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Yes, yes, before you ask, Baekhyun knows.

 

Yes, he knows it is hard being an unmated omega. He knows it is even harder being an unmated omega during heats. He knows it’s hardest when you are a public celebrity, slave to a fan’s whims and fancies (and love and support, of course) so you cannot date anyone freely, nor can you bring an alpha or a beta home to help you through the days of pain because who’s going to deal with the paps that will follow him on the way? No thanks, Koreabee.

 

No, Baekhyun’s only allowed to take some pills and go through it. A heating pad helps. His gentle, organised, anal beta of a manager is kind enough to find him alphas covertly to help him too, or fetch him sex toys if needed. But Baekhyun is nothing if not stubborn. He would rather sit on his couch with a heating pad and a decent supply of marzipan Ritter Sports and extra cheesy Doritos to switch between as he watches the new Umbrella Academy season and goes through the pain. It will get worse eventually, which is when he’ll take the old sex toys out, but until then he simply wants to sit and sulk. Because, yes, you may not ask but what precedes a heat is the extreme emotional upheaval that demands both chocolates and Doritos to be consumed despite strict idol diets. Sorry to Junmyeon but it is biology, Baekhyun swears.

 

“It’s not that I don’t want an alpha to spend this with, you know?” Baekhyun tells Minseok, who has been looking at him instead of the screen for the past ten minutes. He’s simply more of an Expanse guy, Umbrella Academy is just not his type. Old soul and all that.

 

“I just,” he munches on, “don’t want it to be someone I don’t know. I don’t want to spend it with some random man. What if I don’t like him? What if he has a hairy back? God, Minseok, alphas can be so gross, can you even imagine….”

 

Unfortunately, Minseok can, and he does shudder in response. He has no argument to offer, so he tuts, picks a Dorito and chews on. Backstreet Boys blast from the screen. “I am sexual,” Baekhyun continues. “Right?”

 

“Yeah,” Minseok drawls. “Sure.”

 

It’s a while before either speaks up. One-third of their trio sleeps in his room, but there seems to be no sleep in sight for Baekhyun who is determined to finish this season tonight and Minseok, who has just taken his wine bottle out.

 

“Will this help?” the beta asks Baekhyun, who seems to consider it. “I think it will bloat me up, it will probably feel worse down there later.”

 

Minseok does not argue further, but does ask if there is any other way he can help his friend.

 

Baekhyun looks at him gratefully, smiling despite his pain. “It’s fine, hyung. I’ll be fine, you know me!”

 

“I do, and that’s why…” Minseok sighs. “That’s why I ask you, because you never ask.” Baekhyun’s eyes are cast down on his lap when Minseok ruffles his hair. “It’s okay to rely on someone once in a while, Hyun-ah. I know it’s terrifying to let go, but aren’t you my bravest dongsaeng?”

 

Baekhyun does not know where the pain that has watered his eyes originated from, but he wipes them with the back of his sleeve regardless. Cannot have all the Dorito dust getting in there on top of everything. He cannot find his voice to say anything to his hyung, who’s humming Bad Guy as it plays on the screen. It is a quiet night, and they do manage to finish season 2 that day.

 


 

Long before Baekhyun had debuted with Minseok and Jongdae as CBX, they had been trainees under their company. Each day they would spend almost ten hours together in a practice room covering everything under the sun they had to learn to become the idols they eventually became. This involved extensive vocal training such as covering every single DBSK song known to the South Korean peninsula (Minseok particularly enjoyed this); daily exercise to build up muscle, stamina and flexibility, personality training from special coaches who would come by once in a week to assess them on how they appeared to the general eye, and, of course, dance practice— at which Baekhyun and Jongdae, owing to their late entry into the company, were quite terrible. For this reason, two other trainees— Sehun and Jongin, who had later debuted under their own performance group, had taken them under their wings and decided to help them out. It was a nice camaraderie between the five of them, much of it owed to Minseok who had spent a long time with Jongin and Sehun in the company. Baekhyun would stay with Sehun even after practice hours to understand the sharpness of movement. He was as much awed by Sehun as he was jealous. While Jongin had a strong core which ensured flawless balance and control on his feet— both qualities that flourished later, Sehun bore a much more unique quality of making his isolations shine. There was not a single step he did where his entire body did not seem to be coordinating, it felt like a string was pulling him together. Baekhyun would watch Sehun for hours before trying himself, finding it difficult to isolate as well as him. Sharp dance requires muscle, which Sehun, of course, had much more than him. Still, Baekhyun improved slowly but surely. He could soon see his torso and arms shine through better, hold themselves better. And it was in one such session, when, mesmerised by his own improvement, Baekhyun went too far.

 

It wasn’t that far, of course. It was a ligament tear. Which heals eventually, but tends to hit one in the capacity of a firetruck. Baekhyun had screamed louder than Minseok during any DBSK chorus in karaoke. Sehun had called for help and a manager had rushed them to the hospital straight away. But Baekhyun never forgot the pain he felt the entire journey until it subsided eventually. He just had not had any major injuries in his life, so the pain had been striking, to say the least.

 

And yet, today, on this fine sunny morning where sparrows seemed to chirp outside his bedroom window and a nice breeze cooled off the sweat on his face, Baekhyun would take a thousand ligament tears over the pain in his gut.

 

There is dignity in saying his heat this year was quite painful. There is truth in saying it hurt like a fucking bitch.

 

Awake and sweaty, Baekhyun could only take a deep breath and wait in silence for the pain to pass. Or subside. There was no Sehun to save him now, not that Baekhyun would ask Junmyeon to call him anyway. The boy was his darling alpha baby and Baekhyun would run himself over with a truck before thinking of him or Jongin sexually. No, all Baekhyun needed was his painkillers and some water and some batteries for his old vibrator (really, he should look up that novelty adult fantasy toys shop he found on Etsy the other day again, they even had cute bags to keep the cute fantasy dildos in).

“Ugh, Jongdae,” he groaned. “Can you get me some water?”

There was no response. Baekhyun was confused. Wouldn’t Jongdae be up by now? He even slept early last night. He unlocked his phone before calling the boy. It might be an inconvenience to be woken up like that but this was a minor emergency.

Two rings. No response. Then two to Minseok which went un-responded as well. Baekhyun groaned at the automated voice to shut up before throwing his phone across. It landed with a thump the same moment that Baekhyun pulled himself together and decided to sit up, pressing his eyes shut for the impending vertigo. Once the wooziness had passed, he left to fetch some water for himself.

Their dorm was eerily quiet for 9AM. Usually, Minseok would be up and cleaning by now while Jongdae watched the news. But there was not a soul in sight as Baekhyun gulped half a bottle of water in a single breath and took the rest to his room to eat his suppressant and painkiller. Stranger things have happened, he shrugged.

 

“Of course, how could I challenge the universe like that?” Baekhyun ranted to himself once he was in his room. His precious room, where he stored all his precious things, such as his pills, which were, thanks to the universe accepting challenges really quickly today, missing. Which meant he had run out. Which meant that now he would have to run out to get some, because Jongdae and Minseok had decided that the first day of his heat offered the perfect opportunity to play mini golf at 9 in the morning, or whatever it is that they were doing while he pulled his robe together and locked their dorm after making sure the two were not sleeping in their rooms, leaving for the pharmacy across their building. God forbid if they were, Baekhyun would murder them himself.

 

The trip itself was not difficult, which is why it was easier to go there himself than have Junmyeon come over. “It’s only a few minutes,” he told himself as he crossed the road. “Let’s do this Baekhyun-ah.”

 

It was indeed a few minutes, and Baekhyun-ah did manage to do this. To some degree. He was inside the pharmacy waiting for the boy across the counter to fetch his suppressant, eager to be done, playing with the batteries he had picked up for his vibrator because two birds one Baekhyun and all that. It was a fine, normal day in Seoul, nothing out of the ordinary happening in the life of our protagonist— until, of course, it did.

 

“Uh, excuse me?” a voice spoke next to Baekhyun.

 

Startled, the boy let out an undignified squeak before turning to his side. Yes, before you ask again, Baekhyun should know this is a cliche moment. He has seen enough films to remember that the most eventful encounters of life happen at places as inconsequential as grocery stores, and that anything can be around the corner of your spot in the pharmacy. But, really, he was alone in a pharmacy waiting for his medicine just wanting to go munch on the granola bar they had nicely displayed in front of the counter for hedonists like him. Can anyone blame him for not thinking of the gravitas?

 

“Yes?” he asked, his eyebrow quirked as high up as his neck, because this man in front of him was quite tall.

 

“Umm, this..” he mumbled, looking at his hands. Which were quite big. Baekhyun looked at them too. They held a pack of batteries identical to the ones in his hand. Not understanding what that was supposed to mean, Baekhyun looked up again only to have the man crowd him further until they were merely inches apart and our protagonist could take a good whiff of his scent while he placed the batteries where they belonged. To Baekhyun’s heat addled, sensitive, thirsty nose, he smelled like what cool water felt. On a hot day. In the middle of summer. Under the sun.

 

“Oh….” he could only whisper when the tall alpha parted. Alpha.

 

“Will you pay now?” a third voice asked, and the two of them turned around to see the pharmacist waiting for a response with a cylindrical orange box in his hands.

 

Baekhyun tutted. “These are the steroidal ones. I want the non-steroidal ones. Can you just give me the ones I asked for?” The pharmacist offers him a blank look before going on a search again.

 

“That’s probably a good decision, my sister avoids those too,” the alpha next to him commented.

 

Baekhyun did not let his surprise at the alpha still being there show, he was too distracted by his usual rant. “That’s smart! There’s so much misinformation about these painkillers out there and they only make heats worse, you know? The steroidal ones have so many side effects—like, it literally ranges from acne to cysts of all things! I don’t want to break out but I also don’t want to have a surgery because my heat was too painful! The medical industry is just an embarrassment to omegas everywhere, I swear…”

 

“I know! They literally just want to sell you drugs and want you to shut up about your pain,” the alpha nodded along.

 

Thank you… Sorry, what’s your name?”

 

“Chanyeol.”

 

“Thank you Chanyeol! At least some alphas get it!”

 

Chanyeol only hummed as Baekhyun huffed, feeling disgruntled all of a sudden. It never failed to anger him how unfair the world could be to omegas in every aspect. He had lived his life surrounded by all kinds of wolves, but he always felt there were moments when his burdens seemed heavier to carry than Minseok or Jongdae’s by virtue of him being an omega.

 

“So, you don’t have someone to help you through the heat?” Chanyeol asked him as the pharmacist made his way back and started billing Baekhyun’s items. “No,” Baekhyun answered with a sheepish smile.

 

“Fancy that, for an omega like you,” Chanyeol proceeded to place his items on the counter while Baekhyun collected his. That was flirting, right? Chanyeol was definitely flirting, right? Baekhyun could ask him to help out, right? Sure, he didn’t know Chanyeol, but at least the alpha had not been picked up at a bar or something. And he didn’t seem to have hair on his back. He was tall, with big eyes and a deep voice and the kind of brown-black hair Baekhyun thinks gives any boy more maturity and edge over a bleached blonde. He even had clean nails— Baekhyun noticed! That’s enough to predict an alpha is decent, right?

 

The conflict stole from him the only moment and confidence he could have had to ask Chanyeol the question he had prepared in his mind. Maybe you would like to help? was left on the tip of his tongue while Chanyeol conversed with the cashier. It would be awkward to keep standing there, so Baekhyun left the store quickly. But our protagonist was a strong believer of the power of self. If the universe had not willed the perfect arc for his meet-cute today, he could simply stand outside and enjoy his granola bar under the sun before leaving. If Chanyeol left the same way— which he would because there was only one door, then so be it. If he noticed Baekhyun, that’s that.

 

“You’re here!” Chanyeol was smiling at him when he did notice, and Baekhyun had to gulp the last of his granola down before nodding.

 

“Need some energy to cross the road, I haven’t eaten anything all morning,” Baekhyun smiled sheepishly. Again. What was it about this alpha reducing him to sheepish smiles?

 

Concern flashed across Chanyeol’s face. “Is it really that bad?”

 

Baekhyun nodded in pout. He was bringing all the guns out today.

 

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like some help?” Chanyeol enquired, sincere concern apparent as he held Baekhyun’s elbow. “Let me at least drop you close to your home so that I know you’ll reach in one piece.”

 

Baekhyun felt like melting a little. It was not the sun. “I live across the street,” he spoke very quietly. If one can do that, because he did.

 

“Let’s go then,” Chanyeol smiled. He held Baekhyun’s hand as they crossed the road, Seoul mornings allowing no easy respite from traffic. But the alpha was patient and careful, never crossing boundaries—physically or otherwise, and yet making Baekhyun feel like he would be just fine around him. He asked Baekhyun for his phone once they had reached his building.

 

“Call me, when you need to,” he told Baekhyun as he handed his phone back. The omega thanked him politely. His pain was starting to take a toll again, his body demanding suppressants or Chanyeol’s scent all around him. “Take care, okay? I’ll be around,” the alpha smiled before pushing his hands inside his jacket’s pockets and turning around, heading back. Even if Baekhyun was tempted to call him, he knew he could only tempt fate so much. It was the suppressants for now, Chanyeol’s scent would have to wait.