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Two is Better Than None

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Renjun walked into the General Chemistry class, hand in hand with Jeno. It was one of the few classes they didn’t share with Jaemin as he had higher level science due to his major. So while Jaemin had lectures and lab all day, Renjun spent most of their day in shared general credits with Jeno, only sharing time for a quick lunch together. He walked to the table they shared with their other lab partner, Seonghun, sitting down and pulling out his notebook.

“I’ll go get the lab writeup packet for today.” Jeno leaned in to press a kiss to his cheek.

Renjun turned to greet their lab partner, nodding with a smile and wave. “Hey. Good luck at the game tonight.”

“Thanks.” Seonghun sat at the table across from Renjun raising an eyebrow. “Hey, why do you smell like your mate’s roommate?”

“Uhm, what?” Renjun felt his face flush slightly. It wasn't that he was embarrassed or ashamed of his mates, but he knew the public misconceptions and some of the harsher views on trio mating.

Seonghun leaned across the lab table, frowning at Renjun. “You aren’t cheating on Jeno, are you?”

Renjun flinched back, catching himself from falling backwards off the stool. “Of course not, Jaemin is also-”

“If you’re not cheating on him, why do you smell so much like Jaemin? He scented you, it’s obvious by how strong the scent is. And if you’re not cheating on Jeno, there’s not really any reason for his roommate to be scenting you. You’re already mated, and you smell like another person. The only other excuse would be the myth of trio mating. But everyone knows that’s an unnatural and made-up thing. Nobody can have two mates.”

Renjun felt himself curl in on himself, trying to ignore the words. It wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before, but now that he was actually someone involved in the situation, it was much different. He knew that everything the classes had said about trio mating was wrong.

The feel of a hand on his shoulder made Renjun jump and he turned to see Jeno and smiled. He tried to push the words out of his mind. Turning his eyes to the packet on the table between them. Focus on the lab, there is no reason to let Seonghun’s words get to him.

As they read through the instructions for the lab, Renjun pulled off the hoodie he had been wearing (that had originally belonged to Jaemin) so it wouldn’t potentially get hurt from the experiment. He ducked under the lab table to pack the hoodie away in his bag, but first took a moment to bury his face in the fabric. Jaemin’s scent was always so relaxing, and he felt the need to have that tiny reminder to get through the lab today.

Renjun ignored the two different looks from both Jeno and Seonghun, turning his attention to the lab write up packet. Science wasn’t his worst subject, but it was probably the class he struggled with the language issue the most. So hopefully focusing on the lab for the day could push Seonghun’s words out of his mind. Or at least push them to the back of his mind where they wouldn’t be so prominent.

For most of the lab, Renjun managed to keep his attention focused on the experiment. The lab period was three hours and using most of his mental focus on the language and the experiment (that seemed to be more advanced or complex than the last few weeks) left him exhausted and he was glad they had a free break before dinner where he could drag his mates off to nap. If he asked, he was fairly sure he could get Jaemin to skip one of his study group meetings to curl up together.

The thought made him smile to himself as he started to work on cleaning things up from the experiment. During one of the first labs they had sorted out duties within their group, and Renjun had been given the task of cleaning things up. Renjun was carrying a beaker to be cleaned when one of the seniors in the class who he never really interacted with startled him from his thoughts.

“Hey, omega, watch out.”

Renjun jumped slightly at the voice behind him, also the mistaken subgendering. The beaker slipped from his hand and the sound of the glass hitting the floor made him stumble, his hip hitting the lab table next to him. A soft gasp escaped his mouth as he quickly bent down to pick up the pieces of glass. The sound of footsteps hurrying over made his hand slip slightly, a hiss slipped out at the sharp sting of the glass cutting the palm of his hand.

“Junnie, are you okay?”

Jeno’s voice was concerned and Renjun turned to blink at him for a moment before turning back to the glass. He reached to pick up more of the glass before Jeno’s hand on his wrist stopped him. The hold on his wrist was light as he was pulled away. He followed the gentle pull of Jeno’s hand on his wrist, standing slowly.

“Come on, Junnie. We need to take care of your hand.” Jeno’s voice was soft, and Renjun could see the worry on his face.

“But-“ Renjun gestured at the remaining pieces of glass on the floor. “I need to clean this up before someone else gets hurt.”

Jeno’s hand tightened slightly around his wrist and he shook his head, a worried frown on his face. “You’re hurt, and we’re going to fix that first. I’ll get Seonghun to clean it up. Now come here.”

While the slight amount of alpha push in Jeno’s voice didn’t affect Renjun as much since he was a beta, he still let himself be pulled off to the emergency aid station in the lab. He only vaguely heard Jeno ask Seonghun to clean up the glass as they walked past their lab table. Jeno’s grip loosened slightly when they reached the aid station and he pulled Renjun’s hand under the water.

“Thankfully it was just distilled water in the beaker. If you had dropped one of the others-“ Jeno’s voice trailed off as he gently pulled Renjun’s hand closer to check the cut. “I don’t think there’s any glass caught in your hand, but we’re going to the health center anyways.”

Renjun wanted to argue but the frown on Jeno’s face made the words catch in his throat. He flinched slightly at the feel of the gauze Jeno had placed over the cut. He caught the slight wince on Jeno’s face and Renjun reached his other hand to lightly rest on Jeno’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

Jeno shook his head, “You don’t need to apologise. Now let’s go. I’ll grab our things and we’ll leave. I can email the TA and explain, or Seonghun can let him know.”

Renjun watched as Jeno rushed back to their lab table and spoke with Seonghun for a moment as he haphazardly packed up both of their bags, Seonghun nodding at him, before he rushed back over, taking Renjun’s other hand in his. “Jeno, I can-“ He started to reach for his own bag but Jeno shook his head and began to walk out of the lab.

The walk to the health center was thankfully short as Renjun could practically feel the worry radiating from Jeno. He felt ridiculous as it wasn’t even a bad cut, but Jeno seemed to be almost overreacting. He knew that some of the reaction could be simply Jeno’s alpha subconscious reaction to his mate being injured, as he had learned was a serious response in the classes a few years ago, so he tried to overlook it and let Jeno pull him along, even if he just wanted to go back to the dorm room that both his mates shared and curl up for a nap.

Once they reached the health center, Renjun was even more exhausted. The nurse who greeted them glanced between them before leading them back into the examination area. Renjun partially tuned out the questions she was asking as Jeno would almost instantly answer before he had a chance to say anything in response. When they were settled and the nurse took Renjun’s hand to pull the gauze away, he winced slightly at the sting.

“It’s fine, honestly, just a small cut. He’s overreacting.” Renjun tried to explain to the nurse, who just shook her head with a tsk-ing noise.

“Your mate is right to have brought you in. It looks like you might need more than just a simple bandage. I’ll go get something to clean this with and be right back to check this out better.” She turned and walked out before he could respond.

Renjun sighed softly and curled in on himself slightly. Jeno stepped over and gently rubbed a hand over his back, which only made Renjun feel worse as he could tell by the tenseness in the way Jeno stood that he was still worried. There was a slight commotion outside the examination area and Renjun bit his lip at the sight of Jaemin rushing over, looking like he had just ran all the way from the building where he had class. “Jaemin-”

Jaemin rushed over and threw his arms around Renjun in a hug, burying his face in Renjun’s neck for a moment. Renjun flinched slightly as his hand was pushed closed against his chest, and Jaemin jumped back with a frown. “Junnie, are you okay? I’m sorry. Here, let me see.”

The sound of someone clearing their throat made Renjun jump and he tried to pull his hand back from Jaemin, who had quickly grabbed it to examine the cut. The nurse stood with a frown, a tray of supplies in her hands. “Okay, you can’t be back here. Renjun-ssi’s mate is here, so please wait in the lobby.”

Jaemin frowned and straightened up, turning to the nurse. “I’m his mate too. We both are. Now can we take care of his hand? The reason he’s here?”

Renjun saw the nurse’s expression change as she glanced between the three of them before shaking her head and he bit his lip nervously. “You can’t both be his mates. And now since you’re going to be difficult, I’m going to need you both to leave.”

He could tell that both of them were about to protest, and Renjun gently reached to put his hand on Jeno’s arm before shaking his head at Jaemin. “It’s okay, I’ll be fine. You can go wait for me, it won’t take long.” His voice shook slightly, but he tried to sound as convincing as he could, giving them a small smile.

Jeno seemed to hesitate and Renjun gently nudged his shoulder, trying to get him to go without causing any fuss. He nodded and waved off towards the lobby. “Go ahead, it’s fine. I’ll be right out.” He gently pushed Jeno again. He turned back to Jaemin, motioning off towards the lobby. “Jaemin, just-“

Renjun could tell Jaemin wanted to argue, and he gently squeezed his arm. When Jaemin stood he let out the breath he had been holding unconsciously. What he didn’t expect was Jaemin to turn and grab his face before leaning down to press his lips to his. The kiss wasn’t how it normally was with Jaemin, and Renjun pushed away slightly raising an eyebrow.

Jaemin turned to the nurse with a pointed look before grabbing Jeno’s hand and pulling him along to the lobby and Renjun turned from them to look back at the nurse in apology. “I’m sorry, he’s-“

The nurse shook her head before reaching for his injured hand. “Your … friends are worried. I’ve seen mates who care less.”

Renjun nodded and bit his lip nervously. “Yeah. It’s still new, so-“

“Your first college friends. Hopefully it will all work out. I still keep in touch with my freshman roommate from college.”

Renjun nodded with a slight hum. Of course she wouldn’t believe that they’re all three mates. That’s just a strange anomaly. Extremely rare and unlikely. He flinched at the sting on his hand from where the nurse was now wrapping a bandage around his hand.

“It didn’t need stitches, but you’ll need to be careful and keep the bandage clean and change the dressing regularly. And if anything happens, come back right away.” The nurse wasn’t looking at him and he nodded. “Do you know how to change the dressing?”

“Of course. And Jaemin is Pre-Med, so I have help if needed.”

The nurse gave him a sour look and Renjun shrank in on himself slightly. “Come back in if you have any questions or issues.”

Renjun nodded, glancing down at his hands. “Yes, of course.” He stood, glancing towards the lobby. “Do I need to do anything else?”

The nurse handed him a sheet of paper with a slight frown. “Take this to the front desk. I’m sure your friends are waiting.”

“Thank you.” Renjun took the paper with a slight bow before turning to walk back out towards the lobby. He bit his lip nervously, trying to push aside all the looks and words that had been thrown at him all day. There was nothing wrong with his mating situation. Trio mating is not the unnatural thing that the classes had taught him. People were just misunderstanding, because they didn’t know any different.

When he reached the lobby, he was almost tackled in a hug from Jaemin. Renjun jumped and pulled away slightly, his face turned away. “Junnie? Is everything okay?” Renjun could hear the worry in his voice and it hurt a little.

“It’s fine, let’s just go.” Renjun walked over to the front desk and filled out the short form before he was given permission to leave.

As he walked back towards the doors and his mates, he kept his head down, avoiding their eyes. He didn’t think he could handle seeing the worry and hurt in their eyes. They were both already so attuned to each other that Renjun was sure they would both have similar expressions. It wouldn’t be any surprise, Jeno and Jaemin had known each other and been mated before they even knew of Renjun. So of course they would be closer.

“Junnie, stop.” Jeno’s voice was worried and the feel of Jaemin taking his uninjured hand made him stop in the middle of the sidewalk. “Tell us what’s wrong.”

Jaemin gave his hand a light squeeze before gently pulling him closer. “That nurse was just a bitch. Don’t listen to her.”

Renjun shook his head, still not able to meet their eyes. “It’s not the first time I've heard that. Besides, that’s what they teach in the classes so-“

“So the classes are wrong. Renjun, look at me.” Jeno’s voice was firm and Renjun slowly glanced up at him. The expression on his face was so full of love Renjun felt his eyes water unintentionally. Jeno gently cupped his face with one hand and leaned in to press a soft kiss to his lips before pulling back only slightly. “You are our mate. Both of ours. You’re mine. You’re Jaemin’s. And we are both yours. You don’t belong anywhere else or with someone else.”

Jaemin switched his hand that was holding Renjun’s and shifted to curl against Renjun’s back, wrapping his arms around him. “Ours.” Renjun could feel Jaemin’s breath against his neck before he placed a kiss against the side of his neck. “Let’s go take a nap. You look exhausted Junnie.”

Before they could pull apart, Renjun heard a familiar voice. “Get a room.” Renjun turned to see Donghyuck walking over with a smirk. Jaemin’s arms tightened slightly and Renjun laughed softly.

“We have one. Besides, the salty singles club meeting is in the other direction, Donghyuck.” Renjun managed a small grin and leaned back against Jaemin. While he felt a little better, he was still emotionally drained and was definitely looking forward to the previously mentioned nap.

Donghyuck stopped beside them, raising an eyebrow at Renjun. “So what’s with the affection pile in the middle of the sidewalk? Jaemin’s a leech so he doesn’t surprise me, but you’re usually not one for PDA.”

Renjun held up his bandaged hand. “An accident in Chemistry.”

“And the nurse was a bitch.” Jaemin cut in, shifting to look at Donghyuck almost surely with a glare on his face as well. Donghyuck raised an eyebrow before glancing back to the health center before turning back to them, and Jaemin answered before he could ask. “More of the ignorant bullshit. She’s probably just a crusty old maid and was jealous.”

Renjun sighed and squeezed Jaemin’s hand and both him and Donghyuck laughed. “It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, almost every day. Today was just multiples. But it’s fine, I’ll get over it.”

“Do I need to go kick someone’s ass? Or actually Jeno can do that, he’s probably a better fighter. Because of the sports and all.” Donghyuck grinned at Jeno who looked almost confused before turning back to Renjun with a frown.

“What do you mean multiples? Who else said anything today?” Jeno’s voice had a slight edge to it and Renjun curled back against Jaemin, dropping his eyes.

“Seonghun doesn’t know that we’re all three mates, he was just asking if I was cheating on you with Jaemin because of the scenting.” Renjun squirmed slightly as Jaemin pressed his face into the crook of Renjun’s neck again, lightly teasing him. “Would you stop?” Renjun grumbled, although he didn’t put any true meaning behind the words. “Anyways, then he just said how trio mating is a myth and unnatural and all of that sort.”

Donghyuck scoffed and shook his head. “Stupid jocks. I bet he doesn’t have any brain cells left.”

Jeno made an indignant noise and frowned at Donghyuck. “Hey! I’m on the soccer team too!”

“I know.” Renjun saw Donghyuck smirk and he had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. “Now you three need to go be cute somewhere else. I’ve filled my quota of required time around disgusting couples.”

“Ah yes, the salty singles rehabilitation strategy. Have fun on your own.” Renjun laughed softly.

Donghyuck made a face before crossing his arms over his chest. “At least I don’t have two people I’m forced to baby.”

Renjun smirked in return. “Two is better than none.”

Donghyuck shook his head with a huff before waving them off and starting to walk towards wherever he had originally been going. “Oh go away and be disgustingly cute. I’ll see you in class tomorrow, Renjun.”

Renjun laughed and waved. “See you tomorrow. Good luck, Donghyuckkie.” Renjun turned back to Jeno, talking to both of his mates. “I remember mention of a nap?”

Jaemin nodded against his neck and pressed a quick kiss to the side of his neck before pulling away to just hold Renjun’s hand. “Let’s go. I texted Hyunmin to have him copy a set of notes for me. I have much more important and better things to do than sit in a library study room with some of the classmates I don’t like much.”