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The Choices We Make

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It was a cold Saturday morning. The sky was a soft gray and the winter air was the coldest its been in weeks. The neighborhood Arthur lived in was small, almost claustrophobic in how all the tiny apartments were crammed next to each other. Arthur's apartment, or flat - as he would call it, was on the first level of one of the older apartment buildings on the block.

He moved in when he was eighteen as he was just starting community college. Arthur had enough scholarships to pay for half his tuition but had to work full time to pay for the rest of his tuition, school supplies, and rent. Despite this, it only took him two years to finish his degree.

Once he was done with community college he transferred to a four-year university. He earned better scholarships that covered his whole tuition, but it wasn't enough to cover housing so Arthur never moved. Since the classes he took were harder now and Arthur still had to work to pay for rent, he became a part-time student. It was the only way for him to maintain a high enough GPA to keep his scholarships.

His associate's degree allowed him to get a better job much closer to home. The secretarial job came with a higher salary and decent benefits. Arthur stayed at the university for three years and was just one year away from graduating when his scholarships ran out. He didn't want to be buried in debt so he stopped going to college so he could raise money to pay for his final year.

That was two years ago. Arthur was now twenty-five and didn't even have half the amount needed to cover just one semester. Part of him knew he would go back to college to finish his degree, he just didn't know when.

Life wasn't bad, so Arthur didn't feel any rush to go back to college. His job was in a relaxing environment and it came with health benefits. The apartment he lived in was not glamorous by any means, but at least it felt like his home. Everything about the building was wearing away, but Arthur was used to the dull red bricks on the outside and the chipped beige walls on the inside. He found a sort of rustic charm to the building, and it didn't hurt that there was a laundry room in the basement.

The omega was at home now taking a shower. His green eyes were closed as the cold water sprayed over him. He didn't like cold showers, especially during the winter, but his heat was beginning and it was the only thing that helped alleviate his urges.

Arthur hated being in heat and he hated being stuck at home because of it. Since it wasn't safe for omegas to be outside during their heat, they weren't allowed to work until their heat was over. An omega in heat was a lawsuit waiting to happen, and no employer wanted to be liable for any harassments or assaults an omega might experience from unruly alphas. This didn't bother most omegas since all jobs were legally required to pay them while they stayed home during their heat.

It didn't bother Arthur either. What did bother him was that there was nothing productive he could do during his heat. He spent most of his time in his nest. When he first moved into the apartment he only felt safe inside his bedroom when he was in heat. He never left the room unless it was absolutely necessary. Over the years he was able to venture outside of his bedroom, away from his nest, for longer and longer periods of time. It gave him more freedom than he used to have, but he still felt trapped during his heat.

He would love to spend the week reading books, but his raging hormones didn't allow him to focus long enough to read more than one or two paragraphs. He couldn't spend time with anyone, especially if they were an alpha. Arthur didn't spend a lot of time with people anyway, but he liked having the option to.

With a sigh, Arthur turned off the water. He grabbed the burgundy towel that hung from the shower rail and ruffled his blond hair with it until it was dry. Then he proceeded to dry the rest of his body. He got dressed in loose red pants that almost matched the color of his towel, and an oversized white cotton shirt.

After hanging the towel on the back of the door, he walked into his bedroom and stared at his bed. It was another thing he hated about being in heat. He always had a compulsive urge to organize and reorganize his nest, which was common for omegas in heat. What wasn't as common was how Arthur felt the need to clean his entire home.

His bedroom was very small, just big enough to fit everything he had in the room, but he enjoyed how cozy it felt during his heat. He usually wasn't very tidy, but now the carpeted floor had nothing on it except his bed and a brown dresser that was near the closet door. His laundry hamper was usually set next to the dresser, but he hid it away inside his crammed closet during his heat. Aside from the orange curtains over the two windows and the brown dresser, everything else in the room including the walls was white.

Despite spending the previous day arranging and rearranging the white pillows and blankets on his bed, Arthur gave into the need to move a few pillows around again. It all looked a bit of a mess, but everything was strategically placed.

Time after time Arthur went through this ritual during his heat, going through all the effort of making the perfect nest only to have no one meaningful to share it with. Unlike most omegas, Arthur had no problem spending his heats alone and he didn't particularly care about getting into a relationship. That didn't mean he didn't want someone there to appreciate all his hard work.

Which was why he started inviting alphas over during his heat after he left college. Arthur had sex frequently since he lost his virginity years ago, but he hadn't had sex with anyone during his heat until he was twenty-three. Most omegas lost their virginity to the alpha they were going to spend their life with, or who they thought they were going to spend their life with. Some omegas waited for marriage before they had sex. At the very least, most omegas didn't have sex during their heat unless they thought their alpha was "the one".

The Brit didn't believe in waiting for the "right" alpha to have sex with, but he could now understand why most omegas felt that way about having sex during their heat. The first time Arthur had sex during his heat he thought he was in love with the alpha even though the guy was a total stranger. It was such a sudden and strong feeling that he thought they must have been soulmates.

Once his heat was over, Arthur no longer felt like he was in love with the guy. He didn't even want the alpha in his apartment. Despite this, Arthur wanted to give the guy a chance because he thought there might have been something special between them. When Arthur went into heat the following month, all his feelings rushed back. He again felt like he was in love with the alpha, but those feelings were gone the moment his heat ended, so Arthur stopped seeing the alpha.

After that, Arthur met a new alpha every month to spend his heat with. It wasn't hard to find willing alphas, they were everywhere. The easiest and fastest place to find one was at a bar. Each time he did this with a new alpha he felt like he was falling in love with the alpha he brought home. Then the feelings would vanish once his heat was over. Realizing that it was all because of his hormones, the omega learned to disregard those feelings.

Then Arthur completely stopped having sex around nine months ago. He wasn't sure what prompted this change in him, but being with other men felt empty and even repulsed him. Arthur especially didn't want another person's scent lingering on him when he went to work. Just the idea of having some stranger's scent all over him started making him sick, even if he wasn't in heat.

"Sod," Arthur grumbled as he stared at his nest. There was something a little off about it. He stared at the last pillow he just moved before shifting it a few inches to the left. Now his nest was perfect. It was really too bad that there was no one to share it with. The fact that today was Valentine's Day only made him feel even worse.

With a heavy sigh, Arthur left his nest and walked into his living room. There were three dark brown bookcases against the walls which made the room seem even smaller, but Arthur liked it. All the bookcases were filled with books, most of which Arthur already read. The majority were books he read in high school and community college. He was able to read between classes and at the job he had before he became a secretary. Although he didn't have as much time to read anymore, he still read more than most people.

There was a long black couch with an orange throw on it and two red pillows. Across the couch was a small flat screen TV that stood on top of a wooden stand, and adjacent to the couch was a dark gray armchair in the corner between a window and a bookcase. Next to the chair was a small cherry wood side table which had a thick novel lying on it. The cover of the novel had two shirtless blond men kissing passionately as they embraced each other.

The novel was called Subscription To Love, written by Arthur's favorite romance novelist. He loved the way this author wrote because love never came easily for the characters and it seldom lasted. The rare times the characters lived happily ever after together were when they worked really hard to earn it. Those stories turned out to be the more tragic ones, but this only made the endings that much more satisfying. Arthur thought it was a lot like real life.

Arthur started reading the novel about three weeks ago and was really excited to get to the ending. The romance novel was five hundred pages and he was nearly halfway through. He always read a little bit every morning before his shower and a bit more during his commute to work. This was the only time he was able to read since he was usually too exhausted after work and spent most weekends catching up on chores and sleep. Arthur never read during his lunch break since he spent that time with his friend.

He didn't read any of it this morning, of course, since he was in heat. Simply looking at the book cover made him uncomfortably aroused, which was why he turned it over and set it back down on the stand.

The omega went to the kitchen to make himself a light breakfast. When he opened a cabinet, he saw a set of teacups that he hadn't used yet. He took one of the cups and looked it over. It was light blue with a golden floral pattern. The rim of the teacup was gold too. It was beautiful.

A blond blue-eyed alpha named Alfred had given him the set. It was actually a really nice gift. The omega wasn't used to getting gifts that he liked. Arthur didn't really have friends because he didn't particularly like people. Or maybe he didn't like people because they inevitably stopped liking him once they got to know him. Either way, most of Arthur's friends were more like acquaintances. Alfred was the only exception to this.

He met the alpha about ten months ago in an elevator at work. They didn't work at the same job, just the same building. There had been four people in the elevator when Arthur walked in. He pressed the "7" button since his job was on the seventh floor. As the doors started to close, an arm wedged through and forced it open.

"Sorry, sorry," the tall blond man had muttered as he hopped into the elevator and pressed the "10" button. The tenth floor was on the last floor. Arthur never went there but knew an insurance company was on that floor.

Everyone else had gotten off on the second floor, which had left Arthur alone with the alpha. The taller blond's scent was intoxicating. It made Arthur want to stand close to the alpha so he could have a better smell.

"My name's Alfred," the alpha had said. Or maybe Alfred had made a joke about everyone taking the elevator just to get off on the second floor before he introduced himself. Arthur didn't exactly remember the order that these things were said, he just remembered being charmed by the alpha. There was something about Alfred that made Arthur's heart flutter.

"Arthur," the omega had said back.

"Nice to meet you," Alfred had said before reaching out to shake the omega's hand. Arthur had taken the alpha's hand and blushed from the firm grip he had. "I'm sort of new here."

Arthur knew this already of course. There was no way Arthur worked in that building for five years without noticing Alfred, not with a powerful scent like that. So Alfred had to be new. But Arthur said nothing in response to this.

The elevator doors opened on Arthur's floor at that moment. "Maybe I'll see you around," Arthur had said as cooly as he could muster. He started to walk off without looking back.

"I really hope so," he had heard the alpha call out.

The two often ran into each other in the elevator after that day. They always talked to each other until Arthur reached his floor. It wasn't long before they were spending their lunches together at the cafeteria that was located on the first floor. Although this was more because of Alfred's insistence than Arthur's interest, Arthur grew to enjoy spending his lunch breaks with Alfred.

Arthur wasn't entirely sure what the alpha's job was, but he assumed that Alfred got paid really well by the car he drove. There were a few times when Alfred offered to drive Arthur home since the omega only took public transport. Arthur denied the offers for a while but started accepting the rides on days he was particularly tired.

It was nice spending time in the car with Alfred, and not just because it had temperature controlled seats. Arthur enjoyed the extra time they had to talk, and he enjoyed being engulfed in the alpha's scent. Soon he felt comfortable accepting more rides from the alpha, and it became difficult for him to pass up a ride in a BMW for a ride on a crowded bus full of germ-infested strangers. So Arthur started to let Alfred take him home every night. Alfred had to pass by Arthur's neighborhood anyway to get to his own, so the alpha wasn't going out of his way.

He hadn't had a chance to see the alpha during lunch for the last few weeks. His job had gotten really hectic so he needed to work during his breaks and stay late to work overtime. The last time Arthur saw the alpha was last month at a New Year's Eve party their building hosted. All the floors got together to make one grand party, and it was actually pretty fun. Or maybe it was all the eggnog that made it bearable.

Alfred was the one who took Arthur home that night since Arthur had gotten a little tipsy.

There was no doubt that the alpha was the closest friend that Arthur had.

Compelled by the desire to see Alfred, Arthur carefully set down the teacup and picked up his phone. He hesitated for a moment before he started typing.

Care to come by for a cuppa? And maybe a bite to eat?

Arthur sent the text to Alfred. Several minutes passed by before Arthur's phone buzzed.

When do you want me to come?

Arthur blushed at the wording. Everything sounded sexual when he was in heat.

3 pm?

Alfred replied right away.

Awesome! I'll see you soon :)

Arthur rolled his eyes but couldn't keep himself from smiling. Alfred was a cute alpha. That much he could admit.

Knowing that an alpha was coming over compelled Arthur to reorganize his nest, again. Once everything felt perfect once more he decided to change into something nicer. He took off his comfortable slacks and put them in his dresser drawer. Arthur hadn't been wearing underwear previously since the compression over his cock during his heat only added to his arousal.

However, not wearing underwear was not an option while he had company over. He opened the top drawer to take out a lacy red cheeky panty just in case something happened with the alpha. After putting it on, he spent a few minutes deciding if he should wear shorts or pants. Deciding it best to wear shorts, Arthur put on a pair of short black shorts. It didn't take him long to choose a shirt since he already had an idea of what he wanted to wear. He wore a faded red shirt that hung off his shoulders and revealed most of his back.

After he got dressed, Arthur went into the kitchen. He wasn't exactly the best cook, so he stuck to simple recipes and hoped he wouldn't mess anything up. Arthur cut thin slices of cucumber and placed them on buttered slices of bread, then he grilled a few tomatoes. The last thing he made was scrambled eggs.

His dining area was right outside the kitchen. There was a relatively long wooden table pushed against the wall with a mismatched chair on either side. Arthur set the table with silverware, teacups, and plates of food. He then made a kettle of tea with loose leaves from one of his tea canisters. This canister was low on leaves, so it was empty after Arthur finished making the tea. He set the empty canister on the kitchen counter and brought the tea kettle to the center of the table.

By the time Arthur was done preparing everything, it was already well into the afternoon. It wasn't too long before Alfred was knocking at the door.

Arthur smiled when he opened the door and saw the alpha.

Alfred was standing there wearing a charcoal black peacoat, dark denim jeans, and black timberland boots. A reusable cloth bag with a giant American flag printed on it was resting on his arm. Arthur had given the bag to Alfred for New Year's and insisted that the alpha's New Year resolution should be to stop using plastic bags. Arthur was happy to see Alfred using the bag.

"Ello," Arthur greeted, blushing a bit because he couldn't keep himself from staring at Alfred's groin.

"Hey, Artie," Alfred greeted back as he pulled the omega into a hug. The second they embraced Alfred could smell that Arthur was in heat and it drove his senses wild. It took all of Alfred's self-control to keep himself from pushing the omega up against the wall and ravishing him.

They lingered in each other's embrace longer than two friends should. Being in the alpha's powerful arms and engulfed in his scent was dizzying and enrapturing. Arthur's hands clutched onto Alfred as if he would faint without his support. At that moment Arthur felt like he could and would say yes to anything the alpha asked him to do.

Feeling Arthur cling onto him made Alfred incredibly tempted to give in to his urges. Alfred initially thought that the omega just invited him over for tea, but it was clear now that it was more than just that. Omegas virtually never invited anyone over during their heat unless they wanted someone as a mate. The idea of having Arthur as a mate excited Alfred more than anything, but the alpha didn't want them to move too fast.

So Alfred cleared his throat in an attempt to snap himself out of the moment.

"Happy Valentine's Day," Alfred said in a low husky voice that made a shiver run down Arthur's spine. Alfred forced himself to step away from the omega and cleared his throat again.

Arthur didn't say anything back right away. He missed the feeling of Alfred's warm strong body against him.

"Right... I forgot it was Valentine's Day," Arthur lied, not wanting to make a big deal out of the holiday. He wasn't a big fan of Valentine's Day.

"Oh," Alfred said just above a whisper, sounding a bit resigned.

Arthur noticed the change in Alfred's voice but decided to ignore it. "Right-o then, the tea is over here," Arthur said.

As they walked, Alfred couldn't help but stare at Arthur's exposed back. There was something really sexy about tops that revealed an omega's delicate back in such a way. It made Alfred want to grab the omega from behind and kiss and lick him until he tasted every inch of Arthur's back.

The alpha exhaled deeply and forced himself to look away. The moment he looked down, Arthur's thighs caught his attention. Alfred instantly had a thought of having those legs wrapped around his face as he had his face buried against Arthur's crotch. Alfred quickly wiped his face with his hand as if it would wipe the thought from his mind. That's when Alfred remembered the bag he had been carrying.

"I brought something to go with the tea," Alfred said as they were walking toward the dining table. "And... I, uh, I have a small Valentine's Day gift for you." He now felt a little silly for getting Arthur a gift since the omega didn't know it was Valentine's Day. Alfred was just thankful that he didn't get him a big gift.

Arthur turned around and saw Alfred taking out two boxes from his reusable bag. One was a box of scones, the other was a box of expensive Belgium chocolates with a fancy gold ribbon tied around it. "Thanks, Al. These are great! And this is such a fancy ribbon. Did it come with the box?"

"No, I bought it," Alfred said nervously. Then he added, "To, um, to keep the box closed. I didn't want anything to fall out on my drive here."

That wasn't the truth, of course, since the box was sealed shut. Alfred bought the ribbon to make the gift look nicer, and Arthur suspected as much. The omega toyed with the ribbon between his finger and thumb for a moment before carefully taking it off.

"Let me put these on a plate," Arthur offered. "Why don't you take a seat and help yourself."

Arthur went into the kitchen and put the ribbon into the empty tea canister on the counter, then placed it inside the top cabinet with the other canisters. He placed the box of chocolates in a different cabinet. Grabbing a plate, he neatly stacked the scones on it before he returned to the dining room.

Alfred was in the middle of taking off his coat when Arthur walked in. The alpha's muscles flexed and bulged as he pulled it off to reveal a tight white shirt that hugged his chest. Arthur couldn't stop himself from staring. It was only when Alfred sat down that Arthur continued to walk toward the table. He took a seat across the alpha and grabbed the kettle.

"Tea?" Arthur asked.

The alpha reached for a cup, then paused. His face lit up with excitement when he realized the teacup was from the set he had given to Arthur, and it was honestly too adorable for Arthur to bare. Arthur always enjoyed when the alpha was happy.

"Yes, please," Alfred replied as he held the cup up. He watched as Arthur poured tea into their cups and couldn't help but gaze at the omega.

He knew Arthur for a long time. They met in an elevator almost a year ago, just a few weeks after his birthday. Alfred's birthday wish was to meet the omega of his dreams, and Arthur seemed to be his wish come true.

Alfred liked him from the start. From the first handshake they shared, Alfred suspected that the omega might have been the one. Part of him felt the feeling was mutual because, although he wasn't entirely sure, he thought the omega had a light scent of arousal emitting from him after they shook hands. Arthur was a beautiful man - handsome yet delicate. As Alfred spent more time with Arthur his feelings for him deepened until one day he realized he was in love.

Truly there couldn't be a better potential mate for him than Arthur. Alfred liked how Arthur was always carrying a new romance book with him. He enjoyed the conversations they had when they met for lunch, it felt like they could talk about anything. He loved everything about Arthur.

Absorbed in his thoughts, Alfred didn't immediately notice when Arthur placed the cup of tea in front of him. Alfred traced his finger over the patterns on the side of the cup.

He adjusted his glasses before asking, "So, you like the teacups? I wasn't sure if it was the right gift or not, but you said you drink tea all the time and -"

"I really like the set, Al," Arthur reassured the alpha with a smile. "Thank you for giving it to me." Arthur's face flushed from his choice of words. It was becoming ridiculous how everything seemed to have a sexual undertone. But he really wouldn't mind having Alfred give it to him.

Alfred noticed how flustered Arthur seemed, but refocused his attention on the food. "This all looks really good."

"Thank you," Arthur said, trying not to smile too hard.

Alfred tried everything on his plate.

"This is all so good," the alpha exclaimed. He finished his sliced bread with cucumber and grabbed another slice.

Arthur took a sip of tea and the cup effectively hid his blush.

Alfred drank some of his tea too. Although he had a lot of tea bags at home, he didn't drink tea often since he preferred coffee. This tea tasted better than any tea he ever had though. "What kind of tea is this?"

"Black, of course, with a spot of milk."

The American finished his tea and took another scone. "I really like your place, Artie. Everything is so nice and organized."

Arthur chuckled. "That's because I'm a cleaning maniac during my heat."

"You're in heat?" Alfred asked as if he didn't already know. Knowing for sure was arousing though, and now Alfred couldn't help but focus on Arthur's scent again.

"Yep," Arthur answered. "Is that a problem?"

"What? No, of course not!" Alfred exclaimed, baffled by the question. He hoped he didn't do anything to ruin any chances he had with the omega.

Nervous, Alfred took in a slow and deep breath to steady himself. All he could smell was Arthur's scent which made it impossible for him to focus. He grabbed his second cup of tea and tried to focus on its smell instead of Arthur's intoxicating scent.

"Can I ask you a question?" Alfred asked after sipping the tea.

Arthur raised an eyebrow at this.

"Do you believe in 'the one'?" Alfred continued before taking another sip of tea.

"I don't believe in soulmates," Arthur replied briskly.

It wasn't the answer Alfred had expected, but he wasn't deterred. This was his chance to tell Arthur how he felt about him.

"Soulmates are kinda different," Alfred stated. "I meant do you think everyone has a special someone out there for them? One person who is the perfect fit for you. Your other half who completes you and who loves you as much as you love them?"

"I don't believe in love," Arthur answered flatly. His answers may have sounded rude, but this wasn't his favorite topic to discuss. He had very strong unpopular opinions about love that always made people upset. The mood would certainly be ruined if they continued talking about this, so Arthur asked, "Can we talk about something else?"

Alfred stared at him incredulously.

He couldn't drop the subject even if he wanted to. The hot burning sting of rejection wouldn't let him. Alfred only brought this topic up so he could ease into telling Arthur that he loved him. To hear that Arthur didn't even believe in love was inconceivable.

"No... there's no way you believe that," Alfred responded.

"Don't tell me what I believe," Arthur snapped defensively. "Love is just a bunch of rubbish. It's not real."

"How can you say that?" Alfred asked, his voice sounding a bit distraught.

"Well, it's the truth now innit? The thing people call love is nothing more than hormones. Omegas go into heat, alphas have the urge to stake their claim, and then people invent reasons to stay together and call it love," Arthur said very matter-of-factly.

Alfred ran his hand over his hair in frustration. "So you don't think it's possible to like anyone?"

"I didn't say that. Being in love with someone isn't the same as liking them," Arthur quickly corrected. "It takes at least a couple of years to really know someone. By then people have fallen in love with the idea of who they think their mate is rather than who they actually are."

"What if they've known each other for years before they mate?" Alfred countered.

Arthur let out a small snort. "Sure, but that never happens. No one waits longer than a few weeks or months to shag. And even if they wait to have sex, snoggin' ain't much better. Either way, they're just being controlled by their hormones."

Alfred crossed his arms over his chest. This conversation was not going the way he thought it would. All the omegas he knew believed in "the one". Many alphas believed it too, but it seemed like something every omega would believe.

"That's not fair," Alfred huffed. "Kissing or having sex doesn't make people incapable of being in love."

"People say they're in love within months of knowing someone. How can this be love when they don't truly know the person?" Arthur asked.

"But -" Alfred started, but Arthur interrupted.

"Instead of getting to know each other, they're busy snoggin' and fuckin', or thinking about snoggin' and fuckin'. People think they're falling in love when in fact their hormones are driving them to stay mated to fulfill some primal sexual needs and desires."

"Okay, now that's definitely not true. If anything it's believed that hormones make people incapable of true monogamy," Alfred retorted. "So staying with one person actually proves that you love that person because you're going against your hormones to stay mated to just one person."

"That doesn't prove anything," Arthur snapped.

This was exactly why Arthur hated talking about love. No one ever respected his perspective enough to accept that this was what he believed. People always tried to force him to change his views on love and relationships, and they were always angry when they failed to do so.

"Being just friends doesn't stop you from having sexual urges," Alfred argued. "You'll still be attracted to each other, so what's the point in staying just friends?"

"Because you'll have a fighting chance to actually get to know each other," Arthur stated. "You get to learn how to be open and honest while you're just friends because you're not worrying whether something will lead to a breakup."

"But you get to know each other over time even if you are already in a relationship," Alfred responded. "Eventually you'll open up to each other."

Arthur exhaled in frustration. "It's like you aren't even listening."

"I am listening," Alfred said in a raised voice. "You think the only way to ever be in love is by being friends first for a couple of years. I'm saying that I don't agree."

"You don't have to agree," Arthur snapped. "It's what I believe, and I happen to be right."

"So none of the billions of people around the world are in love?" Alfred shot back.

Arthur tapped his fingers against the table in frustration. He would usually drop the topic by now, but something inside Arthur wouldn't let him. Why couldn't Alfred just understand him?

"I mean, maybe a few are," Arthur said. "But most people don't want to wait to really know someone, so they focus on tiny superficial details they like and create an image of who they want the person to be. Their so-called love is based on illusions they created. That's why marrying someone out of love isn't very different from arranged marriages."

"Yeah, some people are like that, but not everyone," Alfred retorted.

"Almost everyone is like that," Arthur said hotly.

Alfred just shook his head. "And you've met everyone in the world?"

"Obviously not, but I don't need to. I'm just going by the facts," Arthur said.

"What facts?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe the fact that roughly half of all marriages end in divorce," Arthur responded. "And the fact that the honeymoon phase in any relationship can last as long as two years."

"I've heard of that," Alfred said. He learned it in one of his college classes. The honeymoon phase usually lasted six to twelve months but could be as short as two minutes or as long as two years. "It usually doesn't last longer than a year though."

"But it can," Arthur retorted. "And once the honeymoon phase is over you start to see the person for who they truly are and usually you don't like that person. But by then you're already attached and probably in the habit of saying you love each other so you stay together, but none of it is real."

"There are people married after knowing each other for a few months and they stayed married for the rest of their lives," Alfred said.

"Marriage does not equate love. There are many unhappily married people who are just staying together out of some feeling of obligation," Arthur replied.

Alfred didn't understand how Arthur, the sweet omega who often read romance novels, could be so cynical about love. "Look, I'm just saying that it's too extreme to expect people to wait two years just to kiss each other. It's unrealistic."

"Why?" Arthur asked. "What's the rush? Love is supposed to be forever, right? That's what all the romantics out there believe. So why is it so impossible to wait and give it time?"

"It doesn't take everyone two years to really know a person," Alfred answered. "Sure, maybe three months is too soon, but six months should be enough time. And if it's not, certainly a year would be long enough for most people."

Arthur didn't know why he wanted Alfred to understand him so badly. He had never spoken this long about this topic to anyone before. His hands were almost trembling now. It had been a long time since he felt this vulnerable and exposed around another person before.

What could he possibly say to make Alfred understand how he felt about this?

"I thought I knew exactly who I was when I was eighteen," Arthur softly said, his voice lacking the force it had carried during most of the conversation. "By twenty-one, I was a completely different person. Now I'm twenty-five and I've become a completely different person again. Someone who claimed to love me when I was eighteen wouldn't be in love with me today."

"Or they might love you even more for the person you grew into," Alfred interjected. "I don't think people turn into completely different people. For better or worse, I think people grow and evolve more into who they really are. Sure some things change like your opinions, but the core of who you are is still the same."

Arthur was quiet for a moment as Alfred's words sunk in. "Listen... I'm not saying you're wrong. A lot of what you're saying makes sense, but it doesn't change what I believe. I just think it takes a couple of years to really know someone."

"Well... we've known each other for almost a year now..." Alfred said slowly, his usual confidence lacking from his voice. "Are you saying you don't know me? That I don't know you at all?"

"Not well enough to claim to be in love," Arthur answered, now feeling uncomfortable.

Alfred's face fell. It was clear that the alpha took this conversation hard, but Arthur wasn't the one who brought up the topic. Alfred did. And Alfred was the one who refused to change the subject.

Still, it was difficult to see the alpha so unhappy so Arthur added, "But I know you enough to know you're a good friend."

A good friend... The words pierced through Alfred like a knife. It was bad enough that Arthur didn't return his feelings, but knowing that Arthur wouldn't even believe that Alfred loved him hurt more than anything.

Alfred huffed. "Why am I even here?"

Arthur's thick eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

"For tea..." the Brit answered.

"But you're in heat. Are you saying you really just invited me over for tea?"

The truth was that Arthur really didn't know why he invited Alfred. It was simply nice having the alpha's presence around, even if all they did was drink tea. He also would be fine with Alfred fucking him right now. Although his body preferred the latter, Arthur didn't have a strong preference on what he wanted to do with Alfred.

Arthur finished his tea and gently set the cup down. He looked at Alfred and observed him for a moment before asking,

"Do you want to fuck me?"

Chapter Text

"Yes," Alfred answered. Although the question threw the alpha off, he replied quickly, almost instinctually.

What else was he supposed to say? He loved Arthur, and the fact that the omega was in heat only made Alfred desire him more. But everything the omega just said about love made all of this feel very wrong.

"Okay -" Arthur started, but Alfred cut him off.

"But I don't think we should..." Alfred said reluctantly. Then, while he still had the strength and clarity of mind, Alfred added, "Don't get me wrong — I really want to, like, you have no idea how badly I want to. But you just spent the last half hour telling me that you don't think people can ever truly fall in love unless they're friends for a couple of years first."

"So? You don't agree with me so what does it matter?" Arthur asked.

"It matters because it's what you think and clearly it's important to you," Alfred replied while doing his best to ignore the arousing smell of Arthur's heat. It was so tempting to cave into his urges.

"You say that now but you were just cross with me a moment ago when I said I only invited you here for tea," Arthur said almost bitterly.

"I know, I know. I'm sorry. I was wrong for that," Alfred admitted in a soft voice.

Arthur stared at Alfred, surprised by what the alpha was telling him.

"But you want to shag, correct?" Arthur asked for clarification.

"Yes but I'm in lo-, I mean, um," Alfred fumbled over his words as he tried to find the right thing to say, "I have really strong feelings for you, Artie. I would rather wait if it means we could have a real shot together one day."

Arthur frowned a bit as he looked at the starry-eyed alpha.

"Even if we wait, we may not end up together in the way that you want," Arthur pointed out. "So doesn't it make sense to live in the moment and have sex now?"

"And potentially end a future of possibilities for us? No way," Alfred answered confidently. "Anything can happen, you know? I don't want to ruin the chance of something awesome happening just so we can have sex today."

"What would you consider to be awesome?" Arthur asked.

Alfred was about to mention how he could see them getting married one day and having a family together, but decided not to. Instead, he said, "I don't know exactly but I really think we could be, like, really happy together."

The omega didn't know how to respond. He knew Alfred wanted him. Arthur could smell the arousal in the alpha's scent. Yet, Alfred seemed to be holding out for an imaginary future that would probably never come to pass.

"Are you sure you want to wait? We can shag right now. I don't mind," Arthur offered.

Alfred grabbed Arthur's hand and gently squeezed it. "Please don't tempt me."

Arthur chuckled and squeezed his hand back. "You really wanted to have sex though, didn't you?"

"I still do," Alfred laughed, his face flushed red. "I'm so unbelievably horny right now, you have no idea."

"I have no idea? Are you forgetting that I'm in heat?" Arthur asked with a grin. "Just holding hands is making me hard."

"Oops, sorry," Alfred said with a smirk before he let go of the omega's hand. "I guess it'll be impossible not to tempt each other. Maybe I should head home?"

Arthur was quiet for a moment as he thought of what to say. It made more sense for Alfred to leave. That much was obvious. In fact, Arthur shouldn't have invited him there in the first place. It's unheard of for an alpha to be around an omega during their heat without having sex. It was just something that never happened.

But Alfred was there now because Arthur invited him there for tea despite being in heat. Naturally, he wouldn't want Alfred to leave even if it was an unfair thing to ask of the alpha. So he decided that Alfred should decide for himself.

"Do you want to leave now?" Arthur asked instead of answering the question.

Alfred sighed as he thought over what he should do. He was sure that he was the first alpha in the world to be in this particular predicament. "I don't want to leave but I don't know what we'll do if we're not going to have sex... What do you usually do during your heat?"

Arthur blushed intensely. He usually wouldn't discuss this with anyone but they had already thrown their boundaries out the door. "I... I wank off a lot, pretty much all day every day until I'm not in heat anymore," Arthur answered, his whole face and neck now red from embarrassment.

Alfred swallowed hard. He couldn't stop himself from picturing Arthur touching and rubbing himself, maybe even using a sex toy to fill areas that only an alpha's cock could satisfy. The images flooded his mind and Alfred felt his cock throb from the arousing thoughts. He exhaled deeply and tried his best to clear his mind.

"I guess I'll be getting in the way of that, huh?" Alfred asked, trying his best to sound calm. But his voice was low and ragged and Arthur could smell the desire from the scent the alpha was giving off.

"Haha, yeah... maybe a bit, but it would still be nice if you didn't leave," Arthur replied, trying not to lose himself in Alfred's scent.

"So you would still have to masturbate while I'm here?" Alfred asked, his body now feeling really hot.

The Brit hesitated before admitting, "If I can't overcome the urge to, then yes... I would." He left out the fact that being around Alfred would only make it even more necessary for him to masturbate since they wouldn't be having sex.

"And I would watch?" Alfred asked. He meant it as a joke but it came out more seriously than he intended. Maybe this was because a large part of him wondered if it wouldn't be crossing a line.

Arthur let out a shuddering breath. The thought of Alfred watching him masturbate was more than tempting. He could feel his cock pulsing from excitement. It took every bit of self-control to refrain from touching himself at that very moment.

"Would you want to watch me?" Arthur found himself asking. He didn't mean to say it. The words just spilled out on their own.

"Yes," Alfred breathed out. Then he took in a deep calming breath. This conversation was going down a very dangerous track. "But would that be such a good idea?"

"No, it's a bloody awful idea," Arthur replied, thankful that Alfred asked the question. The omega forced himself to laugh in an attempt to lighten the mood.

"Yeah, probably," Alfred agreed.

It was now abundantly clear that it would be torture for them both if Alfred stayed. But Arthur didn't want Alfred to go, and Alfred wanted Arthur to be happy.

"I'll stay if you still want me to. Maybe we could watch a movie or something?" Alfred offered.

"Sure, I have a few movies... but..." Arthur paused.

"But?" Alfred repeated, urging for Arthur to continue.

The omega suddenly seemed shy. "I don't know if I have any you'll like."

"I'll watch anything," Alfred said in an effort to reassure the omega. Besides, he really didn't care what they watched right now anyway.

"What do you usually like to watch?" Arthur asked as he grabbed the box of movies that was sitting on top of the bookcase between the couch and armchair.

"I like superhero movies, horror movies, scary movies like ghost movies and stuff like that," Alfred listed as he took the box of movies from the omega.

"So you like paranormal activity?" Arthur asked.

Alfred perked up. "Yeah! Do you have that movie?"

"No," Arthur snickered. "I meant the real stuff, as in real spirits. Like the ones that visit people's homes."

Suddenly, Alfred seemed to go pale. "A-Are you saying you have g-ghosts in here?"

"Of course not," Arthur said as he held back a smirk. He found the alpha's behavior amusing. "I performed a cleansing ritual several years ago, so there aren't any ghosts here... anymore."

Alfred wasn't sure if the Brit was joking or not, but he decided to shift his attention to Arthur's rather small movie collection. As he browsed through it, he only saw romance movies, romantic comedies, documentaries, and historical dramas. Arthur had been right, these really weren't the kind of movies Alfred would typically watch.

Of all the movies, the romantic comedies were the most appealing to Alfred. He tried to find a movie that was less romance and more comedy. After he found one that seemed to be the least romantic one of the bunch, he inserted it into the DVD player.

Arthur had misplaced his remote controls and was in no condition to search for them, so Alfred used the buttons on the television and DVD player until the movie started. Then he sat down next to Arthur on the couch. When Alfred shifted to get more comfortable, he accidentally touched Arthur. The omega let out a small whimper that caused Alfred to shiver.

"Sorry," Alfred apologized.

Arthur swallowed hard. "It's okay."

Alfred grabbed the pillow and orange blanket he was resting on and placed them between him and Arthur to prevent any more accidental touching. Arthur didn't say anything but he was grateful for it.

For a while they were able to ignore their sexual frustration by focusing on the movie. There was a moment in the middle of the movie when an omega kissed their omega best friend to practice kissing. Alfred took in a deep breath and tried to fight the urge to turn and kiss Arthur.

Arthur tapped his fingers against the armrest as he counted down the seconds for the scene to end. The scene was over when the alpha stepped in the room, caught them kissing, mistook the situation and stormed out.

There wasn't another kiss in the movie until the end when the omega and the alpha finally got together.

"Maybe we should watch a documentary next," Alfred suggested. "One without any kissing."

Arthur laughed at that. He started to stand but immediately sat back down when he realized that he had an erection. He was so focused on ignoring his arousal that he hadn't realized how hard he had gotten.

"Can you pick the movie?" Arthur asked.

Alfred had seen Arthur stand from the corner of his eye but missed the bulge in his black shorts.

"Sure," Alfred said. He looked through the movies and chose one about food and nutrition. He walked over to the television and kneeled down to open the DVD player. The moment he did so, Arthur got up and hurried to the loo.

All Alfred heard was a rushed "be right back" from the omega before Arthur disappeared.

Arthur closed the door behind him and eagerly started grabbing at his cock. He rubbed it through the thin fabric of his shorts and bit his lip to keep himself from moaning loudly.

As his cock swelled in size, his shorts stretched over his hardening cock. Arthur's legs trembled and knees buckled as he felt himself come close to climaxing. Losing strength, he slid down to the floor while he continued rubbing his erection. Reaching under his shorts for better access, his hand wrapped around his clothed cock and started rubbing more roughly and quickly than before.

"Ahhh!" Arthur softly cried out as he ejaculated into his panties. It felt so good that he wanted to keep rubbing himself until he got hard again. Knowing that Alfred was in the next room only excited him more, and the thought that Alfred might come in and catch him in the middle of masturbating made it too tempting to pass up.

With a heavy sigh, Arthur forced himself to stop. He washed his hands as thoroughly as he could so the scent of his climax wouldn't be so intense on his fingers. The smell of his cum was always so potent when he was in heat. Arthur then washed his face several times with cold water until he didn't feel quite as horny as before. Then Arthur quickly went into his bedroom and changed his underwear but kept the same shorts on since his cum didn't soak through.

"Ready," Arthur said as he walked into the living room.

When Alfred looked at him, Arthur immediately started blushing. He was sure that Alfred knew what he did because the alpha was blushing too and had a look in his eyes that made Arthur want to submit to him.

"S-Sorry for the wait," Arthur murmured.

The smell on the Brit was unmistakable. After he sat down on the couch, Alfred inhaled slowly in an attempt to calm himself down. But Arthur's scent was more intense now that the omega was sitting right next to him, and Alfred wasn't sure if he could control himself.

"N-No problem," Alfred stammered as he forced himself to look at the television instead of the omega.

When the documentary started to play, they both let out the breath they were holding.

Chapter Text

"This is crazy," Alfred exclaimed a few minutes into the fast food documentary. "I didn't know any of this."

"Yep," Arthur said with a grin. He was thankful that Alfred chose this movie to watch. Arthur would have never suggested it since he knew that most people didn't like documentaries, but he always wanted Alfred to watch a documentary like this one. Arthur always thought the American had an atrocious diet. All Alfred ate during their lunches was burgers, pizza, and other junk foods; and he always bought the largest soda size available.

Before meeting the alpha, Arthur didn't know that Americans actually ate a whole pizza or two burgers and fries at one sitting. This was why Arthur used to bring a big enough lunch to share with the American. Although the cafeteria offered healthy food options, Arthur preferred saving money by making his own lunch. Besides, his lunch was more nutritious than the cafeteria's healthiest options.

Unfortunately, Alfred had a bottomless pit for a stomach and was still able to eat his junk food in addition to the food Arthur brought him. So Arthur stopped bringing food for the alpha to eat, but it still bothered him that Alfred was so unhealthy.

A few more minutes passed by and Alfred gasped. "So it's unhealthy to supersize meals? But supersized meals are all I buy!"

Arthur shook his head, holding back a grin that wanted to form on his lips.

Minutes later Alfred exclaimed, "Man, there's no way any of this can be true. Fast food is still food, right? It's, like, totally safe to eat it for every meal, right?!"

Alfred had reason to be concerned. His diet almost completely consisted of fast food. He got donuts for breakfast on his way to work, often bought burgers or pizza for lunch at the cafeteria, and grabbed fast food on the way home after dropping Arthur off. Even when he was trying to lose weight, he still only ate cheap junk.

"No one told you to be such a fat arse," Arthur quipped under his breath, failing miserably to hide his cocky smirk.

"But if fast food is so bad for you, then why are they on every block? And why would they make the food so cheap and delicious?" Alfred asked, overwhelmed by all the information he was learning. "And why would they even have large, extra large, and supersize options if they're so awful?"

Arthur shushed the alpha. "Watch the rest of the documentary and you'll find out why."

Alfred's eyes widened as a thought occurred to him. "Wait... is that why you used to bring me lunch at work?"

"Just watch the movie," Arthur repeated with a blush.

An hour passed by and they were finally near the end of the documentary. Alfred shook his head from what he just watched.

"I'll never buy fast food again," Alfred groaned. "But now I have no idea what to eat."

Arthur laughed. He wanted to pat Alfred on the arm but resisted.

"I cook all the time," Arthur said. "I could cook for you sometimes, or maybe we could cook together?"

Alfred turned to look at the omega. "Seriously?" Alfred asked, feeling a little surprised by the offer. It was such a domestic thing to suggest.

"Yeah. We can even cook something after we finish watching this if you want," Arthur said.

Alfred smiled and nodded. "That would be awesome."

They went back to watching the last few minutes of the documentary, and once it was over the two walked to the kitchen to make dinner.

Before they got started, Arthur took out a small jar of Marmite from a cabinet and handed it to the alpha. When Alfred took the jar, there was a brief second when their fingers touched that made a shiver run through Arthur's body.

"Try that, it's delicious," Arthur said after clearing his throat.

Alfred scrunched his face in disgust after he took off the yellow lid. "Dude! What the heck is this?"

"Read the label," Arthur said. He handed the alpha a spoon and made sure that their fingers didn't touch this time.

Alfred reluctantly took the spoon and dipped it inside the jar. His hairs stood on end when he lifted the spoon full of the dark substance.

"Is this, like, tar or something?" Alfred asked as he carefully inspected it. "There's no freakin' way I'm eating that."

"Don't be such a baby," Arthur teased.

Alfred shook his head and put the jar back in the cabinet so he wouldn't have to look at it anymore.

"Righty-ho then..." Arthur said while holding back a laugh. "Let's get on with dinner."

Since Arthur couldn't focus very well from being in heat, he thought they should fix something quick and simple. He decided that they could make spaghetti since he had an unopened jar of garlic and onion tomato sauce that he wanted to get rid of.

While Arthur went to get the pasta sauce, he asked Alfred to boil a pot of water. After Arthur found the jar, he turned around and saw Alfred standing awkwardly while staring down at the empty pot that was sitting on top of the stove.

"Something wrong?" Arthur asked.

"Um..." Alfred said slowly. "What do I, um... What do I do?"

Arthur was quiet for a moment as he stared at the alpha.

"Are you saying you never boiled water before?" Arthur asked, astonished.

Alfred rubbed the back of his neck and glanced away. "I... um, I never had to."

Arthur shook his head. He picked up the pot and handed it to Alfred. "Fill it with water and put it on the stove."

The alpha followed Arthur's directions, then turned to look at Arthur.

"Turn on the stove," Arthur instructed, now amused by how clueless the alpha was. He never met anyone who was so inept at cooking. It actually made Arthur feel better about his own cooking skills. The omega may not have been a great cook, but at least he was perfectly adequate at it.

After the fire was turned on, Arthur grabbed the salt and a few herbs for them to season the water. Then they waited for it to boil.

"How do you not know how to boil water?" Arthur asked, trying hard not to sound like he was making fun of Alfred.

"I guess my family was kinda traditional," Alfred explained. "Dad was a stay-at-home omega so he took care of us. He did all the chores and cooking while Mom was at work. My younger brother Matthew is an omega, so Dad taught him, like, right away."

"He never taught you?" Arthur asked. Alfred shook his head. Then Arthur asked, "What happened if your dad wasn't around to cook?"

"Matthew made food for me the few times Dad couldn't," Alfred answered.

"And what happened if Matthew and your Dad weren't around?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shrugged. "We had a microwave and there was always leftovers for me to heat up."

Arthur nodded as he listened. It was pretty common for parents to only teach their omegas how to cook, but alphas typically learned how to fix a few basic things like cereal or macaroni and cheese.

"So you never made anything for yourself? Not even a sandwich?" Arthur asked, holding back a laugh. It wasn't exactly funny, but it was a little preposterous that Alfred didn't know how to fix himself anything.

"I eat just fine," Alfred said, trying not to get defensive. It was embarrassing talking about this. He never thought there was anything wrong with the way he ate until now.

"I don't think microwavable meals count as food," Arthur teased, smirking at the alpha.

Alfred rolled his eyes but smiled despite himself. Then he noticed that the water was boiling.

"It's ready, right? What do we do now?" Alfred asked excitedly.

The omega handed Alfred the box of spaghetti.

"So I just... dump it in?" Alfred questioned.

Arthur nodded, so Alfred poured the pasta in the boiling water. Then they waited for the pasta to get ready.

"One of my closest friends really loves pasta," Alfred said as he watched the spaghetti cook. "Like, he's totally obsessed with it. I think he would eat it for every meal if he could."

"Well it is really simple to make," the omega stated. "And it still tastes great even if you mess it up. If it's too hard then you can cook it longer. If it's mushy or tastes too plain then you add cheese or sauce to it. You really can't go wrong."

"Cool," Alfred said. He looked at the spaghetti in the pot and grinned. "I can't believe I'm actually cooking something."

The Brit smiled as he gazed at Alfred. Alfred seemed so proud of himself. Arthur couldn't believe that the first time Alfred cooked anything was with him. It felt special that they were sharing this moment together.

He suddenly had a strong urge to kiss Alfred, but he wasn't sure if it was because of his heat or because of the warm fluttering feeling in his chest. Not that it mattered either way. Although he was overwhelmed from resisting his hormonal urges and could barely remember the conversation they had earlier, he could at least remember that they already decided that they wouldn't be having sex. Arthur supposed that meant they wouldn't be kissing either.

The pasta still needed a few more minutes to cook. Alfred keenly stared at the pot as if it would make the pasta cook faster. During this lull in their conversation, Arthur's thoughts drifted as he stared at the alpha. His thoughts started out innocently enough. He thought about wrapping his arms around the alpha's waist and planting butterfly kisses over Alfred's chest.

Then he imagined that Alfred leaned down to kiss him on the lips. The kiss was soft at first, timid; as if the alpha wasn't sure if Arthur wanted it. But of course Arthur wanted it, and Alfred quickly felt that in the way that Arthur kissed him back. Their kissing became more heated as the alpha began undressing him. Alfred started kissing and sucking at the nape of Arthur's neck as the omega pulled the alpha even closer against him.

"I think it's done," Alfred said, snapping the omega out of his heated thoughts. "How do we know if it's ready?"

Arthur realized that he was getting hard again and quickly turned his back to Alfred. He opened a drawer and grabbed a fork to give to the American.

"Just poke one with this. If it feels hard," Arthur paused abruptly. The last few words he said aroused him even further, so he reworded what he said. "See if it's soft enough."

Alfred checked the pasta. It was a little too soft, but that didn't matter to him and it certainly didn't matter to Arthur.

Without facing Alfred, Arthur held a strainer and instructed the alpha to pour the pot over it. After the water was drained from the pasta, Arthur added it back to the pot and grabbed himself a bowl.

"Wait, what about the sauce?" Alfred asked.

"Oh, I have acid reflux so I can't use too much of it," Arthur said as he filled his bowl with pasta.

"Don't you want more?" Alfred asked.

"It's all right. I have a feeling that you won't need help finishing the rest of it," Arthur said while trying to open the pasta jar. After his second failed attempt, he handed the jar to Alfred who opened it easily. He took the jar back and added about two spoons of the sauce to his bowl. Then he handed it back to Alfred. "Pour the rest in the pot and mix everything together."

Alfred followed Arthur's instructions and smiled from how delicious it smelled.

"Is it done? Can we eat it now?" Alfred asked eagerly.

Arthur smiled and nodded. "Yep. I have cheese in the refrigerator if you want."

"Cheese would be awesome," Alfred said as he grabbed himself a bowl from the cabinet he saw Arthur reach in moments ago. He started eating the pasta on his way to the table. By the time he sat down, he had to go back for a second serving.

Arthur opened the refrigerator and stooped down in front of it. He knew exactly where the cheese was but he didn't take it out right away. His cock was still pretty hard and he needed a moment to focus on calming himself down. He hoped the cold air from the refrigerator would help, so he concentrated on his breathing as he stayed in front of the open refrigerator.

He joined Alfred at the table a couple of minutes later. His cock was still a little hard, but it wasn't too noticeable anymore. He smiled as the alpha eagerly ate the food, gobbling it down. Lack of manners aside, Alfred was very cute.

"I guess you didn't need the cheese after all," Arthur remarked with a smirk.

"I couldn't wait. This tastes way better than the canned spaghetti I have at home," Alfred said after gobbling down another mouthful.

Arthur blushed and gave Alfred a grin. "That's because we made it ourselves."

A few minutes later, Alfred got up to get himself a third serving while Arthur still worked on finishing his first. After Alfred filled his bowl, there was maybe enough pasta left for half a bowl, so Alfred added it to his bowl. He carefully went back to the table and sat down across from Arthur.

When Arthur glanced up, he snorted from the mountain of pasta that was towering over Alfred's bowl.

"You didn't have to eat it all at once," Arthur laughed.

Alfred blushed but didn't say anything since his mouth was filled with food.

Once they were done eating, Alfred grabbed Arthur's empty bowl and set it inside his. "Do you want me to do the dishes?"

"Do you even know how to clean dishes?" Arthur teased.

Alfred hesitated to answer. "It doesn't seem that hard..."

The alpha never needed to wash the dishes when he lived at his parents' house, and there was a dishwasher in all the apartments he ever lived in. Even though he had a dishwasher at home, he never used it himself since he had a housekeeper who came by once a week to do his chores for him. Still, washing dishes didn't seem all that complicated. He was sure he could handle it.

"It's okay, I'll get to it later. Do you want to watch another movie?" Arthur asked with a shy smile.

"Sure," Alfred answered with a smile of his own.

Arthur sat down on the couch and got comfortable. He took the orange blanket and covered himself in an attempt to hide the small bulge in his skimpy black shorts. Then he put a pillow next to him so that there would be a barrier between him and Alfred. The last thing he could handle now was any skin contact with the alpha. After Alfred put in the DVD, he sat down beside Arthur.

They were both fighting to stay awake but kept watching one movie after another. At some point during the last movie, they had fallen asleep on the couch. Alfred woke up and found Arthur resting against him. Arthur's head was leaning against Alfred's shoulder. The omega must have slumped over on him while they were sleeping. Alfred was tempted to watch him sleep, but instead he gently patted Arthur's arm.

"Wake up, Artie," Alfred said softly. "We fell asleep."

Arthur yawned as he opened his eyes. When he realized that he was leaning on Alfred he quickly moved away.

"Sorry about that..." Arthur apologized.

"It's okay," Alfred said with a smile. "It's really late now... I guess I should head out."

Arthur frowned a bit. "Yes, I suppose you should..."

"What's wrong?" Alfred asked.

"Nothing," Arthur answered.

Alfred was now frowning too as he looked at the omega. He reached out to take Arthur's hand but stopped before his fingers touched Arthur.

"Come on, just tell me," Alfred asked. "Please?"

The omega didn't answer right away. He already asked so much of the alpha and he knew what he wanted to ask next would be more than a little unreasonable, which was why Arthur hadn't planned on saying anything at all. But he knew Alfred wouldn't let this go.

"I know it's silly and probably unfair to ask, but I... I want you to stay," Arthur said.

Alfred looked down at his phone to check the time. "It's really late, Artie, and I'm really tired. I don't know how many more movies I can watch."

Arthur let out a small nervous laugh when the alpha misunderstood him. He bit his lip as he debated whether he should ask again.

Inhaling slowly, he nervously asked, "I meant... can you sleep over?"

Alfred just stared at the omega. He had no idea what to say. Being around Arthur's pheromones was arousing to say the least. In the same way that Arthur's heat made the omega horny in an instant, Arthur being in heat made Alfred horny in a similar way. He bit his lip as he looked at Arthur's beautiful green eyes that silently begged for him to stay.

Chapter Text

Alfred wasn't sure how much more they could handle. He had been fighting back an erection all day, and the times he spotted a bulge in the omega's tight black shorts didn't make anything easier. It was already a miracle that they were able to resist having sex so far.

"That might be hard on us, Artie... no pun intended," Alfred answered.

"I know, I know, I'm sorry. It's just — I don't know," Arthur muttered helplessly, sounding a bit defeated. He really didn't know what else to say. Arthur didn't need to have Alfred there. He would be perfectly fine on his own, yet being around Alfred felt wonderful. The alpha's scent and presence made him feel a way he never felt before with anyone else. "You don't have to stay... I was just asking."

Alfred took in a deep breath. He knew this would be an unwise decision, but he couldn't say no to the omega. Besides, Alfred liked being around Arthur and spending all this extra time with him.

"Okay, I'll stay. But maybe I should sleep on the couch?" Alfred reluctantly suggested.

"Sure, no problem," Arthur said with a small smile. He was actually hoping that Alfred would sleep in the nest with him, but he was glad that he didn't vocalize this. It was now clear that Alfred would probably do just about anything for him. The last thing Arthur wanted was to pressure Alfred into something the alpha didn't want to do. "Let me get you a blanket," Arthur said before going to his bedroom.

Since the apartment was old, the walls were poorly insulated, so the radiators did an inadequate job at heating the whole apartment. In fact, Arthur had been chilly all day since he was wearing shorts. The apartment was just warm enough to be comfortable, and this was partly because all the windows were covered by curtains — something that Arthur hated doing since it offered poor reading conditions and he loved natural light. Despite the curtains and the draft stopper that blocked the opening under the front door, the living room was still fairly drafty at night.

Arthur's flat was so small that the only closet he had was in his bedroom. This was where he kept his coats and jackets, towels, sheets, blankets, and storage. There was only one thin blanket left. It was hidden between a stack of towels on the floor of the closet. All the other sheets and blankets were on his bed and Arthur couldn't bring himself to take anything away from his nest.

He looked down at the blanket in his hands and wondered if it would be enough to keep Alfred warm. Arthur again felt tempted to invite Alfred to sleep in his nest but resisted the urge to ask.

"Here you go," Arthur said as he handed Alfred the blanket. "Will this be enough for you?"

"Yeah, thanks," Alfred said as he took the blanket from Arthur. "Would it be okay to hug you goodnight?"

Arthur didn't know the answer so he shrugged and muttered, "I don't know."

Alfred hesitated before he wrapped his arms around the omega. Arthur closed his eyes and buried his face into Alfred's chest so he could inhale the alpha's scent. Then he gripped his fingers onto Alfred's shirt, which prompted Alfred to hold Arthur tighter and nuzzle his nose into Arthur's ruffled blond hair.

When Alfred finally stepped away, Arthur let out a shuddering breath that sounded like a whimper. Alfred's eyes somehow seemed darker as he stared at the omega.

Arthur swallowed hard before saying, "Well... Thanks for staying over."

"Yeah," Alfred said in a slightly husky voice that made Arthur's heart race. "No problem... Anyway, sleep well."

"Thanks. You too... Good night then," Arthur said as he started to walk backward away from the alpha.

"Good night, Artie," Alfred said.

Arthur gave a fleeting smile before he retreated to his bedroom. The moment he got in his room, he closed the door shut and leaned his back against it. His legs still felt weak from being in Alfred's arms.

Inhaling slowly to calm himself down, Arthur then went to his dresser to get changed. He pulled off the skimpy black shorts, which turned out to be a mistake to wear since they didn't end up having sex; then replaced them with a pair of loose checkered pattern pajama pants. Then he took off his top before putting on a white eyelet-embroidered cotton nightdress. The two articles of clothing didn't really compliment each other, but there was no one else in the room to impress.

Then Arthur climbed into his nest and tried to get comfortable in the piles of sheets and blankets. He tossed and turned in the nest, frustrated to have Alfred so far away from him. The Brit then grabbed a nearby pillow and hugged it close against his chest. A sigh escaped his lips as he remembered being against Alfred just moments ago. He wanted to be cuddling with Alfred right now instead of some ruddy pillow.

Of all the ways Arthur expected this night to end, this scenario never crossed his mind. He couldn't believe that Alfred was doing all of this for him. It made Arthur want the alpha even more. Arthur knew Alfred well enough to know that he was a good alpha. Now he suspected that the American would make an excellent mate. The fact that Alfred was willing to stay without kissing or having sex proved that he was a better person than any of the people Arthur slept with in the past.

Whatever feelings Alfred had for Arthur were clearly deep and genuine, which tempted Arthur to go in the living room so he could wake Alfred up and tell him that he really wanted them to be together.

Was that just the heat talking though?

Arthur couldn't be sure. He had never been in love. Arthur hadn't even been in a relationship before — unless having casual sex with the same person for a while counted as a relationship. So how was Arthur supposed to know how he felt?

How did anyone know?

People often said love was something that happened instantly. Like love at first sight or a lightning strike that charged every inch of the person's body and soul. A person is supposed to know almost immediately when they found their other half. Like joining two puzzle pieces that easily fit into each other, true love was something obvious and undeniable.

Yet, people also said love can develop over time, even many years after knowing someone. A person might not know right away because real love takes time to develop and blossom into something beautiful that could last forever. Like a fine wine, true love was something that got deeper and better with time.

The one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that a person will always know when they have fallen in love. It was something a person simply knew once it happened.

At least that's what people said.

But how could all these things be true? How could anyone simply know when they're in love? Falling in love could happen in so many different ways at any lengths of time. It seemed to Arthur that this would only make it even more impossible to determine when a person was actually in love.

At least Arthur wasn't the sort who believed he needed to kiss someone to know if he fancied them. If kissing or having sex was required to determine his feelings for someone, then he couldn't have liked them very much from the start. As much as Arthur hated his heat, it at least taught him how misleading biology could be. Kissing another person may initiate feelings of lust, but interest or love should be present without the necessity of bodily contact.

Besides, Arthur knew more than anyone that being a good kisser or skilled at sex was largely due to techniques and compatible preferences. Virtually anyone could become good at kissing and sex if they are willing to change their approach. But few people are comfortable expressing what they enjoy and even fewer people are okay with being critiqued about something so personal.

Arthur bet that Alfred was a good kisser though. There was no way that a handsome alpha like Alfred, who had such a strong yet delicate grip, could possibly be bad at kissing. It seemed even less likely that Alfred could be bad at sex. On the off chance that Alfred wasn't very good at these things, Arthur was more than willing to practice with the alpha until Alfred became skilled at it.

As Arthur continued to think, he couldn't help but feel that this was all useless. It didn't make sense to remain just friends with Alfred. Although Arthur didn't love the alpha, he certainly fancied him. Alfred was kind, funny, and understanding. Arthur loved Alfred's personality and he was also very attracted to Alfred physically. Wasn't that all that really mattered?

It made more sense to Arthur for them to have sex now instead of waiting to possibly do it later. So what if having sex ruined any chance of him ever falling in love with Alfred? Arthur wasn't sure if being in love would even make much of a difference. After all, a kiss was just a kiss and sex was just sex.

Arthur sat up with the intention to go to Alfred. He was about to leave his nest when he remembered what Alfred said. Maybe the alpha was right, maybe they had a shot at having a future together someday. Maybe they would even get married, go traveling, have children, and live happily ever after.

And maybe aliens were real.

With a frustrated sigh, Arthur lied back down and curled up in his bedsheets. Although Arthur doubted that waiting would lead to anything worthwhile, he was also aware that he wouldn't know unless he gave it more time.

Several hours passed by and Arthur was still awake. He was lying on his back with his hands resting on his stomach.

His fingers tapped against his stomach as he thought about masturbating. He was already hard of course. His cock kept getting hard throughout the day, as it so often did during his heat. Arthur was actually surprised by how long he was able to go without touching himself again, but it was clear now that he wouldn't be able to fall asleep unless he did.

The omega was still tempted to go in the living room and have Alfred fuck him. He wanted to feel Alfred's cock deep inside his needy hole. Just the idea of it made the tip of Arthur's cock wet with precum.

Arthur closed his eyes and slid his hands under his pants. After he pulled his panties off his member, he sucked in his breath as he rubbed small circles over the tip of his erect cock. After rubbing the beads of precum around, Arthur teased his cock by gently squeezing the head a few times before he traced his slick covered fingers down to stroke along the length.

The strokes were slow and tentative at first as he used his other hand to caress the sensitive base of his scrotum. His breath got heavier has his pace gradually quickened. Arthur tried to stay quiet but small moans started to escape as he got close to his climax. He turned his face against a pillow to muffle his moans as he felt himself come.

After climaxing, Arthur didn't stop jerking his cock. He kept rubbing his member with one hand and his balls with the other. It was tempting to get one of his sex toys to stuff inside his hole, but he couldn't stop long enough to get to them.

As he continued rubbing his member, he felt his cock swell as it got hard again. The hand that was fondling his scrotum moved behind him so he could reach his ass. He slid two fingers between his cheeks until they reached his hole that was already dripping wet with slick.

He massaged the rim of his entrance at a pace that matched the speed he was stroking his cock. Eager to be filled, Arthur's hole started tightening at his touch. Arthur would usually slide one finger in before the other, but his ass was so ready for a cock that his two fingers easily went in.

"Ahhh-hh!" Arthur moaned as he turned away from the pillow. Wishing that he was feeling Alfred's cock inside him, Arthur started pumping his fingers harder while stroking his cock. He kept rubbing and fingering himself until his hips started bucking wildly against his hand.

Arthur's mouth hung open as he started panting incessantly. Saliva trickled down the corner of his mouth as he quickly rubbed his cock while he fingered himself with three fingers now. Moaning against a pillow, Arthur humped his cock into his hand while he massaged the inside of his ass with his fingers. His body started to tremble as he neared his climax. Then he cried out in pleasure as he reached his second orgasm.

Exhausted, Arthur continued stroking himself. His movements were languid as he drifted in and out of sleep. Eventually, he fell asleep with his hand still on his cock.

Alfred, however, was awake.

Chapter Text

Alfred had just woken up from a steamy dream about Arthur. In the dream, they were having tea and Arthur said he wanted to wait two years for them to have sex. Then the teacups floated in the air before disappearing and the table spontaneously vanished with them.

Suddenly, dream Alfred found himself sitting on Arthur's dark gray reading chair. The Brit stood naked in front of Alfred with his soft cock in Alfred's face. Dream Arthur said that it was okay to wank off together because it wouldn't technically be shagging. All Alfred wanted to do was kiss and suck the strawberry pink head of Arthur's cock before taking the whole length into his mouth. When Alfred leaned forward, dream Arthur pushed the alpha away. Then Arthur started to rub his cock.

Alfred watched attentively as the omega's cock started to bounce up from being stimulated. Alfred's intense desire to put his mouth or his hands on Arthur's girth grew. He reached out to touch Arthur's cock but dream Arthur was suddenly five feet away. When Alfred's hands returned to his lap, dream Arthur appeared back where he had been standing in front of Alfred. Then dream Alfred unzipped his pants and his cock sprung out. Alfred started beating his meat while he watched Arthur fist his own junk. Arthur started moaning until he ejaculated all over Alfred's face.

That was when Alfred woke up, although he could still hear moans. He was half asleep so he thought he was still dreaming. Then one particularly loud moan brought Alfred out of his daze.

"Was that... Arthur?" Alfred whispered to himself.

He remained quiet but didn't hear anything else. Alfred figured it must have been his imagination because he couldn't stop thinking about his dream. Reaching down, he put his hand on his crotch and felt the enormous bulge of his cock. Of course he was hard. He didn't have to check to be sure. But now that his hand was there, it felt impossible to move it away.

Resisting the temptation to rub one out, Alfred took in a deep breath — but Arthur's scent seemed stronger than ever. If he didn't have an erection already, the omega's wonderfully pungent scent would have given him one.

Suddenly, the idea of Arthur touching himself filled his thoughts. It wasn't a far-fetched idea that Arthur would be fapping in his nest. After all, the omega was in heat. Besides, Alfred was sure that the omega had jerked off in the bathroom sometime before or during their movie marathon.

The alpha let out a frustrated groan. There was no way he could go the entire night like this, not with his cock being as hard as it was.

Then Alfred thought that maybe he could touch himself for a second. Not long enough to come, just a few seconds of pleasure to give himself some relief.

He slipped one hand under his boxers and lightly fisted his thick shaft. After a few seconds, he decided it wouldn't hurt to rub his cock a few seconds longer. Then he tried to stop but found that his hand wouldn't comply. Instead of stopping, he tightened his grip over his cock and started rubbing harder. He lost himself in the waves of pleasure and started stroking himself faster.

Closing his eyes, he imagined that Arthur was sitting on top of him and that instead of thrusting his cock into his hand that he was thrusting his erection inside Arthur's ass. The thought of that made him fuck his hand harder and faster.

Alfred choked on a moan as he ejaculated into his boxers. Then he slowly fell back asleep.

Soon it was morning. Arthur woke up pretty early for a Sunday morning but he couldn't go back to sleep thanks to his heat. He shifted in bed and felt the sheets brush against his morning erection which drew out a tiny aroused gasp from his lips. The omega reached down and was about to touch himself when he recalled the day before and remembered who was still there.

"Alfred," he whispered.

The omega quietly walked into the living room and saw the alpha sleeping on the couch. Alfred was lying on his back and there was a blanket on top of him. Arthur blushed when he noticed the tent over Alfred's groin. He couldn't help but stare at the bulge that was so clearly Alfred's erection.

A thought quickly crossed his mind where he walked over to Alfred, straddled on top of him, and started to grind against the alpha's cock. It was a tantalizing idea, especially since he was sure the alpha would enjoy it. In fact, it was so tempting that Arthur walked several steps toward the alpha — but Arthur managed to fight the impulse to follow through with his heat-driven urge.

Instead, Arthur went back to his bedroom and went to his dresser. He opened the top drawer and moved his panties around until he uncovered a large wooden box. Grabbing the box, he then grabbed some clothes before walking into the loo. After locking the door, he opened the box. Inside was vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, a cock ring that was attached to a sex toy, and two bottles of lubrication.

The bigger bottle of lubricant was normal lube, which Arthur usually used. There was a smaller bottle that caused a heating sensation which helped hasten the start of an erection. Arthur sometimes liked to use that one after he climaxed. He didn't really need any lube at the moment though since he was in heat. His anus would be wet and ready for a cock until his heat was over.

Arthur set the box on the counter of the sink that was next to the shower. Then he picked up a vibrator from the box and tapped his finger against it. He favored vibrators because he could reach an orgasm even if he didn't move it after pushing it inside, though he usually fancied thrusting the vibrator in and out of his hole to reach his climax. As tempting as it was to use it, Arthur was sure the shower wouldn't be enough to drown out the sound of a vibrator.

With a sigh, Arthur placed the vibrator back in the box. The next option was obvious. He picked up a dildo that was shaped as a veiny todger with a pair of natural feeling scrotum attached at the base. It was the only life-like sex toy he had since he didn't fancy realistic looking toys. He only used this particular dildo when he was in heat since it made it easier to fantasize about an alpha shagging him.

Arthur touched the tip of the well-defined head before tracing his finger along one of the veins down the length of the sex toy. Judging from the tent Alfred's cock made with the blanket, Arthur was certain that Alfred's cock was even bigger than the dildo. His heart started to race as he thought about Alfred's cock. Then Arthur's member jumped, reminding him his need for a release.

Stepping into the tub, Arthur turned on the shower and played around with the temperature until it was good enough. Then he rested his forehead against the back shower wall before he slowly pushed the thick dildo inside his slick hole. Every inch made him want to cry out Alfred's name. He bit his lip to keep himself quiet as he shoved the rest of the dildo inside him until he felt the balls that were attached. It only took a few thrusts before Arthur climaxed.

Leaving the dildo deep inside his tunnel, Arthur reached out of the shower to grab the heating lube. After pouring some in his hand, he put the bottle back before rubbing the lube all over his pliable cock. His knob immediately started pulsing in arousal from the heating sensation and became hard after several quick loose-handed strokes. He then reached one hand behind him and started pumping the dildo in and out of his hole.

"Alfreed," Arthur quietly moaned as he pressed the side of his face against the tiles and continued to fuck the dildo in his ass while he used his other hand to rub his shaft. He really wished Alfred was the one who was touching his cock right now while shagging him from behind. This made Arthur push the dildo inside his ass even faster.

"Ahhh!" Arthur quietly cried out as his thighs trembled and knees buckled. His body suddenly stilled as cum spurted out of his cock. Then he sat down and panted as the water lightly battered down on him.

After resting for a few minutes, Arthur used the shower head to clean his dildo and the cum that had gotten on the tiles. Once everything was clean enough, Arthur washed up before he turned off the shower. He reached up to grab his towel only to find that he forgot to take it off the hook.

"Sod," Arthur quietly cursed. He quickly got out of the shower and took the towel from the door before rushing back into the tub. Although he had an absorbent bath mat, it was still wise to towel off in the tub so the mat doesn't become drenched. He briefly turned on the water again to rinse his feet and the tub before he dried himself off.

Once he was dry, he stood on his bath mat as he put on his panties and his knee-length shorts. Then he grabbed the mint green shirt covered in embroidered forest green leaves and pulled it over his head. He struggled a bit to get his arms through the long sleeves but he soon got the shirt on.

Arthur faced the mirror to see how the outfit looked on him but the glass was still foggy from the shower steam. Deciding that he couldn't look all that bad, he placed the towel back on the hook before leaving the loo.

"Good morning," Alfred called out.

Hearing Alfred's voice made Arthur inexplicably excited. The moment he walked into the living room, he smiled when he saw Alfred sitting on the couch with blankets bunched around his waist. Recalling when he caught a glimpse of Alfred's erection earlier, Arthur's cheeks immediately flushed from the memory. When Arthur reached the couch, he leaned over to kiss Alfred but caught himself before he did. At the last second, he lightly touched Alfred's shoulder as he sat down beside him.

Once Arthur's heart stopped pounding, he lightly murmured, "Morning."

The omega's face was still beet red from what he nearly did. Arthur wasn't sure what came over him. He supposed since he briefly let his guard down, the impulsivity that came with his heat took over. After all, it took a great deal of will power for omegas to control their sexual urges during their heat. At times, it was also challenging the day before their heat started and the day after it ended since it could take time for hormones to go back to normal.

Alfred actively avoided looking at the omega. Arthur had gotten so close to him that he really thought the omega was going to kiss him. The moment Alfred felt Arthur's hand on his shoulder, Alfred felt like he was going to melt from how hot he had gotten.

The alpha inhaled slowly to calm himself down but Arthur's heady scent only excited him further.

"How did you sleep?" Alfred asked once he regained his composure.

The omega smiled. "I slept pretty well, actually... better than I usually do during my heat."

It was true. Although he only had a few hours of sleep, Arthur typically got even less sleep during his heat.

"I'm happy to hear it. Did you have any nice dreams?" Alfred asked.

Arthur shrugged. He never had dreams anymore. All he had was nightmares. He used to have vivid fantastical dreams nearly every night. Several months after he turned eighteen, his wonderful dreams were replaced by horrible nightmares. Now he considered it a good night if he didn't have any sort of dream at all.

"...Did you have a nice dream?" Arthur asked awkwardly. He wasn't used to having conversations like this with anyone. It felt strange.

Alfred blushed and nodded. "Yeah, you could say it was a pretty nice dream."

"Well, I'm glad you had a pleasant dream," Arthur said with a small smile.

"Thanks," Alfred said. He was quiet for a moment before reluctantly saying, "So... I have to go to work tomorrow..."

"Right..." Arthur muttered with a pout. He almost forgot that it was only alphas in relationships who were allowed to take off work to be with their omega.

This used to only apply to married alphas back when the consensus was that omegas were completely helpless without an alpha to care for them during their heat. Now nearly all jobs extended this "heat-assist leave" benefit to any alpha in a serious relationship with an omega because, as it turned out, alphas' productivity levels plummeted whenever they were at work while their omega was at home alone during their heat.

Proof of being in a relationship was almost never requested anymore. It used to be considered easy to show proof because alphas used to engage in an instinctual ritual largely regarded as "marking".

Marking was the practice of biting an omega during their heat so hard that it would leave a scar in the shape of the alpha's teeth. The mark was usually made on the omega's neck so the world could see that the omega was bonded. More progressive couples chose to leave the mark on the shoulder or some other part of the body that could easily be hidden but conveniently shown when necessary.

Initially, since a bond mark was almost exclusively made during a knot, only married couples did this because of stigmas unwedded omegas would face for mating during their heat. Although having sex before marriage became socially accepted over time, knotting before marriage was simply unheard of.

Eventually, omegas started getting marked before marriage. First, it was omegas who were engaged but soon it was any omega in a serious relationship. Because omegas essentially never spent their heat around other people, more omegas stopped waiting for marriage to get marked. As more and more unwedded omegas got marked, stigmas associated with this started to disappear. Soon, the mark itself became akin to the bond of marriage.

Because marking was such a widespread practice, employers started asking to see an omega's mark as proof of an alpha's relationship status in order to give the alpha the benefit of monthly heat-assist leave. The alpha would have to bring their omega to work and show their mark. This was also done during interviews since it became a standard practice for employers to ask about the relationship status of alphas. Some employers went as far as requesting the alpha to bite the omega just hard enough to leave a faint mark so the two marks could be compared, but this form of verification was rarely ever done.

Decades later when digital cameras became a commonplace item, alphas started to bring in a picture of themselves next to their marked omega as proof. It was around this time when protests for omegas to have equality in the workforce and in higher education finally led to anti-discrimination laws.

Once the laws went into effect, the practice of marking omegas virtually fell by the wayside. Although the act of marking was often pleasurable for all parties involved, people started seeing bond marks as a way of turning an omega into an alpha's property. Many also argued that it was unfair that alphas were never marked, although some alphas countered that an omega's heat marked alphas by scent — which was why, according to those alphas, the ritual of marking was ever created in the first place.

Despite anti-discrimination laws, most employers continued requesting evidence of an alpha's status, which still largely necessitated seeing an omega's mark. People petitioned against this practice, pointing out that there was no way to prove the mark came from a specific alpha without comparing the mark to dental records. Requesting dental records, however, would be an invasion of privacy; and requiring an omega to be bitten as validation was now considered incontrovertibly unethical.

After protests were done against businesses that only offered heat-assist leave to alphas based on their omegas being marked, one of the anti-discrimination laws became amended to specifically make it illegal for employers to ask for an alpha's relationship status as an effort to prevent discrimination.

Eventually, this led to the current honor system that most workplaces used. All that was needed was an alpha's statement that he or she was in a serious relationship with an omega. There was no law, however, that required employers to pay alphas during this leave — only omegas were legally required to be fully paid during their heat/nest leave.

Some jobs offered fully paid heat-assist leave while others didn't pay the alpha at all. Most jobs, like Alfred's job, offered partial pay for heat-assist leave but full pay to higher management.

As Alfred looked at Arthur, he strongly considered taking off work. Since his employer only needed was his word that he was in a serious relationship with an omega, this meant that Alfred could easily take off work to be with Arthur if he lied to his boss and said he was in a relationship with an omega.

Although Alfred would receive reduced pay for staying with Arthur, it was something he could afford to do, which made the idea even more tempting.

"Oh well," Arthur said, drawing Alfred from this thoughts. "I suppose I couldn't expect you to stay for my whole heat."

Then Arthur forced out a laugh that made Alfred want to hug and comfort the omega.

"You know, if you wanted me to stay, I could —" Alfred suddenly paused. As much as he would like to deny it, there was no way he could take the heat-assist leave without changing the nature of their friendship. With a deep breath, he said, "I could, um, I could sleep here for the rest of your heat. I could just come here after work."

"That would be wicked," Arthur responded excitedly, thankful that Alfred made the offer. He didn't want Alfred to leave but asking the alpha to stay for an entire week felt like asking way too much, although Arthur suspected that there wouldn't be as much sexual tension since he could wank while Alfred was at work. "Are you sure you don't mind?"

"I'm sure," Alfred said with a wide grin, delightfully surprised by how happy Arthur became.

"Thank you so much, Al," Arthur said with a radiant smile.

"No problem," Alfred sad at the same time that his stomach growled. He placed his hand over his abdomen and blushed from embarrassment. "I guess it's time for breakfast. Do you want me to order anything? I can pick up some pancakes or donuts or something. Anything you want."

"I have food here," Arthur said, not wanting the alpha to waste any money.

"I don't mind," Alfred insisted. "Besides, I have to leave anyway to pick up some clothes for the week."

"That's a fair point," Arthur noted. "Well, I just have a cuppa when I first wake up but I'll probably be hungry once you get back. I suppose I wouldn't mind a bagel or two for breakfast."

"Alright," Alfred said while he got up from the couch. He started putting on his shoes as he said, "I'll be back soon!"

"What's the hurry? You don't have to leave right now. At least have a cuppa before you go," Arthur said because, frankly, he didn't want Alfred to leave at all.

"It's okay, I'm pretty hungry so I should leave now," Alfred said as he grabbed his coat from the couch and started to put it on.

The real reason for Alfred's rush was that he felt uncomfortable in his boxers and really needed to get changed.

"All right, I'll see you later," Arthur said as he went to hug Alfred.

Alfred stumbled away and stuttered, "I-I don't think t-that's a good idea."

"Oh... riiiighty-oh then... Well... off you go," Arthur said a little gloomily despite the raised inflection of his voice and the forced smile on his face.

Smelling the anxiety picking up in Arthur's scent, Alfred gave the omega a reassuring grin.

"Don't worry, I'll be back before you know it," Alfred said before he walked out the door.

Chapter Text

The second Alfred got in his car, he grabbed his steering wheel and slowly inhaled before excitedly whispering to himself, "Oh. My. God."

When Arthur invited him over for tea yesterday, Alfred never could have imagined any of this happening. Since it was Valentine's Day, Alfred thought it was a sign that Arthur might have been interested in him and he hoped that he would get some kind of hint to prove this. Finding out that Arthur was in heat was bigger than any kind of hint Alfred could have asked for.

He smiled to himself as he started the car. Just as he was about to drive out of the space, he realized that his housekeeper might be at his apartment. Normally, his housekeeper came by every Friday while he was at work, but she was still nesting two days ago and couldn't come on Saturday since she was celebrating Valentine's Day with her wife. She agreed to come by sometime today, so she might have been at the apartment already.

Alfred sent his housekeeper a text and waited to hear back from her. There was a bag of chips in the passenger seat of the car, so he grabbed it and placed it in-between his legs before opening it. While he waited, he slowly ate the chips one handful at a time. It was a few minutes later when he got a response. He let out a sigh of relief after reading the message. It turned out that she wasn't going to get to the apartment until later in the afternoon. After texting a quick thanks, Alfred drove straight home.

Typically, it took Alfred over a half hour to get to his apartment after taking Arthur home from work, but that was during weekday rush hour. There was usually a lot of traffic and Alfred almost always got stuck behind a bus or two. Since it was Sunday morning, there were barely any vehicles on the road so it only took Alfred about eight minutes to get home.

His apartment was on a short leveled road that was a quick few minutes walk from the main street. His building was the last apartment on the long block, right where the street reached a dead end. Although many people on the block had a car, it was never difficult to find parking. There were plenty of spaces and people were also allowed to park along the curb.

Alfred took the bag of chips with him as he left his car. His unit, like all the units in the apartments, was very spacious. The living room alone was nearly the size of Arthur's entire flat, although this was more of a testament to how tiny the omega's home was.

As Alfred walked inside, he held the big bag of chips over his mouth so he could eat the last remaining crumbs. Once the bag was empty, he went to the left side of the living room to drop the empty bag on a desk that was covered in plastic bags and other trash.

Then Alfred went to the other side of the room to the coffee table. He picked up one of the many open soda cans that were on the table and shook it. When it appeared to have nothing inside, he shook another one and another until he found a can that wasn't empty. After he chugged the remaining soda down, he dropped the can on the table so he could take off his coat. Before leaving the living room, he flung his coat on the couch that was already buried under jackets and work shirts.

He walked past his kitchen and spare room to get to his bedroom in the back. His bedroom was spacious enough for two and a half king size beds, but Alfred only had the one. The floor could hardly be seen through the scattered clothes and plastic bags. Alfred walked over the dirty clothes and plopped down on his bed. He scooted further on the mattress until his shoes were no longer hanging over the edge, then he unzipped his pants and pulled out his cock from his boxers.

As he rubbed his junk, he thought about how he jerked off at Arthur's apartment. He still couldn't believe he did that. Although he felt bad about masturbating on Arthur's couch, just remembering the smell of Arthur's arousal made Alfred hard.

After he rubbed one out, he rested for a minute or so before he got off the bed. He kicked off his shoes so he could slide off his pants and boxers. Just as he was about to drop his clothes on the ground, he noticed that his boxers had dry and wet semen on it. Remembering that his housekeeper would come by later to do the chores, he went to his washer and threw his pants and soiled boxers inside. Then he went to the bathroom to take a shower.

Several minutes later, Alfred got out of the shower and dried off as he stood on the drying mat. By the time he was done drying himself, the mat was soaked and made sploshing noises as he turned around to hang the towel on the shower rail. He went into his bedroom to get dressed before he found his backpack and filled it with sleepwear and clothes for work. When he was done packing his clothes, he also packed toiletries and anything else he thought he might need for the week.

"That should be enough," Alfred thought aloud before zipping up his backpack. Then he slung it over his shoulders and left his apartment.

There was a bakery cafe nearby that specialized in breakfast foods that he regularly went to before work. Although they made pancakes, eggs, and a wide range of other breakfast items; Alfred often went there for their donuts and pastries. When Alfred walked inside, he was surprised to see how empty the bakery was. He figured that it had something to do with it being Sunday morning as well as being the day after Valentine's Day.

At the register was an extremely short and petite cashier with the name "Lukas" printed on his name-tag. On the corner of the name-tag was a tiny sticker of a troll. Since Lukas was so little, the register blocked his name-tag as well as most of his body. All Alfred ever noticed was the man's light blond hair and the cross barrette the omega always wore. Alfred dismissed it as a Christian cross although it was actually a Nordic Cross.

"Hello. It's nice seeing you today," Lukas greeted happily.

"Hey, dude, I'll have, uhhh —" Alfred paused as he stared at the food behind Lukas. "Hm... I don't know. Give me a sec."

Alfred sent a text to Arthur to ask which flavors the omega wanted. After standing there for a minute or so, he said, "Uhh, I'll be back."

He walked over to one of the small tables and sat down. After waiting for a few minutes, Alfred gave Arthur a call. When Arthur didn't answer the phone, Alfred called again but Arthur still didn't pick up. He sent another text and waited a few more minutes before deciding to pick the flavors himself.

Alfred walked back to the cashier and mumbled a forced greeting as he stared at the food in the back. He was going to get two dozen plain bagels but felt that was too boring. Alfred was also sure that Arthur would have thought two dozen was too many. While Alfred looked at the bins of baked goods, he missed Lukas' blush and every other sign of interest that the omega frequently gave whenever he was there.

What Alfred did notice was the other employee who usually got his food. The tall alpha had blue eyes and always wore a tiny black hat, which Alfred only noticed because he used to fear that it would fall in one of the food bins. The man also always wore red with a black apron covering his front.

The tall alpha actually looked a lot like Alfred except for his lack of glasses, his dark eyebrows, and his short, wild blond hair. For the months that Alfred came here to get breakfast, he noticed how this alpha often looked at the short omega because the alpha would block Alfred's view of the food to sneak glances at the cashier.

"Oh, I know! I'll have, like, a half dozen plain bagels, um... one blueberry, one chocolate chip — actually, make it two. One cinnamon raisin, or maybe I should get two... Yeah, I'll get two of those and two — no, three french toast, one asiago, one sesame, and one garlic."

"This is more than you usually order," Lukas cautiously noted as he punched in the order.

"Yeah," Alfred said with a huge grin. "This time I'm not just ordering for myself."

"I thought so..." Lukas whispered.

"Wait," Alfred exclaimed. "That's probably more than a dozen, huh?"

Lukas nodded.

"Shoot. Alright, maybe two of each flavor then?" Alfred requested as he glanced down at his phone. He still didn't have any messages from Arthur. "And one cream cheese in every flavor."

"So sixteen bagels and four containers of cream cheeses?" Lukas asked before making any changes to the order.

"Is that really how many bagels it would be? Sorry, I guess I'm kinda out of it. Okay... I guess just take out some plain ones from the original order until it's down to a dozen," Alfred said. He really wished he thought to ask Arthur which flavors he wanted before he left.

"Sure... is that all?" Lukas asked.

Alfred leaned forward to get a better look at the donuts behind Lukas, making Lukas take a step away. The American was tempted to get a case for himself but he decided against it. After watching the food documentary with Arthur, he was sure the Brit wouldn't approve of him eating a bunch of donuts.

"Uhh... just one donut," Alfred said with a sigh.

"The double stuffed chocolate donut covered in powdered sugar and rainbow sprinkles?" Lukas guessed since it was part of Alfred's standard order.

"Yeeeea—no, I shouldn't. I'll, um, I'll get the healthiest one?... Although I guess donuts aren't ever healthy, right? Maybe just a glazed," Alfred said. "Oh, and I'll have a large cup of coffee."

"Alright," Lukas muttered while entering everything in the register.

After Alfred paid, he pursed his lips as he watched the tall alpha behind the cashier.

"I don't know if I should tell you this..." Alfred said while still looking at the tall alpha who was getting out a large paper bag to hold the food.

"You can tell me anything," Lukas said with a shy smile.

Alfred leaned in close to the cashier. When he didn't pick up any alpha scents on Lukas, he quietly said, "I think that dude behind you has a major crush on you."

"W-What?" Lukas gulped, quickly turning around to look at the tall alpha who was using tongs to place the bagels in the paper bag.

"Yeah, he's like always checking you out, brah. You should totally hit that if he's your type," Alfred whispered. Before moving away, he said, "But it's totally none of my business. I just thought you should know. It's still Valentine's Day weekend after all, so who knows what could happen."

"O-Oh, um... t-thanks," Lukas stammered.

When the tall alpha towered behind Lukas', the tiny omega's cheeks immediately flushed. Then the tall alpha placed one hand on Lukas' shoulder as he leaned forward to give Alfred the large paper bag, which only made Lukas blush even harder.

"Thanks, dude," Alfred said as he took the bag from the other alpha. He looked at them both for a second before saying, "You two would totally make a cute couple."

Alfred winked at Lukas before leaving the two blushing men behind.

When Alfred got back to Arthur's apartment, the space he previously parked it was already taken. It took a few minutes before Alfred could find another space relatively nearby. After he parked, he rushed inside Arthur's building with the large brown bag in one hand and his cup of coffee in the other.

"You took your bloody time," Arthur said as he opened the door. He meant it as a joke but the words came out harsh despite the smile on his face. Although Alfred wasn't gone for much longer than an hour, it felt like forever to Arthur. While Alfred was away, Arthur had lied on the couch to breathe in the alpha's scent to help calm him down. For whatever reason, Arthur started fearing that Alfred wasn't going to come back.

Without thinking, Arthur reached his arms out and was about to hug Alfred but abruptly stopped himself when he remembered how Alfred didn't want to be hugged earlier. Instead, Arthur grabbed the large paper bag and pulled it away from the alpha before going inside.

"Sorry I took so long," Alfred said as Arthur walked away from him. He followed the omega to the small dining table and smiled when he saw that there were already plates and utensils on it. The side closest to the kitchen had a cup of tea by the plate. Alfred set his cup of coffee by the other plate before he sat down.

"This bag is pretty heavy... How many bagels did you buy?" Arthur asked as he set the bag at the center of the table. He frowned when it took up almost half the space of the table but supposed it was fine to leave the bag there.

"A dozen," Alfred answered.

"Thanks for getting breakfast. I'm actually really hungry now," Arthur said with a small chuckle as he wrapped his arms around himself.

"You're gonna love these. I usually get breakfast from here on my way to work," Alfred said as he sat down.

"Right... Um... Feel free to wash your hands in the kitchen sink or in the loo," Arthur said when Alfred started to reach for the paper bag.

"Oh yeah," Alfred said as he stood up and walked by Arthur to go in the kitchen.

Arthur frowned a bit when Alfred still didn't hug him. With a sigh, he said, "There's hand soap by the dish soap."

"Thanks, I see it," Alfred said over the running water.

While still standing, Arthur unfolded the top of the bag and looked inside. He was surprised to see how many flavors there were. He picked up what he thought was a whole wheat bagel and looked it over. When Alfred sat back down in his seat after neglecting to hug or touch Arthur in any sort of way, the omega let out a heavy sigh before asking, "What flavor is this one?"

"French toast," Alfred answered.

Arthur raised his bushy eyebrows and uttered, "Really? I never had a french toast bagel... but I rather fancy french toast."

"You should try it, it's really good," Alfred said with a grin.

"I think I will," Arthur said as he placed the bagel on his plate. "So... you fancy bagels for breakfast?"

"No," Alfred laughed nervously before saying, "I usually get a few donuts."

"A few?" Arthur asked.

"Like three or four," Alfred said, answering the unasked question.

Arthur shook his head at what Alfred said. When the Brit glanced inside the bag again, he spotted the lone glazed donut inside its own bag of parchment. He picked it up and asked, "Is this the sort you typically buy?"

"Not really... I usually get the stuffed ones with chocolate and sprinkles," Alfred admitted as he took the donut from Arthur. He frowned a bit from how boring it looked in comparison to what he was used to getting.

"Of course you do," Arthur chuckled as he took out all the containers of cream cheese and placed them on the table. Then he sat down across Alfred before asking, "So what else do you do in the morning? Do you have any sort of routines?"

"Not really... unless you count pressing the snooze button a few times before getting ready for work a routine," Alfred said with a grin.

Arthur chuckled. "No, I don't think that counts."

"Do you have any routines?" Alfred asked.

"Yes," Arthur replied as he spread some plain cream cheese over one half of his bagel.

When Arthur didn't elaborate, Alfred pointed his half-eaten donut toward the omega. "Which is—?"

"Nothing exciting. It's hardly worth mentioning," Arthur said before taking a bite out of the bagel slice. He raised his eyebrows as he slowly savored the taste of the french toast bagel. He was delightfully surprised by how much he enjoyed it.

"Come on, tell me," Alfred practically pleaded.

"It really isn't very interesting and there's no short way of explaining it all," Arthur said before taking another bite.

"I still wanna know," Alfred insisted after finishing his donut.

Arthur let out a long sigh. "Well, if you really must know..."

"I do," Alfred urged while he pulled out a chocolate chip bagel from the bag.

"Okay, okay, fine," Arthur said. "Well, I normally do chores on the weekend, except when I'm in heat of course. My heat obviously throws off my routine. Sometimes I can finish my chores in one day but often it requires the whole weekend to complete them. On Sunday I try to cook enough food to last the entire week but I never manage to make enough for both lunch and dinner. Hm... In the evenings I generally watch the news or cooking channels while I eat dinner. As for the mornings, I always have a nice cuppa before breakfast and I set aside time to read and shower."

While Arthur spoke, Alfred noticed how the omega kept darting his eyes away and nervously biting his lip. Each time Arthur brushed the strands of hair from his forehead, Alfred felt the urge to kiss him. When a faint blush formed on Arthur's cheeks, Alfred's heart started racing. He had never seen this side of Arthur before. The omega seemed so flustered and nervous, but Alfred thought this only made Arthur even more beautiful and fascinating. It was so adorable how bashful Arthur was getting.

"That's cool," Alfred said after finishing the last bite of his chocolate chip bagel.

"Sure... So, what sort of things do you fancy doing when you're not at work?" Arthur asked as he watched Alfred pile strawberry cream cheese on a new bagel.

"So much!" Alfred exclaimed with such enthusiasm that Arthur couldn't help but smile. "I love being outside. I go on walks and jogs all the time. Sometimes I drive to parks to hike for a few hours but I don't do that as often as I'd like. Um, hmm... what else? Oh yeah! I try to go water rafting at least once every summer."

Arthur smiled as he watched Alfred speak. The American really was a poster boy of the perfect alpha. Arthur could have guessed that Alfred was an active person just by how toned his body was. The omega wouldn't admit this out loud but he spent a lot of time looking at Alfred's muscular arms and chest.

"That all sounds pretty intense. Spending time out in nature sounds really nice," Arthur said with a warm smile.

"Yeah, it's pretty epic," Alfred mumbled absent-mindedly as he stared at Arthur's mouth. When Arthur's tongue darted over his lips, Alfred felt a shiver run down his spine. Suddenly, Arthur smiled at him and Alfred's heart melted. He smiled back at the Brit and asked, "What?"

Arthur had caught the alpha staring at his lips and could smell the spike of arousal in the alpha's scent. He inadvertently licked his lips when he imagined Alfred kissing him, which seemed to make Alfred's scent even stronger. Feeling a little overwhelmed by emotions and urges, Arthur smiled as he tried to collect himself.

Ignoring Alfred's question for a second, Arthur finished eating the first half of his french toast bagel before saying, "This bagel is delicious! Thanks again for getting breakfast."

"Oh, sure, no problem..." Alfred said. He wanted to ask why Arthur didn't respond to his texts or calls but decided against it. He didn't want to say or do anything to ruin Arthur's mood. "I wasn't sure which flavors you liked so I sorta got them all."

"I see that. They taste so fresh and fluffy," Arthur exclaimed with so much enthusiasm that Alfred started to chuckle.

"I'm really glad you like it," Alfred said with a smile of his own.

Chapter Text

Alfred had finished eating the chocolate chip bagel as well as two other bagels and was currently slopping cream cheese on his fourth. Arthur, on the other hand, just finished his first bagel and was digging in the giant paper bag for another.

Arthur intended on getting a plain one but picked up an asiago cheese bagel instead. Deciding to be a little adventurous, he kept the asiago and elected to try one of the flavored cream cheeses. He grabbed the garden vegetable spread and lightly coated it over one bagel slice, then he took a bite and slightly frowned from the extra burst of the unfamiliar flavors.

"So what do you like to do when you're not in heat?" Alfred asked after gulping down half of his coffee.

"Wait — you haven't told me what you fancy doing when you're not outside exploring the world," Arthur remarked with a playful smirk.

"Oh, well, um... I watch a lot of TV actually," Alfred laughed nervously. "I guess that's the typical American pastime now. I binge watch TV series and have a lot of movie marathons."

"And what do you do when you're not watching telly?" Arthur asked after chewing another bite.

"I have a lot of video games that I play. I'm not much of a reader but I really like RPG games with a cool story, especially the apocalyptic ones where I can be the hero and save the world," Alfred answered. "Okay, it's your turn now."

"I suppose it is..." Arthur quietly responded. He hesitated before saying, "Well... I really fancy reading."

"That explains all the books! And here I thought they were there just for decoration," Alfred said in jest.

"Ha ha," Arthur said sarcastically before eating another bite from his bagel. The garden vegetable spread was quickly growing on him. "I really do love to read though. I used to read for hours every day in high school. I still try to read any chance I get."

"Man, I totally knew it! I always thought you were a huge bookworm. It really shows," Alfred teased with a grin.

"Really?" Arthur quietly uttered as he placed his bagel down on the plate. He frowned slightly as he asked, "Is that a bad thing?" He rarely cared what other people thought of him but reading was an important part of his life and the thought of Alfred rejecting that side of him made Arthur's stomach clench.

"What? No, not at all. I think it's great! I never read much, even back in high school. I spent a lot of time playing sports and stuff," Alfred explained.

Arthur smirked. "Why does that not surprise me?"

Alfred just laughed in response.

Since the living room and the kitchen were practically in the same room, Alfred was able to see the bookcases from the table. He looked at the books for a second before asking, "Did you read all those books already?"

"Most of them, yeah," Arthur answered. He already finished eating the bagel slice with cream cheese but still had the other half left to eat. Deciding not to eat the rest, he grabbed a tea towel from the table to clean his hands before he gingerly asked, "Do you want to, um... that is, would it interest you to..." Arthur let out a gasp of air before quickly collecting himself. "Would you fancy seeing what I'm currently reading?"

Alfred was in the middle of drinking his coffee so all he could manage was an enthusiastic nod.

Arthur left to retrieve the book from his armchair and quickly returned to Alfred's side to show him the cover.

"Looks hot," Alfred remarked with a smirk.

"Because it is hot," Arthur said as he held the book to his chest. "It's about an omega who's a porn star."

Alfred raised his eyebrow in surprise. "Wow. That sounds really interesting! It's a romance story, right?" Alfred asked. Arthur nodded in response. "Do you usually read romance books?"

The alpha suspected that he already knew the answer to his question. Although Arthur didn't read when they ate lunch together, there were times when he was late to lunch that he caught the omega reading a book with an erotic cover. He always thought that the omega favored romance books but he wasn't so sure anymore after seeing the vast accumulation of books that Arthur owned.

"Kinda, yeah," Arthur answered, choosing not to tell Alfred about his large collection of books that focused on magic, witchcraft, spirits, fairies, and the like. Besides, it wasn't a lie anyway. Arthur did have a lot of romance books and he did fancy reading them for leisure.

"Who knew you were such a romantic," Alfred teased with a wink.

Arthur took a step toward Alfred and used the book to lightly hit Alfred's arm.

"Hey!" Alfred shouted as he grabbed his arm where the omega hit him and pretended to be hurt.

Arthur laughed as he set the book down on the seat of his chair.

"I love embroidery," Arthur said as he stood behind his chair and held the top rail for support. "I think it's beautiful. I always wanted to pick it up but it's too time-consuming to learn..."

"You should definitely give it a try one day," Alfred said.

"Maybe... but I'd rather spend that time reading to be perfectly frank. I also don't want to waste money on the supplies if it turns out that it's not my cup of tea," Arthur said as he looked down at Alfred's plate. There was only a small bit of bagel left. "All right, are you done eating?"

"Yep," Alfred said before putting the rest of the bagel in his mouth.

"Brilliant. Mind helping me clean up?" Arthur asked as he picked up his uneaten bagel slice and folded it inside a napkin before putting it inside the paper bag.

"Sure, no problem," Alfred answered as he stood up. While Arthur grabbed the paper bag and walked in the kitchen, Alfred stacked the utensils on the plates before putting them in the sink.

After Arthur put the bagels in the refrigerator, he went to the sink to wash the dishes. While he did this, Alfred leaned against the wall and watched him. He just couldn't stop looking at the omega. Arthur was the most amazing omega Alfred had ever met. The Brit was beautiful, smart, funny, kind, and had the sexiest accent ever.

As difficult as it was to be around the omega during his heat, Alfred was happy to be spending so much time with him. They never spent time together like this before. He felt like they were learning so much about each other.

When Arthur finished putting the dishes on the drying rack, he turned around and was surprised to see Alfred behind him. Alfred had been so quiet that Arthur thought the alpha had left the kitchen.

"Were you watching me?" Arthur asked with flushed cheeks.

"Uhhh — do you wanna watch a movie or something?" Alfred suggested. "I have a lot of cool movies at home if you wanna have a movie marathon. I can quickly grab a few and be back in no time."

"Hmm..." Arthur murmured as he decided whether he should allow the alpha to dodge his question. "Actually... my telly is supposed to be able to do the whole video streaming app thing, I just don't know how to set it up."

"Oh, I can totally hook it up for you," Alfred said as he locked his fingers together and stretched out his arms.

Alfred was really good at setting up devices so it only took him a few minutes to set up a video streaming service called "Betaflix". Unlike most other streaming services, this one was free to use. The only downside was that there were ads at the start and end of all the videos. They spent the whole day watching movies until Arthur started to fall asleep.

"Oh, sorry," Arthur muttered when he realized he had fallen asleep on Alfred's shoulder. "What time is it?"

"Almost midnight," Alfred yawned. "We should probably go to bed. I mean, not together, of course! I mean, um —"

"I know what you meant," Arthur chuckled as he stood up. "Well, good night."

"Good night," Alfred said with a smile. "Sweet dreams."

Arthur's face fell a bit for a brief moment before he managed to make himself smile. "Yeah... same to you."

After Alfred got comfortable on the couch, Arthur turned off the telly and the lights before going to his bedroom. The moment Arthur got in his nest, his body relaxed as he exhaled. Being around Alfred was delightful. Alfred's scent made Arthur feel calm and confident in a way that no other alpha's scent ever accomplished. It also made Arthur feel randier than usual.

Even though Arthur's urges were easier to control since he was able to toss off that morning, he was relieved to be away from Alfred. In the privacy of his nest Arthur didn't have to feel uncomfortable about being horny or having an erection. He was also free to touch himself in any way that he fancied.

Arthur took off his clothes and immediately reached down and wrapped his fingers around his shaft. He rubbed it with one hand and his balls with the other until his todger stood erect. Moving his hand in quick and rough strokes, he kept rubbing until he reached his climax and passed out.

When Arthur woke up the next morning he turned over and grabbed his phone to check the time. He smiled when he saw Alfred's text on his screen, which simply said:

Have fun today ;)

Arthur blushed from the text although that was exactly what he intended to do.

Somehow, they were able to survive the rest of the week. Since Arthur spent the entire day wanking, he felt more at ease by the time Alfred arrived in the evening. Although their scents made it clear that they still craved each other, their sexual desires were easier to keep under control now that they masturbated to sate it.

Alfred woke up early each morning and quietly got ready for work. After work was over he would go home for a quick fap and shower before returning to Arthur's apartment. Arthur was always excited to greet Alfred at the door. Then the omega would teach Alfred how to make simple meals, such as scrambled and fried eggs, oatmeal, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — except they used pumpkin seed butter instead of peanut butter and the jelly they used was actually jam.

One evening, Arthur explained how toast could be made with a toaster, toaster oven, and on a pan so the alpha could make it at home since Alfred didn't know if he had a toaster or toaster oven.

Arthur was still in heat on Saturday. They spent the day watching one of Alfred's favorite TV shows that involved zombies, although they weren't actually called "zombies" in the show. Whatever they were called, Arthur didn't care for undead things unless they were ghosts or spirits. But Alfred was so excited for Arthur to watch the show that Arthur really couldn't resist making the alpha happy. Besides, Arthur really fancied how enthusiastically Alfred explained his favorite scenes.

By the end of the day they managed to finish the first season of the show.

"How long does your heat usually last?" Alfred asked as they sat down at the table for dinner.

"A whole bloody week," Arthur answered while rubbing his hand. Many omegas' heat only lasted two days — Arthur liked to refer to those omegas as "lucky gits". Most omegas nested for three to four days, although five days was very common too. Arthur's heat varied between six to eight days, which was still within a normal range even though it was less common.

"Wow. My brother only nests for like two days," Alfred said.

"Lucky git," Arthur said automatically. His eyes widened when he realized he said this aloud. "Sorry!"

Alfred laughed. "It's okay."

"No, it's not. I'm really sorry for saying that," Arthur insisted while he rubbed the palm of his hand. "Being in heat just... I say and do things without thinking sometimes. It's sort of difficult to control myself."

"I know, it's no big deal. I bet all omegas are like that during their heat," Alfred said.

"I suppose," Arthur mumbled.

"You know... it's been weird having lunch without you," Alfred said. He always ate lunch alone while Arthur was on his nest leave but it was different this month since he was sleeping over Arthur's apartment. Being around Arthur while he was in heat made it difficult for Alfred to leave for work in the morning. It felt wrong and sitting at lunch alone made Alfred think about how Arthur was home alone. He knew Arthur wasn't in danger but his alpha instincts insisted that the omega was vulnerable and that he needed to be there to protect him.

"Well, I'll be back at lunch on Monday," Arthur said with a smile as he started rubbing his wrist.

"Are you okay? You've been rubbing your hands a lot," Alfred noted.

"Oh... It's just wanker's cramp," Arthur said while blushing deeply.

"Wanker's cramp? Oh! Ohhh," Alfred said the moment he understood what Arthur was saying.

"Right," Arthur said with a shy yet amused smile. "Speaking of which... I'm exhausted... I think I'll go to bed a bit early tonight."

"Cool, no problem," Alfred said. As Arthur stood up and started to reach for his plate, Alfred held his hand over the table. "Don't worry about it. I'll put everything away."

"Are you sure?" Arthur asked.

"I've seen you do it enough times. I'm sure I won't have any problems," Alfred said a grin.

"Thanks, Al," Arthur said softly as he placed his hand on Alfred's shoulder and gently squeezed it. "Good night."

"Good night, Artie," Alfred said while he placed his hand over Arthur's hand and looked up at the omega. "Sleep well."

"You too," Arthur said before he reluctantly pulled his hand away. "I'll see you in the morning."

Chapter Text

Arthur's heat finally ended sometime Saturday night, which allowed him to finally get a full night of sleep. When he woke up Sunday morning, he felt like his usual self. His body wasn't oversensitive anymore and he could think clearly again. He could even roll around in bed without getting horny, which was honestly one of the best feelings after undergoing a week of relentless arousal.

Arthur lied on his back and hugged a pillow to his naked body as he stared up at the ceiling. He couldn't help but smile as he thought about everything that happened over the last several days. It all felt so unreal, like some sort of romantic fairy tale of domestic bliss. Of course, it would have been even better if Alfred agreed to have sex. Arthur would have really loved to have felt Alfred's knot, yet, part of him was relieved that Alfred wanted to wait and remain just friends.

With a sigh, Arthur sat up and crawled over the slick covered sheets until he climbed out of his nest. He went to his dresser and put on panties, loose burgundy pants, and a casual white blouse; then he quietly went to the loo. After he finished brushing his teeth, he stared at the mirror as he straightened his bushy eyebrows and attempted to tame his wild hair. After a few futile attempts, he supposed that his hair looked as good as it ever did and decided to leave it alone.

Then Arthur quietly walked into the living room where he found Alfred asleep on the couch. It wasn't a particularly comfortable couch, at least not to sleep on for a full week. Arthur felt a little bad for making Alfred sleep there but there was no way he could have invited the alpha to his nest without them shagging. At the very least, Alfred would have had to watch him wank off, although that was an idea that Arthur secretly fancied.

Arthur watched the alpha sleep for a moment longer before stepping closer to get a better look. Once he was sure that the alpha didn't have any morning wood, Arthur crawled over the American and wedged himself between Alfred and the couch.

"Good morning," Alfred said drowsily, feeling both amused and embarrassed by the way Arthur joined him on the couch. It was an unexpectedly great way to be woken up. "You're in a good mood."

"My heat is over," Arthur replied happily, cuddling close to the alpha.

"That's great," Alfred said while fighting back a yawn.

"Yeah..." Arthur was quiet for a few seconds before adding, "Thank you for staying and keeping me company... I know it was difficult but I'm really glad you understood how important this was to me."

Alfred wanted to kiss Arthur but resisted the strong desire. Instead of kissing the omega, Alfred rested his chin on the top of Arthur's head and wrapped an arm around him.

"I don't have any plans today," Alfred said as he timidly placed his hand on Arthur's mussed hair and started to lightly stroke it. "We can do whatever you want."

Arthur grumbled and nuzzled his face against Alfred's chest.

"Can we do nothing?" Arthur asked. Being in heat was taxing so he usually tried to relax once it ended.

Alfred barely heard the muffled words, so he muttered a "hmm" so Arthur could repeat himself.

The omega moved so he could look up at Alfred and elaborate. "I'm really exhausted from the heat. It would be nice to just lie around and do nothing."

"Ohhh," Alfred said. "Cool. That sounds good to me."

"Are you sure you won't be bored?" Arthur asked while he traced small circles over Alfred's chest with his finger.

Alfred chuckled. "I'm sure."

They lied on the couch together for a while with the telly off. Every so often they would talk about whatever came to mind. It was nothing significant. In fact, it was the sort of small talk that Arthur usually detested, except he found that he really fancied hearing Alfred's voice regardless of what Alfred was saying.

At some point, they both fell asleep. Arthur woke up from the impromptu nap a few hours later to a delightfully musky scent that vaguely reminded him of a woodsy forest. He slowly fluttered his eyes opened and blushed when he realized that his face was nuzzled against Alfred's neck. His nose had been pressed right against the alpha's scent gland, which meant that the wonderful aroma he had smelled came from Alfred.

Arthur leaned up a bit to see if Alfred was asleep. The American's head was turned to the side and his glasses were hanging off his nose. There was a bit of drool at the corner of his lip that threatened to drip on the couch. It wasn't a flattering sight, yet Arthur was compelled to keep watching as the alpha slept.

After a few minutes, Alfred started to shift in his sleep which made Arthur sit up. When Alfred didn't open his eyes, Arthur poked the American.

"Alfred?" Arthur said as he poked Alfred again. It appeared that Alfred wasn't awake after all, so Arthur decided to let the alpha rest.

Since it was already well into the afternoon, Arthur decided to start cooking dinner. Usually, whatever Arthur made for dinner on Sunday would be his lunch for the next several days, but that was easier to manage since he was only cooking for himself. Alfred seemed to have a bottomless pit as a stomach so Arthur wasn't sure how much to cook to sate Alfred's appetite while still having enough for leftovers.

Arthur placed two large pots of water on the stove and turned on the fire. As he waited for them to boil, he took out a pack of frozen chicken breast and put it in the microwave to defrost. Then he took out some carrots, potatoes, and zucchini from the refrigerator and started to peel them.

The water was boiling by the time the chicken was done microwaving. It was times like this when Arthur wished his temperamental oven actually worked, or that the landlord would pay to get it fixed or replaced.

"Hey," Alfred sleepily said as he walked in the kitchen.

"Hiya," Arthur greeted as he poured rice into one of the pots. "Did you have a nice nap?"

"Yeah..." Alfred yawned. "Was I asleep for long?"

"Don't worry about it," Arthur said. "I'm making us dinner. You can help chop the vegetables if you want."

"Sure," Alfred said as he started to grab a knife.

"After you wash your hands, of course. Don't forget to use soap," Arthur said as he added the chicken breast to the second pot of boiling water. "Sod!"

"What's wrong?" Alfred asked while he was washing his hands.

"I forgot the seasoning," Arthur said as he quickly added salt, pepper, and herbs to both pots. "Oh I hope I haven't ruined it..."

"I'm sure it'll taste great," Alfred said as he started chopping the vegetables. "I'm pretty easy to please."

"Uh huh," Arthur muttered. He was inclined to doubt the alpha but he knew that Alfred ate just about anything, except marmite apparently. Arthur suddenly felt better knowing that Alfred would eat the food no matter how it turned out.

When Alfred was done chopping the vegetables, Arthur added them to one of the pots. The instant everything was done, Arthur strained the water from the chicken and vegetables before fixing their plates. Then he took the food to the small table that was just outside the kitchen.

"This looks really good," Alfred exclaimed as he sat down. "It smells great too."

"Sure it does," Arthur said sarcastically despite the blush that was forming on his cheeks.

"You know what? I think I was talking about sports before I fell asleep," Alfred said after taking a bite of the food.

"Oh, right," Arthur muttered. He couldn't believe he actually listened to Alfred talk about sports.

"Yeah. I was telling you about how I used to play football in college. Do you like football?" Alfred asked.

Arthur shrugged. "I never played but I don't think I would fancy it very much."

"You never played before? Not even in elementary or middle school?" Alfred asked, somewhat surprised.

"No. I never fancied sports, especially contact sports like American football," Arthur stated. "Fortunately, the schools I went to allowed us to choose our own sport to play."

Alfred raised his eyebrow at this. "And what sport did you choose?"

Arthur smirked at the alpha. "Walking."

Alfred shook his head but couldn't help but laugh. "Well, maybe we can go walking together sometime, like at a park or something."

"That could be nice," Arthur said with a shy smile.

Once they were done eating, Arthur put the rest of the food away before joining Alfred on the couch. He curled up next to the alpha and rested his head on Alfred's shoulder. Alfred then wrapped his arm around the Brit as he asked, "Do you want to watch something on Betaflix?"

"I don't know... We watched a lot of telly this week," Arthur said. He was quiet for a moment before asking, "Would it bother you if I read?"

"Oh, I guess not. It's getting late anyway. I can just head home," Alfred responded as he started to stand up.

Arthur reached out and grabbed the alpha's hand and gently tugged him back toward the couch. Alfred sat down beside Arthur and wrapped an arm around the Brit's waist.

"You don't have to leave," Arthur said. "I can read later."

"Are you sure?" Alfred asked.

Arthur nodded. He decided that it would be okay to spend another day watching telly. Alfred turned on Betaflix and they hung out on the couch for a few hours while they watched another one of Alfred's favorite shows.

Sometime in the evening, Alfred got hungry again so Arthur fixed him a plate of the food they cooked earlier. While Alfred ate, Arthur went to his bedroom to take apart his nest and fix his room the way it was before his heat began. Once he was done, he fixed himself a plate while Alfred got seconds.

"Will you be sleeping over?" Arthur asked after they finished eating. It only made sense for Alfred to stay the night since they'll both be going to the same building for work in the morning.

"Oh, um..." Alfred didn't know what to say. He didn't want to leave but he also missed sleeping in a bed. "I don't know. There's totally nothing wrong with your couch but, uh, I think I need a little break from it."

Arthur let out a quiet laugh. "Right..."

"Yeah..." Alfred mumbled.

Arthur tapped his fingers against his lap as he debated whether he should ask Alfred what he wanted to ask. He hesitated for a moment before saying, "You can sleep in my room if you want."

"Like, in the same bed as you?" Alfred asked.

"Yes... unless that would be a problem?" Arthur asked in return.

The alpha simply stared at Arthur, unsure of what to say. Although Arthur wasn't in heat anymore, Alfred wasn't too sure if it would be a good idea for them to sleep in the same bed. Even if Arthur didn't love Alfred back, it was clear that they were both attracted to each other.

But Arthur's couch wasn't as comfortable as the ones Alfred had at home. Sleeping on it for a whole week made his whole body a little sore. It would be nice to sleep on an actual bed. More specifically, it would be nice to sleep next to Arthur.

"Sure, I mean if you don't mind," Alfred said.

"I wouldn't have offered if I minded," Arthur crisply stated as he stood up from the table. He grabbed the plates and quickly put them in the sink before. "Well, I'm going to get ready for bed. I'll be in the loo."

"Okay..." Alfred replied. Once Arthur was gone, Alfred went to his backpack and pulled out the clothes he wore to work on Friday.

It probably would have been wiser if he used something bigger than a backpack to carry his clothes in, but using the backpack hadn't caused him any inconveniences before now. Each time he went home after work he grabbed a new outfit for the following day before going back to Arthur's apartment, and that had worked out pretty well.

Besides, even if he packed all the clothes he needed for a week, he still had to go home to masturbate before being around Arthur again. At least Alfred had extra pairs of boxers with him to wear. After he jacked off on Arthur's couch the first night he slept over, he made sure to carry extras just in case, although he was determined to never have another moment of weakness like that again.

When Alfred heard Arthur leave the bathroom, he placed his clothes on the couch armrest before picking up his backpack. Then he walked past the kitchen to the bathroom and saw Arthur drying his hair with a towel. The omega was wearing a long white nightdress with an embroidered collar and picot lace trims that gave him an ethereal look, like an angel from heaven.

"Wow," Alfred whispered.

Arthur furrowed his eyebrows. "What?"

Alfred swallowed hard when he realized that he said that out loud. "You, uh, you took a shower?" Alfred asked as he tried not to think about how beautiful the omega was.

"Well, I didn't have a chance to take one this morning," Arthur said while rubbing the towel over his hair.

"I meant that was a pretty fast shower," Alfred remarked. It couldn't have been more than three or four minutes.

"All the better for the environment," Arthur said before asking, "How long do your showers typically last?"

Alfred laughed nervously. His showers usually ranged from thirty to sixty minutes but there was no way he was going to tell Arthur that.

"I don't keep count," Alfred answered. "Is it cool if I take a shower?"

"Of course. I'll be washing the dishes," Arthur said.

It took about ten minutes for Arthur to finish washing the dishes. Alfred was still in the shower though so Arthur started to tidy up the living room to pass the time. He found Alfred's clothes on the couch and smoothed them out before neatly folding them. Arthur meant to set the clothes down on the armrest but he couldn't bring himself to let go of them. His heart started to race as he stared down at the alpha's clothes.

Giving into temptation, Arthur brought the clothes to his face and deeply inhaled Alfred's scent. He meant to put the clothes down after one more whiff but he couldn't stop himself. The alpha's wonderfully woodsy smell made Arthur's head spin in a delightful sort of way while also managing to make him feel steady and secure.

The shower suddenly stopped and Arthur was so startled that he nearly dropped Alfred's clothes. He took one last sniff before placing the folded clothes back on the armrest, then he picked up the blankets on the couch scurried into his bedroom.

Arthur's eyes widened when he realized that the room smelled like his heat. He was so used to the smell that he hadn't noticed it earlier when he was stuffing his slick soiled sheets into the hamper before cramming the basket inside his closet.

There was nothing that could be done about the smell, however, unless he could go back in time to early that morning so he could open the windows before he had joined Alfred on the couch. Even then, an omega's scent during their heat was very potent; their slick especially so. His room would probably smell the same even if he had the forethought to open the windows.

Arthur turned around when he heard the loo door open and blushed when his eyes connected with Alfred's deep blue eyes.

"I see you fancy long showers," Arthur remarked.

"Haha, yeah," Alfred said even though it was one of the shortest showers he ever had. He walked into the bedroom and blushed when the lingering scent of the omega's heat filled his senses. Of course, he was familiar with the scent now, but it was far more intense inside Arthur's bedroom.

Noticing the arousal in Alfred's scent, Arthur quickly said, "Let's go to bed, shall we?"

"Oh yeah..." Alfred stammered.

Arthur was the first to get in bed. After Alfred lied down, Arthur realized he preferred sleeping on the open end of the bed instead of against the wall. Arthur waited a few minutes to see if it was important enough to ask Alfred to move. When he was sure that he needed to switch places with the alpha, he finally turned to face Alfred.

"Can we switch?" Arthur asked.

"Sure, no problem," Alfred said so calmly that Arthur didn't know why he had been so anxious about it.

The omega got up and crawled over Alfred and there was a brief moment when he was straddled over Alfred's lap. He froze when that happened, too tempted to not only lean down and kiss Alfred on the lips but to also sit on Alfred's crotch and grind against him. Realizing that he had been straddled over Alfred for a little too long, he forced himself to keep moving until he was on the other end of the bed.

Alfred held his breath during the whole thing. When he felt Arthur straddle over him, his hands twitched with the urge to grab Arthur's hips and bring the omega down on him. His heart was thumping hard against his chest but he forced himself to breathe as normally as he could once he couldn't hold his breath any longer.

"Well," Alfred choked out. He swallowed hard before saying, "Good night, Artie."

"Good night, Al," Arthur said back as he pulled the blankets over them.

It took a while but eventually they both fell asleep. Sometime during the middle of the night, Alfred woke up in a stupor. Everything was dark except a dim light that shone through the curtains. He was about to drift back to sleep when he slightly repositioned his leg and felt it rub up against something. It was then that he remembered that he was in bed with Arthur and suddenly he felt wide awake.

Arthur, who Alfred had somehow mistaken as a large pillow, was pressed against Alfred with his arm around Alfred's lower back and his legs tangled with Alfred's legs. Without his glasses, Alfred could just barely make out the omega's face. Still, he found himself staring at the Englishman. Arthur was beautiful, even with his thick eyebrows and shaggy hair that were even messier than usual. Alfred found it difficult to look away from Arthur.

Realizing that the smell of Arthur's heat was giving him an erection, he forced himself to stop gazing at the omega and tried to back away. He managed to pull his leg from between Arthur's legs but Arthur responded by cuddling closer and wedging both of his legs between Alfred's legs and around Alfred's clothed cock.

They were so close that it felt like there weren't any clothes between them at all. Alfred let out a half whimper and half moan from feeling Arthur's cock against his stomach and from having his own cock between the omega's thighs.

Ignoring how much he loved how everything felt, Alfred started to scoot backward. Since his erection was sandwiched between Arthur's thighs and pressed up against Arthur's sack, moving made his cock rub against the omega's thighs and prostate. The movement caused Arthur to moan in his sleep which made Alfred freeze in place. Then Arthur moved even closer until he was sitting over Alfred's entire length.

Alfred knew he needed to get away but the urge to hump his shaft between the omega's perfect thighs was so strong that all he could manage to do was keep himself still. Then Arthur slightly squeezed his thighs together and softly started to grind against Alfred's cock.

"Arthur?" Alfred breathed out.

Arthur continued to drag his scrotum back and forth over Alfred's erection. Alfred could feel his own cock throb from the increased contact which seemed to spur Arthur to grind against him even harder. As Arthur did this, his hard cock rubbed against Alfred's stomach.

"Ah—Arthur," Alfred moaned out. He swallowed in a feeble attempt to get the arousal out of his voice. "Are you awake?"

There was no response.

Alfred inhaled deeply before he tried to make himself move away. He only scooted back an inch or so when Arthur moaned in his sleep again, causing Alfred to stop moving.

It was incredibly difficult to get away because it all felt so incredibly good. He was also afraid that moving too quickly would cause him to orgasm and he simply could not let that happen; not like this.

Alfred took in a deep breath before forcing himself to move backward; slowly pulling his cock from between Arthur's legs until the head of his cock got nuzzled between Arthur's balls which caused them both to moan. As Arthur humped against Alfred's sensitive cock head, Alfred could feel himself starting to leak.

Digging his nails into his palms, Alfred sucked in a breath before forcing himself back until he hit the wall. Then he turned around and stared at the wall as he resisted the urge to give himself a release.

Chapter Text

Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

Arthur let out an annoyed sigh as he smacked his hand over his phone. He lowered his bushy eyebrows as he squinted at the bright screen. After several long, agonizing seconds, he finally managed to turn off his alarm.

"Sorry," Arthur said with a smile on his face. The alpha's scent had that effect on him. Biting back his smile, he turned to look at Alfred.

His heart sunk when he saw an empty space where the alpha was supposed to be sleeping. He reached his hand on the side of the bed where he last saw Alfred and frowned a bit when he felt how cold it was.

With a quick stretch, Arthur sat up and suddenly felt the slick that was between his ass cheeks. His eyes widened from shock from the silky wet feeling that quickly started to travel down his thighs.

"What the bloody hell?" Arthur exclaimed to himself as he stood up. He reached under his nightdress to pull off his panties and inspect them. They were indeed drenched in slick.

Blushing hard, Arthur opened his closet and tossed the soiled garment in the laundry bin before grabbing another pair of panties as well as some clothes to wear to work.

He went to the loo first so he could quickly clean the slick from his hole, between his cheeks, and off his thighs. Then he got dressed.

When he walked into the living room he found Alfred asleep on the couch. Arthur's body suddenly felt cold as he felt the bitter sting of rejection fill him. He wasn't sure why Alfred would choose to sleep on an uncomfortable couch instead of beside him. Arthur wondered what happened that chased the alpha away.

Arthur briefly considered that he may have been a snorer, except his mums would have been the first to know that and would have certainly informed him of that. Besides, he could recall his mums telling him that he was a quiet sleeper, so snoring couldn't have been the issue.

The bedroom was warmer and the bed itself was more comfortable than the couch, which meant there was only one possible explanation left... Alfred must have rejected his scent. Although Alfred seemed unbothered by Arthur's scent before, Arthur was aware that his scent was more potent in his bedroom. Perhaps Alfred didn't fancy it.

This thought deeply bothered Arthur. He hugged himself as he fought the tears that started to burn his eyes. Closing his eyes, Arthur took in a long breath before marching over to Alfred to shake the alpha awake.

"Wake up," Arthur said, internally cringing from how bitter his voice sounded.

"Good morning," Alfred greeted, sounding entirely too cheerful for a Monday morning. The alpha looked so handsome and so happy that Arthur's stomach clenched as he wondered again why Alfred left in the middle of the night to sleep on the couch.

"Sleep well, eh?" Arthur remarked, bitterness still hanging off his tone.

Alfred finally opened his eyes and they were so blue and so beautiful that Arthur's heart started to flutter.

"Haha yeah," Alfred said as he sat up. The clothes that Arthur folded the day before fell on the ground.

"I see you fancy the couch after all," Arthur said while looking at the alpha's work clothes.

Alfred blushed as he remembered the events that caused him to leave Arthur's bed in the first place. After Arthur had enclosed Alfred's cock between his legs, the omega humped Alfred's cock until the alpha was close to reaching an orgasm. Alfred still sported an erection for several minutes after he got away from the Brit. It seemed unlikely that it would go away while he was breathing in the lingering smell of Arthur's heat, so he decided to sleep on the couch.

There was no way that Alfred could tell Arthur this, of course.

Not being a particularly skilled liar, Alfred said the best thing he could come up with.

"I had to use the bathroom," Alfred mumbled.

"So you went to the couch instead of coming back to bed?" Arthur questioned with furrowed eyebrows.

"Yeah... I, uh, I didn't want to wake you," Alfred said with a nervous laugh.

"Right," Arthur mumbled as he turned around to walk to the loo.

Before Arthur could leave, Alfred awkwardly asked, "How did you sleep?"

The alpha couldn't resist asking. Arthur was insatiable and the Brit had been asleep! Alfred figured it had to be some kind of sex dream and hoped that Arthur might say that the dream included both of them.

But Arthur didn't answer. The Englishman gave more thought over the question than it probably deserved. He supposed he did sleep well, which was rare for him. In fact, he slept better than usual. He didn't have any nightmares and he felt unusually safe, warm, and protected. He supposed that was due to Alfred's scent that remained in his bedroom since the alpha elected not to sleep beside him. Arthur frowned a bit as he felt the rejection wash over him.

"Arthur?" Alfred said when Arthur didn't answer his question.

"What?" Arthur snapped, surprising them both.

"I guess you didn't sleep so well," Alfred said with a concerned frown.

"I slept fine," Arthur muttered, trying not to sound moody but failing miserably.

"Oh, I just thought that, um, never mind. I'm glad you slept well," Alfred said with a smile that was too sunny for how early it was. Arthur squinted his eyes at the alpha as if Alfred's smile really was blinding him.

Without saying a word, Arthur went to the loo so he could brush his teeth which he forgot to do earlier in his haste. When he got out, he was startled to find Alfred standing just outside the door. He widened his eyes as if to silently shout out, "What do you want?"

As if Alfred could read Arthur's eyes, the alpha said, "I just needed to use the bathroom..."

Arthur felt bad for overreacting but remained silent as he walked past Alfred to go in the kitchen to resume his morning routine. After he placed a pot of water on the stove to boil. Remembering that Alfred favored coffee over tea, Arthur started digging around his cabinets to look for some coffee and his old coffee maker. After searching for a few minutes he found the coffee maker but no coffee. He groaned as he put the coffee maker back in the cabinet.

It was at that moment that he could practically feel Alfred walking behind him. The closeness that he had enjoyed over the last week was starting to irritate him.

"I don't have coffee so you'll just have to have something else," Arthur said. Although he sounded angry at Alfred, he was actually frustrated at himself for not having coffee to offer.

"It's okay, tea is fine," Alfred said as he leaned back against the counter.

"What sort do you fancy?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shrugged. "Anything is fine."

"I have black tea, green tea, peppermint, several sorts of herbal teas... I have a lot of teas to choose from, so what do you fancy?" Arthur asked.

"I'm cool with whatever," Alfred said.

"Will you just pick one?" Arthur asked in a raised voice. There were just so many choices to pick from and Arthur couldn't handle being responsible for picking a flavor for the alpha.

Alfred's eyes widened in surprise. He didn't understand why Arthur was taking this so seriously. "Oh, um... the one with the most caffeine, I guess."

"Black tea it is then," Arthur said as he prepared their cups.

Arthur was about to go to his armchair to read when Alfred asked, "What are you reading?"

"The news," Arthur said crisply. Usually, Arthur would stay in the kitchen as his tea brewed but he couldn't stand to be around Alfred an instant longer. He grabbed his cup with the infuser still inside and left the kitchen.

"So, what do you wanna eat for breakfast?" Alfred asked as he followed Arthur into the living room. As Alfred sat down on the couch, he missed Arthur's shrug. When Arthur sat down on the armchair instead of beside Alfred, the alpha frowned a bit from disappointment and confusion.

"So what do you wanna eat?" Alfred asked.

Arthur just shrugged again as he sipped his tea.

"I was thinking we could make oatmeal and toast," Alfred said. When Arthur didn't say anything, Alfred asked, "Would that be cool with you?"

Arthur narrowed his eyes as he stared down at his book. "In a few minutes, sure."

Alfred started to tap his foot to fill the silence between them. He didn't understand why Arthur was acting so weirdly. They usually talked in the morning. Alfred wasn't sure what made this morning different than the rest.

Feeling awkward, Alfred asked, "Can I turn on the TV?"

"Must you?" Arthur asked curtly. When Arthur heard how upset he sounded, he added, "I don't watch the telly in the morning... I prefer quiet mornings."

"Oh..." Alfred said. As much TV as they watched together, he didn't notice that they hadn't watched TV during any of the mornings. He guessed he didn't notice because they were so busy talking. Since Arthur wasn't in the mood to talk at the moment, he wondered if he did something to upset the omega. "It'll be nice to see you at lunch again."

"Mhmm," Arthur mumbled without looking at the alpha.

Feeling even more uncomfortable as the seconds ticked on, Alfred started talking to fill the silence.

"You know, I think I'm going to take a shower," Arthur said, interrupting Alfred mid-sentence. He was so distracted by Alfred that he kept rereading the same sentences, so he barely read anything at all.

Before Alfred could reply, Arthur stood up and practically threw the book on the armchair to let out a little steam.

While Arthur was in the shower, Alfred patiently waited for the Brit to be done. Since he wasn't supposed to watch TV, there wasn't much else for Alfred to do. He also felt awkward because he noticed a troubling change in Arthur's scent and he didn't know what to do to make the omega feel better.

After Arthur got out of the loo, he was quiet as he made toast and eggs for them. Alfred tried to help as he did every day during Arthur's heat but getting close to Arthur made the omega's body tense up. When Alfred finally acknowledged that he was the one making Arthur uncomfortable, he left the kitchen and sat at the small table.

Arthur placed a plate of food in front of Alfred without saying a word. Then he went back to the kitchen for his own plate before he sat down across from Alfred. The American wanted to say something, anything, but he had the feeling that anything he said might further anger the omega. So they ate in silence until they were done.

Arthur got up and cleared the table before walking to the living room to grab his work purse. Then he stood by the door, then turned to give Alfred an impatient look. When Arthur crossed his arms over his chest, Alfred picked up the annoyance in the omega's scent.

"Oh yeah, I should probably get dressed before we go," Alfred chuckled before grabbing his clothes from the floor and speed walking to the bathroom. It only took him a couple of minutes to get back to the omega but the aggravated look on Arthur's face made him wonder if he took a lot longer. They quietly walked outside to Alfred's car and headed for work.

Arthur was quiet for the entire ride, except for one moment when Alfred glanced away from the road to look at the Brit. When that happened, Arthur snapped at Alfred for looking away from the road while still driving. Alfred wanted to defend himself, to tell Arthur that it was not a big deal, but Alfred didn't want to risk upsetting the omega further.

They remained quiet as they walked in the elevator. When they reached Arthur's floor, the omega promptly started to leave.

"See ya at lunch," Alfred said in a voice that wavered from insecurity.

Arthur pursed his lips in a failed attempt at a smile before he silently left.

When the elevator doors closed, Alfred suddenly felt cold from the absence of Arthur's burning anger. Alfred wasn't sure what he did that made Arthur act so differently. Everything seemed to be going so well. He had no idea what changed between them.

The moment Alfred got to work he bumped into a coworker. When he apologized, the coworker just gave him a strange look. As Alfred passed by more coworkers, he kept getting curious looks. Even his coworker Yao glanced his way and that alpha often avoided eye contact with everyone.

It wasn't until Alfred covered his mouth to yawn that he realized that the stares were probably because Arthur's scent had lingered on him. There were scent glands on everyone's neck and wrists that allowed people to mark their scent on anything and anyone. Depending on how strong a person's scent was, scenting could take as little as a few minutes or as long as a half hour for the smell to stick. How long the scent stayed on an object or person depended on many factors.

Scenting was something that virtually everyone did, often on a daily basis. Rescenting was common too and allowed scents to last longer without scenting again. Parents often used scenting on a daily basis to mark their children. Children could often pick up a scent very quickly because children had a faint and almost indistinct scent. Scenting was used to mark valued possessions, if not all possessions. Possessions were also quick to mark because they usually didn't have strong smells.

Scenting wasn't inherently a sexual behavior but it could easily be done in a sexual or romantic way. Couples used scenting to mark each other even before they start to mate. Couples often carried a hint of their mate's scent on them even if they are apart from their mate for days or weeks. It was a noticeable change in their scent; not so much so that their mate could be identified, but enough to where it was akin to wearing a light perfume or cologne.

Although Alfred didn't touch Arthur's neck or wrists, he still picked up the Brit's scent because Arthur had been in heat. Being in heat greatly intensified an omega's scent. Since it was so potent, when an omega mated during their heat — their scent could stay on their mate for weeks, often until the omega's next heat cycle. Even without mating, someone could pick up an omega's scent if they spent time in the omega's nest. The scent often didn't linger for more than a couple of days if not a few hours.

The same was not true for alphas since they didn't have anything that was the equivalent of an omega's heat. Some people debated that an alpha's rut was similar to an omega's heat, but even a rutting alpha wasn't capable of leaving their scent on another person without touching them.

The primary way that omegas picked up an alpha's scent for more than a few hours was through knotting. An alpha's scent stayed in an omega's system for weeks after a full knot because of the exchange of fluids. Alphas didn't always knot during sex, however, which meant that the omega wouldn't pick up the alpha's scent. Even when a knot was made, it was common for it to end prematurely for a number of reasons. When this happened, the omega would only carry the alpha's scent for several hours or days. If the alpha wore a condom during the knot, then the omega would maybe carry the alpha's scent for a few hours if at all.

These are things that people learned in health education or from their guardians. Like many things in school, it was information that people like Alfred forgot until they experienced it first-hand.

Although Alfred was still bummed out that Arthur seemed upset that morning, the smell of the omega's scent on Alfred's body reminded him of the week they spent together. Each time he sniffed his arm or hands he remembered how significant it was to be invited to Arthur's heat. When it was finally time for lunch, Alfred hurried to the cafeteria. He just knew that Arthur would be in a better mood.

Arthur was sitting at their usual table. Alfred could see that the omega was reading the book he had shown him during his heat. As he approached closer he could see that Arthur was eating the food that they cooked the day before. At that moment he realized that everything really was different between them.

They weren't the same two friends who shared lunch together two weeks ago. There was less mystery about Arthur now that Alfred knew so much more about the omega.

It wasn't a bad thing, it was just different.

Ordinarily, Alfred would be excited to catch Arthur reading from a book. It was like catching a glimpse into who Arthur really was. Now Alfred knew which book Arthur was probably reading without seeing the cover, and he knew that Arthur had enough books in his living room to start a tiny library.

"Hey, Artie," Alfred greeted as he sat down. He simply couldn't keep himself from smiling.

"Hey," Arthur uttered without looking away from the book.

A few minutes passed by and Alfred's smile faded bit by bit when Arthur still didn't look at him. "How's your day going so far?"

"Fine," Arthur replied.

Several more minutes passed by without them saying a word. Alfred tapped his fingers against the table as he tried not to feel uncomfortable in the silence.

"It was nice spending the morning together," Alfred commented.

Arthur didn't say anything in response. All he did was make a sort of sound that Alfred couldn't decipher. After a few more minutes of silence, Alfred started to feel that he must have done something wrong after all.

Alfred frowned a bit and focused on his lunch instead. He ate in silence with only the book staring back at him. Arthur was still reading when Alfred was done eating.

"Is everything okay?" Alfred inquired. "You're not angry or anything, are you?"

Arthur briefly looked away from his book to give Alfred a strange look. "No," Arthur said simply before returning back to his reading.

Alfred was quiet for a few minutes before he spoke again. "I know you like to read," Alfred said, choosing his words carefully as to avoid upsetting the omega. "But can't you read later? Lunch is almost over."

Arthur didn't look away from his book for a minute, then he closed it and set it down. When he finally looked at Alfred, it was with an intense glare that made Alfred's body stiffen.

"Sorry," Arthur said when he saw how uncomfortable he made Alfred. Although Arthur was still irritated, he managed to push himself to say, "I just wanted to catch up on what I missed out on. I wasn't able to read all week because of my heat and I didn't have a chance to read earlier today."

Alfred didn't say anything because he didn't know what to say. This only made Arthur uncomfortable. The Englishman wasn't used to explaining himself or his feelings to other people, and doing so made him feel odd.

So Arthur stood up, grabbed his lunchbox, and said, "See you after work."

"Wait, lunch isn't over yet," Alfred said after quickly getting the time from his phone.

But Arthur left anyway.

Alfred quickly threw away the trash at the table before scrambling to race after Arthur. They always walked back to the elevator together. Arthur must have been really angry to leave without him.

Although Alfred was aware of Arthur's morning routine, it never occurred to him that missing one day could bother the omega so much.

Alfred made a mental note to always let Arthur read in the morning if he ever slept over again.

 

Chapter Text

Soon it was March. The weather was still cold on most days but it was starting to get a little warmer. Leaves were budding on trees as the season began to change. Everything remained relatively the same between Alfred and Arthur as the weeks went on, except that they started to regularly see each other on the weekends. Not the whole weekend, of course. Arthur still needed time to himself — but the Brit was able to handle seeing Alfred a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday.

It all started when Alfred casually mentioned how nice it would be to spend time with Arthur while the omega wasn't in heat. Arthur couldn't help but feel the same. Spending his heat with Alfred in February was surprisingly delightful. So much so, in fact, that it changed something in Arthur, something that Arthur could not identify. Still, it was such a powerful shift in the way he felt about Alfred that it seemed to change everything between them.

At least that was how Arthur felt.

They had only spent the weekends at Arthur's apartment, which was why Alfred said on Friday, "Hey, you haven't seen my place yet... Do you wanna come over tomorrow? I can pick you up from your place, of course!"

Arthur's body stiffened from the question, although Alfred didn't notice that. And Alfred missed the way Arthur's hand gently trembled and how the Brit suddenly stopped eating his salad. Alfred couldn't notice the light tapping of Arthur's foot against the ground as the omega tried to control his anxiety. What Alfred did notice was that Arthur didn't respond to his proposition the way he thought the omega would. He expected excitement or at least a casual "sure".

It took a lot of coaxing on Alfred's part to convince the omega to visit his apartment. There was no way for Alfred to know that Arthur rarely ever went to other people's homes. In fact, Arthur's social interactions with people outside of work or school was limited to sexual encounters, which almost always occurred at his flat. Arthur valued having the freedom and power to tell people to leave the very instant that he was bored or overwhelmed by their presence.

The only exception to this was the sex parties he used to go to, which were never at Arthur's home. Not that Arthur would ever be interested in hosting a sex party of his own. He didn't even fancy the ones he went to, they were just something to do to pass the time. And in a crowd of people who were busy doing drugs and having sex, no one would care or notice if Arthur left prematurely.

Arthur caved in and agreed to see Alfred's apartment since it meant so much to the alpha. As uncomfortable as this made Arthur feel, the smile on Alfred's face made it worth it.

When Saturday came, Arthur almost canceled at the last minute but somehow resisted.

"Hiya," Arthur greeted nervously as he met Alfred outside his flat.

"Hey," Alfred said while leaning against his car which was parked in front of Arthur's building. He walked toward Arthur and wrapped his arms around the omega to pull the shorter man into a hug. Arthur closed his eyes as he held onto Alfred and inhaled the alpha's scent. Then Arthur reluctantly pulled away to get inside Alfred's car.

It didn't take long for them to get to Alfred's apartment and it only took a few seconds for Alfred to park. As they walked upstairs, there was a young woman wearing a forest green sports jacket and olive green jogger shorts who sprinted down the steps and almost crashed into them.

"Hey, Nimo," Alfred greeted the woman with chestnut brown skin.

"Hey, Al! Haven't seen you in a while! Starting to miss our mornings together," Nimo said with a light Kenyan accent while she jogged in place. Her dark brown dreadlocks bounced in the ponytail they were restrained in as she kept moving. "Hello, Al's friend."

"This is Arthur," Alfred introduced with a grin.

Arthur meekly waved as he stayed behind Alfred.

"Nice to meet you. Can't really talk now, Al. Gotta get my run in before I hit the books. Med school's no joke, you know? Anyway, see ya later!" Then she was gone like a flash of light.

"Wow, she's energetic," Arthur commented as he stared at the door at the bottom of the steps. "Did she say her name is Nemo? As in Captain Nemo?"

"What? No, Nimo's her nickname. Her full name is Imani Chelimo but she likes to go by Nimo," Alfred answered. "She's really cool but super busy with school."

"Uh huh..." Arthur mumbled. "What did she mean by 'mornings together'?"

"Oh, that? I jog with her sometimes. She's on her school's track team so she runs every morning to practice or whatever," Alfred said as he unlocked his door. Then he held the door open as he said, "Omegas first."

"Bloody hell," Arthur whispered as he took a few steps inside. He felt like he was standing in his whole flat all at once. His room would probably fit where the couch and coffee table were, the area where Alfred's TV stand was probably the size of Arthur's kitchen, and everything to the left was the space of Arthur's living room. "You never told me how enormous your flat was."

"I guess it never came up," Alfred said while sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck.

"How can you afford a place like this?" Arthur asked.

Alfred just shrugged as he gave the omega a smile. His rent was actually a lot lower than it should have been because of the location. Since people had to pass a worn and almost ominous "dead end" sign when entering the street, and because the buildings looked rundown from the outside, the short three blocks of apartments didn't draw in much attention.

The landlord and property managers also never advertised available units online. The only advertisement was a small sign with the property name and phone number on the very last apartment at the dead end, but most people didn't drive that far without doing a U-turn unless they already lived on the block.

Although the rent could have been much higher, it was still too expensive for most people working full time at or around minimum wage. Alfred's income was almost twice minimum wage, so he was able to easily afford the rent and all of his bills. The two bedroom unit was just under two hundred dollars more than a one bedroom, so Alfred moved into the two bedroom unit since he could afford it and because it was the only available unit at the time.

"A bit lazy, aren't we?" Arthur commented as he picked up a small empty bag of chips from the desk.

"My housekeeper couldn't come yesterday. She had a doctor's appointment," Alfred said in his defense.

Arthur gave Alfred a surprised look as he set the empty bag back down. "You have a housekeeper?"

"Of course. I'm not good at this stuff like you are," Alfred said. "And it's not like it's every day. The housekeeper only comes once a week."

"Hmm," Arthur mumbled. If this was what Alfred's place looked like with a housekeeper's help, he dared not imagine what it would look like without one for more than a couple of weeks.

As Arthur focused on the pictures on the wall behind the computer desk, he walked closer to get a better look at them. Most were pictures of Alfred with friends or family. The first family photo Arthur saw that included the whole family was a large eight-by-ten photo. Alfred's dad was sitting down in a chair that could hardly be seen. He was a small man with long blond hair, blue eyes, and a reserved smile. On his neck was the clear mark of an omega that had been claimed.

Sitting on his lap was a young blond who could only be Matthew. The young omega had a shy smile on his face but Arthur could quickly tell that the young boy was positively thrilled since Arthur himself sometimes had a difficult time fully expressing his happiness. Beside Matthew was Alfred who had his arm around his little brother. They were both wearing matching glasses. Alfred also looked ecstatic — he was practically smiling from ear to ear.

Standing behind them all was Alfred's mom who had one hand on the dad's shoulder and the other hand on Alfred's head. She was a tall woman with a broad frame. Although she was a brunette, she and Matthew had almost identical haircuts, except she had a stubborn cowlick like Alfred.

Arthur smiled as he continued to stare at the photo. They were a very lovely family and Alfred was an unbelievably cute kid.

As Arthur continued to look at the collection of pictures, another one stood out to him. It was the youngest picture he could find of Alfred and Matthew together. This was the only picture where Matthew wasn't wearing glasses and where his hair wasn't neatly combed. There was a blurry image of a slide in the background, so Arthur supposed Matthew's hair got messy from playing around at an indoor park.

In the picture, Alfred was sitting on top of a giant stuff animal bear while carrying Matthew on his back. It must have been Matthew's birthday because the young omega seemed to be wearing brand new clothes; there was even a tag peeking out from his collar. Matthew was absolutely beaming. And so was Alfred for that matter.

"This one is really cute," Arthur said with a shy smile. "You two look so happy."

Alfred stood beside the omega and smiled. "We were. That's actually the day we —" Alfred suddenly stopped himself before saying, "Well, um, I didn't know it at the time but that was one of the best days of my life. See that bear there? Mattie was pretending that it was a real one. He was trying to ride it like a horse or something but he kept sliding off."

"It looks like you were playing along," Arthur commented.

"Haha, yeah. I lifted him on my back and climbed right on that bear. You know what's funny? Mattie gave that bear some long complicated name that he could never even remember. Sometimes he did silly stuff like that," Alfred chuckled.

"You were a really cute kid," Arthur complimented and a blush quickly formed on his cheeks the second he said this. "What made it one of the best days of your life?"

"Matthew," Alfred answered with a big smile. "I'll tell you the whole story one day. Mattie doesn't really like when I tell people outside of the family. I just have to ask him first if he's cool with me telling you. He's kinda a private person. Dad's the same way."

"So I guess you take after your mum then," Arthur suggested since Alfred was the least private person he knew.

Alfred laughed. "Yeah."

"Hmm," Arthur hummed as he continued looking at the pictures. There was one wedding photo with a cake in the center. There were a lot of people in the photo. The bride, whom Arthur presumed to be Matthew, stood on the left of the cake with the groom. The groom was a man with silver-white hair and red eyes. To the right of the cake was Alfred who had an unconvincing smile on his face. "Is this your brother's wedding?"

"Yeah... They got married the moment they graduated high school," Alfred grumbled, not at all sounding like his usual cheerful self though.

"Does he have any kids?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shook his head. "Not yet. I can't wait to be an uncle though. I would totally be the best uncle."

Arthur giggled from Alfred's enthusiasm.

"Well, should we get on with the tour?" Arthur asked with a smile.

"The tour? Oh, um... yeah, sure. I can give you a tour of the apartment," Alfred said.

"Brilliant. I wouldn't mind seeing the balcony first," Arthur said softly as he followed Alfred out of the living room.

"No problem," Alfred said as he walked by the couch and pulled the curtains away from the sliding door. "I, like, never use this. Sometimes I even forget it's here."

"Such a shame," Arthur said as Alfred opened the door. They both walked on the balcony and leaned against the rail. "I really fancy balconies."

"Really?" Alfred asked.

Arthur nodded. "Yes. I would love to have one so I can grow my own vegetables. And it would be lovely to be able to go outside just to read. There's enough space here for two small chairs and a small table."

"Whoa... I never thought of it like that. That would be pretty cool," Alfred said.

"Yeah," Arthur said softly. "So do you get on well with all your neighbors?"

"Mostly, yeah, except for the dude next door to me. He just moved in but I just don't have a good feeling about him. He's always bringing home a new omega," Alfred said with a frown.

"So you don't like him because he has casual sex?" Arthur asked in a weird voice that may have been mixed with fear and defense.

Alfred shrugged. "I don't know what it is about him. He's just kinda lame. Oh shit, he's coming out now."

The alpha had green eyes, although Arthur couldn't see the color of them from how far away they were from each other, and his sleek hair was a reddish brown. He was wearing an all-white suit. Then a short woman joined him on the balcony. She had longish dark hair that was tied in a bun and she wore a light colored dress with a tie that matched the alpha's attire. Despite her serious expression, when the alpha abruptly started to kiss her, she seemed to go along with it.

"Let's go inside," Alfred said as he placed his hand on Arthur's shoulder.

Arthur walked inside first before Alfred followed close behind. As Alfred closed the sliding door, he said, "I wish I had a cool next door neighbor. The last dude who lived there was this old dude who always wore a mask. I mean I didn't have any problems with him but he was kinda weird. He still visits here sometimes."

"Oh really?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah, it's so weird," Alfred exclaimed before sighing. "It would just be awesome to have someone who lived next door that I could invite over to hang out with."

Arthur quietly nodded. He didn't share Alfred's interest in becoming overly familiar with his neighbors, so he didn't say anything as Alfred went on to describe his neighbors. There were two Korean brothers who lived upstairs that often bickered but they were, apparently, on good terms with Alfred. Across from them was a guy who owned a dog who Alfred sometimes walked with. On the top floor was Nimo who had one roommate from India and one from Tibet. They were all omegas so they got along swimmingly. The person who actually the tenant of their unit didn't live there since he moved back to Uganda but he decided to rent the place out until his lease expired.

"You know so much about your neighbors..." Arthur said quietly, not sure how he felt about it.

"Of course," Alfred said before describing his last neighbors who lived across Nimo. It was a group of alphas and one omega. As Alfred described this last group of neighbors, Arthur couldn't help but notice how odd it was that an omega would choose to live with alpha roommates. It wasn't a particularly safe situation to be in, unless, perhaps, if the omega was taking some sort of scent suppressant.

Arthur was then reminded of a character from Subscription to Love and how he needed scent suppressants. While reading the book, Arthur never really understood why the omega took the pills. In fact, he didn't understand why people in real life ever took them.

Scent suppressants did exist for both omegas and alphas, of course, and came in many forms. The special sprays, deodorants, and body washes only marginally reduced a person's scent. These were the most commonly used ones even though they were the least effective forms of scent suppressants.

There were pills which were more effective but all scent suppressant pills were inconvenient and had side effects. The pills had to be taken daily at the same time in order to work and the side effects ranged from anxiety, irritability, and lower libido.

Finally, there were heat suppressants which were the most effective scent suppressants. Unfortunately, they had more serious side effects and a relatively high risk of infertility.

Arthur was against taking medications unless it couldn't be avoided. He preferred natural remedies whenever possible, so the idea of taking a scent suppressant baffled him, but he supposed it would be useful if an omega had to live with alpha roommates.

"Perhaps they aren't roommates, maybe they're all together," Arthur suggested. That made more sense to him than an omega choosing to live with alpha roommates. There were many affordable omega-only housing programs; some of which were essentially rent-free. Although the rooms were set up like a hostel with multiple bunkbeds or a dorm room where two to four people shared a room, it was still a safe situation and preferable to living with alphas who may be thrown into a so-called rut from the smell of the omega's heat.

Alfred scrunched his face at the thought. "Like, all of them are dating having sex together?"

"Sure, why not?" Arthur said.

"I guess... I mean I don't know," Alfred mumbled. "Anyway, do you still want a tour?"

"Oh yes, definitely," Arthur said, almost forgetting that he wanted to see the rest of Alfred's flat.

Chapter Text

Despite how messy the alpha was, everything in the apartment looked so new. Arthur loved the hardwood floors, the accent rug in the living room, the freshly painted walls, and the kitchen. Oh how he loved Alfred's kitchen. It was so huge that it didn't seem like it belonged in an apartment.

The kitchen had granite countertops, which Arthur adored even though he couldn't fully appreciate them at the moment since there were plastic bags from different restaurants Alfred ordered from. Still, Arthur couldn't help but admire the granite that was viewable from all the clutter. He always wanted to live somewhere with granite countertops.

There were two sinks, and both were filled with dirty dishes. Although only one of the sinks had a garbage disposal, both sinks had food in them. To the right of the sinks was a dishwasher. Arthur opened it and saw that it was filled with clean dishes. He shook his head before he closed it.

There were two lidless trash bins in the kitchen. Arthur peered down them both and noticed that neither were used for recycling, but both were filled with many recyclable items such as alumina cans, plastic water bottles, and crumbled sheets of paper. Both of the bins also had a lot of clean plastic bags that could easily be used again.

"For fuck's sake, mate — have you heard of a thing called recycling?" Arthur asked, bewildered by how wasteful the alpha was.

"Of course but it's too hard," Alfred grumbled under his breath.

Arthur picked up a plastic straw from the counter and shook his head. "Why on Earth do you use plastic straws at home?"

"I like them?" Alfred replied.

"Do you really not know how bad plastic is? Shite like these straws and those bags over there kill a million marine animals every bloody year."

"I had no idea you were such an animal lover," Alfred said.

"I'm not," Arthur quickly replied. "But I'm not a bloody monster. I like knowing that they're out there, living their merry little lives without our trash killing them off to extinction."

"Oh..." Alfred quietly muttered.

Arthur shook his head but turned his attention to the beautiful sleek cabinets above. Arthur opened each one and found canned, snack, and junk foods in each cabinet.

"I had those before we watched that documentary," Alfred said as if he had to explain himself.

"Uh huh," Arthur replied before he opened the freezer. It was stocked with TV dinners like mini burgers, buffalo wings, meat lover's pizza, and something that tried to pass itself off as steak.

Then Arthur opened the refrigerator. It was filled with at least two dozen water bottles. The top shelf had a case of beer, jugs of juice, and bottles of water. Arthur raised his eyebrow at the beer. He didn't think Alfred ever drank alcohol.

The shelf underneath had a container with pasta and tomato sauce inside. Arthur couldn't help but smile at this. It seemed that Alfred actually did learn something from their little cooking session.

"You do realize that you can filter your own water to drink," Arthur commented. "And it would be cheaper and a better quality than the filtered water in those wasteful plastic bottles."

"I know but these are more convenient," Alfred mumbled.

"Then the least you can do is recycle the bottles," Arthur said as he closed the refrigerator door. He glanced around the kitchen once more before saying, "I don't see any fruits or vegetables in here."

Alfred sheepishly ran his fingers through his hair. "I haven't had the chance to go grocery shopping."

Arthur turned to look at Alfred. "Do you want to go now?"

"Seriously?" Alfred asked,

"Sure. Why not?" Arthur countered.

"Oh, um, okay... Yeah, let's go," Alfred answered since he had a feeling that he didn't really have a choice in the matter.

"Brilliant. First, let's gather a few of these bags," Arthur said as he started picking up the plastic bags that were scattered on the counters.

"Why? They have free bags at the store," Alfred pointed out.

"Because it's bloody horrendous for the environment that people are so wasteful like this. You don't even recycle the basics, Al. And even if you recycled, plastic bags have their own recycling procedure that no one bleeding follows, so no one should ever use the bloody things in the first place. So the least you can do if you won't use reusable bags for all your shopping is to make use out of these perfectly usable bags that you have in such abundance," Arthur fumed so heatedly that his face had turned red.

Alfred stared wide-eyed with raised eyebrows. He never witnessed Arthur go into such a long rant before.

"Sorry... Sure, yeah, we can totally use those bags. I think I have some more in the living room," Alfred said.

"Excellent," Arthur said, face red from embarrassment. He never spoke to anyone like that before. Frankly, he wasn't sure why he suddenly felt so open to speak to Alfred in the way he had. Arthur wasn't a fan of confrontation so he almost always kept his criticisms of other people to himself.

Feeling nervous about everything he just said, Arthur lightly rubbed Alfred's arm before going to the other counter to pick up a plastic bag.

Alfred touched the spot on his arm where Arthur had rubbed as he watched Arthur collect a couple of bags. before he went to pick up the ones from the other counter. Once they gathered all of the clean plastic bags, they left the apartment and went to the car.

When Arthur opened the door, a small lion practically pounced on him — or something that really looked like a lion. Upon closer inspection, Arthur realized that it was a large fuzzy Chow Chow with most of its hair shaved down except around its face, chest, and the tip of its tail.

"Wow — your dog is so soft," Arthur exclaimed after his shock died down.

"Thanks," said the tall dark-skinned man with a buzzcut and glasses. "Hello, Alfred."

"Hey, dude. This is my friend Arthur," Alfred said before adding, "Man, Kokolo is looking great! Did he just get a haircut?"

"Unfortunately. The groomer gave him the same cut he got in spring when all I requested was a bath and blow dry. Such incompétence," the Cameroonian sighed. "Say, have you seen Nimo? I'm thinking of playing football later. To be clear, I do not mean American football."

Alfred laughed. "Yeah, yeah, I know you meant soccer. Anyway, you just missed her. I think she's studying for most of the day. Don't you have her number?"

"No, I just got a new phone," the Cameroonian replied.

"Oh, well, I can just text you her number. That way you'll have both our numbers," Alfred said.

"Fantastique. Merci!"

While Alfred got his phone out to text his neighbor Nimo's phone number, Arthur leaned against the stair rail while staring at Kokolo who was now standing behind his owner.

"There you go," Alfred said with a grin.

"Thanks. Well, we must be off. I need to get Kokolo some water. See you around."

Once Alfred's neighbor and the dog walked upstairs, Alfred said "let's go" as he walked downstairs.

 


 

Arthur walked down the aisle and met Alfred at the end. He gently placed something into the alpha's hand and smiled up at him. The alpha lightly squeezed Arthur's hand before taking the _ from Arthur and putting it in the cart.

The first thing they got were several cans of soup and other relatively healthy non-perishable foods. Next, they went to get frozen food, although this was usually the last thing Arthur picked up so it wouldn't melt while he shopped. Arthur didn't plan on them staying at the grocer's shop for very long though, so he thought it was safe to get first since he figured it would be Alfred's main food source. Arthur wanted the alpha to eat healthier but he knew Alfred wasn't going to cook all the time. Alfred needed something healthy and tasty that he could easily heat up, so Arthur chose frozen packs of pre-made meals that almost resembled what he usually cooked at home.

On their way to the produce section they nearly walked past the coffee aisle.

"What type of coffee do you like?" Arthur casually asked as they walked by the shelves of coffee.

"Anything really. I'll even drink dark roast as long as I can add milk and sugar to it," Alfred answered.

Arthur held back a laugh. He continued glancing at the different coffee bags until he saw one that he liked. Then he picked it up and held out toward the alpha.

"Would you drink this?" Arthur asked.

Alfred looked at the bag of medium-roast coffee beans.

"Yeah, looks good to me," Alfred answered.

"Perfect," Arthur replied before it placed it in the cart. He didn't want to say so out loud but he wanted to have coffee at his flat that the alpha would actually enjoy drinking. It was a big deal for him to keep something at his home for someone else, so he didn't want to draw any attention to what he was doing.

As they were leaving the aisle they passed a lot of different teas. Alfred stopped and picked up a variety pack and asked, "Do you want to get any tea?"

"Tea? Yes. Ruddy teabags that taste like rubbish and can barely be called real tea? No thanks," Arthur playfully sneered.

Alfred raised his eyebrows, surprised by Arthur's answer. "Really? I kinda thought they were better because they're, like, fast and easy to make."

"There you go again. Have you learned nothing from the documentary," Arthur teased before looking at the selection of loose teas leaves on the shelves. "You don't have to keep tea at your apartment for me. I don't know when I'll be visiting again."

"I don't mind," Alfred said. "You can even just use it for today."

"No, it's fine. I'm sure you don't have any tea infusers at home," Arthur commented as he looked at the tea canisters. Then he remembered about the one he had at home that was still holding the ribbon he kept from Alfred's gift on Valentine's Day. He started to blush as he picked up an identical canister of the one that ran out of tea. "I'll get this... but to take home with me."

"Okay, cool," Alfred said, feeling a little disappointed. Although Alfred was aware that it was a minor thing that shouldn't have bothered him, he couldn't help but read into it. The fact that Arthur didn't want to leave any tea at Alfred's apartment implied that the omega didn't plan on visiting the apartment again. Or at least that's how Alfred felt.

He did his best to ignore this worry as they walked toward the produce section. Then Alfred remembered some of the recent conversations they had and a question crossed his mind.

"So... your morning routine is, like, something you do every day, right?" Alfred asked.

"Yeah... what of it?" Arthur replied, confused by the question.

"How long have you been doing it?" Alfred asked.

It was a simple question but it flustered Arthur enough to cause him to bump into someone they were passing by. Arthur muttered an apology before they moved past the stranger.

"Oh, um, I'm not exactly sure... At least for a few years, ever since I graduated community college," Arthur answered.

"Wow, that's a long time," Alfred exclaimed. "Why is it so important to you?"

"It's calming," Arthur said as casually as he could, but it meant so much more to him than that.

"Because of the tea?" Alfred asked.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the questions, Arthur stared down at the floor and wrapped his arms around himself. It felt weird to be so open to another person. He never spent enough time with another person to be asked such personal questions. Even if he had, he never felt comfortable enough to answer them.

He almost answered "sure" but he decided to give the actual answer instead.

"The whole bit. The tea, the reading, the shower — it adds a sort of stability and calmness to my life..." Arthur paused as he felt anxiety rise in his chest. They just entered the fruit section, so he started to pick up and set down random fruits they passed by as he spoke. "Maybe that makes me sound a bit mental but I don't know what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow is out of my control. What I do know is that I will have a nice cuppa in the morning and that I will have a bit of time to read. I know that I will have time to reflect and meditate in the shower if I please. Something horrid may happen later in the day, but at least I know what my morning will bring."

Alfred was staring at Arthur as the omega spoke. He wouldn't have guessed any of this. All he was expecting was a short answer, like that Arthur picked up the habit from a parent or something. He wasn't expecting something so serious, so he had no idea how to respond.

When Alfred didn't say anything, Arthur timidly added, "I know it's not much and I know it must seem absurd for any of these things to be so significant to me... But some days it means the world to me."

"It's not absurd," Alfred quickly said. "I totally get it. I mean, I don't have a routine or anything but it makes me feel good to know that I can go on a run, play video games, and watch TV whenever I'm not feeling so awesome. Like, maybe it looks like I'm watching a movie but maybe I'm trying to ignore something that's stressin' me out or something."

"Precisely," Arthur said with a smile, glad that Alfred actually understood. As they entered the vegetable section, Arthur looked down at the nearest bin of vegetables and asked, "Do you like cucumbers?"

"I guess so," Alfred answered as he approached the bin of cucumbers. "I'm not really a picky eater. I like just about anything except that dark muck you tried to get me to eat."

Arthur rolled his eyes. The American was willing to eat just about anything. He didn't understand why Alfred wasn't willing to try the yeast spread. "I'm sure you would love it if you just gave it a try."

"Yeeeah, I don't think so," Alfred said as he turned his attention back to the cucumbers. He grabbed one of the longest and thickest cucumbers and held it out for Arthur to see. "Is this a good size?"

Arthur grabbed the other end of it and sucked in his breath when his fingers accidentally brushed against Alfred's fingers. For a long second, he imagined that the phallic produce was Alfred's member. Alfred had held the cucumber down at waist level, so it wasn't much of a leap for his imagination to make. Any omega in his place would have a similar thought cross their mind.

"S-Sure," Arthur responded as he quickly let go of the cucumber.

Alfred had felt his heart flutter when he felt Arthur's fingertips, but he shrugged off the feeling.

 

Chapter Text

Soon their cart was filled with vegetables like carrots, green onions, and peas to name a few. They went back to the fruit section since they didn't actually add any to the cart when they passed it earlier. Picking out fruits was a far quicker process since Alfred simply grabbed one of every fruit available, except for the mangoes.

After Alfred paid for the food, they went back to the car. Arthur seemed to hum happily as he stared out the window. He felt good that he was able to make a positive influence on the alpha, especially after Alfred had been there for Arthur in a way that no one, especially no alpha, had ever been before.

Alfred, on the other hand, was starting to feel overwhelmed. There was so much he suddenly learned about Arthur, which wasn't exactly a problem. In fact, Alfred liked what he found out and he loved getting to know Arthur better. The issue was that Alfred was starting to realize that he didn't know Arthur as well as he thought he did.

As they were heading back to Alfred's apartment, Alfred almost made it through a yellow light but got stuck at the red. He intermittently clutched the steering wheel as he waited for the light to change. The moment it turned green, he started to drive.

"Oi," Arthur exclaimed.

"What?" Alfred asked, turning to look at omega.

"Don't look at me, look at the bloody road," Arthur said, sounding little frazzled.

"It's not a big deal, no one's on the street," Alfred said as he glanced between the road and the omega.

"Can you just focus on where you're driving?" Arthur asked.

Arthur held back a huff as he stared straight ahead of him. "Is this better?"

"Yes," Arthur said.

Alfred took in a deep breath before asking, "So what were you about to say?"

"What? Oh, right. You should look both ways when you're crossing the intersection," Arthur said.

"The light was green," Alfred said in a bit of a scoff.

"When you're the first or second car waiting at the light, you should always look both ways before you drive through. You never know if a car is going to run the red," Arthur said.

"I mean, sure, that's true in theory but —" Just as Alfred was about to turn to look at Arthur, Arthur placed his fingers at Alfred's jawline and turned the alpha's face toward the road.

"Keep your eyes on the road," Arthur said, sounding calmer than before.

"Don't worry, I've been driving for years, I know what I'm doing. Trust me, you would understand if you were a driver," Alfred said.

Arthur frowned a bit as he stared out the window. "Well, I would thank you to always keep your eyes on the road when you're driving and to look both ways when you're the first or second car going through the green light."

Alfred sighed. "Fine. I mean, you're kinda making a big deal out of this but sure, I'll try to do that more often."

Arthur narrowed his eyes. He hated being patronized and he knew that in this particular situation that he was correct and was in fact not overreacting. Despite how much he wanted to argue this point with the alpha, all Arthur said was, "Thank you."

They didn't say anything for the rest of the short drive home. When they got inside, the mood between them was still a little off until Alfred's stomach started to growl. Alfred chuckled as he patted his stomach.

"Guess I'm hungry," Alfred said.

"I was thinking we could cook soup together but if you need to eat right now then I'm sure there's something in one of these bags for you to heat up," Arthur said.

"No, no, let's make something together," Alfred said a little too enthusiastically.

"All right," Arthur said with a smile. "Let's put everything away first, shall we?"

After putting everything away, Alfred grabbed a mango and dug his fingers in it before pulling the skin off. Once he got the skin off half the mango, he sunk his teeth into the fruit and munched hungrily at it.

Arthur watched with wide eyes as he watched the whole spectacle. Alfred's fingers were covered in so much mango juice that the glistening nectar streamed down his hand. Arthur blushed from the sight as a thought suddenly filled his mind where Alfred walked up to him. Alfred brushed his fingers over Arthur's lips, rubbing the wetness over the omega. Arthur shivered as he parted his lips. His cock jumped as Alfred inserted his drenched fingers inside Arthur's mouth. Arthur eagerly sucked the juice clean off Alfred's fingers and continued sucking until Alfred pulled his hand away.

"Greedy slut. I bet you want me to stuff my cock in your mouth, don't you?"

"What?" Arthur choked out.

"Hm?" Alfred asked, mouth filled with the mango.

"Oh, um, nothing. Never mind," Arthur stammered.

"Uh, okay," Alfred said before proceeding to rip the rest of the skin from the fruit.

Arthur wet his lips with his tongue as he to appear as nonchalant as he could manage as he continued to watch the alpha.

"I bet you taste like my cum and mango."

The words from an erotic story he read filled his mind as well as the rest of the words from the passage. He heard the words again, except this time it was Alfred saying it instead of the character from the book.

Arthur blushed as another vivid thought filled his mind. Remembering the time when he saw Alfred's erection creating a tent under the blanket while Alfred was on the couch, Arthur easily imagined Alfred's bare erection, although the details were a little blurry. The alpha squished and squeezed the mango in his hands until the juice spilled down over his hard cock. Then Arthur got on his knees and eagerly took Alfred's cock in his mouth and bobbed his head, greedily eating the alpha's cock as sloppily and ravenously as Alfred ate the mango.

"Oops," Alfred said, snapping Arthur out of his thoughts. "I guess I got a little messy."

"Sorry?" Arthur panted, then blushed deeply when he heard how husky his voice was. He swallowed hard when he saw how Alfred's nose, mouth, and cheeks were covered in mango juice.

"It's cool, I got it," Alfred said. He had finished the mango but the juice had trailed down his forearms. Arthur somehow blushed even redder as he watched Alfred lick the nectar from his arms. He fought back a whimper as he continued to watch. Arthur would have gladly licked it off the alpha. He would have gladly licked Alfred anywhere the American pleased.

"Okay, I'm ready to start cooking," Alfred said, nose, mouth, and cheeks covered in mango juice a

Arthur, realizing that he was starting to get an erection, quickly excused himself and ran to the loo. He splashed cold water on his face until he started to calm down. Once he was done, he realized that the second door in the loo that led to Alfred's bedroom was open. Arthur peaked inside and was surprised to see how messy it was. The floor couldn't even be seen. Fortunately, this helped Arthur lose the rest of his erection.

He left the loo and joined Alfred in the kitchen again. Arthur instructed the alpha to boil a pot of water. As it was heating up, Arthur handed Alfred some of the seasonings that they got from the grocery shop for the alpha to sprinkle into the water. While they waited for the water to boil, Alfred chopped up carrots, celery, potato, sweet potato, and a cucumber. By the time he was done cutting the vegetables, the water finally came to a boil. They poured the vegetables into the pot and Arthur added in some peas and green beans.

Alfred liked Arthur's approach to cooking. The Brit said that the only thing that mattered was that the food they prepared was edible. This made cooking a lot less intimidating for the American.

And the soup they made was indeed edible. It was a little bland at first but it tasted a lot better after they added more seasoning to it at the end.

Once they were done eating lunch, Alfred asked if the omega wanted to go on a walk.

It had been a long time since Arthur went on a walk so he agreed.

 


 

There were a lot of bare trees that surrounded the path they walked on. A cold wind blew by and Arthur started to shiver. Alfred wrapped his arm around the omega's shoulder and pulled him close. Arthur didn't resist it. In fact, he leaned in even closer. The omega was warm now and he really enjoyed being so close to Alfred.

"It must be beautiful here in the summer," Arthur remarked.

"Yeah, but it's beautiful now too," Alfred said.

Arthur looked up at Alfred who was looking at the trees and the cloudy sky. Then the omega smiled and rested his head on the taller man's shoulder. "You're right."

They walked for a while longer without saying a word. Unlike the other silences Alfred had with Arthur, this one was a comfortable silence that didn't bother him.

"This is such a nice area," Arthur complimented.

"Yeah," Alfred agreed.

It was by luck that Alfred found the apartment. He had been looking for apartments that were close to running trails, so he parked about a mile away in another residential area and started walking around. Eventually, he stumbled onto a path that led to another trail which led to a three-way intersection. The first path led to a lake and many other trails, the second led a children's park and paths to nearby houses, and the third led him to the street he now lived on.

After a few minutes of searching, he found the phone number to the management and inquired if there were any units available for rent. Luckily for him, one had just became available.

"How long have you lived here?" The omega asked.

"I moved here after I finished college, so I guess about fourteen months now," Alfred answered.

Arthur gave Alfred a surprised look. He never knew that the alpha finished college. In fact, he hadn't even been sure that Alfred ever started college to begin with. "What was your degree in?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shrugged. "Nothing fancy, just a bachelor's in business. Mom didn't care what I majored in as long as I was in college and passing all my classes."

Arthur pulled away a bit to look up at the alpha. Somehow he thought Alfred had been talking about community college.

"You're so young though," Arthur commented. "How did you get your bachelor's already?"

"Twenty isn't that young to get a degree," Alfred replied. "I went to college right after high school, but college wasn't really my thing. I totally couldn't wait for it to be over. I took five courses every semester and I took summer and winter classes so I could graduate faster. My Mom made me take a few AP classes in high school so that was one less semester I had to worry about when I got to college."

Arthur didn't even realize that Alfred was twenty-one. He couldn't imagine getting a bachelor's at twenty. When Arthur was twenty he was just finishing his associate's degree. He didn't understand how Alfred pulled it off.

"Did you have to work while you were in school?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shook his head. "Nope. I mean, I had an internship but that was just one day a week. Mom wanted me to focus on my studying, so she paid for anything my scholarships and grants didn't cover so that I didn't have to worry about money."

This made Arthur feel better about himself. "You're lucky," Arthur found himself saying.

The alpha nodded in agreement. "I know. She paid for the rent of my first apartment too and gave me her BMW so I could drive to school."

That explained the car. Arthur always wondered how Alfred could afford such an expensive car. It was still pretty new considering that it was a hand-me-down.

"Did you live in the apartment before moving here?" Arthur asked.

"Yep. It was just for the last year of college. I lived at home all the years before that. I guess my mom just wanted to make sure I wasn't one of those kids who still lived at home after they graduated college," Alfred laughed.

Arthur didn't have anything else to say.

"What was your degree in?" Alfred asked.

"My associate's was in English. I was two semesters away from getting my bachelor's degree but I ran out of scholarships," Arthur grumbled.

Alfred gently squeezed Arthur's waist in an attempt to comfort him. "You should go back. You're so close to finishing."

Arthur sighed as he stared down at the ground. "It's not that simple. I don't want to be thousands of dollars in debt."

"I totally understand. It's really awesome that you have an associate's degree though. Most omegas don't even have that much. You should totally be proud of yourself, Artie," Alfred said with a reassuring smile.

The Brit fought himself from smiling back. No one had ever put it like that before.

But Alfred was right. Less than fifty percent of omegas had any sort of degree. Roughly thirty percent of omegas became a stay-at-home omega straight out of high school. The number would be much higher if more alphas were ready to settle down after graduating high school, but many alphas wanted a year or two to find a steady job before settling down with a mate.

Two in every three omegas that sought higher education ended up going to community college first. Of those omegas, a quarter would drop out before obtaining the degree. This was almost always exclusively because they found a mate. For the same reason, the drop rate almost doubled for omegas in four-year universities since it took twice as long to graduate.

Basically, this meant that the chance of an omega having an associate's degree of any age was just marginally higher than becoming a stay-at-home omega by the age of eighteen.

Still, Arthur had a difficult time acknowledging his accomplishments since he became an independent adult, so it was out of habit that he shrugged off Alfred's compliment.

"Right..." Arthur replied dismissively, "Well, I still plan on getting my bachelor's... I just need to save up enough money first."

"Maybe you can get a job at a college," Alfred suggested. "They might pay for some or all of your tuition."

That idea never crossed his mind, and it would be easier to get a job since he had the associate's degree.

"Perhaps," Arthur said softly.

They made it back to the apartment a few minutes later. Exhausted from the walk, Arthur kicked off his shoes before he plopped down on Alfred's couch and stretched out. Alfred smiled to himself when he saw the omega.

"Wanna play a game or watch a movie?" Alfred asked.

"Not now, but I'll watch you play," Arthur said.

There was a sleek black stand beneath the HDTV that had several shelves. On top of the stand was a large soundbar that was wirelessly connected to the television. The shelf beneath it had a PS4 and an Xbox One X. Under that shelf were all his games for his consoles, as well as games he bought to install into his gaming computer. The bottom two shelves were dedicated to his movies.

Alfred put in an RPG game and sat on the couch in front of Arthur so that the omega didn't have to move. Arthur stared at Alfred as the alpha fought against monsters and bad guys. He reached his hand out a few times, just a few inches before pulling his hand back. Then he finally managed to stretch his hand out far enough for his fingertips to graze against Alfred's hair.

The alpha's body stiffened from the contact and practically froze in place. He even stopped playing the game momentarily, although the game continued on without him. Arthur's fingers trembled as he mentally debated between touching Alfred again or pulling his hand away.

Arthur closed his eyes and delved his fingers through Alfred's soft locks of hair. His heart started racing as he did. When he opened his eyes, he was happy to find that Alfred's body had relaxed and that he was playing the game again. He enjoyed the feeling of rolling the American's hair between his fingers. There was something so intimate about it without crossing the boundaries they had established on Valentine's Day.

So Arthur kept his hand in Alfred's hair and occasionally twirled the alpha's hair around his fingers. This made it difficult for Alfred to focus on the game but he didn't care. Alfred loved feeling Arthur caress his hair.

Chapter Text

At some point, Arthur stopped petting Alfred's hair and it may or may not have had to do with the fact that Arthur enjoyed touching Alfred so much that the omega let out a quiet purr. Arthur had never purred before so it was completely unexpected. It was also surprisingly arousing to the omega. He wasn't sure why but hearing himself make that noise of content and pleasure had made his own cock jump as he craved to feel more of the alpha's body.

There was an instant spike of arousal in Alfred's scent that implied that the alpha heard the purr. Fortunately, Alfred didn't say anything about it and just continued playing the video game. It was some time after that when Alfred started rolling his shoulders and stretching his back.

Arthur reached out briefly to touch Alfred's shoulder but managed to resist. Instead, he took out his phone to finish reading something he read that morning. While he was reading, he noticed that Alfred started rotating his shoulders and stretching his back.

"Does your back hurt?" Arthur asked after the alpha fidgeted for another five minutes.

"Yeah. I think it’s from my chair at work. It stops right here,” Alfred said as he leaned forward and touched the middle of his back.

“No bloody wonder your back hurts! That offers you no support at all,” Arthur exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Alfred sighed.

Arthur sat in a way so Alfred was between his legs. He placed his hands on the alpha’s shoulders and leaned forward. He pressed his weight down into his hands as he massaged Alfred’s muscles.

“Ohhh man that feels amazing,” Alfred complimented. He was so relaxed that his words almost came out as a moan. Arthur blushed as he kept kneading his fingers against Alfred’s skin.

“Good,” Arthur murmured. “Lean forward.”

Alfred obeyed and immediately moved forward.

“More,” Arthur commanded. His voice was strange. It was heavy and a little breathy.

Arthur stared at Alfred with hooded eyes as the alpha complied again. He really liked how obedient Alfred was being.

His hands moved lower as he massaged down Alfred’s back.

"There, how's that?" Arthur asked as he felt the alpha relax against his touch.

"Fantastic," Alfred sighed, ignoring how much he liked Arthur touching him like this. "Where did you learn to give massages like that?"

"It's just a natural talent," Arthur said with a smirk.

The Brit continued massaging Alfred for much longer than he needed to. He liked having an excuse to touch Alfred so he really fancied massaging him. It was a while later when Alfred paused the game to save it. "Ready for a movie?" Alfred asked.

"Sure," Arthur said. "Do you know what you want to watch?"

"Yeah. Have you seen Cloverfield?" Alfred asked.

Arthur shook his head.

"Dude! You'll love it! It's about paranormal stuff. It's crazy scary," Alfred exclaimed.

"Sure, sure," Arthur said.

The Brit sat up so Alfred could sit beside him after he put in the movie. Alfred still had his shoes on when he put his feet on the couch.

"You still have your shoes on?" Arthur asked.

"Oh yeah! I forgot I was wearing them," Alfred laughed before he took them off and dropped them on the floor.

They got comfortable and continued watching the movie.

"Shite," Arthur said a few minutes into the movie. "They couldn't find someone with steadier hands?"

"That's the point," Alfred said. "It makes it more realistic."

Arthur rolled his eyes but continued watching the movie. A few more minutes passed by before Arthur exclaimed, "Blooming hell, all that camera movement is going to make me hurl."

"You'll get used to it," Alfred said. "Trust me, this movie is really good!"

Twenty minutes later, Arthur asked, "When is this movie going to start? We must be halfway through already."

Alfred pulled his knees up to his chest. "Shit's about to go down!"

Suddenly the screen went almost completely black. A few minutes later there was a glimpse of some kind of monster, and then it went back to shaky footages of people.

"Was that it?" Arthur inquired. He didn't know why Alfred was acting so afraid.

"You didn't see it?" Alfred asked in a slightly frightened voice.

Arthur rolled his eyes but didn't say anything. As they watched the movie, there were many times when Arthur had to close his eyes. He didn't do this because he was scared. Arthur closed his eyes because the nauseating camera movements was starting to give him a headache.

"That's it?" Arthur exclaimed toward the end of the movie when they finally saw a clear view of the monster. "That's what all the fuss was about? What a bunch of bollocks."

Alfred gave the omega an incredulous look. "What are you talking about? That thing just ate that dude!"

"Yeah, yeah," Arthur said.

By the end of the movie, Arthur was laughing at a particularly touching moment.

"It's not funny, dude," Alfred said as he wiped the tears from his eyes.

"Oh I beg to differ," Arthur said. "And just so you know, when you said 'paranormal activity', I was expecting a movie about ghosts or spirits; not a movie about monstrous aliens."

"Spirits, ghosts, aliens, same diff," Alfred shrugged off.

"No, they are quite different."

"How?" Alfred huffed.

"For starters, aliens aren't real," Arthur said very matter-of-factly.

"Um... yeah they are, dude," Alfred countered.

Arthur furrowed his eyebrows. "You can't possibly believe that aliens are real. Only halfwits believe in aliens."

"They are real! I totally saw one before," Alfred exclaimed.

"Oh yes, you saw an alien and I'm the Queen of England," Arthur mocked.

"It's true though," Alfred insisted.

Arthur rolled his eyes. "And how many times have you seen aliens?"

"I only met one and it was just the one time, but the little dude was so rad. It didn't try to prod or probe me or suck out my brains or anything! It was a super chill alien."

"Do you know how daft you sound?"

"But I really did meet one. Its name was Tony, it was super short, bald, and had gray skin and red eyes. Oh, and it had really long fingers."

"This sounds more like a creepy imaginary friend," Arthur observed.

Alfred crossed his arms over his chest and huffed. "Fine, whatever. Don't believe me then."

"Boo-hoo."

"Jerk," Alfred said, tossing one of the couch pillows at the Brit.

The pillow hit Arthur right in the face, causing him to fall back against the armrest. Arthur grumbled a curse as he grabbed a pillow with both his hands and lept over to the alpha to shove it over his face. Alfred grumbled something in protest but it was muffled by the pillow.

Alfred grabbed Arthur's wrist with one hand and used his other hand to pull the pillow out of the omega's hand. Without the pillow in his face, he suddenly realized that Arthur was straddled on top of him. He looked so beautiful with his furrowed eyebrows, slightly flushed face, and pouty mouth. It took every bit of restraint to keep himself from pulling Arthur's arm to bring the omega closer to him.

Arthur was so caught up in the moment that he didn't realize his own actions until the pillow was removed from Alfred's face and he was staring down at the alpha's captivating blue eyes. He automatically licked his lips and noticed how Alfred's eyelids became heavy with desire. It made Arthur's heart race. Then Arthur felt Alfred's hand tighten slightly over his arm, so lightly that it might have gone unnoticed how Alfred tugged Arthur just a tiny bit toward him. Arthur couldn't help but lean forward.

Suddenly, Alfred forced himself to look away. He stared at the television instead which had finished rolling the end credits.

"S-Should I finish the tour?" Alfred stammered as he let go of Arthur's arm. His voice was breathy and Arthur could smell the arousal in the alpha's scent.

The omega stayed on top of Alfred for another moment, reluctant to move.

"Sure," Arthur said, barely able to hide the disappointment from his voice.

He got off of Alfred and stood up.

Alfred got up, still avoiding the omega's gaze. He walked past the kitchen and turned to the first door on the right. "This is the spare bedroom."

"Spare bedroom? This is a two bedroom apartment?" Arthur asked, actually feeling surprised.

Alfred nodded as he led the omega to the first door by the kitchen. He opened it and let Arthur walk inside. There was a couch and several types of small workout equipment. Arthur had no idea what any of them were except for the weights.

"I use this room to work out in. I mean I could do that in the living room and rent out this room out instead, but, I don't know. If I'm going to share my space, I would rather do it with whoever I end up mated with."

Arthur could understand that. He also liked having his own space and he immensely valued the fact that he didn't have to share it with anyone. But he wouldn't mind sharing his space with the right person, if such a person existed.

"What about the couch?" Arthur asked.

"It pulls out into a bed. It used to be in the living room, but I moved it in here when I got my new couch. Well... that concludes the tour, unless you wanna see the washer and dryer."

"I do," Arthur said quickly.

Alfred walked out of the room and waited for Arthur to stand next to him. Between the spare room and Alfred's bedroom was a vented door. Alfred opened it to reveal a washer unit with a dryer attached on top.

Arthur's eyes widened from surprise. "This is so brilliant!"

"Yep," Alfred said with a grin. "And that concludes the tour... unless you really want to see my bedroom?"

"Another time, perhaps," Arthur said. Hopefully Alfred's room would be clean then.

 


 

It was soon late in the evening. They already finished eating bowls of the soup they made earlier. Arthur pushed Alfred to put away the clean dishes that were sitting in the dishwasher so he could empty the two sinks.

While the dishwasher was cleaning the dishes, they went to sit on the couch. They had spent the last hour talking about their favorite things and were now talking about their favorite books. Alfred didn't read much for fun, but he did have to read a lot of books for school.

"My school didn't make me read that one," Arthur replied after Alfred mentioned a book he read for English class that he actually liked. "But I did read it during gym."

"How did you manage to read during gym?" Alfred asked.

"I used to read when I walked around the track," Arthur answered with a smirk.

Alfred started to laugh. "Wow. I can't believe you got away with that."

"Well, I usually get my way," Arthur replied with a wink.

The alpha shook his head but couldn't help but smile. This was one of the many reasons why he loved Arthur. He was such a unique omega.

A loud beep interrupted their conversation, signaling that the dishwasher was done.

"Time for you to put the dishes away," Arthur stated.

"I can do that later," Alfred replied.

Arthur stood up and set his hands on his hips. "Now."

Alfred got up and walked to the kitchen to put the clean dishes away.

"Do you want to sleep over?" Alfred asked once he was done in the kitchen. He hadn't slept over Arthur's apartment since the omega's heat ended in February. It would be nice to have a sleepover again, and it would be easier to do at his apartment.

"It's tempting," Arthur said. He hadn't been able to read all weekend though. It would be nice to be able to read before work tomorrow. "But I think I'll pass. Thanks for the offer though."

"Of course," Alfred said. "Any time."

Before going to the car, Arthur grabbed the bag of coffee he bought from the kitchen. When they arrived at the Brit's apartment, Arthur leaned over and hugged the alpha. There was a brief moment when they were about to pull away when it felt like they should kiss, but they both ignored the urge.

"Good night," Alfred said.

"Good night. Don't get abducted by aliens," Arthur teased.

"Hey! Don't give them any ideas! They're not all as nice as Tony," Alfred exclaimed in a panicked voice.

"Uh-huh. See you tomorrow I hope," Arthur laughed before closing the car door.

 

Chapter Text

The next day Arthur arrived early to lunch so he could read. Sometimes Arthur would read a bit during their lunch, but only for a few minutes which didn't bother Alfred too much, although the alpha would have preferred if Arthur didn't read at all when they were together.

"How's the book going?" Alfred asked as he sat down across from the omega.

"Oh, you didn't get abducted after all," Arthur teased without looking up from the book.

"Ha ha," Alfred said. "So how is the book going?"

"I'm almost done," Arthur said, still not looking away from the book.

Alfred looked at the book and noticed that there were only a few pages left. He focused on eating his lunch while the omega read. The silence between them was stifling. Every minute managed to feel like an hour.

"Can you read that later?" Alfred finally asked. He felt crummy asking this, but their lunch break was the only real time they spent together during the weekdays when Arthur wasn't in heat. The time they spent when Alfred drove Arthur home could hardly be counted. Usually, Arthur was too tired to talk so the conversations were often one-sided.

Arthur narrowed his eyes a bit. "I only have seven pages left."

"Fine," Alfred grumbled before he started eating his lunch.

It was quiet between them as Arthur continued to read. Lunch was almost over when Arthur finished the book. He had a huge smile on his face as he closed the book and Alfred was surprised to see how thrilled the omega looked. He never knew reading a book could make a person so happy.

Alfred pushed his feelings aside to ask, "How was it?"

Arthur didn't answer right away. He eyed the alpha warily before asking, "Do you really care?"

The alpha sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. He figured that maybe he deserved that. "I'm sorry about before. It doesn't really bother me that you like to read... It's just... I don't know, I kinda feel invisible when you read around me, like you wouldn't care if I was here or not."

Arthur's eyes widened. "How could you think that? You know how much I fancy your company."

Alfred nodded but looked away from the omega. "I know but... I don't know. It just makes me feel like I'm not important or something, like I'm not interesting enough if you'd rather read instead of talk to me... Never mind, I shouldn't have said anything. It's dumb. Just forget I said anything."

"It's not like that at all, Al," Arthur quickly said. He had no idea that reading around the alpha made him feel such strong negative feelings. The last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt Alfred.

"Yeah..." Alfred said with a sunken expression.

"You have to understand. When I read, it has nothing to do with you," Arthur said in an attempt to reassure the alpha. "I didn't really have friends before college. Books were more or less my only friends — that's why I have so many. Reading makes me happy and it bothers me that I don't read as much as I used to. I could spend all my lunches reading, but I don't. I spend them with you."

The omega's words weighed down on Alfred so heavily that he slumped down further in his seat.

"I didn't know I was getting in your way," Alfred said in a low voice that was just above a whisper.

Arthur moved his seat until he was sitting beside Alfred. He took Alfred's hand and looked in his sad blue eyes. "You're not getting what I'm saying. You are important to me, Al. I could spend every lunch reading but I choose to spend them talking to you. You're not boring at all. You're fun and interesting and really sweet... But it would mean a lot to me though if you were okay with me reading around you sometimes."

Alfred smiled and gently squeezed Arthur's hand. "Yeah, okay. I won't be upset the next time you read around me... I'm sorry for overreacting."

Still looking at Alfred, all Arthur wanted to do was kiss him. Instead, he just continued holding the alpha's hand.

"We should probably head back to work now," Alfred said. Their lunch break had ended a few minutes ago.

Arthur smiled and gave Alfred a hug. The alpha pulled him close and gently rubbed his back, resisting the urge to run his fingers through the omega's hair. Although Arthur had done it to him before, he wasn't sure if it was okay to do it to Arthur.

"Okay, we should definitely get to work before they decide to fire us," Alfred joked.

Arthur let out a soft chuckle against Alfred's chest before pulling away. They went to work and didn't see each other until the end of the day when Alfred took the omega home. On their way home Alfred asked again about the book.

"Soooo," Alfred said while they were stuck at a red light. "How was the ending to the book?"

Now that Arthur was sure that Alfred was actually interested to know, the omega excitedly exclaimed, "It was absolutely brilliant! It's definitely my new favorite novel. I'm tempted to read it again actually, but there's another book I'm eager to read."

"What is that book about?" Alfred asked as they got closer to Arthur's home.

Arthur took out his phone to find the description of the book. "It's about a claustrophobic omega who's struggling to find love because of his phobia."

"By the same writer?" Alfred guessed.

"Yeah. I have every book from that author," Arthur said with a brilliant smile that made Alfred smile too.

"That's cool," Alfred said. "What was the first book you read from that writer?"

"This is stupid," Arthur said.

"Oh, sorry," Alfred muttered. He wasn't a book person so he never talked about books before. Maybe it was a stupid question to ask.

"No, that's the title of the book," Arthur laughed.

"Ohhh," Alfred replied, feeling silly for the misunderstanding.

"Yes. It was perfect timing too. You could say I found it in a sort of dark period in my life. Actually," Arthur said as he thought back to that day. "I believe that was when I started my morning routine."

"Really?" Alfred asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah," Arthur said with a hint of surprise in his voice. It only occurred to him because they talked about his morning routine the day before. "

"Well that's cool. I'm glad that you found out about that writer," Alfred said as they neared Arthur's apartment.

"Me too," Arthur said softly.

When they reached the omega's apartment, Arthur didn't leave the car immediately. He was torn between the urge to kiss Alfred goodbye or to invite the alpha inside, although he was leaning toward the latter.

Of course Arthur knew it wouldn't have been wise to choose either of those options. Besides, there was nowhere for the alpha to park. Alfred would probably have to park a far distance away or wait a long while for someone to leave.

With a disappointed sigh, Arthur got out of the car. Before closing the door, Arthur said, "See you tomorrow.

Alfred smiled and said, "See you."


 

The next day, Arthur felt comfortable reading at lunch. In fact, he read for a few minutes during lunch every day that week and it didn't bother Alfred. Every time Alfred started to feel like he was unimportant or being ignored, he remembered the talk they had and understood that Arthur just wanted to read as much as he could before his heat started.

And it wasn't just about the heat either. Alfred was starting to really understand how important reading was to the omega. Arthur truly enjoyed it, and that was all Alfred needed to understand. Arthur was thankful that Alfred didn't take it personally anymore whenever he read around the alpha.

During lunch on Friday, Arthur was staring at his book for a while without turning the page. He had stopped reading at some point when he got lost in thought. Spending his heat with the alpha went so well last time that Arthur wanted to spend his heat with Alfred again. It was difficult to ask, however; since they wouldn't be having sex and since they weren't even a couple. He knew that it was more likely that last month was a one-time thing.

At some point, Alfred noticed that Arthur hadn't turned the page in his book for a while, so he asked, "What's on your mind?"

Hearing Alfred's voice startled the omega. He blushed as he tried to gather up the courage to say what he wanted to ask.

"I, um... I," Arthur stammered in a slightly shaky voice. "I really liked having you over last month."

"Oh," Alfred said, realizing that the omega was talking about the heat. "Yeah, it was nice."

Arthur closed his book and set it on the table, then he started tapping his fingers against it before speaking again. "Valentine's day was nice too."

"Yeah, it was..." Alfred said, unsure of where the omega was going with this.

"Yep..." Arthur said awkwardly. His hands fidgeted as he tried to push himself to continue talking. "W-Would you like to come over this weekend?"

Alfred's eyes widened slightly from surprise. "During your heat?" Alfred asked.

The omega nodded.

"Would it be like last time?" Alfred asked.

"Yeah, unless you want us to shag this time around," Arthur half-joked.

Alfred started blushing deeply. "I mean, you know I want to... but not if you don't have feelings for me."

"Well, it's not like I don't feel anything for you."

"You know what I meant," Alfred said seriously. "I don't want us to take that step unless you wanted to be in a relationship with me."

"Right," Arthur said. "So... your answer is...?"

Another week around Arthur in heat without touching each other? A sane alpha would turn this offer down. It was simply too difficult to deal with.

"Of course," Alfred responded against his better instincts. He would gladly suffer through the sexual frustrations if it meant spending more time with the omega. They hadn't spent a lot of time together since Arthur's last heat ended.

"Smashing," Arthur said with a grin. "My heat doesn't start until Monday, but you can come over tomorrow if you want to hang out during the weekend."

"Sounds good," Alfred replied.

Chapter Text

The two didn't see each other until Alfred arrived at Arthur's flat early in the afternoon the following day.

"Hey," Alfred said after Arthur opened the door.

"Hi, Al," Arthur greeted back with a big grin on his face.

"I have a surprise for you," Alfred exclaimed after he walked inside.

It was then that Arthur noticed that Alfred was holding the reusable bag he had given the American. There was something large inside that could barely fit in the bag. Arthur didn't say anything but had a weird expression on his face.

"Is something wrong?" Alfred asked, his smile fading away.

"I just, I don't like surprises," Arthur answered.

"That's good to know," Alfred said. "I guess it's more like a gift than a surprise."

"Not a big gift I hope," Arthur replied, hinting that he wasn't a big fan of gifts either.

Alfred carefully pulled out an unwrapped white box and handed it to Arthur. The Brit reluctantly took it and flipped it over. He was surprised to see that it was a kit. There was a book titled How To Embroider By Hand: The Easy Way. Next to it were all the tools needed to embroider a few patterns discussed in the book.

"I love it," Arthur said excitedly. "Thank you."

"I'm glad you like it. I wasn't sure if you had a book like this already," Alfred said.

"I don't," Arthur replied. He never thought to buy a book on how to embroider since he figured he would never get around to learning it. "This is really wicked."

Seeing how happy Arthur was made Alfred smile from relief. Alfred really wanted to get Arthur some kind of book as a present and hoped it would show that he really didn't mind that Arthur liked reading so much. He wasn't sure if that message carried through, but he figured his actions would eventually deliver the point if the gift didn't.

Arthur was so overwhelmed with the urge to kiss him that he nearly did. Instead, he wrapped his free arm around Alfred and buried his face against the alpha's neck. He could feel Alfred's body shudder against him.

Alfred swallowed hard. Feeling Arthur against his neck was making him feel heated.

"Thank you, Alfie," Arthur whispered into Alfred's ear before pulling away.

Alfred's heart skipped a beat from the nickname. Arthur had never called him that before.

"I'm glad you liked it," Alfred said, still smiling broadly.

Arthur walked over to the couch and placed the kit on top of the bookcase next to the box of DVDs.

"So, what do you feel like doing?" Alfred asked.

"Anything you want," Arthur answered. He didn't care what they did, he was just happy that they were spending time together.

"Maybe we can go on a walk?" Alfred suggested.

"Well, it's supposed to rain soon. We can go outside somewhere tomorrow, but maybe today we should just stay in?" Arthur suggested. What he really wanted to ask was if it would be okay for them to cuddle, but he didn't have the courage to ask.

"Sounds good to me," Alfred said as he plopped down on one end of the couch.

Arthur still hadn't found his remotes, so he went to the TV. Since Arthur wasn't in heat yet, they were able to watch anything they wanted. It didn't take them long to find something interesting to watch on Betaflix. Arthur decided to go with a romantic comedy that also had a bit of action in it.

Once the movie started to play, Arthur sat down beside Alfred. He glanced over at the alpha several times while they watched the movie, still unable to believe that Alfred agreed to stay during his heat again.

It started raining outside at some point during the movie. The rain was so loud that it almost completely drowned out the television.

"Wow, you weren't kidding earlier. It's really pouring out there. It's a good thing we didn't go out today," Alfred exclaimed.

"Yeah. I think a window might be open actually," Arthur said as he stood up. He walked toward a bookcase to push aside a curtain. It turned out that he did forget that he left the window cracked open the day before.

After he closed it, he covered the window with the curtain again before returning to the couch. This time he sat right next to the alpha. They were close enough to the point where they were almost touching.

Alfred was surprised by how close the omega was sitting to him, but he didn't say anything about it. He was tempted to wrap his arm around Arthur but was afraid that might be pushing things too far. Instead, he stayed perfectly still so he wouldn't do anything to make Arthur uncomfortable.

Something happened in the movie that made them both laugh. Arthur leaned in closer to the alpha, and by the time they were done laughing Arthur had rested his head on Alfred's shoulder.

When they reached the end of the movie, they were both stretched out on the couch and Arthur was practically lying on top of Alfred. The omega was resting his head on Alfred's chest while his arm was wrapped around the taller man's stomach. Alfred had his arm around Arthur's waist.

Neither of them moved once the movie was over. They stayed cuddled together as they just listened to the rain. Arthur started to trace circles into Alfred's side as he listened to the alpha's heartbeat. Being together like this was comfortable, and the sound of the rain was soothing.

They stayed like that for a long while until they both drifted off to sleep.

Arthur woke up several hours later. It was well past midnight. He smiled softly as he looked down at the young blond. Alfred was such a handsome alpha. He could look at him all night. It was tempting to continue sleeping on Alfred, but the television was still on and he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep with the light glaring from it.

Carefully, the Brit got off of the alpha and quietly walked to the television to turn it off. He turned around and looked at Alfred and then to the hallway that led to his room. Turning toward the hallway, he took a few steps in that direction before stopping to look at Alfred. His heart thudded against his chest as he started to walk toward Alfred instead. He started to crawl back over him when Alfred started to stir in his sleep.

His heart started racing in fear that Alfred would wake up. Fortunately, Alfred remained sleeping. Deciding not to risk waking the alpha, Arthur slowly moved off the couch and went to his bedroom.

The next day, Arthur woke up early and got out his old coffee maker from a bottom cabinet. It had been such a long time since he used the coffee maker that he wasn't sure if the machine would work. Fortunately, it did work, so Arthur made coffee for the alpha after he fixed breakfast.

"Morning," Alfred mumbled as he walked into the kitchen. The smell of eggs, hash-browns, and bacon stirred him awake. "Thanks for making breakfast. It smells delicious!"

"No problem," Arthur said with a wide grin. He loved that Alfred actually liked his cooking. "I made some coffee for you too."

Alfred grabbed himself a cup of coffee while Arthur took out his tea canister. He made sure not to take out the one that had the ribbon Alfred had given him. He didn't really want Alfred to know that he had kept it. Then he proceeded to make himself tea.

As he was waiting for his tea to brew, Alfred said, "I don't wanna get in the way of your routine... is it okay if I eat breakfast by the TV?"

Arthur felt a wave of relief rush over him. He was happy that Alfred was there, but he wasn't in the mood to socialize yet. So he nodded at the alpha.

Alfred took his breakfast to the couch and turned on the television.

Arthur sat in his reading chair and got comfortable. When he started reading he found that he couldn't concentrate over the sound of the telly.

"Can you turn that down a bit?" Arthur asked.

Alfred nodded and turned down the volume, but the omega still couldn't focus on reading.

"Can you turn it down a bit more?" Arthur asked.

"Sure," Alfred said before turning it down even further.

The television was still too loud for Arthur even though the volume was now down to ten. Arthur simply wasn't used to there being any noises while he read. It was tempting to ask Alfred to turn the volume down even more, but then Alfred wouldn't be able to hear anything. So Arthur did his best to ignore it and focus on his book.

Eventually, Arthur was able to block out the sound of the TV and focus on his reading. He was able to read for about an hour before he stopped. Then he realized that he was late for taking his pill. He got up and started looking around.

"What are you looking for?" Alfred asked.

"Nothing," Arthur said. He didn't want to tell the alpha about the birth control pills.

After a few minutes of searching, Arthur decided to ask for Alfred's help. "I can't find my birth control pills. Can you help me look?"

"You're on birth control?" Alfred asked. Arthur wasn't entirely sure, but he thought he heard a hint of judgment in the alpha's voice.

"Of course. I mean I never engage in any sort of sex without condoms but you can't be too careful with these things." Although Arthur hadn't had sex in about ten months, he still took his birth control daily. But it was harder to be as diligent with taking the pills at the same time every day since he hadn't been sexually active in so long.

"What does it look like?" Alfred asked as he stood up from the couch.

It was at that moment that Arthur remembered where he took his pill yesterday. He was sitting on the couch, but Alfred arrived shortly after he took his pill so Arthur pushed it behind a pillow before rushing to answer the door. It must have fallen in the cracks while they were cuddling on the couch.

With Alfred's help, Arthur removed all of the seat cushions until he found the small case that held his birth control pills. His remote controls were also there as well as a five dollar bill, a few pens, and a clear crystal.

Arthur picked up the case and went to the kitchen to take his pill. While he was doing that, Alfred picked up the remotes and other items before putting the seat cushions back into the couch.

"Do you feel like going outside now?" Arthur asked as he walked out of the kitchen.

"Oh... yeah, sure," Alfred said, sounding a bit unsure. He still had questions about the birth control pills, but he decided to let them go. Instead, he picked up the clear crystal and asked, "How did this get under the cushions?"

"That's quartz," Arthur replied as he took the crystal from the alpha. "Witches use it in all sorts of ways because it has a lot of wonderful magical properties. I like to keep them around the apartment to bring positive energy."

"Wait a second. Are you saying you're a witch?" Alfred asked.

Arthur hesitated to answer. This was the first time Arthur would say this out loud to someone else. He didn't know how Alfred would react.

"Yes. Is that a problem?" Arthur asked. Although he meant to sound casual and maybe even brave, the words came out soft and timid.

"Um, no, it's totally cool," Alfred stammered. He never suspected that Arthur was a witch, although he supposed that explained the symbols he sometimes saw Arthur wear. And now that Alfred thought about it, some of the books he caught a glimpse of when Arthur opened his bag also had symbols on them. He didn't really understand what being a witch meant though.

"Is that why you believe in stuff like fairies and spirits?" Alfred asked.

"Sure, I suppose," Arthur answered, trying not to feel hostile. There was something about the way Alfred spoke that made him sound skeptical. "Can we go?"

Alfred nodded and the two of the left the apartment.

 


 

The mood went back to normal after they walked outside for a few minutes. Arthur enjoyed taking the time to look at the buildings. There were a lot of small shops that sold unique things. Several of the shops were thrift shops. One shop only sold bicycles. There were also quite a few small cafes. Arthur usually didn't walk much further than the bus stop so he wasn't familiar with what was in his area unless it was a building he passed on his bus route.

Arthur stopped walking when he noticed Alfred staring at the window of one shop in particular. There were different types of rocks of varying sizes in the window.

"Want to go in?" Arthur asked.

Before Alfred could object, Arthur linked his arm around the alpha's arm and led him inside the shop.

"Welcome," said a honey skin-toned woman with blue eyes and shoulder-length brown hair that was held back with a golden headband that matched the rest of the gold jewelry she wore over her body.

"Let us know if you need help with anything," said the young man beside her. He had light brown skin and wore a khaki uniform.

"Cool, thanks," Alfred said as Arthur continued tugging Alfred deeper into the store.

There were a lot of gemstones, crystals, stones, and beautiful minerals that glittered even under the shop's poor fluorescent lighting.

Alfred thought it was cool how Arthur had information about almost everything in the shop. He supposed that was because Arthur was a witch and knew more about things like this.

"I quite fancy diamonds, but it's nearly impossible to find any that aren't blood diamonds," Arthur explained.

"Oh, I saw that movie," Alfred said. "I didn't know that was true for most diamonds though."

Arthur nodded while looking at the array of gemstones. "I love garnets. I suppose because red is my favorite color." Arthur said before glancing at Alfred. The alpha seemed memorized by everything that surrounded them. "Do you want to buy anything here?"

Alfred liked looking at things like this but he didn't know anything about rocks. "I'm tempted... But I guess I like when my decor has a functional purpose," Alfred answered. "Come on, let's get out here."

 

Chapter Text

They went into a few more shops after that. Eventually, they came across a sex shop that Arthur had been in once before. Alfred didn't realize what kind of place it was at first because the cashier was watching a horror movie on his laptop while eating something that smelled delicious. While walking further into the shop, Alfred was so busy trying to see what the cashier was eating that he bumped into a promotional stand carrying ankle and wrist restraints and cuffs, causing the cashier to gasp "ana~" as the leather cuffs dropped to the ground.

Alfred crouched down and scooped the assorted restraints into his arms. When he looked up at the stand that he bumped into and saw what was on it, he instantly dropped everything in his arms as he stumbled backward into Arthur's legs. He looked up and saw Arthur smirking down at him, clearly holding back a laugh.

"What's wrong? Never saw a sex toy before?" Arthur teased with a wink.

"I d-didn't know we were in this kind of store," Alfred mumbled under his breath.

"Um, hello," said the cashier as he walked around the counter. His skin was slightly tanned and his dark brown hair was wild and wavy. He wore a casual white jacket and slacks. Across his chest was a yellow sash. He fiddled with his glasses as he said, "Sorry but, uh, you cannot browse the store unless, um, I see your driver's licenses. So, ana... would you mind showing me your driver's licenses please?"

Alfred, who was blushing from embarrassment, got up to his feet as he said, "I guess we can't stay."

"Why not?" Arthur asked as he pulled out his driver's license from his wallet.

"You have a license? I thought you didn't know how to drive," Alfred said as he fished out his own license.

"I never said that. I just don't have a car," Arthur said dismissively while the employee inspected both of their licenses.

"Hm... Okay, thank you. If you, um, have any questions, feel free to ask me," the employee said before stooping down to put the fallen sex toys back on the stand.

"Oh, I have a question," Alfred said once all the egg/bullet vibrators were back on the stand. "What are you eating?"

"Pad thai, ana," the employee said before going back to his seat behind the register.

"Must you always think with your stomach?" Arthur asked as he elbowed Alfred in the side. "Oh, what do you think of that?"

"Of what?" Alfred asked.

Arthur walked down the lingerie aisle until he reached the middle. Then he picked up a red chemise with black lace patterned over it and held it up for Alfred to see.

Alfred took the chemise from Arthur and held it against the omega.

"It would look great on you," Alfred commented. Arthur blushed from how sincerely Alfred said that and took the garment back from the alpha.

"Shush," Arthur said as he hung it back up. He started to walk down the aisle and Alfred followed after him.

The next aisle they went into was the strap-on dildos.

"Whelp, we don't need anything from this section," Alfred laughed.

Arthur shook his finger at Alfred before he picked up one of the strap-ons that didn't have testicles attached to it. It was a light flesh tone color and a whopping fourteen inches long. "This can actually fit over your knob. You just push your knob inside this slot here and it gives you a few extra inches."

"My knob?" Alfred asked as he held back a laugh as the image of a doorknob came to mind.

"You know, your todger? Your chopper?" Arthur listed. When Alfred still didn't seem to recognize any of the words, Arthur groaned. "You bloody Yankees. I'm talking about your junk, your cock, your pe-"

"Okay, okay," Alfred said as he waved his hands to get the omega to stop. "I get it, Artie. But I don't need any kind of enhancer."

Arthur blushed as he fought from looking down at the alpha's groin. All he could think to say was, "Sure."

"I don't," Alfred insisted. "Besides, who would want this inside them? I think this would hurt too much to be enjoyable."

"I don't know about that... I certainly wouldn't mind trying it," Arthur said, his voice drifting off.

Alfred's eyes widened as he looked back and forth from the omega and the strap-on. "Are you saying this is the kind of thing you're into?"

"Sure, why not?" Arthur answered honestly. "I would just need a lot of lube."

Alfred didn't know what to say to that so he left Arthur in the aisle and went to the next one. It wasn't long before Arthur caught up with him.

"I'm not saying I need something like that, I just wouldn't say no to trying it," Arthur explained as he patted Alfred's arm. He kept his hand there in an attempt to calm the alpha down.

The American was quiet for a moment before reluctantly asking, "How many people have you had sex with?"

It was a bold question, the exact kind of question that Alfred rarely ever asked people. He preferred when people volunteered information on their own, but he felt compelled to ask Arthur.

Arthur let go of the alpha's arm. "Does it matter?"

Alfred wasn't sure if it mattered or if he even wanted to know. He didn't exactly think Arthur was a virgin considering how much older the omega was, but until today he had the impression that the Brit lacked a lot of sexual experience, although now he wasn't sure where he got that notion from.

"Sorta, yeah," Alfred said in a chary voice.

"Well, how many blokes have you screwed?" Arthur asked, feeling more than a bit defensive.

"I asked first," Alfred said in a raised voice.

Arthur rolled his eyes. "Don't be so immature. I'll tell you after you answer."

"Fine," Alfred grumbled. "I've been with two people."

"Just two?" Arthur exclaimed.

"Yeah," Alfred said. "Is there anything wrong with that?"

"Not really... It's just... nothing," Arthur said. He never met an alpha who slept with so few people. Alfred was practically a virgin as far as Arthur was concerned. "What about handjobs and blowjobs?"

"Still just the two," Alfred answered. "It's your turn."

"I don't think you want to know..." Arthur said slowly. He was already reluctant to tell Alfred. Now that he knew how few people the alpha had slept with, Arthur really didn't think it was a good idea to give Alfred an answer.

"Dude! We had a deal," Alfred nearly shouted. He wasn't angry but he felt really weird. Maybe he was feeling vulnerable, or maybe he was just responding to the anxiety that was coming off Arthur's scent. He was always sensitive to Arthur's scent even when he wasn't aware of it.

Arthur didn't say anything though.

"Is it more than three?" Alfred asked. Arthur still didn't say anything. "More than four? More than five?"

Arthur didn't make any kind of response to what Alfred said.

"Is it more than eight?" Alfred asked and the omega still didn't respond. "...Is it in the double digits?"

Arthur nodded.

"Like... twelve?" Alfred guessed.

"... Higher."

"What? Is it like twenty-five?" Alfred joked.

"Higher, mate," Arthur said, still not comfortable with telling Alfred the exact answer.

"Dude, seriously?" Alfred exclaimed.

Arthur nodded again.

It was hard enough to handle that Arthur slept with more than ten people. Knowing that the number was probably much higher than twenty-five was more than a little unsettling. Omegas didn't usually sleep with more than a handful of people, maybe seven at the most. Even alphas didn't usually have sex with much more than fifteen people. In fact, the number was usually a lot lower.

"Did you ever do it during your heat?" Alfred asked, as if there would be some redeeming value if Arthur at least preserved that part of him for a future mate.

"All the time," Arthur admitted. Sensing how much the alpha disapproved of these answers, Arthur added, "I like having sex, Al, and I'm not ashamed of it."

"I'm sorry if I, I didn't mean to imply," Alfred stammered as he tried to wrap his mind around the information he was just given. Deciding to drop the subject, Alfred said, "I guess we just have different opinions about it."

"I didn't do anything wrong," Arthur said defensively. "Having sex with someone allows you to connect with them in a special way. Why do I have to restrict such a beautiful connection to just one or so people when I have the opportunity to know many people on that level?"

"You don't have to restrict yourself, you know, but, geez, man," Alfred remarked, feeling overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings he suddenly had about Arthur's active sex life. "You're right, it is a beautiful connection but I think doing it with people you don't care about cheapens it. I think it makes it less significant, like it's desensitizing you to it. I —"

"Oh, I assure you that I still thoroughly enjoy sex," Arthur firmly stated, cutting the alpha off. "It never became any less pleasurable. If anything, it felt even better as I slept with more people because I had more experience and knew what I fancied."

Alfred suddenly felt cold with some kind of feeling. Was it jealousy? Anger?

...Fear?

"I'm not saying you can't enjoy sex," Alfred said in a frustrated voice. "But I think it would make it harder for you to notice when you actually have real and deep feelings for someone. Like, it makes it difficult to notice romantic feelings because you're blurring the lines you have with people you aren't genuinely interested in."

Arthur was surprised by how much Alfred's words hurt him. The alpha didn't say anything mean, not exactly anyway; and the Brit could tell that the American was holding back. Yet, there was something about what Alfred was saying that really stung.

"What you're implying is that I should hold out for someone I could be in love with," Arthur said sharply. "But I don't think it's very wise to wait for a person who may never come around."

The American felt tears stinging at his eyes. He looked away from Arthur and started staring at the shelf in front of him. What Arthur said felt like a rejection, as if the omega was saying that he would never have feelings for him. But if Alfred was being honest with himself, he had felt rejected the moment he found out that Arthur had so much sexual experience.

He wasn't sure why, but it made him feel like he would never be a real option for the omega. Since Alfred didn't have a lot of experience, he couldn't help but feel that he wouldn't be enough for Arthur. If they ever got together, surely Arthur would quickly grow bored of Alfred. Or maybe Arthur would miss the freedom of having sex with whoever he wanted, or he would miss the variety that freedom brought.

Alfred furrowed his eyebrows as he tried to control the hurricane of feelings that were wreaking havoc in his heart.

Arthur hated seeing Alfred upset like this. Alfred always had a smile on his face. It seemed wrong for Alfred to look like this. He supposed Alfred was really bothered by how many people he had sex with, although that was something Arthur couldn't do anything about.

There was stress radiating from Alfred's scent along with something else that Arthur couldn't determine. Whatever it was, it made Arthur worried about the American.

Not knowing what to say, Arthur reached his hand out and tapped the remote control bullet vibrator that Alfred had been frowning at which made the alpha jump from surprise.

"I never tried anything like this but I always wanted to give it a go. I think it would really strike my fancy," Arthur said, trying to lighten the mood by changing the subject. "Are there any sex toys you ever wanted to try?"

Alfred didn't answer but Arthur could tell by the alpha's scent that Alfred was starting to feel better.

"I usually only use sex toys when I'm nesting but sometimes I use them for fun," Arthur continued, hoping that the sound of his voice would calm the alpha even more. Arthur smiled when he noticed that the frown was gone from Alfred's face. "I fancy toys like vibrators, butt plugs, and dildos — you know, the standard choices."

Alfred remained quiet but his cheeks was a ruby red and his scent was almost back to normal.

"Do you ever use dildos or butt plugs?" Arthur asked.

The alpha shook his head. Arthur took that as a sign of progress.

"I'm pretty open with trying new things though," Arthur said while looking around the store. "Although I don't know what that's for."

"What what's for?" Alfred asked.

Arthur mentally cheered for getting Alfred to speak again.

"Those on the walls," Arthur said while pointing to the rows of butt casts.

"Oh, that?" Alfred said while laughing nervously. "It's supposed to feel like you're actually having sex with an omega. Most of them are made from an actual cast of an omega's, you know."

"Wow... how do you know so much about them?" Arthur asked.

Alfred started to blush again. "I used to use them... I was given one for when I hit puberty and had my first rut. If I hadn't been given one to start with, I don't think I would have ever tried them."

"For your first rut, huh?" Arthur asked. It was a little strange hearing that word since it was rarely used anymore.

Ruts were something that mated alphas experienced regularly. Mated alphas often got their ruts whenever their omega started nesting. They became protective over their mate, aggressive toward other people — especially alphas, and they became as horny as omegas did. Sometimes mated alphas' ruts weren't in sync with their omega's heat cycle, but that almost never lasted long since happened unless the couple was incapable or disconnected.

Unmated alphas could experience ruts but it happened in very specific situations, chiefly during puberty. Aside from puberty, unmated alphas could experience ruts if they lived in the same house or apartment unit as an omega they were interested in, but this was a rare occurrence since most unwedded omegas had the option to use one of many omega-only housing programs that offered low or sometimes even free rent to omegas in need.

The only other time unmated alphas got into ruts was during the spring. When this happened, they were moodier than usual but nothing more intense than an omega going through PHS. Unfortunately, before omegas obtained equal rights to alphas and anti-discrimination laws went effect, it was common practice for alphas to use their rut as an excuse to damage property, stalk and harass people, initiate and participate in violent fights, and rape people — often omegas.

For decades people believed it was normal and unavoidable for alphas to fight and rape people when they were in a rut. It was so accepted that the term "rape" was rarely used when committed by an alpha experiencing a rut, especially when the person the alpha raped was their own mate. The blame was often placed on the omega for being outdoors during their preheat or heat, especially if the omega was alone.

When omegas were allowed to seek higher education, many omega doctors and scientists looked into the rutting phenomenon. After many studies were done, it was discovered that a true rut could only be initiated when the alpha was bonded to an omega and said omega was in heat. It was also found that the alpha's hormones during their rut made them more aggressive toward potential threats to their omega.

This was only true when the alpha was close to their mate. If the alpha left to go to work, for instance, the distance would quickly diminish the rut since the alpha was no longer around their mate. While the alpha may still be alert, weary of strangers, and aroused on some level; there was nothing to suggest that they were incapable of controlling their behavior.

It was concluded that there was no circumstance where rutting alphas were incapable of controlling themselves sexually. As for the violent tendencies that commonly occurred during ruts, alphas were still capable of controlling themselves unless they are with their nesting omega and someone invades their space.

"How old were you when you had your first rut?" Arthur asked.

"Sixteen," Alfred answered. " I was a late bloomer I guess but I started puberty at a normal age. I barely did any rutting. I think my rut was weak or something because of Mattie."

"Really?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shrugged. "I mean I don't know for sure but I think so. People used to say shit like 'ruts make alphas bang omegas senseless, they can't help it, it's the rut' — but I never understood that. I don't get how a person could get so horny that they would just take a random person and have sex with them, especially against their will."

Arthur nodded. "What does that have to do with your brother?"

"Matt was so fragile when he was growing up. Like, he was such a sensitive kid," Alfred said. "Before he started puberty he used to do, like, these fake heats. He'd set up a nest and just get super cuddly. Sometimes we'd cuddle in his makeshift nest and watch movies and I just kept thinking God, you know? Like, Mattie's so innocent that he's fake nesting. I mean, I don't know if other omegas do that but it wasn't covered in health-ed so I don't think it happens a lot."

"I don't think so either," Arthur said quietly.

"Right? Well, yeah. So alphas at school were already having sex and bragging about their first rut. The stories they shared were just so awful. I mean, it didn't click at the time but those alphas did whatever they wanted to whatever omega they found. They weren't asking permission, you know?"

"I know," Arthur said.

"I think when alphas get horny that a lot of alphas kinda don't see omegas as actual people. We brag about our first rut, our first time having sex, our first time knotting. I don't know if omegas do the same —"

"We usually don't," Arthur said. "At least not the omegas I've been around. We usually see them as special moments but most omegas don't tell many people when they have sex for the first time or have their first knot. We might tell our parents or perhaps a few close friends."

"See? It's totally different. Anyway, I guess I kinda got off track but yeah, I worried about Mattie, you know? About the way alphas would treat him, the way alphas treated omegas in general. I didn't want any alphas hurting him," Alfred explained. "I mean, if someone did I think I would have beaten them to a pulp but that's not a rut thing, that's a big brother thing."

"You're a great big brother," Arthur said.

"Thanks," Alfred said. "Anyway, yeah, back to the casts... I stopped using them a couple of years later. They're a major pain in the ass to clean. No pun intended..." Alfred said as cooly as he could. He couldn't believe they were having this conversation. "Was there anything you wanted to buy while we are here?"

"Actually..." Arthur said as he turned and looked around the shop. "Maybe... Let's walk around a bit longer."

They browsed the rest of the shop for a few more minutes until a sex toy grabbed Arthur's attention. It was a clear pink vibrating dildo that had a smaller bulb that protruded out so that the vibrations could reach his balls.

"What do you think of this one?" Arthur asked as he held it in front of the alpha.

Alfred's face turned red as he instantly pictured Arthur using the toy. His mouth started to water from the arousing thought.

"I-It's fine," Alfred stuttered.

Arthur didn't fail to notice the arousal in Alfred's scent. It was subtle, but Arthur was so familiar with the scent that he could have smelled it from across the room.

In Arthur's other hand was the same sex toy, except this one was colorless. He held that one up too. "Which should I get? The pink one or the clear one?"

Alfred knew his answer immediately. He preferred sex toys that didn't have any colors.

"You should get the one you like more," Alfred answered.

"I want to get the one you like most," Arthur insisted.

Alfred couldn't bring himself to answer, so he pointed to the clear one and made sure not to touch it.

Unable to resist, Arthur asked, "Do you think it would feel good?"

The alpha nodded slightly. He was blushing so hard that his neck was turning red.

"I mean, do you think it would feel better than most dildos and vibrators?" Arthur teased.

Alfred couldn't stop imagining Arthur using the toy, and now the smell of arousal was heavy on his scent. Arthur took a step closer to him so he could inhale Alfred's smell. He loved Alfred's scent, especially when the alpha was aroused.

"Should I get it?" Arthur asked in a slightly breathy voice. He was getting aroused now too.

"Yes," Alfred said in a heavy voice.

 

Chapter Text

After Arthur bought the clear vibrator that Alfred picked, he suggested that they go to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner since they had been out for so long. Alfred was nervous that someone would be able to tell what was in Arthur's bag, but the omega assured him that there was nothing to worry about.

"Besides, what's the worst that could happen if someone found out?" Arthur said with a wink.

Alfred had to admit that Arthur had a point.

They were quiet as they looked at the menus. Alfred still had many questions he wanted to ask the Brit. The most pressing thing he wanted to know was the exact number of people Arthur has had sex with. He didn't ask this, however; because he knew what he really meant by that question was if it didn't mean anything when Arthur asked him to have sex on Valentine's Day.

He thought it was a special moment at the time, but now that he knew how many people the omega had sex with, Alfred wondered if he was just another person to add onto the Brit's lists of conquests. Did Arthur just want to try Alfred out? To use him, have his fun, then move on to the next new person to fuck?

Meanwhile, Arthur was worried that he said something that might have pushed the alpha away. Although Arthur wasn't ashamed of what he said and he felt it was important for Alfred to know all of it, he didn't want anything to change between them. He really liked how everything was going with Alfred, especially recently since he invited Alfred over during his heat. The omega enjoyed having Alfred there even though they didn't have sex together. He had been so excited that Alfred agreed to stay during his heat again. Arthur really hoped he didn't do anything to mess all of that up.

"Do you know what you want to eat?" Arthur asked.

Alfred nodded. Although he was starting to eat healthier since he watched the food documentary with Arthur, he couldn't resist buying a large burger with a side of fries.

When the waiter came, Alfred made his order but asked for water instead of a soda, which Arthur was happy about.

Arthur ordered a small burger with a side of steamed vegetables that he planned on eating later. He also drank water and made sure that the waiter didn't give either of them straws.

"Do you usually go to stores like that with all your friends and talk about, uhh, stuff?" Alfred asked.

"Stores like what?" Arthur asked in an attempt to buy himself some time. The truth was that Arthur hadn't thought about his friends since he stopped going to school. Maybe the reason he didn't think about them was because he hadn't heard from any of them in years. After all, he was an out of sight out of mind sort of person.

"You know, the store we just left," Alfred said in a hushed voice.

It was pure luck that their waiter returned at that moment.

"Thank you," Arthur said when she placed the food in front of them. He sighed in relief when Alfred started chowing down his food. It would be another few minutes before the alpha would bring the question up again.

Arthur had friends when he was in community college and at the university, but none of them remained his friend for very long after they had sex. All of his friendships turned into a friends with benefits situation, which Arthur preferred at the time.

Having sex with his friends allowed Arthur to know them on a deeper level, and each new person Arthur was intimate with allowed him to have a better understanding of himself. He loved exploring their bodies and he loved discovering new things that he liked or didn't like sexually.

With his omega friends, they took turns giving each other blowjobs and handjobs while his alpha friends gladly fucked him. There were a few friends who weren't comfortable having sex, so they only had make-out sessions.

He even went to a few orgies, which managed to both be overrated yet immensely enjoyable under the right circumstances. Having an orgy always involved drugs since Arthur didn't enjoy them when he was sober. The same didn't apply to threesomes and foursomes, however. He could do those completely sober and he preferred them to orgies.

Once his friends started to date, which always happened sooner or later, they had to stop being friends with him. Somehow, having sex or even just making out destroyed any boundaries that standard friendships had, which Arthur didn't completely understand.

It was easy for Arthur to sit next to a person he had sex with the day before without having any feelings or urges to touch them in any way. Past encounters didn't tempt him since he never fantasized about people he had sex with. It also helped that he never had sex with his friends when he was in heat. The only people he fucked during his heat were strangers or acquaintances.

Unfortunately, Arthur was the exception and not the rule. Since Arthur was almost always open to having sex, people had a difficult time viewing him as just a platonic friend. His sexual history with his friends created an atmosphere that tempted them to cheat, so simply staying friends with Arthur could sabotage their relationship.

Frankly, it was a really rotten deal. Arthur was very capable of being a good friend. Simply because he had sex with his friends while they were single shouldn't mean that he was condemned to lose them all. He didn't deserve to be penalized because of his friends' inability to keep it in their pants, so to speak. Arthur would never pursue someone who didn't want to be pursued, and he certainly wouldn't go after someone who was in a relationship.

Arthur looked at Alfred and his heart suddenly felt heavy. Alfred could find an omega at any moment. Even though they didn't have sex together, Arthur was sure that Alfred wouldn't stay friends with him if he got into a relationship with another omega. Arthur didn't want to lose Alfred. And if he had to lose him, then he didn't want to lose him without ever having sex with him.

"What? Do I have something on my face?" Alfred asked when he noticed Arthur staring at him.

"No... Just thinking," Arthur said with a sigh.

"Oh yeah! We were talking about your friends," Alfred exclaimed, then he whispered, "Do you usually talk about sex stuff with your friends?"

Arthur slowly ate a bite of food before answering, "I used to... But I suppose I don't have any friends left to be frank."

"What do you mean? What happened?" Alfred asked with concern.

Arthur sighed. "I guess being friends with benefits meant we weren't really friends at all. None of them wanted to stay friends with me once they found their 'soulmate' or whatever. Quite frankly, it's absolute bollocks."

"What about the friends that you didn't have sex with?"

The Brit gave Alfred a look that the alpha didn't seem to understand, so Arthur said, "I had sex with most of my friends, and I snogged the friends I didn't shag. My friendships were never like..." Arthur paused as he looked at Alfred with wide eyes.

It never occurred to him before but this was the longest platonic friendship he ever had with anyone. He never had a friendship like the one he had with Alfred. The things they did together and talked about were things Arthur never shared with anyone else.

"I'm sorry," Alfred said when Arthur didn't finish his sentence. He didn't know what he was about to say, but he didn't need to hear it if it bothered Arthur that much.

"Yeah, well, bloody good riddance to those shites," Arthur grumbled before focusing on eating.

Alfred gave Arthur a sympathetic look but didn't say anything as he resumed eating too.

 


 

Once they were done eating, they walked back to Arthur's apartment. The walk was quiet. Even though the mood was much lighter than it had been earlier, they were both bothered by the conversation they had inside the sex shop and they both had a lot on their mind.

"So," Arthur said, breaking the long silence between them once they reached the apartment. "I would understand if you didn't want to stay during my heat."

"Do you want me to stay?" Alfred asked.

"Only if you want to," Arthur replied. "I don't want to push you to do something you don't want to do."

"I want to," Alfred said even though he knew it was probably foolish to stay with Arthur during his heat, especially after all the information he just learned about the omega.

Although he didn't know how he felt about Arthur being a witch and it made him uncomfortable that Arthur had so many sex partners, it didn't really make him feel any differently toward the omega. The only thing that changed was that Alfred was less confident about how Arthur felt about him.

But Arthur smiled his glowing smile that radiated with joy, and Alfred felt like he could just melt.

Arthur couldn't keep himself from smiling though. He was sure Alfred was going to leave. When Alfred said he was going to stay, Arthur started beaming.

"Well, let's get on then," Arthur said.

Alfred walked up the steps to open the front door for the omega. Arthur gently touched Alfred's arm before walking inside the building.

After they went inside Arthur's apartment, the omega decided to clean his new toy before putting it away. While Alfred was sitting on the couch and watching television, Arthur was in his room attempting to open the package. After a few failed attempts he decided to give up. He walked out to the living room and handed the vibrator to Alfred.

The alpha's face turned beet red as he gave Arthur a look that screamed out "what do you want me to do with that?!"

Arthur rolled his eyes. "Can you open it?

"Can't you use scissors?" Alfred suggested as he leaned back into the couch and away from the toy.

"I don't know where they are," Arthur said. He had a habit of misplacing and losing things.

"Well... can't you open this later?" Alfred asked.

Arthur frowned at the alpha. "Is it really such a big deal? I'm not asking you to use it or to watch me use it or anything. I just need help opening it."

Ignoring the slight feeling of arousal he suddenly felt, Alfred sighed and took the vibrator from the omega. He pulled and turned the edge until the tough plastic started to tear. He managed to open it after a minute of tugging at the ripped ends.

"There you go," Alfred said as he handed the toy back to the omega.

"Do you like how it feels?" Arthur asked as he pushed the toy into Alfred's hand.

The vibrator fumbled around in the alpha's hands as he bounced it like it was a hot potato.

"Don't be so immature," Arthur said while holding back a devilish grin. "Just hold it normally and tell me how it feels."

Alfred exhaled deeply as he held the soft translucent vibrator in his hands. He tried his best not to imagine Arthur using it but failed miserably. "I-It's smooth," Alfred stammered as he handed the toy back to the omega. "H-Here."

Arthur grinned as he took the toy from the alpha. "See, that wasn't so hard. Thanks for getting it out for me."

The omega left to put his new toy away. While Alfred started watching a movie, Arthur stayed in his bedroom to work on the nest until it was done.

It took a while for Arthur to finish building his nest. After a while, he realized there was one small piece missing. While Alfred was watching TV, Arthur snuck into the kitchen. He opened a cabinet and pulled out the tea canister the held the golden ribbon from the gift Alfred gave last month. Sometimes Arthur found himself going to this canister to take out the golden ribbon so he could rub it between his fingers. He wasn't sure why, but he liked to look at it or take it out when he felt stressed or when he missed seeing the alpha.

For whatever reason, Arthur felt a weird compulsion to have the ribbon in his nest somewhere. So he hid the ribbon in his hand and placed the canister back in the cabinet. Then he quietly went back to his bedroom and stared at his nest. He had no idea where the ribbon should go, so he tried placing it everywhere until he found a place that felt right. For Arthur, the best place to keep it was tied to his headboard.

 

Chapter Text

They were watching a movie on the telly when about halfway through Alfred started wincing and stretching out his back. Arthur watched from the corner of his eye as Alfred rolled his shoulders in attempt to relieve the tension.

The omega was sure that the chair at Alfred's job must have caused his back to hurt again. Although Arthur felt bad for him, Alfred was moving so much that the omega could hardly pay attention to anything else.

"Gods," Arthur groaned. "You're moving so much. Turn your back towards me so I can give you a massage."

"It's okay, I'll be fine," Alfred said without looking away from the telly.

"Turn your back toward me," Arthur repeated, except this time his voice was just a touch sterner.

"Oh, uh, okay," Alfred replied as he complied to the omega's order.

Arthur gripped Alfred's shoulders and plunged his fingers into the alpha's tense muscles. He rubbed and kneaded Alfred's shoulders for a minute before his fingers slowly worked down over Alfred's back.

"Lie down," Arthur said, his voice was somehow both shy and commanding. His heart raced when Alfred started to lean forward. There was something exhilarating about making Alfred listen to him.

Arthur stood up so Alfred could completely stretch out on the couch, then Arthur straddled over Alfred's ass.

Alfred blushed deeply and was sure he could feel Arthur's cock and balls pressing down against him. "W-What are you —"

"Shh," Arthur interrupted as he pushed his palms into Alfred's middle and moved them up along the alpha's back. He could practically feel Alfred melt beneath his hands, so he did it all over again and again. Then he started to rub his palms in a circular motion between Alfred's shoulder blades.

"I love that," Alfred softly murmured.

"I know you do," Arthur said a little huskily. The last time Arthur gave Alfred a massage, he remembered each and every place that Alfred seemed to enjoy being touched the most.

Then Arthur slid his hands up before lightly kneading his fingers against Alfred's neck, right over the alpha's scent glands.

"So..." Alfred said to distract himself from how arousing the whole situation was. "I have to find a new housekeeper. I mean, she's not gonna leave yet. She's gonna work for a few months but I'll have to find someone else whenever she decides to leave."

"Why is she leaving?" Arthur asked while rubbing soft little circles into the alpha's neck.

"She's pregnant," Alfred answered.

"Aw, that's wonderful," Arthur exclaimed.

"I know. I'm happy for her but I'll be sad to see her go. She was always super cool. I mean, she never even needed the job. Her wife is like a CEO or something but she just wanted to make her own money or whatever," Alfred said.

Arthur smiled to himself, amazed by how much Alfred always seemed to know about other people who he wasn't even close to.

"I can understand that," Arthur said. "I wouldn't feel comfortable being in a relationship with someone who made all the money. It's nice to have some money of your own to use however you fancy."

"Yeah, totally... Speaking of relationships, how long was your longest relationship?" Alfred asked, unable to resist learning more about the omega after everything he discovered when they went to the sex shop.

Arthur suddenly stopped rubbing Alfred for a few seconds, then he continued with the light massage. "How long was your longest relationship," Arthur deflected.

"Almost two years," Alfred answered without a beat. "You?"

It was a long few seconds later when Arthur answered. "I suppose I haven't really had a relationship."

Alfred started to turn around, but Arthur pushed his weight into Alfred's shoulders to keep the alpha still as he continued massaging the younger man's muscles. It was easier to have this talk without seeing Alfred's face. He didn't want to see any judgement in the American's starry blue eyes.

"But you said you had sex with a lot of people," Alfred said.

"I don't need to be in a relationship with someone to have sex with them," Arthur answered. His eyebrows furrowed when he felt Alfred's muscles begin to tense.

"Well then... how long did you have sex with the same person?" Alfred reluctantly asked.

"I don't see how that's any of your business," Arthur said.

"I mean you totally don't have to tell me... I just wanted to know," Alfred stammered.

Arthur sighed as he thought about the answer. There was a professor at his community college that he had sex with. Arthur had never seen the professor before until the man approached him one day for sex. Alfred probably wouldn't take that sort of information lightly though. Deciding not to share any of these details with the American, Arthur answered, "It's difficult to say..."

Alfred was quiet as Arthur continued rubbing his neck. The omega's moments were slower as he thought of what to say next. Alfred struggled to stay quiet as he waited for Arthur to answer the question.

"Well... we shagged for about seven months in community college... " Arthur said as he trailed his fingers from Alfred's neck down to the alpha's shoulders. He started massaging Alfred's back again as he tried to calculate the duration in his head. "And for maybe two or three months while I was at the university. So I'd say ten months."

"That's like a year," Alfred exclaimed as he leaned up on his forearms and attempted to sit up so he could face Arthur.

"Stay, I'm not done," Arthur said as he tried pushing Alfred down on the couch, but Alfred was much stronger than Arthur. When Alfred started to sit up, Arthur reluctantly got off the alpha's back.

"You slept with the same person for a year?" Alfred remarked.

"Ten months," Arthur corrected before defensively asking, "And what of it?"

"Sorry, I didn't mean to be so... you know," Alfred apologized when he realized his reaction offended the omega. "I just wasn't expecting that answer."

"And what exactly were you expecting?" Arthur huffed.

"I don't know. Not a year though," Alfred cautiously said.

"It wasn't a year, it was ten months — maybe less, actually," Arthur corrected again. "It's not like we shagged every bleeding day. It was just when he asked me to have sex. Sometimes it was once a week, other times it was once a month. We went years without shagging when I transferred to the university."

"Did you miss him?" Alfred asked, trying to have a better understanding of what this man meant to Arthur.

"Not at all," Arthur answered honestly.

"But you had sex with him for so long. Are you really saying you didn't have any kind of feelings for him?" Alfred asked in disbelief.

"That's exactly what I'm saying. Even if we had sex everyday it wouldn't have meant anything. It was just sex. He was just an easy shag who introduced me to a lot of new things," Arthur said with a shrug.

"Sex things?" Alfred asked meekly.

"Yes," Arthur answered flatly.

"So it was a, uh, friends with benefits thing?" Alfred asked, still unable to wrap his head around the arrangement.

"We weren't friends. He was just some bloke I shagged," Arthur said. He was going to leave it at that but Alfred just looked so lost, so Arthur decided to explain a bit further. "It was simple with him. There weren't any strings attached so I didn't have to care about his feelings or anything. It was just sex and free meals. I didn't have to contact him after we were done, which I fancied. And I didn't care if I ever saw him again afterwards, which I fancied even more. It's just so much easier to be with someone you don't care about."

"I just... I don't understand that," Alfred said while rolling his shoulders. "How can it be easier to be in a relationship with someone you don't love?"

"I suppose it was what I needed at the time," Arthur said. "And it wasn't a relationship and you know how I feel about love. It's just nice to be with someone without feeling tied down to them. If they leave then it doesn't really hurt. If I leave then I don't care about his feelings. It's just better when feelings aren't involved."

Alfred avoided looking at Arthur as he processed the information he just got. After a moment he reluctantly asked, "Did he have feelings for you?"

"I don't know. The question never crossed my mind. I suppose I never cared enough to wonder," Arthur answered in earnest. "Probably not though. He was a free spirit, you know? The sort who doesn't get locked down to one person. I suppose that was why it went on for as long as it did. I never worried that he would ask to be in a serious relationship with me. I mean, who needs that bullocks?"

Alfred was quiet when he asked, "Are you sure you wouldn't have wanted more if he had asked?"

"Gods, no," Arthur laughed. "What is with all these questions?"

"I don't know. Just curious I guess," Alfred mumbled as he reached his arm over his shoulder so he could rub his back.

Arthur gave Alfred a small smile. "Come on. I haven't finished with you yet. You'll feel better once I'm done with the massage."

Alfred gave Arthur a warm smile that made the Brit's heart flutter. Then Alfred turned around so the omega could continue rubbing his back. It didn't take long for Alfred to start to relax under Arthur's touch. The anxiousness in his scent soon disappeared and returned back to normal.

Feeling Alfred begin to relax made Arthur feel relaxed too. He leaned forward a bit and enjoyed the alpha's scent as he plunged his fingers into Alfred's muscles. There was a moment when Arthur felt compelled to kiss Alfred, but he sat up straighter and continued the massage.

 


 

Arthur's heat started the next day. He could still smell Alfred's scent thick on his fingers from when he massaged the scent glands on the alpha's neck. So Arthur kept one hand over his face so he can inhale the alpha's scent while he used his other hand to pump the vibrator he bought with Alfred in and out of his hole that was drenched with heat slick.

Since Alfred was at work, Arthur was able to turn the vibrator on its highest setting. Being able to smell Alfred's scent while he wanked allowed Arthur to orgasm easily, over and over again.

His hand which was holding the vibrator was soaked in his own slick. After reaching another orgasm, he brought his slick covered hand to his face and smelled it. He purred instinctually from smelling his own scent mixed with Alfred's scent.

When Alfred got to Arthur's flat later that night, Arthur wanted nothing more than to kiss Alfred and feel the alpha pump his cock inside him. The need to feel Alfred's knot was even stronger than usual, but somehow Arthur managed to focus on cooking dinner with the alpha.

The next day, Arthur was dismayed to find that Alfred's scent had disappeared from his hands. Although he was still able to climax, it felt empty and unsatisfying without Alfred's scent.

Then a thought occurred to Arthur. It was a very appealing thought that he wished he didn't think of.

"Sod it," Arthur said as he got up from his nest. He walked to the living room and lied down on the couch, burying his face in the pillow. The couch, sheets, and pillow that Alfred slept on smelled like the American, much to Arthur's delight.

Arthur really loved the way Alfred smelled, the alpha's heady scent was intoxicating. Alfred slept on the couch so often that it smelled more like Alfred than anything else, much to Arthur's delight. The omega started to purr as he rolled around the alpha's scent. All he wanted was to be engulfed in Alfred's scent, but the way his cock throbbed made Arthur realized that it wasn't enough.

The omega squirmed uncomfortably on the couch as he tried to ignore the urge to touch himself. Taking a deep breath, Arthur inhaled more of Alfred's scent which both calmed and excited him. Arthur lied on his back and stared at the other end of the couch, wishing that Alfred was sitting there.

Reaching down, Arthur placed his hand over his hard cock that slowly pushed up against his panties until it started to slip free from the skimpy garment. Arthur let out a trembling breath as he resisted stroking his hardening length, but all he could visualize was Alfred watching him from the other end of the couch.

Arthur traced his fingers up and down the clothed base of his cock as he felt himself begin to leak. Slick was starting to seep out of his ass as he thought about what Alfred would do.

Of course Arthur knew what Alfred would do, but his heat allowed him to imagine Alfred climbing over him and plowing his cock deep inside his hungry slick drenched hole.

"Fuck," Arthur whined as he forced himself to sit up. As much as he wanted to masturbate while being surrounded by Alfred's scent, he couldn't bring himself to do it. When he stood up he realized that some of his slick had left a wet spot on one of the sheets.

Arthur pulled the one sheet from the rest and brought it with him to his nest.

 

Chapter Text

Arthur pulled off his soaked panties the moment he got in his nest. He pulled the sheet, which he had accidentally leaked on when he was lying on the couch, over himself until he was completely covered. Then he pulled the sheet up so he could bunch the soft fabric over his nose so he could inhale Alfred's scent. His cock jumped from the alpha's smell.

Alfred's scent made Arthur's cock stretch further up against the sheet. Reaching down, Arthur closed the sheet around his erect cock and started to fist his erection until his slick spilled out.

As the week went on, Arthur continued to use the sheet to wank off with since it never lost Alfred's scent. There were moments when Arthur was riding out his orgasms that he almost thought that Alfred was actually there with him. In those moments, he felt pleasure rip through him as he vividly imagined Alfred being on top of him, touching him, kissing him, fucking him.

This was probably why when Arthur's heat ended he suddenly had the urge to distance himself from Alfred. Although he continued having lunch with the American, he couldn't help but withdraw from him. Everything was becoming too difficult. Being friends was too difficult. Arthur wanted to feel Alfred's touch, he wanted to kiss him and be kissed by him, he wanted to be fucked by him and he didn't care where or how.

Arthur found it difficult to continue talking to Alfred so he didn't say much during their lunches if he said anything at all. He started declining offers to hang out with Alfred on the weekends, claiming to be too busy or tired. Both excuses technically weren't lies but the whole truth was that Arthur could have seen Alfred if he could have handled being around Alfred as just a platonic friend.

Although the rest of March went by agonizingly slow to Alfred thanks to Arthur's sudden change in behavior, the month sped by for Arthur.

The day before Arthur's heat started, they met up at lunch as they always did at work. Alfred seemed a little down, which Arthur was getting used to and he hated that he was getting used to this side of Alfred. He missed the American's sunny smile and cheery disposition. Anything less than that just seemed... wrong.

It wasn't just how Alfred looked or acted, it was the alpha's scent too. Arthur was intimately familiar with Alfred's scent now and could easily pick out the lightest hint of it from anywhere. Yet, Alfred's scent smelled so faint that Arthur could barely smell Alfred's scent at all. People's scents often became dull when they were sad and all but disappeared when they were depressed, so Arthur felt awful that he was the cause of this.

They sat in silence for another few minutes before Arthur timidly asked, "May I ask a personal question?"

"Sure," Alfred said. He was surprised to hear Arthur speak at all but this wasn't reflected in his voice or facial expressions. His voice was almost hollow.

"How is it that you only shagged two people?" Arthur asked. He was sure that this was not the time to ask such a question but it had been on his mind all month.

Alfred's cheeks started to flush. The question was so unexpected that it snapped Alfred out of his mood. "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious," the Brit said. He had a difficult time concentrating today, more so than he usually did before his heat started. Despite how fuzzy his thoughts were, this was the only thing he could think about all day. "All the alphas I ever met had sex with at least five people, and many of them weren't half as attractive as you are. I just, I don't understand it."

Alfred groaned from the question but blushed from the compliment. He figured it was fair to answer honestly since he had recently learned so much about the omega.

"I, um... There's something I guess I should probably tell you," Alfred started. He fidgeted in his seat as he tried to muster up the courage to continue. "I, um, well... I've given and received handjobs and oral but... I've never had 'sex' sex."

Arthur's eyes widened from shock. "So you're actually a virgin?"

"I don't like to call myself that but yeah..." Alfred reluctantly answered. It was almost unheard of for an alpha to be a virgin in their twenties.

"But you said —"

"I didn't lie before. It's true that I was with two people," Alfred interrupted. "They were both male omegas. We did stuff together but never anal."

"Why not?" Arthur asked. "You were able to do everything else. What stopped you from doing that?"

"I wasn't in love with either of them," Alfred answered. "It just felt like a waste of time when I was with them so I didn't want to give even more of myself to them."

"Maybe you would have enjoyed it more if you were having sex for the pleasure of it instead of wanting it to result in love or a relationship," Arthur suggested.

"I don't think so. Doing sexual stuff with someone I didn't love or feel strongly about made me feel like I was losing myself, if that makes any sense. Like it was ripping pieces out of me," Alfred described, feeling uncomfortable when Arthur's eyebrows lowered. He couldn't tell if the omega was judging him. "Sure, the stuff we did was enjoyable but it also made me feel empty... and sad."

Arthur bit his lip as he decided whether he should ask his next question. Since his last heat was so difficult and his next heat was just hours away, he decided to risk any awkwardness his question might cause.

"You said once that you have strong feelings for me," Arthur said cautiously. He licked his lips as he thought over the best way to say the next part. "So... couldn't we do those things?"

"Those things?" Alfred repeated. "What things?

"You know... blowjobs, handjobs, and all," Arthur answered.

A mixture of arousal and pain appeared over Alfred's expression as he stared at Arthur. The omega immediately regretted asking the question but he really couldn't help himself. He had felt oddly propelled to ask it.

"I..." Alfred said slowly as he tried to steady his feelings. His chest was tight and pain was quickly spreading through it. "I couldn't do those things with you."

"Why not? We don't have to go any further than that," Arthur said.

"Because you said you didn't think you could ever fall in love unless —"

"I know what I said. Why does it matter so much to you?" Arthur asked.

"Because I, because I'm," Alfred stopped himself before he could say that he was in love with Arthur. He cleared his throat before sternly saying, "Because it does."

After a few minutes of grueling silence Alfred decided to change the topic. The only thing he could think to talk about was the weather. Normally, Arthur really loved talking about the weather but he had something else on his mind. He tapped his fingers against the table as he drummed up the courage to ask Alfred another question.

"So... my heat starts tomorrow."

"Yeah...?"

"Can you come over again?" Arthur asked.

Alfred hesitated to answer. Part of him eagerly wanted to say yes. He loved spending time with Arthur and he got to spend so much extra time with the omega when he was in heat. Just the thought of being able to spend another week with Arthur made Alfred's heart pound with excitement.

Yet, another part of him worried that any interest the omega had in him may have been strictly sexual. Those were the kinds of relationships Arthur was used to and that Arthur seemed to prefer. What if all the small gestures and actions that Alfred viewed as budding love were actually just signs of Arthur's sexual interest/attraction and platonic affection?

Still, the fact that Arthur was inviting him over during his heat again could only be a good sign. Arthur knew that they weren't going to have sex, yet the omega wanted Alfred there during his most vulnerable days. That had to mean something. Maybe Arthur didn't love Alfred yet but there must have been something there. There had to be some kind of feeling that could grow into love.

All Arthur needed was time. The omega specifically said so himself the first time he invited Alfred over on his heat. Time was something that Alfred was more than willing to give.

So Alfred finally answered, "Of course. I'll totally be there."

Relief seemed to wash over Arthur's face as his lips stretched into a smile. Alfred had taken so long to answer that he thought the alpha was going to say no. Arthur wasn't sure why the thought of that made him panic but he supposed it didn't matter since he would be seeing Alfred after all.

Arthur's heat started a little early, hitting him hard late that Tuesday night. It was the first time in a while that he went twenty-four hours without Alfred during his heat and it was surprisingly awful. He felt out of sorts, moody, and extremely anxious.

Had he always felt that way before during his heat? Or was his heat just that much easier with Alfred around? Arthur couldn't know for sure but he was constantly on edge. He even felt frustrated whenever he tossed off during the day on Wednesday.

Not having Alfred there made everything worse, so he was thrilled to see the alpha Wednesday night. He rushed to the door and leapt on the larger man, wrapping his legs around Alfred's legs as he hugged him tightly, completely disregarding the fact that his cock was fully erect and was pressed against the alpha as he embraced him. He buried his face in Alfred's neck and took in his scent.

There was something about Alfred's scent that both aroused and relaxed the omega. He missed having Alfred's scent in his home, especially now that he was in heat. Arthur had felt even more anxious since he couldn't breathe the alpha's scent in that day, which was why he was now nuzzling his nose against Alfred's hair behind the alpha's ear. He could feel himself relaxing almost instantly from the alpha's smell.

Alfred could feel the tenseness leave most of the omega's body as he seemed to melt over him, sinking against Alfred's body. Alfred placed his hands on Arthur's thighs to keep the omega from sliding off him. He gulped as he tried to ignore Arthur's hot breath on his ear and the feeling of the Brit's hard cock against him.

It was always difficult to resist kissing and fucking the omega, but in this moment Alfred feared he might cave into his urges. Instead of getting easier, these sleepovers during Arthur's heat were becoming more challenging.

Somehow, the scent of Arthur's heat seemed to be getting stronger with each passing month. It was impossible to ignore because it now lingered on Alfred's clothes after he left Arthur's apartment. Alfred found that he needed to jerk off more often to release his bent up sexual urges before seeing the omega. But he deeply felt that it would all be worth it.

"I'm happy you're here," Arthur said into Alfred's ear which made the alpha shiver.

Alfred, no longer able to handle feeling the omega's erection against him, gently set Arthur on the ground. "Sorry I couldn't come earlier," Alfred said. He gently ran his fingers through Arthur's hair and the omega leaned into his touch. His hand slid down until it was cupping Arthur's cheek. Arthur turned his head and was about to kiss the palm of Alfred's hand, but Alfred pulled his hand away before Arthur could.

"Hungry?" the American asked.

"Starved." Arthur could barely leave his nest today so he didn't eat much more than one meal.

Alfred knew where everything was in the kitchen so he made them grilled cheese sandwiches while Arthur sat at the dining table and watched. It wasn't anything fancy but it was more than Alfred was able to make two months ago. He managed to melt the cheese without burning the bread. Somehow he used to burn the bread without melting the cheese during his first few attempts when he made them at home.

The alpha set the stack of grilled cheeses on a plate and placed it on the table. He smiled as Arthur took a sandwich and took a bite.

"Mmm, this is good," Arthur complimented.

Alfred blushed a bit. "Thanks. I've been practicing cooking since we watched that fast food documentary."

Arthur held back a grin. He wouldn't exactly call making a grilled cheese sandwich "cooking", but he was proud of Alfred for trying to learn. At least it was a step up from most fast foods.

After they finished eating, Alfred went to put on a movie. As he was deciding what movie they should watch, he asked if Arthur had any games. He meant video games when he asked this but the only games Arthur had were board games. It had been years since Alfred played any board games, so he looked through the collection Arthur had stacked on the floor in the closet by the bathroom.

"Is this checkers?" Alfred asked as he lifted up the old box. "I haven't played this since I was a kid! And you have connect four? How long have you had these?"

"Since I moved in," Arthur chuckled. "I found them here when I moved here."

"Are there any games you feel like playing?" Alfred asked.

The game at the top of the stack stood out to Arthur. "How about Scrabble?"

"Oh, yeah, sure," Alfred said. "Can we play Checkers too?"

"We can play Checkers first," Arthur said with a smile.

They played a game of Checkers, then they played a game of Scrabble before Alfred needed to call it a night. Alfred brought a deck of cards the next night for them to play. Then they watched a movie before bed. Every day during Arthur's heat they did their best to ignore each other's arousing scents. Instead, they played games and watched movies.

During the last movie, Arthur had fallen asleep. His head had slumped down from Alfred's shoulder down to his chest. Alfred smiled as he looked down at the omega.

"Art?" Alfred said. He gently nudged the arm that he had around Arthur's back to stir the omega awake.

Arthur wasn't a deep sleeper, but since he had such a stressful day and hardly got any sleep the night before, he was knocked out.

Alfred carefully slid his free arm under Arthur's legs, then pulled the omega into his lap. It was tempting to stay like this, especially when Arthur cuddled closer and nuzzled his head against Arthur's chest. Arthur was so warm, and Alfred loved the feeling of holding the omega in his arms.

After gazing down at the omega for a few minutes, Alfred let out a long sigh before forcing himself to stand. Alfred walked past the kitchen and down the hall, which seemed much longer than usual, until he reached the omega's room. He lightly kicked the door open and walked toward the nest. Then he gently set Arthur down in the center.

Arthur whined in his sleep the moment he was out of Alfred's arms. The omega shifted around as he tried to get comfortable. Alfred pulled off the shirt he was wearing and placed it over Arthur's shoulders. Before he could cover the omega with a sheet, Arthur shifted in his sleep as he grabbed the shirt and wrapped his arms around it as he hugged it to his face.

Alfred let out a noiseless laugh and proceeded to cover the omega with a thin sheet.

While he was still hunched over the omega, he hesitated before letting himself brush Arthur's hair. The omega sighed and relaxed against his touch. Alfred traced his hand lower to gently caress Arthur's cheek.

"I love you," Alfred whispered before he moved away from the nest. He watched the omega for a moment longer before leaving the room, closing the door behind him.

Chapter Text

The second Thursday after the omega's heat ended was Arthur's birthday. He didn't usually celebrate his birthday, at least not in a way that anyone would consider to be a celebration. The most he did was dedicate several hours to read on the week of his birthday, and that was it. But this was something that Arthur really enjoyed doing and he was hoping he could do it again this year.

Soon it was lunch and for once Alfred was there several minutes before Arthur. Alfred was smiling so broadly that Arthur could clearly see it from a distance. He felt a fluttering feeling in his chest as he approached the alpha. The moment he sat down across from Alfred, the alpha loudly cheered, "Happy birthday!"

Arthur blushed lightly. He didn't recall telling Alfred when his birthday was, but he figured the alpha must had gotten the information from his social media profile. They initially met just over a year ago. Maybe Arthur mentioned it in passing.

"Cheers," Arthur said with a soft smile.

"Do you have any plans this weekend?" Alfred asked excitedly.

Arthur shrugged. If it were possible, Arthur would have sworn that Alfred smiled even wider.

"Great! I know you don't like surprises, so I'm going to tell you instead," Alfred said. He had Arthur's full attention now. "I was thinking we could spend the weekend at the beach. We could get a hotel in Boston and go to one of the beaches on Cape Cod."

Arthur cringed slightly. "I don't know, Al..."

"That's not the best part," Alfred continued. "Since we'll be in Boston, we could visit the Boston Public Library. It's the -"

"Second biggest library in the country," they said together in unison.

"Are you serious?" Arthur asked, feeling more excited about the idea.

Alfred nodded. "And you can bring your book to read on the beach."

"Will you be okay with me reading all day?" Arthur asked. Although it was Alfred's suggestion, Arthur found that people often suggested things that they didn't want to happen. It was more the idea that counted to those people than the followthrough.

"Of course," Alfred answered so confidently that Arthur felt reassured. "It's your birthday weekend. You can do anything you want!"

"Okay," Arthur said, unable to contain his excitement. "Let's do it!"

Arthur wasn't able to take off that Friday, so they didn't leave until Saturday morning. Alfred arrived early in the morning, just after seven o'clock. The alpha met Arthur at his door and insisted on carrying the omega's suitcase downstairs. Arthur said he could handle it himself, but Alfred took the suitcase from him.

Usually, this would have bothered Arthur, but it was early and he honestly didn't want to carry the suitcase anyway. The only thing he carried was his stainless steel tea tumbler. Arthur made sure his door was locked before he followed the alpha down the stairs. As Arthur watched Alfred carry the suitcase into the BMW, he couldn't keep himself from smiling. He couldn't believe that they were actually doing this.

Arthur got in the passenger seat and turned toward the empty driver's seat. The moment Alfred sat in the car, Arthur pulled the alpha to him and gave him a tight hug.

"Good morning to you too," Alfred said with a grin as he held the omega close to him. The hug lasted for a while before Arthur pulled away.

"Haha, yeah, good morning," Arthur said back as he resisted the urge to kiss the alpha.

"Have everything?" Alfred asked, and Arthur nodded. "Got your book?" Arthur nodded again. "Great! Let's get going."

The drive to Massachusetts was long. At the first rest stop they reached, Alfred asked if Arthur wanted to drive.

"No," Arthur said briskly.

"Oh, okay. Do you think you can drive once we're halfway there?" Alfred asked. "It would probably be nice to get a break."

"Going on holiday for my birthday was your idea," Arthur stated almost bitterly. "If I knew you would want me to drive then I never would have agreed to this holiday."

Alfred started to panic. "No, no, it's totally cool, I can totally do all the driving, okay? It's no problem at all."

"Good," Arthur said as his anger seemed to evaporate.

The rest of the drive went smoothly, and Arthur acted as if he never had the outburst at all. Alfred decided to forget about the outburst too. It was a quarter past two in the afternoon when they arrived. They would have gotten there an hour sooner if they didn't drive to a rest stop to eat or use the restroom. Neither of them was in a rush though, and they were happy when they arrived at the hotel.

Alfred had called in when they were almost there to see if they could check-in early. Luckily, their room was ready early for them so they didn't have to kill time before going to the hotel. Alfred carried their suitcases inside and Arthur checked them in at the front desk. Across the front desk was a "Treat Shop", which was basically a mini convenience shop. As they walked to the elevator they passed a large dining area.

"We can get our complimentary breakfast there in the morning," Alfred said.

"Perfect. Do you know what type of breakfast they offer?" Arthur asked.

Alfred looked up in the air as he tried to remember what he read on the website. "Waffles, muffins, bagels, yogurt, juice, tea, and coffee," Alfred said with a grin. He almost wished it was breakfast already so he could make himself some waffles.

"Too bad they don't have any donuts," Arthur teased the alpha with a smirk.

The alpha simply rolled his eyes but grinned regardless. He was happy that they were actually here together. It was a year ago this month that Alfred met Arthur and he would have never guessed that they would be going on a trip like this just a year later.

They made it to their room after a few minutes. The suite was large, nearly the size of Arthur's whole apartment unit. The closest thing to them was a medium compact silver refrigerator that was against the wall to the left. On the counter on the right to the refrigerator was a black microwave. As they stepped further into the space, there was an open door to the right that led into the bathroom. Further ahead, there was a large window in the back with floral patterned curtains. Near it was a red couch.

Across the couch was a long wooden TV stand with a 32" television sitting on top. Instead of having shelves like the TV stand Alfred had, it had two cabinet doors. There was a small wooden desk on either side of the TV stand.

Next to the couch, across the television, was their bed. It was a large king size bed with white sheets, four white pillows and one red pillow that sat between the two pairs of pillows. On the end of the bed was a folded red sheet that spread across the bed.

Alfred blushed when he saw the one bed. "They made a mistake. I specifically asked for two queens."

"Sure you did," Arthur said, unsure of whether he was frustrated because he thought Alfred reserved a room with one bed for them or because the hotel was the one that made the mistake.

"I'll fix this," Alfred remarked. Arthur almost stopped him from going to the lobby, but what was the point?

Arthur took out his book and got comfortable on the couch. It didn't take long for him to get absorbed in the book. Although Arthur wasn't claustrophobic, he could really relate to the main character in the story. Being around people made Arthur feel similar to the way the main character felt in enclosed spaces. Arthur found it interesting how he always had something in common with the characters this author wrote about.

Alfred didn't come back for twenty minutes. Arthur was able to read eleven pages in that time.

"Sorry that took so long," Alfred said as he walked back inside the suite. He felt more relaxed when he saw that Arthur had been reading instead of waiting for him. With a sigh, he sat down on the foot of the bed and stretched his legs out.

"What are you doing?" Arthur asked, panic in his voice.

"Huh?" Alfred asked in confusion.

"Your shoes are on the bed," Arthur said, almost horrified. "Do you have any idea how dirty shoes are?"

"I don't think it's such a big deal, Art," Alfred said with a small frown.

"It really bothers me when people get their shoes on furniture. Can you please just... not?" Arthur asked.

Alfred inhaled slowly before complying. He scooted forward until his shoes were no longer on the bed. "Better?"

"Much." After a pause, Arthur said, "So...?"

Alfred furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "So, what?"

"What did they say?" Arthur asked.

"Oh, that! Yeah, no luck there," Alfred said with a frown. "All the rooms with two beds are out of my price range."

Arthur closed the book and stood up. "How much more is it? I can pay the difference if it's that important to you..."

Alfred scoffed. "It was like eighty extra per night."

"Oh... Well — would it be so awful sharing a bed?" Arthur asked, hiding the hurt he felt from his voice. "If you can survive a week with me during my heat, I'm sure sharing a bed together this weekend won't kill you..."

"I guess you're right," Alfred said with a small grin. "Fine, we'll stay here. Do you feel like going to the library now or later?"

Arthur pulled out his phone and looked at the time. "It closes at five, right? Yeah, let's go now."

They left their hotel room and went to the car. It only took them thirty-five minutes to get there and another fifteen minutes to find a parking space that wasn't a mile walk away. As they circled around the building to find a space, Arthur couldn't stop looking at the library from the window. It was a massive building with beautiful arches in the windows.

It took them less than fifteen minutes to walk to the building. The moment the stepped inside, Arthur's breath was taken away from the beauty of the interior architecture. The ceiling was arched like a tunnel.

While Arthur was staring at the ceiling, Alfred couldn't keep himself from looking at the omega. Arthur seemed so happy. Alfred never knew books and buildings could impress someone so much. He stepped next to the omega and placed his hand on the small of his back.

"Oh, Alfie, it's so beautiful here," Arthur whispered.

Alfred loved when Arthur called him that. It was moments like this that Alfred wanted to tell the omega how much he loved him. Instead, he forced himself to stop gazing at Arthur and looked at the colossal room instead.

The omega stared at the ceiling and the walls for another few minutes before he was ready for them to move on. The first thing they did was check out the exhibits. The first exhibit they went to see was We Are One: Mapping America's Road from Revolution to Independence. In this exhibit were paintings, objects, sixty maps and forty prints that all traced American history starting from the French and Indian War to the beginning of America's new national government.

Alfred, ironically, had no interest in this exhibit but followed behind Arthur as the omega read each and every description card. The alpha quickly glanced over the maps that they saw without looking any further unless the omega pointed something out in one.

There was an engraving of Boston from 1776 that caught Alfred's interest. He leaned in close to the framed photo to get a better look at the engravings. It was a beautiful view of Boston with hills, trees, marshes, and a lot of other details.

"Hey, Artie, check this out," Alfred called out quietly. Arthur left the map he had been looking at to stand next to the alpha. "Look, there's tiny little sheep in this one."

Arthur smiled to himself. "Yeah, they're cute. Do you see the ships in the back?"

Alfred nodded.

They continued on in the exhibit. There was a portrait of Paul Revere holding his chin with the thumb and index finger of his right hand. Alfred stood next to the painting and mimicked the pose, making Arthur giggle.

After they finished that exhibit, they went through three more exhibits. The last exhibit they saw was "Literary Landscapes: Maps from Fiction". This was the only exhibit Alfred actually liked. There was a drawing of a map of Narnia and a realistic looking map of Middle Earth.

"This one has Peter Pan in it! And there's Wendy and her brothers," Alfred exclaimed when he saw a map of Neverland.

Arthur smiled at the alpha. "Did you see these fairy tale books?" There were four books, each looked like they were illustrated in gold. Alfred looked at each one.

"This is cool," Alfred whispered. He wished he could touch it, which was probably why the books were behind a glass case.

With an hour left before closing, Arthur went to look through the collection of books while he still had the chance. Alfred wasn't very interested in the books but didn't want to rush the omega, so he took a random one and idly flipped through it to pass the time. They left once the library was preparing to close.

Alfred grinned as he looked at Arthur. "What do you want to do next?"

"It's too early for dinner," Arthur answered, then he asked, "What do you want to do?"

"There's a park near here. We could go there and check out the public garden and Boston Common," Alfred suggested.

Arthur wrapped his arm around Alfred's arm and leaned against him. "Lead the way."

 

Chapter Text

Being able to look at the trees and walk around in the crisp air was more than refreshing for Alfred after they had spent so many hours surrounded by books. Arthur walked close to the alpha and leaned his side against Alfred which the American enjoyed a lot. He was tempted to wrap his arm around Arthur's waist but resisted since that was something platonic friends didn't usually do. Although Alfred guessed that platonic friends didn't cuddle together either.

Alfred started to move arm behind Arthur and was about to place his hand on him when the omega suddenly stopped walking when he saw a sculpture of a duck with several little ducklings behind it. Fortunately, Alfred managed to bring his hand behind his own back before touching Arthur.

"Cute," Arthur commented as he pulled out his phone and took a picture of the sculpture. "Do you want me to take a photo of you with it?"

Alfred shook his head. "No, that's okay."

"Can you take one of me then?" Arthur requested as he placed his phone in Alfred's hand.

Arthur squatted down next to one of the ducklings and smiled in such a cute and almost timid way that Alfred's heart started to race. He loved when Arthur was happy like this.

Alfred took the picture then quickly turned around to take a selfie with Arthur and the sculpture in the background.

"I thought you didn't want your photo taken," Arthur remarked as he took the phone from the alpha.

"I didn't want to be alone in the picture," Alfred explained. "I don't like being alone in pictures. I hope you don't mind?"

"Of course I don't but why don't you like to be alone in photos?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shrugged. "I don't know... I always feel awkward and I never know how to pose."

"Hm... That's good to know," Arthur mumbled while looking down at his phone. It was the first picture they had ever taken together. He wished he had initially asked for them to take the picture together so they could have been next to each other. Of course, Arthur knew he could ask to take another picture together since they were still by the sculpture but he couldn't bring himself to. "Come on, let's keep going."

"Okay," Alfred said with a smile. "Mind sending me the pic?"

"Oh, yeah, sure," Arthur said as he went to text Alfred the photo.

Then they started walking again. It was about a minute later when Alfred took out his phone and opened the message the moment it arrived. The photo was really cute. Alfred had a surprised or annoyed look on his face — it was a little difficult to tell since Arthur often furrowed his eyebrows even when he wasn't upset. Meanwhile, Alfred was grinning a little too widely and half of his face didn't make it in the photo.

Maybe it wasn't the most perfect picture but Alfred loved it anyway. Alfred always wanted to take pictures with Arthur but never asked to because of the feelings he had toward the Englishman. He always thought that they looked like a couple whenever he caught their reflections together in a window or mirror, so Alfred was afraid that it would be difficult to look at any pictures they took together since they weren't dating. But this picture was easy to look at because it was fun and silly and they weren't next to each other.

"Got it, thanks," Alfred said after staring at the image for a moment too long.

"Brilliant," Arthur said.

They continued walking side-by-side for a while and looked at everything they walked past. Then Alfred felt Arthur's fingers brush against his own. His heart started pounding as his whole body became hot. He was sure it was an accident but it still stirred something within him.

Ignoring how he felt, Alfred stared hard at the path ahead of them as they continued walking through the park. The sun was starting to set so the sky was filled with vibrant hues of blue, yellow, orange, and red. As they looked at the sky while they walked, their fingers brushed again several more times.

Arthur wasn't sure if Alfred was doing it intentionally or if they were just walking too close together but he didn't mind when he felt Alfred's fingers. Yet, it was starting to frustrate him because each time he felt Alfred's hand knock against his own or Alfred's knuckles brush against his, Arthur's heart started to race because he thought that maybe, just maybe, Alfred was about to hold his hand.

But Alfred never did.

"It's getting dark... we should get out of here," Arthur said moments later. "I'm starting to feel a bit peckish... Should we get some grub?"

"You totally just read my mind," Alfred exclaimed as he patted his belly. "What do you wanna eat?"

"Let's just walk around and see," Arthur suggested.

"Cool. Sounds good to me," Alfred said.

They left the park and walked around the vicinity until they found a restaurant that served food that appealed to them both. Since they were both tired from the day they had so far, they didn't speak much while they ate but it felt nice since they really enjoyed each other's company. Once they left the restaurant, it was completely dark.

"Do you feel like driving?" Alfred asked when they got back to the car.

"I don't like to drive," Arthur answered as he went to the passenger side.

"Okay," Alfred said. He got into the car and drove them to the hotel. It was a quiet ride. Arthur stared out the window while Alfred focused on the road.

"So... what now?" Alfred asked when they got to their room. It was late but not late enough to go to sleep. There was still time to do something else if Arthur wanted to.

"I think I'm going to take a shower and read a bit if that's okay," Arthur said.

"Of course! It's your birthday weekend. You can do anything you want," Alfred said with a bright smile. "They have a gym and swimming pool downstairs that's open twenty-four seven. I'll just check them out while you're reading."

Arthur furrowed his eyebrows a bit as he stared at Alfred. He didn't really believe that the American would be okay with him reading during their holiday. It was a very pleasant surprise that almost made Arthur tear up.

The Brit walked up to Alfred and pulled the larger man into a hug. He stayed in the embrace for a long moment before pulling away. "Sounds good. See you when you get back."

Alfred was still blushing from the unexpected hug. He didn't know what he did to spur on the sudden display of affection but he certainly wasn't complaining. With a smile he simply said, "Yeah."

The alpha grabbed his swim trunks and placed it in a plastic grocery store bag he had been reusing for weeks. Then he left. Once he was gone, Arthur decided to save the shower for later. He took off his shoes, picked up his book, and lied on the bed. There was a tiny scrap piece of paper the marked where he left off. He opened the book to the pages it was between and began reading.

It was several hours later when Alfred came back. He would have stayed out longer except it was nearly midnight and he was feeling exhausted. Alfred smirked when he noticed that Arthur was wearing the same clothes.

"Dived straight into reading, huh?" Alfred asked.

Arthur smirked too. "Just couldn't help myself," Arthur said without looking up from his book.

Alfred walked to the bed and leaned over until he was able to read the title.

"Keep Me In Your Heart Even If I Run," Alfred quietly read aloud. "Is this the one about the claustrophobic omega?"

"Yep," Arthur said as he fought back a smile. He was surprised that Alfred remembered. It was a month ago when Arthur briefly described the book to the alpha and they hadn't spoken about it since.

"Cool," Alfred mumbled. Deciding it was probably better to let Arthur continue reading, Alfred said, "Well... I'm gonna go take a shower."

"Sounds good," Arthur said without looking away from the book.

Alfred grabbed some clothes from his suitcase and went in the bathroom to start the shower. The moment Arthur heard the water running, he set down his book to look toward the bathroom. This was the nicest trip he had ever been on. He never thought he could enjoy himself so much around another person. The only thing that wasn't perfect about the trip was that they weren't a couple.

That was a strange and frightening notion for Arthur to have. There was no way to know if he'd feel the same in a week or month from now but it was how he felt at the moment. Before the trip happened, he was simply upset that they weren't having sex. Yet, as little as he regarded relationships, he actually would have preferred being in one with the alpha right now.

It was becoming increasingly more difficult for Arthur to keep himself from touching Alfred. He might have been content if all they did was cuddle and held hands, although he wanted to do much more than that because of course Arthur still wanted to have sex with Alfred.

But even that felt different than usual. It wasn't just a yearning to feel Alfred's cock pound deep inside him and to be fucked into a moaning mess until he hit his orgasm again and again. This time he just wanted to be close to the American, to breathe him in, to shower the alpha with kisses while caressing every inch of him.

It was all very confusing for the omega.

His thoughts were interrupted when Alfred walked out of the bathroom. Alfred's hair was wet and sticking to his face. His chest must have been a little wet still because the white tee that clung to him was almost transparent. Arthur's eyes glanced lower to the alpha's crotch. He was wearing shorts with a superhero logo printed over it. It wasn't tight but Arthur could still make out the bulge of the alpha's cock.

Arthur exhaled deeply and looked back down at his book.

"Your turn," Alfred said as he sat down on the bed beside Arthur. He lied down on his back and turned on the television.

Arthur got up and brought his suitcase into the loo with him. He shut the door before turning on the shower, then he got undressed. The steam from the shower filled the room and all Arthur could smell was Alfred's scent. He closed his eyes and breathed it in. When he opened his eyes again, he noticed a used towel hanging on the back of the door. It was the towel Alfred had used. Arthur bit his lip as he stared at it, wondering if it would smell like the alpha.

Caving in, Arthur went to the towel and brought it to his face. He frowned a bit when he didn't smell anything but he continued smelling every portion of the towel until he found a spot that was heavy in Alfred's scent. Arthur closed his eyes and deeply inhaled it while ignoring how the scent made his cock bounce up.

Part of him wondered what would happen if he walked out of the washroom naked like this. What would Alfred do?

Would Alfred fuck Arthur since the omega wasn't out of his mind from heat hormones? Maybe Alfred would crawl to the edge of the bed, grab Arthur by the waist and bring Arthur's crotch to his face. Then Alfred might tenderly kiss every inch of Arthur's cock.

The thought made Arthur quiver and his cock jump.

Then maybe Alfred would bring Arthur's cock in his mouth and start sucking it gently, lovingly, throating every part of his length until Arthur couldn't handle any more pleasure. But Alfred would keep swallowing over his girth. Then, perhaps, Alfred would squeeze Arthur's ass to encourage Arthur to hump his cock against Alfred's throat. Alfred would press and rub his tongue against Arthur's erection until the alpha's throat was coated in Arthur's slick.

Arthur whimpered as his cock begged for attention.

Or perhaps Alfred would be rough from unrestrained passion. The alpha would be overcome with such a powerful yearning that he would immediately undress himself, grab Arthur, and push him down on the bed. Then the alpha would get on top of Arthur and kiss him hard while he grabbed Arthur's upper thighs to lift his hips up. Once there was easy access to Arthur's ass, Alfred would then plunge his cock inside and fuck Arthur to a wonderful euphoric oblivion.

Arthur started to frown because he knew that none of those things were likely to occur. No matter how attracted they may be to each other, Alfred wouldn't do anything until they were friends for another year. The worst part of it all was that this was only happening because of what Arthur said on Valentine's Day a couple of months ago. If he knew Alfred was going to wait, Arthur may not have shared any of his thoughts about love and relationships.

A year was a long time though. It would be foolish of Arthur to get comfortable with the idea of Alfred waiting for him when the American could easily meet someone else at any instant. It wouldn't be hard at all. Arthur often caught people checking out Alfred. It happened today while they were in the park and again in the restaurant. Finding an attractive omega who wasn't temperamental, particular, and complicated like Arthur was wouldn't be the slightest challenge.

So why would Alfred actually go through with waiting another year? And if even if Alfred managed to wait all the time, what did Arthur even have to offer the American?

Sex?

Arthur was willing to do that now. Aside from that, Arthur didn't consider himself a pleasant bloke to be around for very long. Whatever novelty he had that was drawing Alfred to him would inevitably wear off. Then Alfred would eventually realize that Arthur was never worth the wait.

Tears fell from Arthur's eyes but were quickly absorbed by the towel that was still held against Arthur's face. The moment he realized he had been crying and had lost his erection, he went into the shower and sat down. He pulled his legs to his chest and rested his head on his knees as he resisted the urge to sob.

At some point, he was able to calm himself down. He stayed in the shower for another fifteen minutes or so before turning it off. After drying himself, he quickly got dressed and brushed his teeth. When he got out of the loo, he went straight to the bed and lied down on the edge of the bed with his back facing the alpha.

"Are you okay?" Alfred asked.

The concern in Alfred's voice only made Arthur feel worse. There they were, just platonic friends, in a beautiful luxury hotel room sharing a comfortable bed together. This was easily one of the best days of his life, and he couldn't enjoy it because all he wanted was to feel Alfred's arms around him. Arthur had never felt so alone — at least not in the last few years.

"Arthur?" Alfred said. He was a little worried about Arthur even before the omega got out of the bathroom. Arthur usually took short showers but he had been in the bathroom for a half hour. It was really unlike the Brit.

But Arthur didn't say anything.

"Are you upset?" Alfred asked.

The omega closed his eyes and pulled the covers over his shoulders.

"Good night?" Alfred said with a questioning tone.

Arthur still didn't say anything. Then he felt Alfred move and his heart started to race with excitement. He thought Alfred was about to touch him, maybe to hug him, but he was wrong. Alfred wasn't moving toward Arthur, he was getting off the bed to turn off the lights. Before Alfred could get back in the bed, Arthur moved even closer to the edge of the bed until part of his body started to hang off.

When Alfred got in bed again, there was a gaping space between them. He looked at Arthur for a long moment in the dark, not understanding why the omega was lying so far away from him. Although the omega was quiet and hadn't been moving, Alfred was sure Arthur wasn't asleep.

He didn't understand what happened that change Arthur's mood. Alfred was tempted to stroke Arthur's hair or somewhere, anywhere, to comfort him — but didn't. He was afraid that it might lead to something else that they wouldn't be able to come back from. So Alfred lied on his back and stared up at the ceiling. Occasionally, he glanced over at Arthur as if he would magically get some sort of clue as to what was bothering the omega.

Somehow, Alfred managed to fall asleep. Arthur, however, was awake even though his eyes had been closed the entire time. He had wanted to talk to Alfred because he was feeling so many things and had so many thoughts that he needed to share. But even if Arthur decided to talk to Alfred, he honestly didn't know what to say or how he would even say it.

The only thing Arthur knew for sure was that he wanted more than this.

 

Chapter Text

It was ten o'clock in the morning when Alfred woke up. He turned over and saw that Arthur wasn't in bed beside him. Sitting up, he looked around the room and quickly spotted Arthur on the couch. He was worried for a split second until he saw the book in Arthur's hands. Alfred smiled as he let out a quiet sigh of relief. Arthur must have been feeling better.

"Good morning," Alfred said with a smile.

Arthur remained silent.

Alfred frowned a bit. He wanted to ask Arthur what was wrong but the omega didn't answer when he had asked the same question last night, so Alfred decided not to pry. "Did you have breakfast yet?"

Arthur still said nothing.

The American sighed as he stared at the Englishman. When Arthur refused to acknowledge him, Alfred decided it might be best if he gave Arthur some time to himself. So Alfred got up and quickly got dressed before grabbing the keycard for the room. He opened the door and was about to leave but he didn't feel comfortable leaving without saying anything to Arthur, even if the omega refused to offer him the same courtesy.

"I'm gonna get breakfast," Alfred said while standing in the doorway. He waited there in case Arthur decided to speak up, even if it was just to say "okay" or "goodbye" or something. Arthur didn't say anything though so Alfred just left.

 


 

Focusing on the free breakfast instead of the moody omega, Alfred looked over all the food options. He went to the waffle maker first. There was a machine that dispensed the batter. He made two, then grabbed a chocolate chip muffin and a cinnamon raisin bagel. He set the plate on an empty table and went back to get syrup, cream cheese, and coffee.

It was a great breakfast, the waffles were delicious. Arthur was right though, Alfred did wish they had donuts. More than that, Alfred wished he was having breakfast with Arthur. It was hard to keep his mind off the omega, especially since he thought everything was going so well. What went wrong?

After Alfred finished eating everything on his plate, he just sat there and slowly drank his coffee. He wasn't in a rush to return to the room.

An hour passed by before Alfred decided to go back. He fixed a cup of tea and a cup of coffee to bring with him. When he got back to the room, he found Arthur lying on his stomach in bed. Arthur was in the spot where Alfred slept the previous night and the pillow Alfred slept on was hugged under Arthur's chest. Held in Arthur's hands was the book he had been reading earlier.

"Tea?" Alfred asked. Arthur didn't say anything. "I have coffee too if you want."

When Arthur still didn't say anything, Alfred set the cups on the table by the television before he walked to the bed. He was about to sit down when he noticed the sour tang of anxiety in the omega's scent, so he sat down on the couch armrest instead.

"What's wrong, Artie?" Alfred asked.

"Nothing," Arthur snapped.

"Okay..." Alfred said before he inhaled slowly. He ran his hand over his hair before asking, "So... when do you wanna go to the beach?"

"Later," Arthur answered.

"Later? ... Later when?" Alfred asked. "Remember, the beach is an hour away."

Arthur narrowed his eyes but didn't look away from his book.

Alfred took in a deep breath before getting up. He grabbed his phone and his swim trunks before saying, "Text me when you're ready. My phone will be on."

Arthur didn't respond.

Taking another deep breath, Alfred promptly left the room.

 


 

Alfred spent an hour at the gym, then another hour at the swimming pool. It was past noon when he returned to the hotel room. Arthur was still reading but was now on his back, sprawled out on the bed. Alfred didn't bother to greet him. Instead, he went inside the bathroom to wash the chlorine off his body.

Once Alfred was done in the shower, he took his time getting dressed before leaving the bathroom. To his surprise, Arthur was sitting on the edge of the bed and was dressed in a light pink t-shirt and loose pants with his swim trunks peaking up past the hem of his pants. On his lap was his book and behind him was a folded beach towel.

"Let's go," Arthur said dully.

"To the beach?" Alfred asked. Of course that's what Arthur must have meant but the way Arthur said it made it seem like he wanted to go home.

"Obviously," Arthur snapped.

"Oh, um, sure — okay," Alfred said before going back to the bathroom to fetch his swim trunks. Then he heard a door close. "Arthur?"

Arthur wasn't on the bed anymore and the towel was gone. Alfred sighed as he quickly gathered his things before rushing out the door. When he went down the hall, he found Arthur standing in front of the elevator.

"Artie..." Alfred quietly uttered. He hesitated before asking, "What's wrong?"

"Who said anything is wrong?" Arthur said.

"You're acting strange," Alfred said. "This is supposed to be a fun weekend and you don't seem to be having a lot of fun. I just want you to have a good time, you know? If you wanna just read all day then that's totally cool with me. I just want you to be happy."

It was at that moment that the elevator doors opened.

Arthur responded by quietly walking inside the elevator. Everything Alfred said was perfect. The alpha was so caring and considerate, which only made Arthur feel worse so he couldn't bring himself to say anything. If he did, he may have started ranting about his feelings. This was something that Arthur couldn't risk doing because he didn't even understand what he was feeling. The last thing he needed was to say something out loud that he couldn't take back.

It was simply easier and safer to say nothing.

Alfred walked in the elevator and pressed the button for the lobby before glancing at Arthur. When Arthur didn't look at him, Alfred turned and stared at the elevator doors. The second the doors open, Arthur walked out at a pace that was much faster than Alfred knew the omega was comfortable walking.

When they got outside, they were greeted by the bright sun. It was a warm, cloudless day — the perfect conditions to go to the beach.

The ride to Kalmus beach was quiet. Arthur started reading the moment Alfred pulled out of the parking space. Although Alfred was inclined to let Arthur read, he didn't appreciate being ignored, especially when he was sure he didn't do anything to deserve this behavior.

"I think we left just in time," Alfred said in a hopeful attempt to brighten the mood. "And it feels so great today. It's the perfect day to go to the beach, don't you think?"

Arthur just continued to stare down at the open book which was almost as bad as someone constantly staring down at their phone.

Alfred tried to start a conversation a few more times but gave up after a half hour and turned on the radio. He lightly hummed any familiar song that came on to help distract him from how awkward everything felt. This annoyed Arthur since it made it difficult to continue reading his book, so he closed it before turning to stare out the window.

It felt like an eternity passed by before Alfred saw a sign for Barnstable. This meant that they were near the beach, which Alfred was thankful for. He couldn't wait to leave the car. The air felt stifling even though he had rolled down his window, and the radio barely filled the silence between him and Arthur. The second Alfred parked at the beach, he tossed his towel over his shoulder and grabbed his reusable bag in the backseat before walking off.

Arthur hadn't even unbuckled his seatbelt. He was surprised that Alfred had left him. He watched through the window as the Alpha stormed off. It was actually what Arthur planned on doing but having it done to him felt awful. He pulled off his pants, revealing the British flag printed swim trunks he was wearing. Then he folded his pants and placed them on the floor of the car before hurrying after the alpha.

Alfred had practically stomped his way through the sand until he was somewhat close to the shore, then he flung his beach towel over the sand. There were even less people than he expected. He chose to visit this beach specifically because reviews said that it attracted a much smaller crowd than other beaches and he figured the omega would appreciate being around less people. Now he felt a little silly for putting so much thought into this trip.

He took out a bottle of broad-spectrum waterproof sunscreen and started rubbing it on his skin. All he was wearing was his red and blue swim trunks that had white stars all over it, and a pair of red flipflops, so there were a lot of areas to cover. He was done applying the sunscreen by the time Arthur reached him.

"Hi," Arthur said quietly.

Alfred glanced at Arthur for a second before looking away. He frowned and squinted his eyes before begrudgingly saying, "Hey."

Even with all the smells around them, Arthur could smell the bitter anger in the alpha's scent.

"Can I use some of that?" Arthur asked.

Alfred was surprised to hear Arthur talk to him in a normal voice. The omega seemed almost back to his usual self again. Alfred was tempted to ask Arthur what happened to make him so upset but he just handed Arthur the bottle instead.

Arthur's fingers covered over Alfred's fingers before he took the bottle from the alpha. He rubbed the sunscreen over most of his body before saying, "I think you need more on your back."

Alfred reached for the bottle but Arthur held it away from him.

"I'll do it," Arthur said.

Alfred still felt frustrated at Arthur but he didn't want to ruin the day just because he couldn't put his feelings aside. Deciding not to argue, Alfred turned around and allowed Arthur to rub the sunscreen on any areas he missed.

Arthur stared at Alfred's back as he poured the thick white cream in his hands. He dropped the bottle in the sand before slowly placing his hands on the middle of Alfred's back. Even with all the smells around them, Arthur could smell the frustration and the growing arousal in Alfred's scent.

The Brit knew he had been messing up lately but he couldn't help it. He had never been in a situation like this with someone else. The only people he ever traveled with were his parents so he wasn't prepared for how close he would feel to Alfred during this holiday. His instinct was to run away, which he couldn't do since he couldn't drive home on his own so he was trapped.

Arthur's hand moved slowly as he rubbed his fingers into the alpha's back. It felt really good to touch Alfred like this. Too good actually.

"I think that should be enough," Alfred said in a heavy voice, but Arthur didn't stop. Arthur continued rubbing the sunscreen around until Alfred took a step away from him. "Thanks."

"Sorry," Arthur said in a near whisper.

Alfred sighed before pushing himself to give a reassuring smile. "It's okay. I'm gonna swim if that's cool with you."

"Okay," Arthur replied as he sat down on the beach towel. "I'll be here with my book."

Alfred smiled a genuine smile this time, feeling more confident that Arthur was back to normal again. He watched Arthur as the omega straightened out the beach towel which had been folded at the ends from how Alfred threw it.

Once Arthur was done, he picked up his book and stared down at it. Sensing that Alfred was still there, he said, "Off you go."

The tone was light and friendly, so Alfred happily listened. When Alfred started running toward the water, Arthur peaked over his book to watch the alpha. Just as Alfred was about to get in the water, a woman with long brown hair that was tied into two pigtails by scarlet red ribbons approached the alpha. Arthur could barely see her but based on her tight light blue swimsuit, she was quite attractive.

They stood for a minute or so, which was too long for Arthur's fancy. He wasn't sure why it was so necessary for them to talk for so long or why they had to seem so happy about it. Then Alfred started to laugh and Arthur suddenly felt a pain in his chest. He forced himself to stare down in his book but it was only a few seconds later when he looked back to where Alfred had been standing.

Arthur was just in time to see Alfred and the brunette take a few steps away from the shore before sprinting into the water. When they started swimming, Arthur immediately relaxed. He shook his head, amused by how worried he previously was, and then returned to reading his book.

It was fifteen minutes later when Alfred returned. Arthur looked up to find the alpha standing in front of him, soaking wet. The American's swim trunks were clinging to his body and Arthur fought the urge to stare at the alpha's crotch. Instead, he focused on his book.

"Have a nice swim?" Arthur asked while staring at a random word on the page. Of course the word his eyes happened to settle on was "lick" and it only took a second for Arthur to take in the words around that one: darting his tongue out to lick and suck a hickey.

Alfred sat down beside Arthur as he said, "Yeah. The water feels great. You should get in there."

"Maybe later," Arthur said, desperately trying not to imagine Alfred giving him a hickey. Arthur wasn't a fan of hickeys but at that moment he would have allowed Alfred to give him a hickey anywhere on his body.

Alfred stretched his legs out. The heel of his feet reached beyond the towel and dug into the sand. He leaned back on his forearms and looked at the omega. "How's the book going?"

"Almost done, actually," Arthur answered with a smile, relieved that he was able to get his mind out of the gutter. "Just forty-two pages left."

The alpha grinned as he looked at Arthur. He missed seeing Arthur smile, especially since it was such a charming and beautiful one. No one's smile was as captivating as Arthur's smile.

"Well... I guess I'll let you read. I'm gonna go for another swim," Alfred said as he reluctantly stood up.

"Thanks," Arthur said. When Alfred started to run back toward the water, Arthur couldn't help but stare at the alpha's ass as he went. He was so focused on Alfred that he didn't notice when the brunette approached him.

"Your boyfriend's an awesome swimmer," the brunette said. For some reason, she was holding a large inflated fish in her arms that must have been a pool float.

Arthur was at a loss of words. He didn't like how this stranger was intruding on his privacy, especially when this stranger seemed to have been flirting with Alfred just a while earlier.

"Thanks," Arthur said, choosing not to correct her.

"So he is your boyfriend," she said with obvious disappointment. "He's really awesome. We just had a swimming contest. He won, of course, but he was really nice about it."

Arthur's grip on his book tightened as he mentally reviewed several ways to make this woman go away. Finally, he simply said, "Please leave."

The brunette seemed dumbfounded by Arthur's bluntness but she left nonetheless. Although she was gone, Arthur was still frustrated by the woman's unwanted presence so he couldn't get himself to read. Fortunately, Alfred started walking up to him.

"That was a short swim," Arthur teased.

"Haha yeah. I guess I'm a little tired. Mind if I lie here while you read?" Alfred asked.

"Not at all," Arthur said, instantly relaxing the moment Alfred lied down beside him.

They stayed at the beach for a few more hours. Arthur read and Alfred enjoyed the sun's warm rays. At one point, Arthur put down his book and looked at the sky. It wouldn't be long before the sun would set. The sky was already starting to change colors.

"How's the book going?" Alfred asked.

"Good," Arthur answered while staring at the horizon.

"You can tell me more about it if you want, like what happened in the pages you just read and what your thoughts are about the book so far," Alfred offered. "I'm happy to listen to anything you wanna talk about."

Arthur gingerly tapped his fingers against the book as he debated on what to tell Alfred. He hesitated before saying, "You'll have to read it for yourself if you're actually curious."

Alfred sighed a bit but smiled anyway. "That's okay. I'm just happy that you're enjoying yourself."

Arthur's cheeks flushed from the comment. He quickly opened the book and held it in front of his face to hide his blush from the alpha.

Soon they were hungry and left to explore the area they were in and find a local place to eat. It was dark when they were heading back to the hotel.

"We have to head home tomorrow morning," Alfred said while driving. "Is there anywhere else you would like to go tonight?"

Arthur shook his head. "No, I'm pretty tired... Thanks for asking though."

After parking at the hotel, Arthur started to talk as Alfred unbuckled his seatbelt.

"I'm... sorry about the way I've been acting," Arthur quietly apologized.

Alfred turned to look at the omega. When Arthur didn't say anything else, Alfred spoke. "Did I do anything wrong?"

Arthur shook his head. "I just had a lot on my mind."

"Anything you wanna talk about?" Alfred asked.

"Not really," Arthur answered while looking down at Alfred's hand. He nervously hovered his hand over Alfred's hand for a few seconds before finding the courage to place it down, then Arthur lightly squeezed the alpha's hand and his heart immediately started racing from the contact. Arthur swallowed hard as he fought to maintain his composure. "This was a really great holiday. Thank you for bringing me here."

"I'm glad you had a good time," Alfred said with a warm smile as he held Arthur's hand. "Come on, let's go inside."

"Okay," Arthur said as he reluctantly pulled his hand away.

Chapter Text

The next morning they left the hotel just before eleven o'clock. They intended on leaving earlier but Arthur was so distracted by his feelings that he forgot to set his alarms. Alfred, of course, didn't set any alarms so they were lucky that they left just in time to make the check-out without being charged for an extra night.

Arthur was moody for the first hour after they left since they were behind schedule. He didn't even want to eat. It was two o'clock when Arthur asked if they could stop somewhere for a quick bite, and it was a few minutes past nine-thirty at night when they finally made it back to Arthur's flat because they ran into a lot of traffic so they ended up stopping somewhere for dinner.

"Do you want to sleep over?" Arthur asked once Alfred found a parking space. "It was a long drive. I'm sure you must be tired."

"Sure, yeah," Alfred said even though they both knew that he was easily able to drive back home.

Once they got inside, Alfred started preparing the couch so he could go to sleep.

"What are you doing?" Arthur asked.

"Getting ready to sleep?" Alfred answered, now unsure of himself.

"We just spent the whole weekend in bed together... I think it's okay for you to sleep in bed with me," Arthur stated.

"Yeah, that's true," Alfred said even though he still thought it was a bad idea. "I guess I should take a shower."

"You know where the loo is," Arthur said.

"Yeah," Alfred mumbled.

Alfred went to his suitcase and pulled out a fresh pair of boxers, a pair of shorts, a loose shirt, and his toothbrush. While he was doing this, he heard the water running in the bathroom and figured that Arthur was busy brushing and flossing his teeth. Alfred sat on the armrest of the couch and waited until he heard the water stop, then he walked into the bathroom shortly after Arthur got out.

By the time Alfred was done with the shower, Arthur was already under the covers in bed. It seemed like it was wearing a short-sleeved nightgown.

"Not taking a shower?" Alfred asked.

"I'll take one in the morning," Arthur muttered under his breath.

"Oh, okay, cool," Alfred said before turning off the light. Since it was dark, he used his hand to feel for the edge of the bed and accidentally touched Arthur's foot.

"Hey," Arthur snapped.

"Sorry," Alfred quickly apologized as he moved off toward to side until he could feel the wall, then he crawled into bed. "Oh, I forgot my phone in the living room —"

"Of course you did," Arthur muttered.

"Um, yeah... so, did you set your alarm?" Alfred asked, remembering how they both forgot the set an alarm the previous night.

"Yes," Arthur snapped before he started moving away toward the edge of the bed. Alfred couldn't see it but he felt Arthur's movements and could somehow feel the distance between them growing.

"Are you sure you don't mind me sleeping in bed with you?" Alfred asked.

"Why would I mind?" Arthur asked.

Alfred wasn't sure what to say so he didn't say anything further. He closed his eyes and attempted to go to sleep, which actually didn't take very long. Since the drive home took over seven hours, Alfred was more than ready for sleep.

Once the alpha fell asleep, Arthur turned to look at him. The moon must have been behind a blanket of clouds earlier because now there was a soft glow coming through the curtain that illuminated Alfred's face. Arthur wanted to reach out and caress the alpha's cheek, or to move close to Alfred and cuddle against him, or wake him up and vent about all the feelings he was having.

When Alfred had accidentally touched him earlier while trying to find the bed, Arthur's heart had started racing and he couldn't help but think that Alfred was going to climb on top of him and finally do something. The second he realized that Alfred was just being Alfred, Arthur couldn't help but be frustrated because part of him liked Alfred even more because of it but another part of him felt like it was about to shatter from the disappointment.

They had such a lovely weekend together, although Arthur was sure he ruined parts of it, but deep down he thought that maybe Alfred would be tired of waiting. After all, Alfred didn't share the same notions that Arthur did about love and relationships. Alfred didn't think it was necessary to be friends for a year much less two years before becoming intimate in order for real love to become a possibility. It baffled Arthur that Alfred would be so determined to wait, even more determined than Arthur was.

Arthur sighed and turned away from Alfred to stare at the ceiling. He tried not to think about how fond he was of the alpha or how much he fancied looking at him and being around him. When those thoughts finally went away, all Arthur was left with was a fearful voice that told him that this was something that could never last forever, and the thought of losing Alfred and not having the American in his life haunted Arthur for the next several hours.

 


 

The Brit was exhausted when he woke up. He barely got any sleep. To his surprise, he was able to do his morning routine without a hitch. Alfred had earbuds in his suitcase, so he dug them out and used them while he watched something on his phone. This allowed Arthur to focus on reading, which was something he really needed to do to help calm the anxiousness the lingered from the thoughts that kept him awake.

Lunch went on as it usually did, although both of their scents were off and there were a couple of uncomfortable lulls in their conversations since they both had things that they wanted to talk about but dared not say. By Wednesday, everything felt back to normal. They were talking without any long pauses, and both of their scents remained normal during the entire lunch.

Friday was the first of May and Alfred was excited since he had news to share.

"Someone new started working at my job today. He's like a temp or something. He's only here for this month. He'll be gone at the end of May," Alfred explained while eating.

"Hmm..." Arthur muttered for a lack of words. As happy as he was for the alpha's positive mood, he didn't fancy talking about other people, especially when it was someone who probably wouldn't be more than Alfred's acquaintance despite the American's gregariousness.

"His name is Ivan, I think. He's a super quiet dude. If he wasn't so tall, I don't know if I would have noticed him," Alfred exclaimed. "He's like that other guy, um — Yao! Yeah. Yao's really quiet too. It took me weeks to notice him when I first got the job."

"Uh huh," Arthur mumbled.

"Alright, Artie. Come on. Tell me what's bothering you," Alfred said.

"Nothing," Arthur nearly snapped. He didn't like being pushed to talk about things.

"Are you sure?" Alfred asked.

"If there was something I wanted to talk to you about then I already would have," Arthur said.

"Okay... you're right. Sorry, my bad," Alfred stammered. He drummed his fingers against the table for a moment before asking, "So, uh, do you wanna hang out at my place this weekend? You haven't been there since that first time."

"Actually... I'd rather if we didn't do anything this weekend," Arthur said. As much as he would like to see Alfred, he needed some space. Besides, spending the weekend alone was always appealing to the Brit.

"That's cool with me. We can just chill. I'm cool with you reading while I watch a movie or something," Alfred offered.

"No, I meant that I don't want to hang out," Arthur clarified. His eyes squinted when Alfred's face fell. He wasn't sure why Alfred's mood affected him so much. Whenever the alpha felt disappointed or upset, it tugged at Arthur's chest.

Alfred noticed Arthur squinting at him and wasn't sure what he did to bother the omega so much. Afraid that he might make Arthur even more upset, Alfred didn't say anything else for the last few minutes of their lunch.

They were quiet as they went to the elevator. When they reached Arthur's floor, Alfred said, "Well, I hope you have an awesome weekend."

Arthur had the urge to apologize even though he had nothing to apologize for. At least not in regards to wanting to spend the weekend alone. Still,

"You too," Arthur said before leaving.

 


 

Arthur didn't reply to any of the texts Alfred sent over the weekend. He was too busy doing chores to bother looking at his phone. His weekend was all work, fortunately. He was able to read for twenty minutes on Saturday and an hour on Sunday.

By Monday, Arthur was in better spirits. When Alfred approached the table, Arthur smiled and said, "Hey, Al."

"Hi," Alfred said as he sat down. He grinned as he said in a lower voice, "I might be crazy but I think the new guy at work has a crush on Yao! What's even crazier is that I think Yao has a crush on him too."

"Why is that crazy?" Arthur asked.

"Because they're both alphas," Alfred explained.

"That wouldn't be so crazy," Arthur said. "And what makes you think they have a crush on each other?"

Alfred shrugged. "I don't really know. They just seem to look at each other a lot."

It was purely luck that Alfred noticed these glances. There were several moments during Alfred's workday when he had the urge to text Arthur. Since they weren't in a relationship, Alfred didn't want to overwhelm the Brit with texts. Each time he wanted to text Arthur, he would randomly look around the room while he decided whether the text was necessary to send or if he was just sending it because he wanted attention from the omega. While looking around, he started noticing that Ivan and Yao often glanced at each other.

"Well, that's not much to go on," Arthur said.

"Maybe, but I noticed the same thing between these two dudes at the place I bought bagels for us that one time. I kinda pointed it out to them too since it was Valentine's Day weekend and they've been dating ever since," Alfred said an oddly charming smugness.

Arthur just rolled his eyes but couldn't help but to smile.

 


 

The following Monday, Alfred had to go to the restroom before meeting Arthur in the cafeteria. When he opened the door, he saw his coworker Yao fucking someone from behind. The man he was fucking was pressed against the wall and groaning with every thrust. It was an interesting sight because Yao was shorter than most men while the man he was fucking was easily inches taller than Alfred.

Yao let out a loud moan as he gave a final thrust inside the alpha's ass. Suddenly, the taller man moved his arm back to push Yao off. Yao's flaccid cock pulled out of the taller man's ass and cum sprayed over the floor. Alfred instantly recognized the taller man to be Ivan, the temp that his job recently hired.

Before Alfred could process any of what was happening, Ivan pushed Yao against the sink. The dark haired man bent over and moaned as Ivan started fucking him from behind. They were so absorbed in what they were doing that neither of the alphas seemed to notice Alfred. Both of them were grunting and groaning so loudly that Alfred wouldn't be surprised if everyone in the building could hear them.

He quickly left the restroom and leaned against the wall beside the door, not believing what he just saw. He couldn't wait to tell Arthur, but first he really needed to use the restroom. Alfred rushed to the restroom on the cafeteria floor before he hurried to Arthur.

"I just saw the craziest thing," Alfred exclaimed as he sat down.

"What?" Arthur asked, eager to find out why Alfred seemed so out of sorts.

"I just caught Yao and Ivan having sex in the bathroom," Alfred explained in a hushed voice so no one would overhear.

Arthur started to laugh. "Oh is that all?"

"Is that all?" Alfred repeated incredulously. "Are you forgetting that they're both alphas?"

Arthur rolled his eyes. "Didn't you say that they had a crush on each other?"

"Yeah but alphas never have sex together," Alfred exclaimed. "Like, I'm not talking about a handjob or blowjob. They were, like, really going at it!"

"You need to open up your world, Al," Arthur said with an amused smirk. "Sure, it may be rare, but it certainly does happen as you just witnessed."

Alfred huffed from Arthur's underwhelmed response, which only made Arthur want to laugh. The omega found Alfred's pouty expression adorable.

"Oh, hey, is that a new book?" Alfred asked when he saw the thick closed book on the edge of the table.

"Yep," Arthur said happily. He finished reading the romance novel about the claustrophobic omega and was onto the next book which was a vast collection of his favorite author's short stories. Some stories were as short as ten pages, like Promises while others were as long as fifty pages, like Our Cure — both of which Arthur had already read.

"How much did you read so far?" Alfred asked.

"Hm... it's hard to say. It's not just one story. There's quite a few, actually, so I've been skipping around to read the shortest ones first," Arthur explained.

"That's so cool. It's really awesome how fast you can read books," Alfred exclaimed with a big smile.

"Yeah, I think so," Arthur said with a shy smile. He didn't know if the alpha's comment was genuine but he really fancied when Alfred said things like that to him. It made him feel really warm inside.

 


 

The next day, Alfred was really late to lunch so Arthur took out his book to read. Lunch was halfway over when Alfred finally showed up.

"Hiya," Arthur greeted while putting his book away.

"Hey! Sorry I'm late. My friends came by for a surprise visit," Alfred said.

Arthur smiled at the alpha. "That's nice of them."

"Yeah," Alfred replied with a grin. Then he asked, "How's your day going?"

Arthur used to hate questions like this but now he didn't, at least not when it was Alfred asking it. Alfred was actually interested in hearing what was going on in his day, even if the details were trivial or negative.

"Exhausting," Arthur groaned. "I barely got any sleep this week. I'm almost looking forward to my heat. At least I can be tired in the comfort of my own home."

Alfred gave a sympathetic look. "When does your heat start?"

"Tomorrow," Arthur answered. It almost went without saying that he wanted Alfred over during his heat but Arthur asked anyway. "Are you sleeping over?"

"Sure," Alfred answered automatically. There was a tiny inner voice that reminded him that it may have been a bad idea but Alfred smothered it until it was gone. "I could probably take the day off tomorrow since it's Friday."

"That's okay. I think I can wait until you're done with work," Arthur remarked with a wink.

Alfred grinned even broader in response.

Arthur found himself looking at Alfred for a moment. He was so handsome but so young. Arthur often felt like he was young, but Alfred was even younger than Arthur was — four years younger to be exact. The Brit often forgot this because of how mature the American could be at times.

At that moment Arthur noticed a family walking inside the cafeteria. Arthur's focus shifted from Alfred's handsome face to the family that was several yards behind him. There was a tall woman with long, dark brown hair that was pulled back in a tight pony-tail. She wore a mint green áo dài overflowing sleeved dress that had a long split on the side that revealed the light mint green pants she wore underneath.

Next to her was a shorter woman with equally long hair, except her hair flowed freely along her back. She had pink flowers in her hair that matched the pink long sleeved qipao she wore. Her legs were almost completely covered by the long white skirt she wore. She had an arm wrapped around the taller woman's waist as they walked behind their young child who seemed to be leading the way.

Arthur used to be that happy around his mums; happier even. In fact, he couldn't recall a moment when he ever felt anything but close to them.

A solemn look fell over Arthur's face as he continued to watch the family while they ordered their lunch. When Arthur was seventeen he thought he would have a family like that by now. Starting a family was all he wanted to do once he finished school. He wasn't anywhere near reaching those aspirations. 

The Brit glanced back at Alfred and looked at him for a few seconds before asking, "Do you want to have kids?"

"With you?" Alfred asked with flushed cheeks. He wasn't expecting Arthur to ask that question. The omega's scent had suddenly started to fade which worried Alfred. He was about to turn around to see what Arthur was staring at when the omega asked him the question. 

"In general," Arthur said, blushing now too.

The alpha nodded. "Of course."

"You're really young," Arthur stated. "When do you think you'll be ready to start a family?"

"Whenever my omega is ready," Alfred answered confidently. "Where are these questions coming from?"

"So you would be ready to have kids right now if you were with an omega who was ready?" Arthur asked.

Alfred nodded. He certainly had a large enough income to support a small family.

"Don't you think twenty-one is too young to have kids?" Arthur asked.

Alfred wasn't sure what point Arthur was trying to make, but he tried not to take it too personally.

"I guess it depends, but I don't think twenty-one is too young," Alfred said calmly. "My brother is a year younger than me and he's about to have his first baby, and my friends who visited today had twins when they were nineteen and they're doing great. I'm older than they were when they started their family so I'm sure I'm not too young."

"Wait, your brother is pregnant?" Arthur asked. He hoped that he didn't offend the alpha. If he had known that Matthew was pregnant then he might have been more delicate with his question. "Why didn't you tell me."

"I only just found out last weekend. That's actually why my friends visited me. I told them while I was visiting Mattie and they wanted to know the details," Alfred said. When Arthur didn't want to hang out over the weekend, Alfred went to New York to visit his brother. If he hadn't visited Matthew in person, Alfred wasn't sure when he would have found out about the pregnancy.

That was why Arthur called his friends on speaker phone so he and Matthew could share the pregnancy news.

Recalling the visit, Alfred thought for a moment before he scooted his chair beside Arthur and leaned in close to the Brit. "He's been trying to get pregnant since he got married two years ago but it never worked out so he got a surrogate."

"A surrogate?" Arthur echoed in a quiet voice to match the alpha's whisper. "That's bloody expensive."

"I know," Alfred said.

"Did they consider adoption?" Arthur asked.

"Of course they did but Mattie really wanted a baby who looked like him. Adoption's totally awesome and everything but it's not for everyone."

"That's true..." Arthur said thoughtfully. "Frankly, it's absolute bollocks that people think only couples with fertility issues should adopt. If people didn't consider infertility as the criteria to want to adopt then far more children would have a family."

"You have no idea how much I agree," Alfred said with a great smile. Then he said in a hushed voice, "Anyway, yeah. They used Matthew's egg and his husband's, er... you know, and they found someone to carry the baby. I didn't meet her though. She's lives with her husband."

Arthur nodded in understanding. "How many months along are they?" Arthur asked.

"Four months. Mattie will be a great parent," Alfred answered in his normal voice. He started to feel uncomfortable sharing so much information about his brother, so he decided to change the subject. "What about you? Do you want children?"

"Definitely," Arthur said, then frowned a bit. "But I have no idea when. I always thought I would go back to college and finish my degree first before I started a family but... I have no idea when I'll be going back to college."

"It'll happen," Alfred reassured him. "You have plenty of time. Everything will work out for you, you'll see."

Arthur gave a dazzling smile that made Alfred's heart skip a beat.

"Ta," Arthur said softly. He had such a warm and dazzling smile that it made Alfred's heart skipped a beat. "So... you're definitely coming over tomorrow, right?"

"Of course," Alfred said with a warm smile of his own.

 

Chapter Text

Everything was hazy from a thick white fog. Arthur was naked and sitting on the couch in his living room. Then he was on his nest, except it wasn't really his nest because he wasn't in his bedroom. He wasn't in any room really.

Where the bloody hell was he?

"Arthur," said a deep and husky voice.

The omega turned and saw the blond American. Alfred was so far away though.

Suddenly Arthur was on his knees and Alfred was completely naked in front of him.

"Alfred," Arthur gulped as he stared at Alfred's knob. "You're so hard."

The alpha's veiny cock was enormous and dripping with precum. Arthur crawled up to him and rubbed his face against Alfred's throbbing erection. As the omega did this, Alfred's precum smeared all over Arthur's cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead.

"Do you want to taste me?" Alfred asked with a heavy breath.

Arthur nuzzled his face underneath Alfred's shaft again before burying his face into Alfred's sack.

"Yes," Arthur moaned as his lips brushed against the alpha's balls.

"Then do it," Alfred said, his voice hot and heavy.

Arthur opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue to lick the precum that was covering the tip of the alpha's gigantic cock.

"Yes, just like that. Good boy, you're such a good boy," Alfred said huskily and something about the praise made Arthur shiver and his cock jump. He responded by giving Alfred's cock one long and rough lick. Alfred hummed in approval but didn't say anything, much to Arthur's disappointment.

Arthur licked Alfred's cock again — only slower this time. So slowly that it was almost as if his tongue wasn't moving at all as it dragged over Alfred's delicious member.

"Very nice," Alfred moaned. "You're so great at this, so completely perfect. You like how I taste, don't you? Oh, you're such a good omega."

Arthur let out a shuddering breath. He didn't know why Alfred's approval made him feel so aroused and so weak but he immediately went to lick Alfred again in the exact way that the alpha fancied.

Just as Arthur's tongue almost touched Alfred's cock again, he was instantly facing away from the alpha and found himself on all fours with his ass in the air and his face pressed into the plushy ground. There was a white cloudy smoke all around him. He had no idea where he was or where Alfred went.

Then Arthur felt Alfred's hands on him. The alpha ran his hands up along Arthur's back before asking, "Do you want my cock inside you?"

"Gods, yes," Arthur pleaded, his hole was wet and eager to finally feel Alfred's erection.

"Or my tongue?" Alfred asked after blowing a hot breath over Arthur's ass.

Arthur shivered and nodded.

"Or my fingers?" Alfred asked as he brushed his fingers up between Alfred's ass cheeks.

"Anything, please," Arthur cried.

"Don't be a bad boy," Alfred said, and Arthur sorely missed the praise he had been getting. "Answer my question. Tell me exactly what you want."

"I want your cock," Arthur nearly shouted. "Please, Alfred."

"You want it where?" Alfred asked.

"Anywhere," Arthur cried.

"Where do you want my cock the most?" Alfred demanded more than asked.

"I want to feel your huge cock inside me, inside my ass," Arthur practically begged.

"Good boy. So naughty in the most perfect way. You're such a perfect, gorgeous omega," Alfred hummed before he teased his cock head against Arthur's leaking hole.

"Please, Alfred," Arthur begged as he pushed his ass back against the alpha.

"Oh go on, give the horny little slut what he wants," said a second Alfred that appeared in front of Arthur.

"And he can give us what we want," said a third Alfred that stood beside the second.

"Yeah, and if he doesn't then we'll just take it," said the second in a way that made Arthur's cock jump.

As Arthur looked up at the two new Alfreds who were both naked, the one behind him suddenly thrust his cock inside Arthur's hungry hole.

"Ohhh Gods," Arthur moaned as the alpha behind him started fucking his ass. He bowed his head down and moaned louder as he felt Alfred's hands run down his back and the alpha's cock pound inside him.

"Say my name for me, honey," the Alfred that was fucking him from behind grunted.

"Alfred," Arthur moaned while grinding his ass back against the original Alfred's cock.

Suddenly the first Alfred, who was still fucking Arthur from behind, pulled his cock from Arthur's wet ass. Then he pulled the omega up until Arthur was sitting on Alfred's lap. Arthur whimpered as he felt the alpha's slick drenched erection pressing against his back. Arthur's hole clenched, begging to be filled again.

But it was then that Arthur had a chance to look around himself. There were more Alfreds around him now. All naked. All staring hungrily at Arthur as their erections bounced from anticipation. The idea of them all having their way with him made Arthur's cock start to leak.

The second Alfred, who was currently smirking, sat down in front of Arthur. What the alpha was sitting on exactly, Arthur couldn't be sure. None of this made sense but Arthur couldn't think about that right now. The only thing he could focus on was all the alpha cocks around him, all belonging to the only alpha Arthur wanted.

"You want this, don't you?" Alfred said. The real Alfred, or at least the first Alfred. Alfred #1.

"Mmhmm," Arthur murmured. A soft moan escaped his lips as he felt Alfred #1's cock press harder against his back.

"Perfect. You're so perfect. I knew you would want this. Are you ready?" Alfred #1 asked.

The praise made Arthur's head spin as he leaned back against his Alfred, although he supposed they were all his Alfreds. Each and every one of them. His. All his.

The thought made Arthur's cock throb.

"Yes," Arthur moaned.

Alfred #2 lifted Arthur's legs so he could scoot forward until Arthur was squished between the two alphas. Behind him, Alfred #1 lifted Arthur up, then he scooted forward until his cock was pressed against the second Alfred's cock. Then the first Alfred lowered Arthur down until the omega's ass sat on both cock heads.

"You got this?" Alfred #1 asked Alfred #2.

"Yeah," Alfred #2 said as he squeezed his cock and Alfred #1's cock together in one hand. Then the first Alfred lowered Arthur again. As he did, Alfred #2 used his free hand to spread Arthur's cheeks while he guided the two cock heads inside Arthur's hole.

"Gods!" Arthur gasped as the two cock heads pushed inside him. Then Alfred #1 let go, whether purposely or accidentally — Arthur could not be sure. The only thing Arthur knew was that he fell down hard on their laps and that their cocks plunged deep inside him.

Arthur opened his mouth to moan out "fuck" but what came out was an embarrassingly loud carnal wail. It felt so good that Arthur's cock's almost burst. His tunnel clenched intermittently around the two cocks as it tried to adjust to the massive girths that were stretching his walls out.

"Look how hard his junk is," Alfred #3 said with a smirk. "He's so totally into this. What a good little whore he is."

"But only for us," Alfred #4 said as he adjusted his glasses. "I bet he would never enjoy doing this with anyone else."

"Is that true?" Alfred #1 asked, and this Alfred's voice was the most pleasing to Arthur's ears even though they all sounded the same. While Arthur loved anything the Alfreds called him, the way Alfred #1 spoke to him just did something to Arthur that he couldn't explain.

"Yes," Arthur answered as his inner walls squeezed over the two cocks inside him.

"Just us?" Alfred #1 asked.

"Just you, Alfred," Arthur said, his hole clenching again.

Then Alfred #1 whispered "that's my omega" in Arthur's ear before licking at the omega's lobe, and Arthur's body quivered as slick spurted out of his cock.

"Look at that! Our little, horny bitch just finished and we haven't even started yet," Alfred #2 said in a voice that was heavy in arousal and amusement. "Come on, say it. Say that you're a horny bitch. No, say that you're a horny slut."

"I'm a horny slut," Arthur said obediently, then shivered when Alfred #1 licked his neck.

"Very good," Alfred #1 said. "You're doing such an awesome job, my beautiful omega."

Arthur closed his eyes and purred from the words.

The moment Alfred #1's face was no longer at Arthur's neck, Arthur felt two new cocks push against his neck before sliding up to his cheeks. Then he realized that there was an Alfred on either side of him, rubbing their leaking cocks against his face.

"I call dibs on his mouth," said Alfred #3 with a smirk as he walked up to Arthur until the tip of his leaking cock brushed against Arthur's lips. Arthur opened his mouth automatically as he lustfully stared at the member that glistened with precum.

Alfred #3 slowly pushed his cock inside Arthur's mouth until it was down the omega's throat. As Alfred #3 started fucking his cock in Arthur's mouth, Arthur started slowly rolling his hips over the two cocks that were now comfortably stuffed in his hole.

Alfred #1 kissed Arthur's back before he pulled out just enough so he could ram his cock back inside Arthur's hole. This made Alfred #2 moan as Alfred #1's cock rubbed up against his own. Alfred #2 started thrusting inside Arthur's hole as well but in an alternating pace from the first alpha. When Alfred #1 slammed his cock inside again, the second alpha had just pulled most of his cock out before shoving it back in.

Arthur moaned from how his hole was being thoroughly fucked. The way he moaned vibrated over Alfred #3's cock which prompted the alpha to fuck Arthur's mouth harder until his cock head was pushing down Arthur's throat. Arthur started to gag over the thickness which made the alpha's cock swell even larger in Arthur's mouth.

As Arthur choked over the massive cock, he felt his cheeks become wet as the alphas standing on either side of him continued rubbing their cocks into his cheeks. Arthur reached up to grab the cocks that were humping his face. He pushed them away from his face but the precum made his hands slide down both of the lengths. When Arthur heard both of the Alfreds groan and felt their cocks pulse in his hands, he started to fist both cocks almost in rhythm with the two cocks that were fucking his ass.

It was then that Arthur felt someone's warm mouth engulf the whole of his own length in one gulp and he cried out over the cock that was crammed down his throat. Then he felt another mouth sucking at his balls. He wasn't sure how it was being done, how so many Alfreds could be around him, on him, inside him — but he didn't care.

One Alfred stood on either side of Arthur's legs that were still bent while in the air. They both grabbed a bent leg before thrusting their cocks between Arthur's calf and thigh, just underneath Arthur's knee. That should have been all of the Alfreds but Arthur must have miscounted earlier because he felt cocks being humped against his feet as well.

In attempt to please all the Alfreds from head to toe, Arthur sucked harder over the cock in his mouth, fisted the cocks in his hands even faster, rolled his hips over the two cocks relentlessly penetrating his hole, humped his own cock and balls into the two Alfreds mouths, squeezed his leg muscles over the cocks tucked under his knees, and rubbed his toes against the cocks that were rubbing against this feet.

As the two alphas he was sitting on got close to their climax, their thrusts became synced and it felt like one impossibly gargantuan cock plowing in and out of his ass. Tears started streaming down Arthur's cheeks as the pleasure became too much to handle. He could clearly feel the cocks of eleven Alfreds on or in him. There wasn't an area on his body that wasn't in contact with an Alfred's cock, lips, or hands.

Then Arthur arched his back as he reached his end. It was like a never-ending orgasm. At first, it seemed like everyone came at once. He felt hot semen flood deep up his hole while the two cocks he was fisting showered his face and hair in cum. The cock that was in his mouth shot out a deliciously salty nectar that gushed down his throat, which he eagerly swallowed down.

Those were the main Alfreds that Arthur could handle keeping track of but he also felt how the cocks that were fucking his legs swelled just before spraying cum over the opposite leg. The alphas that were rubbing their cocks against Arthur's feet ejaculated all over him. The two who were sucking Arthur's cock and sack stood up and splattered cum all over Arthur's stomach.

Being completely covered by Alfred's seed made Arthur orgasm again inside the mouth of the Alfred that never stopped sucking his knob. Arthur's slick pooled over the two alpha's laps and the smell of it seemed to make all the Alfreds get an instant erection. Some of them switched positions while others stayed where they were, then they all started fucking Arthur all over again.

This time no one was fucking his feet or legs. Instead, four Alfreds were fisting their cocks that they had pointed at Arthur's face. As they were close to climaxing, the cock that was plowing down Arthur's throat was pulled out so Arthur could open his mouth, stick out his tongue, and wait as the five alphas reached their climax and sprayed cum on his face. It didn't take long for Arthur's mouth to become filled with the gooey white semen.

Then Arthur was lifted up as another alpha sat down. The three alphas got impossibly close until their three cocks were pressed together, then managed to get Arthur's hole to fit all three cocks inside him.

"Fuck!" Arthur cried.

"How does it feel?" Alfred #1 asked.

"So fucking brilliant," Arthur moaned as his hole was forcibly stretched to make space for the third cock. Everything smelled and tasted like Alfred and it made Arthur's cock spurt out slick again.

"You're so fucking hot," Alfred #1 said.

"Such a horny slut," Alfred #2 added.

"Your mouth felt great over my cock but this feels... God this feels so fucking good," the third Alfred moaned as the three cocks throbbed against each other inside Arthur's slick drenched hole.

"You can handle this, right?" Alfred #1 asked.

"Yes," Arthur moaned.

"That's my omega. I knew you could," Alfred #1 said before sucking a hickey at the back of Arthur's neck.

Arthur's eyes started to roll back as he leaned against the first alpha. When all three started fucking him, he was sure he was going to lose his mind. Then an Alfred smothered Arthur's screams of pleasure by shoving his cock hard inside Arthur's mouth. Everyone kept fucking Arthur in every possible way until —

"Ahh-Alfreeed!" Arthur woke up in the middle of moaning Alfred's name as slick spilled out of his cock and seeped out his hole. He was in a daze for a moment as he looked around for Alfred. Instead of there being eleven Alfreds, Arthur had none.

Arthur frowned, ignoring the tears stinging at his eyes and the deep need to smell Alfred's scent.

"Blimey," Arthur panted. His body was drenched in sweat and a large part of his bed was soaked in heat slick. He hadn't had a wet dream since he was going through puberty. Even then, he never had such a vivid and filthy dream.

Arthur tugged and stroked his cock as he tried to feel the closeness he had with Alfred in the dream. After he coaxed more slick to spill out, he wiped the wetness from his hand before grabbing his phone that was at the edge of his nest.

The omega really missed Alfred and even felt a little anxious without the American there. Even though they weren't having sex, he really craved to have Alfred's scent around him. He was very tempted to ask Alfred to leave work early. It was Friday and Alfred had offered to take the day off anyway.

But he resisted the urge and put his phone down. He tried to go back to sleep, hoping that it might make the day go by faster. Arthur lied on his stomach but that turned out to be a mistake. As his cock pressed into the bed, he automatically started humping the mattress.

He couldn't stop himself, he didn't have any control over his body. Arthur kept humping the bed until his cock started to get hard again. Reaching under himself, he grabbed his cock and thrust the girth into his hand. Arthur rolled onto his side and kept rubbing his erection. The thought of humping his cock into Alfred's mouth entered his mind and the omega immediately orgasmed.

Rolling onto his back, Arthur turned his head and stared at his phone. He briefly imagined taking a picture of himself like this and sending it to Alfred. Would the alpha rush over? Would Alfred get hard from seeing Arthur naked and covered in slick like this?

The thought made Arthur's cock bounce up with excitement. At the right angle, he could take a picture that showed his face, the slick that sprayed over his body, and his hardening cock. Arthur started to reach for the phone but managed to stop himself.

Instead, he rubbed the cum that was on his fingers over his member. As he played around with his cock, he rubbed his fingers over the head and massaged them into the slit. Pretending that his wet fingers were Alfred's tongue, he stroked the tip of his cock in slow repetitive motions that mimicked a tongue licking over him.

When his cock grew firm under his touch, he wrapped his fingers around the shaft and started stroking along the length. Arthur's fist swiftly glided up and down his cock. His grip tightened as his strokes became faster. While his hand kept pleasuring his cock, he used his other hand to gently squeeze and massage his sack.

"Alfreed," Arthur panted as he quickened the pace of his strokes. His ass clenched, wanting to feel Alfred's cock inside it. Arthur kept humping his erection into his hand and imagined that it was Alfred sucking his shaft. His balls became taut as cum ejected from his cock.

Then he passed out.

 

Chapter Text

The day passed by with Arthur tossing off every half hour or so. By the time Alfred was knocking at the door, the entire flat smelled like Arthur's heat slick.

"Alfred," Arthur breathed out as he opened the door.

The smell in the apartment hit Alfred full on. He had masturbated a moment ago when he stopped by his apartment, but Arthur's scent was enough to make his heart race and his cock begin to harden.

"Hey, Arthur," Alfred said in a deep voice as he attempted to ignore his hardening cock.

It was the same voice from Arthur's dream. Arthur's eyes felt heavy as he stared at the alpha with hooded eyes. He could smell how badly Alfred wanted him. It only made Arthur want him more.

"H-Hungry?" Arthur asked as he moved away from the taller man. Every breath Alfred took made his senses go wild with desire. He was sure if they made any physical contact that he might lose all control.

Alfred nodded as he stared into Arthur's eyes. "I am."

"Do you mind if I take a quick shower?" Arthur asked.

"Course not," Alfred answered headily. "I'll just watch TV or something."

"Brill," Arthur quickly said before he rushed into the loo.

He quickly undressed and turned on the shower. When the water was as cold as he could handle, he stepped inside. Every minute he stood under the cold water felt like an hour, and his erection didn't go down at all after five minutes. Usually, a cold shower was pretty effective in these situations.

The omega looked down and stared at his hard cock. It was tempting to wank and there really was no reason why he couldn't touch himself now...

Giving into desire, Arthur grabbed his cock with one hand and started lightly fisting it while he used his other hand to massage his balls. Closing his eyes, he imagined it was Alfred's mouth over his cock. The thought of that made him quiver and he started humping his cock into his hand even faster. He kept rubbing himself until his cock and balls stiffened and slick spurted out.

Once his cock was flaccid, the cold shower started to work. After his arousal died down, Arthur stayed in the shower for another ten minutes before he got out. He wrapped a towel around himself and opened the door. He could smell the arousal still heavy in Alfred's scent but he did his best to ignore it as he walked into his bedroom to get dressed.

"Ready for dinner?" Arthur asked in his normal voice as he walked out of his bedroom.

Sensing that Arthur had cooled off helped Alfred's own arousal to die down too, much to the alpha's relief. "You know it."

They went into the kitchen and Arthur looked around for something they could make.

Arthur boiled a pot of rice and gave Alfred a few vegetables to chop. They steamed the vegetables while the rice cooked. There was leftover chicken in the refrigerator that Arthur heated up once everything else was done cooking.

"I like when we cook like this," Alfred said while Arthur was facing away from him.

"I'm happy to hear it. You're quite the chef now," Arthur teased.

"All because of you," Alfred replied with a grin that made the omega blush.

They watched a movie after dinner. The moment the movie was done, they said "good night" to each other before Arthur went to sleep in his nest while Alfred got comfortable on the couch.

It was their standard sleeping arrangement, but the omega regretted making his nest in his bedroom again. He had been tempted to make his nest on the floor by the couch. Arthur knew Alfred wouldn't sleep in the nest with him, but he thought it would have been nice to be in the same room as the alpha while they slept. Arthur didn't do this because he was afraid of the message it would send. He didn't know what kind of message it would give exactly, but he knew that moving the location of his nest was a big deal.

It was early in the morning when Arthur woke up. He didn't have an erection but he was really randy. As he shifted in his nest, he couldn't get comfortable enough to go back to sleep. He went to the loo and turned on the light. It was too bright so he promptly turned it off.

There was a nightlight attached to the outlet that dimly illuminated the room enough for him to see where he was going. He walked to the sink and rinsed his face. Since he was too horny to go to sleep, he figured he should at least be awake enough to masturbate.

The plan was to return to his nest to wank but splashing water on his face had given him an idea. He got undressed from his nightclothes and placed them on the wide flat edge of the tub. Then he quietly stepped around the shower curtain to get into the tub. Arthur turned on the faucet and played around with the temperatures until it was perfectly warm. Then he lied on his back, lifted his legs up to rest his feet on the tiled wall, and scooted forward until the water jetting down from the faucet was pouring directly over his soft cock.

He closed his eyes and enjoyed the pressure of the water gushing over his member. Reaching down, he lifted his cock up to feel the pressure of the water against his balls. The second the water hit his sack Arthur let out a tiny moan. He softly humped his hips up so the water could hit every part of his prostate.

With his free hand, he pulled his sack up so the water could reach the part of his balls that was closest to his perineum, While holding his balls in place, his fingers gently massaged the sensitive bundle of nerves which made his cock start to bounce up. He rolled his scrotum between his fingers, lightly squeezing and rubbing. Then he changed how he was holding them so the water could hit another are of his sack.

While he was fondling his balls, his other hand teased his hardening cock. He thumbed at the head while his fingers kneaded around the girth. Then he held his cock in a way so that the water could beat over the length of his cock.

"Fuck," Arthur quietly moaned. Then he held the head of his cock under the strong stream and had to bite back a moan as a wave of pleasure washed over him.

Hardly able to handle the pressure, Arthur pressed his ass against the floor of the tub and clenched his ass as the surging water continued hitting his cock and balls.

Arthur started stroking the length of his cock while letting the water massage his balls. His thighs started to tremble as his balls became taut and his cock sprayed out slick all over himself.

Arthur's breathing was ragged and his heart was pounding. He wanted to orgasm again but was simply too spent. Getting his feet off the wall, Arthur turned off the water before lying back down on the tub. He was too tired to walk to his room so he decided to relax for a bit.

 


 

Arthur must have dozed off in the tub because the sound of the door closing stirred him out of his sleep.

Alfred was leaning against the wall in the dark. He went to the bathroom to calm himself down but the powerful smell of Arthur's heat seemed even more potent in the bathroom. It only riled his passions further and made him even hornier.

Although Alfred promised himself that he wouldn't jack off at Arthur's apartment again, he had a wet dream about the omega. Arthur, who was naked and had an erection in the dream, had taken Alfred into his nest and taken off the alpha's clothes. Then Arthur got on all fours and patted his ass, begging for Alfred to help him climax. So Alfred had penetrated Arthur's ass and kept fucking him, but neither of them were able to climax. Their cocks just kept getting bigger as the dream went on.

The alpha woke up with his cock feeling really hard. He tried to ignore it but it almost felt like his cock was getting harder and harder as the minutes ticked on. He planned on washing his face with cold water until he felt less sexually aroused, but the smell of Arthur's heat was strong enough to give him an erection if he didn't have one already.

Giving in to his urges, Alfred closed his eyes tight, reached under his boxers, and started to fist his erection. Arthur couldn't see any of this but he clearly heard the ragged breaths Alfred made, and in this silence Arthur could hear the sound of skin rubbing skin as Alfred rubbed his cock. The sounds Alfred made and the smell of the alpha made Arthur's cock hard again.

Arthur bit his lip, not wanting to interrupt. He attempted to stay still but his cock pulsed with a need to be touched. Unable to resist, Arthur slowly and lightly rolled the head of his cock between his fingers. There was still some cum on the tip from when he ejaculated, so he started to spread it around until everything was smooth with his slick.

When Arthur heard Alfred grunt in pleasure, Arthur's wet ass tightened in response as if it wanted to squeeze around Alfred's cock. Arthur held back a whimper as he kept lightly stroking his shaft, now rubbing the cum over the length of the cock.

Alfred kept rubbing his member, wishing he was pumping his erection inside Arthur instead of his fist. He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply as he felt himself getting closer. The alpha quickly reached beside the toilet to grab some tissues from the roll, then he covered the head of his cock and continued rubbing.

"God, Arthur," Alfred moaned and Arthur had to tightly grip the base of his cock to make sure he didn't come. Tears welled in Arthur's eyes as his cock painfully throbbed against his grip, begging for release.

There was a muffled moan as Alfred climaxed, ejaculating into the tissues. Arthur almost allowed a moan to escape when the smell of the alpha's semen hit his nose. His hole automatically started clenching again and again as it ached to be filled by Alfred's cock.

Alfred panted softly for a moment before he flushed down the soiled tissues. Then he washed his hands with soap and water before leaving the bathroom.

Once Alfred was gone, Arthur let go of his cock and slick gushed everywhere. He stayed where he was a while longer until he felt like it was a safe rinse as much cum from the tub and shower walls as he could. Then he quietly retreated to his nest.

 


 

Morning came several hours later. Alfred was able to get some sleep but Arthur could not. He kept replaying what happened in the washroom. It really bothered him that they couldn't just have sex.

Arthur hadn't even seen another man's bare cock in a year. As much as he wanted to feel Alfred's cock inside him, to taste the alpha's cock in his mouth, and to have Alfred's mouth over his own cock, Arthur wasn't sure if he could handle any more of this. He was getting tired of all the wanking.

Despite having the urge to wake Alfred up and ask the alpha to fuck him, Arthur remained in his bed. He tossed off several more times throughout the night until he fell asleep.

When Arthur finally woke up, he found Alfred on the couch watching something one Betaflix.

"Morning," Arthur greeted.

"Good afternoon," Alfred said back. "Did you get any sleep?"

Arthur looked at his phone. It was half-past two. "Sorry, yeah. I had a hard time falling asleep but I guess I got some sleep in the end."

He sat down next to the alpha and tapped his fingers on his knees as he debated telling him what happened last night. Or was it early this morning? It didn't matter. What mattered was that they were both sexually attracted to each other and that maybe it didn't make sense anymore to keep waiting.

"So I had an idea," Alfred said nervously, stirring Arthur out of his thoughts. "It might not be a good idea, I don't know, but it's an idea."

"Okay..." Arthur said slowly. Maybe he didn't have to say anything to Alfred. Maybe the alpha was about to confess similar sentiments.

Alfred ran his fingers through his hair and looked at the ground. "I know being in heat makes it difficult for you to focus long enough to read and stuff... so I thought maybe it would be kinda cool if I read a few pages of the book for you since you can't read it right now," Alfred suggested.

It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever offered the omega. Of course Arthur preferred reading to himself, but he deeply appreciated the gesture. The fact that he couldn't kiss Alfred made him even more frustrated.

Alfred could smell the frustration mixed in Arthur's scent. He pouted a bit and mumbled, "I guess it was a silly idea."

"No, it wasn't. I just," Arthur looked at Alfred and couldn't bring himself to share the thoughts he had been having. Instead, he forced a smile. "It's a good idea, Al. Maybe you can read a few pages after we eat breakfast?"

The alpha beamed at that which made Arthur's heart skip a beat.

They made a quick breakfast and finished eating within ten minutes or so. Alfred cleared the table for Arthur then started to wash the dishes. The alpha had gotten good at washing dishes. He didn't leave any food residue anymore.

While Alfred was washing the dishes, Arthur walked past the couch and sat down on his armchair. He picked up the book he recently started reading and skimmed through the index for a short story that Alfred could read. One title stood out to him toward the bottom of the list.

As Alfred walked toward him, Arthur skipped to page three hundred and ninety-four and handed the book to the alpha. The taller blond glanced down at the title.

"A Song Under A Full Moon," Alfred read out. "Is this one a love story?"

"Read it and we'll find out," Arthur said with a smirk.

Alfred sat down on the couch and stretched his legs out. Arthur decided to stay in his armchair. He wasn't sure if this was a smut story or a fluffy romantic one, so he decided it was better to err on the side of caution and stay away from the alpha.

The story was more of a sci-fi horror, although there were sex scenes that Alfred had to skip over. It was about a green-eyed star-fleet captain who left space when something horrific happened that caused him to lose his whole crew. He went back to Earth and returned to his mate, a civilian blue-eyed alpha. The moment the omega returned home, his alpha started having nightmares that he was a werewolf. As it turned out, the star-fleet captain was inhabited by a parasitic entity called a mære who was causing these nightmares.

Alfred was really interested in the story as he continued to read and Arthur enjoyed watching the alpha. Arthur couldn't believe that this was happening.

"You're amazing," Arthur said under his breath.

"Hmm?" Alfreda asked, not sure if he heard the omega correctly.

Losing his nerve, Arthur answered, "The story's amazing."

"Oh, yeah. It's really cool," Alfred replied. "Do you want me to read another when I'm done?"

Arthur nodded. "You can choose the next one."

Alfred continued the story until they reached the ending. It turned out that the story he read was a sequel, so he flipped back several pages until he reached the original story.

"The next story I'm gonna read is called Mære's Song," Alfred said with an excited grin.

After that day, they spent every day of Arthur's heat together. Alfred continued to read a short story to Arthur every night, which the omega really enjoyed. A lot of the stories were sexual, so Alfred skipped over the sex scenes. Alfred was about to skip another sex scene when Arthur stopped him.

"Can you read the whole story this time?" Arthur asked.

"You... You want me to read the sex scenes?" Alfred asked nervously. Arthur simply nodded in response. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Artie..."

"What's the worst that can happen?" Arthur asked. "I'm already in heat so I'm going to feel randy no matter what you read."

"I know, but —"

"Please?" Arthur asked.

Alfred stared into the omega's captivating green eyes and sighed. Giving in, Alfred complied and didn't censor the next short story he read. When he got to the sex scene, he didn't skip anything.

"The alpha spun his boss's chair around and pressed his foot down on the omega's crotch. The omega moaned from the heavy pressure over his... over his cock," Alfred read in a heavy voice. He ran his fingers through his hair and lightly tugged it in hope that it would snap him out of his arousal. "Artie... Are you sure I should keep reading?"

Arthur shivered from the way Alfred practically moaned out his name.

"Yes," Arthur breathed out.

"Okay... So, um... Then he, uh... he moved his foot from side to side to rub the bulge in the omega's pants. When his boss demanded him to stop, the alpha complied and unzipped his own pants instead. The omega stared hungrily at the alpha's exposed cock —" Alfred paused, unable to bring himself to read the rest of the page.

"Keep going," Arthur murmured.

There was something in the way Arthur said this that made Alfred continue.

"His lips parted automatically when... when the alpha's, um... when the alpha's gigantic cock touched his lips," Alfred breathed out. He glanced up at Arthur and blushed when he caught the omega's eyes. Then his eyes darted back to the words on the page. "His mouth opened and engulfed the, uh, the humongous cock until his mouth was stuffed with the giant rock hard cock, ah geez, Art."

"Please don't stop," Arthur begged.

Alfred couldn't bring himself to disappoint the omega, so he read for several more minutes and started to relax once the sex scene was finally over. Toward the end of the story, they reached another sex scene. Alfred kept licking his lips that suddenly felt dry while he read.

"And what a splendid cock it was. The alpha's mouth opened automatically when the omega's cock nudged against his lips," Alfred said breathily before licking his own lips. Unable to resist, he glanced up at Arthur who was staring back with a heated look. The alpha's heart started pounding when their eyes connected. Then he quickly looked back down at the book. "He swallowed his boss's delicious cock and eagerly sucked it h-hard and fast until he was finally able to drink down the omega's slick."

As arousing as the story was itself, Arthur was more aroused from watching Alfred read it. Arthur loved when Alfred's eyes became heavy with desire and a shiver ran down his spine each time their eyes locked. He smirked to himself when Alfred would immediately look away when that happened.

Arthur noticed that Alfred's tone would get heavier at certain passages that aroused him the most. Every time Alfred swallowed, Arthur watched intently as the alpha's Adam's apple bounced, and Arthur just knew Alfred was swallowing back his yearning.

It was just so clear that Alfred wanted to have sex with Arthur just as badly as Arthur wanted to have sex with the alpha. Now that Arthur was completely certain of this, it was something that was impossible to ignore.

 

Chapter Text

After Alfred went home to masturbate on Wednesday night, he drove to Arthur's flat to see the omega again. They cooked and ate dinner together, then they went to the living room. Alfred went to pick up the book he had been reading to the omega over the last few nights but Arthur took it out of the alpha's hand and set it down on the armchair.

"I don't want to read tonight," Arthur said in a heavy voice that made Alfred's heart race.

"What do you wanna do?" Alfred asked.

Arthur steadied his breath. He was sure that what he wanted to propose would change everything between them. The idea of losing everything they had now was worth the risk though because Arthur simply couldn't handle his feelings anymore, especially during his heat. It was simply too difficult for him.

"I want to have sex," Arthur declared.

"We can't," Alfred stated as his face and neck became red from the suggestion.

"Yes we can," Arthur whined.

There was something about Arthur's voice, in the way Arthur sounded like he desperately wanted him, that made Alfred's cock throb and a shiver run down his spine. The smell of Arthur's heat suddenly filled his senses and it quickly became very tempting to give in to his urges.

"You're in heat," Alfred responded once he regained his composure. "Our first time shouldn't be while you're in heat. Remember, you said the hormones make it difficult to think clearly."

"I don't care. That doesn't matter to me," Arthur said.

"But it matters to me," Alfred insisted.

"Why?" Arthur asked.

"Because I... I'm," Alfred hesitated as his heart started pounding. He swallowed hard and pushed himself to speak as clearly as he could manage. "I'm in love with you."

After months of dancing around his feelings, Alfred finally admitted it out loud. This was not the way he ever thought he would tell Arthur. He had hoped to tell Arthur sometime after they started dating; if they ever started dating that is.

So much for that plan.

Arthur was quiet as Alfred's words repeated over and over in Arthur's mind. The declaration shouldn't have surprised him but it did because Alfred sounded so sincere that Arthur nearly believed him.

"So you can't have sex with me because you're in love with me?" Arthur asked. "Doesn't that sound a bit mad?"

Alfred ran his fingers through his hair as he attempted to stay in control over his feelings. It was really difficult for him to turn down the omega's advances but he knew it would be a nightmare for him later if they gave in to their desires tonight.

"Do you love me?" Alfred asked. When Arthur didn't answer, he took the silence as the rejection he expected to get. "Do you still believe you can't fall in love with anyone without being just friends with them for at least two years first?"

"I don't know," Arthur whispered.

"Yes you do," Alfred asserted.

Arthur looked away and frowned a bit. "Fine, yes, of course I still think that. But, Al, I need you now! I can't wait another bleeding year."

Alfred reached over and held Arthur's hand. "I really want to, Artie, but it would destroy me if later on you told me you could never know if you loved me or not because we did this too soon."

The omega didn't say anything for a moment. The rejection hurt and it took every bit of strength he had to keep himself from crying. All he could manage was to mumble out, "I'm going to bed."

"Artie —" Before Alfred could say anything else, Arthur ran to his bedroom and slammed the door shut. He curled into his nest and started to cry.

Alfred could hear Arthur's muffled sobs but there was nothing he could do to help. The only way Arthur wanted to be comforted right now was with physical intimacy, specifically sex, which was something Alfred couldn't offer him. He loved the omega too much to ruin a possible future they might have together.

So he stayed on the couch and tried his best to go to sleep.

 


 

Alfred was so worried about Arthur that he barely got any sleep. When his alarm went off, he reluctantly left to go to work. It was a rough day since he was so tired. He kept wondering how Arthur was doing but the omega didn't reply to any of his texts. This only made Alfred more concerned. He counted down the hours until work was finally over, then he rushed straight to the omega's apartment.

He almost didn't expect Arthur to open the door but was relieved to see Arthur's face.

"Hey," Alfred greeted with a smile.

"Hi," Arthur said.

The omega's expression was unreadable. Alfred couldn't tell how Arthur was feeling.

"I hope you had a good day," Alfred said nervously as he walked inside. When Arthur didn't say anything, Alfred asked, "Do you feel like watching a movie or something?"

"Whatever," Arthur grumbled.

While Alfred sat on the couch, Arthur grabbed the remote by the telly and turned it on. Then he walked toward the couch and was about to sit down when a sudden urge to kiss Alfred took over, so he sat on the armchair instead.

"What are you doing?" Alfred asked when he realized that Arthur wasn't going to sit next to him.

"Sitting," Arthur answered flatly.

"You can sit next to me if you want," Alfred said.

"No, I can't," Arthur whispered.

"What was that?" Alfred asked. Arthur didn't repeat himself, so Alfred said, "It's cool if you wanna sit there. It's just that you were cool with sitting next to me this whole time and I... I mean, um, I guess I'm just worried that you're mad at me..."

Arthur sighed. He didn't mean to make Alfred feel so bad. Without saying anything, Arthur went to the couch and sat down as far away from Alfred as possible, which was only marginally better than Arthur sitting in the armchair.

Neither of them could pay attention to the telly as the movie played. Alfred was still worried about Arthur so he noticed every subtle movement the omega made. This meant that he wasn't able to ignore how aroused Arthur and his scent made him. When the omega exhaled or slightly moved on the couch, Alfred had to take in a deep breath to control his urges. Meanwhile, Arthur couldn't help but notice how intense Alfred's scent became as the alpha grew more and more aroused.

Once the movie was over, Arthur grabbed the remote and pointed it toward the telly. "What do you want to watch next?"

"Anything is fine," Alfred answered.

Arthur was going to pick another movie but his repressed feelings took control, making him turn off the telly instead. His eyes widened slightly from what he had just done but he didn't want to turn the telly back on. Another movie was the last thing he needed.

"Alfred," Arthur said slowly. He really fancied the way the name felt on his tongue. "I can smell how much you want me. I know you smell how much I want you. So why are we torturing ourselves?"

"We already went over this. It hasn't been two years yet," Alfred said feebly.

"So? We really fancy each other. We don't need to be in love or in a relationship to enjoy each other physically," Arthur stated.

"I can't have sex with you, Artie, not like this," Alfred said even though it killed him to say it.

Arthur frowned. "Why not? It's just sex."

"You know why," Alfred said sternly. "And it's not 'just sex'. You know it means a lot more to me than that."

"We don't have to go all the way," Arthur said softly as he moved closer to Alfred and took the alpha's hand. "We could just touch each other a bit, just enough so we can get a release."

Before Alfred knew what was happening, Arthur moved Alfred's hand until it was pressed down on Arthur's groin. Alfred could feel the omega's cock bulging through his clothes. Then Arthur pressed Alfred's hand harder against it, and Alfred sucked in a breath when he felt Arthur's cock throb.

"A-Arthur," Alfred whimpered.

Alfred's mouth began to water as desire quickly started to overtake him. His fingers twitched as he attempted to resist the intense urge to grab Arthur's cock so he could fondle and stroke it. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to pull his hand away from Arthur's grasp.

"I can't," Alfred said in a trembling voice. "Our first time can't be like this. I think we should wait, just like you wanted —"

"But it's foolish to wait! You keep wanting to wait as if the future is promised to us but we don't know what will happen tomorrow," Arthur practically shouted with tears welling in his eyes. "There may never be another time for us to do this. The only thing that's guaranteed to us is right here and right now."

Arthur's words made Alfred's chest tighten. He wanted so much to give Arthur what he wanted, especially since it was something that Alfred wanted too.

"I get what you're saying," Alfred said slowly. "Really, I do. People always say to live every day like it's your last but it usually isn't our last day. That means we'll have to live with our mistake —"

"Are you saying I would be a mistake?" Arthur asked with tears running down his cheeks.

"What? No! Of course not. How could you even ask me that?" Alfred exclaimed. "I just meant that I really want us to be together, Artie. I want to be in a relationship with you without you feeling like you're only with me because of hormones. If that means I have to wait another year for us to have a real chance then that's what I want to do."

Arthur frowned as he stared down at his lap. There was a long thick silence that stretched out between them.

"I'm sorry, Artie," Alfred said softly.

Arthur didn't say anything. He wiped the tears from his eyes and focused on his breathing.

"Art?" Alfred said quietly.

Arthur was silent for a moment longer before he asked, "Do you want to watch me?"

"Watch you?" Alfred repeated meekly.

"Yes," Arthur answered, sounding more confident than before.

"What do you mean?" Alfred asked.

"I mean watch me — just watch. That's all. You don't have to do anything else," Arthur said. Before Alfred could ask another question, Arthur pulled his shirt over his head.

Alfred's heart started to race when he saw Arthur's beautiful body. It was the first time he had ever seen Arthur's chest. Even when they went to the beach, Arthur had worn a shirt the entire time. The omega's chest was smooth and didn't have any hair except for the light peach fuzz that was practically invisible. His nipples were small, strawberry pink, and erect.

Arthur's body was the most perfect body Alfred had ever seen and he hadn't even seen all of it yet.

Yet. That single word that somehow tagged onto Alfred's thought made his breath hitch from anticipation.

"Since you won't touch me, will you watch me?" Arthur asked again while slowly tracing his finger over one of his nipples. "Please?"

Alfred was about to say something to stop Arthur from going any further, but all he could focus on was Arthur and the wonderful smell of the omega's pungent scent. Then Arthur lifted his hips and pulled down his pants until they dropped on their own around his feet, revealing the skimpy red panties that were underneath. Then Arthur brought his feet on the couch and turned to face Alfred.

The panties barely covered anything so Alfred could easily see Arthur's soft cock peeking out from either side of the fabric. Alfred's breath hitched in his throat again as he stared hard at the omega's crotch. He opened his mouth to say something responsible, to mention how bad of an idea this was, but he couldn't bring himself to.

"You're really going to watch me?" Arthur whispered in disbelief when he realized that Alfred was doing nothing to stop him.

Of course, it wasn't too late for Arthur to stop himself, but he could tell that Alfred was really enjoying this and Arthur suddenly felt inclined to please the alpha.

"Okay," Arthur said as a warning that he was actually going to go through with this.

When Alfred didn't move away, Arthur slowly pulled his lace panties over his thighs until they were near his knees, then he brought his legs up to his chest so he wouldn't have to stand up to take off his panties. As he did this, Alfred had a perfect view of Arthur's ass and prostate

While Arthur was pulling the panties over his knees and up the rest of his legs, Alfred took in every detail that was in front of him. His eyes savored Arthur's pale ass, the dark pink hole that was already leaking heat slick that made Alfred automatically lick his lips, the balls that were smaller than his own and that could probably fit together inside his mouth with ease, and a tantalizing glimpse of Arthur's supple cock.

Once Arthur got the panties off his ankles, he started to lower his legs which prompted Alfred to get up from the seat of the couch to sit on the armrest instead. This was as far as Alfred could manage to distance himself from Arthur since every inch of him wanted to devour the omega and pleasure him until Arthur was screaming in rapturous ecstasy.

Arthur sat with his legs bent and his feet flat on the cushion between the alpha's legs on the edge of the couch cushion. Alfred moved his legs further apart to avoid contact with Arthur. The omega then lied down until his head was against the base of the other armrest, then he stared at Alfred with hooded eyes to see if the alpha wanted him to continue.

Alfred didn't say anything but his eyes hungrily raked in every detail of Arthur's body. Arthur had never seen Alfred look at anything with such intensity before. Then Alfred's focus shifted back down to Arthur's lightly flushed cock and he swallowed hard before wetting his lips with his tongue.

Spreading his legs apart so Alfred could have a nice clear view, Arthur reached between his inner thighs and trailed his fingers up and down along his hardening cock. He repeated these motions several times before daintily rolling his cock head between his fingers. There were a few beads of precum on the tip of Arthur's cock that the omega rubbed around until his cock head glistened from the slick.

Alfred sucked in a sharp breath that made Arthur's cock pulse as it extended another inch in hardness. The half hard cock was now pointing up at Alfred, which made saliva trail down at the corners of the alpha's mouth as he stared at the omega's member with hooded eyes. Alfred's musky scent was so heavy with pheromones that it made Arthur's cock bounce further up as it swelled a little larger. The intoxicating smell made Arthur whimper. All he wanted was to feel Alfred inside him.

The way Alfred's blue eyes followed every movement he made pleased Arthur so much that slick started seeping from the slit of his cock and down his length. The omega rubbed his finger against the wet slit before his fingers glided down over his length and moved underneath his cock to reach his sack. He let out a soft sigh the second he touched his balls. His scrotum was already extra sensitive during his heat but felt even more sensitive with Alfred's attentive blue eyes watching him.

He rolled his testicle between his fingers, massaging the sensitive flesh before moving onto the other. A shiver went through Arthur's body from the way Alfred followed his every movement.

"Do you like what you see?" Arthur asked in a heavy voice even though he already knew the answer.

"Yes," Alfred quickly answered because he couldn't allow Arthur to have any doubt about that. Everything about Arthur's body was both beautiful and sexy. Everything. "God you're so gorgeous, Arthur. Every part of you is just so beautiful."

The compliment made Arthur inadvertently jerk his hips up as his body tingled and cock throbbed with pleasure. Arthur swallowed down a moan as he continued rubbing his balls with one hand while rubbing one of his nipples with the other. He moved his hand to his other nipple and started rolling and pulling it between his thumb and index finger.

"God," Alfred softly groaned as he watched the omega's cock stiffen into a full erection. Alfred leaned toward the omega which made Arthur's beautiful pink cock twitch excitedly from anticipation. This made Alfred whimper from frustration.

He wanted to kiss Arthur and rub the omega's cock, he wanted Arthur's length to fill his mouth — to suck it until Arthur's sweet juices hit his throat so he could drink down every drop. He wanted to thrust his cock inside Arthur's deliciously wet hole until they were knotted.

Alfred wanted to love every inch of Arthur but he forced himself to stay where he was by digging his fingers deep into the armrest until his nails started to break through the upholstery. He closed his eyes for a second and gripped the couch even tighter. Alfred took in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself.

When Alfred opened his eyes again, he saw Arthur's green eyes staring back at him, heavy with desire. While Alfred's eyes had been closed, Arthur had looked down at the alpha's crotch and noticed the erection that was protruding against the shorts. Arthur couldn't help but stare at it. His hole eagerly tightened with the desire to be penetrated by Alfred's hard cock.

Arthur's plump cock was starting to turn red from how hard he was. The omega traced his wet fingers down to the base of his cock, then wrapped his fingers around his shaft. He swiftly moved his hand up and down as he started stroking himself. The strokes over his red swollen cock became fast and rough while his breathing became heavy and ragged.

"Fuck, Arthur!" Alfred breathed out when he felt Arthur's feet press against the sides of his ass while Arthur's lower legs pressed against Alfred's upper thighs. Alfred grabbed onto Arthur's legs and held them tightly as he tried to keep himself from flipping Arthur over so he could plunge his cock inside Arthur's needy hole.

Feeling Alfred's hands on him made Arthur's body tremble. Arthur sucked his bottom lip between his teeth as his cock throbbed and his balls tightened. Cum spurted out of his cock and the smell of Arthur's sex filled the air as the slick splattered all over the omega's body.

Alfred held onto Arthur's legs tighter as his body started shaking and semen shot out against his shorts. He panted as more cum shot out until his erection diminished.

"Gods, you smell so bloody good," Arthur moaned with his eyes rolling back as he enjoyed the waves of pleasure that continued to surge through his body.

"Arthur," Alfred moaned out in an unspoken protest.

Alfred couldn't stop staring at the omega. Arthur lying on his back, eyes half closed, eyebrows lightly furrowed, cheeks flushed from the recent orgasm, and cum patterned all over the omega's body and couch. The smell of Arthur's heat slick made Alfred want to lick every drop of cum off the omega before pounding his cock inside Arthur's hole. He wanted it so badly that he wasn't sure if he would be able to stop himself, especially after what just happened. And he knew that Arthur would fully welcome it.

"I, I'm sorry," Alfred said as he felt his cock start to rise just from the sight of Arthur's slick and the smell of the omega's heat.

"What?" Arthur asked in a bit of a daze. The omega's strong delightful scent slowly started to sour from worry.

Alfred stood up only to realize that his cum had seeped through his shorts and oozed into the armrest. "I'm sorry, I, I need to go."

"Why?" Arthur asked as he immediately sat up even though his body felt a little weak from the recent orgasm. As Alfred gathered his things in his arms, Arthur said, "We don't have to do that again. I think it's good that we tried it though. Now we know and —"

"I'm sorry," Alfred said, unable to handle being around the omega another second. "I just, I have to go."

"Alfred," Arthur protested. He stood up to follow after Alfred but suddenly felt vulnerable from being naked and covered in slick. "Please."

Alfred knew that Arthur's heat would end sometime tonight or tomorrow morning, so he said, "I'll see you at lunch tomorrow."

"Do you really have to leave right now? Especially after what we just did?" Arthur asked as he hugged his arms around himself. "Couldn't you stay for a few minutes?"

"I'm sorry but I can't," Alfred said as he went to open the door.

"Can you... can you at least leave something?" Arthur whispered.

Alfred raised an eyebrow in confusion.

"Something with your scent..." Arthur pushed himself to explain.

"Oh, yeah, here," Alfred said as he walked to Arthur and handed the omega the nightclothes he had worn since Arthur's heat started that month.

When Arthur took the clothes, he touched Alfred's hand which made the alpha's heart race. Alfred ran his fingers through Arthur's hair that had traces of slick in it and started to lean down until he caught himself. He abruptly pulled his hand away and started walking toward the door.

"Alfred," Arthur called out.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Alfred said before leaving Arthur's flat.

 

Chapter Text

It was Friday morning and Alfred's day was already long and miserable. He didn't get any sleep so he kept nodding off every few minutes at work. The only thing that got him through the grueling hours that dragged on was the idea that he would see Arthur at lunch, although he was sure it would be awkward at first since Arthur was probably upset at him for leaving last night. That would explain why Arthur had been ignoring Alfred's texts all morning.

Alfred couldn't blame Arthur for being upset. Truthfully, Alfred felt a little upset at himself for not being strong enough to stay. It was the last day of Arthur's heat so it was possible that Arthur was going through an unexpected surge of hormones. As the alpha, he should have been there to guide and protect Arthur. He should have stopped Arthur before things got too far.

Or maybe Alfred shouldn't have been there in the first place. After staying with Arthur during his heat in February, March, and April — he should have declined when Arthur asked again in May. Deep down Alfred always knew it was a bad idea to be around Arthur during his heat but he kept pushing those thoughts away because he got to spend so many extra hours with the Englishman that he wouldn't get otherwise. They got to do a lot of things together that they usually didn't have time for, and being able to smell Arthur's arousal was a great bonus too, especially since Alfred knew he was the cause of it.

Still, Alfred should have pushed himself to turn down the offer. Then none of this would have ever happened.

Alfred sighed as he looked at his phone again. Arthur still didn't text him but Arthur was usually bad at responding right away. Sometimes Arthur even forgot to reply until the following day. There was a chance that Arthur understood why he left and that Arthur wasn't upset at all. This possibility helped Alfred relax until he took his lunch break. He was so eager to talk to Arthur that he went straight to their usual table. Arthur wasn't there so he sat down and waited.

Ten minutes went by and Arthur still didn't show up. Alfred reluctantly left to buy himself lunch but he kept his eyes on the table the entire time so he could know when Arthur arrived.

But Arthur never came.

Alfred suddenly felt worse for leaving the previous night. If he had stayed, he could have reassured Arthur that this didn't have to change anything. He could have explained that he still wanted to wait for the rest of the year so they could have a shot together. Maybe he would have even made the mature decision to stop coming over during Arthur's heat. Arthur probably wouldn't have liked that, especially since the omega seemed to be getting attached to Alfred's scent. But Alfred didn't have to physically be there for Arthur to have his scent. He could offer to start giving Arthur articles of his clothing that he wore to help the omega through his heat.

There were so many better ways to have handled the situation and it frustrated Alfred that none of them occurred to him until now.

Soon lunch was over and Alfred had to go back to work. The rest of the day somehow went by even slower than before but it eventually came to an end. Alfred stayed at work a little longer than usual as he tried to decide what to do. He considered checking up on Arthur to see if he was okay but Alfred wasn't sure if he should since Arthur still hadn't replied to any of his messages. Dropping by unannounced would probably make everything worse, especially if Arthur happened to need a little time to himself.

With a sigh, Alfred finally left his cubicle and went out into the empty hallway to wait for the elevator. A few minutes passed by before he realized that he hadn't pressed the button. He rolled his eyes at himself before he pressed the "down" button and resumed waiting.

A hand touched Alfred's shoulder making the American's heart jump. He turned around half expecting to see Arthur but instead he saw a dirty blond man with blue-violet eyes. Alfred recognized the man instantly. He was Ivan Braginski, a temp worker who was hired for a month-long project at Alfred's job. Ivan had already worked at the company for three weeks and the only thing Alfred knew about him was that he had a thing for alphas, or maybe the only alpha Ivan was interested in was Yao. Either way, Alfred didn't know much about the Russian.

"Hello, Mr. Jones," Ivan greeted.

"Oh, hey Mr. Brad-ids-stee, I mean, Brid-hands-skii? Um, maybe I should just call you 'Ivan'? I mean, you're about to leave anyway so it should be cool to call you that, right?" Alfred said while looking up at the much taller man. Alfred only knew the Russian's first name because that was what Yao called him. Everyone else called Ivan by his last name except for Alfred who avoided calling him anything.

"Da," Ivan grumbled.

"Oh, I guess you're still in a bad mood, huh? I feel you there," Alfred said.

During a meeting today, Ivan made a proposal to make the company site more user-friendly. Usually, Yao supported Ivan's ideas during the meetings, and vice versa, but today Yao didn't say anything at all so Ivan's idea was ignored. Ivan's scent became very faint after that, which Alfred only noticed because he found the Russian's scent thick and repulsive. Of course, the fact that Ivan's scent became faint instead of becoming bitter, sour, or foul suggested that Ivan was sad about what happened.

Ivan simply smiled as he stared at the elevator doors. "Da, don't worry about it. I'm just happy everyone let me feel included."

It was at that moment that the elevator arrived. They walked inside and Alfred pressed the button for the lobby. It was just the two of them in the elevator, which could have been awkward but they were both too sad to really notice the other alpha's presence.

As they got closer to the lobby floor, Ivan suddenly asked, "Do you drink? We should get drinks. We could do, what you Americans call it? Pub hop? Bar crawl?"

"I don't know," Alfred said slowly. He didn't want to go out anywhere in case Arthur wanted him to come over.

The second the elevator doors opened, Ivan rushed out without saying goodbye. Alfred took his time as he walked out of the building. He was tempted to text Arthur but he didn't want to wake him if the omega was asleep. But he also didn't want to go home.

"Damn," Alfred cursed to himself, realizing that it probably would have been a good idea to go drinking with Ivan. At least it would have been something to do. Besides, maybe it would have helped pass the time until Arthur texted him back.

Alfred decided to go on a walk, which was probably a bad idea since he was tired and barely had any energy, but running often made him feel better so he figured that a walk might be helpful too.

After walking around for fifteen minutes or so, Alfred still felt miserable because Arthur still hadn't texted him. There was a bar across the street that was between two empty alleyways. It had red neon signs that somehow felt welcoming, so Alfred carefully crossed the street and went inside.

The bar was so dimly lit that Alfred could barely see where anything was. Most of the light came from the televisions that were suspended in the air. Each television was showing a different sports game and had several people sitting nearby.

Despite how dark it was, there were a lot of people in the bar. There was a bartender, of course, with short dirty blond hair that was styled up like fiery spikes. He smoked from a pipe between fixing drinks for people. There were people watching and shouting at the TVs. Some people were laughing at nothing and having a great time. There were several lustful drunken couples kissing throughout the bar. In one corner there was a blond with shoulder-length hair making out with a short haired blond. At another corner, there was a dark haired man necking a shorter man. There was also a short-haired blond making out with a redhead against the wall by the bathrooms.

This was definitely not the kind of place Alfred felt comfortable in. The moment he turned to walk out the bar, the bartender said, "Hoi! Wat wil je?"

"What?" Alfred asked as he walked toward the bartender.

"Sorry. For some reason, I thought you spoke Dutch. It's the crap lighting in here," the bartender said as he placed his pipe on the counter. Now that Alfred was standing closer, he could see the man's face better. The bartender had a vertical scar on his forehead and his eyes seemed to change between amber, green, and blue — depending on the light. "Anyway, what will you have?"

"Oh, um," Alfred hesitated. Before the bartender said anything, Alfred had decided to go home. But there wasn't anything waiting for him at home so maybe it was a good idea to stay. "I guess I'll have a beer?"

The bartender nodded and filled a tall mug for him. "Here you are."

"Thanks," Alfred said as he pulled out the nearest bar chair and sat down.

Alfred sipped the beer as he peered around the bar. His attention kept drifting over to the two blonds at the corner. They were getting very heated in their kissing. It was almost too inappropriate for even a bar environment.

"Get a room," Alfred mumbled under his breath. Arthur would have laughed if he was there to hear him.

Alfred pulled out his phone and went to his texts to see if Arthur said anything but there were no new messages. He sighed before gulping down the rest of his beer.

"I'll have another," Alfred said.

Once he was given his second beer, he sipped it while he watched one of the sports games. He was nearly done with his beer when he started looking around the room again. Several people were still making out but the two blonds he saw earlier had disappeared. Now there were two new blonds who were making out. One had extremely long, straight blond hair that went down to the middle of his back. It was so perfect that it reminded Alfred of an elf character from one of his favorite movies. The man wore a white shirt with a red collar. The blond he was kissing had stringy, shoulder-length hair and looked like someone who probably went through a goth phase in high school.

"Another?" the bartender asked when Alfred's mug was empty.

Alfred absentmindedly nodded his head before remembering that he had to drive home. He quickly turned to the bartender to stop him but was too late. Taking a sip from the beer so it wasn't a total waste, Alfred then paid the bartender for the beers. He stood up and immediately felt a strong pressure weighing down on his lower belly.

"This might be a dumb question but do you need a key or code for the bathroom?" Alfred asked.

"No," the bartender laughed.

Alfred knew it was a silly question but he really needed to pee and didn't want to have any unpleasant surprises. He weaved through the tables until he reached the back of the bar where there were hardly any people. Even the couple making out against the wall had left.

When Alfred opened the door, he found the two blonds who had disappeared earlier. The longer haired one was fucking the shorter haired blond against the wall. When Alfred said to get a room, he didn't mean the restroom.

Grimacing, Alfred quickly passed by them to use the urinal. It took a moment for him to feel comfortable enough to pee. The alpha was grunting and groaning and Alfred could smell the alpha's scent over the smell of the dirty restroom. Finally, Alfred managed to push himself to pee. The second he was done, he hastily zipped up and briskly walked over to the sink.

As he was washing his hands he accidentally glanced at the mirror and saw that the blonds were still fucking against the wall behind him.

Just as Alfred was about to look away, the blond alpha lifted the other blond further up against the wall and started kissing at his neck. Alfred's heart plummeted when the short haired blond tilted his head toward his direction. He looked just like Arthur, but it couldn't be Arthur. Alfred couldn't pick up Arthur's scent at all.

"Arthur?" Alfred whispered as he turned around to face the two blonds.

"Alfred?" Arthur murmured, sounding confused. His eyes fluttered open and saw Alfred staring back at him. Then his eyes became wide with horror and his muted scent suddenly became sour with fear when he smelled the sharp odor that radiated from the American.

Alfred had the urge to pull the two apart so he could beat the alpha that was violating Arthur. His arms twitched with the urge to do just that but he managed to rush outside the bathroom instead. The instant he got out, he knocked into a chair and groaned from the shooting pain in his knee. Stumbling forward, he walked into a table and fell over, dropping his glasses the moment he hit the ground.

"Fuck!" he shouted. As much as he wanted to run out the bar, he couldn't without his glasses. He felt around the grimy floor until he found them.

"Alfred," Arthur called out.

Alfred put on his glasses and saw Arthur staring down at him.

"Fancy seeing you here," Arthur said in a futile attempt to make light of the situation.

"What the hell were you doing in there?" Alfred shouted as he got on his feet.

Arthur opened his mouth slightly as a guilty expression fell over his face. Then he frowned before stating, "It's none of your bloody business."

Alfred's hands balled into fists. "None of my —? Are you fucking kidding me?"

It was at that moment that the other blond alpha walked out of the restroom. He was an older man with a short, scruffy beard and perfectly waxed eyebrows. The man walked behind Arthur and kissed the back of his neck. Alfred had to keep himself from decking the other alpha in the face.

"Gods, Francis, please! Just sod off! I need a bleeding a minute here," Arthur snapped. When Francis kissed him again, Arthur reflexively flinched away.

"Who is your friend? Would he like to join us?" Francis asked between his persistent kisses.

Alfred's nostrils flared as he stood in a way that made him appear taller and broader than usual. His bitter odor was now smoldering to the point that it caught the attention of everyone else in the bar.

Upon smelling Alfred's scent, Francis' frame seemed to shrink as he took a step away from Arthur. Avoiding eye contact with Alfred, he said in a heavy French accent, "Okay, I will just sit over zere."

Arthur expected Francis to give them real space but the Frenchman sat down at a nearby table. The Brit walked toward Alfred, grabbed him by the wrist, and led them to a quiet corner so they could have real privacy.

"Why are you acting like this, Al?" Arthur asked while still holding Alfred's wrist.

Alfred yanked his arm away and shouted, "Why?! You have some other man all over you, fucking you, and you're asking me why I'm angry?"

"You don't own me. I can do whatever I bloody want with whomever I want," Arthur said angrily.

"But we're, we," Alfred stammered, overwhelmed by frustration.

"We? There is no 'we', Alfred. We're not a couple, we're just friends," Arthur said in a wavering voice. "You made that perfectly clear after you refused to have sex with me, remember?"

"You said you wanted to wait until we knew each other for two years," Alfred recalled, his mind feeling more than a little fuzzy. He had only refused Arthur's advances because Arthur himself said he needed time.

"No, I said people should wait at least two years if they want a chance to truly be in love. I never promised myself to you in any kind of way," Arthur shouted, every word piercing through Alfred's heart like a spear.

Alfred rubbed his temples, feeling a migraine coming on. "So you want me to wait another year while you fuck other people?"

"I didn't tell you to wait for me at all," Arthur snapped. "And I never said that I would ever fall in love with you. I can't possibly promise a thing like that. We could know each other for ten years and I still might not love you."

"Then what the hell are we doing?" Alfred cried out, fighting back the tears that started to form in his eyes. "I just, I don't understand. If you don't want anything to happen between us then why do you keep asking me to stay with you during your heat? And last night, why did you do what you did last night?"

"I... because I," Arthur whispered, feeling like a deer in headlights. There were so many things he could and should say that his mind was spinning. Instead of giving a real answer, Arthur deflected by saying, "You're making a total arse out of yourself."

Alfred furrowed his eyebrows. "What?"

"Innit bloody obvious? I just wanted to shag," Arthur said in a cracked voice. Tears started running down his cheek but he was too hurt to notice and it was too dark for Alfred to see them. "I invite you to stay in case you finally wake the bloody hell up and realize that love is just a bunch of rubbish. It doesn't make sense to wait for something that'll never happen."

"So I don't mean anything to you?" Alfred asked in a wavering voice.

"You're my friend, Al, just a friend. Nothing more," Arthur said through the stabbing pain in his chest.

Alfred didn't know what to say. He couldn't bear to look at the omega any longer, so he ran back into the restroom. The first thing he saw was a used condom on the floor where he had seen Arthur being fucked. Suddenly, all he could smell was Francis' repulsive odor. It invaded his nose and penetrated his throat, suffocating him. He started to gag as his body became hot with disgust, anger, and pain.

Rushing to one of the stalls, he dropped to the floor and vomited in the toilet. Even with his face practically inside the uncleaned porcelain bowl, all Alfred could smell was the other alpha's foul stench, which prompted him to heave until he vomited again.

Moving away from the toilet, Alfred stood and leaned against the restroom stall. When the tremors in his legs lessened enough for him to walk, he went to the sink and washed his mouth with cold water until it felt clean. Filling his hands, he washed his face for a few minutes in an attempt to cool down.

Part of him thought Arthur would follow him there to show some kind of sign that he cared. But Alfred was still alone in the restroom. His chest felt ice cold. The biting coldness spread to his arms and down his stomach. He didn't understand how this could be happening. Everything had been going so well. He couldn't understand why Arthur would do this.

By the time Alfred walked out of the restroom he realized that Arthur and Francis had left the bar.

Everywhere he looked just reminded him of Francis kissing and fucking Arthur. He really needed to get out of that bar.

Alfred started running until he reached the front door. As he stormed out, he bumped into someone familiar.

"Alfred?" said Ivan, confused to see the American.

Alfred pushed Ivan into the ground and ran into the deserted alley on the side of the bar's entrance. He placed his hand against the brick wall and hunched over as he resisted the urge to vomit again. He coughed several times but nothing came out. Breathing heavily, he stood up and took in a long, slow breath.

The Russian, who had followed him, grabbed the American's arm and shouted, "Hey!"

Everything was spinning. Alfred felt his stomach contort again. Images of Francis fucking Arthur continued to plague his thoughts until the grip on his arm tightened so much that it burned. Then he finally saw Ivan. And maybe it was the beer in his system or the compulsion he now had to pummel Francis' face to the ground, but Alfred swung his free arm and punched his fist up against Ivan's chin.

Ivan immediately let go to rub his face. Before Alfred could walk away, Ivan shoved the shorter alpha into the wall. He held his forearm hard against Alfred's throat and yelled, "What do you think you are doing?" Then he moved his forearm away from Alfred's throat so he could ram Alfred against the wall again.

"Fuck you," Alfred coughed while leaning against the bricks.

He wasn't cursing at Ivan, he was cursing at Arthur. He started to rub his throat once Ivan stepped away from him. It stung, but not enough to make him forget the wrenching pain in his chest.

"Why doesn't he love me?" Alfred yelled as he punched the wall he had been leaning on. Blood started trailing down his knuckles the second they collided with the bricks. He held his hand and leaned his back against the wall. "Fuck!"

Ivan seemed to understand what Alfred was going through because he gave the American a sympathetic look. Then he walked up to Alfred and grabbed him by the back of his neck before kissing him hard on the mouth.

Alfred didn't react for a few seconds, then he shoved Ivan off of him. Ivan went to kiss Alfred again but Alfred started to run out the alley.

And he didn't stop. He kept running for a long while until he found himself standing in front of his car. Alfred took out his phone and dialed his brother's number as he got inside his car and fell on the seat.

"Hello?" Matthew answered.

Alfred immediately began to cry.

"Al? What happened? What's wrong?"

Alfred choked over a sob before managing to cough out, "He, I saw him with, I, God I'm such a fucking idiot —"

"Wait, who are you talking about?"

"Arthur," Alfred cried. "I saw him having sex with another alpha."

"Oh, Al, I'm so sorry!"

He spoke to Matthew for at least an hour as he explained everything that happened between him and Arthur since the omega invited him over on Valentine's Day. Then he went further back to the day he met Arthur on the elevator over a year ago and how he thought Arthur had always liked him.

"I'm so sorry, Al. This is really messed up. I really wish I could be there for you. I don't think it's a good idea for you to drive all the way here though. Have you told Felic and Ludwig yet?"

Alfred shook his head, then remembered that Matthew couldn't see it. "No... You were the first person I called."

"You shouldn't be alone this weekend. Why don't you call or text them and see if you can go there for the weekend."

"Okay," Alfred quietly uttered. His chest slowly started to heave as the urge to cry struck him again. "C-Can we keep talking?"

"Of course! We can talk as long as you want. You're my big brother. I'm not going anywhere."

"Thanks, Mattie."

 

Chapter Text

Alfred spent the weekend with his friends Feliciano and Ludwig, just as Matthew advised. They, like Matthew, really didn't know what to tell Alfred.

Everyone felt bad for Alfred but the situation between him and Arthur was both simple and complicated. The simple fact was that the two of them were just friends so no one could completely fault Arthur for what he did, especially since the omega made it known to Alfred that he preferred casual sex with no strings attached.

Yet, everyone agreed that Arthur was insensitive to Alfred and had done a lot of things to make the friendship complicated. Since Arthur knew what kind of person Alfred was and was aware of Alfred's feelings toward him, everyone felt that it was wrong of Arthur to ask Alfred to stay with him during his heat — even if it was as just a friend. They all also thought it was inappropriate for Arthur to agree to go to Massachusetts with Alfred because it was leading Alfred on.

Alfred did his best to tell everyone everything that happened but was unable to explain all the things he and Arthur did during the omega's heat. He tried several times but the words wouldn't come out. How could he explain that he loved Arthur so much that he agreed to read porn to him? He feared that none of them would understand why he would even consider doing that. And there was no way Alfred could tell them how Arthur masturbated in front of him, for him, and how he allowed it to happen.

The only thing Alfred could say to emphasize how deep his relationship was with Arthur was that he was in love with the Englishman and that he thought Arthur had strong feelings for him too.

Based on everything Alfred shared with his brother and closest friends, they all felt that Arthur showed signs that he was interested in Alfred in more than a sexual way. Each of them, at some point, brought up how Alfred said he couldn't smell Arthur's scent which might have meant that the omega wasn't actually interested in the Frenchman. This made Alfred feel better until they all said, in their own way, that he should give up on Arthur and move on.

Alfred barely got any sleep over the weekend and was already awake when his alarm went off on Monday morning. Sleeping was difficult because he had vivid nightmares of Arthur and Francis. Sometimes it was just flashes of their faces, other times it was a close up of Francis' face that Alfred still wanted to punch. Mostly, it was distorted and exaggerated memories of Francis fucking Arthur.

The idea of Arthur being with someone else bothered Alfred so much that he completely lost his appetite. He hadn't been able to eat much since his lunch on Friday, which was days ago. It was the first time in his life that he didn't feel like eating.

His alarm went off again, reminding him that he had a job to get dressed for. He went into his bathroom and looked in the mirror. His neck was faintly bruised because of his encounter with Ivan but it was nothing anyone would notice, not that he particularly cared if someone did. How he looked was the last thing on his mind, which was why he didn't bother to do his hair.

The alarm went off again as a final warning. He wasn't sure if he should even bother going to work but he knew that he would spend the day thinking about Arthur and the alpha if he stayed at home. The American quickly got dressed and left without eating breakfast.

Alfred reached work sooner than he would have liked. He took his time to walk to the elevator, mostly because he was too tired to make himself run. Before stepping in, he peered inside to make sure Arthur wasn't among one of the many faces. Fortunately, the Brit wasn't there.

As the doors started to close, Alfred saw Arthur running toward him. There was a brief moment when they made eye contact that lasted forever and Alfred felt like his heart was being ripped apart all over again. Then the doors closed and Alfred had to fight to keep himself from collapsing to the floor and bursting into tears.

He waited impatiently for everyone to get off the elevator. The second he was alone, he punched the metal door with all his might.

"Idiot," Alfred mumbled to himself as he rubbed his bruised hand.

Alfred almost didn't move once the elevator reached his floor. It was tempting to go back down to the lobby and run to his car so he could go home. But when the elevator doors started to close, Alfred reached his arm through to force them open. Then he went to work despite his inner protests.

 


 

Alfred still didn't have any appetite, so he stayed at work instead of taking his lunch break. At some point while he was blankly staring at his computer screen he started thinking about Arthur and Francis again. He wasn't able to break himself out of the disturbing thoughts until his phone started vibrating.

The message that popped up on the screen read:

Are you coming to lunch?

Alfred was a little surprised that Arthur contacted him. He didn't know how to feel about the message though. Part of him wanted to be happy that Arthur texted him because it meant that the omega was thinking about him. But the message seemed so nonchalant, as if nothing happened on Friday, and this made Alfred upset.

Suddenly, Ivan appeared and leaned against the cubicle wall.

"Fuck off," Alfred grumbled.

The main reason Alfred chose to stay in the office during his lunch break was because no one else was supposed to be there. He was counting on having the chance to wallow alone in his despair in peace.

Ivan chuckled from Alfred's bitterness. "I like this side of you. Angry and tough. It makes passionate sex."

Alfred was going to yell something at Ivan when he heard his phone's text alert. A text from Arthur popped up on his screen which read:

Do you want to talk?

Alfred frowned at the message and decided to turn off his phone. When he looked up, Ivan was still there.

"Can you leave me alone?" Alfred snapped.

The moment Ivan left, Alfred covered his face with his hands and took in a deep breath as tears threatened to fall from his eyes. Then he turned on his phone so he could text his brother and friends about the messages Arthur just sent him.

Matthew was the first to reply, suggesting: Maybe u should talk to him?

Feliciano's text arrived seconds later, saying: Did you have lunch? You should eat pasta! ^^

Ludwig sent a text a few minutes later, advising: Be smart. Do whatever is in YOUR best interest

Feliciano's text was probably the most helpful since it got Alfred to smile. It was only a half smile the lasted for a fleeting second but it was the first smile he had since Thursday so it felt good.

Alfred thought that his brother may have been right though. There was a lot he and Arthur needed to talk about but Alfred couldn't handle that discussion right now. He wasn't sure if that meant he was putting his best interest first or if pushing himself to talk to Arthur was in his best interest.

He decided not to go anywhere.

Hours passed by until it was the end of the day. Alfred left work later than usual so he could avoid Arthur. He got inside an empty elevator and pressed the lobby button. Fortunately, the elevator kept going down without any interruptions. Alfred was really thankful for this since he didn't want to be around anyone.

The moment the doors opened, Alfred saw Arthur standing there, waiting for him.

 


 

Arthur had left work early to wait for Alfred in the lobby since the alpha had avoided him all day. He didn't know what he was going to do or say but he wanted to see Alfred. No, he needed to see him after everything that happened on Friday.

The Brit didn't know how he ended up in this situation. Everything he did was supposed to make things better.

He knew he crossed a major line on Thursday night when he started masturbating in front of Alfred but he couldn't stop himself. Arthur was too sexually frustrated to think clearly. This wasn't just because he was in heat, it was mostly because Arthur had stopped having any form of sex about a year ago and had finally reached his breaking point.

Since Alfred was determined to not have sex until they reached their two-year mark and started dating, Arthur knew he needed to be shagged so he wouldn't put himself or Alfred in another jeopardizing situation again. So Arthur had gone to the bar to pick up an alpha to shag even though he didn't want to have sex with anyone but Alfred. Arthur rarely went to bars anymore so it seemed like a safe space to let loose with a total stranger — safe in the sense that he could do it once and forget all about it and Alfred would never have to know.

On his way to the bar, Alfred kept entering his thoughts. By the time Arthur reached the bar, he decided not to go through with his plan even though he was sure that would have been a mistake. Arthur decided to get himself a hard drink so his trip there wasn't a complete waste of time. That should have been the end of it. Then he would go home and everything would continue as it had.

Every person who sat at the bar made a pass at him, so he ordered a second Long Island Iced Tea and went to a table toward the back so he could be alone. He was down to the last quarter of his mixed drink when Francis hugged him from behind and kissed him on the neck.

Francis was a language professor Arthur met while in community college. Arthur was nineteen when the French alpha first approached him for sex. After the first time they shagged, they had sex often and Francis soon introduced Arthur to sex parties. Participating in orgies changed the way Arthur viewed sex. After that, it didn't faze him when Francis wanted them to have threesomes and foursomes.

Arthur never felt any kind of attachment to the alpha, which was why he easily disappeared from Francis' life once he was done with community college. During Arthur's second year at the university, Francis had found where Arthur worked and approached him again for sex. They had sex for the rest of that semester, then Arthur cut his ties with Francis again when he wasn't able to continue taking classes at the university.

He never saw the Frenchman again until that very moment at the bar. Francis had sat down beside Arthur and stroked his arm. He had greeted Arthur and laid down the flattery, telling Arthur how beautiful and sexy he still was after all the years that passed. Arthur didn't make any kind of response. He didn't care about anything the Frenchman was saying and Francis' praises meant nothing to him.

Then Arthur remembered the intense sex dream he had about Alfred, how Alfred read porn aloud to him, and how Alfred watched as he masturbated for the alpha. In all those times, Alfred never made any kind of move, which was why Arthur had gone to the bar in the first place.

While thinking about Alfred, Arthur had inadvertently given Francis a lustful look that the Frenchman knew all too well, so Francis lunged forward, or at least that's how it seemed to Arthur in his mildly inebriated state, and then Francis kissed him. Arthur quickly found that he really missed it. Not Francis' lips but the simplicity and spontaneity that came with this alpha.

Then, memories of all the sex they had together and with other people flooded back when Arthur smelled Francis' scent. It had been so long since Arthur touched a cock that wasn't his own. He hadn't touched or sucked one much less felt one in his hole for a whole year. But when he was with Francis, both his mouth and his ass would often be stuffed with someone's cock.

That was exactly what Arthur needed right now — an easy shag to satisfy his sexual frustration.

When Francis started to bang him in the loo, it was like shagging a stranger even though they had sex many times in the past. The sex didn't mean anything to Arthur beyond a means of satisfying a need. This was why Arthur had Francis shag him all weekend. He could have sex with Francis today, tomorrow, and then leave forever without feeling any guilt. It was a sort of freedom that Arthur deeply valued.

It was also the sort of thing Arthur never wanted to do to Alfred, even though his resolve had wavered a few times from the weight of how badly he wanted to be touched by the American...

 


 

"Al," Arthur said softly.

Alfred walked out of the elevator and adverted his gaze. Then Arthur was able to see the bruise on Alfred's neck more clearly. He had seen a glimpse of Alfred that morning and thought he saw a bruise on Alfred's neck but he couldn't be sure. Arthur had been worried about the alpha all day because of it, although he would have been worried anyway even if the bruise wasn't there.

"Alfred," Arthur said when Alfred didn't respond.

Alfred still didn't say anything. He intended to walk past Arthur but his legs suddenly felt too heavy to move. His steps became slower and smaller until he completely stopped walking. When Arthur stood in front of him, Alfred could immediately smell Francis' scent all over him and it made him want to puke.

"Are you going to keep seeing him?" Alfred asked bitterly, pain evident in his trembling voice. He didn't mean to say anything at all to the omega but the words had spilled out on their own.

"That's not really any of your business," Arthur declared, feigning annoyance that he didn't truly feel.

The pain in Alfred's eyes pierced through Arthur's heart. This was the other thing that made Francis so appealing to the Brit. As young as Alfred was, he was extraordinarily confident in how he felt about things, especially when it came to how he felt about Arthur.

Having someone feel so strongly about him with such unwavering certainty should have been desirable, or flattering at the very least. Instead, it was intimidating because Arthur didn't have the same confidence in his own feelings toward Alfred. In fact, he didn't have that sort of confidence about anything.

Deciding to tell Alfred part of the truth because maybe he owed Alfred that much, Arthur said, "But if you really must know, yes, I am going to keep seeing him."

Arthur immediately regretted what he said because there was something about Alfred that suddenly seemed broken.

"Art—" Alfred's voice hitched as tears started to sting at the corners of his eyes. He couldn't bring himself to say anything else because there were sobs being choked down in his throat. So Alfred walked past the omega to leave the building. He didn't see the steps Arthur initially took to go after him or how Arthur stretched his arm out to grab him before pulling it back to his chest. And there was no way he could hear Arthur whisper his name as he pushed the front doors open before leaving.

 


 

The rest of the week was brutal. Alfred rotated from feeling numb to feeling so emotional that he could cry for hours on end. Alfred hadn't seen Arthur since the omega ambushed him in the lobby on Monday. Arthur texted him several times every day, which only hurt Alfred more. He didn't reply to any of the texts which seemed to make Arthur text him even more frequently.

Alfred was still unable to make himself eat more than one small meal a day and he barely got any sleep. He stopped leaving for his lunch break so he wouldn't run into Arthur in the lobby or cafeteria. This meant that he had to deal with Ivan. While everyone else had left the office, the Russian offered to have sex each day that passed by and Alfred declined every offer until he just stopped saying anything to Ivan and simply waited for the alpha to leave on his own.

On Friday morning, Alfred woke up from two hours of sleep. His eyes were baggy and bloodshot, his body tingled with exhaustion, and his stomach felt like it was imploding. With a heavy sigh, he pushed himself out of bed and dragged his way to the bathroom. He grabbed a bottle of antiseptic mouthwash and accidentally dropped the cap on the floor. Not bothering to pick it up, he brought the plastic bottle to his mouth and lifted it.

At that moment, he remembered the condom he saw on the restroom floor and instantly pictured the Frenchman fucking Arthur against the wall. Distracted by his thoughts, Alfred lifted the bottle too high and accidentally swallowed gulps of the alcoholic cleanser.

"Shit," Alfred coughed as the alcohol burned down his chest.

Then his alarm went off to remind him it was time to leave. He left without breakfast and went straight to work.

It was Ivan's last day so the office planned a small goodbye "party". They often threw a welcome and goodbye party for everyone as an excuse to order pizza. The refreshments that were usually provided on Fridays were now being presented as party snacks.

While everyone was in a lively mood, Alfred was going out of his mind. He missed Arthur but couldn't manage to respond to any of the number of texts the Brit sent him. After staring blankly at the computer screen in his cubicle for several minutes, Alfred suddenly got up and left the office. His absence went mostly unnoticed since nearly everyone was busy eating or wishing Ivan good luck.

Alfred went in the elevator and pressed the "7" button. His heart pounded harder each time the elevator made a "bing" as it passed another floor. When the doors opened, Alfred almost didn't get out. Almost.

After he got out of the elevator, he immediately felt foolish. He wasn't going to storm into Arthur's job since that would be wildly inappropriate and he had no intention to ask Arthur to meet him so they could talk. There was absolutely no reason for him to be there except that he missed Arthur and wanted to see him.

Alfred started to walk toward the direction that had a restroom sign so he could go wash his face but then he realized that he might run into Arthur. Deciding that he could use the restroom on a different floor for that, Arthur went to press the elevator button. When it opened a couple of minutes later, Alfred saw Ivan inside.

"Fuck it," Alfred mumbled before turning around to go to the restroom. He walked by the omega-only restroom, which was meant for omegas of any sex, and went straight to the bathroom designated for males of any dynamic. When he got inside, he was relieved to find that no one was there. He rushed over to the sink and started splashing cold water on his face.

"We should fuck. It good for both of us," Ivan said from behind.

Alfred ignored the alpha and continued washing his face with the cold water until he felt Ivan's hand grab reach around to grab his crotch.

"Dude," Alfred shouted as he stood up straight and turned around. "Seriously! What the fuck?"

"Or not fuck," Ivan said as he continued rubbing Alfred's groin.

"I'm not into alphas," Alfred said as he weakly pushed Ivan's arm but not hard enough to make Ivan stop.

"Don't have to be. I can do this for you," Ivan said while still fondling Alfred's junk.

Alfred couldn't get hard, not like this, not when he could see who was doing this to him. He didn't even want this to happen anyway — but he was weak, exhausted, weirdly tipsy, and all the rubbing did make him feel a little aroused. Besides, there was a chance that Arthur could walk in and catch them. Alfred didn't want to hurt Arthur but he did want Arthur to know how he felt at the bar.

"Fine, I guess. Are you cool with giving head?" Alfred asked.

Ivan answered by dropping down to his knees. He pulled down Alfred's pants and was about to pull down Alfred's boxers when Alfred stopped him, so Ivan reached into the opening in the boxers and pulled out Alfred's flaccid cock. Alfred leaned against the sink that was still running water while looking anywhere except at Ivan.

The Russian took Alfred's cock in his mouth and aggressively throated it as he swallowed it whole. While he sucked Alfred's hardening cock, he plunged his fingers into Alfred's scrotum and massaged it.

It made Alfred sick that he was letting Ivan do this to him but the moment the other alpha's mouth had engulfed the whole of his length, Alfred was finally able to stop thinking about Arthur having sex with the other blond — for the most part.

Alfred didn't moan but he was breathing deeply as he felt the warm mouth around his cock. Ivan kept sucking Alfred and sucked even harder when Alfred's cock grew large inside his mouth. The sound of the running water drowned out the noises Ivan made with his mouth, much to Alfred's relief. The Russian kept rubbing Alfred's prostate while sucking Alfred's cock until the American finally came.

Ivan spat the cum somewhere under the sink before standing up. He rolled his tongue around his mouth before spitting on the floor again. Alfred scrunched his face as he watched.

"There's literally a sink right here," Alfred stated as he bent down to pull up his pants.

Ivan didn't say anything as he started to walk toward the door.

"Dude, you're not gonna wash your hands?" Alfred asked as he stood back up.

Ivan just shrugged and opened the door to leave. The second he did that, three omegas walked inside. They looked at Ivan before looking at Alfred who immediately buttoned and zipped his pants. The omegas giggled as they went to the stalls.

Alfred quickly cleaned his hands so he didn't have to be around the omegas for very long. He started to frown as he dried his hands. Arthur didn't catch them after all, not that Alfred really believed that would happen. Still, Arthur could have walked in with the three omegas and caught him with his pants unzipped. Although if that had happened, Alfred wouldn't be surprised if the only thing Arthur got mad about was the running faucet that was wasting water. Somehow that made Alfred smile before he felt awful again.

Then he left to go back to work.

At the end of the day, people crowded around Ivan on their way out to have a chance to say bye one final time. There was a brief moment when Ivan turned and saw Alfred. Alfred nodded his head, his way of saying that this was farewell. Ivan stared back for a moment, his eyes saying to take care. Or maybe Ivan's eyes were saying to fuck off. It was difficult to tell. Then Yao walked up to Ivan and Alfred realized that it must have been the latter.

It seemed like Ivan finally forgave Yao for not backing him up during the meeting last week, although that felt like months ago. Even though Alfred felt miserable, he was happy to see Ivan and Yao reconnect.

Alfred sighed as he looked down at his phone. He had three new texts from Arthur. Instead of opening Arthur's messages, Alfred decided to text Feliciano and Ludwig to see if he could spend the evening with them and their twins.

 

Chapter Text

On the last Friday in May, while Alfred was followed into the lavatory on the seventh floor, Arthur was eagerly waiting for his lunch break to begin. He hadn't seen or heard from Alfred since Monday and it was slowly driving him mad.

Arthur tapped his phone nervously as he resisted texting Alfred again. It was unlike the alpha to take so long to text him which mean Alfred was purposely avoiding him.

When Alfred caught him in the bar with Francis, he hoped that Alfred wouldn't make a big deal of it for very long. The thought of Alfred disappearing from his life never crossed Arthur's mind as a possibility. After all, they were technically just friends so Arthur didn't think it was entirely unreasonable for Alfred to simply let go of his feelings so everything could remain more or less the same between them.

But it had been four days since he last spoke to Alfred. Alfred was always so eager to be around Arthur that the Brit didn't even think Alfred was capable of keeping his distance for more than a day or two. Arthur was uncomfortable to find that the American's absence hit him harder than he thought it should have.

Arthur was interrupted from his thoughts when three of his coworkers walked up to him and started ranting about some scandalous incident they had seen in the loo. Arthur's body immediately stiffened from being bombarded by the unwanted social interaction. Since they were all talking at the same time, it was difficult to even process what they were all saying. All he could capture were random words and phrases that stuck out, like; "blond alpha", "alphas going at it", "having sex on our floor", and "the best cock I've ever seen".

"The tall one wasn't naked when we got there but you can't be that tall without having the equipment to go with it," one of the omegas giggled.

"That blond one was really cute. Did you guys see his dreamy, blue eyes? Do you think he's into omegas?" asked one of the other two omegas.

Arthur rubbed his temples as his coworkers continued to gossip around him while they filed paperwork. He was sure they were the reason why there were so many files out of place that he constantly had to refile.

The instant it was time for lunch, Arthur rushed to the elevator so he could go to the cafeteria. He knew it was unlikely that Alfred would be there but his heart raced with hope anyway. So when Arthur reached the table and saw no one there, his body felt almost numb with disappointment. He sat down and slowly ate the lunch he brought from home as he stared at the empty seat across from him. It was almost hard to believe that he used to prefer having his lunch alone like this before meeting Alfred.

When Arthur returned from his lunch break, his coworkers were still gossiping about the two alphas and had found eager listeners. Their chirpy voices made Arthur's headache worse so he decided to go to the loo to wash his hands to kill some time since there were probably traces of breadcrumbs on them anyway.

Arthur opened the door to the male lavatory and instantly smelled Alfred's scent everywhere. It was so unexpected that Arthur's legs went weak and almost buckled from the shock of it. Tears started to sting at his eyes as his body went cold. He didn't understand why Alfred's scent was there or why Alfred had been on the seventh floor at all. They were so close without Arthur knowing it and he couldn't help but be upset that he unknowingly missed a chance to see Alfred.

Ignoring the feelings that started to take over him, he went to the sink to wash his hands. Alfred's scent was so much clearer now than it had been when he was standing by the door that Arthur could tell that it was mixed with an alpha's scent. Suddenly, all the gossip he heard at work entered his mind with startling clarity and he couldn't help but cringe as he imagined Alfred having sex with someone else.

His hands started to tremble under the running water as his vision became blurry from his tears. Arthur knew that the thought of Alfred being with another person shouldn't have bothered him but it did; and the fact that his coworkers got a chance to see a part of Alfred's body that Arthur never saw before only made the Brit feel angry and jealous.

"Sod," Arthur whispered when he couldn't get his hands to stop shaking. He shakily wiped away the tears from his eyes but more kept pouring down his cheeks. His breaths came in quicker until he was heaving uncontrollably.

Arthur wasn't sure how long he had been crying in the lavatory. He only left when someone had opened the door and went to one of the urinals. Arthur promptly left when that happened but he still couldn't get himself to stop crying.

Accepting that he was in no condition to work, Arthur left work early to go home.

 


 

Arthur hadn't seen or heard from Alfred in weeks. Although he slept with the clothes Alfred had left for him and started wearing the gold ribbon from Alfred's Valentine's Day gift around his wrist, Arthur still felt alone. It didn't help that his coworkers were still spreading rumors about Alfred and the other alpha. Arthur was sure that they were fabricated gossip to pass the time but part of him worried that some of it might have been true since Alfred refused to speak to him.

He stopped texting Alfred multiple times every day in fear that he was pushing Alfred away. So Arthur cut his texts down to once every other day but still didn't get any responses. It wasn't long before he started to feel insecure about what he texted and wondered if the messages were stupid or if he wrote too much. Soon it took him hours to figure out what to text Alfred, even if all he wrote was "Hi".

While Alfred refused to contact him, Francis texted Arthur every day, which made everything more unbearable. Each time Arthur received a text from the Frenchman, Arthur became excited that it might be Alfred. Even when Arthur told himself that it probably wasn't the American, he couldn't stop himself from hoping. His heart sank every time he saw that Alfred wasn't the one who contacted him.

When Arthur started nesting in June, Arthur felt miserable. He was a nervous wreck and only felt a remotely calm when he was inhaling Alfred's scent from the alpha's clothes or from the armrest that the alpha sat on the day Arthur masturbated for him — but it wasn't enough to keep Arthur from crying whenever he had to wank off.

One day in the middle of Arthur's heat, he heard his phone ring.

Arthur ran from the couch to find his phone in his nest.

"Hello? Alfred?" Arthur quickly answered. His heart was pounding so loudly that he could barely hear anything else.

"Non, c'est moi," answered Francis. "It has been too long! Why don't I come over so we can have a little fun, huh?"

Arthur swallowed hard and stared up at the ceiling as if that would keep the tears from falling down his cheeks. He took in a deep breath before saying, "Sure, whatever." Then Arthur hung up while Francis was in the middle of giving an overly enthusiastic response.

He didn't want to see Francis but he also didn't want to be left alone to think about Alfred. Arthur hadn't seen Francis since Alfred stopped talking to him. He didn't want Francis' smell on him in case he ran into Alfred, but it was beginning to seem like Arthur wouldn't be seeing Alfred ever again.

Francis arrived an hour later. When Arthur opened the door, Francis bombarded him with kisses and whispered romantic things in French. Arthur passively accepted the kisses but didn't tolerate when Francis attempted to rub his neck against him. Not wanting to be scented by the Frenchman, Arthur immediately pulled away.

"What is wrong?" Francis asked.

"Nothing," Arthur grumbled.

Francis moved closer and started kissing Arthur again. He tried to rub his wrists up and down Arthur's back but Arthur responded by pushing Francis away.

"What is zis?" Francis asked. "Do you not want me to make love to you?"

"You're here so we can shag and that's all. I don't need your bloody scent all over me," Arthur snapped. Then he turned around and walked to his bedroom to get out a box of condoms. He knew he should have taken them out earlier but he didn't want to deal with the idea of being shagged by Francis until it was actually about to happen.

Although Arthur was on birth control, he kept a pack of condoms specifically made for knots because they were essentially "foolproof" and virtually impossible to put on wrong. It was also made from a special material that helped it stay adhered to the base of a full knot until it was manually removed. Normal condoms worked also, of course, but many alphas didn't put condoms on correctly which often meant the end of the condom would slide off as the base of the cock swelled to form the knot. By the time the alpha pulled out, it was likely for the condom to partially or fully slip off while still inside the omega. This was why Arthur never minded paying a bit more for the knot condoms.

After Arthur grabbed the condoms, he turned around and narrowed his eyes slightly when he saw that Francis was already sprawled out on his nest. Ignoring his frustration, Arthur got on the nest and set the box down beside him.

Francis immediately resumed their kissing but everything somehow felt worse. Arthur expected the alpha's scent to stabilize him. Being around any alpha during his heat always made him feel at least a bit calmer but he almost felt more out of sorts with Francis there, which was why Arthur suddenly burst into tears.

"It is okay. I know what you need," Francis said as he pulled off his pants and his briefs to reveal his hard cock.

Arthur rubbed away his tears with one hand as he grabbed a condom with the other and handed it to the alpha.

"Do we need zese? We are not strangers. We have done zis before, oui?" Francis asked.

Arthur gave Francis such an intense glare that the Frenchman immediately took the condom. After Francis put the condom on, he climbed on top of Arthur and skillfully started to bang the omega.

Everything Francis did was perfect and reflected the years of experience the alpha clearly had, yet Francis wasn't able to coax out any genuine moans of satisfaction from Arthur. Francis did everything he could think of to get the omega to scream in pleasure. He quickened the pace of his thrusts, slowed them down, tried pumping his cock hard inside Arthur before doing it tenderly — but everything he did was met with passive sighs. Francis even cooed sweet nothing in English and again in French but nothing seemed to make Arthur respond in the way that Francis wanted.

"Let us try zis," Francis said as he pulled his hard cock out of the omega. "I will make love to you from behind."

Arthur was squinting up at the ceiling when Francis spoke and didn't appear to hear the alpha. Francis repeated himself twice before grabbing Arthur's wrist to turn the omega over.

"Let go," Arthur shouted as he pushed Francis' hand off of him. Then he rubbed his hand where Francis' had touched him as if to rub the Frenchmen's scent off the gold ribbon that was on his wrist.

Francis asked Arthur to turn around, so Arthur finally lied on his stomach. He hugged the nearest sheet to his face, except it wasn't wasn't a sheet. It was Alfred's shirt and it still had the American's scent on it. When Arthur smelled it again, his cock jumped against the mattress beneath him. He thought about how he tossed off in front of Alfred and vividly remembered how badly Alfred wanted him, how intensely the alpha's blue eyes watched his every movement, and the wonderful and heady way the American smelled.

Then Arthur felt the cock shove deep inside him and he moaned a proper moan. The cock throbbed in approval before pulling out to ram back inside. Arthur closed his eyes and buried his nose against Alfred's shirt as he moaned again. The smell of Alfred filled Arthur's senses until he couldn't smell anything else.

Arthur moaned again as the cock started to smoothly and quickly thrust inside him with a force that pushed his face further into the fabric. His hands clutched the shirt as he inhaled Alfred again and remembered how aroused he made the alpha and how hard Alfred had gotten.

When the cock pushed inside him again, Arthur couldn't help but moan out Alfred's name. The moan was muffled in the American's shirt though. All Francis knew was that Arthur moaned out two syllables and hoped that it was his name.

"Say my name, mon cher," Francis cooed as he tried to work his way to a knot.

Arthur started humping his cock into the bed until his slick spilled out.

Francis' knot formed and lasted for a minute before it completely diminished.

"It is okay. We will have many chances to knot zis week," Francis said.

Arthur didn't stay anything. He just hugged Alfred's shirt and other clothes to his chest and scooted to the edge of his nest.

 


 

Francis had taken off work to stay home with Arthur for the remainder of his heat and they shagged several times every day. It was all very confusing for Arthur, as it always was during his heat. He enjoyed when Francis fucked him. More specifically, he enjoyed being fucked after such a long period of unwitting abstinence. He had no idea why he went so many months denying himself of this pleasure.

But then there were moments when Arthur was on all fours and Francis' condom coated cock was plunging inside his hole that Alfred's name filled Arthur's thoughts. Those were the only times that Arthur moaned.

Fucking each other kept them busy for most of the week. When they were too tired or too sore to shag, they made out instead. If they weren't snogging then they were eating or sleeping. They didn't really have much to say to each other except how much they enjoyed each other's bodies.

Francis said things like, "Your hole is absolute perfection, mon cher. I cannot wait to make love to it again."

And since Francis was naked when they weren't having sex and often had an erection, Arthur said things like, "We can shag again in a few minutes."

After Arthur's heat was over, he felt dubious about the alpha. Their kisses were the same but felt different now that he was no longer in heat. They were hollow, like when they kissed at the bar, except Arthur couldn't enjoy them without any alcohol in his system. When Francis fucked him again, it felt the way it felt before his heat; satisfying but empty.

When Arthur left for work that morning, he wanted to turn straight back home to spend the entire day in the shower. His whole body smelled like Francis and he hated it. As if that wasn't enough to ruin Arthur's day, the moment he got into work he found that his coworkers were still gossiping about the two alphas having sex — except now they were apparently having sex everywhere in the building.

Arthur took out his phone to text Alfred but stopped himself before he could send the message. It wasn't like Alfred would respond anyway.

 

Chapter Text

While Arthur was away on his nest leave, Alfred ate lunch in the cafeteria at their usual table. He felt like it had been months since he last saw the Englishman. He was still upset at Arthur, of course, but he also really missed the omega. Although he never responded to Arthur's messages, Alfred read them every day.

As he continued spending his lunch at their usual table, he knew it was only a matter of time before Arthur came back from his nest leave. Still, Alfred continued to go to the cafeteria. He wasn't sure if he was ready to see Arthur again but he also didn't know how much longer he could handle avoiding him.

Soon it was the weekend and Alfred knew it was likely that Arthur would be in the cafeteria for lunch on Monday. Since he wasn't sure what to do, he called his brother late on Saturday afternoon.

"Hey, big brother. Nice to hear from you again," Matthew said.

"Hey, Mattie," Alfred said while getting dressed. "I'm about to go on a run. I just wanted to talk for a sec."

There was a pause before Matthew asked, "So... how's she bootin'er?"

It was a loaded question because Alfred had been talking to everyone about Arthur since he stopped talking to the omega.

"I'm okay... I, uh, just wanted your opinion," Alfred said.

"Uh huh," Matthew replied, as if he already knew what Alfred was going to ask.

"I haven't spoken to Artie in a while and, well, I really miss him. I don't know if it makes sense to keep ignoring him. I mean, everyone is saying he didn't do anything wrong so maybe I've been overreacting?" Alfred asked.

Matthew sighed before saying, "You always do this."

"Always do what?" Alfred asked as he picked up his shoes.

"Sorry, it's nothing. I just mean that it's okay for you to be angry at him and it's okay if you don't ever want to see him again."

"But I do want to see him," Alfred stated.

"Then why are you avoiding him, eh?"

Alfred was while for several long seconds before saying, "It hurts to be friends with him."

"But didn't you say he wanted you to wait a year?"

"Yeah, I mean, um, yes and no. He was cool with us having sex but he said he —"

"Couldn't fall in love, right, right. Sorry, I remember now," Matthew said. "Well, it sounds like you would be in this situation either way. What were you expecting, eh? For him to wait for you too?"

"No... well, kinda, I guess," Alfred grumbled as he went to the couch to sit down.

"Have you spoken to Dad and Mom aboot this yet?"

"Are you kidding? They totally wouldn't understand. They would just ask why I even want to stick around," Alfred said.

"Hah, yeah... but to be fair, I don't think any of us really understand..." Matthew quietly said. Alfred could practically hear the "I'm sorry" in his brother's tone.

"I can't really explain it. He's just different, you know? He pushes me to be a better me and he teaches me new things, like, all the time. I just feel like I can totally be myself around him. He just makes me so happy."

Matthew sighed before saying, "I don't mind talking aboot Arthur. I really don't. But none of us have ever met him so I don't think anyone can really help you decide what to do."

"I guess that's true..." Alfred muttered.

"I'm sorry," Matthew said quietly.

"No, it's cool. I'm totally okay. Everything's cool with you, right?" Alfred asked.

"Yeah," Matthew said slowly before adding, "Well, Elizabeta is getting a divorce so she'll need a place to stay soon..."

"What?" Alfred exclaimed.

Matthew spent the next twenty minutes catching Alfred up on everything that was going on his end. His surrogate was divorcing her husband, so Matthew and Gilbert were making space for her to stay with them. Elizabeth being stressed was the last thing their baby needed, so Matthew and Gilbert were determined to help keep her calm and comfortable.

"So, yeah. There's not much else to say aboot that, eh? But who can blame her for leaving Roderich? She wants to be a parent and he doesn't," Matthew said.

"Oh man, that really sucks. I can't believe you didn't tell me any of this the second it happened," Alfred said.

"Sorry. You're just going through so much with Arthur and everything. I didn't want to give you more to worry aboot," Matthew explained.

Alfred sighed before saying, "What's going on with me and Arthur isn't such a big deal. I mean it still really hurts but it's not more important than everything else. What's going on with you is important too, bro. You shouldn't hesitate to tell me because I'm talking about Arthur, especially since I'm kinda just saying the same stuff over and over."

Matthew laughed on the phone which made Alfred smile.

"Okay. I'm sorry for not telling you sooner," Matthew said before exclaiming, "Oh, I forgot you were going on a run. I'm sorry! I didn't mean to keep you on the phone for so long."

"It's totally cool, lil bro! You've been listening to me for hours almost every night. I'm totally cool with listening to you," Alfred said. "But I probably should go out on a run soon. I'll talk to you soon, okay? Definitely keep me posted on everything with Elizabeta."

"Sure thing. I'll talk to you later. Maybe going on a run will help you figure things out with Arthur."

"Maybe," Alfred said doubtfully. "Love ya, bro."

"Love ya too!"

 


 

The run did help Alfred and he finally knew what he wanted to do about Arthur. He was tempted to talk to Ludwig and Feliciano on Sunday to see if they agreed with his decision but then he remembered what Matthew said and realized that his brother was right. No one had ever met Arthur or seen how the omega acted around him, so no one could really tell Alfred what to do.

When Alfred went to the cafeteria on Monday, he saw Arthur sitting at their usual table. His heart started to race upon seeing the omega. Arthur was wearing a white button-up top with a powder blue cardigan over it. He looked beautiful but sad as he read his book.

"Hey, stranger," Alfred greeted as he sat down. He hoped he sounded calmer and happier than he felt.

Arthur gave a half smile but didn't look at the alpha.

"So..." Alfred said slowly. "What have you been up to?"

"...Not much..." Arthur replied without looking at him.

Alfred didn't know what else to say to break the ice, so he just sat there.

"I have to go," Arthur said sharply. He left the table before Alfred could say anything else.

Arthur walked as fast as he could to get away. He knew he didn't have a right to feel jealous but the rumors of Alfred's and the alpha's love affairs had driven Arthur crazy all month. The moment he got out of the cafeteria, he felt something hold him back.

"Wait," Alfred said, gently grabbing the omega's arm.

"What?! What do you want from me?!" Arthur shouted. The people who were in the lobby with them glanced in their direction, then they all scurried on their way until everyone was gone.

Alfred just stared at the omega, confused by the outburst. Arthur was trembling and looked like he was about to start crying.

Unsure of what to do, Alfred softly ran his fingers through Arthur's hair in hopes that it would calm him. Arthur didn't look at Alfred, but he didn't move away from the alpha's touch either. Alfred's hand trailed down to gently hold the back of Arthur's neck. He could feel the omega relaxing against him, so Alfred cautiously pulled Arthur toward him into a hug.

Arthur collapsed into Alfred's arms and tightly held onto him. Burying his face into Alfred's chest, he closed his eyes and breathed in the American's scent. They stood there for several minutes as Arthur just inhaled the alpha's smell while Alfred continued to hold Arthur close.

"Are the rumors true?" Arthur whispered as he slowly backed away.

Alfred didn't know how to answer since he didn't know what Arthur heard.

"I'm not dating anyone," Alfred decided to say.

"But you're shagging him?" Arthur asked, his voice cracking.

"He gave me a blowjob once and that was all that happened," Alfred said. "It didn't mean anything, we never even liked each other. I was just hurt and it helped me get over... some things."

"Are you saying that you're over me?"

Alfred hesitated before he answered. "I'm saying that I missed you but couldn't be around you while you had some other dude's scent all over you," Alfred said bluntly. "I know you aren't my boyfriend or anything but what I saw at the bar was really hard to handle."

"I missed you too," Arthur admitted. He didn't respond to anything else Alfred had said since he didn't want to talk about what happened that night at the bar.

Even though Alfred was happy to hear that the omega missed him, he decided not to acknowledge the comment. Instead, he asked, "Are you still seeing that guy from the bar?"

He already knew the answer, of course. The moment he hugged Arthur he smelled that alpha all over him but he still needed to hear the answer.

Arthur didn't answer right away. He looked into Alfred's beautiful blue eyes and all he could see was pain and it killed Arthur to know that he was the cause of it.

"Yeah..." Arthur slowly replied. There wasn't any reason to stop having sex with Francis at this point. It wasn't like Alfred was an option. Arthur was sure Alfred would still want to wait for them to be friends for two whole years before being more than friends, even with everything that was happening now with Francis. It didn't make sense to Arthur to give up an easy shag in favor of being celibate.

"Well..." Alfred said, ignoring the searing pain in his chest. "It was nice seeing you. I think I should actually try to eat some lunch before my break is over."

"Oh... Right..." Arthur mumbled. "I guess this is goodbye..." The words hurt to say. There was a clenching feeling in Arthur's chest as if these were the last words he was ever going to say to Alfred.

"I'll see you around," Alfred said before leaving the way he came.

Tears welled up in Arthur's eyes once Alfred was gone. Something about this felt like he would never see the American again. He wanted to call out to Alfred and ask him to come back or to run to the alpha and hug him again. Instead, he pressed the elevator button. When it opened, he gave one last look in the direction Alfred had gone in. Resisting the urge to go after him, Arthur turned back to the elevator and stepped inside.

 


 

Arthur was sitting in the middle row of the bus, staring out the window as he was heading home. He had been thinking about the conversation he had with Alfred a few hours ago in the lobby. It was the first time Arthur saw Alfred in weeks and seeing him made Arthur truly realize just how much he missed the alpha.

It wasn't just the times together that he missed. Arthur missed everything about Alfred. He missed Alfred's deep blue eyes, his laugh, his charming smile, he missed the alpha's scent, he missed his presence. Alfred had become such an important person to Arthur, he wasn't sure if he could handle not having the American in his life.

His phone suddenly vibrated and snapped him out of his thoughts. He quickly picked it up and read the text on the screen.

I keep thinking about you

The text was sent by Francis, of course. Arthur wasn't sure why he thought it would be from Alfred.

Francis always sent him a bunch of text messages when he was done at work.

Arthur sent an emoji in response to Francis and his phone buzzed seconds later that said:

I miss your sexy body so much

Then another text:

I'm getting hot thinking about you

Arthur closed his eyes and wondered how he ended up in this situation. His thoughts inevitably went to all the moments that led up to him meeting Francis.

 


 

Arthur had recently turned eighteen in April, graduated high school in May, and was going to start community college in September. The plan was to get his associate's degree in two years, then transfer to a university for his bachelor's degree. His mums were always very proud of him but this time Arthur really felt like he earned it. Even he felt extra proud of himself for pursuing a higher education.

Everything was going brilliantly in Arthur's life until something horrible happened the month before he was supposed to start community college. Arthur didn't have time to fall apart, however. He had just moved into his new flat, started a new job at a retail shop, and was about to begin his first semester at the community college.

Despite the sudden obligations that had fallen upon Arthur that he was desperately trying to ignore, the semester started out smoothly enough — in the sense that Arthur was never late to work or class and he managed to earn good marks on all his homework and class assignments.

Doing well in school was easy. Spending time at work and school was a welcomed distraction from the haunting memories that he frantically tried to escape.

Arthur hated being at home alone. It was nearly unbearable. The silence was deafening. It forced him to think about the things he specifically wanted to avoid remembering.

Part of him knew that the sensible thing was to speak to someone about everything that happened. After all, he was still dealing with the aftermath as there were obligations weighing down on him as a result of what happened, although Arthur simply couldn't begin to handle such things.

The community college had counselors, as almost every school did. On the first day of class, the professors of his introductory courses all mentioned the school's free counseling services and encouraged students to utilize them. But the mere thought of speaking about what happened in August made Arthur's body convulse and tears flood out his eyes.

So Arthur didn't consider speaking to a counselor as a viable option. Besides, he had recently seen his extended family. If he wasn't able to speak to any of them, he didn't see how he could bring himself to speak to a total stranger.

Crying was something the omega wasn't used to doing, and he didn't intend on becoming accustomed to it either. Ignoring what happened in the couple of weeks that preceded the start of the semester seemed to work well enough. Arthur simply had to become more adept at it.

Every day was a struggle. It was tempting to quit school and do nothing with life, but the least he could do was finish community college. His mums were so proud when he got his acceptance letter and they were excited to see him graduate and move on to a four-year university.

Seeking higher education was a big deal for an omega. Despite all the marches and protests it took to allow omegas to obtain equal opportunities in the workplace, and subsequently in higher education in order to become qualified for more elusive or complicated jobs; less than half of omegas had a degree because many omegas only aspired to start a family.

Finishing community college would be quite an accomplishment. So Arthur resisted the urge to quit school, even though it became harder to manage when he had to pick up a second part-time job to afford his rent. His second job was at a bookshop on campus. He worked there on the days he had classes and he worked at his retail job for the rest of the week. Between the two jobs, he was working at least fifty hours a week.

This actually worked out better for him because it kept him busy. Being busy meant he didn't have time to think. It also meant that he got to spend less time at home. But he had to go home at some point.

Since he was always so busy, Arthur was constantly exhausted. By the time he got home, all he wanted to do was pass out. But he couldn't sleep. The moment he lied in bed, he started to have flashbacks of what happened in August. So he would make himself black tea, take pain relievers for his headaches, then stay up to work on any assignments he had even if they weren't due for another week or two. When he didn't have any homework, he would either study or read for leisure until he passed out.

Despite his sleep deprivation, he made it through the semester with straight A's.

Winter break was harsh without classes or homework to distract him. It was cold and he felt more alone than he already had been feeling. On top of everything he was dealing with, he got his first heat in December. It was something he was once excited to get, especially since he was a late bloomer, but being in heat made him horny when all he wanted to do was cry. He was so emotionally dissonant that he felt like he was losing his mind.

What made everything even more difficult was that Arthur didn't have any friends. He was never very good at making friends and he was even worse at keeping the few friends he ever managed to make. Friendships simply took too much time and energy to upkeep. Arthur never thought it was worth the trouble — even now when having a good friend might be especially beneficial.

When the Spring semester started, Arthur tried making friends but this proved to be difficult. He was terrible at small talk and detested speaking about himself. The few times a friendship started to blossom with another person, he became agitated by their constant requests to hang out. It wasn't that he didn't want to spend time with his new friends, he simply couldn't handle it so he pushed them away.

He wished he could just ask someone to spend time with him when he felt particularly lonely or miserable, which was most days of the week, then have them disappear until he needed company again. This, he supposed, did not constitute a friendship. Still, it was the kind of connection he needed from another person. He wasn't sure how much longer he could handle going home alone.

Spring break started in the middle of April. It was after his heat but before his birthday. His heat had been brutal. In fact, they had been getting progressively more difficult. He spent the week horny and depressed, sobbing each time he masturbated. Most of the time he wasn't able to climax because he was crying too hysterically to finish.

After his heat ended, Arthur completed his homework for spring break before it even began. By the middle of spring break, Arthur read all the books he had at home and no longer had anything left to do to keep his mind occupied.

He picked up more hours at his retail job since the college bookshop was closed during the break, but the retail job didn't allow him to work a full-time schedule. If he worked full-time for a week, then his job would have to give him benefits reserved exclusively for full-time workers. But then they would have to take those benefits away at the end of the week so Arthur could go back to being a part-time worker. It was more paperwork than anyone was willing to do, so Arthur didn't get extra hours and was stuck with more free time on his hands than he wanted.

During the middle of his spring break, Arthur decided to go for a walk after work since he didn't want to go home. While he was walking, he bumped into someone from his community college. He didn't know the bloke but he saw the Bulgarian at the school's bookshop once. After Arthur apologized, the alpha complimented on Arthur's attractiveness, which rapidly led to Arthur losing his virginity an hour later.

It wasn't the way Arthur expected it to happen. He never thought his first time would be with a stranger whose name he didn't know. They did it outside in a park covered in trash. It wasn't the least bit romantic. Arthur was so distracted by how uncomfortable he was from lying on rocks and twigs that he was horrified the instant the alpha's cock penetrated him. He had no idea that it was about to happen, so he didn't have time to brace himself for the pain.

Since he wasn't in heat and there wasn't any lube, Arthur's hole was dry and tight. The Bulgarian had no idea that Arthur was a virgin so he pounded his condom coated cock inside Arthur hard and fast. Arthur groaned out in pain but the stranger mistook Arthur's sounds for cries of pleasure.

When the pain finally subsided later that day, Arthur supposed it wasn't so bad and he concluded that sex was nothing special at all. In fact, he didn't know why he always made a big deal about his first time. It almost seemed silly that he wanted to wait to lose his virginity to someone he was in love with.

Toward the end of his spring break, Arthur clumsily picked up a redhead at a shop to have sex with. He was nervous, his words were vague and shy, and his inner voice begged him not to go through with the plan. It wasn't something he wanted to do but having sex had been an effective way for him to get his mind off his feelings, and he was sure it would be easier the second time around.

By the time spring break was over, most of the alphas at the community college knew about the promiscuous blond omega with messy hair. It wasn't just the redhead that spread the gossip. Most of the students who saw Arthur walk up to the redhead at the shop had spread their own rumors too. Although Arthur didn't ask to have sex outright, almost everyone in the shop was sure that Arthur approached the red-headed alpha to solicit sex.

No one knew the omega's name from the rumors, so no one was certain that it was Arthur until the last few weeks in school. Since everyone was so stressed about finals, alphas needed some form of relief to blow off their steam. Arthur also needed something to distract himself. Since Arthur always carried condoms with him and was so bold in how he approached alphas for sex, the rumors about him became more descriptive and factual.

This seemed to intensify the impression that he was a sexual deviant, but Arthur didn't care. He got straight A's by the end of the semester and he still managed to afford rent on his own. It was unlikely that anyone else in the school could say the same.

Summer break was difficult though. Now that Arthur was no longer a virgin, he found that it was even more unbearable for him to spend his heats alone. His heat in August was particularly tormenting. It was the one year anniversary of the calamity that had happened.

Once his heat was over in August, he found that he really needed to have sex with someone. Anyone. Finding students wasn't as quick or easy as it had been during spring break, so Arthur decided to try his luck at a bar. He was nervous that his ID would be checked, but it turned out that they only checked IDs if a person wanted to buy an alcoholic beverage.

He found a pitiful alpha who wasn't very good looking but who didn't give Arthur any bad vibes. After approaching the much older man, they went to the lavatory together. Arthur handed the recently divorced alpha a condom and they had sex in one of the stalls. It was almost unbelievable how easy it was to have sex at a bar.

Arthur continued going to bars for the rest of summer break. He went nearly every night.

The semester started again at the end of the month. It was his third semester at the community college. Something about having sex with strangers in a bar changed something in him. Arthur no longer had any qualms about having sex. In fact, he fancied how much more experienced and knowledgeable he was about it than his peers, especially his omega peers who were usually still virgins. Now when people gossiped about Arthur, it was often in awe or envy.

Halfway through October Arthur noticed a professor watching him. The professor would often pass by the bookshop, but Arthur was never sure if he was checking him out or not until the alpha started watching Arthur on a daily basis.

It was weeks later when the professor finally approached him. That was when Arthur officially met Francis Bonnefoy. The professor invited Arthur out to dinner and then they had sex later that night.

They had sex often after that. It was never anything Arthur initiated. Francis would seek Arthur out, usually on a Friday evening when Arthur was done closing the shop.

Francis was a sexually adventurous person with a large appetite that never got satisfied. It wasn't long before Francis started inviting Arthur to orgies and other types of sex parties. As much as Francis enjoyed having sex with Arthur, he enjoyed when they explored other people's bodies together.

Arthur only had sex with Francis for the last two semesters that he was at community college. When Arthur got his degree, he left without saying goodbye.

  


 

The bus hit a deep pothole which shook Arthur out of his memories. He turned away from the window and looked down at his phone. The only new message was from Francis.

When can I see you again my Amour?? <3

Arthur let out a disappointed sigh. He wasn't sure why he kept doing this to himself. Alfred hadn't texted him in weeks. There was no reason to think that Alfred would text him now just because they saw each other at lunch.

With another sigh, Arthur closed his eyes and fought against the urge to cry.

 

Chapter Text

Arthur let out a frustrated sigh. The bus was taking longer to reach his stop than usual, or at least that was how Arthur felt since he was so anxious to return to the safety and comfort of his bedroom.

His heart skipped when he felt his phone vibrate. He quickly looked at it and frowned when it was just another text from Francis. Arthur huffed before staring out the window again.

He always felt he had control over his life but thinking back to his schooldays made him feel like a lot of people and events caused him to stray from a path he was originally on. No matter how hard Arthur ever tried to get back on track, something always seemed to happened to derail him...

 


 

The last time Arthur took a bus to the community college was so he could sell some of his textbooks. When he reached his stop, he was about to get off the bus when he saw Francis walking on the sidewalk. The alpha immediately noticed him and started to walk toward the bus. While Arthur had been looking out the window he accidentally bumped into a man with strawberry brown hair and caused him to drop a book.

"Sorry," Arthur apologized as he immediately bent down to get the book. When he picked it up, he was bewitched by the cover. There was a giant symbol in the center that Arthur had seen before but never learned the name of. It was a symmetrical triangle made from three interlaced arcs. Arthur stood up and handed the book back to the stranger. He was tempted to ask more about it but shyness diminished Arthur's courage.

"Ah, I see you are curious," said the man as he took his book from Arthur. There was a tiny hat on the side of his head that looked like it was being held in place purely by magic.

"Curious about what?" Arthur asked although he was sure he knew what the Romanian was referring to.

"This book. I can see it calling out to you," the man said. "I work at a place that sells many more books like this one. Tell you what — it's only two stops from here. Why don't you come check it out and if you happen to like what you see then I'll give you a book for free."

Arthur was so used to sexual advances that he was sure the Romanian was just looking for sex.

It was then that the bus driver asked, "Is anyone else getting off at this stop? This is your last chance before the doors close!"

Arthur glanced out the window to where Francis was standing and waiting for him. He hadn't intended on seeing the Frenchman that day. In fact, he was looking forward to having a clean break from the alpha since he would be going to university soon.

So Arthur stayed on the bus and agreed to visit the Romanian's job.

It turned out to be a magic shop with countless books, crystals, candles, and other items that mesmerized Arthur. There was a room in the back for black magic but the Romanian advised Arthur to stick to the lighter material first.

As promised, Arthur was given a free book. And as the Romanian probably predicted, Arthur came back many more times to buy almost everything the shop had to offer. Arthur was consumed by the new world that magic introduced him to and was fascinated by what he learned about witches and witchcraft. He was so delighted by it all that his compulsion to use sex to distract himself from his thoughts and feelings all but vanished.

Arthur's first semester at the university started at the end of August. He started with a full-time schedule but the workload was very different from community college. The classes were longer, the assignments were harder and were due sooner, and there was more reading required by the start of every class. He still had to work full-time to afford his rent, so there was no way he could keep his GPA above 3.5 to remain eligible for his scholarships and grants. So Arthur withdrew from two of the classes while he still had a chance to get a full refund.

Being in a new school was pleasant. It was an opportunity for a fresh start. Arthur was still sexually active but he had became adept at blocking his troubling thoughts all on his own and very proficient at masturbation, so he only had sex whenever the mood struck him.

That all started to change during his second year at the university. There was a day when Arthur arrived early to class so he could focus on studying. He was unable to concentrate, however, because there were a few omegas sitting across from him who were chatting loudly. Apparently, one of the omegas just had sex for the first time. Then the tallest of the three revealed that he had never been kissed before.

"What if I'm bad at it?" the tall omega grumbled. "I bet cats never have to deal with this kind of problem... It would be so much easier if I was a cat."

The other omegas laughed, mistaking the tall omega's comment as a joke.

After a few minutes of them fussing over the "huge dilemma" of getting the tall omega to have his first kiss, Arthur snapped. "Why don't you just get it over with and kiss one of your friends?"

The omegas all looked at Arthur in shock.

"Kiss another omega?" the tall omega asked nervously. "Omegas don't do that."

"Some do," Arthur stated nonchalantly.

The tall omega looked at his friends.

"Well don't look at me," a female omega quipped.

"Uh-uh. I'm not doing it," a shorter male omega replied.

None of the other omegas said anything, so the tall omega gave Arthur a nervous look. "Can you do it?"

"If I do, will you all promise to be quiet so I can study in peace?" Arthur asked.

"Oh yes, definitely," the female omega said, then she gave the other omegas a hard look. "Right?"

The other omegas quickly agreed.

"Fine. Come here then," Arthur said dispassionately.

The tall omega was even taller when he stood up. He must have been about six feet. Despite the loose clothes he wore, it was abundantly clear that he had a broad frame and a strong build.

"Oh, my name is Heracles," the tall omega said as he walked over to Arthur. "Yeah, I know it's strange for an omega to be named that. My parents thought I was going to be an alpha so they named me after the great Greek alpha Heracles."

"Uh huh," Arthur responded dismissively. Once the omega was standing in front of him, Arthur grabbed his shirt and pulled him down with such force that Heracles stumbled forward into the kiss. The kiss meant nothing to Arthur. After all, he had kissed many people before including omegas. It was just muscle memory at that point.

When Arthur stopped kissing him, all Heracles could say was, "Whoa... T-Thanks..."

"Whatever," Arthur muttered as he grabbed his textbook and resumed his studying.

Of course, the omegas told everyone that Arthur kissed Heracles. Unlike in community college, the omegas shared this information in awe rather than in spite and disapproval. It wasn't long before omegas sought Arthur out to ask if they could practice kissing with him.

At least that's how it started. By the following semester, omegas began asking Arthur to stay with them during their heat. Omegas commonly spent their heat with other omegas but it was never in a sexual way, which was why so many omegas were interested in spending their heat with Arthur.

Arthur never offered to give anal sex but he provided anal fingering and didn't mind thrusting sex toys inside an omega's hole. He was also fine with giving blowjobs as long as the omega wore a condom. Many omegas soon discovered that having sex with other omegas, even during their heat, wasn't as strange as they thought it would be, so omegas sought Arthur out for casual sex.

The Brit found that having casual sex with omegas was infinitely simpler than it had been with alphas. Since most of the omegas were only interested in being with an alpha, anything they did with Arthur was only short-term and could never grow into anything more. Sometimes it was just a one-time fling, which perfectly suited Arthur's fancy.

At the end of the semester, Heracles ran up to Arthur to stop the Brit.

"Hi," Heracles greeted happily.

"Hey?" Arthur said. He didn't know why the Greek was speaking to him.

"I just wanted to thank you," Heracles said with a wide smile.

Arthur finally looked at Heracles. "Thank me for what?"

"For that kiss," Heracles whispered. "I finally kissed an alpha and I didn't feel anything."

Arthur shrugged. "And?"

"So it all makes sense. The reason why it was so hard for me to ever find an alpha was because I'm actually interested in omegas!" Heracles excitedly said in a hushed voice.

"Well, that's brilliant for you but I'm not interested in —"

"It's okay," Heracles quickly said, cutting Arthur off. "I wasn't asking you to go out with me. I just wanted to thank you. I wouldn't have found this out about myself if you hadn't kissed me."

"Oh, um... no problem?" Arthur replied with a small smile.

"Well, enjoy your winter break! And have a wonderful new year. I must go but I'm very happy I ran into you. I was really hoping I could give you this," Heracles said as he handed Arthur a small envelope. Then he started to run off. When Heracles reached the doors, he turned around to wave at Arthur before he left the building.

Once Heracles was gone, Arthur opened the envelope and pulled out a card that was in the shape of a cat's face. Inside was a printed message that read:

I got you this card because well -

Guess you can say cat's got my tongue.

Okay, no more pussyfooting around.

Did you know that you are super purrrrfect!

Sorry! I guess I just let the cat out of the bag

that you're the cat's meow!

Underneath the printed message was a hand-written message that was lightly scribbled in pen:

I'm really glad I met you this semester.

You helped me learn so much about myself.

You are the coolest omega ever!!

Have a great new year! =^._.^=

- Heracles Karpusi

P.S. Thank you so so so much!!!!

Although Arthur had to restrain himself from rolling his eyes at the card's printed message, he couldn't help but smile as he read what Heracles wrote. He stared at it for a long moment before he placed the card in his backpack. Then he left to go home.

The start of spring semester went fine, although Arthur had to pick up more hours at his retail job. For some reason, his scholarship didn't cover his whole tuition this semester. It didn't bother him too much, however. As long as he passed all his classes, which there was no doubt that he would; Arthur would only need to complete eight more courses to be eligible to get his bachelor's degree.

While Arthur was at work toward the end of February, he had to get rid of all the leftover Valentine's Day themed items and stock the shelves with new merchandise. It was a slow day. There hadn't been too many customers walking in the store, which was why Arthur was especially startled when Francis approached him in the empty aisle.

Francis visited Arthur's job nearly every day for a week before Arthur decided to have sex with the alpha again. It was more manageable than before because Francis stopped going to orgies and other sorts of sex parties. Instead, they merely engaged in threesomes and foursomes.

Arthur only had sex with Francis during that spring semester. Once the semester ended in May, Arthur avoided the alpha so he could actually relax during his summer break. Toward the end of July, Arthur was finally allowed to register for classes. Once he signed up for them, he saw that he was being charged for the full amount. He went to meet with his financial aid adviser as soon as he was able to.

"I see..." the advisor said while looking at the computer screen. "The problem seems to be that you've taken too long to graduate."

"But I've maintained above a 3.5 this entire time," Arthur almost yelled.

"You only took two courses each semester," the advisor pointed out.

"So? That was the only way I could have a high enough GPA to even be eligible to get financial aid," Arthur argued.

"I understand that. Unfortunately, omegas usually don't graduate from universities so there's a different timeline of eligibility for omegas. Since you transferred from community college with an associate's degree, you should have graduated this spring."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Arthur fumed. He wanted to scream, yell, and cry all at once.

"Language," the advisor said curtly.

"Sorry," Arthur grumbled. "So what is this? Discrimination?"

"Financial aid is a privilege, not a right. The guidelines for eligibility is at the discretion of the donors," the advisor explained.

"Okay but I'm a 4.0 student and I'm really close to graduating! Can't they just see that I only have eight bloody classes left? Why would they cut me off now?"

"Statistics," the advisor casually answered. "Unfortunately, you simply took too long. You would be graduating now if you were a part-time student."

"I am a part-time student," Arthur said through gritted teeth.

The advisor nodded. "Technically, that's true but three classes would have made you an ideal part-time student. You would be graduating now if you took at least three classes instead of two."

"But no one told me that," Arthur nearly cried while trying hard to breathe normally.

"I'm sure someone would have told you if you came for academic counseling," the advisor said.

"I did," Arthur snapped. "I went every bloody semester!"

"Well, I'm sure you never asked how many classes you should take."

"How was I supposed to know to ask that? The advisors always knew how many classes I was taking," Arthur retorted in dismay.

The advisor shrugged. "There's nothing that can be done now. Anyway, there are other students waiting. Do you have any other questions?"

Arthur could barely breathe. The anger, fear, and disappointment that filled his chest flooded into his throat and slowly started to suffocate him.

"No... Just..." Arthur choked out. He swallowed hard until his feelings were shoved down to the pit of his stomach. Then he dug his nails into his knees and asked, "Can you remove me from the classes I just enrolled in?"

"Certainly. I should have that done for you in just... one... moment. There. All done. You are no longer scheduled for any classes for the fall semester. Anything else?"

"No," Arthur mumbled as he stood up and rushed out the room. He hurried to the nearest lavatory and collapsed on the ground as he started gasping for air. Tears blinded him as he started sobbing uncontrollably.

Arthur cried often after that and remained depressed for the rest of the month. He had been so close to getting his bachelor's degree. Few omegas got that far. It was difficult to accept that he lost all of his scholarships and grants over such a trivial reason. Once it became August, Arthur became even more depressed.

The day before his heat started in August, Arthur was suddenly filled with trepidation. Although his recent heats were more bearable since he started using sex toys, Arthur remembered how awful his heat could be — how he sobbed while his cock throbbed to be touched and his hole ached to be filled. Since he was already distraught about what happened in school and feeling emotional since it was August, he wasn't sure if the sex toys would be enough.

Then Arthur thought about the omegas he had sex with during their heats. For many of them, Arthur was the first person they spent their heat with, although they probably didn't think the sex counted since he was an omega. Maybe having sex during his heat wasn't such a big deal.

Still, Arthur viewed his heat as a second sort of virginity since an omega had to be in heat to feel an alpha's knot. Despite everything he had experienced, he never had sex with anyone during his heat before, so he never felt an alpha's knot. A fleeting part of him wanted to wait. It was a tiny feeling that whispered that there was someone special out there for him — someone amazing who would love Arthur for who he was.

But Arthur ignored the feeling. Arthur rarely liked people. Even Francis, who was a very skilled and experienced lover, didn't make Arthur feel much of anything. In the unlikely event that Arthur did find someone he really fancied, he didn't think that person would love him back, especially not after they learned about all the things Arthur had done and how many people he had done them with.

So Arthur resolved to have sex with an alpha during his heat that month but he didn't know how to go about it. He wished that there was some sort of safe and reputable service that he could use, like an alpha-for-hire where omegas in heat could pay for an alpha's company or sex. It sounded like something that should have existed, so Arthur looked online for it.

The only thing he found was a book titled This is Stupid. Arthur decided to buy the book on a whim since it so perfectly expressed his own sentiments, then he gave up his search to pay an alpha to spend his heat with him. As he closed the laptop, Arthur thought of another idea. The book he just bought reminded him of school and how one of his university professors forced everyone to get the phone number of another classmate.

Arthur thought it was a rubbish idea at the time but now he was thankful for it. He didn't have a lot of contacts on his phone so it only took a second to find the name Vash Zwingli. He actually didn't know the alpha's name since he didn't look in the phone for it before now. He hadn't really even seen what the alpha looked like when they exchanged numbers.

After getting over his nervousness, Arthur texted Vash and asked if the alpha wanted to have sex. The alpha replied "okay", so Arthur sent him the address to his flat. Vash turned out to be a very short alpha who was several inches shorter than Arthur. Like in his messages, Vash was very monosyllabic with an almost monotonous voice. All of this combined with his neutral expressions made him very difficult to read. Still, Vash was there and had already agreed to have sex, so Arthur didn't need to know much more than that.

Since Arthur was in heat, Vash stayed for the entire week. The first time Arthur felt Vash's condom covered knot, it lasted about a minute before it diminished. Still, it was enough for Arthur to instantly feel connected to the alpha. So much so that he started to think that Vash was his soulmate as the days went on. By the end of Arthur's heat, he was convinced that he was in love with the alpha.

Then his heat ended and Arthur found that he didn't have any feelings toward Vash at all. It was so startling that Arthur pushed for them to see each other several times a week to rekindle the feeling he had felt during his heat. He had never felt so close to another person before and it scared him that he could lose the feelings just as quickly as they were formed.

They saw each other often for a few weeks. The only thing Arthur found interesting about Vash was that he was part of a Big Alpha Big Omega program where alphas acted like an older sibling to young alphas and omegas acted like an older sibling to young omegas. Vash was the big brother to a young female alpha in the program who was wise for her age and very tech savvy. As admirable as this was, Arthur still didn't feel any sort of interest in the alpha.

Arthur asked Vash to stay during his heat again and Vash accepted with a simple "sure". All of the feelings Arthur had toward Vash flooded back the moment his heat began. Reluctantly, Arthur had to acknowledge the conclusion that the feelings he thought he had for the alpha were all fabrications from the surge of hormones his heat caused.

This was confirmed when Arthur's heat ended late Friday morning. All the feelings he had toward Vash completely disappeared along with his heat. So Arthur woke Vash and asked the alpha to leave.

"I know this might be confusing but I don't think we should see each other again," Arthur said while holding his door open for Vash.

"Alright," Vash said before leaving.

Arthur was pleasantly surprised by how indifferently Vash handled the news. About fifteen minutes later, Arthur heard a knock at his door. Arthur knew it had to be Vash and his mind quickly went through all the possible things the alpha might have come back to say. As Arthur slowly walked to the door, he mentally prepared what he would stay in response to the alpha.

Reluctantly, Arthur answered the door and was surprised to find a package on the floor. Confused, he brought the package inside and opened it. Inside was a small book titled This is Stupid.

"Right," Arthur murmured as he held the book in his hands.

As he read the back cover, he went to the kitchen to fix himself tea. He didn't like eating before or shortly after sex, so he wasn't in the mood for breakfast.

Once the tea was ready, Arthur walked over to his armchair and sat down. After taking a sip, he placed his cup on the stand beside the chair as he sat down. Then he opened This is Stupid and began reading.

Arthur got into a habit of drinking tea and reading This is Stupid every morning for the next two weeks. Since it was a short book and Arthur was a relatively quick reader, it only took him the two weeks to finish it. As it turned out, the book was part of a series, so Arthur ordered the rest of the books in the series as well as one of the author's longer books titled This Road Is Paved With Our Blood.

Reading This is Stupid gave him something to look forward to but he finished it very quickly, so Arthur was excited to start reading the longer book. He hoped it would take at least a couple of months to get through This Road Is Paved With Our Blood.

As Arthur's heat approached, he started to feel stressed. He couldn't go back to spending his heat alone after experiencing an alpha's knot but he didn't want to contact Vash again. The alpha hadn't contacted him again after Arthur told him to leave. He didn't want to cause himself or Vash any drama by inviting the alpha again.

Since Arthur's heat made him feel so strongly about a classmate he didn't even know, he couldn't risk spending his heat with someone he knew — not that Arthur had many acquaintances or any friends. As unappealing as it was to find a willing stranger to spend his week with, Arthur was used to having sex with people he didn't know thanks to Francis. So Arthur found a stranger to shag during his next heat.

To Arthur's surprise, it took a while to find an alpha who was willing to spend his heat with him. Arthur discovered that directly asking someone to stay during his heat was problematic. Apparently, it was akin to asking an alpha to be his mate. This turned most alphas off. Meanwhile, the alphas who did agree were difficult to cut ties with once Arthur's heat was over.

Arthur decided to try finding alphas hours before his heat started. This was risky since it was only a decade ago that alphas would have felt comfortable having their way with an omega for doing the same thing. Still, Arthur's scent quickly lured interested alphas to him. Once the alpha was in his flat, the alpha was compelled to stay for Arthur's entire heat. It was an easy and effective way to find someone to spend his heat with.

Each time Arthur had sex with a new alpha during his heat, he felt like he was in love until the moment his heat ended. Fortunately, it didn't take long for Arthur to learn how to block out those feelings and only focus on the sexual satisfaction.

Whenever Arthur wasn't in heat or at work, he spent his time alone. The morning routine he settled into gave him a sense of calmness that he was lacking in his life. Having something to look forward to helped Arthur avoid focusing on the negative things in his past, even if the thing he was looking forward to was as simple as reading a few pages from a book.

Although Arthur still read other books from different authors, there was something about this particular author's writing that Arthur really favored. He bought a new book with each paycheck until he owned every book from the author's collection. Whenever a new book was published, he bought it straight away.

His life became mostly consistent, which Arthur fancied because of the stability it offered him. Since he had a delicate stomach, he often didn't eat when he first woke up. Instead, he read the news on his phone as he brewed and drank his tea since he felt obligated to be at least somewhat aware of what was going on in the world.

Then he went to his armchair and read whatever book he was currently reading. If he didn't finish his tea while reading the news, then he would continue drinking it while in the living room. After reading a few pages, he took a shower before getting dressed for work. Once he was dressed, he prepared a quick breakfast to eat. Often he made toast or something he could eat as he walked to the bus stop.

There was room in his routine for flexibility, which Arthur also fancied. He could skip his shower whenever he wanted so he could read longer. If he woke up early then maybe he would take his shower first before doing anything else. On days when he was particularly moody, he would skip reading the news and go straight to his armchair to read a book.

Perhaps it wasn't much but it couldn't mean more to Arthur.

 


 

The vibration from his phone pulled Arthur out of his thoughts. He briefly looked at the message which read:

I'm going to an art museum this weekend... Wanna come?

Arthur reread the message again. It was so unlike Francis. He looked at the top of the message to see who it was from. His heart started pounding when he saw that the text was from Alfred.

 

Chapter Text

As Arthur stared down at the text, he couldn't help but wonder if Alfred was really inviting him to go to a museum. A large part of him worried that it was a mistake, that perhaps Alfred meant to send the invitation to someone else.

Arthur read the text a few times before writing a reply. First, he wrote "Did you mean to send me this?" before promptly deleting it. Then he typed "Are you still miffed at me?" but deleted that too. It took him several minutes to write a message he was scarcely confident enough to send. The message he sent simply asked: When is it?

The next text he got was from Francis again. Arthur eagerly waited for Alfred's response but it never came. Soon the bus reached his stop and Arthur hurried to get home. By the time he got dressed into his night clothes, Alfred finally responded.

Alfred had sent him a link to the museum event. Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art was open every day, it was only free on the last Sunday in June, which happened to be this coming Sunday. As interested as Arthur was, he wondered whether it was too soon for them to be spending time together. Alfred was supposedly in love with him, which Arthur still had trouble believing. But if Alfred really did love him, then Arthur didn't see how they could spend any time together as just friends. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

Not knowing what to do or how to respond to the text, Arthur decided to sleep on the matter.

 


 

The following day, Arthur sat at their usual table and anxiously waited for Alfred to arrive. When he saw the American approaching from the distance, he fought the urge to smile. Then Alfred said "hi" in such an off voice that Arthur's excitement quickly faded away.

"Hey," Arthur greeted back. He nervously bit his lip before asking, "How are you getting on?"

"Pretty good I guess. Did you check out the link I sent you?" Alfred asked.

Arthur nodded. He forgot that he didn't reply to Alfred's text. "Yeah. What time did you want to go?"

"Any time works for me. What time did you wanna go?" Alfred asked.

Arthur knew Alfred was trying to make it easier and more convenient for him but it actually made everything harder. Although Arthur intended on going, being responsible for choosing the time took away the option for him to cancel which instantly caused the Brit a lot of stress. It was just too much pressure.

"I don't know," Arthur said, unintentionally sounding indifferent. "I might be busy but maybe I'll meet you there?"

"Does that mean you might not come at all?" Alfred asked.

The disappointment on Alfred's face made Arthur recoil a bit. He didn't mean it as a rejection, he just wanted to keep his options open in case he changed his mind at the last minute. It was moments like this that reminded Arthur exactly why he wasn't the sort of person who was meant to be in a relationship with anyone — especially not with a person as great as Alfred.

That thought only made Arthur feel worse and he almost completely backed out of the invitation. Instead, Arthur said, "I don't know... but you should probably plan on going with or without me."

If it were at all possible, Alfred managed to look even more disappointed. Arthur couldn't handle seeing Alfred like this so he looked away from the American and focused on an empty table that was off to the side.

"Oh... okay," Alfred mumbled as he directed his attention to his lunch. He didn't look at Arthur again while he ate.

Arthur watched Alfred eat despite himself and suddenly understood why it bothered Alfred when he used to read during lunch. It was uncomfortable sitting across someone who wasn't paying any attention to him, especially when it lasted for minutes on end.

The moment Alfred was done eating, he said, "Well, I guess I'll see you at lunch tomorrow."

From the way Alfred said that, Arthur doubted that he would see Alfred again that week, but he nodded his head anyway.

True to his word, Alfred appeared at lunch the next day and the day after that. They had lunch together all week and by Friday they were able to have normal conversations without it feeling too awkward.

Toward the end of lunch, Alfred asked, "Do you know yet if you'll be busy on Sunday?"

Arthur didn't have any obligations but he didn't want to tell Alfred that. He still wanted to keep the door open in case he decided to change his mind later. "I think I should be free around noon, so I can probably meet you a quarter to one?

"Great! We can meet by the Rocky statue. It's in front of the museum," Alfred said with a big smile. Arthur really missed seeing that smile. Part of him thought he would never see it again.

"Sounds good to me," Arthur said.

 


 

Arthur was in good spirits for the rest of the day. The moment he got off the bus, he was eager to eat dinner, take a shower, and go straight to bed so he could be rested for tomorrow. As he approached his flat, he looked down in his purse to look for his keys. He was halfway up the stairs when he finally found them.

"Mon cher! You are finally here," Francis exclaimed.

Arthur jumped from shock from hearing the Frenchman's voice and accidentally dropped his keys.

"What the bloody hell are you doing here?" Arthur practically growled as he bent down to find his keys. He let out an annoyed sigh when he realized they fell down by the front door.

"I wanted to surprise you!" Francis proudly declared.

"I don't fancy surprises," Arthur curtly stated as he walked down the stairs to get his keys. When Arthur turned around, he saw Francis for the first time and noticed that the Frenchman was holding a box of chocolate covered strawberries in one hand and a bouquet of red roses in the other. This only frustrated Arthur further. "It's not okay to just show up unannounced."

"But we have to celebrate," Francis said excitedly as Arthur walked up the stairs. Once Arthur reached the door, Francis leaned in to kiss the Brit. Arthur dodged the kiss as he unlocked the door.

"And what are we celebrating?" Arthur asked as he walked inside his flat. He was reluctant to let Francis in but he didn't feel like arguing and figured that turning the alpha way was more trouble than it was worth.

"Zis celebration is for our amour," Francis stated.

"Uh huh," Arthur said as he walked into the kitchen.

While Arthur was in the kitchen, Francis went on to explain how in the last few months he had wanted to settle down with just one or two people. There was something about his last birthday that changed something in him. When he looked at his face in the mirror, his eyes seemed old and weary even though his face still held a youthful appearance.

Although Francis' face didn't change, he had. The students he slept with at the community college seemed to be getting younger and younger. He no longer felt like he belonged at the sex parties he frequented, especially the orgies. Somehow he felt too old for it all. Even sleeping with his coupled friends wasn't as satisfying as it used to be. Sure, it was still pleasurable, but seeing his friends kiss each other so lovingly at the end and leave to their own home made Francis feel even more alone.

The Frenchman wanted to share his life with someone else. He wanted to go home and see a familiar face — or two, or three. The point was that he was looking for at least one steady lover that he could see every morning and night.

"Do you see? Meeting you at ze bar was fate!" Francis exclaimed.

Arthur hardly heard a word the Frenchman said. When Francis started talking, Arthur had started looking for alcohol to take the edge off. He rarely drank alcohol but he was sure he still had a bottle of dry gin somewhere. Arthur had bought a bottle after he had to drop out of the university when his scholarships ran out.

After a couple of minutes of searching, he found it in the back of his pantry and was happy to find that most of it was still left. Then he went to get the canister that held the golden ribbon. Arthur had placed the ribbon back in the canister the moment this heat ended so that it wouldn't get lost. While Francis bore his soul out to the omega, Arthur rubbed the ribbon between his fingers while he drank enough gin to no longer be bothered by the alpha's presence.

"So," Francis said as he grabbed Arthur by the waist and started pecking kisses into his neck. "Let us celebrate our amour tonight. I have all ze ingredients needed for ze perfect romantic evening."

Arthur responded by pulling away to take another shot of gin. He then put the ribbon back in the canister before saying, "You can do whatever you want. I'm going to bed."

Francis invited himself to Arthur's room and brought the strawberries with him.

"What are you doing?" Arthur slightly slurred as he held the bridge of his nose — as if his head wouldn't stay up on its own.

"Trust me. You will love zis," Francis said. "Now close your eyes."

Arthur responded by looking up at Francis with narrowed eyes.

"Come on, just close your eyes," Francis insisted.

When Arthur refused to comply, Francis decided to proceed with what he intended to do. He slowly, sensually, rubbed a chocolate coated strawberry over Arthur's mouth, coating the omega's lips with chocolate.

Arthur weakly pushed Francis' hand away before wiping the chocolate off his mouth with the side of his arm. It took a few tries to clean his mouth since his arm felt limp from the alcohol.

"It is delicious. Taste some of zis," Francis cooed.

The Brit groaned before caving in. He took a bite and scrunched his face when Francis watched him eat with heavy eyes.

"Here," Francis said as he placed a strawberry in Arthur's hand. "Let us feed each other."

"No," Arthur grumbled. His body, which was feeling heavier and heavier by the minute, started to sway as he struggled to stay in a seated position.

"It is easy, look," Francis said as he used his free hand to grab Arthur's wrist. He guided Arthur's hand to his mouth and leaned forward to eat the strawberry. As Francis did this, he used his other hand to push the half-eaten strawberry against Arthur's lips until he was able to force it in the omega's mouth.

Arthur started coughing as his acid reflux started acting up.

"Are you okay?" Francis asked. When Arthur didn't answer, he said, "It is fine. Let us try something else."

Francis grabbed another strawberry from the box and placed it in his mouth. Holding the fruit between his teeth, he leaned close to Arthur and waited for the omega to take the other end of the strawberry. When Arthur resisted, Francis ate the strawberry himself. Then he started to pull Arthur's shirt over the Brit's head.

"What are you doing?" Arthur asked as he swayed away from the alpha.

"You will see," Francis said excitedly. "You will love it."

With an exasperated sigh, Arthur allowed the Frenchman to take off his shirt. Then Francis used a strawberry to rub Arthur's nipple before licking off the juices from the soft bud.

"This really isn't my cup of tea so I'd thank you to get rid of the strawberries now," Arthur muttered as he clumsily backed away. "Go, go on."

Francis pouted as he looked at Arthur. With a resigned sigh, he picked up the box of fruit and left to put it in the refrigerator. When he returned, Arthur was sprawled out on the bed. Francis tried to lie down beside the omega but Arthur would move to block the open space. Then Francis lied down on top of the Brit.

Arthur was too exhausted and drunk to go through the hassle of kicking the alpha out of his room, so he pulled himself from under Francis and scooted to the edge of the bed to sleep.

There were several times throughout the night when Francis tried to initiate sex — he had kissed Arthur on the neck, he had cuddled with Arthur while softly humping against the omega's ass, and at one point he had even reached over and started touching Arthur's flaccid cock.

In the morning, Arthur woke up with a splitting headache. As if that wasn't bad enough, he noticed that Francis had been staring at him.

"Were you watching me sleep?" Arthur asked with his face scrunched up in revulsion.

"Oui. I could not help it. You looked so beautiful," Francis said with a smile.

Ignoring Francis, Arthur grabbed his phone to check the time and immediately began to panic.

"This can't be right," Arthur thought aloud.

"Hmm?" Francis asked.

"The time. It can't be this late. None of my alarms went off," Arthur grumbled.

"Oh, zat? I turned zem off so you could sleep," Francis said with a warm smile.

"You what?!" Arthur shouted.

"You were sleeping so peacefully," Francis explained.

"What the bloody hell is wrong with you?" Arthur yelled.

Francis stammered an apology that Arthur didn't pay attention to. As much as Arthur wanted to wash the alpha's scent off him, he really didn't really have time for a shower. He got dressed, then took everything off to try on another outfit. After looking in the mirror, he changed his shirt again before changing his shorts.

"Where are you going?" Francis asked while Arthur tried on a fourth outfit.

"Out," Arthur said simply before changing his shorts a final time.

"Are you going to see someone?" Francis asked as he watched Arthur fail to smoothen his messy hair. "I do not mind if you have another lover. I would just like to know."

Arthur rubbed his temples. His headache wasn't getting any lighter.

"Bloody hell, will you just piss off? I can't leave until you get out," Arthur snapped. He went to his dresser and grabbed his sunglasses before walking to the front door. He put the sunglasses on before he leaned against the door and started to tap his foot impatiently.

Francis frowned a bit when he watched Arthur leave the bedroom. He reluctantly got up and got dressed before leaving. Arthur followed behind and locked the door.

"Maybe I can take you where you need to go?" Francis offered.

Arthur was about to decline until he checked the time on his phone. He was already running late thanks to the alpha messing with the alarms. Arthur didn't want to risk being any later by taking the bus.

"Fine," Arthur said with a frustrated huff.

 

Chapter Text

As Francis drove to the museum, he kept asking Arthur one question after another. Despite how much Francis was speaking, Arthur didn't say a word since they got in the car which made Francis concerned and prompted the Frenchman to speak even more. The alpha's incessant talking bothered Arthur so much that he almost wanted to forget the museum and go back home because, frankly, nothing was worth sitting through so much pestering.

It was at that moment when Arthur was able to see the museum in the distance. Unfortunately, they were stuck in traffic so Arthur would be stuck with Francis for a while longer.

"Please tell me something," Francis asked when Arthur refused to answer yet another one of his questions.

"Will you shut your trap if I do?" Arthur asked. Francis' grating voice was making his head pound even worse. All he wanted was a bit of peaceful silence.

"Oui, mon cher."

"His name is Alfred and he's just a friend," Arthur said bitterly.

"Well... if you like zis Alfred, you can bring him back home and we can become a ménage à trois," Francis offered with a smile. "Or I can give you two some privacy and you can have your fun with le monsieur. You know how generous I am! I do not mind sharing you. Zen maybe you can tell me about it later. Zat can be fun, non?"

"Alfred isn't like that," Arthur said with a softness that contrasted with how moody he had been all morning. The change in his voice was so extreme that Francis looked away from the road to look at the omega but he couldn't read Arthur's expression under the big dark sunglasses the Brit was wearing.

"Ah, so he is inhibited," Francis remarked as he went back to looking at the bumper-to-bumper traffic ahead of them.

"There are more ways of being uninhibited than banging a myriad of people," Arthur snapped.

"Zat is what ze repressed people say. People like us know better, we know what true liberation feels like, huh?" Francis remarked with a grin.

Arthur pursed his lips and gritted his teeth from what Francis' said. Of course, Arthur used to think similarly but now he didn't see any appeal in having the freedom to shag whomever he wanted whenever he pleased if it meant that he couldn't be with the one person he actually cared about.

Part of Arthur wondered what his life would be like if he never started having casual sex all those years ago. He had a strong feeling that everything between Alfred and him would be better. Most of the doubts Arthur had about love stemmed from all the times he had sex with people he didn't know.

If Arthur didn't have his reservations about relationships and love, he wondered if he would have asked Alfred out on a date instead of asking the alpha to come during his heat on Valentine's Day. Alfred would have said yes, of course, since Alfred already fancied him at that point. Then they would be in a relationship right now and everything would be different. Arthur wouldn't have a sexual past that would be sure to drive the alpha away. Not only that but all the sexual things Arthur had done could have been experienced for the first time with Alfred instead of some stranger or Francis.

"Zere is nothing like discovering a new person's body, especially when doing it with your amour, oui?" Francis asked, snapping Arthur out of his thoughts. The Brit didn't realize that Francis had been talking this whole time.

"Thanks for the ride," Arthur said while unbuckling his seatbelt.

"What? But we are not even zere yet," Francis exclaimed. When Arthur opened the door, Francis grabbed Arthur's arm and pulled him back in. "Come on, sit down."

Arthur yanked his arm free and got out of the car before Francis could say another word. Arthur's side of the car was right next to a curb, so Arthur safely stepped on the sidewalk and walked through the large stretch of grass in the direction of the museum.

Although Arthur was wearing cute but uncomfortable sandals, walking was actually faster and more relaxing than sitting through the traffic. Soon, Arthur was able to see Alfred standing by the Rocky statue, just as he said he would be. The alpha was wearing brand name sneakers, camouflage cargo shorts, and a faded blue shirt with the Captain America shield on it. Since Arthur wasn't into superheroes, it was just a white star with a red, white, and another red line circling around it as far as he was concerned.

"Hey, Artie," Alfred called out to him once he spotted the omega.

Arthur smiled and waved at the alpha.

"I'm so excited," Alfred exclaimed once Arthur walked up to him. He went to hug Arthur but could smell Francis all over him even with the gap of space still between them, so Alfred didn't hug him — or couldn't, to be more accurate. The last time Alfred hugged Arthur while the omega smelled like Francis, Alfred felt like crying and vomiting all at once.

Since Alfred's arms were outstretched to hug Arthur, he turned at the last minute and over-enthusiastically gestured to the stairs leading to the museum. "These are the stairs that Rocky ran on in the movie. Isn't that awesome?"

"Really?" Arthur asked while crossing his arms over his chest and gripping the sides of his arms. For a moment he thought Alfred was going to hug him but he supposed that was too much to expect from the American. So Arthur looked up at the stairs that Alfred was so excited about. Arthur never watched the movie so he barely knew anything about it except that the training montage where Rocky ran up the stairs and started jumping was often referenced in movies and TV shows. "Do you want to run up the stairs?"

"Can we?" Alfred excitedly asked.

Arthur laughed. "Well, you can. I'll catch up with you."

Alfred hesitated for a second. He didn't want to leave the omega behind but he also wasn't sure when he would come back to the museum since he wasn't exactly an art enthusiast.

"It's okay, I don't mind," Arthur insisted.

"Okay, I'll meet you at the top," Alfred said with a sunny smile.

"Go get 'em, tiger," Arthur said, quoting some character from a superhero movie that Alfred made him watch during one of the heats they spent together. Arthur gave a wink but forgot that he was wearing sunglasses and that Alfred wouldn't be able to see it.

Alfred blushed a bit from what Arthur said but shrugged off the feeling. He hopped up and down a few times before he proceeded to run up the stairs. Arthur watched as the alpha went and couldn't help but admire the nice view of Alfred's rear.

Arthur took his time as he walked up the stairs, and not just because there were so many. Although he was happy to see Alfred, his hangover was killing him and he was starting to feel moody about Francis again. He was beginning to think it was a mistake to come.

When he got halfway up the stairs, he felt even more sure that he made a mistake. He was already very exhausted and there were still so many stairs left. It didn't help that Arthur only had a few hours of sleep thanks to Francis. It was tempting to just lie down on a step and so he could take a quick nap.

Arthur finally made it to the top of the stairs several minutes later.

Alfred gently placed his hand on Arthur's shoulder. "Are you okay?"

The omega flinched away from Alfred's touch. Feeling Alfred's hand on him made Arthur feel hot, but not in a sexual way. Or at least not completely in a sexual way. It gave him the sudden urge to be in full contact with the alpha. He yearned to feel Alfred's arms around him so deeply that it burned.

"Let's just get this over with," Arthur mumbled, doing his best to ignore how badly he wanted to touch and be touched by Alfred.

Alfred's face fell when Arthur jumped away from him and made that comment. Arthur's words really hurt him so Alfred was tempted to say something back like "you're not obligated to be here" or "why are you here then" or something along those lines.

Instead, he asked, "You don't wanna be here?"

Arthur was surprised by the question. He supposed he was acting a little moody.

"No... I'm just tired, that's all," Arthur said as he took off his glasses and placed them inside his purse. He omitted the reason why he was so tired or how he planned on staying at the museum for just a half hour. "Let's go."

The museum was huge, somehow even bigger than it appeared from the outside. There were so many things to see. Although Alfred wasn't exactly considered a very "cultured" guy, he did enjoy museums like this that had art that he could just look at. Even though he knew nothing about art, he knew what he liked when he saw it. He was very partial toward landscape paintings.

After walking around and looking at the art for a few minutes, Arthur's mood started to improve and seeing Alfred get so interested in the paintings made him smile. As they continued exploring the different collections, Arthur got excited over one particular painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Alfred stood beside Arthur to see what he had been looking at for the last few minutes. It was a very green painting. There was an omega with red stockings dancing with a well-dressed alpha in the middle of a crowd. Back then, it was easy to tell alphas and omegas apart simply by the way they dressed. In the foreground was another omega in a fancy pink dress wearing a very elaborate hat. Alfred glanced at the description card.

"At the Moulin Rouge, the dance, eighteen eighty-nine to eighteen ninety," Alfred read aloud. "Cool. I liked the movie Moulin Rouge."

"Really?" Arthur asked, turning to look at the alpha. "That's one of my favorite movies."

They never watched the movie together since it wasn't offered on Betaflix.

"We should watch it sometime. I have the DVD," Alfred offered.

"Perhaps," Arthur answered quietly. Naturally, he would really fancy watching the movie with Alfred but Arthur was really ruddy at following through with commitments even if they were his own suggestions. Especially now, with everything that was happening between them, he thought it was unwise to make a promise to Alfred that he wasn't sure he could keep.

Arthur could practically sense the disappointed look on the American's face but he focused on his phone instead. He turned off the flash before taking a picture of the painting. When he looked around himself, he noticed that Alfred had walked off so Arthur hurried after the alpha.

After checking out a few more exhibits, they came upon a promotional sign that said "Free Figure Drawing Session for Adults in 20th Century Omega Artist Gallery Starting at 2PM! Supplies are provided!"

"Wicked! I would love to give it a go," Arthur exclaimed after he read the sign. "Wait, what time is it?"

Alfred took his phone out of his pocket and checked the time. "Three thirty... maybe they're still doing it?"

"Hmm... It doesn't mention an end time. Well, that's bloody annoying," Arthur said under his breath. "Were you interested in doing this?"

Alfred had very little interest in drawing, except for the fact that the session was being offered for free, but there was no way he was going to tell Arthur that after how excited the Brit got.

So Alfred said, "Definitely. Let's check it out."

"Brilliant," Arthur exclaimed, too thrilled to completely hide his smile.

Alfred grinned from how happy Arthur seemed and started walking toward the gallery of twentieth-century omega artists. Fortunately, there were more signs that helped lead the way. They soon found the gallery which had a staff member blocking the entrance. The tall woman was bald, had a smooth dark complexion, and was leaning against a large cart of basic art supplies. She smiled when she noticed Alfred and Arthur peering behind her.

"Are you here for the figure drawing session?" she asked.

"Yeah. Is it still going on?" Arthur asked.

"Yes. It ends at four so there's still enough time to get a drawing done," she said.

"Excellent. Do we just get our own supplies?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah. You can keep your drawings at the end, naturally, but the rest of the supplies should be returned to the cart when you leave," she answered while stepping away from the cart. "Oh, wait. I don't know if you read this on the sign but this model usually does nude poses at three. And we also ran out of chairs so you'll have to stand unless you don't mind sitting on the floor."

"Righto," Arthur said before turning to Alfred to ask, "Is that going to be a problem?"

"Um, no?" Alfred said.

"Brilliant. Come on, Al," Arthur said, excitedly tugging on the alpha's arm as he led him to the cart.

They both took out a clipboard that was about twice the size of a normal sheet of paper. Each clipboard had several sheets of art paper as well as one sheet of newsprint clipped to it. There were small bins in the cart that held pencils, pencil sharpeners, broken bits of charcoal, erasers and dirty rubbery balls that looked like gum. They each took a pencil, an eraser, and a sharpener before going into the room.

There were about a dozen people in the large room. Paintings were on the walls except the one behind the platform that the model was lying on. The floor space in the middle of the room was free for people to stand or sit in. There were eight chairs but they were all taken. Everyone was facing the model who was lying on a sheet that completely covered platform. The model was resting in a curled position with their back facing the room. There were lights set up around the model to create dynamic shadows for people to draw.

"This is so bloody wicked," Arthur whispered to Alfred before practically running off to find a good spot to draw the model.

Alfred smiled as he followed behind the Brit.

They drew the model for about ten minutes. It was clear that the model was asleep from the way the model was breathing, which actually made it easier to draw. A few minutes before the session was over, the model slightly shifted and whispered out, "Mmm paaaasstaaaa."

What the model was incoherent to everyone but Alfred who snorted while failing to hold back a laugh.

"What?" Arthur asked.

"I'll tell you later," Alfred whispered while attempting to hold back another laugh.

Since the model moved in their sleep, the pose had changed a bit. Some people took this as their cue to leave while others remained to start a new drawing or continue working on the one they had. When the session finally ended, everyone was ushered out of the room while the model continued to sleep.

Arthur smiled as he looked down at his drawing. It wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. It might narrowly pass for a scribbly cartoon character.

"Can I see yours?" Arthur asked as he unclipped his drawing from the board.

"Pretty badass, huh?" Alfred said as he held up his drawing.

Arthur snorted. It was more like an elaborate stick drawing.

"Are those two circles supposed to be the model's bum?" Arthur asked with a giggle.

"Yep," Alfred said with a grin.

"What untapped potential," Arthur teased.

"Uh huh! And this," Alfred said while pointing to a zig-zag of lines, "Is his hair."

"His?" Arthur asked. The model had a slender and curvy body that was virtually hairless, with the exception of the model's luxurious hair that fell down mid-way over the neck. And although the model's back was turned toward everyone, it would have been a perfect view of the testicles if the model was a male — unless they had been pulled up between the model's thighs, of course.

Completely ignoring the omega's question, Alfred asked, "Let me see yours."

"No teasing. I actually tried with this," Arthur said as he showed Alfred the drawing.

"Not bad. It's actually pretty good," Alfred complimented. "You should definitely keep it."

"Well of course I'm keeping it. Aren't you keeping yours?" Arthur asked.

"Nope," Alfred said. Leaving the drawing attached to the clipboard, he placed it back in the cart. "This place is gonna close soon. We should probably head out."

"There's a sculpture garden outside that we can walk through... if you're interested," Arthur said.

"Cool. Sounds good to me," Alfred replied. He wasn't going to turn down a chance to spend more time with the omega, even if Arthur still reeked of the Frenchman.

 

Chapter Text

They went outside and walked through the sculpture garden that was behind the museum. There were a lot of sculptures that Alfred and Arthur didn't really like but enjoyed looking at nonetheless. As they kept walking, the sculpture garden ended up leading them to the Azalea Garden. There were oak and sycamore trees, and more types of azaleas than Arthur could count. Arthur loved it so much that he couldn't stop smiling. It was a beautiful place and the flowers created a romantic atmosphere. He was glad that he was experiencing this with Alfred.

Alfred noticed how happy Arthur was, of course. Even if he didn't keep glancing at the Englishman, he would have known that Arthur was happy from how sweet Arthur's scent became. It was so strong and alluring that it easily overpowered the Frenchman's scent. In fact, Alfred almost couldn't smell Francis' scent at all. Almost.

Still, Alfred loved seeing Arthur happy like this. He tried not to stare at Arthur while the omega was smiling but Arthur was so beautiful, especially when he smiled like this, so Alfred really couldn't stop himself from looking. Alfred actually felt happy too. The day turned out a lot better than he thought it would. He didn't expect Arthur to enjoy himself so much. It was worth any pain the Alfred felt from the nagging thought that reminded him that Arthur was still involved with another alpha.

They walked for a while longer until Arthur asked, "Do you want to get a bite to eat?"

"I'm so glad you asked," Alfred exclaimed as he rubbed his stomach. "I'm so hungry, I could eat a whole pizza."

"How is that different from usual?" Arthur joked.

"True," Alfred laughed. "Come on, let's go find something."

 


 

It took them a while to find a place to eat. In the end, Arthur suggested going to a sushi restaurant when he discovered that Alfred never had sushi before. Arthur ate sushi many times before so he knew how to use chopsticks. He also had an idea of which flavors of sushi the American would like most, so he ordered for himself and Alfred.

"Here you are," said a tall man with short brown hair that had locks of hair combed over to the side of his forehead. After he placed the food on the table, he adjusted his glasses before running a finger over his thin eyebrows. Then he adjusted his long black changshan and the side of his white pants before saying, "I am the new manager here and this is my first day. Please, if there is any trouble at all, feel free to let me know. I want to make sure that you have the most pleasant experience here."

"Cool. Thanks, dude," Alfred said with a grin.

The tall man bowed slightly before leaving Alfred and Arthur.

Arthur picked up the chopsticks by his plate while Alfred picked up a fork and stabbed one of the rolls before bringing it to his mouth.

"Why don't you try using the chopsticks?" Arthur asked while holding back a smile. He wasn't sure why the American's atrocious eating manners were so endearing.

"It looks really hard," Alfred said after eating a second roll.

"You'll get the hang of it. Come on, it'll be a new experience," Arthur gently encouraged.

Alfred hesitated before setting down the fork. Then he took the chopsticks on his side of the table and fumbled with them as he tried to hold the sticks between his fingers. Every time he went to get a sushi roll, the chopsticks dropped from his hand. Arthur had to stifle his laugh when he watched how awful Alfred was with using the chopsticks.

"I may have been wrong... Maybe you should just use a fork," Arthur teased with a small grin.

"I got this," Alfred said. Determined to eat just one roll of sushi, Alfred continued using the chopsticks but kept dropping them before he was able to lift the sushi from the plate. The best he managed was getting the roll to his lips before promptly dropping it on the plate again.

"At least you're making progress," Arthur said when he noticed the alpha was getting flustered.

"I guess," Alfred grumbled. He tried again but dropped both the sushi roll as well as the chopsticks. "How do you do this? You make it look so easy!"

"Here, let me show you," Arthur said as he reached over the table and took the chopsticks from the American. He held Alfred's palm in his hand with his fingers gingerly rested around Alfred's wrist. Then he slowly slid the chopsticks between Alfred's thumb and index finger. Arthur steadied his breath before saying, "So you use this finger to hold it here."

Arthur then moved his hand from Alfred's palm so he could gently nudge the back of Alfred's middle finger until Alfred was holding the sticks perfectly.

"There," Arthur said as he reluctantly pulled his hands away from Alfred. "Try it now."

Alfred's face was red from all the contact. He had to hold his breath the entire time to keep his feelings under control. He took in a deep breath to calm his racing heart, then he went to grab a sushi roll and miraculously was able to plop the roll in his mouth.

"You did it," Arthur cheered.

"Yeah," Alfred said after he finished eating the roll. "I'm glad we came here. The sushi is delicious."

Arthur grinned. He wasn't sure if Alfred would like sushi but he was glad that he got Alfred to try something new. It seemed like they were doing a lot of new things today. First the figure drawing, then the sushi.

Then Arthur remembered that he wanted to ask Alfred a question while they were drawing the model.

"So, why were you laughing earlier?" Arthur asked.

"When?" Alfred asked as he managed to pick up another roll of sushi with the chopsticks.

"When we were drawing that model," Arthur said.

Just as Alfred was about to get the sushi to his mouth, he dropped it when he started chuckling.

"Oh yeah," Alfred said with a grin. "I'm, like, a hundred percent sure that was my friend Feliciano. You know, the one who loves pasta? I mentioned him a few times before."

Arthur's raised his eyebrows in surprise. "You two are friends?"

"Yep," Alfred said with an even wider grin.

"Wow... That's... a bit surprising," Arthur muttered more to himself than to Alfred.

"Why do you say that?" Alfred asked.

"You didn't seem the least bit uncomfortable seeing your friend naked like that..." Arthur explained.

"Oh, that? I've seen him naked before," Alfred laughed.

"Oh really?" Arthur asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, it was crazy. He used to get naked every day for fiestas or pietas, or something, and just took a nap. And I mean he was still naked when he went to sleep. I caught him sleeping in the locker room once with no clothes on, and I mean no clothes at all."

"And it was just the two of you?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah, I was practicing late and I think everyone else left before he went to sleep."

"What happened after that?" Arthur asked. He was both compelled and uncomfortable to hear the whole story.

"Oh, man, it was crazy. I woke him up and he hugged me. The dude's totally naked and he freakin' hugs me!"

A thought crossed his mind that made Arthur feel tense but he quietly voiced the idea anyway. "Maybe he wanted you to make a move on him..."

"No way. He didn't even know who I was until I pulled away. Felic was so lucky I was the one to find him instead of someone else," Alfred said while shaking his head. "That kid always got into compromising situations before we became friends."

"It sounds like you were sort of his hero in a way," Arthur commented in a soft voice.

Alfred shrugged. "I guess so... But honestly, I couldn't have done anything even if he did want to have sex."

"Why not?"

"Man, I totally can't handle sudden advances like that. My brain gets, like, flooded with questions, like... 'What does this mean?' 'Are they interested in me or do they just want sex and I just happened to be here?' 'Will this just be a one-time thing or do they want a relationship?' You know, things like that."

Arthur was quiet for a moment before asking, "Is that another reason why you don't fancy casual sex?"

Alfred rubbed the back of his neck as he glanced away from the omega. "I guess so... Like in college some dude sent me a naked selfie. And sure he was hot but we weren't dating, you know? So I couldn't just go with it without knowing where it was going. The only thing I could bring myself to say was 'did you mean to send this to me bro?'"

"No, did you really? That would have killed the mood," Arthur exclaimed.

"Totally but the dude was, like, Mongolian so I was more worried that he was gonna kill me! I mean he was an omega and a lot shorter than me but that dude was freakishly strong," Alfred joked. "But yeah, I don't know. I think if he was actually into me then he would have said yes or something, you know? He would have done something to let me know that he was actually interested in me for real."

"Or maybe you made him nervous. Maybe he thought you weren't into him so he didn't say anything else," Arthur countered.

"So what? If he really liked me then he would have gotten over it," Alfred huffed. "Not to sound totally sappy but people should be willing to do whatever it takes for love, even if that means fighting for it. And I don't think that excludes omegas. Love is a two-way street, you know? Both people should be willing to fight for each other."

"That's true I suppose," Arthur murmured. "But how are you supposed to fight for love if you aren't in love yet?"

"I still think it's worth fighting for if you feel like there's something special between you and someone else, like if the person could be the one or something, then you should totally fight for them to give it a chance. Maybe you might not end up falling in love but maybe you will and maybe it'll be the best thing that happens to you," Alfred responded with such passion that he blushed when he stopped talking, realizing that he was indirectly referring to himself and Arthur.

Arthur frowned a bit as he stared down at the rolls of sushi. "What if this person who is 'the one' for you messes up and makes everything really complicated?"

Alfred wasn't sure if Arthur was talking about himself or asking for the sake of conversation. In case it was the former, he took a moment to think over his response.

"I think..." Alfred said slowly. "That it's never too late. If they're meant to be together then it will work out, unless one of them isn't brave enough to give it a try."

"What if one of them is seeing someone else?" Arthur gingerly asked.

"People break up," Alfred quickly answered with a shrug. Part of him was hoping that Arthur was referring to Francis but he couldn't get his hopes up. "But it would be the omega's job to pursue the alpha. There's this whole dating game where alphas are supposed to chase after omegas and that's fine I guess. But if the omega keeps running away, eventually it will be the omega's job to chase the alpha. Not just for sex either. The omega should be able to tell the alpha how they feel and ask if they can be together."

"So the alpha would just accept them just like that? The alpha would say yes even if it's years later?" Arthur asked meekly.

Alfred's heart clenched from the question. Their friendship would reach its two-year mark in ten months, not that Alfred was counting. Part of him felt that it was enough time for things to end between Arthur and the French alpha. It never occurred to him that it might last longer than that or that Arthur might want to continue having casual sex with people for years to come.

"Why would it take years?" Alfred asked.

"I don't know..." Arthur responded. "Would it change anything if it took a few years?"

Alfred inhaled deeply before saying, "No but..."

When Alfred didn't continue, Arthur asked, "But what?"

"I wouldn't feel, um, I... I mean I wouldn't think that the alpha would be able to stay hopeful for that long," Alfred said, ignoring how cold his body suddenly felt. "But if the omega asked to be in a relationship with the alpha then I know for a fact that the alpha would be really happy and would definitely say yes, even if it was years later."

"But only if the omega asks first?" Arthur questioned.

"Yes but only because the alpha probably already asked a few times and there's only so many times that an alpha, or anyone really, can handle being turned down... especially if the omega turns them down only to go off with some other alpha," Alfred explained. "Maybe it would be hard but the omega just has to be strong enough to accept their feelings and approach the alpha."

Part of Arthur thought Alfred was speaking hypothetically, especially since Alfred had never directly asked Arthur out before. It seemed unlikely that Alfred was the alpha in the examples. Still, another part of Arthur worried that Alfred was speaking about himself. If that was the case, then Alfred was never going to reach out to give Arthur another chance which would be a problem because Arthur rarely fought for anything he wanted. In fact, he rarely allowed himself to want anything that he couldn't immediately get. He didn't want to put himself in a situation that could cause him disappointment or pain.

Arthur frowned as he swallowed down the urge to cry. He wasn't sure if the omega Alfred was referring to was supposed to be him. If it was, then Arthur felt that Alfred was expecting too much of him.

"But the alpha knows how the omega feels so why can't the alpha keep asking until the omega says yes? I mean, if he really loves the omega then why would the alpha back off?" Arthur asked.

"Did the omega tell the alpha that he loved him?" Alfred asked, fully aware of how transparent his hypothetical characters must have been at this point. When Arthur didn't say anything, Alfred said, "If the omega never clearly voiced his feelings out loud then there's no way for the alpha to confidently know how the omega feels about him. Maybe he just thinks the omega wants him for sex and nothing else. Or maybe he's worried that the omega just wants a friends with benefits thing."

"Sure, okay — but what if the omega is scared to be in a serious relationship, especially with someone he really fancies," Arthur pointed out.

"Isn't overcoming his fear worth the chance of being in a really happy and great relationship with someone he might end up in love with?" Alfred asked.

"I don't know..." Arthur said. "He's never been in love before... how is he supposed to know what he's missing out on? Maybe he's not missing anything more than an inevitable heartbreak? Maybe it's wiser and safer for him to just let the alpha leave his life."

"I'm not leav—"

"Hello," said the man who brought them their food earlier. His golden eyes were filled with worry as he nervously held his changshan by the split. "Sorry, I noticed that you two haven't been eating the sushi so I just wanted to make sure that everything is okay with your order."

"No, it's perfect," Arthur said as he rubbed the tears from the corners of his eyes.

"Are you sure?" asked the golden-eyed man.

"Yes. You can go now," Alfred said, lacking his usual friendliness. Once the server was gone, Alfred turned to continue what he was saying but Arthur spoke first.

"It's been a long day. I think I should probably get going," Arthur quickly said.

"Are you sure? We aren't even done eating," Alfred said. They only ate a third of their meal.

"It's fine. You can take it with you if you want. I'm not really in the mood to eat anymore," Arthur muttered.

"Oh... okay," Alfred said.

Arthur didn't say anything else. They both paid for their own meal and Alfred packed Arthur's sushi in his container since the omega insisted that he wouldn't eat it later. When they got outside, Alfred offered to give Arthur a ride home.

"I don't need a ride but thanks," Arthur said. He really needed to be alone right now. "Thanks for today."

"No problem," Alfred said. "I'll see you later."

Arthur started walking away when he suddenly turned around and ran back to Alfred to give the alpha a tight hug. Then he let go just as quickly and started walking away again, leaving Alfred in a daze. Arthur never saw the confused and worried expression on Alfred's face or the blush on his cheeks.

 


 

Arthur wasn't home for more than fifteen minutes before Francis came knocking at the door. When Francis didn't go away after a few minutes, Arthur groaned and went to let the Frenchman in. Francis had a new bouquet of roses in his hands and a smile on his face.

"Bonjour, mon cher," Francis greeted. "I brought zese for you."

"Didn't we talk about this? I told you not to come by unannounced," Arthur snapped.

"But nothing is better zan surprises," Francis said with a toothy grin.

"We talked about that too. I don't like surprises," Arthur said sternly as he walked away from the alpha.

It was then that Francis noticed the drawing that was on the couch.

"What is zis?" Francis said as he picked up the drawing.

"Leave it," Arthur said as he took the drawing from Francis.

"Did you do this with zat friend of yours?" Francis asked.

"That's none of your business," Arthur answered.

"I would have liked to do something like zat. You know how much I love ze human body," Francis said with a small frown. "And it would have been nice to meet zis friend of yours. Ze three of us could have gone together. And, who knows, maybe we could have had a little fun afterwards."

Arthur sighed as he rubbed his temples. He always seemed to get a headache whenever he was around the Frenchman.

"Look, I need to be alone. Can you go?" Arthur asked.

"But I just got here," Francis said with a pout. "Are you sure you do not want to cuddle or something?"

Arthur picked up the bouquet of roses and handed it to the alpha. "Go."

Francis turned to leave but stopped. He looked back at Arthur and asked, "Would you ask me to leave if I was him?"

The question caused tears to sting at Arthur's eyes. He didn't offer any sort of answer before shutting the door.

Chapter Text

Arthur arrived a little late to lunch on Monday because he fell asleep at work. He had spent all night trying to air Francis' scent out of his flat. The scent never went away though so Arthur lit several calming candles to fill his room with the smell of something pleasant. Fortunately, the candles helped but he still wasn't able to fall asleep until after midnight.

He instantly felt more energized when he saw Alfred sitting at their table.

"Hiya," Arthur greeted as he sat down.

"Hey," Alfred said with a grin.

"You seem happier than usual," Arthur noted.

"My birthday is on Saturday," Alfred happily stated.

"Ah, that explains it," Arthur said with a smirk. "Do you have any plans? Do you intend to turn the weekend into a birthday holiday?"

"Oh, that's a great idea," Alfred exclaimed. "Well, this is the first time in years that my birthday is gonna be on a Saturday, which is super cool because there's always fireworks on my birthday but I never get the chance to see them. So I'm gonna go to the Delaware River Waterfront to watch them."

"That sounds nice," Arthur said. He wasn't a fan of fireworks but he wasn't surprised that it was something that Alfred fancied.

"Yeah..." Alfred said while he tapped his foot against the ground as he debated whether he should ask the question that was on his mind. Although he was sure it was a bad idea, he decided to ask, "Do you wanna come?"

"Sorry?" Arthur asked in surprise. He wasn't sure if he heard Alfred correctly.

"My friends Feliciano and Ludwig are gonna be there. I think you would really like them," Alfred said.

"Feliciano is the model, right?" Arthur asked.

Alfred nodded. "Yep!"

"Sure," Arthur answered with a smile. Normally he wouldn't agree but he was now curious about the sort of friends Alfred had. For some reason he always imagined them to be dimwitted jocks, although Arthur wasn't sure where he got that notion from.

"Awesome," Alfred cheered.

Arthur blushed from how excited Alfred was and nervously hoped that he wasn't making a mistake.

 


 

Alfred was in high spirits as the week went on, which caused Arthur to be in high spirits too. When Alfred got to lunch on Friday, he started walking toward the table he and Arthur usually sat at but found Yao and Ivan sitting there instead. Alfred glanced around the cafeteria and saw Arthur at another table that was a couple of tables away from their usual one.

As Alfred approached Arthur, he was surprised to find Arthur in a slightly gloomy mood. The omega's scent was a little dull and he didn't smile like he usually did when Alfred sat down.

"Hey, what's up? Is everything okay?" Alfred asked.

Arthur opened his mouth to speak then closed it. He bit his lip before saying, "Those blokes are at our table."

"Oh, that? Well, what can we do? Someone was bound to sit there before us eventually," Alfred chuckled as he turned around to look at Ivan and Yao. The two alphas were sitting side by side and sharing each other's lunch. They were laughing and smiling in the subtle way of theirs. "They look so happy. I'm glad to see that everything is working out for them."

"Who are they?" Arthur asked as he looked at the two blokes at the table.

"Remember the two alphas I told you about in May?" Alfred asked.

Arthur's eyes widened slightly. "Is the tall one the bloke that gave you a, that you, that..."

As much as Arthur tried, he couldn't get the words out. They just kept getting stuck in his throat.

"Yeah," Alfred reluctantly answered, wishing he didn't say anything about the alphas.

Arthur was quiet for a long moment before asking, "Would it be okay if Francis came with me tomorrow?"

"Wait, what?" Alfred asked.

"To your birthday..." Arthur clarified. It was the question he had originally wanted to ask when Alfred first sat down.

Arthur cringed from how upset Alfred seemed. He knew it was a rubbish idea but Francis had somehow ended up sleeping at his flat every night that week and each night the alpha asked questions about Alfred. Francis was convinced that Arthur and Alfred were lovers and wouldn't believe anything Arthur said, which was really putting a damper on the casualness that Arthur expected to get from Francis.

Besides, the last thing Arthur needed was a constant reminder that he and Alfred were nothing more than platonic friends, so he wanted Francis to meet Alfred so the Frenchman would stop bringing up the American. There were only so many more times that Arthur could handle hearing Francis suggest that the three of them have sex.

"Are you serious?" Alfred asked as his scent became bitter from the thought of having to be around Francis.

Arthur averted his eyes and remained silent. Alfred frowned as he looked at Arthur. The fact that Arthur wanted to bring Francis with him could only mean one thing — that whatever was going on between Arthur and the Frenchman was becoming more serious. That thought made Alfred's body tense up as he dug his nails into his palms.

"I guess you really want him to be there?" Alfred choked out. Arthur didn't say anything and Alfred was sure that it was because the omega didn't want to hurt his feelings. Alfred really wanted to tell Arthur no but he didn't know how, so reluctantly he said, "The fireworks will be at nine."

"So you're okay with Francis being there?" Arthur asked.

Alfred cringed but tried to smile anyway.

"Brilliant, we'll see you there," Arthur said. Despite how steady his voice sounded, his scent suddenly became very faint.

 


 

It was half-past eight the next day when Arthur and Francis made it to the waterfront. The fourth of July was a busy day, as it was every year. There were people everywhere. Arthur never went out to celebrate it, so it felt weird being outside in all the commotion for once. But it was Alfred's twenty-second birthday and the alpha seemed awfully seeing about the fireworks so Arthur really wanted to be there with Alfred.

Since it was dark and crowded, it took over twenty minutes for them to find the American. Arthur spotted him talking to a couple that Arthur presumed to be Alfred's friends. There was a blond standing to Alfred's left who was holding a young girl in his arms, and to Alfred's right was a brunette who was also holding a young girl. They were all standing on the edge of a large tarp that was stretched out on the ground.

Arthur's heart pounded when Alfred turned and made eye contact with him. At first, Alfred smiled because that was always his initial reaction whenever he saw Arthur. Then Alfred's smile instantly faded away and Arthur knew it was because of Francis. Arthur mentally kicked himself for asking to bring the Frenchman along.

"Hey," Alfred greeted while only looking at Arthur.

"Hi, Al," Arthur said with a slightly insecure smile. He reached his arms out and was about to hug Alfred but stopped himself at the last second when Francis forced out a cough. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks..." Alfred said, sounding a little sad. He had stretched his arms out when he thought Arthur was going to hug him. Feeling awkward and foolish, he just lifted his arms higher and rested both his hands on the top of his head for a moment.

"Bonjour," Francis blustered. He stuck his hand out for Alfred to shake but the American simply looked at him with narrowed eyes while keeping his hands on his head.

"Well," Alfred said as he patted his friends on the back. "These are my friends Feliciano and Ludwig."

Being only five foot seven, Feliciano was shorter than anyone there. She had beautiful brown hair that perfectly framed her face. She was wearing a white blouse that had blue flowers all over it. Since she had such a dainty frame for a biological male omega, shirts like this looked very flattering on her. It was hard to tell that she was ever pregnant since she was so slim. She was holding a young four-year-old girl in her arms who was wearing a dark green dress that matched Ludwig's outfit.

Ludwig was a pale muscular man who towered at five foot eleven. His light blond hair was slicked back and there wasn't a single strand of hair that fell out of place. The German's eyes were a slightly lighter shade of blue than Alfred's eyes. Like Alfred, Ludwig was wearing cargo shorts, except his shorts were longer and they were a moss green. He also wore a grayish-green shirt and a large military backpack. In his arms was a young four-year-old girl who was wearing blue shorts and a shirt that matched Feliciano's flowery blouse.

"And these are our girls, Rose," Feliciano said, lightly lifting up the girl in his arms, "And Mary!"

The girl in Ludwig's arms smiled shyly before she hid her face in her papa's shirt.

Rose was born one minute and four seconds before Mary, so she was the older twin. She took a lot after their papa Ludwig. Meanwhile, Mary mostly took after their mamma. Although they were twins, Rose had blue eyes like Ludwig and Mary had brown eyes like Feliciano. Everything else about them was almost identical. They were both slim girls with alabaster skin. Their hair was brown with natural blond streaks, although Mary's hair was notably blonder than Rose's hair. They were both very tall for their age, as tall as most six-year-olds were even though they were only four.

"Twins?" Arthur uttered, vaguely remembering Alfred referring to his friends with twins once before. He never knew their names though.

Ludwig nodded. He had a tiny smile on his face but those who knew him best knew that he was practically beaming right now.

"I didn't know zere would be children here," Francis whispered to Arthur with a frown. "How long do we have to stay at zis zing?"

"It's so lovely to meet them," Arthur exclaimed while ignoring the Frenchman.

"They're the best girls in the world," Alfred said with a huge grin as he patted both girls on the head. The girls giggled when he did this which made Arthur smile.

Arthur suspected that Arthur would be great with children but actually seeing Alfred interact so well with the kids gave the Englishman butterflies in his stomach.

Although Alfred didn't notice the omega staring at him, Feliciano certainly did. The Italian gave Arthur a knowing smile.

"Ja, we are lucky," Ludwig said, then turned his attention to Arthur and Francis. "I don't think we got your names yet."

"I'm Arthur, and this is," Arthur answered and was about to introduce Francis when he was cut off.

"Arthur? Der Arthur?" Ludwig asked, surprised.

While still holding Rose, Feliciano walked up to Arthur and gave him a side hug. "It's nice to finally meet you! Alfred has told us all about you."

Arthur blushed deeply as he shot a glance at the American. He didn't know that Alfred spoke about him to anyone. From the way the two were acting, it seemed like Alfred only had nice things to say.

"Hallo," Rose greeted as she reached her hand out.

Arthur chuckled and gently shook the little girl's hand. "Hello to you."

"Ciao," Mary said softly as she reached her hand out too.

Arthur walked to the other girl and shook her hand and was surprised by how powerful Mary's grip was.

"Wow, she's very strong," Arthur exclaimed.

Ludwig grinned proudly. "I know. They both are."

"I'm Francis by the way," the Frenchman said.

"You got here just in time. The fireworks should be starting any minute," Ludwig remarked, completely ignoring Francis.

"I'm Arthur's boyfr—," Francis continued until he was cut off by the Brit.

"He's my friend," Arthur quickly corrected.

"That's right," Feliciano said to Ludwig, ignoring Francis and Arthur. "Va bene, bambini! It's time to put on your earmuffs."

Feliciano handed Rose to Alfred who gladly held her, and then she went behind her husband to unzip the backpack.

"Amore, I can't reach," Feliciano said as she tried to unzip the backpack.

Ludwig squatted down until Feliciano was able to open the backpack. The Italian pulled out two noise reduction ear muffs and put one over Mary's ears before kissing her on the cheek.

Mary placed her hands over the soft fuzzy earmuffs and said, "Grazie, Mamma!"

Alfred, who was still holding Rose, walked over to Feliciano so the omega could put the other earmuff on Rose's ears. Feliciano kissed her on the nose after her ears were safely covered.

"Danke, Mama. Are you und Papa wearing one?" Rose asked.

"We don't need to, caro," Feliciano said before nuzzling her nose against Rose's nose. Then she went back to Ludwig to close the backpack before taking Rose back into her arms.

"This is a great spot," Arthur commented while looking down at the tarp that was on the grass. It was easily large enough for them all to sit on. Meanwhile, everyone else around them was packed like sardines. On the tarp was a bag with mostly empty juice boxes, sandwich bags, and snack bags that were all next to one large tote bag.

"Yeah, we got here hours ago to celebrate Al's birthday," Ludwig said while giving Alfred a hardy pat on the back.

"Oh... I didn't know that," Arthur quietly said with a slight frown on his face.

Ludwig went to Feliciano and kissed her gently on the lips. "Why don't you sit, meine liebe?"

Feliciano smiled and gave Ludwig another kiss. "That's a good idea."

The Italian was tired from all the walking they did that day, which Ludwig was able to tell by the way his mate was standing. The short brunette gently set Rose down before she sat on the tarp. Rose sat down beside Feliciano and rested her head on Feliciano's arm.

Arthur and Francis sat down toward the back of the tarp. Francis leaned in to kiss Arthur on the lips but the Brit turned his face away.

"Not now," Arthur said firmly to the Frenchman.

Francis continued kissing at Arthur, kissing his cheek then down his neck until Arthur pushed him away. When Francis tried to kiss Arthur again, Arthur scooted forward until he was sitting next to Feliciano. Francis mumbled a few curses in French under his breath as he took out his phone to keep himself entertained.

Ludwig was still standing, except now Mary was sitting on his shoulders. Alfred, who had been standing by Ludwig, walked on the tarp and stooped down in front of Feliciano and Arthur.

"Do you want a piggyback ride?" Alfred asked with a grin.

"Ja!" Rose excitedly exclaimed.

Alfred swooped Rose into his arms and lifted her up on his shoulders. Then he went to stand beside Ludwig so the girls could be beside each other. Mary giggled at Rose, and Rose smiled back at her sister.

"He's such a wonderful alpha," Feliciano said happily.

"I know," Arthur said automatically before realizing that Feliciano must have been talking about her husband.

Feliciano turned and gave Arthur a knowing look.

"There are only a few things I love more than pasta, and they're all right there in front of me. Ludwig and my girls are the loves of my life," Feliciano said loud enough that Ludwig might have heard. Then she leaned in and spoke lower so only Arthur could hear, "What do you love more than books?"

Arthur was at a loss of words. He was about to answer when the fireworks started sizzling into the sky and exploding into a burst of vibrant colors. Rose started clapping excitedly while Mary reached her arms in the air as if to grab the fireworks.

The fireworks lasted for nearly an hour. Alfred's back was sore by the time they ended. Feliciano stood up and gently took Rose off Alfred's back and carried the young girl in her arms.

"You're so great, Alfred. You'll find yourself a great omega in no time," Feliciano said while glancing over to Arthur. "Trust me."

Arthur furrowed his eyes, unsure of what the Italian was hinting at. Perhaps it was meant to imply that Alfred would find someone soon... Arthur didn't want to entertain that thought.

"I hope you're right," Alfred said under his breath but Arthur still heard him. The American started to rub his back and stretch out his arms. "I don't know how you do it, Lud. I guess I must be out of shape."

Ludwig let out a laugh. "Having children get you into shape. You'll see when you start having children of your own."

Feliciano noticed that both of the girls were yawning and drifting in and out of sleep, so she said, "We should get going. It's a little too late for the young ones."

"We should get going," Feliciano said when she noticed that both girls were yawning and drifting in and out of sleep. "It's a little too late for the young ones."

"Ja, well, it was nice meeting you, Arthur," Ludwig said as he patted Arthur on the shoulder.

Feliciano gave Arthur another side hug. "We hope to see you again the next time Alfred invites us out," she said with a smile.

Arthur smiled back. "Thanks. It was nice meeting you all too."

While Feliciano and Ludwig were speaking to Arthur, Alfred was folding up the tarp. He placed everything on top of it inside the tote bag, then he folded the tarp before putting it inside Ludwig's backpack.

"Danke," Ludwig thanked Alfred as he took the bag from the American. "Good night."

"Addio," Feliciano said while leaning against Ludwig. "Thank you for inviting us here, Alfie. I hope you enjoy the rest of your birthday."

"Ja. No stressing, huh?" Ludwig said while shooting a glare toward Francis. 

"Thanks, guys," Alfred said as he hugged them. "I'll call you guys later. Good night!"

It wasn't long before Ludwig, Feliciano, and the twins were completely out of sight. Arthur stood beside Alfred and said, "Your friends are very nice."

"They are," Alfred agreed. "They really liked you."

"Really?" Arthur asked. He was blushing pretty hard but it was too dark for anyone to notice.

"Oui, oui, what is not to like. But we must go now. Merci et au revoir," Francis said before Alfred could say anything else. He then grabbed Arthur's hand and started pulling Arthur as he walked away from the American.

"Hey," Arthur practically growled as he tried to yank his hand free.

Alfred narrowed his eyes and started to follow them. "Arthur, are you okay? Should I do somet —"

Smelling the anger off Alfred's scent, Arthur decided to lie so he wouldn't ruin Alfred's birthday. With a smile, he interrupted Alfred and said, "No, it's fine. Thanks for letting us come. Happy birthday, Al."

Since Francis was still pulling Arthur along, Arthur turned around so he could walk normally. After walking several steps, he looked back at Alfred. He couldn't see Alfred's face anymore but he did see Alfred raise his hand up in the air to wave at him. Arthur closed the fingers of his free hand into a loose fist as he hesitated to wave back. 

At the last second, Arthur lifted his arm up and gave Alfred a small wave goodbye. 

 

Chapter Text

Arthur was rubbing his temples while Francis kept shouting. They had been arguing all the way back to his flat. Francis was furious that they spent all evening with Alfred for the American's birthday. He kept referring to Alfred as Arthur's ex and he got upset every time Arthur explained that Alfred wasn't his ex-boyfriend, ex-lover, or ex-anything.

The omega went into the kitchen and pulled out his tea canisters until he got the empty one that only held the golden ribbon inside.

"We have been through this before," Arthur stated as he reached inside the canister. Something about touching the ribbon made Arthur feel safe, so he rubbed the ribbon between his fingers. "We're just friends. We have always just been friends."

"Zat is ze bull shit. You must zink I am some fool if you zink I would believe zat," Francis yelled. "I was right next to you. I could smell how badly you wanted him!"

Beyond frustrated now, Arthur shouted, "Blimey! We were in a huge bleeding crowd of sweaty people! You don't know who or what you smelled!"

"I am sick of zis. I am sick of you spending time with him and lying to me. You act like I know nothing," Francis practically howled. "But I remember. I remember seeing him at ze bar zat day and how his scent was all over you. As furious as he had been, you expect me to believe zat he was never your lover?"

Arthur narrowed his eyes. The night Francis approached him at the bar, Francis never asked if he had a mate. What Francis did was brazenly kiss him while Arthur was on the verge of getting drunk. Although Arthur wasn't in heat, he was still feeling a little aroused from the hormones that were still in his system as well as all the alcohol he already drank. He let the alpha kiss him, and when Francis wanted to do more, Arthur let the alpha fuck him.

Francis wasn't deterred when Alfred arrived that night. He didn't ask if Alfred was his boyfriend. In fact, Francis didn't ask him any questions at all. The Frenchman had no problem fucking Arthur again that night and all the nights that came to follow.

"You didn't ask if he was my boyfriend then," Arthur retaliated while wrapping the ribbon around his fingers. "Why does it matter so bloody much to you now?"

"So you admit it!" Francis exclaimed.

"How many times do I have to tell you this? Alfred is just my friend. We're barely even that anymore!" Arthur yelled with tears bubbling in the corner of his eyes.

Francis was fuming now. "I know you zink about him all ze time!"

"Bloody hell, Francis! You're the one I'm shagging! What more do you fucking want?"

"Ze truth! I cannot take all zese secrets!" Francis stomped his way into the kitchen and knocked down the canisters on the counter. He grabbed Arthur's hand and pulled the ribbon off. "And zis! What is zis? You're always touching zis zing. Did he give zis to you?"

"Give it back!" Arthur shouted as he pulled the ribbon out of Francis' hand and put it back in the canister.

Francis started to snatch it back but Arthur put it back in the cabinet behind the rest of the canisters.

"How do you zink it makes me feel that you cannot share zese zings with me? I say I am okay with sharing you, zat you can have sex with him, with anyone, as long as you tell me," Francis shouted with tears welling in his eyes, "But you still keep hiding everyzing from me!"

Arthur looked away from him and said nothing.

Francis grabbed Arthur by the arm and forced the omega to face him. "Do you not fantasize about kissing him? About having him inside you? Why can you not say it? After everyzing we have done together, why?"

"Stop, you're hurting me," Arthur bellowed. He stepped back in an attempt to free his arm. "Let go of me!"

Arthur started hitting Francis' arm until the alpha let go.

"See? You cannot tell me anyzing because I am right! He is not just your friend," Francis said in a slightly defeated voice.

"Shut up!" Arthur yelled. He ran into his bedroom and slammed the door behind him.

Francis followed him and forced open the door. He didn't understand why this was so difficult for Arthur. There should be nothing easier in the world than talking about love and romance. He didn't think he was asking for so much.

"Zer is nothing easier in ze world zan talking about amour, so please just tell ze truth. Everyzing will be better for us both if you do," Francis' insisted. "You love him, oui?"

"We're nothing, he's just a friend," Arthur cried. The omega slumped onto his bed and started crying into his hands.

Arthur's cries snapped Francis out of his rage. He ran over to the omega and kneeled down in front of him. He tried to caress Arthur's cheek but Arthur turned his face away.

"Do not cry, mon amour," Francis cooed in a kinder voice. He kissed both of Arthur's knees and looked up at the omega. "I went too far... I am sorry. I just wish you would be honest with me."

Arthur wiped his eyes but the tears kept coming.

Francis patted Arthur's hair while kissing his cheek. He kept kissing Arthur's cheeks until Arthur stopped turning away from him. Then he pressed a kiss against the omega's lips. As he started to deepen it, Arthur started weeping into the kiss.

"Please stop crying," Francis pleaded. He kissed all along Arthur's neck and kept kissing there but Arthur wouldn't stop crying.

Francis' stubbly beard scratched against Arthur's face as the Frenchman kept kissing him and it just reminded Arthur that the alpha wasn't Alfred. Arthur pushed Francis away to get the alpha to stop kissing him but Francis simply started kissing down Arthur's shirt instead. Arthur could barely handle fighting off Francis in addition to fighting off his tears but he managed to push Francis away until the alpha fell on the floor.

Francis pulled off Arthur's sandals before he brought one of Arthur's feet up and started planting kisses over the omega's toes. When he licked one of the toes, Arthur immediately pulled his foot away but Francis held it firmer and continued kissing all over Arthur's foot until he made his way up Arthur's leg. Then he kept kissing up until he reached Arthur's waist. Arthur was still crying but he didn't stop Francis as the Frenchman gently tugged down his shorts.

Once the shorts were off, Francis pulled off the omega's panties. Arthur's cock was limp. Francis bowed his head down and started kissing all over Arthur's cock but the Brit continued to cry. Francis took Arthur's cock into his mouth and gently started sucking it. He sucked and sucked but Arthur didn't get hard.

Francis took the cock out of his mouth so he could say, "Come on, stop crying. Everyzing is okay."

Arthur didn't stop crying, so Francis bowed his head down and brought Arthur's cock back in his mouth. He expertly rolled his tongue over the omega's cock while he bobbed his head and fondled Arthur's prostate.

After minutes of this, Arthur's cock was still soft but his cries started to turn into tiny moans until he stopped crying entirely. Francis continued sucking on Arthur's cock in an attempt to stir on an erection.

Arthur leaned backward until he was lying on his back and this gave Francis better access, so he was able to slide one of his hand underneath Arthur to stick a finger inside the omega's hole. It was dry and tight so Francis couldn't easily push his finger through, so he went back to fondling Arthur's sack while sucking over Arthur's flaccid cock.

Francis hated when this happened. It happened often when Arthur wasn't in heat and it was easy to get frustrated about it. Instead of giving up, Francis focused on the few moans Arthur made for some encouragement to continue. He sucked Arthur's cock harder and faster, practically inhaling it.

Arthur stared at the ceiling with blurry eyes as Francis made an effort to pleasure him. The Brit tried to enjoy it but simply couldn't.

After a long while, Arthur's cock only got a little hard so Francis stopped sucking it. He got up and took off all his clothes before asking, "Turn around, mon amour."

Arthur didn't move. He just continued staring blankly at the ceiling, so Francis gently flipped Arthur over. He kissed down Arthur's back and kissed over his asscheeks.

"I am going to make love to you," Francis murmured.

"No," Arthur said.

"What?" Francis asked.

Arthur took in a slow deep breath but didn't say anything for a moment. Then he simply said, "Fine, get a condom."

Francis frowned a bit. "We are only seeing each other, are we not? Can I please feel you just once without it? You know how much I hate wearing zose zings."

"Either get one or get out," Arthur mumbled.

Francis went to where he knew Arthur stored his condoms and put one on. Then he mounted the omega and gently pushed his cock inside. As Arthur felt the cock fill him, he kept seeing Alfred's face from earlier that evening. He closed his eyes to block it out but it only made Alfred's face even more vivid. It made him want to cry again at first but when he felt Francis' cock thrust inside him again, Arthur imagined for just a second that it was Alfred fucking him. At that moment his cock started getting hard and the walls of his ass tightened around Francis' cock.

"C'est bon! You're excité now, huh?" Francis cooed.

Arthur moaned in response, very nearly moaning out Alfred's name. Francis quickened his pace and Arthur moaned louder.

"Oh oui," Francis moaned. "Say my name, mon cher."

Arthur moaned but he didn't say Francis' name.

"Just once, s'il vous plaît," Francis pleaded. He often asked Arthur to say his name but Arthur never did. "Please, Arthur. I am about to reach my end!"

Then Francis orgasmed. The moment he saw Francis' face after the Frenchman pulled out, Arthur started to lose his erection.

"No, no! Let us hurry, we can get it back before it goes away," Francis playfully said but the disappointment and small frown on Arthur's face didn't disappear.

The alpha leaned his head down to suck Arthur off. Arthur was going to stop him but then the alpha's warm mouth engulfed his cock. As he watched Francis bob his head while he sucked his cock, all he saw was the alpha's hair. He ran his fingers through the blond hair and he couldn't help but imagine that it was the blond American who was doing this to him.

His cock jumped from the idea of it, which made Francis suck harder until Arthur's cock was nice and firm again. Arthur tried to focus on the Frenchman but his thoughts kept drifting back to Alfred every time he felt any wave of pleasure.

Giving in, Arthur closed his eyes and allowed himself to imagine that Alfred's mouth around his cock. A shiver ran through him at the thought and he softly started to hump against the alpha's face. As Arthur felt the alpha's tongue roll against his erection, his hips started bucking until he was fucking his hard cock inside the alpha's mouth. The alpha kept up with the movement of Arthur's hips and continued sucking the omega's erection until Arthur's balls tightened and his cock pulsed. Arthur silently cried out as he ejaculated inside the alpha's mouth.

Opening his eyes, Arthur was surprised for a second to see Francis there instead of Alfred. He frowned as Francis got comfortable beside him as if he was getting ready to go to sleep. Arthur wanted him to leave but he also couldn't bring himself to kick Francis out, he was simply too tired to deal with the drama it would bring. So Arthur tried to get comfortable and attempted to get some sleep.

 


 

Arthur woke up several times that night. Each time he had the urge to wake up Francis and tell him to get out the flat. Instead, he went back to sleep and hoped the next time he woke up would be after dawn.

Eventually, he woke up at eight o'clock. He saw Francis sleeping beside him. Arthur couldn't bear the thought of Francis spending any more nights with him.

He waited patiently until the alpha woke up on his own.

"Good morning", Francis said an hour later. He moved to kiss Arthur but Arthur stopped him.

"I want you to leave," Arthur said.

Francis sat up and gave him a hard look. "What?"

"I want you to leave," Arthur repeated in a stronger voice.

"Why?" Francis asked.

Arthur looked back at him. "I'm done. Whatever this thing is between us is over."

"You are not zinking straight, amour. Maybe it is PHS. You know omegas get zat before zeir heat."

"Oh, I'm thinking clearly. And not that it matters but my heat isn't for another two weeks," Arthur stated. Then, in a sterner voice, he added, "I want you to go. Now."

Francis shook his head. "You are breaking up with me? Just like zat?"

"Breaking up with you?" Arthur asked incredulously. "We were never together."

"Never together? How could you say zat?" Francis asked in dismay.

"Because we weren't. You weren't anything more to me than an easy shag."

Francis stood up and spat at Arthur. "Damn you, pute! You are so blind! Love is lost on you!"

"I'm blind? You're the blind one if you thought I had any feelings for you," Arthur yelled. "It's not my bloody fault if you thought I wanted anything more from you than a shag. Now piss the bloody hell off!"

Francis got dressed and stormed out of the bedroom. "I was wrong about you," Francis said once he was by the front door. "I zought you were different, zat you were special. But there is nothing, you are empty inside! You have nothing to offer to anyone!"

Arthur didn't respond. All he did was open the door. Francis huffed as he walked past Arthur. The alpha had barely walked out when Arthur slammed the door.

With a groan, Arthur rubbed his hand over his face and winced when he realized his hands smelled like Francis. When he moved his hands away, Francis was still all he could smell. The Frenchman was everywhere.

The Brit promptly went to the loo to wash his face. He washed it for minutes and even used soap, but it didn't help. He couldn't get rid of the smell. Arthur took a long shower to get the smell off his body, but he still smelled Francis' scent because the whole flat reeked of the Frenchman. It was as if the alpha's scent penetrated all the walls.

"Sod," Arthur groaned, exasperated. He was going to have to spend all day getting rid of the Frenchman's scent.

 

Chapter Text

After closing the door on Francis, Arthur went back to his bedroom and pushed the curtains aside. As he did this, he accidentally knocked over the array of candles and crystals that was sitting on the sill.

"Sod," Arthur grumbled as he stepped over the enchanted objects so he could pull up the blinds and open the two windows. Then he went to open the rest of the windows in his flat. Once he was done, he went to the loo and took a long shower in a distressed attempt to wash Francis' scent off him.

By the time Arthur was done, Francis' scent wasn't as strong as it had been, which made Arthur calm down a little. He got dressed before changing the sheets and pillowcases on his bed. When that was done, he lied down and stared up at the ceiling. There were so many feelings swirling around in his head that he could barely think. Usually, he would just focus on blocking out his emotions but this time he had a different idea.

Getting up, he went into the living room to grab a notebook from one of his bookcases. He sat down on the couch and pulled the pen that was tucked in the spiral binding. He leaned back against the couch and stared at the empty lined page as he tried to sort his emotions and thoughts.

The first thing he wrote was Alfred's name. He tapped his pen against the page for a minute as he stared down at what he wrote. Then he wrote the word "friends" with a question mark beside it. Of course, they were friends now but Arthur knew he wouldn't be okay with being friends with the American forever. If Alfred ever started dating someone, it would destroy Arthur, which meant that they were not simply friends.

Arthur brought the pen up to his mouth and lightly tapped it against his lips as he stared down at the mostly empty page. He tried to imagine how things would go if they were already friends for over two years and wondered if he would be happy in a relationship with Alfred.

The answer to that question was simple. Arthur would certainly be happy with Alfred, so much so that it would probably scare him.

Arthur brought the pen back down on the page and just wrote the first full thought that came to mind. His hand lightly shook as he read over the words he just wrote.

I don't know what he sees in me.

Seeing the words made him feel uncomfortable but it also made him feel lighter to admit it to himself so he continued writing. Sometimes he would pause after writing a couple of words. Every so often he stopped at the end of a sentence to reread what he had written a few times before continuing. Soon he was writing nonstop until he filled both sides of four pages. He took in a deep breath and reread everything he wrote.

It felt good to write everything down. His mind felt clearer somehow.

Then got a text message. Arthur went to where he heard his phone buzzed and picked it up. He smiled when he saw that he had a text from Alfred.

It was nice seeing you yesterday

Arthur tapped the side of his phone for a second before writing a text of his own. He hesitated briefly before sending:

Can I come over? I need to tell you something

It was probably a mistake to send it but after writing in the notebook Arthur felt like he had so many things to tell Alfred. First, he wanted to tell him about Francis and how he was no longer going to see the Frenchman. Arthur was sure that Alfred would be happy to hear that. Then he would tell Alfred how much he mattered. Once Arthur built up the courage, he would declare his feelings for Alfred.

Arthur's phone vibrated once Alfred's response arrived. It read:

Sure! Is everything okay??

Arthur rushed into his room so he could get dressed into something nicer. Once he felt confident about what he was wearing, he texted Alfred:

On my way!

 


 

From the distance, Arthur saw the bus he needed to take by the bus stop. He immediately started running to catch it but it started driving off the moment Arthur got close. Arthur kept running after the bus but the driver didn't stop for him. As he chased down the bus, he stared at the wide advertisement on the back of the bus for The Wizard of Oz, which was being performed at a local performing arts theatre.

As interested as Arthur was in the play, he couldn't bring himself to focus long enough to read the rest of the details on the ad. He stopped running and started panting to catch his breath.

"Wanker," Arthur muttered under his breath before he walked back to the bus stop. There was a pole by the bus sign that had the bus schedule. According to the printed schedule, the next bus was supposed to come by in a half hour, which wasn't too bad. Arthur took a seat on the bench beside the bus sign and waited. His leg bounced up and down as he struggled to keep still.

He was nervous but he knew exactly how he wanted to tell Alfred. The moment Alfred opened the door, Arthur would tell him about Francis and then share his feelings. Then he would ask if Alfred wanted to keep waiting until they were friends for two years or if he wanted to give dating a try now.

Maybe if Alfred kept waiting without snogging or shagging, they could make some sort of arrangement. They wouldn't have to do anything sexual, of course. Perhaps they cuddling could be allowed. Of course, when Arthur was nesting he wouldn't invite Alfred anymore but maybe they could text or talk on the phone. Those weren't the sort of things Arthur thought he'd fancied doing but he could give it a try.

Arthur stood up when he saw a bus approaching. His spirits fell when he realized that the bus wasn't in service. He sat back down and watched as the bus slowly drove away. He sighed as he waited for the next bus to come.

He closed his eyes and thought about all the things they could still do. Instead of kissing, Arthur could do smaller things like nudge his nose against Alfred's arm or nuzzle his forehead against Alfred's chest. They could hold hands whenever and wherever they wanted, which was something Arthur never thought he'd care much for until now. Alfred could wrap his arm around Arthur's shoulder, back, or waist whenever they walked beside each other or even while they were sitting. That was something Arthur would really fancy.

The idea of being able to freely touch each other filled Arthur with excitement. He could touch Alfred's hair as much as he wanted and Alfred would hopefully do the same. They could give each other massages as often as they pleased without it being awkward. If things got too sexually charged then they could simply say or do something to defuse the sexual tension.

Arthur was so wrapped up in his thoughts that the next bus the came a half hour later seemed to have arrived in no time at all. Somehow, the ride to Alfred's flat seemed slow and fast at the same time. Anxiety started bubbling in his stomach as he got off the bus and began walking down the sidewalk that led to Alfred's place.

The walk from the bus stop down to Alfred's apartment was only three minutes. Arthur kept fixing his hair and straightening his shirt as he neared Alfred's building. Once he was in front of the door, he took in a deep breath.

"Here goes," Arthur whispered to himself. With a shaky hand, he knocked on Alfred's door.

Alfred opened the door almost straight away.

"Arthur, hey, is everything alright?" Alfred asked as he gestured for Arthur to walk inside.

Arthur stepped in and instantly noticed the twin girls he met the day before sitting on Alfred's couch. The TV was on, and although Arthur couldn't see what was playing he could hear that it was a cartoon.

"I didn't know you had company..." Arthur quietly said. The dwindling bit of confidence he had left seemed to vanish completely.

"Oh, them? I'm just babysitting. Lud and Felic aren't here so we can still talk," Alfred said. He noticed a sour smell coming off Arthur's scent so he added, "Don't worry, the girls are obsessed with that movie. They won't hear a word we say."

"Sure..." Arthur mumbled as Alfred led him to the kitchen.

Alfred turned around and gave Arthur a concerned look.

"So...? What did you want to talk about?" Alfred asked. He had been worried about Arthur all night after the way Francis forced Arthur to leave. Alfred even called Ludwig right after Arthur left to ask if he made a mistake in allowing Francis to drag Arthur off the way he had. Ludwig and Feliciano both didn't like Francis, especially since the alpha didn't seem to like children, but they tried to reassure Alfred that there was nothing for the American to do. After all, Arthur had insisted that he was fine and willingly left with Francis in the end.

Still, the fact that Arthur wanted to come over so urgently had made Alfred concerned that something awful happened after the Arthur left with Francis.

"Artie?" Alfred said when the omega didn't answer.

Arthur opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He tried again and still he couldn't bring himself to tell Alfred anything.

"Are you okay? Did something happen?" Alfred asked, sounding even more worried than before.

"Your birthday," Arthur said slowly as he tried to come up with something to say. "It was so nice. I really liked your friends."

"Yeah..." Alfred said, confused by what he was hearing. "They're great people... but was that what you came here to talk about?"

Arthur nodded while stepping back to lean against the kitchen counter.

"That's what was so urgent?" Alfred asked, doubting that Arthur was telling the truth.

"I never said it was urgent," Arthur quickly responded, now thankful for the bus delays he had to deal with. "I was passing your area anyway and thought I would stop by."

Alfred eyed Arthur suspiciously. "Are you sure that's all you wanted to tell me?"

"Yeah, that, and that maybe we all could hang out sometime," Arthur said without looking at the alpha. The way Alfred looked at him made him feel like Alfred could read his mind, like the alpha knew exactly what Arthur came there to say.

"Oh... Well, I'm sure they would like that too, although I don't think they'd be cool with your, um, with that guy coming along," Alfred replied, unable to say Francis' name. He still didn't believe that this was what Arthur came to tell him but he decided to drop the topic for now.

"He doesn't have to come..." Arthur said, still looking away from the taller blond. This was his chance to talk about Francis and mention how they were no longer together. He could manage to say that much. "I suppose I better be off now."

"You don't have to go. We're walking to a park once the movie is over. The girls won't mind if you stay," Alfred said, then realized that maybe Arthur was on his way to see Francis. "Unless you have plans with Fraan— with, uh, with that dude?"

Arthur smiled. "No, I'll stay."

The movie didn't end for another thirty minutes. Arthur and Alfred spent that time making sandwiches and fruit snacks for themselves and the girls.

"Rose, Mary," Alfred called out from the kitchen as the movie credits were rolling. "You remember Arthur from yesterday, right?"

Rose and Mary both excitedly shouted out, "Yeah!"

"He's going to come with us to the park," Alfred said excitedly. The girls both cheered.

"Are you ready to go to the park?" Arthur asked as he walked into the living room. They had the sandwiches and fruits all packed up in Alfred's backpack.

Both girls got off the couch and started jumping around.

It only took eight minutes to walk to the park. The park was relatively big. There were swing-sets, a tire swing, teeter-totters, three different slides, a small rock climbing wall, and monkey bars. There was also a hop-scotch game permanently drawn into the ground.

There wasn't anyone else in the park at the moment but the girls didn't seem to mind having the park all to themselves. They ran up the stairs to go down the tallest slide, then they ran back up to slide down again.

While they played, Arthur went to the swing-set to sit. Alfred sat next to him and continued watching the twins.

"They're great kids," Arthur said as he watched Rose help Mary up the stairs before they slid down the slide together again. He wouldn't mind having kids like them one day.

Alfred simply nodded in agreement. They both lazily swung on the swings in silence for a few minutes until two older kids walked in the park and started playing on the tire swing by the slides. They both had a realistic doll in their arms that most children usually carried.

"Oh, I think we forgot their dolls?" Arthur asked.

"They don't have dolls," Alfred responded, knowing exactly what Arthur was referring to. "Felic and Ludwig give them plenty of toys but they don't give the girls anything made specifically to indicate if they're alpha or omega. They're not cool with stuff like that."

"That's interesting. Do you know why?" Arthur asked as he planted his feet on the ground to stop his swing.

"Yeah, it was Ludwig's idea. He didn't want anyone treating his girls differently because of how they treated a doll," Alfred explained while his swing slowly moved back and forth.

"Hmm... I guess many people still have a bias of how omegas and alphas should act so I suppose it makes sense but I really fancied my doll when I was a lad," Arthur said thoughtfully. "I was also given a stuffed animal when I was older to cuddle with. I know the alpha scent was artificial but it still helped me feel relax once I started getting my heats."

"Yeah, my stuffed animal was super helpful too," Alfred said as he thought of his bunny stuff animal.

"You had one?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah, dude. All alphas get one. Did you think it was just omegas?"

"Sorta. It just makes sense for omegas to have one. Why do alphas need them?"

"To learn how to cuddle, I guess," Alfred said with a shrug. "When we get older, the smell of an omega in heat drives us crazy. Most alphas naturally have the instinct to be really rough and aggressive with omegas because they're usually uh, you know, um... weaker?"

"Uh huh..." Arthur said. "Go on..."

"Sorry," Alfred said with a nervous smile. "But yeah. We have to learn how to cuddle and be gentle with the stuffed animal. Usually, alphas go through several of them because we destroy the first few as we learn how to be gentler. Most alphas destroy as many as ten dolls before they finally learn how to cuddle with them."

"How many dolls did you go through?" Arthur asked.

"I didn't destroy any," Alfred answered. "I mean, I think I would have destroyed my fair share of them if I got them before I was six but I learned how to be gentle thanks to Matthew. He was such a fragile and sensitive kid so I had to learn how to be gentle early on."

"You were a sweet lad," Arthur softly complimented. Everything he came there to tell Alfred suddenly started swirling around in his head. "So, did your stuffed animal have an artificial omega scent?"

Alfred nodded as his swing went past Arthur. "Yeah. It's probably in some box in my parents' basement. I bet the scent is gone by now."

"I can't believe I thought only omegas got those scented stuffed animals," Arthur said.

"You're an only child, right?" Alfred asked as he stopped his swing. Arthur nodded. "Well, then it totally makes sense. I only know about the stuffed animal you omegas get because my brother is an omega. If it weren't for Mattie, I probably wouldn't have found out about them unless I had omega friends with them or until I was having kids of my own."

"Oh... that makes sense I guess," Arthur muttered.

"Yeah. I mean, not everyone gives dolls to their kids when they're young but everyone gets scented stuffed animals as they get older," Alfred continued. "Even Ludwig plans on giving the twins scented stuffed animals when they reach puberty. Maybe sooner if the girls need it but Ludwig is trying to help them learn how to be confident on their own. He doesn't like the idea of being ruled by your emotions or hormones."

"I really understand that..." Arthur said. "You two must be really close if he told you all of this."

"Yeah. He's super reserved but he's pretty open with me," Alfred said as he pushed his feet against the ground to get his swing to start moving again.

"That's great," Arthur said while watching the twins play. "Ludwig and Feliciano seem really happy together."

"They are," Alfred said with a grin.

"Do you know how they met?"

"Yeah, I actually introduced them," Alfred said with a proud smirk. "I thought Lud was a decent guy so I introduced him to Felic and they hit it off."

"Well, they seem like they really love each other. Maybe you should be a professional matchmaker," Arthur said with a playful smile that Alfred only briefly caught as he swung by the omega.

"I wouldn't be much of a matchmaker. I can't even find myself a match," Alfred grumbled.

Arthur looked at Alfred from the corner of his eye as the alpha's swing slightly moved back and forth. His lips pursed when he noticed Alfred's scent becoming dull. He wished he could tell Alfred what he came there to tell him but he couldn't. Arthur couldn't fight the fear that he simply wasn't the right omega for him. Alfred was, without a doubt, a really great alpha. He deserved to be with an amazing omega. 

Chapter Text

While Arthur and Alfred stayed on the swings, the girls started to play on the monkey bars. At some point, the two older kids started playing with Rose and Mary which made Alfred tense as he watched them without looking away. At one point, one of the two new kids bumped into Rose just before she got on the monkey bars and she nearly fell.

"Be careful," Alfred shouted as he jumped off the swing.

Arthur smiled at the alpha. "They're fine, Alfie."

Alfred blushed slightly from the nickname. He felt he hadn't heard it in a really long time.

"I know, I guess monkey bars makes me extra nervous," Alfred said while sitting back down on the swing.

"Why?" Arthur asked.

"It's just so easy to get hurt on them. Matt used to play on monkey bars all the time when we were kids and there was this one time when some bully probably knocked him off. Matt's hands were bleeding so I think that kid yanked him off the bars," Alfred explained.

"You didn't see it happen?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shook his head. "No, but I saw the kid run away like a lil' punk. I taught him a lesson though so he would never mess with Mattie again."

It was then that the twins ran over to them shouting "swing" over and over.

Alfred and Arthur stood up so the girls could sit down.

"Can you push me?" Mary asked Arthur. The Englishman nodded and stood behind her before he started to slowly push her swing.

Alfred got behind Rose to push her, but Rose insisted that she could push herself. Once Mary was swinging twice as high as Rose, the older twin gave Alfred a look and wordlessly asked if he could push her. Alfred laughed and got back behind Rose to push her too. The girls screamed and giggled when their swings got high in the air, and Alfred and Arthur kept changing amused looks with each other.

Soon the girls were exhausted from playing, so they sat down at one of the tables and ate the lunch before walking back home. After a couple of minutes of walking, Mary pulled on Alfred's hand and asked to be picked up. Alfred lifted into his arms and was about to continue walking when he noticed how tired Rose was too.

"Come on, Rosie," Alfred said.

Rose crossed her arms and continued walking for another thirty seconds before caving in and letting Alfred lift her. Alfred carried them both while Arthur carried the backpack. While the girls were held around Alfred's sides, Rose rested her head on Alfred's left shoulder while Mary rested her head on his right.

Arthur kept glancing over at Alfred and couldn't help but imagine what it would be like if they ever had a family together. He really loved seeing how Alfred acted around Rose and Mary. Alfred really seemed like he would be an amazing dad. While Arthur wasn't sure if he would make a good mate, he knew he would be an amazing parent too.

They could be wonderful parents together, and happy too. Arthur just wished he could somehow skip forward to a point where they were already married and had children so they could have more moments like this one. The problem, of course, was that Arthur didn't know if it would be possible to get to that point. It all seemed so unattainable.

Alfred noticed a change in Arthur's scent but couldn't determine what he was smelling. He turned to look at the omega and blushed when he caught Arthur staring at him.

"Hey... What's on your mind?" Alfred asked, still blushing lightly.

"Oh, um..." Arthur stammered as he tried to come up with something to say. "Just... uh... yes. Just wondering how long you've known Feliciano and Ludwig."

Alfred looked up and seemed to be counting in his head. "Well, I met Ludwig a year after I knew Feliciano... And I've known Feliciano since I was a freshman in high school, so I guess almost seven or eight years now."

"Blimey! That's such a long time," Arthur said loudly enough that the girls started to stir from their sleep.

Alfred gave Arthur a gentle look that said "shh". Arthur gave him an apologetic look in return.

"We're almost home," Alfred said to the girls. The twins fell back asleep in just a few seconds. Then Alfred said, "But yeah, I've known them for, like, ever."

Arthur couldn't help but imagine Alfred and Feliciano together. It made him uncomfortable picturing Alfred with someone else but he still thought the two could have been cute together.

"Feliciano's a pretty omega... I understand why you didn't do anything when you saw him naked that one time but why didn't anything ever happen between you two after that?" Arthur quietly asked.

"I don't know, I never thought of him in that way," Alfred answered as he thought back to when he initially met the omega. "We weren't even friends at first. He was a grade ahead of me so we didn't have any classes together either. I was just looking out for him and eventually we became friends."

"Looking out for him?" Arthur asked, confused.

"Felic was always so compliant. That lil' dude went along with anything people suggested, and I mean anything," Alfred said as he remembered everything that happened that led him to becoming friends with Feliciano. 

 


 

"Hey there. I'm Alfred. Are you thinking of trying out?" Alfred asked as he sat down beside the Italian on the bleachers in the school's gym.

"No... I don't know? Do you think I should?" the omega asked.

"Sure, why not?" Alfred said with a smile.

The Italian walked down to the tryout line and waited for his turn. Alfred decided to stay and see how the omega did. Once it was finally the omega's turn, he started running with the ball. It turned out that the Italian was not a good basketball player but he wasn't the worst either.

Well, not until he saw people running toward him. The moment his mock opponents ran towards him in an attempt to get the ball, he dropped the basketball and held up a white flag that he somehow had with him.

"I give up! Please don't hurt me! I'm too beautiful," the Italian hysterically cried out.

Everyone froze and stared at him.

"Get off the court, Feliciano," the coach yelled after blowing a whistle.

The omega, who was apparently named Feliciano, ran out of the gym.

Alfred laughed sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. He supposed he should stop giving advice to strangers.

It was a few weeks later when Alfred saw Feliciano again. The omega was surrounded by alphas. When Alfred got closer, he could hear their conversation.

"I heard you went down on my friends and it was amazing. Do you want to help me out too?" one alpha asked.

"Oh, um, sure, I guess. I like to help people when I can," Feliciano said in such a dazed way that Alfred was sure the omega didn't understand what the alpha was really asking.

"How about you give me a hand too, if you know what I mean," another alpha laughed.

"Oh, I guess I can do that," Feliciano said with an even spacier expression than before.

"You're the best," the second alpha exclaimed. All of the alphas cheered in agreement.

"Ahh, it's nice to have friends," the Italian said dreamily.

"Would it be cool if I tried you out too?" a third alpha asked.

"I like helping friends," Feliciano said happily.

"Righteous! I'm so stoked," the third alpha exclaimed.

Alfred had been debating whether he should intervene or not. When it sounded like Feliciano was unknowingly agreeing to have sex, Alfred cut through the group of alphas to stand by the omega.

"Alright, dudettes. Back off. That's enough," Alfred said as he wrapped one arm around Feliciano's shoulder. When none of the alphas moved, Alfred said in a harsher tone, "I said beat it!"

"Why should I beat it when this omega's willing to do it for me?" the third alpha quipped. All the alphas snickered. She smirked and pounded her fist against her friend's fist.

"Yo, my name's Alfred and I'm on the basketball team. If you don't back off then I'll bring my friends here," Alfred threatened.

"Why, freshman? So you can watch how many people this omega can handle at one time?" a fourth alpha asked.

"I bet that omega went through the whole team already," the fifth and last alpha of the group remarked as she leered at Alfred.

"Enough, girls," the first alpha said. "Lunch is almost over and we have better things to do than talking to this freshman."

The group of alphas finally walked away. As they did, Feliciano waved goodbye to them.

"Ahh, what a beautiful group of girls," Feliciano said.

"Dude, you gotta be careful. You can't just agree to sleep with anyone who asks," Alfred said.

"Huh? They didn't ask to sleep with me. They wanted to be my friends," Feliciano replied.

Alfred heaved a sigh. "Look, I gotta go. Just be careful with who you hang out with, dude. Okay?"

"Okay," Feliciano said in such a bubbly way that Alfred wasn't sure if the omega really understood anything that just happened.

Alfred found Feliciano in a similar situation almost every other week. At some point, Alfred discovered that Feliciano really did sleep with many of the members on the basketball team. The American just couldn't understand how the Italian could agree to do anything people asked him to do.

It wasn't just sex either. People got Feliciano to help pull pranks, steal answer sheets for tests, and other things. He was so good at it because no one suspected him of doing anything bad, and there was something about his naive nature that made people forgive him. Feliciano could get away with anything and a lot of people capitalized on that.

Toward the end of the year, Alfred pulled Feliciano away from a couple of alphas after the Italian unknowingly agreed to have sex with both of them at once.

"Dude! You can't just say yes like that," Alfred remarked.

"Why not?" Feliciano asked.

Alfred rubbed his forehead in frustration.

"I mean, you totally can say yes but you should want to say yes, you know what I'm saying? Don't just say yes to say yes," Alfred explained.

"Okay...?" Feliciano replied.

"So you understand?" Alfred asked. Feliciano nodded, so Alfred said, "Great. So, can you get the answers to a test for me?"

"Sure!" Feliciano cheered.

"You did it again! Dude, what is with you? I mean, this is the last day of school. There aren't even any other tests," Alfred groaned. "You can't just agree to everything people ask you to do."

"But it makes people happy and I like making my friends happy," Feliciano said.

Alfred placed his hands on Feliciano's shoulders. "Listen to me. Are you listening? Okay, good. These people are not your friends."

"Yes they are," Feliciano said, but the omega's usual bubbly cheeriness was replaced by worry.

Alfred shook his head. "No, they're not. Real friends wouldn't ask you to do shit like that."

"So no one is my friend?" Feliciano asked.

Alfred felt a pit in his stomach when he saw tears welling in Feliciano's eyes. It was hard for Alfred to bring himself to answer the omega but he pushed himself to.

"I'm afraid not," Alfred answered.

"So you're not my friend?" Feliciano asked, on the verge of falling apart.

Feliciano's big, light brown eyes were filled with hurt as tears started to fall.

"I'm your friend," Alfred finally said after a long pause. "And friends stick together."

Feliciano suddenly hugged Alfred so tightly that Alfred almost stumbled backward. Alfred awkwardly patted the omega's back and said, "I'll see you next year, okay?"

The omega nodded. "Okay," Feliciano answered with the biggest smile.

 


 

"Felic was always a really innocent, kind, and giving person and alphas often took it the wrong way, you know? So I started to hang out with him to make sure no one took advantage of him," Alfred said as they neared the apartment.

"Are you sure you didn't have a secret crush on him?" Arthur found himself asking.

"Well, I did see him naked before. I think I would totally know if I had a crush on him after that."

"Right..." Arthur said softly as he held the door open for Alfred. "Well, it's really great of you to watch out for him like that."

"Yeah well it wasn't forever. The second he and Lud got together, no one messed with Felic again, not even to make him pull pranks or steal answer sheets or whatever," Alfred said as he struggled to walk up the stairs. "Oh, can you get my keys? It's in my pocket."

Arthur hesitated before saying, "Sure, which one?"

"The front right," Alfred answered.

Arthur held his breath as he gingerly reached inside the pocket. His heart raced as he felt around until he felt the keys, then he quickly pulled them out. "Got them."

"Cool. It's the one with the bald eagle printed on it," Alfred said.

"Of course it is," Arthur quipped as he rolled his eyes. He unlocked the door and held it open as Alfred walked inside.

Alfred gently set the girls down on the small couch before going in the spare room to pull the bed out the couch. He went back to the living room and brushed both of the girls' hair before gently lifting them into his arms. They stirred from their sleep but they soon fell back asleep.

Arthur blushed as he watched Alfred take the twins into the spare room. When the alpha turned around, Arthur was awkwardly standing in the doorway.

"Come on, we can sit on the couch," Alfred said as he walked out of the room.

"Okay," Arthur quietly said. His heart fluttered when Alfred's arm brushed against him as the alpha walked by to get to the living room.

Once they were both sitting on the couch, Arthur bit his lower lip as he fidgeted with his hands. This was his chance to tell Alfred about his feelings.

Arthur opened his mouth to speak.

"Man, my legs are killing me," Alfred exclaimed as he slumped down on the couch and stretched out his legs.

"I bet..." Arthur murmured. His heart was racing as he tried to get the words out of his mouth.

"So, their parents should be here in an hour or so. I can give you a ride home after they get here," Alfred quietly offered before Arthur could say anything.

"Oh... yeah. That would be nice, thanks," Arthur said as he tapped his fingers against his lap in an attempt to drum up some confidence. As much as he tried, he simply couldn't bring himself to tell the alpha anything, not even how he was no longer seeing Francis.

"Are you hungry?" Alfred asked.

"Famished," Arthur said with a half smile.

"Let me fix something for us to eat," Alfred said while standing up.

"I'll help," Arthur said as he stood up too.

They went into the kitchen and made sandwiches. Alfred handed Arthur a tray before grabbing one for himself, then they went back to the living room to eat.

"You really should get a dining table, even if it's just a small one like mine," Arthur said.

"Nah, it's cool. I have enough trays for, like, a ton of people," Alfred said while eating.

Shortly after they were done eating, there was a light knock on the door. Alfred got up to open it and saw Ludwig and Feliciano. Ludwig patted Alfred on the arm before walking inside. Then Feliciano hugged Alfred before following Ludwig.

"Hey guys. The girls are sleeping in the room. Let me go get them," Alfred offered.

"No need. I will get them," Ludwig said in a light voice. He nodded toward Arthur before going into the spare room to get the twins.

Feliciano smiled when she noticed Arthur on the couch. "Arthur, what a sorpresa! It's so fantastico to see you here with Alfie."

Arthur blushed. "Hello. It was nice to see the girls again. They are such a delight."

"Sì, they are," Feliciano agreed with a smile.

"Oh here," Alfred said as he grabbed a tote with all of the twins' belongings.

"Grazie," Feliciano said. It was then that Ludwig came back into the living room while holding the two sleeping girls in his arms.

"Thank you again, Al, for taking care of our little engel," Ludwig said with a small smile.

"Any time," Alfred replied with a grin. Before Ludwig and Feliciano could leave, Alfred said, "Hey, are you two free sometime soon? Arthur wanted to do a group thing."

"Oh? That could be fun," Feliciano exclaimed while looking at Arthur. Then she turned to Ludwig and asked, "What do you say, amore? Maybe we can go to that restaurant I wanted to try? The one that just opened up by the university Antonio works at?"

Ludwig gave the Italian a tiny warm smile. "That would be fine. The little engel will be with your brother next weekend. We could meet then, perhaps on Saturday? Say around nine?"

Feliciano excitedly clasped her hands together. "It can be a double date!"

"Does that work for you?" Ludwig asked Arthur.

"Saturday should be fine," Arthur said with a shy smile.

"Fantastico," Feliciano exclaimed. "We will see you soon. Addio."

"Ja, until then," Ludwig said before leaving. Alfred and Arthur both said goodbye to them as Feliciano followed after her husband.

Once they were gone, Alfred turned to Arthur.

"So... uh, earlier you said you wanted to tell me something. Did you want to talk about it?" Alfred asked.

Arthur looked into the alpha's blue eyes and wanted to tell him that he wanted them to be together, that he wanted to be in a relationship with him one day, that he was no longer with Francis so there was nothing standing in their way.

Except there was something standing in their way — Arthur.

"Nothing," Arthur answered. "It was nothing important... Can we get going now?"

"Sure," Alfred said. He still felt like there was something important that Arthur wasn't telling him but he accepted that he wasn't going to get it out of the omega.

The short drive to the omega's apartment was quiet. There were a few times when Arthur glanced at Alfred without the alpha noticing. Arthur wanted to gather enough courage to tell Alfred what he had wanted to say all along but couldn't. His mouth and throat were dry and his heart started racing every time he even thought about opening his mouth to speak.

When they got to Arthur's flat, Arthur didn't get out of the car right away.

"So... I guess I'll see you at lunch on Monday," Alfred said.

Arthur stared down at his lap while biting his lip. "Alfred, I..."

"Yeah?" Alfred asked when Arthur didn't continue.

"I..." Arthur whispered. "I'm excited for next weekend."

"Oh... yeah, it'll be fun," Alfred said with a grin.

"Yeah..." Arthur murmured. "Well, good night."

"Good night, Artie."

Chapter Text

The following week was difficult for Arthur. One minute he felt like he should tell Alfred everything including his feelings, then several minutes later he felt like he should only tell Alfred that things were over with Francis.

Each time he met Alfred for lunch, he tried to tell the American. There were a few times when Arthur almost got close but then his throat would feel tight and his heart would start racing. On Friday Arthur resolved to tell Alfred about Francis because Arthur felt that the alpha deserved to know that much at the very least. Of course, Arthur came to that conclusion several times before, but this time he felt certain about that decision.

Just as Arthur was about to tell Alfred that he was no longer seeing the Frenchman, Alfred asked, "Sooo... you still wanna go to the restaurant, right?"

"O-Oh, of course," Arthur stammered as he pushed down the words he was originally going to say.

"Awesome! It's a really nice place so it's probably a good idea to dress up a bit," Alfred said before quickly adding, "But there's totally no pressure to be super formal. I mean really anything you wear will be perfect."

"Right..." Arthur muttered.

"The restaurant is like thirty minutes from your place so I'll pick you up at eight fifteen, okay? That way we'll have time to find parking," Alfred said.

"Sounds good..." Arthur muttered. His hands were on his thighs, tightly clutching the edges of his shorts. He quietly took in a few rapid breaths before saying, "So... um... so... Francis —"

"He can't come," Alfred automatically stated before he could think. Then his eyes widened from what he said. "Sorry, I didn't mean for it to come out like that."

"It's okay," Arthur replied, noticing the distress that quickly took over Alfred's scent.

"He doesn't mind that you're hanging out with me and my friends, does he?" Alfred asked although talking about the Frenchman was almost as painful as hearing Arthur say the man's name.

"It doesn't matter what he thinks because," Arthur paused as anxiety gripped his entire body. If he told Alfred about Francis then Alfred would surely ask how long ago they stopped seeing each other, and Arthur could only imagine Alfred responding angrily to discovering that he wasn't informed of the news straight away.

Then Arthur feared that Alfred would be angrier still because of the length of time he was with the Frenchman. After all, being with Francis nearly ended Arthur's friendship with Alfred. The American might be upset that Arthur was willing to ruin things between them for something that only lasted six weeks. Alfred would probably be even more upset by the fact that Arthur invited Francis to the birthday gathering only for Arthur to break up with the French alpha shortly after.

With all of this in mind, all Arthur could say was, "He doesn't matter."

The sour and bitter odor that tainted Alfred's scent didn't diminish at all. With a sigh, Arthur slumped down in his chair when he realized that Alfred's mood hadn't improved in the slightest.

"We'll have a nice time tomorrow," Arthur said in a hopeful attempt to brighten Alfred's spirits.

Alfred smiled a bit and said, "Yeah."

Then they spent the rest of the lunch break in silence.

 


 

The next day seemed to go by quickly. Arthur had washed his hair, shaved, and spent an hour styling his hair only for it to look a little worse than usual. He huffed at the mirror as he tossed his hairbrush in the sink, then cursed before spending an hour picking an outfit. After going through everything in his dresser, he opened his closet and pushed his coats and jackets aside in case he missed something.

Suddenly, a beautiful dress caught Arthur's attention. He usually didn't fancy wearing dresses except to sleep in but he got this particular dress over a year ago because it was very flattering on him. Besides, almost every omega had at least one dress in their wardrobe — even if they never wore it.

Arthur actually bought it shortly after meeting Alfred when the silly thought of them possibly going on a date had entered his thoughts one too many times. It was a beautiful casual dress that could easily be dressed up for a formal occasion. That was one of the many things Arthur loved about it. The dress was so versatile and he didn't feel awkward or embarrassed wearing it. Of course, he never actually wore it after he bought it because he never went on any dates with Alfred. So Arthur had kept it in the closet where he knew he would never look for it again.

He took out the dress and held it against himself. Without trying it on he could tell that it still fit him perfectly.

"No," Arthur mumbled to himself as he placed the dress back in the closet. Instead, he returned to his dresser and pulled out a red embroidered top and a pair of sleek black shorts. He went to the loo to try them on and turned around in front of the mirror. Then he ran his fingers over the embroidered roses along the collar before nervously biting his lip. Red was a bold and passionate color, especially when paired with black. It might have been too much.

When Arthur realized he was treating this like a real double date, he sighed and quietly asked himself, "What are you doing?"

His alarm went off, warning him that Alfred would be coming soon. So Arthur decided to keep the outfit on and focused on his hair instead. Arthur smiled a bit when his hair finally cooperated and remained fairly neat. Then he heard a text alert that was likely from the American, so Arthur quickly put on colored lipgloss, a hint of eyeshadow, and a touch of blush.

"Ace," Arthur quietly exclaimed, surprisingly pleased with how he looked. He went to check his phone and smiled when he saw the text from Alfred.

Leaving now. Will be there in a few :)

Arthur grabbed one of his nicer purses, put on his sandals, and went outside to wait for the alpha.

It only took a few minutes for Alfred to arrive.

"Hiya," Arthur greeted as he got inside the car. He turned to look at Alfred and blushed when he saw how nice the American looked. Then he noticed the red and black diagonally striped tie that was perfectly knotted under Alfred's collar. "You're wearing a tie?"

"Yeah," Alfred laughed as he reached up to readjust it. "At least I'm not wearing a suit. I think that might have been too formal."

"Right," Arthur whispered as he stared down at his lap. Alfred's scent seemed delightfully stronger than usual and it made Arthur feel positively giddy.

Alfred reached over Arthur to open the glove compartment and Arthur held his breath from how close Alfred's arm was to his leg. The American took out the GPS and closed the compartment, then he entered the restaurant address into it. As the device calculated the route, Alfred turned to look at Arthur and blushed when he saw how dolled up the omega was. Arthur was even wearing makeup, which was something that didn't happen every day.

"You look really beaut—ta-um, great. You look really great," Alfred clumsily corrected himself.

"Thanks," Arthur said softly.

Alfred drummed his fingers on the steering wheel until the GPS finally calculated the route, then he turned on the radio and started driving. They were both grateful for the music because it allowed them to avoid talking about what was on their minds. Before they knew it, they reached the restaurant. It was lucky that they left early because it took Alfred some time to find a parking space.

"Hope you brought your appetite," Alfred said after parking.

"Naturally," Arthur quipped before getting out of the car.

As they walked to the restaurant, they found Ludwig and Feliciano standing outside. Feliciano quickly noticed Alfred and Arthur as the blonds got near.

"Oh, how bella," Feliciano complimented Arthur as she went to hug the Englishman and Alfred at the same time. "You two look stupendo together. Oh, your children would be so beautiful!"

"We aren't a couple," Alfred said while blushing deeply. Arthur was blushing too but didn't say anything.

"Sì, sì, I know. It doesn't make it less true, huh?" Feliciano asked with a big smile.

Ludwig had a hint of a smirk on his face. He wrapped his arm around Feliciano's waist and said, "Let's go inside. We have reservations so we don't have to wait."

They went inside the Italian restaurant and walked past a long line so they could be seated at their booth. The booth was large enough to seat six people. There were four menus and four sets of silverware already on the table. In the center of the table was a vase of roses and baby's breath. Ludwig and Feliciano sat on one side while Alfred and Arthur sat on the other.

"João will be your waiter. He will be with you shortly," said the host before leaving.

"João... don't we know a João, amore?" Feliciano asked Ludwig.

"I don't think so... but the name does sound familiar..." Ludwig murmured.

"That's so weird, I think I remember someone by that name too," Alfred said. "Maybe it's someone from high school?"

"Oh, maybe! Wouldn't that be fun?" Feliciano asked.

"Ja, well, we'll find out soon enough," Ludwig said dismissively as he picked up his menu.

Since Arthur couldn't really join in on their conversation, he had been looking over the menu filled with overpriced dishes. All the meals were expensive so he was trying to find the cheapest option that wasn't too beyond his limit.

As if reading his mind, Alfred whispered, "Order anything you want. It's my treat."

Arthur blushed from how close Alfred was to him. All he could manage was to shyly nod in response.

Everyone was quiet as they continued looking down at their menus. It was a couple of minutes later when their waiter arrived. João was an average sized man with cinnamon brown skin, green eyes, and curly brown hair that was pulled into a pony-tail. He was about to ask for everyone's orders when his eyes settled on Feliciano.

"Uau, Lovino? Olá! It's been a while, hã? You look so different! Ah, I see you left the Spaniard! No offense," João quickly apologized to Ludwig before looking at Feliciano again. "But still, I must say I am very surprised!"

"Eh? No, you're thinking of my brother," Feliciano said before adding, "How do you know Romano?"

"Lovino," Ludwig clarified for the waiter.

"Oh, I guess you can say I kept him company whenever his boyfriend couldn't," João laughed. "But that was years ago."

Alfred quickly noticed Arthur's scent become a little bitter, so he leaned in and quietly explained, "Felic's brother was in an open relationship back then."

"Ah. That's good to know," Arthur whispered, his scent quickly returning back to normal. While Arthur had no qualms about casual sex, he adamantly disapproved of cheating.

"How is Lovino doing these days?" João asked.

"Brilliante. He and his boyfriend got married as soon as Antonio became a citizen and moved here," Feliciano said.

"Fantástico! They were in that long distance relationship for so long. I'm happy that it worked out," João said before laughing nervously. "Sorry, I didn't mean to get carried away in conversation! Is everyone ready to order?"

"No need to apologize," Feliciano said with a smile. "I'll have la lasagna."

"I will have the sausages," Ludwig said, referring to the only entree on the menu that included sausage.

"I'll have the chicken alfredo," Arthur ordered.

"And you, senhor? What will you have," João asked the American.

"I'll have the burger," Alfred answered, which made Arthur let out a quiet laugh because he just knew Alfred would order a burger.

"With fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and caramelized onions?" João asked just to be sure.

"Yep," Alfred said with a grin.

"And drinks?," João asked while writing down everyone's order on a small notepad.

"Just water for me, please. No ice and no straw," Arthur requested.

"I'll have the same except I'll have plenty of ice — like a ton of ice," Alfred asked.

"Okay," João said, jotting down the note about ice and straws while Ludwig and Feliciano ordered wine. João wrote that down too and said, "Thank you. Please let me know if you need anything else."

The moment João was gone, Feliciano asked why Arthur and Alfred didn't want straws.

"They're like super bad for the environment and can kill animals and stuff, so it's just better to stop using them," Alfred explained.

"Exactly," Arthur said with a proud smile. There was a split second when he almost reached out to hold Alfred's hand but he resisted and placed his hands on his own lap instead.

"It's good that we ordered wine, huh?" Feliciano giggled to Ludwig while placing her hand on Ludwig's knee. Ludwig silently chuckled as he wrapped his arm around Feliciano's shoulder.

"Ah, sorry guys, I gotta go real quick. Nature calls," Alfred said as he got up. He gave an apologetic smile to Arthur before leaving the table.

Once Alfred was gone, Ludwig leaned forward a bit and said, "So tell us about yourself, Arthur."

"Oh, I'd rather know more about you and Felic...iano," Arthur said, almost calling Feliciano the nickname Alfred used.

"How sweet! Isn't he sweet, amore?" Feliciano said to Ludwig. "Well, Rose and Mary are the lights of our lives but I guess that isn't really talking about us? Hm... My husband and I really love art. I actually get to pose for the figure drawing sessions at museums and colleges."

"That's amazing," Arthur remarked.

"Ja! My wife doesn't just like art, she likes to become art," Ludwig said proudly, then he added in an amused tone, "Und it's somewhere she can get away with having her nude siestas."

"She?" Arthur asked.

"Sì, me," Feliciano answered with a soft smile.

Although Feliciano's expression was friendly, Ludwig's was not. He looked like a guard dog that was about to attack.

"Ja, is zere a problem?" Ludwig practically growled, his German accent suddenly getting thicker.

"Oh, no, I don't have any problem with that, of course! It's just, I just didn't know," Arthur stammered as he shot a glare at the seat where Alfred should have been sitting.

"Ah, good then. Most people don't have a problem with it but every so often we encounter someone who does," Ludwig explained.

"We do?" Feliciano asked.

"It's nothing to worry about, meine honigwurst," Ludwig said before kissing her.

Arthur hesitated before gingerly asking, "Have you, um. Have you always been regarded with feminine pronouns? I hope that was okay to ask?"

"Of course," Feliciano answered with a bubbly enthusiasm. "Sì!"

Ludwig started to chuckle. "No, actually. We met und started dating in our junior year in high school. A year later I had a feeling that she had a preference to be called 'she' and 'her' so I asked if I could refer to her as that."

"And you fancied it more?" Arthur asked the Italian.

"Sì," Feliciano said with a nod. Then Ludwig kissed Feliciano on the cheek which made the omega smile brightly.

"You two seem so wonderful together," Arthur complimented.

"Grazie," Feliciano said. "It's very lucky that we ever met."

"Ja, very lucky. Alfred was actually the one to introduce us. We didn't have any classes together so I don't think we would have ever met if it weren't for him," Ludwig said. "Ah, speaking of which."

"Hey guys," Alfred said as he got back to the booth and sat beside Arthur. "Did I miss much?"

"Feliciano was just telling me how she met Ludwig," Arthur said, emphasizing the word "she" while raising his eyebrows at the American.

"Oh yeah, did you guys mention how awkward it was at first?" Alfred asked with a chuckle.

"Oh, sì! My amore here had a heart as hard as dry penne when I met him," Feliciano said with a dreamy look on her face. "But I knew in time he would soften up until he was al dente, and I was right!"

Ludwig blushed a bit harder. "Oh, look, our food is here."

It was then that João walked up to the booth with a cart holding the drinks and meals.

"That wasn't such a long wait, right?" João said with a smile as he started to set the plates on the table. Next placed everyone's drinks by their plates. Once he was done, he opened his mouth to say something to Feliciano but let out a defeated sigh instead. Then he said, "Let me know if you need anything else."

Everyone thanked João before he left.

The rest of dinner was spent sharing hobbies and interests. Feliciano spoke about how she loved being a stay-at-home mamma and mentioned how having the modeling side job made her feel like she was shaping future artists. Ludwig mentioned how he enjoyed building things and that he often built toys for the twins.

Since everyone knew Alfred, he didn't say much about himself. Soon it became time for Arthur to talk about himself, which was something Arthur wasn't used to doing with anyone except Alfred.

"Wait, you guys said this place is by a university, right? The one your brother worked at?" Alfred asked the last part to Feliciano.

Feliciano nodded while eating the last bite of her lasagna.

"Her brother's husband, actually," Ludwig corrected.

"Sì, Antonio works there," Feliciano added.

"Right, right. Well, Arthur here has an associate's degree and is thinking about going back to college to get his bachelor's," Alfred said with a proud grin.

Arthur gave the alpha a sharp look. He was hardly comfortable talking about his interest in books, so casually discussing his academic history and aspirations with other people was the last thing Arthur wanted to do.

Before Arthur could find a way to change the subject, Feliciano enthusiastically said, "Grandioso! It's always so inspiring to see an omega put their education first. You don't see too many omegas with a college degree."

"Thanks," Arthur said softly even though he wasn't sure if he deserved the praise.

"When are you taking classes again?" Ludwig asked.

Arthur frowned and looked down at his empty plate.

"To be frank, I really don't know," Arthur admitted. "I'm just eight courses away from getting my bachelor's but I don't want to be thousands of dollars in debt. I was hoping to get a job at a university that would cover the rest of my tuition."

Feliciano shared a look with Ludwig before asking Arthur, "Does it matter which university you go to?"

The Brit shook his head. "No, not really. As long as it's nearby so I don't have to move."

"The university Antonio works at is looking for, what was it again?" Feliciano asked Ludwig.

"I don't remember the job title but they basically need a secretary. Someone who can handle student admissions and file different types of documents," Ludwig answered.

"Sì, that is it. He offered me the job tonight when we left the girls with him and Romano but I'm not interested in going to college. It is so much hard work," Feliciano said a little dramatically.

"It's probably minimum wage but your tuition at their university would be fully covered," Ludwig added.

Arthur turned to Alfred and gave him an excited look.

"Arthur can do that job, no problem," Alfred said as he gave Arthur a wink. "He already has the experience too. Can you put in a good word with your brother-in-law?"

"Of course," Feliciano replied. "Just email me your resume. Alfred can give you my information."

"Are you serious?" Arthur asked. It was such good news that he feared it was too good to be true and Arthur really couldn't handle being disappointed about something as significant as this.

"Very serious," Feliciano said. "I would have the job right now if I had said yes. I don't see why the same can't be true for you."

Arthur's fingers covered his lips as he resisted the urge to cry. Then he felt Alfred's hand at his shoulder and suddenly became a little more steady.

"Thank you so much," Arthur said in a slightly shaky voice. "You have no idea how much this means to me."

It was then that João returned. "I see you are all done with your meals. Are you interested in dessert?"

Alfred turned to Arthur and said, "Well, we do have something to celebrate."

"It's a bit premature for a celebration," Arthur said even though he couldn't stop smiling. "But sure, yeah, let's get dessert."

Arthur ordered a vanilla cake with vanilla ice cream on top. It had white chocolate drizzled over it with white chocolate shavings. Alfred ordered chocolate lava cake while Ludwig and Feliciano ordered a large slice of cherry pie to share.

While they were waiting for their desserts to arrive, Alfred texted Arthur Feliciano's contact information while Ludwig and Feliciano were whispering something to each other. It didn't take long for the desserts to arrive and it took even less time for everyone to finish eating. When João came back with the bill, he stood awkwardly at the booth for a few seconds while tapping his fingers against the side of his leg.

"I was wondering," João said nervously to Feliciano. "Can you give my number to your brother? I would like to reconnect with him."

"Sure," Feliciano said.

"Maravilhoso," João said. He scribbled down his name and number on his notepad and ripped the paper out. Then he handed it to Feliciano. "Thank you so much."

"Prego," Feliciano said. "I'm seeing him tonight so I'll just give him your number when we get home."

"Obrigado! Thank you," João said before leaving.

Alfred paid for himself and Arthur while Ludwig paid for himself and Feliciano. Since they both left cash for the bill and tip, they didn't have to wait for João to return. Once they walked outside, Feliciano gave Arthur a hug.

"This was fun. It's so nice making a new friend," Feliciano happily proclaimed.

"Yeah, I'm glad we were able to hang out today," Alfred said.

"It was our pleasure," Feliciano responded. She smiled at Alfred before giving the American a hug. "I like this one, Alfred. He's a keeper."

Alfred blushed as the Italian pulled away. "We aren't a couple."

Ludwig smiled at Feliciano, amused by his omega's antics. "Ja... well, we must get going. Until next time," Ludwig said before hugging Alfred.

"It was great seeing you both again," Arthur said with a smile. "I'll email you my resume when I get home. Thank you again for this."

"It's no problem at all," Feliciano assured Arthur. "Good night you two."

"See you guys soon," Alfred said.

Everyone waved goodbye before they parted ways to their own cars.

"I can't believe that happened," Arthur said excitedly after they got inside Alfred's car. "I hope I get the job."

"Me too. How cool would that be? It sounded like a sure thing too," Alfred said with a grin as he pulled out of the parking space and started driving.

"I don't want to get my hopes up yet but it would be wicked cool if everything worked out," Arthur exclaimed. He didn't want to get too excited but he couldn't help himself.

"I think everything will work out in the end," Alfred said in earnest.

"Gods, I really hope so," Arthur murmured.

The drive back to Arthur's apartment seemed slower than the drive to the restaurant. Arthur bit his lower lip in frustration and anxiety. All he wanted to do right now was kiss Alfred, or at least hold the alpha's hand. He would be happy if he could do just that.

"Is everything okay?" Alfred asked, smelling the stress from the omega's scent.

Arthur didn't say anything at first. His heart was pounding too hard in his chest. He inhaled deeply in attempt to steady his nerves.

"I have strong feelings for you," Arthur desperately tried to say but the words wouldn't form in his mouth. He opened his mouth again but the words refused to come out. Then he started to think that they were silly words to say anyway, so instead he said, "I hope you find someone wonderful one day."

"I already did," Alfred said almost instantly.

"Someone better than me," Arthur muttered dispiritedly while fidgeting his fingers together.

"How can you say something like that?" Alfred said, looking away from the road to glance at Arthur.

"Don't look away from the road."

"Arthur —"

Arthur gently touched his fingers against Alfred's cheek and turned Alfred's face so the alpha could look at the road again. His fingers briefly lingered against Alfred's cheek before he reluctantly pulled his hand away.

"You deserve to be with someone who makes you really happy," Arthur continued.

"So do you," Alfred said, missing the warmth and softness of Arthur's hand against him.

Arthur turned away and stared out the window.

"Artie, you're a really amazing person. I've never met anyone like you. You're —"

"Thanks for paying for my dinner," Arthur said almost mechanically. "And for letting me spend time with your friends tonight."

"Arthur," Alfred said.

"Please, don't," Arthur whispered. "Just... don't."

Alfred inhaled slowly before letting out a deep breath. "Well, there's no need to thank me. My friends really like you. And I'm really glad they might have a way for you to go back to college."

Arthur gave a tiny smile, relieved that Alfred was cooperating. "Yes, it would be fantastic if I could finish my degree."

"It really would," Alfred agreed.

"Yeah..." Arthur whispered.

They didn't say anything else for the rest of the ride. When Alfred parked in front of Arthur's flat, Arthur stayed in his seat.

"I better get going," Arthur said with a forced smile. "I'll see you at lunch on Monday."

"See ya," Alfred said. "Good night."

"Night," Arthur replied as he got out of the car. Before closing the door, he looked at Alfred again. He opened his mouth to say something else but he bit his lip instead and shut the door.

 

Chapter Text

Arthur's heat started on the sixteenth of July, which was a Thursday. He was wearing an oversized shirt and a pair of shorts that barely fit him. The clothes belonged to Alfred. Arthur never gave them back after Alfred had given them to him the last time they spent a heat together. The clothes didn't have Alfred's scent on them anymore but the fact that they belonged to Alfred not only aroused Arthur but comforted him too. He wore Alfred's clothes during his entire heat, even while he was wanking off.

The Monday after Arthur's heat ended was the last week in July. Arthur was sitting alone at their usual spot in the cafeteria. When Alfred sat down at the table, he had a huge grin on his face. 

"What?" Arthur asked with a smile of his own.

"I have great news," Alfred exclaimed. He could barely contain his excitement.

"Well?" Arthur asked. He hated guessing games, so when Alfred didn't say anything, Arthur said, "Get on with it. What's the great news?"

"You got the job!" Alfred cheered.

Arthur's heart started racing. He didn't know what news the alpha had but this wasn't at all what he was expecting Alfred to say. "No bloody way."

"Yes!" Alfred exclaimed. "That's not even the best part. Antonio, Romano's husband, was able to pull a few strings so you can take classes as soon as September. It will be completely free for you as long as you work full-time."

"So I don't have to do an interview or anything? The job is officially mine?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shook his head. "Usually you would have to but I guess they're in a bind. Besides, I think Antonio's recommendation was enough to get you hired."

"This is amazing. I can't believe this is happening," Arthur remarked. "Do you know when they want me to start working?"

The smile fell from Alfred's face for a second before he forced himself to smile again. "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that part. If you want them to cover your classes this Fall, then you have to start working Monday, August third..."

"That's next week..." Arthur said with a bit of a pout. Somehow he didn't realize that changing jobs meant giving up his lunches with Alfred. "I guess this is my last week here."

"Yeah..." Alfred said more sadly than he intended. "It's super amazing that you got the job though."

Arthur smiled at the alpha. It was clear that Alfred was having a tough time with this but Arthur appreciated Alfred's support. "I'll have to talk to my boss and ask if a one week notice is sufficient. I'm sure it'll be fine though."

"What if they weren't okay with a one week notice?" Alfred asked

"I honestly don't give a shite," Arthur said with a smirk.

It was such an unexpected answer that Alfred couldn't help but laugh.

 


 

Alfred started eating lunch alone the following Monday. Not only was it strange eating alone it was also lonely. The alpha had been accustomed to spending his lunches with the omega, and even with all the drama that had happened between them in the last few months Alfred missed sharing his lunch with Arthur.

Meanwhile, Arthur barely noticed Alfred's absence. It wasn't that he didn't miss seeing the alpha, Arthur just had too much to deal with to have any extra time or energy to miss anyone. His new job was further away so Arthur had to wake up over an hour earlier in order to arrive there on time. It took three buses to get to the university.

The nearest bus stop for the first bus took Arthur at least fifteen minutes to walk to, and that was if he walked briskly. He took this bus all the way to the bus station, which took about a half hour. The last stop before the bus station was actually by Alfred's apartment.

After he arrived at the bus station, Arthur switched buses there and rode it for fifteen minutes before getting on his final bus which took about ten minutes. Excluding the time it took to walk to the bus stops, the whole commute took just under an hour if all of the buses were on time and if he didn't miss any.

Arthur's new commute made him exhausted before his day even began. If that wasn't bad enough, he was constantly overwhelmed by the consistent barrage of social interactions he was forced to endure. Arthur not only had to get to know his new coworkers but he also had to speak to dozens of students who either had questions about forms or needed to submit forms. It was never-ending.

Even though Arthur was able to spend his lunches alone, it wasn't enough to recharge from interacting with so many people. Besides, he didn't spend his lunch breaks in leisure. Arthur often used his breaks to eat while reading textbooks that he ordered early for his upcoming semester.

Although Arthur didn't constantly think about Alfred, he started using the gold ribbon from Alfred's Valentine's Day gift as a bookmark. Subconsciously, whenever Arthur started to miss Alfred, he would touch the part of the ribbon that stuck out from his textbook. Sometimes he would even hold the ribbon while he was reading.

Arthur's heat in August started two weeks late. He was so stressed from his new job that his heat cycle was thrown off. Arthur wished he could just lie in bed cuddled up with Alfred until he drifted off to sleep. Each day Arthur wanted to ask Alfred to come over, but he fought the desire to contact the alpha.

Arthur started feeling better by the end of the month even though his schedule became even more overwhelming. His classes started the first week of September, so he had to deal with classmates on top of coworkers and the random students that he was required to speak to at work. He was only taking two classes but even that felt like too much since he was also working full-time. Arthur simply didn't have the time or the energy to see anyone on the weekends anymore, especially when the weekends were the only chance Arthur had to catch up on sleep.

His heat in September was a week early and was as awful as it had been in August. Somehow, Arthur resisted the temptation to invite Alfred over and spent the heat alone instead. When Arthur wasn't in heat, he didn't even consider inviting Alfred over, which was difficult for Alfred to understand since he was happy just sitting in the same room as the omega.

Alfred asked several times if they could hang out but Arthur declined every offer Alfred made. Soon Alfred stopped asking to see the omega. Although he still didn't understand why Arthur needed space, especially since they weren't seeing each other in person at all, Alfred tried not to take it personally and he did his best to accept that this was what Arthur needed.

Toward the end of September Arthur finally felt like he could handle a weekend with some social interaction. He sent a text to the alpha and invited him over the last Saturday of the month. Arthur spent the morning cleaning up his apartment before Alfred arrived. It was noon when Arthur heard a knock at his door.

"Hey," Arthur greeted.

"Hey, Artie," Alfred said as he eagerly hugged the omega. "Long time no see!"

Arthur closed his eyes as he nuzzled his face against Alfred's neck. It was so nice to be in Alfred's arms again and to smell the alpha's scent. It had been far too long.

"Come in," Arthur said as he pulled away. "Would you fancy a drink? I can get you a cuppa or some coffee?"

"Sure, a cup of coffee would be great," Alfred answered. As Arthur walked into the kitchen, Alfred slowly approached the couch. He couldn't sit on it though, not after what happened the last time he sat on it four months ago.

Memories of that moment came flooding back. Arthur's naked body was permanently etched into Alfred's memory so Alfred often had to ignore thoughts of that night because they were so emotional and so arousing.

Sometimes Alfred regretted not having sex with Arthur. It didn't happen often but there were times when he feared that Arthur wouldn't ever want to be in a serious relationship with anyone and was only interested in having sex. When he had those fears about Arthur, he couldn't help but regret not having sex with Arthur at least one of the many times the opportunity had presented itself.

"Here you are," Arthur said, bringing Alfred out of his thoughts. "I hope you like it."

"Thanks," Alfred said with a half smile as he took the coffee from the Englishman.

Arthur was the first to sit down. He sat down on the side of the couch that was closest to the armchair, just like he typically did. The omega was so calm that Alfred started to calm down too, so he sat down on the opposite side of the couch but avoided touching the armrest that he had once dug his nails into.

"Do you like the coffee?" Arthur asked, cutting through the silence.

"Yeah. Thanks," Alfred said after drinking another few sips. "So tell me, how's school going?"

Arthur had the biggest grin on his face. "Frankly, I can't believe I'm back in university. I mean, it's a bit mad, innit? In a brilliant way, of course, but totally mad."

Alfred grinned back at the omega. Suddenly, any exasperated feelings Alfred had felt from not being able to see Arthur in the last two months completely disappeared.

"That's good to hear. So your classes are going well?" Alfred asked.

The omega nodded. "Yeah. It's brutal. I have to read like a hundred pages every week, but I'm able to read my textbooks during lunch so that helps out a bit. I'm not getting much sleep but that's the classic life of a college student, innit?"

"That's true," Alfred said. He was tempted to tell Arthur how much he missed him during lunch but decided against it. Arthur didn't have any control over that, and the omega was already dealing with a lot. The last thing he needed was to feel bad or guilty about how Alfred felt. So instead Alfred asked, "When do you think you'll get your degree?"

"If all goes well, probably the end of next year," Arthur said as he smiled at Alfred. It was crazy that he was having this conversation. He still couldn't believe that he was back in university. "I'm just taking two classes this semester. I should be adjusted to being back to school by the end of the year, so it should be easier to take three classes the next two semesters."

"That's amazing, Artie! I'm so happy for you," Alfred exclaimed, then he asked, "Do you have any homework this weekend?"

"Most of it is done. I'll finish the rest tomorrow," Arthur answered. He blushed slightly as he looked away from Alfred. "I... I want to thank you for making all of this happen. I don't know when I would have gone back to university if it weren't for you."

"Antonio was the one who got you the job," Alfred said.

"Yes, but it was your idea for me to work at a college so my tuition could be covered. It was your connections that led to me getting this job," Arthur explained. He hesitated before taking Alfred's hand. "I need you to know how much this means to me, Alfie."

Alfred blushed when he felt the omega's hand over his. "You don't have to thank me, Artie. I'm just happy that I was able to help."

It was a long moment before Alfred pulled his hand away. He ran his fingers through his hair as he asked, "How's, um... how's your boyfriend taking all of this?"

"My what? Oh," Arthur said as panic overtook him. He decided to play it off as nonchalantly as he could manage. "He was never my boyfriend. Anyroad, I ended it ages ago and haven't seen him since."

The shock on Alfred's face made Arthur feel even guiltier.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Alfred asked, his scent becoming a little bitter with anger.

Arthur shrugged in another attempt to appear calm and collected. "It honestly didn't cross my mind. It was never anything serious. Anyroad, do you feel like watching a movie? Maybe we could make some popcorn or something?"

"Anyroad? What do you mean 'anyroad'?" Alfred asked. He still wanted to talk about Francis but it was clear that Arthur was ready to drop the subject and Alfred supposed he didn't really have anything important to ask. Arthur just told him everything he wanted and needed to know about Francis. Besides, talking about the Frenchman only made Alfred feel angry.

The omega was glad that Alfred didn't ask more about the Frenchman. Arthur acted frustrated as he said, "Oh, you bloody Yanks. It's the same as saying 'anyway'."

"I never heard anyone say 'anyroad' before but that's cool," Alfred mumbled.

"So... would you fancy watching a movie?" Arthur asked again.

"Sure," Alfred sighed.

"Would you like any snacks?" Arthur asked.

"Popcorn would be awesome, thanks," Alfred said as his scent went back to normal.

"Brilliant," Arthur replied a little too enthusiastically. "Why don't you pick a movie while I make us some popcorn?"

"Alright," Alfred said.

Alfred picked an action romance movie while Arthur microwaved their popcorn. They shared the bowl of popcorn while watching the movie. Every so often their hands would touch when they reached in for more popcorn but neither moved their hand away when this happened.

When the movie ended, they decided to cook dinner. Alfred's phone rang after they were done eating, so he went to look for it. Just before it stopped ringing, Alfred found the phone on the couch.

"Hey, Matt," Alfred said loudly enough for the Brit to hear.

Arthur nodded before he went to clean up the mess they made in the kitchen. Alfred sat down on the couch as he continued talking to Matthew. By the time Arthur finished cleaning all the dishes, Alfred was done talking on the phone.

"How is your brother?" Arthur asked as he joined the alpha on the couch.

"He's okay... He wants me to stay over for a week since his mate had to go out of town for business. Mattie doesn't know how to drive so he wants someone there since the surrogate is almost at nine months," Alfred explained. "And it sounds like Mattie's sick so he also needs someone to help take care of the surrogate."

"That's a good point. The baby could come at any moment," Arthur exclaimed. He pursed his lips before saying, "I don't know how surrogacy works in the states but in the UK you have to be careful. The surrogate actually has all the legal rights and can keep the baby after birth if they choose not to sign away their rights."

"Seriously? That's insane," Alfred said. "I'm like super sure it's different here. They went through an agency and signed a bunch of papers already. I don't think a surrogate can get away with keeping the baby after being paid almost a hundred thousand dollars."

"A hundred thousand dollars?" Arthur repeated in surprise. "Huh. Well, it's probably fine then... It's good that you're going."

"Yeah... but Matt lives in upstate New York. It's a long drive so I would have to leave early in the morning... so I guess I should head out..."

"It's okay, I understand," Arthur reassured the alpha.

"Thanks. I'm sorry that we can't finish our weekend plans."

"It's okay, Al. I'm happy we got to see each other today."

"You can probably come along if you'd like," Alfred offered. "My brother would be happy to meet you."

It was a tempting but overwhelming offer. "I don't think I'll be able to take off work and I don't want to get behind in school," Arthur said.

Alfred shook his head. "Right, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking."

"It's okay. I appreciate the offer," Arthur said as he hugged Alfred. "Have a safe drive."

"I'll see you soon," Alfred said as he hugged Arthur back.

 

Chapter Text

Alfred woke up at three o'clock the next morning. He always had the tendency to forget something when he left home, so he woke up earlier than he needed to so he could double check what he packed. Once he was sure that he had everything he needed, he took a shower before making himself a quick breakfast. He checked his backpack and duffle bag a third time before carrying them with him. It was a little after four o'clock when he left.

The roads were empty aside from the occasional speeding car passed by Alfred on the highway. The sun was just rising when Alfred got near his brother's place. He made a quick stop by a gas station to buy some coffee. While he was waiting on the coffee, he texted his brother to let him know that he was close. As he was waiting, he decided to buy a bag of chips, cookies, and a small bottle of maple syrup.

"Here's your coffee. Paper or plastic?" the cashier asked after Alfred paid for everything.

"Oh, I don't need a bag," Alfred said as he added some maple syrup to the coffee. "Thanks."

Alfred closed the maple syrup before putting it as well as the chips and cookies inside the reusable bag that Arthur had given him. Then he grabbed the coffee and walked out of the small gas station shop. When he got in his car, he placed the coffee in the car's insulated cup holder before he started driving again.

It took fifteen minutes for Alfred to reach Matthew's place. The house was large, white, and had two driveways on either side of it. There were two cars parked in the driveway on the right side of the house. On the car closest to the street was a bumper sticker of the flag of Botswana while the other car had a bumper sticker of the flag of Ghana. The American was only familiar with the flags of four countries, one of which was the United States of America, of course; so he didn't recognize either of flags on the bumper stickers.

The driveway to the left of the house was empty and led down to the basement door. Alfred parked his car in the empty driveway before he texted his brother to let him know that he was there. He grabbed the bag of snacks and slid the handles around his wrist before grabbing the coffee, then he went to the basement door and knocked.

Matthew was hunched over and leaning against the door for support when he opened it. His skin was pale, making the bond mark on his neck stand out more than usual. Behind his glasses were puffy bloodshot eyes. His hair was wild and his nose pink from all the times he had to blow his nose. Despite clearly being sick, he wore a tank top and shorts.

"Dude! You know you should wear actual clothes when you answer the door. It's cold out here! No wonder you got sick," Alfred stated.

"Hello to you too, big brother," Matthew said weakly. He grinned when he saw the small cup in Alfred's hand. "Is that a double double?"

"Yep! Coffee with two sugars and two creams, just the way you like it, and — there's some maple syrup in it," Alfred said with a grin.

Matthew took the cup of coffee and smelled it. "Nothing like the smell of coffee in the morning, eh? Thank you, Alfie," Matthew said before glancing at the bag Alfred was holding. "Is that all you have? You didn't forget your knapsack, did you?"

"Nope, the rest of my stuff is in the car. I'll get it later. I'm just too excited to see my little brother," Alfred declared as he wrapped an arm around Matthew's waist and helped him walk inside.

There was a couch, coffee table, and television near the door, so Alfred helped his brother walk over to the couch.

"Thanks for coming," Matthew said as they both sat down on the couch.

"Any time," Alfred said as he moved the coffee table closer to the couch so Matthew could rest his feet on it. "So where is your surrogate? What's her name again?"

"Elizabeta. She's asleep in the baby's room. She's been living with us since she divorced her husband," Matthew said.

"Oh yeah, that really sucked," Alfred said.

"Yeah. I don't know, eh. I guess getting pregnant brought up a lot of issues they were having even though the baby isn't hers. There were other problems too between them but it's not really my business to share, you know," Matthew said before sneezing. Alfred grabbed the box of tissues beside him and handed one to his brother. Matthew quickly blew his nose.

"It's cool, I totally understand. Does she know I'm here?" Alfred asked.

"Obviously," Matthew answered before sneezing again. "Ugh. At least what I have isn't contagious."

Alfred just gave Matthew a smile.

"We're doing our best to keep her comfortable," Matthew said as he curled up in his blankets and leaned back into the couch. He took in a deep breath and started to smile. "It's kinda unbelievable, eh? In a month I'm gonna be a parent!"

"I know, and I'm gonna be an uncle," Alfred said with a grin. "Do you know what you wanna be called?"

It was a common enough question to ask new parents, although the answer was usually predictable. Male alphas typically preferred to be called "Dad", "Papa", "Father", etc. Female alphas and omegas often preferred being called "Mom", "Mama", "Mother", etc.

Male omegas were a little different. As a whole, male omegas were more evenly split between using "feminine" and "masculine" parental names. The same applied to what nieces and nephews referred to them as. Some male omegas were called aunts while others were called uncles. It was all a matter of preference since these terms were based on a person's gender and personality rather than their biological sex.

"I don't know yet," Matthew answered with a shrug. "I mean, we called Dad 'Dad'... Do you think he and Mom would think it's weird if my baby calls me 'Mom'?"

"What? No," Alfred answered, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "You know they won't care."

Matthew sniffled and rubbed his nose. "I don't know, maybe 'Dad' is better... it's hard to decide. I hope it'll be clear once I'm holding my baby in my arms," Matthew said. Then he started to chuckle. "Gil wants to be called 'Father' of all things. I think it's too formal but that's what he likes."

"Hmm... Oh, I forgot. I got these for you," Alfred said as he pulled the chips and cookies out of his bag. "I wasn't sure if you were too sick to eat thes—"

"Nope! Sorry for interrupting," Matthew said as he took the snacks from his brother. He had trouble holding everything, so Alfred held the cup of coffee for him. "Did I mention that you are the best brother ever?"

Alfred grinned. "Anything for the best little brother in the world."

Matthew grinned back at Alfred. "So... how's she bootin'er?" Matthew asked as he opened the pack of cookies and started munching on them.

"Eh," Alfred replied. "Work's okay. I'm trying to get a promotion. An alpha can never make too much money, right? I think I might be close to getting one. My boss gives me a lot of compliments all the time. She really seems to like my work."

"That would be wonderful," Matthew said while eating another cookie. "So are you dating yet? Or are you still waiting on that one omega to come around even though he's dating another alpha?"

Of course Matthew went straight to that. Alfred was hoping that Matthew wouldn't bring up Arthur but the Canadian had gotten very bold since he married Gilbert.

"Arthur broke up with him," Alfred said, then he remembered the conversation he recently had with the Englishman. "Actually, they weren't even dating. It was just a sex thing."

"So you two are together now?" Matthew asked while opening the bag of chips.

Alfred rubbed his forehead. It was too early for this. "No... I was hoping something would happen between me and Arthur but," Alfred hesitated before he continued, "I don't know. He knows I'm interested so I guess he'll tell me if he ever wants more than sex from me."

"You had sex with him?" Matthew asked with wide eyes.

The alpha shook his head. "No, but he wanted to have sex with me. It was a whole big thing. He used to ask me to sleepover during his heat and I would and, well, it's kinda complicated."

"Don't be such a hoser," Matthew laughed. "He was obviously into you."

"It's not that simple. He's had sex with alphas before," Alfred said with a small frown. "Like, in a casual non-relationship way. So it doesn't really mean anything that he wanted to have sex with me."

"Oh, well, I don't know aboot that," Matthew commented.

Alfred glanced down and noticed that Matthew had already finished half of the cookies and chips. "Are you hungry for some actual food? I can cook something for you."

"And since when do you cook?" Matthew snarked. "The last thing I need is for the house to burn down! The family upstairs would kill us."

Alfred lightly flicked his finger against Matthew's forehead. "Shush. I know how to cook now."

"No freakin' way," Matthew said in disbelief. "How did you learn how to cook?"

"Arthur taught me," Alfred answered.

Matthew raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Really? Well... Let's see what you can do, eh."

Alfred stood up and cracked his knuckles. "Is there anything the surrogate is craving or doesn't eat? I can make enough for all of us."

"Elizabeta can eat just about anything except pickles and fish," Matthew said. "She's craving salty foods but she'll be fine if she eats chips with whatever you make."

"Got it," Alfred said before he went kitchen. He opened the refrigerator to see what he had to work with. He took out all the vegetables he could find and placed them on the counter. Since Matthew was sick, he decided to make soup.

He filled a pot with water and seasoned it before turning on the fire. While waiting for it to boil, Alfred cleaned and chopped the vegetables. Once the water came to a boil, he dumped everything in and added even more seasoning. After the soup was ready, Alfred fixed a bowl for his brother and placed it on a tray before walking back to the couch.

"Here you go," Alfred declared proudly as he brought the soup to the omega.

Matthew's eyes widened from surprise. "This actually looks... pretty decent."

"Gee, thanks," Alfred said sarcastically as he set the tray on Matthew's lap. Before Matthew could try a sip, Alfred quickly said, "It's just vegetable soup. It would taste better if I had more to add to it."

"Whoa, it actually tastes pretty good. It's not as good as my cooking, clearly," Matthew teased, which made Alfred roll his eyes, "But it's really good, eh. So Arthur was the one who taught you how to cook like this?"

Alfred nodded. "Yep. Just a few things."

Matthew shook his head after he took another few sips. "I can't believe you learned how to make soup. You didn't even know how to boil water!"

"I know," Alfred laughed. "Arthur is pretty amazing."

"You said he works with you, eh?" Matthew asked while eating.

Alfred shook his head. "He used to work in my building but he works at a university now so he could go back to college as a part-time student."

"Wow... That's commendable... He seems pretty unusual for an omega. How old is he again?" Matthew questioned.

"Twenty-six," Alfred answered.

"And he doesn't have any children?" Matthew asked.

Alfred shook his head again. "No, but he wants kids."

Matthew didn't say anything else. He just focused on eating the rest of the food. Once he was done eating, he looked at Alfred and asked, "Does it bother you that he slept with a lot of people?"

"Who said he slept with a lot of people?" Alfred quickly asked in a raised voice.

Matthew rolled his eyes. He didn't know why his brother was acting so defensively. "Sorry, let me reword that... Would it bother you if it turns out that he had sex with a lot of people?"

"No, but," Alfred paused as he thought over his answer. He thought about this a lot since he found out that Arthur had sex with more than twenty-five people. It never made him feel any less interested or attracted to the omega but it did make him feel a little wary. "If we ever had sex, I don't want it to be because he's super cool with casually having sex with anyone. I want it to be because he's actually interested in me; because he wants a future with me. Besides, he said he wanted to wait."

"I thought you said he just wanted sex?" Matthew asked.

"I mean, well, yeah but, ah. It's complicated," Alfred sighed.

"So?" Matthew asked.

"Okay, fine. Well, remember when I told you that Arthur invited me over on Valentine's Day? We had this long discussion and he said he didn't think it was possible to fall in love without being just friends for at least two years first, so I was trying to wait for us to be friends for two years before we did anything," Alfred explained.

"I can understand that," Matthew said. "I mean I was lucky with Gil. He was my first and only."

Alfred resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He wasn't the biggest fan of Matthew's husband.

"Yeah... So, are you done with the soup? I can clean the dishes for you," Alfred offered.

"In a bit," Matthew said, taking the hint that Alfred didn't want to talk any further.

Once Matthew was done eating, Alfred took the bowl and left to do the dishes. Matthew had fallen asleep by the time he was done, so Alfred turned on the television and lowered the volume so it wouldn't wake up his brother.

It was sometime later in the day that Alfred met Elizabeta. She was a very short woman, maybe five foot three, but her large breasts and protruding belly made her look several inches shorter than that. She wore all green which only made her look like a tent or a bare Christmas tree, not that Alfred said any of this to her. She walked in a bit of a wobble as she went into the kitchen. Alfred had rushed over to her to introduce himself and offer her a bowl of soup. Fortunately for Alfred, she really liked the soup and instantly liked Alfred because of it.

The rest of the week went by smoothly. Alfred cooked meals and prepared snacks for his brother and Elizabeta every day. He made sure Matthew had tissues and took his cold medication. Elizabeta often kept to herself but Alfred offered to help her walk and sit whenever he saw her. Sometimes she joined them to watch television on the couch. Alfred even had a chance to feel the baby kick a few times.

On the last day, Matthew was feeling a lot better and was able to take over the cooking and cleaning. Alfred had moved his car out of the driveway and parked it by the curb instead so he wouldn't be blocked in once Gilbert got back home. After eating lunch, all three of them spent a few hours on the couch watching television while waiting for Gilbert to get home.

Alfred wasn't looking forward to seeing Gilbert. He didn't like Gilbert much at all. In fact, he had been surprised when Matthew chose the alpha as a mate. Yet, the two seemed really happy together. It really baffled the American.

Gilbert was a smug and boisterous man who could sometimes be more than a little obnoxious. His only redeeming quality, in Alfred's opinion, was that Gilbert was a clean and tidy person. He was usually the one who did the chores, which was something Alfred liked since it meant less work for Matthew.

When Elizabeta left to go sleep in her room, Alfred turned to Matthew and said, "Can I ask you something?"

"Eh?" Matthew asked, glancing over to his brother. "Sure. What aboot?"

"What made you choose Gilbert as a mate?" Alfred asked.

"That's a random question, eh?" Matthew commented.

"I know. Arthur and I had dinner with Ludwig and Feliciano the other day and we saw a guy who dated Felic's brother in high school and I don't know. I guess it made me think back to our high school days and you just said how your mate's your first and only so I guess I was just wondering?" Alfred said in a bit of a rant.

"You went on a double date?" Matthew asked.

"What? No. Just two friends and a married couple having dinner together. That doesn't make it a double date," Alfred said gingerly.

"If you say so, eh," Matthew said almost teasingly. "Well, to answer your question... Gil was a really nice guy and we were both ready to start a family."

Alfred waited for Matthew to continue but the Canadian didn't say anything else.

"Is that all?" Alfred asked.

Matthew nodded. "Pretty much, yeah."

"That's seriously the only reasons why you married him?" Alfred asked with furrowed eyebrows.

"Yeah, eh. Most of you alphas were going to start college or move away from the northeast. I like living in New England and I didn't want to wait to start a family."

"But I'm sure there were other alphas who were ready to start a family without moving super far away. Your husband wasn't your only option," Alfred said before pausing. He hesitated before admitting, "To be honest... I always thought your mate was really lame. I really think you could have found a better alpha, little bro."

The omega rolled his eyes. "I already knew you thought that."

Alfred's eyebrows lifted from surprise. "You knew? But I never told you."

Matthew laughed at this. "You didn't have to. You're my big brother. I know you."

This made Alfred laugh too. "That's true."

"Yeah... I know Gil's rough around the corners," Matthew said softly. "But he saw me when I was invisible to everyone else."

"Invisible?" Alfred asked with furrowed eyebrows. "You weren't invisible. I saw you."

"Of course you saw me. You're my brother, eh. But the only time other people noticed me was when they bullied me or recognized me as your brother."

"What about Feliciano and Ludwig? They noticed you. And they were your friends."

"Yeah but only because I was your brother. It was different with Gil... he always saw me for me. He protected me and he always made me laugh. He's a lot like you in that way," Matthew said, making Alfred cringe. He chuckled from his big brother's reaction. "It's true, eh! He's really strong and dedicated and he always has so much energy. I don't know, I always really liked him."

"But you weren't in love when you chose him as a mate?" Alfred asked.

Matthew shook his head. "I grew to love him eventually."

"He loved you though, right?" Alfred asked.

"Of course! He stuck by me when I struggled to get pregnant. Gil easily could have left me to find another omega but he didn't. He didn't want to start a family with anyone else," Matthew answered. "Sorry, but where are all these questions coming from anyway? Is this really just because of your double date?"

Alfred sighed as he looked at his brother. "It's not just that. I may not like your husband but I want what you two have. I want a mate and I wanna start a family sometime soon."

"There are plenty of great omegas out there who are ready to start a family right now," Matthew stated.

"Yeah... but they aren't Arthur."

"Mm-hmm. So what you really want is a future with Arthur," Matthew said. Alfred didn't say anything in response to this. "I hope you're sure about Arthur because things with that omega won't be easy."

"Hey!" Alfred exclaimed.

"Sorry, I didn't mean any offense, big brother," Matthew apologized. "But relationships take work and compromises. Happiness doesn't just magically happen, especially when your happiness partly depends on someone else."

"I don't know if that's true when you're with the right person," Alfred muttered.

"Eh, I know it seems like Dad and Mom had everything but even they had to make compromises. If you want something easy or if you want a family right now then you need to find another omega. If you want to be with Arthur then you have to be patient, and that still doesn't guarantee that you two will end up together."

"I guess that's true," Alfred reluctantly said.

"Nothing is easy, Alfie. You have to work for what you want. I love my husband and our relationship, but it doesn't come easy. There were a lot of compromises we both had to make."

"I know," Alfred grumbled.

"Sorry, but you don't know," Matthew said in a serious voice. "Gilbert hates living in this basement. He wanted to get us a townhouse or duplex but I needed so many fertility treatments, and then we got a surrogate. It was all so much money. Gil used all of his savings to pay for everything. He had to quit the company he loved to work at for one he hates since it offered a much higher salary."

"I didn't know that..." Alfred said. "Why didn't you ask Dad and Mom for help? They could have given you money."

Matthew sighed as he looked down at his lap. "They've given me so much already... I couldn't ask for more."

"What are you saying? Of course you could have! We're your family, Mattie. There's nothing we wouldn't do for you. You know that," Alfred stated earnestly.

"They wouldn't have been able to go traveling if they gave us that money," Matthew argued.

"Do you really think they care about traveling more than they care about you?" Alfred asked.

"No... I know they don't but it was their dream to do that when they retired. I didn't want to take that away from them," Matthew quietly answered.

"Mattie, that's insane. I don't know how you can say something like that. You know that they would have —"

"Sorry but I need to use the washroom," Matthew said as he got up.

Alfred swallowed down the rest of his words and crossed his arms over his chest as he waited for Matthew to get back.

 

Chapter Text

The moment Matthew got out of the bathroom, he felt a little nervous about continuing the conversation he was having with his brother, so he went to check on Elizabeta to make sure she was okay. When he saw that Elizabeta was still asleep, he walked into the living room and found Alfred impatiently waiting on the couch. He sighed as he sat down beside his brother.

"Sorry," Matthew said, although he wasn't sure why he felt like he needed to apologize.

Alfred was quiet for a moment before saying, "I wish you lived closer to me. Maybe it would have been easier for you to tell me about these things if you did, and then I could have talked to Dad and Mom for you."

"I would love to live closer to you but Gilbert loves this area and he has more job opportunities here," Matthew said.

"There aren't any jobs in Pennsylvania?" Alfred asked.

"If you were dating Arthur and he had to move away to attend a university, wouldn't you move with him? Actually, let's say he didn't have to go to a different university but he just wanted to. Maybe he just wanted a change of scenery or something, or maybe he didn't have any reasons at all. Wouldn't you still move with him anyway?" Matthew asked.

In a heartbeat — that was the answer that immediately came to Alfred's mind. He wasn't going to say that to Matthew though.

"It just seems really unfair," Alfred said instead.

"Yeah. But that's what I was saying before. No one is absolutely perfect, so no relationship can be perfect, eh? People have to compromise to make things work," Matthew stated.

Alfred frowned a bit. It was starting to sound like Matthew was giving up a lot to be in this relationship. "You know... most people wouldn't leave their mate because of fertility difficulties. I don't know if your husband should be praised just because he stayed with you."

Matthew hesitated before saying, "I'm not perfect, Al... Being with me isn't easy..."

"What are you saying, lil' bro? You're totally perfect," Alfred exclaimed with a grin.

"No, I'm not," Matthew asserted. "It took a lot of effort to figure out a way to make our relationship work."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm... Well, I don't really know what the word for it is but I'm... I'm not really attracted to people, sexually," Matthew said. When Alfred winced, Matthew quickly muttered, "Sorry!"

Alfred didn't respond right away. He was quiet for a moment before finally saying, "I don't really know what that means..."

"Well... I guess it's a roundaboot way of saying that I don't really like having sex?" Matthew guessed. "Sorry, I don't know how to explain it any clearer than that."

Matthew waited for Alfred to say something but his brother wasn't even looking at him. There was a long stretch of silence before Matthew reluctantly continued. "Gil did some research aboot it while we were just dating. He said I might be demisexual, aromantic, asexual, and other terms I don't remember."

Alfred wasn't comfortable talking about sex, especially with his family. But he could tell this was important, so he pushed himself to move past his discomfort. With a calming breath, he looked at Matthew and asked, "So none of those described you?"

"I don't remember what the terms mean but one of them seemed to fit me pretty well, but so did another one... I just, I don't know. I don't really care aboot labels. I know what I like and what I don't like. That should be good enough, eh?"

"I guess so but I dunno..." Alfred mumbled. "Maybe the issue is your mate? Maybe you feel that way because of him? Because he's not the right person for you?"

"It's not Gil's fault," Matthew immediately asserted. "I just don't like sex."

"But sex is kinda a big deal in relationships," Alfred responded.

"It is, eh? If that's so true then why haven't you done it yet?" Matthew shot back. Then his eyes widened from the words he just said. "Sorry!"

"You know?" Alfred squeaked.

"That you're a virgin? Of course I know," Matthew said with an amused grin.

"But how? I never said anything..."

"You're my brother. It wasn't hard to notice. You always boast about things you do. Even when you don't, you have this face you make when you hold back from bragging. You never got that way when Dad and Mom asked us about our dating lives."

"Do you think they know too?" Alfred asked, his eyes still wide from shock and horror.

"I don't know, probably," Matthew laughed. "It's not a big deal, Al, really. You're totally overreacting. I really don't know why you're so secretive aboot it."

Alfred shook his head. "I'm not overreacting. I'm twenty-two years old. Most alphas have slept with five omegas by now and have already found their mate."

"But you're still alive and happy and you have a good life. Not having sex hasn't ruined anything for you," Matthew said. "So obviously not having sex isn't a big deal."

Catching on to what Matthew was referring to, Alfred said, "But I'm not married. It's different for you and your mate. Aren't you, like, missing out?"

"We do have sex, I just don't really enjoy the sex part," Matthew said.

"Oh... Well, there's, uh, there's a bunch of different ways to, um, do it," Alfred stammered. He tried to play it cool but his face was burning red from how uncomfortable he felt. "You just gotta find what works for you."

"No, it's not that. We've tried different things, I just don't like having sex..."

Alfred's focus suddenly settled on the bite mark on Matthew's neck and he became overwhelmed with anger and worry. "Wait, he doesn't force you to have sex, does he?"

"What? No! Of course not! Gil can't make me do anything," Matthew quickly reassured his brother. When Alfred's scent still smelled sharp and sour, Matthew decided to elaborate. "Gil has never hurt me in any kind of way. And no one has ever abused me sexually. I just don't like sex."

"That's good to know..." Alfred mumbled while still staring at the teeth marks permanently scarred on his brother's neck. "So he didn't force you to be marked?"

"Oh, that?" Matthew asked while touching the side of his neck. "That was my idea, actually..."

"But you don't like —"

"I know but I didn't want anyone to question that I was mated," Matthew explained.

"I don't think anyone would question that. I mean you definitely smell like him," Alfred stated with a bit of a frown since he never liked smelling Gilbert's scent on Matthew. "It's clear that he's scenting you."

"Yeah, Gil scents me regularly, especially while we're cuddling. I guess I just didn't want there to be any doubts," Matthew murmured.

"So you did it for him?" Alfred asked.

"No, I wanted it for me. I guess... I guess to make up for, you know," Matthew quietly answered.

"Because you guys don't do it often?" Alfred guessed, his voice fluctuating a bit.

Matthew nodded.

Alfred took in a steadying breath before asking, "Why do you have sex at all if you don't like it?"

"Well, there are things I enjoy about it..." Matthew said before pausing.

"Uh huh," Alfred reluctantly encouraged.

Matthew smiled a bit, relieved that Alfred was letting him talk about this.

"Well," Matthew started. "I love how much he likes it and I like how close we get. I like listening to the sounds he makes, seeing how satisfied he looks, and other small things he does like how he touches me during it... but it's not sexual for me. It's not more enjoyable than when we cuddle. Actually, I love to cuddle and I love when he scents me, especially while we're cuddling. Cuddling is way better than sex."

Alfred had to hold his breath the whole time Matthew spoke. Hearing the intimate things Gilbert did with Matthew was horrifying. Alfred felt like he was dying. He couldn't believe he was having this discussion with his little brother.

But Matthew didn't have any friends that he saw in person and Alfred knew Matthew preferred talking about important things face to face. Alfred was sure Matthew had never shared any of this with anyone before, except maybe Gilbert. So Alfred folded his arms and discretely pinched the underside of his arms to help him appear calm and collected.

"That's... good... that you enjoy stuff," Alfred said for a lack of better words.

"Yeah," Matthew said, feeling better the more he talked. "And I like knotting more than sex because it's a lot like cuddling. He's not moving in me so we're just really close. And he's really tender and affectionate with me when we knot, like he holds me and he —"

"Okay," Alfred choked out. "I'm sorry. I'm your big brother and I'm trying to be here for you but this is a little too much. I mean we can keep talking but, um, knotting is just, I just can't handle talking about that."

"Sorry," Matthew said. "I guess I said a lot... I'm sorry, we can stop talking."

"No, it's totally cool to keep talking. Let's just stop using the k-word, okay?" Alfred said.

"Sure," Matthew said with a relieved smile. "Well, anyway, that's what I meant earlier by compromise. Gil doesn't have sex nearly as much as he wants and I'd rather not have sex at all. It's not a fifty-fifty compromise but we do the best we can so we can be happy together," Matthew explained.

"But you don't wanna do it at all so it just sounds really unfair to you. That's like a person not wanting kids 'compromising' by having one or two kids, especially if it's the omega since they have to carry the kid; unless they adopt or something I guess. There are some things you shouldn't compromise if it's that important to you," Alfred said.

"That's true but I really don't mind doing it sometimes for him. It's like... sitting through a sports game that someone else is enjoying but I have no interest in. I might not like watching the game but I like spending the time with who I'm watching the game with... but that doesn't mean I'll watch every game with him. It just means that I can watch a few of the games sometimes when I feel like I can, but no one forces me to sit through a game and I have the freedom to stop watching whenever I want, even if it's right in the middle," Matthew explained.

"Whoa... that makes a lot of sense," Alfred said.

"Yeah, I mean Gil would prefer if we had sex every day but we only have sex once or twice during my heat since my hormones make it easier for me to do it, and we have sex on his birthday," Matthew said.

"I think I preferred the sports analogy more," Alfred said which made Matthew laugh. Alfred smiled a bit before saying, "But seriously, Mattie, that doesn't sound that bad. Actually, it sounds pretty normal, especially for a married couple. They say married couples stop having sex once they start having kids since parenting is so time-consuming, and you two are gonna be parents any day now."

"Yeah, sure, but it took years for me to be okay with having sex that often. When we first got together he was lucky if we did it once every two or so months."

"Wow... that's, uh —"

"I know... That's not very often, eh?" Matthew remarked. He hesitated a bit before saying, "That's... That's actually why I thought we should try being in an open marriage."

"You what?" Alfred practically choked out.

"Just so he could have his sexual needs met. We never did though. Gil didn't like that idea at all," Matthew said.

"I don't blame him," Alfred muttered.

"I know you wouldn't support that idea but it seemed like it could have made things easier for us a lot faster," Matthew said. "At the beginning, we had no idea I would ever be okay with having sex every month. But even though we have sex more often than either of us ever thought I would, sometimes I still think being in an open marriage would make things easier for him."

"Why do you think that? Did he say something to you?" Alfred quickly asked.

Matthew shook his head. "No... he says he's happy with the way everything is and he never gets upset if we don't have sex at all."

"Then why do you think you need to be in an open marriage?" Alfred asked.

"I don't know... I mean, I can do sex but I just keep thinking... shouldn't he do this stuff with someone who actually likes sex? I'm sure it can't be very fun with me... And we're about to have a baby soon. You know omegas' heats change once we start raising kids so we'll probably have sex even less often."

Naturally, Alfred knew that the incessant sexual urges that accompanied an omega's heats often subsided once the omega started raising offspring. Almost everyone learned this in school when they took sex education. Caring for offspring superseded the need to reproduce. So although omegas weren't any less fertile and technically continued having heats, the diminished sexual urges made omegas far more capable of caring for their offspring during their heat once they became parents.

Since Matthew mostly only had sex with Gilbert when he was in heat, it was entirely possible that Matthew wouldn't be able to continue this if his sexual urges during his heat decreased after the baby came. If that was the case, Alfred could see why his brother would think having an open marriage would be a solution.

"Sex isn't just sex to everyone," Alfred said. "It's like... if Gilbert didn't like to cuddle or hug or scent, would you want to find someone else to do your cuddling and hugging and scenting with?"

"No, not really... It wouldn't be the same with someone else," Matthew muttered, suddenly understanding why Gilbert never gave the open marriage idea a try.

"See?" Alfred said. "Open relationships and palligallume—"

"Polygamy? Polymorist? Polyamorous?" Matthew offered.

"Yeah, those. Those things work for some people but not for everyone because we're all different. Like, I could never be in a relationship with someone who wanted to be with other people. I want to be enough for him."

"Well... maybe being with one person isn't enough for some people. Some people really love sex as much as I don't love it. And some people like being in a relationship with more than one person," Matthew said thoughtfully. Then he gingerly asked, "What if Arthur wasn't capable of being in a monogamous relationship?"

"What?" Alfred was dumbfounded by the question.

"Sorry... but from what you said, I wouldn't be surprised if he was polyamorous or someone who would like to keep his sexual freedom in a relationship."

"He's not like that," Arthur stated.

"But what if he was?" Matthew asked more seriously. "You're really in love with that omega. What if the only way to be with him is to share him with other people?"

The ultimatum never crossed Alfred's mind before but he instantly knew the answer.

"Then I," Alfred paused. It was hard to say the next words out loud. "Well, I... I wouldn't be able to be with him. I would still love him, I mean I'll always love Arthur... but it wouldn't work out."

"Why not? Is being monogamous really so important to you that you would let someone you love go?" Matthew asked.

"Yes," Alfred answered. "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with palig-uh-um, with people who like being in open relationships."

"Polyamorists," Matthew corrected. "Which is not really the same as being in an open relationship."

"Yeah, whatever. What I mean is that everyone has urges, you know? Everyone gets angry to the point where they want to punch or even kill someone but people usually resist that urge. People see something they really want in the store that they can't afford or don't wanna pay for but people usually don't steal it," Alfred said. "So I wouldn't want to be with someone who sees someone they're attracted to but would feel that they absolutely had to follow those feelings."

"Well, some would argue that you should be free to follow those urges and that it makes the relationship even stronger," Matthew said.

"Follow just your sexual urges but no other urges?" Alfred asked. "I don't get why following sexual impulses is that important. I don't have a problem with someone being like that but I don't wanna be in a relationship with someone who wants to be with other people. It would really hurt me to be with someone like that... I mean, Arthur would one hundred percent be enough for me. I would never want anyone else if we were together, so he should feel the same way, you know? I should be enough for him. I mean... if he ever really loved me then he should be totally cool with not being with other people."

"I'm so glad to hear you say that. It's great that you can admit that," Matthew exclaimed with a relieved look on his face.

Alfred furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "What?"

Matthew gave his brother a soft sympathetic smile. "You're a huge romantic, Al. You always do anything and everything you can to make a relationship work, even if it kills you."

"That's a little dramatic, bro."

"But it's true," Matthew countered. "Everyone you've ever dated only made you depressed but you never left because you always hoped things would get better even when they were clearly getting worse. You even stayed with that one omega who kept cheating on you."

"Oh yeah..." Alfred muttered. He didn't like to think about his past relationships.

"Yeah, eh. You used to just agree to whatever they wanted because you like being the 'hero' and making them happy," Matthew stated. Before Alfred could reply, Matthew continued, "Maybe that sounds nice and all but it isn't, Al. No relationship can survive if you aren't honest about your needs."

"Okay but I don't think Arthur is into open relationships though," Alfred said, his voice filled with doubt. "And I don't think he's a pa... um, a pah-lig-ga-mist."

Matthew gave him a sad smile. "Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Who knows, maybe he's as monogamous as you are. Just... if it turns out that he isn't who you think he is, please don't try to force it to work," he paused for a bit as he tried to figure out what to say next. "I'm betting that Arthur already knows how important monogamy is to you."

"He does," Alfred confirmed.

"Well... if he cares about you and knows that monogamy isn't for him then he won't pursue you," Matthew said. "I know that sounds awful but that's really the most considerate thing he can do for you if you're important to him. And the same would be true if it were the other way around."

"Sure, okay, but I really don't think he has a problem with being with just one person," Alfred insisted.

"Then... I don't know... He's not a typical omega, Alfie. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but you're used to things quickly going your way," Matthew said.

"That's not true," Alfred huffed.

"You know it is. Especially with Dad and Mom. They always give you anything you want — even if what you want has to do with me," Matthew stated. Before Alfred could protest, Matthew continued, "Like, most of the gifts I got on my birthdays were because you told them I wanted them."

"But I had to tell them. You never told them when you wanted or needed something," Alfred argued.

"I know," Matthew said softly. "But that's my point. You're used to getting people what they want. You're also used to getting your way. I don't think being with Arthur will be smooth sailings, at least not from the start. I just want you to know what you're in for if you two ever end up together."

"Thanks I guess," Alfred grumbled with a frown on his face.

"Eh, eh, eh! I'm not saying it won't work out if you two get together. Look at me and Gil. It was really tricky at first but everything worked out for us."

"That's true..." Alfred muttered. Then, with a smile, he said, "You know, I gotta say that I like your mate a lot more now that I know about, well, everything."

"Good. I would really like it if you two started to get along." Matthew was quiet for a moment before saying, "Thanks for listening earlier. I know this wasn't easy for you."

"No problem, lil' bro," Alfred said as he pulled his brother into a hug. "I love you, Mattie. And I hope you know that there's nothing wrong with you. You're totally perfect and awesome the way you are, and I'm super glad your mate is smart enough to see that too."

"Laying it on a bit thick, eh?" Matthew joked as he hugged his brother back.

"Just wanna make sure the message sinks in," Alfred said as he ruffled up Matthew's hair.

"Oi, stop that," Matthew laughed as he pushed Alfred's hand away. Then he smiled as he looked at his brother. "I love you too. I'm really glad that I have a big brother like you."

"And I'm lucky to have you as my little brother," Alfred said reassuringly as he kept an arm wrapped around Matthew's shoulder.

 

Chapter Text

At some point, Elizabeta woke up and joined Matthew and Alfred on the couch. Gilbert still hadn't gotten back yet so Matthew and Alfred started to talk about how exciting it will be once the baby was born. This led to Elizabeta sharing how excited she was to be a parent someday soon. She wasn't ready to date anyone after everything that happened with Roderich but she was ready to be a parent soon. Since she was paid so much money for being a surrogate, she felt that there was really no reason why she couldn't handle being a single parent.

"You can totally do it," Alfred reassured her. "One of my closest friends from high school only had one parent. His dad was kinda a deadbeat alpha who left when my friend was a baby, so Lud-um, my friend's mom had to be a single omega but she did a great job raising him."

"That's right," Matthew agreed. He wasn't as close to Ludwig since they all graduated from high school but he remembered how serious the German was with his studies so he could get a job that would allow him to support both his mom and his future family. "And having more than one parent isn't always so great either. Gil had both his parents growing up but his dad wasn't a good alpha, he was hardly around. His dad recently passed away so maybe I shouldn't be speaking ill of the dead but that man never did anything for Gil."

"See?" Alfred asked. "You don't need anyone else to become a parent."

"Yeah, eh? All you need are the directions to a good sperm bank," Matthew chuckled.

Alfred smiled awkwardly, still not entirely comfortable with talking about sperm and sex around his little brother.

"That's true, and I do have the money now, thanks to you," Elizabeth said while turning to give Matthew an appreciative look. "I just didn't think I would be in this situation. You know, Roderich didn't want me to be a surrogate but could never tell me why. I did it anyway because it's my life and this was the one thing I did for me. I mean I held off getting pregnant because of him for so many years... I just really wanted to feel what it was like to be pregnant."

"I can understand that..." Matthew said, absentmindedly touching his own stomach while glancing down at Elizabeta's protruding one.

"Yeah. I did so much for him to make our marriage work, so many things that I didn't care to do but did anyway because it meant so much to him. I really loved him and I couldn't wait to have a family with him. That was all I wanted and now," Elizabeth paused as she resisted the urge to cry. "Fuck, I'm so damn emotional. I wouldn't even be sharing any of this if I wasn't pregnant, although I guess I wouldn't be divorced either if I hadn't gone through with being a surrogate."

"I'm sorry," Matthew apologized.

"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that," Elizabeta quickly said.

"The divorce wasn't your fault," Alfred said.

"I know... I guess we weren't as compatible as I always thought," Elizabeta sighed. "Roderich always wanted us to have threesomes as if sex with me wasn't enough. I mean it didn't bother me to be inclusive because I loved Roderich but it wasn't what I would have chosen for myself. It's just unbelievable that I did so much for him and yet he couldn't be honest with me about the one thing that mattered the most to me."

"Sorry, that's really awful," Mathew said for a lack of better words.

"Yeah, this whole thing sucks," Alfred added.

"Yes, but... despite everything, Roderich was still my closest friend. He was important to me and we did have a connection, especially when it came to music. When we played music together and the sounds of our instruments harmonized, oh it was better than sex," Elizabeth exclaimed. "I think the worst part of all of this is that I lost my best friend."

"Well, you and I are like friends now. We can keep in touch after the delivery if you want," Matthew offered.

"Really?" Elizabeta asked.

"Yeah, you were talking aboot maybe living in New York. If you decide to move here then maybe our kids can become playmates. And if you don't decide to live here then there's always the phone, eh? We can talk and keep in touch," Mathew offered.

"I would like that," Elizabeta said with a smile.

Alfred smiled too as he watched them talk. It was nice seeing his little brother take initiative to make a new friend. Making new friends was hard as an adult, especially outside school environments.

It was then that there was a sound of jingling keys at the door as the handle turned. Gilbert pushed the door open with his shoulder since he was holding a briefcase and two suitcases, then he staggered inside.

"Hi, babe," Matthew greeted happily as he jumped up from the couch to give Gilbert a hug. The albino dropped everything in his hands to wrap his arms around Matthew and lift the omega in the air. Matthew nuzzled his nose against Gilbert's nose before pecking a kiss on the alpha's lips. "I missed you!"

"I missed you too, snookums," Gilbert said.

"Oh, I did not miss that nickname though," Matthew teased before adding an obligatory, "Sorry."

"Yeah, I forgot about that, baby," Gilbert chuckled as he gently set Matthew down. He kept his arm wrapped around Matthew's waist though.

"Hi, Gilbert," Alfred said with a slightly awkward grin.

Gilbert's eyes widened from shock. Matthew was surprised too because it was the first time that Alfred referred to Gilbert by his name. In fact, until a few days ago, Alfred only ever referred to Gilbert as "Matthew's husband" or "Matthew's mate".

"I think your brother was replaced by an alien, baby," Gilbert joked as he pulled Matthew closer.

"No, it's me, although aliens totally could do something like that," Alfred laughed. "Well, I should probably get going. I have a long drive back home."

Alfred hugged Elizabeta and said, "It was nice to meet you. I'm glad you and my brother are gonna be friends."

Elizabeta smiled and said, "I'm happy to have met you too. You're a pretty good cook... for an alpha."

Alfred laughed before walking to Matthew to give his brother a hug. "I love you, little bro. Tell me when the labor begins so I can come right over."

"I will," Matthew promised. "I love you too. Thank you for staying this week."

"Of course," Alfred said. He would usually leave at this point but this time he reached his hand out and patted Gilbert on the shoulder. "It was nice seeing you, man."

Gilbert scrunched his face up a bit in confusion. "It was nice seeing you too?"

"You're gonna be a great father, Gilbert. Both of you are gonna be great parents," Alfred said. Then he turned to Elizabeta and said, "You too, once you're ready."

"Seriously, what's wrong with you?" Gilbert asked. "You're not acting like your usual dumb ass self."

"I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that," Alfred said, determined to be nicer to Gilbert despite how annoying he found the alpha. "Alright, I gotta go. Good night everyone."

Alfred hugged Matthew one more time before he picked up his belongings. He was about to leave when he remembered that he still had the maple syrup in his bag.

"I forgot to give this to you earlier," Alfred said as he handed Matthew the maple syrup.

"You really are the best brother in the world," Matthew said in a half-serious half-joking sort of way.

Alfred laughed and hugged Matthew a final time. "I'll see you soon, lil' bro."

"Remember to keep your phone on," Matthew said.

"I will, you don't have to worry about that," Alfred said with a grin before leaving to head home.

 


 

After Alfred got back home, he asked to meet up with Arthur every weekend since he was no longer seeing the Englishman during the weekdays. Although they hadn't been spending their weekends together since the whole Francis debacle, Alfred used to see Arthur at least once during the weekend even if it was just for a few hours and the American really wanted to resume that again.

Arthur declined every offer though. Part of the reason was that Arthur had a lot going on with school and work, which was what he told Alfred.

Since Alfred couldn't see Arthur, Alfred spent his weekends spending time with Ludwig and Feliciano. Alfred didn't hear much from Arthur but this didn't bother him too much since he was anxiously waiting for Matthew's child to be born.

On Friday evening, October thirtieth, Alfred got a text from Matthew, saying:

Elizabeta is in labor!

The next text included the hospital name, room number, and address. Alfred's eyes widened when he read the group text and he reread it to be sure that he read it correctly. He quickly got dressed, packed a bag of clothes and rushed to the hospital.

Alfred got to the hospital at half past eleven. He didn't get any more texts from Matthew so Alfred was certain that the baby hadn't been born yet. His parents had sent messages in the chat so he knew they were already at the hospital.

Alfred went to the front desk to get a visitor sticker and to find out how to get to the room number Matthew had texted him. According to the hospital staff, Elizabeta would be on the third floor. Apparently, Alfred just had to walk straight down the hall when he got out of the elevator, then turn right and keep walking straight until he could turn left. It would be easy to know when he got to that point because his parents would likely be standing outside the delivery room while Matthew and Gilbert were probably inside with Elizabeta.

The ride up on the elevator was unbearably slow. Alfred anxiously tapped his foot as he waited to reach the third floor. When the elevator doors started to open, he didn't even wait for them to open all the way before leaping out.

Ahead of him was a long hallway that was practically desolate except for the two people sitting on a bench toward the end. As Alfred kept walking, the two figures in the distance became a little clearer. It was two men. The one closest toward Alfred had short dark hair and a slender frame. There was nothing about him to imply his dynamic, he easily could have been an alpha or an omega. The man on the other side of the dark-haired one was harder to see, especially since Alfred's attention wasn't on them.

The second Alfred approached them, one of the men said, "Salut. What a surprise to see you here. Life is so funny zat way."

Alfred's legs stopped despite his desire to keep walking. He turned and saw Francis sitting on the bench.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Alfred practically barked.

"Are you here for Elizabeta's labor?" asked the dark-haired man standing beside Francis.

"Wait, what? How do you know her?" Alfred asked.

"I'm Roderich. I used to be Elizabeta's husband," Roderich said.

"Okay, but why are you here? You weren't even cool with her doing any of this. Are you trying to get her back or something? Because if that's your plan then this really isn't the best time to be stressing her out like that," Alfred stated with a bit of a snarl.

"No, I'm happily married now," Roderich said as he placed his hand on Francis' knee. The engagement ring and wedding band on his finger suddenly became very noticeable. "I know I haven't really spoken to her since the divorce but I just wanted to be here to support her after the baby is born."

"What do you mean?" Alfred asked with squinted eyes.

"Elizabeta is the toughest person I know but giving away a baby is never easy, even for a surrogate. This is her first time doing something like this so I wanted to be here in case she needed someone."

"We are both here to support her, zat is all," Francis said reassuringly.

Alfred frowned a bit as he stared at the wedding band on Francis' finger. His mind was spinning from all the information he was bombarded with. "Sorry... I shouldn't have yelled before. It's just, I'm sorry but seeing you here just, I don't know."

"I understand," Francis said. "You are in love with Arthur so it is only natural. But I have found ze love of my life so zere is no reason for us to be enemies."

"Sure... well, I don't wanna be late for the birth of my nephew so I kinda gotta go," Alfred said as he started to walk past them. He made it a few steps before he stopped and turned around. "Um... I guess it's really cool of you to be here... So maybe I can let you know when to come in the room. You know, for Elizabeta —but that's only if she wants to see either of you."

"I would really appreciate that. Thank you," Roderich said.

"Merci beaucoup. Zat is very kind of you," Francis said while wrapping an arm around Roderich.

"Yeah, well... it's no problem. Congratulations by the way, on getting married," Alfred said before he rushed off to find the room Elizabeta was in. When he got to the end of the hall, he almost turned left since running into Francis and Elizabeta's ex-husband distracted him so much. He turned right instead and kept walking until he reached the end of the hall. The second he turned left, he saw his parents.

"Dad! Mom," Alfred called out as he ran to hug his parents.

"Cutting it close, son," Alfred's mom said in jest.

Alfred smiled sheepishly as he hugged his mom again before bending down a bit to give his dad an even bigger hug.

They all stood in the hallway even though there was a bench for them to sit on and they eagerly waited for someone to come out with an update.

Matthew's son was born at midnight but Alfred and his parents didn't find out until a few minutes later after the baby was checked out and cleaned. After the doctors left the room, Gilbert opened the door.

"Hey, you're here," Gilbert said to Alfred.

"Of course I am," Alfred said with a grin.

"That's great. Matt will be happy to see you. So you can all come in now. Our son is completely healthy. He has all his fingers and toes," Gilbert said with a small laugh.

Alfred gave a hardy pat on Gilbert's back before walking inside. He smiled when he saw Matthew standing with the baby in his arms.

"Hey, bro," Alfred said as he walked up to his brother.

"You made it," Matthew said excitedly as he leaned his side against Alfred. "I'm so glad you're here. I was a little worried you would miss it."

"There's no way I would miss meeting my baby nephew for the first time," Alfred said as he carefully gave Matthew a hug. When he pulled away, he kept one hand on Matthew's shoulder while looking down at the baby. "Wow, he looks so much like you, Mattie!"

"I know," Matthew happily replied.

Gilbert stood on the other side of Matthew and wrapped an arm around his waist. "He has your nose."

Matthew nodded in agreement as tears welled in his eyes. "This is the best day of my life."

"Mine too," Gilbert said as he used his free hand to gently stroke their son's hair.

"This is the cutest kid in the world," Alfred said as he smiled at Matthew and Gilbert. "Do you guys have a name for him yet?"

"Tim," Matthew said with a smile, which earned him a kiss from Gilbert.

Alfred smiled even wider as he said, "Hello, little Timmy."

Matthew held Tim for a long while before he was ready to let other people hold Tim. Gilbert was the first to hold Tim, then it was Matthew's Dad and Mom. When it was Alfred's turn, he had his dad take a picture of his nephew in his arms.

"Thanks," Alfred said as he took the phone in one hand and sent the picture and a text to Arthur. He put the phone away and smiled down at his nephew who looked up at him. "You know what? He totally has your eyes, Mattie."

"I know," Matthew said while wiping away his tears.

"He's going to be so beautiful, just like you, baby," Gilbert said before kissing Matthew on the forehead and again on the cheek.

"Can I see him?" asked Elizabeta.

Alfred glanced over to Matthew who nodded, then Alfred walked over to Elizabeta and carefully placed Tim in her arms.

"Um, Elizabeta?" Alfred said cautiously. "I don't know how you're gonna respond to this but don't get mad because you can totally say no."

"Um, okay?" Elizabeta said.

Although no one else said anything, everyone was looking at Alfred and waiting for him to continue.

"Roderich is down the hall..." Alfred said.

"He's here?" Elizabeta asked while handing Tim back to Alfred.

"Oh, I must have texted him the hospital information too by mistake," Matthew said. "I'm so sorry."

"No, it's okay..." Elizabeta said quietly.

Gilbert leaned in and whispered to Matthew, "Who's Roderich again?"

"The ex-husband," Matthew whispered back.

"Oh yeah, I think when we first created the group we added him to it," Gilbert whispered back.

There was a group of contacts that Gilbert and Matthew created so important information about Elizabeta could be sent to everyone involved, which included Roderich at the time. Of course, this was created long before the divorce so Gilbert and Matthew forgot to remove Roderich from the group.

"I really am sorry about this," Matthew apologized again.

"Really, it's all right," Elizabeta insisted.

"Well, I dunno if you already know this but he got married... to someone named Francis," Alfred said, mentioning the last part specifically for Matthew to hear. Matthew raised his eyebrows in surprise, figuring that it was the same Francis as the alpha Arthur had been with. Their parents, however, didn't react. Although they knew about Arthur, Alfred never dared to tell them about Francis. "They both wanna be here for you, to support you. So if you want, Roderich can come in here to keep you company with or without Francis. It's totally your call."

"Yes," Elizabeta quickly answered. "I want him here. I don't care what the husband does, he can come too if he wants but I want Roderich here."

"Okay, I'll go let them know," Alfred said before leaving Elizabeta's bedside to hand Tim back to Matthew. "I'll be back in a sec."

"Wait," Matthew said. "Is he the same person I think he is?"

"Yeah," Alfred confirmed.

"Are you sure you're okay with having him around?" Matthew asked.

"Positive," Alfred said with a nod before leaving the room to get Roderich and Francis.

 


 

When Arthur woke up Saturday morning, he went to the loo first before going to the kitchen to make himself a cuppa. He was about to skim through the news when he realized that he left his phone on his bed. Arthur yawned as he unhurriedly made his way back to his bedroom. The moment he picked up his phone, he saw that he had two texts from Alfred. The first was a picture of a baby that was in Alfred's arms.

The text read:

This is my baby nephew Tim.
He was born at midnight on Halloween!
Can't believe I'm officially an uncle :)

He looked at the picture and smiled at how happy Alfred looked. Then Arthur scrolled down to the second text that said:

I ran into Francis here. He married Elizabeta's
(the surrogate) ex-husband. It was totally awkward
at first but it's actually great that they're here.
They're both being super supportive of Elizabeta!
She seems really happy and relaxed.
Anyway here's another pic of Timmy :)

Below the text was another picture of Tim except this time Alfred's face was in the picture. Arthur smiled as he stared at the picture. Alfred looked exhausted but was positively beaming. After looking at the picture for a few minutes, Arthur glanced down at the timestamp of both texts and saw that they were hours apart, which meant that Alfred was likely staying with Matthew the entire weekend.

Arthur was planning on inviting Alfred over that weekend since he already had his heat, had caught up on homework, and didn't have any tests to study for. He knew it was short notice but it seemed like the best weekend to hang out, but there was no way Arthur was going to invite Alfred now. He knew it was likely that Alfred might leave New York early just so they could hang out and Arthur didn't want that to happen.

Even though Arthur was disappointed that he wouldn't be able to see Alfred, he was happy that Alfred was spending time with his family and that he got to be around his nephew the moment he was born.

Arthur smiled as he wrote a response to Alfred's text and sent it.

His text read:

Cute baby! He's lucky to be born on Samhain.
He might have second sight  :o  :)
Tell your brother I said congratulations!

He didn't say anything about Francis, however, because he didn't have any feelings on the matter. It didn't surprise him that Francis found someone. After all, they had stopped seeing each other nearly four months ago. The fact that Francis got married was mildly surprising but also seemed very typical of the Frenchman.

A few days later, Alfred asked to hang out on the weekend but Arthur had to refuse. Since he started working at the university, his heat had been off a bit. Once he started taking classes in addition to everything else, Arthur's heat was completely thrown off schedule. The last thing he needed was to hang out with Alfred and spontaneously go into heat.

Several days before Thanksgiving, Alfred invited Arthur over. Apparently, Matthew, Gilbert, and the baby were going to be there. Arthur had a week off school for Thanksgiving break and he didn't have to work that week either so he technically could have gone, especially since his heat came early that month. Arthur was interested in meeting Alfred's family but the idea of it was too overwhelming to handle.

Besides, all the stress Arthur was going through had made it difficult for him to eat. His acid reflux was triggered by even the traces amount of acidic, fatty, salty, or spicy ingredients. Even when he wasn't nauseous, it was difficult to keep food down whenever he managed to eat. He didn't want to get sick while being around Alfred and his family, so Arthur decided not to go.

Final exams were in December and Arthur had no idea when his heat would start. It was standard custom for schools at all levels to allow omegas to either finish their assignments or tests before their heat began or to have an extension so they could complete it after their heat was over.

Unfortunately, Arthur had no idea when his heat would begin. Although this was something his university could accommodate, it didn't make anything less stressful for the Englishman. To make matters worse, Alfred offered to help him study — that way Arthur could still work on homework and they would have a chance to see each other. Arthur's heat hadn't started yet so he couldn't say yes but he also didn't feel comfortable telling Alfred about any of his health problems.

After Arthur took his exams, he spent as much time at home as possible. He felt sick nearly every day. It seemed like he was constantly catching a cold or some other bug. The day before New Year's Eve, Alfred had asked to meet up. The semester had been so demanding that Arthur hardly had the energy or the ability to deal with other people. All he wanted to do was stay in bed or curl up in his armchair. Anything beyond that was too much for the Brit to handle.

Yet, he couldn't bring himself to respond to Alfred's text. Each time Arthur declined to see Alfred, it only made Arthur feel worse about himself. It felt like definitive proof that he shouldn't ever be in a relationship with Alfred and that the American deserved to be with someone better.

On New Year's Eve, Arthur seemed to have caught the worst cold yet that only got worse when Arthur thought about the fact that he hadn't seen Alfred since September. Arthur ended up spending the entire first day of the New Year in bed.

The next day, Arthur was allowed to register for classes. He decided to only take two classes instead of three. Fall semester was a lot harder than he anticipated, so he figured it would be wiser not to take an additional course. This meant he would have to take an extra semester and graduate at the end of the following year's spring semester instead of this fall. While this did upset him, Arthur knew it was better than putting himself in a situation where he was completely burnt out. Besides, he didn't want to fail any classes just because he was overwhelmed by the workload.

After a lot of digging and persistence, Arthur was able to figure out which textbooks would be needed for spring semester. He went to the university to purchase the books early so he could read them during his break. He hoped that it would help him have an easier time managing work and school.

Purchasing the textbooks early was a gamble since some professors changed the course material after the first day. Since virtually all schools only allowed returns within three-to-seven days after the purchase, this meant that Arthur could waste a lot of money by buying the course material early.

Despite this risk, it was still his best option. Ordering online meant waiting several weeks for the book to arrive. Paying for expedited shipping often made the book more expensive than buying it from the school bookshop, especially if a used book could be found.

The weekend before the first day of spring semester, Alfred asked to hang out. It was becoming a very stressful cycle. Every week Alfred asked to hang out on the weekend and Arthur kept saying that he couldn't because he was sick, or studying, or too busy. Although he wasn't lying, Arthur started to feel like he was making up excuses not to see the American.

It was tempting to avoid responding to Alfred's text since Arthur could vividly imagine how much he was disappointing the alpha, but he pushed himself to reply anyway before going back to reading his textbook.

 

Chapter Text

During the winter break, Arthur had emailed both of his professors to confirm that the books he bought early for his classes were still going to be used that semester. He didn't get a reply until the last week of January when the spring semester officially began. Fortunately for Arthur, none of the professors changed their course material.

A few days before the first day of class, Arthur caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and was shocked by what he saw. Since he hadn't maintained his personal upkeep, his hair had grown so long that he almost looked like Francis, which was not a look he fancied in the least. Meanwhile, his thick eyebrows had gotten even bushier and wilder. It was too much to fix on his own so he went to a hairdresser to get a haircut and his eyebrows trimmed.

Of course, the hair stylist did it all wrong. His hair was cut too short and his eyebrows were too thin. The only thing that kept him from having a mini-meltdown was knowing that his hair and eyebrows would return back to normal in a month or two.

Arthur also had to go shopping for pants since he had lost weight from not being able to eat normally over the last few months. He hoped that he would gain his weight back before spring so he wouldn't have to buy new shorts.

Despite being moody about having to waste money he didn't really have, he had a very positive attitude about the upcoming semester. He was determined to use it as an opportunity to work on at least one of his personal goals.

When Arthur got to his first class, he noticed that some of his classmates were students who were in his class the previous semester. The first person Arthur recognized was a relatively short omega with jet black hair and brown eyes. Everything about him was muted. His voice was faint, his scent was indistinct, and the clothes he wore were either white, off-white, or a pale khaki brown.

This omega was often the first to arrive and the last to leave, and he always sat in the front row in class. There were a few times when Arthur walked by him to get to his own seat when Arthur caught a glimpse of the omega's desk. This was how Arthur discovered that the omega often, if not always, got A's on his work.

Arthur always had a good vibe about the omega but never approached him before since Arthur was so overwhelmed during his last semester. When Arthur saw the student again in his second class later in the day, he decided to introduce himself to the dark-haired omega once the class ended.

As most of the class emptied out of the room, Arthur slowly approached the omega's desk. With each step he took toward the dark-haired student, Arthur felt the impulse to walk out of the classroom. Then Arthur thought about how easy this would be for Alfred who was even friends with his neighbors and cashiers from bakeries.

While Arthur didn't want as many friends as Alfred had, he did want to have at least one platonic friend aside from the American — and this classmate seemed like a good candidate.

When Arthur finally reached the omega's desk, he clutched onto the straps of his backpack and resisted the urge to keep walking toward the door.

"Hello," Arthur said a little awkwardly. Suddenly, the room seemed more silent than before. A list of excuses to get out of this situation flooded Arthur's mind. Ignoring them, Arthur continued. "My name's Arthur. Your name is Kiku, right? I don't know if you remember me but we were in the same classes last semester."

Honda Kiku was a shy and quiet omega who usually kept to himself. He had the tendency to avert his eyes and keep a small distance away from people. Typically, he wouldn't welcome such approaches from classmates but he recognized Arthur.

"Yes. It nice to officially meet," Kiku said as he lightly bowed his head.

"Likewise," Arthur said. This was his chance to leave. He could say that he just wanted to introduce himself and just walk away, or he could simply ask a question about a homework assignment and leave it at that. There were so many ways to get out of this that Arthur almost caved into one of them. Instead, Arthur gingerly asked, "Would... you... be interested... in meeting up? — To work on homework... together?"

Arthur couldn't breathe after he managed to get the last word out. Everything he said just kept replaying in his mind and he could almost die from the way he just humiliated himself. Amongst his internal panic, he also wondered why asking strangers to snog or shag was infinitely easier than asking someone to hang out to do homework.

"Like a study group?" Kiku asked.

Arthur instantly let out the breath he was holding, then said, "Exactly."

Kiku was quiet for a moment before saying, "Hai... yes, that could be beneficial."

"Brilliant. How about this weekend?" Arthur asked despite his inner protests.

"Sunday best for me," Kiku answered.

"Perfect. Can I get your number so we can figure out a time and place to meet?" Arthur asked.

Kiku nodded as he flipped his notebook to a blank sheet. He wrote down his name and number on the bottom portion before he ripped the strip from the page. Then he turned the notebook and handed Arthur a pen along with the strip of paper.

Arthur took the paper and placed it in his pocket before he took the pen to write down his own information. His hand was shaking a bit so the first few letters of his name were jerky but everything else was written smoothly.

"There. I'll see you Sunday then," Arthur said in a much more relaxed voice.

"Hai," Kiku agreed, and Arthur took this to mean "yes".

 


 

Although Arthur and Kiku saw each other in class again before Sunday, they didn't speak to each other. They did, however, exchanged brief looks to acknowledge each other's presence which was something Arthur really fancied. As interested as he was in becoming friends, he couldn't handle small talk before and after class.

On Saturday morning, Arthur got a text from Alfred saying:

Hey Artie! What's up? How was school?
How did your first week go? :)

As sweet as the text was, Arthur received these sort of texts from Alfred practically every day. Alfred always asked how his day was, how work was, how his weekend was, how he was doing, and many other questions. When Alfred wasn't asking questions then he was updating Arthur on his day or life in general.

Arthur appreciated the messages on some level but he didn't know how to respond to most of them. He often felt redundant even before attempting to write a response because there really wasn't anything spectacular going on in his life that was worth mentioning. His days were fairly mundane.

Deciding to reply later, Arthur put his phone down so he could work on his chores. He was already regretting the decision to ask Kiku to study together and was tempted to cancel, but Arthur knew that if he canceled their first meeting then he would never end up doing it later on.

While Arthur was doing the laundry in the basement of the apartment building, he sent a text to Kiku with a time and place to meet. It was really last minute so he wasn't sure if Kiku would even agree to meet up. Part of Arthur hoped that Kiku wouldn't be able to make it anymore.

By the time Arthur brought his laundry upstairs and dumped everything on his bed to fold, Kiku had sent a response. Arthur didn't check it until he was done putting away his clothes. It turned out that Kiku was able to meet at the cafe on campus at one o'clock after all.

Arthur frowned a bit but texted Kiku "See you there". Then he flung his phone on the bed and went to the kitchen to make dinner. After forcing himself to eat, he waited a few hours for the food to settle in his stomach before going to bed. Just before going to sleep, he remembered that Alfred had texted him. He quickly texted "fine", then he curled up in his sheets and closed his eyes.

 


 

Arthur met Kiku the next day at a cafe on campus. Since it was Sunday, there weren't as many buses running so Arthur had to make sure he was at the bus stop early so he wouldn't be late. The commute to campus on Sunday was a lot more pleasant than it was during the week when Arthur had to panic about making it to work or class on time while also fighting to stay awake.

The cafe was relatively empty since it was Sunday, which was what Arthur was hoping for. He smiled slightly when he saw Kiku already sitting at a small booth. In front of the omega were an open textbook, a notebook, and a cup of green tea.

"Hello," Arthur greeted as he sat down across from Kiku.

"Kon'nichiwa," Kiku said without looking away from his textbook.

Arthur took out his tea tumbler and set it on the small table. "It looks like you got here pretty early. Do you live on campus."

Kiku shook his head. "No."

Arthur let out a sigh of relief since it seemed like Kiku wasn't big on conversations either. Arthur took out his laptop and started to work on an essay for one of their classes.

After about a half hour of silence, Kiku said, "I do not understand this question."

Arthur glanced at the sheet Kiku was staring at and furrowed his eyes as he read the upside-down words. "Ah. Yeah, it's weirdly worded but it's an open-ended question so you can write almost anything. This is what I wrote for that one."

Arthur turned his laptop around so Kiku could read the answer he wrote.

"I see now... Arigato."

"Of course," Arthur said with a small smile as he turned his laptop toward himself; then he gingerly asked, "Do you have any suggestions for me?"

Kiku pursed his lips before shyly offering, "It a little repetitive."

Arthur furrowed his eyebrows from the critique out of reflex, then skimmed over what he wrote. "Oh, I see what you mean... You're right... there are a few sentences that I could delete. Thank you."

Kiku simply gave a nod in response, then they both resumed working on their homework without saying another word to each other.

The only time they spoke was to ask questions about school. It was over an hour later when Arthur finished all of his homework. He closed his laptop and placed it and his textbook inside his backpack.

"This was great," Arthur said in earnest. "We should do this again."

"Hai, that would be nice," Kiku agreed.

"Maybe next Sunday. I may have to cancel last minute..." Arthur said, remembering that his heat hadn't been consistent for a few consecutive months and that it may not go back to a regular cycle again.

"That okay. I will be here anyway," Kiku said.

"So you'll come to study even if I'm not here?" Arthur asked.

Kiku nodded. "It nice here. I can focus better than at home." Kiku seemed to hesitate before adding, "I live at omega housing... I share room with three omegas... my roommates always very noisy. This place much better for homework and study."

"Brilliant. Well, I'll see you in class," Arthur said while standing up to leave.

"See you," Kiku said with a tiny smile.

 


 

Arthur's heat started the first weekend of February and ended the following Thursday. He forgot to tell Kiku that he wouldn't be able to make their study session but it turned out that the omega was not bothered by this at all. They met on the next Sunday, which happened to be Valentine's Day. Arthur didn't realize this until he got a text from Alfred wishing a happy Valentine's Day.

Arthur smiled at the text before going back to writing an essay for one of his classes. He stayed with Kiku for another two hours before leaving. On the bus ride home, Arthur got out his phone and stared down at the text Alfred sent. It was hard to believe that a year had passed by since he invited Alfred over to have tea and asked the alpha to have sex.

Frankly, it was a little unbelievable that they remained friends after that snafu. It was even more unbelievable that they remained friends after everything that happened with Francis.

Probably the most unbelievable thing of all was that Arthur was back in school. Although it was his goal to go back and get his bachelor's degree one day, part of him really didn't believe it would ever happen. At the very least, he thought it would take several years for him to be able to go back to a university, but by then he expected to be a parent and Arthur frankly didn't see how he could manage to do homework and class projects while also raising a child.

If Arthur hadn't been close to Alfred then he would have never met Feliciano and Ludwig, which meant he would have never been given Antonio's job offer. It was interesting how life could have such wonderful surprises. For the longest time Arthur had the belief, or fear, that the only surprises life had to offer were devastating ones.

Arthur tapped his finger against his phone for a moment before sending Alfred:

Same to you :)

 


 

As the weeks went on, Alfred continued to ask to hang out. Unfortunately, Arthur's commute to the campus on the weekdays was brutal and beyond exhausting. The only thing Arthur wanted to do with the little free time he had was sleep, so he kept telling Alfred that he was busy. Besides, his hair and eyebrows hadn't completely grown back to normal yet and Arthur hadn't gained back his weight. On the contrary, Arthur lost an additional two pounds.

Furthermore, everything was just harder with Alfred. Spending time with Kiku on the weekends was easy because Arthur felt no pressure at all. He could leave whenever he fancied without Kiku wanting or asking him to stay longer, and Kiku's feelings didn't get hurt if Arthur canceled at the last second or simply didn't show up without any sort of notice. The atmosphere with Kiku was different too since they rarely spoke to each other unless it was about school. Everything felt so light and simple and easy.

The fact that sex wasn't involved was a definite bonus, much to Arthur's surprise. He hadn't realized how refreshing it would be to have a strictly platonic friendship that wasn't going to devolve into some sexual gray area. In all of Arthur's adult life, he had never spent time with another person who wasn't attracted to him or wanted to snog or shag or anything of that nature.

Being around Alfred, however, was... complicated. Arthur had a lot of strong feelings for the alpha, which was difficult since Arthur was constantly battling a thought which whispered that he wasn't good enough for Alfred and that he should smother any frail hope he had that they might end up together. There was no way Arthur could handle all of these thoughts and feelings in addition to everything else he had to deal with, so he continued to not see Alfred.

By the first week of March, Arthur had added another person to the study group. The student's name was Berwald Oxenstierna. Berwald, like Kiku, was in Arthur's classes the previous semester. This semester he was only in one of Arthur's classes. Berwald was a tall man who was at least five foot eleven. He had dark hazel eyes with a hint of blue, which weren't very noticeable to others since he was so tall and his eyes were often squinted behind his glasses.

Berwald didn't speak much in class unless he had an answer to something that everyone else was unclear on. Otherwise, his responses were mostly just startling grunts and sounds, which may have been the reason why most people feared the omega and why everyone kept their distance. Arthur never had much of an opinion of Berwald except that the loud noises he sometimes made were off-putting.

The Brit would have never considered including Berwald in the study sessions, except toward the end of February Arthur caught the omega shouting at someone to recycle. The student was so terrified that he actually reached into the trash to pick up his empty water bottle and hastily inserted it inside the recycling bin that was just a few steps away.

"Hello," Arthur had cautiously greeted.

Berwald had given Arthur a puzzled look. "Hi?"

"We're in the same class," Arthur had said while he approached the omega.

"I know," Berwald said.

"Well... Kiku and I meet up to study sometimes. I was wondering if you would fancy joining our study group?" Arthur asked.

Berwald let out a loud exclamation from shock that made Arthur raise his eyebrows and squint his eyes as if a gust of wind just blew in his face. Then, in a voice that was almost frighteningly calm, Berwald asked, "Why do you want me in your group?"

Arthur didn't have an answer to that so he simply said, "You don't have to join if you don't want to. I just wanted to invite you."

As Arthur started to walk away, Berwald shouted, "Wait!" When Arthur turned around, Berwald held his phone out and said, "Give me your number."

There was still something scary about Berwald but apparently Arthur was quickly becoming adjusted to it because the omega's stern voice didn't unsettle him that time. He put his contact information in Berwald's phone and said, "Text me so I can have your number."

Berwald nodded and sent a text at that moment, and that was how Berwald was invited into the study group.

Arthur, Kiku, and Berwald met up at the cafe on campus on the first Sunday in March. Kiku was the first to arrive, as usual, while Arthur arrived on time. Berwald was on time too, although he arrived several seconds after Arthur sat down. Since the booths were meant for one or two people, Kiku had reserved one of the large tables for them so there would be ample space.

"Hello," Berwald said after sitting down on the chair.

"Hi," Kiku greeted quietly without looking at the tall omega.

"Hiya," Arthur said as he placed his laptop on the table.

The table was large enough for all three of them and their laptops, notebooks, textbooks, and snacks — although Arthur never ate during the study group; and there was still extra space for an additional person. None of the omegas spoke except to ask questions or to go over each other's answers.

They met again the following Sunday and everything went swimmingly. The Sunday after that was during spring break and Arthur happened to be in heat so he didn't attend the study session. Kiku was apparently to shy to be alone with Berwald so no one was able to meet up without Arthur.

On the first of April, Arthur woke up and saw that he had a text from Alfred that read:

Hey! Hope all is well. I know your bday is coming up.
Wanna go somewhere? I was thinking we could go
to DC. We could visit the Library of Congress.
They have like a ton of books. I think you'll love it.
Lemme know :)

It was a tempting offer, especially since Arthur hadn't seen Alfred in six months, but April marked the two-year point of their friendship. If they went on that trip together, there was a distinct possibility that Alfred would ask if they could start dating even though the American distinctly implied that Arthur had to be the one to ask for them to be together.

As much as Arthur wanted to be in a relationship with Alfred, he wasn't sure if he was ready. If Alfred did end up asking him out during the birthday holiday, Arthur would have to decline the offer and the Brit was certain that Alfred would never ask again after that. In fact, Alfred may instantly lose all interest if that happened. 

Arthur didn't know what to say so he didn't respond. The next day, Alfred sent a text saying:

Sorry, you prob thought that was an April Fool's joke.
It totally wasn't! I was 100% serious :) Please lemme
know if you're interested in going so we can plan
(or I can do the planning if you're too busy)

Since it was Saturday, Arthur decided to do his chores before replying to the text. Once his chores were done, he opted to wait until after he was done cooking a bland dinner that he probably wasn't going to be able to eat very much of. Then he was about to reply before going to bed but choose to take a shower first to wash his hair. When he was done with that, he was so exhausted that he went straight to sleep.

On Sunday, Arthur went to his study group as he did nearly every Sunday. He greeted Kiku and Berwald before going diving into his homework. It was nice to have something productive to get his mind off Alfred. This may have been why he stayed two hours longer than usual. Berwald was the first to leave. When Kiku finally left, Arthur had to admit to himself that he was avoiding Alfred. Still, Arthur didn't text the alpha.

When Arthur woke up Monday morning, there was another text from Alfred. This time he sent:

We totally don't have to go if you don't want to.
We can do something else, anything you want :)
It's also cool if you can't or don't wanna hang out
I just kinda need to know

Arthur immediately felt bad for not responding sooner, which was why he couldn't bring himself to send a reply. He knew he was only making things worse but he didn't want to explain why he had been so dodgy.

The Brit finally replied on Monday night. It took him an embarrassingly long time to write and send:

Sry too busy with work and school :(
But you should still go!

The second line of the text was intended to be a positive note. Arthur didn't want to ruin Alfred's fun so he meant to encourage Alfred to go on his own or with someone else. Of course, after reading what he wrote, Arthur somehow knew that Alfred didn't take it that way. What Arthur wrote seemed like he was brushing Alfred off but Arthur didn't know what to say to let Alfred know that wasn't what he was trying to do. Besides, there was a chance that Alfred didn't take it that way and that Arthur was simply overreacting.

This was precisely why Arthur didn't want to reply to the message in the first place. That and the fact that replying to a text only encouraged more texts, which was something that made Arthur feel a little anxious since he already knew that he wouldn't know what to say to whatever Alfred sent next.

 


 

The study sessions continued on Sundays, except whenever Arthur's heat decided to happen. Berwald's heat was annoyingly short and never seemed to stretch into the weekend while Kiku's heat cycle was a mystery because he never missed the study group or any classes, although Arthur didn't see Kiku every day so it was possible that Kiku's heat happened to fall on more convenient days.

Arthur's twenty-seventh birthday came and went by without any fuss, mostly because he went into heat and couldn't do much more than toss off. Arthur had hoped he could read a book for fun during his birthday, even for just a half hour, but his heat ruined those plans. Naturally, Arthur was reminded of how Alfred read to him during his heat before and the omega was tempted to ask Alfred to come over. This temptation was harder to ignore after Alfred had sent a very sweet birthday message that Arthur was sure he didn't deserve. Of course, Arthur resisted the urge — not that Alfred would spend time with Arthur during his heat again.

The Sunday after Arthur's heat ended was the first of May. This time he was the last to arrive to the study group since Berwald arrived a minute earlier. He sat down and grumbled a greeting before diving into his assignment. The only sound between them was Kiku flipping the pages of his book, Berwald's pen scribbling against a paper, and Arthur's fingers pounding the keys of his keyboard.

"Hello, guys," said a blond alpha who approached their table. Berwald let out a terrifying gasp that startled everyone in the cafe. "Why did you have to do that? I'm fragile!... Anyway, my name is Tino — we're all in the same class. I was wondering if I can join you guys?"

Kiku and Berwald remained quiet as they turned to Arthur.

The Brit frowned a bit as he looked at the alpha. Tino was shorter than Arthur but taller than Kiku. He had very soft features for an alpha. His hair, which was something Arthur was a little envious of, was smooth and fine without more than a strand or two out of place. He had long eyelashes and brown eyes that almost had a violet tint in the right light. Although Tino seemed to be a sweet person, he also had the tendency to ramble, which was why Arthur wasn't sure if Tino should join their study group.

With a heavy sigh, Arthur reluctantly said, "Fine."

"Thanks you guys," Tino said as he sat down on the last free chair at the table. "This is so great. I'm kind of failing my classes. Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing here. I haven't even declared my major. What are you guys majoring in?"

No one answered right away. Arthur, Kiku, and Berwald all exchanged glances as if they were playing a mental game of rock-paper-scissors to see who would have to answer first.

Arthur sighed, deciding that he should answer since he was sort of the group's undesignated leader.

"My name is Arthur and my major is English. I'm a transfer student. Since I already have my associate's degree, I don't have to take as many classes. I should be graduating by the end of next semester," Arthur said.

"You may call me Kiku. My major currently English but I maybe switch to something else," Kiku said, his voice even quieter than usual.

"Okay, okay, great. And you?" Tino said as he leaned a little toward Berwald and gave the omega his undivided attention.

"My name is Berwald," Berwald answered flatly.

"That is a really nice name. Do you have any nicknames like Ber, Berry, Wald, Wally, Waldo?" Tino asked.

"That question is kinda embarrassing," Berwald noted.

"Can I call you Wald or Wally?" Tino asked.

"My ex-ex-girlfriend called me Wally and my ex-ex-ex-girlfriend calls me Wald... so no," Berwald said.

Tino's face seemed to fall at that. "Do you have a girlfriend right now?"

"No, we just broke up," Berwald said.

"Oh that's so awful," Tino said despite the excited smile on his face.

"Yes, well... I'm seeing a new girl now, so..." Berwald trailed off.

"Oh..." Tino said, his smile disappearing as his scent became noticeably sour.

Arthur raised an eyebrow as he watched Berwald and Tino talk. This was the most he had ever heard Berwald speak before. Arthur actually had no idea what Berwald's major was.

"What's your major, Berwald?" Arthur asked.

"Oh yeah, I wanted to know that too," Tino said.

"Social work," Berwald answered.

"What that?" Kiku asked.

"That's amazing," Tino butted in. "I always wanted to be a foster parent. It would be so cool to take care of a lot of kids who need a loving home, don't you think?"

Berwald gasped, and as far as his gasps were concerned — it was the most pleasant sort of gasp Berwald was capable of making.

"Really?" Berwald asked.

"Yeah! Maybe I should go into social work too," Tino said. His scent was back to normal now. "Or maybe psychology, or sociology might be easier... I don't know."

While Berwald and Tino continued to talk to each other, Arthur took out his phone to look at the time. His eyes widened when he realized that he still hadn't texted Alfred from two nights ago.

Arthur started to text Alfred back when Tino asked, "Do you guys meet every week?"

For whatever reason, Berwald and Kiku didn't answer, so everyone was looking at Arthur.

"Yes," Arthur answered, realizing that he had the final say of whether Tino would be allowed to join them again. "We try to meet every Sunday."

"That's amazing. Are you all meeting next Sunday? Would it be okay if I joined you guys?" Tino asked.

"Sure," Arthur charily answered as he closed out of his text message. "We'll need to exchanges numbers. What's yours, Tino?"

Tino said his phone number aloud and everyone else entered it into their phone. Then everyone texted Tino their name so he could have their information.

The Finnish alpha joined their study sessions from that point on. Tino spoke often and had the tendency to ramble. Surprisingly, this didn't bother Arthur since Tino rarely spoke to anyone in particular unless he was speaking to Berwald, which didn't seem to bother the tall omega. Otherwise, Tino's voice became a sort of white noise.

When the semester ended in the middle of May, Arthur felt a huge weight off his shoulders. Summer break was three months long so Arthur finally had a chance to relax.

 

Chapter Text

It was the first Saturday in June so Arthur was no longer busy with classes but Alfred still hadn't seen the omega. Alfred was lying on the floor in the middle of his living room. Although there were no tears, Alfred was crying nonetheless.

"Fuck!"

With a slow heavy breath, Alfred forced himself to sit up, then he slapped his hands on his thighs. His thighs and calves were still hurting from the 10k charity run he did the day before. He took pain killers that should have kicked in by now but he didn't feel any relief yet. Alfred cried out again from the way the muscles in his legs throbbed.

"Ahhhhh fuck this hurts so much," Alfred complained to himself as he started massaging his legs.

For the last several months Alfred had been doing a run every month at different charity events. The last event he went to was a 5k run. At the end of the run, another runner told Alfred that if he could do a 5k run then he can handle a 10k run.

Apparently, that friendly stranger didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

Alfred starting doing charity runs in March because he hadn't seen Arthur since the end of September. Initially, Alfred didn't take it personally when he didn't see Arthur because Alfred was exceptionally good at making excuses for the Englishman. When he didn't hear from Arthur for a day or two in a row, he shrugged it off as Arthur being busy with school. He was sure that Arthur was overwhelmed with his classes and that the omega was simply too busy with studying and homework.

After Thanksgiving, Alfred's boss gave out holiday bonuses early. When she was done, she pulled Alfred aside and gave him a promotion to assistant manager. It came with a small raise and more responsibilities. Although Alfred got to celebrate the news with his family and friends, Alfred was most excited to tell Arthur about it but he didn't want to share the news over text since Arthur's responses were often lackluster.

While being trained to be assistant manager, Alfred learned about different factors that could impact an employee's work performance. This was when Alfred learned about introversion. He was sure that Arthur was an introvert — not that Alfred fully understood what an introvert was or how social interactions drained their energy or how they were capable of overcoming these challenges. Still, it was a fitting word that he used as a blanket excuse for Arthur's behavior.

Somewhere in the middle of January, Alfred started to get tired of making excuses for Arthur. It was nearly four months since he last saw the Brit and he didn't understand why Arthur couldn't see him. The last excuse Alfred could come up with was that Arthur was just burnt out from school and needed some time to recover. Alfred was sure that they would see each other before the spring semester started.

When that didn't happen, Alfred strongly considered that Arthur may have been in a relationship with someone, even if it was just a casual sex-only one. Alfred wanted to ask Arthur if he was involved with someone but that was a question he didn't feel comfortable asking via text. Since it was practically impossible to see Arthur in person, Alfred asked if he could call so they could talk on the phone. Arthur said he couldn't because he was too busy.

To keep his mind off Arthur, Alfred decided to visit Feliciano and Ludwig more often on the weekends, as well as visiting Matthew at least one weekend every month.

In February, Alfred developed the habit of skimming through all the texts he had with Arthur whenever he was at home and had nothing to occupy his mind. When Valentine's Day came, Alfred scrolled back until he reached the text that said:

Care to come by for a cuppa? And maybe a bite to eat?

Alfred couldn't stop staring at the text. It was the message the changed everything between them. After Arthur's heat ended that February, Alfred got texts from Arthur once a week. Gradually it grew to every other day, then it was almost a daily occurrence. Alfred felt that had to mean something, even if the messages themselves were often late or disappointingly short.

So Alfred decided to text Arthur:

Hey Artie :) I haven't seen you in a while. I hope you're
okay and that school and everything is going well!
I miss you and I just wanna wish you a happy
Valentine's Day! :)

The message was marked as "read" almost immediately, yet Arthur didn't reply until several hours later. It was a short reply, like most of the texts Arthur ever sent. Alfred considered texting Arthur to ask if he was involved with someone now but Alfred decided to call his brother instead and read the messages aloud so Matthew could give his opinion.

"Sorry, I hate to say it but it seems like he could be with someone new..." Matthew had said after Alfred explained how he hadn't seen Arthur in months and how the omega rarely texted him much. "Even if he's not, it still might be time to give up on him. I know you don't want to hear that but I don't understand why he can't see you even if it's just an hour a month, or even every two or three months."

Then Alfred had pointed out that Arthur was an introvert and that being an introvert might have explained everything.

"I'm an introvert, Alfie, so trust me when I say that being an introvert isn't an excuse. Sure, we get emotionally drained and stuff but most of us are able to push our boundaries for the people we love. Eventually spending a lot of time with our loved ones becomes easy. If it didn't then we could never get married or have children," Matthew said with a bit of a chuckle.

Alfred had to admit that that made sense.

Then Matthew had said, "It may take us a while to get there because it's hard for us but we do get better with time. Arthur seems to be getting worse though... But even if we ignore that part and assume that he's overwhelmed with work and school like you said, what aboot the texts, eh? He barely writes anything to you. It's just one or two short texts... I just don't know what to say aboot that... It really doesn't look very good, Alfie... but that's just my opinion. You're the only one who knows what's best for you."

A few days after his conversation with Matthew, Alfred reread his text history with Arthur for the umpteenth time. While he was skimming over the first few messages they ever sent each other, it suddenly hit Alfred that he wasn't in love with Arthur back when the omega first invited him over for tea. He thought he was in love at the time because Arthur was so beautiful and had the most stunning smile and captivating eyes. Alfred was sure it was love because his heart would race whenever he saw Arthur read a book a lunch and his body felt warm when Arthur rolled his eyes in mock-annoyance when he was actually amused.

But the truth was that Alfred didn't know much about Arthur until he started visiting the omega during his heats. Each time he learned something new about Arthur, like his pessimistic views about love or how many people he had sex with, Alfred's feelings for Arthur wavered because the information he learned was conflicting with the idea he had of who he thought Arthur was.

Now Alfred's feelings were different. They were steadier and stronger than ever before despite everything that happened between them. The fact that they hadn't seen each other in months frustrated Alfred but it didn't make him feel any less fondly of Arthur.

Even if Arthur was involved with someone now, Alfred still felt in his heart that they could still end up together. Whenever they saw each other in person, it seemed abundantly clear that Arthur felt strongly for him even if the Englishman never said so aloud. It was evident in the way Arthur looked at him, how the Brit often smiled around him, how rich Arthur's laughter was, and how strong and sweet the omega's scent became. More than anything, it was obvious because Arthur opened up to Alfred in a way the omega never had with anyone else.

Toward the end of February, Alfred realized that he was looking over his texts with Arthur way too often for it to be healthy. He needed something to focus his mind on. Fortunately, Alfred saw a flyer for a 3k run that was going to happen in March. Since Alfred went on jogs and runs all the time, he took the flyer and went on the charity run. It felt so great that Alfred decided to do a charity run once a month.

As the weeks went on, Alfred slowly started to text Arthur less often, which was difficult for him but something that the alpha felt was necessary. Even if Arthur wasn't seeing someone, the omega wasn't doing a good job with staying connected with Alfred. The American felt like he was talking to a wall each time Arthur didn't respond, so Alfred went from texting Arthur multiple times a day to only texting him once a day.

Toward the end of March, sometime after a 5k charity run he participated in, Alfred's boss promoted him to manager; which used to be her job except she was about to move to the west coast with her girlfriend. The new job position came with health insurance that would extend to his spouse and children if he had any. It also came with a much higher salary — high enough for Alfred to buy a house with in a few years if he saved most of it.

Alfred told his family and friends about the news. Once everyone in his life knew about his promotion, Alfred immediately thought about Arthur. Against his better judgment, he texted Arthur on the first of April to ask if they could go to D.C. together. Alfred figured that he could celebrate his promotion with the person who meant the most to him while also celebrating Arthur's birthday. It would have been perfect.

Except Arthur didn't reply to Alfred's invitation even though Alfred could see that the omega read his text. The same thing happened the next day when Alfred texted him again. On the third day, Arthur finally replied at the end of the day only to decline the invitation. So Alfred went to D.C. on his own to do a 5k charity run.

After Arthur's birthday passed, Alfred limited how often he texted Arthur even further. His goal was to go a whole week without texting him, unless Arthur texted him first, of course; but the longest he could manage was a day and a half. Eventually, Alfred texted Arthur just one text every other day, which was still a lot by Arthur's standards but was unbearably difficult for Alfred.

By the second to last week of May, Alfred stopped texting Arthur entirely. He knew Arthur must have been on summer break so there was no excuse for them not to hang out. So Alfred refused to be the first one to start any conversations with the omega. It wasn't something he wanted to do but if Arthur needed space then this would give the omega the space he needed. On the other hand, if Arthur was being a lazy conversationalist like Matthew suggested, then Alfred hoped that this would encourage Arthur to open up more.

As of now, it's been a week since Alfred heard from Arthur. Alfred briefly thought it may have been because Arthur was in heat but the end of May was too late for Arthur to be nesting while the start of June was too early, so Alfred really didn't know what to think.

It was then that Alfred heard a loud bang. He jumped on his feet and went to open his door. Standing in front of him was a woman holding one end of a couch. She had long brown hair that was braided all the way down to the middle of her back. There was a large red bow on the left side of her hair and three hairpins keeping the hair off the right side of her forehead. Still, there were two long, thick, strands of hair that framed her face. Her glasses were practically falling off as she bent over to keep the couch from falling on the ground.

Alfred leaned out of the doorway to look down the stairwell. At the bottom, in front of the door, was another woman. She had short brown hair and wore a light brown military uniform. She didn't seem to struggle with holding the bottom of the couch.

"Hey," Alfred said.

"Oh, sorry! I hope we weren't making too much noise," said the short-haired woman.

"No, it's cool. Do you two need help?" Alfred asked.

"Yes," said the short-haired woman at the bottom of the staircase at the same time that the other woman said, "No."

"Anna, sweetie, come on. I think he can help on your end," said the short-haired woman.

Anna huffed before saying, "Nous ne pouvons pas demander de l'aide à un étranger."

The other woman said something back in French and the two continued speaking in French until Alfred said, "Hey, it's totally no problem at all. I didn't have anything to do anyway. My name's Alfred, by the way."

"Laura," said the woman who was still easily holding up the bottom of the couch. "And next to you is my wife Anna."

Anna rolled her eyes at her wife before huffing out, "Hi."

"Chérie, laisse-le aider," Laura said to Anna before adding, "Please. Sois gentil... et je te donnerai une récompense ce soir, mon amour."

Anna blushed deeply before quickly saying, "Oui, okay. Thank you, — Alfred, was it? Merci."

Thankful for the distraction from Arthur, Alfred quickly stood beside Anna and helped carry the couch into the unit next door. Then Alfred went outside to help Laura carry the bed inside before they started moving the rest of the furniture. Once all the heavy things were in the apartment, all three of them worked on bringing in the boxed items. Whenever Alfred had a free moment, he quickly glanced at his phone to see if he had a text from Arthur.

It was a few hours later when they finished bringing everything inside. By then Anna had warmed up to Alfred and hadn't requested him to leave. Instead, all three of them were sitting on the couch and resting their legs.

"Man, my legs are killing me," Alfred said.

"Moving is tough work," Laura said with a smirk.

"Yeah but I think it's from the marathon I ran yesterday," Alfred replied. The pain killers he had taken earlier in the day that had kicked in when he heard the banging from the couch in the hall. His legs weren't hurting at that moment but they were really aching now.

"A marathon? Wow... I don't know why you would offer to help us move if you did all that running yesterday but thank you," Anna said.

"It's no problem, really," Alfred said while quickly glancing at his phone.

"You've been looking at your téléphone all day. Are you having dating problèmes?" Laura casually asked.

Alfred sighed. He hadn't talked about Arthur to anyone in over a month. Even though he was sure he probably shouldn't burden two people he just met with his personal problems, he also couldn't resist. "It's not really 'dating' problems. We're just friends but..."

"You have feelings for this person?" Anna guessed.

Alfred sighed before nodding.

"You should tell this person how you feel," Laura suggested.

"I already told him," Alfred said.

"Ah... Maybe he's not interested then," Laura casually offered, which earned her a stern look from Anna.

"Or maybe he's just busy. Does your friend work or go to school?" Anna asked.

"Yeah. He works full time and he just went back to college to get his bachelor's degree," Alfred answered.

"Wow," Anna exclaimed. "It sounds like he just has a lot on his plate right now."

"Yeah but I don't know... I mean I haven't seen him in months..."

"How many months?" Laura asked.

"It's been eight months... I didn't even get to see him on his birthday a few months ago," Alfred sighed.

"Did you ask him to hang out?" Laura asked.

"Yeah. He hasn't really been texting me either," Alfred said with a small frown.

"Try not to worry too much," Anna said with a reassuring smile. "You two will end up together if it's meant to happen. Either way, staring at your phone isn't going to help anything."

Alfred inhaled deeply before letting out a long breath. "I guess you're right..."

"Anna's often right," Laura said with a grin.

"Yes, and I speak from experience. Laura and I had our fair share of complications before we ended up together," Anna said.

Alfred perked up a bit from this. "Really?"

Both of the women nodded.

When they didn't elaborate, Alfred asked, "Could you tell me more about it?"

"Of course," Laura said with a smile. "We first met each other when we were kids. We were ze best of friends. We still are but at first it was difficult going from friends to lovers. It was even more difficult since we were best friends."

"Yes, especially when you don't have a lot of friends," Anna added. "I don't have a problem making or keeping friends but I generally don't like people. Usually, the longer I know someone — the less I like zem. I often get bored or annoyed with people after a few months. Laura was the only person I ever consistently liked. Actually, I kept liking her more and more. When I realized I liked her as more than a friend, well... it was terrifying."

"Terrifying?" Alfred asked. "Wouldn't it be exciting?"

"Non. She was my closest friend. Actually, she was sort of my only real friend," Anna said. "It's easier for friendships to last forever than relationships. I was afraid if we started dating that things wouldn't work out — then I would have lost my best friend. Laura was the only person I could talk to about anything. I didn't want to risk losing that."

"You know you could never lose me," Laura said.

"I know but..." Anna paused before saying, "It would not be the same. Few people are able to stay friends when something like that happens. Even fewer people are able to have a relatively decent friendship."

"But you had a lot to gain," Alfred said.

"You're right, I did. Now I can't imagine being anything else than what we are now," Anna admitted.

"Fortunately, I knew she liked me and I always liked her so I asked her out when we were in high school," Laura said. "And she told me 'maybe', which basically means 'no' — but I didn't know that at the time. So I asked her out again a year later and she said she was 'too busy'."

"Which basically means 'no'?" Alfred guessed.

"Oui," Laura laughed. "But I guess I'm pretty dense because I didn't catch on to zat either. So I asked her out every year or so whenever we both happened to be single."

"I was twenty-six when I finally said 'yes'," Anna said. "Naturally, I always wanted to say 'yes' but I was never ready. Sure, I was afraid of losing my best friend but more zan that, part of me knew we would end up married if we ever dated and I just wasn't prepared for that."

"So what made you ready?" Alfred eagerly asked.

"Well, I started to realize that Laura wasn't going to wait for me forever —" Anna started.

"So I should let Arthur know that I won't wait for him forever?" Alfred asked.

"If you want to but that was not what I was advising. Besides, that wasn't the only thing that made me ready. I was finally in a better place in my life. I got a job, I had a few good friends that I kept in touch with after I graduated from college, and I saved enough money to move from my parents' house whenever I wished. I didn't want to move unless I was in a relationship since zat would be a waste of money, but it felt good to know that I could afford my own place if I wanted to leave. I don't know, I finally felt ready," Anna explained.

"We got engaged two years later and married two years after that," Laura added as she rested her head on Anna's shoulder.

"That's awesome," Alfred exclaimed.

"Oui but it took a long time for us to get there. I always loved Laura but I'm sure it often didn't seem that way from the outside," Anna said while she held Laura's hand.

"It really didn't," Laura said. "A lot of times I wondered if I was crazy for thinking she had feelings for me."

"And I often thought Laura was over me. Each time she asked me out was a surprise because I thought she lost her feelings for me when I didn't say 'yes' the last time. And Laura could easily get a hot girlfriend whenever she wanted," Anna said.

"Tu es la seule petite amie chaude que je voulais," Laura whispered in Anna's ear.

Anna started to blush. "Tais-toi."

"I don't believe true love ever goes away," Laura said as she sat up to face Alfred again. "Our paths would have always led us to each other, but mostly because one of us would have kept reaching out until we finally ended up together. I know it seems like I did all the work but every time I felt like giving up, Anna would reach out in a small way to let me know not to give up. I'm sure no one would think that was fair but since everything worked out for us I don't think anyone cares about zose things."

"Yeah, sometimes people need time," Anna said before asking, "May I ask how old you are?"

"I'll be twenty-three soon," Alfred answered.

"And how old is Arthur?" Laura asked.

"He just turned twenty-seven," Alfred said.

"Hmm... that's interesting... I was expecting him to be younger than you..." Laura murmured.

"I would not have been ready to be in a serious relationship at twenty-three," Anna said. "Maybe your Arthur will be ready soon now zat he is older."

"Maybe, but zat is quite an age difference. It won't matter later but it might cause some problems now," Laura said.

Alfred frowned a bit. "Yeah, maybe..."

"That could be true but I don't think it's anyone's place to tell you whether you should wait for him or give up," Anna stated. "I'm sure you have family, friends, work, and hobbies. Your life isn't on hold if you decide to give him more time. But you should only do that if that's what your heart wants."

"Oui. You should do whatever makes your heart happiest. People kept telling me to give up on Anna but just the thought of it hurt more than anything else so I didn't listen to any of them, and now we're married," Laura said. "If he wants to be with you zen everything will work out in the end."

"He just means so much to me and I think I mean a lot to him too so it doesn't make sense for us not to be together. I just, I don't know what to do," Alfred mumbled.

Anna gave him a sympathetic smile. "Hey, do you like waffles? Laura makes the best waffles. They will definitely cheer you up."

"I love waffles," Alfred exclaimed.

"Bébé, we don't know which box it's in, et je suis fatigué," Laura whined.

"Je vous laisse être au top toute la semaine," Anna offered as she let go of Laura's hand to squeeze her wife's thigh.

Laura immediately stood up. "You say zat like I'm the only one who'd enjoy it," Laura said while promptly walking over to the boxes to find the waffle maker.

It took a half hour for Laura to make the waffles but they were worth the wait because the waffles were the best ones Alfred ever had in his life.

 


 

It was sometime in the middle of June when Arthur finally texted him. Alfred nearly dropped his phone from surprise since he hadn't heard from Arthur in weeks.

The text simply said:

Still want to go to DC?

Ordinarily, something like this would have thrilled Alfred but instead he felt a little annoyed, so he didn't text the omega back.

It was a few hours later when Arthur texted:

I mean if you still want to...

Somehow this frustrated Alfred even more.

Alfred waited until the following day to text Arthur back and all Alfred wrote was:

Sure

Arthur almost immediately texted:

Are you cross with me?

It was an hour later when Alfred responded with a simple "No".

Several minutes later, Arthur texted:

Do you want to come over next Saturday?
We can plan the trip and maybe watch a movie?

Alfred glared down at his phone. Of course, he still wanted to go to D.C. with Arthur but he didn't like how Arthur seemed to be using that as a way to avoid the fact that they hadn't spoken in weeks.

It was an hour later when Alfred texted Arthur "Ok".

 


 

It was five in the evening when Alfred arrived at Arthur's apartment. He had a whole speech ready that Matthew helped him prepared. Alfred practiced the speech with Ludwig and Feliciano until it was perfect and he had it memorized. He was completely to talk to Arthur about how they hadn't seen each other in months.

Then Arthur opened the door and Alfred was surprised by how thin Arthur seemed. Of course, he had no idea that Arthur had recently gained back much of the weight he had lost.

"Hi..." Alfred said quietly.

Arthur rushed up to him and practically threw his arms around him. Alfred's stiff body immediately relaxed when he felt Arthur against him. As Alfred hugged the omega, he couldn't help but notice how light Arthur's scent was. He could hardly smell it at all.

"Hey," Arthur whispered into Alfred's chest.

Alfred reluctantly pulled away from Arthur and walked into the living room to sit on the couch.

Arthur immediately grew nervous from the frustration that radiated off Alfred's scent. He sat down beside Alfred but left a large gap between them.

"How are you?" Alfred asked a little flatly.

"I'm good..." Arthur awkwardly answered.

"So," Arthur said slowly, trying to break the ice. "How have you been?"

Alfred didn't answer right away. He was quiet for a minute before saying, "Fine."

It was Alfred's habit to push his feelings aside so everything could be good again. He had wanted to see Arthur for a long time and now they finally had the chance to hang out. It didn't make sense to ruin the day by bringing up their problems.

But then Alfred remembered the talk he had with Matthew last year and realized that this was what his brother meant.

Alfred hesitated before saying, "Look... I know you've been super busy with school and everything but we haven't seen each other in nine months."

"I know, I'm sorry," Arthur quickly apologized.

"Are you? Because you seemed totally fine with not seeing me."

Arthur moved on the couch so he could be closer to Alfred. "It's not that. I just, it's just hard for me. I don't really have the time or energy to hang out like we did before."

"You don't have time to see me one day out of the month? Seriously? I mean, I want to see you every day. I get that that's unrealistic to ask for but I'm willing to compromise and see you just one day a month or even one day every two months. I don't think that's an unfair thing to ask."

"It's not," Arthur said.

"Then why haven't I seen you in a year?" Alfred shot back.

"Nine months," Arthur corrected. Nine months was bad enough, he didn't need Alfred to make it worse by rounding it up to a year. When Alfred looked away from him, Arthur furrowed his eyebrows a bit. "You're right... One day a month shouldn't be a lot to ask for... It's just... I don't have the energy to talk or watch movies or fun things with you. I don't have much to offer you beyond cuddling in bed, which we can't do because we're not in a relationship."

"Wait, what are you saying?" Alfred said as he turned to look at Arthur. "So you're not already seeing someone?"

"What? Of course not! Where the bloody hell did you get an idea like that?" Arthur asked.

"Because I haven't seen you in months and you hardly text me," Alfred said before quickly asking, "So wait, are you saying you want to be in a relationship with me?"

Arthur wanted to say yes because of course that was what he wanted. But he also wanted to say no because he still worried that there was no way that it would work out, especially now that he was in school. Instead, he said, "I don't know, Al. I'm... I don't know."

"You're what?" Alfred asked, pressing Arthur to continue.

Arthur didn't want to answer. He brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. Then he said in a light voice, "I'm... afraid."

"Afraid?" Alfred repeated, confused.

Arthur nodded.

When Arthur didn't say anything, Alfred asked, "Afraid of what? Me?"

"No," Arthur quickly answered, then he gingerly added, "I don't know... I mean, you just said you want to see me every day. That's... that's not something I can give you."

"I also said I'm cool with seeing you once a month."

"Yeah but I'm not sure I can give you that either... I'm just really overwhelmed with school and work," Arthur said in a quiet voice. His eyes were watery now and a frown was creeping on his lips.

"You won't be in school forever so that's just a temporary problem. What matters is what you want. Do you want to be in a relationship with me?" Alfred asked.

"But you were just cross because I wasn't able to see you for a few months," Arthur responded while dodging Alfred's question.

"Nine months is more than just a few."

"Yeah and I'll try not to let that happen again... but wouldn't you feel just as upset if it had been two months instead of nine? How would being in a relationship make any of this easier?"

"This isn't about making things easier, Art. I really want to be your boyfriend. There's no reason why we shouldn't be together if you want this too. We can deal with any problems that might come up, I just want to give us a chance."

"I don't know, Al," Arthur muttered. "I just need time to think about it."

"Does that mean your answer is no? Because usually when people say that, it's a 'nice' way of saying they're not interested."

Arthur shook his head. "That's not what I said. I really do need time to think it over."

Alfred took in a slow deep breath before saying, "I can't wait forever, Artie. I know you said this is scary for you so I'm not trying to pressure you or anything but if we both want the same thing then I don't understand why we can't just give this a try and see where it goes."

"I just need time," Arthur insisted.

"How much time?" Alfred asked.

"I don't know."

"Look... if you don't wanna be with me then that's okay. I don't want this to happen unless you want it to — but I'd rather hear it now than weeks or months later," Alfred said.

"My answer isn't no, I just need more time... I don't know, this would all be easier if I wasn't in school."

"Are you saying you wanna wait until you graduate?" Alfred asked. Arthur didn't answer. Taking the omega's silence as confirmation, Alfred asked, "When do you graduate?"

"... In a year."

"Are you saying you want me to wait a year?" Alfred asked incredulously.

"No... I don't know... I just, it would just be harder while I'm taking classes."

"Relationships aren't perfect and easy and trouble-free all the time. If that's what you're waiting for then you're never gonna have a meaningful relationship with anyone."

"I know, I just don't have an answer for you right at this second," Arthur stated while resisting the urge to cry. He wasn't expecting to have this sort of discussion when he had invited Alfred over. Arthur had only meant for them to plan their holiday to D.C. Everything was happening too abruptly for Arthur to process.

Alfred took in a deep breath as he tried to figure out a solution that could work out for both of them. After a long minute, he said, "I can give you the summer — but I need to know by the end of your summer break what you want."

"I don't know if I'll have an answer by then..."

"That's fine. I'm not forcing you to be with me, Art. I know I just said this already but I mean it, I only want this if you want this too. If your answer is anything but 'yes' then I'll just take it as a 'no'."

"But what if I just need more time?"

"I don't think I can give you more time. We've known each other for over two years, Artie. You should already know. I mean I honestly don't know why you can't give me an answer now. You're obviously attracted to me and I think you like who I am —"

"I do," Arthur quickly answered. "You're a really great person."

"Okay. So you like my personality and you're attracted to me. I really don't know what else you need to make your decision. I just think —" Alfred's voice got caught in his throat from the words he was about to say. He balled his hands into tight fists and forced himself to continue. "If I mean a lot to you and if you like me enough then there's no reason why you shouldn't give us a chance."

"So... you're giving me the rest of the summer to think about it?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah," Alfred said. "I mean, I don't really think that should be necessary but yeah, I'm giving you the rest of your break to think it over. But after that... well, I don't know. I mean my feelings aren't gonna go away but there's only so many times a person can get turned down..."

"I know," Arthur murmured. He was quiet for a long moment before asking, "Are we... Do you still want to go to D.C.?"

"Yeah," Alfred said.

Arthur let out a sigh of relief. "Brilliant."

"When do you wanna go?"

"One day this month would be excellent."

"Oh... This month doesn't work for me. I have to host a few seminars for work."

"Seminars? When did your job start making you do that?" Arthur asked.

"Since I became manager," Alfred answered with a small smile.

Arthur gave the alpha a surprised look. "You got a promotion? That's amazing, Al. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I wanted to tell you in person," Alfred said, his smile fading. "I didn't know it was going to take this long to see you."

"Sorry," Arthur felt obligated to say. He didn't want them to dwell on this again, so he said, "Congratulations on your promotion. How do you fancy it so far?

"Well I got the promotion a while ago so I'm used to it now. But yeah, it's cool. I'm a manager now, which is kinda weird but it came with a huge salary bump which was kinda awesome."

"That's wicked," Arthur exclaimed.

"Yeah..." Alfred said flatly. The American tried to act excited, but it was old news. He had already gotten used to the promotion and being called a manager. It wasn't such a big deal to him anymore. "So anyway, maybe we can go next month instead?"

"That's fine. Can we go the first weekend and maybe turn it into an early birthday holiday for you?" Arthur suggested with a smile.

"I can't. Matthew's coming down that weekend. He's bringing his son," Alfred said with a grin. "You can come if you want. It would be great if he could finally meet you."

"Sure, I'll let you know," Arthur said.

"Cool," Alfred said. "How about we go to D.C. two weekends after? Your heat should be over by then, right?"

Arthur shrugged. "My heat has been a little inconsistent lately so I can't be sure when it will start," the omega answered.

Alfred gave Arthur a worried look. Omegas heat cycles never varied much unless they were very sick or under tremendous stress. The fact that Arthur had lost weight was also concerning.

"Don't worry about it, we'll figure it out," Alfred said with a reassuring smile.

 

Chapter Text

After their talk, Arthur was nearly on the verge of hyperventilating. Luckily, before reaching that point, Alfred suggested watching something on the telly. Alfred only stayed long enough for them to watch a half-hour episode of a cooking show that Arthur fancied, then the American left. Although watching telly calmed Arthur down, he was still a little overwhelmed by everything that happened, so he retreated to his bedroom to bury himself underneath his sheets.

The whole visit was easily less than two hours long, and Arthur was surprised to find how unhappy he was about that. He always thought he would favor shorter visits like this but now that he had a chance to experience what it was like, he realized that two hours really wasn't enough time with Alfred. It turned out that Arthur enjoyed spending the day with Alfred just as much as Alfred enjoyed spending the day with him.

Although the visit ended on a positive note, Arthur could only think about the talk that they had at the beginning. He supposed that it shouldn't have been such a surprise. After all, Alfred had been texting him less often for a while. Admittedly, Arthur hadn't really noticed the change in Alfred's texting at first. While Arthur was in school, he felt really close to Alfred even though they hadn't seen each other in so long. This was largely because Arthur had cut the gold ribbon he kept from Alfred's gift into six pieces so he could use it as a bookmark in all his textbooks. Somehow, this made Arthur feel like Alfred was always close to him.

Arthur eventually noticed that Alfred was texting him less often once the American cut down to texting every other day. Initially, Arthur really fancied this because it was less pressure on him. Then Alfred stopped texting him entirely. Arthur noticed that Alfred did text back if he texted the American first, but that was challenging for Arthur to do.

When they went a whole week without any sort of communication, Arthur knew he had messed up. Still, Arthur couldn't bring himself to reach out to Alfred. Each time he went to write a text, he started to panic that Alfred may have lost interest in him. That was a sensible concern, after all, since Alfred had plenty of reasons to give up on him in the years that they had known each other. It wasn't hard to imagine that Alfred had simply reached his last straw of patience.

Despite Arthur's worry, he was able to push himself to eat and gain back most of the weight he had lost. Once he started looking and feeling healthier, he decided to reach out to Alfred. He didn't know how since they had gone so long without speaking. Fortunately, Arthur remembered Alfred's invitation to go to D.C., which seemed like a perfect topic to break the ice with.

"Sod," Arthur grumbled as he rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. He really didn't like that Alfred gave him a deadline to make a decision, although that actually may have been exactly what Arthur needed. After all, the only times Arthur didn't get an A on an assignment was when a firm due date wasn't given.

Arthur would have preferred to wait until he graduated from school to get in a relationship, but perhaps that was merely an excuse. Once he graduated, maybe he would want to wait until he got his ideal job, then he might want to wait even longer until he was in a place where he was ready to start a family.

All in all, Arthur wasn't sure if a perfect time really existed.

Maybe the fact that they both wanted to be together was enough of a reason to give it a try.

Not knowing what to do, Arthur got up to fetch his notebook so he could write out his thoughts.




The first of July was a Friday. After work, Alfred bought decorations and an ice cream cake before going home. The first thing he did was put the ice cream cake in the freezer, then he blew a few balloons and taped them to the living room wall before putting up some streamers.

Once he was done, he went into the spare bedroom and put all hit exercise equipment in the closet. Then he covered the mattress with a bed sheet and placed four pillows on it. Behind the couch was a large relatively flat box. He pulled it out and grabbed the portable crib that was inside. After he finished setting it up, he taped a sign that said "Happy Birthday" on the wall above the bed.

"Nice," Alfred said to himself as he brushed his hands together for a job well done.

He went into the living room and turned on the television so he could play a video game to kill time. It was two hours later when he heard a knock.

"Mattie!" Alfred exclaimed as he opened the door. "Happy birthday, little bro!" He was careful when he hugged Matthew since the omega was holding Tim in his arms. Matthew couldn't hug back but he leaned into Alfred's embrace.

"Thanks, big brother," Matthew said. His eyes were a little squinted and there were bags under them, but there was a big grin on his face. Once Alfred stepped back, Matthew was able to see all the decorations in the room. "Wow. You went all out, eh?"

"Anything for my brother's twenty-second birthday! You're getting so old," Alfred joked.

"You're one to talk! You're a whole year older than me," Matthew said.

Alfred laughed. "Yes, but today we're the same age," Alfred said while looking down at his nephew. "Can I hold Timmy? It feels like I haven't seen him in forever!"

"You see him every month," Matthew chuckled as he handed his son over to Alfred.

"Yeah but he gets bigger and bigger each time I see him," Alfred said with a grin.

"I know, eh," Matthew remarked as he rested his head on Alfred's shoulder and stared down at Tim.

"Hello, little Timmy," Alfred said before he started making faces at his nephew that made Tim giggle. "I wish I could see you guys more often."

"I do too but one weekend a month is really great," Matthew said. Alfred visited at least one weekend every month since Tim was born. It was something Matthew really appreciated. He felt relieved to know that Tim would be familiar with his uncle.

"Oh, hey, where's Gilbert?" Alfred asked.

"He was supposed to bring our stuff from the car but he might be resting," Matthew answered while yawning. "Sorry, I'm just really tired. Gil and I haven't gotten a lot of sleep since Timmy came along. The only time we sleep is when you or Dad and Mom visit for the weekend."

"They're still visiting every month, right?" Alfred asked. Matthew nodded. "See? I told you that you are more important to them than their traveling."

Matthew chuckled. "Yeah, I know."

"So, not to ruin the surprise but I have a birthday cake for you," Alfred said. He smiled when Matthew's eyes lit up.

"An ice cream cake?" Matthew asked.

"Of course," Alfred remarked.

"Ah, that's so perfect but maybe we should wait until tomorrow? Sorry, I kinda wanna go to sleep," Matthew said sheepishly.

"No problem, dude. You're the birthday boy so anything you want is cool with me," Alfred stated. "Oh, actually, let me show you where you guys will be sleeping."

"I know I haven't really been here since you moved in but I think I can figure it out, eh?" Matthew chuckled.

"Sure, sure," Alfred said as he carried Tim over to the spare bedroom. Matthew pushed the door open and walked inside.

"You bought a crib?" Matthew asked as he walked over to it.

"I told you I did," Alfred said as he followed behind him.

"Yeah but you didn't mention how much you spent on it," Matthew remarked as he placed his hands on the rails of the crib. He pushed down on it to test how sturdy it was and was impressed. There was also a small mattress inside that felt like the mattress he had in Tim's crib at home. "This is too much, Al. You didn't have to do all of this."

"It's no big deal, especially now that I'm making more money," Alfred assured him while gently rocking Tim in his arms. "It's portable so it folds easily so I can keep it behind the sofa after you leave."

Matthew turned to say something else about the crib to Alfred when he noticed the banner on the wall. "Ah geez, Al. You didn't have to do all of this," Matthew stated. Despite what he said, there was a big smile on his face. He sat down on the bed and raised his eyebrows. "This is really comfy!"

"I'm glad to hear it," Alfred said with a proud grin. "The original mattress that came with the couch was awful, like it was as stiff as a board, so I replaced it with this."

"You're the best big brother ever," Matthew exclaimed. "Best uncle, too."

"Thanks," Alfred said while looking down at his nephew. He gently lifted him up and down in the air which made Timmy laugh. Without looking at Matthew, Alfred said, "So, I, uh, invited Arthur to come by tomorrow... He wanted to meet you and Timmy... That's okay, right?"

Matthew was slow to respond but finally said, "Sure. I would like to meet the omega who stole my big brother's heart... I guess I'm just a little surprised."

"Surprised?" Alfred asked as he went back to cradling Tim in his arms.

"Well, yeah. You haven't said anything about Arthur in a long while, not since —"

It was then that they heard the front door open. Matthew sighed, deciding to let the conversation go He left the spare room to meet his husband.

"Hey," Alfred greeted as he stepped out of the bedroom.

"Hi," Gilbert greeted back.

"I'm ready to sleep," Matthew admitted with a bit of a pout.

"Me too," Gilbert yawned.

Matthew walked to Alfred and took Tim into his arms. "I guess we're off to sleep."

"Sure, no problem," Alfred said.

"Good night, Alfie," Matthew said before walking into the spare room.

"Good night, Mattie. Night, Gilbert," Alfred said with a very slight grimace. It still felt weird saying the alpha's name.

"Night," Gilbert said before shutting the door.

Alfred wasn't tired yet so he went to the living room to continue playing his video game that was still on pause. Before grabbing the controller, he went to the TV stand and grabbed a set of headphones that he bought a week ago. They were wireless headphones that connected to his television. Alfred tested them out right away and was happy to find that they worked really well. He could even walk into his bedroom and still hear the TV just fine.

Another benefit was that they were soundproof, so a person sitting next to him wouldn't be able to hear them unless the volume was at the maximum setting. They were very comfortable too. He was able to wear them for hours without the headphones bothering him.

They were very expensive and almost didn't seem worth the price but Alfred bought them anyway because he didn't want to disturb his brother while he was sleeping. Now he was really glad that he bought them.

It was around midnight when Alfred finally turned off the game and went to his bedroom to sleep. He fell asleep almost immediately. There were a few times when he heard Tim cry, but it only kept him up a few minutes before he drifted back to sleep again.




The next morning, Alfred cooked eggs and bacon for himself, Matthew, and Gilbert. While he was cooking, Gilbert had pulled the crib into the living room. Then he and Matthew waited until Alfred was done cooking, which didn't take long.

After they all finished eating, Matthew asked if Arthur was still coming over. Alfred sent a text to Arthur but didn't hear back until noon. It turned out that Arthur was too busy to come over.

"Can he come tomorrow before we leave?" Matthew asked. "I would like to finally meet him."

"I'll check," Alfred said. He texted Arthur again before going into the kitchen to make sandwiches for everyone for lunch.

"It's still so strange to see you make food," Matthew teased.

Alfred chuckled. "Yeah. What's really weird is how unhealthy I used to be. I mean, I'm not totally healthy now but I'm like way better than before."

"I see that," Matthew said as Alfred prepared the last sandwich. He wanted to say something about Arthur but decided against it. Instead, he asked, "Since Arthur is busy today, do you think we can visit Ludwig and Feliciano? I haven't seen them in years!"

"That's a great idea," Alfred exclaimed. "Let me go ask them."

Alfred went to text Ludwig and Feliciano while Matthew placed a plate of sandwiches on a tray and brought it out to the living room where Gilbert was sitting.

"They said we can come over," Alfred said with a grin.

"Awesome," Matthew said before turning to look at Gilbert. "Sorry, baby, but do you mind keeping an eye on Timmy while Al and I meet up with our high school friends?"

"Can I play video games while you're gone?" Gilbert asked while giving a look to Alfred.

"Uh, yeah, sure. Just don't save over any of my games," Alfred said.

"Of course," Gilbert said with a grin.

Matthew chuckled as he leaned forward and pecked a kiss on Gilbert's cheek.

"They said we can come over whenever. When do you wanna go?" Alfred asked.

"We can leave now," Matthew said with an excited smile.




When they got to the townhouse, Matthew, Feliciano, and Ludwig jumped into catching up. Alfred reminded everyone that it was Matthew's birthday so Ludwig and Feliciano wished Matthew a happy birthday even though they had already done so online.

Although they all kept in touch through social media, it had been a long time since they had seen each other. Matthew had a chance to meet the twins while Matthew got to share videos and pictures of Tim that he hadn't posted on his profile.

After a while, the twins went upstairs to their bedroom to watch a movie to give the grownups some space. Or maybe the grownups were boring and they had funner things to do. Either way, the moment the girls were gone, Matthew said, "Sorry, I don't want to make anything awkward but I think maybe we should talk about Arthur, eh?" Matthew suggested.

"What?" Alfred gasped.

"Ja! Thank you," Ludwig exclaimed, almost leaping from the couch they were all sitting on. "Alfred, can you please just explain to me what is going on between you und Arthur?"

"It's true, you haven't said anything about him in weeks. Are you two still together?" Feliciano asked.

Ludwig placed his hand on top of Feliciano's hand and gently rubbed it. "They weren't together, strudel."

"Oh yeah," Feliciano giggled. "I forgot. You two were just so cute together!"

"So what's going on between you and Arthur, eh?" Matthew pressed.

"What is this, a freakin' intervention?" Alfred huffed.

"Sì," Feliciano answered in an inappropriately upbeat voice.

Matthew placed his hand on Alfred's arm and said, "Come on, eh. I might be meeting him for the first time, I would like to know what's going on between you two. I'm not trying to tell you what to do or anything."

"As if you could tell him to do anything," Ludwig snorted. "Remember high school and university? This one kept falling in love with one omega after the other und never listened to a word any of us said, not even with that one arsehole who kept cheating on him."

"Guys," Alfred protested.

"Sorry but he's right, Al," Matthew stated. "You don't listen to anyone. I don't think any of us are telling you to give up on Arthur, or at least I'm not telling you to give up on him. I just want to make sure that this isn't like all the other times..."

Before Alfred could respond, Feliciano said, "I really liked Arthur."

"Thank you," Alfred said a little too loudly.

"I mean, I liked when you two are together because you are so happy but I don't like how sad you get when you cannot see him. You know... you can have any omega you want," Feliciano said reassuringly. "There are many fishes in the ocean."

"Other fish in the sea," Alfred corrected. "And I hate that saying."

"Mein strudel is right," Ludwig said. "So what is this all about, Alfred? Are you just wanting what you cannot have?"

"No, of course not," Alfred snapped. "Look, can you all just drop it? Arthur and I are fine, okay? I mean, we just had a huge talk like two weeks ago."

"Really?" Matthew said with raised eyebrows.

"Yeah..." Alfred said, instantly regretting what he said. He usually told them everything but this was one thing he wanted to keep to himself in case Arthur decided not to be with him by the end of the summer.

"What was the talk about?" Ludwig asked.

Alfred frowned a bit as he tried to decide how much of the conversation he wanted to share. "It's nothing. I just talked to him about some important stuff."

"Like what?" Matthew asked.

"Like how he hadn't seen me in such a long time," Alfred answered.

"Well, that's good... I hope the message sunk in... Have you noticed any differences?" Matthew asked.

Alfred nodded. "He's texting me every day again."

"Well... that's something," Ludwig muttered.

"Yeah. If anything, it just shows that school really was the reason why he kinda disappeared," Alfred said in Arthur's defense.

"Maybe..." Matthew said. "I wish you would tell Dad and Mom about Arthur."

"Why? So they can tell me to move on and find some other omega so I can give them more grand-babies? I think I'll pass," Alfred scoffed.

"They still think he's just some guy you used to share lunch with," Matthew said a little sternly. "It's hard to keep this a secret from them when they know so little, especially now that they come over every month to help out with Timmy."

Alfred sighed as he looked at his brother. With another sigh, he begrudgingly said, "Fine. I'll tell them once summer is over."

"Why wait?" Ludwig asked.

Alfred shrugged and said as nonchalantly as he could muster, "I don't know, maybe something might happen between me and Arthur during the summer. He is on summer break so who knows?"

"I guess that makes sense..." Matthew said. "But don't get your hopes up too high."

"I won't..." Alfred lied.




They stayed for a few more hours before finally leaving. Once they were in the car, Matthew asked, "Have you told Arthur anything about me?"

"Just that you're my brother," Alfred chuckled. "Oh, and I sent him a few pictures of Timmy."

"That's good. I know you're very close to him but I'd rather if you didn't tell him about me," Matthew said.

"I know, I know, you like your privacy..." Alfred paused for a second before asking, "What if we started dating?" It was a fair question to ask. Alfred was never allowed to tell his previous boyfriends anything personal about Matthew, not even the omega who Alfred had dated for nearly two years.

Matthew didn't answer right away. He furrowed his eyebrows a bit as he readjusted his glasses.

"If you two are together for a while and get really serious..." Matthew slowly said, "And by 'serious' I mean if you're thinking about proposing to him, then sure, of course you could tell him then — but not a moment sooner."

The answer wasn't surprising. After all, Matthew only liked sharing personal information with people who he considered family. In fact, Alfred probably shouldn't have told Arthur about the surrogacy.

"Sure, no problem," Alfred promised.




Once they got back to the apartment, Alfred and Gilbert sang happy birthday to Matthew; then Alfred got the ice cream cake out of the freezer. They each got a huge piece. After they were done eating, Alfred asked if they wanted to watch a movie. Matthew was afraid he might fall asleep in the movie, so Alfred and Gilbert played a car racing game together.

It was sometime in the evening when Arthur texted back.

"Was that him?" Matthew asked.

Alfred paused the fighting game that he and Gilbert recently started playing to look at the text. "Yeah. He says he'll try to make it tomorrow."

"That took a long time," Gilbert commented. "He seems like a really indecisive omega..."

Alfred frowned a bit but decided not to reply to the comment. Instead, he asked, "Another round?"

"Maybe your stupid attacks will work this time," Gilbert taunted.

"You're on," Alfred said as he picked up the controller.

They played for an hour longer before Matthew had to call it a night. The omega was so tired that his eyes were practically closed. He hugged Alfred before he picked Tim up from the crib and started to walk in the spare room. Alfred paused the game so Gilbert could take the crib back into the bedroom.

Alfred and Gilbert went back to playing the video game a few minutes later. While they played, they whispered jeers at each other while being careful not to wake up Tim. They played for a couple of hours until Gilbert was simply too exhausted to keep going.

"I must call it a night," Gilbert said. He set the controller down and stood up.

"Good night," Alfred said.

"Same to you."

Once Gilbert was out of sight, Alfred started to smile to himself. It felt nice not hating his brother's husband.

Alfred turned off the video game and television before going to his bedroom to sleep.

Chapter Text

Arthur was standing in front of the mirror in the loo, staring hard at his reflection. After spending an exorbitant amount of time picking out an outfit, he started to panic about meeting Matthew, which was the same problem he ran into the day before.

He knew it was a little silly but meeting Matthew was a bigger deal than when he met Ludwig and Feliciano. It was even more significant because of the talk Arthur recently had with Alfred. Arthur wasn't sure if he should meet Matthew if his answer wasn't going to be "yes" by the end of the summer. Yet, not meeting Matthew could cause problems later if Arthur's answer happened to be yes later on.

Alfred had sent a text several hours ago to ask if Arthur was still coming. Arthur didn't reply because he simply didn't know.

With a sigh, Arthur got out his makeup remover and started to remove the touch of eyeshadow and lipgloss that was on his face.

He supposed he should respond to Alfred's text even though that would only make him more anxious. Still, Alfred deserved to get an answer because, frankly, the alpha had probably waited long enough.

 


 

Arthur arrived at Alfred's apartment a little after one o'clock. He stood in front of the door for about ten minutes before he finally knocked. 

The door opened almost instantly.

"Arthur," Alfred happily exclaimed. "You made it."

"Yeah," Arthur said, blushing despite himself.

Once Arthur walked inside, Alfred wrapped his arm around Arthur's shoulder and said, "This is Arthur."

"Hi," Arthur quietly greeted as he leaned close to Alfred and practically melted against the American's side.

"Hello," Matthew said as he walked up to Arthur. He held out his hand for Arthur to shake. "I'm Matthew. You probably already know that I'm Alfred's younger brother."

"Yeah, it's nice to meet you," Arthur said as he shook Matthew's hand. He tried to keep his hand steady but he was so nervous that it trembled a bit.

Matthew noticed this and lowered an eyebrow. Ignoring it for the moment, Matthew said, "And over there is my husband Gilbert."

"Hey," Gilbert greeted without getting up from the couch or looking away from the television. In front of him was a crib since the coffee table was pushed toward the balcony door. Tim was standing in the crib while holding on the rail for support.

"Oh, is that Tim inside the crib?" Arthur asked.

Matthew nodded. "Would you like to meet him?"

"Yes," Arthur said with a timid but excited smile.

"Come on," Matthew said as he walked over to the crib. Arthur followed him and smiled as he looked down at the baby.

Tim made some sort of babbling sound as he lifted his arms up in the air to be picked up. Matthew smiled as he lifted Tim into his arms. "Do you want to hold him?"

"Yeah," Arthur answered, almost immediately stretching his arms out to take Tim.

Matthew handed Tim over who started smiling widely at Arthur.

"'Ello," Arthur said to Tim.

"Dadadadadaaaa," Tim babbled while touching Arthur's face.

Alfred grinned as he got close to Arthur and placed a hand on his shoulder. "He really likes you!"

Arthur giggled as Tim started to play with his hair. "I fancy him too. He's a curious little one."

"So Alfred said that you're in university. How's that going?" Matthew asked.

"Oh I love it," Arthur said with a wide smile as he wiggled his eyebrows to make Tim laugh. "It's bloo-uh-ruddy difficult, that's for sure but I love being back in school. I'm learning so much."

"Ruuruhruhruh," Tim happily prattled.

Everyone smiled as Tim kept trying to say the word "ruddy". 

"Have you made any new friends?" Matthew asked while smiling at Tim. 

Alfred was interested to know too even though the question never crossed his mind. He had gone so long without seeing Arthur that he never wondered if Arthur was making friends at school.

"I think so," Arthur said uncertainly.

Matthew furrowed his eyebrows a bit. "You think so? Shouldn't you know if they're your friends?" 

Arthur frowned a bit but only for a second. It was difficult for him to feel down when Tim was so bubbly and making such cute faces.

"I started