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Hold My Hand (Hold My Heart)

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Isac pushed his laptop to the side and leaned back against the kitchen chair with a yawn. The dinner table was full of his notes, neatly piled and organized based on what he needed to keep in mind for the article he was working on. It was almost finished, just another round of fact checking and proofreading needed to be done, and it would be ready to be sent to the editor. 

For once Isac was well ahead of the schedule, too. Usually his perfectionist streak insisted him to exhaust the projects until the last possible minute, but this time his brain seemed content with the article as it was. Which was nice, because a night off sounded like a dream.

Isac lifted his arms towards the ceiling, yawned again, and then tilted his head to listen to the sounds of the flat. Or the lack of sounds, actually.

Kit was around somewhere, Isac knew that, but the alpha also had the uncanny skill to exist without making any noise. It would’ve been impressive, if it didn’t so often lead into mini heart attacks when Kit decided to sneak up on someone.       

Today, however, Isac suspected that the silence of the flat wasn’t to do with any of that.

Kit was being moody. 

Unfortunately, a moody Kit also usually meant a sad Kit, and because of this, Isac had been trying to figure out how to un-moodify him. Which was, of course, easier said than done. 

A moody Kit wanted to just sleep and scowl, and no matter how cute that was, Isac would rather have him feeling better.  

The alpha had a good reason for it - Isac felt rather affected himself - but having him skulking around the flat with such low energy? Well, it was just making things unnecessarily worse. It was a difficult sort of day, and the two of them feeling respectively bad over things they couldn’t control, was making it more difficult.

Isac got up, more determined than the last time he had taken a break, and headed out towards the bedroom. He had tried to interviene with Kit’s sulkfest already the first thing in the morning, but the alpha had been sneaky and tricked Isac into having a late wake up by rolling on top of him. 

This time he wouldn’t be so easily sidetracked. No more sleepy early-morning haze, only chaos and determination. 

The alpha was laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling and looking like the epitome of melodrama. The look suited him - pretty much everything he did suited him, lucky fucker -  and he had all the reasons to feel down. Unfortunately for him, Isac wasn’t going to let his aesthetically pleasing face distract him again.       

“Kitty-boy,” Isac greeted happily, barely a second before he flung himself over the edge of the bed, and flopped himself on top of Kit’s unsuspecting body, “After some serious consideration, I have come to the conclusion that you should be paying attention to me.”

“I wonder how serious that consideration was, exactly,” Kit said with a pained grunt. He sounded exasperated, but was clearly open to entertaining Isac’s methods of distraction. That was good enough for now. Also, his lovely strong arms were already instinctively wrapping around Isac’s back, which was good. He truly had trained his mates well. 

“The most serious,” Isac nodded. He reached to grab a hold of Kit’s wrists, and arranged them so one arm was wrapped behind his shoulders, while the palm of the other rested on his throat. 

Kit’s fingers twitched ever so slightly over the tendon at the side of Isac’s neck, before the touch relaxed and settled. The alpha sighed and hugged Isac tighter against himself with the arm now around his back.

After a long stretching silence, Kit said, “I’m sorry.” 

It was quiet and weary, and Isac whined out unhappily in protest. 

“‘S not your fault,” Isac reminded him. While he was thoroughly enjoying the grounding touch from his alpha, he just hoped this would actually help Kit to relax, too. “We can’t really do much about it.”

Kit grunted. His dark brows were furrowed and even the bow of his mouth looked sad. Isac snuggled closer, breathing calmly against the secure hold cupping his throat. He pushed his hands into the warmth under the hem of Kit’s shirt. 

“Kit.” Isac pouted, looking down at the alpha with the best imitation of his frown he could come up with. He gently nudged at Kit’s belly to drive the point home; “There’s nothing more we can do, alpha.”

Kit met his eyes, and then smiled sadly, curling the tips of his fingers against the hinge of Isac’s jaw.

“I know,” he admitted with an exhale, clearly just as unhappy about it as Isac. He lifted his hand on Isac’s cheek. “I hate it when I can’t… I should be able to make sure you guys are all happy.”

“You already do. We are happy. ” Isac nuzzled into Kit’s palm, closing his eyes for a moment as the alpha pet over his skin with soft fingers. When he looked up again he made sure to secure an eye contact, before saying, “I don’t like it either, but we can’t protect him from every little thing he might come across.”

“Yeah,” Kit said quietly, unconvincingly, and Isac dug his knuckles against the alpha’s relaxed abs.

“It’s not like he can just cut his family off. And he shouldn’t,” Isac said firmly. “They love Nat, too. And he loves them.” 

Kit growled petulantly at his words, agreeing with everything, yet still struggling with his deep drive to just - protect. It was driving him insane that he couldn’t always do that. So bloody complicated.

“He’s not in danger,” Kit said then, repeating something that Isac knew he heard from Liam a lot.

“No,” Isac agreed. He turned his head to nip at the side of Kit’s palm. “And it’s his choice to go.”

“I still don’t like it.” 

“I know.”

“I feel useless.”

“Kitty,” Isac huffed, head butting the alpha’s hand, before kissing his palm. He could feel the tension in his muscles, and Isac just wanted to make it better. But wasn’t that exactly the issue? There were things they just couldn’t change, no matter how they hoped they could. 

“See? I’m just making it worse,” Kit said then, obvious frustration filling his voice, “I know I’m stressing you out, too. This is the exact opposite of what I’m supposed to be doing!”

“Don’t be an arse,” Isac said, frowning. “It’s not your job to feel my bad emotions, so stop that. Just because you’re you, it doesn’t mean you can’t ever feel down, or need help.”

“But it’s putting a strain on you...” Kit argued quietly, and Isac suspected the alpha knew he was being a bit thick about it. 

“Based on that logic, I should never come to you when I’m feeling anxious, because that will put a strain on you, too. Is that how you’d like it?” Isac asked, and even before he finished the sentence, Kit, very predictably, was already shaking his head.  

“You know you should always talk to me, to us, no matter what it is,” Kit said, hugging Isac closer like he was some sort of living plush toy. “Can’t take care of you if we don’t know what’s up.”

Isac was content in the hold, happily relaxing against the alpha’s chest. He was also content to hit him in the head with his point; “So how is it different the other way around, huh? Am I not allowed to take care of you?”

“Stop making sense,” Kit whined, and then lifted his head from the bed so he could rub his prickly scruff all over Isac’s jaw and neck. Rude. 

“Can’t. It’s my default state,” Isac said, and pulled his hands from under Kit’s shirt to wrap them behind the alpha’s neck. 

“Ugh, I love you,” Kit grumbled, and Isac cheered happily, as if he had never heard that one before. He raked his fingers up Kit’s scalp and dangled them into the dark longer curls on the top of his head. The coiling strands were silky and thick under his touch, Isac loved nothing more than playing with them.  

“I’m such a lucky boy,” Isac teased, easily turning his head so Kit was able to mouth at his neck as he pleased. 

“Hm,” Kit hummed, rubbing his lips over Isac’s scent gland. The alpha tugged on his jumper to reveal more skin, and then pressed his tongue against that sensitive spot. “Say it.”

Isac’s breath stuttered, little sparks popping all over his body at the pressure, tingling, and he squirmed, “Whatever might you mean, alpha?”

Kit growled, playfully. Isac’s hands clenched into fists when the alpha’s teeth gently pressed down around his gland, and then sucked. 

Ah! Unfair!” Isac whined out tightly, back tensed and thighs starting to tremble as the mixture of pleasure and pressure fired from his shoulder right down to in between his legs. “That’s cheating!”

“My game, my rules,” Kit said lowly, when he pulled back to examine the possessive bruise he had created. Such a knothead. Isac was pretty happy about it, though. “Say it.

His brown eyes held that clever feline-like sharpness, when he rested his head down to peer up at Isac. 

Why was his alpha so stupid fit?

“Are you gonna make me?” Isac asked, blinking with exaggerated innocence. He knew how that made his round eyes look and how it affected his pack. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a saint of any sort, and so wasn’t afraid to use such techniques to his advantage. 

“I might,” Kit said. 

He was smiling. It was that stupid fond one too. The one that Isac didn’t appreciate much, because it meant the alpha was thinking Isac was being cute, instead of irresistible. Kit pecked his cheek, and then nudged him so he could move to sit up against the head of the bed, “Come here.” 

Isac followed easily, pushing himself up until he was straddling the alpha, chest to chest. Which was fun, y’know, except Kit just kept looking at him, eyes warm, and so bloody adoring

Isac wanted to bite him. 

He resisted, but only because it felt nice when Kit pushed his hands under his shirt and rubbed his back with broad strokes. It would’ve been unfortunate if he had stopped that now. Isac was possibly, maybe, starting to purr a little bit, but no one had to mention that. 

Kit leaned in and nosed under Isac’s jaw, rumbling happily while he breathed in the concentrated omegan scent there. The following playful kisses came with more tingling touches from Kit’s scruff, and Isac arched his back against the alpha’s palms.

“Fine,” Isac relented, barely containing his bliss, and turned his head in hopes of making it obvious where he wanted that mouth next. The gland Kit had been messing with before was throbbing, and it would feel more than just a little amazing to have that touch back. “Maybe I love you, too.”

“Maybe?” Kit grinned, and then pressed his soft lips against Isac’s, tongue sweeping over his bottom one. 

So unfair.

Isac sighed into the kiss, fingers kneading down from Kit’s hair to his shoulders, his own muscles warming up with the pleased pleasure. 

“M’hm,” Isac answered, and then had to pause because Kit was claiming his mouth again. He was slightly out of breath when he was able to continue, “Just the tiniest bit.”

“Ok. I can live with that,” Kit said, amused, and gently scratched down the whole length of Isac’s back. The best. That was the absolute best. Isac couldn’t stop the shiver it caused, nor the way his eyes slipped shut. Kit sounded pleased with himself, “Are you gonna let me make you feel good?”

As if he already wasn’t. Dumb alpha.

“If you insist,” Isac sighed. It was laced with some played up dramatics, but he wasn’t trying to hide how pleased he really was. And, sure, he was really enjoying himself there, but Isac also knew that when the alphas were feeling helpless, allowing them to dote on him stabilised their instincts. No way he would let his mates feel ‘useless’, like Kit had admitted feeling just a moment ago, if he could help it. It wasn’t true, no matter how insistently their alpha pea-brains sometimes pushed that.        

“I do insist,” Kit said, lowering his mouth back onto Isac’s shoulder, arms hugging him close, “Been so good to me.”

Isac had intended to reply with something appropriately cheeky, but the hot wetness on his scent gland, which quickly turned into hot pressure, was just too good. Isac’s fingers dug into the back of Kit’s neck, breathy whine hissing out through his teeth as his thighs clamped around Kit’s hips.

“Well, isn’t this a nice view to come home to,” Liam’s voice carried from the doorway.

With a parting kiss to Isac’s neck, Kit lifted his head. Liam had apparently entered into the flat without making a peep, and as his scent was so familiar, the shift in the air barely registered. Their home was so infused with all of their scents anyway, that it was almost impossible to spot the difference without concentrating.

Kit sat up straighter on the bed, arms still secure around Isac’s back, and the questioning look in his eyes was filled with intensity. 

“How was it?” Isac asked, so the darker alpha didn’t have to. He nuzzled his cheek against Kit’s after turning to look at Liam as well. 

“Fine,” Liam said with a tired shrug, making his way to the bed. The mattress dipped as he climbed on it and he collapsed onto his side with a heavy sigh. “Nat’s mum wasn’t there, so... We just had lunch before I headed back. It was nothing like that time you’re thinking of.”

That time was a simple code for one very specific visit to Nat’s parents’ place, which hadn’t gone… quite so smoothly. 

‘It wasn’t that bad,’ Nathan still kept insisting whenever it came up. He didn’t say it to dismiss or downplay their experience, but to just... The omega was always so uncomfortable when the topic became relevant, as he still felt like all these things that happened between his parents were somehow his responsibility. It was what he had grown up with, and he didn’t want to think about it. He rather brushed it off as nothing, to avoid it. 

The anxious humiliation and embarrassment that poured from him was truly painful to witness, but it likely wasn’t doing him any good to ignore the reality. Well, Nathan wasn’t ignoring it, not really. He knew it wasn’t an ideal situation, but... Something still made the omega feel like it somehow reflected him, and that notion pushed him to stress over his parents’ actions. He was embarrassed, and he didn’t want to bring his pack into it. Or more likely; he was embarrassed because his pack had had to see that part of his life.

By saying, ‘It wasn’t that bad,’ he meant: ‘Don’t worry about it.'   

The sad part was that it probably hadn’t been ‘that bad’. It had seemed like a comfortable routine, if an explosive parental conflict could ever be called that. However, based on what Nathan had told Isac - what Nathan had told all of them - it was routine. It was the norm. 

As long as both of his parents were in the same space, there would be a fight. It didn’t matter if there wasn’t a reason that made sense, there would be a fight. It didn’t matter if they had an audience, there would be a fight. In the car, picking Nathan up from school? Fight. At the grocery store? Fight. Grandpa’s birthday dinner at a nice restaurant? Fight.

An eight year old Nathan crying for them to stop? 

Fight fight fight.

It hadn’t been pretty, that time, and Isac could just imagine how ugly it could get, and how unpredictable it all was to live with. It really was no wonder that Nathan still spooked so easily. It had all been so… Startling. Loud. Suffocating. Liam had actually had to step in between them, to have them cool down in separate rooms, when it had started to heat up, and… 

Nathan had just offered them more tea when the silence had set, the porcelain pot shaking in his hands.  

Honestly, Isac had felt - naive, after that visit. So helpless, too. Of course he knew that people fought with each other, and had arguments, all the time. Hell, even they, the four of them, fought every now and then. But…

The softest, ‘I’m sorry! Please don’t yell,’ from Nathan, when he had mistaken Kit’s confusion for building anger, in the very beginning of their relationship, had been truly heartbreaking. Even now, years later, he sometimes seemed to instinctually startle and cower, fearfully expecting something that just didn’t exist in the safety of their home. The reactions were so deeply engraved into his mind, that every now and then they just caught him off guard. 

It seemed almost miraculous that the boy had ended up so sweet and gentle as he was. One would’ve thought that growing up in such an environment would automatically birth some more of the same. It probably did, with some people, and the cycle would continue...  

It was hard to imagine living in the midst of hostility and raised voices, day in and day out, when the only experiences Isac himself had were with things like witnessing stupid pub fights, and stuff on the telly. Luckily nothing in Nathan’s past had ever gotten physical. That was good, of course, but invisible wounds were sometimes even harder to heal than the physical, more obvious, ones.

Naive or not, Isac knew he was lucky not to have lived that part of Nathan’s reality.  

“Well. Good,” Kit said then with a heavy sigh, shifting so they were laying down next to Liam. Isac slid to the side from on top of him, comfortably slotting in between both of his alphas instead. 

Liam kissed Isac chastely on the mouth in greeting, and then moved to rub his temple against his. The alpha’s blond hair tickled over Isac’s face, but he didn’t turn away from it, as the scenting motion was clearly easing the tension from Liam’s own scent.  

“He’s still coming back tomorrow?” Kit asked, even though they all knew the answer already. 

“Yes,” Liam confirmed softly, kissing Isac’s forehead. “All good, here?” he continued after a quiet moment, tilting his head up to allow Kit to reach and mess up his hair. 

Liam leaned into the touch with a reassuring smile, and Isac could finally feel himself start to relax properly. Drowsiness was quick to follow. 

He was fine, but he liked to know his boys were fine too. Or, at least as fine as they could be.

“Yeah, all good,” Isac replied, curling up so he was resting on Liam’s chest, legs twisted with Kit’s. He yawned, and then added; “Alpha’s taken such good care of me.”          

“I can tell,” Liam said, tone laced with gentle amusement. 

At first Isac wasn’t sure what he meant, but then Kit laid a barely there kiss onto his tender shoulder.  

“We can still take care of that, if y’want?” Kit hummed against Isac’s neck, contently breathing into the warmth of his skin.  

Isac stretched his legs out, languidly pointing his feet until his muscles trembled. He was half-hard in his trousers, kind of wet too, and the arousal was definitely there. But it wasn’t urgent, it was just a nice buzzing right then. Lazy. Calmer. Isac felt happy to just enjoy it, revel in it, rather than to work it up into something more burning.  

Instead of answering, Isac kissed Liam’s chest under his cheek, and then shook his head with a content sigh. 

With an acknowledging hum Kit crowded even closer, and burrowed deeper into Isac’s neck. The alpha’s tattooed arm reached out to rest over both him and Liam, and when Isac looked down he saw how Kit had twisted his fingers into the fabric of Liam’s hoodie.    

What a sad little pile they made.

Truly pathetic without their completing piece, honestly. It would’ve been funny if there hadn’t been that constant undercurrent of worry the whole time Nathan was away like this. They knew he wasn’t in danger, in the physical sense, but that didn’t make it any less harmful. 

They knew the omega could handle himself just fine, they trusted him. He was the expert, after all, as horrible as that was.

Yeah. As much as they all hated it, there just were some things they couldn’t fix for each other. They could just... Try.

“Thank you, Isac.” 

Kit’s voice rumbled through his chest, vibrating like the best sort of sleeping pill against Isac’s back. 

“For what?” 

“For being here.”