the hemline of the shirt.

"You know what I want," he admits shakily.

He can see the exact moment the alpha shifts.

“I know what you want,” Yoongi growls, and pulls Jimin forward to the edge of the seat.

Jimin might have bitten off more than he can chew, a distant part of him thinks.

The more present but still gone part of his brain allocates the feeling of the movement; as jerky as it is, he can at least register the grip on his legs and the slightest cramping in his lower stomach. This time around, the discomfort doesn’t feel so foreign.

He curls his hands up in the shirt. Yoongi is moving Jimin’s legs and spreading them across the span of the seat and—in between all the feelings of the leather and skin and the fabric of the shirt—he’s being pulled forward, pulled and maneuvered.

It takes a long moment for Jimin to realize that Yoongi has pulled Jimin's legs over his shoulders.

“You want to be taken care of,” he growls, and Jimin’s thighs tense.

The shaky feeling in his limbs registers visibly when he can see the alpha's hand dragging up over his legs, over the crease between his thigh and his hips, fabric creasing over the man's hand as he pulls Jimin's shirt up to his waist. Jimin doesn't dare look down, but he watches Yoongi's eyes dip down and swallows.

There’s no cold feeling, no fabric. Nothing.

Being looked at is—it's embarrassing, Jimin thinks, but he doesn't do anything other than shift and squirm as imperceptibly as he can.

Yoongi's hand squeezes at his waist through the bunched-up layers of Jimin's shirt. All Jimin can do is nod dumbly, response multiple beats late.

He squirms when his skin slides hotly over the leather, and tries to avoid thinking about what could cause that wet slip. It’s not a difficult task. His mind feels blissfully blank and sharply focused in on the alpha and the emptiness of his lower body all at the same time.

Jimin feels overwhelmed. He feels embarrassed and generally looked at in a way that he can't put into the words he wants, and Yoongi is already moving on while Jimin sits lax and feeling like his body might burn up right in the seat—

Yoongi presses a hot kiss to the inside of his thigh. "You want to be spoiled," he lulls.

The truth of it strikes low in his gut until it feels almost uncomfortable.

Jimin knows it's a lie but shakes his head anyways. The alpha cuts him a quick look and Jimin gets the distinct feeling that he's being allowed to get away with something.

He can see Yoongi's mouth dipping against the skin of his thighs, can see the flex in his jaw when he turns his head to press his lips against the inside of Jimin's leg and pulls away with a shock of what Jimin only registers as teeth after he jumps and squirms. Jimin grips weakly at the leather of the seat and squeezes. The muscle of his legs tense over Yoongi's shoulders and underneath the alpha's hand.

He doesn't think that the base of his stomach could feel any heavier, but Yoongi's hand in his shirt is releasing and snaking down Jimin's waist.

He's so close. His knuckle brushes Jimin's skin and Jimin jolts and feels his cock tense against his own stomach and his asshole clench wetly around nothing.

Yoongi's hand dips lower around the crease of Jimin's thigh.

Lower still. "You want me here."

His finger presses insistently until it brushes just faint of wet skin.

Jimin whines and squeezes his thighs against Yoongi's shoulders and feels his stomach clench. He squeezes his eyes shut and squeezes at the arms of the chair and tenses his thighs and he thinks about Yoongi and Yoongi's voice and his body and he collapses pathetically back against the chair.

Jimin wonders, in the middle of whining and whimpering, if he feels like what being in heat feels like.

Yoongi's fingers dig into his skin with a pressure that makes Jimin's back arch and his heels dig into Yoongi's back. "You want your alpha," he snarls.

His hand jerks back before Jimin can rut up against it, can try to get anything he can. The loss makes something pathetic-feeling well up wetly in Jimin's lashline.

What Jimin can see isn't anything like apprehension. The look in Yoongi's eyes, even up at Jimin through his eyelashes, is wild and dark and makes Jimin feel so small.

"I'm here," he growls, and ducks down to lick hotly between Jimin's legs.

Jimin goes boneless against the back of the chair and whines at the wet sounds that start up against his hole.

His stomach drops out and the fever spreads and Jimin squeezes his eyes shut. He squirms and whines and Yoongi's grip is rough on his thighs—losing a little bit of gentleness every time, which makes Jimin feel all the more needy.

It's not any kind of capability on Jimin's part but rather Yoongi's hand gripping up Jimin's body and onto his waist that encourages him to look down. Jimin can see where his legs fall weakly against the seat when his feet slip against the leather.

The picture is obscene: Jimin’s shins disappear at the crook of each knee where his legs rest over Yoongi’s shoulders. He can see Yoongi’s neck, his shoulders, his hair, and the lewd cut where half of his face isn’t covered my Jimin’s skin.

Yoongi’s face is one thing—syncing it to the insistent and torturous lapping at his own asshole is another.

He's squirming and curling his toes against the base of his seat. Yoongi's tongue feels rough and dirty and painfully slow; the leather sticks, pulls, and releases with little painful snaps on Jimin's skin. The slick on the back of his thighs is drying coolly and it makes Jimin shiver—even moaning, babbling and pressing against Yoongi’s face when pleasure makes his body go slack into the alpha’s hands.

Jimin can feel his asshole clench against the alpha's face when he squirms. He can feel where his skin presses into the seat and he can feel the line where he hangs off the seat, weight entirely in Yoongi's hands. Jimin squirms and digs his heels into Yoongi's back, squeezes his thighs together, and flexes again when Yoongi's hand tightens on Jimin's skin and pulls.

"Yoongi—" He doesn't know what to do with himself. He wants to grip at the chair but reaches for Yoongi and threads his fingers through Yoongi's hair and wants to pull when it’s too good, when it’s overwhelming, but doesn't.

One of Jimin's thighs hits the cold of the leather and his ankle brushes something cold and hard—maybe the brass knobs of the chair, Jimin eventually processes. Yoongi has already spread and forced his legs back until they hit the arms of the chair.

Jimin jerks and squeezes his eyes shut against tears. Yoongi only holds him down more.

The other leg dangles uselessly where Yoongi forces it back, forces it out of the way, and Jimin can only moan and reach and curl his fingers over the alpha's.

The visual is—Jimin realizes that it might be too much. Jimin looks pathetic, he knows. He sits and takes it with spread legs and a hard cock and nothing but little whines of hah, and Yoongi. It's Yoongi's hands on his skin, and it’s his scent and his tongue.

It’s all the feeling that comes with that, that makes his hips twitch—and jerk over Yoongi's tongue pressing at him and against his hole—and it's for Jimin. Jimin has his alpha’s hands on him and Yoongi’s mouth is on Jimin’s skin and he’s embarrassed, but it’s still Yoongi.

It isn't anyone else.

You want your alpha. Jimin's fingers shake, threaded in Yoongi's hair.

He really knows what Jimin wants. He might know better than Jimin does, even if the way Jimin's hole clenches in an obscene pattern might give a physical sort of proof.

His alpha always knows.

"Mine," Jimin whines, without thinking.

The snarl hits his skin before his ears.

Jimin thinks his face and his body are on fire. He thinks that his cock feels heavy and his entire backside feels wet and slick. He’s caught between squirming in Yoongi’s grip from the pleasure and trying not to slide over the leather. Sliding forward and into the alpha’s face, is—it’s good and it’s not enough.

Sharp pain made by something relatively dull between Jimin’s legs—it’s Yoongi’s teeth biting into his asscheek.

"Mine," he moans again.

Yoongi's teeth clamp down before he's back to licking shamelessly at Jimin's asshole. His hand is so, so close on the very tops of Jimin's thighs and the snarl in his throat is so loud that the hair on Jimin's neck stands up even with all the pleasure.

Jimin knows that he's going to come. Jimin's stomach is clenching, and his legs are pushing against Yoongi's hands, and his hands are gripping at anything and everything he can reach—he knows he's going to come. It makes him so desperate and makes him rut forward until he can feel the bridge of Yoongi’s nose pressed against his skin.

Jimin looks at the hand on his right thigh and how close the tips of the alpha's fingertips are to his slick skin. It makes his entire body clamp down and cramp up at the same time until Yoongi must be able to feel it, must take the excuse to grip so roughly that Jimin can feel it through the fever.

With absolutely zero ability to express himself coherently, Jimin thinks that he wants to feel Yoongi's fingers inside until it all feels wet and slick and full like the way being knotted is supposed to feel. He ruts forward and can only feel Yoongi's tongue inside.

In the end he's whining—"Feels good," and a lot of begging and babbling, and twitching in the few parts of Jimin's body that Yoongi doesn't have some sort of hold on.

Ultimately, though, it's all about—

"—Mine," Jimin whimpers, two or three times, even while he comes.

Yoongi doesn't touch Jimin’s cock until he can feel his own come dripping warmly down his own body. Even then, the warmth of skin barely brushes his own.

Vision catches up later, when Jimin pulls his head from having thrown it back against the chair; Yoongi’s knuckles brush upward towards the head of Jimin's cock, until a messy stripe of Jimin's come pools milky and sticky over his finger. Even his cock looks small in Yoongi’s hand.

Entirely fucked out but with a pathetically empty and clenching hole, Jimin watches his alpha’s fingers spread over his stomach. The weight of the touch is almost as overwhelming as it is to see the white smearing clear over his own skin.

Jimin wishes it were Yoongi’s come on his stomach. The ferocity in Yoongi’s eyes tells Jimin that he might not be the only one.

Heat in Jimin’s lower body protests, entrance clenching around nothing and hips cramping weakly.

Jimin watches Yoongi press hot and slow kisses to his thighs and stares at the wet slick sheen around his mouth. The alpha’s eyes are still dark when he looks up at Jimin.

For a long while, Jimin can only hear the soft press of Yoongi’s lips and the sound of his own wrecked panting. Yoongi gives him the time to recover until Jimin’s body cramps up again and he whimpers too loudly.

The alpha is careful and delicate in moving his legs. Jimin’s hips protest a bit and the soft indent between his right thigh and asscheek hurts where Yoongi had bitten it. Jimin remains pathetically collapsed in the chair, feeling every bit exhausted and overwhelmed by the remaining shocks of pleasure tingling in his stomach.

“Yoongi,” he whines quietly.

The man himself still looks darkly at Jimin, irises reduced to thin rings around pupil. He looks at Jimin for a long time, jaw clenched and mouth coated in slick. Jimin watches and wonders if his alpha will ever really snap.

Yoongi exhales. It does absolutely nothing to mute the tension in his body, but it does seem to force his focus elsewhere.

“Let’s get you into the bath,” he says finally says. “We should have a couple of hours.”

It sounds like a promise, or maybe a threat. How Jimin’s heart starts up yet again, he doesn’t know.

When Yoongi leans in to pull Jimin into his arms, he does so quickly enough that Jimin doesn’t even have the time to wrap his arms around Yoongi’s neck. Even being carried, Jimin feels pliant. He tucks his face into the alpha’s neck and tries to ignore the way that fever already slips over his skin.




In between feeling needy and overheated, Jimin had taken time to reflect.

He’d have have liked to have spent the time doing mental preparation—maybe reflecting on his feelings toward his rapidly oncoming heat, on any potential nervousness, or even on confronting thoughts of his rapidly deepening feelings.

Instead, he’s in the living room with a beat red face, buried under a blanket and staring at all the white snow covering the window.

Everything had been a little fuzzy and a lot desperate when Yoongi had left again, immediately after Jimin had hopped out of the bath and his hair was dried. With a path around the cabin supposedly cleared, the alpha had mentioned venturing out again to quickly take pressure off of the roof.

Jimin had whined to himself, but hadn’t dared to whine to Yoongi; one look at the man’s face had told Jimin that Yoongi would set the longevity of his roof aside if Jimin genuinely asked for it.

Left alone, Jimin had decided to stew as always, but instead of thinking about anything remotely productive, he’d sat bothered and rubbing his legs together under the blanket.

It had been embarrassing to think about, but still nagged at the back of his mind. He’d blamed it on the heat, and on the hormones, and on a distracting line of thought on Yoongi’s many attractive qualities that had indirectly contributed. Even with the excuses, though, the concern had been a dirty one.

At the end of the day, what really had bothered was, obscenely—the realization that Yoongi hadn’t put anything inside of Jimin aside from his tongue.

So he’d sat, feeling every bit of mortification possible, and wondered at length on why, exactly. It had taken some time for all of Jimin’s weak attempts to distract himself with other thoughts to fail, but his thoughts came back in the end.

He’d admittedly had no places to start. He’d wondered if Yoongi was waiting for Jimin’s heat to set in completely, or if there was some kind of cultural tradition Jimin hadn’t known about—but from what Jimin had heard both before coming to compound and after living in it and hearing the gossip, sex before a heat had seemed common enough.

If anything, refusing anything else had seemed a bit unconventional.

The confusion hadn’t done anything to dampen Jimin’s excitement upon hearing the front door open. Nausea hadn’t kept him from jumping up, speeding into the entryway, and curling straight up into Yoongi’s arms. Purring had come from the back of Jimin’s throat just as quickly as the alpha’s arms had come to settle around his waist.

Something in Yoongi’s scent or in his expression drew Jimin in for more than just the attention, though, and gave him more than he’d asked for before the alpha had even taken off his coat.




"Yoongi—" The whine had felt pathetic.

It didn't stop him from arching his back until the strain in his muscles nearly kept up with the insistent pressure at his hole.

With the strain in his back in his legs Jimin had thought, despite feeling mortified, that he could reach back blindly to grip at the alpha's hand spreading him. When that hadn't budged—even with all of Jimin’s whining—Jimin had briefly considered and even tried to reach for his own cock once, ignoring the shame.

The pleasure had been enough to keep Jimin pressing his front into the wall and digging his spread feet into the hardwood.

“Feels good,” he’d stuttered, and had even waited to grab himself until his tears and the tip of his cock brushed against the coats and furs hanging in Yoongi’s entryway.

Instead he'd felt a stinging slap over his ass and that had made it all a little harder to keep upright, made him keep his hands pressed firmly into the wall and his nose into the jackets and furs. The scent had invaded his nose and Jimin had felt his knees buckle, but even then—even whining and sliding down with his face pressed against the wall and with the back of Yoongi's sweater hitched up and over his ass—the alpha wouldn't give him anything else.

Jimin didn’t have time to question before he begged.

"Inside," he’d moaned.

Yoongi's tongue had slipped past his entrance and he'd sucked at Jimin's rim until the alpha had to support Jimin's weight entirely when he came.




Jimin had really started to realize that Yoongi had no intention of letting him come any other way.

The worst part of it all might have been the way Yoongi had refused to give up the smallest amount of control—he hadn’t in the entryway, and he won’t even when Jimin picks the largest of the alpha's sweaters to get dressed in to replace another dirtied one, or when he licks at the man’s fingers.

And Jimin might not have experience, but he isn't, well. He doesn't think of himself as particularly naive—he has some ideas of what he wants, and he knows that he wants to feel full. It’s a little cocky, but he thinks that Yoongi wants it too; he still looks at Jimin’s exposed neck and shoulders with what nearly seems like an appetite.

For whatever reason, Yoongi seems against giving it to him in the short run. Looks and thorough manhandling aside, the alpha had moved back toward cleaning up his tools and making sure food was available for Jimin after taking care of him.

There is one moment, though, where Jimin thinks he might be getting somewhere, and might be able to get what he wants.

Ironically enough, it happens just when he’s finally hungry enough to ignore the slick between his legs and force down some of the food on the stove.

Jimin inhales over the pot after he opens it and appreciates that his nausea doesn’t make the meal seem entirely unappealing. As usual, it smells delicious if not a little plain.

At that thought, Jimin makes a mental note to get his hands involved in the cooking process next time around. While he has no complaints, he’s excited to impress Yoongi for once.

A way to give back, he figures. Yoongi does so much for him.

While standing over the open pot, Jimin catches sight of a heavy wooden board standing open just a few feet to his side. He covers the pot as he looks at it; it’s the door to what must be the cellar Yoongi had mentioned, flipped up on its hinge. There are stairs stepping down into what he can briefly see as a row of shelves in the lower level. The opening itself sits right beneath the end of the counter, close to the back door and nearest to the dishes.

Jimin is careful as he steps around it to reach into the overhead cabinet for a bowl. He’s thankful for his own care, because he can hear the sound of the front door opening and steps inside the entryway as soon as he sets his dish on the counter.

He wants to run up to Yoongi, give his alpha a kiss, and distract him from heading back outside again—but he doesn’t, as tempting as it is to be so bold.

Jimin shivers: he’s realizing that his upcoming heat will make him plenty bold no matter what, and in the immediate future.

But he doesn’t have to think about it for too long. He can hear Yoongi’s soft steps on the wood floor and he can tell when the man is close to the kitchen. Impatiently, Jimin reaches for the thinner silverware drawer just beneath the lip of the counter.

“Yoongi—” He takes a quick glance at the layout of the drawer and reaches into it before turning over his shoulder.

Jimin can see Yoongi heading actually straight into the bathroom—to set his boots in the bathtub, or maybe the sink? Jimin isn’t sure—so he grabs a spoon while the man is still busy. Impatience buckles down in his stomach, but he figures the alpha will come and find him when he’s ready.

To seem demanding for Yoongi’s attention is a bit of a stretch, anyways; the alpha hadn’t let Jimin out of sight and out of bed to the best of his control. Jimin knows that he has all of the man preoccupied.

Yoongi comes back much faster than Jimin had thought he would. He must have dipped into the bathroom and come back out immediately to the kitchen, Jimin thinks, because the alpha is visible in Jimin’s peripheral when he places the lid back overtop the pot on the stove.

Jimin turns his head over his shoulder as he reaches back for the drawer.

“You called.” Yoongi is leaning against the entrance to the room, on the side of the wall that not only supports the fireplace but also divides the livingroom and the kitchen.

Jimin shrugs, feeling embarrassed, and shuts the silverware drawer without much thought.

As awkward as Jimin had felt even taking the man’s food while he wasn’t around—even with Yoongi’s explicit request to do so—a bit of embarrassment sinks in his gut when he can feel the spoon slip in his hand. He looks back, in closing the drawer, and sees that he’s still holding the thing: it sticks up out of his grip, catching on the lid of the counter, and slips out of Jimin’s hand entirely before landing on the top step of the cellar’s entrance.

Jimin slips down with a red face to pick it up. “I did call—” he starts.

Ironically, that’s when it hits.

It’s fast. Yoongi crosses the room the second Jimin’s knees hits the floor, all growls and a snarl of “Finally,” that leaves Jimin to yelp.

Jimin feels the hardwood slide under his knees before he even feels Yoongi’s hands around his hips. There’s a pressure on his back that pushes his face into the ground. With his cheek turned into the floor, Jimin looks up dazed to see the outline of the spoon still visible by the cellar.

There’s a ringing in his ears. It’s not painful and it’s not loud. It makes Jimin’s back erupt in goosebumps—it’s Yoongi snarling, he realizes. The sound is the darkest Jimin has ever heard even from the alpha’s mouth.

Jimin turns his face back and whines at the dark look on Yoongi’s face. “Yoongi—”

But it cuts off into a whine. Jimin’s body feels bare and cold when Yoongi shoves his own shirt over the curve of Jimin’s ass, past not only his waist but also over the curve of his shoulders. He can feel where Yoongi’s fingers press into and spread Jimin’s asscheeks.

Jimin’s toes and fingers curl against the wood flooring. “What—,” he questions, uselessly whiny, and peeks back up at the alpha.

Tension lines every inch of the his expression. Jimin hasn’t ever seen Yoongi look so intense before, not even when he had first come to compound.

Jimin had thought the alpha had wanted to eat him back then; now, in the middle of his kitchen, he wonders how much more Yoongi wants.

The snarl is deep and throaty and coats the room in such a way that it pollutes not only the kitchen but also Jimin’s senses. Admittedly, Jimin leans forward into the kitchen floor and inches his knees outward. Even still, he doesn’t know what Yoongi wants—especially with the response that follows.

He’s looking Jimin up and down: at Jimin’s face, at the curve in his back, down further between his legs, and back towards Jimin’s face again—-and surprisingly, his eyes dart past Jimin and back downward again. Jimin pictures that Yoongi must see the open cellar door and the abandoned spoon against the step.

As loud as the snarling remains, Jimin can see the figurative hackles drop. Yoongi remains every bit intimidating, but there’s a pause that leaves Jimin entirely lost.

“Yoongi,” he says, in a mix of a whisper and a whine.

The alpha’s grip lessens into a brush against Jimin. It’s very slow, and deliberate, and compared with what Jimin can see of Yoongi’s expression, it might be that Yoongi is pulling himself back into restraint.

Something lurches in Jimin’s stomach and in his throat until he whines. Jimin is accustomed enough to the cramping by that point to know that he’s slicking up, even if he can’t feel it in his immediate position.

The alpha exhales, sharp but deliberate, and it looks from over Jimin’s shoulder as if Yoongi has registered something.

All Yoongi says, almost resignedly or restrained, before he leans down to bite and lick between Jimin’s legs, is: “Tell me if the floor hurts you.” Jimin only groans into the kitchen floor and spreads his legs further apart until the pressure on his knees increases.

Evidently, it’s enough. Jimin arches his back against the slow and wet heat Yoongi gives him, and he does his best to keep from crying pathetically into the kitchen floor.

It’s infuriating: the wet drag on his skin, and even the growl that keeps Jimin’s chest pressed obediently down. But even in the press of his cheekbone to the wood and in the vague shape of the spoon in his peripheral, it’s painfully good.

Jimin thinks that it’s obscene. He spreads his knees a little farther apart anyways.

He has a shamefully short amount of time before the pleasure builds up and he loses the capacity to feel shame or embarrassment or anything resembling composure—Jimin uses the time to accomplish the primary task of rutting back against the alpha’s face, managing thought secondarily.

Along the line, when he reaches for himself again and the alpha pins Jimin’s hand behind his own back, Jimin realizes that maybe Yoongi might be acting the way that he is for a reason.

He twists his face and pins his other cheekbone into the wood when the pressure starts to leave an ache. The skin of his cheek drags a bit when Yoongi pulls him back and closer by the hips. Jimin only puts more effort into rutting back, digging his palms into the floor.

It’s a slow and dirty build and Jimin thinks about Yoongi’s fingers or even, pathetically, Yoongi’s tongue just inside a little bit father. The thought makes his head feel fuzzy and content and overheated all at once.

Jimin is confronted with the desperate thought that he hasn’t ever felt full before. He doesn’t know what it’ll feel like when Yoongi finally fucks him, when the dirty slip between his asscheeks is the alpha’s fingers or his cock and not his tongue.

He shivers and clenches. All he can imagine is how deep it would feel.

But Yoongi’s mouth is so good: it makes Jimin grind back and moan and cry into the floor until the alpha has clearly had enough of that, has had enough of Jimin’s pathetic squirming and scratching at the floor, and pulls back on Jimin’s hips. He maneuvers and lifts Jimin off of the floor, pulling back still, until the sight in front of Jimin changes—

Jimin stares blankly at the cabinets—and down the alpha’s body, over Yoongi’s legs and chest—until the pleasure starts up again from beneath him rather than behind him.

Everything’s a little delayed and his body catches up before his mind does; Jimin moans and grinds down onto Yoongi’s face.

Embarrassment still manages to settle in, no matter how much the alpha drags him or pins him under—under something, maybe physical or maybe just whatever it is that makes Jimin feel useless and giddy and bodily numb all at the same time. Even with all that, there’s the littlest part of his brain that doesn’t completely shut down the visual feed, the blurry slip of sight of Yoongi’s body as Jimin squirms on top of it.

Grinding down is bad enough. Worse is bearing down with both hands on the alpha’s chest and staring at the outline of his cock where it strains against the black denim of his pants.

Saliva slips over Jimin’s tongue. He thinks it’s a little gross to press his hands down on the alphas chest for support and close his mouth between moans, even just enough to swallow what would otherwise become drool. But Yoongi gives Jimin back every bit of rough force Jimin can manage, gripping his legs and his ass and snarling against Jimin’s skin until the man’s teeth scrape his skin and send perfect little shocks up his spine.

Jimin can see the outline of Yoongi’s cock, the swell of it and the strain up toward the waistband of his pants. Jimin can even feel the bridge of the alpha’s nose and his cheekbones pressing into his skin when he leans down and forward.

The muscles in his own back and stomach are quivering, but he’s still grinding down when he reaches out to touch.

He’s pulled back just as quickly. He has a half-second to hear the snarl turn desperate, and to watch Yoongi’s hips jerk up beneath the tips of his fingers—but then the alpha’s hands are at his waist and he’s pulled back and upright.

And Jimin whines at the loss, of course, but Yoongi’s mouth feels hotter and wetter pressing insistently at his rim and Jimin can press down in just the right way when he's sitting up tall, even if he does need his alpha's help to do it.

Jimin feels like he should care and he should protest and he definitely shouldn't be drooling over the sight of Yoongi's cock, but the alpha's mouth is so hot and Jimin's body is so hot and his legs are shaking from trying and failing to keep himself from pressing his weight down entirely. His arms are slack and his hands are useless. Yoongi holds Jimin’s weight at his waist and Jimin sits and grinds, pliant.

Eventually, Jimin sees a bit of the upper cabinets when he throws his head back and presses his ass down over the alpha's mouth and chin shamelessly.

Looking down towards Yoongi's cock, and thinking about his cock, and what it might feel like to be full with it, is—Jimin feels so good knowing that Yoongi must want it. He wants to fuck Jimin. Jimin can feel it in the alpha's grip on his waist and in the dirty low vibration of the growl against his rim and he can see it, see Yoongi’s hard cock.

Yoongi had twitched his hips up into Jimin’s fingertips but hadn't given Jimin what he wanted—hadn't given himself what he wanted.

Before Jimin comes, he processes in a very distant part of his mind that if Yoongi is so affected, he must be holding himself back. Even more than that, it might be a part of Yoongi—a part of the whole process, the heat, the ritual and the role that Jimin’s alpha is insistent on fulfilling for him.

Yoongi brings his grip in on Jimin's waist until the dig of sharpness makes Jimin squeal and whimper. It's loud and mortifying and rings so obnoxiously against the hardwood in the space that he can't ignore the sound even in the middle of all his own babbling and panting.

Yoongi snarls particularly aggressively, the sound muffled with the slick between Jimin's asscheeks.

Jimin moans and sees the backs of his own eyelids. Yoongi is gripping and even barely scratching again over Jimin’s skin, and he’s spreading Jimin apart and licking into him incessantly.

Jimin can feel everything and all his embarrassment all at once. He thinks that Yoongi wants him and that he wants Yoongi, wants the cock that he can’t have—and that makes him cry, but it also makes his legs give out when he comes.

When he pitches forward—and is pulled back at the hips, by Yoongi’s hands, until Jimin’s skin is pressed stickily into the alpha’s face with nowhere to move—he can see that he’s coming. It drips weakly and hotly onto Yoongi’s shirt, on his chest, looking milky and translucent over the black fabric.

It looks pathetic and small, like a sad little mark. Jimin sniffles and distantly thinks, just maybe, that he would have seen it on his alpha’s bare chest. He squirms—he can still feel wetness lapping against his asshole, hot and slow—and wonders if it’s something he’ll ever get to see.

He nuzzles into the waistband by Yoongi’s hard cock and thinks that the alpha might spoil him with it.





Sound is the first thing that comes back to Jimin—after the heat and fuzziness fades, at least, and he can at least recognize the awareness of reorientation, of being moved. The striking thing is still the sound, though. The sound of his own panting, and the depth of affect even in Yoongi's breath not quite where it should sound from, had they not moved.

But they’ve stopped. Jimin feels like it’s his own doing.

"You don't want to move?"

It's Yoongi's voice. It sounds—wrecked, but the word doesn't suit it. It's low and throaty and it sounds like—like he'd fucked Jimin's ass with his tongue.

Jimin whines a sound of protest before he even realizes it. Apparently he's resisting moving.

Hands on his skin, on his neck. "Look at me."

Jimin opens his eyes to the warm light of the room. The next to process is bare, cool-toned and nearly ashy skin. Yoongi's skin always looks as if it's translucent.

He can see shifting movement, can see more of that almost grey-blue undertone of Yoongi's skin when the alpha pulls his shirt up and over his head.

Jimin shivers through the fever but knows that he isn't the only one affected. Yoongi is obviously frustrated, maybe irritated, or—like when something is deeply unsettling to him, like when he'd wanted to feed Jimin or wants to do something to protect him. Jimin places it as restraint.

He watches the way Yoongi's eyes narrow as he scrutinizes the shirt, fists into the material, and rubs the shirt directly into his skin: he looks like he's cleaning come off of his skin, rather than rubbing Jimin's scent in.

Jimin thinks about what Yoongi might look like if he weren't so restrained. If the alpha fucked into Jimin and maybe even bit him.

A few seconds pass where Jimin takes feeling fucked-out as excuse to stare openly at the sharp dips and lines of the alpha's body. The outline of Yoongi's shoulders seem to be the clearest thing in the otherwise blur of the room.

Still, it's only a few seconds. The alpha's attention is back on him as soon as Yoongi seems satisfied in marking himself with Jimin's shirt. Jimin feels a little satisfied, too, although it isn't the mark he wants.

"Dinner, bath, bed." Yoongi's irises look nearly black.

Jimin hears the promise of going to bed with the man, licks the dryness from his lips, and feels fever creep up into his lower body where he'd expect exhaustion.

A clear sign.




Dinner ends up being a hopeless event.

For one, Jimin starts cramping up before they sit down—or before Yoongi joins Jimin on the couch where he’d originally carried him, really. He also has no desire to eat at all, although he knows that he should and he feels almost impolite to want to waste food.

Everything but his stomach tells him to eat, so he does his best, although he knows that they’re both still sticky and Jimin is easily half-dressed enough to drag Yoongi towards the bedroom earlier than planned.

“You’re doing well,” the alpha assures, and that’s when Jimin pays attention to his own whining.

The meal feels more like a forced snack before bed than anything. Jimin worms his way into Yoongi’s lap, straddles him, and sits heavily but resists the urge to grind down. While he’d like to claim his own embarrassment as the reason, he knows it’s the warning firmness in Yoongi’s expression.

That, too, makes his fever feel unbearable.

“Full,” Jimin eventually whines in a very small voice. He might have taken a total of five bites.

Yoongi looks over him carefully, eyebrows lowered in scrutiny, but eventually sets the dish aside and readjusts Jimin in his lap. Even the brush of fabric on his thighs makes Jimin moan.

“Bed,” the alpha decides firmly with a clenched jaw. He’s already pulling Jimin up, but Jimin nods—scents—weakly into his neck and shoulder anyways.




Jimin truthfully recognizes that everything is already fuzzy by the time they settle in.

He knows that the furs are soft against his skin when Yoongi lies him back against the bed. He knows that his own sweat sticks almost the entirety of Yoongi's shirt to his back. He knows that even where his sweat fails, the slick between his legs draws the rest of the material tight and draws the muscles in Yoongi's jawline tight.

Jimin is the one who pulls the longsleeve over his own head. The silence between them is magnified even while Jimin hiccups and whimpers.

"Hot," Jimin thinks he whines. It can't be very coherent. Maybe that doesn't matter: it's all cut off by Yoongi's growl.

Strong hands are smoothing up the burning skin of his sides and over his ribcage. When he twists, it feels like he's catching the sheets and the pelts with his sweat. The burning in his body feels like an ache and the potential flame of oncoming heat has Jimin intimidated—scared. The sheet slips beneath his foot when he panics and kicks outward.

Yoongi shushes him with a nip to his neck that's more teeth than anything else. It's what Jimin needs and it makes his head fall back lax against the pelts.

"Want to make you come," Yoongi growls.

Jimin whimpers.

When his alpha's fingers spread with palms flat against his middle, Jimin's toes curl. The hands smooth outward, and Jimin's peripheral closes in a bit when the irrational part of him thinks that grounding force might leave.

It never does, though—just wraps around his middle with an upward pull.

Jimin doesn't immediately recognize the sensation of being so pressed up against Yoongi. He thinks it might feel cool against his skin, which might be what makes him squirm, but it's still not exactly how the alpha feels. Yoongi's skin feels warm and his heart beats fiercely beneath Jimin's palm on his chest.

The feeling of wrapping himself up in Yoongi entirely—of wrapping his leg around the alpha's waist and his arms over broad shoulders, albeit with the man's own help—shuts Jimin's entire thought process down.

He whines again: it might have been the alpha's name, or it might have been about the pain in his lower body.

That's when he can feel his whole body shiver, and can feel his fingers curl weakly against Yoongi's back. Jimin processes the full-body reaction a beat before its cause; the alpha's teeth dig into the skin of his neck.

And for Jimin it's—it's the tunnel vision, the tension in his spine that makes his back ache and protest with his stomach, and it's the tight strain in his lower belly that might feel hotter than his own skin. Yoongi's hands are on his body and on his neck and Jimin knows it's useless to hold on so tightly. Especially when he can feel one of Yoongi's hands on his thighs, pulling it up until Jimin's face burns at feeling his strain pressing against the man's stomach.

He feels desperate—hot, shaky in his arms and legs—and a sort soft crackling of pheromones and tension drawing tighter, tighter in his stomach even when he ruts upward.

"Pretty," Yoongi growls. Jimin thinks it feels good and sweet against his neck and spreading somehow outward.

The feeling might just be Yoongi’s affect on him; it might also be the man’s grip on his body, over his legs, his waist, and over all the skin immediately accessible.

Jimin can't bother with embarrassment. The alpha is growling the entire time he makes his way back down Jimin’s body, digging and scraping his teeth in such a way that the blunt pressure makes Jimin jump. Yoongi's hand smooths up the column of his neck; Jimin opens his mouth and sucks before the alpha's finger can spend too much time against his bottom lip.

He feels a little dirty whining with his mouth full. His eyelids droop and his visions narrow regardless; the tight pleasure on his cock is enough motivation on its own, even without the heat.

Even with blurry vision and a body he can't easily keep control over, Jimin distantly thinks that the heat is the most overwhelming of it all. He feels fussy even while his body is going slack and hot tears are starting to spill over and the only tension he can keep is in pressing his own hard cock against the base of Yoongi's stomach.

It's infuriating, he thinks. Even grinding mindlessly between the furs and Yoongi and being wrapped up in that scent makes his legs droop weakly. His thigh doesn't rise again until the alpha’s long fingers wrap around it and hitch it up for him.

He registers a final kiss pressed to his own neck before Yoongi pulls back. More tears spill and the pelts beneath him feel more sticky and matted. Jimin whines when Yoongi moves down his body, pulls the hand that isn't busy at Jimin's mouth over the dip of waist and hip.

Jimin, who anticipates what will happen even just from the tension in Yoongi's shoulders, drops his knees and curls his toes against the bedsheets. The alpha's hand is there at his thigh to guide Jimin's legs further apart.

When Yoongi ducks down between his legs again, Jimin's tolerance collapses quickly.

It's good. It's too much and too little: Jimin's hips and even his lower back sticky and cold from slick that spreads over his skin even just from squirming in the sheets, from squirming in Yoongi's hold. It might be the overstimulation itself that lets Jimin straighten even just the few inches it takes to steady himself up on his elbows.

He can see the curve of Yoongi's forehead, for the first time, and the white highlight of liquidy sheen mussing his hair back. The sheets are dark in a patch around Jimin's lower body and even the tops of Jimin's thighs feel cool through the heat.

Slick is everywhere. Jimin smells himself in the half-second he takes just to squirm enough and pull back from the fingers in his mouth. His lips pull back with a sickly wet and hollow popping sound.

Yoongi's eyes flicker up at him; his irises look entirely black. Jimin moans and drops back until the crook in one of his own elbows collapses into the mattress.

Jimin doesn't know why he turns, why his body twists even when Yoongi's eyes narrow and his grip on Jimin's thighs tighten dangerously before release. It might be the obscene sense of tunnel vision that sickly-sweet hormones bring, or the sweat pooling at his forehead and over his neck.

But even before Jimin manages to turn onto his side, Yoongi is there. Jimin can smell his scent and see the alpha over top of him and he knows how much he likes being under Yoongi, likes turning over until his chest presses into the sheets and his arms and legs shake with the the heat in his veins.

It's difficult. His entire body shakes and feels almost hollow, deep in his joints—but Yoongi is there, like always. His hands are back at Jimin's hips because they belong on Jimin's body.

And they're there to take some of the weight of Jimin's body, he realizes, to lift his hips with a snarl that makes Jimin shiver and know that he's being good.

Jimin presses his face into the sheets and the furs and squeezes his eyes shut until the hot tears agitate his eyelashes and spill down his face. He tenses and—and squeals—when Yoongi grips just beneath Jimin's ass. He digs his fingers into the back of Jimin's thigh until the pressure promises a mark.

"Wanted this from the second I saw you," he snarls, and drags his hand upward until he presses between Jimin's asscheeks.

Jimin whines into the furs.

Chapter Text

"Wanted this from the second I saw you," he snarls, and moves the hand upward until he presses between Jimin's asscheeks.

Jimin whines into the furs.

He thinks that he feels too hot and Yoongi’s hand is too close and it’s only a matter of time before Yoongi will press his fingers—so close—inside, stretch Jimin with those, and stretch Jimin with his cock until Jimin can have the knot he needs.

Yoongi’s hand pulls back instead. Jimin thinks his chest collapses even more into the bed, if possible. His throat is raw when Jimin cries audibly instead of pressing tears into the pelts.

It's cruel. He knows what he needs and he knows that he can only get it from Yoongi—all the same, Yoongi is pulling Jimin back over by his waist.

That makes Jimin feel a lot of entirely hormonal and very irrational panic: that his alpha might be rejecting him after so long, that he shouldn't have listened to himself, or that even worse he'd done something plain stupid in the circumstances. But the hands on his skin are rough and impatient, and Jimin can see in a glimpse that Yoongi is looking greedily over his bare skin.

Don’t leave, Jimin had tried to say—and had slurred out until the first and last of the sounds were muffled.

Yoongi is pressing a kiss to Jimin’s sweaty forehead. His hand skirts up Jimin’s waist, too, and drags his fingertips over Jimin’s nipples.

He's touching so much of Jimin and Jimin can't do anything but arch and flinch up into the touch. The sheets are pulled tight under his body and in his hands where he grips and tugs. Little scratches pull over Jimin’s chest and at his nipples as Yoongi presses against them, and even when he ducks down to lick hotly at one.

His eyes are narrowed at Jimin’s face when he does it. Jimin’s hips jerk up to try and press his hard cock into Yoongi’s stomach a second time while he thinks, again, that Yoongi looks like he has an appetite.

He can’t quite find the muscle memory to pull at Yoongi’s hair, but Jimin does settle for weakly tangling his fingers in it. He can feel the breath on his skin and the wet touch of Yoongi’s tongue—even the nip of his teeth when the touch turns aggressive—

He can also see the little shake pass over the alpha’s back when he drags himself back from Jimin’s raised skin. If the rumbling growl in the alpha’s throat hadn’t continued so incessantly, Jimin would have sworn Yoongi had shivered.

When he smooths his own palm over one and watches Yoongi’s hand take over it immediately, he wonders if he might have anyways.

The pulling and the gentle-turning rough makes Jimin’s legs rub together, and maybe even jerk between Yoongi’s body. But the ache in his stomach is increasing too and the slick is sticking between Jimin’s skin and the mattress when he moves. The pace is frustrating; the heat in Jimin’s body wants a snap in the band.

But asking for it is—

“Mine,” Jimin whines, and plants his feet into the mattress to rut upward.

One of Yoongi’s hands spreads wide over Jimin’s stomach, fingertips pressing into the skin until his body falls lax right out of the arch.

Asking for it is difficult, Jimin thinks, when Yoongi knows best.

“Pretty Park Jimin,” Yoongi growls. “In my bed.”

Jimin presses his legs shut against Yoongi’s body between them. His eyes squeeze shut, too, when he shakes his head and shivers.

He’s continuing and pressing low smooth little compliments into Jimin’s skin. Jimin doesn’t even think the alpha has much focus on the words. It makes him feel that much more pathetic to whine for it.

Jimin thinks his legs feel hollow and weak when Yoongi presses forward, presses up with his fingers against Jimin’s mouth for Jimin to lick at.

“This isn’t usually done,” Yoongi murmurs. The words register without processing. Jimin doesn’t know what Yoongi could mean when he can see the alpha move back down between his legs, "but you’re so wet for me."

Jimin grips at the sheets and doesn’t know whether to close his eyes or look at Yoongi.

His fingers skirt up Jimin’s body again. They move up until Jimin’s mouth feels slick and like the pads of Yoongi’s fingers. It’s wet and hot, like the damp sheets and like how Yoongi makes Jimin feel between his legs.

Jimin watches the little white splotches over the backs of his shut eyes and whines. He doesn’t know how much more he can take—knows he wants more, knows he wants to turn over and do his best for Yoongi, knows he's turning his neck. He wants the nuzzling and the marking and he wants so much. Wants Yoongi's fingers back on his chest, even if Yoongi is just teasing him.

"This is wet," Yoongi is growling.

Jimin feels the touch on his cock, feels his stomach clench up, opens his eyes wide enough that it mirrors the shock of seeing Yoongi's fingers playing with the head of his cock, with the hot little sting he feels over his slit.

He makes an awful-sounding and high-pitched keen. Yoongi growls out a curse. Jimin is too busy with hiding his own red face and jerking into the long fingers caging over his cock to look for Yoongi's other hand.

Jimin hears hollow and faint sort of clicking sounds. After finally managing to pull his eyes open from squeezing shut against the furs, he watches the alpha’s fingers drop from the line of his mouth down between Jimin’s legs.

“Relax,” he says lowly.

Jimin throws his head back and clenches around Yoongi’s finger as it slips inside.

The immediate sensation is contradictory—sticky, wet, a lot of slick inside of his body around Yoongi, not previously experienced but still welcome—and a brief moment of relaxed satisfaction before his back arches.

The tendon of Yoongi’s arm protrudes a thin line when the digit presses up against him. Jimin makes a choked sound around the build in his throat and in his body.

It’s his own force when he jerks farther down the bed that forces the sound out.

“M-more,” he stutters, disoriented.

“More,” Yoongi agrees, curve of his irises chatoyant. The pad of a finger runs almost ticklishly over Jimin’s entrance until it pushes with an audible squelch.

Adjusting is negligible. Slick and need are more overwhelming than pressure—Jimin ruts again, until held down.

Yoongi ‘s fingers press into him and stretch his hole and shift the way Jimin moves, and the way Jimin whines and pants.

When the alpha presses in further, Jimin can only curl his toes and tense.

"Breathe," Yoongi says lowly, but Jimin just chokes on his tears and the dry feeling in his throat.

The fingers slide up inside of Jimin until he gasps. The movement in and out is slow and Jimin can see it, can see the curve all the way down from Yoongi’s forearm when he opens his eyes.

Jimin’s base needs latch onto the full feeling. He won’t push against any part of himself Yoongi holds down, but the rest—his fingers, extending up his arms, his shoulders and even his feet—that all squirms.

He can’t take in enough—the bitter scent of slick, the slowly mattifying sheen of it over his skin—but it’s still all about Yoongi.

The more Jimin blinks, the more the blurriness over the alpha’s face clears. It comes with the barely-there itch of wetness over his eyelashes and cheeks, but there’s too much wet everywhere for it to be anything but negligible. So he squeezes his eyes shut and blinks sometimes and says too much.

“Yoongi,” Jimin definitely says, and a lot of alpha and a lot of begging when he doesn’t have to say please—doesn’t have to say anything for the alpha’s fingers to press deeper and more insistently inside.

He doesn’t need to say anything. Yoongi is there and as mortifying as it is—the smell and the tight work Jimin’s back and stomach and even his calves pull when it feels too hot and he squeals—it isn’t so mortifying that Jimin isn’t pressing up into it.

He’s pushing, insistently, into Jimin’s body and it already makes everything impossible to take but his alpha is growling lowly over his skin, saying—

“Come,” he can barely hear, after a hot and soft kiss against his stomach.

Jimin’s knees lock against Yoongi’s body when he does.

It feels hot and tight and it slips over his skin and down while the alpha's fingers still press and pump inside. Jimin's hips tighten and his body cramps and coming is—it's full.

It's long enough for Jimin to feel drips watery against his skin and to whine out enough "please," and "s’good—Yoon—Alpha" and even to open his eyes, watch the blur of tears clear, and see Yoongi's eyes on him with enough intensity to make Jimin's body seize up around the fingers inside over again.

He drops pathetically when it's over. His back is sticky and wet on the sheets.

Yoongi is murmuring—a mix of growling and rumbling and soft tones that Jimin can't place properly, but he's making out a lot of consonants and a lot of gentle words that make the little peach fuzz over Jimin's skin raise. His heartbeat jumps, even if the meaning won't quite register.

Jimin doesn't say anything, doesn't make any sound until the relief fades and fever sets in over his skin again, like a reminder. He whines at that, another sound.

The alpha moves up, over Jimin’s body, supports himself with one hand on either side of Jimin’s shoulders. Jimin can see the alpha’s pale skin on both sides of his peripheral. He looks directly into Jimin’s eyes.

For a short moment, Yoongi’s focus flickers back and forth between Jimin’s eyes. Not looking for anything out of him, but making such a deep eye contact that makes a fluttery nerve strike up and prickle the back of his neck. The look Yoongi gives him, with eyebrows lowered but only serious and heavy, makes Jimin’s gut twist and his rush rise a little higher.

Even with all the fever striking up, the alpha makes Jimin feel like he’s still the one Yoongi stared after in his workroom.

“Yoongi,” Jimin says quietly. His voice cracks. He paws into the alpha's hair when his fine motor skills aren't quite up to reaching individually for the piece that hangs handsomely over Yoongi’s eyes.

There’s an expression of debate that passes over Yoongi’s features, even beneath all the rigidity in his face and in his body. Jimin doesn’t know what the dilemma is about until Yoongi’s eyes flicker downward and his hand rests on Jimin’s cheek.

“I can come back to clean you here,” he rumbles.

His fingertips are pressing gently into Jimin’s jawline. If Jimin’s head falls to the side a little too far for the pressure the alpha’s hand gives, then the fever is to blame.

“Don’t—” Jimin presses his lips against Yoongi’s wrist. He swallows dryly. He wants to stay in bed, wrapped up in the furs, no matter what state they’re in.

"It has to happen soon," the alpha hints.

Because of the heat, Jimin’s mind fills in.

Yoongi’s ringer traces over his eyebrow. Jimin whines, frustrated. He doesn’t know what he wants to say, settling to whisper that Yoongi should take him with—

“—or stay,” Jimin adds weakly.

More of that contemplating expression, until Yoongi nods, maybe at himself more than Jimin.

Heat doesn’t seem to be too deterred by an orgasm. All Jimin can focus on when Yoongi pulls him up, out of bed, and into his arms—with the sheet tacked to Jimin’s body—is on the alpha’s neck.

He drags his lips over as much of his scent gland as he can, up and down the column of Yoongi’s neck, over the little scar behind his ear, until the grip on him tightens and there’s a rumbling growl that promises the kind of trouble Jimin wants to get into.

Before Jimin can press, he’s sitting over one of the towels in the room, the one that drapes over the free counter space. Yoongi pulls back jerkily enough that Jimin knows his alpha doesn’t want to leave.

“We’ll sleep soon,” Yoongi promises. He’s ringing the water out of a rag in the sink beside Jimin.

Jimin fists into the soft towel by his legs. The fibers are less processed and don’t stick up the way he’s used to, but the texture isn’t disconcerting when he has other priorities.

“I don’t want to sleep,” Jimin whines quietly, toeing against the cabinets where the drawers protrude.

Yoongi throws his head back with a groan. Jimin wants to giggle.

But he just carefully runs the cloth over Jimin’s face and body. Jimin's focus is going progressively downhill; he sits and lets the blank sugary feeling overtake him.

“I’ll give you something before you sleep, then,” Yoongi acquiesces. He’s turned towards the sink, picking up the toothbrushes standing in the old chipped mug on the counter.

It sounds promising, so Jimin nods eagerly and complies with the little routine. He's thankful that the alpha isn’t forcing a bath on him; the honey feeling seeping into his bones feels equal parts something foreign and something like drowsiness.

The process of sitting on the bathroom counter while Yoongi cleans over Jimin and then himself is a quick one, but even still Jimin can't do much aside from plaster himself to his alpha's front when he's taken back to bed.

When they settle down, it's everything Jimin and his instincts could have asked for—skin to skin, Yoongi pressing kisses to his lips, nuzzling his forehead and his neck—and Jimin arches into it and tries to relax into Yoongi's body. Exhaustion has settled over his joints and his mind, but his lower body doesn't seem to cooperate.

So much for the sleeping: the sheets are too itchy, and not even the scent can soothe him. Jimin curls into Yoongi's arms, wrings his fingers against the man's chest and twists his back and hips to find comfort, but inevitably stops, feeling hot and uncomfortable. It feels like internal heat, like Jimin still needs more somehow.

He takes a shy peek upward. Yoongi has settled a mug that smells like spice and stabilizer on his side of the bed, and he's reaching for Jimin, who whines before Yoongi's hands are on him.

"More," Jimin tries, and fumbles a leg over the alpha's hips.

He doesn't quite make it to sit straight on top of Yoongi. He knows he isn’t in heat, knows that it's close but it's only enough to make him grind sleepily on the alpha's lower stomach and inch back, over where he can feel the rise press deliciously, but he still wants something. Still feels honey in his body and on Yoongi's skin, in the hands that glide deliberately up his spine.

The hand that isn't dancing over Jimin's upper body slips down too along his spine, teases along his lower back, and lower still to slide into his entrance until Jimin pitches forward in an arch and a whine of Yoongi's name.

He doesn’t get much time to rut back on Yoongi’s fingers.

"Look how pretty," the alpha murmurs, right before his fingers grip over the skin at the back of Jimin's neck.

There's a tension that builds, snaps, and melts right with Jimin right along Yoongi's body. Jimin realizes that Yoongi has scruffed him.

He ends up pressed along the alpha's side while Yoongi rumbles a low croon into his ear. Jimin's eyes slide shut and limbs fall loose and his scent gland feels swollen. His skin slips wetly over Yoongi's fingers inside.

Drowsily, he murmurs Yoongi's name again. The sugar that slips under his skin feels thick and syrupy, slow in its movement and tingly as opposed to hot.

The alpha only shushes him. Content in the calm and the halt of the cramping in his stomach, Jimin freezes and relaxes into the sheets. He persuades himself that a little rest is fine, even if the comfort of the scent and the pheromones mean nothing but sleep.





Jimin should have predicted the feeling of heat. Like he had always known it would, heat feels like fire held just close enough to curl over his skin.

Waking up in heat is more than fever, more than sweating and slicking into the sheets, and more than even the gut-wrinkling pains—it’s everything Jimin had expected going in and different only in the severity he couldn’t have considered.

Even more than all of the physical pain—the pain that locks his joints and makes his entire body feel useless—heat is the fuzzy unaware feeling of pheromones and waking up with a jolt in the wet sheets and needing.

But Jimin is learning that heat is also Yoongi all around, in the scent of the ruined furs, and even inside Jimin.

Yoongi growls beside Jimin when he clenches around the alpha's fingers, still inside from sleep.

His lower body feels independent of the rest of his body—he clenches around Yoongi's fingers, even while the rest of him feels like hot lead weighed down to the mattress.

The first sound Jimin hears is the drawn-out and sickly-sounding moan he shouts into the sheets. He can feel Yoongi's fingers stretching and pushing deep into him even before the alpha is over him.

The bedding shifts with the squirming and with Yoongi’s body pressing over Jimin’s. The part solely concerned with satisfying Jimin's needs for full and fuck isn't at all pleased with the jostling of Yoongi's fingers inside. But the alpha never leaves him empty—which keeps Jimin's whining from turning into an outright hiss of pain.

Yoongi will take care of him, Jimin thinks with absolute certainty, right before Yoongi reaches behind and grips tensely at the skin behind Jimin's neck.

The white that settles over only fades the red heat, but it's enough for Jimin to move. The cramps are calm enough for Jimin to spread his legs. Yoongi's nails over Jimin's right hip scratch little pinpricks.

"Please," Jimin chokes.

He knows it isn't rational. Jimin is crying and seeing a lot of blur and a lot of pheromones and Yoongi when he begs for it and digs into Yoongi's skin with the blunt of his nails.

"Park Jimin," Yoongi growls, like it's his curse and byword.

Jimin's entire body shakes beneath him. His hands are useless in the sheets while Yoongi's cover his entire body.

The hardest part of heat might be, he thinks—might be feeling Yoongi's cock against his body, near his own cock, still inside the fabric of the pants Yoongi had slept in but straining until Jimin hips jerk and he whines and Yoongi leans back—and he inhales, hissing.

Jimin watches the hand withdraw from his stomach, watches the alpha's head tilt back and his jaw flex when Yoongi folds over the waistband of his pants and pulls the flushed shaft of his cock out.

Jimin whines and feels his throat go dry with the sound. The alpha’s dark head hangs so close over his body that he can see how much the base of Yoongi’s knot dwarfs Jimin’s cock.

He licks his lips right as Yoongi ducks back down.

Jimin is—messy, wet, but mostly pliant when his alpha kisses him. There's a lot of feeling; feeling of Yoongi's mouth over his and ducking to press over the oil of Jimin's scent gland agitatedly. Even then Yoongi has the control: controls the way Jimin's back arches, controls the hot feeling of his between his legs when he presses against Yoongi's cock and stomach.

His alpha, he repeats in some kind of heat fog, and even without the bite or any of the permanence, feeling swells up and makes him grip at whatever he can.

He whines Yoongi’s name, cries, kisses Yoongi, and whines for more even while the alpha presses sweet words and little croons over his skin.

The assurance that Yoongi will take care of him goes as an insinuation. Jimin puts every bone into being as pliant as he can, even when he can feel Yoongi’s heat on him and feel Yoongi between his legs and when he can hear the hiss of an exhale Yoongi pulls between his teeth—

“Please,” he begs between all the panting and the crying.

Yoongi’s fingers are moving—Jimin’s fingers are gripping and they’re wet. They’re covered in slick and they’re slippery and sticky on any of Yoongi’s skin he can reach.

“I’m—need—’m wet,” he gasps and reaches, doesn’t know and pulls—“Inside, feel good, inside ‘m wet—”

Yoongi’s cock is pressing and it’s so hot and slick and Jimin wants his knot enough to arch his back and his neck until it strains but it’s all shown off for the alpha.

He isn't sure whether he makes a sound or if he's caught silent with an open mouth when Yoongi presses into him.

Teeth dig into his neck and Yoongi’s mouth presses to Jimin’s scent gland.

Beneath the entirely base and instinctual thought that he's finally going to feel full, Jimin realizes that he's the closest he has ever been to being Yoongi's mate. The thought makes his stomach drop in a way that isn't only feverish. The feeling that stirs up is equal parts desperate and warm.

But Yoongi is there through the haze of heat. Jimin feels Yoongi and he's hissing into Jimin's neck and shoulder as he moves forward, and the beat of his heart is erratic under Jimin's palm even while Jimin whines and squirms as close as he can.

Even hissing and even growling, Yoongi's hand is gentle. He's brushing the sweaty black strands from over Jimin's eyes, looking nearly as overwhelmed as Jimin feels.

Jimin whimpers through the feeling of progressively becoming fuller, of feeling too full, of the stretch that he still cries for when he can feel the slick slipping around Yoongi's cock and dribbling down over his skin.

He hadn't imagined the feeling but, it has his head dropping. His body shakes under the alpha's.

Yoongi only stops when Jimin feels too full inside, and almost too stretched at the entrance to take. He’s panting, shaking with the restraint and he's hissing against Jimin's shoulder and he's pulling back. He can't pull himself away from Jimin's neck without throwing his head back and looking almost tormented.

Jimin wonders what Yoongi must feel like, wonders what he thinks through the crease and fold in his brow. He wonders if it's anything like the full heat between Jimin's legs.

"What are you doing to me?" He's drawing in every breath with a hiss.

Jimin's hand curls against his chest, gripping for bearance into the material of a shirt that isn't there.

He tries for words; he babbles out pathetic whines. He can see the dark look in Yoongi's eyes grow a little when the alpha grabs Jimin's chin.

"Park Jimin," he growls against Jimin's lips. "Bare for me."

He tangles their fingers together, warm in the matted furs, and moves forward until Jimin's crying is caught in a hiccup in his throat.

Jimin had tried to grind more of himself onto Yoongi's cock even though the alpha's restrained movement fucks into Jimin deeper than he could have given himself. The curve of Yoongi's neck is hot under Jimin's hands when he has to wrap his hands around it.

Just before Jimin can paw weakly at the back of the alpha's neck to secure the grip he needs, Yoongi grips at his wrist.

He's pulling Jimin's hand back and up to himself until it curves feebly against Yoongi's skin. He holds it there, even when Jimin is too overwhelmed with the feeling in his lower body to keep tension in his fingers.

Jimin can see Yoongi's lips curl around the snarl that rips from his throat when he fucks forward into Jimin's body farther. He's still holding himself over Jimin even pressing Jimin’s fingers to his neck.

Jimin blinks until the wetness in his eyes spills over.

“Please,” he whines. It sounds weak even as much as Jimin tries to ignore it.

Yoongi plants his hand along with the other in the furs. Jimin can see the tension of Yoongi's forearms on either side of his peripheral.

The line of his shoulders is tense and corded and Jimin can see where the light slips over the different curves of his collarbones and chest when he inhales shakily, but he isn't—he doesn't move, not until Jimin arches from the stretch and whines a mix of begging but also—

"Inside," he chokes again. And his alpha is inside, is making Jimin feel so full, but it's all he can manage.

“You feel so good,” Yoongi growls, and fucks into Jimin.

With Yoongi’s hand no longer over Jimin's, Jimin's hand drops against the mattress. The end of Yoongi’s scar peeks from the curve of his neck where Jimin’s fingers had pulled back.

The details of it all are blurred: the sound of the bedframe digging into the wall, what might be the dull slip of blankets hitting the floor from the mattress, and the more periodic and slow wet slip of Yoongi’s cock inside. Even while the burning over Jimin's skin keeps his mind focused purely on taking, Jimin can't focus on anything but need and full.

He says so much and moves so much but he can't see anything past the sheen on their bodies—on Yoongi's body, over his shoulders and the arms on each side of Jimin and over Jimin's body where he twists and writhes up into Yoongi.

Jimin feels small and fucked. He takes it—Yoongi is the one who fucks into him, who fills Jimin up with his cock in slow and hotly inside.

Jimin slurs out a mess of consonants and “Full.”

But he isn’t embarrassed. He wants and he’s every bit pathetic and he needs but Yoongi growls into Jimin’s skin and fucks Jimin full of his cock. So good Jimin can see the flex and the strain in his body and the sheen over his alpha’s skin in between tears and shutting his eyes when the feeling is—it’s too good.

It’s wet in the pheromones between them, the tight feeling in his body, the heat, but even then—he’s shameless and needy and his voice cracks every time Yoongi fucks a little deeper.

Maybe he’d feel some sort of pride or smugness in being with Min Yoongi if he weren’t crying for the alpha’s cock.

Jimin feels very unaware and very full. The frame slams into the wall at a pitch that Jimin can’t ignore and Jimin is—Jimin is loud. His throat burns badly enough to match the fever. The heat is considerate enough to filter out those squeals in favor of the snarl Yoongi presses against Jimin’s scent gland.

Jimin knows that his eyes widen when he realizes what he wants—he cries when Yoongi finally marks him. Like the first time, the first kiss—not enough to bite and to give the base omegean part of Jimin what he really wants, but enough to make him shudder and go still.

It’s wet, wet, wet, Jimin thinks. Wet every time Yoongi fucks in.

Jimin needs his alpha, he thinks. Needs the hot feeling in Yoongi gives his cock and the alpha’s knot too, and the wet fuck.

Jimin has so many needs. Yoongi takes care of them all.

Jimin comes—he squeezes and arches and has some perception of Yoongi snarling, of the kissing over his neck turning into harsh nips—bites, not right depth—into the curve of Jimin’s shoulder. Jimin’s face is pressed as far as he can stretch and present it into the sheets.

His neck strains with the stretch and the pull every time Yoongi fucks into him with—with his knot, Jimin realizes, drooling into the sheets. Yoongi’s cock is swelling and stretching his rim and pressing almost numbingly deep.

Even through the absolute high, the mind-numbing fullness, Jimin is still shocked—

“Can’t stop,” Yoongi rasps against his neck. His knot still fucks inside Jimin in barely-controlled jolts.

Jimin moans; he grinds against Yoongi’s knot until the alpha holds Jimin’s legs down to do it himself.






Jimin doesn't know how he ends up taking the alpha's cock in the hallway. It's restrained, as if his alpha knows how sore he really is.

Jimin himself doesn’t know.

"Deep'r," he drools. The wood presses against his cheek.

The snarl from behind and the cock stretching him wide feel like an automatic response.

He can't imagine a reason why he would have left the bedroom in the first place, and he knows he hasn’t without some sort of coercion, because something bodily wants Yoongi to drag him back into the bedroom and fuck him into the blankets and the sheets.

Jimin wouldn’t have left the bedroom at all if any of it were under his control. Yoongi doesn’t want to leave either: Jimin can feel it in the claws digging against his hips. The bedroom satisfies all of Jimin's needs, or at least the ones he wants to take care of. Less important things—bathing, and eating—can wait.

But thinking about anything but the heat is impossible. Jimin thinks about maybe sucking on Yoongi's knot, pressing his lips against the fat wet swell of the base and tasting his own slick there and then—then it's about watching the in and out of Yoongi's cock inside stretching him.

Jimin presses his forehead into the floor until his skin feels like it might numb and takes. Yoongi likes the stretch in his neck, the base part of Jimin thinks, and he's rewarded when the alpha takes the back of his neck between his teeth in a lingering nip that mimics a scruff. His hands, too occupied to pull the skin of Jimin's neck, are planted wide and veined on either side while he fucks into Jimin's body.

Regardless, the proximity of the alpha's teeth to scent gland reminds Jimin dangerously of a bite.

When Jimin looks down and under himself, craning his neck against Yoongi's hold and Yoongi's faint but reluctant growl of allowance, Jimin can't see much. He can blurrily make out the lines of his own spread legs, the jerking little movements when he's forced a bit over the floor with each thrust, and his own cock, but also the syrupy slip and plop of slick that hits the floor when Yoongi thrusts in.

The slick only dribbles in a sad little puddle right behind little streaks of come over the floor. Jimin feels a very distant surprise seeing he has already come there once.

He watches it all while his body jerks over the floor a little, digging but not uncomfortably for all Yoongi’s restraint. He watches until he comes again—it shocks him, hot and drawn out and even a little uncomfortable with overstimulation—and his neck straightens for a full view of the floor again when his chest hits the ground. It’s a scramble to straighten out, tense, and take.

“Plea-Pluh,” it falls flat out of Jimin’s mouth. Yoongi’s knot is swelling and stretching Jimin’s hole, stretching Jimin, who has come however many times, delirious with the fever but feeling so full—

The bite on his neck tightens until it stings. Jimin wishes, fleetingly, that Yoongi could taste iron.

The knot locks them together. Jimin’s body spasms and the familiarity of feeling the hot wet inside—actually able to feel, as unrealistic as it would have seemed before the heat, and to hear it even drip out, seep out of the seal between their bodies, with an audible plop to the rest of his slick and come.

He wonders how many times he might have come just in the hallway. The knowledge that Yoongi gives him what he needs, gives Jimin his knot even when Jimin can only beg pathetically for it and cry through the heat is—it’s what Jimin wants. Jimin’s head, when he focuses and really tries to think about it, feels fuzzy and full like the rest of his body.

“Mine,” Jimin thinks he croaks out, and squeals when Yoongi fucks into him with and throughout his knot.






Yoongi must have been trying to get him to eat by luring him towards the kitchen. Jimin learns this because he ends up in the bathtub next while the alpha tries to feed him.

Jimin shakes his head against the food at his lips until the fever makes his head feel a bit light. He taps his fingers against the edge of the tub, instead, and whines.

Yoongi sets the food—Jimin doesn’t have the attention span to pay attention to what it is in detail—back onto the bathroom countertop, and while even instinct-driven Jimin knows he’ll have to take a bite before Yoongi will let him back into the bedroom, he thinks he can get what he wants another way.

“Yoongi.” His throat feels a little bit thick with the need and the crying from being fucked in the hallway, but Yoongi’s eyes snap to Jimin’s all the same.

He’s adjusting the temperature of the water even when his gaze drips down over Jimin’s neck and down further. Jimin leans forward until his nipples press against the cold porcelain, and purrs when that puts a jolt in the movement of Yoongi’s eyes.

Something base in Jimin just likes when Yoongi so much as looks at him.

The alpha clears his throat. He’s holding a mug in his hand, and the scent that wafts toward Jimin smells familiarly of a stabilizer. Jimin doesn’t remember it particularly clearly, but he knows that Yoongi has been drinking them wherever possible.

“Can I help you?” Yoongi asks, low and not at all impatient but very attentive.

Jimin wants to bat the nasty thing out of the alpha’s hands. He wants all of Yoongi’s attention.

Instead, he licks his lips and taps his fingers over the edge of the tub again, invitingly. He doesn't say anything, just tilts his head and looks pliantly at Yoongi's hands.

“Jimin.” His tone and his expression are warning enough for Jimin to curl in, although the heat is enough to push forward.

"Get in," he says shyly. The hot water doesn't feel anything like the heat under his skin, though, and he sounds a little breathy. Jimin figures he can blame it on the steam and the limerence.

"Get in," Yoongi repeats a little dubiously, sitting back on his feet. Jimin doesn't look at Yoongi until his fingers, dipped in the tub, trace Jimin's naked thigh.

The touch might feel hotter than being in the tub itself, but it doesn’t inspire much confidence. Jimin feels halfway between being feverish and being caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

He knows Yoongi can see through him; the problem is getting what he wants, despite that.

He gives Jimin a once over, and Jimin does the same. Yoongi's hair is wild and he clutches his mug with the veiny hand that isn't draped over Jimin's on the tub. Jimin pants a bit and pouts and shifts and feels empty and needy, just from looking at Yoongi.

"Come inside," Jimin whines. He thinks about how one meaning could blend into the next.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. Jimin curls in on himself.

“How about a deal?” He’s rumbling low in the back of his throat. Jimin props his chin on the edge of the tub and digs his chin against it twice in a nod. It must be entertaining somehow—a tiny smile passes over the corners of Yoongi’s lips, even with all the hormones scenting up the small space.

He pinches the bridge of Jimin’s nose softly and reaches for the counter again. Jimin wants to groan.

“Eat, and we’ll see,” Yoongi says. The plate is in his hands.

“We’ll see?” He feels bratty to complain, but the words rush out before he can stop them. He blames the heat again.

Instead of replying, Yoongi presses food forward until it brushes his lower lip. It makes Jimin’s nose wrinkle.

He nibbles gingerly at the bread before the nausea can persuade him otherwise.

But Yoongi is untying the drawstring of the pants he’d thrown on—at some point, maybe before pulling Jimin into the bathroom; he doesn’t remember—which is encouraging enough and helps to ease the nausea. Nothing about the symptoms are related, but the rise and fall of Jimin’s stomach goes a little easier all the same, and when Yoongi slips into the hot water across from Jimin, he has no complaints in swallowing.

There’s a dull splashing sound when Jimin crosses to sit over Yoongi’s lap. The alpha is already pumping soap into his palm, as if Jimin actually has any intention of a straight-laced bathing.

“Closer,” he purrs quietly, right as he sits over Yoongi’s upper thighs.

Yoongi’s hands run the suds over Jimin’s torso and back. Jimin squirms farther up Yoongi’s body, and those hands go straight to Jimin’s stomach.

Interest ticks over Yoongi’s face and body. His thumbs sweep over Jimin’s stomach in broad strokes, not quite circles but cyclical and focused. When Jimin touches shyly at the alpha’s jaw, Yoongi’s face relaxes into the touch. His eyebrows are still pinched, though.

Jimin can feel how hard the alpha is under him; it makes him shiver, and makes him grind.

He feels like he’s seeing a sliver of what the alpha must be like when he isn’t holding back; the hands on Jimin’s body are moving faster, arcing over more skin, and his the plane of his chest jerks just the slightest with uneven breathing. Jimin thinks he might’ve been able to pull Yoongi all the way under with him, but right when their skin slips together in a way that must feel too good, it stops.

Yoongi’s grip goes stiff on his waist. The sound he makes is caught halfway between a moan and a growl.

“Knot,” Jimin whines anyways. It’s not hard to rut with Yoongi pressing between his asscheeks and up against his hole. “Need it.”

Yoongi hisses, jerks his hips up and forces himself to relax, and hisses again, “You’re making me crazy,” until the bath water splashes audibly.

The expression on Yoongi’s face is satisfying to Jimin, who feels like he might be misbehaving. It’s tension but—there’s a relaxation there in the muscles around his eyes, a tensing again, caught between growling and panting.

Jimin feels the way Yoongi breathes even in the water. Steam tickles little pricks at his skin, but it’s easy to ignore in the heat. He drags his hands over Yoongi’s body—over his chest, and over the lean muscle between his neck and shoulders, and even over his nipples, although the reaction there is stifled at most—feeling every bit like the cat who got the cream.

The water slips between Jimin’s fingers and against the porcelain rim of the tub when he tries to find a grip. Yoongi supports his waist and his back but Jimin wants to struggle on his own—wants to find the slicking and swollen tip of the alpha’s cock. When Jimin finally sinks down, Yoongi’s growl feels like the water rippling up Jimin’s spine.

Yoongi’s head drops back against the bathroom wall with a sound that would seem painful if not for the look on his face. Jimin’s giggle cuts off into a moan.

“‘S good,” is all he can say. Yoongi’s hips are twitching and even jerking a bit.

He’s prodding at all the sensitivity inside, even still as he tries to stay—Jimin plants one hand over Yoongi’s shoulder and the other over the alpha’s own hand, in a tense white grip over the edge of the tub.

Jimin can hear the low rumble out of Yoongi’s chest right with his own moan.

“Be careful,” Yoongi rasps, but his hips twitch up under Jimin regardless.

“No,” Jimin breathes. The blush rides hot over his cheeks from the fever and the embarrassment anyways.

The alpha’s nails scratch lightly at Jimin’s hips under the water when he grinds forward.

The expression the alpha gives Jimin is too full of control and restraint and a promise to take away whatever fake power Jimin might hold—or real power, power over Yoongi, maybe. He looks like Jimin could ask something from him. Jimin thinks that he could maybe ask for anything.

“You like me,” Jimin slurs. Heat rides high on his face.

Yoongi’s eyes move back and forth between Jimin’s in steady flickers. He doesn’t even nod, just looks at Jimin, who feels shy in his understatement but hot with the heat. It’s too much contradiction; he throws his head back to show it off and keeps rocking.

Nails keep scratching lightly beneath the water. It’s surprisingly gentle considering all the tension in his arms and even in what Jimin can feel from his palms. He thinks about the translucent look of Yoongi’s wet skin, too, and the feel of it on him and the full feeling inside.  

Or maybe it’s the heat that makes him think one way or another. His brain feels foggy, steaming up like the little wisps over the water.

Fingers press up over Jimin’s jawline and over his lips. They’re already open from panting; Yoongi’s skin slips against his tongue.

The rocking sounds of the water are even with the pace Jimin keeps. Having the sound and the reflection right there, distorted in the water and echoing in the room—Jimin shivers.

“I’m yours,” Yoongi says very seriously. Jimin’s shiver persists trailing hot to the base of his spine.

Jimin slurs “Mine,” pathetically around the digit. He has to swallow when the second enters.

The sound of the water jerks and jolts when the alpha straightens up. His stomach flexes against Jimin’s.

Yoongi’s forehead is pressed against his. “You’re…”

But he brushes Jimin’s hair back from his forehead. His mouth tastes like salt and Jimin wants all of it, feels best with both arms wrapped around the alpha’s neck and their chests pressed together.

The stretch at his entrance and inside is starting to feel like the stretch Jimin wants—he leans in further through the stretch in his back.

Yoongi’s growling into the kiss before Jimin’s stomach brushes his skin. His hands have moved from the tub, from Jimin’s hips, from Jimin’s face—they’re over his stomach again, pressing flat and wide.

Yoongi growls—

“You’re—” But he doesn’t finish. The growl is caught in his throat and the water splashes up Jimin’s back.

Jimin feels the grip and feels the turn—hears the water move—but surprise is still dulled when he finds himself opening his eyes to the white porcelain of the tub.

The alpha is growling into the back of his neck. He’s snarling something about his limit and Jimin’s name but his fingers still slide through Jimin’s and over the rim of the tub—and Yoongi’s knot keeps stretching Jimin, pressing in sugary and deep and full with a friction that Jimin drools for.

There’s no time to think about how quickly the alpha had turned him onto his stomach, even in the slippery bath—and the water keeps splashing, spilling over the edge with sharp slaps against the tile, until the knot locks and Jimin’s own squirming and scrambling forces more water out of the tub.

The water level keeps lowering, but their bodies slip further into the bath, and Jimin slips further under the pheromones.






Jimin eventually loses focus.

“Want—want a knot,” Jimin sobs.

They’re back on the bed. His focus is entirely tuned into Yoongi and into the feeling of Yoongi’s knot stretching his hole wide, and into all the come he’s losing where it seeps out and drips over Jimin’s legs. Jimin had pressed his fingers very insistently to prevent as much as possible from leaking. He’d tried to lick Yoongi’s knot, before, but the alpha had fucked him with it instead.

The alpha’s thumb brushes under his eye tenderly. It comes back with the sticky white of come on it.

Jimin doesn’t care about coming, although he does. He thinks maybe it feels good sometimes but mostly he thinks about his alpha’s come inside as deeply as possible and about not losing any of it.

“Knot,” he cries.

Yoongi’s knot is inside but it’s—Jimin doesn’t have the focus to really know. He’s used to passing out during the knot but Yoongi isn’t fucking into him with his knot at the moment. He’s holding Jimin down.

His alpha had pulled out his knot and Jimin does not want that. “Mine,” Jimin says into the mattress. His voice cracks and is shrill from crying, not speaking. “‘S my knot.”

The alpha growls and Jimin thinks he’ll get a knot but Yoongi is moving back and it pulls and Jimin wants to sob. Yoongi fucks into Jimin, then, and reaches around and presses his hands over Jimin’s stomach like he has been for some time and Jimin pushes back into it.

He’s wet for Yoongi and he’s taking Yoongi’s knot, he thinks. He’s Yoongi’s and he’s in Yoongi’s space and he’s taking.

“My knot,” Jimin murmurs.






Yoongi

 

Jimin is the most precious thing he’s ever seen. He looks just as pretty over Yoongi’s lap.

“Uh-uhn,” he whines, grips at Yoongi and around Yoongi, and cries pretty little wet tears that the less controlled part of Yoongi wants to lick.

But he’s not willing to move hands from Jimin’s hips and stomach. It’s not a slip—he knows his thoughts are clear and he knows he can clearly see the sweet little flush over Jimin’s cheeks and neck. He’s just sweet and lying pliant in Yoongi’s bed. As an alpha, Yoongi has never felt so untroubled.

Jimin’s slick neck smells so good against Yoongi’s mouth. It nearly makes for a slip.

The column of the omega’s neck is slick and shiny when Jimin turns it. His fever wants a knot.

It’s the end of the second day and the heat had been long, even for what Yoongi knows of a first heat. Breeding fever is starting to bud in Jimin’s expression. Yoongi can see it in his wet lips and his “mine, mine, mine,” each time the bed frame digs into the wall.

Mine,” Jimin says while he comes.

Yoongi nearly says it back but bites down on the growl until he tastes blood. He wonders a little desperately if Jimin has ever wanted him to say the words back.

Jimin looks like he wants to be Yoongi’s. He takes every opportunity to present and there’s no part of his body that shows resistance. Yoongi licks over Jimin’s lips and his scent gland and all the slick skin exposed to him. He could bite into the narrow width of Jimin’s shoulders and he could nip at the pup’s little pink nipples, but he won’t fall into the breed mindset himself. Jimin’s face is pink, though, and his eyebrows are pinched and his lips are wet wet around Yoongi’s knot, with him, with Yoongi—

Mine , Yoongi almost says. Stabilizer sits acidic but necessary in the base of his stomach.

“Yoongi,” he’s gasping. He’s twisting his tiny little fingers into Yoongi’s hair and into the sheets when exhaustion hits. “Al—Yoongi.”

Yoongi feels gone in what’s presented to him, grinding down into Jimin and feeling everything slick and hot between them.

But Jimin has tiny little fingers that curl with white knuckles. He has a sweet mouth that he lets Yoongi kiss, of anyone he could want.

Thinking about how Jimin deserves the best isn’t a new thought or a negotiable one but the part that rational Yoongi really thinks about—how Jimin is too good to do what he wants to do, to press Jimin down on his back and wrap his legs around Yoongi’s hips.

“Insi—knot, my knot.” Jimin is rutting on his knot in short little jolts. Yoongi can feel his body tightening up and could probably see how close he is to coming if he looked at Jimin’s stomach, at the skin stretching from hip bone to hip bone. Then he’s coming again: his knees are crooking and his whine breaks every time he’s close enough to Yoongi’s knot.

Yoongi notices the start of swell of his knot himself, at that point, and curses.

He can feel the itch and the clawing in his stomach. He knows that Jimin is too good, but he knows nothing is good enough, and he could slip thinking about anyone else. Can’t entertain the thought; looks at the dusty pinkish rise where Jimin’s nipples haven’t quite rubbed red from all the play. Yoongi wants to look at the dark flush of his little cock, too, but  he doesn’t trust the low sweeping feeling over his neck and shoulders.

His come sits over Jimin’s stomach, he knows, mixed with Jimin’s come and his slick from where Jimin had rolled over into the ruined sheets and held the cute curve of his bottom up for Yoongi. He has to bite back another growl, hold back the vibrating in his chest.

Yoongi knows that Jimin is not so shy. He reaches out for Yoongi and he has sugary little moans but he kicks his feet when he wants to come.

The swell of Yoongi’s knot is about to lock them together. Jimin’s neck is still exposed and Yoongi might have stood a chance if he hadn’t been writhing—up into Yoongi’s grip, brushing his stomach over Yoongi’s when his back arches. Yoongi considers biting into the sheets but it’s too close to Jimin’s neck.

Yoongi had been an idiot to think that the heat would give some kind of relief. Instead, he wants more of Jimin, like always. It might be a part of wanting Jimin. It might also be seeing the arch in his back, from covered in silk for performance to naked and wet in his bed.

Yoongi has played with his flushed little nipples and touched his entire body and pressed his mouth against Jimin’s neck. It’s more than he deserves.

He wants to mark Jimin so badly. He wants to tip up Jimin’s chin and see himself and all things Yoongi could build for him, but a good alpha would wait.

Yoongi can barely breathe and stay in control, even so far into the heat when he should have adjusted. The scent is sweet but it’s familiar and all of Yoongi’s urges to claim think it belongs to him.

“Yoongi,” Jimin sobs. He pulls at Yoongi’s fingers on his waist until their fingers are tangled, until Jimin has pulled Yoongi’s palms flat over his come and over Jimin’s stomach.

Yoongi’s vision goes white so quickly he wonders if he’s already slipped. So he grits his teeth and pulls back, bites the nails that grow thick and pointed until he can hear them break off.

Yoongi will never have any relief where Park Jimin is involved.






Jimin can’t see much of Yoongi with his ass over the alpha’s lap.

If he strains his neck—he’s already exhausted—he can see the definition of his stomach and his skinny but much broader frame. He can see the mess of the bedding around and he can smell the sex. He can also feel the slick still dripping, relentlessly, even after so much and so little Jimin can remember or process clearly.

Above all, Jimin can feel how roughly Yoongi’s fingers fuck into him.

“W’nna knot,” he slurs, and kicks his feet until Yoongi’s fingers press deeper and he can’t help but squeal.

It’s good and it’s more exhausting than anything Jimin has ever felt. His eyes feel a unique sort of itchy from having cried for so long and his lower body feels a little numb. Coming during a heat is a very necessary thing, Jimin has learned. He comes when he’s exhausted and doesn’t think he can anymore.

He comes and feels more slick around Yoongi’s fingers and deep inside, too. Jimin takes it all and twists in the sheets for more, begs for a knot, wants a knot while Yoongi snarls above him.

Jimin can’t move very much when he’s bent over the alpha’s lap. He can squirm when he comes and he can kick his feet but mostly he relaxes over Yoongi’s lap and looks at the floor and drools a bit onto it.

He doesn’t know why Yoongi won’t give him another knot. He’s hard and pressing against Jimin’s body and Jimin knows it feels good when he wriggles the right way against Yoongi because he presses Jimin’s body down with more force and fucks into him with a little more force. He growls, too, obscenities and little sweet things that Jimin is too fucked out to understand but still shivers from.

The hand that isn’t making Jimin come is gripping around Jimin’s hips at his stomach. Nails dig long and blunt into his skin. Jimin’s itch is starting to fade: he doesn’t know if it’s from the little scratches that have been developing or from the possibility of heat fading.

“‘Ngi,” Jimin slurs. “Yoongi—knot—knot—please—”

That itch won’t go away. Jimin doesn’t think it will even after the heat.

Long nails dig into Jimin’s hip bone some more. Most of the tension is in Yoongi’s actual grip. Jimin wants his alpha to use it and fuck into him.

Yoongi waits until Jimin is close to coming. Jimin mostly feels too much to really tell but he knows when Yoongi’s fourth finger curls inside and stretches just a little bit like his knot because it stays. Rubs like Yoongi’s knot.

“So pretty,” Yoongi says, and Jimin can feel the last hints of embarrassment dredging up in his stomach. “Prettiest omega.”

Pretty, Jimin mumbles, probably out loud. He ruts back until the stickiness between his legs and Yoongi’s thigh feels more wet than tacky. “‘S full,” he whines. “W’nna bite.” Wants Yoongi to know.

The knot stays, or at least Jimin’s perception of one. Satiation slips down Jimin’s spine and rather than tensing, his body drips even more bonelessly over Yoongi’s lap.

Yoongi’s scent comes just slightly closer to Jimin; the alpha’s lips press against the back of his neck.

Jimin remains entirely limp while the alpha presses kisses over the back of his neck. The base part of him feels satisfied at the hot press over the back of his neck, curling down into the oily patches of Jimin’s scent glands on either side, and back towards the knot of his spine.

He thinks that his own shaking legs might be the only movement he makes until Yoongi groans, full of rumble, and barely tickles Jimin’s neck with the scrape of his teeth.

Immediately, Jimin recognizes that it’s not the nip he’s used to.

Jimin’s entire body holds lax aside from all that seizes up internally, and maybe the twitch of his foot or a shaky breath—he holds as still as possible in Yoongi’s grip, eyes wide but not really seeing the grain of the hardwood floor.

The only sound Jimin can hear for the long beat of pause is his heartbeat in his ears. For a second he wonders if he’s missed it, if he might not have felt the slide of teeth into the back of his neck or over his scent glands in the crook between his neck and shoulder.

Instead, all he can hear is Yoongi’s growl before he jerks back, jostling his fingers inside of Jimin.

Everything falls limp again, and finally, so do Jimin’s eyelids.






Jimin wakes up feeling like everything has fallen into its contented place, except for his body, which feels extremely fucking sore.

The room is still bright but not so much that opening his eyes is difficult. The light is still filtered grey, but when Jimin protests against the soreness in his core to look up over Yoongi’s chest in front of him, he can see that there’s a brighter patch of sunlight creeping in. The snow level has melted significantly, but there’s still snow over the majority of the window.

“Up already?”

Jimin’s cheeks feel a little tighter. He looks down at Yoongi, who would seem perfectly at ease if not for the arm curled protectively around Jimin’s waist. He looks too good and too clean to have just spent… however long they’d spent, in filth.

Jimin nods, feeling acutely aware of what must be some awful morning breath. Or maybe late afternoon, by the looks of it.

“How do you feel?” Yoongi says lowly.

Jimin feels a little dazed just looking down at Yoongi. He looks at the unbleached sheets (suspiciously clean), over Yoongi’s torso where the blanket dips to show the waistband of pants he must have thrown on while Jimin slept, and at the very soft look in his eyes that makes Jimin feel very, very cared for.

“Really sore,” Jimin whispers, feeling the flush on his face, “but really good.”

It’s definitely the pheromones and the pillowtalk speaking for him, but Yoongi’s eyes look a little brighter. “Sounds promising,” he hums. His fingers are trailing over Jimin’s waist, tickling the skin there.

The bed smells like amber and heat. It tickles Jimin’s nose a little bit but makes the base of his spine tingle.

His nose must have twitched; the alpha pinches the bridge of his nose in the same way he had in the bathtub. The trigger for one memory brings back a slew of others, less clear than he’d like and far too mortifying.

“Are you a pup or a rabbit?” Yoongi teases.

Jimin is still coming to terms with his own embarrassment, so he shakes his head and whines a little.

As embarrassing as it is after the fact, Jimin feels happy to have Yoongi’s attention still on him and to be in his bed. The alpha presses a little kiss to the closer of Jimin’s two hands, nipping at his fingertips, and that makes Jimin melt.

It also makes Jimin think of another nip.

“Did you—” Jimin blurts.

But he shakes his head. He thinks about the feeling of Yoongi nearly nipping at the back of his neck, smells Yoongi’s scent in the moment, and backs down.

Yoongi doesn’t prompt him, though, just looks at him and holds his hand. It’s sufficiently flustering that Jimin can’t think of another question to ask fast enough to dodge the confrontation.

“I almost thought—” But that isn’t good enough either. Jimin wriggles against the sheets, feeling his toes brush cool material. “I feel silly,” he admits.

The alpha’s eyebrows raise. He looks briefly away from Jimin and back. “Not what I expected,” he mulls.

Jimin’s mouth drops open. “No, I meant—”

“—You meant?”

His expression is serious again. For a brief second, Jimin wants to whine and go back to the easiness of heat.

“I felt like,” he says carefully, “you wanted to bite me, in the end.”

Jimin can’t piece together the individual changes, but the alpha’s face changes just subtly enough that he knows they’re both thinking about the same moment, about Yoongi’s mouth at the back of his neck.

Yoongi’s finger twists a strand of Jimin’s hair behind his ear. His hand trails down over Jimin’s neck, to his scent gland.

“You’re right,” he rumbles. “I do.” 

Chapter Text

“I felt like,” he rumbles, “you wanted to bite me, in the end.”

His heart beats in his throat and in his ears.

“You’re right,” Yoongi rumbles. “I do.”

Jimin curls his fingers into the sheets. The present tense of the verb isn’t lost on him.

“You do?”

He doesn’t know why he’s looking for the reassurance; he can feel it between them. Yoongi’s eyes are so soft on his skin, softer than the furs which have to be ruined—his fingers trace up and down over Jimin’s scent gland.

“I do,” he repeats.

The hand over his neck is so warm.

It’s not any less worn from carpentry, but it’s soft, too. Jimin hasn’t had this very much before—he can count the times of such a calm feeling on his fingertips. He wonders if this is another part of the alpha, and if the stripped-down and giddy feeling of sparkling champagne is what it’s like when there’s nothing sparking up possessiveness, or conflict. He wonders if it’s something that he could have with the alpha long-term.

Jimin doesn’t even have the embarrassment to look down toward the sheets. The air isn’t stale or salted with sex but there’s the smell of them in the room, their scents.

Yoongi wants to bite him—it might mean he wants to be his mate. It should, if every overthinking part of Jimin’s mind would let him believe it.

If the alpha wants to be his mate—Jimin squeezes his eyes shut. He realizes that every physical part of him points to that. Jimin certainly doesn’t want be anyone else’s mate. There’s a lot to learn about Yoongi—there’s a lot for the alpha to learn about Jimin too, really—but he thinks Yoongi could be it, and he’s comfortable with saying so.

And Jimin thinks about it, about saying something. He thinks about what he should say, too—

But what can he say? Yoongi is warm and the sheets are soft against Jimin’s legs. More immediate needs are surfacing—the hunger in his stomach, the dryness of his throat, and what must be a very desperate need for a bath.

Or so he tells himself. He wants to tell Yoongi—so badly, now that the realization has hit—and he knows Yoongi, would accept him, but right as Jimin thinks he can say something, his stomach is growling audibly and the alpha laughs.

Yoongi still laughs when he leans forward to press a firm kiss to Jimin’s forehead that’s somehow just as soft as the rest of it all. It helps Jimin forget all about the disappointment in himself.

“Forever is a long time.” His hand is spread out over the back of Jimin’s neck now, cradling him. “Take yours.”

By the time Jimin has processed— take your time —he’s curling up against Yoongi’s side again. Curling, and stretching, stretching in the thoroughly ruined sheets and moving with Yoongi, who steps out of bed first. He already has a pair of soft pants thrown on, unfortunately; he must have woken up a long time before Jimin.

They take a long time before crawling out of bed. Yoongi is easy to go when he leaves first—Jimin’s body protests, at first movement. He’s ready to forget food and stay in bed, but then the alpha leans down and whispers promises of moving to the kitchen to make something.

Jimin knows, just from the way he says it, that the alpha fully intends to bring food back to Jimin in bed. But more than the desire to prolong the sheet sweetness of heat, Jimin isn’t ready to leave Yoongi’s side, not even within the safe space of Yoongi’s cabin—and being so far apart makes Jimin want to whine. It even brings a few ridiculous tears to his lashline.

So he ends up reaching out for the waistband of the soft pants the alpha wears. It doesn’t take much more than that to be scooped up in a pile of sheets and taken to the kitchen.

Yoongi does stop to grab a long-sleeved shirt that must have been shucked before the heat, though, which Jimin appreciates as they step out of the bedroom.

Clearly, some kind of cleaning must have been done to the space—the kitchen window has even been cracked an inch or two, letting crisp winter air in to clear out the open space. It also means that sitting down in the kitchen at the counter is a very, very cold process—Jimin is thankful to slip Yoongi’s shirt on when the alpha sets him down.

Yoongi fusses over him, too, making sure the collar of the shirt doesn’t poke at the suspiciously sore skin of his neck. He settles down the shirt sleeves, too, and wraps the blankets tighter around Jimin before pulling up a pan from the metal hooks over the stove.

Jimin watches him pull out ingredients and curls up in his chair warmly. His back aches something fierce, and he’s thankful he can sit without much more than the pain of a few days post a strenuous workout.

“I’ll start a fire once this is on the flame,” Yoongi says as he brings together more ingredients. He’s reaching for a mug, too, and he fills it with water from the basin.

“Sounds nice,” Jimin murmurs sleepily. “Bath?”

He definitely needs one. Yoongi might still look and smell like everything Jimin wants, mussed hair and all, but he doesn’t think the same magic applies to his own greasy bird’s nest.

“After you eat,” the alpha fills in. He smiles at Jimin over his shoulder, a small flash of crinkled eyes.

“Mhmm,” Jimin agrees. His eyelids droop, more out of morning warmth than any actual desire for sleep.

Yoongi is laying down something in the pan that sizzles when it hits the butter or the oil or—whatever it is the alpha had put down first. Jimin admittedly is watching less of what Yoongi puts into the pan and is more focused on the man himself.

He thinks, as he reaches for the cup of water in front of him, that he can imagine himself cooking for Yoongi. He definitely thinks he’d do it in the long term—maybe even in the short term.

“It seemed like a lot of the snow melted,” Jimin yawns.

More sizzling from the pan. “From what I saw, it’s melting and refreezing each night. Wet and compact.”

“Are we still stuck inside?”

Jimin can see Yoongi’s head shake—or really, the back of his head. “We didn’t have any more snowfall. The path I cleared is still there.”

So he really did need to take care of all that snow, Jimin realizes. Before the heat he’d mostly wondered if the alpha had really needed to. With his sense back, he reminds himself that a bit of daylight won’t melt off a few feet of snow.

But Jimin doesn’t know how much daylight the snow had seen.

“... How long?”

He sets down the empty mug on the counter. As if somehow automatically knowing the cup is empty, Yoongi reaches around to refill it.

He knows what Jimin is asking at.

“Three days,” he answers.

It hits Jimin with a shock first, but the more he looks—at the alpha’s bare shoulders, the flat of his stomach, and his back when Yoongi turns around—the more Jimin thinks he might understand.

“I see,” Jimin says quietly.

“The first heat is always long.” Yoongi must know how anxious the news makes Jimin feel.

First heats aren’t usually three days long, but Jimin is okay with being the outlier. It seems like he always is with Yoongi. It’s not unheard of, either—Jimin just doesn’t remember spending three days in Yoongi’s cabin. He remembers a few hours’ worth, like a compression of the time.

It makes him anxious, but not so much that Yoongi doesn’t still make him feel safe.

“You could check out the front window,” Yoongi offers. “There’s a minute or two left on this.”

He’s referring to the food, which smells so good that Jimin nearly considers waiting. But he’s also curious—admittedly wants to see some of the outside world again, just a safe peek from inside Yoongi’s home—so he clambers off his chair before Yoongi can carry him over to the window.

Peeking over the back of the couch, Jimin looks out over the deck off Yoongi’s front porch at all the snow. He can barely see the dip in the snow, where the deck must drop off. The branches are clearer; snow has fallen off pine branches into more massive piles.

Surprisingly, there aren’t many icicles at all—a few drop down from the roof, but there must not be very much heat loss in the cabin.

Jimin doesn’t know how much might have been blown up against the door, but when he childishly presses his face close against the window and looks out of the corner of his eye, there doesn’t look to be much at all. There’s a clear path through all the snow leading down from the porch, too, which must have been difficult to shovel with grass underneath.

He spends a few minutes, then, just staring at all the shimmering white. It’s almost entirely uninterrupted—a splotch of dark dots the hill in the short distance, but afternoon cloudy light drips and drizzles in little spots through the trees. Somehow, it doesn’t feel isolating—it’s comforting instead.

It might have to do with the smell from the kitchen, though: hot food, drifting towards him with a great smell partly from the cook, too. Jimin glances back and forth—food, window, food, window again—until something catches his eye, and tracks movement.

“Yoongi?” Jimin’s nose is close to the window again.

“Hmm?”

“Someone’s coming,” he comments. The little black smudge has broad shoulders, now, and it’s making slow progress down the hill.

Yoongi is at his side before he can hear the sounds of his footsteps—in character of him, Jimin thinks, but still no less surprising. Jimin watches his face: first plainly serious, but then with a mix of recognition.

“I don’t get many visitors,” the alpha says. The words are casual, but Jimin hears the stiffness in his voice.

“Who is it?” Jimin looks up at his clenched jaw.

“Looks like Jeongguk.”

Jimin’s eyebrows furrow. He’s primarily shocked that the alpha can make out who the figure is, but if it is Jeongguk, it isn’t like they aren’t close—yet Yoongi doesn’t seem very relieved.

“It’s all good then?” Jimin guesses.

Yoongi nods, but his shoulders are still squared. “I’m just not sure why he’s here after your heat,” he emphasizes.

The possessiveness might explain why his scent is already teasing Jimin again.

“Better to go and greet him,” Yoongi eventually decides. His fingers trail a hot path under Jimin’s chin when he pulls back.

“It’s cold outside,” Jimin protests quietly, for Yoongi’s sake. He knows just by the man’s tone that he doesn’t need to go.

“He won’t come onto the property,” Yoongi explains.

Jimin doesn’t ask why. He knows the way the area around the alpha’s house smells.

“Hope he isn’t too cold.” Jimin admittedly feels bad, watching through the window. Seeing the alpha climb so clumsily through all the snow has something motherly spiking up in him.

Yoongi turns to look directly at Jimin. He looks back to the window again, contemplating, and eventually sighs.

“I’ll wave him permission,” Yoongi murmurs. “We’ll see if that does any good.”

He’s already walking down the short hall toward the bedroom, and when he returns, a sweater is already falling down over his stomach. He’s moving quickly—he hasn’t even finished adjusting his shirt sleeves around his wrists before he’s in the entryway.

Jimin watches the alpha pull down one of the fur coats in the entryway. He looks back over his shoulder, too, to see if Jimin needs anything.

But Jimin is already up from the couch and walking over; he presses against Yoongi’s side and watches Yoongi sort through the five or so coats hanging on the hooks. There are heavier sweaters there, too, likely for transition to Spring, and he gives Jimin one of these as well as a coat.

The two of them cover so much and so long that he doesn’t bother heading into the bedroom for more layers; he’s really just trying to wear enough to keep from feeling cold when Yoongi opens the door and lets all the air in.

Yoongi kisses Jimin’s forehead, offers up the warm food on the stovetop, and whispers a few sweet sentences into Jimin’s ear before he does give in and open up the door for his visitor.

“We’ll get you a warmer coat soon,” he also promises Jimin. He reaches a hand behind his own back. Jimin threads his fingers through automatically.

The cold manages to hit him this time. It’s a nice reassurance that the heat has really passed.

Jimin, nosy as always, sticks glued to the alpha’s side and watches closely while Yoongi waves Jeongguk over what must be the property line. The younger alpha is standing before an invisible line, arms crossed over his torso and looking miserable even with his features too far away to see clearly. Yoongi waves him twice, two quick movements, and nods when Jeongguk shrivels up in response.

Jimin doesn’t blame him—he can’t imagine being an alpha, but he can imagine that he wouldn’t like to be on Yoongi’s bad side.

Jeongguk is clearly reluctant, but eventually he steps a foot forward. Jimin stiffles a giggle into Yoongi’s coat; he looks a little like a toddler clumsily stepping one toe into the cold ocean.

Yoongi laughs with him, though, and Jeongguk must see this reaction, because it doesn’t take much longer for him to really start up the path to the house.

Jimin huddles up even closer behind Yoongi, covered and sticking only his head out into view. His hair must be the over-greased equivalent of a bird’s nest, but hiding from Jeongguk’s view won’t do anything for him. Jimin and Yoongi wouldn’t have much other reason to disappear from three days—Jeongguk knows what they’ve been up to.

More importantly, Jimin wants to know what the two are saying.

Jeongguk stumbles up the shoveled walk and eventually stands on the porch, looking the picture of cold and wet sleepiness. He’s indiscreetly wrinkling his nose of the pheromones. He looks small, curling into himself, and he also really looks—

“Namjoon called a meeting,” Jeongguk blurts first, looking everywhere but at Jimin. “He wants you down in the dining room within the hour.”

—like a kicked puppy, Jimin thinks.

“I’m not needed,” Yoongi says bluntly. His hand is reached around behind his back and playing with Jimin’s fingers.

Jimin bites his lip and tries to hide his smile. He really does feel bad.

It’s not an unkind tone, just a plain one. Jimin watches Jeongguk shrink into himself even more—he clearly doesn’t want to be there.

“Namjoon said you are needed,” Jeongguk insists. His face is pinched like he has a stomach ache.

And that’s when Yoongi’s posture changes—not any less protective, standing broad in front of Jimin, but maybe more relaxed.

“Timber?”

“Snow clear,” Jeongguk answers.

They’re speaking in some kind of alpha code, Jimin thinks. He hasn’t ever seen two people speak on something so bluntly.

“Truck hasn’t come?”

“Not yet,” Jeongguk says. “Namjoon thinks they can’t get a truck up the mountain.”

“He wants me to call a hunt,” Yoongi assumes.

None of the conversation makes any sense to Jimin.

“He said it would be the same as usual,” Jeongguk says. “He just wants you there—Jimin could come, too.”

His eyes flicker down to Jimin, but don’t quite meet his eyes. Jimin knows it’s meant as a precaution rather than disrespect.

It doesn’t do much to save his skin where Yoongi is concerned.

Why?” There’s a growl—a warning.

And that’s confusing to Jimin, too—why would he question permission?—but then Jeongguk turns a little redder, maybe from the cold or maybe from embarrassment, and admits: “Seokjin wants to talk to him.”

Jimin knows he’s in plenty safe enough territory, then, to speak up.

He squeezes Yoongi’s hand—admittedly kind of difficult when the alpha’s hand is so much larger—and says: “I’ll go.”

Yoongi looks down at him, assessing, but Jimin nods. He notices that Jeongguk won’t look at him even after he has already spoken up.

“He said he’d have food,” Jeongguk adds.

There’s a long moment of quiet. Yoongi clearly doesn’t want to go—and Jimin really doesn’t either, even while he is curious. He’d admittedly rather spend the day wrapped up in the cabin, and eating the food that still smells so good on the stovetop, but then the alpha growls frustratedly. He must really be needed, then.

“Come in,” he finally offers. He holds the door open a little more, so that Jeongguk can come in, but the younger alpha stays outside.

“I can wait out here,” he insists, nose twitching.

Yoongi’s eyebrow raises. “We’ll have to get ready,” he points out.

Jeongguk sighs, shivers, and steps into the doorway.

It’s awkward. The younger alpha stays as far away from Jimin as possible, and he immediately takes a stiff and awkward seat on the couch. He looks around the room curiously, as if he hasn’t been there before. Maybe he hasn’t.

“Food’s on the stove,” Yoongi offers, and glances down the hall.

Jimin snorts at the awkwardness between the two, like two brothers made to work together, and dips into the bathroom.




“I’m sorry about him,” Yoongi says when he first enters the bathroom. He locks the door, forces the bronzey towel rack beneath the doorknob, and sets a pile of clothing for the both of them on the counter.

Jimin laughs and sticks a bare foot into the tub, where running water pools. It’s thankfully hot, which Jimin thinks is surprising considering all the snow surrounding the pipes. Then again, the water heater must be in the cellar—was it ever at risk? Jimin doesn’t know very much about homes.

“Warm enough?”

Jimin nods. He pulls off Yoongi’s shirt and slips into the hot water while it’s still running.

They try to bathe quickly. The alpha slides in after Jimin has already started to lather up his own hair—he doesn’t want the alpha’s hands in something so greasy, and admittedly feels a little embarrassed. Yoongi laughs lightly at all the suds Jimin creates on top of his own hair, but for the most part flicks some bubbles onto Jimin’s nose and quietly sets about joining him in the large basin.

It reminds Jimin, mortifyingly, of when he’d seduced Yoongi into the same tub. He’s red-faced when he goes to scrub his body.

“What are you thinking about?” the alpha asks.

He’s smirking—he knows what Jimin is thinking about. In revenge, Jimin splashes him with soapy-white water.

“Jeongguk is in the living room,” he reminds, hushed.

“Trust me,” Yoongi growls irritatedly, “I won’t forget that.”

So they bathe, rinse, and step out into soft towels. Jimin would like to say it’s all very pure with the heat having passed, but really—

“Don’t these look pretty,” Yoongi says lowly in Jimin’s ear.

His fingers are pressing under Jimin’s jaw. He’s referring to the bruises and the bitemarks mottling his skin. He’s careful where he presses, considerate, although Jimin doesn’t feel nearly as sore there.

“We should be going,” Jimin admits. He doesn’t know what to say—likes seeing himself in the mirror, doesn’t like Yoongi watching his red face, or maybe he’s lying to himself with that, too.

And the alpha knows he’s right, knows it’s better to get dressed, and even pulls a clean sweater over Jimin’s head and helps him situate the sleeves again. But he’s not wearing a shirt himself, yet, and Jimin thinks he can sneak something in quickly—

He reaches out and pulls gently at Yoongi’s coat. The kiss Yoongi gives him is immediate and full of all the possibilities Jimin thinks he could have; it’s breathless, and it also ends up with Jimin on the bathroom counter and an unplanned whine.

It also earns a very staged and very uncomfortable cough from the living room, loud enough to be heard through the door.

Jimin is suddenly reminded of how close the two rooms are. “Oh my god,” he says against Yoongi’s lips.

But the alpha doesn’t seem to care about being caught as he does interrupted, sighing and growling while Jimin titters embarrassedly.




It’s awkward when they step out of the bathroom, fully dressed but with a reddened face on Jimin’s part. Jeongguk sits awkwardly and stiffly on the couch, looking like he hasn’t moved a muscle. He doesn’t relax until they come into his direct view and he can see that they’re both fully clothed.

“You have a nice home,” is the first thing Jeongguk says.

It’s polite. It shouldn’t be surprising to Jimin—Yoongi’s cabin is incredibly nice, and manages to feel lush and comfortable even while Jimin knows about all of the luxuries and ridiculous things that can be possible outside of Compound—but it is, because Jeongguk doesn’t say the words to Yoongi.

He says them to Jimin, rather than to the alpha who is stands right behind him.

“What,” Jimin blurts. He nearly says no meaning to correct Jeongguk, but that would be saying no to Jeongguk’s statement, and Yoongi’s home is certainly nice—

“Your home is nice,” Jeongguk says again.

Jimin’s brain short-circuits. “What,” he says again.

Jeongguk looks nervous, then, like he doesn’t understand, and Jimin definitely doesn’t understand either, so he blurts: “I don’t have a home.”

That’s when he can hear Yoongi’s quiet laugh.

“Yes you do,” Yoongi corrects. And he’s holding the warm coat he’d promised—a coat so plush and thick that Jimin had actually thought it was a blanket until Yoongi had unfolded it over his arm.

Jimin stands and complies, really, accepting help into the coat and overthinking just what Yoongi could mean, Yes you do. Jeongguk is gawking at the coat, too, which doesn’t help—but how has Yoongi just been keeping something so nice in his closet?

Jimin stares at the furs and even runs his hand over the sleeve. The deep silvery grey looks like it somehow belongs to a single pelt, and the blackened leather on the inside is impossibly soft. The coat is large, too, large in the volume of the fur but also the cut. Of course any coat of Yoongi’s is large on Jimin, but the length is longer, more upright somehow—

It’s a more formal cut, Jimin realizes. Like what he’s so used to seeing Namjoon or other alphas wear to the festivals and bonfires.

But even Jeongguk is gawking at it, Jimin notices. Yoongi is steadfast in doing up the hook closures at the front, in adjusting the sleeves again, and generally bundling Jimin up.

“Do you have your boots here?” Yoongi asks.

Jimin nods. He waddles over to the door for them, in true penguin fashion, before Yoongi can help him put on his shoes.

Jeongguk is still gawking when Jimin passes him. Jimin isn’t sure what it’s about—probably how pretty the coat is, or maybe just the way Yoongi will openly show him affection but has a hard time letting Jeongguk onto his property—but regardless, Jimin laces up his boots and pats down his freshly-dried hair in hopes that it isn’t sticking up in any weird ways before they leave.

Jeongguk is the first to leave after Yoongi opens the door. He hopes over the threshold like the wooden floor had burned him. Jimin thinks, as he follows, that he really is like a puppy.

“Are you sure you want to go?” Yoongi asks. He’s taking his key out of the pocket of his own furs. He must have somewhere between four and six coats, Jimin realizes, like most alphas and their status symbols. Jimin is surprised he doesn’t show them off.

Jimin nods. “It’ll be nice to have the walk,” he adds.

Jeongguk looks just as pitiful when Yoongi holds Jimin’s hand all the way to the dining room.




“How did you get the beams in?”

“With support beams,” Yoongi answers dryly.

Jimin is holding in a laugh.

“I think it’s really interesting that you put the bathroom off of the entryway,” Jeongguk marvels. "That's so convenient."

The topic of Yoongi’s layout has been a favorite of Jeongguk’s for the entire walk over to the dining room. Even as they approach the building, he still pesters Yoongi about it.

The alpha doesn’t seem to mind, though, looking more like an annoyed parent than anything.

“It wasn’t about the entryway,” Yoongi explains. “I put it between the main space and the bedroom.”

“Where are your pipes?”

“There’s a basement with a cellar drop.”

“Is that where you keep your pantry?”

“Nonperishables, yes,” Yoongi grunts. “I might throw you down there, too.”

Jimin snorts as they enter through the door.

Jeongguk dares to stick his tongue out at Yoongi before he runs off into the dining room. At first Jimin is a little concerned for him, but the alpha only seems to be holding back a smile.

But he focuses back on Jimin while they’re still standing in the entry of the building, before the second set of doors. It’s already warmer with the first set of doors behind them.

“Were you warm?”

His voice is sweet, and so are the fingers that gently fold back the sleeves of the coat. He takes off his own coat, too, but Jimin wraps his arms around his waist and keeps the grey furs on.

“I am,” he admits.

“That’s good.” He kisses Jimin’s temple and hangs his own coat on the hooks in the entryway. “I picked it for a reason.”

Always warm, always comfortable—it’s a sweet intention, Jimin thinks.

He soon realizes that the alpha had done it with multiple motives.

“Oh my god,” Jimin blurts when he catches his reflection in the reflection of the dining room’s largest decanter. It sits right before the second set of doors to the actual dining room space, with just enough light to show the marled color over the little exposed skin the new coat offers.

Neither the sweater nor the coat do anything to hide the marks on the column of Jimin’s neck, and Yoongi seems more than happy about that.

He’s not sure what he’s expecting, but it isn’t Yoongi’s warm laugh. Jimin’s face is warm as his body in the furs when he hits the alpha’s shoulder.

He feels Yoongi’s nose brush warm against the back of his neck. It dips beneath the gray of the furs, over the line where Jimin’s neck meets his hairline. The alpha’s hands are on Jimin’s arms through the silvery furs.

“Let’s show you off, Omega Park,” he teases, and opens the doors.

 

Jimin should have known that walking into a dining room full of alphas would be an event itself.

The eyes in the room—what looks like nearly every alpha in compound—go to Yoongi first, the expected guest, but then land on Jimin, who tries not to think about the state of his neck.

He’s walking with Yoongi, though, the alpha who walks easily through the rows straight towards the packed head of his table. Jimin nearly tugs on his sleeve, nearly makes a point of telling him just how full the table is, but he’s completely distracted. The other alphas at the table are shuffling to make room, anyways.

Walking into the room and feeling like Yoongi’s omega, like he’s related to Yoongi's presence, is plenty distracting. But not even that can keep him from noticing that he is the only omega in the dining room.

Jimin can feel the eyes glued to him as they walk—to Yoongi, he tries to think, although he knows the attention is divided when he accidentally makes eye contact. Yoongi walks with squared shoulders, a straight back, and a scent that’s indecently good to Jimin. He imagines it probably smells like rank to the other dynamic.

Of course, it leaves his head clouded just in the short walk. The looks up and down, from his face down to the ends of the coat, seem to matter much less by the time they reach their seats.

Or seat, specifically—Yoongi pulls Jimin straight onto his lap at the table.

“Yoongi…” His voice comes out hushed, but his head is leaning back to rest closer to the alpha’s neck anyway.

Yoongi’s is the only face he recognizes. It’s just table after table of alphas in the room, and being the only omega—from what Jimin can see—he feels torn between mortification and the sugary drizzle in his stomach.

“Seokjin is probably still in the kitchen,” Yoongi assures. He wraps both arms around Jimin’s waist. “Does it bother you?”

“No,” Jimin says immediately, and probably too loudly. He shakes his head against Yoongi’s shoulder. “Just…”

Being looked at, he wants to say. By everyone else. He can feel eyes looking at him, and it’s fair to be looked at, considering that the meeting is clearly only for alphas.

“Do you want to move?” He’s tracing little shapes on Jimin’s back. The coat dulls the sensation, being so thick, but it’s still there.

“No,” Jimin admits, and even smiles.

“You can always tell me,” the alpha says lowly. “I want you to feel comfortable.”

“I am,” Jimin assures. And being so close to Yoongi’s scent gland, even if it is covered by the high neck of his sweater, it’s true.

He has a feeling that Yoongi wants to say something else—it’s prepped on the alpha’s tongue, really, but then a flurry of white furs catches Jimin’s eye.

It’s Seokjin, coming from the entrance to the kitchen, looking directly at Jimin and walking over as quickly as he can.

He’s giving Jimin a look of relief; Jimin himself has no idea what the expression is about until the omega makes his way over.

“My sweet relief,” Jin cries. “These alpha calls are so fucking boring.”

Jimin’s ears perk at the curse. He wonders just how stressed the omega is. “Hello,” he greets instead.

Jin has no time for greetings, apparently. “Come with me, and stop sitting with all of these soft knots,” he urges.

Yoongi is clearly reluctant to let him go, which is tempting, but then Seokjin gives him a sharp look—”I have food ”—and Jimin is left to leave with only a huff in protest.

He watches Yoongi as the lead omega pulls him away from the tables. Jimin is dragged toward the corner of the room closest still to the head of the table, where cushioned benches line the wall for children to sit and play together after a finished meal. The seat is a little shorter than he’s used to, but as promised, Seokjin deftly pulls open his coat and reaches inside for a sealed container.

“You wouldn’t believe what I went through to sneak these, even with my rank,” he complains. “Everyone’s going nuts with the rations and the hunts and the bullshit.”

“The what?”

“Oh,” Seokjin says as he pulls open the lid. “You’ll hear soon.”

It’s equal parts exasperated, sarcastic, and a threat. Jimin can admit to himself that the food smells more satisfying than any question he could ask. Still, as he takes the spoon held out by the omega, he asks: “Are you okay?”

“I should be asking you that,” is the counter. “Look at that neck.”

He’s looking Jimin up and down, who shirks in on himself defensively and takes bites of food in favor of responding. Like most things he eats in the compound, he doesn’t know exactly what he eats but he knows he enjoys it. He doesn’t have the chance to even ask; the omega runs a hand up over Jimin’s fur covered arm and appraises the new coat with raised eyebrows.

“It’s about time,” he remarks offhandedly. “But I’ll bother you about that later. So, you had a long heat. How are you feeling? Your alpha seems to think you might fall flat any minute now with the way he’s staring.”

“I don’t know about that,” Jimin hedges. It’s pointless though, Yoongi is still looking at him and checking in on him occasionally.

“I guess I can’t blame him when it looks like you got mauled,” Jin remarks. “Alphas love that shit, though.”

Jimin is starting to see more and more of Taehyung in Seokjin. They really are brothers.

“I guess,” he acquiesces. He’s still more focused on eating.

“I need to calm down,” Seokjin admits to himself, out of the blue. He sounds like Jimin’s mother did after a long day of work. “Anyways, I’m supposed to be talking to you. A lot happened while you were gone. Can you guess anything about this whole thing? Why they’re all here?”

It’s the question Jimin had wanted to ask in the first place. He looks around the area as subtly as he can. All of the alphas seem to be relatively serious, or already looking at Jimin. He avoids making eye contact as much as possible, and tries to think.

Nothing really comes to mind, except: “The snow?”

“Yup.” He ends the word with a ‘pop.’

“Shoveling plans?” Jimin guesses, feeling silly.

“Something like that,” Jin agrees. “Plans for the ice, too.”

“Why a meeting?” Jimin asks. It seems more productive to just go out and clear the snow.

“It’s about the road down the mountain,” Seokjin hints, “and you’ll need to know about this, so pay attention. It only happens about once or twice a year.”

Suddenly, Jin shifts back on the bench to put space between them. With a foot or so between them, Jimin double checks his lap to ensure he hasn’t accidentally made a mess of the food, but the omega pats the cushion.

“Look here—here’s our eastern boundary,” he starts. He’s drawing a line over the cushion. “Behind your alpha’s cabin. Lots of forest and hunting ground, and then the cabin at the front.”

Jimin nods.

“Here’s the northern border, and the outline of the river. The east southern side ends with more forest, but with all the uneven terrain, too.”

Jimin gets where it’s going from there; he draws his own line on the left, for the western end. “This is where the road comes up the mountain,” he fills in from memory.

It’s same the winding road that his mother had driven him up toward the compound. He makes two lines, one for the government-guarded gate to the tunnel and the borderline of the compound’s property, and another farther in for the actual beginning of the compound itself.

“So then this is the road, on the west,” Jimin fills in.

“The directional sense of a hunter,” Jin replies sarcastically. Jimin rolls his eyes, but the omega continues.

“We’re responsible for ensuring the road between the compound line and the compound property line is clear.” He draws his finger between Jimin’s two imaginary lines, and Jimin’s mind fills in the tunnel and the gravel at the compound’s entrance. Then he realizes that it’s a huge amount of road.

“Comms plows it for us after the first huge snowfall,” Seokjin continues. “Usually around the time of a goods shipment for the market. We’re supposed to get de-icer as well, little bead like things, and without it, we can’t keep clear.”

Parts of Yoongi’s earlier conversation with Jeongguk—sentences like Namjoon thinks they can’t get a truck up the mountain —suddenly make sense.

“They haven’t come,” Jimin assumes. “The road is too snowed-over.”

“Which means we won’t be getting a shipment for the next market,” the omega continues.

Jimin distractedly thinks that he can understand why Seokjin is a teacher. “Okay,” he acknowledges.

Jimin truthfully doesn’t know what all Comms provides the compounds. He knows they provide electricity, maintenance, appliances—all the things necessary for a basic community without a poor quality of living. He knows that there’s a bartering system in place, too, and that any cash at all—including Jimin’s research stipend—is incredibly valuable.

“So what happens now?” Jimin asks.

Seokjin looks up from the eye contact, over Jimin. When Jimin turns his head to look in the same direction, he can see Namjoon striding back from the far end of the room to take a seat at the head of the table.

“A hunt,” the omega answers. “A big one.”

The lead alpha is nearing the chair left for him, wearing a plainer-than-typical set of bronzey furs. He has a serious expression on—the diplomacy Jimin is so used to seeing on his face is gone.

When he pulls back his chair, it drags with a grunt over the floor. Seokjin and Jimin watch his back. They can see all the alphas look up at Namjoon—except for Yoongi, Jimin notes, who’s staring straight back at him.

“So.” Namjoon starts plainly. The boom in his voice is surprisingly low and quiets the other talk at the tables. He sits, and says loudly enough for the room to hear: “I haven’t received any replies from Comms on regard of market, trade, or goods in three weeks.”




“—The debate over reliance was useless—”

“—Did we really think we could bargain?

The room has been loud with discourse for several minutes. The stench in the room smells like stress and like unfamiliar alpha, and Jimin nearly regrets coming despite the curiosity. He listens in—

“The Separation took it,” one alpha is saying down the table.

“We never had bargaining power in the first place.”

“Our Alpha was creating power.”

Jimin nearly fails to watch Yoongi in all the immediate chaos, nearly doesn’t see his arm raise, a quick movement—

The furs turn out to be great earmuffs, Jimin learns, when the alpha raises his fist and brings it down over the table. The resulting silence in the room makes sense.

Namjoon sighs at Yoongi, audible enough for Jimin to hear. “Thank you,” he says, although he doesn’t sound like he approves.

Seokjin, who has already erased the space between them on the bench, leans in closer. “They’ll definitely call a hunt,” he says softly. “Your alpha might even do it, and he never has before.”

“Why a hunt?” Jimin whispers.

“If we need to salt enough meat for rations, it can take weeks,” Seokjin murmurs. “Without a market, betas won’t give our running water and electricity any maintenance. What do you think we’d do if the power goes out and we can’t cook our food?”

The question puts Jimin in a spot of stupidity. He genuinely tries to think of a solution, but comes up silent.

It’s Seokjin who presents one, but he rejects it all in the same breath—”It’s harder than you’d think to cook enough food to feed all our pups over a fire, especially when you have to conserve all your dry firewood.”

It definitely sobers up Jimin’s perception of life in the compound.

He doesn’t respond—just digests instead. He has the time to do it—Namjoon is sitting back in his seat, talking about the amount of snow they’d received and where they’d received it. He’s taking volunteers to clear off the roof of the schoolroom, Jimin hears.

Finally, he blurts—"Isn’t it dangerous to go out during a snowstorm?”

He knows it is. Remembers all sorts of documentaries he’d watched at home about people leaving their cars during a snowstorm and walking aimlessly in circles.

Seokjin’s hand crosses over Jimin’s affectionately.

“The snow storm already happened,” Jin reminds him. He’s leaning into Jimin’s shoulder, and the area where they’re pressed together is warm even through the coat that Jimin doesn’t want to take off.

“What if it snows again?” He can’t help but worry.

The omega’s hand is warm on Jimin’s. “Yoongi is our best hunter, but he hasn’t ever called a hunt before,” he says quietly. “He’s going to call it, and you’ll be fine.”

Jimin takes his word for it. He wants to press on, but Namjoon’s tone is tightening up and he’s clearly changing topics.

“—not responding,” Jimin catches from the lead alpha’s mouth. “I’ve gone down to the tunnel three times. We had reassurances the first two, but they left at least three days before the storm hit. It’s chained over again. No one is there.”

Seokjin’s voice is closer in Jimin’s ear. “Look at Yoongi,” he says, although he doesn’t need to.

The alpha stares straight at the table, and sitting first on the bench on Namjoon’s right side, Jimin can see that his brows are furrowed over.

“—time to establish a plan of action,” Namjoon says formally. “The road needs to be kept clear.”

He says something, then—Jimin looks at Yoongi, and doesn’t pay nearly as much attention to Namjoon’s words as he should.

He’s lucky Seokjin is there to summarize: “It’s time for the decision,” he says.

“Why won’t he just call the hunt?” Jimin asks. Impatience is bubbling up.

Seokjin swallows, and squeezes Jimin’s hand. “He hasn’t had anyone to bring the kill home to, before.”

Goosebumps run over Jimin’s arms and legs.

Seokjin doesn’t say anything else, and neither does anyone in the dining room. There’s tension in the space, sure, but there’s also the unmistakable feeling Jimin recognizes from college and plenty of experiences at home: no one wants to speak up. Namjoon had apparently asked for suggestions.

Jimin’s eyes are glued on Yoongi. The alpha even looks at him, from the corner of his eye, in the middle of scanning the tables. Jimin wonders if he’d rather someone else spoke up first.

Then he notices how uncomfortable he feels—the cold sweat under his arms, and the sort of instinctual prickling that makes Jimin look around his alpha only to realize that those alphas who aren’t staring at Yoongi are staring at him.

It takes time for Jimin to realize—the weight of the staring on him is heavy, too heavy—but he thinks, once the pause in his brain passes, that maybe they’re wondering if Jimin will be the one Yoongi can come home to. He wonders if maybe it’s really all about that, about the same question, just many perspectives—

“We all know what needs to happen.” Yoongi stares firmly at Namjoon.

Clearly, Namjoon isn’t giving in—“What needs to happen?”

Seokjin grips at Jimin’s hand. Jimin, who doesn’t even really understand the importance of it all, waits with chills until Yoongi sighs and projects, for the whole hall to hear:

“Ration hunt once the snow melts down for traction, two days if snowfall.”

Postures change and shift like an exhale at the table, or maybe it’s the relieved sigh Seokjin breathes beside Jimin.

“The hunt will happen soon,” he translates in a whisper. For once, Jimin doesn’t need the help.

Namjoon takes Yoongi’s offer without a beat. “Which grounds?”

There’s another pause; Jimin watches him deliberate.

“The mountain,” the alpha decides. Seokjin’s hand is squeezing Jimin’s painfully.

But the tension apparently isn’t done—it’s Namjoon’s turn to pause. Some barely perceptible part of Seokjin goes stiff against Jimin’s side, too.

“Any dedications in mind?”

Jimin doesn’t know what he means by that.

He knows that Yoongi’s eyes cut to the side—the alpha looks at Jimin, and so do half of the alphas at his table.

Jimin stares back.

“We’ll see what’s on the mountain,” Yoongi concludes.

There’s still stiffness in the room, but the decision has been made. Namjoon moves the conversation forward and off of Yoongi without a pause, but Jimin is still left to wonder. Seokjin doesn’t offer any translations for that.



 

Once the conversation has thoroughly turned to administrative matters and problem solving on things like snow clearing schedules, salting, and hunting, Seokjin pulls Jimin further toward the corner of the room, farther away from the center table.

“We’re going to cuddle so that I can actually talk to you,” Jin mutters. “I need to talk without your alpha doing his staring posturing thing.”

“I don’t think he’s doing a thing,” Jimin says. He thinks it’s just Yoongi being himself.

“You don’t see it?” Seokjin asks incredulously. He tucks his head against Jimin’s neck—he might be worried that Yoongi would read his lips?—”It’s that alpha thing. The period after the heat is the worst; they won’t leave you alone.”

Jimin is half tempted to shrug the omega’s head off his shoulder in retort; and he would, if only it were Taehyung instead.

“I don’t want him to leave me alone,” Jimin admits instead.

“Well he’s going to have to for now, and after, for a little while,” Seokjin says. “The elders don’t like it when alphas stick to an omega after a heat—they think it fucks with your decision making. So he’ll give you space—or he’ll do it while the elders can gripe about it, anyways.”

Jimin thinks common sense has made his decision for him; there’s no reason why he shouldn’t want to spend all of his available time with Yoongi.

“Regardless,” Seokjin continues on, “I wanted you here because I need to talk to you. Did Jeongguk say anything?”

“Jeongguk was just weird,” Jimin blurts.

Seokjin sighs; his lips are nearly pressed against Jimin’s shoulder. “Joon got back to me on your mom and your calls.”

Jimin’s back stiffens. Even what he sees of Yoongi blurs out.

“And?” he asks carefully.

“He really hasn’t heard anything from Comms.” Seokjin’s voice is more hushed even than before. “There aren’t even any of the guards down at the tunnel. It’s barred over and covered in wire.”

Jimin isn’t surprised that they’ve left well before an oncoming snow storm. He expects that anyone would do so.

“Is there anything I can do?” He knows that there isn’t.

Seokjin doesn’t answer, and instead says: “Namjoon gave me his dad’s journal. It’s in the den—we all figured Yoongi would be overprotective, and there’s no way he’d be happy with Joon if he approached you himself.”

“I don’t think Yoongi is against me knowing,” Jimin defends.

“No,” Seokjin agrees, “he isn’t. Just—I think he’d rip any of our heads off if we told you anything that might cause you stress.”

And Jimin knows that the others have all known Yoongi longer—have been at the compound when Jimin himself hasn’t been—but he still disagrees. He knows that there’s a lot to learn, an entire world of interactions and levels of intricacies in the compound, but he doesn’t think the alpha would keep it from him.

For some reason, it feels reassuring to disagree with Jin.

“When should I get it?” He asks.

“Joon’s book?”

Jimin nods.

“You should come after the meeting,” Seokjin says dryly. “Not just for the journal.”

Jimin raises an eyebrow.

“There’s a pile of gifts outside your door—” he warns, “—but it looks like they’re wrapping up, from how impatient Yoongi looks, so I’ll just drag you back with me after this. You can sort through them yourself.”

So Jimin looks in the direction of the alphas and curls up closer. It’s partially strange to be cuddling with someone who is also his supervisor, but the warmth is nice, and he likes participating knowing that they’re just two soft cuddling omegas to the rest of the alphas in the room.

That, and he likes the openly affectionate look on Yoongi’s face when he finally stands up from the table and walks over to them. When Jimin curls up even closer to Seokjin, the alpha’s face softens even more. It’s a reaction Jimin files away as an interesting weakness to make use of.

“Hi,” he greets quietly. When Seokjin makes to straighten up, he curls up to the omega even more.

Yoongi crouches down in front of him, and Jimin can see from the alpha’s expression that his suspicions are confirmed: Min Yoongi looks like a whipped man.

He takes Jimin’s hand in his gently, like he doesn’t want to bother.

“Did you eat?” The words are quiet, as if Jimin is actually as sleepy and cuddly as he pretends to be.

“Mhmm.” Jimin pulls Yoongi’s warm hand forward into his lap so that he can hold it in both of his own.

Yoongi melts again; Jimin enjoys his new-found power.

“We can go back,” Yoongi suggests, looking every bit affectionate.

Jimin had been stuck in the house for days having sex with the alpha, for crying out loud—he’s a little irritated with his own red face at how sweet Yoongi looks, but he’s more amazed at himself for how badly he wants to stick to the alpha’s side.

But Seokjin clicks his tongue.

“You have gifts,” he says to Jimin, although he says it looking at the alpha knowingly, “that are piling up outside your door. I don’t know which omega is bringing them in, but alphas seem to be pulling favors wherever they can get them.”

Yoongi says nothing but for the tightening of his fingers in the furs over Jimin’s lap, and of course the low rumble.

Jimin ducks his face into the collar of the coat, tries to stretch his fingers over Yoongi’s knuckles enough to lock their fingers, and then looks to Seokjin. “I don’t need anything,” he says, but wants to ask how he can get rid of everything without being rude.

The omega gets the message. “What you don’t take, you can split off between Hoseok and Taehyung. Hoseok is picky, but you’ve seen the inside of Taehyung’s room.”

Jimin nods. Taehyung has an eccentric place for too many things and throws them about without cleaning up, like a child’s toy chest.

Seokjin is fluttering about, then. He looks to Yoongi. “Well, I guess I’ll give you permission to enter the den later, since you asked to take out the remaining gifts so kindly.”

There’s a pause. “Thank you,” the alpha says quietly.

Jimin has to stifle a giggle. The alpha only huffs and pulls Jimin forward by the crooks of his knees.

“Do you want to go?” Yoongi asks. “You don’t have to.”

And Jimin doesn’t. He’d rather be wrapped up in front of the fireplace, and maybe drinking some of the spiced tea the alpha always makes. More than anything, he wants to talk and hear more about Yoongi, about his family and about all the things that make him treat Jimin the way he does—

Seokjin clears his throat. Jimin looks over so quickly his neck jolts with a little pain—the omega mutters something about “love pups” under his breath.

“I’m supposed to go with Seokjin right now,” Jimin blurts to Yoongi. He starts to feel sheepish under the alpha’s questioning expression.

“I won’t be able to come by so often for a little while,” Yoongi murmurs. Jimin’s heart pulls downward. “The elders—”

“Lots of omega things to do,” Jin interjects.

He has an arm around Jimin’s now, and pulls on it in a soft way. It makes Jimin feel comforted, but not as much as Yoongi does when he won’t let go of Jimin’s hand.

His eyes are on Jimin, who doesn’t know if the alpha wants him to refuse Jin or assure Yoongi that he’s fine to go with the omega. Realistically, Yoongi has to know he’s safe with Seokjin, but it doesn’t stop his heart from beating a little faster.

Jin gags. “We’ll just be in the damn den,” he gripes, and pulls Jimin free.

Jimin can see that Yoongi is still watching him when he looks over his shoulder. He waves, and the alpha manages to smile back at him even with all the tension from the other alphas.

 

“Okay, Moon Eyes,” Jin quips as they enter the den. “You’ve got a pile to sort through outside your door.”

It feels like Jimin hasn’t been inside the omegean den for a long time. The high ceilings of the common space still impress him, and stepping down the hall to his room across from Jin’s now feels a little less homey, although no less comfortable.

He still thinks back to the warm fireplace in Yoongi’s cabin as he turns toward his room with Jin. The sight that greets him can only be described as ridiculous.

“This is a bit much,” Jimin blurts.

Seokjin snorts. “They’re desperate.” He flicks a dangly pair of earrings hanging over a wooden stand, the stand itself sitting on top of many chests, furs, and scarves. “This won’t be the last of it.”

From what Jimin can see, it’s standard courting gifts. Lots of jewelry, lots of painted decorative dishes to hold jewelry, even a bracelet—which makes Jimin wince and think back on Chanyeol. There’s a tag made of hand-pressed paper attached. Jimin will most certainly not read the name.

Suddenly, the compound feels unfamiliar again. “I don’t need any of this,” Jimin protests.

“You can leave it,” Seokjin offers. He walks out from the doorway of his own room across the hall swipes a hand over Jimin’s back, warm and caring. “I told Taehyung and Hoseok that they could descend at dusk like the vultures they are.”

Jimin snorts. He can’t imagine either with the beak or the fierce expression, but his mind comes up with a humorous attempt.

He looks at his own closed door some more and the gifts piled up around it until the lead omega reaches for his hand. Inside Jimin’s fingers, he places something that feels warm and smooth. When he looks down, he sees a leather journal.

“Oh,” he says quietly. It has to have belonged to Namjoon’s father. The pages are yellowy and the journal itself isn’t in good shape. Parts might have been run under water. “Namjoon’s?”

“His retired father’s, specifically. He said he mentioned it in the interview? Take good care of it,” Jin chirps quickly. “Now get in here so I can bother you about all your gross time with Alpha Yoongi.”

“God,” Jimin groans. He’s not eager to talk about his sex life.

Seokjin only pesters more. “Go, go, go.” He presses his fingers playfully into Jimin’s back.

So Jimin opens his door—but not without noticing that Jin is obviously tense beneath his words. The journal weighs guiltily in Jimin’s hands; he feels bad for taking something so personal to his mate.

As a terrible attempt to make up for it, he curls up on his bed with as much enthusiasm as he can muster.




“Was it sticky?” Taehyung asks sensationally.

Jimin gags. “I am not going to tell you that.”

“Good,” Taehyung sing songs on his bed. “I don’t want to know. Really, I don’t.”

Taehyung had snuck in shortly after Seokjin had begun his interrogation of the “what did”’s and “how did”’s. Jimin had gone very pale by the time his friend had snuck in, with Hoseok right behind.

“Was it your first heat?” Hoseok asks plainly.

“Yup,” Taehyung answers for him with a pop.

Hoseok’s eyebrows raise. He’s also lounging on Jimin’s bed, legs stretched out off the edge and a blanket over his torso. He looks back at Jimin. “How much do you remember?”

Taehyung looks towards him too. Seokjin is sitting at the head of the bed, closest to the pillows where Jimin can’t see him, but he feels stared at on all sides.

For the first time, Jimin is tempted to lie.

“I didn’t remember anything,” Taehyung blurts. “Jeongguk told me I threw up his come.”

Taehyung! ” Jin barks.

Jimin’s eyebrows must have raised past his own hairline. He keeps his mouth shut, but looks to Hoseok, who mirrors his expression.

“Not that anyone asked,” Hoseok interjects pointedly, “But I only remembered the sex.”

Jimin lays awkwardly on the bed. He doesn’t know what to say, but eventually looks in the general direction of Hoseok and says: “Me too.”

“You’ll remember more soon,” Hoseok assures. “It comes back in little increments, sometimes, like a dream.”

Admitting that Jimin had really only thought there was sex makes him feel stupid.

None of them say anything about that, though. They’re being kind to him—Seokjin pets his head again, nothing more—and Hoseok starts up again after pushing a bowl of snacks in his direction.

“Was the knot good?”

Jimin nearly spits around the dried berries in his mouth. Taehyung’s hand cups beneath his mouth automatically, a protection to the light color of the bedding.

Thankfully, it’s not needed. Jimin takes a deep breath with watering eyes, and nods.

“That’s good.” Taehyung is the one to offer the words, sounding surprisingly responsible. “There are plenty of couples who announce before intimacy. Not that you seem like you’d ever want that, but sometimes the chemistry doesn’t carry over.”

“Announce?”

“Intention,” Seokjin answers.

It makes Jimin briefly imagine a different kind of carrying over, a kind that involves a threshold. He shuts that thought out before he can get too many butterflies.

He looks around the room instead. Everyone seems supportive—warm, even, and it makes Jimin feel better—but he still feels anxious. Being separated from Yoongi so abruptly, and with all the news from Comms and about his mother, he feels like he shouldn’t be letting himself rest.

“So what now?” Jimin asks. “I feel like I should be doing something.”

Hoseok looks empathetically at him, and Seokjin nods.

“You really should just rest, though,” the oldest omega offers. “You’ve seen all of those gifts—and there’s a compound-wide hunt coming, which means enough pheromones going to create an Alpha’s moon.”

Taehyung nods. “It’s really only a matter of time.”

“So try and relax, get back into the swing of things—” Seokjin cuts him a look. “I wouldn’t be surprised if alphas started coming after you with a more direct approach.”




Jimin hadn’t believed Seokjin, but that changes after spending just half of a day without Yoongi.

They must have waited until Jimin was alone, or known that they weren’t supposed to be too close after the heat, more likely—Jimin is staying late in the kitchens, sitting on the counter and gossiping to Taehyung when there’s a knock on the kitchen door.

It isn’t much of an interruption. Taehyung had just been gossiping about all of the things Jeongguk had done while Jimin was in heat, but when the knock rings into the kitchen, they pause.

“—So I told him—.” Taehyung cuts himself off mid-sentence. He looks at Jimin with wide eyes.

And that’s very confusing to Jimin, who had barely heard the sound of the knock in the first place. It’s only a half-hour after the dinner kitchen shift—late enough for it to be dark, and to normally wait for Yoongi to come back from his shop to walk Jimin home, but not so late that the kitchen isn’t bustling. There are still plenty of dishes to be washed; Jimin knows this, because he had tried to help until Seokjin shooed him off from it.

Jimin’s ankles hit the counter beneath him when he stops swinging his feet. He looks blankly at Taehyung.

In a very exaggerated motion, Taehyung flicks his eyes rightward. The entire kitchen has gone quieter, just a notch down with omegas still working but not chatting.

Jimin turns his head towards the entrance. It’s only a half door, so he can see that an alpha has rapped his fist against the top. He’s holding his coat and an ornate-looking box in one arm.

Mortification sets in and Jimin’s hair stands up. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but he prays it isn’t related to—

This won’t be the last of it, Jin had said.

“Omega Park?”

An alpha is smiling at him all the way from the kitchen door, across the entire length of the room for everyone to hear. Jimin feels mortified.

“Hello,” he greets awkwardly.

He steps into the kitchen, then, which is surprising itself for an alpha to do without invitation. Taehyung quietly continues to dry dishes, but doesn’t move, which is nice.

“I’m glad I could find you,” the man says. He’s smiling. It doesn’t quite reach his eyes—he must be nervous too—but it does push the roundness of his face farther up in a way that would be endearing in any other circumstance.

“I’m sorry—” Jimin feels terrible for asking— “What’s your name?”

Taehyung chokes on a snort from beside him.

The alpha shifts his weight. His smile falters, just for a second. “Woo Jiho,” he offers. “It’s nice to meet you—I work on roofing, and growing in the summer.”

Jimin feels bad for his immediate relief. At least he has the option to blame his rejection on Jiho’s dangerous occupation—who wants to worry about their mate? It’s a fair excuse, even if Yoongi works with saws and power tools regularly.

He calls bullshit on himself internally—he just wants an easy way out.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Jimin says politely.

There’s a pause. Maybe he’s well-known and Jimin is supposed to have known him, or maybe his work is somehow related to Yoongi’s in some way that would mean Jimin should know his name—or maybe Jiho is just nervous, but he shifts his weight again in a way that shows he clearly hasn’t expected the way the conversation has gone.

Jimin makes it easy for him. “Is that a gift?”

“Yes!” He looks down at himself, as if to check that the box is still in his hands. “Yes. I have a necklace—I know you wear earrings, but I haven’t seen you wearing one of these.”

He’s ready to open the box, to maybe put it on Jimin. Before he can do so, Jimin says as softly as he can, “I’m not interested in gifts, but thank you.”

Jiho looks up from the box with a look of surprise on his face—but it’s not all genuine. He knows what’s coming. He knows who Jimin has spent his heat with.

“That’s fine,” he carries on anyways. “Maybe some other time, then? I don’t cook, myself, but I’m sure you could make some time for me.”

“I’m involved with someone,” Jimin says quietly. Jiho is embarrassing himself in front of the entire kitchen.

“I see,” Jiho says blankly.

Jimin rubs his marked-up neck, and pretends to do so absentmindedly. “Thank you for the offer,” he says genuinely. “I hope someone else enjoys the necklace; it’s very pretty.”

He hasn’t seen the necklace. Jiho, who hadn't even yet opened the box, doesn’t seem to notice when he walks out of the kitchen like a kicked puppy.

Jimin sighs quietly after he’s gone; it’s just loud enough for Taehyung to hear.

“That was awkward,” Taehyung says. “He knew what was coming from the beginning.”

“He really did.”




Not even an hour later, it happens again.

With dishes dried and put away, Jimin leaves to head back toward the omegean den with Taehyung and Seokjin at his sides. He supposes he shouldn’t be surprised when two alphas stand at the door.

“Uh-oh,” Taehyung whispers.

“Fucking annoying,” Seokjin murmurs.

Irritation admittedly bubbles up inside Jimin. It’s pitch black outside, there’s snow on the ground, and he wants to curl up in bed.

It must show on Jimin’s face; one of the alphas takes a look at Jimin and walks away with his gift in tow. Seokjin snorts. It could also be that two of the compound’s highest-ranking omegas are at his sides.

The other one persists.

“I’m Lee Taeyong,” he says quietly. “I have a gift for you, if you’d be willing to take it. I understand that it’s late.”

Some of Jimin’s irritation melts off.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m involved with someone else.”

“I know,” Taeyong says.

Jimin’s eye twitches. He’s less inclined to give the alpha credit for being polite.

“Everyone knows,” he points out. He can feel himself ready to snap, with the anxiety of the day and the plain tiredness overwhelming him all at once. “Everyone should know I’m not accepting any gifts, either.”

“I can offer time.”

Jimin wants to turn and walk in the direction of Yoongi’s cabin.

“That’s very nice.” It’s Seokjin who speaks up. He links elbows with Jimin and squeezes his arm gently. “Maybe you should try another time; Jimin is very exhausted.”

Jimin is very irritated.

“You can rely on me,” Taeyong offers.

Jimin wants firmly to deny, but Seokjin pulls him off in the direction of the omegean den.




Jimin collapses into bed like his mood is a function of sleep.

He’d felt restless on the way home, irritation flooding through him blindly, and it had only worsened seeing a small amount of new gifts set outside his door. Blankets, sweaters, pretty drapes and silks and things that made Jimin huff and let out a sound of extreme frustration when he’d parted with Seokjin and Taehyung.

“I think he’s going through Yoongi withdrawals,” Taehyung had commented.

Lying in his bed, alone and with only the furs to give him any comfort, Jimin agrees.

It has already been a length of time since he’d paced around his room with an itch to go walking off to the cabin he knows isn’t more than a fifteen-minute walk away. And Seokjin had expressly warned him not to, said that he’d be more likely to run into other alphas, but Jimin is still tempted.

He can’t stop thinking about Yoongi, and it’s twisting up in his body like impatience and bubbliness and frustration all at the same time. He checks his phone expecting fifteen minutes to have passed and sees only four. He even reaches for his computer, but puts it down with impatience in the same move.

For being so supposedly tired, Jimin can’t sleep at all—and it’s because of that Jimin thinks Taehyung’s guess is arguably more correct. He’s going through withdrawals.

So he gets up and paces, maybe for the fourth or fifth time, and he goes through his drawers and re-sorts his clothing, but his mind races for maybe a half-hour more before he finally collapses back into the bed again.

Jimin’s mind re-traces everything; the bridge of Yoongi's nose, his jawline, and the way Jimin always pays attention to the tone of his voice and the details in his expressions. He thinks about all the things he has said to Yoongi, about sitting together at the festivals, and kissing him, and dancing for him—he groans into the pillow every time his own thoughts embarrass him.

After more time has passed and Jimin has recounted it all, he curls up under the covers and kicks the sheets with a smile.

Not after even a few minutes of that, Jimin hears a knock at the door.

He sits up in bed, in the mess of the blankets. The only person who would bother him late at night—

“Taehyung?” The question comes out as a groan.

Taehyung wouldn’t knock, Jimin realizes. He’d open the door and crawl into Jimin’s bed. He might yell obnoxiously if Jimin had locked the door, and he hadn’t.

Silence from the door.

Jimin huffs as he drags himself out of bed. He figures Hoseok must be on the other side; that, or an omega who might have confused his room with Jin’s across the hall.

“Coming,” he groans. He pulls a long shirt from his dresser to cover up his bare chest, and then sluffs over to pull open the door an inch.

He nearly trips over himself when he sees the alpha on the other side.

“Yoongi!” It comes out in a whisper, though—how did he get into the den?

Standing there, with his furs over one arm and a basket in the other, Jimin feels warmth sweep up giddily in his chest.

“I hope I didn’t wake you up.” His voice is too low; it echoes around the hall too easily.

"Shhh," Jimin whispers in between giggles. He pulls the doorway back until he can feel resistance from the hinge and leans forward. Amber brushes his nose.

"You can't be in here," Jimin giggles.

The alpha looks over each shoulder. He's clearly teasing, turning his head back and forth as if contemplating how he ended up in the omegean den.

But with the yellowy candlelight in the cabin hall, Jimin can see marks on Yoongi’s neck—marks he left during the heat. He flushes at the reminder, and at the sudden flash of images that come back to him in the moment, but moves in towards the alpha anyways.

“I could leave,” Yoongi suggests, even while he’s smiling.

Jimin shakes his head. Yoongi has moved so close and leaned down far enough that their noses nearly brush.

"No," he says shyly. He looks down towards the basket in Yoongi's hands and back up to the warmth in his eyes.

"I don't want to," the alpha admits. His free hand itches toward the sleeve of Jimin’s shirt, a soft long sleeve from home, and without the immediate haze of heat between them, Jimin feels twice the embarrassment and just as much giddiness.

"You're going to get caught." Jimin shuffles his socked feet over the wooden floor. "You can come inside, if you want."

"Seokjin won't be able to hear me." He's so close to kissing Jimin, right there in the doorway—

There's a squeal of a door hinge from across the hall. Jimin freezes, eyes wide and right in front of the alpha's. Then:

"Hello, Yoongi."

Jimin is thankful his face is hidden from the lead omega, but he's mortified to recognize the voice of the omega so easily—

"Seokjin is able to hear you," Seokjin says.

After a pause, the alpha's spine straightens. He turns his head over his shoulder, allowing Jimin to see the marks on his neck again while he addresses Jin.

"Good evening," Yoongi says, an equal mix of awkward and respectful.

Jimin has to bite his own lip to keep from sputtering at the ridiculous situation.

Jin scoffs. Still, he’s apparently going to let them off the hook:

"Make sure he gets to shift with plenty of rest tomorrow," Seokjin says, and with that, he shuts the door quietly before the alpha can do so much as nod.

Yoongi turns to Jimin with an expression on his face that Jimin can only describe as very slightly thrown off guard.

Jimin bursts into a fit of giggles.

He's laughing, teasing the alpha in whispers of you said you wouldn't get caught, curling into himself and his pajamas, when Yoongi leans in to kiss him.

Jimin doesn't have the time to think beyond the curl in his toes, the tingles in his spine, and the feel of Yoongi's sweater under his fingers. It's so sweet and Jimin thinks he's burning up, a reminder of the heat, when the alpha pulls back.

"You're beautiful," he says straightforwardly, and sweeps a finger under Jimin's chin, which must be hot with the rest of his face.

It splits him up between wanting to curl up squealing in bed and wanting to pull Yoongi with him. He thinks, taking peeks up at Yoongi's expression, that the alpha might be talking about more than his looks.

He's looking over Jimin's neck, again. They're both marked up.

"I hope I didn’t wake you up," he offers again.

Jimin shakes his head before he remembers his chin is still in the alpha's hand. "You didn't." It might come out more bashful than he'd like, but it's Yoongi's fault for catching him so off-guard and so late at night. He ventures, "Why so late, though?"

Why are you here? he means. And he doesn't want to ask that—wants to know why the alpha came, but doesn't want to question it too much when he's with Yoongi.

Yoongi must get what he's really asking—he's staring at the basket in the alpha's hands, after all.

Instead of responding, he lifts up the basket and pulls back the blanket resting over top of it. Inside, Jimin can see piles upon piles of what look like braided dead pine needles. The basket smells smoky and barely sweet of sap.

"What are they?" Jimin looks back up to to see the way Yoongi's expression changes.

"An excuse to come see you tonight."

Jimin is convinced his heartbeat jolts.

The alpha's lips are pulled up at the corners in a soft smile. "I think betas call them sparklers?"

Jimin's eyes dart back down to the basket—his mind is immediately filled with images of trimmed and planted bushes, standing behind the neighbor's garage beside his old home—inside, with the long straight sticks of pine, is a small wooden box open to show matches.

It's late, it must be well past eleven, and Jimin had been warm in bed—might even be able to pull Yoongi in with him—

"I'll get dressed." He grins openly.

 

Jimin’s only problem with Yoongi is that the alpha makes him painfully, painfully shy.

As he and Yoongi crunch along through the dead leaves and the snow on the ground, Jimin looks at the ground in front of him and at the trees. They’ve barely walked into the depth of the forest directly behind the omegean den—much more sparse than the privacy-thickened treeline before Yoongi’s cabin—but rather than thinking about all the pretty scenery in front of them, Jimin’s mind races.

He feels so happy and like a young crush Jimin is experiencing for the first time—he reminds himself that he’d spent time in bed with the alpha, but instead his mind races back between the warm yellowy light over Yoongi’s cheeks to the way the snow glimmers and casts cool blue light over the pair of them in the moment.

Summoning up all of his bravery, and speaking before he can think twice, Jimin says: “You didn’t need an excuse to see me.”

He looks straight at the ground, which sparkles in front of them. Jimin faintly thinks that it looks like the ground is enticing them to step forward.

Yoongi’s arm, wrapped around Jimin’s waist, slips over his back and down until their fingers are intertwined. Even that hold feels warm, no matter how much Jimin’s breath fogs up in the air.

“The elders tend to think I should leave you alone after the heat,” the alpha says. Jimin, although he feels late, gives the alpha’s hand a small squeeze before Yoongi continues, “or maybe it’s just cultural practice.”

Jimin ducks his face down into the furs, and murmurs into them, “I don’t really need space.” But he grins even while he says it.

He can feel his own hand being squeezed in return. Gentle, and lingering.

“Neither do I,” Yoongi teases. “Although I think it’s more out of concern for the tradition than for us.”

Us, Jimin thinks gleefully. Hearing the word feels unbearably sweet.

“I guess, if it’s for tradition,” Jimin muses.

He’s obviously lying—he can hear the high pitch in his own voice, the sigh—and the alpha sees right through it. When Yoongi pulls him by the hand into the clearing, he’s grinning.

“There’s a lot of tradition here.” His thumb sweeps over the back of Jimin’s hand. “I’m not looking to spend all of my time with tradition.”

Can Jimin feel goosebumps under the furs? “Don’t, then.”

They’ve stopped in the center of a small break in the trees. “I came to see you,” Yoongi reminds him.

“You’re not supposed to see me?”

“I’m not supposed to ask you to take your things and move them into my home.” He raises both eyebrows. “I’m compromising.”

Jimin is positive that if he dropped into the snow, the feeling would be reduced to cotton.

The sound he makes barely sounds human—an oh! right as he paws at Yoongi’s arm with a hand that isn’t covering his own grin—the alpha takes it, only smiles and laughs. He still grins even while he sets the basket down on an old tree stump. The roots of it lift the snow level up and down where they grow beneath the earth—the tree must have grown too large, and been cut to preserve the others.

Half-tempted to slip snow down the back of the alpha’s coat in retaliation for the heart attack. Jimin sighs. “Are you going to show me these or flirt?”

Yoongi pulls back the blanket over the basket, along with a match, but still says: “I’m not just flirting.” Jimin covers his mouth with both hands until the alpha approaches.

He’s still smiling, a tiny stretch that lifts his features—too handsome for Jimin, although that experience isn’t new.

“Do you want to light this one first, or should I?”

Jimin stares blankly at his expression. It’s the first time he has seen the alpha look carefree.

“Uh,” he says stupidly. “You can.”

Yoongi is still smiling when he steps around Jimin and presses up against his back.

“Watch,” he says. “You can hold it, too. It’ll flame up quick, but it won’t hurt you.”

Jimin nervously grabs the end of the pine between his thumb and index finger. The sparklers he’d used before hadn’t flamed, just sparked.

“What is this made of?” He asks.

“Pine, salt, and a few other things for the wax and powder in between.” While Jimin holds it, he pulls a match out from a wooden box. Once closed again, he flips the box over. Rather than the familiar dots of red phosphorus Jimin is used to lighting matches with, Yoongi strikes the match two, three times over a series of white dots on the bottom of the wood.

“The elders could probably give you the details on the ingredients.” He holds the match up, and cups it with his other hand. It smokes before it flames.

“The important thing—”

Yoongi’s hand holds the pine over top of Jimin’s while he brings the match to the end opposite their fingers—

“—is that it burns hot.”

The flame hits the pine. It pops, twice, loud like a firework, and erupts into sparks of blue flame.

Fuck—”

Yoongi laughs somewhere near Jimin’s ear. Jimin himself jumps straight out of his skin; the pine pops again, and a speck of blue fades to yellow.

“Oh my god,” Jimin mutters embarrassedly, He can hear his heartbeat thumping with the adrenaline.

But it really is pretty; bright blue flames and one or two sparkles when the flame hits a particular buildup of the wax. The braid of pine is thick, and clearly takes time to make, and the result is more of a long-burning flame than the quickly-extinguishing flame Jimin is used to.

Still, the alpha gently guides Jimin’s hands to sweep the flame back and forth, and in a few shapes, leaving the flame to drift behind in a whisper of a line.

“Whoa,” he breathes. He’s still shocked that the majority of the flame is blue. The yellow flame that oxidizes in a perimeter around the blue seems so much thinner than what he’d expect. “Why is it so blue?”

“I think it’s the salt they put on them,” the alpha murmurs casually.

Jimin traces slow designs in the air—nearly traces a heart, but cringes at just the thought—and watches it spark and fizzle down towards the end.

It takes a while; Jimin feels like he has spent the time equivalent of three sparklers before the pine burns down a quarter through.

A smile settles over Jimin’s face, too, before he realizes it. The air is still between the trees and he feels comforted, like sneaking out with a boy on what feels very much like a traditional date. And the blue-green flame dances in front of him, fades into yellow, with the alpha’s hand over his and keeping him safe the entire time.

Jimin eventually relaxes back into the alpha’s hold, less distracted by his fright over the fire. He tilts his head up, too, and finds that Yoongi is already looking at him with a smile.

He doesn’t look away when Jimin meets his eyes; just holds the eye contact. Jimin can see the reflection of the sparkler and their overlapped hands in the alpha’s eyes.

“It’s really pretty,” Jimin says thankfully.

Yoongi’s eyes actually look back and forth between Jimin’s. He wants to say something, Jimin thinks.

There’s a lot to say. About Jimin, about Yoongi, about the moment between them in the bedroom after the heat, and about the heat itself, and about just how serious the alpha had been in describing what Jimin can only imagine must be moving in together—but for Jimin, the indescribable feeling of safety is what he wants and receives.

Yoongi must like it, too. Maybe he wants to prolong everything the way Jimin does, because he just says—

“I’m glad you like it.” And he means it.

When the sparkler fades too far down, Yoongi wordlessly takes it from between Jimin’s fingers and throws it into the snow. He crushes the remaining spark with the sole of his boot. Even the way he warms Jimin’s fingers in his hands is gentle.

“Another one?”

Jimin would say yes, even without the sparklers involved.

 

After the clearing smells like burnt pine and barely of water-snuffed smoke, Jimin is giggling in Yoongi’s arms.

“Tired?” The alpha knows Jimin is tired. It has been well over thirty minutes, Jimin knows, that Yoongi has been suggesting to walk him home.

He’d offered to carry Jimin home, too, but Jimin has learned that if he turns around and looks up at Yoongi and asks just one more, please, the alpha will have lit another match before he can even make it to the ending of his sentence.

It helps that he’s warm, too. If he weren’t, Yoongi would take him home. Jimin knows this because Yoongi had asked and asked until Jimin had shut him up with a giggly sleep-drunken kiss.

“I’m not tired,” Jimin laughs. “Let’s light one more.”

“I’m supposed to let you get your rest,” Yoongi sighs. He does look conflicted, really, but Jimin doesn’t even care so much about the sparkler.

“I only have afternoon shift,” Jimin whispers conspiratorially. “It’s fine.”

Yoongi’s brow creases. “I won’t be able to see you in the morning.”

“You can see me at night,” Jimin blurts, and immediately feels the blood in his cheeks. It’s not just the winter air. “I can come see you.”

The alpha’s eyebrow raises. Another sparkler is lit.

Laughter passes so quick that Jimin has learned Yoongi might like his smile just as much as he likes the alpha’s. Might like it more, somehow, with the way he looks at Jimin.

They’re lighting a particularly blue flame, one with three loud pops, when Yoongi pulls Jimin back against his chest again, and breathes in. He’s scenting; a deep, heady breath that has Jimin glad his alpha is holding onto the sparkler, too, should Jimin drop it.

Jimin thinks it might be a good time for another kiss, or at least to put the sparkler out and turn around to feel his front pressed up against Yoongi’s again, but then Yoongi smoothes Jimin’s hair behind one of his ears—

"I want to tell you everything about me," Yoongi says lowly.

Something instinctual inside Jimin shifts.

The pine sparkler in their hands is dying down, sputtering toward the halfway point.

He turns his head until Yoongi's scent clouds up his senses again. The alpha is silent, waiting for a response.

Yoongi hasn’t told Jimin all that much about himself, really. Although Jimin hasn’t asked.

Jimin says, "I would really like that." His voice is quiet, a whistle in comparison to the low hiss in the trees.

The alpha's face is ducked down; Yoongi's chin rests by his ear, and Jimin can feel the faintest nuzzle and scenting against his hair.

"It's difficult," the alpha admits lowly.

Jimin pushes forward: “Why?”

It’s surprisingly easy. Jimin wonders if Yoongi had waited to bring it up—waited until Jimin was comfortable enough to participate.

"There's a lot to tell."

Jimin stands as still as he can, his back pressed along the alpha's front. The sparkler is quiet.

He doesn’t know why he asks—something about Yoongi’s tone, so serious—"Is it bad?"

Silence. Jimin wishes he could know everything that passes through the alpha's mind in that moment.

"Some of it," he acknowledges.

The flame is nipping at a bare stub of pine; Jimin drops it this time, although Yoongi is quick to snuff it with snow under the sole of his own boot.

Jimin fidgets awkwardly. "What kind of bad?"

"Not the kind that would ever hurt you." His hands trace up and down Jimin's waist.

Still, Jimin asks: "When will you tell me?"

Yoongi huffs a laugh out that sounds breathy and relieved. His hands reach for Jimin's cheeks and cup them.

"I'll tell you as soon as I can," he promises. "It's not just up to me, or I'd have found a way already."

Jimin leaves the obvious question unanswered. Instead of why, he asks: "The elders?"

He doesn't know why the answer comes to him. It had lit up in a flash and presented itself before he could even rephrase it as a more open question.

Yoongi half-nods, half-nuzzles. "You'll always be safe," he assures.

Jimin can't help but smile at the low growl in the alpha's voice, as if warning against all the things that aren't coming for them.

He knows he wants to prolong the moment, and to stay out late under the clear stars and feel warm even with all the snow on the ground. Jimin considers grabbing another sparkler and a match, but when he looks at the basket all he can see is the way the blanket falls peacefully over the stump.

Moonlight filters down through the trees, a perfect crescent moon, and when Jimin shifts even farther back into Yoongi's arms, he can see the snow shimmer in dancing white.

Jimin's instincts had trusted Yoongi from the very beginning, and Jimin feels safe to share it.

"I trust you." He turns, in Yoongi's arms, and presses his face into the alpha's chest.

Yoongi freezes against Jimin. But by the time Jimin's arms have wrapped around the alpha, he melts like the first thing to unfreeze in the compound.

He squeezes Jimin so tightly that Jimin feels just how much he might be needed.




He doesn’t know how late it is when they finally reach the front steps of the omegean den.

He wonders how many times Yoongi will walk him home—he thinks about the alpha’s comment from earlier in the evening too, and wonders how many times he’ll address the omegean den as his home at all.

“I don’t want to let you go,” Yoongi admits.

Jimin can tell that he means it. Even worse—

“I don’t want to, either.” He’s running his fingers up the furs over Yoongi’s chest, agitating the scent forward into his nose.

He can hear the inhale—sharp, but reluctant.

Yoongi looks up at the sky above them, stretching out his neck so that Jimin can see what might be little etchings of bitemarks. To deep to form bruises, too shallow to leave a scar of any kind of bond—he doesn’t remember leaving them until he sees them. Senses and images flood over him all at once—squirming in the alpha’s lap, the feeling of Yoongi’s hands gentle on his back, and nipping so desperately over the alpha’s shoulders that Yoongi had turned them over—before he would bleed.

Then he can feel the ghost of Yoongi’s teeth again, at the end of the heat and after Jimin had done all that —and he knows how far he’d driven the man.

“What should I bring tomorrow?”

Jimin jerks, suddenly more alert. “Bring?”

Yoongi’s hands are warm on his cheeks. “To see you again.”

“Do you need an excuse to see me again?” But he’s answering his own question, moving closer into Yoongi’s hold.

He can hear the alpha’s inhale. “I’d say no,” he says lowly, “but I think I might get a different answer from the elders.”

And Jimin knows—the more they break the rules, the more Intention will become an expectation of them. So he surprises himself when he offers—

“I could come after shift.” He shrugs impishly.

“I could walk you home,” Yoongi offers.

But Jimin is feeling bold, and maybe it’s part of how late he’s standing on the porch, but he suddenly decides—

“Maybe.” He digs the toe of his boot into the ground.

The alpha’s eyebrow raises. “Maybe?”

“Maybe,” Jimin affirms. The cogs are turning, and he has all sorts of ideas for the evening, but most importantly—

I’ll make the excuse to see you.

Chapter Text

Spring passes over the compound like wildfire—or like wildflower, blooming over landscapes Jimin has never seen before.

“What’d you bring down from the mountain?” He stands at the treeline, where the snow has melted off to expose deep green pine needles.

Yoongi kisses Jimin’s cheek. “Venison,” he answers.

“Mmm,” Jimin acknowledges, bathing in the outside warmth. He loves the deer in the compound, and is happy to see them thrive. They’re breeding rapidly this year, or so Yoongi tells him.

They walk on the grass, which is the darkest shade of green Jimin has seen naturally-growing before. Tiny pops of blue and white dot the landscape in little beautiful flowers. Even the black of the alpha’s hair looks glossier, like wet ink, or freshly-brushed furs.

They walk on either side of the dirt path that leads straight back from Yoongi’s cabin toward the river—Jimin stays in the grass to avoid dirtying his bare feet, and the alpha mirrors Jimin just to humor him. Eventually, they come to the larger rocks and pebbles that line the river. Jimin can hear the sound of the river, and then he can see the water, but no matter how far he stands over the river’s edge, he can’t see the other side.

Yoongi turns to him. “You’re safe,” he promises.

Jimin really loves him.

“I know,” he says, and looks into the rippling water. On the surface, he sees a perfectly-clear image of antlers on his head.

 

 

 

Jimin wakes up feeling cold even in the middle of his bed. He has a headache.

“Jimin?” He doesn’t have to open his eyes to hear Hoseok’s quiet voice. “I thought I should wake you up. It’s not very late yet.”

“Cold,” Jimin murmurs.

Hoseok laughs. “With all these furs? You really are a little pup.”

“Nnn,” Jimin whines.

But Hoseok just laughs again, and chirps: “‘Morning.”

Jimin can start to see light behind his closed eyelids—not deceptive yellow light, but the familiar grey Winter light of the compound. “Weird dream,” he complains in a murmur.

“Yeah?” Hoseok’s hand is warm over his hair. “Maybe you should go see the elders. Have you ever had a dream interpreted before?”

Jimin shakes his head where it’s buried deep in the sheets. He doesn’t want to have his dream interpreted, he thinks. He can barely remember his dream at all. He stretches under the blankets and lethargically brings himself into awareness; crunching snow, dead leaves, and the sound of sparklers from the previous evening all bring Jimin comfortably back to reality.

“What time is it?” He sits up in bed and checks his phone for an exact time while Hoseok assures him that the first shift hasn’t started yet. It’s a little past nine; Jimin has had plenty of time to sleep in.

He pats his bed for Hoseok to climb onto, and before he can worry about distance and types of friendships and social boundaries, he curls up into the omega’s side.

Hoseok freezes, for just a second, and Jimin knows it’s because he’s not acting like himself. He must be wondering if Jimin is sick, or if he should have let Jimin sleep more, so Jimin finally asks, “What are you doing today?”

Hoseok’s head rests on his own. “Not much,” he admits. “I don’t go in until the afternoon. I actually thought I'd come check in on your plans."

Jimin just shakes his head. "Nothin'," he says while he yawns. "It just feels weird to relax."

"I know," Hoseok admits. "I always try to keep myself busy after a heat."

Jimin rolls his ankles around in a lazy stretch beneath the sheets. He considers telling Hoseok about the night previous with Yoongi, but doesn't know where to start. Then he briefly wonders if Yoongi would ever tell the omega himself—but he nearly laughs thinking about how ridiculous the idea sounds. He can't imagine the carpenter gossiping to his assistant in the workroom, especially knowing so much about Yoongi's personality.

Hoseok huffs at him, like a brother. "What are you smiling about?"

Instead, Jimin curls up and admits, "I told Yoongi I'd find an excuse to see him."

Hoseok snorts. "I give it three days before he breaks tradition and sticks back to your side," he says sarcastically. "You got any ideas?"

"Not particularly," Jimin admits. "I thought I could cook? But we'll have already eaten..."

"True. I'll help you figure something out," Hoseok murmurs. "Keep that idea, though—Yoongi probably won't tell you himself, but he likes to be babied."

"He what? " Jimin even jerks up a little in bed.

Hoseok takes the initiative to straighten up and stretch. "I'll tell you all about it, but let's get moving. Want to do something productive?"

Jimin nods and sighs in relief. "That sounds great," he admits. Still, he promises himself to bother the omega for the information.

The omega moves out of bed—reluctantly, and not before ruffling Jimin's hair—and says, "I've got an idea."

 

 

 

That’s how Jimin ends up buried in the omega’s wardrobe again.

“Do we even have a festival coming up again?” Jimin asks the question while pulling a silk shirt over his head, and the sentence comes out appropriately muffled.

Hoseok is pinching the loose end of a tape measure between his teeth while he pins a pair of pants up an inch or so.

“No,” he says, but then pauses. “Well, not one that I know of. But they happen all the time.”

Jimin shrugs. It must be fairly easy to set up a celebration with so few people in the compound to inform. Still, he feels like they're playing dress-up rather than doing anything productive.

The fabric Hoseok pins is a gorgeous and vibrant orange color, but his mouth is turned down. “Your ankles are so tiny,” he mumbles. “Do you have any color preferences? I think we could probably get a set made up fairly quickly—you’re welcome to borrow my stuff, but it might be nice to have something of your own.”

“I don't really have anything specific in mind," Jimin admits.

Hoseok pauses, and the expression on his face abruptly turns serious. “What if you were performing for Yoongi?”

Jimin jolts—Hoseok nearly jabs him with a needle, sighs with relief under his breath when he doesn’t break any skin, and then stables his hold around Jimin’s ankle.

“I don’t—if I were what?” Jimin blurts.

“It’s fine,” Hoseok mutters. “Pretty sure you all use white out there, anyways.”

He pulls the fabric tighter around Jimin’s ankle until falling over becomes a legitimate threat. Only once Jimin is nearly toppling over does he push a pin through.

“Sorry—” Hoseok is making little black marks with coal where the fabric is folded over, “I don’t normally use an old set to measure out a new set. I thought I had a better measuring tape, but I think Taehyung took it—probably planning to do the same thing.”

The way the omega says it makes Jimin think twice. "Why?" he asks pointedly.

He's leaving it up to Hoseok to give him a full explanation. But Hoseok just says: "You never know when you'll need something new. But Taehyung and I really just like to dress people up." The omega looks up at Jimin and winks, though. “I got hold of you before he did.”

Jimin sticks his tongue out, and asks sarcastically: “Is there some kind of a deadline or something?”

Hoseok snorts. “Sure. It’s called How Much Time Until Yoongi Steals Jimin Away Again.”

Jimin shuts up at that. He doesn’t think Hoseok even knows about the night before.

“Can I ask you a question?” Jimin blurts, before he realizes it.

“Of course.” The omega’s tone is matter-of-fact.

“You said you don’t want to mate right now, right?” Hoseok nods while he switches to Jimin’s other foot. “I get why, but have you ever thought…”

“That I’m missing out?”

“No,” Jimin corrects hastily. “No. I was thinking like—of sticking with one?”

Hoseok sits back on his heels, looking bewildered. “Sticking with one alpha? I hope you know that’s the same thing as mating one.”

“Well—yes,” Jimin hedges. “But what about just—not mating, but there are a lot of steps before that.”

“A lot of steps before that,” Hoseok repeats, brows furrowed.

“Like getting to know each other,” Jimin stalls. “And spending time together.”

Hoseok’s lips are turning up at the corners cheekily. “I’m pretty sure those two are the same, but yes, I’ve done that.”

“More than that,” Jimin says frustratedly. He doesn't want to ask directly after it, but—“Not mating—but moving in together with someone. Have you ever done that?”

“That usually happens after intention,” Hoseok says, eyes squinting. "I haven't ever met an alpha I liked enough to think about becoming their intended."

“I don’t really know that much about that,” Jimin admits, feeling stupid and standing panicked with Hoseok’s silk shirt twisted around his waist.

“It’s what happens after—wait.” The omega’s lips turn up fully. His entire posture rounds on Jimin, and he asks sensationally: “Is this the face of an omega considering intention?”

Jimin balks, backpedals—”I don’t know anything about that—”

But Hoseok is grinning like the cat that got the cream, leaning forward and digging his elbow into the crook of Jimin’s knee until his legs nearly bend beneath him. “Did our Alpha Min Yoongi mention something during the heat? You look like you know more than you let on.”

“No,” Jimin says hushedly, looking down at the pins dangerously near his ankles. “No, no. I definitely do not know more than I let on. Probably less.”

“Then why mention it now? Feeling hopeful?”

Jimin bites the inside of his lip. “He mentioned—”

Hoseok’s jaw drops. “—Intention?”

“No,” Jimin blurts. “Moving in together.”

“They’re the same thing, Jimin,” the omega hisses. Even with the hiss, though, his eyes are bright and his grin is huge. “Intention happens before that. What do you even think intention is?

“The step before mating?” Jimin’s throat feels thick and full of apprehension.

"Step before—" But Hoseok sighs. “Well, you’re not wrong,” he offers. “There’s a lot more to it, though.”

“Like?”

“Like,”—a pin is jabbing Jimin very subtly in the ankle—"You’re allowed to sleep with your alpha outside heats. You definitely aren’t allowed be spending any time out with Yoongi once the sky blackens, but what the elders don’t know won’t hurt them, and also I already heard about last night with Seokjin—showing up with pine, by the way, is so cute, it must have taken him forever to braid those, and who knows how many weeks ago he picked up all the needles to dry—”

Jimin, with a flaming and red face, clears his throat.

“—Right.” Hoseok looks up at the ceiling, pondering. “After you're intended, the elders will get off of your back, basically—there are a lot of other perks too that come with the declaration, like generally having claims, being able to have first hunting rights, and less heat propositions—"

"So what is it?" Jimin huffs.

Hoseok’s gaze focuses back on him. “Intention is a ceremony,” he defines shortly. “To declare intention to mate before the elders. It's the first ceremony before the Bonding ceremony—like the stage before the mate bites.”

Jimin’s mouth drops stupidly into an ‘o.’

“He sounds like he wants to ask you to be his intended, Jimin. I don’t think you need much more of an excuse to see him tonight than that.”

Hoseok’s face looks equal parts frustrated and excited—torn between Jimin’s stupidity and Yoongi’s news. Jimin, internally, feels the same.

 

 

Hoseok had carried out his little dress-up scheme with much more fervor after that, smiling and humming. And Jimin had gone along with it, occasionally asking questions that Hoseok had already answered, but with it all finished and the time for lunch having passed, Jimin walks to his shift with his brain in a fog.

Jimin would like to go into his shift fully prepared, but instead, he finds himself distracted. He’s admittedly eager to see the pups and fully cement himself into the classroom again, but as much as he wants that, it isn't easy to think of anything but Hoseok's words and Yoongi's words all together in a mush.

Hoseok had seemed to treat—or had definitely treated, without any kind of uncertainty—moving in together and Intention as one and the same. Yoongi had said it himself to Jimin, the very previous night—

I’m not supposed to ask you to take your things and move them into my home, Yoongi had said, and then he'd looked at Jimin—I'm compromising.

It leaves Jimin warm and full of rushed thoughts under the alpha's furs, which he lifts carefully to avoid the piling snow leading to the schoolroom.

The alpha had clearly told Jimin he'd wanted to bite him. Jimin knows that could very well mean he wants to mate. His instinct, the part of him which he tries to not listen to when it impacts his hopes, tells him it's more likely than not that Yoongi sees Jimin as his potential mate... And the excited part of him—the warm part of him that wants to squash down more snow beneath his feet just for the fun of it—thinks that the alpha thinks of Jimin as his ideal potential mate.

Hoseok's news definitely shortens the timeline. The more sober part of Jimin is worried about how much else he might not know. He’s worried about how much Intention might speed up the pace, too, and how it might give Jimin a mark on his neck much sooner than he'd ever considered.

But if the happy part of him is ignoring the consequences for just a minute and skipping on the way to the schoolroom—only when he doesn't see anyone around—well, it isn't so bad.

Thoughts of what-ifs and what could-bes leave Jimin completely oblivious to the chill of the snow, to the little flakes that stick wetly to his nose and his eyelashes.

By the time he breaks through the treeline, he can see that the walks of the compound are busy even while covered in snow. Noise calls at him even from the feet away, growing more and more present as he walks forward to join it.

He moves quickly through the more dense parts of the compound, bustling with omegas and alphas carrying goods between buildings and hustling out of the snow with chatters of complaint, but he does nearly stop when he sees an older omega hustling under an itchy-looking coat.

"You again, huh?" Sohyang cracks a grin at him, and Jimin is reminded of the same wicked grin, the same missing teeth.

"I have shift in the schoolroom," he promises. He feels like a grandkid, constantly needing to give his whereabouts.

"Be warm under the moon," she says peaceably, a formal greeting that Jimin rarely hears. Then her bony fingers wrap all the way around his arm, and she says: "Come visit me soon. My grandson never does."

He nods obediently, not knowing what else to offer. He doesn't think he's a good replacement for a grandson, but with the woman's old age, he supposes it might not matter.

She wags a finger at him and laughs even while she walks away. "I'll give you a few days, but I'm hoping for tomorrow," she admonishes. "I've heard some interesting rumors about you and your favorite alpha. I've got some more advice for you."

Jimin can only describe his bodily feeling as a physical manifestation for discomfort. He nods again, feeling himself bound in a promise that he hopes to avoid.

"Now go on," she rasps. "I noticed another alpha standing outside the schoolroom. I think I saw him holding a gift."

If possible, Jimin thinks the shade of his face might be becoming more even with the snow. Sohyang only cackles at him, releasing his arm as she walks away.

With the warning, Jimin experiences equal parts relief and dread as he trudges through more snow towards his shift. It makes the shorter walk a longer one; he's relieved to have the warning, but when her words become true and Jimin spots a figure in furs lingering outside the schoolroom, he knows the alpha can't be waiting for Seokjin. He doesn't look like he has any pups in school, either.

He tries to sneak in behind the man's turned back—the snow is crunching under his boots, but there are plenty of other people on the path beside the schoolhouse, and there's plenty of chatter in the early afternoon.

He thinks he'd make it, too—but then his foot lands on the first step of the porch, and the alpha turns around. Jimin bites his lip to keep from audibly cursing, especially when he recognizes the face.

"Jimin," the alpha blurts, and smiles. The smile is awkward.

“Shin Hoseok,” Jimin acknowledges, equally as awkward. It doesn’t help the situation to tack on the alpha’s last name, but without it, Jimin can only think of his friend, the smiley dancing omega helping out in Yoongi’s workroom.

He’s also surprised to remember the name of the alpha in front of him. Shin Hoseok had helped Yoongi carry in Jimin’s furniture, he remembers, just before his fever had set in.

Jimin actually expects Hoseok to relay a message from Yoongi; he knows the alpha is good friends with him. Still, Jimin is quickly reminded of Seokjin’s warning.

“Omega Park,” Hoseok says politely. “It’s nice to see you again.”

He still has a broad smile on his face, the kind that makes Jimin’s suspicion strike up. Jimin pushes it down out of being polite.

“What can I do for you?” He’s trying to be as polite and direct as possible. He even asks, just to show he remembers their friendship: “Is Yoongi doing okay?”

Jimin really hopes the man just wants to deliver a message from his alpha, even while he knows it's unlikely.

Something like realization passes over Hoseok's features and slackens his smile a little. “I’m sure he’s fine,” Hoseok smiles on. “I had just wanted to catch up with you.”

Jimin hadn’t spoken to him directly since he’d been introduced to Hoseok, right after he’d jumped into Yoongi’s arms. He just nods at Hoseok in response and subtly turns further toward the schoolroom.

“How has everything been going?” Hoseok asks.

Jimin looks at him in confusion. He makes a little questioning sound.

“I know it has to be hard,” Hoseok says, “moving to a new place.”

He’s really starting to wonder when he’ll stop being treated like the transfer student in high school.

“I’ve had a lot of help,” he says. “I’m enjoying it now.”

“Really?” Jimin’s response seems exciting for the alpha. He also seems the most genuine, which makes Jimin feel bad. “That’s surprising. I would have figured, you know, there’s a lot more stuff—”

He cuts himself off. Jimin is now facing the top porch ledge of the schoolroom, waiting for Hoseok to finish. But the alpha's expression cracks.

Hoseok blurts: “I’m not trying to be underhanded.”

Jimin’s knees lock beneath his furs. He wants to move his legs around and relieve some discomfort.

Hoseok is reaching into his jacket—Jimin is thrown back to a very similar situation with Chanyeol, with the bracelet—and Jimin's stomach leaps up into his throat when Hoseok pulls out a very dainty looking pair of earrings that Jimin might have actually liked if they had come from Yoongi.

“Everyone is all over you,” he states. “I’m not any better—probably worse, I like Alpha Min a lot—”

Jimin shivers even though he’s warm inside the silvery furs. “Thank you—”

Hoseok is already slipping out of his own coat. He’s not wearing much but a thin sweater beneath, and he shivers as soon as the wintery air hits him.

“No—no,” Jimin blurts. Hoseok stops moving immediately, and so he feels rude immediately after. “I’m not cold.”

He’s not cold. That’s not what it’s about. Hoseok knows he’s not cold—he can see the coat Jimin wears, and he might even murmur something like “You can wear it with Resting Min’s furs”—and in one sweep, the coat is resting over Jimin’s shoulders.

Jimin’s eyes widen—the leather beneath the pelts feels heavy, and oppressive. It seems heavier than Yoongi’s furs, although Jimin truthfully knows the pelts he wears are much thicker than Hoseok’s. His spine curls in on itself, maybe beneath the weight or maybe just a part of the thoughts that say no and not mine

The alpha’s hands are still over his shoulders. “If wearing it above feels strange, you’re free wear it beneath Resting Min’s,” he offers.

Jimin shakes his head in a daze.

“I promise,” Jimin emphasizes, “that I’m not cold.”

Take it back, he wants to hiss. Probably would, if his body weren’t freezing and protesting every possible movement.

Hoseok just looks at him, and doesn’t move his furs. Jimin can see his torso tensing up from the cold. He really hopes the alpha will leave him soon. His whole body strains against the feeling of the coat, unnatural and stiff and stressful.

Jimin swallows. “I’m not actually… considering offers.” The words come out awkward and slow. He’s at least happy to have given the alpha an answer.

Hoseok stands still for a long time.

“It makes sense,” he finally resigns.

Jimin doesn’t know what he means by that. He doesn't care—he wants the coat off. His instincts want the coat off. He closes his hand around the handrail leading up the porch steps to the door behind him, and he hopes that Hoseok will get the message.

Above all, Jimin really doesn’t want to see one of Yoongi’s friendships strained. It probably already is.

Jimin doesn’t know what he’s going to do with Hoseok’s coat. Doesn’t know if he should tell Yoongi—doesn’t want the alpha to worry—doesn’t want any of the confrontation, the stress, but doesn’t want the furs that aren’t Yoongi’s on his shoulders.

But Hoseok just says: “You can rely on me if you need anything.” He leaves after that.

Jimin steps through the doorway before he can worry whether or not the alpha will be cold walking home.

 

 

“Seokjin,” Jimin hisses.

The omega jolts and looks up, surprised probably because Jimin doesn’t address him with a disrespectful tone.

His eyes widen as soon as he takes Jimin in.

“Oh,” he says. “Oh, sh—”

There are a few pups in the room, early arrivers. Jin hisses the rest of the curse, pressed between his lips to avoid escaping into the room, while he dances around the desk and around to Jimin’s back.

"A third alpha? " Seokjin asks it in disbelief. "When will they leave you alone?"

He peels the outer coat off of him gently, gingerly, and once it’s finally off and whatever locked-up part of Jimin relaxes—like coughing and sputtering after spending too long beneath a water level. Jin sighs.

“I have no idea what we’ll do with this,” Jin admits, looking at the brown pelts.

Jimin doesn’t know, either.

“I just needed it off,” Jimin shudders. His voice comes out weak. “Gross,” he spits, just to get the discomfort out of his system.

“This is ridiculous.” Seokjin is pulling open the door of the closet behind his desk. He pulls his own coat out—the nice silvery furs he wears when the occasion doesn’t call for his formal white ones—and carefully flattens them over his own desk chair. With his own coat settled, he tosses Hoseok’s coat inside with a cough.

“This is ridiculous,” he repeats. “You’re practically intended. Everyone knows you two were together; he knows you were in heat. He should know that this would be uncomfortable. This is—how is your neck?”

Jimin’s shoulders are hunched up to his ears. He groans.

“Yeah.” Seokjin comes back around and presses his fingers soothingly over Jimin’s shoulders. “That thing had a high collar. I can’t believe that happened. You’ll have to wear something of Yoongi’s. Is it too hot to keep his coat on?”

Jimin weakly groans and shakes his head.

Jin hisses. “I can’t believe he really gave you his coat with this in sight.”

“He said I could wear them both,” Jimin slurs tiredly. He doesn’t know why the coat had been so uncomfortable, like something seizing up.

"He—who said that?"

"Hoseok," Jimin mutters. "The one—friends with Yoongi—Shin Hoseok."

Seokjin literally scoffs. “That’s obscene, even to try for a power move. He’d smell how important these are,” Seokjin murmurs. “Trust me.”

Jimin makes a sound of acknowledgement and focuses on relaxing his shoulders. He reminds himself that he needs to relax enough to complete his shift, and that he hasn’t spent much time at all with the pups but he needs to do so.

When Jimin’s shoulders have finally slackened, and they've sat in tense silence, Jin finally asks him: “Are you going to tell Yoongi?”

Jimin grimaces. Jin shrugs sympathetically.

“I don’t know,” he admits. “I don’t know if I should or not.”

“It’s hard,” Seokjin admits quietly.

They both stay silent.

“Hoseok and Yoongi are good friends,” Jimin points out.

“It’s so weird—I’m not close with that group; I keep thinking of our omega Hoseok,” Jin comments. “He was there when Yoongi delivered your furniture?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says. “I met him then.”

“That was right before your fever,” Seokjin points out. “The smell might have had something to do with it.”

Hormones or not, Jimin isn’t happy that the coat was put on him.

“I just don’t want to stress his friendship,” Jimin says. “Hoseok—alpha Hoseok—told me he felt bad about it.”

“That whole group follows Yoongi around,” Jin says. “Especially the younger ones.”

“I don’t want to tell him,” Jimin admits, “but I think that I should.”

Seokjin leans back in his desk chair. Matches sit next to a hand-poured candle with a colored wax. The candle is lit, and the wooden wick crackles like a tiny fire. Jimin stares at it, feeling stress bubble up and crackle with it.

“I think,” Seokjin starts, “that the way Yoongi feels about you might have more permanency than that friendship.”

In bundling up with the alpha’s coat at the spare chair, Jimin hopes that what Seokjin says is true. He knows there’s more to learn about Yoongi, but still…

“Yeah.” Jimin nods into the furs he holds up to his nose. “I should tell him.”

Seokjin’s hand is warm on the back of his neck. His scent washes over Jimin, soft and comforting. His scent isn’t particularly sweet at all, but it still feels like a warm cup of tea.

“The pups are starting to fill up the desks,” Jin says quietly. “Let’s get the first activity started.”

With the decision made, it’s easy to stand up and scoot in Jihye’s chair.

 

 

 

It’s less easy to stay focused during his shift.

“You already did this one,” Jungwoo pouts. He’s hitting the page of the book in front of them with tiny fingers impatiently.

Jimin blinks several times and tries to refocus. In the other corner, Seokjin looks as elegant as ever helping Jihye with her book of choice. For Jimin, staying tuned-in to independent reading is one of his biggest challenges during shift.

“You know what,” Jimin says, “you are absolutely right.”

Jungwoo giggles and snorts. There’s a little snot on his nose, which Jimin wipes away with one of the many handkerchiefs he has learned to keep in the pockets of his pants.

“I’ll read it properly this time,” Jimin promises, “and then we can play a game before I go read with someone else. Is that more fair?”

Jungwoo nods into the handkerchief. Jimin reminds himself that he only has a half-hour left before the kids are done for the day, and while he might be as antsy as the pups themselves, he ought to straighten up.

“So,” Jimin begins again, once Jungwoo is situated. “Back to the hunt story.”

“The hunt story,” Jungwoo repeats excitedly.

The problem with being an adult capable of a much higher reading level than the first grade is that Jimin can still read a story properly while getting up to his own thoughts. As warm and distinct as the schoolroom is, Jimin thinks he can smell the ghost of a more unwelcome scent, even while he has been wrapped in Yoongi’s furs for the near entirety of the shift.

By the time the book is closed and Jungwoo has won more than his fair share of rock-paper-scissors rounds, Jimin feels nothing but antsy.

While he and Seokjin are cleaning up after all the pups file out to dinner with their parents, Jimin finds himself cleaning graphite off of desks and wondering how he’ll even begin to explain to Yoongi what had happened with Hoseok. He goes through as many options as he can think of: pulling Yoongi out of the dining room from the start, waiting until after the meal, or mentioning it sometime in between. The last is ruled out immediately; Jimin can’t imagine anything good happening if he were to explain what had happened in public.

Some alphas have been giving me gifts, he practices in his head.

—Who? He imagines Yoongi interjecting, eyebrows pinched together.

I didn’t say yes to anything, Jimin imagines he’d soothe, but I just thought I should tell you…

Jimin groans into the table. Should tell him what? That one of his close friends had forced his coat on Jimin’s shoulders? Could it even be considered forcing? Jimin had fully felt incapable of refusing, and had felt uncomfortable through the entire thing, but was Seokjin right in assuming Hoseok knew what he was doing?

“I thought I should tell you,” Jimin practices to himself, feeling very stupid for doing so, “that one of your friends put his jacket on me. I don’t know if it’s a big deal, or anything, but I was talking to—no, I just thought I should tell you—”

“It is a big deal,” Seokjin interjects quietly, “or you wouldn’t need to tell him.”

Jimin hadn’t even noticed the omega sit down in one of the tiny chairs to his right. With his broad shoulders and generally larger form, Jimin is tempted to tease him.

“Yeah,” Jimin breathes. “I know.”

“Just talk to him,” Jin encourages. “It’s not like he can blame Hoseok, you cutie.”

He pinches Jimin’s nose, shaking back and forth a few times.

Jimin scrunches his face up even in the hold. “Ew.” His voice comes out nasal.

Jin just laughs. “Let’s go,” he says. “The pups have all gone home. Aren’t you hungry?”

But Jimin isn’t hungry at all. His appetite only drops when they make their way into the dining hall. Worse yet, Jimin’s decision is irrelevant in the end.

It happens at dinner. Jimin had left the schoolroom with a fully-cemented plan in mind: he’d pictured eating dinner, listening to Taehyung’s antics—anything that would carefully and critically avoid mentioning other alphas and coats and a set of earrings that had turned out to be pushed into the pocket of the coat before it was given to Jimin. At least, he’d avoid it all until he could get Yoongi alone, preferably before dinner, but more likely after.

He’d thought about the coat and the earrings as he walked to the dining room. They would remain in the closet, he and Seokjin had decided, until Hoseok would eventually come back to the schoolhouse for them.

“And he’ll come back,” Seokjin had said before they'd left, looking appraisingly over the earrings he’d pulled out from the coat’s pocket. “No alpha will leave their furs with someone who has already rejected them.”

So Jimin felt less guilty knowing Hoseok would eventually have his coat back—but he’d still need to be sure a fight wouldn’t break out by telling Yoongi at dinner, where the alphas were likely in the same room.

The air inside is warm, but Jimin’s stomach turns uncomfortably. “I think I want to go home,” he murmurs to Seokjin.

The omega looks at him knowingly. “You can,” he acknowledges. “I’m not telling Yoongi where you’ve gone, though. We’ll see if he worries.”

So Jimin grumbles and shuffles forward through the entryway. It’s not like he’s worried about seeing Yoongi, anyways, or even that concerned about the conversation—something just tells him he shouldn’t go in, like the ghost of alpha Hoseok’s smell on his shoulders.

He decides he’s going to be upfront about it, though. Jimin figures that the sooner he gets it off of his chest, the less awkward he’ll seem in front of Yoongi. He doesn’t want to hide anything, and he practices the little pre-planned speech he’d thought of at shift, although he knows he’ll forget it and tell the alpha freely as soon as he can get the man alone.

Seokjin slides up close to Jimin as they cross to the head of the room. “Hoseok is here,” he says quietly.

“Where?” Jimin whispers.

“Northeastern corner table, towards the head.”

Jimin looks by carefully sweeping his eyes at about the average alpha’s chest level. He might look silly and unusual, but as soon as he sees an alpha not wearing his furs, his stomach drops.

“Why does it bother me so much?” Jimin asks. It’s not like Hoseok is mean or anything.

But Jin’s presence is validating. “It bothers me, too. He really put his coat over these furs?”

Jimin nods. They’re close to their table. In response, Jin scoffs and rolls his neck, muttering something involving a curse.

But they’re stepping up to welcoming faces, which is a needed change of pace. Taehyung is sitting straighter than usual at Jeongguk’s side; he’s looking between Jimin and his brother studiously, and likely knows something is going on. Jimin doesn’t blame him; he can tell that his face is giving him away when omega Hoseok, a much more welcome presence than the alpha of the same name, gives him a concerned look.

Then Jimin can see Yoongi, and the empty spot beside him; Jimin can’t help but perk up when he sees the man, and Yoongi returns his smile with a small one of his own.

“Tell him after dinner,” Jin finally advises, and walks around Jimin to sit by his mate left off the head of the table.

It throws a wrench in Jimin’s original decision, but he sits down by Yoongi happily anyways. The man has an arm around Jimin’s waist before he’s even finished sitting.

“How was your day?” Jimin asks. His stomach still turns, but it’s a little happier.

Yoongi has the small smile on his face that means something sweet is coming. “Better,” he answers indulgently. “How are you feeling?”

The reminder brings up barely-there but lingering aches, and lots of blood to Jimin’s cheeks. “Better,” he echoes.

He’s already grinning, and so is Jimin, although he tries to keep it from showing and offers his hand to the alpha under the table instead.

“Maybe,” Jimin hedges.

And it’s all so sweet: Yoongi’s attention, playing with each others’ fingers under the table, and even Taehyung’s disgusted throwing up sound from the other side of the table.

Jimin knows his face is red, and that it’s really too much to be doing in public, but he loves being doted on. He loves the hands that push a strand of hair behind his ear, straighten Jimin’s sleeves under his coat, and even help him out of the furs when he’s fully warmed in the heat of the dining room.

Everything is going well. Telling Yoongi about Hoseok will be no problem at all. Going with Seokjin’s recommendation was the right choice, he thinks.

The problem, Jimin learns, is that he’d forgotten Yoongi’s nose. The lingering scent he thought he'd imagined isn't so phantom, after all.

The dinner is slow to start. Taehyung is complaining about how it’s all the tension from the hunt ruining appetites, and how everyone ought to be eating more rather than less, and for once, Jimin agrees.

“So get to eating, then.” Seokjin jabs his brother in the side, already chewing.

Jimin is in the middle of laughing when he reaches for his own spoon, picking it up and leaning forward to eat just so he’ll avoid becoming the topic of Seokjin’s complaining—

Yoongi’s growl cuts Jin’s rant off. It cuts everyone at the table off, and within seconds, everyone else. From there, it’s all nonverbal.

Jimin registers that growl before anything; it’s a deep and resonating sound—or is it because the alpha’s nose is suddenly pressed against Jimin’s neck? Regardless, the wide-eyed look on Seokjin’s face across the table comes into view when Jimin freezes and his eyes do the focusing for him.

Jin’s face jerks left—to Namjoon, Jimin thinks—and Yoongi says nothing, just takes in a breath against Jimin’s neck and exhales in a growl until Jimin processes Hoseok. Alpha Hoseok. The smell on the jacket—and on the collar of Hoseok’s coat that must have brushed Jimin’s neck—

Yoongi’s teeth scrape over the back of Jimin’s neck, in the middle of the room, a reminder.

He’s so lost imagining the feel, and the deeper press not from the dining room but from Yoongi’s cabin, during the heat—more images flash, dirtier, a press inside feeling hot and wet—

Yoongi’s head snaps up—Jimin can feel the air shift against his neck, can smell the movement—and his growl is still low and loud—

Jimin knows in the instant Yoongi lurches up from the table that Hoseok is in trouble. He only gets a glimpse of his eyes turning dark and barely a peek of the stone expression on his face, but with all his attention on his alpha, Jimin is shocked when it’s Namjoon who snarls into the open space next.

Irritation bubbles up in Jimin somehow, but above that, he notices that Yoongi stops—not because of Namjoon’s snarl, he realizes, but because Namjoon’s arm has stretched out to grip the collar of the alpha’s shirt.

Something is telling Jimin to snap back—lead alpha or not, Namjoon has no right to snarl at Yoongi. He knows that Namjoon is probably keeping Yoongi from crossing the tables and benches, where the alpha Hoseok must be sitting without any furs on.

Still, Jimin’s stomach turns and clenches—it’s just not right.

Jimin doesn’t see the way Yoongi’s face changes when he turns and snarls right back. He snaps back over his shoulder at Namjoon—teeth clamping together, jaw snapping—and Seokjin is involved in the mix then, too, hissing at Yoongi for snapping at his alpha.

Jimin can feel the collapse that happens, then: Taehyung smells acrid like fear, omega Hoseok smells like a sweet mixture of sexual interest and intimidation—but Jimin doesn’t know how to react or how he should smell until he hears Seokjin’s hiss. The omega has a clear priority, but it still somehow makes Jimin’s blood run hot when Jin hisses not at his own mate, but at Yoongi.

It’s like an instant death grip: internally, more and more pressure, until he hears a crackling snap.

It’s a glass that breaks on the table in front of Yoongi as the alpha jerks out of Namjoon’s hold, pinned against the edge of the table. His elbow pulls back from Namjoon, and he strikes it—it’s too close to Yoongi, even after it breaks, and Jimin protectively swipes the largest of the clear glass into his own hand without thinking twice.

Like the fourth piece, Jimin snaps. He won’t snap at Namjoon, but an ugly bitterness sweeps up through Jimin’s throat and leaves his lips in a hiss, a loud and full of warning to Seokjin.

How dare he, Jimin thinks.

Even though Namjoon and Yoongi stop at Jimin's hiss, he’s ready to bite both Jin and his mate. Jimin doesn’t think about what it looks like, what that power feels like—Yoongi and Namjoon, Seokjin and Jimin—or even feel the instinct that wells up. He thinks it’s very clear that Namjoon has no place snapping at his alpha.

And he might have really snapped at them both himself, fists clenching—had Yoongi not jerked back against Namjoon to look at Jimin, or specifically at his hand.

It makes Jimin look at the table, too. It takes him a very long time to focus back in on the broken glass, and even longer to feel the sharp pain in his bleeding hand.

He’s so caught up in the adrenaline that even while he looks at his own hand, he hears that Namjoon is the one who sits down first.

He must know that Yoongi will take care of Jimin first.

And he does. He takes Jimin’s hands into his own very gently, with all the care he can for the bleeding one, and walks Jimin through the dead-silent room. None of the tension has dissolved in the room; instead, more lingers.

They're moving so quickly that Jimin genuinely believes Yoongi plans to ignore Hoseok when they pass the alpha's table. Hoseok sits somewhere in the middle of the lineup—Jimin doesn't look, keeps his eyes firmly on Yoongi's back while the alpha pulls him through the room—but Yoongi does stop just before they leave, and he does turn, and Jimin can feel how much he doesn't even want to look at the man.

Yoongi threatens him, low and controlled: "Try and make it back down the mountain."

 

 

 

When the double doors of Yoongi’s shop close behind them, the sound echoes all the way through the open space, even back into the workroom where the alpha takes him first.

The silence is tense with Yoongi’s anger lingering in the space. He rifles through the overhead cabinets above the workbench in the back room, looking from Jimin’s hand and back, until he pulls down a wrap of thickly-woven cotton.

Yoongi is...not trapped in his own headspace, exactly. He’s as attentive as ever when he peels back the cotton wrapping and situates Jimin’s hand carefully on the workbench, but Jimin knows what he’s feeling by the pinch in his brows.

“I can do it,” Jimin offers quietly.

Yoongi shakes his head and sets to wrapping Jimin’s fingers. The crease in his brows deepens when blood soaks clean through first layer of cotton, but by the third, he’s able to tie off the white band.

He’s not happy about it: tension radiates off him in waves, and Jimin can even feel the restlessness in his hormones. Even a squeeze to Yoongi’s hand does little to mollify the alpha.

“Let’s keep it straight until it scabs over,” Yoongi murmurs quietly.

“It wasn’t a deep cut,” Jimin offers.

And it’s true—true enough that Yoongi doesn’t argue. He places Jimin’s hand carefully down on the workbench.

Jimin looks at Yoongi and shivers, though not because the workroom is cold. The door of Yoongi’s office is shut, off in the corner. The room is nearly dark, but a little light reflects off cotton sheets covering all the unfinished furniture spaced throughout.

Yoongi covers Jimin up, too, where Jimin leans with the small of his back pressed into the counter. When the parts of Yoongi’s body brushing Jimin’s tickle him like the pills of the old sheets in the room, he thinks of himself like the piece of furniture—not as an object, but as something built up by Yoongi.

There’s no reason for Yoongi to be so close, but he is. Jimin grips his hand, which still holds Jimin’s carefully to the counter.

“I wanted to tell you,” he admits quietly. He thinks it’s important to say, although Hoseok’s face is far out of his mind.

Yoongi’s jaw clenches. “It’s probably better that I found out.”

Jimin doesn’t ask why—just looks at Yoongi as closely as he can in the near-dark. He does tilt his head, just to watch the alpha’s face turn a little softer.

“I don’t think I could listen very well,” he explains, “once I heard a name.” His hand travels up Jimin’s waist and finds a place behind him on the counter, right over top of what must be furniture sketches. The paper crinkles softly.

Jimin shivers. “What’s going to happen?”

Yoongi looks at him levelly. He never says anything about what will happen to Hoseok. There’s a sweeping sound behind Jimin’s ears, traveling outward, and then he can hear the papers slip off the bench and down to the ground where the alpha flicks them.

Jealousy is hot on Yoongi’s face. Jimin knows what’s going to happen.

“I’m going to kiss you,” the alpha hints, “if you’ll let me.”

He only waits until Jimin nods.

Jimin thinks he shouldn’t be so surprised when Yoongi lifts him up into his arms, shouldn’t be so overwhelmed with just the kisses and the growls—shouldn’t be so shocked, again, when the backs of his thighs hit solid surface and he’s sitting on the workbench with Yoongi between his legs.

Yoongi touches him quickly, so rough that Jimin can feel how much he needs it but gentle enough that when he growls I hate it against Jimin’s lips, he can feel the vulnerability. He can feel the power in Yoongi’s shaking hands, too.

Jimin nods feverishly. “Me too,” he chokes out. He’s already wet.

When Yoongi isn’t kissing him, his hands are on Jimin’s waist under his coat to pull him forward by his knees—closer, and more and more overwhelming.

“I hate it,” Yoongi snaps, teeth and nose in the crook of Jimin’s neck.

I know, he thinks, and would tell Yoongi, but Jimin is scenting him up too, is pulling Yoongi in by his shirt and is squeezing his legs together around the alpha’s hips—

He’s whining when Yoongi’s hands reach and paw down his waist, to the waistband of Jimin’s pants, when Yoongi asks, Do you think I can’t smell you?

Jimin buries his face into Yoongi’s shoulder and shakes his head. He doesn’t stop grinding against Yoongi’s stomach, though—can’t tell when he’d started up.

He moans into the alpha’s shoulder, presses a kiss to the skin around his collar and gets a hot nip that pulls at the skin of Jimin’s neck in return, and his own hands are reaching for his jeans too. He’s trying to—pull them apart maybe, unbutton them, but Yoongi is kissing him again and he’s losing focus.

He jolts when Yoongi pulls him forward again, grinding together so slowly and harshly it nearly hurts. Jimin is the one who presses forward, though, puts all the pressure.

"Yoongi—" Their lips break away for barely a second, Jimin’s eyelashes low, his mouth barely working to form the words. "Yoongi, it’s not—it won't—"

He pulls at his jeans, so close to Yoongi’s grip on his hips, and Yoongi, with a chuckle so low and ragged it sounds like a growl, pulls back just enough to pull the fabric down and Jimin’s cock out. Yoongi presses it against Jimin’s stomach so hotly that Jimin shivers against his neck.

“It’s not—” Jimin swallows. His entire face burns—”It won’t—I’m not—” he says, like Yoongi doesn’t already know he’s a sad mess, like the alpha isn’t growling as he pulls Jimin’s pants clear down to his ankles and playing with the wet head of his cock.

Jimin knows what Yoongi is doing. As if Jimin has ever had any other focus, he wants Jimin to forget about everything but him, with long hot strokes and the scent that makes Jimin feel like Yoongi is the only alpha—not just for him, but the only alpha at all, the only one who leads Jimin’s knees apart which fall open on their own without any other teasing.

But Yoongi just looks down at him, eyes dark, and raises a brow. “You’re not…?”

Impatient, Jimin wants to whine. His fingers clench up, the muscles in his stomach squeeze together too—“Hurry,” he stutters instead.

Yoongi only wraps his fingers tight around the head of Jimin’s cock. “Like this?” He pressures over the visibly slick head again, rubbing over the slit with a wet sound, the kind that makes him nod jerkily.

Yoongi doesn’t give him a second to adjust. He nips Jimin’s collarbones and bites his neck harsh enough to sting. He licks hot stripes over Jimin’s chest and his nipples and down his stomach, into the waistband of Jimin’s underwear, smooth and hot along with his fingers—how could Jimin even think of another alpha?

His stomach jumps under Yoongi’s teeth. Bite it, Jimin wants to ask, and he might have after all when the alpha’s teeth nip him. Embarrassment at that, and at the sounds Jimin makes—whether they come out as words or not—makes his cheeks burn hotter.

He can hear the dull sound of the alpha’s knees hitting the floor. Yoongi only growls with his face between Jimin’s legs.

Jimin is clinging onto Yoongi with his shirt bunched-up over his nipples. He tries to bury both hands in Yoongi’s hair—his bandaged hand is pinned back down to the counter, but Yoongi can’t keep him from clinging on everywhere else.

He’s barely touching Jimin, aside from the hot press Yoongi keeps on his cock, and Jimin can feel how wet he is—can feel the slick that cools on the backs of his thighs, on the upper skin where his leg doesn’t meet the alpha’s shoulder.

“I’m—” Too hot, too wet, too much and not enough. Instead of saying any of that, he chokes again.

The furs bunch up behind Jimin’s back and over his shoulders where he has already slid forward on the workbench and farther down the cabinets. He can’t look anywhere but at Yoongi’s hand on his cock.

“I’m yours,” Yoongi snarls, right before he swallows Jimin. All Jimin can hear is You’re mine.

Jimin’s head knocks painfully against the cabinets behind him. He’s slick and overwhelmed, wetness seeping out of him onto the counter, and Jimin thinks he wants to hear Yoongi say it, say—“Mine,” he hisses, still pathetic under Yoongi’s growl, knowing he wants to hear it from Yoongi.

But at least he can feel the satisfaction—can even smell his own slick. Yoongi rubs it insistently into the underside of the thigh he holds in place.

Jimin can barely see the subtle movement between his legs. The feeling is so raw. Yoongi swallows down to the base of Jimin’s cock with a pressure he can feel in his thighs. He can feel it when the alpha pulls back to look at him, too, with the tips of his long fingers brushing Jimin’s grown-out pubic hair.

Even though he knows Yoongi wants to mark him, knows that there are more consequences, with things like upcoming hunts and words Jimin can’t remember all while he takes the benefit, all he can think—

“—Really like this,” Jimin whines.

And the alpha just—laughs, softly, pulling back from his skin with a lewd popping sound—which worsens Jimin’s whining. But it does gives Jimin the smallest chance for a  look he does not take at his own head against Yoongi’s lips, just before the alpha’s mouth parts and Jimin’s toes are curling inside his boots.

Jimin is so nervous with Yoongi’s lips are wrapped around him—he even tries to move the alpha back with both hands, too scared he’ll jump—but Yoongi’s hand is there, too, lowering Jimin’s bandaged hand again and pressing it safely against the workbench. The low and wet sound from his mouth doesn’t stop, and neither do Jimin’s legs—not even when his toes scrunch and the foot that’s curved over the counter slips down.

The grip on his hand makes jimin feel as if the rest of his body is being held down, too—like he should be keeping himself from squirming too much.

“Yoongi—” But Yoongi only sucks even more harshly around Jimin’s cock, until he jumps.

His hand flits back and forth, to his mouth when it’s too hot and he’d rather bite on his fingers than whine, and then to Yoongi’s hair again, when it’s just as hot but he needs to squirm and moving his legs just isn’t enough when Yoongi is in between. It’s too good, and Jimin yelps as much, all while Yoongi holds him down.

Jimin whines, more and more, heat building up, and finally Yoongi must see the heat on his face, feel the tightness in his body.

“Are you going to come?” He looks up at Jimin, lips wet.

Jimin shakes his head like the fist in his mouth is actually doing anything to muffle the pathetic whine that spills out. But he’s shivering from the spit on his cock and the pleasure where Yoongi doesn’t stop rubbing his fingers over the head.

Yoongi laughs again, warm air on his cock, and dips back down before Jimin can reach for his hair again. He might have shrugged, too—Jimin’s eyes are too teary, lashes sticking together and cold.

Yoongi licks at the workbench, at Jimin’s slick, before he sucks Jimin’s cock again, and he releases Jimin’s leg which falls uselessly just to drag his fingers through the wetness, too.

Jimin tightens his fingers in Yoongi’s hair. Yoongi’s wet fingers are playing with his rim, then—and when Yoongi doesn’t stop touching him, doesn’t stop sucking his cock, Jimin comes and cries and thinks that Yoongi is his and that he’s too good to Jimin.

When the alpha pulls back, his lips are slick and his eyes are dark. Jimin shivers in his furs.

“Fuck,” Jimin chokes.

Yoongi laughs softly.

Chapter Text

Yoongi walks him home only after the heat on Jimin’s skin has been threatened by the dull coldness seeping from outside into the workroom.

“You’re free to spend the night, if you’d prefer,” Yoongi offers. They’re stepping out of the workroom bundled up even more warmly than they’d arrived, courtesy of the extra sweaters the alpha had hidden away in his office.

Jimin’s face isn’t red from the extra layers, or from Yoongi’s offer, but at walking out into the busy post-dinner compound with a tacky sheen over his scent gland and more than enough pheromones to give away where they’d been—or rather, what they’d been doing.

He’s tempted to say yes—or even to just settle for a nod, considering his embarrassment, but as soon as the door shuts behind them, Jimin catches sight of two elderly omegas walking on the path before the workshop. They stare blatantly at Jimin and his alpha as they pass, even going so far as to slow their steps.

The way the wind carries their scent might be giving them away.

“I think it would be good if you walked me home,” Jimin lies stiffly. Their looks feel penetrating.

Yoongi sighs, but he puts his arm over Jimin’s shoulders. His hand curls around protectively over Jimin’s upper arm.

He juts his chin forward at them—Jimin’s jaw drops a little, although appropriately scandalized, he wants to giggle. It looks almost childish of the alpha, bringing up all sorts of posturing and delinquent nature. Even more ridiculous, he’s posturing at two old, gossiping women. Yoongi even has a little smile on his face: he knows what he’s doing.

“Don’t worry about them too much,” he advises quietly. The elder pair have turned to themselves.

Jimin laughs outright and gently nudges his elbow into Yoongi’s stomach. “Was it easier to stand up to Hoseok?” he teases.

Yoongi’s face falls serious, though, and he squeezes Jimin in closer.

“You have no idea.” The squeeze on his arm feels nice, even through the thick furs. Then: “Did I make the wrong assumption?”

Jimin doesn’t know what he could mean by that—”Huh?”

“Did you want them?”

“Want what?” Jimin is feeling more and more stupid by the second.

“Those furs.” His voice is low and calm, even—”I wasn’t trying to say you couldn’t take—”

No,” Jimin interjects.

And that’s probably going overboard—he can hear the tone in his own voice, lots of general repulsion. He finds cutting the alpha off to be embarrassing, but he still hasn’t really expressed himself properly, so he clarifies: “No. I didn’t want the furs at all.”

A pause from Yoongi. “That’s reassuring to hear.”

Jimin just nods, and ducks his head into Yoongi’s body beside him. “I thought it would be the same as—there have been a lot, lately.”

“Alphas?”

Jimin nods. Yoongi only squeezes him in tighter.

There are still plenty of people outside despite the cold; Jimin thinks it can’t be later than seven, considering he’d left in the middle of dinner, so it makes sense that the compound is still bustling.

By comparison, he and Yoongi let the chatter of the others serve as the backdrop, without saying much—it’s partially out of contentment to walk together, and partially out of the stares they receive.

Jimin doesn’t ignore those. Even without their lingering scent from the workroom, his neckline might be showing marks from the heat.

They’ve reached the porch of the omegean den before Jimin asks, coquettishly: “Do you always get stared at when you walk around?”

Yoongi has a soft little smile on his face. “That’s for you,” he corrects.

Jimin is sliding closer, and closer again, until he can guide Yoongi’s hands to his waist. It doesn’t take much convincing before the alpha pulls him in.

“I don’t think so,” Jimin hedges quietly.

“Even with everyone giving you gifts?” His brow raises. “And forcing them on you.”

The brow ticks at that. Jimin shrugs shyly.

“I think—” he swallows. “It’s better to tell you.”

Yoongi nods understandingly. In a quick twist, the corner of his mouth turns up—“You want to give me any other names?”

Jimin laughs and shakes his head. “Not at all.”

Fingers are edging up Jimin’s back, tickling even through the coat.

“You can always tell me,” Yoongi assures, but Jimin already knows. He leans in until he can feel Yoongi’s sweater against his cheek; the hug he gets is warm, comforting, and has a presence he thinks is distinctly quiet confidence.

“When is the hunt?” Jimin asks eventually, feeling like he’s already allowed too much time to pass.

Yoongi pauses against him, hands slowing. Jimin briefly wonders if the alpha can feel his heartbeat, and immediately feels silly when he realizes he’s still wearing the very thick coat of furs.

“I’ll check for snowfall tomorrow morning,” Yoongi answers. “Namjoon will likely declare in two days.”

“I thought you declared the hunt?” The hunting business is very confusing.

Yoongi laughs lightly. His breath puffs up in a little white fog.

“You’re right,” he says. “I did; I just left the details and the hard work to someone else.”

He winks, but the mention of the lead alpha makes Jimin sober up.

“Is Namjoon—is he mad at you?”

“No.” He takes Jimin’s hands, and sneaks them into the pockets of the furs; always keeping Jimin warm. “Namjoon and I have always fought.”

“I—Really?”

The alpha nods. “There was some room for rivalry as pups.”

“You don’t seem like the competitive type,” Jimin says dubiously.

“I’m not,” Yoongi assures. “I’m not the type to keep you cold either, though, and I’m doing that right now.”

The distraction puts a smile on Jimin’s face. “You just don’t want to leave,” he flirts confidently.

Yoongi tilts his chin back, exposing his neck briefly, which is so distracting to Jimin—he nearly misses that that the alpha looks—almost nervous? Shy?

The alpha makes a noise in the back of his throat, quickly and quietly, before he looks back down at Jimin.

“You should be inside.” He’s reluctant to say it. Jimin can tell.

“I wish you could come, too,” Jimin blurts.

Yoongi’s expression darkens instantly, and the grip on him tightens—Jimin can see the way his pupil expands to cover dark iris—

There’s a pounding from the other side of the door.

Jimin’s shoulders slump. Anger twinges at him too, at the interruption.

Hello!

It’s Hoseok. Yoongi’s expression doesn’t immediately turn irritated—he stops still, for a second, like he’s readjusting. The wild look on his face still hasn’t cleared when Hoseok calls:

Some of us need to leave the den.

Jimin jerks back, looking in the direction of Hoseok’s voice—at the front door—as if Hoseok can somehow see him through the wood.

He supposes that the interruption shouldn’t be so unexpected when they’re loitering in front of the den’s entrance.

I’ve been here for a while!” His fist pounds with a dull sound from the inside.

The exhale that Jimin hears from Yoongi is more of a hiss.

“Time for me to go inside?” Jimin’s voice cracks on the excuse. “It’s pretty cold out here, right?”

Yoongi just nods, albeit stiffly.

“I should go,” Jimin bluffs.

A reluctant-sounding groan from the alpha’s throat. Jimin is the one who has to move away from his hands.

The door cracks open until it bumps into Jimin’s side.

“Hello.” Hoseok’s voice can be heard clearly. “Hate to be nosy—really, Yoongi, I’m sorry—I really need to go back to the kitchens. I left my nice coat in there.”

“Your coat.” Yoongi deadpans.

“It’ll smell like food for days if I leave it,” Hoseok persists.

Jimin could almost swear that Yoongi’s eyes close, just a moment too long to be a blink, resigned. He focuses back on Jimin.

“Good night,” he says softly.

Jimin’s tongue is twisted, and he swallows around the response—“Tomorrow?”

“I’ll try and come find you,” Yoongi promises.

“You two sure bonded quickly,” Hoseok comments in tune.

Jimin bites his tongue. He takes a long step back, just so that Hoseok can open the door. The omega slides out in front of him, and waves Jimin inside.

Jimin himself nods, says good night in a voice too quiet to be heard properly, and slips inside. The alpha watches him until he turns the corner, Jimin imagines.

He doesn’t turn quickly enough, though, not before he hears Hoseok again: “I hope the workroom doesn’t stink as much as I’d imagine, Yoongi. I work there, too.”

Jimin just moves straight to his bedroom before the mortification can set in.




That night, after Jimin has already crawled into bed, Taehyung sneaks in. The door shuts behind him. Jimin pokes his head up over the covers.

Immediately noticeable is Taehyung’s stiff posture: his eyes are darting over the wood floor of Jimin’s bedroom, and his hands are limp at his sides.

Admittedly, Jimin is exhausted. He’s tempted to ask Taehyung what’s wrong, and to ask him to leave the room—he wants to go to bed, and Yoongi had taken up all of his energy. But placing the two names of his alpha and his friend into thought brings up a whole host of other ideas Jimin had briefly managed to forget about—about the hunt, about alpha Hoseok, about hissing at Seokjin.

With the latter in mind, Jimin thinks he might know why Taehyung is standing so stiffly.

“Taehyung,” Jimin murmurs.

“Hello.” Taehyung stands awkwardly behind his door.

Jimin is shocked that Taehyung would come into his room, so soon after Jimin had publicly snapped at his older brother.

It’s uncomfortable. Jimin can only think about Seokjin’s face, and about how—he might not know exactly how rude he was in the dining room, but he knows it was rude. Taehyung looks like he needs to say something, or that he has a stomach ache, or that needing to say something is giving him a stomach ache.

Then he asks: “Do you want to try sleeping together?”

Jimin coughs—sputters—chokes—“What?!”

“No.” Taehyung wraps his arms around himself and makes a vague image of a self-hug. “Like this.”

“Cuddling,” Jimin summarizes, just to be safe.

“Duh.”

So Jimin scoots over in his bed when he deems himself safe. Taehyung slides up behind him. Long limbs curl around him, and a nose buried in the back of his neck. It’s quiet, then, until his friend speaks up again.

“You wear furs to bed?”

Jimin nods into the pillow. “I’m always cold.”

“You mean you like the smell,” Taehyung corrects.

“That too,” Jimin admits.

Silence.

Taehyung wraps around Jimin like—well, not like a snake, but close. It’s a constriction that Jimin appreciates. He doesn’t even mind that Taehyung is in his bed and pressed up against his furs, despite the fact that his room smells a lot better when it only smells like Yoongi.

Jimin likes to smell like his friend, too, although in a very different way.

“You smell good,” he murmurs.

“You do too,” Taehyung whispers. He sounds like a little kid, like Jimin’s friends at sleepovers from childhood. When he starts tracing tingly little shapes over Jimin’s back, it isn’t surprising at all.

Jimin traces up and down the free forearm of Taehyung’s that is thrown over his body. He can feel Taehyung shiver behind him.

“You smell like a tiger,” Jimin says, even though he doesn’t know what a tiger smells like.

“I’ve never seen a tiger,” Taehyung murmurs.

“Me neither.”

“Hm?” He shivers again at Jimin’s tracing and kicks his feet beneath the blankets. “You’ve seen all the animals.”

“...No,” Jimin corrects lazily. “That’s not how it works.”

“You’ve seen it all out there,” Taehyung hums lazily.

“It’s too big,” Jimin corrects.

Taehyung snores behind him. Jimin lies awake and wonders how small Taehyung must think everything is. He thinks they’ll see it, though.




“Jimin.”

He can’t tell whose voice it is—maybe his mom? He asks as much out loud. Jimin doesn’t know why, but he thinks that he definitely doesn’t have school that day. A warm hand nudges his shoulder. Jimin just moves with the push, and falls back against the hand into his warm place in bed.

“Jimin.” It’s Taehyung. Jimin knows by the smell—but he isn’t ready to open his eyes, yet.

Taehyung is saying something like get up. It really is like Jimin’s mom.

“What’s wrong?” He’s half-expecting Taehyung to snuggle up with him, talking about Jeongguk. He hopes they can become intended soon, and his thoughts drift on that, on the two, on hair dryers which he misses, on ideas that become less and less defined. He’s falling back asleep—

“Jimin,” Taehyung hisses.

It must be the urgency in his voice that wakes him up—he’s awake enough for his brain to make the connection between urgent and urgent things in Jimin’s life: Yoongi, his mother, his phone which still doesn’t have promised service, the Hunt. Everything stressful rushes back for no reason at all.

Jimin rubs his eyes aggressively. His lashes feel stuck together, nearly glued. It stings the tiniest bit when he opens them.

“I’m up,” he says. His voice cracks.

“We have to get dressed,” Taehyung whispers. He leaves after, quietly.

Jimin is left alone. He sleepily wonders if it’s the same Taehyung who hadn’t seemed mad at Jimin when they’d slept together.

When Taehyung leaves, Jimin can hear that there’s a lot of loud talking outside his door—not directly outside it, but down the hall, and Jimin knows how close he is to the common space. Clearly, there’s something going on.

He turns over in bed—it smells like Taehyung—and looks out the single window he’s lucky to have in his room. The sky is pitch black.

Part of him is curious, though a larger part of him absolutely wants to ignore the noise and go back to sleep within the warmth of his blankets. He barely remembers having gone to bed in the first place—although as he thinks, more and more through the fog, of walking into his room, of taking a bath, of sorting through his thoughts in bed before Taehyung had come in to sleep beside him.

Realistically, though, he doesn't remember much of the bath or of the dreamy process that was crawling into bed. Yoongi had completely wiped his thoughts clean with everything in the workshop; Jimin flushes and wonders if that had been a dream, too.

But the noise down the hall is only increasing the more Jimin avoids it. Even when he covers his ears with the blanket, the muffled sounds are still invading, so he knows that lingering in bed isn’t an option.

The floor is freezing beneath his feet. He shuffles to the dresser first, because he’s too tired crouch down by the side of his bed where his phone sits. When he dresses, his pants are cold and slide up chilly over his legs and his waist. He puts on a long-sleeved shirt next, a thin turtleneck, and a thicker turtleneck over that. The shirt goes on early because he wants to do that the least, so he forces it first.

Two pairs of socks, inside out and adjusted so the seams won’t bother his toes when he slides on his boots. A cardigan next—his largest and thinnest, so that it fits over the layers but still will fit beneath Yoongi’s furs, which Jimin slips into last. His tired fingers hook the closures together numbly, quickly but not as quickly as he’d like. Only once he’s completely dressed does he amble over to his phone: it’s well before three in the morning.

He wonders if Taehyung had somehow pranked him. His soft demeanor from the previous night had been completely erased by a harsh one when he’d woken Jimin up; it leaves Jimin wondering what had happened to cause the change.

When he slips out of the doorway, he’s greeted by a soft murmuring that sounds suspiciously tense. It’s coming from the common space, he discovers, when he follows the sounds and sees that the fireplace is lit in the common area.

Omegas are all seated on the couches. There’s a lot of soft whispering despite the stressed looks on their faces, likely to avoid disturbing others sleeping in the den.

The scene genuinely looks to be a distressed mess.

There's a lot of arguing, for one. Jimin can see all the omegas talking over each other, and just by their tones, he can tell they're clearly trying to come to some kind of a conclusion.

So he stands there, looking sleepy, until Hoseok finally finds him at the front of the room.

"You're up, huh?" There are noticeable bags under the omega's eyes.

Jimin, too tired to properly articulate, croaks: "What the fuck is this?"

Hoseok groans. "Hunting rituals."

"At two in the morning?"

But Hoseok gives him a confused look. It takes Jimin a hot beat to remember that clocks are neither widespread nor necessities within the compound.

So he rephrases: "This early?"

"This early," Hoseok groans in confirmation. And then: "Are you dressed?"

Jimin looks over himself. His shirt is inside out. He is, at least, wearing Yoongi's furs.

"As dressed as I want to be," Jimin admits. "Am I going to have to do this too?"

Hoseok shrugs. "Jin was about to send me in to wake you up, so I'd say so, yeah."

The mention of Seokjin shouldn't make his stomach drop, but it does. Jimin can see the lead omega sitting down right next to his brother on the other side of the common space. He's digging through a large wooden chest of—something. Jimin isn't sure. Instead, he thinks about hissing at the man the previous night.

"Maybe I should fake sick?"

"Not a bad idea." Hoseok leans on his shoulder. "He's not mad, though."

"I'm sure he is," Jimin disagrees.

"I asked him about it," Hoseok persists. "He's not."

Jimin just grimaces.

"I think he's more pissed off at Joon," the omega admits. "He's the one who interfered, after all."

"What?"

"Yeah.” Hoseok scratches the inside of his ear. “I can understand wanting to protect the friendship there, but—there isn't much friendship there to save, anymore.”

It’s exactly the opposite of what Jimin wanted, but he supposes it’s not his fault, nor Yoongi’s.

“Also.” Hoseok continues. “It's not Namjoon's place to speak up when it's more than Yoongi himself being disrespected—there were more people being disrespected there that you might not know about, and it's all complicated, basically. I think he just feels awkward."

"Jin does?"

"Yeah."

"I guess that's... good."

Hoseok shrugs. "Better than being angry with you." He's yawning against the wall of the main space and he turns back to Jimin: "Should we go sit with Taehyung? He’s not mad, either.”

Jimin spots Taehyung with a spare seat closest to the fireplace.

“Yeah,” Jimin murmurs. He’s still not sure if he can believe his memory and the way his bed smells; Taehyung looks incredibly sullen.

Hoseok nudges Jimin along. He heads to the massive couch, even while it means he has to walk right past a bitter-faced Jieqiong who sits across the way. He’s too tired to even give her the jaundiced look he wants to.

He sits between Taehyung and Hoseok. Hoseok groans quietly and relaxes against him.

“Good morning,” Jimin croaks to Taehyung.

“Good evening,” Hoseok jokes back. Jimin cracks a small smile at him.

But Taehyung is stiff beside him. Jimin thinks there’s something about him that looks off, less welcoming.

Jimin’s treatment toward Seokjin at dinner comes to mind again, like a cyclical stress that pops up with increasing negativity; it makes him stiffen up, just as much as Taehyung.

Maybe Sohyang was wrong, he thinks—maybe Seokjin is mad after all, and even if he isn’t, maybe his brother is. Maybe Jimin really had been dreaming that Taehyung had curled up beside him.

Instead, Taehyung exhales a groan that’s too aggressive to be anything but incredibly stressed.

“This shit is so stressful,” he groans, and flops into Jimin’s side.

From the corner of his eye, Jimin knows that Seokjin is looking at them. The omega doesn’t even send a mild scold for the curse.

Maybe Jin really isn’t all that mad—or Jimin is more fucked than he’d thought.

“Why?” Jimin ventures.

“It’s the hunt,” Taehyung hisses, as if that’s supposed to explain everything.

Jimin just looks at him confusedly, shrugging. After so much time in the compound, he’s past the fear of looking stupid. He has to get answers in any way he can.

Hoseok’s eyebrows furrow. “It’s pretty dangerous. Smaller hunts are usually more coordinated, but… you know that hunting is dangerous, right?”

Sobriety settles in the base of Jimin’s stomach, even while Hoseok blurts—“It hasn’t happened in years, but injuries are common. I’m saying it just to be realistic—but have you ever even tried to kill an animal?”

“No,” Jimin readily admits. He wouldn’t even think of it, and even if he’d hunted before, it would have been with guns, bullets, bows, arrows, manufactured traps: innovations all unknown to the compound.

“You really don’t need to worry,” is all Hoseok says. “Yoongi has been hunting for years. I just know that someone will come back injured, and.”

And I don’t want you to be surprised, Hoseok means. Jimin can’t imagine being anything but surprised if he saw an alpha come back from a hunt with a bite mark—one that wasn’t an old scar from mating, at least.

Still, it’s all very important, but Jimin looks back to Taehyung. He’s still not sure if the omega is upset or not.

“So that’s why I’m going to steal Jeongguk and hide him,” Taehyung concludes.

Apparently not. The stress must genuinely be related to the hunt, then. Jimin feels, a little guiltily, like he has unfairly been let off the hook.

Jimin tries to smile. “I’m sure he’s a great hunter.”

But the look Hoseok shoots Jimin over his back isn’t so sure. He draws his mouth into a grimace.

“He didn’t come back with any kill last time,” Taehyung murmurs sadly.

Jimin thinks he’s fortunate not to see any dead animals up close, but Hoseok looks at Taehyung with a special kind of pity.

“To be fair, he follows Yoongi around,” Hoseok offers.

“Yoongi would leave a bird or something,” Taehyung groans. “My poor alpha puppy.”

Jimin bites his lip and pats Taehyung’s back. He might have to ask Yoongi about it all.

Before Taehyung can groan too much, Seokjin titters at a large group of omegas and leads them around the wall of the fireplace, presumably down the lefthand hallway, which Jimin has never turned down. He doesn’t know any omegas who live in those quarters—probably older omegas, he assumes.

It hits Jimin that he’d never asked why everyone was up in the first place.

“What are we even doing?”

Several omegas from a couch across the room shoot him dirty looks out of the corners of their eyes. Jimin is sleepily tempted to make a put-out expression right back at them.

“There are a couple pre-hunt traditions,” Hoseok says in a yawn. “I’m not sure which we’re doing, honestly.”

“Berries,” Taehyung groans.

Hoseok’s face falls.

Seokjin is coming back into the common area, with full hands and omegas behind him in the same state. In their hands Jimin can see baskets, wicker trays, and many, many hand shovels.

Hoseok groans. “Damn berries,” he confirms.

Seokjin is the one to speak up over the volume of the room. “Let’s get this over with; pair up and split off to dig.”

It’s the shittiest explanation Jimin has heard yet. He shoots dirty looks to Hoseok, Taehyung, and Seokjin’s feet rather than his face.




The so-called hunting ritual turns out to involve the outdoors.

“I want this ritual to die,” Seokjin spits exhaustedly.

He’s several feet away from Jimin. The omegas are all trudging out behind the den, each with a variety of supplies that had been passed out. A couple of them only hold gas-lit lanterns—but those are only the few omegas sick with a cold, it turns out.

In his hands, Jimin holds some sort of wicker-woven circular tray with a single handle. He has a small shovel, too, one that looks sharp enough for gardening, and a small basket. He wonders if he'll be digging up something and carrying it back with the tray as a lid for the basket, and he very quickly learns this isn't the case.

They’re all sitting on their knees before long, with only the tightly-woven straw placed underneath to keep the snow from sinking into their pants and wetting their knees. It doesn’t do a very good job.

“What are we doing?” Jimin whispers to Hoseok. He thinks his knees might turn numb if he sits there before long—unfortunately, it seems the baskets are there as a poor aid to do just that.

“Berries,” Hoseok responds exhaustedly. “A lot of berries.”

That’s all he gets in response, so Jimin pretends to sort through the snow like he actually knows what he’s doing. They all have picks in their hands, or thin shovel types, and rather than shifting through the snow, they’re stabbing downward—

So Jimin stabs into the ground too, through the snow, one, two, three, four times—

He pulls his shovel up, and with it, what looks like a terribly spindly weed wrapped around the spade’s handle.

“—Son of a bitch,” Hoseok mutters darkly. He looks at Jimin with a dark intent.

Jimin recoils instinctively. “What?” He asks defensively.

But Hoseok crankily drives the pick in his hand back down into the earth. He just mutters something like lucky bitch to Jimin, although he does look like he might feel a little bit awkward for snapping at him—it doesn’t keep him from digging into the snow with vigor, though.

It’s Seokjin who sinks down in front of Jimin on his knees.

“He doesn’t like being outside,” Jin says softly, in explanation. “It figures you’d be the first to dig some up. Do you know how to peel these?”

Awkwardness seeps up and over Jimin’s body. No matter what Hoseok had said, all he can think of is hissing at Jin in the dining room.

“You have to peel back the root to get at the seeds.” He takes a knife out of his pocket—Jimin, nervous, takes his own out as well—and he scrapes up the outer brown bark of the thickest roots.

“It’ll get sticky when you’re close to the pod—try and save the whole pod if you can.” When white comes back on his knife, looking liquidy and sticky, he stops and cuts off a piece about two inches wide. “This is all you need to do with the root. You can repeat it on all of these thicker parts, until the root forks off or comes to a single point.”

Jimin starts to scrape off bark and cut pieces while the omega continues.

“You need the berries, too,” Seokjin murmurs. “They’re harder to find in the winter. Even if they’re molded, you can take them. These are poisonous, anyways.”

He’s digging the snow off of the other end of the root, where it’s still stuck in the ground. He frees the other end carefully—rather than continuing root system, branches emerge. There are lots of dead leaves on the vines, as well as little black berries that drop from the branches and hang precariously.

“These are held on pretty weakly from the cold,” Jin instructs. He pulls at the part of Jimin’s wicker basket that his knees don't cover, fits the wide mouth of it beneath the branch, and knocks the branch with one hand while he holds it in the other—”You can just knock them off and pick off any extras that don’t fall in.”

Jimin picks up some of the leftover berries that had fallen off the branch before the lead omega had even picked them up. They all end up in the basket, along with the pieces of root. Jimin still has plenty to cut.

“Be careful you don’t cut yourself,” Seokjin murmurs quietly. “Your hands will get numb as we stay out here for a while. Don’t let other omegas come sit on your space; you found it, you keep it. Dig up as much as you can, too—we’re only out here for an hour.”

Jimin looks up at him, at Seokjin’s eyes, although the omega doesn’t look back at him.

“Why are we doing this?” Jimin asks.

Jin is still cutting up roots for him, although he doesn’t need to be. “It’s a really old tradition.”

“One you don’t like,” Jimin points out.

“He still drags us out here every year,” Hoseok groans from several feet away.

“We’re going to make dye,” Seokjin answers. “In the kitchens. The berries stink when you boil them. But you’ll paint Yoongi’s skin with the dye before he leaves for the hunt, just like every other omega for their alpha.”

“To make him stand out?” Maybe it's a scare tactic for predators, Jimin thinks—but isn’t it silly to make the hunter’s presence more visible during the hunt?

“It really only works as a repellent in the summer, when there’s enough heat to bring the smell off of their skin.” Seokjin has moved in closer—he’s adjusting Jimin’s hands over the knife, so that it slides through the bark easier. “It’s more traditional, now, I guess. Cover the skin, stain it—and it won’t come back bloody.”

Jimin is ready to say something, but the word bloody cuts him off.

And he thinks—yeah, it's a hunt, and it's nearly blizzarding and must only be worse farther up the mountain—but he hasn't necessarily thought of blood in the hunt.

He can imagine Yoongi hunting animals. Jimin had already seen him with three bears, whose furs Yoongi had already put to the tanning process. But for some reason, although it completely goes against the common way of nature, he can't imagine one of those bears injuring Yoongi.

"That makes sense," Jimin says, and he means it. If he can do anything, even superstitiously, just to make sure Yoongi doesn't experience an injury in the cold weather—he gulps.

"He'll be just fine," Seokjin assures. He has a surprisingly sweet look on his face.

"I know," Jimin says. If anyone will be, it's Yoongi.

It doesn't stop him from beating down the roots of the vines and cutting them apart until his hands are sticky. When that's done, he moves on to dig deep into the snow with his shovel again—when he pulls out more roots and vines and berries, he hears Hoseok groan again. The omega still hasn't found anything, as have most of the omegas.

It's not easy labor by any means. He can see why they've limited the time period to an hour, although he doesn't know who can really keep time without a decent watch—snow has already built up around the edges of the tray where he rests his knees, and his ankles are wet where snow has stuck to his pants above his bootline.

But Jimin's basket fills up quickly, and soon enough, he's throwing his vines full of berries to Hoseok.

"They're all going to hate me," Hoseok wheezes.

Omegas are admittedly giving them dirty looks. Jimin realizes that he's probably not supposed to help.

"You owe me," Jimin mutters. He has a feeling that his popularity ranking with omegas isn't nearly as great as it is with the alphas of the compound.

Hoseok just hums in agreement. He's busy cutting up roots, as is Jimin.

As it turns out, there's no real definition of an "hour." It makes sense, considering the complete lack of clocks in the compound, but Jimin still feels the need to watch the sun. As soon as Hoseok's and Jimin's baskets are full to the brim, though, so full that they can't use the basket to protect their knees, Jin gives them a look and juts his chin to the side. They've been excused.

The second Jimin stands up, a few omegas move from their place to his.

"I've never had this many in one year," Hoseok wheezes. "Did you know where they were?"

"How could I have?"

Hoseok nods. They're trudging on, and Jimin's knees and ankles are starting to feel plainly uncomfortable. The entrance of the den isn't far at all, but Jimin's patience is running out and their baskets are heavy.

The fireplace is still lit when they head into the den. Not more than four omegas have stayed back, sick with sniffles. Hoseok immediately strips his pants off in front of the fireplace—Jimin does the same, after the omega encourages him. They sit in their cropped long johns and cut apart the remaining roots.

“Are there that many this year?” Jimin doesn’t know the name of the omega who asks the question, but he knows her face.

Hoseok is answering, something about Jimin just being lucky, which gets a few reproachful looks from the omegas sitting at the couch, but Jimin is trying to place the girl. A tiny pinched nose, and a small mouth, but long and thin arms—she’s from Roa’s group, Jimin realizes, and by default, Jieqiong’s.

The situation suddenly becomes much more awkward. He wonders how much she must hate him.

But the expression on her face is pretty open. “You got back really quickly,” is all she comments, not unkindly, and then curls back up on the couches. “Are you going to try and dry them?”

Jimin shoots Hoseok a confused look. “Makes the dye darker,” the omega offers in explanation to him, and then to the girl: “I thought about it, but I don’t want to fight over fire space.”

She nods. “Who are you dyeing?”

“I’m not sure yet,” Hoseok admits. “Probably Heeyeon.”

She’s looking at Jimin expectantly. Jimin realizes that he’s supposed to answer the question, too.

“Oh,” Jimin blurts. “Uhm, Yoongi.”

Her mouth pinches at the corners, but she’s not outwardly rude. She nods. The other omegas in the room are looking at him as well. Jimin can feel it.

He tries to think of a way to keep the conversation moving forward—anything that doesn’t talk about himself or Yoongi. The options are nil, so relief jumps up when Hoseok is the one to save him by asking—”Do you have an alpha right now, Nayoung?”

He takes note of the name. Nayoung pauses, and nods.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of leftovers,” Hoseok says encouragingly.

Jimin looks at his own overflowing basket of berries and root. He has more confidence in Yoongi’s hunting than anyone else in the compound.

He doesn’t know if it means he’ll indirectly be insulting Nayoung’s packmate Jieqiong somehow, or if he’s involving himself in something he doesn’t need to be, but he still thinks that he should offer:

“You can have some of mine,” Jimin says.

And then he starts thinking about how it could be considered backhanded. He’s lucky to be confident in Yoongi’s hunting ability, sure. He genuinely doesn’t believe he’ll need to cover his alpha in any dye at all to make sure the man will come home safe—but maybe being so outwardly confident is an insult to Nayoung’s alpha, whoever he or she might be.

Or maybe Jimin is so used to making cultural blunders that he’s incredibly relieved when Nayoung’s eyes just widen and she says, “Thank you,” quietly.

Jimin splits a hearty portion of his off. “Of course.” He shrugs, like his heart hadn’t been beating up in his throat.

She slides off of the couch and sits down beside them on the carpet. Her hair is braided, and she has a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She’s still in some soft-looking socks, too—it reminds Jimin of his mom.

“Will we be having shift today?” She’s looking at Jimin, not even Hoseok.

As if Jimin has the authority to decide.

“I don’t know,” he admits. He looks to Hoseok, who shrugs his shoulders.

“The alphas won’t, for sure,” Hoseok says. He’s looking at Jimin, likely explaining for his benefit: “They never do in the days leading up to a big hunt. There’s a lot of preparation they have to do.”

Jimin nods. He tries to imagine what Yoongi could be doing, but the image he comes up with is blank and knowledgeless.

“Jin mentioned something about boiling? When does that happen?”

“All day,” Nayoung answers. “I usually help out, but if there’s shift…”

“I’m sure it’ll be a pretty lenient day.” Hoseok is removing the final pieces of bark from around the sticky pods buried in the root. “I don’t know what you’ll do about the pups, though, Jimin. Shift is usually shortened during the hunts, so you might just have a quick shift with Seokjin.”

His brow furrows. “I could probably take the shift myself,” he admits. He also thinks it’ll help soften any bruises between Seokjin and himself if he contributes a little extra.

Nayoung’s eyes widen a little, but she doesn’t say anything.

“Way to avoid the boiling berry stink,” Hoseok jokes.

Jimin rolls his eyes. “I’d rather smell them than pick them,” he mutters. “Why did we do it so early?”

“The roots are less sticky when it’s cold,” answers Nayoung. “So it’s easier to harvest while it’s still really cold and the sun hasn’t warmed up the ground. But you’re allowed to go back to bed.”

“We are?” He looks to Hoseok.

The omega nods. “Especially if you have afternoon shift. I won’t have shift at all—perks of working under an alpha—so I can watch your basket.”

“Will you tell Seokjin I’ll cover the morning and the evening shift?”

Hoseok shakes his head. “You’ll only have a morning shift, for sure.”

“I guess that’s fair,” Jimin murmurs. “Although I wish I could move it to the afternoon, maybe get some sleep.”

“I can dry yours, if you want,” Nayoung interjects.

Hoseok’s eyebrows raise. He looks at Jimin.

“I don’t think I’ll get too much fuss about it, since I’m sick,” she continues. Hoseok is unsubtly nodding his head.

“Uhm.” Jimin guesses that he probably should. “As long as it isn’t inconvenient?”

Nayoung gives him a small smile. “It’s not. I can pass them back over to Hoseok to go to the kitchen.”

Hoseok himself ruffles Jimin’s hair. “Go teach the pups, pup.”

Jimin can’t really argue with that, so lingers in the den only long enough to change into dry pants and socks before he leaves.




Jimin spends his break before shift wandering over to the kitchen in search of a quick meal, only to find that it’s deserted outside. The lack of chatter heard around the compound is surprising, but as soon as he trudges close enough to the dining room, he’s no longer surprised: even with all the doorways open to the wintery outdoors, the entire area stinks.

He marches back to the schoolroom with a decidedly decreased appetite.

He doesn’t even need to know how the dye is made anyways, and he safely digs through the doors in Seokjin’s desk for some of the dried fruits and nuts he keeps in a large box at the back of the third drawer down.

Jimin had half expected Seokjin to come by—before shift, at least, even if just to make sure that he had the shift under control.

He’s probably busy, Jimin figures, but that doesn’t keep him from wondering if the omega hates him any less.

Jimin sits down directly in Seokjin’s seat behind his desk, smells the dried flowers in the old lantern he keeps on the corner. The smell is familiar, but instead of bringing comfort, Jimin just feels a pit in his stomach.

Ultimately, he’s embarrassed.

Hissing at Seokjin—and feeling so prepared to fight him—makes Jimin curl in on himself. The scene doesn’t stop playing in the back of his head, regardless.

Still, he doesn’t fault himself, and he doesn’t necessarily feel guilty, even when a few of the pups come in with wandering eyes. They’re clearly looking for the lead omega.

They’re not the only ones to come through the door, though; when the door creaks open with the particular volume of being pushed open to its widest point, Jimin looks toward the door curiously.

“I’d be worried about interrupting, but hell,” the warbling voice cracks.

Jimin can’t see Sohyang’s face, but the distinctive rasp in her voice confirms her presence. He gets up to greet her before she can finish taking of her coat.

“What can I do for you?” But the question is too formal—she turns to him with a brow raised.

“Filling in,” she answers sassily. “I ran this classroom long before your tall friend did.”

“Seokjin?”

She blows a raspberry at him. “Sure, him. Is my coat rack still in here?”

“Uhm.” Jimin figures she might be sticking around for a while. “There’s one—”

“Painted black? In the closet?” She’s already gliding toward Seokjin’s desk. The few pups in the room watch her reproachfully as she walks around their short tables, eyes following like a wary trail.

“It has an alpha’s coat in it,” Jimin warns.

“The gangly one? Or Yoongi’s?”

“Neither,” he admits. “Someone else’s.”

She throws it over the back of Seokjin’s desk chair and raises an eyebrow. “You’re flitting around? While you’ve got Min Yoongi waiting on you?”

The accusation is the only thing that makes Jimin flit—or fidget, rather. “Not at all.”

The eyebrow drops; the interrogative mood passes just as quickly. “Persistent courting elsewhere, then?”

“You could say so.” He winces.

She pulls the chair back and sits in it. “I’m guessing that’s what all the gossip is about. The Min line isn’t known for being openly violent—although your neck is suggesting something different.”

Jimin weakly pulls up the edge of his turtleneck.

“That shirt’s inside out, pup,” Sohyang points out.

Jimin realizes he hadn’t changed it since setting out for berries early in the morning. He feels as if he could choke on his own stupidity.

He decides to change the topic. “You said you were filling in?”

Her expression brightens up, skin stretching smooth over the apples of her cheeks, and her lips part over straight teeth. Jimin spends several long seconds wondering why she looks ten years younger before he registers the small smile on her face.

“I’ll help you out.” She’s smoothing her hands over Seokjin’s desk, wiping away nonexistent dust. “How long have you been teaching? I didn’t realize you were such a contribution.”

“Just since I came to Compound,” Jimin admits.

She shrugs, a flippant move. “That’s perfectly fine. I had no idea you were participating so well; that’s excellent.”

Jimin is confused. Sohyang repeats: “Just excellent,” contentedly.

“I was a little worried in the beginning,” she admits, “but I think this makes you a fair fit. We’ll see how the hunt goes.”

Jimin is seconds away from admitting he hopes the hunt will go well for the alpha’s sake, but one of the pups has stepped up to Seokjin’s desk with wide eyes and a pencil in hand. Jimin already knows who she wants to ask for.

“Jin’s helping out in the kitchens,” Jimin explains.

“Why?” Taeha asks.

Jimin just shrugs. “Others need the help.”

“Can’t you help in the kitchens?”

He tries to ignore the annoyance that bubbles up; the little pup’s expression is clearly earnest and honest.

“But then who would be here to teach you?”

Taeha frowns. “Are you mated, Omega Park?”

“No,” Jimin blurts, flustered. The little pup has taken out her long, wide pencil and is writing over the spare papers Seokjin keeps on the ends of his desk for the pups to draw over.

“Are you gonna be?”

Sohyang snorts beside him. She’s rummaging through Seokjin’s drawers, pulling out things of interest.

“Well, maybe,” Jimin hedges. Other pups are filing in and sitting in their seats; it’ll be time to start lessons within a few.

“You should do it,” Taeha decides. “It’s what you do.”

“Sorry?” Jimin watches her little hand circle over the paper. “What do I do?”

“You grow up and you mate and then you have pups and the pups go to school and they learn multiplication sometimes,” Taeha says in one long string.

“I see,” Jimin offers. “They should definitely learn multiplication, though.”

“That’s because they’re the teacher’s pups. They have to,” she corrects.

“You have to learn, too.”

The resulting expression Jimin gets from that is anything but enthusiastic.

“I guess,” she mutters, and leaves Jimin with a nice drawing of a doe on Seokjin’s desk.

“Even your kids want to know about your personal life,” Sohyang comments.

Jimin sighs. He doesn’t even want to know about his own personal life. “Would you like to start the day out in any particular way?”

She looks at him quizzically. “Are you asking me for a song choice?”

Jimin pauses, and shakes his head.

“Does the tall one not start out with music?”

Another head shake.

Every trace of the smile on her face crinkles downward. Jimin thinks he lost all of her favor with just one comment.




“Here are the rules: do exactly what I do. That’s it.”

Sohyang is sitting in Seokjin’s chair, which has been dragged out by Jimin at her instruction. They’ve prompted the pups to sit in a circle, cross-legged, and Jimin had sat down himself without needing to be instructed so. He thinks Sohyang herself would have sat if she were a good few years younger.

Having settled down, Sohyang gives instructions in a surprisingly soft voice:

“No faster, and no slower. It’ll be good if we all do it exactly the same way, but it will be ruined if one person speeds up or slows down.”

The pups are a serious sort of quiet.

Jimin feels a little on edge himself, but he doesn’t have anything to worry about—the old woman brings her hands before her chest into a clap, and brings both palms down onto her knees in a slow and steady one, two, one, two beat. Within seconds, the pups are doing the same. It takes a pointed look from the omega for Jimin to realize that he’s also supposed to join in.

“Anyone know the verses?” She asks quietly.

“I know Hey, Hyeose,” Jieun pipes up.

“That’s a good job,” Sohyang praises, looking particularly impressed. “I know Hey, Hyeose too.”

Jimin definitely does not know Hey, Hyeose.

“You and I can split up the verses.” Sohyang is still speaking to Jieun. “I’ll start out. First we’ll go through the chorus three times for everyone who doesn’t know.”

Her eyes dart down, where Jimin fidgets and tries to get comfortable.

“No faster, and no slower,” she repeats, all while keeping the one, two, one, two. “We’ll repeat it four times, now, just to be safe.” And then it’s just two, three beats before she takes an audible breath and her voice warbles:

Climbing up the mountain; pulling prey back down

Hey, hey, Hyeose,

Coldest winter, bright sun shone, young doe, crops, and grasses grown:

Hey, hey, Hyeose.”

Nearly half the pups jump in on the second chorus, but Jimin has to hum through the third refrain and mumble through the fourth. Sohyang proceeds straight into the verse, leaving Jimin back to his preferred clapping role.

It isn’t that he’s nervous to sing; he doesn’t consider himself a poor vocalist. Instead, he just doesn’t know the song at all. The first verse passes over his head completely while he runs over the chorus in his head; by the time the verse ends and Sohyang nods her head to start the chorus, he at least has those few words memorized.

During the second verse, Jieun softly warbles about an adventurous tale and a debate between two hunting parties—Jimin doesn’t know what it’s about, but he follows with the chorus.

The third tale follows the process of a man hunting and resolving some sort of issue; Jimin realizes that he is probably missing the point of the song, but finishes with the final chorus regardless.

He looks up to Sohyang when the last word finishes out.

“Alright.” She looks pleased. “You can go back to whatever you normally do.”

The pups groan, which doesn’t reflect back positively on Jimin at all, but he stands up anyways.

“You’ve got a decent throat on you,” she comments to him. Jimin feels his face burning.




When the lessons are over and the single shift has passed, Jimin is exhausted from teaching twice as many kids in one shift—and from being constantly watched.

Sohyang had somehow been simultaneously less of a help than he needed and more than he expected—she’d sat and appraised him the entire time, but served as a distraction for an average of four to six of the pups for twenty-minute intervals. A group of pups would approach her, play with her long hair, and show her their work or their favorite books; it’s not on-task behavior, but with such a huge classroom to monitor, Jimin can’t be bothered.

He admittedly had the mind to question what the woman was doing in the room, especially if she had no plans to “fill in” or “help out” like she’d suggested. But there was a tradeoff to be made, and Jimin ultimately decided that distracting a few pups was worth handling the scrutiny.

And apparently, he’d made the right choice.

“I actually just came to visit and check out the schoolroom,” she admits at the end of the shift.

Jimin’s jaw nearly drops.

“It’s good reassurance to see your participation, but really, I’m here to drag you off to my den until dinner is ready.”

But exhaustion is creeping up on him, as well as hunger—

“I did tell you I’d heard something interesting about your alpha. You promised me a visit; I’m holding you to it.” That much makes Jimin pause. “I have food—don’t be a damn twit.”

He blinks. He doesn’t think he’s being a twit. “Okay,” he acquiesces instead, and reaches for his furs.

The length, volume, and weight of the pelts means he has to struggle to get into them, but Sohyang doesn’t even wait until he’s done dressing in them before she runs her wrinkled fingers over the shoulder.

She makes a stiff but approving sound. “It’s about time someone wore these.”

Jimin shrugs. “I think he likes less extravagant things.”

She snorts. “You don’t know who you’re talking about—he loved extravagant things.”

Jimin is genuinely starting to feel like a twit by that point.

“I’ve talked to Yoongi about it before,” he insists as politely as he can.

Sohyang stops by the doorway. “You think I’m talking about your alpha?”

He pulls the final closure of the coat closed. “You’re not?”

She draws up to her full height, gives him a stern look, and pulls open the door before he can politely do it for her.

“You’ve a lot to learn,” she mutters.




Sohyang doesn’t say much else until Jimin is seated uncomfortably in her room within the elders’ den.

“The one thing I can tell you for certain,” she explains, “is that your coat didn’t originally belong to Yoongi.”

Jimin shifts uncomfortably in her over-decorated armchair. “It smells like it,” he offers.

“Of course it does,” she dismisses. She shifts a mug across the little available space on her coffee table—it’s steaming. “I said it wasn’t his to begin with, not that it wasn’t his before he gave it to you.”

Jimin decides to bite. “Whose was it, then?”

“Resting Min’s.” She takes a long sip out of her mug—painted ornately, but still handcrafted—and looks at him expectantly.

And it’s familiar. Jimin knows he has heard it out of a mouth he doesn’t want to remember; Alpha Hoseok’s face comes into mind, and with it, all of the unpleasant feelings and smells of his furs.

But he stays silent. Yoongi is the only Min he knows in the entire compound. Jimin does tuck his nose discreetly into the collar, though; it only smells like his alpha. More realistically, he knows without a doubt that Yoongi wouldn’t let him wear a coat of his that smelled like any other alpha.

The old woman scoffs. Jimin can see all the wrinkles striping her thin lips.

“His parents have been dead for years,” she plots dryly. “You think he never smelled his dad’s old coat for a reminder?”

Her words are blunt, but they still sting like a slap across Jimin’s face.

She doesn’t even wait for his response before she moves into the back of the room, sorting through bowls on one of the higher tables.

He curls up in the pelts defensively. “They’re not his dad’s.” They can’t be.

“They are.” She sets down a massive bowl of dried fruits between them. He can hear her ankles crack when she sits back down at the table.

“The ones I’m wearing?” How would she even know whose furs they were?

“That coat is almost ten years old,” she informs him. “Yoongi really took care of it.”

Two spoons stick out at opposite ends. There’s some kind of mixture in with them—a grain, maybe. She stirs the mixture, and she even says something like eat up, but Jimin isn’t done.

“Why did he give it to me?” he persists. He wonders if he already knows the answer.

“You’ll have to ask him,” Sohyang answers. “And don’t be afraid to spill the beans to this lonely old elder omegean woman when you find out.”

She’s digging into the meal between them. Jimin twirls his spoon in his hand.

“You got something else to say?” Her lips are pursed and wrinkled again.

Jimin digs into the bowl, then, content with the invitation. “Can you explain why…” He isn’t sure how to phrase it properly. “Why Yoongi can’t see me now that I’ve had a heat?”

“He sure as hell can and does,” she snorts. “He’s just not supposed to, not for a few days.”

“Okay…” He chews, swallows. It’s bitter, but sweet. “What’s that about, then?”

“There are some alphas who really don’t know how to leave someone alone after a cycle,” the old woman mulls. “The rules are in place for good reasons; they just don’t apply in your case.”

“They just want him to mess up,” she adds under her breath.

Jimin waits for her to continue. She doesn’t. He wonders if she likes being prompted—for the gossip, maybe, or maybe just to see what he’s interested in. “Why?” he eventually prods.

She makes a dry sound, a cross between a cough and a snore. “Because it’s obvious he’ll do anything for you. Makes things easier for everyone else.”

It’s so sweet, and it pulls all of Jimin’s heart strings—he’ll do anything for you—but also—

“That answer doesn’t help me at all,” Jimin blurts frustratedly.

“That’s fine,” Sohyang grunts. “We don’t have to do much worrying until the hunt passes.”

“I don’t even know when—”

“It’ll be the day after tomorrow,” she interjects. She’s sure of herself as she throws her spoon back into the bowl and pulls a brown wooden trunk on the table closer to herself. “The trees are rustling; we’ll have snow again tonight, though not too much.”

“There’s already plenty of snow,” Jimin complains.

She grunts. “That’s the way it is up here. You ever played with these?”

The pressed paper cards she has pulled out of the trunk look yellowy even in her olive-toned hands. They’re inked over with little characters and titles: Hyose, Sun, and Rain are immediately visible to Jimin, but it appears as though the majority of the cards are of different men and women.

Jimin shakes his head in answer.

“I’ll teach you.” There isn’t room for decline in her tone. “There are stories that go with each of these cards, but I can tell you those another time.”

She shuffles, but delicately—the cards appear easily tearable.

“Okay,” Jimin agrees.

“You’ll be seeing a lot of me,” she warns. “It’s good to have someone old on your side.”

And Jimin agrees. She’s too old to feel like a motherly figure, but there’s something about her own self-assurance that rings familiarly. Additionally, while she shuffles, Jimin remembers very clearly that she’s his source of birth control.

Regardless of her age, it’s good to be close for that reason alone.

Sohyang takes her time shuffling, occasionally throwing a card down and humming at it with inspection. Her thumb traces over a rip in the Yojun card each time it comes to the face of the deck.

“This is good,” Jimin comments after another mouthful of food.

“I’m a great cook,” she boasts. “I’ve got all this food around, all the time, with no one to eat it. You want the recipe?”

“Sure, I’d love that,” Jimin admits.

“I’ll give you two. Yoongi used to eat one of these a lot as a kid. You can make it with any kind of meat. Venison is best, though—but if I give it to you, you have to answer my question.”

The cards have been dropped to the table. She’s rustling through the wooden chest again, and she pulls out a stack of more yellowy paper. This has little scratchings of handwriting on it, though: recipe cards.

A childhood recipe has Jimin willing to make a deal. “What’s the question?”

“If you lie, the moon will tell me in my sleep tonight before it takes my spirit from my body.” It has to be an expression—a morbid guilt trip, at that. “Did you ever give Yoongi those beads I gave you before your heat?”

Jimin gulps. He’d forgotten about those—they’re tucked away.

“No,” he admits. His face has given him away, regardless.

She flips through the recipes in her hands. One card is thrown out toward him immediately, and the next comes some time later in the pile.

“You’re lucky,” she grunts. “I’d usually scold you, but this might have turned out in our favor.”

Our,” Jimin repeats dubiously.

“I have motives,” Sohyang admits with a shrug. She’s already picking up the deck of cards. “I’d like to see one of the best alphas in this compound have kids. Shame me for it.”

Jimin just tries to keep from choking on the food in his mouth.

“I’ll make sure things go your way as long as it’s my way too,” she grunts.

She shuffles for a long while. It takes just as long for Jimin to be able to swallow.

“So,” she eventually throws out. “You like him?”

The question is flippant.

“Of course I do,” Jimin admits, finally able to breathe. He wouldn’t be spending so much time with the man if he didn’t.

She’s still shuffling. “Well, alright.”

Jimin has a mouth full of berries when he notices the small upturn in her mouth, the smoothing of her skin.

He swallows; it coats the sides of his tongue, his throat, and his chest when it travels down. “Alright?”

She nods. “I like teachers.” She stirs again. “It’s a good way to participate here.”

Jimin is halfway tempted to point out that she didn’t seem to like Seokjin very much.

“Drink your tea,” she scolds lightly, and Jimin does—

Nothing has changed from his first visit. He coughs and sputters on the rum inside his cup, and she cackles at him.




Several losses later, Sohyang is ambling along with Jimin down the steps toward the exit of the elders’ den.

“I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone lose so much in one round,” she grins.

Jimin just huffs. “We’ll see next time.”

He’s humoring her; he just doesn’t enjoy card games, and he’d been tired even before the old woman had finished dealing.

But he does enjoy the walk down to the front, and he’s admittedly a little reluctant to leave back to his own den. It’s the kind of bodily reluctance where he’d rather curl up in the warm den than make the trek to his own room.

Even then, Jimin still knows he needs time to recharge. “Do you know if there’s shift tomorrow?”

“Likely, but that’s unfortunately up to your lead omega. If there is, I’ll be back, and if there isn’t, come visit an old woman for dinner.”

She’s reaching behind the door for her coat. Jimin has absolutely no plans to let the woman walk him home, and he’s about to say so, but she continues: “I’m glad to have had the company. I hadn’t heard anything about Yoongi wearing the beads, and I knew he would if he’d seen them.”

The idea of the alpha wearing the beads is new.

“I guess it worked out well, though. Hold onto them in the meantime,” she instructs.

Jimin has no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but the woman is unwrapping the long undyed scarf from around her own neck and throwing it over Jimin’s shoulders, so he has no time to linger on it.

She ties it into a loose knot. “I’d tell you to keep warm, but I have a feeling you’ll have someone to walk you home.”

“What?” The fibers are scratchy on his skin.

She lifts her brows. “If your alpha isn’t waiting for you outside the line of the elders’ den, I’ll write off your losing streak today.”

It’s a bet Jimin is happy to make. He knows she’ll hold it over his head uncomfortably otherwise.

“He isn’t, though,” Jimin insists.

“Yes he is.” She has a hand one of the massive handles on the double doors. She turns back to him and looks him in the eye. “He’s standing off the edge of the pathway. I’d bet he has been for a little while.”

“He isn’t. He had to prepare for the hunt—”

The door swings open.

“Uh-huh. He’s out there.” Her eyes are squinting. She raises a wrinkly finger and points out into the dark.

Jimin squints out right beside her. He doesn’t believe it until he can see Yoongi’s figure himself: the alpha is standing at the end of the stone path.

He’s a fair distance away, and Sohyang is reaching around Jimin toward the many coat racks that hang behind the door.

“He doesn’t like to come onto the land,” she explains. “I’ll walk you out.”

Jimin’s immediate response—you don’t need to do that—is rejected.

“I have some things to say to him,” she sniffs.

She’s stepping off onto the porch after that, and crunching through the snow before Jimin can offer anything else.

“How long did you wait for him?” She calls out.

Yoongi isn’t looking at her, though. Jimin catches his eyes. The alpha shrugs in answer as guilt blooms up in Jimin’s chest; he’s only wearing a thin coat over his sweater.

But why hadn’t he just come in?

Jimin steps up farther, being sure to step in fresh snow to avoid slipping over the packed-down white. He stops when the edges of Yoongi’s boots come into view, and looks up.

“Did you really wait?” he asks.

The alpha steps up a little further into his space, but not too much. He looks at Sohyang just briefly, and then back to Jimin.

“Not long,” he answers.

He’s buttoning up the top button of Jimin’s coat—or of his father’s coat, Jimin is reminded. His fingers are cold when they brush against his neck.

“You still won’t step onto the land?” Sohyang cuts in, leaving Jimin’s buzz to be frozen over. She seems especially miffed. “It’s not doing you any favors.”

“I didn’t ask for any,” the alpha says firmly. “Did you eat?”

He’s asking the both of them. Jimin feels a little shocked—he doesn’t consider Yoongi selfish, but he has never asked after selfcare to anyone but Jimin himself.

“He didn’t eat too much, skinny thing.”

Yoongi turns to Jimin. “I have plenty at home.”

The moment feels intimate, especially with an elder present, but Sohyang only watches over them closely. Jimin supposes she wouldn’t have anything to say to the contrary, considering their earlier dialogue, but it makes him flush nonetheless.

He nods. “Okay.”

Then, Jimin watches the strangest thing he has ever seen out of Yoongi.

The alpha turns to look back at Sohyang—the elder matches his gaze levelly—but he doesn’t say anything.

Jimin waits. Nothing comes out of Yoongi’s mouth. In fact, the alpha’s lips press together just the slightest. It’s not unpleasant, but it might be reluctant.

On the other hand, Sohyang’s lips are twisted at the corners. She looks as if she might laugh.

“Get out of here,” she says amicably.

Yoongi is already turning with Jimin’s hand in his. Jimin looks over his shoulder at Sohyang, but she just winks at him and turns back toward the den.

The alpha’s boots crunch through the snow at a steady pace.

“Yoongi?” Jimin ventures.

The alpha swallows. “I haven’t talked to her in a long time,” he admits.

Jimin debates pressing the issue. He doesn’t doubt that Yoongi would answer his questions, but he also doesn’t know what questions to ask. Before he can come up with anything, the alpha speaks up.

He looks at Jimin with a sweet expression. His eyes are soft. “It’s good to see you again.”

Jimin might have stayed awake for far too long already, considering the early morning, but he doesn’t think twice about his answer. “I’m glad you came.”

There’s a barely-there fall of snow. Tiny, powdery flakes fly around and stick to Jimin’s eyelashes, fuzzing up his vision. They stick to Yoongi’s, too, dying little sparse eyelashes white for small moments.

“Of course,” the alpha replies.

They’re already stepping down the hill over the Offering field. Jimin looks to his right, where he can see the land climb and disappear several feet into treeline. The mountain climbs back up and over the trees, with what looks like a singular valley.

Jimin wonders if it’s where the hunt will take place. He can’t imagine any other location.

But that same treeline curves around down to the base of the hill, and in walking through that, Jimin can already see Yoongi’s cabin in sight. The path is still covered in dried pine, and the steps are still covered with a fresh barely-there sprinkle of powdery snow.

He’s smiling before Yoongi can even turn the key into the bronze lock.

Even the entryway is warm, meaning that there must have been a fire going for a long while in the house before the alpha had left.

Jimin reaches for the button of his coat, but the alpha’s fingers pull his apart gently.

“I mentioned that I have ingredients, but I haven’t actually put anything on the stove yet,” he apologizes, all while removing Jimin’s coat. Jimin is again reminded of its original owner. “It’s venison, so it shouldn’t take very long.”

Something rings in the back of Jimin’s mind at that. “Don’t worry about it,” he offers. His voice is hushed.

The alpha lingers, close and warm with scent overwhelming before he finally slips the coat off of Jimin’s shoulders and down his arms.

It takes a long while before they trail into the kitchen.

Jimin sits at the counter while the alpha sets straight to preparing food.

He pulls out ingredients, all of which look strikingly familiar to Jimin. There are roots, spices, and venison—it’s all vaguely familiar until Jimin realizes that he himself could use. Sohyang’s recipe comes into mind where it sits in the pocket of his pants.

And he’d contemplate interjecting in Yoongi’s process, but when he shifts in his something crinkles. It’s the recipe card, and that makes his decision for him.

“I could—” Jimin is looking over the ingredients. He finally takes his eyes off of the counter and blurts: “I could cook?”

He feels around his hip. The paper with the recipe is still crumpled up in the bottom of his pocket.

Yoongi stops, turning back to look at Jimin.

Jimin can see he’s surprised: eyes are slightly wide, and his mouth drops open just the slightest. His bottom lip even looks a bit pouty.

Jimin bites his own lip and looks back at the counter. The most important ingredients look to be there. Jimin had only a quick read over the recipe before he’d put it into his pocket, but he can see the venison, the spice roots, and even if he doesn’t have all the ingredients in the end, he has enough confidence in his cooking skill to improvise.

“You could cook,” Yoongi repeats, as if in a daze.

Jimin stretches his arms over the counter, tilts his head, and shrugs.

“Mhmm,” he hums, feeling impish.

Yoongi’s eyes look completely glazed over. Jimin stands and bumps his hip into the alpha’s side when he takes his place at the counter.




Just a bit later, with a few ingredients already prepared, his confidence is drained. Jimin takes a shaky breath while his back is turned.

He can feel Yoongi’s eyes on him—indirectly, of course, because Jimin had kicked the man out of his own kitchen before he’d even started.

The alpha hadn’t bothered Jimin in any way, really—he just hadn’t moved. Yoongi had leaned up against the counter, looking at Jimin, watching him sort through drawers. He’d reach out for Jimin if he came close enough, brushing a hand up Jimin’s arm, and if Jimin would reach to open a top cabinet, and dare to stand on tip toe to reach anything—

He’d hear the alpha’s warm laugh, quiet, and feel Yoongi behind him. His hand would trail up Jimin’s arm, over his wrist, and close Jimin’s open hand with his own. He’d pull down whatever skillet or bowl was needed, and by the time Jimin had been ready to scold Yoongi, he’d already be back against the counter with a sheepish smile on his face.

“You’re a pretty cook,” he’d said, just after Jimin had turned back to the utensil drawer.

“Out,” Jimin had finally sputtered, more frazzled than focused.

Yoongi’s eyes had widened. He’d even frozen like a little kid called out.

Jimin had picked up a wooden spoon—a nicely smoothed one—and gestured towards the open archway of the kitchen with it. He’d gulped, and that had nearly given him away (although his face had felt hot, so maybe Yoongi was humoring him), but the alpha had bitten the inside of his cheek.

“I’ll end up burning your house down,” Jimin had threatened, or maybe admitted.

Yoongi, who clearly knew what he was doing from that point on, had moved to sit at the center counter. It wasn’t out, really, or anywhere near the living room, where Jimin had pointed, but it was enough space that Jimin could smell spice, and not just the alpha’s scent.

Now Jimin can at least turn his back, keep his ingredients close, and even double check his recipe.

“What are you making?”

Yoongi is trying to ask it plainly, but the curiosity is obvious.

Jimin bites down a smile and just hums in response.

He can hear Yoongi shift in his seat. The impatience is cute.

The only thing that keeps Jimin from being a nervous wreck—moreso with an alpha staring at his back—is that he does, in fact, have all the ingredients. He doesn’t know why it makes him feel so much more confident, especially with such a simple recipe; regardless, he’s thankful to have Sohyang’s writing out on the counter and to not be second-guessing himself every step of the way.

“You planned to cook for me?” The alpha’s excitement is probably the most adorable thing Jimin has heard in a long time.

“Not exactly,” he admits. He knows it doesn’t bother Yoongi in the slightest.

The largest difficulty is working with the ingredients he isn’t familiar with. He cracks open a root but doesn’t expect the skin to peel back—just little things, new spices and new crops. Everything is smaller. There’s something that looks like an onion that’s called an onion but doesn’t smell as sharp, specifically, and Jimin is almost worried when he cuts into it, so he voices as much.

“I’m not very used to cooking with the ingredients here,” he admits.

“Was it very different out there?”

Jimin nods, realizes that Yoongi might not be able to notice too well with his back turned, and then hums something he hopes sounds affirmative.

“A lot of this stuff—I’d buy it pre-prepared at my old home,” Jimin admits. He can’t say he’d ever done too much at home with what looks like ginger root in his hands, but now he shreds it.

He’s so busy that he doesn’t notice how quiet the alpha is, and for how long; he only notices the silence Yoongi breaks when he speaks.

“Does it feel inconvenient for you?”

With the small amount shredded, Jimin moves onto breaking apart a clove of garlic. “No,” he admits freely. “Just more mindful.”

“Do you like to cook?