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Brambles and Bonfires

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Before he moved to a small town, Steve thought the people in New York were crazy. But the folks here had weird superstitions, they actually believed those old wives tales about spending too much time in solitude turning you feral – when he told people here that he was living alone, they warned him against it. Some jokingly, some with an intensity that caused him to believe they had to be serious, that they really did think he’d start growling instead of talking unless he got himself a roommate. He always politely extracted himself from conversations with the latter sort of people, dismissing them as wackjobs.

He found out from another student – the only reason he’d come to a tiny town nestled in the mountains, to go to art school somewhere scenic – that all the talk about going feral stemmed from something that might be called a legend if it had happened further in the past. Apparently some kid went missing in the late eighties, and years later a hiker had a near-death experience with something he claimed was an Alpha gone feral. People jumped to conclusions, something that tended to happen in boring small-town-life, and decided it was the kid who got lost in the woods. And like the end of any bad horror movie, rumor had it that he was still out there.

None of this was going through Steve’s mind when he accepted a friend’s offer to go on a hiking trip with him. Of course it wasn’t, because Steve wasn’t the kind of guy to let some weird, definitely not true story deter him from going hiking. There were many, many more excuses he could think of to not go hiking, most of which included the fact that he hated hiking. But the Beta who invited him was nice, and more than a little cute, so he took the opportunity to get to know him more without thinking things all the way through.

About halfway through the hike – with a big group, Steve was disappointed to learn, which left his plan of one-on-one bonding in the dust – his asthma started really kicking his ass. They’d been doing nothing but winding upward for over an hour, and he couldn’t help thinking that they not only had to go back down, but their guide kept going up. And he kept expecting his friend to bail, or commiserate with him, or at least give some sign like he was tired at all. When he didn’t it felt just a bit like a betrayal and left him seriously questioning his choice in friends.

He was questioning every damn choice he’d ever made by the time he finally gave in and had to sit down, lagging behind the back of the pack, all of whom were much more appropriately dressed and well-equipped than he was. The friend he came with had long since left his side to talk to other people, and yeah, that definitely felt like a betrayal. No one even noticed he’d stopped walking.

Deciding he was well and truly over this, he got himself up with a wheeze and started heading back the other way. No, they hadn’t taken a well-defined path up here, it was only a route that the guided hikes took, but he’d just come up this way, and the idea of taking another step upward was enough to convince him to turn back. He could do this. All he had to do was head down.

He could do this.

 

.

 

The Alpha hardly ever caught wind of anyone in his territory. A good thing, because he fiercely defended it, and last time he had a run-in with someone, another Alpha, it didn’t end well for either of them. His shoulder still ached when it rained, marred with scar tissue where the bullet ripped through him. Honestly, he couldn’t remember how long he’d been alone up here, and he didn’t care to think about it. He had everything he needed. And aside from his occasional fever – the instinctual pull and subsequent frenzy to find a mate, always fruitless – he didn’t get lonely.

He was out hunting, trying to stock up his den for the colder months to come, when he caught the scent of something – someone – distinctly alluring. Someone in his territory, but they smelled so good that it didn’t anger him as it should’ve, and he followed the scent. He felt the same pull to it that he did when he went into rut, and he didn’t question it, having learned after all these years to trust his instincts first. The scent on the wind carried him quite a ways East, across the river that marked the edge of his territory and usually deterred wanderers from crossing into it.

What he found lying in the underbrush beneath a tree made him stop. It was an Omega, a young man much smaller and frailer than him, passed out on the ground. Immediately the Alpha found himself overcome by protective instinct like he’d never felt before, scenting the prone figure who didn’t even stir, but was clearly breathing – passed out from exhaustion, or hunger maybe. And beautiful. His hair was so fine and soft-looking, he couldn’t help but reach out to touch. The Omega was delicate. He wouldn’t survive on his own. But more than that, he smelled so incredibly good, the Alpha didn’t think he could turn away even if he wanted to, completely drawn in by him.

He picked him up unceremoniously in strong arms, slung him over his back like his kill, and carried him back to his den; a warm, earthy place he’d dug into the side of the mountain himself, with a pile of furs that served as a bed which he laid him out on. For several minutes, he held himself over the prone Omega and inhaled his scent while he lay unaware, grabbing at the strange clothes he wore, checking for any signs that he was already mated. He couldn’t be, he smelled too good – the Alpha had never even encountered an Omega before, in his memory, but he knew one when he saw it, and this...this was the best thing that could’ve possibly happened. Especially with his fever less than a lunar cycle away.

But he still had a job to do, one he had to get done before he allowed himself to get distracted. And he wanted to get very, very distracted with this Omega. Reluctantly, he turned tail and left the den, off in search of dinner.

 

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Steve awoke with what felt like the world’s worst hangover.

The whole world spun when he tried to sit up, and he was just grateful it wasn’t very bright in here, wherever the hell he was. His mouth tasted horrible and was so dry that it brought back unpleasant memories of going through heat by himself, just a sweaty mess on his mattress, barely able to muster the will to eat and drink.

Except he wasn’t on his mattress. And he wasn’t alone either, because the scent of Alpha was the most overwhelming he’d ever smelled, musky and permeating everything around him and definitely not helping how hard it was to think. He couldn’t remember where he’d fallen asleep, it was all fuzzy at the moment, but he knew it wasn’t on something so soft, so much softer than his creaky spring mattress in his dorm...it was so tempting to just sink back into it and fall asleep again...

But no, no, he couldn’t do that, because he didn’t know where he was. And he was so hungry, how could he forget how hungry he was? He had so little body fat, if he fell asleep again he might not wake up. Grumbling all the way, he forced himself to sit up fully and open his eyes.

The dim light he’d seen before was, he now realized, a flickering fire. That on its own would have been strange enough, but it was also at the mouth of a small cave – a cave that Steve appeared to be in. And that— that wasn’t right...

The appearance of a figure silhouetted against the fire halted Steve’s hazy attempt at coherent thought, blinking up at the man. He seemed towering, but that might’ve just been because Steve was lying on what he now realized was animal furs, piled in a shallow indent dug in the ground like some kind of nest. The figure loomed closer, the ceiling of the cave just tall enough to allow him to stand to full height inside, as if made just for him.

As the figure drew still closer, and Steve’s heart began to race, it all came back to him – he’d tried to get out of hiking, tried to go off on his own and just wandered for hours, why had he done that? He laid down beneath a tree to rest and now—

Now a very wild-looking Alpha stood before him. He had to be the source of the scent that the whole cave was marked with, down to the very walls, because he was the most Alpha-looking Alpha he’d ever seen, and as Steve’s eyes adjusted, he saw way more than he bargained for. Out of pure reflex, he jerked his head to the side once his gaze fell between the man’s legs, but he still saw enough to know that he lived up to the Alpha stereotype of being well-endowed. And that he was shamelessly naked.

“Oh my god, what— who are you?” he asked incredulously, not even knowing where to start with this guy. He lifted a hand to half-cover his eyes, still throwing upwardly-angled glances out of curiosity and maybe a little fear, too. He was an Omega alone in the middle of the damn woods with a naked Alpha; he could fight if he needed to, but that rarely ended well for him.

And holy shit, that scent was strong, and not in a bad way either. Steve would normally be the first to complain about reeking Alphas feeling the need to scent everything in sight, but there was something about it...it was a pure, undiluted scent, none of those fake pheromones that Alphas in Brooklyn liked to wear because they thought it made them seem tough and dominating. It was just how this Alpha smelled, and it spoke of strength.

It got stronger as the Alpha crouched down at the edge of the bed of furs, and Steve suddenly found himself caught up in a steely grey gaze, making him freeze on the spot and forget that he’d just asked a question that still went unanswered. The Alpha’s brow was heavy, but not angry, just...considering him. Steve couldn’t look away, eyes wide and mouth agape.

“Drink.”

The word was gravelly, spoken as if by someone who hadn’t spoken in years, and there was a “what?” forming on Steve’s lips before he glanced down and realized the Alpha was extending something to him, a leather pouch like a canteen.

He probably should’ve questioned it, but he didn’t. He was so goddamn thirsty that he took it as quickly as his shaky hands allowed, tipping it to his lips and taking large gulps. It didn’t taste off, which was only a small comfort, but still. He drank so much that he was breathing heavily by the time he lowered the pouch, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand.

“Thanks,” he said, awkwardly handing the pouch back to him. He felt a bit more clear-headed now, without his thirst distracting him, gnawing hunger quiet for the moment while his stomach was full of water, and the first thing he did was try to get a good look at the Alpha.

In the dim, flickering light of the fire behind him, the Alpha held a kind of intensity that Steve had a hard time coming to terms with. He never looked away from him, never seemed to blink, as if perplexed by his very presence – and hell, he wasn’t the only one. Steve didn’t know what the hell he was doing here either. But the Alpha seemed like he belonged here, in the earthen cave, beside a bonfire. His sun-weathered skin spoke of hard labor – apparently all done in the nude, judging by the lack of tan lines – his beard and long hair, dark with shining threads of grey, all of it wild but not unkempt. He kept himself clean, kept his beard a socially acceptable length, though Steve couldn’t help wondering if that was for the sake of being socially accepted or just physically comfortable. He wanted to look more, but refused to let his gaze drift lower than his neck after what he’d seen before.

“Um...” he began, feeling awkward about the heavy silence that stretched between them, just staring at each other, which didn’t seem to bother the Alpha. And Steve’s heart was beginning to pound because so much of this didn’t add up and he was getting a concerning lack of answers.

Steve watched as the strange Alpha set aside the water pouch, never looking away from him, and he was beginning to feel like prey beneath a predator’s stare, swallowing hard. Slowly, like the prowl before the pounce, a weathered hand reached out to touch his face. He would’ve jerked away, but there was something hypnotizing in the Alpha’s eyes keeping him frozen on the spot; calloused fingers brushed his cheek and Steve inhaled sharply, wanting to pull away, wanting to ask questions and get answers...

He still hadn’t gotten a hold of himself by the time the Alpha leaned way too far into his personal space. This close, Steve could see the crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes, but more importantly, his scent was so close and so strong that it was downright intoxicating.

Admittedly, Steve didn’t have much experience with Alphas. Or anyone, really. He’d dated a couple Betas, but nothing serious, never gone beyond kissing. Always took things slow. So when he was literally face to face with a naked Alpha who exuded dominance, who smelled so good it was criminal and had no sense of personal boundaries, he was unprepared to say the least.

The Alpha moved in until his lips brushed Steve’s neck, beard rasping against sensitive skin, and the Omega’s eyes went wide, hands fisting in the furs he sat on. But instinct was a funny thing. Almost beyond his control – okay, entirely beyond his control – his head tipped back, giving him plenty of room, making himself vulnerable.

The “what the fuck am I doing” thought didn’t come until a moment later, his exhausted and hormone-addled brain running a bit slower than usual, blinking up at the ceiling of the cave while the strange Alpha intimately scented him. Hot breath huffed against his neck and made him shiver even though it was quite warm in the cave. A noise rumbled out of the Alpha, deep and quiet and contented, like that response pleased him. He’d spoken exactly one word to Steve so far, and now he was doing this.

“I-I don’t— who are you?” he asked, hating how unsteady his voice sounded and still finding himself unable to even try to back away. A beat of silence passed between them, the tip of his nose tracing a vein on Steve’s neck.

“Alpha,” came his response a moment later, spoken in that same deep, gravelly voice.

Okay. Unhelpful.

“I meant—“ Steve started, only for him to be suddenly pushed back, down onto the ridiculously soft bedding. There was a broad hand on his chest, surely feeling his heart racing just beneath it, because if his fight or flight hadn’t been triggered before it sure as hell was now. But with the heady Alpha scent still making him dizzy, his body seemed to have decided it wanted to stay right here no matter how much his brain panicked, keeping him pinned beneath him as effectively as the strong hand.

Lying on his back with the Alpha looming over him, long strands of hair tickling his face, he really got a sense of how huge this guy was. His shoulders were twice as broad as Steve’s and far more muscled, probably strong enough to snap him in half like a twig, and his chest was toned beneath coarse body hair. If he wanted Steve to stay, he could keep him there without breaking a sweat.

That really shouldn’t have been as hot as it was.

“Hang on, just hang on,” he said as steadily as he could manage, reaching up to put his palms on the Alpha’s chest, which was really a mistake because his pecs were rock-hard and hot beneath his hands and it did nothing to help his resolve.

The Alpha didn’t seem to care what he was saying anyway, or maybe he couldn’t understand him, because he leaned down without hesitation, mouthing at his neck now, and his mouth was so meltingly hot that it actually made Steve’s eyes roll back a little. And god help him, when the Alpha pulled the collar of his shirt aside to nip at the juncture of his neck and shoulder, where a mate would bite to stake their claim, Steve let out an involuntary whimper.

The Alpha pulled back when that happened as if caught off guard, but now his pupils were blown so wide there was almost none of that steely grey left. They made eye contact for one brief moment that made every coherent thought in Steve’s head fizzle out, and then he was upon him again, more forcefully this time, caging his body with his own more powerful one and claiming his mouth in the hottest kiss Steve had ever had. It was less of a kiss and more of the Alpha dominating his mouth with his tongue, forcing his lips open, moaning when they parted, and the best and worst part of it all was that Steve yielded for him so easily. He didn’t know why, couldn’t get a hold of himself, but every sound the Alpha made sent shivers down his spine. It was all he could do not to whimper again.

Strong hands kept him pinned, but before long that didn’t seem to be enough for the Alpha – they began tugging at his clothes, clumsily like he didn’t quite know how to get them off. As soon as he figured out he could pop the buttons on his flannel shirt if he pulled hard enough, it brought Steve back to reality for a brief moment.

“No—“ he panted, jerking his head to the side to escape the dizzying kiss. “Oh god, don’t, please don’t...” This couldn’t happen. He couldn’t be raped by some strange Alpha in the woods who he may or may not be hallucinating in a starvation-driven breakdown. But the Alpha didn’t even slow, even as Steve struggled, squirmed beneath him and cried out even though the chances were slim to none that anyone would hear him. Rough hands pulled his clothes until he heard fabric rip, pinned his wrists with ridiculous ease, but Steve wasn’t one to give up. He struggled harder, gritted his teeth and tried to figure out how to angle himself to kick this bastard in his conveniently exposed balls—

A deep growl reverberated through the cave, and its effect on Steve was instantaneous. The forced submission had his muscles going lax, a warm calm spreading through him from head to toe, and he stopped mid-cry, fell obediently silent. He’d never had that done to him before, hadn’t even known it was possible to force an Omega to submit with only a growl, but this Alpha seemed to be different in a lot of aspects. More powerful.

It wasn’t unpleasant, either, like he thought it would be. It just relaxed him, had him tipping his head back to please the Alpha, and he wondered what he was so worried about a moment ago. The rest of his clothes were removed with no fuss from him, not even a twitch of movement.

He glanced down when he felt a warm, heavy weight knock against his thigh. And if he thought the Alpha was big before, it was nothing compared to now, with the scent of his arousal permeating the air. His cock was nearly as long as Steve’s forearm, and thicker, rooted in dark curls. Steve’s own cock, like most Omegas’, was barely bigger than his thumb, more for show than anything – and in spite of himself, it was stiffly sticking up, too small to curve upward towards his belly. And, also like most Omegas, he had almost no body hair to speak of, and what he did have was fine and blond. They might as well be different species.

The forced submission didn't last long, wasn’t meant to, and as he slowly came back to himself, he knew what was about to happen. This Alpha would force himself on him, no matter what he did, and he wasn’t on any kind of birth control, had no protection—

As his panic mounted again, the Alpha descended upon him, forced his legs apart to settle himself between them, mouth latching onto his neck again. It had Steve keening, torn between his fear and the heat that raced down his spine, squirming weakly beneath the massive Alpha. And the way the Alpha’s teeth grazed his neck, the rumbling noises he kept letting out, the raw strength behind his every predatory movement...Steve’s body began to betray him, hot slick leaking from his hole like an invitation.

It was Omega nature to want a strong, capable Alpha. One who could father healthy litters, who could hold their own in a fight in case they needed to defend their mate and pups. This Alpha went so far above and beyond those standards. No matter what the circumstances, Steve couldn’t physically say no to him, his biology just wouldn’t let him, but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying.

Above him, on him, the Alpha was making noises like he was hungry, starving for the Omega and everything he had to offer. God knows how long he’d been secluded here, on the side of a mountain looking like history’s most attractive caveman, and it clearly had an effect on him. Steve couldn’t help wondering if he had any rational thought, or if he ran on pure instinct.

The Alpha’s touches became more frantic, keeping both of Steve’s wrists restrained in one large hand, licking over the skin of his neck and rutting against the back of his thigh like an animal. And Steve was helpless to it all, whimpering on every exhale as his body was jostled and manhandled, strong jaw and teeth so close to his jugular. He babbled out pleas, begged breathlessly for him to stop, but it fell on deaf ears.

The thick cock sank into him with little warning. The Alpha had been humping him like a wild dog, snarling and nipping sensitive skin, when he seemed to find his mark and pushed in all at once. And he was so massive, thank god Steve had been leaking slick like he was in heat, easing the way, but it was still so much for him to take. It had him crying out at first, then just gasping for air, legs kicking. The strangest feeling, having something so large inside him, even if it was something he was made to take, reaching so deep inside him it felt like it was pushing against his organs, compressing his lungs so it was hard to take a deep breath. For a long moment he just panted, squirmed on the huge cock, caught in his own utter disbelief as he looked down and saw a visible bulge in his stomach from it. For some reason, the sight disarmed him, had his eyes rolling back in his head and his back arching as he let out a long, shameless moan.

He didn’t know what came over him, but the feeling of being stuffed full of cock turned off some major switches in his brain, making it impossible to think about anything but how fucking good it felt, how right – and that was all just in the few short moments before the Alpha started moving.

He didn’t seem to have any concept of patience, setting a punishing pace right off the bat. And Steve yelled, in pain or pleasure or fear or ecstasy he didn’t know, struggling again as the cock drove into him but pinned down under strong hands. His eyes were squeezed shut, head turned to the side because he was so overwhelmed, never having gone through any of this before. But with a sharp growl from the Alpha, his body seemed to understand the command behind it even if his mind didn’t, and suddenly he was compelled to look at the Alpha, eyes flashing open to meet his.

The Alpha’s gaze was intense, hypnotic as it had been before, and Steve understood exactly his intent as he stared back at him. The Alpha meant to dominate him, to own him entirely, to fuck him so far into submission that he’d never have a chance of disobeying again. His stare, the powerful pound of his hips, the way he held him down – it all promised that this was something he was never meant to get away from.

“Mine,” the Alpha snarled, words cutting straight to Steve’s core. “Mine, mine...”

He punctuated each word with a slam of his hips, fucking the Omega so hard it jostled his whole body with every thrust, and all he could do was take it. And fuck, it felt so good. He desperately wished it didn’t feel as good as it did, but it had his toes curling, his head lolling, moaning so loud it echoed off the cave walls because it just felt so right to be fucked so brutally. Like he was a thing to be used, and he felt the Alpha’s ownership over him reverberate through his very bones, struggling less and less the longer the Alpha used him.

“N-n-no...” he managed to groan out, voice stuttering each time he was pounded into. And he said it, not only because there was some part of his rational brain that still knew how terrifying this was, but because...fuck him, he wanted to see what would happen. Wanted to know what the Alpha would do if he refused, if he—

The Alpha lunged so fast he barely saw it, and in almost the same moment he felt teeth sinking into flesh, into the muscle where neck met shoulder, puncturing his bonding gland.

The release of hormones was even better than he’d always heard about.

In a rush that flooded his system like a high, every nerve lit up with white hot pleasure, making his back arch as he let out a sharp cry. It was no surprise that he came, little cock sputtering clear fluid over both of their stomachs. In his shock, he scrambled to grab something, anything, and wound up clinging to firm biceps, legs tightening around the hips that were still pounding him hard.

Completely involuntarily, he clenched up around the Alpha’s cock, spasming and milking it hard, and he groaned above him, thrusts picking up in speed. It had Steve gasping, still riding out his orgasm and just beginning to become oversensitive, his head in a fog from the hormones of being claimed and surrounded in the Alpha’s scent. His Alpha’s scent.

With a grunt and one last gut-deep thrust, the Alpha went rigid, and suddenly Steve felt something hot flood his insides. In the same moment, the Alpha’s knot swelled, so big inside him that it compressed his prostate and he actually sobbed for how good it felt, being tied to his mate and filled with his seed. And as the massive cock throbbed inside him, pumping him full, breeding him, Steve’s second orgasm snuck up on him, had his body jerking and twitching on his cock as he let out gasping cries.

Slowly, as it passed, his muscles began to loosen, going lax until he was nothing but a submissive puddle beneath the powerful Alpha, legs spread obscenely wide and breaths coming in ragged, almost sobbing.

For a good long moment, his mind was blissfully blank. He’d served his purpose. He was owned, claimed and bred, just like a good Omega should be. The Alpha huffed above him, hot breath washing over his face until he leaned down to lave his tongue over the fresh bite mark, making Steve shudder.

This strange, wild Alpha had taken him. Everything he had to give. He’d played on Steve’s instincts and Omega weaknesses like a goddamn fiddle and now he was permanently bound, mated to a feral mountain man, his insides painted with his seed that would almost undoubtedly take root in him. If his seed was as potent as his scent, Steve would be carrying his litter like he was born to do it. And still he couldn’t make himself struggle, not really, not aside from a few weak squirms and incoherent whimpers of protest. It only made him feel how stuck he was on the Alpha’s massive knot, heat shooting up his spine.

And the Alpha was in heaven. Steve could smell the happiness rolling off him in dizzying waves, and he kept rumbling out low growls of satisfaction, clearly pleased with himself. It started to trick Steve’s brain, because Omega instinct told him that if his Alpha was happy, he was happy – he had to make a conscious effort to keep himself grounded in reality, to not sink into the contented haze threatening to relax him.

He didn’t realize he’d let his eyes close, not until he felt lips on his again. The kiss was slow, albeit uncoordinated, like the Alpha didn’t know what he was doing but knew what he wanted. And again Steve yielded for him, tongues dragging slow and hot, any thought left in his head fizzling out. He didn’t have to think, it was so much easier not to think…

His mind was so hazy and empty by the time the Alpha was moving inside him again, like he knew exactly how to disarm him, how to turn him obedient and docile. Two things Steve had always striven not to be. Yet he lay there and didn’t even squirm as the Alpha tried to thrust in and out of him again, only succeeding in grinding his knot harder against Steve’s prostate, which had him keening softly. But the Alpha didn’t stop until his knot deflated enough to pop free, with a squelching sound and a cry from Steve as his hole was forced wider, then again when the knot was forced back inside him.

The Alpha kept that up, fucking him with his knot until Steve thought he’d pass out from the dizzying pleasure of being filled like that over and over again, until his knot was gone. To Steve’s surprise, the Alpha didn’t stop, nor did his cock flag in the slightest, still hard as a rock inside him as he was taken again. He was oversensitive and he made it known, squirming and gasping but the feral Alpha just pinned him down harder and kept using him, putting him in his place.

It was an arcane idea, that Omegas existed for Alphas to use, that it was their job to be obedient and take what they were given, to serve their Alpha and give them pups and think of nothing else. And these were things Steve fought against, for most of his life, but...fuck, he felt it. Right down to his bones, this Alpha made him feel like that was all he was meant for, and in his blissful haze, he liked it. He struggled just to feel how unyieldingly strong his Alpha was, and the fact that he had no chance of getting away had him actually trembling in pleasure.

Whimpers were escaping him on every thrust now, the Alpha burying his cock in him and growling and grunting. At one point Steve tried to open his eyes, but he was seeing double, the cave around him looking like it was spinning – and god, he’d heard Omegas could get drunk on Alpha pheromones, but he didn’t think it was so literal. A rough hand on his face had his eyes fluttering shut as his mouth was claimed again, and he just moaned into the kiss, too out-of-it to even reciprocate. The Alpha didn’t seem to mind, just forced his tongue into his lax, open mouth to taste him.

This one lasted longer – the pounding thrusts, the vice grip on his wrists, the teeth grazing his skin – and Steve didn’t have one coherent thought through the whole thing. His body was singing, taking his Alpha like it was all he was meant to do, and the sheer amount of hormones flooding his system was enough to keep him high like this for days. He should feel humiliated, and part of him did, but it only fed into the pleasure, his whole body flushed with shame and his hole leaking so much slick that his ass and thighs were a mess.

“Good,” the Alpha grunted, slamming into him in quick, brutal thrusts. “Good boy. Mine. Mine.”

And fuck, if that didn’t hit all of Steve’s buttons. Instantly he wanted more praise from his Alpha, craved it like he did the thick cock stuffing him full. He opened his eyes again to stare up at him, eyes wide and adoring even if his gaze was so unfocused he could barely make him out.

His body was used like a toy, like a piece of meat, and the Alpha never seemed to tire. Steve’s rational brain had long since shut off, so completely that he wondered if it would ever come back online again, leaving him a whining, needy mess beneath the beast of a man, who growled and nipped and kept him pinned down with such strength that Steve knew it would leave bruises. Hoped it would leave bruises. He was still struggling, so very weakly, because it was making the Alpha grab him harder and fuck that went straight to his cock.

He didn’t know how many times he came for his Alpha. Lost count, in his haziness, his body seeming to interpret every growl as a command to come for him, and Steve only realized once his orgasms stopped bringing him relief that he was in heat. He could come a thousand times and never feel satisfied, not until he was knotted again – his whines turned more desperate, urgent, his back arching as his skin flushed all at once and he nearly sobbed, pulled under fully by his heat.

“Alpha,” he begged, breathless. He thought enduring a heat while he had a cock readily stuffing him full would bring him more relief, but it only amplified his need, so much more than when it was just him and his hand. What he needed was right there, and he couldn’t get it fast enough.

The Alpha caught on quickly to what had happened to him. What he’d awakened in the Omega. Steve saw his eyes darting over his form, curious, and then his face was buried in his neck, breathing him in like his scent was a drug. Addictive. His thrusts came even more brutally after that, purely an animal as he pounded into him, forcing gasping sobs from his chest.

“Oh— oh god, Alpha,” he choked out. Unable to do anything but hold onto him for dear life and let himself be used. And in his state, it felt so, so good to be used.

The Alpha came only after his cock had forced several more orgasms from Steve, who made a mess of himself and was no longer able to even speak. Finally, finally the thick cock was pumping him full of seed again, and he let out a drawn-out moan as that absurdly large knot swelled inside him once more. Nothing had ever felt so good. The thick bulb that kept him plugged, while he was forced into the throes of heat, was like getting a fix of something he never knew he needed this badly; he was moaning so loud he was almost screaming, writhing on the Alpha’s knot and gasping for air. This was what he was meant for. This was all he was meant for.

His skin was on fire, sweating and flushed and every little touch from the Alpha making his nerves light up with pleasure. And he was coming on his knot, too, walls spasming around it and making his whole body twitch, tiny cock spilling watery cum. Above him, his Alpha was panting, but his frenzy hadn’t seemed to have died down just like last time, occasionally snapping his hips forward without warning to force the knot just a little bit deeper into him. It was exactly what Steve needed right now, someone who understood his need.

“Again,” he pleaded breathlessly the moment he felt the knot buried in him begin to deflate. His hands scrabbled at broad shoulders, trying to find some purchase, desperate to keep the Alpha close. “Again, please Alpha, use me, please, please use me, breed me, breed me up, Alpha—”

His mindless babbling was cut off with another hungry kiss, and the Alpha didn’t disappoint, giving a dirty roll of his hips that had Steve seeing stars. He knew himself, knew he’d be in this heat-drunk state for a week, and now that he knew what it was like to be knotted like this, he wouldn’t be able to get enough.

He didn’t know how many more times he took his Alpha’s cock that night. His mind had gone, completely, left nothing but driving instinct behind. Sometime into what had to be the very early hours of the next day, he passed out in the middle of being fucked like an animal, unable to stay awake for even a moment longer – understandable, considering how little food he’d eaten, but that was the furthest thing from his awareness. The last thought in his head was that he hoped his Alpha kept using him even after he fell asleep. That he wouldn’t ever, ever stop.

 

.

 

Something sounded...wet.

Steve moaned quietly in his half-awake state, wondering if his apartment had sprung a leak in the ceiling again. The last time that happened, he’d had his upstairs neighbor’s bathwater soaking his carpet for days.

There was a strange sensation, though, almost like he was rocking back and forth, and the absurd thought came to his brain that he might be on a boat. A very hot boat, because Christ, he was sweating like a pig, heat radiating from his very core all the way to his toes, which curled as he moaned again. Something felt good. So, so good…

He was lying on his stomach, with his ass held in the air by strong hands and his legs spread wider than he knew they could go. And behind him, the Alpha attached to those strong hands was fucking him almost lazily, filling him up with that addicting stretch of his thick cock over, and over, and over again. The furs beneath him were a mess, covered in his drool and sweat and slick and cum – but not the Alpha’s, no, that was all kept somewhere much safer.

Slowly, Steve raised a shaky hand to his belly, and what he felt there had him letting out a drawn-out whine; he was bloated with the Alpha’s seed, filled with god knows how many loads, his stomach distended and insides cramping from the sheer volume of it. It felt – and probably looked – like he was carrying his litter already. For the very first time, he heard himself start purring, entirely involuntary.

The sound seemed to alert the Alpha to him being awake, and a hot, solid form leaned down to press against his back. And he was still fucking him, his cock dragging hot and heavy inside his used hole, so good it had Steve’s eyes rolling back in his head even after hours of this. There was no energy left in him, leaving him entirely limp and prone, at the massive Alpha’s mercy – and he had to have had several orgasms in his sleep, judging by the mess he’d made of himself, so clearly his body wasn’t complaining.

Again, some time later, he was knotted, his body thrumming with satisfied pleasure. And as he panted and trembled from his latest orgasm, which seemed to drag on and on thanks to the constant, intense pressure against his prostate, he felt fingers pressing something between his parted lips.

Food. He’d entirely forgotten how hungry he was, in his heat. But his Alpha hadn’t, feeding him what tasted like blueberries, and dried meat, and a few more mouthfuls of water from the canteen. Steve didn’t even bother opening his eyes, just blindly accepting whatever the Alpha fed him and feeling doted on, something he couldn’t remember feeling in a long time. It was slightly familiar, and he wondered if the Alpha had done this last night too...it was so hard to think, his memories hazy, unable to focus on anything but the thick knot still locking them together.

With brief pauses to eat while they were knotted, the Alpha just kept going. Steve didn’t want to question how he never tired out, too afraid he would stop. And he was practically useless through the whole thing, too worn out to move and too strung out to speak, just a warm hole to fuck, and...he was okay with that. More than okay.

Never before had he been so lost to his heat. He’d always had some semblance of rational thinking, usually revolving around his irritation with the whole ordeal, but this time it was like someone reached in and flicked an off switch in his brain. Then cranked his instincts up to eleven.

He didn’t realize how far gone he was until he awoke again, after the two of them had passed out together – the Alpha did have a limit, it seemed – and panicked when he couldn’t find his Alpha. When he didn’t have that cock he’d become addicted to filling him up. He felt so empty, aching, the massive amounts of cum finally able to leak out and down his legs as he tried to sit up, glancing blearily around the den.

When he was able, in his drunken state, to determine that his Alpha wasn’t in the sunlit cave, he tried to crawl forward off the bed of furs, wisely not trusting his legs, only to be stopped short by a sharp tug of something around his neck.

Reaching up, he felt something tied snugly there, a soft leather band nearly flush with his skin. It trailed back behind him and anchored to the rocky wall, tied too tightly for his shaking hands to undo when he tried.

Every instinct in his body told him he needed his Alpha immediately. He was trapped, and alone, in the middle of the woods and in heat, and his heart began to pound in panic. Mindlessly, he strained against the cord, pulling so hard he wheezed for breath, staring wide-eyed out the mouth of the den and thinking of nothing but his Alpha, his cock, his knot, cum and slick running down his legs. He didn’t even want to think about how he looked right now, naked and covered in bruises and his hair matted at the back from being fucked into the bed of furs. He looked, he realized dimly, even more feral than his Alpha did.

For what felt like hours, he whined and howled and choked himself on his leash trying to get to his absent mate. Not once did he think to stop, or even think at all. By the time he finally saw his Alpha coming up the hill, his small cock was bright red and chafed from how much he’d been humping the furs in a vain attempt to get some relief to the burning need. He let out a strangled sob, reaching out a hand for him desperately.

His Alpha seemed startled, to say the least, by the state of him. The moment they locked eyes, Steve saw his go wide, and he began approaching much faster after that, dropping the carcass of a deer he had slung over his back at the mouth of the cave before moving inside.

“Shh, shh, m’here, got you,” the Alpha murmured when he caught Steve up in his arms and pressed close, and it was the most he’d ever heard the man speak. His voice sent shivers over his skin, but he could barely comprehend the words, shaking and shoving his face into the sweat-and-musk smell of his chest and keening desperately.

“Take me, ple— please, Alpha, take me…” Hands weakly tugging him closer, he didn’t have to work too hard for his Alpha to give him what he needed. Within seconds he was being manhandled, gloriously forced down onto the messy furs and stuffed full again, mounted like an animal.

Things went on like this for the entirety of his week-long heat. When Steve wasn’t spending the majority of his time getting exactly what he needed, getting fucked into submission, he was either unconscious or alone and wishing he was. His Alpha had to take time to himself each day, to hunt or sleep or take care of himself without the needy Omega making those things impossible, and it was torture for Steve, who more than once accidentally made himself pass out from lack of oxygen when pulling on his leash too hard for too long. But his Alpha always came back, always quick to shove him up against the cave wall and have his way with him again.

Every time it was brutal, base animal instinct and nothing else, and Steve couldn’t fucking get enough of it. His Alpha’s cock was so big that it knocked him breathless every time.

He felt like he didn’t even know who he was anymore by the seventh day, and the most terrifying part was he genuinely didn’t care. He was his Alpha’s Omega. His to use, to control, to fill with pups. And god, he wanted that more than anything, wanted to get fat with this Alpha’s litters. He didn’t feel like he was worthy of it, but he wanted it, and it was all he could think about whenever his mate shot off a new load of seed inside him.

But his heat couldn’t last forever. He didn’t even think about when it would end, this just seemed like his life now, like his brain and body were permanently rewired to be what his Alpha wanted. It happened on the eighth morning of him being there, when he finally woke up and the burning need was gone, and in its place, the realization of what had happened to him.

 

.

 

The Alpha knew before he picked up on his mate’s changed scent that he was free of his heat. The past seven mornings he’d awoken to the desperate little Omega whining and pawing at him, nosing at his skin like a pup in search of milk, but this morning he rose with the sun, as he usually did.

Beside him, looking much more alert than he had all week, his Omega was sitting up among the furs, knees to his chest and brow furrowed in concentration. His thin fingers were working at the knot in the leather cord around his neck – honestly there was no point keeping it on him while the Alpha was there, he only put it on to make sure his heat-frenzied mate didn’t wander off in search of him while he was gone and get himself passed out in the underbrush again. But days of him straining so hard against it had made the knot incredibly tight, and there was just no point in untying and re-tying it when all his Omega cared about was breeding over and over.

Slowly, the Alpha sat up. Immediately wide blue eyes snapped to him, almost fearful, but he didn’t pause.

“Leaving?” he asked, tongue feeling thick and clumsy in his mouth. It had been a long, long time since he had reason to speak, before he found his Omega. Who looked, at the moment, like he’d been caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to, but the Alpha’s expression was calm, his voice even.

“I...I don’t know you,” the Omega said after a moment. His hands stilled on the knot. “I can’t just stay here, I’ve got...stuff. To do.”

The Alpha blinked, taking a minute to put it all together; the Omega spoke quickly, said too many words for him to keep up with, but he was pretty sure he understood. He shook his head. “You’re mine.” The words were a quiet rumble, sure and steady. He smiled. “My mate…” A calloused hand reached up to brush the Omega’s cheek, soft as the goose down that lay under the furs of his bed.

His Omega didn’t seem convinced. On contact, his eyelashes fluttered and he leaned into his hand, then seemed to think better of it, recoiling and shaking his head.

“I can’t, oh my god, I can’t do this,” he reiterated, tugging uselessly at the stuck knot with renewed vigor. “You’re just some random-ass Alpha living in the woods, and I let you— you bred me, I have to go home, I have to take care of this, I’ve missed so many classes…”

It was too many words for the Alpha to decipher, but he knew his Omega was in distress, and that just wouldn’t do. It was his job to fix that. He couldn’t trust the Omega to know what he needed, he had to show him, to give it to him, regardless of what he thought he needed.

The Omega did struggle, when he took his wrists in hand to still him, when he pulled him close against his chest, but his grip was unyielding against what had to be all of his mate’s strength. Slowly, calmly, he restrained him in an embrace even as the little Omega gasped in mounting panic. “Shh. Relax.” The soft-spoken world was laced with Alpha authority, and the effect was instantaneous, his mate going limp and submissive in his arms – unwillingly handing control over to his Alpha, where it belonged. It wasn’t a responsibility he took lightly, rubbing the Omega’s back and nuzzling his hair. “Stay,” he ordered further. “Be good. Stay.”

His Omega seemed to struggle to speak for a moment, taking effort to find his voice through his forced submission, but when he spoke it was clear and coherent.

“I wanna be good for you, I really do, but I can’t just leave my life behind—“

“Shh. Be good.”

“I...I want to, so bad, Alpha. But I got friends...maybe a couple friends, who would...who will…”

“No. You’re mine. You stay.”

“...I shouldn’t. I want to, but I shouldn’t…right, Alpha?”

The uncertainty that was creeping into the Omega’s voice was something he recognized, and he knew it wouldn’t take much more. His mate was feeling the urge to turn to his Alpha for approval, for instruction, and that wasn’t something he’d be able to fight for long. Gently, he took the Omega’s face in hand, tilting his head up from where he’d been curled against his chest. Those big blue eyes looked so torn, gazing up at him like he held the answer, and he would give it.

“You want to stay,” he said firmly, once he’d taken a moment to work the words out in his head.

“I...yes. Yes, Alpha. But—“

“Want to be good?”

“...Yes Alpha. Yes.”

“Then stay.” He rested his forehead against the Omega’s, letting his Alpha scent flood his nose, take hold of him. “Be good. You want to stay.”

He watched the Omega’s eyelids droop just a little, looking more like the strung out Omega he was fucking through his heat, and when he spoke again, his words were slurring just the tiniest bit, entranced. “I...want...to stay.”

“Good boy.”

The Omega shuddered in his arms. The Alpha smiled, but none of the firm command left his voice.

“You’re mine. You’ll stay.”

“I’m...m’yours. Your mate.”

A rumbling, satisfied growl reverberated in his chest. “You’ll stay,” he repeated.

“I’ll...stay…”

There was no fight behind the Omega’s eyes anymore, lulled into full obedience by his Alpha. It was for the best – the complications of civilization were no safe place for such a lovely Omega, it would tear him apart, leave him searching endlessly for a mate who didn’t deserve him. The Alpha had claimed him, and he would take care of him better than any of the brutes who were responsible for the mal-healed bullet wound in his shoulder.

He ducked close to his Omega, murmuring lush praises in his ear until the little thing was trembling and coming in his arms, untouched, gasping softly and curling tighter against his chest.

“I...I gotta know...your name, at least,” the Omega managed to slur out once he’d come down from his high, blinking blearily up at him.

His name – oh god, did he have one of those still? It had been decades, it felt like those things should wear off after not hearing them for that long. But he thought back, pressed his lips together as he strained to remember.

“Bucky,” he said eventually.

His Omega smiled.

“I’m Steve.”

Slowly, the Alpha smiled too – tucking two fingers under the leather cord, he gave a sharp tug and snapped it.

 

.

 

Steve couldn’t remember the last time he’d worried so little.

Life with his Alpha, with Bucky, was so unbelievably easy once he let himself accept that this was his life. It wasn’t hard when his lungs were full of his Alpha’s scent, which always seemed to put him under some kind of spell. At all times, he could feel his Alpha’s command over him like the comforting weight of a blanket. He’d spent so much of his life fighting against the stereotype that Alphas could wrap an Omega around their finger with ease, but with Bucky, it really was the case. Being feral for so long seemed to have amped up his Alpha pheromones to a ridiculous, delicious level that had Steve’s head spinning and made him docile as a lamb.

The leash, it seemed, was only deemed necessary during his heat. Now that he had a bit more brain function back, he knew better than to go chasing after his Alpha when he went hunting, and he could sit beside him while he worked – skinned his kill, tended to the fire, made intricate tools and worked leather with surprising skill – without feeling like he needed to jump his bones. He spent most of his time leaned against his Alpha’s side, watching him work or allowing himself to be fed, which Bucky still insisted on doing by hand, like he literally never wanted Steve to lift a finger.

He thought it would be boring. Out in a cave, without so much as his phone, waiting alone for sometimes hours each day while his mate was out hunting. But from his Alpha’s scent always surrounding him in the den, or maybe just from being mated, his whole brain chemistry felt different; his attention span was much, much longer, often perfectly entertained just to watch his Alpha in silence, and he felt...calmer. When he was alone, and he let himself lay still – either in the den or out in the sun, if the weather was nice – his thoughts quieted to lower than a whisper, just a pleasant buzz in the back of his mind, and he could spend hours like that, letting his head go empty. Almost the same kind of empty he’d gotten during his heat, when he didn’t need to think, just felt everything. Just staring up at the trees and the sky, running a hand over his growing belly.

It took only a week after his heat for them to know he was carrying pups. Bucky had told him, happily, that his scent had changed. Not that Steve was surprised, with how many times he’d been bred, and how potent the Alpha’s seed no doubt was – and judging by how alarmingly quick he started showing, it was a big litter.

At first, Steve had panicked. This wasn’t something he was remotely prepared for. For the past few years all he’d thought about, all he’d had time to think about, was getting his degree and making ends meet. He didn’t see pups in his near or maybe even distant future.

But then, his Alpha had worked the same magic over him that made him stay in the first place. Steve didn’t know what he did to him, all he knew was that a few words from his Alpha and his intoxicating scent in his nose turned him into putty in his mate’s hands, and within minutes he was dazedly agreeing to everything he said. Not only that, but fully, entirely convinced that it was what he’d really wanted all along. His Alpha knew best. He knew what Steve needed.

And now...Christ, now pups were all he could think about. It had been months...maybe. He didn’t bother keeping track of time, or keeping track of anything, really. His mind had turned simple, hazy, and things like that made his fleeting thoughts get all tangled up now. He didn’t mind. His Alpha did the thinking, the planning, the doing for him. All Steve knew was his belly was so big he couldn’t see his toes, and every day it got heavier, and the heavier it got, the happier he felt. Clothes were a thing of the past now, for him, and both he and his mate had taken to rubbing his belly, their litter, at every possible moment.

He’d heard, before, about the effect of pregnancy hormones on Omegas. That it made them more relaxed so they wouldn’t strain themselves, that simply the feeling of being pregnant was a source of pleasure, to encourage them to want to have more litters in the future. He didn’t expect how intense that effect would be, though – once his belly grew too big for him to even get up on his own, weighed down on the bed by his Alpha’s litter, it also left him purring near constantly. A constant thrum of warm pleasure in his veins like a heartbeat. It felt so, so unbelievably good to be pregnant, to be able to give his Alpha pups. To serve his purpose. He was good. He was useful. He was owned.

But if he liked being pregnant, it was nothing compared to how much Bucky liked seeing him pregnant. He’d pull Steve into his arms and scent him almost aggressively, palming his belly and murmuring things about him being stuffed full of pups, about him being a good Omega, about him looking so pretty. It made Steve absolutely melt.

He was always slick for his Alpha. Always needy for him at the drop of a hat, never turning him away if he was in the mood. Taking his cock for as long as his Alpha would give it to him. He was a good Omega.

The later he got in his pregnancy, the hazier he was and the harder it was to think. He didn’t mind. Probably didn’t have the capacity to mind anything. It got to the point where he was so out-of-it that the only way he knew his Alpha was home from a hunt was the sudden sensation of being filled with hot cock – and god, he loved getting fucked just after a hunt, when his Alpha was filled with brutal adrenaline and smelled like fresh air and blood and sweat. Those matings were always the most animal.

They only got more so. Steve thought he might go easy on him as he got bigger, but god, he was glad he didn’t – he’d spent so long being treated with kid gloves because he was a scrawny little Omega, it felt so good to be pushed around for a change. He never realized how much he needed an Alpha to take control like that.

One night, just before they were about to retire to the den – their den – Steve had trouble getting up from his seat by the dying fire. He was just so goddamn big, and standing up made him dizzy now, and the pups were squirming around inside him so much it nearly hurt...he was whimpering softly, struggling to get to his feet, and his Alpha stood by and watched. Sometimes he helped, but other times...he liked watching him struggle, Steve knew that. His Alpha liked knowing his little Omega was dependent upon him, useless without him. Glancing up at his Alpha, pleading wordlessly, he could swear he saw his mate’s eyes darken in the firelight, staring him down with that same feral intensity he had that first night.

Again, Steve strained to stand, cheeks heating under his mate’s heavy gaze, and fell forward onto his hands and knees with a whine. When he tried to straighten up again, he felt a firm hand on his neck, keeping him down.

He was kneeling, the weight of his belly pulling him down so much it forced his legs to spread in the dirt. And with his Alpha’s half-hard cock so close to his face, he couldn’t help leaning forward the short distance to lick it almost shyly. He’d choked on his Alpha’s cock countless times, even passed out from it, and that concentration of musky scent never failed to lure him in for more.

But his Alpha had other plans tonight, it seemed. Even as his cock visibly twitched with interest, he forced Steve down further, catching himself on his hands with a soft yelp as heat raced down his spine. Above him, he heard a low growl, and that was his only warning.

His Alpha pounced like a predator upon him, knocking his front half down onto his elbows and mounting him in the same swift movement, snarling like a wild beast. Steve cried out as a thick cock slammed into him and buried deep, but his cry was cut off; the Alpha had one hand on his hip, keeping his ass in the air, and the other around his throat in a vice grip. He used it as an anchor to pull him back onto his cock with each pounding thrust, not only knocking the breath from him but preventing him from drawing in more.

”Mine,” he growled sharply, the word reverberating through him like a shudder. “All mine…”

Steve was allowed to breathe after a few long moments, gasping for breath and sending his whole world spinning. He just shook his head, playing his part in the game they sometimes did, and tried as hard as he possibly could to struggle, not budging him an inch.

“N-no— stop, m’too full, I can’t take it,” he pleaded, not having to stretch his imagination far; the Alpha was shoving his massive cock where there wasn’t much room anymore, the pups compressing everything and making it a tighter squeeze. But god, it felt good. Each brutal thrust sent his body swaying, belly hanging heavy beneath him, forcing him to feel the weight of it pulling down on him.

“Take it,” The Alpha ordered through gritted teeth. The hand around his throat tightened again and Steve’s eyes rolled back in his head. “Full of my pups. Mine.”

He was owned, completely, inside and out, and he knew it. The Alpha had managed to completely ensnare his body and mind and make them his, a vessel for his pups and a willing hole to fuck. Steve couldn’t breathe, his vision going black at the edges, but if he could, he would’ve moaned.

“Gonna breed you. Over n’ over,” Bucky told him, even as Steve struggled to try to get any air, any air at all. “Fill you up. Use you.”

Steve didn’t doubt it. This was his life now, a bitch to breed. If he spent a single moment for the rest of his life not carrying pups or being fucked full of more, he would be incredibly surprised. He’d found his purpose. This was where he belonged, beneath his Alpha, on his cock, carrying his litter.

The Alpha’s hand slipped enough that Steve gasped one half-lungful of air, and it was enough to give him relief for just a moment and then leave him aching again, but there was something else beyond that aching: an intense, rapidly-building pleasure, and he came silently while he was still being choked, yet it still didn’t stop building, making him writhe.

“I decide,” his mate snarled, grip on his neck tightening for emphasis, and Steve understood. His Alpha got to control every little thing about him. That included when he got to breathe.

That turned out to be not until after he was knotted, and by then he couldn’t see at all, having gone limp and nearly passed out in the dirt. Which was now soiled with his cum because...Christ, he didn’t know how many times he’d come. It was all a blur. But he was finally able to gasp for air when the knot swelled inside him, and his gasps stuttered into moans as he came again, so dizzy he thought he might faint anyway.

By the time he fell silent, limp, shaking with aftershocks and still stuck on his Alpha’s knot – he couldn’t even take deep breaths to recover, the pups were so big they compressed his lungs – his mate leaned in close, beard rasping against his neck and making him tremble.

“What are you?” a low voice rumbled in his ear.

Breathlessly, Steve smiled.

“Yours.”

 

.

 

Years passed. Steve measured time in litters; they came one after the other, each one with more pups than the last. He’d just had his fourth.

He had a pup cradled in his arms, his belly already beginning to swell with more, when he heard them. The rest of the pups were safely in the now-expanded den with their father – it was no surprise to Steve that Bucky made an amazing father, doting on every single pup with the same care and attention that he showed his mate. So he didn’t feel nervous leaving him with them, while he went off a ways to gather blueberries for their lunch.

It wasn’t normal to hear movement in the woods. Most large animals knew better than to come into Bucky’s heavily scent-marked territory, and if they did, they didn’t get this close. But Steve heard heavy footsteps just on the other side of the bushes, and he ducked down, keeping the pup cradled close and listening.

“Oh, dude, blueberries!”

“Nice, we can grab a snack before we head back down…”

If Steve were being completely honest, he’d nearly forgotten that other people existed. It was just their own little world up here on the mountain, it felt like, and the river usually deterred any hikers from exploring this way. Apparently two had found their way here.

Holding his breath, he ducked down further, squeezing his eyes shut tight like that would keep them from seeing him and praying the sleeping pup in his arms didn’t wake up and cry. They were so close, he could hear them moving mere feet away, and...and he didn’t know why that scared him so much. They weren’t even Alphas, he couldn’t pick up a scent – Betas, probably.

It had just been so long. So, so long since he’d even thought about...them. Other people. People who weren’t Bucky and their beautiful pups, their little pack in the making. In the beginning he’d wondered so much if he’d ever want to go back, if he’d miss it, and he’d worried himself near to death about what his mate would do if he wanted to leave.

The two hikers paused, chatted, picked blueberries, and left. Their voices trailed back down the mountain, back towards civilization.

There wasn’t a single cell in his body that wanted to follow them.

Once he was sure the coast was clear, he slowly got to his feet and headed back to their den. Back home. He’d have to tell Bucky to more thoroughly scent-mark that area.