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Shiro first notices him at the check-in counter, when the line has failed to move for several minutes. Notices, in the sense that Shiro starts glaring impatiently at the back of his shaggy head when a growl starts to underscore the man’s low voice. The calm, droning answers supplied by the person hidden by the desk evidently don’t do anything to mollify the other passenger. Shiro watches for a moment as frustration creeps into the movements of the stranger’s arms. The argument continues.

Shiro sighs, and taps the print-outs of his own tickets against his hand. He spends the next few minutes alternating between staring at the ceiling, down at his own carefully tagged suitcase, and exchanging irritated smiles with the others in the line.

There’s no sign that they’ll be moving any time soon. Shiro pulls his phone from an inner pocket of his bomber jacket. He scrolls mindlessly through the news he already read that morning, trying to avoid the work obligations that he knows will be waiting in his inbox.

Shiro keeps his phone in hand, but his attention is suddenly yanked forward. The aggravated passenger starts to radiate something alpha in a way that has most people shifting their eyes away disapprovingly. It’s an awkward slip, for someone to lose control like that in public. Shiro stays intently trained on the source of muffled aggravation. The back of his neck tingles from the sudden appearance of power from the front of the line. Shiro’s stomach knots. A sudden impulse to touch and offer comfort floods through him.

It’s not just a de-escalation reaction, though those peacekeeping reflexes are there too. No, the alpha aura tugs at something far more personal; the waves of aggression wake a far more basic instinct. He focuses on the source, biting his lip as he contemplates. Against his better judgement, his eyes are suddenly tracing up the long, long legs in those tight jeans, skimming along the tensed muscles of his back, before it disappears under a cropped red and white jacket. It’s a style that screams omega, but the alpha isn’t fooling anyone. Not anymore.

Shiro’s stomach stitches together with sudden achy heat. He likes to consider himself a modern omega, leaving stereotypes in the past where they belong. Besides, even the celebratory clichés are overblown - his own quick rise through the Garrison isn’t due to being any more of a guardian or protector than his non-omegan classmates. It was hard work. Still, there are certain parts of his secondary nature that don’t get exemplified, splashed across magazine covers, and hailed as the best that anyone can offer. His recent divorce had hinged on one of those aspects, but he still tries to avoid thinking of that raw wound. It’s almost a pleasant distraction that right now those vulgar omegan instincts are cooing inside his head, suggesting just how nice it might be to follow the cut of those lithely muscled legs with his tongue, to force that alpha to channel his rage into something sexual, powerful, and rather offensive to Shiro’s own modern sensibilities.

He has rules about this sort of thing, Shiro reminds himself, even as his gaze lingers, fixating lazily on the low-slung belt and slender hips. He’d learned those painful lessons ages ago, when he was young and naive and starry-eyed. Rudeness alone was now usually enough to clear anyone off his radar.

Well. He could still look. It had been a long, long time since he’d even allowed himself that much. And he was in complete control of his instincts. He had to be. And he’d be distracted enough with his job soon enough that he could forgive himself for a stray thought or two. And the doctor had said that it might take a while for his hormones to even out after the last rounds of IVF...

Still, the dive his brain takes towards the gutter is mildly unsettling.

You’re back on suppressants now, he latches onto the concept like a life raft, you shouldn’t be responding to a leaky alpha like this.

And aggressive alphas should be especially off-limits.

He knows that. He tells himself that again, but it’s hard to look away, and he callously slams down the part of his brain that keeps saying maybe. His disappointment in his own rules is frightening. Shiro does a quick mental calculation, but no, this was all just him, and if he could please just not have the gaze and imagination of a hormonal teenager again that would be great. Especially since there is absolutely no way to blame these thoughts on an oncoming heat.

A disapproving grumble in the line behind him drags Shiro’s thoughts back to the present. The customer was finally leaving the counter, his duffel bag on the baggage belt, so evidently things had been sorted out.

As the man walks away, Shiro can't seem to force his eyes away for more than a moment or two. There’s something about the stranger’s aura that feels almost magnetic. He catches a glimpse of angular features, and Shiro is nearly floored by those dark eyes before they shut tightly. Focus turns the alpha’s expression into a blank mask, and in a moment, the radiating sense of alpha dominance is snuffed out.

With a subtle shake, the man walks past the line and slips back into the crowd.

Shiro watches him go, trying to keep sight of the flashes of red in the crowd. He’s startled by the loss that claws at his throat, the sense that he should have stepped in earlier, should have made an excuse to chat with the man after...

He tries to focus himself as he heads over to the counter. He’s here for a reason after all. This is a work trip; he can’t be sightseeing. He manages to collect his thoughts. “Takashi Shirogane,” he announces himself with a smile, passing over his documents and leaning easily against the desk.

Thankfully, he gets through the bag drop and customs lines with no further distractions.

 


 

Shiro stares at the flight board in dismay. Delayed. By three hours. He just wants this damn trip to be over already.

With a sigh, he shifts his laptop bag to his other shoulder. He briefly considers setting it up and getting ahead on work.

But...

Somehow, five minutes later he’s found an overpriced beer and a wall of sports instead. He’s not even particularly interested in any of the games being shown, but anything beats preparing lectures.

After all, he can get those done on the plane.

 


 

He’s had time to order a second pint, and Shiro swears he’s seriously considering starting work, maybe after the next time the same highlight reel plays, when hints of power raise the hair on the back of his neck. Again. He turns. He can’t help it. The red jacket immediately grabs his attention. His thoughts drift as his eyes trace over those long legs. It’s the disruptive passenger from earlier, just staggering out of security now. Curious, Shiro keeps watching, his thoughts of sympathy for the weary-looking traveller mirrored on his expressive face. This whole airport seemed to be giving him a hard time.

The alcohol dulls Shiro’s sense of self-preservation. Maybe he really does have a masochistic streak, because he can’t will his eyes back to the bank of televisions. It’s not like the glass and fake-wood counter separating the bar from the rest of the airport actually offers him any privacy.

So of course the man catches him staring, gaze locking with Shiro’s with an almost physical force.

Shiro feels heat gather in his cheeks, and for a moment he stares the stranger down with easy, nonchalant confidence, before the mask shatters. Shiro breaks eye contact, and drops his gaze to the pint glass in front of him. Idly, he traces lines across the foggy condensation.

A moment later Shiro’s eyes widen as he realizes what he did, and he reaches up to self-consciously touch his neck. He hadn’t meant to bare it. Fuck. And he hadn’t meant to drop his gaze like that. He turns, worried that he’d been signalling submissive interest, meaning to apologize - but the man is gone again. Shit. Shiro stares out at the crowded waiting area, but can’t pick out the red and white lines of the distinctive jacket. His heartbeat pounds, dulling the background noise as he searches.

It’s ok, he tells himself, looking at his bare ring-finger. Think of what Matt would say. It’s ok. After all, it’s not like a stranger’s impression matters.

His twisting guts disagree, and he can’t clear the guilt from his mind.

He still touches the base of that finger with his thumb, mindlessly looking for his wedding ring, used to spinning it. Before everything crashed down around him. But. No ring. No reason to apologize for flirting, even if it was accidental.

“Can I sit here?”

When he realizes the voice is addressing him, Shiro looks over his shoulder.

Of course it’s him.

Shiro freezes, heart jumping into his throat. He doesn't know what to do first. Apologize for staring? Apologize for flirting? He opens his mouth but words refuse to form.

The alpha shifts his weight and then shrugs, looking away, running a hand through his long hair and hiding his expression for a moment. “If it wasn’t so busy I wouldn’t ask,” he mutters to Shiro’s lack of response. It’s true. The place is getting packed. Even the floors against the walls are being used, exhausted travellers propped up wherever they can find a space.

Shiro swallows, realizing he’ll actually have to talk to the man. He’s been given a second chance, and yet, his throat is stitched shut and he’s pretty sure his heartbeat will drown out any attempt at conversation.

He closes his eyes for a moment. He can do this.

“Sorry, it’s been a long day already,” Shiro says, calling up a welcoming smile and gesturing at the open seat across from him. He can do this. Other people do this all the time. “Looks like there’s bad weather off the coast.” The flight board has been filling up with more delays and cancellations every time he looks up.

The alpha is still watching him, a bit wary after Shiro’s pause. “Yeah,” he finally agreed, shifting onto the offered seat and dropping his bag under the table. “But without the delay I might have missed my flight…” he rubs his hands over his eyes.

The air between them thickens, stretches like taffy as something deep inside Shiro responds. It's almost like a physical craving to erase the stress of the guy - and he’d like to think that it wouldn't be out of the ordinary, if the emotion wasn't focused on a stranger rather than a friend.

Shiro tries to remember how to breathe. He wants to keep talking to this guy and as soon as he realizes just how nervous Shiro is it’s going to fall apart. The man opens his eyes and Shiro continues to stare into them. A few more heartbeats pass before he realizes that he should probably say something. Normal people don’t just stare. He doesn’t usually just stare.

But he feels like he needs to not be Shiro right now, needs to not be tied to rules or weighed down by everything he’s supposed to be. And some twisted part of him wants to feel a connection, even if it means being transgressive... “I’m Takashi,” he finally introduces himself, almost stumbling over his own name. He doesn’t think he’s given it out like this in his entire adult life. Immediately he regrets it, feeling exposed and stupid. It should mean more. He should wait-

The alpha is oblivious to Shiro’s internal disaster. “Keith.” The alpha reaches out, taking his offered hand.

He clasps it rather than shaking it, and Shiro can’t stop the slow smile that spreads across his face, previous self-chastisement derailed. Keith, he repeats to himself. It takes him a moment to uncurl his fingers when he realizes that people usually let go after the gesture.

Shiro fishes around for something to say, unable to look away from Keith’s eyes. All traces of common sense have abandoned him.

“Can I buy you a beer?” Shiro offers, hoping that it would keep Keith around while he tries to remember how words work.

Keith looks surprised. “Sure?” It comes out more as a question than an answer.

Shiro is almost grateful for the chance to look down at the bar’s tablet, ready to add to his tab with a few swipes. “What do you want?”

“Anything’s fine.”

Shiro repeats his own order. When he looks up again the silence sits heavy on the table, an unwelcome third wheel.

“So…” he starts, drawing the word out as he struggles.

Keith looks back at him, silent. Shiro wonders just what’s going on behind his eyes. He’s terrified of boring the man, making him turn back to his phone. Did anyone actually care about how many brothers and sisters you have, how shitty the weather is, or how much work sucks?

Panic saps Shiro’s conversational creativity. With more time he things could figure out something suave to say. He stumbles into an awkward, “Follow any sports?” It’s just as bad, just as bland as things he’d originally considered, and he mentally kicks himself.

Keith turns to follow Shiro’s gaze over his shoulder, the bank of televisions showing basketball and football games.

Keith turns back with a bit of contemptuousness. “Not so much…” But he accepts the beer set in front of him with a smile at Shiro, and seems to take pity because he doesn’t turn a cold shoulder. “Well, not so much team sports.”

“Oh?” Shiro’s brain still refuses to function.

“Motocross. MMA. Stuff like that I’ll watch.”

“Just watch?” Shiro has to ask, because Keith’s look has softened to something distant, almost dreamy. Shiro wants to know what makes that happen.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had the freedom to play around with things like that,” Keith glances away, but not before Shiro can see the want in his eyes.

“Adrenaline junkie?” Shiro asks, a teasing note echoing in his words as he slowly becomes more comfortable.

“Something like that.”

Keith’s eyes light up despite his non-committal answer, and Shiro laughs easily, charmed. “What was your favourite?”

“I loved my old dirt bike,” Keith says. Shiro immediately knows there has to be more to the story because the small smile disappears suddenly Keith is spilling darker emotions. His eyes remain calmly focused on the table in front of him, but flashes of bright frustration still escape his control. No. More than frustration. There’s anger and pain and regret.

With the proximity it’s so much worse than earlier. Shiro feels like all of the air has been sucked out of the room. The intense need to make Keith feel better nearly drowns him.

It’s just his body, some ancient instincts that urge him to meet the alpha’s anger and fear and to sublimate it, channel it into an easier emotion to deal with. He grips the table with a determination to not just show throat on the spot. Again. “You’re… uh…” he tries to find a way to phrase it. He keenly feels the lack of alphas in his own group of friends as he struggles. He doesn’t have a lot of experience diffusing these types of situations casually.

“Sorry.” Keith stares down at the table, cheeks darkening. Shiro can feel him trying to contain the power, hear his measured breaths as he tries to breathe through it. “I just started a new job and the insurance caps the dose of blockers they’ll supply. They think I don’t know my own body.” he growls, then immediately falls back into slow, steady breaths. “They think I'm angling for excess to sell or whatever.”

Understanding suddenly clicks into place. The same chemical pills that blunt an alpha’s volatile nature can also be used to send omega into an artificial heat. Shiro knows this too well, it’s something the Garrison has been on guard for ever since a horrific incident a few summers ago.

Shiro knows he’s playing with fire when he reaches out to touch Keith’s wrist. But the way he had his hand on the table he could play it off like he was just unthinkingly trying to get Keith’s attention. As if he doesn’t feel the need to drag the pads of his fingers gently across the sensitive skin there just because.

Out of the corner of his eye he sees notices that security are keeping a careful eye on Keith, moving slowly closer to the airport bar. He keeps a subtle watch on them in return. He thinks it’s his omegan instincts on overdrive, he wants to keep himself between Keith and them. They might not understand.

“Let me help,” he whispers. “They’re watching you.”

Shiro’s own pheromones start to flow to the surface. He can’t call them back if he wanted to. He’s got a few hours, after all. He can help.

 


 

The general shift in people traffic make them look up. More flights are displaying cancelled near their numbers. Shiro’s guts sink as he realize his flight is among them.

He sighs.

“Do you have to go?” Keith asks.

When Shiro looks over, Keith is examining the board as well. Shiro considers. He probably should go find the desk to see if there’s a way to get on a later flight, but there’s already probably a line. He can stay here a little longer. For the first time in ages, he sets aside what he should do for what he wants to do.

“Not yet…”

 


 

He lets Keith lead the conversation, cautious of any other hidden landmines in topics. It seems like his omega aura is helping though, and they down another few beers. The time slips by easily, before Keith hears something in the garbled noise of the announcements.

Keith’s fingers curl into fists. “Fuck.” He stares at them until his fingers straighten again, then drags them backwards through his hair, effectively hiding his face for a moment. “That was mine.”

“Cancelled?” Shiro attempts to interpret.

Keith drops his shaggy head onto his arms with an aggravated noise. “I wouldn’t usually care so much... Sorry. I hate that it makes me this angry. This isn’t me. I’m… hey. Thanks for sitting with me.” Keith manages his frustration. “Guess I should go get my luggage.”

Shiro makes an unhappy sound. “Guess so.”

Keith gathers his things. “It was nice to meet you, Takashi. Thanks again.” He meets Shiro’s eyes, and drops his gaze away quickly.

“It was nice to meet you too…” Shiro fumbles in his awkwardness as he looks away, trying to find his phone. He’s not sure how to ask for Keith’s number, despite not even knowing what state he lives in. Any phrases seem too awkward. When he finally figures out what pocket it was in, he looks up to see Keith’s back, slipping away in the sea of people.

Shiro freezes. Maybe it wasn’t anything. Not meant to be, at least.

He sits with his regrets for another long minute before he goes to deal with his own cancelled flight.

 


 

“No, no, this is great. Thanks so much, Lawrence, really appreciate it.” Shiro manages a smile as he ends the call to HR, the poor summer intern roped into answering calls far outside business hours. It’s late, but the Garrison’s long reach comes in handy. He thanks the airline’s rep in front of him, and vouchers in hand, Shiro steps out of the VIP line to meander towards the line of taxis. The heavy rain streaks over the walls of glass, blurring the headlights into impressionist paintings.

The airport has taken on the air of a shelter, long lines stretching out as the general public wait to be placed in hotels and have flights rescheduled. Shiro realizes he’s staring at the lines, looking for that red-and-white jacket.

He almost walks right by him. He’s not waiting in line after all. He catches sight of Keith by a wall, jammed up against his duffel bag and an honest-to-goodness paper book in his hand. He’s drawn towards him, he can’t make himself just walk by.

“You staying here?”

Shiro tries to fight off the impulse to say he’ll take Keith home. He’s not usually the type to start building a nest after one date. Or, at the very least, he hasn’t been that type in a long time.

Keith bites his lip as he looks up. “My flights were pretty budget. I got transferred to standby tomorrow but due to some legal shit the airline doesn’t have to find me a place to stay.” In a flash of lightning, Shiro catches a moment where the frustration flares to life on Keith’s face. “This is fine though. I’ve slept in worse places for longer.”

Shiro wants to know every detail. He wants to hear it, and swear to Keith that it’ll never happen again. “That’s... unfair,” Shiro hesitates. “My airline is being a lot more reasonable.” He guesses that his employer and position probably have a fair amount of influence over that but he doesn’t really feel the need to mention that.

He pauses, sinking into a crouch beside Keith so he’s not just staring awkwardly down at him. There’s still something tantalizing about his aura, something that promised excitement. Danger.

Shiro lets his voice sink low, into something he hoped was attractive. “Want to stay with me tonight?”

Keith hesitates, his expression carefully blank. “I'm not your alpha. I’m not your problem to deal with.” Keith’s eyes catch the neon lights, the slate-gray shimmering violet for a moment. “You don't have to take care of me,” he enunciates the words carefully, like it’s an old argument. Shiro gets it. He knows the general stereotypes - alphas are unpredictable, aggressive, needed to be handled with kid gloves...

But there were just as many untruths about omegas. There just weren’t enough of either out in the general population to dispel the old myths.

Shiro bites his lip. His stomach rolls over, and his heart suddenly wants to offer more. It had been so long. He knows it’s ridiculous, he’s not usually someone who feels like this so soon after meeting someone. Yet, despite every shred of common sense that would argue against him… he still wants this. “Maybe tonight you could take care of me, then…” Shiro offers a bit too lightly, baring his soul with the genuine desire.

Keith looks up under that shag of hair and Shiro freezes, suddenly sure he’s gone too far. Shit. For a few frantic heartbeats he knows he’s a failure at flirting, a complete embarrassment.

Some god is smiling down on him though, because Keith responds to his fumbling suggestion. “Just tonight,” Keith repeats, lucid enough to use language but suddenly spilling pheromones like a teenager, eyes blown dark and the teasing atmosphere of an impending rut creeping thicker around the two of them. “No strings.”

“No strings.” Shiro licks his lips. The pheromones are heady. He needs to anchor himself, needs to touch.

Absently, he pulls Keith's wrist to his face, pressing his nose into that delicate skin, scenting. In public. He's already lost and this is a terrible idea. He just…. It’s been so long since he could relax.

He's completely forgotten how to do this.. Shiro pulls the heel of Keith's palm into his cheek, pressing into it. It’s easy to blame the pheromones, the coalescing desire and his instinctive desire to soothe. Too easy, and only a fraction of the truth. Shiro wants this.

Keith breathes out, and Shiro can feel how tenuous his grasp on control is when Keith’s scent floods heavier into his nose.

There’s an edge of a growl in Keith’s words when he replies, “Then tonight, you’re mine.”

 


 

The cab driver earns a very fat tip.

Keith pushes him down against the seat, following him down like a predator.

Shiro is definitely glad he keeps a change of clothes in his carry-on, because he can feel how wet he is with every tiny movement. The scent of lust is intensifying, nearing the levels of what Shiro imagines a rut might be like, the small space driving Shiro crazy.

“Mine…” Keith repeats again, pressing his nose in close to Shiro’s neck. Shiro freezes, because oh, it feel so nice to have someone actually want him. That, and there’s an edge of alpha power drifting around the words, and that sort of makes the world drop out from under him. He could be Keith’s. Easily. It’s his own pheromones and Keith’s near-rut, both scents mingling and saturating the air, making it heavy with promise. And Shiro’s body responds.

“I can smell how much you want this,” Keith breathes. The passing streetlights flash amber in his dark eyes.

Shiro flushes, embarrassed, but uncaring already. “Yeah,” he agrees, half-stupid with lust, barely sane enough to keep from stroking Keith and guaranteeing disaster in the cab.

“You smell so…”

Shiro can just watch as Keith loses words, feels Keith’s breath come quickly over his pulse point.

Between Keith and the cab seat it’s impossible to roll over and present himself, and he’s grateful for that. Otherwise, Shiro’s afraid that this might end like a trashy romance novel.

He shoots a quick look to the driver, whose eyes remain firmly on the road. Shiro tries to cling onto the memory of what it’s like to have shame in public. But he strokes his hand up Keith’s thigh. He can’t help himself.

The cab driver clips another scent blocker to the fans on the car and clicks it up a few notches.

 


 

In the past, Shiro has won awards for taking command in tough situations, for being able to figure out answers quicker than anyone else. He’d tested at the top of his class so many times he hadn’t bothered to keep track.

Somehow, getting the room key was a bigger challenge than any of those.

Not because of any issues with the agent at the desk though, no. The poor night shift worker was as efficient as he could be.

But Shiro’s instincts scream at him to keep touching Keith, to channel the volatile energy sparking between them into something sensual. He can’t take his hands completely off of Keith. Their hands remain tangled, and Keith presses possessively against Shiro’s side. Keith strokes Shiro’s fingers absently, driving Shiro nearly mad with the need to feel his hands everywhere else, too.

“Takashi Shirogane,” he confirmed his name, pushing his company credit card over the table. “It should have been taken care of.”

The Garrison was well known enough that the worker only gave him and Keith a slow once over before he slid across the room keys.

He wrinkled his nose. “Just so you know, sir, this is for one night - if you’re looking for something longer term you can let us know at any time by dialing zero on the room phone; you won’t need to leave for anything…”

Realizing the attendant is hinting that he might be going into heat, Shiro feels indignant warmth rise to his cheeks.

Shiro knows he should be more embarrassed. But with Keith pulsing desire and pressing into his side in a fiery claim it’s hard to deny that they look like what they are - at the edge of control.

“Thanks,” he says tightly, and lets Keith nudge him towards the elevator.

 


 

Shiro makes the mistake of turning to meet Keith’s eyes when the elevator arrives. Whatever words might have been die in his throat. Keith walks him back into the elevator until Shiro’s shoulderblades hit the far mirror, a small smile on his face.

Seven floors. He can make it.

“Tell me what you want,” breathes Keith, his dark eyes searching Shiro’s gaze.

“You,” Shiro answers, because his brain can’t conjure up anything more specific.

More of Keith’s power spills into the small space. He’s confidence incarnate as he moves into Shiro’s space. Shiro swallows hard as Keith’s foot nudges into his, and he spreads his legs wider with little urging.

Keith steps into the space Shiro’s made. He hooks his fingers into Shiro’s belt-loops, pulling in close so that there’s barely any space between them, hovering just outside of any friction.

Shiro bites his lip once, fighting against the urge to rock his hips forwards into Keith. Instead he bends his head, chasing Keith’s lips for another kiss.

Keith pulls back, keeping just out of range. One of his hands strokes up Shiro’s chest, dancing lightly before he grabs a fistful of Shiro’s collar.

Shiro makes a soft noise, running his hands up Keith’s sides, pausing just below the hem of his cropped jacket.

Keith flinches as the bell dings and the doors open, and Shiro leans down, taking advantage of the distraction to press a quick kiss into Keith’s lips.

Keith twists away with a smirk, shoulders his bag, and lets Shiro trail after him like a man with his first crush. He’s helpless.

 


 

Shiro closes the door beside him, feeling more awkward alone than in public. He folds his jacket and drops it over his bag, fussing as he procrastinates. This was real. This was going to happen.

Keith's hands skim down over his chest, ready to pin him back against the door. One slips underneath his shirt. Shiro swallowed. The touch of skin-on-skin makes him reel.

Shiro catches Keith’s wrist. “Wait,” he whispers, offering an embarrassed laugh.

Keith freezes, and yanks his hands away like Shiro’s grip burns. He looks so unsure after the request that Shiro reached to grab both his hands again, pulls them back into his body heat. The look Keith gives Shiro is disproportionately terrified.

“You said you wanted-”

Shiro stumbles to reassure him. “I do. It's just that it’s um, you should know that it’s been a really long time for me...” he admits.

Keith cautiously relaxes, his body melting into Shiro’s again. “Since you've been with an alpha?” He asks, eyes slanting away from Shiro, projecting disappointment with his own secondary nature.

“Since I've been with any guy…” Shiro thumbs over Keith’s hands, feeling embarrassed. “I’ve uh… yeah,” he trails off, not sure about how much he should share. Shiro feels heat rise into his ears. He’s sure they’re red by now. “Just… so you know.”

Shiro let himself be drawn into a loose embrace but Keith freezes with his lips just against Shiro's neck. He pulls back, looks a touch nervous as well. He draws lines up Shiro’s forearms; distracted. “You know how I mentioned that my suppressants aren’t the strongest?”

Shiro nods.

“I might knot….” Keith mutters, looking embarrassed over it.

Shiro makes a pleased sound. “Knot a problem…” he raises an eyebrow playfully.

Keith winces and pushes him back into the door. Something flutters to life in Shiro’s stomach when Keith actually turns to hide his smile.

Shiro pushes ahead of his bad jokes, ahead of his desire. “I’m on suppressants too,” Shiro hastens to reassure Keith. Words are difficult. He doesn’t really want to talk. He just wants Keith to pin him down. He tries to get his idea across by pulling Keith tightly into him.

“Ah.” Keith seems slightly embarrassed. His lips are warm against Shiro’s neck, pressing kisses into Shiro’s sensitive skin while Shiro closes his eyes. Shiro shivers as he feels Keith’s tongue trace quick lines over his pulse, never pausing long enough. He wants Keith to bite, wants Keith to mark him but Keith is restrained in his teasing. When Keith speaks, his breath cools the slick trails on Shiro’s skin. “How do you want to do this?”

Shiro traces a line along Keith’s jaw, tilting Keith’s head back up so that he can look the alpha in the eye. Keith’s own gaze is dark, slightly unfocused, and his Shiro’s distracted by the way he parts his lips. Shiro struggles to think of anything that he wouldn’t want Keith to do to him.

“I-I’m pretty much open to anything…” He wants this so badly. He can’t figure out how he got this lucky. Shiro uses his size to his advantage, breaking Keith’s gentle hold on him and moving past Keith into the room. He reaches out to hook Keith’s fingers with his own, tugging him along with him towards the bed. “I want to feel you inside me,” he admits, the words catching in his throat, making his voice sound rougher. He doesn’t want to put pressure on Keith but... “If you knot I want to feel it.” He’s not actually sure if he’s ever said something so direct, and exposing his thoughts like this makes his heart beat faster.

Keith smiles, follows Shiro to the bed. When Shiro sits, he remains standing, hands on his studded belt. “Yeah,” he says softly, somehow still the one more in control. “We can probably manage that. Might have to take it slow…” he teases Shiro. Shiro’s eyes are glued to Keith’s fingers, now subtly tracing over the front of his dark jeans.

Shiro struggles, trying to be polite when all he wants to do is add his own hands to Keith’s. Keith looks… big. He wants to see just what he’s gotten himself into. “But uh- if you don’t, uh, prefer it that way, I don’t mind switching.” He manages to ask. “What… what do you want to do…or not want to do?”

“Don’t grab my wrists without warning…” Keith cautions, but his serious expression is short-lived. “But other than that…” He smiles slightly as he reaches out, dancing his fingers slowly across Shiro’s chest. His other hand still palms lightly over his own jeans.

Shiro wants to touch too. His hands slip under Keith’s dark shirt, lifting the bottom hem out of his way. He holds it up with his thumbs, teasing his fingers along the waistband of Keith’s jeans.

He’s pretty sure Keith has stopped breathing. Both of Keith hands have stopped moving. Shiro wants to believe he’s captured Keith’s full attention.

Shiro doesn’t consider himself vain, but he knows how to play to his strengths. He hooks his finger tips in, feeling the heat caught between fabric and skin. He lets his tongue slip out, as if he’s going to lick that dark trail of hair. He pauses, looks up from underneath his dark bangs.

“May I?” Shiro asks, all assumed innocence. He presses his cheek into Keith’s stilled hand, cat-like and playful. The movement startles Keith back into action. The fingers of Keith’s other hand clench onto his shoulder as Keith leans over him.

He blinks up at Keith, who nods. Keith looks reverent as he shifts to cup Shiro’s cheek. His thumb runs over Shiro’s lower lip. The gentle touch makes Shiro shiver. He holds Keith’s gaze as he leans in to Keith’s navel. He hasn’t done this in so long. He teases, kissing gently along the flat muscles just above Keith’s jeans.

Keith’s hand shifts to Shiro’s hair, not quite guiding, but encouraging, as he strokes through Shiro’s dark fade.

Shiro tests a little, biting gently.

He hears Keith’s little intake of breath, feels the way Keith’s fingers tense in his hair. When he looks up, Keith’s teeth are sinking paler marks into his lower lip, eyes blown dark and wanting.

“Like that?” Shiro tilts his head a little.

“Yeah.”

Shiro nuzzles lower over dark denim. The thin metal zipper is coppery against his tongue as he tugs it down with his teeth. It’s worth the performance to see Keith having to hold back above him, to feel the tautness that’s almost a vibration in the muscles of his legs as Shiro’s hands skim up to get the button and belt out of his way.

A selfish moment of delight swells inside Shiro as he works Keith free of the tight jeans.

“Fuck,” Shiro whispers his appreciation, and Keith gives a little groan above him.

Shiro fumbles in his pockets, finding the condoms he’d hastily purchased from the vending machine in the airport bathroom.

His fingers are actually shaking as he rips it open, carefully sheathing Keith. The latex is slippery against his fingers, the rubber scent masked under the cheerful fake fruit.

He pushes Keith’s jeans lower, so he can palm at Keith’s ass as he pulls him closer.

Keith seems even thicker when he tries to take him in deep. The weight is so satisfying on his tongue as the girth forces his mouth past what is comfortable. He’s out of practice, a bit sloppy, as his mind races ahead of his body.

Shiro adds in his hands as he pulls back to breathe, lifting his eyes to watch as Keith peels his shirt up over his body. He slows his rhythm, appreciating the body tensing above him. He tries to help,tugging at Keith’s tight pants, but he’s distracted.

Shiro’s jaw aches as he tries to draw Keith deeper until he’s at the edge of choking, tears bright at the corner of his eyes. He’s eager to make this good for Keith too.

He’s struck by how much he wants more. He wants to taste Keith, not plastic orange fruit. He wants musk and salt and closeness.

Keith finally weaves his hands through Shiro’s longer hair, pulling back a bit unsteadily. “Let me give you what you wanted…”

Shiro reluctantly releases his hold on Keith, fumbling with his own clothing, realizing he’s still pretty much dressed even as Keith shimmies out of his pants. Shiro’s jacket and shirt get tossed over the edge of the bed, and he laughs as Keith attempts to help with his own pants. It’s a mess, they’re constantly in each other’s way, hands knocking together with a sort of playful urgency. He wants the time to learn how Keith moves, to read his body.

But he also wants to be naked and next to him now. He kicks free of his shoes and socks, letting Keith tug his pants off.

Shiro scoots backwards on the bed, pulling Keith over him. He manages to kick the comforter out of the way.

Keith follows him, kissing Shiro, at once both soft and urgent. He chases away the awkwardness with playful caresses. Shiro slowly relaxes. Keith’s body feels hot next to him, warm and hard, all lean muscle and sleek angles.

Keith’s fingers have gone lazy, stroking his inner thigh. Shiro tenses at every touch that travels closer to where he wants it, drawing his legs up and into Keith’s sides. He didn’t quite expect the visceral pull that Keith’s touches would bring. He wants more; he didn’t expect to be addicted so quickly. Keith cuddles into him, pressing as much of their bodies together as possible.

Keith’s more hesitant than Shiro expected; Shiro encourages his tentative touches with whispers and moans. Shiro’s hands are free, he strokes up Keith’s sides, deepening the kisses.

Keith slowly copies Shiro. Keith’s hand wrapping around him is heaven. Shiro could forget about anything else if they had more time… “Keith,” Shiro breathes, craning upwards to watch the alpha’s hands move over him. Keith snugs his body against Shiro more insistently as his other hand slips lower.

Shiro helps as much as he can, spreading his legs further as Keith presses inwards. He shuts his eyes as Keith enters him. The sensation is a distant memory, an ache as his muscles yield to the gentle force.

“Ok?” Keith whispers.

“So good,” Shiro nods, but it’s another few moments before he can open his eyes.

Keith’s hands stroke slowly, an alternating rhythm that has Shiro breaking into sweat and throwing his arm up to dig into the pillow.

“I want you inside me,” Shiro pants out, not sure if he’ll be able to hold off much longer. He doesn’t want to come just yet.

Keith presses another kiss into his collarbone, nipping lightly at his pec before kneeling. He looks a bit unsure as he rests his hands on Shiro’s knees. His eyes go wide as Shiro relaxes, showing off his flexibility with a bit of a tease.

Keith recovers quickly, He looks up, holding Shiro’s eyes as he presses forward. Shiro manages to hold that flinty gaze for a few heartbeats. For a moment it’s the edge of pain, the stretch so unfamiliar but so wanted. His hands fly up, and he forcefully holds Keith in place, keeping him from moving for a few breaths as he adjusts to the feeling. Keith watches him, concern surfacing in his eyes, before Shiro finally nods and gives a half smile.

At Keith’s first gentle movement, Shiro arches back into the bed, breathing deliberately as he tries to force his body to relax, despite his eagerness. He tenses around Keith, experimentally, and smirks a little when Keith twists, pressing his nose to his shoulder and hiding his face.

Shiro starts to rock up into Keith, gentle in his encouragement. Keith meets the challenge in Shiro’s eyes with fire in his own. Shiro closes his eyes and gasps quietly at the impact of Keith pushing deeper. “Mmm. Yeah.”

His toes curl, catching folds of the sheet as he meets Keith’s rhythm.

Keith buries his head in Shiro’s neck, and Shiro breathes in the alpha’s scent, arms wrapping around him to hold Keith there tightly against him, the friction of their bodies sliding together another layer of bliss.

He’s lost to the pleasure for a moment, before the quiet pants against his skin pause.

“Let me mark you?”

Keith’s words break through his hazy thoughts. Shiro lets his head sink heavily into the pillow as he considers. There’s something in the tenderness of this alpha that shatters at least half of the rules he should follow.

Fuck his rules. “Yes…” Shiro whispers.

He tenses when Keith nuzzles back into his neck, scenting him again.

Keith’s teeth find a pressure point near his scent gland. Shiro’s breath leaves him and he sinks his fingers deep into Keith’s hips at the sudden pain. Keith pushes forward, sinking deeper, and the slight hiss of Shiro exhaling turns into a moan.

The pain blooms into pleasure, his nerves crossed somewhere, and it’s enough that he has to squeeze his eyes shut and concentrate on other thoughts.

He can feel Keith, a nebulous doubling of sensation. It’s all he can do to breathe through it, it’s less emotion and more physical sensation, tightness, a pleasure so sharp it borders on pain.

Every move that Keith makes is echoed in that liminal space; the achy pull as his body gives, the sleek friction against… Shiro reaches down to touch himself, fucking up into his hand and back down against Keith, blissfully lost in the hazy pleasy.

Keith rhythm breaks, and Shiro swears, feeling the build-up, the denial. “Don’t stop-” he pleads.

But Keith pulls out, leaving Shiro frustrated, unsure of how much of the emotion is his own and how much is spilling from Keith’s mark. “Can’t… hold off much longer,” Keith admits through gritted teeth. “Gonna knot…” He’s got his hand wrapped around the base of his cock, trying to hold off the inevitable. “Turn over.”

If he didn’t want this so badly he wouldn’t, but the desire to follow an alpha’s order takes precedence over his memory of pride. Shiro presents. His ears are burning, and he drops onto his elbows to hide his reddening face. He knows it’ll be less awkward like this, after, but…

The slight embarrassment fades with the pressure behind him. He arches up as Keith pushes inside again, his body easy and accepting. Keith hands are hot along his sides as he strokes down to grab Shiro’s hips.

Shiro whimpers as Keith’s fingers dig in. They hold him steady as Keith sinks deep, small hitches of his hips building up the heat between them.

Shiro breathes out and Keith drives forward. He already feels thicker. Shiro’s breathing quickens, but he tries to relax. It’s been so long, and the bite that links them together pushes the sensation quickly towards overwhelming.

Keith’s teeth are sharp at his neck, small bites, but not gentle. The pain cuts through some of the pleasure, keeping Shiro grounded. “You’re going to take it all…” Keith whispers, the words said halfway between a command or in wonder.

As the knot swells Shiro can feel it, like a deep pressure growing inside him. It presses into him in all the best ways, driving him higher.

He comes against the sheets as Keith rocks slowly into him, movements tender and limited as he searches for…

Keith comes with a gasp, gripping tightly into Shiro. Shiro can feel it, pounding through the mating mark on his neck, a hot rush shattering between them. He doesn’t need to touch himself. Between the sensations in his brain and the increasing pressure of the swelling knot inside him he’s thrown over the edge as well. Shiro’s body stiffens, and he spills out messily across the sheets. He holds them both up, arms shaking, as he freezes with the doubled sensations crashing through his mind. He manages to roll them to one side as he sinks back to the bed.

His body hums with the aftersparks.

Keith’s fingers are restless, drawing little patterns into Shiro’s chest as he mouths soft kisses against his shoulders. It’s tender. Sweet.

Not what Shiro expected from a one night stand but something more. Still, locked together, the moment feels too intimate. He’d usually have more to say, but he doesn’t want to shatter this fragile intimacy with the wrong words. He feels like he’ll ruin this if he says too much.

For a moment, it feels like they share one racing heart between them.

 


 

When Keith’s knot fades, Shiro pats Keith’s arm and squirms forward. “I’m going to shower… you’re welcome to join if you want…”

Keith sprawls casually over the bed, splayed and content. Shiro feels an unusual wave of possessiveness kick in as his gaze traces the alpha’s shameless display. A part of him wants to see this every morning, having someone so attentive and captivating in his bed. He still looks dazed, in the way that good sex will. The messy hair doesn’t help.

Shiro reaches a hand to Keith

Keith smiles and takes it, following him into the bathroom.

 


 

He’d meant the shower to be innocent, it’s an intimate thing to share. But it’s like they’ve known each other for far longer than hours. The mark Keith had given him helped, the feelings stepping in between them when words were slow. And one thing led to another…

Shiro muffles a groan on his own arm. Keith’s fingers feel amazing.

He arches his back further in reply.

“Yes, there,” he pants as Keith presses.

He closes his eyes in absolute bliss.

Keith keeps his gentle, lazy rhythm as he shifts, spreading his own legs as he sinks to the floor of the tub.

He takes Shiro in his mouth, and the heat blends easily with the steam of the shower. Shiro slumps back against the cold wall.

Somehow, his body manages an echo of his first orgasm. Shiro grabs Keith’s hair, feels that spark of pleasure from Keith’s mind, but Keith fights him, swallowing. Shiro smiles, left undone but charmed by the sense of triumph that radiates off the alpha.

Keith stands, turning to rinse out his mouth in the shower as Shiro catches his breath and tries to convince his legs they can hold him. Keith leans against him, pinning him to the wall. His eyes are downcast, and Shiro watches the faint spray of the shower catch in his dark eyelashes.

“And this is when you aren’t in heat...” Keith says softly, maybe more to himself.

Shiro is sated, heavy and lazy, and he wants that sensation to continue. He usually doesn’t open up... but.... “Want to hear something crazy?” he whispers, budging his elbow into Keith’s side.

Keith smiles against his shoulder. “What?”

“I’ve never shared a heat.”

“Oh.” Keith doesn’t sound as surprised as Shiro expects.

Shiro waits for the follow-up question, but Keith seemed content to lapse into silence. He smiled down at Keith. “Guess I just don’t want to give up control like that.” For some reason he wants Keith to know him, more than just… whatever this was between them.

Keith reaches over, and at Shiro’s nod, turns off the water. They stepped out, wrapping themselves in the oversized towels. It’s another few moments before Keith speaks again.

“You’ve had… partners though. Long term?”

Shiro can’t remember exactly what he said earlier. “Yeah. I just choose to take the time on my own.”

Keith seems to just accept that. Shiro studies him, as much as he can without being too obvious about it. He seems like he’s a man of few words, but there aren’t any negative emotions coming through the bond, maybe just a little disbelief. That’s fair.

Shiro wraps an oversized towel around his waist. flinching slightly as the outside air crashes against the cozy humidity of the bathroom. They dig their toiletry cases out from their luggage, and brush their teeth in companionable silence. Shiro wonders if Keith would open up more in time, if there’d be a more talkative side to him if they grew closer, if he’d be one to share little things or if he’d choose to stay quiet…

Keith yawns as he turns.

Shiro catches up to Keith and snakes his arms around him, lazily steering them towards the second bed.

“There’s another bed…” Keith hedges in soft protest. “I can-”

Shiro wraps his arms more tightly around Keith. “Stay with me,” Shiro mumbles, although the words blur into something unintelligible against Keith’s neck, already feeling the tendrils of sleep creeping into his mind.

Keith laughs, low and rough and crackly, and strokes Shiro’s arms where they’re around him. Damp and pleasantly tired, they fit their bodies together slowly, and drift off.

 


 

Shiro doesn’t want to peel himself from the bed, not even when he hears Keith shifting in the darkened room, gathering clothes and bags. It’s a bit of a farce; he was instantly awake. But for today, he wants to be the kind of person that can laze in bed for a second (third?) round rather than run out to calisthenics training at the crack of dawn.

“What time is it?” Shiro whispers, rolling over onto his back, sinking into the warmth his companion had left.

“Four-thirty,” Keith says quietly. “Go back to sleep.”

Shiro makes an unhappy sound. “Come back to bed.”

“I saved up for this flight for months…” Shiro barely catches Keith’s whisper. “I have to go. Standby on the first flight out is my best chance.”

Shiro sighs and sits up, rubbing his eyes. “I can walk you out…” he says, wanting to spend even just a little more time.

“Don’t worry about it,” Keith leans back over the bed, pressing a minty kiss into Shiro’s forehead. Shiro catches him easily, pulling him into the large bed.

“Give me your number,” Shiro buries his head and tries to picture making this work. He doesn’t even know what city Keith lives in. He can figure that out by area code though.

Keith freezes, and pulls away.

Through the throbbing mark on his neck Shiro can feel some echo of what Keith’s feeling. His heart plummets.

“I don’t have a phone,” Keith says dully.

It takes Shiro a moment to process that. If it’s a lie, Shiro thinks it’s a shitty way to be let down.

“Alright,” Shiro said with a sigh, staring back at the ceiling. If that’s how you want it. “Thanks I guess. I had a good time at least.” He can’t help but feel sulky, pride pricked and ego deflated. At least he’d have some good memories. So much for thinking they'd had a connection.

Keith swears and Shiro rolls over. He wants to ignore it but Keith climbs over the bed, practically overtop of him.

“Quick then,” Keith mutters, pushing the hotel paper and pen towards Shiro. “Give me your number or email or something, I’ll find you,” He pushes his hair out of his face, and Shiro wakes himself up enough to carefully print his information. He’s still not sure if this is real, or Keith just trying to save face.

He hands the paper back, and Keith leans in to kiss him, teeth digging into his lower lip making Shiro moan. “I promise, Takashi.” A thrill rockets through Shiro at his given name. Keith pulls back so that he can lean their foreheads together. “I’ll find you. I’m… a bit of a mess right now, but I’ll figure it out and you’ll hear from me. Promise.”

Shiro is shocked into silence, and Keith presses another soft kiss against his lips, before dashing off the bed, jamming the paper into his jacket.

“Don’t forget to put your ring back on before you get home.” There’s bitterness soaking the words, and he looks almost sad as he leans against the door.

He grabbed his duffel and slipped from the room.

Shiro’s stomach drops with the click of the door. “Wait…” he sat up. But he was alone.

His eyes fall to the damning ring of pale skin, standing out against his slight tan. He’s not sure why it hurts so much, that this stranger would think that of him.

In a moment of regret, he wondered just when Keith had noticed that. If only he’d said something earlier, he could have explained…

Now he just looked like an asshole.

Shiro’s body ached as he fell back into the bed.