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Gonna Get Myself Connected

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No. No. Definitely no.

Rey Johnson sighs, and sets her phone down on the little table in her office break room. All around her, a low hum of conversation fills the wide, sunlit space, as her co-workers meet and chat and eat their lunches. She’d been working for Resistance Tech for a while; they were an up-and-coming software development company, and the job had been an amazing find for someone just coming out of her first tenuous experience with startups. Resistance was small, but growing rapidly. And they were out of their awkward startup phase, which meant that they had a great combination of clean work ethic, focused, competent management, plus kombucha taps in the break room.

Everyone was nice here, and all of her coworkers seemed perfectly normal, for the most part—most of her office was Betas, with a handful of other Omegas, like her, and even fewer Alphas—so why couldn’t she find a similarly normal Alpha when she needed one? Why were the suggested matches that came up on O-Match so… skeezy?

Prodding her spinach salad listlessly, Rey frowns. She has an app for her period, an app for her heat cycle, an app to help her match with clean, ostensibly normal, unmated Alphas in her area, and she still is shit out of luck.

Her heat was due in (she checked the pertinent app) three days, and it was looking like she was going to have to ride this one out on her own again. Literally.

Ugh.

Six or so months ago, Rey’d had to do just that. Her twice-a-year heats were fairly regular, thanks, in part, to the suppressants that helped regulate her normal reactive fluctuations. She would count down her little white pills, and then they’d run out, and then the heat would happen, regular as clockwork.

Centuries ago, before the advent of technology and medicine and science, Omegas and Alphas had been ruled by their biology, driven to mate and breed and bond against their better judgement. Pheromones governed behavior, or excused it, and left Omegas at the mercy of reactive biology; the strongest Alpha within range had the strongest claim over them. Wars had been fought, nations conquered, religions founded and altered, simply to explain away, or defer to, or moralize against pure, simple, biology.

Thankfully, the world was a little more enlightened now. At least, that was the theory, anyway.

Going at it alone—taking matters into her own hands, as it were—had been… well, bearable, but less than ideal.

Stupid biology.

When she’d first presented, back in high school, being an Omega hadn’t come as a shock. The blood tests were good these days, and the results were 99% reliable, and one of the few positive things about being surrendered to state guardianship at the age of five was that all her medical care was covered. So she’d received the two-page pamphlet sometime around the age of ten, gotten pulled out along with Rachel Wheaton and Merritt Andresson and Ami Esquivel for health class. The poor Alpha—there had only been one in her class of thirty-two—had taken his own, much larger booklet, with all the solemnity that a spotty, pre-pubescent Alpha could muster.

What was his name, anyway?

Rey picks up her phone again, switching to the O-Match app, hoping that she didn’t see a familiar face there.

Familiar is not what she was looking for. The less she knew about her prospective heat hookup, the better. Because the criteria went like this:

  • Normal-looking;
  • No insane political rants on profile page;
  • No weird Alpha-first ideological rants, either;
  • No mate (that, perhaps, should’ve been higher on the list; the last time she’d found a heat match, the Alpha had started sobbing about his pregnant mate and Rey had consolingly moonwalked the fuck out of there);
  • A recent, clean medical test;
  • And willing to split the cost of a hotel room.

Really, it wasn’t that much to ask, was it?

“Hey, any luck?” Rose Tico slides into the seat opposite, putting down her own salad and bottle of iced tea.

Rey looks up, and makes a face. “No. And why do Alphas think I want to know their SoundCloud links? Why are so many of them amateur DJs? That’s literally not what I’m here for, honestly...”

Rose laughs, and uses her fork to mix in the dressing and toppings. “I’m sorry. Ugh, dating sucks so much, I can’t even imagine trying to… you know.”

Rey stifles a laugh as Rose blushes; a pair of their Beta co-workers had walked by, and like most people, discussing an Omega’s heat cycle in an office setting wasn’t exactly something that Rose was super comfortable doing. But Rey didn’t mind. It wasn’t like she was advertising her designation, or posting to the company-wide Slack channel: “Anyone in possession of a knot, please meet me in conference room seven on Thursday afternoon, thanks.”

The company she worked for was progressive, but not that progressive.

And besides, there were only four Alphas in the entire company, and none of them were in any way available, or of interest to her: one was the CEO, and mated, two were in upper management—which meant that technically, she couldn’t fraternize with them as per company policy, even if they hadn’t both been mated—and the fourth was… not a good candidate, either. For reasons.

Rey knew better than to fish in the company pool. And it really didn’t matter if that particular Alpha was tall, dark, unmated, and hadn’t ever sent her his SoundCloud link, Ben Solo was completely not an option.

Not for this heat, not ever.

Rey takes a bite of her salad.

“So Finn was thinking that he’d look for a little B&B, for next weekend,” Rose was saying, incorporating the little scattered tomato bits across her greens. “And he found this really cute place, but then the site said the owners have a cat.”

“Ah,” Rey says, chewing her bite. Finn was a little allergic, which they’d found out when they’d moved in together a month ago and tried to cat-sit for Finn’s co-worker, Poe. Beebee, a ginger tabby with more personality than sense, and driven Finn up the wall.

“So, it’s back to the drawing board for that,” Rose concludes. “I told him, we really don’t have to go anywhere, we can just stay in…”

Rose takes a bite of her salad and shrugs. Rey nods, like she understands, when in reality, she had no real way to relate at all. Her longest relationship had been with her Hitachi; staying in, or going out, or celebrating anniversaries… that wasn’t for her.

Yet another way that the life of an Omega—even a modern Omega, with apps and opportunities and nothing, really, holding her back—set her apart from everyone else, it seemed.

Compared to Betas, both Alphas and Omegas were rare. Omegas were maybe… a quarter of the population, and Alphas were even less than that. Finding a good Alpha? One who would actually make a good partner in more ways than just biology? It was impossible. Even for a one-heat stand. Maybe that was the problem; her standards were just too high.

For Rose and Finn, there were no judgements, no pressures. They could just… be together. They weren’t controlled by heats or ruts or biological imperatives.

Rose chatted happily about anniversary plans and dream vacations, and then the topic moved to work and the new-hires, and somewhere in between her last bite of hard-boiled egg and her last drink of iced tea, Rey feels a prickly of awareness tug at her senses.

She looks up; immediately, Rose stops. Even if she couldn’t sense it, or smell the scent of him, or feel the reaction of her own body to his proximity, Rose was still her friend, and she knew, by now, that there was really only one person in the office who elicited that reaction in Rey.

Of course.

“Is it—?”

“It’s fine,” Rey says, looking back down at her salad before Ben Solo catches her staring.

She didn’t want to give him the wrong impression. Especially now, so close to her heat.

Ben Solo: Unmated Alpha, wunderkind developer, and noted cantankerous asshole, was not on her list. The idea of having to take his knot—and at this, Rey shivered, in a way that had nothing to do with the air-conditioning—and then walk by his standing desk on Monday was enough to make her toss her very healthy greens right back up into the bowl. He had a temper, a glare that could melt the carpet from the cube walls, and a scent that always seemed to have a sour, chemical undercurrent to it. Probably from his blockers, because most other Alphas had a mellow, not unpleasant scent.

“You know,” Rose says conversationally, “I honestly can’t decide if he’s weirdly handsome, or just handsomely weird.”

“I have no option either way,” Rey says, only a touch too hastily.

“Mmhmm,” Rose says.

Rey colors. “Just because he’s an Alpha—“

“Oh, I know,” her friend quickly adds. “You don’t have to explain it to me. I’m just saying…”

Rey laughs. In her mind, Ben Solo was neither of those things. Alright, it was true that his face was… it was definitely a face, with planes and angles and features that seemed contradictory, but somehow… worked… but that wasn’t the point.

Again, that sense of being watched flooded her veins. Rey clears her throat. “I’ll be fine this weekend. It’s not that bad, really.”

Rose looks at her, swiftly concealing a sympathetic expression. “I really wish I could help.”

“No offense, but you’re lacking some pretty essential equipment—“

Not like that!” Rose gasps.

Rey grins at her. Female Alphas were incredibly rare, but even if Rose had been one, it wouldn’t have been that helpful; Rey was, sadly, heterosexual.

“I’ll figure it out,” Rey says, picking up her trash and rising from the table. “I’ve got to get to a meeting in five.”

“Good luck,” Rose replies.

Rey gives her friend a little salute. They both knew she’d need all the luck she could manage.


“That’s not part of what we agreed—”

“Metrics says we need it by—”

“Then they shouldn’t be over-promising to the clients and expecting us to suddenly fill the gap overnight!” Ben explodes. “Fuck, these morons don’t even stop to ask us if we can meet—”

“It was in the brief two weeks ago!” Taslin replies, with—Rey privately thought—a significant amount of chutzpah for a Beta facing down an Alpha who was at least a foot taller than him.

“Then they should’ve sent that brief to us! Because it isn’t anywhere in—”

“Can you reasonably have something by next Wednesday?” Kaydel, the team lead, cuts across both of them. “Whether or not it was in the brief, is it reasonable to get something in the works by next week?”

Rey watches as Ben stills, and seems to force himself to relax back into his chair on the other side of their meeting-room desk. He nods.

“Good.” Kaydel makes a note on the notepad in front of her, looking over at Taslin. “And can you tell metrics that they’re going to have to adjust their timeline on the client side?”

“They’re not going to like it,” he says, scowling.

But Ben interrupts him: “Then they should’ve—”

“Ben—”

Rey feels a shiver go down her spine at the look Ben fixes on her. It’s over in a flash—just a surge of raw, angry power—but it’s enough to send a jolt of awareness down to her core. Alphas didn’t like to be told what to do. They didn’t like to be bossed around, controlled, conquered.

Stupid biology.

Then, the anger on his face melts away. Back to the usual look of mild annoyance he wore. He nodded. And Rey knows, she just knows that nobody else in the room can feel it, but his scent fucking spikes then, even though the set of his shoulders, the carefully-neutral expression, would’ve told every Beta in the room otherwise.

He’s angry. Rey can smell it as keenly as burnt popcorn in a microwave—except… Ben’s scent never was that disgusting. Under the sharp, chemical scent of the blockers she assumed he used, it was actually quite nice, more of a… burnt-sugar, caramel-coffee scent. Somewhere on the border between dark sweetness and sweet darkness. Weird, Rey thinks. The chemical scent had been fading these last few days, at least to her. Rey crosses her legs, hoping against hope that her own oncoming heat wasn’t what was triggering his more forceful levels of rage today. It wasn’t like it was her fault. Her suppressants kept her heats regular, and they kept them to three days, tops; they regulated her scent and made it so that she didn’t attract the kind of attention that Omegas never wanted to attract, except in romance novels and certain genres of porn.

Rey shifts in her seat again.

Now is not the time to be chasing down that particular train of thought.

The meeting continues. Across the table, Ben Solo’s scowl deepens. His frown was the stuff of legends, and his temper was well-known and quietly regarded as an ‘Alpha thing,’ even though the other Alphas that Rey had encountered never even began to reach the levels Ben seemed to constantly be simmering at.

He resolutely does not look at her, either.

Good , Rey thinks, as she packs up her laptop and stands at the end of the meeting, half-distracted, still, by his scent and his scowl. You just keep ignoring me, and I’ll keep ignoring you. We’ll be right as rain so long as we don’t change a thing.


That evening, when she heads for the elevators, she sees Ben walking towards her, head down, frowning. His bag is slung over his shoulder, and his jacket is on—and the moment he sees her, waiting in front of the elevator, he diverts course, and heads for the stairs.

What an asshole, Rey thinks.

It’s definitely not the first time he’s done that, although this is, perhaps, the most obvious. Who understands Alphas, anyway; they’re mysteries, wrapped in enigmas, dusted with hormones and deep-fried in a vat of unquenchable rage.

And Ben, he’s a classic, textbook example. Rey doesn’t need his intensity in her life.

Rey was quite happy to steer clear of him, as long as he wants to be like… well, like that .

And he’d been like that ever since she hired on.

Always testy around her, always scowling, stomping, difficult. But he produced excellent code, so… maybe management was sympathetic.

Then again, maybe he just had someone’s incriminating photographs, and was holding them over their heads, who knew.

Rey takes the elevator down, the numbers ticking by as the metal box descends through the heart of the building, wondering at the fact that Ben Solo seems to be more willing to take twenty-seven flights of stairs instead of sharing an elevator with her. Either that or he’d just gone back to his desk to grab something, and planned to wait for the next one.

But Ben Solo is… dramatic. It’s maybe something about his Alpha nature. He’s exacting, talented—and he knows it. He barely restrains himself from announcing that he ought to be team lead, and everyone can see it; Rey hated that kind of shit, especially as a woman in tech. She respected Kaydel, had no problems with a Beta woman being head of their team. It grated on her nerves every time Ben said something, every time he spoke at all. She got this little… frisson, she supposed, although that wasn’t quite the right word for it. There’s something about the way he carries himself that made her feel as if he’s Lord Mansplain, come to condescend to the lesser beings and gift them with his Alpha wisdom.

Not that he actually does that. But still.

He left notes on her pull requests, correcting this, streamlining this…

Maybe his notes were right. Maybe. Most of the time—but that’s not the point.

Rey’s allowed one irrational dislike in this universe. It’s her God-given right, inalienable, and all that.

So no, Ben Solo isn’t an option.


“Hold the elevator, please,” Ben says, as he all but runs for it, sliding in just as Rey extends her arm to stop the sensor.

Well. This is new.

“Didn’t feel like taking the stairs today?” she snipes.

But then she turns to glance up at him, and there’s something in the expression he’s wearing—the dark glint in his eyes, the hesitant flush to his cheeks, the clench of muscle in his jaw—that makes her turn away, and halt her tongue.

The doors close, and the elevator begins its usual grinding descent.

Thirty-seven, Thirty-six, Thirty-five—

Rey hoists the strap of her laptop bag a little higher on her shoulder, rubbing at her neck, where her scent gland is just beginning the faintest twinges of the signal of her oncoming heat, which is due to start tomorrow. She’s tired, ready to go home and enjoy the weekend as best she can, all things considered.

Thirty-two, Thirty-one, Thirty—

Ben coughs, and shifts a little away from her, getting out his phone and fiddling with it. Damn, it’s unfair that he should smell so good. Rey takes a dangerous breath of him in, long and slow. This can’t hurt her, she thinks; she isn’t the first Omega in the history of the world to casually enjoy the scent of an Alpha, when enclosed in a small space with him for only a temporary moment. That burnt-sugar scent of him expands as it fills her—and isn’t that just the metaphor for everything she wishes she had this weekend—and Rey very nearly groans at just how fucking good he smells. It’s black coffee at a diner at one in the morning, rich and roasted and dark and sweet. It’s the lacy-crisp top of a treacle tart, molten and buttery beneath it. His scent is just… sinful.

If only Rey could have the scent, and the knot, and literally nothing else of him. That would be ideal.

Twenty-three, twenty-two, twenty-one—

This elevator is taking forever, Rey thinks. Her belly grumbles, eager for dinner, the pre-heat calorie binge urging her to go order enough takeout that the delivery guy will definitely include multiple packs of cutlery and a side order of judgement when he realizes there’s one person in her apartment.

Eighteen, seventeen, sixteen—

C’mon, c’mon, Rey thinks, glancing over at her dour companion, whose expression has closed off completely. He isn’t even looking at her in the mirrored walls of the elevator. He’s just looking down, at his shoes, steadily breathing in and out about as shallowly as he can.

Thirteen, twelve, eleven—

The elevator grinds to a halt.

Oh no, Rey thinks.

This cannot be happening.

This cannot be happening, this right here, mostly because it’s the plot to fully 45% of all of the Omega romance novels she’s okay-maybe-sort-of looked at in the store and has on her nightstand. Trapped together, snowed-in, stuck in a car under an overpass during a tornado, locked in together in a bakery, trapped in a museum after hours... It’s such a cliche, and she cannot, absolutely cannot have it happen to her.

Wide-eyed, Rey looks around the elevator, tucking herself into the corner opposite the Alpha whose scent is currently spiking, scenting the air with panic and rage and disbelief. If she’s suddenly overwhelmed by skittish Omega behaviors—fear of close-in spaces, worry about being overpowered, instinctively deferring to an Alpha in closest proximity—he looks even worse.

She stares at him, and, a second later, as if he can feel her eyes on his skin, Ben glares back at her.

“Someone will come, right?” Rey says. “It’ll start back up, or… someone will…”

Ben jolts forward, pressing the red Alarm button on the panel. Absolutely nothing happens, and Rey thinks, alright, maybe it’s an alarm that someone else can hear. This is a big building, with security guards downstairs, a maintenance crew, someone will call.

Ben jabs the Alarm button again, for good measure, and then fumbles at his cell phone, pulling it out of his jacket pocket. The growl of frustration he makes is almost enough to make Rey feel weak in the knees, and she hates, absolutely hates, that her body has this keen of a reaction to him.

No.

She absolutely, positively, will not let her life turn into a cliche.

Her heat is due tomorrow. Not today, and she—she forcibly has to pull her hand away from the seam of her jeans when Ben growls like that again.

“No signal,” he says, looking back at her and—mercifully—not catching where her hand just was. “What about you?”

“What?” Rey says. “Oh, right.”

She finds her own cell phone, thumbs the screen lock, tries to lift it up in the vain hope that the signal will increase. Nothing.

She tells Ben as much.

At this, he growls again—her body cannot handle this, she just can’t—and fucking throws his phone at the wall. It shatters, little bits scattering everywhere, leaving a dent behind in the glass. It’s a wonder it, too, doesn’t shatter.

Instinctively, Rey cowers away from the force of this rage. She’s angry, too; the last place she wants to be is trapped on an elevator with the Alpha she wants to eat-slash-murder, but there’s no need to get all—

Ben sets his backpack down, now, crouching as he yanks the zipper open. She watches as he pulls out a little black pouch, like a… maybe like a testing pouch. Is he diabetic? He just opens it, and instead of a testing kit and strips there’s a row of vials, tucked securely into elastic straps. His hands tear at the vials, pulling the threads out as he readies one of them in shaking hands.

“What are you…”

He cracks the vial, bringing it up to his nose, breathing it in with a wince. Instantly, Rey recoils. The scent is sharp, chemical, just awful. Like someone’s just dumped bleach into a perfect apple pie, ruining it. She crouches down, too, back sliding along the mirror, as the foul scent fills the air. Covering over his.

And, she realizes, covering over hers.

Ben makes a soft, needy whine as he forces himself to breathe it in.

An emergency blocker, Rey thinks. That calms her, despite the sour scent and the wrongness of it. Good. She can think a little clearer, now that his scent isn’t covering her like a comforting blanket.

Then she looks back up at him, and she goes absolutely still. The realization hits her, as she takes in all the signs that are waving in front of her, like a big old red flag. The flushed cheeks, the anger, the—he’s in rut. Or very near to it. That’s what’s going on here.

Oh no.

This is worse.

So much worse.

Because every instinct in her body, every cell in her being, every pulse of blood in her veins, is telling her to submit to him. To soothe him with herself, to let him take her, claim her—

It’s only her willpower—and the sharp, unpleasant scent of the blockers—that keep Rey in her own mind at a time like this. She is no Omega to be tamed and mounted. No creature to be possessed, no balm to soothe an Alpha’s moods.

Thank god for those fucking blockers.

Rey is wedged into the corner, holding her laptop bag in front of her as if it would be any kind of a barrier. And diagonally from her, sitting under the panel of buttons, Ben slumps back, too, the vial still clutched in his hand. He looks up at her, fear and worry and an apology in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t—”

“It’s okay,” Rey says. “It’s okay—it’s just biology.”

Ben takes a hesitant breath. His shoulders slump down, weary, utterly defeated.

“I won’t hurt you,” he says softly. “I won’t.”

“I know,” Rey replies. And she does, somehow.

Nobody comes for them.

He prods the Alarm button again, waits by the speaker mesh at the bottom of the panel, wipes his face with his hand. Their scents in the air are cut through with the blocker’s acrid tang, and Rey tries to think of something, anything, that will keep her from reverting back to her animal hindbrain.

“Tell me something,” Rey says desperately. “What are you working on right now? I saw your PR on my—”

“I don’t want to talk about work,” he growls. And then, looking up at her, his expression softens. He understands, then, that she’s trying to distract him. Maybe trying to distract herself, too. “Sorry. I just…”

“When I was eight, I broke my kneecap when I fell off of my bike,” Rey says, grasping for the first thing that comes to mind, desperate for a feeling that isn’t fear or extreme arousal. “I was taking it down a hill, and I couldn’t stop very well yet, and I turned into a gravel road and just skidded right out…”

She mimes it with her hands, lifting them for him to see, making a psheeww noise with her mouth, as if that’s in any way similar to the sound of a bike on gravel.

He blinks at her. “Which… which one?”

“What?”

“Which knee?”

“Oh,” Rey says, and she points at her left knee. This one.”

“Mm,” he says, and looks down at his waist. She can see his shoulders rising and falling. See the vial still clasped in his hand.

“Wh-what about you?” Rey continues, her voice a little higher than normal. “Have you ever broken a bone?”

“No,” he says. “No, I… no. Well, one time, at scout camp, I—”

“You went to scout camp?” Rey almost feels like laughing at this. The very idea that the sullen, long-haired, towering tree of a man across from her could’ve ever been a child—and a child in a scouting uniform, too, with merit badges and… probably a cute little bolo tie of some kind—is just delightful. There’s something about him that makes Rey think he just arrived, fully-formed, like he sprung from the head of Athena or something. She can’t even begin to picture him as a child.

“Yes,” he says, and although his voice sounds guarded, there’s the very faintest of quirks on his lips. “We were supposed to be hiking, and I snuck out of the group and fell into a ravine.”

Rey does laugh at this.

“I was stuck there for two hours—why are you laughing?”

“It’s funny,” Rey says. “I mean, it’s funny because you were found. Did you have merit badges.”

“I spent the entire remainder of that camp earning as many of them as I could,” Ben stiffly replies, but the corner of his mouth is still twitching at her laughter. “Fish and wildlife management, Cooking, Chess—”

Chess?”

“—Emergency preparedness…”

“And you never fell into a ravine again,” Rey has to wipe tears from her eyes at the look on his face.

“No,” he says.

It shouldn’t be funny.

But it’s like everything is heightened, in the swirl of emotion. She wants to laugh, and sob, and scream, and tear her clothing off, and she knows that this distraction will only last for moments longer.

And the elevator still isn’t moving.

She takes a deep breath, which is—which is the wrong thing to do, because holy fuck on a stick he smells good. Rey realizes she’s staring at him, at his flush-stained cheeks, his full, parted mouth, his wanting eyes, and she looks down at her knees, drawing them up even closer to her chest, wrapping her arms around them.

Distraction , Rey thinks. I need a distraction.

She swallows thickly, wets her lips with her tongue, tries not to think about how good he smells, how perfect it would be if she could just… cross that divide, that chasm between them that can’t be more than a meter and a half of slightly-dingy elevator carpeting. She could just… bury her face in his neck, taste his scent, sweet and untarnished by the blockers, direct from the source. She could let him touch her, command her, claim her...

No no no no no, not here, not like this, not him—

“Ben,” she says softly, her pulse thundering in her ears, her pre-heat hormones running wild, wracking her body with feverish chills. He looks like he feels even worse. The blocker vial is crushed in his left hand, and she can see the way his chest expands with each breath, his shoulders rising and falling in steady, urgent cadence.

“Ben, I can’t—”

“Don’t look,” he says, fumbling with the fly of his jeans, dropping the vial to the elevator floor. “Rey, don’t look at me.”

“Okay,” she says, turning away, hiding her eyes, biting her lip at the way his scent increases. Why has it—Oh. Oh. He must have his fly down, now, Rey realizes. He must have his cock out, and she knows that Alphas in rut get… they get aroused, painfully so, and they are driven to… to fuck, to claim, to mate.

Oh god.

She’s just sitting here, not even a meter away from him, and he’s making these low, desperate noises, muffling them like he’s terrified of her, not the other way around.

“Ben,” she says softly, feeling a horrifyingly wonderful throb of need between her own legs. “D-don’t look at me either, alright?”

Fuck,” is his only reply.

She can hear his movements now, the sound of fabric moving against fabric, the sound of his breath. It’s such a filthy, impossible collection of noises, and everything within her wants her to not only look at him, but to reach for him, to get on her hands and knees for him, to submit completely…

Her scent, too, must flare to life, because he groans again the moment she adjusts her legs. Her hand is tight and trapped beneath her jeans, between her underwear and her sopping-wet cunt. Rey curls her fingers into herself, needing a fullness, hours before a heat and needy, so needy.

Quickly , she thinks. Just get it over with, it’s just biology

He growls when he breathes the scent of her in; Rey whines, lifting her other hand to cover her mouth. Desperate to come, desperate to come quietly .

He could just turn, and he could have her.

Hold her down on the floor, and fuck her, bite at her skin, break her completely. He could taste her—blood and sweat and come—he could claim her.

“Shit,” Rey whimpers, barely muffled by her hand.

Below, her two middle fingers work a tight, sharp circle on her clit, working her up to a peak that feels already as if it will shatter her completely.

He could have her, and she wouldn’t fight. Couldn’t fight—not with the way the edges of her heat work up into her, licking at her veins, pulling on her higher brain function. She would want it. Need it, even. She would let him do anything to her. Everything.

“Rey,” he says, his voice low and smoky and raspy with want. “Rey, fuck, please—

“Ben,” Rey hears herself reply.

“I want to taste you—” he says, and like that, Rey comes.

It hits her like a stab in the gut, the sound of his voice, the force of her pleasure, and almost feels as painful. Pleasure shakes her, shatters her, leaves her breathless and keening in the mirrored, too-bright elevator. His scent is too strong, and the blocker either has worn off or doesn’t even matter anymore, because he’s all she can scent as she tries to steady her heaving breath.

A gush of slick between her legs soaks into the denim, and Rey forces her hand away from her wet, tender skin. She could come again, but that would utterly defeat the purpose of this indulgence. She could trigger her heat like that, and that’s the last thing she wants right now.

Something tugs at her. Something, some invisible thread, that pulls her attention over to look at him. And she knows that she said she wouldn’t. She knows that he… that he asked her not to watch.

But the punch of arousal at the sight isn’t enough to make her turn away.

Ben looks up at her.

His cheeks are flushed, and his mouth is slack, and he’s tugging on his cock, one knee bent so she can see him, she can see

“I’m sorry,” she says, and turns away, even though she wants, more than anything, to watch him come.

“Rey,” he grinds out. “Rey, please. Let me taste you. Just once. Just once. Please.”

She pulls her hand from her jeans, sits up on her heels and turns back, watching him, her heart pounding in her throat. Slowly, she extends her hand to him, drawn in by that power, that magnetism.

From the wild look in his eyes, Rey thinks, maybe he’s not immune to that pull either.

Because he leans forward, an awkward pose that ought to be laughable, but instead is one of the sexiest things she’s ever seen. He’s on his knees for her, one hand on his cock, one on the floor, and she raises her hand to his mouth, whimpering softly as his plush lips close around the dripping digits.

He sucks on them, making a low noise, a soft growl that reverberates through his body and strikes at hers like it’s the resonant frequency of her soulRey whimpers, her eyes caught up in hisand like that, he spills all over his hand, teeth nipping at her fingers, tongue swirling around her skin. Growling, grunting out his release with a noise that hits her in some primal, uninhibited portion of her brain. She whimpers as the suction of his mouth increases, feels his tongue sweep along her skin, sucking every last drop of her down as his come spurts out in thick, white ropes.

It is in that moment when the elevator begins to move.

It’s like in a fairy tale, Rey thinks, panic coursing through her as she struggles back to her feet, hands on the fly of her jeans. This is when the spell breaks. When the moment ends.

She turns away, wiping her hands on her pants, donning her jacket even though she’s roasting; she knows what she must smell like, now. How sharply her scent must be radiating from her body, if the scent of his is any indication.

Ben, too, fumbles for the pieces of broken vial, shoves it in his bag with the still-open kit, tucks himself back together. The elevator grinds slowly downwards; Rey sees the number change.

They say absolutely nothing.

As if silence is enough to cover over what’s just occured.

As if ignoring it will make it go away.

(It’s not. It’s definitely not going away.)

Rey knows that as long as she lives, she’ll never be able to get the sight of him out of her mind. Hunched, desperate, fist working on his cock, eyes pleading. His lips, wrapped around her fingers.

Tasting her.

Begging her.

Coming for her.

Her Alpha, so helpless, so ready—

The elevator stops again, and Rey’s eyes flick up to the number on the panel. Third floor. The doors shudder, then open, and she’s never been more relieved to see the building maintenance folks, or firefighters, in her entire life.

“Everyone alright in here?” the maintenance worker—who Rey sees is wearing a lanyard with an ID badge which proclaims his name to be Steve—says.

Rey nods. But she can’t even form a reply before Ben is darting out the doorway, his long legs practically in a sprint to get away from the elevator.

To get away from her.

Stupid, stupid biology.

“Yeah,” Rey says, her voice shaky. “Yeah, no, we’re fine.”

The firefighters and Steve the maintenance guy are all Betas, Rey can tell. They know that there’s something up with the increase in scent, but they probably can’t tell what just happened. God, she hopes they can’t tell.

“Ma’am, do you require any medical assistance?” one of the firefighters asks her. His gaze is kind, and surely with his medical training, even a Beta could tell…

She shakes her head. There’s nothing that they can help her with.

What the hell just happened? Rey doesn’t want to think about it.

She heads home, and strips down, and stands under the shower until the water runs cold. Her body is racing, her thoughts hazy and disoriented. Her skin feels too tight, and her body feels… needy. Desperate.

Her heat has started, then. And she’s alone, again. Like always. With nothing but the memory of Ben Solo’s eyes, his mouth, his scent, to tide her over.

It’s not enough.