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David can feel his heat coming on. For any other omega who already has an alpha, that wouldn't be a problem. The two of them would tuck themselves into the nest David made for them and they wouldn't come out for days.

But David can't touch his alpha. He absolutely can’t be near her when he’s in heat.

He knows what people think, he can hear them thinking it. The most powerful mutant in the world is an omega? That's absurd enough, but then he had to choose to be with an alpha he can't even touch. That's more than absurd, that's tragic. And that doesn't even cover the fact that he has another mutant stuck in his head, unable to be pulled free without killing them both.

David's life is complicated, is his point, and the last thing he needs is a heat to make it even more complicated. But he's found himself craving Syd's scent, pulling things out of her laundry basket just to smell them. He can't stop any of this so he just has to accept what's happening to him and live with it, like he does everything else.

When he was in Clockworks, it was easy. They had quarantine rooms for heats, simple but sufficient and safely isolated from the other patients. Summerland has heat rooms, too, so he takes one and stocks his nest with blankets and pillows and water and food and a knotting dildo he hopes will be enough.

He hasn’t seen Syd for the past few days, ever since his scent changed. She has to stay away from him, obviously. His touch would hurt her, and hours of intimacy, of being physically joined— There’s nothing David wants more for them, but it’s the one thing they can never have. So he has to take care of this himself.

When he can't wait any longer, he locks himself inside and strips down, climbs into his nest. It's already hard to concentrate, the aching need inside has hold of him. He can't remember ever having a heat this strong. They were dulled for most of his life by drugs and medication, but now he’s finally clean, all systems go— And they want to go.

“Hey, kid,” says a disembodied voice. He feels hot breath at his ear. “Need a hand, there?”

Not now. David really doesn’t need this. "Go away."

“I’ve got a surprise for you. Aren’t you curious?” Lenny’s voice asks.

Summerland tried everything to pull the Shadow King out of him, but it turns out thirty years is too long for someone to live inside of you without getting hopelessly entangled. David often thinks of those bicycles they find sticking through the middle of huge tree trunks, because a few decades ago someone chained them together and never came back. There’s no way to get the bicycle out without killing the tree, and David really prefers to stay alive.

David wore the halo until Oliver was able to help him regain full control of his body. After that, he offered the Shadow King— Peaceful co-existence. Surprisingly, they agreed. David still has to put up with a lot, but at least it’s harmless. Like this.

David starts lubing up his dildo. God, if he doesn't get fucked soon, he feels like he'll die. "Not really," he says, through clenched teeth.

A hand comes to rest on his shoulder, hot and familiar. It feels like it’s burning into his bare, oversensitive skin. The Shadow King might be a disembodied mental parasite, but their combined mutant powers mean they can be very physically present when they want to be.

“Ahh, but I think you’ll like this one,” Lenny’s voice says.

David knows for a fact that whatever this is isn't going to end until he plays along. "Fine. What is it?" he asks, and turns to look— And startles backwards. The dildo hits the blanket with a thump.

The man standing before him wears a smug, knife-edge smile. He’s middle-aged, handsome, clad in a suit and sunglasses, with a neatly trimmed mustache on his upper lip. “Bonjour, mon cher.”

David gapes at him, astonished. "What the hell—" And then he realizes. The Shadow King is supposed to actually be some guy who fought his biological dad. David is used to them pretending to be Lenny, and it's been so long that he was starting to think the Shadow King couldn't be their original self anymore even if they wanted to.

Monsieur Amahl Farouk,” the man introduces. “But call me Amahl.” His eyes trace down David’s naked body, taking in every detail.

It's one thing to be told the Shadow King isn't Lenny, that they're actually this whole other person. Actually seeing it— David rises back up to his knees and stares in fascination.

"Why now?" David asks, suspicious. They might be stuck with each other, but that hasn't made their relationship easy. The Shadow King is nothing if not— Provoking.

Amahl laughs, soft and sinister. “I think you know why.”

Amahl takes a step closer, and then sinks down to his knees, mirroring David’s posture. He cups a hand to David’s fever-hot cheek and traces his thumb up and down. David catches the scent from Amahl's wrist and goes still.

"You're an alpha?" David asks, shocked. Lenny was a beta, and the Shadow King has always smelled like her: familiar, safe. Not anymore.

Amahl smiles like a shark. “I’m whatever I need to be, joonam.”

"What does that mean?" David asks, frowning. He looks Amahl up and down, taking in this new aspect of the person living inside him. “It’s not real?”

Amahl doesn’t answer him. He’s still cupping David’s cheek, and then his hand slides down to David’s neck, pulls him to his own neck. David takes a sharp breath in— And the alpha pheromones there flood his senses. They might not be real, but they makes his body hurt with need.

David wrenches himself free. "You have to leave," he warns, even though he knows Amahl can't. He's the bicycle in the tree, stuck for good.

“But you need me, my dear,” Amahl says. He reaches for David again, and David pulls away. But Amahl’s hand follows him, curls around the back of his neck. “I can feel it, the heat in your skin, burning you up with desire.”

"I have an alpha," David insists, even as he leans into Amahl's touch. "I'm not gonna cheat on her with— With my parasite."

Amahl laughs. “Oh, will you go to her? Have her satisfy your desires?” He strokes David’s neck and back, possessively. “And how will you do that without hurting her?”

Amahl's touch makes it hard to think. David’s starving for touch all the time, but now his whole body hurts with hunger. It feels like Amahl is the only one who can satisfy him, but David has to resist him, he has to. "I'm taking care of it myself," he insists, despite the strain in his voice. "That way nobody gets hurt."

Amahl studies his face. “Except you,” he decides. “Such suffering, and so unnecessary. Very well, if that is what you wish, I will leave you to your self-abuse.”

He takes his hand away, and the absence makes David hurt even more. “No,” he gasps.

Amahl pauses. “No?” he presses. He offers his hand again, bringing it close to David’s cheek but not touching him. It’s just the barest gap, and David can’t help but close it.

Amahl smiles, pleased. He rewards David with a stroking thumb, and then guides him into a kiss, open-mouthed and hungry. What remained of David's resistance immediately crumbles. He whimpers against Amahl's mouth and feels a fresh wave of slick inside him. His body needs this, it wants Amahl, it needs an alpha that can actually touch him, fuck him, claim him—

It’s not real, it can’t ever be real. If the Shadow King had his own body, an alpha body that could actually claim an omega, they wouldn't be in this mess. But David can’t resist the illusion. The Shadow King took so much from him, David wants something back.

Amahl runs his hands over David’s body, and one hand comes up to explore David’s chest. “Let me give you what you need,” he hisses into David’s ear.

“Please,” David sighs, surrendering.

Amahl pulls him in and kisses him urgently. He feels real and solid even though David knows it’s all in his head. His hands are already reaching between David's legs, wrapping around his painfully hard cock.

“Look at you, my dear,” Amahl says. “You’re beautiful like this. Helpless. Desperate. Mine.

David groans. He clings to Amahl like he's the only thing keeping him alive, and ruts mindlessly against Amahl's hands. Feverishly, he wants Amahl to bite him, to bond with him. Syd will never able to claim him and David accepted that, it’s worth it for her, but— If Amahl can give him the fantasy—

Yes,” Amahl hisses, and he pushes David back into the soft nest, one hand on his chest. He follows, pinning David down with his body. “Tell me. Beg me to take you, body and soul. ”

"I need you," David moans, straining for him. Everything in him is demanding he submit and be taken. His hole clenches hungrily, needing to be filled. "Please."

Amahl reaches up and tangles his fingers in David’s short hair, forcing David’s head back so that Amahl can get to his neck, pressing kiss after kiss there - and just the suggestion of teeth. His hips work against David’s, pressing their bodies together. The promise of a bite makes David's whole body flush, makes his heat even stronger. He wraps his legs around Amahl and bucks against him, rubbing at the bulge under his trousers, seeking more.

“Beg for it,” Amahl growls in David’s ear. “Beg for my knot.”

David chokes, whimpers. "Please," he begs, pawing clumsily at Amahl's shirt, needing to feel his bare skin, to rub himself against it and get Amahl's scent all over him. He needs to be covered with it, soaking in it, so everyone knows who he belongs to. "Please," he begs again. "Your knot. I need it."

Amahl growls with satisfaction and then breaks away from him. He stands over David and strips, revealing himself. Then he lowers himself over David and kisses him, rubs against him, covering David with his glorious scent. It drives David absolutely crazy.

Amahl reaches between David’s legs, his fingers pressing into David’s open, eager hole. “Shhhh,” he hushes, breathlessly. “I’ll take care of you, my dear. I’ll give you what you need.”

David clenches hard around his fingers, desperate to be filled. He keens because fingers aren't enough and he feels so painfully empty inside. But the touch of skin-against-skin— His body knows what's about to happen and it's ready for it, demanding it. David has been unclaimed for too long already.

"Don't go," he begs, as some wild fear takes hold of him. Maybe because Syd has never been able to give him this, because every time he needs her they have to be apart and it’s wrong, it hurts.

Amahl draws in a sharp breath. “Never,” he says. “You’re part of me, my dear. We are one and the same. You simply — ah! — simply need to be reminded of that.”

His fingers work to stretch David out inside, then he pulls his hand free, covers David’s body. He braces himself with one arm by David’s head, and with his free hand, places the head of his cock in position. “What would your self-righteous friends think of you now, I wonder?” he purrs. “On your back, begging for the monster you so hate to fuck you. Helpless— and loving it.”

"Shut up," David mutters, a spike of anger briefly clearing his head. He knows what the Shadow King is, they never let him forget it, never let them just— Be okay together, even though there's no escape for either of them. And now this is happening. He should have thought to wear the halo for his heat.

“I would still have been here,” Amahl says, answering his thought. “No matter what you do, I will always be here.” It might be a promise or a threat, the way he says it. Maybe it’s both. But then Amahl thrusts forward and none of that matters. Whatever thoughts David had are driven out of him the moment he feels Amahl inside him.

Amahl lets out a little moan of pleasure. “Finally,” he mutters. “Finally.

David’s whole body was primed for this moment, and pure instinct is taking over. He keens with need and pulls Amahl closer, bares his neck for him. Amahl kisses him instead, urgent and rough. Even though all of this is an illusion, it feels completely real.

“Ahh, you’re perfect,” Amahl breathes. “So perfectly broken for me.”

Amahl nuzzles against David’s neck, teasing, taunting. The scent of him is everywhere, rich and heady and drugging, and the feel of Amahl inside him, his mouth against oversensitized skin— All David can focus on is the drag of Amahl's lips, the tickle of his mustache. During his past heats, he would frantically rub that same spot and fantasize about it being marked, about finally being claimed. Sometimes he would just lie with a knotting dildo inside him and rubs his neck until he came, over and over, without need for anything else. But he has more than that now.

“Tell me what you want,” he orders, his lips against David’s skin. Beg for me, he says, in David's mind.

"Bite me," David begs. "Mark me."

Amahl mouths at his claiming spot, his tongue slowly dragging across it. His hips rock against David, their bodies pressed tightly together. David moans and hooks his legs around Amahl's hips, riding him, urging him deeper. His body is tender and swollen inside, eager for a knot. Every thrust makes a wet sound from all the slick inside him.

"Amahl," he groans, and bares his neck another fraction more. "Please."

That’s right, Amahl says in his mind. Say my name. I want you to know exactly who is claiming you.

David gives a soft cry as Amahl sucks on his neck, first soft and then harder, so hard it starts to hurt. But muddled with pheromones and hormones, the pain feels so good, David cups Amahl's head and urges him on. "Amahl," he pleads, his desperation to be claimed becoming agony.

Amahl sucks like he’s trying to pull David’s blood through his skin, and David cries out in pain— And that’s when Amahl’s teeth sink in, sharp and sudden. In that moment, his thoughts resound in David’s head: mine yes finally finally he’s mine mine no one else’s.

David cries out in pain and pleasure. Amahl's bite is vicious and intensely satisfying, breaking the skin and digging deep. With his last wisps of lucid thought, David fantasizes about how beautifully such a claiming mark would set and scar if it was real. And then all he can think is yours yours yours yours yours only yours.

“I’m going to ruin you,” Amahl whispers in his ear, urgent and low, as if the words are escaping him against his will. The scent of David's blood is copper on his breath. “I’m going to devour you until there’s nothing left inside you that I didn’t put there. I’m going to corrupt you and hollow you out until you don’t even remember wanting to be anything else. I’m going to make you mine.”

David clenches hard around Amahl's cock, his body spasming with lust. Somehow the threat only makes him want Amahl more. In the blaze of his heat— If Amahl wants to eat him alive, David wants to be eaten. "Make me yours," he begs, clinging to him. The bite is only half of it. He needs to be knotted for the fantasy to be complete.

“Tell me you want it,” Amahl hisses. “Tell me how much you want to be owned by me. Le ténia. L'scélérat. Le monstre.”

The tapeworm. The villain. The monster. David understands Amahl no matter what language he speaks because they share the same mind, the same body. But right now none of those words matter.

"No," David gasps, struggling to speak when every part of him is narrowed to the throbbing at his neck, to the way Amahl's cock is bruising him inside with every thrust. He feels exquisitely wounded. He brings his hands to Amahl's face, cupping it. David never knew this face until now, but it's so handsome, so regal. "My king."

Amahl makes an incoherent noise of pleasure and shock. His knot swells up, slipping out of David at first and then forced back inside by Amahl’s urgent thrusts. The knot locks in place, trapping them together— and then Amahl comes, gripping David’s hips bruisingly hard, his whole body taut.

David comes too, with soft, keening sobs, his whole body pliant, receiving, trembling with ecstasy. It feels so real, all of this is— It’s everything he’s ever wanted for so long. He feels Amahl’s come filling him up, soaking the core of him.

It's so good. It's so, so good, David never wants it to end.

But as he clings to Amahl, David's fever spikes again, his body suddenly blazing hot, and then he shivers with chills. He takes gasping breaths against Amahl’s skin, some instinct driving him to soak up his scent even more. He feels a deep throbbing inside himself, first where their bodies are joined, at the bloody wound on his neck, and then everywhere. A wave of euphoric bliss swamps him, drowns his weak attempts to resist.

“What—“ he gasps, confused. The way his body’s reacting— This shouldn’t be possible. "I don't understand." God, he's burning up. He remembers from biology class— When a claim is made— The cascade of physical changes, the— The chemical and neurological bonding—

But Amahl doesn't have a body. This can't be happening.

“No,” he begs, as his whole body cries YES and holds Amahl like it never wants to let go, like it wants to stay full of him forever. Like the claim is real.

It can’t be real. His alpha is supposed to be Syd.

Amahl strokes David’s cheek. “Shhh,” he whispers, soothing. “You won't think of her again. You’re mine now.”

And just like that, David feels like-- He shouldn't think about her. Not now, not-- He isn't hers anymore. He never really was. His alpha is here, inside him, holding him, smiling down at him with-- With David's blood on his lips.

Another wave of bliss hits him, and David trembles.

"Beautiful," Amahl purrs, admiring him, caressing him. "I waited so long for this moment. It was very hard to be patient, but-- I have always been a patient man."

"How?" David asks, the single word all he can muster.

"Did I not tell you?" Amahl says. "Love is chemicals, signals in the brain. What your mind believes, your body accepts. I simply-- Ensured the necessary reactions. And now you are mine. Isn't it wonderful?"

"Yes," David cries, his body joyous, ecstatic, even though he's horrified. Amahl cups his cheek, and David rubs against it, needing. He feels himself clench around Amahl's knot, wanting to hold him inside, hold his come inside, as long as he can. The more intense the heat, the longer the knot, the deeper the bond--

Amahl kisses him, savoring, his tongue delving, rubbing against David's. The taste of his own blood in Amahl's mouth triggers another chemical cascade, smaller but intense, pulling his fear away from him. He's not supposed to be afraid of his alpha. His alpha is supposed to love him just as much, so much they'd never hurt him.

But Amahl doesn't have a body for David to claim back.

Tears streak from David's eyes. Amahl chuckles and tastes them, kisses them away.

"Sublime," Amahl purrs. He moves to the claim mark, still bleeding, and feeds on it, lapping up the blood, sealing the wound with his spit. David shudders again, in elation and dread.

"They will never take you away from me again," Amahl promises. "And you will never want them to. Shh, don't worry. This is how we were always meant to be. I only give you what you need."

There's a new certainty in David's bones, in his heart, that every word Amahl said is true. Amahl kisses him again and David is unable to do anything but welcome it. He kisses back with equal hunger, even as tears still run hot from the corners of his eyes.

"Your knot," David moans. It feels so good, so perfect. He clenches at it again, holds Amahl close. The feeling from before, at the moment Amahl bit him-- As the intense euphoria fades, he feels-- Another change in him, deep and intense. Worship, adoration, devotion.

Love.

The tears slow, cease. David cups his hand against Amahl's cheek. Amahl takes it, breathes in the scent from his wrist.

"Ahh," Amahl sighs, and kisses his wrist. "Our new parfum is developing. Délicieux." He brings David's wrist down for him to smell, and David breathes in. He smells a strange cocktail of alpha and omega, Amahl and David becoming-- Something new, something-- Wonderful.

"Enjoy yourself, joonam," Amahl says, fondly. "By the end of your heat, there will be no more fear, no more-- Bicycle in the tree."

David sighs in contentment, the worst of his claiming fever fading, though his heat will burn for days. He clenches around Amahl's knot again, and presses at the deep claiming mark at his neck. He knows it will scar so beautifully. He can't wait for everyone to see it.