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Wild and Wired

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When Renjun was 16, he presented as an omega. Woke up one morning with slick soaking through his briefs, burning up from the inside out, his throat thick with tears. 

It came as a huge surprise. Renjun had no clue he'd present as an omega, not when all of his peers had already presented back in middle school. He was an only child, and his parents were betas and so were most of his extended family. When he had made it through the first awkward tween years, when his voice had stopped cracking and his body had stopped growing, there were still no signs of a second gender, and his family and friends accepted it with a shrug - another beta. Renjun had been cool with that as well; he’d heard the way kids around him spoke about omegas, and growing into an alpha designation on the other hand seemed like a bit of a handful too, from what he could remember from his classmates’ mood swings. Being a beta though, that sounded chill. Unproblematic.

But then it happened, years after his peers had grown into their designations. One feverish morning, quivering in his mom’s arms and crying out that he was dying while she carded a hand through his sweaty hair, telling him with a smile in her voice “Oh no honey, you’re not dying, you’ve presented.”

His parents didn’t make a big deal out of it. The omega specialist told him he was simply a late bloomer, and his parents seemed to think that was a good thing; now he could settle into his designation with the worst of puberty out of the way. He had a very normal phone call with his grandma where she only passingly mentioned that oh by the way, she heard he was an omega now, who would have thought, and the only alpha among his cousins wrinkled her nose at him at her birthday party. "It's not that surprising," she'd said, in a tone Renjun didn't care for.

Renjun retorted to the interweb; posted anonymously on a forum late at night when he couldn’t sleep, only to wake up to a slew of condescending replies (“oh, so what if you have heats every now and then, big deal. i’m a beta girl and i have painful periods every month, get over yourself!!!”), and his thread having been downvoted into oblivion.

Renjun felt as if his entire world had changed, yet no one seemed to care. Or rather, acted like they had seen it coming. Even though his family had grown accustomed to him being a beta, they all embraced his new designation almost as if he had always been destined to be an omega instead. 

While Renjun on the other hand--

There was no way around it: Renjun hated it.

Hated how odd and sharp everything suddenly smelled, hated now constantly feeling a little hot under the collar. Hated the slick, hated the heat cycle, hated the pills he had to take to muffle his scent and holy shit, he could now get pregnant, how fucked up wasn’t that? It didn’t feel right; he didn’t feel like himself. Huang Renjun the omega - that wasn’t him. 

It frustrated him that everyone accepted it so easily - they didn't say it, but he knew what they were thinking; that he looked like everything everyone would expect in an omega. Slim, narrow shouldered and on the shorter side. But the truth was, he was nothing like the textbook omega, at least not on the inside. He wasn't a pushover, there was nothing delicate or sensitive about him. And alphas? He couldn't care less about them, and would often fight to not roll his eyes whenever a group of omegas in his school cooed over an alpha. So being an omega - nope, not for him, and the only thing that made it all bearable was that no one outside of his family knew. 

After two weeks of staying home - one spent getting through his very first, traumatic but very anticlimactic heat, and a second one spent adjusting to his omega scent blockers - he trudged to school with his narrow shoulders up to his ears, expecting for all eyes to be on him the minute he swung the glass doors open, perhaps even having to wrestle a few alphas on his way to his locker.

But nothing happened.

Well, nothing unusual happened. Everything felt almost weirdly normal - in the matter of two weeks, Renjun’s world had been upended, yet as he made his way into class it felt like nothing had changed.

His friends didn’t react differently, other than rejoicing that he was back, and neither did his classmates. No one sniffed the air around him, no one gave him side eyes. It threw him off, but it did make sense; his pills diluted his scent, and mixed in a school full of students of all different designations, classrooms stuffy with perfume and hair products, he easily blended in. 

He hadn’t planned to keep it hidden, but when the change in his designation went by unnoticed, it was easy to keep silent. His friends treated him the same as always - there were no inquiring questions, so there was nothing for him to explain. It seemed so simple at the time: if they wanted to assume he was a beta, he wasn’t going to get out of his way to stop them.

 



It started feeling more and more like a lie in his senior year.

A big, fat fucking lie.

He promised himself he wouldn’t hide his designation once he went off to college, repeated it like a mantra in his head to fend off the guilt that came from lying. He never actually claimed that he was a beta, tried to not spin the lies further, but would then always force a laugh when someone made a lewd, objectifying joke about an omega, and that, well, felt a lot like a lie. 

He knew he was dishonest. He knew that probably made him a bad friend. He had known Kun and Chenle, both betas, since childhood, and keeping something like this from them felt like, well, betrayal, as they always shared big and personal news between them. And then Sicheng, who had been his first kiss. There had been attempts at something more, a whole lot of fumbling and tumbling before Sicheng realized he might be more into alphas; something that must’ve taken him a bit of courage to tell Renjun, as alphas getting romantically or sexually involved with other alphas was still something many in society frowned upon. But Sicheng had trusted him with that secret, and now Renjun couldn’t even tell him about his designation. And not to mention the rest of his friends, who’d surely be disappointed to find out he’d been keeping something so big from them.

Renjun could feel himself distancing himself from them, not only mentally but also physically, not wanting them to catch his scent if they got too close, and paranoid about anyone analyzing his behavior and figuring him out. 

He avoided it all; hanging out with friends after school, dating and hooking up at parties. Always sat in a corner of their table during lunch, and tried to not get exerted during gym glass, always the last one to hit the showers.

Physically, he knew he fit the stereotype of what an omega was supposed to look like, and while that on its own clashed with the self image he had, it also made him paranoid that everyone were already suspecting something. That they were just waiting for his heat going off too early, slick trickling down his thigh while classmates pointed and stared - that was what his nightmares were made of.

So he took precautions, always acted with care so that no one would find out his little (big, fat fucking) secret. With only one year left of high school, what could really happen?

He’d be surprised.

 

 

 

It happened on a warm day late September; when the trees had started shedding but the sun was still shining brightly throughout the day. The air was fresh and crisp, and this Renjun would remember, because whenever something horrible happens to you, the memory of it sticks with you in vivid detail. The date, the hour, the minute. What you were wearing and how you were feeling.

They had moved very recently, his parents finally thinking it would be wise to downsize to a smaller house since Renjun only had a year left until university. While it was sad to say goodbye to his childhood home, the change of scenery was welcomed; a nice little house in a nice little neighborhood.

Sunday, and Renjun and his parents finally had a chance to unpack what was left from the move.

“We’re heading to the grocery store in five, is there something you want me to pick up?” his mother asked when they were done, as jotting down something on her shopping list. Renjun, ever the neatfreak, collected all the empty moving boxes left behind, thinking of leaving them in the garage for his dad to take care of.

“Not really,” he called over his shoulder, getting the door open and then almost immediately walking right into somebody standing on their porch, boxes toppling to the ground.

“Shit, sorry, ” he grumbled, finding himself face to face with a familiar one. In Renjun's head, there was something like connect the dots happening next; the broad shoulders, brows pulled together in a worried frown over big, black eyes, and a beauty mark.

Jeno. 

A friend of a friend (that friend being Jaemin, who were friends with Donghyuck, who were frenemies with Yukhei, who in turn were friends with Renjun. Who were friends with Chenle, who were friends with Jisung, who were friends with Jeno. Wait what?) and someone Renjun, to put it mildly, wasn’t very fond of. 

When Renjun was in middle school, he was wrestling with Jeno in the front of the classroom when the other boy presented. He was one of the first ones in their year to do so, which was why it turned into a whole debacle - Jeno being the butt of many jokes for many months, and of course, so was Renjun; the kids in their class weren’t quick to forget that he was the student who’d put Jeno in a headlock and made him pop a knot.

“Good, let it teach you a lesson. You’re getting too old to playfight with your classmates,” Renjun’s cousin had said when she heard of it. But Renjun had blamed Jeno, and it was also in that moment he decided that alphas? Disgusting. They were dumb and gross and ugh, cooties.

Now years later, not much had changed. Renjun still didn’t like Jeno, and had a lot of opinions about that very topic - Jeno was nothing but a bad copy of Jaemin; they seemed tied together by the hip, but Jeno was much less suave, and a lot less funny. Because he was an alpha and would flex whenever an omega was near, he was still popular in school, but Renjun found him annoying and made a habit of shutting down any attempts at conversation whenever their friend groups would hang out. Renjun didn't think they'd have anything in common, and didn't see any point in trying to force a friendship. Since they had the same friends, it was impossible to avoid Jeno - the alpha was everywhere, but that didn’t mean Renjun had to be nice to him, which was why Jeno remained something of one of those people he would see around in school, but never talk to.

And now he was standing on Renjun’s porch, very uninvited.

“No, this was my fault, sorry,” Jeno said, and helped Renjun stack the boxes back on top of one another in the matter of a few seconds. When he straightened up, he had stopped frowning and was now giving him a smile Renjun thought was a little too bright. Would he have to remind Jeno that they weren't friends?

"What are you doing on my porch?" he said instead. If he sounded accusing, good.

“Oh. Uh, I live down the street?” Jeno said and jerked his thumb towards the row of houses nearby. “My mom said someone from my school had moved in here so I thought I'd say hi.”

Jeno lifted his hand in a wave as if to illustrate (or maybe he was doing jazz hands, Renjun wasn’t sure) and Renjun gave him his best look of disinterest, hoping it would be enough to scare Jeno off from stopping by like this again. But Jeno's stance was confident, eyes unwavering, despite the blotches of red on his cheeks. Typical alpha behavior.

Renjun was starting to feel less  irritated and more awkward the longer the silence dragged on. Maybe a beat too late he realized Jeno was staring at him because it was his turn to speak.

“Uh. Ok. Well, nice. Now you know it's me,” he said stiffly, pursing his lips. In his head he chanted ‘go away’ repeatedly. It didn’t seem to work. He hated himself for being so bad at social interactions, and then realized, no, he just hated interacting with people he didn’t want to interact with.

Jeno wasn’t smiling anymore, and opened his mouth to say something when Renjun’s mom spoke behind them, her voice echoing in the hallway.

“Say Renjun, I noticed you have almost run out of slick liners, do you want me to buy some more? I know you just had your heat but I figure it’d be smart to… oh, hi there.”

She stopped herself next to Renjun, one hand buried in her purse, car keys dangling from the other. 

Renjun's heart must've done a full stop. Blood started rushing to his face; he looked on as Jeno introduced himself to his mom but didn’t catch a word, frozen in thought while simultaneously wishing for the ground to swallow him whole.

The mention of his name eventually put his mental breakdown on pause. He watched his mom give them a wave as she headed for the car her husband had pulled up to the curb, mouthing an apology to Renjun over Jeno’s shoulder with a cringe, before she ducked into the vehicle.

There was no need for crickets when the sound of the car driving off was hysterical on its own. 

Neither of them spoke; Renjun too mortified, face aflame. He could even feel his eyes burning. He always teared up when he got angry or awfully embarrassed, and couldn’t really do anything but stare up at the sky and pray that Jeno would turn around and bolt home. 

They went to the same school, hell, were friends with some of the same people - not only did Renjun hate for his secret to get out, but the talk of heats and slick, well, he could have gone without a kid from his school knowing about his heat cycle, an alpha no less. That alpha being Jeno. Wow, his life really sucked, didn’t it?

“Well I’m gonna…” Jeno broke the silence at last, and Renjun could see him moving in his peripheral vision. But he didn’t finish his sentence. Got quiet for some time, and the next time he spoke up it was a lot softer. “Hey, it’s cool, ok?”

That made Renjun look at him.

“You’re saying my slick liners are cool?” he deadpanned, mortified but not enough to let himself be pitied. But Jeno laughed at that, amused for some reason.

“It’s normal, it’s no big deal. Literally nothing to be embarrassed about,” as if he could sense Renjun literally dying inside, he chuckled a little and added, “You wanna hear something that’s actually embarrassing? Well one time I popped a knot in front of the whole class.”

That made Renjun bark out a laugh.

“I know, I was literally there,” he said. But hearing Jeno mention it so casually threw him on a bit of a loop, because they hadn’t brought it up in years. What was even more baffling, was that he’d done it in an attempt to comfort Renjun. Shoulder some of the embarrassment. And this time the smile on Jeno’s lips - a little wry, eyes twinkling mischievously like they were swapping secrets - felt genuine.

It had Renjun feeling stumped.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you around. Maybe in school, yeah?” Jeno said. “Welcome to the neighborhood.” And with one last smile he was jogging off, leaving Renjun there with boxes by his feet and head swimming with questions.

 

 

 

Renjun came to his senses later at night when he was kicking at his sheets, unable to fall asleep. Despite being an alpha, and despite being frankly hella annoying, Jeno seemed like a decent guy. He was loud and always surrounded by equally loud friends. Harmless but annoying, and as Renjun tended to ignore annoying things, he hadn’t paid much attention to him in the last few years. He had paid enough attention though to know that Jeno was the type of student who was liked by a lot of the student body, and would never be caught in the library or reading through notes during lunch break, but still somehow maintained good grades. The type who played pranks and lived for breaking rules, but was still the teacher’s pet. Overly ambitious and an overachiever, without even trying, and (this being something he heard other students say all the time): he was really nice. 

It flustered Renjun, like anything did whenever he pretended to not care and then have it rubbed in his face that maybe he did care. But what flustered Renjun even more, or rather sent him into mini panic, was knowing that since they went to the same school, it definitely meant word could get around. Could, and probably would - with Jeno being a social butterfly, Renjun could easily imagine how it could come up in a conversation even if Jeno didn’t mean to bring it up - wait, you guys didn’t know Renjun was an omega? This was high school after all, and high school was a breeding ground for gossip. Even if it wasn't, they had the same friends. Jeno could tell Jaemin, who would tell Donghyuck, who would tell Jisung, who would tell Chenle, and on and on in a vicious circle known as the rumor mill.

Call him over dramatic, but it felt inevitable, and Renjun only had so much time to come up with a good excuse for hiding his designation for so long.

Needless to say, he didn’t get much sleep that night.

 

 

 

He had a great plan.

A great plan that he had spent better part of the night perfecting (or not really, he'd thought about how much he hated Jeno and his stupid face and then went out like a light) and he was ready to put it into motion already the next morning. Monday morning, which meant school, which meant Renjun had to do it before Jeno could leave home and find his little devilish friends.

Renjun liked being in school on time, and always got up early without a fault, no snoozing. This morning he got up even earlier, ate his breakfast and brushed his teeth. He waited on the bottom of his stairs until it looked like both Jeno's parents had driven off, and then crossed the street to Jeno's house. Taking a deep breath, he rang the bell.

Thankfully, it was indeed Jeno who opened the door. Squinting sleepily, black hair sticking out in various places, but already dressed and with a toast in his mouth.

"Renjun?" he said, and then almost stumbled on his own feet as Renjun invaded his space, forcing him to walk backwards into the hallway.

Renjun shut the door behind him, made sure no one was around (he knew Jeno had a sibling, but didn't know how he knew that) and then tried to look as intimidating as he possibly could. It might've been working, because Jeno had gone from sleepily munching on some toast to staring at him with big eyes.

"Have you told anyone that I'm an omega?" he said.

Jeno blinked.

"I. What. No?"

Renjun wasn't sure he could believe him, but he did feel a weight lift from his shoulders.

"Ok, good. No one knows, and I want it to stay that way. So I need you to not tell anyone, ok? Not even Jaemin."

"Why not?"

"Because I say so," Renjun said. "Don't tell anyone. If you do… well, you don't want to know what'll happen then."

Jeno stared at him. That didn't really help Renjun, so he glared some more.

"Well?" he prompted.

"I-- yeah, ok. If you don't want me to, I won't," Jeno said.

Renjun stared at him until he decided that he'd have to take Jeno’s words for it. There wasn't really anything else he could do, unless he started threatening violence. So he nodded, reached up to awkwardly pat Jeno's shoulder (or really his pec, which made it all that more awkward. It was a miscalculation though, nothing else), gave him something that was an attempt at a thumbs up and then headed out.

He heard Jeno following him out though, and turned around to see the boy stuff the rest of the toast into his mouth, shouldering his backpack. 

"Why are you following me?" Renjun said.

"I'm… walking to school?" Jeno said. 

"Oh."

Renjun made sure they walked ten feet apart all the way to school.

 

 

 

Now that Renjun had been reminded of Jeno’s existence, he was once again reminded that the guy was practically everywhere. They didn’t have any classes together - their high school was a big one, tutoring thousands of students - but if Renjun’s eyes seeked him out he was surely there; walking down the hallways, a table away during lunch, or making quite a racket with his noisy friends in the auditorium.

They may have been neighbors now, might have shared an embarrassing interaction, but within the walls of the school they were still practically strangers. Not friends, but associated. It would happen sometimes that Jeno would catch his eye and give him a tiny, friendly smile, but after Renjun never responded in kind, he stopped.

It wasn’t that Renjun was a hostile person, in fact, he prided himself on being quite likeable (he stuck to the same group of friends, but never beefed with anyone) but Renjun hadn't seen any future for a friendship between them before, and now whenever their eyes met, a wave of embarrassment would also wash over him as he recalled his mom's slip up. With his face burning and heart beating out of his chest there wasn’t really any way to force a smile, so if Jeno was disappointed over their budding friendship never blossoming, all Renjun could do was move on with his day.

And move on he did; once it really sunk in that no one would find out he was an omega the anxiety faded and he could relax, and thus, he stopped thinking that much about Jeno, and stopped seeking him out with his eyes.

School kept Renjun occupied. Quizzes, essays, group presentations, and Jeno became one student among others again; the kind of student who Renjun would recognize when they passed by in the hallways but never really speak to. A friend of a friend.

 

 

 

October rolled around, with its gray skies and fallen leaves. Lots of rain, and the gloomy weather affected Renjun too. He took more naps, and misplaced things a lot. He lost his home keys one day, the only pair his parents had given him, and he and Yukhei spent a good 45 minutes running around in school trying to find them. Renjun eventually found them in the locker room, probably having dropped them after phys ed earlier in the day. Relief flooded him - his parents wouldn’t behead him and everything was suddenly great, and perhaps that was why there was an extra bounce to his step, and why he was a little more careless.

It happened in a split second; the door swung open with such force he stepped back just in time for it to miss slamming into his face, at the same time as he breathed in a lungful of worked up alpha. He didn’t even think, didn’t even notice until it was too late; how he instinctively bared his neck.

The action seemed to stop time. The alpha stood frozen in the doorway, the door never swinging shut. Renjun quickly jerked his chin down with a sharp inhale, staring at the alpha in front of him.

And oh, as if all the bad karma he had accumulated so far was finally raining down on him, the alpha was Jeno.

He was staring back at Renjun. Hair tousled, an empty water bottle dangling from his hand, the other hand still holding up the door. The taekwondo uniform he was wearing was either about to come undone, or purposely designed to hang off his frame just so Renjun could track a drop of sweat traveling down the valley of his pecs and disappearing into the folds of fabric. 

His face was a little flushed, maybe from exercise, but also maybe from having an omega submit to him out of nowhere, and Renjun? Renjun’s own face was burning so hot he must have been steaming. There was no way for him to excuse what he had just done, or even begin to explain it. He had acted on instinct, which itself both baffled and embarrassed him; it wasn’t because Jeno had startled him - it wasn’t a sign of weakness or fear. An omega wouldn’t bare their throat to someone they didn’t trust and respect, which was the very reason he now felt, well, incredibly humiliated. 

Jeno continued staring at him in silence. But he had every right to think he was a weirdo, submitting like that to an alpha he was barely friends with. Talk about desperate.

“Uh, sorry, I don’t know why I…” Renjun pinched the bridge of his nose, just barely stopping himself from tearing his own hair out. His eyes darted around in a search for an escape route, or maybe just to avoid eye contact, but then his eyes landed on a mirror instead, and yeah, great, tomato red. 

He could hear Jeno’s throat working to swallow, and Renjun finally dared to meet his eyes. Unlike the last time, Jeno didn’t attempt to make light of the situation; seemingly at a loss for words. 

“Um, I’m gonna…” Renjun pointed past Jeno’s shoulder lamely, desperately wanting to get out of there.

Realizing he was blocking the way, Jeno’s eyebrows inched up, and he suddenly took a quick step to the side, holding the door open for Renjun.

“Ah, yeah, sorry,” he said, voice thick, and Renjun didn’t look him in the eye again as he headed out.

He was shaking as he sent a message to Yukhei telling him he could stop searching for the keys. He was pretty sure he didn’t stop shaking until he got home, and even then, it was impossible to stop thinking about it.

He wanted to scream into a pillow, throw some things around, maybe punch a wall. But instead he dropped in his bed like all the air had escaped him, staring unseeingly into the wall next to him for what felt like an hour.

Rain started bouncing against his window, and for a while, he just lay there listening to it. Pity party.

Once Renjun had gotten over most of the embarrassment, he started wondering why he had submitted to Jeno. Maybe it had been instinct. Trust and respect was vital when it came to an omega submitting to an alpha, and although Renjun neither trusted nor respected Jeno, he did look like the stereotypical alpha. Big, broad and kind. If one went by appearances, trustworthy. He had also smelled like an alpha, and Renjun could admit he had smelled… not bad. Ok. For an alpha, good. Not all alphas smelled good in Renjun’s sensitive nose. Not enough that Renjun could see himself submitting, but enough that he might want to maybe steal his blankets. Or used sweatshirts. And never ever give them back. 

He wanted to tear his hair out again.

He thought about it, about Jeno’s scent. Started thinking about why he thought it’d smelled so good. Why it had been so strong. Thought about if it was because Jeno had exercised, or maybe because he was close to his rut. He did not want to think about Jeno's ruts, but once he started thinking about it, he couldn’t stop. He thought about it through his homework, thought about it through dinner, thought about it when watching Netflix and taking a shower and then when he was trying to sleep, couldn’t make sense of the day’s events or the dumb alpha he’d known since middle school. 

One thing was for sure: this was new. Renjun didn’t care much for alphas. He often found them arrogant and immature, privileged for a fact. And Jeno had never seemed any different; sure of himself, always preening around omegas. His friends were loud, and he often tried to be louder. But Renjun had never witnessed Jeno being a douchey alpha though, and never heard him misspeak about omegas. While he did seem like the proud type, he was also friendly and hardworking, and when Renjun really thought about it, thought about how Jeno hadn’t hesitated to trade an embarrassing tale to ease Renjun’s embarrassment, he realized that Jeno was maybe an alright alpha after all - Renjun did keep hearing how kind and considerate Jeno was.

He couldn’t sort out the thoughts in his head, and when Renjun finally fell asleep that night, it was to the memory of Jeno’s eye smile, his heavy scent, and his heart maybe feeling like it did the Grinch thing where it grew a little in size. 

 

 

 

Jeno didn’t speak to him after Renjun’s locker room blunder, but Renjun did feel like the alpha started at him a little less subtly when they crossed paths in the hallways. It made him antsy. Ever so often he’d feel like he was being watched, and heat would rise to his face, but as long as his big omega secret didn’t get out, he considered himself safe.

And then came Halloween.

Renjun was too introverted to go to parties - a real homebody who preferred binging a good TV series opposed to staying out all night. 

Getting carelessly drunk also seemed like shitty idea when you were trying to cover up part of your identity, so avoiding parties all together was something he had become good at. Ever so often though, it did happen that he gave into his friends whining, which was how a very resigned Renjun showed up at Kim Yeri’s house for Halloween

It felt like half the school was already there, but he found it a relief, knowing the little of his scent people could pick up on would get buried under all perfume and sweaty teens. It also gave him an easier escape from his friends; he loved them and all that, but he knew they would drag him into the dancing bodies and there was no way he was about to grind on his friends, close enough where they could smell how much of an omega he was.

After some unavoidable mingling and selfies, he parted with his friends. There was a line to the bathroom, so he snuck into the kitchen instead, but got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people squeezed into such a tiny space and quickly grabbed a cup of lemonade before he escaped to the patio.

The late October air was refreshingly cool; the silence welcoming. He had only been there for half an hour but already wanted to leave. He took a sip of his lemonade and then tossed it over the railing after realizing it wasn’t lemonade at all but alcohol, and decided he would try to hide out there for half an hour and then leave; his friends probably wouldn’t make much of a fuss as they had already gotten their obligatory group photos for Instagram.

He only lasted ten minutes on the patio, the silky tunic he was wearing not warm enough for the night air. He dreaded walking all the way home, but he looked even less forward to spending more time in this house.

He entered the house again to search for his friends and found Hendery by chance, his Captain Hook wig askew, and let him know about his plans. He listened to Hendery whine and pout over it before he decided to make his exit. He was only a few feet from the hallway; so close to freedom when he caught a whiff of something familiar. Something that had his stomach doing flips and caused him to knock over a sequined jack-o'lantern. 

Renjun hadn’t known how long he’d last before he’d go make a fool of himself again. He felt like a ticking bomb, something that was amplified by how he quickly realized he’d now would search both Jeno’s scent out subconsciously when in school. He felt a bit like a creep, looking the other way with blood surging to his face whenever they crossed paths in school only to sniff him out, or peek out from behind the curtains in his bedroom window, fearing or maybe hoping to catch a sight of Jeno across the street.

Besides receiving a few judgy looks from Ten, nothing else had happened though, because he had kept himself in check. But here he was, staring at the back of Jeno's head and had the perfect opportunity to just walk out of there without being noticed. And he’d bet his ass he stood rooted to the spot, hand hovering over the door handle like some fool. His heart started to race, hands quickly getting clammy as if his body already knew he would make a fool out of himself. 

His unabashed staring caught the eye of one of their friends, and domino effect: Jaemin looked in the same direction, which caused Jeno to turn around and quickly lay eyes on Renjun.

He seriously contemplated swinging the door open and slamming it shut behind him. Run all the way home. Oh, Jeno, you were there? Didn't see you! But before he could indulge in that fantasy Jaemin called out his name excitedly and started striding towards him.

“Let me guess, Santa’s little helper?” was the first thing Jaemin said to him, and Renjun had to take a deep breath to calm himself. 

Jaemin was someone he could maybe consider a friend, but much like Jeno he was annoying and tended to wear down on Renjun's patience. He also had this weird habit of sniffing people, and Renjun sometimes wondered if the sparkle in his eyes meant he had figured Renjun out. Another thing that made him want to avoid Jaemin too was that wherever Jaemin went, there was a chance Jeno would be. Like now, when he snuck up to Jaemin's side, peering at Renjun from over his shoulder.

“What?” Renjun said, trying to focus on Jaemin.

“Your costume?” Jaemin said, eyeing his prosthetic elf ears and green outfit. 

"I'm Peter Pan, dumbass. Why would I have a Christmas costume for Halloween?"

Jaemin laughed in response. Renjun looked at Jeno again, and was startled when their eyes locked. He suddenly felt a little hot. Had his throat been this bare the whole night?

He felt stupid for getting flustered. He bet his face was red right now. It was stupid, this was just Jeno. Jeno, Jaemin's friend. Jeno who he'd seen and talked to many times before. Jeno who was an alpha. Who knew he was an omega and who smelled kinda good. Oh shit.

“My friends made me do it, they went as Wendy and Captain Hook. They thought it’d be funny, or something,” Renjun added quickly, eyes back on Jaemin.

Jaemin hummed in understanding, and Renjun took note of his costume for the first time, but nothing about it stood out to him. He wore a simple tee that said I <3 HENTAI in big print. Renjun didn’t know who Hentai was, but he knew he’d heard about them before.

“What… what are you supposed to be?”

“Oh this? Eh, inside joke. I went as one of my friends,” Jaemin shrugged.

“Oh. Who’s Hentai, a Pokémon?”

Jaemin started laughing at that, loud enough to make Renjun feel like they might attract attention.

“Jeno here’s supposed to be a vampire. Boring, right? He’s no fun,” Jaemin chuckled, but Jeno only smiled at Renjun, eyes turning into half moons.

Renjun scrambled for a reply, but all he could think about was the previous two times he embarrassed himself in front of Jeno - and truth be told, he didn’t even know which one of the times were more embarrassing. 

“I’m gonna… leave. Head home, I mean,” Renjun said, then cringing. He might as well have said I don’t want to talk to you anymore, bye. Maybe he should? It didn’t sound like a bad idea, he liked being straight forward.

“This soon?” Jaemin said. Jeno was quiet. Renjun tried to read him, but his expression gave nothing away. It made him think about how Jeno was like this a lot - quick to smile, but very careful with expressing other emotions.

“Yeah, I’m not really... Big on parties, you know,” Renjun said.

“Oh, that’s cool,” a shrug and a smile. “Wait, do you have a ride?”

Renjun contemplated if lying was necessary - the last thing he wanted was for Jaemin or Jeno to offer to give him a ride and stink up a car with omega pheromones. The pills he took were supposed to not let that happen, but you never knew. Omegas weren’t supposed to present long after puberty either, yet here he was.

“Uh, one of my friends got a ride for us, but I don’t think they want to leave yet. It’s ok though, I’m gonna walk,” he said.

“Walk? That’s like a 30 minute walk,” Jaemin tutted, voice loud even though they both could already be heard over the music playing. “And it’s like, freezing.”

How did Jaemin know where he lived? He wanted to send Jeno a glare for that, but wasn't sure he'd get it.

“Well, 25 if you walk fast. And I’ll get warmer the faster I’ll walk, it’s ok really,” he said. Translation: leave me alone.

“Oh, I know! You can borrow Jeno’s jacket,” Jaemin said and clapped Jeno on the back, before he winked at Renjun and then proceeded to leave Renjun alone with Jeno. Which honestly? Renjun had no idea what the fuck was going on, but he knew he’d have to extract some type of revenge on Jaemin.

“Ah, yeah, you can borrow my jacket.”

He looked up hearing Jeno speak, and found the alpha shrugging out of the blazer he was wearing. He held it out for Renjun to take.

“Here,” he said.

Renjun gaped at him.

This was inappropriate on so many levels. Sure, between friends sharing was second nature, but they weren’t friends. Jeno was an alpha, and he knew Renjun was an omega. Wrapping yourself in the scent of an alpha you weren't on friendly terms with wasn’t something you did on a daily basis,  especially not as an unmated omega.

“My blood runs hot, so I’m fine. You’re short sleeved, take it,” Jeno said, misunderstanding Renjun’s hesitance. 

"I. What. Thank you, but no thanks."

"Why not?" Jeno said a little louder.

Renjun looked around. Although they were alone in the foyer, he didn’t want to bring attention to himself by making a scene over this. Miffed and speechless, Renjun didn’t see any other choice than to take it. Jeno didn’t seem to think it was anything out of the ordinary, smiling at Renjun. It was better to gracefully accept it. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal at all. No one else knew Renjun was an omega.

“Thank you,” he mumbled, taking the blazer from Jeno. When the alpha kept looking at him expectantly he slipped his arms inside the blazer and pulled it on.

It was almost too much. The second the fabric dragged over his bare forearms and settled around his body it was as though he was cocooned in Jeno’s scent. The scent of alpha. The blazer was heavy and warm, and too big for him. The sleeves covered his hands, his fingers peeking out, and his shoulders were not even close to as wide as Jeno’s. It had been the perfect fit on the alpha, but was baggy on Renjun. With trembling fingers he smoothed the blazer out, and forced himself to meet the alphas’ eyes. 

He didn't seem to have noticed Renjun’s inner turmoil. Even had the balls to give him a tiny satisfied smile. Renjun couldn’t make sense of it, why Jeno was being so friendly, even though Renjun shot him down time after time. But maybe that was it. Maybe he just wanted to be his friend. Jeno seemed to have a lot of friends in school, and they were already sharing a lot of friends. And now he and Jeno were neighbors too. Hell, maybe his parents had told him to make friends with the new kid in the neighborhood.

Renjun didn’t know how to feel about it.

This might keep Renjun up at night, and now he had Jeno’s jacket. Now he was wrapped in Jeno’s scent and did Jeno know that? He had to know that, that Renjun would be walking home smelling like him, smelling like an alpha. And that, well, that went beyond friendship.

He startled when Jeno’s hand moved in his direction. The alpha reached up and fixed the collar of Renjun’s shirt where it had been squashed under the blazer; fingers accidentally brushing Renjun’s neck. Warm, warm fingers leaving a tingling, invisible trail over his scent gland.

“Sorry, it bothered me,” Jeno cluckled, oblivious.

Heat crawled up his nape, up to his face, the tips of his ears burning. Jeno’s touch had him shivering. He stared down at the space between their feet, took a shuddering breath which was a bad idea because his nose was flooded with Jeno’s scent, neck tingling from where his skin had brushed against Renjun's. His face burned, stomach clenched and oh. 

With utmost mortification he felt himself get slick.

It wasn’t supposed to happen - he was usually safe, only needing to use slick liners when he was closer to his heat. But he also wasn’t usually talking to alphas he didn’t know while wrapped up in their scent.

He glanced to his side. They were alone in the foyer, people milling about further away and paying them no mind. He shifted, almost visibly cringing at the wet feeling and then dared to peek at the alpha in front of him, strongly wishing for him to remain oblivious.

Jeno had stopped smiling, staring at him now expressionless, ears tinted red. 

Of course he was able to smell it. They were standing close enough, no other alphas or omegas nearby to throw off the scent. 

Well, at least now Renjun knew which moment had been the most embarrassing one: this one right here. It took the fucking cake, and unlike the other two times when his reaction had been to want to tear his hair out, he was paralyzed now.

What could Jeno say to lighten the mood this time? Renjun was so mortified he almost started to laugh. Honestly, there was nothing that could top this. He would never be able to talk to the alpha again, much less look his way, unless the could bleach the memory of this moment from his brain.

“Are you sure, uh,” Jeno said. shifting his weight from one feet to the other, shoving his hands down the pockets of his slacks. For once he was the one to avert his eyes. Renjun was hanging by a thread, but before Jeno could finish the sentence, someone called his name.

Donghyuck and Mark stumbled towards them, nearly doubling over as they tried to retell something “so hilarious, you’re not gonna believe this,” that had happened. Renjun didn’t stay to find out, staring down at his feet as he mumbled a “gotta go” and darted out through the front door and into the cold night.

He was home in 20 minutes, and tore off Jeno’s blazer as though it was on fire, throwing it in the direction of his closet before peeling the rest of his clothes and diving in under his blankets. He stared up at the ceiling for an eternity, heart beating rapidly. Utterly mortified.

He didn’t move until his phone buzzed with a shaky selfie his friends sent. That was when he curled up into a ball and felt his eyes burn with tears.



 

 

Renjun told his parents that he was feeling like he was coming down with something, and then had an excuse to spend the weekend in his room, moping. The whole situation didn’t stress him out as much as it frustrated him; he wasn’t fearing that the Jeno would expose him for being an omega anymore; no, what really frustrated him was that he knew he would have to avoid Jeno until graduation. Avoid him (and by extension his friends) like the plague, unless he wanted to be reminded and mortified whenever he laid eyes upon the alpha.

In fact, it was also for Jeno's sake. Hell, getting wet over the mere presence of an alpha was almost more indecent than an alpha telling you he’d just popped a knot for you. Renjun couldn’t believe how uncomfortable Jeno must have been, and how desperate he must have come off. 

Tl;dr: he'd have to avoid Jeno the rest of his life. Which was a little easier said than done, considering, well, they were practically neighbors.

Renjun always got up early in the mornings on school days, and the following Monday was no exception. He always left for school earlier than Jeno (he was pretty sure the alpha overslept every other day) but this morning, Jeno was waiting for him by their mailbox.

It was drizzling; gentle but cold November rain, and Jeno was standing there holding a transparent umbrella. He looked up when he heard Renjun ambling out on the porch, his black hair ruffled by the wind, bangs combed back. He looked a little sleepy, but relaxed and confident, shoulders pulled back and eyes fixated on Renjun.

Renjun who very much wanted to get struck by lightning and pulverize at the spot.

He wondered what would be more awful: making up a blatant lie that he suddenly felt sick and had to stay home, or walk up to Jeno and hear what he had to say.

Making up a blatant lie would require him to talk to the alpha anyways, so Renjun squared his shoulders and walked up to Jeno, heart beating like a mad drum.

“Morning,” Jeno said, voice rough with sleep but a smile on his lips. “I thought we could walk to school together.”

Renjun blinked. What now? Jeno was holding out the umbrella for him, probably to indicate that he could step under it, but Renjun felt a twinge of annoyance and took it from him. It made more sense for Jeno to carry it since he was taller, but Renjun wasn’t going to let him think he couldn’t even carry an umbrella just because he was an omega. 

Jeno let him take it though, with a smile nonetheless. It made Renjun a little miffed. A lot of alphas had these stupid ideas, that you weren’t alpha enough if you carried an umbrella when it was raining, or that you weren’t alpha enough if you washed your face or used sunscreen.

And then there was Jeno, whose skin glowed like he moisturized and who wasn’t only carrying an umbrella, but was ok with an omega holding it.

“I’m. Uh. Ok,” Renjun stuttered, following Jeno with the umbrella when he started walking. He didn't like that Jeno was suddenly in charge of the situation. He was used to the alpha being the bumbling idiot out of the two of them.

They walked in silence at first, nothing but the rain bouncing off the umbrella keeping the silence from being unbearable. Renjun was very aware of how close Jeno was walking while simultaneously going out of his mind trying to figure out why the hell he was sharing an umbrella with this alpha on the way to school, after he so spectacularly embarrassed himself.

“Did you have a good weekend?” Jeno said. Renjun took a deep breath. He knew he’d have to address this. Taking a deep breath meant he inhaled a big gulp of Jeno air, and that made him lose his focus a little. He hated that the alpha smelled good.

“Not… really. Look-- I’m sorry about, you know, on Friday, I’m usually not… I don’t really know what happened-” he started a sentence he didn’t know how to finish. God damn it. Why was he blabbering? Why even bring this up? Why not pretend like it never happened? Jeno hadn’t brought it up, he’d just asked about the weekend, so why did Renjun, the blundering idiot bring it up? He wanted to toss the umbrella at Jeno and dive head first into a puddle. 

“Oh, that’s… It’s ok, don’t work yourself up over that. You know, I felt kind of bad for not saying anything, I hope it hasn’t bothered you too much,” Jeno said, ever so easygoing about these kind of topics. He laughed softly, a sweet sound Renjun was sure was popular with the omegas, but it only made Renjun feel like he was being pitied. 

“It’s… No, it’s not ok. I’m sorry, really, for making you uncomfortable,” Renjun said. And there, now his face was on fire and he was maybe dying a little, but now he had at least apologized. Maybe he wouldn’t have to avoid Jeno for all eternity after all. Maybe they could put it behind them.

“Uncomfortable? No, that’s… so far from the truth.”

Jeno’s words had Renjun looking at him for the first time since they left the driveway. His cheeks were rosy, hair windswept. He smelled good, but this time it wasn’t enough to distract Renjun. He stared at the alpha, feeling how his own eyes bulged stupidly.

“Ok, ok. Here we go,” Jeno said to himself, smiling sheepishly. “You’re not dating anyone right now, am I right?” Jeno then decided to say out of nowhere, causing Renjun to step in a deep puddle. RIP his sneakers.

“Uh. What? No I’m not. Why are you asking?” he said, defensive.

His heart started beating so fast again that he almost didn’t hear Jeno. Why was his heart beating so fast? Probably in horror of what was to come.

“Ok, good.”

What the fuck. Good? Why was that good? 

Renjun stared at Jeno, but the alpha didn’t look at him, instead staring straight ahead as they walked. If Renjun’s eyes weren’t deceiving him, it looked like Jeno’s face was getting really red, and oh boy did Renjun just know he was about to say something stupid.

“Hey, so what do you think of me?”

And there it was.

“What?” Renjun said.

“You know,” Jeno shrugged. Renjun could tell he was trying to sound casual, but was trying so hard it had the opposite effect.

“No, I don’t know.”

“You… D’you think I’m a good alpha?”

Renjun blinked. What.

“What?”

“Do you think I’m a good-”

“No, I heard you! I’m just. What. I guess? Why are you asking me this?”

“No, I’m just… wondering,” Jeno shoved his hands down the pocket in the front of his hoodie, gave him another shrug. “Do you think I’d be a good alpha?”

Renjun mulled over the question. Wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly. Jeno was already an alpha, why was he speaking in future tense? 

“Literally what do you mean?” Renjun said. 

For some reason, Renjun’s reaction made Jeno face scrunch up in an embarrassed smile.

“I’d like to think so. That… That I’d be a good alpha. For you know, you,” he said.

Renjun’s eyes must’ve bulged out of his skull. What now? Oh wow, this guy. He had quite the confidence. Renjun stared at him, completely stunned into silence. But Jeno didn’t look cocky, didn’t seem like he was bragging. What was going on?

“For me?” Renjun let out a laugh, amused at the bizarre turn this conversation had taken.

“Oh, hell,” Jeno ran a hand through his hair, exhaled noisily. Then stopped walking, causing Renjun to slow down as well. In the middle of a sidewalk, so close to school they could see it.

“Look, I’ve been meaning to ask you: can I court you?” Jeno said.

Renjun let out a loud “Ha!” causing a few pedestrians to look their way. He shrunk into himself, and then stared at Jeno wide eyed.

“Is this a joke? Please tell me this is a joke,” he said.

Jeno didn’t say anything. Pinched his mouth shut and shook his head back and forth, face red.

“Oh my god. No. I’m walking away now. I’m walking away with your umbrella,” Renjun somehow commanded his legs to start moving.

“Wait-- why not?” Jeno hurried after him.

“Why not? Why--” Renjun stopped again, causing Jeno to almost careen into him. “Court me? Why would you want to court me, do you want to mate me?” he spat the words out with as much disbelief as he could possibly muster.

Courting wasn’t really something you did anymore, at least not in their age. Even Renjun’s own parents had dated normally and then later mated. Kids these days didn’t officially court, not unless they were very conservative and/or religious. Courting was too serious, in the age of Tinder no one wanted to commit to that - courting led to mating. It was so different from just dating around to see if you clicked and if you had a future together. Courting meant you were dating with the very firm intention of getting mated. From the very first day an alpha started courting a beta or omega, the eyes were set on mating. 

“Yes.”

Renjun was stunned. He stared at Jeno and Jeno stared back at him. He looked flustered, a little deer caught in headlights, but there was also a certain determination in how he didn’t break the eye contact. Renjun couldn’t put his finger on it, but then he did; Jeno was being serious.

And that only made Renjun even more confused.

“Why… why would you want to mate me? I don’t understand. We don’t even know each other.”

Jeno made a noise in protest. He stepped a little closer, chest puffing out a little.

“What is that supposed to mean? We’ve been friends since middle school. I’ve literally had a crush on you for years,” Jeno said. All of this was news to Renjun. “I’ve tried to get closer to you but you always shoot me down and like, get out of your way to not sit next to me, so I thought you wanted to make it obvious you weren’t interested in me that way. And I mean, I got over it, but then it felt like you were always sneaking glances at me and then you bared your throat for me and I was like wow, maybe he doesn’t actually hate me? And I’d never been able to smell you before, you smell so good, at the Halloween party when you-”

Renjun had to physically stop him from running out of breath by placing a hand in front of Jeno’s mouth. 

“Oh my god,” he hissed and looked around to make sure no one from school had heard them. Jeno grabbed his wrist to bring it away from his mouth. His hand was warm. Renjun quickly shook it off.

“Ugh, I’m sorry. But I can’t stop thinking about you, and I’ve thought about it, how it’s like, it’s always come down to this? Ever since middle school, I always somehow start thinking about you,” Jeno admitted. “I’ve tried to do something about it but nothing has changed, so my friends told me to be straightforward and just say something. So…,” Jeno smiled at him hesitantly, as if saying ta-dah.

Renjun was not convinced. 

This was so out of his expertise, and he wished a typhoon could come and sweep him away. He had no idea Jeno had been feeling like this, always just thought Jeno was being overly friendly. He’d even seen him with girlfriends. Caught him flirting with other omegas. And now he was suddenly saying how he was interested in Renjun, and that meant Renjun would have to turn him down.

But wait a minute.

“You’ve talked to your friends about me?” Renjun said. Suddenly Jaemin’s amused glances made sense. When he thought about it, there had been many instances when their respective group of friends had interacted and Donghyuck or Mark had herded, shuffled and elbowed him in Jeno’s direction (one time Donghyuck literally picked him up and put him down next to Jeno like he was a mannequin, gah!). He always thought it was because they knew he found Jeno annoying, but now it took on a whole different meaning.

“I-- yes? But I promise I haven’t told them you’re an omega,” Jeno said. It earned him a glare, but Renjun did believe him. 

The wind picked up a little, and the umbrella shook in Renjun’s grip. The rain wasn’t falling that hard, but Renjun realized Jeno had been standing in the open air, and stepped a little closer so the umbrella was providing cover for the both of them. But with that things suddenly felt a little too intimate, so he shook the umbrella again.

“Take it,” he said. 

Jeno did, watching him with his round eyes.

“Listen, I can’t-- you’re a nice guy, ok. But I’m not really… looking for anything like that. Honestly, I just kind of want to focus on school right now,” Renjun said.

He almost expected Jeno to argue, to go on about something even more absurd than what he’d already dropped on Renjun this weird morning. But he didn’t. Just nodded, giving Renjun a smile.

“Ok, yeah,” he said. “That’s ok.”

The drizzle had stopped, so Renjun told him they’d probably see each other around and then hurried on ahead, his head spinning.

Chapter Text

Renjun thought about Jeno all the way to school. He was lucky to be paired with Kun during his first class, who could do all the work when Renjun was so out of it. He probably would’ve made it through the whole class spaced out if Kun hadn’t asked him if something was wrong. And maybe it was because his friend looked genuinely worried, or maybe it was because Renjun’s brain had finally shut down, but he ended up blurting out the truth only 20 minutes into class.

“Jeno asked me if he could court me.”

Kun didn’t even look surprised. But he did drop the pen he was holding, and neither of them stopped it from rolling off the table.

“Who did what now?” he said.

“Jeno… asked me. This morning, if he could court me,” Renjun repeated slowly. It sounded like a joke. 

“Wait wait wait,” Kun said loudly, then lowered his voice after receiving a glare from their teacher. “rewind. You’re talking about Jeno, Jaemin’s friend? ”

“Yeah, he’s, uh,” Renjun massaged his temple. “He’s actually kind of my neighbor? Now after the move. Turns out he lives on the same street.”

“He’s. What,” Kun scrunched his eyes up. He looked like he was aging as they spoke. 

“I said he’s my neighbor, we live on the same-”

“Yes! I get it, but what does that have to do with this? I thought you didn’t like him? Never heard you say a good thing about him before and now you’re saying he wants to what, court you?”

Renjun tried to reply, but all that came out was a squeaky sound. He literally didn’t know how to answer that.

“I don’t get it. Have you been dating him in secret or are you telling me his obvious crush on you has evolved into some creepy neighborhood stalking we need to swoop in and save your ass from? I mean, I knew he was obsessed with you, but that obsessed?” Kun’s voice progressively got louder, until Renjun had to sush him so the teacher wouldn’t separate them. 

“No!” he said.

Kun frowned in confusion. Visibly waiting for an explanation. Renjun sighed and bent down to pick up the dropped pen, then slouched on his chair, all air leaving him.

“First of all, I can take care of myself, thank you very much,” he said. “And second of all, he’s not creepy, but it did kind of come out of left field.”

Their other friends did not buy that.

When they headed to the cafeteria for lunch, Renjun grabbed Kun’s shirtsleeve in a tight grip and forced him to promise to not tell anyone else about Jeno. But then Chenle popped up behind them with a “don’t tell us about what?” and before they even had found a table in the cafeteria, their whole friend group knew about it, Yukhei laughing so hard it must’ve grabbed the attention of every student around them. And as usual with Renjun’s friends, they knew how to take their jokes to the next level.

“Too bad you can’t have pups, I would’ve loved to be an uncle,” Sicheng said when they had settled down, probably more as an unfiltered thought rather than teasing, but it threw Yukhei into another laughing fit. Renjun would have smacked him on the back of the head if it wasn’t for Kun blocking his path.

“Don’t get upset Renjun, you can still adopt,” Kun said, which was common for male betas who wanted to start a family with an alpha or beta.

“No. No adopting, no pups. No mating! I told you I turned him down right away, I’m not interested,” Renjun said, face growing hot in anger.

“But Jeno wants pups someday,” Chenle said.

“How do you know that?” Kun said. He let Chenle have his chocolate milk.

“Heard it from Jisung.”

“Jisung tells you everything, huh?”

When they started making jokes on Chenle’s expense instead, Renjun could stuff his face with food in peace. And while listening to his friends complain and crack jokes Renjun found himself relaxing for the first time that day. Like he could finally stop thinking about the alpha who occupied his brain lately, instead filling his head with his friends’ mindless chatter. At least until he let his eyes wander and they landed on a group of boisterous students a few tables away. There was something familiar about some of the faces, and Renjun nearly choked on his spoon when he realized that they looked familiar because they were Jeno and Co.

He quickly looked away, but was drawn back towards the group of people soon enough. His eyes found Jeno’s mop of black hair first, dragging over the broad line of his shoulders, squeezed in between Jisung and Yeri. He was sipping on a straw, listening attentively to someone and then bursting out laughing. But as if he had a Renjun radar, he looked up and their eyes met.

He smiled.

Renjun held his breath, face growing hot, and then Ten decided to be a little shit.

“Oh look, it’s Jeno.” 

“Guys...” Renjun stepped down on the urge to cover his face when all of his friends started waving their arms excitedly to Jeno’s table. It caught their attention, and they all waved like dumbasses at each other across the cafeteria. 

Not Jeno though, eyes fixed on Renjun with a smile. Renjun quickly looked away, and when he sneaked a peek again, the alpha wasn’t looking his way anymore.

“Why don’t we sit with them more often?” Chenle said.

Letting out a frustrated whine, Renjun buried his face in his hands. Sicheng let him have his pudding.

 

 

 

Jeno gave him space. 

As they shared many of the same friends, bumping into each other every now and then was an unavoidable occurrence. They were forced to run in the same circles, which wasn’t something new. They always sort of had, but now Jeno would make sure to keep his distance. Sit a couple of seats away during lunch, or talk to Chenle and Jisung instead of attempting a conversation with Renjun.

But he didn’t seem bitter either, or like he was holding a grudge - as much of an alpha stereotype Jeno was in Renjun’s eyes, he didn’t seem to have any of the alpha’s fragile pride. No, he’d still smile at Renjun whenever they locked eyes, and join in when their friends were laughing at Renjun’s jokes. Almost as though that morning was all a figment of Renjun’s imagination.

Days went by, and Renjun found that if he buried himself in school work and shifts at his part-time job, it was a little easier to not think about Jeno. Because it was hard not to; hard to not mentally dissect every interaction they had shared since middle school, even harder to not question why. There was nothing special with Renjun; and he was a pale imitation of the ideal omega. He might look like one, but Jeno must’ve surely noticed he was far from one?

A couple of weeks after what Renjun had dubbed That Morning in his head had occurred, Renjun had a Sunday shift at the coffee shop he worked part time at, and Chenle and Jisung walked in with Jeno in tow.

“Oh no, the register has suddenly shut down. I’m sorry, I can’t take your order,” Renjun said in deadpan when Chenle had walked up to him. The other two boys were hovering behind him, Jisung fixing the back of Chenle's hair while Jeno looked out of place. Could be because it was hard to not feel like you were constantly third wheeling with Chenle and Jisung. Could also be because well, things were horribly awkward between Renjun and Jeno.

Probably the latter, seeing how Jeno proceeded to give Renjun a horribly awkward smile.

“I didn’t know you worked here,” he said.

Renjun knew Chenle definitely did though. He was smiling sweet and devilishly from where he’d propped his chin in his hands, leaning onto the counter. He’d even managed to pinpoint when the coffee shop was less crowded, so no line was created behind them and they could harass Renjun with their presence uninterrupted.

“We’re gonna catch a movie later,” Chenle said. “But we had nothing to do for now and then we happened to walk by. Jisung suddenly wanted an iced coffee, right?”

Jisung startled, looked confused for a moment before he nodded emphatically. Totally convincing.

Renjun didn’t entirely know what Chenle was up to, but he knew it was to no good. He put a note down mentally to make sure he came up with a tasteful revenge, but for now he looked between the three of them, eyebrows raised.

“Are you gonna actually buy something?” he said. “I have other things to do you know, I don’t just stand around here when there are no new customers.”

That was totally what he did, but they didn’t need to know that. He spared a glance at Jeno again, who looked away when their eyes met. He was more quiet than usual, one of the few remarkable changes: he’d gotten far less annoying. But that had also made things more awkward, at least in Renjun’s eyes. 

He thumbed his earlobe, hoping his ears weren’t turning red. He felt a little dumb standing there in his apron and dress shirt, like a kid trying to dress like an adult. There were splotches of coffee on his sleeves.

“Yes,” Chenle said, straightening up. “Jisung, you wanted an iced coffee, right?” He didn’t give Jisung any time before whipping out his card. Renjun rolled his eyes. “Did you want anything, Jeno?” 

Jeno shook his head, and Renjun typed in the order.

“Hey, don’t you get off work in an hour or so?” Chenle said with a dramatic gasp, as if he’d just realized it. This fucking kid. 

“Uh, yeah,” Renjun said. Wrote down Jisung’s name on a cup, but also doodled stinking poop.

Chenle looked at Jisung then. When Jisung didn’t react he elbowed him gently, but not very subtly, in the ribs. Jisung jerked as if Chenle had stabbed him with a knife and not his arm, and started blinking frantically.

“Oh! Why don’t you come with us to the movies?” he said.

Wow. A+ acting skills.

Renjun looked at Jeno again, curious to know what he thought of Chenle and Jisung’s very transparent scheming, or if he maybe was in on it, but as he did so another voice suddenly called out Jeno’s name. They all turned to see a blonde girl sitting a few tables away with some other girls, waving in their direction with a bright smile.

“Yeeun, hi! Wow, didn’t think I’d see you here,” Jeno lit up, leaving the counter to walk up to their table.

Like clones, Chenle and Jisung turned their heads back to Renjun at the same time, miffed looks on their faces.

“Oh man, there went our masterplan,” Chenle said. Renjun only bothered to give them another eyeroll, and decided to get started on their iced coffee. 

As he worked, he peered out at the floor now and then. Jeno was chatting up the girl, looking very familiar with both the blonde and her friends. Renjun didn’t recognize any of them from school.

When he brought the iced coffee up to the counter, Chenle and Jisung were talking amongst themselves.

“Thank you,” Jisung said when he received his drink, and then pouted at the sharpied poop. Chenle laughed, and then quickly pouted too. Clones.

“Why is Jeno taking so long? Who is that girl anyway. Oh, is she one of his exes?”

Jisung sipped on his iced coffee.

“Yeeun? No, I’m pretty sure she’s an omega. I don’t think any of Jeno’s exes are omegas,” he said. “I’m gonna tell him we’re ready to leave.”

Jisung disappeared, leaving Renjun alone with Chenle (and his iced coffee, which Chenle had immediately plucked from his hands with the excuse that Jisung might drop it). 

“So? The movies? Are you coming or not? I can pay for your ticket,” Chenle said and sipped noisily on the iced coffee.

“How is it that I’m the one with a part time job and yet you’re the one with all the money?” Renjun said, to which Chenle only giggled.

Jisung returned then, bumping shoulders with Chenle.

“He’s gonna meet us at the movies instead, he wants to stay and chat with Yeeun. I think she might come along too,” he said.

Chenle pulled a face, thinking it over before he snapped out of it, and then knocked on the counter with his knuckles. 

“The movies. Coming or not?”

Renjun shook his head. Being a third wheel sucked. Being a fifth wheel? No thanks.

“Fine,” Chenle stuck his tongue out at him, and soon enough he and Jisung left Renjun alone. 

More customers rolled in after that, which made Renjun forget the fact that Jeno was there, but when his shift was almost over he looked up to see Jeno and the blonde girl leave just the two of them, none of her friends in sight.

He scrubbed the counter a little harder.

 

 

 

After his shift, Renjun walked home alone. He always did, didn’t live too far away, yet today he felt more lonely than usual. He blasted music in his headphones but couldn’t keep the intrusive thoughts out; the whole time he kept thinking about Jeno and that girl, which was stupid. He tried to come up with why he cared, but that only made him think even more about it.

He told himself he was only curious if Jeno was moving on from his supposed crush. Curious, because that would be a good thing. Good for Renjun. That would mean he could stop feeling awkward and weird around Jeno. But as he got home, took a shower and then curled up in front of Netflix with some cup noodles, he couldn’t ignore the hollow feeling in his chest.

Maybe it would have been nice to go to see a movie with his friends instead of sitting alone in his room on a Sunday night. He didn’t want to be the third (fifth?) wheel though, so maybe he should have accepted the movie offer before that girl had popped out of nowhere. Would Jeno still have invited her then? Or would he have been happy that Renjun was coming along, and oh God, no. With the way Jisung kept looking at Chenle with honey dripping from his eyes, that would have been like a double date. 

Yet, wasn’t it still like a double date? But for Chenle and Jisung, and Jeno and that omega girl.

He told himself that he shouldn’t care. He hadn’t cared in the past, had seen Jeno date other people before, although, what was it Jisung had said? That Jeno had never dated an omega before. But the point still stood; Renjun had never paid much attention to whether Jeno was single or not, so why did he care now? Why couldn’t Renjun just block it out and focus on his noodles and damn Netflix? Well, things were a little different now. Because now Renjun knew that Jeno wasn’t actually that annoying, and now after paying more attention to him, Renjun had learned that Jeno was a nicer alpha than he first thought. He was also familiar with how Jeno smelled now, and knew for a fact that he was interested in Renjun. Hell, that he didn’t only want to date Renjun, but mate him. Though, did he still want to? After Renjun turned him down so halfheartedly?

His noodles turned soggy soon enough, and Renjun paused Netflix, starting to pace his room. He stopped in front of the window facing the street below, and peered at Jeno’s house in the distance. He knew he wasn’t home, knew that he was at the movies at the moment. With Chenle, Jisung and that omega. And when he came home, maybe he’d bring her along.

Renjun had noticed, from other days spent peeking out his bedroom window that Jeno got home late most days. Maybe he was hanging out with his friends, maybe he had a hobby or played some sport (taekwondo, was it?) or maybe he had a part time job like Renjun. Whatever it was, he seemed like a busy guy.

Renjun always headed straight home after school, tried to avoid making plans with his friends. Spent a lot of his time studying as he aimed for high grades but struggled with keeping up with the other more naturally gifted students and had to work twice as hard. With the little time that was left, he found easy ways to entertain himself; he could spend hours gaming or just pull up Netflix while he was drawing on his iPad. Up until high school he'd been doing ballet, and since he dropped it he hadn't picked up another sport. He’d always been a bit of a homebody. Introverted to some extent, but it had gotten a lot worse since he with much horror had discovered that he was an omega. He’d become a lot more isolated.

He asked himself sometimes what he was doing. Why he didn’t just come clean, but then he always thought of the look of disappointment on his friends faces, disappointed that he hadn’t told them sooner. He thought they would still be accepting, but then he started thinking of the whispers that would spread throughout the school when more people found out. Presenting as late as he had was already a conversation starter to begin with, and now when he’d kept it a secret it would become an even hotter topic. And then the comments he would receive; he knew that physically, he looked like a typical omega, and he also knew omegas were on the receiving end of disgusting remarks.

It was nightmare fuel. He was an introvert after all; he liked to go by unnoticed.

Which is why the situation with Jeno stressed him out so much.

No one had ever paid him much attention before. Ever so often a few omegas would glance at him sweetly, and there had been that thing with Sicheng, although Renjun didn’t count that time since his friend had admitted to only being attracted to alphas, and well, Renjun was no alpha.

No matter how much he wracked his brain he couldn’t figure out why Jeno would be interested in him, much less want to mate him. He could understand if there had been some sort of attraction - Renjun had after all had his share of random crushes before, and maybe Jeno was very alpha in the sense that they saw any unclaimed omega as desirable. But to want to court him, to want to mate him - Renjun couldn’t make sense of it, and that was before getting into how outdated it was. Especially asking for permission so formally; only one step away from asking Renjun’s parents for permission. 

So formal, but also so intense. How was Renjun supposed to know if he wanted to mate Jeno or not? Anyone would want to run in the other direction when faced with such fervor. To be honest, when Renjun actually thought about it, he hadn’t given it much thought. He’d been intimidated, stressed out by the sudden intensity of Jeno’s affection and automatically blurted a no. It had seemed complicated, and Renjun’s best method to deal with complicated things was to make them go away. Saying no had meant that he didn’t have to deal with it.

But then in a perfect world. Where there was no anxiety, and Renjun was more sure of himself, maybe he’d say yes. Jeno was good to his friends, kind to people he didn’t even know. He was a good alpha too, albeit annoying, and Renjun could admit he was a little cute. Smelled good, in a way many alphas didn’t do to Renjun, and that enough was enough proof that they were compatible, if at least biologically, right?

That empty feeling, maybe it was regret.

Renjun felt his eyes burn. From frustration, he told himself. Frustration with himself, for being a coward. It was getting darker out, and he sat in his bedroom until the sun had long gone down, Netflix on but not really paying attention to what he was watching. He was in a trance until he heard a car drive by his house; he scrambled up from his bed and peeked out the window; catching Jeno jumping out of the car, waving goodbye to someone and then jogging up to his own house.

He looked so carefree, steps light, hair bouncing. Probably had a great time at the movies.

Renjun watched Jeno disappear inside, and went over to sit down in his desk chair. With a shaky sigh, he buried his face in his hands. He would go crazy from overthinking everything. It would probably keep him up at night.

And then he looked up, and his eyes landed on the blazer he had borrowed from Jeno after that Halloween party, displayed on a hanger on the inside of his bedroom door.

He had washed it, even ironed it, planning on returning it to Jeno someday in school, but hadn’t worked up the nerve, knowing he’d made Jeno think of Halloween night when he would hand it over. So it’d been hanging there, forgotten, abandoned.

He stared at it for a few minutes. An idea was forming in his head.

“Where are you going?” his mom asked when she caught him putting on his shoes.

“For a walk,” he said. “Need some air.”

“This late? Well, ok. But watch out for cars, it’s dark out.”

He didn’t put on a jacket, braved the cool November air in a threadbare t-shirt and Jeno's blazer folded over his arm.

It wasn’t Jeno who opened the door. His sister, he assumed, who looked at Renjun with wide eyes.

Renjun must’ve looked a little crazy, knocking on a door sleeveless on a cold November night, because Jeno’s sister closed the door a little more, as if she was prepared to slam it shut in case Renjun tried to get past her.

“I’m… I live in the house just up the street,” he says. “I came to return his jacket?”

Renjun’s heart sank when he saw the girl reach out for the jacket, realizing she was most likely going to take it, bid goodbye and then shut the door in his face. But thankfully, that was when Jeno spotted him.

“Renjun?”

He was holding a plate of food, looking like he just stepped out of the kitchen to see who had knocked on the door. He was wearing the same plaid shirt over white tee Renjun saw him wear during the day, but had changed his pants for a pair of sweats. Renjun’s mouth might have dried up at the sight of him.

“I’m, uh,” Renjun held up the blazer as if it would do the talking for him.

“Oh! You must be freezing, come inside,” Jeno said, nudging his sister aside to let Renjun in.

When the door closed behind Renjun, this suddenly felt like a bad idea. Not only had he observed Jeno come home like some creep, he was now invading his personal space by coming here unannounced. Uninvited. Hell, interrupting his meal.

“I… should leave. I just came here to give you this,” he said, but then Jeno surprised him by brushing a hand against his arm, warm against his cold skin.

“But you came all this way.”

It took less than two minutes, but ok.

“I was just grabbing something to eat, I don’t mind some company,” Jeno said.

He jerked his head in the direction of the stairs, and then started climbing them. Renjun glanced at Jeno’s sister, who had been watching their interaction with narrowed eyes.

“You’re smol,” she said.

“... I have no idea what that means?” Renjun said. She only smiled creepily, and Renjun awkwardly fled up the stairs.

Jeno must’ve brought Renjun to his room. The first thing he noticed was the smell. So distinctively Jeno, only more potent. Singular, his territory.

The second thing Renjun noticed and used to distract himself from getting high on the smell (or even worse, get wet) was that Jeno’s room was a lot more spacious than Renjun’s, but also a little more lived in, cluttered. The house in general looked older than Renjun’s, and maybe Jeno’s family had lived there his whole life.

Renjun realized that he could ask Jeno that, but didn’t work up the courage until Jeno had plopped down on the large couch in one corner of the room, legs sprawled and plate balanced on his thigh.

Renjun sat down next to him, careful too leave enough space between them, and laid the blazer out on the armrest on his right.

"Your blazer. Thank you. For um, letting me borrow it," Renjun forced out. It was hard to look at Jeno the same time as he spoke to him. When did this happen? He used to have no problem looking Jeno in the eyes. In fact, he was usually the one to make Jeno twitchy.

"Anytime," Jeno hummed, and Renjun inhaled soundly. Oh boy.

“Have you always lived here?” he said quickly.

Jeno had already started eating. Some kind of casserole, it looked like.

“Mm, since I was six,” he said, and then stared at a piece of chicken speared on his fork. “Did you want some? There’s more in the kitchen.”

Renjun could feel himself flush at that, but quickly berated himself for getting worked up over an alpha offering him food. 

“No thank you,” he said. He was too nervous to eat, and besides, he was still full from dinner.

Jeno turned on the TV. Zapped between channels until he landed on a sitcom, and lowered the volume until you could practically only hear the laugh track.

They watched in silence as Jeno ate. It was very weird. Maybe Jeno was waiting for him to leave. Or more likely, waiting for him to speak, but Renjun was nervous for some reason.

"What's on your mind?" Jeno said once he'd finished his meal and put the plate down.

Faced with an opportunity to actually say what was on his mind, Renjun chickened out, eyes wide as he shook his head. Jeno stared at him in surprise, and then cracked up. The soft sound of his laugh tugged at Renjun’s belly.

“I know you didn’t come here this late just to give me the blazer, when you could’ve just given it to me tomorrow in school,” Jeno said. He was smiling, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Uh, I’m sorry about the coffee shop. Really, I didn’t know you worked there.”

Did Jeno think Renjun was here to chew him out? He definitely wasn't. He wasn't entirely sure why he was here at all. It was just that he had finally actually given Jeno's big, weird confession a proper thought, and maybe not had second thoughts, but certainly felt like he had given Jeno a firm no a little too soon; before he had even considered any form of relationship between them.

He didn't know how to form that into words though. He didn't even know if Jeno was still into him. Only two weeks had passed, but maybe Jeno had grown sick of pursuing him. Maybe he wanted to go for an omega who was a little less complicated.

"Did you had fun at the movies?" Renjun said in the end. The words sounded a lot more bitter than he had intended, and he flushed. He swore he wasn't jealous.

Jeno didn't reply immediately. Maybe trying to read him.

"Yeah… Yeah, it was fun. You should join us next time."

Renjun snorted.

"Yeah, maybe."

"Or not. I understand if you don't want to spend time with me."

He said it with a laugh, but it sounded so self deprecating, as though Jeno believed it to be true. That Renjun actually hated him now, or something. And Renjun never had; he'd thought he was annoying and goofy in the past, but he never once hated him. And when had he ever said that he didn’t like spending time with him? Now hear, he might have quite literally told Jeno to “go away” in the past, but it was all in good humor. Renjun had always gotten the impression that Jeno didn’t take any of Renjun’s harsh words seriously.

Or maybe he had, all along. And maybe he was now finally sick of Renjun’s antics. And wasn’t that just great? Renjun finally daring himself to reconsider only when Jeno had moved on.

“"I… No, that's not… it," Renjun said. “Look, I don’t… hate you or anything.”

“Uh. Ok. That’s… good to hear,” Jeno said.

There was laughter from the TV, but neither of them reacted. Renjun wasn’t even paying attention to the sitcom. He rubbed his socked toes against the carpet. Tugged on a loose string from his jeans. 

He turned his head a little, watched Jeno’s profile. His long lashes, the mole under his eye. Was he not going to say anything? Was he ok with Renjun just making himself at home on his couch, in his room on a Sunday night? Maybe Jeno really was under the impression that they’d been friends since middle school.

And that brought Renjun back to mulling over whether Jeno was still into him or not. If only there was a was a way to check without having to ask him straightforwardly. 

The sitcom switched to commercials, volume spiking. Renjun looked on as Jeno pick up the remote control, lowering the volume, and suddenly realized that there was, in fact, a way to check without asking him straightforwardly. 

Oh wow.

His heart started beating fast, and before he could chicken out, he went for it.

“Hey,” he said. “Do you want to scent mark me?”

There was a loud clatter as Jeno fumbled with the remote control, dropping it to the floor.

“What?” he snapped his eyes to Renjun’s face, and probably seeing that he was serious, he turned red. “”Uh? Here? Now?”

Renjun could feel the corner of his lips twitching, but pinched his mouth shut so he wouldn’t start laughing at Jeno’s reaction. Honestly, alphas were so easy.

“Do you not want to? I just thought you smelled good,” Renjun said with a shrug, feigning an innocent expression. 

“No, I want to!” Jeno hurried to say, shifting around on the couch, giving Renjun his full attention. He did have the sense to look a little embarrassed after realizing how eager he had sounded. “I mean, uh, yeah. I do. If you want to?”

Only a couple of months back, Renjun would have pulled a face at the thought of being scent marked by an alpha. His friends tried to scent mark him ever so often, a common, but innocent habit; brief and casual touches, but Renjun had never really liked it. He used scent blockers for a reason. But now, well, Renjun hadn’t been lying when he said he thought Jeno smelled good. He had already come to terms with that he really liked how Jeno smelled, even if he had written it down to biology. Compatibility. Smelling like Jeno not just on his clothes, but on his skin wasn't too bad of a thought. 

He arched his eyebrows at Jeno, as if daring him to come closer, and it worked.

Jeno swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing. The couch shifted underneath them as he moved, his hand coming to rest on Renjun's knee, the touch warm through the denim of Renjun's jeans. Jeno paused, as if waiting for permission, and Renjun jutted his chin out in challenge, only realizing he simultaneously was baring his throat a little when Jeno's eyes went bigger. 

One hand still on Renjun's knee, Jeno put his other arm around Renjun shoulders, fingers brushing against Renjun’s nape, then down the side of his neck. Goosebumps broke out on his skin when the palms of Jeno’s hands finally dragged against his scent glands. Thumbs brushing against the sensitive skin below Renjun’s jawline, making him shiver even more. And then his wrists, rubbing his scent into Renjun’s skin.

It was a whole lot more intense than Renjun had anticipated - all at once he felt like he suddenly didn't have the upper hand again.

Jeno cupped his nape, fingertips combing through locks of hair, and then down again, teasing on the inside of his collar. All while Renjun stared into his unwavering gaze. 

Jeno had nice eyes, usually reminding Renjun of something cheerful and friendly; like a dog. He'd never seen them so up close before though, and it was an odd feeling, being on the receiving end of such an intense stare. Like Renjun was deserving of that much attention.

Jeno's thumb brushed over his pulse, and oh no.

It was too much; too potent. Toe curling, brain melting. Maybe Jeno could tell Renjun got affected, or maybe he was affected too, because he grew a little braver. Fingers slipping between Renjun's, bringing bringing their palms together. He shifted even closer, and before Renjun could react Jeno's nose brushed against Renjun’s neck, breath fanning hot across his scent gland. And oh boy did Renjun feel stupid for not having seen it coming: he could feel it again: his body starting to pulse from the inside and out, and starting to produce slick.

Of course Jeno didn't miss it. Forehead resting against Renjun’s shoulder, hand tightening on his knee.

This was just great. And by great, Renjun meant that it was humiliating. So utterly humiliating, getting worked up like he just hit puberty.

“I’m sorry. Ugh, I’m really sorry,” he said in a rush, cringing. 

Jeno made a muffled noise of confusion, and raised his head to look up at Renjun. 

“I'm sorry for always making things… awkward,” Renjun muttered.

Jeno’s face cleared up at that, and he smiled a little sheepishly.

“Jeez. Do you really think I mind? That’s like, the biggest turn on,” he said, ran a hand through his own hair and then brushed a thumb against the side of Renjun’s neck, subtly spreading his own scent.

Renjun felt his own face go up in flames. He had no idea what to respond to that without having his words come out a garbled mess.

What the fuck, since when was Jeno this smooth? 

Renjun grabbed him by the hair, and then ruffled it in all directions, causing Jeno to protest and grab him by the wrist in an attempt to stop him.

"Ow ow ow!"

They ended up tugging and shoving at each other much like they had in middle school. Renjun would always come out on top back then, but this time he ended up on the bottom, pinned under Jeno who dropped all of his weight on him. He was heavy, and Renjun was not amused, but the dramatic whine he had been about to let out got caught in his throat when Jeno gave him the goofiest, breathless laugh, and he felt him, hard against his thigh.

Jeno must've noticed that Renjun noticed, because his eyes cleared up and he pulled back a little, probably trying to put space between them. But Renjun didn't let him, grabbing Jeno by the back of the hair and guiding his face to his neck.

"Scent me," he said, tipping his head back, and Jeno let out a suffering groan, but obeyed. Lips seeking out his scent gland.

He kept himself propped up on one hand, probably so he wouldn't entirely crush Renjun, but the other brushed across his neck, over his collarbone. Down his chest and curled around his waist, thumb digging into his hip bone.

"You have the tiniest waist," he breathed against Renjun's cheek.

"Shut up," Renjun huffed.

"You looked so cute today with the apron tied around your little waist. Jesus, you're so tiny."

"Shut up," Renjun said, a little louder. His hand was still buried in Jeno's hair, and the other had found its way around his shoulder. Clinging on tight, and now even tighter, bringing their bodies closer together.

He could feel Jeno's hard-on pressing against him, and his body thrummed in response. He was still getting wet, producing slick but wasn't embarrassed by it now. He wanted Jeno even closer, but the alpha let out another tormented groan and then suddenly sat up, leaving Renjun cold and turned on.

"Wait, wait," he said. "Hold on, wait."

He pushed his hair back, combing through his bangs and closed his eyes for a moment. Evidently trying to gather himself. Renjun sneaked a glance at his crotch when he wasn't looking, at the very obvious tenting going on. Bless boys in sweatpants.

"What's going on," Jeno said.

"What?" Renjun propped himself up on his elbows.

"I thought you weren't interested in me. You're, uh, you're sending me mixed signals here."

Ok, they were having that conversation. Renjun wiggled his legs free from in under Jeno, sitting up on the couch.

"I'm not… I never said I wasn't interested in you. I just wasn't interested in the whole… Look, you just came on a little headstrong.”

This was painful, but he pushed himself to go on.

“With the whole mating thing, it was intense, ok. And… weird. Like, why couldn't you just ask me out or something."

He curled up on the couch. Elbow resting on his knee, fingers spawning his face, trying to cover the blush he could feel was there, burning on his fingertips.

"What, would you've said yes if I did?" Jeno said.

Renjun didn't respond. Jeno made an inquiring sound.

"Wait, you would've? For real?" the couch creaked as Jeno straightened up.

Renjun hid behind his hand, feeling way out of his comfort zone. Getting handsy wasn't a problem, but talking about his feelings on the other hand? Yikes.

Jeno made a soft, sympathetic sound.

“Renjun, look at me. Please?” he said. Renjun flinched when he felt Jeno tug at his wrist, but he did remove his hand from his face and lift his eyes. Looking at Jeno head on.

Jeno looked confused, eyebrows knit. His hand was on Renjun’s wrist, warm on his skin.

"I dunno. Maybe," Renjun said at last. With a shrug, as if he hadn't been overthinking this for the last couple of hours.

Jeno looked at him. Really looked at him. Renjun could feel his eyes trail over his face, but Renjun didn't look away. Tried to not let it show how uncomfortable he was. Jeno's hand on his arm centered him a little.

"I… Ok. That's. Ok," Jeno said.

Jeno hand moved up Renjun's arm, then down again. Staying at his wrist, thumb rubbing against his skin soothingly.

“Um, what,” Renjun said.

"Ah, sorry," Jeno said, sheepishly letting him go. But Renjun followed, snatching his fingers up and squeezing them between his.

Jeno looked at him with his dumb, big eyes. Renjun could almost say he looked a little awed, and for the first time it fully sunk in that this guy actually really liked him. He couldn't for his life figure out why, but was it that bad to indulge him?

"I… I don't want to be courted. That's weird. And outdated," he said, trying to regain some of his usual confidence.

He watched Jeno swallow, then nod.

"And mating? That's like… wow, slow down, we're still in high school."

That made Jeno frown.

"But I do want to date you with the intent of making you my mate," he said, and Renjun groaned in frustration.

"Jeno!"

"What? I want to be transparent with this!" Jeno said, and grabbed Renjun's hand so he couldn't cover the alpha's mouth. "Look, I'm ok with taking it slow. I'm ok with… whatever you're ok with. Whatever you want. I'm happy with it. But I have to be honest with my plans. Because I, you know. I'd still love for you to be my mate some day."

Renjun stared at him, slack jawed. Jeno was being serious. What he was saying was… A little reasonable, at least. Mature, in one way. Definitely way out there, but like he'd put some time into thinking about it. The whole mate aspect still freaked Renjun out a little, but really, even if you were only dating you could be moving towards mating, even if it wasn't so explicitly stated. And Jeno could prove to not be as serious about this as he claimed to be, because really, that was a gamble you took when it came to anyone. These were things you discovered as you got to know new people, if they were trustworthy or not.

Renjun let out a loud, drawn out "ugh" and flopped down on his back, staring up at the ceiling. 

"Fine!" he said as crossily as he possibly could, trying to channel a parent having given in to their pup's whining.

"Huh? What? Really?

Jeno was looking down at him. Big eyed, blushing. The whole boner situation was still going on. He looked goofy, but Renjun be damned did he look cute.

Renjun couldn't help but tease him, and hummed as though he was deep in thought.

"Maybe," he said.

"Renjun!" Jeno punished him for that by flopping down on top of him again, but this time Renjun pushed him off. He ended up lying next to him on his side; a tight fit, but Jeno made it work.

Renjun watched Jeno in silence. He was so close. He took in the relaxed, soft smile on Jeno lips. The red of his cheeks. Jeno's fingers brushed against the side of his face, down his jaw, and down his neck. 

“But really? Are you sure?" he said quietly. "I mean, you can tell me if you change your mind, anytime. You’re allowed to change your mind of course, hell, I mean, you don’t need me to tell you that. But I don’t like sharing. Even if I'm not properly courting you then… then you still can’t be with anyone else. Then you’re promised to me.”

Jeno's fingers had stilled against Renjun’s skin. He was staring at him head on, as if he was trying his best for Renjun to take him seriously. Renjun would have noticed how endearing it was if he hadn't been distracted by Jeno’s words.

“Are you ok with that?” Jeno echoed. He pulled his hand back, and Renjun mournfully let him.

Renjun actually took a moment to think about the question. He knew was attracted to Jeno, and he knew at least biologically, they clicked. Would getting to know him better really hurt? If he didn't like where it was going, he could just put a stop to it. And besides, it wasn’t as though Renjun had a lineup of other people eyeing him with interest at the moment, so being exclusive wouldn’t exactly hurt his chances with other alphas or betas.

Jeno was waiting for his answer. What was the question again? Oh, that they would be exclusive. 

“Ok, sure. Yes, but you too? You, uh,” he tried to answer Jeno question. For some reason, he thought back on the blonde omega. Monogamy wasn't an issue as long as it went both ways.

“Oh, yeah, of course. Sorry, I thought that was clear,” Jeno said.

He smiled at Renjun, eyes turning into crescent moons. They lay in silence for a while, just looking at each other, the TV still playing in the background. Eventually Jeno reached out, his hand finding Renjun's, threading their fingers together. His hands were about the same size as Renjun's, broader, and ran warmer. Renjun could maybe admit he liked it.

Though he wasn’t sure how fond he was of the way Jeno then brought their linked hands up to his lips, pressing a kiss to Renjun’s knuckles. This alpha, Renjun decided, was a flirt.

Well, as long as he only flirted with him, Renjun supposed he could let it slide. 

It was quite comfortable, less tension in the air now and something more comforting. Renjun was almost getting sleepy, but was startled awake when Jeno suddenly let out a comical groan and looped his arms around Renjun’s middle, squeezing him close.

“I think we’re gonna have to get up, my nosey parents will probably come knock on the door soon,” he spoke into Renjun’s hair.

“Oh,” Renjun said, realizing he’d completely forgotten about the time. His poor mom was probably thinking he was lying dead in some ditch now.

“Ugh, crap, I totally forgot about my essay!” Jeno then said, but still made no move to get up. Renjun had to shove a cushion in Jeno’s face for him to release him. 

He fixed his hair in the mirror in Jeno’s room and smoothed out his clothes, hoping his flushed cheeks wouldn’t give away why he would come home smelling so much like an alpha.

“Do you wanna borrow a hoodie? It’s cold out,” Jeno said, standing by his dresser. 

“No, it’s ok, I mean it’s literally just across the street,” he said, but then Jeno grabbed a hoodie from a pile of clothes on his desk chair instead of the dresser and Renjun found his fingers itching to snatch it from him. “Or I mean, ok, fine.”

Maybe a little transparent, because Jeno smiled in amusement. He walked up to Renjun, stopping right in front of him. He helped Renjun pull the hoodie over his head, pull his arms through the sleeves and then brushed his hand through Renjun’s tousled hair.

“I can dress myself, but ok,” Renjun said.

Jeno only grinned, rolling his shoulders back and shoved his hands down the pockets of his sweats.

“I'd follow you to the front door but I’d rather not let my parents catch me like this.”

Renjun blinked at him in confusion, looked him up and down, and then caught the front of Jeno’s sweatpants, still tenting tellingly. He felt his heart jolt, quickly averted his eyes and hoped Jeno didn’t smell that he was getting wetter.

“Um. Good luck with your homework. Essay thing,” he said.

“Ugh, this is literally the worst,” Jeno scrunched his eyes up, mussed up his hair. “We have school early in the morning and I haven’t even gotten started on the essay. How am I going to concentrate with you on my mind?”

“Haha, deal with it,” Renjun said. He was always up for making other people suffer. Especially if one of those people were Jeno.

Jeno swayed closer to him as though he was about to press him up against the bedroom door, so Renjun smacked a hand on his chest, holding him back.

“Go work on your essay, shoo,” he said. Jeno pouted like a reprimanded puppy.

“Can we walk together to school tomorrow?” 

Renjun snorted. 

“I guess,” he said. Somehow Jeno’s hands had found their place on his waist again, and he squeezed Renjun in joy.

“Great. Good night, Renjun,” he said as Renjun opened the door.

“Good night.”

After assuring his mom he was fine and dodging questions about the new hoodie he was wearing he brushed his teeth and got ready for bed. He looked out his window to see the light still on in Jeno’s bedroom window before he drew the curtains, slid out of all of his clothes, leaving only the hoodie on. If he then crawled into bed, surrounded by nothing but alpha and slowly grinded his hips against the mattress until he came, well, no one would ever know.

Afterwards, one shirtsleeve pressed against his nose, he realized that he felt more at ease than he had for months, slowly slipping into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

On the morning that followed after Jeno had scent marked him for the first time, Renjun woke up slick and with a hard-on. He couldn’t remember what he had dreamed about, but he knew it had been about Jeno - sleeping wrapped up in the scent of an alpha didn’t come without its consequences, after all. 

His knee jerk reaction was to be weirded out, though, and he quickly stripped out of the hoodie, then rid his bed of the soiled sheets and took care of the rest in the shower.

The shower had cleared his head a little, but also made him more antsy. It was unsettling for some reason to not have the alpha’s scent near him, and he fought against the urge to rub the hoodie all over himself. That in turn made him irritated; because since when did he start fawning over Jeno’s scent? Not too long ago, his existence alone would alone make him turn his nose up in disgust. He cursed his own biology, and the dumb alpha across the street.

He finished breakfast in a rush and almost choked on his toothbrush when he looked out his window to see Jeno on the other side of the street.  Renjun felt so out of his depth as he headed out to meet him. The thing was, he’d never dated anyone before. Much less been on the receiving end of someone’s affection, and he wasn’t quite sure how to react when Jeno smiled at him like he’d hung the moon. A voice in the back of his head was telling him to do something of the equivalent of pulling somebody’s pigtails, but he ignored it.

“You’re not wearing the hoodie,” Jeno said before they could exchange greetings. Renjun blinked dumbly. Uh. Was his face turning red?

“No, I… I slept in it, so.” A little bit more than just that, but judging from the look in Jeno’s eyes, maybe he could read between the lines. Renjun felt like opening his mouth might have been a mistake.

“I’m just joking with you, I didn’t expect you to wear it to school. Though I’ll have to admit, it bothers me a little that you don’t smell like me anymore.”

Jeno said it jokingly, and reached up and squeezed Renjun’s exposed nape. Renjun’s hands tightened on his backpack straps, and he fought back a shudder at the unexpected skinship. Jeno quickly retrieved his hand.

“Uh, sorry, I should have asked,” he said, but Renjun didn’t want him to feel guilty over something like that.

“No, that’s… you don’t need to ask. You can scent mark me if you want. You know, whenever,” Renjun couldn’t believe he’d just said that. He started walking, both wanting to remove himself from the conversation but also relieved when he heard Jeno’s steps following him down the street.

“You’re giving me blanket permission?” he said when he caught up with Renjun. 

Wasn’t that what he just said? Renjun sent Jeno a glare. He was definitely starting to feel like Jeno wanted to be annoying.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Jeno chuckled. His hair was tousled from the wind, eyes sleepy but amused, cheeks red from the cold - he looked happy, and Renjun’s knees went a little weak at that realization. “Consent is cool,” he said.

“Well you’re not,” Renjun grumbled, which wasn’t entirely true, but he wasn’t going to let Jeno know he thought so.

Jeno only laughed, the sound warming Renjun from inside out. Which, what the hell.

“Well, that’s a good thing isn’t it? Makes sense that I can’t be cool when I’m already hot,” Jeno said and sent Renjun a wink. It was so obnoxious and cheesy, but of course Renjun could feel his face grow hotter. He covered it up by fake gagging.

Jeno started pestering him about holding hands then, which Renjun found both juvenile and unnecessary, but the weather was cool on this day, enough to warrant gloves, so when Jeno snuck his fingers between Renjun’s, palm of his hand warm against Renjun’s own, it didn’t feel too bad.

They were pulled in a comfortable silence the rest of the way, Jeno occasionally pointing out something in their surroundings. Maybe Renjun could see why Jeno had walked around thinking they were friends; there was not really a need for forced small talk between them, and neither did Renjun feel like he had to get to know Jeno better - he already knew him.

When they neared the school grounds, Renjun slipped his hand free from Jeno's though. It didn't go by unnoticed, and he had to dodge several new attempts from Jeno to grab his hand.

"Jeno," he said warningly.

"Is it our friends? You don’t want them to see us?"

Renjun huffed.

"Can we just… wait a little? I don't see the rush. They will find out sooner or later anyway," he said.

Jeno didn't seem convinced, but nodded nonetheless. Renjun bumped against him, in a feeble attempt to lighten the mood. It worked, but only because Jeno accidentally bumped back with too much force, causing Renjun to stumble and then chase after him the rest of the way.

 

 

 

The first thing Chenle did when he saw Renjun in school was to invade his space and sniff obnoxiously.

"Why do you smell so much like Jeno?" he said. Poof, and Renjun went red.

"What do you mean? No I don't." He showered!

"Yes you do! Oh my god, I have to text Jisung and tell him our match making worked," Chenle squealed and whipped out his phone, which Renjun immediately tried to snatch.

"Oh no you don't!" he said. "Look, I don't want you to spread this around. I really don't want to make a big deal out of this."

Chenle clicked his tongue disapprovingly, then sulked, arms crossed. What a big baby.

“Why? You know his friends are gonna find out anyway?”

“Chenle.”

“Fine. Whatever. Remember though that it's all thanks to me and Jisung. Well, mostly me," he sniffed proudly, eyes sparkly. "You should name your first pup after me. Oh, I'm gonna be a great uncle! I love pups."

Renjun pulled a face. He knew it was a joke, but when his body had changed and he presented as an omega, one of the things that had freaked Renjun out the most was that he now could be bred and have pups. Of course, Chenle didn't know that Renjun was an omega, so he didn't blame the boy, but he also couldn’t laugh about it the way he might have laughed off any other lame joke.

“Do I really smell that much like Jeno?” Renjun said as he watched Chenle dig through his locker. He’d said he had to look for his AirPods, but already had a pair plugged in his ears. Renjun couldn’t be bothered to figure that one out.

“Mm, no, just don’t make anyone scent you and they won’t notice, I think,” he said.

Renjun made him swear not to tell anyone - not even Jisung - and Chenle complied, but not without whining about how Jeno’s friends would find out even if he kept his mouth glued shut - "you'll see".

And he was right; when lunch rolled around, their table was sure enough invaded by the three dumb dumbs (aka Jaemin, Donghyuck and Mark), followed by a reluctant Jeno and fidgeting Jisung. Donghyuck plopped down next to Renjun, and then scooched to the side.

“Don't you have anywhere to sit Jeno? Oh look, there is an open seat here between me and Renjun,” he snickered, eyes twinkling as he met Renjun’s death glare head on. Jeno hesitated, but there hadn’t been a lot of seats open to begin with, and so he had no choice but to squeeze down in between them.

Donghyuck kept staring at the two of them in great amusement, and so did Jaemin, Mark, and even Chenle, the little traitor.

“What’s wrong Renjun? Aren’t you going to eat your lunch?” Jaemin said.

“Are you not hungry? Ah, you’re going to make Jeno worry,” Donghyuck said, looking sympathetic, and Mark laughed in surprise like he couldn’t believe his friends were so funny.

Jisung was shoving food into his mouth, very pointedly not looking in Renjun’s direction, and ugh, of course they all knew. Jeno was turning red next to him, but while Renjun’s own friends raised their brows at them, they didn’t say anything. Thankfully, this wasn’t entirely out of the ordinary. Jeno’s friends would usually joke around in a similar fashion, but Renjun had always believed it to be because they had known that Renjun found Jeno annoying. 

Renjun did what usually worked best: just ate his food and ignored them. They grew bored soon enough, launching into conversations with the others around the table, and Renjun at last found a little space, his friends talking over his head as he finished his lunch in peace.

"Are you ok?" Jeno asked him quietly. The alpha’s thigh rested against his, and Renjun peered up to see him watching him with soft eyes. He was so close Renjun could count his eyelashes. 

Renjun hummed, drinking the rest of his water. 

"The real question is are you ok? I was wondering if you’d survive the day without me," he said. Jeno laughed.

"I managed," he said. "But only because I thought about you all morning. And trough every class."

"Oh, shut up."

"It's true! I thought about you the whole time. I kept hearing your voice in my head, and your laugh. I… I thought about you smelling like me again. I thought about things I probably shouldn’t have been thinking about in the middle of class."

Renjun almost choked on his juice.

"I’ll pour juice in your lap," Renjun warned, face growing hot. Jeno's voice was quiet, to the point where Renjun might not have heard him unless he was sitting so close, but it was still mortifying to listen to. Feelings? Affection? Renjun had no idea how to deal with that, always started malfunctioning like a robot.

And then there was Jeno, who seemed to wear his heart on his sleeve. He had literally said he wanted to mate Renjun, what the fuck. Why was Renjun letting this happen again?

"What are you guys talking about?"

Hyuck's voice pulled him back to reality, and Renjun stared at him, feeling caught in headlights.

"Nothing," he lied and flickered some food on him, and then took joy in watching Donghyuck splutter.

 

 

 

When Jeno presented as an alpha, everyone had been a little surprised. 

Although Renjun later tried to repress everything tied to that memory, it was a day he could never forget, because duh. Traumatizing. He’d been messing around with his friends in the middle of art class - whenever the teacher would turn her back to them they’d be at it, flicking paint at each other, and Renjun hadn’t meant to join in, not really, because he liked art class. But like always, it didn’t take long before he had ended up in a scuffle with someone; this time that someone being Jeno. Unlike many other times though, Jeno had managed to pin Renjun to the floor, hand clamped around the back of Renjun’s neck, and he’d never quite forget that feeling: like someone pressed a button, his whole body suddenly went lax. It startled him, and he hadn’t found his breath until he’d flipped them over ready to put Jeno in a headlock. The rest was history; their teacher scrambling to separate them, the classroom reeking of alpha long after Jeno had been escorted out, and students laughing over Renjun’s head for over a week.

The thing was, there was nothing middle schoolers liked to gossip about more than designations. Who’d be an omega and who’d be an alpha, who’d present first and who’d present last, but Renjun though - Renjun never paid much attention to such speculations. But he had to admit that even he was surprised when Jeno, soft spoken and a real pushover, was one of the first in their year to present, and as an alpha nonetheless. Some students had even said they’d bet on Jeno being an omega, and although Renjun hadn’t been able to care any less at the time, he’d agreed.

And then they’d entered high school, and Jeno had transformed into a whole alpha.

He grew taller, voice suddenly deeper than Renjun ever could recall it being, and over the years he bulked up. Together with Jaemin, who also was an alpha, they were a popular duo among omegas and betas alike, always invited to parties, and never single for too long.

Renjun wasn’t blind nor deaf. He could notice how eyes would linger on Jeno, and hear girls giggle about him. One time, he even overheard a group of omegas discussing who they thought had the biggest knot in school, and almost walked into a door when he heard Jeno’s name come up.

Maybe that was what scared Renjun a little too; if he was more open about dating Jeno, the news would surely reach other students, and although he often told himself he couldn’t care less what others thought of him, it didn’t feel that good to imagine what they’d think of him, because one thing was for sure: they’d say he didn’t match Jeno.

And right now, Renjun had to admit it was a small relief that no one knew.

Maybe he felt a little bad for wanting to be secretive. And now in hindsight, maybe he also felt a little bad for not noticing Jeno had feelings for him sooner, if not very dumb, but he was ready to make amends. 

But then one week passed, and nothing happened. 

It could be summarized like this: Jeno claimed he was a homebody, but Renjun had never met a homebody who led such a busy life. 

Every day following that one Sunday night they’d spent scenting and cuddling, Jeno always seemed to have something on his schedule; if it wasn’t taekwondo practice, he was going to the gym or giving out guitar lessons, and on top of that he was also very studious, making sure he got all of his school work done on time. Unlike Renjun he also spent a lot of time with his friends in his free time, despite seeing them every day in school. 

Renjun didn't know if this was how it was supposed to be, because he had never dated anyone before. He could swear Jeno had been a relationship type of guy though. He’d never paid much attention to Jeno’s love life before (he totally hadn’t!) but could remember instances where Jaemin would suddenly lose his sidekick for several weeks in a row, always followed by a shrug and the explanation that Jeno had a new girlfriend. 

Whether Jeno was aware of it or not, he seemed like the type to neglect his friends a little in order to spend time with whoever he was dating at the moment. This didn’t seem to be the case with Renjun however.

But he swore he wasn't jealous. Definitely didn't feel neglected.

They only had time to see each other before school, and when the weekend came up, Jeno apparently already had plans. Was dating supposed to be like this? Some lame hand holding, minimal scent marking and conversations cut short because they had to part ways.

Over a week like this, and that Sunday night they had spent on Jeno's couch started feeling more and more like somebody else's memory as the days passed. 

He definitely didn't feel neglected though. And definitely didn't start feeling insecure again. Nope. Absolutely didn't start doubting if Jeno really was so crazy about him like he had claimed to be.

"Don't get mad," Chenle warned him one day, which was enough to get him mad. "But have you ever thought about how maybe… you don't send out the right signals either?"

"What do you mean?" Renjun said defensively.

In the last week or so, Chenle had become something of his confidant. He was the only one out of Renjun friends who knew about the thing between him and Jeno, and thus, the only one he could openly complain to. It also helped that he were good friends with Jisung - instead of being straightforward and ask Jeno about something, he could be a coward and tell Chenle to have Jisung ask for him. Yeah, things were going great.

"Well. You barely look at him when we see the others in school. And you say you walk together to school in the morning, but make sure no one from school see you together," Chenle said, pointing his straw at Renjun.

Jeno had made a habit of holding Renjun’s hand, and Renjun would always shake it off before they reached school grounds. He quickly noticed Jeno was very affectionate; how he'd always be quick to link hands with Renjun first thing in the morning, and would scent mark him if no one was around and opportunity arose. So far it had mostly been the quick, subtle kind of scent marking. There simply wasn't much space for scent marking when the only time they were alone with one another was on the short way to school in the morning.

Renjun felt a little bad for denying him more affection, but he didn’t want their friends to find out, and definitely not other students. 

“Wow. How dare you even suggest that,” Renjun said. He’d really been trying here. Or well, at least a little.

“I’m serious,” Chenle said. It actually did make Renjun stop and think, because Chenle being serious? Something was definitely not right.

It was a Thursday afternoon, and Renjun was about to start a late shift at the coffee shop he worked at (which sucked, because that meant he would be home by 10, and he had school early ass in the morning). He usually only worked every other weekend, but would always jump in when they were understaffed if he could. He wasn't particularly fond of this job, but his parents had forced him to get one, and it did stop him from spending all of his free time cooped up in his bedroom. And thankfully, he had people like Chenle to keep him company when time was moving slowly, although he wasn't so sure that was such a good thing as of late.

"You're saying he's the one who feels neglected?" Renjun said.

Chenle shrugged. 

"Maybe. After all, you're kind of pretending he doesn't exist."

"No I'm not," Renjun scoffed. "I just don't want the whole school to know we're dating. Which, I'm not even sure we are?"

"Wow. You said you wanted to take it slow and not complicate it and here you are, being the one who makes things more complicated than they have to be," Chenle snickered. He blew air through the straw and in Renjun's face (gross) but stopped when Renjun threatened to snatch his beret.

"Don't you have somewhere else to be? Maybe a Jisung to babysit?" Renjun said. 

"Rude," Chenle said, but didn't sound particularly offended. "We're actually meeting up in like 30 minutes."

"Didn't you have a math quiz to cram for?"

"Wow look at the time, I suddenly have to go," Chenle hopped down from the barstool, slipped his jacket on and adjusted his beret. It was nearing the end of November now, getting progressively more cold outside. "See you tomorrow, yeah? And try to close the gap between you and your alpha." He clicked his tongue at Renjun.

"Ugh, don't call him my alpha," Renjun shuddered. "Also? Easier said than done."

"It’s not that hard. I dunno, text him that you miss him or something. And add like ten heart emojis, but make them different. Bye!" 

Renjun could do that, because he did have Jeno’s number. He was pretty sure they had been friends on Facebook since middle school, but they hadn’t exchanged numbers until a few days ago. Jeno had made attempts at texting Renjun, who had only given him short replies back, or left him on read, and ok, maybe Chenle had a point. But to be fair, Renjun had finally accepted Jeno’s request to follow him on Instagram. That counted for something, right? 

But then he had also ignored that request for literal years (ever since he first downloaded the app). And on top of that, he had yet to follow Jeno back, but he had told Jeno he wasn’t much for social media and had thought the alpha understood. Yet, what if he hadn’t? What if Chenle was right after all? 

It was a little hard to concentrate at work. He made the wrong order twice and kept dropping things around him; the minute Renjun went on a break he whipped his phone out. Like expected, he hadn’t received any new messages from Jeno, but he ignored that and opened Jeno’s profile on Instagram, biting down on his thumb before he pressed the ‘follow back’ button.

Nothing happened at first, which huh. A little anticlimactic. He then realized Jeno probably had to accept his request, and then almost dropped his phone when he refreshed the page and suddenly could see all of Jeno’s photos. Renjun’s first instinct was to close down the app, but then curiosity won over, and he started scrolling through Jeno’s feed. It was pretty basic; some photos of his cats, food, some concert he’d gone to. A clip of Jeno playing the guitar, and other than that, lots of selfies with his friends. There were familiar faces; Jaemin, Donghyuck. Mark and Jisung, Ten and some of the girls Renjun knew Jeno was friends with, like Yeri and Joy. His latest post though was selfie of himself with one of his cats, and Renjun snorted out loud when he saw it.

“What are you smiling at?” Yangyang, a coworker, poked fun at him and Renjun startled, hiding the phone against his chest.

“I’m not smiling,” he said, although he had no idea what kind of face he had been making.

He gave Yangyang a long suspicious look before he dared to get back to Instagram. The post was still pulled up on his phone, and his eyes landed on the comments. There was one from Jaemin making a pun out of the cat’s name, and below that, it looked like a girl had commented “how cute!” with a bunch of cats and pink heart emojis. Renjun clicked on her username, and was taken to a profile he recognized. He blinked. It was that one girl Jeno had bumped into a couple of weeks ago. Yeeun, was it?

He exited out of Instagram, and shoved the phone down the front pocket of his apron. This was stupid. They had literally discussed being exclusive, Renjun had no reason to make up stuff to be jealous about. Except that discussion had been almost two weeks ago, two weeks of one sided conversations on the way to school (Renjun had let Jeno do most of the talking) and very limited hand holding. Two weeks, and Jeno’s Facebook profile still said he was single, and cute girls and boys could leave heart eyes emojis on his Instagram, believing that to be the truth.

Renjun cringed. Could he make up his mind - did he want everyone to know about them or not? He was indecisive about most things, but this was taking it a little too far. Jeno’s feelings were real after all, and it wouldn’t be fair to string him along.

He stared at the clock on the wall. Thought about what Chenle had said, and then picked up his phone again. He typed up a “hi, wyd,” and sent it to Jeno before he could change his mind.

The reply came before he could even put his phone down. He was on his way to taekwondo practice apparently. A smiling blushy emoji, followed by a “why?”.

Renjun bit on the inside of his cheek. He could lie. Or he could dodge the question, tell him he had to go back to work and wish Jeno good night. But he convinced himself to go with the truth for once.

“Nothing, I was just thinking about you,” he typed, hit send. He had to cringe again, because wow that was lame, and quickly added “I’m at work rn, I have the closing shift :/ on a break now but have to get back soon”.

He stared at the messages after they were sent. That was the lengthiest message he had ever sent Jeno, which was maybe very telling on its own. Three little dots appeared, indicating Jeno was typing. They then disappeared, and Renjun stared wide eyed down at his phone, breathing out a sigh of relief when they reappeared.

“When does your shift end?”

Oh. He counted the hours, and quickly replied. He’d have to get back to work soon. He did a double take on the time, and then froze up when he received a new message.

“Want me to come by after practice?”

What?

Jeno had also sent a smiling emoji, one that Renjun always thought was reserved for sarcastic use. Did that mean he wasn’t supposed to take Jeno’s message seriously? Man, texting was hard.

He glanced at the watch, then at the staff door. Back to his phone. He had to reply something quickly and get back to work.

He wanted to tell Jeno no. That’d he was busy with work, that Jeno shouldn’t trouble himself with coming all the way to the coffee shop, especially after exercise. But he was trying to not send out the wrong signals here, he really was. So he typed back a “sure” and pocketed his phone, not waiting for Jeno’s reply this time.

 

 

 

He didn’t know when Jeno had entered the coffee shop, had been taking care of dirty dishes in the back, and when he joined his coworker to take orders he looked up to see the alpha sitting by one of the tables, dressed in a baggy hoodie, duffle bag on the floor between his feet.

He was staring down at his phone, but as though he could sense Renjun watching him looked up, and smiled sweetly at him. It made Renjun’s heart beat a little funny, and a big part of him wanted to walk over there and mess up Jeno perfectly tousled hair hair and tell him he was a big dumb. But he currently had customers waiting for him to take their orders, so he had to suffice with just giving Jeno a little wave.

Renjun couldn’t shake the funny feeling. He simply couldn't get used to the idea of Jeno waiting for him. He’d seen Jeno wait for his friends in the past, even girlfriends, and it was funny to think how he’d never imagined a day would come when Jeno would be waiting for… well, him. He didn’t think he was someone worth waiting for.

Eventually, the last few customers had been served, and they could start locking up. Jungwoo, another one of his coworkers and the unfortunate soul who had the closing shift would be making the last preparations for the next day, but Renjun helped him clean the tables and make sure any loitering customers left. It also gave him the perfect window to talk to Jeno.

The boy stood up when Renjun approached him, giving him a sunny smile in greeting. Renjun was a little caught off guard by his strong scent, and had to focus so his thoughts wouldn't wander places they shouldn't. He never quite got used to his scent, which was weird, because Jeno had presented during middle school, and Renjun had been able to smell him for many years. He'd never found Jeno's scent to make his nose wrinkle in the same way it did in response to other alphas' scents, but it was only since a few months back that it had started flustering him. It was like once he’d noticed it, he couldn’t un-notice it. Almost like a switch one day had been turned on, and couldn't be turned back off.

"Hi, I'm sorry you had to wait," Renjun said when he'd walked up to Jeno. 

"Not at all," Jeno said. He kept smiling like a goof, and Renjun cursed how his face started growing hot. He tried really hard to not think about how he'd texted Jeno that he'd been thinking of him.

"I'm almost done here, and then I just need to get changed. Meet you outside?" he said instead.

Jungwoo had joined Renjun out on the floor though, maybe checking if he had a problem with a customer who wouldn't leave, and must've overheard them, because he smiled at them and waved dismissively.

"It's ok. Your friend shouldn't have to wait out in the cold," he said, and then went back to sweeping the floor. Renjun was a little startled; hadn't expected the plans he'd made in his head to change so suddenly, but Jeno looked happy so he guessed it was best to roll with it.

"I'm just gonna leave this and get changed, I'll be back in five, ok?" Renjun gestured to the stack of dirty dishes in his arms and then fled to the kitchen. He still couldn't shake the nerves, which was stupid. Why was he nervous?

He was only in the middle of loading the dishwasher when Jeno shuffled into the room, smiling sheepishly at him.

"Oh, you're not allowed back here, staff only…" Renjun said awkwardly.

"Ah, sorry, your coworker said it was ok," Jeno said. "I can leave though if you--"

"No, it's ok," Renjun wiped his wet hands on his apron. "You can stay."

"Oh. Can I help you with anything?" Jeno looked around the cramped kitchen.

Renjun dismissed him, and made a quick work of cleaning up in the kitchen. When he was done he popped his head out and bid goodnight to Jungwoo, clocked out and then headed towards the staff locker room. He glanced over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow at Jeno to get him to follow him, which worked.

"Are we leaving out the back?"

"Yeah. I just gotta get changed first."

"Oh."

Jeno looked ever as awkward inside the cramped locker room, hovering by the door with his hands shoved inside the pockets of his hoodie.

"Sit," Renjun told him, pointing at the only bench in the room, and he obeyed. Huh.

Renjun was only going to change into another shirt, but when he turned his back to Jeno and started untying his apron and unbuttoning his shirt the air in the room suddenly felt inappropriately tense, and he forced himself to quickly come up with something to talk about to break the silence.

"Did you get here straight from practice?" 

"Huh? Yeah," Jeno said, followed by a quiet laugh. "I thought I’d shower at home, sorry if I stink."

Renjun wondered if Jeno really was that unaware. It was obvious at this point that he liked the way Jeno smelled, and then there was the fact that they were alpha and omega. As long as they were compatible, an omega would find an alpha’s scent to be attractive no matter how sweaty they were. If anything, Jeno working out only meant his smell was stronger. Clouding up the little locker room, making Renjun’s fingers fumble with the buttons on his shirt.

He hadn’t been properly scent marked by Jeno since that Sunday night almost two weeks ago. This sucked. Honestly, this whole month had gone to waste; Renjun first being a coward and turning Jeno down, and now this. 

“It’s ok,” Renjun said quietly, and then removed the dress shirt, shoving it unceremoniously down his backpack. He was wearing a thin t-shirt underneath, but pulled on a hoodie because he knew it was cold outside.

“Hey, can I ask you something?” Jeno said carefully as Renjun changed out of his dress shoes and into more comfortable sneakers. It made Renjun pause. What kind of ominous question was that?

“Yes?” 

“How come you don’t want anyone to know that you’re an omega?”

Not the question Renjun had expected. 

He fixed his hair in the mirror as he hummed in thought, eyes nervously flitting over to Jeno’s in the reflection. He hadn’t really ever talked to anyone about this. Only his family knew he was an omega, but none of them had any idea he was keeping it a secret from his friends.

“Well… I don’t know. I presented late. Like, really late. So… everyone in school were already thinking that I’m a beta. So I figured I’d roll with it, or something,” he said at last. 

“Huh. Ok,” Jeno went quiet for some time, and then; “And what about your friends?”

“What about them?”

“Well, I dunno,” Jeno scuffed his shoe against the floor. “I mean, this is just an observation. But actively lying to your friends doesn’t feel like just ‘rolling with it’.”

Renjun turned around. What now? He felt heat creep up his neck, this time very unpleasantly so. He felt as if Jeno was probing at something he didn’t want to quite address.

“So what? Maybe don’t want them to know,” he said.

Jeno looked a little taken aback. Renjun didn’t like it.

“But they’re your friends?”

That definitely sounded accusing in Renjun’s ears.

“I don’t see how this is any of your business,” Renjun said, and then immediately shrunk in on himself. Was that too snappish?

“Look, I-- I know it’s wrong to lie. Of course, and I feel like shit for doing that. But I mean, to be honest, presenting as an omega is probably one of the top three worst things that have ever happened to me. And people thinking that I’m a normal beta instead of some wimpy omega, that’s like, the only thing that has made this bearable,” he said.

Jeno opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it. Stared at him wide eyed.

Silence stretched out. When Jeno finally spoke, he sounded upset. 

“What is that supposed to mean? There is nothing wrong with being an omega. My mom is an omega, my sister too. There’s nothing… wimpy about being an omega. Being a beta doesn’t make you more worthy,” he said. His face was blank. Renjun realized he had never seen him angry before. It made Renjun’s stomach clench in no pleasant way, which was stupid. He had never been mindful about Jeno’s opinion of him before.

“That’s not what I meant,” Renjun said. “Omegas aren’t below betas in any way, I don’t need you to tell me that. But you are lying to yourself if you think omegas aren’t treated worse than betas.”

Jeno looked like he was about to say something, but in the end let Renjun speak.

“Omegas are treated like shit sometimes. You and I both know how some students talk about them in the hallways, the kind of words they throw around. I don’t think I’m in the wrong for wanting to be spared that.” 

Renjun was proud his voice didn’t wobble, but he still felt a little miserable. Like a coward, staring at the row of lockers instead of at Jeno. But then when he looked at Jeno again, the alpha didn’t look angry anymore.

“I’m sorry. Sorry, you’re right,” he pushed his bangs off his forehead and exhaled noisily. “I do know that. I didn’t think of it that way, but you’re right. I’m sorry if I sounded condescending, you know more about being an omega than I will ever do.”

He looked at Renjun, and Renjun looked back. He felt oddly worked up. It was probably biological, a typical omegan reaction - he’d never argued with an alpha like this before. There was Sicheng, but Sicheng was about the sweetest alpha around, and would always let Renjun have the last word. 

He couldn’t meet Jeno’s eyes for too long, looking everywhere but at him. Jeno made a soft sound and reached out for Renjun. His hands found Renjun’s, but it took some tugging for Renjun to be swayed into stepping closer.

Jeno reached up to rub his hand against Renjun’s neck, massaging his scent into Renjun’s skin. He felt his own shoulders droop, and a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding leave him as Jeno’s fingers dug into his hair. He crumpled, forehead dropping against Jeno’s.

Jeno smelled so good, almost all anxiety that had bubbled up left him at once.

“I haven’t told anyone. And I’ll pretend you’re a beta, if that’s what you want. But isn’t it hard? Not being yourself, having to hide?” Jeno said.

Renjun straightened up. Only thirty seconds up close with Jeno’s scent, and he almost felt drowsy. 

Jeno was right though. It was a lot of secret keeping. Being an omega, and now not wanting anyone to know he and Jeno was a thing. There was no use in lying; of course he felt guilty. Guilty for lying to his friends, but now as he stared down at the alpha who so adoringly stared back up at him, he felt guilty for making Jeno lie too. Lie for his sake.

“Mm, a little. But it’s ok, rather this than the alternative. And I mean, now you know. One less person I have to hide it from,” he shrugged. 

Jeno hummed in understanding. He used one of his hands he had been stroking comfortingly over Renjun’s back to nudge him closer. There was no way to go but in Jeno’s lap, but it was late and Renjun was tired. He didn’t have the energy to fight back just for the sake of his own pride, and let his instincts lead him now. He let Jeno pull him into his lap, and let the alpha get all close, brushing his nose against Renjuns jawline. Renjun shivered under his attention. 

“Makes sense though. I was wondering why your smell was so faint,” Jeno said, then after a beat, “are you on suppressants?”

That pulled Renjun to the surface. He blinked a couple of times as he processed Jeno’s words. His ears tingled with warmth. Jeno looked so earnest though, as though he was genuinely concerned. Somehow that only made Renjun blush harder.

“No, no. I take uh, birth control. One with scent blockers,” he said, trying to pull back a little, but Jeno pulled him closer.

“Well, that’s a shame. But I guess I’m a little happy only I get to know how delicious you smell,” Jeno said, and chuckled when Renjun scoffed. 

“Are you embarrassed? Why?” Jeno laughed softly. He tilted his head, trying to get Renjun to meet his gaze. Renjun didn’t like being teased, and suddenly took Jeno’s earlobe between his teeth, nipping the flesh.

“Hey!” Jeno said, jerking back. He tried for revenge, but Renjun laughed and smacked a hand over Jeno’s grinning mouth to stop him from further attacks. The alpha only removed the hand, before bringing it to his lips and pressing a kiss into the palm.

“Hey,” he said cheekily. “Did you have a good day?”

Renjun snorted, but Jeno looked at him as if he really wanted to know.

“It was ok. I had a presentation and I think I did well, but Chenle fell asleep in class and then I was the one who got in trouble with the teacher for waking him, can you believe?” he said, and then it hit him, “Oh, uh… Chenle knows about us, by the way.”

“Huh?” Jeno let go of Renjuns hand that he’d been toying with to pull Renjun closer by the waist. “Oh, I figured. Most of my friends already, uh, know about us too. I really didn’t say anything, but they figured it out on their own. You know how they are. Sorry?”

He didn’t look a bit sorry though, more like he was trying hard to hold back a smile, nose scrunching. Renjun had a terrible urge to kiss him then, which, wow. Slow down. As much as the idea felt right, it sent a jolt of nervosity through him. It had been years since he kissed anyone - the last kissed he shared with anyone was with Sicheng before he presented (if he didn’t count that one time Yukhei drunkenly tried to smooch him) and back then it had been all about first kisses, first bases and awkward fumblings, trying to get the hang of it with someone equally bad at it as him. He didn’t know how experienced Jeno was, but he knew Jeno had at least two ex girlfriends, and probably hadn’t been celibate for the last couple of years like Renjun virtually had. He would most likely be able to tell that Renjun was inexperienced, which was slightly mortifying. Like with most other aspects of their odd relationship, Renjun wanted to have the upper hand.

He felt Jeno squeeze his waist.

“Thinking a lot again?” he said. 

Renjun peered down at him. 

“What are you thinking about?”

He almost shook his head. Almost told Jeno to mind his own business, or that maybe Jeno should do some thinking of his own because it was evident that his head was empty (pulling pigtails, again) but Jeno’s fingers rubbed comfortingly against the small of his back, and his gaze was so steady, anchoring.

“That I want to kiss you,” Renjun said. He had to stare at Jeno in the most defiant of ways to not lose his posture, but there, at least he had said it.

Jeno didn’t look surprised, but Renjun caught how his eyes darted down to his mouth, then back up to his eyes.

“But you’re not kissing me. How come?” Jeno said after a while, seemingly understanding Renjun was struggling internally.

Renjun’s hands were resting on Jeno's shoulders. He fisted the fabric of his hoodie.

“Well, I haven’t kissed anyone in a long time,” he said. 

“Mm, I see. So now you’re a little shy?” Jeno said. Like he was speaking to a little kid, which made Renjun both annoyed and amused at the same time. He couldn’t help but let out a laugh, rolling his eyes.

“Shut up,” he laughed. For some reason, he suddenly felt less anxious about the situation.

His eyes flickered to Jeno’s for a second, before he looked to the side. He felt his face burning. soon it would probably spread to his whole body.

“Well, I guess,” he added quietly.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” Jeno said. It wasn’t teasing this time. He was asking for permission. Consent is cool. The thought almost made a laugh tear from Renjun’s throat again, and he found himself relaxing. It was hard to not relax in Jeno’s arms, when his fingers rubbed so soothingly against Renjun’s back.

He nodded, and that was all the permission Jeno had been waiting for.

He kissed Renjun.

It was careful, at first. Considerate. The way Jeno pressed a kiss to Renjun’s lips, then pulled back a fraction. So Renjun could take a step back, draw the line - that's enough for today. But Renjun didn't, so Jeno kissed him again. 

This time when he brushed his lips against Renjun’s, the omega kissed him back. Soft, soft kisses. Hesitant but eager all the same. Jeno held him close, and Renjun felt the last sliver of nervosity leave him. Maybe he was a rusty kisser; or a bad one, never learned properly in the first place, but Jeno didn't seem like he had a problem with that. And really, wasn't that how it always had been? Whatever Renjun would give, Jeno gratefully accepted.

The kisses remained almost childishly innocent. Renjun perched in Jeno's lap, the alpha pressing gentle kisses against his jaw, the corner of his mouth. Square on his lips. But after a while it was a little too gentle. Renjun grew restless, and tried to deepen the kiss, causing Jeno to pull back with a laugh ghosting against Renjun’s lips. 

His eyes trailed over Renjun’s face, glinting. He bit down on a smile, which was rude, because Renjun wanted to be the one to bite down on that lip.

"Renjun," Jeno said.

"What?" Renjun rebutted. Tried to get closer, but Jeno's hand was on his face, fingers holding him back by the chin.

"Nothing. Just… look at you," Jeno chuckled, almost as though he couldn't believe it. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since the first day of middle school. Am I dreaming right now?”

"Ugh, shut up. Kiss me."

Jeno laughed again, and then he closed the distance between them once more, kissing him softly. Lips back on Renjun's, where they belonged. A nip on Renjun’s lip caused him to suck in a breath, and soon Jeno was licking into his mouth. 

It was better than anything Renjun remembered. Having Jeno kiss him like this, bodies pressed so close. He couldn't smell anything but the alpha. The thick scent of alpha, deeper tones of arousal, and Renjun's body caught on before his brain did. Growing wet, but he barely noticed, distracted by Jeno’s mouth.

When Jeno rumbled in response to a sound Renjun made they broke off, and Jeno squeezed his eyes shut, dropping his forehead to Renjun’s shoulder.

“You smell so good,” he mumbled, rubbing his nose against Renjun’s skin. “You smell so, so good. Damn it.”

His fingers that had been rubbing circles on Renjun’s back had at some point travelled lower, fingertips somehow found their way almost inside the hem of Renjun’s pants. With a sharp exhale he lifted his head and straightened up. He hit the back of his head against the locker behind him, and Renjun laughed breathlessly.

“We really shouldn’t be doing this here,” Jeno said with a half-smile. Although every fibre of Renjun’s being wanted to protest, he knew Jeno was right. Jungwoo could walk in on them at any given moment, and he wasn't in the mood to traumatize his coworker. At least not today. “Let’s calm down, ok?”

He rubbed Renjun’s arms up and down in a calming gesture, and then pulled him in for a hug. They stayed like that, Jeno’s face tucked over Renjun’s shoulder and arms around his waist until Renjun felt like he wasn’t melting to the floor anymore, but simply cared for, which was weird. He wasn't used to Jeno having a calming effect on him; the boy had made him want to rip his own hair out since middle school.

Minutes must have passed. When they separated, Renjun fixed Jeno’s hair, and then he jumped off his lap, grabbing his jacket and backpack.

"Let's go then," he said, and managed to sound as if he had been impatiently waiting for Jeno. The alpha smiled at him fondly.

The night was cold, November soon to give way to December. They ended up holding hands on the way home, Jeno sneaking Renjun's hand into his, but Renjun didn't complain because Jeno's hand was warm. He felt a little dumb waddling around in his thick padded jacket while Jeno only wore a hoodie, but the alpha insisted he ran hot, which well, wasn't entirely unbelievable since most alphas did.

They ended up talking about mundane things, like Jeno's upcoming taekwondo matches, Renjun's co-workers and how to work the espresso machine, but it was nice. Renjun went on a rant on why everyone should work in customer service at least once in their life, and Jeno only listened, looking content and happy to do so, and Renjun was struck by the thought that he wanted to kiss him again. They were walking and the air was cold so he didn't want to stop, but the thought that he could kiss Jeno in the future, whenever he'd feel like it, warmed him from the inside and out.

He hated to admit it, but this dumb alpha was growing on him. And if Renjun thought about it, maybe there had always been spot in his life for Jeno. He’d just been fighting it all these years.

"Walk me to the door?" Renjun said when they reached their street. His house came up first, but Renjun didn't really want to part quite yet. Tomorrow he would probably pretend like he'd been in a rush to part with Jeno, but right now he allowed himself to be a little clingy.

Jeno followed him obediently, and Renjun pulled him in when they had climbed the stairs. He made Jeno kiss him goodnight, which led to an impromptu makeout session with Renjun pressed up against the door, Jeno's warm hands on his waist, tucked inside his padded jacket.

"Thank you for coming to see me," Renjun said when they at last parted. Jeno's lips were kiss bitten, cheeks blooming from the cold and Renjun pecked him one last time. "You know, after your practice."

Jeno blinked at him slowly, as if trying to process his words.

"Of course," he said. "Of course."

He draped his body against Renjun's, burying his nose in his neck again, and they stood there like that for a long moment. The November night wasn't that cold anymore, not with the warmth shared between them.

Eventually Jeno pulled back though. He looked at Renjun with a pinched expression, like there were so many things he wanted to say at once, but couldn't put a word to it.

“I’m really happy you texted me,” he said. “Jaemin told me to chill out and give you some space but I swear I was about to burst out of my skin or something.”

Jaemin what now? Renjun held back a big sigh.

“Why would he say that?” Renjun said.

“Uh, well you said you wanted to take things slow, so…”

Renjun sighed this time. Though, maybe he shouldn’t blame Jaemin but himself.

"Oh," Jeno suddenly exclaimed. "Do you want to borrow my hoodie?"

Renjun watched him pull the hoodie over his head with big eyes, slow to react. The same hoodie he'd worn after practice? It would stink up the entire floor Renjun's bedroom was on. Not that Renjun had anything against that, but his parents would definitely ask questions.

"Wait, you'll be cold," Renjun said when Jeno tried to hand him the hoodie.

"It's just across the street."

"Jeno."

"Take it or I will stand here and freeze to death while trying to convince you!"

"Ugh, fine!"

He took the damn hoodie, and Jeno kissed him goodnight, and then jogged off with a goofy grin on his lips, his breath fogging the air.

"Dumbass," Renjun laughed after him, and then got inside once he'd made sure Jeno had gotten safely across the street.

His parents did ask questions about the hoodie, but they were relatively chill parents who didn't pry too much in their kid's life. He got away with some mumbling about his neighbor and a little blushing, and then cozied up in bed and discovered that he had gotten a text from Jeno wishing him good night. He stared at the heart emoji for what must have been five minutes and thought about what Chenle had said about those heart emojis. He then sent Jeno a reply that Chenle would have been proud of, burrowed under the blankets and fell asleep. 

The next morning, his stomach turned with nerves, but he powered through them. Kept reminding himself of how good he'd felt the previous night as he ate breakfast and got ready for school. He changed out of his sleepwear and into jeans and a tee, took one quick look in the mirror to make sure his hair looked ok, and then slipped Jeno's hoodie on.

He knew what it looked like. Correction: he knew what it smelled like, and judging by Jeno’s face when they met up out on the driveway five minutes later, the alpha understood the implications of it too.

Renjun wiggled his fingers at Jeno to make him take his hand, and did his best to play it cool.

"Well, let's go then," he said.