It's the shrill buzzing of your phone that makes you blearily rouse from sleep, aching as your hand slaps along the beside table.
Your eyes are blurry, but shit: is it still dark out? Is this what the weather's like in Jackson?
Pitch black doesn't fit with your knowledge of 10am starts.
But when your hand finds your phone and clicks the light on, you realise it isn't your phone making a shrill 'cuckoo' noise in the darkness.
And it's 3 in the fucking morning.
Your sleeping partner makes a mufled groan against his pillow; hissing a cuss under his breath as he finds his mobile. Ben shifts away from your skin, sliding his thumb across the pad of his phone and shutting off his blaring alarm.
"Sorry," he runs a hand through his hair, sniffing.
You miss his warmth already as you settle back into the covers; reaching for your Omega with a yawn. You manage to snake your arms around his muscled torso, and Ben sits up in the dark.
His voice is musky: sexy and low, all muffled with sleep.
"Pills," Ben groggily adds.
You hear the sound of his pill box shaking, closely followed by the cap of a bottle unscrewing as Ben downs several gulps and the handful of contents. After a few seconds of waiting for the water to go down; the blankets shift, and Ben leans back down into your embrace.
Even in the complete dark, you can almost see the vulnerable sleepiness in his expression. Eyes fluttering shut, his hair mussed as he pulls you back into his chest.
Wraps himself around you tightly - and his scent tighter than even that.
The mix of sleepy pheromones and the subtle undercurrent of Omega is just...beautiful. So calming and right: like breathing in the most soothing balm for your soul as you listen to the steady sound of his heart. Someone so huge ought not to be so gorgeously soft - right down to the very breaths that he takes against the pillow.
You never knew anyone could make you feel this steady.
Not in all your days.
"How often?" you whisper, leaning up just enough to kiss the underside of his jaw. Tiny traces of stubble ghost over your lips; in the dark, Ben's throat bobs.
"You take those at this time every night?"
Ben pulls the blanket up tighter over your shoulders; muscles in his arm flexing as he shifts slightly.
"Nah. Just while I'm--" he's cut off by a yawn, making his chest shudder as his jaw flexes. "--Coming off the scramblers. For the side effects."
Cycling. It's to stop him cycling too early - stop his heats breaking through when he's still adjusting.
It shouldn't make the space between your hipbones buzz. Shouldn't, in polite society.
But thinking of Ben in--
It's low and groggy and rumbles in his chest: this quiet request that wrings from his tired lips. Ben's thigh tangles between yours, and the material of his sweatpants brushes your inner thigh.
He's quiet, for a moment.
"Tomorrow. For a while," he swallows hard, "stay."
It's hard to imagine wanting to leave at all.
You nod softly, and Ben's exhale is filled with relief.
And you fall back into dreamless sleep with your Omega curled peacefully around you.
You wake up the next morning to the sound of retching.
Your toes wiggle, eyes reluctantly pulling open in the unfamiliar room. The bathroom door off to the side is pulled shut; Ben's scent still fresh on the sheets of the empty bed.
Distress coils in your stomach, and it physically aches right through you. Makes your chest squeeze as you peel back the sheets and cross the room, rapping your knuckles against the off-coloured door. Morning light is streaming through the windows, so at the very least Ben's gotten some haphazard sleep.
He retches again with a wet choke - and your bones hurt under your skin at the thought of it.
He coughs; spluttering as he heaves a breath.
"Don't come in."
It's halfway between a command and a plea; smacking into your soul with such force that you feel it careening inside of you. A part of you reels from being ordered to desist - still fractured from years of seeing Ben Solo as the haughty Alpha you'd despised.
Another part of you just can't miss the pleading in his voice; forcing you to wring your hands and sigh.
Ben groans, the sound of it reverberating through the bathroom walls. Distress stings your nostrils, and...God. Oh God.
"These meds suck."
Shit. Poor Ben.
"What can I do?" you ask, irritated and halfway to distraught. Your heart pounds, driving you so close to just bursting down the door.
This is horrible. Horrible.
More wet sounds; and Ben spits and chokes.
"Stay," he gasps through the haze. "Please."
Ripping your hands away from the door, you pace over to the window. Back to the door. To the window. Back to the door. Too pained to leave; your palms sweat as you roll your lip between your teeth. It feels like an age as your faded pyjamas grow itchier on your skin.
Rationally, you know this'll be okay. This is fine - it happens.
But the Alpha in you can barely breathe. Barely think.
And that's when the band on your wrist gives a few sharp beeps.
The LED blinks a deep red; silver glinting as you freeze on the spot. Shit - shit. Not again.
You curse under your breath as your skin prickles, keening for Ben's safety so much that your hands tremble. The beeps become more violent, and fuck, fuckfuckfuckfuck--
"Breathe," you close your eyes, taking a deep breath. "It's fine. Breathe. Breathe."
What if he dies? What if he's miserable? What if you've made him feel like this? Feel awful?
What sort of Alpha are you?
You heave a shaky breath.
"He's fine. I'm fine. Deep breaths."
The beeping slows; red light dancing on your wrist as you toy at the metal. It seems to take another endless eternity, but as you sink back against the wall: strong hands take yours.
"Look at me," Ben tenderly says, rubbing his thumbs over your clammy pulsepoints.
Scenting them just briefly.
And your eyes drag open.
In the low light of the room - Dear God, he's so handsome. Flushed and red-eyed, distressed as it toys at the corners of his mouth: but beautiful nonetheless. Ben's breath smells of fresh mint as it fans over your face, a sad smile creeping to the corners of his lips when he bends to be level with you.
The beeping stops, and your breathing falters.
"Sorry," you shake your head, running a hand through your hair, "shit, Ben..."
"Nausea - that's all. Nothing serious."
The freckles on his face are dusted so softly by the light as you sniffle; wiping away tears you hadn't even felt tracing over your cheeks. Ben coaxes you back to the safety of the bed, and without hesitation you fall back into his waiting arms.
Nothing serious. Your Omega's fine.
Nothing serious at all.
Ben pipes up, breaking the pensive silence holding you both in the scratchy nest of sheets.
"Came on so fast," he swallows thickly, running his fingers over your skin appreciatively, "tried not to wake you, but..."
"But you're okay."
You don't mean it to come out as a question. Really. It's intended to just be a logical statement - but the way your voice hitches...
Okay. Good. Okay.
"Those medications really take a toll on you."
Ben huffs a laugh, shrugging as he kisses your shoulderblade. The feel of his lips on your skin makes your body break into shivers - the lovely sensation of him bringing your racing pulse back down to something more managable. Something softer; a place only an Omega can coax you to reaching.
It's heaven and hell, and every beautiful moment that winds them together.
"The change has been..." his face contorts, sucking the inside of his lip. "...Challenging..."
"I can't even imagine."
Ben just leans back against the pillows, bringing both of his arms up behind his head. From this angle his biceps twitch, and holy shit. Holy shit, he's built as anything.
You'd suck his dick again in a snap.
He chews his tongue, and that signature pout he takes on when a thought crosses his mind moves over his face.
"Can I ask you something?"
You roll onto your stomach; leaning in to face him as you balance your weight on your elbow. From this angle, Ben's heavy lidded eyes take you in with this...this brilliant softness. This lovely honesty that sends your heart reeling, even in the calmness of the moment.
"Go for it."
He clears his throat.
"How long did you hate me for? Before that night at the Union. Were you gunning for my guts before I stood Rey up?"
You never really thought he'd...
Honestly slams into your desire to protect him, and both throw eachother to the floor to find a victor. It's so complex: how he muddles your brain, pulling it apart like wet tissue with a quirk of his lips.
Omegas are the strangest, most beautiful things the world has ever created.
So fucking dangerous.
Amusement colours Ben's flushed features, and his lips quirk up at the corners just so.
"Long pause," Ben whistles.
"Your pheromones are holding me hostage."
Ben's resulting blush is so beautiful that your heart sings, and your laugh grows deeper when you move to answer him honestly.
"I didn't hate you. I don't think. I mean," you trace your fingertip over a muscle on his stomach, and it twitches under your touch, "you drove me nuts. Always being oh-so-perfect. Striding around like you owned every inch of the Faculty. It drove me up the damned wall, watching you move through the world like you could take what you want from anyone at any point. And I guess you blowing off Rey was just..." you sigh, shaking your head, "...a reason. Motivation. To want to punch you, but...properly? That's fucking terrible justification."
"Makes a weird amount of sense."
Ben chews the inside of his cheek.
You raise your brows. "Knew?"
"Knew you'd scent me if I didn't step back." Ben runs a hand through his thick locks, rolling his lip between his teeth. "You have to understand what it was like - knowing I've never met a single female Alpha before in all my life. And there you are. Focused and determined and lovely as anything. I knew I was condemned the moment I caught the scent of you; this stupid Faculty meeting we had years back in--"
"--Fletcher Auditorium. I remember. That tedious introduction seminar with the free quiches. The Dean made us all shake hands; I remember thinking you had these massive mitts when you came over. My whole hand just melted into yours when you shook it."
Ben swallows, and you smile with interest.
"Come on then - lay it on me," you gesture with your hand, twiddling your toes. "Tell me what was rattling around in your brain."
He pauses, for a moment.
"I felt like I was dying. I felt awful."
The strange emotion must filter to your expression, because Ben strokes a warm hand through your hair.
"You don't--" he winces. "--Books and movies make it sound so good, when that Alpha guy catches the scent of an Omega. They make it sound like it's this moment of clarity, and the world comes into focus. Maybe it's different for Omega guys, but I remember everything washing over me; this smell that made my whole body feel like it was a lead weight, dragged towards you. My veins hurt and my mouth was so dry and I remember thinking 'fuck, if I even touch her I'll pass out on the damn floor'. And the pain when I did it...I don't think my heart slowed down for days after. Couldn't stop tasting you on my tongue; just..."
You want to say something.
But Jesus - what can you say? What can you say, after all these years living this life?
After all these years of of not knowing?
You think he'll continue; but Ben's hands drop from behind his neck. One calloused hand slowly takes your chin in his fingers, and there's a palpable moment.
A sound hangs in the back of his throat: eyelashes fluttering as he chews down a thought. Chews it, and swallows it whole.
And crushes his lips to yours.
There is a profound silence in the morning light; existing in a slow moment, somewhere in the air. This gorgeous way the world holds its breath, in these hours between hours - his lips soft and yielding, tongue darting over the curve of your lips in the hungriest way, as Ben Solo shows every inch of needing you. How could you deny him it? Deny him this moment; your hand reaching out to bring him closer into the very soul of you?
Wanting more of something you can barely comprehend?
Ben's free hand reaches to smooth at the small of your back, and in response - you lean forward, pressing your chest against his as your lips push deeply to his. Your resulting gasp for breath makes pheremones prickle through the air: these deep, needy promises that hover between you both, right as your hands find the bare plains of his chest--
It's the sound of your phone's alarm that brings you both parting in frustration; your jaw clenched as Ben's breath heaves from his chest.
You have to go. Presentations start soon: need to shower. Read through your notes.
Ben's whisper is almost breathless; his hair mussed, chest trying to gain some traction as he holds you loosely. Vulnerability lingers in the warm depth of his eyes, and God: how you just want to drown in it.
To never, ever move from this stolen moment.
"I'm presenting," you huff, halfway through a laugh as your forehead falls against his, "need to practice."
He groans; Ben's forehead pushing more urgently against yours.
"Stay here. Stay here with me."
"And do what? Order room service?"
Ben's lips tease at yours, and Dear God: his teeth nip at your bottom lip.
Everything blurs, your thighs rubbing together when you lean in to drag the scent of him even deeper into your chest. The muscles of him are tight against your wandering hands, even as your phone bleeps angrily...
"Let me fuck you," he begs, and the whimper in his voice is almost disguised. "I want to fuck you so much. Want you to wring me dry; I need it, Alpha--"
"You want it too. Just stay here - we can just--"
And it's finite - even if you wish it weren't.
If you could fuck him right now...
"Ben," you shake your head, pulling away from the gorgeous scent of him. Sheets shift as you roll to grab your phone; flicking off the alarm and pocketing it in the threadbare material of your shorts. "You think I don't want to? You think I--?" You huff, balling your fists. "I want this...too much. And I'll fuck up right now. We'll fuck up - the both of us."
Ben doesn't say a thing at all; strong jaw working at his teeth in the morning light.
"When we're home," you tell him, soft smile filtering to your eyes, "we could..."
"Yeah. We could."
The way the warm blush filters over his cheekbones as you sit up makes your heart oscilate for him. Makes you crave to turn around and tell Ben Solo how much sleeping next to him has dragged him right through your blood - how seeing this vulnerability in him has struck a match you can't comprehend.
You want to tell him every little part of how he looks like heaven itself, even as you kiss his cheek. Even as he leans in as though to bathe in the moment; needing to make it last just a second longer.
You want to.
When you tear away and put your hand on the cold handle of the door...there's no limit to how much you feel you should've held him tight. Told him how he moves you; how he's changed you, exactly as he told you you'd cast a spell on the very fabric of him.
But you don't look back at him.
You try to focus, as you step out into the cold light of the corridor.
Should've told him.