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Good Things (Are Supposed To) Come In Threes

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“Fuck, sometimes I forget just how good you smell, Shua,” Seungcheol growls against the omega’s neck, biting down none-too-gently after his words and leaving a stinging red mark that Joshua will most definitely feel tomorrow.

His words do not make Joshua feel better. In fact, he freezes under the alpha, hands tightening their grip around the older’s shoulders. His breath hitches and something hurts deep in his chest at the notion that Seungcheol would forget his scent, but Seungcheol takes his momentary pause as a good indication, so he continues making little bite marks all over Joshua’s pale skin, leaving behind his own rainy smell, covering up the omega’s sweet green tea scent.

“Look at you, such a pretty thing, aren’t you?” Jeonghan, his other alpha, coos from where he’s sat next to them, casually watching Seungcheol slowly unravel the omega. His rosey scent is something Joshua loves to the depths of his heart, but at the moment all he can think of is thorns as Seungcheol’s hands wander over his naked body, trailing fire with his fingertips. The other two are still both fully clothed, and Joshua feels exposed.

This is one of their rare days when they’re all together, because his alphas have jobs that keep them away from the house often, so Joshua is left to take care of the house by himself most of the time, but when they’re together, it often ends with them in bed, making up for lost time with passionate kisses and wandering hands. Joshua is glad to offer himself up to them, happy and eager to please, but lately he’s just been wanting to cuddle, to touch innocently and hug his alphas close, drinking in their scents while they’re all still clothed and relaxed. Desperate to think of something, anything else to distract himself, Joshua whines softly, and both of his alphas chuckle.

“Needy little omega,” Seungcheol says darkly, eyes commanding and powerful. Joshua loves those eyes, he’s so smitten for them, but he can’t find it in himself to keep contact with them for more than a split second. It doesn’t end up mattering much, since he closes his eyes when Seungcheol’s broad hands flit lower and lower until they’re teasing over his cock and inner thighs. His hips buck up involuntarily, and he almost hates how his body reacts from such a simple touch.

“What do you want, baby? Come one, say it out loud or I’ll have to punish you,” Seungcheol purrs into his ear, and Joshua winces again. It’s a tiny flinch, and it goes unnoticed by both his alphas, which he’s thankful for. He knows that they won’t actually hurt him, but he’s always had a fear of pain and even when the words were said in such a sultry context they still make his heart beat faster, and not in a good way.

“P-please,” he forces out, because as conflicted as he is, he wants to feel good too. “Please touch me.” He low whimper escapes him as Seungcheol’s thumb rubs slowly around the head of his twitching length, touches tantalizingly slow.

“Beg for it, Shua, tell me how much you want it. Be a good omega now, say it.”

Be a good omega. Joshua can’t help but shiver whenever they say that to him. He’s supposed to be the perfect storybook omega, docile and obedient, compliant to whatever his alpha’s wishes are. He knows they don’t actually mean that, but still, whenever it slips out, he can’t help but feel like he can’t be his own person, like his entire existence is defined by his status.

“I want it so badly, Cheolie, please, I need you,” he whimpers, pulling the alpha closer. He longs for some kind of comfort, any gentle contact, just something to ground him. He nearly whimpers again when Seungcheol pulls away from him to sit up properly, still pumping the omega’s cock at a torturously slow pace.

“You sound so nice when you’re begging, sweetheart,” Jeonghan croons, and though the pet name usually makes Joshua light up with warm and fuzzy feelings, he instead feels almost mocked. He bites his lip to stifle a whine as Seungcheol’s hand starts moving in earnest, but the older alpha leans over him, giving a sharp bite to his neck.

“Don’t cover it up,” he orders, and Joshua obediently lets his lips fall open into another wanton moan. He loses himself in the feeling, letting his body move how it wants. For the moment, he feels good, feels pleasured, until Jeonghan opens his mouth again.

“Such pretty moans, aren’t they, Cheol? Sounds so good coming from such a perfect, slutty little omega. Our naughty little omega.”

No, no, please don’t start-

If there’s one thing Joshua can’t handle, it’s being degraded. He was never good at taking criticism and harsh advice, but here, where he’s open and exposed and vulnerable, it feels millions of times worse. Especially when Jeonghan is talking about him like he isn’t there.

He knows he’s kind of emotionally weak when it comes to being teased or jokingly made fun of. He knows he’s too sensitive, but he can’t shake the crawling feeling that steals over him whenever someone makes an off-handed comment about him.

And for the most part, his alphas have known and respected that. Instead of using harsh words to excite him, they compliment him, praise him and make him feel like, for once, he’s worth loving. They’re very considerate, and honestly the most perfect partners Joshua could ever dream to have. He knows Jeonghan probably didn’t even mean to say it, the words probably just slipped out in the heat of the moment, because Jeonghan would never really be mean to him.

So he tell himself he has no right to feel the way he does, like ice is invading his veins and making him shiver. No, he’s not allowed to. He has two amazing alphas for mates, a roof over his head, and all the love he could ask for. He has no right to feel bad. That’s selfish, and good omegas aren’t supposed to be selfish. That’s bad.

He still can’t help the choked whine that leaves him, though he tries his best to make it sound more needy. Thankfully, Seungcheol snorts at the sound, gaze hooded as he looks down at his omega.

“Do you want me to fuck you, Shua? Want me to fill you up with my cock and leave you gasping? Want me to to fuck you so hard you’re screaming? I bet you’d love that, wouldn’t you?” he practically snarls, and he nips at the claiming bite he left on the right side of Joshua’s neck, opposite of Jeonghan’s.

“Y-yes, I want that,” Joshua whispers. “Please, Cheol, I want you inside me…” He’s still being truthful, so he doesn’t feel too bad, and his thoughts cut out for a moment when Seungcheol’s hands gives him one last squeeze. Then he whines again as the alpha pulls away, handed lube courtesy of Jeonghan.

“Eager, aren’t you?” he chuckles as Joshua wiggles his hips. “Never thought you’d get so...naughty,” he purrs. Joshua can tell he was about to use a darker adjective, and that makes his insides curl more, but he’s at least grateful that he didn’t say it aloud.

He moans when Seungcheol pushes his first finger in without much warning, the feeling making his head swim. It’s not exactly painful, it never is, but it’s a bit sudden for Joshua’s liking. Still, as he gets used to Seungcheol’s gentle thrusting, his body warms and welcomes the tingling pleasure, and he moans again, a wordless plea.

He yelps as Seungcheol pushes another finger in suddenly, and the alpha soothes him with kisses to his legs.

“Relax, baby, it’ll feel good soon. You like being finger-fucked, don’t you? Like it a lot, right? I could probably make you cum untouched if I wanted; you’re so sensitive. It’s almost funny, how easy it is to push you over the edge,” he chuckles, thrusting his fingers a little harder and making the omega groan hoarsely. His mind is conflicted, but his thoughts are cut off again as Seungcheol adds a third finger, crooking them up in a way he knows will make Joshua scream.

“Your fucking voice, Shua, goddamn,” Jeonghan breathes, leaning down to kiss the omega. “You could be a fucking pornstar with that kind of voice. You’d be perfect for the role, all eager and willing and innocent-looking. A perfect little slut for me and Cheolie.”

He whimpers against Jeonghan’s lips, and the alpha doesn’t seem to notice the bare tinge of pain in the omega’s voice, too busy with licking and nipping his way into the younger’s mouth. His dainty fingers trail over Joshua’s chest, rubbing at his nipples and making him jerk. Jeonghan’s hands and mouth on him, combined with Seungcheol still rubbing him in all the right places, makes a white hot heat coil in Joshua’s belly, slow and tingly.

“Ch-Cheol,” he mewls, and dimly he hears the alpha chuckle.

“Already? Well aren’t you pent-up. So sensitive. Do you want to cum, Shua?” His voice is dripping honey and for a second Joshua can’t answer because his mind isn’t quite caught up, but Seungcheol’s fingers slowing to a stop inside of him makes him blearily lift his head, whining at the loss of stimulation.

“Come on, baby, beg for it. You want to cum, right?” Joshua, still somewhat out of it from Jeonghan’s passionate kissing, takes another moment to answer. He nods and starts to speak, but apparently that isn’t good enough because Seungcheol’s fingers slip slowly out of him, teasing and unsatisfying.

“Too slow, baby,” Seungcheol singsongs, rubbing at his entrance. Joshua, at that point, is feeling oddly tingly around his eyes and he’s feeling feelings he really shouldn’t be. He isn’t allowed to feel those feelings. He’s forbidden himself from feeling them, because he has no reason to, he tells himself.

“Please,” he begs, reaching for Seungcheol with a shaky hand. Tutting, Jeonghan snags his wrists, lightly pinning them above his head. It’s not a new position, but somehow it makes Joshua feel very caged in. He wiggles a little, trying to loosen Jeonghan’s grip, but the alpha simply smirks and holds him tighter, placing light little kisses along Joshua’s cheeks.

“It’s alright baby, you’ll be ok,” he hums, and it almost manages to make Joshua smile, the comforting words and kisses providing some much needed relief. But only almost.

The pleasure is fading from his body and he hates that, but Seungcheol still hasn’t relented, only using his fingers to dance over the omega’s thighs and just barely over his cock. They were teasing him, having fun making him twitch and wiggle, the occasional fond coo slipping out of their mouths. Joshua just wants them to touch him.

“Please, Cheol, keep touching me,” he keens, and the alpha smirks, hand resting against his thigh.

“I am, sweetheart,” he teases, and Joshua huffs.

“I meant put your fingers back in me,” he snaps, and that earns him a sharp flick to the inside of his thigh and a slender finger pressed to his lips.

“Ah ah~” Jeonghan trills, “be a good boy now, Shua, no demanding. If you behave, then maybe you’ll get what you want. If you don’t...well me and Cheol can always get each other off,” he snorts. It’s meant to be joking, but it stings. It hurts. To think of them being intimate without him, as if they don’t even need him in their relationship, which is a stupid thought since they’re mated and are bonded for life, but it doesn’t stop the intrusive thoughts that start to trickle in from the dark places in Joshua’s mind.

Maybe they don’t want you, one of them whispers. Joshua shakes his head violently, looking with big eyes up at the long-haired alpha.

“I’ll be good,” he promises, albeit weakly, and Jeonghan smiles.

“I know you will.”

 


 

The slick sounds of skin against skin and lewd, wet noises fill the room, along with the creaking of the bed. Not to mention Joshua’s loud, needy moans and the two alpha’s harsh praise.

“You’re such a fucking cockslut, aren’t you? I bet you’d love to have Hannie fuck your mouth,” Seungcheol growls, and again, Joshua’s body freezes. “He’d make you beg for it like a little bitch, and then you’d take him so well because honestly your mouth was just made to suck dick.” Joshua whimpers, because suddenly he does not want to be there right now, but there’s absolutely no way he can get out without causing a fuss. He knows if he tells them to stop, they will right away but they’ll also ask him what’s wrong, and he can’t tell them that. He just can’t.

“That’s a good idea,” Jeonghan hums, carding his hands through the omega’s hair from where he sits beside them. He’s only shirtless, still sitting cross-legged in his jeans. “Do you want that, baby?”

The fact that they’re asking for permission almost seems mocking, but Joshua nods, because he wants them to feel good, even if he doesn’t. And he does feel good, just in a...superficial way. His body feels like it’s on fire from the pleasure but his mind is cold and his thoughts are dark. He doesn’t know how to act anymore so he just nods again, letting his alphas take the lead like a good omega should.

At first Jeonghan is gentle, just letting Joshua move how he wishes, the omega breathing heavily through his nose as Seungcheol pounds into him, but soon a hand finds his hair and grips tight, guiding him down further. Because he has basically no gag reflex, he isn’t too bothered, but the hand in his hair is starting to feel painful.

He whines around Jeonghan’s cock and wiggles his head, trying to get the alpha to loosen his grip a little. It works, and Joshua is quite relieved, but only for a short amount of time as Jeonghan’s hands tug lightly at his hair, an almost involuntary reaction.

Joshua is wary of that, because hair pulling was a hard limit they’d set up when they first started dating and taking care of Joshua’s heats together. No hair pulling, no pain play, and no degrading. That was what Joshua had asked for.

A particularly well-angled thrust from Seungcheol makes Joshua’s eyes fly open and a half gasp, half moan leave his throat, and the vibrations from his voice make Jeonghan twitch, yanking a little harder than he’d intended on Joshua’s hair. The omega whimpers and Jeonghan finally seems to realize what his hands are doing. He takes his hand away, dropping it to cup Joshua’s cheeks.

“S-sorry baby, didn’t even realize that. You’re being so good for us, such a perfect omega. Such a perfect little-” Joshua keens in the back of his throat, because he really doesn’t want Jeonghan to finish that sentence, and it makes the alpha throw his head back, exposing the two claiming bites left by the other two that were placed there a long time ago. Joshua wonders why his is even there. Normally, only the alphas claim omegas. But they had been adamant on letting Joshua bite them as well, to show that they belonged to him just as much as he belonged to them.

Sometimes he wonders if he’ll wake up and see his mark gone. Omega claiming bites aren’t exactly rare, they’re just...not as common to see, and they’re slightly different from alpha claiming bites in the way that they’re not really considered an official bond. And two bites is even rarer. If people get a good look at his neck, they often stare for a little until they realize that they’re making him uncomfortable. It’s not that he wants to hide his relationship with his two alphas, it’s just that he doesn’t want to be stared at, so he often wears big turtleneck sweaters and scarves and collared coats, even if it’s warm outside.

“God, I could fuck you all the time,” Seungcheol growls into his ear, making him shiver. “Seeing your pretty lips around Hannie’s cock is such a gorgeous sight; you’re so perfect for this kinda thing. So pretty and pure-looking but you’re really just a slut, aren’t you? So needy and eager, you’d let us take you any day, anywhere we wanted. You’re such an obedient little omega, we should show you off, show off just how good you are for us.”

“What if we just made you walk around the house naked, with only a collar and some thigh highs? That’d be an amazing sight to come home to,” Jeonghan adds, voice a silky purr.

Joshua whines softly, the humiliation already settling in his chest. He doesn’t want to be shown off, not that way, not for his body or his gentle, placid nature. He doesn’t want to answer those questions, so he simply closed his eyes and used his tongue in ways he know would make Jeonghan lose any higher brain function. He hates how a tiny part of him is relieved when Jeonghan sighs happily and lets his head fall back, humming low in his throat. Seungcheol is still thrusting into him, deep and hard, hips slamming against the backs of Joshua’s thighs every time he moves forward.

The spark of pleasure in his abdomen is growing again, and he whines needily, briefly pulling away from Jeonghan to stutter a plea for more.

“I didn’t say you could stop,” Jeonghan growls playfully, but the rough tone of his voice makes the omega flinch again. It’s too close to the voice of the one who attacked him, too reminiscent of the time where he’d been left, beaten and used and unconscious, for someone to find him. Mind fogged by the haze of pleasure and a hint of fear, his every instinct is to obey, so he does.

“Are you close, baby?” Seungcheol says, a smirk in his voice. Joshua simply flashes him a pleading look and lets out a strained whine in the back of his throat. He makes a pathetic noise as Seungcheol slows to a languid pace, making his body desperate to find more stimulation, desperate to reach a peak.

“Get Hannie off first,” Seungcheol orders, “then maybe I’ll consider letting you finish.” He continues to rock his hips slowly, enjoying Joshua’s quickly-unravelling control. The omega lets out another soft, planitive noise, but does as the alpha asks, pulling out all his little tricks the best he can while lying on his back.

Jeonghan swears tightly, jolting a little as Joshua’s mouth moves around him. His hands fly to find purchase in the omega’s hair, momentarily forgetting about the younger’s dislike of the action. He’s too far gone to think clearly, too caught up by the feeling to care.

“Your mouth is so perfect, baby, have you been practicing?” he manages to hiss out, gritting his teeth. “Such a fucking dirty slut, I bet you have, just waiting for my cock to fuck your throat. You’re so good at this, baby, such a good omega who knows exactly how to pleasure his alphas.”

Joshua squeezes his eyes shut, because he can’t look at either of them, especially when Seungcheol chuckles, murmuring his agreement. He tries not to let his whines become sniffles as his body shakes, trembling faintly and not just from pleasure. His eyes open in surprise as Jeonghan snaps his hips forward, and despite his nearly non-existent gag reflex the suddenness makes him choke a little before he remembers to breathe through his nose. He goes limp, letting Jeonghan do as he pleases.

“Keep using your tongue, baby, feels good,” Jeonghan commands, voice rough. His hand is still in Joshua’s hair, and though he hasn’t tugged yet, he’s pushing Joshua down further, almost to his limit. The omega complies, because what else can he really do while he can’t talk? He just wants to help Jeonghan feel good so he can get his own release.

“You’re taking me so good, baby, such a pretty, perfect omega,” the long-haired alpha croons, voice sugary. “You were made to give pleasure, you’re so fucking gorgeous, you look so pretty when we fuck you, such a perfect little slut for me and Cheolie to have fun with.”

There’s so many things Joshua doesn’t like about that sequence of words that he doesn’t know what to think. He’s not just an omega, he’s Joshua. He wasn’t made to be fucked and to help people get off, he’s a person. He’s...he’s not a slut, he’s not, he tells himself.

But look at you. You totally are. Look at how desperate you are, says a voice in his head, gleefully malicious. Joshua mentally flinches away, because he thought those voices were long gone. He thought they’d gone away when he started dating his alphas. Well, they never really went away, lurking in the back of his mind as intrusive thoughts and sudden self-doubts. But now they were back in full force, creeping over his mind and making him feel oddly cold.

Welcome back, he thinks belatedly.

Oh silly, we were never gone, the voice titters, cruel and mocking. Joshua momentarily forgets to keep moving, and is rewarded with Jeonghan’s hand tightening in his hair, pulling an unhappy grunt from him.

“Do I have to do all of this by myself?” Jeonghan huffs, lightly teasing, but there’s a hint of dark impatience in his tone, which just shows how close he is. If Joshua could apologize, he would, but at the moment his throat is quite occupied and he doesn’t think he has the presence of mind to speak anyway. He tries to ignore the voices and focuses on doing all he can to get Jeonghan to cum, because that means he’s that much closer to being able to sleep and forget about his own dark thoughts.

“Good boy, such a good little whore,” Jeonghan purrs, and Joshua can hear the satisfied delight in his voice, eager and excited. Joshua squeezes his eyes shut, blocking out the sight of Jeonghan’s flawless, pale skin in front of his face. He wonders if the other two like degrading him, like making fun of him. They both certainly seem to be into it.

But there’s a reason he’s afraid of pain and being degraded.

How dare you deny them that, just because it would hurt your stupid little feelings. Selfish, that’s what you are. Always have been. First, you get two mates, like the greedy whore you are, then you don’t let them do what makes them happy. You aren’t making them happy. Selfish, selfish, selfish little bitch~

A weak cry slips from him, and he immediately tries to cover it up with a little moan, eyes still shut tight. He can’t bear to look at his alphas, because if he did, he’d most certainly start to cry, and that’s the last thing he wants to do.

Jeonghan curses again, hips jerking more roughly into Joshua’s throat. It makes the omega whimper, but his thrusts are unrelenting. By contrast, Seungcheol is still moving at a casual pace, only going fast enough to keep himself satisfied.

“You better swallow it all, Shua, be a good omega and don’t let any of my cum go to waste. Drink it up like the slut you are,” Jeonghan growls, holding tightly to the omega’s hair. Because he can’t exactly disobey, Joshua makes a little whimper of acceptance, which seems to make Jeonghan happy.

He braces himself as he feels Jeonghan tense up, and though he expects it, it still surprises him a little as Jeonghan’s cum spurts down his throat, nearly making him choke. Jeonghan’s hips keep jerking messily into his mouth and he tries his best to keep it all down, but a couple drops slide down his chin, slow and sticky.

As Jeonghan pulls away, he coughs, low and ragged as he tries to breathe properly again. His chin is forced up by Jeonghan, who’s looking blissed-out and satisfied.

“Baby, you didn’t swallow it all,” he observes lightly, but Joshua knows by then that he’s lazily displeased. “You need to be punished baby, you need to listen to your alphas when they tell you to do something. Got it?” Joshua just coughs again, still trying to clean his airways.

“Answer him, slut,” Seungcheol practically snarls, canines biting down gently on the omega’s neck.

“Y-yes, I understand,” he chokes out, eyes watering a little. Jeonghan smirks, but instead of letting him go he pulls the omega into a kiss, oddly light and sweet. Joshua knows something harsher is going to come after this, so he resigns himself.

“Hm. I want you to beg for it. Beg to be punished, baby, beg Cheolie to punish you like the filthy slut you are.” That’s not what Joshua expects, and he looks up at his alpha with wide, stunned eyes.

But...I don’t want to…

Just do it already. It doesn’t matter what you want, it matters that it will make them happy. You want to make them happy, don’t you? DO IT!

“P-please,” he finally says, voice weak. He hopes they just chalk it up to him having a bit of trouble speaking after the thorough throat-fucking Jeonghan had just given him.

“Please what? Be specific, baby,” Seungcheol hums, slowing his movements even more. At that point, Joshua isn’t even sure whether he wants Seungcheol to go faster or to just stop entirely. Both would make him feel bad.

“Please punish me,” he whispers, hating his voice for sounding so shaky and pathetic, but the words are out and he clamps his lips shut again.

“Speak up,” Seungcheol orders, snapping his hips forward suddenly and forcing a surprised moan out of the omega.

“Please!” he cries, desperate to just get it over with. “Please punish me, please!”

“You sound so good when you beg,” Seungcheol purrs, apparently satisfied. “Don’t know why we haven’t let you beg more often. You have such a pretty voice, perfect for moaning and begging like the slut you are.”

“Stop it,” Joshua finally musters up the courage to whisper faintly, barely louder than a breath. He isn’t sure whether he means for them to stop teasing or for them to just...stop, but he freezes, because he just talked back to an alpha, and all his omega instincts are throwing up red flags because he’s been bad, and now he’s going to get the punishment he deserves.

There’s a reason he’s afraid of pain and being degraded.

But Seungcheol only chuckles, leaning down to nibble along Joshua’s jaw.

“Alright, alright, as you wish,” he hums smoothly, voice dark and rich and full of everything that could turn a person on. And like that, he’s suddenly rough, very rough, holding Joshua down by the shoulders and digging his teeth into the soft flesh of his neck. Normally, Joshua would be a moaning, writhing mess because he’s ok with being manhandled a bit, likes it, even, but for some reason, now he wishes the alpha were more gentle. He wants to be fucked slowly, sweetly, made love to like when they were tired and fond.

“I’m gonna fuck you so hard you won’t even be able to walk tomorrow,” Seungcheol growls, a promise in his tone. “Gonna make you so pretty, I’m gonna wreck you so badly, make you look all messed up and dirty, make you look just as slutty as you are.”

A high-pitched keen comes out of Joshua’s mouth, because that’s not what he wants, but his mind is too cloudy to think properly, too caught up to protest. Pleasure and unhappiness are warring in his mind, making a weird, strangled sort of cry come out of his mouth, one both his alphas purr at.

“Do you want that? Want me to mark you up and ruin your pretty little self, want me to fuck you until you can’t even see straight? Tell me baby, tell me just how much you want my cock, tell me just how much of a whore you are for us,” he says, voice rough and excited, just like Jeonghan’s.

Joshua can’t even begin to answer, because he doesn’t want to speak, doesn’t want to admit to those things. Yes, he wants Seungcheol to fuck him, but he doesn’t want to admit any of those other things, because they aren’t true.

Of course they are. You’re such a whore. They make you beg so easily. You’d beg for anyone’s cock, since you’re such a slut. They’re right, they always are, they’re smart alphas and you’re just a weak omega, only good for sex and for pups. You wouldn’t even make good pups because you’re so fucked up and needy. The only thing you’re good for is being a whore. That’s all you are.

“Answer me, baby,” Seungcheol prompts again, breathing starting to get heavy. Joshua too, is starting to feel lightheaded from the pleasure coiling in his stomach, and for another few moments he only whines, but when he feels Jeonghan’s hands card through his hair, almost threateningly, he forces himself to speak.

“Y-yes, I want that- I want you,” he whines, and partly it’s true; he wants Seungcheol and Jeonghan, wants them to hold him and praise him and be gentle with him, wants them to love him.

Both of his alphas share a dark grin.

“That’s what I though, baby,” Seungcheol says happily. “Don’t you dare cum until I tell you to, ok? Ok?

“Yes, I understand,” Joshua nearly sobs, but he’s so close, he doesn’t know how he’s going to hold himself back but he knows that if he doesn’t, he’ll be punished again.

“Such a perfect omega. Perfect little slut, perfect little whore, so good for us,” Jeonghan whispers into his ear, and Joshua feels tears sting behind his eyes. This is so, so far from what he wants, so far from what he feels ok with, that his chest is constricting and he feels like he can’t breathe. He wants to cry, but he can’t, he just can’t. Not while his alphas are watching. The urge to break down calms the fire in his belly, and for a moment he thinks it won’t be so hard to hold back, especially when Jeonghan continues, names getting darker and more degrading until Joshua feels a tear finally slip out of his eye. Jeonghan kisses it away from his cheek, so tender, and Joshua squeezes his eyes shut, because he’s weak and he’s pathetic, because he can’t hold in his emotions. He begs silently for the alphas not to notice, and thankfully they both seem to take his tears as a sign of pleasure, even though Joshua isn’t a crier in bed. They don’t even seem mildly concerned.

It hurts his heart in odd ways, and Joshua just wishes Seungcheol would hurry up so he can cum and be done with it. Thankfully, the older alpha’s thrusts are getting messier and rougher, and Joshua knows for a fact that he’ll have a hard time walking around tomorrow.

“I have to leave early tomorrow, so I’m going to fill you up so full with my cum, gonna make sure you remember what we did tonight,” he vows, leaning down to dig his teeth right into the claiming bite he left. For a second, Joshua’s heart feels warm, the bond between them growing and brightening and solidifying and feeling just as powerful as it did when he left the claim for the first time. It tingles from time to time, of course, but it’s never as strong as when they’re close.

Seungcheol’s teeth in his neck make pleasure race through him, and for a moment he forgets his dark thoughts, wrapping his arms around Seungcheol’s neck and pulling him close.

“I love you, love you so much,” he babbles, and he means it. He’s always loved and will always love his alphas. That, he knows for sure.

What he’s not sure of is if they will love him back the same way.

“P-please let me cum, I’m so close,” he begs, because Seungcheol is hitting him just right over and over, and to his relief the alpha nods, too breathless to speak. Then, with a loud moan from Joshua and a rough string of curses from Seungcheol, the alpha is cumming deep into his waiting body and the omega is painting his stomach in streaks of white, Jeonghan watching on with appreciatively narrowed eyes.

“Such a good boy, such a good omega, so perfect, so beautiful,” Seungcheol praises, and for a moment Joshua feels better, feels bolstered by the compliments, though something dark twitches in the back of his mind. He gives a hazy smile and is given two loving gazes in response.

See? Look at how they smile at you. They clearly care at least a little bit about you, though I have no idea why. You’re clingy and ugly and a filthy fucking whore but they’re still with you, you ungrateful ass. You have no right to be sad. Suck it up, bitch.

The thought pierces through his happiness, and he buries his face in Seungcheol’s shoulder to avoid looking at him. He breaths in the rainy scent surrounding him, letting it calm him as it always does. Rose joins the rain, and Joshua thinks it’s the most beautiful combination of scents he’s ever had the pleasure of smelling.

“Love you, sweetheart,” his alphas coo, and Joshua just barely manages to give them a fake smile.

They’re lying.

How dare you assume that? You are nothing, nothing compared to them! How dare you question them! You can’t decide how they feel about you. Just keep your fucking thoughts to yourself.

He’s distracted a little as Seungcheol sweeps him into his strong arms, holding him gently against his chest. Joshua relaxes, though he is hesitant to do so, as though if he gets too used to the comfort it will disappear.

The trio steps into the bathroom, and Joshua is washed with loving care, lavished with attention as he always is.

Spoiled bitch.

His alphas say little as they walk back to the bedroom and clean up the sheets, not bothering to pull on pyjamas as they slide under the fresh covers. He doesn’t mind, is half glad for it, but the other half wishes they would say something.

“Love you two,” he says softly, one last time before they fall asleep. He receives sleepy hums in response and feels a pair of lips on the back of his neck, but he gets no words, and Joshua hates himself for how hurt that makes him feel. He’s too sensitive.

The claiming bites on his neck tingle weirdly, but so does his whole body, because the tears are coming back and he hates it. Hates how weak he is, hates how pathetic he is. Hates himself for feeling how he does. It’s not fair for him to feel that way, he tell himself, he doesn’t deserve to feel that way. He has no reason to. No right. He’s just an omega, just a body to be used and played with.

There’s a reason he’s afraid of pain and being degraded.

He bites his lip, hard enough for him to taste blood in his mouth, and squeezes his eyes shut. He fights the whimper threatening to leave his throat, and miraculously wins. He doesn’t get much sleep that night, too preoccupied with drowning in his own dark thoughts. It’s probably around 4 in the morning when he finally falls asleep, but it doesn’t feel restful. He tosses and turns and somehow can’t quite shake the feeling of a shadow creeping over him.

Chapter Text

When he wakes up, his body is sore, terribly so, and Seungcheol is standing, fully clothed and looking refreshed, beside the bed, talking happily with Jeonghan, who is half-dressed and sitting up. He can see Seungcheol holding the other alpha’s hands in his, and his heart aches. He squishes the feeling down and pretends to still be asleep, because he wants to know what his alphas are saying.

“-and at the end, since we both have a day off while we’re away, we can meet up, have a little alone time. Just some special time together for you and me,” he’s saying, voice happy.

“And Shua?” Jeonghan hums softly, but Joshua thinks he sounds almost dismissive.

“Don’t worry, Shua can handle himself while we’re away. He’s strong and he won’t get into too much trouble,” Seungcheol chuckles. Jeonghan chuckles too, and Joshua hears them exchange a little kiss.

Right, they were going away for two weeks, weren’t they? They’d discussed it with him the previous day, right before they got impatient and finally started shucking their clothes. In the heat of the moment, he’d completely forgotten, but a cold feeling creeps over his heart again, because they’re leaving him. For a whole two weeks. And having fun without him on the way. It’s not that he’s incapable of taking care of himself, but...

Who wouldn’t want to leave you? Good for them, I say. They deserve some time away from your clingy ass. They don’t need to be burdened with you 24/7. Burden, burden, stupid ugly worthless pathetic useless whore -

“I still feel kinda bad for leaving him on his own though,” Jeonghan continues, and the guilt rises further in Joshua’s chest. He shouldn’t be making Jeonghan feel bad, that’s not what good omegas are supposed to do. And he’s supposed to be a good omega.

“Me too, but he has the others to come visit him, and he can call us whenever he wants. He’ll be ok, Hannie. Now let’s hurry up, we’re gonna miss the plane.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll get ready,” he hears Jeonghan chuckle. But strangely, Joshua feels the bed dip closer to him, and a soft kiss is left gently in his hair.

“Love you, sweetheart. Don’t feel too lonely. We’ll be back soon, we promise,” he hears Jeonghan whisper into his ear and Joshua is weak for that loving voice, so he opens his eyes to peer blearily up at his alphas.

“Do you have to go?” he whines, yawning so it doesn’t seem like he was awake and listening to their conversation. He hates himself for burdening them, for holding them back, since that’s bad. He’s being bad. But his alphas only smile sadly.

“Yes, baby, we have to go. We’re sorry, but we’ll be back before you know it. If you get lonely you can have whoever you want over. Talk to Hansol if you get homesick, alright? And call us if you need us,” Jeonghan reminds, and Joshua pouts. He knows he’s being bad by making them feel bad and making them late, but he can’t let go of the love they give him.

“Don’t miss us too much,” Seungcheol adds, pressing a kiss to the omega’s cheek. “But don’t have too much fun while we’re away,” he smiles cheekily, and because he’s so weak for that smile, Joshua smiles back, humming amiably.

“Cute thing, love you,” Jeonghan chuckles. “But we really gotta go, Cheol-”

“You’re the one who still isn’t dressed yet-”

“Technicalities. Let’s go!”

Within 10 minutes, they’re gone, leaving Joshua to spiral slowly back into the dark depths of his mind.

 

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (TW for non-graphic past r*pe. If you don't want to read it, skip down to the next row of X's)

 

He was 17 when it happened.

He used to be a brighter person, used to be soft through and through, always positive to the best of his abilities. Purer than most of his friend group, he was fine with the teasing, because back then it didn’t mean anything and he was more certain that they never meant anything truly mean. He enjoyed hanging out with his friends, and he still does, but ever since that day, his thought process was forever changed.

He’d never told anyone. Never. He shoved it down in his memories until he was sure it wouldn’t bother him. But sometimes he can still feel the hands on his body, hurting him and marking him and being rough with his fragile frame. He was still pure back then, but they ruined him. Ganged up on him and beat him half to death, then had their way with his limp body. He had blacked out around halfway through, and that was both a small mercy and a small curse, because when he woke up, they were still there, and everything hurt ten times worse.

Their words were the worst part. There’s a reason he’s afraid of pain and being degraded. He could never forget their harsh voices, calling him unspeakable things and ruining his porcelain skin with bruises and cuts. He had been so pretty before, so whole and innocent, but they broke him. He thought he had built himself back up ok enough, especially with the miracle that brought the two alphas into his life, but there was still a part of him that would remain forever cracked, a dark blot on his memories that would haunt him forever.

When they finally left, he was abandoned, bloody and broken and covered in dirt and various fluids, by himself. He was clinging to the edges of his consciousness when someone found him and took him to a nearby hospital. He was unconscious by the time he was brought in, and he never forgave himself for not getting his mysterious savior’s name. When he woke up, he was alone, clean, and hooked up to several machines.

They told him that he had nearly died that night, that his naturally slender and fragile body had not been able to handle the strain and he’d almost been gone by the time he was brought in. They also told him that all his medical bills bad been paid, but they didn’t give him the name of his savior, which he never stopped regretting.

When he was finally discharged, fully healed and fit to move around again, he had no idea what to do. His mind had been changed by that night, and he was just thankful that he wasn’t pregnant, because he knew that sort of thing could happen to omegas who experienced the same thing.

His body was fine, but his mind was beyond healing. Any sign of pain or criticism had him flinching and shying away, body switching to fight-or-flight mode instinctively. He did his best to hide it though, and when he was alone, he shoved the memory down so he wouldn’t have to think about it. He knew that was unhealthy, but he didn't care. He didn’t want to think about it.

Eventually, he got so good at hiding it that he almost forgot it himself. No one asked, and he never told. There was no reason to burden the people around him when they were so happy without knowing. His story wasn’t important. He didn’t matter. Slowly, he learned to become numb to the voices, and slowly, slowly, they stopped bothering him, stopped keeping him up at night with nightmares of the event, stopped hissing vulgar things at him when he was alone.

And then two years later, Jeonghan and Seungcheol had walked into his life when he was 19, and for the first time in a long, long while, he’d felt genuinely happy. Happier still when they confessed to him, and by far the best moment of his life was when he felt their teeth sink into his neck, claiming him as theirs and igniting the bond that would keep them connected forever. He’d been a little confused when the alphas bared their necks to him as well, but he’d been incredibly grateful (and very emotional) as he left his own mark on them, heart filled with love as he claimed them back.

And for a while, things had coasted, and Joshua was at his best again. He’d near-forgotten the memory, and with his alphas and new friends to bolster him, he thought he’d never have to worry again.

But then his alphas got better jobs, enough for Joshua to not have to work and enough to get them a wonderful house in the city. The one downside: it kept them away from the house for long periods of time, bringing them to different countries all around the world. Quickly, their reputation as a powerful alpha couple spread, and that drew them away even more as people looked to them for advice and guidance.

They left Joshua at home, because they didn’t want him to have to deal with the limelight and headaches that came with such work, and the omega had complied. Back then, he was happy to simply keep the house nice for his alphas, feeling sappy that they were so considerate over him, but the long hours of solitude weighed on him, and whenever they came back, he found himself more and more desperate to cling to them. He tried to fill the hours with his friends, but it just wasn’t the same. He missed his alphas, and his strong, physical bond to them- his claiming marks- ached when they were away from him for too long. He wondered if it hurt for them too. He supposed it didn’t, since omega marks and alpha marks were different, and his two alphas were always close to each other. They also never seemed to be in pain when they got home, so Joshua thought he must have been right. But it hurt for him, and his fear of pain only increased whenever they left him.

He began to wonder why his alphas never brought him with them. Of course, they’d told him they didn’t want him to get overwhelmed, which was a reasonable concern, but his alphas had two obvious claiming marks on each of their necks. Surely someone must have questioned where the second one came from. What would they say, if someone asked?

His mind, beginning to crack again, would come up with darker and darker answers and scenarios, until he refused to think about it anymore, hiding it away in the back of his mind. He wouldn’t ask, because then they might get mad at him for asking. His mind ignored how they had never gotten significantly mad at Joshua, instead insisting that they would be annoyed with him if he asked. So he never did.

And as time stretched on longer and longer, and their returns to the house got more and more infrequent, Joshua felt his heart wither more and more, until he felt just as hollow and empty as he did the day he got discharged from the hospital. He’d never even told his mates that. He’d never told his alphas, because he didn’t need to ruin their happiness with his dumb story.

 

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 

 

And that brings him back to the present, where, still lying in bed, Joshua doesn’t move, letting his tears finally fall free from his eyes and soak into the pillow beneath his face. He misses them, misses his alphas. He wants them so bad, wants them to come back and love and cuddle him like before, when they still seemed to care about him enough to check up on him every day. But lately they’ve been forgetting, and sometimes Joshua will go several days without hearing their voices.

I’m selfish, he tells himself whenever he feels sad. It’s selfish to want for things you already have. They’re just busy, they haven’t forgotten you.

But what if they have? Better for them. They should just leave you and continue as a couple. Then you wouldn’t be dragging them down anymore. You want to make them happy, right? They’d be happier if you left.

No, then they’d be mad at you. You can’t just disappear. That’s bad. You’re a bad omega, for thinking like this.

Disappear, go away, leave, don’t come back.

Stay, be a good omega, be their little slut to fuck whenever they want.

Die, rid them of your toxic presence, ugly stupid usELESS WORTHLESS WHORE-

He lets out a loud, choked sob, and the tears never seem to stop flowing, along with his pathetic wails and whines. He’s so weak, too sensitive, just a disappointment.

You’re not good enough. That’s something all the voices seem to agree on.

When his tears can’t come anymore he sits up, and immediately winces. Seungcheol kept his promise: Joshua is a little numb between the legs and everything below that hurts. Suddenly his breath seizes up and from the darkest pits of his mind a memory is dragged back out, eager to break him again, just as bad as it was all those years ago. He can feel hands on his body, invading him in the most horrible ways and laughing cruelly at him.

It hurts just like it did back then. It’s why he’s afraid of pain, why he’s afraid of being made fun of. Why he can’t handle even the slightest bit of confrontation before he’s panicking and breaking down.

Maybe that’s why they don’t take you with them, because they can sense how much of a pathetic, over-sensitive creature you are, snarls a voice in his mind. It makes perfect sense, and Joshua hangs his head in defeat, trying to breathe properly, because at the flash of the memory his throat closed up.

He takes a deep breath and sits up properly, hissing as the ache in his lower back spikes. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he leans on the wall, shaky and barely able to stand. When he takes a step forward he nearly collapses, and another rough hiss leaves his lips. He doesn’t like it when it hurts afterwards, it makes it hard to move and it makes him even more anxious.

He doesn’t blame his alphas, not at all, because it had been a while since they had enough alone time to get intimate so they must have simply been desperate for touch and gotten a little rough. He didn’t like the words they’d said, but he reasons that they probably didn’t mean it and they had probably slipped out on accident, so he wasn’t mad at them. Just...a little unhappy. Ok, maybe that’s an understatement, but he refuses to let himself feel bad. He doesn’t deserve it.

He takes in a another breath and slowly manages to make his way to the bathroom, where he contemplates taking a nice long soak. Since there’s no one around but him, he allows himself that luxury and spends an hour or so letting the warm water relax his cramped and aching muscles.

As he steps out, slightly more steady on his feet, he chances a glance in the mirror, and blinks at the marks covering his neck. His claiming marks are especially pronounced, red and bruised like the day they had been made. More bruises and love bites litter his throat and collarbones, and Joshua tears his eyes away from the mirror because if he stares any longer he’s going to have a panic attack from the memories overwhelming him. He doesn’t normally mind the hickeys, likes them actually, but anxiety left his system pinging with unease and panic, too focused on what had gone down on that night.

He pulls on a pair of clothes as quickly as he can, unintentionally pulling on some of Jeonghan’s clothes and a hoodie of Seungcheol’s. The scents are fresh and the mated part of him just wants to drown in their scent, pretend that they’re there and to soak up the comfort from their smells. Plus, Seungcheol always has the most comfortable hoodies.

He lets himself sprawl out on the couch in their living room, groaning a little as his body protests at the movement. He tries to relax, and it seems to work because soon he’s half-dozing, barely aware of the world and existing in a kind of hazy unreality. It’s comfortable, but he doesn’t fall asleep, so he simply lays there silently, eyes fixed on an invisible point on the ceiling, thoughts blank and for once, not tormenting him. He thinks he could be ok with just sitting there for a while.

Chapter Text

He’s comfortable, at least until someone knocks on his door. It’s loud and insistent and he can only think of a couple people who would knock so obnoxiously. He doesn’t want to get up, but he knows that if he doesn’t, the people at his door will bust in, so he sits up with a groan.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming!” he calls, shuffling over to the door as fast as he can without aggravating the ache in his body.

“Hi, Seokmin,” he sighs, watching the bubbly beta bounce up and down excitedly. Behind him, there’s Chan, an (surprisingly) alpha, Wonwoo, an (also surprisingly) omega, and Wonwoo’s mate, Mingyu, also an alpha.

“Hi Shua!” Seokmin says brightly, letting himself inside. Joshua rolls his eyes and simply steps back, because Seokmin will go where he pleases without much thought to ask.

“Hi,” Joshua says again, gently shutting the door after Mingyu steps inside. “What are you guys doing here?”

“We’re here to keep you company of course,” Seokmin says like it’s obvious. “We heard Hannie and Seungcheol left this morning, so we got together and figured you’d be happy with some people to hang out with.”

Joshua is grateful for Seokmin’s company and bubbly personality, he really is, but honestly he’d rather have some alone time. But he doesn’t say that, of course.

“Thanks, Minnie,” he chuckles. “You guys want anything?”

“No, you sit,” Wonwoo hums gently. “Well, get comfortable. I can tell you’re limping.” Joshua freezes awkwardly, trying to fight the heat spreading across his cheeks. Judging by the Chan and Seokmin’s snickers he’s not doing a very good job.

“Do I need to tell them to go easier on you? You’re moving so slowly; just how rough was their goodbye sex?” Mingyu huffs, protective mode on. Joshua flushes further, because 1) Mingyu (and all the rest of them) do not need to know about that, and 2) Joshua does not want to talk about how rough it was. Thankfully, Wonwoo slaps Mingyu’s shoulder for him, frowning in a displeased sort of way.

“Don’t worry about it,” he hums, waving a dismissive hand. “I took, like, an hour-long bath so I feel a little better.”

“A little?” Mingyu presses, just as parental towards his friends as he is towards Wonwoo (well, with Wonwoo he’d freak out if his omega got even a tiny scratch, so there’s that). Joshua gives him a look that clearly says “drop it”, and Chan and Seokmin snigger again.

“If we can move on from my sex life,” he says warningly, giving the pair a half-hearted glare, “then I’ll make you guys something to drink. Don’t start mother henning, Gyu, I’m fine,” he reassures, because the alpha is looking disgruntled. Joshua tries to ignore how close Mingyu is to how Joshua actually feels. He knows Mingyu doesn’t actually know, but Mingyu is protective, so he’ll often blow things out of proportion if he feels strongly enough about it. It’s dangerous, and he resolves to relax as much as possible so he doesn’t cramp up his muscles further and make the younger more concerned.

He hates how a tiny part of him is happy that they noticed and cared, happy that they wanted to take care of him. He wanted to preen under their attention, because he knew they would all baby him if he wanted (and also protect him if he didn’t feel safe with his alphas anymore, but that was highly unlikely), but he hesitated while filling up a kettle with water, because that was bad. He was being bad again. He shoved those thoughts away. Mingyu and Wonwoo were mated, and no matter how close friends they were, it wouldn’t be right for the pair to look after him. Chan and Seokmin were still unmated, and it didn't feel right to Joshua to let them coddle him. He was one of the older ones in his friend group; he had to show he could take care of himself, he was the one supposed to take care of them.

Shaking his head a little, he leans on his hand as he waits for the water to boil, looking out the massive windows over the counter. Their house overlooked a beautiful view of the city, and Joshua would often get lost in thought staring out those windows.

The ding of the kettle startles him so badly that he jumps, and he actually snorts to himself at the fact that it scared him so easily. He gets out teas he knows the others will like (and coffee for Wonwoo, because it’s the man’s lifeblood), and sets the steaming cups in front of their respective owners. He chooses chamomile for himself, because he likes how it makes him feel sleepy and loose.

“Is there anything you wanna do?” Seokmin hums once Joshua sits down, situating himself on his legs in a way that won’t make his tailbone press into the hard wood of the chair. The omega shrugs.

“Honestly I was planning to relax the whole day. Not that I don’t enjoy your company, of course,” he adds with a grin, because Chan has opened his mouth to retort and to his smug satisfaction the younger closes his mouth again.

“What about the others? What’s down with them?” he hums, because it feels like it’s been forever since he last saw the Chinese pair of their group (though it’s only been a couple days).

“Oh, they’re alright,” Wonwoo hums. “Kwannie and Hansol are off doing disgusting couple things because they’re so cute -” he sneers a little and they all laugh- “Soonyoung’s working his ass off at dance and Jihoon is being a workaholic as well. They’re too perfect for each other, it’s kinda scary. Jun and Minghao are probably all over each other since Minghao told me Jun’s heat was coming up soon so I wouldn’t recommend trying to contact them.” Hansol, a quirky, shy little beta, was courting Seungkwan, a sassy omega who brought out Hansol’s wild side in the cutest of ways. It was adorable to watch them dance around each other, the beta awkward with young love and the omega just eager to get Hansol to kiss him in public. Jihoon, an omega and music composer, was mated to Soonyoung, an alpha who danced for a living. Both awfully stubborn, hot-headed, and devoted to their work, they butted heads often but meshed together in a way that was almost too perfect. Jun, an omega, and Minghao, a beta, were both Chinese, and Joshua was glad Wonwoo had warned them. Back when he still lived in his own apartment next door to the couple, he learned Jun was loud. Very loud. And honestly, so was Minghao, which just kinda made it worse.

“Thanks for the heads-up,” Chan grimaces, frowning over the rim of his cup at Wonwoo, who smirkes.

“They’re all over each other even when they’re not in a heat, it’s dumb,” Mingyu huffs grumpily, clearly unimpressed. Joshua laughs at that, because the alpha likes doting on Wonwoo just as much as the Chinese pair like exploring each other’s bodies whenever they get the opportunity.

“Speak for yourself,” he snorts, and Mingyu glares weakly at him, but can’t find the words to snip back so he falls silent. Wonwoo pats his shoulder.

They fall into easy chatter, and Joshua is inexplicably glad for the pleasant distraction from his thoughts. As long as he isn’t alone, he’s relatively stable. When he’s surrounded by friends and they’re including him, it’s even better. He doesn’t know why Mingyu and Chan keep giving him sneaky, concerned looks. They think he can’t see them but he can; he’s always been incredibly perceptive. Almost paranoid, even, since that night. He doesn’t press, not with Seokmin and Wonwoo around, but he resolves to ask later. He doesn’t look that messed up, does he?

The opportunity to question comes earlier than he expects, when Wonwoo and Seokmin race off to play games. Chan is about to follow when Joshua snags him by the collar, dragging him back to Mingyu, who is putting their empty cups in the sink.

“Thanks, Gyu,” he hums, before pushing Chan to stand next to the other alpha. “Alright, out with it, why were you two looking at me funny?”

“What are you talking about?” Joshua folds his arms and raises an eyebrow. Mingyu can do a lot of things, but lying well isn’t one of them.

“Don’t play dumb with me, just say it. You think you’re smooth, but you’re really not. Sorry to burst your bubble,” he sighs. “Come on, it’s making me feel weird to catch you staring at me like my parents died or something.”

“They didn’t, right!?” Joshua laughs as Mingyu’s expression flips out, and he pats the alpha’s shoulder.

“Jeez, relax, no, they’re fine. But seriously, why the looks?”

His smile falls when Chan and Mingyu exchange a somewhat worried look.

“You sure you’re alright?” Mingyu finally ventures to ask. “I don’t know if Minnie and Wonu can tell but you smelled...in pain when we walked in. Your limp was pretty obvious too…” His face is completely straight, and worried, showing just how serious he is about the situation.

“Yeah, well, my alphas just left, take a wild guess as to what happened last night,” he says dryly. He feels a little worse when the alphas exchange another look.

“Yeah, ok, but...they’re leaving for two weeks, both of them, doesn’t it hurt?” Mingyu says, almost desperately like he’s trying to prove a point. His hand reaches up to touch the claiming bite Wonwoo left on his neck (he had also let the omega bite him back), and runs his fingers over it. Joshua’s own hands reach up to his neck, but he pulls them away before they can get there.

“I mean, I guess, but it hasn’t started hurting yet, and it’s not that bad,” he soothes. “But how do you know a claiming bite hurts? I thought it was only for omegas.”

Mingyu frowns at him. “...? If Wonu is away from me for too long, I can feel it too. We both do,” he explains, looking a little dumbstruck. Chan, unmated and unexperienced in matters of love and pleasure, stays silent but watchful.

“...Really? They’ve never told me that before,” Joshua finally says, feeling oddly betrayed. His alphas had never given any indication that the bite Joshua had left hurt when they were away. He’d of course told them, and they’d spent the entire night kissing his neck in apology. He wishes he could take back his words when Mingyu’s brow furrows.

“...I wonder why.”

“Tell us if it hurts too much, ok?” Chan pipes up, and Joshua’s heart momentarily fills with fondness for the youngest of their group. He’s basically Jeonghan’s pup, but Joshua is just as fond of him.

“I will, I will, relax. I’m supposed to be the one taking care of you, pup,” he teases, enjoying the huff Chan gives him. Mingyu snickers, but his face sobers quickly.

“Hey, dude, really. If it hurts, tell us. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t enjoy seeing you walk around with a limp just because Cheol and Jeonghan just got home and like it rough.”

“I’ll be fine,” Joshua hums, patting Mingyu’s hands and Chan’s hair. “Thank you for being concerned, but I’ll be alright. It’s nothing a couple days of rest and relaxation can’t solve. I’ve got the entire house to myself, so I plan on taking some well-deserved pampering time. Don’t worry about me too much, alright?”

“Whatever you say,” Mingyu sighs. “But take care of yourself properly.”

“Go fuss over Chan,” Joshua chuckles, but secretly he loves the attention, loves the fact that someone is worried for him and is fretting over him. Mingyu has always treated him kindly and with care, so has Chan. So have all of them, in his alpha’s absences, as if they can sense how sad he is without them.

“You too. Take care of yourself, pup. You have finals coming up and I need to make sure you eat enough.” Mingyu turns his attention to Chan, who gives Joshua a betrayed look that the omega snickers at.

“I’ll be fine!” Chan huffs, swatting Mingyu’s hands off his shoulders. “I’m an adult, Gyu, you don’t need to look after me.”

“Yes I do, it’s my responsibility when Cheol and Jeonghan aren’t here. As your unofficial uncle, I now have the right to oversee if you’re getting enough sleep, food, water, and attention-” He’s cut off by Chan’s frustrated noise, but there’s a smirk on his face as the younger alpha shoves him out of the kitchen.

“Go suck face with Wonwoo!” he yells after him.

“Gladly!” Mingyu says cheerfully, and Chan fake gags. Joshua chuckles again, patting Chan’s bubblegum-pink hair. The younger sobers up to look at him thoughtfully. Hesitantly, he reaches out to the omega’s neck, and Joshua tilts his head back. He didn’t like it when strangers approached him about having two claiming marks, but with friends it was ok.

He shivers as Chan’s fingertips graze ever so lightly over the mark left by Jeonghan, on the left side of his neck. The pads of his fingers are warm, but by contrast Joshua feels cold.

“Does it hurt?” Chan finally asks. “Being claimed?” He seems a bit worried, and though Joshua has no idea what brought about the question or why Chan would ask him that, he figures he has to answer.

“No, not at all. Feels...amazing, honestly. I can still remember it,” he murmurs, running his fingers over the scar tissue that marks him as claimed. The marks will never fully heal, and they’re still as pale and stark against his skin as the day they were left. “It’s hard to describe,” he offers after a moment of thought. “Like...like you just stepped out of the cold into a warm house with the fireplace on and someone wraps a blanket around your shoulders and cuddles with you and gives you hot cocoa and it’s...nice. I think it might be different for everyone but that’s how it was for me. Didn’t hurt a bit.” Chan nods, and Joshua tilts his head curiously.

“Why do you ask? Got a sweetheart on the side I don’t know about?” he teases, just to see the younger blush. And blush he does, pinking adorably as he stutters and tries to protest.

“Relax, Channie, I’m joking,” he laughs, pressing a finger to the alpha’s lips to shut him up. “Don’t worry about it, I doubt it will hurt. But make sure you know what you’re doing if you’re considering it.”

“I know, I know, you guys tell me that all the time,” Chan grumbles, swatting Joshua’s hand away. “Now if you’re done fretting I’m gonna go play games with the others.” He quickly bounces away, leaving the omega chuckling in the kitchen to himself.

As soon as Chan disappears though, he lets his smile fall, because, even though it was unintentional, the alpha has just reminded him of what he misses the most at the moment.

Chapter Text

When the others finally leave, Joshua hates how he feels both a little relieved and a little clingy. Not that he doesn’t enjoy their company, because he does, he just feels a little overwhelmed and would like some time to himself, but he also doesn't want them to leave him alone.

He reluctantly feeds himself some dinner before deciding that he isn’t all that hungry and starts to get ready to sleep. His neck is finally starting to ache a little, his longing for his alphas becoming a physical pain. He resigns himself to deal with the dull ache for another two weeks and flops onto his bed, feeling drained and out of it.

Surprisingly, sleep doesn’t come, though he’s oddly tired, and he spends the next hour or so tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable. As it always does when his alphas are away, the bed feels too big and too cold without two other people in it. He never gets much sleep the first night they’re away, his body unused to the lack of comfort.

When he does fall asleep, he wishes he’d stayed awake, because for the first time in years, he has nightmares about that night. It’s disturbingly realistic and he wakes himself up with his own scream, sitting bolt upright in bed. He’s alone and in the dark and breathing heavily, shaking like a leaf in the wind. After several silent moments where his heart struggles to beat normally, he crumbles with a whine and starts to cry, pulling his knees close to his chest and curling up as though that way he could protect himself from the remaining dregs of the nightmare plaguing his vision.

He’s both glad for the fact that his alphas aren’t here to see him cry, and wishes they were there to comfort him. He doesn’t know which one he wants more and the conflicting feelings just make him cry harder. He wants their comforting embraces and relaxing scents, wants them to come home and take care of him, but then they’d ask him what was wrong, and then he’d have to start from the beginning, and he doesn't think he can handle telling them that. Telling anyone the story, for that matter, would make him break down and he doesn’t want to show them that side of him.

Vainly, he drags air into his lungs, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes and trying to calm his tears. It doesn’t work very well and his sleeves end up damp by the time his sobs turn to sniffles.

He doesn’t fall asleep again that night, but he doesn’t move either, burying his face in Seungcheol’s pillow and wishing his alphas were there with him. At the same time, he doesn’t know what he would do if they were there.

His neck hurts, and all he wants to do is feel better.

 


 

Over the next couple of days, Joshua once again gets used to the feeling of being alone for long stretches of time, and the dull ache in his neck is a constant reminder of what he’s missing. He ignores it the best he can, but he finds himself rubbing at his claiming marks unconsciously, trying to rid himself of the pain. He wonders whether it hurts for them too. If Mingyu was to be believed, it did, but they’d never told him.

He feels a little better with the good morning texts Jeonghan and Seungcheol send him (along with a flurry of hearts and cute little emoticon faces), and with the others to keep him company he keeps himself reasonably distracted. But when he’s alone, he falls back into unhappiness, sitting still in one place for long periods of time and getting lost in his thoughts. Not the good kind, either. He’s afraid to sleep, afraid to get another nightmare, and every time he dozes off accidentally, he wakes up again with goosebumps on his skin and fear in his heart. He knows he should be getting more rest, but he doesn’t want to face the nightmares again.

Near the end of the first week, their texts become more and more infrequent, to the point where Joshua can send them a hello and not get a response for hours. He tries to tell himself that they’re just busy, and they have things to do, but he can’t help but stare expectantly at his phone, hoping for even a tiny little “hi” back. At that point, anything would be fine so long as they talked to him.

You’re being too clingy, says a voice in his head, and Joshua freezes. The voice was right. He was asking too much. They couldn’t chat with him every second of the day; they were busy and had more important things to do than distract themselves with his useless texts. He resolves not to bother them anymore, and tries to restrain himself from texting them petty things. They’re busy enough without him.

He does remind himself to send them an “I love you” every night, just because he wants to and if they have a hard day then maybe he can cheer them up a bit. For the first few days, they respond quickly and with equal fondness, but as the week goes on their responses take longer and longer to appear and by the end of the first week Joshua doesn’t get a response at all.

He tries not to let it bother him, but it does. It hurts him and it scares him a little and he hates how weak and clingy he is.

He’s spiralling into a well of dark thoughts, ones he knows he shouldn’t be having but he can’t fight them, and he ends up not eating nearly as much as he should, not sleeping for long days and not taking care of himself the way he should. He knows he’s not doing well, but he can’t bring himself to care enough to do anything about it. He can't bring himself to care about a lot of things nowadays. The lethargy is a new feeling, making his limbs heavy and his emotions dull. It’s better than being sad and afraid though, so he surrenders himself to the apathy, spending his days in listless silence.

Chapter Text

He’s in the middle of zoning out on the couch, knees pulled up to his chest and a blanket draped over his shoulders, when a knock startles him into alertness. He thinks it’s a shame, because he was actually somewhat comfortable and was suspended in a sort of blank space where he didn’t have to think about anything, but he makes himself get up anyway, curious as to who was visiting him.

“Jun? Minghao? Jihoon? What are you guys doing here?” Surprised, he steps back to let the others in. His voice is hoarse from days of not using it. The two other omegas wrinkle their nose for some reason as they step inside, but Joshua doesn’t dwell on it, instead rousing as much of his energy as he can to look normal. It’s easier than he expects and he feels a little relieved. He missed having his friends around; he should really invite them over more often.

No! You’re too clingy already! They don’t need to be burdened with your attention-whore ass! Leave them alone, alright?

“We just wanted to stop by and say hello; we know you’re missing Cheol and Jeonghan,” Minghao says, sympathetically patting the omega’s hand. Joshua blinks at him, wondering why Minghao would bother himself with checking up on him, but he’s grateful for it.

“Uh...thanks, I guess. Do you guys want anything to eat or drink or…?” He lets the question trail off, raising an eyebrow questioningly.

“We brought food already!” Jun says brightly, holding up several plastic bags. Cheerful as always, the other omega bounces to the kitchen to lay out the food they’d gotten.

Joshua doesn’t feel remotely hungry, but he forces himself to try a little of everything that Jun brought. It tastes good so he allows himself to eat a little more, but in the end he ends up simply setting aside most of the food to eat later. He tells them he simply had a big breakfast (a blatant lie) and they don’t push.

“So how’re you holding up? Your marks are kinda red; you sure it doesn’t hurt too much?” Jihoon sounds much too concerned for Joshua’s liking and he hesitates for a split second, fingers running over the scars on either side of his neck. They sting sharply under his fingertips and he pulls his hand away.

“Yeah, it’s fine. It always hurts if they’re gone for too long; I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t happened before, don’t worry,” he soothes. “Honestly I’ve gotten good at ignoring it so I hardly notice it.” That’s another lie. Joshua can hardly think because of the slowly-increasing pain in his neck, and he wishes his alphas would come back and kiss the ache away. But Jihoon doesn’t have to know that. Joshua doesn’t want to burden him with that knowledge. Thankfully, the other omega just shrugs.

“If you say so.” He doesn’t bring it up again and Joshua is thankful for that. He doesn’t notice the way Jun and Minghao exchange looks across the table, too absorbed in running his fingers over the scarred bite marks on his neck.

“So how are things going?” Jun prompts casually, leaning back in his chair. “You haven’t texted the chat at all in the past few days, Shua, we miss you.” He pouts, and guilt floods Joshua’s chest. How could he have ignored them? That was bad. He was being bad again. In all honesty, he just hadn’t picked up his phone in a while, not really feeling like he needed to since neither of his alphas were texting him.

“I’m fine, I promise,” he chuckles, easily pulling on a dismissive facade. “I’ve just been sleeping in a little. It’s nice to have the house all to myself so I’m taking every opportunity to relax. No alphas to hound after me,” he smirks, and he and Jihoon share a grin, because they both know how...impatient their alphas can be, more so for Joshua since he has two.

“But enough about me, how have things been going for you all?” He doesn’t want to continue talking about himself, so he turns the conversation to the others. They all go off about how things are, Jun complaining about his work as usual, Jihoon complaining about Soonyoung as usual, and Minghao just wanting some proper time to photograph Jun. All as usual. Their lives are orderly and intact, and Joshua feels somewhat useless in return. Each of them have nice jobs, and Joshua...Joshua doesn’t do much. He can’t; he’s really somewhat useless, isn’t he?

Waste of time and space. Useless, worthless, pathetic.

He smiles when they talk to him, laughs along when they joke, does whatever he needs to do to make them feel normal, because there’s no way he’s going to tell them how he really feels.

He scares himself with how easy it is to lie to their faces.

 


 

“... Please tell me I’m not the only one who smelled that,” Jihoon mutters once they all leave. Immediately, Jun turns to face him, looking distressed.

“I did too. Do you think he’s ok? He’s never so quiet, I’m starting to get worried…” He wrings his hands uneasily and Minghao wraps an arm around his shoulders. As a beta, his nose isn’t quite as sensitive as an omega’s or an alpha’s, but even he could pick up on the unhappiness and apathy radiating from Joshua and the house in general. It was a sour smell, one he’d never thought would come from bright, gentle Joshua. He hadn’t been as affected as the two omegas though, who had both nearly coughed at the almost overwhelming scent of sadness and anxiety filling the room.

“I don’t think the prolonged time away from Seungcheol and Jeonghan is doing him any good. Mated pairs- or trios, either, I guess- aren’t meant to be apart from each other for so long. Add in the fact that they regularly have to leave and I don’t think it’s going to to anything good for Joshua’s health,” Jihoon says quietly, hands in his pockets as he stares at the ground.

“His marks looked awful, too,” Jun mumbles sadly, concern filling his voice. Minghao gave him a reassuring little squeeze, but Jun didn’t look all that comforted. “And he looked so tired. He didn’t seem like himself. I know he gets lonely when Jeonghan and Seungcheol are away but...but this time it seemed worse,” he admits hesitantly, and Jihoon gave him a look through the corner of his eye.

“...I thought so too,” he sighs. “It’s bound to be worse for an omega with two mates. It’s just going to be all that much harder to be away from them. They really shouldn't keep leaving him alone for so long; it’s not good for him. Or for them, for that matter. I don’t know how they bear to stay away from him.” Jun shudders a little at the thought, pressing himself to Minghao.

“I wonder why they never take Joshua with them. It’s not like Joshua can’t handle himself, he’s not weak. And like, people gotta be curious as to why two mated alphas each have an extra claiming mark on their necks, right? That’s not something you see every day,” Minghao muses, thinking back to how Joshua’s face had fallen into weary lines whenever they weren’t talking directly to him. He seemed much too tired, much too sad for their liking. Neither of the omegas can give him an answer and he sighs.

There’s a dark possibility in the back of his mind, but he pushes it away. He knows the two alphas are not like that. They would never purposefully ignore Joshua.

So he wonders why Joshua smelled like the very definition of loneliness when they first walked in.

 

Chapter Text

The middle of the second week came around, and Joshua, at that point, was barely eating, hardly sleeping, and not talking to anyone. His body rejected any food he tried to feed himself and the moment he closed his eyes, the memories and dark thoughts would come creeping up, ripping any hope of a restful sleep from him. Not to mention the pain in his neck was reaching a piercing intensity, making it hurt to even turn his head. Long soaks in the tub did little to ease the ache, so he tried not to move as much, sitting and staring blankly at the walls of his bedroom, where he’d pretty much locked himself in. It was the one place where his alpha’s scents were still lingering (in the rest of the house, their scents were stale), so, drawn to the comfort, he stayed there.

He didn’t think he would be able to move much anyway. His legs were weak and sometimes it took effort to take deep breaths, so he simply sat still, not registering the texts his friends sent him every now and then. They weren’t his alphas, so he didn’t pay attention. No need to bother them with his presence. He didn’t matter. He wasn’t worth their time. If he wasn’t worth Jeonghan and Seungcheol’s time, then he certainly wasn’t worth anyone else’s. His alphas deserved only the best, and he...he couldn’t be that. He was small and weak and ugly and worthless and he wondered, not for the first time in those past two weeks, why they were even still his mates. They were too good for him. He wasn’t good enough for them.

He still missed them. More than anything in the world. He didn’t know why it was suddenly affecting him so much, but he missed them so badly it hurt. Not just in his neck, but in his chest and behind his eyes and in his temples when he had the most splitting headaches to accompany the pain in his neck.

He just wants the pain to go away. So, reaching for his phone with a shaky hand, he decides he can bother them just this once. Just to hear their voices one time. When the end of the week comes, he can hear their voices all he wants, but he doesn’t think he can wait that long, so he unlocks his phone and, with unsteady fingers, presses Jeonghan’s number. He feels so stupidly weak and he hates that, how hard it is to just hold his phone to his ear, but the urge to hear at least one of his alpha’s voices is powerful. Enough for him to steady his hand and try not to be too impatient.

One ring, two rings, three rings, four rings- Joshua’s heart starts to hurt, because it doesn’t seem like Jeonghan is going to pick up, but when the fifth ring is just beginning to sound, the line clicks to life.

“Jeonghan?” he whispers, relief and happiness flooding his withered heart. His voice is hoarse, strained, quiet from hours of not using it, but it’s filled with excitement and longing.

“Shua? Sweetheart, I’m really sorry that I haven’t called, but I’m really busy right now, I promise I’ll call you back later-” Jeonghan sounds harried, and Joshua shrinks back involuntarily even though he’s alone, because he’s being bad again, he’s bothering Jeonghan when he shouldn’t be, but he can’t help himself.

Alpha-” he whimpers, desperate for Jeonghan to coo lovingly to him through the connection and promise that he’ll be back soon. He wants to hear Seungcheol’s voice too, wants to hear them so bad it makes tears well up in his eyes. But Jeonghan never lets him finish.

“Joshua, please, I don’t have time for you right now,” Jeonghan says, voice stressed. Joshua’s eyes widen, because Jeonghan’s never said that before. The sting in his eyes is becoming more and more prominent and he knows that soon he’ll start crying. He doesn’t want to cry, he’s cried too much already, but he’s weak and can’t stop the tears.

“Wait, Jeonghan, please-” he tries, but Jeonghan is already talking over him.

“Seriously, Joshua, you couldn’t have picked a worse time to call- yes, I’m listening, it's just my omega, I’m sorry, I’ll be done as quickly as possible- no, it’s not a big deal, I’ll come right away- Joshua, I love you, but I have to go.” His voice is firm and clearly unhappy and Joshua lets out a pained whine as the connection cuts off, leaving him sitting alone in an empty room, feeling worse than ever.

Joshua, please, I don’t have time for you right now.”

Seriously, Joshua, you couldn’t have picked a worse time to call.”

It's just my omega- no, it’s not a big deal- I have to go.”

His hand droops, and his phone falls with a soft flump to the sheets. His phone is close to dying but he can’t bring himself to plug it in. He can’t bring himself to do anything, other than sit and tremble. He’s past tears now, into a realm of some weird place where the grief and every other negative feeling becomes so strong that he just...shuts down. He hears a faint wheezing, and dimly registers that it’s him making the noise. He’s hyperventilating, can’t get enough air into his lungs but he can’t do anything about it because his alphas don’t want him anymore and he’s being bad and he doesn’t deserve to be with them because he’s worthless and stupid and clingy and ugly and useless and pathetic and weak and-

A horrible sort of sob leaves him, one he doesn’t even hear because his ears are filled with the sound of the line cutting off.

His claiming marks hurt. They burn and sting and ache all at once, and Joshua claws at them, wishing the pain would go away. His nail catches on the claiming scars and a whole new flare of a brighter pain flashes through him, and as he slowly pulls his hand away he stares in horrified disbelief at the red droplet on the end of his fingernail. Slowly, almost in a trance, he reaches back up to his neck, and his fingertips come away stained in red. He’s...bleeding.

Another weird, strangled noise leaves him, choked up and pitiful. He clamps his palms over his neck, rocking back and forth, eyes wide and fixed on nothing at all because he’s too far gone to think, too far gone to process anything properly. The stable world around him is crumbling, slipping away, and he couldn’t hold on if he tried. He still can’t breathe and everything hurts and his body feels oddly feverish; it’s too hot and too cold all at once and he wishes everything would just go away.

He doesn’t know when he blacks out, doesn’t know why either, probably from lack of oxygen, but he’s almost relieved. When he’s unconscious at least he doesn’t have to worry about the nightmares. He isn’t aware of the fact that Jeonghan never calls him back that night.

Chapter Text

95 Line ♥♥♥ (3)

11:26 PM

Hannie:

Shua, honey, are you awake? Me and Cheol need to tell you something…

 

11:29 PM

Hannie:

Sweetheart, we’re really sorry, but me and Cheol have to stay out for another week. It was unavoidable and completely unplanned and I’m so sorry but I promise we’ll be back before you know it ( ˘ ³˘)♥

 

11:30 PM

Cheolie:

I’m sorry too sweetheart, I wish we could come back. Try not to miss us too much. Stay strong for us, baby <3

 

7:54 AM

Hannie:

Shua? Did you see our messages?

 

9:15 AM:

Cheolie:

Shua? Are you alright?

Hello???

Chapter Text

When Joshua wakes up the next morning, his palms are crusted in dried blood (thankfully none of it got on the sheets), and there’s a terrible ache all over his body from how he passed out sitting up. His chest still hurts but at least he can breathe properly, so he takes several minutes to close his eyes and take deep breaths. He feels both numb and tingly all over, and his body feels icky, hot and cold at the same time, kind of crawling and unpleasant like he was standing in a humid room with no fan. For a moment he completely forgets what happened the night before.

Then he sees his phone, lying face down on the sheets and almost dangling off the edge of the bed, and he remembers it all too clearly. He reaches for it and tries to turn it on, but it’s dead and he almost feels relieved. Then he winces, dropping his phone like it burned him and scooching away as though it could hurt him if he went too close.

He rocks back and forth slowly, still a little shell-shocked from the night before and unable to properly process what had happened. Jeonghan...didn’t have time for him. He said Joshua could call any time he wanted but...he’d chosen the perfectly wrong time and messed up, and now the long-haired alpha was probably mad at him. He deserved to be mad, Joshua thinks, because he’s been bad and he doesn’t deserve their love.

Unfolding a little, he reaches out to plug his phone in, and for a few minutes it charges, until the lock screen comes up. There’s a flurry of texts from everyone, asking how he is and if he’s excited for his alphas to come back, but at the top of the notifications, he sees the messages that make his heart break.

A strangled, choked wail rips it’s way out of his throat, rough and full of pure despair. He unplugs his phone, because suddenly he doesn’t want it to buzz with notifications anymore, and buries his head in his hands, ignoring how dried blood flakes off on his skin. Whining and whimpering, the distress finally gets to him and he breaks, unable to stop the flood of tears cascading down his cheeks, mixing with the dark red and making it drip down his face in gruesome streaks. He can’t handle the pain in his neck and he just wants it to go away but it won’t, not for another week. For another whole week he won’t see his alphas and for another week he has to deal with the piercing pain all over his body, not to mention the sick, sticky sort of feeling he’s begun to have in his gut.

For what feels like hours, he sits there, unable to do much more than cry his heart out for what feels like the millionth time that month. They’ve never spent more than two weeks away from him and now, without warning, they’re just...leaving him again.

They deserve some time away from you. You’re so disgustingly dependent, honestly. You shouldn’t stop them from getting the free time they need. You’re selfish. Selfish, selfish, selfish. Always have been. Parasitic and worthless and selfish. Weak and pretentious and a lost cause. Maybe you should just get rid of yourself completely. They’d be happier without you.

They’d be happier without you.

They’d be happier without you.

They’d be happier without you.

The words repeat themselves over and over in his mind, cycling and never-ending. It’s his only thought, and he believes it.

Finally, after what feels like a long time, he rouses himself, because his throat is dry and he wants to get the blood off of his hands. On shaky legs, he shuffles down the hall, leaning unsteadily in the door frame of the bathroom for a moment before making his way completely inside.

He looks like a complete and utter mess. His hair is tangled and messy in a dark brown mop on top of his head, there are pronounced bags under his eyes showing his lack of sleep, his eyes seemed to be stained permanently bloodshot from how much he’s cried, and there’s red streaks on his face, making him look like an extra in a horror film.

Luckily his neck isn’t as bad as he thought it was; he only gave himself a tiny nick, but he bled more than he thought he did. The left side of his neck is stained in a dark red crust, almost black, and the claiming bites on either side of his throat look angrily red and raw, almost bruised.

He looks awful, and he wonders why his alphas liked him in the first place. He’s not pretty, no matter how many times they say it, he’s not beautiful. He’s pitiful and ugly and a pathetic excuse for an omega. He’s broken and cracked and flawed in so many ways that he can’t even count all the ways he’s messed up in the head.

They don’t want you. Who would?

“Who would want me?” he whispers to his reflection, and he can see the answer in his own eyes: no one. No one would want him. He feels bad for his alphas, for having to deal with him year after year. No one should have to put up with his clinginess and just...his whole person in general. They’d be better off without him. They’d be happier without him. Without him, they could rise to the top, unburdened by his weakness.

He wants that for them. He wants them to be successful. But he’s holding them back. He’s in the way of that dream. He needs to remove himself from the equation. He’s a loose variable, unnecessary, and he should be taken out so his alphas can shine. He smiles at the thought, because his alphas shine so beautifully. They’re perfect. Perfect for each other, perfect for the world, perfect in every way. They deserve the world, and he’ll do anything he can to give that to them. He is nothing compared to them, but he still loves them, even though his love is insignificant and unimportant, so he wants to help them reach the top. And if he needs to leave for that to happen, he’s perfectly fine with fading away. As long as his alphas are happy, then he’s happy.

They’d be happier without you.

He’s almost cheerful as he cleans himself up, brushes his hair down and wipes the red off of his neck, the thought of making his alphas pleased bolstering him. They’re going to be so happy if he leaves, that way they don’t have to be held back by him. That way, they can finally shine as brightly as they were always meant to shine without his dark presence, a clingy, dependent shadow lurking in their light. They don’t need him.

But he needs them. He needs them so bad it hurts.

Humming to himself as he goes, he cleans up the house from top to bottom, making it sparkle. He needs to make the place nice for his alphas, because they only deserve the best.

He suddenly pauses when he sees a familiar photo while cleaning Seungcheol’s office. It’s of the three of them, a perfectly timed shot of the two alphas each kissing one of his cheeks. They’re all grinning brightly, and Joshua blinks at the blush he sees on the photo-Joshua’s face. He seems happy, and Joshua blinks again, a slight frown tilting his lips down. When was he ever that happy? He doesn’t even remember the day when that photo was taken, and the feeling of being happy is something foreign to him now.

His fingers reach out on their own accord and grasp the edge of the photograph, lifting it off the desk and holding it in shaky hands.

Suddenly, the weight in his chest becomes all too real again and he lets out a soft, almost wounded noise, cradling the photo close to his heart. It hurts for some reason, hurts in emotional ways he can’t understand or even begin to explain, and he selfishly wishes that he didn’t have to leave. Selfishly, he wishes that his alphas would come home and kiss him and smile at him like in the photograph.

But that’s a dream world now, a world long-passed. They don’t have time for him anymore. Resignation, blank and heavy, fills up his soul and leaves Joshua feeling rather emotionless.

He finishes cleaning up the room, but takes the photograph with him. He thinks he can be selfish one last time, and the photo provides some much-needed comfort, even if only for a short time. He tries to ignore the heat coiling uncomfortably in his body, battling with the cold he’s felt ever since his alphas left.

Chapter Text

Crackheads (13)

 

1:25 PM

Angel:

Does anyone know if Shua’s ok? He hasn’t responded to any of our texts and I’m getting worried

 

1:29 PM:

Germs:

Same on our end

I think his phone died or something

 

1:31 PM:

Angel:

Can one of you be a dear and check up on him for me and Cheolie? I want to make sure he’s ok

 

1:32 PM

Pure Sass:

I’ll go!

 

1:32 PM:

Awkward:

Me too

 

1:33 PM

Star Boi:

!! Me too !!

 

1:32 PM:

Satan™:

I’m in

 

1:33 PM

Not A Baby:

Heck why don’t we all go I feel like it’s been forever since we’ve seen Joshua

  

1:34 PM

Angel:

Jihoon I’m kinda surprised at you but thanks everyone, that means a lot

Give him lots of love from us!

 

1:35 PM

Dad™:

I give Hansol and Chan and ONLY Hansol and Chan explicit permission to cuddle him

Everyone else-

no touch

 

1:35 PM

Awkward:

Aw, thanks

 

1:35 PM

Not A Baby:

Uwu

 

1:37 PM

Prince Of China #1:

Just try to stop me

 

1:37 PM

Prince Of China #2:

Jun babe no

 

1:38 PM

Prince Of China #1:

Hao ily but I must give Joshua cuddles

 

1:38 PM:

Dad™:

Ok fine Jun too but no getting too touchy

 

1:39 PM

Literal Sunshine:

What about me??

 

1:40 PM

Dad™:

Ok fine you too Seokmin

But no one else

 

1:40

Pure Sass:

.

 

1:42 PM

Dad™:

Ok fine all of you can cuddle him

But don’t gloat just because me and Hannie aren’t there

 

1:42 PM

Pure Sass:

Duly noted! ^-^

 

1:58 PM

Germs:

...wait are we all just gonna ignore how Chan uwued

Chapter Text

They all arrive at Joshua’s house separately, but at around roughly the same time. The last one to show up is Seungkwan, fashionably late but bearing the gift of snacks.

“Hi, Kwannie,” Hansol hums, smiling as the bouncy omega pressed a kiss to his cheek.

“Hey, Nonie. And hi to the rest of you too.” The others smile at him, and Mingyu claps his hands.

“Alright! Time to invade the house of our favorite little American omega- don’t give me that look, Hansol, you’re a beta- so let’s go!” He strode forward to knock on the door loudly. The others follow, and for a few heartbeats, they wait, but no one comes to answer the door. Sharing a slightly bemused look with the others, he tries again, but nothing happens.

Jihoon, starting to feel oddly uneasy, shoulders Mingyu out of the way, knocking gently. “Joshua? You in there?” His hand found no resistance when he turned the knob and the tense feeling in his gut only grew. Joshua never left the house unlocked. That was a bad sign. Why did he feel so panicked? He didn’t know, but Seungkwan was starting to give him the same look, so he took a deep breath and pushed open the door.

The first thing that hit him was the scent, or rather, lack thereof. All three of the house’s occupant’s scents were stale and old, and the place smelled oddly clean, as though someone had recently gone through it with a scent neutralizer. Everything was perfectly neat; the house didn't look lived-in.

“Guys,” Jihoon begins slowly, the bad feeling in his chest increasing, “please tell me I’m not the only one-”

“Starting to freak out?” Seungkwan finishes, sounding oddly breathless, “because, yeah, you’re not alone in that.”

“Joshua!” Wonwoo yells, startling them all. “Joshua, where are you?!” There’s no response, and everyone can see the panic in each other’s eyes.

“Oh no,” Soonyoung breaths softly, and it sums up everything they feel pretty well. With no further words, they each sprint off to a different corner of the house, yelling the omega’s name and searching desperately for a hint of his scent.

Minghao and Jun check in the upstairs bathroom and immediately both gag because the scent of blood and sadness is so heavy in the air that Jun’s knees buckle and Minghao has to hold him up unsteadily. The omega lets out a loud, plaintive cry, wrenching himself away from Minghao to wobble into the room, eyes flicking around.

“He- blood- he-” Jun gasps out, voice breaking. Minghao is dangerously close to the edge as well so he, with a great effort, pulls Jun away from the bathroom because if he stays in there any longer he’s either going to cry, vomit, or both, and it will affect Jun worse because his nose is more sensitive.

Then there’s a frantic shriek of “FOUND HIM!” from somewhere inside the house, and at Jihoon’s yell both of the Chinese pair scramble to find the source of his voice. They find Jihoon in front of the bedroom door, and the scents there are so confusing that Mingyu, running up, actually stumbles back a couple steps, shaking his head a little to try and clear his nose.

Seeping through the closed door is the strangest combination of scents any of them have ever smelled. It’s heady and spiked with pheromones; it’s the scent of a heat. It’s also overwhelmingly filled with pain and such a tormented sadness that Seungkwan whimpers and buries his face in Hansol’s shoulder. Jun is starting to cry and the alphas look incredibly conflicted, drawn by Joshua’s sweet scent but sobered by the sour scent of negative feelings.

“Alphas, leave,” Jihoon commands shakily, eyes fixed on the door. “Actually, no. Stay, but not here. Go downstairs and scent the whole place. Then contact Jeonghan and Seungcheol. Betas, add your scents too, then bring cold water and towels and food but leave it outside the door. The rest of you come with me.”

They all hasten to obey, incredibly thankful for Jihoon’s level head in a crisis. Mingyu, Soonyoung, and Chan practically sprint downstairs along with Hansol and Minghao and Seokmin, then Jihoon, Seungkwan, Jun, and Wonwoo hesitantly push open the door to Joshua’s room, trying not to gag at the conflicting scents in the air.

“Joshua,” Seungkwan whispers, stunned and afraid. The oldest omega is curled up under the covers, shaking enough to make the sheets tremble and letting out soft, pained noises every now and then. He doesn’t look up as they approach, in fact the only part of him they can see is the top of his head.

“Joshua,” Jihoon murmurs, reaching out to place a hand on where he assumes is Joshua’s shoulder, but the older omega flinches away with a whimper, and Jihoon feels his heart crack. Why? What happened to Joshua? Why was he in this condition? What could have possibly happened to make him like this? The questions swirled without answers in Jihoon’s brain, but he pushed them aside in favor of calming the other omega.

First, he needs to deal with Joshua’s heat. It sparks a flame of anger in him; how did his alphas not see this coming?

“Joshua, do Jeonghan and Seungcheol know about your heat? Why did they leave you if they knew this was going to happen?”

“They don’t- they don’t know- came a week early- don’t know why-” Joshua whimpers, and his voice is so broken that Seungkwan makes a strained little noise in the back of his throat.

“They- they left for another week- won’t see them again for another week-” Joshua continues, sobbing into his pillow, and Jihoon feels the spark of anger rise into a burning rage.

“They did what?” he hisses, because how? How can they be so stupid as to leave their mated omega alone for so long when they know it causes him pain? Not just that, but they didn’t even tell anyone else that they wouldn’t be coming back! He tries to reign himself in when he sees Joshua flinch at his tone, and with effort he controls his voice.

“I’ll be having words with them,” he promises darkly, but Joshua only whimpers weakly.

“Joshua, I think you’re going into a stress heat,” Wonwoo whispers, and all heads snap to him. That isn’t good. Even Joshua’s faint whines quiet in stunned surprise, but he still doesn’t look up at them.

A soft knock at the door makes them all look up, and they hear Minghao mumble something about bringing what they wanted. Seungkwan goes to retrieve the bowl of cold water and brings it back, looking on the verge of tears.

“Joshua, please, look at us,” Jun murmurs, tugging lightly on the edge of the blanket. The older omega whimpers, shuffling further under the covers. “Please,” he tries again, and his voice is strained, close to breaking.

That seems to do the trick. Slowly, reluctantly, Joshua finally peeks out from under the covers, and he looks like a complete mess. His eyes are red and puffy and his hair is tousled, messy from tossing and turning. He’s trembling faintly too but what disturbs them all the most is his neck. There’s a small scratch over one of his claiming marks, as though he’d been clawing at them (Minghao is a little relieved; it must have been the source of the bloody smell in the bathroom but it was small enough so that it wouldn’t leave lasting damage), and the marks themselves look painful, bruised red and purple and stark against his pale skin. It’s hard to look at the omega in such a condition, and the others exchange pained looks. How could Jeonghan and Seungcheol leave him like this?

Jihoon starts purposefully pumping out his citrus scent, because Joshua could use the comforting smell and the scent of pain and loneliness and heat in the air is not helping him think. Seungkwan does the same with his bubblegum scent, and so do Jun and Wonwoo, filling the air with cherry blossoms and vanilla respectively. It meshes with Joshua’s green tea scent, and it smells quite pleasant. Or at least, it would if not for the sour hint of unhappiness lacing the air in harsh undertones.

Joshua takes one breath of their scents and breaks again, hiding his face in his hands and curling up, making himself as small as he can. It hurts the other omega’s hearts to see him like this, because they’ve never seen the normally gentle omega so beside himself.

Yes, Jihoon will definitely be giving Joshua’s two alphas a long talk when this is over.

“Drink something, Shua, please,” Seungkwan urges pleadingly, holding a glass out. Joshua tilts his head further away, and the younger omega lets out a soft whine.

“At least tell us how you feel,” Wonwoo murmurs, climbing on the bed next to him. “I mean, obviously you’re probably not feeling great but talk. Just say something to us.”

“Hot,” Joshua finally says, voice muffled and hoarse like he hasn’t spoken for days. “And cold. Hurts everywhere. I don’t want it to hurt. I want my alphas.”

“Come here,” Wonwoo sighs sadly, tugging the older omega closer. Joshua latches onto his waist, burying his face in the younger’s chest, so clearly desperate for touch and love and attention that it takes Wonwoo’s breath away, and not in a good way.

As much as he hates to admit it, Jeonghan and Seungcheol have been neglecting their poor omega. They’ve been leaving him alone for far too long and giving him far less than the amount of attention he needs to stay healthy and it’s all finally come to a breaking point. He swallows roughly and pets Joshua’s hair back, murmuring comforting words. He tries to ignore the older omega’s pitiful whimpers of “alpha”, and instead focuses on Jihoon’s scent beside him, protective and worried.

Jun makes a soft, surprised noise and the coherent omegas look up at him. He holds up Joshua’s phone, mouthing the words “it's dead” silently. They nod in understanding. So that was why Joshua hadn’t responded to any of their texts. Jun plugs the phone back in, then climbs up on the bed as well, petting Joshua’s back comfortingly. The older omega melts into the touch and it hurts Jun’s heart. Clearly, Joshua has not been getting the affection he needs and that makes him angry. But for Joshua’s sake, he held himself back, because right now, the older omega needs a steady presence.

“I want Hannie and Cheolie,” Joshua whimpers into Wonwoo’s chest, arms shaky as he clings to the younger. “I want them to come back. But they left me and they don’t want me anymore and now I’ll never see them again but as long as I can make them happy I don’t mind leaving. They’ll be happier without me. They’ll do better without me. I’m not good enough for them,” he babbles, delirious from his heat and nearly incoherent from a deep, inner hurt. Wonwoo’s breath hitches in fear.

“I tried to call Hannie but he yelled at me and said he didn’t have time for me and they won’t text me and I’m too clingy and I need to let them go so they can move on but I’m holding them back and that’s bad and I’m not good enough for them and I want them so bad but they don’t need me and I want to make them happy so I have to leave,” Joshua continues in one long breath, voice climbing to a wail.

“I miss them,” he finally whispers, and his voice cracks and breaks and suddenly he’s sobbing his heart out into Wonwoo’s shoulder. The younger is completely and utterly stunned, unable to do much more than pet Joshua’s hair robotically and gape in surprise.

What?

The other omegas seem to think the same thing as him, all of them with almost comically dumbfounded looks on their faces. Is that how Joshua feels? Was that how he was feeling for the past week? While his alphas were gone and his phone dead, was that how he thought of himself? Just how badly had he suffered in the absence of his loved ones?

“No, no, no, Joshua, you are good enough,” Wonwoo finally murmurs, pulling the completely and utterly distraught omega into a tight hug. “You are. You aren’t holding anyone back and you aren’t too clingy and you don’t need to leave to make your alphas happy. After the way they treated you, they're the ones who don't deserve you. What they did was...not ok, and you don't need to feel guilty. None of this is your fault. You are not in the wrong here, Shua.”

The older simply lets out another choked wail, full of distress and despair and it almost physically hurts the others to hear it. Joshua has always been so kind and bright and gentle, so loving and accepting and the grounding, neutral presence they all needed. Seeing him like this is a huge shock, and none of them really know what to do.

“Hurts,” Joshua whimpers pitifully, body curling up. “Hurts, make it stop,” he begs, and Wonwoo wishes so badly that he could take away all of the older omega’s pain. He shifts to let Joshua lie back down again, but as he does so, his thigh brushes against something hard with square edges. He looks down to see the edge of a picture frame sticking out of the blankets. He snatches it up and hands it discreetly to Jihoon, and he frowns at the sudden flare of anger he smells from the other omega. Jihoon doesn’t say anything though, so he simply goes back to petting Joshua’s hair and trying to soothe him.

The scent of slick and want is heavy in the air, and if any of them were alphas they knew it would be hard to control themselves. The pain and neediness in the air wouldn’t help, only adding to an alpha’s protective instincts and increasing the urge to claim and comfort.

“Please,” Joshua whispers, turning big, pleading eyes on them. He’s unconsciously baring his neck and pushing out his heat scent, and even Seungkwan feels the pull.

“Joshua, no,” Jihoon says firmly. “You’re mated and as much as we love you we can’t do that.” Another strained whimper leaves Joshua’s mouth, and Wonwoo continues petting his hair silently. It’s hard, to see the older in such a state, so far gone that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying. He connects gazes with Jihoon and they both know they’re each going to have a nice long chat with the older omega’s alphas after all this is over.

Jun is unusually stoic as he presses a damp towel to Joshua’s forehead, and as the older omega pushes into the cold he bites his lip, worrying it between his teeth.

Another knock on the door makes them look up, and ever so hesitantly Hansol pokes his head into the room, bringing food and his calming beta scent of milk chocolate. He wasn’t nearly as affected as an alpha would be, but he made sure to keep his distance.

“We scented all the downstairs rooms,” he hums softly, eyes fixed on Joshua’s limp form. “Do you...still want us to call Jeonghan and Seungcheol…?” Jihoon hesitated, but shook his head eventually, grabbing his phone.

“Let me do it later. Thanks for checking in. Are the alphas downstairs alright?” Hansol nods to that.

“They’re doing ok. Mostly they’re just kinda confused and worried but the heat isn’t messing with them too badly. If it gets bad I’ll kick them out for a while.”

“Thanks Nonie,” Seungkwan hums, going over to give the beta a quick kiss on the cheek before gently pushing him towards the door. “Now scooch. We’ll be ok.” Hansol doubts that a little, judging by Joshua’s utterly wrecked state, but he complies, slipping out without another word.

At the loss of the beta scent, Joshua whines, needy and conflicted. He sits up to follow, but Jihoon catches his shoulder and gently pushes him back down. Both the heat scent and Joshua’s negative feelings are growing, and his head is starting to spin. He doesn’t know whether he wants to help Joshua’s heat or try to calm him down; both are tempting.

He settles for holding the older omega’s hand tightly, chest feeling constricted. It’s so wrong, in so many ways, on such a fundamental level, for Joshua to be this way.

He winces at Joshua’s needy whine, half a moan and half a muffled cry. He looks up at Wonwoo, and a silent understanding passes between them, eyes glinting. They each look to Jun and Seungkwan, and they both nod back resolutely.

“Check the drawers,” he mutters to Jun, who immediately starts rummaging around.

“Joshua, we’re gonna help with your heat, ok?” he murmurs, and that gets the older omega’s attention. Fuck asking for Jeonghan and Seungcheol’s permission; they lost that right the moment Joshua started crying because of them. He doesn’t care now that almost all of them are mated; right now Joshua is more important than that.

Instantly, the oldest omega sits up to pull off his clothes, and others frown at the faint scent of Jeonghan and Seungcheol that lingers on the clothing. It’s one of the last things that still actually smells like the alphas; everywhere else in the house, their scent is barely there and the thought of that makes Jihoon annoyed again.

But he turns his attention back to Joshua as the older finally strips the rest of his clothing. Another wave of heat scent slaps them in the face, warped and not normal, and Seungkwan can’t help but cough a little at the intensity of it. It’s wrong, doesn’t smell healthy, smells stressed and unhappy. It’s not the scent of an omega who’s been well taken care of.

Despite all that, Joshua seems to be a little relieved to be naked. That being said, his physical condition doesn’t seem to be the best. His skin is flushed a blotchy red, his breaths are uneven and shallow, and there’s an unnatural amount of slick gushing from between his legs, adding to the twisted scent of need and sadness. Still, he’s obviously hard and in desperate need of touch, so Jihoon busies himself first, dipping his hand in the cold water before wrapping it around Joshua’s twitching length. The older omega gasps loudly at the sudden touch and the coldness, but quickly melts into it, overheated body happy for the contrast, throwing his head back with a low moan. It exposes the marks on his neck and all of the other omegas avoid looking at them.

“Here,” Jun mumbles, tossing Jihoon a small bottle. Jihoon nudges it towards Wonwoo, who picks it up quickly, looking a little sad. Not because of what he had to do, but why. He shouldn’t have to be taking care of Joshua in his alpha’s absences. He’s of course always ready to help, and he wouldn’t ever turn any of the others away if they need his help, but he can’t fight the small spark of indignant, protective annoyance that flares in his chest.

He’s going to slap those two alphas when they get home.

But he pushes those (awfully tempting) thoughts away for now, because Joshua needs his help. He doesn’t feel all that awkward, none of them do, because they’ve helped each other out with unexpected heats before so they’re no strangers to each other’s bodies. Being a lonely college omega will undoubtedly make sure one gets a group of people to help each other through heats. As awkward and uncomfortable as it can be the first few times, he got used to it fairly soon and now he isn’t at all phased by the sight of Joshua’s naked body writhing on the sheets.

Joshua is very pretty too, he can admit that, with a lithe, slender frame and long legs and pale skin, but he tries not to stare because he can still smell the reluctance and embarrassment coming off of the other omega and he figures he should try to make the older as relaxed as possible.

He sighs to himself as Jihoons leans down to press soft kisses along Joshua’s cheek, gentle and kind. It’s quite different from the Jihoon he sees normally, work-hardened and stubborn and snappy, but Jihoon has always been much more affectionate when helping his friends, especially through their heats. Jun and Seungkwan are cooing reassuringly, humming praises and comforts and holding Joshua’s hand.

The oldest omega is still crying, tears falling steadily from his eyes as he kisses Jihoon back frantically and moans feebly against his lips. Wonwoo can’t tell, but his hand is holding tight to Jun’s, as though if he loosens his grip they might slip away. He keeps making small, soft cries, little sobs that hurt their hearts. Wonwoo hears Jun sniffle weakly, but to his credit he doesn’t break down.

“What do you want, Shua?” he prompts gently, because stress heats need to be handled delicately. He can’t just rush into one without carefully checking in. He’s glad he does, because Joshua pulls away from Jihoon, eyes glassy and indecisive, torn and unhappy but also desperate and needy.

“I...I don’t know,” he finally whispers, and at that Seungkwan makes a low noise in the back of his throat, whiny and fearful. “I want my al-” he cuts himself off, and stopping himself seemed to cause him physical pain, another flood of tears running down his pretty face and dripping onto his bare chest. Wonwoo pets his thighs comfortingly, hoping to calm the weeping omega at least a little bit. It doesn't seem to help much.

“I don’t know,” he sobs weakly, clinging to Jihoon’s shirt with one hand and holding onto Jun’s hand with the other.

“Shh, shh, it’s ok,” Jihoon soothes, petting the older’s hair. “It’s ok, you’ll be alright. I’m here, Jun’s here, Kwan’s here, Wonu’s here. We’re here for you. It’ll be alright; you don’t have to make a hard choice. Do you just want to cuddle? We can do that, or we can go further. Anything you want, Shua.”

“I- I-” Joshua’s whole body is shaking with the force of his tears, and he looks a little surprised, as though he wonders why they’re letting him have a choice.

“Please, just- I- hold me,” he whimpers pleadingly, turning his face away into Jihoon’s chest like he wants to disappear and never be found. It's a simple request, a little surprising. They knew Joshua had been deprived of the affection he needed, but not even getting to cuddle with his alphas? That was crossing a line. They hold back angry, protective growls, focusing on pushing out their scents to make him feel better.

“That’s ok, we can do that,” Jihoon hums, shifting so he’s lying on his side to let the older cuddle up to his chest. Jun settles himself on Joshua’s other side and Wonwoo and Seungkwan sit at their feet, leaning against each other. Even though Joshua is taller than him when they’re standing, Jihoon tucks the older omega’s head under his chin, humming softly in the back of his throat and petting his hair with gentle hands. Jun wraps his arms around the older’s torso, burying his face in the back of his neck and leaving little kisses here and there. Joshua simply shoves his face into Jihoon’s neck, taking deep, shaky breaths of the citrusy smell. He nuzzles the curve of the younger’s neck almost unconsciously, trying to gain more comfort from the familiar action. Jihoon lets him, but the silent plea for solace makes him sigh sadly, hugging Joshua tight to his chest.

The smell of an early, desperate, stress-induced heat fades slightly (but only slightly), and in it’s place, the scent of despair and sadness and loneliness hangs heavy in the air. Seungkwan tries to hold back his tears as his eyes water, clinging tightly to Wonwoo’s hand, who squeezes back reassuringly.

“It’s ok, let it all out, don’t worry, we’re here,” Jihoon hums softly, running a hands through the trembling omega’s hair. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

Joshua shakes his head violently, startling all of them, but Jihoon soothes him the best he can.

“Alright, alright, it’s ok, we don’t have to talk. Do you just want me ‘n Jun to hold you?” Joshua nods more slowly, another soft whimper leaving his mouth and tugging at their heartstrings. It just sounds so wrong, to hear such an unhappy sound come from Joshua. There should have never been any reason for Joshua to make that kind of noise. In all the years they’d known him, he had never done anything to deserve such pain and suffering. He was soft and kind and maybe sometimes put a bit too much of his heart into what he did but he was genuine and an actual angel to everyone who met him.

Wonwoo tries not to clench his hands into fists when he thinks about the claiming marks on Joshua’s neck. Suddenly it just makes him sad, to wonder about how Joshua got into his current situation. He seemed just fine last month, but Jeonghan and Seungcheol had only been away from him for a total of 10 days that month, scattered around so they weren’t prolonged. But now they were spending almost an entire month away from their omega and leaving him in a state so bad that he couldn’t take care of himself.

He’d noticed the first week, how Joshua hadn’t looked or acted like himself and the scent of dullness hung around him, masking his normal sweet green tea scent. But from there it had seemed to spiral down, and now Joshua was trembling in Jun and Jihoon’s arms, sniffling and crying and conflicted.

Jihoon starts singing softly in his angelic voice, high and clear and clean. Joshua pushes further into him, sniffling starting to subside. The other omegas give Jihoon encouraging nods, and he continues singing, closing his eyes and petting Joshua’s hair and pushing out his scent.

“Hoonie?” Joshua begins shakily, and Jihoon falls quiet, humming questioningly.

“Do you...do you think they don’t love me anymore?” His voice turns oh-so soft and disturbingly steady, and it makes Jihoon freeze.

“No, Shua, don’t say that. Of course they still love you,” he hums. They’re doing an awfully bad job of showing it though, he thinks bitterly to himself. They don’t deserve Joshua, who is like a dove in his never-ending kindness and gentle demeanor. Joshua in turn doesn’t deserve to be neglected, doesn’t deserve to suffer. He’s too sweet to hurt, too pure and too selfless to waste himself on other people, because he knows Joshua will throw himself away if he thinks it will make someone else happy.

It hits Jihoon then that Joshua thinks that, by leaving, he’ll make his alphas happy. It’s not true at all, of course, and Joshua will only end up hurting himself more if he keeps himself away from his mates, but...some sick, twisted part of his mind has been warped into thinking his alphas don’t want him and don’t love him and tells him that if he leaves, they’ll be happier. Joshua’s selflessness and tendency to put others before himself is coming back to bite him as he sinks deeper and deeper into the dangerous thoughts of loneliness and self-dismissal. Far more than Jeonghan and Seungcheol, he’s been neglecting himself. They can all tell from the way his body is weak and shivery in their arms, much too fragile to be healthy, and how his scent is sour and musky and weird. They can see it in his watery eyes, the blank dullness masking pain and want from his face.

He’s cracking, fraying at the seams, the prolonged separation from his mates wearing on his mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s not good for any of the trio, especially for Joshua, who already walks a shaky path on his own since his alphas are gone all the time.

It scares Jihoon. It scares all of them.

“Shh, don’t cry, Shua, they still love you. And when they get home, they’re going to shower you in all the love and attention you deserve and trust me when I say you deserve the world,” he murmurs, not really sure what else to say. Joshua’s scent tinges bitter with disbelief, and he hugs the older omega that much closer.

“If they don’t, then I’ll fight them for you,” he promises, dead serious. It makes a weak chuckle force itself out of Joshua’s mouth though, so he makes sure to actually slap them if he gets the chance.

“Don’t hurt them too badly though, they haven’t done anything wrong,” Joshua mumbles, and Jihoon sighs softly, because yes, they have, they’ve messed up big time, but he doesn’t say that.

“Sleep, Shua, if you can. We’ll be right here when you wake up.”

“I don’t want to sleep. If I sleep then I have nightmares,” Joshua protests feebly, curling further into the smaller omega.

“We’ll protect you, don’t worry,” Jihoon urges, pressing a little kiss to the older’s hair.

“...They never hold me like this anymore,” Joshua admits, almost silently, and Jihoon’s eyes widen in alarm. He glances up at Wonwoo and Seungkwan to see them wearing the same expression. Just how long has it been since Joshua’s received an adequate amount of attention?

“I still love them though,” Joshua continues, almost peacefully, and the other omegas hold back sighs. Of course he does. Joshua will love someone to the ends of the earth even if it kills him. That’s just how he is. Privately, Seungkwan worries that one day, it will kill him.

“Sleep, Shua,” Jihoon says again. He feels Joshua’s thin arms wind around his chest and pull himself closer, and in turn Jun shuffles with him, filling the air with his cherry blossom scent, calm and sleepy and comforting. It does wonders for the oldest omega, who is by then thoroughly worn out and desperate for rest. His body is still burning with want and his claiming bites still hurt, but he’s so tired, so, so tired, and Jihoon and Jun are so warm and comforting around him. It reminds him of his alphas, of when they didn’t have to go so often, and he relishes in the almost nostalgic feeling.

For the first time in nearly two weeks, he falls asleep without nightmares.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god,” Seungkwan breaths once Joshua finally falls asleep in Jun and Jihoon’s arms. His voice is weary and scared and relieved all at once and it pretty much sums up how they’re all feeling. He leans onto Wonwoo heavily, who’s still holding his hand and staring blankly at Joshua’s tear-stained face.

“I...don’t know what to say,” the older says, and he really doesn’t, he’s got absolutely no idea how to comprehend what just happened. Jun huffs a soft, dry laugh, nuzzling Joshua’s hair.

“Let him sleep. Go tell the others he’s ok for now,” he hums, and Wonwoo nods, delicately disentangling himself from Seungkwan to stand up. His legs are a little stiff but he moves quickly, hurrying to tell the betas and alphas who are undoubtedly anxious about the whole thing.

“Wonwoo! Thank god- is he ok? How did it go?” Mingyu stands up first, striding over to his omega and burying his nose in his mate’s neck. Wonwoo lets him, silently pondering how to even begin to explain what had happened.

“You smell weird,” Mingyu huffs against his skin, trying to sort through the mix of cherry blossoms, citrus, bubblegum, and the warped smell of tea and heat. Of course, underneath it all there’s Wonwoo’s classic vanilla scent, and he focuses on that.

“You ok?” he hums warily, because Wonwoo still hasn’t said anything and the other betas and alphas were starting to get antsy again. “Wonu, say something.” He pulls away, a new wave of worry crashing over his chest.

“He’s...ok. He’s sleeping,” Wonwoo finally says, slowly like he isn’t sure how to proceed. That gains a loud sigh of relief from all around the room as stiff postures melt and expressions loosen. Wonwoo, however, is still uneasy as he sits down and puts his head in his hands.

“Wonwoo?” Mingyu says worriedly, putting a hand on his mate’s shoulder.

“...Ok, small lie, he isn’t ok. Really, really not ok,” Wonwoo admits hesitantly. “He went into a stress heat.” That earns him a sharp inhale from the older ones in the room but Minghao, Hansol, and Chan give him confused looks.

“...That doesn’t sound good, but explain anyway, please,” Minghao prompts, and Wonwoo runs his hands over his face for a moment, thinking hard.

“Stress heats are caused by, well, obviously, stress. Well, any large emotional strain, really. Unlike a normal heat they can happen any time and often without warning. They’re painful to go through and it’s never a pleasant experience, which is why you sometimes hear about college-age omegas skipping class because of stress heats and the like.”

He takes another deep breath and debates whether or not to continue. He can give more detail, and he knows the others would appreciate that, but he half doesn’t want to. Ultimately, he decides to bite the bullet and keep going.

“Most of the time they’re caused by overwhelming emotional strain, like sadness or worry, and the longer emotions are built up the worse it will be. This is...one of the worst I’ve ever heard of. I think he’s suffering from a very bad case of lack-of-love syndrome, which is basically exactly what it sounds like: he isn’t and hasn’t been getting enough attention. It’s physically hurting him, and his emotions and the heat are tearing his body apart. The heat itself is his body’s way of crying out for help, since it’ll want to attract an alpha or a beta to make the omega feel better. It’s going to do everything it can to find a source of comfort, even if it ends up hurting him in the long run.” He pauses, unable to continue for a moment, then he closes his eyes and forces himself to continue.

“It’s...really not good if you go into a stress heat. It’s an omega’s body looking for comfort usually when said omega doesn’t want it. It’s not fatal but it can really fuck up a person’s mind and leave some pretty bad emotional scarring if it gets too bad, since there’s some massive mental conflict, especially if the cause of the stress is someone close to them. His body has been under too much stress and he can’t handle his own emotions anymore so...so basically his body wants an alpha to take care of him. And when I say take care of him, I mean to the fullest extent. Take care of him like you’d take care of a sick friend. Emotionally and physically.”

“...Wonu, how do you know all of this?” Mingyu’s voice is far too worried and Wonwoo lets out a dry chuckle.

“I went through one in high school. Almost every omega does at least once in their life, relax. I’m not the one you should be worried about, anyway.” He lets his head fall back into his hands and groans quietly. “It’s even worse because he’s already mated, so his body is going to be looking for specific sources of comfort. And it’s even worse because he has two mates who are both gone at the same time, which basically doubles the amount of separation-induced pain and anxiety. And if things weren’t bad enough, I’m 99.9% sure they’re the reason why he’s in this condition in the first place, which fucking sucks because his body wants Jeonghan and Seungcheol but I highly doubt he wants them near him right now in any other way.”

“Speaking of his alphas,” Mingyu prompts, and Wonwoo shifts uncomfortably. He doesn’t know if he has the right to explain the complicated mess that is Joshua’s feelings towards the pair.

“If...if I explain, you need to shut up and listen. Don’t say anything and just...let me say it all first, because by god there is no way I can say all of it in one sentence,” he says warningly, and he others give him solemn nods.

He takes several deep breaths, because his eyes sting again and he doesn’t know if he can get through all of it without crying, but he’s going to try.

So, with great hesitation, he starts to speak. He recounts everything that Joshua had said and conveyed through delirious tears and confused emotions, and by the time he’s done he knows he’s crying but Mingyu’s hand is holding his and so he tries to calm himself down by breathing in the solid, steady scent of sea salt and clean air next to him.

“...Well fuck,” Hansol says, and Wonwoo looks up because 1) Hansol doesn’t swear that often and 2) he hears the beta’s voice crack and he’s never seen Hansol cry before, like ever, but to his immense surprise the younger is indeed wiping his eyes with his sleeve, sniffling a little. Minghao is silently letting the tears pour down his cheeks, staring into nothingness, and to his right Chan has his face buried in Seokmin’s chest, who was staring up at the ceiling, vainly trying not to cry as he hugs the younger close. A few tears still end up dripping out of his eyes and landing in Chan’s hair anyway. Mingyu beside him is silent, but Wonwoo can smell the stunned worry rolling off of him in waves. Soonyoung says nothing at all either, stone-faced and solemn.

They say nothing for a while until Minghao stops crying and Chan stops sniffling, then, voice weak, Seokmin speaks.

“Is he ok now? You said he was sleeping, right?” Wonwoo is relieved to change the subject to something more positive and he nods.

“I don’t think he’s been getting much sleep lately, so I’m glad he’s resting. Jun and Jihoon and Seungkwan are cuddling him and they should be fine. In the meantime, we’ll be taking care of his heat and if I smell any of you near the door for anything other than an emergency I’m booting you out. That clear?” He gets sharp nods in response and smiles faintly.

“Thanks for being understanding. I just...don’t want him to get overwhelmed.”

“None of us do,” Mingyu says softly, squeezing his hand. “We’ll do what we can to make you guys comfortable. Hollar for anything and we’ll bring it.”

“Thanks, Gyu,” he hums, kissing the alpha’s cheek happily. “And the rest of you too, for agreeing to help out.”

“Anything for our friends,” Minghao says, voice determined and oddly harsh, full of protective anger. But still, his words make the others nod.

Wonwoo thinks that as long as Joshua has them, things won’t be so bad. The only thing he has to worry about now is Joshua’s heat…

And the impending return of his alphas.

Chapter Text

The next day is spent tending to the needs of Joshua’s body, calming the fire under his skin and easing away the heat gradually. If his alphas were there, the process would go faster, but none of them dare to actually fuck him, since they don’t know how his mated instincts will react and they really don’t want to find out if something bad happens. But, they can satisfy the heat in other ways.

It’s Jun’s turn to gently coax the older omega through another release, and he does so with eager-to-help enthusiasm, three fingers pumping in and out of Joshua’s dripping entrance and lips attached to his like if they break away the world will end.

Joshua is still producing an unhealthy amount of slick, drenching the sheets beneath him, so they make sure to give Joshua as much water as possible so he doesn’t get dehydrated. He only leaves the bed to go to the bathroom and clean himself off, and when he isn’t being touched they cuddle with him while he sleeps fitfully. They successfully coax him into eating small amounts, mostly fruit and little pieces of toast but nothing more; Joshua’s body rejects the food violently if he eats even a little bit too much.

They’re all very gentle with him, touches light and tender as he’d requested, but enough to satisfy. When he first asked, the hesitant “please be gentle” having gone nearly unheard, all of them hurried to heed his words. Wonwoo’s mind had flashed back to when he’d visited the first time and had seen Joshua limping around and smelling in pain, and again a bright flare of protective anger had risen up in him at the thought of the two alphas manhandling a delicate flower like Joshua. Privately, he relayed what he remembered to the other omegas, and they took up the knowledge with somber nods and promises to be gentle.

More to satisfy themselves than anything, they shower Joshua with as much love and attention as they possibly can, holding him like he’s some sacred being and whispering praises and little compliments and reassurances that he’s ok. It makes a weird sort of satisfaction grow in their chests, to know they can take care of Joshua properly. They don’t really know what they’re trying to prove or if they’re trying to prove something at all, but with every kiss placed to his hair and every loving word whispered to him, Joshua seems to feel a little better, so they’re happy to continue lavishing the oldest omega with as much love as he deserves. And he needs it too, judging by the way his body instinctively chases after them if they move too far away.

“Just a little more, Shua, come on,” Jun hums encouragingly, lips against the older’s jawline. He slips in a fourth finger because it’s easy and he can, and Joshua moans loudly, tilting his head back and squeezing his eyes shut as what has to be his third or fourth orgasm of the day rips through him, leaving him weak and shaking but in a better way than before.

“You’re so pretty, you’re doing so good, Shua, you’ll be ok,” Jun murmurs, lightly trailing kisses all over Joshua’s sweaty collarbones and drawing another faint moan out of the older. It’s a happy noise though, and Jun preens inwardly at being able to pull the sound out. Feeling quite satisfied with himself, he slides his fingers out slowly, keeping an eye on the way Joshua’s body tightens to try and keep him from moving away.

Rubbing his hand clean on the sheets, he pets the older’s thigh happily. His scent is much less sour, though still a little bitter with longing (it couldn’t be helped; Jeonghan and Seungcheol wouldn’t be back for another few days), but overall his green tea smell had sweetened again, making everyone in the house happy. All of the omegas stay at the house, not daring to leave Joshua’s side, and Mingyu does too, sleeping in the guest room without complaint. Chan, Soonyoung, and the betas all went home, but came back the first thing in the morning and refused to leave, catering to their every need the best they could.

The omegas were grateful for their help. Joshua, right in the middle of riding out his heat, was particularly attached to them, and if even one of their scents got too far away, he’d get anxious again and that was the opposite of they wanted. So they were infinitely glad for the regular checks-ins the betas performed, since it gave them a chance to get things they couldn’t reach and tell the alphas if they needed to do anything.

“Feel better?” Jihoon hums, grabbing a damp towel and laying it over the other omega’s eyes. Joshua nods a little, relaxing into the bed. He’s still holding tight to one of Jihoon’s hands, but his grip loosens a little when Jihoon starts humming under his breath, fiddling with the edge of the towel and making sure it lays correctly over his face.

“Sorry to make you guys take care of me like this-” He’s silenced by the finger Seungkwan presses to his lips, firm and insistent.

“Shh. Don’t finish that sentence. You have nothing to be sorry for, Shua. You need the help and we’re glad to give it to you no matter what. None of this is your fault, so don’t feel bad. We’re here to help you, not guilt-trip you,” he says, gentle but stern and Joshua musters up the energy to chuckle weakly. Seungkwan’s finger taps his nose happily.

“There’s that smile,” he coos, and the other omegas smile as well. As long as they’re with Joshua, then the oldest omega will be ok.

Chapter Text

Crackheads (13)

 

5:17 AM

Angel:

So??? How are things???

 

8:45 AM

Germs:

First of all

Don’t ever text me before 8 again

And second

Things are fine.

You guys on the other hand

Not so fine.

You two fuckers are in so much trouble

 

8:48 AM

Dad™:

???

Ok???

Also Gyu using proper punctuation in a text??

What has the world come to

 

8:49 AM:

Germs:

I am going

To slap you both

So hard when you get back

You deserve it too

 

8:50 AM

Dad™:

Jeez chill

 

8:50 AM

Angel:

Enough of that

How is my baby

 

8:52 AM

Literal Sunshine:

Chan’s fine too

 

8:53 AM

Angel:

I meant my other baby but that’s good ig

 

8:54 AM

Not A Baby:

You guess?????

 

8:54 AM

Germs:

Chan go back to sleep

Anyway

If you wanna know how Joshua is then maybe you should come back and I don’t know

Check on him yourself

Yknow

Just sayin

 

8:57 AM

Angel:

I’m sensing some hostility in the air here

Is Shua being problematic

He gets clingy when we’re gone

 

8:57 AM

Pure Sass:

Gee I wonder why

He’s not problematic at all

 

8:58 AM

Angel:

Oh good

Sometimes he’s a handful I hope he isn’t whining too much

 

8:59 AM

Satan™:

I am going to hurt you when you get back home.

 

9:00 AM

Dad™:

That is

Incredibly threatening

Periods really do make all the difference

 

9:00 AM

Satan™:

Good.

Now shut up and go back to your little vacation

I’m trying to sleep

 

9:01 AM

Dad™:

Jihoon it’s 9 in the morning wake up already

 

9:01 AM

Satan™:

Shut the fuck up Seungcheol

Oh and I almost forgot

Thanks for totally not telling us that you would be staying out for another week.

Really nice to hear that straight from you guys

Makes us all feel real important

 

9:02 AM

Dad™:

Oh

Yeah

Sorry about that

I thought Shua would tell you

Did he not??

 

9:08 AM

Satan™:

Sorry about that? “Sorry about that”?? Is that what you’re gonna say to your omega who just spent two weeks in what must have been awful pain because you two assholes apparently “don’t have time for him anymore” according to what he told us. You think it’s just gonna be that easy? He was fucking bawling because of you two, he went into a goddamn stress heat and you fuckers were the cause so we had to take care of him because you weren’t there

“Sorry about that” ???

Yeah you sound real sorry to me

 

9:09 AM

Angel:

Jihoon relax it was unavoidable and if we could be back right now we would be

No need to get pissy at us

Did Shua tell you?

 

9:10 AM

Satan™:

Yeah he did

Right after he finished sobbing his goddamn heart out

Still pissed though

 

9:11 AM

Germs:

^^

 

9:11 AM

Is No An Emotion:

^^

 

9:11 AM

Prince Of China #1:

^^

 

9:11 AM

Prince Of China #2:

^^

 

9:11

Pure Sass:

^^^^^^^^^^

 

9:13 AM

Angel:

Are we missing something here

I feel like we’re being ganged up on

Why’re yall so mad

 

9:20 AM

Satan™:

Jesus fucking christ how can you two be so oblivious it’s painful to watch

It was even more painful to listen to Joshua cry for a solid hour before we could do anything to calm him down

You made him think you don’t love him anymore

You made him think you don’t want him anymore and look where that fuckin gets us

When we found him he smelled like blood and heat and literally every negative feeling ever and he looked awful

He didn’t even want us to help with his heat all he wanted was for us to hold him because you two don’t anymore so we did

I have him in my arms as I type and I’m not sure any of us are going to let you have him back because I certainly won’t unless you fucking make things right again because there is no way in hell I’m letting Shua suffer like that again because of you

I’m not mad, just disappointed.

 

9:20 AM

Dad™:

How come it took you 7 minutes to write like five words

 

9:20 AM

Satan™:

Hey Seungcheol?

 

9:20 AM

Dad™:

Hm?

 

9:21 AM

Satan™:

Go choke.

 

9:21 AM

Angel:

Jesus Jihoon did Soonyoung fuck you too hard last night or something

Go easy on him Soonie

 

9:22 AM

Star Boi:

Jeonghan I suggest that maybe you don’t anger the one whose chat name is literally satan

Yknow just

Some friendly advice if you wanna keep your ponytail

 

9:22 AM

Angel:

???

Jihoon being grumpy in the morning is nothing new

Though you do seem touchier than usual

Are you in heat or something

 

9:23 AM

Satan™:

I’m not but Joshua is and guess whose fucking fault it is that it came a week early

No

 

9:24 AM

Angel:

Sure

Soonyoung make sure he gets taken care of ok

His negativity is ruining this chat

 

9:26 AM

Star Boi:

Make sure Jihoon gets taken care of??? What about Joshua???

He’s fine

 

9:27 AM

Is No An Emotion:

Don’t you two have things to do

 

9:27 AM

Prince Of China #2:

Yeah I thought you two were busy or something

Why else would you still be gone

 

9:28 AM

Angel:

Dang it’s like you guys want us gone or something

 

9:28 AM

Prince of China #2:

You got us there

 

9:29 AM

Dad™:

We can relax a little we don’t have to go till 10

So how have yall been

Please tell me none of you burned down your house

I swear none of yall can function without me n Hannie to parent you

 

9:30 AM

Awkward:

Yeah and Joshua literally can’t be away from you without it hurting him

 

9:31 AM

Angel:

Hansol we can see you typing what did you do

 

9:31 AM

Awkward:

.

 

9:31 AM

Dad™:

Sometimes it frightens me how accurate these chat names are

 

9:32 AM

Not A Baby:

Please Jeonghan is the farthest thing from an angel and you know it

 

9:32 AM

Awkward:

Stob it

Leave me alone

 

9:33 AM

Angel:

Soft awkward baby

 

9:33 AM

Pure Sass:

Mine

 

9:33 AM

Awkward:

Seungkwannie’s

 

9:34 AM

Dad™:

That was literally at the same time yall I’m

You two are so cute

Big soft

 

9:34 AM

Angel:

Not cuter than us though

 

9:34 AM

Dad™:

<3

 

9:35 AM

Satan™:

You two are disgusting

 

9:36 AM

Angel:

Thanks love you too Hoonie

Anyway how is my baby doing?

Is he eating enough?

Is he drinking enough?

Is he taking care of himself?

 

9:37 AM

Is No An Emotion:

Oh so now you finally seem to care about him??

 

9:37 AM

Germs:

No, he isn’t taking care of himself because he can’t because you two fucking idiots left him alone for too long

 

9:37 AM

Prince Of China #1:

We had to take care of him for you

 

9:37 AM

Prince Of China #2:

Why don’t you just ask him yourself like proper mates should??? You can call him can’t you?

 

9:37 AM

Not A Baby:

He’s actually doing really bad and it’s kinda your fault and I don’t know whether to be mad or scared I’m both

 

9:37 AM

Star Boi:

He’s drinking enough but he’s barely eating and I don’t think he’s sleeping well but we’re trying to take care of him the best we can while you aren’t here

 

9:37 AM

Literal Sunshine:

I’m scared for him

You’ve been away for too long and it’s hurting him really badly

 

9:37 AM

Pure Sass:

Are you even sure you can take care of him properly when you get back?

 

9:37 AM

Awkward:

If you could smell his scent you two would know how things are

 

9:37 AM

Satan™:

I don’t think you deserve to know how he is.

 

9:38 AM

Dad™:

Yo how come all of you started typing at the same time but none of you actually sent something

That was weird

 

9:39 AM

Angel:

Well one of you hurry up and say something I wanna know how Shua is

 

9:39 AM

Prince of China #2:

DEAR GOD WHY DON’T YOU JUST T E X T/C A L L  H I M Y O U R S E L V E S YOU’RE SO STUPID SOMETIMES YOU DON’T DESERVE HIM

 

9:40 AM

Angel:

Jihoon I’m trusting you to be dependable you say something first

Jihoon?

 

9:42 AM

Dad™:

Jihooooooooon

 

9:45 AM:

Angel:

Jihoon? Anyone?

 

9:50 AM

Angel:

Guys??????

Chapter Text

Jihoon had been about to respond with something snappy and dismissive (because he couldn’t handle the thick-headed stupidity of those two alphas anymore), but Joshua jolting awake and sitting bolt upright with a muffled shriek makes him jump, phone flying out of his hand to fall on the ground. Joshua had been asleep for the past few hours, catching up on some much-needed rest, and he’d seemed fine. Of course, his sleep was always restless and short as he tossed and turned in their arms, but at least he got a few solid hours of shut-eye a day.

Wonwoo’s arm was still draped over his waist, the other omega having fallen asleep hugging Joshua to his chest after putting his phone on the dresser, but at the older’s scream his eyes had snapped open, panicked and disoriented.

“Jo- Joshua?? Are you ok?” Wonwoo fumbles a little as he scrambles to sit up, worriedly pulling the older close. With a weak cry, Joshua shoves himself away, curling up with his head in his knees.

“Please- don’t,” he sobs, and Jihoon and Wonwoo both sink back away, though reluctantly. Jun and Seungkwan, having been sitting at the edge of the bed, both look incredibly alarmed, crawling a little closer.

“Shua? Shua, please, it’s ok, you’re alright, we’re here. It was just a nightmare, it can’t hurt you,” Jun rambles, hands reaching out to land on the older’s knee but Joshua flinches away again, and unhappily, they all force themselves to give him his space.

“It’s ok, you’re ok, it was just a nightmare,” Jihoon murmurs over and over, pushing out his calm-scent as much as he can. “Jun, go tell the others to scent something soft and bring it up here. It can be the same object like a blanket or something just make sure it has all of their scents,” he orders, and instantly Jun nods and slips away, casting a scared look at the oldest omega over his shoulder as he goes.

Joshua still seems to be trapped in his nightmare, one hand clamped tightly over his mouth to try and muffle the whimpers and sobs racking his body. He’s rocking back and forth a little, all limbs pulled in as close as he can to make himself smaller. It's somewhat terrifying to the other omegas, to see him so beside himself.

Jun comes back in after a few minutes, holding a large, fluffy blanket, and carefully he drapes it over Joshua’s shoulders, taking care not to touch him in the process. Somehow, they know that the more they try to touch him the worse it will get, so they reign in the urge to give comfort through contact and settle for whispering loving words and reassurances.

Joshua slowly pulls the blanket tight around his shaking frame, burying his face into a corner and taking deep inhales. A low whine slips out of his throat as he breathes in Hansol’s milk chocolate scent, mixed with Minghao’s cinnamon and Seokmin’s cedar, desperate to find comfort from the familiar scents. Nuzzling the soft fabric, he twists it around until he finds Mingyu’s sea salt scent, along with Soonyoung’s sweet peach and Chan’s ginger. He rubs his cheek all over the blanket, seemingly trying to drown himself in the scents. Despite the familiar smells, he doesn’t stop crying or whining low in his throat, despairing and confused and scared.

Jihoon is now more tempted then ever to never let Jeonghan or Seungcheol near the older again, but none of them stop murmuring gentle words, slowly getting closer when they think he can handle it and moving back if he gets tense. Soon enough, Joshua is sitting cradled in Wonwoo’s lap, still holding the blanket around his shoulders and up to his face. It’s damp with his tears by then but he doesn’t seem to notice and if he does he doesn’t care.

“Joshua, flower, it’s alright. You’re safe with us,” Jihoon coos softly, carding a hand through the older omega’s fluffy brown hair. The others hum in agreement and Joshua raises his head to put his ear to the base of Wonwoo’s neck, closing his eyes and listening to the sound. He looks so small and sad and broken that Wonwoo can’t help but hold him closer, pressing a kiss to the older’s forehead. His skin is hot to the touch and that worries him, but he focuses on calming Joshua down first.

“Shh, shh, it’s ok,” he whispers. “Nothing can hurt you here. It’s ok. We’re here. We won’t let you get hurt. We’ll protect you. It’s ok, you’re ok.” The words fall from his lips in a steady stream of comforts, and somewhere along the line Jun joins in, speaking softly in Mandarin and adding beautiful-sounding words that none of them can understand easily but appreciate nonetheless. At least, it seems to calm Joshua, who glances at the Chinese omega when he starts speaking and watches with red, puffy eyes, a little entranced. Jun is happy to continue to talk however long it takes for the older to stop crying.

You’re ok, it’s ok, don’t worry,” he croons, carefully reaching for Joshua’s hand. Limply, the older lets their fingers slot together, and Jun brings the back of his hand up into a gentle kiss. “You’re doing so good. You’re so pretty, so lovely, you’re doing just fine. We’re here for you, flower.” He can’t help but let his fond side come out, as it often does when he compliments other people.

F-flower,” Joshua repeats in strangled, halted Mandarin, and Jun smiles brightly, because Joshua has always been the best with languages (it’s uncanny, really).

Flower,” he nods, squeezing the older’s hand tightly because he’s talking about Joshua. Joshua is like a flower, gentle and beautiful but easy to bruise. Back and forth, they say the single word, Jun repeating it slowly so Joshua can hear it easier. The other omegas are silent, letting them talk without interruptions. When Joshua can finally say it without problems, Jun smiles, so bright and proud, because he really is, he’s proud of Joshua.

“Flower,” Joshua finally says softly in Korean, sounding much calmer.

“That’s you,” Seungkwan giggles a little, leaning forward to put his hand on top of Joshua and Jun’s intertwined fingers. He’s always been their flower. Wonwoo and Jihoon hum agreement, the smaller omega moving to sit next to Wonwoo so he can continue petting the older’s hair. Jun shifts so he can hold both of Joshua’s hands and Seungkwan situates himself on Wonwoo’s other side, leaning on him and offering a silent, steady presence.

For a long while they simply sit there, cooing fond words to the oldest omega and comforting him the best they can. They don’t ask about the nightmare, though they store his rather extreme reaction away to think about later, and Joshua seems fine with that. He even starts to look sleepy again, listening to Wonwoo’s deep voice murmur constantly in his ear.

When he speaks next, there’s a faint flush on his cheeks, though whether it’s from embarrassment or his still-ongoing heat is unclear.

“C-can you...um…please,” he mumbles hesitantly into Wonwoo’s shirt, nuzzling his chest. He doesn’t have to elaborate; all the other omegas nod in understanding, Wonwoo shifting him slightly for sake of ease. One arm cradling his back, Wonwoo slips his other hand under the older’s shirt, flitting over his chest and making Joshua let out a quiet sort of exhale.

“Be gentle,” he reminds softly, and the others nod.

“Of course,” Jihoon hums amiably, shifting his hand from Joshua’s hair down to his neck, where he rubs soothingly against the claiming marks (which still look bruised up and unhealthy) for a second before hooking in the collar of his shirt. His fingers linger there only for a moment before Jihoon moves to sit in front of Joshua, bending forward to press a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

“We’ll take care of you, don’t you worry,” Seungkwan hums, rubbing the older’s thigh and pulling the blanket from his shoulders so it won’t get messy. Jun hums happily, letting go of Joshua’s hands so he can shuffle down and run his fingers over the hem of his boxers. Instead of pulling them off, he simply slips a hand down, a little amused and a little concerned to feel the slick already gathering at his fingertips. He wraps his hand around Joshua’s heated length, tilting his head at the stuttered gasp the older lets out, followed by a feeble moan.

“You sound so pretty,” Wonwoo murmurs, half in a daze as he looks down at Joshua’s flushed face. The older simply tugs him down into a surprisingly gentle kiss, one he reciprocates without hesitation, keeping it light and almost chaste. He lets his vanilla scent flow out and Joshua buries his face in the younger’s neck, eagerly breathing in the sweet, calming smell. Joshua can’t help but leave kisses there, grateful and appreciative. The hand Wonwoo has under his shirt slows to a stop over his heart, rubbing circles with his thumb.

Joshua bites his lip to stifle a moan as Jun’s hand tightens around him, strokes more insistent and thorough.

“Don’t be afraid to be vocal, it’s ok,” Jihoon hums, caressing the older’s face and neck and petting his hair to offer a grounding touch. “Your voice is beautiful, like you, flower.”

“I’m not beautiful,” Joshua mumbles against Wonwoo’s neck in a small voice.

“That’s ridiculous. Who told you that? You’re very pretty,” Seungkwan huffs, running his hand over the older’s slender legs. “For one, your legs are amazing, just saying.” That pulls a small grin from Joshua, which the others smile at. “Seriously, Shua, you’re gorgeous.”

“Lies,” Joshua mumbles, but he sounds amused and lightly joking and there are no words for how much that relieves them.

“Totally,” Seungkwan snorts, reaching behind him to fish for the bottle of lube they’d left on the floor. “As if I’d ever lie about something so important.” Joshua only hums, suddenly breathless as Jun rubs his thumb over the head of his cock.

“Ah- feels good, Junnie,” he forces out, laying his head against Wonwoo’s chest.

“Good,” Jun smiles, repeating the action and pulling a needy groan from the older.  “Do you want to cum like this or from my fingers? I can do either. Or both,” he offers helpfully, and none of them are at all put off by his blunt phrasing.

“Mm...this first,” Joshua decides. “But...after that…?”

“We can do both,” Jun assures, finishing the question for him. “Anything you want, flower.”

“Yay,” Joshua mumbles, and it’s the cutest goddamn sound any of them have ever heard. Seungkwan actually squeals a little, cooing over the older. Jihoon, grinning, leans forward to start kissing him lightly, one hand still cupping his face. Joshua melts into the kiss, soaking up the affection as though he’d never been loved before. It still stings a little, makes a spark of anger flare in Jihoon’s mind, but he pushes it away because Joshua’s lips are remarkably soft for the amount of time he spends biting on them.

“I can’t believe someone already snatched you up; you’re so nice to kiss,” he pouts, and he feels Joshua’s lips tilt into a faint smile against his. In lieu of a response, he simply pushes their mouths together again, and Jihoon, for once, is content to follow.

He pulls away when Joshua gasps again, head tilting back as Jun lazily rubs over all his sensitive spots, a half-smirk on his face.

“More, please,” he whispers, and Jun hums acknowledgement. Joshua’s back arches elegantly in Wonwoo’s arms as Jun picks up his pace, and all of them can’t help but praise him. He seems to enjoy it, letting out a soft moan as Jihoon whispers a particularly affectionate comment in his ear. One of his hands reaches up to perch on Wonwoo’s shoulder, the other rising to grip the front of Jihoon’s shirt. His eyes are glazed over with heat and gratitude and affection, glittering in the mid-morning light.

“Pretty eyes, too,” Wonwoo hums thoughtfully, pulling Joshua’s upper body up to kiss him as well. “Pretty eyes, pretty face, pretty voice, pretty everything.” Joshua keens at the praise, body trembling. He tilts his head to kiss Wonwoo better, not pushing exactly, but the kiss certainly isn’t chaste either.

“Ah- Junnie,” he groans, hiding his face in Wonwoo’s neck again. He tilts his legs further apart as Jun chuckles, looking fond. Jun runs his free hand over the older’s torso lightly, murmuring praise and encouragement.

“You’re doing good, Shua, don’t hold back,” he purrs, loving the way the older wiggles and twitches beneath them. He’s utterly submissive, putty in their hands, a fragile, special flower for them to take care of and they will do so happily.

“Fu- Junnie, I’m gonna cum,” Joshua whines weakly, wrapping both arms around Wonwoo’s neck and holding himself close, pressing his face into the younger’s neck and taking deep inhales of his scent. His hips buck up into Jun’s hand, searching for bliss, and Jun is happy to give that to him.

“Good. Go ahead, flower, no one’s stopping you,” he croons, tightening his grip to make sure Joshua can feel every movement of his hand. Jihoon’s long fingers slide under the oldest omega’s shirt, rubbing and twisting his nipples and Joshua’s whole body jerks from the touch, a low moan ripping from his throat. With a short gasp, he cums, his body twitching and arching as a high-pitched sort of squeal leaves his mouth.

Gasping in air, Joshua slowly relaxes back into Wonwoo’s embrace, eyes closed and chest heaving. Jun continues to slowly stroke along his length, bringing him down slowly until Joshua makes a weak noise of protest. He pulls his hand away, slightly amazed at the way his hand is covered in the opaque fluid.

“How do you cum so much?” he huffs in awe, and Joshua hides his face in Wonwoo’s chest again with an embarrassed mumble. “Aw, don’t be shy, you’re beautiful,” he coos, leaning forward to press a quick kiss to the older’s cheek, one Joshua tilts his head into involuntarily. Joshua chases his lips as he pulls away and Jun can’t stop himself from indulging, sharing a slow, sweet kiss with the older.

“Hoonie’s right, it’s a shame you’re already taken. Your lips are so soft…” Joshua blushes a little, and all of them coo.

“So pretty,” Wonwoo hums again, gently caressing the older omega’s cheek. Joshua makes a low noise, almost a purr, tilting his head into the touch. Chuckling, Wonwoo runs his thumb over the older’s cheekbone tenderly, the image of a large, soft, sleepy kitten popping up in his mind.

“Pretty kitten,” he coos, and Joshua’s eyes open and blink up at him, surprised. Then he blushes further, lips twitching up again as he hides his face in the younger’s torso. “Our cute little kitten, beautiful flower,” he croons, and he smirks at the tiny noise Joshua lets out, slightly embarrassed but also needy. He’ll have to exploit that little praise kink later.

The chance comes quicker than he expects when Joshua lightly starts kissing at his neck, right over where his scent is strongest.

“Shirt off, flower,” Jihoon prompts lightly, helping the older sit up to pull the loose night shirt off. With no further instruction he shuffles out of his boxers as well, sitting naked in Wonwoo’s lap. The younger doesn’t really mind the fact that Joshua is leaking all over his bare thighs, especially since the slick is starting to smell normal again, less sour and musky. It smells more...Joshua. Of course, as an omega, it doesn’t affect him the same way it would if he were an alpha, but he can still appreciate the light, mild scent, even if it is a bit overwhelming. 

“Here, lay back, kitten,” Wonwoo hums, depositing Joshua on his back on the sheets and setting the older’s head in his lap, petting his hair back and playing with the soft, fluffy locks. Seungkwan, perched between Joshua’s legs, reaches forward to pet him too, pouting cutely.

“You have got to tell me what kind of shampoo you use because your hair is unfairly soft. Just like the rest of you.”

“Oh, quit it,” Joshua mumbles, smiling in embarrassment.

“He’s right though,” Jun pipes up, situating himself by Joshua’s hips. “You’re adorable, flower. ” He hums the last word in Mandarin, and very softly, almost to himself, Joshua repeats the word, making Jun smile brightly.

“Beautiful too,” Jihoon puts in, leaving light kisses all over Joshua’s face. Joshua tilts his head to press their lips together properly and the mood changes smoothly from calm and fond to something more heated, filling the air with the scent of need and eagerness.

Chapter Text

Mingyu is incredibly hesitant to knock on the door, because the sounds and smells of a needy omega are teasing his senses and making his body want to instinctively find the source. He frowns to himself, wondering why none of the betas had to be in his place; they would be less affected by Joshua's intense heat. But still, he forces himself to just man up and do it. Just think of Wonwoo and you’ll be fine, he tells himself.

All he really wants to say to them is that Soonyoung, Minghao, and Seokmin were going out to get food, so he wants to ask if any of them want anything, but now he regrets being shoved up there, especially because a particularly pretty moan from Joshua has his alpha instincts kicking and a low, involuntary hiss escaping him. He clamps his lips shut when he hears himself though, embarrassed and a little ashamed. He’s supposed to be taking care of Joshua from afar, not listening to him being taken apart by the other omegas, no matter how lovely his voice is.

Steeling himself, he knocks on the door before hesitantly pushing it open, reminding himself to be quick and to the point so he doesn’t have to be around Joshua’s enticing heat scent for too long. Since he's already mated it doesn't affect him nearly as much as it does when Wonwoo's in heat, but it's still tempting, and his inner alpha wants.

“Soonyoung, Minghao, and Seokmin are gonna go get food, do you…guys...” His half-out sentence trails off pathetically as he takes in the scene before him, and his mouth hangs slightly open in stunned surprise as all the other omegas freeze and look up at him.

Wonwoo has Joshua’s head in his lap, petting his hair (though his hand is frozen now), Jihoon had been attached to the older at the lips, kisses slow and sensual until he looked up, Seungkwan’s head is bobbing between Joshua’s thighs, and Jun has three fingers still knuckle-deep inside Joshua’s slick-lubed hole, the oldest omega’s legs spread wide to give Mingyu a maddeningly good view of his slender body. The silence hangs thick and heavy in the air, almost comical; one could hear a pin drop.

“Do you guys want anything,” he finishes lamely, unable to tear his eyes away from the enticing sight laid before him. Joshua’s face slowly turns a pretty shade of red, but he stares right back, pupils dilated and breaths shallow. A small shudder runs through his body and Mingyu can feel his own reacting, getting a little overwhelmed by the heavy smell of arousal in the air and the sight of a needy omega in heat, laid out beautifully on the sheets. All of his alpha instincts are screaming for him to take care of the omega in front of him, but when Joshua lets out a tiny, almost silent whimper of “alpha”, that’s where he decides to draw the line. He can tell he's salivating, and he violently beats back the urge to get on the bed and fuck Joshua to a satisfying fare-thee-well with a mental broomstick.

“I’m so sorry- I’ll leave-” he chokes out, tearing his eyes away with a great effort and turning to disappear into the hallway when Wonwoo’s voice, low and husky and inviting, calls to him.

“Mingyu,” he hears his mate purr, and the alpha is instantly a little weak at the knees. He can’t help himself; that deep voice does things to him. “Come here.” Half of him desperately wants to, but the sensible half of him is unsure. However, his reasonable side quickly wilts and soon he’s turning back to follow the honey sound of his mate’s voice.

He just wants to ask what they want, if they need anything, he really does, but Wonwoo is beckoning to him with a slender finger, foxy eyes narrowed and a smirk on his lips, and Mingyu can't resist him. Mingyu can’t focus on anything but him and Joshua, the rest of his awareness fuzzing out.

Wonwoo’s gaze flits down to Joshua, who is staring unblinkingly at Mingyu as though he’s grown a second head. Wonwoo’s fingers card through the dark brown hair and the action is so tender and natural that Mingyu of course wants in on it.

“Would you let Gyu help?” Wonwoo hums, as casual as anything. The sentence makes Mingyu nearly choke though, and he does his best to not look like he’s dying because what? They’re really considering letting him fuck Joshua??

“He’ll be gentle,” Wonwoo promises, booping the tip of Joshua’s nose affectionately. “If he isn’t I’ll punch him or something. What do you say? It’ll make the heat go away faster if you have an alpha help,” he urges.

Mingyu can hardly function, half because of the sweet pheromones clouding his senses and half because he’s just so stunned. Joshua has two mates, two alphas already. He knows that it’s a different situation with the omegas, they’re just helping each other out, but him? Another alpha? He doesn’t know if he wants to poke the sleeping tiger that is the oldest omega’s claiming bonds.

But he’ll be damned if he doesn’t think part of him wants to. He’s always been protective of Joshua, partly because the older simply looked so fragile and...protectable, partly because he just felt the need to keep all his friends safe. Not to mention the older was mind-numbingly cute sometimes, making his heart feel fond and warm.

“Hm...that might not be such a bad idea,” Jihoon hums casually, running his eyes over Mingyu’s form, gaze lingering on the noticeable tent in his pants. A smirk curls his lips, but he says nothing else. Seungkwan pulls away from Joshua's hips, nodding thoughtfully in agreement. Jun merely watches Mingyu with calculating eyes, uncharacteristically sharp and piercing. Mingyu supposes it’s only natural; Jun is picky about who he chooses for things and sex would be no exception, especially concerning Joshua. Eventually though, he turns back to Joshua, breath ghosting over his ear and making the older shiver.

“Well? Do you want that, flower? If you don’t, just say so. Do you not want that?”

“No, I…” Joshua begins quickly, but trails off, eyes flicking down to Mingyu’s hips before looking away at the wall. He seems to fight himself on something for a moment, and everyone can feel the tension fill the room, excruciatingly thick.

Then, face flushed, Joshua looks back up at Mingyu and nods just once, tilting his legs a little further apart in a silent invitation and making the alpha’s mouth water at the sight and the sweet smell of green tea and arousal hitting him in the face.

“It’s settled then,” Jihoon hums with a smirk. “We should give him a little show, don’t you think? Get him nice and worked up?”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Jun purrs, looking at Mingyu coquettishly through the corners of his eyes as he starts to thrust his fingers in and out of Joshua’s entrance again, pulling a soft, weak noise from the older.

Mingyu bites his lip at the sound because damn, he didn’t know Joshua was capable of making that kind of noise. He feels his cock twitch at the lewd sight, and his urge to pounce only grows when Seungkwan returns to his place between Joshua’s thighs, forcing another low, throaty moan out of him. It’s a little cut off by Jihoon kissing him, but still noticeable, and all of them simply go back to what they were doing as if Mingyu wasn’t there at all.

But Wonwoo is still looking up at him. He doesn’t seem at all mad or disappointed by Mingyu’s obvious excitement; in fact he’s smirking, head tilted a fraction to the side in the way he does when he’s amused.

“Clothes off, babe,” he purrs in his deep, silky voice, and Mingyu has never been happier to listen. Messily and without any care as to how sexy it may look, he shucks his clothing, cock already hard and twitching. Joshua’s eyes fall onto him and a soft, slightly shocked exhale leaves him, only fueling the fire burning hot in Mingyu’s gut. He almost feels a little ashamed of how bad he wants this, but ignores the thought because Wonwoo is giving him the cute little smile that he wears when he’s pleased with something.

“Now come here,” Wonwoo prompts, still petting Joshua’s hair as though he’s some giant cat. “You’re going to help our little flower here feel better, alright?” Mingyu looks down at Joshua’s glazed-over eyes and prettily flushed face and slender body and thinks that yes, Joshua is indeed like a flower. A most apt description, he thinks, very accurate.

“Gladly,” he breathes, moving forward as though being pulled by some invisible string. Jihoon, Jun, and Seungkwan all move aside smoothly, letting Mingyu crawl over Joshua. It feels a little awkward; Mingyu is hyper-aware of Wonwoo’s presence above him, but also of Joshua’s need below him. Of course he wants to help, but he almost feels a little guilty. He feels a hand in his hair and looks up to find Wonwoo smiling reassuringly at him. He smiles back a little, because if Wonwoo’s there then it must be ok.

Wonwoo’s hand drops to tilt his face up gently, and to his surprise there’s a small hint of worry in his eyes. That in turn makes him mildly alarmed, but he says nothing as Wonwoo leans forward, lips nearly pressing against his ear.

“Be gentle. Very gentle. No degrading and no being too rough, ok? Treat him like the flower he is,” Wonwoo whispers, and his voice is so close that it makes Mingyu shiver a little.

Still, he nods in understanding, because depending on how he was feeling, Wonwoo liked to be fucked gently sometimes too, so he was fine with going slow.

“Alright, I promise,” he hums, turning his head to give his mate a quick kiss. The tiny part of him that isn’t fueled by alpha hormones takes note of the fact that he’s very much naked, surrounded by omegas, one of whom is his mate and another of whom is in heat (and they aren’t even the same person), who are all staring at him, gazes curious and cautious.

Every other part of him is focused completely on Joshua and the way he smells and looks and Mingyu wants desperately to see how the omega will look when he’s incoherent with bliss and writhing under him. He’s certain it will look beautiful.

“Can I kiss you?” he asks hesitantly, because, well, he really wants to. Jihoon looked super into it when he walked in and Joshua has always had infuriatingly nice-looking lips, full and plump and pink.

“Please,” Joshua nods, craning his neck up to meet Mingyu’s lips halfway. As the alpha had expected, Joshua’s lips are soft against his own, and he fights to stop himself from pushing further and nipping his way into the omega’s mouth.

Be gentle, he reminds himself, but it’s hard when Joshua’s heat scent sends his instincts into a frenzy. Not as much as Wonwoo does, but nearly.

He wants to sink his teeth into something, so he pulls away and (as carefully as possible) nibbles along Joshua’s jaw, kissing over the small red marks he makes with his canines. They’re tiny and will probably fade within the hour but they look pretty against Joshua’s flushed skin so he continues. The omega seems to like it anyway, baring his neck submissively. Mingyu is wary of going near his claiming marks, which look bruised and unhealthy to him, but he does nuzzle the hollow of his throat calmingly.

He pauses to take a slow inhale, drawing in the scents. It’s a bit overwhelming, with so many different omega smells hitting his nose at once, but not necessarily unpleasant. Jihoon’s citrus lingers around his face and neck, and Mingyu can smell Seungkwan’s bubblegum further down along with Jun’s cherry blossom. Wonwoo’s vanilla is above him, familiar and sweet, but more than anything he can smell green tea and want. They all mesh together surprisingly well (though it may just be his alpha instincts purring at the amount of omegas around him), and he takes another deep breath, huffing it out against Joshua’s collarbones.

“You smell good,” he says simply, and Joshua makes another soft little noise. “Really nice. I wish there was a way to like, bottle up scents or something.” He’s mostly just talking what he thinks out loud, still teething lightly at the pale skin under him. He feels a tremor run through the omega and hears a soft hiss escape him as he grazes along a sensitive spot, and he continues sucking and nipping at the skin until he’s created a satisfyingly large hickey at the bottom of his throat.

He goes back up to Joshua’s lips, and the omega’s hands find their way to his shoulders, hovering hesitantly as though he doesn’t know what to hold onto. Mingyu pushes himself a little closer in a silent offer and Joshua wraps his arms properly around the alpha’s shoulders, and with that motion he kisses back a little harder, showing Mingyu just how desperate he is. Equally as excited, Mingyu carefully runs his tongue over Joshua’s bottom lip, and there’s only a brief moment of hesitation before the omega parts his lips and lets Mingyu tangle their tongues together. Joshua even tastes sweet.

Without parting their lips, Mingyu starts grinding down on Joshua slowly, and eagerly Joshua bucks his hips against him, causing them both to let out a little groan.

“P-please, Gyu,” Joshua whimpers against his lips in a soft, wrecked voice, and Mingyu can’t help but swear tightly because that tone sends all his blood south.

“Shh, shh, it’s alright, kitten” Wonwoo hums calmingly, petting Joshua’s hair. The other omegas murmur little words of comfort and Mingyu gathers he should do the same.

“Don’t worry, I’m here,” he soothes, kissing Joshua lightly. He feels something tap against his cheek and looks up to see Wonwoo holding out a condom, smirking a little and Mingyu can’t help but blush slightly because how can his mate be so calm? Just to be petty, he grabs it with his teeth, making sure his canines are on display, and gains back a bit of confidence when Wonwoo bites his lower lip appreciatively.

As he rolls the condom on, he’s grateful for Jun’s slender fingers, doing all the work for him so he doesn’t have to waste time prepping the needy flower beneath him because he, for one, is nowhere near patient enough to go through that and he highly doubts Joshua is either.

He gently shushes the whimpers spilling out of Joshua’s mouth, short and soft and high. He lets one hand run up and down the length of his side, almost petting him.

“Shh, it’s ok, flower, don’t worry,” he hums, positioning himself before pausing. “If it hurts or you want me to stop, just say so, ok? I’ll be slow but if you don’t like it, then go ahead ‘n just slap me or something.” His heart melts at the small giggle Joshua lets out, breathless but gratefully amused.

“Ok,” is all the omega says, but his voice is filled with gratitude, and his gaze is a little too fond, a little too loving for Mingyu to let go of.

“Pretty flower,” he murmurs, laying kisses all over Joshua’s neck and chest as he slowly pushes in. He lets out a stuttering breath as he moves, because Joshua’s body is hot and tight around him despite Jun’s fingers working him open and it’s taking a lot of willpower to not instantly start slamming his hips forward. Contrastingly, Joshua’s moan is loud and needy, happy as his body finally gets an alpha’s touch. It’s not his alpha’s, but it’ll do for now.

Carefully, he moves, slow and almost hesitant, keeping an eye on Joshua’s reactions. They only seem to be positive, and once again, Mingyu silently thanks Jun’s fingers for taking a step out of the process. When he has his hips pressed against the backs of Joshua’s thighs, he runs a hand along his stomach, light and gentle.

“Still ok?” he hums, and Joshua wiggles his hips back, making Mingyu hiss faintly.

“Yes, I’m ok,” he gasps out, reaching for Mingyu with a shaky hand. “Keep moving, please.” The alpha happily lets their fingers slot together before he leans down to start kissing him again, rolling his hips at a languid pace. All the little moans and sighs Joshua lets out are muffled by Mingyu’s lips on his and the alpha revels in them, entranced with the omega’s soft, breathy voice so close to his ears. It's a beautiful sound he never thought he would hear but enjoys nonetheless.

“Your voice is so pretty, kitten,” he breathes, and Joshua’s voice hitches, ears pinking before he lets out another low whine. “Sing for us, flower, show us your pretty voice.” He isn’t sure where his words are coming from; he doesn’t really talk a lot when he fucks Wonwoo, but now, they just slip out. Nevertheless, he’s delighted with the almost musical moan Joshua lets out, earning appreciative coos from the other omegas.

Still rolling his hips slow and deep into Joshua’s body, Mingyu looks up, leaning towards Wonwoo to coax him into a kiss. It’s hot and messy but it’s perfect and a new wave of love crashes over Mingyu’s heart for his mate. Something thoughtful rises up in him and he leans back down to kiss Joshua, wanting to transfer some of that love to the omega’s attention-starved soul. He doesn’t know why the urge was so strong, but the older soaks it all up, arms hugging Mingyu’s shoulders and holding himself close.

The alpha’s heart twinges in slight sadness at Joshua’s desperate need for affection and comfort. It isn’t right, he thinks, for someone so loving to not be loved in return. He blinks and firmly decides that he is going to help fill that void.

He pushes out his sea salt scent and Joshua’s reaction is very visible, a happy groan leaving him as he buries his face in Mingyu’s neck, practically licking his throat. His body tightens and Mingyu hisses violently under his breath, dropping his head to rest heavily against the omega’s.

“Fuck,” he breathes, hips jerking into Joshua’s body. “Tight,” he mutters, kissing Joshua as lightly as he can while his body is screaming to go quicker and rougher. The older moans, unabashed, against his mouth, the pair not so much kissing as they are breathing the same air.

He hears a tiny squeak from to his left and glances over to see Jun sitting behind Jihoon with his chin on the younger’s shoulder and a hand slipped down his pants. He looks incredibly calm as Jihoon’s face quickly turns a bright red, and Mingyu can’t help but smirk a little. Typical bold Jun.

Not wanting to be outdone, he tilts his head up to pull Wonwoo into another heavy kiss, and he makes sure to nip at his throat, drinking in his sweet vanilla scent and rubbing his cheek all over his mate’s neck to mix sea salt with the sugary smell.

The scents of the other omegas, though they had been calm and focused before, start to turn aroused, adding to Mingyu’s pheromone-hazed brain. Unthinkingly, he snaps his hips forward with a bit more force than he’d intended, jolting Joshua’s whole body with the movement. Shaking his head, he opens his mouth to apologize and check in but the noise that leaves Joshua’s mouth is utterly sinful, guttural and lewd and Mingyu’s thrusts slow for a second as his brain races to catch up and tries to process the beautiful sound that just hit his ears.

Sensing the sudden slowness, Joshua covers his mouth with a hand, looking mortified, but Wonwoo flicks his palm away.

“That was beautiful, kitten,” the younger omega says, sounding choked. “Don’t cover it up, your voice is amazing…”

“Holy fuck,” is all Mingyu can manage, staring down at Joshua with stunned surprise written all over his face. He wants to hear Wonwoo make that kind of noise and makes a mental note to try to coax one out next time. “Holy fuck that was hot, kitten” he breathes, leaning down to kiss the living daylights out of the omega beneath him. “Can I- can I be a little rougher? Not too much, I promise,” he asks eagerly, pulling away to look into Joshua’s honey brown eyes.

The omega hesitates, mouth open to speak but no words coming out. Then he nods, putting his face back in Mingyu’s neck.

“Not too hard,” he hears Joshua whisper, and he nods.

“Of course, flower.” With a quick kiss to the older’s cheek he picks up his pace again, basking in all the sounds Joshua makes. The other omegas fill the gaps between his moans with lots of little compliments, and their words only seem to make him more desperate.

“Fuck, you’re amazing, kitten,” Mingyu forces out shakily, head dropping to rest against against Joshua’s. The older keened loudly at the praise, body twitching and writhing under him.

“Such a pretty voice,” Wonwoo adds softly, head tilted fondly.

“So pretty, so lovely, you’re beautiful, flower,” Jun purrs, and a choked sound leaves Joshua’s throat.

“Kind and sweet and thoughtful and deserving of only the best,” Seungkwan hums, sounding oddly affectionate.

“Fuck- ah! Fucking perfect,” Jihoon adds, trying to keep his voice steady as Jun’s hand continues teasingly stroking over his cock.

A soft, stifled sort of cry makes Mingyu start to freak out but Joshua cups his face and kisses him hard. He only becomes further alarmed when the omega actually lets out a small sob, and he pulls away when he feels the older’s tears wet his cheeks, but Joshua doesn’t let him go that easily, clinging to him and pressing his forehead to the alpha’s shoulder. His body is shaking from a mix of pleasure and tears, and his scent floods with emotion. Not necessarily bad ones though.

“Flower? Are you alright?” A little stunned, Mingyu slows to a stop, and Joshua whines.

“I’m- I’m alright, I’m fine, keep moving,” the older begs, voice weak but insistent. “Please, Gyu,” he whines, nearly a whisper. Shaking his head to clear his mind, Mingyu nods, pressing a loving kiss to Joshua’s soft lips before once again starting his steady pace. The omega holds himself close, crying a little and taking deep, shaky breaths of the scents surrounding him and feeling more loved than he had in almost a month.

“It’s alright, flower, it’s alright. I’m here. Jihoon’s here, Jun’s here, Wonu’s here, Kwannie’s here,” Mingyu murmurs reassuringly. “Don’t cry, kitten, it’s ok. You’re ok. Nothing can hurt you.” He cradles the older close as his voice reaches a wail, pleasure mixed with love and no small amount of emotional confusion. Mingyu and the other omegas whisper a non-stop stream of comforting words and little compliments, focused completely on their flower. They hate how badly Jeonghan and Seungcheol have broken him (however unintentionally it may have been), but they’re determined to piece him back together. When Joshua’s voice cracks with a weak moan, Mingyu presses a delicate kiss to his chest, right over his heart.

“Are you close, flower? It’s alright, go ahead. You’ll look so pretty, so gorgeous, I know you will. You always have,” Mingyu breathes, letting the words flow out of his heart. Joshua blinks at him, almost disbelieving, but he closes his eyes again, connecting his and Mingyu’s lips with a surprising calmness around him.

He gasps quietly as Mingyu angles himself just right, and with another wanton moan he throws his head back. The alpha wastes no time in creating several hickeys on the exposed skin, leaving his own temporary mark.

“Come on, cum for us baby,” he urges in a husky voice, and like that Joshua is gone, a rough cry ripping from deep in his chest as his body tightens and jerks, spilling his cum all over his own chest and stomach and increasing the sweet tea smell in the air. His back arches beautifully and for a second all of them are quite taken with the angelic sight. At nearly the same time, Jihoon muffles his moans by turning to kiss Jun roughly, shuddering through his own orgasm.

Joshua’s tight heat constricting and pulsing around him is the last straw for Mingyu, who lets his head thump onto Joshua’s chest with a low grunt as he cums as well.

For several moments, there’s only the sounds of Joshua, Mingyu, and Jihoon’s heavy breathing, until Jihoon makes a noise.

“Junnie, quit it,” he says weakly, tugging Jun’s hand away from his cock. Jun giggles a little, kissing Jihoon’s cheek with a cooed “cute”.

“You still ok?” Mingyu pants, nuzzling the curve of Joshua’s neck. When he gets no response, he looks up, worried, but his chest grows warm with the look Joshua is giving him, grateful and blissed-out and...dare he think about it, loving?

“Thank you, Gyu,” Joshua murmurs, pulling the alpha in for another slow kiss, just lips against lips. Mingyu is happy to hold himself there, kissing back gently because Joshua deserves it. He deserves to be loved and showered with affection and praise, not neglected.

”Not a problem,” he smiles once he pulls away, resting his forehead against the older’s. For a second, they simply rest there, basking in the glow and not saying anything. Wonwoo keeps petting Joshua’s hair back, smiling a little to himself. He can’t help it; he’s fond of the kitten in his lap and the puppy he’s mates with.

“Do you wanna go take a bath, flower? Would that be nice?” Wonwoo offers, and Joshua’s eyes light up as he nods. Mingyu chuckles as he pulls away, drawing a soft little noise from the older omega at the feeling.

“Let’s go get you cleaned up,” he hums, but before he can do anything Jun sweeps Joshua up, looking excited.

“I wanna take a bath with Shua!” he trills, nuzzling the older happily. Joshua huffs out a surprised laugh, looping his arms around Jun’s neck. Bemused but also pleased, Mingyu lets Jun whisk him away, instead crawling up to kiss Wonwoo.

“I’m not jealous or anything, don’t worry,” Wonwoo hums against his lips, and Mingyu smirks.

“Not even a little bit?” he pushes, and Wonwoo rolls his eyes.

“Ok, maybe a little. But not too much. Don’t let that go to your ego.”

“Whatever you say, babe,” Mingyu chuckles, leaving a light nip over his mate’s pulse point.

“You’re disgusting, you two,” Seungkwan huffs loudly beside them. Go get cleaned up!”

“You say that like you aren’t all over Hansol all the time,” Mingyu pouts reproachfully. Seungkwan just huffs again and reluctantly, the alpha leaves one last kiss to Wonwoo’s cheek before following Jun and Joshua. Wonwoo follows him with his eyes until the door closes, then he flicks a glance to Seungkwan, who looks back at him, a glint in his eyes.

“Now that they’re gone, want me to help?” the younger offers, shuffling closer to Wonwoo, who, at that point, is still painfully hard.

“Be my guest, Kwan,” he chuckles, popping the button on his jeans and making a mental note not to tell Hansol about any of this. Jihoon snorts from beside them, rolling his eyes. “Let me in too; I wanna hear Wonwoo moan.”

Chapter Text

Jun ran the bath water while Mingyu and Joshua cleaned each other off, huddling close in the spray of warm water. Strangely, it didn’t feel at all awkward to the alpha to run his hands lightly over Joshua’s body, wiping away the mess on his skin and admiring the hickeys he’d made. His instincts were still purring at having gotten an omega in heat to make into a mess, but his protective inclinations were trickling back in the form of tender, attentive care.

Joshua seems, at least for the moment, satiated, his heat no longer screaming to be taken care of. Mostly, he just looks kind of sleepy, leaning against Mingyu.

“Can I kiss you again?” the alpha whispers, because Joshua is really unfairly cute and he’s becoming attached to the feeling of soft lips against his own. It’s different from Wonwoo’s casual sweetness but not worse. To his delight, the omega nods sleepily, tilting his head up to let Mingyu kiss him. It’s innocent and short but Mingyu enjoys it because it’s so representative of the older’s gentle, docile nature. It’s a very Joshua-like action, he thinks, and that’s good. The more Joshua is able to be himself again, the better.

“Don’t fall asleep,” he chuckles, because Joshua’s body is starting to lean more into him, and not to deepen the kiss. With a little noise of surprise, Joshua jolts upright, rubbing his eyes and mumbling a tired apology that has Mingyu’s heart melting right there and then.

“You’re so cute,” he coos, wrapping his arms around the older and smooching the top of his head because goddamn it he can’t help himself. “Adorable little flower~” Joshua chuckles softly and Mingyu can’t help but squeal a little.

“Bath’s ready,” Jun hums from outside the shower, and Mingyu, incredibly reluctantly, lets Joshua go and turns off the water.

Hastily, they step out, Mingyu toweling himself dry as fast as possible so he doesn’t have to stand in the cold. He hands Joshua off to Jun, who nuzzles the lightly shivering omega before urging him to get into the hot water.

“Don’t fall asleep,” he coos to a very-tired looking Joshua, who only hums in response. But he manages to snag Mingyu’s fingers before he leaves, kissing the back of his hand.

“Thanks, Gyu,” he says softly, and Mingyu smiles a little, ruffling Joshua’s hair affectionately.

“Mm. I’m always here if you need me, flower,” he reminds, and the look Joshua gives him makes him feel weak. God, he’s going to snuggle Wonwoo so hard when this is all over. Jun hums a thank you as well and he decides that patting the top of Jun’s head is a good idea. He confirms that thought when Jun smiles brightly, pushing his head up into Mingyu’s hand.

When he has all his clothes on again, he bids them a goodbye, and slips out into the hall, where he immediately sighs and let his head thump back against the door. When he stops to think about it, he really just had (frankly amazing) sex with one of his best friends, who was the mate of two of his other best friends, and had seen him at his most vulnerable, stripped bare and not just in a superficial way. Joshua’s tears tore at his heart but his little smiles and soft giggles healed it just as much.

He huffs out a slightly disbelieving laugh, mostly directed at himself. Running a hand through his damp hair, he pushes himself away from the door and down the stairs. When this is all over, he’s going to have a nice long chat with Wonwoo about what Joshua is to them now, because he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to let go of those soft, loving brown eyes.

Chapter Text

Jun chuckles as Joshua’s head droops against his chest for the fifth time, and when Joshua doesn’t jolt back up again immediately, he shakes his head, fond exasperation filling his chest.

“Can I get in too, flower? You’re going to fall asleep and drown if I don’t hold you up.” His fingers are already unbuttoning his shirt by the time Joshua regains awareness long enough to nod a couple times.

“Sleepy flower,” he coos, stripping the rest of his clothing and slipping in behind Joshua. He pulls the older against his chest, setting his chin on the other’s shoulder and looping his arms securely around his waist. He looks down at Joshua’s body, limp and pliant between his legs, and appreciates the slender grace that the older always seems to possess no matter what situation he’s in. Silently, he shows his appreciation by showering Joshua’s neck with light kisses, and Joshua tilts his head to the side with a low hum, exposing more skin for Jun to lavish with attention. However, it also exposes the claiming bite just below his right ear.

It looks...painful. Red and irritated and fresh as though Jeonghan or Seungcheol had just bitten him. A flare of protective possessiveness rises up in him and before he can stop himself, he lays a kiss right over the old scars.

He feels Joshua stiffen in his arms, and he pulls back with a murmured apology, but Joshua only tilts his head further to the side, too sleepy to talk. A little surprised, Jun takes a guess and presses another hesitant kiss to Joshua’s claiming mark, and the older shivers a little in his arms. He doesn’t snap for Jun to stop though, so the younger continues.

When he bites down ever-so-gently, a soft gasp leaves Joshua’s mouth, and Jun pauses again.

“Not good?” he murmurs, but Joshua shakes his head.

“N-no, it’s ok,” he mumbles, tiredness hindering his voice. “It doesn’t hurt. Makes it hurt less, actually…”

Jun is more than happy to alleviate Joshua’s pain, especially if he gets to kiss as much pale, exposed skin as he wants. So he returns to lightly kissing and nibbling along Joshua’s throat, teething when he finds a sensitive spot that makes Joshua shiver. He avoids biting near his claiming marks again, but if it makes Joshua hurt less then he’s willing to hesitantly lay kisses there.

He looks anxiously at the claiming scars, debating with himself. It’s a stark reminder that Joshua is very very taken at the moment. But it’s also a reminder of the pain the older omega had to endure and he doesn’t like that. So, he shrugs mentally and nips at the flushed skin, digging his teeth in just a little.

A soft noise makes its way out of Joshua’s mouth, along with another little shiver. Pleased, Jun continues nipping at the marks, daring to bite a little harder than before and Joshua’s back arches away from his chest momentarily as he whimpers. One hand staying firmly wrapped around the older’s waist, Jun lets his other hand run along Joshua’s body, down his side and thigh, then back up to his chest. The gentle actions seems to make the older sleepier, and he droops against Jun again, relaxing into his touch and closing his eyes.

He opens his eyes again lazily when Jun’s hand drops lower, wrapping loosely around the base of his half-hard cock and squeezing lightly. A happy hum purrs from his chest and spurs Jun on.

“You think you can handle one more time, flower? I bet you’ll sleep really well after,” Jun chuckles, kissing the bottom of his jaw.

“Yeah, go ahead,” Joshua mumbles, head dropping back to rest against Jun’s shoulder. Slowly, Jun continues mouthing over Joshua’s claiming marks, keeping his lips attached to his pulse point. He can feel Joshua’s heartbeat flutter under his lips, especially when he moves his hand. He keeps it slow, wanting the older to get sleepy and relaxed. Also to not slosh the water around too much.

“Y’know, you’re really pretty, flower, and I’m not just saying that. You really are,” Jun murmurs, setting his chin on Joshua’s shoulder. The older flicks him a look, searching, and Jun stares right back, hoping his gaze is as earnest as he wants.

“You too,” Joshua says eventually, turning his head further to accept a kiss. Jun smiles and he feels Joshua smile back, though the older moans softly against his lips when Jun’s hand goes lower, teasing and pressing at his entrance and making his breath hitch. He pulls his head away to watch, a sort of stunned interest on his face. Jun silently thanks whatever deity gave him long, slender fingers as he pushes his index in; the older is still loose and relaxed from earlier and the warm water makes the slide-in easy.

Joshua can’t tear his eyes away as Jun thrusts his finger slowly in and out of him, mouth slightly agape and an almost awed look on his face, as though he can’t believe how his own body is reacting: trembling a little and flushing red and pressing into Jun’s touch. With a low groan, he closes his eyes and lets his head fall back onto the younger’s shoulder, hands fluttering for something to hold. With his free hand, Jun offers the older something to grab onto, and he felt Joshua’s fingers squeeze his as he brushed against a sensitive spot.

“Shh, relax, flower, don’t get too worked up,” he hums against Joshua’s neck, and the other omega huffs weakly.

“Your- ah- nn...your fingers feel so good though- ah!” He lets out a feeble cry as Jun wiggles a second finger in, biting his lip to try and quiet himself. The younger just chuckles a little, admiring the way Joshua’s thighs strain and shake from the stimulation.

“So beautiful,” he murmurs, and at the same time he pushes a third finger in, he bites down lightly on the still-exposed claiming mark. A strangled sort of noise is ripped from Joshua’s throat, and more similar sounds keep coming, the older omega too tired and sleepy to try and hide them.

He keeps his movements slow, not wanting to ruin the adorably drowsy aura around the older omega. He wants Joshua to relax and feel good, wants him to feel satisfied and happy and loved. He wants to take care of Joshua, even though he isn’t an alpha. At that point, he doesn’t even care. All he cares about is how Joshua is reacting, body arching in his arms, undulating gracefully. He’s beautiful, Jun thinks. Slender and graceful and willowy like Minghao, but not as fiery, more like a smouldering coal that keeps them all warm with its gentle glow.

He whispers sweet nothings in Joshua’s ear as he pushes further with his fingers, searching, and when Joshua’s body tightens and a low, happy moan spills from his lips, he smirks. In the safety of his mother tongue, he murmurs loving words to the older, lips against his fluttering pulse.

You’re so beautiful, flower, so pretty, so perfect. You’re so kind and sweet and thoughtful and you give your whole heart into things and to the people you love and it makes me happy to see you happy. I hate it when you’re sad, and I’ll do anything to make sure you’re ok. I wish I had you, flower, you’re everything. You’re so amazing and you deserve the world.

Joshua’s voice hitches at his words, and for a second Jun worries that Joshua somehow understood all that, but a muted whine slips out of his throat, and Jun smiles a little, pressing at the spot his fingers had just brushed over and pulling another similar sound from the older.

“Jun,” Joshua moans weakly, and the younger can’t help but let out a harsh breath himself at the sound of his name being said in such a needy way.

“Yes, flower?” he grits out, attaching his lips to Joshua’s claiming mark.

“I’m so close,” he whispers, voice soft and wrecked. Jun practically purrs, other hand reaching down to pump his cock in time with his fingers, and Joshua’s next moan is high and strained.

“Fuck- Junnie- oh fuck I’m gonna cum,” he pants, eyes squeezing shut as he bucks his hips up, frantic for release.

“Good,” Jun says simply, thrusting his fingers right against the older’s prostate and giving one last quick stroke over the head of his cock with his thumb until Joshua lets out a broken noise of bliss, jerking and shaking as cum spills from his cock, dirtying the water a little but neither of them really care.

Jun shushes Joshua’s whines gently, still stroking slowly. He pulls his fingers out and rubs the back of Joshua’s thigh comfortingly, murmuring praise. Basking in the post-coital glow, Joshua says little, dragging air into his lungs; his eyes are still shut and lips parted, chest shaking as he breathes heavily.

Jun thinks, not for the first time, that Joshua must not be real for how beautiful he is.

“Pretty flower,” he purrs, and Joshua huffs out a soft laugh, turning his head to capture Jun’s lips again.

“You’re pretty too, Junnie,” he murmurs, and Jun feels his system light up at the words. “You should be a model.”

“Aww, you too! We should model together, you and me and Hao. He looks good in anything.” He notes the way Joshua nods when he mentions Minghao, and how his eyes glaze over a little in thought as he imagines it. “I bet he’d be happy to bring you with him,” he continues (because Minghao is actually a model; his boyfriend is so pretty), and he loves the small smile growing over Joshua’s face.

“Mm. I’d...I’d like that. I think that would be fun,” he hums thoughtfully, and Jun hugs his torso tightly.

“You’d be perfect for it. You are perfect.” The words slip out unintentionally but he doesn’t take them back. He’s wary when Joshua freezes in his arms, but after a moment or two of tense silence, he relaxes again, settling himself in Jun’s embrace more comfortably. The younger can sense the sleepy contentedness starting to fill the air, and he hums happily, nuzzling Joshua’s neck and kissing over the faint bites he and Mingyu left.

“Come on, flower, let’s get out. Then we can sleep, ok?” The water is starting to feel lukewarm and as comfy as Jun is, he’d rather fall asleep in a bed than a bathtub. When he gets up, Joshua’s form is like a rag doll’s: easy for Jun to position how he wants to pick him up and completely relaxed, nearly asleep as Jun hefts him out of the water and onto the edge of the tub, where he sits, slightly unsteady because of his increasing drowsiness. Chuckling, Jun flops a towel over Joshua’s head, ruffling his hair with it before grabbing another towel for himself.

“Dry off, flower, I know you’re tired, but you’re gonna get cold.” Indeed, after those words, Joshua shivers and quickly starts wiping the water from his body. Jun admires the way the droplets make their way slowly down his neck, glinting in the lights. He blinks to refocus and quickly dries off. After he pulls on boxers and his hoodie, he helps Joshua into his own clothes again, because the sleepy omega is much too out of it to orient himself properly.

“Come on, flower, don’t make this harder,” he giggles, the older’s floppy limbs not helping his situation.

“Tired,” Joshua yawns, looping his arms around Jun’s neck once the younger successfully pulls an oversized shirt over his head.

“I know, Shua, you’ll be able to rest soon,” he soothes, kissing Joshua lightly before sweeping the slender omega into his arms. It’s a little too easy and he makes a mental note to make sure Joshua eats enough every day. Cradling the older’s slight frame against his chest, he shoulders open the door to his room to see Wonwoo carding his hands through Seungkwan’s hair, looking satisfied and about to doze off. Seungkwan seems to be asleep already, nestled up to Wonwoo’s side. Jihoon is sitting cross-legged next to them, fiddling with his phone and looking indecisive.

“Scooch,” Jun huffs, waiting for Wonwoo to delicately rouse Seungkwan so they can move over. Jihoon simply shuffles aside and Jun deposits Joshua in the middle of the bed, where Wonwoo curls around him and Seungkwan simply falls back asleep again. Jihoon and Jun sit up on his other side, Jun running his hands through Joshua’s hair and Jihoon rubbing circles on his bare hip, fingers just barely teasing under the hem of his shirt in a somewhat unconscious way.

“Sleepy flower,” Wonwoo coos fondly into Joshua’s hair, wrapping an arm around his torso. Joshua turns over in his arms to kiss him, honey brown eyes barely open. He falls asleep like that, lips pressed against Wonwoo’s, partly agape.

“Hey guys?” Wonwoo whispers after a few minutes of silence, quietly for fear of disturbing the kitten in his arms.

“...Me too,” Jihoon sighs softly, not needing the older to finish his sentence. Jun hums agreement, and looking slightly guilty, Wonwoo leaves another kiss on Joshua’s soft lips.

Jihoon stares down at his phone. He had been debating whether or not to contact Jeonghan and Seungcheol and tell them the whole situation, but he wasn’t sure if a text could properly explain the magnitude of what had happened. Plus, part of him is still angry, bitter that Joshua had gone through so much without help. Part of him wants to be spiteful and withhold everything, let the two alphas suffer from the guilt. Part of him wants them to feel bad, simply because Joshua was hurting.

But the reasonable part of him knows that isn’t a good idea. As protectively angry as he is, he knows he needs to take responsibility. If the two alphas at least knew some of what was going on, they might be better able to handle it when they came home.

So, sighing, he grabs his phone up from the sheets.

“I’m gonna tell them,” is all he says. Jun and Wonwoo give him wide eyes, but he shakes his head. “Not the whole thing, that’ll take way too long, but just…tell them they’re in trouble.” Wonwoo snorts derisively at that.

“An understatement. But…” His face softens, “yeah, tell them. As fucked up as this whole thing is, I think they deserve to know if their mate isn’t doing well.” Part of Jihoon still thinks that no, they don’t deserve to, they don’t deserve Joshua at all, but he nods, pulling up a private chat with the two alphas.

Chapter Text

Jihoon, Jeonghan, Seungcheol (3)

 

8:34 PM

Jihoon:

You two are in a lot of trouble when you get home.

Joshua isn’t ok

Ok so you know how you two are always away from Joshua for a long time well guess what now he’s kind of

Godfuckingdammit how do I explain this

I hate you two sometimes with a burning passion

Y’all need to fucking fix all this or I am going to personally castrate you

Or I’m just going to not let you have Shua back

At this point you don’t even deserve him

We need to talk.

 

9:02 PM

Jeonghan:

Sorry we were at a thing

What’s up?

 

9:02 PM

Jihoon:

Joshua is what’s up you two fuckers are in so much trouble

It’s about Joshua.

 

9:03 PM

Seungcheol:

???

Is he ok???

 

9:06 PM

Jihoon:

No, he’s not. He’s really not. You two have spent too much time away from him and it’s put too much of a strain on his body. The separation is physically hurting him. He went into a stress heat a week early because he was so fucking upset. We took care of him, don’t worry, he’s fine, but you two are not our favorite people right now. You really need to work to make all this right.

 

9:16 PM

Jeonghan:

Who is we?

 

9:17 PM

Jihoon:

Literally everyone. Me and Wonwoo and Jun and Seungkwan are with him right now and the others are downstairs.

 

9:18 PM

Jihoon:

Alright, listen, I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad. I can already practically feel your guilt. I’m telling you this so you can think of something to do. This is your mess and you guys need to fix it. As mad as I am, I love you guys and I don’t wanna see this whole thing end in ruins. You need to take responsibility and make things right again. I hope you know that.

 

9:20 PM

Jihoon:

And one more thing:

If this ever happens again

If I ever find Joshua crying and in pain because of you two ever again

If we ever have to make him feel loved and happy because you two don’t

Then we are not letting you have him back.

Because I, for one, am more than happy to take care of him if you two can’t, and I know for a fact that most of the rest of us feel the same.

So if you want to keep the privilege of loving him and calling him your mate

Try not to fuck up more than you already have.

 

9:25 PM

Jihoon:

Please, for his sake, don’t let this happen again.

 


 

Jihoon lets out a long sigh, setting his phone face down once he sees the two alphas had read his text.

“How’d they take it?” Jun mumbles sleepily next to him, threading one of his hands with the smaller omega’s.

“They didn’t respond. I think they’re in shock or something.” He leans against Jun, feeling oddly drained.

“You weren’t too mean, were you?” Jun blinks wide, dark eyes at him, a little hesitant, a little worried. Jihoon just sighs again, rubbing his eyes.

“Not more than usual. Ok, maybe I was a little stern, but I couldn’t help myself. They need to know what they did and that they need to fix it. I...may or may not have told them that if they didn’t, we wouldn’t let them have Shua back.”

“I was debating on doing that even if they didn’t manage to make things right,” Jun chuckles, making Jihoon snort and Wonwoo grin. But their smiles soon fall back into worried lines.

“I almost don’t wanna see how this ends,” Jihoon murmurs softly. The other two nod sadly, not saying anything. Jun wraps an arm comfortingly around Jihoon’s shoulders, holding him close.

“It’ll be ok,” he hums, but he half doesn’t believe himself and he can smell the doubt start to rise from Jihoon and Wonwoo. “I hope it will, anyway.”

“You aren’t the only one,” Wonwoo sighs, closing his eyes and holding Joshua as close as he can. More than anything at the moment, he just wants Joshua to be ok.

Chapter Text

The first thing that greets Mingyu when he walks down the stairs is Soonyoung getting all up in his space, a skeptical look in the other alpha's eyes. The older gives him a suspicious sniff and his slanted eyes narrow further.

“...Took you long enough. We had enough time to go out and get food by the time you came down.” There’s slightly amused accusation in his voice and Mingyu hastily moves away, mouth opening to protest.

“Don’t bother hiding it, we all heard him,” Hansol groans into the table. Chan pats his back and Mingyu shuts his mouth again. “How is he so loud? I’ve never heard him...make that kind of noise before. Heck, I’ve never heard him even raise his voice before at all.” 

“Well, now you have,” Minghao says simply, not looking very bothered. “If you start gloating, Mingyu, then I’m going to punch you.”

“Wh-what? Why would I gloat-??” He can feel the heat creeping up his cheeks and he is certain that he’s blushing hard. “All I did was help-”

“Yeah, helped,” Seokmin snorts. “Sure.” Mingyu sputters and glares at him, but the beta just smiles right back.

“Shut up,” he whines, throwing himself into a chair. “Did you bring food?” Seokmin rolls his eyes, but shoves a box of cheap noodles at him, which he digs into eagerly.

“You smell like five different omegas, it’s weird,” Chan comments, frowning a little as he leans towards the tall alpha. Looking slightly confused, he tries to sort through the pleasing scent of a heat lingering on Mingyu’s skin, combined with other sweet smells. Mingyu shivers when Chan's nose pokes at his neck, and with a vaguely annoyed noise, he pushes the younger's head away.

“Yeah, well, I wonder why,” Mingyu says sarcastically, raising an eyebrow. Chan just huffs at him, moving a little closer to take one last slow, deep inhale.

Mingyu becomes very alarmed when Minghao leans towards him, chin on his laced fingers and a knowing smirk decorating his face.

“...I don’t like that look, why are you smirking at me like that-”

“So,” Minghao says over him. “Care to share? I’d like to know what you did to get him to scream like that~”

Mingyu nearly chokes on his noodles. He lets out a hoarse, judgemental shriek of “MINGHAO!”, coughing as Chan thumps his back. “Why did you say that?!” The beta merely shrugs, looking casually curious.

“Not. Necessary,” Hansol hisses into the table, and Mingyu points approvingly at him, looking disapprovingly at Minghao. The older beta just shrugs again.

“Ok, ok, all that aside, is he alright? I imagine having an alpha to take care of him would make him feel better, right?” The smirk on his face is replaced with something more concerned, and Mingyu nods slowly. That question, he can deal with.

“Yeah, he’s fine. He’s taking a bath with Jun right now-” A faint moan reaches their ears from upstairs, and Mingyu winces, “-who is apparently probably finger-fucking him. Again. But I think he’ll be ok.” Hansol clamps his hands over his ears, which are pinking at the tips, and Mingyu worries that Hansol will be the not-ok one at the end of all this. He pats the back of the beta’s head.

“That’s good,” Seokmin says softly, nodding. Mingyu nods absently as well, trying to ignore the strained whines coming from upstairs. To distract himself, he continues eating, feeling relaxed.

He freezes as his brain decides to bring up the memory of Joshua crying, tears spilling from his unfairly perfectly-shaped eyes as he moaned and fell apart beneath the alpha. It was both beautiful and sad (he felt kind of bad for acknowledging how pretty the sight was, but he couldn’t lie to himself), something that made him both want to admire the older forever and hold him close, whisper comforting words into his ear until his heart was whole again.

He blinks away the sight of the angelic figure from behind his eyes, shaking his head a little. Minghao gives him a look but says nothing.

Mingyu sincerely hopes that Joshua will be ok.

Chapter Text

By the next morning, Joshua’s heat scent has worn off significantly, and his body temperature seems fairly normal. He eats a little more than before, which makes Jun and Mingyu incredibly happy, and agrees on going downstairs to cuddle and watch a movie. The moment he steps into the living room, he basks in the smells decorating the area; the scenting the others had done makes him feel relaxed and at home, not at all like the old, stale scents when his alphas had left.

At the moment, none of them care at all that they have jobs (or in Chan’s case, exams); Joshua is much more important, so they all stay, happy to smush themselves onto chairs and cuddle close together. Joshua ends up sitting in Mingyu’s lap, legs thrown over Hansol’s. On Mingyu’s other side, Minghao pets his hair, the action oddly natural to the beta and appreciated much by the omega.

“What’d you wanna watch?” Chan hums from in front of the TV, tossing the remote back and forth in his hands.

“Anything’s good,” Joshua mumbles, tilting his head further into Minghao’s gentle petting. Chan shrugs, picking some old action movie he insists is cool, much to Seungkwan and Soonyoung’s disapproval. They end up engrossed anyway, making Chan very smug from his spot on the floor in front of the couch.

Hansol gets distracted with lightly petting and massaging Joshua’s thighs, and ends up spending more time staring at the omega’s legs than watching the movie. None of them blame him. Joshua even shifts to make it easier, happy with the attention. Seungkwan doesn’t seem at all bothered, sitting on Hansol’s other side, he’s just snuggled into his boyfriend’s side, one arm linked with his and eyes fixed on the screen.

Jihoon, sitting in Soonyoung’s lap, lets his mate cover the back of his neck in kisses and scent him repeatedly, though once the older bites him he flicks his thigh warningly.

His phone buzzes, distracting him from Soonyoung’s lips on his neck, and ignoring Minghao’s glare, he pulls it out of his pocket to see a text from Jeonghan.

“We’re coming back”, it reads. Jihoon scowls, shoving his phone back into his pocket and leaning back against his mate. Soonyoung wraps his arms around the omega’s waist, humming curiously, but Jihoon shakes his head. He’ll explain later. Soonyoung raises an eyebrow, but goes back to hugging him.

 


 

“Ok, fair warning, you’re gonna feel a lot worse pretty soon,” Wonwoo hums carefully, carding his hands through Joshua’s hair. “Stress heats have a tendency to have a second wind. Usually worse than the beginning. It’s gonna hurt, flower, and I’m sorry for that, but we’ll take care of you. Also, once it fades, then it’s done. It’s gone and you don’t have to go through that anymore until your regular heat. Got that?”

Joshua nods, leaning into Wonwoo’s touch. His body had been feeling a little warmer than usual, even though he’d felt fine that morning. Currently, he was nibbling on a slice of cheese, sitting cross-legged in a swivel chair.

“When that happens we should get the betas to cuddle with you; their scents will help calm you down,” Jihoon puts in. Seokmin, sitting nearby, looks up at his words.

“I can do that,” he says quickly, eagerness in his voice. Seungkwan and Jun giggle a little at his enthusiasm. “Actually, why wait?” He bounces up out of his seat, forcing Joshua to scooch over a little on his chair and then wrapping his arms around the older. Laughing softly, Joshua leans his head on the beta’s shoulder, looking content.

“You smell nice,” Joshua murmurs, putting his nose in Seokmin’s neck and breathing in the clean smell of cedar. Seokmin shivers a little, but smiles.

“You do too. Green tea is nice.” Joshua smiles back, relaxing into the beta’s side. The other omegas exchange a happy look. Jihoon had shown all of them par Joshua the text and though initially, they’d been wary, they knew the two alphas wouldn’t be able to get back until the next day, so they were determined to make Joshua feel as loved as possible before then. Just in case.

“How do you feel now, flower?” Minghao hums, slinking over and resting on the back of the chair. “Still ok?” He ruffles Joshua’s hair gently, and the older presses up into the touch.

“‘M good,” he mumbles, sounding a little sleepy.

“That’s good, kitten” Minghao chuckles, letting his cinnamon scent flow out. Joshua reaches for him and the beta let his hand dangle down to hold the older’s, smiling softly. “I wish we could keep you,” he sighs wistfully, leaning on the chair. He blinks once he feels Joshua freeze, and anxiously he tries to reel back his words, but Joshua just holds his hand tighter.

“You still have me, I’m not going anywhere,” he chuckles gently, and Minghao lets out an inward breath of relief.

“You better not,” he smiles, going back to petting the older’s hair. Joshua grins up at him, eyes curving into little happy crescents.

“Your eyes are unfairly pretty,” Seokmin pouts, poking Joshua’s cheek. “They’re like...sideways question marks and they make little curves when you smile; it’s so cute.”

“Uh...thanks, I guess?” Joshua lets out a small, slightly confused chuckle, closing his eyes to let Seokmin dot his face with kisses. He basks in the affection for a while, before hesitantly cupping the beta’s face to kiss him properly. It makes Seokmin pause, but only for a split-second before he smiles one of his brightest smiles and happily kisses back.

“No fair,” Chan whines, appearing suddenly and draping himself over Seokmin, making the beta wheeze indignantly under his weight.

“Aw, don’t worry, I have more kisses,” Joshua coos, tugging at the hem of Chan’s sleeve to pull him closer. As Chan is the youngest of their group of friends, he keeps the kiss light and sweet, though Chan pushes with surprising fervor. He ends up making a soft noise against the younger’s lips, though Seokmin violently shoving Chan off of him forces them to separate.

“God, not on top of me!” he shrieks, miffed. Chan just smirks at him while Joshua goes a little red.

“Bold Channie,” Wonwoo chuckles. Chan smirks at him too.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, pup,” Mingyu snorts, walking in from the kitchen and tapping the younger alpha’s head with a chopstick.

“Don’t gloat,” Chan huffs, pouting a little. “Don’t brag just because you got to fu- OW!”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” Minghao warns, pulling his hand away from where he had aggressively whacked the top of Chan’s head. “Ignore him, flower,” he coos to Joshua, who at that point is flushed a pretty pink. They all coo over him for a moment, Seokmin pressing another couple kisses to his cheek, before the oldest omega finally buries his face in his hands in embarrassment.

“We’re back!” Hansol suddenly calls from the front door, Seungkwan and Jun making noises of greeting with him. They had been out for a while, catching up on jobs and running little errands.

“Sollie, get over here,” Minghao huffs, and, looking curious, the beta pokes his head into the living room.

“You’re the only one who hasn’t kissed Shua yet, so it’s your turn,” he smiles, and Hansol’s ears pink at the tips as they always do when he gets embarrassed. Minghao had kissed him that morning, and Soonyoung had at the end of the movie.

“I- what- huh??” Flustered, he waves his hands around, not looking at Joshua.

“You don’t have to,” Joshua says quickly, though he looks slightly crestfallen.

“No, I want to- I mean-” Voice trailing off to an uncertain whine, he glances at Seungkwan, who rolled his eyes.

“His lips are so soft. Just go do it,” he commands, shoving Hansol towards the older omega. “I won’t get mad. You’ll enjoy it,” he urges, and, red-faced, Hansol hesitantly walks towards Joshua.

“Quit watching, that’s weird,” he whines at everyone else, and they only chuckle at his shyness.

“No it’s not, look-” Seokmin grabs Joshua’s face gently, pressing his lips to the older’s. Joshua smiles a little into the kiss, looking happy. “See? Just do it!”

“You don’t have to,” Joshua says again quietly, but Hansol shakes his head.

“No, I just…” His words trail off as Joshua reaches to hold onto the collar of his jacket and tug him down, and before he can pull back his lips are pressed to the older omega’s. Seungkwan’s right, he thinks, admiring the softness of the older’s lips against his. It’s different from Seungkwan’s kissing, much shyer and more hesitant, but still enjoyable. He closes his eyes, pushing back a little more, and is rewarded with a smile against his lips. It’s nice, kissing Joshua, and he finds he doesn’t mind the fact that half of the others are watching.

“Huh,” is all he can say when he pulls away, still somewhat stunned.

“Hot,” Minghao snickers, holding up his phone. Both Hansol and Joshua flush, pulling apart quickly.

“Did you- did you record that?!” the beta whines, snatching for Minghao’s phone. The other beta dances out of his reach, cackling.

“I’m keeping that! That was perfect!”

“Noooo, delete it,” Hansol whines, chasing Minghao around the room in vain; Minghao is faster and more agile than him and he ends up with his face in his hands, fleeing to the kitchen.

“...Did I do something wrong?” Joshua says worriedly. Seungkwan laughs loudly, startling them all.

“No, flower, you did fine. He’s just shy; I can tell he liked that. Don’t be afraid to kiss him again later if you want. He won’t mind,” he smiles, putting a reassuring hand on the older omega’s shoulder. His point is further cemented when Mingyu pokes his head out of the kitchen, giving Joshua a grin and a thumbs-up. The older smiles a little, nodding and feeling fond of the shyness of the youngest beta. He doesn’t even mind that Minghao was recording; he’ll have to ask to see the video later.

Chapter Text

The thought completely slips his mind when, about an hour later, as he’s standing in the kitchen talking to Soonyoung, the muscles in his abdomen cramp viciously and force him to lean on the counter to stay upright. A muted hiss leaves his mouth as, concerned, Soonyoung’s hands flutter over his shoulders.

“Flower? Are you alright?” Joshua lowers himself to his knees, letting out a soft whine as another wave of pain rushes over him, mixed with a tingly pleasure that he isn’t sure he likes. Soonyoung kneels with him, face growing more panicked by the second.

“Jihoon? Hoonie, baby, come here!” he calls anxiously, and in two seconds flat the small omega is there, eyes wide and alert.

“Oh fuck- Wonwoo, you were right,” Jihoon shouts, and in an almost comically short amount of time, the taller omega appears as well, looking ruffled.

“Soonyoung, carry him. Let him scent you. He’s probably in a lot of pain, so do anything you can to comfort him,” he orders smoothly, and the alpha nods, turning back to Joshua.

“Flower, it’s ok, I’m here. I’m going to pick you up, ok? Are you alright?”

“Hurts, Soonie, hurts so bad,” Joshua whines weakly, reaching out instinctively for the alpha.

“I know it does, kitten, but hold on for me, ok? You’ll feel better soon,” he promises, sweeping the slender omega into his arms.

“Take him up to the bedroom, but don’t do anything yet. Jihoon, go with him, make sure he doesn’t get overwhelmed,” Wonwoo continues. Jihoon nods, because even he can smell the need coming off of Joshua in waves, and with his hand on the small of his mate’s back, he leads the pair up the stairs. He can practically feel Soonyoung’s concentration, eyes fixed anywhere but on the wriggling omega in his arms, and he feels pride rise up him.

Pride and worry, worry for Joshua, who is nearly thrashing in Soonyoung’s grasp, whining and crying a little and looking like a mess. It hurts his heart, and he once again feels a sharp sliver of anger direct itself at the oldest omega’s two mates for pushing him to this point.

Once Soonyoung sets him on the bed the alpha takes several large steps back, breathing sharply through his nose and staying close to Jihoon. The small omega kisses his cheek, nudging him towards the door, but Joshua lets out a tiny “please don’t go”, and both of others are weak.

“I’m just gonna stay here, ok Shua? The betas will come up and cuddle soon,” Soonyoung promises soothingly, though his pupils are dilating at the growing heat scent in the air. However, there’s a hint of worry in his own scent, because he can smell the pain threatening to break the older.

True to his words, Minghao and Seokmin come rushing in minutes later, Hansol following more slowly behind with several water bottles and a towel in his arms. Jihoon makes a mental note to thank the youngest beta later for his foresight.

Cooing reassuring words, Seokmin immediately curls up next to Joshua, who turns and hides his face in the younger’s chest, sobbing quietly. Minghao kneels on his other side, rubbing his back and humming softly. Hansol sits at their feet, looking slightly anxious and out of place but determined. All three of them fill the air with a mix of cedar, cinnamon, and chocolate respectively, but it does little to calm Joshua down, who is curled up tightly and keening in the back of his throat, pain making his voice rough.

Suddenly Hansol shucks his hoodie, holding it out to Joshua encouragingly.

“Come on, Josh, put it on. It has my scent on it, it might make you feel better,” he urges, words spoken softly in English. The switch to his mother tongue makes Joshua look up momentarily, and with shaky hands he reaches for the thick black hoodie, pulling it on with a bit of difficulty due to how he’s still half lying down. When he has it on, he pulls the hood over his head and seems to disappear into the over-sized piece of clothing, tucking his face back into Seokmin’s chest.

It would have been the cutest thing ever if not for the way they could all still see (and in Seokmin’s case, feel) the oldest omega shaking. His little noises of pain and want are badly muffled, and Soonyoung has to hug Jihoon close to his side to prevent himself from losing control. He stays though, because they all know Joshua would freak out at the loss of his alpha presence. Jihoon is once again proud of his mate for staying level-headed, but at the same time he’s slightly at a loss. He wants to help Joshua, he knows all of them do, but he isn’t sure if Joshua wants to be helped in the same way Mingyu helped him. That time, he hadn’t been in such intense pain.

He looks up as Wonwoo peeks his head into the room, eyes narrowing sympathetically. Behind him, Jun and Seungkwan are standing, talking quietly to Mingyu and Chan, who both look worried.

“Should we help him?” Wonwoo murmurs quietly to Jihoon, who can only give a weak shrug.

“I don’t know if the beta scents are helping him or not. Hansol gave him his hoodie which I think made it a little better, but I don’t wanna touch him if it’s gonna hurt him,” he whispers back. Wonwoo nods, slipping into the room and perching on the bed next to Hansol.

“Flower, it’ll be ok,” he hums softly, reaching out to pat Joshua’s knee. The older omega pulls all his limbs closer with a whimper and Wonwoo sighs.

“Flower?” Hansol whispers with a slightly confused look.

“Flower,” Wonwoo repeats with a nod in Joshua’s direction. A look of realization dawns on the younger’s face, which quickly turns to fondness. Wonwoo smiles and pats the top of the beta's head before turning back to Joshua.

“Shua, flower, I know it hurts but speak to us. What do you want us to do, kitten?” he coaxes, shuffling a little closer.

“Hurts,” Joshua whimpers in response, voice weak and pitiful.  “Don’t want it to hurt. Hurts like back then.” It’s Wonwoo’s turn to be confused, and he shoots a look behind him at Jihoon, but the smaller omega shrugs with the same confused look.

“What do you mean, flower? What happened?” he presses gently, starting to feel oddly uneasy. The pit of his stomach boils with ominous anticipation and he can’t help but feel like Joshua is hiding something dark. The thought is further cemented when Joshua doesn’t answer, simply curling further into Seokmin’s body. The beta gives him a wide-eyed, slightly panicked look, and Wonwoo quickly tries to reel back his thoughts to try again.

“Ok, you don’t need to tell us, just...please, flower, what do you want us to do?” he asks again, a little desperate. He holds out his hand, and surprisingly, Joshua slowly moves his arm to grab the younger omega’s hand. His grip is shaky so Wonwoo holds tight, giving him an encouraging squeeze. Seokmin hugs him closer and Minghao continues rubbing his back, murmuring a non-stop flow of what must be comforting words in Mandarin. Hansol gives Wonwoo’s knee a pat, and the older shoots him a small, thankful smile. Jihoon and Soonyoung, standing by the door, exchange a glance, warily hopeful.

Then, without moving his face from Seokmin’s chest, Joshua finally speaks, the answer slightly muffled.

“...Wanna cuddle,” he mumbles, and all of them let out an inward breath of relief.

“We can do that, flower, we can do that. Anyone in particular?” Wonwoo offers, because if it makes the older feel better he doesn’t really care who he chooses.

“...Channie,” Joshua mumbles after a moment, voice a near whisper. “Wanna cuddle with Channie.” Wonwoo freezes at that, because Chan, even though he's the youngest and has close to no romantic experience, is an alpha, and Joshua is still in heat.

But he’s weak, so he nods, squeezing Joshua’s hand again.

“I’ll go get him, ok?” Joshua slowly lets go, and Wonwoo slips off the bed, shooting Jihoon another anxious glance, one the younger returns.

“Is he alright?” Mingyu asks the moment Wonwoo steps out. The omega makes an indecisive noise and gesture, not sure how to answer.

“Well, obviously no, but we’re trying. He wants to cuddle with Chan,” he explains shortly, wanting to get the younger alpha to Joshua as quickly as possible.

“Me? Why?” Chan asks, sounding surprised. Wonwoo shakes his head.

“Don’t know, doesn’t matter. Are you sure you can handle yourself? Nothing I say can prepare you for what kind of scents are gonna hit you,” he warns. A stubborn, determined look of protectiveness spreads over Chan’s face and the younger nods.

“You better keep your head, kid,” Mingyu adds, but he ruffles the younger’s hair. Wonwoo shoots them both a thin smile before opening the door again.

When Chan walks in, he nearly coughs at the overwhelming flood of scents. Since most of them are shoved into a pretty small space, and all of them are concerned for one person, who is both in heat and in pain, it’s...dizzying, to say the least. Shaking his head aggressively, he tries to sort through them, locating Jihoon’s clean orangey scent first since he's closest. Soonyoung’s milder peach hits him next, and Wonwoo’s vanilla in front of him fades slightly as he moves away, back up onto the bed. The scents of the three betas are lingering, but they're all swamped by the much stronger smell of green tea and need and pain. It’s both intoxicating and incredibly concerning, so with slightly less confident steps, he walks towards the bed, where Seokmin is cooing soft words to the oldest omega.

When Seokmin sees him, he quickly moves away, patting the top of Joshua’s head carefully. Joshua whines at the loss of his warmth and quickly the beta rushes to comfort him.

“No, shh, it’s ok flower, I’m just moving so Chan can sit down. Channie’s here, don’t worry. It’ll be ok,” he soothes, and Chan’s worry increases when he sees Joshua’s eyes, glittering with tears, bloodshot and conflicted and confused. Instinctively he moves to fill the gap Seokmin left, intending to simply lay an arm over the trembling omega, but he’s slightly surprised when Joshua curls up even more, making himself small so he can fit against Chan’s shorter frame.

So close, Chan can now start to smell the heady scent of a heat, something he’s never really been exposed to before. It meshes with Joshua’s normal green tea and Hansol’s chocolate, and dimly he registers the omega is wearing the beta’s hoodie. Fighting down his possessive inner alpha silently, he puts his arms hesitantly around the older, slightly unsure of himself but determined to comfort Joshua’s badly-trembling body.

“It’s ok, Shua, I’m here,” he hums, petting the top of the older’s head. Joshua just lets out a strained whine, pushing himself further against the younger. All of them are concerned with how he’s shrinking up, trying to make himself smaller as if hiding from something.

Flower,” Minghao hums softly in Mandarin, and briefly, Joshua peeks over his shoulder at the now-familiar word, recognition kindling in his eyes. It makes Minghao smile, so he says it again, still petting Joshua's back and shoulders comfortingly.

Joshua turns back to Chan, pressing his face into his chest and, voice a fraction more steady, mumbles the word. Chan smiles. He doesn’t know what they’re saying, not well anyway, but he can tell Joshua is comforted by the word. He zones out a little, listening to Minghao hum things in Mandarin, not as overwhelmed as he thought he would end up by the scents in the room.

That is, until Joshua wriggles around a little, stretching out to wrap his arms tightly around Chan’s torso, keeping his face pressed into the younger’s chest. He makes a weird sort of humming noise from the back of his throat, half a purr and half a closed-mouth groan, smushing and rubbing his cheeks all over the alpha’s chest.

“Shua? You alright?” Surprised, Chan looks down at the now very cuddly omega pressed against him.

“You smell nice,” is all Joshua mumbles, huffing out a warm breath over Chan’s collarbones. “Like alpha.” His voice is soft and a little drunk-sounding, but steady, and Chan feels it's safe enough to laugh.

“Gee, I wonder why,” he chuckles. Joshua doesn’t laugh, doesn’t really smile either, but the sourness of his scent fades a little, which is enough for the younger. Still, the want pulsing from him is starting to feel significant, making Chan’s head spin a little as he tries to focus on petting Joshua’s hair gently.

He freezes as Joshua raises his head a little to start nuzzling his neck, making another strange, drunken hum. He lets out a soft whimper of “alpha”, and when Chan glances down his eyes widen at seeing how the older’s pupils nearly making his eyes black from how dilated they were.

“Ok, ok, Chan you might wanna move,” Jihoon says quickly, stepping forward. Chan nods but Joshua clings tighter, a slight frown marring his pretty face when the younger tries to pull away.

“Shua, c’mon, let go,” Chan chuckles weakly, lightly pushing at Joshua’s shoulders. “I’m not gonna leave completely, I promise. Don’t miss me too much,” he jokes, but something flares in Joshua’s eyes, pained and reluctant. Slowly though, he lets go, scent turning bitter with some strange mix of sadness, longing, and guilt. From there, he shrinks back, and the pain in the air increases again as he presses into Minghao’s touch. A soft whimper leaves his mouth and Chan looks to Jihoon, starting to freak out. The small omega is also looking incredibly concerned, but he shoos Chan away anyway.

“You’re good, don’t worry,” Jihoon mutters, patting Chan’s shoulder. The younger alpha sends him a worried, disbelieving look but nods, stepping back to lean against the wall.

“Ok, betas, off the bed,” Jihoon commands, and all three of them send him an incredulous look. Wonwoo, still sitting next to Hansol, gives him a raised eyebrow, but turns to gently urge Hansol and Minghao away. Jihoon pulls Jun and Seungkwan in next, letting them gently tug the oldest omega into a sitting position to hold him close, where he trembles and avoids looking at any of them. Wonwoo joins them and Jihoon takes a deep breath, briefly going over the pros and cons of the idea in his head before turning to Soonyoung and Mingyu.

“Would you?” is all he needs to ask, and Mingyu nods easily. Soonyoung takes a bit longer to answer, looking surprised.

“You’d let me?” he huffs, slanted eyes wide. Jihoon nods.

“Of course. I trust you. And Joshua sort of needs the help. I don’t want him to hurt anymore,” he adds in a soft voice, eyes drifting to the shaking omega half sitting in Jun’s lap.

“...None of us do,” Soonyoung hums with a nod, following his gaze. Chan makes a noise, but Jihoon shushes him.

“I know you wanna help, but no,” he says, before Chan can protest. Thankfully, Chan falls silent after only a moment of looking annoyed. Jihoon takes another deep breath, huffing it out slowly before shooing the three betas and Chan out of the room.

“I know you want to help him but I don’t want to scar you either,” he jokes weakly, trying and failing to pull a grin over his face. None of the younger four seem to think it’s funny, but they comply with little protest, which makes him feel a little relieved. But as soon as they step into the hall, they stop, firmly refusing to go any further. Jihoon is hesitant to let them stay, but Minghao’s folded arms and Hansol’s stubborn expression tell him he won’t win that fight.

“Not my fault if you get disturbed. He’s loud,” he warns carefully, and Hansol goes a little red but says nothing.

“We know,” Minghao says for him, tone dry. Jihoon snorts at that, patting Hansol’s shoulder. His expression turns serious again and he ruffles the younger beta’s hair comfortingly.

“He’ll be ok,” he assures gently. “He was fine after Mingyu helped him.” Hansol gives him a reluctantly hopeful look, and nods. Chan and the other betas nod as well and, after giving them one last look, Jihoon turns, slipping back into the room.

The two alphas were watching Wonwoo kiss Joshua soothingly, one hand running through his hair, the other around his back. The oldest omega was still sitting in Jun’s lap, one hand braced against his chest while the other gripped the front of Wonwoo’s shirt tightly. Seungkwan was humming lightly, rubbing calming circles into Joshua’s knee. They both seem a little entranced, and Jihoon chuckles quietly to himself.

His attention is drawn back to the bed as Joshua lets out a soft whimper, tearing his eyes and lips away from Wonwoo to whine at the two alphas.

“I’m not gonna say anything except you better be fine with seeing each other and the rest of us naked,” Jihoon huffs, folding his arms. Mingyu just shrugs, eyes still fixed on Joshua, but Soonyoung smirks a little bit.

“Fine with me,” he grins, and Jihoon rolls his eyes. His amusement is quickly sobered when Joshua whines softly again, plaintive and weak. He hops up on the bed next to Jun, humming softly to match Seungkwan’s pitch.

“It’s ok, flower, it’s ok,” he soothes, hands fluttering lightly over the older’s chest. “It’s ok. Will you let Mingyu and Soonie help? They’ll take care of you, flower, we all will. You’ll be ok.”

“Don’t care, just hurry up-” Joshua manages to say, surprisingly coherent. Aggressively, he tugs Wonwoo down into another heavy kiss, already panting and whining against his lips.

“Shirt off, flower,” Jun hums, fingers pulling up the hem of Hansol’s hoodie. Surprisingly, Joshua shakes his head, swatting away Jun’s hand.

“Wanna- wanna keep it on. Smells nice,” he says quickly, instead shuffling to shimmy out of his pants, which were slightly damp with a combination of slick and sweat. He hisses at the feeling of cool air against his heated length, and immediately Wonwoo’s deft fingers dance over his body. With a coquettish look at the two alphas through the corner of his eye, Wonwoo leans down to kiss the older omega again, tangling their tongues together. Just to tease, he makes a soft noise, just a little one, trying not to smirk at Mingyu’s responding growl. However, at the sound, Joshua freezes a little, and not because of his neediness. The sound had scared him.

“It’s ok, flower, don’t worry. They’ll be gentle. We lo- care about you. We wouldn’t hurt you,” Wonwoo hums, catching himself in the nick of time. He runs his free hand through the older’s hair comfortingly, the other still gently stroking. Joshua relaxes a little more, putting his face against Jun’s chest.

“Alpha,” he moans weakly against the younger’s lips when Wonwoo’s hand brushes over a sensitive spot, and that has Mingyu and Soonyoung bristling and alert, all senses completely focused on the needy source of the heat scent in the air.

Wonwoo pulls away to breathe, and, looking up at Jihoon, he smirks. The smaller omega smirks back and they each look at their respective mates, beckoning them silently with clever eyes and inviting smiles. Joshua helps by keening loudly, and the two alphas share a simple look before shrugging, both moving forward at the same time.

Chapter Text

The sight of Joshua, arms wrapped around Soonyoung’s shoulders, bouncing up and down in his lap and moaning obscenely, makes Jihoon quite pleased as he coos loving words and reassurances with the other omegas, who are hovering around, watching. Mingyu had (somewhat begrudgingly) let Soonyoung have his fun first, since the older pointed out he had Joshua all to himself the first time.

By that point, Joshua is quite disheveled, having long discarded Hansol’s hoodie and his shirt so as not to get them dirty (he had taken off the hoodie with no small amount of reluctance), hair messy and skin glistening with sweat. His stomach and chest were covered in his own release, but still he ground down into Soonyoung’s lap with a feverish, frantic intensity, pupils dilated to the point of making his eyes look black.

“Ah- Soonie,” he groans in a weak voice, slumping forward to rest against his shoulder but not stopping the movement of his hips. The alpha hums softly, nuzzling his cheek. He can hear Joshua’s ragged breathing, laboured with tiredness, but also his constant whimpering, body still singing for more, demanding that he find a release. It’s concerning; he doesn’t know how long Joshua can handle it before he just straight up passes out from exhaustion. Despite the others taking care of him, he’d still been in a pretty bad condition when they found him and a few days of care wasn’t going to make the week and a half of him not eating, sleeping, or drinking nearly enough just go away instantly.

So he wraps his arms around Joshua’s waist more securely, half lifting him to make it easier. The older melts a little in his grasp, pressing a short, grateful kiss below his ear. Feebly, he moans against Soonyoung’s skin as the fire builds in his body again, making him shudder and arch and whine, eyes squeezing shut.

“Come on, flower, one more time, then you rest for a while, ok?” Soonyoung murmurs, kissing down Joshua’s neck. Jun had discreetly told him it was probably ok to teethe at the marks on his neck, so hesitantly he places his lips there. Inwardly, he relaxes as Joshua tilts his head further to the side with a pleading whine, hips stuttering and jerking.

Smiling slightly, Soonyoung nips at the mark under his right ear, and at that moment Joshua lets out a strained, high-pitched whine, nearly collapsing forward onto the alpha as his body locks up and he once again paints his and the younger’s stomach with white. He's still producing an unhealthy amount of fluid, and as hot at Soonyoung thinks it is, it also concerns him.

Groaning tightly, Soonyoung hugs Joshua closer, the hot, slick heat around his cock pushing him over the edge. Panting roughly, he slowly releases the older, who stays draped over him, breathing uneven and shaky.

“Flower? You alright?” Mingyu, hovering over Soonyoung’s shoulder, hesitantly cups Joshua’s cheek. The older omega looks up at him slowly, eyes drooping and glittering weirdly. Letting out a mildly concerning, drunken little giggle, he nuzzles into Mingyu’s touch, humming.

“Shua, kitten, come on, lay back,” Soonyoung says quickly, hands dropping to grip Joshua’s hips and lift him off. Joshua is only a little taller than him but a lot more lanky and for a moment Soonyoung is worried about his much-too-light weight, but quickly gets distracted with Joshua trying to cling to him with shaky arms. Again, he eases the older away from him, and Joshua lets go with an unhappy noise. However, his eyes are heavy-lidded and the moment his head hits the pillows he closes them, still pulling air into his lungs.

Though it’s less intense, they can still smell the overwhelming need pouring from him, messing with the mild scent of green tea. That doesn’t concern them as much, because they can take care of that, but what does concern them is the conflicted pain still lingering underneath it all, a longing that seems to exist in his bones, a kind of stifled fear that makes his body tense up even as Seungkwan delicately runs a hand through his hair, cooing softly. Something is still hurting him, and they don’t know what it could be.

Other than the absence of the two oldest alphas, anyway. None of them had really bothered to text them anything, and their phones had been silent ever since Jihoon told them what had happened. It was a little nerve-wracking, but they tried to ignore it.

But they focus on anything else that could have been haunting the gentle omega, and all Wonwoo can think of is the mysterious “back then” that Joshua had mentioned and refused to elaborate on. It pokes at his mind insistently, but he doesn’t dare bring it up now.

What he does do is hold a bottle of water to Joshua’s lips, tilting his head up carefully.

“Drink, kitten, just a little. Then you can rest.” In little sips, Wonwoo waits until Joshua drinks what he’s deemed an acceptable amount before setting the bottle back down, shuffling to sit at the end of the bed.

“Still- still hurts,” Joshua mumbles, voice hoarse and quiet. Jun grabs his hand.

“I know, flower, we know, but you need to rest, if you can. If we push you too much all at once you’re just going to end up hurting yourself more,” he explains carefully, raising Joshua’s hand to press a kiss to his palm. Joshua hums weakly in acknowledgement, rolling onto his side and keeping his eyes squeezed shut. Mingyu rubs his back, pressing his fingers into the tense muscles and working them into loosening until Joshua’s whole body isn’t so obviously stiff. Soonyoung takes deep breaths, gratefully accepting the bottle of water Jihoon passes him. Seungkwan pets the oldest omega’s hair, eyes uncharacteristically sharp, lost in thought about something. Wonwoo just watches from the foot of the bed, bespectacled eyes fond but wary.

They can tell Joshua isn’t sleeping, but he is relaxing, lulled into a half-awake state by Mingyu’s gentle hands and Seungkwan’s petting. It’s comforting, to see him at least slightly recovered from his intense stress heat, but they know they’ll have to continue dealing with it until it fully goes away, so they keep an eye on him. The room fills with the sound of their faint murmurs, each of them whispering little loving things to Joshua, comforts and praises, soft words that make his lips tilt up slightly. He still doesn’t sleep, but he listens, eyes closed, breathing slowly returning to normal, and his scent turns sweeter, loving and pleased and happy. It’s a good scent, one that has all of them leaning closer to breathe it in.

“Feel better, flower?” Seungkwan quips, tapping the tip of Joshua’s nose. The older hums softly, not opening his eyes.

“A little,” he mumbles, and Seungkwan makes a noise of acknowledgement.

“You can sleep if you want to, kitten, I’m not going anywhere,” Mingyu offers, but Joshua shakes his head.

“Don’t want to. If I sleep then I have nightmares.” Wonwoo frowns slightly, mind bringing up the memory of Joshua saying the same thing when they first found him, curled up and crying and nearly incoherent. He wonders what kind of nightmares Joshua could possibly have to make him not want to sleep.

“And- I like your voices. Sounds nice,” Joshua adds after a moment, sounding slightly embarrassed. At that, Wonwoo smiles a little.

“We like your voice too, flower,” he chuckles, patting the older’s ankle. It’s the only thing he can really reach without moving too much and Joshua giggles softly so he doesn’t mind.

He does send Jihoon a look, only to find the younger is looking down at Joshua, a thoughtful but not unhappy frown on his face. Slowly Jihoon looks up at him, then at Jun, then at Seungkwan, then at the two alphas, saying nothing. They understand anyway, mood sobering a little. Jihoon lets out a silent sigh, then smiles faintly, petting Joshua’s bare hip.

“We’re here for you, flower. We won’t let anything or anyone hurt you anymore.”

Chapter Text

Mingyu is eager but gentle as always, letting Joshua stay on his back so he doesn’t have to move as much. Still tired out, the older’s moans are slightly fainter, more breathy, and his arms are wrapped more loosely around Mingyu’s shoulders, his hold just tight enough to keep the younger close.

Inside his head, Joshua’s mind is a whirlwind of different thoughts, mostly of Mingyu and the others. He’s barely aware of what he’s saying, but he knows he’s making noise because his throat feels slightly strained. He feels a pair of lips meet his own, soft and light, and he hugs Mingyu closer, too tired to lift himself up to kiss back. He feels weak, his body not responding the way he wants it to. He knows the others will take care of him, but he doesn’t like how he can’t seem to muster the energy to move himself.

And it still hurts. In his stomach and chest and behind his eyes, a bone-deep ache that hasn’t gone away since his stress heat started. It’s faded somewhat, but when he had been standing in the kitchen with Soonyoung, it had hit him like a punch to the gut and made a fine bolt of fear run through him. They had hurt him, on that night, hurt him enough to make sure he always looked over his shoulder, but Mingyu and Soonyoung were so gentle, so careful, holding him with strong but safe and steady arms, ones that wouldn’t hurt him. The other omega’s touches are tender and loving, words soft and full of caring, and the scents of Chan and the three betas linger faintly, comforting him.

But still, a icy spear of unease sits in the back of his mind, whispering things that make his chest tighten. He tries to ignore them, focusing on how good Mingyu was making him feel with slow, deep thrusts and kind touches. He arches his back as Mingyu brushes over a sensitive spot, and the sting behind his eyes increases. Not from bad feelings though. Moaning loudly, he presses into Mingyu’s touch, chest heaving with exertion.

You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve them.

Joshua shivers at the sudden intrusive voice in his head. He clings tighter to Mingyu, but the voice snaps at him again.

Too clingy. Too dependent. Parasitic and unneeded. They don’t want you, don’t need you, you just need them because you’re weak.

Joshua whimpers softly, and Mingyu answers silently by leaving little kisses all over his face before moving to his lips, distracting Joshua momentarily.

“Pretty flower, so lovely,” Mingyu whispers once he pulls away, looking at the omega with a gaze that burns, but in a good way. It makes Joshua feel warm inside, makes him want to rest there forever where he feels safe and loved and happy.

Slut. You can’t even be a faithful mate. None of them deserve having such a whore with them. Look at you, letting them fuck you while your proper mates are away. You’re enjoying it too. Do your claiming marks mean nothing?

Joshua freezes again, because the voice was right. He isn’t supposed to be there, isn’t supposed to be pathetic enough to make them take care of him.

He isn’t supposed to have fallen for them like he did. But he looks around, sees Mingyu’s warm eyes, sees Jihoon smiling at him affectionately in the way that he usually only does at Soonyoung, hears Jun’s soft voice cooing loving words, feels Seungkwan pet his hair, and he can’t help the powerful wave of some warm feeling that rises up in him.

They don’t love you. They really shouldn’t. You aren’t worth loving. You weren’t made to be loved. They’re only helping you because they pity you. You’re a pitiful creature, pathetic and useless. They’d be happier without you.

He whines again, mind torn between the physical pleasure of Mingyu inside of him and the cold mentally creeping over him.

“Shh, you’re ok flower, it’s ok. I know it hurts, but we’re here,” Jun croons from somewhere to his right. Joshua can’t say how it doesn’t just physically hurt. That hurt dimmed a while ago. Instead, his chest feels tight and suddenly he has trouble believing Jun’s words.

Instead of answering, he just holds himself to Mingyu the best he can, trying very hard to not let the tears fall.

You can’t love them. You aren’t allowed to. They don’t love you and you can’t love them. How dare you even think about it. They have each other and they don’t need you dragging them down. You would mess things up, just like you always do. You aren’t worth their affection. You’re an extra, just a toy to throw away, they don’t need you, they don’t want you-

Joshua hates himself for letting out a little whimper, pressing his face into Mingyu’s shoulder.

“Flower? Kitten, are you alright?” Mingyu pauses, breath ghosting over his ear, voice soft and oh-so concerned. It makes Joshua’s heart wither more, to be held so gently by the people who isn’t supposed to love in the way that he’s grown to love them (because god, he loves them, loves them all so much). He wants to cry, wants to scream and wail and sob because suddenly everything in his chest hurts and his mind is clouding over again, but he doesn’t.

“I’m ok. Just- just feels good,” he whispers in a shaky voice. He isn’t lying, at least. Mingyu kisses him softly again, almost reassuringly, and Joshua makes a quiet little hiccuping noise, trying vainly to hold in the tears threatening to spill.

He feels oddly cold, in a tingly sort of way, even though there’s sweat making his skin glisten and Mingyu’s body heat is so close, but he doesn’t feel warm. His whole body tingles and shivers, something ugly stirring in his mind, spreading creeping tendrils of self-loathing through his thoughts. Darker and darker they go, pulling up flashes of that night until he’s living it out whenever he closes his eyes.

He doesn’t realize that he’s crying until Mingyu suddenly pulls back with an alarmed noise, Jihoon’s hand on his shoulder to tug him away. Instinctively, Joshua curls up, sobbing and shaking so badly the bed sheets tremble with him. He feels hands on him, gentle hands, worried hands, but still they scare him, so he flinches away. Most of them retreat, but one stays in his hair, petting and not pulling.

“Joshua? Joshua are you ok? I didn’t hurt you, did I? I’m so sorry, kitten, are you alright?” Mingyu’s voice is frantic and slightly guilty and Joshua sobs harder because he’s just causing more problems. He shouldn’t be making any of them sad. He doesn’t want to be the source of their anger or stress or guilt but he is and he hates that. Hates himself. He should go, should leave so he doesn’t burden them anymore. He’s a burden, that’s what he is. A worthless, useless, ugly, pathetic burden. He isn’t worth loving. They’d be happier without him.

They’d be happier without me, he thinks.

Chapter Text

When Jihoon had first noticed the scent of emotional pain seeping into the air, it had alarmed him. When Joshua suddenly burst into tears while holding Mingyu close, needless to say, all of them had panicked. He’d all but thrown Mingyu back by the shoulder, who immediately moved away, eyes wide and stunned.

They watch as Joshua curls into himself, both physically and mentally, face buried in his hands. His scent is twisted and wrong and so potently distressed that Seungkwan lets out a soft whimper of his own, hand shaking where he's running it through the oldest omega’s hair.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Joshua starts to whimper, over and over in a voice filled with guilt and weak from fatigue.

“No, kitten, why? You have nothing to be sorry for!” Wonwoo says quickly, reaching out to try and take one of the older’s hands. Joshua twitches away and with an uncertain whine, Wonwoo moves back. “You don’t have to apologize, kitten, it’s ok,” he says more quietly, though it’s hard to control himself. Every fiber of his being is screaming to hold Joshua close, kiss away his tears and love him until he feels whole again.

But Joshua shakes his head violently, more soft little apologies slipping from his lips along with his heart-wrenching sobs and wails. Somehow, it was even worse than when they first found him. Something had changed subtly, and now, seeing the oldest omega cry, seeing him sink into a place that left him trembling and unstable, hurts them even more.

“Flower, I’m sorry, are you ok? If I hurt you, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Mingyu begins, voice pitching high with desperation.

“Not- not you,” Joshua manages to say. “M-my fault. Love you. Love you so much. My f-fault, I'm sorry,” he gasps out, and the words seem to cause him physical pain as another round of horrible weeping fills the room.

The door flies open and, wide-eyed and panicked, the three betas and Chan rush in, worried questions half-out until they take in the sight of Joshua quivering, shrinking back at the sound of their voices.

Mingyu, meanwhile, stares down at Joshua, stunned and unable to speak. Joshua’s words run over and over in his head, and he looks slowly up at Wonwoo, who looks back with the same expression.

It’s Jun who moves first, hesitantly shuffling forward. Braving through the older’s heartbreaking cries, he ever-so-gently pulls Joshua into his lap, murmuring soft words in a mix of Korean and Mandarin. The older makes a weird sort of motion, as though he can’t decide whether to move away or melt into Jun’s arms. They’re all slightly relieved when he chooses the latter, turning his face into the younger’s chest and wetting his shirt with his tears. On the pale blue fabric, they can all see his tears, dark splotches on the clean material.

“Shua, we love you too,” Jun breathes, holding Joshua close. “We love you too, flower, it’s ok. We’re here, kitten, we’re here.” He finally says the words all of them have been wanting to say, and it almost feels like a weight has been lifted. All of them crowd around, murmuring quiet little confessions of love as well. The bed is big, but it can’t hold all of them, so the betas kneel on the floor, Chan hopping up and situating himself close to Soonyoung.

The weight crashes back down again when Joshua lets out an agonized wail at their words, pain threading into his voice and it’s such a raw, poignant sound, so full of despair and confusion that Seungkwan starts to cry too. Hansol reaches up to hold his hand, but he looks deathly pale as he watches.

“Shua, kitten, please, tell us what’s wrong,” Jihoon asks again pleadingly, and for one of the first times in his life, he can feel his hands shaking from fear and the adrenaline of panic rushing through his veins. He’s scared, but not for himself. For Joshua and the demons in his head. His fear grows further when the older lets out a quavering whine, shaking his head and burrowing into Jun’s arms. He's more than scared, he's terrified.

Please, flower, talk to us, talk to me, please say something,” Jun begs in Mandarin, too distressed to even think about using the correct language. Minghao hums uneasily, fingers finding the back of Jun’s shirt and clutching it tightly.

“Is- is it about your nightmares? The ‘back then’ you mentioned?” Wonwoo suddenly asks, and Joshua’s voice hitches, signalling to the younger that he’s probably right.

“Flower, it’s ok, nothing can hurt you here. Whatever it is, we’ll listen. We’re here for you, we love you,” Jun says in strangled Korean, holding the older closer. Seungkwan’s hand, still shaking, continues petting his hair. Joshua looks up at Jun, tears pouring steadily from his eyes, then around at the others, all of them still making low, comforting noises.

Softly, they hum loving words, their voices meshing together. They’re all still kind of panicked and definitely more than a little worried, but Joshua needs them to be calm. Joshua needs them.

Joshua goes silent for a split second, hands tightly gripping the front of Jun’s shirt. He takes a deep, shaky breath, then, like a dam overflowing, he seems to break. Words, nearly incoherent, spill out of his mouth, half-mumbled, half-sobbed into the fabric covering Jun’s chest. They can barely understand his almost unintelligible babbling, but slowly they piece together what he was trying to say.

When Joshua is finished, or, at least, when he can no longer speak, there’s a stunned, heavy silence, filled only by the oldest omega’s continuous tears. None of them can quite believe what they just heard, and all of them are half-wishing for it to be a bad joke. But Joshua is still crying, shaking so hard his whole body trembles, so there’s no way any of what he’d recounted wasn’t real.

He’d said lots of things. First, with a shaky voice, he’d told them what the “back then” actually was, and it had sent him into another round of weeping, barely able to hold himself together enough to continue. Jun had held him close through the entire thing, though he felt himself begin to shake as well.

Then he’d started talking about Jeonghan and Seungcheol. That was where it got harder to understand him; his voice was shaky and it sounded like he almost didn’t want to say the things he was saying but couldn’t hold the words back anymore.

Then came the self-loathing. The guilt. The fear and the stress and the loneliness expressed in short, choppy sentences and stuttered gasps. That was the part that hurt them the most, to know what Joshua thought of himself.

Again, it’s Jun who miraculously manages to speak. There are tears dripping steadily down his cheeks, falling into Joshua’s hair, but he wraps his arms more securely around the older, one arm around his back and the other rising to cup the back of his head, letting him cry into his shoulder.

“Oh, Joshua,” is all he can say, whispered in a tone full of love and protectively horrified disbelief. He cradles the still-sobbing omega close, rocking him back and forth, and the others can only stare, trying to process what just happened. They have no idea how to answer to that. How would they? All they can do is sit dumbly and look at each other and at Joshua in silence.

They sit until Joshua can’t cry anymore, sobs reduced to sniffles and tears slowed to a trickle. Still he shakes and quivers in Jun’s arms, dragging air into his lungs.

“Joshua, I want you to listen to me very carefully,” Jun says softly after a moment, voice steady and quiet. Joshua looks up at him slowly, eyes glistening and afraid, and the younger cups his cheek tenderly.

“You are not a burden. You are not useless, worthless, pathetic or any of those other things. You are Joshua Hong and you are the most kind, loving person on the planet. You are gentle and you are thoughtful and you are so, so beautiful. I don’t know how we can make you believe that, but it’s true.” He looks up expectantly, and the others nod easily.

“The most beautiful flower we’ve ever seen,” Wonwoo adds with a hum, shuffling closer to rub Joshua’s shoulder. “You’re smart and patient and amazing and just...you’re everything.”

“You deserve the world, kitten,” Jihoon puts in next, voice soft and affectionate. “You deserve every good thing in the world and every good thing we can possibly give you. And you deserve to be loved. You are perfect for loving. You manage to somehow make everyone you’ve ever met fall for you.”

“Including us,” Mingyu murmurs softly. Joshua’s gaze slowly looks to him, disbelieving and surprised, but he doesn’t look away. The others make noises of agreement slowly.

“...Why?” That single word, spoken so quietly and so brokenly, hurts them more than anything he’s said yet. It hits them that Joshua doesn’t think he’s worth loving. He doesn’t know why anyone would like him, much less love him. The weight of the fact sits on their shoulders and makes their stomachs curl uncomfortably.

“Because you’re so lovable, flower, you are,” Jun hums quickly, thumb stroking his cheek. “When I first saw you, I was so taken with you. You were so soft-looking and adorable and when we first met all I wanted to do was cuddle you and call you cute things and hold you close. And you were so kind to me and Hao, so patient with us when he couldn’t find the right words, and you talked to us in Mandarin when we were homesick even thought you weren't the best at it and not many people have done that for us. It made me so happy, flower, made me fall a little more in love with you every day.” He coos the endearment in Mandarin, and Minghao nods, speaking up from his place next to the bed.

“I loved Jun the minute I saw him, I really did, and I still do, of course, but somehow you’ve managed to get my heart too. I always wondered how someone so patient could exist and still be so kind. You were so kind to us, flower, so loving. I have to admit, I almost cried when you first hugged me and told me I was doing the best I could and that I wasn’t any worse for not being perfect when I didn't know a word or if I got too stressed to use proper grammar.” His fingers let go of their death grip on the back of Jun’s shirt, instead reaching to pat Joshua’s knee.

“It was super nice, meeting someone from the states like me,” Hansol adds, voice low and affectionate. He speaks English and Joshua looks to him. “Someone who could speak the languages I did and someone who understood what it was like to be different. You helped me, Jun, and Minghao so much. You were like a bridge that helped all of us fit in easier and feel more comfortable.”

“And you put up with my brattiness all the time. I feel bad for giving you such a hard time,” Seungkwan says apologetically. “But...you never got mad at me. You always comforted me when I was sad and even if I was being hard to deal with you helped me. I can never say enough how thankful I am for you.”

“And you treat everyone around you with the utmost respect and politeness,” Chan pipes up. “You treated me like I was my age instead of babying me too much and that honestly made me feel so much better. You listen to us honestly and you give us help and affection when we need it. You’re always helping us so easily, like it’s the most natural thing in the world for you, and it’s amazing to see someone so humble and caring at the same time.”

“This is gonna sound shallow and I’m not trying to make it sound that way but you’re really pretty, kitten,” Mingyu says next. “Like...you’re really goddamn cute. Adorable. Cutest bean. The softest thing ever. You’re just the right size to cuddle and your lips are so soft, so nice to kiss. You’re just...beautiful.” While he speaks, he reaches out to gently pet his cheek. Joshua tilts his head into the touch but doesn’t look at him.

“He’s right,” Wonwoo chuckles. “You’re very cute, kitten. And you’re also smart. You’re witty and clever and kinda sassy sometimes and it’s just...the best thing ever when you can be yourself. It’s nice to see you relaxed. Y’know, when I first met you I was kinda indifferent but then you started talking to me about books and it made me feel really happy to have someone to chat with. Mingyu won’t read with me, so having you around is a nice relief.” Mingyu huffs at him, but they both smile at Joshua’s very weak giggle.

“And your voice is something else, Shua,” Jihoon murmurs, head tilted slightly and gaze glassy with warmth and the thought of Joshua’s angelic voice. “You sing so well and it’s always a treat to hear you laugh. I’ve heard a lot of people sing but you’re one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. Your voice is so gentle and I’m sure you get could anyone to do anything for you if you asked them. I certainly would.”

“Speaking of your laugh, it’s one of the nicest things ever,” Soonyoung says with a grin, “just like your smile. You’ve got a really nice smile. None of us like it when you’re sad, so we’re gonna do anything we can to make sure you have a reason to smile everyday. We want to make you happy. As happy as we possibly can because you deserve it.”

“And you do deserve to be loved, Shua, you do. No one deserves to be hated or left alone.” Seokmin’s voice is thoughtful as he speaks. “You, least of all. You’re an angel to us all and you deserve to be showered with all the love we can give you. Nothing you or anyone else says can change that fact. You’re sweet and kind and the epitome of the good things in this world. You always help us no matter what it is or what we’re going through and you’re always there for us. We love you, Shua, we really do.”

“And you don’t need to feel bad for loving us or for us loving you. We can’t help ourselves. It just...happened. And if Jeonghan and Seungcheol don’t like it, then we can talk it out when they get back. If they’re ok with it, then we’re going to keep loving you as much as we can. No matter what happens though, we will always be here if you need us, flower. We will welcome you with open arms, because you did the same for us. We will hold you and love you until you feel alright, no matter what anyone else says. You are beautiful and you are lovable and you deserve every kind word said about you,” Jun finishes, leaning down to press a kiss to his forehead.

Joshua is silent for a long time, eyes fixed on Jun’s shirt. They know he’s probably a little overwhelmed so they let him think, but when the quiet stretches, it starts to make them antsy. However, his scent doesn’t smell of pain or of sadness anymore, which makes them relieved.

Eventually, he moves. He cranes his body up, reaching to put a hand on Jun’s cheek. Ever-so-gently, he connects their lips, just a soft little kiss, but it holds many feelings. He leans out of Jun’s lap to reach for Wonwoo, doing the same. He shifts and crawls around to give a slow, loving kiss to each of them in turn. After each kiss, he whispers a soft “I love you” to them, one they whisper back.

He accepts Hansol’s hoodie and tugs it on again after Seungkwan gives it to him, huddling in the warm, thick fabric and breathing in the strong scent of chocolate. Then, without warning, he bursts into tears again, pressing his sweater paws to his eyes and shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Immediately they move to comfort him. Mingyu reaches him first and Joshua all but wraps himself around the younger, hugging him tightly.

“I love you, I love you so much,” he breathes, voice cracking as he pulls away to cup the alpha’s cheek and kiss him. Mingyu can feel Joshua’s tears against his cheeks for the second time, and once he (somewhat reluctantly) pulls away, he wipes them away with his thumb.

“I love you too, flower,” he hums gently. “But how do you feel? Your heat scent is pretty much gone…”

“I’m ok,” Joshua nods shakily, resting his forehead against Mingyu’s shoulder. “Doesn’t hurt anymore. I think it’s gone. Thank you for helping me.”

“Not a problem, kitten, and I’m glad. Anything to make you feel better.” He rubs a hand up and down the oldest omega’s back, and is delighted to feel him barely trembling anymore. He also feels Joshua leave more butterfly kisses along his shoulder, and he smiles fondly. He’s content to simply sit there and pet the omega until the shiver completely leaves his frame and Joshua melts into him more. When that happens, Joshua yawns quietly, and all of them coo happily.

“Tired, flower?” Jun asks with a giggle, reaching out to pat the top of his head. Joshua nods and Jun giggles again.

“So cute,” he coos as Mingyu carefully lets him lie back against the pillows. He curls up but not in fear or sadness, reaching for one of their hands even as his eyes droop. Seungkwan offers his hand, and Joshua takes it with a closed-mouth hum. Then, with what looks like an effort, he sits up again, despite them urging him to rest.

“One- one more kiss,” he mumbles, pulling Seungkwan in first. Droopy-eyed and yawning, he gets quick, cute kisses from all of them once more. When finished, he lets them gently push him back down. The moment his head touches the pillows again, he’s out like a light, still clinging to Seungkwan’s hand.

“...We’re so whipped,” Hansol says after a minute of silence.

“No shit,” Minghao snorts, but his gaze is affectionate as he watches the even rise and fall of Joshua’s side. Soonyoung makes an agreeable hum, head tilted and a smile scrunching up his slanted eyes. Then he looks down at himself.

“...We should probably get dressed,” he says, glancing at Mingyu. Having been rather distracted the whole time, Mingyu looks down as well and immediately colors beet red in embarrassment.

“Yeah. Probably should,” Jihoon snickers, but they all turn away politely, instead cooing over how Joshua pushes into Jun’s gentle hair-petting in his sleep. It’s adorable and heartwarming and most of all, relieving. They’re infinitely glad that Joshua seems to feel better.

When the two alphas come back clothed, they all somehow find a way to smush themselves onto the bed. It ends up with Jihoon in Soonyoung’s lap and Minghao in Jun’s, but that way at least they all fit.

“...As much as I don’t want to ruin the atmosphere, there’s some shit we need to talk about,” Jihoon begins with a sigh. They all nod reluctantly.

“Do you think he’s talked about... that with Jeonghan and Seungcheol?” Seungkwan asks carefully, eyes drifting the oldest omega’s curled-up figure. None of them have to ask to clarify.

“Highly doubt it; if he was that reluctant to say anything to us, and judging from how long he said nothing about it, then there’s only a very slim chance he told them,” Jihoon says gruffly. Soonyoung’s arms tighten around his waist and he can smell his mate letting his peach scent flow out. He’s glad for the comfort.

“Why Joshua?” Chan mumbles, sounding slightly disbelieving. “Why him? He’s never done anything wrong; he would never do anything to deserve that…” They have no answers, but they all agree with him.

“Well, at least we know. Now we can help him the best we can,” Wonwoo hums, bespectacled eyes fixed on Joshua. “He doesn’t have to suffer alone anymore and I’ll be damned if I let him.”

“All of us are here for him,” Mingyu nods, wrapping an arm around his mate.

“Another thing,” Jihoon says primly. “If this all, miraculously, manages to work out, we can agree on sharing him, alright? But just Joshua. No offense, but I really wouldn’t want to date some of you.” His nose wrinkles at the thought and Soonyoung laughs, hugging him closer.

“Oh thank god,” Chan says quickly, heaving a dramatic sigh of relief. “I’m good with that.”

“Me too,” Hansol adds, threading one of his hands with Seungkwan’s. All the others murmur in agreement and Jihoon nods sharply.

“Lastly, there’s...Jeonghan and Seungcheol.” His voice drops to an uncertain pitch as he speaks, because frankly, he has no idea what to do regarding them. It seems no one else does either, because none of them speak.

“How do you think they’re gonna react?” Jun asks uneasily, cuddling Minghao close.

“No idea,” Jihoon says dryly, letting his head fall back onto Soonyoung’s shoulder. “No fucking clue, honestly. There’s about a million different scenarios that could go down and most of them probably don’t end well.”

There’s a long stretch of silence. Jihoon closes his eyes and listens to Joshua’s slow breathing, faint but steady. He starts humming softly to break the quiet, and no one stops him. Soonyoung’s hands around him rub calming circles into his hips, and he sighs lowly, opening his eyes to stare at the ceiling.

“We’ll just...deal with that when it comes.I don’t know how they’ll react but they’ll probably be shocked for a while so we can explain everything to them before they get mad. Hopefully.” He looks up as Minghao makes a noise, pulling his phone out of his pocket.

“‘We’ll be there soon’,” he reads, looking up at the others after he finishes speaking. Jihoon reaches for his own phone and opens up the chat, frowning.

“‘We’ll need to talk once you get here. There’s a lot of explaining all of us have to do’,” Soonyoung reads over his shoulder as he types.

“Bit of an understatement, but you aren’t wrong,” Wonwoo says with a sarcastic eye roll. Mingyu hugs him closer comfortingly and the omega leans into him.

“Guess now we just have to wait,” Seokmin says in a voice of fake cheerfulness. Jun pats the top of his head.

“They’re sensible and they love Joshua too. I’m sure they’ll come around. If not, then...well if not then...I don’t know,” Jun confesses awkwardly. Seokmin chuckles weakly, face quickly falling again.

A barely-audible mumble of “love you guys” makes all of them look towards the oldest omega, who shifts a bit in his sleep, mumbling a couple more incomprehensible words before ending up with his face half-pressed against Seungkwan’s thigh. From there he stills, looking quite content to cling to the younger omega’s hand.

“...I’m so soft,” Hansol whispers in a strained voice. Mingyu tries not to laugh.

“We all are,” Soonyoung chuckles, looking fondly at the sleeping omega. “He’s just...so cute, isn’t he?”

“The most adorable thing in the world,” Seokmin coos. “Must protect.” Mingyu can’t help himself and lets out a bark of laughter at that, one Wonwoo chides him for.

When Joshua smiles faintly in his sleep, just a tiny upward tilt of the corners of his lips, it’s enough to make all of them watch, the room overflowing with their fondness. Gone is the smell of a stress heat and pain from his scent. Instead it’s sweet, contented and relaxed; it smells like Joshua again, properly this time. They smile back, even if he can’t see it.

Seungkwan squeezes his hand gently and Joshua’s fingers twitch in his grasp, holding a little tighter. He looks up and is met with nine other loving gazes, all directed at the oldest omega. He looks back down and holds his hand just as tight. He doesn’t know what will happen when his two alphas arrive home, but he does know that whatever happens, he and all the rest of them will be there for their flower. Because for the life of them, they just can’t help loving him.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Joshua looks and seems much better. He walks around without pain and there’s no hint of sadness in his scent. He eats and drinks enough, and though he’s still a bit bony, Mingyu and Jun are determined to change that. Chan, ignoring all the older’s words of protest, simply brings all his homework over to Joshua’s house and does it there, occasionally asking one of them for help. They all alter their lives slightly to accommodate being able to stay with the oldest omega, but none of them care at all. They’re happy to do whatever it takes to keep him smiling and feeling alright, despite his feeble protests.

Currently, he's sitting in Wonwoo’s lap, kissing him languidly, arms wrapped around his shoulders. The younger omega had been reading, but abandoned the book easily to cuddle him close.

“What’cha reading?” Joshua asks softly between kisses, glancing at the discarded book.

“Nothing important. Kind of boring, actually, I’m glad to set it down,” he chuckles, littering the older’s face with little smooches.

“Never heard of you disliking a book before,” Joshua laughs a little, closing his eyes happily.

“What, am I not allowed to critique bad literature?” he huffs jokingly.

“I never said that,” Joshua snorts, turning his face so Wonwoo could kiss his cheek. “Must say I’m surprised though.”

“Rude,” Wonwoo grumbles playfully, giving the older a brief squeeze hug. Joshua giggles quietly again and the younger relishes in his sweet scent and sweeter smile.

“How’s your neck, kitten? Still hurt?” he quips, nuzzling the curve of his throat. Joshua tilts his head to the side, humming.

“Stings a little but it’s not bad, I promise. Doesn’t hurt nearly as much as like, three days ago.”

“That’s good,” Wonwoo nods, pleased at the info. He continues leaving light kisses up and down his neck, subconsciously urging the rest of the pain to go away. Joshua hums happily, melting against him.

Across the room, Soonyoung is cuddling Jihoon, or at least trying to. The small omega is incredibly fidgety, looking agitated and anxious. He keeps glancing at his phone, and eventually Soonyoung just tugs him into his lap despite his mate’s protests. Wonwoo raises an eyebrow at him, but before he can begin to question the younger’s odd behavior, Jihoon snatches his phone from his pocket and stares at it.

Jihoon slowly looks up at him, mouthing the words “10 minutes”. Wonwoo frowns while he’s trying to decipher what Jihoon said, but the moment he does, he tightens his gentle hold around Joshua’s waist instinctively. Nodding shortly, he goes back to cuddling the oldest omega, hoping he doesn’t sense any of the tension building in the air. Thankfully, Joshua seemed to be content.

Jihoon went around, quickly showing all the others the text. When he came back to the living room, he hesitated, but walked over to Joshua.

“Flower,” he begins slowly, keeping his voice even. “Jeonghan and Seungcheol will be here soon.”

That gets Joshua’s attention. Instantly, Wonwoo can feel the older’s whole body tense up in his arms, along with a sharp intake of breath.

“...Oh,” he says softly after a moment, not looking up at Jihoon. He subtly clings a little tighter to Wonwoo, and the younger holds him close. His scent is strange: a mix of eagerness, anxiety, and longing. It makes Soonyoung sneeze across the room.

“Don’t worry, kitten, we’ll be here for you,” Wonwoo soothes, running a hand through Joshua’s hair comfortingly. Jihoon makes a noise of agreement, patting the top of his head. Mingyu, having been reading in the guest bedroom, appears to pet Joshua's hair and lay a soft, casual kiss to the corner of his mouth, humming softly in a comforting sort of way that makes Wonwoo practically purr. Joshua smiles weakly at them, but his face quickly falls again. His fingers rise to rub at his claiming marks, and he bites his lip uneasily, curling up a little on Wonwoo’s lap.

All they can do is wait and try to stay calm. Mingyu paces back and forth in a different room and Seokmin copies him, fiddling with anything small enough to slip between his fingers. Chan, sitting on the living room floor, watches everyone else, eyes worried and careful. Seungkwan and Hansol sit in silence together at the table, hands linked. Jun plops himself down next to Wonwoo, tugging Joshua’s legs into his lap. Minghao sits on Wonwoo’s other side, sitting silently and simply offering a quiet, steady presence. Soonyoung stays where he’s sitting, looking out the window behind him as though waiting for a car to pull up.

The tension in the whole house builds until it’s nearly suffocating. Wonwoo is worried Joshua will start crying again from how his body has started to shake slightly, so he murmurs soft words into his ear, nuzzling his cheek and leaving kisses along his jawline. It seems to make him feel a little better, but he stays silent, arms wrapped tightly around the younger’s shoulders.

It’s the longest 10 minutes of their lives. Jihoon feels like he can’t think and can barely breathe from how tense he is. Protective anger keeps turning his thoughts somewhat gruesome, but worry keeps the rest of his mind on Joshua and how his scent is slowly starting to sour.

Soonyoung makes a noise later, eyes trained on the window. Immediately, the tension increases, if possible. Joshua shrinks into Wonwoo’s arms, and they all become even more uneasy at the fear that starts to seep from him, bitter and unpleasant.

“It’ll be ok,” Wonwoo murmurs, but he half doesn’t believe himself and he knows Joshua doubts that too.

They hear the front door suddenly being flung open and slammed, and the sound makes Joshua flinch so badly that Wonwoo can’t help but hold him closer, one arm rising to protectively run through Joshua’s hair. There’s the loud sound of footsteps, then-

Panting and looking panicked, there stand Seungcheol and Jeonghan, slightly disheveled and not nearly as well put-together as they normally are. They stare at Joshua, and Joshua slowly turns his head to stare back. Wonwoo gently pets his hair, the action unconscious and almost to comfort himself.

The tension is suffocating. Everyone can feel it in the air, hanging heavy with unspoken words. Jihoon half wants to say something, anything, to ease the awful, awful silence.

Then Joshua moves. Slowly, he climbs out of Wonwoo’s lap, standing and not taking his eyes off of his mates. He takes a tiny half-step forward, then stops again, and Wonwoo can see his hands shaking.

Jeonghan breaks first, rushing forward to crush his omega into a tight hug, one arm wrapped around his waist and the other holding the back of his head.

“Oh my god, Joshua, I am so, so sorry, sweetheart, I never meant to hurt you, I’m so sorry.” Over and over he whispers apologies to the still faintly trembling omega, who says nothing and stays stiff in Jeonghan’s arms. Seungcheol moves towards him more slowly, enveloping them all in his arms and burying his face in Joshua’s hair. He too, adds his own voice to Jeonghan’s apologies, sounding infinitely guilty.

The others watch silently. Wonwoo rises to stand and so does Soonyoung, all of them staring intently at the three oldest. Half of Jihoon wants to tear Joshua away from them, especially when Joshua sniffles faintly in their arms.

It seems to stun the two alphas, who look up, bewildered and panicked, at Joshua’s face as tears start to roll down his cheeks.

“Joshua? Joshua, sweetheart, n-no, please don’t cry, we’re here now, baby, it’s-it's ok,” Jeonghan stammers, sounding almost hysterical as he wipes away the omega’s tears. The action is somewhat useless; Joshua's tears keep falling steadily down his face, showing no sign of stopping. However, Joshua barely makes a sound as he shakes and cries, lips shut tight as he stares Jeonghan dead in the eyes. The long-haired alpha falls silent, unable to find the words, pinned by Joshua’s unnaturally piercing gaze.

“...Shua?” Seungcheol’s voice is soft and slightly shocked, gently urging him to say something. Joshua turns big, watery eyes on him and he immediately feels guilt rise up in him, more powerful than he’d ever felt.

Joshua looks down at the floor and sees his own tears fall, dripping onto the carpet. He sniffles and takes a deep, shuddering breath, daring to look back up at the other two.

“I’m sorry,” he breathes, and all of them are stunned. They were not expecting that. They expected him to maybe get mad, maybe to ask them why they left for so long, maybe even just forgive them (because Joshua’s heart was too big for the world), but none of them expected him to simply apologize, like he thought the whole thing was-

Like he thought the whole thing was...his….fault.

All of them stare at Joshua, who takes another shaky breath and apologizes again, and again, and again, until his voice is a near whisper and his tears make it hard to understand him.

“S-sweetheart, no, no, it’s not your fault, you don’t have to be sorry,” Jeonghan mumbles eventually, looking completely lost and desperate to find a way to fix the situation. “We should be the ones apologizing, love, none of this is your fault. Baby, you’ve done nothing wrong, you don’t need to apologize. It’s ok, Shua, you’re ok, you’ve done nothing wrong,” he says in an almost pleading voice, pulling the silently weeping omega against his chest and holding him tightly.

Slowly, slowly, Joshua’s hands rise to grip the front of Jeonghan’s shirt, holding it so tightly his knuckles turn white. He continues crying silently into Jeonghan's shoulder, shaking in his arms, but he says nothing else. He sinks with Jeonghan when the older sits, pulling the omega into his lap and cradling him close. Seungcheol joins them on the floor, rubbing Joshua’s back and murmuring words the rest of them can’t really hear.

The others exchange looks, solemn and silent. Mingyu leans in the hallway entrance, protective instincts still pinging. A small part of him wants to straight up fight the other two for Joshua, but he shoves down his dumb, possessive alpha side and watches with his arms folded, struggling to keep his instincts contained. Wonwoo looks down at them, a sort of unpleasant sneer on his face; those two idiotic alphas made their flower cry again and none of them are happy with it. They stay where they're standing anyway.

When Joshua stops crying so hard, Jeonghan tenderly wiping away his tears with a soft croon, Jihoon clears his throat.

“I think we should talk,” he says quietly, and everyone looks to him. He doesn’t seem disgruntled or mad (not obviously so, anyway), just concerned and expectant. Joshua stands quickly, wiping his eyes with his sleeve and sniffling a little. Jeonghan and Seungcheol seem slightly surprised by his immediate response, but follow anyway.

A slight frown crosses their features when Joshua sits back down next to Wonwoo, pressing his side to the younger’s in a silent plea for comfort and familiarity. Wonwoo takes his hand gently, giving a brief squeeze. Mingyu moves to sit down on the omega’s other side, draping an arm over his shoulders with a slightly challenging look, as though daring the older alphas to point it out.

They don’t, instead pulling two chairs to sit across from them. Jihoon perches on the arm of the couch while the others slowly circle around, silent and imposing.

“So,” Soonyoung begins, sounding uncharacteristically serious. “I think you two should start by telling us why you had to leave for another week. Did you know that it hurts him? Did you even consider trying to bring him with you so he wouldn’t suffer? Do you know how much pain he’s in if you two are away from him for too long?”

“Someone roped us into something and if we left then, it would have ended badly for the company we work for. Trust me, it was never our intention to spend so long away and if we had any other choice we would have come home sooner,” Seungcheol sighs, running a hand through messy black hair.

“And...we know that it hurts, but we never thought it would get this bad,” Jeonghan confesses in a small voice, looking down at his hands. “We don’t want to bring you with us because we don’t want you to get overwhelmed, sweetheart, we just didn’t want you to go through the stress,” Jeonghan adds, looking fleetingly up at Joshua.

The oldest omega is silent, staring at Jeonghan until the alpha looks back down.

“...Doesn’t it hurt for you too?” he finally asks in a quiet, strangled voice, almost desperate, one hand reaching up to brush against the scars on his neck. Mingyu hugs him a little closer to his side, humming low in his chest.

Jeonghan and Seungcheol look a little surprised by the question, and by Mingyu's behavior. Simultaneously, their hands reach up to echo his motion.

“...A little,” Seungcheol mumbles after a second of silence. “Just a little sting. Usually I don’t even notice it because Hannie’s with me, but now that you say it…” He trails off uncertainly, eyes filling with guilt again. Joshua looks back down at his and Wonwoo’s interlaced fingers, falling silent.

“Second, how much of Joshua’s past do you know?” Jihoon prompts tightly, and Mingyu and Wonwoo feel Joshua stiffen between them, the omega drawing in a shaky inhale. He doesn’t say anything though, and the pair press closer to him.

“...? I mean, we know where he grew up, what schools he went to, what stuff he did when he was younger…” Jeonghan seems confused by the question, shooting Seungcheol a curious look.

The others in the room exchange a cryptic glance that has the two oldest alphas even more anxious.

“...We’re missing something, aren’t we,” Jeonghan says quietly, and Chan can’t help but let a scathing hiss escape him.

“Yeah, no shit. You missed something pretty damn big,” he growls, and though he normally never swore at anyone older than him, they could feel the suppressed anger build around him.

“Chan, calm down, we’re getting to that,” Jihoon shoots, and reluctantly, Chan reigns himself in to grumpy glares and huffs of anger. Bewildered, the two oldest look from him to Jihoon, surprised that the normally calm, respectful younger alpha would suddenly snap like that.

Jihoon stands up, ignoring their surprise. “Wonwoo, Jun, come with me. We’re going to explain this the best we can,” he says shortly. “You two, follow me.” He looks at the two alphas and his words are a command even they hurry to follow. They scramble to stand and trail after the three omegas into a different room, all of whom brush a comforting hand against some part of Joshua's body on the way out.

When they're gone, Joshua smushes himself to Mingyu, breaths uneven, and the alpha tugs him into his lap, wrapping strong arms around his waist to try and calm his trembling. Minghao curls up next to them, cooing reassuringly. He presses loving kisses to the faintly shaking omega’s cheek, and hesitantly, Joshua turns so Minghao can kiss him properly. He looks quite guilty as he does though, but before he can act on that unease Minghao shushes him.

“If they want to keep you to themselves, I want at least a couple more kisses because you are really nice to kiss. Don’t feel bad, flower, nothing bad will happen to you. Jihoon and Wonwoo and Junnie will make sure of that.” Joshua looks at him with slightly red eyes, a little disbelieving, but lets Minghao kiss him again anyway. When he pulls away he turns to lightly kiss Mingyu too, and the others coo, each of them wanting to get one more kiss in, one Joshua is very willing to let them have.

“I’m scared, Hao, I don’t want them to beat themselves up about this for too long,” he murmurs softly into the fabric of the younger’s sweatshirt once he finishes. Minghao stops himself from snorting.

“They kinda deserve it, though,” Chan grumbles from the floor. Seokmin gives him a light, reproachful kick in the side.

“Don’t worry, kitten, I’m sure things will be ok. They do need to see that what they did was kind of a big fuck-up though. But it'll be ok,” Mingyu soothes. “Still, they need to know that what happened should never happen again. They need to see their mistakes. It might take them a while to forgive themselves but as long as they pay more attention to you then things should be alright.”

“...I don’t want to make them feel guilty though,” Joshua mumbles in a small voice. Minghao sighs softly because it’s so typical of Joshua to forgive whoever has done him wrong, no matter what it was, very quickly. He pets back the older’s hair, humming in the back of his throat.

“I’m sure it will be ok. And if it isn’t, well...you have us, flower. Nothing will ever change that.”

“...I know,” Joshua whispers, sounding a little happier, and they smile, Mingyu and Minghao cuddling him close.

Still, they can’t shake the unease creeping around them, a looming, ominous presence lurking in the shadows.

Chapter Text

Jihoon stares at the two alphas as they sit awkwardly on the guest room bed, already small eyes narrowed further. Outwardly, he’s calm, composed, arms folded neatly and posture relaxed.

Inwardly, he’s seething. Seeing the two alphas had sent his protective instincts into overdrive, screaming at him to get their precious flower away from the sources of his pain. Even though he wasn’t an alpha himself, he thought he had every right to be protective. But he held himself back (though only just) and let the three of them reconnect. Joshua, despite his pain, still longed for his alphas, and Jihoon, no matter how much he wanted to, wasn’t going to begrudge him that chance.

But now that they’re alone, the sadistic little omega in Jihoon is purring to avenge his flower, telling him to “just give them what they deserve for hurting Shua”. He can smell their guilt and unease and he’s a little scared of himself for how amused that makes him.

He inwardly shakes his head. He has a job to do, and despite what they had done, Jeonghan and Seungcheol were still his friends. But, he still wants to do something, anything to show them just how much they’ve fucked up, so he goes for a milder approach.

He takes short, quick steps towards Seungcheol, humming to get the alpha to look at him. He can see the regret swimming in Seungcheol’s eyes, and it almost makes him pleased. Almost, because instead it just kinda makes him sad. But when he knows he has Seungcheol’s full attention, he moves.

Quick as a dart, his hand flashes out and makes solid contact with Seungcheol’s cheek, the sound reverberating around the room with a satisfying noise. The force of it makes Seungcheol’s head turn, and for a split second, no one moves. Jun and Wonwoo say absolutely nothing, Seungcheol looks far too stunned to react, and Jeonghan’s eyes widen.

But the younger alpha leaps to his feet after that brief hesitation, indignation filling his scent.

“Don’t you dare-” He’s cut off by Jihoon, face impassive, slapping him as well, and despite being taller and stronger than the small omega, Jeonghan still takes a staggering step backwards, fingers rising to ghost across his cheek. Again, no one moves, but for a longer stretch of time.

Then, voice low and hoarse, Seungcheol speaks.

“...We deserved that,” he mumbled, cupping his cheek and rubbing it hesitantly. Jeonghan, all anger gone, sits back down, nodding in ashamed agreement.

“Yes, you did,” Jihoon says simply, folding his arms again. “God, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to do that.” He pauses and takes a deep breath, but he isn't done yet. He’s nowhere near being done.

“I cannot possibly tell you,” he begins slowly, eyes burning as they glare at the two alphas, “how much you fucked up. Do you even know what he’s been through? Do you even care? You don’t- you haven’t been giving him an adequate amount of attention for weeks! I’m not going to sugarcoat it: you were the ones who caused all of this. Because of your neglect, however unintentional it may have been, Joshua suffered, the likes of which you should be glad you will never experience.

“Because of you, he cried until he couldn’t anymore. Because of you, he started to believe that no one wanted him. Because of you, he went into a stress heat a full week early because he was so damn desperate for you to come back and take care of him. Because of you, he was hurting, and that’s something I’m not going to forgive so easily."

“You should have done better,” comes Wonwoo’s voice next, low and flat. “I understand that sometimes work makes things hectic, but which is more important: your jobs, or your own goddamn mate? Could you not feel his pain through your bond? How could you have been so blind so as to not see the damage you were causing? You messed up, you two, and now things aren’t going to be so easy.” He stands up, all six feet of him, drawing his frame up, and if none of them knew better, they'd definitely think he was an alpha.

"How long has it been since you gave him a proper amount of attention? Go on, tell me," he orders, and Jeonghan and Seungcheol can't even look at him. Wonwoo sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose before he looks up again, gaze somehow even sharper. "This is the problem. You can't- you can't just keep leaving him on his own like this! He can take care of himself just fine but not when your absences are putting him in pain! When we first found him he was begging for you to come back to him. He was terrified that you didn't love him and didn't want him, and do you know how hard it was to hear him talk like that? Joshua never, ever did anything to deserve such pain and yet here we are." His voice drops to a scathing hiss and even Jihoon looks slightly unsettled. "Why didn't you do anything? Why didn't you talk to him? He doesn't deserve to be neglected like that."

“We- we know that,” Seungcheol mumbles, but that makes Jihoon explode.

Then why didn’t you do something about it?” he damn near shrieks, throwing his hands up in the air and advancing towards the two alphas, very tempted to slap them again. “You should have noticed that you being separated was causing him physical and emotional pain! He’s told you before, right? That it hurts when you’re gone? Did you just ignore it like you ignored him for so long?!”

“We weren’t ignoring him!” Finally, Jeonghan fights back a little, but the guilt heavily lacing his tone speaks volumes about his desperation. “I promise you that, we would never ignore him. I just- it doesn’t hurt too bad when I’m with Seungcheol, so I assumed it wouldn’t be that bad for Shua either-”

“That’s the problem; you assumed,” Jun hums, voice both oddly serious and oddly casual. “You took him for granted when he needed you most. Did you ever really talk about it with him? About the whole situation with you guys being away for so long? You never should have left him in the first place.” His words were wise, almost gentle, but still tinged with a sort of protective unhappiness and disappointment. "He loves you so, so much. Far more than you deserve. He trusted you, and now I don't think he can trust you no matter how much he wants to. He just wanted you to care about him. This...didn't end well for anyone, especially for Shua."

“I know that, we know that now,” Jeonghan fires back, voice edged with a sob as he stands up to pace back and forth, hands running through his hair like he wants to tear it out. “I know we messed up, and I know you have every right to be mad at us, and I’m mad at myself too. I won’t- I’m not going to forgive myself for what we did to him. We never meant for it to end like this.”

“We know you didn’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that it happened,” Jihoon says shortly, but his anger is starting to fade, back into something mildly unhappy. Jeonghan stills in the middle of the room and curses violently under his breath, hands tightly gripping his long hair, and for a second all of them are afraid that he’ll just start crying. Seungcheol seems to fear this the most and stands up to pull his alpha mate into his arms, cooing softly even though his own voice shakes.

“Please, if there’s one thing I want to come from all this, I just want my baby to be ok,” Jeonghan finally says, and his voice is so unsteady, his eyes glistening with tears. The three omegas exchange a look, and Jihoon just sort of deflates, burning anger melting into a sort of muted tiredness.

“We all want him to be ok,” he sighs, folding his arms. “We want all of... this, ” he makes a vague gesture, addressing all of them in the room and those beyond, “to be ok again. We’re still kinda pissed, but you do look genuinely guilty.”

“Trust me, we are,” Seungcheol murmurs for the first time in a while, voice hoarse. Jihoon had been concerned and unimpressed with his silence and relative passivity, but if he looks closer, he can tell that Seungcheol is relentlessly beating himself up inside his head. He sighs to himself, waving a hand for Seungcheol to continue. “We’re...sorry, to all of you. For doing what we did without realizing it. I know that’s no excuse, and I know it’ll never be enough, but...we’re so, so sorry.”

Something in Jihoon relaxes, and his angry inner omega settles, placated. He nods once or twice thoughtfully, looking down at the floor.

“We aren’t really the ones you need to be apologizing too, but thank you for the apology. All you can do now is try to make things better. But first...let’s talk about some...things.” He exchanges a look with Wonwoo, who gives him an imperceptible nod.

"Ok, first order of business: we had Mingyu and Soonyoung help take care of Joshua's heat," Jun says primly. All three of the omegas are suddenly hit with a wave of angry alpha pheromones, but they remain composed, still and calm as Jeonghan's temper visibly grows.

"You had them do what?" he hisses, rising to stand, but Wonwoo cuts him off.

"You don't get to talk!" Wonwoo shoots back, his voice sharp and unforgiving. "He was in some really bad pain, and it only would have gotten worse if we left him unattended. We had to. Besides, you lost all right to care about who fucks him the moment he started crying because of you. His stress heat- which, by the way, I should remind you, was your fault in the first place- was going to get worse before it got better, and we had to take care of him somehow. If you'd seen him, you would have understood. I don't expect you to know how it feels, but let me tell you: it hurts like fuck to go through a stress heat. It's nothing like a normal heat, and without Mingyu or Soonyoung it would have gone on longer, and it would have been worse. Would you rather we simply leave him to suffer? Maybe if you'd been there for Joshua in the first place, none of this would have happened." His words are pointed, meant to make the two alphas feel guilty, and it certainly has the intended effect. Jeonghan and Seungcheol exchange another look, and slowly, Jeonghan sits down again.

"He doesn't love you any less just because he needed help," Wonwoo says more gently, though his voice is still stern. "He's your mate, first and foremost, and you need to treat him like one. If you can't be there for him, then we need to work something out so the rest of us can help. Don't be one of those stupid territorial alphas; be reasonable. If you really have to leave, then we should be allowed to help."

"We should talk about that with everyone else," Jun cuts in carefully, and after a second Wonwoo nods. It takes Seungcheol and Jeonghan a little longer to agree, but they also nod after a minute or two of silence.

"Second order... You don't know much about Shua's past, do you?" Jihoon tries his damned hardest to keep his voice from shaking, but there's still a tiny, tiny quiver, and he hates that.

"...Where's this going?" Seungcheol asks hesitantly, like he half doesn't want to know the answer. Jihoon takes another deep breath, drumming his fingers against his arm, trying to figure out where to start. Just thinking about it gives him chills and he wonders at how Joshua managed to hold it all back for so long. 

“...I guess I should start with when Shua was 17,” he begins, very slowly, almost hesitantly. Instantly, confusion covers the two alpha’s faces.

“When he was 17? What does that have to do with it? I mean, granted, Shua like, never really talks about when he was 17 and 18 but what happened then?” Jeonghan prompts, shame bleeding into confused curiosity.

“We met him when he was what, one month away from turning 19, right?” Seungcheol says softly, eyes misting with fondness. “He was so shy and flighty; it was adorable…”

Jihoon, Jun, and Wonwoo exchange a slightly uncomfortable glance. They know that with their next words they’re going to shatter Jeonghan and Seungcheol's image of their omega having a peaceful past, but it can’t be avoided.

“Have you ever wondered why Joshua never really talks about his past?” Jun asks, very, very softly, so quietly the two alphas almost don’t hear him. It’s Jeonghan and Seungcheol’s turn to exchange another look, starting to become slightly suspicious. Jihoon takes another deep breath, eyes traveling to the ceiling.

“Well, brace yourselves, ‘cause you’re not gonna like what you hear,” he begins quietly, closing his eyes to fight off the sting of unwanted tears.

Chapter Text

When Jihoon finishes explaining with Jun and Wonwoo’s help, the two oldest alphas are completely silent and deathly pale. They stare, unblinking at the small omega, no words coming to their lips.

“That’s why you need to be gentle with him,” Jun says softly. “When we were helping him, he asked us to be gentle. He told us what you said to him the night before you left. He’s afraid of the pain.” He isn’t trying to be mean, he’s just pointing it out, but his words make Jeonghan look as though someone told him his mother died and Seungcheol simply stares, mouth slightly open, eyes comically wide. Or at least, it would have been comical if the situation wasn’t so bad.

“Oh my god, what have we done,” Jeonghan finally whispers, putting his face in his hands. Seungcheol weakly puts a hand on his shoulder, but can’t find anything to say.

“I’m not gonna lie, you kinda fucked up. Big time,” Jihoon says flatly, folding his arms. Jeonghan and Seungcheol wince and his face softens. “But you still love him and he still loves you, a lot. Enough to endure your absences for so long without complaining. You better make it up to him.”

How?” Jeonghan says in a strained voice, looking ready to tear his own hair out from running his hands through it too many times. “If I was him, I wouldn’t forgive me at all-”

“Yeah, some of us share the same sentiment. But we can’t tell you how to do it. You have to sort it out with him.” Wonwoo’s voice, though it started sharp, turned somewhat kinder as he spoke.

Seungcheol nods, eyes turning determined. The scent of his and Jeonghan’s guilt still hung heavy in the air, but alongside it was protective affection.

“I do have one question though,” he says slowly and Jihoon makes a prompting sort of noise.

“What’s the whole deal with him and...the rest of you? He’s covered in your scents.” There’s a slight hint of possessiveness in his tone and Wonwoo snorts quietly.

“Yeah, why do you think? When we got here, the whole place didn’t smell like you or him at all. The only place that smelled like him was the bedroom, so we just scented the whole place so it didn’t smell so empty.”

“And we cuddled with him and helped him through his heat, so I’m not surprised,” Jun chuckles softly. Seungcheol and Jeonghan frown a little and Jihoon stands up straighter, expression turning serious.

“Ok, listen. Last thing. I don’t want to make it seem like we’re going to fight you for or over him, but if this ever, ever happens again, if I see the slightest indication that Joshua is unhappy because of you two, if any of the rest of us ever have to see him cry because you fucked up, then we won’t let you have him back. We love him just as much as you do and we will do anything we can to make sure he’s happy. I don’t care that you’re his ‘official’ mates or any of that bullshit. If you can’t take care of him, then we will, because trust us, we are more than happy to love him if you can’t.”

His harsh words left a ringing silence. Seungcheol and Jeonghan stared at him as though they couldn’t quite process what he’d said.

“If you’ll let us, we can share him,” Jun adds in an oh-so soft voice. “He has a remarkable way of getting people to fall for him so quickly.”

“All- all of you?” Jeonghan asks with a stunned, slightly hysterical little chuckle. Wonwoo nods. The alpha let out a wheezing, breathless noise, half defeated and half disbelieving.

“God, we messed up so bad, haven’t we,” he mumbles in a resigned sort of way. Jihoon relents and pats his shoulder.

“We won’t take him from you, not unless we need to, but I doubt you’ll get to that point. All I’m saying is, we all have the same goal, really. We all just wanna love him and keep him happy. You want that, right?”

“At the moment? More than anything,” Seungcheol answers instantly. “But…”

“Yeah, I know, unconventional and surprising, spare me the lecture. Just...talk it out with him first. You have a lot to make up for.” Without waiting for an answer, Jihoon ushers them back out the door and into the living room, where Joshua is half in Mingyu’s lap, getting pet by Hansol, smiling and giggling a little at something Seungkwan's saying.

He freezes once they walk back in though, and a slightly guilty look crosses over his face.

“Shua, sweetheart, can we talk?” Seungcheol asks gently, moving forward and holding out his hand, hoping beyond hope Joshua will take it. For a moment, Joshua just stares at him. Then he glances up at Mingyu, who hums encouragement and lightly nudges the older off of his legs to stand up, nuzzling his cheek as reassurance. It makes another frown flicker briefly over Seungcheol’s face and Joshua avoids looking up at him. Jeonghan begins to see what Jihoon meant when he said they all loved Joshua.

But Joshua still takes Seungcheol’s hand, hesitantly letting the older tug him along to their room. No one follows except Jeonghan, and when they finally close the door behind them, the room feels oddly empty to the omega.

“Joshua,” Jeonghan begins slowly to fill the silence. His voice is soft and a little weak and Joshua feels bad for making them feel guilty. He looks up reluctantly to see Jeonghan watching him with a gaze so profoundly regretful and loving at the same time that Joshua finds he can’t look away. Not even when Jeonghan moves towards him, not even when he feels a pair of arms wrap around him loosely.

Baby,” Jeonghan whispers, and his voice breaks, eyes glistening with unshed tears. One of his hands reaches up to cup Joshua’s cheek, thumb gently rubbing over his skin with a tenderness the omega hasn’t felt from him in a while. Seungcheol is a silent presence behind Jeonghan, expression a little hard to read. Joshua panics a little inside at his blank look, but he takes a slow inhale and realizes there's fear in the air. Seungcheol is...afraid. Of what? Him? Losing him?

A little bubble of hope blossoms in Joshua's chest.

“We love you, baby, we love you so much,” Jeonghan says in a barely-audible voice, pressing his forehead to Joshua’s. “We are so, so sorry for leaving you alone like we did and for not staying with you long enough. We’re so sorry we didn’t see how bad it was hurting you. We should have paid more attention, we should have tried harder to show you just how much you mean to us. We should have tried harder to be better mates-” Joshua’s finger on his lips effectively shuts him up.

“Stop- just…stop,” Joshua mumbles, and their hearts seem to freeze. This was what had terrified them ever since Jihoon contacted them. The worst case scenario that they had lost sleep over. The fear of losing Joshua, of him hating them (and rightfully so, Seungcheol thinks bitterly), only increases with every second of silence Joshua spends not speaking.

Then Joshua sighs, putting his forehead against Jeonghan’s chest so he doesn’t have to look at them. He stares at Jeonghan's shoes, trying to think out a proper sentence. He doesn't want to hear their excuses or apologies. Words were nice, but it didn't take his tears or his pain away, and Joshua didn't want to let Jeonghan blubber for too long, lest he end up just going in circles.

“...I was scared. I was scared that one day you were going to leave me alone for good. I felt like you didn’t need me because you two always seemed so perfect together. I wasn’t mad, I could never be mad at you, but...I was worried you didn’t want me,” he murmurs, voice very quiet. At this point, he's just...tired. Tired of being lonely, tired of feeling anxious, just so, so tired of hurting. Jeonghan hugs him close, holding him as tight as he can without hurting his omega.

“No, sweetheart, we would never abandon you. We want you and we need you, we really do. Without you...I don’t even wanna think about it,” Jeonghan says quickly, voice quiet and full of sincerity. “I’m so sorry you had to feel that way, and I’m sorry we were the reason why.”

“I was the one who agreed to stay,” Seungcheol admits, voice torn up with regret. Joshua can still smell fear rolling off of him, thick and kind of bitter on his tongue. “I never should have gone off the plan. I didn’t know how badly it hurt you to be away from us for so long and I’ll never forgive myself for what I put you through.”

“Never again,” Jeonghan promises in a shaky voice. “We won’t ever let you be alone for so long ever again.”

“That is...if you still would let us love you,” Seungcheol adds, even softer. “You have every right to be mad at us, and I know we’ve royally fucked up, but...we still love you, sweetheart, we always will. If you’ll let us, then we won’t ever let you suffer again. If not, then...then we’ll just...let you do what you want.”

Joshua blinks at him, slightly surprised. Are they really just going to let him go like that? No fighting for his affection? No angry words directed at the others? He honestly doesn't know what to think, so he puts his head back on Jeonghan's chest and closes his eyes, taking a deep inhale.

"Just...give me a second," he mumbles, and Jeonghan hums, petting his hair with a shaking hand.

Joshua thinks. On one hand, Jeonghan and Seungcheol are finally home and the mated part of him is currently screaming to cuddle with them and let them love him like they were supposed to, bask in their scents and their warmth and be happy.

The other part of him is...uncertain. Not scared, per say, but unsure. He loves his alphas, he knows that much, he loves them so, so much, but...but he doesn't want to hurt again. Jeonghan and Seungcheol are promising to love him, but, and Joshua hates himself for doubting them, what if it happens again? What will he do then? And what about the others? Can he still love them? He wants to. He knows he can love all of them. He does. He loves them all.

So he takes a deep breath and looks at them, really looks at them, long and hard. Their faces hold different expressions: Jeonghan's one of worried panic and desperation, Seungcheol's more subtle fear and apprehension. Joshua still doesn't like it when they look sad. He looks back down at his feet and takes another deep breath.

"I think...we need to talk a lot about a lot of things," he begins slowly. "But...I love you. And that won't ever change no matter what you do." He looks up at them, and the most prominent emotion is surprise. "I don't like what you did. I don't like feeling so vulnerable and in pain like that. It- it hurt. I thought you might abandon me, and that was- that was not fun. But you're here now, and you've apologized, and Junnie and Jihoon and Wonu told you what happened, and...and I don't see why we have to be sad anymore. I love you, and you love me, and you know better now right?"

The two alpha blink at him for a second, stunned by his careful, thoughtful words.

"Of- of course, baby," Jeongan finally mumbles, petting his hair again. "Nothing like that will ever happen again. We promise. If, somehow, something like this comes up again, slap us. As hard as you can." He won't ever let Joshua get hurt because of them ever again. Never. Seungcheol nods agreement.

Joshua lets out a small giggle at that, reaching to cup Jeonghan's cheek. There's a faint, hand-shaped red mark and he makes a note to ask about it later. But only later; right now, he just wants to be held and cuddled and loved and taken care of.

"Promise you won't leave me?" he whispers, a little smile on his face, and Jeonghan immediately nods, hugging him close, face buried in his hair. Seungcheol, the scent of his fear receding, scoops them both into his arms, his embrace protective and familiar and warm. Joshua melts into it. "Then I forgive you."

“We don’t deserve you,” Seungcheol eventually says, taking one of Joshua’s hands, his own shaky.

“Funny,” Joshua laughs softly, leaning his head against Jeonghan’s chest. “I was thinking the same about you two. Ironic, how things turn out, don’t they?”

“You deserve the world, sweetheart,” Jeonghan murmurs, petting his hair. “But you don’t deserve the way we treated you. I’m sorry for-”

His eyes widen as Joshua gently presses their lips together, a half-smile on his face.

“Stop apologizing,” is all he says when he pulls away, a little triumphant smile on his face. Jeonghan huffs out a breathless, rueful laugh, cupping his cheek.

“Can I kiss you again? Please?”

“You don’t have to ask, idiot,” Joshua grins, closing his eyes as Jeonghan hesitantly kisses him again. And again and again until both of them are giggling and a little out of breath.

“I love you, I love you, I love you so much,” Jeonghan chuckles happily, nuzzling his omega’s cheek and leaving smooches all over his face. “You’re everything we could ever ask for. Kind and loving and beautiful. I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Joshua smiles, trying not to laugh at Jeonghan’s ticklish kisses. He feels a squeeze on his hand and looks over to see Seungcheol, still watching them silently, an adorably hopeful sort of look on his face.

“And I also love you,” he hums softly, turning in Jeonghan's arms to look at Seungcheol. Carefully, he cups the older’s cheek, smile turning soft. “Please, don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m ok now. I don’t like what you did and you acknowledge that, so I don’t see why you have to keep feeling bad. I love you, Seungcheol, I always will, and I don’t want you to feel bad because of me.”

All Seungcheol can do is look into those gentle brown eyes that he loves so much, so full of affection and forgiveness and earnest reassurance that he feels tears well up in his own eyes.

“Don’t you dare cry,” Joshua whispers, smile growing. “I’ve done enough of that these past two weeks for all of us.”

“I love you,” is all he manages to choke out before he hears Joshua chuckle lightly and tilt his face up to kiss him.

“I love you too,” his omega murmurs back, slightly more serious but no less loving. “And nothing you can do can ever change that.” He says the words against Seungcheol’s lips, eyes flicking up to his.

“What did we do to somehow get you to love us?” Seungcheol chuckles in slight disbelief, wrapping his arms snugly around Joshua’s waist. The younger smiles.

“You existed. That’s good enough for me.” Seungcheol lays a kiss in his hair, holding him tightly.

“Fuck, I love you so much, I feel like such an idiot,” he huffs up at the ceiling, trying not to cry.

“Don’t,” Joshua reprimands gently, flicking his bicep. “It’s ok now. Well, I guess we should talk about...some stuff, but for now it’s ok. I’m ok.”

“You sure sweetheart? Does it hurt anywhere?” Jeonghan hums worriedly, coming up behind him to wrap his arms around Joshua’s chest. After a moment, the younger tilts his head a little to the side, exposing the bite he left.

“Just a little bit,” Joshua assures when Jeonghan makes another worried noise.

“We’ll make it go away,” Jeonghan murmurs, lips on his skin and gently kissing along the still slightly reddish scars. Joshua shivers at the sensation, then lets out a long, slow sigh, relaxing in their embrace. The sting that had accompanied him ever since they left finally went away, leaving only a pleasant tingling sensation where Jeonghan’s lips met his throat. Meanwhile, Seungcheol peppers his face with more kisses, whispering soft words of love.

Pressed between them, Joshua feels content, truly content, for the first time in almost three weeks. He lets go of Seungcheol’s hand to splay his hands over the older’s chest, humming happily and closing his eyes, basking in the affection the other two were giving him.

“I can’t smell us on you at all,” Jeonghan says quietly after a while, nuzzling his neck and rubbing his cheek all over Joshua’s. “Just a lot of the others. Your hair smells like Hansol, weirdly enough.” The omega tensed up, but Jeonghan didn’t sound mad.

“We’ll have to thank them for taking care of you. Extensively,” Seungcheol puts in. Jeonghan murmurs agreement, continuing to rub his rosy scent back onto Joshua’s neck. “But now I just want you to smell like us again.”

“By all means,” Joshua chuckles, tilting his head back so both of them can scent him, filling the room with the smell of roses and rain. “Sol was petting me earlier, that’s probably why,” he adds in a dreamy half-purr to Jeonghan, feeling a little intoxicated by their scents. Jeonghan says nothing, but hums acknowledgement, still fixed on showering Joshua’s neck in kisses.

It’s Seungcheol who pulls away first, delicately leaving one last kiss on his lips before biting his own, hemming and hawing over what he wanted to say.

“...Cheol? What is it?” Joshua blinks at him, starting to feel a little worried. Jeonghan too, pauses to look up at the oldest, eyebrow raised.

“I just...I don’t know how I should say this…”

“Just say it,” Joshua prompts gently, tugging the three of them to sit on the bed. “It’s ok.”

Seungcheol sighs, gently taking Joshua’s hands and inspecting them. Dainty and long-fingered, they fit perfectly in his own. He had always liked Joshua’s hands, how gentle and pretty they were. He runs a thumb over his knuckles, still working out how to phrase the words in his head.

“I suppose this is more of a question, but...the others? Do you love them?” The question slips out and Seungcheol immediately regrets asking, a chorus of “fuck, you’ve ruined it now” shouting in his mind, but he doesn’t take his words back. He has to know. Jeonghan stills on his other side and Seungcheol knows the long-haired alpha is curious as well.

Joshua’s hands flinch slightly in his, and as he watches there’s a flicker of panic that crosses his omega’s face. However, his eyes glint with a determined sort of look as well. The words he breathes next are not ones Seungcheol expects.

“And if I do? Will you hate me? Will you keep me to yourselves? Or…” Joshua looks up, eyes glittering strangely in the light with unreadable emotions, almost defiant. “Will you share me?” His voice is barely above a whisper but the other two hear him loud and clear.

For long, long moments they stare at each other in a sort of silent standoff, Joshua’s eyes flicking from Jeonghan’s to Seungcheol’s, daring them to tell him wrong.

“Sweetheart,” Jeonghan murmurs eventually, reaching out to cup his cheek. “It’s not our right to tell you who you can and can’t love. We love you, and if it makes you happy, you can do whatever you want. We could never hate you. I know we messed up but if they can make you happy we don’t mind at all.” Seungcheol nods slowly in agreement, feeling a little dazed.

Joshua lets out a pent-up breath, then a soft chuckle. It grows until he’s laughing uncontrollably, flinging himself to hug the oldest alpha. Even while he laughs, there’s tears spilling out of his eyes, ones Jeonghan hurries to dry.

“Sweetheart? Are- are you ok?” A little panicked, Seungcheol hugs him back, not at all sure why he would suddenly start laughing.

“I’m- I love you so much,” Joshua says breathlessly between giggles. “I love them but I love you too. Both of you. All of them. I’m not just going to stop loving you. If I can love the two of you then I can love all of you. I think I can handle giving affection to 12 other people. I never said I can’t love all of you.”

“You certainly have a heart big enough,” Jeonghan smiles softly, almost a little sadly. “You always did have so much love to give.”

“‘One of the nice things about me’, didn’t you tell me once?” Joshua grins back. Seungcheol finds it in himself to laugh a little, running his hands over Joshua’s back gently.

“Indeed. I was just worried because Jihoon sort of threatened to steal you from us if we fucked up again, which, I have to admit, is fair, I suppose.”

“Typical Jihoon,” Jeonghan snorts. Joshua laughs again and the older two smile at the pretty sound. Aggressively, Joshua dries his eyes, burying his face into Seungcheol’s shoulder.

“Can we just...cuddle for a while? It feels like forever since we’ve last just sat and cuddled,” Joshua asks in a soft hum, and despite their omega’s comforting words, the alphas still feel a ping of guilt in their chests.

“Of course, sweetheart,” Jeonghan coos quietly, moving to hug Joshua from his other side. Seungcheol pulls the omega into his lap, and Joshua settles against his chest. It’s a natural, familiar position, if not a long-overdue one. In silence, they sit, Joshua listening to Seungcheol’s heartbeat under his ear, Jeonghan petting his hair, and Seungcheol simply holding him, one hand intertwined with Joshua’s.

“We love you so much, Joshua, more than we could ever say with words. I want you to know that. We love you and we would never leave you. You do deserve us, and you do deserve everyone else. You are beautiful and kind and you are loved. So loved. I’m sorry we made you doubt that, sweetheart, but we will tell you everyday and hold you as long as you need until you believe that,” Jeonghan murmurs gently.

Joshua turns his head to look at him, really look at him like he’s never looked at Jeonghan before.

“...I know. I love you too, Hannie. And I love you too, Cheol,” he adds, looking up into Seungcheol’s soft doe eyes, pitch black but warm with affection. He pulls the older down for a little kiss, breathing in his scent with a deep breath. “I know we need to talk about...all this," he makes a vague circling motion with his hands, "sometime soon, but...just...please don’t leave me again.” His voice turns soft, and immediately they nod.

“Never again,” Seungcheol says firmly. “You can come with us if you want. We can bring you to wonderful places and show you things worthy of your eyes. We won’t leave you like that ever again. We promise.”

“I hold you to that then. I’ve always wanted to travel,” Joshua chuckles, kissing him again to ease the tension he can see in Seungcheol’s eyes. “Relax. I’m not mad.”

“...We still feel kinda bad,” Jeonghan snorts dryly, putting his head on Seungcheol’s shoulder. Joshua rolls his eyes with a dramatic, world-weary sigh.

“Shush. Cuddle time.”

“As you wish, sweetheart,” Jeonghan giggles, kissing the top of his head fondly. They fall silent again, just...sitting there and letting the pain of the past few weeks (both physically and mentally) fade away. They still had things to discuss: Joshua’s past, the others downstairs, and what would happen with all of them in the future, but they could leave that for another day.

For now, all they want to do is hold each other close, bask in the warm feelings filling their hearts, and silently show just how much they love each other.

 


 

Then Joshua pauses, stiffening and sitting up to get a good look at his alpha’s faces.

“...Did Jihoon slap you?” The slightly uncomfortable, sheepish silence is enough to send Joshua into another fit of giggles, and his laughter makes Jeonghan and Seungcheol smile, especially when Joshua presses loving kisses to their faintly red cheeks.

“All better,” Joshua chuckles, and he means it in more than one way. He settles comfortably in their arms again, a soft, happy smile on his face.

Chapter Text

The next day, Joshua calls everyone over and situates them in the living room, perching himself on the arm of Mingyu's chair so he can see everyone. The tall alpha looks quite pleased at this and Joshua gives him a small smile. Jeonghan and Seungcheol blink at them, more curious than upset, which makes Joshua a little relieved.

"So," he begins, giving them all a look, "I think we should talk for a bit. If this is gonna work, then all of you are going to need to work with each other. If you disagree, compromise until something works. If you can't do that, then I'm calling this whole arrangement off. I want you guys to get along. Got it?" His stern words, so unlike his normal soft, docile personality, make all of their eyes widen slightly. But they all nod, since losing Joshua is not high on their list of things they want to do. Joshua nods as well, giving them another long, slow look.

"I'll start with some ground rules. Number one: no fighting over me," he says simply, crossing his legs and plucking at them hem of his shirt. "I am yours if you want me, but I am not an object to be squabbled over. I'll do my best to give each of you an equal amount of attention, but please understand that there's only one of me and a whole lot of you." To ease the tension a little, he offers a shy smile, and they smile back. 

"Rule number two: talk to each other. Can't emphasize that enough. You all are old enough to handle your own shit with each other. If you want to make plans with me, please make sure I don't have something else going on, 'cause I really wouldn't like to cancel date night with any of you. Ok?" Again, they nodded, and Joshua hummed for a second, trying to think of anything else he wanted to add.

"Oh, rule number three: if you want out, that's perfectly alright. It's your choice and I won't try to stop you if you feel uncomfortable. Don't feel obligated to stay if you really don't want to."

"We'd never want to leave you though!" Seungkwan pipes up, and Joshua can feel his face heating up, especially when the others eagerly pitch in noises of agreement. "That's my two cents. Anyone wanna say something else?"

"I do," Seungcheol hums, holding up a hand. His face is relaxed, open, scent not so much disturbed as it is a little protective. All eyes turn to him, but he keeps looking at Joshua.

"First of all, I'm fine with..." he waves a hand around, "with all this, even if it is a little...unprecedented, but I don't wanna see any over-excessive...hoarding. We agree to share. Got it?" Everyone nods. "Good. Second, you can all help with his heats if we're not there, but I don't want him taking care of anyone's ruts unless it's mine or Hannie's."

"That's fair," Soonyoung hums, nodding thoughtfully. Mingyu nods as well, and Seungcheol smiles a little.

"Thank you. Lastly, I guess, just...no more secrets between us." His words are all-encompassing but his eyes are on Joshua, who nods imperceptibly. Then he looks at Jihoon, and his face turns into a weird mix of grumpy and reluctantly amused. "Now, I'm not saying this will ever happen again, and it won't if I can help it, but if something like it happens, don't be passive-aggressive little shits. Just tell us straight-out so we can fix the problem faster."

"Duly noted. It was still kinda satisfying," Jihoon shrugs, nodding to them. Seungcheol luckily cracks a smile and even Jeonghan looks away to hide a slightly ashamed grin.

"Well that's all I wanna say, so..." Seungcheol waves a hand, and for a second things are silent. Then Jihoon coughs.

"I know I already chewed you out yesterday, but I think having everyone in one room warrants this. This is the only time I'm going to tell you, but don't you dare hurt Shua again. Take him with you when you go places, and if you absolutely can't, tell us so we can stay with him. If you abandon him again you're gonna find that we won't let you have him back so easily. Capiche?" His words darken slowly, and everyone in the room can feel the heavy threat that comes with them. They know he's going to make good on that promise if it happens.

"We understand," Jeonghan murmurs quietly, eyes now fixed on the carpet in front of Jihoon's feet. The small omega nods, placated, and goes back to his regular imposing silence. Again, there was a quiet stretch.

"I'm still mad." The biting remark comes from Chan, sitting on the floor in front of Mingyu's chair, sharp eyes narrowed. "I think you got off way too easy. I mean, how could you let all that happen to your own goddamn mate and not notice?? Like, that's kind of a big thing to miss."

"I agree," Seungkwan puts in, looking incredibly displeased. "You two don't deserve Joshua's forgiveness, not at all. I don't even know why we're letting you stay here. For all I care, you two can fuck all the way off. If it weren't for Shua, I'm pretty sure half of us would be attacking you right now, and I wouldn't do anything to stop it." He looks up at the two alphas, pouty mouth set in a hard frown. 

Joshua looks down at the carpet, not bothering to interject. He feels weirdly calm, for some reason. He knows the others are mad at his alphas, and he can't tell them not to be mad. He'll let them blow off a little steam, but he'll stop it if things go too far. Plus, he was still a little upset, just a bit.

"Could you have been more oblivious?" Soonyoung huffs, all his usual energy gone, replaced by cold blankness. "If this had gone on any longer, I'm fairly certain Joshua could have quite literally died from your neglect, or at least become severely ill." That makes all of them wince, but none more so than Jeonghan and Seungcheol, who exchange a look but stay silent, quietly accepting their due. Joshua can smell anger start to rise in the room, and he tenses.

It's at that point that Minghao's dam bursts. He stands, fists clenched, eyes wide with fury. "How could you have done that to him?! Joshua didn't deserve any of that, and because of you, he was in such terrible pain and someway, somehow, you didn't notice at all! All of the shit he went through these past two weeks- it was all your fault! If you had been there for him in the first place, he wouldn't have suffered so badly!"

Joshua looks up, reaching a hand out to the beta. "Hao, that's enough," he says quietly, but Minghao cuts him off as gently as possible. 

"Flower, I love you, but let me do this," he insists shortly, turning back to Jeonghan and Seungcheol. Joshua opens his mouth to protest, but hesitates, closing his mouth again and lowering his hand, expression wary. Minghao takes a deep breath, his eyes burning with protective fire.

"I don't care who you were talking to or what you were doing. Your neglect is unforgivable and I'm not going to forget this happened. None of us are. Let me tell you, you came this close," he holds his index and thumb mere millimeters apart, "to being beat the fuck up by all of us, and trust me, we would make sure you knew you deserved it." His voice is so cold, harsh and protective and seething with anger. Jeonghan and Seungcheol shrink under the weight of his fury. 

"And did you really need to leave so close to his heat? You should have stayed to take care of him. What if it hit him earlier than usual? Well technically I guess it did but still. You know better than to leave mated omegas alone during their heats. Or alone at all. It hurts when we're away from our mates," Mingyu puts in more calmly, rubbing at the single bite scar on his neck. "Even if you're together, that's just going to make it worse for Shua. Especially because he has two mates. I doubt it's fun for any of you guys to be away from him for so long."

"..." All Jeonghan and Seungcheol can do is nod, ashamed and guilty, not looking at any of them. "We know we should have stayed, but-" Jeonghan is cut off by Chan standing up, absolutely seething.

"No! Don't make excuses for yourself. There is never any reason you should ever, ever knowingly put your loved ones in pain, for anything!!" he yells, throwing his hands up. The potent scent of angry alpha pheromones starts to fill the air, spicy ginger mixed with a protective kind of bitter, earthy tone. "I thought you two were better than this. We all did, and now look what happened! Shua got hurt because of you. If you had been there for him in the first place, none of this would have happened, but no, you assholes just made him suffer for two weeks straight while you fucked off and played dress-up with your fancy little company!!" He's shrieking now, cheeks flushed, and for a second all of them are stunned. Then Jeonghan stands up, eyes cold and defensive.

"Well maybe if you all hadn't been so fucking secretive about it, it would have been resolved faster!" he shoots back, and as the heavy anger-scent in the air grows thicker, Joshua whimpers very quietly, a little scared and a lot wary, moving to get up and stand between them, but Minghao holds an arm in front of his chest, eyes narrowed, his whole body tense.

It's a silent battle between two titans. Jeonghan's fiery tongue vs Chan's stubborn protectiveness, indignation radiating from their beings. It's suffocating, and Joshua sort of wants to start crying; the two look seconds away from going at each other's throats. He doesn't want them to fight, especially not because of him. Minghao's hand moves to rub circles into his shoulder, calming him a little.

Then Jeonghan sighs and deflates entirely, sitting back down and putting his head in his hands. Chan, for a second, looks triumphant, but his face quickly falls into tired, disappointed lines.

Then, oddly enough, he looks at Wonwoo and Mingyu.

The omega needs no more prompting than that to speak for all of them in the room.

"If you ever, ever hurt Shua like that again, then you'll find we won't be so lenient," Wonwoo says quietly, simply, expression dead-serious. His cheek was resting against his knuckles, and, long legs crossed, he looked like some kind of elegant, CEO movie villain. No one in the room speaks for several long, agonizing moments. Joshua looks back down at the floor, words crawling up his throat. He can't hold them back forever.

"I...don't want this to ever happen again," he begins softly, and all eyes snap to him. He keeps his gaze on the carpet. "No matter how much I love you, or how much you say you love me, if...if you hurt me again, then...then I'm not going to stop them. I don't care what you'll say to me if that happens. If it does, then I'm- I'm going to stay with them. I just-" He pauses and takes a deep breath, looking up at his alphas. "I just don't want to hurt anymore."

His words leave silence in their wake. Jeonghan and Seungcheol are an amusing mix of surprised and guilty, eyes wide. Minghao, Chan, and Seungkwan look pleased at his words, Wonwoo's face is unreadable, and everyone else just looks kind of tense. Joshua doesn't look away from his alpha's faces, jaw set, not really sure what to feel himself. 

Then Seungcheol moves. He stands up but then immediately kneels on the ground, touching his forehead to the carpet, bowing to him. 

"I'm so sorry," he whispers, his voice loud in the dead-silent room. "This is my fault, and I accept that. I'm sorry for the pain that I caused, and I will take anything you have to say." After a second, Jeonghan moves to copy him, murmuring similar words, his tone a little hoarse. Chan sits back down and doesn't look at them, expression almost...troubled, in a sad kind of way, like he doesn't want to be mad but can't help it.

Joshua blinks at his alphas in mild surprise. The oldest of their group, pretty much their leaders, they're...bowing to him. Apologizing and accepting the fact that what happened fell upon their shoulders without complaint or trying to wiggle their way out of punishment.

How was he supposed to react to that? He'd never had anyone...bow to him before. He was an omega, he didn't get bowed to. And yet, there Jeonghan and Seungcheol were, proud, strong alphas, bowing to their small, fragile omega. Joshua doesn't really know what to think, and he looks instinctively at Wonwoo, who merely watches him with a neutral gaze that asks well? What will you do now? It's your choice, flower.

Joshua looks down at his alphas, who haven't moved, and takes a deep breath, standing up from the chair. He walks over to Jeonghan and Seungcheol, looking down at the backs of their heads, and sighs quietly. He thinks there's only one thing to do, and he's gonna do it.

He drops down to his knees as well, and pulls the two alphas into a hug, holding them tightly. For once, he can be the one to comfort them. Just this once. Holding them is something he's missed, after all. 

Their bodies shake in his arms, and when Jeonghan looks up at him, the long-haired alpha looks three seconds away from all-out sobbing, tears running freely down his cheeks. "Why?" he cries shakily, like he has no idea how Joshua can still hold him after everything he did. Joshua just shushes him quietly, rubbing his back and petting his hair, trying to soothe him. Seungcheol is silent, letting out choked little sobs every now and then, and Joshua has to admit, he's a little surprised; he's never seen Seungcheol cry before. He doesn't like it. 

He murmurs soft words to them, pushing out soothing omega pheromones as much as he can, until he feels two pairs of arms wrap around his waist. When that happens, he smiles a little, poking them between the shoulder blades.

"Alright, stop crying, you big, dumb alphas. Stand up and go sit back down," he commands gently, but then his smile falls slightly, and his voice drops so only they can hear, more serious, a tiny bit pleading. "And don't you dare do this to me ever again, ok?" They instantly mumble assent, but Jeonghan looks up at him again with red, watery eyes. 

"Why?" he asks again in a whisper, and Joshua thinks for a second, looking up at the ceiling. Then he sighs and pushes them to sit, a tiny grin lingering on the corners of his lips as he goes to sit back on the arm of Mingyu's chair, watching Seungcheol frantically wipe his eyes dry.

"Because I love you. And...I figured we could all use some closure," he says softly as explanation, giving a little shrug and a small smile. The two alphas smile back at him through watery eyes, Jeonghan's lips still quivering, and Joshua feels warm inside, in his neck where the claiming marks are and in his heart. The others settle back down, no longer so furious, and Joshua relaxes, kind of tempted to coo softly and get some hugs from everyone. A more comfortable silence falls, less tense and more affectionate.

And then Hansol pipes up. "Hey, uh...not to...go a little off-topic or anything, but the rest of us are all just gonna...stay separate, right?" His words are sheepish, and he clings tightly to Seungkwan's hand as he speaks. There's a second longer of silence, then everyone starts laughing, Soonyoung especially. Joshua giggles as the tension fully leaves the room, glad for the beta's expertly-timed question to ease the anxious feeling. "I'm serious!" Hansol whines, and Jun ruffles his hair with a chuckle. Seungkwan just coos at his awkwardness, and the rest of them are quick to reassure him that no, he doesn't have to start dating all the rest of them. The beta smiles in relief, but gives Joshua a slightly fonder smile, a sort of reassuring don't worry, I'm willing to love you smile. Joshua feels his heart squeeze. After the chuckles subside, there's some silence again, until Jeonghan huffs in a sort of weakly amused way.

"Mingyu, just hold his hand, you're not subtle at all," he offers in what's almost a groan, as if more pained by Mingyu's obviousness than the thought of another alpha holding his mate's hand. Joshua blinks, and looks down to see Mingyu's hand lying close to his, fingers inching together. He can see Mingyu hesitating, so he takes the initiative and pulls the alpha's hand into his lap, gently kneading his palm with careful fingers, smiling as he does so. Mingyu looks both pleased and slightly embarrassed by this, and he shoots Jeonghan and Seungcheol a look. Their faces are...calm, kind of thoughtful, heads slightly tilted as though studying their interactions. They don't smell mad or upset though, which is good for all of them. Joshua goes back to looking at Mingyu's wide, calloused palm, relaxed in his lap, and laces their fingers together. Mingyu looks painfully fond, eyes dripping with sweetness in the way they usually only do when he looks at Wonwoo.

Speaking of, Wonwoo stands up next. "Boundaries," he announces, looking at them all, "where are we gonna set 'em? I, for one, propose kissing and hand-holding for when we're near each other, nothing too heated. Sound good?"

"Yeah, keep the nasty stuff in the bedroom," Chan snorts, and they all glare good-naturedly at him while he holds his palms up defensively, a shit-eating grin back on his face.

"I say that's good. But if any one of you gets uncomfortable I'm willing to be flexible," Joshua hums, and Mingyu squeezes his hand.

"We want you to be comfortable too, flower, so just say so if one of us does something a bit too much, mkay?" Wonwoo says gently, walking over to him. Joshua nods, smiling, lost in the dark, warm sparkle in Wonwoo's eyes. "Oh, and just to make it less awkward, I'm gonna kiss you now so we don't have to go through the whole 'do I kiss him while other people are around or not' phase," he adds with a chuckle, and Joshua laughs, disentangling his hand from Mingyu's to wrap an arm around Wonwoo's neck and pull him in for just a sweet little kiss. The older omega could feel Mingyu's palm against the small of his back and strangely he didn't mind at all that everyone was there watching him kiss someone who wasn't either of his mates. 

When Wonwoo pulls away he's smiling, but his face becomes more serious when he flicks a look at Seungcheol and Jeonghan. "I don't want to step on anyone's toes, so is that alright?" he asks in a casual hum, his face still inches from Joshua's.

Seungcheol and Jeonghan exchange a glance, seeming to ask each other are we really ok with this? Joshua's heart skips a beat or two in anticipation.

Then Jeonghan looks back at them, and gestures vaguely in their direction. "That was...kinda cute actually. Shua always looks the cutest when he's smiling, and you make him smile, so...yeah. That's ok with us." Seungcheol nods, starting to look a little fond, and Joshua stops himself from sagging in relief. 

Then Jun jumps up from his spot next to Minghao. "If Wonwoo gets a kiss, then I want one too!" His childish reasoning makes everyone laugh, and Joshua is glad to pull him down into a kiss as well, cheeks warm with affection and a little shyness. Mingyu's hand is still lightly rubbing his back and he melts into the touch like he melts into Jun's cute little kisses, peppered all over his face.

"I guess that settles it. We all get kisses now," Seokmin says excitedly, leaping up and bouncing over to the flustered but very happy omega. That causes a chain reaction of all of them standing up and eagerly awaiting kisses of their own. But Joshua reaches through them to grab Seungcheol's hand, looking up at him and Jeonghan, trying to show his gratefulness in a single soft look. Thank you, his eyes say, thank you so much.

Seungcheol smiles, leaning down to cup his cheek and kiss his forehead. "Anything for you, love," he murmurs, and Jeonghan hums agreement, petting his hair and looking at him with a gaze softer than cat's fur. Joshua's heart swells to bursting with love for his mates and for everyone in the room, and he kind of wants to cry again.

Maybe they can sense this, because Wonwoo gently thumbs over the skin under his eyes, his own gaze oh-so caring, no longer angry at all. "Don't cry, kitten, it's ok," he soothes in his soft, low voice, and all Joshua can do is pull him into a tight hug. This in turn makes Mingyu tug him into his lap, and Joshua ends up being hugged from all sides, hands petting his hair, twelve pairs of lips leaving kisses where they can reach, a little ticklish like butterfly's wings.

It's there, surrounded by them and their scents, that Joshua finds just how happy he is. Surrounded by people he loves, he smiles as bright as he physically can, tries to kiss whoever's closest, and just sort of basks in how content he is. This is love, he thinks as he burrows into their embraces, this is home.

Chapter Text

It took a while for things to be fully resolved. They all talked. A lot. About a lot of things. Seungcheol and Jeonghan took responsibility for being the catalyst of the whole event, and the others took responsibility for not saying anything about it sooner, which in reality just prolonged the whole thing. Joshua's also proud that they got through the whole discussion with no one fighting each other (Chan had some close calls but honestly Joshua doesn't really blame him). At the end of it all, Seungkwan cried a fair amount, but Joshua and Hansol worked to soothe him, and the sight must have made everyone break, because after a few seconds of hesitation, Chan ran and hugged Jeonghan tight around the middle, and the older alpha seemed very surprised for a second before he hugged Chan back (Joshua knew that Chan would forever be Jeonghan's baby, no matter what happened). 

And with all that safely put away, things settled.

Joshua has many reasons to be afraid of pain and being degraded. The shadows will always lurk in his mind, they’ll never really just go away completely. But he knows now that he doesn’t have to face those shadows alone. He can face them now with Seungcheol and Jeonghan’s strong but gentle hands, with Jun and Minghao’s soft murmurs of comfort, with Soonyoung and Mingyu’s protective embraces, with Jihoon’s reluctantly affectionate grins, with Chan, Seokmin, and Seungkwan’s bright, bubbly smiles, with Wonwoo’s calm, reassuring presence, with Hansol’s adorably hesitant hugs and hand-holding.

He’s never really alone, they make sure of that. With their whole beings they throw themselves into loving him, and Joshua does the same in return. When Jeonghan and Seungcheol can’t take him with them, the others are there for him to fall back on, and they shower him with as much affection as they possibly can.

Sometimes he still wakes up scared, wakes up shaking and on the verge of tears, but there’s always someone there to hold him and dry his eyes. Sometimes he still feels the self-doubt creeping into his mind, but there’s always someone to whisper earnest words of love into his ears and pet his hair. Sometimes he still doesn’t feel worth loving, but there will always be people there, proving the demons in his head wrong with kind hands and warm embraces and honest, sincere gazes.

Yes, Joshua still struggles sometimes. But he never struggles by himself. Not anymore. Because whether it’s a hand lazily petting his hair, or holding his tightly, or making him tremble and fall apart in the best ways with sweet moans and cries, he knows he doesn’t have to suffer by himself.

And with every part of himself, he loves and will love them back. So none of them ever have to be alone. He wouldn’t let that happen. So he whispers back the words they say to him late at night, makes sure to love them as much as they love him.

 


 

Joshua was once told that good things come in threes. Now he disagrees. Sometimes they come in 13's. It’s an odd number, both figuratively and literally, but he thinks it’s perfect. All the more hands to hold and people to kiss, he thinks fondly.

And in the rare times when he is alone, sitting in his room and gazing out the window, he finds he doesn’t mind as much. Instead he smiles, because he knows the people he loves are within arm’s reach.

He has reasons to be afraid of things, things that will taint his memories forever. But he knows now that never again will he have to face them alone.

And it’s perhaps that fact, more than anything else, that makes him smile, because all he has to do is reach out, and they will catch him.

Chapter Text

The moment they leave the house, the moment Joshua’s sleepy face leaves their sight, Jeonghan starts getting anxious. He always gets anxious whenever they leave, because he knows that sometimes it hurts Joshua to be away from them, but now he’s even more worried.

He doesn’t know what came over him last night. He had just been so excited to finally have some fun in bed with the two loves of his life and then things had gotten...rough. Words he wasn’t in control of spilled from his lips, and his hands had moved of their own accord. He was hardly aware of what he had been doing.

But he remembers Joshua had cried a little. Joshua didn’t cry. Not in bed, anyway. And in the heat of the moment he’d dismissed it, too caught up in the feeling of a warm mouth around him to care.

But now, when he's collected and calm again, the haunting memory of the pain in Joshua’s eyes came back to pester him. There was fear there, a hurt that Jeonghan never, ever wanted to see in his beloved omega’s eyes again. He shudders just thinking about it.

He worries if they went too far. Scratch that, he knows they went too far. They had gone and broke the few, simple rules Joshua laid out, but he had no idea how to make things right without also making things awkward and uncomfortable. Joshua was delicate and he had been too rough, handling a crystal statue without any care.

He just hopes he hadn’t cracked the beautiful work of art that was his Joshua.

The thought gets pushed out of his mind a little when Seungcheol sits down next to him, waving a hand in front of his face.

“Hannie? You alright?”

“Mm, I’m fine. Just...worried about Shua. I think we went too far last night.” The words are ugly and sour on his tongue when he says them aloud, but when he admits it at least he feels a little better. Seungcheol says nothing for a second.

“...We’ll be back soon. He won’t be alone for too long. We can make sure the others check up on him.”

“But I want to check up on him. I don’t want to keep leaving him by himself,” he pouts, huffing childishly. “I wanna make sure he’s ok,” he adds more softly, gaze drifting to the window. Seungcheol sighs quietly, taking his hand.

“I’m sure he’ll be alright. He’ll surely call or text if he needs anything.” When Jeonghan gives him a short, slightly disbelieving look, he sighs again. “I’m worried too, Han, don’t give me that look, but we can’t go back now, no matter how much both of us want to. We- we can work things out afterwards.”

“...Sure hope so,” Jeonghan mumbles, eyes turning back to the window. Still, as he stares, watching the sky flash by through the plane window, he can’t help but feel a little uneasy. A hard pit of worry settles in his stomach, and he can’t shake the feeling that he messed up badly.


 


The moment they finish their first day and get back into their hotel, they collapse and gratefully soak up the small amount of free time they have before they actually have to sleep.

Seungcheol pulls out his phone, amused and a little sappy to see the cute little messages Joshua sent him, finished with a soft “I love you” followed by several hearts. He quickly texts back an equally fond reply and then flops next to Jeonghan, nearly smushing the long-haired alpha beneath him. With a reproachful wheeze, Jeonghan shoves him off, but when he has space to breath, the younger crawls over to him.

“Tired?” he hums, and Seungcheol nods. He’s always a little less energetic without Joshua. He isn’t completely sure why, but he feels drained without his omega’s soft little smiles and adorable giggles and comforting hands. Maybe it’s something to do with their claiming bond, something he runs his fingers over habitually as he thinks.

Jeonghan hums softly again, carefully nuzzling his neck. For a moment Seungcheol basks in his rosey scent, unusually light and sweet for an alpha, but pleasing nonetheless. In a swift, smooth motion, he rolls both of them over, pinning Jeonghan beneath him and tucking his face into the younger alpha’s neck. It doesn’t quite calm his nerves like Joshua’s green tea scent does, but it’s a close second and good enough for him at the moment.

“Oi, watch it,” Jeonghan huffs lazily, hands creeping up to wrap around his shoulders despite his rather dismissive tone. Seungcheol just makes a quiet noise, too absorbed in leaving his own rainy scent all over Jeonghan’s throat. The two smells mesh together nicely, and he exhales slowly, pleased with himself.

“Possessive, aren’t you?” Jeonghan chuckles, pushing him back so they can both sit up.

“I just like it when you smell like me. Then no one will try anything. You’re too pretty so I have to make sure people know you’re mine,” he huffs. Jeonghan rolls his eyes.

“So, possessive. I’m flattered. But then I want you to smell like me too. You’re too handsome for your own good.” Promptly, he pushes out his rose scent and rubs his cheek all over the older alpha’s neck and collarbones, increasing the rain-flower smell in the room.

“There is a distinct lack of green tea here,” Seungcheol chuckles after a while of letting Jeonghan scent him. The younger alpha hums distractedly.

“I miss him already, sweet little thing…”

“Me too, but time will pass before we know it and soon we can rush home and shower him with love and hugs and kisses and gifts. Goodness knows he deserves it for putting up with us for so long.”

“More like for not putting up with us for so long,” Jeonghan snickers. “Seriously, I was thinking...maybe we should bring him with us. Once or twice to start, and if he doesn’t like it he can stay home. But I don’t want him to keep staying by himself.”

“Hm...sounds good to me. So long as it’s nothing too stressful,” Seungcheol shrugs amiably, flopping onto his side and pulling Jeonghan’s lithe form to his chest. With a slow sigh, he relaxes, uncaring that he’s still fully-clothed and there are lights still on. At the moment he just wants to hold Jeonghan close and wish Joshua was there with them.


 


 Over the next few days, a very faint sting develops where Joshua’s claiming bite resides, and though it’s nothing too bad, it leaves them a little on edge, more testy than usual because of the annoying pain.

On top of that, the ever-increasing amount of works keeps them from checking up on their omega, unable to do much other than simply read his texts but not have time to respond. It saddens them, but people keep pulling their attention away, and it’s with a great reluctance that they fake a smile and pretend to be very absorbed with every boring word.

And of course, on the one day Jeonghan really can’t take another person talking to him, Joshua calls. Somewhere in his mind, the alpha registers how weak and shaky he sounds, but the rest of him is much too stressed to think about it.

And when he hangs up, he immediately feels awful. He knew he shouldn’t have snapped like that, and his ears were clogged by the sound of his omega’s faint whine, cut off by him hanging up. It doesn’t bother him too much when he’s still swamped by people and papers and work, but when he's alone, it plagues his mind. In the end he's too worried to even think about calling back. It was late by the time he even had a chance to call, and he thought Joshua might have fallen asleep anyway.

It doesn’t stop him from feeling bad.


 


 “What ? Stay another- do you even know what you’re asking us?” Jeonghan stares openly at the timid-looking beta in front of them, who shrinks back a little at his aggressive, incredulous tone.

“I- it would be really good for you and the company...and if you don’t, things could end badly for us. We got invited to a very prestigious gala, and the hosts specifically invited you two…”

“And they didn’t think to tell us this would be happening before we left? We have someone at home we want to go back to! We can’t- I don’t want him to be alone. My omega deserves better than us leaving him for another week! It’ll hurt him, and that’s the last thing I want,” he growls, imaginary hackles rising.

“B-but-” The beta starts to stammer a plea, but Jeonghan cuts him off.

“No buts. I agreed to two weeks and even then it was a stretch. You should be lucky I’m here at all-” A wide hand on his shoulder makes him pause and take a deep breath, but it doesn’t completely soothe the anger simmering in him.

“Let me talk to him,” Seungcheol hums, guiding his mate away gently. The beta nods quickly, looking mildly relieved to be out of Jeonghan’s line of fire.

“Jeonghan, I know you’re pissed, but think about this. This could be really good for us. I- I hate the idea of staying away longer as much as you do, but be reasonable. The others can keep him company. We can text and make sure they visit him. He won’t be alone,” Seungcheol soothes, petting his hair. Jeonghan opens his mouth to retort with a sharp response, but closes his mouth again. As much as he doesn’t like it, Seungcheol is right.

“...But it’ll hurt him, won’t it? Didn’t he tell us that it hurt when we were away from him for too long?” He blinks up into Seungcheol’s dark eyes, almost pleading.

“Well, we’re away from him now, and it doesn’t hurt too badly, right? I’m sure it’s not bad for him either.” Lightly he nuzzles the claiming mark he left on Jeonghan’s neck, and reluctantly the younger alpha tilts his head away.

“But what about his heat, Cheolie? It’s soon, I know that, and if we leave him alone then I’m not going to forgive myself for that. Mated omegas-”

“Are not to be left alone during their heats, I know,” Seungcheol finishes with a sigh. “You’ve told me plenty of times. And I think it’s two weeks from now, so I don’t think we have to worry.”

“You sure? I don’t want anything bad to happen to him…”

“Neither do I, angel. I’m sure he’ll be ok. The others are looking out for him. If he really needs us then we can drop everything and go back.”

“...Alright. But just this once. I’m not leaving him for so long again, got that? No more two-week trips without him.” He taps Seungcheol’s jaw with a finger, almost threatening, and the older alpha nods complacently.

“Of course. Now let’s go back. And try not to terrify that poor beta anymore than you already have, alright love? I know he gets on your nerves but calm yourself.”

“I can’t help it; spineless people like him annoy me,” he mutters. “Shua’s so much better; at least he knows how to be sassy and confident when he wants to be.”

“You think Shua’s better than everyone, and I can’t say I disagree,” Seungcheol chuckles. A faint smirk tilts Jeonghan’s lips up into a smile.

“You and Shua are both better than everyone I know. Just on principle. Now let’s hurry up. The fast we get over this the quicker we can get home and snuggle with our beloved baby boy.” Seungcheol rolls his eyes at a little at Jeonghan’s slightly hypocritical enthusiasm, but he follows anyway.

Even though he had been the one to suggest it, it doesn’t stop the flare of anxiety that flares in his chest at the thought of Joshua, all alone in the house, probably anxiously awaiting their return.

In fact he feels guilty.


 


He feels even more guilty when they have to text him to tell him what changed. It was probably too late to call him, but by the next morning, Joshua still hadn’t replied. He hadn’t even read their messages.

He exchanges a look with Jeonghan, gaze slightly apprehensive, and he gets the same look in response. Both of them look back down at their phones, waiting for Joshua’s little bubble to pop up. But it never does.

So they text the big group chat they have, and recruit everyone to go check up on Joshua for them. Seungcheol can’t deny that he feels a little envious at the thought of cuddling with his omega, but he can’t exactly go back on his promise to attend the gala.

He’s just glad they all seem enthusiastic to help. He feels a little better knowing Joshua is in good hands. It doesn’t stop him from missing the soft, gentle omega, but it helps a bit.

He tries to ignore how the sting in his neck increases ever-so-slightly whenever he thinks of Joshua’s face.


 


Their texts to the group chat are usually fun and light-hearted, but as Seungcheol looks down at his phone he feels weirdly apprehensive. Even Mingyu, normally funny and joking Mingyu, was being oddly passive-aggressive, and the others all keep typing without sending anything. Jihoon was being even grumpier than usual, and while on it’s own it would have been nothing remarkable, everyone seems to be annoyed with the two oldest alphas for some reason and they didn’t know why.

Of course, he tries to keep things light-hearted, but the more he jokes around, the worse it seems to get. Across the room, he shares a look with Jeonghan, who gives him a small frown and a shrug. He supposes they’re probably just fed up from...something. He just doesn’t know what. But he’s not stupid enough to miss the way they all seem angry at him and Jeonghan.

All he can do is follow along, quite confused and a little concerned. The way they phrase things make it seem like Joshua was in trouble or something. And that lit a flame of unease in him, but he wasn’t sure how to go about questioning it.

And then they all just disappeared, leaving the two alphas bewildered and still unsure of how their omega was doing.

“...So is he ok or not?” Jeonghan huffs into the silence, setting his phone down. “Not helpful. And he won’t answer any of our texts so he can’t tell us himself…”

“I’m sure everything is fine,” Seungcheol hums soothingly, but he can’t help the little strain of unease that slips into his voice. Jeonghan too, had doubt glinting in his eyes, and Seungcheol wishes suddenly that he hadn’t accepted the offer. The urge to go back and cuddle and kiss his omega was getting more and more tempting.

But they couldn’t go back just yet, so the two alphas just exchange a look and sigh, hoping that everything turns out alright.


 


And when the day of the gala finally arrived, Jeonghan was ready to just give up and skip. He was frankly too annoyed to go. Only the prospect of seeing Seungcheol in a suit persuaded him to attend.

“Well damn, don’t you look appetizing,” he purrs as Seungcheol walks out of the changing room. Slinking over to his alpha mate, he ran his eyes up and down the older’s frame, admiring the rich black of the suit against Seungcheol’s fair skin. He himself was in white, a stark, blaring contrast against the other alpha’s palette.

“I could say the same for you,” Seungcheol smirks, running a hand through the younger’s long hair. His fingers drop to brush along the thick, pale purple choker sitting on his neck, tied in a cute bow at the back, nearly white from how light it was. It provides a faint pop of color, and Seungcheol decides it looks good on Jeonghan’s very kissable neck. The only thing he doesn’t like is how it half covers up the claiming scars on his neck. “You look...good. Really good.”

“You flatter me,” Jeonghan chuckles, but he preens under the attention all the same. “If Shua was here I bet he’d make everyone’s heads turn. He looks amazing in silver and grey. He looks amazing in everything.”

“That is true,” Seungcheol smiles, sappy at the thought of seeing his omega all dressed up and regal. “I wish he was here with us…”

“Me too baby, but let’s just get this over with, alright? The sooner the better.” At Jeonghan’s words he nods, and the younger alpha links an arm with his. Seungcheol wishes Joshua was on his other side so he could walk out with both of his mates. He’d be proud to show them off and let everyone know they were his and his alone.

But Joshua isn’t there, so he satisfies himself with very smugly keeping Jeonghan close to his side. Jeonghan’s doesn’t mind, just as happy to flaunt their status as mates. Many people come up to comment casually on the fact that Seungcheol’s neck has another mark (Jeonghan’s were covered by the choker), and they always gush for a while about their omega, pride shining in their voices.

But of course, not everything goes smoothly.


Seungcheol only meant to part with Jeonghan for a little while. Just go talk to someone important and gather some information. Then he would go right back. That was what he told himself and Jeonghan.

But when he goes back to where Jeonghan had been standing, he doesn’t find the elegant alpha. In a sea of suits and dresses, he searches for pure white with a streak of lavender, but even his skilled eyes find nothing.

Starting to get uneasy, he makes his way through the crowd, casually asking if anyone’s seen a beautiful alpha in white. No one can give him a satisfying answer, until another alpha with a tall, model-worthy omega at his side points him down a hallway helpfully. With a nod of thanks, he follows the man’s directions into a much more secluded area of the gala, where not many people are standing, probably taking a break from the business of it all. Seungcheol can’t blame them.

But he still doesn’t see Jeonghan and that worries him, so he taps the shoulder of a beta standing nearby. He seems a little brighter than the stuffy, high-class people in the main room, with bright, dyed orange hair, a suit of black accented with shiny gold, and a friendly smile.

“Hey, have you seen an alpha in white? Really pretty, kinda feminine-looking? Purple choker?” The beta blinks, thinking for a second, then nods, to Seungcheol’s delight.

“Yeah, he went that-a-way with another alpha. Sounded like they were talking about something involving work.”

“Thank you so much,” Seungcheol breathes, feeling a little relieved. The beta nods, giving him a slightly concerned smile, before turning back to talking to a mint-haired omega. Seungcheol quickly moves down the hallway, alert for any hint of the rose scent he loves so much.

It hits his nose when he reaches a bend in the corridor, and his eyes widen at the hint of anger and almost-fear in it. He walks faster, turning the corner, and what he sees makes his blood boil.

Standing there, much too close together for Seungcheol’s liking, was Jeonghan and another alpha, dressed in rich navy blue. Jeonghan was pressed against the wall, wrists caught in a firm grip, hissing and wriggling and looking ready to kick the other alpha in the gut.

“Come on, you already have two claiming marks, don’t you? I’m sure you’d be fine with getting another one~” Seungcheol wanted to rip the other alpha’s head off at that comment. Especially when one of his hands slips behind Jeonghan’s neck, tugging at the bow, loosening it so the fabric hangs low on his neck, exposing the two claiming scars there.

But before he can even think about doing that, Jeonghan moves. His sweet, fiery, not-to-be-underestimated Jeonghan braces his back against the wall and throws his knees as hard as he can into the nameless alpha’s stomach. When he doubles over with a sharp wheeze, he was met with a knee to the face and a very angry hissing noise.

“Don’t you even think about it,” he growls, kicking the alpha away from him and down to the floor. Standing up properly, he removes the choker from his neck and points at the claiming scars on his throat.

“I belong to two people and two people only. You are not either of them. Don’t think you have any right to me just because of that. You’re disgusting. If you ever try that again, I’m going to kick you in more than just the ribs, so feel lucky I’m in a good mood.” With a huff, Jeonghan turns away, and when his eyes fall on Seungcheol they widen.

“Oh, Cheolie! Didn’t see you there. This asshole was just having a little chat with my knees.” He practically flounces over to the slightly stunned Seungcheol, linking an arm with his again.

“Additionally, feel lucky Cheolie wasn’t here to see you be stupid. Trust me, he would have done much worse.” Fondly, he presses a kiss to the older alpha’s cheek, and Seungcheol accepts it with a vaguely bewildered hum. Then the anger sets in, and he reluctantly parts with Jeonghan to stand before the other alpha, still lying on the floor pathetically.

“Listen to me very carefully,” he says in a near-whisper, voice threateningly quiet, “if you ever touch my mate again then you will regret it till the end of your days. I can and will hurt you if you try something. Jeonghan is mine. Got it? Got it?”

“Y-yes, I understand,” the alpha wheezes, not making eye contact. Seungcheol’s tempted to spit on him, but he doesn’t think the alpha is worthy of even that, so he just stands and walks back to Jeonghan, who’s watching with a smug smirk.

“That’s my Cheolie,” he smiles, pressing another kiss to his cheek. Seungcheol, still a little possessive, sweeps him into a proper kiss, holding Jeonghan tight to his chest. Jeonghan chuckles a little, but doesn’t pull away.

They only part when the sound of footsteps reaches their ears, and they look to see the orange-haired beta from before, accompanied by the serious-looking mint-haired omega.

For a second they just kind of stare at each other, then the beta sighs, turning to the omega and mumbling something to him. The omega grumbles in response, but nods and walks off all the same. The beta smiles at him before turning back to the two alphas.

“Terribly sorry about that. I thought our guest list was...cleaner. We’ll take care of him.” Seungcheol just nods, not really sure of what else to say. All he does is keep one hand on Jeonghan’s waist, holding him close while the beta walks over to the alpha still laying on the floor and growls something undoubtedly threatening to him.

Only a minute or two later, the mint-haired omega, the alpha Seungcheol had asked directions from before, and the handsome omega all walked up, the latter two looking surprised.

Things were resolved quickly. The navy-suited alpha was taken away and the one with the handsome omega on his arm, both dressed in deep red, turned out to be the host of the party. They apologized profusely, and Seungcheol and Jeonghan assured them they were fine. Two more betas, one with a deep voice that didn’t suit his boxy smile and youthful face, and the other with a young but mature disposition, led them back to the party, asking if they needed anything. From there a pretty little omega with bleach-blonde hair and a slightly childish voice engaged them in pleasant conversation.

Mostly Jeonghan and Seungcheol just want to leave. Despite his boldness and fierce words, Seungcheol can sense Jeonghan sticking closer to him than usual, and he says little. So when people attempt to talk to them, he politely brushes them off and brings Jeonghan to a quieter place, where he tugs in the long-haired alpha for a tight hug.

“Hey, hey, baby, it’s ok. No one will touch you. Not while I’m here. It’ll be ok.” Carefully he takes the ribbon choker from Jeonghan’s loose hold (he hadn’t put it back on), and uses it to tie back his hair into a low ponytail, making sure a little section frames his face prettily. It exposes his neck a little more and Seungcheol can’t resist leaving a bunch of quick kisses there, hoping to calm the very faint tremor in his mate’s shoulders.

Jeonghan just sort of sighs and tilts his head back so Seungcheol can nibble lightly at his pulse point, hands rising to perch on his shoulders.

“...Can we go home?” is all he says, in a voice far too quiet for Seungcheol’s liking. He knows Jeonghan doesn’t like random people getting touchy with him but with all the stress from the previous weeks he assumes it’s worse than usual.

So he nods. He wants to leave too.

“Yeah, we can scoot. I’ll make up some believable excuse. We’ll get out of here soon,” he soothes, moving from his throat to peck his cheeks and hopefully comfort him. It seems to work a little; Jeonghan cracks a tiny smile and hugs him briefly, before pulling away and linking their arms tightly. His hand rises to brush against the ribbon in his hair and he smiles a little wider.


EscapingLeaving the party was easier than they thought it would be. No one tried to stop them, and the host just promised to give their company a very good deal to compensate. Neither of them were really that interested anymore; they just wanted to go home and cuddle their omega and forget any of the past two weeks had happened.

When they get back to their hotel Jeonghan immediately changes into something more comfortable, but leaves his hair tied up with the purple ribbon. Seungcheol does the same, and when they’re both a little less tense he pulls Jeonghan into another hug, rubbing his back and swaying him back and forth.

“...Why did we ever think this was a good idea?” the younger alpha sighs, putting his ear over Seungcheol’s heart. He closes his eyes, listening silently to the steady beat, and feel the vibrations run through his chest as Seungcheol hums comfortingly. “I miss Shua,” he continues quietly, craning his neck up to breath in the older alpha’s fresh rain-storm scent.

“Me too baby, me too. We’ll be back soon, alright? Don’t worry,” Seungcheol murmurs, petting his hair gently. Huffing in exasperation, Jeonghan thumps his forehead onto the older’s chest, pouting.

“But why not now? It’s not like there’s anything important after this, right? Any work after this will just be stuff we can do back at home.”

Seungcheol bites his lip, holding back a sigh. Thinking for a moment, he relents.

“Ok. We can go back tomorrow, or whenever we find a plane. I think this has stretched on long enough.” He snorts a little at the loud, exaggerated noise Jeonghan lets out.

“Finally! God, remind me never to agree to this kind of shit every again. I’ve had enough time away from Shua to last me a lifetime. Our poor baby, I hope he’s alright, when we get home I’m gonna hug him and not let go,” he whines, flopping onto the bed and rolling around in his usual over-dramatic fashion. Seungcheol feels fond as he sits on the edge of the bed, reaching out to gently pet Jeonghan’s back. The younger melts into the touch, relaxing with a sigh.

“It’ll be a nice surprise for him, don’t you think?” he chuckles, already amused at the idea of surprising his sweet omega and showering him with kisses and attention. Jeonghan nods with a hum, rolling onto his side to look at him.

“Still, we should do something to make up for the night we left. We shouldn’t have been so rough.” Seungcheol’s smile falls. He too, had been plagued with the anxiety of that night, filled with unease at the sight of Joshua crying a little, eyes wide, watery, and unsure under him. He knows Jeonghan is right, and he sighs softly.

“Yeah, we should. Do you think he’d like a spa day or something? Just a day all about him. We can pamper him and do whatever he wants and make sure he feels comfortable. We don’t spoil him enough.”

“That sounds good,” Jeonghan hums, tugging him closer by the hem of his shirt. “I know he likes animals; we could go visit a cat cafe or something cute like that. Our cute kitten surrounded by more cute kittens; doesn’t that sound adorable?” Seungcheol smiles again at the thought of their Shua, sitting on a cushion, absolutely covered in cats and having the time of his life.

“It does indeed.” Quickly he bends down to press a kiss to Jeonghan’s cheek, nuzzling him lightly afterwards because he could really use the comfort. Jeonghan tugs him down, arms tight around his shoulders, nose pressed into his neck.

“Let’s sleep. The sooner we wake up and get out of here the better,” he mumbles, and Seungcheol shivers at the slightly ticklish feeling. But he nods, getting comfortable all the same, because Jeonghan isn’t the only one ready to go back home.

But before that, Jeonghan pulls out his phone, humming in the back of his throat.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to check but someone texted me earlier.” Seungcheol frowns, pulling his own phone out as well.

“Same for me.” Exchanging a look, both of them pull up the messages Jihoon had sent them. It was in a private chat, which was odd, but the actual message was even stranger.

“‘We need to talk’. Talk about what?” Jeonghan mutters under his breath, thumbs flying. It takes no time at all for Jihoon to respond; his immediate answer surprises both of them.

And it also terrifies them. Because it’s about Joshua. And he...wasn’t ok. When Jihoon tells them about his condition, Jeonghan and Seungcheol physically can’t respond. All they can do is sit there and drown in their own intense guilt. For 10 whole minutes they simply sit in silence, staring at their phones.

It’s Seungcheol who speaks first.

“...We fucked up,” he says in a hoarse, strangled voice.

“No shit,” Jeonghan hisses, sounding almost hysterical as he finally sends a reply. All he can think about is his Joshua, and how badly they messed up. But luckily it seems like the others are there, taking care of their omega in their absence.

They’re even more tempted to leave. Desperately they want to go back, hold and cuddle their omega close, love him until all his pain goes away.

They couldn’t really respond after that. Jihoon sent a couple more (vaguely threatening) messages before disappearing again, and, horrified at themselves, Jeonghan and Seungcheol look at each other silently. They can’t even say anything.

Then Jeonghan, very slowly, moves forward, sitting up and pushing himself into Seungcheol’s arms, eyes wide and stunned and scared. Seungcheol holds him automatically, eyes just as wide.

“We need to go home. Now,” Jeonghan finally manages to say, voice a whisper. Seungcheol nods once, pulling his phone back towards him. When he looks up plane schedules, he curses violently, running a hand through his hair.

“Fuck, there won’t be any planes home till tomorrow and even then it’ll take us a whole day because of the weather.”

His eyes snap to his other mate when he hears a soft, high-pitched noise of distress. It was just a short little thing, quiet and barely there, but Seungcheol hears it loud and clear. He can also see the way Jeonghan’s shoulders shake, hears how his breathing grows ragged with fear and notes how his eyes fill with terrified tears. Another little whimper escapes him and Seungcheol’s rarely ever heard such a sound come from him; he’s heard it only maybe once before. It’s reappearance in turn makes his own protective instincts flare.

“Hannie, baby, come here,” he coos quickly, pitching his voice low and soothing. Jeonghan all but throws himself at the older alpha, clutching onto him, hands balled in the back of his shirt like a drowning man clinging to a lifeline. He ignores his own growing anxiety in favor of calming Jeonghan down, whose breathing is still fearfully shaky and uneven.

He pushes out his scent, humming deep in his chest and gently rubbing the younger’s back. For a while, he didn’t know how long, he simply holds Jeonghan close, hoping his presence is enough to soothe him.

And when Jeonghan finally draws in a rough, stuttered breath and pulls away, his eyes are alight with a determined fire and shining with tears.

“I don’t care how fucking expensive the plane is just get us out of here. We need to go back now,” he orders, and Seungcheol has never been happier to obey. But still, there was no other option but to wait until the next morning, which made them both even more antsy.

They don’t fall asleep that night, they’re both far too anxious, but they hold each other as close as they can, bodies pressed flush together and legs tangled up. At the moment, any comfort is gratefully accepted.


 


In the morning, they scramble to pack up and leave, sending a text Jihoon’s way to let him know they’re coming back. They get no response, but they see that he reads it. They say little as they go, only to ask if they’ve forgotten anything and to mumble little reassurances. They just want to go home.

Unfortunately, someone just outside their hotel door stops them. A professional-looking female alpha stands there, hand raised to knock, a bit surprised at their sudden appearance.

“Oh, Mr. Choi, Mr. Yoon, perfect timing. I was just about to inform you-”

“We were just about to inform you that we have to go home,” Jeonghan shoots aggressively, cutting her off. A look of intense confusion covers her face at that.

“But sirs, you have-”

“We have to go home,” Jeonghan repeats, voice deepening to a growl. “Our omega is in a stress heat and if you think you can keep us here then I’d like to inform you that you’re dead fucking wrong. Now move.” Eyes wide, she simply stands there for a second, before nodding and adjusting her glasses, stepping aside smoothly.

“I understand. I’ll let my boss know what’s going on. Good luck with your omega.” Nodding once, Jeonghan brushes past her and Seungcheol follows with a slightly more apologetic look. But he’s just as eager to leave as Jeonghan, so he catches up quickly to his long-haired mate, ignoring everyone who gives them a weird look as they pass.


 


The ride to the airport is tense and silent. Jeonghan can’t stop fidgeting, and eventually Seungcheol has to grab his hands to stop him from completely unravelling a stray thread on his shirt.

“Hey,” he says softly, giving Jeonghan a small smile. “It’ll be ok. We can work this out.” Even if he doesn’t believe his own words, it seems to make Jeonghan feel a little better, so he loosens his grip a little and threads their fingers together. The younger alpha squeezes his hand and Seungcheol gives him a comforting squeeze back.

When they board the plane, Jeonghan immediately closes his eyes and falls dead silent. He doesn’t sleep, he’s much too anxious to sleep, but he doesn’t say or do anything. Seungcheol just sighs and sits down next to him, trying not to show how uneasy he is.

Eventually, their hands find each other and lace together, each holding tightly in hopes of maybe warding off the fear of maybe losing one who they both loved very, very much. They don’t speak though; they fear if they speak it might make their worries a reality.

So they sit there and fester in their own crushing anxiety, hoping desperately that things end up alright.


 


The taxi ride is even more tense. Jeonghan is practically bouncing up and down in his seat, and Seungcheol can’t stop his hands from moving, flitting and playing with anything he can, fingers trembling.

“God, what if he hates us, I wouldn’t blame him, we fucked up so badly-” Jeonghan’s dam finally bursts and with a shaky exhale words spill from his lips, and Seungcheol quickly shushes him, cooing softly even as he wants to break down too.

“Jeonghan, calm down. If- if that happens, then we’ll meet it when it does. But right now we just need to think about him and how to make this better. Ok?” Slowly Jeonghan’s breathing evens out, but Seungcheol can still see the panic in his eyes, so he hums softly, pushing out his alpha scent, and it calms even Jeonghan, who takes a deep, shaky breath and looks away, back out the window.

“I’m scared, Cheolie,” is all he murmurs, but Seungcheol knows there’s more to it than just that.

“Me too baby, but we can try,” he sighs, taking one of Jeonghan’s dainty hands and playing with his fingers. Jeonghan looks down at their hands, eyes sad. He watches silently as Seungcheol brings his hand up, brushing a kiss to the back of it, and says nothing else.


 


When they get to the house it’s a frantic dash to get in. Things forgotten on the steps, all they can do is rush in, desperate to see their omega, desperate to see Joshua-

And there he is. Sitting in Wonwoo’s lap, looking just as anxious as they feel, is Joshua, their beloved Joshua. They can hardly function, can barely breathe because it’s been too long and he’s there and his scent is so amazingly familiar but it’s drowned out a little because of all the other scents but they don’t care because it’s Joshua and they’re seeing him again-

They watch in silence as he stands up from Wonwoo’s lap, taking a tiny step towards them, then stopping, hands shaking. They can smell his fear, smell how anxious he is, and they hate that, hate how badly they’ve messed up.

Jeonghan can’t take it anymore. He has to have Joshua in his arms, has to comfort his beautiful omega, has to apologize for not being there. So with a strained whine he rushes forward, pulling Joshua into his arms, face buried in his hair, whispering non-stop apologies. Seungcheol does the same, both relieved and feeling even more guilty then ever.

Then they hear him sniffle. Stunned, they watch as tears rise and spill from Joshua’s lovely honey brown eyes, dripping down his cheeks and leaving glistening trails. God, they never ever want to see him cry again, especially not because of them.

They know they’ve messed up. Joshua says nothing, crying silently, eyes wide and full of unreadable emotions. He shakes and trembles in their arms, and Jeonghan can feel his distress like a physical wave and frantically he tries to wipe his tears away, wishing he’d never left in the first place. He hardly knows what he’s saying, only that he’s trying to comfort his crying omega. Through their claiming bond he can feel Joshua’s emotions: a mess of anxiety and guilt and unease, all mixed together in one big ball of vague fear.

They never want Joshua to feel that way again. So they pull him closer, breathe in his green tea scent that they’ve missed so much, not sure what to say because Joshua’s eyes have never looked so intense.

When he looks down at the floor they know something bad is going to happen, and with the soft, sniffled apology he lets out, they know they’d fucked up big time.

“S-sweetheart, no, no, it’s not your fault, you don’t have to be sorry,” Jeonghan says quickly, desperate to get him to stop crying. “We should be the ones apologizing, love, none of this is your fault. Baby, you’ve done nothing wrong, you don’t need to apologize. It’s ok, Shua, you’re ok, you’ve done nothing wrong.” Carefully he hugs Joshua tighter, feeling his heart break at the tone of his omega’s voice, weak and full of self-doubt.

He sits down slowly, pulling Joshua into his lap, rocking him back and forth and trying to show just how much he loves the omega. He exchanges a look with Seungcheol, pained and guilty, and the older alpha gives him the same look, rubbing Joshua’s back.

They ignore the stares of everyone else in the room. The world is just the three of them, the two alphas and their quietly crying omega, and nothing else seems real.

And when Joshua stops crying so hard, Jihoon speaks. They sort of forgot everyone else was there, so when he does, they’re a little surprised.

Joshua leaves their arms almost immediately, and they can’t say they blame him, though it does make them sad. Watching the way he sits down next to Wonwoo and snuggles into him, watching the way Mingyu throws a protective arm around him, it makes them sadder, but they don’t fight it.

Their questions confuse them, but Joshua’s strangled “doesn’t it hurt for you too?” makes their hearts break. It did hurt, but not nearly as much as it must have hurt for Joshua. And when Jihoon had led them into a different room, it had certainly scared them. Jihoon just had that effect.

And the story he’d told… It made Jeonghan want to throw up. Seungcheol could feel his body trembling. Joshua had never mentioned anything like that, not once. But as much as they hated it, it made sense, why Joshua liked to be treated gently, why he flinched a little if they moved too fast.

The guilt and regret that rises up in them is indescribable. When Jihoon and Jun and Wonwoo were done, they could hardly speak. All they knew was that Joshua probably hated them. And all they can do is try to make things right, even though they know Joshua has no obligation to listen to them- has no obligation to be their mate anymore, not from how they treated him.

So when they go back to the living room and see Joshua being gently loved by the others, it hurts because they know they’ve probably lost a lot of that trust. Lost the right to hold Joshua so close. In that moment they see that maybe the others can love Joshua better than they can.

But they’re still going to try. So Seungcheol holds out his hand, hoping that maybe Joshua will take it. And he does, though he looks hesitant. The two alphas try not to be too hopeful.

The air is tense. Very tense. Jeonghan and Seungcheol can smell the unease in the air, can tell how Joshua isn’t sure if he wants to be there or not. But they have to try. So Jeonghan moves forward slowly, cupping his cheek, tenderly pulling him close.

“Joshua, baby,” he murmurs, fighting back tears because it’s been much too long since he’s just held his omega close. How long has it been since they’ve just cuddled? Jihoon was right; they really did spend too much time away from him.

Pressing their foreheads together, he whispers apologies, trying to show how sorry he is, how sorry both of them are, but a finger to his lips both silences him and makes his heart stop, and not in a good way.

“...I was scared,” Joshua mumbles, and that makes both of the alpha nearly cry from the guilt. Softly, softly, he explains how he was worried they didn’t want him, and Jeonghan can barely hold himself back from kissing the living daylights out of his omega to show just how much he does want him. But he doesn’t, because maybe Joshua doesn’t want him to. He doesn’t know if he can kiss Joshua anymore.

They’re both scared that maybe...maybe they’ve really lost Joshua. And they know it would be their fault.


 


But...miraculously, Joshua still loves them. Enough to let Jeonghan kiss him until they’re both laughing, enough to hug Seungcheol close and bury his face in the alpha’s chest, enough to let them scent him until the room is filled with the smell of roses and rain.

And the pain- for all of them- finally goes away, no more annoying sting. Joshua is practically purring in their arms, nuzzling them and humming in his chest. It relieves them so much they can’t even begin to explain it.

But Seungcheol is curious. Curious as to what happened, curious as to why Joshua smells so strongly of the others, curious as to if there’s more feelings involved than just theirs. So he asks.

Strictly speaking, neither of the two alphas are super keen on giving Joshua up. They know they’ve messed up, they know Joshua doesn’t have to stay with them anymore, but they really do want him to. But if the others can give Joshua the love they know he deserves...well, if he’s happy they’re happy. That’s what they tell themselves.

What they don’t expect is for Joshua, sweet, lovely Joshua, to allow them to share him. That, they’re ok with. They’re happy actually, knowing that Joshua will get showered with all the love he deserves and more. And they trust their friends. It’s better than a stranger, certainly. As long as Joshua gets loved, as long as he gets the attention he needs, then they’re happy to share him.

Just so long as they get to love him too. And they promise to love him, promise to never leave him behind like that again. With hearts relieved and arms once again occupied with their beloved omega, they promise to take care of him for as long as they live.


 


...Yeah, they can admit they deserve the thorough tongue-thrashing Minghao and Chan give them, but Jeonghan has a point; they should have alerted them sooner. 

Still, at the end of the day, Seungcheol and Jeonghan are just glad that they've worked things out pretty well, and at least no one is crying anymore. In fact, Joshua is smiling, looking perfectly content cradled in Mingyu's lap, and, if it'll make their lovely omega happy, Seungcheol and Jeonghan don't mind nearly as much. It paints a cute picture anyway, to see everyone showering Joshua with praise and attention. 

"...We can do this, right?" Jeonghan asks Seungcheol very quietly, after stepping back a bit from the crowd. Seungcheol hums thoughtfully.

"...Yeah. I think we can do this," he nods, resolute in his actions as he takes Jeonghan's hand. Maybe they've messed up badly, but that's behind them now, and they can get back to focusing on making sure no one feels left out anymore.

They'll make sure of that. So, with a smile on their faces, they move forward again to leave their own kisses in Joshua's soft hair, melting at the adoring look he gives them, so open and trusting. Yeah, they're going to protect that smile with their lives if they have to.

Chapter Text

About a year later, Joshua awakes with a groan, pulling the covers up over his head as someone bounces up and down on his legs excitedly, babbling about something. It’s too loud and too early, Joshua thinks, but whoever it is, they’re quite insistent on getting him up.

“Shua~” coos a familiar voice in his ear, and despite his tiredness Joshua smiles.

“‘S too early, Channie, go away,” he groans into his pillow, despite the warmth flooding his chest as the youngest alpha flops down to lay next to him on the bed. Jeonghan and Seungcheol had disappeared the day before, leaving him with reassuring smiles and mysterious winks, promising they’d be back the next day, so the bed was empty apart from him and now Chan, who was still tugging at the covers.

“C’mon, get up! It’s your birthday today! We gotta give you presents!” Joshua blinks at that. In all the commotion surrounding the events of the previous months, he’d sort of forgotten.

“If it’s my birthday, then let me sleep some more,” he huffs in a muffled voice, turning his face into his pillow. Chan hums for a moment before sighing.

“Fine. But I’m staying here until you get up.”

“Fine with me,” Joshua mumbles, tugging Chan closer and cuddling up to his chest. “Now shush and let me sleep.” Chan laughs softly, petting his hair, but drapes an arm over him anyway, half-hugging him the best he can. Joshua drinks in his spicy ginger scent and smiles, nosing his collarbones and feeling more relaxed despite the strong smell.

“Five more minutes, then we gotta get up, ok? I promised the others I’d get you downstairs,” Chan says contentedly, and Joshua nods with a hum.

“Are they all here?”

“Yep. And they’re waiting for you, sleepyhead.”

“They can wait for five more minutes,” he shrugs, closing his eyes. Chan snorted, probably rolling his own.

“I hope they can. Now if you want your five minutes, fall asleep now, cause they won’t wait forever.” Humming in the back of his throat, Joshua nods again, warm and content in his embrace.

After his five minutes is up, he reluctantly lets the younger tug him into a sitting position, where, after taking both of the omega’s hands, Chan kisses him sweetly.

“Happy birthday,” he smiles, patting the top of his head. “I have something for you.” Curiosity piqued, Joshua watches as Chan pulls a small object from his back pocket, taking the omega’s right hand and sliding a ring onto his pinkie.

“I just thought you would like it. As sort of a...promise ring I guess? Something to remind you of us when we aren’t there.” Joshua stares down at the simple but pretty silver band around his finger. Lifting it to his eyes, he could see initials engraved into it, representing each of their names.

“It has Jeonghan and Seungcheol’s on the inside, along with yours,” Chan says softly, and Joshua looks up at him, eyes starting to water. Lacing his fingers back with the younger alpha’s, he pulls him in for another kiss, petting the back of his head.

“I love it. Thank you, Channie,” he mumbles against his lips, pulling back just enough to look him earnestly in the eyes. Chan smiles, big and bright, and kisses him again.

“I’m glad, flower,” he chuckles, and Joshua knows that the ring will stay on his finger forever.


 When Chan successfully coaxes him into getting up and going downstairs, it’s Hansol, surprisingly, who snags him first, tugging him into the hallway and leaving a soft little kiss on his cheeks, nose, and then lips, a faint, slightly embarrassed little blush on his face.

“Happy birthday,” he mumbles in English, not making eye contact. “I couldn’t really think of what to get you, so I just kinda… I hope you like it?” Voice trailing off into adorable uncertainly, he holds out a thin, flat box, about the length of a pen. Taking it, Joshua opens it curiously, greeted with the sight of a beautifully-enameled, pale blue flower, strung on a fine silver chain. A clear crystal winked at him from the center of the petals, and he picked it up from it’s box with hands that shook his a little.

“It’s...it’s beautiful, Hansol,” he murmurs, watching it catch the morning light through a window. The beta rubbed awkwardly at the back of his neck, grinning sheepishly. He blinks when Joshua turns around, handing him the necklace.

“Help me put it on?” is all Joshua has to say. Looking a little stunned, Hansol nods dumbly, clumsy fingers missing the clasp a couple times before he manages to clip it together. Joshua smiles gently, fingers brushing the flower where it sits against his collarbones. He turns back to Hansol, pulling him in for a tight hug.

“Thank you, Hansol,” he hums softly, sticking to English. “It’s perfect.”

“You’re perfect,” Hansol mumbles, seemingly on autopilot. “A-and I’m glad you like it,” he stammers afterwards, ears pinking cutely. Chuckling, Joshua can’t help but kiss him again, fondness filling his heart. “I just thought it would fit you, considering the whole flower thing…”

“You’re so cute,” Joshua snickers, ruffling the younger’s hair. Hansol just smiles awkwardly at him, but before they go back into the living room he manages to snatch another soft kiss from the omega, a sort of shyly satisfied look on his face.


 He’s a little surprised, to say the least, to see everyone squished into his living room par Jeonghan and Seungcheol, but he’s certainly not disappointed. Not even when Seungkwan and Soonyoung barrel into his side, practically lifting him off the ground, squealing “happy birthday!”’s at him that make him laugh.

“I see Sollie and Chan already gave you their presents,” Seungkwan huffs, inspecting the flower hanging at the older omega’s throat. Humming, Joshua smiles, nodding as the younger picks up his hand and peers at the ring on his pinkie as well.

“They suit you,” Seungkwan says appreciatively, flashing him a bright grin and pecking the tip of his nose.

“Thanks, Kwannie,” he hums, letting the other omega lace their hands together and lead him to the couch. Distracted with letting Seungkwan cover his face in kisses, he doesn’t notice the blanket being draped over his shoulders until he feels it, soft and warm, against his back. Immediately, he’s hit with a wave of scents, familiar ones, ones he loves. Pulling back from Seungkwan, he curls his fingers in the edges of the blanket, drawing the fluffy fabric around his body. Burying his face in a corner, he takes a deep breath and it met with the most lovely, comforting combination of all their scents he could possibly want. None of them overpower any of the others, but each one is distinct, and their smells cover the blanket entirely.

“Did you…?” He looks up at Seungkwan, who has a badly-suppressed smile on his face as he nods.

“It won’t lose the scents for a long time, even if you have to wash it. I figured you could use it for when you have to sleep by yourself,” he shrugs offhandedly, though there’s a smug little grin on his face. Joshua can’t fight his own smile and ends up beaming like an idiot as he nuzzles the blanket again, loving the way he can almost drown in their scents. Keeping it draped over his shoulders, he leans forward to kiss Seungkwan repeatedly, teeth clicking because they’re both smiling too widely.

“I knew you’d like it,” he says proudly, looking very happy with himself but also for Joshua. The older omega just keeps smiling, so wide he can feel his eyes scrunching up.

“It’s amazing. Thank you, Kwannie. I really love it.” He pulls the younger in for another kiss, practically purring at the comforting scents enveloping him.

“Happy birthday, flower,” Seungkwan chuckles against his lips, round cheeks curving his eyes into happy crescents. Joshua rubs his cheek against the blanket with a hum, still smiling widely.


Minghao presents him with a plain-looking box, an uncharacteristically shy little smile on his face.

“I’m...bad at wrapping things,” he admits, sitting down as Joshua chuckles, shaking his head.

“‘S ok. Less for me to clean up later,” he soothes, and Minghao smiles a little wider, gesturing for him to open the box already.

Rolling his eyes a little at the beta’s impatience, he pulls the lid off and is met with the cover of a book of some kind, a picture of him slipped into the transparent front sleeve. It’s perfectly-taken, a photo of him from the side, not looking at the camera, absorbed in a book on his lap. The light from the window behind him cast his figure into a slight shadow, accentuating his jawline and relaxed posture. It was clear that whoever took the picture knew what they were doing.

Lifting the book out of it’s box, he blinks at it’s surprising heftiness. He sets it in his lap and opens the front cover, wondering what could possibly be in it.

Photos. Dozens and dozens of photos of him, all masterfully-taken from a wide variety of different angles. Some were of him with the others, laughing and smiling, joy captured in one eternal picture, but most of them were just of him.

He looks up at Minghao, who was back to grinning sheepishly.

“Did you take all of these? How long did it take you?” he says breathlessly, going back to leafing through the pages, more than a little awed.

“Not super long, honestly, you’re really easy to photograph cause you can sit still,” Minghao shrugs, looking a little embarrassed. “But printing them out, getting them developed, and putting them into the book...that’s the part that took me a while.”

“I can vouch, he was up until past midnight last week,” Jun chuckles, wrapping an arm around the beta’s waist. “Wouldn’t tell me what he was working on.” Joshua just hums, absorbed in scanning the photos. He even remembers when some of them were taken, when he’d looked up at the sound of Minghao calling his name, innocently curious, unknowingly becoming the subject of a beautiful work in the making.

Closing the cover carefully, he holds out his arms for the beta, pulling him into a tight hug.

“It’s beautiful,” is all he can really say, feeling a little teary-eyed. Minghao chuckles, kissing the top of his head fondly, then moving down to his lips.

“Happy birthday, flower. I’m gonna keep adding to that book, maybe make a second one. You’re a good muse, for someone who doesn’t know a lot about photography. You and Junnie should model for me.”

“Gladly,” he smiles, shooting the younger omega a grin, receiving one in return. He’s gonna put that photo album where he can see it everyday, because he knows if he does, he’ll wake up smiling.


 Mingyu’s gift is a little less permanent but no less amazing. He spoils the omega (and all of them, actually) with wonderfully-made food all day, presented with dramatic flourishes and shy but proud smiles. The first thing Joshua eats is a beautiful English breakfast, much to his and Hansol’s delight. He had completely recovered from his brief period of not taking care of himself, and it’s with a casual eagerness that he nibbles his way through eggs and bacon while talking to the others.

He makes sure to help clean up, despite the younger’s protests, and when Mingyu attempts to shoo him back into the living room, he presses a finger firmly to his lips.

“Ah- shush. Let me help. I want to and it’s the least I can do for how much you spoil me. If I didn’t want to help you I wouldn't be here. Now hand me that towel and I’ll dry.” Mingyu pouts at him but Joshua doesn’t relent, so reluctantly the alpha lets him stick around, though the omega notices he takes most of the work for himself, humming under his breath as he goes. It’s adorable and Joshua can’t help but smile fondly at him.

When all the dishes have been cleaned and put away, Joshua snags the taller man’s hand, hopping up on the counter and pulling the younger closer between his legs. He wraps his arms around Mingyu’s broad shoulders, still smiling a little. He feels hands land lightly on his waist and smiles wider, pressing his forehead to Mingyu’s.

“I would have gotten you something physical, but I’m really bad at gift-giving-” He shuts up as Joshua leans up to kiss him, chuckling softly. Grinning ruefully, Mingyu pushes back gently, prominent canines brushing against the omega’s lips, hands moving to cup his back and hold him close (being hugged by Mingyu is one of the nicest things in life, Joshua thinks happily).

“It was perfect,” Joshua hums once he pulls away, petting down the short strands of hair on the back of the alpha’s neck. “You just being here is enough. Though, I do appreciate your restaurant-level cooking. If I could get that everyday I’d be set,” he teases. “Ah- don’t even think about it. I was joking,” he adds quickly, seeing Mingyu’s eyes widen and lips perk into a hopeful smile. Instantly, the younger deflates a little, looking disappointed. Laughing, Joshua pets his hair.

“Maybe on special occasions. I don’t want you to feel obligated. Today was wonderful all by itself. Thank you, Gyu,” he murmurs more quietly, pulling him closer. Mingyu smiles again, pressing another gentle kiss to his lips.

“Happy birthday, kitten.”


 Seokmin and Jihoon grab his attention next. The beta was smiling brightly, almost bouncing on the balls of his feet as he dragged the small omega forward. Jihoon was looking oddly embarrassed, not meeting Joshua’s eyes. It concerned the older for a moment until he saw the little flush on his cheeks.

“We made something for you too, the both of us,” Seokmin says eagerly, grinning his thousand-watt smile. Joshua blinks, because neither of them are holding anything, but Jihoon takes his hand gently, pulling him to the couch, where he opens up his laptop.

“Close your eyes,” he hums, and obediently Joshua does so, curious as to what the two could possibly have that required him to close his eyes. He’s about to question, mouth already half-open, when a pair of headphones is slid onto his ears. He keeps his eyes shut as muffled voices appear, whispering things.

"You think he’ll like it? ” Seokmin’s voice, excited and energetic.

sure hope he does.” Jihoon, dry as usual, but uncharacteristically apprehensive. He wonders what they might have been talking about.

Happy birthday, Shua! We love you! ” whispers Seokmin’s voice. Jihoon pitches in a hum of agreement. Joshua smiles, about to open his eyes and tell them just how adorable they are, but a note of music makes him pause. Clear and clean, Seokmin’s voice rings out, heavenly as it always is. Jihoon’s voice comes in a few seconds later, and Joshua can feel himself tearing up from the sheer beauty of their harmony.

It’s a beautiful song, clearly Jihoon’s handiwork, about laughter and flowers and how, no matter what, as long as they’re together, they can get through anything. He knows he’s crying but he can’t help himself; something in the song strikes a chord in him and makes him feel all sorts of weak and mushy. More so than love, it’s a song about friendship and the bonds they shared, more than just physical. He doesn’t open his eyes, losing himself in the gentle music, sniffling every now and then because he’s never heard something so beautiful.

Like this, how can there be anything I can’t do?

He opens watery eyes to look up at them, mouth open but no words coming out as the song fades to it’s last guitar notes. He can’t speak, but Jihoon smiles softly anyway, hand reaching out to cup his cheek and wipe his tears away.

“Happy birthday, flower,” he hums, eyes fond and proud. Seokmin nods beside him, and all Joshua can do is pull them into a tight hug where he cuddles them for a while, letting the song play on repeat, a beautiful echo in his ears.


 When his tears have long been dried and the younger two let him have a little time to himself sitting at the table, he’s a little surprised to see a cup of steaming tea be set down in front of him. When he looks up, Wonwoo is there, sliding into the seat across from him, a small smile on his face.

“Having a good day so far?” he hums, leaning his head on one hand and observing him through kind, bespectacled eyes. Joshua can’t help but grin widely, nodding.

“The best, actually. I can’t remember a birthday where I’ve been more happy. You all spoil me so much.”

“We want to, flower. You deserve it and we like to give you nice things. Well, I don’t know how nice mine will be compared to Hansol’s or Jihoon and Seokmin’s, but...well, I saw it and it reminded me of you. Happy birthday, I guess.” From his lap he sets down a rectangular parcel on the table, perfectly-wrapped in silver paper. He slides it to Joshua, who picks it up curiously, hefting the unusually heavy object in his hands. He has a sneaking suspicion he knows what it is based just on it’s size and shape, but as he carefully peels back the paper (he likes to keep the wrapping paper intact; it’s a thing with him), he finds out he’s pleasantly surprised.

It’s a book, like the one Minghao gave him, but much more...book-like, less bulky. It has a plain, creamy, off-white cover, decorated only by a printed golden lily. He flips open the cover and finds, in the bottom right corner of the front page, a neat scrawl of “To our flower, from Wonwoo ♡” in black ink, oddly cute for the normally rather reserved younger omega.

The first few pages are blank, then, all of a sudden, there’s writing. Hundreds and hundreds of hand-written words, all of it Wonwoo’s neat handwriting, covering the pages. Elegant love poems and little stories and long paragraphs that gush about him in every way; every little thing makes him blush the more he reads. It just screams Wonwoo on every page, from the smell of ink to the way he occasionally finds a blot on the paper, scribbled in to look like hearts and cute little things.

Eventually, the writing ends, around halfway through the book, but Wonwoo keeps smiling.

“Turn to the back,” he advises casually, and, raising an eyebrow, Josuha does so, immediately grinning at the combination of twelve other people’s handwriting, all about how much they love him.

“I may have gotten a bit carried away with the first part, but you can fill in the rest however you’d like,” Wonwoo says softly, smile slipping a little as Joshua stands up very suddenly, walking around to stand in front of him and pull him into a heavy kiss.

“How long did that take you?” the older asks, feeling oh-so light with warmth and affection.

“If it’s about you? The words came easy,” Wonwoo smiles, poetic as always. Joshua laughs, connecting their lips again. He knows exactly what he’s going to write about.


 Hand in hand with Soonyoung, Josuha walks down a path in a nearby park, bundled up in two coats and thick mittens. Despite all that, he’s still shivering a little, but the alpha pulls him closer and smooches his rosy cheeks, tinted pink from the chill.

“You look so cute like this,” the younger coos, and Joshua rolls his eyes, trying not to let his teeth chatter. Soonyoung holds his hand a little tighter, taking him along a path that leads to a small pond. Though already iced-over, it’s a pretty sight nonetheless, and Joshua snaps a picture the best he can while his hands are trembling and his mittens make it hard to control his fingers. Eventually, he has to pull the mittens off (with some difficulty), but it leaves the tips of his fingers pink and shaking badly.

Before he can do anything, Soonyoung takes both of his hands, rubbing them between his own aggressively, puffing a warm breath over them. It makes it a little easier to stretch his fingers, but the alpha doesn’t let him go, kissing the backs of his hands with soft lips and cheeky grins. Chuckling, Joshua cups his face, bringing him in for a proper kiss. Soonyoung tastes like the hot chocolate they shared while they walked, and the omega breaths in his sweet peach scent slowly.

“Sorry it’s so cold, flower, I hope your fingers end up ok,” Soonyoung hums once they pull away, but again Joshua rolls his eyes.

“I don’t care if my fingers fall off if it means I get to be here with you.”

“That’s sweet, but I’d rather not see that.” Joshua lets out a bark of laughter at the younger’s slightly disgruntled expression. He pulled his mittens back on after Soonyoung insists, and once again they wander around, hands tightly clasped.

“It’s snowing,” Soonyoung points out quietly after a while, head tilting towards the sky. Indeed, fat white flakes of snow drift slowly down, muffling the faint sounds of the world around them and surrounding them in a blanket of peaceful silence.

“I figure now is as good a time as any to wish you a happy birthday, flower,” Soonyoung says with a grin, taking his hands again and turning to him. “Your present is getting to walk with the great and wonderful Soonyoung for a while.” Joshua giggled, nuzzling the alpha’s cheek.

“It’s an amazing present. I love it very much. Maybe I should bug the great and wonderful Soonyoung for such a gift every weekend.” He pitches his voice into amused sarcasm, and instantly the younger plays along.

“I bet he would be very glad to do that,” he chuckles, peppering the omega’s cold cheeks with warm kisses.

It’s snowing lazily, and Joshua’s fingers are still freezing, but his heart feels warm with content as he pulls Soonyoung into a tight hug.


 When they get back, his hand is immediately grabbed by Jun, who drags him into his room without much explanation, large box in hand. Grinning so brightly Joshua can see his teeth, the younger omega hands him the box, practically bouncing up and down. Chuckling, Joshua sits on the edge of the bed, wondering what could possibly be in the box that garnered so much of Jun’s excitement.

Lifting the cover away, his eyes widen as he sets them on the pretty, pale mint-colored button-up blouse, gold stitching running along the hem and collar. Running his fingers over it, he smiles at the smooth, silky texture. He lifts it out of it’s box to find that it’s a little sheer and the sleeves were long and baggy, probably very comfortable.

“There’s more,” Jun giggles, actually rocking up and down on the balls of his feet. Already impressed, Joshua goes back to the box to find a pair of black jeans, a golden flower winking at him from the left back pocket, an echo of the blouse’s ornamentation.

Without any words at all, he stands suddenly, taking both with him into the bathroom and changing.

The blouse drapes over his body in a loose, silky cloud, hanging a little past his fingertips. The mint goes surprisingly well with the blue flower around his neck and he loves the way the fabric feels against his back. The jeans hug his legs just enough to show them off, but not hurt, and he finds himself twisting in the mirror to observe himself from all angles. He looks good, Jun’s eye for clothing bringing out his eyes and long legs. He runs a hand down his chest, smiling at the silky feel.

When he comes back out, Jun looks a little apprehensive, but it quickly drains away when he sees Joshua wearing the new outfit, and it turns into a smile when the older throws his arms around his neck, nuzzling his cheek.

“I don’t know how you always manage to find the perfect things to wear,” Joshua mumbles into his neck, hugging him tightly. Jun laughs, hugging him back, almost picking him up off the floor.

“I’m happy you like it, flower. Took me a while to find something worthy of you. But...you look really good. As usual, of course,” he adds with a wink, and Joshua knows he’s blushing a little.

“You flatter me,” he groans, tucking his face back in the younger’s throat and breathing in his cherry blossom scent. It calms him as it always does and he finds himself sinking into Jun’s embrace happily.

“Happy birthday, Shua,” Jun hums softly, petting his hair. Joshua hums back, still hugging him. Jun is really unfairly good at picking out things to wear.


 Jeonghan and Seungcheol come back just as the sun is starting to set as promised, exchanging sneaky smiles as they shoo the others out the door. Once they have the house to themselves and Joshua, they gladly let the omega run into their arms, Seungcheol actually picking him up and twirling him around, all of them laughing gleefully.

“Happy birthday,” the two alphas chorus in unison, and Joshua smiles wider, giving each of them a swift, fond kiss.

“You’re gonna have to work hard to top what the others got me,” he chuckles teasingly. He knows by then that they won’t get mad. Indeed, they just grin, smiles turning to smirks.

“Oh, trust me, if this is a contest I think we’ll win,” Jeonghan purrs, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling him closer. Joshua smirks right back, shooting the oldest a glance to see his eyes lit up with something clever. It’s an unusually Jeonghan-like expression to see on Seungcheol’s face but it’s amusing, so Joshua giggles again. Both of the alphas squish closer to nuzzle his neck, hugging him between them.

When Joshua feels a cool hand slide under his shirt he knows they won’t remain standing in the living room for long, so he lets Jeonghan tug him up the stairs, Seungcheol following closely behind. After they admire him in Jun's hand-picked ensemble for a while, clothes are quickly discarded (though Joshua keeps his new necklace and ring on; the alphas don’t mind at all) and hands begin to wander, roaming over skin and pulling each other close.

Despite their initial eagerness, the rest is slow. Their intimacy fills the air in the form of whispered praises and little noises of pleasure, gentle fingers brushing tenderly against cheeks and through hair. The two alphas are happy to let Joshua do whatever he wants with the night, whether it be rocking himself up and down in Jeonghan’s lap or clinging tightly to Seungcheol’s shoulders and falling apart beneath him. They never push too hard; Jihoon's voice warning them "don't you dare" is burned into their brains. But, they do continue to lavish him with the love and praise they know Joshua deserves, his soft moans not enough to cover up their murmured words of utter adoration.

Joshua feels good, both inside and out, physically and mentally, body warm with pleasure and love. Their scents fill his nose and make his head spin and it’s still the most lovely combination of roses and rain he could ever hope to experience. He willingly loses himself in their arms, knowing they’ll always be there to guide him back to them.

And when he can’t push himself anymore, spent and a little exhausted but blissed-out and very satisfied, the two alphas take care of him, still humming praise and little confessions of love to him as they clean off and carry him back to bed. But before Joshua can tug them into laying down with him, they shuffle around so he stays sitting up, Jeonghan behind him, Seungcheol in front of him. With a jolt Joshua realizes it’s the exact position they were in when they first claimed him as their mate. The thought makes a tingle rush through his body, starting from his claiming marks and spreading to the tips of his fingers and toes in a warm rush.

“Joshua,” Seungcheol begins softly, and the omega makes an encouraging hum, letting the older take his hands. “We love you very much. More than anything. You’re our everything, Shua, we could never be without you. We love you so, so much, and I hope you never have to doubt that ever again.”

“We will do whatever it takes to make sure you know we love you, because we really do. We would do anything for you,” Jeonghan continues, setting his chin on the younger’s shoulder, arms wrapping around his waist. “Above all, your happiness is what matters to us. Nothing makes us happier than seeing you happy.”

Joshua doesn’t know how to respond, so he stays silent, knowing they have more to say. Indeed, Seungcheol leans away from him to grab something from the dresser, a small, red satin-covered box that makes his heart rate pick up wildly.

“Chan kinda beat us to the punch, but we spent all day getting this ready, so…”

Delicately, Seungcheol opens the box, revealing a silver band with three stones set snugly across it: a pretty, pale green peridot on the right side, a dazzling opal on the left, and in the middle, a beautiful blue zircon. Joshua recognizes them as the birthstones of their respective birthday months, with his in the middle.

His eyes widen and fill up with tears as he tears his gaze away from the unique and meaningful ring to stare into Seungcheol’s hesitantly optimistic black eyes. He turns, seeing the same hopeful, slightly apprehensive look on Jeonghan’s face as well.

“What- what we mean to say is,” Jeonghan continues after a pause, voice uncharacteristically wary, “will you give us the honor of getting to make you happy for the rest of our lives? Will you marry us?”

Joshua can’t speak; his throat is closed up and even if it wasn’t he doesn’t know what he would say. Tears spill freely from his eyes as he looks between them, taking in their hopeful expressions, which start to slip when he continues to be silent.

Then, with a choked sort of sob, he nods frantically, letting Seungcheol pick up his fingers and slide the beautiful ring onto his left hand, where it glints and catches the light because his whole body is trembling. He can hardly see through his tears, but he pulls the oldest alpha in for a tight hug, sobbing into his shoulder. Jeonghan hugs him from behind, voice soothing but obviously very happy.

“Yes, I’ll marry you,” he whispers faintly once he can drag in enough breath to speak again, but the words cause another flood of emotional tears to fall, though he holds Seungcheol no less tightly. “I love you, I love you so much,” he mumbles over and over again, eventually turning to hug Jeonghan too. He drags both of them to his chest, burrowing into their warm embrace and continuing to sniffle. They dry his eyes with tender touches, holding him close, murmuring how much they love him back.

“And just to make something clear, this doesn’t confine you to us,” Seungcheol adds, once Joshua’s stopped crying so hard. “You can still love the others and whomever you’d like, we won’t stop you.”

“But we do want most of your affection. I can’t go a day without my daily dose of Joshua cuddles,” Jeonghan teases, voice light and happy. His expression turns loving when Joshua clumsily presses their lips together, sniffling renewed.

“Don’t cry, sweetheart.” Seungcheol chuckles a little, thumbering the tears away from his eyes carefully before pressing a kiss to the tip of his nose, red-tinted from crying. Joshua manages to withhold his sniffles for all of three seconds before, with a watery laugh, he lets the tears fall again, feeling overwhelmed by their love but in a good way.

They continue to hold him until he stops crying, and after Jeonghan is finished gently dabbing the wetness from his cheeks, Joshua holds his hand out to observe the ring more closely. He takes it off momentarily to inspect the inside, finding a very simple engraving of “S・J・J”. Smiling fondly, he slips it back on, where it fits perfectly around his finger.

“How did you guys find out my ring size?” he chuckles, because the sudden thought makes him laugh.

“Uh...we may or may not have checked while you were sleeping. Y’know, you’re a real deep sleeper, you know that?” Jeonghan snickers, looking not at all embarrassed.

“That’s creepy, Hannie.”

“Hey, at least it fits.” At that, Joshua has to smile, and he goes back to tilting his hand this way and that, watching the way the dim lighting of the room makes the gems seem to glow in their holdings.

“It’s beautiful,” he murmurs softly, and again he tilts his head up to kiss them softly, almost lazily.

“You’re beautiful,” Seungcheol grins, and, trying not to show how flustered that makes him even after all this time, Joshua looks back down at his hands. On his left sits his new ring- his engagement ring, he thinks wondrously- and on his right, Chan’s promise ring glints dully, a reminder of his bond to 10 others who share his heart. He’s hit with another overwhelming wave of love, making his heart feel warm and giddy in his chest, and he sits up properly to kiss his alphas again, cupping their faces gently.

He bares his neck obediently when Seungcheol gently tilts his chin out of the way, and he shudders when he feels lips over one of his claiming marks.

“Your heart is mine, and in return my heart is yours, now and forever,” he whispers, having murmured the very same words the first time Joshua let his teeth sink into his neck. He closes his eyes with a sigh, relaxing against the older.

Then he draws in a shuddering breath as he feels canines prick through his skin, brightening and calling on the bond created there. For a split second, he can feel all that Seungcheol feels, waves of fond, protective love making him smile. It doesn’t hurt, not at all, almost pleasurable instead. He lets out another soft sigh when Seungcheol pulls away, kissing over the renewed bite mark tenderly before pressing another light kiss to his lips.

Jeonghan moves to take his place, and Joshua tilts his head to the other side, where the younger alpha’s claiming mark still resides. Softly, he repeats the words Seungcheol had uttered, wrapping his arms loosely around the omega’s waist before he too bites down. His teeth were a little sharper than Seungcheol’s, but it didn’t hurt at all that time either, instead hitting Joshua with a rush of all of Jeonghan’s excited, sappy emotions. It makes his whole body tingle, and the pins and needles poking at his throat only increase when Jeonghan pulls away, a bright smile on his pretty face.

Giggling as the younger alpha peppers his throat in kisses, Joshua pushes him back a little, and Jeonghan bares his neck. Joshua kisses his rose-scented skin lovingly before carefully sinking his teeth in, strengthening their bond once again, this time with a conviction that surprises even himself.

“My heart is yours,” he promises quietly when he pulls away, gazing into Jeonghan’s slightly hazy eyes. He pulls Seungcheol closer by the shirt and murmurs the same words, burying his face in the older’s neck for a moment, just breathing in his calming scent for several seconds. Then, as he had with Jeonghan, he reinforces his claim, careful not to dig his teeth too deep. Seungcheol sighs happily when he pulls away, patting his cheek with a slightly clumsy, uncoordinated hand.

Then Jeonghan and Seungcheol look at each other, and move forward at the same time, kissing slowly for a moment before performing the same little ritual. It makes Joshua’s heart absolutely melt, to watch them love and to know he’s a permanent part of that, never to be shunned or abandoned.

Then Seungcheol turns to him and pulls him flush against his chest, one hand around his waist and the other threading through his hair.

“I love you, Joshua, so much,” he murmurs softly. “And I always will. You and Jeonghan both. I will always love you.” The omega feels another hand in his hair, senses another presence cuddle close, and he smiles.

“I love you too, sweetheart. And you too, Cheolie. Till my last breath,” Jeonghan whispers into his ear, voice floaty and breathy like a feather in the wind.

“So morbid,” Joshua chuckles gently, but he melts into the kisses they offer, molds himself to them like putty, weak in their hands but willingly so.

“I love you. With all my heart and all my being, I will cherish you for as long as I live.” Tone formal but strong, he takes their hands and presses kisses to them, letting the silence fall comfortably as they gaze lovingly at each other.

Then Jeonghan can’t hold himself back anymore and lets out a loud, delighted laugh, tugging Joshua into a tight hug and nuzzling him aggressively.

“Fuck, I love you so goddamn much, you know that?” he crows happily, littering kisses all over his face and neck. Joshua laughs along with him, hugging the older back. Seungcheol smiles fondly, pulling both of them to lie down with him.

The two alphas situate Joshua between them, each throwing an arm over the younger’s body to hold him. Drowsiness washing over him, Josuha turns so he can press one last kiss to his alpha’s lips, feeling so completely and utterly in love he isn’t sure if he would even be able to fall asleep.

But their constant murmurs of love and affection quickly lull him, and his last thought before he falls asleep is of the others, his alphas standing closest to him, all smiling widely at the omega. When he closes his eyes he knows he will never be alone again, and as he drifts off he dreams of gentle kisses and kind hands, holding him in a secure, loving embrace.

 

It’s all he could ever ask for.

 

~End~

Chapter Text

Joshua was used to idly floating around from person to person, whoever happened to be in the house at the time, gaining kisses from those who noticed his hovering. He'd be draped over Wonwoo's shoulders one moment, rubbing his cheek on the other omega's back, and then the next moment he'd be being picked up and twirled around by Chan, who was surprisingly strong for his small and skinny stature. It was nice, to always have someone there with him. Far nicer than being on his own for long periods of time anyway.

It was comfortable. They didn't fight over him, and he made sure they all talked when they disagreed over something. They fell into a comfortable routine, simple and easy and slow, and things were good.

Until things got a tiny bit too comfortable. Sometimes Joshua knew the lines blurred just a tiny bit, when Mingyu casually wrapped an arm around Jeonghan's waist without thinking, or when Seungkwan would happily snuggle Seokmin on the couch, but usually it never went further than that before they came to their senses and awkwardly shuffled away from each other. Joshua thought it was cute.

But then one day, as he's lying on Hansol's chest on the couch, both of them nearly asleep, he can't help but feel like something funny is going to happen. Mostly though, he's just sleepy. Hansol's comfortable and warm, and Joshua can feel a wide hand running up and down his back in slow, repetitive movements, comforting and definitely relaxing. He's long since closed his eyes, resigning himself to the haze of sleep hanging over his head, breaths coming deep and even. Hansol's hand slowed to a stop over his back, jolted into motion, slowed again, stopped, and didn't move, signaling to Joshua that the beta had probably fallen asleep.

He's three seconds away from falling asleep as well when the door opens suddenly, forcing his eyes open to see who it is. Through his mildly blurry vision, he can't really tell, but he feels a hand in his hair and smiles a little, pressing his head into the touch. 

"I know you're probably sleepy, baby, but can you get up for me? Seungkwan's demanding I send Hansol back home," Jeonghan's voice murmurs in his ear, and Joshua hums a soft noise of protest, turning his face into Hansol's chest. Hansol's warm, why does he have to get up? "C'mon, love, don't make me drag you, " Jeonghan chuckles, and Joshua whines again, tightening his hold around Hansol's torso for a second before stilling. 

"...Do I have to?" he mumbles reluctantly, and Jeonghan laughs again.

"Unless you want a pouty Seungkwan on your hands, yes, I'm afraid. I'll cuddle with you," he offers, and that motivates Joshua just a tiny bit. He's further motivated when Hansol moves a little, probably trying to sit up before remembering Joshua's lying on his chest.

"'S Kwannie calling?" Hansol mumbles tiredly, opening his eyes. Jeonghan hums an affirmation, petting Joshua's hair lovingly. Hansol nods, closing his eyes for a second before moving to sit up; a slightly difficult endeavor with Joshua lying on him but one he tries with admirable effort. "Josh, I know you're tired, but I gotta get up. I'll let you fall asleep on me sometimes soon, mkay?"

"...Is that a promise?"

"Definitely," Hansol chuckles, pressing his lips to Joshua's temple briefly before trying to roll him off. Joshua clings for a moment to savor his warmth before reluctantly letting go, sliding onto the couch cushion next to him.

"Where's Cheol?" Joshua hums as Hansol stands up to grab his coat, eyes still droopy. Jeonghan looks over his shoulder.

"He should be coming in soon; he was in the car with me- ah, there he is," he grins as the door opens again and a very distracted Seungcheol walks in, trying to put his coat on while looking at his phone. Joshua coos happily, reaching out with grabby hands for him, and Jeonghan makes a slightly strangled noise that Joshua knows means the alpha thinks he's cute.

"I gotta go now, but Shua's on the couch," Hansol calls to Seungcheol as he walks past the alpha, who's still looking at his phone.

"Oh- yeah, thanks babe," Seungcheol mumbles absently, and then Joshua's eyes widen when, completely distracted, Seungcheol leans over to press a kiss to the corner of Hansol's mouth, eyes still on his phone, trying ineffectually to put on his coat the right way. Judging by Seungcheol's vacant expression, the action was completely automatic and unintended, and with the way he's humming to himself, he probably hasn't even registered it.

But Hansol is definitely more aware, if his bright pink cheeks say anything. He hasn't moved for a solid 10 seconds, frozen in place while Seungcheol plops himself down at the kitchen table.

And then Jeonghan bursts into hysterical laughter, throwing his head back onto the cushions while Joshua tries and fails to stifle his giggles with his hands. That finally seems to get Seungcheol's attention, and he looks up with a confused expression, full lips pouting just slightly, and when he sees Jeonghan's wild grin and Joshua's highly amused smirk, he looks over at Hansol, who's still beet-red and hasn't moved. It's then that he seems to realize what he did, and, eyes widening, he stands up again, stammering an embarrassed apology that just makes Jeonghan and Joshua laugh harder.

"Shit- I- I'm so sorry-" Seungcheol tries to start, but Hansol just holds up a hand.

"...I'm gonna...I'm gonna go now. Don't worry about it. Well this is awkward I'm gonna leave bye Joshua!" he says in one long breath, practically bolting out the door. When it swings shut, Joshua finally starts laughing properly, joining Jeonghan in his uncontrollable cackling while Seungcheol sits back down and puts his head in his hands.

"I did not mean to do that," he groans and Jeonghan regains his head long enough to smirk.

"We know. But it was still hilarious," he snickers, and Seungcheol groans again, head thumping onto the table. Joshua pushes himself off of the couch, walking over and draping himself over the alpha's broad shoulders.

"Don't be embarrassed, Cheolie, that was cute," he coos, rubbing his cheek all over the back of Seungcheol's head. Seungcheol just makes another weird noise halfway between something embarrassed and something endeared. It takes him a moment to speak again.

"...Seungkwan's gonna murder me."

Jeonghan and Joshua start laughing again.

Chapter Text

"You're pregnant?!" Joshua nods shyly at Wonwoo's gasp, and he avoids looking at the other omega, cheeks pinking. There's a bit of a tense silence in which neither of them speak. 

"Oh my god, Joshua, that's- that's amazing! I'm so happy for you!" Joshua, though he was initially incredibly nervous, laughs as Wonwoo stands to pull him into a tight hug with lots of kisses. "Do Jeonghan and Seungcheol know?"

"Yeah, I told them first," Joshua hums, breathing in Wonwoo's calming vanilla scent. "I knew you would stay calm so...be honored that I chose you next."

"I really am," Wonwoo chuckles, laying his hands on Joshua's still-flat stomach. "Do you know when you conceived?" Joshua blushes faintly at that, lacing their fingers together.

"Well, Hannie's rut was about two and a half weeks ago, so it was probably then. I got suspicious when I started really, really hating the smell of strawberries, which I normally like, so I bought a test and..." Joshua trails off with a shrug, smiling shyly, and Wonwoo brings him in for another kiss, though he frowns when Joshua's expression falls.

"What's wrong, love?" he asks softly, nuzzling Joshua's hair.

"...The others are gonna dote on me so much," Joshua groans, wrapping his arms around Wonwoo's chest. "I'm not gonna be able to take two steps without Mingyu asking if I'm alright."

"I'll try to reign him in, but you know how he is, flower," Wonwoo laughs. "We all dote on you because we love you. In fact, I'd be more worried about Jeonghan. I don't even know if he'll let us touch you in the next few weeks. It's that candid alpha overprotectiveness. But don't worry love, you'll be ok," he murmurs in a softer voice, because he can smell the underlying worry and unease in Joshua's scent, bitter and musky. Joshua smiles, and his scent returns to normal. Well, actually, Wonwoo notices that Joshua smells even sweeter than before, softer and sort of rich and floral, green tea mixed with roses. Definitely Jeonghan's child. "Seungcheol wasn't upset, was he?"

"Oh no, not at all," Joshua chuckles, burying his nose in Wonwoo's neck. "He was quite ecstatic, actually. Kept telling me that I smelled really good."

"You do," Wonwoo hums, holding Joshua closer. He's never really thought about making a family with Mingyu, not yet anyway, but he's unexpectedly excited for his flower. It'll be so cute to have a little baby running around for them to take care of...

"You guys will take care of me, right?" Joshua mumbles, and Wonwoo realizes that the little baby he needs to watch over is right in his arms.

"Of course, flower, don't worry. We'll all help you with whatever you want," he assures, giving Joshua one last little kiss before hugging him tightly again. Now he just needs to find a way to make sure Mingyu stays calm when he finds out...


Joshua brings everyone to his house to tell them all at once, figuring it'll be easier, and when Soonyoung, Mingyu, and Chan walk into the room, they all look at Joshua and immediately know something is different. He smells sweeter, softer, fertile and warm, but there's also unease, nervousness, a bitter scent that make them worried.

"Are you ok, flower? Your scent is really different," Mingyu asks carefully, walking over to pet Joshua's hair from where he sits in between Seungcheol and Jeonghan.

"Yeah, I noticed that, actually. Really...soft," Seungkwan comments, nose in the air. "It doesn't smell like your heat scent though. More...I dunno, rich? Are you ok? Do you need to go to a doctor-"

"I'm pregnant," Joshua blurts out, and immediately covers his mouth, eyes wide. Everyone in the room stares at him for a second and Wonwoo hides a smile behind his hand, sharing a grin with Jeonghan.

"...You're pregnant?" Jihoon repeats, eyes even wider than Joshua's. Joshua nods shyly, covering his face with his hands, waiting for the inevitable explosion that will probably start with Mingyu.

Surprisingly, it's Chan who first crouches in front of him, taps his knee, and gets him to look up from his hands. "Congrats, flower," he whispers with a grin, leaning up to smooch his nose. Joshua blushes further, hesitantly putting his hands on Chan's shoulders, and that's when everyone finally reacts, cheers filling the air in a somewhat overwhelming way that grates on Joshua's ears. He'd really like some quiet...

"Alright, alright, please no crowding," Seungcheol orders, shooing them away a little. "Now I am totally down for all of you to help taking care of him but just like...back off if he gets overwhelmed, ok?" They all nod, but Joshua puts a hand on his alpha's arm. He can lay down rules for himself.

"This is new for me, so I'm a little scared," he begins, and Jeonghan wraps an arm tight around his waist, "but I'm also really excited. So just...sorry in advance if I'm grumpy and snap at one of you if all my hormones are messed up..."

"No, we could never be mad at you for that, flower, don't worry," Minghao soothes, face kind. "We just want to make sure you're comfortable. Also Mingyu, are you good man?" Everyone looks to Mingyu, who's practically vibrating where he stands, an expression of badly-concealed glee on his face. He looks three seconds from exploding.

"Can I hug you?" he whispers in a very strained way, looking at Joshua, who blinks and laughs before nodding, holding his arms out for the alpha to scoop him up and twirl him around, squealing happily and gushing praises, littering kisses all over his face. Joshua laughs, hugging Mingyu's broad shoulders and gently urging the alpha to set him down. "You smell so good," Mingyu huffs, taking a slow, deep inhale of his sweet, rich scent, like warm milk and green tea. It almost makes him thirsty. 

"I've been told," Joshua chuckles, thinking to when Jeonghan and Seungcheol had repeatedly told him that once they knew he was pregnant. Mingyu just kisses his adam's apple before pulling away, allowing him to sit back down. 

"Do you feel alright?" Hansol asks gently, and Joshua nods, looking down at his hands. He hasn't faced any morning sickness quite yet, which he's grateful for, and right now the only thing inconveniencing him is the fact that now, all strawberry-scented things disgust him and he dislikes loud noises. 

"Well, if you need us, we're always here to take care of you, flower," Wonwoo calls from his seat by the window, and Joshua nods, offering a smile. He's grateful that he isn't alone, not anymore. 


When he first experiences the horrible, horrible thing known as morning sickness, Jeonghan coos to him softly and rubs his back until he feels better. Seungcheol fixes him simple things to eat that won't aggravate his stomach but are also healthy enough to keep him and the baby strong, and though Joshua hates the feeling of throwing up, it's dampened slightly by both of his husbands' attempts to keep him happy and relaxed. He appreciates the effort, if nothing else. 

As his stomach starts to bump out slightly, he gets weird, unbidden bouts of sadness that come from nowhere, and when he dropped a plate one Saturday afternoon, he spent an hour crying about it, and Seungcheol had to call over Wonwoo and Jihoon to help make him feel better. From there, being surrounded by the other omegas helped Joshua feel much more balanced, more in-control of his haywire hormones. It wouldn't be strange to see them cuddling in one big pile on Joshua's bed, the others curled around Joshua's frame as he dozed lightly.

Around four months in, he would get snappy and short-tempered, and the mild-mannered betas were usually the ones around him, responding to his frustrated rantings with calm words and gentle kisses. They would massage his back when he got annoyed with all the little things, listen to his dislike of the stupid neighbor and his stupid TV that he played way too loudly, and when he got too tired to be annoyed, they would feed him whatever he was craving and tell him little stories and watch his frustration turn into sleepy contentedness. 

Seven months in, and Joshua starts feeling incredibly insecure about his body. He hates how he looks so strange and alien and blobby and most of the time he wishes he could just look normal again. When he brings it up to Jihoon one day, lamenting about how he can't fit into any of his jeans, he wakes up the next morning to Soonyoung, Chan, and Mingyu aggressively complimenting him on his doorstep, demanding to praise him and cheer him up again. They spend the day coddling him and rubbing his very pregnant belly, cooing happily to him. By the end of the day, he had laughed so hard that it probably wasn't healthy, and though he still couldn't fit into his jeans, he smiled whenever Mingyu called him the most beautiful thing on earth (besides his Wonu, of course).

During the eighth month, they would all come over and snuggle him to sleep, cooing soft things and telling him how good he was doing. Being rather sleepy most of the time, Joshua usually tunes out their voices as he falls into slumber, but he never tells them to stop. He always falls asleep to affectionate words, hands petting his hair and his body, reminding him of how much they love him. The house fills with the scent of a pregnant omega and his guardians, protectiveness mixed with a soft, sweet richness.


He goes into labor a week before the date on his calendar, waking up in the wee hours of the morning to a wetness between his legs and a terrible cramping all over his abdomen. Seungcheol and Jeonghan rush him to the hospital, the older alpha close to panicking, but Jeonghan just tells him to shut up and drive, so he does, and a surprisingly short 6 hours later, Joshua holds a teeny, tiny baby girl in his arms, eyes wide and fascinated. He made this. He stares down into brown eyes that kind of look like his and coos, head tilted, all pain forgotten. He's heard of some omega parents experiencing post-partum depression, but all he can think of in the moment is that he is holding his world in his arms. He loves her immediately. 

Jeonghan is the one sobbing when he first gets to hold his tiny daughter, trying to cry as quietly as possible as he bounces her gently and croons nonsense words to her, love filling his eyes.

When Seungcheol first holds her, Joshua has to admit that his instinctive omega side, for a split second, doesn't like the alpha holding his child. He's not the father, so for a tiny moment, he wants Seungcheol to give his daughter back to him or to Jeonghan, but then he looks down at the ring on his hand and remembers that Seungcheol is not someone he needs to be afraid of. Besides, with the way Seungcheol gazes down at the child in his arms, so painfully fond, even Jeonghan looks happy.

"What should we name her?" Jeonghan whispers, lying beside Joshua in the hospital bed, petting his hair, pressing a rewarding kiss to his temple every now and then. Joshua hums sleepily, tired now that the hard part is over.

"Mm...'ve always liked the name Hyojin," he murmurs, gazing down at his daughter sleepily, admiring the straight curve of her nose. She has Jeonghan's nose and his eyes and there's a little birthmark on her neck near her collarbones that looks suspiciously like an S. "Maybe Moonhae. Or Kiwon."

"I like Kiwon," Jeonghan nods, and Seungcheol hums agreement, practically asleep in his chair next to the bed.

"Kiwon it is," Joshua mumbles, smiling down at his daughter. "Hello, Kiwon," he coos, and she blinks at him. God, he's so in love. And he's also exhausted.

He falls asleep with his daughter in his arms and his husbands on either side of him, and he knows that when he gets home, everyone else will be waiting to receive him with open arms and lots of kisses. He doesn't think it gets better than this.

Chapter Text

Kiwon is a small, somber, quiet child, and it worries Joshua greatly for the first few weeks. He spends all of his time with her, making sure she's ok and flipping through every parenting book he can get his hands on. It's been a month and though Joshua is still kind of exhausted, he doesn't dare look away from her for one second. His entire being, all of his instincts, are screaming for him to protect his child and take care of her the best he can. Had they been in more traditional times, and had he possessed the ability, he would have shifted into a wolf to cradle his daughter close.

But alas, no one can do that anymore, so Joshua reluctantly settles for holding her whenever he can. He just...needs to be close. Some small part of him doesn't want her to ever feel alone. He doesn't want her to feel the fear he did when he thought he was being abandoned.

But the others were also constantly around him. Seungcheol and Jeonghan hovered around within arm's reach for as long as they could, and when they absolutely had to go back to work, they would make sure one of the others was around to keep Joshua company so he wouldn't freak out and make the whole house smell like stress. Joshua is very, very grateful for their company.

Oddly enough, it's stoic, uncertain Wonwoo who Kiwon seems to love the most besides Joshua. Whenever the other omega comes over, she'll blink at him and wave her tiny hands in his direction until Joshua hands her over. 

"I gotta admit, I'm kinda jealous," Mingyu mumbles, arms around Wonwoo's waist as the omega cradles Kiwon in his arms. Joshua, keeping an eye on his daughter as he takes the opportunity to clean up a little bit, chuckles to himself. "Don't laugh at me!"

"Shush," Wonwoo orders, still staring down at the little infant in his arms, who stares back unblinkingly. "...She's so...squishy-looking."

"I'm pretty sure all babies are, Wonwoo," Joshua snorts, holding his arms out for his daughter. His daughter. He still finds it hard to believe those words are true. He has a daughter now, a daughter he loves very much. He's still kind of emotional about it, so when Mingyu's hands wind around his hips, he smiles at the comfort. Joshua looks down at his little baby girl and offers a little smile, petting her cheeks with one fingertip, wordlessly trying to say just how much he loves her.

He receives his first smile that day, just a little upward tilt of lips, but he cries for the rest of the night about it, frantically whispering to Seungcheol how happy he is. It takes Jeonghan physically pulling him into bed to get him to sleep, and when he does, he dreams of calm brown eyes and tiny smiles.


Five months in, and Joshua is no less exhausted. More so, even. She doesn't cry often, but when he does, she cries loudly. And usually in the middle of the night. Joshua forces himself awake to go see what's wrong most of the time, but after an exhausting day of avoiding people he knew on the street who were trying to offer their congratulations, Seungcheol finally told him to shut up, keep sleeping, and let him handle it. Joshua woke up the next morning to see Seungcheol sleeping in a chair in the baby's room, Kiwon dozing peacefully against his chest. He took a lot of pictures of that event. 

Seungcheol and Jeonghan demand he take a break after he has a mental breakdown wondering if he's going to be a good parent or not, and, incredibly reluctantly, Joshua allows the others to help him, though protectiveness still surges through his veins whenever he sees Chan or Soonyoung very gently tossing her up and down to get her to laugh. 

Though, he has to admit, they're better at it than he thought. Jun, Wonwoo, Jihoon, and Seungkwan all have the same maternal instincts as him, so they're often over at his house, and he feels marginally safer letting Seungkwan handle his child than Soonyoung, and when Jun and Jihoon offer to babysit one night, he falls asleep and as a surprisingly good rest that he feels slightly guilty about and immediately goes to help make breakfast. The two younger omegas insisted it wasn't a problem, but Joshua still gave them a lot of extra kisses anyway.

When she starts moving, that's when he gets nervous. Incredibly nervous. She's also started mumbling to herself sometimes, and Joshua is both curious and slightly worried. He wonders how easily she'll pick up speaking. He knows Jun and Minghao speak to her in Mandarin when they're over, and Hansol talks to him in English when he and Seungkwan show up, and Joshua wonders if he'll have a trilingual daughter on his hands by the time she's 10. That'd be impressive.

Her first coherent word is "huā", and Joshua cries again when he hears it.


By the time Kiwon is one year old, Joshua is still tired but no less in love, and he's been trying to teach her some more complex words while also helping her take her first steps, and the others are with him every step of the way (pun not intended) to make sure he takes care of himself just as much. If he gets too stressed, Seungkwan and Seokmin and Chan take Kiwon out to the nearby park and Seungcheol and Jeonghan spoil him and bed him until he's sated and relaxed and ready to face another day. Other times, if he gets noticeably antsy, Hansol will gently take her while Mingyu and Jun massage Joshua's back and mumble about how much they love him. Sometimes, Jihoon just comes over and gives Joshua his headphones, playing some soothing piano music while the two omegas coax Kiwon to walk between them (Joshua finds out that Jihoon is also unexpectedly tender with kids and he holds that information close to his heart).

The others worry about Joshua sometimes, knowing that he's still worried about being alone and being good enough. They do their best to remind him he has them, but sometimes they know that all he really needs is a nice long rest without being disturbed. So, of course, like the good boyfriends/husbands they are, they want to help him.

"And you said Minghao and Soonyoung and Wonwoo are coming over at six thirty?" Jeonghan hums quietly, checking his watch before he opens the door. It's six fifteen, and he hopes Joshua isn't too high-strung about anything. His omega works so hard to keep their daughter happy and he couldn't be more proud but at that point he kind of just wants Joshua to sleep a little and take care of himself.

"Yep. Mingyu said he might join," Seungcheol nods, peering at his phone before gesturing for Jeonghan to open the door. They walk in as quietly as possible, and when no one greets them, unease sours their scents.

"Shua?" Jeonghan calls. He can smell Joshua's green tea scent, and Kiwon's softer, powdery sweetness that all babies possess. They must still be in the house then. 

Exchanging a look with his alpha mate, Jeonghan moves further into the house, peeking through doors and popping his head into the living room. What he sees on the couch makes him melt. "Oh, look at them," he coos, sweeping over to where Joshua's sleeping on the couch sitting up, Kiwon dozing in his arms. 

"Our sweet little babies," Seungcheol smiles, looking fondly down at them both. "C'mon, let's get Shua in bed where he belongs." Gently, he lifts Kiwon into Jeonghan's arms, who immediately starts rocking her back and forth, and then scoops Joshua up close to his chest. The omega doesn't stir much more than pushing his nose into Seungcheol's chest, and both alphas sigh lovingly.

"Poor thing, he must be so tired," Jeonghan murmurs, leading the way to their bedroom. Seungcheol hums agreement, waiting for Jeonghan to nudge the door open with his foot. He lays Joshua on the bed and pulls up the covers around their omega's slender frame, taking a moment to observe how pretty he is. He hasn't gotten much sleep over the past year but they still think he's absolutely gorgeous. 

The doorbell rings suddenly, making both of them jump, and both of the alphas bend down to kiss Joshua's forehead, murmuring loving words to him because they know he can hear them even in his sleep.

"Sweet dreams, baby," Seungcheol whispers right before they leave, and Joshua's lips twitch up into a tiny little smile as he snuggles further into the sheets.

Chapter Text

"Soonyoung, I know this is big for you, but please calm down," Jeonghan snorts, patting the other alpha's shoulder. "It's not like she's going overseas."

"I- I know, but- but they just grow up so fast," Soonyoung sniffles, pretending(?) to wipe away a tear. "Already going to pre-school..."

"Y'know, to be honest, I'm kinda surprised Shua isn't freaking out," Seungcheol mumbles, looking over to where Joshua is crouched next to his daughter, both of them looking fairly serious. Sometimes, the weird, knowing look in his own daughter's eyes creeps him out, and though Seungcheol loves her very, very much, he can't help but wonder what her mind is like on the inside. 

Meanwhile, Joshua, while nervous, is doing his best not to lapse into his separation anxiety. "Remember to be good for your teachers, mkay?" he reminds gently, petting her cheeks. "And if you need anything, say it." Kiwon nods, thin lips set in a relaxed line.

"...Why is Soonie crying?" she asks quietly in her soft, even voice. Joshua looks over and chuckles, waving his fingers at the three alphas.

"He's just sad to see you getting all grown-up. He loved it when you were a baby. He still loves you now, of course, but he's just emotional," he explains. He's learned long ago that Kiwon is much, much smarter than she seems and he's a mixture of perplexed and proud about it.

"Where's Jihoonie? Is he here too?" To that, Joshua shakes his head with a soft hum.

"I'm sorry baby, Hoonie had to work today. You know he makes music, right? Soonie got a day off so he could watch." Kiwon nods, looking thoughtful, then waddles over to Soonyoung's legs to give him a hug. Soonyoung looks on the verge of breaking down about it and even Jeonghan is holding a hand over his mouth to hide a smile. Josuha's heart overflows with fondness and he can't help but melt into the hug Seungcheol gives him.

"You've come so far, sweetheart, I'm so proud of you," he whispers, and Joshua knows he means more than just what's in front of them. He hums, nodding once, and pauses to breathe in Seungcheol's strong petrichor scent, something that never fails to calm him. He knows, realistically, that very little could possibly go wrong. The pre-school has his number, Jeonghan and Seungcheol's number, and, should push come to shove, Wonwoo's number, since Joshua knows the other omega works very flexible hours and could get by with missing a bit of his shift. 

He looks down when he feels a tug on his pant leg and he crouches again to give Kiwon a tight hug, petting back her hair. "Me and Channie will pick you up after school, alright? I'm sure he'll have something interesting to teach you," he murmurs, and Kiwon makes a noise of acknowledgement, parting from him slowly. Even though she's got that strange, old aura around her, she's still a child, and she clings to Joshua's leg when he stands. He smiles down at her reassuringly and though she doesn't smile back, her eyes puff up a little in the way that Joshua knows means she's happy. 

"You'll do great, baby, I know you will," Jeonghan crows, bending to pick up his daughter and kiss her cheek. She allows the fondness, but her brows furrow cutely. It reminds Seungcheol greatly of Joshua. 

"Ah. They're calling us," Kiwon suddenly mumbles, and she wiggles to get out of Jeonghan's arms, who lets her down reluctantly. She lets Seungcheol give her head one last kiss and snags Soonyoung's left leg in one last hug before hurrying over to the other pre-schoolers, who were waiting for her to arrive.

"...It'll be fine, love," Jeonghan hums to a very quiet Joshua, who simply nods, watching his daughter turn around to look at him as she walks inside. He waves and she lifts a hand before the door swings shut. "...Shall we go, then?"

"...I guess."


Joshua drives to pick up Chan first, pulling up to the college and waiting. When he sees the brown-haired alpha he waves, and Chan hurries over, hopping inside.

"Hi flower. How was your day? How did it go?" Chan hums, clicking his seatbelt in as Joshua drives out of the parking lot.

"Well, I personally think it went fine. Soonyoung cried a bit, but other than than nothing exploded and no one died so I'd call that good." Chan laughs, and Joshua smiles; Chan's laugh is one of his favorite sounds.  

"I'll make sure to never let him live that down then," Chan grins, and Joshua rolls his eyes fondly. 

The drive to the pre-school is filled with mindless chatter about Chan's dance classes and Joshua's escapades with trying to figure out if his daughter was a reincarnated god or not and sooner than they think, they're pulling up to the little building, where Kiwon is waiting obediently by the sidewalk with the other kids.

"Hey there Kiwi! How was your first day?" Chan asks excitedly, picking her up and twirling her around as Joshua goes to sign them out. 

"I dunno. I don't think the other kids like me," she shrugs, not sounding very bothered. At Chan's frown and head tilt, she shrugs again. "They think I'm creepy, but that's ok. There's a boy who shared his orange with me. His name's Sangwoon and now he's my favorite." Chan snorts at her phrasing, letting her stand on her own two legs again. 

"Ready to go home?" Joshua quips once he walks back over, scooping his daughter into his arms. Kiwon nods, getting comfortable, and Chan smiles at the pair, so painfully fond. He'd kiss Joshua if there weren't so many kids around. 

When they get home, Chan waves goodbye to go drop his stuff off at his own house, leaving Joshua and Kiwon to wait for Seungcheol and Jeonghan to get home. Kiwon dryly recounts her day and Joshua does the same, knowing she likes to hear about adult things. When they've both had a snack and are feeling drowsy, Joshua pulls Seungkwan's special scented blanket off of the bed and wraps himself and Kiwon in it, letting her bask in the scents. She seems to prefer Hansol's chocolate-y scent the most, sticking to the corner that he rubbed his scent glands on. Joshua finds it very cute. 

"Did you enjoy your first day?" he hums sleepily, petting back her hair.

"Yeah," Kiwon mumbles, just as tired. Joshua gives her a little squeeze, cooing fondly.

"I'm glad, baby. Now you can learn about anything you want." To that, Kiwon finally gives a small, excited smile, burying her face in her omega father's chest.

"Yay," she cheers quietly, and Joshua laughs, holding her closer. He started at the bottom and now he's here, and he doesn't think he's ever been happier.


{Time skip to high school just because~}

Joshua looks up as the door opens and closes quietly, and judging by the scent of black licorice filtering through the house, Kiwon just got home.

"Hey there Kiwi, how was your day? Did someone drop you off? You got home quick," Jeonghan comments, and Kiwon nods, chucking her bag into the corner.

"Yeah, Sangwoon's dad Namjoon gave me a lift. As for my day...it went alright."

"Care to elaborate?" Joshua prompts, and Kiwon shrugs.

"Someone said it was weird that I had a lot of parental figures so I told her that all 13 of my dads would beat up her dad and she left me alone."

"...You've been spending too much time with Jihoon," Seungcheol huffs, squinting at her. She offers a wry, squinty-eyed smile and nothing more, and Seungcheol gives up as Joshua and Jeonghan's quiet laughter fills the room. 

Chapter Text

"Are you absolutely sure you don't want to go with us?" Jeonghan checks for the millionth time. For the first maybe three times, it was cute, but now Joshua's just kind of exasperated.

"Yes, Han, I'm sure. I've been waiting for a chance to go explore and I'd rather not be caught in one of your meetings for six hours. I'm more worried about you and your uh...subpar English skills," he deadpans, and Seungcheol gasps.

"How dare you!" he cries in, admittedly not super horrible, English. Joshua raises an eyebrow.

"...Have you been practicing?" Seungcheol just smiles and Joshua decides to leave it, turning back to a still-worried Jeonghan. "Baby, don't worry. I'll be ok. I can get around London just fine. I've been wanting to go here forever, so I took a lot of time researching the maps," he soothes, and Jeonghan pulls him into a tight hug.

"Ok, but if you need something, I can't guarantee we'll answer the phone right away," he sighs, sounding regretful, but Joshua nods, hugging him back. He loves the smell of roses coming off of Jeonghan's neck.

"I know. I think one of my old friends still lives in London, so I can just ring her up if I need something." Jeonghan gives him one little squeeze, and Joshua squeezes back, allowing himself to cuddle into Jeonghan's warmth. He feels a tug on the back of his shirt and looks over his shoulder to see Seungcheol pressed against his back, holding all three of them together. Joshua loves being between them (in every way) and sighs happily, basking in their scents. 

Eventually though, he reluctantly wiggles a little to dislodge them from leeching onto his body, and makes a noise. "You two should go soon," he says softly, but they only hug him tighter.

"We'll be back before you know it," Seungcheol murmurs into his ear, "then we can go to that one cafe you always wanted to take us to."

"That'd be fun," Joshua nods, reaching back to cup Seungcheol's cheek, "but it's 20 minutes to 1 and you should really get moving," he insists, pushing the two alphas to the door. His inner omega instantly whines at the loss of warmth and contact, but he pushes it down enough to order Jeonghan to put on his shoes. He does, however, allow lots of farewell kisses before he finally shoves Seungcheol out the door, leaving him alone for once. It's kinda weird; he's used to their company now. 

Still, as he looks around at the lavish hotel room, the alone time is kinda nice, plenty of space to breathe and think. Not that he dislikes their company of course, but it's...interesting. The bed is huge and soft and Joshua can take up as much space as he wants sleeping, watching tv, and maybe getting himself off if it'll get his scents on the sheets (hotel sex is one of Jeonghan's favorite things, after all). 

He eventually decides to have mercy on the hotel workers and settles for grabbing a nice nap. He's been awake since 7:30, looking over maps of the London Underground. He wonders if he can find 221B Baker St. Visiting Big Ben is also a must, even though he knows it's gonna be crowded. Maybe he can facetime one of the others?

When he wakes up, it's well past 3, so he forces himself up and out of the soft bed. He wants to get some sightseeing done today if he can help it.

When he hears a knock on the door, he's confused. Room service maybe? He didn't call for any though... He walks over to the door, peering through the peephole, and to his surprise-

"Soonyoung? Jihoon? What are you two doing here?" he gasps, pulling open the door. Soonyoung immediately barrels into his chest for a hug, and Joshua laughs, petting back the alpha's hair. Jihoon settles for kissing his hand, and Joshua tugs them both inside to avoid staring eyes. "What are you two doing here?" he asks again, amazed, falling onto the bed again as Soonyoung cuddles him.

"Oh, y'know, we were just in town since Hoonie's music is being played at some big concert hall," Soonyoung crows proudly, blowing his mate a kiss that Jihoon completely ignores. Joshua struggles to sit upright and eventually just gives up.

"Oh my gosh, really? That's amazing, Jihoon! I'd hug you but uh...I'm a little occupied," he chuckles apologetically. Jihoon smiles kindly at him, instead leaning down to give him a quick kiss.

"Thanks, flower. We told Seungcheol and Jeonghan we might be in the area so they gave us your hotel number. We just thought we'd stop by and say hi," he explains, and Joshua smiles brightly, kissing the tip of Soonyoung's nose.

"So are you doing anything? We don't have to be at the hall until 7," Soonyoung quips, and Joshua shakes his head.

"I was napping before you guys came in. I'm free for the day, since Seungcheol and Jeonghan are at some long, boring meeting and I want to actually go out and do something, y'know, kind of exciting," he chuckles, and Soonyoung gives his waist a fond squeeze.

"We can definitely go out and tour with you if you want," Jihoon offers. "Or, of course, we can just keep sleeping. I am always down for naps." At his very slightly hopeful expression, Joshua laughs, somehow managing to sit up and detach Soonyoung's arms from around his torso. He reaches out for a hug and Jihoon gives him one, kissing the sensitive spot below his ear that always makes him shiver.

"Hey, no ruining the sheets. They're soft," Soonyoung huffs as Jihoon continues teething at Joshua's neck, the small omega surprisingly willing to initiate. "And is there anywhere you wanna go, flower?"

At that, Joshua hums. "Well...I've always wanted to go see 221B Baker St."


With Soonyoung and Jihoon holding his hands, Joshua spends a good three hours walking all over London, going to all the main sights. The sun makes a rare appearance around 5, and Joshua manages to snag a very sneakily-taken photo of Jihoon smiling at Soonyoung, one of those soft, quiet "I love you" smiles that Jihoon rarely ever gives. Joshua saves it to his important photos. 

When they go back to the hotel, Joshua is thoroughly tired out and flops onto the bed immediately, pulling Jihoon down with him and tucking the small omega's head under his chin until Jihoon fights to be the big spoon. Which he lets Jihoon do. Soonyoung ends up in front of him, holding his hands in the small space between their bodies, and though he's tired, Joshua smiles down at their interlaced fingers. Soonyoung gives a little squeeze and he squeezes back, enjoying the warmth on either side of him. 

"Thanks for showing up. It was a nice surprise and I probably would have gotten lonely around 4 if you two weren't there," Joshua murmurs sleepily, some time later, laying an arm over Soonyoung's waist and feeling the alpha do the same to him.

"We're always glad to drop in, flower. We love seeing you smile," Soonyoung says earnestly, and Jihoon makes a noise of agreement, hugging his waist a little tighter. Joshua revels in their warmth; he loves being cuddled, loves being held, loves being warm. It's the best feeling in the world to him.

Like Seungcheol and Jeonghan, Soonyoung and Jihoon stay until they absolutely can't, which is to say, when Joshua shoves them out the door so they aren't late. Luckily, he knows Seungcheol and Jeonghan are going to be back soon, so he won't stay lonely for long, and to make up for the loss of warmth, he bundles himself up tight in the blankets and switches on the tv, idly clicking through channels until he finds some nature documentary he can zone out to. He ends up engrossed anyway, listening to some deep-voiced narrator talk about rain forests, and he's so busy listening that he barely notices the door open. 

He does, however, notice the scents that bleed into the room: roses and rain. He looks up and smiles, holding his arms out of his blanket burrito for Seungcheol to hug him.

"Hi baby, did you have a fun day? I heard you had some surprises," he coos, and Joshua nods, allowing Seungcheol to push him into lying down.

"Yep. We went all over and I got to see 221B Baker St. like I wanted," he hums, and Jeonghan smiles, hanging up his coat before lying down next to him, petting his hair while Seungcheol flops down onto his other side. It's warm again, and Joshua feels safe, content and drowsy.

"Sleepy, baby?" Jeonghan prompts, and Joshua nods. "Well, you can sleep for a little before we eat, how about?" Again, Joshua nods, cuddling back against Seungcheol behind him. It's been a long, tiring day, but he wouldn't change a thing about it. 

Chapter Text

Joshua's been around Jeonghan long enough to know all of his tells: biting his nails, hiding in the collars of his jackets, constantly flicking his hair over his shoulder, those sorts of things. So suffice it to say that he notices when Jeonghan gets anxious, and if he's reading the alpha right, he's really anxious. He's been sitting in the same spot for a while, mouth and nose tucked into the collar of his favorite yellow jacket, knees brought up to his chest. He looks somewhat childish like that, but Joshua's more concerned with the alpha's unusual nervousness.

"Hannie?" he prompts in a soft voice, putting a hand on the alpha's knee. Jeonghan jumps and twitches his leg away, which is something he hasn't done before. Joshua's concern grows when Jeonghan doesn't answer for a moment. "Han, you're scaring me. What's wrong?"

Instead of answering, Jeonghan opens his arms and pulls Joshua down, hugging him tightly. That close, Joshua can finally smell it- Jeonghan's pheromones are going wild. He must be near his rut then. "You smell so good, baby," Jeonghan groans against his neck, setting his feet on the floor to bring Joshua even closer to him. "So sweet." Joshua tenses, feeling the natural urge to submit rush through his chest, but he's better than that.

However, before he can reprimand the alpha, Jeonghan suddenly freezes and draws away, pulling his knees back up to his chest and hiding in his coat collar again. Joshua frowns; normally Jeonghan's rather exuberant before his ruts, easily excited and a touch possessive but never this weird, unsettling anxiousness.

"...Are you alright, Jeonghan?" Joshua tries again, but Jeonghan doesn't answer. Sighing, Joshua decides he'll have to wait for Seungcheol to get home before he can sort out just what's going through Jeonghan's head. In the meantime, he starts making rice, because he's picked up cooking when he's stressed from Mingyu and he is kind of hungry anyway.


When Seungcheol gets home, Joshua is still nibbling on his first bowl of rice and Jeonghan is still on the couch, still buried in his jacket. When the door opens, Joshua practically flings his bowl into the sink to go say hello, melting into the alpha's arms happily, nearly purring when Seungcheol runs a hand through his hair in an affectionate greeting. 

"Hey there baby, how was your day?" he coos, and Joshua tugs at his arm.

"My day was fine, but Hannie's rut is coming up and he's acting weird," he huffs, and Seungcheol's brow furrows.

"Weird how?" he prompts, but Joshua just shoves him towards the living room. He follows as the older alpha walks towards Jeonghan, clearly able to pick up on his sharpening scent, and crouches in front of him.

"Hannie? You ok?" Seungcheol asks gently, and Jeonghan nods wordlessly, thumbnail between his teeth. Seungcheol sighs and gently pulls his hands away from his mouth. "Use your words, baby." Normally Seungcheol really only talks like that to Joshua, but whenever Jeonghan gets anxious Seungcheol's natural tendency to be in charge softens his tongue towards the other alpha.

"'M fine," Jeonghan assures, but he still looks nervous. Seungcheol huffs.

"Obviously not. You can talk to us, love, tell us what's wrong. You're making Shua worry," Seungcheol coaxes, and Jeonghan's eyes flick around the room before settling on a point somewhere over Seungcheol's shoulder. He doesn't speak for a few seconds, then-

"...I kinda wanted to start a family," Jeonghan mumbles, very quietly, "but I'm scared. I- I lost control once and I don't wanna do it again and I'm scared of hurting you like I did back then. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you or make you uncomfortable." His gaze goes to Joshua, who stands there, wide-eyed. Jeonghan looks back down at the floor. "Still, one of my friends had a son last month and I went over to say hello and I just...thought it would be nice if we had a child too." His voice is practically a whisper now, uncertain and sheepish, but Joshua hears him loud and clear.

Jeonghan...wants to start a family? Like, with a baby? An actual infant for them to take care of? That's...not what Joshua expected.

"...Ok," he says before his mental filter can kick in. Both of the alphas stare at him. 

"...Ok?" Jeonghan repeats. Joshua nods, starting to get more confident.

"Yeah. I think- I think I'd like that. It's been two years, and I know you would never hurt me, Hannie. Plus, having a child...does sound nice." He doesn't really get broody around children like some omegas do, but he has to admit that having a baby has its appeal. 

Both of them look at Seungcheol, who still has a hand on Jeonghan's knee, looking somewhat stunned.

"Uh...ok uh, put this whole thing on pause for a sec so I can take it in," he chuckles weakly, and Jeonghan and Joshua exchange a slightly apologetic glance. "So you...want to start a family?" he asks slowly. Jeonghan nods, Joshua nods with slightly less enthusiasm, and Seungcheol hums to himself, apparently thinking very hard about something. "...That sounds nice," he finally says, voice soft and distant, probably imagining the scenario. Jeonghan slowly starts to look more hopeful. "But we'll have to talk about it before your rut starts. Which is when?"

Jeonghan's nose wrinkles. "...Probably a few days. Five at the most, two at the least," he offers, and Seungcheol nods, rubbing his knee and standing up to sit down next to him, opening his arms for Joshua to perch in his lap.

"So yeah. We should talk about it," Joshua hums, tucking his face in the crook of Seungcheol's neck and breathing in his strong rainy scent. On Seungcheol's other side, he can pick up Jeonghan's softer rose, mixed with a slowly-growing need, and Joshua thinks he wouldn't at all mind starting a family with them.


There was a lot of talking, a bit of compromising, but now with Jeonghan's rut finally fully underway, they've set aside the final details (seriously, who bothers thinking of baby names before the baby's even conceived? Jeonghan huffs), and are now faced with a different problem.

"I don't want to hurt you baby," Jeonghan sighs, looking down at Joshua's naked body, lying on the sheets below him. He's breathing heavily, and his pupils are hugely dilated, but his grip on Joshua's hips is noticeably light. "I would never forgive myself if I hurt you." He's been going on like this ever since they started, which is to say for at least 15 minutes, and Joshua's not having it. He's needy and getting turned on by Jeonghan's potent pheromones and he doesn't care. Seungcheol, perched on the edge of the bed, just kind of watches them warily, still wearing a loose white t-shirt. 

"Han, I've told you before and I'll tell you it again: you won't hurt me. I know you won't," Joshua huffs, starting to get a little annoyed. His thoughtfulness was touching for maybe two minutes, but now Joshua actually wants to be touched. "Now if you don't hurry up, I'll have Cheolie prep me instead. Or I'll just do it myself," he threatens, and that finally gets a reaction out of the long-haired alpha.

"No, mine," he hisses, voice deepening and growling for a second, fingers digging into Joshua's pale skin. His eyes narrow and Joshua hums appreciatively.

"Just give into the rut, Hannie, I know you won't hurt me," he urges, because he can see how conflicted Jeonghan is behind his usually well-composed facade, and to emphasize his point he runs one hand down Jeonghan's body, stopping at his pelvis, just shy of what he wants. Jeonghan's expression twists painfully.

"But-"

"Jeonghan, I swear to god, if you don't hurry up then I will prep myself and ride you until you beg me to stop," he sighs loudly, exasperation making him throw his head back. He can practically hear Jeonghan swallow thickly. "I want you," he adds in a purr, tilting his neck to the side to show off Jeonghan's claiming bite, and that apparently makes the alpha snap because not a moment later Joshua feels teeth dig into his skin and he sighs in satisfaction, wrapping one leg around Jeonghan's waist. "Alpha," he groans softly when Jeonghan's hips start grinding down against him, and he senses Seungcheol perk up, but he stays where he is like he said he would. Jeonghan asked him to be damage control and though Joshua thought it was kind of stupid at first, he knows that sometimes Jeonghan can get a little carried away during his ruts so he didn't scoff at it.

"So pretty," he hears Jeonghan whisper into his ear, and he whines at the praise, lifting his hips up against Jeonghan's movements and forcing a groan out of them both. He loves being told he's pretty. 

He can feel himself slipping, his mind slotting into that soft, submissive headspace where all he wants to do is please his alphas. Jeonghan's rut pheromones only increase the urge, and Joshua whines for more, wrapping his arms around Jeonghan's shoulders, loving the feel of firm muscle under his fingertips. Jeonghan isn't obviously ripped like Seungcheol is, but he's strong, and Joshua wants nothing more than to feel that strength taking him apart.

"Hannie," he whimpers, and Jeonghan's eyes are on fire when they connect to his. 

"Do you want me to touch you, love? Make you fall apart?" Jeonghan purrs, reaching down to run a finger down the length of his cock. He's already hard and just that little touch makes Joshua's hips jump; rut pheromones make him so sensitive and he loves it. He nods frantically, little noises leaving his lips as Jeonghan's hand wraps around him, slowly thumbing over the head in a way that makes his eyes flutter shut, bucking his hips up to fuck into the loose hold of Jeonghan's fist.

"Such a good boy, look at you, getting so wet for me," Jeonghan praises, gazing down at him, and Joshua feels more slick trickle out of his hole and down his thighs just from the words. 

"Smells so good, sweetheart," comes Seungcheol's low, soft voice, whispering close to his ear, and Joshua turns to snatch a quick kiss, one that quickly turns heated as Seungcheol's tongue slips into his mouth. Jeonghan, oddly enough, doesn't snap possessively. Instead, he coos appreciatively, still pumping Joshua's cock to coax more slick from him, eyes hungry as he watches.

The second Seungcheol moves away, Joshua's lips are stolen again by Jeonghan, who wastes no time in deepening the kiss, pulling a low groan from Joshua's throat. The hand around his cock goes away and he whines, but he quickly finds out why when two slicked-up fingers slide into him without much warning. He hisses at the stretch, nipping Jeonghan's bottom lip, and the alpha murmurs an apology, suddenly turning soft to pepper kisses all over his face, removing one of his fingers to ease the sting. Joshua stays stiff for a second, getting used to the intrusion, before Jeonghan brushes a sensitive spot and he melts, pulling the alpha back down to kiss him sweetly.

"You're gonna look so pretty when I breed you, so full with my pups," Jeonghan breathes against his lips, and Joshua swears he nearly cums just from hearing those words, a high-pitched keen leaving his mouth as Jeonghan slowly pushes another finger in. "Such a pretty omega, so lovely, so beautiful, being so good for me," Jeonghan continues, whispering praise against his skin, occasionally nipping at the marks on his neck.

Joshua jumps when a hand suddenly runs down his chest, taking one of his nipples and rubbing at it gently. "So pretty," Seungcheol echoes appreciatively, and Joshua whines in earnest now that both of his alphas are touching him.

"Mine," Jeonghan hisses suddenly, caging Joshua in with his body, but Seungcheol only runs a hand down Jeonghan's back, pulling a shiver from the long-haired alpha.

"Ours," he corrects, and Jeonghan blinks, looking over at Seungcheol for a moment.

"...Ours," he nods, leaning down to kiss Joshua. "Our pretty little omega, being so good for us."

"Yours," Joshua murmurs, tangling his hands in Jeonghan's hair, leaning his head back as Jeonghan teases him with a third finger, Seungcheol's hands still dancing over his chest and stomach. Joshua feels tingly all over and he wants Jeonghan in him and he wants his alpha to breed him and make him pretty and give him pups and he thinks he might be saying all of that aloud because Jeonghan chuckles when he leans down to kiss the omega.

"Yes, baby, you can have all of that," Jeonghan purrs, pulling his fingers out suddenly.

Then he hesitates. "...You're sure, Joshua?" With the use of his full name Joshua fights out of his cloudy headspace, nodding.

"Yes. I'm sure. I want you," he pants, wiggling his hips enticingly. Still, as eager as he is, he relaxes when Jeonghan's lips meet his own in a surprisingly gentle kiss, easing him into letting go.

He's glad he's relaxed when he feels Jeonghan's cock push into him slowly, and he hisses out a soft moan, nails digging momentarily into Jeonghan's shoulders as his body gets used to the stretch and the strain of being full. God, he loves it when his alphas fuck him, loves being full. When Jeonghan bottoms out in him, he lets out a low, satisfied purring noise, craning his head up to nuzzle the bottom of Jeonghan's jaw. 

"Still so tight, baby, you're incredible," Jeonghan pants, voice strained as he hesitates for a moment. "So fucking beautiful."

In response to that, Joshua only whines, shifting his hips up to force Jeonghan to move. "Pl-please," he whines, and Jeonghan snaps, grabbing one of Joshua's legs and putting it over his shoulder to drive his cock deeper, and Joshua cries out, not from pain, but from pleasure as Jeonghan finally starts properly fucking him, rut clouding his eyes, whispering praise into his ear about how good he feels, how good he's being, how pretty he looks all needy and desperate. Joshua takes it all, whining and whimpering, clinging tightly to Jeonghan's shoulders, begging for the alpha to give him more. It seems Jeonghan's system has been rewired to praise and praise only, because not one degrading comment slips past his lips, and Joshua takes note of it. 

He blinks blearily when fingers press against his lips, and he glances over at Seungcheol, who's watching with appreciatively-narrowed eyes, lips tilted into a small smile. Joshua obediently starts sucking on his fingers, swirling his tongue around the digits, and when Jeonghan brushes his prostate, he clamps his lips down, suckling gently, the sensation grounding him. Seungcheol makes a low rumbling noise from his chest, pleased and content, and Joshua just whines, trying to take everything in. It's so much but it's not enough and he just needs someone to make him cum.

As if reading his mind, one of Jeonghan's hands snakes down between them, quickly jerking Joshua's cock in time with his thrusts, and Joshua nearly shrieks, body convulsing under Jeonghan, precum leaking all over his stomach.

"C'mon, baby, cum for me. I know you can. Show your alphas how pretty you are when you cum," Jeonghan orders, and Joshua's never been happier to obey, throwing his head back, a wrecked moan leaving his lips as his hips cant up wildly, cock spilling thick white lines all over his chest. It's filthy and reeks of sex but it only seems to make Jeonghan more enthusiastic, still fucking hard and fast into his oversensitive heat, kissing away his tears and little whimpers.

"Taking me so good, you'll be such a good daddy, you'll take care of our pups so well," Jeonghan murmurs into his ear, stroking and petting his sides, his cheeks, his hair, leaving fire in the wake of his fingers. Joshua trembles under him, sniffling, still sensitive even though he wants more.

"C-c'mon, Hannie, give it to me. I want- I want your pups, please, let me have your pups," he begs, the words falling from his lips without his control. "Alpha, alpha please!"

"Shh, shh, it's alright baby, just a little more," Seungcheol shushes, soothing his wild eyes and frantic movements a little. Joshua latches onto his steady, grounding presence, whining and keening, cock twitching weakly against his stomach. He can hear Jeonghan's heavy, shallow breathing, can sense his peak, and he tightens up the best he can, squeezing his eyes shut, lips going slack as Seungcheol kisses him softly, tongue sliding against his own. 

"So- love you so much," Jeonghan whispers raggedly, and with one last sharp, messy thrust, Joshua feels liquid heat spill inside him, filling every bit of him with his alpha's cum. Jeonghan continues rocking his hips for a few moments, milking his orgasm inside Joshua's wet heat, until he falls still and nearly collapses over Joshua, panting and kind of unresponsive, one hand still gripping the omega's leg and the other holding himself up. Jeonghan doesn't pull out, and Joshua is glad for that, because if he did, he would probably start crying. He needs Jeonghan's presence near his, can't be without it even for a second, so when Seungcheol coaxes them to lay down, he throws a leg over Jeonghan's hip and cuddles as close as he possibly can, completely ignoring how they're both disgustingly sweaty and sticky. He's still whimpering a bit, those little omega noises that he makes after his alphas fuck him, soft hiccups that mean he's happy and a little oversensitive and well-sated. 

Jeonghan, though he looks exhausted, soothes him with kisses and pets, hands moving all over his body until Joshua is putty in his hands, pliant and willing. 

"Such a pretty omega, took me so well. You're going to look so pretty all full of my pups," Jeonghan croons, petting his cheeks. "I bet they're gonna look like you."

"Statistically, they should look like a mix," Seungcheol pipes up, and Jeonghan glares at him until he mumbles a sorry and presses a kiss to the other alpha's jaw. Jeonghan softens at that, reaching over Joshua's shoulder to pat Seungcheol's knee; a silent gesture of gratitude. Seungcheol just smiles softly at him, one hand rubbing Joshua's shoulder. Joshua, meanwhile, still full and happily satiated, whines again, needy for attention when he's most vulnerable. Instantly, both alphas start fussing over him, and Seungcheol leaves momentarily to get water. Joshua hisses when he leaves, missing him instantly, but Jeonghan is there to fill the void with lots of kisses.

Joshua falls asleep to the sound of Jeonghan's heartbeat and the feel of Seungcheol's hand in his hair, surrounded by warmth inside and out.


Jeonghan wakes him up in the wee hours of the morning to go another round, rut still up and running, and it's a never-ending cycle of passionate loving and then sleeping like logs for three straight days, and Joshua blesses Seungcheol's self control with every ounce of his being. He also blesses the fact that the older alpha gets the water and food and helps clean them off a little between rounds. 

Three days later, and Joshua is thoroughly fucked-out, dead tired, and doesn't think he can walk for a week. His legs have turned to jelly from being fucked every which way, and his skin is painted red and purple from Jeonghan's teeth, bruises and lovebites scattered all over his body. Still, he's humming with happiness, high on the praise his alphas showered him with and very, very satisfied. He can still hear them whispering how he's such a pretty omega, so good for them, perfect for carrying their pups, and his heart feels pleasantly warm.

Surprisingly, he wakes up first, and a glance over at Jeonghan tells him the alpha isn't going to wake up for at least another few hours. It's almost four in the afternoon, and Seungcheol has likely gone to work for the first time in three days. He sighs, melting back into the bedsheets, and takes a sniff near Jeonghan's neck. Finally done with his rut then. It's not that Joshua's glad, but he'd really enjoy a chance to clean off.

He sits up a little and Jeonghan's hands shoot out to keep him close, the alpha's brows furrowing in his sleep, but Joshua soothes him with little kisses, easing away gradually even though his body instantly misses the feeling of being filled. He whines aloud when he feels Jeonghan's cum trickle down his thighs, and in any other case it would be disgusting but he's feeling broody for once and he wants to keep it all in. Maybe he should have bought one of those plugs Jun always made innuendos about... Well, in any case, he hobbles to the bathroom on unsteady legs and sets about drawing a bath. He's going to soak for as long as he wants to and no one can tell him otherwise. While the bathtub fills, he takes a quick shower, washing away all the dried up sweat and cum, making sure he's clean all over. He misses the feeling of being full, but some part of him knows it'll end well. He wonders how early he can take a test...?

True to his own word, he soaks for at least an hour, humming songs that Jihoon's produced under his breath, eyes closed, body relaxed. He barely notices when someone enters the bathroom, but he does notice the hand in his hair and the gruff voice that speaks.

"Mind if I get in, flower?" Jeonghan asks in a sleep-rough voice, and Joshua nods, barley even opening his eyes. He feels the water move, feels another body settle across from him, and he just hums. "...You're clean again," Jeonghan comments idly.

"I am," Joshua nods, too sleepy to respond with anything else.

"I'd fill you up again but I am literally exhausted in every way so I think I'll settle for some bathtub cuddling. How does that sound?" Jeonghan offers, petting his legs. Joshua hums again.

"...I kinda want you in me again," he mumbles, and Jeonghan's hands freeze on his legs. "But I'm tired too. You're gonna have to carry me out." At that, Jeonghan laughs, probably shaking his head with that little fond, slightly exasperated smile on his face.

"Aish, whatever you say, you spoiled kitten," he snorts, and Joshua purrs to spite him. 

(Jeonghan ends up carrying him out of the bathroom. And everywhere else around the house.)


It's a week and a half later that Joshua starts to notice something strange. Well, it sort of hits him all at once. He wakes up to the smell of Seungcheol making breakfast, and he nearly throws up. God, is Seungcheol cooking garbage in their kitchen?

He forces himself out of the comfort of his bed to go see what's going on, about to ask why the hell their house smells like mold and rot, but Jeonghan greets him with such a warm smile that he can't help but soften a little. "Hi baby, you're up quick," the long-haired alpha coos, extra protective over him ever since his rut ended. "Here, have a strawberry," he urges, holding the berry to Joshua's lips. Now, normally, Joshua loves strawberries.

However, one sniff of the berry has him gagging in his mouth, shaking his head and taking several steps back. Frankly it smells horrible, overly-sweet like wet mold. His stomach turns just looking at it.

"Shua? Are you ok?" Jeonghan asks worriedly, still holding the berry. Joshua hisses at it, like, at the fruit, glaring at it venomously. 

"Get that thing away from me," he says scathingly, and Jeonghan's gaze goes to the strawberry in his hand. Experimentally, he holds it out, and when Joshua recoils, he sets it on the table. "Now go wash your hands," Joshua orders. Jeonghan obeys, looking suspicious, but Joshua is not having any more strawberry-scented shit in his house. Oh no. He has no clue why the smell suddenly disgusts him, but it's so awful that he's not prepared to endure it. It makes his stomach roil and he kind of wants to throw up. He wonders why.

"...I'm taking it you don't want strawberries on your pancakes," Seungcheol says dryly, poking his head out of the kitchen. Joshua shakes his head firmly, and Seungcheol gives him an amused little chuckle before walking out with a stack of well-made pancakes, void of strawberries, topped instead with powdered sugar and bananas. "You're lucky we have a lot of fruit on hand."

"...No more strawberries," Joshua mumbles, attacking his pancakes with a bit more force and aggression than strictly necessary. Seungcheol laughs, kissing the top of his head.

"Got it. No more strawberries."


Joshua gets suspicious over the day. It's been niggling in the back of his mind for a while, but it really only urges him to move when he's alone in the house, reading a book. He just looks up suddenly, and is hit with a sudden need to go out and try something. Something that simultaneously makes him incredibly nervous and incredibly excited. Taking a deep breath, he walks to the nearest drugstore, and when he gets home, his hands are shaking as he goes into the bathroom.

Two lines. His knees give out, and he sinks to the floor, a hand over his mouth. It worked. He's pregnant and now they can have a family. He's- he's going to be a dad. He's going to have a child, a son or daughter of his own.

Suddenly, he's nervous. Very nervous. How will he tell Seungcheol and Jeonghan? How will he tell everyone else? How will they react? Will they be happy? Mad? Will he be a good parent? Will he be able to take care of his own child well? Where does he even start? Prior to Jeonghan bringing it up, he'd never really thought about actually having a child, and even though they talked about it, he's still worried. What if...what if he does a shitty job?

He's crying before he knows what's happening and he calls Seungcheol, silently begging him to pick up. Thankfully, he does.

"Hi baby, you got me at a good moment. Is there something you need?"

"Can- can you come home? Quickly, please," Joshua sniffles, fighting back a sob, and he can practically hear Seungcheol tensing on the other side of the phone.

"I'll be there as soon as I can. I'll call Jeonghan. You stay right where you are, love," Seungcheol orders, and Joshua nods, soothed a little by his grounding alpha voice. He hangs up and waits, curling up on the bathroom floor, anxious thoughts crawling back up from the dark pits in his mind. He learned how to deal with those thoughts normally, went to therapy for a while to teach himself how to be less harsh on his body and his accomplishments, but right now he's unbalanced all over and he's worried and he's anxious and he's scared and he wants his alphas to tell him what to do. He'll be a good parent, right? He won't ever let his child suffer the way he did.

But what if he does? What if he messes up? What if, somehow, he does something so catastrophically bad that it can't be fixed? God, his child isn't even the size of a grain of rice yet and Joshua's still worried. 

He's not crying as hard but he's still sniffling when Seungcheol and Jeonghan burst through the door, immediately crouching to hold him, desperately trying to figure out what's wrong. Joshua doesn't know what to say, so he just points to the test on the counter, and silence falls, broken only by Joshua's sniffles.

"...Oh my god," Jeonghan finally breathes, turning back to Joshua. "Oh my god, baby we did it! We did it! We get to be parents now! I'm so proud of you, baby, you're gonna be such a good dad," he coos, hugging the omega tightly.

"...But what if I'm not?" Joshua whispers, and Jeonghan's grip loosens slightly, perhaps out of shock.

Seungcheol is the first one to react, and Joshua follows obediently when the alpha grips his chin and tilts his head up. "Joshua," he begins slowly, "I want you to listen to me very carefully, ok? Can you do that for me?" Joshua nods, sniffling and teary-eyed but listening. "You are not going to be a bad parent. Anyone who worries about being a bad parent is not a bad parent. I know you're scared, love, I understand, but you are the kindest, most loving person I know, and I have no doubt that you will raise our child well. There is no one I trust more than you and Hannie with our children, and I want you to know that even if you are scared, you have me, and you have Hannie, and you have the others too. We will all help you with whatever you need," he assures in a low, steady voice, and Joshua's sniffles peter off into watery-eyed silence. "Got that? Use your words."

"Y-yeah, I understand," Joshua nods, and Seungcheol's face splits into a smile, so kind and proud that Joshua smiles a little too.

"We're so proud of you, baby. We're so happy," Seungcheol hums, pulling him into a tight hug and rocking back and forth. Jeonghan joins with a noise of agreement, kissing the back of his head.

"...Really?" Joshua can't stop himself from asking.

"Yep. We are so, so proud of you, and we love you so, so much," Jeonghan murmurs, one hand running through his hair, and the dark thoughts recede, slithering back into the murky part of his mind that he's gotten good at acknowledging and dealing with. A small, slow smile spreads across Joshua's face.

"Are you happy too, Shua?" Jeonghan chuckles, and Joshua nods, winding one arm around each of his alphas. God, he loves them so, so much, and now he gets to have their children.

"Love you," he whispers, and they whisper it back, holding him even tighter. Joshua's still worried, he thinks he always will be a little worried, but he has his alphas and he has the others and, well, with them, Joshua feels like there's nothing he can't do.

But who should he call first? Probably Wonwoo, since he'll stay calm. Then he can bring everyone over for like, a surprise reveal or something.

But right now, he's safe and warm tucked away in his alpha's arms, and there's nowhere else he'd rather be.

Chapter Text

Joshua feels it at first more than he hears it: the gentle vibrations of Seokmin's voice against the back of his neck as the younger sings quietly. It's just a quiet lullaby, a subtler sensation, but Joshua sinks into it, relaxing even more. He's been in love with the sound of Seokmin's voice ever since he met the beta, and now, when they're cuddled together in bed at the beta's apartment, Joshua loves it even more because he knows Seokmin is singing just for him. It's a soft rendition of the song he and Jihoon played for Joshua's birthday, a beautiful creation Jihoon named Smile Flower. It's one of Joshua favorite songs.

He feels even more content when one of Seokmin's slender hands starts petting his stomach over his shirt, soothing him into sleeping. He loves being pet, loves being touched in general when he's not crawling his way out of a nightmare, and the beta's warmth and cedar scent are doing wonders to make him tired. With the covers pulled up around them and a pleasantly cool breeze blowing through the open windows, Joshua feels at peace, content.

"Because we're together, I'm able to smile,

And because it's you, I'm able to cry

Like this, how can there be anything that I can't do?"

Unable to stop himself, he hums softly along to the words Seokmin is singing, and he feels the beta smile against the back of his neck. He can practically hear the way his lips tilt up, and he keeps humming along, lacing one of his hands with Seokmin's on his stomach, squeezing gently. Seokmin squeezes back lightly, whispering promises of companionship and faith against his skin, humming about blossoming smiles and laughter.

Joshua loves Seokmin's voice. Rich and powerful and beautiful, Joshua could listen to him sing forever and ever and never get tired. He could fill up a whole stadium with his voice effortlessly, could make a thousand people sing along with a smile and a wave, spreading his cheerfulness wherever he went. Joshua thinks that, if they were in a different life, if they were somehow famous singers and performers, then Seokmin would definitely be one of the lead singers with his rich vocals and sunny smiles. 

The song is slowly coming to an end, but Joshua knows that Seokmin will keep singing it until he falls asleep, which definitely won't take much time at all. His eyes are already closed, his body already relaxed, fitted perfectly against the beta's behind him. Warmth and peace and a familiar song combine to make him yawn tiredly, and Seokmin's arms around his waist squeeze gently, holding him even closer, humming the words right against Joshua's pulse and pulling a little happy shiver out of the omega. He squeezes Seokmin's hand again and Seokmin squeezes back.

Sleep is hanging right over his head, and he knows that he's going to fall asleep quickly, but Joshua can't resist singing along with the last line of the song, adding his own softer voice to Seokmin's richness as he drifts off, warm and peaceful.

"I will become the spring to your smiles..."

Chapter Text

The moment the door swings shut behind Mingyu, Seungkwan shimmies his way between Wonwoo's legs, patting his thighs gently. This isn't new at all, with all the times they've helped each other out with rough heats, but each time, it still has that sense of comfortable familiarity that Seungkwan is glad they've achieved. Much less awkward that way.

"You think Shua will be alright?" he asks lightly, pulling Wonwoo's jeans down so he can tease his fingertips over the weeping head of his cock. Wonwoo lets out a quiet, closed-mouth groan before answering.

"Mm...I think he'll be alright. Gyu's very gentle when he needs to be. Mostly- mostly I'm worried he'll fall asleep in the bath," he hums, idly watching Seungkwan's hands wrap around his cock. Jihoon, still beside them, snorts, leaning in to help.

"Jun'll keep him awake. Hopefully," he chuckles, smirking as Wonwoo tilts his head back with another soft groan, hands clutching the sheets. He moves his lips to start gently kissing the older omega, and one of Wonwoo's hands threads lightly through his hair, spurring him on. Wonwoo's never usually been partial to kissing when they used to help each other but it seems that Mingyu's made him needy for that kind of affection, because when Jihoon pulls back to breathe, Wonwoo chases.

"If any of the alphas step foot into this room they're gonna fuckin' collapse, I bet," Jihoon snickers against Wonwoo's lips, and the older omega grins right back.

"That's be funny to see. Just have Soonyoung walk in and watch him fall over or something."

"Yes, well, horny omegas do tend to make an alpha like that," Seungkwan says lightly, still much more focused on what was in his hands. 

"Hansol won't get jealous?" Jihoon raises an eyebrow, and Seungkwan snorts through his nose, rolling his eyes.

"Sollie doesn't really get jealous. You know how laid-back he is. He's not possessive either, which is nice. He's just a little overprotective, especially if I accidentally hurt myself or something. Then he hovers and won't go away until he knows for sure that I'm ok."

"You're so lucky. I nicked myself with a knife once and Mingyu freaked the fuck out," Wonwoo groans, though it sounds more like a groan of pleasure rather than one of exasperation. "I couldn't get him to calm down for like, an hour."

"What'd you do to get him to stop?" Seungkwan asks conversationally, shifting to lie on his stomach so he can lick a long, slow stripe up his cock.

"Ripped off the bandaid and shoved the cut into his face to show him how tiny it was," Wonwoo hums, voice strained and slightly breathy. "And since then I've come to the conclusion that Mingyu is slightly squeamish around blood, so, note to self, don't do that again."

"Did he scream?" Jihoon prompts bluntly, kissing down Wonwoo's neck.

"Almost, I bet," Wonwoo shrugs, leaning his head back and sighing happily as Seungkwan's mouth closes over the head of his cock. "Honestly it was kinda cute. You know how much of a puppy is." Seungkwan hums in response and Wonwoo hisses out a soft curse, muffled slightly by Jihoon leaning down to kiss him again. Jihoon smirks inwardly when Wonwoo groans slightly louder, hips shifting and twitching up into Seungkwan's mouth, and he lays a hand on Wonwoo's pelvis, keeping him pinned.

"You've gotten feistier," he notes, and Wonwoo glares at him until he relents and kisses him again. 

"Says the one who never used to like kissing," Wonwoo shoots back, but Jihoon flicks his thigh.

"You never used to like it either!" he huffs, and any of Wonwoo's retorts are stolen from him when Seungkwan hums loudly, suckling harder as he pulls off.

"You two were awkward. Jun and Shua always loved kissing back when we were all still single," he points out, and fondness creeps into Jihoon's chest.

"Both of them still do," he nods, rubbing his hand up and down Wonwoo's chest and stomach. Wonwoo nods, reaching down to pet Seungkwan's hair gently. "I just feel annoyed that he hasn't been getting nearly enough of that kind of attention," he continues, fondness fleeing in the face of protective anger. 

"We all are," Wonwoo assures, grabbing his hand, and Jihoon sighs, deciding to set aside his bubbling fury for now until he can figure out just how to tell those alphas just how much trouble they're in.

"You think he'll be alright?" Wonwoo suddenly whispers into Jihoon's ear, concern marring the lust in his eyes.

"He has us," Jihoon reminds, just as quiet.

"I can hear you two whispering." A sharp gasp is ripped from Wonwoo's mouth when Seungkwan puts his hands to good use, full lips pouting. "You aren't subtle."

"We can- we can try to be," Wonwoo mutters, hips jerking up again.

"Well, you're not doing a very good job," Seungkwan snorts before going down on him again, and Wonwoo apparently gives up, because he doesn't continue to snip back, even though Jihoon knows he can.

"I gotta say, Hansol is one lucky bastard," Wonwoo mumbles, closing his eyes and letting his head thump back. Jihoon hears a muffled chuckle from Seungkwan and rolls his his eyes, patting the top of Wonwoo's head in a slightly patronizing way.

The scent of vanilla starts to get heady in the air, and Jihoon kisses Wonwoo more lazily, tongues pressing together as Wonwoo's hand plays with the short hair at the back of his neck, keeping him close. Seungkwan's scent of bubblegum isn't as strong, but it's still there, adding a sweetness that lingers in Jihoon's nose, and Jihoon starts to get why Joshua loves being surrounded by their scents. It's comforting in a way.

"Ah- fuck, Kwan," Wonwoo gasps breathlessly, and Jihoon hums appreciatively as Wonwoo's hips jerk up on reflex, Seungkwan's lips staying firmly closed around the head of his cock. When he finally pulls away, there's a thoughtful expression on his face as he licks his lips clean.

"You taste saltier than before. Like caramel," he points out, and Wonwoo's brow furrows a little as his high wanes.

"...Probably because I'm bonded?" he suggests, rubbing at the mark on his neck and shivering a little. 

"I've heard omega biology changes a little when they get claimed," Jihoon nods, smiling as Seungkwan shimmies back up to lie down next to Wonwoo's side, giving the older omega a quick smooch that turns heated for only a moment before Seungkwan probably bites his lip and lies back down, whereupon Wonwoo wraps an arm around his shoulders and gets comfortable petting his hair.

"I still hope Joshua hasn't fallen asleep in the bath," Jihoon chuckles, grabbing his phone and settling cross-legged next to them.

"I might fall asleep right here. He has a comfy bed," Seungkwan huffs, smooshing himself to Wonwoo's side and closing his eyes. Both of the older omegas laugh, exchanging a fond look.

"Well I ain't moving," Wonwoo hums, running a hand through Seungkwan's hair, "so be my guest."

Chapter Text

It's not that Joshua is annoyed with Mingyu and Wonwoo's constant doting, because he isn't, in fact he really likes it, but sometimes he thinks it's a bit...much. They practically worship the ground he walks on, and sometimes Joshua really just wants to sit them down and give them massages because they deserve to be pampered too. He'd love to spend a day spoiling Wonwoo with lots of old books and a nice, romantic candlelit dinner, or maybe indulging Mingyu with a date at an amusement park, or to just sit and ease the tension from the alpha's broad shoulders.

So, he makes a plan to do just that. He'll just bring the pair over and spoil them with everything he can give them, since they're so eager to do the same for him. The thought makes warmth flutter all over his chest at the thought of pleasing them and making them happy, and it's with what Jeonghan deems adorable enthusiasm that he asks if Mingyu and Wonwoo are free for the weekend, which, helpfully, they are.

"Do you have everything you need?" Minghao quips, peering into the bag Joshua has in his hands. Having done (more than) a little research, Joshua nods, a bounce in his step. Minghao had helped him pick out some things Mingyu would enjoy, since they were close, and Soonyoung did the same to help him find books Wonwoo might have liked. All in all, Joshua is very satisfied and very excited, practically vibrating in place as he imagines the happy expressions on Mingyu and Wonwoo's faces when they see what he's done for them. He loves to please, maybe a bit too much, but Mingyu and Wonwoo deserve it.

They're going to come over at 7:45, and though Joshua is not the best cook in the world, Seungcheol, Jeonghan, and a video call from Jeonghan's mother all help him put together something simple but nice, full of foods all of them like. He was a little jittery when they were waiting, but Seungcheol soothed him with a lot of gentle petting and reassurances that he'd do fine and that they'd be in the master bedroom if he needed them.

When Mingyu and Wonwoo finally knock, he almost runs to open it, and he immediately tosses himself into Wonwoo's arms, kissing the bottom of his jaw in greeting. The other omega laughs at his cuddliness, swaying him back and forth for a moment before letting him go so Mingyu can give him a gentle peck. "Nice to see you too, flower," Wonwoo chuckles, and Joshua just tugs at their hands eagerly, trying not to pull too hard.

"I- I made you guys dinner and stuff, and I thought- and I thought I could do someth-someth-th- ack- I could do you guys a nice thing since you're so good to me all the time!" he explains, stuttering a bit in his excitement. Still, he grins brightly at the slightly shocked looks on Mingyu and Wonwoo's faces, but when their expressions don't change, an unreadable glance going between them, he wilts a little bit. "...Guys?"

"You didn't have to do that for us, flower, we love being good to you," Mingyu laughs, looking a bit confused. Joshua wilts even more.

"But I wanted to. I wanted to be the one making you happy for once. You two spoil me so much and I wanna return the favor." He's not really sure why he's upset, but he is, a little bit, at the thought that maybe they don't want his gifts.

"N-no, we didn't mean it like that, flower, we were just surprised. We love you no matter what," Wonwoo corrects, not-so-discreetly slapping Mingyu's arm. "So what did you have in mind?" Joshua brightens a little at the change of subject, and he resumes pulling at their sleeves.

"Well, I made you dinner, with a lot of help, but the rest of it is a surprise. You're gonna find out along the way," he hums, pleased when their jaws drop at the sight of the kitchen table. He'd grilled the others for information on what Mingyu and Wonwoo liked to eat and his efforts had been quite fruitful, if he does say so himself. The couple simply stare for a few seconds before Mingyu kisses him, deep and slow, appreciative.

"You're so thoughtful, flower, what did we do to deserve you?" he breathes against Joshua's lips, and Joshua already has his answer ready. It's what he says whenever Jeonghan and Seungcheol ask him that, whenever the two alphas wonder if they really deserve him.

"You love me, and that's enough," he hums, patting Mingyu's head. "Now go dig in! I made it all for you," he insists, lightly pushing Wonwoo towards the table, who whips out his phone to take a picture before sitting down.

Dinner passes easily, light conversation making Joshua laugh as they eat. It's comfortable, content, and when the last of the dishes are put away (he expressly forbids Mingyu to help him), he tugs the two into the guest bedroom, since Seungcheol and Jeonghan are in his normal room, likely bickering over who gets to be the little spoon. The thought makes him smile but laying down on Mingyu's broad chest makes him smile even more, and when one of Wonwoo's thin arms drapes itself over his back, he almost purrs. He does, actually, a little happy noise from the back of his throat.

"You're adorable," Mingyu coos, and Joshua wiggles happily. Now, how should he advance into the next part of his gift? He doesn't want it to be rushed or forced, but he's still a little eager, so he settles for shimmying up Mingyu's chest to kiss him lightly, just sweet and chaste at first. He switches between kissing Mingyu and kissing Wonwoo, focusing on the way they're so gentle with him, just the way he likes it. For a while he just basks in their affection, giving back as good as they give him. 

Then, because he wants to, he flicks his tongue over Mingyu's lips, just enough to seem purposeful in intention, and Mingyu chuckles against his lips. "What're you planning, flower?" He sounds composed, and maybe he is, but there's no hiding the little gasp he lets out when Joshua wiggles his hips down just a little, edging on that satisfying friction he knows Mingyu wants.

"You always, always make me feel so good. I wanna return the favor," Joshua says simply, honestly, glancing at both of them. "Can I?"

Wonwoo is the first to move, sitting up and pulling down his jeans. "By all means, do whatever you want," he offers, and Joshua lights up happily, a coo leaving his mouth. He loves it when he can make his lovers feel good, loves being the source of their pleasure, and it's with a single-minded focus that he shuffles off of Mingyu's chest to settle between Wonwoo's legs, head tilting slightly to the side.

"You don't have to do anything. Just- just let me make you feel good, ok? I want to," he insists, and Mingyu runs a hand down his back, humming acknowledgement.

"You do that then. Wonu makes the prettiest noises when I suck him off, so I don't think this should be too hard," he encourages, and Wonwoo flushes, though he doesn't snap back as Joshua half expected him to. Still, he's pleased with the soft curse he gets when he rubs the flat of his palm over Wonwoo's cock through his boxers, slow but insistent. 

"C'mere," Wonwoo mutters, tugging at his shirt, and Joshua obliges, wiggling up his body to kiss him, fingers slipping beneath the waistband of his briefs, quickly teasing him into getting fully hard. The younger omega groans against his lips and Joshua shivers happily, basking in the thought that he can make them feel good too, that he can be as good to them as they are to him.

"Love you so much," he whispers, dotting Wonwoo's face with lots of little pecks, nuzzling his cheek very gently in contrast to the way his hand tightened and sped up, drawing a low, pretty moan from Wonwoo's mouth, a sound both Joshua and Mingyu sit up a little straighter at. 

"Love you too," Wonwoo manages to mumble under his breath, letting his head thump back against the pillows, closing his eyes and threading a hand through Joshua's hair as the older omega settled between his knees again. Joshua tries not to smile when Wonwoo let out a satisfying "ah!" as he dips his head to flick little kitten licks along the head of his cock, but he grins inwardly, settling on his stomach so he doesn't strain his back. And, of course, since he can't help himself, he reaches over to Mingyu too, hand rubbing his inner thigh, inching higher.

"Well aren't you ambitious," Mingyu chuckles, but he shuffles out of his sweats anyway, allowing Joshua to shoot him a look.

"You're the one not wearing underwear," he huffs, but really he's happy with the choice; less clothing to remove. As if reading his thoughts, Mingyu only gives him a smirk. Joshua shrugs and returns to pulling more of those sweet, soft noises from Wonwoo, who sits up a little to watch. 

Joshua wouldn't exactly pride himself on his ability to multitask, but he can do it, and he takes advantage of it as much as possible, keeping his mouth on Wonwoo's cock and working Mingyu with his free hand, making sure to hit all the sensitive spots he's learned to find on their bodies. A part of him preens at the low curses and praises he receives, pleased that they're enjoying his gift. He loves when he can make people happy.

"Ah...flower, don't-don't stop," Wonwoo breathes, and Mingyu was bright; he really does make the prettiest noises, breathless and teetering close to the edge, and Joshua does his best to work him to that sated, floaty place he himself likes to be in, not letting up on the little sweeping motions of his tongue that he knows Wonwoo likes.

When Wonwoo cums it isn't loud like Seungkwan or Jeonghan, and a part of Joshua enjoys it, because that way he can focus on Wonwoo's face, mouth open, eyes squeezed shut, nose wrinkled in that really cute way he has. He makes a happy sound at the white spilling over his fingers, thick and warm, and when Wonwoo had relaxed to little twitches here and there, he gave the other omega a quick, rewarding kiss before moving onto Mingyu, who looks three seconds away from breaking just from watching Wonwoo cum, and it's with a single-minded focus that Joshua strokes him through his own orgasm, cooing soft praises just like they do to him.

"Fuck," Wonwoo pants after a while petting down Joshua's hair where he'd mussed it up. "You're incredible, flower." Mingyu makes a noise of agreement and Joshua looked away, a little embarrassed to be pleased at how warm that makes him feel. 

"Let's go clean up, hm?" he encourages, tugging at their hands, eager to show them the next part of his gift. They follow him to the bathroom, where a warm bath had already been drawn, steam rising from the surface, permeated with the smells of lavender and mint: oils he mixed into the water. He would have scattered rose petals over the surface, but he decided that would have been a bit much so he settled for a few candles here and there to make the atmosphere nice and warm.

"Oh wow, you really went all out," Mingyu laughs.

"Not as all out as I could have gone," Joshua hums back, urging them into the bath. He kneels by the tub as they strip and get in, sighing happily at the temperature. "Feel nice?"

"Yeah, feels amazing," Mingyu sighs, sitting across from Wonwoo, leaning back and closing his eyes. "You really know how to spoil a person, don't you?"

"I learned from you guys," Joshua shrugs, and he's just being honest. "You always treat me so well. I just like giving back, y'know?" Mingyu and Wonwoo smile at him, soft, tender smiles, and he smiles back, grabbing the shampoo so he can work on lathering up Wonwoo's hair. 

Time goes by slowly, unnoticed by the three, who are stuck in their own little world, not talking but not needing to. When he finishes rinsing out Wonwoo's hair, he moves onto Mingyu, and even though his knees have started to ache from kneeling on the tile for so long, it's not something he's unfamiliar with, so he bears with it and focuses on running his hands through the soft strands of Mingyu's hair, smiling at how the alpha seems to be on the brink of sleep. 

"Alright, lets go back to bed before Mingyu falls asleep and drowns," Wonwoo chuckles, poking his mate in the side with his foot, and Mingyu jolts into wakefulness, eyes drooping.

Joshua keeps an eye on a sleepy Mingyu, making sure he isn't going to fall asleep where he stands and slowly ruffles his hair dry. Wonwoo makes sure to pinch him awake whenever he goes still for a bit too long, and eventually they make it back to bed without any major repercussions. 

He lets them get their pants back on, but when Mingyu picks up his shirt, he huffs, directing the alpha to lie on his stomach.

"Let me?" he asks, running both of his hands down Mingyu's back, and, getting his intention, the alpha relaxes, nodding, putting his head on his arms as Joshua's hands press and rub into his back, easing the knots away and warming up his skin. The gentle massaging motions clearly lull him to sleep, because when Wonwoo quietly calls his name to check if he's awake, he doesn't respond. Both of the two omegas share a giggle over Mingyu, and then Joshua looks at Wonwoo.

"Can I do you too? I've been told I have warm hands," he offers, and Wonwoo smiles, lying down next to Mingyu so Joshua can shuffle over.

"Thank you all of this, flower, it's been wonderful," Wonwoo hums as Joshua perches on the backs of his thighs and presses his thumbs into the dimples of Wonwoo's lower back.

"I live to please. I love making you guys happy, since you always make me happy," Joshua murmurs, shrugging a little and trying to get a tricky knot by Wonwoo's shoulder blade. "I just figured I could return the favor once in a while."

"Well, I certainly enjoyed it," Wonwoo chuckles, and Joshua smiles, placing both of his palms flat on Wonwoo's back and leaning down to kiss the back of his neck.

"Love you," he whispers, and Wonwo turns his head to kiss him. It's a bit of an awkward angle but they make it work.

"Love you too, Shua," Wonwoo says quietly, and Joshua smiles wider, wiggling himself down into the small space between Mingyu and Wonwoo's bodies. Mingyu immediately turns onto his side to throw an arm over Joshua's waist, and Wonwoo does the same, one hand running through his hair lovingly.

"Thank you for the present, flower," Wonwoo says softly, a little smile on his face.

"I do love seeing you guys smile," Joshua chuckles, snuggling closer to Mingyu behind him. "It's my favorite thing." Wonwoo doesn't say anything else in response to that, but that's ok, because the kiss pressed to Joshua's forehead says it all for him.

When they fall asleep, Joshua makes sure to hold them as close to him as possible.